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Monday, June 28, 2010

Out of the Darkness

When I wrote The Big Fatigue Bus, my heart was so heavy with so much, and I couldn't seem to make sense of it all. But I knew that the thing I could do was trust my Jesus. I read a poem about letting go of things so that your hands could be free for God to fill them up with His blessings. Sometimes when I'm really struggling with something, I don't even really know what "things" I am holding on to. I wanted to let them go, but I couldn't see them. It was dark in my cup full of sorrow.

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

Bright Hope

I just read that Joni Eareckson Tada has breast cancer. I met her only once, but I feel such a connection with her. The Lord has really used her to help me see the beauty that He brings from the ashes of suffering. And even in this, she said that she knows that God will use this to brighten her hope. I can't stop thinking about that. Oh to have Jesus brighten my hope as I trust Him through this rough time I'm going through and through all of my days!

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

Big Fatigue Bus

For the last week or so I've been dealing with MS fatigue. This is what the National MS Society says about it:

...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

Kingdom of Comfort

There is a song by the band, Delirious, called "Kingdom of Comfort", and he goes on to say "where I am king". I just keep thinking about that line and asking myself, am I trying to create for myself a kingdom of comfort where I am king? To be completely honest with myself, the answer is yes. Not always, but I'm thinking that even a little is too much. For me anyway.

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

Sense of Direction

My husband Marc has an amazing sense of direction. I have been so impressed by the way he just knows how to get where we need to go. I always thought it was great, but seeing it in action in Nashville I'm kind of in awe. One road can have 3-5 different names, depending on where you are. And unlike Phoenix, which is basically a flat grid, there are all kinds of curves and hills and ever changing scenery. We don't have a GPS. It's completely unnecessary. All it takes is driving somewhere one time and that imformation is perfectly transferred to Marc's mental map. Like I said, amazing.

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

Purpose

We have been here in lovely Mount Juliet, Tennessee for 1 year. We are about 20-30 minutes away from downtown Nashville, which is such a cool place. When Marc first told me his job might involve moving to Nashville, I was pretty upset. I asked him if he wanted to live in Nashville. His answer was an immediate "NO!" He asked me and my answer was, "NO!" End of discussion.

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

Making it the New Normal

One of the symptoms I struggle with, besides the not walking thing, is spasticity. It has been around since I was first diagnosed. It mostly affects my legs, making them shake and/or go rigid pretty much every time I move. Besides all the energy it uses, it would make sleeping difficult. If I needed to change positions, my legs would just go, shaking me and our bed like crazy. I would ask Marc, "Did you put a quarter in the bed?"

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

My Book

I wrote a book a couple years ago. I started writing it about 6 months after my legs decided to go on vacation, leaving me in a wheelchair. It really helped me to keep seeking the Lord during the hardest time in my life. The title is about life after wheelchair, but I think you could probably insert whatever trial, heartache or whatever hard thing you're going through in the "wheelchair" spot. The book isn't only about MS or a wheelchair, it's about hope and life. It's about Jesus and the beautiful things He does in a heart that is surrendered to Him. I like to read it on my anniversary date, which is May 1st. That always makes me laugh because it's on Mayday..."Mayday, Mayday! I can't walk anymore!" It's not a sad day for me, it's actually kind of sweet. I can look back on all the days gone by and remember how my Father has taken very special care of me. My favorite thing is when I was in bed looking at my wheelchair one day and I heard the Lord speak so softly and clearly to me. He said, "This is where I have taught you how much I love you."
The book is available at the bottom of my blog. I hope it blesses you and touches your heart right where you need it.

Love,
Ylisa

Thank You!

When I was thinking and praying about starting a blog I just felt so nervous. I know I wrote my book, but I haven't written anything since. What if I can't think of anything to write about? What if nobody reads it? And you know...

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,
Ylisa

Monday, June 7, 2010

Here I Go!

A couple months ago my friend suggested that I write a blog. Hmmm... Last week a different friend said the same thing. And hmmmm... I don't really consider myself a writer, I'm more of a talker. But I think I'll give this a go.


My name is Ylisa Dooley. I have been married for 15 years to an amazing man, Marc, and we have 2 children. Nate is will be 11 in August and Hannah is 9. One year ago our family packed up and moved from Phoenix, Arizona to Nashville, Tennessee. We are very happy to call this beautiful place home.


A little over 14 years ago I put my trust in my Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior. And 6 weeks later I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At the young age of 22 I was faced with a decision. Was I going to turn my back on God for letting this happen to me, or would I fall into the arms of the One who called my name and promised to take care of me. With hardly a pause I knew where I belonged, safely hidden in the shelter of my Mighty God. What a joy to look back and see his unfailing love and steadfast faithfulness to me and my family.


For the last 5 years I have been in a wheelchair. I have learned more, cried more, laughed more, grown more, hoped more and loved more than any other time in my life. There have been times when I thought I had lost my joy, but the Lord continues to restore unto me His joy, so much that my cup overflows.


My hope in sharing my life with you is that your cup will overflow too.


Ylisa