Sunday, July 15, 2018

It's Surgery Time

On Wednesday, I had upper jaw surgery.

As you read this, I will be recuperating. 

The jaw surgery process is not an easy one.  It involves a lot of sleeping upright, (if you’re able to sleep), a 30-day “no chew” diet, trying to get liquids and nutrients in so you can heal, while you are dealing with lips and cheeks that are numb. It involves patience.

It involves more things that I don’t need to go into detail to. Things that aren’t “pretty.” Things that need to heal. 

And it’s a slow healing process.

*It will take me close to 5 months to be able to eat completely normally again.

*It will probably take close to 6 months, before my braces get to come off.

*And it will take up to a year, for any lasting stubborn swelling and numb spots to go away.

Won’t you say a prayer for me?

I’m ready. But can you ever be completely ready for what you will go through?

They say the first week is the toughest. 

I’d love it if you’d pray for:

*Pain and swelling management

*That I will be able to swallow and get enough liquids and nutrients in, to help me navigate this first week much more smoothly.

*For sleep.

*For no infections to creep in.

*For strength. Emotional. And Physical.

*For my family as they help take care of me. That they will know how to help me get the nutrients I will need, the sleep I will need, the pain management I will need - and the love and support I will need.

*For no lasting side effects or unfortunate “damage.” For COMPLETE healing of my jaw, teeth, face, and mouth.

Thank you so much. This has been a big thing facing me in my life, and I’m ready to welcome in the changes that this procedure will bring to my overall health.

Hopefully, I’ll be back on my feet in no- time. 

~ Dionna

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Only One to Stay and Watch the Tears Fall

Boy, life can sure wreck us emotionally, sometimes.  Sometimes we feel like we try and try and try… and we are the only ones fighting for ourselves. We are the only ones who care so deeply.

It can feel like no one cares if we cry.

No one cares if we’re lonely.

No one cares if we’re upset.

No one cares if something hit us very personally.

And that may be true.  

Let’s be honest, the world is so easily caught up in ITSELF.

There are days where all I need is a hug. All I need is someone to hold me and tell me they care. They understand. That it will all be ok.

I need to know that I’m not the only one fighting for ME.

And sometimes, I find that God is the only one in my corner. He is the only one reaching out His arms to hold me. 

He is the only one who stays, to watch the tears fall.

He is the only one, who understands what I’m feeling, and why I’m feeling that way.

Thank heavens.

Thank heavens, when I ask for someone to hold me - HE DOES.

Thank heavens, when I cry out, HE HEARS.

Thank heavens, He never leaves me alone. He never walks away.

His arms are big enough. Long enough. And strong enough.

And He fights for me. Maybe more so, than I fight for myself. He fights in wiser ways. For my greater good.

Life can wreck us emotionally sometimes. But we are not the only ones fighting on our behalf. God is.  And in those moments when you’re alone, FEELING alone, stop. Stop and see. Stop and know. 

He is there too. In that alone moment with us. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Had We Only Known

Sometimes we ask God for just “one” thing. And it can be frustrating when we feel it’s a small thing. Something that would be easy to honor, or grant to us.

But He doesn’t. And it isn’t.

Only God knows why He says “no” to us, for the most part.  If we’re lucky, He will open our eyes, and reveal what His plan was; when we are farther down the road.

And what a gift, when He does.

I can look back and see those times in my own life. There were those seasons where I felt literally chased by evil. Or those times where nothing made sense at all, and I didn’t understand why. Why was my process so wacky, when everyone else went through the same process, and got through with ease?

Had I only known.

Had I only known what God was orchestrating. Had I only known what He would bring about.

I would have seen things so differently. I would have ACTED so differently.

One thing. Just one thing. One thing can change a life. It can be the material, used to start an organization. To create a bill in Washington. One thing, can be the catalyst to start a movement. It can create the foundation for a book, or a Bible Study. One thing can begin a career.

Just one thing.

We are often attacked by Satan in the very areas that God plans to use for ministry.

We are often wounded, in the very spots, that can bring about someone else’s healing. And we are often gifted, in touching, special ways - ONLY because of those very wounds we experienced.

Had we only known at the time.

Some things feel so brutal. And they probably are. But God is with us all the time. In every moment. He is walking with us, and He is not unfeeling, or uncaring about our pain. 

He just knows it won’t last forever.

We will struggle. We will hurt. But we can also rise.

We can hope He will unveil the curtain of mystery at some point, and show us the “why” of that painful road we travelled on.

And at that moment, we will understand, close our eyes, and think… “Had we only known.”

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Are We Walking With God, Or Walking With Fear?

We let life consume us.  We try and fail, try and fail again.  We weep bitterly over our failures. Forgetting to see the successes.

It seems we are so good at seeing what worries us.  We concentrate on all of the ways we fall short. We focus on our flaws. 

We wave away compliments.

WE.  That’s what we focus on. Ourselves.

Oh, how I see how the depression can settle around us like a cloud. Oh, how I feel the frustrations, the stresses, and the disappointments cling to us like they are our best friends.

We walk with them. We talk with them. We let them loop themselves around our days - our moods. Our thoughts.

God is there too. But we push Him a little further out. We let our fears and worries stand closer to us. We listen to them… more.

Why? Why is it so easy to think we don’t have value? Why is it so easy to think we don’t measure up?

Why do we choose to walk with our fears — instead of walking with God? 

Why do we choose the darkness as our friend, instead of choosing the light?

God has so many blessings in store for us. He seeks to help us with our burdens. He wants to walk with us, talking to us, and delighting us.

He wants to rescue us.

But we don’t let Him.

Life IS full of hardship. That is a guarantee. It’s full of curves, turns, ruts, and plummeting descents.

There are many tough hills to climb.

But there are also beautiful valleys. Meadows that go on for days. And breezes that make us feel free.

Will we walk in those, too? Or will we just choose the unforgiving paths? The ones that make us feel unwanted?

It IS our choice. 

And it’s time to choose the brighter way. The better way. The way that God has paved ahead of us.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Because I Love You Enough

Sometimes I don’t want to be a warrior. I don’t want to be “tough”.  I don’t want to be better or stronger than what I was before a challenge or hurdle in life.

Oh, I’m always thankful once I’m on the other side of a hurt. I’m thankful for what I learn through tough times. But I sure don’t feel that way when I’m walking INTO them.

I want to run.
I want to hide.

It can be so easy to look out at everyone else and feel like their lives are beautiful. We can see the smiles, the dreams that come true, and the blessings that come their way…. And we can feel like they live charmed lives.

When all we feel like is “hope deferred” is our theme.

Yes? C’mon. You have the moments. I have those moments.

We wander through the muck, and we wonder, “Why, US, Lord”?

I can try to fight against the storm that I feel rages against me - but it’s always more powerful.

That’s because without those times, I wouldn’t lean on my God. I wouldn’t run to Him. I wouldn’t SEE how HE sees when all is said and done. I wouldn’t have a glimpse of His tenderness. I wouldn’t peek in on His strength, His goodness, or His vision.

I would only see mine. And mine can be so selfish. So limiting.

It doesn’t matter what we go through, or where we’ve been. It doesn’t matter how far we try to run. God will find us. He will pull us out of the shadows, and push us through the storm - the weeds - the desert (or whatever it seems to be for you.)

Because He has a bigger agenda in mind. 

Because He wants us to see ourselves as the warriors we fear we are not.

He wants us to feel the tears, the pride, and the gratefulness that come with “hope realized”.

So, when we call out and question why He picked on us, let us be still long enough to hear His reply…. “Because I love you enough to do what is best for you in the long run. I love you enough to to give you what you NEED, and not what you WANT. Because I love you enough, to make you better, stronger, softer, and wiser.

Because, I love you … ENOUGH”.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Go Ahead, Thank Him

It was Bible Study night. 

I shared a prayer request.

And then later on, we were discussing some content in our study and someone looked at me and said, “And I think this is what you should do. Thank God in advance for answering your prayer.”

It stuck with me.

Thank Him in advance. 

Boy, that takes a great deal of faith, doesn’t it? To praise God and thank Him for something you do not have the answer to, yet? 

It means you have to swallow the doubts.

You have to forget about the “when” and the “where.”

You just simply have to trust. And thank Him, knowing in ADVANCE, that He is going to bless you with His answer.

It’s not an easy thing to do.

I started out trying it in a round-about way.  I thanked God for giving me HIS perfect answer. I did this, because it avoided having to thank Him for answering exactly the way my heart wanted.

It left room for my doubt. And if I left room for my doubt, then I couldn’t be mad at God for answering in a different way, right? HIS way?

But the thought kept prodding my heart.

Thank Him in ADVANCE for what He is going to do.

Thank Him in ADVANCE for answering your prayer.

Faith. Great faith.

Do I have it? 

Do you?

Are you afraid, like I was? It’s okay you know. He knows we’re afraid. But He wants us to trust Him. Not halfway. Not just a little bit. But completely.


So pray.  Ask away. And then thank Him. Thank Him now. 

Thank Him for what He’s about to do.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Some Things Just Mess With Your Head

I’ve mentioned before, how I ran away from having braces for 15 years.  I dreaded going to the dentist, because the issues of my bite would always affect me at my appointments. And I switched dentists a couple times with some moves we made, and inevitably they would say, “Have you ever thought of getting braces?”

My heart would plummet each time.

I tried to ignore that issue. I had already had braces in high school and I certainly didn’t want them as an adult.

Finally, FINALLY, when my jaw started popping, I knew I could not run away from the issue anymore, and I sucked up the courage to go to an orthodontist. I was not only told that I needed braces, but potentially, jaw surgery, as well.

You should have seen the color drain from my face.

It terrified me.

I think it took me a couple more months, to mentally adjust to that news, and come to grips with it all.

I started the braces process, and everyone has just been so gracious to me, as I deal with the “self-conscious” issues around my smile and appearance. 

About a year into it, I knew would be “surgery time.” And that time came about February. 

My ortho told me I would most likely need ‘upper jaw’ surgery.

I went in to the surgeon, and was told ‘lower jaw' surgery. I was surprised at the change in news, and had to mentally shift my thinking for a different type of surgery. It encompasses a different kind of healing, and different adjustments/risks.

A month or so later, things switched again, and I found out my surgeon, (after looking over my records, impressions, etc) did indeed agree with my ortho…. And I needed ‘upper jaw’ surgery.

Another shift in my thinking, as I switched back to emotionally preparing for an ‘upper-jaw’ procedure. 

In my research, I found a jaw surgery support group on facebook. (Yes, there is such a thing!) I’ve done a lot of research on what to expect, and it helps to have a support group of people who understand the emotional process - as well, as the physical. So, I have shifted from ‘lower jaw’ emotional preparedness, to ‘upper jaw’ emotional preparedness.

Then, came time to submit my case to insurance. We had chosen a surgeon a few hours away, simply, because they were “in-network” for our insurance.  I got my approval letter about a month later, and was as thrilled as I possibly could be. After all, this was surgery. But the fact that insurance would cover it - was really, really good news.

Then, a few weeks later, I got another letter. After a change was submitted by my surgeon to insurance, they denied my surgery and I was informed that the initial approval, was a mistake. After some long phone calls, numerous talks with the surgeons insurance department, and my ortho, we discovered that our insurance plan, was denying me coverage. The way they classified my surgery, they said that I had to be under 19 to have it.

Whatttt??? That is just so ridiculous to me and confounding. 

Jaw surgery is not cosmetic.  It’s necessary. At any age it’s discovered.

It has all been stressful and frustrating. 

I ONCE AGAIN, have had to mentally adjust to what I am hearing. And it’s been tough.  Something that initially terrified me, something that I finally came to terms with, and reconciled myself to, I was now being told I could not do it. 

And it left me in a state of despair.

Some things just really mess with your head. And I won’t lie. This whole process has really kicked my butt, emotionally.

It’s hard for those who don’t have to go through it, to understand. To understand why something you are scared of doing, has become so important to you. How you have (through conversation, research, and council) come to discover, is necessary.

It’s hard to explain, how, in some strange way, you are still very anxious about it all, yet desiring it at the same time.

I heard someone say that God doesn’t respond to fear or anxiety, He responds to FAITH. That hit me about a couple months ago, as I began the process of waiting for an appeal to come through with my insurance.

Only God knows the outcome of this whole process. And He has always been faithful to me. So, I have decided to walk the rest of the way in FAITH. 

God has His reasons for things. We certainly don’t understand them, sometimes. But I know He wouldn’t lead me this far, and just drop me. He is my Heavenly Father and He loves me.

As I sit here, I am still waiting to see if our appeal is approved. I certainly can’t change my age. And I can’t change the fact, that my jaw and bite need to be realigned for me to eat properly.  I can’t change the fact that I have to wear braces longer, as I sit and wait for insurance to make a decision.

But I CAN change how I walk through this process. 

Is my faith-walk a little wobbly as I continue through this journey? Yes. The human side of me is realistic; not expecting a “yes” from insurance, but internally, still hoping for one. 

Whatever happens, I know I don’t walk alone. And I am going to summon all the belief I have, to remind myself, that God has paved a way ahead of me. One that is in my best interests.

So, although some things in life do “mess with our heads”, we don’t have to let things stay that way. We can mentally adjust, reaffirm our path, and rise above our circumstances.  

We WILL make it through, and get to the other side. Even if it takes longer than we’d planned.

We just have to have FAITH.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Pause For a Moment

Sometimes as I’m going about my day, I stop, and I pause for a moment. If I’m laying in bed at night and my mind has been racing with thoughts and things from my day - sometimes, I try to just clear my head and focus.

I have paused those rushing thoughts from the day, and just listened to the rain coming down outside of my window; enjoying the sound as I lay snug in my bed.

I can look around my room, and feel comforted by the familiar. By the “loved” things that surround me.  I can smile softly at the Christian music quietly playing from the radio, on my bedside table.

I love those moments.

How often do we pause long enough to just take in a moment?  So often we are busy with our thoughts, to-do’s, prayer requests, regrets, replays of conversations in our head….we just overlook the sights, smells, and sounds of what is happening all around us.

We can be so good at soaking in the larger-than-life moments. Yet, we aren’t as good, at taking in the smaller, more meaningful ones.

Wherever you are right now, stop.  Listen to the sounds around you.  Is it the hum of your dishwasher or washing machine? Is it the sound of giggles and laughter, coming from your children in the other room?  

Listen for the things that are so easily overlooked.  That bird cheerfully chirping in your backyard.  The hum of the neighbor’s lawnmower. The sound of sprinklers.

Now look. LOOK. Reflect. Look at that picture that hangs on your wall. Look at the plants, candles, and the view out of your window. What mood and feeling washes over you?

What do you smell? Is it an aroma from the last meal cooked in your kitchen?  Your husband’s cologne wafting in the room?  Do you smell a yummy candle given to you from a friend, or relative? When was the last time you really closed your eyes and took in those smells?

What do you feel? Do you feel boosted from the sunshine coming in your window? Do you feel warm and cozy, or are you experiencing a heart in turmoil? 

Take it in – embrace it for a moment. Let it envelop you.

We can get into such a rut of overlooking beauty that exists right where we are.  We forget that softly playing music in a moonlit bedroom, is beautiful. We can forget to soak in the beauty of our kitchen, that gifts so many that we love, with nourishment. 

We can get so busy planning our days, or reliving them. 

We forget to be still and just soak the moment in.

Let the familiar be enjoyable, not overlooked.  

Learn to to stop once in awhile and just pause. Feel. Smell. Hear.

These moments are a gift to our soul.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Can You Forgive Yourself?

None of us is perfect.  We are so good at hiding our flaws, failures, and those things that we regret doing, or having as a part of our life.  Some of us would never guess what someone else has been through, because we are adept at presenting the most polished, perfect part of ourselves to others.

But, what do we think about when we face ourselves in the mirror? When we are alone in our own company? Are we able to see the person we are today – or do we only see the injured one from a few years ago? Do we only see the one who made that huge mistake that impacted the rest of our life? Do we only see the imperfect parts of ourselves?

That’s not how God sees us, you know.

It’s a big question. Can you forgive yourself? Can you move forward? Even if, you know what you know about the deepest parts of yourself?

Can you forgive yourself for that addiction? For that infidelity? For those things you hid from your spouse and kids?

Can you forgive yourself, for being mean to someone in school, or in your neighborhood? For leaving someone out?

Can you forgive yourself, for stealing? For harming yourself by cutting, intentionally throwing up, or denying yourself food? For overeating?  

Can you forgive yourself, for that abortion? For that road rage incident? For cheating on that test?

So, so many things. We’ve all done SOMETHING. 

That’s why grace is such a blessing. 

God gives us grace. He gives us mercy. Can you give them to yourself?

I pray you can. For all things are made new. 

You can be an overcomer. A blessing. A testimony. An example.

You can save someone else. Love someone else. Heal someone else.

You CAN forgive yourself. And you can help someone else move on, and forgive themselves too. 

You are not what you once were. 

Look in the mirror. See the person God sees. That person is valuable. And so beloved. 

That person is a miracle.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Why Do We Always Point Our Finger at the Lord?

“How long, Lord, must this go on?”

“Why did God allow this to happen?”

“God must have His reasons.”

The questions.  The frustrations. They go on and on and on.

And we always direct them towards God.

But, I have to wonder… are we pointing our fingers in the wrong direction?

Maybe we should be pointing our fingers at Satan instead.

Maybe it’s SATAN who caused this to happen to you.  Maybe it’s SATAN who aimed his fiery dart your way.  Maybe it’s SATAN who is hindering you.

Not God.

We blame God for so much. And we blame Him quickly and easily.  And yes, He could come in and rescue us… and often, He does. Many times, probably without us even realizing it.  

But it’s our own sinful choices.  Our selfish world. And an evil one who gets great delight out of our sorrow, our emptiness, and our anger towards the Lord.

God does not ever intend to harm us.

God LOVES us.  Satan, on the other hand, does not.

The world scoffs and laughs so easily at our “God.”  But how many forget the devil in that equation? He is just as real. 

And he is busy at work.

The next time you are tempted to point your finger towards the Lord and ask, “why?” Think first. And see if maybe you shouldn’t be grabbing your warrior suit - as you look in another direction.