Friday, February 28, 2014

By Paul - a big change

NOTE: We did not published this previously. Paul was between a rock and a hard place when he left UPS. I was very sick with my hypothyroidism and fibromyalgia. Paul might not like his current job as much as he enjoyed UPS, but he usually only works 8 hours a day! We never saw him this much when he delivered packages!

Written by Paul (February 2014)-

This week I had to make a major life changing decision. I resigned my position at UPS. Many will think we have lost our minds and all common sense. After all, I invested nearly five years into this career, and UPS drivers make such good money and have excellent benefits. Honestly, I really had no intention of leaving this career for some time, though I was becoming more disenfranchised with the career. Yet, I had no other option, the Lord spoke clearly and abruptly through the circumstances our family is facing. While it may seem that facing a future without a job right now is scary, and it is, the other option of continuing with UPS is far worse. As scary as it may seem to be unemployed at this time, I have great peace about the decision and know that this is God's doing. We are trusting the Lord to direct our next step.  Providentially, we just happen to have all our bills paid in full through the end of March. We also have some other resources that will be available by April to cover most of that month's expenses. We did not plan it this way, it just worked this way. Please pray for the Woods family.

Sincerely, Paul

Monday, February 3, 2014

Health Update - Good news!

I went back to the doctor last Friday to recheck all of the health issues that I was dealing with in the past 4-6 months. To summarize - at that time I was off-the-charts hypothyroid and there appeared to be something wrong with my brain's pituitary gland. We ruled out a tumor, but could not find the cause.

Back in November, I restarted taking Synthroid for my thyroid and my doctors advised a complete gluten elimination to help my brain. (I was not being very disciplined about gluten free diet until this past month.)

Well - I just got the results from Friday's blood work...
My thyroid is at the low end of NORMAL! 
And, my prolactin score is NORMAL! 

I am still very tired. I know I have issues to be worked through, and I am slugging away one day at a time. BUT, I see huge improvements!

- I felt good enough to be creative and finish my book (and start another book project) this past month
- My body temperature is up ONE WHOLE DEGREE!



Let's thank God for this progress and ask His mercy to continue to rain restoration and healing upon my body.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

God in the Dessert - A look back at 2013



We all daydream of mountain top experiences in our lives. Few of us like the moments in the valley or the dessert. But, I have been meditating on life in the wilderness for quite a while now.

For our family, 2013 was a year spent wandering in the wilderness. God ALWAYS provided for the things that we truly needed. Sometimes we had to wait until the eleventh hour. Sometimes God would not give us what we wanted, because He knew that we did not NEED it. But, God never left us.

When the Israelites were wandering in the dessert God provided their daily bread one day at a time. I have come to believe that this may be the single greatest sign that a person is truly in a spiritual dessert… because they literally have to pray “give us this day our daily bread.” (Daily bread could be literal food, physical strength, emotional stability, etc.) We humans don’t do well with one-day-at-a-time philosophies. I want to know that my financial future is secure. We want retirement plans, life insurance, secure jobs, etc. And, there is nothing wrong with good planning! God gave us our brains to plan for our future.

But, some times we experience situations completely outside of our control. In our case it was Paul’s herniated discs from January to March. Then, a few months of work. Then, another type of hernia from May to July. Back to work for a few weeks in August. Then, WHAM!, someone ran into Paul’s UPS truck and Paul was fired for being in a wreck that wasn’t his fault. Back to work in October and running strong till the end of the year resulted in a total of 32 weeks working and 20 weeks without work and without pay.

Talk about a dessert.

I hated it. I kicked against it. I refused to learn from it. I continually prayed against it. I wanted it over. I don’t ever want to go back.

But, yet…

In the dessert is where our faith is truly tested and refined. God loves our family so much that He wants us to be closer to Him. And, as I read the Old Testament (in particular) I see God saying to the Israelites that they will draw near to Him in the wilderness. They will cling to Him in the dessert. They will run to Him when under attack from the enemy. But, when they have plenty of food and money… then, they seem to allow distance to come between them and their Creator. (See Deut. 6)

We all do it.

I was crying the other day. Paul was with me while I was emoting… and he had some wise responses. He said, “What’s so great about the mountain? We learn in the dessert. We don’t learn on the mountain. On the mountain we say ‘Lord, should I build you three tents?’” (See Luke 9, especially verse 33) I see his point. Paul is right.

God loves to give us blessings. But, His blessings are not always in the form of more money and better health. There are times that He sees that we will grow from a period of sifting. Satan asks the Lord for permission to sift His people. He asked for permission to bring trouble to Job. These troubles are allowed by the Lord because blessings come in many forms.

Our family prays nightly that we will be the family God has meant us to be. It is quite possible that we need to go through some rough times to refine us and purify us. I cry out daily, “I want what You want for me life.” If you are going to pray that prayer…well, you need to be prepared for God to answer. And, it may not look like what you expect. Maybe God does want to give you riches and health. But, maybe He wants you to taste a bit of pain to be better acquainted with the sufferings of Jesus Christ. (see Phil 3:7-10)

Some of my dearest friends would view this line of thinking as heresy. But, Jesus tells us that in this world we will have troubles. He does not promise that we will be free from trouble! (see John 16:25-33) He promises that He will be with us when the trouble comes.

So, I write this on the edge of the dessert gazing towards the fertile crescent. It’s so close that I can smell the water and green grass. I acknowledge that I would rather be in the refreshing green pastures than in this arid climate, but I want to recollect (in case I lose sight of the Lord when we enter a time of abundance and plenty) that the time in the dessert was/is well-spent.

I don’t ask the Lord to take me back to the wilderness. But, if He sees that it is necessary for our family to spend more time there – I will try to praise Him in the midst of that situation, because God is still God. He is the One who gives us the daily manna in the dessert. He will never leave us or forsake us. And, I trust that the Lord will do what is necessary to fulfill His purposes for my life. (Psalm 57:2)

NOTE: I wrote this thinking that our time in the dessert was nearing an end. Paul was working full time at UPS (finally) and all would be well. So I thought. But, my fibromyalgia reached an all time low. In Feb-April of 2014, I could not take care of my own basic needs. Paul left his job at UPS to care for me and teach the children. At the time, it seemed like the only solution. The months that followed were far worse than the agonies we had experienced in 2013. So, perhaps, we needed more time in the wilderness to draw near to God. By American standards, we have not yet had a time of "abundance and plenty," but our table has food on it and we have vehicles that work. I am grateful!