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POTS UPDATE ON SARAH

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A great deal of progress has been made since I last posted two months ago about Sarah’s POTS’ saga.  The purpose of sharing our journey is to get the word out about POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) and dysautonomia.  We also want to share any treatments that have worked for Sarah in hopes they may help others on this journey.

First of all, we’re very happy to have found an Electrophysiologist (which is a subspeciality of cardiology) who treats POTS.  This new doctor is only about an hour from our house so we’re very glad to have found him.  We met with him for the first time in February with subdued hope that he would be able to treat Sarah.  So far, after seeing him only twice and following his recommendations, Sarah is so much better!  Let me explain…

During our first appointment, this doctor informed us that she was drinking way too much water.  Whoa!  Wait a minute!  Everything we read and have been told up to this point (for the last six months) has instructed POTS patients to increase water intake!  Of course, she has been increasing her salt intake also during this time, but apparently by drinking so much water, she was simply flushing it right out of her system.  He also told her to begin drinking Gatorade because she needs the electrolytes.  This was revolutionary for Sarah!

We immediately stocked up on Gatorade but also found an organic sports drink on Amazon that is on order, along with the salt tablets that the doctor suggested.  Now, the Gatorade and decrease in water alone have not been miracle cures; however, they have single handedly aided more in her recovery than anything else aside from the Florinef!

She has had far less fatigue and her stamina has increased incredibly so.  She is still experiencing heart palpitations and the doctor has ordered a 24 hour heart monitor for her to wear for two weeks.  We should receive that any day now.  I think that will tell the doctor in greater detail exactly what she is experiencing.

Her former cardiologist ordered a post-event heart monitor but it only captured tiny snippets of cardiac information, so I feel this will be far more telling.  Sarah is off the Atenolol, which was disastrous.

Also, another disastrous drug for Sarah was Corlanor, which the new doctor prescribed.  She only took one dose, but its effects almost sent her to the ER.  We had a very scary few days.  As with any drug, some work for some patients and not for others.

We met with the doctor a few days after the bad episode and were apprehensive that he would simply write out a new script for another potentially disastrous drug. We prayed he would have wisdom to know how to treat our Sarah and I believe he did.  That was when he ordered the heart monitor.  I am thankful that he is digging deeper to seek to understand rather than gloss over her symptoms.

Before meeting with the Electrophysiologist, I prepared a cover letter to the doctor along with Sarah’s medical history and recent lab work results.  In the letter, I stressed the importance of obtaining treatment for our daughter and if he felt that he could not treat POTS, to please let us know prior to her appointment.  I stated that we did not wish to waste his time, nor ours.  We’ve seen enough doctors in the last six months and cannot afford to run in any more circles than absolutely necessary.  Included in her medical history was a chart with all of her diagnostic testing she’s had done (CT scans, etc.) so that he could clearly see the larger picture.  I believe the more information any doctor has (especially a specialist), he is in a better position to accurately treat the patient.  (not to mention, this prevents redundancy)  Yes, we have requested medical records from previous doctors, however, we have become keenly aware that often times, things fall through the cracks.  So, we take it upon ourselves, in the interest of trying to obtain effective and thorough treatment, to deliver as much information as possible.

So, I said all of that to say … After the doctor read through our little package that preceded our visit, I’m certain he understood the importance of attempting to find treatment.  I do believe Sarah is finally in competent hands…finally!  Her last cardiologist flat out told her that he could not treat her for POTS, which is why we had to find another doctor.  So many doctors, even specialists, know very little, if anything about POTS.  Since our family has never encountered a situation like this, it has been very frustrating.  I don’t think one could truly understand unless you walked through it.

POTS is not necessarily a common illness, however it is estimated that between one million and three million people in the U.S. have it!  Wow.  Sadly, it is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. It has been called the “Invisible illness”.  If you looked at my daughter, you would see a beautiful young lady, inside and out.  She’s lovely.  Sarah is our only daughter and she’s so very special to her mom and dad!  A priceless gift!  We always tell her she’s so beautiful!  (because she is, even if she rolls her eyes, understanding that her parents are naturally biased!)  But, to look at her, you would think she is just fine.  However, POTS is a dysfunction of the autonomic (things that function on their own) nervous system.  So, all these functions are happening on the inside of the neurons and axons … all invisible to the eye.

In reality and every day life for Sarah, there are lots of things happening!  When she gets up, she feels dizzy sometimes.  She’s often nauseated because the digestive system is also impacted by POTS.  She eats gluten and dairy free and is very particular about what she eats, but problems still persist.

The fatigue has improved with the advent of Gatorade but she still has limitations.  Sleep is a big problem.  Perhaps the greatest problem at the moment is the heart palpitations and sometimes heart racing.  Those are scary symptoms for anyone, let alone an 18 year old.

Lately her joints and muscles have really been bothering her and per the new doctor’s advice, she will see a rheumatologist in May.  Often she will use essential oils on her joints to ease the pain.

I’ve only outlined the most prominent symptoms at the moment, there are seemingly countless others.  There is virtually no part of the body that POTS does not affect.  It’s all very mysterious in a way, like a maddening puzzle to solve.

We are, however, very encouraged these days to be on a good path after so many dark days!

I just want to encourage you to never give up hope if you or someone you know is sick.  Keep knocking on doctor’s doors until you find someone who knows something!  I used to think doctors were experts in all things.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Often through this ordeal, I have felt like they must be handing out medical degrees these days!  There are excellent doctors out there … it just may require a great deal of work and patience to connect with them!  But don’t give up!

My belief is that God is healing our Sarah bit by bit every day and that one day, she will walk out of this phase – completely healed!  Some days are dark.  Some days give us such hope.  But no matter what we see, our faith encourages our hearts to keep putting one foot in front of the other and press on!  Our miracle is just around the corner!

 

 

{Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor.  Nor do I play one on t.v.  Any medical advice is for informational purposes only.  Do research and seek out professional help for your particular situation.}

 

 

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Gallbladder Pain, Surgery & Recovery Tips

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Well, if pain isn’t an effective teacher, I don’t know what is!  It’ll make a believer out of you, that’s for sure.

Abdominal pain sent me to the ER on January 20th and subsequent, persistent pain led me to have a HIDA scan, which confirmed my gallbladder was only functioning at 36%.  Big surprise there.  I was in pain and I knew something was amiss!  Thankfully at my follow up appointment with my primary care doctor, he suggested I immediately make an appointment for a consultation with a good surgeon.  He gave me the name of the same surgeon who performed my daughter’s appendectomy this time last year, so I felt like I was in good hands there.  His office was able to schedule my laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gallbladder surgery) within days and I am happy to report that just a week post-op, I feel like I have a new lease on life!

Because surgery is such a big deal to those who are generally in good health and because knowing some useful tips can aid in the recovery process, I decided to post a few ideas that helped me.

So, here we go:

  1. Be your own health advocate!  Research the best doctors and hospitals in your area.  No one has your best interest at heart more than you.
  2. If something doesn’t feel right in your body, do not delay seeking medical treatment.
  3. Communicate effectively with all involved in your health care.  I prefer to type up my own “Medical History” information sheet, which includes herbal supplements I routinely take, thorough surgical history, allergies, etc.  I give this to each and every specialist I visit to ensure we are all on the same page.  I have found my efforts to be appreciated by the providers.
  4. Research but don’t over-research!  Searching medical advice out online can be a catch 22 situation.  First of all, everyone is unique in their symptoms, previous medical history and surgical outcomes.  Just because someone else has a horrible reaction to a particular drug, doesn’t mean you will.  And just because someone else has pervasive digestive issues post-op, doesn’t mean you will either.  Take everything you read with a grain of salt and discuss any concerns with your doctor.  This will temper science fiction with reality.
  5. Once your surgery date is scheduled, try to occupy your mind with useful tasks in the meantime.  Don’t spend your days worrying yourself into an ulcer.  Trust that the hospital and surgeon will do what they do every day – and that is, care for you in the best possible way.  And don’t forget to pray.  Ask God to give you peace.  He will.
  6. One thought that helped me a great deal leading up to my surgery was the fact that I would go in at 6:00 a.m. on that Monday, surgery would commence at 7:30 a.m. and by 8:30 a.m. it would all be over!  What a comforting thought!  Within hours, I would be on the recovery side of things and on my way to feeling better!  This thought process helped me tremendously!  This way, I didn’t solely focus on how scary the looming surgery seemed to me, but instead, on the positive side of things.
  7. Ice chips!  I have never in my life (well, outside of giving birth) loved ice chips more than post-op!  They soothed my throat, which was a little sore due to the breathing tube during surgery.  I was on ice chips only for the whole day post-op and they helped me so much.
  8. If given the option, stay overnight post-op!  My surgeon left it up to me and I really needed to stay based on my pain level and the fact that I had been also battling a raging UTI.  The nurse gave me a shot that helped to counteract the occurrence of blood clots, plus they attached these inflatable wraps on your legs to promote adequate circulation.  Both gave me a lot of peace.  Blood clots post-op are serious and can be fatal.  I wound up staying in the hospital for a day and a half.  Although I didn’t get much sleep, I did receive wonderful care.  It was a blessing to have my husband stay the night with me as well.  I think he slept better than I did.
  9. Pain meds … If you experience any unusual side effects at all, call your doctor.  You are not bothering them.  This is the job they signed up for.  I actually felt like I couldn’t catch my full breath on the first pain medicine they gave me after taking it for a little over a day.  Thanks to my brother-in-law, I finally called my surgeon to see if they could prescribe something else.  Don’t just live with the problem.  It could be serious.  Thankfully, I got a different pain medicine and only needed to be on that for a day or so longer before switching to Advil.   —   Going into the surgery, I thought I’d need to be on the prescription pain meds longer, but by Day 5, I was off of them.  I don’t like how they make you feel anyway and was overjoyed to be done with them!  (I plan on letting my primary care doctor know about the side effects of the initial pain med for future reference.)
  10. Bloating & Fluid Build up.  Because they fill your abdomen with carbon dioxide and the after affects from the surgery in general, your middle will be very swollen.  Expect this.  Plan on wearing the loosest clothing you can find post-op!  The first few days I definitely preferred wearing a gown.  It seemed to me that I appeared 9 months pregnant!  Ah!  I weighed myself once I got home from the hospital and I was up 12 lbs.  This is Day 7 and has gone down to only being up 1.5 lbs.  I expect to be at my pre-op weight very soon, if not below, based on my current diet.  The bloating will pass.  Give yourself time.
  11. Get up and walk around!  This seems like cruel and unusual punishment initially post-op, but it is crucial to recovery.  My husband and I did a couple laps around the hospital floor, pulling the i.v. cart and all that first night post-op.  I was glad to have my husband there with me since they didn’t want me to walk alone.  Even once I was at home, I continued to get up and walk to the living room and kitchen a couple times a day.  Do as much as you can tolerate…and proceed slowly.  Stop when you feel tired to rest for a moment.
  12. Sleeping.  Ah, this is the tricky part post-op!  At least it was for me!  I slept propped up in a sitting position for the first five days!  This felt best for me.  I also had a pillow under my knees for comfort.  While the pain medicine made me sleepy, it also had this undesirable side effect of making me feel “on edge”.  So, my sleep was really broken up (even more than usual) for the first several days.
  13. Burping and Carbon Dioxide.  Surgeries kind of throw proper etiquette to the way side.  I have never burped so frequently in all my life as I have post-op!  This is one of the ways your body expels the carbon dioxide they fill your abdomen with during surgery.  Of course, air exudes out of both ends naturally.  Many people experience intense shoulder pain post-op due to the carbon dioxide getting trapped.  A heating pad can help ease this.  I only had a little of this pain, thankfully.  I did, however, keep the heating pad close by to use on my rib cage.
  14. Bowel Functions.  Resuming normal bodily functions post-op is top priority, for sure.  Apparently, general anesthesia temporarily halts bowel function, in addition to the pain medicine’s common side effect of constipation.  (Of course, prior to gallbladder surgery, I had constipation due to it not functioning properly so the stage was really set for me.)  I was so glad the surgeon suggested Miralax as it is GENTLE on the stomach and will not cause further pain as it works.  I mentioned that I had Senna at home and was going to take that and he noted that it tends to cause cramping.  So glad we had that conversation because I didn’t need to add insult to injury!  Miralax worked like a charm and the best thing about it is, it does not contain gritty granules that are hard to swallow.  It is flavorless and can be mixed with water or juice.  I chose to mix mine with apple juice and I honestly couldn’t tell there was anything in my juice!  Be patient with yourself.  I am accustomed to my body working like “clock work” and begin to worry when it doesn’t.  But it is important to allow your body time to adjust.  Obviously if things do not begin to resume normal function in several days to a week, it’s time to put in a call to the doctor.  Allow common sense to prevail.
  15. Diet.  My post-op dietary instructions were to resume a “normal diet”.  I can eat whatever I like.  Stop.  Wait.  However, because the previous pain I experienced when my gallbladder issues were raging placed me on a chicken noodle soup, crackers and fruit diet, I hesitate to deviate far from that so soon.  I prefer to err on the side of caution and delay eating fatty foods, meats in any real quantity and any processed foods.  This is simply my preference.  I also have recently learned that I have a (non-alcoholic) fatty liver, so that is a factor for me.  Of course, we know that fatty  and processed foods place more of a demand on the digestive tract, so I’d like to ease my system back into optimum health.  Obviously this is a personal choice but I am choosing to eat bland foods, soups, fruits and vegetables and generally, as healthy as I can.
  16. Stay hydrated!  I keep two cups of water on my nightstand at all times right now.  This way when I empty one, my husband or kids do not have to go racing to refill my cup.  Plus, it encourages me to drink more.  The prescription pain meds dry out your mouth so much, you will want to drink anyway.  But, because our bodies are primarily made up of water, it is imperative to the healing process.  I do drink a cup of coffee in the morning, several cups of apple or cranberry juice throughout the day but primarily water otherwise.
  17. Shower as soon as you can.  My instructions were that I could shower pretty much right away.  This makes a world of difference in how you feel.  Even if you are still in pain, it helps to make you feel human again.
  18. Moods.  Your post-op moods may vary from euphoric to feeling a little sad.  I think this has to be normal in most cases, based on the medications and the surgical experience.  You will likely feel back to your normal self very soon.  Give yourself grace and focus on better days ahead as your body heals.  Obviously if low moods drag on, consult your doctor.  Again, common sense.
  19. When friends, neighbors, family want to help … Let them!!  Now is not the time for pride.  If someone asks if they can drop off a meal, graciously allow them to and thank them from the bottom of your heart!  Your family will thank you.  Be sure to write out thank you notes once you recover for all the thoughtfulness others have shown.
  20. Schedule your follow-up appt!  My surgeon wants to see me two weeks’ post-op, which means I will see him next Monday.  At that time, he will ensure my four incisions are healing nicely and offer the surgery pathology results.
  21. Primary Care Physician follow-up … Because my white blood cell counts were elevated upon discharge, I will follow up with lab work with my primary care doctor in a few weeks.  This is probably a good idea after any surgery just to ensure that your body is healing properly.

{Note:  These tips and ideas are based solely on my experience and my health history.  I am not a medical doctor, nor do I play one on T.V.  I offer this advice as considerations if you or a loved one has to undergo a similar procedure.}

I hope this list is helpful.  If you’d care to add anything, please do so in the comments below.  Thanks for reading!  Here’s wishing all of us good health!  God bless!

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Never Give Up!

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Winston Churchill gave a famous speech where he uttered:

“Never, never, never give up!”

He also said, “If you’re going through hell – keep going.”

I want to urge you today that if you seem to be facing insurmountable odds and life is just too difficult to go on … Keep placing one foot in front of the other!  Baby steps.

One step leads to another and before you know it, you are in a new season of life.  Life is ever changing and things won’t always remain the same.

Sometimes it’s easy for our emotions to get the best of us and we can readily succumb to the devil’s lies that we should just throw in the towel, that life is just too hard.

Life is hard sometimes and its load can seem overwhelming, but you and I are here for a purpose.  God created each one of us and has placed unique gifts and talents inside each of us.

Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.”  ~ John 16:33

If we have placed our faith, hope and trust in God, then we know that He is able to carry us through seasons that are too difficult to handle alone.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

~ II Corinthians 12:9-11

I pray that if you find the pain of your life unbearable today, my friend, that Jesus would hold you close and reveal His love to you as only He can.  You are loved by an Almighty God, who knows everything about you and still chooses to love.  That’s love, friend.  He loves with an unfailing, never ending kind of love.  I pray that God’s peace, the peace that surpasses all human understanding would so envelope your soul that you will find rest and comfort like you’ve never known.  Lastly, I pray for God’s grace to be with you during this trying time, that God will provide for your every need and that you will have renewed hope in Christ.

This world is not our home.  We are pilgrims passing through until that day when God calls us home.  Until then, this world needs you.  This world needs to see God’s love demonstrated through your life.

May we all be strengthened in His might and His power to be a blessing to a lost and dying world.   Never give up, my friend.

Greater things are in store for you!  Your miracle and breakthrough could be just around the corner.  Don’t quit now!  Keep walking this faith walk.  God will give you the strength.  Trust Him today.

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Being a Healthcare Advocate

An advocate is one who stands in place for another, who fights for another.

I am Sarah’s greatest health advocate.  Sarah is my 18 year old daughter who was recently diagnosed with POTS.  (I wrote a lengthy post on this that you can check out if you’d like.)

I suppose being a mother predisposes one to being an advocate.  After all, no one wants what’s best for their child more than their mother.  I have become a “Mama Grisly Bear” when it comes to my daughter.  My further training in this regard came in recent years, caring for my aging father.  He particularly has needed an advocate during doctor visits and his hospitalization several years ago when he survived sepsis.  I told him then that I would always be his best advocate and I meant it.  I still am.

In recent months my role as “Health advocate” has expanded to include my teenage daughter, Sarah, who has seen more specialists than one can imagine over the last year.

Last October I became convinced that my daughter’s symptoms matched those of patients with Lyme disease.  In fact, I was pretty sure she had it.  Of course, I have no formal medical training (unless you count being a nurse’s daughter).  🙂  I read articles online and really researched this.  I spoke with friends about it and they, too, were fairly convinced.

So, when we met with Sarah’s new primary care doctor, we strongly requested her being tested for Lyme.  And not just any old test.  We had read that the Western Blot test was the most accurate and that was what we wanted.

Not only did her PC order the Western Blot test, but also ordered another Leukemia round of blood tests as well as any markers in her blood indicating other diseases.  We were glad she was so proactive in ordering these tests but were sent on another emotional roller coaster while we awaited the results once more.  Thankfully, all results were negative!

Because Sarah has seen so many specialists, we always type up a “Medical History” information sheet, which is typically several pages long and includes all recent MRI’s and CAT scans and other diagnostic testing.  I also photocopy all recent lab work results so they know instantly what she’s already been tested for at a glance.

I’m sure some smile at this and perhaps think my efforts are “over the top”, but most thank me wholeheartedly for doing this.  It eliminates many questions and saves their time so they can concentrate on the bigger picture.  It also means we do not have to answer the same questions over and over again, specialist to specialist visit.

Part of being a patient advocate is steering the treatment in the direction you are most comfortable.  Example: Our family tries to eat very healthy and veers toward a more holistic path when possible.  We’re not opposed to medications, but only when necessary and if a supplement couldn’t work just as well.  I am reminded of this because several doctors have suggested birth control for Sarah as a treatment for a couple different issues (that have nothing to do with birth control itself actually).  Sarah has done some research into this drug and is adamantly opposed to using it.  I have to say that I am not a fan either and wouldn’t want that necessarily for her.  My mother died at age 53 of breast cancer and studies have shown increased estrogen levels lead to breast cancer.

Each time we have politely declined using it, both doctors were certainly understanding, which we appreciated.  (I had a doctor years ago discharge me as his patient because I refused to go on a steroid because we were trying to conceive at the time.  So some doctors believe it is their way or the highway, apparently.)

Side note:  Sarah wanted to be a midwife for a while and during that time, educated herself greatly in every aspect.  She even was able to attend a home birth, which was a memorable experience for her.

So, you might say I am a Captain of the Healthcare Sea on my daughter’s behalf, in a way.  Obviously, my daughter’s care is ultimately up to her doctors, but if I believe a leaf needs turned over, I will advocate for it.  Steering is definitely a part of being a good advocate.  So is educating yourself on the symptoms and known diagnosis.  Don’t be afraid to speak up.  In this case, it’s my daughter’s body that we are dealing with.  She may be a stranger to the specialist, but to me, she is a huge part of my world!  And my heart.

At the end of the day, I must know within myself that I’ve exhausted every avenue in an attempt to restore my daughter’s health.  I feel like I’m fighting a battle for her wellness and recovery.   One on one time with each doctor is very limited, so having medical history documented and any questions written down is vital for a successful visit.  It also eliminates “brain fog” during the visit.  It’s an amazing thing that happens when you’re finally face to face with the doctor, often after months of waiting to get in, and then all pertinent questions fly out the window.  Another thing that happens is, whatever the doctor says during the visit winds up becoming a “brain blur” afterward.  I recommend writing notes, asking questions and later documenting the visit for clarity.

I am present during every doctor visit my daughter has, even now that she has turned 18.  She’ll say that sometimes I answer the doctor’s questions and that she wished I would allow her time to do that.  So, I’ve scaled back and attempted to allow her to do most of the talking when possible.  Often what happens is that she experiences POTS “brain fog” and goes on bunny trails in response to the doctor’s questions, which can be confusing and time consuming.  And each visit is so key to Sarah’s recovery that I feel like much is at stake and we must make the most of our time.  So, I speak up when I think it’s useful to the doctor’s understanding of her symptoms.  Sarah thanks me.  Most of the time.  😉

Follow up is another major component of advocacy.  It has been amazing to me the degree that I have had to involve myself and relentless messages to doctor’s offices in order to obtain lab or other diagnostic testing results.  It matters to no one more than you and your family.  Why wouldn’t you follow up?  If the doctor says the lab results should be ready in three days.  Guess who’s calling in three days?  Me!  The sooner we have the results, the sooner treatment and recovery can begin.

Have you ever had to be a staunch advocate for a loved one who is ill?  If so, can you offer any sage words of advice?

 

{Medical Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor.  I don’t even play one on t.v.  I am a mom.  A very loving and dedicated one at that.  The information contained in this blog and any other article on my page are based on our experiences, what we’ve read and our opinions or understanding of POTS.  Please consult a licensed physician for advice and conduct extensive research on your own.}

 

 

 

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This World is Not Our Home

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Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.  For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.  These are not from the Father, but are from the world.  And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave.  But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.

~ I John 2:15-17

It often amazes me the hold “pop culture” has on believers.  Recently, I’ve noticed that during the Pastor’s sermon when he references a popular actor or actress in making a point, the reaction and connection of the congregation is very engaging.  They can totally understand the Pastor’s point.  He has broken it down into terms they identify with.

Now, there is nothing wrong with being familiar with the latest movies or t.v. series necessarily (unless they are in opposition with the Word of God, that is).  But, the issue is what captivates our attention?  What holds our hearts?  Are we devoting equal or greater time to studying God’s Word, the message of Good News, so we may be strengthened in our faith?  Are we who we say we are on Sunday… on Monday through Saturday?  This world is looking for authenticity.  Will they find it in us?  If not in us, who then?

I am a stubborn person.  Yes, it’s true.  So, I naturally dig my heels in when it comes to conforming to this world’s standards!  I refuse to be a cookie-cutter human doing.  I refuse to fall into the rut of looking like Barbie, wearing the latest color clothing someone has deemed to be the latest and greatest, behaving in a way to be accepted by society, listening to the most popular tunes and lyrics that are not edifying at all and, my personal favorite, looking out for #1 solely!  I refuse.  You know why I refuse?  Because I choose to base my life on the Word of God.  And the Word of God says that I am to be a “peculiar people”, “a royal priesthood”, a “holy people”, a “chosen generation” who are called out from among the world.

It says, “Do not be conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:2

We need to often remind ourselves that we are merely pilgrims passing through!  This world is not our home as Christians.  We have the hope of heaven in our hearts if we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.  That is an exciting thought, my friend!

This world, with all of its problems,

is fading.  The Bible says that heaven and earth will pass away, but it’s His Word that will remain.

What are you investing in today?

Remember … This world is not our home!

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Can These Bones Live Again?

The message this evening at church was particularly moving.  The text was Ezekial 37 about his conversation with God regarding the dead, dry bones in the valley.  I actually think it was our pastor’s best message yet.  Much to reflect on as I contemplated the dead, dry places in my own life…you know, the areas where we’ve lost hope that things will ever change.  Did I say that out loud?  Aren’t we to be full of faith at all times?  Yes.  But sometimes life takes the wind out of our sails and we wonder if this boat will venture into deep waters again.  And so I dropped the kids off at home, switched vehicles and took the convertible out for a spin.  The kids had other things to do, so I went alone, which wound up being ideal.  For I spent the next little while traveling over winding, country roads praying and lifting my heart to the Lord.  I became keenly aware that the Lord was stirring my faith to believe once again that all hope is not lost pertaining to a particular prayer request, that I will see the answer in due time.  What a refreshing time of fellowship…just me and God.  The sweet aroma of honeysuckle in bloom paralleled the delightful time of communion I was experiencing with my Heavenly Father.

I even stopped off at an old country cemetery where many of my ancestors rest, including my paternal grandparents.  I walked around for a bit, praying for my family who remain with us.

We had such a powerful time of praise and worship before the message tonight at church.  My heart was refreshed and renewed.  How wonderful it felt to be in the house of the Lord again!  It had been three weeks as we’d been out of town and then recovering from our accident.  We all needed to go and be together with God’s people and ministry!  My husband couldn’t make it to the service we went to, but went to the next service and received communion.  I’m so glad he did.  Communion is always such a special time.  And how we need it, especially now.

We sang this song that was so meaningful:

And, so if you find yourself with unanswered prayers, questions, concerns today, my friend, I encourage you to set your hope and faith on God.  He is the One who can do anything but fail.  When we place our faith in Him, He can do amazing things in and through us.  It isn’t always in our timing, but He’s never late!  We serve an on time God.  What is a day to Him?  What is a year?  Calendars are meaningless when you are the Creator.  He transcends all time and space.  But, none of us escape His watchful eye, my friend.  I challenge you to hope again.  Dare to believe that what God promises in His Word is true and that He will lead you on the path He has for you.  There is more than what we see today.

Faith believes that we are the healed of the Lord.  The eyes of faith see our loved ones return to Jesus.  Faith can move mountains.  If we dare to believe.  Don’t focus on what’s in front of you today.  For tomorrow, it will be behind you.

I just want to encourage you to get in the Word of God as never before, pray and seek His face above all else.  Sometimes when we have issues close to our hearts, we are swift to consult everyone but the One who has the power to change the course of our lives.  Lay the cares of this world at the foot of the Cross and watch Him work in your life.  He loves you so.

“The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help.  He rescues them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.  The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.”  ~  Psalm 34:17-19

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Consumerism

Americans are great consumers, aren’t we?  We will buy just about anything.  Rocks.  Others’ trash we believe to be treasure.  A shirt with some man’s name on it so we can be advertising pawns.  A bag with a strange logo emblazoned on it.  A motor vehicle because some commercial said we’d be cool or sexy if we drive it.  A McMansion because society says you have arrived if you live here.

Have you ever stopped and questioned yourself why you are purchasing something?  Far too often, I think it has to do with the pervasive subliminal messages.  I don’t think we were born with the need to impress or be cool.  I think we were born with the desire to be loved, fed and clothed.  Pretty basic needs if you ask me.  How did we stray so far from basic necessity then?

I’m not saying it’s a negative thing at all to own expensive things.  They’re all wonderful if one can afford them.  It becomes an issue when our identity is enshrined in things.  We all want to put our best foot forward (or at least most), but what about when you overextend your foot?  You dislocate your finances.  Not good.

Because our society is more connected than at any other time in history, we are bombarded with advertising as well.  I am a stubborn individual.  I turn down the radio on commercials.  I mute the t.v. on commercials (if I watch t.v. at all).  I close out the ad box on YouTube.  And why do stores think we need to be entertained in the check out aisle with a series of advertisements?  I resent the “in your face” brainwashing.  I really am not impressed with what some advertising guru tells me is the latest and greatest thing that I must spend our hard earned money on.  Not in the least.

Question:  Would you still buy that expensive suit, handbag, watch, car, etc. if you were invisible?  Obviously no man is an island to himself, but it poses food for thought.  Who does it matter most to?  Impressing the other guy/gal or something you truly enjoy to the extent of the price tag?

Perhaps I do not possess the need to be associated with some high fashion brand or exclusive logo because my identity was established more than 2,000 years ago.  You see, my identity is in Jesus Christ.  I do not turn to the things of this world to fill an inner craving of acceptance because Jesus paid the price on Calvary when He purchased my salvation and wholeness.

One day the things of this world will be no more.  Rather than focus on the trappings of this world, I set my hope and faith on things that will outlast this temporary existence.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.  Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.  Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” ~  Matthew 6:19-21

If I strive to be accepted by society via Coach, Rolex, Mercedes, a McMansion, etc., what does that say about me?  If they let me in their “club”, would that bring happiness?  We are pilgrims, my friend … just passing through.  This world is not our final destination.  Do not set your affections on the things you see here.  We have an eternal home that will far surpass anything we’ve yet seen!

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” ~ Romans 12:2

To be sure, quality items are pleasurable and acceptable.  They just don’t captivate my heart.  My heart is set on things above.  And my focus is on bringing as many to heaven with me as possible.  You see when we’re caught up in replicating the culture of this world and fulfilling some need for social acceptance, our focus is often distracted from winning the lost.  It’s not about us anyway.  It’s all about Jesus, the One who took our place on Golgotha’s Hill, so that we may live eternally with Him!  That’s where my hope lies!  What say you?

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Finances