Monday, February 25, 2013

When life takes a sharp turn.

He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.
John 3:30

Hmm, where do I even begin? Five or six months ago, I remember very vividly walking down the hallway of our house back to our room, and on the way, I prayed this prayer to God, "God, I know this sounds crazy, but I'm asking you now to give me a struggle. I am constantly battling to control my life, and I believe a real hardship would bring perspective, humility, trust, grace, strength, and beauty that I have yet to know, all because I am holding on too tightly to what I want. Am I crazy for asking? Maybe I am, and I'm pretty scared to ask you this, because what if you really send me something terrible? I have to push those thoughts aside though, God, and I know it, because the only way I have ever learned anything in my life up to this point wasn't always in the good times. Life-altering events usually happen in the midst of struggles, don't they? Will you give me a struggle and grow my faith to a place I've never known? And God, whatever way the struggle comes, if you even choose to send one, I need you to know in advance that I will thank you for it." And actually, as an answer to my very own prayer, on Valentine's Day of 2013, I was diagnosed with a chronic disease known as Multiple Sclerosis.

In September and October of last year, I had a long battle with vertigo. It all started randomly as I was driving to my first day of bootcamp. I had no idea why or when it came on, or if it was just the fact that it was 5am, but then it never went away. It knocked me over occasionally, made me crazy dizzy at times, and normal at others. My eyes were jumpy and I saw double. It was truly a very scary two months of my life. But, after seeing my doctor, a chiropractor, visiting an ENT doc, getting back clear MRI results, and through some prayer and time, it just went away on it's own. I was so thankful, and done asking questions! Maybe it was just a bizarre "loose rock in my ear" thing like the ENT said after all? Or was it.

In November, I went back to the doctor for stomach pain. Weird. My stomach had never hurt me so bad before, and it wasn't like food poising pain, it was like, someone socked me in the stomach but I must have been sleeping and missed it pain. I was prescribed some Prilosec for ulcers and sent on my way. I was starting to feel like a hypochondriac really. Was I out of my mind and making a big deal about little things? I didn't think so, but I was feeling a little that way. After all, I usually went to the doctor for the flu. This was a little different.

In December, I noticed that my left eye wasn't seeing vivid color anymore and hurt pretty bad. My brightest red shirt looked only a faint pink, so I went to an ophthalmologist which turned into a neuro-ophthalmologist, and he diagnosed it as optical neurosis. He also ordered another MRI, which I considered to seem quite silly, since, didn't I just get one? But, he was convinced it wasn't the right one, because it didn't show enough contrast, so he asked me to go back again for more detailed tests.

I put off the test. I didn't want to pay for it. I mean really, I'm 26 and I'm fine! My eye was back to normal anyway.

In January, my body started showing all kind of these red rashes on my skin occasionally, and I got really ill at a moments notice and had to lay down.  I couldn't pinpoint the cause of these feelings, but they would come and go randomly. Hmm.

In February, my left leg started to it was on fire. When my body got hot, like when I would blow-dry my hair in the mornings, the burn intensified and it felt like a torch was straight-up burning my flesh right off. It was torturous, and really bizarre.

That right there, I believe was the moment that I began to really wonder, ok really. What is going on? Apparently, in my first MRI scan back in September, the radiologist missed a few things, and thought the scan was clear. After the second MRI came back with multiple white spots on my brain called lesions, they rechecked the first scan and noticed that the enhancements were there to begin with, and had grown significantly in some spots, and a few smaller new ones had formed. My doctors called me on Valentine's Day (I mean really, I'm never going to forget that ya'll) to tell me that they were sorry, but that it looked like the only real and viable option for these symtoms was very likely to be an advanced form of multiple sclerosis. Talk about a shocker. And why did they use the word advanced? It scared me to death. I am 26, healthy, working out, a mom, a God-fearing girl who loves my family, and I always thought I was normal. I didn't feel normal that day, and it took me a good 24 hours to regain any sort of normal feeling, don't worry. :)

But, when I stopped to calm down, to push past the pain of "what ifs" and "maybes" I realized that there was something so much deeper that I had been actually been given. What if God planned for me to be more than normal? What if I was to leave a comfortable life to live an even better one, one of total and complete trust in God? Because really, that's all I had.

Could it be true? The doctors referred me to a neurologist who is now testing my body galore, which don't get me wrong, I'm very thankful for. He wants to make certain that this is the correct diagnosis and all is as we think, and is currently treating me with strong steroids, that I have to admit, are intimidating to me considering I have to administer a drip to myself via IV in my own arm, and pull the dumb thing out after 3 days! I am NOT a nurse, and I do NOT do needles. But, I will learn, and God will help me. I take pills, and I pray. That's about it! I'm so thankful for the treatment, because my leg doesn't burn, my arm doesn't twitch, and the side effects don't exist for me like the doctor said (thanks to my husband's STRONG prayers), and mostly God is bigger!

God never leaves us alone. When has he ever? If you know me, you know by now that this is not a terrible season in my life, or in Jonathan's. God has always provided for our family, and now is no different. And it's not just about me either. Jonathan has been diagnosed with simple partial seizures this past month, that hit him about 10-12 times daily. I've told Jonathan on more than one occasion, we must really be making Satan mad or he wouldn't be this persistent! We face trails of many kinds, and we are thankful, because through these trails God sends us hope each day. Lately God has been whispering to me.... "Michelle, I will provide." 

On days when I need hope, God is my hope. 
On days when I need love, or understanding, or laughter, God is that to me. 
On days when I need reassurance, and a reminder of trust, God send those things to me. 
On days when I need hugs, or kind words, God is there. 
On days when I'm feeling sorry for myself, or worrying (which I choose to battle with all my strength) about the future, God is my healer and my rescuer.

He doesn't judge me. He doesn't condemn my life. He cares deeply for me, and he already knows how this story is going to end. I don't have to waste time. Yes....WASTE time, wondering how next week is going to go, or the next day, because he's already gone before me and prepared my way! I need you to know and completely understand, that I am not sad, I'm not hopeless, and I'm certainly not confused. I am CHOOSING to completely and utterly live on God's promises, and that is the only place I choose to be. God's word says:

We not have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
2 Corinthians 4:7

All of this is for your benefit. And as God's grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:15-18

Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 
Philippians 4:6

Can I get a hallelujah?

I appreciate each and every prayer for healing, even kind word, and every note, scripture, and song. I feel so very loved by so very many caring and adoring friends. Thank you for being Christ to me and to my family!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Blue Skies

Not too long ago, I lost my grandpa. Talk about a great guy and lover of Jesus, that was him. Anyway, the day before I left on my travels to Iowa to attend his funeral, I was reading my devotions, and this question was in my book to ask God, "God, how do you reveal yourself to me through your creation?"so I asked him.

Michelle, have you ever noticed the sky? It's a clear blue that goes on forever, with no corners or end points. It's like my love. It's constant, and there are no end points. It simply goes on forever. Sometimes there are cloudy days, or rainy days, or sunny days. Sometimes they are overcast, or foggy, but every single time, the sky always returns to a clear blue. So do I. Some days in life are sunny, or cloudy, or even rainy, but they'll always return again to blue, Michelle. I'll always be there among the hard days and the great ones. I never leave. Your circumstances may change, but I am constant. You know when planes fly across the sky and leave a white streak behind them? It always goes back to blue again, doesn't  it? The streak completely disappears, and if you looked again in an hour, you wouldn't be able to tell where the plane ever flew. That's like my forgiveness. Even when you sin in the midst of my vast love, I forgive you, and I erase your faults completely, just like the streak in the sky. And you're right back where you started in the first place, in the midst of my endless love.

So, as I left on my trip to Iowa the next day, to attend grandpa's funeral, I noticed the sky. It was cloudy and overcast, just overall dreary, and I remembered what God had said about the sun coming back out again. Sure enough, as I was driving back home a few days later, I noticed the most beautiful sunrise I'd ever seen. Maybe I've been blind to the beauty of the sky all of my life, or maybe it's all about perspective, but I noticed it that day, and I felt that hug come straight to earth.
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