I have been struggling for the past 5 or so days with some pretty severe pain in my neck and shoulders. Oh yeah, and my jaw that is still bothering me pretty good post wisdom teeth extraction. Dentist says we've probably irritated the nerve that runs from about the middle of my jaw joint down my gum line to the middle of my front teeth. It's pretty painful at times. This pain could have caused my other pain - who knows? All I know is I have a huge knot of a muscle spasm in my right shoulder and I can barely move my neck or hold my head up sometimes. The pain is immense.

I have been rubbing on this stuff that's akin to Ben-gay and smelling like an old woman for the past few days with not much relief. Last night I was to practice with some girls that I sing with from time to time, but had a migraine come on in the early afternoon (probably from the neck pain). So I missed practice. I was able to start functioning again around 8:30pm or so, but I still went to bed with a headache. Bummer.

But this has got me to thinking about some things.

1. My dear friend who is dying of cancer as I type this.
She is old enough to be my grandmother, but she is my friend. She has been battling cancer for 5 years and she has always made it look classy. She has continued to serve in quiet ways and minister throughout her battle these past years.

In fact the first time I met her she asked me to sing at her funeral. I had just sung "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" at church and she came right up to me and asked me if I would sing that at her funeral. Well, I had never met her at that time, but I did know her story and this caught me off guard a bit. Then she introduced herself. It's a very humbling thing for someone to ask you to sing at their funeral. I've been singing on stage in front of people since I was around 5 or 6 years old, so I have had this happen to me plenty of times. Still, each time is so humbling and I always struggle for the proper words to respond. I told her that I would be humbled and honored to sing anything she wants at her funeral.

She has asked me to do a couple of songs, and I pulled those out last night and began to practice them as the doctors have told her she may only have two weeks left on this earth. I was talking to another friend who had visited her just yesterday and my friend was amazed at how strong our friend with cancer seemed. I am sure that God is giving her a special measure of strength right now. Our God does that sort of thing.

So, please say a prayer for my friend. God knows her precious name. She is one of the strongest women I know.

2. I watched the first ER of the season last night. Wow. Ok, so I have been watching the show from the beginning. I have always had a passion for medicine and wanted to be an ER doctor for the longest time. Then I decided that I would be a nurse so that I could have more mommy time one day. And while God has led me away from that many times, it's been a great decision so far. Last night's show was powerful as they lost one of their own. They worked so save one of their own, but in the end they couldn't save him. Of course, I bawled like a baby. The hubbs asked me if I was going to be ok. I told him "yes, it's only a show", but these things happen in real life. I have watched a colleague being buried way before her time due to a tragic accident. I was not in the ER when they brought her in (thank God) and did not work on her, but I have felt that pain of losing a colleague. There is a bond with nurses and doctors and paramedics that is pretty similar to what police offers and fire fighters feel. When one of your own goes, a piece of you does too.

So this caused me to think about the pain Christ must have endured on the cross for us. Probably such an immense pain that not much is similar to it. He prayed to have the cup removed because He knew it wouldn't be pleasant, but above all, he was obedient to God and God's plan was for him to endure the cross....for me and for you. So as I think of this, I can't help but wonder how many blows with the hammer to drive the nails in his hands and feet are mine? I am just a sinner and I have made so many mistakes in my life. Yet, because Christ loved me (and you) He endured the pain of something so horrible to give me (and you) a chance at real life. To give me a second chance. To give me a do-over when I mess it up so bad.

So as I endure my pain these days, I am humbled at the pain my Jesus endured on the cross for me and for you. I am so sorry for the blows of the hammer that were mine, and I am so humbled and speechless and in awe at the love that poured out and the chances that have been given to me because of that blood.

Lord, may your love and grace and mercy pour out today over me, my family, and everyone reading this today just like your blood poured over the cross. The blood that bought our freedom from sin and bondage. May every breath I have in me from now until my final one be about praising you!

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