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Sometimes Normal Isn’t Normal
Do you ever have one of those days where a string of events happen and you are left pondering what is going on? For me this happened about five weeks ago (+/-). I started my normal morning routine feeling very tired, which had been a pattern lately. I let the chickens out and decided to take a detour into the garden. While in the garden I noticed a chicken had gotten in so I decided to chase it down. Of course, the chicken didn’t just sit still so I had to corner it and reach around some pallets to grab it and get it outside the fence. Mission accomplished.
When I got back to the cabin I noticed a small chunk of wood lodged in my thumb, probably from some pallet wood where I had knicked myself. It wasn’t a normal “thorn”, but it kind of looked like one. So I pulled it out while my mind made a mental note. At the time, I had no idea why.
Fast forward to a little later in the morning. Still fatigued, I decided I should start unloading our 5’x8’ trailer. I had picked up a load of wood mulch a prior day after dropping off some trash at a nearby land fill. Shannon came out a little later with the children to help and we took shifts shoveling some mulch. Of course, life is never quiet for long, even on a simple task like unloading a trailer. Our oldest son Elijah was in the process of cleaning out the cooler back at the cabin and reported he had found broken glass in it. What!? Of course that made no sense to me, so I told Shannon I would go investigate. I had been watching Annabelle while she was on a shift of the wood chip shoveling, and in a split second made a decision that would impact the rest of the day.
Rather than walk or carry Annabelle all the way back to the cabin I decided to leave her with mamma. I picked her up and put her inside the trailer where Shannon could keep an eye on her. The trailer wall was higher than Annabelle’s waist so she seemed safe enough.
I did in fact find a broken quart jar in the bottom of the cooler, with its contorted and jagged edges in many directions. Thankfully, Elijah had not cut himself on it. But alas, my heart was not thankful at the moment. I was irritated. Irritated at being bothered, as I usually get when I’m fatigued, and I could only imagine the scenarios that led to something like a broken glass jar in the bottom of a cooler. I took the cooler outside in front of the cabin and noticed Shannon walking up the road towards me. She was holding onto Annabelle in what could be described as a protective and perhaps desperate way… and tears were streaming down her face. As she got closer I could see a single line of blood running down Annabelle’s leg from what appeared to be a single point, along with a few other scratches.
Of course, I happened upon this scene at a point in time where Annabelle was already telling her story of how she had launched herself over the trailer wall (4’ high and probably 5’ off the ground) and had narrowly missed hurling herself into the barbed wire about 1.5 feet away. Although, she hadn’t missed completely, as the blood now indicated. Of course, I had no idea this is what happened yet, because Annabelle can’t really talk for the most part other than one word attempts and rants of, “Dat da dat!!! Dat da dat!!” with the accompanying flailing arm motion. So Shannon’s translation of events, through tears, informed me of the course of events in which one moment Shannon saw Annabelle as fine when she turned to toss some wood chips over the fence and the next Annabelle was gone, over the edge, and screaming.
I promptly began cleaning out the wound where a metal man-made thorn (barbed wire) had punctured her skin. After some peroxide and water it appeared clean, and thankfully not too deep. She had some other scratches as well, but they were minor in comparison. Shannon also had one long scratch up her arm and several rips in her dress sleeve where she had squeezed between the trailer and barbed wire to grab her screaming daughter.
Shannon and I both realized how much worse it could have been. Had Annabelle been over a few inches more in her downward trajectory, or had it caught her eye instead of her leg…
After things calmed down a bit I got back to getting all the glass out of the cooler. When I thought that was done I started rinsing it out with water. I used my hand to wipe around the edges and down to the part in the cooler where water collects before exiting the drain when it happened. A small glass shard, sliced effortlessly through one of my fingertips. I instinctively pulled my hand back to see a thin, almost paper-cut like, line of blood about a ¼” long. Enter wound cleanup number 3.
I found the attacker, a small splinter like glass thorn, submerged in the cooler drainage section. By now all of the events seemed more than just “events”. What was going on? Being tired, I rested a lot in the afternoon.
That night, the final event happened that would take me off my feet for almost a week. I woke up around 3 a.m. with a blood sugar crash. I was extremely weak and felt as though life itself was draining out of me. I went to the bathroom and also tried to eat some food. It is at these moments of weakness, when we are at the end of ourselves that short prayers come forth to the mind, “Lord, do unto me what seems good in thy sight.”
After trying to eat some more I went back to bed. I could not sleep right away, but eventually energy came back so that I did not feel like I was dying. For the next several days the extreme fatigue continued. I’ve had similar occurrences of no energy in the past that were related to what we thought was adrenal fatigue. This seemed to be that plus a new twist of blood sugar issues. I began taking some supplements for my pancreas and adrenal glands and saw some slow improvement.
A Time to Grow
Even though I was suffering from extreme fatigue there were nights where I would wake up and could not sleep for several hours. During those hours I thought about all the events that had happened and that is when this blog post started to take shape in my mind. I thought a lot about thorns and I saw many blessings in everything that was happening.
- Annabelle was not seriously injured
- I didn’t cut my finger too badly on the glass
- I was able to make it through the blood sugar crash night
- We were able, by God’s provision, to get some good supplements to help me heal
Yet these were all physical blessings. But there was so much more that God provided. I greatly reduced the time I normally spend on the computer/internet working and reading. I got a chance to dive into A. W. Pink’s Gospel of John Commentary, and it was like a refreshing glass of water. Page after page was filled with spiritual insight into the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Page after page was filled with his majesty, his grace, and his perfection towards us in his earthly ministry. The state of Israel during the time of Christ: religious, and yet unbelieving was unveiled. The parallels to the church today are numerous. In examining the interactions of Christ with people he encountered I saw my own unbelief in so many things.
Back To Those Thorns
A week or so after I went down for the count, Elijah came inside limping. He had apparently stepped on a thorn that had gone through his shoe. His foot was hurting him to the point where he was hobbling around for the rest of the day. I thought about what had happened to him and saw things in a different way. What had he been doing when he stepped on the thorn? Running. What had he not been doing? Paying attention. Oh what a spiritual lesson! If God would give us eyes to see, what spiritual lessons would fill each and every day. And yet these spiritual lessons are available if we would but ask and wait on the Lord.
The Blessing in the Thorn
Thorns come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. In that single day I chronicled earlier in the blog post I witnessed the impact of four different types of thorns: a wooden splinter, barbed wire, glass shard, and the unseen thorn in my own health.
It got me thinking. What if there were no thorns? What if God had not given us ground that gives forth thorns as a result of our sin against him back in Eden? To ask it a different way, what if there were no reminders of our fallen state of rebellion against God? How dreadful of a place that would be! Man committed a terrible crime against God by disobeying the perfect, holy Creator of all things, yet God was even merciful in the thorns! The thorns, especially for those of us that live in Central Texas, are a needful reminder. And the thorns that come into each of our lives can be viewed the same way.
By God’s grace, thorns can also build faith by helping us see a need and realizing we can’t fix it. If we poke ourselves on thorns they hurt. If the ground brings them forth naturally we are forced to wonder why. And yet we can’t stop the thorns from coming back permanently physically or spiritually on our own. We can’t prevent bad things (which can be for our good) from happening in life. We don’t have control. But there is one who does have that power and he was willing to wear a crown of thorns for his people. Therein is hope.
Maybe you or someone you love has a health issue. Perhaps you know someone you thought was a friend who has turned on you and now appears to be a great adversary. It could be the job you thought was stable has disappeared and you don’t know how you are going to make ends meet. Or, it could be the opposite and success in working or saving up is carrying you away and putting you in danger of pride and comfort in the flesh. Maybe you are seeking to know things that can’t be known and it is tripping you up. Perhaps you are getting carried away and distracted by the thing of this life. It could be you are just trying to control something that you can’t, and in the process are not trusting who you should. Each of us can probably list something different. Thorns and dangers come in thousands of varieties but are characterized by what they point out in us: weakness. Through the eyes of faith, all of these thorns, no matter what they look like to our senses, are a blessing and opportunity to trust and believe in the creator of all things. Sometimes we just need to cling to the Lord to get through. Sometimes we need to repent and turn away from something that has ensnared us. Sometimes both.
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…”
2 Corinthians 12:9
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
So that is what I’ve been pondering. May God allow each of us to see the blessing in the thorns. And may he draw us to himself and never let us go.
This post was originally meant to be a stand-alone post, which I drafted several weeks ago before we left on a trip to visit my ill grandfather in Missouri. Our trip to Missouri did not go as we expected and I continued to have health problems, which got worse. Lord willing, there will be a second part that continues this story when I am able.
To be continued…
my (grain-free) cookbook
All information found on Nourishing Days is editorial in nature and therefore meant to motivate and inspire rather than be construed as medical advice.
Any statements or claims about the health benefits of supplements or foods made here have not been evaluated by the FDA and as such are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease..
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