Never Alone

Our hearts were as heavy as the oppressive heat that was baking our car. Add in the 6 year old and 18 month old who kept asking for a break from the constant driving, and we were desperate for a place to get out and stretch our legs on this first day of our cross-country drive. We were letting go of our hope for a new start in California and heading back to our families in the Midwest. But the backroads of Arizona and New Mexico were calling for one last glance at the “Old West” before we left it all behind.

When the signs pointed to a rock-hunters’ delight, we decided to let the boys look to their hearts’ content. Piles of geodes, agates, and crystals fascinated them. But my newly pregnant body was just glad for the chance to move.

All of the first trimester symptoms were making themselves known, and I had already removed my wedding ring because of the swelling. So, when my husband spied me eyeing the Arizona locally-made-jewelry, he secretly followed behind me. When he saw my eyes light up over the Arizona Blue Opal in a silver ring setting, he made me try them on for size. It was his gift to me in the middle of our heartache. He said he wanted me to know that our love was still as strong as ever.

~~~~~~~~

The memories from 33 years ago flooded through me last week, when my daughter, the baby I was pregnant with all those years ago, sent me a photo of special jewelry that she had purchased with her husband on their own westward trip. I had forgotten about my ring, as it was too large once my fingers returned to their normal size after my pregnancy.

So I wondered … could it possibly … ?

On the day I had my first Rheumatologist appointment almost 6 years ago, I had to make a stop at the Emergency Room to have my wedding rings cut off because of excessive RA swelling. I’ve carried a disappointment in my heart since then, but because my hands have become a whole different size now, I’ve never considered getting new rings. The rate of swelling comes on so fast during a flare, that it’s impossible to judge the proper size. … But what if that old gift was actually meant for now?

I rummaged through my jewelry, and there it lay on the bottom, tarnished and forgotten. But not forgotten to my Lord, who sees every hidden heartache. I tried to put it on my ring finger, but even that larger ring was now too small for my swollen hands. But I placed it on my pinky, and tears sprang up fresh in my eyes. On those days when my hand is not flaring, I have a symbol of love to wear again. My husband was so touched that he bought a container of silver polish when he went to the store the next day.

In the photo, my hand is resting on a wrap crocheted for me by my dear RA sister, Sheriann. Her disease is in the final stage, and there are days when she and her husband are fighting for her very life. And yet, on her “good days” she is awake, sitting on her bed or couch, and crocheting beautiful gifts to share with other chronic illness sisters. She is truly one of God’s gift-givers, and I am so thankful for her.

We think that we are alone in the journeys we face. The trips cross-country feel like dying in the sun. The leaving of our families feels like separation that is too hard to bear. The days lying in pain feel like no one could ever understand.

But God saves a ring, something that looks so small to the world, buried in the bottom of a drawer, to show us that HE never forgets. HE will always call us HIS own beloved.

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17 NIV

Are you feeling deserted in the places that you are facing?

He invites us to remember that HE will never leave us or forsake us. And He calls us to share these journeys with each other, pointing to His care along the way.

May I pray with you today?

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for the faithful love that You have planned to shower over us, for the singing that You have voiced over our hearts. We become so weighed down with the pain of our days that we forget YOU are still here with us. Will You help us to cry out to You on these heat-filled and weary days? We need You so much. Thank You for the gifts that You have scattered throughout our pathways. Thank You for the gift-givers that You send to travel these roads with us. Help us each to become a gift-giver of Your love. Show us how to share the small joys and great graces that You have given. Thank You for loving us and saving us.

In the name of our Savior, Jesus, we pray,

Amen.

And I have so much thankfulness in my heart for those who have continued to pray for the Radio Frequency Ablation that I had last month. While I am still dealing with lingering side effects from all of the failed RA infusions this summer, Praise God for the relief that I am beginning to feel from those head pains! Truly His grace is such a gift for us.

Now for those of you who remember the Giveaway that I promised last week for all who commented, the winner is Kristine Pemberton, one of my Facebook commenters. Chronic Joy Ministry has a copy of the great allegory, Hind’s Feet on High Places, to mail to you! I will be in touch with you this week to start that process. Congratulations! And thank you all for the great comments.

I am linking with: #RememberMeMonday #GraceAndTruth

35 thoughts on “Never Alone

    1. Oh, those opals are such a lovely birthstone, Mandy! God is so good to remind us of how His gifts come at just the right time and way to satisfy our longings. He is so good to us. Blessings and love to you today, Dear Sister!

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  1. I was right there in the car with you – a six year old, 18 month old and pregnant! I can feel the exhaustion, the disappointment – and the need to stretch – and your husband and your Father comforted you – planting a seed then for all these years later! He is the best weaver of our stories – and yours, though filled with pain, is soul beautiful! Your prayer! Amen sister – and Amen to this: “Thank You for the gifts that You have scattered throughout our pathways. Thank You for the gift-givers that You send to travel these roads with us. Help us each to become a gift-giver of Your love.” You are a beautiful gift-giver right here! Shalom, sweet sister! ~ Maryleigh

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    1. Dear Maryleigh,
      Thank you for your sweet comments here. You have brought tears to my eyes tonight, for truly our Father did “Plant a seed then for all these years later.” We just cannot imagine the ways that He will work and weave His love into our lives. Yes, may we continue to let Him show us ways to share that love. Thank you for sharing that love with me today. Blessing and love to you dear sister.

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  2. I am so glad your head pains are easing a bit Bettie. I love rings too, and nine of mine will go on any more. So sad. I do hope you start to feel much much better soon. Sending you all mymlive, and prayers too ❤️

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    1. Dear Lorraine,
      I am so grateful for the prayers that we have shared for each other! You are such an encouragement as you share from your heart with all of us. I pray that God will continue to let His gifts shine through you too. Sending love and hugs to you across the ocean tonight!

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  3. This brings tears to my eyes, Bettie. I just love it when God brings us special reminders to confirm to our hearts His promise that He is with us and He will never leave us or forsake us. I love the Zephaniah verse! Thank you for this encouraging reminder of His endless love and compassion! I’m so happy that you’re getting relief from those head pains! Love and blessings of God’s strength for each moment!

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    1. Dear Trudy,
      Yes, I am so thankful that God finds such precious ways to confirm His Word and His love for us. Yes, that was the verse that my daughter (the same one in this story) chose for her Wedding verse, 10 years ago this past weekend! God’s timing is so amazing! Thank you for all of your prayers, and thank you for all of the ways that you share His encouragement so beautifully. I pray that He is encouraging you, even as you comfort others. Love and hugs for you dear friend! xoxo

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  4. Good morning dear Bettie, wow! Your story weaves together your past and present so beautifully. Thank you, Lord, for continuing to bless Bettie in the midst of her pain, in the swelling, in the restricted space. For when You move and recover an old ring, You show Your immense love not only for Bettie but for the rest of Your children. Thank you dear sister for continuing to testify to His goodness, His faithfulness. Love and hugs, Julie

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    1. Dear Julie,
      Yes, isn’t our God full of such immense love for each one of us! I appreciate all of your prayers and caring so much dear sister. May the Lord continue to lead and guide you along His pathway also. He is so faithful to us. Love and hugs to you!

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  5. Dear Bettie, oh what a moving story and lovely testimony to God’s overseeing care! You’re a naturally gifted storyteller with a beautiful way of expressing events, engaging your readers, and helping us to vividly sense each scenario you paint with your descriptive words. And don’t we all love a happy ending?!
    But I also sense the heaviness of the changes you’ve had to adapt and adjust to since succumbing to RA, and the sadness of not being able to wear your original engagement and wedding rings. Yet how wonderfully God provided for you 33 years ago, and still does. You are a great gift-giver to others through your heartfelt words and lived out life, your testimony of enduring faith in hard times.
    I love your prayer and can particularly identify with this: “We become so weighed down with the pain of our days that we forget YOU are still here with us. Will You help us to cry out to You on these heat-filled and weary days? We need You so much.” Oh yes, so very much! Thank you, dear friend, for once again touching my heart through your words and making me appreciate the gracious gift-givers in my life, including you, most of all. Blessings, love and grateful hugs! xoxo

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    1. Dear Joy,
      Oh what an encouragement you send to me here, tonight. You have picked up on the heaviness that still is carried within the changes that my days now hold. And that is such a gift from our Lord that you share so freely. It is a blessing to be understood and loved through the messy middle of the process, and I feel so very loved by you. I pray that God will touch your heavy days too, my dear heart-sister. May the heat-wave there lift soon, and may He bring such gifts of promise to you as well. Love and hugs across the pond! xoxo

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      1. Dear Bettie, I totally agree that it’s “a blessing to be understood and loved through the messy middle of the process” because it’s an apt description for where so many of us are situated. I might have had to wait for decades before I received such understanding and love in this turbulent chronic illness journey, but I’m so grateful God saw that inner yearning in me and answered it with the precious gift of your empathetic friendship. Our heavy days are considerably lightened by God’s goodness and grace, which is frequently expressed through others in the form of words of encouragement, understanding and prayer. Love and hugs across the pond to you, too, dear friend. May your days be graced with such gifts in abundance. xoxo 💜

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        1. Dear Joy,
          Oh yes, I echo your words so much: “Our heavy days are considerably lightened by God’s goodness and grace, which is frequently expressed through others in the form of words of encouragement, understanding and prayer.” Amen. Thank you dear heart-sister for all of your caring and understanding. xoxo

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  6. What a sweet, precious story! I am so thankful you found your ring and it brought back so many special memories. God always knows what will comfort us most. Sending much love to you, sweet friend.

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    1. Dear Cheryl,
      Yes, you are so right that, “God always knows what will comfort us most.” He is so faithful to His promises over us. Sending much love and prayers for you also, dear friend!

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  7. Bettie, this is a beautiful article of God’s faithfulness and constant presence. My youngest daughter, now a wife and mother was diagnosed with RA when she was 10 years old. Some very long roads traveled, but much like you reminders that God never forgets us, and comforts us in unique ways. I love the way you remind us that we do not travel these hard roads alone. Not only is God with us, but other precious pilgrims.

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    1. Dear Donna,
      Oh, how grateful I am to hear your words of encouragement from someone who has walked these roads also. I especially like that word, “pilgrim” as there is a beautiful Christian song with that title, by John Mark MacMillan that always touches me so deeply. We are pilgrims here, walking together on our way to HIM. Your daughter will be in my prayers tonight. May the Lord continue to give her strength to walk the pathway He has set before her too. Blessings and love to you.

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  8. What a beautiful story! How God must have smiled as you chose that ring over thirty years ago, knowing how it would bring you even more delight in the future. I love the way YOU find joy in this story, even though you have every reason to complain due to RA. With others I pray your relief from pain continues to grow, Bettie!

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    1. Dear Nancy,
      Thank you so much for your prayers! Our Lord is so amazing, isn’t He? It astounds me how He sees such small details and weaves them together to lift our eyes to Him. It is only in that lifting that we can truly praise Him, even in the midst of our hard times. I am so thankful for His faithfulness to us! Blessings and Prayers for you too!

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