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The following is a guest post by my friend Jenna Rader. I am excited to have Jenna’s leap into the blogging world here on Raising Inspiration. She has such a wonderful spirit and I know that you will enjoy her writing as much as I do! Show her some love! 

At nearly seventy years of age, my mother underwent her third hip replacement surgery on the same joint. The surgeon botched the first surgery by inserting an oversized apparatus. Several months later, when she was still unable to walk and one leg was an inch longer than the other, the doctors finally admitted the mistake and scheduled another replacement surgery.

After the second surgery and several more months of pain and inability to walk, my mother discovered that the second hip replacement apparatus had been recalled by the manufacturer due to reports of severe allergic reactions in patients.  In the third surgery, the doctor reported that the site where the apparatus was located was covered with tumors. Not only was her hip-joint replaced for a third time, reconstruction was conducted on much of the tissue.

Upon awakening from this third surgery, my mother, still groggy from anesthetic, asked the nurse’s aide if she knew about the Bible App that she could access on her phone. She tried to download it for her and when she was unable to, I received the following text:

Text Message

 

Rather than being bitter and angry from the numerous surgeries, the inability to walk for nearly three years and the trauma that has been caused to her body through no fault of her own, my mother continually chooses a good attitude and possesses a beautiful godly spirit. She always shares God’s love with others.

She may never be able to walk without help again. I know that she will continue to have joy and spread God’s blessings no matter the circumstance.

Paul, writing from prison, possessed this same attitude – an attitude of joy because of the grace and love that God has bestowed upon his children. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13

This kind of joy is not a human-based happiness or an emotion that comes and goes. True joy is divine in origin and emanates from the grace of God. It is a spirit-given expression of God’s grace that flourishes best in hard times. It is a timeless joy that flows out of people directly from God.

And I want to be just like that.

 

The following is a guest post by Mandy Karo. I first met Mandy in college when we both joined Pi Zeta Phi during college. After hearing about my diagnosis Mandy reached out to me as she is also living with Lupus. I am so thrilled to have her share her story. She has wonderful insight, show her some love! 

Middle school is a tough time for most kids. When I was in eighth grade, I was in the midst of a very difficult transition with my two best friends. We had been inseparable in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. I remember the gym teacher saying weMandy's guest post were “joined at the hip.” But in eighth grade, they were drifting away from me and becoming a part of the popular girls group. For a young teen this felt like the ultimate abandonment and rejection. I remember feeling a lot of loneliness, stress, and anger. It was in the middle of this drama that something much worse was piled on to make my teen years even harder. I was diagnosed with Lupus.

I had been having odd symptoms for a while. In sixth grade I started having strange stomach aches. The doctors thought I might have ulcers so I had to have a stomach x-ray. It was awful—the stuff you have to drink so they can x-ray you is disgusting! There were no ulcers found so life went on. In seventh grade I began feeling tired in the afternoons. But what happened in eighth grade was what led to my diagnosis. I started getting purple spots on my feet and ankles, especially when I was upset or stressed out. My feet and ankles would also swell up. At first we thought maybe I was allergic to the laundry detergent my mom used but switching it didn’t help. The worst time was when one of my teachers accidentally ran over my ankle with a TV cart. The purple spots showed up and I got so swollen I couldn’t walk on that foot. It hurt to put shoes on.

When we showed my family doctor the spots, she was perplexed so she looked up what it could be. She named off a number of possibilities and one of them was Lupus. I really had no idea what Lupus was, but I had heard the name before, and I knew it was some sort of serious disease. I started to cry. We were sent to Children’s Hospital in Denver to see a rheumatologist. They did blood work and the doctor asked me a few questions about my symptoms. Then just like that, he told me I had Lupus, gave me some packets about it, and prescribed medications for me to take. It felt odd that it was so quick. Even my parents continued on acting normal. Didn’t they know that I was just diagnosed with an awful, potentially life-threatening disease? Shouldn’t we all be crying or yelling or something? I know that they were just trying not to freak me out. Inside they were scared too.

I’ve been diagnosed with Lupus for thirteen years now. I deal with fatigue, unexplained fever, swollen joints or muscles, sensitivity to the sun, susceptibility to sickness, and the spots (which are called purpura and are caused by bleeding underneath the skin). The medication I take has helped me in controlling the flares. I know I am actually very lucky because many people with Lupus have much worse symptoms, and thankfully my symptoms are not life threatening.

There are a lot of questions that come with having Lupus. Will my symptoms get worse? Will I be able to have a healthy pregnancy? Will I have the energy for a full time job? Will I have the energy to raise children? Will the men I date be able to handle the fact that I have Lupus or will it make them want to head for the hills? The real question becomes, what do I do with all of these fears and anxieties?

When any sort of fear comes into our lives, no matter what it is, we must remember the power of God. God is bigger and stronger than any scary thing that looms in our path. Just imagine the universe in its incredible vastness and remember that God created it! That is power. Then remember that he loves you. When something bad happens in life, we might be tempted to ask if God loves us. If God loves me, why did he allow me to get a disease? But that question is focused on the physical, and God focuses on the spiritual. Yes, bad things happen on this earth. But God allowed his son to die for us in order that we might have a new life. That is love. This world is temporary, and we must use the struggles that come with it to strengthen our relationship with God.

For those of you that have followed the guest blog posts you will remember Michelle Clark of Miss Banana Pants from her earlier post she did for me about All Moms are Liars. Well today she brings some great insight into her journey of a seven month fast…

 

We’ve all felt the clutter of life at one time or another. I think that it comforts us to a certain degree. Having more “stuff” makes us feel secure, distracted, and accomplished.  I’ve truthfully never been very materialistic. Stuff doesn’t mean very much to me. Just ask my husband in the way that I take care of my mess of a car, continuously pile clutter in every corner of my house, and resolve to the fact that we will never have super nice furniture because we have kids. I’m okay with it. To a certain extent.  The truth is I’ve been a horrible steward of my stuff. I should take better care of what I’m given/what we can afford. I’ve just always had a very “disposable” mentality about stuff. It’s here today, it’s helpful, if it breaks/is stolen/goes through the ringer, it’s okay. It’s all disposable and we will just get something else. I trick myself into thinking that my stuff does not own me.  Maybe it doesn’t. But my perspective on my stuff does. Just because I don’t cling to my stuff, doesn’t mean I don’t take it for granted. I’m not concerned with it being gone, because “out with the old, in with the new”. Do you struggle with this? Or do you hold on to your possessions as if they define you?

Enter the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker and my life is wrecked.

I made the massive mistake of taking this “simple-looking” book with me on vacation to read by the beach. I think I must be the very first girl ever to sit in a lounge chair in the sand staring at the ocean waves and reading a book about EXCESS. Seems a bit hypocritical.  Not an easy book to read while on vacation, I’ll tell ya!  Try reading it at the pool…in your ocean condo…while your kids argue about cable TV stations.  It did feel wrong.  I was so spoiled at that moment.  No, it wasn’t wrong to go on vacation.  Actually, it was an amazing free blessing/gift to our family and we were humbled by the love that has been shown to us.  It just wasn’t an ideal place to read about excess. Not at all.  We just have so much stuff and are so selfish.  Don’t you ever get tired of how greedy we have become?  It seems like the more we get  –  the more we THINK we need.  We feel like we DESERVE it all.  It’s a terrible cycle and I was ready to get off.  Something definitely had to give.  I soaked in each word and let it simmer in my mind and heart throughout vacation and came home with a resolve.  This stuff that Jen Hatmaker covered in her book wasn’t “new” new but she did something about it.  She put feet to her words.  I knew that I wanted to begin to put feet to mine as well.  I was not going to be just another woman who simply reads this book and says that it’s a “life changing” theory and experiment.  I wanted to do.  I wanted to act.  I wanted to be wrecked to the point of change.  It was official.  I didn’t want to be comfortable anymore. I wanted to take on Jen Hatmaker’s challenge to fast in the seven areas of my life that were defining who I was:  Food, Clothes, Possessions, Media, Spending, Waste, and Stress.

Currently, I’m just finishing up my Food Fast for month one and boy, am I glad it’s almost over! Not because I didn’t learn a TON, but because I am ready to try to be a better steward in this department on my own. In the book, “7”, Jen just chose seven different foods and ate nothing but those seven things all month-long. What dedication! I am not that spiritual! Ha! I, instead, made seven food rules for myself to adhere to for the entire 4 weeks, and I have to say, I followed most of them pretty well.  They were:  No Fast Food, No Pop/Soda, No Alcohol, No Pork, No Chocolate, No Eating After 7 pm, and Only ONE grocery trip per week.

During this whole first month, the main things that I’ve learned are just how spoiled I am in the area of food. I’ve never had to worry about what I will eat until now. I’m having to plan ahead because I can’t just grab something on the go. Sometimes I have found myself literally consumed with how to organize my day around us having enough time to come home and cook something. I’ve never had to think about food so much in my life! I am realizing what a blessing it’s been to be born into a society that, for the most part, doesn’t have to worry about food.  I live a privileged life.  I’ve never known hunger, poverty, or despair. I have been ridiculously blessed relationally, spiritually, and physically.  My life is so happy, it’s almost embarrassing at times when I think of it in comparison to so many other people in other countries.  And yet, this month, I let the little things like the fact that I couldn’t just run through a drive-thru window for lunch or grab a soda obstruct my view on my reality.  I struggled to see how blessed I am because I wasn’t able to see the forest because I was concentrating on the trees.  Even before this month I did that.  I concentrate too much on the few things that I can’t have instead of all the endless things that I do have at my disposal  I have more food (even with all this month’s limitations) in one single day than most of the earth’s population see their whole lives.  If anything is ridiculous, it’s that fact. But how many times do we really stop and think about that fact?  If we did, it would not only change the way we think about food, but it would revolutionize the way we think about life.

As this month ends and I am about to embark on the next phase of this 7 month fast, I’m excited to see what more God has to teach me. Next month’s focus is “Clothes” and I’ve decided to mirror the experiment that Hatmaker did in her book.  She chose only 7 articles of clothes and wore nothing but those things for an entire month. Sounds completely ridiculous, eh? But I really think that this month might stir in me a new-found appreciation for what it feels like to not only not care about what you look like, but focus more time and energy on changing the ME behind the facade of fashion.  This month I’m sure to see some inner change. I can’t wait.

For those of you who think this whole thing is so WEIRD, you are totally right. I think it is too, actually.  Really, it’s okay to think I’m becoming one of those Christians. But in the words of our pastor, “I welcome WEIRD. Normal isn’t working anymore.” It’s not. I’m sure that most of Jesus’ ideas weren’t so popular either.  I’m convinced that He got the “I-thought-you-were-normal-but-now-I-see-I-was-clearly-wrong” face plenty of times. He seriously knew how to thin out a crowd.  He always gunned for less, reduced, simplified.  He was the most fully and completely unselfish, ungreedy, unpretentious man to ever live, and I just want to be more like Him.  It’s as simple as that. If limiting myself of my favorite things for 7 months can help Jesus overcome me, then so be it.  I’m okay with an oddball label.  I think we should all learn to be a bit more different. One of my all-time favorite quotes came from a speaker at a youth conference I went to almost 10 years ago but it has always stuck with me.  “You cannot make a difference in this world unless you ARE different from this world.”

 

Photo Credit: Rachelulgado

The following post I wrote for a friends blog, Miss Banana Pants. Check her site out and enjoy the post!

20111221-133556.jpgIt is officially the holiday season! I love this time of year. I love the winter, the family gatherings, Christmas trees, I pretty much love it all! I have so many great memories during this time of year, and now I am a parent and get to build those lasting memories with my children. I look back at all the memories and traditions I have with my family and get all excited thinking about passing these same things on to my children. But, the one thing I never thought about was that every family has their own traditions, their own favorite way of doing things. Wait, what? We don’t all celebrate Christmas the same way? No, and I learned this from my husband.

I grew up where Santa did not wrap his presents, in fact not all the gifts under the tree were from him either. We had a mixture from him and from our parents, but the ones from him were always unwrapped. This completely shocked my husband. In his family every gift was wrapped and every gift was from Santa. I would be lying if I were to tell you that our conversation about which way was the correct way didn’t get a little heated. (sad I know, but we both could not comprehend the others tradition) Another example of the difference we found was just how we opened gifts Christmas mornings. We have known some friends whose families would all open gifts at the same time. Both of our families took turns and watched each other open gifts. However, my family made a pile for each person at the beginning and we could decide each turn which one we wanted to open. His family would pick one person each year to pass out the gifts, one gift for everyone to open and then would pass out again like this until all were gone.

The more we talked about different traditions we loved and wanted to pass on, the more we realized that some of those traditions we both did growing up, but differently. I knew that not everyone did things the way my family did, but never really cared or thought about it much until the time came to start thinking about my children. What my husband and I learned during this discussion, and the many more that followed was that we have to find a median, AND make sure that the other person doesn’t feel like we are saying that their traditions are less important than ours. We had to decide what things we wanted to take from both of our childhoods to pass on and then we want to come up with our own traditions for our family to start passing on. The important thing is that we create a family tradition, whatever that might be, but something that is ours and for our children to grow up remembering.

Things will not change. Every family will continue to do things differently. As long as my family has beautiful memories that my children love and that they are shocked to find out later that not all families celebrate Christmas like our family, I know then that we have done a good job. We will have created a legacy that they will find a way to incorporate into their families one day. So, have you started making a legacy for your family?

 

Todays post is from a guest blogger, Michelle Clark. She has her own blog you should also check out, Miss Banana Pants. She’s a great writer with an awesome sense of humor and tells the truth exactly how it is. For example, I read the other day on facebook a status update talking about rolling a fitted sheet into a ball after failing to fold it. I laughed out loud because I SO do that and never even thought about whether other people would call that normal! So with that, I will give you her post…

 

Ever had one of those days when your child decides to pick their nose in public, then offers his “finds” to the person behind you in the Wal-Mart check-out line? Or how about one of those days when your toddler asks why it’s okay for you to spank him, but it’s not okay for him to spank his friends? How about one of those days when you try to change a “questionable” diaper in the car, only to realize at the wrong moment that your toddler wasn’t finished with said “questionable business” and thus, proceeds to “finish” all over the front seat and your new Miss Me jeans? As crazy (and disgusting) as all those scenarios sound, I had them ALL 3 this morning. That’s right…..it’s Wednesday, but REALLY, it might as well have been another Monday for me. Usually things like this only happen on that one dreaded day of the week.  I just want to shower, to go back to bed, and start over….

But I press on. I AM supermom, you know! I do have it all together and all is under control. At least I like to pretend so. Because even after mornings like the one I just had, that’s what you do. You run into a fellow mom at the mall or supermarket who asks you how things are going. You respond, “Fantastic!” ……..LIE. “Pretending” sounds much more innocent, but that’s not what’s going on here. Cause we’re ALL liars. Every last over-achieving one of us. ALL MOMS ARE LIARS.

 

We would all like you to think we are the best of the best at all things “parenting”, when, in reality we are just giving you our own opinions and experiences. Those “experiences” are foggy though, but we force our two-cents on other moms so that they won’t know that we have had gruesome, normal, Mommy-mornings like the one I just had. Let me give you an example of our good intentions gone bad:

 

You: “Oh, your daughter isn’t sleeping through the night? That must be awful. My son has always been a good sleeper. He sleeps like, 12 hours now. It’s kind of crazy.”

 

Your intention:  I want this person to know that sleep IS possible.  That one day it’s all going to work out and she’ll have a fantastic night’s sleep. We’re all in this together!

 

How she’s taking it:  I’m a failure.  I’m never going to sleep again.  My life is over.  I hate myself.  My roots are growing in and my footwear is horrendous.

 

See how easily your good intentions have been misunderstood? But here’s the thing you’re forgetting:

 

You’re LYING. Again.

 

You don’t mean to. And yes, we do believe that your child is sort of sleeping but it took you a heck of a long time to make that happen and you forgot to mention that. You crossed out that little tidbit of info in your maternal memory bank because you don’t want to remember how you lost clumps of your hair and consistently told your husband that he was a douche face. You were stressed! Not sleeping is a form a torture. Look what happened to Lady Macbeth! Who wants to remember how hard it was when you can focus your energy on how awesome you feel that you only wake up once or twice now (which technically isn’t sleeping through the night, but never mind.)

 

So here’s the up side: Anytime another mother gives you information about her life that in turn makes you feel like you are FAILING MISERABLY as a parent just whisper under your breath: “she’s lying”.   Because it’s true. She is lying. But not just to you, also to herself. And she doesn’t even know it. (And even if she’s not – who cares – you’ll feel better) So forgive her for not remembering what really happened and find comfort in the fact that there is a chemical in our brains that eliminates pain memory.

 

Because one day it WILL all work out. You will go to sleep and you will leave the house without Cheerios in your hair. You will once again find the matching socks to wear instead of matching a pair that just look kinda sorta similar. And, yes, you will one day wear a bra without flaps on the front – a bra that keeps your boobs pointing UP and not DOWN.

 

But at this point you should probably just offer to buy her a coffee because, seriously, you both deserve it. Just think how different life would have been for Lady Macbeth had someone just given her a hug and offered to buy her a mocha latte. A lot less drama that’s for sure.

 

Why aren’t we honest? Why can’t we say, “Well, I’m doing alright, minus getting pooped on, spit all over, and overcoming the constant public humiliation that my toddler puts me through on a daily basis. Thank you for asking.” We don’t have to be supermoms. We also don’t have to have better kids than every other mom out there. The more honest we are with each other, the more we can learn to survive this crazy journey of motherhood. Let’s hold our tongues and hold each other up more often. We’re all in this together, clothes stained with poop and all. You know it’s true.