Your Trial, Your Platform

rachel-caneRecently I saw a family friend and he said something that I didn’t expect to hear. Something that deeply encouraged me. Here I am in a wheelchair, disabled, bedridden, in constant pain, and I barely leave my house… I barely leave my dark quiet room (because of my sickness). Well this friend looked at me with teared-up eyes and said ” You have NO idea how many people God is using you to touch.” I started crying when he said this. Often our trials ARE our platform to be a light to others.

Several months after my car accident when I was very sick and in bed, God was putting on my heart others who are suffering with chronic illness. I kept wanting to “Get on with my life so I could reach people.” But sometime between then and now God helped me see that this wasn’t a bump in the road. This was not something I needed to hurry up and get past so I could get on with my journey and help others. This WAS part of my journey. This was what He was using to help others. How can my bedridden existence help encourage others?? There is only one answer and that is “God.”

Only He can take our trials and use them to encourage others. He can take your trial too and use you to be a light to others. He doesn’t need you to get past this trial so you can help others. He just needs you to look to Him and let Him teach you and change you THROUGH your trial. And that will be used as a light to others :).

How many of you at one time in your life “wanted to make a difference” and “wanted to make the world a better place”??? How many of you wanted to make your imprint on the world and didn’t want your life to go wasted?? Now you’re stuck in the normal ins and outs of everyday life. You’re in a tough situation. Different trials have arisen whether it be financial problems, sickness, strained relationships, a bad marriage, a heartbreaking breakup, foreclosure, death of a loved one and so many other trials out there that I didn’t even mention.

Life didn’t turn out as rosy as you thought it would when you were a kid. Life is difficult, and constantly has stress and different heartbreaks you never expected to face. Some of you didn’t have an easy childhood and because of that you weren’t even able to dream of making a good life for yourself one day. You faced the bitter hardship life can bring at a young age and you’ve always expected that life would bring one bad thing after the next. Well whether you were the “idealistic dreamer”, or the “heartbroken kid”, there is something we all have in common, YOU CAN make a difference in whatever situation you are in right now. God can bring beauty from your hardship that you’re currently facing.

I always had a heart to help people, even as a young child. My parents moved our family of 5 kids to India when I was 6 years old to do missionary work over there. They had planned on staying there the rest of their lives but due to persecution from the Hindus towards Christians, my parents had to pack us up and flee in the middle of the night back to America (another story for another time). I’m sure watching my parents give up everything to reach the poor and needy in India is part of what gave me this heart to help people at a young age. I was taught “God first, Family second, and ministry (reaching out to those that need help) third.

I was in middle school when we fled India and came back to the U.S. with nothing. It was a heartbreaking time for our family, but God healed us and we took it a day at a time. Eventually I adjusted to my new life in America. I continued to see my parents try and reach out to others, and always looking to do missionary work again. But God didn’t take us back on the mission field. He had planted us in America for the time being.

I wanted to be a missionary in China when I “grew up”. I wanted to start orphanages around the world. I also had a heart to reach my own people. I wanted to help the struggling teenagers here in the U.S. Once I went to college I had a plan to get my doctorate in Psychology to become a Counselor. I wanted to start teen centers to help teens who were struggling. I dreamed of starting these centers here in the U.S. and eventually around the world. I still had a heart for orphans and wanted to work with orphanages around the world too. I was a dreamer, a BIG dreamer with a big heart. But all my dreams came crashing down my Senior year of college when I was in a car accident that resulted in a severe traumatic brain injury.

I was half blind, needed help to walk (because my equilibrium was damaged from the brain injury) and I was in constant, severe pain throughout my body. I had difficulty finding words, I was always nauseous. My sensitivity to light made it feel painful to my brain. So I stayed in a dark room. Instead of bouncing back from this concussion (as I expected) I continued to get worse and a multitude of other symptoms arose as the months passed. I later found out that I had Chronic Lyme Disease (a debilitating and sometimes deathly disease). And then arose another condition called P.O.T.S. (Postural Orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) which makes me pass out if I stand for more than a few minutes. All these things together have kept me bedridden for over 4 years now. My dreams crashed down when someone crashed into my car…. and my life has been forever changed!!

I’m a major extrovert, meeting new people is exciting and energizing to me. I love people,.. I even loved “customer service” even though everyone I talked to hated it, So it has been a BIG change for me when my ailments caused me to be in a dark quiet room. For the most part I was secluded from people.  My family and friends would come to visit me here and there and they still do. I live with my parents and my brother (but my dad travels for work and my brother is often, gone so it is usually me and my mom at home alone together).

It is very difficult to leave my house due to my vision, light sensitivity, pain, noise sensitivity etc. Whenever I do leave the house (which is mainly for doctors appointments) my symptoms always go through the roof when I get home. I pay for hours or days. But something crazy and unexpected came out of these past 4 years. Something that only God could do through my sick, secluded life. I couldn’t look at a computer screen, it was extremely hard to try and text with my vision. So my mom took over my communication for me on my phone and computer. She would post for me and read me my comments and messages.

Through this time I did what I knew to do, I clung to the Lord and His strength and grace for each day. Since I was alone in the dark and quiet most of the time, I had a lot of time to talk to God. He had a lot of time to show me things in my heart that I didn’t even know were there. Bitterness, unforgiveness, hurt, etc. Because I was flat on my back alone spending time talking to God He was able to show me things and change my heart.  He was able to humble me and cleanse my heart. He was growing me in so many areas… areas that without this tragedy would have taken me years and years to learn.

I remember people would question “why aren’t you angry at God??”. They were perplexed and would say things like “you were such a nice person and you loved God and lived for Him so why would He let this happen to you??” I was perplexed at their question, To me I had lost everything except for my walk with God.  Everything good in my life was taken away, all my dreams were shattered and my body was in agony, but the only good thing that had happened to me through all of it was God being by my side and giving me strength through it. God was with me and I never doubted that He wasn’t. I knew he was a loving, faithful God. I loved Him. He was the MOST important part of my life before the accident. I had lost my job, my school, my ability to leave the house, my vision, and I was in horrible pain. But to me the thing I most prized I hadn’t lost, and that was my relationship with God.

Why would I be angry at Him when he was standing with me through this whole ordeal?? Why would I be angry at Him when I knew that no matter what was taken from me in life, the one thing that can never be taken from me is Jesus. Being angry at Him was a waste of time and he didn’t deserve it. I don’t look down on or judge those that are angry with God. And if you currently are angry at God I’m not trying to correct you or make you feel bad about that. God understands when we are angry. And if you are angry with Him tell Him, talk to Him about it. David talked to God in the Psalms about how angry he was or how he felt abandoned. God can take it.

I’m just saying that for me, I had decided that no matter what, I wasn’t going to be angry at God because I knew His character, I knew His love, and I knew He hurt watching me go through this. I knew He wouldn’t leave me no matter what. I knew He would help me through my trial. I knew bad things happened on this earth. Fleeing India, my home, at such a young age opened my eyes to see that bad thing happen in this world. It also opened my eyes to see that God would help you through them.

Here I am secluded from people more than ever in my life, in my own trial, not reaching out to others, barely getting through the day health wise. But during this time God surprised me!! All of a sudden I started having people, from close friends, to acquaintances write me and say “ God is using you to inspire and encourage me. “ So many people started reaching out to me and saying God had used my story in their life, or how my constant faith touched them. I was amazed because I wasn’t doing ANYTHING.

I wasn’t reaching out to people. I was barely even seeing people. How could this be ministering to others???!!! I wasn’t doing anything but holding onto my faith, and letting God use this trial to grow me. To me this shows that it WASN’T me, it was GOD that was reaching people. He was the one touching their hearts. He wasn’t having me reach out to others. But somehow He was getting my story out there and somehow HE was using it to encourage others. He amazes me still to this day, because He can use ANYTHING in your life to touch others. Even when you’re not trying.. and so the main message I want to encourage you with in this article is this,

  1. God can use YOUR life RIGHT now. No matter how boring it seems, or how difficult it is, God can use you to make a difference in the world around you. Maybe it won’t be in the way you dreamed of, but God’s way is always better than our way.
  2. The MAIN thing God can use in your life right now to reach others may be the opposite of what you expect. It’s not necessarily for you to reach out to others, it’s for you to reach up to God.

Spend time with God.  Ask God to humble you and convict you of whatever He sees in your life that He wants to change. It IS humbling as He shows you the ugly things you are not aware are in your heart.  Ask Him to teach you lessons and purify your heart in the situation you are currently in. If you do these things God will use you as a light to others without you even trying. Because it’s not you, it’s God who is using you.

I’m NOT saying you shouldn’t ever reach out to others. That is not my message in this article. Of course you should reach out to others as God puts it on your heart and as HE leads you. What I’m saying is that what is more important than reaching out to others, what should be your main concern is, YOUR walk with God.

The people you’re most often used to reach are the people you live with and work with. The people who see you most every day. I see less people on a daily basis than most of you. I live with my parents and younger brother. Though I couldn’t reach out to others I felt like God put on my heart the desire to do whatever I could to be kind, encouraging, and uplifting to my family that I lived with. No matter how bad the pain gets or how frustrated I am with my illness, I try not to take it out on them.  If the only difference you make is in the people around you, that is a big difference. That IS making a difference in the world around you :).

When we walk through the fires of life God can use them to burn out the dirt within us and purify our hearts. It’s not a onetime thing. Everyday I’m seeking God about the sin, hurt, and frustrations in my own heart. I’m asking Him to heal me, to grow me, and to humble me. It’s a journey of God changing us. But if we allow God to burn out the ugliness in our hearts THROUGH our trials, He can use our trials to be our platforms.

I realize that if I wasn’t sick I wouldn’t have the platform I have to speak into hurting people’s lives. I don’t believe God caused my sickness. But I do believe He IS the one who can use it to be my platform… A platform I would not have without the struggle and agony I’ve suffered with these past 4 years. When I see how God is using it, I thank Him for giving me this platform. It’s a gift He is trusting me with and I feel honored about that. Your trial may be different than mine but God too can give you a platform to be a light that you wouldn’t have without your trial.

I have a friend who has been in a difficult marriage for years. But they’re pressing in with the Lord and seeking Jesus to change them and grow them. This friend is just living their life and has had several hardships rise up. They probably have no idea that me seeing them change and grow and become kinder and more humble, is a light to me and I’m sure to many around them. Their trial has become their platform because they have chosen to press into God during the hard times. And God is using them within their trials to be a light.

You don’t know the light that shines in you when you’re seeking God and asking Him to humble and change you. You have no idea how you can be a positive influence in the people you see on a daily basis, just by showing them love and respect.

Bloom where you’re planted, and God can use it in ways you can’t imagine :). God will use your trial as your platform, if you let Him.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

 

 

 

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This Christmas, you’re not alone!

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A few years ago at the peak of my illness, I was so weak I couldn’t even roll over in my bed without help. I was in extreme pain, I was half blind, my legs didn’t work at the time and I couldn’t control them or walk (this was before my Lyme treatment that gave me back control of my legs). On top of this, the Lyme had made it’s way up my spine, to my brain, and started eating away at the TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) that I already had. This caused everything to get worse, especially my brain. That year I had one of the saddest and most wonderful Christmases I’d ever had.

Due to my brain injury, I could only be in a dark quiet room. When a family member or friend came over they had to come into this dark room to visit me. I’d only last about 15  minutes before my pain would go up, I’d get nauseas, and confused. It became very hard for me to comprehend what anyone was saying because of the chaos my brain injury would cause me after 15 minutes of talking

I’ve lived in a dark and quiet room for years. It’s just this past year that I’ve been able to tolerate light a lot better than before. But I still spend a couple hours a day in the dark and quiet, because it’s the only thing that helps my pain and chaos in my brain (from the brain injury) calm down.

Just a few years ago, on Christmas Eve, the family came over to celebrate. There were around 10 of us that year. My mom cooked a delicious Christmas Eve dinner for all of us, and it was time to enjoy and celebrate together. The only problem was I couldn’t join them due to how sick I was.

I was too weak to sit up. Even if we put a bed next to the dining room table for me so I could lay down, or brought everyone to my room, I couldn’t handle the noise. The light and noise from the conversations made my nerve pain so high it just felt like someone was squeezing the nerves throughout my body and it wouldn’t stop. On top of that; the light and noise made me soooo dizzy and nauseous, and made my vision worse where everything would look blurry to me – and the room looked like it was spinning. Additionally, when I was in a group of people I wasn’t able to comprehend what anyone was saying. I knew they were speaking English, but it felt like they were speaking another language cause I could barely comprehend anything they were saying.  All together it was a horrible, painful, experience.

There wasn’t much choice for my family, but to have Christmas Eve dinner without me . Of course my family came up to say “hi” , and see if I needed anything, but couldn’t stay longer than a few minutes since I couldn’t  handle it. So my mom made me a plate and brought it upstairs to my  bedroom for me to eat.

There I laid in my dark bedroom with a plate of delicious food next to me. I could hear the muffled noise of my family laughing and talking downstairs. This was one of those times the sadness of my illness really hit me. I started crying ,wishing I could be downstairs with my family and not be disabled and so severely sick.

It was a holiday and I had always spent it with them. But this year was different. I was alone. Hearing there muffled, familiar noises made them feel so close yet so far. They were only downstairs, yet my sickness kept me from them. And if I were to join them and lay down on the floor or the couch, all the symptoms I described above would have happened and I would have paid for it physically for at least a week. My pain would go through the roof, the nausea, dizziness, vision problems. and confusion would all come crashing down with full force on me every hour of every day. An hour with them would have felt miserable physically and I would have paid physically for a week or two.

So there I lay in the dark, with my shooting nerve pain and dizziness, and all my other painful symptoms, and I cried and cried. I felt so alone……

BUT THEN, I felt the Lord speak to my heart. ….”You’re not alone. You’re having Christmas Eve dinner with the King whose birth Christmas celebrates.”

Wow, the sudden awareness that I was having a one on one Christmas dinner with God Almighty!! I was having dinner with the one who Christmas was all about! I went from sadness, to being honored and touched. I wasn’t alone, I was with Him.

It’s one of those memories that stands out in my mind. God took my sadness and loneliness, and  reminded me that none  of us are ever alone.

I don’t know what you’re doing this Christmas, if you’re spending it with family or with friends. Maybe you’re spending it alone. But I want to remind you of what God reminded me…you are never alone!! If you’re not joining anyone for Christmas, I hope you can realize that you’re spending it with the King whose birth we celebrate. That’s pretty amazing!!

Family gatherings are great! But Christmas isn’t about family, it’s about Christ. And whether  or not family comes, Christ will be with you every Christmas forever. Sometimes having family and presents can even distract us from celebrating the one who Christmas is all about. I’m not saying don’t spend Christmas with family. I’m just saying if you’re not spending it with family, you’re still spending it with God Almighty, and that is quite an honor. 🙂

If you’re spending it with Family or friends, I hope that you can make time during this Christmas season to be with the King whose birth we celebrate. Don’t let buying presents and planning dinners distract you from reflecting on the reason we celebrate Christmas. Don’t get too busy and accidentally cut Christ out of “Christmas” and make it become a “Xmas” lol ;).

Remember HOW much God loves YOU. He loves you so much He came down to earth, born to a humble stable, so He could teach us how to live,and how to love. And then He died on the cross so that we could spend eternity with Him. That’s the best gift any of us could ever ask for or imagine. The King of kings wants to spend Christmas with YOU :). He wants to spend every day with you. He loves you so much, that He was tortured and crucified so that He could spend every day of forever with you.

I hope this can be a wonderful season as you reflect on the reason for the season. Merry Christmas!!

“Do not be terrified or discouraged; for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and give birth to a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel”- which means God with us.  Matthew 1:23

 

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The Real St. Nick

IMG_6522.JPGWhat comes to mind when you hear “Santa Clause” or “St Nick?” Is it a jolly old man with a white beard, big belly, and a red suit??? For most of us it is. You’d probably be surprised to hear that in reality St Nicholos was Greek, with olive colored skin and dark eyes. He did seem to have a short white beard, but there was no Christmas cookie belly or red suit ;). He was known for his generosity, but there was a lot more to his story than just that. Life didn’t seem to treat him fairly and robbed him of his loved ones at a young age. He went through a lot, but he used what he had to bless others.

Life isn’t fair for a lot of us!! I know it, and you know it. Life can be so difficult. Some of the nicest people in the world get treated horrible. They are betrayed, persecuted, and never seem to catch a break. I’ve also seen some “not so nice people” who seem to get everything handed to them. It’s puzzling.

We do not get to pick what life hands to us, but we do get to pick how we respond. We get to choose if we use what we have (or don’t have) for good. WE CHOOSE if we’re going to ask God to mold us and purify us THROUGH the fires of life, or if we’re going to let ourselves fall into self pity, bitterness, jealousy and many other ugly characteristics.

I’m 25 years old and live in bed due to Chronic Lyme Disease, a TBI(Traumatic Brain Injury), and a condition called POTS (Postural Orthastatic Tachycardia Syndrome}. Next to my bed is my walker that I have to use to get to my bathroom… That’s right a walker. I’m 25yrs old and walk like a little old lady ;). I laugh at myself cause seeing myself walk is kinda humorous to look at. I naturally (before my sickness) am a very energetic person who is always on the go. So I never thought I’d have to use a walker in my life even when I hit the ripe old age of 85. I expected to be one of those old ladies who is active in life and independent. But life doesn’t always hand you what you expect.

If I leave my house I have to use a wheelchair because my POTS makes me lose all the blood to my brain and pass out if I walk longer than 5 minutes. The POTS does cause me to be bedridden and also supplies a dozen or so additional symptoms like, nausea, weakness, exhaustion, brain fog, vision problems etc. That on top of my TBI and Chronic Lyme disease (which causes severe nerve pain throughout my entire body 24/7 as well as many other symptoms) well it exhausts me and adds to the reason I’m sick and bedridden.

Well when I do use my walker (usually to get to the bathroom that’s about 20ft away) I have a quote I taped to my walker. It says,” Life is 10℅ what happens to you, 90℅ how you respond.” Which means if everything you can imagine going wrong on this earth happens to you, you can still pass with a 90℅ which is an “A.” I’m just kidding, I don’t think we get grades on life. But I do think our choices determine 90℅ of our lives. We all have bad things happen to us but we choose how we respond.

So that brings us back to our dear old friend St. Nick. He lived about 1700yrs ago (300years after Christ was resurrected). Nick was born to a Greek family, a wealthy Greek family. Unfortunately life didn’t feel so wealthy for him since he was orphaned and BOTH of his parents died when he was just a child. That kind of grief and pain I can only imagine. Any orphan out there reading this knows how horrible and tragic that is to go through.

So many of us would of been bitter at life and mad at God if this happened to us. We’d go through life with a “chip on our shoulders” singing the song “poor me” as we grew more angry at life, people, and God. But Nicholas, well he didn’t. He grew more loving, giving, and charitable as the years passed.

At some point in his life he was touched by the love of Jesus. He was a devout Christian, which was not popular at this time. I don’t know if his parents raised him this way, or if he found God after their deaths. But I do know that he was so touched that God would give up His life, and come down to this earth to be mocked, lied about, persecuted, and finally tortured and put to death. All this while Jesus did nothing wrong.

Jesus taught us how to live. He taught us how to love, not just by His words but by His sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice He gave so that we who mocked, lied about, and persecuted Him would be able to go spend eternity with Him in the most amazing place you can imagine… HEAVEN. God wanted us to live the rest of our lives in eternity WITH Him, that’s how much He loves us. And that’s why He sacrificed His life on the cross for us. That’s love. And Nick, well He saw that love of God and he lived His life with God’s love in His heart.

So instead of wallowing in self pity and dying an angry old man what happened to Nick?? Well he used his inheritance, the wealth his parents left him to bless others. He was considered one of the most generous men. And he didn’t try to get credit for it either which is pretty cool.

One story of his gift giving/generosity plays out for a poor family. A father and his 3 daughters who were financially struggling so much they were almost starving. To make things worse, in this culture at this time a woman couldn’t get married unless her parents gave her future husband and/or his family a dowry (money to marry her). This was the custom and therefore there was no hope for any of these 3 daughters to ever get married or have children.

Things had gotten so bad for the family that finally the only way they knew how to bring money home to feed themselves was to sell the oldest daughter into prostitution. Somehow Nick heard/found out about this family. So the night before she was going to be sold into prostitution Nick snuck down to their house. He had a bag of money (enough for a dowry for the eldest daughter). Some say he left it on the doorstep, others say he threw it in the window over the fireplace and it landed in their shoes. Over the years “shoes” turned to socks/stockings which eventually turned into the tradition of hanging stockings over the fireplace and filling them with gifts.

Well I can only imagine how overjoyed and relieved this family would have been to find this gift. The eldest daughter had her dowry money and I assume went on to get married. But there was still the problem of the 2 other daughters. Each year (as the next daughter was getting ready to be sold into prostitution) Nick left a bag of money for her dowry money. Nick did this for 3 years, but the 3rd year he was caught. As Nick was sneaking onto their property the father spotted Nick. The father rushed outside to Nick and was overfilled with gratitude as he thanked Nick for saving his family.

Nick went on to bless and save others in need with his money. He didn’t look to money to satisfy him by living the life of wealth and comfort. Nick had found true satisfaction when he found Jesus. So he didn’t look to his money to satisfy him, he looked to the Lord. And he happily gave what he had (his money) away to help others.

We all have the choice to live bitter and in self pity for the losses we have suffered. Or we can take what we have (whatever it is even if it’s not money and it’s just a smile or treating others with kindness) we all have things we can share with others. Nick is an inspiration of generosity and kindness. But too often we look to Santa as the “spirit of Christmas” and the “spirit of giving.” I think this would have greatly saddened Nick. For the real hero, the real inspiration is Jesus and all He gave for us to live with God in our hearts here on earth and one day to live and walk with God in heaven. Jesus is the reason for the season. Jesus is the inspiration of love and kindness and giving. Nick merely was trying to let God use him and fill his heart with love for others.

It’s easy for us to look to people or idolize them like Nick who became a “Saint” in the Catholic church. I know Nick would have wanted us to look to God to help us have a spirit of giving and generosity. I’m not saying Nick isn’t an inspiration. I absolutely believe Nick IS an inspiration of more than generosity, Nick is an inspiration of the CHOICE we have with our lives. Will we wallow in self pity from the trials we face and the losses we’ve suffered??? Or will we use our lives to bless others?? Will we let Satan beat us up and relive the betrayals and suffering we’ve gone through?? Or will we let God heal our hearts and help us through our trials?? Will we let God use whatever we have to bless others?? Even if you don’t have money or time, use what you do have. Maybe that is just showing someone kindness, a listening ear, or giving a stranger a smile. God can use these things and use you in ways you don’t realize if you just give what you do have.

I often feel like I have NOTHING to offer. I’m stuck in bed. It’s hard for me to leave the house. I’m broke and trying to pay for medical bills. I’m tired and exhausted and only have an hour or two at a time that I can visit someone before I have to rest in the dark and quiet to calm down my pain and other symptoms. What do I have to give this world?? Well God’s showed me through this journey that even if the family I live with are the main and sometimes only people I see, I can still give them kindness and hopefully make their days a little bit better.

Prayer is something all of us can give, even if you’re busy at work, you can pray in your mind while you’re working. Or if you have a lot of time on your hands and are stuck in bed like me, or maybe don’t have a job at the moment, or maybe you stay home with the kids, well you have more time to pray for others, and that makes a difference in ways we can’t always see. God’s also showed me that He can use my words to encourage others if I let Him. So I try to encourage my friends and family in the ways that I can.

I often feel like I’m such a burden on my family. I need help to bathe, I often need help to get to the bathroom (when I’m weak and can’t walk). I can’t fix my food or even get my medicine organized for the day (my mom does all of this for me). She and my dad always tell me I’m not a burden and they’re happy to help and take care of me. I am blessed and I am so grateful for that. But still I feel like there isn’t much I can do or much I can give. But when I’m open hearted and look to God, He shows me how to use what I do have. And sometimes all I have is a smile to give. But God can still use it. If God can use me (who is laid up in bed and can barely do anything) He can use you. Just look to Him and ask Him and He will show you how to give kindness, money, time, prayer, encouragement, or anything else that you might have to bless others.

Nick eventually became a bishop. but he didn’t live to be old or immortal like the Santa we hear of in movies and books. He didn’t go on to live in the North Pole. But he probably did live in the cold for many years of his life since he was arrested for his faith and put in a cold prison cell. He died in his sixties. He spent many years in prison and probably had no idea that his story would pass on or help inspire others.

So when you see a picture, or movie, or poster of Santa Clause this season (or for every Christmas to come) I hope you can remember who the real Nick was. How the real hero was and is Christ. And because Nick knew of the sacrifice and love and heroics of Jesus Christ, he lived out his life in a way that showed kindness and giving. When you see Santa think about the CHOICES we have. What choice will you make with your trials?? Will you live in anger, depression and self pity?? Or will you use what you have to bless others :)???

I wish all of you a Very MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! I hope this season you will let God soften your heart and heal you. I hope that your heart will be filled with joy and gratitude as you reflect on the sacrifices God made to come down as a baby and live His life hear on earth, and eventually die on a cross for our sins. He is amazing, and He loves YOU. He loves YOU more than you can imagine :). Merry Christmas everyone!!!!! 🙂

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Could My Suffering Be My Mercy??

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Could My Suffering be God’s Mercy on me???  I know what you’re thinking, “whaaaaat”??? Cause that’s the same thing I thought when I first heard it. Today my  mom and I were talking and she told me that in her time with God this morning she said she was thanking Him for having mercy on us by letting us suffer… I didn’t quite understand what she meant so I asked her. She said how the suffering we have been going through has helped us stay on our knees seeking God and depending on Him. She said that maybe if we weren’t going through these  trials that maybe the temptations of the world would snatch us up and draw us away from God…. Then I got it!!! “Oh!!! Maybe suffering is a strange form of mercy” and I felt a gratitude in my heart for growing closer to the Lord these past few years that I’ve been disabled and bedridden. It has kept me looking to Him instead of  looking at the things of this world.

The last several years I’ve seen many friends and acquaintances fall away from the Lord. People who grew up knowing Jesus. People who were on fire for the Lord. People I used to have deep discussions with as we talked about how amazing the Lord is. It’s not like one day they woke up and were like “I think I want to turn away from the Lord today.” No… it was slowly over time. It wasn’t because they wanted to turn away from God, it was because they wanted the pleasures and temptations of the world around them. Whatever their sins were that they struggled, whether out loud or deep within their heart, they kept choosing those sins slowly over time. And slowly over time, Satan was able to tempt them with the “lusts of the world.”

Satan does this to us all, all of the time. He knows that he can’t just get us to fall away from Christ by saying “Hey, why don’t you become a Satanist today?? Why don’t’ you turn away from your faith today??” LOL, that doesn’t work on anyone! It’s slowly and deceptively that he tempts us, to slowly choose our flesh, because he knows it will slowly pull us away from an intimate relationship with Jesus.

Over 3 ½  years ago I was in a car accident that gave me a severe brain injury. Soon after that I discovered I also had 2 debilitating diseases . This put me in a wheelchair and made me bedridden. The only time I left my bed was to go to the bathroom or go to the doctors. Other than that I’ve been in pain every day and have to constantly lay down, cause if I sit up for too long I pass out from the P.O.T.S.  Of course there are many many more symptoms I battle on a daily basis but it’s a bit boring for me to go into all of that!  The point is, that these last few years may have been some of the hardest years, but they’ve also been some of the most beautiful years of my life. Why??? Well though my flesh (literally) has suffered deeply, my Spirit has only drawn closer to the Lord. It’s interesting how sometimes we can feel God the closest in the darkest times of our lives. God is ALWAYS  near and He always wants us to have a deep personal relationship with Him. But the busyness of life, the pleasures of the world, the distractions, the ambitions, the goals we set, these all can keep us from the potential we have of growing deeper in the Lord.

I’m not saying we don’t love Him or seek Him when things are going great in our lives. We often do!!! But for some reason, when a trial hits us and something we treasure is taken from us, we fall on our faces before God. Finally God gets to sit on the throne in our hearts instead of the idols we might have on the throne … it seems whenever a hardship hit me, God showed me that the thing I was grieving often was an idol in my life that I was unaware of. But when those idols disappoint us, whether it be people, work, school, success, romance, family, friends or riches; we finally realize that only God can be our God! God and He alone should be where we find our value, our identity, our purpose, our fulfillment. Yes, God gives us those other things I just listed in our lives as blessings, but that is all they should be. Blessings from God. They should never become too important to us. They should never become our security. I think all of those things listed above had become my security, self esteem/identity, or my number one love, at some point in my life, instead of the Lord.

It wasn’t by my choice that I had these idols exposed to me. It wasn’t until I lost them that I realized that they were too important to me. I’ve lost friends and family members that I had on high pedestals who betrayed me, or fell away from God, or rejected me. Now that I’m flat on my back with these diseases and T.B.I.,  I can’t work a job, or finish my degree. It’s not by my choice, but once I lost my career and the ability to go to college, I saw they were too important to me. I found some of my self esteem and self worth through those things instead of finding it in God alone. With no income and high medical bills I’ve lost all riches and have had to completely rely on the Lord to provide for my bills, and He has!! I realize that I found some security in money and I still battle finding security in money instead of trusting God to provide what I need. There were times after breaking up with boyfriends I would realize that I found some of my self esteem in them, or that they became too important to me. I want God to be my first love always and forever, and sometimes we don’t realize He isn’t our first love until the thing that actually IS our first love is taken from us.

But when the rug of life is pulled out from underneath us and we land on our faces before the Lord, well this can be a mercy in disguise. Who am I to think that I am so strong in the Lord that I can’t fall away???!!! Of course I can fall away. Pride comes before the fall!!! (Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.) I love the Lord, I truly do, I always have, ever since I was a little girl. I was so lucky to be raised with strong believers as parents who taught me about the Lord. I met Jesus at a young age and grew up seeing God’s faithfulness and love. God is so amazing, it would be hard not to love Him (that is if you really know His character and who He really is). But just because I love him doesn’t mean I cant fall away.Scripture declares that “if possible even the elect will fall away.”  (1 Timothy 4:1  Mathew 24:24  2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)

Many, including myself, have wondered that if God is going to heal me of my diseases why is He waiting??? Why is He taking soooo long to heal me??? Why doesn’t He just snap His fingers and fix me right away. But maybe if He did that He knows that I would go back to my busy life and things that should not be idols in my life could become idols again… maybe I would be deceived into slowly giving into my flesh over and over and over for days and months and years until finally God is not near to me anymore. Until I had driven a wedge between the intimacy I have with the Lord.

What if God sees that those things would happen so He has decided to “have mercy” on me and NOT heal me right away to protect me from those scenarios. If this is the case than I don’t care if God never heals me… I mean of course that would be difficult, but I would rather be sick the rest of my life and keep God on the throne of my heart, than to be healed right now but not be as close to the Lord…. Or even possibly fall away from the Lord.

“Father, please have mercy on me and keep me close to you. If it takes trials and suffering to do this then have mercy on me and DON”T take away the trials in my life. If these things bring me closer to you, if this suffering puts you first in my life then I will gladly choose that. If this is part of why you have been healing me slowly then I thank you for healing me slowly. And even if this is not the reason, I still trust your timing and purposes for NOT miraculously healing me.”This is the prayer I now say with gratitude in my heart.

It saddens me as I continue to hear of more and more strong believers that have chosen to follow the world and are slowly falling away from God. We don’t often realize that our sin separates us from God.  (Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.) I thank God for having mercy on me. And I pray that He continues to have Mercy on me and brings me closer and closer to Him, even if it takes suffering to do that, then so be it.

I don’t’ know what you’re going through right now in life. I don’t know what YOUR personal suffering is, and I don’t know the reason WHY God is allowing it to happen in your life. But I do believe that God is more loving than we can possibly imagine. The scriptures say that GOD IS love. So if He is loving enough to leave His throne in heaven, come down to earth, be tortured and die on a cross, all so that we could escape hell and spend eternity with Him, well if that God is allowing you to go through this suffering then there has to be a reason why. I believe God’s heart breaks as He sees us go through these trials. But sometimes He doesn’t stop it because He sees how it affects the bigger picture in the grand scheme of things.

Wherever you’re at in life, I am sorry for the suffering you’re going through. God will be with you through every moment of these hardships. You may not always “feel” him there, but He is. He’s there, crying with you, hugging you, holding you, listening to you, and speaking to you in all sorts of ways.

My hope is that as we realize that maybe suffering can be God’s mercy on us, that we wouldn’t dread and hate and complain about the difficulties we’re facing, but we would be joyful in suffering as scripture tells us.

As always if you need a friend to talk to or pray for you you can always message me on fb at facebook.com//rachelchamplin. I may take awhile to get back to you since I often need help reading and writing “due to my vision problems” but I will pray and I will eventually get back to you .

God bless you my fellow soldiers!!! You’re doing awesome, hang in there, there is good that will be brought out of all of this.

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Trapped in this Tower

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“Rapunzel Rapunzel let down your hair.” We’ve all heard this story, heard this line, and know the ending. Rapunzel lets down her hair and the prince climbs up her hair and rescues her. I never knew I would relate to this story so much. What do I mean?? Well I feel as if I’m stuck in a tower of my own. I’m looking out the “window” for my prince saying “Prince Prince I’ve let down my hair, Please come rescue me from this tower.”

I live in a 4 level house, it’s not a real big house, but there are 4 floors and I am stuck on the top floor (that’s where my bedroom is). Why am I “stuck”?? My TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), my Chronic Lyme Disease, and my POTS (Postural Orthastatic Tachycardia Syndrome) cause me many limitations. Even though I am learning how to walk again, I have certain limitations. One of the limitations is stairs. I can get my legs to move in a forward motion to walk to the bathroom, but when I try to walk down the stairs my brain freezes up from my TBI  and I can’t move my legs or figure out how to take a step down the stairs. The part of my brain that controls motor skills (like moving your legs down stairs)  is injured. It’s like trying to walk on a broken leg… if you use any injured part of your body it doesn’t work like it is supposed to.

Usually the only time I leave my room (my tower) is when my brother or dad carries me down the stairs and out to the car. Other than going to my doctors’ appointments, I live in my room… well two rooms, my room and my parents room (since their room is also on the upstairs floor). Every time I leave my room and hobble over to the bathroom with my cane, I look down the stairs feeling trapped on the 4th floor. I imagine Rapunzel looked out her window and saw everything she couldn’t get to.

What if Rapunzel tried to leave the tower on her own??? She climbed down on her own, and wasn’t strong enough to hold herself up so she fell and hit the ground. She got down the tower, but,  is now injured. She is hurt, and the only medical supplies to help her injuries are inside the tower. So now she has to climb back up that tower, in pain, with the motivation that once she gets back up to the tower there are medical supplies that will help heal her.

This is how it feels for me. When my brother or dad aren’t around to carry me we have to be creative and figure out how to get me down the stairs. The problem is that getting up and down the stairs by myself takes a lot out of my body and puts a lot of stress on my brain injury. The only way to help my body recover is to get my to my bedroom (my tower) and stay there in the dark and quiet. This is the only thing that helps relieve my symptoms. So how do I get down my “tower” by myself???

If I sit at the top of the stairs, I can scoot down one stair at a time. My mom stands there helping me and encouraging me that “I can do it.” As I do this an exhaustion hits my brain and my body, and I get out of breath, feel spinney, and get confused and fatigued.  I usually end up stopping and taking a break every stair or two and lay my head on the wall trying to catch my breath and encourage my self that “I can do it”. But harder than getting down the stairs is trying to figure out how to get me back up the stairs when no one is around to carry me.

Essentially I “crawl” up the stairs.. but  going up is a lot harder than coming down stairs. With every step I crawl up my brain gets even more fatigued. I start breathing hard, and my breathing starts hurting. My mom has to help “push” my body up one stair at a time. I often get stuck halfway up the stairs and just lay there with my head on the stairs thinking “how am I going to get up the rest of these stairs??” With my mom’s help I can get up, but my nerve pain throughout my body (back, arms, legs, hands etc) goes up. I feel exhausted, and can hardly move once I get to my bed.

Thankfully being in my bed, in the dark and quiet, helps relieve my elevated symptoms. This takes at least a few hours. It’s boring and it’s lonely being trapped in the dark and quiet by myself to get my elevated symptoms to go down. Thankfully, I’m not completely alone in my tower. Jesus is there with me in spirit. I talk to Him about  the pain I’m in, and ask for His help and grace to get through it. I talk to Him about my frustration with my body “Why do I have to be trapped in this tower??” He listens to my frustration and brings me comfort. I’m so grateful for His kindness. I’m so grateful He meets me there in that dark, quiet, lonely room and brings peace to my heart.

I think most of us feel “stuck” in our own “towers” at some point or another. Your tower may be very different than mine, but I understand that it can be just as frustrating. You may be stuck in a season of life that you can’t get out of. You wish this season would just pass by so you could get to the next season. Maybe you’re “stuck” going to school and you wish it would just be over, the homework, the classes, the same old boring, stressful assignments. Maybe you feel “stuck” at the same 9am to 5pm job. Every day is the same thing over and over again. Maybe something more traumatic has happened to you , a season of emotional pain and grief and you wish it would just be over. Maybe you have big dreams, but those dreams seem so far away and out of reach- you wish you could reach out and touch those dreams, but you’re stuck in a season that you have to walk through before you can accomplish those dreams.

Stuck, stuck….stuck!!!! I know, it sucks :-/. But one day you will be in a different season. One day I will be able to walk down those stairs again with no symptoms. One day. But when that day comes and we look back at those seasons we felt “stuck” in, what will we think??? Will we wish we had handled it differently?? Will we wish we had embraced that season and tried to absorb all the lessons we could learn through that season?? Will we wish we would have let God grow our character in the ways we needed to grow?? Will we look back and wish we could go back so we could redo that season?? Will we wish we had changed the way we treated others, how we treated God, how we treated ourselves???

Feeling “stuck” or being disappointed in life is not an excuse to treat others poorly, or be upset with God. It’s not an excuse to be pessimistic or feel sorry for ourselves. Jesus told us, “In this life you WILL have trouble.” (John 16:33) He warned us,… so why are we taken by surprise when life isn’t easy, when our dreams die, when we aren’t where we expected to be???

The thing I’m learning is that life is sure to turn out different than we expected. But that doesn’t mean that God can’t use it, it doesn’t mean that good things won’t still happen, it doesn’t mean that dreams will never come true. Sometimes it just means that our dreams will come true in a different way than we planned. If we didn’t have God then our dreams would just die, our lives would just shatter, and our hearts would be hopeless.

BUT our God is “the God of Hope” Romans 15:13. Thank God that He wants to help us, He wants to give us hope, He wants to use us, and He wants to help our dreams come true… so He figures out how to use our trials to make us stronger. He figures out how He can use us in the middle of our trouble. He draws near to us when we are hopeless and we cry out to Him. He sees the gifts and talents He gave to us and He finds a way to use them through the life we didn’t plan. God can use you where you are right now. He may use you in a different way than you expected. Maybe your dream won’t come true the way you planned, but your life is still important!! YOU are still important.

Before I was in my car accident 3 ½ years ago I had dreams. I dreamed of starting teen centers around the world. Teen centers that would help young adults find their potential, that would help them find God. I love people, and I had a heart to reach out to people and let them know God’s love. I wanted to provide comfort, hope, and encouragement to others. So I was pursuing that in the way my mind perceived it would play out. I was going to school majoring in Psychology. I was planning to go to grad school and become a licensed counselor. I thought this would help me be more qualified to start these teen centers. But when my car accident happened, and awakened my Chronic Lyme disease, all of my dreams slowly died. They seemed so far away… would I ever be well enough to go back to school?? How could these dreams come true when I was now disabled, bedridden and completely dependent on others. How could I help others when I was dependent on others to eat, to go to the bathroom, to bathe, etc.

Well during this trial I cried out to God and said “God, I’m completely dependent on others. I’m stuck in a dark room every day and can barely handle talking to people for more than an hour. But my heart wants to help others. How can I do that when I’m stuck on my back??” Well the Lord spoke to my heart and told me to “Write. Write what you’re learning and that will help others.” So I started this blog and that’s what I did. I wrote. I wrote what God was teaching me and how His goodness was carrying me through this trial. Before I knew it I had more readers than I ever expected. I started getting comments that my articles were helping others through their difficult times. And before I knew it, my dream of “ Encouraging, comforting, and spreading hope” started happening. But in a COMPLETELY different way than I expected. God can make your dreams come true as well, but it may be in a COMPLETELY different way than you had expected.

For a long time I thought that this sickness I’ve been battling was a “pause” before I got to my destiny/calling. Then one day God spoke to my heart and showed me that THIS IS part of my destiny. I’m not saying God caused this sickness. It’s an imperfect world and I, like many people got a disease. But God saw how He could use this as part of my story.

You might feel stuck right now, but this IS part of your story. This season is part of your destiny. So what are you going to make of it :)?? You may have been dealt a different hand of cards then you planned, but what are you going to do with the hand you were dealt?? Don’t fold. Keep hope. And let God guide you on how to use this part of your journey :).

“May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” Romans 15:13

Be Joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances. This is the Lord’s will for you.

“In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

 

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Healing is Painful

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 It was around this time last year that I  started intensive treatment for Lyme disease. I had to travel to a medical center in another city, a few hours away from my home, and stay there for a month. I knew that the treatment might make me sicker before it made me better and I was willing to do whatever it took to get better!!! Little did I know just how painful the treatment would be. Sometimes in life healing isn’t all warm and fuzzy. I’m not just referring to physical healing but also to emotional, mental, and spiritual healing. Sometimes healing is painful! Even when the process of healing is painful it is totally worth it when we finally come out of it healed.

 In my case, the Lyme disease had gotten so bad I was unable to control my hands or my legs. I had to be carried every time I got out of bed… even going to the bathroom (which is only across the hall from my bedroom). The nerve pain throughout my back, legs, arms, and head had gotten severe.  Every rib hurt. Every muscle hurt. My bones felt like they were deteriorating…. It felt like someone was squeezing my rib cage slowly breaking my bones and making it extremely difficult to breathe. The Lyme had made its way up my spine to my TBI (traumatic brain injury) so my brain injury symptoms got worse. I had trouble talking for long periods of time. I got confused easily and would stumble over my speech or talk slowly (which anyone who knew me before knows talking slow is not a habit of mine ;)). I was EXTREMELY sensitive to light and sound. I was nauseas and felt like I was spinning all of the time. But I was filled with hope as I left home to go get treatment.

I was most at risk of dying during the months leading up to my treatment. Without treatment  Lyme disease can kill you. I knew I had to get help. I knew this was the road I had to take in order to get better. I knew it was going to be hard. I had been warned that I would get sicker during treatment (kinda like chemotherapy) and I was ready for that.

My heart swelled with joy as I thought about how life would be when my symptoms got better from Lyme treatment. The doctor had put me on pre-treatments for 3 months before he would allow me to start the main treatment. I was so frail, and so sick that he had to build up my immune system before my body would be able to handle the 4 weeks of IV antibiotics. Finally the day had come and I was anxious to get started… but before they could start my treatment the doctor sent me to a hospital to have a PICC line put in me (a tube that doctors insert through a vein in your arm that travels up to your heart).

I was told that I wouldn’t feel anything when they inserted the PICC line, but my luck wasn’t so good. They gave me a shot to make me go numb in my arm before they inserted the PICC line. Unfortunately it didn’t work and I could painfully feel them start pushing the tube up my arm. I tried to just suck it up and wait for it to be over. But they had a problem and after sticking it up a few inches it got stuck and they had to pull it out and try another vein. When I told them I could feel it and it hurt they gave me a 2nd shot to numb my arm. Again they tried sticking the tube up my arm and again I could feel it as they had trouble pushing it up my vein. My doctor later told me he thinks I went into a venial spasm (which basically means your vein spasms in and out so all the nerves in your vein squeeze against the PICC line making it extremely painful).

I was told that usually  this procedure takes around 15 minutes. Mine took over 2 hours as they stuck the line in and pulled it out. They’d go half way up my arm and then take the whole thing out (which hurt like crazy when they pulled it out).. Then they’d try another vein but that too would go into a spasm. The nurse performing the procedure felt so bad  knowing she was causing me pain. I turned my head away trying not to watch and was looking at my momma. But as I felt the harsh pain, my eyes swelled with tears and I looked away from my mom so she wouldn’t know I was in pain. My mom would ask me “are you ok honey” but I had trouble speaking. Finally I let on that it was painful. I could tell my mom was just dying inside as she watched her baby lay there in such pain for another 2 hours .

That procedure was  just the start of how difficult the treatment would be. My doctor said he had never worked with a Lyme Disease patient who was as sick as I was. So the normal side effects had intensified in my case. Normally the patients are taken to the 2nd floor where there are recliners and windows to look out. But my POTS (Postural Orthastatic Tachycardia Syndrome) was so bad I couldn’t lay in a recliner without passing out.  I had to be completely flat on my back.

They kept me downstairs in a room that wasn’t set up for this type of treatment. It was a small room with a hard, flat examining table. That was the only place I could lay flat and the only place they could make dark. I was so sensitive to any light so they kept me in the pitch dark lying on an uncomfortable hard table with an IV pumping up my arm for many hours a day.

I couldn’t listen to music since I was so sensitive to sound. And I couldn’t talk since my brain injury made it even more difficult to speak.  My amazing mommy would sit in the dark with me and encourage me through it. My dad and brother Nic would also make trips up to Ft Collins to support me through it. Most of my siblings and their spouses also made a trip to come and see me for my birthday during that month. Their love helped give me strength of heart to keep fighting to get better.

They were truly God-sends. I don’t know what I would of done without my amazing family’s support, or without my many friends praying me through it.  God gave me what I needed to keep going. He usually does that for us through our difficult seasons. He gives us just what we need to keep going. It’s easy to focus on the darkness of our trials, but we have to look for those gifts God gives us to get us through.

I became so weak and so sick during the treatment that my body was like the clay animation figure, Gumby! My mom or whoever else was there would have to pull my torso up from lying down and they would move my arms and legs for me and help pick me up to get me in and out of the wheelchair.  The PICC line made my arm really sore the whole month and as soon as they started my IVs my arm was so tender that it really hurt feeling the IV flow up my veins.

But that was small compared to my other symptoms. My migraines were horrible, my nausea was intense. My brain hurt. I lost my speech so I couldn’t really talk or convey what was going on. I couldn’t even lift my arm without help… my mom would have to hold my neck up for me as I took a drink of water. The nerve pain through my back, arms, legs,  hands, and feet was the worst pain I had ever felt. Then when they stopped the IVs I’d be in such intense pain and extra sick the rest of the night. I had nightmares and so much insomnia… by the time I fell asleep it was time to get up again for another day of treatment. So there I was laying on an uncomfortable table for 6 hours with horrible pain throughout every part of my body.

My mom stayed by my side every day in the dark, quiet room while she witnessed her daughter suffer. She was my angel, my strength, and my comfort through that time. She was another gift God gave me to help me get through. I was determined to keep on fighting and complete the treatment. I knew if I could get through it the benefits would outweigh the difficulties I was facing.  I remember my mom seeing how sick I was and gently saying “You don’t have to keep doing this. We can go home. We can stop treatment if it’s too much.”  But I never even considered going home until I finished my treatment…. Actually I wanted them to keep me there extra time just to make sure we had done everything we could to try and kill the Lyme.

The treatment was extremely painful but with God’s grace I got through it! God carried me through it. And He sent me enough encouragement to keep me going. He knew that my family visiting me, and  all the letters and fb comments you all left for me would bring a smile to my heart and would give me extra strength to go on.

The doctors didn’t really tell me that the next 6 months after treatment might be more painful than before treatment as I continued to detox the dead Lyme bacteria in my body. But when I started seeing progress I was sure glad I did it! I had lost control of my arms and legs and the next month or two after treatment I gained control of my limbs again. That was so huge for me!!

Since the Lyme Disease had made my brain fog and TBI symptoms worse I was so excited when those symptoms started getting better. For instance I would start talking louder, clearer, and faster than I had in a long time. My thoughts became clearer for me and my brain didn’t get “stuck” nearly as much as it used to.

My case ended up being more complicated as I am healing slower than most.  Soon my doctor discovered 3 different types of parasites in my body that had multiplied due to my weak immune system and started reeking havoc on my fragile body. Basically the parasites preyed on the weaknesses the Lyme disease had left behind.  Because we had lived in India, my doctor referred me to a parasite specialist who discovered 3 additional types of parasites (6 total) and has me currently going through a treatment program for that… and of course it hasn’t been easy.

The last few weeks I’ve been so sick from the parasite treatment with horrible nausea and the room feels like I am spinning worse than it always does. My nerve pain is higher and more intense. I just lay  in bed knowing that even though the sickness is worse right now, in the long run its gonna be better once the parasites are dead and no longer in my body.

Isn’t that kinda what our emotional wounds are like, parasites that make us emotionally sick?! The sad memories and the negative thoughts we have are like parasites in our hearts and minds. They’re nasty little things that need us as a host in order to stay alive.

Without help, I  think that our emotional wounds can kill our spirits. They suck the life out of us. With time they can cause us to become bitter, or fearful so we never live or love as much as we could. We have to recognize the symptoms of our pains and then choose to get help.

The good news is that God can heal us from these wounds if we ask Him to. But often the “treatment” is slower and more painful than we expect. He cleans us out and puts His healing on our hearts and minds . We slowly start to feel better. We start killing the negative thoughts. The sad memories just become memories. We forgive those who hurt us.

We all  have hurts, scars, or scabs left behind from what others, or from what we have done to ourselves.  We’ve all been through our own trials, and often those trials leave behind painful memories. We attain hurts that go deep into our souls. Sometimes we are silently tortured by the wounds left on our inner being. We don’t want to feel the pain… but sometimes we don’t want to get healing when we realize that the process of healing may be painful. But let me assure you it is worth it!

There have been many times that I asked God for healing in my heart for different hurts or issues. As I continued to ask Him, He started to answer that prayer. The thing is that we have to face the painful memories before we can work through them. We will eventually find our destination –healing. But why do we have to work through these memories??? Well we can never find freedom or healing from our wounds until we face them head on. Denial might be a crutch, but it is never a cure. So God brings back these memories and often shows us what happened in our hearts when those trials occurred. He often asks us to forgive those that left these wounds on our hearts… sometimes we have to even forgive ourselves.

He shows us patterns of behavior that occurred due to those tribulations. He shows us coping methods that aren’t healthy. He shows us wounds that turned to bitterness and unforgiveness, anger or hatred, self mutilation, and many other sins that we may have allowed to be a result from the hurts left behind.

I can’t tell you how often I just see the dirt in my heart and just pray over and over “Purify my heart God.” I love that song psalm “Create in me a clean heart Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence oh God. Take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of my salvation, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51)

As God cleanses us, and comforts us , He brings us to our destination—Healing.

I may have a lot more healing to go through physically (and emotionally too) but I’m much farther than I was last year. Sometimes it’s easy for me to get discouraged since I am still trapped in bed every day with so many symptoms. I often get impatient and feel like this is the slowest healing ever lol!!! But the important thing for me to remember is that I am healing. No I’m not healed yet, but I am in the process of healing.

No I’m not where I’d like to be, but this is a journey and God is on the ride helping me through each day.  I praise Him for the healing that has taken place and I cry to Him about the sickness left behind. He is there to listen to me and help me through whatever I am going through. His strength is the only way we can get through this difficult life and still find joy along the journey. This sure is a Radical Road we’re on. But it is an amazing road we were destined for.

So if you’re going through hardship in your life I just want to encourage you to ask God to help you get through it. One day at a time… sometimes all we can handle is one minute at a time. If you have any hurt ask God for healing and He will help you start to heal. The healing might be painful, but it is worth it.

God bless you and be with you, and be near you on the radical road you’re on. If you’d like to follow my journey on facebook visit : https://www.facebook.com/RadicalRoad/

Psalm 118:17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds

Psalm 107:20 He sends forth His word and heals them and rescues them from the pit and destruction.

Psalm 34:15, 17 The eyes of the Lord are toward the [uncompromisingly] righteous and His ears are open to their cry. When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles.

Psalm 46:1 God is our Refuge and Strength [mighty and impenetrable to temptation], a very present and well-proved help in trouble.

 

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What God HAS done, not what He Hasn’t

I’m always encouraged when I look at how far I’ve come physically from my medical issues, and I’m discouraged when I look at how far I have to go. What I’m referring to is the debilitating illness I’ve faced for almost 3 years. I have Lyme disease, a Brain Injury, and something called P.O.T.S. (Postural, Orthostatic, Tachycardia, Syndrome).  All of these have worked against each other and put me into a wheelchair. I live my life in bed since I have difficulty even sitting up. All of us are facing our own trials. Yours may be different than mine. But regardless of what we’re facing, it’s important to focus on what God HAS done in our lives, instead of what He Hasn’t.

I notice that when I look at how far I’ve come and the progress I’ve made, it brings a smile to my heart. It encourages me and it makes me grateful for what God’s done, and all the prayers He HAS answered. But when I look at how far I have to go, it steals my joy and discourages me. Soon a cloud of gloom surrounds me and I fall into self pity…. Hmm I wonder which thoughts I should try to focus on?! Should I focus on the ones that make me grateful or the ones that discourage me ;)?!

I know I talk a lot about looking at things positively-looking at the glass “half full.” But the reason I always bring this up is because it is something God is continually teaching me. It is a choice I am faced with every day, every hour, every minute. We all are faced with this decision. How are we going to look at our circumstances?? Are we going to look at what God HAS done or what He Hasn’t??? It is difficult to fight our negative “poor me” thoughts. But when we look at what we HAVE instead of what we don’t it brings joy to our souls.

Paul wrote this following verse while he was in prison:

Phillipians 4:11

“For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

When I first wake up in the morning I’ve trained myself to take a few minutes and thank God that He saved my life and that He has given me another day here on earth. Each day is another “gift” to be grateful for. Doing this puts me off to a good start and brings refreshment to my soul… I even go on to thank God for the cup of coffee my mom brings me every morning… No joke, I think coffee is a heavenly gift 😉 lol..

The truth is that it is easiest for me to wake up in the morning and the first thing I notice is how bad my nerve pain throughout my back, legs, and hands is… It can set me into a gloomy mood…and then the rest of the day I’m thinking “How long is it going to take for my complete healing?? When will I not need my wheelchair anymore?? When will my vision be restored???!”

But an impatient attitude doesn’t help me, it just robs me of my peace. A grateful attitude brings peace, joy, comfort, and hope to us, and praise to God. This is the way I want to live my life. Every minute we have to make decisions on what thoughts we’re going to think and what attitude we’re going to have. Our attitude affects everything. So it’s important we try to have a grateful one.

Matthew 7:22-23

“The eye is the Lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness.”

Jesus wasn’t talking about our physical eyeballs here. He’s talking about the way we view our lives, the way we view people, the way we view trials. When we allow ourselves to look at our trials and go into self-pity, anger, and bitterness, we are seeing the world through “unhealthy eyes” and our “whole body will be full of darkness.” I think there are two different types of “darkness” we fall into.

  1. Sin and letting evil slowly come into our hearts by listening to the lies of Satan and becoming bitter and cold.

 

  1. Sadness, and despair-emotional darkness we our tormented by.

 

We have to FIGHT to see the world through God’s light. We have to desperately ask God to change our hearts and give us the grace to see what He IS doing, instead of being angry at what He’s NOT doing.

My sister got married last month to a great guy. She is so happy!! I was so excited for  her and her fiancé when they got engaged!!! My sister and I have always been very close friends and always dreamed of the day she’d find the right guy to marry!!! But soon after she got engaged, I realized that I was so sick and impaired that I couldn’t throw her a wedding shower, her bachelorette party, or help decorate for the wedding. I wouldn’t be able to be there the morning of the wedding to help her put on her wedding dress and do her make-up. I wouldn’t be able to walk down the aisle and stand up next to her as her maid-of-honor. Sadness hit me as I realized the reality. She’s done sooo much for me in my life and I wanted to be there for her.

We had to do a lot of planning to make it so I could attend the wedding. My brain injury still makes it where I can’t handle noise and light or new environments outside of my house. When I’m around one of these factors my pain goes waaaay up throughout my body, I get migraines, I start to lose my ability to speak, and I start getting disoriented where I don’t know exactly what’s going on around me. We knew I’d be lucky to make it through the reception,  but I had to have a dark quiet room to take breaks in so my brain would calm down and my pain would go down (dark and quiet are the ONLY things that help my brain injury when my brain gets “over stimulated”).

My younger brother was going to have to push me down the aisle in a wheelchair since I couldn’t walk. The problem is I could only sit up in a wheelchair for a short time before the P.O.T.S.(Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) would make me pass out. The only thing that stops me from passing out is lying down. So once I watched my beautiful sister walk down the aisle, my brother had to come pick me up out of the wheelchair and lay me down on the front aisle for the rest of the ceremony. I kept my sunglasses on for most of the day trying to block out the light and I had to lay down on a row of chairs for the reception as well.

Even taking pictures of my sister and myself together was tricky. My sister was so precious and kind. It was her wedding day but she was looking out for me and wanted to make sure we didn’t push it too much with the pictures so I’d still be able to make it to the ceremony. We got me out of the wheelchair for the pictures and I sat up next to her…. As my POTS kicked in I started falling down, and my sister just let me lean on her as our amazing photographer (Klocke Photography) worked with me and my limitations. After pictures were over, my best friend took me back to a dark quiet room. The simple pictures caused my pain to go up, my vision to blur, me to feel nauseas and dizzy, and a breathing attack. I was just hoping the breathing would calm down for the ceremony (and thank God it did).

Come the reception I was sooo out of it I couldn’t even move my arms or legs without help. We reserved a hotel room for me at the venue so I could be in the dark, and quiet to recharge. I lost the ability to speak, so I was pointing to try to communicate. We knew this would happen so we filmed my “Maid of Honor” speech ahead of time and played it at the reception. Usually at wedding receptions I’d be socializing and talking to all the people at each table, and I’d be on the dance floor until it ended. But I couldn’t do either of these things. I laid on a row of chairs on my mom’s lap and watched as much as I could before I had to be picked up and pushed back to the dark, quiet hotel room to recharge again.

During the wedding day I had two ways to look at this situation.

  1. What God had done,

Or

  1. What He hadn’t.

The truth is that God had done so much for me. For one, I could of died in the car accident 2 1/2 years ago, but I didn’t. I realized that it was a gift that I was going to be able to attend the wedding and witness my sister’s happiness from the front row—here on earth—instead of from heaven. My sister still insisted on me being the “Maid of Honor” and I was so touched and honored by this. I was lucky to have my brother Nic (whom I call “Budster” since he’s my best buddy) walk/push me down the aisle in my wheelchair and then pick me up and carry me to the front row to lay down. He is so kind and gentle with me and I was so blessed to have him take care of me.

I was also so blessed to have my best friend Joy take care of me and help me get dressed, get in and out of the wheelchair, and stay with me in the dark quiet room while everyone else was out celebrating. I had a family who loved me so much and wanted me there so badly they figured out how to work AROUND my sickness to get me to the wedding. When I think of my AMAZING family and close friends who have got me through this trial, I sometimes think I’m one of the luckiest girls in the world.

I have so much to be grateful for. I have so much God HAS given me… why should I let my eyes look at things in a dark way and let my whole body be filled with “darkness” like that scripture says.

I heard a pastor on TV once say that the Lord taught him that the things we fix our eyes on ARE the things that grow in our lives. And the things that grow in our lives eventually become who WE ARE…. WOW, that statement hit me hard. Who do I want to be?? Do I want to be bitter, depressed, and negative?? Because if my thoughts are focused on what God HASN’T done, then that is who I will become. No, I want to be a warrior for Christ. I want to be someone who loves Him with all of my heart.. with ALL of my being. In order to be that person I have to fix my eyes on what God HAS done for me.

I need to praise Him whether He’s on my timeline or not. I need to worship Him not only for what He HAS done for me, but simply for who He is. If He never does anything again for me in my entire life, He still deserves praise. Because of WHO He is. He is amazing; He is so loving, forgiving, merciful, and full of kindness. He is faithful to us even when we aren’t faithful to Him. He sees the best in us, even when we can’t see anything good in ourselves.  He deserves our worship everyday simply because—He IS God. He is the one who gave us our very existence.

After all, God, the creator of everything left heaven to come down here and be crucified so we could spend eternity with Him. If that is the ONLY good thing that ever happens to us in this life on earth, it is reason to rejoice and give thanks every day :).

I thank you all for your sweet comments, messages, and your prayers you’ve sent my way. God uses you all to encourage and inspire me. I hope that you can be encouraged and challenged to make a habit of looking at what God HAS done in your life instead of what He hasn’t. I hope that you can realize that what we fix our eyes on is what grows in our minds and hearts. And what grows becomes who we are. Who do you want to be??!

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