Lesson 4: WORTHWHILE AIN’T NECESSARILY EASY!

I recently released a short non-fiction book entitled GOD, LIFE & HULA HOOPS: SPIRITUAL LISTENING LESSONS. It’s meant to be light-hearted but with a serious message. Throughout the summer, I’m going to share some of the book with you. Only some–if you want all of it, you’ll have to buy it! Click here for the link.

 

LESSON 4: WORTHWHILE AIN’T NECESSARILY EASY (OR QUICK)!

Habakkuk 2: 3 (KJV)

For the vision is yet for an appointed time…though it tarry, wait for it.

 

So, I kept trying to hula hoop and kept failing.

My writing career was much the same way for many years. It took me fifteen years to get my first traditional contract. That’s right! Fifteen years!

To say I was frustrated was a bit of an understatement. I was firmly convinced God wanted me to be a writer so I didn’t understand why it wasn’t happening. If God wanted me to do it, wouldn’t he make it easy for me?

Absolutely not! Did he make it easy for Mary and Joseph? For Paul? For Noah? For Joseph?

Of course, God wants us to succeed in our dreams, but more importantly he wants us to grow and mature as Christians. That brings us to our attitudes.

Talk about bad attitudes. The Israelites who left Egypt had a bit of an attitude problem. Now wouldn’t you think that with all that God did for them, they would have like the best attitude about God–ever?

After all, God put all those plagues on Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Then, God parted the Red Sea for them to escape. Then, God gave them water and food just when they needed it the most. Then, God guided them day and night with clouds and fire. They experienced God’s miracles again and again and again. But did the Israelites have a good attitude?

They grumbled and complained and every time that Moses turned his back, they went back to worshiping idols instead of the one true living God. Their attitude is what kept them in the desert wandering around for forty years when they could have been enjoying the Promised Land all that time.

Just because God wants us to do something doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy or to happen quickly. Just as parents know (or should know) if you make everything too easy for a child, they won’t grow up—they won’t mature.

God is our Heavenly Father and he knows what’s best for us which means that sometimes he’ll give us a miracle and other times we have to do the work to get that miracle. I can say without a doubt I wasn’t ready to be a published writer for many of those fifteen years, spiritually or craft wise.

It wasn’t quick or easy, but all those years of practice were worth it!

Four years and eight contracts later, writing still brings me so much joy. But what would have happened if I’d quit in year ten? Year thirteen? Year fourteen and a half?

When I’m asked what advice I would give to unpublished writers, I always include DON’T QUIT!

We all know God wanted Mary to be the mother of Jesus. And look at all she went through—shunned; humiliated; chased out of her homeland; and watching her son die on the cross.

Worthwhile ain’t necessarily easy or quick!

God spoke to Moses. He gave him the assignment of leading the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. It took Moses more than forty years, and in the end he didn’t get to go into the Promised Land even though the Israelites did.

Worthwhile ain’t necessarily easy or quick!

Life is like that. As I write this, it’s been almost three years since I was diagnosed with my brain tumors. And believe me, it hasn’t been easy or quick.

I had my first Gamma Knife treatment in August of 2012. It’s a type of super strong radiation treatment that is supposed to “kill” the tumor. At the same time, I was given a prescription for an emergency steroid pack and told to use them if anything weird happened with my hearing, then call the doctor in the morning.

One night in December I was sitting watching TV and…one moment everything was normal and in the next I had a symphony in my head. I heard all sorts of noises—fire alarms, cymbals crashing, ocean waves and wind, and all at the same time.

Very bizarre. It took me a second, but then I realized I needed to start the steroids. And so I did. Along with the noise came dizziness and feeling off-balance. The next day, I couldn’t do anything but lay on a couch, but I did manage to call the doctors who put me on an even stronger steroid.

And that’s when things went from bad to worse.

The steroids and I didn’t get along. I was so sick—and dizzy—and fuzzy thinking—and tired—and… and…and…the list could go on and on. For the next five months, I didn’t do much of anything except sit in a chair.

Well, that and eat.

I mean really—have you ever been on steroids? Eating and sitting—not such a good thing when you’re overweight to begin with. During this time, life was tough. I won’t deny it. There’d be days (many days) when I didn’t bother to get dressed. It wasn’t worth the effort.

Even though I’m overweight, I’ve been an exerciser all of my adult life with the exception of a few months here or there. But every time I tried to exercise now, I just couldn’t do it. If I was lucky, I’d get in a slow walk for 5-10 minutes a couple of times a week on the treadmill.

The amazing thing was that most days, I would force myself to crawl up the steps and sit at my computer. And the most amazing thing would happen. The fog would lift and I’d be able to write my stories.

It might only last for ten minutes, certainly no more than an hour. And then the fog would descend. But I was able to write and that in itself made me feel better. That’s when I also understood that God truly had created me to write stories so others could enjoy them.

In April of 2013, I was finally taken off the steroids and told the first tumor was “dead.” I thought everything was going good until…the pain started. Lots of pain all over my body and my hair started falling out and all I wanted to do was sleep.

I’m not going to go into the whole thing, but I felt even worse than when I was on the steroids. And that was really bad! Along with that, I’d lost all my hearing in my right ear and my balance was messed up as well.

And of course, I was at a heavier weight than I’d ever been, thanks to my sitting and eating and no exercise. I just wanted to give up and sit on my couch.

Remember my dad and his family. That’s what they all did. I loved my grandmother very much. But in all the time I knew her I saw her get off her couch maybe three or four times.

Think about it! She didn’t die until I was in my early twenties and I only saw her get up off that couch three or four times! (OK, as I read this I realize that might be a slight exaggeration—but not much!) And the interesting thing was that we’d go have holiday meals at her house. And they were delicious! But I never saw her off the couch and out in the kitchen working on them.

Obviously she did get off the couch, I just never saw her.

And then I saw my uncles and my dad fall right into that same pattern. By pattern, I mean sitting on the couch and doing nothing. Then some of my cousins.

Throughout my life, I’d told myself I would never let myself give up that way. Just sit on a couch. Every time, my weight would climb too high, I’d manage to lose just enough.

Not this time, I really wanted to just sit on that couch and give up. I didn’t have the energy or the motivation to even bother to try. That couch was beckoning and it would be so much easier, but…

I’d watched my husband battle chronic pain for years. Every time, I’d try to cancel an event because he wasn’t feeling good, he’d refuse to let me. His philosophy was I can be in pain and sit at home or I can be in pain and do something fun.

After years of watching him not letting his pain take over his life, I figured if he could do it, I could at least give it a try. So, I ignored that couch and did what I could do.

Over the next few months, I adopted his philosophy. We went camping, took a trip to Nashville, I kept exercising 10 or 15 minutes, and wrote my stories. None of it was easy. Well, writing the stories was easy but not much else.

Still I did it—and with a smile most of the time.

One day I didn’t feel quite as tired or as much pain. And then another good day and another. So by the time October of 2013 came around, I felt almost back to normal. At least my new normal—deaf in one ear and balance problems.

Just in time for my second treatment.

Everything that happened as a result of the first treatment happened again. Steroids—sitting—eating—weight gain—more hearing loss—more loss of balance—more pain—more of everything.

But I’m happy to say, the second time hasn’t been nearly as bad as the first time. Except for the weight gain. I reached another all-time high in that area. Another note: It’s February 2015. My last treatment was almost a year and a half ago. And I’m still being treated for this tumor. My hearing keeps going “wonky.” And that means I keep getting put back on steroids.

I’m not quite sure why the second time wasn’t as bad as the first, but I’m very grateful. During the past two years, I’ve learned that giving up should never be an option when it comes to your health. Or the other important things in your life.

It doesn’t matter what goals or dreams you have, you’ve got to stick to it. If you quit, you won’t get there. Doesn’t matter if it’s to learn to play a piano, lose weight, be a writer, or hula hoop.

If you quit, it won’t happen.

Worthwhile ain’t necessarily easy or quick! Nothing happens overnight, especially the things that really count.

As I write this, I’ve been going to Weight Watchers for almost a year. And I’ve lost over 30 pounds. It’s been slow. Painfully slow but I keep going back. As long as I don’t quit, I’m moving forward.

Progress in any area is slow, sometimes you even take a step or two backwards. That’s when you really want to quit but don’t! That break-through you’ve been looking for could be right around the corner.

During most of this time, my hula hoop sat in the basement and was ignored. So when I say I’ve been back at hula hooping for the past three years, that’s not exactly accurate. There was a long break in there, thanks to the side effects of my treatment for the tumors.

But as I spent more time in the basement for my exercise sessions, that hula hoop regained my attention. And so I started trying—again!

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