We Were Not Placed on This Earth to Walk Alone!

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We were not place on this earth to walk alone. However, sometimes it can feel like we are alone. The truth is that we are never truly alone – no matter what we feel like,. Having been a sufferer of chronic pain and illness for a number of years, I wanted to share today’s story with you. Today’s story is by a man who suffered for several years from Illness and ill health. Ill health can teach us much about ourselves. As a person who went through 15 years of difficulties with my health, I can tell you that despite all of the difficulties, one of the most important things I learned was that I was not alone in my pain or my battle. God was and is always there for me and he is there for you as well!

A Lesson Learned: We Are Never Alone

A man wrestling with a chronic illness is led to the green pastures of Psalm 23.

I was 26 years old when I got sick. It started with a series of high fevers, some as high as 107 degrees. Then came the exhaustion. I experienced dizzy spells and nausea on a daily basis. The symptoms lasted for months, then years.

I was starting a career in the entertainment business, working at Disney, but I grew too sick to work. Friends, not knowing what was wrong with me, dropped away. I moved out of my apartment and back into the bedroom I grew up in at my parents’ house in Los Angeles.

Most days I could barely get out of bed. I saw doctor after doctor. I prayed. No one could figure out what was wrong. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. Slowly but surely I was being cut off from everything I’d built my identity on, everything that meant life to me.

I tried to believe what my mom told me—that despite how things looked, God was at work in my life—but the more my illness isolated me, the harder it was to hold on to.

One February day two years into my ordeal, I had a conversation with God. More of a one-sided confrontation, really.

“You didn’t promise me that bad things wouldn’t happen. You didn’t promise that friends would still be there, or that I would get the answers I was after, but you know what you did promise?” I’d studied the Bible, read Psalm 23 closely. I knew I had a case. “Green pastures. Still waters and green pastures. Where are my green pastures?”

A week later I woke up early one morning and realized I couldn’t stand another day trapped in my bed. Not when everyone else my age was moving on with life. I made an impulsive decision. I always felt best in the morning, so I packed my car and told my mom, “I’m going to drive to Menlo Park today.”

During college I’d spent several months in the Silicon Valley town of Menlo Park, near Stanford University, helping my dad set up a branch of the medical company he runs. I’d attended Menlo Park Presbyterian, a big, active church with a thriving youth program. I loved that church and I loved that time in my life.

I could tell Mom was worried. She’d been taking care of me every step of the way, and she knew me better than anyone. “There’s a big storm coming,” she said. “The roads will be a mess. Are you sure you want to go now?”

I nodded. Even though I was in no shape to drive 400 miles north in the rain, I just had to do something.

“Really, Mom, will this storm be any worse than the one we’ve been going through?” I said, cracking a smile. “If I don’t go now, I might never get on with my life.”

Mom looked at me. “I understand why you need to go,” she said. “But I don’t think you’re stuck. We don’t know God’s plan here. He knows your heart and you just have to trust him.”

It poured the whole drive up. And it was still pouring when I arrived in Menlo Park. I made my way to the church. A pastor remembered me and signed me up to work with the youth program, where I could use my entertainment background to write dramas.

Then I ran into an old friend and she told me about a family who put up church volunteers. I could stay with them temporarily.

She gave me directions, and I set out for their house. It was dark and raining harder than ever. Normally I went to bed in the late afternoon. I hadn’t been up and active this long in months. I tried to ignore the exhaustion creeping up on me.

Soon I left the brightly lit streets of Menlo Park and began winding on dark, lonely country roads. The rain blurred my windshield. I turned the wipers on high and peered out. Where was God? Why had I thought he wanted me to do this?

Even if I found the stamina to work with kids at Menlo Park Pres, how would that help my illness? Every doctor I’d seen had agreed on one thing: I needed rest to fight whatever was attacking my body. I’d just driven 400 miles away from my place of rest.

Trees flashed past my window. I glanced at the directions. They didn’t say a thing about the road winding down into some sort of valley. Even with my high beams on, I could hardly see a thing. It felt like my life, descending further into confusion and darkness with each new turn. What was I doing wrong?

The words from Psalm 23 that I’d asked God about a week earlier were so clear about his promise to those who follow him. Yet I was still waiting for those green pastures.

An intersection. I slowed down. Here was the street. I turned and drove along another road. Finally the address in the directions. I parked. I grabbed my bag and made my way through the rain to the front door. I met the family and was shown to my room.

It was simply furnished with a double bed and a desk. The blinds were closed on a large window above the bed. I sank onto the bed. Cliff, what are you doing here? I asked myself. I crawled under the covers.

Rain lashed the windowpane. I was warm and dry, but I had never felt more alone. I prayed one last desperate prayer for peace before I fell asleep.

The next thing I knew light bathed my face. Groggily I opened my eyes. It was morning. The rain had stopped. Rays of sun slanted through the blinds above the bed. I reached for the cord. The blind inched up.

For a moment all I could do was stare out the window. Rolling hills, stretching as far as I could see. Last night I’d thought the road was descending, but it was actually rising. The house wasn’t in a valley. It was perched atop a hill, overlooking a majestic landscape. The grass, still wet with last night’s rain, glimmered, a brilliant vivid green.

Green pastures. Here, in the darkest valley of my life, God was present, as he had been from the moment I’d gotten sick. At every turn he’d met me—with his presence, with my parents’ support, with my mom’s loving care and unwavering faith. Who do you trust? a voice seemed to say. Who is your God?

I knew my answer. You are. You are the One I trust.

As it turned out I had to keep trusting for a long time. I was in Menlo Park only a few months before my illness forced me to return to my doctors in Los Angeles and to my parents’ house. It was another five years before a specialist at a research hospital in Los Angeles finally figured out what was wrong with me.

My system was infected with a rare drug-resistant bacteria. The high fevers and exhaustion were the effects of my body’s attempt to fight off the bacteria. The specialist had me try a 10-day, water-only fast to starve it out of my system. It worked. I regained a measure of health, but it took several more years to regain my strength.

I’m finally healthy now and am enjoying a successful career as an author. Some days I let my mind go back to my long ordeal. I wouldn’t want to go through it all again, but I wouldn’t change the work God has done in me.

I can still see those green pastures stretching to the horizon, pastures so green and beautiful that I could not fail to see the purpose of my being brought there. For seven years I was sick, but not for one moment was I alone.

Three Tips for Dealing with Chronic Illness

1. Pray and praise.
Prayer is the one resource everyone has when everything else seems gone. Pray in whatever way works for you, with words or silently. And praise. It is the quickest way out of the valley.

2. Don’t blame yourself.
People with chronic illness often feel their condition is their fault. It’s not. Focus your energy on healing, not on laying blame.

3. Trust God’s promises. Nowhere in scripture does God promise a life free of suffering. But the Bible is full of God’s promises to love us and be present when we hurt. Some of my favorites are Psalm 23:2, 1 Peter 5:10 and Psalm 91:11. And Psalm 103. I turned to that scripture so often that it’s the only page that has fallen out of my Bible.

Story is shared from the following website: https://www.guideposts.org/comfort-hope/health-well-being/healing/body/a-lesson-learned-we-are-never-alone?nopaging=1

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Serenity…

Serenity

Do you have to have noise when you are alone with yourself? Do you realize that that is a sign that you are not at peace with yourself? If you truly want to be happy, you have to be at peace with yourself. You need to be your own best friend! Being at peace with yourself is a priceless gift that only you can give yourself. Giving yourself that gift is best accomplished by listening to what your heart tells you. It will tell you of your great worth and the God-given passions that have been embedded there. It will tell you of the perfect, unending love that your Creator has for you. It will speak truth to your soul – but you must listen carefully because it will speak with a voice that is reverent and quiet. You will not hear it above the cacophony of your radio or tv. Nor will you hear it while you are fixated on  your smart phone or tablet. You have come into this world with a heart that is full of priceless information intended to be communicated just to you! Take the time and make the effort to become in harmony with your heart – it will be a tremendous blessing!

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Simple Smile…

simple smile boy-1397787We never know the power of a smile…  How many smiles have been the only positive interaction in an otherwise bleak day? If we live long enough (and most of us do), there will be moments in our lives in which our familiar world vanishes. In those moments, the world continues to move around us – completely unaware that our life has experienced significant loss or trauma. Those who pass by us do not mean to be uncaring but they cannot sense our despair. Our heartache doesn’t hang like a sign around our neck though it feels like it should. As I reflect on those moments in my life, I am so grateful for each stranger who has shared a smile. I am even more grateful for those sensitive souls who, though strangers, knew that I needed an encouraging word or who “hugged” me with their concern. No smile is ever wasted. Every smile acts as an elevator in lifting the positivity levels of our world. Smiles are a universal language of caring – please share your smile today!

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I Am There with You…

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I remember so many moments in my life when I felt so alone – many of those moments I was surrounded by large numbers of people. Other than losing a loved one, I’m not sure there is a more difficult experience than feeling lost and alone in a crowd. Those years that I suffered from severe depression had more of those moments than I care to think about. I have always been a person with spiritual inclinations and depression stripped me of my normal ability to feel connected to God. For all of you who are wading through depression or other life altering experiences, please know that God loves you and is aware of you. If you can’t yet feel Him talk to you in your heart – climb a mountain, smell the sweet scent of a flower, hold a newborn baby or do whatever it takes to sense the miraculous. Miracles abound in this world if we will open our hearts to their presence. God’s majesty is ever ready to be found. He is present in your heart – hang on and hang in there until you can feel Him. Ask Him to hold your hand each day until you can feel certain that He is holding your heart as well. As a witness of His divine presence and perfection, I cannot promise that each day from this day forward will be easier for you but I can promise that you are loved by God unlike anything you can relate to in mortality. I also promise that as you open yourself to His presence in your life you will see miracles and you will eventually know in your heart that you are not alone and that you never will be.

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