Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Looking back over the 14 years of living with MS and walking with the Lord, I see that my road has been full of mountains and valleys. It seems like every time I would have a relapse or was really struggling with surrendering my will, I would be down in the valley; a lot of times way down, even in a dark pit. And then when the Lord lifted me up I was on the mountain top, so joyful to be held in the arms of Jesus.
The past couple of months, I haven't been in a valley or on the mountain. I have just been quiet. But in the quiet I have been so aware of the presence of my Lord. I realized that all those times in the valley I was fighting. Fighting against this disease, fighting against self pity, fighting against God's will for my life. I know that it is really important to fight the good fight and to not give up. But there is a fine line for me, and most of the time I wasn't fighting the good fight, I was just fighting.
I realized something else in this quiet. I'm not fighting. I'm resting. God in all of His lovingkindness has helped me to accept my disease in a way I never have before. I would always feel so guilty when I was so tired I couldn't really do much of anything. When I would see my husband doing everything for our family, I felt so bad, because if I didn't have MS, he wouldn't be burdened down with all this extra work. There is so much freedom in knowing that one little truth about myself; freedom to see that Marc doen't consider it a burden, he does it because he loves me. I have MS. There are going to be times when I just don't feel good. Something really amazing happens when I let go of all these unrealistic expectations I put on myself. I can stop fighting. I can be the wife and mom that God wants me to be, even if that is completely different from who I always thought I should be.
My most recent road has been rough and pretty rocky in some places, no valleys or mountains, but my journey has taken me to a place I've never been before. Tomorrow I am going in for my second infusion of Rituxan. It's not easy. I will feel bad for about a week. I am hoping that this treatment will work and I will start feeling better. But I know that whatever happens will be good.
We had a Pastor from Virginia speak at our church on Sunday. He asked if the difficult circumstances in our lives don't get better, is the presence of Jesus enough? He also said that what ever happens in our life, when Jesus is with us we can say, "How awesome is this place." I can honestly say yes, Jesus is enough. So tomorrow when I am getting my infusion and feeling all yucky, I will be able to say, how awesome is this place. Regardless of what happens with my MS or any other thing in my life, when I know that Jesus is with me, I can know that my heart can say, how awesome is this place. I can say that because in the quiet, I have heard the still small voice of the Lord telling me to cease striving, to stop fighting, and to know that He is my God and that He loves me with a love that is greater than anything. In the quiet I have learned to rest, and I have learned to accept my MS in a way I never have before. I wouldn't trade this for a thousand mountain tops.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Last week I went to have my Baclofen pump refilled for the first time. It took 7 pokes to find the right spot. On the way home, my husband, Marc, and I were talking about it. It is tempting to think that there is some kind of "Suffering Deductible", and once I've met that for the year, then everything else should be easy. That's funny, but not even close to the truth. The truth is that whatever my God has for me today, His mercy and His grace are enough. When I am faced with any situation, easy or difficult, it is my opportunity to trust my Lord and praise His Name. As I continue doing that I am blessed with a deeper love for my Savior because every time He shows me His faithfulness, He shows me His limitless love.
My wheelchair is the instrument that God is using to show me mercy beyond measure, to bring me to my knees to kiss His feet, to give me joy like I have never known and to pour His love into my heart. So here I sit in my wheelchair, my royal chariot, resting my weary feet with a heart full of gratitude and sustained by His wondrous mercy.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
The Bible says that my earthly body is a tent. This tent of mine has some serious problems. It's not really holding up like it's supposed to. There have been times that I have been pretty tired of all the rips and tears, and all the problems that come with living in a diseased tent. I really would love it if God would give me a new tent, if He would heal my body of this disease. I know He can, without a doubt, in an instant. I have asked, and He has answered. His answer is, "Not right now."
That is an answer that I can accept. Not because it's easy, but because Almighty God is a good God, and He loves me. I trust Him completely; He has never given me a reason not to. He is my Heavenly Father and He knows the plans He has for my life, and those plans are good and full of hope. Hope because Jesus has said -
"Let not your heart be troubled...In My Father's house are many mansions...I go to prepare a place for you...that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:2
Jesus doesn't want me to be troubled and worried about my tent. He cares about my tent. He is the One who made it for me. But it's not His main concern. What He really cares about is the person inside the tent, the only part that was made to last forever.
When this tent has seen its last day, that is the day I will be healed. I will be in the presence of my King, giving Him all the treasures that I have stored up in Heaven, just for Him.
"For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down--when we die and leave these bodies--we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will not be spirits without bodies, but we will put on new heavenly bodies. Our dying bodies make us groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and have no bodies at all. We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by everlasting life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he
has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. That is why we live by believing and not by seeing."
2 Corinthians 5:1-7 (NLT)
Monday, July 12, 2010
The definition for worship is "To adore; to pay divine honors to; to reverence with supreme respect." I came across a quote from Warren Wiersbe, "When you find yourself in some trial, and you hurt, immediately lift your heart to Christ in true love and worship. Why? Because this will take the poison out of the experience and replace it with healing medicine." Another definition for worship is, "To honor with extravagant love and extreme submission."
I love the time of worship at church. It is a beautiful thing when we all lift up our voices in song to the Lord. It's like practice for Heaven. But I feel my heart longing for more. I want to worship my Lord Jesus with all that I am, to honor Him with extravagant love and extreme submission. I think this kind of worship has nothing to do with my circumstances, or maybe it has everything to do with them.
So, when I'm having a great day, when I'm feeling good and the kids are good, I will worship my King. And when I'm having a hard day, when I'm so tired it's exhausting just to go to the bathroom, I will worship my King. When I'm feeling so weary and like I just can't do it anymore, I will worship my King. He is so very good all the time. I know I can trust Him and submit to His will for my life.
Today I will look for ways to honor Him with extravagant love. I will worship Christ when I make lunch for my kids, when I get dressed so I can be looking good for my husband after his long day at work, when I'm looking out the window at God's beautiful creation, and when I'm resting on my bed.
I know how my story will end. I will be on my feet, raising my hands in worship, singing with all of Heaven, "Holy Holy Holy!" Until then, may my actions shout "Hallelujah!" my words sing with love, and the posture of my heart be continually bowed down in worship.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
This, to me, implies a daily, moment by moment kind of living. Kind of like breathing. In and out, over and over. At times that is all I can do. Just breathe. Like those times I feel I just can't do it. Or I get stuck in the “why cycle.” Why does everything have to be so hard? Why can't I just hop in the car and go to the grocery store? Why do I keep dropping everything on the bathroom floor? Why does it have to take so much effort just to get my pants on? Why? Why? Why?
I know someone who asked why a whole bunch: Job. He had a lot more reasons to ask why than I do. But I think we both get the same answer. God answered Job. He never told him why he suffered so much, but He did tell Job who He is. And Job's answer is my answer, too, if I can just be still and know that God is God. Job's answer was, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth Thee.” Job 42:5
Almighty God has revealed Himself to me. It is because of my cross that I see Him instead of just hearing about Him. It is because of Jesus that I can keep breathing so that I can worship Him in my surrender with cheerful willingness. I can say Thank You to my Savior for my lovely cross that makes me want Him more, to love and adore Him more, and to need Him more than anything else.
And now, I will roll on my way rejoicing...
Monday, June 28, 2010
I am so thankful that I have a Heavenly Father who is so kind and patient and full of grace. He lovingly and gently brushed away the darkness so that His light could shine. Now I see that I was afraid. I am in a wheelchair because I can't walk. But I can still stand up a little. Just enough to transfer to my bed and the car, but most importantly, to be able to go to the bathroom by myself. Standing up has been more difficult lately. My balance is all off and my legs don't cooperate very well. I am afraid of losing that little bit of independence.
I can see now that I have been holding on to that pretty tightly. I don't have the strength to let that one go, but I know Someone who does. I can come to Jesus and ask Him to help me, to take away my fear. My whole life is in His hands, so I don't need to worry about keeping a hold of anything. His hands are bigger and infinitely stronger, and so much more capable than mine.
So here I am, free to raise my empty hands up in praise to my Lord Jesus Christ. What do I get in return? Jesus. What more do I need? He is altogether lovely and He loves me, He loves me, He loves me. He has promised to take care of me. I believe Him.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
(1 Peter 2:9)
That's me, His own special daughter, singing His praises in His marvelous light.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Thank You, Jesus, for using Joni once again to touch my heart with the perfect thing. May Joni and Ken be strengthened and blessed by You. Please shine Your glorious light into the hearts of Your children so that our hope may be bright and bring praise to Your Name.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
...there is another kind of fatigue—referred to as lassitude—that is unique to people with MS. Researchers are beginning to outline the characteristics of this so-called "MS fatigue" that make it different from fatigue experienced by persons without MS.
-Generally occurs on a daily basis
-May occur early in the morning, even after a restful night’s sleep
-Tends to worsen as the day progresses
-Tends to be aggravated by heat and humidity
-Comes on easily and suddenly
-Is generally more severe than normal fatigue
-Is more likely to interfere with daily responsibilities
One of the most difficult things about living with MS is that I just never know when I'll be hit with something like this. That's what it feels like. Like I got hit by the Big Fatigue Bus. When it hit me this time I just felt so sad. I don't want to look at that list and know that I have each and every one of those things.
So here I am, in my bed, and my cup is overflowing with sorrow. I've been spending some time in the book of Psalms. There's a lot in there about discouragement and despair. I've just been feeling so stuck, or once again, trapped. I think I've been looking at everything through eyes tainted by self-pity. How can I see clearly if all I'm doing is hanging my head down, feeling sorry for myself?
I don't know how many times I have been in this place. The answer is always the same. Look to Jesus!
But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. (Ps. 3:3)
Again I say to Him, "I don't want to, but I will if You want me to." I am choosing now to surrender all to my sweet Savior. My circumstances haven't changed one bit since I wrote that. But my vision has. I am fixing my eyes and my heart on Jesus. I know that He loves me, so I am going to keep trusting, trusting, trusting Him.
As I put my hope and trust in HIM, my cup will overflow with joy once again.
Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalm 43:5)
Friday, June 18, 2010
My favorite way to "comfort" myself is a little online window shopping. It's all about the shoes and the clothes. I'll go to my favorite store and open a bunch of tabs and then look longingly at each one. Then I will slowly close each tab, and not feel any better. There have been times when I have actually bought something, and that feels pretty good, for a little while. Really, there's only so much a pair of shoes and jeans can do for me. Then I'm just looking for the next thing.
So maybe I have "comforted" myself temporarily, but I usually end up feeling worse. Then I have to deal with all that time I wasted, and the discontent that goes along with all of that. One definition of comfort is, "absence of pain and the consequent quiet". That's what I get, but it's just all so superficial. I'm not saying that clothes and shoes are bad, it's really good to have things I like to wear, there just needs to be a balance.
It gets out of balance when I try to be the king. I already have a King, my King Jesus, and He is the One that belongs on the throne of my heart. He is the One who is my Comforter. His kind of comfort is totally different because it meets my every need. He reaches down to touch those places in my heart that are hurting, when I feel hopeless and afraid, when I am overwhelmed with life, and He calms the storm in me. He calls me near and holds me close with His everlasting arms. What a wonderful, precious, forgiving, kind and patient King He is. Why do I ever look elsewhere?
My King Jesus deserves ALL of my devotion. Not just some time in the morning, but all throughout my day. That doesn't mean I need to be reading my Bible every minute, but it does mean that I need to be fixing the eyes of my heart on Him every moment. I want so very much to be completely His. I know He wants that, too.
Today I will be thinking much about Psalm 119:33-40.
Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end.
Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it.
Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness.
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.
Establish Your word to Your servant, Who is devoted to fearing You.
Turn away my reproach which I dread, for Your judgments are good.
Behold, I long for Your precepts; Revive me in Your righteousness.
Monday, June 14, 2010
That gift has been passed on to our son Nate. But as for me and our daughter, Hannah, we are seriously challenged in this area. For example, I can go into a store at the mall, and when I leave it, I have no idea which direction to turn. I have been strictly a passenger for quite a while, so I'm just enjoying the view, and trusting whoever is driving to get us where we need to go. I could blame it on my MS, but I know that it's just the way I am.
A couple weeks ago Marc said something about having a good sense of direction and place. So it's more than just knowing where you're going, it's about knowing where you are, which makes perfect sense. I just had never thought of it that way before.
A couple days ago I came across one of my favorite passages in the Bible:
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being. -Acts 17:26-28a
When I read that I immediately thought of my sense of direction and place. This says that God has chosen my place. Where I am right now is where He wants me to be. What a comforting thought! And I think it's more than where my house is, it's about all of the circumstances of my life. It's even about my wheelchair. I can say that because this is the place that I have sought the Lord more than any other. And He is not far from me, He has brought me near to Himself through the blood of His beloved Son, Jesus.
There are many times that I feel lost, and I'm not sure which way to turn. But I have hope! God, Himself, is my sense of direction and place. He has given me His Word and chosen my heart to be the dwelling place of His Holy Spirit. It is in Him that I live and move and have my being. Right now I know exactly where I am. And I trust Him to get me where I'm supposed to go. Talk about amazing.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Then, a couple of months later, his work did decide to move to Nashville and wanted to take Marc with them. During that time I think the Lord was working on my heart, because when Marc called to tell me that, I said,"Let's go!" I just kept thinking - "possibilities!" Where did that come from? Now I can see it came directly from the heart of our Heavenly Father. He has provided in every single way getting us from Phoenix to this place.
Once we got settled in, we found a wonderful church home at Calvary Chapel Rivergate. Within about a month, Marc was playing his bass on the worship team. His job was a lot harder than in Phoenix, but it was good. The kids started school and were starting to make friends. I was left alone in our beautiful house with a beautiful view and nothing to do. I can't leave the house unless someone takes me out, so there were many weeks that I only got out on Sundays to go to church or the doctor. In Phoenix, I was involved in our women's Bible study. I had friends coming over on a pretty regular basis. I had a lot of times to go out and do something. I knew what my pupose was. I was very comfortable and content.
After reality began to sink in, and it didn't feel like we were just on a long vacation, I started feeling so useless. I know I have an important job as a wife and mother. I love that job. But I just didn't know what my purpose was beyond that. When Marc and the kids would leave for work and school, I would have hours of time slowly ticking away. As I started making friends at church, and I would get to go out for coffee and a little shopping, or have really great talks on the phone.
But there were still all of these empty hours. At times I felt trapped. Trapped in this MS body, trapped in my wheelchair, even trapped in my house. In so many ways this move has been the best thing for us, but so hard for me personally. I've had to learn to trust Jesus and His plan for my life, to be content in a whole new way. I've had my faith tested and learned again that God does ALL things well. I'm not trapped. I only start feeling that way when I take my eyes off the Lord and I start trying to figure everything out. I forgot that my greatest purpose is to love and be loved by Almighty God.
One of the first Scriptures I learned was Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. I still forget, and He still reminds me. And now He has given me something to do! I have this blog.
His purpose for me here looks different than it looked in Phoenix. He has brought wonderful new friends into my life and expanded my heart to welcome them in. He has brought our family closer together and drawn me closer to Himself.
No matter where we are, our abilities or inabilities, our strengths or weaknesses, our God can use us. He loves each one of His dear children and He has wonderful, good plans for us.
'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.' -Jeremiah 29:11
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The medicine I take for it was not helping anymore so we decided to have a pump surgically implanted that would give the medicine directly to my spinal cord. I had the surgery 1 month ago. It was outpatient, but it was no small thing. The pump is the size of a hockey puck and is under the skin in my abdomen. It has a catheter that had to be "tunneled" around my side and then inserted into the spinal fluid that surrounds the spinal cord. The first 2 weeks were pretty rough. I got a monster spinal headache so I had to be flat on my back for 5 days. And I wasn't really seeing a lot of improvement in my spasticity.
I was really a mess, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I kept going around in circles in my head, wondering if I really did the right thing, did I wait for God's answer or did I just presume I was supposed to do it, why did I ever think it was a good idea to have this crazy thing done to my body, and was this thing even on??? I put up all my walls, and reverted to my default emotion--anger. It's always easier for me to be angry when things get crazy. But what I was really feeling was afraid, because my MS was getting worse and I just didn't know what would happen next. So I kind of shut everyone out, including Jesus. That is no good place to be.
Two weeks after the surgery, I got up and went to Jesus. As I poured out my heart to Him, He poured out His grace and love and forgiveness and healing all over me. He gave me the strength to accept and embrace His will for my life. Even if that includes a whole bunch of suffering. What matters most is that He loves me and is using all of it to draw me closer to Himself. And honestly, there is no place I'd rather be.
When I was still walking and I had to start using a cane, that became my new normal. And the same with my wheelchair and now with my pump (which IS on and working very nicely). I have found that when I give to Jesus my complete surrender, He gives to me His peace and His grace so that no matter what comes my way, it can be my new normal.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The book is available at the bottom of my blog. I hope it blesses you and touches your heart right where you need it.
I had to put all those things aside, and take a chance. I am so glad I did! I told Marc what I had in mind for the picture, and within about 10 minutes he had it all set up, and there it is! The teacup belonged to Grandma Dooley, the lovliest of women, so it is extra special.
Then you all left me encouraging comments on here and on Facebook, and again my cup overflows with the love and support of my wonderful family and friends. Throughout all these years of living with MS each one of you have helped me in your own special way. I wish I had enough words to say what it means to me to be accepted and loved by so many extraordinary people. Thank you for praying for me, for your phone calls at just the right time, for lending a shoulder to cry on, for making something that is so hard feel a whole lot easier.
My Love to You,