Tuesday, December 10, 2013
And the angel told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you. And the Holy Thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God.” What an amazing, what an impossible message the angel brought to a young girl! But Mary looked at the angel and said, “Be it unto me according to your word.” And so the life of Jesus began as it would end, with the impossible. When he was a grown man he would say to his disciples, “For human beings it is impossible. For God nothing is impossible.” Possible things are easy to believe. The Glorious Impossibles are what bring joy to our hearts, hope to our lives, songs to our lips. -Madeleine L’Engle
As hard as I've tried my head and my heart have been derailed in my feeble efforts to keep focus on the truths of this Advent season. This is the week of hope. Stuart McAllister wrote "...the difference between optimism (short term and easily overcome) and hope (eternal and anchored) is where they are rooted. One leans on human effort; the other rests in God and God’s promises." Thank God nothing rests in my tries that often fail but rather in His promises that are sure.
I'm sitting in my bedroom against a pile of pillows with a heated throw over my aching legs. It is freezing outside, and I've come from the local hospital and a page of blood work that would make your eyes cross. No one at the hospital had seen some of the labs the PANDAS doctor had requested. Once again, I am the rare patient trying to share some of my journey and raise awareness while the nurses drain 13 full tubes of blood from my blue arm. They watched my face turn more and more ashen as I slumped in the seat but urged them to keep going because a good vein is a treasure that can't be wasted. I drove myself which seems like a great idea on my way somewhere and is always a bad idea after I've been exposed to people and places and their smells. Add my anxiety on top of mast cells and losing so much blood, and I could barely lift one leg in front of the other. Thank God for a handicap parking tag.
When I safely made it home, and I crawled into bed the sun in my west facing window peaked out from the grey clouds. My heart swelled with gratitude and tears slipped down my cheeks. There are a hundred shining moments like these day after day. I can't take any of this for granted. The commonplace to so many are glorious impossibles for my family and I. We are learning to live again. It will never be like it was, but it is so much better than it has been. I'm working with a counselor on the nitty gritty parts of life as a chronically ill person. I am finding ways to join real life again without ruining the progress I've made. Friday night this meant I braved all the people and perfume and cologne to attend the first part of Danica's Kindergarten concert. I sat in the back row wearing a mask, and my dad left with me after her part was complete. Sunday, our family was blessed to attend "A Very Canton Christmas" with our Pee Paw and Kee Wee and then go out to dinner together. Again I wore a mask. What I thought would make myself and others so self conscious actually was okay. My girls were understanding and not embarrassed but instead so glad I was there with them. I spent yesterday weak and worn, but it was so worth it!
When I reflect on this past year I can scarcely believe I survived all the trauma of my three surgeries and hospitalization for adrenal failure. I am in awe of the complete eradication of my abdominal pain from the endometriosis. I stumble when I talk about the risk and cost of having my fusion hardware removed only to be completely pain free in my neck now. And then there is the shunt. Oh how I fought getting a shunt because of my fear of failure and revision and especially the big cuts and having something hard and foreign in me. God orchestrated my suffering in such a way that I had no choice. I could not have continued living with the torturous pressure and loss of vision. It was your love that showed the way. Now I am headache free! All of these changes in my health are glorious impossibles. I am out of bed most of the time now with quiet resting from fatigue and continuing EDS symptoms that I will always deal with. I am hopeful about the coming new year. I have lists of things I want to do with my girls and share with my family that we never thought I might be able to do again. I am falling in love with Dan again. I never thought I could love him more, but without the constant pain I am able to see clearly the beauty of his commitment to me during these long years and his faithful service to all of us. I want to spend time with him too. Thank God for the strength and grace to endure. Do we dare be excited for the future?
i was listening to a message the other day specifically addressing stewardship and God's expectations of us in regards to our finances. This is one area that continues to seem impossible to both Dan and I. There's no Suze Orman or Dave Ramsey advice that will rescue us from the great cost of my sickness. Looking forward to 2014 we hope and pray we could go a year without surgery of any kind. Still, we already have big appointments for Danica in Cincinnati in January and the cardiologist for me and once all this blood is back I have to save enough to have another consult with the PANDAS doctor. Instead of Christmas Dan is getting tires for his commute to Fairlawn every day in this dicey weather. My car is making the worst noise and the tires are bald. We stay frozen even if the money is finally saved because we are afraid to spend it on tires and then need it for prescriptions or a trip to a doctor. As I have felt more well I have been back to my stacks of bills. I started writing $10 checks to some thinking if I cycle every three months I could at least keep people from suing us. There is one creditor that is at attorney stage. Some days I am trusting and peaceful and some I am paralyzed with the not knowing how we will get out from under all this and particularly the guilt that my family is suffering debt and begging on my account. The preacher on the radio was talking about how everything is really God's. He gives some of us much and some of us little. How we handle His gifts speak to so much more than actual money. Except for when I'm opening bills or ignoring collection calls I feel nothing but blessed . . . even rich. When I was sitting in my doctor's office last Friday for my 7th Pen G injection my dear doctor, who has journeyed all this way with me, reminded me of the faithfulness of God. As an outsider watching this story unfold she can see how we have never gone without what we needed, not only our day to day needs but also support for medical care. I realized as I left if I had not continued to write here and share over and over the big and little ways God has loved us through you He would not have the glory He has received because of it. I have only ever asked for enough. I realize freedom from this thing that threatens my peace and joy may never be God's plan. Still, I have to dig deep and believe if He can straighten Danica's neck and heal her brain and pay all her bills and then tenderly guide me to each one of my surgeons and heal me time after time when I've been sliced and sewn He can still remove the bondage we are under. I don't have a headache anymore and He owns the cattle on a thousand hills.
I'm asking for my prayer warriors to lift our family in prayer as we anticipate a new year. Won't you thank Him with us for all the seemingly impossible things He's accomplished in us and for us? Please ask for wisdom as we try to face the debt. We need to know how to move forward with continuing care within our means and still pay something to our dozens of medical creditors. We need to know if fixing our old white car is the right thing to do. In the past I've been so sick I was willing to just sell it, but now I am able to drive myself to most of my local appointments, and it seems repairing the issues is wise. We just don't know how to move with big decisions because we are so accustomed to fighting for the day to day. Please pray for our family as we adjust to me being more well. It changes everything. I am in many ways reentering the family life and as joyful as it is there is also a friction because I was in all practical ways absent from so many things. Our marriage needs strength. Our parenting needs intention. We need to find an outlet for all the good we've received to turn this story into something bigger than just us.
I know many of you are facing similar struggles. I want to encourage you. Whatever you are staring down that seems impossible give it over to God. Nothing is impossible. I was the prodigal who came home. I have seen enough healing to know God is still working miracles. I have seen food appear on our doorstep when we were hungry. I have seen a check show up in my mailbox before a judgment was given. I have watched God lead us with the light of love. Don't give up. Live in the hope He gives each of us that He is working all things for our good. Grab the shimmering moments of Grace, because it is ALL Grace. That's the Christmas story.
Posted by Monica Kaye at 6:18 PM