"With man, this is impossible,
but not with God.
All things are possible with God."
~ Mark 10:27 (NIV)
It's been seven years since April 21, 2006 and there have been some dark places I've gone through to get to where I am today. Places I am ashamed of, but forgiven. Places that had I been stronger, would not have done. This is what I need to write, to exorcise and release in hopes of saving another from the road I chose.
I don't remember much of the rest of 2006, nor the following year, 2007. Those were times of learning to walk again, to take care of myself without help. John remembers them. Nelson and our daughters remember. I'm blessed that I don't.
This post is not about what sent me to the Garden, but rather what has taken place since. I know others prayed for me, suffered through it, and I am grateful.
And so, it begins ~
It didn't feel good not to be able to teach again. I lost a large part of who I was. Not teach?! Not ever again?! NO!
It didn't feel good to to sell our home. Because I couldn't drive anymore, nor did we need the payment, we had already sold my Murano. One of my favorite vehicles. But we, like so many others, spent what we made. Had we held on just another year and a half, we could have kept the home, but it would have always been a struggle. And God had other plans.
The house sold quickly (a great blessing) and we prepared to downsize. A stranger came into our life, sent by God, to help us in areas others couldn't. She found us a beautiful home on the east side of town, and we settled into a wonderful apartment. I should have thrived. I didn't. Leaving a job I loved still hurt deeply. I felt lost. Useless.
Later that year, I had the chance to substitute at a local elementary school and was thrilled! Then terrified. Being led into the classroom, the door closing behind me, I suddenly lost touch with reality and John was called. The words 'psychotic break' was mentioned. (Dr. Mary Neal talks of this in her book, To Heaven and Back. The feeling of wondering if 'this' is a dream or if you're actually back on earth.) An amazing network of family and medical support got me through, but it had serious side effects. I became addicted to prescription pain drugs and began a descent into depression.
Were there reasons to be happy? Of course! We had grandchildren to love. Three lived within twenty minutes of us. But I felt incapable of keeping them. One daughter and her husband even voiced this to us, reducing me to a sobbing mess, but they were right. My adored husband? He loved me, but hated seeing me sad and hurting, so he allowed me to sleep as much as I wanted. He became an enabler and I became a recluse, going into deeper hibernation, my soul crying, 'why did You send me back?!' We rocked on.
2011 began with laughter. A family vacation to the Smokey's and plans for another family vacation in May! This one at Disney World. The year held great promises. John and I took a trip to the Gulf coast in April to visit a friend, and it was then, he says, that he realized a change had to take place. The blessed Holy Spirit whispered to him that he needed to move us south, to a place where there were other retirees, but no one knew us. So much to do, a variety of places to eat, and to top it off, the fresh air off the Gulf of Mexico. We bought a home there the next month.
Now, not only was I in the throes of withdrawal from the prescription drug addiction, but there was the pain of leaving the only child I gave birth to, the sadness of leaving the only family member still talking to me, realizing we were leaving three grandchildren, and saying goodbye to friends of my heart. Sobbing became a daily occurrence. Looking for answers, for peace. Did I ever stop praying? No. Never. I just wondered why He allowed me to return when I couldn't find a reason or a purpose to be alive. I needed to feel needed.
It was a year of major life changing moments. I'm surprised we both survived. But God is so amazingly good and He had plans for both of us. Plans for healing. Plans for new friends, new experiences and the chance to just be us. Not 'victims of a horrid medical accident'.
By Spring of 2012, health issues dating back to the accident surfaced and coupled with a compromised immune system, I was not only sick physically but sick at heart. I prayed. Praying in earnest. Did I feel as if He was listening? I did. Was I listening to Him? No. I didn't want to hear what he had to say. I just wanted to sleep until I 'felt all better'. Talk about being a modern day Jonah!
But there are times when you have to listen. When He makes it impossible to ignore Him. We are blessed with three Godly daughters and they love us very much. Enough to show tough love and we needed it. I needed it. I will forever be grateful to them and love them even more for it.
A Godly physician corrected a serious kidney problem that kept me sick the Spring of 2012. Beginning in 2013, a dear friend told me of an easy way to still eat some carbs but eat healthier (Metabolism Miracle). And through a daughter, we learned of a natural way (thank you, doTerra Essential oils!) to cleanse the physical body. Spiritually, I became a very present part of a bible study with two wise ladies that taught me of a God I never knew. God's Spirit, the Holy Spirit. I began spiritually preparing my heart to do His Will. The healthier I became, the clearer I heard Him. I realized I had been sent back to share what I learned. Sent back to assure the hungry that yes, there IS a God. He DOES forgive and He doesn't want any of His children to choose an eternity away from Him. Away from Heaven. But there IS a Hell and we do have free will. We can choose to follow a Father that loves us deeply or live without Him and spend an eternity in torment wishing our choice had been different.
There are still friends that find it difficult to believe I was in one of His gardens. Telling me it was a dream, much like the nightmares that took place when my body was weaned off paralytic drugs. These questions are valid and easy to answer. NO. It was not a dream. The world is hearing of an increasing number of incidents of near death experiences. Word is being spread of what they witnessed. And that they, too, were sent back to share. Why are certain ones chosen? I don't know. I don't care. I only know we were sent back to encourage, to reach out to the lost, to reassure the believers, and to witness for our Father.
My journey to wholeness has been a long, difficult one. I'm thankful that John listened to Holy Spirit and made the difficult decision to move us. It's been a time of healing, of letting go and grabbing hold. It's been a blessing. But then, when we allow Him to lead us, we are blessed beyond measure. "For I know the plans I have for you, 'declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
I encourage you to read 'Heaven is Real' by Todd Burpo and 'To Heaven and Back' by Dr. Mary C. Neal. Don Piper speaks more of what is after death in his book '90 Minutes in Heaven'. These have encouraged and inspired me.
And always, God's Word. The Bible. His Word is filled with accounts of what we can expect, what He will give us, teach us, and wants for us. He is our Father, our Lord, our King and I will live the rest of my life living a life for Him and talking of what awaits us. I, for one, cannot wait to see the rest of what He has prepared.
I believe His promises to be true. I believe Heaven is real. I also believe He has a plan for me and that He will help, and even carry me, when needed.
And know that I am God."
~ Psalm 4:10 (NKJV)
I am not perfect, but I'm forgiven. I know He loves me. I am excited about today. About tomorrow. I have a God that has given me a second chance. I will spend the rest of my life on earth going where He leads and listening to everything He has to say, even when like Jonah, saying no would be easier. "Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, 'Here am I. Send me!'" ~ Isaiah 6:8