Yay!! Thank You, Jesus! 26 years of being smoke free!! My lungs, my heart, my blood pressure, my sinuses, my entire body is so thankful! It’s so hard, and yet so delightful to know it has been 26 years! It was so very hard then! But You could not pay me to take even one puff! I am eternally grateful for Your help.
I really don’t remember how young I was when I first smoked a cigarette. I just remember by 7 years old, it was a habit me and my siblings had sneaking cigarettes out of cartons or packages belonging to my grandmother and my dad. Sometimes we even stole them from the stores, along with candy. We were so horrible! And I do NOT say that fondly, as if to promote that as a sweet memory. You were so merciful to see us through such sinful times. You are so wise when You say,
“Even a child is known by his doings,
whether his work be pure,
and whether it be right.”
– Proverbs 20:11 KJV
I do remember by 12 that my neighbor (who was also my best friend) and I bought a pack of cigarettes each, along with some candy, and made sure to eat the candy and smoke every single cigarette we had before we got home within 30 minutes or so. We stayed up all night. The next afternoon when she was supposed to go with us out to eat, my parents let me know she could not go because she had been throwing up all day. Before we could leave, I too became sick. They were highly suspicious but never figured out why. But I knew. It actually made me quit. But then…
Later that year, we moved to Hickory and I went to a school for troubled kids. Twice a day there was a 15 minute smoke break for the WHOLE school! Teachers and students smoked and talked together. Eventually I felt like I was missing out on something. Just a few months later, we moved back and I was smoking so often that my parents officially allowed me to smoke. The only lecture I got was 2 questions from my grandmother.
1. You know that is what killed your Granddaddy? Lung cancer? That it made his lungs black?
2. You know you are going to have to buy your own cigarettes, don’t you?
By Christmas I was on my grandmother’s Christmas list to receive a carton.
I quit when I found out I was pregnant just as I turned 18, but I started having quite a problem with my blood pressure. This caused the clinic to send me to a high risk clinic and sent a nurse to my house. EVERY DAY I was accused of smoking and told to quit for my baby. No matter what I said, they would not believe me, but only stressed me more by talking about cigarettes every second they could. Eventually I caved. When the nurse came back, she started praising me for quitting. When I told her the opposite happened she asked how much I smoked before hand. I told her a pack to a pack and a half a day. She asked me how much I was smoking now. I answered just one or two a day for my nerves. She asked if I had quit cold turkey, and I said yes. She said that was probably why and apologized for stressing me out. She encouraged me to quit smoking before labor.
I quit smoking for maybe a week or two, but after having him, again my nerves were so stressed that my body struggled to have bowel or bladder movements. It didn’t help that my little brother teased me day and night about wanting one, and smoking right in front of me to tease me, but it was my sister who told me it was because I quit smoking. So I started back, and sure enough. My body relaxed and had mercy on me.
I would try on and off for years to quit but could not seem to do it. By the age of 22, I was on antibiotics every 2 weeks. I could not breathe through my sinuses, so I had to hotbox each cigarette to feel anything. Taste was long gone. But I couldn’t finish even half a cigarette because hot-boxing was giving me such a headache, and making my sinuses so much worse. My doctor kept trying to tell me I was allergic to smoke, but I would tell him I had been smoking since I was little. And I thought that for a person to be allergic meant immediately rushing to the hospital to save your life. I also already had a damaged heart valve by then, but kept smoking.
One night at the ER, they refused to treat me… saying… “It won’t do me any good to prescribe anything. Even if I had a magic pill to heal you, one puff could undo everything. You already know you shouldn’t smoke with the damaged heart valve. You already stay on antibiotics so much and have a genetic disadvantage to emphysema (my dad already had it), so it is clear you are starting to develop emphysema, and I can promise you that you will be dead before you’re 30, and that’s if you make it.”
I don’t know why that visit made such a difference, but I can tell you it did! It scared me so much to know they refused to treat me, knowing I was so sick, struggling to breathe, after all the lectures they would give me about my heart valve. By the grace of God, I quit COLD TURKEY!! Yes, I would have challenges with my brother, my best friend, my sister, and so many friends constantly and intentionally getting in my face trying to get me to smoke again. My best friend even openly declared all the time that I made her look bad. But God had put a good scare into me. The closest I came was after I had a SINGLE cough while sitting in a college class, and this nasty yellow GUNK went into my hand. GROSS! My doctor told me it was my lungs clearing out. I told him if it kept up, I would start back because I had NEVER done that! He said I was lucky because not everyone’s lungs tries to clean themselves out, especially so quickly. God used that to encourage me!
During that summer, I was also blessed with another great love of my life… swimming… unlimited, night and day access to a swimming pool and a hot tub. I couldn’t smoke and swim like other smokers around me. I would have SUCH headaches and chest pain, so it was no contest. I LOVED swimming! And still do! I miss it so! 😦 I was able to play softball with the guys, was very active in the Jaycees, walked or ran 5 miles a day before or after work, and went back to swim every chance I got in the day! I not only avoided the usual gaining of weight (which everyone swore I needed then), but I lost weight, gained some sun, and improved on some surgical scars from the sun lotion! I felt so awesome!
I know this is a very long post that I meant to be a quick… YAY! PTL! But you have to understand the difference that made in MY life. I was a 22 yr old single mom, and my son was just 3 years old. If I had made it to just 30 (just 8 more years) I still would have missed out on so much! My son’s beautiful smile, his junior high graduation, being his escort for Senior prom banquet, his high school graduation, protecting him during a time family and friends were trying to push known sex offenders into my son’s life (literally into our home and to allow him to be picked up from his school). I was a fierce momma bear during that no matter what family or friends were offended, and directly confronted the sources! Even becoming a part of a two man (me and my son) team to defend those already victimized!
I was blessed to see his college years, to meet his first girlfriend, to know his bride, to be a part of his beautiful wedding, meet his wonderful in-laws, and new loving church family, be there when he went through an unwanted divorce, was there for him when the doctors thought he had bone cancer in high school, and so much more. I was able to be there for my dad when he was sick and in the hospital, to later care for my mom in her last few years, even when house ridden, bedridden, and my stepdad had a stroke around the same time. I beat myself up quite a bit, greatly insulting God when I do, but God uses my son and wonderful souls along the way to remind me of what HE DOES in and through me. And He uses this blessed anniversary to remind me each year.
So I share this because I have SO many family and friends who are struggling with quitting. Some are trying for the umpteenth time. Their health is screaming at them now! I want to support and encourage them! My health has a lot of challenges, and I am only here by God’s say so, but He does still have me here. If I had not quit 26 years ago, I wouldn’t even be here to give myself such a hard time.
This also comes at a time that I am struggling with many things physically because of childhood or teenage behaviors. Whether they were taught to me, done to me, or I simply learned or was allowed to do them doesn’t matter. My body is the one screaming at me now for many of those things. I am trying hard to follow God in taking care of my body… the vessel He gave me. Many of you may be struggling with or simply having to live with the consequences of your past. God wants you to know that even if those things cannot be erased, He can give sweet grace, mercy, peace, and sometimes even healing. But we must first come to Him, allow Him to point those things out, ADMIT to them so that we can deal with them by first giving them to Him! He loves you! He cares what has happened to you, and what IS happening to you now. Confess to Him.. even if it’s just the emotions of how things make you feel… how you feel towards Him.. be as honest.. as raw… as open as possible! He knows any way! He just wants you to trust Him!
One day we will ALL have freedom from our scars, our addictions, our behaviors, our abusers, our damaged bodies, our impaired thinking, our failing health, our weakened and bitter spirits, and all things that make life a challenge where God did not want anything but good for us. He has good waiting for us. He has perfection waiting for us! We have new bodies waiting! New names! New spirits! New homes!
❤ A NEW… ME and YOU!! ❤
God has went to prepare a new place for me and you!
❤ He loves us!! ❤
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.” Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
– John 14:1-6 KJV