Anything is Possible!

With Hope, Faith, and Perseverance


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A Meditative Prayer

 

 

red glowing candle

On Sunday, having spent the night with my friend who helped with the estate sale, I visited her little church which is much like my own. Next to the hymn book, I discovered this meditative prayer. It’s helping me deal with something, someone, beyond my control. I hope you find it helpful, too.

 

AN INVITATION TO PRAY

 

Enjoy three deep breaths.

The first breath will help you be fully aware of your body.

The second breath is to clear your mind so you may be fully present.

The third breath is to open your heart and welcome the holy spirit.

 

Notice a question that draws you in.

 

Are you bringing someone with you in your heart today?

See that person in your mind’s eye.

Picture that person whole, healthy, restored, reconciled.

God is at work in the person’s life.

Ask God to show you the role you may play.

Are you counting your blessings today?

For what and for whom are you feeling thankful today?

As you get in touch with gratitude, express it to God.

 

Are you anxious today?

Whatever this is, God cares about you, and all those for whom you care.

 

Are you in need of laying down a burden today?

Hear Christ, the burden-bearer:

“Come to me all who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Be ready to lay down your burden at the foot of the cross.

Open your hands. Close your eyes.

Breathe deeply and slowly.

Empty your mind. Let sounds pass you by.

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Answered Prayer

I asked God to take away the desire for a partner or else send me a good one. “And God, I would really appreciate it if you could get my soulmate here before Dad and Jesse die,” I added.

  From Trust the Timing

When I prayed that prayer seven years ago, I knew I would be strong enough to deal with the death of my father and my dog, Jesse, when those times came. Even without a partner, I had proven to myself that I could cope with loss and keep my head above water. No matter how much it hurt, I would deal with it. But I didn’t want to go through it alone gritting my teeth and forcing myself to be tough.

Now, as I process grief for my father, I can’t imagine how I would deal with the waves of sadness, especially after I spend a day going through Dad’s abundant possessions and then come home to sort through his mail and paperwork. I’m going through mom’s stuff, too, because he didn’t want to get rid of anything after she died eight years ago. If I had to do this alone as the only surviving child – and go to work the next day at a challenging job – it would be overwhelming to say the least.

But I don’t have to do it alone. I know that even if I was still single, God would walk with me through this, and that I’d survive (probably with jaw and neck pain from the teeth gritting.) But it helps so much to have a supportive partner. That is an understatement. Not only does my husband support me emotionally, he made it possible for me to quit my job just one month before Dad died. We didn’t know the timing would work out that way. But I bet God knew.

My husband was here for me when Jesse died a couple years ago, and now he’s here for me as I grieve for my father, because God answered that prayer.

God doesn’t always answer my prayers my way. Despite all I’ve learned about trusting the timing, God still seems awfully slow to my limited perspective regarding prayers yet to be answered. But I know things are being worked out in those I love, and ultimately, love will prevail.

I am thankful beyond words.

bride-leaning-on-groom-in-doorway

2012, just after our wedding

dad-waiting-for-bride

Here’s Dad on my wedding day.


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A Gift You Can’t Buy in the Store, Part 2

buttons-and-needles

My 85 year old dad is a stubborn X retired Marine. He won’t move closer to me because he doesn’t want to leave the house he shared with the love of his life. He lives with pain every day – the pain of missing his soulmate and the pain in his legs from being wounded in Korea. The plastic artery they put in his leg all those years ago now prevents him from getting a knee replacement. His knee can give out on him without warning, so he has to keep his cane handy. (He won’t use a walker.)

Each deliberate step is such a challenge it sometimes pains me to watch him walk. But he’s fiercely independent. His back had been bothering him a lot over the past couple weeks to the point that he could not go to church and stopped going to his cardio rehab. (The “rehab was completed years ago, but he pays to go three times a week for the challenge and the camaraderie.)

“Don’t you think he deserves a break?” I ask God.”  I don’t hear a lot back from that. Just some stuff about how Paul had chronic pain and not to worry about it because God’s Grace has it covered. Stuff I don’t want to hear but should probably listen to.

Last weekend, I was praying extra for my dad and lit a candle for him at church. When I called him Sunday evening, he whispered he couldn’t talk because he was at his church’s Christmas. I was happy to hear that he’d made it.

The next day, I called Dad, and he was so excited! He told me that Sunday morning he woke up with “no pain anywhere!” It was the the first time in years he’d started the day with no pain. It generally takes him a long time to get ready for church with the leg pain and arthritis in his hands. He said it takes him several tries to button his top button so he can put on a tie. Well, last Sunday, he said he talked to God about it:

“God, I’m going to try this one time, and if it doesn’t work, I’m not going to button it,” he said. “I just wont wear a tie.” Dad said he buttoned that button on the first try. He was so excited telling me about that button, like a kid at Christmas. He said everything went great on Sunday. People at church told him they’d missed him, and the Christmas Cantata that night was “absolutely beautiful.” He went on to describe the music and how good it was.

He said that Monday morning he had some twinges of pain, but not as much as usual.

I guess God decided to give my dad a break.No matter what happens, even if the pain comes back, I’m thankful Dad had the gift of a joy filled day without pain. You never know when God is going to give you a miracle day.

dad-and-aunt-ruth

My dad and his “big sister” Ruth a couple years ago on her 92nd birthday.

(The buttons and needles picture is from Pixabay.)


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Coping with Pain

sunset w bird soft

Pain just spilled out of  Saturday’s Stream of Consciousness post and  got me thinking about my frustration with prescription pain meds. I know some people legitimately need Rx pain medication at times, but after 27 + years as a substance abuse counselor, I’ve watched addiction to pain pills torment more people than addiction to any other drug, except maybe alcohol.

Add to that my experience of every time I’ve had  minor surgery or an injury, I’ve been given way more Rx pain medication than I needed. The last time, I didn’t even bother to get the prescription filled and did fine with ibuprofen.

Now, before you start thinking I have a high pain tolerance, think again. I wanted to birth my babies naturally, with no pain medications, but after twelve hours of labor with my firstborn, I was asking for a second shot of stadol. They said, no, it was too close to delivery. I moaned in acceptance, but would have gladly taken a second shot, even though I hate needles. With my second delivery, I made a feeble attempt to forgo pain meds, and caved again.

My second born, now an adult, also has no special tolerance for pain, but only used one third of the pain meds prescribed after her oral surgery. I waited for months to take the leftover 20 pills to the bi-annual Rx drop off.

So why are all these extra pain meds being prescribed, and why are the extras so hard to get rid of?  Why are we so quick to want to take a pill, rather than try alternatives? Part of the problem is that alternative therapies, like acupuncture and massage, are rarely covered by insurance.

If you’re prescribed pain medication, take it as prescribed, for you, and ask your doctor if you have questions. For example:

  •  Can I take less than what it says on the bottle?”
  • What else might help besides the pills?
  •  Can I try a heating pad, or ice pack?”
  • What alternative therapy can we try, like physical therapy or massage?
  •  Do you know people who’ve handled this with over the counter medicine?
  • I have a family history of addiction, is there something else we can try?

If a person takes opiate (sometimes  called narcotic) pain medications long enough, tolerance develops and the medication doesn’t work as well. Withdrawal happens when the body stops making natural endorphins because the pain meds tell the body it doesn’t need to make the endorphins. The receptors are full. And that’s just the physical explanation.

Addiction is sneaky.

I’ve seen it in action.

Most people have no idea how much work it takes to fight it.

Here are some things that have helped me and others cope with pain, both physical and emotional:

1. What’s the message?  What is your pain trying to tell you? Go to the doctor? Get some rest? Stop eating junk? Pain exists to let us know something needs our attention.  About thirteen years ago, the post-divorce relationship I was in was stressful (to put it mildly).  This showed up with increased heartburn, abdominal pain, and mysterious female ailments. My body was trying to tell me to ditch the person who was making me sick.

2. Prayer: Ask God to  show you the reason for your pain and to help ease it. For me, the answer doesn’t always come right away, but it comes in one way or another.

3. Positive Distraction: It’s probably not going to make the pain go away completely, but it will decrease your focus on it. Be aware of  things that don’t hurt. Watch funny movies, do puzzles, listen to music, or color in a coloring book. Focus on something other than the pain. My dad seems to feel better when he’s telling a story about his youth.

4. Meditation and/or Guided Imagery. This is not a substitute for medical care, and generally takes practice. I’ve had clients come to my group with a headache and tell me it was gone after practicing relaxation skills with guided imagery. It tends to work better for stress induced symptoms if we catch them early. I usually start with mindful breathing, focusing my awareness on the breath, without judgement.

For example, see:  Jon  Kabat-Zinn:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5Fa50oj45s        

Then, I move into muscle relaxation by imagining a soft wave of healing light starting at my head and moving slowly down my body, releasing tension with each breath. I imagine the breath softening the tension (or pain) to help it dissolve, allowing it to become easier to release. I repeat this wave as many times as feels right. Sometimes I imagine breathing in healing energy or God’s love and letting it flow throughout my body with the exhale.

Belleruth Naparstek is one of my favorites when it comes to guided imagery. Here’s one of her exercises for stress management :  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhTSaNwnip8

Thanks for reading this longer than usual post. I hope it helps somebody. Do you have other ways of coping with pain?


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Prayer, Support and Healing

red tealight

We got a phone call, last Thursday night, that my two year old grandson, 700 miles away, was in the hospital with a bad case of pneumonia. A little while later I found out he had been helicoptered to a university hospital and was on a ventilator.
It was the night before our parish retreat at Trinity Center, where my husband and I would have leadership roles in morning and evening prayer services. Part of me wanted to get on a plane and fly to where my grandson was. Maybe I could help with something. But instead I prayed and tried to have faith that God had this covered. I asked for prayers on Facebook, something I don’t do often, especially for myself or some one in my family. Why is it easier for me to ask for prayers for some one outside of my family, or total strangers even? Maybe it’s the scary part of feeling vulnerable when I ask for prayers for myself or some one close to me.

The little guy was on my mind all day Friday. I’d called my Dad, the most powerful prayer warrior I know, to join the team. At times I was able to push away my fears and visualize my grandson healthy and strong, running and playing outside with a smile on his face.  That felt like the right thing to do.

Late Friday afternoon, at Trinity Center, my husband, David,  asked me to follow him. I figured he wanted to show me something. He took me to the little chapel where tea light candles rested in a bowl of sand, waiting.  Together, we lit a candle for my grandson, and David read from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer: A Prayer for Healing. I was moved that he thought of this. After dinner, at the Compline service, I asked my church family to pray with me. I prayed for my grandson’s healing, for wisdom for his doctors and nurses, and for comfort to his parents. I was worried, but something told me God was working on this.

On Saturday morning, we got up at dawn to watch the sun rise over the ocean, but the sky was overcast, so we couldn’t see the sun. Instead we watched pelicans dive for their breakfast. After our breakfast in the dining hall, we had Morning Prayer, discussion and meditation time. Then, I went back to our room to get an update on my grandson. His doctor had decided to use a scope to take a look into his collapsed right lung. They found an obstruction  that could not be removed with the scope, so surgery was needed. The obstruction turned out to be a kidney bean.

Kidney beans on a shelf

Use with caution!

 

Who knew kidney beans could cause that kind of trouble?

 

 

 

 

That night, during Evening Prayer, I was filled with gratitude as we sang “Amazing Grace” accompanied by simple guitar chords and the sweet rain dancing outside.

After the kidney bean was removed, my grandson’s condition began to improve right away. His right lung started to work, and he came off the ventilator. He was discharged from the hospital on Sunday. His mom said he was so ready to go, he almost ran out the door.

What a relief to know he was okay! But it was not a total surprise. I’d felt the fear, but there was much more hope. Being at Trinity Center, surrounded by nature, with my husband and members of our church family, was a big comfort. I realized how important it is to have good support and to have a relationship with a loving, caring power greater than ourselves.

Thank you, God!

For a look at Trinity Center, where we held our parish retreat:

http://joannesilvia.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/trinity-weekend-relax-restore-and-revitalize-with-nature/