The Sheepfold

Here is a very small glimpse into my job. My job, I feel like I can’t even call it that because I don’t feel like I’m working. I’m just doing life with women and the bonus is that I get paid for it. I’m blessed beyond belief with this work. I have such great support from my co-workers as they walk through my learning process and I embark on this new journey. For those of you who don’t know, the Sheepfold is a ministry that houses victims of domestic violence and homelessness and their children. It is a place for women who have found themselves in a rough situation can escape and find hope, rest and a future without the ways of their past.

 So many times people ask subtle questions about work, knowing I can’t divulge private and personal information about my clients. The following is a description of my reaction and my emotions.

 Each day at the sheepfold is new. Although the ministry is a well-oiled machine and runs exquisitely well, there is only so much preparation you can do for the millions of issues that can arise at a shelter.

 Some days are simple and sweet. Women and their children happily going about their days. Accomplishing tasks. Pausing for the meals I prepare, for Bible study and for conversation. The women seem to want to talk without end. A community is built out of conversation. We are able to sit and talk and laugh. God blesses those conversations. I do not have the wisdom it takes to love and care for these women as they need to be, that has to come from above. The sweet little children, who have often gone through so much in their short little lives, seem to always find a place to sit in my lap. I can’t count the times my lap was loaded with six or more children snuggling into my arms and asking questions all at once. In fact I can’t think of a time when I sat down in a common room and children DIDN’T climb into my lap. They have the cutest stories to tell me and always want to play and be read to. Their innocent hearts warm mine. I know they are precious to Jesus, these little lambs I go about my day cleaning, writing, preparing meals that I pray don’t burn or taste like 4 year old prepared them. I often stop, waiting to hear the voice of the Lord on these days. These are days things get done seamlessly. That when I lay my head on my pillow at night I praise the God who created that day for blessing it so abundantly. These times, the simple times, the meal times, and chatting times, and venting times, these are times I hold close to my heart. Most of these precious moments to me have never been shared with another.

 Then there are hard days. Moments that challenge everything I know. Moments of vulnerability when women tell me their stories and I can’t believe they’ve gone through so much hardship. It wrecks me. These are days where big and small issues come up. Where I feel unheard, alone and sometimes disrespected. Moments, that even if the days are good, I feel so weak. Where I feel like a joke. Those are the days I pour my heart out to God and plead with Him for strength! Where I question why He has ME leading at all. These are days I feel like I have so much to do, and so little time. These are days that when I lay in bed at night my head is spinning and I cycle through all my frustration and inefficiencies. These are the days that remind me I’m broken, and on these days, I break again.

 I love my job. I have never felt so fulfilled in my life. I have never felt like everything was exactly how it needed to be, until I took this job. I sometimes think I can’t bear the burden, and I’m reminded that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Even as I write about it I am both filled with so much joy and sadness. Joy that I get to be a part of something bigger, sad that this tragedy exists at all. God is every part of this ministry. He is working through the leadership, staff and in the lives of our residents. And what I love more than the actual tasks of my job are the women and their children. Serving and loving them fills me in a way nothing in life ever has. I’ve been questioned before if God has truly called me to this. I know by the amount of love and compassion I have for these women, even when I’m away from them.

 I’m far from perfect. I can’t even say I’m doing a good job. All I know is that God has me where He wants me and through me He will use me and because of Him others will be blessed. I will be blessed.

To those of you who support and pray for the Sheepfold, I am honored to be on the receiving end of your gifts. I can tell you they bless these women and their kids in very tangible ways. They bless me too. Keep doing what your doing.

 

Things are going good

they really are. I have been truly blessed with such a full life! I have this fantastic job, doing what I absolutely love, and I no longer have to worry about money. I have a big beautiful apartment, with two Jesus seeking women as roommates, who love on me without ceasing and in every waking breathe encourage and council me. I have the best of friends in the whole world who would bend over backwards to be by my side and have proved their love for me whilst I went through the darkest of seasons. I live in a city that, although I never thought this, I adore. I am within walking distance of seriously the best ice cream on the planet and gluten-free cookies, that although you’ll regret later, will make you momentarily think you’re in heaven. I am slowly starting to become part of a community and that excites me. I have a family that loves me and enjoys my presence, and even more so I enjoy there’s. I can run for the first time in two years, and what do yah know I’m still good at it. I put healthy, delicious food in my belly daily. I get to go on trips all over this big blue planet of ours. I have the privilege of having long conversations, often about my maker. I have people helping me along the journey to completely restored health. What a beautiful glorious life I live! I try to breathe it all in, enjoy every moment of it, never miss or forget any of it. I couldn’t ask for more and I don’t deserve it.

And even still my identity can’t be found in that.

even still.

You see I could sit here and tell you how wonderful my life is, how much I love what it’s filled with, but then I would look at it and only see myself and be entirely overwhelmed with loneliness. It’s not for me. I was made for His glory. Yes He blesses me with gifts one could never describe. But i still often look to myself, instead of Him, to see how I can improve it. No matter how /perfect/ it is I always want more.

more time. more friends. more money. more laughs. more work. more food. more affirmation. more selfishness. more.

The moment I take my eyes off the cross (yes the moment, it only takes a moment) I am overwhelmed by how much more I think I deserve or need and that’s when I slip. I slip into wishing for the past, for hoping too much for the future, and slip deeply into thinking I can never do any better and never bring any glory (even if the glory is truthfully meant to please myself)

Today a dear friend reminded me of the truth. The truth is surrender. I must be quick to surrender my eyes, my heart and my life back to the cross.

And this is a lesson I will relearn on auto repeat so that my heart yearns for repentance the moment my eyes leave the cross. Until I reach the heavenly gates it will be so.

My cup truly runneth over. I can not think of a single need that the Lord hasn’t provided for me. I would actually consider myself spoiled.

My heart breaks for this. For my own lack of understanding of how God placed me here, gave me a call and will provide and take care of me in that call. For others lacking in this same understanding and watching them struggle and wrestle with not only our Father, but with the world and with all the temptations of sin. It will not cease until we are made complete at the gates of Heaven.

My challenge to you today is to be satisfied in Him. He will give you rest, He will fill you, He will give you His love, He will direct your path, give you wisdom and heavenly knowledge. He will. He is never-changing, perfect in mercy and in grace and the one who cares for His children!

 

12 weeks.

In celebration of 12 weeks post surgery, I wrote a letter to 12 year old me.

Dear 12,

Your 12 going on 25 with all the assertion of women many years your senior. I know life seems tough and dramatic right now, and for right now it truly is. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s going to be an uphill battle this thing called life. I promise, although the road is rough, you will never loose joy and you will always have loved ones with you along the journey. The cherry on top? This is the best adventure you will ever go on! It is SO much fun! Buckle up tiger; we have some work to do…

Since you will never actually have the pleasure of reading this, I’m going to warn you about some of the things that are going to hurt you so bad, your going to think your going to break. I promise that you are held in the hands of a Savior who will never leave you or forsake you!

Growing up isn’t easy. Not with the cards you were handed. Your going to see some things a child shouldn’t see. I know you regret all things you’ve gone through so far, and your not even done yet. Take what you’ve been given and use it. Never let your hurt of the past stop you from loving people! You may not always be the smartest, and you may feel like your foot is permanantly glued into your mouth. But no matter all your shortcomings, as you get older you will fall in love with a God of compassion. He will give you your greatest blessing of a compassionate heart! Cherish it. Nurture it. Not everyone will get it, but your call in life is to stand up for the broken, the lost and wounded. For in their shoes you have and will continue to walk. You will get them and you will want to sit in their muck!

You’re going to work many jobs. You will never be without work, so never fret about that. And for some reason, your going to fall in love with almost every job you have. You like working, so it makes sense for the most part. Try not to let the daily grind get in the way of seeing what God has called you to. It’s a simple thing, and if you miss it, you’re going to stretch yourself too thin!

Boys. I know you think that your dream man, Mr. Right, is going to come waltzing up a few days before your 18th birthday and make all sorts of promises to you that he will miraculously keep, and then the two of you will wed and you’ll be free to make your own family. Young girl, appreciate all the moments you have to be single. They are a blessed time to figure out who you are and what exactly you want. More importantly they are a time to figure out what God wants for you, and to learn His character. And you’re going to have your heart broken. I’m sorry to say it. I know some women have stories of finding ‘the one’ on the first try, but it’s going to take a few, rather humorous attempts, before you learn to rest in Jesus and wait on His timing, and then who knows!

The most important thing I want to talk to you about, the thing that’s most on my heart, is that when you are 22 your going to get sick. It’s a big deal, so there’s no need to pretend that it’s not. Although you will pretend, and even lie, up until the very end. There’s nothing to prevent this. It’s going to be the most painful, terrifying part of your journey, at least as far I know. The bathroom floor will become your dear your friend. Food will be your enemy. You’re going to feel like your loosing it all. You’re body, your friends, your life, your joy, your hope, your money, and your control. And you’re going to loose most of those things. You will be stuck in darkness for over a year before you see the light. You’re going to cling Jesus’ cloak and beg him over mouthfuls of painkillers and long nights with no sleep, for Him to pass the cup. To release you. He will. And when He does, your going to be so thankful for it. I can’t think of a thing in this world that’s harder than being sick, at least not for you. I also can’t think of a thing more wonderful than it. Always remember that your identity isn’t in whether or not your healthy, whether you make sense to people, whether or not you can even get out of bed, whether or not people judge, or whether or not you can help others. It’s in, and only in, the fact that Christ knew you’d suffer, and that suffering would produce sin, and for that and so much more He got up on the cross and shed His blood. And when you feel like your going to break, call someone. Stop pretending your not suffering. There will always be someone who answers the phone when you call crying. They are such beautiful people, the ones that stand beside you when you’re sick. Thank them when you can for all they do!

You might think mom’s crazy and that your sisters are annoying and won’t give you time to yourself. You probably won’t believe me when I say they’ll become your best friends. I know you think you are so fat, and not nearly as pretty as the other girls. Someday that won’t matter, you’ll think your body is perfect because you will fight for your life with it and you will succeed. I know you don’t know Jesus yet, when you meet Him, your going to fall in love! You’ll hit the pavement with your faith and you’ll never look back.

These are simple things in life, but they make who you are. It might not look like how you expected it too, but that’s only because it’s so much better than you could have ever imagined!

Love 23

here is the Church and here is the steeple

Church with a capital ‘C’

 That’s right the church of the USA. Grand old America and our American traditions. In a country that is full immediate sanctification and churches filled with the prosperity gospel and false preaching, where does one find a home amongst a fellowship of believers? After much church hopping all over the west coast (from Seattle to Baja to be exact), I have come to some simple conclusions that have become my ruler for judging a church I wish to attend. I am very thankful to have found a church home at Southlands Church in Brea. I do understand that every church has its faults, and that if a church truly has a heart for Jesus, they will help teach the Gospel and reach the unsaved. However I am a very picky girl and I work hard and taxing jobs that require me to be filled. I do have a healthy expectation on my church family to do that filling. God has placed that in my life for that purpose. Community is a biblical call, not an option. The church’s purpose is clearly laid out in the Gospel and Epistles.

 Recently I have attended a couple different churches and this is the list I have come up with. This is how I look at a church to decide if I want to attend. I think everyone has different needs and wants and I am not saying this to push my views on the reader. That being said, I don’t want to be preached about my views on preaching (pun fully planned and intended). I have studied the Bible, I have studied churches and I have searched my heart. Here are the six things I look for:

 

  1. Overdone production and décor- why in the world does a church need leather chairs?? Or why is the video I’m watching on volunteering for VBS feel like I’m watching American Idol?? I understand being contemporary and current, but those things cost a church a lot of money. When you consider what a church can do with that money it makes me sick to think that a church has automated blinds! I don’t always like using this, but there are literally children starving in Africa. I also understand that Church is a production, but a production is not a church. There is a big difference between those two things. That means worship doesn’t need to be a concert, but and expression of love. It means that the building and grounds should be neat, clean and stylish, but that you don’t need to splurge as a church to for extravagant décor. When I see that my question is always why? I have never once heard a salvation story of someone walking into a church and being blown away by the production of it that they had to be part of the faith. Mostly because it’s a heart issue and people want love not decorations.
  2. Pressuring and over promotion of tithing- Tithing is an act of worship. No one needs a preacher to stand at a pulpit and tell him or her they are less of a believer if they don’t put all their money in the basket, because they are NOT! Tithing does not redeem us of our sins, it does not insure Gods blessing’s on us, it does not grow us in our walk (at least not directly) it is simply an act of worship.  Again there becomes the question of why? Why do churches and its pastoral staff and leadership lack faith and understanding that God provides? Why does a pastor feel the need to pressure the congregation that the Lord blessed him with to do anything, let alone give money? Why can’t he just teach? There are many ministries out there that don’t ever ask for money and God abundantly provides. Just sayinggggg…
  3. Friendliness- If I can go to a church for two months, sit next to the pastor’s wife, approach people about community, and still never have made a single connection, something is wrong. No matter what the size of the church, members, leaders, volunteers, staff and attendees should be loving and interested in their guests. No matter what your personality everyone plays a role in making people feel welcomed. Loving all people starts with the people that walk into the door of the church!
  4. Yelling- I will never understand why pastors yell at their congregations during every sermon. I’m an adult. I don’t appreciate feeling belittled while you read a passage out of Philippians. It makes me feel like my emotions are being provoked for no reason. Why can’t you just talk to me? I’m already here to listen. I understand that raising your voice in the passion of a sermon when the Holy Spirit really moves, other than that DON’T YELL AT ME! Sheesh I don’t need to go home wet from your spit!
  5. Being on a Mission- the purpose of the Church is to teach and send. John spoke of that in his letters to the churches many times. Teach the congregation and send them. If I’ve gone to a church of any size for more than six months and I haven’t heard once about any outreach both to their city and globally, I question what the church is doing. This might mean I need to follow up with the pastor, but it is a tell tale sign of bad fruit when I church isn’t following biblical principles and purposes. We as Christ followers should be invested in the least of these, the needy, and the unsaved. As a church that should be the pull of the congregation. My question becomes where is Jesus in this if we aren’t reaching out to love people?
  6. THE GOSPEL- this is the most important one. The trump card to the rest and in my experience the reason why churches are lacking in the other five categories…it’s a lack of teaching and understanding of the Gospel. Its about Christ’s death on the cross all the time, we don’t need to add anything to salvation. I don’t need a topical study, I don’t need a to learn the many ways God works, I just need the Gospel all the time. It is the foundation of our faith and should be the foundation of the church. All things are covered in the Gospel and all things point back to it. Sure, go ahead, talk about Leviticus, but also in that same sermon tell me about the Gospel. It just shouldn’t be lacking is what I’m saying. It should be there.

 I know there are churches that turn off many people for many other reasons, but this is my list. I pray often for the Church and for God to continue to move through the ones that I see being so broken. People are coming to know Jesus as their personal savior all the time because of the church! Praise God for that!

 Now carry on, go spread the Gospel and go Love!

anxious for nothing

stare at the wall. stare at my hands. stare off. pull at my hair. i can read? i dont wanna read. i just watched a long movie. no more tv. how many hours till my next thing again? okay 3. okay read. no read. ill just stare. cat in my face. i wish i was home. i wish i had my car. no no no im not suuupppooossseed to do anything. stare. i have no reason to be bored. what is wrong with me? i can think of seven laying activities. stare. i could call someone. stare. take a shower? stare. *grabs book and starts reading* ive been defeated!

Something is seriously wrong with me that I can’t stay still. That my mind never ceases it’s racing. My body never wants to stop moving.

There are two things in this world that make me anxious: One when I am out of control of circumstances that I should or have been in control of. Two when I feel I am wasting time.

God has really broken me of my control issues. He broke me hard and He broke me good. Now onto the other subject I believe in my deceitful heart that spending hours upon hours laying around, waiting to heal when I feel better than I have in a year, just feels absolutely and ridiculously pointless.

It’s the little things in life that always teach me. I know for a fact that medically, financially, morally, realistically, there is nothing I’m supposed to do but lay here and heal even if it bores me to tears. The last thing I could possibly handle is relapsing and falling back into that pit of pain I just fought myself out of, but for heaven sakes all I want to do is some work!

I have had a few days of internal battling. I’ve been pretty busy all things considered, with visitors and such. But still the cauldron within me brews.

Studying Romans this past week I landed on 8:18-31. As I took notes I paused for reflection and let my hand flow to release my heart.

The result was this thought: “My heart is ever so anxious. I want to always go and do. I want to live out every moment to it’s fullest, even though I don’t know what that means. Why do I desire this? Why do I go to bed late only to rise early? Is it because my anxious heart is unsettled on this earth? Is it because I’m looking for a better glory? My heart cries for change! If only the change within me was enough. But I need it all. I need death on a cross to release my anxious heart.”

This doesn’t have to make sense. It was my heart spilling out with ink.

Fact of the matter is, ALL anxiousness is our hearts view and thus separation from the Gospel. The Gospel releases us, it frees our chains to be and do. I am free from my anxiety that my life has no purpose if I’m not earning a buck, exchanging words with someone o having an intelligent thought. This is the end for me. I am released to be me and sit here and stare, or read, or be bored, or whatever. For my heart will not be settled until complete redemption. Until death or tribulation I will not be free from my deceitful heart. My only way to be released of these earthly chains is to submit to my Father and allow Him to move in my imperfections. In that He will slowly unravel the coils around my soul and allow me to breathe easy. It’s that or self condemn my humanity. No thanks.

(Let no one assume I don’t think there is consequences for sin. Not what I’m saying.)

I will continue to lay here for the next 3 weeks and I will surrender myself to my Savior who wants my heart. I will heal in His presence. I can’t think of anything more productive.

“We are a work in progress our whole lives, if we were finished we’d be dead. What else would there be to do?” -Sarah Willis

softly awake

“What did you just give me?”

“A margarita, ready to get this done?”

“Yeah! let’s go have surgery!”

That’s the last thing I remember. I was talking to anesthesiologist. She was putting me under.

I didn’t celebrate turning 23. I didn’t want anything for christmas. All I wanted was to not be sick anymore. In the last few months my life has changed in such dramatic ways. For those of you who have followed my story you know I’ve gone from not taking care of this disease that was wrecking my body, to volunteering myself over for surgery. I have revamped my life and made my health and my body my biggest priority.

There was so much hanging on May 3rd. People that love me were paying for me to be relieved. I had fought a long hard battle that involved insane spiritual warfare, and well as fighting my ever deteriorating body to keep going, if only until I could have surgery. So many emotions went into the few hours prior to surgery.

I wake up. There are nurses all around me. My appendix is out? This all happened so fast I just went into surgery at 7am. Oh not they didn’t find it?! My mind was racing, I was still coming out of surgery. I kept begging them for my mom! I wanted to know if I had this disease. I needed her to come tell me what the surgeon said. I could only hear her voice. She told me I did such a good job. That she loved me. That I was all done. But mom do I have endo. The next thing she said burned into my brain and was the relief of many months of struggle: Yes you had it everywhere!

I have laid in bed healing for the last week. I will probably be doing the same for the next few weeks. For those of you who haven’t heard, the surgery was extremely successful. As I recover my emotions are all over the place.

I started with a reverence and humility for the blessing that I had just received. I was the center of a thunderstorm that produced a miracle. I know very few people who can say that. I am so blessed. SO blessed. Blessed more than I can imagine.

Then there is the pain. It’s not gone yet. I can barely walk. I’m always drugged up. I’m grumpy. I’ve lost my independence. I can’t drive. Almost every activity has to be done for me. There’s the pain inside that I will never truly be free of this disease that haunts me.

Then there is joy. There is love. There is hope.

There is JOY that this leg of my journey has come to an end. That I am soon going to be out of pain. That we raised enough money. That I am where the Lord has me.

There is LOVE from everyone around me. From my mom who fed me ice chips for 10 hours and held me as I fainted in the bathroom after walking the first time. Love from my cousin who put up with me all week although he barely knew me. Love from all the people in my life who have stepped up to care for my body and soul. Love from strangers who don’t even know what they’ve meant to me.

There’s HOPE that I woke up on the other side. Hope that it is finished.

But this is the cry of the broken: “Lord restore me!”

My cry hasn’t changed. I still have redemption ahead of me. I still have recovery. I’m still broken. I will always be broken. May I never be ‘fixed’ until I have fully fixed my eyes on Jesus. May I always need my redemption to pull me to the cross.

There is never an end to this road. I will sing praise!

Reckon with Me!

My humanity, my personal story, who I am and what I struggle with, is now on display for the world to see. I went from being prideful quiet in my fight with my disease to allowing everyone who loves me to yell it from the rooftops. I let them splash it all over social media. I am now on display for the entire world to see and the thing they want to see has been my biggest secret for the past year. Humble doesn’t even begin to describe what that does to me.

 

I have a story to tell. Everyone now knows that story. I don’t want to tell my story anymore. Instead I want to tell you the heart behind the girl who fights her invisible disease. My heart is my last secret. I’m going to give it to you.

When I started my trial I was so confused. I had no idea why this was happening. I wanted the end to come. Just get through this day. An answer to these questions. And once I know that I’ll be at the end and free of my affliction. The end never came. It won’t ever come.

 

Grappling with the fact that this is the rest of my life, is a struggle that daily ours over my breaking soul. I’ve lost so much. My heart is so broken. My body also broken. I’m hurting. Always hurting. I constantly have tears pressing on the rims of my eyes and a knot in my throat. Why God? What the hell are you doing to me? How dare you afflict your good and faithful servant! I’m not Job! Stop robbing me of my life. Please God relent. When I’m in my deepest amounts of pain I curl up in a ball on my bathroom floor and whimper for the Lord to release me. Still I lay in pain.

 

I’ve lost many things. First and most obviously my body, but also my confidence, being able to eat when I want, my ability to do certain things, reign over my emotions, some of my closest friends, my job, my finances are a mess, my relationships have completely changed, and again I’ve lost the thing I valued the least; my body.

I am unworthy of the blessing of this trial.

 

For although God allowed all those things to be taken away from me, He blessed me far beyond those things. My relationship with Him has become a rich romance of His glory and mercy over me. He never ceases to show me He loves me. I can’t tell you how many people have come into my life to show me Christ’s love in radical ways! He has blessed me with the most beautiful fellowship, giving me many women to carry me through my illness who have also struggled as well as showing me how precious my friends are and their infinite amounts of love for me. He is tender in His leading me through this. Tender in His pushing me into a place of humility. Tender in His comfort and the way He wraps me in His cloak of Grace.

 

Last night I was in so much pain, I was begging Him to take me home, after hours of struggling into the night, rest finally fell over me. When I woke my lips were voluntarily singing His praises. My love for my Savior has never been so strong. My hope has never run so deep. I have never felt so weak.

I no longer ask God why. I no longer ask how. I never ask when.
I only ask who. Who are you God? The answer is always the same: Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End, Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, Friend. Lord of Lord, King of Kings, Mighty God, Lord of everything!

And certainly He is Lord and reigns over all my afflictions

 

This little sheep is so broken, she is so bruised, she is so scared of surgery, she has been so hurt. All that I beg of you is to see the glory He deserves for giving me this disease. May I never clench my fists and curse His name!

simple.

It’s Wednesday. I’m driving all around Orange County. It’s a weird day. I can just feel it that it’s weird. I start telling people, today’s a weird day. As if my announcing it helps any. The day flows in and out. At one point I stop. What I was doing isn’t of much importance. I stop and I call a friend. Then I get a phone call and my world starts spinning. Ok call everyone I know. A few tears. And then about my day I go. This is at 3:00pm

Fast forward to 8:30 pm. I’m on the floor. I’m crying and have bee crying for some time now. The great unleashing has begun. Three years of pent up emotions, hard work, pain, hopes, dreams, failure and success are bleeding out of my eyes onto my apartment floor. This continues well into the night. Followed by another phone call. More tears. An understanding. Disbelief and then at the end; release!

That phone call was the mark of the end of a season for me. I have been dwelling in the fire and the Lord has finally let me go. It’s a strange thing to try to explain it to people, but that’s what it is. I’m done.

The phone call was from The Sheepfold. The agency I moved to Orange County to work for. They called to offer me a job. They called to offer me a career. A job as a house manager of a domestic violence shelter. Giving me the ability to feed my soul, to fulfill my call and to love these women! I don’t understand the ways of the Lord but I do know when he is moving because I can see it! And boy did he move. Of course yes, I would love the job! And off I tried to go about my day. Worst idea I’ve ever had. God wanted to shake me. He wanted me to know that I was done with the trail he had previously placed me and he wanted me to be ready to go! So he shook me like a tree and all my plastered on leaves, that looked healthy and fresh, the ones that told the world I was good and I could keep coming, all fell right into the lap of Jesus. Right where they belong.

For the following 3 days or so, I saw miracles in my life unfold. It seemed as though prayers I had been praying for SO long where being answered. This includes me finding a way to be healthy again. Yep that’s right folks, I am in less pain than I have been in a year. I feel more alive than ever!

I’m not going to disclose all that the Lord is doing, this is a very intimate time for us. I am posting this in request for prayer. Although God has answered many prayers in the last week, I still have so much to get through until I am out of this tunnel. I just saw the light for the first time last week, still have to run toward it!

What was left after the shaking and all the leaves fell where open wounds. And a new journey begins!

 

 

Fight on!

“The Lord gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.”- Spurgeon

 Rah! Rah! Rah! Fight! Fight! Fight!

And I keep going. Onward bound I fight.  What I have won’t kill me, but it also won’t make me stronger. It actually makes me weaker.

 ‘When I am weak, then I am strong.’

That verse both covers all my fears, and is the thing that I pull away from most.

 Fact of the matter is this hasn’t been easy. It took me a couple days after the hospital visit to realize how bad off I am. To know that I was on the brink of death, to know that I had pushed myself that far… To be told that if I hadn’t come in when I did that I would have left this earth in a matter of hours was shattering. At the end of my emergency room visit, the Doctors came into the room, a whole slew of them. They sat there and told me I was in critical condition. That in my sleep I could have had a stroke, and lost my eyesight, my mobility, my livelihood. That I was in such terrible health, that I have no choice but to take a step back from life as I know it and rest, or I wont be able to live it at all. To hear them tell me I most likely have a disease.  My body is fighting against itself and I need to drop everything in my life and start fighting with it!

 I can deeply relate to Norman Cousin in Anatomy of illness:

“There was first the feeling of helplessness –a serious disease in itself. There was the subconscious fear of never being able to function normally again—it produced a wall of separation between us and the world of open movement, open sounds, open expectations. There was a reluctance to be thought a complainer. There was a desire no to add to the already great burden of apprehension felt by one’s family; this added to the isolation. There was the conflict between the terror of loneliness and the desire to be left alone. There was the lack of self-esteem, the subconscious feeling perhaps that our illness was a manifestation of our inadequacy. There was the fear that decisions were being made behind our backs, that not everything was made known that we wanted to know, yet dread knowing. There was the resentment of strangers who came to us with needles and vials—some of which put magical substances in our veins, and others of which took more of our blood than we thought we could afford to lose. There was the distress of being wheeled through white corridors to laboratories for all sorts of strange encounters with compact machines and blinking lights and whirling discs. And there was the utter void created by the longing—ineradicable, unremitting, pervasive—for warmth of human contact. A warm smile and an outstretched hand were valued even above offerings of modern science, but the latter were far more accessible than the former.

 The diagnosis was endometriosis. Because I was so worried about my health in this temporary situation, this pre-diagnosis just went right over my head.

For those who don’t know what this disease is, that’s normal. There really isn’t that much medically that can be done for endo girls.  The only diagnosis is surgery, so it will be years before I know for sure. There’s no cure, no real treatment, most patients have multiple surgeries, and almost all have fertility problems. The problems of women who have this condition make a list a mile long. And again, no cure, hysterectomy is usually the end all for women in my shoes.

There is still so much I don’t know about this disease. I don’t know what’s next.

 I know, no one probably expected this out of me, but here it is: this seems impossible!

 My body is in pain. Constantly. I would gladly die and go to heaven rather than experience this pain any longer. Pain is a terror. It fogs the senses. It lies to you. It tells you everyone around you doesn’t care, that there is no hope, that you will always remain a devastating version of yourself. It makes you fear. Fear casts out love just as love casts out fear. You are left desolate and to your own devices. And no one, no matter what they have gone though, no matter their current or prior circumstances, no one understands what I’m going through! That doesn’t change the fact that I have to release my control of what others see in me and allow them room to have compassion on me.

 I have now chosen the fight. To dive in.  A fire has been stirred in me. In all of this darkness, I had forgotten the call. I have forgotten how lowly I am. Through brokenness and humility I reach out in hopes to show you how everything is gift. Praise God that I have been blessed with a disease that destroys my body and forces me to remember that I am just made of dirt. I am in love with a God who has control. Who heals. Praise God that I am forced to be dependant. I am forced to call upon those around me to be compassionate on me. Praise God that I am a proof of grace and that our days are numbered. Life is so fragile. Praise God for the loneliness and depression that accompanies chronic pain. For it forces me to be grateful and seek out every bit of happiness. It forces me to want to love others in a way that produces joy and happiness, that there that I lack of. Praise God that I’m still standing, that my body, the temple wasn’t broken down! I am writing this as proof of a majestic God who will have His glory shown. All power of the earth belongs to Him, praise God!

 My fight is not of life and death, not of health and sickness, not of worthiness and acceptance of others, not love and hate, not of loneliness, not fear, not body, not soul, not energy, not of my future, my fight is the Gospel. For God sent His only son, to die for our sins, not that we could be without pain, not that the world would be fair, but so that we can have eternal life in His presence! May every hardship remind us of the hardship we will never endure for our salvation from damnation.

 I have been justified, I have been redeemed, I have hope, I have salvation, and blood on a tree did that for ME! And on the other side of this painful life, is a new body, is freedom from affliction, is home.

 I will sing praise, I will sing praise, no weapon formed against me shall remain.

 I in my own strength am nothing; I praise, worship and live for a God of ultimate strength. May he guide my every step and remind me of His glory daily.

 I have endo, endo doesn’t have me.

“One word
Frees us of all the weight and pain of life:
That word is love.”- Sophocles

For so long I have waited for the time when I could write this. I never wanted to write about this without giving everyone the facts. I also didn’t want to write about this until it was over. Through much prayer, I have decided it is better for anyone who has ever experienced anything like, what I am going through to walk though the last leg of this journey with me. The story I am going to tell is really important and very personal. I ask that people respect the words I write and that the purpose of this post would be clearly seen: to glorify God and to help others.

Lets start at the beginning. Where we always should start.

On January 4th 2012 I had my first experience with what would soon become my daily pain. I was having excruciating pain in my lower abdomen. I wanted to go to the E.R. but I don’t have insurance so I waited until the next day. When I went to the doctor they told me I had a cyst in my uterus. I was a little scared, but I didn’t know the severity of the matter so I ignored it. 6 months later that pain came again, it was worse. It returned the next month. Again it was worse. Then it came the next week and once a week pain quickly turned into once a day.

I don’t know how to describe what days in pain feel like. Sometimes I can’t get out of bed. Sometimes I’m up all night crying. It is piercing shooting pain. It cripples my body. It vibrates through all of me. I often can’t keep food down, and end up purging from the pain.  Those are bad days. The days I don’t want to be alive. I question everything those days. My loved ones devotion to me. My sanity. Gods purpose. My ability to press forward. I feel totally out of control, I don’t know how to make it stop.

Then there’s other days. Those days its subtle. Its like someone is whispering a reminder to me that I am in a great deal of pain, just not right this second. Those days I survive. My joy is totally robbed. I know what I have gone through in this pain and I know whats coming next because of that dull lingering pain.

There are some days with no pain. Those are few and far between. I wish I could say those where most days. They aren’t.

When the pain started to intensify I went on birth control as was recommended. I had a very bad reaction right away. The first two weeks I experienced morning sickness. I broke out with really bad acne. I lost weight and my appetite. Once my body adapted I still had side effects. The ones that made the biggest impact where the emotional ones. It was hard enough to be in pain, then you tack on roller coaster hormones and you have a recipe for a crazy lady. They almost entirely took over all my reasoning and emotions. I was feeling, saying, doing, and thinking things that had never been a part of who I am. My feelings where easily hurt and I seemed to be constantly lashing out at someone. Usually it was those closest to me.

Although God has been with me through all of this in very vivid ways, and I will get to that, this pain made life not worth living. When I was in loads of pain, I wanted it to all end so badly. I just wanted to go meet Jesus and escape from the pain. I didn’t want to be around anyone and no amount of reasoning would help me to see things clearly. I saw the world through a veil of my pain. It is truly an awful existence and that is what lead me to the end of my rope.

God truly has been glorified through this. He has shown me what sharing in the suffering of Christ is. I understand the Gospel more richly now that I have a taste of how I DIDN’T have to suffer for my sins because it has been done. I have pressed into Him for comfort. Even on days when I feel like I have completely lost myself, I have a God who always seems to show me where Liz is.

I have lost a lot of me. Liz seems to somehow have taken on the sickness as a personality. I have gotten very used to toughing it out. I don’t complain nearly as often as there’s pain. I don’t tell others how my heart hurts. How lonely I have felt. How misunderstood. I just haven’t given the people I know that love me most an understanding at all of what I am going through. Mostly it has been out of fear. I’m a afraid at how they will react. Afraid of the truth. Just afraid.

There was one thing I was really missing in all this. In my perception of the Gospel, in my need to tough it out, in my suffering, I missed the healing. The Lord is loving and does not desire for His children to suffer. I have had the greatest struggle in giving up my fight and my control, and allowing God to heal me however that may be.

After visiting a few doctors, I have no answers. The results, at this point are inconclusive to why I am in this much pain. Instead of getting second opinions, or trying again, I want to hide from the truth and continue to just grin and bear it.

I have a few close to me that I call when a new symptom arises (it feels like every few days there’s something new and different) will tell me that this is an emergency and I need to go see a doctor right now!! Again I have ignored there words of caution, like a stubborn ox. I am walking myself in to be slaughtered. I am playing with what the Bible says is a temple of the Lord. I’ve been allowing it to potentially fall to ruins.

Over this last weekend, I’ve only gotten worse. I’m going to withhold the details of where my health is. I have enough people worried about me. It’s hard enough to talk about this. What you need to know is that God has my life in His hands and he will continue to prove it over and over again. Still, I am tacking on medical bills like its going out of style, getting sicker and sicker, and more lost than ever.

I’ve spent the majority of this evening pleading before the Lord for an answer…a reason…a purpose. I know that God has a plan, I know people around me love me and desire for me to be healthy, I know that eventually I can figure it out. That doesn’t fix today. The only thing that does is hope.

I have nothing to go on at this point but HOPE. Hope that God saves, provides, gives wisdom, healing. Hope I can hold it together through the rest of this. And when I lose hope, he proves me wrong! He has given me people, people I never would have expected to be there for me, to come alongside me and hold me up. How could I doubt it!

And yah know, I’ve learned, in all this, that I have to stop being brave. I thought I had to be brave, and not give into the pain. I wasn’t really being brave, and I was scaring everyone else around me. I can’t promise I’ll be perfect, but from now on, I’m trying!

So please join me. This could be the begining or the end, eithe