Matthew 5:14-16

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." ~Matthew 5:14-16

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Updates n' such.

Oct. 25, Tuesday: Battle in the mind:

My day off. It’s a crisp sort of morning. Everything outside is beginning to unthaw from frost sheaves. The Fall colors; bright yellows and ambers and browns against the contrasting deep blue sky have my fingers itching for my camera. It’s quite beautiful. I’ve just sat down, having completed tending to the chickens, and I wait for the kettle to heat up so I can have some earl grey tea. Speaking of, there it whistles!

….mmm, okay, I’m back. This morning hasn’t been all fluff and roses, I just don’t like starting off on a negative foot. I like to look back at all that I’ve written and see the beautiful moments (not that I am an optimist, I am not. I’m a realist). But sometimes, I’ve learned, the most beautiful moments are hidden under the weight of trials. The flower breaking out from its seed and struggling up through the soil, up toward the sunlight. Breaking through the surface, and as the sun warms it, it opens. …and it is beautiful, isn’t it?

I had a rough morning, a rough last night, lol, a rough week. I woke up right where I left off from the night before: slicked in sweat and shivering cold, my stomach protesting how upset it was at me, and *closes eyes* nausea.

I laid in bed for a while, thinking about how I agreed yesterday to chat with my friend, Paul. But, I’d felt terrible and laid the whole evening and night away, curled in a ball with my headphones on, eyes closed and listening to my daddy play his guitar (daddy had sent me a few to soothe me and it was as he intended; it helped). I felt badly that I never texted Paul to simply tell him I wasn’t feeling so grand. I didn’t tell our neighbor either, pressing myself against the cool wall and trying to remain interested in what she was saying. I care about my friends and family and I want to show that I do. I tried hard, but I still felt distant, removed, and longed to just curl into a ball and sleep it off.

I snatched my phone and texted my apology to Paul. I went on to think about how I made a promise to my parents to clean and tidy my closet and room on my day off. I looked about my room (which isn’t messy, it just needs to be gone through and throw away what I don’t need) and then I cried. I didn’t feel good, I knew I wasn’t up to cleaning, but I did not want to break my promise above all. But I knew I couldn’t do it.

I stared at my closet door and wiped my eyes. No. I wasn’t going to break my promise. I just wasn’t! I stood up and marched over to the mirrored door and rested my hand on it to begin, then I noticed, staring back at me wasn’t tear marks dribbling down my nose. It was blood. It started to gush and no sooner did I realize that than I covered it and raced to the bathroom, my thoughts disarrayed. Thoughts slammed up against me with no other intention than to hurt me, and they did. You are so weak. You are frail. You are worthless and lazy and care only about yourself. I snatched wads of toilet paper and then, in the dark, sat down atop my bathroom counter, peering down into the sink. Worthless. Good for nothing. Frail. Selfish. Lazy. Weak… pounding relentlessly. I blinked away tears, crying but trying hard not to. Think, I told myself. Think around it. But it was so heavy and so hurtful. I just wanted to cry openly, but I couldn’t because I knew I needed the blood to clot. 

Oh help, I prayed, then I texted two of my pals. My thoughts shouted back up at me from the texting block. “I am a frail person.” I closed my eyes. No, I told me. Think anywhere else. Think up some Scripture. I couldn’t bring any to mind. I have a memory verse card holder in my bathroom that has a verse per week to look at. I turned my head to glimpse it, I knew what I would find for this week, I’d read it for the past few days. I read it anyways, just to have something to visually grab onto. Adversity: Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” I closed my eyes and just sat, hunched there. The phone rang, startling me. It was mom. I chatted with her and let her know I was in the middle of another bloody nose. Text messages came through, but I couldn’t look at them while speaking with her. She stayed on the line until the bleeding stopped. Thankfully, it was short-lived, lasting only six minutes. The text messages were my pals telling me they were praying. 

I decided not to do my closet today, instead choosing to relax and take it easy. This makes it so my friends don’t have to come over and tie me down with rope. :P Being I feel the need to be productive but I am relaxing, I figured to update my blog.

Oct.20, Thursday: Trusting

I woke up with a terrible thought. I remembered what a lady (a guest at work) told me about I.T.P. and how it hindered and could stop pregnancy, especially - killing the mother. This news, of course alarmed me. I didn’t know it did that and she was saying it did. So patients with I.T.P. couldn’t bear children? She said sadly that it was the case. (-This I now know is NOT true.) I was heartbroken. She’d asked if I was pregnant, but I had told her I wasn’t. She told me I should notify my husband of the danger to myself, but that didn’t concern me because I’m not married. Then the boyfriend, she said. But I haven’t one of those either. “I’m waiting for God to bring him to me.” She had rolled her eyes at that.

The conversation came to mind because I firmly believe that raising God-fearing children is the lasting legacy I desire to leave behind. Nothing would bring me sweeter pleasure than to teach my own to look to the Lord for their strength, to find peace in His love, and rescuing security in His arms. And oh what a thrill it would bring me to have them worshipping Him too! Six am in the morning, alone by myself, I struggled with finding resolve to press away from the memory of her words but it was too overwhelming. I knew where this fear came from. I had clamped my mouth shut because there was one word my flesh was longing to say, and I would not dare utter it: It’s not fair. God is not being fair.
I didn’t want to accept that lie, no matter how hard it echoed around in my head.

I texted two of my best-friends, seeking not for encouragement but for prayer-support. “The enemy is trying to make me fear, amica (Latin for “my friend”). I am resolved to plug my ears, to not hear the what ifs. God is good, He loves me so, and if this is where I must tread, I love Him still. Still the thoughts upon my mind make me cry because I was told if my case is chronic, it may affect having children and for my hubby when he comes, amica, I want to give him that joy. I cry at this possibility of “what if” but inwardly I know my God, I know His heart, His character is True. I remind myself He is the One who works great wonders and what mortal man can ever hope to comprehend that sort of love? I will not fear this! I am not afraid of this cruel shadow because inside my heart is my Joy and my Light; He is everpresent. I press my fears into His Mighty palms, my hope is in the Lord, not in me, to pull me thru.) Pray for me, chica. Thank u.” 

What I received was not what I had expected at all. It was Paul! He’d received that message somehow, perhaps a slip of my thumb or some way, I don’t know how. It certainly wasn’t meant for his eyes. I wiped at my tears and tried to wrap my mind around how this fluke in sending had happened. It had sent to Hannah and Rissa, which was good -I had intended for that to happen. But, I didn’t mean for him to get it! What did I touch? How’d he get this? “No,” I cried out. My message had deleted as I scrolled through hurriedly to make room for his text messages to enter. I felt very frustrated at technology and my lack of knowledge about it. Finally I opened Paul’s text. He told me he was praying for me when my message came. It occurred to me: God knew what I needed before I asked my ‘amicas’ for prayer. Someone had been praying. (And Paul: I am sorry I called you a girl, I will likely never live that one down. :P )

Paul set my mind straight by what he said. My husband, wherever he was, would love me no matter if I could bear a child or not. I would be a treasure to my husband regardless because he would love me. And there was another option for those families who couldn’t have children -to adopt them. I’d always known whoever my husband would be; he would love me for me, not for what I could provide. I wanted to text him back in thanks, his words were truly spoken. However, my fingers quivered, my eyes were unfocused with unshed tears….and then I was undone. In a matter of seconds, I had curled into a ball, hand clenched on the cellphone, and I cried. Heart-wrenched, torn, noisy and yet without intelligent words; just the sound of my voice behind clenched teeth as I fought to compose what little of me I had at the moment. There wasn’t any strength in me though, so it came out. It was honestly the most horrible sound I’ve ever heard in my life. I’ve never heard a cry quite like that one and I surprised myself that I had made it. I knew the name of that cry and I had read about it in books. Its name was pain.

I could hear Genny (my puppy) come up and she rested her head on the bed, nuzzling me in the shoulder and whimpering softly. Inspired by her concern over me, I felt Tuxedo (my cat) pad up to my front and he flopped beside my curled fist. Purring, he began bathing my fingers. You know, animals know when you are hurting. If that’s not proof, I don’t know what is.

I wanted God to be pleased with me but I was so unhappy because of the possibility (it wasn’t even a fact, and it was with wrong information) that I couldn’t bear children. I thought about the cute little pact I’d made with Hannah: That she have a little boy and by the time my husband comes I’d have a girl, then we’d introduce them nice and young. They’d grow up knowing each other and then get married. Wellah! We’d be family! The inlaws – dundundun! The scheme was a master-mind plan, we were sure of it. Although it was only good joking, this thought hurt too.

I felt ungrateful, a wretch, longing for what I wasn’t given. This only caused me to sob harder. I wanted to honor God so badly, with all that was in me. The thought of not hearing the pitter-patter of barefeet down the hallway, the unstoppable giggles at bedtime while tucking them in, teaching them to sing “Jesus loves me this I know…” ….it stung terribly. Daddy help, please Daddy help, I huffed. I’ve never been here before. I don’t understand. I’m alone but I’m not. You are always here.

I clutched my pillow and tried to stifle my sobs with it so I could think straight. If not having children is Your will for me, I accept that. It’s just…oh Daddy it’s hard! I would love to honor my future husband with bearing children to carry on his name, I would love to teach them Your ways. God, why can’t I bring my flesh to understand what my spirit knows? You are in control of all things, even this. You are more than fair to me, make this lie about You being unfair to go away! I swiped my tears. Help me to understand. This is our journey together, You and I. Wherever You lead, that’s where I’m going.
My flesh was quick to object to the concept of this possible path, but my heart was pre-decided. It doesn’t matter to me what path or how dark or how painful or nothing! You are guiding me through this valley and I am going wherever You go; I am going to follow. I love You that much. With that, I sat to the edge of my bed and wiped the remainder of my tears away. I was going to make it through this battle too. Not because of my strength, but His strength alone.

Oct. 21, Friday: Touching a life

I have been learning what it is like to deal with hot flashes. It is, as I’ve told my pals, everything that elderly ladies say it is: It’s really not any fun. I like my clothes dry and when it hits, I become a furnace of heat and I get sweaty. Ighk! Then I shiver, ice cold. Burrr! I have been cooking (I love working with food!) and am often hovering over the fryers or near the oven or leaning into the hot cases. It is very difficult to remain there and do my task with the sweltering heat, but I am committed to doing as great of a job as I can manage.

I am grateful for such compassionate coworkers. I will never forget their kind acts. This day was particularly difficult. My face flushed and instantly a bag was thrust into my hands by a fellow coworker wearing a knowing sort of smile. “Take that into the freezer.” Far grateful for the task of putting away the object, I went quickly. The cold, icy air whipped on my face and I thanked God for merciful coworkers. I stood, resting up against the icy shelving unit and boxes, praying for endurance. To tolerate this awful feeling, and for strength to keep going so I could make it to the end of the day. The last thing I ever want to do is hinder my coworkers. I am committed to be a team-player, to make the quality of their day the best day, just as I want for all my guests.

Lunch rush hit and we were slammed with orders for chicken, and fritters, and mac and cheese. I hurried about to drop the chicken and keep the cases nice and stuffed. A lady came to the counter. She gave a faint smile and asked prices on chicken pieces. She looked so tired and worn. I felt compassion for her, her day must have been rough and it was only noon. I tried to slow my rapid-paced mind down; she was my most important focus right now. She would have my full attention. Everything else faded to background noises. Her hubby had just been through surgery and she’d driven a whole 45 minutes because he wanted our fried chicken! I smiled, then said something dumb, “If it would help, I’ll be praying for you.” She sighed longingly, “I would love that.”

I could have slapped my forehead, I fixed my error, “Prayer does help; I’m going to pray for you.” I asked her husband’s name and wrote the prayer info on a paper towel scrap for later, shoving it in my back pocket. Encourage her, I kept thinking. Then: No no, she’s busy, I’m busy, there’s no time. I handed her the baggy of chicken pieces and she left. My heart felt ripped. Oh! Why didn’t I tell her? I had encouragement and she needed it, I just knew she did. It would only take a second to jot down my blog address and then my story could speak for itself and encourage her, just as I’d recently read in 2 Corinthians 1:4. I saw her briefly, but I was stopped and asked a question by a guest. I answered their question and then served them. By the time I looked back up, she was nowhere to be found. I felt horrible. I had botched it and I knew I did. Oh God, please bring her back. I made a mistake, I know it. You brought her all the way here and I…I messed up. It wouldn’t have taken long for me to scribble my site address on a napkin and pass it to her, but I’d used the excuse of “I’m busy,” coupling it with the worst excuse in the book, “there is no time.” I am so sorry.

I continued to do my job, trying not to think about how I had messed up, trying to move on. An hour later, there was an order call on our phone. Five chicken breasts, 4 fried, 1 baked. I recognized her voice. Somehow, her order had never made it home with her although she’d paid for it. She was coming all the way back. I glanced up at the clock. I’d be off-work by the time she got here, and I also knew I’d be sitting in the fireside area to catch my breath before driving home. That had been pre-planned for me. I’d been longing for the moment where I could sit down, rest, and have a cool glass of water. 

The end of my shift came and I sat down with my water, it was a sweet relief. I nursed my water and glanced every now and again at the cooking channel, mainly speaking to a sweet-mannered lady at the next table across from me. We talked about Thanksgiving suppers, cooking and all the warm pleasantness of being with family, among all the memorable chaos that somehow always happens. :P 

I glanced up at the clock, realizing it’d been longer than I’d thought. The guest had come and left without my knowledge. I grasped the paper towel with my site address and tried to run although my stomach did not like that. I couldn’t find her in the parking lot. I couldn’t recall what she looked like. I slowed to a walk and stopped near the flag pole, looking up at the sky. I felt rain dribble on my face but I didn’t care. Tears came to my eyes and I crumpled the paper in my hands. God, I said, dejected. I tried… I tried…
A car engine from behind startled me. I moved aside, glancing at it. A woman looked at me in concern and asked if everything was okay. I told her it was, and then I recognized her and she recognized me. “Hi, are you the guest who ordered the fried chicken?” A silly question, I know, but I was double-checking. She nodded, asking me if I needed a ride somewhere. She kept asking if I was okay. I must look pretty awful, I decided. I pointed to my car, thanking her but I had a ride. “I wanted to give you this.” I said, uncrumpling the paper and handing it to her. “I wanted to give it to you, but I…didn’t.” I told her how I’d prayed God would bring her back so I could encourage her and her husband. “Then your prayer brought me back a whole 45 minutes,” she laughed then after a pause, she looked up at me. “Thank you.” I saw tears in her eyes and I wanted to cry too. It was beautiful to me.

“God provides.” I told her. “He always has, always will.” Her eyes did water up, “You are an angel…” I blinked, taken back, “Oh I am no angel ma’am. I am only a servant, God’s servant, and I want to do His will.” Her expression had me wanting to lean in and give her a hug. She looked like she could use one. I wondered if I should, but I wasn’t sure how to go about giving the hug being she was in the car and I was standing. To lean over like that would make me very nauseous and that wouldn’t be pleasant for either of us if my stomach decided to let go. I decided on a smile instead. “Thank you,” She looked back up at me. “You have encouraged me. You are my angel today because God has sent you. I needed this.” She touched my heart with what she said. We smiled at each other and I told her I’d be praying for her and for her husband, then we parted ways. I watched her tail-lights as she drove out of the parking lot, praying that she would find encouragement from my current trial. 

God, you have amazed me, I told Him, and then I wandered to my car. I eased inside and sat. And sat. Then I cried. Why choose me? I cried in my thoughts, and then blubbered, leaning my head on my steering wheel. Who am I? I’m only a vessel of clay. Yet, You are working amazing things through my pain, through this trial. I can’t understand; it’s too big, too grand. I prayed for the guest and her husband, then drove home.

Oct. 22, Saturday: Faithfulness:

My stomach had been upset the whole day, and it gave me no rest. Gurgling, bubbling, very angry. Breakfast was hard to eat and I had to concentrate hard on the knowledge that I needed the fuel, that I needed to eat. I swallowed the food and my stomach protested, resulting in feeling awful. I prayed for the day to be over quickly, but it went on second by second, minute by minute, just as it always does. Then my work day was finished. I wandered to my car and sat in it for a bit, praying before resting my fingers around the steering wheel. I just wanted to go home, I wanted to cry. My stomach was hurting, I did not feel good. I did not like these hot flashes. I wanted to go home now. 

I drove home, concentrating on the fixed prize: Bed, lay down. I turned up the worship music in my car to focus on that instead of the pain inside of me. I want to be at home now, I said, informing God of what He already knew I wanted. I didn’t want to be driving, I wanted to be curled in a ball with warm covers. Hot tea; the soothing hot liquid to stop the lava-feeling in my stomach, and to ease the nausea. Yes, that’s what I wanted. There was so much pain inside of me. I turned up the speed on my wiper-blades. Then I watched it appear. 

A rainbow streaked across the highway in a brilliant arc of color. I breathed in awed delight. I love rainbows. I seek for them when the sun begins to shine through the rain. It was so beautiful, so vibrant, so amazing!

In a second, I’d nearly forgotten all my pain, although I knew it roared in my stomach all the same. That’s what’s going to be over Your throne…Faithfulness, that’s what it represents, that You are Faithful. A song popped to mind, “Great is Thy faithfulness.” My heart knew the song by memory, and so it sang… Great is Thy faithfulness. Great is Thy faithfulness. Morning by morning, new mercies I see. All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me. Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not. As thou hast been, Thou forever will be. Summer and winter and springtime and harvest. Sun, moon, and stars in their courses up above, join with all nature in manifold witness. To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love. Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning, new mercies I see. All I have needed, Thy hand hath always provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide. Your strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow. Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside. 

….I lurched for my cellphone. I wanted a picture. I doubted anyone would believe I’d seen such a beautiful treasure. Not at this moment in my life, anyway. I pulled over and clicked the picture. It did not look near as beautiful as it did in person, but I still sent it to my friends. I watched it begin to fade as the rain poured. So beautiful… Then I drove the rest of the way home, laid down, and crashed.

Oct.26, Wednesday: God provides for our needs:

A particularly bad day. I woke up from a sound sleep with a dry heaving motion that caused me to double up. My stomach was in the worst pain it had yet been in. It made the other days look like it was less pain. I was crying and I wasn’t trying to, my eyes were watering so badly. The pain in my stomach was fierce. I needed relief. I supposed I just had to go to the bathroom, so I went there but that wasn’t the cure. I decided I needed something soothing and hot tea sounded good. I waddled down the stairs and turned on the burner for the kettle. Instantly I realized I wasn’t done with the restroom. I bolted back up the stairs as quick as I could, my stomach raging at the quickness of my movements but I felt I had no choice.

Long story condensed: I found out I was bleeding, something I knew the doctors had told me to watch for. My instant reaction was to begin shaking and quivering. I paced the house aimlessly, sat on the couch, got up and paced more. Was this anxiety? I tried to still myself. No, no, don’t be anxious. I told myself. God’s still in control. You must think through this, I fought my fear to think straight. Should I call someone? Whom? I sat on the couch for a moment. What if I imagined that I saw blood? My stomach curled at the memory as I recalled it. No, it was blood. I felt very ill. There was blood upstairs…my blood. My nausea increased. I stood up and paced the kitchen. Perhaps I should eat something? No, I should call someone! Duh! “If you have any questions, call me.” I remembered my aunt had told me. I called my aunt. She eased my mind and told me what I knew: I needed to inform my doctor, and I needed to be calm. 

So, I passed my fear over to God for Him to handle, then I made the call to the doctor. I wager I didn’t make much sense, babbling that I’d seen blood and it worried me being they’d told me it might happen and might had just happened to me. They told me they wanted to see me at 1:30pm, so I agreed to the appointment. I heated up a breakfast muffin with sausage and egg and tried to eat it. My body, to my frustration, kept trying to not swallow, to not eat, and to gag it back up. It didn’t want food, but I knew I was hungry. I also have been struggling with keeping my weight up, so food is important. I fought with myself and forced it down, then felt miserable for it. Until the time for the appointment came, I laid on the couch in a ball, dozed in and out of sleep, and texted my pals. I thought about working on my blog or one of my books, but I couldn’t focus – my stomach hurt so bad it was unbelievably painful. I wondered if I was bleeding internally, but I didn’t dwell on it. It wouldn’t have been good for me. I turned on my worship music and curled up in a ball with my headphones, closing my eyes and listening. Every now and again, bringing my finger up to tap a one-fingered text to my pals when they texted me.

The appointment came and I was told I had the option to lay down. Great! I curled up. “That’s how she is when she gets home,” mom pointed out to the doctor. He asked us both questions, mom doing most of the responding while I laid there, hurting. Then he asked me to stretch out so he could see something. He prodded my stomach a little bit, which really hurt. One spot had me taste bile in the back of my throat, and a few more prods off to the side – ouch

He asked me a slew of questions as he went, then he sighed. “I have never seen anyone so sensitive to Prednisone before but your stomach is very irritated with it. We’re dropping it from 60 to 20. And I’m putting in a prescription for Sucralfate to coat your stomach and protect it. Don’t be surprised to continue seeing the blood for a little while, but that should go away. If it doesn’t, call us and make an appointment. I’m scheduling you for an appointment in two weeks. Also, on Friday, I’d like you to go down for some blood-work and we’ll see if your platelets go down or up due to the drop in the medication. Prednisone is the best medication for this, the only other kind to put you on is other steroids.” I nodded. 

I’d done some research at home and Prednisone was proven. I wasn’t too sure about other steroids either and I hope I don’t have to go down that path. I’d rather be on a well-worn path that was proven, but at what cost to my stomach lining? Another worry to let God handle. He had guided me this far, He’d guide me through the rest of the way too. I was certain of that. I just had to go willingly one step at a time, trusting Him. I don’t know where this is going, but He does. He knows where He is leading me through all of this, even though I do not. This is called faith. To trust in what cannot be seen, knowing that God has control over it all, and He will work it out for good. Hand in hand, I’ll go through this trial with Him too. It won’t make me weary or break me. I know that because the Bible said: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will rise up on wings like eagles. They will run and not be weary. They will walk and not faint.” Oh God, teach me to wait.

Went to the store to pick up my prescription. I was hoping to go unseen. Slip in and slip out so I wasn’t asked if I wasn’t feeling good. It was certainly noticeable in my walk, although I tried to draw up so no one could tell. Phony! Everyone could tell I didn’t feel good, and they cast concerned smiles at me. I got my meds, checked out and then started for the door. Then I recalled a promise. The other night, I was having one of my hot flashes and so dad got up and served me some Chocolate Bourdoux Cherry ice cream. I am not a big fan of cherry flavored things for the reason that as a child, medication was grape or cherry flavored, so it all reminds me of…medicine. XP

I took it gratefully. He got mom one too, but he didn’t have any. I asked and he said because I was a piggy and had hogged it so there was none left. He is so generous! He gave me something he really wanted because I was uncomfortably hot and the cold ice cream was a delicious relief. I promised myself that the next time I was at the store, why, I’d get him a private stash to honor his gift to me. I walked up to the counter with the ice cream and my coworker immediately took notice as my face flushed. She came around the counter and wrapped me in a hug. I closed my eyes, I had so needed a good hug, “Thank you.” She told me she would be praying for me and I thanked her again and gave her a hug. A few customers stood back as they looked at me, unsure what to make of the situation I am sure. They probably thought I had a cold due to the fact that I had a pharmacy baggy in one hand and cold ice cream in the other…and telling my coworker that I was hot and sweaty as a warning before she hugged me. Perhaps they thought I had the flu? I speculate that was the case…

Got home and curled in a ball on the couch, my headphones on and listening in the dark livingroom to smooth classical music. Then it occurred to me in a panic: Tonight was Bible study at church! I hadn’t made dinner, hadn’t considered it at all! It was 4pm. I had time. I stood up reluctantly and made for the stairs to the freezer. I stopped at the top as the stairs seemed to wobble and shift beneath my foot as I put it out to descend; I was dizzy. I turned around and paced the kitchen. Was there an easier way? I went back to the top of the stairs and then shook my head. No, no. I checked the fridge aimlessly, not really looking for anything. I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t want to cook. I wanted to lay down. I felt awfully crummy. But mom and dad, they hadn’t had dinner and they would be hungry. By the time they got home, there would be no time for them to fix dinner before study. I was torn. I went back to the stairs and gripped the hand rail. I’d get down those darned stairs if it killed me! I took one step and then stopped. I started crying. I realized I couldn’t do it. I felt helpless. I sat down on the couch, wiped my tears and then laid down. I continued aim-ing with Paul. He offered to bring me supper.

I cried quietly, feeling them streaming down my cheek as I peered sideways up at the laptop screen, one finger typing. That would be wonderful. He asked what I’d like, where, what kind, narrowing down the field. Done. KFC for supper. I felt…relief: Supper was provided. I wished for a good hug. Genny brought me her red pillow and nosed it up to me to take. I cuddled it and cried some more. Grateful for good pals.

I realized then that he’d be showing up at my doorstep with supper. He’d not see me like this, curled up in a ball as I was. My hair was askew and unbrushed. The house needed a good and quick tidy. Someone was coming over, after all. I fought myself to move, but I only felt pain. I considered the condition of the livingroom and kitchen. Well, perhaps those I could let slide. He knew I wasn’t feeling good. But I should turn on some lights so it wasn’t dark in here. I should get up, brush my hair, wash off the tearstains from my cheeks, and make myself presentable. Was it worth it? I mused. Making it appear that I wasn’t as in pain as I was? Wouldn’t that be lying? Yeah, it would be lying, I decided. Still, I wanted to look more put together. I went to sit up and try, but the nausea and dizziness kept me down now. I cried openly, upset at this ‘disaster.’ It wasn’t fair. He was coming and he’d find me stuck to the couch, helpless…wait, that wasn’t good thinking. I had to re-evaluate my thoughts. He was coming with supper because I was hurting and couldn’t do it. He was coming to help me. He knew I was hurting. It would still feel humbling to have him see me curled up like this. So…I cried about that. Then I turned to crying about the irritation in my stomach. I texted mom to tell her supper was provided for. 

I am so alone. I just want a friend here. I was thinking. Someone to please talk to. Then I realized I had a great friend with me, who always listened, who was always there. So I turned to praying. I admit, I lost track of time. I may have dozed off, I’m not sure. If I did, I continued praying where I left off when I woke up again. There was a knock at the door and it startled me. I laid there for a second, realizing foggily that the front door was locked. He couldn’t come in unless I got up and opened that door. I stood up and wiped at my tears. I didn’t want him knowing I’d been crying, but that was just plain silly: I had tearstains down both cheeks, testifying against me that I had been. My eyes were probably all red too, more evidence to the fact. The doorknob, cold from the Fall weather, was stuck tight. I fought it. It just had to open! I wasn’t about to shout through the door, “Its stuck! I can’t get it. Can you?” It didn’t sit right with me. I might be feeling terrible, but this door was going to open. I clasped it tight in both hands and wrenched it with a thick turn. *Click!* It opened. Relief flooded me. Good

I let him in and tried not to share eye-contact at first. What if he saw the pain inside of them? Wouldn’t that hurt to know he couldn’t do anything to ease it? It hurt my other pals to see it. I dismissed the notion: He could pray. Not making eye-contact would be rude of me after so nice an act as he had done. It was selfless really, and out of his way. I hoped that the piece of Scripture would be said of this case to him: “I was sick, and you visited me.” He had provided for an immediate need to his sister in Christ. I was so grateful for the supper and I thanked him. He set the bag down on the kitchen counter and then he wandered back toward the door. He saw my pain all right, I could tell he did. I wished he wouldn’t go, but no one else was home. I swallowed the words that I’m sure would have had him gladly flip on the lightswitch and sit on the couch until my parents got home. I needed to be upright first; above reproach. I didn’t want to be alone though. I reminded myself that I really wasn’t alone; I hadn’t been since I was five. Once I’d reminded me of this fact, then I was okay with my pal going out the door.

He stopped at his car. “You are surrounded by lots of people who care about you, we are all praying for you,” he encouraged me. My vision blurred up, but I put that under control. I wasn’t about to start crying. “Thank you.” I responded, beginning to close the door, then I swung it back open. “God bless you, Paul!” He smiled, told me his usual goodbye and added that he was praying, and he left. I heard him drive away, then I smiled at the warm smell of Kentucky Fried Chicken emanating from the kitchen. I laid down on the couch, then I let go of the tears.

Oct.27, Thursday: Unexpected Surprise:

11am. I am upstairs working on the updates to my blog. There is the sound of a truck and the gravel crunching. Genny scurries from her bed and begins barking furiously. Someone is here! I realized in surprise. Who? Is dad home for an early lunch? I questioned. I hurried down stairs as quick as I could manage it. The front door was stuck. I gave it a quick wrench. Stuck, stuck tight! Blast! Something was laid down on the porch. I wasn’t expecting anything. I wracked my brain. Well, there was that book on prayer that was coming via Grace2You ministry, but that wasn’t due to come in a few weeks yet. And this sounded heavier, bigger than a box with a book in it. I twisted the doorknob, trying to get it open. Gravel, the sound of the truck fading into the distance. Gah! Silly door! I fought it, twisting it. I pressed myself against it and jerked the knob. It clicked. Yessss! Victory!! 

It was a brown box. Standing “this side up” vertical. I cocked my head off to the side, reading the name. It was for…me? My fingers quaked as I placed them around the box and lifted. It was light, not heavy at all. Who from? There was no name in that column. It was completely blank. What the…? The thought came. Confusion. What was this? Who would send a box and not put who it was from? Questions were like the popping of corn kernels, filling my brain. I grabbed my box-knife and slit open the packaging tape. A card slid right into my palm. I saw it and then fell to pieces, sniffling and wiping my nose and trying to contain myself. “Nicole, You’re surrounded by family and friends who love you and are praying for you. The light of Christ is shining brightly through you, a beacon of hope and encouragement to all those that you meet. –from, a friend.”

I shook my head, baffled. Who would…? Who did this? Then it occurred to me, whoever this was, didn’t just put a card into a huge box to ship it to my door. I flipped back the cardboard flap and gasped. A dozen yellow roses with accented baby’s breath! My favorite color of rose. I re-read the card. Hugged it (silly, aren’t I?), thanked God for such simple treasures as these. And then with careful but quaking fingers, blurry tear-dripping vision, lifted the wrapped bundle in my hands. How beautiful! I brought it to my nose and sniffed. I was made upset. I was crying so my nose was all stuffed with drippy snot: I couldn’t smell them! How infuriating! 

I carefully unwrapped the plastic and brought the project over to the sink. I cut off the rubber bands and sniffling and crying, I tended to it. Pieces of the ends flung across the room. Genny ran over and bit on the little projectiles and then spit them out. My guess is she doesn’t like rose stems. :P Tuxedo flicked his ear and stretched out in the sunlight coming in through the dining room. I recalled my three months of working the floral department, as I arranged them in the glass vase. I was allergic to the plant food, so that was a short-lived task, although I loved making the arrangements. Now I got to do that again. It was a creative moment and I enjoyed that. I set them on the dining room table and observed them, wiping at my tears. I re-read the card again, plagued with the mystery of it all. I paced to and fro in front of them, using the little card like a fan. Who sent these? Who did I know with this writing style? Who used these kinds of words when they spoke? Which friends could afford such a bountiful purchase? This friend was right, I was surrounded by those that cared about me – there were too many to narrow it down to who had done this. Brushing away the last of my tears, I sniffed the roses, faintly smelling its sweet, relaxing scent. They were a lovely treasure. I was greatly encouraged. “Friend, whoever you are, you have made my day.” I said aloud to no one. I was, after all, by myself.

Had blood-work done. I told them about my aloe allergy and they began a joking-argument about if the perrywinkle color of the gloves she slipped her fingers into were blue or purple. We all got to laughing, and then she stuck me. It sucked the breath out of me in shock, but then I reminded myself to breathe and I was fine again. I chatted with her in good conversation about my unexpected surprise and then she informed me I was all done. I snatched my book and went to the hospital cafeteria. It was lunch time. I wasn’t hungry, but then, I had only had a breakfast burrito at 8:30am and it was 2:15pm. I should get something to eat. It didn’t feel necessary, but I should. I debated, yes and then no. It was like a ping-pong match. Finally, reason won. I should eat. I pushed through the cafeteria door and entered. There, I told me. You are in the cafeteria, you have to eat now.
I stepped up to the counter and ordered their beef stew and roll. I got a coke to go with it and then sat down at the table. I spooned my soup, moving the beef chunks around for a disinterested second, then I prayed and ate it. I read my book and slowly cleaned off my plate. I was not in a hurry. I had another 15 minutes to go; I’d only used 45 minutes so far.

I wandered aimlessly to the gift shop and found a necklace I couldn’t leave alone. I started playing with the magnetic pieces that go in its center. It was fascinating, and it was also on sale. I also didn’t need it. I put it back. I took it. I put it back. I fidgeted with the pieces. (-Translation of this strange ritual: my usual process of convincing me to buy it has begun.) :P

The phone rang: mom. I talked to her and with my free hand, organized the pieces into shades, textures, and then created an apron design pattern with them on the magnetic board. It was becoming my artwork as I spoke to my mom. I’m sure the gift-shop lady wondered what in the world this shopper was doing with her display piece! :P I took off six of the little magnets and held them in my hand. Mom told me she was on her way, she’d be there for the appointment. Great. I hung up and then the lady informed me that the necklace was on special today: Buy the necklace and get one flair-magnet free. My mind perked at the 20 dollar price. Not bad! I could spoil myself this once. I’d yet to this month. I reasoned in my mind: You only have a budget for spoilage once per month. Is this the spoils you wish to get, or is there something else? I bit my lip. Hmmm… I slipped the black satin chain with its silver pendant from the display arm and held it in my palm. It had a Japanese flair in it, a bird with pink background, black leaves curling this way and that way. Kinda….yeah…pretty.

Hmmm… said my mind. I didn’t put back the other six flair-magnets. I curled my fingers into a fist. (-Translation: Process of convincing is complete. I am getting it.) I paid for it and then felt my usual sick “I just spent money” feeling that I have always felt when I purchase anything. But then I signed my name with a flourish and she passed me the necklace and its flairs. Then I grinned and felt better. A good treat. I liked it. 

Ping ping! Ping ping! Went my phone. I fumbled before realizing that last month I’d bought a messenger-styled purse for ease of carrying things, the phone was no longer inside the main bag where I was digging, but in a special phone pouch. I blushed, embarrassed. “Oh, yeah,” I mumbled in remembrance, retrieved the phone and turned it off. “Time for my appointment.” I smiled and said goodbye.
Wandered into the cancer wing of the hospital and told the ladies at the counter I was there. They were so surprised that I wasn’t finished with the book yet. “Ah, because I’m savoring it!” I said, then added. “It is very, very good and I don’t know when I’ll find another one like this. It’s a great story.” I sat down and read it while I waited. Mom came, so I shared my purchase with her.

My turn came up. I discovered I’d lost a little bit of weight. Learned about taking medication. Learned about doses and times, scheduling. Learned about keeping a record of what medication I take with me in my purse. Learned about reading the side-affects warning (which I usually skim over with a “yeah-yeah, I know” mentality) and what to do when I have those affects. Now I know. This whole realm was (still is!) completely new to me. I’m grateful for such patient nurses. I had the nurse repeat most of this over and over and over again, because it kept going over my head. I finally got it. I’m glad they were so patient with me. :) Discovered my level had soared to 175,000. Mom and I were delighted. I was in a healthy zone with lots of maneuvering space, lots of cushion.

I was spoken to about my tummy-irritation, which I’d tried to “tough through” and not tell anyone how badly it was hurting me. “Some things are not meant to be toughed through.” I’d been told. I agreed quietly, nodding and fidgeting with the corner of my book and purse strap. It was a duh moment: Of course I should have told them it was upsetting my stomach and making me uncomfortable. What had I been thinking?

The specialist spoke with us for a little while, repeating what the nurse said about my stomach-irritation. What they said was right on and I knew that. I wondered why I hadn’t done what they were telling me is the right way to address such symptoms, it made such good sense. She then said that most children grow out of this, but for young adults, like myself, it was most likely to be chronic. She said we would get to know each other. I had anticipated this route, just as I’d pre-thought out all the routes. It didn’t surprise me at all. It made sense. It was an allergy to something. We just have to find out what the “something” is.
 I want to know what it is that causes my I.T.P. and on my next visit, I plan to ask my specialist what the process for elimination is. How do they plan on going about isolating the outside-allergy that causes my I.T.P.? Once I know that, a mystery will be solved. Hurrah! I can’t wait for that day! 

Mom took me to the gift shop and so I showed her my handiwork and she gave a slight tilt of her head. “So, which ones do you like?” I shrugged and grinned, “I bought them already.” “But what else?” She asked. I pondered this, staring at the pieces. I had been reluctant on putting back the two ships in the harbor, the blue ivy, and the yellow and white flowers. I pointed out the three pieces of flair. She plucked them off the board. “What are you doing?” I asked. She gave a wirey grin, “Everyone else is not the only ones who you’ve inspired and encouraged with your story you know.” She said, matter-of-factly. “You inspired me too. You are an encouragement to me, and I want to buy these for you.” I just about blubbered emotionally, but then I caught myself – it was a public place with the cashier watching us. I still teared up, but I blinked them back. Mom bought the pieces and then handed me the baggy of three flair. I held them and smiled up at her, “Thank you.” It was a great day. :)

…Well, I best go have some breakfast and attend to the rest of my chores. I’ll try and keep you all updated as it comes, and thank you all for praying for me; it is a very big encouragement. I hope that my story brings you encouragement to continue to press your concerns and worries into the hands of the Lord and trust Him, even when it seems hardest to do. Rest assured, God knows what we are dealing with, and He intends for those things to mature us and strengthen our faith (and that’s why we should consider those trials as joy). Wonderfully enough, He knows what struggles and trials we are going to encounter long before we discover them. He has control over it all, and that is the greatest of comfort. :)

Until next time, God bless.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My life is in His hands

Today I awoke with a single thought: I am alive, praise God. I reflected on yesterday's events, pondering all that has happened to me. Then as I watched the sun rise, I cried. I cannot describe well enough what indescribable emotions I have. I am so grateful, so happy, so relieved, so thankful.

Two weeks ago on Sunday is where I will begin...

I was working, laughing and joking with my coworkers when I got another bloody nose. I lurched over to the paper towels nearby and thought that after a little bit, it would be over. It is Fall and the air is dry and cold, bloody noses are bound to happen under such conditions. It began to gush really bad and it wouldn't stop. My coworker became very concerned about me. My other coworkers and her brought paper towels after wad of paper towels and I easily filled up half the trash barrel. Thirty minutes and it was still gushing. I heard a ringing in my ears and suddenly, a thick juicy pop. Instantly I felt I was in a fish bowl, spots entered my vision and things began to look muted and darker. I watched the clock, feeling dizzy. My heart started pounding as I watched time tick by, and knowing that although I had a damp cloth around my neck and my head back, the bleeding just wasn't stopping. Forty minutes later and I heard my coworker whisper to the others, "I am worried. Do you think we should take her to E.R.?" "Maybe it will stop, I pray it does soon. I'm worried too." the reply came. "If it doesn't stop in ten minutes, I'll take her." She said. "And I'll hold down the fort." came the response back.

Forty five minutes later, the bleeding slowed and stopped. At fifty minutes, I stood back up and went back to my tasks. I didn't feel very good, I thought for sure that something was very wrong about what had just happened. My heart wouldn't slow, the world around me seemed so dark and dull, and oh the piercing ringing with the dizziness! I just wasn't sure what to make of it, but I wanted to work and work to my best ability. So I did. I took a few breaks to catch my breath and overheard coworkers saying I was having an anxiety attack. I prayed that was not the case. The verse "Be anxious for nothing," came to my mind consistently. I handed God the reigns on my life, I did not want the burden and I knew that His way was best. Trusting Him was better than relying on myself to pull through. I still felt abnormally weak and my mind pressed me so hard with the thought: Something is wrong
I finished out my workday, punched out. I sat in my car for about ten minutes, shaking fingered and resting my head on the steering wheel. I couldn't rationally bring myself to drive home. I called the doctor's office and asked their opinion. They said to "call an ambulance, get to E.R. and don't drive yourself." Those I knew cost money I could not pay. I called one of my best-friends, Hannah. Her reply was instant, "I will be there. Hang in there sweetheart, I'm on my way!" My mom called and I told her about the bloody nose. She told me she was on her way. My parents got to my car first and I was taken to the E.R. where Hannah and her hubby met me and gave me encouragement. I was hooked up to the heart monitor where I was told yet again that I was having an anxiety attack and that the cause of my bloody nose was only dryness from the Fall weather. I insisted that something just wasn't right, something was wrong. He rechecked the equipment and then made sure it matched my actual vital signs, insuring that the equipment wasn't glitching up. It wasn't. My heart rate was actually very low, not rapidly pounding. I was told I hyperventilated, swallowed a lot of protein-rich blood, and needed to relax now, go home and moisturize that nose, and take care. Finally giving in, still inwardly unsure, still feeling that sense of something being not right, I did so.

My aunt, who is knowledgeable about medical things, heard my story about the 45 minute nosebleed. She told me I was in the process of passing out. That explained the hyperventilating, the fishbowl effect, the darkening and dulling of my vision, the anxiety. It wasn't that I was anxious after all, but my body giving me a final firm warning that I was about to pass out on the floor! I did not know that at the time but it suddenly made total sense. She gave me a tip about pinching my nose and looking down so that I didn't swallow the protein-rich blood. The body wasn't meant to digest such rich proteins and that explained why I felt nauseated after the 45 minutes of gulping and swallowing. I took her suggestions about moisturizing my nose.

Saturday rolled around and I found bruising on my arm and on my legs. Perhaps I had tapped something a little hard? Bumped into something while bustling around at work and at home? I spoke to my family and they suggested that my iron may be low. I began eating iron-rich food and worked on gaining good weight.

Wednesday of last week. Nosebleeds had become a routine. My coworkers looked at me with the common concerned expression of, "Again? Oh no, sweetheart." And they uplifted and encouraged me, lots of times helping so that I didn't fall behind in my work. (A most excellent team, I love my coworkers. I wouldn't trade them for the world.) :) Fifteen minutes passed to twenty minutes as I stood over the bathroom sink pinching my nose and staring downward, praying that God would see me through this bloody nose too. I spent the time waiting for it to stop in prayer. I figured that was the best way to spend up time that I'm sure would have been otherwise spent thinking negatively about it. If this was going to be a normal situation with me, I was convinced that it would not be wasted, I was going to use the time in prayer. It was going to be time with my Jesus, even if it was talking to Him with a bloody drippy nose; I was not going to let it give me an excuse to be negative. I was going to spend that time with Him. I performed my tasks at work, helped my coworkers, smiled and did my best that I could do. When I got home, I got changed into comfy clothes so I could nap. That was becoming routine. I found that I was dizzy and often times fatigued, so one to two hour naps after work were becoming useful in order to continue doing things at home. I like to be productive (what workaholic perfectionist doesn't?). :P This time, I shouted down the stairs, "Oh no! Mom???" She hightailed it up the stairs to see what I was worried about. I had raised my shirt-sleeve to discover a rich purple-blue bruise the size of my whole hand on my upper left arm. Smaller 1/2 dollar sized bruises dotted the back of my elbows, and forearms. "You need to make an appointment with the doctor." She said worriedly. I booked the appointment for the following day.

Thursday of last week. Another nosebleed. I pinched my nose and began my time waiting for it to please end and praying. It plugged up and I freshened up and returned to my tasks. It wasn't going to ruin my day. I convinced myself daily that, "Today is another day to live for Jesus." I was going to live it in the best way I knew how: by throwing myself at His feet and letting Him know that no matter what, I am His slave and I will do His will. It did not matter the situations, the pressure, or those dreadful nosebleeds. Inspired, I drew a sharpie smiley grin on a cherry tomato and wrote on the back of it that saying. I placed it into the hands of a co-worker who I knew was having a tough day. (Bunny trail: lol, she is so cute! She refused to destroy the "beautiful treasure" I had bestowed in her care, so she put it up on her kitchen sink so she can see it every morning. A few days later she came up to me with a frown and told me it had to be thrown away due to it's being a tomato and...yeah, those things just don't last.)
I got off work and I went in to the appointment. The doctor's eyes grew wide when I displayed nineteen bruises on my arms and legs, promising that I did nothing more than touch something and poof, there they were. And what were those tiny bruise-dots? I asked him about those too. He had the nurse take two vials for blood-work and then I was done. I went home and took a nap.

Friday. I was notified to "be very careful. The lab says to surround yourself in bubble wrap and lounge for this weekend. We'll see you on Monday." "I err...I think I have to work on Monday. Perhaps another day can be scheduled?" I stuttered, confused. Why be very careful? Why the example of bubble wrap? "No, it’s urgent," the doctor objected with my offer. "We will see you on Monday morning. You talk to your boss and get it arranged." "Okay," I moused. "Also, can you come back in today? We need one more vial for blood-work." the doctor said. "Blood-work? Uh, sure." I grabbed my purse and went to the doctor's office. The place they'd drawn blood from last time was already bruising up pretty good so they stuck my other arm. The nurse seemed very careful about pricking me the second time with the needle. I kept feeling like something wasn't right with me but I'd felt that feeling since the monumental 45 minute nosebleed from two weeks ago. I set that warning into the back of my mind as dismissible nonsense. The nurse finished up and I was sent home. A few hours later I was called and told that the result was positive, I had been diagnosed with I.T.P.: Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura.  My first reaction was to laugh out the word, "What?" He explained what it meant and I realized he was serious and the situation was serious. The warning in the back of my mind, it was real. I was given a heavy prescription for Prednisone and told to "pick it up now and get started on it." Still confused at the explanation that my body's immune system was devouring my platelets that clotted my blood, I made a trip to my work and told my boss I needed a span of time for a doctor appointment on Monday. I informed her of my issue, so she was in the know. Thankfully, it was discovered that I was off that day.

Got my meds, went home and told my parents. We researched my diagnosis via the internet and tried to become educated as to what it was and what questions we should ask the doctor. I brought it to the Lord in prayer. I was certainly convinced that wherever God wanted me, that's where I would be, whatever I was to go through, God knew why. I would rest in His hands, the best place in all the world. I received a phone call from the cancer center telling me that I had an appointment with them on Monday morning. That was my doctor appointment? With the cancer center? A cancer specialist was going to talk with me? I swallowed and said okay. I prayed. If this was God's will that I carry cancer within my body, I would remain victorious because it was not me that was strong but Him. Because it was His strength within me, I was "more than a conqueror." God loves me so much, I am a daughter of the King, I reminded myself. And if He desires that I be at Home with Him, then I will live my every last breath at peace and knowing that only He has control. If I try and take the reigns, I will only find my world spinning like a plane in a fast-falling spiraling nosedive. Oh yes, my greatest hope is in Him where security and hope is steadfast and enduring. And how much do I know that no matter what the outcome, God's will WILL be done. Isn't it best then that I "be still and know that He is God?" Yes, certainly. From this point onward, I no longer felt afraid. I was (and am) at complete peace. 
Mom had one of her friends over for supper and Pastor Keith also came (bringing with him a Daily Bread dealing specifically with struggles and trials - this soon became a treasure trove in the days to come). I don't remember saying much, but the evening was very pleasurable and full of good conversation.

Saturday, I was told that I had made an impact on someone's life and they were inspired by me. I waited till I went to bed and then I cried; so in awe that Jesus was using me, His vessel, to shine so brightly when times seemed so dark. I couldn't comprehend fully this fact. I decided upon something monumental: If these dark big bruises, these bloody noses, this purpura that spotted my arms, legs, feet, and eyelids brought even ONE person to the throne of Grace. If my pain, in my weakness, in my struggle, in this situation, the Peace that is within me stirred ONE heart and opened them to see the light that is Salvation. If all of this trial brought just ONE to safety from Hell's gate, then it is worth it all. God let me have this trial because it is my joy to bear it! There are those that pray that You remove this from my life, but if this is Your will that I have it...Oh yes, without a doubt, I will carry it! Please! To be a light from which You shine, Mighty One, my Strength and Delight, that's what I want most! This trial has become my joy. I am strong when I am weak, this mystery I once thought hard to understand, I comprehend it. I am strong not because of me, but because You are in me: I am weak, You are my strength. I read a page of the Daily Bread. Psalms 36:7-8: "How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures." I meditated on that until I drifted off to sleep.

Sunday. "I am praying for you." "You are in our prayers." "*Squenches* I love you, we are praying for you." "Can I add you in our prayer-chain?" "You were prayed for before worship started today." "We prayed for you." "Be encouraged, we are here for you girly, God has a plan for your life!" -my phone vibrated with each text, many of these duplicated until my inbox read 98% full. I blinked away tears and sat in awe in the breakroom, in the car, at home, in my room, as I came to understand just how many were backing me in prayer. I was mightily encouraged.

Monday came. I had set my alarm for 4am. I prayed alone in the quiet dark until 6:30am when the rest of my family woke up. I felt I needed a good long talk with God, He is my support and I knew I would need Him. I wanted Him to know how much He meant to me and that I was willing to go through this day with Him just as any other: With Him guiding me through. Yes, me and my Beloved. Special are the secret times alone with just Him and I. Then I picked up the Daily Bread book and read, meditating on what I discovered. It read: "We experience peace - not panic - when we trust the power of God." The supporting verse was Psalm 29: 11 - "The Lord will give strength to His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace." Wow, I thought. He is faithful, His Word is True, He has done this in my life, today. I got ready and went in to fill out new paperwork at the cancer center. All I felt was peace, calm and secure; my Jesus held me fast and strong in His mighty arms. As nervous thoughts entered my mind, I passed them over to Him and thought about them no more. He would take excellent care of me.
My mom was pulled aside by one of the nurses into the hallway. I couldn't help but overhear them as I filled out the paperwork. "We are worried about your daughter. Her levels are very low," the nurse said in a hushed whisper. "Normal is 150,000 and very low is 10,000. Nicole's is only 7,000." my mom replied, just as soft. "Her condition right now is life-threatening," the nurse agreed. I heard my mom sniffling, trying to contain her tears.

I texted my three best-friends with an update and to be praying for me, and most of all for strength for my mom. I was assured that many were praying. I took that to heart and was comforted by the support. I was called up, my turn. My parents and I entered the room with the specialist and the questions began. I answered them all to the best of my knowledge. Surprisingly, together we tracked the symptoms to a decade at least. This was not a new problem, I had it for a long long time. Suddenly, events in my life that had been so confusing, made the most perfect of sense. Every sore throat my friends had when they were around me, I'd caught and it instantly became strep throat for me and if I didn't catch it, it spun frantically out of control. It landed me into Scarlet fever twice in my childhood. I got H1N1 so easily, then a week later, strep throat, a little bit later, a bad nasal cold that left me with my right ear being infected with piercing random high squeals (it was hard to hear from that side, but I'd let it go, figured it was part of life). The frustrating 'acne' (it wouldn't go away) I thought I had speckled down both legs for years was instantly pointed out as purpura; blood that was popping under the surface of my skin. The winter stories of frostbitten toes and poor blood circulation, she took note of.

The 45 minute bloody nose, nearly passing out and the E.R. rush, my specialist became alarmed at that story: "Did they draw blood for a test?" "No." Mom said. "It was pronounced as only dry and I was sent home." I told her. "No?" She blinked, repeating words, "Dry nose? Sent you home?" I nodded. Mom told her we were not interested in causing any trouble, and the specialist told us she would find out who it was and inform them of what had happened with me so it doesn't happen again. She called that situation "very dangerous." I was examined and then asked if I had the day off as I might be here all day, if not longer. That concerned my parents, but I smiled and said okay. She (the specialist) then sent me off to the lab for more blood-work.

I am afraid of needles, but I informed my fear and the lab personnel of the fact that I was working on conquering it. I read the newest addition to my bookshelf: "Courageous," as I sat in the waiting room. A frail hand rested on my shoulder and so I turned to look at the friendly smile of a stranger. Her words sent me pondering, "You are a light, precious and beautiful." The lady left the waiting room with her friend. I sat there for a moment before being able to read again. They called my name. I swallowed and mustered courage. I was improving from the hyperventilating that I used to do upon seeing the sharp tip. I looked away from the needle, which helps, but only to see Halloween decor that was stickied to the office window in large dripping blood letters spelling out: B-E-W-A-R-E-!  (...yeahhh, <.<....>> cozy feelings!!) I turned my fear over to Jesus. I could conquer this! He is with me! He is with me! I reminded myself. My eyes drew to the vampire grinning sharkishly back at me. He is with me! I shouted in my mind. "Perfect love casts out all fear," the verse popped to mind. I looked away. I will trust in Him! Perfect love casts out all fear, He is Perfect Love, He will cast out my fear. I was told to please hold the last of the seven vials; it wouldn't fit in the slot on the monster-large green chair. It looked like a torture chamber in here with the rubber twisty-tie on the arm of the chair and the plastic vial slots. I told the lab lady that and she laughed at my joking about. We had a good conversation and I surprised myself, holding the vial that would soon contain my blood, and watching the tubes be filled (normally this would make me feel very sick). Soon I was told that I was all done in the "torturous room of blood, bwahahaha." and it was time to return to the cancer wing of the hospital.

I was told the first result would come back within half an hour. I read and played checkers with my Dad to pass the time. A woman placed her hand on my shoulder when I stood up from the match (Dad won) and she gave me a gentle embrace (I bruise amazingly easy), "You are an inspiration. Your mother just told me your story, and honey I am praying for you, so is our church." She smiled sympathetically back at me and then whispered, "So beautiful..." I didn't know what to say. All I could think was, Look, look what God has worked! Amazing! Amazing!

I sat down to read more of my book. "Want some mint tea?" one of the patients asked, grinning jokingly at me. He had overheard my strong dislike of mint when mom pointed out a recipe back in the waiting room of the lab. We shared all in a good laugh and it became a running joke. It was quite funny and laughter felt really very good. There was a lady sitting near the window near her mom who was dealing with cancer and they both told me what a beautiful young lady I was, how "inspiring of a light in the darkness" I was. I found myself speechless, but my mind became a noisy place, full of contemplation over what many were telling me, all of them people I did not know, all of them affected by my trial in amazing ways, all of them telling me basically the same thing: They clearly, so clearly, saw Jesus in me. Overjoyed -that was me. And here I was, waiting for 25 minutes to hear back if I would be staying at the hospital, and to hear back if I had cancer, and to hear if I was going to live or go Home. I was excited by both prospects. I was not afraid.

The specialist practically burst through the doors and she was smiling. "I have good news..." She began, crossing the room quickly. All eyes turned to me and the room went silent. It crossed my mind: She is not pulling us into a room, she is grinning ear to ear. "You do not have Leukemia!" I breathed and my vision went blurry very quickly. All around I heard words of delight and happiness, clapping; happiness. Mom put her hand to her heart and breathed relief. Dad put his hand around my shoulders and I heard the elderly lady a few seats down say with her daughter, "Praise God, praise God." Thank you Jesus, I told Him quietly. I listened on to my specialist as she told the results of the first test. "You are responding to the steroids, that's good. You're still in critical condition because if you stop taking the Prednisone, you'll drop back down. Don't stop taking it! But I want you to know you are out of life-threatening..." "Praise God!" The daughter said enthusiastically. I smiled, yes. "You are also not anemic, and your white and red blood cells are good. You will be able to go home today. And your count has risen to 34,000." I thanked God. "You still must be very, very careful. Do you work between now and then?" I nodded. "Where?" I told her. "Ask your coworkers to handle the sharp objects, okay? It is incredibly important." I nodded, smiled, "Okay."  "And I will see you on Thursday, okay?" I nodded and held my book. "I want you to buy antacids so that you don't develop bleeding ulcers from the other meds, okay? That would be very bad at this point. Double the amount and keep on top of it. See you Thursday morning." I felt like my fingers were shaking, but when I checked them with a glance, they didn't seem to be. I grateful. My parents and I went out for lunch and hot coco to celebrate.

Later. As mom talked to her friends, told the events of the day, I was lightly touched on the shoulders every now and again, sometimes being pulled into gentle hugs by those around me and people passing through, some I recognized, some I didn't. "You are so strong." "Look at her smile! It's been there the whole time!" "Has it really?" "She's at complete peace, I don't know how." "She is such a light!" "What an encouragement to others!" "And I thought my trials were tough...look at her! Look at those bruises, how's she do it?"  I pondered on this all, amazed. I had done only one thing: I had given my situation up to the Lord and rested in His hands, knowing that wherever He would take me in this, He was in control. I trusted Him, that's all I did. And this was the result? awed.

Sat at the pharmacy while the prescription was filled. One of my best-friends (one of the three I'd remained in contact with throughout the day with updating) swung by to see how I was and that was encouraging. I thanked him for being diligent to pray for me. It was good to see the smile of a good friend.

Slept on the way home, wiped thoroughly out by the adventure of the day. Got on my computer for a little and posted a song on my page that I thought best described my day: "My Redeemer is Faithful and True," by Steven Curtis Chapman. I chatted with my friends for a while, eating liver and onions and joking about it to them via chat. "Mmm, yummy...." I told them. "Eww, that's nasty!" "Gross!" They exclaimed. I laughed and told them I devoured it (which I did; thankfully, I like liver and onions, broccoli, and spinach. Good iron-rich foods. I have liked them since I was young. I know, I was an odd one, eh?) :P Dad said when we bought "the stuff" that, "I can't find the use of a Tragger recipe for liver; apparently, they didn't want to ruin a perfectly good barbeque with that junk." lol.

Made an out of state call to my daddy to update him. Hearing his voice was the cherry on top of my ice cream, so to speak. It was very nice and he was relieved at the good news. He promised to send up some of his music to soothe me *smiles, can't wait.* I recall him playing his guitar from my childhood to adulthood, and it is beautifully done how he makes that guitar sing. One of these days, I will ask him to please record a special cd with the song Valseana on it (Mmmmm). 
Dozed off while chatting with my pals, listening to my favorite Christian worship songs. Was woken up by my mom for bed. Told my friends good night and thanked them for praying, then saw how many more were praying for me and their comments. It was awe-inspiring for me, seeing how God was working through my life. Cried, prayed, promptly feel asleep.

Woke up this morning at 5 am, watched the sunrise touch the mountains and tree tops. I felt like I was seeing the world with a brand new set of eyes and it was beautiful. Cupped my hands and buried my face in them. My experience of yesterday flooded my mind and I had a thought I've never had before: I am alive, praise God. I broke into silent tears and cried, praying that God would never let me forget this experience in my life, pondering all He did in and was doing in and through me, and thanking Him for everything.

Remembered all my new things I needed to have in my routine (-sometimes needing to backtrack, lol) as I got ready for a day of resting and reclining. Bundling up against the frosty cold air, I completed my morning chores, then played a bit of frizzbee with the puppy; watching her antics to catch it as her ears flopped about, bounding here and there across the field. Laughed heartily as she lunged prematurely for the unthrown frizzbee. It was grand. I gave her head a good tussling and then went off to check off my grocery list.

Met up with one of the ladies at the coffee counter (hey, a mocha sounded reeaally good!) and she told me quite meaningfully that I was a blessing in her life. I stood there, just as stunned as yesterday when all those people touched my shoulder, hugged me, smiled at me, telling me all those amazing... (wow, I can’t fathom it). Joani continued on, telling me how often I'd been in her prayers, especially Monday morning (which I had never informed her was my cancer center appointment)! I was amazed, breathing out, "Wow..." She asked what and I told her about yesterday. She reached over the counter, scooting my mocha out of the way, and gave me a gentle squeezed hug, "You are such an inspiration! Oh just look at how beautiful you are! Look what God's doing in you! What a blessing! What a blessing!" I breathed, clasping a pretty good grip on her shirt, "I didn't do anything...I didn't do anything. He did it all." She patted my back, "Oh yes, yes He did. But," She pulled out of the hug and grasped my shoulders, making firm eye-contact, "You were willing." My eyes watered up, I swallowed. "You were willing to obey Him regardless of the outcome; you are victorious. People see you, you are NOT invisible: You are a light, you are His light to the lost. You inspire me, you are an inspiration to us all." She gave me a second gentle hug, "In our weakness, He has made us strong. Here you are, a living example of that truth." I opened my mouth but I couldn't find words to say. Speechless. "I love you and we are all praying for you," she encouraged, gently resting her hand over mine. "Thank you," I whispered. I went on to do my shopping, but my mind wasn't on my shopping list. I had to back track a lot, and I usually tend to be a straight go-for-the-item-and-go person. My mind was too busy pondering on all that had happened within the last few days.

I am awestruck. Look at all that God has done. Isn't it amazing?? How unfathomable! How incredible! How awesome! How amazing! And how great! Praise be to God, always and forever. I have done nothing and He has done miraculous things in my life. How can I fathom it? All I know is that my life is in His hands, the best place in all the world for me to be.

God is good (ref. Psalm 136). Selah (think about, ponder on this amazing fact).

(Footnote: I do not know yet what the underlying cause is for my condition. If it is permanent or temporary, I don't know that either. I do not know much, I am learning. It looks like I have had I.T.P. for over a decade and within the past two weeks, it rapidly declined to where I stood on death's doorstep unknowingly oblivious. There are speculations as to the underlying cause, but I do not wish to say speculated ideas, only facts, this way there are no misunderstandings. More testing is being done in the labs and I will discover more on Thursday. Your prayers are appreciated. Thank you.) :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trials = Joy

~ James 1:2 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
~ Romans 5:3-5 – “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Hello all. It has been a while since the last time I wrote. There has been much going on in my life. Most of it, I know, is in the form of lessons. One lesson in particular: Perspective. Counting trials as joy.
I know, I know. I have given conversations about this topic. I know this command well, yet I still struggle with it time and time again. Why? I am forgetful. It is as a Christian broadcast said: “We often remember the miracles and answered prayers in the Scriptures, but we often forget the working of God in our lives.” What a statement that is!
I was met with an interesting day this past week. Everything that could go wrong electronically at work went wrong. Every task I must do needs to be done at a certain time so the consumer gets their product on time. The fryers cooled down on their own and turned off when I put my back to them to wrap up some products. I turned them back on and watched them heat up, then dropped in my noon-day meal, only to have the fryers turn off and cool down. I struggled with my frustration level and reminding myself that each day will have its challenges. Each day, I will be met with a struggle of some sort. Yet it is my choice to my attitude. I can say: “Oh great! My whole day is ruined! What a disaster! I’ll never complete my tasks this way! Ughhh!”  Or I did say, “Ok God, today one of those days with lots of shadows. It is another day to live for You nonetheless. Help me to make right choices in regards to my attitude. Please be a light through me in this situation. I want to be frustrated and toss my hands in the air and…and just be so angry! But I would rather glorify You.” It is good to have emotions. God made them…but the emotions that do not reflect His character are the ones I know I should most avoid. They do not honor Him.
I helped a gentleman with his lunch and he told me he would like a coffee to go with it. He was tired and it had been a long day. I turned to make him a nice hot latte. Wouldn’t you know it – the milk steamer sprayed my hand (ouch!) then stopped providing steam to heat the milk. I sighed, “Just a moment, this is giving me a bit of trouble today.” He smiled and told me it looked like I was having a rough day. I told him I was indeed having quite a turbulent day, and a hard one. I wasn’t afraid to admit I was struggling. He told me flat out that I was dealing with bad karma. I got the steam wand working again and spoke to him as I worked. “Sir, in all respect, I don’t believe in karma: it is works oriented. To have good karma, I would have to work hard to gain it, when I know that I make mistakes. It is a stressful way to live, trying to consistently be perfect. Can you imagine the strain of trying to be perfect every day?” I paused. Being perfect is impossible. He said. “Sir, I believe in God. I am a Christian. I admit: I am frustrated, but do you know what? I know that I am to count this very upsetting moment in my life as joy itself. And I will.” Trials as joy? He asked me. “Yes. I know that I am imperfect and when I encounter trials, I view them as a tool that God will use to cause me to grow in knowledge and understanding. You see, this is a small trial and when the larger trials of life come, I will be strong and wise to handle them in the manner that they should be handled.” He just gave me this look and opened his mouth, but said nothing. He paid for his order and then shook his head with this smile. I won’t forget his words: “That is amazing. I never thought of it that way. You should know: You are a light.” The words took me by such surprise. I hadn’t considered that in my frustrated, unhappy day, that I would see joy in the trial. God had shone through me and in my tough day, He’d planted a seed in this man’s heart using me. What other can I say as I reflect on this day than wow. Do you want to know something? That changed my entire day. Did my day get easier all of the sudden? Or did my equipment begin working properly? No, it got rougher as the lunch rush-hour came around. But! I saw the perspective I needed to have. This trial, if for nothing else than to have that conversation with that gentleman, was so very worth it. This trial was my joy because in that five minute interaction, God worked through me. I am amazed, I am praying for that guest as well as for more situations like this one.
(…and for those who question: My coworkers came around me as a support frame, encouraging me along in my tasks and helping me whenever they could. I completed my tasks by the end of my shift. A sweet relief, I am grateful.)
For all those who are having a rough day, I hope this little ray of sunshine from my life brightens yours. Until next time, God bless.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Butterfly Experiences

As of lately, I've found myself looking for butterflies as much as I look for rainbows, and when I find them, I get all excited. Do you? I am rather fascinated by the little creatures. Perhaps its that I've had so many cocoon experiences this year, that I just find myself drawn in that way. While window shopping in town, I discovered these little mason jars with butterflies flapping about inside. They were incredibly beautiful. Entranced, I moved up closer, then picked it up off the shelf. I discovered that they were toys on little fish wires that made them to dance about the inside of the jar as though they were real, even moving at the flick of a fingernail against the glass.

I found myself suddenly removed from all the noises around me. I was thinking about a good friend of mine who has been struggling with trials. I thought about the butterfly, remembering watching the Truth Project and how Dell Tacket taught on the struggle within the cocoon. I bought two of those toys, one for her, one for me. My favorite butterfly is a monarch, so I chose those out from the four varieties. I felt rather impish, knowing that I'd be giving my dear friend one of these and yet, keeping it a secret for three days. I didn't just want to give a butterfly toy, but something substantial. Something thick with meaning.

I searched the web late into the night, not resting until I had what I wanted. Unknowingly, I was about to find out something rather amazing as well.  (Isn't that always how it works out?)
Did you know that the most critical stage in the butterfly's life is the caterpillar stage? No one really thinks much about the caterpillar but to say, "Oh yes, those turn into butterflies." But I didn't know there was 5 stages, called instars. It is necessary for the caterpillar to begin eating what is good for its health, and to prepare for it's future life as a butterfly. Everything it eats is necessary to help it in it's life as a butterfly. If it goes malnurished, then the butterfly will not be as healthy as it could have been. If it doesn't eat the right foods, it won't develop the right coloring that will detour it's predators. During it's short life as a caterpillar, it must eat eat eat. While that happens, it begins to form the starts of it's wings, called disks. It is not visible to the naked eye. The structure of the butterfly is forming within the caterpillar. It enters into its cocoon and the struggle begins. It is stripped down to it's bare form and the wings begin to grow and the butterfly begins to take shape. Once it is fully formed, it battles free of it's cocoon and basks its wings in the light of the sun, drying them out and getting the energy that it needs to fly. Fascinating creatures, as I've said.

I began to see something. My life is similar to that transformation story. I, like the caterpillar, began my newly-born life as a Christian, hungry for the morsels of the Word which would nourish me, and provide the energy that I need in my struggles in life. If I do not have quality time in the Word and with God, then I am malnourished and have a very hard battle when I enter my trials and times of tempting. If I had only spent time in the Word, I know I would have been so much stronger to put my trust and hope in the Lord to grow me, instead of leaning on my frail self, only to find that I crumble beneath my own weight as though from heat exhaustion. But, with the nourishment, I am given the strength to go through my trials with the right perspective and I am grown through it.

Off onto a bunny trail from my original thought to help my dear friend, I began to delve through Scripture to find verses to support my thoughts about the caterpillar journey. I found many verses that spoke on the subject of trials that I was amazed. I know, there are several verses on trials and testings and the growth of a Christian, but I hadn't really given it much thought, I guess is what I mean to say.

The verses of Scripture were so much like water to my thirsty soul that I was up past midnight (I forgot to watch the clock and time slipped away...I only know that the tinge of morning was spreading along the horizon). I want to share what I found with you....
This is how I am to respond to my trials:
Romans 12:12 – “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
James 1:2 – “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Romans 12:1-2 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” 
James 1:12 – “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

What suffering does in the Christian's life:
Romans 5:3-5 – “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Transformation: A new creation:
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Transformation: Who I was before and my transformation into a new creation:
Ephesians 2:1-10 – “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience –among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Transformation: This described me before and after Salvation:
Galatians 5:19-24 – “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Transformation: Who I am now as a new creation:
Romans 8:15-17 – “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
Ephesians 1:3-14 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
Romans 8:28-30 – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

This changed how I viewed my trials:
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”

Is it no wonder why trials are to be viewed, not only with joy, but as joy? Not only do trials transform the Christian more and more into something so much more beautiful - into the image of the Savior, but trials can be useful tools to come along side others and comfort them in their afflictions. Does this amaze you the way it amazes me? Wow. There is so much to digest here that I admit openly: I haven't barely begun to comprehend it totally. All I know and understand is that: No matter what, no matter when, or anything- Read the Word! Be immersed in it, constantly ready, meditating on what is good and true and right! Trials will come. In the Christian's life, those are the tools that God uses to grow His sheep, whom He loves. Strengthen each other, uphold each other. Trials are very good in the life of the Believer.

Now that I say this, I should explain that I know that trials are not simple and are often times very painful and humbling places. What I mean by calling trials "very good" is that they are often times the very thing that returns my focus back where it should be, and when looking through my hardships with the right perspective, I can turn and glorify God. 

Lately I've had to remind myself that my unhealing sore is a beautiful gift in disguise. I must sound as though I am crazy, but I'm not. It has caused me to know what pain on a day to day basis feels like. It gave me a whole new perspective on those who are hurting, who are hindered by pain of some sort in their lives. I understand and relate, to a small fraction of a point, what they are going through. Would I ever know that miniscule understanding if I didn't have that hurtful sore? It has been the thorn that is good for me. Yes, a blessing in disguise in my life. 

I am determined that through it, I will bring God glory. It too can be a big trial at times. I've seen doctors and foot specialists about the dime-sized sore on my foot pad. I've had surgery to have it scraped out, examined to find out what it is, and to destroy it. That attempt failed. I've froze it and scooped it and rubbed it raw and picked...anything to desperately remove it, but the pain is always dagger hot. Last year, I saw a foot doctor and was outfitted with a specially cast pair of inserts for my shoes. I discovered a small measurement of what it feels like to have overwhelming joy even through my pain. Aided by the new tools, I could walk without a limp, walk without fire....I'll never forget when I got home that day they arrived and were fitted to my feet. I was told to take it easy....well, I'd spent six years under the pain of that sore, and when I was able to move without pain, I looked at my front yard and.....I ran. I ran! For the first time in years, I was running without flames knawing at my flesh, so it seemed. It was an indescribable moment in my life where I knew I wasn't healed of my trouble, but yet, in that field, running and leaping about, I was shouting praises to God. 

I do still feel a deal of pain, sometimes it makes me flush when I take a step. The doctors don't know for sure what the sore is. They said it looks like my body made it, as in some patients cases, this has happened before. I have been warned that it cannot be surgically removed or I will loose padding and with it the stability to walk. I cannot carve or burn it off - it doesn't do anything to it (its not a wart). Once a week, I must scrape off a callous that forms over it so it doesn't shoot pain up my leg. (That's when I hide myself away, saw at it, and sob.) 

I know that sore is there for a reason: It's a blessing. It is a way to understanding the pain of others that I may be ready to come alongside them and uplift them in their trial. Understanding is a beautiful gift. I don't want to complain about it, I praise God. I do pray a lot for endurance, some days it is very difficult.  When I take off my shoes, I return to limping. Sometimes I've lost balance and stumbled. Like this evening, I removed my shoes and took a step forward, only to feel a race of heat that toppled me backwards into a wall, so that I slid down against some very rough objects and bench. I sat there for a moment and covered my face with my hands. "Oh God, help me." I said. "This is a gift. This is a gift, don't let me forget." I admit it: I tried to keep my composure, but I still cried. Lesson I've learned: It is okay to break down in tears. (This is one of the best time to pray, I've found.) There in those quiet moments of hurt, I have always found His comfort. And when I most need it. He is ALWAYS there. Always and at all times, forever with me. I pray that I will never forget or take that for granted. He is so awesome.

You know what? I am not upset or afraid to carry this unhealing, painful sore my whole life. If it brings glory to God through its being there, I am very glad to bear it. Being it has been a trial that I have learned much through, I know it has been very good for me. I do not know if you will find my thoughts to be silly, but I could find no better example to show the beautiful treasure I have found. Also to encourage those who may be dealing with their own trials in life to discover the beauty hidden within the struggle.

The butterfly experiences begin with the Believer, a hungry appetite for the Word, and a great and awesome God. Be in the Word. The trials will come, they always do. Cling to the Word and you will find the nourishment you require. The trial will be the cocoon, and at the end of the struggle, you will emerge more of a reflection of the Savior. That is beautiful. 
Until next time, God bless.

(Credit for the butterfly research goes to:)