Saturday, July 27, 2013

Through the clouds

Being In the grey cloud took on a more weighty meaning today as we flew from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.  The sky became dark.  Light barely able to peak through.  The pilot voice comes on overhead warning not to get up as it could get a "little bumpy".  With little light insight, the desert below barely visible, and little certainty that the ride will be smooth, I couldn't help but realize how this was my life not too long ago.  The ride which I assumed to be smooth with clear views, quickly became fogged up and the ride bumpy with no end in sight.  No certainty of when light would break through.  

When there would be a break through.
When I could break through. 
Out of the dark cloud blocking my vision.  Filling me with doubt and despair.  
And the ground that I could see was desert.  Dry and wasted, I felt helpless. 
But then the beauty came even in the dark and bumpy dry lands of my life. 
Break through did come. 
Healing came. 
He came. 

He met me in my suffering and promised to hold me regardless of how bumpy it would be.  He said He would never leave. Even if the wilderness was all I could see.  
He came.  He promised one day there would be redemption and restoration.
And until that day, He wouldn't leave. 
He gave me hope.  I could hope again knowing the future.  Knowing that one day I would regain strength and be able to live abundantly with Him. 
But He also made me realize that regardless of when the complete physical breakthrough would come, I could spiritually live life fuller than ever before.  That I could live a life of joy and love no matter what.  And that He would hold me up even if I got weaker.  He would hold me.  Come along for the bumpy ride.  He wouldn't leave out of fear or disgust of the uncertain wilderness ride, but would continue to embrace me.  And in embracing me, be there for the bumpy ride amid the grey clouds.  
He would take on the suffering so He could be with me.  
He would take on the ultimate suffering so that I could come before Him. Cry out to Him. And be held.  

Held with hope.  
Held with love.
Held with joy. 
Be healed with hope. 
Healed with love.
And healed with joy. 

I am currently sitting in the Bellagio before we leave for a drive to Arizona for a house boating adventure!  Praise God I could walk right past the wheelchairs in the airport and just continue walking through some of the amazing different hotels here!  I will write as soon as I can again.  Blessings and love. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Love what you do...

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.  And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.  If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.  Don't settle. 
I read these words of Steve Jobs in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition's catalogue that arrived in the mail today.  
And excitement floods my heart. 

I cannot wait to start this course in nutrition, health coaching, and business!  Talking with my health coach, Amanda Daley, has forever impacted my life.  She has helped me transform destructive mind patterns I did not even realize I was stuck in, helped me seek joy and pleasure in life, and believed in the power for me to heal.  I have been so blessed to be able to work with her.  She truly has become a best friend and cheerleader for me during this time of suffering through chronic fatigue syndrome.  After three sessions with Amanda, my health totally turned a corner and I am the me I was created to be again.  I am loving life and excited about today and the future.  I am creating again.  I am closer to God and seeking His face.  And I don't believe this is all from the talks I have had with Amanda but I do believe it was a big part of my healing!
I am so excited to gain training in these areas and cannot wait to see how God will work through this course - in my continued healing and also in using my story to help others.  My dream is to share my story and how faith and gratitude were two of the biggest things that brought me on my journey of healing.  
My passion is for people to know Him who saves and live fully true and joyous healthy lives.  
Where this will lead me I don't know. I haven't abandoned my nursing goals but have rather put them on hold.  Currently I plan to go back in Fall 2014 to finish off my degree but as I have learned from this time of being sick, I am going to take one day at a time and see where God leads me.
I pray that I will have open ears to hear Him, open hands able to let go and be filled with His guidance, love, and joy, and feet willing to go where He prompts.  
And I pray that for you too.

I pray you would find that thing you love if you haven't already and that with His help be great doing whatever it may be!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

True North

This feeling of redirection and restoration will not leave my heart.  Nor do I want it to.  
I want to point North.  To the True North.  I want my life to keep following Truth and His direction.  But what does that look like?  How can I be further drawn?  How can I further gravitate to all that is True?
I want to point North.  Go North to Him.  Reposition my life so I am pulled to Him instead of pain stakingly try and change course with myself as captain.  I want Him to pull me.  To direct my life.  And I know it isn't the easier way but it is the True way.  And from that I cannot let go. 

My desire is to grow more spiritually.  To seek His face.  To live life with hands open.  
I want to develop a daily practice that focuses on Him.  That redirects my thoughts to the positive, to graditude, to love - to Him.  To meditate on Him day and night as the Psalmist says. 
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3; emphasis mine)
Now that I am getting physically stronger and healthier, (I went swimming this morning!!), I am thinking more and more about health.  How to stay healthy.  And the more I think about it, the more I feel drawn to this idea of the True North.  Redirecting there.  Stopping and refocusing on Him and His glory.  In His direction, not my own.  

Out of the north comes golden splendor; God is clothed with awesome majesty. (Job 37:22)

One of the most profound lessons I have learned during my health battles is also the simplest.  
Be still & Rest

In this crazy world we live in, taking time out to do nothing seems absurd.  Something I couldn't, or maybe more accurately, wouldn't do before.  But this time has been a gift.  A gift of ensured rest.  
I was forced to stop. Forced to breathe.  Forced into a time of reviewing my life, my health, my beliefs.  And although forced is a harsh word, I so believe I needed to be held down to learn these important things.  
And now, the slow morning filled with devotions, prayer, healthy food, and time to get ready, help fuel my day.  Without my daily practice, my day seems scattered and I find it hard to come back to center.  Back to Him.  
At night I still work on my graditude journal (I have gotten in a bit of a habit of forgetting my journal downstairs and not going to get it once I am bed.. So trying to fix that as I so prefer writing out my day than typing it into a Note on my iPhone!).  But I don't have as much of a routine for my evenings. 
Or really thorough out the day. 

Graditude is something that has definitely changed my life.  And writing a graditude journal in the evening and opened my eyes to seeking joy and being grateful throughout my whole day. 
Honestly, I think this is one of the keys that changed my life.  But I will write more on that specifically another time. 

So now I am beginning a bit of a journey on exploring this.  Exploring daily practice - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  
Exploring how I can connect stronger to True North in everything.  Seeking Him and be centred in Him throughout the day. 
So I am reading and looking into the practice of others.  Praying and seeking what this will look like for me. 
And one of the big things is meditation.  It has been something on my mind for a long time.  The Bible so often talks of meditating on The Lord and His word.  But what does that look like?  The last couple days I have been reading a lot about it.  Reading about conflicts between some meditation and Christianity.  Reading pros and cons to some of the different practices.  And you know, I am honestly kind of unsure where I stand with it all. 
The more I read the more I get pulled one way and then another. 

So meditation... That is what I am looking into more these days and if anyone has any opinions on it, what they do, or what they believe about it - please do share.  I would love to hear about it as I try and figure out what meditating looks like in my life. 

And what my daily practices will become - incorporating rest and being still in Him.  Finding the True North - finding Him in it all throughout every day. 

On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. (Psalm 145:5)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

I Wanna Sunburn

I wanna sunburn just to know that I'm alive. Just to know that I'm alive. 
Interesting how the artist puts it, isn't it?  To know he is alive, he wants to feel pain.  I don't know that that would be my request.  I have a sunburn right now and it doesn't feel nice.  It isn't something that I would hope for.  But somehow, in a way, it does make me feel alive.  It makes me realize that I am really living.  That I am alive.  That I am able to sit in the sun and soak it all in. 
I wouldn't have been able to do that before. 
I would've overheated and over exhausted myself.  Just from sitting in the sun. 
But now I can.   I can sit in the sun and feel its warm rays wrap around my body.  I remember thinking that the sun's warm rays were a form of God's arms wrapping around me in the best hug ever. 
Sitting in the sun is a happy place for me.  Actually more than that.  It is joyously divine.  And now it is all the more joyously divine.  
And that's because I have felt the pain.  Not the pain of its burn, but the lack there of.  The pain of not being able to simply sit in the sun.  Put on a bathing suit and swim.  Run through the sprinklers or crashing waves.  The pain of being stuck.  Stuck and not knowing when or how I will ever get unstuck.  
But without that feeling of hopelessness.  Of depression.  Of despair.  I wouldn't truly know what hope and joy really felt like.  
The darker the black, the whiter the white appears.  The deeper the shadow, the brighter the light beaming down. 
And I can say the light is pretty bright.  Although life is so different and I am still struggling to overcome some of the repercussions of 8 months of being stuck, I can say I know joy to a whole new level.  I feel His embrace all the more.  I see real beauty all around. 
And without the pain, I wouldn't know these things.  Life may not be much different.  My eyes may not be opened.  My ears may not be tuned.  And my heart may not be on beat. 
Without having to cling to Him with everything,  because He is all I had, I wouldn't have heard His heart beat as clear.   Or seen His hands wrapped around me - holding me.  I wouldn't have depended on Him instead of myself. 
Without the pain, I wouldn't be able to feel what I do now. 
So I welcome this sunburnt skin because it shows that I am living.  That I am living and slowly learning more what living to the full really is.  Breathing in His name.  Opening my hands.  And placing my head on His chest in order to memorize how His heart beats.  
How it beats with love.  With love for His broken and hurting children.  And how that love pieces back the broken shards into something way more beautiful.  
And I pray that I would see how He sees, that my heart would beat for what His beats for, that I would be attuned to Him with ears always listening, and that I would have feet ever ready to run and proclaim His faithfulness, love, and great mercy. 
That I would live with each breath for Him - not for me. 
That I would continue to burn.  To feel the pains of living and living to the full.  For as Thriving Ivory's song continues, every day's the first of your life. 
And I choose to live with that new passion.  That new adventure.  That new joy of each new and beautiful thing. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Seek My Face

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? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord. Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, Lord, do I seek." Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord ! (Psalm 27; emphasis mine)
This Psalm touched me greatly while I was quite sick a few months ago.  It was such a comfort to me and one that seemed to keep coming up in things I looked at and read.  My devotional, the book I was reading, someone's status, .... Its truths just kept hitting my heart.
And I began to cry out, "Your face, Lord,  do I seek."

This helped change my focus from my circumstances.  Gave me comfort.  It was something I would keep reading.  Hoping this would become my heart's cry.  That I would learn to mouth these words.  That they would become engraved on my heart.  That I would seek Him. 

And today when this came up in my morning Bible reading, I was reminded.  Reminded of the comfort it brought me.  The change of perspective it gave.  
And slowly it was carved out deeper into my heart today.  Today when my heart remembered its cries from months ago when the weight of "he will lift me on a rock" was all I hoped for.  That He would hold me up.  Up from my circumstances. Up to Him and be comforted in His arms.  
And something new in the last verse hit me today. "Let your heart take courage; wait for The Lord"
Wait for The Lord.  Take courage and wait.  
It brought me comfort then and now in retrospect it brings even more. 
Wait on The Lord.  Seek Him and wait. 
I waited.  Tried to seek Him.  Looked for Him and for understanding through it.  
But I too often got stuck in the trying to understand it part and not just on Him.  
But I am slowly learning.  Learning to seek His face. 

And today something clicked inside of me.  Like a spark that I could no longer contain. 
I had to create something.  Something that connected my heart to His. 
Something that I was made to do. But something I had stopped. 
And to be honest, I stopped and was afraid to start again. 
With everything in my I wanted to create.  I wanted to do one of the things I loved the most.  The thing that blazed a fire in me.  That my mind and heart kept rethinking ideas for.  What colour I could do things.  What medium I could use.  But I was afraid.  I was afraid I wouldn't be able to anymore.  That I would start and be stopped.  Unable to continue.  
Like the last time a few months ago that I tried to paint.  I loved it but I couldn't do it.  My arms couldn't hold up the brush and canvas.  My brain couldn't handle just letting go and creating.  I couldn't keep it together.  I couldn't do what I could. 
And you know, since then I have tried to draw.  To make art of some kind.  
But it often ended quick too.  I would love it. But would stop.  Stop mostly from fear.  

But today when that spark was lit in my heart, something beautiful happened.  I focused on Him and couldn't help but pick up my sketchbook. 
And so I drew.  I created because I was inspired.  And it was a way I could seek Him.  See His beauty. 

You have said, "Seek my face."  My heart says, "Your face, Lord, do I seek."

And so I drew.  And my heart opened up.  Breathed in and out His name.  And felt a part of me alive that I hadn't in a long time. 
And this passion that was relit began to grow and soon grew into flame. 
And my passion to create was opened in a new way. 
And I did something I have never really done with art. 
I drew and wrote out His praise. 
His truth. 
His beauty. 
And I saw His beautiful face like never before. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Joy of Living and Loving Life

The day began with a hot summer breeze which beckoned me outside.  I basked in the sun most of the day.  Observing the majestic beauty around me and breathing in the summer ocean air, while adding to my sun-kissed skin. 

I immediately noticed the birds singing and flying around me.  Soon I realized they were a family of young little birds learning to take flight.  Figuring out what it meant to soar. 
One of them perched right by me on the glass, resting and checking out the large and open sky calling to him.  He eventually took off into glorious flight and glided effortlessly around the wonderful blue sky.  The clouds way up high seemed not too big an obstacle for him as he truly began to soar. 

Today I too tested out my newly strong arms and legs and tried something I haven't done in over 9 months.  As I was too weak and the water too vertigo evoking, I had not yet made it into the pool.  While stuck in bed I would look out and envy those who effortlessly seemed to soar in their own way through the water.  But today I conquered the fears holding me back and went in.  I did not full out swim but I had another first - I took a floaty and moved myself around the pool!  The first sort of exercise I have done in far too long. It filled my soul with delight and my muscles now crave the feeling of use.  The burn that means I am moving.  I am alive and moving.  Moving towards strength and health. 

I then planted myself with a book that is impacting me greatly, "Where is God when it hurts?" by Philip Yancey, and let the sun rays warm my body.  Freckles seemed to arise out of thin air making my fair skin now appear as if it has seen the light and ventured out of the house.  A dear friend once told me that freckles were kisses from angels.  I like that, like a lot, and am reminded every time I see them of the goodness and love of my Great Healing Father. 

Butterflies began to fly around and one almost landed right on me.  I have always loved them and found them delightfully and delicately beautiful.  Apparently butterflies landing on you mean good luck and symbolizes rebirth and renewal.  I would say today was another realization of my transformational change.  So I will take them as a symbol of renewal and hold onto that.  Hold onto this day of strength and continued renewal. 

This day that I also drove and laughed and saw the day with wondrous delight and joy.   This day that ended with me singing away as I drove with the wind in my hair and as. the sun burned brilliant fire reds, oranges, and pinks in the sky.

This day that was filled with wonder and joy.  Love and comfort.  Beautiful words read and glorious nature observed.
This day that brought joy of living that seemed unimaginable just a short month ago.  
Joy of living.  Joy of loving. 
Joy of a life that I love. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

I Will Go

In the times of our hearts waiting upon The Lord, what do we do?  Do we quiet ourselves?  Seek His face and His face alone?  Cry out to Him?  Go out alone to pray and meditate on His will? 
In my time of being sick, I definitely have cried out to Him.  Cried out to Him with real tears, with anger, with confusion, with wonder, with hope... Cried out to Him - Him who answers. 

But I didn't always do that.  My mind ran its laps around trying to fix me.  Trying to find the answers on its own.  Trying to pull things together on my own strength. 
But despite my unfaithfulness, He remained faithful and answered my cries, helped stop my mind from running me into the ground of anxiety and depression, held out His hand, and asked me to say yes.  
Yes to Him.  Yes to His plan.  Yes to relying on Him - not me nor the people around me.  Yes to Him and Him alone. 

I am saying Yes.  I wanted to all along.  Even from before I was sick.  But I couldn't let go.  I couldn't seem to open my hand in order to have it filled full - filled full with His hand. 
His hand to lead and guide me.  To hold and love me.  To comfort and calm me. 

In my morning devotions, I read Genesis 24.  It talks of Rebekah's marriage proposal to Isaac.  How Abraham had made his servant promise to go and find his son a wife - a wife from his kin.  And the servant made this convenant to him.  He promised and prayed his way to finding Rebekah.  He asked God to lead with His angels.  To guide him to the one worthy of his master.  
He prayed this in his heart, we are told.  He didn't shout it out.  Praying for a sign of the lady to be the bride.  He whispered it in his heart and God provided the sign. Gave the answer.  Showed His face clearly.  

What must Rebekah have been thinking when her offer of water led to gifts of good and a wedding proposal to her relative - the son of a man with integrity and great faith?
What must she have been thinking when she went back and announced what happened to her?  Did she doubt that this was God's plan for her?  Did she cry out to God asking why she must leave everyone and everything she knew?  Did she try and control things so her plan for her life would work?
Genesis 24 doesn't give any hints to her denying God's plan but rather knowing that this man was blessed and a messenger from above.  It was her family that wanted her to stay longer.  To keep her.  To maybe change the plan that was so suddenly revealed. 
But they honoured her, respected her, and asked her opinion. 
Her response was simple yet so profound, "I will go."

She says yes.  She opens her hands, letting go of her hopes, and takes His.  And He guides her to a man that loves her.  And upon seeing him in the distance praying and meditating, she humbles herself.  Places the veil over her face.  She showed humility, honour, and subjection to him. 

Have I done that?  Have I honoured him?  Placed my veil over my face and held onto Him who loves me?  Have I let go and said yes?  Will I go?
Will you go?
Go to the one who loves abundantly? Our Groom?
Can we say yes to him?  Open up our hands again and tell Him we will let go and let Him lead? Let Him lead no matter what?  Because however many times we close up our hands, He has His hand open a million more times and extends it to us.   He extends it to us and we can let go again and grab onto Him.  Onto our True Steadfast and Comforting Love. 

And they called Rebekah and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" She said, "I will go." (Genesis 24:58 ESV)
 Part of One Girl's link up called Chasing History about looking at stories of women in the Bible and connecting with them.  Seeing how they relate to us today.  So here is my story today. Her story that impacted me today.  Check out Chasing History for more!

Photo credit

Friday, July 12, 2013

Present {Five Minute Friday}

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift, that's why they call it the present."
My old high school teacher used to say this quote all the time.   And when he said it we would all kind of roll our eyes at him and half heartedly finish the quote. 
I didn't see it then.   The power of this phrase.  How living in the history can cause depression and how living in the mystery can cause anxiety.  
How blessed we are for today. This very moment. 
How truly this moment is all we have.   We never know what is to come.  What will lie around the next corner of life. 
But we can be thankful for this day.   For this gift from God.  

I won a print that says, Today I am thankful
I think once we can be thankful for today, and not what we had or hope to have, that we begin to truly live.  To feel joy and live out gratitude. 
This is one of the hugest lessons I learned while being sick.  There is always much to be grateful for and the more you thank God with every breath, the more you see joy and the blessings.

This is truly the day that The Lord has made,
So let us be glad and rejoice in it. 
Whatever it may hold.  May we rejoice. 


Linking up with LisaJo and many other lovely ladies for Five Minute Friday!  Please do go and read some of the other takes on today's prompt: Present

Also I'm happy to say I am going on an adventure to the gulf islands this weekend - a wonderful gift indeed.  Look forward to chatting when I get back. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I am grateful for today...

Today I am grateful. I am grateful for today. 
That is how I start and end every entry in my gratitude journal.  And as the days continue, there is more and more I am grateful for. 
I am walking more and more. Barely in bed anymore.  Visiting with friends.  Leaving the house more.  Yet going to less and less health care appointments. 
Doing more of what I love. 
Reading and writing more.  Sitting in the sun.  Talking with friends and family.  Enjoying nature.  And dreaming of creative ideas, as I plan to start painting again soon because my arms are getting stronger!!!

Today began with me awaking from my deep sleep in almost the same position I fell asleep in - so it's like really deep now! And began my day with my devotionals and some blog reading alongside breakfast.  Then I had a lovely eucalyptus and Epsom salt bath.  Got ready for the day and then sat outside in the sun.  I didn't hold onto anyone through this entire process and got up and down a few times (including the stairs twice!). 

Then I went with my mom to pick up a package I had been expectantly waiting for (the one I talked about in this post that I won!) from Abbey at Surviving our Blessings!  And while standing in line - yes I walked into a store to get my own package! - I got talking with a lady as she commented on the marks on my back from cupping (some my Chinese Medicine Doctor does to help get my blood flowing better and relieve tension!).  She thought it was from paintballing, so I proceeded to tell her no it was from acupuncture and although looks like it hurts doesn't hurt at all!  

And that led into what I was going to acupuncture in the first place and how it has been 8 months since I had this mystery of an illness that is labelled Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  Then the guy (who was really good looking) behind her piped up and said he was in the hospital for 3 or 4 months with something mysterious too and it's been 3 years of him dealing with it still (pain and numbness are his main symptoms).  He had been given the CFS diagnosis too but wasn't satisfied with it.  He has had many doctors tell him it's all in his head despite tests showing low immunity, his heart going over 200 at times requiring an ER visit, and other things.  Anyways the line was long so we ended up talking for quite a while about all these things we had in common because of our health.  He was even in firefighting school and had to stop that because of how sick he got.  And of course we didn't exchange names or anything, which I kind of regret so I am hoping to run into him again!!  Today was the first day in a long time I felt like I could even considering dating someone, let alone liking someone again!

We then went to my GP who I haven't seen in over a month and everyone in his office was so so so happy for me.  My doctor gave me a huge hug and wanted to know about everything.  I ended up going in because both my big toes are infected (sorry if that's too much information for some of you!) because of ingrown toenails that got really bad from my compression stockings.  I haven't worn the stocking for probably 3 weeks now as my toes have been so painful but regardless of what we do, they aren't getting better.  But I can handle infected toes if it means having energy and looking forward to life!!  We also discussed slowly decreasing my sleeping medication and seeing how that goes :)
Then after my appointment, my mom and I went to pick up a prescription and get some groceries.  At the pharmacy I took my blood pressure and thankfully it isn't extremely low and my heart rate was under 100! 

 After this, we saw my sister at her new job in a deli beside the Pharmasave. She was getting picked up by a friend so she needed someone to drive her car back home.  And guess what?  I did it!!!! I haven't driven in 8 months and I drove today!  And despite being illegal (as my drivers licence expired while being pretty much bedridden), it was awesome.  And to be honest, the illegal part kind of made it all the more exciting!  (Yes I am kind of bad, but I didn't get pulled over and Thursday I plan to get my license renewed)!

And now after eating dinner on the patio, I am relaxing to the sound of birds singing all around on this peaceful summer evening. 

Oh and also some BIG news... yesterday my best friend and I signed a rental agreement on a basement suite of the most gorgeous house in an amazing community!  The landlords are so wonderful and I cannot wait to live with my best friend and gain a bit more independence again. 

So all in all - things are so very amazing!
Thanks for caring enough about my life to read about my daily events that have brought me so much joy, thanksgiving, and hope!

Today I am grateful. I am grateful for today. 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV, emphasis mine)

Monday, July 8, 2013

My Wonderful Mom

My mom is incredible.
And it is her birthday.
Her big 5-0.
But like one of her birthday cards said, "It's like getting 5 perfect 10s from the judging panel!"

She is beautiful.  Kind.  Caring.  Strong.  A disciple of the Lord.
Passionate.  Giving.  Wonderful.

She has done so much for me.  I truly believe if it weren't for her I wouldn't be feeling as good as I am now.
She has stuck by me and with me through the worst.  She has never failed to bring me wherever I need to go.  She has booked endless appointments and fought to find an answer to help me. She has always supported me and encouraged me to do what I love and make a difference in this world.

She is tender yet strong.
And I have learned so much from her.

She has never judged me or doubted the way I was feeling.  She never tried to convince me not to go on antidepressants or sleeping pills because of the stigmas attached to them.  She has always valued my opinion about what I feel is best.  She has pushed me to do more while still helping me with everything that was needed.

And today is her birthday and though it marks a big milestone I believe the milestones are just going to get bigger and better and she continues in this life.  As she walks closer and closer to The Lord.  As she gains knowledge to be a health coach and give to others - yes she is going back to school with ME! Read more about it in my latest post.  As she goes to Guatemala and sees the lives she has impacted (her wish was that everyone would donate to the Seeds of Tomorrow project instead of give her gifts!)
Watch this short video to see more about this amazing project that my dad imagined and has partnered with others to make possible!

She is amazing and I wish you could all meet her.
She is my mom and I cannot imagine life without her quiet and beautiful spirit.

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Promise of Exciting News

I don't believe in them. 

Sure some things seem to be accident or chance but I believe that God is divinely working in and through everything.  Leaving His fingerprint everywhere I look.

I don't believe that He controls everything we do or inflicts sickness, famine, or poverty on anyone.  I believe He is loving and just but the reality is that we live in a fallen world. 
Yet despite this fallen world, I believe He works through everything for good and ultimately for His glory. 
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

And although we have this beautiful promise and believe that He makes beauty from ashes and brokenness, I would never wish these past months on anyone. 
But through this time of questioning, seeking, and trusting in Him, something that may seem coincidental has happened.  But I know it wasn't. It was divinely planned and held in His hand. 
And it is exciting!

In my last post Another Step Up, I promised to share this with you soon and I cannot keep it from you any longer!  I have told pretty much everyone I have talked to (including health care professionals and a couple strangers!) since Wednesday morning when the final decision was made. 
I have so much excitement and expectant joy that I just cannot keep it in. 
And if I wouldn't of gotten sick, wouldn't of started a blog, wouldn't of had a dear friend reconnect with me because of how she could relate to things I was going through, and if she wouldn't of looked into a health coach and so kindly and generously looked for one for me too, I wouldn't of gotten connected with Amanda, my amazing health coach and cheerleader!
And if that wouldn't of happened, I probably wouldn't of ever known much about health coaching or looked into it more.  Or talked about how we wanted a Christian health coach with my dear friend. 
And I certainly wouldn't of looked up schooling for it.  Nor found a site almost accidentally called the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN). 

And however accidental it may have appeared, the more I read, the more I knew it was a divine appointment for me to be looking through that site.  Everything I read made me more and more filled with joy and a purpose.  It fit with my Christian values and core beliefs about health.
The more I read, the more I knew it was for me.  I was meant to do this.  And I could do it!
The IIN provides an online course in order to become a health coach! This is their description of the program:

The Health Coach Training Program is a yearlong online course specially designed for people who are passionate about health and wellness. Whether you’re interested in learning about nutrition, launching a meaningful new career, or even changing the world, Integrative Nutrition will empower you to transform your life and achieve your personal and professional goals.Integrative Nutrition’s comprehensive curriculum covers over 100 dietary theories and combines counseling techniques with real-world business training. Its unique nutrition philosophy takes a holistic approach to wellness and encourages students to consider relationships, work, exercise, and spirituality as essential to building good health.With Integrative Nutrition’s innovative learning model, you’ll be empowered to build a thriving health coaching practice, transform your own health and happiness, and change the world.

So after prayer, journaling, thinking and talking about this, I decided I was going to do it!  It is manageable regardless of if I continue to get better or not as it is online! 
 It truly made me come more alive the more and more I talked about it. 
And the crazy thing, my mom felt that way too!!
So as of September, we are going to embark on this journey together!!
I am so very excited and for the first time in a while cannot wait for the future for it is safe, welcoming, and new!  Full of something I am expectantly joyful and wonder filled about. 

And as this week continues to be filled with strength that surprises me, peace that overflows in my heart, and encouragement from so many, I am so grateful for all that I have gone through so I know that He has never left me and walked along with me - guiding me to this point!

And it also doesn't mean the end of nursing for me.  Just something attainable I can do and love this year and then see where God leads after that!

So here's to God moving, guiding, and divinely interweaving His goodness, love, and glory into my Story.  Into your Story. 
Here's to moving forward and upward. Keeping our eyes on Him and living our lives fully wherever He places us. 
Here's to God-sized dreams.  His plans. And His glory. 

 Photo credit: 1 // 2

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Another Step Up

I don't really even know where to begin. In my post on Sunday, Two Fingers - An Update of Sorts, I mentioned I have been feeling better and been able to do more... Well that trend is continuing!!! Praise The Lord!  It has really been incredible. I feel like me again.  And people have commented saying I look like a new person.
I believe God's healing powers have been at work in my body.  In my page, About CFS/ME, I have a list of my symptoms... At least the symptoms I had.
I look again to this list and sit in gratitude and amazement.

My fatigue is getting so much better.  I am weak but only from disuse of my body.  My muscle pain is easing (and I even got calf pain because of the walking I have been able to do!).  I still get muscles spasms but not near as many.  My hands haven't cramped up.  My post-exertional malaise is getting less and less.  Headaches are barely there. My chest pain is so much better and I don't notice palpitations anymore.  My orthostatic intolerance is still there but being controlled by Florinef and salt loading.  My feet get cool but no where near how bad they used to be.  My sensory overload is so so much better (I am currently listening to music while writing this post!  The 2 main things that still bother me are water moving around me and going through the tunnel).  I am sleeping deeply now (yes, I take 10 pills but at this point I don't care - I am sleeping!!). I can totally cope with being outside in the heat and don't soak my clothes with sweat like before.  My brain fog is almost completely gone (just sometimes have difficulty with word finding but otherwise I can read and everything!!).  I feel so much more level and am not struggling to fight depression or anxiety (thanks to peace from above and my friend Celexa).

So although I still am taking medication and having symptoms, I feel so much more like me.  Like I am being pieced back together. 

Back together into something better. 

And you know, all those symptoms and everything that has happened since the beginning of November 2012 are apart of that.  They each are a piece of what I am being made into.  A piece of my journey that will always be connected to me.  Connected to my story. To who I am.

I have been broken and am being rebuilt. 
Rebuilt into something different than before, yet the same. 

Each piece of what I have gone through is part of me.  Is part of my life story. 

A piece of ceramic in a huge mosaic.  Each piece is something of worth and meaning. And without them, the mosaic would be incomplete.  My journey wouldn't hold as true or full.

My life's artwork would be unable to tell the full story of beauty, redemption, hope, comfort, and joy. 
The light would fail to shine without the darkness by it.  The colours would be dull and flat instead of rich and textured. 
And together, every shard of broken glass, makes something beautiful.  A story that continues. A story that keeps on going. 
So with faith and hope in Him, I take another step.  Another step knowing the more pieces will fall into place. Into the pattern they were designed for by the Great Designer. 

I am filled with the comfort of knowing He has carried me in the dark and will continue to hold me as I walk upwards with my eyes on Him - on things above
And I am filled with peace and joy unexplainable.  Expectant to see what the pattern will end up being.  What the broken pieces will turn out to be.  
How the broken will be complete.  
How the broken will be redeemed. 

And how that completion and redemption will tell a story that continues. 
That wouldn't be the same without the broken. 

Photo credit 1 // 2
This stairway is in San Francisco and I cannot wait for the day when I can go and climb it! 

Also please do come back soon as I have some big news to tell you!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Captive and Captivated

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman's wife. She said to her mistress, "Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy." So Naaman went in and told his lord, "Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel." (2 Kings 5:1-4 ESV)
A story of captivity.  A story of a little girl in a place not her own.  
The story of how a foreign slave girl who was forced into captivity changed the world. 
Her mighty little story. 

This is all we hear about this girl.  What happened to her?  We don't know. But we do know that in her captivity, she was captivated by the God of he home land. 
Being carried captive wasn't a mistake.  It was part of God's universal plan.  His plan of love and providence to all man - not just Israel.  And this plan became more evident through a little girl.  A girl who must have been scared.  In a foreign place with people not her family or friends.  Probably forced to do some of the most unthinkable things.  
But she also did something unthinkable - something unthinkable that diffused the knowledge of the True and Great Physician. 

Although Naaman was a great man, he also had a great thorn in his flesh.  Not matter how hard he must have tried to cover his leprosy, people were judging him.  Moving away from him.  Thinking less and less of him.  Avoiding him - purposely and noticeably. 
Lepers were cast away.  They had to cry out that they were a leper to prevent people from coming too close to them, accidentally touching them.  Their identity fully became leper.  
And I am sure Naaman knew this.  That it was just a matter of time because Namaan the great would become the leper without a name or value.  

But this girl, who was not his servant but the servant of his mistress, took a huge step of faith.  She believed that her God could save and heal the most rejected and incurable.  That He worked mighty wonders through His prophet.  That He could do what has never been done.  That He would heal, love and include a non-Israelite. 

And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." (Luke 4:27)

And because the captive was captivated in the God of miracles, she boasted freely to a great man and nation about her Great Healer.  
The Great Healer. 
Who healed. And still does. 

So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha's house. And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean." But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, "Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, "My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, "Wash, and be clean"?" So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:9-14)

Flesh of a child came because of the heart of a child.  
Faith of a small captive girl healed a great man and gave glory to God. 


Part of One Girl's link up called Chasing History about looking at stories of women in the Bible and connecting with them.  Seeing how they relate to us today.  So here is the first story I looked at.  Check out Chasing History for more!
You can read my last one called Daughter about the woman who was healed after 12 years if you missed it!
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