My "Thorn in the Flesh"

This week in Sunday School, my second graders participated in a rather unusual side-note discussion. They were concerned that their teacher (me) was no longer able to use her legs. NOTE: If you are looking for the spiritual gifts blog, don't give up. I am still working on it. Keep reading and you'll understand the delay.

The Backstory: God's Working a Miracle

In order to fully appreciate this discussion, I need to tell you about a special lesson all the children at our church had for Sunday school last week. There is a special lady in our church, about middle-age, who has taught kindergarten Sunday school for quite a few years. A few months ago, she woke with a pain in her neck. About 30 minutes later, she fell, unable to support herself on her legs. When she got to the hospital, she learned that a disk in her neck has slipped, severing the spinal chord. The doctors told her family she would never walk again. Long story short, God is working a miracle in this lady's life. We celebrated with her when she was able to barely move her toes on one foot. Now she is finally out of her neck brace and standing on her own. She walks with a walker in therapy, but has not yet braved it in the twisty maze we call our church. With the Lord's help and continued practice, she'll get there. Two weeks ago, her third grade Sunday school class moved to a room on the ground floor so she could go back to teaching the children she loves. Last week all of the children's Sunday school classes met together in a larger, ground floor room so she could share her story. She also reminded the children that people with disabilities may look different, but they are still people and should be treated as such. Then she gave the children some practical things they could do to help her. The kids all walked away with a new perspective on how to show God's love to people with disabilities.

"What about our Sunday school teacher?"

So that was last week's lesson. This week my sweet second graders come to class and saw me sitting in a chair, greeting them as they come in, and taking attendance. This is not unusual, but when I stay there as I begin to teach, the questions begin to come. I explained that I needed to stay in this chair today, so I asked the kids to come to me rather than working my way down the table, letting kids share what they heard in service, Big Church, that day (our weekly start to class). Some of the kids faces took on a very concerned expression. One or two kids asked, "Is there something wrong with your legs like ?" I smiled, assured them there was not, and said we'd talk about it during carpet time. When it was time to move to the carpet, I told the kids they could grab a chair and come join me in a circle in our carpet area. This was very unusual. Typically, we all sit on the carpet, myself included, while my co-teacher sits in a chair and shares the Bible lesson. He wasn't there Sunday, so my choice to stay in a chair was all that much more noticeable and the questions came again.

Explaining Migraines to Children

I reassured my class there was nothing wrong with my legs. What was wrong was my head. I suffer from migraines. Migraines are more than just a bad headache, although that is part of it. When someone has a bad migraine, light and sound hurt. It may sound soft to you, but to the person with a migraine, it is like a sudden fire siren blaring in your head. When your head hurts that badly, you have trouble putting words together and understanding what other people say. Migraines also have what I call "side-effects." (Doctors call it the "aura.") These side-effects can last longer than the headache itself. That is why I was able to teach on Sunday. My head didn't hurt. It was just some bad side-effects still hanging on. Side-effects are like when you have a cold. Your nose runs and you have a cough, but you also feel awful. That "feel awful" is what I'd call a "side-effect." It's not the biggest symptom, but it still affects how you feel. My main side effects affect my balance. It is hard for me to walk because I have trouble knowing what is up and down and what is crooked. People who watch closely will see my hands skimming walls when I walk with a migraine or am feeling the side-effects. "That's why you were a little wobbly when you came in at the beginning of class!" one of the kids who races me there said. "That's right." "You sat down to sing in choir and you had your hand on someone's shoulder as you left the choir loft this morning. Is that why?" another observant child commented. "Yes, that is why." A collective "Oh!" passed through the circle of second graders. I smiled and explained that I would be staying in that chair for the rest of the morning, but we would still have our Bible lesson and play a game. When the concerned Children's Director poked her head in, after a while, she decided we would be just fine. She was right. By the end of the morning, the kids didn't find anything strange about their teacher who did not get up from her chair. My substitute co-teacher did an awesome job "being my legs" and we had a great morning. After all the kids left, my family came to get me and walked me out to the car.

My "Thorn in the Flesh"

You know, it's one thing to have to explain to a group of elementary kids why you need to stay sitting all morning. It's another to continue dealing with migraines. I started getting migraines and their side-effects when I was 14. That's a long time to struggle with something so crippling. Many times I've felt like Paul.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (ESV)
I wish I could say I only pleaded with God three times to remove my migraines. That would be a gross understatement. I've been through what seems like every medical test under the sun and tried numerous remedies, medical, homeopathic, and lifestyle changes. I can honestly say my migraines are better than they were in high school, but they have not gone away. I have also found they keep me very reliant upon the power of the Holy Spirit. Migraines can be strong reminders that you cannot do everything or change the world. That is God's job. Your job is to simply follow the Lord and do what He asks you to do. The results are all in His hands.

A Change in This Blog

One of my biggest triggers is stress. Unfortunately, I like to stay busy. This is not a bad thing per se, but when I run myself ragged, I have a problem. Some of the stressors in my life I cannot control, but there are some I can. One of those unfortunately affects this blog. Parent Road Ministries is beginning to expand. We are beginning to schedule and hold more events at churches, organizations, libraries, homeschool co-ops, bookstores, and other locations both here in Oklahoma and in other states. Our prayer is to expand this aspect of our ministry around the world. This past week, as this migraine has waxed and wained, I have taken a prayerful, hard look at what all I do for Parent Road Ministries. It's taken a while, but I've finally come to accept the fact that I cannot continue trying to do all I've been doing. I need to focus on the most important things God has for me to do now and allow the Lord to provide additional people to do the work needed as we continue to grow and expand. This means we (Roger and I) will only be posting one blog per week. This will free me up to write more and better prepare for upcoming events. I am sorry to disappoint those who have enjoyed these posts. Know that they will not stop completely. You can also follow us on social media where I regularly post articles our readers may find interesting. Thank you again for all your prayers and support. We continue to pray God uses Parent Road Ministries and us to partner with busy families to equip 21st century children to live for Christ every day.

Related Links:

  • Learn more about Nancy here.
  • Here are some books and resources by Nancy which include family devotionals and small-group guides.
  • Click here to read some of Nancy's blogs.
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