when thankful is a determined choice

You might have noticed, I still have been noticeably absent here.  To all of you who checked in to find out where I have disappeared to, thank you so much.  I haven’t been writing much here or at all actually.  Some unpaved stretches need to be walked out a bit before you can share them.  This has been one of those.

You also might have picked up an odd reference here and there to an electric tooth when I have been around.  This bumpy patch of unpaved travel started in a dentist chair soon after arriving back to the USA.  Routine check up, nothing major, small filling.  That led to big problems.

Suffice it to say for now, a silver metal filling was rather haphazardly placed next to a gold crown in a highly conductive atmosphere called my mouth.  Suddenly there was galvanic reaction and my mouth tasted like, buzzed like and imitated a very painful battery.  After 3 weeks of being told to eat boiled eggs and shuffled off to an array of other doctors, I finally put a desperation call in to a second dentist who is a friend of the family. By this time, my lips and tongue were going numb and food was beginning to lose its flavor.

He immediately saw me, immediately recognized the problem and immediately changed out the offending metal filling with a non-metallic one.  Don’t get me wrong. I am totally in favor of renewable energy sources, just not between my teeth.  Unfortunately sufficient damage had already been done.  I am so grateful for this friend who solved the source of the problem and prevented it from getting worse than it already was.  All on my birthday too.  Thanks Papa.

A few weeks later, constant attacks of electric pain successfully derailed my schedule for the rest of the year and landed me in the emergency room of our local hospital.  When the ER doctor came in said rather apologetically: “You have tic delaroux (aka trigeminal nueralgia)”  I commented that sounded less like a medical diagnosis and more like a French entree that should be served flaming.

Some days and several doctors visits later, my new neurologist was just filled with cheery information today.  Ok maybe not so much, but she is lovely and cheery.   To hear her rattle off the possible side effects of the rest-of-my-life proposed treatment that could eventually kill me with lupus, lymphoma, my skin separating from my body or some other fairly atrocious end… ay yi yi  Add in I would no longer be allowed out of the country to disease ridden parts of the world because of being possibly immuno-compromised and would need regular blood tests to make sure the drug doesn’t destroy all my white and red cells and platelets at one time.  Last I checked that pretty much covers blood cells of record.

And this was her best option. Wow gee thanks, I think.  I was tempted to reply, “So have you ever seen the parts room in heaven, could have sworn there was a nerve section there somewhere.  I’ll get back to you on those suggestions, but I think I’ll try to make due with something less dangerous.”   {And no I am not going to take that particular drug.}

The electrification of my back teeth and the delay in resolving it basically blew out my trigeminal nerve… as in permanently damaged, return to sender, I need a new one.  I am so glad I am not limited to medical options.  I can’t imagine how desperate this would be if I was.  Jesus heals and restores.

The good news is I am in familiar territory.  A territory called “Miracle-needed”.  The better news is just for walking in this territory I get extra payback prayer authority for all nerve related anything everywhere. Healing and restoration 7x over… and not just for me.  You don’t mess with the King’s favorite kids. Period. 

There are days you say: “Hey, I think I can ride this one out. It’s just some rough water, a little windy but I’m hanging tight in the storm.”  Then there are days… you just thank Jesus the storm isn’t worse because it could be, there still is a boat and you trust that He’s actually holding on to you in it.

If I can be just 100% gut honest for moment… all tongue and cheek aside {ok I just couldn’t resist that… }

It isn’t the always raw sensation in my mouth or the electric nerve pain that strikes when I least expect or the feeling like my upper teeth are abscessing all at once or that the inside of my mouth feels like it has been permanently scalded or my lips and tongue being numb and making me work twice as hard to speak correctly and not make succotash out of my words. It’s not even that food no longer has much taste except bitter or that the only medication to treat these symptoms are long term possible death sentences if I were to take them {I’m not}.

All of this is extremely annoying {yes that is the use of dramatic ironic understatement}, but what REALLY has me in a less-than-perfectly-thrilled place tonight is that the right side of my face in the cheek area is now deformed into a swollen looking poof with barely any shape (and I can’t fix it with makeup) thanks to this escapade.

Tonight I really just want my face back. {The rest too of course. But a girl has her priorities and you know… Mascara made it into my subtitle for Love has a Face for a reason.)

This week even with all these unwelcome bumps, there have been such gifts of God’s crazy grace all around me every day.

The amazingly kind former classmate that rang me out at a local store today. {You know who you are. If you read this thank you again friend!}  Bright colors in fall flowers.  Incredible family from all over the world standing with me believing for a miracle here and pouring out so much love my way in the waiting.  Family is true riches.  I really am speechless in gratitude for all of you.  And I am actually grateful even to know the medical world doesn’t have an answer for this one.  There is only one place that does.  And I happen to like hanging out there with Jesus way better anyway.

All of this drama has massively put a crimp in my ability to keep sharing stories from South Sudan with you and getting the word out for my family there as I usually do.  I have had to cancel all international and ministry travel until January at the soonest.  I know Papa has the bills covered for my family in South Sudan as well as for me personally, but it definitely has had an effect on incoming resources and my ability to do my part in all that.  I choose to trust this didn’t take Him by surprise and He has it all figured out.  Our leadership team in South Sudan is utterly amazing… I am SO proud of them and blessed by their hearts!

{Pssst.  You can help us see every one of our children fully sponsored by Christmas for as little as $35/month.  Wouldn’t you love to be part of a miracle in South Sudan this Christmas?  Just come on over here and learn more about sponsoring and/or sharing this opportunity with your friends.}

While this moment is still hard and painful, I am so grateful I know that I know that I know a new trigeminal nerve is no biggie for heaven.  Seeing as my last nerve isn’t working out so well after being hooked up to the former makeshift battery in my mouth, I already have an order in.  I don’t believe for a moment God intended this, meant it to teach me a lesson {good parents don’t torture their kids to teach them lessons}, purposed it or sent it.  But I do believe He’ll use it, transform it, restore all that which was lost or damaged and make even this seeming impossibility work together for my good. 

Thankful this thanksgiving is a determined choice.  Thanksgiving, true deep thanks giving is not always about celebration, but it is always about choosing.  An intentional setting of our focus and a deliberate choosing to recognize God’s goodness and His good gifts no matter what.  And by grace: I. Do. Choose.

Here I am learning again, learning still that Thanksgiving, the truest deepest thanks giving is not just about celebrating the song, it’s about choosing to sing in the silence.

In the meanwhile, I do think I need a consolatory iPad mini or at least a trip to our local Mac store to play with one.  Just saying. 😉

Thank you friends for grace and love and standing with me in prayer.  It means more than I can say.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with the giving of thanks as love offerings back to Him, all brimming and spilling over into joy.