I know you all haven’t heard from me in awhile, but I’m still around. This last year has been a year of pain and healing from a herniated disc with sciatica, relationships, and a recent huge career move, which was an arduous process in and of itself, while still working on new music projects.
If you have enjoyed my music and message I put out there, then I hope you’ll be excited to know that I have a new single that will be released soon, “Near”, and also a personal worship EP, “Sacred Space”, that includes a re-mix of Rest (sung by me), and three other new songs.
Near is about how God is near to the broken-hearted. Life happens and some things are just beyond what you ever thought you could go through or handle. When your spirit is crushed and you feel all hope is gone, He can give you just enough to go one breath farther.
I’m excited about Sacred Space because it’s a project compiled of songs from my time of co-writing with other talented Songwriters while I was living in Franklin, TN last year (2016).
You will enjoy the soft, inspirational and worshipful vocals as usual, along with some awesome instrumentals by amazingly talented Nashville session players, that will transport you to a higher place…a Sacred Space!
In the intensity of the “not knowing” waiting for test results on your health to come back can be so stressful. Even when you try to turn the anxious thoughts over every day, every moment. Like I mentioned in the previous post, Part I, worrying about it doesn’t add a single hour to your life, in fact it does just the opposite, robs you of enjoying the moment, being in the present, is physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting, and weighs you down.
I didn’t realize how much my worry over what was going on in my body was weighing me down, until I received the phone call from the Hematologist/Oncologist to reassure me right after my CT scans on a Tuesday afternoon, that no other blood clots or major concerns showed up in them. The things that did show up were “unremarkable”. I was so relieved. I like being unremarkable in this instance. So grateful to the doctor for calling me. He wanted to reassure me so I wouldn’t worry until my follow-up appointment that Friday. Is that not the grace of God in a moment of need?
I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders. As much as I thought I had been turning things over and letting go and trusting God, the worries were still heavy enough that I felt the release of them after the phone call. The tension in my body left and I breathed a big sigh of thankfulness.
On Friday the answers were vague. All the blood tests were with in normal ranges and negative for the things I was concerned about. Another huge relief, but yet no answers to why I clot except that I have a genetic predisposition for it. This in a sense is an answer. Ok, that’s it. I need to live with it. I was born with it. Accept it. Be diligent with my medication and my testing. Take my testing equipment with me whenever I travel. Doctor’s orders while on long road trips, especially as I was leaving for my tour, to get out of the car every two hours and move around for a few minutes. Inconvenient, since I like to get in the car and just drive, drive, drive…but I have to do it.
I am grateful to know that there are no more major concerns. I am content to know that I just clot and that is the worst of it (although I wish I didn’t). I am blessed with good doctors and medical care so that I can manage this medical condition and still do most the things I like to do, except play with sharp objects and do dangerous, adventurous activities (sometimes I still do, I’m just a little more cautious). 🙂
I honestly don’t think we will ever be immune to worry or anxieties in this world. But God has given us a remedy for it, to manage it well:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 4:4-7, NIV)
1. He is near. That is reassuring.
2. Bring your worry to Him – pray and petition Him with it.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask Him for what you need. He longs to hear from you.
4. Rejoice that no matter what, He holds all your answers, hears your prayers, wants you to trust Him with whatever He thinks you can go through, because He is near and He will be with you.
5. Be thankful. You have a place to go to for everything you need, because of your salvation in Christ Jesus.
6. He will give you His perfect peace when nothing makes sense. His peace will keep you and help you to stay focused when the storms swirl around you.
7. Not knowing keeps you trusting in Him and challenges you to let go of your control issues of wanting to know and to accept His control and will for your life.
8. When you are anxious, you can be irritable with life and with others. If you practice continual turning over of your worry to Him, His peace that He gives to you will allow you to have more grace and to be gentle with others.
And don’t forget…you are here for a purpose, even to be a testimony through your trials. Don’t let them take you off course when you are anxious and afraid. He has conquered death. He holds you in the palm of His hand. He will never leave or forsake you!
I am not chasing my answers right now. I am accepting the unknown. I’ll journey with you in your unknowns as we keep plugging along! Don’t give up!
Maybe some might think this is a little personal to share, but I am going to err on the side of sharing it in the hope that it might bring encouragement to someone else out there who is dealing with the unknowns of medical health issues. It’s my reality of “where I am” (yes, and a pun intended on the words with the new album title) and with an upcoming tour, something I have to deal with diligently.
10 years ago, when I was 36 I had my first TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack). It caused blindness, like a vertical shade going across my right eye for about 10 seconds and then I experienced some droopiness on the left-side of my face and then left-sided weakness in my arm down to my hand the next day. My doctor put me on warfarin, an anti-coagulant, right away. We searched and found the answer to it via a TEE (Trans Esophageal Echocardiogram): a finger like blood clot attached along the inside wall of the left atrial appendage of my heart happily fluttering back and forth. Culprit.
About a year later my body finally broke down the clot and I had another episode. This time a small stroke. Again left-sided weakness. Apparently what was left of the clot dislodged. A follow-up TEE showed it was gone. After that first TIA my doctor sent me to specialists and we ruled out many things. The Hematologist could not figure out why I was clotting. All the tests he ran were negative. He said since there was no reason why I should be clotting, I could come off the warfarin. I didn’t feel comfortable with that and did not want to experience the effects of another stroke. So I stayed on the warfarin, and I am glad I did, in hindsight.
Fast forward through 10 years of all the hassles of bleeding, blood coagulation testing, and beautiful bruises…
I had just returned from my last trip to Nashville the beginning of May. I woke up one morning and had what seemed like another episode of a TIA. It didn’t quite feel the same, as I had swelling, redness and numbness on the left side of my face, but then I had the left-sided weakness and numbness in my arm and hand with some tingling in my fingers. That part was similar. I monitored the symptoms all day and when they weren’t resolving, I decided to go to the clinic, but they immediately sent me to the ER due to my stroke history.
I was mad. I didn’t want to go to the ER and make a big deal about this. More blood tests, an MRI and a CT scan with contrast revealed a left Cerebral Venous Sinus thrombosis in the back of my head, but the blood was still managing to flow through the clot. My INR had gotten low while I was traveling and had probably been non-therapeutic for two weeks. Maybe enough time to form and throw a clot, but it didn’t make sense because it would be traveling the other direction in my system. They also noted stenosis in a vertebral artery. Most likely unrelated? How could I still be clotting after 10 years of being on an anti-coagulant. I confess, I am scared.
A lot of other health signs and symptoms I have had over the past decade have made me wonder if it isn’t something more, or different, causing the clots. I have dealt with shingles, joint pain, fatigue, alopecea areata, asthma, allergies, swelling in my face and hands, Rosacia and strokes with this blood clotting issue. I personally think it’s something systemic with my auto-immune system. But I’m not a doctor. And they don’t seem to like it when I look up my symptoms and play doctor. But hey, I am an intelligent woman and a counselor. I love research and getting down to the bottom of things. I am also a “need to know” kind of person. If I know what I am dealing with, I can some how “control” it and figure out how to manage it better. Ha! God has reminded me, I am human and He is God.
But here’s the thing: as I go through all the questions “why” again, after so many years on the warfarin and start to see the specialists again: neurologist, hematologist, etc., I find myself being obsessed with chasing down the answers. I don’t have the answers. I want the answers. I am tired of dealing with this “unknown” in my life. I have music to share and my stories. I have been dealing with the unknowns fairly well with my music ministry and enjoying the great adventure of the unknown of where God is taking me with it, but it is very hard for me to consider this unknown, when my physical body and health are under attack. To call it a great adventure? I don’t know, maybe in time I will? Certainly, I am assured of where my adventure ends and that will be a glorious day. But until then? Quite possibly, this is another story I take with me to my concerts.
I’ve had to adjust my life to a chronic blood clotting disorder, most the time taking it for granted, because I’ve had it for so long and have just adapted to the daily routine. But now, once again I am very much aware of how vulnerable I am, and how fragile life is. I can get blood clots even while on my anti-coagulant. That is NOT a comforting thought to me. I am going to have to make more adjustments in my life that will be “inconvenient”.
I’ve always known that at any point God could require my life. Every breath I take has always been a gift from Him while on this earth. I’ve known this ever since I born pre-mature at 29 weeks gestation. I stopped breathing and was down to 2 lbs 12 oz and turning blue. My doctor resuscitated me and I know it was the breath of God that he breathed back into me. I am here for His purpose and His pleasure. So I know that at any moment, He could take that breath away. Or, I could live with a paralysis or be incapacitated somewhere in my body, stroke-related, and be unable to do the things I enjoy doing right now: singing, speaking, playing piano, hugging, walking, driving, feeding myself, putting clothes on, thinking clearly…the list could be unending. I think too much.
Testing continues. Next, rare blood tests, CT scan with contrast of my body from chest to pelvis. Looking for clots or something else. “Don’t freak that you are seeing a Hematologist that also carries the title of Oncologist”. Still chasing the answers. But today’s answer is “not yet”. I think, today, I will reflect on His goodness instead. Because it’s the one thing I do have control over, and putting one step in front of the other. I need Him, every hour, every day.
“Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22, ESV
So I think I will call this blog “Part I” and make it an ongoing series until I have the answers (or am content to leave things unanswered). Anyone relate or care to join me in this journey?
I wrote a song on my new album I just released that applies to this so well. I wrote it in regards to following the path of “unknowns” as a believer. Maybe this will resonate in your heart as it does in mine.
May God bless you, be with you, and comfort you in your “in-betweens”.
“You will meet me in the in-between
Where I’m not sure of many things
But your love and your grace
And how they carry me to this place.
You will meet me in the in-between
Where yesterday and tomorrow meet
Oh speak to me, speak to me, You speak to me
In the in-between.”
Released my new music video today with Creative Soul Records for Deep Into You. It was a fun and mellow acoustic set with Dave Cleveland and Mark Burchfield at Mark’s Watershed Recording Studio, Nashville, TN. I was so honored to have the two of them play for me. Dave was instrumental (ha, no pun intended) in pulling the whole thing off! Thanks Dave! This is the first video of a series of 3. Two more will be released in the near future! 😉
Ever look in amazement at the beauty of God’s creation? Do you ever wonder how it manages to survive the weather, the storms, the drought, the passage of time, etc? Consider how “clothed” in beauty this creation is in it’s nature. Even looking under the microscope at a grain of sand or a snowflake is incredible with detail.
Likewise pictures into space reveal His awesome power and vastness in creation. To think that God took such care in everything that He created, it’s amazing! How much more He will take care of you, as the only one in all of His creation, that is created in His image!
So try not to worry, He’s got you taken care of. Trust Him that He is always good, even when you can’t see His goodness. We live in a fallen, sinful world. Bad things are going to happen. There is an opposing force of evil working against us (because we ARE created in His image). He is faithful and true and He keeps His promises through the generations. He is consistent in His word.
Even though He knows what you need, He wants to hear personally from you. Talk to Him, ask Him, then trust His timing and answer. I like to hold on to my worry. In fact, it isn’t until I stop and start praying for my worry and need that all of the sudden it is lifted from me. If I find myself starting to worry about it again, I just remind myself, “nope, I already asked God for help with that. He will take care of me.” Sometimes it requires an action or stepping out in faith to meet Him there. Oh yeah, you know that expression…”Wait for it…wait for it…wait for it…” Seriously, you won’t bring back any youthfulness by worrying, but you can find the joy of youthfulness by letting go! He loves to take care of you!
Matthew 6:25-33, ESV
25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?g28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
I just checked the tracking of my CDs and they are now in Seattle! They arrive tomorrow evening! FINALLY!!! (Can you see me trying to jump up and down?)
My producer and I are busy working on the new website, marketing plan and materials, bookings, etc.
SAVE THE DATES: WHERE I AM – RELEASE DATE set for May 6. RELEASE CONCERT for WHERE I AM was approved for May 9, 2014 @ 7 p.m., SEQUIM COMMUNITY CHURCH! My friend Jeremy Cays will be helping me with the production of the concert. We are going to have a live band backing me, so we are looking forward to a great evening of a lot of fun!
I have also just confirmed a small concert at The LIVING ROOM LODGE-Calvary Chapel Eastside in Bellevue, WA, Friday – May 2, 2014! So if you live in the Seattle Area and want to come hear a pre-release of my new album in an intimate setting… SAVE THE DATE! The night will begin at 7 p.m. and I will be the featured artist on-stage at 8:15!
So as you can see, I am busy working on booking concerts and coming up with a marketing plan for the album! And now it’s going to get REALLY busy!
On top of it all, a couple of visits to the ER and a night’s stay in the hospital, just a week after getting back from my Nashville trip, revealed a diagnosis of another blood clot a couple of weeks ago. This time in my cerebral venous sinus and the vein is severely restricted, but fortunately the blood is still able to flow through the center of it. There is also some blockage in a vertebral artery in my neck.
9 years ago I had a couple of TIA’s and a small stroke from a clot in the Left Atrial Appendage of my heart and I have been on anti-coagulant therapy ever since (with no answers why my blood clots like this), so we are pretty baffled as to why this is still happening.
But thankfully, God isn’t surprised by any of this, and I know He is still very good and in control. He has a plan with all of this! I do tend to worry a bit, so I really appreciate all your prayers to cover me as the doctors and specialists work on trying to figure this out as I continue to step out in faith with the release of this project…it’s WHERE I AM!
You know those emails you get with the please forward to 10 people and email it back to the person that sent it to you? I don’t like forwarding or replying to them, but sometimes I read them and think, oh that’s nice, or… I don’t believe that… But this morning I read one and I really liked some thoughts in it, so I thought I would share it:
“If God brings you to it, He will bring you
Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.
Every moment, thank God.”
I have been through every one of these moments this past year. No matter what happens in life, especially things you can’t change or understand why they are happening, I choose to believe God is at the center of my leaning into Him for my everything to get through these trials. It’s not the praise of man that I seek or worry about. It is the adoration of my Savior that I want to keep front and center. If my life does not reflect that example, then I have failed to show you the best reason of why I live and why He lives for you and me.
Sometimes change requires quietly and boldly moving in new directions. Our paths may intersect from time to time, run parallel or even go in opposite directions, but know that as a friend or family member, you are a gift from God and I love you! Just a little reflection time this morning and wanting to wish you the very best in 2013! Maranatha!
In thinking about Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem, He fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah so it would be complete “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey.” Zech 9:9, ESV
When we think about his triumphal entry into our own hearts (when we first placed our faith in Him), did we hope that He would take all our suffering away, right then and there? Did we hope, like the Jews of His day, that trusted and believed in Him, that He would establish His kingdom right then and there and reign righteously, forever? That we wouldn’t experience any more suffering at the hands of others? Much to all of our earthly disappointments, He did not do what we thought He should do, but He did what was greater for us by establishing His kingdom eternally, which is yet to be seen here on earth – except in the body of His Church at this time. He has set an example of entry… a low and humble righteous king, not any different than the low and humble babe born in a stable with smelly animals and a feed trough not fit for a king…yet it was! Because it was all a part of prophecy being fulfilled. And there is still more to come. God’s word is true and He is faithful. Scripture proves scripture!
What if, our pain and suffering brings us down low in humility to learn how to be the same servant that washed the feet of those we love and those whom we know will betray us. Will they find out who He is as a result? What am I willing to allow in my life? Will you and I allow Jesus to cleanse the temple of our hearts? Because that is where He went next… and after He did, He healed the blind and the lame and the children praised Him. Will we see? Will we walk? Will we praise?
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
There are so many troubles and worries in our world right now. Nothing is sure except the fact that God remains the same, from beginning to end. Such great hope! Everything He said in His word has come true, is true and will come true. He is the God of the past, the present and the future. Nothing happens that doesn’t surprise Him. If He cared so much to put everything into place for you and me, don’t you think He cares enough to provide all of our answers and needs? And if He knows you down to numbering even the tiniest hairs on your head, to know you before you were even knitted in your mother’s womb, how much more will He continue on until the day of completion all the work He began in you. Worry will rob us of being able to enjoy all that He has for us today. Trust that He will take care of you. He has conquered! And in the end, at the name of Jesus, EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (Phil 2:11, ESV) Try to extend your vision outward on the big picture. How can you trust in the One who made you and remain faithful to wait upon His provisions instead of taking it into your own hands? Is it possible He will grow your character in the meantime and continue to mature you into His own likeness?