Success =/= Wealth

engaged!

At the beginning of the year, we were hit with some startling news.  In the simplest explanation, my husband would either need to transfer to a new location or accept a layoff package.  We were given five days to research available positions in other areas and create a short list of places we’d be willing to transfer to.  Five days.  If it was just my husband and I, there were a lot more options available.  However, we had three children to consider and that narrowed the scope greatly. 

Having several friends and family members who also work for the same company, it wasn’t long before word got out and phone calls were being made.  We really didn’t talk much about it publicly, because the truth was we didn’t have much information and we didn’t have a lot of time to make decisions.  We needed to pull close as a family and talk about the options and really not allow the opinions of others to influence us.  Sometimes, you just have to keep it close and quiet. 

As we went through the list, there was nothing local that paid close to what we would need.  We were going to have to choose between moving or losing his job.  As a family, we recognized job security trumped our preference to stay in our home.  We embraced the move as an adventure and came to some agreements on the details.  We had accepted that if God was going to move us, we were ready to pick up our mat and go.

If you have been friends with me long enough, you will know that I firmly believe that some moments are just tests in obedience and that the Lord could still provide a ram in the bush.  When Abraham was asked by the Lord to sacrifice his only son, Abraham prepared to do as the Lord commanded, and at the last minute the Lord sent a ram to Abraham.  Abraham’s obedience was honored and his son was saved.  We walked in trust that the Lord was going to lead us to where ever we were meant to be.  At the last minute, the Lord brought us a ram in the bush.  A position that was not originally on the list of available locations popped up and by nothing short of a miracle he was placed there.  We wouldn’t have to move.  And, in fact, in some ways our life has improved by the change.

The time it took for the ram to show up, seemed like forever.  We had months between where we needed to prepare.  We knew that he would move up ahead of us, and we’d follow after school was out for summer.  We knew there would be travel back and forth to help settle him into a temporary place, searching for a home for us when the time came, and of course visiting each other between.  We also knew that we’d have to prepare our home for sale.  In the time of waiting, we began purging our home of the unnecessary things.  We couldn’t make commitments to invitations.  Everything was in limbo.

A friend called, her husband works for the same company, and she was so sad to hear about our situation. I’ll be honest I was sad too.  After so many years in the company, after so many years in this home, we actually thought we were safe and rooted.  We thought we were beyond the transfers that plagued our early years of marriage.  At this point, my friend wanted to know if we had other options should my husband decide to accept the lay off package.  I explained that it wasn’t financially possible.  Nothing available in our area could pay him what he was currently making, and I certainly couldn’t carry the weight of the finances.

That surprised her.  She had considered my ministry work successful and assumed that I was making a decent income.  I had to burst her bubble and explain that I made zero income.  I would have to get a job and I’d make no where near what we would need, compared to my husband who has 15 years in a company that still has a pension plan.  It wasn’t even comparing apples to oranges, but rather tomatoes to oranges. 

My friend, Jay Sharpe (author of the Chicken Lyrics and Pocket Book of Gratitude), once said “there are many kinds of rich”.  Readers, friends, let me assure you that the majority of the people you know working in ministry are fruitfully rich even if they don’t make a dime of pay.  There are some who do pull a wage, but it’s usually nothing to write home about.  Being successful, even the top of our field, isn’t defined by our pay scale.

We write because we love to write, we feel compelled to write, the Lord puts it on our heart.

We speak, because He has given us an audience to speak His words to.

We create, because it is in our DNA… how we were knitted in the womb… to express ourselves.

We serve, because we are called to serve others above ourselves… lights in the dark world. 

We share the Gospel, because we are commissioned to do so.  It is our calling, our privilege.

We do so not for the rewards we will see here on earth, but rather our treasures that are stored in Heaven.  Even there our treasures will not always be defined by gold and silver.  As Jay said, there are many ways to be rich.

I am rich because of the people I am serving, and those I am serving with.  I am rich, because each day is a new opportunity to make Kingdom impacts on the world.  I am rich, because I have family, friends, neighbors, and community.

I am rich.

Even when my pockets are empty.

Even when the fridge is bare.

Even when time seems to be running out.

Even when I have been called to stillness.

Even when illness robs me of my strength.

Even when I feel lost and confused.

I am rich, because I am the daughter of the King.  I am rich, because of the ransom that was paid for me by Christ.  I am rich, because I do not measure my wealth by dollars and cents.

There are different kinds of rich.


Jay Sharpe will be speaking at the LeadHer Conference in Hobe Sound, FL (Oct 6 2018)

Transformation

cat1cat2cat3

The transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly is absolutely amazing.

Starting from an egg, the caterpillar grows, traveling on feet,  and feeding on the green leaves and early buds of flowers.  Then it eventually secures itself to a safe place and forms a chrysalis.  Eventually the chrysalis opens to reveal a butterfly, that now travels by flight and feeds off the nectar of the very same plants in which the caterpillar ate leaves off of.

The process that happens in the chrysalis is nothing short of miraculous.  The chrysalis is made up of the external skin of the caterpillar.  It shrinks itself up into this tiny pod and the skin hardens.  Inside, the rest of the caterpillar completely liquefies and it completely restructures into a butterfly, a new body.

This new body is completely different, it functions differently, it has a new purpose.  A new life is born.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ becomes a new person.  The old is life is gone, a new life has begun.

What is fascinating is that scientists have been able to confirm that despite this complete liquefaction of the caterpillar, the butterfly will retain all of the memories of the caterpillar it once was.  It hasn’t forgotten the old life, the lessons it learned, the experiences it had.  Scientists have even proven that some memories are passed through DNA to future generations.  It is why butterflies know what flowers to feed from, what path to migrate, etc.

However, in it’s new form the Butterfly will live a new life, a different life.

When we give our lives to Christ, we too become a new creation.  We shed the skin of our past, even though we remember those days and experiences.  But, like the butterfly, we have been given a new purpose.

The Storms that Soak

canoeproject

A couple of weeks ago, I finally got around to a major project we’d been planning.  We purchased an old beat up canoe, cleaned it up, and planned to make it a planter.  But, I could never decide what I wanted to put into the canoe.  So it sat. Empty.

Then one day, out of the blue, my husband said “Let’s go finish the canoe project”.  We ran to the local nursery center and I shopped with wild abandon.  Grabbing an assortment of colors, textures, etc.  The beauty of starting with an empty planter is that the project didn’t take long to complete.  There was nothing to clean out, just something to fill.  Holes drilled into the base for drainage, rocks added to assist drainage, soil, mulch, compost.  Then I filled it with a variety of flowers.  My husband asked, “is that enough” and I reassured him the flowers would fill the empty spaces over time.

Then the rains came.

A lot of rain.

Like every single day, all day long rain.

If you step into my yard right now, water rises up around your feet because the ground is so saturated.  So is the canoe.

And yet, despite the dreary rain… all the water… gray skies… interruptions to my plans…

I’ve been able to witness the beauty of what water brought to that canoe project.

The flowers are in full alert, growing, and filling out.  Color jumps out at me, and I smile every time I see it.

However, to get this moment… we needed the rain.

To see the beauty in the rain.  To see the growth in the rain.

Sometimes, we need the rains and the storms.  They nourish us and encourage us to grow.  Maybe we need to stop viewing all the storms (trials, complications, obstacles) as bad things… but instead as a force that will create momentum in our life.

Even the storms that seem to wipe everything away and knock us off our feet, will be followed by new life and new opportunity.

Isaiah 58:11

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Dry Bones

DRYBONES

I love going to women’s events, conferences, and brunches and listening to speakers.  Whether the speaker is a famous author, Pastor, or the woman who sits in the third pew.  For me, I never walk away from these experiences empty handed.  I learn something and gain from the gift of their words.

At the event from this weekend, there were two speakers.  I shared my thoughts/notes from the first speaker, Julie Mullins, last post.  The second speaker was Pastor Charlotte Gambill who Co-Pastors with her husband at Life Church across the pond in the UK.  I’ve never had an opportunity to hear Pastor Gambill before, and it was an absolute treat.

This is a mixture of direct words from her and my response to it written in my notes…

Do you feel like you are in the dry places? The desert of your life?

But you feel knocked down, worn out, planted into the stones and yet you want to uproot and run… but you can’t because you are breathless.

The sun is beating on your back, you are parched with thirst, your lungs feel as if there is no air left.

You feel like you are dying.
Your dreams are dying.
Your marriage is dying.
Your relationship with your child is dying.

… and God seems so far away…

God will put breath back into your lungs & resurrect the dry places, but first you must stop carrying the load that He doesn’t want you to bear in order to go to the place He is taking you.  ~Pastor Charlotte Gambill

You are carrying the dry bones of your past that you thought you buried away. Past pain and hurt, confusion and frustration, anger and guilt. The enemy wants us to bury these bones and hide them, so that we don’t face them and others can’t see. God says NO! In order to bring life to those dry old bones, we must face them head on.

He is the God who resurrects and restores.

—————————————————
Ezekiel 37:1-14
The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”
————————————————

God will drop you into the valley of dry bones because He has a question for you, because sometimes God’s answer to you is wrapped in your answer to Him.

~Pastor Charlotte Gambill

God asked Ezekiel “can these bones live” and Ezekiel avoided the question, he didn’t want to answer. When we avoid facing the questions we can’t find healing, have or joy restored, or our life returned. We are hiding in the desert places.

God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, giving power to the Word of God… not the words of friends, not the words of family members, not the words of people who do not care for you… that may cause you to lay down your life and dreams and hopes prematurely.

But, God can’t work if you are living in the past. Facing the bones is not the same as living with them. If you are choosing the live in the bones of the past (of what was, or what you longed for and gave up)… you will be stuck.

When Ezekiel prophesied over the bones, they rose and assembled themselves and flesh covered them… but there was no life in them. It’s not enough to just assemble the bones, but we must ask God to breathe new life into them. To breathe new life into our dreams, breath new life into our relationships, breath new life into our world.

Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, fast forward he’s now in charge of the Pharoah’s household and serves as his right hand man. Everything was seemingly perfect for Joseph, but he still had bones he was carrying.

You can still bloom in the desert places, but you must deal with the bones for the super bloom. God will bring them right to you, bumping you into them. The woman who hurt you, shows up at the same retreat you are at. The person you need to apologize to keeps showing up in the random places. You can’t seem to escape it, because He needs you to face it.

Joseph carried a lot of bones in his life, he had every reason to be angry and hurt. Yet we never see him protesting, trying to prove himself to others, etc. Instead he spent time trying to improve himself. He didn’t worry about others blessings or failures, he concerned himself with his own stuff. This allowed Joseph’s heart to be open for restoration verses revenge.

The emotional cost of carrying a heavy bag of bones is that you will be breathless.

In Gen 42, Joseph faces his brothers… the ones who began His plight. He had to face those bones.

1. His pain was revisited. We don’t have to pretend the pain didn’t happen. The pain is real, but if we hold it in … the pain becomes toxic. We must exhale the pain, and inhale His breathe of new life.

2. He had to remember. It will cost you a lot to keep replaying the past. Remember it, but do not linger, move forward.

3. He had to be a silent witness as they recalled the events. Sometimes we have to witness those who hurt us reckon with their actions before we can release it. But, these silent tears are not in vain they are washing away the past.

“You can use your tears to water weeds or to sprout new life.”

“You can not get back the years of your past, but God can replace them with better years to come.”  ~Pastor Charlotte Gambill

4. He had to grieve what was lost. Joseph’s youngest brother had nothing to do with what happened to him, he was just a child of 4 years. The actions of his brothers cost him years of relationship with his brother Benjamin. Joseph mourned what Benjamin didn’t even know about. Instead of bringing Benjamin into the pain, Joseph grieved this in private and then cleaned himself up and got a grip on himself.

“There is a time limit on tears. Stop crying about what was or was supposed to be. Exhale the past, it is gone. Inhale your purpose for now.”

5. He recognized God was behind it. The sorrow Joseph experienced due to his brothers was not wasted, God used it for purpose. A seed was removed from one place and planted for a greater future.

When Ezekiel followed the Lord’s instructions, the bones came together. It was better, but not full. Don’t just stop because things seem better… keep going. Because the fullness comes when God breathes new life into your dreams. New life into your marriage. New life into your relationships. New life into your prodigal. New life into your career.

New breath means you will not just stand but you will LIVE!

God didn’t just raise one set of bones in the desert that day with Ezekiel. He raised an army.

That God is calling to you… will you face your dry bones? Will you settle for better? Or will you command new life into the dry weary bones?

As each of us surrender to God our dry bones, and He breathes new life into our trials… and we are holding on for not just better but best… He is raising a King’s Army in us.

Reflecting on #Amazing18

Happy

This weekend, I attended the #Amazing18 event at Christ Fellowship, hosted by CF Sisterhood.  The event theme was Flourish.  In addition to an amazing Worship team, ballet performance, and just an overwhelmingly welcoming environment… there were two great speakers that really spoke to my heart.

Just that morning, I was praying on my way to the event.  “Lord, give me a Word at this event.”  I was struggling through something, and I needed God’s guidance because I had no idea what to do next … what decisions to make.  Apparently I needed more than 1 good word, I needed many.

The first speaker, Julie Mullins (of Christ Fellowship) opened up the event and introduced the theme “Flourish” through an illustration of the 2016 Death Valley Super Bloom.

In 2016, Death Valley experienced a Super Bloom. This is the hottest desert in the US. For most years it is barren and desolate. Yet, beneath the dry rocky soil, lay millions of seeds just waiting to bring new life. California experienced a series of incredible weather that year. Driest summer. Coldest winter. Wettest spring. As a result of the volume of water that spring, these seeds sprouted into not just a bloom… but a super bloom.

It was as if this dry, rocky, arid place was covered in a blanket of flowers. Some of which are only found in Death Valley and only when a super bloom happens. According to most, a super bloom may happen only once in a decade. For many seeing it is a once in a lifetime experience.

* The word flourish means to grow vigorously as a result of favorable conditions. We often think that favorable means easy, wonderful, perfect… but in the case of the Super Bloom the favorable conditions were actually a result of a series of difficult seasons.

* There were millions of seeds below the surface. [ My own notation: All of the affirmations that have been spoken to you, all of the words of wisdom, the Scripture you have read, the prayers others pray over you, etc. are all seeds just under your surface. You can’t see them, but they are there… waiting.]

* Isaiah 35:1-2 — The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.

Isaiah 35:6-7 — Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

When I arrived home, I knew I wanted to write about this, but I also wanted to understand more about the super bloom.  I dug into some reading and videos on the topic.  After doing so, and unpacking Julie’s words, here is where I’ve landed:

Do you feel like you are in a season of dry, rocky ground? Where you a desperately thirsty and it seems like you can’t find water anywhere. You feel as if you are drying up?

There are some who say that nothing can ever survive in the valley, but in an instant the Valley of Death becomes the Valley of Life.

Why?

1. The seeds that are underground were designed by God to endure the harshest droughts. They have a special coating on them that keeps them from blooming when only short and shallow rains fall.

2. It will take the greatest storms to crack through that coating.

Even though you may feel like you are in the dry valley, the valley of death… inside of you are seeds that are waiting for the RIGHT moment to germinate and come through the surface. But for some of us, it is going to take an extraordinary set of circumstances to cause those seeds to break through. And the result will be a sudden burst of new life, beauty like anything unseen. Some of us need extra storms, extra trials… double the rain…. a series of extreme situations to unlock what is coming.

What seemed like a sudden burst of life to those who witnessed it, took a decade or more of preparation. The result was beyond any expectation.

But, know what you are up against!

When the Super Bloom happened, all of these flowers and plants also brought an influx of other new lives into the valley. Bugs, insects… they began to thrive. The beauty that rose up out of the dry lands created provision for the creatures. It also brought predators, the lizards who eat the insects and the birds who eat the lizards. In the moments of beauty, there will be predators who take advantage of what it brings.

Lord, let the rains fall and fill our dry valleys. Let your living waters seep deep into our bodies and reach those seeds that have been waiting for so long, so that we may flourish and thrive. Give us patience and confidence as we endure the trials knowing we are waiting for our super bloom moment. In your time, not ours. Amen.

The Father of the Prodigal Son

He Ran toHis Son

What I love about the Scripture of the Prodigal Son was that the father didn’t wait for his son to be “perfect” before giving him the inheritance that he asked for. There was no expectation that the son had to be in line to get anything. He was given his fair share.
 
The older brother didn’t think this was ok, since he had done all the “right things”. He was upset that the father was celebrating the sons return despite squandering the father’s wealth.
 
And finally, I love that the father didn’t withhold himself from his son.  The father didn’t wait for the son to humble himself, knocking on the door, apologizing, etc.   It says that he saw his son a “long way off”.   The father didn’t know why his son was heading into the town, he just knew that He needed to run TO his son.
When we read the story of the prodigal son, as parents, we read it from the perception that one day our wayward children will come back home and return to our authority/wisdom/guidance.  For our children who left the church, we read it with the hope that one day our children will return to the fold.
The problem with these interpretations is that they having us waiting for our children to come to us.  To humble themselves before us.  To admit they are wrong, to turn back the right way, etc.  We want to be told we were right.  We want our children to do what we say, how we say to do it, and when we say to do it.  We want obedience.  And, in some cases, it has more to do with our own pride (of how others will perceive us) than how our children may have strayed.
Scripture shows a father who didn’t withhold from his child (even when he was not making the right decisions)… and a father who didn’t wait to hear how right he was, but instead RAN TO his child in the distance.
Perhaps the real lesson is that instead of sitting in our houses waiting for our children to admit they were wrong and we were right… we are supposed to be running toward the opportunity to embrace them, to reconcile and celebrate.
Who was won to Christ by being shunned for their sin?  The Samaritan woman, is a great example.  Jesus went well out of His way to encounter this one woman.  She didn’t turn from her ways because the people of her community turned their back on her.  She turned from her sin because Jesus came TO HER.  Jesus showed love, kindness, compassion, and grace when others avoided her.
Who was won to Christ by being judged for their sin?  The woman caught in adultery.  While others stood with stones in hand to throw at her, Christ climbed into the pit with her.  When others were ready to destroy her, Christ gave her life.
Perhaps it’s time we stop shunning people and throwing stones of judgement at those who simply sin differently than we do.

The Theory of Spoons

SPOONS

 

If you have never heard of the Spoon Theory, a very brief explanation is the use of spoons to illustrate the amount of energy a person has on a given day.  Each activity of the day takes away a spoon.  So, in theory, the average person has 12 spoons for the day.   When she gets ready for work, that costs a spoon.  Work itself may be another 1 or 2 spoons.  Tending to the kids, another spoon.  Her spouse, another spoon.  Cleaning up the house, a spoon.   Spoons for meals.  Spoons for chores.  Spoons for the gym.  Spoons for appointments.  Etc. Each night when she goes to bed, her spoons are replenished and she begins her new day with 12 spoons ready to go.

Now imagine you have the same number of spoons, but you have an illness or a child who is ill?  We all know that if mom is down with the flu, all her spoons are spent on being trying to get better.  She may even crash in bed for a few days, take her medication, and do very little.  It literally will take all of her spoons (energy) just to get through the basics of each day.  We all know that once mom feels better, there is usually a few days of catch up that must happen.  Mom may exhaust her spoons in this process, however, she will be able to rest up and her spoons will be replenished.  Eventually, she is back on her cycle of 12 spoon days and an evening of sleep to replenish for the next day.

Now take this illustration a step further, and think about the mom who has or cares for someone with a chronic illness.   For those of us who have a chronic illness or care for someone with a chronic illness, our life is all about borrowing spoons.  To get more done today, I may need to borrow spoons from tomorrow.  This means tomorrow, I won’t wake up with 12 spoons.  Instead, I may have 10… or 5.  And, because of my illness, I won’t always get a good night of sleep.  Which means I don’t always replenish to a full 12 spoons for the next day.  If I am having a good day, I can even get away with 1 spoon cost per activity.  Some days, however, are not all that great.  It may take more spoons to accomplish the same task because I’m so fatigued. 

In other words, people who have a chronic illness never get to really have true 12 spoon days.  We are always working in a deficit.  Even if I get 12 spoons of energy today, I’m going to pay for it tomorrow.  That is the reality.  That is every day.  That is the struggle of having a chronic illness or caring for someone who does.  Caretakers are not only spending their spoons on their own daily needs/tasks, but also spending extra spoons taking care of someone else. 

Do you know who else experiences this same spoon cost?  Single parents.  Because, there is no one there to lighten their load and divy up the chores.   Mental illness costs spoons too, because it may take more mental effort to complete tasks that are easier for others. Not to mention that mental illness can also be a physical and emotional drain on the body.

Today, I’m definitely on a limited supply of spoons.  It began with the fact that I was way behind in Spring Cleaning due to being sick earlier in the year.  I was still trying to play catch up on my every day things, Spring Cleaning was not even on my horizon.  Then once I did get into Spring Cleaning mode… that was pretty taxing.  Add in the completion of one of our large garden projects, and my body is physical spent.  My hands and joints hurt, my muscles hurt, I am physically exhausted and mentally spent.  This is not normal “you did a lot pain” .  I remember life when I wasn’t sick, what I could do and accomplish.  It’s really quite frustrating to not be able to live like that anymore. 

However, now, these physical pains from my hard labor are coupled with my every day pains and symptoms of my illness.  So, it’s just worse.  As simple as that.  My very skin hurts to be touched.  Imagine your worst sun burn ever, that pain is something I deal with fairly regularly.  Whether I say it or not.  If you wonder why I didn’t hug you today, it’s because it hurts today.  Tomorrow, may not be bad.  But today, it hurts. 

There are days where I can barely get myself ready because my muscles hurt as if I’ve gone on some sort of gym challenge that has left my body feeling like “leg day”, “arm day”, and “trunk day” happened all at the same time.   Yet, the day before I did nothing more than sweep the house and drive my kids around.  Grocery day literally takes everything out of me.  Sometimes I have to take a nap after taking a simple shower (Hashimotos people understand this completely). 

Why do I write this today?

Because I don’t look sick.  I don’t act sick.  This is part of my every day.  I don’t walk around with a sad look on my face, moaning and groaning over how hard each day is.  I just push through the best I can, and some days will come along where I can’t push any further.  So I must rest.  I try my best to not let my illness get the best of me and affect my life more negatively than it does.  Because of this, there are times where those around me forget that I’m sick.  It isn’t their fault, it doesn’t upset me that it slips their mind.  I just have to be willing to remind them every now and again.  

You may say… “But Gena, you do all of these things…”.   Let me just set that straight.  I really do nothing in my own strength.  What I accomplish in my family life and ministry work is 100% in the Lord’s strength.  Just like Paul’s thorn, I’ve asked the Lord to take this from me.  He hasn’t.  I will say there are some things that are better than they once were, but He hasn’t completely healed me though.  It’s not due to a lack of faith on my part, but rather because it keeps me humbled. 

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.