Friday, April 20, 2018

Infused with HOPE!

“We are out of options...”  This is NOT the kind of thing you want to hear from your doctor when you are having a rough year health-wise.  Good grief… it was only March!  I can’t say this hasn’t happened before because unfortunately it did.

This time it was an upper respiratory infection and pneumonia that knocked me down quickly.  My body just wasn’t recovering like it should.  The on-going sickness only exasperated the autoimmune disease (read more details about my struggle here).  I was in the midst of a flare up that wasn’t getting better! 

My neurologist had ordered the traditional go to IVIG treatments to get me back to normal quickly.  When they didn’t work, we jumped to the next best step to re-charge my immune system in a sense... steroid treatments.  Nothing was working and I only seemed to get worse.  Muscle weakness, fatigue, trouble speaking, the list goes on.  I was in a full blown flare up.  Yay me!

I’m thankful I have an aggressive neurologist who cares deeply about his patients.  He researches alternative options, talks to specialists, and weighs all options before presenting what he feels would be best.  My option at this point was to have a treatment I had six years ago.   At that time, I was bedridden most of the day with this dreaded illness with no quality of life.  The risks involved in the treatment seemed like a sensible trade for the hope of better days ahead.

HOPE… I like that word.  For me, it means there is “potential” for something good to happen.  That’s better than despair… which means to lose all hope.  I’d rather not despair the days ahead for me.  “To lose hope”… where did hope go?  Was it ever there?  Where did we lose it? 

I have faced a lot up’s and down’s in my lifetime.  Many of which could have stripped me of all hope, but they didn’t!  They don’t!  Why?  Let me tell you my secret…  I choose to put my HOPE in God instead of dwelling in a pit of despair.  Have you ever been there before?  It’s really hard to climb out of that pit when everything is going wrong in your life.  Believe me, I know!

I remember a particularly dark season where I got to the end of myself health-wise and I didn’t know what else to do.  I was so sick and nothing was working.  I was skin and bones, not getting better, and I had no options at the time to do anything else.  There were no words.  I cried out to God broken inside... nothing would come out of my mouth.  All I can say is that God met me right where I was and helped me keep pushing forward… trusting Him all the way.  I read the verse below recently and it describes what I felt at that moment to a tee.  This speaks volumes to my heart.

“Strength in my soul”… It was a strength I didn’t possess on my own.  To be completely transparent with you (if I haven’t already), I don’t know how I made it through this season.  It really felt like God was carrying me the whole way.  He was faithful!!!  

For those of us who might feel stuck in that “Pit of Despair”.  The verse below sounds like someone is giving themselves a pep talk.  We can see it all the way throughout chapter 42.  I love how it says in verse 5… “YET I will praise him.”  This person is believing for better days ahead… so am I!  

Psalm 42:5 (NIV)
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? 
Why so disturbed within me? 
Put your hope in God,

For I will yet praise him,

My Savior and my God.


Instead of choosing to dwell in a pit of despair… Put your HOPE in God!  He has always been my ever present, constant source of strength to pull me through... and He will be that for you! 

When I faced difficulties or challenging seasons of life, I could have walked AWAY from God and blamed Him like others do and have, but I didn’t.  I choose to run TO Him in the midst of my struggles and I have never, ever regretted that decision.  His peace has been immediate as He has carried me through some of my darkest seasons of life.

Here we are again after six years.  The treatments I had before put me into remission for 4 years which was awesome!  I felt like I came back to life in a sense!  I had a fresh perspective and a new way of living.  I determined to live differently from that day forward.  But… as I think back over the past six years (4 really good and 2 struggling health-wise), I wonder.  Has anything changed?  What have I accomplished in my six years?

I’ve been very introspective lately.  I’ve written special letters to my family.   In case my health declines drastically and those so called “risks” involved with this treatment conquer me, I want to be ready.  I’ve pondered my life and asked myself a lot of questions. 

Has my life impacted others for good?  Are they better for having known me?  Am I spending more time “living” life (making memories) instead of just “doing” things (I have been known to get lost in a ‘to do' list… LOL)?  Have I created memory making moments with my family?  Do they know I love them fiercely?  Have I been intentional? Have I done what God would have me do?  Have I reflected Him well to those around me?  Am I pointing people to Jesus by my life choices (actions and reactions)?

These are just a few of the many questions rolling around in my head lately.  Today I finished my last treatment (or infusion).  Now it’s all about the recovery process.  I am infused with HOPE!  Hope… that these treatments will lead me right into remission.  There is “potential” with these treatments to go into an indefinite remission.  Will you pray with me that happens?

Have you lost your HOPE and fallen into a “Pit of Despair”?  Put your hope in God, friend!  We have YET  to praise Him!  I’m believing it, do you?

Living to leave a legacy,

Friday, April 13, 2018

What does God think of ME?

If you struggle with your self-esteem, care too much what others think, have daddy issues, or relationship troubles, you will want to keep reading…

Recently I had the chance to speak at my boys’ school for their Spiritual Emphasis days.  I actually did two workshops for girls only.  The title of my session was “She’s Beautiful!”  The emphasis was on how to build a healthy self-esteem.   I wanted to help them answer the following questions before we finished our session…

1.  Who do others say that I am?
(What do others think of ME?)

2.  Who does God say that I am?
(What does God think of ME?)

3.  Who do I say that I am?
(What do I think of ME?)

 I thought I would take a few moments to share with you some of what I did with them on that day.   The teaching itself was way too long to put it all into one post so I have broken it up into several parts.  This is part three.  

You can read the other two posts here…“She’s Beautiful” (Part One) and “What if Barbie was a real woman” (Part Two).

We tackled the first question in my last post… Who do others say that I am?  We looked at the world’s view of beauty and discovered that we can never really measure up to their standards.  It’s totally unattainable.  Besides, ultimately we should only care about one person’s opinion in the long run… God’s.
I Sam. 16: 7 says…
People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (NLT)

God looks beyond the surface of our lives.  He sees beauty inside and out!  You don’t have to convince Him to love you with fancy clothes, perfect skin, pretty make up or the perfect body.  He loves you for YOU… inside and out!

He doesn’t want you to be like everyone else.  God loves VARIETY!  He wants you to be YOU… the best YOU, you can be and me to be the best ME… I can be!  Different isn’t a bad thing.  It’s a God-thing. 

“Just because you aren’t like everyone else doesn’t mean
you are any less of who God created you to be.”

God want you to be YOU!   He made each of us different, unique, and special in our own way.  You were no accident.  You were made on purpose!  You are unique!  There is not another YOU out there in the whole wide world.  YOU are an original made by God… a masterpiece!

Psalm 139 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible.  It reminds me of God’s love for me.

You created every part of me; you put me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because you are to be feared; all you do is strange and wonderful.  I know it with all my heart.  15 When my bones were being formed, carefully put together in my mother's womb, when I was growing there in secret, you knew that I was there— 16     you saw me before I was born.  The days allotted to me
had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began.

God KNOWS you and me and LOVES us still!  It blows my mind!  God’s love is unconditional, fierce, and all consuming!  He chases after us and never wants to let us go.  We are always on His mind and in His heart. 

For some of us this is hard for us to comprehend because we haven’t experienced a relationship like this before.  Maybe our relationships have been one-sided, conditional, or self-centered.  That may be, but the relationship we have with God should be different.   Did you know that if we don’t have a proper view of God, it can hinder our relationship with others?  

Let me explain…

Some of us have been blessed with amazing fathers here on earth which is awesome, but others haven’t been as fortunate.  When they think of a dad, a good, happy image does NOT come to their mind.  Those images are attached to pain, rejection, hurt, and brokenness. 

Because of this without realizing it, those with “bad dads” can begin to relate to God as they do their earthly fathers.  If their earthly fathers are: judgmental, angry, tear them down, and rarely show them love, then they can begin to expect their heavenly father to be the same way! 

When bad things happen, things don’t go their way, or they face adversity, they may feel that God doesn’t care about them, they are unloved, or rejected by Him in some way.

But, God is nothing like our earthly fathers!  He is the best daddy you could ever imagine!  If you have been fortunate enough to have an incredible godly dad, you may see things differently.  Your dad has been able to be a small reflection of God to you.  He has probably helped you see God in a loving, approachable way which is awesome! 

Imagine what you would see if you weren’t as fortunate to have a godly dad in your life.  How would you relate to God in view of an abusive, unloving dad as your reflection?  If we don’t have a proper view of God, it will affect how we live our lives and every other relationship we have in a negative way.  I mean if God doesn’t really care about us, then what is the point of trying to “be good”?

When our view of God is wrong our relationships and our view of what is truly beautiful can become distorted! We can begin to seek attention and value from others instead of God.

We can begin to think…

Pretty is showing our skin to get attention
(Dressing immodestly isn’t pretty.  It may turn the heads of others, but not for the reason you are thinking.  You are attracting the wrong kind of person and not someone you would want to some day marry.  I can promise you that!)

Letting others do whatever they want with our bodies is okay and expected.
(No it’s not!  God wants you to save your purity and the viewing of your body for your future husband!)
You are a daughter of the King so…
Walk like it
Talk like it
Dress like it

…and wait for a Godly man who will treat you like it!

God wants us to find our value, worth, self-esteem, and identity in Him!

We are loved, accepted, forgiven, wanted, and cherished.  Believe it today! 

If you have been struggling with comparing God (your heavenly father) to your earthly father, I want to challenge you to search the scriptures.  Make a list of all of the qualities you find in God as your father as you study.  Then compare them to your earthly father.  Ask God to help you to see Him for who He truly is.  It will be life-changing for you!

When we have a proper view of God, it changes things!  There is a song I love that paints such a beautiful picture of who God is to us.  It’s called… “Good, Good Father”.  You can listen to the song HERE. When we have a proper view of God, it changes our perspective on life and our relationship with others.

When I discovered for myself what kind of father God was to me… 
It changed things.  It changed ME!

I’m not sure what your daddy issues might be, but I encourage you to give them to God.  Let Him be that daddy you’ve always wanted and dreamed for.

My goal through my teaching was to help the girls answer 3 questions before we finished…

1.  Who do others say that I am? 
My answer to this is… Who cares?  Their opinion of you and me doesn’t matter.

2.  Who does God say that I am?
You are a beautiful masterpiece, one of a kind, made on purpose!  He wants us to find our value in Him not anything or anyone else.  He wants us to see Him for who He truly is… our heavenly daddy who loves us fiercely!

The last question was one for them to think about on their own to some degree.  They have to decide this for themselves…

Or… what do I “think” of myself?

If I don’t like me, it can cause me to go to great extremes to get others to like me.  But… when I discover WHO I am in God and that I don’t have to try to measure up to the worlds ideal view of who I should be, that sets me free to just be ME… the “me” God created me to be!

I hope you have been challenged in some way by the teaching I shared at this workshop.  I would LOVE to hear your feedback!  YOU are beautiful friend and God loves you fiercely!  Don’t you ever forget it!

Living to leave a legacy,