Tag Archives: takayasu’s arteritus

A series of small explosions

life easierThis morning while I was breezing through the kitchen I caught sight of a Christmas present.  A sign hanging above the mudroom doorway that says “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” A favorite verse, a needed reminder. As I went about my business and tried to focus my twitchy, squirmy thoughts together I was reminded that “still” is so often harder than it seems when it comes to our minds. (Maybe this is just a phenomenon I suffer from.)  I was breezing through the kitchen with a load of laundry to add to the piles that needed washed, while mentally creating a list of things I needed to get from the store before the next big snow storm hits (new totals up to 10 inches in the next 24 hours with wind chill values of -25.)  I was also digesting the last couple of days while looking around at the Christmas stuff that needs taken down (I feel like I just got it up!) and trying to figure out the upcoming week’s schedule for back-to-school, practices, travel, work, doctor’s appointments, etc.   We ended 2013 and kicked off 2014 with a bang! Actually it was more like a series of small explosions.  Curve balls that life keeps throwing and I try to keep batting away, so as not to strike out.  It is mentally exhausting in addition to being at times physically trying.  I am not complaining (at least not much) and I keep asking, “Really? More?” God really does have a sense of humor and my prayer the last couple of days is “Lord, I really don’t need any more raw footage to write about. Some quiet would be very much appreciated.” I refuse to ask the question, “What else could go wrong?” because I really don’t want to know.  Nothing that has crossed the plate over the last few weeks has been a tragedy or crisis and I am thankful for that.  There have been many stories very close to home over the holidays that are tragic and my heart breaks for families and individuals who truly are suffering right now.  What I am talking about is more like what I would assume Chinese water torture would be like, mentally taxing. After a flu-filled “different Christmas” (3 different strains over 10 days) I was looking forward to escaping for a night to Amish country to celebrate 15 years of being married to my husband and very best friend. (Man, I love that guy!)  We were going to watch some college football (I am a huge fan!) browse the shops and eat some wonderful food that I didn’t have to cook.  Then winter storm Hercules hit and canceled our plans.  Not a big deal, we celebrated at home, still watched football, and enjoyed our kids enjoying the sledding hill. We also had plans to finish Christmas vacation at an indoor water park with my sisters and their families.  We checked in on Friday, the kids took a quick spin on the slides and my husband took our son to basketball.  Five minutes after they left I got a notification from our security company that our the alarm was going off at home.  So after he dropped our son at basketball he returned home to talk with the police.  False alarm apparently, no footprints in the snow, nothing amiss in the house.  Then came the call from the basketball coach, our son took a charge, went knee to knee with another player and his was swollen up like a balloon.  We ended up in urgent care where x-rays were done, our daughter left to play in the water park with her cousins.  The x-rays showed no fracture but a small white spot was discovered on his femur, not common and very disconcerting according to the physicians assistant.  She wanted us to stay and wait while the radiologist read it, hoping to hear specifically about “the spot.”  The official reading came back with no mention of the spot, only the news that nothing was broken.  But what about the spot? What do we do with this piece of information? Is it something? Is it nothing? I guess that’s to be continued.  (This after having a scare at Thanksgiving when he had an ekg because of some symptoms that led to a report of an enlarged ventricle and a thickening of his heart muscle. The report was later discovered to be inaccurate but not after 5 days of prayerful wondering, worrying, and waiting.) Friday’s diagnosis was a severe knee sprain, crutches and a knee brace for a week (which we already had from his prior knee injury 9 months ago) and a follow up for an MRI to make sure everything else is intact. (I am not so sure it is…)  Three days later I am mothering a child who is frustrated about missing out on games, practices, sledding, the inability to walk up and down the steps and bend his still swollen and very sore knee.  Our daughter, and her extremely sensitive skin, came home from the water park with a mysterious face rash, and then, we’ll call it the icing on the cake, the check engine light came on in our car on the way home from our tumultuous waterpark stay.  So, to recap, in a 24 hour period, police, hospitals, rashes, and finally car trouble.  Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip.

Now you are up to speed as I again breeze through the kitchen arms loaded down this time with Christmas things that need to find a home, mind loaded down with family, work, and ministry concerns and to-dos, and sense of being tired instead of rejuvenated after Christmas “vacation.” Drip, drip, drip, drip.

I need to remind myself of my new years resolution already, only 5 days in.  Choose Faith.

And as I sit, finally still, and bring my thoughts from my head to the page, I am reminded of a few other things that I am sure will come in handy as we charge into a new year.

There are days when we need to laugh to keep from crying.  And then there are days when we’ll have to laugh as the tears roll anyway.  But laugh, always laugh.

Nobody likes to be benched but sometimes we need to “ride the pine” and get healthy again.  Interruptions are not part of our plan but they are part of life.  Remember always that God is in control, nothing is an accident. Take a deep breath and rest during your break so when your number gets called you are ready to go back in and give it 100% again.

This is real life, not a fairytale and in that some days are going to be good some days aren’t but don’t forget to be thankful. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)   Some days are going to be hard but you don’t need to do it on your own, we can do all things through Christ. (Phil 4:13)  There will be no words for some of the days we will have to face but you are never alone in any of it. (Isaiah 41:10) First, last, and always, prayer. In all of it, quit trying so hard because the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)

I leave you today with this, a very dear friend and mentor sent this to me as I was grumbling about everything that had been going on.  A simple, yet effective prayer on days when the Chinese water torture seems to be getting the best of you.

Dear God, I don’t ask you to make my life easier, but I ask You to give me the strength to face every day. Amen

Still Moments – A Resolution

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As 2013 comes to an end and you begin making all sorts of resolutions for how to make a better you and a better year for 2014 let me share some thoughts from Richard Edgley that I hope will challenge you, as they did me.

“Because of the conflicts and challenges we face in today’s world, I wish to suggest a single choice—a choice of peace and protection and a choice that is appropriate for all. That choice is faith. Be aware that faith is not a free gift given without thought, desire, or effort. It does not come as the dew falls from heaven. The Savior said, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28) and “Knock, and it shall be [given] you” (Matthew 7:7). These are action verbs—come, knock. They are choices. So I say, choose faith. Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism.”

A choice for 2014. A simple but sometimes extremely difficult choice. Faith. It’s the answer no matter what 2014 holds.

What’s your resolution this year? I’d love to hear from you!

We interrupt this Christmas celebration to bring you Joy…

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This last “interruption” post has been on my to-do list since the beginning of the week. A week which started with another dead car battery. (My car now has a brand new one, I am not going to play that morning guessing game anymore.) So this meant that my 8th grader was unexcused for the 40 min that he missed while I charged the battery and drove the 20 min to school and has to make up that time. I was at two different hospitals that day, once to visit Hannah who had to be intubated early Monday morning and then to pick up my 3 year old niece while my sister sat with another family member at the ER. Tuesday was the day I had slated to bake Christmas cookies and wrap presents until I received a mid-morning call that said 8th grader was vomiting and needed picked up. So needless to say, it’s been quite a week, (and it’s only barely half over.) Thankfully, aside from assorted practices, my fifth grader has remained healthy and even keeled this week.  Even still I have found myself  asking a very important question as  frustration begins creeping into my days.  “Tragedy or inconvenience?” Sometimes in the midst it is easy to confuse the two.

My segment on joy was actually planned to be a video clip from a women’s program that I took part in last Friday evening. But true to the way of the week, first I couldn’t find the cable for the video camera and then the sound was sub-par. Soooo…here goes joy, in written form. I hope it will have the same impact.
 

 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”  13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,  and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  (Luke 2:8-14)

So not only did angels proclaim peace that night, they also promised great joy. Joy to the world, right? Tis the season for joy. But the fact is it’s been a rough year for many and there’s not much joy in sight this Christmas. Sadness and hurt are all we see. I understand that. Many of you know my story, but for those of you who don’t let me share just a bit with you. When I was 23 years old, we experienced the death of our son at 32 weeks into my pregnancy. That was in October. Do the math and you will find that I was due in the middle of December. What most people don’t know is that my plans for our Christmas cards that year were birth announcements. I had visions of two little boys on Christmas morning in matching pajamas, the whole bit. So for me, that Christmas was like the back-handed slap of life. I had only barely begun to heal from our son’s death when the hole that was left became ever more pronounced when there was no baby at Christmas. I can remember telling my parents” I am just not feeling it this year. ” It felt like joy had given up on me. No matter how hard I tried, and pretended for the sake of those around me I just couldn’t convince myself deep down. Ten years later I spent the entire Christmas season undergoing a series of medical tests that continued to bring more questions than answers. That entire season was overshadowed by the cloud of fear, no terror. All I knew was the doctors were very concerned which in turn made me very concerned, and has ended in a diagnosis of an extremely rare and incurable autoimmune disease. I get it if you are sitting here tonight, humoring whoever it is that invited you. But I am so glad you are here because let me tell you today as I stand on the other side of that fear and joy-lessness, sometimes you just need time, sometimes you need to take the outstretched hand of someone else who loves you even when you don’t want to, but no matter what, if you are going to find your way out, it always takes God. The miracle of Christmas is that your story isn’t over. My story did not end there. God is not indifferent to your pain. In fact, He left eternity and came to earth to show how much he cares. He came to live with us and die for us. Your story of mistakes, sadness, shame, and hurt, my story of grief and fear, are erased and re-written by God’s unmerited love. This Christmas, if you are looking for peace, for joy, for love, you’ll find it in Jesus because He is the promise. I bring you good news of great joy. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you, straight from Jesus himself. For God so loved you and me that He sent His son to be born and die in a world where the no vacancy sign was lit. There is hope and I would love nothing more than to share that hope with you this Christmas.

It starts with making room…

Read the entire interruption series beginning with Hannah’s story, then Hope, Comfort, and finally, Peace.

We interrupt this Christmas celebration to bring you Hope…

hope was born

Celebrate on Christmas morn, the day that love and hope were born.

Hope…I believe hope is an appropriate place to start this Christmas journey.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Optimism is a tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation. (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)

Both of these definitions talk about hope but hope in what?

I know what I hope.  I hope that my own disease stays in remission.  With every blood test, MRI, and blood pressure reading…I hope. I hope that the inflammation in my arteries disappears, that it is totally and completely gone.  I hope that I become the case that baffles the doctors and they can’t figure out what they had seen before and why it isn’t there anymore and then I hope that it never comes back.

We all have hopes.  I can’t help but think of Hannah’s parents (read Hannah’s miraculous story) and all of the hopes that they have for her.  What do you hope for? Maybe the better question is what or who do you hope in? Mine is more than the whimsical, baseless optimism of the world because I have prayer and I have faith in that prayer and in the power of the God who hears those prayers. There is real comfort because my faith is not in the things of this world, but in God. The God who made the world, parted the sea, tumbled the walls of Jericho, shut the lions mouths, silenced the storm, made the blind to see, made the lame to walk, and emptied the tomb forever, is listening to my prayers, to your prayers, and He cares! I will say that again, because I know I need to hear it continually, I think we all do – God cares for us! Miracles are His specialty. Big prayers answered are an opportunity for us to glorify Him!

Hope is a very strong feeling. Even in bad situations hope is there. The psalms are a wonderful illustration of this. They usually end with praise: God is good, God loves, God is faithful. But before we can get to the praise, we hear the hurt, we hear the doubt: Why have you abandoned me? Why are you not listening to me? So while there is hope, it is growing out of a place of pain.

The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder brinks, a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees

O holy night, the night that hope was born. A baby who brings hope to the weary. A baby who brings a new dawn after the darkest night.

I read the following description of the first Christmas by Annie Dieselberg, CEO and Founder of NightLight, and feel that many of us can probably relate, at least in part. It’s messy, and stressful, filled with disappointment and discomfort. But where does hope appear? Right in the middle of it! God with us, in the flesh. In the mess, in the pain, in the hurt, in the uncertainty, God with us! Hope showed up!

I realized long ago that few Christmases are actually idyllic. In fact the first Christmas was anything but picture perfect. Mary and Joseph did not stop at a midnight mass to ponder the coming of their Savior. The political climate was chaotic and oppressive. People were forced to return to their city of birth for the census and the dirt roads would have been crowded, dusty, and noisy. Personal transportation was a donkey not a car with air conditioning and there were no noise-reduction headphones. There was no fast food and no convenient rest areas with picnic tables and clean bathrooms. On top of all this, Mary was experiencing the discomfort of riding on a donkey with a huge belly while experiencing labor pains.
Arriving in Bethlehem was only a temporary relief to the weary travelers, as the inns were full. Since in those days people didn’t hide out in their hotel rooms watching TV and ordering pizza to eat in seclusion, they would have been gathering around fires to cook their food in community. Children would have been running around and parents would have been yelling after the children to behave. In the midst of this chaos, Joseph was under pressure to find a place immediately for his wife to give birth. Joseph is usually portrayed as calm through it all, but from my own experience and stories of others, few men are actually that calm when their wife is about to deliver their first child. Sure they were given a stable but that’s kind of like finally getting a hotel room only to find the bed uncomfortable, the carpet stained, mold on the walls, and the odor of the previous tenant still lingering – not even a 2 star hotel. Somehow we have spiritualized everything to look so idyllic. I can’t think of anything idyllic about going through labor in a stable surrounded by animals. Mary and Joseph’s moment for reflection and wonder probably only came after an intensive labor and after a visit by the Shepherds. There was little in this first Christmas that was quiet, beautiful, or private by worldly standards.
Jesus came in the midst of chaos and he came into community accessible to all. He didn’t come to bring us a picture perfect Christmas. He came in the flesh, bringing hope to a chaotic world desperately in need. He came to a world in political upheaval because hope of peace is needed in these moments. He came to broken communities because He is the hope for better relationships. He came in the dark night because He is the hope that light will shine and overcome the darkness. He came to our stressed and burdened lives because he is Christ in us the hope of glory.

Because of this I have more than just hope, I have assurance. I know that God is sovereign and in control and that no matter what  my tests show this month or three months from now God has already forseen it, and He will never leave me. I know that God has been by my side through the trials of yesterday and he will continue to uphold all of us though the trials of tomorrow and if there can’t be true comfort found in that I don’t know where else we can possibly find it. The things of this world will crumble and fade away but we have an awesome, eternal, all powerful God who is just waiting on us to say – “Help. I can’t do this on my own anymore.” It’s the reason he came to us in the humblest of ways. If there is anything that I have learned it is this, no matter what happens today, or in the future, we have a loving God who hurts when we hurt, cries when we cry, and celebrates with us in the victories, both large and small. I know that God will provide us, all of us, with everything that we need for today and beyond that we don’t need to worry because He is holding this all together, and that is where we find hope.

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” (Psalm 33:22)
“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them– the LORD, who remains faithful forever” (Psalm 146:5,6)

I again make a heartfelt plea on behalf of Hannah. Please join me in lifting her up in prayer and in sustaining her family with hope this Christmas.

Hope is a Savior
Who was born in the manger
Sent down from Heaven
To rescue our hearts
Hope is a promise
For a better tomorrow
In a world filled with sorrow
We always have hope
Our Christmas hope
-The Christmas Hope, NewSong