Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fix You

I received some good news from my doctor today. My numbers are looking good and she said I will only need 2 more plasma treatments and I will be "fixed". It's been a long road. All the Glory goes to God for "fixing" me. I've always loved Coldplay's "Fix You". However, this song has a bit more meaning to me now. I plan to write more later on my reflections on what I've learned throughout this journey, but for now, I hope you enjoy the song as much as I do.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Will the Real W.M.D's Please Stand Up?

I did it. I did what all the top government officials were unable to do. I found the weapons of mass destruction. Or at least one of them. Escherichia coli O157:H7. This is one of the hundreds of strains of E. Coli that the Department of Homeland Security has listed on its list of bioterrorism agent list, and the culprit that was hidden in my bowels for 24-72 hours waiting to wreak havoc on my body. I knew that it was E. Coli that caused my bodily destruction, but bioterrorism agent? That’s impressive. Let me backtrack a bit. As you all know, I’ve recently been sick to the point of hospitalization, but what you may not know, is that it all started with an intestinal infection. Now, this wasn’t just any intestinal infection. This was the Hiroshima of intestinal infections. You see, E. Coli O157:H7 causes Shiga toxins to be released into the system of the person infected. Sounds fun right? They have those little pain scales in doctor’s offices with the faces ranking your pain level from a 1-10. I consider myself to have a high pain tolerance, but the pain that came with those “Shiga toxins” had me praying for mercy like I’ve never prayed before.

Another interesting fact? Laboratories do not specifically test for E. Coli O157:H7 unless the doctor requests it. Did mine? No. Now, my doctor was a good doctor. I went to see him thinking I had a virus, a stomach bug, something quickly curable with some heavy-duty antibiotics. He thought the same thing, so he prescribed me two antibiotics, some anti-cramping medicine, ordered the humiliating stool samples and sent me on my way. A few days later I went back to see him, not feeling much better, with no positive results… the stool samples all came back negative. His response? “Most of the time we never know what causes these things”. Well…all right. I went home to wait it out and a pray that that antibiotics would knock this mysterious illness out quickly. I find out (the hard way) that a person infected with E. Coli O157:H7 should not be prescribed antibiotics because it will not cure the problem and it could cause things to progress to a deadly complication: Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.

On Friday November 12, I woke up after 10 days of suffering through what I now know is a bioterrorist agent, 10 pounds lighter, and jaundice, and feeling worse than I have ever felt in my life and I told my husband I thought I might need to go to the hospital. After about 2 hours at the ER, a few blood tests, and one of those talks with the doctor that you see on TV that you never want to have, I was on my way to the ICU with the diagnosis of, yep, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome. I went from what I thought was a simple stomach bug to a life threatening disease that destroys your red blood cells and my organs were beginning to shut down, enter kidney failure stage left --all because of a little hidden bioterrorism agent known as Escherichia coli O157:H7.

Not too many people can say they were harboring anything that is listed on the Centers for Disease Control list. Sure, my doctor could have tested for it, but it’s rare. If he had, he wouldn’t have prescribed me antibiotics and I may not have ended up with HUS. I’m thinking I may have another career in my future. Send me to the Middle East Mr. President, you won’t have to worry about finding the W.M.D’s, they will come find me.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I underwent my 16th treatment today, and I am a little bit weary. My treatments take a total of about 6 hours, and it makes for a long day. While I am slowly getting better, the doctors cannot tell me how many more treatments I am going to need to beat this. I started feeling a bit of guilt today because of the weariness I was feeling. Did my weariness mean that my faith was waning? As I sat in the treatment room today, I watched an older man receive dialysis for about 4 hours, another woman a blood transfusion, and yet another woman her daily blood draw to test her platelet levels for the cancer she is battling. Yet, I sat there, weary knowing that each one of those people must be feeling the very same thing. I know my weariness has a resting place. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) However, some days the unknown, and doctors telling you “I don’t know how much longer” is burdensome. It seems simple to say to lay your burden down, which I have been able to do graciously until today. Frustration is setting in. Today, it was hard to fight back the tears, so what better place to go than the handy Bible app on my phone while I was waiting in the hospital lobby. For no particular reason, I decided on 2 Thessalonians. Random book, but God has His divine reasons and His divine ways of speaking to us. The first thing I read was this, “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4) The heading was “Thanksgiving and Prayer”. Under normal circumstances, I would most likely read this scripture for what it is: Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church. However, it struck me that God meant this passage for me today. Through this trial I am enduring, the love I have for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ has increased exponentially. The love and appreciation I have for my family has grown more than I thought possible. My faith is what is carrying me through each day. Although I am weary, I am beginning to realize that weariness is drawing me nearer to Christ, and I must continue to persevere. I do still believe that He is the True Physician and will heal me in His own time. I know I will still have days of frustration, but I will continue to be thankful for the progress I have made and for the Savior who gives me rest.

"But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40:31

Sunday, November 28, 2010


Recently, I got pretty sick. Not your common cold kind of sick, but 12 days in the hospital, 6 days spent in the ICU kind of sick. The completely blind-side you kind of sick. The, as I am typing this, I am still battling kind of sick. Ok, you get the point. Now, although I am still sick, and patiently waiting for my healing, my faith in God has been transformed. Strange? No, amazing things can happen when your life hangs in the balance. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) This time a year most people spend time “giving thanks” for what they are thankful for. If you would have asked me a month ago what I was most thankful for I would have given you an answer something like, “my husband, my son, my health, my job, my church”. Today, while I am still thankful for those things, they carry a very different meaning to me. During these past few weeks, my husband has shown a quiet strength that is given only by God. He has lead our household just as God has called him to do. For that, I am thankful. Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song”

Spending time in ICU, and several other days in a hospital wing, seeing people suffering far greater than even me, could not help but shift my emotional “thankfulness” to that of a “thankfulness” state of mind. While in the ICU, one event specifically comes to mind. I called for the nurse, and she took more time to come to my room than usual. When she finally arrived, she apologized and said she was attending to someone who was dying. Today I am thankful for my life. I am Thankful in a way I have never been before for my Savior. I am overwhelmed by the amount of support my family received by our church family, through visits, meals, and prayers. There are people out there whom I will most likely never meet, who were praying for my healing and for my family. For that, I am thankful. I believe that I could wake up tomorrow fully healed. Jesus Christ has that healing power. Nevertheless, if He chooses to lengthen my time of healing, to teach me to become a more thankful, patient, or perhaps a lesson yet unseen, I accept that. If there is one lesson that I have fully learned and embraced, it is thankfulness. Not, emotional thankfulness, but thankfulness as a state of mind. What is the difference? To put it simply, your spouse gives you a necklace you have been wanting for a long time. You are thankful. Or, you overpaid your escrow for the year and your unexpectedly get a refund check in the mail. You are thankful. These are pretty basic. A thankfulness state of mind is hard to come by. Do I think I’ve got it down and will never slip? No. I am human. However, I certainly believe that my mind has shifted to believing in a more thankful way. For example, as I have said before, I am thankful for my life. Not just, I get to wake up every day, but my life. What my life is: A gift. When you are told you are sick enough to need immediate treatment or you could die, the realization that your life is a gift from God becomes a reality. The reality that you have a family who depends on you, now requires your faith to get through the course. Everyone has bad days. I had my fair share of grouchy, irritable, “I’ll do better tomorrow” days, not ever realizing those days were numbered. Sure, you hear the cliché, “you never know when your last day will be”, but you never think it will happen to you. I can guarantee you, by switching to a thankful state of mind, I will be kinder to my husband and kinder to my son. Because I never again want to say, “I’ll try harder tomorrow”. I’ve learned that by having a thankfulness state of mind, my eyes are opened to many positives through my illness. My love and appreciation for my husband has grown deeper. I have always had a very difficult time letting him “do” any of the housework. Not because he isn’t capable, but simply because of my controlling nature. God found a way to humble my controlling nature, and I have found that my husband is an excellent and organized housekeeper. In place of control has grown an appreciation for all the hard work he has had to take on in my absence. I have learned humility. Some of the people closest to me have now seen me at my worst, and I have always considered myself to be the “caretaker” in most of my relationships, and I have now been on the receiving end of the “caretaking” and have had to graciously accept their help. I have seen a true shining example of Christian stewardship. The outpouring support of our friends has brought me to tears many nights. There weren’t many times when I was alone in my hospital room, but when I was, it could get pretty quiet. However, it was in those quiet times, I felt Christ presence the most, letting me know I was never alone. After 35 years of smoking, my father decided to stop. In his words, “if you can fight for your life and it’s not even your fault, I can stop a stupid habit and live to see my grandson get married.” Glory to God!

If I wake up tomorrow fully healed, I will thank God. If I have weeks or months of treatments to undergo, I will be thankful. Because I will know, that God has a plan for me. He may have thrown me a curve ball, but I believe there is a beautiful lesson to be learned in all of this, I am terrible in baseball, but Our God bats 1000.

“Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. “ Jeremiah 17:14

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.” Psalm 30:11-12

Friday, October 29, 2010

13 Going on 30

In exactly 9 months from today, I turn 30. For most people, this is a depressing event. For me, however, I don’t mind. In fact, I’m kind of looking forward to it. I supposed it is because I have always considered myself to have lived a life well past my physical age, so turning 30 isn’t really a “landmark” event. It’s another year. However, today does mark a day that I have been dreading. My son turns 13. This day is a bit depressing. I had no idea it would be really. But the harsh realization that in 5 years he will be moving on to college and out of the house, and out of my and his father’s protection is a scary thought. From the age of 0-12 parents experience things like, crawling, walking, ABC’s, learning to ride a bike, eating lunch at school with your kids, bedtime stories, and kisses from your kids before bedtime. From the ages of 13-18 it’s puberty, no more kisses before bed because it’s not cool anymore, interest in the opposite sex, “the talk”, actually caring about how they look, driving, dating, prom, and talks of college. Of course, this is a seriously condensed list, but you get the idea. Stuff changes. Now, not to sound overly ignorant, of course, I knew stuff was going to change. That is where the fiercely protective mother in me comes in. It seems that the word “teenager” brings with it the idea that “life” is waiting in the wings to try to make your child stumble, to try and make your child hurt and fail. Moreover, a good parent, at times, will allow their child to fail, and not be there to clean up every mess that their kid makes, because that is how they learn to be an accountable, responsible adult. I realize this, however, this “13th birthday” brings with it a desire to be a “bad” parent all the way and clean up every mess life throws at my son. That being said, I realize this is me lacking faith. And I am working on it. I know that God does not promise our lives will be without pain and suffering and I know that God has a plan for my son’s life.  I know that "The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9 I know which way I would like for my son’s life to go. I would like for his life to be without pain, without suffering, without hardship. I would like him to be able to grow into a man without having to go through trials, but I also know that this is an incredibly unrealistic and ignorant way of thinking. Jesus Himself went through trials before He returned to Glory. It is the mother in me, and that I cannot change. However, I can change my prayer life to reflect God’s will and not my own. In the past 13 years, I have learned some hard parenting lessons. Here are a few:
·         It is a bit cliché, but true. Time flies. I know so many people who are either pregnant, or have very small children that are so overjoyed at the new life that has been brought into their world. With this new life comes a lack a of sleep, mysterious spit up stains on your own clothes, stress over what germs may be on the pacifier that just fell on the ground, stress over what germs your baby may pick up from the stranger who wants to hold your precious baby in the mall, worry over which formula will provide the best nutrients for your baby’s growing body, worry, stress, worry, sleeplessness, worry, stress, but inevitably…JOY. Let me tell you, by the time that precious baby turns 13, all those moments you spent sanitizing a dirty, germy pacifier, choosing the right formula, catching extra sleep, or worrying over what germ your baby may have picked up in the mall won’t matter anymore, because you will then be too busy trying to remember where the last 13 years went. Be grateful for the time you have and cherish it.
·         Realize that you and your spouse are going to differ in your parenting styles. Period. You should have a basic groundwork for how you are going to raise your children, but there are going to be times that you disagree. Spending the next 18 years of your children’s lives in disagreement over how to raise your children will not benefit anyone. I believe that there is an order to be followed in the household. God, father, mother, children. When this order is disrupted, there are problems. However, basing your family’s foundation on the verse, “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) you are laying the groundwork for a peaceful partnership in parenting.
·         Raising children is stressful, and expensive. No doubt about that. But, it is also fun. One of my biggest regrets of the past 13 years is not laughing enough. While you should definitely take parenting seriously, you should allow yourself to laugh and not take yourself so seriously. You will make mistakes along the way. We are imperfect people, we made imperfect kids, the combination is bound to lead to some funny (and some not so funny) events along the way. So, allow yourself to laugh. Plus, as my husband likes to say, laugh lines are prettier than frown lines!
·         I heard not too long ago someone say something like, “you shouldn’t take credit for all of your child’s successes, and you shouldn’t take credit for all of your child’s failures”. This is one of the hardest lessons for me. I have no problem with the not taking credit for his successes. However, the failures I take on almost completely. This goes back to wanting to protect my child to a fault. We, as parents, have to allow our child to fail, and succeed, on their own, and allow them to take credit for both. It makes them stronger, higher functioning adults.
·         Do not be afraid to talk to your kids. I was a teenage mother, and as such, there wasn’t much hiding I could do when it came to “the talk”. Now, I let my husband handle most of the details when it came to that portion because he is a boy (thank goodness for that), but we took the advice of other parents who said do not give them more information than they ask for. Kids talked when I was in school, and times today are much different than they were even 20 years ago when it come s to what goes on in school hallways. You want your kids to get “life facts” from you so that you know they are getting good, honest information instead of from Johnny on the playground.  
Well, I think I have surpassed the definition of a “few” so I will stop there. Although today carries a bit of sadness at the fact that my “little boy” is growing up, I am also very proud at the young man he is becoming. I am very thankful to God for carrying my family through the difficult times we have faced and for shielding my son from any unnecessary pain. I am thankful that I am blessed with a wonderful, God-fearing husband who is an amazing father to our son, who has no idea has truly lucky he is to have a Dad like him. I am thankful for Christ who will continue to direct my son’s steps for the rest of his life.
 "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” -Proverbs 22:6

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Humanity of Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan isn't the sweet little girl from "Parent Trap" anymore. Or is she? She has certainly become a money- maker for the media, been made an example of by parents, been a source of entertainment for the general public, and been the #1 topic on many morning radio shows. But for what reason? Is it because of the public's insatiable need for voyeurism? Or because we find it impossible to look away from a train wreck no matter the apparent destruction going on in an individual’s life because it makes for good gossip? Whatever the case is, the humanity of Lindsay Lohan isn't a topic that gets discussed. Sure, her latest failed drug test, her latest excuse, and her latest miff at the media and seemingly careless attitude toward life in general certainly has seen its share of the limelight, but her humanity does not make for good TV. So, what about it? Despite her celebrity, her fame, her fortune, and her fans, Lindsay Lohan is a human being who is obviously hurting. In her human weakness, and inability to cope with all that life has thrown at her, she has chosen to deal with life in a very unhealthy manner. I have heard several people say about not only her, but also other celebrities (such as Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and Anna Nicole Smith) that they do not understand what could possibly be making them so depressed. It is easy to assume that having fame and fortune is the cure-all for life's problems. However, fame and fortune do not fill emptiness. They are instead a shell of a life that is easily cracked by the humanity we all face no matter where we lie on the economic and popularity scale. Lindsay Lohan needs help, that much is a given. However, at this point, her celebrity status is failing her by shining a light on her misdeeds, and she seems to believe that accountability isn't applicable to her. She, like thousands of other people every day, have yet to hit a point where there is nowhere to go but Up. Many seem to view her as a lost cause and are waiting on a news report similar to the one that reported Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith's death. When you strip down Lindsay Lohan's situation and look at her from a humanity standpoint, we all face a very real and similar situation. Now, I am not saying that we all go out and do drugs and party, to view that part of her situation would be missing the point. As human beings we are fallen, we are sinners, and we all need Jesus. We all face an emptiness that if ignored, will blossom into a full-blown black hole that will suck us into other destructive behaviors such as, anger, pride, guilt, drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, etc.  It seems that from the outside looking in, this is what Lindsay Lohan, in her humanity is facing. We all face this same emptiness, when we try to fill our hearts with things of this world that will inevitably fail us. I prayed for Lindsay Lohan this morning. I cannot say I have ever prayed for a celebrity before, but I truly feel bad for her. I do not know her, I find it highly unlikely that I will ever meet her, but I can certainly empathize with her humanity. I hope for her sake the media stops finding profit in her problems, society stops finding entertainment in her suffering, and we are able to recognize that we, like her, are all fallen and are in need of the Grace and Mercy of Jesus Christ.

"I cry aloud with my voice to the Lord; I make supplication with my voice to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk They have hidden a trap for me. Look to the right and see; For there is no one who regards me; There is no escape for me; no one cares for my soul. I cried out to You, O Lord; I said, "You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living. Give heed to my cry, For I am brought very low; Deliver me from my persecutors, For they are too strong for me. Bring my soul out of prison, so that I may give thanks to Your name; The righteous will surround me, For You will deal bountifully with me." - Psalm 142:1-7

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Down in my Heart

‎"One day in retrospect the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful." - Sigmund Freud

Recently, someone asked me why our lives are filled with so much struggle and pain, and not with an unending supply of joy and happiness. Now, initially, this seemed like a reasonable question, one marked with a simple answer pulled from my concordance of scriptures. However, the question stuck with me for a while. One of the biggest issues that I had to conquer on my faith journey was the debate between joy and happiness. Charles Stanley said, “In order to understand the life God desires for us, we need to know the difference between joy and happiness. Both can be defined as gladness, delight, and pleasure in something, but happiness has external cause. When circumstances are enjoyable, we are naturally happy, but when things take a downward turn, so do our attitudes. Joy, on the other hand, has an internal cause and is not dependent upon outside conditions. As believers, we can keep our contentment in good times and bad because our delight is in the Lord, not in our fluctuating circumstances.” In other words, our joy is in the Lord; however, happiness is fleeting. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “I have learned to be content in whatever the circumstances.” It wasn’t until recently that I recognized the word “learned” in this verse. I have always focused on what seemingly impossible task this verse presented. However, when you recognize that Paul had to learn to be content, and understand that this is also God’s expectation of us, it is easier to grasp.

It is easy to be cheerful when things are going our way, but how can we do this when times of suffering and difficulty arise? James 1:2-4 tells us, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” We are not rejoicing in the event that is causing our pain, but instead at the outcome. Trials challenge our faith in God’s wisdom, goodness or power. However, His word reassures us that His purposes are good, and if we endure with trust and joy, we will lack nothing.

If each day has become a struggle, and your circumstances are dragging you down, by faith claim the joy of the Lord. Begin by living in His promises instead of under your circumstances. Make a decision to rejoice in Him, regardless of your situation. I fully believe that in time, that by making this decision, your feelings will follow.

“...Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” – Nehemiah 8:10

Friday, February 19, 2010


As many of you probably heard or saw, Tiger Woods made a public apology today regarding his “transgressions”. I personally do not think that it was necessary for the broadcast to be live and deemed a “special report”, but our voyeuristic tendencies made it so. However, whether or not it was live, or should have even been considered national news is not the point. What I saw as I watched this report, was a man who appeared to have a contrite and broken heart. Of course there are going to be people who continue to cast stones in Tiger’s direction, but it does take humility to stand in front of a crowd of people and confess your sins and ask for forgiveness, especially when he didn’t owe it to the public, (despite what many think) but instead to God and to his family.

True humility comes from brokenness, and through that brokenness, contrition. To be contrite, means to be broken or crushed by the weight of our guilt. Our human tendencies and our pride are being crushed to the point of repentance. In our own lives, we may have been faced with someone who was asking for our forgiveness through their own broken and contrite heart, or perhaps been that person ourselves. A person may weep due to the initial guilt of the realization of the consequence of their sins. Through this realization, however, we begin to accept our sincere dependence on God for the forgiveness of our sins, which leads us to repentance. Repentance is the defining characteristic of the brokenhearted. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17) God does not treat a person with a contrite heart with anger or contempt, but instead offers His grace and mercy. One of the comments Tiger made in his apology that struck me the most was “everyone of you has good reason to be critical of me”. Do we really? Jesus told the Pharisees who brought a woman to Him who was caught in adultery, “if anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone” (John 8:7) Each one of them began to leave and when Jesus asked the woman, “…where are they? Has no one condemned you?" she replied "No one, sir," "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." (John 8:10-11) When I watch someone who has experienced a “spiritual relapse” and committed sins that have not only caused themselves harm, but to those closest to them, repent and ask for forgiveness, I cannot help but remember the times that I have done the same. Watching Tiger Woods today brought a flood of memories back to me and I wept. I wept for him as a child of God, for his family and for the sacrifice that Jesus has made for each and everyone of us. I wept in thankfulness for what Christ has done in my life. We do not have to live a life with a crushed and broken heart with the fear that we will be hidden from God’s sight forever. Forgiveness and grace are available to us all. Through a broken, contrite and repentant heart, we can be free from the weight of sin. We have the promise that God will not “despise” us for our sins, although there are those who will despise us. Satan does, although he trembles at the name of Jesus. The world will despise us, but stands in awe of sin. I am thankful today for my broken heart. I am thankful that I was not hidden from God’s sight, but instead welcomed back home with Him from a cold world that offered me nothing but shame and grief.

"The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry; the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." - Psalm 34:15-18