Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dealing...Which car should I miss?

Continuing this theme of being candid about what it is like to live with MS. It seems to target the nerve or nerves most critical to your lifestyle. It's weird like that, unique in some ways to the individual and some things the same across the board. Fatigue, for instance. Every MS patient I have met has to fight this. Not everyone loses their vision or their balance. It hit my optic nerve; hit it hard. For a teacher that is a death knell, a career stopper.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Driving is a symbol of independence. So giving up the car keys was another hurdle. What helped me make that decision was that I realized that driving myself to pottery class used up all my energy and left none for doing what I went there to do. That was dumb. I had to drive extra distance to make a left turn so I had a stop light because I could not tell which one of those three oncoming cars to avoid. Yes, I saw three cars when there was only one. Every drive was a "white knuckle" event. Dumb again. I asked the husband of one of the ladies in the class if he could please drop me off at my husband's office. When I told him the reason he saluted, said he'd be happy to and thanked me on behalf of all the drivers on the road for my eminent wisdom!    
Image courtesy of Microsoft
And depth perception? Well there is little to none. I feel for the curb with my toe. It all looks flat to me but the curb is often clearly marked so I know it is there. The first step is a hard one! The pain memory from a couple times of stepping off as if it were flat helps you remember to check! You only do it once or twice.

And the Lord calls me to be a writer knowing all about these difficulties! I have taken the stance that I want to learn everything I can learn from this disease--milk it for all it's worth! I believe that God only gives good gifts and even things that don't look like gifts to me might contain some gold so I didn't fold up and sit in a pity party (not for long anyway). I will not judge God or His Word by my experience; rather I will judge my experience by His word. He is good. I figured if He asked me to do this then I either already had the resources, needed to use the resources I have differently, or He would supply what was yet needed. The computer is a great resource. I enlarged my fonts and made the lines at 1.5--viola the lines no longer run into each other.
Image courtesy of Microsoft

Just talking or thinking about the difficulties makes me tired. I have much more energy if I keep my thoughts joy filled or if I dialogue with God as I am doing a task. It is as if I can draw energy from Him whereas when I focus on a difficulty it is like letting go of my energy source. Consequently, I don’t talk about it much. And this is about enough for today…I need to get back  into joy or I will lose the rest of the day! I hope this gives you a bit of insight into what my life is like with a chronic condition.

St. Paul said that he gloried in his infirmities. I look at that and shake my head, confiding in God that I am not there yet and don't know if I ever will be. One day in the kitchen sweeping, the thought flew through my head that I wondered how God saw all of the derailments and hard things in my life. About two hours later I gasped because I was looking at all those events from His point of view. I don’t know how He does that—must be like a Vulcan mind meld! All I could do was say, “Thank you, Lord! Thank you!”

From His point of view each place that I had felt would “be my home” and I would stay there for the rest of my life—each place was a temporary assignment. I assumed it was a place to put my roots down deep. Erroneously I thought I had come into my destiny, so when the assignment came to an end and I had to move on I was hurt and confused. It was a temporary assignment to gain a skill set or hone a skill and gain expertise that I would need in the next assignment. The final derailment was this MS attack. From God’s point of view it works perfectly to give me the time to write the things that are on His heart, and that truly is my destiny: to be His friend and scribe, to stay just one step behind Jesus so I won't get lost and am close enough to hear what He says and write it down without the distractions of a teaching career, papers to grade, committee meetings and assignments...politics (ugh). I am closer to glorying in my infirmity than I have ever been before. At least I am grateful, and I have found my way back to joy.
How about you? How are you dealing with the “hard thing” in your life? What helps you keep your faith and perspective? I would love for you to share your story of how the enemy meant for your destruction but God turned things around for you. It would be a big encouragement to us all!

Blessings, Carol…making it plain
Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 day at a time

Myrrh plant - Photo courtesy of Google Images
It dawned on me that I had not posted here lately. Two reasons: First, I have been consumed with starting this new project on joy, (which I love!) setting up a new website to go with it:, gathering materials in preparation for a big "write in" for the book we will write about "Joy Starters" and making decisions to bring to a different server. And secondly, it is abundantly clear that I have energy limitations due to the fact that MS has been an unwelcome squatter in my life.

I've been encouraged to be candid about living with MS. I have this to say about that: MS SUCKS! There I said it. It's true. MS has taken away nearly everything that told me who I am and that gave me a sense of worth, value and belonging. It has wrecked havoc on my self image and sorely pressed my faith.
 At times I could hear Job's wife screaming at me to curse God and die. For some reason that I do not understand I could not do that. I turned and looked at that screaming demon through my brain fog and sloth-like I slowly thought, "Why would I do that? It doesn't make sense." Like Peter, I thought, "To whom and where would I go if I broke relationship? There is no other place to go for me." I could not wrap my mind around living without Jesus in my life. So I turned to Him with everything and pounded His chest; I shouted, cried and asked my questions, told Him how unfair it was and questioned His motives. Then I went logical and pointed out that He was shotting Himself in the foot because after all He poured into me I would be unable to do what He had gifted and prepared me to do. But it didn't change anything. Not His love for me and not my condition.
Let me just stay with the faith part of it...we can come back to the other issues in later blogs. One time in that first year I had one of those times when you don't know if you dreamed or if it was a vision or what. Everything was so foggy. That's what brain damage does to you. You sleep a lot; that's how your brain recovers. So was I sleeping in the day time and had a dream or was it a vision? I don't know. But what I saw was Jesus and me inside a clay jar (must have been a big one!) and we had been wrestling. At the moment we were both resting after a round, my feet up against the side He was leaning on and His feet on the wall that I was leaning against; our clothes stuck to our bodies from sweat; it was pouring down our faces. He is bigger than me, but that did not stop me! I guess I was like Jacob who wrestled with God, but unlike Jacob I don't remember getting any promise out of Him.
A couple days earlier someone had given me a song about myrrh and how it's fragrance is released only when it is crushed. As we were catching our breath I told the Lord that unlike myrrh, crushing me only made a stink. He smiled at me and there was so much love and understanding in that smile that it undid me! I get teary eyed just thinking about it. Without words He communicated, "of course it would smell that way because your senses were not yet fully redeemed!" But that look of love in His eyes...somehow I knew that I would be unable to understand even if He explained it to me. Understanding something of that magnitude is beyond my human design capabilities. I didn't like that answer but my spirit knew that He was right. Now some 17+ years later I know that I don't have the capacity physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually to process all that happened to me so it sits on a shelf I labeled "mystery" and as He grows my capacity we will process one aspect after another.
What do you do with a God like that? Who let's you beat on Him, yell at Him and question His motives and still hold onto you with such love? Akkk it just unwinds every over tight spring in my body! My response was to just love Him back...with however much capacity I had.

If you have a chronic condition or an "incurable disease," how has it affected your faith and how did you handle your diagnosis?

Blessings, Carol Brown
Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive
Work in Progrss -- Joy Starters

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Is Forgiveness the "F" Word?

Photo Courtesy of Microsoft Images

For many, forgiveness is a dirty word. It may conger up memories of forced apologies or asking forgiveness because someone twisted your arm behind your back and asking forgiveness was the only way to stop the pain. There is usually a very good historical reason for feeling the way we do about forgiveness. However, God does not coerce. He is all about relationship. He wants us to understand the consequences of our choices, but does not twist our arm until we choose to live life His way.

What does the word mean? Sometimes it helps to look at what a word is NOT before we can wrap our minds around what it is. We must have a proper understanding of forgiveness if we hope to be free and whole.

Forgiveness is not saying what happened to you was right, that it did not hurt, or that it does not matter. Truth is, the hurt/abuse/neglect was not right, it did hurt, and it does matter. Forgiveness is not making excuses or letting people off easy. Criticism, undercutting, minimizing are not all right, it does hurt and it does matter to God and to you. Forgiveness is recognizing that the hurt, trouble, and anguish is bigger than you are and that you cannot cope with the accumulation of hurt and burdens on your own. To forgive is to release that accumulation to the Lord for Him to do with according to His own discretion. It is an invitation for the Lord to free and heal “me.” It is giving Jesus the responsibility to determine justice for those who hurt you. Forgiveness does not let someone off the hook—it puts the offender on Jesus’ hook.

You do not need to forgive and forget. Psalm 103:12 does say that God forgives and removes your sins from you as far as the east is from the west. It does say that God remembers your sins no more and does not hold them against you. I have not found any Scripture that says that you have to forgive and then forget about it and act as if nothing happened when you were hurt. God can afford to forget. When God forgets, He does not literally lose all conscious awareness of the offence, no! Forgetting is not amnesia; for if it was, there would be no record in Scripture of any specific sin that had been committed, then forgiven. God “forgets” in the sense of dismissing the case from court. A record of the offense remains, but it does not affect your life.

God can forget and still be appropriate because He has boundless wisdom. You and I do not. We need to learn from what happens to us. If you have no conscious recollection of everything you forgive, where would the learning be? You would go out and be hurt again! You are to forgive and remember. When you remember, you will not again walk into hurtful situations with your heart wide open. You forget only in the sense that God does, you dismiss it from court—in the court of your heart you hand the person over to God, allowing Him to hold the person accountable.

Forgiving someone does not mean you have to immediately trust the person. First Peter 2:17 says that you should “respect everyone.” No exceptions. But, nowhere does the Scripture say you should “trust all men.” Even Jesus did not entrust himself to men, for He knew what was in the hearts of men (John 2:24). And He said to not throw pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6). When David sneaked through camp and stole Saul’s spear and water jug, Saul apologized and asked him to come back to Jerusalem, but David did not go back to Jerusalem, for he knew Saul’s heart would not retain his momentary repentance (I Samuel 24). Time proved David correct.

You can forgive a person who is not trustworthy because you want to be untangled; you need to be free to heal. If a parent (or other significant person) is a buzz saw that cuts you to pieces, forgive them for the hurt so you can go on with life, but you do not have to act as if nothing happened. No one knowingly walks back into the path of a buzz saw! It is possible to honor a parent or a person by respecting them, but at the same time give a wide enough berth to prevent new hurt from happening.

You respect your parents and others when you treat them the way you want to be treated. You can think for yourself; you can make your own choices, be responsible for your own thoughts and attitudes, responsibilities, and burdens as well as your own speech, deceptions, denials, blame or tempers. You respect your parents and others when you ask or entreat them to be responsible for those same things. Trust and respect (honor) are not the same.

After confession and forgiveness, you have room in your heart and spirit for the Lord’s love for the one you forgave. You will be more able to see the person through God’s eyes of love rather than through the filter of hurt and resentment, but this does not necessarily come quickly.

A young man came to my husband for prayer ministry with such an active hatred for his father that he wanted him dead, and said as much. After he confessed and repented of the hatred, and asked forgiveness for it, in a vision he saw the Lord standing over his father with sword raised to strike the man down. In alarm he cried, “No, Lord!” The Lord replied, “But you said you wanted him dead.” The confession, repentance, and forgiveness cleaned the wound. Then the son could see his father more clearly. Love flooded forward, and he interceded on his father’s behalf. This story indicated to me that God agreed with the son’s assessment that his father’s behavior was unacceptable. But the son went on to hate, whereas, God’s heart was forgiveness, not vengeance.  God knew the young man’s heart, and to help him come to a place of repentance and forgiveness He showed him what the consequences of that hatred would look like. The son’s error was not in the assessment, but in the hatred.

This is an excerpt from The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity, chapter 11, Bringing Healing. If you would like to know more about this book you may visit my website: or want to purchase the book it is available from the website, or
Action Step: This week take a few minutes to think about someone you have a hard time forgiving and see if it is because of a misconception of what forgiveness actually is. True forgiveness is not necessarily easy, and people who are highly sensitive feel hurt more keenly; the wound goes deeper. Ask for Jesus perspective on the issue.
Blessings, Carol...making it plain
Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive