Monday, January 5, 2015

It's Not About Me...Ouch!

     I've pondered the Christmas story a million times. I've read the story, heard hundreds of sermons on the story, pondered these things in my heart over and over again, but this year it was all different. I couldn't seem to get into the 'Christmas spirit' like I have in the past. It seemed hard, forced, almost like each day was passing and getting closer to Christmas day, but the joy and anticipation I usually feel; the excitement and hope for this season seemed so foreign. It didn't feel like Christmas at all. Not at all.

     I searched my heart but couldn't find what was 'off'. I prayed but I couldn't seem to find a reason as to why I was feeling so detached. The feeling, or lack thereof, was driving me crazy, and even as we drove to Pennsylvania to spend a short week with family to celebrate, I still wasn't feeling it and I had no idea why. After all, I should be excited, right? This coming year we are planning on so many exciting things. The baby I now carry has brought with it so much happiness, joy, and anticipation for the coming year. I expected to be so full of Christmas spirit just because of this gift I was carrying, but yet it was still lacking. What was wrong with me?!

     As I lay in bed one night, I decided to crack open my Bible and read that familiar story once again in an attempt to 'wake up' or feel something of the excitement I've felt in the past. By dim lamplight, my eyes followed my fingers to Luke 1. I decided to start there to read about the encounter of Mary with Elizabeth. It seemed like a good place to get a dose of excitement...even Elizabeth's baby jumped with joy in that part of the story! How could I read it and not get excited, too? But as I read I found something I wasn't expecting. Slowly, as I read the story, something struck me like a lightening bolt that I had never  noticed before. As I reflected on the following words, I began to understand my lack of Christmas joy this year.

     "Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old." Luke 1:6-7 I clung onto that verse for a moment, and in the darkness of the night, I realized some of what had been going on in my heart for many months; probably longer. It had nothing to do with Christmas, but it shadowed Christmas like a moonless night deep in the forest.

     I knew I was carrying with me, this season, the anxiety of wondering if this baby we've been given would really be in my arms next spring like we had anticipated. I knew I was so afraid of having to say goodbye to someone so precious to me like I've had to do in the past. Pregnancy loss will do that to you. It can cause so many emotions. It had left me broken down this year, terrified that even though I carried this baby in my womb now, maybe I would still have to walk through the agonizing pain of losing this baby, too. It was too much to take in. I've become too attached to this baby to say goodbye, and I knew it, but I didn't realize how much these emotions were affecting me. I had spent this season covered in worry and anxiety, not focused on Christmas at all.

     I do not have to go into detail about what issues I have experienced in the world of fertility issues and loss (that's a whole other blog!) but what I realized that quiet night in Pennsylvania, was that I had not only allowed my loss(es) to color how I was feeling about this current pregnancy, but I had allowed myself to believe the lie that I could not possibly be 'righteous' in the eyes of God (or made righteous by Him) and still suffer fertility issues. After all, aren't children a blessing from the Lord? Why wasn't I being blessed? Of course, in my mind, it must have been because I was unrighteous, horrible, having done something so wrong that God would not bless me with the gift of a baby that would stick around. How wrong I have been.

     I don't know the circumstances of Elizabeth's life. But I do know that she wasn't a perfect woman. I know that she did wrong just like I do today. She was not 'sinless' and neither am I. Even in the midst of her sinfulness, God still called her 'righteous' and she still suffered with fertility issues. Further, Elizabeth followed God's commands, and notably so, but yet she still suffered in this horrible way. Righteousness did not and does not equate successful pregnancies, just as unrighteousness did not and does not equate infertility or pregnancy loss. What a relief...but ouch.

     As I lay in bed, just a few short days before Christmas, I experienced God in a way I hadn't felt Him in a long time. I was reminded that God was with me and He hadn't forgotten me or hasn't ignored me cries. I was reminded that even if I never hold this baby in my arms or any other baby in the future, God still loves me; He gently reminded me that this was not a way that he was 'punishing' me for my imperfections, but rather something He is using to bring me closer to Himself. I was reminded that horribly painful things still happen to people that God views as righteous and there is always hope. There, in the dark, as my eyes welled with tears, I was reminded that each day is a gift from God and all I have to do is take one day at a time. I don't have to worry about what may or may not happen, but each day I have with this baby is special. Each day that I carry this child is a gift and if I never hold this baby in my arms, God is still good. He is still working. I can bring my brokenness to Him and He will know what to do with it.

     Finally, the weight on my chest began to lift. I could finally experience Christmas and hope for the future. I could finally begin to believe that God is working a miracle in me regardless of the length of this baby's life. I felt so out of control that night, but maybe being out of control was just what God is trying to teach me. Maybe this life isn't about me.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Thoughts from Above the Clouds

     I love to fly. I always have. It is simply breathtaking to me to see the vibrant colors, the clouds that look like cotton candy strewn across the vast blue sky, and the awareness of how small I really am in the grand scheme of things. I've also always found it fascinating to think about how I can sit in a giant metal tube and fly thousands of feet up in the sky at speeds I could never dream of in a car. How can I just be suspended like that? Sure, it's physics, but it's simply amazing to think about. Mind blown.

     Tonight, however, as I boarded the plane and was launched into the open air, many thoughts pushed their way into my mind. The slow and steady incline had me thinking about the hundreds of people sitting all around me. We were all off to Boston, but what was each of their stories? Why was the elderly couple two seats ahead of me on this plane? What was taking them to Boston? Or the young woman with a baby? Why was she traveling alone with a baby? Was she traveling to see family? Was she traveling to see friends? What was her story? What was the story of the young man looking somber just a few seats away? Was he leaving his family? Had he just learned of some difficult news? My mind wandered and I was quickly reminded of our story and why we were off to Boston.

     Recently, our family suffered the loss of my husband's grandfather. He was a kind man, someone who always had a smile on his face, and though I didn't see him often in the few years we've been married, it was sad to hear of his death. This weekend, we will meet with family and friends to hold a memorial service for this dear man. What a life he lived; what a legacy he leaves behind. My mind began to wander even further.

     Flying always makes me feel like I'm closer to Heaven. I know that's an elemental way of thinking about Heaven, and quite honestly, it's likely inaccurate, but I think the beauty of the views I see as I fly makes me wonder what those who have gone before me see. If this isn't Heaven, then Heaven must be so incredibly amazing. The view I had on the plane tonight simply took my breath away and to post a picture doesn't do what I saw justice. But still, I wonder, are there sunsets like this in Heaven? Are there brilliant colors painting the sky like the hues of pink and orange I saw? Do those I've lost, who have gone to Heaven, find themselves utterly breathless at what they see each day?

     Somehow it's comforting to think that those I miss dearly have such a view...probably something more stunning than I could ever experience on this earth or in our atmosphere. When I think of all the grandeur that God created, I cannot help but feel somewhat close to those I've loved and lost as I fly way up in the sky. I cannot help but think that, perhaps, I am getting just a minuscule taste of what those who wait for me in Heaven may be experiencing. The sky has always been a reminder to me of a place where there's no more pain and no more suffering. It's always brought me a sense of peace and comfort and it reminds me each time that God is faithful. Just as the sun rises and falls each day, so He welcomes those who love Him into His arms and I will see those people again one day.

     Oh, how I long for the day in which I am reunited to those I love, sitting in the presence of the God who created such beauty and such magnificence. I find comfort in knowing that the view I had tonight, sitting in an airplane, is only a glimpse of the beauty I will one day see.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Moving, Packing, and Stones of Remembrance

     I am obsessed with 'stones of remembrance'. If you aren't familiar with what that is, it's a custom some people still continue today, but it is a practice from thousands of years ago, brought about by the Israelite people. One of my very favorite passages in Scripture talking about stones of remembrance is in Joshua 4. At this point Joshua is instructed to place some stones near the Jordan River as a memorial to what the Lord had done for His people. He had parted the waters, just like He had at the Red Sea, generations before, allowing the ark of the covenant and the people to pass through safely. God tells Joshua to make a memorial so that when future generations see this pile of stones, the story of God's presence and glory can be shared as a reminder of His faithfulness and might. We see this practice repeated throughout Scripture, in other areas, but what a beautiful picture. I wonder if the Israelite people knew how special this was when they were doing it. I love the idea.

     When I think about times when I have seen God move mightily on my behalf; times when He's parted the waters, so to speak, or provided for me in ways I thought were not possible, I am amazed and humbled. I also know myself well enough to know that sometimes I forget about those things, and the next time I am going through something difficult, I can easily wonder where God is or if He is going to come through for me. How short my memory can be. I'm learning to love stones of remembrance.

     As I prepare for this next adventure of moving to another stage of ministry, I am faced with the daunting task of packing every thing we own and leaving this place we've called 'home' for the last two years. It's bittersweet. Bittersweet because of all the normal reasons like missing my friends and people I love but at the same time being excited to see what God is going to do in our lives next. But it's also bittersweet because of all the significant things that have happened in this home; in this place over the last two years. God has met me here in ways I could not have imagined. God has provided for us in ways that only He could do. He has shown up and comforted us through pain and sorrow and we've rejoiced with Him over successes and provisions.

     When I think back on the last two years, I am reminded that so much of our time has consisted of gut-wrenching pain. So much of this time that has passed has been covered in tears and moments of pounding on the Father's chest, wondering how to put the pieces back together again. Illness, loss, exhaustion, brokenness, fear, endurance...those were my companions here, but there was also great joy in what God had been showing us. As I pack my things I am reminded of the last two years. You would think I would be excited to move to the next place; to say goodbye to these difficult times, and to an extent, you would be right. I am happy. I am excited. But a piece of me whispers 'I don't want to leave this place. I don't want to forget how close You've been in my darkest hours.'. You see, even in those darkest hours, I've seen Him and felt Him in a way I never have before.

     These last few years have not been easy, but I have seen God. I have learned things about Him that I could not have learned had I not walked through the valley of suffering we have. I have seen His face. I have known Him in moments when it felt like all I had to cling to was the hem of His garment (and my husband!). When all things seem stripped away, and I'm raw before Him...I've felt Him near. So, part of me wonders 'If I move from this place, this home, will I forget what the soothing balm of His closeness is like?' Will I move on and forget what it's like to cry out and know He's there, weeping over my sufferings as well?

     As I pack my home I take little stones of remembrance with me. I travel with the small compass rose necklace my husband got me last year when I felt like I had no idea which direction God was taking us and I wanted to be reminded that He knows the way. I travel with pages in my journal that remind me of some of the things that have happened in my life these past few years and the brokenness He's brought me through. As I place each item  in a cardboard box, reminders of deep friendship, hope, and peace in Him dance through my mind and I am content. These are my stones of remembrance that I will continue to carry them with me. These are the little things that remind me of who God is and His faithfulness. These are the things that remind me of His breath that gives me life.

     Moving is bittersweet, there's no doubt about that, but as I go, I go with stones of remembrance that continue to bring to my mind how God never leaves us alone - how God is there are all times. I go with hope for the future, peace in the present, and memories of the past.

Friday, June 27, 2014

On the Eve of Something New

     The world of academia is all about graduations and accomplishments. It's about the rat race that sends many of us into a frenzy writing papers, preparing presentations, staying up way later than is healthy to finish those last few pages of a less than exciting book. Day in and day out, we study, we read, we write, and we down another cup of coffee to keep ourselves alive - really, it does keep us alive. But it would be wrong for me to color the last two years of my life in such a drab painting. No, these years of sweat, tears, exhaustion, and pain have also been some of the most valuable years of my life. On the eve of my graduation, I find myself both uncontrollably happy and terribly sad as if I am losing a dear friend.

     It's difficult to capture the emotions that now pulse through my heart. You see, I've spent the last two years learning a lot. I've studied the DSM and learned the diagnostic techniques related to my discipline. I've learned how to diagnose, treat, and comfort those who walk into my counseling office. But going to graduate school has been so much more to me than an academic experience.  I've learned how to try and facilitate healing and I've learned that much of that healing comes from the dedication of my clients. I've heard stories of real people that send shivers up and down my spine and I've sat in a sea of sadness with grieving and broken individuals. The years of truly walking beside broken people has softened my heart and has taught me deep truths. More than anything, graduate school has changed me tremendously.

     When I reflect on the last two years, I have changed incalculably. I've walked through pain of my own and wrestled with who God is in the midst of my own suffering. The very things that I have watched my clients wrestle with are some of the things I have needed to wrestle with on my own. As I have urged my clients to show grace and kindness to themselves where they fall short of their own expectations, I too, have had to show myself the same grace and kindness in areas I would rather be hard on myself. I have found strength in places I didn't know it existed.

     Most of all, I have met the most spectacular people. Becoming a counselor seems to be more about developing yourself than techniques and diagnostics. It's about becoming the healthiest you possible so you can come alongside others who are broken just like you and help them to the path of healing. It's been as much about the work as it has been really walking with fellow human beings in this journey called life. I'm sure most people who enter graduate school do not have this experience of deep friendship, but I have been lucky enough to know and care for some extraordinary souls. We've rejoiced together and cried together. We've walked in exhaustion together and anticipated the glorious end together. We've studied together and stressed out about school together, but most of all, we've carried each other and have loved each other. We've become like a family.

     It's hard to express how I feel tonight, on the eve of tomorrow's graduation because while I am ecstatic to be able to read books for fun again and have the honor of earning a Master's degree, I am incredibly sad to say goodbye to so many amazing people. I'm saddened to leave a place that has brought me so much growth, healing, and support of my own. The professors who have all been like mentors and the students who have all been dear friends will be what I miss most about graduate school and as I turn my face to the future, a part of me grieves leaving Biblical Seminary and another part of me cannot wait to be finished. The two emotions bifurcate my heart and I'm learning to be okay with that.

     So to my fellow Biblical Seminary, Graduate School of Counseling graduates, I say 'Thank you'. Thank you for walking this journey with me and holding me up in moments when I have felt most weak. Thank you for being amazing people who truly care for each other and most assuredly care for your clients. Thank you for being people of honor and pursuing excellence. Thank you for being people who truly grasp the love of Christ and show it to those all around you. Thank you. I am absolutely honored to have spent the last two years with each one of you and I am proud to call you fellow clinicians. I am truly humbled to call you each 'friend'.

     As I anticipate commencement tomorrow I feel a little nauseous along with excitement. Our futures are bright and I know that God will use us each to do amazing things, but I cannot help being a little nervous as well. I don't want to say goodbye, but I know this next phase of life will be more than we've ever imagined. So dream big, my friends, dream big. Never stop dreaming and asking God for the honor of living those dreams and at the end of the day, may you love all who you encounter with the purest love here on this earth. May you be agents of healing that change this world the way you've changed my life in our time together.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Art of Healing

     When I was a little girl, I could never quite understand why doctors couldn't just repair broken bodies. I would hear stories of people whose bodies were injured in car accidents or by illness and I would wonder, 'Why can't they just sew up that heart or lung? Why can't they just put that broken piece back into place and things should work just fine?' I was always questioning in my immature mind and wondering things that most adult people understand fully. I had no medical training and no way of understanding things that were just too big for me to try to understand. I wanted things fixed and healed. I couldn't understand why doctors couldn't just return broken bodies to their original state with all the medical technology known to man. In some instances we were able to do miraculous things like put men on the moon or take photographs of things that were completely out of this world. We could clone animals and skydive and put planes in the air and submarines in the complicated could it really be to sew up a body? I was so naive. The art of healing was something much bigger and complex than I could have imagined in the smallness of my frame and the childlike mindset I worked from. The art of healing would take time for me to understand and it would take growth, experience, and life to teach me of these complexities. And even now, as I type, there is a plethora of things I do not understand. Rest assured, though, I do understand a great deal more than I did as an eight year old. Perhaps life really has taught me a thing or two about the art of healing in more ways than one. It truly is an art, I think.

     As I sit, soaking up the sun, I am reminded of so many ways that our bodies just cannot be healed. For me, it's Lyme disease, for others it's cancer or paralysis. Others experience blindness or developmental delays. These things cannot always be healed. Still, others, experience broken bones like arms or legs or ribs. They will heal, but it will take some time. Healing, if possible will take months of casts, medication, physical therapy, and sometimes even surgery, but in these instances where healing is possible, we hold onto the hope that a broken arm will function well again or a broken leg will be able to sustain the weight of walking once more and probably will function close to its optimal functioning before the injury occurred. Close enough, right? It's easy for me to ponder how resilient the human body is. We can fix things. Most physical issues will take time to heal, but they will heal. I wonder, though, can we learn something from this physical process of healing? Is there something more here that teaches us about life and healing?

     If I close my eyes and think about the last year, I am reminded that my last several years of life have consisted of many difficult circumstances. Things that have shaped me, molded me...changed me. I've been injured in more ways than one. My physical body has gone through hell and back again as it attempts to fight disease. I've had my fair share of doctor's visits and have understood that not all physical things can be healed and return back to normal functioning. My body has experienced new ways of needing to compensate each time I find myself dealing with the effects of Lyme, again, and each 'remission' looks totally different from the last. I have needed to understand that my body will never be the same, and that's okay. However, when I look back on even the last year, I recognize that I have gone through a lot of very difficult things. I don't need to spell it all out in a blog, but my bet is that some of you reading have experienced some pain as well. Many of us find ourselves in the midst of painful chaos, not knowing how to move on or how to find healing. I know I have and most days I find myself still crawling out of the rubble of the last year or even several years. It's as if we've been emotionally or spiritually crippled and it seems as though it takes as long as the physical trauma we've suffered, if not longer, to find 'normal' again.

     The art of healing, both physically and emotionally, is a long road sometimes. Things happen to us and in us that make our invisible suffering as painful or more painful than that of a broken limb and somehow, when people go through deep emotional suffering, those of us on the outside forget how difficult it can be to put one foot in front of the other. We see people all around us, hurting, suffering, limping along so to speak, and we give them a few weeks to snap back to normal functioning, forgetting that suffering takes time. Suffering, just like a broken limb or a diseased body, is an inconvenience but a broken limb is easy to see and understand. I don't think this is always so with internal suffering. As I ponder my suffering over the last year, I am reminded that just as my diseased body needs more rest than when I am in remission, so does my bruised heart. Just as I need to do physical therapy to rehabilitate after surgery, I may need to do some heart therapy to rehabilitate a broken or bruised heart. Just as I need to be patient with the healing process of my broken body, I also need to be patient with the healing process of my soul.

     I wonder, can a broken bone ever completely return to its original state? I'm not sure it can. It's those rainy days that cause a broken and now healed bone to ache or the overuse of a bone that has healed but is not quite as strong as it used to be. I wonder if this is true of a broken heart or a bruised soul. In times that I have walked through the darkest of valleys, it has taken time to heal, but it is a continuous process, I think. Even years later, when a once wounded part of my heart is pushed on too much or exposed to the things that have once wounded it deeply, my heart can easily begin to ache again. Things that I will carry with me for life...moments of pain, loss, loneliness...suffering; these things are always with me long after healing has happened. There are some things that linger on for a lifetime; things that cause us to make a daily decision to face and find more healing. Like a broken bone, a broken heart will heal, but the scar tissue is always present.

     As I reflect on this last year of life, I am continually changing and finding a new normal. Who I was yesterday is not who I am today. As I grow and heal, I am different. next month I will be different from last month because over and over again, I am being healed. The art of healing is recognizing that each day of healing looks different. The art of healing is understanding that as I heal I must find a new 'normal' and I can never return to the person I had been before the breaking of my heart or the bruising of this life. Suffering changes us, whether physical or internal. The process of healing will take place, but sometimes the art of healing is a lifetime of changing and a life time of discovering all over again who we are in the midst of trauma and pain.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Making the Dead Alive

I'm not a fan of death. I know that probably sounds obvious. No one really likes death, right? So many of us find ourselves nervous about the reality of our own mortality and the process of dying. But, I'm not talking about my own life here.
     Though I'm not a fan of losing my own life, what I really hate is the feeling of loss. The kind of loss that forces me to say 'Goodbye' or the kind of loss that forces me to realize that life isn't quite what I thought it would be and life isn't really going to turn out the way I had hoped. Have you ever been there? It's moments when you think to yourself 'I'd give anything to have _______back again'. It's moments where you realize that your dreams are slipping through your fingers or that person you loved so deeply is gone forever. It's that moment when you realize you will never get to see that person again or live that life you thought you had ahead of you or hold that child in your arms or walk down that sidewalk's then we find we are at the end of ourselves. Life is no longer what we thought and we feel that punch to the stomach and the lump in our throats. I think we've all been there and each of us, if given just a moment, could bring that sick feeling to our gut again. Have you been there? Are you there right now?

Loss. Life suddenly Shattered.
                The loss of a life. The loss of a dream. The loss of a friend. The loss of a future.

     Let me shift gears for a moment. I have always loved the idea of dead things coming alive. No, not in the creepy zombie kind of way that seems to fascinate so many around me. Rather, people, dead in their hearts, finding life again. One of my favorite Bible stories is one in Ezekiel when God creates an army out of a valley of dry bones. If you haven't read it, check it out. It will blow your mind (Ezekiel 37:1-10). It's dead stuff coming alive. Crazy. Can you see it? The gritty picture of tendons being reconnected, flesh being put on like clothing. Can you imagine?!

     How about the story of Lazarus (John 11)? A dead man, called forth from a tomb. In fact, Martha, one of the women in the story, tries to tell Jesus not to roll back the stone that was in front of the tomb because she knows by that point - four days after Lazarus' death - that he is going to wreak! Death stinks...literally. Loss of any kind is not for the faint of heart. The experience itself is offensive, painful, smelly, surreal. It has such an impact, at least on me, that most times I don't even want to roll back the stone to look at it. It's ugly. It's incredibly painful.

     I don't know what loss you've experienced. Maybe you just lost a spouse and you're staring at a future without the one person who really knew who you are. Maybe you're arms are literally aching for that child you once had but never had the chance to hold - your heart feeling like it may never recover. Maybe you witnessed the painful decline of a mother or father who no longer recognized you or knew your name. Perhaps you've lost the one person in your life who always believed in you - who always knew just what to say. What have you lost? Who have you lost?

     I will not tell you that things will make sense here on this earth. I will not tell you in simple platitudes that God has a plan and that God will make your suffering into something glorious. I believe those things are true, but I refuse to put them on such deep wounds like a simple bandaid. Rather, I wish to sit across from you in a coffee shop, hold your hands across the table and tell you as the tears role down my cheeks and yours, 'Dear friend, I know you can't see it now, but God is here and He can handle all of your questions, your pain, your anger, and your brokenness. Take it to Him.' I do not wish to sweep your pain under a rug to avoid the hard questions. I cannot pretend to understand fully why God has allowed the losses I've experienced in my own life or the losses you've experienced in yours, to happen. I could come up with some great theological ideals to make pain seem more palatable, but to do so without first sitting with you in your pain and truly experiencing your suffering with you would be wrong and dismissive. To do so without wrapping my arms around you and crying with you would miss a major part of the Gospel.

     I've always loved the idea of things that are dead coming to life. Like a tree that looks completely dead but one day begins to sprout and the tiniest bit of green begins to peek out of the dead stuff. A dead tree can sometimes look like a complete loss; something irredeemable, rotten, or beyond hope. But then, after some rain to moisten its roots, sunshine to nourish its cells, and time to heal and grow, suddenly there's life again. Suddenly death turns into life and hope begins to grow. I love 'Lazarus' stories where all hope seems lost, but then there's life. I love stories about broken down, dry bones coming to life again and finding meaning and purpose again. I wonder if that's the miracle of life. We once were dead, but made alive. We experience loss and somehow that makes us more alive, more able to feel, more able to have compassion on those around us experiencing the same thing. The pain is so real, but when we let hope in, we move from death to life once more.

     Friend, I don't know what you've experienced. What have you experienced that has brought you to the end of yourself? What have you gone through that has been so incredibly painful that you're terrified to roll back the stone and experience because you're afraid to know what it's really like on the other side?
In the midst of great loss, whatever it is, may you find comfort in the One who is capable of bringing hope in death. May you find strength in the One who is always making the dead alive

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I'm Out of Control!

     I guess it's time for a bit of an update. September brought the end of my first six week IV treatment regimen and I dreaded its ending. Though the doctor agreed that I needed a bit more antibiotics, knowing that I don't have the several thousand dollars it would take to make me well again, we decided that the next best course of action would be to stop treatment and capitulate to the insurance company...for now. If we are doing it the insurance way, I was allowed twenty eight infusions (spread over six weeks), followed by a four to six week break, and then more blood tests to measure what was going on inside my body. On September 30, anxious about what I was going to soon hear, I walked into the doctor's office, ready to discover what my blood work from the week before had shown. It's a long story, and perhaps sometime I will break down the ins and outs of Lyme and insurance, but to make it short, the doc and I were not optimistic that they would be paying for another round. It was a waiting game. But, with the four week break, it was possible that they would treat me as if this was a new case. That was the hope.

     Not to my surprise, my levels of Lyme went down slightly. When I say slightly, I mean very slightly. At the beginning of this current Lyme battle, levels were at +1.64 (you only need +.90 to be positive!), at the end of September they were at +1.61. Not much of a difference, but I'll take any improvement over this wretched disease as a victory; no matter how small. In that moment, I was elated, but as the doc continued to speak, I found myself feeling woozy and on the edge of tears. I was stressed about this appointment already, but as the doctor relayed the rest of the test results my anxiety spun out of control and I felt as though any more information would send me over the edge into sheer panic. His voice began to drown out and all I could hear for a moment was "Here's the probably won't pay. Insurance doesn't have to pay even though you're still very sick" What?! But they have to!! I'm sick! I can't live like this the rest of my life!! Thoughts flew through my mind like a crazed bird flying from a predator.

     As I composed myself, essentially, what the doctor was saying is because I was getting better the insurance may not think I was sick enough to allow me to have the rest of the treatment needed to get me completely healthy again. If you don't know anything about Lyme testing, I assure you, it is hardly ever accurate through normal blood labs. Side note: Igenix and MDL labs are the only labs in the country that have nearly 100% accurate testing. Anyway, one of the tests run to determine positive Lyme was equivocal this time around. I won't go into the details in this blog because it would be too long, but this did not mean I wasn't sick any longer, only that I was making some progress, though still very sick. Another long story short, insurance did not have to pay for my second round of treatment because of these new results. How crazy! I left the office that day, stressed, anxious, angry, confused, worried, and concerned. My thoughts rolled around in my exploding mind like tumbleweed on the plains of a flat and barren Midwestern state. What was I going to do? Surely I did not have the $15,000 or so that it would cost to get another six weeks of treatment. I was completely overwhelmed.

     The next two weeks went by, slow as molasses as I waited to hear whether insurance would pay for my treatment or not. The doctor and I assumed that this would be an uphill battle, and we were already preparing for what to do if they wouldn't pay. I was scared. Finally, on the Thursday before my scheduled PICC insertion, I called the doctor's office to see what was happening. To my surprise, the secretary on the other end said words that totally lifted my burdens. She said "Oh, yes, honey, I called them last week and they said there was no authorization required." I quickly retorted "So that means they will pay?" "Yep! That's what they said last time they paid!" My heart immediately calmed and I took a deep breath. "Thank you! See you Monday!"

     Instantly my mind wandered. Oh, how little faith I had these past several days. Did I not trust that God could handle the stubborn insurance company? What would have happened if they didn't agree to pay? I concluded three things that afternoon; three options that could have happened. One, the insurance would agree to pay and I would find healing through the gift of medicine. Two, insurance would not agree to pay and God would heal me somehow either in this life or the next. And three, the insurance wouldn't pay but God would be prepared to supply the money I would need to pay all of those bills off. All options afford my healing in the end. This spoke volumes to me. I don't know if I will ever be well in this lifetime. I don't know if my healing will come through medications or through miraculous healing. I don't know if my healing will only come after this life. But I do know that even when my life is out of control, I can trust that God is fully in control. I don't need to worry about the little details because He already has taken care of them. What is my life if I live or die? It is worth more than the little details of each day, in and out.

     As I sit and write, I have just finished my first week of six weeks of infusions. I am reminded of this little PICC line in my arm, reaching to my heart because of the little twinge of pain it is giving me. But that little twinge of pain also reminds me that God has answered some huge prayers. My insurance company will pay for most of the medical bills for the next six weeks. I don't know what happens from there, but I need to remember that I don't need to worry about that. God knows. God is in control and I can trust Him with my very life.

     What are you struggling to trust God for these days, friends? May your heart be filled with peace, and know that even when you are out of control (or in control) God is in complete control and has your best in mind. Peace, friends.