Friday, September 30, 2011

Encouraging Words for Those Who Are Discouraged by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand my Mother and Father and why they treated me the way they did.  They seemed to live to discourage me.  I guess I was an easy target.  I was a sensitive child when it came to criticism, but when I was angered, I fought back with a torrent of words.  Yet, some cruel things cannot help but discourage.

I remember when I was about twelve years old, and I started to wonder about my looks.  I had red-gold hair (as a matter of fact I still do) and amber colored eyes.  I had pale skin and lots of freckles.  I had blossomed overnight, and I was very developed for my age.  This made me feel a little like a freak.  I was the only one in my small Catholic School seventh grade, who wore a bra.  That was a big no-no, and I was often accused of flaunting my chest, as though I had a choice about those things.

So, feeling very low in my self-esteem, I went to my mother looking for encouragement.

“Mommy, am I pretty?”  I asked, somehow knowing that she would encourage me.

I was greeted with total silence, and then my mother looked at the ceiling, then hemming and hawing, she finally gave me an answer.

“Well, you know, Marianne (my sister) was always a beauty, but you have a wonderful personality.”  That was her answer.  Okay, that told me that I wasn’t pretty.  I had this great personality.  Sheesh.  Just what child needs to hear.

Then, one day, my father and I were sitting at the table.  He stared at my hands and he said, “You have a man’s hands.” 

I was devastated.  I was twelve years old, and I had a man’s hands.  That was just perfect.  Not only was I not pretty, but now I had a man’s hands.  To this day, when I look at my hands, I see a man’s hands.  Discouragement.  They were experts.

When I was nine, my father screamed at me.  “You are a failure!  You’ll never be anything!  You are nothing!  And you will be a failure all your life!”

It took many years to understand that my father, in some kind of conflict with himself, was talking about himself.  His hurtful words were more about himself than they were about me.  But I was a child, and all it did was hurt.

My mother gave away my meager possessions, a few books that I loved, a doll, pictures, and toys that she said I’d outgrown.  I discovered that she had given them to my seven year old cousin, since I didn’t need them, and the clincher, as my aunt and cousin looked on was, “You never wanted them anyway.”

I was stunned and shaken.  It felt like ice water entered my veins and my scalp felt prickly.  I had no defense, as everyone looked on.  Again it was years before I understood just what was going on.  My mother wanted to impress my aunt, and since she had nothing to give, she took my things and gave them away, so my aunt would think well of her.

I could sit here and write dozens of strange things that I never understood about my childhood, and of course they affected me my entire life, even into adulthood.  Even today, I have a difficult time believing I was ever pretty, and my hands…well, you know.  I find it difficult to acquire things for myself, even the house I live in which is my dream home.  I felt unworthy, because it was so lovely, with a view of the mountains that I’ve wanted my entire life. 

When my pastor heard me say I was unworthy to own this beautiful home, he said, “How dare you tell God how He is allowed to bless you!”  That convinced me.  This house was and is a blessing, and if God thinks I’m worth it, well then so do I.

These are simple things that tell us who we are, whether good or ill.  You probably have similar events in your life, but please don’t let them discourage you.  God has a plan for you, and if you turn to Him, He can heal all wounds.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

God has a plan for each of us.  We are his cherished treasures.  He wants to prosper us and not to harm us.  He gives us hope and a future.  However, this is not because we are worthy.  It is because He is worthy.  He says to us, “Then you will call on me, come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me WHEN you seek me WITH ALL YOUR HEART.”

It could not be more clear to me.  God is my Father and He loves me.I am special to Him.  I have learned that seeking Him with all my heart is an end in itself.  The feeling of connection with God is like no relationship I will ever have.  He is my first love.  May I never forget that.  I am one of God’s favorites, and, my friend, so are you.  Just remember that the evil someone says about you, says more about them, than it says about you.  God bless and keep you.  Do not be discouraged.  You have a heavenly Father who loves you with a great passion, and as you turn to Him, your life will change.

My Father’s Heart  by Jaye Lewis

There's a feeling deep inside me
That I, somehow, can't express.
It chokes me to my very soul,
With utter loneliness.

How must my Father feel, each day;
As I cast His hand aside?
His gentle hand, that comforts me
Like the gently, rolling tide.

Sometimes I get so busy,
As I race from place to place;
I forget that I can rest in Him
And contemplate His face.

For I see His face in everything,
And in all I hope to do.
I, even, see His precious face,
Each time I look at you.

I wonder how He feels, when I
Spend days without a care,
And does He shed a tear, when I
Forget to kneel in prayer?

Perhaps when I feel lonely,
And I don't know where to start,
I could bend my knees, and bow my head
And learn my Father's heart.

© Jaye Lewis, 2001

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Encouraging Words When Friends Desert You by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

It’s a disappointment.  It’s confusing.  It’s a heartache.  When friends desert you it is like someone has stolen a part of you, and you’ll never get it back.  But remember, I said “it is like.”  I did not say, “it is.”

When I was young and pregnant with my third child, I belonged to a church which had a very active women’s organization.  Of course all these women were my “friends.”  Two by two, the ladies were sent out to homes of women who were too ill to go to church.  The purpose was to teach and to heal broken hearts.  However, many visiting teachers ran through their duties as fast as their legs could carry them.  Their hearts were simply not in healing or teaching.  Their hearts were in themselves.

I was very pregnant and very ill.  I was not expected to make it through the birth of my precious baby.  So, I really needed someone to befriend me, and to give me comfort.  I needed to hear the words, “God is with you, and so are we.  We will help you come through this.”  But these ladies were not my friends, as I was soon to find out.

One day, the doorbell rang, and I staggered to the door.  Leaning against the door frame, I opened the door.

“Come in!” I cried.  “Will you pray with me?”

“Oh no,” they responded in a cheerful tone.

“Please.  I really need to talk to someone.”

“Well, there’s always prayer, and we have these pamphlets to give you.”

They pushed the pamphlets through a crack in the door.  Then they left.  I stood at the door, sobbing.  Many years later, I still have to wonder what those women were thinking.  I thought, at first, that those ladies were an answer to the prayers of my lonely heart.  I was wrong.  God was the answer, not them.  And they were definitely not my friends.  But they did me a favor.  Yes, they did.  My relationship with God, from that time forth, grew richer and deeper.

I suppose there are people whose close, personal friendships flow from cradle to grave.  I just have never known anyone who had that kind of friendship.  What I have seen and experienced is what I call “friendship bondage.”  There is always the stronger, more overbearing friend.  Filled with love bombs in the beginning, and continuing with perfectly timed guilt in the end.

“Give me a call later,” but you receive no calls from them.

“Why didn’t you call me?” They ask later.

“Well, why didn’t you call me, instead?” You may ask.

“I meant to.  I thought of you.  But I got so busy….”

The bondage is where you are caught up in the life of another, and things are expected of you, such as, lunch on Thursdays, brunch on Sunday, Tuesday night movies.  All of which you can never escape.  Should you want to read a book on Thursday, take a family trip on Sunday, and just stay home on Tuesday, you immediately are made to feel guilty for letting your friend down.  That’s not friendship.  That’s bondage.

I cannot count the number of people who have deserted me, because of my health.  I have a strong personality.  I’m funny, loyal, and easy to confide in.  I keep confidences, and you can count on me to “be there,” wherever “be there” might lead.

In church, where most friendships are forged, almost anything can strain the relationship. The death of a spouse or parent or child can leave friends uncomfortable.  What should they say?  When is grieving too much for them?  Will she never stop talking about it?  And, should you ever change denominations, or even congregations, well, that means you’ve left your faith.  Being a military family, we were often accused of having no faith, simply because we moved.

In friendship, there is always one of the parties who gives, and one who takes.  Should the “giver” stop giving, then the “receiver” feels abandoned, and the friendship usually ends.  I’ve lost friends, because we moved, or they did.  I’ve lost friends, because they found a new friend.  I’ve seen that a subtle change or, sometimes, it would be quite blatant.

I’ve lost a friend, because I got a divorce, or they did.  I’ve lost friends, because their lifestyle has changed.  They’re now single and dating.  I’ve lost friends, because their spouse died.  Because I no longer showed up at club meetings.  And, I’ve lost friends, because I became sick.  That’s the loss of a friendship that hurts the most.

Friendship is illusive, fleeting, and disappointing.  True friendship is rare.  Whether we maintain it or we let it go, it can hurt.  Sometimes we pursue it, racing to catch up before it’s gone, and sometimes it goes away, and we never know why.  If you are hurting from the loss of a friendship.  If your heart aches, and you don’t know where to go, I cannot advise you on how to bring it back.

I can only tell you where I go when my heart aches.  I go to the foot of the Cross.I believe that He who calmed the stormy sea can calm the tempest within my heart.  Jesus is the rock to which I cling, my hiding place, and my first love.  He is the only one who can calm my heart. 

God has given me a wise and humble husband, whose love never falters.  My husband looks at this sixty-five year old woman, and he sees the girl who stole his heart.  Oh, how I could go on about the love of my life.  He is the finest man I’ve ever known, and the only man I’ve trusted with all my heart.  I have two daughters who are the best friends a mother could have.  Their devotion is unequaled, and their sacrificial love is a shining example of what true friendship is.  This is not something I’ve done for myself.  I’m not that wise.  They, my husband and my daughters, are God’s most precious gifts.

Sure, I’d love to have a woman friend who is my age, who remembers bobbysox and saddle shoes.  I’d love to share memories of a gentler time and who’d laugh with me over scratchy crinolines that were all the rage, who remembers a time of innocence that is long past. But I can live without that.  I can laugh without that.  And I can love without that.

This time of aloneness is a time to reflect on the blessings that I do have.  Solitude during the day, gives me the opportunity to write on my novel and share with you the things that are on my heart.  I have three little dogs, one big dog, and three cats.  They need love, food, and protection.  I hide them beneath my wings, just as a mother bird hides her chicks.  And when this chick needs to hide, I run to my Jesus and hide beneath His wings.

Life is not perfect.  In our aloneness, we need not be lonely.  How can we reach out, without surrendering our dignity?  How can we show God that we are willing to serve, if only to pray for others?  Those are questions that only you can answer.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.  Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23  Those are the words of King David, whom God called “Beloved friend.”  David had every false friend desert him.  He had a wife who ridiculed him, because He dared to worship God with abandon.  He had a child who betrayed him, and who did evil towards him.  So have I, and that was the greatest heartbreak of my life.  But, you know what?  I survived, and so did David.  David turned to His best friend, God.

My friends, I can’t promise you a lifelong friendship that never falters.  It will always hurt when friends desert you; however, God will never desert you.  Let me repeat that.  God will never desert you.  He loves you.  You are His most precious creation.  If you doubt that, read Psalm 139.  Then read Isaiah 49:  "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” 

I have been betrayed by my parents, my siblings, and one child who has hated me her whole life, and I never knew why.  I have friends desert me for no good reason.  But God has given me a wonderful husband and two devoted, selfless daughters.  He has given me a faith that I could never have given to myself.  He has given me a conviction that even now, as I write, He is here beside me.  He walks with me, and when I stumble, He picks me up in His arms and He carries me.  If you let Him, He will carry you also.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Encouraging Words for People With Type 2 Diabetes and Asthma by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

Sometimes it seems as though all hope is lost, and encouragement is a yesterday thing, especially for people with Type 2 diabetes and asthma.  The asthma/diabetes connection is a subject that is rarely addressed by the medical community, because of an unwillingness or ignorance to acknowledge that Type 2 diabetes is often caused by the life saving asthma medicine prednisone.  I am one of those lucky people who have prednisone induced Type 2 diabetes.  However, there is hope, even for me.

Prednisone induced Type 2 diabetes is not as rare as many believe.  One of prednisone's side effects is an elevation in blood sugar.  If you are a diabetic, it can raise your blood sugar to life threatening levels.  Most people who go on prednisone and experience higher blood sugar levels, find that their glucose returns to normal after their course of prednisone is over.  However, for those of us who have a family history of diabetes, or who may be glucose intolerant or borderline diabetics, we will undoubtedly be thrown into full blown diabetes, which is a lifelong battle.

Now, how do I control my blood sugar while on the asthma necessity of prednisone?  This is not medical advice.  I am not an expert.  I'm merely striving to survive myself.  Here is what I've discovered works for me.

At the first sign of an imminent asthma attack, e.g. chest tightness, low peak flow, coughing up discolored phlegm in the morning, waking up with difficulty breathing, know those first symptoms...I immediately go on a low dose, seven day course of prednisone.  Starting with 5 milligram tablets, on the first day, I take 6 tablets, which equals 30 mg.  So, my tablet course goes like this:  6-5-4-4-3-2-1 and then I'm off of prednisone until the next time.  This way, I stay off of antibiotics, and I do very well.  My husband and I even celebrated our anniversary trip while I was on prednisone, and I had no problem.  Other corticosteroids are not as effective as prednisone, and even the short course throws my sugar out of whack, so I'm sticking with prednisone.

Now, how do I control my blood sugar during this time?  Well, first day, I go up on my Lantus insulin, 45 to 50 units, then during the day I check my blood sugar up to six times, and I portion my Glumetza out by halves or whole, as my blood sugar rises.  I stick to a low carb diet, and when I can breathe pretty well, I get on my incline bike and do about 2 miles, if my blood sugar peaks dramatically.  I keep checking my blood glucose to make sure that the exercise, or anything else, does not send me into hypoglycemia.  This is not an easy process, in that there are many variables.  If diet is not included, then this will not work.  As I taper down on prednisone, I must taper down on insulin.  I can have very low glucose numbers toward the end of the course, so I test immediately upon waking, and I keep my orange juice close.

I've never fully recovered from H1N1, and recently, due to low sodium, I was admitted to the hospital, through the emergency room in a semi-coma.  As a result, I've had four of these low courses of prednisone in the last three months.  Any illness can effect the diseases you already have, so make certain your doctor keeps up with your regular blood tests.  Low sodium is a life threatening condition, especially for those of us over 65 crowd.

So, my friends, take care of yourself.  If you are not getting the care that you need, change your doctor, or check with your hospital for diabetes programs.  I'm certain that you will get real medical advice there.

I hope you will continue to diet, carefully, and even if you have gained more weight, as I did through the terrible time with H1N1, you can lose weight, healthfully again.  I'm losing weight again, very slowly.  Exercise is key, along with reasonable diet, and good check-ups.  Diabetes is not a death sentence, and neither is the complication of asthma, if you are smart and know your diseases, and you follow a program.  Remember, our lives are in God's hands, but He expects us to honor Him with our obedience in health.

With love,
Jaye Lewis  

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