Thursday, October 30, 2008

Just some thoughts in 2008

I do not want to get into any political debates. I am thankful to live in a country where we are free to vote for what we believe is best, and today I did just that.But before I am an American, I belong to the Kingdom of God. And I am just very saddened by the way that a very well known Christian organization has chosen to use fear tactics in an attempt to sway people.

No matter who you are voting for, the "Letter from 2012 in an Obama America" does not reflect the spirit of Christ. And no matter who you are voting for, GOD IS IN CONTROL, and He has not given us a spirit of fear. I just find this letter divisive and sad, and it has absolutely nothing to do with who I do or do not want in the White House. It has more to do with the God I know, who is over all and in all, and who created and loves imperfect people, not democrats and republicans. There are lots of things that could "possibly" happen, no matter who is in office. In fact, there probably could be a letter(not even hypothetical) written, looking back from 2004, that includes some very horrible events. I can see how a non-Christian may be motivated in their voting by fear, but as children of God, we have been delivered from fear. I just think things like this are what turn people away from the Lord, not towards Him. And as Christians, isn't THAT our job? Not to slander our brothers or to tell people who to vote for or not vote for...but to point people to Christ. I just pray more than anything, that non-Christians will not view this letter as a true picture of who God is, or the kind of people He wants us to be. Jim Wallis wrote a good response

I am not endorsing a candidate here. That's not really the point. I just want people to remember that on November matter what the outcome...God will still be on His throne. And I just don't see how something like this does anything to proclaim that.

So blue, red, or somewhere in between...praise God that HE holds the future in His hands.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

just an update

I promise that I am going to post some pictures of my sweet boys soon...For some reason I am having trouble posting pictures here and on facebook...very frustrating.

But I just wanted to say that, yes, I am still here. I am still trying to make it through each day, and am very grateful to still be at home and not back in the hospital. I have very good days, and there are still some very bad days. I am not at all complaining, just hoping to clarify because I know it can get confusing. We did have a great breakthrough with the surgery that they were able to do during my last hospital stay; my doctor thinks its been one of the biggest breakthroughs we have had. But I am still dealing with the other issues that have been there this whole time. They have not gone away. Rather than being like a key and a lock, my health is more like a big puzzle, with several pieces. We have several of those pieces...some things have been treated, some require ongoing treatement, and some we just don't know how to treat so we learn how to manage instead. While they found the stones and removed those, and have done two surgeries to open up my bile ducts, I still deal with the pancreatitis, gastroparesis, abnormal liver function, and adhesions from all my scar tissue. My doctor has been very sure to remind me of this. He says that I am not cured, but stable. And we want to keep it that way as long as is possible. I still have to be very careful...with what I eat, with how much I exert myself...but I am also still trying to push myself. But I am also still praying every single day for complete and total healing. No matter what the Lord's answer, I am grateful for each good day that He gives me. On some days there might only be good moments...and I am grateful for those too.

Like I have said before, I know that God owes me absolutely nothing...and I have already been blessed beyond what I could imagine. He has carried us through so much, and has given us new eyes to see and a new peace with whatever our circumstances. I hope this doesn't sound negative...and I hope this doesn't discourage anyone...because prayers have been answered...we have been given more answers than we had before. And I am learning how to better manage my other ongoing health issues, so that I can have a better quality of life. Does this mean I will never be in the hospital again? I don't know...I hope so, but I don't know. But I have learned to be grateful for rejoice in the moment and to delight in the small things. And that has made a huge difference in my life.

I am so thankful to be at home with my boys and to be doing more and more things that feel...normal. It has been good to see friends that I haven't see in so long...friends that have been such a great support for me and for my family. I can't say it enough that we would not be making it through all of this without the wonderful community of friends and family that surrounds us. We have been so blessed by the prayers of so many, and we continue to ask for prayers for healing and for peace with whatever God's will is as far as my health. Sometimes it feels selfish to continue to ask for prayers, when people have been praying for so long and when others around us that we love are also going through very hard things. But I know that is silly, because we serve a God who is big enough for all of it, and who longs for us to cry out to Him. So we will cry out. No matter what happens, we have grown closer as a family and closer to the God who gives us new life every day. We have new appreciation for the verse that tells us His mercies are new every morning. I just try to keep my eyes and heart open and then, even on the darkest of days, I can still see blessing and still feel His presence.

I'll leave you with another verse that I have known all my life; that has taken on a whole new personal meaning for me. While I can't say I have perfected this, I am getting better at being content, and relying on God for my strength to get through each day. After all, when I am weak, He is strong. And He is always matter how hard the day will come to an end...and I CAN get through it...because my strength doesn't depend on whether I am sick or well...

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.~Philippians 4:12-13

Sunday, October 19, 2008

coming up for air

People keep asking why I haven't updated tell the truth, it is a little overwhelming. I know, I should not let myself get overwhelmed by a BLOG! But there has just been so much going on and it is hard to know where to start. But I am going to try and at least give a little update...not because I think people are just on the edge of their seats waiting to read my latest blog entry...but because I know that so many people have gotten on their knees and gone to the Father for me countless times...especially in the last two years...and if nothing else, I need to continue to say thank you to all of you...those I know, and many that I may never know. Your prayers are so very appreciated. And as I have told many people...I really do believe that God has been working on me through all of this...working on my marriage...on my kids...on my whole family...but I am also convinced that God is bringing me through all of this for reasons far beyond myself and any way I can point it all back to Him, and maybe even touch someone else, I am going to try.

So, if you have read the post previous to this one, you know that I just recently returned home from another long hospital stay at UT Southwestern in Dallas where I saw another set of specialists. I was able to have a very specialized test done, where they were able to identify a blockage and some stones that have probably been there for a very long time. They would not have been able to see this without this specific test that is only done at that hospital. The next morning they did yet another surgery on me to clean all of that out and hopefully give me some relief. It is not a cure-all, but it is definitely a huge piece of the puzzle that has been missing this 10 years. We were in the right place at the right time with the best doctors possible...not a coincidence of course! The test that they did is very rare and specialized, and we were so fortunate to be in the hospital that has one of the leading doctors in that area of specialization. As my main internist said..."We just had to wait for technology to catch up with Christine's body"!

I have been at home for a couple of weeks now and I am slowly trying to return to normal activities...I have actually made it through a whole week with the boys all by myself...which in any other case, would make me feel like a horrible mother...but right now, feels like a big accomplishment! I am definitely feeling better than I was...which really doesn't say much considering I was at one of my lowest points prior to this last hospitalization. But really...I can tell a difference. I am not completely healed, I still have good days and days that are not so good where I can't eat and have considerable pain...but like my title says...I feel like we are finally coming up for a long awaited breath of fresh air, after a very long time of feeling like we were drowning.

We truly believe that we serve a God who can, at any time, choose to heal me completely in an instant. But through all of this, I have also been blessed with a peace even at the thought that I may have to deal with some level of pain for the rest of my life. Thanks to my wonderful team of doctors though...that level seems like it will be much lower and more manageable. I am still on quite a bit of medication, and will be for awhile. I still have to be very careful not to overexert myself, and of course with what I eat...and I follow up with my doctors very regularly to try and avoid flare-ups and hospitalization. Luckily, now that we have this team of specialists in place that are familiar with my complicated medical history...if I do have a flare-up my internist just wants me to go straight to Dallas and avoid any unnecessary ER visits or testing, so that I can hopefully start getting treated much more quickly and efficiently(a HUGE blessing). So as excited as we are...I am trying to be careful and patient. I know that it is going to take awhile to get back to 100%. My energy level and immunity is low and I am still considerably weak, just from being sick and in a hospital bed for so long. So I am taking it slow, and just trying to push myself each day to do a little bit more than I did the day before.

It has been wonderful to get out of the house more...especially with this AMAZING weather...Fall is my FAVORITE! And I am just enjoying being with my boys and being able to play with them more. Jack asks me almost every day, "Mommy, are you feeling so much better? You don't have to go to the hospital today, do you?". It breaks my heart, but also brings me joy that my son, at only the age of 4 is able to know God as Jehovah Raphae, our Healer, on such a personal level. We are able to show him tangible ways that God has answered the prayers we have prayed for so long now. I know that this has affected him deeply, probably more than we know...and I also know that God is already preparing in him a heart of compassion for those who are hurting. And my sweet Samuel...what a testimony he already has...of God healing both him and his mommy! And he is my little cuddlebug! If I can catch him, that is! He is all over the place...but it is so fun! He finally gave in and started saying "Mommy" and it is truly the sweetest thing I have ever heard...I could listen to him say it all day long!

I got to sing with the worship team and praise band for the first time in awhile at church a couple of weeks ago. It was so great to be able to do something that I love so much, and also something that just felt normal for a change. I was able to sing the song "Praise you in this Storm" by Casting Crowns, which I first sang at church about a year ago, not long after Sam was born. I don't usually let myself get emotional about songs that I am singing...I can usually separate that, while still trying to be authentic and heartfelt in my praise. But I had more trouble with this song than I probably ever have with any other. It is a hard song to sing vocally...and especially emotionally...probably for anyone. But with all we have been through in the last two years, and are still going was all I could do not to break down in the middle of the song. I knew in my heart that the Devil did not want me to sing that song. And that is really what got me through it...knowing that above all, no matter what the ultimate outcome is with my health...I will not allow Satan to steal our joy...GOD WILL GET ALL THE GLORY. So, it may not been the best that I have ever sang as far as vocal quality, but I have probably never meant what I was singing more. If you have never heard the song, I would urge you to look it up...or even just read the lyrics...they are powerful because they are real. They don't say...I will praise you when everything is wonderful and easy...instead, they say...I am hurting and I don't know where you are sometimes in all of this...but I do know that you have not left me and I will praise you amidst it all, because the God that I serve is bigger than anything I am going through. Matt and I were able to share some of our story and faith journey with the middle schoolers at Fort Worth Christian this last week, and I loved what Matt said to them. He told them that he had obviously prayed alot of prayers for me throughout all of this. Some were very proper and positive. And some were full of doubt and even anger about where God really was in all of this. And then Matt said to those kids...I hope that you know that God is big enough to handle both kinds of prayers. What he wants from you is to be authentic and to continue to cry out to Him. PRAISE GOD for that! I am so thankful that God knows our hearts and that He hears our prayers even they come from our darkest, and most ignorant places. I don't know where I would be without the prayers of so many. It is really and truly humbling to hear from people that I love and of people that I have never even met who have committed so much time and love to lifting me up in prayer. I am so grateful. I would ask that you continue to pray for us...for our peace in all of this, for continued healing and strength, for more answers if more questions arise, for our attempt to return to somewhat normal life...and most of all, to THANK GOD for his healing grace.

My mom shared some verses with you in the last post that have really meant alot to me lately. It really is amazing how alive the word of God is, and how words you have read many times can be so fresh and new to they can be just what you need to hear and how God uses exactly the right verse to speak to your heart at exactly the right time. I turned to another verse the other day that was also like this. It echoed the exact sentiments I am feeling lately. Because as much as I have cried out the Lord, even with anger and frustration at times, for healing, I know that He owes me absolutely nothing. This makes it all the more amazing to look back and see how greatly he has blessed us. I really want to find a special way to place this verse visibly in our home, so that we can always be reminded of just how much God loves us, and much He has carried us through...
It is 2 Samuel 7:18 and it reads,
"Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?"

I know that I am nothing. And yet I know that He has brought us to where we are because He loves us and because He has more for us. I have no doubt that better days are ahead, and I can't wait! But I also don't ever want to forget those moments in the deepest valleys where all we could do was hold on HIM. I truly hope that from this point I can live my life with a gratitude that reflects the many blessings He has poured out on my family. I have been sick for so long, that sometimes I think I may not even remember how to be well. But I know that even though my human body is not whole, my spirit is whole in Christ. I may not be able to run a marathon, my body may be a little older than the actual number of years it is been alive, and I may never receive an absolute clean bill of health. But I can live my life...pointing to the one who gave me life, the one who has saved my life over and over, and the one who will, one day, carry me into true and everlasting life.

I am going to try to be better about updating...keeping everyone posted on my condition...but more importantly...getting back to fun posts about my kids with cute pictures of course!