Saturday, August 4, 2018

Book Review: Hope of Nations by John S. Dickerson


This book is a must read for Christians everywhere, but very specifically, for Western Christians.  John S. Dickerson is an investigative journalist turned pastor and author.  He makes some compelling arguments in his book, Hope of Nations.

We are in what is coined a "Post-Truth" era.  We are also in a Post-Christian era. For hundreds of years, America prospered under mostly Christian leadership.  Colleges and universities like Harvard and Oxford were established for higher Christian education.  Those same institutions are now nothing but indoctrination stations.  A young, impressionable college student goes in, and a Post-Truth, Post-Christian, indoctrinated young adult comes out.

The most frightening statistic in this book (to me personally) is that in the year 2020, 18-29 year olds will favor Socialism over Capitalism by 19%.  That age group will also be the largest voting block in the 2020 elections.  Socialists! Think Karl Marx.  Stalin.  Hitler.  Yes, Hitler.

So what exactly is a Post-Truth society?  Well, "Every year the experts at Oxford Dictionaries pick a word of the year.  Recently, they chose Post-Truth as the single word that best summarizes American and European culture now.  They noted that our society now defines truth by feelings rather than facts." (from the book, page 13-14, emphasis mine.)  So whatever you FEEL, you act on.  Post-Truth thinkers will define what is "right" by whatever they may be feeling at the time. 

In a Post-Truth society, there is no absolute truth.

That. Terrifies. Me.  I don't know about you.

(I will be writing more blog posts about this book, but since I received this book at no cost in return for my fair and honest review this is my official review.)

Okay, so what do we do about all this?  If you are a Christian, do you go bury your head in the sand?  Do you act like Chicken Little and run around telling everyone the sky is falling?  Absolutely not.  We stand.  We stand on the undeniable reality of the Word of God.  We root ourselves and our families in the Truth of Scripture.  We teach our children the way they should go.

Most of all, we need to PRAY.  Pray for our nation, its leaders, and its youth.  We need to LOVE everyone, all of the time, even (especially?) those who persecute us.  We stay calm, we do good, and we STAND fearlessly for our Faith.

Beloved, now more than ever we need to be attending church, gathering with like-minded people and praying.  We need to SHOW people that Christians aren't bigoted, racist, homophobic Bible thumpers who spew hatred for those unlike ourselves.

If you are a believer in the God who created this world and His incarnate son, Jesus Christ, you need to read this book. Not so that you can be afraid, but so that you can be prepared to fight.

You can purchase this book on amazon here or at your local Christian book store.


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Book Review: A Better Mom by Ruth Schwenk


I struggled with this review, I'll be honest.  Usually, when I receive a book to review, it's because I was really interested in the book, and it sounded like it was going to be really good.  Well, this book is okay.  It's not bad.  It's not great.  It's okay.  I truly don't like leaving unfavorable reviews, but it is what I signed up for: to review a book, good, bad or ugly.

This book would be really good for new, first time moms. If you have other children already, or have been at this mom thing for a while, it's kind of basic. Things that you've probably learned already.

One chapter I did really appreciate was chapter 13, titled, "Motherhood is Robbing Me of _____".  I did (and sometimes still DO) struggle with this. Personal time.  Working at a crazy awesome job outside of the house. Adult conversations.

I have friends in many walks of life, and in many different places of parenting.  I have some friends that are just starting their married lives, and don't have children yet. I have some friends who have younger, and still more that are empty nesters.  One thing that I think we all have in common, if we are stay at home moms, is that we get irritated when people make comments like, "You're just a mom?"  Or, "So you don't work?" And then there's my personal favorite: "What do you DO all day?" (Yes, someone actually asked me that!)

If you are a mom, you KNOW that you are working 24/7!  If you are a homeschooling mom, you're adding to that.  And then there are my heroes:  the stay at home, homechooling, work from home and sometimes outside the home moms. I can't imagine.  I homeschool, but if I HAD to work another job (other than my Mom Gig!), I'd be in a world of hurt.

So it's easy to think of ourselves as "just" moms.  But we are SO much more.  We are moms, spiritual advisors, playmates, therapists, nurses, taxi drivers, disciplinarians, comforters, boo-boo fixers, cooks, bakers, house cleaners... the list goes on and on.

If you know a new, first time mom, she might benefit from this book.  As a whole, however, I can't really recommend it.

You can purchase this book on amazon or find it at your nearest Christian bookstore.

Disclaimer:  I received this book at no cost in return for my fair and honest review.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

What Is Your Yardstick?



I read an article in the Reader's Digest recently by Clayton M. Christensen, excerpted from the Harvard Business Review. The last point he made really struck me:

"Choose the right yardstick: Don't worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. This is my final recommendation: Think about the metric by which your life will be judged, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success." {emphasis mine}

And for some reason, I don't think he was talking about financial or personal success. I think he was talking about something near and dear to me: helping others. At the end of time, when we all stand before God and give account for our decisions, do you really think He will want to hear about the amazing investment you made in the stock market? Do you think He will want to know how many outfits you had? How many properties you acquired? How many speeches you made? How powerful you became at work?

I don't think so. I think He will want to hear how you dealt with your friend who needed you when her marriage was falling apart.

I think He will listen with rapt attention when you tell Him how you brought groceries to a newly single mom who couldn't feed her children.

I think He will want to hear about the elderly woman you helped by taking her to the grocery story because she cannot drive any longer.

I think He would LOVE to know about how you gave of your time and talent to help those in need. You can't take things with you. You CAN take relationships.

Our lives are not meant to be lived in isolation. We are a communal people. (Not like commune, like community!)

Acts 20:34-35 says, "You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

When I started writing, it was mostly for therapeutic reasons. I needed an outlet for my frustration, pain...for all of my feelings, good and bad. I never imagined what it would turn into: a vehicle to meet amazing people from all over the world, a place where I can encourage and be encouraged, and most importantly, something that has opened my eyes to the true meaning of the body of Christ.

The body of Christ is not the same as the church. It used to be. The body of Christ can be anywhere. And the body has many parts. Many of you have become the hands and feet of Christ in MY life, and if not in mine, in others'. Thank you for that.

The body of Christ consists of people who love God and want to do what's important to Him. And that is taking care of people. What did Jesus say was the most important commandment? Love the Lord with ALL of your heart, ALL of your mind, ALL of your soul, and ALL of your strength. And what came next? Love your neighbor as yourself.

Who is your neighbor?

Anyone you come in contact with.

How do you treat yourself? Are you fed? Are you clothed? Are you warm? Are you in good company? Are you content? Are you safe?

So should our neighbors be. What can we do today to love our neighbors as ourselves?


Friday, March 9, 2018

Time Passes On



“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it.  The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” Earl Nightingale

I suppose I could have changed this quote to something a bit more personal: I won’t fear the time that passes just because I have an incurable disease. The time will pass anyway; I might as well put that passing time to the best possible use.

Even though, praise God, I am doing so much better now (except for this blasted sinus infection!), there are still so many things I wish I could do.  There are even more things I want very badly to do, but because of Myasthenia Gravis, I am not able.  But you know what?  I’ll never give up.  I’ll never give in.  I feel like I might as well try to do something good with my time; it’s going to go by… whether quickly or slowly, it will pass.  So why sit and pout and be miserable?

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have my moments.  Ask my husband.  I have a pity party now and again, and I suppose I “boo-hoo” from time to time.  But I’d like to think that overall, my attitude is primarily positive.  You see, I have HOPE.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here. Yes, you read that right.  I would NOT be here on planet earth any longer if I didn’t believe there was more.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.’” John 11:25 NKJV


So if I die, how can I live?  Seems a bit oxymoronic, doesn’t it?  But friends, it is true. There is no truer truth in the entire world. Because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross so many years ago on a hill called Golgotha, when I die in my physical body, I will finally and truly be alive!  I will be pain-free, perfect, healthy, and never shed a tear again.  Oh, Glory!  Do you understand that?  Do you KNOW Jesus?

He has changed my life.  Living with a debilitating, chronic, neuro-muscular disease is not a lot of fun.  There are many times I’m not happy. But the JOY that lives in my heart! Oh, the joy!  Beloved of God (and that’s YOU, yes, you….anyone reading this!) I am able to have joy and peace in my very soul because I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God gave up His one and only Son to die on a rugged cross so that I, so that you, might live forever with Him.  All we have to do is choose to say yes to His incredible offer of hope!

“They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:16-17 NKJV

Please read that again. God Himself will wipe every tear from your eyes.  That is heaven, my friends.  That is what we get to look forward to. Thank you, Jesus.

“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’
Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”  Revelation 21:3-5

Hallelujah!  Again, God is saying He will wipe our tears! Do you know what that means to someone like me who lives with chronic pain? With many, many tears?

In the Old Testament, the tabernacle was the earthly house that God lived in.  In the book of Exodus, God gave Moses and the Israelites very specific instructions on how to build it. Because the Israelites were traveling through the wilderness, this large “house of God” was able to be moved from one place to another while the people traveled. But not just anyone could go into the house of God.  Specifically, the Holy of Holies, where God's presence literally dwelled, was only accessible to ONE man: the High Priest. 

So in Revelation 21:3 we read that the tabernacle of God (His home) is now with MEN! God Himself will dwell with us!  He will be with us. He will be our God. And He WILL wipe our tears.

I have had this disease called Myasthenia Gravis for over 20 years now.  I was 25 when I had my first symptom. It has taken a lot from me.

A LOT. 

But one thing it can NEVER take from me is the hope I have.  Hope for a future, in heaven, with God…

Pain-free.

Perfect.

Healthy.

Whole.



Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Rescue by Jim Cymbala: A Book Review


Lawrence.  Timiney.  Rich.  Robin. Kaitlyn. Alex. Toni.

These are the seven people that you will meet in the book The Rescuer by Jim Cymbala.  I have not previously read anything by this author, but if this book is any example of his work, I might just find something else of his to read!

In, The Rescuer, Jim Cymbala tells us the first person stories of these seven individuals.  These are ordinary people with ordinary lives, who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances, whether at their own hand, or at the hand of another. They dealt with things like disease, addiction, alcoholism, the victim of rape and sexual abuse among others.

And all of these people have something else in common other than their troubles; they needed help, and they needed it now.  Desperate people, desperate for a Rescuer.

Robin is the granddaughter of Jewish emigres who now live in Brooklyn, NY.  Although her father was never really in her life, her grandfather raised her until her mother remarried.  While Robin was in high school she started experimenting with alcohol and drugs; that behavior continued in college, and then one day her parents called telling her that her grandmother had a heart attack and she needed to come home right away...  I don't want to say much else because I don't want to ruin the rest of her story.

Toni's story will break your heart.  But I promise you'll want to see how it turns out.  If you've ever struggled with heartbreak, addiction, sexual abuse, illness, this book will encourage you and inspire you to hang in there until Your Rescuer comes through for you.

You can purchase this book on amazon HERE
Or at ChristianBook.com by clicking HERE

I hope you check this book out.  It's really, really good, and it's a quick read.
I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

His Eye Is On The Sparrow


     
photo courtesy of the spruce
One of my favorite things about living in the country is that we get to watch so many birds.  Out the front living room window we have a bird feeder and another one in the dining room window right behind my chair.  In the winter we put suet out front, and in the summer we put out hummingbird feeders. A couple of years ago we even had Baltimore Orioles build a nest in one of our pear trees.

     When I lived in the city, about the only birds I saw were sparrows and blackbirds, and sometimes a robin.  Sparrows would always build a nest behind our basketball hoop on the garage; it was the "safest" place they could find.

    Out here...there's everything.  We also have blue jays, (stay away from their babies!  They will take your head off!) bluebirds, which I had never even SEEN before, sparrows, robins, and woodpeckers... and these giant things that LOOK like red-headed woodpeckers, but are really red-bellied woodpeckers.  They are about a foot tall and LOVE our cedar trees out front.  We have like 4 or 5 different kinds of woodpeckers.  They are really cool.  We also have nuthatches...they walk down the tree head first toward the feeder.  It's hilarious!

     I love the tiny chickadees.  They are so cute....and in the summer we have barn swallows, which I love, and yellow finches.

      But on the birdfeeder outside our dining room window, we have a Mafia ring.  One little sparrow, who isn't even the biggest of the sparrows let alone the other birds, is like the "Godfather".  (Or would that be God-feather?) Sorry, couldn't resist.  Seriously though....this little bird will sit up there and scare away anyone he doesn't want on the birdfeeder.  He has chased after other birds that didn't "listen", and makes a fuss when other birds land, even BIG birds...and scares them away.  It cracks me up.

     We have several pairs of cardinals this winter.  The bright red birds in contrast to the stark, naked branches and white snow is breathtaking.  But the males always get the attention because they are so bold.  The females however, at a distance, look drab and boring.  But when you see them up close, they are really beautiful.

     Some people in this life have the male Cardinal personality...like me.  We tend to hog the attention because we are bold and show up and say "HERE I AM!!!"  There are many however, like the female cardinal, that if you keep your eyes open, you see their real, genuine, heart-stopping beauty.  I'm sure we all know someone like that.

     My best friend Linda was like that.  She was truly beautiful on the outside as well as the inside, but she never drew attention to herself.  Whether she was just content to let me have the spotlight, or just didn’t want to compete for it, I don’t know.  Linda passed away just over nine years ago. And my heart is still broken.

     Anyway. The other day I was watching dozens of birds come and go, and even scratch on the ground like little chickens for the seeds that have fallen out of the feeders.  And I thought, “God is watching these little sparrows.  He takes care of them, He loves them...and I KNOW He laughs at the God-feather.”

     In Matthew 10:28-30 it says, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.  Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (emphasis mine)

     We don't need to be afraid of the things in our lives that we can’t control.  I know I want to be like the little sparrow that kind of “controls” the order of things.  But I am not in control of this life.  God has control, and I’m very grateful for that.  It means that I don’t have to fear chronic illness.
 
     We don't have to be afraid of that mean boss who has it in for us. We don't have to worry about how we are going to pay our bills; we don’t even have to worry about death!  God loves us, and takes care of us.  If God takes such good care of a sparrow, which were sold 2 for a penny, how much more does He love and care for us? 

     Whether you believe in God or not, He believes in you. He loves you. He wants to take care of you.  Even more than the sparrows.

Here are the lyrics to one of my favorite songs called, “His Eye Is On The Sparrow:”

1.    Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
o    Refrain:
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
2.    “Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
o    Refrain:
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
3.    Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
o    Refrain:
I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.



Friday, March 2, 2018

Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children: A book review


If you know me, you know that my son is not quite an adult yet (although he *thinks* he is sometimes!), but I figured it's never too early (or too late) to start praying Scripture over your child.  I freak out a little (okay a lot) over thinking about Jacob as an adult, quite frankly.  So I thought I better get started now.

Jodie Berndt has a real winner here.  In a practical, personal way, the author gives us varied situations in which we might need specific prayer for our adult children. These categories cover their health and well-being, their future relationships, jobs, and more.  Ms. Berndt gives examples of praying Scripture, one of THE most powerful prayers anyone can pray over another. 

Because I have suffered from depression and anxiety, I can relate to praying for emotional and mental health both for myself and my family.  A HUGE part of dealing with mental illness is dealing with the stigma of it.  Sometimes it's very difficult to share with others the *real* reason we need prayer, whether it's for ourselves or others.  But in chapter 13, for example, one of the author's prayer principles says this:  "When you pray your child through a mental or emotional illness, don't let shame or fear keep you from enlisting trusted prayer partners to help carry your burden." pg 195, Praying the Scriptures for Your Adult Children.

Then you could specifically pray 2 Timothy 1:12 (paraphrased to fit your situation)..."When our family suffers, let us not be ashamed. Instead, let us be confident in your ability to guard whatever we entrust to you, including our child's emotional health." (pg. 205)

When I got sick, my mom immediately started praying.  She has a group of precious women she has been meeting with for nearly 30 years!! Whenever I needed prayer for *anything*, physical OR mental, I would call my mom and ask "her ladies" to pray.  Never, ever underestimate the power of praying God's word!

I would recommend this book for anyone with children in their teens or later.  Although as I said, it's never too early to start praying over your children.

You can purchase the book at Christianbook.com by clicking here.
Disclaimer: I received this book at no cost in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Redeemed

photo courtesy of Rock Church


18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 (NIV)

The New Living Translation of 1 Peter 1:18-19 uses the word “ransomed” instead of redeemed.  18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you…19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”

Ransom:  Cost.  Price.  Penalty. 
Payment.  Redemption.
Rescue.

Did you know that you were rescued by God before you were ever born? That He loved you so much He was willing to sacrifice His One and Only Son?  His Child.  For you! 

Think about that.  I mean really, really THINK about that….

When is the last time you felt worthy of dying for?  I’m not sure I’ve EVER felt that way.  When is the last time you thought that Someone, anyone, would be beaten and punished and murdered so YOU could have a better life?

Well, it happened.  In a feedbox in Bethlehem.  On the road to Gethsemane.  At a place called Golgotha. 

Jesus, the One and Only, the Son of the One, True God, came to earth and lived and died so that YOU could be rescued; so that I could be redeemed.

I know that I am guilty of talking “down” to myself.  “Oh, Kerri, that was so stupid!”  “I can’t believe how dumb I am.”  “I’m such a loser.”

Are you willing to admit to any of those sounding familiar?  Well, I say to you, and to myself:  STOP. Just stop.  Stop demoralizing the person that Jesus bled and died for!  
What an insult to the Lamb of God! 

If YOU paid a million dollars for something you thought was flawless, priceless, and worthy to be paid for, how would you feel if anyone came by and treated it like trash? Would YOU take that million dollar possession and slam it to the ground and break it? 

Of course you wouldn’t.

Then stop doing it to yourself.  We need to start realizing that we are not our own.  We were BOUGHT and paid for by the God of the Universe.  And He hears our every thought.  He knows how we feel about ourselves, and what we say to ourselves.

And He probably weeps. 

Let’s start valuing ourselves.  Let’s start appreciating each other! Jesus died for you.  He died for me.  He died for your worst enemy. 
Let’s not make it for nothing.

How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

©1995 Kingsway's Thank you Music
Words and Music by Stuart Townend

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished


I will not boast in anything 
No gifts, no powr's, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer

But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Being Thankful On Purpose


There are times in everyone's lives when you just plain have a bad day.  Even if things are going well, and you're feeling good... sometimes you still have a crappy attitude. (And when I say "you" I mean "me" too!)  So I'm challenging myself, and you, to be thankful on purpose. I have SO much to be thankful for, that sometimes I need to remind myself. 


1. I am thankful that God's mercies are new every morning. NO matter how badly I screw up, He will forgive, truly forget, and start every new day with a clean slate. That needs to be number one on EVERYONE'S thankful list.

2. I am thankful that we have a wood burner, and don't have to pay almost $4.00 a gallon for fuel oil to heat our house. I'm thankful we have woods all around us and don't have to pay for wood. I am thankful that Doug is able to get all the wood we need for winter without paying someone else to get it. Praise God!

3. I am thankful that my husband is a Christian man, has a good job, is hard working, faithful, trustworthy, loving, a wonderful provider and a great dad. (He's awfully cute too!)

4. I am thankful I have a beautiful, healthy, smart, loving, busy, crazy, amazing, gregarious, precocious, full-of-life son, when I thought I never could. Miracles happen, folks.  I'm living proof.

5. I am thankful for the friends that I have that I know I can count on for WHATever, WHENever. Thank you for letting me know that I can depend on you, call you in the middle of the night (only for an emergency, I promise!)…I love you and appreciate you more than you can know.

6. I am thankful I have a computer, and internet, because it allows me to keep in touch with everyone I love.

7. I am thankful for music. It moves me like nothing else can.

8. I am thankful that although I have health issues, I can see and hear. I can walk, and talk, maybe not perfectly, but I can.  I'm so, so, so thankful for the IonCleanse.  It has given me my life back.  Thank you, Lord!!

9. I am thankful that this life is not all we have. That when the time comes, I will be in the presence of God Almighty, and I long to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant." I will be whole again. There will be no more night. No more pain. No more tears. Hallelujah! I will be reunited with those gone before, and meet fellow Christian friends I have not had the privilege to meet in this lifetime.

10. I am thankful for YOU, yes you!  The one who is taking the time to read my words.  I am thankful you read this, and I want you to know you are loved.

May we all find something we are thankful for today. I'd love to hear what YOU'RE thankful for...leave a comment!

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God,
    the great King above all gods.
Psalm 95:1-3



Friday, February 9, 2018

Today is Monumental!!

Why, you ask? Well, it's Martin Luther's birthday.  (No, not Martin Luther King, just Martin Luther. If you don't know who that is, ask a Calvinist. LOL) That's lovely, but that's not why this day means SO much. 

And, on this day in 1943, Japanese troops evacuated Guadalcanal, which ended the epic WWII battle on the Solomon Islands in the Pacific.  But that's not it either. 

On February 9, 1951, the St. Louis Browns signed pitcher Satchel Paige, aged 45.

But what is REALLY significant, in MY life, on THIS day??

It has been ONE YEAR since my last plasmapheresis treatment!!!!

Now if some of you don't know what plasmapheresis is, let me tell you.  (Warning, if you're squeamish, skip to the next paragraph!)  I used to have to go to the hospital two times, a day apart, every four weeks to have pheresis.  They would stick a large bore needle (like the size of a fork tine) into each arm.  Out of one needle they would draw out 150% of my blood volume, and run it through a machine (like a fancy centrifuge), spin out my plasma, add albumin synthesized from human plasma, and put my blood back into my body.  I have had this procedure done over ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED times in the last 17+ years.  Yes, 1,400!  If you're never had this, or dialysis, or anything like this, it's truly hard to imagine how hard this process is on your body.  And I had to have it that often just to *function*.
You can read more about plasmapheresis HERE.  (At the time of the post I could go *maybe* up to six weeks, but my function would decline.)

So how on earth have I managed to go an entire year, when normally I would have had at LEAST 26 of these treatments, you ask?  Let me tell you!!!  I was blessed, absolutely, 100% BLESSED to be part of a small, private, *INFORMAL* study by Debbie Norman with a machine called the IonCleanse by AMD.  (Click HERE to see the results of the study.)  Debbie asked ME to be part of this study.  The Lord led her to ask me, I just know it.  Well, I DO know, because I had the chance to meet her and ask her why!  Jacob said, "So we're going to meet the lady who gave you the keys to the lock to open the door to the rest of your life?"  Sigh.  I LOVE that boy. 

I thank God every single day for this machine that has transformed my life.  My miracle.  I cannot thank Debbie enough for listening to God's whispers when it came time to find participants for the study. God is GOOD.

So what is the IonCleanse by AMD you ask?  Well, it is an ionic footbath. Mmmm-hm.  That's what I said.  A foot bath.  You put your feet in a tub filled with good ol' tap water, put something called an array in the tub, connect it to the computer (machine) and plug it in. YES, we're talking water and electricity here.  That is why I can ONLY recommend the IonCleanse by AMD.  It has a 100% safety record, and it has been tested, and tested, and tested.  You can buy a knock off made in China for a LOT less money, but there is NO oversight, NO testing, NO safety record, and it's basically a glorified battery charger.

I. have. gotten. my. life. back.

Did you get that?? I got my life back! What dollar amount do you put on getting your life back??? I would have paid 10 times the amount!! I can drive to an appointment an hour away, with Jacob, go to the appointment, drive an hour home, and still be okay. For many of my 20 years with Myasthenia Gravis I could not drive at all.

I can walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes and not get out of breath.  I used to get out of breath going to the bathroom.

I can do laundry.  (Aren't you excited for me?!?)  I can vacuum.  The whole house. I can take off and put on sheets on my queen size bed.  BY MYSELF!!!! These may be trivial, monotonous chores for most folks, but if you couldn't do any of that for over 15 years???  Not even put one load of clothing in the washer?  You would understand what a big deal this is for me.

Last summer, for the *first* time since my son was born over 11 years ago, I looked at him and asked him where he wanted to go to do something just for fun.  I had NEVER been able to do that before in HIS entire life. My eyes tear up just writing this.  I've always wanted to be a mom...Always.  And I struggled raising him.  I struggled every. day. of. his. life.  

Until the IonCleanse.  HERE is the link where you can find out more information. I'll tell you right upfront it's expensive.  It's about $2000.  They have a 60 day, 100% money back guarantee if you're not absolutely enamored with this machine.  I noticed after about 6 weeks (well within the 60 day guarantee) how much better my depression was!  I had a teeny tiny hope that the IonCleanse would help with that, but I was resigned to having horrible depression my whole life. That's a whole separate post, and I WILL post more about this, but I don't want this to become a book. (Not right now anyway 😏 )

There is also a payment program that you can sign up for when you call IonCleanse by AMD.... It's kind of like rent-to-own. The people at AMD are amazingly helpful, and they all speak English!! AMD (A Major Difference) is an American company.  Just one MORE reason they are awesome! It's not like you call and get "Bob" from Pakistan to help you.  You may even talk to the President of the company!

Anyway.  I just wanted to share my amazing, happy news, that I have been able to go an entire year without the traumatic experience of getting all of my blood sucked out and put back in my body.  I am prayerfully hopeful that I will never need it again.

Thanks for reading and sharing in my joy. God is GOOD!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Becoming Real (repost)



"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." - The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams


I was not as familiar with this story as I am with other “children’s” stories.  But when I read this, the ears of my heart stood at attention.  My eyes filled with tears.  It's like God whispered right to me, as I read this, that sometimes, it takes losing your hair, or getting your joints messed up, or getting sick, or having to live in pain, or with a trach.... to become REAL.

Wow.  A message from the Lord of Hosts from a children’s book.  I always thought I was “real” before Myasthenia Gravis (MG).   I prided myself on being genuine.  But then I got sick.  I lost lots of friends.  I lost most of my independence. I had to depend on others for almost everything I needed, even the most basic of daily tasks. It was horrible.

Yet it was wonderful. I learned that dependence was not a bad thing; especially dependence on God.

I'm telling you I am not the same person I was before this disease.  I am Real now.  I don't mince words.  I don't flatter people if I don't mean it.  I used to just about panic over the smallest things that went wrong.  Now, I don't freak out about the little things in life that aren't going to matter a week from now let alone a year from now.

I value life.  I value friendships.  Because I know how delicate they can be.  I know how easily they can go away.  I love more deeply.  I love more freely.  I trust much.  Maybe too much.  But I'd rather be that way than all skeptical and critical inside.

Sometimes it takes getting a little shabby, having your "hair loved off", and going through the wringer of life's washing machine a time or two to become real.  God will take anything you have to set before Him, and make from your offering someone beautiful.  Loved.  Real.


“ ‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "
-The Velveteen Rabbit


And it does hurt.  But once you are Real, you don't want to go back, even though you may face further pain.  Because it's so much better to be Real.  And "once you are REAL, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

And you know what? There will always be people who don't understand.  And that's okay.  Because ugly is on the INSIDE, and Real is through and through.   Real is better, because Real doesn't happen to people who are easily broken. 

Real is strong.  And I am Real
.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10


Monday, February 5, 2018

At Hand

photo courtesy of whatsinthebible.com

I don’t know how many times I have read, said, or quoted Philippians 4:6.  “Do not be anxious about *anything*, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”   So what does that mean?  Well, very basically, it tells us to not worry, to pray, implore, plead, about everything with thanksgiving.

The other day I was reading this in the ESV of the Bible.  The end of verse 5 hit me like a sledge hammer.  I have always focused on verse six.  In the NIV, verse six starts with a capital letter.  Why is that important?

Well, in the ESV, the second part of verse five says, “The Lord is at hand;”…  Do you notice the semicolon?  Oh, how I love the semicolon! It is defined as:

“a punctuation mark (;) indicating a pause, typically between two main clauses, that is more pronounced than that indicated by a comma.”

The semicolon is a powerful little punctuation mark.  It means that the author could have chosen to end the sentence, but chose to continue.   It connects two main ideas. Why is that important in this context?  Because BOTH sides of the semicolon are equally important!  My friends, the Lord is at hand!

The term “at hand” means, Nearby; physically within one's reach.”  ( Yes, I know my “word nerd” is showing; please bear with me.) Think about what that means in the context of this passage!  God is physically nearby; do not be anxious about anything!  Pray about everything, and be thankful. 

The Amplified Bible says it this way: “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.”

The Lord is near.  He is right. next. to. you.  I used to think, how can I seriously pray about everything WITH thanksgiving??  “Thank you, God, for this disease.  I am so thankful for Myasthenia Gravis!”  But do you know what?  I AM thankful.  I honestly wouldn’t change anything.
 
When you start doing things the Lord’s way, your life will change…for the better.  Not even for the better!  For the best!  God wants YOU to have your BEST life.  And there’s only one way to do that. (Sorry, Oprah.)  That is through the cleansing, powerful blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

My dear brothers and sisters…I know this life is not easy.  But God is at hand!  He is with you always!  We do NOT need to worry.  I know this is tough stuff.  I’ve been at it 47 years and still forget.  God has your best in mind.  Jeremiah 29:11 says that God has plans for us!  Plans for good, and not for harm.  So how can having an incurable disease be for my good?  I mean, seriously?

I’ll tell you.  This disease changed the course of my life.  Before MG, I was a career woman.  I had a great albeit stressful job, made incredible money for a 28 year old kid, and worked really hard.  I played hard too.  I was NOT living my best life.  Not by a longshot.  Along comes MG, and suddenly I’m 100% dependent upon the Lord for everything.  Every hour.  Every minute.  Every second.  Every breath.

When you truly don’t know if you’re going to live or die, your perspective changes greatly.  Suddenly I wasn’t so worried about how much money I made.  I was more concerned about the side effects of the medication I was taking.  I wasn’t so much worried about keeping my house spotless, I was more concerned about keeping my trach super clean so I didn’t get an infection that would kill me.

I’m telling you from 20 years with this disease:  God IS near.  He IS the only way to peace.  Verse 7 of Philippians 4: “ And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Isn’t that what we all want? Peace?  Peace that we can’t even understand.  So don’t worry.  Pray about everything.  Be thankful.

Because God is at hand.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Broken


Several years ago I did this Bible study with my friend Joanna called No Other gods by Kelly Minter. Whoa. This is not a lightweight, no ma’am. It is a heavy-hitter! That is, if you WANT it to be. I have found, as I'm sure many of you have, that something is only as "deep" as you want it to be...but I am going deep, because there are issues in my life that need gutting.

That said, listen to this quote from page 64 of No Other gods regarding
God's "brand of beauty:"

"A healed relationship or person can reflect more glory than one who never knew brokenness."
(emphasis mine)

Okay, I thought. Broken doesn't necessarily mean pulverized...then I looked it up in the dictionary. (Yes, I'm a "word nerd," and I love doing this.) Broken: 1. NO LONGER WHOLE, in two or more pieces e.g. after having been dropped or hit with something hard.

Um, yah. Have you ever dropped a glass bowl? It shatters in a million pieces! (Especially on a tile floor... not like I would know anything about that personally...) Ahem.

My favorite book (next to the Bible) is my Synonym Finder. Why they don't just call it a thesaurus I don't know. Anyway...I checked out broken, and here are some synonyms:

Shattered. Smashed.
Crushed. Mangled. Pulverized. Ruptured. Torn. Damaged. Destroyed.
I will tell you a few things my friends, first of all, I'm pretty darn sure that all of us have felt like one of these words in our lives...maybe recently. Maybe as recently as last week...maybe, right now.

Second, always remember that with God: "We are hard pressed on every side, but NOT crushed; perplexed, but NOT in despair, persecuted, but NOT abandoned, struck down but NOT DESTROYED." II Corinthains 4:9

Once again, the WORLD'S definition of something and GOD'S definition are completely different. The world says if you are broken, you are destroyed. GOD says, if you are broken, HIS glory will be revealed. HIS STRENGTH will be made perfect in YOUR WEAKNESS. He is making you a new creation..
.He loves you too much to let you grow complacent.

I am preaching to the choir here, folks. I will be the first to admit that I stumble under adversity.. But God knows that sometimes when I am on the mountain top, I get lost looking at the view, and not reflecting upon that which put me on the top. So He keeps giving me the "valley view" until I get it. I'm not sure that I will ever COMPLETELY get it...I mean, come on, what fun would that be?

Lest I digress, let's get back to the quote. Did you ever wonder what our purpose was on this earth? Very simple. To glorify God. Some people I know can do that in an amazing way without have to go down the wrong road, or without suffering. Most do not. "A healed person or relationship"....that doesn't necessarily mean physical healing, but it certainly could. How magnificent when a believer goes to the doctor, only to find that the cancer that was there IS NO MORE? That is GLORY, my friends. Much more than if that person never got cancer in the first place!

However, God can reveal His glory in the same way when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and do it with HIS Strength! If you knew of someone that God healed of cancer, it would be a huge WOW factor. And God would get HUGE glory. But for how long? Would we forget, like the Israelites, who seemed to forget so quickly that God parted the Red Sea for them? But what about the person who quietly walks through their disease with God, day after day, moment after moment, constantly reflecting Him? (And I'm soooo not saying that's me, because there's not much quiet about me! I go along, but many times kicking and screaming!!)

Now on to a really sticky subject, but one very close to my heart: Does God SEND disease? I believe, sometimes, He does. This is one thing I know more than anything else in my being:
GOD WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO BRING YOU CLOSER TO HIM.


And I mean whatever. Some things He allows to befall us, but I truly and completely believe that other things He Himself sends to us, so that we can grow closer to Him, and so that His glory will be revealed. Some of us (and I mean ME) are so stubborn we don't get the more subtle hints and need the "big guns." And when this happens, my friends, you will never be the same again.