Faith, Lyme Disease

A New Dawn

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For the first time in a long time, I feel joy coming from within. The past few years have been some of the most difficult in my life and it has been a constant struggle to choose joy, no matter the circumstances. God has been so gracious and has given me such joy even while still in the midst of fighting this disease.

This joy is in part due to the progress God has given me in my health journey, but it is also because of the transformation within. I chose to change my blog because I have changed so much since I started over 2 years ago with Journey of Choosing Joy.

Why did I choose With The Dawn?

With the dawn…there is a new beginning. Every day we wake up with a fresh start. From the moment our eyes open, we make a choice as to how we are going to approach the day. We cannot control what the day brings but we do have control over how react.

With the dawn…give thanks to God. Every day that God grants us on this earth is a gift. Due to my illness, I have come to appreciate each day more. Even the normal, mundane parts of life are beautiful. I used to take these normal things for granted. Now I leave the grocery store with thanksgiving!

With the dawn…God is calling to us. I encourage you to seek to know God more every day. It is through daily surrender and intimate pursuit that we come to know the heart of God. Only through Jesus can you truly find life.

 

 

 

 

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Faith, Lyme Disease

Identity Crisis 9.24.14

One of the most difficult things I have faced in the midst of fighting chronic Lyme Disease, is how much it has changed me. Now, physically I have changed drastically, but what is most difficult is how it has affected me down to the core of who I am. I do not feel like the person I used to be. The person I remember was outgoing and loved meeting knew people. Now I am shy and find it extremely difficult to get to know people (which made it terribly hard when I barely knew anyone in both WA and CO). The person I remember was independent, but now I find myself painfully dependent on others. The person I remember loved to laugh from deep within. Now laughter does not come as naturally and I find myself forcing the appropriate chuckle when necessary. These are just a few of the changes that have occurred. It has felt like this disease has stolen so much of who I am.

This has not been a change overnight. Just like the disease has slowly ravaged my body (which I never imagined Lyme could do!), it has been a slow change within. As this changed occurred, I found myself becoming angrier and angrier at what was happening to me. It was only as of this past April that I knew what was the cause of all this. Before that, I had years of wondering and worrying about what was going on. I thought that if I knew what was going on I would not feel so hopeless and empty inside. That was not the case.

It was about the time that I received the diagnosis that I was hitting my lowest point physically. I was working full-time at a job that I thoroughly enjoyed, but was getting to the point that I physically could not do it anymore and it was exhausting hiding that fact. It was a relief to not have to wonder anymore. There was an answer and possibilities of treatment….hope!

We were thrown a curve ball and we needed to move in order to seek treatment. Andrew and I had to leave our jobs (which I was going to have to do either way) and in a matter of 5 weeks moved across the country. Those 5 weeks seem like a blur to me now, but it was exhausting both physically and emotionally. Getting to Florida was an absolute relief. I was finally able to rest and have the loving support of my family (which I always had but there is nothing like their actual presence).

After the initial relief of being home, I began to feel more and more like I had lost myself along the way. Now I not only felt like a different person, but I had absolutely nothing to do to fill my time and felt purposeless. I was not up to doing much at the beginning of treatment. So I had A LOT of time to think! This summer I hit my lowest in my identity crisis. Everything that I used to identify myself with had been stripped away. I felt like nothing was left of my old self….but I was so so wrong.

Not everything had been stripped away. The most important thing in my life can never be stripped from me. That is my relationship with my Lord and Savior. I have come to the understanding of what it truly means to find your identity in Christ. Having grown up in church, I have heard countless times that our identity is found in Christ, and if you had asked me, I would have honestly said I did. But it was not until everything, both in my circumstances and within, had been stripped away that I saw that I had not grasped this truth. I am a child of God and it is only in Christ that my identity can be found. I love Colossians 3:1-3, which says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” The most important part of me can never be stripped away!

This truth does not change the fact that this disease has changed me. In many ways, this is a gift. For one thing, if it was not for all of this, I would not have come to know what it means to truly find my identity in Christ. I find myself thanking God for Lyme Disease….crazy I know! In other ways, it is a difficult fact to swallow. I know that some of the “old me” will resurface as my body undergoes healing, but I will forever be changed. I will never be the person that I once was before this disease started to noticeably to affect my life and that is okay.

Even though most of my days are very quiet and I find myself having lots of alone time, I still have a purpose. My purpose, whether in sickness or in health, is to know and enjoy my God. When I don’t feel like the person I once was, I am able to seek the things that are above. On the days when I find it difficult to get out of bed, I am able to set my mind on things that are above. So, for as long as the Lord has me in this place, I will choose joy.

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Faith

Finding Rest 4.22.14

Rest has come to hold a new meaning in my life. What does rest mean? According to Google, it is when one ceases to work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. I have never been the person who always has to be on the go and doing something, so enjoying down time and rejuvenation had never been difficult for me. But what does it mean for a person who never receives refreshment or strength from rest? 

God is showing me what finding true rest is. I have read over and over Matthew 11:28, which says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” and Psalm 46:10a, which says, “Be still and know that I am God.” but the message of the passages around these verses have never really sunken in until more recently when I started to ask myself this question. As a believer, rest is more than this physical refreshment and rejuvenation. It is about finding our rest in our Savior. Laying down and surrendering all to Christ. Even without physical rest, there is such peace and restful spirit that comes from finding rest in the Lord.

I have a lot of time these days to just be still. Most of the time, I have spent these moments with my mind going crazy, but I am learning to quiet my mind and just be still. It is in these still, quiet moments that I am coming to know my God in new ways. There have been so many moments I have wasted with worry, anger, depression, and self-pity when they could have been restful moments with my God. I am pretty sure that God is going to give me ample opportunity to improve in my journey of going through treatment for Chronic Lyme Disease. My prayer is that I will view this time as an opportunity to know my God in a way I never have before and that, most importantly, He would be glorified through it.

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About Me, Faith, Lyme Disease

Intro into My Journey 3.21.14

I am not much of a writer and never would have dreamed that I would begin a blog, but here it goes. So, these posts will not be eloquently written or even exciting, but just me sharing a bit of my journey and what God is teaching me. My hope is that through this blog I will see more of God’s hand in this journey that I have a difficult time making sense of and that maybe someone can gain encouragement.

A little about me…I grew up in Florida and the beach is my comfort place. I am the middle of three girls, raised by two incredible parents. I am truly blessed with the family God has given me. My sisters are my best friends. I remember my mom telling me growing up, when my older sister and I were not getting along, that someday she would be one of my best friends. At that time, I could not imagine that, but my mom proved to be right (music to her ears I’m sure!).

In college, I was one of those who changed their major several times and even colleges. But I did eventually land on one major and one college. I attended Moody Bible Institute with a major in Pre-Counseling in the heart of Chicago. These were truly years I will cherish forever! It was an honor and a gift to study God’s Word in-depth for college….amazing! I developed formative friendships in my time there, who some I believe will be lifelong friends, no matter the distance.

One in particular made the most profound impact on my life, an adorable boy with long curly red hair and great dimples, who I met after only one month at Moody. He turned out to be one of my closest friends. However, I had not realized how great of an impact he had on my life, or my heart, until six months after graduation, when we lived on opposite sides of the country. This adorable boy I met when I was 19 turned into a handsome man who I am honored to say is now my husband.

My husband, Andrew, and I dated for five months while he lived in Washington and I lived in Florida. At the end of these five months, he flew to Florida for a very short visit in which he proposed. Two months later, I moved to Washington where his former boss and his wife opened up their home to me for the three months leading up to our wedding. Their generosity and hospitality is something I pray I will be able to pass on to someone else in the future. In October of 2012, I married my best friend.

We lived in Washington for only a short time, but it is a place we will cherish forever, in large part due to Open House Ministries and the youth we grew to love during our time there. After nine months of marriage, we moved to Colorado so Andrew could attend seminary and work as the high school coordinator at his home church, LifePointe. The Lord blessed us with a job for me in just over two months! I am the Be Ready Early Childhood Navigator at The Matthews House, which is a non-profit working with youth and families.

There is a major part of my life that I have not mentioned and that has to do with my health. The past few years have brought some of the toughest trials I have ever had to face. Unknowingly, my symptoms began while I was still in college. Senior year was hard on me physically, but I continued to power through and did not share the difficulties I was having with anyone (other then possibly my family…I honestly cannot remember). My health progressively got worse as time went on. I am thankful for a husband who is supportive and so very caring through it all. It is not what I would have ever wished to have to endure with my husband in our first year of marriage, but “in sickness and in health” right?

My family has also been a huge support and greatest advocate. I have been through countless testings with very little answers and have heard many times that there is nothing wrong with me. Although I know that there is something going on in my body, it sometimes did make me wonder if it all was just in my head. I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, after ruling out everything else. I have had mixed emotions on this diagnosis. We are pursuing one more testing and that is for Chronic Lyme Disease.

This is just a brief synopsis of me. There is a lot God is teaching me through my circumstances right now, but it can be heart wrenching. I am learning more about the heart of my Lord and what it means to truly surrender. The past few years have been some of the best (newly married, yay!) and yet some of the hardest that I have had to endure. I know God is sovereign and that it is only through His strength that I am finding perseverance in the midst of this season.

My sister and I were talking about the saying “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I do not think this is accurate. I believe that there are times in life when we are presented with circumstances that are more than we can handle. It is only through God and His strength that we are able to walk through life. God does not promise an easy road, but He is faithful and carries us through.

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