Thursday, February 28, 2019

Living with Rare Diseases: My Story


For those who may not know my story, I have been diagnosed with six rare diseases over the past few years. I have several autoimmune diseases as well. This isn't uncommon. Once your body starts attacking itself, it doesn't seem to know when or how to stop. None of the diseases are curable but the symptoms are manageable with various medications and therapies.



My Six Rare Diseases:

Common Variable Immune Deficiency means my body does not create enough immunoglobulin, which is an antibody created in our blood. Because my body can't create these antibodies, I am extremely prone to infections and viruses.

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension is characterized by an increased pressure in the skull due to increased fluid. The cause is unknown.

Stiff Person Syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes extreme muscle stiffness and very intense, painful muscle spasms.

Gastroparesis is essentially paralysis of the gastric system, which means that the muscles do not properly contract in order to aid with the digestion of food.

Dermatomyositis is a disease that causes skin rashes and muscle weakness and atrophy.

Addison's Disease, also known as Adrenal Insufficiency, is a disease that occurs when your adrenal gland can no longer produce enough of the hormone Cortisol.



I have good days and bad days. On bad days, I have trouble simply walking. I always experience pain, to some degree, every day. These diseases interfere with my daily life activities. While the diseases have slowed me down, they have taught me to be still, to listen to God, to depend upon Him completely, to look for His blessings, and to choose joy. I trust that my Papa God is fighting my battles for me while I bask in His presence. To Him be all of the glory, honor, and praise for He alone is worthy!



#RareDiseaseDay2019
#ChallengeAccepted
#ShowingMyStripes

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Restore


Most of you know that I have been diagnosed with five rare diseases and several autoimmune diseases. I believe that God can heal me at any time. However, if He chooses to use my story to bring glory to His name, I'm alright with that as well. I know that one day, in glory, I will be fully restored. However, He revives my faith in Him daily. He renews my joy in the midst of struggles. He sustains me and grows me. Sometimes, it is all about perspective.

Chayay is the Hebrew word for restore. It means to live, to sustain life, to be restored from sickness, discouragement, weakness, and death. It also means to cause growth.


In Psalm 51:11-12, David knows he has walked away from God by sinning. He wants to change his foolish ways and live life according to God's plans for him.

John Wesley, in his commentary, indicates that David wants to be freed from the bondage of his sins and asks God to allow him to cheerfully follow God.

Matthew Henry's Commentary informs us that David prays to be changed and freed from his sins. David begs God to not disown him and asks to be under God's guidance and wisdom. David's sin made him sad and weak, which is why he asks to be restored.



I love this verse because it reminds me that even though I am suffering, God is using my trials to make me strong in Him, firm in my faith, and steadfast in my love for Him. Even though I may suffer here on Earth, it pales in comparison to a lifetime of eternal suffering.

John Wesley's Commentary intimates that what suffering is experienced is merely a small amount compared to an eternity of suffering.

Matthew Henry's Commentary indicates that God would establish them against wavering faith. God would strengthen them and settle them on a firm foundation in Christ.

God would help them persevere.


David, known as a man after God's own heart, was no stranger to trials and suffering. David made some monumental mistakes in life, including adultry and murder. David would feel guilty for his sins and become depressed because he knew that he had allowed that sin to come between his relationship with God. David longed for his relationship with God to be restored. He would humble himself, seek God's forgiveness, and reach out to his Creator for help. He knew of God's greatness and praised God for His holiness. He also trusted God to be faithful and true to His word.

John Wesley's Commentary focuses upon David's acknowledgement of God as the most eminent and worthy God. David then asks God to rescue him from the grave.

Like Wesley, Matthew Henry's Commentary points out David's praise to God for His greatness.

If your relationship with God needs restored, humble yourself, dear one, and reach out to him. You will find Him there waiting with loving arms wide open. If your marriage needs revived, if your finances need renewed, if your health needs restored, keep talking to God, spend time in His Word the Bible, rest in His loving arms, thank Him for the blessings no matter how small, choose joy, and allow His love, His light and His truth to shine through you to impact others for Him and give Him praise, glory, and honor. He will restore you. His timing and ways aren't always the same as ours. In fact, they are far better. He knows what we can't see. Through your trials, He will sustain you. Trust Him.

Prayer:
Papa God, we come to you today and acknowledge You for your
Holiness. There is none other like you! We thank You for Your amazing love for us. Please restore our relationship with You. Forgive us for our sins and allowing our mistakes, our guilt, our shame to come between our relationship with You. Draw us close and wrap us in the shelter of Your loving arms. Help us to be joyful as we embrace Your endless love for us. Be our strength when we are weak and provide comfort as we endure trials. Grant us Your wisdom and discernment as we traverse life and remind us that You are fighting our battles for us. Thank you for Your mercy and peace. Amen!


Restoration by David Brymer


Restore by Next to Nothing

Thursday, January 10, 2019

God's Reminders



Today, I had to endure one of the most unpleasant tests I've had and this was my third time having this test. As we neared the hospital, I felt myself tensing up my muscles. I knew I needed to pray and ask God to be my strength because I knew I was weak. Immediately, I felt His peace wash over me like warm ocean waves.

The nurse who performed my procedure threaded the tube through my nose, down my throat and into my esophagus to the stomach very easily and without any numbing medicine. They allow an hour for the test but she finished my test in seven and a half minutes. God's hand was definitely upon me. I have no doubt. Who else could have orchestrated things so perfectly?



As the nurse walked me to the elevator, she told me I was a very strong woman. Me? Strong? No. God, who lives in me, is the strong one. He gently nudges me when I need reminders of His faithfulness. I'm thankful for His tangible presence. He is with me always! I'm also thankful for the opportunities He has given me to give Him the glory, honor, and praise He deserves simply because of who He is.



If you feel like you are surrounded by problems you can't overcome, I encourage you to not only turn them over to God but also spend time seeking Him, growing closer to the One who loves you beyond measure!

Prayer: Father God, we ask You to help us feel Your presence in very tangible ways today. Be our strength. Help us to trust You, especially when life gets hard. Flood us with Your peace and be our refuge. We thank you for all of the blessings You bestow upon us. We also thank You for simply being who You are: the one true God. Place people in our paths so that Your light and love can shine through us and make a positive impact for You. Amen!

Lauren Daigle "You Say"

Lauren Daigle "Trust in You"



Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Advent: The Christ Candle


The final theme of Advent is light. The Hebrew word used in the Old Testament for light, 'owr, refers to light as the light of life, the light of instruction, and Jehovah as Israel's light. The Greek word used in the New Testament for light, phos, refers to a heavenly light like those that surrounded the angels, God's light, and truth and knowledge. According to Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, "Light always involves the removal of darkness," which is exactly why God sent His beloved Son to bring hope to all who believe. He let His light shine brightly!



"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.: Matthew 5:14-16

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'"John 8:12

"The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1

 "For God, who said, 'let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6



This final candle of the Advent season is known as the Christ Candle. This candle is lit on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It reflects that Jesus was born to be the light of the world. Over and over again, God watched the Israelites turn from him, get into trouble, be defeated by other armies, and cry out to God to save them. He had tried to rid the world of sin and darkness with the flood. Yet, sin and darkness still thrive in our world today. Jesus was sent to bring light to the darkness, hope to the lost, love to the unlovable. He taught His disciples God's truth so that they could let their lights shine and give hope to others.

When we light the Christ candle, we then take that light and share it with one another as we light our candles by passing the light on from one neighbor to another. The lights low in the sanctuary and all of these candles burning brightly. It is such a beautiful sight seeing the darkness dispelled by the body of believers.

We, as believers, are called to let our lights shine brightly so that others may see Christ shining in us. We are to follow and teach His truths, we are to be His hope and His love in a dark and hurting world. Let's give God a gift by allowing our lights to shine brighter than the colorful lights shining from the most decorated house in our neighborhoods.



Prayer:

Father God, thank you for Your glory that shone so brightly the day a tiny baby was born in humble circumstances. Though Jesus was the King of Kings, Your Son was found among the unlovable, the hurting, the sinners, the outcasts, the lost. Father God, help us to reach out to all of those who cross our paths with Your amazing love. May our lights shine brightly to bring You glory and honor. Amen!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Advent: Week Four


The theme for this, our fourth week of Advent, is Peace. In this crazy, chaotic, hurting, godless society we live in, we crave peace. As wars rage, politics are volatile, and hate runs rampant, we hunger for peace. In this earthly world, peace can seem elusive at times. Fear not, God has brought His indescribable, unfathomable peace to those who love Him. Peace was given when a tiny baby was born into humble circumstances. God sacrificed His One and Only Son so that we may have eternal peace, which is why Jesus is referred to as the Prince of Peace in Isaiah 9:6.



The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines peace as a state of tranquility, quietness, freedom from civil disturbance or war, freedom from oppression, a state of security, order, harmony, contentment. According to Bible Study Tools, the Old Testament word for peace is the word pes, which refers to freedom from war as well as freedom within our souls. The Hebrew word shalom refers to peace found in prosperity and good health. In the New Testament the Greek word for peace, eirene, translates similarly to shalom and was often used as a greeting. Yet, the peace God offers is much more than a mere greeting. It is a way of living in harmony with our Father God and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

"The Lord gives strength to his people: the Lord blesses his people with peace." Psalm 29:11

"The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you, the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." Numbers 6:25-26

"Finally brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you." 2 Corinthians 13:11



The fourth candle of Advent is often referred to as the Angels Candle. In Luke 2, it is the angel of the Lord who brings "good news that will cause great peace for all people" when he shares the news of the Messiah's birth with shepherds in a nearby field watching over their flocks by night. Luke 2:13-14 tells us that "Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'"

An angel also informed Mary that she would bear the Messiah and told Joseph that he would be Jesus's earthly father. Angels play an important role all throughout the story of Jesus from his birth and again at His resurrection as they reveal that the tomb was empty.



Prayer:

Father God, we ask You to quiet the chaos in our hearts and lives and help us to focus on the peace that comes from knowing You fully. Help us to focus on the true meaning of the Christmas season: the birth of Your precious Son. He is the greatest gift we've ever been given and His willingness to give His life for our eternal life is beyond amazing. Thank you for loving us so deeply, Father God. May our lives bring You glory and honor! Amen!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Advent: Week Three


The theme for the third week of Advent is Joy. I think of the old hymn chorus "I have joy unspeakable and full of glory." When we have God in our hearts, shouldn't we be filled with His indescribable joy? Let's be honest, though, sometimes it is difficult to grasp on to joy. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, joy is an emotion, a feeling of bliss, a state of happiness, a cause of delight.

Joy is a choice. One way we can choose joy is to count our blessings: no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Another way to find joy is to spend time in God's presence. When I open my heart to Him in worship and praise, He fills me with His wondrous grace. His joy is effervescent and fills me until it spills over. I can't contain it. And, I deliberately choose joy even as chaos rages around me and the storms of life threaten to overwhelm me. As the song says, "ain't nothing gonna steal my joy!"



"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." Psalm 28:7

"But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them that those who love your name may rejoice in you." Psalm 5:1

"Splendor and majesty are before him [God]; strength and joy are in his dwelling place." 1 Chronicles 15:27



The third candle of Advent is often referred to as Mary's Candle in honor of the virgin mother. This is why the third candle is rose or pink in color. Mary's trust in God is amazing! According to Jewish tradition, she could have been as young as twelve when she was betrothed to Joseph. We know she was a virgin because of Luke 1:26, 27 which state "...God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary." Furthermore, Mary asks the Angel Gabriel how she can have a child in Luke 1:34; "'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'Since I am a virgin?'"



Mary's faith and trust in God are evident in Luke 1:38; "'I am the Lord's servant,' Mary answered. 'May your word to me be fulfilled.'" Wow! A young, teenaged Mary doesn't balk at what God is asking of her. In those days, unmarried women who became pregnant could be shunned by family and friends or even stoned to death for their sins. Yet, Mary had a strong faith in God. She believed His promises to be true and knew He would never leave her nor forsake her.



The third candle of Advent is also referred to as the Shepherds Candle, which makes sense since the angels brought the shepherds news of great joy. "And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'" Luke 2:8-12 I love that the first people to hear the good news of Jesus's birth are the lowly shepherds in the fields. Kings felt threatened by this tiny baby but to others Jesus symbolized God's promises fulfilled, hope, and joy.



Prayer:

Father God, we thank You for the precious gift of Your beloved Son. We are grateful that Mary chose to believe in Your love for her and the mighty plans You had for her life. Help us to remember her complete trust in You. Father, we thank you that the good news of great joy is still true today. Help us to prepare our hearts for the birth of Your Son. When our world gets chaotic and we feel overwhelmed, help us to choose Your joy. Remind us of Your amazing blessings in our lives. Fill our cups to overflowing and let Your joy in us be contagious. For our hope is in You, God! Amen!