Heal

WordPress Daily Post Heal (one word prompt)

To heal. To fill in the holes. To cleanse the wounds. To dry the tears. To mend the break.

The Lord takes the weak, the needy and the broken and He heals.

He brings Clarity to situations that were once chaos.

He brings Wholeness to places that were just pieces.

He brings Wisdom to minds that were just confusion.

The Lord still heals.

I know this because each day

He is filling me,

mending me,

cleansing me,

Healing me.

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Where Was God in All of This – Part III

Years went by and I continued on with my rare disease of aHUS (Where Was God in All of This–Part I). Each birthday that passed, I thanked God for another year. I would soon learn that many with my disease had not been so fortunate.

Around 2013, 12 years after my original diagnosis, my kidneys began a further slow decline. The doctor could offer no specific reason for the decline, just that my kidney had been suffering a long time and they were probably beginning to tire out. We decided our goal would be to avoid dialysis so I should begin testing for a future kidney transplant.

I left that appointment and at least 5 more future appointments in denial but also compliant to my doctor’s wishes.

I began the testing process at the UW Medical Center in Seattle. I looked at each step along the way as something I was just doing “just in case” the time came. In my mind, I wasn’t really going to have a transplant. God would spare me from that. After all, He had kept me for the last 12 years.

When I finally met with the nephrologist (kidney specialist) at the transplant clinic, my delusion came crashing down. “You are now wavering between 13 and 20% and most of the time closer to the 13% range. We don’t see any reason to wait to do the surgery. You are healthy, aside from your kidney disease, so this is the time to do it.”

I left that appointment shaking. In fact, much of the time over the next few months, I found myself shaking.

My loving brother-in-law endured all of the necessary testing and would be my donor. We were all set in January 2015. A date was chosen, plans were made, and peace flooded my heart.

But, God…Doctors, nurses, coordinators, myself, my family, my brother-in-law, his family, our employers…all of us here on earth put our hope and plans on that transplant date. But, God…(Read about His plan here: (A Welcome Interruption)

In  Genesis 22:1-19, one of the ultimate “But, God “stories is told. Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his beloved, long-awaited for son, Isaac. Abraham is given specific instruction on where to go and what to do. I imagine Abraham shaking as he prepared for the journey they would take up the mountain to the place of the sacrifice. I imagine him hesitating at times, waiting for God to intervene. Whatever fear or uncertainty Abraham faced, he didn’t allow it to deter him from his obedience to God. He traveled the 50 miles to the appointed spot, without knowing what the next step would be. Abraham proceeded just as God directed him, without knowing how it would all turn out.

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In the end, just as Abraham raised the knife to Isaac, the Lord sent an angel who called out to Abraham to, “Stop!” Can you imagine the relief? But, again, Abraham didn’t know what would follow. But, again, his trust was in God. He would continue to obey each step as God led.

Ultimately, God spared Isaac and now we have the beautiful example of Abraham’s trust in God to encourage us to obey each step without knowing what will happen next.

When my transplant was cancelled, I had no idea what God intended. Was it just a delay? Was he going to lead me to dialysis?

My Abraham/Isaac moment came when my transplant was cancelled and then through some research online, I discovered a medication called Soliris (Eculizumab). The Lord led me to a Facebook group for people with aHUS. Having never met anyone face-to-face with aHUS, I was so excited to connect with people who shared the same disease. I learned that almost all of them received Soliris, a bi-weekly infusion that kept the disease under control. Many of them experienced increased kidney function through the use of the medication.

Lord, is this from you? Is this medication like the ram you provided for Abraham to sacrifice rather than sacrificing his son?

Each step that followed was directed from the Lord. I walked forward with my trust in God.

If this is your plan, Lord, you will provide a doctor in my area with knowledge about this medication. Through the aHUS Facebook group, I discovered there was a doctor just 30 miles from here that currently provided care for 2 other patients with aHUS and prescribed Soliris for them.

If this is your plan, Lord, you will make a way for me to continue to homeschool, while receiving this medication. Part way through my meeting with the doctor, he asked me if I knew that he had another location where he sees patients. I discovered his other location was exactly 3 miles from my home and I could receive the medication there!

If this is your plan, Lord, the side effects from the medication will be tolerable so I can continue in my calling to teach and parent my girls. Even during the very first infusion, I felt no different during or after the treatment. No negative side effects at all. Praise God. My girls come with me to my infusion. We work on school work at the clinic and finish at home.

Why did the Lord lead me all the way up to the week before my scheduled transplant only to cancel it?

Why did the Lord lead Abraham all the way up the mountain, only to cancel the sacrifice of Isaac and provide a lamb instead?

When the angel of the Lord stopped Abraham up on that mountain, He said, “Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

If the Lord had stopped my transplant when I was still in the fearful, denial, shaking stage, He would not have known my trust in Him. I would not have known my trust in Him. But, in walking each step, I loosened my grasp on my life and began to hold it out to the Lord. Finally, I was at peace with what the Lord called me to do, fully lay my life in His hands. That’s when He could call out, “Stop! Do not continue! I see your trust. I have a different plan!”

And, I could reply, “Here I am! I am yours, Lord. Finally, my life is yours!”

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Read more about my aHUS journey: Where Was God in All of This–Part I and Where Was God in All of This–Part II

Where Was God in All of This–Part II

I have seen God’s hand in my life all throughout the 15 years since receiving the diagnosis of  aHUS(atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome).

In Isaiah 61:3, God’s Word says, he will bring beauty from ashes.

When I think about ashes, I think of the aftermath of a warm, comforting fire. A fire in a fireplace is both beautiful and powerful. Beautiful in that it produces a comforting warmth, but powerful in the burning heat it generates. But, after the fire dies out, all that’s left is a smoldering pile of powdery black ash. No beauty and no power. No pretty colors, or dancing flames.

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But, God’s Word says He will bring beauty from ashes. He’s in the business of taking what Satan meant for harm and using it to build up the one He loves.

Prior to my diagnosis, I was living my life mainly for me. I had my plan for each day, my goals I was pursuing, and my mind was pretty well occupied with ME.

When my world came to a screeching halt, I found that some days, I was waking up asking, “What do you have for me today, God?” I wasn’t going to work. I was no longer attending my master’s program classes. My life slowed way down and I was beginning to see things differently.

One day, I was walking through the mall, with no intention of shopping. I studied the people walking by me. I saw people smiling, laughing, quickly walking to their next stop, dealing with crying children. I began making a judgment about each person. None of them were struggling with anything as big as what I was struggling with. None of them had just come from having plasmapherisis. None of them were 25 years old and having to make the decision of whether to try the chemotherapy the doctor was suggesting “might put the disease into remission”.

But, as God was working my ashes into beauty, He opened my eyes to the fact that no one at the mall knew my struggle. They couldn’t look at me and see that I was carrying a life threatening disease inside of my cells. They couldn’t see the plastic tubes implanted in my chest, hanging out of my body, like extra limbs. They would never know the doctor had just hours earlier showed me lab results indicating my kidney function was now less than 30%.

My next thought was, I don’t know their struggle either. 

Maybe the woman I just passed with the designer jeans, perfect hair and make up, arms full of packages, deals with financial issues due to her shopping addiction.

Maybe the mom I passed with the crying kids is a single mom, trying to raise her children all on her own.

Maybe the teenage boy I passed by is strugling with temptation and is surrounded by friends who use drugs.

I don’t know the trials they are facing. And, although my trial was huge for me, their trial was huge for them.

Reflecting on my afternoon at the mall later at home, I wrote in my journal. God was opening my eyes to the fact that everyone has struggles. I was not the only one and my pity party needed to stop.

Further on down the page, I wrote the craziest thing. I would erase it and then rewrite it again. I would stare at it. Look away for a while. Look back. There it was.

My disease is a gift. 

“God, is this okay? I have been praying for you to take away this disease for months. Is it okay to see it as…a gift?”

With time, I realized God was okay with that. In fact, He was more than okay with that.

The Bible is full of talk about thankfulness. Here are a few of my favorites:

Ephesians 5:20, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”

Psalm 100:4, Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

I began to see that I really had two choices, bitter or better. I could be bitter about my situation, or I could allow God to make me better through my situation. I have spent time with both choices. Stuck in bitterness, resentment, self-centeredness. I found no gain with bitterness. My situation didn’t change, my disease didn’t go away, but I just added to my problems with my spiteful attitude. Bitterness led to further ashes in my life.

In Ephesians, the Bible tell us to put away all bitterness.

The gift came through this trial when I let go of bitterness, let go of my grasp. And, let God transform my ashes into beauty. 

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Stayed tuned for Part III of Where Was God in All of This

Read Part I, here: Where Was God in All of This–Part I

Where Was God in All of This–Part I

atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

Rare. Unusual. Uncommon. 4 in 10 million of the population per year. An estimated 5 people in my state of Washington.

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I spent my life trying to blend in. Never wanting to stand out in anyway. In middle school, when my classes started issuing monthly academic awards, I promptly lowered my standard in completing my work as to not stand out amongst my peers. I worked hard at not drawing attention to myself.

In 2001, my world changed, and I became very weird, which caused me to stand out among everyone I know.

I drove myself to the emergency room, certain that I had a bad kidney infection. An hour into my time at the hospital, I learned my kidneys and liver were failing and my blood pressure was through the roof.

The doctor was talking about crazy things like inserting a catheter, starting dialysis, steroids, transfusions. What normal 25-year-old does all that? Get me out of here.

After about 24 hours, my doctor diagnosed  me with HUS (this later changed to aHUS: atypical Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome). I had a special catheter placed in my chest and I began plasmapherisis (removal, treatment, and return of  blood plasma from blood) and dialysis.

New Life

To say this was a scary time is the biggest understatement I can fathom. My body was in a constant trembling state.

That summer was spent at the hospital. Doctors said I would most likely never return to teaching again. Life as I knew it, seemed to be a memory.

I was living a whole new life filled with nurses, doctors, and medications.

Along with fear, I was also dealing with feeling like somehow I had failed myself. What had I done to cause this? And, why couldn’t I fix it?  I was weak and dependent.

Dependent on a freezer bag full of medications for daily blood pressure control. Dependent on tubes in my chest to receive medical treatment. Dependent on blood donations of others to sustain my life. Dependent on doctors and nurses.

Where was God in all of this?

At first, I distanced myself from Him. I remember one dark night, alone in my room, having this very real feeling that God or at least one of His angels was sitting in the corner of my room. He was sad. At the time, I thought He was sad due to my seemingly hopeless situation. I was in a pattern of trying different chemotherapies, receiving plasma exchanges 3-7 times a week, taking high doses of steroids, and watching my lab work virtually go unchanged. God must be as sad and depressed as I was. I was a pitiful sight.

The Lord never performed an overnight miracle in me. I have never had the experience of going to the doctor and hearing him declare, “We can’t explain it, but you are healed!”

He’s kept me close to Him by providing just what I need for the day. You know, “Give us this day, our daily bread…” He gives me enough energy to accomplish His will for the day. He gives me just enough kidney function to stay off dialysis, but not enough to forget my need for Him. He keeps my blood pressure steady, but gives me no way of controlling my blood pressure on my own. The Lord gives me what I need, no more, no less. 

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No Overnight Healing

I have thought about the Lord’s sadness during the early years of my illness, when I imagined Him crying along with me. He wasn’t hopeless. He was longing for me to trust Him in my heartache. He was hurting with me, but He knew that I would one day find deep peace in Him, but I wasn’t there yet. He knew that one day, He would make me an overcomer, but for now I was weak. He knew that one day, I’d stop focusing on my illness, and focus on my Healer. 

In John chapter 6, Jesus feeds 5,000 men with only 2 small fish and 5 pieces of bread. No one can deny this miracle. But, as I reread the familiar story, I look for where Jesus says, “Hey, everyone! Watch this! I am about to perform a miracle. Everyone is starving and in need of food. Now abracadabra, (sparks flying) let there be food!” The disciples gasp, “Ooh, aah! Amazing!” No, instead I read, ‘”Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wantedHe did the same with the fish.”‘

miracles-of-jesus-feeding-5000-1127601-wallpaper In the 15 years since my diagnosis, I have never experienced a flashy display of healing. Instead, I have experienced the faithful love, guidance, protection, teaching, molding, sanctifying, steady healing of My Savior. I have experienced mere men telling me I will never teach again, I will never be a mom, my kidneys will not last, and I have seen the Lord’s supernatural answer to mere men. You will teach! You will be a mom! Your kidneys will hang in there! And, I have experienced something far greater than physical healing, I have experienced soul healing. 

And, I have seen God’s answer to my problem of being unusual…He says, you are precious in My sight.

Read Part II here: Where Was God in All of This–Part II

Spiritual Blessings Come Wrapped in Trials

This is an edited journal entry from my Caring Bridge site written one week after my kidney transplant was cancelled. (Originally written 1/24/15)

A portion of today’s Jesus Calling reads, “If you have the world’s peace–everything going your way–you don’t seek My unfathomable Peace. Thank Me when things do not go your way, because spiritual blessings come wrapped in trials. Adverse circumstances are normal in a fallen world. Expect them each day. Rejoice in the face of hardship, for I have overcome the world.

My kindergarten classroom sat quiet as all the students had left school already. Putting the last few things away on a shelf while my girls played with blocks and puzzles, my phone rang.

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The doctor began talking right away, as I sat stunned. It was surreal, hearing the doctor say the words. I had to repeat back to him what I heard him say just to be sure it was really happening. I asked him if he was positive and he repeated again that surgery was cancelled.

My kidney transplant surgery, which was to happen in 6 days, was cancelled.

Cancelled. The tears came and wouldn’t stop. Shaking, dizzy and unsure of what to do, I sank down into one of the tiny child-sized chairs.

The doctor continued on to explain that the melanoma I had removed on my foot a couple of months prior had been deeper than he originally thought. Standard protocol with cancer, is that the patient must be cancer free for 2 years before preceding with a transplant and being put on immune suppressing medications.

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Mikayla and Abby ran to me, asking over and over, “Mom, what is it? What’s wrong?”

“The surgery is cancelled. I won’t be receiving a new kidney.”

“What? What do you mean, Mom? Why? You need that kidney.” Their questions were followed by loud sobbing.

Initially, I was certain, the girls were disappointed in the change of plans because they wouldn’t be staying with Grandma for a while now. When 7 year old Abby managed to choke out the words, “But mom, you are always so tired. This was going to help you,” I know I wasn’t giving them enough credit…they got it.

Oh, Lord, how will we get through this? This was not the plan. You had worked out all the details to get us to this point.

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Though others had stepped forward to be donors, my brother-in-law, Dave, had the same blood type and was a healthy, perfect kidney donor for me. He was prepared and excited to make this sacrifice.

Almost immediately, the Lord brought to mind the best example I have of MY plans suddenly changing and HIS better plan taking over. Once again, I shared this story with my girls as they stopped sobbing and looked me in the eye.

It was about 10 years ago. Jeff and I had completed our home study for adoption and I was desperate to be a mom. A birth mom saw our ad, called me, and set up a time to meet. We met her for dinner and learned she was about 8 months pregnant. The meeting went well, so well in fact, that she called me a couple days later and said she had chosen us to raise her baby.

I could think of nothing other than this baby that would be ours! I was overcome with joy! She would be in contact with our adoption attorney and we would just wait. Well, 2 weeks went by and there was no contact. I called her to make sure she was okay and she told me that she had changed her mind, we would not be raising her baby.

Just like that, that plan was ripped out from under our feet. All the details, planning, excitement, hoping…gone.

The same surreal feeling flooded my heart. I was devastated, heart broken. I thought, “How long will I have to wait, Lord? And, will I EVER get to be a mom?”

About 2 weeks later, we received a call from a social worker about a baby that would be born in about 2 weeks. A week after the phone call, we met the birth family. One week later, Mikayla was born! She was ours and we were in love! We couldn’t take our eyes off her. The heartbreak from the previous month was completely erased, forgotten. God’s better, sovereign plan took over.

I don’t know how or when we’ll have that moment of clarity with our current situation, but I know it’s coming. Because God’s word assures me, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5.

I did not know how God would get us through that time or how He would bring clarity but of His power, I was more certain than ever. There were so many humans involved with my transplant…some who know Him and many that do not. The Lord exerted His will over the entire situation and put me in my place…my rightful place, resting in His shadow, waiting on Him to move next. 

Jeremiah 32:17 ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You.

 

A Welcome Interruption

Over the years, I have acquired two titles that make me a leader over others: teacher and mom. Both of those titles carry with them the idea that the leader may know more than the ones they are leading. Somewhere along the lines, I began living like I needed to have it all figured out. My growth was stunted and I actually became stuck. Not truly open to new learning or stretching, I plugged along, feeling discouraged.

From the outside, I appeared to be interested in strengthening my faith. I would attend church, read Christian books, listen to sermons, pray, and attend Bible studies. Some teaching would resonate in my heart but it did not evoke action on my part. I remained like a new believer in my faith. “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” 1 Corinthian 13:11. The only problem was, I wasn’t “putting the ways of childhood behind me”.

Pride was the ugly enemy causing my fall. Truly ugly. Pride is an embarrassing quality to confess. Pride kept me from confessing my pride. Who wants to admit to “having an excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance”. The truth was that I was surrounded by God’s truth, yet I was still walking in my own strength and taking my own path. Pride.

But, God interrupted that cycle. The door-closed-w-little-boyinterruption came when exactly one week before my scheduled kidney transplant, the doctor called to cancel the surgery. As Christians, we often hear and use the phrase, “God closed the door.” This disruption came as a slammed door. My whole life had been centered around having that surgery. The testing process took about a year and literally required close to 100 appointments. In my mind, everything was lining up and the kidney transplant was the next step for me. My kidneys were slowly declining, I had a kidney donor all lined up, and the doctor said it was time to take the next step and have a transplant. But, then the interruption. It came in the form of melanoma on my foot and the resulting phone call, “you must be cancer free for 2 years and then we can resume testing for a kidney transplant.”

The Lord gained my attention and ultimately took my focus off myself by a mighty work of His Sovereignty. Suddenly, I witnessed His power first hand. Prior to this experience, I had many testimonies about God working in my life, but none as powerful as the time when He stamped His Sovereignty on my heart. The chains of pride were crushed and I stood in awe of my Creator. There was brief shock and sorrow, followed by excitement and wonder.

A metallic chain with an explosed link.

What would He do next? One thing I knew, I wasn’t going to be plugging along, stuck in my childlike ways. No, the powerful God of the Universe shook my life up and created a hunger in me. I yearned for more of Him. Small and dependent is where I stood next to the Almighty. I was like the believers Peter wrote about, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” I Peter 2:2.

My hope and prayer is this blog might reach another person on this path with me. Finally my heart is opening up and God is creating security in me to be able to face where I am really at in my walk with Him. I have been a believer for 18 years but am just recently becoming soft enough to truly hear from Him and follow Him. Is that where you are? Or, is that what you desire? Maybe we can encourage each other. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25.