Saturday, January 28, 2012

Waiting Quietly

My heart is so full tonight after a wonderful day spent in prayer at the 4th Annual Metro West Presbytery Women's Day of Prayer.  I have gone each year and have come to live for this day each year as a great way to get away and get alone with God with promised uninterrupted time with my Savior.  I never come away disappointed!  Always, I walk away feeling refreshed and renewed with greater strength to do the work to which God has called me and a greater love for and communion with my Heavenly Father.

There is so much I want to write about that God has filled my heart with today, but I guess I should only unload in bits and pieces.  As part of the 2 hour personal prayer time (which, by the way, was an hour more than last year which I was thrilled to death about but still entirely not long enough!), I meditated on various Scripture in a means to be still and hear God speak to me.  Lamentations 3:22-25 really jumped out at me today in light of the ongoing trials we have faced the past several months.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
        his mercies never come to an end;
    they are new every morning;
        great is your faithfulness.
    “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
        “therefore I will hope in him.”
    The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
        to the soul who seeks him.
    It is good that one should wait quietly
        for the salvation of the LORD.
(Lamentations 3:22-26 ESV)

I stand today not consumed!  God's love has been life-preserving and a continual comfort.  Waiting has never been a strength for me, but the last few months, God has been working hard at teaching me to wait.  Slowly, I am getting it.  Bit by bit, I am learning to rest in His goodness and love and not question His plan for my life or my family's life.   

This morning, as I was leaving for the day of prayer, I was bemoaning the fact that as soon as I got home, I would need to start up David's antibody transfusion.  However, during this reflection and prayer time, God helped me realize that instead of being ungrateful for having to come home to do the transfusion, I can be grateful that my son is healthy and alive for me to do the transfusions.  These transfusions have truly saved his life and transformed the quality of his life.  How can I be ungrateful for God's goodness?

God has continued to deliver me from the unbearable migraine pain.  I continue with only the slightest dull ache in the head and feel like a totally new woman!  I cooked 4 meals from scratch this week which is the most I have done since being sick not to mention totally from scratch!  The boys are loving having their mommy back, and everyone is enjoying the dinners.  Although, I think Tim is not enjoying all of the extra dishes and pots and pans I am leaving for him to clean-up in the kitchen, but he would never complain, and I so appreciate his willingness to do the clean-up!

So, yes, I can truly say as this passage does, "The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD."  I pray that God will help me to continue to learn to wait quietly for Him!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

And finally...LIGHT at the end of the tunnel!

"For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness." ~ Psalm 18:28.

As difficult as it has been to always see God's light in the midst of the darkness of my suffering through the excruciating migraine pains of the past almost 3 months, the light has never gone out.  It has always been there even if I could not see it though my eyes of unbelief.  However, the light is most definitely bright and grows brighter daily!

This past Thursday, I saw my 3rd neurologist, who providentially was the neurologist who treated me while I was hospitalized in November.  After meeting with her on Thursday, she told me that she believes she knows what my problem is.  She thinks that my nerves are hyper-excitable and that they are locked in sending the pain impulse mode.  She thinks that is we can get my nerves in my brain to calm down, I will finally be able to be pain-free again.  So, I am now on a seizure drug (Topamax) to accomplish that goal.  Unfortunately, it will take 4-6 weeks to do its job, but I am just excited that relief is in sight!  After nearly 3 months, what's another 4 weeks?  Because of the insomnia I was experiencing among other troublesome side effects on the Effexor I was on to help control the pain, she switched me to a newer drug with fewer side effects (Lexapro) to help with the pain control.  She also thought it would be wise for me to stop taking tylenol and ibuprofen for the pain to allow my body to detox in light of the 15 different drugs I have been given in the last 3 months to try to control the pain.

I have done as the neurologist has ordered, and already, I am feeling so much better!  The pain is so much more functional!  My sunglasses are now staying in my car for driving only, and I am actually opening the blinds in my house.  The pain in my head is more of just a dull ache now which is nothing compared to what I have been dealing with.  Bright lights still bother me and really loud noises still bother me, but again, not to the magnitude as before.  I am praising the Lord for allowing me to find a doctor who could figure out the right drug combo to help me get relief.  I am also so excited that she gave me clearance for Tim and me to continue with our plans to spend some time fellowshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Asia Minor region in April.

The only trouble I am facing now is some severe nausea from one of the drugs.  I am calling my neurologist today hoping to get something to control the nausea so that I am not hindered by that and can go about my daily activities like I used to post-November!

Thanks again for partnering with me in prayer during this arduous journey!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Provision for Hope

This difficult battle with continuous migraine pain for the past 2 1/2 months has been a very hard time for me not to mention my family, and yet here we stand not consumed by our difficulties all because of God's wondrous grace.  We have seen first hand the fulfillment of God's promise to us in Isaiah 43:2:  "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,and the flame shall not consume you."

However, despite our resolve to keep trusting the Lord to bring us through this increasingly difficult time, it has not been easy to maintain hope, especially after crossing the 2 month mark, having just switched to yet another medication which was not controlling the pain as well and had even worse side effects than the other drugs.  Then, dealing with the battles of a neurologist office in which I could never speak to a medical professional, and my messages were never relayed properly or my phone calls returned, I really had to fight to keep on trusting the Lord. 

On Monday, it all came to a head for me when I tried for the umpteenth time to find out what my EEG results were and when I could see the doctor next, I found out that the results were normal and my neurologist said I could see her in 3 months!  Needless to say, I knew when I hung up the phone feeling dejected that it was time to move on to find a third neurologist.  Between yesterday and today, I called 5 different neurologist offices getting appointments as early as the end of February to as late as April.  Then, I came across one more neurology office which happened to be inside Pottstown Medical Memorial Hospital, and decided to give them a call.  They happened to have a cancellation for tomorrow and asked if I could come in.  I nearly fell out of my seat!  I said, "Absolutely!"  Then, I found out the appointment would be with the neurologist who cared for me when I was hospitalized back in November.  I felt she was really thorough and knowledgeable.  At that time, she was only working out of the hospital and not seeing outpatients, so I am really glad that things have changed!

At a time when hope was being lost, God opened the doors for provision for Hope!

  1.  A neurologist appointment for TOMORROW and chance for more answers/solutions!
  2.  Reminder of how my trust and hope can only be in God:  Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make    
    straight your paths.  (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)  This was a great reminder that I can't trust in doctors to give me the answers and make me well.  I can only trust God!  I must cling to Him, for He alone is my Hope!
  3. Renewed Hope that someday soon, I will dwell with God forever in a perfect and pain-free body! 
Praise the Lord!  Amen!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Year in Review

As I reflect on Mary's song in response to God's work in her life, I find that I too can praise God as she has for the work God has done in my own life.
...“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant...
...for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
(Luke 1:46-50 ESV)
This year has been extremely full.  I started off my year successfully completing my nursing boards and getting my RN license.  By April, I had a job through Personal Health Care as a home health nurse for special needs pediatric clients.  It definitely was not the hospital maternity job I wanted, but I have come to love my job and my clients tremendously.

In April, Tim and I took a large leap of faith in our pursuit to fulfill God's call on our lives for service in missions as we went on a Vision Trip to Bulgaria to see if that is where God would have us serve Him full time.  Our time there was amazing, and we could definitely see ourselves fitting into the ministries there and into the missionary family that is already serving there.  However, through many different circumstances God has brought into our lives this year, our pursuit of missions has once again been put on hold.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Joshua, now 7 years old, has had a good year in many ways.  He has come a significant way in his therapies for his Asperger's Syndrome.  He's definitely had some really rough spots this year with increased anxiety and behavior issues causing the addition of a new medication as well as dose adjustments to both to help him with his anxiety, impulse control, and focusing ability.  The most exciting parts of his year were when we passed his food challenges for both eggs and peanuts officially allowing him to be food-allergy free and lightening my purse significantly with not having to carry benadryl and epi-pens all of the time.
Joshua, 7 yrs. old

Josh is having a great year in second grade.  We are thankful for a really great special ed team this year who work really well with Josh and treat us as equal team members keeping us very informed.  Josh met all of his behavior goals for his wraparound services who provided him with a behavior specialist and mobile therapist for help in the home as well as school.

David, now 5 years old, has had another rough year physically with his continued battle with bacterial infections due to his immune dysfunction.  He has stumped doctors in his ability to come down with tonsillitis while on Augmentin to treat another bacterial infection 2 different times!  He managed to squeak by the threat of impending surgery thankfully by his body deciding to not come down with a 6th bout of tonsillitis, for which we are thankful since he has already had to have 2 other surgeries in past years thanks to recurring bacterial infections.  We had to make the most difficult decision regarding his health late this summer when after much testing, no cause could be found for his body's inability to produce enough IgG antibodies which are needed to fight off bacterial infections.  He was given the official diagnosis of Primary Immune Deficiency Disorder, and since after being on a prophylactic antibiotic for over a year, he was still getting infections 1-2 times each month, the only other treatment option was for him to get antibody blood transfusions.  These transfusions, because they are only antibodies in plasma, are from 70+ donors instead of the usual 1 donor for whole blood.  The good thing is that because it is not whole blood, it can undergo more rigid cleansing processes.  However, the risk of a blood-borne transmission is still present.  Since we had exhausted all other options, we  decided to go through with the transfusions, and David started them at the beginning of September.  Thankfully, they are done subcutaneously with the use of a pump and take only an hour each time.  We only have to do them once a week now, so it's not too time consuming.  I am able to do the transfusions so we don't have to rely on a nurse coming to the house or having to take David to a hospital where he will be exposed to more germs.  After a couple of infections before reaching therapeutic antibody levels, David has now been infection free for almost 2 months which is the longest he has gone in his entire life!
David, 5 yrs. old

David started Kindergarten this Fall at West-Mont Christian Academy.  He has a harem of girls who follow him around at school, and he loves it!  We are thankful for his sweet spirit and his desire to make good choices to glorify God.

Tim has been thoroughly enjoying his job as financial adviser, and his job flexibility has been a blessing in light of my recent illness.  Tim has had to step up and do a lot at home to take over many of my responsibilities.  He never complains and is a real encouragement to me.  We praise the Lord for the health and strength with which He has blessed Tim.

Having a migraine for 2 months straight now is definitely taking its toll on my body and my spirit, but God has been faithful, and His grace has been sufficient.  I am still awaiting some test results and have a few more specialist appointments coming up this month.  I just weaned off of my old drug due to problematic side effects and started a new drug, so I've been dealing with a great deal of pain as a result of the weaning process and am hoping that the side effects of this new drug are less severe.  I am learning to rely on God in a deeper way and have experienced His peace on a completely broader level throughout this painful and scary time of learning about my brain lesion and going through so many tests for so many scary diseases.  Thankfully the worst possibilities have been ruled out, but we remain without answers for what it is and what is causing the migraine pain or the neurological symptoms.  Having to wait for God's timing in all of this has been hard and the temptation to despair gets stronger as time passes, but the only thing we can do is wait on the Lord and trust Him to accomplish His will in our lives.

God has taught me so much through all of this.  The promise of Philippians 4:7 has come to mean a lot to me:  "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (ESV).  In our devotions together, Tim and I are continuing to use the Table Talk magazine, and we just finished the discussion on Philippians this month.  I was really encouraged by the reminder the writer of Dec. 23's article gave us in his discussion of Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me:" 
"Our peace amid joy and tribulation is not based on our ability to calmly face life but on the facts that we belong to Christ, that He never lets us go, and that He is faithful to give us the grace to live for Him no matter our circumstances...If we depend on our own power and character in the midst of storms, we will by no means find lasting peace.  But when we trust in Christ and seek to do everything in Him, we can serve Him faithfully.  This does not mean that our concerns do--or even should--go away; rather it means that our concerns no longer define our lives and bind us with worry.  On the contrary, we rest satisfied in the Lord no matter what happens around us."
Our prayer is not only that we not lose site of these valuable truths and our faith remains strong, but we pray that this will be so in the lives of all our families and friends so that they too can relish in God's love and perfect peace!