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Monthly Archives: February 2008

I can remember a time in my life when I just wanted to become numb to feelings. I had been through so much with my adopted daughter, as well as some rocky times in a relationship, and just life in general, that my desire was to feel nothing. Absolutely nothing. Maybe that is a protective mechanism of the heart. But it is not successful for very long. We can go numb for awhile-like when we lose a loved one, or when we’ve been hurt (emotionally) very badly. But humans cannot stay that way for long. We are born with senses, emotions, and spirituality. We cannot turn these things off like a faucet of running water.

The greatest danger in shutting down to the bad things, is that we also shut down to the good things. Life is a mixture of both, and we really can’t have happiness without sadness, or joy without sorrow. To become numb is to lose our capacity to feel. Anything. That is not what we really want. We only want to escape the pain. But if we do not have the capacity for the pain, we find that we also do not have the intensity of the pleasure. This is what happens to people who “wall off” their hearts. They keep out the pain, but they also keep out the pleasure. They keep out the ugly, but they also lose the beautiful.

Buried emotions are not really dead. They are still causing trouble beneath the surface. Sometimes they cause physical illness, and other times mental problems. It takes a great deal of energy to keep your feelings underground. They’re kind of like dealing with a beach-ball underwater in a swimming pool. They just keep wanting to pop up from beneath the surface.

Without emotion we would be like robots. (I know some people who are.) We could get rid of the pain, but along with it would go the joy, the laughter, the love. 

Many people detach in order to cope with situations. This can be helpful temporarily, but if it continues too long, it will profoundly affect who you are.

So, even when things hurt, go ahead and feel the hurt. In not suppressing the pain, you will also be creating a greater capacity for all the good emotions…

Please view other articles I have written at:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

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 Lonnette Harrell

In an effort to reduce health-care expenses, (and to increase profit), insurance companies are attempting to control doctors with outrageous restrictions, according to the online Boston Globe, (Boston.Com).  

Recently, my mom was prescribed a drug, Namenda, for some memory and confusion problems. She had previously tried Aricept, but the side effects were just too horrendous– violent nightmares, uncontrollable stomach upsets, and night sweats (to name a few.) The diabetes specialist, (not an M. D.),who is employed by my mom’s internal medicine doctor, did some mini-mental assessments on my mom, and found that she had problems drawing the time requested on a clock face, (as the internal medicine doctor had also discovered when he tested her.) So the diabetes specialist mentioned to my mom that there was a new drug now available, and immediately left the room to get her a sample card. The medication was to be taken daily, gradually building up to 2 pills a day, at 10 mg each. We were given a prescription for 5 mg and one for 10 mg, depending on how she was able to tolerate the medicine. She faithfully took the samples, and worked her way slowly up in the dosage amount, without any apparent unbearable side effects. At that time, we took her prescription to be filled, just as the samples were running out. We were then informed that she would require further approval from the insurance company, in order to be able to purchase the Namenda.

This left us in a quandary, as we remembered something similar happening with the Aricept, and my mom was left waiting about 10 days. I remembered that the diabetes specialist had told me, that if that ever happened again, I could request more samples in the interim. So we quickly obtained more samples.

Today my mom received a request from her insurance company, (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida), to please provide a written release, authorizing her doctor to give them copies of her medical records for the last year, including diagnoses, tests, treatments, and documentation of any improvement. This led me to believe that they were going to “Big Brother” their way right into the middle of my mom and her care providers. The care providers will (no doubt) have to argue their case that my forgetful, confused, bereaved mom really needs this medication. Who knows what the insurance company standards are? And who knows how much longer this “investigation” will take?

Insurance companies have entirely too much authority, power, and control these days. I have heard numerous stories of doctors being harassed, concerning the tests they have ordered for their patients, and even for scheduling appointments too close together. Since when did insurance companies obtain medical degrees? What gives them the right to say what test, medication, or appointment is needed?

Many conscientious, caring doctors are being forced out of their practices, or are retiring early, because of the ridiculous restrictions placed on them by insurance companies, and the mountains of hoops and red tape required to procure patient insurance coverage for necessary treatment. And even worse, there is a rising physician shortage in family practice and internal medicine in many cities. Physicians entering the field, are not willing to put up with hours and hours of paperwork, and interrogation from insurance companies. They are choosing higher paid (and hopefully, less hassle) specialty practices.

One exasperated doctor is Stephen A. Hoffmann, who has admitted breaking the rules, in order to give proper patient care.  One of his patients, (a recovering alcoholic), was having great difficulty sleeping. So he prescribed a daily dosage of Lunesta–30 pills per month.  Tufts Health Plan then cut the allowable amount of pills to 10 per month. This exasperated both the patient and the doctor. The patient was the family’s primary wage earner, and Dr. Hoffmann was concerned that her sleep problems could result in a recurrence of her alcohol dependency. His solution was to prescribe a second prescription in her husband’s name, which would allow her to get 10 more pills a month. Hoffmann realizes that he could face disciplinary actions, or possibly even criminal charges, but he calls himself a “medical conscientious objector” who believes in the best interests of his patients, more than the unreasonable policies of an insurance company. He has violated prescription regulations approximately 10 times in the last six or seven years, for similar reasons. He explains that many of his colleagues are “demoralized, angry and frustrated.”

Hoffmann is not even remotely a rebel. In fact, he is a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society’s ethics and discipline committee. So his alternative solution is no small risk, knowing that he could be charged with insurance fraud, larceny, and writing a false prescription. In the past, he has lost appeals over similar matters, and fears that his patient’s health could deteriorate, while waiting for the long drawn out decision.

Many doctors are finding themselves having to answer to insurance companies for the number of days a patient can remain in the hospital, the type and amount of tests they can order, the surgeries they can perform, and even for their use of name brand drugs instead of generic. In short, medical insurance companies are able to dictate to doctors, the type of care they are allowed to give their patients (based on a higher profit margin for the medical insurance bureaucrats), and there is something very wrong with this picture. Many companies use computerized rating systems for physicians, that amount to “data-driven surveillance.” Doctors are compared with their peers in the community, and also against guidelines created by organizations such as the American Heart Association. The ramifications are costly, with the possibility that an inferior rated doctor could be closed off from an insurer’s preferred network or demoted to a lower tier in rank. Others may discover that their patients have to pay higher co-payments. (And the results of the data are often posted online.)

I love an article that I read, in the WashingtonPost.com, that questioned where the line is drawn between “responsible oversight and outright meddling” concerning doctors and their patients. Simply cutting costs does little to create quality care.

United Healthcare in Washington has a Web site that ranks doctors on a scale of zero, one, or two stars, with the rating being based on collected data. The company says their desire is to “provide information to consumers, and to help doctors improve their performance.” But doctors don’t see it that way, and are loudly complaining. Legal action has been threatened by New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, resulting in the company delaying its data service in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

There have been numerous innacuracies in the data collection, and doctors who requested to see their reports, found that they had been demoted by Regence BlueShield, for things that made no sense–like not performing a pap smear (on a lady who had a hysterectomy), and failure to control diabetes (in a patient who was not diagnosed with the disease.) Six doctors and the Washington State Medical Association, sued Regence Blueshield, on charges of defamation and deceptive business practices. Regence eventually gave up, and abandoned its plan.

One doctor in Health New England’s rating system, went from the top ten per cent of physicians, into the second (lower) tier, because his patients didn’t comply with his prescriptions for mammograms or Pap smears.

There’s no question as to why some doctors have had enough. Micromanagement by an insurance company is hardly what they signed up for. To borrow a partial phrase from a recent political candidate, “The U. S. medical system is broken.” On that we can all agree. (We just can’t seem to agree on how to fix it…)

Please view other articles I have written at:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

Lonnette Harrell

I didn’t feel well today, so I went to bed around 4 p.m. and slept until about 10 p.m. I woke up quite hungry, and went to the kitchen to fix some toast and soup. As I prepared the food, I turned on the TV, and began watching a rerun of Home Improvement with Tim Allen. I laughed until I couldn’t laugh anymore. I laughed on the inside and right out loud. And the more I laughed, the better I felt. Laughter is truly good medicine.

It turns out that there is scientific research to support what I already knew in my heart. According to studies, laughter reduces the level of stress hormones, and increases the good hormones like endorphins (natural painkillers) and neurotransmitters. Laughter strengthens the immune system, which results in less illness and physical effects of stress. When we laugh, we breath easier, and a positive outlook can even increase longevity.

Laughter provides an internal workout–like Santa we “shake when (we) laugh like a bowl full of jelly.” This “belly laugh” exercises the diaphragm, the abdominals, shoulder muscles, and even stimulates the heart.  Laughter is aerobic!  It has been compared to internal jogging. William Fry, a pioneer in research about laughter, found that it took 10 minutes on a rowing machine, for his heart rate to reach the level it would after just one minute of enthusiastic laughing.

Our muscles are more relaxed after we laugh, and we just feel better in general. Laughter makes us temporarily forget about our pain, both physical and emotional.

Recent studies by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, indicate that laughter may prevent heart disease. Laughter even lowers blood pressure.

One of the most interesting findings was that people who had heart disease generally laughed less at situations in their lives, (even positive events), and they were also more outwardly angry and hostile. Laughter can lessen anger and anxiety.

When we have the ability to laugh at life, and our circumstances, we are much less likely to give in to depression and a feeling of helplessness. An M.D., Bernie Siegel, offers this advice, “The simple truth is that happy people generally don’t get sick.”

Laughter is a great way to break the ice, and connect with others. Haven’t you noticed how laughter is contagious? (Sometimes I can just hear someone else laughing, and I’ll start laughing also.) Statistics tell us that people are about 30 times more likely to start laughing in the presence of others, than when they are alone.

In 1962 there was an outbreak of laughter in Tanganyika. A group of schoolgirls aged 12-18, broke out into a fit of laughter (and sometimes crying), and it seemed to spread from one person to the next, until the whole community was affected. It became so widespread that the schools were forced to close, and it lasted for 6 months!

Ever notice those “laugh tracks” that play in the background of some of your favorite comedy shows? The producers are well aware of the contagious nature of laughter. 

Research has shown that preschoolers laugh up to 400 times a day, while adults only laugh an average of 17 times per day. (What a shame.) We need to start looking for ways to increase our laughter. It will keep us young at heart. Watch a funny TV program or movie, read a humorous book,  or socialize with friends and laugh joyfully together.

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly.” What great advice for all of us. We need to lighten up, and not take everything so seriously. Socrates wrote, “The comic and the tragic lie inseparably close, like light and shadow.”  Tamara Jenkins, writer and director of the Academy Award nominated movie, The Savages, commented in a recent interview that “Tragedy and comedy often operate in stereo.”

Studies have shown that even fake smiling (for no real reason) produces positive effects, as does fake laughter. Isn’t that interesting? (It could just be that taking a leap of faith into laughter, actually produces true laughter before it’s over.)

Pessimists are more likely to get sick when stressed, and they take longer to recover after surgical procedures.

Couples who laugh together often stay together, and enjoy more intimacy. Laughter actually plays a role in mating, and men are attracted to women who laugh freely. Females laugh more than men, and men are often the source of their laughter, according to Psychology Today. In fact, it is the laughter of the female that is a primary determination in whether a relationship is healthy. It might just be that the secret to a great romantic relationship is laughter. It helps us draw closer during the good times, and can restore closeness after the bad times. Many marriage counselors and family therapists are incorporating laughter therapy into their practices.

One of my favorite gifts, was from my daughter when she was younger. It was a key-chain that had a sign that read, “The most wasted day is that in which we have not laughed.” Even though our relationship has been stormy at times, I am glad that it is predominantly defined in her heart, by laughter.

Laughter makes all things better, and isn’t that reason enough to start laughing daily…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xG7eJh71nmQ

Please see this article, and others that I have written at: http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

This is the last part in my series on suffering. The Greek word for suffering is most often translated as tribulation, (something that causes distress.) Suffering can involve minor troubles, or major crises. It’s really how we respond to these difficult times that tells a lot about us. Hopefully, each time we come through a challenging situation, we are better equipped to handle the next one. (And there will be a next one.)

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18 says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Light and momentary? Surely you jest…you certainly cannot be talking about my gigantic predicaments, can you?

I guess we all feel that our troubles are anything but light and momentary. They’re heavy and seem to last forever. But the goal is to get to the place where we “don’t sweat the small stuff.” When we have survived some pretty devastating situations, we are stronger.  We really are. (“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”) He says there’s a greater glory coming that far outweighs anything we’ve been through. So if you’ve had a lot of trouble, you’ve got a lot of glory on the way!

Our hurtful and challenging experiences no longer leave us as incapacitated, because we have weathered so many storms already. That doesn’t mean that we don’t feel the pain. It just means that we’re no longer down for the count. We are a little more resilient each time, because we’ve been through a lot, and we know that God is faithful.

And then we are ready to help others through their hard times. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says, (referring to God), “Who comforteth us in all tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

That’s another one of the redemptive qualities about suffering. When we are comforted, and we survive the crisis, then we can give comfort to others who are going through something similar. Who can comfort us like someone who’s been there? We don’t want to hear lectures from someone who read about life in a book. We want to hear from someone who’s lived it! Those are the people we feel we can trust–the ones who can bring us hope and comfort. The word for “comfort” there means to console, encourage and strengthen, to call to one’s side.

To give comfort, we must not be afraid to reach out and draw people in. Sometimes just sitting next to someone and listening is the greatest ministry of all. A hug, a pat on the back, a touch of the hand–these things are sometimes more effective than all the words that could be spoken. People don’t always want answers, lectures, or speeches. What they really want is closeness and love. Just be there. It makes them feel less alone and isolated.

Once we have been through really painful times, we are not so critical or judgemental of others. We know what it is to hurt so badly, and we feel empathy and compassion towards others, as a result of our own suffering. Peer counseling is so effective. I believe that is why grief boards are so helpful. You have people that understand the pain, helping others and encouraging them that they will get through it. (But not over it. No one wants to hear that.)

The Bible tells us that we can cast all our care on the Lord, because He cares for us. It says that He is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble. We can trust Him, in good times and bad. He says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” Even when it seems impossible to go on, He will make a way…

Please view other articles that I have written at:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Sorrow burns up a great amount of shallowness.” That is so true. Suffering tends to knock all the props out from under us, and we are left with only what is true and worthwhile.  It strips us of all the pretense, and all that is fake. When we have not yet experienced the tragedies that life can bring, we tend to be very superficial. But there is a maturity and depth that comes as a result of suffering. (I am referring to trials and tribulations, not sickness and death.)

When we are going through difficult times, we are reminded of our need for God. We tend to go through life quite self-reliant, until we reach that place where we can’t handle something on our own. And for many of us, that leads us to the feet of Jesus. It is in suffering that we are most aware that our dependence must be on God, and not ourselves.

Romans 8:17  says, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”

The word for “suffer” there in the Greek means to feel pain together, to suffer evils (troubles, persecutions) in the like manner with another. Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t say that we could never experience the pain that He has, or come anywhere near His suffering? While that is true, He doesn’t compare pain and suffering. He simply promises, that if we suffer with Him, we shall also be glorified together.

In another verse (2 Timothy 2:12) it says, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him…”

The word for “suffer” there means that under misfortunes and trials, we hold fast to our faith. It means to endure, and bear bravely and calmly, ill treatment. The general idea is to persevere in the face of great suffering. That’s a lot easier said than done, isn’t it?

But again, we have a promise that we shall also reign with Him. It means to possess supreme honor, liberty, and blessedness, with one in the Kingdom of God.

God even rewards our suffering when we endure the persecution, hard times, and painful situations. (He doesn’t reward getting stuck in our misery.)  A lot of people do not come through a time of suffering trusting God even more, and praising Him for His faithfulness. Rather, they become bitter, angry, and resentful. They get caught in the pain, and in the role of being a victim, and they begin to like the attention that they receive because of it. But it’s in persevering with patience and endurance, until we have overcome (or at least gotten through) with grace and dignity, that pleases God. 

The more powerless we feel in the face of persecution, painful situations and hurtful people, the more we are driven to God, and it is in these struggles and challenges, that we come to know Him in a much deeper way. Sometimes we are actually going through some pruning, (some cutting back), so that we can produce even better fruit.

My favorite Bible character is Joseph. In Genesis 41: 52 we are told that he named his second son Ephraim. Ephraim came after Joseph had experienced many years of suffering, and Joseph said that he gave his son that name because, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

Think about that a moment. It is so easy to get angry, frustrated, and discouraged when we’re going through something difficult. We tend to think, I’ll be okay when I’m out of this. But Joseph was able to praise God, and be fruitful, while he was still in the land of suffering. When we have to press more into God, our roots go down deeper, and we produce good fruit.

Often difficult times are only a few bad scenes in a really great movie. We have to look at the whole picture, not just the isolated parts.

In spite of suffering, life is good. The alternative is not to live at all. And if we can see our pain as a transforming process, we can know that none of our suffering is for nothing. We are being strengthened, we are maturing, we are learning compassion for others, we are becoming more dependent on God, we are learning forgiveness, and we are moving forward. The moving forward is so important. To stand still is to lose ground eventually.

Without a doubt, the road is rough at times, but there is One who holds your hand…

Please view other articles that I have written at:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

Sources: http://www.christianscorner.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=4192

http://www.blueletterbible.org/cgi-bin/words.pl?hr=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.blueletterbible.org%2Fsearch.html&icon=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.blueletterbible.org%2Fgifs%2Fsearch_tools.gif&bgcolor=FFFFFF&textcolor=000000&linkcolor=39398C&vlinkcolor=0000FF&word=suffer+with+him&show_strongs=yes&anything.x=36&anything.y=8

Renoir, the famous French painter, continued to paint, in spite of terrible, excruciating arthritis. A close friend of his inquired, “…Why do you keep on painting when you are in so much pain? Renoir pondered the questioned and then answered, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”

So many of the struggles we go through in life end in beauty. In fact God has said that he would give us “beauty for ashes.”

(Again, I am not referring to sickness or death, when I discuss suffering, because I believe sickness comes from Satan, not God. I am referring to trials, tribulations, struggles, and the painful challenges of life that often leave us wounded.)

It is very common to want to escape suffering. I can’t think of anyone who truly embraces it. Usually, we want to get as far away from it as possible. But unfortunately, life is not like that. To live is to suffer…it cannot be denied.

As I was doing some research tonight, I read that the Chinese have two characters for the word “crisis.” One means danger, and the other means opportunity. In every crisis, there is probably an opportunity. We need to ask ourselves, “What can I learn from this?”, “Is God preparing me for something else?, and “How can this time of difficulty be transformed into something meaningful?”

Could there possibly be a purpose to our suffering? Romans 5: 3-5  says, “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”

In recent months when I have suffered persecution, of course I grieved over the situation. But I did not allow myself to be destroyed by it, unlike other times in my life. (Which doesn’t mean I didn’t cry or have sleepless nights.  I did, as I was truly hurt.) But this time, I tried to find something positive in it.

The first thing I noticed that gave me so much comfort, was how many friends came to my defense. So often, in our time of trouble, others let us down or abandon us at the time when we need their support most. I was (and am) thankful for the loyalty of my friends, and for their assurances that God had used me to make a difference in their lives. Therefore, I knew that all my previous effort was not in vain.

Secondly, I began to wonder if God allowed this persecution to happen, in order to move me in another direction. (I am a firm believer that there are seasons in our lives devoted to certain areas of ministry, and sometimes it is difficult for me to know when that season is over.) I often have to be dynamited out of places, because I have grown comfortable and settled. It’s funny because when I told my counselor what happened, she was amazed at the cruelty shown toward me and the lady I defended, and also at the failure of the owner of the board to protect and defend me. But the thing that really got me was when she said, “There may have been some Divine intervention in it also.” I smiled, agreeing, because I had also had that same thought. I was very invested in the people there, and wouldn’t have left on my own. In addition, it allowed me to see who I was dealing with, and the character (or lack of) that the owner demonstrated. For one week and a little more, I experienced a lot of hurt, and even chest pains as they attacked me in writing, for days on end. But after that, I received a peace about it all, and that grief and pain was lifted off of me.

When Joseph was mistreated so badly by his own brothers, he was able to say later, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.”

The word “evil” in the Hebrew means to give pain, unhappiness and misery. Joseph said the things they did were intended to harm and to hurt him.

But then he added, “God meant it for good.” It means welfare, prosperity, happiness, and benefit.

That should encourage us, to understand that even though some situations in this world are designed to bring us evil and harm, God can take those things, and bring good out of them. They can have redemptive value in our lives. So, if you are going through a difficult time right now, (whatever the source), trust God, and know that He will turn it around, and bring something good from the suffering. And when you begin to doubt, just keep trusting. Job was able to say with confidence, after all he suffered, “I know my Redeemer Lives…”

Please view other articles that I have written at:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

Sources:  http://www.actsweb.org/articles/article.php?i=60&d=1&c=5&p=1

http://www.probe.org/content/view/889/77/

http://www.surfinthespirit.com/healthy-living/value.html

I am a freelance writer, and tonight I was working on an abstract of a radio program. The show was about a man who had trained for the ministry, and had gotten a doctorate degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is presently a religious studies professor, and he told how he had given up being a Christian, because he could not find satisfactory answers as to why a loving God would allow unspeakable suffering. He had wrestled with Biblical explanations, but found them unconvincing. So he just walked away from God. He calls himself an agnostic, and he says that if there is a God, He is a far different God than previously defined. He doesn’t believe that God is intimately involved in our daily lives. The man’s name is Bart Erhman.

Have you ever felt that way also? I dare say that none of us would pretend to understand why suffering exists, or attempt to explain it away with a pious platitude, or a flip answer. Most of us would have to admit that we don’t know the answers. All we can do is search God’s Word, and seek to know His heart, in hopes of finding clues. But as applies to so much in our Christian lives, faith is needed, to be able to accept things that we can’t always understand.

So I thought I would write on this subject for a few days–just a little at a time, so that we can meditate on, and deeply consider the discoveries.

Does God care when people suffer? Is He so distant that He does not hear our cries, or our screams for help? Is He too busy to care? At times it may well seem that way, but He tells us in Exodus 3:7, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.”

(When I am talking about suffering in the days to come, I am referring to trials, hardships, and persecutions in life-not to illness and death. I do not believe it is God’s will for us to be sick. Sickness is from Satan, and while there is appointed unto each of us a time to die, I believe that God wills that each of us would live a full, satisfying life. So again, I will not be talking about illness and death, when I refer to suffering.)

In the passage cited earlier in Exodus, it says that God sees our misery. That is reassuring, because at times it seems like no one else does.  He hears us crying out, (and I believe He hears the cry of our hearts as well.) And then He adds, “And I am concerned about their suffering.” In the KJV it says, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows.”

The word “affliction” in the Hebrew means misery, trouble or poverty. God sees our misery, He knows our troubles, and is aware of our poverty.

It says that He has heard our cry, which means an outcry, or a cry of distress. Have you ever wondered, when you were crying out in distress, if God actually heard you? This verse says He does.

“For I know their sorrows.” the word “know” there means to know by experience, to be acquainted with, to recognize and perceive. To think that our God knows how we feel! He’s been there. He knows what it is to suffer, to be rejected, and to be mistreated cruelly. And He understands our emotional pain also. How exciting that when I looked the word “sorrow” up in the Hebrew, it meant physical pain and mental pain. God knows your physical and mental pain.

That’s what I want to leave you with today. We do not have a God (Who) is watching us from a distance. We have a God who is very near, and is watching over us closely. He does hear our cries, and He does see what we are going through–the big things and the small things. Anything that is of concern to us, is of concern to Him. He cares when we are hurting physically, and He cares when we are hurting emotionally. He is concerned about our suffering…      (See Part 2)

Please view other articles that I have written at:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/109497/lonnette_harrell.html

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19096131

I’m going through a very strange time in my life right now. My teenage daughter (now 19) has embarked on a life of her own, after many years of being a full time “drama queen” at home. So much chaos and confusion since the day we adopted her, at the age of 3. Rebellious by nature, she fought so hard against obedience and submission in any form. It was a rocky 15 years, and I felt much like a ship that had been battered, and shipwrecked in the storm, by the time she moved out. But I knew that God placed her with us, and I knew that I did all I could to teach her His ways, and to nurture her, and provide a mother’s love. Many, many heartaches, and many, many tears were a part of our journey. When she first moved out, she plunged into even greater rebellion. I could not save her from herself, or the path of destruction she was choosing. (Though she seems to be doing a lot better right now.) At times I honestly thought I would lose my mind, as we tried to raise her. Many times I wondered what I had gotten myself into. But I know now that God was working on me as much as He was working on her. I had to learn to submit to a situation that I felt might kill me. (I ran away twice because of the stress.) I had to trust God to give me the strength I needed to persevere. I had to be willing to put aside all my dreams, of what I thought being a mother was all about, and love her unconditionally. She is very close to me, and in some ways very much like me. (Though in many things we are very different.) Right now there has been a time of separation. Her dad has been having lunch with her on Sundays. I haven’t seen her since Christmas. She is going to school, and working 2 jobs, and hanging out with her friends. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for us to get together, but hopefully, we will soon. She knows that I am always here for her.

When she left home, it should have been the start of my time, right? I had fulfilled God’s assignment, (or at least I had endured it.)

But the year before she left home, my stepfather died. He was my dad since the age of seven. He was a tall, strong man (6’4″), and I always like to say that if the world broke, he could fix it.  (He was a great handyman.) He wasn’t someone that I ran to, with my emotional concerns, but we grew exceedingly closer as the years went by. My mother had retired, and was in terrible health at the time (and still is.) He had retired to take care of her. No one ever dreamed that he would die first. He was so much healthier. (But no one knew that he would need triple bypass surgery either.) He came through the surgery fine, but developed hospital acquired complications of pneumonia, staph infection, and serratia. He was on a respirator for a couple of weeks, gasping for breath. It was horrible to stand by his bed, and watch his struggle. We couldn’t even touch him without wearing those latex gloves, and he couldn’t communicate with us because he was so sedated. We felt so cheated. Just a few days before he died, the doctor took him off the respirator, and he was able to very weakly mouth, “I love you” to my mom. We were so very grateful for that moment. (It was all that we got.) Soon after, he had to go back on the respirator, and his organs shut down, and he was gone.

That left me to be the primary caregiver of my mom. I was so scared in the beginning, that I couldn’t sleep at all. This started when my dad was dying. I knew that he was dying. I prayed and I believed for his healing, but I knew that he was dying. I think that God had revealed it to me, so I could begin to prepare myself. That is what I will always believe.

In the beginning, I thought that I had to keep my mom alive. It was too much psychologically for me, and to this day it still is. (Except that I know now only God can keep her alive.) I also thought that I was responsible for her happiness, but try as I would, I could not guarantee her sustained happiness. She is like an unruly, stubborn child at times, but I love her dearly, and we have bonded in an amazing way since my dad died. And that is the good that has come from his passing.

But the responsibility of her life, (on top of mine) has been overpowering . My nervous system is on edge, and I really cannot keep up with my own household duties, or maintain a close relationship with my husband. She still lives independently, but has insulin-dependent diabetes, and often goes low (blood sugar) and sometimes falls. She will not use her walker, and she really needs to. (I have saved her many times from going into a diabetic coma, and I know that something could happen to her at any time.) I have to live with that, and it makes me afraid and anxious. I think I am even aware of it in my sleep, and I keep my cell phone by my bed at all times, and everywhere that I go in the daytime.

(I apologize to those of you who already know this story, and I hope you were able to skim through the basics.)

But I had to set that background up, in order to let you know where I am in my life, at the moment.

In a word, I am overwhelmed. I am isolated, alienated, and depressed. I feel like I am at the bottom of a very deep well, and I can’t seem to claw my way out. I feel incapacitated at times, and disorganized. Everything at my house suffers because I am always on my way out the door to another doctor’s appointment, or hairdresser’s appointment, or to the bank, or grocery store, or the post office, or other errands for her. Some days I feel that I don’t even breathe properly. It is taking an emotional and physical toll on me. I don’t sleep at the right times, and that is probably the biggest hurdle that I now have to face. I must get my sleep back on track.

For the last 2 years I was a member, (and later Moderator) on a Grief Board. I found a great deal of my own healing there after my dad died, and I was asked to oversee the main board. But as many of you know, there was a misunderstanding there that could not be mended, and I was unmercifully attacked by some very cruel and heartless people, so I resigned. (Life is just too short to be treated like that.) But I had some of the most wonderful friends there, that came to my defense, and I can never thank them enough. I know that I honored God in standing up for what was right. (And in standing against what was wrong.) I have peace about it.

It’s funny, a few days before all that happened, I began to have a stirring in my heart that perhaps it was time to consider moving on. Dealing with death (and grief) on a daily basis is very hard, and it can bring you down, if you don’t have a good balance in your life. I have always been there for everyone else in my life, but I find that when I need support, there is nowhere for me to turn. (So I go to counseling.)

Sometimes I have to be dynamited out of a position, in order to move on to what God has for me. I tend to get comfortable, and want to settle where I am. But there are seasons in our lives, and when that season passes, the anointing lifts, and it is time to seek God once again for His will. I feel that it has something to do with writing, but I will wait and see. I have to get my personal life in order, and wait upon God, and see what He has in store.

My favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, ” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

He has plans for you also. We all have a purpose, and it doesn’t matter how young or old you are, God will use you for His glory, if you let Him. And He will change you into His likeness along the way.

So maybe like me, you’ve been through some really difficult times, and you feel like giving up. Let’s believe together that what Satan intended for evil, God will use for good. He can bring something beautiful out of the worst situations. Just keep trusting Him, and seeking His will, and praising Him in the storms of life…

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Words-for people who write, they are so important. If we can just put a word to it, we can understand, and perhaps, for a moment, also be understood.
But when there are no words, what can we do? At times I am forced to hold the feelings in, that threaten to blow me apart, if not released. For a writer, the words must be written. That’s how we give them life.
But sometimes there are no words, and we are trapped in the prison of nothingness. We cry out for a word of explanation, an expression of hope. But we cannot make sense of the senseless, and because we have lost so much, we are afraid to ever hope again.
They say that words are creative, and that they have the power to produce. I believe that, but I wish they had the power to undo what’s already been done. If only we could speak into existence a different reality than the one we are left with.
Everywhere I go, I hear people talking. Mostly they’re talking about the trivial, the superficial, the meaningless. I wish they wouldn’t waste their breath. Careless words without depth make for a superficial society, often without true emotion. The Word tells us that we will give account for every idle word spoken.

Dr. Masuru Emoto took water and exposed it to music, the spoken word, typed words, pictures and videos. As the water crystallized, it became beautiful or ugly, depending on the words, impressions, pictures, prayers, and even thoughts that were directed at it. (His name is Emoto, not Emote, as the video says.) Look at the beauty of the crystals that were exposed to beautiful words (or expressions of beauty), and the ugliness of those exposed to ugly words (or expressions of ugliness). I hope this will touch your heart as it did mine. How much more will a human react to positive or negative words?…

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Today I worked in my flea market booth awhile.  I had been there Friday evening as well, and spent my time dusting, and straightening things, before meeting Rob for dinner at a neighborhood Greek restaurant. Today I removed my old worn out rug, and put down a new one. It’s an indoor flea market, and it gets lots of traffic, so rugs don’t last long.

You should have seen me trying to move things off of the old rug, and trying to remove it from the booth. (My booth has many breakable items, as do the nearby booths.) A couple of things in my booth did hit the floor, but none broke. A miracle!

Down went the new rug, and soon everything was back in place. I have been selling collectibles for many years now, at several different places. I used to have booths in antique stores only, or my coffeehouse, Crossroads. (I had quite a few shelves there.) But one day, I discovered this indoor flea market in our town, and I noticed that it got business year round, not just in tourist season, like so many of the other stores. Eventually I moved out of the antique store that I had been in for 6 or 7 years. It was in an area about an hour from my house, near Pensacola. Several really bad hurricanes hit our town (and the surrounding ones) for a couple of years in a row, and it just stopped the tourist traffic for quite awhile. So I wasn’t making much money there anymore, and it was so far to travel. This indoor flea market is in my town, and I can go whenever I like, and I’m able to frequently restock and straighten my booth. (Since I’m not Moderator on the Grief Board anymore, I should have a little more time. That was very time consuming.)

I love shopping at thrift stores, estate sales, garage sales, etc. I have found so many beautiful, inexpensive bargains over the years, that it has been a challenge deciding what to keep, and what to sell. I guess I like the hunt, and I like to arrange things in my booth. The husband of one of the ladies there remarked that it’s kind of like little girls playing tea party. (Very perceptive comment.) I think it is quite like that.

The name of my booth is Ribbons and Roses. It’s not all that big, but you wouldn’t believe how much I can get in it. I have several white bookcase shelves, a kiosk shelf that came with the booth, and my beautiful mirrored shelves. My husband had the idea to buy some of the wired white shelves, and then have them fitted for mirrors on each shelf area. It makes the glassware reflect so beautifully! I just have two of those in my booth now, because it is much smaller than my previous booth. I brought the others home (two of them.) I couldn’t part with those.

I like to have a Victorian theme. So for some of the shelves, I use hatboxes to display some of my things, like teapots, teacups, gloves, and bouquets of flowers. I love anything girly or feminine.  I also use those cute, decorative little cardboard type suitcases. I put tissue paper in them, and then place my items inside, and display them with the top open. It is so much fun (and a LOT of work!) It’s funny, one day a young man peeped into my booth, took one look, and said, “No testosterone in there!” LOL!

My house is decorated with Victorian touches, though it’s not a Victorian house. (I wish, I wish!) But I love roses, candles, china, teapots, teacups, beautiful throw blankets, lovely pieces of lace, bed trays, cake plates from the depression era, vintage jewelry, shawls, and things like that. (My husband is fine with it, bless his heart.) Grin. 🙂

Tomorrow I will begin to clean house again. So much to do, and it will take awhile. (Much longer than a day, because I have let it get away from me lately.) Then we have so many repairs, and so much reconstruction in the days ahead. I have to remind myself that a little at a time is how it’s all done. (We have not yet replaced our carpet from the flood.) Our family room still has the old carpet, but without the padding, and it needed to come out even before the flood. We’ve had all our carpet for years and years, and it is a bit of a disgrace in places. But the thought of moving all my knick knacks and breakables, to change it out, is exhausting. But we need to. So a little at a time, right?

Working in my Victorian booth today was an escape from all the stresses that I have endured lately, and I have to say that I really, really enjoy being a girl…woman…girl…

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