* Faith and phobias

I’ve posted a four-part series on overcoming phobias through Reid Wilson’s program, which uses current brain research to change the way you respond to fear.  As a Christ-follower, I had prayed in desperation for 12 years that God would heal me.  I tried to worship my way through panic attacks.  I tried biofeedback and meditation on God’s word.

I felt in my heart that God was going to heal me, but how long would it take?  And what if I “lost” the healing when I was on the freeway?  At its worst, I immediately fainted when I tried to drive on any road with more than two lanes.  All my fears seemed valid.  After all, I would crash and kill someone if I fainted.  How could possibly God help me?  When would he help me?

Several years ago, God began my healing by showing me how much fear runs through my brain all the time, not just on the road.  If you watch the video below, you’ll understand why.  Desperately, I contacted a psychiatrist, who referred me to a weekend workshop offered by Reid Wilson (offered that very weekend and I was able to get in!).  I hoped for a miracle but nearly ran out of the building as I realized that this was something I had to do.  But thankfully, I was not alone in this.  God was with me.  His Spirit encouraged me that I was made for freedom.

The wonderful aspect of this freedom to drive is that I don’t have to be phobia- or fear-free to be FREE!  I recognize that my brain is simply doing what it was made for, that my amygdala is trying to protect me.  I love the intricacies of God’s creation in my brain.  He has made a new way for me to enjoy his splendor.  He has given me a new way to glorify his hand on my life.

Am I weak in faith if I am afraid?  I am like the man who cried out to Jesus, “I believe!  Help me in my unbelief!”  I don’t have to “keep” my faith; my Savior does it all for me.  From beginning to end, I am safe in His arms.

Part of my story is shared below. Of course, my name is misspelled.  There may be 24 different ways to spell Katharine but Jesus knows who I am!

* A Legacy

Lizzi has written a powerful message on legacy, as she and her family bid farewell to their Nana.  I can’t adequately capture Lizzi’s passionate writing, so please head over to her blog and read for yourself.

Lizzi concludes her post with these questions: What would you like to be remembered for? Have you ever wondered about life, whilst commemorating its passing? Who makes you thankful to be alive and learning? 

My dearest teaching widower and I are nearing the statistically likelihood of our deaths, although we’ve all learned that age is no protection from the inevitable.  Before I was saved, I simultaneously wanted to die and thought I would live forever.  I no longer fear or long for death.  Well, I admit there are hard times when I cry out, “Jesus, beam me up!”

I want to be remembered as a lover.  A lover of Jesus, first.  A lover of my husband.  A lover of my relatives and my church family.  A lover of thousands of students.

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I do wonder about my eternal life and especially the new earth.  Will dogs and cats be able to speak?  Will I be able to stay next to Jesus while I also explore the galaxies with my dearest widower?  Can I re-negotiate the marriage deal then?  I never want to be away from my dearest widower.  Will there be toilets and will we need them?

Who makes me thankful to be alive and learning?   God.  If not for his intervention, I would have died in infancy and many times after that.  I’ve experienced a multitude of brushes with death, and here I am, by his grace.

If you do not have this faith, I sound stupid.  I used to tell a therapist (who did not have this faith, either), that religion was a just crutch for the weak.  I mocked anyone who believed in God.  The name of Jesus made me sick.  How could God allow the destruction of my soul?  Where was he during all those dreadful years?  Now I acknowledge my weaknesses and ask, “How could God have redeemed my soul and saved me from death?  Why me?”   Now I know where he was and see what he was doing.  It makes me want to shout for joy!

 

* Sharing my world- please bear with me

I love this week’s Share Your World challenge from Cee.  Her questions came from neighborhood kids, via The Happy Quitter (who successfully quit smoking- yea!).

Why did you start blogging?  I have a friend who started blogging a year before I finally jumped into the deep end.  I loved reading her posts because it felt like we were talking.  She’s my inspiration for many things, including this blog!  YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!

A piece of clothing you still remember?   I remember many of my dresses, undies, socks, and shoes from an early age, probably because of yucky memories associated with them.  I did enjoy wearing the same dresses as my sister when my mother sewed some of our clothes.

Who are you trying to reach with your blog?  I am a special ed teacher, first and foremost, so I hope my blog is helpful to parents and teachers of kids with special needs.  Since I discovered Cee’s site, I am a wannabe photographer with an iPhone.  With Suzi’s kind advice, I have also shared more of my personal life and faith.

Is there a stuffed animal in your bedroom?  There are 5 bear beauties in my bedroom, three of them Bed Bears and two Travel Bears.  There are bears in most of the rooms downstairs, but they often gather in the living room to chat.  And watch movies.

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The best birthday present ever?  On my 39th birthday, the first birthday after I was born again, a friend gave me a painting of a little girl kneeling by her bed in prayer, with Jesus standing behind her. I never knew he was there, all those years ago.  I thought God was either a hateful and dangerous character or a powerless wimp.  Now I understand and can answer the question, “Why do terrible things happen to people?  Where is God when those things happen?”

What would surprise me about you?   To quote a friend, I am “an ambi-vert.”  I am equal parts introvert and extrovert.  On top of my social skill deficits, this makes me feel both energized and enervated.  I love to speak in public and hang out with groups of ladies or kiddos, but sometimes I feel that I’ll go nuts if I can’t be alone to recharge.

To answer Cee’s bonus question, I am grateful to be off antibiotics once again but even more grateful that my one-and-only antibiotic is still effective.  Oh my.  I look forward to a special trip with our son and his wife in the near future.

* Ten things of thankful

Thanks, Lizzi-across-the-pond, for your inspiration to search out the silver linings in the cloudy parts of life.

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My health has been cloudy with a chance of meatballs for a couple of months.   Since I have already whined posted about my summer (Miss Fun), it’s time to find some positives.  First, the antibiotics I took were effective.  Considering that I’m down to one broad spectrum antibiotic, that is SUPER good news.   Otherwise, I’d be looking at kidney failure instead of a computer.  I saw my dearest widower more than usual during the day (#2), had a airfare-and-baggage-free vacation on the couch (#3), and loaded myself with delicious cups of antioxidant tea (#4).   Having felt so wretched meant that when our nephew and fiancee visited us, I was ready to try a new diet (#5).  I just finished a week of the Zone Diet and learned that I like kale and collard greens.  Who knew?  I’ve eaten more vegetables in the past week than in my entire life.   I’m hoping that eating several pounds of vegetables a day will be a life-changing experience in some way (#6).  Yeah, #6 is almost silver….

I am loving teaching more than ever.  I have the BEST students and families, hands down (#7).  I’m in awe of how hard these kiddos work, no matter how they feel, the effort required, or the long haul in front of them.  Is it selfish to say that teaching is pure joy?  I was made to teach, which gives me incredible satisfaction.

I’m swimming again, after months away from the pool (#8).  I was also made to swim.  How wonderful is that?   If I can keep my competitive eyes off other swimmers, I love to pray as I swim.  My first thoughts are “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” as I flow through the water.  Slowly.  Looking for someone to race.

My dearest teaching widower and I just hosted our first small group of the semester.  Dinner and movies with funny and lovable folks (#9).   First we had to clean the house, though.  What do other people do with paper clutter?  I stuffed ours in a bag on the washer, if you need a tip.   We also have trip wires for anyone who ventures upstairs, which is where everything else gets tossed before the guests arrive.  Another free tip, folks.

I love the plans that God has made for me, knowing I am never alone in any storm (#10).  I am loved!  Woohoo!

 

* Three Things Thursday

Okay, it’s really Free Fings Friday.  Thank you, dear Nerd in the Brain, for your inspiration to stop and appreciate the happy fings.  And to play Pokemon Go!

The best news this week is that my mind is slowing emerging from Lead Apron Syndrome.  You know that heavy lead blanket radiologists drape over you, the one that supposedly stops you from glowing in the dark after multiple x-rays?  Kidney infections wrap and seal that sucker tightly around your head.  I’ve been “shielded ” from sensible thoughts all week.  I thought I could work.  WRONG!  I thought I could muscle my way through this infection with will power.  WRONG!  Now I am in the “I can do anything” mode, as I sit here in my PJs.  I kinda like this stage.  If only my heart didn’t ache from not being able to teach.

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I can see clearly now, the brain is gone.  I can see all obstacles in my way….

As usual for this time of year, the hill behind our house is a daycare center for fawns.  Mommy deer park their spotted babes who wait obediently for hours until mama returns.  I don’t know a single child who would do that for 5 minutes, much less all day.  It’s horrible out there: hot and humid, bugs and snakes everywhere, no sign of mama.  Is this instinctive or does mama threaten her babe with a lead apron?

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My dearest widower has been SOOOOO kind.  Hot tea for the chills.  Hot tea for comfort.  Food and blankets and prayers and warnings (“You may not go to work!  You may not drive!”).  My precious sister has coated me with enough prayers for this infection and any for the rest of my life.  Their love, and that of so many others, makes me cry.  I’m not invincible, I’m not in control, and my will is not enough.  And that leads me to the arms of my Lord, who knew that all along.  He smiles at my feeble understanding and grips me tightly.  He will never drop me or leave me.  He gave me this strong will for survival, knowing that with His power, despite my will and the lead apron, all is well with my soul.

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* Three Things Thursday

Thanks, Nerd in the Brain, for your weekly encouragement to share happiness with others!  I’ve been a bit sleep-deprived this week, teaching at 8:00 and wondering how I ever woke up at 5:30 for MANY years.  I’m grateful that being semi-retired usually allows me to sleep well past that time!  Despite the sleep deprivation, I do know that today is Friday.  Free Fings Friday?

Onward and upward….  My sessions with Christopher, my autistic nephew, are going VERY well.  I spend considerable time supporting his brain in developing filing systems of concepts and categories, under which he can store new information and access it more effectively.  I can “see” that organization developing, for which I am most grateful.  I keep emphasizing how smart he is, with specifics, because Christopher doesn’t feel smart.  He is now less adrift when I use praise such as “You are using context clues!” and “You identified the problem!”  Still, he’d much prefer to talk about Mario than problem solving!  No duh.

I had a delightful surprise visit from a former student this week!  We started our relationship when he was in 2nd grade and worked together through 6th grade.  Now he is 20 years old.  No way!  He was always a delight, but how awesome to see this self-assured, confident young man telling me about his goals for the future!  He’s in college and doing well, sorting out his plans, still an artist, and always a precious guy.  We laughed about some of our earlier experiences and hope to reconnect while he is still working in town.  His family was exceptionally devoted, always advocating and supportive.  What a joy to reconnect!  I told him I’d always kept his special card to me (the images were a representation of some funny and sweet memories):

I had somewhat miserable news from my doctor this week about cholesterol and kidneys, but given my allergies and genes, it’s a blessing that I am mostly healthy.  These are also signs of aging, of the natural process which will eventually lead me to heaven.  I’m going to redouble my efforts to eat well (i.e., vegetarian) but ultimately, I am on a journey to an amazing eternity.  My Savior is waiting eagerly for me, and although I am not ready to leave yet, I long for that perfect world.

I hope that you’ve had a wonderful week.