Dreams for Hope – considering the bigger picture

blue and brown milky way galaxy
Photo by Miriam Espacio on Pexels.com

Hello, Dear Readers. It’s been a minute. And just after I promised to provide more content. Isn’t that just the way? I’ve been ill to a ridiculous degree as of late. Yesterday, I hopped on my social media and once again asked for prayer. Because doggone it – even though I might not see complete healing on this side of the Kingdom, prayer still works. At 2 a.m. this morning, I woke from a dream that I hope I never forget. And to ensure it sticks in me – and maybe even helps one of you out there going through some stuff – I sat up and dictated all of it into my “notes” on my iPhone right away. I’m sharing it here on The Beggar’s Bakery.

By: Jana Greene

Have you ever had a dream that engaged all of your senses to the point that you knew and understood in your spirit it was true, and when you woke, you were disappointed by all the clunky, awkward, itchy reality that is our physical embodiment?  And when you woke, your eyes were blurry, but not just from sleep or astigmatism, but because it’s a part of your physical being and that’s the best it was designed to do here, really. The sudden realization that you are still in your flesh can be jarring.

Physical beings are far inferior to whole souls. Nothing like chronic illness to drive that point home. But in this dream, I feel like I received confirmation that what we are dealing with here on earth is but a vapor. All that seems hopeless and heartless is actually quick, like a measles shot. And when you’re a kid and you get the measles shot, they tell you it will only hurt for a second – and they are right. But even after the sting, you cry loud and long anyway, because you don’t FEEL it anymore, but you feel the indignity of it. Yeah, sometimes I keep squalling even though God is well underway protecting me from harm….just to make sure he knows I was inconvenienced.

That being said, platitude and analogies help NOT ONE BIT when you’re going through really hard shit. You don’t want someone to tell you that it’s temporary, because when you are in searing pain, you’ve already had enough. You had enough yesterday. You had enough four years ago!

In those times, I see with my eyes one who is aging, sick, and cannot see a better way coming. That’s the shadow me. That’s the bone and blood me – the one who eats an entire tube of cookie dough to self-soothe, even though she’s diabetic. The “me” who can be frustrated, petty, and throw emotional tantrums. That’s the me who forgets to look further than what she can physically see.

We are not just our bodies, which get sick and old, janky and irritable. It bitches when the weather turns cold. It runs out of breath going up stairs. It has only so many resources with which to aide in life.

These bodies that so often dictate to our soft, wonderful vulnerable and gooey centers – our true selves –  that we are doomed. That was my mindset last night when I fitfully fell asleep after carefully rearranging my body parts a hundred times so that no one part was screaming over all the others.

In my dream,  I had woken up early in our favorite cabin in the mountains, and wondered how the hell I got there, since I just fell asleep in my own bed. I actually did a “sensory check” to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. (I don’t even trust myself in my sleep, apparently.) I could smell the pines, and see the dust floating in the air, made visible by the rays of sun shining through the slats of the blinds. I could hear the creek below the cabin. I reached down and felt the soft, cozy quilt. The gas logs in the fireplace were even burning.

I slip out of bed to go out on the back porch, but the landscaping around it was all different. There were fences with razor wire where lob-lolly pines should be. I’m squinting hard to make sure I’m really seeing it. Where is all the nature that we so know and love on the premises? Backhoes and other equipment were splayed about, and trees where being felled everywhere. I ran back in to wake my husband. I shook him until he came to, and made him follow me to the back porch. He sleepily stood there, rubbing his eyes. He saw nothing – not one single thing – out of the ordinary, and as such, returned to bed.

I followed him back on his heels. The more I tried to explain what I was saw, the more frustrated I became. I couldn’t make him understand what was happening.

But then I felt a tug from God. And I knew it was God because it certainly wasn’t ME, who was freaking out at that point. I always expect Jesus to come in like thunder and lightning, but no…it’s more like someone gently taking my hand – if my heart had a hand – and leading me somewhere new.

And I WAS somewhere “new.” Back on the rear porch, I observed a virtual Garden of Eden. Not only were the grounds restored, but they were indescribably stunning. Where the pines I love so much are apt to be, were trees I have never seen before and couldn’t accurately paint for you with a paintbrush. Taller, bushier, trees – bright and soft green at the same time. The creek looked like it was made of diamonds – liquid diamonds. And the sound was more a musical rushing than a tinny tinkling. Giant flowers surrounded the cabin, in all shapes and sizes, and they smelled like the breath of angels and a thousand unicorns or something.

Now I knew I couldn’t be dreaming! It was a feast for the senses a million times over!

So I ran back through the cabin onto the front porch and into the wide space directly in front of it. I didn’t wake my husband this time. That nudging again…it led me there. I didn’t need a cane to get there – I RAN! I knew I wasn’t alone at all – as I have been feeling lately –  and that I couldn’t even be alone if I tried.

Absorbed in the experience, I looked skyward to observe the stars, but as I tried to focus, all I could see were heavy clouds. And the the roar of a jet. So I closed my eyes and specifically asked God to let me see with my other eyes – the ones that don’t only perceive the obvious. And closed my eyes with this prayer.

When I opened my eyes again….Majesty around me. Again, I tested my surroundings, bending down to feel the dirt underneath my feet. I could smell the flowers again, and hear the most amazing cacophony of cricket song all round. Simply put, I just saw with my spirit and everything was beautiful. Each time I blinked, a new layer of majestic-ness displayed itself. I couldn’t blink fast enough – couldn’t wait to close my eyes and re-open them, because it was something new and different and beautiful every time. With acknowledgment that I knew God was right next to me, my spirit understood that he was making it happen

When next I looked down at my feet, I was standing on water! It’s impossible, but TRUE! I was standing on the ocean and it was crystal clear. Now, it would be weird if this extraordinary dream didn’t feature a large body of water – its always in my most God-drenched dreams. I could see beautiful sea creatures swimming around below me. Whales, even! Manta rays, sea turtles, colorful fishes.

So above my head now,  it was night, and the stars were mesmerizing and swirling about. Below me was clear, inviting waters, somehow illuminated from below. I wanted to fly to into the starts and let them absorb me. I wanted to dive into the sea and swim with the creatures.

When I’d tried to show my husband the chaos from the back porch earlier, I became frustrated. If you’re not seeing what I’m seeing, I must be wrong. I must be defective. It’s the only explanation. Maybe I’m seeing what I want to see now?

But no. Now I knew in the deepest recesses of my soul that what had upset me earlier was truly happening at the time, but only I could perceive it. Like chronic pain. Like being sick 80% of the time. It’s my reality. But perhaps the bulldozers and fencing – the symbols of destruction and being caged – were only there in the blink of an eye so that I could see they were only making way for the Garden of Eden itself?

Aha.

Suddenly I understood that we are eternal creatures living in a little, poorly-ventilated and inadequate-feeling terrarium. At the risk of channeling my inner hippie, no..man….it only feels that way. We are stardust. We are all one with all creation and any pain or shitty circumstance is a little snapshot from our terrariums. The TRUE us isn’t limited by our ageing bodies and grumpy minds.

We are not our clunky, awkward, itchy realities. Although it’s hard as Hell to remember that when you’re going through the dozing.

And I love “aha” moments, because they can be powerful enough to be the catalyst for new thought patters. And I’m going to try to think more positively today, even as the dream fades. (Check back with me tonight, when I’m soaking in Epsom salts, ha!)

When God sends me dreams like this – and I wish it happened more often – I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was out of my body for a time – senses intact. I don’t need science to prove a thing, I have a soul knowing. And a delicious feeling of familiarity when God casually hangs out with me like that.

Like an inside joke that’s really the truth.

Like an enlightenment that you stumble across, that doesn’t require further validation.

I’m now – in my sweet dream – both swimming and flying. I have no fear whatsoever. And no pain whatsoever. All I know is joy, and that’s a feeling I haven’t had in a long time.

As I’m soaring through nebulae and galaxies, I can clearly tell that every atom is in perfect alignment and in the Heavens, there is no need of improvement. As I swim the depths – somehow breathing in the water – a whale slows down so that I can wrap my arms around his massive being.

And all this time, I sing a song I’ve never heard before to God, who is with me all along for the ride, delighting in me. I sing to him about how majestic he is, and I felt this overwhelming sense of peace that he had the whole universe swirling in the whole of creation was going to be okay.

And at the pinnacle of song, I have to pee.

Yep. That’s how the dream ended! I woke having to pee – how is THAT for a majestic climax! This old body still going to make demands no matter what.

I hear you, I hear you, I said to my bladder, realizing that I’d been asleep all along. But I wasn’t sad anymore. Or lonely. No matter how alone we feel in any experience, I assure you, we are not.

I know I’ve heard and seen and felt a truth that surpasses every reason for every frustration. Yes, it was a dream, but it was also confirmation that the same Power that swirls the stars and combs the seas hasn’t forgotten about little old me. Or you.

I think when I looked out on the initial destruction behind the cabin, it was all I could see. When I returned from trying to convince my husband of it, I felt God say “Use your other eyes. What do you see with your spirit?”

Eyeballs don’t see it all. That’s my take away. They see what shines on the back of our retina. They see light and color but only as the mechanics that biology makes possible.

Our peepers get eyestrain from computers, and reading, and just existing. They only see in the natural, and that’s the problem with eyeballs. We rely on them, I know I do. I trust them to see the world around me with the problem comes when I expect them to see the world in which we live, which, comparatively,  is nearly nothing. We truly see through a Glass.darkly.

When I feel l pain, all I see is pain. And we trust everything around us to be evidence of our senses, but we are so much more than our senses. There’s so much more. And I badly needed that reminder tonight.

The dream was so realistic that I am going out on a limb and I’m going to say that it was in fact, real. Because who’s to say that revelations like this are less real than the tangible world that disappoints us so?

Certainly not me!

I have little doubt that this dream manifested as a result of the prayers of good and faithful friends, who took the time to say a prayer.

And even when biology points otherwise, my prayers always are answered.

Last night didn’t come in a dramatic throwing down of my cane, or doing a Benny Hinn jig, or even waking up without a headache. But it came with fresh hope, which has a much longer shelf life.

You see, we think we know what we want manifested prayers to look like. We think it is like ordering at McDonald’s. I’d like a cheeseburger with extra pickles, and a Diet Coke. When I drive up to the window, I expect a cheeseburger with extra pickles, and a Diet Coke. The prayers are not made to order.

When we petition have an on behalf of some other person we love, God always gets the order right. It may not look like what we thought, what we “designed,” what we ordered off the menu.

But it’s always what we need. And in the end, that’s so much better.

So much tastier. So much more satisfying.

So thank you, dear ones.

Thank you for praying for me. Because God gave my soul what my physical embodiment could never provide or handle.

God bless us, everyone

Things I want to Say Before Dying (while I’m still very much alive…)

adult affection beads blur
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

If there is one thing chronic pain and illness remind you of, it’s that we are all dying. Or as my former pastor used to chide, “We are all terminal.” (And yes, I’m fine – not going anywhere anytime soon. Just in a very reflective mood.)

So, why then do we put all of those spoken things on the back burner? Not all of us will have the opportunity to take them out of layaway.

Too often, our “famous last words” turn out to be neither famous nor last, and precious things often hang in the air unsaid. And life is too short for that.

Something that my mother used to say has taken on new meaning to me lately: “Flowers are for the living.” Why wait for funerals to give flowers or kind words?

So I’m telling you now – yes, you who are reading this. I don’t talk to you enough. Worse, I don’t listen to you enough. But I want you to know you are always on my heart.  I care about every word you ever said, and its woven its way into the tapestry of our friendship. Because at the risk of sounding hippy-dippy, we are all connected.

When things you told me – profound and trivial – come to my mind like random thoughts are apt to do, my face breaks out in a little state of happy.

When all the struggles you shared met my ears, my heart filed them away and brings a poignant pang to my soul when I remember even still.

Nothing you have ever confided in me ceases to exist. Nothing ever goes to waste.

All of the weaving becomes who we all are: The smiles, the jokes, the lessons we painfully teach each other and ourselves. The music we share, the memes we post.

All of it.

Perhaps if you’ve known me long enough, you remember when we were teenagers, and we would cut pictures out of magazines and make collages of our “futures” – page after page of handsome men we hoped to marry, sporty cars we dreamed to drive, trappings of all the careers we were going to excel at, picture-perfect children we were sure we’d raise. We made vision boards before there were vision boards, and we went through untold numbers of glue sticks in our quests to summon perfect futures.

Thank you for sticking through when nothing turned out as we’d hoped. Thank you for staying by my side when things turned out more difficult than our 13 year old minds could conceive, and more wonderful than any of our dreams we could have imagined.

When we bore our babies and did the “Mom Circuit’ together – lazy days of trips to Gymboree, the park, McDonald’s ball pits, endless breastfeeding sessions and diaper changes, co-rejoicing with one another over each ad every milestones our babies reached?

Remember always feeling like we were missing the mark somehow? But still, we never  did allow each other to entertain the idea that we were less-than stellar mommies. Encouragement was the order of our tired mommy days, every day.

And as the kids grew, we somehow lost ourselves. All didn’t go according to plan after all. But you were there for me, always. I never felt like I was going it alone. Thank you. It’s impossible to put a value on always feeling understood.

Little did we know that those were the easy times. Ah, but they were, by FAR. Because by the time I had a chance to catch my breath, I had to figure out who I was – apart from “MOM” – all over again. So did you.

And as we reached middle age, friendships took on new importance. No longer were they relationships to be sandwiched in between the chaos of parenting and busy marriages, but tantamount to every aspect of our lives, our very selves.

Thank you, life-giving friends.

Thank you for mourning my losses with me. Thank you for understanding when I feel like I don’t measure up, and assuring me I do anyway. Thank you for finding the humor in all the things that could otherwise easily take me down if I didn’t learn remember to laugh about them. Thanks for inside jokes, and finding joy in chocolate, and getting pissed off with me about all the stupid stuff. Thanks for reminding me that faith isn’t a lofty ideal and goal to shoot for, but a resting place and a safety net.

Remember that time I reached out to you in desperation, all full of despair and tears, snot and hopelessness? You swore I’d make it through to the other side, and my darling? You are one of the direct reasons I did.

The times I swore I would pick up a drink, but didn’t…

The times I was so lonely I thought I’d die…

the times I felt life’s greatest losses so keenly I was sure I would not survive another day…

Thanks for believing that I wouldn’t die from the pain.

That I’d survive,

That the gains and blessings in my life would outnumber those losses.

From this day forward, I want to cultivate a lifestyle of giving voice to things big and small. I don’t want opportunities to show gratitude to pass us by. I don’t want to miss a chance to laugh over something ridiculously silly, or a chance to forgive something hurtful.

I want to say I’m sorry when I am (but learn not to apologize for things that aren’t my fault.) I want YOU to know that you mean the world to me. Whether I know you well or just barely, you bring something to my life you cannot imagine bringing – just by being you.

if I never get the formal opportunity to thank you, friends….please know who grateful I am for each and every one of you. There are more reasons to be grateful than I could ever count.

Flowers are for the living, you see.

Here’s one to you from me.

 

Sisterhood of Solidarity – Chronic Illness and that B*tch, Depression

img_0299

By: Jana Greene

Greetings to the 1,950 people STILL with me here at the BB, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate and love my dear readers. ❤ I guess I should start this post with a disclaimer:

Warning – this is not a happy, shiny, churchy article.

It does not “glorify the lord,” necessarily. (Although I’m of the mind that God will be glorified in EVERYTHING in it’s time…)

Also – and let’s just get this out of the way – I have salty language. I’d like to say I’m working on it, but I’m trying to be transparent, and it’s actually the least of my damn worries.

Please don’t tell me how I’m already healed by the stripes of Jesus.

Please don’t insist I pull myself up by the bootstraps.

Please don’t tell me I am…

(1) under demonic oppression (been there, got that T-shirt…),

(2) not trusting God (because when someone is hurting, making them question their faith is always helpful,) Or…

(3) need to try an essential oil / nutritional shake (although it tickles me that the same issue can be considered “treated” by demon expulsion OR Plexus! Whichever!)  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I believe the last time I posted, I resolved to write a post every single day for a while, which was vintage me – setting up expectations I will never fulfill. I’m wicked good at writing emotional checks that my mind can’t cash.

Today I decided to write because I find myself in more solidarity with my depression than with my fellow sisters who are also fighting the good fight. I’m not sure what anxiety and depression feel like to you, but here’s my breakdown:

A sense of DOOM. Doom. Doom, dooooooom.

It also feels like:

Nothing is going to work out.

I’ll always be in physical pain.

I’ll probably always struggle.

But sometimes, you just have to get sassy back.

Sometimes, you just need to call a bitch out, and this bitch is DEPRESSION.

It has taken literal YEARS to receive the correct diagnoses-es, fight with God about the ensuing bitterness, and come to an acceptance.

Usually, I am pretty freaking accepting and have figured out a million work-arounds to deal with life.

“Doom mind” isn’t the most most Christian-ese terminology. Even admitting that I still struggle with it still feels janky, because being vulnerable is hard. Aren’t we supposed to play OPTIMISTIC, HEALTHY, and LIGHT-HEARTED?

The thing is, I’m not sure Christians are doing the hurting world any favors by wearing these stupid masks. I don’t think Jesus judges depressed people for being depressed. It doesn’t licit his anger, but his compassion. That much I DO know.

I am a pretty happy person, generally. I LOVE life.

I absolutely LOVE to laugh. I’m creative. I love hard. I don’t want to be sad.

Usually, it’s just easier for everyone for me to fake being okay.

Dry that tear.

Minimize that limp.

Ignore the anxiety attack.

Get out of those pajamas.

Apologize for being depressed – I have so much to be grateful for!

But some days, I can’t muster putting on a happy face.

Life is different now. Not always “bad,” but always “different.”

Mobility aids are not sexy. Prescriptions are not cheap. And you can only watch so many episodes of 90 Day Fiance without losing your ever-loving mind.

I’m hurting too bad to walk, just less climb mountains. My creativity feels shriveled up like it will NEVER return. I watch a thousand funny cat videos, but can’t rally with laughter.

It comes. It goes.

I’m doing my best.

And I’m supposed to do it without picking up a drink!

I don’t know how my friends remain supportive, and I appreciate them so much. But I also lay low sometimes especially with the good friends. Because who the hell wants to be bummed out?

I certainly don’t understand how my husband stays supportive. This is not what he signed up for (although to be fair, this is not what I signed up for either.)

Even for those of us blessed enough to be surrounded by love, it’s lonely. I cannot call my husband at work and worry him when he is already supporting his family by working hard every day. I wouldn’t want to. He has enough on him already!

I cannot call my daughters and whine every time I’m anxious or hurting, even though they are wonderfully supportive grown-ups. They have lives, and I want them to live their BEST possible ones.

So today, I’m writing as a little “reach out” measure in the blogosphere. Where my “spoonie” sisters at?

We just need eachother.

Something not a lot of people know about it a phenomenon that sick people – believers or not – don’t want or intend to check out.

We need to be able to say that we’re not okay without people assuming we are suicidal. I know people would rather be safe than sorry, but despondency comes in many flavors, and not all are true red flags. Some are just white flags of surrender.

I’m ok.

I’m not a danger.

I don’t need triage care.

I just need care.

I just need to know somebody else understands this lonely struggle with chronic pain and the havoc it wreaks on us via depression. Unless you are going through it, it’s hard to grasp, I’d imagine. I used to find this kind of thing impossible to understand myself.

A lack of serotonin and constant, unrelenting physical pain is a special kind of hell. I know Jesus walks through it with me; I totally feel his presence. I know I’m not completely alone. But damn if it can’t still feel lonely.

I’m writing today NOT because I have any answers, but because I feel alone and wonder if other chronically ill people feel me.

Do you understand?

If you do, I’m so sorry.

But how do you pull yourself up?

Let’s figure out this thing together and help one another.

When I have a painful day, and I say I’m DONE, the done-ness I’m talking about is hard to explain. It’s like when your toddler is at the grocery store and suddenly, inexplicably dissolves into a screaming, snot-faced, NO monster on Aisle 11, and cannot be reasoned with. He is DONE (temporarily.)

But I will. And I will smile / laugh / create another day.
So will you. ❤

Affirmations for the Chronically Ill (or, self-resentment doesn’t work)

By: Jana Greene

So, here’s the backstory: I have chronic pain and illness on a multitude of health fronts. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome results from a genetic anomaly that affects the collagen my body makes and stores. It’s basically like every cell in my body is held together with bubble gum instead of gorilla glue. I have autoimmune issues, which results in pretty much ALWAYS being sick. I pick up every bug and and – in turn – a secondary infection usually follows. But wait! There’s MORE … which I will spare you in this post, on account of it’s a long ass list and the purpose of me writing this is simply to flip the script on how I typically handle living every day with sickness and pain.

Because you see, I am hard on myself. You are probably harder on yourself than YOU should be, too. Over the past 10 years of never-ending health drama, I have come to hate my own body. 

I blame it for keeping me from doing things. 

I am constantly resentful of it that it HURTS all the time.

I chastise it for holding me back.

This morning, as I write this, I am sick again. I must have picked up some new, exotic virus in Charlotte last week, when we evacuated due to Hurricane Dorian. I envision my crappy immune system seizing upon the opportunity to allow me to catch something exciting and new, instead of just “local crud.” “Hey, look!” It said. “She hasn’t had THIS bug before! Let’s stand down and not do a damn thing while she suffers!”

So, as a result, I have been sick as a dog for five days, and have not left my bed. There were times in my life where the “luxury” of lying in bed and “relaxing” for five days sounded like a DREAM. But I can assure you, it is it’s own special hell. Times like these, I ESPECIALLY hate my own body. 

My constant thoughts can be summed up in this one analogy: “I hate driving this clunker.” My body is like an old car that is falling apart on piece at a time, and all the while, I’m supposed to keep up on the Autobahn with everyone else. When I am trying to do normal things, the brakes fail and I dislocate a joint. When I push through pain to go to the grocery store, OOPS, there goes the bumper! As I maneuver my clunker about on the daily, I wonder if people who can lift heavy grocery bags without subluxation really appreciate what they can do.

Chronic illness is fertile ground for depression to sprout and spread like kudzu. Anxiety is a natural by-product of that depression.

This morning – on day five of this particular virus – I got up to use the bathroom and my hip tried it’s level best to slip out of the socket, which is about as much fun as it sounds. I turned my head this morning to talk to my husband, and because my lymph nodes are like golf balls, it hurt like hell. This kind of stuff WEARS on a person. No wonder I hate my own body!

BUT….

So far, hating my own self has not proven effective in dealing with this life. I know in my innermost being that our bodies are just our “earth suits;” they house our spirits and good or bad, they are not the most important component of who we are. What if instead of spending so much time resenting the body that houses my illnesses, I treated it like I would any other sick or injured person’s body? 

I would NEVER talk down to another human being the way I do to myself. I would never say things like…

You never do anything right.

Why are you so defective?

Why can’t you just be normal like everyone else?

Why can’t you do the simplest things without pain?

You are a piece of crap. A genetic nightmare.

You will never get better, so why do you even try?

So this morning, I had a jolting thoughts, and they were so poignant, I almost cried…. 

My body is hella strong to keep on keepin’ on!

My lymph nodes are so swollen. Oh my God, they must be working SO HARD to get me well!

My joints slipped out of place again. Holy shit! They work so hard with the materials they have been given. Amazing!

I’m so exhausted, because my immune system is trying with all it’s might to FIGHT. How strong it is to keep fighting!

I hurt so much, but it’s because my earth suit refuses to GIVE UP!

We all love the idea of affirmations, but we rarely employ them, I think. We hold Oprah and Brene Brown in high esteem because they are not afraid to pep talk themselves and not dwell in suffering. I’m going to try to work on this, because the status quo is not working for me. Resenting my own body – or illnesses, or pain – is simply stoking the fire of depression and anxiety.

So today, I can tell you that I am wicked STRONG. 

I am sick, but it is not what defines me.

I’m in pain, but I overcome every single day.

When I need rest, it’s to help this “clunker” get back on the road again.

DAMN, girl! You are a survivor!

I’ll be kinder to myself if YOU will. I think we chronic illness sufferers deserve at least as much grace as we give others. 

Let’s make a conscious effort to appreciate how very hard our bodies work to get through what normies do in the course of every day. 

Let’s do that cornball thing where we stand in front of the actual mirror and give our bodies an “atta girl!” and a “thank you!” every day. 

Our souls can only benefit from it!

Because we are FIGHTERS, through and through.

The Grace Gospel Poem

img_7854

By: Jana Greene

What if you were already “right with the Lord,”

And didn’t have to live by the sword,

And battle every single day

With what you do or what you say?

What if you embraced your human-ness,

And didn’t have to strive and stress,

And earn your way into His good graces,

Would you then lean into wide open spaces

Of redemption and love, unconditionally given.

Would you then be so afraid of living?

If we believe what we claim to believe

Could our weary hearts gain a reprieve?

What if His love is totally free.

What, then, would would you open up to be?

What if you could truly rest,

Would you be less exhausted and less of a mess?

Does “it is finished” ring true to you,

Or are you still giving the devil his due?

We try so hard to earn His grace

When really if we seek his face,

We are already there

It is finished and done,

We are one with the Father

And one with the Son,

And Holy Spirit will guide us through;

If you trusted completion,

Tell me, what would you do?

 

When Depression Makes Landfall

grayscale photo of woman covering her mouth using her hands
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

By: Jana Greene

Hi, Dear Readers.

Can I keep it real today?

I was going to title this piece, “When it’s too much,” but then I asked myself to be more specific….WHAT is “too much?” What exactly is it that is TOO MUCH for me to handle right now? The answer is simply YES.

Everything.

I’m feeling so defeated and sad today. I was doing pretty well with water aerobics, which I’ve been enjoying since February – it’s the only exercise my joints can handle. A week ago in class, I tore a muscle in my right hip doing underwater side kicks.

By the way, not one single 80 + year old woman in the whole class had trouble with that maneuver. Yet such a simple movement took me down. I’m looking at yet MORE physical therapy now and I can’t do the class for the foreseeable future.

This injury is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, er….hip.

I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, along with a half dozen other debilitating, exhausting, painful conditions. And it’s driving my depression into this hurricane-force thing that is spiraling in my spirit. The outer bands are making landfall today, and I can feel the intensity whipping up.

EDS is a progressive thing, meaning all of the cells in my body have mutated collagen, and I’m not going to get better.I do not – can not – take narcotics for my chronic pain because I’m an alcoholic in recovery 18 years and I still don’t trust myself to go that route.

I am literally wearing out. It’s getting to where I can hardly move my body some days, and when I do, each movement sounds like a bone cracking. In addition to being annoying, it’s painful. And embarrasing.

It’s TOO MUCH.

Yes, I know by the Stripes of Jesus, I am healed. I have had every deliverance ministry method prayed over me. People have told me that if I ‘just believe more’, I’d be healed.

To which I say, STOP TELLING SICK PEOPLE THESE THINGS. When they don’t get healed Binny Hinn-style, it adds insult to injury. Not only are you in sick and experiencing chronic pain, but NOW you doubt your faith and feel inferior and less-than a “good Christian.”

My genes are still mutated. God knows about it. He and I are square, after many years of me being bitter and angry. He knew my joints would held together with bubble gum instead of gorilla glue, so to speak. He isn’t angry with me. He isn’t punishing me. It just falls under the header of “shit happens,” and it happens to everyone in one capacity or another.

Better to just encourage and love on the chronically ill. That’s what we need.

Because I have anxiety and depression under normal circumstances, but there have been several times in my life when I couldn’t push through it…when I went from being sad and low-grade anxious, to I CANNOT GET OUT OF BED.

Not “I really FEEL like staying in bed” … no. I literally – as the Millennials say – I CAN NOT EVEN.

Can not even laugh.

Can not even cry.

Can not even do the things I love – like create art, and even just BLOG.

But I know if I don’t get it out in writing and share it with others who might be able to relate, it will only gather strength. So here is a blog post. The one thing I have gotten done today.

I’m tired. I am so tired. There are too many things going on in my home life and (lack of) professional life. Too much change. Too much pain. Just too much.

Most days, I try to be positive, and some days I can even find the humor in things, but when every joint in my body is hurting – and the hip is almost unbearable – it makes it difficult. This is approximately the tenth injury in the last few months. From small rib subluxations to finger dislocations, a sprained wrist, to all the crappy, debilitating POTs symptoms, and constant illness from having a horrible immune system….

I’m TOAST. Ever feel that way?

I know Jesus walks with me. I know he crouches down with me in the dark places. And yes, I know “this too will pass.” But it’s sure as hell not yet in the process of passing right now.

It’s the most frustrating thing in the world to realize all of your blessings, but still not be able to pull yourself up out of the sadness.

Hey, thanks for reading my work, ya’ll. In joviality and in sorrow. In celebration and in grieving. Knowing I have so many precious readers who take the time to read my innermost thoughts is both mind-blowing and comforting. We are never, NEVER alone in what we go through!

I hope when this blows over, I can get back to business being snarky and ultra-spiritual (that’s a joke, ha.) But I’m of the mind that when we are in low places, it doesn’t mean we are less-than spiritual. It just means our spirits need a little more help.

God bless us, every one.

Resurrecting the Bakery – a blog revival

Beggars

By: Jana Greene

Hello, dear readers.

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged; the longest span of time in the six year history of The Beggar’s Bakery.  In the interim, I began another blog, “So She Laughed Anyway,” which takes on issues with a humorous bent. I think I’ve only posted three posts to it. It has been a dry season, writing-wise.

But here in a difficult place, I find myself needing to write again. And I think I need to do so often, as writing things down seems to relocate my thoughts to a better, less scary, neighborhood. The challenge to myself is to write a blog post every day, for 60 days. I am prayerful that God gives me material with which to work, but chances are good some of the posts might be drivel. If I go off the rails, please be patient with me. I will get my mojo back at some point.

What has been happening since last we met? A lot. A whole lot.

Over the past two years especially, my heart has been in religion deconstruction mode. In crisis with my health, I came face to face with the issue of trying to relegate the personal Jesus I know with the dogma of the Church Proper, and Jesus came out on top. I questioned everything I’d ever been taught, took a historical and contextual look at the Bible, and prayed that the very Spirit of God would reveal truth to me. I plan on touching on this process in the days to come. Much like any worthwhile endeavor, the process has not been linear. In reconstructing my entire faith, I feel like I might be able to tell others “where to find bread” again. But it won’t be white-washed and it won’t be fundamentalist Christianity. It will be Truth.

The aforementioned illness is a trifecta of health issues that are slowly causing me to lose mobility, and constantly causing me pain. Every day. Pain, in one form or another. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, POTs, and Mast Cell Activation Disease, severe and recurrent migraines, along with lots of other disorders and diseases. I just call it “Alphabet Soup Disorder” to save time. Lots of acronyms. Some of my genes are mutated, I am only grateful that neither of my children seems to have inherited these issues.

So, suffice to say, I am home a lot. I am by myself a lot. This necessity has proven to be both a benefit and a curse. It’s a sticky wicket, because the more isolated I become, the more depressed I get, and the more depressed I become, the less I want to physically be with my friends, because sick people can be a real drag.

There are two of me these days.  There is the sick me, who seems to be taking over some days. She is whiny, sad, hopeless, and in horrible pain; and there is the REAL me, who loves to laugh, be silly, encourage people, and travel. The real me is clawing her way back, but it seems that each time I gain a little foothold on the side of the wellness cliff, another boulder comes tumbling down. Sounds dramatic, right? Well, it feels dramatic.

It’s been a dramatic year for my family. A very difficult time. Yet I still haven’t taken a drink, and for that I am proud and very grateful.

I’ve begun a new hobby recently that has been a stepping stone to writing again. I’ve discovered abstract art, and the therapy of painting. A pretty good gauge of my mental health is the amount of paint on my person. The days I am up to my elbows in acrylics are the days that I started off sad and scared, and in some degree of physical and mental pain – and ended up creating something colorful that cheers me.

So, I am setting a goal to blog every day for two months, but I’m not going to set it in stone. I am fantastic at setting unrealistic expectations of myself. I’m going to try to write here or at SoSheLaughedAnyway.com each day, even when nothing I have to say is earth-shattering. I need to get back in the habit, even if not one single person reads my stuff.

There will be “brain droppings” (as the late, great George Carlin called random musings) about recovery, chronic illness, spiritual growth, and the general absurdity of life; and literally God only knows what else.

There will be posts with what some might consider controversial subject matter. There will be potty words. There will be transparency about my relationship with God, which looks almost nothing like it used to, but in a good way. There will be randomness.

Oh, so much randomness.

If you’re one of the 1,950 subscribers to The Beggar’s Bakery, I am so grateful for you. Thanks for sticking around. ❤ Please consider following “So She Laughed Anyway” on WordPress as well.

If you’re new, welcome to the jungle!

My goal is simple: Do life honestly, and share the journey.

God bless us, every one.