Crown of Life

I’ve been in that familiar place again, battling discouragement.

My son has been battling for so long.  First eczema.  Then topical steroid withdrawal.  Now residual skin infections and rashes that don’t seem to budge for nothing.

God only knows the pain we’ve experienced.  I say “we” because there is no pain like watching your baby suffer.  God only knows the tears.  The cries.  The sheer wretchedness.

The battle rages on.

I was reminded recently that sometimes there aren’t any words.  Or at least, words that should be spoken.  I was talking to a family member about trying to find God’s purpose in suffering and was barely even able to speak my piece before being barraged with a tidal wave of insensitive, unwanted advice.  When someone has been through a trial like that, really- they just want to be heard.  I know it is in our human nature to try to give a quick answer (when there isn’t one) and sometimes trite words of wisdom do far more harm than good.  I’ve had to wrestle through anger and just sheer weariness.  So please, if you know someone going through a tough trial; just be there for them.  Don’t pretend like you know what they are going through or dish out advice.  Just listen.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15

I try to be gracious because, really, sometimes we just have no idea.  I know I can look back on some things I said and did that were horribly insensitive, just because I simply didn’t know.  Walking through heartache, especially an extended season where there’s no end in sight, has a way of bringing humility that can’t be gained any other way.

What God has been speaking to me lately has been about the crown of victory.

“I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” Revelation 3:11

If you are a believer, you have an incredible inheritance.  You are already seated in Heavenly places.  You have a crown and you are royalty.  God wants you to become an overcomer.  If we didn’t have battles to fight, Goliaths to overcome- our stories wouldn’t be very interesting, would they?  We have a crown on our heads but a sword in our hands.  There are battles to be fought, giants to be defeated. 93cc36ecef5a2ed8211337bd08e96c82

Keep your chin up.  Keep fighting.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book….Therefore we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, yet our inner self is being renewed day by day. For our light and temporary affliction is producing for us an eternal glory that far outweighs our troubles.”  Psalm 56:8, 2 Cor. 4:17


When the End isn’t the End

One major life thing I haven’t blogged about was the abrupt end of a friendship that occurred this past summer.  It wasn’t just a friendship, this person was incredibly close, more of a sister than a friend.

We have similar backgrounds and a real kinship of spirit.  Though she is wild and extroverted and I’m really quiet.  She’s the life of the party, I’m at home reading… you get the picture….We always found common ground.  She helped me to loosen up and I was a calming force in her life.

When we first met we were both very involved in the same church.  We would get together and talk, laugh, cry, pray… the friendship was a gift for both of us.

Well, life happens and we both drifted away from church and God and became more and more enabling rather then edifying.  Less “iron sharpens iron” and more gummy bear enabling gummy bear.  That and some other issues culminated in an abrupt and painful end.  There was no communication for months.

I didn’t know if it was the end.  Honestly, at first I didn’t even think much about it because I was so engrossed in caring for my son.  Around the time things went sour I was providing basically round the clock care and my son was practically an invalid.

But here and there emotions and feelings would burst forth.  Anger, regret, hurt.  Really, a grieving process.  It got to the point were I would think about her everyday and what went wrong.  I stopped focusing so much on the hurt and was able to introspect and see how I had failed her.  I had room to grow.  I should have handled things differently.

She reached out to me last week.

We met up in a quiet coffee shop.  The mood was somber.  We both had come out of very rough years.  There was a feeling of mutual muted sadness and reflection.  We were able to apologize to each other and talk openly about where it all went wrong.

Last night we got together again.  My inhibitions loosened after a glass of wine, I wrapped my arms around her and prayed over her.  I cried.  She cried.  The Holy Spirit went pumping though our bodies with his gently persistent love.

You can always come home.  

I had felt a sense of grief over the way I handled this year and the trials I went through.  I wasn’t cooperative.  I sinned and hid from God.  Coming back to a more authentic place of worship I’ve felt this grief that I had missed this chance to be sanctified through this trial.  Like dross being removed from gold in the fire.  I went into the fire and came out, cruddy dross intact.

But I’ve come to realize that God, in his grace, worked through even that.  See, I’ve always struggled with the question of, “Can I lose my salvation?  Will God still love me if….?”  This year I found my answer.  I reached new personal lows.  I did things I thought I’d never do.

God still loves me and his Spirit never left.

I now believe what I couldn’t before.  I am sealed.  I am chosen.  I am loved.  I am saved.  Period.

“And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified…  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:30&38-39

I feel a sense of grace and freedom that I never felt before.  Because I tumbled to the bottom and he caught me.

As I prayed over my friend I got a word for her.  This past year of pain and sorrow has been a process of breaking up a faulty foundation.  When a foundation is no good it needs to be dismantled, with a jackhammer or carefully inserted dynamite.  It looked like her life as she knew it had blown up and she was emerging, blinking and dazed, from the rubble.  But what God was doing was breaking up the old foundation of shame, false beliefs, generational dysfunction.  The foundation she had been struggling to grow in all her life.  A bad foundation with gnarly roots and hunks of ugly concrete and warped steel.  In the process of the mining and overturning he was preserving and exposing the gold tucked in amongst the rubble and calling her to a place of greater freedom and abundant life.


I don’t know where you’re at but I can confidently say that God loves you.  Jesus died for you.  Because of Him the end doesn’t have to be the end.

“Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls…” Isaiah 58:12

 “Dear Heavenly Father, Lord I pray that you would touch the person reading this right now.  That you would wash over them with your love.  I pray that You would make us people that repair the ruins of our lives and the precious lives around us.  We thank you that you are good, even when we can’t always see it.  You are the Ancient of Days and you are coming soon to make all things new.  Amen”

Approaching Prayer

How do we know that our prayers are being heard?  How can we make sure that our prayers are going to be answered?

A lot of it has to do with the way we approach prayer, our heart before we even start to pray.  I often let out a deep sigh and take a moment to simply remember that I am praying to my heavenly Father who loves me.  I don’t have to beg or barter.  This is my father who desires to give me good gifts.  He’s good.  He’s the very essence of love.  Even if I’ve had a bad day, his feelings towards me are that of a loving Father.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

If I’m feeling overwhelmed with my problems I need to put them in perspective.  God is all powerful.  This problem I face is nothing to the God who breathed everything into existence.  If he allows the issue, he has a reason for it.  If he allows the trial, he will enable me to stand up under it.  Every single thing he allows or blesses me with is working together for my good and to bring him glory.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

If he allows a thorn, an issue to remain (Hallelujah, sometimes he does just remove them!) it is because he sees a far bigger picture.  He knows this thing is going to allow you more room for growth.  Just like doing a set of squats under a heavy barbell. barbell It hurts, right?  It’s really hard.  You may be hobbling around for the next three days.  But you’ll get stronger.  God wants to grow our faith muscles too.

When we enter into prayer we should seek Him and not just what he can do for us.

“…your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”  Matthew 6:8

I have an adolescent son who is apparently very driven and always has his own agenda.  I’ve been known to get irritated with him because I get to feeling like every time he comes up to talk to me it is because he is trying to get something.  It’s irritating!  I’m like, “can’t you just simply spend time with me?”

I think about that often when I pray.  Yes, of course, we can and should bring our requests before God.  “you have not, because you ask not.” James 4:2  But I’d imagine that God is going to want us to approach him out of a desire to be close to him as well.  I may be bringing a laundry list of prayer needs and wants before the throne but first and foremost I should be approaching the throne of God because I love him and desire to be with him.

I only pray to the Father.  I know some people will pray and address the Holy Spirit or pray directly to Jesus…but I stick to a biblical model.  Jesus only prayed to the Father.  He instructed us to pray to the Father.  Through Jesus we have direct access to the Father in a way that Old Testament saints couldn’t even have dreamed of.  We’re not tip-toeing into the Holy of Holies hoping we don’t mess up and get struck dead.   The O.T. priests would literally wear bells into the Holy of Holies and if the bells stopped jingling there would be people waiting outside the curtain to pull their body out by an attached rope.  But the way has been opened up through the blood of Jesus.  When he died that thick veil was literally torn in two by invisible hands. torn We have access.  It’s amazing.  Let’s approach our heavenly Father directly and with a sense of reverence that is only fitting because we are approaching this God that is  indescribably powerful, amazing, jaw-dropping… yet he loves us and cares for us.

When we take a few moments to consider who we are actually about to engage, our hearts will be prepared to pray in a manner that is pleasing to God.  We’re likely to encounter him in new ways and see amazing answers to prayer.


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.

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

Enduring through Trials

I was thinking yesterday of the things that have helped me weather the toughest thing I have ever gone through- my son’s extended and very difficult skin condition.  A quick rundown- he was on very potent steroid creams (black box label kind of thing) and we realized that they had basically destroyed his health.  Now we are trying to help him heal from the damage.

God taught me a lesson years ago about the importance of gratitude.  I had heard a radio program where the author Ann Voskamp was interviewed about her book, One Thousand Gifts.  She talked about how gratitude had pulled her out of depression and totally changed her life.  I didn’t even read the book but I was deeply impacted by that one hour interview.

It totally remolded my approach to life.  Every day I do look for the good and offer up thanks and praise to God.  It’s so ingrained in me that it’s my automatic “go-to” response.  There’s been many, many times where my son was crying in pain or just being negative about his (admittedly, terrible) circumstances.  I comfort him but am quick to guide the conversation back to the things in his life that are “good and perfect gifts”.  I truly, firmly believe that thankful attitude has helped us both get through this- and with a good measure of joy.  21557760_10159385235250074_8017605279174650947_n

The biggest battle we face is between our own ears.

We need to take in the truth and renew our minds every single day.  I don’t always have time to read the Bible but I do play the local radio station, Faith Radio 900, every day.  It’s got great biblical teaching that really helps me stay on track.

God is also speaking to me about taking every thought captive and casting down vain imaginations.  When a thought enters our mind that shouldn’t be there, we take action to cast it down.  That’s much easier to do when you are actively filling your mind with the truth of God’s Word.

I also pray frequently about the other battleground- my heartWordly wisdom would tell you garbage like “follow your heart” or “the heart wants what it wants”.  The Bible has this to say in Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”  If we blindly follow our whims, impulses, desires AKA our “hearts” we are setting ourselves up for disaster.  We can’t always trust our feelings or even understand them.  Not only that, but feelings are so fickle and quick to desert us after leading us into a mess. 

I pray often that God would give me a soft, malleable heart.  “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

We especially need to pray over our own hearts during times of testing.  The 3rd chapter of Hebrews talks about how the Israelites hardened their hearts in their time of wilderness testing, and the tragic outcome; “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.”‘

What this says is that our times of testing and trying are our times of refinement.  We all come to God and are completely accepted, however, we all have junk that needs to be dealt with.  Junk that would surface at the worst possible time and destroy or hinder our testimony.  If we are faithful to soften our hearts and work with God through tough times, there is a promised period of rest on the other side.  God’s rest- which includes blessings, peace, joy, etc., but this also means that if we don’t cooperate we will never reach these “green pastures” that God wants to lead us too.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

So, whatever you’re facing today, don’t give up.  Press in.  Follow hard after God.

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Suffering and Heaven

18920650_10158894564500074_8516742202078951748_nYesterday I took just Gabe out shopping.  I don’t often get to spend alone time with him and I was reminded what an amazing kid he is.  He has such a tender soul.  He wants to run an orphanage when he grows up… but he also wants to drive a Ferrari, so… 😉

We had a fun time, just the two of us.  On the way home he kept asking me about Heaven and what it’ll be like when Jesus comes back.

I explained to him that Jesus will appear in the sky with great glory, riding the clouds.  That every eye will see him, even those that pierced him.  That we will rise to meet him and be changed, to be like him.  That there will be no more sickness, death, pain…

I got choked up and so did he.  He said, “Mom, I can see him coming.”  I said, “honey that’s the Holy Spirit showing you that it’s true.”

You see, just the day before he had been in a lot of pain.  In between tears and sobs he had asked, “if God loves me, why am I suffering so much?”

The conversation, and the sweet presence of God, was something we both desperately needed.  Something that I need more of.

In my own suffering I tend to turn away.  I feel like I can’t take anymore disappointment at times, without losing hold of my faith.  But yesterday, it was like He peeled back the curtain obscuring eternity and gave us both a glimpse of our future and the end of suffering.  I felt a glimpse of the eternity and wonder awaiting us, and looking over at Gabe’s tear-filled eyes, I know he did too.

I know that Gabriel is being molded in ways I can’t even begin to comprehend.  I know he has a huge call on his life.  Even at the age of 8, there is a level of tenderness, empathy and hunger for knowledge of God that is amazing…. probably as the result of all the suffering he’s had to endure.

We can got lost in the hardships we face but we need to remember that life here is short and eternity is long.  We can’t choose the trials but we can choose how we face them.  Our God loves us.




So I did go in on Tuesday to see where my thyroid was at and to test for the presence of anti-nuclear anti-bodies (which indicates the potential presence of an auto-immune disease).  I had my first strange experience of having a doctor that is (probably!) younger than me.  I am 29 but she looked about 25!

It is also strange that now we can see test results online with only google to help us figure out what it means.  My ANA test was positive.  I haven’t heard back from the Doctor though.  So I am in the limbo period.  I’ll probably need more tests to figure out exactly what is up.  0e1407027_waiting-series-graphic

Today I am feeling just exhausted.  I am pretty bummed because this has affected my quality of life so much for most of my 20’s.  Summing up much of the last decade in my life I would use one word- tired.  And with three kids I can’t exactly nap or sleep in.

My little guy Gabe is going through the ringer with his eczema.  He’s been having trouble sleeping every night and keeping us up too.  I let him stay home on Tuesday because he had been up much of the night and scratched himself raw.

So we are at a real low point.  It’s been pretty brutal.  It kills us to see him suffering day after day.  He is going to see a specialist next week and hopefully we’ll get some answers/help with this.

In times like this I am grateful though for my husband.  He is such a good dad and a loving partner.  Having that support through tough times is everything.

We are trying to see glimmers of hope through this.  It’s been tough though.  Not gonna lie.  We get really frustrated that God hasn’t yet answered our prayers for Gabe.  We’ve started wrapping him up in seran-wrap and packing tape at night so he doesn’t scratch all his skin off at night!  Almost funny, like a little plastic wrap mummy.

I don’t know for sure if I have lupus yet.  Obviously, there is something auto-immune going on with me- causing the fatigue and hair loss.  Hopefully I’ll have more answers soon.

So it is what it is.  We could definitely use prayers, especially for Gabe.