Tag Archives: mental-health

Dark Night of the Soul

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When I got up this morning, I had no intentions of posting anything other than for Sis Caddo’s Seven Word Sundays, but right after posting that, I was strongly led to write another post. I knew I wouldn’t have time to do it this morning, because my husband and I were going out of town to see my son, daughter-in-law and five of my seven grandchildren. Also, to be honest with you, this wasn’t really a post that I wanted to share with anyone, however, when I returned home, the compulsion was there yet again, to share this post, and there was also a promise as well. You see, I believe with all of my heart that this post I am sharing with you has the power to mend broken hearts.

As many of my regular readers know, 2013 has been an extremely difficult year for me thus far. Beginning in January, towards the middle of the month, I had to take my husband to the emergency room, because his foot became extremely swollen and so painful, he could hardly walk. Then, my mother was taken to the emergency room and admitted to the hospital because she was very ill, and before the month was over, I was taken to the emergency room for chest pains (I had pleurisy, which is extremely painful… If you’ve ever had it before, you know what I mean.) 

February was no kinder, as my mother’s condition grew worse, and we came to the realization that her time on earth was coming to a close. She passed away on February 15, and was laid to rest on February 22, and it broke my heart. I didn’t realize how much I loved my mom until I lost her. And then, my husband’s other foot started swelling and hurting, and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on with  him…

Then, as we marched into March, I became terribly ill. I thought I had a stomach virus, but as many of you know from a post that I wrote, I had developed C-Diff, a terrible stomach infection, that caused me to be hospitalized for several days. When I finally left the hospital, I was placed on an antibiotic for 20 days, and though I returned home, and felt somewhat better, all of my strength was gone, and up until this past week, I was extremely nauseated.

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In this midst of my illness, my husband’s illness, and grieving for the loss of my mother, I fell into a deep, dark depression. It was truly a dark night of my soul, and I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of it, as the spirit of heaviness weighed down on me, smothering and oppressing me. I was so sick, I couldn’t eat, and was constantly exhausted. I didn’t want to be around anyone, and at the same time, I was extremely lonely, if that makes any sense.

I hate depression and its lies. I thought I was a woman of great faith, and then to find myself wallowing in anxiety and depression brought shame to me. You see, I’m a minister of the Most High God, and many times, I’ve ministered to others who have been depressed, but now, I found myself struggling with a depression like I hadn’t had in many years. I thought those days of darkness and depression were long gone, when the Lord had helped me to overcome them years ago. For crying out loud, I’m a prayer warrior, a mighty woman of God, but now, I was reduced to a weeping, painful, lost little girl.

I loved the Lord, but I couldn’t write as much as I wanted to, because simply sitting up at the computer made me feel as though I was going to throw up, which fed the depression, which kept growing like some dark, black monster. Then, my daughter and her family moved to Georgia, a couple of weeks ago. The Lord revealed it to me before they even told me, so I asked my daughter, who was dumbfounded, because she said she and her husband had only talked about it the night before…

It broke my heart that they were moving more than twelve hours away from me, but at the same time, something happened within my spirit… The Lord had spoken to me again. A spark lit my hope, which had nearly died… In the dark night of my soul, God had not given up on me. He was still speaking to me.

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Then, one day last week, I was talking to a friend, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and I prophesied to her, confirming everything the Lord had spoken to her earlier during her devotional time with Him. It had been so long since the Lord had used me to prophesy, and in the dark night of my soul, I had feared that I was destined to spend the rest of my life like this — alone and miserable, no longer able to hear the Lord’s voice as I once had, no longer useful to Him.

It had become hard to pray, because I was no longer sure if God could hear me. As I write these words, I’m struck by how weak I was, how deceived I was, but when the enemy ties you up in those chains of deception and covers you with those robes of heaviness and oppression, it’s hard to see the truth through the darkness.

As the Lord ministered to me, igniting my hope and reminding me of His great love for me, I made a decision to go to church last Wednesday night, no matter how I felt. He had exposed my problem, showing me that I had a spirit of heaviness, and I knew what needed to be done.

6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in His good time He will honor you. 7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you. 8 Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. 9 Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 10 In His kindness God called you to His eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. After you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. 11 All power is His forever and ever. Amen.

~ 1 Peter 5:6-11 NLT ~

As I cast all of my cares upon Him, I felt a weight lift from me, as the Lord ministered to me. You see, I had bought into the lie from the enemy that I was a failure, no longer fit to be used of God. In my grief, and pain, the enemy just kept coming after me, with more and more ammunition, and in my weakness, I buckled under the weight of it all, forgetting that which is true…

His anger lasts for a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning.

~ Psalm 30:5 NLT ~

The Lord ministered to me that night, as He’s been ministering to me all week, reminding me of His great love for me… He reminds me that though I was disappointed in myself for being weak, He was not disappointed. 

13 The LORD is like a Father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. 14 For He understands how weak we are; He knows we are only dust. 15 Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. 16 The wind blows, and we are gone — as though we had never been here. 17 But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear Him. His salvation extends to the children’s children 18 of those who are faithful to His covenant, of those who obey His commandments!

~ Psalm 103:13-18 NLT ~

How grateful I am that I have a Savior who loves me just as I am. Though the enemy came to steal my joy, kill my hope and destroy my life, I serve a Savior who redeemed me. He purchased my freedom, and paid my ransom with His life. He not only restored my life, He gave me abundant life. 

10 As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised Him from the dead. I can learn what it means to suffer with Him, sharing in His death, 11 so that, somehow, I can experience the resurrection from the dead! 12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be,but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.

~ Philippians 3:10-14 NLT ~

My beloved readers, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Lord placed it in my heart to write this post not to expose my weaknesses, but to encourage you. I know that some of  you are battling with grief and depression, just as I have been. I know that many of you are in the midst of a dark night of your soul, and you wonder if you will ever again see the light of day. Listen to me, my beloved friend, as I pray for you, for the Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…

1 “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

~ Isaiah 61:1-3 NKJV ~

Father, in Jesus’ name, I cry out to You for every man, woman and child who You lead to read this post, that You would bind up the brokenhearted. Comfort those who mourn, Lord, in Jesus’ name, and set those who are imprisoned and bound by depression, affliction and addiction free. Lord, I know that what You have done for me, You will do for others, because You are no respecter of persons, and You don’t love me any more than You love Your other children. 

Arise, O Lord, and show Yourself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to You. Father, give each person who is weighed down by that spirit of heaviness, a garment of praise in its place. Lord, let them begin to praise You in the midst of their pain, and as they do so by faith, Lord, set them free!

Father, for those who are in the midst of a storm, in Jesus’ name right now, I  speak to that storm, and I say, “Peace — Be still!” For those who are bound by fear, I speak to the spirit of fear right now, and I cast that spirit out in Your name, because You are love, and perfect love casts out fear. For those who are in the midst of that dark night of the soul, I loose Your Holy Spirit and Your Word, in Jesus’ name, because in You there is light, and the darkness must flee. 

Lord, I believe that You allowed me to go through this dark night of my soul, so that You could minister to others who are going through similar pain, and so I loose Your Spirit to each of those that You lead to read this post, and in Jesus’  precious and holy name, I speak life, peace and hope to each one. Amen.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be Healed

 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.

(Jeremiah 17:14 NKJV)

This is a prayer that I was fervently praying Sunday night as I sat in the emergency room at my local hospital, feeling sicker than I ever remember feeling in my life. I started getting terribly sick Saturday evening, after getting home from my granddaughter’s birthday party, and the sickness continued into Sunday morning, and Sunday afternoon, and Sunday evening, and I seriously thought I was dying. Now, before anyone else says it, I’ll say it for you — I am a total wimp when it comes to nausea. I don’t much like pain either, but if I have to choose, I’ll take pain over nausea any day!

I was so sick Sunday, and I’m usually filled with hope, but that day, I couldn’t muster any hope up. I was in a dark black place that was pretty awful, and I began having terrible thoughts of dying. In the midst of that blackness, I caught a glimpse of my own mortality, and I was frightened. After refusing to go to the ER all day, despite my husband’s numerous suggestions, suddenly, I was afraid to turn the light out and go to bed, I was so sick. I was exhausted, but so miserable that I couldn’t sleep except for five to ten minute snatches here and there, and the nausea was unbearable, and somewhere in the midst of all of that nausea and sickness, I got an unrelenting headache that wouldn’t loose its grasp on me.

I knew I should pray for myself, but I couldn’t, except to groan and cry, “O God! Help me! Jesus – please help me!” And truthfully, I didn’t do a whole lot of that either. I whined, and I complained, and I moaned and I groaned. Let’s just say that those who think of me as a strong and mighty warrior of Christ would have been terribly disappointed at this pitiful weakling. I won’t lie, in the midst of all of my sickness, I was disappointed in me. Finally, at around 9:30, Sunday night, I agreed begged to go to the hospital. 

What a horrible experience! There were several people ahead of me, and though the vomiting had stopped, the diarrhea had not, and neither had the nausea. My husband had to get a wheelchair to wheel me in there, because by this time, I was too weak to walk. As I sat in the waiting room, there were several other sick people, and blaring loudly was the television, or as one of my former pastors used to call it, the “hellivision,” showing Mob Housewives, a show that I’d never seen before, and never wanted to see again! 

What a horrible thing to have on in an emergency room, where there are sick people! At that time, I wanted to hear words of hope, or some soft quiet music… Or, better yet, SILENCE over that! Instead, while my body was being assaulted by the spirit of infirmity that was attacking it, my ears and my vision was assaulted by that hateful, hopeless show…

That’s when I began to desperately pray over and over and over, Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.” It wasn’t an eloquent prayer. I can’t even say it was a very faith-filled prayer. Rather, it was a desperate, monotone repetition. Looking back on it, I’ll be honest with you. My faith was weak and wavering. I kept repeating it, because I was desperate to believe that God would heal me.

The physician’s assistant finally decided to admit me at approx. 3:30 Monday morning, so I told my husband, who was suffering with a painful, swollen foot, to go home. Then, at approximately 4:00 that morning, he came back to say the doctor didn’t want to admit me. There I was, alone in the emergency room, sick and scared, and now they weren’t going to admit me? I must have looked like a pitiful mess, because he told me to just stay there for another hour or so, and when the doctor came, just tell him I was too sick to go home. That’s what I did. I was finally admitted to the hospital under observation at approx. 7:30 am. 

My early afternoon, I was feeling better, though still really weak. I actually thought I might be going home, when the nurse practitioner came in to see me at around 3:00pm, and informed me that I wouldn’t be going home that day, because I had C-Diff, which is a nasty intestinal infection, that can indeed be deadly if not treated. I was stunned. I thought I had probably gotten a stomach virus. They began treating me with antibiotics right away, and also giving me medication to replace the good bacteria that the antibiotics were killing. 

I am so blessed to be at home and alive now, and I am so thankful to a God, who loves us in our weakness. Indeed, His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and though my faith was weak, He still honored His word to:

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.

(Jeremiah 17:14 NKJV)

I came home this evening, and I’m going to go to bed as soon as I finish this post. Hallelujah! I get to sleep in my own home, with my husband, in my own bed! I’m alive. I am loved by the God who still has much work for me to do. My recovery is nothing short of amazing, and I know that God honored His word, even though my faith was weak. If you don’t believe me, just google this illness and see how bad it really is…

I’ll share more at another time, but for now, I’m wiped out, and my bed is calling me. Brothers and sisters, hold tightly to your faith, and cling to God’s word, because it truly is living and active, and He truly does honor His word. Thank you all for your love and prayers, and I pray that the Lord will bless each of you with a heart that seeks Him. His word also says:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

(Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV)

Many blessings to you all!

Love,
Cheryl

Updated Update on Mom – 1/31/2012

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My Beloved Readers, Followers, Friends, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

My mother suffered a mild heart attack last night. Please continue to pray for Mom, my sister, and me. Mom is really having a difficult time, with the dementia, loss of independence, and failing health. She must be so scared. It breaks my heart, because I love her so much, and I hate to see her suffering.

My sister also needs your prayers and love. She is carrying a lot on her plate, between caring for Mom, as her POA, and work, and her family. Please pray that she feels the Lord’s love, strength and comfort during this difficult time.

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Please also continue to pray for me… I love both my sister and my mom very much, and want to be there for them and help them as much as possible, but pain is hindering me. Please pray for the Lord’s strength so I can be there with them and help them both.

I’m going to try to rest some now – much love to you all. I am so thankful to be a part of this great family of believers, who continue to edify and pray for me though we have never seen one another face to face. Much love to you all!

God bless you,
Cheryl

Update on Mom – 1/31/2013

My beloved friends and brothers and sisters in Christ,

Thank you for the prayers that you are lifting for my mother. We didn’t have a good day today. It started off pretty good, but it soon took a turn for the worst.

Mom became very angry and frustrated, and I became frustrated and hurt too, because she wouldn’t let me help her. She said some hateful things, and I let it get to me… In hindsight, I now know that she was starting to feel worse, and she was getting frustrated, because she wasn’t able to do the things that we all take for granted, like feeding herself and caring for her own personal needs. She was feeling weak and probably frightened, which caused her to snap at those closest to her… my sister this morning, and me this afternoon.

Because of our past history, I took it personally, and missed what was really going on. Tonight, at around 9:30, she went into acute distress, having difficulty breathing. She had to have another breathing treatment, and more tests and meds.

Please continue to pray for Mom, my sister, and me. Pray that the Lord gives me wisdom to recognize what is really going on, so that I don’t take things so personally, when she says hurtful things. I love her, and I know she loves my sister and me too. This dementia can be both a blessing and a curse.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers… I know that the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much, and if two or more will touch and agree, according to God’s will, it will be done.

Much love to you all,
Cheryl

Update on Mom

My beloved readers, followers and friends,

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It’s about 1:15am on Wednesday, January 30, 2013, and I am getting ready for bed, but I just wanted to give you a quick update on my mom. Her fever is down, praise God! However, she still has some “crackling” in her lungs, and she is coughing now. My sister and I are praying and believing that the coughing is a good thing, because it is breaking up the fluid in her lungs. 

Please continue to pray for her. She asked me if Dad came to see her last night, and I said no, and then, later today, she asked my sister why Dad hasn’t been to see her. My sister didn’t want her to think that Dad didn’t care for her, so she reminded mom (who has dementia) that Dad had passed away.

Please pray for my sister too, because I know that was hard for her to do, and she really misses Dad (who died more than a year ago) too. I love her. She is a good, strong woman, who has been a good daughter to Mom and Dad, taking care of them on her own, when I couldn’t be there for them. I pray that the Lord will let me be a blessing to both my sister and my mother.

At any rate, this has been a difficult day for Mom. Dementia can sometimes be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing, because Mom is able to forget her grief a lot of the time, but it’s also a curse, because whenever she is reminded of Dad’s passing, it’s as though she begins to grieve all over, and for her, it’s like it just happened.

I need to go to bed now, but thank you for praying, and please don’t stop. We all need your prayers.

I pray that the Lord continues to bless each one of you, my beloved brothers and sisters, for sacrificing your time to pray for my family…

One final thing – although I hadn’t planned to write anything today, the Lord gave me a strong word, which I posted a few minutes ago. Please pray for the word that He released through me tonight, that it will touch the hearts of each one who reads it, and accomplish all that He has sent it to accomplish.

Much love to you all,
Cheryl

God’s Miraculous Provision for Me

Give your burdens to the LORD, and He will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. (Psalm 55:22 NLT)

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I limped clumsily into the brightly lit local pharmacy, feeling great pain, and more than a little frustration as I went to get my prescription for pain medication filled. On this cold and blustery night, my husband and I had ridden out of town, to several pharmacies, looking for one that had my prescription in stock, at the lowest price, since I no longer have health insurance. I turned the seat warmer on to try and take some of the chill off as we drove around. Finally, after driving all over, I called one last pharmacy, located in my home town, not really expecting them to have my medication either, but wouldn’t you know it? They had my pain medication, for the same price as the out of town pharmacy I had gone to. I could have saved money and time if I had just called this pharmacy in the first place, but I just assumed because of past experience, that this pharmacy would be too expensive. On the way back to our hometown pharmacy, I dozed off, as the seat warmer did its magic and soothed my aching back.

As my husband and I walked into the pharmacy, I hobbled past the rows of grocery items, and the candy shelves, trying to keep my eyes from wandering to the chocolates, which I dearly love, but don’t need. We walked down the book and magazine aisle, on my right, and I briefly glanced at the books, thinking to myself, one day, one of my books would rest on these shelves, in the midst of the flashy magazines and novels.

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As we approached the pharmacy counter, a woman who appeared to be in her mid-sixties, with what appeared to be Miss Clairol Nice ‘N Easy ash blonde hair, reddish brown glasses and a warm smile, asked if she could help us. When I presented my prescription to her, she grinned saying, “Oh, you’re the lady I just talked to on the phone.” I smiled back at her and gave her my birth date and my address, and then walked to the brown seats on the left side of the counter, where I gratefully sat and rested my aching back and legs, while waiting for my prescription to be filled. 

A couple of minutes later, the same woman called to me, stating that she had a pharmacy discount card for me and she just needed my phone number so that she could hopefully save me some money. I thankfully shared my phone number with her, as I no longer have health insurance, and just this prescription alone was going to cost me nearly $100. As soon as she ran the discount card through, she popped back over to the counter and spoke to me again, saying, “Mrs. Showers, I just wanted to let you know that with this discount card, your prescription has been reduced to $45.”

“Oh hallelujah!” I responded, and my response must have pleased her as she walked away smiling joyfully.

A couple of minutes later, the pharmacist, a slightly balding dark-haired man with black plastic rimmed glasses called to me, as he worked on filling my prescription, asking what kind of insurance I carried. I explained to him that I was no longer employed, and therefore I was no longer insured. He then asked me if I still had my old insurance card. I wasn’t sure, but after looking in my wallet, I found it and gave it to him. He then ran it through his computer system, and couple of minutes later, he returned it to me with a big grin on his face, as he informed me that my expired insurance card had indeed gone through, and my prescription would now only cost me $17.50. 

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If I wasn’t in so much pain, I would do a happy dance! I can’t even begin to describe to  you the joy I’ve found in these months since I’m no longer working. It’s been a hard road… I haven’t received a paycheck since November, and my husband’s business has been extremely slow, and yet, the Lord has continued to meet our needs every step of the way, and I am so thankful. This is just another example of God’s supernatural favor on me, not because of my goodness, but because HE is so good and kind. He takes wonderful care of His children. 

My friends, I just had to share this wonderful testimony of what God did for me tonight, and I want to let each one of you know that God loves all of His children equally. He doesn’t love me any more than He loves you… And for those of you who do not know and love God, He loves you too, and He longs for you to turn away from your sins and turn to Him in Jesus’ name, so that He can care for you as well. This is the prayer that I pray for each one of my brothers and sisters in Christ, for those who already are, and for those who will one day become children of the Most High God:

When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May He be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT)

May the Lord bless each of you!

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Apply Yourself

Describe your last attempt to learn something that did not come easily to you.
Daily Prompt: Apply Yourself

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I remember taking swimming lessons about six years ago, when I was 45 years old. I don’t know what possessed me to take swimming lessons, after all of these years of not swimming, other than the fact that my work place had offered the lessons for free to the first ten people who signed up for it. I’m a sucker for things free, therefore, I was among the top ten…

Now, you must understand that I took swimming lessons as a child, and while I learned and grasped the technique in my mind, when it came to actually swimming, I just couldn’t do it. I did learn how to float on my back, quite well, if I do say so myself, however actually swimming required something that I was both unable and unwilling to force myself to do… It required getting your face wet… Now, lets fast forward thirty-some years to my adult swimming lessons.

This was the most challenging, frustrating thing that I’ve ever attempted. You see, it turns out that after all of these years, swimming hasn’t changed much. You’re still required to get your face wet, and lo, these many years later, I have maintained my aversion to getting my face wet… In case you’re wondering, I have figured out how to shower without getting my face sprayed… I use a washcloth to clean my face, but I never willingly stick my face in water, or allow the shower to spray my face… Sorry, I digress…

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Back to the subject. Aside from the “get your face wet” requirement, adult swimming lessons required a few added components, which made swimming lessons difficult for me. Unfortunately, I was so blinded by the free swimming lessons, that I hadn’t stopped to think that I would actually have to wear a bathing suit in front of other people that I know… my peers and co-workers…

You see, I’m overweight… I don’t look like I did when I was a 103 lb young adult… I have jiggles and wrinkles that I don’t even like to subject myself to seeing in a mirror, let alone my co-workers. Therefore, when I showed up for my first swimming lesson, I made it clear that I was not removing my tee-shirt, and if they required me to remove my tee-shirt, I was out of there. (I was secretly hoping they would not agree to this, but they very kindly allowed me to take my lessons in my tee-shirt.) 

Every week, for the next six weeks, I forced myself to show up for swimming lessons after work. I borrowed a bathing suit from a friend, because I didn’t have one of my own, and since these were free swimming lessons, it would have defeated the purpose if I went and actually spent money to buy a swimsuit for the free swimming lessons. I faithfully showed up to each of the lessons, because when I commit to something, whether I like it or not, I follow through with it, however, I refused to stick my face down in the water. (There are just some things I’m not willing to do, regardless of whether it’s free or not!)

Finally, the last night of swimming lessons arrived, and we had been told the week before to wear clothes and shoes that we did not mind getting wet, because we were going to jump into the deep end with our clothes, so we could see what it was like, in case we were ever on a cruise ship and fell overboard. Presumably, by experiencing this, we would learn what to do, in order to keep ourselves from drowning… We would also be required to jump into the deep end and remain afloat for one minute in our bathing suits.

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I showed up for that final night, and I really intended to follow through with this… But then it hit me! If I jumped into the deep end, my head would go under the water until I came back up to the top… If my head went under the water, my face would get wet! What was I thinking? Everyone went to the edge and one by one, they took their turn and jumped into the deep end, except for one woman, who had quit swimming lessons the first week due to her fear of the water, and then it was my turn to jump in.

I looked at my instructor and the other students, and I very calmly told her that I would pass on this part of my swimming lessons. She began to cajole me, urging the other students to “encourage” me as well, and in her attempt to goad me into jumping in, she said, “Look, Cheryl, everyone else did it, and you won’t pass your swimming lessons if you don’t jump in.”

What not to say to me. This only enforced my resolve not to jump in, as I replied, “I am 45 years old, not a teenager, and I do not cave in to peer pressure. Thank you for your lessons, and fail me if you must, but I will not jump into the deep end.”

In her final attempt to sway me, she said, “But Cheryl, what will you do if you’re on a cruise ship and you fall overboard?”

Image Credit: http://montecarloforum.com/forum/off-topic-5/wednesday-june-20-2012-a-37209/page3/

To which I laughingly replied, “I get sea-sick, and I don’t make enough money to go on a cruise anyway. Therefore, this part of the swimming lessons is totally unnecessary for me, but thank you for your concern.” With that, I left the facility…

So, my dear readers, I leave you with this final thought… The best things in life are not always free.

Writing Challenge: Starting Over

In this week’s writing challenge, we’re asking you to write a short piece of creative writing (fiction/poetry/prose poetry/freeform mindjazz/whatever floats your boat) on the theme of Starting Over.
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Earlier today, I was listening to this song in my car, and a story began to formulate within my brain. Then, I came home and saw that the theme was Starting Over, and it all came together…

They think I’m crazy, Kara. Hmph! I’m crazy like a fox. Just because I’m old and I sometimes forget things does not mean that I’ve gone mad! I know plenty of young people  who don’t remember things, and nobody calls them crazy. They just say, “Oh, they have a lot on their mind.” Well, I’m ninety-six years old – I’d say I have a whole lot more on my mind than they do – ninety-six years of memories and thoughts!

They brought me here to this nursing home ten years ago ’cause your momma, my precious Kelley couldn’t take care of me anymore. She had cancer. She was the only child I had left. I don’t mind telling you, it left a great big empty void in my heart when she went home to the Lord. My sons, Miles and Jeffrey had been gone more than ten years and my husband, Charles, passed on more than thirty years ago. 

So here I am, left in a nursing home, and I don’t mind telling  you, I’m tired… real tired. Most of the staff are very kind and caring, but there are some who aren’t. There’s some, like Carly and Tina, that scare me, and I want ask somebody to help me, but I’m scared. If I tell somebody and they find out it was me that told — no! I don’t even want to think about that. 

But I can talk to  the Lord, right? He won’t get me in trouble with those girls. See, if I don’t “cooperate,” the nurses here give me this medicine that makes my mind fuzzy, and that’s why I can’t think straight sometimes. I don’t want to put nobody out. I just need help sometimes, and some of the girls, like Pearl and Barbie, get real angry if I bother them, so I try to keep quiet, unless one of the nice ones is on.

You want to know about one of the nice ones? Well, my favorite is Emily. She works on the day shift. When she comes into my room of a morning, she always has a smile. A real smile, ya’ know? Not one of those fake I couldn’t care less smiles. She always says, “Good morning, Sunshine!” to me, and she walks straight over to my windows and opens the curtains, ’cause she knows I like to look outside and see what’s going on. 

Then she comes over to check and see if my bed is dry, and I’m ashamed to say it’s usually wet. Old age is hard on the bladder, but Emily doesn’t make me feel dirty or embarrassed about it like some of the others do. Some of ’em holler out in the hallway, “Miss Ella’s wet the bed again. Can someone bring me some more pull-ups?” It’s so humiliating. And some of ’em get mad at me for having an accident, and they make me sit in it — even if it’s a b.m. until the next shift. 

I get a lot of rashes and ulcers, and I’m sure that’s why. I don’t like having to depend on others to take care of my personal needs like that, ya’ know? And what’s really bad is when one of them will take me to the toilet and forget me. I sat on the toilet for two hours one day and it left a blistered ring around my backside. The nurse said my skin broke down. She asked me which aide left me there, but I was scared to tell her it was Marge, ’cause she’s a friend of hers, and I didn’t want ’em to get mad and hurt me worse, so I just pretended I didn’t know.

I thank the good Lord that I’ve still got my wits about me and I can talk and think, (except when they give me that medicine to make me behave), which is more than some of the other folks that live here can do. I still have a lot to be thankful to the Almighty for. You know, I try to share His love with the old people in here, ’cause some of them don’t have much hope left in ’em.

There’s poor Mrs. Stanley. Her family brought her here six years ago, and they haven’t been back to see her once! She cries and she cries everyday for them, but they never come. It breaks my heart for her. I usually try to save her one of my cookies when we have them, ’cause it cheers her up and lets her know somebody loves her.

I try to share His love with everybody I see, even the mean hateful ones, ’cause Jesus said to love your enemies, and I tell you what — some of them are my enemies. There’s the hateful ones, which are bad enough, but then there’s those that like to laugh at us old people. They’re the worse. They treat us like we got no dignity. They have no respect for their elders, and when I try to tell ’em so, they just laugh at me and make fun of me, like I”m stupid.

But that’s okay, because things are about to change here. See, I’ve been writing this letter, and it’s almost finished. Forgive the shaky, crooked letters. I used to have beautiful penmanship, but arthritis makes it harder to write, as I’ve got older.

Still, I’ve talked to the Lord about this, and He told me to write this letter and address it to my granddaughter, and once I’ve finished this letter, I’ll be gettin’ me a fresh start. Yep. He said He’s gonna take me home when I get finished with this letter, ’cause I told Him before I go home, I wanted to help the other old folks here, who can’t stand up for themselves. Then, once my granddaughter gets this letter, she’s gonna take it to the authorities, and they’re gonna investigate this place so that all the other old folks here will get a fresh start too, at someplace that will love them and take better care of them.

My fresh start will be when I cross over the Jordan and see my Savior and my Father. I’m almost finished with this here letter, Kara, and once I place it in the sealed envelope, the Lord said I can come home and start over. I can’t wait. Ninety-six years is a long time. My body is tired and weak. 

Kara, honey, don’t cry for your old Nana, ’cause I’ll soon be home and I’ll be free from all my sorrows and all my pain. I’m gonna start new and fresh — gonna trade in this old worn-out body for a strong new one. And my precious Lord Jesus is gonna wipe every tear from my face, as He gathers me up in His arms and carries me to the Holy of Holies. 

Honey, the time’s comming soon, I can’t hold this pen for much longer, and I must seal it in the envelope if I want to be sure you get it. Please take this to the authorities, baby. Help my old friends get a new start too.

Love,
Nana

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Chronic or Acute?

clockIt’s currently 12:55am where I live, and I’m up again, not because I’m not tired (because I am), but because I’m hurting again… or should I say still? For the past year and a half to two years, I have lived with chronic, constant pain, and now I’m unable to work because of it. I went to bed at 10:00pm last night, thoroughly exhausted, and quickly fell asleep, as my eyes wouldn’t stay open, only to awaken at 12:17am, hurting and in pain. I tossed and turned for several minutes, finally giving up somewhere around 12:35am, and here I am.

I don’t share all of that to make you feel sorry for me… Please don’t, because I have much to be grateful for. Rather, I’m sharing all of that, not knowing where this is going, because I was reading a friend’s response to something that I had written, and she used the word chronic, and my mind and my heart started churning, and I was compelled to write. I truly hadn’t planned to write anything, but I felt an urgency within to write, so here I am.

I looked up the word chronic at dictionary.com, and this is how it was defined:

  1. constant; habitual; inveterate: a chronic liar.
  2. continuing a long time or recurring frequently: a chronic state of civil war.
  3. having long had a disease, habit, weakness, or the like: a chronic invalid.
  4. (of a disease) having long duration ( opposed to acute ).

This is a word that many people use frequently… perhaps chronically, in reference to our habits, our weaknesses, and yes, even our pain. But I wonder… do we ever stop to think about what we’re saying, when we use it?

For example, when I tell you that I have chronic pain, I’m telling you that I hurt constantly, but it’s not the chronic pain that keeps me from finding rest, because the Lord has made His people very resilient. Those of us who have chronic pain learn to live with it, like it or not. We adjust to it, and we continue with our lives, learning to survive. We learn the things that help us cope with the pain. For example, when I sleep, I keep a pillow between my legs to help relieve some of the pressure from my back, thus decreasing the pain that runs from my back to my legs. I’ve learned that when I go to the store, I need to use a cart and lean on that for support… For me, sitting is more tolerable than standing or laying… These are the ways that the Lord has given me to cope with the pain, in addition to pain medication, which I hate having to take.

Regardless, it isn’t the chronic pain that awakened me from a dead sleep, because my body has grown accustomed to that. I was hurting before I went to bed… It hurt when I climbed the stairs to go to bed… I was in pain when I fell asleep, so the chronic pain didn’t awaken me. The problem happened when at some point, while I was sleeping, my chronic pain became acute pain, which is defined this way by dictionary.com:

  1. sharp or severe in effect; intense: acute sorrow; an acute pain.
  2. extremely great or serious; crucial; critical: an acute shortage of oil.
  3. (of disease) brief and severe ( opposed to chronic ).

So why am I sharing all of this? The Lord just quickened my spirit and I started thinking about the way we use these words in reference to our lives, and when I share this with you, I want you to know that this word came to me, because I’m the chief among sinners. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone but myself. If Holy Spirit chooses to prick your conscience, know that He pricked mine first. Also, please understand, this is a message for Christians, because common sense tells us that those who are of this world will live and behave as the world does, but we who are not of this world are supposed to be holy, set apart.

http://www.lundbeck.com/us/our-commitment/community-involvement/raise-your-hand
http://www.lundbeck.com/us/our-commitment/community-involvement/raise-your-hand

Since surrendering your life to Christ, how many of you have ever thought or said, “I sin constantly… or I’m a chronic sinner… or I struggle with unbelief constantly… or I have chronic unbelief?” That big hand in the front is mine… Some people even quite piously say, “I’m a sinner saved by grace… or the only difference between me and the rest of the world is that I’m forgiven.” Ouch. Those last two statements have come from my mouth countless times…

Here is what the Lord just spoke to my heart… Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV) Do you understand the importance of this? Let me break it down for you… First of all, I’m not a sinner saved by grace… I was a sinner saved by grace. And if the only difference between me and the rest of the world is that I’m forgiven, then I make God a liar, because His word says that I’m a new creation. I’m different now… I’m not the same as everyone else… I’m not even the same person that I once was.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ… what does that mean? Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the Gardener. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from Me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing. Anyone who parts from Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you stay joined to Me and My words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to My Father.

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. When you obey Me, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father and remain in His love.” (John 15:1-10 NLT)

Brothers and sisters, if we remain or abide in Christ, we should be producing good fruit. Do you understand this? We need to ask ourselves what kind of fruit we’re bearing, because if I chronically sin, or if I walk in chronic unbelief, then Houston, we have a problem…

So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict.  But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another. (Galatians 5:16-26 NLT)

Brothers and sisters, we need to ask ourselves what kind of fruit we’re bearing, because if we’re not producing a harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, then we are not abiding in Christ, and apart from Him, we can do nothing. His words, not mine. Further, if I’m living with chronic sin… if I’m constantly, chronically sinning (and unbelief is sin – So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that there is a God and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him. {Hebrews 11:6 NLT}), then I’m not abiding in Christ and I’m not walking in His Spirit.

Do you remember that I told you that I’ve learned to tolerate my chronic pain? Well, the fact is that when we chronically sin, we learn to tolerate that as well. We even justify it to ourselves so that we won’t feel bad about it by saying things like, “Well, God knows my heart,” or “At least I’m not as bad as so and so…” Brothers and sisters, if your conscience isn’t pricked when you sin, or if you find yourself justifying your sins, because they’re only “little sins”, you need to cry out to God for mercy.

Our God is not a God of sloppy grace. Yes, He is full of mercy and compassion. Yes, He is a God of grace, but don’t kid yourself when you say, “Well, God knows my heart,” because you’re right. He does know our hearts, and this is what He has to say about that, The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I know! I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT) 

You see, the word of the Lord says, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV) Do you understand what this means?

If you abide in Christ, you’re a new creation. You’re not supposed to be the same way you’ve always been. No more, “Well this is just the way I am,” or “I’m just being real.” If you’re just “keeping it real” as you sin, then you’re not being true to yourself.

What would you think if I told you that my Aunt Bertha passed away? You’d think she was dead, right? Well, when we come to Christ, those old sinful things that we used to participate in, should be dead. We should not be living in chronic sin. Indeed, if we truly are in Christ, we cannot live in chronic sin, because that part of our lives died the instant we were born again, and everything became new.

Does this mean that we’ll never again mess up? No, as long as we have flesh, we will have times of struggle, but we should be winning the battles most of the time, and this is where the acute pain that I talked about comes in. Remember, I said that I’ve learned to live with the chronic pain… I’ve learned to tolerate it, but there are times, when the pain becomes acute, and it is very disturbing. It causes me great distress.

When I sin against God, no matter how big or small the sin is, because God hates all sin, it should cause me acute pain. As a new creation, sin, my sin and the sin of others, should be very disturbing, very distressing. When I or someone else struggles with sin, including unbelief, it should be so discomforting, that I am unable to rest… much as I am unable to rest tonight, because of my acute pain.

http://mancrohns.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/wongbaker.gif
http://mancrohns.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/wongbaker.gif

So I ask you brothers and sisters, where do you stand on the pain scale? Is your sin chronic (constant, but tolerable) or acute (not often, but causes great discomfort and distress when it occurs)?

My prayer for each one of us, (yes, I need to pray about this for myself too), is that God would search our hearts, and show us where we stand on this sin scale. Am I waging war against sin? Or have I learned to tolerate it? Search us (me) O God, and know our (my) hearts. Try (me) us and know our (my) anxious thoughts, and see if there is any wicked way in us (me), and lead us (me) in the everlasting way. Lord, let us (me) be loving of others, but intolerant of sin. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Weekly Writing Challenge: Shift Your Perspective – Help Me Dr. Phil!

Weekly Writing Challenge: Shift Your Perspective

This week, we’re challenging you to explore how different narrative modes affect your writing.

Dear Dr. Phil,

Please allow me to express my sincere apologies to you one more time. I can assure you that when I was backing out of my parking place, I had no idea that there was anyone behind me, and I certainly had no idea that someone was you! I would never intentionally hurt or back over anyone, so you can imagine my dismay, when I heard the horrible thud, immediately followed by your painful shrieks.

English: Phil McGraw photographed for the cove...
English: Phil McGraw photographed for the cover of Newsweek magazine by Jerry Avenaim (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Again, I humbly ask for your forgiveness. I know that I hurt you, but what you may not realize, is that I too, was traumatized. I haven’t been able to get a good night’s rest since that tragic accident. I keep having the same recurring nightmare of you flailing around on the pavement, wailing in the same horrible, high-pitched way you did when I backed over you with my car. It’s just horrible!

I’m so ashamed, and I feel really foolish for asking this, especially after the pain that I’ve caused you, but Dr. Phil, is there any way that you would consider helping me recover from this trauma? I really would appreciate it.

Sincerely,
Jane Doe

“Ladies and gentlemen, can you believe this? Can any of you wrap your mind around the horror I suffered at this woman’s hands? Or should I say her car?

“Picture this, if you will… I was walking across the parking lot after stopping off at the grocery store for a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk, feeling rather pleased with myself, because for once, I had gotten everything on the list that Robin had requested.”

“Excuse me, Phil! Hon, excuse me,” Robin interrupted, raising her hand and wriggling in her seat as she sought her husband’s attention.

Dr Phil.
Dr Phil. (Photo credit: RubyGoes)

Dr. Phil looked over at his wife with raised eyebrows, irritation in his voice at this interruption, as he responded to Robin, “Yes, hon?”

“I can’t believe she would interrupt me in the middle of a live show after all I’ve been through,” he thought to himself.

Robin smiled sweetly, thinking, “He’s such a sweetheart, but bless his heart, he can’t remember squat.” 

“I just wanted to make sure we tell everything accurately,” she said. “Because you actually didn’t get everything on my list. I also asked you to get me some Excedrin for my headache, but you forgot that.”

“Are you kidding me?” Phil expostulated loudly. “You interrupted my dialogue to tell me that? After all the agony I’ve been through?”

Robin’s sweet countenance fell, as she glared at her irate husband, “After all the agony you’ve been through? What about me? Do you know what this has been like for me? There I was, in the midst of a terrible migraine headache, and the police show up at the door to tell me that you’ve been run over! So I had to get myself together and rush to the hospital, while still in the midst of a painful migraine. And did you show any sympathy or consideration for my pain? No, you just laid there on the gurney, screaming and hollering and moaning and groaning, like you were going to die, you big baby!”

Looking straight at the cameras, Dr. Phil responded, “And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Men, consider this a learning experience, when your wife interrupts you in the midst of your work, remember to smile at her and agree, because if you snap at her, you could suffer for weeks, like I’ve got a feeling I’m about to do.”

“I’m sorry, Robin, you’re right. I did forget to get your Excedrin.”

https://opensky.com/robin-mcgraw
https://opensky.com/robin-mcgraw

“What a sanctimonious jerk,” Robin thought, as she smiled sweetly at Dr. Phil and said, “That’s okay, honey. I love you.”

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, as I was saying before, my wife reminded me of my forgetfulness, can you place yourself in my shoes? I was minding my own business, when this woman negligently throws her car into reverse and backs over me, knocking me off my feet, and leaving me in excruciating pain. And I have to tell you my friends, that’s not even the worst of it.

“I’m sure you’ve all seen the terrible pictures on the news broadcasts and all over the internet. Stupid paparazzi! Someone even recorded my screams of pain, and now there’s this embarrassing YouTube video that’s gone viral. How many of you have seen it? That’s what I was afraid of.

“And now, this woman has written a letter, asking for my help. What would you do?

“When I first read her letter, I was taken aback. I couldn’t imagine anyone having the nerve to back over someone and then ask that person for help. But there was something in the letter that just kept drawing me back to it, and the more I read it, the more interested I was in discovering what kind of person could be so stupid as to back up over someone and then expect him to help her get over the strain of it.

http://articles.nydailynews.com/2009-02-14/gossip/17915993_1_dr-phil-show-james-white-divorce
http://articles.nydailynews.com/2009-02-14/gossip/17915993_1_dr-phil-show-james-white-divorce

“Are you as curious as I was? Good, well then, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to ‘Jane Doe.’ By the way, just so everyone is clear about this, ‘Jane Doe’ is just a pseudonym we’ve chosen for the woman who almost killed me. Come on out, ‘Jane.'”

After the introduction I just heard, I questioned my sanity in asking for help from Dr. Phil. It seemed very likely that he was about to throw me under the bus (no pun intended) for accidentally backing over him. As I walked on the stage and saw the devilish gleam in his eyes, and that nasty smirk on his face, I quickly looked away. My heart was nearly pounding out of my chest. I looked at the curious faces in the audience, and then my glance caught the sympathetic look on Robin’s face. In her eyes I saw pity and compassion for me. It was obvious that she already knew something that I was just beginning to understand, as I looked into Dr. Phil’s eyes, which looked back at me with undisguised hatred in them.

It was that look that settled the matter in my mind. Dr. Phil wasn’t interested in helping me. He wanted to heap his vengeance on me, and it was very likely that I would be defamed and ridiculed at best, and painted as a wicked villain at the worst. As I quickly sorted the pros and cons in my mind, I made my decision and turned tail and ran.

I ran as fast as I could run off the stage, grabbed my purse from the green room, and ran into the parking lot, where already, a man with a camera followed me in close pursuit, along with Dr. Phil. There was no way I was going to let them catch me. “I’ll just have to live with the nightmares,” I thought as I hurriedly jumped into my car, throwing it into reverse. And then suddenly, I heard a horrible “thud” followed by the loud, high-pitched wailing of Dr. Phil. “Oh man! Can anyone say ‘Groundhog Day’?”

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers