Turn Up The Heat!

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Ever feel like you take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back? Yes! I think all of us have. Whether that is in repairing relationships, building our careers, being a good parent, or making progress in our health.

After 5 years trapped in a dark room due to my brain injury, Lyme disease, and POTS all I’ve wanted was to have a semi normal life. Two years ago I got on a medicine that changed my life. I used to pass out if I sat up too long or if I stood up. But God used this medicine to change my life. My muscles had atrophied so I had to learn how to get out of the wheelchair and walk again. It’s been so exciting!!! But it’s also been incredibly frustrating. Every time I make some sort of progress I feel like life throws me a curveball. I imagine many of you also feel that way with whatever you’re going through.

I suppose a lot of my frustration stems out of my western mentality to plan my life, and watch my dreams come true. Then when they don’t I’m all thrown off. Instead of taking life as it comes I do everything I can to change my circumstances to line up with what I want. Now I feel incredibly grateful to have been born in America, a place where we are not just allowed to dream, but we are taught to dream. Knowing that you can work hard to achieve whatever type of life and goals you desire can be a beautiful thing. But when taken to the extreme it can be a prison that steals the joy out of our present day lives when we have not reached those dreams.

My parents were missionaries in India so my 4 siblings and I spent almost 5 years growing up over there. Most Indians believe they are born into a caste, and there is no changing it. You’re not allowed to dream of a better life, you are supposed to accept the caste and life you were born into. Sadly, poverty, illness, and tragedy strike them all the time.

Those considered in the lower castes are shocked when they find out that God Himself came down, was tortured, and died on a cross all so He could spend eternity with them!! They feel loved and shocked :)!! They are eternally grateful. When they commit their lives to Jesus there is no turning back. They are often persecuted, and killed for their faith. But within their trials, they are still amazed at the love of a God who died to be with them. They will follow Him and His ways of love, and forgiving their enemies through the tragedies striking them.

Here in America many of us are not blown away at Jesus dying on the cross for us. Instead we are blown away that a loving God would allow bad things to happen to us. We make wagers with Him and tell Him if He does “this or that” THEN we will follow Him. However, if something bad strikes us we throw our fists in the air telling God we hate Him and we turn our backs on Him. I often come across people that say, “If bad things happen then He is not a loving God. I am now an atheist.”

Sometimes we turn to other religions or philosophies that embrace “love and peace” not realizing that Jesus is the one who originally taught love, and a peace that surpasses understanding. He taught true love. He didn’t just teach loving friends and strangers. He didn’t just teach us to love those who have different beliefs. Jesus taught us to love people that put us down, hate us, make fun of us, and judge us. He taught us to lay our lives down for them. He didn’t just teach this with His words, but He led by example when He allowed Himself to be crucified on the cross for our sins so that ALL of us have a gift of eternity with Him if we want it. His love never ceases to amaze me :).

So as I continue to go on this healing journey I continue to have obstacles come my way. I started to walk and got planters fasciitis on both feet 2 years ago. I still have it. My oxygen drops so I often have to wear oxygen and stay home. I began to leave the house a little more and then I tore the meniscus in both knees. It’s painful, but annoying. Physical therapy can’t fix it. I need surgery. I’m not allowed to have surgery cause the anesthesia will set my brain injury back. A week ago I fell down bruising my ribs and tearing the cartilage in them. It will be at least a few months before they heal. Yesterday I bent over and hurt my back. It feels like one thing after the next. I always have nerve pain throughout my body but now I’ve added extra pain from all these injuries to my feet, knees, ribs, and back.

This morning I woke up in so much pain I could barely move. I felt like the heat had been turned up in my life. Satan is trying to discourage me. But as I think of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego I am encouraged. So as I lay in bed right now trying not to move I decided I’m not going to give into Satan’s lies of hopelessness. I’m going focus on what God’s doing, hang onto Him, and if I have to lay here in pain I can still type!!! So I’m going to encourage my fellow brothers and sisters out there!!

In the book of Daniel chapter 3 we read about Shadrach Meshach, and Abednego. If you haven’t heard this story these three Jews were taken captive into Babylon during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar. King Nebuchadnezzar decreed that everyone in Babylon bow down and worship a large golden idol he had built. But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would not. They couldn’t give into what society told them to do. They couldn’t comply with what everyone around them was doing. They were convicted that they were only to worship the one true God. Because of this King Nebuchadnezzar ordered that they were to be thrown into a furnace to burn to death.

They were being persecuted for staying true to their faith. Nebuchadnezzar was so furious he ordered the furnace to be turned up 7 times hotter. These three men were bound and the soldiers threw them into the furnace. Actually the flames were so hot that the soldiers that threw them into the furnace died from getting too close.

But something very strange happened. When the three of them were thrown into the furnace they did not die. Instead Nebuchadnezzar all of a sudden saw not three men in the furnace, but a fourth figure with them. He ordered his servants to open the furnace and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out healthy and alive. The king was so moved by the miracle that just happened before him that he proclaimed that their God was indeed a God like no other.

The disciple Paul warned us in the New Testament (Ephesians 6:12) that our fight was not against the physical, it was against the spiritual. When we take a stand for love, for truth, for Jesus Christ, the devil often turns the heat up in our lives. Our families and friends betray and reject us. People make up lies about us. Finances struggle. Our health fails. Hopelessness sets in. All of the dreams we had shatter. This is the furnace in our lives being turned up 7 times hotter.

What the good news? Jesus is there with us in the furnace just as He was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. We might feel the heat, but if we hang onto Jesus through it we will not be destroyed. We will be a light to those around us that watch. You never know how God will use your life or circumstances to affect others.

It’s interesting to me how it’s often the most persecuted countries where Christianity is growing. Why? Because the light of these persecuted believer pierces the hearts of those watching around them. They see the truth and though they know they will be persecuted for it, they give up everything to follow Jesus. Why? Because as Jesus said in John 14:6 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” When you truly understand how much God loves you, your life is forever changed. It is shattered. Your perceptions of everything are broken. You are humbled, you are hopeful, you are revived. That’s the effect Jesus has on us :).

As I said right now I’m lying here trying not to move because the pain is so bad. My furnace is being turned up, but Jesus is with me and I will stand for Him. I may be having trouble right now getting out of bed without someone’s help BUT I will not let that silence me from telling others the good news about Jesus Christ :). He is everything to me, and if none of my dreams ever come true that’s okay because the best thing already came true in my life- Accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior. It’s the best decision I ever made. It’s the hardest decision I ever made. But it’s also the easiest decision I ever made. 🙂

Whatever you’re going through do not lose hope. I know it feels like it’s just one hurdle after the next!! Even when you make some progress you fall down again. But God is with you and whether or not your dreams come true He can make your life count. He can make each day wonderful. It won’t be easy. But when we spend time with Him, we see everything more clearly. The things that mattered start to fall away and our spirit starts to be at peace. Don’t give up. Keep going. You’ve come this far. Yes, trials have happened. But remind yourself of everything in your life God HAS brought you through. You are still alive and kicking!! 🙂

So no matter how high the heat is turned up let’s stand. Let’s stand with Jesus. Let’s shine. Let’s hold onto Him. He is with us. So turn up the heat devil, we’re gonna stand and shine for the Savior and Lord who died and rose again for us!!!

Ephesians 6:12
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Deuteronomy 31:6
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

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Reborn

It’s been quIMG_20190325_184300598_BURST000_COVER (3)ite some time since I’ve written a blog. I’ve been undergoing more treatment for Lyme disease these past 6 months, I’m more active since I am not completely bedridden, and I have been working on a book. I have found that writing a book is so much more detailed than blogs because of all the research involved. So I haven’t been writing as many articles.

Because I am no longer completely bedridden, a few days ago I got to witness the birth of my BEAUTIFUL niece. It was incredible!!! Since then I’ve been pondering how Jesus said we must be “born again.” That term is used so commonly that I don’t always think about the literal meaning.

During my sister’s labor, her husband, and I awaited the birth of their baby. I knew my niece was coming any second, but when she did come I was AMAZED at how perfect she was. No assembly required!!! She came out with two hands, two feet, little fingers, fingernails, and hair. Her vocal cords were formed when she whimpered. Her reflexes were working when she flailed her little hands.

John 3:3
“Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’”

Jesus was speaking to Nicodemus who was a spiritual teacher. His statement of being born again perplexed Nicodemus since he took it very literal. He even asked Jesus, “How can someone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” But Jesus was talking about being born spiritually a second time. “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the spirit gives birth to spirit” said Jesus.

When I was younger I thought that when you gave your life to Jesus you were “born again.” That is true. What I’ve learned as an adult is that giving your life to Jesus is a daily decision. Along with that daily decision Jesus renews our spirit daily. The way I naturally see the world changes drastically when I give my heart to the Lord. He changes my perspective to see things in a new way.

My spirit was “born again” when I first gave my life to Jesus. He softened my heart, and I became more aware of God’s kingdom, which is a spiritual kingdom. Since we live in the world we are CONSTANTLY bombarded with the way the world thinks not the truth of God’s ways.

I’ve spoken many times about how trials often lead us to cry out to God. Often when things fall apart we fall on our knees. This time with the Lord can humble us and make us a new person. We can be “born again” if you will, through the trials. My health for 6+ years has been a constant trial. But it’s also been a constant blessing because I can see the beauty that God brings out of it. So much of that beauty is that I spent more time with Him, and in that secret place I was renewed. I was being reborn.

So I’m having to go to God, spend time with Him, spend time in His word, spend time getting to know Him, and with that comes fruit. As I spend time with Him I naturally have more of His love for everyone. When I spend time with Him I’m able to give grace, and love to those who have hurt me. When I spend time with Him, I see HOW much He loves me (how much He loves each of us) and I’m able to forgive myself and others more easily.

If you’ve read any of my earlier blogs you know that I was in a car accident that caused a severe brain injury. With the pain and exhaustion of the Lyme disease, my body was also dealing with the symptoms of the brain injury. Due to that injury I could not handle light, or sound. If I was around it I got violently sicker for days. I could not be around people for more than 15 minutes. I could not handle leaving my bedroom. Any stimulation to the brain, like new sights, sounds, or people caused severe nerve pain throughout my body. Because of this I lived for hours and hours every day alone in the dark.

I wasn’t really alone… Yes, there were times I felt alone, but I knew that God said He will never, “leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5).  I clung onto that. I knew that God was with me whether I felt Him or not. Knowing He was with me gave me peace. Since I couldn’t do much I talked to God a lot in those dark hours.

Often memories from the past would come to my mind. I knew God was bringing back painful memories so I could walk through them with Him and be healed. He also would convict me of different things in my life I wasn’t even aware I was doing. Conviction is never God looking down on us. It’s Him showing us where we are not walking in His ways so that we can change and live a better life.

There was about a year and a half that the pain in my body was so intense. My bones felt like they were being crushed. My body felt like it was starting to decompose from within. I was losing my ability to use my hands and legs. I knew I was dying and so did the doctors. The amazing thing is that when I felt the life leaving my physical body, my spirit was more alive than ever. I was more keenly aware of God’s kingdom, of Heaven, of the spiritual realm around me on earth. I was aware that if I was about to enter Heaven it was a gift from God. Life on earth is a gift. But the next life into Heaven is also a gift.

As I think about my newborn niece who is only a few days old, I see the beauty and perfection in the way her body has been formed in her mother’s womb. Our bodies often come into this earth perfect. But later in life if we were to get an infection, and had to have our leg amputated, only by a miracle would that leg grow back. Well Jesus said our spirit had to be “born again.” We come into earth with our spirit, but with time it gets infected. Our thinking is selfish. We start to believe lies as truth. Then when we find the Lord He gives us a new spirit that is “born again.”

Often my spirit can become infected again with wrong thinking, but as I invite Jesus into my life daily He daily renews and reforms my spirit. It’s a process. We are never perfect. But Jesus IS perfect. So if we cling onto the one who is perfect, and let Him constantly grow and change us, that’s a good place to be.

My trial of health took me to a dark place literally. It’s like I was in the womb again. When a baby is in the womb they are alone, in the dark, and secluded from others. Yet, they are growing every day. The process of birth is probably tiring on the baby as they come out of their mother’s body and into the world. But they come into the world with the organs, and body they need to thrive in it. In that dark room alone with God, in the sickness, in the pain, God was growing me. And now that my health is getting much better I’m coming back into the world with the arms and legs (spiritually) that I need to thrive in it.

Your trial may be health, it may be relational, it may be financial, or something else. But be encouraged that as you cling onto the Lord through this dark time He is renewing your spirit daily (whether you know it or not). If you aren’t going through a hardship in life keep clinging onto the Lord day by day!

Find moments of being in that secret place with Him. That may be on the drive to work, or when you’re having your morning coffee. But as you listen to His Spirit and allow Him to change you and mold you you’re being reborn every day. It may be painful. Killing our flesh is painful. But when I think of my newborn niece and how beautiful she is, I think that’s what our spirits look like as they are being reborn.

Jeremiah 1:5
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.”

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Going Places

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I’ve loved traveling for as long as I can remember!! Since my parents were missionaries to India when I was a kid, I got to experience more travel than most of my friends. I loved new experiences. I loved seeing different climates, people, cultures etc. I loved airplanes… of course I was a lot smaller back then and fit in the airplane seats more comfortably ;).  I remember thinking the airports themselves were fascinating!!

In all my travels, I never knew that my greatest adventure would be 5 years of illness that caused me to be bedridden and live in a dark, quiet room. God was faithful, He always is, and this would be my greatest travel experience yet.

Instead of experiencing cultures and scenery I experienced heavenly realms and lessons of long-suffering. Long suffering is one of the fruits of the spirits listed in the Bible (Galatians 5). “Long suffering” is not one we often talk about. Talking about the other fruits are more pleasant “Love, joy, peace, etc.” But for me I’ve often learned the lessons of love, joy, and peace from the longsuffering in my life.

When my family went through persecution and had to flee my home in India in the middle of the night, I learned from my parents that we had to “love” our enemies. We had to love and pray for those who persecuted us. When I went through lonely, or boring times of life, the Lord taught me to appreciate everything, to find my joy in Him (a long story for another time). Through 5 years of longsuffering illness He taught me that peace is only found in Him. He taught me to be grateful for the trials because of what they can produce within us… that is IF we run to God through them and give Him our broken hearts day by day.

When I was 16 and got my driver’s license it was one of the most exciting, freeing experiences!! I loved driving and I loved the freedom it gave me. The first road trip I took where I was old enough to drive was the best!! I was quick to volunteer to drive for as many of the hours as my family could stand. I enjoyed driving on those loooong highways with cornfields and blue skies all around. The windows down, the wind in my hair, the beat of the happy music playing on the stereo, the prayers/conversations with Jesus I’d have while driving. The jokes I’d make with my family along the way. I loved it all.

I’m grateful for those experiences. Especially since I’m in my twenties and can no longer drive. Due to my health and permanent vision damage I can’t drive anymore. But maybe it was time for me to get out of the driver’s seat and let Jesus take the wheel. It was time for me to get in the passenger’s seat and let Him teach me whatever was on His heart. It was time to let Him take my spirit, my soul, to places untraveled. It was time to let go. It was time to “let God”.

My stubbornness and pride were roadblocks from the journey Jesus was taking me on. But He so kindly works with our hearts, heals us, and moves those roadblocks aside. My unforgiveness and bitterness were from brokenness and hurt. A broken road that Jesus was willing to take me through and repair, one piece at a time. My independence and ambition, were characteristics God made me with, they were good characteristics. But slowly I had let them become so important to me that I found some of my value from what I could accomplish instead of from who I am (God’s kid).

Through those years of pain, suffering, difficulty breathing, complete dependence on others, God took me to so many beautiful places with Him. He changed my heart, softened me, healed me. He changed my view on so many things. He gave me peace. He deepened my love for Him and for others. He helped me give more grace to myself and to others. He helped me lose control, which helped free my heart.

Understanding God’s love for us in a new way was and is amazing. It’s life changing. Though my body and organs weren’t functioning, one organ (my heart) felt like it was functioning in the way God intended it to (metaphorically speaking). My body was dying from the Lyme Disease, but my spirit was more alive and aware of God’s love than ever before.

I was very aware of Heaven. I longed for Heaven… mostly because I longed for more of God, for more of His presence, I just wanted to be with Him. Yes, my body was miserable and it would’ve been nice to leave the suffering of this world and live in Heaven, the most beautiful place ever!! But that’s not what drove me to crave going there. I just wanted to be with my Lord. This life is so short, whether I would’ve died at age 22 or whether I live to be 100, it is a blink of an eye. And our eternity, with Jesus in Heaven, in complete beauty and utter joy, is something I can’t even convey in words. But the joy we experience there will erase every hurt we ever experienced on Earth.

Now that my health is improving I still have the hope to travel this beautiful world one day. I still desire to meet people in every nation and share Jesus with the hurting and broken around the world. But even if I never have the ability to travel the way I dream, I know that the travel we do with our bodies in this world vs the travel we do in our souls with Jesus, have no comparison. As Isaiah 55:9 says, “His ways our higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts.” To me that means that the things He desires for us are way more fulfilling than the things we desire for ourselves. The thoughts He wants to share with us in the secret place, are more incredible than the thoughts we think on our daily basis

In that dark, quiet room, in that place of contentment and peace was an outer shell (my body) of severe pain, and horrible weakness. I was a body failing but a soul thriving. There is no explanation for that except one- Jesus. He is the only one that can take something as horrible as losing everything and make it into an experience where you gain everything. I didn’t gain health or riches or fame or success, but I gained a spirit that was more in-tuned with our Heavenly Father’s spirit. I gained a heart freed from insecurities and hurts. A broken spirit turned into a resting ground.

I don’t know how to put into words the journey the Lord has taken me on. But I know I would choose this journey over a hundred travels on this Earth. I would choose knowing Jesus in a deeper way than “all my dreams coming true.” Now I have many desires, but really just one dream- To know and love Jesus all the days of my life (here on earth and in Heaven). Because He really is that good, that awesome, that incredible!! If you don’t know Him, or you want to know Him better, take the time to spend with Him. His hand is reached out to us, so reach back. Grab His hand, and let Him take you on the incredible journey He has planned for you.

“The Lord bless you my friends and keep you. The Lord make His face shine upon you.”

Numbers 6:24-25 “If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol (the nether world, the place of the dead), behold, You are there.”

Psalm 139:8  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you  are there.

As always if you need prayer or someone to talk to you can reach me at my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RadicalRoad/

Due to my health I sometimes take a long time to respond, but in the meantime I will be praying for you my dear friends. Thank you for your support and for following me.

Photo by NIC photography: https://www.facebook.com/NIC-Photography-553186744732014/

I’ve recently started posting videos at my youtube page:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOIG3k9tTrzzw0gybOa-4Yg

Or you can find videos on my facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/pg/RadicalRoad/videos/?ref=page_internal

 

 

 

 

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He’ll Use What You Have

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I was just listening to a preacher named Nathan Morris, and he shared something that got me thinking. He said that when Jesus stepped into Peter’s boat Peter saw it as a boat, but Jesus saw it as a platform. A platform to do His works. Jesus stepped into Peter’s world, a world of fishing. And then He did something miraculous, I don’t mean all the fish that appeared, but the real miracle is that he took Peter and changed his life. He can do the same with us. He’ll step into our world, our everyday life and somehow use it as His showcase to show others who He is.

It’s easy to think our life isn’t much of a stage if we aren’t a public speaker or in the spotlight. What we don’t realize is our “boring” lives are often the greatest lights to the world. It’s one thing to listen to a preacher or singer when they are on camera, but you can’t see them living out their message once the show is over. That’s where we come in. What we consider our “boring” daily routines are our platforms that God uses to be a light to the world around us. All the little things, going to work, going to school, taking care of our children and our homes, these are areas God uses. The way we treat those closest to us behind closed doors, that’s one of the most beautiful stages Jesus can walk.

It all starts without us even knowing, and that blows my mind on how amazing God is :)!! I can’t help but grin as I write this. There are those who you come across in your life and there is something different about them. You may not be able to spot what it is at first but the longer you’re around them and you see them talk, the way they treat others, the way they work hard at their work, etc. You find out they are followers of Jesus. They aren’t just throwing the term, “Christian” around. They are really trying to follow Christ with their lives. They’re trying to follow in His ways… and it stands out!!

There are those you come across where you’ve known them a long time, and then they start to change. These are good changes. They seem lighter, more at peace. They don’t complain as much as they used to. They aren’t as depressed or negative about life. They seem to have more hope. Soon it’s like a metamorphosis and though their personality might be the same, the person isn’t. They’re more pleasant, they make different choices than a lot of people. They start to get made fun of for the things they stay away from. But there is something different and that difference again is Jesus.

Something happened in their life where they accepted God into their heart and became a Jesus follower. The differences you see in them are the platform of Jesus. Their life is a light when you see something changing. After time proves it, you can’t deny there isn’t something real in them, something that is different. What a light they are without trying. They’re just trying to follow in Jesus’s ways and that shines brighter than a preacher on a stage. Sometimes the person is never even aware that the people they interact with see a difference. But God…He works His ways, His amazing ways, without us always knowing that He’s using our lives as His stage.

Some of us love Jesus, but aren’t sure if we’re always a good light. We see our failures. We see where we did NOT handle a situation in the right way. But God uses our failures to bring something good. They humble us and remind us how human we are, and how much we need a Savior. The world can still see a difference in us even when we fail. We still try to live in a way that pleases Christ and those every day choices are a light. People might see us fail, but that’s where we get to be honest that we need a Savior. And what a message that is since all of us fail and all of us need a Savior. There is only one Savior and that is Jesus. We can’t save others, only He can.

Something else God uses in our lives without us knowing is a continued metamorphosis. When we accepted Jesus into our hearts it started. But it continues our whole lives because we ALWAYS need a Savior, a Lord, a Father, who works on our hearts and changes us day by day. Maybe you see your main areas that you struggle with. The people around you see them too. For example anger, jealousy, gossip, complaining etc…. but then the people around you start to notice that you’ve stopped gossiping, the way you talk about people has changed. It’s because God is working on our hearts and changing us throughout our lives. These areas change, they become bright, a stage for God’s light to shine.

When I first became chronically ill and could barely leave my room I didn’t know God could somehow use my life as a “shut-in” to show Himself. As this trial of disease hit me, people were waiting for me to throw God to the side and hate Him for not preventing this tragedy. I didn’t know that’s what some people were waiting for. I didn’t throw God to the side, and instead my relationship with Him was the rock I needed to weather me through my storm. I didn’t realize my personal choice to cling to God would somehow be a platform for Jesus.

I’m amazed that God used a time in my life that I was around the least amount of people to be a light. I’m an extrovert and I love meeting new people. So in my mind, in order to reach a lot of people you would need to have access to talk to and visit with a lot of people. Here I was in a dark room, in pain, only talking to my parents and brother (the family I was now living with). But somehow my story spread. When people would ask my family about me they would say “no she’s not mad at God” and somehow God used that to spread my story and reach people. I didn’t get it because I wasn’t DOING anything!!! But God :)… my heart was His stage. It was GOD who was reaching people through my journey.

You might fee l like you’ve worked the same job with the same people for so many years, you go home to your family, and that’s it. What you don’t know is that God’s been using your life, your stability and your character to shine in front of the people you work with, and even more the people you go home to at night. The way you treat your family, your parents, your spouse, your kids, that is a light. Loving them is a light. The nugget of inspiration God’s given your family and coworkers through you is going to continue to sew fruit in His kingdom throughout their lives.

Maybe you’re the stay at home mom, changing diapers, cooking dinners, scrubbing the bathroom, and you feel like you aren’t doing anything to make a difference. But this is your time that you’re showing unconditional love to your kids and husband by being the servant of all, by doing these humble chores with a good attitude. This inspires your husband and affects your children. It affects more people then you probably can see.

There is one thing we can do to be a light, love God. Our personal relationship with Him is what changes us. God grows us, He gives us love for others. He convicts us. He teaches us. This all happens in our heart before God. And that shines in our attitude and actions. This is how God can use ANY situation, even someone who is chronically ill who barely speaks to anyone, to be a platform for HIS purposes. 🙂

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

I pray we, the body of Christ, begin to appreciate the platform that He has given us in our every day lives. Even with our flaws, God’s light shines in us. That’s the amazing grace of Jesus!

I’ve recently started posting videos the beginning of each month on you tube and you can check the most recent out below :). You can also follow my personal health journey more closely at: https://www.facebook.com/RadicalRoad/

 

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Why?

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Why is it that when things start to come together something else in your life falls apart??!! You work so hard to make progress and then the rug is ripped out under your feet!! You’re flat on your back looking up and saying “why me, why this, why now??!”

Today I went to see a new doctor regarding my Chronic Lyme Disease. Seeing doctors often, is a part of my life as a chronically ill person. Today my mom(who is my full-time caretaker and nurse) and I were going over what I needed to talk to the doctor about. This conversation led to some difficult reminders.

– I can transfer Lyme Disease to a spouse, so that rules out getting married.
– If I could get married I have a bigger chance of transferring Lyme Disease to
my children. Which for me, rules that out.
– My symptoms are so numerous I can’t work or have a career that I hoped for.
– I can’t finish college.
– I can’t live on my own. I’m too disabled and need someone to drive me, manage
my doctor appointments, cook for me, wait on me, manage and distribute my
medication and so much more.

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a crowd with a target on my back. People around me seem to be doing well. They’re following their dreams and living their lives without anything major going wrong. Sometimes the thought hits me, “Jesus I love you, I always have. So why do more things go wrong in my life than other people’s?? Why do some Christians who believe in you, but don’t follow you have everything going good in their lives??” But then God helps me realize that every time something goes wrong in my life I’m back to relying on the Lord, which is a good thing.

Trials bring me closer to His heart. I reflect more on life through them. Then the Lord can work on my heart in ways that He can’t when I’m busy and things are going well. My difficulties seem to be my mercy. (You can find an article I wrote: “Could My Suffering Be My Mercy?”, https://radicalroad.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/could-my-suffering-be-my-mercy/). They are my mercy because they keep me focused on the most important thing in my life, my relationship with Jesus. It’s not because I’m “Oh so spiritual” but rather because I so desperately need Him!!!

Maybe He sometimes allows bad things to happen to us in order to bring our hearts closer to Him. In order to open our eyes to the things that really are important. Maybe it’s not that we have a target on our back, but a heart that wants the Lord and His ways. … Even if it means going through trials to get there.

Things going wrong in your life doesn’t mean it’s your fault. It doesn’t mean God’s angry at you. It doesn’t mean He’s abandoned you. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t care. Those statements are lies from the enemy. He speaks these things to us knowing it’ll add to our torment.

We have to combat those thoughts with truth.

1. Is it my fault??
No. Having troubles in your life is something Jesus told is would happen. He said ” In this world you will have troubles.”(John 16:33) He didn’t say it was our fault. It was more a statement of living on earth means you’ll have hardship. In Heaven we won’t. But here we will.

2. Is God angry at me??
Even if we disappointed God in some of the decisions we make He doesn’t harbor bitterness or unforgiveness at us. He’s the essence of forgiveness and second chances. When we were at our worst, all of our sins piled up, that’s when He chose to die for us so that He could spend eternity with us. He saw us at our worst and still wanted to be with us. (Romans 5:8)

3. Has God abandoned me??
God never turns His back on us. Even if He’s silent He still there with us, Jesus even told us that. He said, “I am with you ALWAYS even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

4. God doesn’t care.
This is never true. He cares more than we can imagine. He loves us beyond our comprehension ” perfect love is this, that He lay His life down for His friends.” He laid His life down for you. And that love He has will never fade. Even when you make mistakes, fail, run from Him, ignore Him etc. “No life or death or anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38)

Friends we are on this journey in life together. We may not have met, but there is a love from God that bonds us. I pray as you read this you’re encouraged and realize it’s not all your fault. Even when we feel alone, God is with us.

I’ve just started to post YouTube videos sharing what’s on my heart. You can find them here or search my YouTube username: Radical Road.

If you’d like to follow my personal journey more closely you can find more information at: https://www.facebook.com/RadicalRoad/

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Healing comes in different ways

 

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Life can change in an instant. My life changed 7 months ago when I was raised up from my sick bed and able to walk again. How?? Well, healing comes in different ways. Medicine, prayers, treatment, doctors, miracles… ALL of it is God. All those things are how He is choosing to heal me. The past 3 days I faced the possibility of being back in bed 24/7.

I have a blood/heart condition called POTS. Mine is neurological, one of the most severe cases they know of. Whenever I stood up, or even sat up, I lost all the blood to my brain and passed out. My heart rate would also race to the 180s (which is equivalent to what your heart would do if you were sprinting as fast as you can). This made it so I had to live my life from bed, FLAT on my back. I crawled to the bathroom. Sometimes I could walk with my walker 20ft, but I had to quickly sit or lie on the floor before I passed out. Losing the blood to my brain this frequently did NOT help my brain injury. It flared the symptoms. But after living this way for 4+ years God would change all of that within 2 weeks.

Last summer, June 2017, I was put in the hospital to try a medicine that would be experimental for my condition. After a few days we saw some progress, the blood was pumping better to my brain. The problem was I didn’t feel any better. The symptoms I already had of severe nausea, dizziness, weakness, heaviness, and more, were not going away. I was beyond exhaustion. Just lifting my arms to put a shirt on took SO much out of me!!! That night I broke down crying and praying in my hospital bed, “God you have to help me. I can’t do this. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, I need you.” Very soon after this prayer, God gave me a vision answering my plea. (Trust me, my prayers are not always answered this fast.)   😉

Here I was, curled up in a hospital bed looking like a beat up soldier. I’m crying. I’m desperately wanting to go home. And the Lord gives me a vision: “I saw a long trail created out of the medicine for my POTS. I saw loose (green & white just like my medicine is) capsules piled up a foot deep, and a few feet wide. The trail was a few miles long!! (Imagining how many years of medication this would make up was mind-blowing.) Then I saw the Lord’s hand wave slowly over the trail of medication. As He did this I saw black stuff coming out of the medicine which I knew symbolized the side-effects. Then I saw the capsules turning gold”. I understood this meant that He was blessing the medicine in my body.

The next day something changed. The side-effects were leaving. My body was suddenly adjusting quickly to the huge amount of medication being put in me. It would take months and months of physical therapy to build my body up after 5 years in bed. But after 2 weeks in the hospital I went home sitting up in the van (previously I always laid down on a mattress on the floor so I wouldn’t pass out).

A few days after I got home we had a family get together. When my 4 year old niece, Selah, saw me sitting UP outside (she had only seen me lying down in a dark room) she ran to me saying “Aunt Rachel, are you better??!!” Seeing the excitement, wonder and joy on her face said it all!! As she crawled up on my lap I smiled and answered “Yes, I’m much better. I’m still sick but I’m much better.” Over the next 7 months she would hear me say “Jesus is healing me” many many times. Why?? Because that was the truth :).

Of course my desire is to be miraculously healed and need no medication. But more than that my desire is, “Not my will, but your will be done God.” If His will is to use these meds, then I am so grateful. Over 5 years I’ve had countless people praying for me. I’ve had so many lay hands on me expecting God to heal me right then. I’ve had many tell me if I had more faith I’d be healed. When I heard their words I would break into tears praying, “God I do believe. But I’m so sorry if I don’t have enough faith.” There were days I woke up and my “faith” expected me to get up walk out of bed and have NO symptoms.

But when the symptoms flooded my body like a tsunami, I knew I wasn’t healed.
After years of being sick and trusting God through it I learned a lot. The Lord showed me that the reason I wasn’t healed wasn’t my lack of faith. All it takes is a mustard seed to move a mountain, and I had at least a mustard seed ;). It wasn’t that God was a cruel God that wanted to watch me suffer. NO He showed me how His heart breaks for those of His children that are suffering (which is all of us at some point in life).

Why God wasn’t healing me I didn’t know. I still don’t know the answers to His timing, His will, His ways. What I know is He is faithful to be with me through the struggle. He is faithful to give me grace throughout the day. He is faithful to draw me close into the intimacy of His presence through the suffering. I know God has grown me, changed me, and taken my soul to a depth I don’t think I would’ve experienced without this sickness. For that I am forever grateful. (1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.)

A few days ago I found out my insurance hadn’t approved a refill at my specialty pharmacy for this medicine. I run out in a few days. This medicine costs 13k a month!!! It’s not something I can just afford to pay out of pocket. So When my insurance is trying not to pay for this medicine, my mom (who’s my caretaker) and I realize that I may be back to living in bed. It feels like the carpet is ripped out from underneath you right after you learned to stand on it. I told my mom, “Even if it was only 7 months God got me out of bed I’m SO grateful for them.” If the rest of my life is in bed, I’ll treasure these 7 months!!

We asked many of you on my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/RadicalRoad/) to pray. We asked you’d pray for favor with the insurance to approve this medication again at a pharmacy that actually carries it. (Most don’t and then they had to be in-network of my insurance company) After a lot of red tape, phone calls, and prayer, the insurance company has approved the medicine at a new pharmacy and it is being shipped to me as I write this!!

I think sometimes we think that it is either God who miraculously heals us, or it is modern medicine. But often it is God’s will to heal us through modern medicine. Why?? I don’t know. But I’ve seen God heal people miraculously, and I’ve seen Him use medicine. He’s God and He can use whatever He wants. I’m learning to go to God every day and depend on Him and trust His ways whatever they may be.

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m an ambitious go-getter, a dreamer, and passionate about Jesus Christ!! Often I’m so excited and ready to go tell everyone about Jesus that I don’t wait for His Spirit to lead me (bad move lol). This morning my mom was teasing me. She said “If you didn’t need this medicine you’d probably be in India or Africa on the mission-field. And that may not be where God wants you right now. This medicine is God’s bridle to reel you in.” We both started laughing knowing that I can get ahead of myself. I need God to bridle me ;).

God has answered many prayers with modern medicine. He inspired the minds of those scientists and doctors who created the meds out there. He has given knowledge to doctors and nurses so they can use it to heal people. Sometimes God has us pray for someone and they’re healed instantly. Sometimes he answers our prayers through medical treatments.

In John 9 there is the story of Jesus healing a blind man.

Jesus spits on the dirt making some mud, then rubbing the mud on the blind man’s eyes he tells him to go wash off the mud in a pool. The blind man does and he was healed!! Why did Jesus use mud to heal this man when He could have just touched Him and He would have been healed?? Here we see Jesus taking something from the Earth, and touching it so it would heal a man. Just like Jesus has taken something from this world (my medicine) and showed me a vision of Him touching it (turning it gold) and using it to heal me.

I heard of a surgeon, who is a follower of Jesus, who tells his patients, “God is the one who does the healing, I just send the bill” lol. What a great outlook… and sense of humor ;). God is the one that decides how and when our bodies heal. Sometimes it’s instantly, sometimes it’s over years. Sometimes the ultimate healing is what God chooses for us by allowing us to enter into Heaven and be completely healed.

God has CHOSEN to use THIS medicine to control my POTS for the time being. Maybe this will be my whole life. Maybe He will heal me without meds one day. Whatever He does I trust Him because He has reasons I may not understand here on earth, but I trust. Meds or God?? God!! But sometimes He uses meds. Always, He is good :).

Psalm 136:1 “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.”

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Desperate

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How do you even begin to describe desperation?? It’s that yearning and longing so deeply for something that it’s all you can think about. Tonight I had so much severe pain throughout my back, ribs, abdomen and head. I was desperate for relief, for help!! Meds, heat pads, ice packs, nothing seemed to soothe the pain. I was watching a comedy TV series to try and distract my mind from the agonizing pain. But the pain was on the forefront of my mind and I was desperate for help.

When this happens I don’t have eloquent prayers, just “Jesus…help.” I can’t count how many times I prayed that tonight or convey how deeply I meant it. Desperation makes us ready to do almost anything to achieve what we are desperate for. An addict will do things they never thought they’d do to get their next fix. Desperation will make us do things we didn’t expect we’d do. We are desperate for love, approval, success, money, relief, comfort etc.

You see your friends change before your eyes into a different person in order to get what they want. It might be easy to spot with a drug addict, but an addict of any kind whether it be an “approval addict” or “success addict” will slooowly change into something they never wanted to be. Why? Because this silent force called “desperation” drives them.

I’ve been desperate for approval, success, relief, appreciation and other things. What I desired was all I could think about. Why is it we are desperate for many things, but not for Christ?? We might want the Lord but are we DESPERATE for Him??! We are often desperate for His help… I was desperate tonight for His help to end the pain in my body. But what about when His help is giving us the opposite of what we asked for…are we still desperate for His ways??

When you get to the point of desperation there is no room left for pride. You’re at the end of your rope. You’re flat on your face crying out for the thing you need, because the thing you’re yearning for is more important to you than your pride. If we had this type of desperation for Jesus, for a deeper relationship with Him, our lives would look so different.

Tonight I was desperate for God’s hand, for Him to give me what I wanted (relief from pain). I didn’t know why He wouldn’t ease the agony of this searing pain. Hours went by . My dad came in the room and prayed for me and soon after this the pain started easing up. “Thank you Jesus.” I was desperate for physical relief… but how much more important is desperation for spiritual relief, guidance, understanding?!

When I stop seeking God for the things I want fixed, broken relationships, finances, health, and I start seeking His face, my whole life outlook changes. My whole world gets brighter cause God starts changing my heart. He starts guiding me to walk in His ways, to desire what He desires. It’s freeing. I wish I could say I’m always in this place of seeking His face, but I’m not.

I often get distracted with what I want. It’s not wrong to ask God for the things we want, often those things are even good things. But I notice my whole world changes for the better when I seek God, not His hand. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, then all these things will be added unto you.” Matthew 26:9. I don’t think this scripture means that everything turns out the way we want if we seek God first. I think it means if we seek God and His ways first, then our outlook will be changed on everything else.

One of my favorite stories of Jesus is the paralyzed man and his friends who broke through a roof to get their disabled friend to Jesus They were DESPERATE to get their friend before Jesus. They were willing to break through a roof if that gave him a chance of being healed. What a scene that must have been as someone’s house was being destroyed, things falling around Jesus, pieces flying in the air. And then a paralyzed man being lowered through the roof!!!

After all this Jesus does not go up and just heal the guy. No, Jesus looks deeper into what the man really needed, forgiveness. Jesus looked at Him and did not see the physical struggle on the outside. He looked inward to the man’s spirit. What his spirit needed concerned Jesus more than the physical. So Jesus looks at the man and says “Son, your sins are forgiven.” I can only imagine what the man’s friends were thinking, “After all this work, we traveled far, we lifted this man, we destroyed someone’s house all to get him to you and you’re ignoring his obvious physical need???!!!”

We hear the phrase “God forgives you” a lot these days. But in Jesus’s day you had to obey the law, the Old Testament and sacrifice a lamb in order to receive God’s forgiveness. Only God had the right to forgive your sins, to erase the stain from your heart. So for this teacher to claim He was forgiving this paralyzed man of his sins was quite a scandal!! So much so that the Pharisees are freaking out!!! Jesus can see their countenance change as they are inwardly furious and outraged. He knows they’re thinking that Jesus is blaspheming since “only God can forgive sins.”

I love what Jesus did next… he looks at them and says “which is easier, to say ‘your sins are forgiven’ or ‘get up and walk’? But so that you may believe the son of man can forgive sins…” Jesus stops mid sentence, walks over to the paralyzed man and says “Get up and walk.” And the man stands up and walks!!!! Now everyone knows that Jesus, has the right to forgive sins, which means He is more than a teacher.

This paralyzed man is walking around as a physical reminder of Jesus’s right to forgive sins, and His supernatural power (that healed him physically and spiritually). Jesus did end up healing this guy, but not to end his physical struggle… instead to prove that He was God and had the authority to forgive this man of his sins. Jesus cared deeply about this man. He didn’t want to just put a band aid on the thing that was emotionally distressing him (his paralysis). Instead He wanted to heal the deep wounds in his spirit with forgiveness.

We often seek God for the physical needs, like the paralyzed man. Tonight I was seeking God to take away my physical pain. God looks at us, into our souls and can see what it is we really need (deeper than the physical stuff). He is there to give us what our spirit needs. Comfort, courage, forgiveness, peace. Sometimes what we need is God’s spirit to cleanse our mind from our nasty, mean, negative thoughts. Whatever it is we need God will give us.

We’re human and its good we go to God with our worries and our requests. I just want to be more desperate to chase after Jesus. I want to be so desperate for Him that I’ll give up anything to go deeper with Him. I want my desperation for the Lord to be that quiet, yet strong force that drives me. The thing that changes me to do things I never thought I’d do. Desperation for earthly desires can change us for the negative. But desperation for Jesus Christ will change us into something else, something humble, something wonderful.

Psalm 84: 2 “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

Matthew 6: 33 “ But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well.”

Isaiah 26: 9 “My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.” Mark 2:1-12 (Story of Jesus and the paralyzed man)

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