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Joy in the Storm

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A friend recently asked how I was managing with some challenges and all I could muster was that I was relying on God’s strength.  I said, “All I have is God … and He is more than enough!”  I also said that sometimes you simply keep placing one foot in front of the other.

Of course, my daily devotions spent in the Word of God and prayer are what sustain this weary heart on the difficult days.  Despite the storm clouds that surround, “My anchor holds within the vale.”  I have a deep, wellspring of joy on the inside that is not conditional on my circumstances but is a true gift from God.

It is possible to have peace and joy regardless of the dark clouds that rage.  This world is not our final destination.  During times of struggle, I especially love to listen to some praise and worship music and praise the Lord.  When we worship God, we are inviting His presence into our lives and our situation.  I firmly believe that.  And, how I need Him.

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

Life continually has its valleys and mountain tops.  We cannot prevent either from happening but we can control our responses to each.  We can determine in our hearts that no matter what happens, we will dig deep in His Word for wisdom, instruction, and comfort.  No matter what, we will pray and praise God for Who He is, not just for what He does for us.

When we focus on our blessings more than our problems, there is a shift in our attitude and perspective.  Whatever we focus on becomes bigger.  What would happen if we focused on God more than our difficulties?

What if we recall the countless times in the past that God has delivered us and answered prayer?  What if we praised Him in advance for all that He has planned for our lives?

What if, even through our storm, others could witness God’s strength and power demonstrated in our lives?

Joy is possible in the darkest of nights.

Peace is available too.

Faith is the seed that makes these a reality in our hearts.

…Instead of searching for the nearest exit during your storm, why not praise God for what He will teach you through the challenging circumstances?  Why not ask Him to shine through your darkness to be a blessing to others around you that they may glorify God?

When we are able to change our perspective, we are able to change our reality.

Trust God.  Pray.  Praise.  Watch Him work in your life as only He can.

Rinse.  Repeat.

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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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The Immutability of God

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Now what does that exactly mean?  Immutable means: fixed, set, established, doesn’t change, constant, static, enduring, permanent.  I love this!

God’s unchanging nature has always been one of the most precious qualities to me.  He will not change.  He isn’t loving today and hateful tomorrow.  He doesn’t forgive me today and hold a grudge tomorrow.  He isn’t kind today and evil tomorrow.  He cannot change.  It isn’t in His divine nature, friend.  Isn’t that comforting to know?

The Bible says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.”  Psalm 103:8

Verse 17 goes on to say, “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting…”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” ~ James 1:17

Psalm 107:1 says, “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever.”

Verses 8 and 9 say, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!  For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.”

That’s the character of the God I serve.  He is good.  He is merciful.  He is just.

 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.  He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” ~ I John 4:7-8

He is loving.

These Scriptures demonstrate and reveal to us the unchanging character of God.

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and for ever.”  ~ Hebrews 13:8

He will not change.  He cannot change.

He has loved us with an everlasting love.  (Jeremiah 31:3)

When my circumstances change, my God doesn’t.  When my seasons change, God remains constant.  When my bank account changes or my relationships change, God is steadfast.  Unmovable in His love and grace for my life.

“I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”  ~ Psalm 18:1-2

I challenge you today, friend, to dig into the Word of God and see for yourself the character of God.  “O taste and see that the Lord is good.”  (Psalm 34:8)  Do not neglect the Scriptures because the task seems tedious.  Our lives can become so hectic and fast paced that we lose sight of the true source of our strength.  Get into the habit of daily reading the Word of God and not merely checking off a reading list.  God is more interested in your spiritual growth than how many chapters you’re rushing through each day.  Read His love story to us and watch your spirit soar and your walk with Christ grow in ways you never knew were possible!

Blessings, my friend!  May we continually grow in His grace.  And may you be reminded of God’s constant character and steadfast love.

 

 

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Peace in the Midst of the Storm

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Did you know that it is possible to have peace in the midst of the storm?

Psalm 23 has been a consistent “go to” comforting passage for me over the years and still has an unparalleled capacity to calm my deepest fears and quiet my restless soul.

It starts out – “The Lord is my Shepherd.”  Is He your shepherd today, friend?  Ah, what peace floods my soul to know that God not only comforts me, but guides me.  After all, that’s the role of a shepherd.

Verse 2 says, ” He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:  He leadeth me beside the still waters.”

What a tranquil visual that verse contains!  It’s as if God is saying, “Come, quiet your anxious soul.  Rest a while.”

I’m reminded of the New Testament verse that says:

“Take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  ~ Matthew 11:29

Verse 4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” 

If you find yourself in a storm today, I encourage you to read Psalm 23 and really absorb each verse, line by line.  There is rest for your weary soul and nourishment for your thirsty spirit.  God is the Friend, who sticks closer than a brother.  (Proverbs 18:24)

God holds all power in His hands and He is able to calm your storm today.  And should He choose not to calm the seas in your life, He promises to sustain you each step along the way.  Many times we do not understand God’s timing and His ways but we are not called to understand.  We are called to trust and obey instead.

When the storm clouds rage, I challenge you to focus on the One who holds the storm in His safe and loving hands.  Focus on His power and not the power of the clouds that produce rain.  Their power is limited.  That is all they can produce.  God’s power, however, is limitless and knows no bounds.  It is His hands I am choosing to cling to in the storm.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”  ~  Psalm 23:6

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Surgery in T-4 Days…

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The next four days cannot pass soon enough!  I’m focusing on my recovery period more so than the upcoming gall bladder surgery.  (at least that’s what I keep telling myself)  The truth is, no one wants to have surgery, but, in this case, I so want it behind me so I can move toward better health!  I’ve been on bed rest for the last three weeks since my ER visit and this is entirely contrary to my normal routine.  I’m usually very busy, so this little “vacation” of sorts, a miserable one at that, has been very strange.

The nurse called from the hospital yesterday to review my medical history, etc. and really put my mind at ease when we discussed my past vasovagal response.  She noted on my file for them not to place the i.v. in my hand, but in my arm rather.  What a huge answer to prayer this was!!  I really did not want to pass out again in pre-op, like I did previously with another surgery.  This offers a great deal of peace of mind for me and is so comforting to know they will respect my wishes.  Of course, I may have to remind the pre-op nurse of this on the morning of my surgery, but now I feel comfortable making my preference known and knowing they can accommodate it.

It is never a good feeling being out of control and that is exactly what a vasovagal response is.  It’s an involuntary reaction to pain or a situation that your physical body wants to escape.  And so, you pass out – sort of a self-preservation response.  So, I’m very glad to remove this scenario from possibly reoccurring altogether.

I’m so looking forward to feeling better!  I’ve been trying to reassure my kids (16 & 18) that this is a very routine surgery and I may be home the same day, etc.  They’ve been so concerned about me but I think they’re relaxing a little now.  I hope so.  I don’t want them to worry.  First of all, I know ultimately I’m in God’s hands and there is a great peace knowing that!  Secondly, I believe the surgeon is highly skilled and the hospital is very competent.  So, I believe my surgery should go smoothly and I’ll be on the mend very shortly.  This time next week, my body will be in the healing phase! Praise the Lord for that!

Then, I will recover for a couple months and have a hysterectomy.  (glutton for punishment, huh?)  Again, while I’m not looking forward to the surgery itself, I am excited about my recovery.  2016 will be a humdinger of a year but I know that God is walking beside me each step of the way and that gives me great peace!  I also am confident that He is working ALL things together for my good and His glory!  (Romans 8:28)

My husband and kids have been wonderful caretakers of me and I’m grateful for that.  I am, however, looking forward to resuming my normal responsibilities once I recover.

Last night our Bible study leader brought chicken, rice, salad and cupcakes for dinner, which was very thoughtful.  The kids were very excited.  And a couple neighbors have offered to bring dinner post-surgery too.  And our Bible study leader will bring dinner again next week.  We appreciate their kindness so much.  I think the last time we had someone bring us dinner was when our daughter was born – 18 years ago!  We are so accustomed to blessing others that sometimes it’s a little strange being on the receiving end.  Although if there ever was a time when someone needs a blessing – it’s when they’re going to have surgery, I have to say.

If you would, please say a prayer regarding my surgery and for peace for our family.  Thanks so much!  Blessings!

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…Be still and know that I am God.”  ~ Psalm 46:1,10

 

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When Heaven is Silent

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Have you ever prayed about something near and dear to your heart for a long time and all your spirit hears are crickets?  Yeah, me too.  It’s times like those that it is easy to believe two lies:  1.)  God doesn’t hear us.  or 2.)  God chooses not to answer.

When I’m feeling spiritually weak, I am prone to believe one or both of these lies.

The Bible says that we walk by faith, not by sight, right? I’m so glad our spiritual walk is based on what the Bible says and not on how we feel or what we see.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” ~ I John 5:14-15

Over the course of my life, I have prayed countless prayers.  Some have taken years before I saw the answers come to fruition.  That just makes the answer that much more sweet.  Ah, the delays.  Why the delays?  We may never know this side of heaven but what we do know is that God wants us to pray, expecting that we will receive.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” ~ Hebrews 4:16

Probably my favorite parable of all is that of the widow and the unjust judge.  She kept beseeching his help and finally because this widow was relentless – She would NOT give up – The judge granted her request!  (lest she weary him)  I love this because it illustrates the power of standing firm in prayer, never giving up – no matter what!  Tenacious praying!

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” ~ Luke 18:1-8

Now, God does not have the attitude of this unjust judge, but rather, Jesus was drawing a contrast to our heavenly Father.  If this was the response of the unjust judge, what do you think the response of our Abba Father would be when one of His children calls?

I recently received a glimpse of the beginnings of an answer to one of my heart’s cries and I was indeed humbled once again.  Humbled because it showed me that despite my faith, maybe sometimes I doubt whether God is working behind the scenes.

Just because we cannot see the manifestation of the object of our prayer does not mean there isn’t movement!

It is possible that some answers to prayer may not be visible or made known to us during our lifetime.  It may be that future realities will be born out of today’s prayer.  And these realities may be birthed long after we are gone.  That should give us cause to pray even more fervently because I do not believe that prayers die.  I believe that God remembers our petitions to throne of grace and that He will cause His perfect will to be accomplished.  But the vehicle for this to be carried out is prayer.  In this regard, I believe prayer is a great legacy.

So, don’t give up on those prayers that are near to your heart, my friend.  God knows.  He hears.  He sees your tears and knows the cry of your heart.

“Rejoice evermore.   Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” ~ James 5:16

 

 

 

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It’s Less About Us & More About Him

The message of the Cross is more about Jesus and less about us (in terms of qualifications or assets we may bring to the table).  The central theme of the Cross is God’s overwhelming and extravagant love for humanity. Hinged on that love, Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice was displayed for all of the world.

The compelling truth regarding the Cross is that you or I do not have to be “good” enough, as if that were even possible, to become sons and daughters of God.  In fact, we know that the Bible says that our righteousness (if there’s anything remotely good about us) is equal to that of filthy rags.  Wow.  Way to deflate the human ego.  But it’s true.  I think most of us already know that, if we are honest with ourselves anyway.

No, the message of the Cross is less about us and all about Jesus.  His character is compassionate, loving, kind, good, thoughtful, patient, longsuffering.

“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.”  ~ Psalm 103:8

If we can just grasp those attributes and dwell on those for a moment…It’s overwhelming to consider that the Great God of the Universe thinks about you and me … and prays for us daily.  The Bible says He daily makes intercession for us!  (Romans 8:34)  That is a humbling thought right there, my friend.  He has time for me?  Well, the reality is that God transcends time and space.  His reality is not the same as the confines we, humans, operate in.  He is All Powerful and His power knows no limits, no boundaries.  That is something that is difficult for our finite minds to process.  We must simply believe.

The truth is that none of us are qualified to become followers of Jesus Christ.  Equally true, God calls the unqualified.  That right there should be a liberating thought, my friend.  Grace beckons to our soul to receive such an unattainable and unearned gift.  And because of this great gift, we are then able to show others such grace.  Not that we would become hoarders of God’s gift, but a sieve for it to then flow through.

There is room at the Cross for you today.  It doesn’t matter what your past is.  God can rewrite your life story and create a brand new future for you.  That’s what I love so much about God and the redemptive power of the Cross — It is transformational!

If you fully accept God’s gift of grace, it is impossible to remain the same.  Once you’ve accepted God’s love and understand the sacrifice of His Son, it makes you want to change!

The message of the Cross is all about the love of our Heavenly Father, poured out through Jesus Christ, to reconcile a lost world back to Him.  His message is still the same today.  He is Jehovah, “I Am”, the One Who is the Self-Existent One.  He never changes.  His promises never fail.  When we are faithless, He is faithful.  (Psalm 102)

Rather than focus on your own shortcomings, set your eyes on the unchanging character of God through His Word.  When we study God’s Word, it causes things to fall into the proper perspective.  It sheds light on our darkness.  It gives us wisdom to know which path to pursue.

No, we are not the message of the Cross.  We are merely the objects of God’s unending affection.  In that regard, it makes us kind of special.  But, it’s all about Him.  We are God’s creation and He is the Creator.  May we never allow pride to confuse the two.

“God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  ~ Ephesians 2:8-9  NLT

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