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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Even When My Walls Are Shaking

IMG_4885 Ever since my car accident 2 1/2 years ago, my brain injury has severely impaired my vision…As my body continued to deteriorate I found out that  I had POTS and Lyme Disease -both of which can also impair your vision. SO I have a triple whammy.

Often I close my eyes and try to remember what my eyes saw before these setbacks. I open my eyes and remind myself that the world does not look like what I see through my vision.

Right now the door in front of me looks like it is shaking- it is vibrating and it looks like is moving to the right. The wall next to it is also shaking badly. It often looks like it is coming towards me and then it changes directions and starts moving away from me or from side to side. I look at the mirror and it is shaking, and everything the mirror is reflecting is also moving and vibrating and shaking. I look at my bed cover on top of me and I get double vision looking at it. I try real hard to focus but I often can’t control my focus.

As I write this article my eyes are closed and my computer screen is half shut-just enough for my fingers to have room to type. It is too hard for me to look at a computer screen without getting horrible headaches and blurred vision. For the last 3 days I have been placing my hand flat on the wall. I look at the wall vibrating and shaking and remember that in reality the wall is NOT shaking. Sometimes I forget because that’s all I’ve seen 24/7 for over 2 years!! I close my eyes with my hand on the wall and tell myself over and over, “The wall  is NOT shaking. The wall is NOT actually shaking”. I close my eyes and try to remember what the wall would look like if it was “not” moving because in reality it is NOT moving. I haven’t seen any object, wall, or anything in my vision be “still” for over 2 years.

I miss the stability of looking at the floor and it not looking like it is moving in weird abstract ways. I thought if I put my hand on the wall I would “feel” that the wall is still. The problem is that my hand doesn’t feel still…. it makes it feel like it is moving in an abstract direction… so that didn’t work or help me remember :-/.

I think that often in life we feel like our world has been shaken. Something goes wrong, a terrible unexpected trial hits, our dreams crash down and we feel stuck in a world that is shaken. But maybe this is only our perception of what is going on. We cannot see the future, we cannot see how this trial is going to be used, or how it will grow us, or how it will get us to where we need to be on our journey of life. So instead we think everything has fallen apart. Maybe we need to close our eyes and ask God to remind us and teach us the truth – that our world is not being shaken.

God always knew from the day we were born what our past, future, and present would look like. He knew how each day would play out. He knew when things would go wrong, and He made a plan on how HE would USE those trials to make something beautiful- if we let Him. Your present may not look like what you had planned. Your future may not look like what you had planned. But your present and future have not actually been “shaken.” They happened in the way they always were going to happen. You just didn’t know it. Your perception has been shaken.

3 years ago I was entering my senior year of college, and I had just started a career job for a great company. I was also volunteering in a Psychology lab and was getting ready to apply to graduate school. I planned on getting my PhD in Psychology in counseling . I had a huge heart for the youth around the world. Once I graduated I planned on using my degree to start “teen centers” that would help teenagers find God, find purpose in life, and would help them get a job, get scholarships etc. I wanted to inspire them and give them a chance, give them hope. But that dream came crashing down when I got in a car accident that gave me a severe brain injury.I had so many symptoms!! I ended up dropping out of school, losing my job, and moving back in with my parents.

A year later my body had reeeeaaaallly  deteriorated. I had severe pain, constant nausea, dizziness sickness, weakness etc. I started losing control of all my limbs and soon I had to be carried to the bathroom. The doctors realized something besides the brain injury was going on and they started testing for different diseases. Every test came back negative until finally I was tested for and diagnosed with Chronic Lyme disease and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).

I was on a waiting list for six months before I went into a specialized clinic for IV antibiotics and other treatment. I am no longer doing IVs.  I am at home in bed, but am still undergoing treatment. I’ve made progress but still have a long way to go. My world was “shaken” and turned upside down…. or so my perception thought. But God knew from day one, when I was born that this would happen to me.

Let me clarify that I DO NOT think God caused this to happen to me. But He knew it was going to and He had a plan on how He would use it. On how He could make my dreams come true despite my circumstances. He has also given me new dreams. I started this blog because I wanted people not just to see my trial, but to see God’s faithfulness through my trial. It’s been a year and a half and I’ve had around ten thousand hits and numerous messages and many people contacting me telling me of  their trials and how they relate. They tell me God has used this blog to help them, to inspire them, to give them hope…….. WAIT… wasn’t my dream to start “teen centers” so I could “help them, inspire them, and give them hope”????!! And now God took that desire of my heart and is making that dream come true through an unexpected way… Wow, just the thought of that blows me away and makes me see that my world has not been shaken. Maybe I have been shaken. But my world and future hasn’t…just like my vision sees the walls around me shaking, I saw my dreams being shaken.

Yes, I would rather not be in bed, unable to stand, in constant pain. I would rather be healthy, up and about and inspiring people. But maybe this plan is better. I know I’m growing a lot more spiritually being flat on my back than when I was busy up and about. And the lessons I am learning are what I am sharing with you.  I don’t have all these lessons down. But I am learning and growing and being vulnerable with you guys. I don’t know what you’re going through. I don’t know what trials and hardships you are facing. But I DO KNOW that your present and future have not been shaken even though YOU might SEE it that way. God always knew these things would happen and it didn’t shake Him or His plan for you. He has a plan on how He will use your hardships. Even if the only thing that comes from it is you getting closer to the Lord, well then that is the best thing you could gain. That relationship with God is the single most important thing in life and is the one thing we can take to heaven with us.

So I encourage you wherever you are not to lose hope or to give up because it feels and looks like your “walls are being shaken” they aren’t. They are in the palm of God’s hand, which is the most stable place for them to be. If you ever need prayer or someone to share with, feel free to message me at: rachelsradicalroad@gmail.com   I often take a long time to respond because I’m so sick it’s rare I get online and my mom has to read your messages to me. But I will try to get back to you and I will pray for you in the mean-time. God Bless!!

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My Christmas wish

IMG_1515_5860 copyI love the song “My Grown up Christmas Wish.” In the song they say that their “grown-up Christmas wish” is that there would be no war, that everyone’s hearts would be healed, and everyone would have a friend. I love and agree with those wishes… But I would also wish that everyone would know Christ, and would be filled with hope.

Though presents shouldn’t be our primary focus for Christmas, I have to admit that I got a little carried away with what I wanted for Christmas this year. Much of my hope was put in this desired gift rather than in our God, the giver. This year what I wanted couldn’t be wrapped or put under a tree. Because what I wanted was to be better physically for Christmas.
I wanted to be strong enough to be with my family Christmas morning… I wanted to be strong enough to sit up on the couch without fainting, falling over, losing my vision, or getting nauseous (all symptoms of POTS). Instead I will be carried to the living room and lay down on the coach. I’ll stay there for as long as I can handle the noise and light before I’m taken away from my family and put into a room, by myself, in the dark (this is the only thing that helps my symptoms calm down).

This may seem silly and not like a big deal. But for me, being able to stay sitting up represents a new phase of healing. For me it’s a big step. Unless I get a miracle in the next few days it looks like it will be awhile before I get to that point of my recovery.

3 months ago I was getting ready to go into intensive treatment for my Lyme disease, POTS, and brain injury. Three debilitating sicknesses I had been dealing with for 2 years. I was trying not to get my hopes up, because I had already tried so many remedies, and seen so many doctors, and the things that seemed to heal other people didn’t help me. But my hopes were up; it was possible that with treatment and time I could get to a point where I could live a semi-normal life again.

I had one wish for Christmas– that I would be able to sit up without help during Christmas morning with my family. Since treatment I have had a lot of healing with my brain. But my condition of POTS has gotten worse.

Though my wish may not seem “shallow” I realize it’s not what Christmas is about. As we get older we see that Christmas is not about the presents we get… and this Christmas isn’t about getting the present I wished for. Christmas is about what we can give to others, and reflecting on what God has already given us…. The keys to heaven. We are not doomed to a world filled with heartbreak and struggle, but we are promised an eternity of awe and wonder.
Christ came down and was born in a lowly manger, lived a life of sacrifice to teach us His ways, and then He took upon Himself death upon a cross– the punishment reserved for only the most horrible criminals. Why did He do all of this?? So we would have a way into heaven.
Romans 5:2-5
“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”
In 1 Corinthians 13 it states, “the greatest of these is faith, hope, and love”. Hope is listed with faith and love. Yet, we live in a hopeless society. If we are not instantly gratified, we lose hope. But hope must be deeper than that. It has to be. The Bible talks so much about it.

We say things like “I hope I get ‘…’ for Christmas” and if we don’t get it we lose our hope. But hope is deeper than wishing for surface things. Hope isn’t “wishing”. Hope is believing that no matter what, no matter how hard or how wonderful things get, no matter how much life surprises us, that God will somehow bring something good out of it all.

Hope is knowing that God has a purpose for us here on this earth. Hope is knowing that our life on earth is only the first step of our lives. We have a whole destiny of millions of years in a perfect world, living with, and walking with God. How can we lose hope when we realize this??

So I may not get the Christmas “ present” I wished for… but God is using this as an opportunity to teach me a deeper lesson of hope. I don’t know if I’ll ever master the full understanding of hope. But I think I’m starting to get past the surface meaning of it. I’m realizing that hope should be a vital part of our daily lives.

I love the show “Once Upon a Time.” But I have to admit that I’ve had to skip many episodes when the dark magic got too intense for me. But as I’ve watched this show I’m inspired by Snow White. She is always full of hope… and the peculiar thing is that bad thing after bad thing has happened to her. Every time things start to get better or she has a victory, another trial strikes and she is fighting to stay alive. But instead of seeing it the way I just described, she believes that no matter how bad things get, they do eventually get better. Good does eventually come. She knows that no matter how bad it gets, there is hope. It won’t be in vain.

I sit there inspired by her positive attitude and wish to become more like her. After she loses everything time and time again she focuses on what she does have and she has hope that good will win.

So I hope that if things haven’t turned out the way you planned, that you also would be filled with hope when you think about the God who came down to earth, and gave everything so we could spend eternity with Him. I hope you are filled with hope when you realize that God has a destiny (that you are living right now) here on earth, and also in heaven. I wish that you would have hope to believe that no matter how bad things get, they will get better; they will not be in vain; God will somehow bring good out of it.

God works in mysterious ways. And it may be mysterious to us why God doesn’t instantly “fix” our trials… but I know that the God who sacrificed His life for us is a God we can trust. I don’t doubt Him, or His timing. And I don’t’ doubt that He will and IS bringing good out of my physical trial. I may not be able to “sit- up” this Christmas, but I will lay down and reflect upon the hope Christ gave us when He came down from heaven to a lowly manger.

I wish you a merry, Merry Christmas!!! My “grown-up Christmas wish” is that me, my family, and all of you reading this would be filled with the greatest gift of all, knowing Christ, knowing His love, and having hope in the power and purpose of His resurrection.

Merry Christmas to all of you :)!!

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Just Like a Turtle

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My friends used to say that if I was any animal it would be a “bunny”– hop hop hopping away. These days I’m being compared to a turtle! But I am learning that’s not a bad thing! Turtles are perseverant. Because they move so slowly they have to be. I think that turtles “see” more of life around them because they aren’t capable of running, or “hopping” all over the place. They actually observe what’s in front of them right now… that’s what God is trying to teach me. Step- by- step just like a turtle. I don’t need to be running from or to anything, but just be right where I am.

For those of you who don’t know me or haven’t read my previous blogs, I was in a car accident 2 years ago that resulted in a brain injury. After living in pain for 1 1/2 years, losing control of my legs and arms, and being forced to live my life in bed, I found out that I have “Lyme Disease”and “P.O.T.S.” on top of the brain injury. So now I live my life at a very slooooow pace, much like a turtle.

Recently, my amazing sister Bethany bought me a stuffed-animal turtle to remind me that even though the turtle moves slowly he is the one that “won” the race in the story of the “tortoise and the hare.” I love that turtle and keep it in my bed near me for a good laugh and a cute decoration.

I went to a specialized clinic for extensive treatment for Lyme Disease this past October. The treatment was to help lower my symptoms in hopes that one day I would be able to walk, see, and live life out of my bed.… Yet I’m here, still living in my bed, wondering how long it will be until my pain improves and I can sit, or be strong enough to stand without losing control of my legs.

I don’t know the answer to that question… but God does. There’s a reason He didn’t give us the ability to see into the future. He didn’t give us the ability to know when, why, or how things are going to turn out. I think it’s because He wanted us to be focused on what is right in front of us, right now, today!! There’s a scripture that says,

“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

I always thought it was peculiar that it didn’t say “God plans our future but we decide our steps”… but now I think I’m starting to understand.

God is IN our steps. He is with you right now as you take this step today. He’s more personal than a God who sits in heaven, gives you a few “plans” for your life and then sees you once you die and get to heaven. He wants to be IN our steps. That means every day…all of the time. That’s very personal!!

He just continues to amaze me with HOW much He loves us and HOW much He wants a relationship with us, right now, where we are at… not where we are going. Once we get to “where we are going” He’ll be there with us guiding those steps.

So here I am waiting to see improvement in my body…. Waiting, waiting, waiting. When will I be able to walk normal again?? When will I be able to handle light and noise?? I have many more questions, BUT I am trying to be focused on today, on what’s right before me.

I am seeing improvement in my brain. I think faster and clearer and I can talk faster than before. My difficulty breathing is also slowly improving. But the healing is slow, and since I have sooooooo many symptoms I tend to notice all of the symptoms that haven’t improved. But I need to be focusing on what IS improving, and thank God for it.

For me focusing on what I don’t yet have doesn’t help me. But focusing on my small improvements and being thankful for where I am at does!

Each of you has your own path, your own trials you’re going through right now. Maybe you wish you could skip the now and get to “where you are going.” You want to get passed the trial and get to the place where things get better. That will come. But right now I just want to encourage you to focus on where you are.

God’s not waiting to meet you down the road, He wants to be with you today as you trust in and lean upon Him. God continues to teach me that our trials can be the most holy and intimate places with the Lord… if we let them be.

In our fast-paced “bunny rabbit” lifestyle I hope you can be encouraged that being a turtle doesn’t mean you are falling behind. It means you are really embracing the day in front of you. As you take it day-by-day you will one day wake-up and the race will be over… and you will have persevered and got to the finish line.

So embrace today, and let God grow you because you are never going to get this day back. 🙂

God bless you my fellow runners… though I guess turtles don’t really run ;).

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I made it…to 23!!!!

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Last year on my birthday I made a wish when my candles blew out… I wished that if I were to join God in heaven this next year, that He would comfort and give strength to my family and closest friends.

The biggest burden on my heart wasn’t that I was in extreme pain, it wasn’t that I was losing control of my limbs, and it wasn’t about dying…. It was about my family, what would they do if I died this next year??

I had planned every letter I wanted to write and leave behind as my last words to my family members and best friends. I wanted them to know how I adored them. And I wanted them to let go of me and move forward with their lives until we met up again in our true home-heaven.

But I never wrote those letters… God had me keep pushing, and fighting, and persevering to get through every minute of each day… It is 1 year later and I made it!!! I made it to 23!!!

Not only did I make it, but I’m finally getting treatment that is supposed to help my Lyme disease. I’ve been here 2 weeks and the treatment pushed me to my limit of maximum pain I’ve had to deal with (and I’ve had to deal with alot ;)). The doctor said I’m the sickest patient they’ve worked with doing this IV program to treat Lyme disease. I was supposed to be here 3 weeks and now it will be 4 or 5 because of how sick I’ve become.

But they are working with me and they are an amazing staff of caring people. I know God led me here to this treatment and I know He’s the one leading me through it. Many of you who read my blog have donated your money to help me get this treatment… And for that I can never say thank you enough!!! God is using you to save and change my life. How do I even convey how grateful I am.. But I am. I lay here with eyes tearing up because I am so touched by all of you. By your love, your support, your prayers, and your sacrifice, you have touched my life forever. Thank you!!

22 years old I thought I might be near the end. 23 years and I think I may be at the beginning :). I’m so glad to still be here on earth, to be alive, to be getting a glimpse of hope that I’ll dance again… But what I’ve learned this past year is whether you are at the beginning here on earth, or at the beginning in heaven, it is a beautiful thing, an amazing opportunity, a gift from God.

So for those of you here on earth I hope I can encourage you to embrace your life. And for those of you who may be approaching heaven, I hope I can give you hope that this is not the end, you’re about to approach a beautiful beginning there.

God bless!!

Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

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