Sunshine in the Valley

humor and encouragement from my heart to yours

Surprised by Love Part 2

(continued)

As Josh and I shared in-depth conversations, I was surprised to find that he was a lot further along in the grieving process than I had initially realized. This was NOT because he did not love Amy as much as I thought, or because he wasn’t still sad or didn’t miss her. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was a man who wholly loved and longed for his wife, yet recognized the fact that she was gone….and by the grace of God, had come to accept it. I was amazed by the way he managed to handle grief in such a healthy and godly way. Since he had been losing her little by little for nearly a year, he had already worked through most of the stages of grief. This was a very different scenario than if she had just suddenly been taken from him! They both had seen this coming, and she had told him specifically that she wanted him to move on, as soon as possible. She knew how much he had loved being married, and very unselfishly longed for him to find happiness again when she was gone. Initially, he had been resistant to even the idea of such a thing. He could not see himself as anyone but Amy’s husband, yet he was lonely and knew that his own life was not over yet. As he shared these things in his emails, he had many questions for me, wanting a female point of view into the situation. Would any woman be willing to walk into something like that, and could he possibly love her as he did Amy? These were honest questions without ulterior motive, and I took them seriously, mulling them over a lot in my mind.

In the providence of God, I was friends with a precious coworker who had lost her husband several years ago to cancer at an early age like Josh. She had given me many insights into what life was like for someone in that situation and how she had needed others to respond. I had no idea then that God was going to use her to help me in my future friendship with Josh…..but boy did He ever! I could not possibly have understood and known what to say had it not been for her. God works in the most unexpected ways sometimes! So as Josh and I talked through what it would look like both to love and remember Amy always and yet eventually love another woman as well, it did not seem so impossible, if he found the right person. When Josh asked those questions, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be put in that scenario and answered them accordingly…..and he liked my answers a lot. :) However, I certainly did not expect that woman to be ME! Goodness, no. Not because I didn’t like Josh (I certainly did, as a friend!), but because why in the world would a man who had just lost his wife to a serious disease turn around and get together with a woman who was sick with a chronic illness????? I had already locked away the hope and dream of being a wife and mommy at that point in my life due to that illness. Even the passing thought seemed ludicrous. It made no sense, humanly speaking. None. And certainly not so soon after Amy’s passing! Nope, I could only ever be his friend. My point in all of our discussion was to encourage him that it *was* possible, that God could very well provide a way for Amy’s wish to be fulfilled for him…and that if *I* could see it was feasible, there certainly would be other women who would think the same. ;)

I did recognize, however, that whoever that woman was to be, would be very blessed indeed! Josh was the most extraordinary man I had ever known, and I prayed for the very BEST for him and Benaiah. I was quite positive that God had something very special in store for them both….but I never dreamed I would be anything more than a spectator.

Yet as the weeks went by and we continued to write and grow closer, we both were surprised to find how much our hearts were becoming knitted together. As we travelled our individual valleys together, we were so very often of the same mind and same heart, and what started out as friendship began looking like….something else! Slowly and surely, the Lord was healing Josh’s heart…and to our surprise, He seemed to be leading us together! It all came about so very naturally, that we hardly realized what was happening until one day, it was there. As we emailed back and forth, we tried to tiptoe around” the elephant in the room”, subtly referring to our friendship as one with “a cherry on top” (a little more than friends yet how *much*, we did not know? lol) but not really sure where it was going to lead. Neither of us knew what to do with this. Could this really be? Was it ok that we were beginning to fall in love with each other? Was this really the will of God for our friendship? We didn’t want to do the wrong thing!!!

As we sought the Lord about it, however, He began making it abundantly clear that this was *not* the wrong thing…..it was part of a beautifully unexpected plan He had for both our lives. Rather than putting the brakes on things as we had anticipated He would do, both of us most definitely felt that we were supposed to move forward, and it remains one of the biggest surprises of my life. :) It blows my mind to look back and trace His hand at work in the midst of it all! He was using our relationship to bring tremendous healing to both of us and give us so much joy! I read a beautiful testimony on an online forum that resonated with both of us, especially this part: “I know some people will say that relationships will not fix your problems. And that is true in many cases. But in some cases, that is the very thing God will use to heal you and show you that He loves you. I truly believe in some cases, He sends another human and works through them to heal and comfort you.” We both recognized that this was exactly what God seemed to be doing, and we marveled at His work!

 Still, though, there was the issue of timing. As we earnestly prayed about certain situations that we thought would hinder – or at the very least, delay – any romance between us from moving forward, the walls kept “falling down” so to speak, and the path was opened up for us to move forward. It’s a wonder I don’t have a cracked jaw, as many times as it hit the floor during those days! ;) Seriously….the answers to prayer were remarkable and unmistakable. I think the Lord knew He was going to have to be extremely obvious in this case. It was just too sensitive a situation otherwise!
I could type all day sharing the ways God confirmed His direction in this, but I’ll limit it to two. ;) One of the most surprising confirmations came from a girl I knew from the clinic. She happened to be a close friend of Josh and Amy’s, and had been the one to tell us about Josh’s blog. Well, Josh had teased her that he had something to tell her about a good thing she’d had a hand in…which was, of course, us :), but we had said nothing to anyone but our closest family members yet. Josh fully expected to surprise her, but she beat him to the punch when she stopped by for a visit one day and casually asked Josh if he was ready to date yet. Totally caught off guard, Josh asked if she had heard anything. “No,” she replied, “I was just wondering.” Josh answered that as a matter of fact, there *was* someone he was interested in, but before he could tell her who, she exclaimed, “Is it Lydia????”
*insert jaw drop*
Entirely astonished, he gasped, “Yes!!! But…..how in the world did you know???” She burst into tears, and explained that ever since Amy had died, she had felt that Josh and I were meant to be together and had been planning to introduce us all along! She was only waiting for him to be ready! Definitely an astounding moment. :) She was overjoyed that we had found each other on our own and was very encouraging about the whole thing. It was a profound moment for both of us, when Josh told me about it, and we both felt that this was another way the Lord was indicating to us that He was in this, as crazy as it might seem. We weren’t the only ones who thought we made a good match! :D

Another major answer to prayer was my health situation. I had been doing everything humanly possible to recover from Lyme disease, and certain symptoms were disappearing, but my seizures were spiraling out of control. The neurological symptoms were unreal. I remember the morning I sat at my computer, begging the Lord to guide my mouse and show me what we were missing!! Something else had to be wrong with me, not just Lyme.

As it turned out, I landed on a site explaining the co-infections of Lyme. Aha!! We had been so busy trying to get my seizures under control that we had totally forgotten to go back and figure out what mine were. Lyme never travels alone, you see….it always has a buddy. :( As I eagerly read the descriptions of each co-infection, I froze when I reached the section about Bartonella. That was….me!! To a “T”! It specifically attacks the central nervous system, which was exactly where all my problems lay. I excitedly called my doctor, and he was cautiously optimistic. Chronic bartonella is a clinical diagnosis; it doesn’t show up in bloodwork. But the treatment is merely another antibiotic, so we knew it wasn’t going to hurt me at all to just try. I had nothing to lose!

By day 3, the seizures abruptly ceased. Completely. I was in shock, but very encouraged. By day 6, however, I had the most extreme headache of my life. The pressure and pain reached levels I did not know were possible. I will save you all the gory details, but suffice it to say, I was one sick person. I was having a major herx reaction to the medication, which, praise the Lord, meant that Bartonella was indeed my nemesis. Thankfully a Toradol shot relieved the pain, and to my amazement, my brain felt clear and clean….no more fog or pain or confusion. I did absolutely wonderfully for weeks! It was a turning point in my illness, and eventually I was even able to drive again. Oh happy day!! Josh and I had been talking for a little while about meeting in person, but there had been no way before….I was much too sick. But now….now it was actually possible! The Lord had answered yet another prayer. :)

We took two weeks of intense prayer, however, before deciding to actually meet. We wanted to be sure, both for our sakes and for our families, who did not want to see either of us hurt. They knew how vulnerable we both were at this point in our lives! During that time, we did not communicate at all, because we wanted to be sure we were hearing from the Lord without that distraction. I must say, it was the hardest two weeks of my life, in some ways! It made me realize how much a part of my life Josh had become, and how much I cared for him, and wanted to be with him. It was the same for Josh, very surprising to both of us, but also very reassuring. It gave us definite clarity, but boy was it a miserable way to go about it! (lol)

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My one and only “cheat” during those 2 weeks….I sent a “silent” picture celebrating that there were only 3 more days of no communication left! :)

Three months (to the day! and quite by accident) after we began corresponding, Josh and I met for the first time at Olive Garden. I was a nervous wreck, but so very excited to meet this amazing man at last! Of course, like anybody would, I had a thousand questions running through my head…. would he like me as much “in person”? Would we be able to talk? Would we have the same chemistry in person as we did over the phone and email? Underlying everything else was the question of whether this could possibly be the man God had for me, as crazy as the timing seemed to be. I felt a tremendous sense of peace deep inside about the whole thing, yet I needed those questions answered!

As it turns out, we had an absolutely wonderful evening. :) He met me at the entrance of the restaurant with a beautiful red rose in hand, and I was very charmed by such a sweet and special gesture (as were all the women in the vicinity, haha. The servers at Olive Garden still talk about “the man with the rose” and recognize him every time we go back!). We hit it off so well that soon we were talking as much in person as we did on the phone. There had been nothing to worry about! It was so surreal to actually get to *see* him while we were talking….I kept having this urge to pinch myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming! At the end of the evening, Josh invited me to go on our first official date a few days later. He chose such a beautiful way of doing so that I felt rather breathless. I did, however, manage to form an answer! :) Can you guess what it was?? A wholehearted YES! :D

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Josh’s very elaborate and romantic way of inviting me to go on our first real “date”. :)

After our first date, Josh presented me with a lovely delicate glass rose. He told me that the first rose he gave me would perish, just as there would never be another first meeting between us. He asked if I would accept a rose that would be lasting, thus symbolizing the possibility of “forever” that he wished to explore with me. Let me tell you, that man knows how to sweep a girl off her feet! :) I was very honored to accept such a beautiful gift – and all that it represented – and thus began a whirlwind courtship!! Josh is a real romantic, as evidenced by the above picture :), and I was very much in awe that such a man was falling in love with ME…I still am, actually. He is the most thoughtful, loving, manly, strong, big-hearted man I have ever met in my life, and the more I got to know him, the more I saw this. It was wonderful to recognize that he was exactly who I had thought he was, and so much more. We fit together so beautifully! He honestly was better than my fondest hopes and dreams of what my future husband might someday be. I could hardly believe that this was really happening….that such a man even existed, much less would love me. And while I was sick and at a place where I had given up on any hope of such a thing for the foreseeable future! It was so overwhelming, and I could clearly see the grace of God in this beautiful time of life.

Josh’s darling little son, Benaiah, very quickly captured my heart, too. I was positive that he was the cutest little boy in the world. ;) He was such a sweetheart, with a bright and engaging personality. I loved his affectionate little heart, and the way he accepted me so quickly into his little world! I have always longed to be a mommy, as long as I can remember, but due to my health issues and a few other concerns, I had always wondered if I would ever have that privilege. As I spent more and more time with my guys, though, I could see the beauty of God’s plan. Here was a little boy who needed a mommy. I was a woman who longed for a child but was not sure if it would be possible. Could this be another reason the Lord had connected me with Josh? Did He want me to become a wife and mommy all at once, fulfilling two dreams at the same time??

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Benaiah and I loved reading books together! We still do. :)

It didn’t take long before I knew the answer. :) Josh and I were absolutely certain that we wanted to marry, confident that this whole scenario had been orchestrated by our all-wise Heavenly Father whose wisdom trumps human understanding every time. And as I had so often been told through the years, when you know, you know! (so yes, I got to eat all my “yeah right, whatever” responses I had always given, lol) Again, however, timing was a big deal to us. Out of honor and respect for Amy, we decided to wait until the new year to become engaged, so as not to be in the same calendar year as the day that she passed away. However, we knew that Benaiah needed looking after more and more; his grandmas had been taking wonderful care of him while Josh was at work, but it was a big job and we knew they needed relief soon. Unfortunately my health took a few hits as well, and even though I had resumed working at the clinic, I began missing more and more days. :( As Josh and I prayed about it, we knew what we needed to do. I quit my job (very bittersweet for me! I love my clinic family, but it was best for them and me) to take care of Benaiah during the day and help around the house, going home each night of course. That also gave me further opportunity to bond with Benaiah and allowed us to get used to each other before I took on the official role as his new mommy. It worked out well, and was very satisfying to be able to take care of my guys without distraction!

For my birthday, Josh gave me a beautiful promise ring. It was a total surprise, and remains one of the most special gifts I have ever received. He wanted me to have a tangible reassurance of his love and commitment to me, since engagement would still be a few months away, and it really meant the world to me.

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As the year drew to a close, we began to talk more and more about starting our new life together and quietly planning our wedding. We both had the most perfect peace in our hearts that this was what the Lord had for us, and we rejoiced in His work in our lives! I wasn’t sure when exactly Josh would be proposing, only that it would after 2012 had ended, and that was good enough for me. :) Little did I dream that he would be proposing sooner than I expected, and in a most special fashion….. ;)

(to be continued)

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Surprised by Love Part 1

Ever had life seemingly change in the blink of an eye? You get used to it being just the way it’s always been….and then suddenly everything is different. That happened to me. And my poor little blog was sadly left in the dust!

But here I am again, picking back up where I so suddenly left off, and trying to figure out how to condense the events of the past year into a readable post! I think I have an idea though….everyone loves a good love story, right? :)

Well…this is mine. My very own, real-life, fairytale romance. I get starry-eyed just thinking about it!

But that is not how it began. No, no…..long before “happily ever after”, there was a dark, dark road…..darker than any previously known before to myself or My Love. It was a road that looked endless, with no light in sight, leading into the valley of loss and grief and suffering. Thankfully my story does not end there…..because God had a different plan! But I’m getting ahead of myself…..

My story begins, really, where my blog abruptly ended. Lyme disease began to get the better of me, big time, and I was sick. Very sick. I missed a lot of work, and then had to go on short-term disability and spent the majority of my time in bed, cared for by my sweet little sister day and night. I had a lot of time to pray and think, and a certain situation grabbed much of my thoughts and prayers throughout this time. A sweet patient of ours had been diagnosed with leukemia just one year after her precious little son was born, and it was bad. Really bad. So many people were heartbroken for this dear family, especially as time passed and she grew more and more desperately sick. I remembered her from the clinic, and what a sweet person she always was. I begged God to heal Amy, and to help her family, and I kept up-to-date on her condition by reading her husband’s blog (which a good friend of theirs had told me about). Josh’s deep love for his wife flowed through every word. I was amazed by the beautiful bond they obviously shared, and marveled at his strong faith in the midst of this unimaginable trial. He was likely losing the person who was dearest in the world to him, yet his faith in God never wavered. He clung to His promises, and faithfully gave updates on her condition every day. HE was the one needing encouragement, yet I came away from every post receiving spiritual encouragement myself….yet with a keen sense of sorrow for all they were enduring, especially Amy. I felt for them all the more deeply because of my own health crisis. My suffering was nothing compared to hers in many ways, yet I knew what it was to be terribly sick with no end in sight, and it drove me to pray fervently for them. I found myself particularly moved by a certain post, and started to leave a comment, but hesitated. I almost felt like I was intruding on a very personal time in their lives by saying *anything*, as a stranger….but then again, as a blogger, I knew how encouraging it was to receive comments, especially to know that others were praying. I left the comment and continued to pray.

Then the day came when Josh posted that God had taken Amy home. Her suffering was over, and she was with the Savior she loved. The news was heartbreaking. It was so hard to understand why God did not heal her. Countless thousands of prayers had gone up for her healing, and we knew God was able….so why didn’t He? It’s an age-old question, and the only way I knew to deal with it was simply to acknowledge that He is sovereign, and in that sovereignty chose that she should live with Him. She was certainly in a better place, but my heart ached for her husband and son, and parents and in-laws she left behind. Josh’s faith in the midst of it all, again, was an inspiration to me as I faced my own battles, and I continued to read his blog. His heart was laid bare during that time, for all the world to see, and I knew that the Lord was receiving much glory from the testimony he maintained in the midst of the darkness of grief and loss. I didn’t know him from Adam, and never expected to, but the Lord used his words to help me. I left a couple more comments on his blog, but certainly never expected to hear back from him. I leave comments all the time on blogs, and rarely does the author contact me! But I was in for a surprise….. :)

What I did not realize was that since we both have Word Press blogs, my comment linked back to my own blog. As Josh went through and began replying to comments a few weeks after Amy’s death (he’s one of the few bloggers I know who does that, ha), he found my blog and began reading it.  Recognizing a fellow believer going through a fiery trial, he reached out to me in a short email, thanking me for my prayers for his family and asking if there was any way he could pray for me as well since he saw that I was sick. He felt the same empathy I had, upon hearing of Amy’s trial. I was very touched, and wrote back, sharing with him my latest prayer needs and asking if there was any further way I could pray for him too. I was astonished that he would even think of taking on someone else’s burdens while dealing with such a heavy one of his own! But that’s Josh. He always thinks of others!

Thus began a friendship. :) I was surprised by how quickly he opened up to me, and how easy it was to talk to him in return. When you hit rock bottom as we had, you’re just very real. You cut through the silly stuff that so often comprises ordinary conversation, and get straight to the heart of the matter. We both found that it almost seemed easier to talk to an “outsider” about these things than to those closer to us who would be more affected by our pain. We were just very open with each other, and I think that is why we “clicked” so quickly. We were two believers, enduring the darkest times of our lives, and God used that open, often raw correspondence to help us both in ways we could never have imagined. Josh was mourning the loss of his love, and balking at any sense of returning normalcy. I, on the other hand, was mourning the loss of my health, and longing for that sense of normalcy to be restored. Both the similarity and difference of our situations made us remarkably suited to encourage and uplift each other, and we quickly became very good friends. We wrote to each other every day, and his emails began to be the highlight of my day. I was stuck at home thanks to increasing seizures and weakness, and it was so refreshing to be able to talk to someone who understood so well!

We began discovering that we had an extraordinary amount of other things in common, as well. We shared a love of music…the same beliefs about God and viewpoints of suffering….liked the same movies/books….both loved to hike but disliked sports….and that barely scratches the surface. It was rather…..eery. :) When we began talking on the phone, we would sometimes talk for hours, yet it felt like only minutes! I began to realize that Joshua Grenier was a kindred spirit….and it totally confused me because I thought only girls could be kindred spirits, lol. But no, he definitely was, and in time became my best friend! We talked about serious things, silly things, and everything in between. Neither of us expected anything to “happen” romantically because the timing was totally wrong. I was very sick and he was very much in sorrow. No way! We were only just friends, and would stay that way.

Or so we thought….

(to be continued…)

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Darkness is only temporary…..

Sometimes life can get overwhelming to every one of us. No matter how much we know that the Lord is in control and that His love and faithfulness never end, we just have those days when it seems like darkness closes in and suffocates us with its oppressive fear and uncertainty….we cannot see the path ahead, and glimpses of light seem few and far between. Have you ever been there? I think most of us, if we were honest, would have to say “yes”.

I have not posted here in a while, and must admit that one reason is simply that I have been dealing with the severest stage of my illness to this point. Many days have left me completely wiped out, with a variety of problems and weakness like none I have ever experienced before in my life. I have missed more days of work than I could possibly count. Although I had long been warned that treatment of Lyme disease worsens the symptoms for a time before things improve, experiencing it is a whole ‘nother matter. ;) For a time, I thrived on the antibiotics (and actually kissed the infusion bag a few tim—wait, did I just admit that?? hehe) but since then have seemed to be on that downhill course in some respects, briefly “bouncing-back” for short times at least, before plunging again. My doctors have assured me again and again that I have a remarkable resiliency which should get me through this rough patch and ensure that I will regain a normal life once we get the disease under control. But on some days, it seems like that will never happen….that this….will never end..

The past two days felt this way. I was so helpless, my mind so literally clouded by the many seizures, my body rendered so incapacitated by all the old symptoms with new ones in addition, that I could not seem to find my way out. I was not in despair, thankfully no, but the darkness was so thick that I honestly felt that I was groping around desperately without any idea of how to get out….trying so hard to find the grace and peace that the Lord has faithfully provided every step of this journey…..which seemed so elusive to me now. My heart cried out….“Lord, where are you? what is happening to me? how do I get through this?”

As is often the case, there was no immediate answer. Only silence. I struggled to grasp what was happening, and how to figure this out…..but ultimately found myself only able to muster the strength to ask a few friends for prayer, one of whom reminded me that more than anything I needed to eat and sleep as much as possible in hopes of restoring what little strength remained. As it turns out, this was exactly what I needed.

Not too very long ago, my wonderful pastor preached a sermon about hard times, using the example of Elijah. After the wonderful “mountain top experience” on Mt Carmel, a very deep valley followed when Elijah fled Jezebel in fear of his life. (1 Kings 19.) The prophet was depressed and discouraged to the point that he asked the Lord to take his life. He was utterly exhausted from running for so many miles, and felt that he really had reached the end. The Lord’s response is a wonderful one to me. :) He did not reproach Elijah for saying such a thing, or for running away from a woman, or for being discouraged and “at the end of his rope”. Nope. Instead, He sent a ministering angel, who brought him the sustenance he so desperately needed, and provided rest and sleep for the weary prophet. The compassionate angel told him the plain truth: “the journey is too great for thee”. What he needed more than anything at that moment was simple food and sleep.

Sometimes this is exactly what we need too. Those times when “the journey is too great for thee”,  the grace of God may seem to come in the most lowly of forms….but is precisely what we need for the moment. While we are looking for clarity from the Lord and more “spiritual” answers (which yes, are often what we need…don’t get me wrong….but only when He knows we are ready), He is wise enough to know that sometimes this is not our most pressing need. When our bodies and minds are weak, we need the rest and sustenance required to be able to receive that clarity, those answers seeming so out of reach.

This was true for me. Symptoms began easing yesterday evening, and a talk with a dear friend further helped me regain the peace that I so needed. (here again displays the wisdom of the Lord….He knows there are times when we need to talk to “someone with skin on”, and this was one of those times) When I awoke this morning, to my delighted surprise, I found that the “peace which passes understanding” was ruling my heart again.  Not that my physical problems were all gone, but I was now in a place to receive the spiritual encouragement I needed. As I have continued to improve throughout the day, the Lord has graciously renewed my vision for the weeks and months ahead, and given me fresh perspective and reassurance that He has a purpose in all this. I may not see it all, but He knows, and will not allow this illness to remain even one day longer than He has ordained. His grace is still sufficient, yes for me…..yes, for you.

I do not know what trials you dear ones may be facing today, but please be encouraged that the Lord has never left your side, no matter how dark your days may seem. If you are tired and weary, sometimes rest is exactly what you need in order to come to the place where you can clearly hear the Lord’s voice again. Let me encourage you, in our fast-paced society, to take time to rest and restore both your body and soul. May you, too, be reminded that darkness is only present for a season, before it passes…..but God’s grace, light, and peace always remain, even when not immediately felt. Be of good cheer! :)

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Bearing burdens

When you hear the phrase “bearing one another’s burdens”, what image comes to mind?

I often tease Susanna about being “my little pack mule” because she frequently carries my bags when we go places if I’m too weak to do so myself that day. Unlike a donkey, however, she doesn’t require a bit or a bridle to do this…nor even a carrot dangling on the end of a stick! :) No, she has a very cheerful servant’s heart, and always acts as though it is a pleasure to carry whatever load I might have for her….and if I dare apologize for weighing her down, I get “the look”. :)  I never feel like I am inconveniencing or truly “burdening” her, though, because she makes it clear that it is her love for me which motivates her happy service.

I’ve thought often lately of the verse that says “bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2) The law of Christ….yes indeed. He set the ultimate example of bearing burdens, and selfless love. I have been utterly astonished by the compassion and grace He has shown me on even my worst days…and the closeness that has developed as a result. That He would be so kind is not what surprises me (it is His very nature, after all), but the fact that He would do that for me. Knowing me utterly, all my failures and sin, yet He loves me still and is beside me on the darkest of nights, just as He is for all of His children. The knowledge and comfort of His presence has been an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. It has strengthened my walk with Him in priceless, unmeasurable ways, undoubtedly worth the cost.

And He desires the same in our relationships with others….He wants us to demonstrate His selfless love. So many people around us are hurting. As I travel through chronic illness, one of the most surprising aspects of this journey has been “the fellowship of suffering” discovered along the way. Going through long periods of trials of all different sorts lends a kinship with fellow folks who are hurting that is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. You feel for each other, and understand each other, in a way that I never knew was possible prior to my illness. We are bearing each other’s burdens. I feel as though my existing friendships are even more precious to me, and the new friends I am making along the way are impacting my life in unexpected ways. There is a clarity, an understanding of certain dimensions of life, which I never grasped previously. And I’m finding it to be a very, very good thing…..even in the midst of very, very bad things.

Learning to recognize the pain of another person is the first step towards bearing their burden. Hugs, encouraging words, prayers, cards, even just the squeeze of a hand….these tangible tokens of comfort can lift even the most burdened hearts. Taking note of and meeting specific needs, especially, can make a profound difference in the lives of those “in the valley”. (this has happened to me on numerous occasions….from loved ones as well as anonymous folks who dropped something in the mail for me to remind me that the Lord will always provide. What faith-building experiences these have been!) Just “being there” is sometimes the greatest gift you can give, and again, I have been blessed by so many who have been there for me through thick and thin. We live in such a fast-paced society that these things are easy to overlook, but taking the time to show kindness to someone hurting can have profound eternal significance.

And you know, I am finding that bearing the burdens of others actually relieves my own, to a great degree. Being aware of precious people going through deeper and far more painful circumstances than my own brings such a balance to my habits of thinking. It’s easy to start having a pity party at times, especially on rougher days when I can’t speak or walk, but then I talk to someone who lost the person dearest in the world to them….or hear of someone bedridden for months….or facing terminal illness…..and the Lord gently reminds me of my blessings and how much I should thank Him for on even what seem to be the very worst of days (they can always get worse!). And He also reminds me of the importance of praying for and encouraging those people, instead of thinking sympathetically of their plight and then going my merry way. (how often I’ve done this! But sympathy does little good if there are no hands and feet behind it!)

I am sitting here at my computer unable to speak at present, but how liberating to be able to type out my thoughts! I’m so grateful for computers! My handwriting is often affected by my neurological issues, but I can still type and text, and it makes it easier to know that I am not truly silenced. :) (it takes more than muteness to quench my abundance of words, ha)

Sometimes I feel so worthless to the kingdom of God, limited as I am. I can’t teach a Sunday School class, or play piano for church, or minister in any of the ways I would enjoy doing. But I am finding that there is a unique ministry in suffering. This may only be for a certain window of time in my life, and I long to take every advantage of it while I still can. I hope that I will take these lessons with me through all times in my life, both good and bad, but honestly….it is in the fire that often our words and actions speak loudest. I am not at all diminishing other forms of ministry (not at all!), but I am addressing this matter because I do not often hear it spoken of in churches. Dedication and love for the Lord are often measured by the number of services attended and ministries performed. But this is not how the Lord judges things. He looks at our hearts. He allows events to happen in our lives that often leave us on the sidelines – not because He’s mad at us or punishing us- but rather because He wants to use us in unexpected ways for His glory, not ours. I could never take credit for any of the ways He has chosen to use me during this time of extreme weakness, because there is no doubt whatsoever that my sufficiency has been in Him and His grace alone. It’s not in me. Pride is continually abased in times like these, and it has been good for me, though painful at times, to have “the things I accomplish” stripped away. This is a refining process, ordained by God to conform me to the image of His Son. I would never have chosen it, had He asked me. But I am learning to embrace the plan of One who knows ever so much better than I ever could, rejoicing in the unexpected ways He has given me to minister, even now.

Are you hurting today? Struggling in the face of unimaginable loss or serious illness? Take heart! The Lord has a purpose for you here, though it may be difficult to see at times. Let me encourage you to reach out to those around you….bear their burdens along with yours, and let the Lord use your weakness and sorrow to accomplish something beautiful through His all-sufficient strength. If you are not in the valley right now, reach out to those who are. One of these days that will be you…..and you will know just how deeply it means to have the support and care of others during dark and lonely times. I’m grateful that the Lord can use us no matter what state we find ourselves in at present….sickness or health, poverty or prosperity, sorrowing or rejoicing. He is able.

 

 

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A matter of control

We hear about submission all the time in church, especially regarding the will of God. But what does that really look like? What does it mean, honestly? I’m starting to realize the gaps that sometimes exist between what I know in my head and where it applies to my everyday life. It sounds so spiritual in church, but when the rubber meets the road….do we really know what we are talking about?

Submission: (noun) the action or fact of yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person. (synonyms: obedience – subjection – subordination)

The Lord taught me a pretty powerful lesson about this last week.

Things were going great. I was feeling well, working full days, and hopped in bed Wednesday night eagerly anticipating work day #4. In a row!! I realize this is no great accomplishment for most folks, but for me, it’s pretty significant these days. :) I was determined to finally work an entire week….and I was almost there!

Early in the wee hours of Thursday morning, however, I woke from a deep sleep and began having tremors and all the warning signs of an impending seizure. This was very unusual, as seizures generally do not hit in the middle of the night. Symptoms hit so quickly that I had no time to take meds or call for help, as my face and body were both paralyzed within moments. My heart immediately begged, “God! I want to go to work tomorrow!” I was distressed and frustrated, so close to fulfilling my goal of working a full week…only to have it seemingly vanishing before my eyes. The symptoms accelerated, and I could not so much as open my eyes as again I silently, desperately cried, “Oh God, I want to go to work tomorrow!”

I don’t know about you, but God does not often directly reply to my requests, so I will not soon forget the answer that immediately followed. It was not audible of course, but just as real in my heart as if I heard the words aloud….gentle and kind, a stark contrast to my desperate pleas. “You aren’t asking the right way: ‘I want’.

My heart was smitten by His simple words. The message could not be clearer. Throughout my illness He has taught me much about who is really in control of my life…..and it isn’t me. I used to subconsciously think I was, in the “little stuff” at least….I would confidently tell folks I would be somewhere or do something without ever once considering the fact that maybe I wouldn’t be able to…that maybe it was a good thing but not the best thing He desired for me. Even when I started becoming ill, I would make commitments and joke that they would happen because I was determined they would. Then I’d wake up unable to walk or talk, and have to cancel those plans after all. This frustrated me to no end, until I started learning what submission really means, and that it applies to all aspects of my life. I had forgotten about that little verse in James that says “For that ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or do that.” I wasn’t consciously rebellious towards the Lord (though perhaps the end result was the same) but when it came to day to day plans, I guess I thought I could handle those myself. How wrong I was! If He is not Lord of all my life, is He Lord at all?

Yet after so many such lessons, here I was, once again, telling Him what I wanted rather than being submissive to what He might want in this matter. I was so ashamed. As the seizure intensified, my heart grew calm and I accepted the fact that I likely would not be working the next day. Still, I quietly asked, “Lord…..would you let me go to work tomorrow?”

Every symptom fled. The seizure was gone, instantaneously.

I lay there in shock. This was honestly the last thing I had expected. I have prayed many times for the Lord to stop seizures or take away certain symptoms, but in His wisdom He has never chosen to intervene in such a dramatic way. Yet here I was, eyes opening, a body now responding perfectly normally: peace rather than the chaos wreaking havoc only moments before.

Again that gentle, quiet voice came. “I am teaching you here.”

Oh yes, was He ever! How easy it is to forget that attitude in prayer makes a profound difference as to whether that petition is granted or not. The fact is, what I was asking for was not wrong. It was good that I wanted to go to work. It was good that I cried to the Lord instead of getting angry. But I was not praying according to His will.  I was not being submissive. Just the day before, I had read in John where Jesus said “I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent Me”. (John 5:36) If the perfect Son of God would live this way, how much more should I as a very imperfect human being!

That moment was also a reminder of His omnipotence and awareness of what is happening in my life. He effortlessly removed every trace of the seizure, with no “human help” whatsoever, and He could take away this disease entirely if He so chose. All He would have to do is speak the word, and those Lyme bugs wouldn’t stand a chance! :) But in His wisdom, He has allowed this into my life for His purpose and His glory, and it won’t remain a minute longer than He wishes.

I used to long that I lived in Jesus’ day, and mourned that I couldn’t touch the hem of His garment and be healed like the woman with the issue of blood. But the Lord has since reminded me that although times have changed, He is still the same. He hears my prayer just as surely as He heard the silent prayer of the woman that day. I just must trust Him when the answer doesn’t come as quickly as I think it should.

And amazingly enough, the next morning I woke up perfectly fine. No trace of the seizure was left behind, further proof that the Lord stopped that seizure, because I always have “fallout” the morning after. I worked a full day, and even had the energy to go to dinner with a sweet friend afterwards. God is so good!

Submission definitely doesn’t always result in getting what we want, though. :) I longed to work this week, but so far that hasn’t happened due to a rough weekend. But you know what? It’s ok. God is God. I’m not. And I’m grateful for that. :)

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Everyone should have a Susanna

Seriously. Susanna is my youngest sister, and the only one still living at home. (my other sweet sisters are of course living in Texas now, and boy do I miss them!) That girl lights up my life in a way that only a sweet “baby” sister could.

Last night is a perfect example. In spite of taking extra precautions to avoid them, seizures hit almost the moment I went to bed. Susanna was with me, and that precious girl comforted and helped me more than I could express in words. The first seizure was particularly bad, and as I came out of it, I could not stop the tears from flowing. I normally don’t cry much, and tried desperately to stop, not wanting to upset her. But I underestimated the strength of my little sis. She held me and soothingly encouraged me to “let it all out”, handling the situation with remarkable maturity and understanding, particularly as a sixteen-year-old girl. So I did. And felt immensely better afterwards. It didn’t take long for tears to turn to laughter as we found humor in the midst of the insanity. :) How I love that girl!

When another seizure hit only moments later, Susanna was prepared. We have learned that evoking strong emotion (by either making me laugh from something outrageously funny or making me very upset by something) tends to pull me out of the seizure quicker at times….so my hilarious sis went into full British comedic monologue mode. That girl is so stinkin’ funny, she was making me smile, and eventually laugh, in spite of the stiff immobility of my facial muscles. Yep, she was funny enough to override the paralysis. (I told you she was awesome!) I seriously wish I could have recorded her….she certainly would have had you all in stitches. Instead of going to pieces or wringing her hands, she thought of me, and did all within her power to help me through the healing power of laughter–and boy did she outdo herself! I’m laughing just remembering…. :D

I also am reminded yet again of the kindness of my Lord. He has given her such a compassionate heart that is immensely comforting to my mom and me. She may be the junior member of the family, but I’m telling you–she helps us tremendously in so many ways. This may be a rough week, but oh my….I have been given much, particularly in my little sis. Times like this make me increasingly aware of the little jewel living under our roof. She has such a tender heart of compassion for others, with just the right amount of spunk and humor. She is beautiful inside and out, and I know He has special plans for her life. She is going to make a lucky guy very happy someday. :) But in the meantime, I am so privileged to be the recipient of her gentle, nurturing ways and hysterically funny self! :)

If you have a Susanna in your life, you are blessed indeed.

 

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“This little light of mine….”

“….I’m gonna let it shine!” Anybody else love to sing this? :) I remember it as one of my very favorites in Sunday School, growing up. When I thought of letting my light shine, I always pictured handing out tracts, or going on mission trips, smiling at those around me and having such a wonderful blessed life that others just had to know the God who had made it all possible. Such a happy wonderful thought as I sang to the cheery tune.

But is this really all the Lord meant when He told us to let our lights shine brightly before men? Is this really where our testimonies are born?

Those things are certainly good, and have their place…and it’s wonderful when the Lord chooses to bless us with beautiful things and grant the desires of our hearts. Yet where does a candle’s light most brightly shine? Where is its warm glow most seen and appreciated? In the brightness of day? In the glow of sunlight ?

We all know the answer: in the darkness.

What a different picture from the one I envisioned so many years ago! The blessings promised to those who love and obey God often do not take the form we expect. The ministry He has for us is often not where we think it will be. Our soul’s inward “cup” may be overflowing, but outward trials are often heavy and unrelenting. In some ways, this has at times been “the story of my life”. As I grew into adulthood, I had so many dreams of how the Lord would use me. (still do…nothing wrong with that!) I imagined lots of ministry work….marrying a wonderful man….raising godly children….serving in a variety of capacities both in my church and community. All of these are God-honoring dreams, and wonderful for those who find them. Yet how differently my life has turned out! There have been far more valleys than I ever imagined, and even now I fight a long-term illness that in many ways robs me of the reality of those dreams coming true…at least for now. At a time in my life when I long most for activity and ministry, I am often stuck in bed, unable to function much beyond the basics, and certainly not in a position to minister in all the grand ways I had planned. There are days when I feel totally worthless and useless to the kingdom of God and to those I love, as I often am the one needing to be served, rather than the one doing the serving.

But as I read my Bible, I find that the Lord often leads His disciples on paths contrary to what they expected. I don’t imagine the Apostle Paul envisioned himself shipwrecked or in chains in a Roman jail (especially at a time when so many churches needed him!). Yet as a result of these many trials he ended up witnessing to the highest authorities in the Roman empire and writing much of the New Testament! What an incredible purpose God had in his suffering. I could list example after example of people both in the Bible and throughout history whose greatest ministry came about through the things they suffered.

Maybe you are like me. Life hasn’t gone the way you planned, and you are facing looming trials. Maybe you’ve lost your health. Your job. A precious loved one. When we are hurting, it can be so difficult to make sense of the pain. Oft times it seems so pointless, so meaningless….from our point of view. “Lord, don’t You realize how much more I could do for You if it weren’t for ___ ?” Well-meaning fellow believers tell us that if we “just had more faith” or “were in God’s will” we would not be suffering such things.

But this is where the wisdom of God is so much higher than our own meager understanding… His ways so far above ours. In that infinite wisdom, He knows that it is in the fire, in those unspeakably difficult times, that HIS glory can shine brightest through us. Not so much on the mountaintops (though those times certainly can and do glorify Him as well), but most particularly on those days when we are so conscious of our own weakness that only HIS strength carries us through, when His grace is the only thing getting us from one hour to the next. Some of the sweetest, most precious Christians I have ever known are those who have traveled this dark path….and found His grace to be sufficient, His joy there for the taking no matter the storms of life that raged. These are the people who change the lives of those around them, not because they are “super Christians”, but because they recognize that the power to do this is not in them alone–but through Christ. Testimonies of grace in the midst of suffering make a tremendous impact for His kingdom, and though they be forged in fire, how worthy they are of the cost! Lord help me to be this Christian!

I want to close with an excerpt from “Streams in the Desert” which a dear friend sent to me. If you are hurting tonight, or struggling to see how you could be used of God in the midst of a deep trial, I hope these words will encourage your heart as much as they did mine, and remind you that often God is working most when it seems like He isn’t at all.

“Shining is always costly.  Light comes only at the cost of that which produces it.  An unlit candle does no shining. We cannot be of great use to others without cost to ourselves.  Burning suggests suffering.  We shrink from pain. We are apt to feel that we are doing the greatest good in the world when we are strong, and able for active duty, and when the heart and hands are full of kindly service.  When we are called aside and can only suffer; when we are sick; when we are consumed with pain; when all our activities have been dropped, we feel that we are no longer of use, that we are not doing anything. 

But if we are patient and submissive, it is almost certain that we are a greater blessing to the world in our time of suffering and pain than we were in the days when we thought we were doing the most of our work.  We are burning now, and shining because we are burning.”

 

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When life hands you lemons…(or Lymes…)

I have not written here in a long time. There are some very good reasons for that, but I’ve been thinking very much about how much I miss blogging. Not that I was ever a prolific writer :), but I do enjoy it. I’m thinking I should update things before continuing with other posts, though, especially in light of my last entry. Reading back over it, I smile ruefully and shake my head. I was so excited over the apparent answer that ended up being only a tiny part of the puzzle. I am thankful for the joy I experienced at that time :), but the tiny disclaimer I added (“unless there are other underlying problems we are unaware of”….) ended up being more prophetic than I imagined at the time.

I have chronic Lyme disease.

I knew very little about Lyme prior to my diagnosis, and had actually been tested for it last year with negative results. (I have since learned that this particular test misses 80% of Lyme cases) But the Lord blessed me with a doctor who investigates and researches with an open mind, and he approached me earlier this year about having further testing performed that is much more accurate than the previous test he had ordered. He strongly believed that this was the root cause of my many baffling symptoms, the answer which had eluded us for so long. I readily agreed to have further testing, and once again waited with anxious hope that maybe at last we would truly find out what was wrong.

We took this step because after a few wonderful weeks of feeling better after upper-cervical adjustments, my symptoms returned with a vengeance. I was becoming more and more debilitated, and my deteriorating condition was really scaring both me and my loved ones. Dr J sent me to a wonderful chiropractic neurologist who discovered that I was having problems in my brain stem and left cerebellum (which is why correcting my neck problem did help for a while) and eventually figured out that I was having seizures deep in my brain. We did not recognize them as such initially, because I lose all voluntary function when they occur but do not lose consciousness, unlike “typical” seizures. Something was causing certain areas of my brain to be unhealthy, and we were initially perplexed as to what it could be.

The Lyme test explained everything.

When it came back positive, and my CD-57 white blood cell count came back so low it was almost non-existent, we knew we were on to the real issue here….the true source of all my physical problems for the past 2-3 years. Borellia spirochetes were attacking parts of my brain, inducing seizures, weakness, insomnia, pain, coordination problems, and many other issues. We had a PICC line placed in my arm to begin intravenous Rocephin, and the immediate difference was nothing short of remarkable. Seizure meds alone had not kept things under control, but the antibiotics did! We were finally (finally!) attacking the root cause of everything, rather than just managing symptoms, and it could not be more clear that we were indeed on the right track.

The fight goes on, and probably will continue for the forseeable future. This will be a long journey. Some say that advanced Lyme is incurable, or at least impossible to completely eradicate, and can take months and years to get under control. I am determined to prove that wrong. :) I am taking numerous herbal supplements and have radically altered my diet, which definitely is helping. I am researching and doing all I can to beat this thing. But we are having to take it a step at a time, as treatment must be tailor-fit for each patient. Already, we have needed to change my antibiotics regimen when things began spiraling downhill again. There are days when Herxheimer reactions hit as the Lyme dies off with treatment and floods my body with poisons, causing severe pain and weakness. But I know we are on the right track! Even when I have rough days, the knowledge that we are still moving forward fills me with hope for the future. One day I will be well again! In the meantime, I savor each good day I am given….and that number has been increasing lately.

The fact that I have gotten answers in less than 2 years is something for which I am truly thankful, because as I am researching Lyme and coming across others suffering from this, I find it is unusual to find the diagnosis so quickly. Many others have gone through far worse things than I have. It may have felt like an eternity to me, but in actuality was much quicker than the norm. I have much to be thankful for.

I’m discovering, too, that new friends are to be met on this journey. Through my own story I am finding that I can relate to others going through similar illness, and help some of them find the same answers I did. This brings so much meaning to the suffering of the past couple years! God always has a purpose, a reason for these things, and I love it when He gives us even a glimpse of the big picture! :D After all, this isn’t just about me. This is about His glory and being used by Him for His purpose to help others and be a testimony of His grace, even when it involves pain and a chronic condition that I would never have chosen for myself. I’m thankful that He is always wiser than I am, that He allows pain in my life in order to reveal how deep and wide His grace is–always there the moment I need it– and how much He loves me even while letting me suffer. I see myself more clearly, too, and the areas that need work. I see the suffering of those around me in a far more compassionate and understanding way, because I have been there. I am given the opportunity to comfort as I have been comforted by God. What a privilege!

If I can be of any help to others dealing with similar problems–especially if you are still searching for answers–please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to help, if I can! For those interested in learning more about Lyme disease, the documentary “Under Our Skin” is quite informative and is available on Netflix and YouTube.

But for those of you who are well and are finding your eyes glazing over as you read :), please don’t think this will be a blog all about my health problems. It won’t be.  Lyme may be part of my life right now, but it does not define me. I shared all this to avoid future confusion, and potentially help others who are sick, but I will be posting about many different things besides just Lyme. :) So don’t run off, k? :)

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Mystery Diagnosis…..solved!

As many of you now know, Monday was a huge day for me. I finally was given an answer for the crazy health problems that began over a year ago and altered my life in the months since. I am still overwhelmed by the incredible reality that (as far as we know), my quest for a diagnosis is now over. So without further ado, here is my story. :)

It all began when I was cleaning a room at work last year, a week after my 29th birthday. As I moved around the bed to change the table paper, I tripped over a cord and fell full-force on my knees, whacking myself on the chin with the table rod in the process. (smooth, yes) The next day, my right arm began inexplicably jerking and twitching uncontrollably….and things went downhill from there in the following weeks and months. When I went to my chiropractor for help (thinking I just pinched a nerve), I reacted badly to his adjustment, passing out, and then discovering that I could not move, speak, or open my eyes. We initially thought I just had a vegal nerve response, and that I would recover and be better. (for the record, my chiropractor was not at all at fault….the problem was with me) Sure enough, I was much better within a couple hours. But then I began experiencing tremors….and muscle weakness. My legs began going “wobbly”, and walking was a terrible struggle at times as certain muscle groups locked up and refused to respond. I was utterly exhausted much of the time, for no apparent reason. I frequently experienced deep pain in my arms and thighs, and then came the day when I could not move my legs at all. I had MRIs, saw specialists, had test after test after test done…..with no answer. Tests came back clear, doctors were skeptical at best, and I was left struggling to regain my health without any medical assistance whatsoever.

What made it all confusing is how the symptoms would come and go. I would have terrible symptoms for a week, and then they would inexplicably disappear. I was thankful that they always left, but was completely confused about why they happened in the first place! Sometimes it was a struggle just to get through a day. Yet in the darkness, God’s presence was always there. He used my dear friends, family, and coworkers to surround me with more love, care, and prayers than I ever could have imagined, and I experienced His tenderness and compassion like never before in my life. At this time of utter helplessness, His grace was always there, holding me up, giving me joy, and carrying me when I was too weak to possibly get through a day by myself.

In His loving providence, He led me to Dr. Torin Gray, a wonderful Christian physician who listened and cared and took on my case, determined to get to the root of the problem. He was the first doctor (besides the wonderful docs I work for) who actually took me seriously and recognized that I had major issues going on….no matter HOW many tests came back normal! :) He was so reassuring and kind, and very encouraging. He sent me to specialists and ordered a huge battery of labs, but we could get no closer to answers. But he did not give up, and even if he couldn’t cure me at the time, I left his office encouraged every single time, because I knew I had an advocate.

There were signs that I might possibly have an autoimmune disease, which was not a happy prospect. Other neurological conditions were possibilities…but still, they didn’t quite fit my problems. We had theories……but nothing concrete, thus nothing that we could really do about any of it.

Meanwhile, my overall condition had so deteriorated in the midst of the episodes that I knew I needed chiropractic care or I was going to be totally debilitated. (I had stopped going to my chiropractor since we initially thought that the adjustments might be aggravating the problem) There were times when my body basically would “lock up” and I could not move, and a couple times my breathing and swallowing were even affected, improving only when I took muscle relaxers. This could not go on. So my wonderful chiropractor, Dr. Weatherley, bravely took on my very complicated case, and worked with me extensively. He greatly improved my overall condition, and spent hours working on me when necessary. Again, he was absolutely a God-send. Things were better, but still…..episodes would hit out of the blue, with varying symptoms, presenting themselves in different ways, and we were all completely confused about what this craziness could possibly be. My day-to-day life was greatly affected, because I could not really make plans of any kind, never knowing when I would wake up unable to walk, or having other crazy neurological issues.

Boy did I learn some deep lessons during this time! I never before realized how subconsciously I had a tendency to think I was in control of my own life. I love my Jesus, and sought His will in decisions and wanted to please Him…but deep down inside I still grasped to make my own choices in many of the everyday things of life. There was love for ME mixed in my love for Him. :(  But when facing the reality of not being able to do something as simple as walk across a room, needing help even to get to the bathroom (the utmost humiliation, really, heh)…. when I would tell people that I would be somewhere or do something and then find myself flat-out unable to….. when I sought desperately for answers and only found more questions…. I realized just how small I really am. How I am NOT in control here. That James had very good reason for saying “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” (ch.4) God began gently – but intensely! – teaching me that my sufficiency was in Him, that my life was absolutely NOT my own, and that I was most definitely not in charge here! :) He also opened my eyes to the many other people who were suffering much worse things than I was, which kept my own problems in perspective…. and how people were watching my response to my present trials. I would either glorify Him in the midst of this, or bring disgrace to His name…there was no middle ground. I prayed desperately that I would not shame Him, and He began teaching me what it meant to “count it all joy” when trials came…. this was when some of His greatest work could be accomplished, not just in my own life, but in the lives of those around me. There were days when I felt utterly overwhelmed, so helpless….. but to my amazement, those were the days when I realized just how incredible my God really was. His peace was there…..His joy He gave….His love He bestowed so tenderly, even when I came to Him in a shower of tears and frustration. Not because I was special or deserved it, but because that is WHO HE IS. It was all there for the taking…..all I had to do was reach out and make it mine. He always, faithfully, calmed the storm in my heart, and reminded me that His grace was sufficient, His strength was made perfect in my weakness. When I was at my limit, His strength was only just beginning. And it was enough. Always enough.

New developments began indicating that my neck could be the source of my troubles. Dr Weatherley and Dr Gray both became convinced of this, and after Dr W began adjusting my neck again (which he previously had not done, concerned that it would harm me), I drastically improved. But after enjoying sweet respite from symptoms over the summer, I began having big setbacks in September. Then came a new development: speech problems. That was pretty scary, because it indicated beyond doubt that I was experiencing problems involving my brain. Again, though, my doctors were convinced the problem had to be in my neck, because brain signals were clearly not getting through, yet nothing was wrong with the brain itself. We began discussing sending me out of state to see specialists who would hopefully be able to detect the source of the problem.

Then came this past weekend. After doing well for two weeks, I began having significant problems speaking after my neck was gently pressed during an evaluation. It made no sense, yet I struggled with symptoms all weekend, and when I woke up Monday with the problem still quite persistent, I knew something had to be done. After months of waiting and trying to be patient, I knew action was needed but felt overwhelmed, not sure what to do. I prayed for wisdom, and my dear coworkers prayed for me too during our morning meeting. Some were in tears over my speech issues, and that too made me realize that things were getting to a crisis point here.

I called Dr. W, and he told me I needed to see an upper cervical chiropractor. He arranged for me to be treated by one that very day, and I prayed desperately that the Lord would give this doctor wisdom to determine what was wrong with my neck.

And after 14 months of waiting and praying and longing for an answer, I heard some of the sweetest words you can imagine…. “I know what’s wrong with you!” :) :)

Dr. Jones had performed special x-rays that morning, and showed me where my atlas, the bone directly beneath the skull, was askew. Instead of being perfectly straight like it should be, mine was tilted down to the right and pushed forward! He said its position would block many of the transmissions from my brain, and was also affecting my cranial nerves, resulting in the speech difficulties and motor skill issues that had recently begun (difficulty writing and incoordination, in particular). He assured me that once he corrected this, I would be a normal person again!

I was so hopeful, so longing for him to be right….but not sure. It made sense, but could this really be it?? Could it be so very…..well….simple? :) It seemed too good to be true! He got his little tools out, and proceeded to very gently work on my atlas. Initially I didn’t notice any difference, and tried not to despair :)….but when he made a few more adjustments and stepped back, I immediately realized that something was different! The terrible “fog” left my head, and my previous speech and walking problems completely vanished. I was….a normal person!!! No pain, no problems of any kind. I could now communicate with him with no difficulty whatsoever!! It had changed in an instant!!

And that was when everything “clicked”. This was why nothing showed up on tests….this is why chiropractic had helped some but not completely….this was why my perfectly healthy limbs would sometimes not respond to my commands…..this was why neurological symptoms plagued me at times….there was a roadblock right in the middle of the “information gateway” between my brain and my body!! No wonder!

Best of all? Unlike a dread disease or autoimmune condition, THIS PROBLEM COULD BE FIXED! Praise the Lord! :D

The most overwhelming abundant joy filled me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, and I positively could have danced a jig right there in that office had I not been afraid of undoing his handiwork! :) The Lord had heard our prayers and answered in HIS timing…..and I felt as though in that moment, He gave me my life back.

What rejoicing and celebration took place when I returned to work that morning! Those precious ladies have been with me every step of the way, and our hearts were full of thanksgiving to the Lord for finally bringing the answer we longed for. Tears of sadness were turned to tears of joy, and we all were just in awe of what happened in the course of one day!

It will be a process, getting me back to normal. I will need therapy to strengthen my neck, and reverse its outward curve, and could have a few setbacks as he works to keep that bone in place. But now we know what to do…now I can take active measures to regain my health and live a normal active life. What an incredible gift!

I know this post has been very long, but I wanted to share not just the happy ending, but the faithfulness of God during the journey to get here. I also wanted to share more details than I have in the past, in hopes of maybe helping other folks who may have similar problems and haven’t yet found an answer….they may want to see if their problem is the same as mine! :) I can give you all the information you need if you ask me! ;)

I want to thank each and every one of you who have prayed for me, encouraged me, and supported me during all the craziness of the past year…..God knew I needed you, and I would never have survived with my sanity intact had it not been for you! And honestly? I don’t think I would change any of it, even if I could, because I have learned (and am still in the process of learning) incredible lessons that I never would have, had these events not taken place. It has amazed me the treasures that are discovered in the midst of pain, and for this I am truly grateful. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thrilled to realize that most likely this season in my life is over (unless there are other underlying problems we are unaware of), yet I can see at least part of why the Lord chose to allow me to go through it. I know there will be other challenges ahead – life is full of them! –  but I can face them with more confidence than ever before, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that my God is faithful, and will be with me every step of the way.

“Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” Psa 28:6-7

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Lydia Gets on a Soapbox….

I haven’t written here in forever. Shame on me. But tonight I have a bee in my bonnet, and thought this was the best place to get it out. ;)

Certain comments I have heard in the last couple days have been bothering me.

Why are people all worked up over the Carlee Anthony case? Abortion happens every day.”

Six babies died due to abortion during the reading of the Casey Anthony verdict.”

Can I just say “aaaaaaagh!!!”?

Whew. Ok. :deep breath:

Why, in the face of every tragedy, are there people who always compare it to abortion? Does one murder not count simply because other murders are taking place?

One tragedy does not diminish another tragedy. Loss of human life is tragic whether it is one person or multitudes.

Indeed,  millions upon millions of babies have been murdered. It breaks my heart to think of all the little people who were never given a chance at life. I hate it, stand against it, pray for its end, protest it, and vote strictly pro-life. I am thankful for all those who are able to volunteer at crisis pregnancy centers! But beyond that, there is very little that we can do right now. I feel so helpless….but as long as Roe vs Wade stands, abortion continues unhindered. Tragedy, indeed.

But now we come to the Casey Anthony trial.

Thankfully, murder of a born child is still against the law. We may not be able to get justice for the unborn millions yet, but here was a chance to get justice for one little girl. That one little toddler is just as precious in God’s sight as all aborted babies are. And I was heartsick when once again, a little life is taken and nothing is done about it. Her murderer walks free. Her death remains unavenged. I am grateful for the nation-wide outcry! Thank God that outrage is not dead!

So why, when people express this outrage, are there folks who come along and act like we shouldn’t be worked up about it? I heard similar comments after 9/11. Certain people refused to get upset about 9/11 because “more lives are lost through abortion”. It bothered me then and it bothers me now.

So you aren’t going to grieve those lives lost since “more babies die every day”? This makes sense…..how? Truth of the matter is, we should be grieving both. But don’t diminish each fresh catastrophe that takes place just because it may not kill as many people as abortion does. Every single life is precious to God, and the countless people affected by every new violent act deserve compassion and care….not comparisons to “worse” things.

*steps off soapbox*

Ok, I feel better now. :) Thoughts?

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