What Does LD Mean?

LD

As I write those letters, many different things might come to mind for each of us depending on what is going on in our lives at this very moment.  Here are just a few…

For many of us this past weekend, LD meant LABOR DAY, an extra day of rest, family and the last “official” day of summer.

For others, LD this past weekend meant LAUNDRY DAY, a great day to get caught up!

For thousands of husbands and wives right now, LD means LOVE DARE, the daily challenge they are committed to as they try to put their failing marriages back together.

For some of my very pregnant friends in this staggering, August heat, LD means one thing and one thing only, LABOR & DELIVERY, and it can’t get here soon enough!!!

For the “Love of My Life,” LD stands for “LATER DUDE,” the words he would say to any boy who asks for permission to date one of our precious daughters before they turn 35, appropriate dating age according to him!

And for every one of us on any given work or school day, LD can mean LOOOONG DAY and needs no further explanation!

But 7 months ago, LD began to mean something entirely different and very unfamiliar to our family as I was diagnosed with the advanced stages of chronic LYME DISEASE, and just two months later it was confirmed that I had given the disease to both of my girls when I too carried them during the long, hot, summer months and counted the days until LD-LABOR & DELIVERY.  So needless to say, over the last several months with 3 of the 4 members of our family having Lyme Disease, LD has become the topic of almost every conversation, the focus of every day to study and learn as much as possible about this very unfamiliar disease and the reason life, as we know it, has been turned completely upside down.

Almost everyone who finds out what we are battling says, “What exactly is Lyme Disease?”  To which I share what I have learned, but by no means do I claim to be a doctor or an expert.  LD is a caused by bacteria that was transmitted to my body through a tick bite.  We know that it must have occurred when I was in high school because that is when I first remember getting sooooo sick for months and months and being diagnosed with everything from mono to chronic fatigue to depression.  Because I did not have a rash that would alert the doctors to the possibility of Lyme Disease and because there is so much controversy over if Lyme Disease even exists in the South (to which I say, “What?  We think the deer that carry these ticks that are recognized as the cause of thousands of LD cases in the Northeast stop at the Mason Dixon Line?!?!  But don’t get me startedJ), the harmful bacteria have been growing in my body unrecognized for some 15+ years (LD means LATER DUDE, if you thought I was going to give the exact number!).  During this time, the bacteria has been multiplying, burrowing and hiding in my tissue, attacking my immune system and my organ systems one at a time, and even was transmitted through the placenta to each of my babies.

Lyme Disease is a debilitating disease in which patients look perfectly well on the outside but are wasting away on the inside, are being misdiagnosed, are in extreme amounts of pain and are in need of the medical community and insurance companies to recognize, test for and treat this wicked disease.

Treatment for LD is long and hard as the bacteria is able to hide from medicine and actually “fights back” by emitting toxins in the body that make patients even sicker before they can get better.   This extensive treatment includes:  medication, detoxing, immune boosting, a strict, clean diet and rest, rest, rest.  So needless to say, since all three of us are in the middle of Round 3 of LD treatment, you understand why most days LD stands for LOOOOONG DAY to us!

However, about one month after hearing from my new doctor, “You have one of the worst cases of Lyme Disease I’ve seen!” and receiving texts and emails referring to my illness as LD (the abbreviation for texting and writing), LD began to mean something entirely different to me after I read this verse in Psalm 34:19…

 “A righteous man (woman) may have many troubles, but the LORD DELIVERS him (her) from them all.”

It seemed to jump off the page at me because I thought, “Right now, I do have many troubles.”  So that very day I began to pray the second part of this verse, “LORD, DELIVER Me!”  After receiving further diagnoses, my prayer began to include, “LORD, DELIVER Me and My Oldest Child and My “Baby” Daughter.”  Over these last several months it has grown to, “Please LORD, DELIVER Me and My Oldest Child and My “Baby” Daughter and Kelly and Scott and Melanie and Jack and my new friend in Oklahoma and young Sam and MB’s son in Memphis and the teenage girl in my daughter’s class and her mom and her sister and everyone who sat around the tables at our first support group meeting last week and on and on and on…”

LD-LORD DELIVER…

the cry of my heart, the name of this blog and

the promise from God that I continue to hold onto!!!

Advertisements

Lesson #2 That I Have Learned

Lesson #2  That I Have Learned

What does a very old and worn mini-trampoline, from the time during the 1980’s when Jane Fonda was wearing bright colored leg warmers over her very tight and even brighter aerobics outfit and Olivia Newton John was singing “Let’s Get Physical,” have to do with Lesson #2 that I have learned during this season of sickness and suffering? Actually, it has EVERYTHING to do with it!

As I began doing extensive research about my diagnosis and prepared for my treatment process to begin, it became clear that I would have to do as much as I possibly could daily to detox my body from the harmful toxins that continue to make me sick. You can imagine my surprise when I received detox instructions from a highly respected treatment facility that outlined the best way to help detox your body and activate the lymphatic system is to do “rebounders,” small bounces, for up to twenty minutes a day on a mini-trampoline. I thought to myself, “A What? The best thing for me to use is a piece of equipment that I have not laid eyes on in over 30 years? How can I possibly do that?” I shared this outlandish idea with a dear friend of mine, and as I remember, we both just laughed at such a crazy idea. However, she is determined to do everything possible to help me get 100% well. So a few days later and not at all surprising to me, she had a remedy for the crazy mini-trampoline idea…small bounces on a big exercise ball. Now that is a “fabulous solution,” and I just happen to have one of those big exercise balls sitting in the closet collecting dust and becoming more and more deflated with each passing day. So out of the closet it came. I pumped it back up to its full size to support me, and as silly as I felt and looked, I began to bounce twenty minutes 2-3 times a day.

Now on one particularly hard day of treatment, after being nauseated with flu-like symptoms most of the day, missing my family terribly, crying many tears that led to a full blown pity party for myself, I decided that as much as I didn’t want to, I should get out of bed and take my required daily afternoon walk. I was feeling so down that I didn’t even change my clothes, but instead chose to walk the street in my pjs. I remember listening to the saddest song I could find and just cried and cried behind my big, black sunglasses. I am sure that anyone driving by thought I was a complete basket case and needed to be hospitalized on the 8th floor.

I did, however, make it up and down the street twice, and with each step in the bright, warm, afternoon sunshine, my “poor me” mood began to lift. I decided that I should continue my “sun therapy” in the very quiet backyard of the home that I was visiting. As I stepped around the back porch, I stopped dead in my tracks. My mouth flew open and literally hit the ground. What I saw took my breath away! Sitting under a large tree, tucked away in the corner of the yard all of these years was the 1980’s mini-trampoline in the picture above and was exactly the obsolete item that I needed the most. I could not believe my eyes. My pity party and tears were immediately gone. I began to giggle out loud because I knew this gift was just for me, as “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” James 1:17

I continued to giggle out loud as I bounced up and down and up and down for the next twenty minutes. Now every time I feel like I can’t go on and continue this journey on my own, I remember the mini-trampoline, and that just like that afternoon in the backyard, I’m not alone. Then, I giggle out loud!

Lesson #2 that I hope to never forget is…

A 1980’s Mini-Trampoline – Just To See That He Is Here…I Can Do Anything!

“LEGACY” STORY FROM AFRICA #4

The Rest of the Story…I shared the story of my “baby” getting to experience the desire of her heart by going deep into the slums of Kenya to “Reach the Unreached!” It has taken me several days to compose myself after she called and shared with me who she met living inside this tin shack. As she described the family to me, the tears began to fall. I tried to keep her from hearing me cry so that I would in no way hinder her from speaking every word that was spilling from her heart.

My 14-year-old stepped inside this small, dark, dirty home of “nothing,” and was greeted by the two smiling faces that we all see in this photo. They are the five-year-old and three-year-old of a 26 year old, single mother who also has her one-year-old baby living with her here. As the team inquired of her needs and how they could pray with and for her, they learned of her heartbreaking story, and it is this story that has had me crying the “ugliest cry” for days now.
This young mom of three ran away from her abusive husband to find a better life for her and her children. I cannot even begin to imagine how this tin shack in the mud, garbage and sewage was her better option. Every day, she leaves her five-year-old along to care for the three-year-old and baby while she goes and sits among a pool of women hoping that she will be the lucky one to be selected that day to wash someone’s laundry so that she can feed her family. In the United States, what she does each day would be called “Child Endangerment.” In Africa, what she does each day is called “The Norm.”

As my girl and the team sat on the dirt floor of this mother’s home, they asked her what she needed most and how they could pray for her. She only asked for one thing…the school fees to send her children to school because not only would going to school give her children a better life than the life that she is living, which is every parent’s desire, but it would also ensure that her children would have food to eat each day. When asked how much she needed for the fees, her reply of $8.00 a month might as well have been million dollars to her.
And it is those words, $ 8.00 a month, that I have not been able to stop repeating in my mind over these last two days since I heard them. You mean the amount I spent last weekend on a 2 hour movie that bored me to tears would send both of her children to school for a month. $ 8.00, the amount of the tip on just one of my dinners out, would keep her three children from being left alone all day every day.
$ 8.00, the amount I paid for one watermelon yesterday at the grocery store, would ensure her children would be fed each day for an entire month.
$ 8.00, the amount that my “baby” girl has already committed to pay herself each month to ensure that her new “Unreached” friends will be “Reached’ even after she is gone.

“LEGACY” STORY FROM AFRICA #3

As I looked at this photo of my “baby” making a home visit to the poorest of the poor in the slums of Africa, all I could think was “He will give you the desires of your heart!” (Psalm 37:4) That thought goes back to a night several weeks ago when I was soaking in a hot bathtub. All of the sudden she walks in (just to set the record straight…it doesn’t matter if they are 2 or 14, they don’t knock and even the bathroom is not a private place) with the look on her face of, “Mom, we need to talk.” She plopped down on my bathroom counter. I sat up straight in the tub. She began to spill her heart and within minutes, she was in tears. She began telling me how she felt this time in Africa she was supposed to go and find the children who weren’t in the schools or in the orphanages, the ones that ran to them each time they walked through the slums wondering why they couldn’t hear the stories the Americans came to tell, the ones that continue to be hungry each day and the ones who had never even heard the name of God. So between her sobs, I began to ask her, “Do you feel God called you to this trip?” She nodded, “Yes!” I continued, “Do you feel that God provided in amazing ways the funds you needed to go?” She nodded, “Yes!” Again, “Do you feel that God has broken your heart for those who aren’t being reached?” In a little girl voice, she nodded, “uh-oh!” Then I asked, “So why are you crying, sweet girl?” To which she sobbed even louder, “What if the leaders won’t listen to me because I’m only 14, and I don’t get to go to them?” Then for the next hour while my bath water went from steaming hot to chilling cold and every one of my fingers and toes turned to prunes, I spoke all the encouraging, confident building, motherly words of trusting God that I could think of, and finally asked this one last question, “So, do you think your mission for this trip is to “Reach the Unreached’?” To which she sat up straight and tall with a smile on her face and said, “Yes, Mom! That’s my mission this time!” She and I said these three words over and over to each other on the remaining days leading up to her trip. They are the last words I whispered in her ear as I hugged her good-bye at the airport…”Go ‘Reach the Unreached,’ my precious girl!” This photo made me smile because it confirms…she got the desire of her heart and is fulfilling her mission too!

“LEGACY” STORY FROM AFRICA #2

My mother always repeated these words over and over to me growing up…”There are only two great gifts you can give to your children. One is ROOTS. The other is WINGS!” Now, that is the motto we have said many times over the years in regards to raising our own girls. But I must be honest, the whole “wings” thing was really tested a few weeks ago when standing in the airport to send my oldest off to Africa. Here are just a few of the phrases we heard in a 24 hour period…”first flight is cancelled,” “a day layover in Chicago,” “no seats available for your third leg from Paris to Kenya,” “another day layover in London,” “food vouchers,” “hotel vouchers,” “spend the night in the Paris airport,” etc.. Everything in this mom wanted to say, “My Precious Girl, spreading your wings this time is not going to work. Just stay rooted right here in Little Rock with Mom and Dad.” However, my very mature, wise beyond her years, fifteen-year-old must have sensed my hesitation because in a very calm voice she looked at me and said, “Don’t worry Mom! God’s got this!” Then she turned, spread her wings and flew away, and as this photo shows, soared all the way to Africa!

“Legacy” Story from Africa #1

photo (3)

It’s been too long! I say that because my absence from writing, which has become one of my greatest pleasures during this time of illness, was due to a very hard second round of treatment and all the energy I had left at the end of each day was used to prepare and send my two precious girls on a three week mission trip to Africa. I have been asked to share about their trip and my thoughts as their mom while they are away on this blog since so many of my friends don’t yet do the whole Facebook thing. (I am not pointing any fingers since I don’t yet do the whole Twitter thing.) Sharing their journey with the many who have inquired of them and supported them both financially and through prayer is the desire of my heart and an important part of this season of life for me. Therefore, I will devote many of my next entries here to telling their story until they are home with me again.

Those closest to me knew that preparing for my girls departure was really hard for me. Many would ask, “Is it because you are scared for them?” To which I would answer, “Not in the least!” Some would think it was because I was sad that they were going. As will be described below, that was not it either. The reason their leaving was so hard for me was because everything in me wanted to be going to Africa too. My absolute greatest joy in life and the time that I feel most alive in this world is when I am on a mission trip helping those who can’t help themselves and bringing hope to those who have none which is exactly what my girls are doing in Africa as we speak.

There were many times that I just had a big ole pity party for myself on my back patio asking, “Why can’t I go?” Even as I type the words telling about this, I find myself sticking out my bottom lip as if to say, “It’s not fair! It’s just not fair! I just want to go!” Stomp…stomp…stomp! This continued for several days, and it just got worse the closer their departure came. Until one of my closest friends, who is wise beyond her years, sent me these words one morning…

“This verse came to mind as your youngest leaves for Africa today…

”Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Matthew 28:19

I hope that you realize that as she goes today, you are also going. You are sending one of your disciples just as Jesus commanded, and in 8 days you will be sending another, you’re oldest. Though you cannot go physically, your legacy is going!”

WOW! My big ole pity party ended right then and there! I had never thought of it that way!!! The most amazing part of this story is that another of my dearest friends said those exact same words to me the day before. Guess I’m just a slow learner or was crying “Poor Me!!!” so loud that I couldn’t hear her. Sorry, KG!

So below is just one of my favorite “legacy” stories from Kenya, Africa…

I didn’t cry when she left. That is soooo unusual for me. Ask anyone. I’m a crier! So, why didn’t I cry when my baby left me for three weeks? What is wrong with me? I have asked myself that question many times over the last 10 days since she has been gone, and I now know the reason why I did not cry. How can I be sad when I have watched her work soooo hard to raise money for this trip that she wanted more than anything? How can I be sad when I heard her pray that people would help her financially and then saw her jump up and down when a check would come in the mail? How can I be sad when I see her gifts of photography and technology being used to document this trip for all to see? How can I be sad as she woke up each morning “giddy” about the chance to go back to the place she has been missing for over a year? How can I be sad as I watched her selflessly give up her own things to give to those who have none? How can I be sad as these trips to Africa have grown her confidence, self-esteem and heart? How can I be sad when my many prayers over the years that God would use her to make a difference in this world are being answered? So as I receive photo after photo like the one above, the only tears I cry are tears of joy!!!

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!

Mint-leaves-2007[1]

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!