Who Gets the Praise?

It is tempting at the least to want to live your life for yourself, but the truth is the exact opposite. The praise of man is not where it is at. Please God and not yourself. Live a life that will glorify Him and then one day He will lift you up and you will be glorified as well when you see Him face to face. Praise God…do good things…lay up your treasures in Heaven.

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18 ESV)

Love Lifted Me

Chasing Answers – Part II

…(This is a continuation of Chasing Answers Part I).

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!

 

Chasing Answers – Part I

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.

TodayNotecard1

Olympic National Park

“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.”

Continue on to Chasing Answers – Part II

In His Sight

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! HowMuchMoreImageBearer

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?g 28And 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.

Do Not Be Anxious

Matthew 6:25-34, ESV

“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?