Saturday, January 26, 2013

To The Mountaintop

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." (Romans 12:15)

Having spent most of my life as sort of an athlete, who put in 10-12+ hours a day at a job I loved, starting colts and training show horses, I understand the difficulties of accepting limitations put on us by disabling disease. It’s hard sometimes, to understand why I can no longer do the things I previously did without effort or thought. I have ranted, raved and shed tears, like most of us who suffer from similar maladies. There comes a time when I feel rage and bitterness fill me, often followed by hopelessness, but because I  have a relationship with my Savior, I find myself always moving back to acceptance and even joy. He always brings light to the darkest places, even when that  place is my heart.

This blog is different from the others I publish. This is about my journey with pain and disappointment and hopefully, the impact faith has on it. I shall be brutally honest with my feelings as this is as much a therapy for me as anything else it may accomplish. I hope that others who are walking this same path will join up with me that we might walk it together, as it's always nice to have someone who can understand your trials.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

So far, to date, I have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease, Psoriatic Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. I never saw this coming. It seems like one day I was on top of the world, all my horses were winning,  my barn was always full and I had energy to spare so I could enjoy my family, my friends, my garden and my home, which was my dream home. The next thing I knew, everything had pretty much turned around. I was in pain, weak, suffering from balance challenges, and life as a whole got ugly. There was a rift in the family that still leaves me feeling as if part of me was amputated, and we lost our home. I have gone from riding 10 hours a day to maybe riding 10 days a year. But God...those two words define my life. But. God. As in " -But. God.-meant it for good." (Gen 50:20)

"But. God." brought us to this ranch. When I can ride, it is a million times more enjoyable than any riding I ever did before. We are in a new season of life, just me and Randyman and got the opportunity to learn more about one another, since when we married we were an instant family with 4 children and things did not all go smoothly. The disease has limited my past activities and encouraged me to learn new skills, so now, instead of cleaning stalls and saddling horses, I am growing our food, making everything from scratch, making soap, learning to sew and taking the opportunities presented to me as I choose. The disease, though devastating, has also freed me to live a fuller life. I would love to do without it, but unfortunately, it is the only thing that would have brought me to this point. I have never known God to take away, without giving back something valuable in its place. I wish the rift in the family would heal, but even that I have to trust to His good judgement. Sometimes growth is painful.

Our friend Afif leaves today. I am saddened by this as he is a good friend and fun to have around. He has also been an enormous help and encouragement this past month, doing most of the cooking and making sure Randy has breakfast in the morning. I have been in one of the worst flares yet, all of January. I think the fact that icy roads prevented the delivery of my injection until a week late, triggered it. 

Today the sun is shining, but I awoke with terrible pain in my back from an altercation with EmmaLouMoo last night while milking, and my feet are terribly swollen and painful, like they used to be 2 years ago before the Simpone injections. I feel the pain moving into my wrists, even now and the fatigue is once again taking over. It comes over me like a cloud covering the sun, suddenly and completely. It’s all I can do to sit up. I will have to return to this later.

I used to accomplish so very much with every day. I could never sit still. Now, I have no choice. I spend the greater portion of every day sitting, on the computer, because I don’t have the strength to do the things I really want to. I miss riding everyday. I miss training colts. I miss following the boss’ kids out across the range and following cattle all day. Being confined to the house is torture. But I have my horses still, so when I am able, I will ride. Even if its just a little ways. I have my sheeple and chickens, and my milk cow. And of course the Polarbears and Cider. I could not do without them.  Today, somehow, I will find the strength to sterilize jars and make new mother cultures for the buttermilk, yogurt and clabber. I made a gallon of each this week so I should be good to go.
I hope I can also make some bread for the freezer (for those times I am not well enough) and render some lard. God willing.

As soon as the fatigue passes, I will try to focus on the Lord. All that I am still able to do, is His gift to me. He did not afflict me with this disease. I don’t know His purposes in allowing me to have it, but I will trust Him with it.     

Even in pain and disappointment, I have so much to be grateful for. I have also learned that gratitude and discouragement cannot inhabit the same space. Reaching for the gratitude and joy that only Christ can give me will evaporate the dark clouds in my heart, anytime I am willing to let Him. Sometimes I refuse, and exercise my right to be childish and 'fish-wifey' and ungrateful, but He always woos me back.

I managed to get my cultures made for my milk products. Buttermilk, yogurt and clabber. This will allow me to make a lot of things, like cream cheese, sour cream, hard and soft cheeses and more. It always makes me happy. Having real food, fresh from the source is not only better for me because of my autoimmune problems, but it makes me feel that my life is special because few people are able to enjoy such things.

The pain comes and goes. Sometimes it totally envelopes me, but I honestly find that refocusing on Him helps me to see that mountain top, where the light is always shining and the darkness of the valley will be far behind me. A dear friend once told me that the darkness we sometimes find ourselves in, is just the shadow of His wings. My experience is that she was right. He's always been right with me. I need only to whisper His name.