Change

If you’ve read my blog over this past year you’ll know my son, Gabriel, went through a really awful withdrawal from topical steroids.  It was so bed he was basically on bedrest for months.  Basically he had gotten addicted to very strong steroids and it made “eczema” spread all over his body and affected his entire system.  I really don’t want to post pictures but google “topical steroid withdrawal” and you’ll get this gist of how horrific and debilitating this condition is.

But now 11 months in and he is so much better.  

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My Little Goof

He’s not 100% yet but he’s come leaps and bounds from where he was.  So much so that we got a call from his school principal saying “Gabe’s looking great!  So… we really want him back in full school days.”  I told her it’d be a rough adjustment but we’d try.

Yesterday morning when I woke him up early it was so tough.  Because his adrenal glands were so messed up from the steroid usage, he has struggled horribly with insomnia.  We’ve (up till now) let him sleep in because he sleeps so poorly at night and for whatever reason slept better during morning hours.

But he has been making major strides so my husband and I agreed it might actually be helpful to try to force his body back into a more regular sleep schedule.  The first morning was rough but he actually did sleep a lot better last night and woke up much easier this morning.

It’s a huge step for him and milestone.  He still has a ways to go before he is 100% healed but we are so thankful for the progress he has made. 11825

A lot of times in life the path to healing is bumpy and hard.  There are times we need to push out of our comfort zones to reach the next level.  Change is hard but often necessary.

As Gabe’s loving parents there have been times where we comforted him and carried him (ha literally) but on this journey we’ve increasingly pushed him out of his comfort zone.  As he’s gotten better we’ve adjusted his treatment accordingly.  As he grew wings we’ve metaphorically pushed him out of the nest.  Times where we knew he was capable but it was his mind that was stuck.

How many of us are perfectly capable of making necessary changes but are still stuck in old patterns?  We were too sick at one point but we’re stronger now but still being held back purely in our minds? 

“Dear Jesus, you know our hurts, our pasts, our fears.  I pray that for all of us that you’d help us to break free from restrictive and sickly thought patterns.  Help us to embrace wholeness in every area.  Help us to find our wings and courage and fresh hope and get out of our comfort zones.  For your glory.  Amen.” 

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Struggle Bus 2018

I was reading one of those cheesy diply slideshows this morning and saw this… strugglebusI literally laughed out loud.  “Riding the struggle bus into the New Year” could be the theme of the day.

Last night after putting the kids to bed my husband and I very unwisely watched a show about urban legends and serial killers.  We were spooked.  Plus there was a giant super moon (which yes, I do think adds an extra touch of crazy to the air).  Plus it has been absolutely, ridiculously cold with temps getting to 20 degrees below zero. 

I was drifting off in bed last night when I sat bolt upright in a panic, thinking I’d forgotten my dog outside in the extreme cold.  I raced down the stairs in a panic to find him lounging on the couch.

It took an hour for the adrenaline to wear off so I could fall asleep.  Then the kids kept waking up and everyone had weird dreams.  Not a great night.

It was so hard getting everyone up for the first day back at school after break.  Like, getting dragged behind the struggle bus hard.

I told my husband (a brilliant insight) that we should be more careful about what we put into our minds (especially before bed! especially on a full moon night!!).  He agreed.

It’s just basic, basic stuff.  Don’t put junk into your mind.  Also, don’t live in Minnesota unless you are a certain kind of crazy. MN cold

Tonight we’re going to skip Netflix and do a devotional before bed.

My big (ok, pretty much only) New Years resolution was to get really close to God this year.  I know it’s not going to happen by accident and I am going to be opposed by the enemy.

Anyways I hope all of you had a less eventful return back to normalcy after the Holidays.  I’m just going to close with a couple of verses, which are very applicable to my latest misadventures.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say–but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”–but not everything is constructive…. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” 1 Cor. 10:23 Philippians 4:8

Hyper-Hyper…?

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Joel, I know everyone picks on you.  I’m so sorry please don’t cry yourself to sleep in your mansion on your piles o’ cash.

A subject I’ve done a lot of thinking about is the so called hyper-grace movement in the church.  When the author of “Jesus+Nothing=Everything” and one time darling of the movement gets caught in an extramarital affair and Jen Hatmaker comes out in support of gay marriage… you know there’s deception going on.

But swing too wildly in the other direction and you’re quickly labeled (sometimes rightfully) as a “Pharisee”.  Case in point I once had a fellow believer contact me to try to explain why celebrating Holidays was actually wrong because they have their beginnings in paganism.  Ok, so there probably wasn’t an evergreen tree front and center in the manger.  And I’m guessing God didn’t forget to include the role of a 6 foot Easter bunny in the resurrection story… but, is it sinful? pharisee-e1453784810777

I recently heard a story told by pastor John Bevere and he tells how God essentially made him read John 14:15- “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” over and over until he “got” it.   Jesus isn’t saying, “If you really love me you’re going to keep the law and avoid messing up.”  He’s saying, in essence, that by loving him we are keeping the commandments.

We don’t need to worry if we are hyper-grace or hyper-law if we are hyper-love.

Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

That’s why if we are having trouble following Jesus or loving people we need not try harder or dumb down our theology.  We need to pray to be filled up with the supernatural love that comes only from God.  Love for God and love for our fellow man.  If we are filled with this supernatural love and walking in the power of the spirit we will be able to avoid the sin that would defeat us.  Even if we put up a Christmas tree or buy our kids Easter eggs.

Plus I think the World doesn’t need anymore compromised believers or worse; angry saints.  The world needs believers that bubble over with the wonderful love of God.

“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ…” Ephesians 5:2

“Lord Jesus, please help us to lay aside our petty differences and minor offenses in order to become one body.  Lord I ask that you would flood our hearts with your pure, supernatural love and so enable us to live life in a manner worthy of our calling and show the World your true nature.  We love you.  Amen.”

Counting Blessings

I realized I’ve done a lot of writing about the challenges I’ve faced but have been pretty mum on all the blessings.   A part of me is reticent to share because I don’t want to make anyone else feel bad if perhaps I have a blessing that they are still praying for. 23844788_10159728763310074_8368755741618767112_n

But that’s a silly reason to keep quiet when God ought to be glorified.

We’ve had a touch of the flu and I kept Gabe home today (which, if I’m not totally coherent, that’s why) We had to go out to get my oldest son’s medication so we had plenty of time to talk and be together, which I ❤ so much.

Gabe asked me, “Mom, what can I do to be closer to Jesus?”

I’m not sure why but I launched into explaining how Jesus is our shepherd, that he looks out for us.  I was overcome with emotion and the Holy Spirit and had to take breaks so I wouldn’t burst into tears driving down highway 94 and run into a semi.

I said, ” Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  The Bible says he guides and comforts with his rod and staff.  He uses the staff to guide us where we should go and he uses the rod to beat off any predators that would try to rip us apart.”  I’m not 100% on the biblical accuracy there but I think it’s the basic gist of it.

Well, talking to my son about Jesus was so moving for me and the presence of God filled both of us in such a sweet and tender way.

Jesus is the good shepherd and he laid down his life for us.

Last year when I had to quit my job to take care of Gabe, my husband got a raise at work that completely made up for the lost income.

When we got married we decided that it’d be best if I stayed home with the kids.  God has steadily provided an increase in my husbands income so we’ve never hurt for that decision financially.

Throughout the years we’ve tithed and tried to be generous but I think we’d both agree that God has blessed us abundantly beyond what we deserve.

Another blessing, nothing less than a miracle- is my relationship with my mom.  God saved her out of severe alcoholism.  For years our relationship was incredibly strained and I never thought she’d be able to get sober.  Now she has been sober for years and we are incredibly close.  She is such a blessing to me and my family.  She is happy and joyful and such an example of godliness.  She is truly a trophy of God’s grace.

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Mom, my daughter, and I a few years ago

All this just to illustrate how God is a good father and takes care of his children.  Thanksgiving has come and went another year but our hearts can still brim with thankfulness for the good things he’s done. aaaa

 

Face like Flint

I just got kicked out of an eczema support group on Facebook.

I was acting as sort of an awareness raising vigilante for the dangers and prevalence of topical steroid addiction amongst those who suffer with eczema.

Like, “LOOK!  Guys I have the answer.  You can get completely better!!  Your steroids have been causing your worsening condition all along.  Now you just need to go through this hellish withdrawal!!”

Obviously I wasn’t met with much enthusiasm.  The people who administrate the group are familiar with TSW and for whatever reason, have decided against it.  Not only that, but because of the suffering associated with it, they label it as “dangerous” and “misguided” and the people, like myself, who try to sound the alarm, are promptly booted from the group.

My reasons for wanting to warn people is simply that I wish someone had warned us before our level of dependence on steroids got as bad as it did.  We could have avoided so much pain and suffering for our son.

But the road is a hard one, no doubt.  And many try for a time, before going back to steroids and concluding that TSW doesn’t work.

I’ve gotten some unexpected feedback sharing my blog within my TSW support group.  People commending my husband and I for doing a good job.  It is great, in a sense, mostly because it’s vindication.  When we entered into this, it was going against medical advice.  It was going it alone.  It was entering into some pretty bleak and abject suffering.  We felt very defensive about our decision because while we knew we were doing the right thing, we felt a lot of heat over it.

But at this point it is finally paying off.  My son is getting better.  There is a spark of vitality and health that strengthens every single day.

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He was thrilled to get a McChicken before school~

In our case we found the answer to our prayers, to our searching, but it meant pressing through a whole lot of pain and difficulty.  “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Luke 9:51  Another version says, “He set his face like flint.”  Jesus knew full well what he was getting into and he pressed into it.  He was resolute.  Because he knew the joy set before him.  He knew the end game.

 

My husband and I never wavered, not once.  We knew that God had led us to this point.  We knew Gabe had to go through this withdrawal.  We were of one mind, and there is so much power in that.  Gabe, young as he is, he understood and was 100% on board too.

We’ve gone through a pretty extreme trial, but, we all go through stuff.  We all deal with pain.  That’s why we need hope.  We need to know the end game.  We need to know our Shepherd.

Often, the only way out is through.  We have to be resolute.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2-3

I know there are those who don’t get their healing.  At least, not here on this earth.  But we know the end game.  We know in whom we have believed.  We know this life isn’t the “be all, end all”.  It’s like a cosmic waiting room we bide our time in until we can get to the real deal.  And hardships help to wake us up to the eternal consequences and weightiness of how we live our lives here while we wait for the children of God to be revealed.” Romans 8:19

Temple of the Holy Spirit

One focus of this blog is supposed to be on health.  I haven’t really addressed that in awhile partly because it has been so back-burnered in my life.

Lupus and other auto-immune disorders run in my family.  My paternal Grandma, Margaret Terrell, had parents that fled the hardships of the potato famine in Ireland.  Then she went through extreme hardship enduring the Great Depression as a girl.  She had 14 children and succumbed to lupus and cancer at the relatively young age of 64.

All of my aunts have auto-immune issues.  My older sister has lupus and R.A.  My aunt has done a lot of research and believes that the hardships endured in our family caused a genetic mutation and predisposition to auto-immune disease.

A few years back I was feeling awful and had a lupus test done.  The results showed elevated nuclear antibody activity, evidence my body was attacking itself, but not high enough to be in the “lupus” category.

So this thing is just simmering away in my DNA.  I feel so strongly that I have a responsibility in determining how this is going to play out.  I’ve made many lifestyle changes in order to feel better.  When I take care of myself and minimize inflammation in my body by avoiding gluten, carrageenan, soy lecithin, and preservatives, I feel really good.

But in my role as a caregiver there has been much stress and exhaustion.  My son often can’t sleep at night so I am up frequently with him.

I’ve gone back to drinking way too much coffee and eating stuff I shouldn’t.  Snickers and Reeses cups have become a major staple in my daily diet.

And I feel flipping awful.

The past few days I’ve been feeling like an extra from the Walking Dead, and looking like one.  I’ve had an autoimmune-feverish feeling.  Not good.  a_4x

I was lying in bed a couple night ago just stressing about all of this.  Thinking I needed some huge game plan to save myself from this awful state I’ve gotten into.  But the Holy Spirit spoke to me about just going back to common sense things to take care of myself.  Yes, I need the Holy Spirit because adulting is hard and common sense at times eludes me.

I don’t need 5 cups of coffee a day.  I need more nourishing meals and less Halloween candy.  I need to rest.  Just basic stuff.  I feel 100% that if I treat my body well I will pull out of this.

I also give myself grace because it isn’t all “my fault”.  Being a caretaker is just tough.  When you’re exhausted and stressed it makes more sense (in your fatigued mind) to wash down a snickers bar with espresso so you can power through the day than taking the time to eat a proper meal.

And you can do that occasionally but when it becomes a daily lifestyle, it’s only a matter of time before the crash and burn becomes inevitable.

Our bodies are amazing instruments that God has given us.  We need to treat them accordingly and honor them in a way that is befitting the living, breathing temple of the Holy Spirit.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Cor. 6:19-20

We all face hard things.  Sometimes it’s written in your DNA and you feel like it’s a life sentence.  But the human body is truly an amazing creation.  We are wired to heal.  Whatever you’re facing, don’t give up.  Take care of yourself.  Do your best and God will honor those efforts.

 

Conviction vs. Condemnation

Last Sunday I had a really great day.  My daughter and I met up with my mom and her husband at the Mall of America.  I have so much fun with them.  We walk around and giggle and act silly.

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Shiloh had my mom in a death grip!

We bought chocolate at Lindt and had fresh guacamole and chips.  It was just a really great day and a much needed break from the daily grind.

As I lay in bed that night thinking about the day, I started feeling guilty.  Why?  No good reason.  I just felt almost like the day had been so fun and easy that I must be missing something.

As I lay there thinking, I felt like the Holy Spirit reminded me that God is the source of every good and perfect gift.  I shouldn’t feel some weird, misplaced guilt over having a light-hearted day.  “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17

Yes we should be fighting the good fight and fight against the desires of the flesh.  But it’s ok to laugh and have fun and enjoy the gifts that God richly provides.

I was folding laundry the other night when condemnation struck again.  I dump all my family’s laundry on my bed and sort and fold my way through the giant pile every night.  For whatever reason my mind always wanders to dumb things I’ve said and done in the past.  I was going over those same stupid mistakes and feeling the familiar waves of condemnation rolling over me and weighing down on me.  So much so that I just layed my head, somewhat pathetically, on my bed and buried my face in the clean laundry.

The voice of the Holy Spirit interrupted this little condemnation sesh with an abrupt, “You could have joy right now.”  Like, HELLO, you need to reclaim this time.  Stop falling into the old trash heap and letting the enemy beat you down.

The condemnation I was feeling was not from God at all.

Another instance happened today.  I had responded a bit snippily to a woman on my TSW support page.  It was a post from a woman who was only a week or so into topical steroid withdrawal and wailing about “when will this end?!?!?!  Give me at time frame and it better be days!!!”  I was incredulous and irritated because most of the people in the group have been suffering horribly for a long time and yet maintain a positive attitude.  Then she promptly responded even more snippity-ish (yes, I’m making up a word!) and back and forth it went.

Later that day when I was singing worship songs when I got the feeling I needed to apologize to this woman.  “Hmm….  That’s an interesting thought.  noooLet me file that away for later.”  Then later then day when I sat down to read my Bible and pray, I closed my eyes and BAM! “You need to apologize to her.”

I knew it was conviction from the Holy Spirit.

Did I want to apologize?  No.  Is it something God would want me to do?- Humble myself and be gracious..?  Yes.

I sucked it up and wrote her a quick message to apologize for being harsh and that I wished her well on her TSW journey.  I let it go and went back to praying.

When God convicts it is not to bury us alive in feelings of shame and worthlessness.  It is always quick and to the point and it comes with a solution to make it right.  In this case I just needed to apologize for my part.  Because that’s what I responsible for.

The good news is that when we do respond quickly to conviction it brings us closer to the heart of God.  Conversely, when we recieve the spirit of condemnation from the enemy, it does absolutely nothing to help us become more Christ-like.

We all need to be aware of the thought patterns we have in our lives that may be building us up or bringing us down.

       “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”

Proverbs 23:7