We Will Praise Him!

My heart has felt heavy lately. I’ve felt like my dog Molly’s stuffed moose “Gregory” with all the stuffing ripped out of him, one eye missing, and half of one antler gone, leaving nothing but a rag. Head injury and job loss just seem like too much.

But, after reading a chapter in Martha Peace’s book Damsels In Distress I was hit by so much conviction. Do I praise Him in the good times AND in the bad? Or just praise Him when all is well like my wayward heart was doing the last few days. She went on to mention how praising God in our trials because He is working them out for our good is something we can do as believers to glorify His name. If we go around all down in the mouth and slump shouldered that brings shame to our testimony as believers in Jesus. He deserves our praise in every storm we face no matter how hard or how scary or real they are. When we praise God, the world looks at us in wonder, and marvels at our faith in our Savior as we journey these valleys keeping our eyes on Him. They observe us steadfastly holding onto and clinging to Him while we sit at the foot of the cross in full surrender to His will. This brings glory, honor and praise to His awesome and majestic name.

Exodus 15:2 King James Version (KJV)

2 The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Jesus is with us in every storm. Every test or trial is from His loving hand and He carries us through them to refine us bringing forth gold. He could give us nothing but sunshine and lollipops but then we wouldn’t need Him and we wouldn’t mature. These trials give us the opportunity to showcase His grace, mercy, love, and strength.

Will you praise Him with me?

In the darkest hardest times, let us continue to praise Him with a thankful heart.

Much love,

Viv ❤🙌

Molly

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For You 💖

A very sweet lady wrote these comforting words for me and I now pass them along to YOU my beautiful readers. Whatever is bothering you, wherever you are, however you feel. At this very moment, YOU ARE LOVED!

Wish I could sit down with you and give you a long, gentle hug.

I am sad to hear all of the pain in your voice.

I get it though.

You are Enough.

You are Beautiful inside and out.

God is with you.

He is your nearest, your dearest Friend.

He will never leave you.

He will never forsake you.

He will never be too sick.

He will always be there for you.

Always.

I am praying that He will wrap His Arms

around you and be your Comfort and your

JOY right now.


And that’s my prayer for you too! If you are sad, lonely, depressed…..look up. God cares and hears your cries. He understands. He knows. He will never leave or forsake you. Ever. Run to Him. Sit at the foot of the cross in full surrender and let it all go.

Much love,

Viv 🙏❤

Everyone’s Broken

Last spring when things got hard with my TBI journey, I was crying to my best friend saying, “I feel so broken!” Her response to me was, “Everyone’s broken.”

It’s amazing how God can use the honest words of a friend to wake us up.

Yet, it was not the response I was hoping for just then. I yearned for words of comfort, instead I felt like my brain injury was being undermined. Of course she didn’t mean to hurt me, it was my emotional state of brokenness at that time.

Then God did something in my thought process and heart that only He can do. He showed me that even though what she said to me came at a difficult time in my life, those two words are 100% true and I needed to hear them.

The problem with chronic pain, illness, or severe bodily injuries is that they can make a person extremely self absorbed. It’s impossible to not be so fully caught up in the pain and suffering that scream for our attention 24/7. We can’t help but forget that others we love have issues of brokenness in their lives and are just as broken. They may not be broken physically, yet in some way they’re broken emotionally or spiritually. Everyone’s broken.

In Ann Voskamp’s book, The Broken Way, she writes on how Jesus was broken first, so that we can be healed by His brokenness. She writes, ‘Could all brokenness meet in the mystery of Christ’s brokenness and givenness and become a miracle of abundance?’ I’ve often dwelled upon these beautiful words. Everyone’s broken, yet Jesus meets us in our pain and since He overcame all brokenness we are made whole by His broken body on the cross.

I’m so blessed to have a wonderful friend and sister in Christ who understands the big picture here. Her words have stayed with me and kept me from throwing myself a huge pity party or turning into “Debbie Downer” on tougher days of dizziness, nausea, pain, fatigue etc. and staying there. I still struggle with negative thinking, but those two words keep reminding me, that even though there’s a big, sad world of suffering, there’s a bigger God who meets us in our suffering and brokenness and gives us hope to keep fighting.

The reality of TBI

“Mom,” my oldest daughter said, “I’ve noticed something. When people who’ve never met you spend time with you they like you, but old friends or family who are aware of your brain injury don’t treat you the same. They look at you differently now.”

This sad reality hit me months ago.

I thought I was being oversensitive or maybe just dreaming it up but then when my rather perceptive 14-year-old noticed, well, it made me realize I wasn’t and in fact it’s the reality and sad truth of TBI.

People with brain injuries experience a wide range of emotional distresses (mental health) along with physical limitations. Depression, anxiety, apathy, aggression, PTSD and others. These issues can be extremely difficult to understand by even our closest friends or family and easily judged as weakness and they can be hard for us to understand as well. Instead of being judged we want to be loved on and looked at as miracles from tragedies. It may take someone’s time and effort to engage in conversation, listen and to see past the label “brain injured” to the true person sitting right there desperately needing, love, support and a friend. It will take a special person. Our fast paced society doesn’t leave much left over in the realm of perceived importance to the broken, busted, or bruised.

I know I’m different now. I’m not nearly as talkative (some may call that an improvement 😉) and I rarely leave the house. Maybe I did fall into the crazy cat lady persona but I actually think that’s a compliment. I avoid loud noises and struggle with social anxiety. My old peppy self is in there somewhere but she’s too fatigued to show up most days.

I’ve struggled to work through this; The jibes, the looks, the cold shoulders, the indifference, the lack of compassion and the overwhelming LACK of support from people who I trusted for years.

However….

God revealed something to me in His word. Up until this point though, I admit I was a broken mess and shattered inside. He showed me from Isaiah 53: 3-4

Isaiah 53:3-4 (KJV)

3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

Our Jesus felt the sting of the rejection of man long before I ever did. He was rejected!! Rejected of men yet what did Jesus do?

He gave His life for them. Loved them so deeply that He cared more for their souls and died for them.

He responded in a godly manner as God and man.

That has become my answer. It was God revealing to me through that scripture saying, in order to heal these emotional wounds, you must pray for them and pray for help to let go and forgive. I can pray for God to wrap His loving arms around me and heal my wounded places. The bible says to pray for those who persecute you or treat you poorly. (Matt. 5:44) It’s hard to be angry at someone after committing to pray for them. The emotions melt away and instead are replaced by hope and peace. (Philippians 4: 6-7)

Here’s the deal. I can choose to be bitter or I can choose to pray, love and forgive others with the help of God.

The idea that I must respond by trying to make people understand through persisting to explain is wearing me out and wasting energy. I can just let go.

Bitterness is a road I don’t want to travel.

Here’s the truth about bitterness;

Bitterness is like a poison eating away at our souls until we are consumed by grips of anger that have fermented until pungent.

(I wrote the above quote on bitterness months ago while feeling rather…..well, bitter. The article I wrote on this subject I never published because my daughter and I agreed it was too depressing.)

Jesus suffered first, in every way we do but he responded in goodness, holiness, and godliness. To share in the sufferings of Jesus is the reality of this Christian life. We will face grave trials but our comfort is knowing Jesus suffered first and will walk with us through our sufferings. He never said being a Christian would mean a life of ease and escape from trials. He actually says the opposite.

Although we can not choose some of the circumstances we are faced with, we can choose our responses to those circumstances.

We can choose to be bitter OR we can choose to be a blessing.

I thank you dear Jesus for giving me your truth through your word and helping me by Your grace, work through this sad reality of TBI. Your faithfulness in rescuing my heart from a seriously shattered place is proof of your unending LOVE.

AMEN


Much love,

Viv 🤗

We need an advocate

One of the things I’ve had to learn and help my family learn is to be a voice for me.

July 2017, when my journey was fresh and healing was raw and rocky, we lost my father-in-law suddenly from multiple heart attacks. He was only 64.

The news hit the family hard and it’s been a long painful road of emotional healing.

I was in no condition to receive such news in the way that it came.

Because of the shock, my nervous system went completely berzerk, causing my heart to beat irregularly since my body went into parasympathetic mode.

I was thrown in the world of normal people dealing with crazy, traumatic death but brain injury kept me from coping “normally.”

Suffering TBI has damaged some cranial nerves including my vagus nerve 10 and nerve 7 and others. The nerve 7 starts at the pons part of the brainstem and controls your facial muscles. The vagus nerve 10 isn’t just a sensory nerve, it’s motor. It’s also a parasympathetic nerve and is one of the longest nerves in the body (over two feet long) which is why it takes longer to heal. It starts at the brain stem and ends in the gut. Because of brain injury my autonomic nervous system has become impaired; therefore the two main branches from that, the sympathetic and parasympathetic, are struggling to keep up and heal.

Because the vagus nerve controls signals to important bodily functions including the heart, lungs and organs, the shock of my father-in-law’s sudden death was almost impossible to handle…..

If I sat or stood up too quickly, my heart would sputter, palpitate, and beat extremely hard and slowly.

Tests showed my heart to be perfectly fine and the paramedics were amazing but it wasn’t until much later that I began to understand the importance of guarding myself from shock.

Now, my husband better understands my frailty and has become quite a terrific advocate. Love him!

My youngest daughter captured this photo of one of my Echinacea flowers.

He’s learned like me, that my body can’t be thrown into highly stressful situations……it’s his job to be a voice for me and he’s stepped up perfectly! If a friend wants to visit we have to be honest and tell them I can only handle short visits, or if stressful issues arise at work or with our finances, he knows how to shield me by dealing with it himself. He knows I can’t handle noisy places, loud settings, social gatherings, and knows how to kindly turn down invitations. He knows to be my advocate because he’s seen the recovery in aftermath of highly stressful situations and what that does to halt my TBI healing and my nervous system’s scary response.

I’ve also learned how to be my own advocate as well. It hasn’t been the easiest thing to say “no” but I’m learning that it’s okay to say no and to not feel badly about it either.

Some will understand while others won’t but it’s okay.

Jesus is my advocate too. He fights for me, strengthens me, encourages me, loves me, protects me, comforts me, counsels me, supports me, shields me, defends me, and guides me every day.

Who is your advocate? That person who’s got your back. We all need one whether broken or not. We all need an advocate passing through this life because it’s tough.

God bless you and thank you for reading this blog article. It means so much to me!

Much love,

Viv

Lovely diagram of the 12 cranial nerves. Haha!

A Friend

Common interests, common dreams,

All happiness and fun.

Carefree, laughing, fancy free-

But then hard trials come.

Former interests fade away,

Dreams now crushed by pain.

Laughter’s silenced, tears speak,

Freedom turns to chain.

Where has everybody gone?

Hearts united torn.

Fickle body, broken down,

Compassion never born.

It’s hard to bear injustice,

But there is One who knows.

He is a Friend unfailing

When everybody goes.

Written by Vivian Joy