My Song of Praise Today

Soooo much to sing about in praise to our Heavenly Father today!

As He has given us a glimpse of the healing that is coming to stay.

Soooo much to sing about in praise to our Heavenly Father today!

The complete restoration in my body that is surely underway.

Soooo much to sing about in praise to our Heavenly Father today!

The privilege of seeing answers to the prayers we continue to pray.

Soooo much to sing about in praise to our Heavenly Father today!

That He has always been here & is working out all the details along the way.

Soooo much to sing about in praise to our Heavenly Father today!

My team of compassionate & devoted doctors in Dr. Hendricks & Dr. Gray.

Soooo much to sing about in praise to our Heavenly Father today!

How we are able to walk more by faith than by sight with each & every passing day.

Soooo much to sing about in praise to our Heavenly Father today!

The honor to share with others in need this journey as we may.

Soooo much to sing about in praise to our Heavenly Father today!

This time of trusting Him is not wasted & where I long to never stray.

Soooo much to sing about in praise to our Heavenly Father today!

As the sun beams down, it reminds of the HOPE we have…even if only one single ray.

Soooo much to sing about in praise to our Heavenly Father today!

“Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow!” are the only words I am able to say!

 

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might hope or imagine.  Glory to Him…forever & ever.  Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21

Does Absence Really Make the Heart Grown Fonder?

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder!”  We have all heard that saying a million times.  However, I have to say that I always thought of that saying this way…“Absence makes the heart grow fonder of…a person!”  Don’t get me wrong, during my time away it has made me looooong for a date night to our favorite restaurant with the Love of My Life!  I also have looooonged to lie in bed each morning with my girls and sing them awake before school.  I looooonged to see my dear friends and family.  However, I was amazed that my time away made my “heart grow fonder of…not a person but a thing.”  I can honestly say that…

 “Absence has made my heart grow fonder of my LIFE!”

I chose not to write while I was at home but to take the time to soak up every minute of my stay.  Now, there are many things to reflect on since spending a weekend at home with my family.  Surprisingly, there was so much more that I observed when I took the time to be still and to be fully present.  Below are just a few of my favorites…

  • My bright-eyed, oldest teenager walking downstairs first thing Saturday morning with her hair standing on end, still in her pjs, wanting to sit and recap for me every detail of the days that I had missed.  Fonder…I could have stayed there all day listening to her motherly perspective on how things had gone while I was away.
  • Saturday night, as my “baby” teenager climbing in bed with me and whispering, “I want to sleep with my Momma!” and us holding hands until we fell asleep.  Fonder…I can’t remember the last time I heard her say those words.  Was she three?
  • Standing in the kitchen window for a very long time watching the Love of My Life play “Cheer Coach” to my youngest as he catches, spots and encourages her through each and every tumble, my oldest flipping around the backyard and giving her knowledgeable JV cheerleader insight, both of my four-legged children running and barking at their feet, everyone laughing, joking and loving just being together.  Fonder…Choosing to stop and watch them gave me so many things to treasure in my heart.  Funny that my usual routine, of unloading the dishwasher or sweeping the floors, has never given me something to treasure in my heart.
  • Sitting at the kitchen counter while all was quiet in our house and hearing the recap of what it was like to be both “Mr. Mom & Dad.”  Fonder…As he spoke, I realized how grateful I was that when he said, “I DO in sickness and in health,” he meant it!”
  • Curling up on the sofa with my youngest who was overwhelmed with school, frustrated and in tears over a very big project that was due the next day.  As I rubbed her head and read a chapter of her schoolbook, “Little Men,” her tears slowly dried up.  I then had a de’ja vu moment back to when she was a little girl, and we read so often together.  Fonder…My response today seemed to have a much better and calmer result than what had become my usual response of, “This is what happens when you procrastinate!”
  • Being able to wake up Sunday morning, feel well enough to get dressed, go to church with my family and friends, close my eyes to hear every note of the music sung over me and listen to each word of the message for anything that I could carry away to help me make it through the next round of treatment.  Fonder…I’ve walked through the doors of church hundreds of times, but have I ever once stopped to be grateful for the opportunity to worship there?  I can honestly say, “Not until now!”

I must admit that at first it was hard to reacclimate to the busyness and activity of my own house.  The first few hours of dogs barking, tvs blaring, everyone talking, etc. sounded like the volume was turned up way too loud and felt like pricks to my skin with straight pins.  But as the weekend wore on, I found myself stopping to soak up every minute and actually wanting time to go by soooo slow so I could just stay with them and enjoy every minute of my life that I had actually grown fonder of while I was away.  I also realized that I have hurried through more minutes, hours and days than I can count, and now they have become a blur of hurried years!

One of my new favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, advices these very wise words…

  “Wherever you are…Be fully there!” 

 I realize that “Absence has made my heart grow fonder of…my life!” which in turn, makes me want to “be fully there” in it!  It is then that we, like Mary, the mother of Jesus, will be able to…

“ponder all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart.”  Luke 2:19

Fonder Always Means More to Ponder!!!

#1 Lesson I Have Learned!

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After so many hard days, I sit here thinking about how what has changed in me so quickly. I am most amazed about what has given me the most pleasure this week, and what I have been the most thankful for that I would never have stopped long enough to notice before. Here a just a few…

• A warm jacket coming out of the dryer that feels like a hug from one of my girls to my body that is soooo chilled from the inside out.
• The taste of a juicy, delicious, organic, bright, orange carrot after being unable to eat for so many days.
• The warm afternoon sun shining down on me as I sit and enjoy just being outside.
• The gift of mint…I must explain!

When I began treatment, one aspect that is so important to helping me get well is my diet. So on day one of treatment, I began a very strict and rigorous diet that took out everything that might cause inflammation in my body. Below are the foods and drinks that are allowed during the first weeks of treatment…

Unsweetened juice (blah!!!)
Filtered Water
Limited Nuts
Limited Fruits (only 3/week)
Green Vegetables
More Green Vegetables
More Green Vegetables
Still More Green Vegetables
Rice (can’t have – allergic)
Eggs (can’t have – allergic)
Fish (can’t have – allergic)

Much to my dismay, coffee was not on the list. What? No coffee?!?! And only 3 fruits a week?!?!? As many green vegetables as I want?!?!? Let’s just say that when I am sick, green veggies, like kale and leeks, are not the first thing I crave. Better yet, they are not even the last thing I crave. It is all I can do to get those down on a good day, much less a sick day. Where on the list are my favorite comfort foods from childhood…baked potato soup or a large Wendy’s Frosty, which my Dad brought me every time I was sick even since I’ve been married and had my girls?

Instead, every morning, I wake up to a hot cup of plain water. I will say, there is something comforting about holding that warm cup in your hands first thing in the morning, but it doesn’t come close to holding a hot cup of my favorite Peruvian Dark Roast. Then for the rest of the day and night, I must drink as much plain filtered water as I can get down.

Before I began this treatment, I would say that I liked water a lot, and it was most often my drink of choice. But after so many days of nothing but water, I would give anything for anything but water!!! So as I sat looking at the list of my allowed foods, one that I had never noticed jumped off the page at me….fresh mint! I could have mint in my hot water in the morning!!! I could have mint!!! I woke up with a pep in my step thinking that I was about to enjoy a hot cup of mint water to start my day. The three minutes to boil the water seemed to take a very looong time. Once finished, I took my cup, sat down on the sofa, covered myself in my favorite blanket, so that everything was just right, and took my first sip. There will never be words to describe how delicious that hot cup of mint water was. I think I had tears in my eyes as I savored each and every drop! Then, I made another cup!

Amazing that such a small thing like three leaves of mint, notice I did not say a new pair of shoes or an expensive dinner out but instead just three small leaves, would bring me so much joy! It also made me realize how many times before I have taken such small gifts for granted and not even stopped to acknowledge them. Ohhhhh, how ungrateful I have lived my life!!!

Not surprisingly, a dear friend sent this verse on the morning I was enjoying my first cup of mint water…

<strong>“I have learned to be content with whatever I have.” Philippians 4:11

I know that I am still not completely content in every situation with whatever I have, but I yearn to be. So I pray…

Help me be content in all situations, Lord. Help me to look at each day of this struggle as a continual offering of praise for all the little things, like mint, that You have given me. When I am weak today, Lord, make me strong. I’m also praying from Streams in the Desert that You will ‘not only deliver me from this situation but will impart a lesson that I will never forget.’

This week’s lesson that I hope to never forget is…

The Gift of Mint – Be Grateful for All the Little Things

An Unexpected Gift!!!

“Dear Friends:  God may send you some valuable gifts wrapped in unattractive paper.  But do not worry about the wrappings for you can be sure that inside He has hidden treasures of love, kindness and wisdom.  If we will simply take what He sends and trust Him for the blessings inside, we will learn the meaning of the secrets of His providence, even in times of darkness.”  A.B. Simpson from Streams in the Desert

 

This is exactly what I experienced today….a “Stream in the Desert” (Isaiah 43:19) in a most unusual place through a most unusual man named John.

 

It was time for my first ever lymphatic drainage massage which I had heard could be quite invading and somewhat uncomfortable.  I still have not been able to find an infrared sauna which is a very important part of my treatment.  I just continue to pray that I can find one in this unfamiliar town.  I left an hour before my appointment to make sure that I could find the Massage Institute that boasted on the internet that they specialized in this special type of massage therapy.  As I drove up to the building, I immediately became anxious and uncomfortable.  Let’s just say that it was not in the best part of town.  Some would even describe the neighborhood I was in as “The Hood.”  The building itself was made of dark, dingy, dirty metal, not at all like the white, crisp, shiny, clean image that I had in my mind. 

 

I was rather early.  So I circled back to a parking lot on the more visible and less threatening main street.  I began to pray, “Lord, lead me.  Lord, protect me.  Lord, is this the place?  Lord, warn me if it is not.  Lord, I’m trusting You!”

 

Still needing to wait another fifteen minutes, I decided to check my emails on my phone.  My daily devotion from Rick Warren was waiting in my inbox.  As I read the opening sentences that said, “Life with God is an adventure.  All we have to do is TRUST God,” I literally laughed out loud!  I thought to myself, “This is an adventure, for sure!!!”  Since I had just said those exact words, ‘Lord, I’m trusting You,’ I knew I had to go with Him on this adventure!”

 

As I cautiously walked in, I was greeted by John who I learned would be my therapist.  Again, John was not the very in shape, fit, young woman in a white uniform that I had pictured in my mind.   Instead, he was a middle aged, not in great shape MAN with a braid that hung down the middle of his back to his waist.  I VERY cautiously followed him into the treatment room.  I nervously sat in the old, dark room and answered each and every question about my illness, treatment to date and my expectations for this appointment.  I wanted to whisper to John, “This is not anything like I was expecting!”

Then John, in his very quiet and calming voice, began to tell me about himself.  These are the words that I will always remember him saying, “I love the Lord with all my heart, and I hope that He will use the gift of my hands to help heal people!”  Did he just say what I thought he just said?  I immediately knew…This was exactly where I was supposed to be.  John was exactly the person that would help me heal, and he was my “gift wrapped in unattractive paper!”

 

John spent almost two hours gently and meticulously massaging all the many, many lymph nodes in my entire body and patiently made sure to do perform the treatment just right with the exact amount of pressure for the best healing results.  Again as A.B. Simpson so wisely describes above, John was a “hidden treasure of love, kindness and wisdom.”

 

Half way through my treatment, John asks if I have ever considered using an infrared sauna to help with the detox of my body.  I told him that I had looked and looked and looked but had not been able to find one.  Again, in his very calm and soothing voice, he replied, “We have one here you can use.”  My eyes popped open and my mouth almost hit the floor.  It is not like every business on every corner just happens to have an infrared sauna lying around.  As a matter of fact, I had searched and called about twenty who had not even heard of such a thing.  Again, it was clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that inside this very unassuming building that the world would discount as nothing, God had sent me an amazing “gift of blessing” and taught me a lesson about “His providence, even in times of darkness.”

 

But then again, isn’t that always His way!

“I Made It!!!”

(Please know that many of my entries are a reflective look back because at the time, I was unable to write.)

As I wake up this morning, there is only one word to describe what I’m feeling about today…DREAD!!! After experiencing two days of treatment and some very long nights, I call the love of my life in tears and sobbing, “I can’t do this again today!” I know that within two hours of taking the medicine that is necessary to heal my body, I will again experience a horrific migraine , as well as, all day nausea that makes the morning sickness I had with my girls seem like a cake walk. I just continue on and on through my tears conveying to him, “Why I can’t do this!” and “Why I give up!”

Amazingly, in a very calm and encouraging voice, he was my #1 Cheerleader that day! Perhaps, it was because in my absence he had to take on the role of “Cheer Coach” to both of our girls who needed someone to spot them as they tumbled and jumped all over our home getting ready for their upcoming cheer tryouts, which I hate to miss. He was amazing in both of these cheer roles and encouraged me with words like, “You are strong! You can do this! Each day is one day closer to being well! Just take one day at a time!” As he continued to speak over me, I began to believe it too!

“I can do this! I can do this! I can do this!” I chant over and over as I swallow each pill and believe that “I am strong” enough to handle whatever this day brings.

When I pick up my daily devotion book for the day, I don’t get past the featured verse on the top of the page…

“My grace is sufficient! My power works best in weakness!” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Really God?” This is the verse that I always recite over and over in my times of greatest despair. This I know for sure…Today, I am the perfect picture of one thing … WEAKNESS! But this verse promises me that this is when God’s power will work BEST! “Let Your Power Work, Lord!”

Just like clockwork, the symptoms hit with an even greater force than they have before. My head hurts soooo badly that I literally cannot lift it off my pillow, and my migraine medicine doesn’t seem to touch it. Once the nausea starts, it comes in waves that do not stop. The pain that I feel today in my lower back that radiates down both of my legs is new and alarming. The only relief is to pace the floor and pray and watch the clock for naptime so I can just try to sleep through as much of this as possible.

I MADE IT!!! As, I lie in bed tonight trying to fall asleep and reflecting back over this very long, hard day, these are the things that come to mind…

I have often times in the past told others to be “utterly dependent” on The Lord. Until today, I thought I knew what those words meant. But I realize now that I experienced these words on an entirely different level. I experienced what it feels like to be “utterly dependent” for literally every minute of a day. Actually, I experienced just what it means to make it through another minute. Something tells me that I will never say those two words quite the same ever again.

Also, I experienced today what Corrie ten Boom described in her phenomenal book, The Hiding Place, that I just recently read. She gives every detail of being drug from her home and taken to a horrific concentration camp during World War 2 with nothing but the clothes on her back. Corrie and her family long for their most prized possession, the family bible. However, they are so grateful that they had the words from that bible memorized in their hearts and minds to sustain them. That is exactly how I felt today when I didn’t even have the energy to lift my bible and just had to retrieve from my memory God’s promises to me. I too, like Corrie, was soooo grateful to have them but realized that I don’t have near enough hidden away in my heart and mind for times such as these.

But most of all, I know that “I MADE IT!!!” through today because just as He promised…His grace was sufficient and His power worked best in my weakness!