Category: Lupus, autoimmune, illness, blog

Keep your eyes on Jesus.

If there is one thing that I have learned from my life is that sometimes we are brought to our weakest point so that we can gain total dependency on God.

I have had many weak moments and I have lost so much in my lifetime. I have had many disappointments and many unknowns but God has always seen me through if only if I allowed him to.

The most frequently repeated phrase in the Bible is “Do not be afraid!” God is not speaking to our emotions, and since you can’t command emotions, he is speaking to our will.

When Peter asked to get out of the boat, Jesus granted his request and said come to me, but the interesting thing is Jesus didn’t stop the waves or the storm. The further away Peter got from the boat, which was his security, Peter started to fear and he began to sink. Peter cried out, Lord save me!!  And then Jesus saved him and rebuked him. How little faith of you? Fear is a strong emotion, I have lived in fear for most my life.  Did Peter really trust Jesus? Sure, he did, after all he got out of the boat but the fear of the storm paralyzed him.

We must make a conscious decision to not allow fear to paralyze us. Peter sank because he stopped walking towards Jesus. Faith is not knowing that God can but it is knowing that he will. Faith requires us to keep walking even when we are faced with fear, even if it’s the unknown.

I find that sometimes fear of the unknown gets the best of us at times. We walk in this life and everything is going great until one day something happens that we are unfamiliar with and we panic. It’s then that we have a choice, are we going to keep our eyes on Jesus and trust that no matter the road that Jesus leads he us that he is in control or will we take our eyes off Jesus and let fear take over.

I trust God with my life. And sometimes it is hard to keep focused on him when things feel like they are beyond my control but I know that God is my sufficiency, and when I am at my weakest, he is made strong. I know that God loves me so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that I can live forever with him.

No matter what you may be facing today, I encourage you to keep your eyes on Jesus

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God is always moving.

Before I was even diagnosed with Lupus, I struggled with worry and anxiety. I tried my best to handle it on my own but I couldn’t seem to let go of the what if’s. When I got diagnosed with Lupus, I had no idea how to handle it. It hit me right to the core. Whenever uncertain things happened to me, it would send me straight into anxiety and panic mode. In my head, I would take bad news and go for a run with it. It would become so overwhelming that at times my anxiety was out of control. My anxiety would build up until it was too much for me to process and the slightest things would send me into tears.

Since I have had Lupus, I have had a lot of bad news come my way for the last 3 years, but I have had to learn new ways to handle things. Sometimes it is really scary and hard to not think about what might or might not happen but I have had to learn to control my anxiety level. As we all know, stress only heightens the pain in someone with Lupus, and other illnesses. I had to learn that not only was it bad for my health but it was bad for spirit and not good for my family either.

My health is a main concern of mine, it is a consistent issue that I deal with everyday of my life. I can’t run from it, I have no choice but to face it head on. I have learned not to worry myself over the things that I have no control over.  If I were to sit and worry about what may or may not happen it would drive me insane.  I wouldn’t be able to function and I would only get more ill.

Instead, whenever I am faced with bad news, I stop and process the situation, then I pray about it because God is my refuge and strength when I need it most.  I don’t go through the what ifs, instead I go through, what God can do through me?

God is always working in my life, always doing something new, even in the middle of chaos and confusion.  I find peace and hope in the fact that I know even when I am facing my biggest battles that God is in control. I have learned to look beyond what the eye can see because God is always moving.

 

Defining moments.

Proverbs 24:16

” The Godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overflow the wicked.”

Some of the most defining moments in our lives are simply when the fire is hot and you are in the frying pan. You know the times when you simply do not care who is watching because you are so stressed that the “real,” you shows outwardly. Bad things happen and people want to know how other people are going to react. That’s not a pretty thought but none-the-less, it’s true.

I am not defined by what I do necessarily, but I am defined by how high I rise after I have fallen. When people see me at my worst, they want to know what am I going to do next, they want to know how am I going to handle the situation, they want to know what I am really made of.

Go ahead, show the world what you are made of today, show them who you really are!

“I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4: 11b-13

“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Being content is not being passive but it is about being comfortable with who God made you as a person. We can all look at ourselves and think, “I could have done better,” and allow that to motivate us to be a better person, that is a great motivation to action idea.

To be comfortable with who God made us, is not an excuse to do nothing, it is saying, “I have been created for a reason, even in the situation that I was born,” God has a plan. It is never too late to fulfill God’s plan for our life. God does not make mistakes and we were not a mistake in any way, God has a reason for our existence, it is up to us to find that reason and do the best we can for Him.

Being content is a spiritual state of mind. That state of mind looks beyond the natural into the supernatural and says, “despite what I think about myself in the flesh, God has a reason for who I am and where I am, I will do what He has called me to do.”

 

Praise you in the Storm.

 

“If you spend your time waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.”

Morris West

Yesterday was a bitter-sweet day. I went to the cardiologist for my test results and I received answers from testing at the Mayo clinic in Jacksonville FL. I didn’t get the news I wanted, I expected a beautifully wrapped box with a big red bow on it with a cure for all my ailments. I wanted a fix, I wanted an answer.I have lupus, and I know that there are no definite answers for that.

Lupus has devastated my body,with fatigue, musculoskeletal inflammation, arthritis, joint pain, burning, pins and needles, my digestive system, weekly INR checks, iron infusions, my heart and lastly my brain.  I have been having arrhythmias, where my heart flutters all the while in the middle of a lupus flare in my chest. It feels like my heart is doing somersaults and it is an unsettling and an uncomfortable feeling. I fainted last week when my heart fluttered as I was loading the dishwasher. After going to the cardiologist, the next day, I wore a heart monitor for 48 hours. It revealed some things. My blood pressure drops low when I stand for a period. I am at risk for fainting after a brief period of consistent standing. I have some conductivity problems that keep my heart from staying in rhythm. My brain just doesn’t communicate with my heart to stay in rhythm. It’s called neurocardiogenic syncope and it’s common with Lupus patients.

Although, I didn’t get the shiny box with a bow and a cure inside, I still consider it a blessing from God. Yes, I have Lupus and yes, it’s affecting me neurologically and my heart but it’s not going to kill me. My heart is strong. I have good blood flow. The neurological problems make me slur my words when I get tired and when my heart flutters. I am going to feel that awful flutter of my heart and be uncomfortable. However, I am going to adjust a few things and I will be ok.  I must listen to my body and not push through even though that is against my nature, pushing through will only make matters worse. This is how it is, it’s Lupus, the invisible mysterious disease.

The test that I had on my stomach should have shown narrowing, it did on the last test months ago, but it didn’t this time, I absolutely believe God had a hand in that. My digestive system is not functioning normally and it takes a long time for my system to digest anything I eat. I must be on a special diet to keep everything working and it consists of mostly liquids. I cannot eat anything that I want, and I will still have to take medicine to make my digestive system work because I am sure my digestive system went on vacation for a while. I am just very thankful that I don’t have to have any surgeries, every surgery that I have had has caused many new issues each time.

Even though this wasn’t exactly the shiny box with a bow and a cure inside, even though it wasn’t how I pictured how I wanted it to be delivered, God gave me answers according to what I needed. God is still working miracles, and although I cannot say that I am healed completely, God is making this bearable. I am going to praise his name and thank him for never leaving me or forsaking me. 

 

 

 

Listen, and stand in the gap.

 

Life can sometimes hit us hard with situations, it can knock the breath right out of us. It can deliver bad news when you least expect it and can leave you with no words to express your hurt. I have been thinking about this for a while now and the way that we respond to others that are hurting. It’s funny even my dogs know when I don’t feel good, and suddenly the house will get still with silence and I will find myself surrounded by some of the best and most expert comforters. They say nothing. They are just with me.

 

 I have categorized myself as a fixer, when I see someone that is hurting I want to fix it. I want to listen and offer my encouragement, and I have always thought that as a pretty nice quality about myself.  Last week, I had a unique perspective though and I learned something through my husband. Sometimes the best thing you can do is say nothing at all. Sometimes the one thing that a hurting person needs is stillness, but also know that there is someone there ready to fight the battle when it’s time.  We had to go to the Mayo clinic again, just to get some tests that the doctor ordered for my ongoing stomach complications. It was quite disappointing when I found out that David would have to take an entire day off just to drive me to get my blood drawn and have an MRI and then we would leave Jacksonville without even seeing a doctor. David didn’t hesitate though. We dropped our son off at school and we were on the road. We got there early, they got my blood in less time than it took to park. My MRI wasn’t scheduled until 12:30, it was a fasting test, so we had time to waste. We decided that we would drive over to the beach. David knows that is my place of serenity, he hates the sand, but he put me first that day and let me go out to the water and just be. He never said a word.

 

When I was first diagnosed with Lupus and I was in the middle of a monumental overload meltdown when my spiritual father said to me, “I am standing in the gap for you.” Let me explain what that means, I was devastated and heart broken and vulnerable. The enemy, Satan, knows my every weakness. When I found out I had Lupus it hit me like a ton of bricks, and it crushed me. I was sad and disappointed. Satan could have beaten me with this devastating thing happening to me but my spiritual father stood in the gap for me. That meant in my moments of weakness he was lifting me in prayer. To this day, 3 years later, I know that when I am facing my giants he is standing in the gap for me. That’s all I needed, I didn’t need the I’m sorry’s, or the pity, I was already sorry and didn’t have the words to explain anything I was feeling. I just needed someone to stand in the gap and listen.

 

Sometimes, I think we think we must jump in and say the right thing way too fast when we come across someone that is facing something difficult but sometimes there are just no words to be said. Sometimes the best thing to do for someone is to just listen and say nothing at all. Stand in the gap. People can mean well and say a whole lot of somethings or a whole lot of nothings…. when sometimes there are just no words.   

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“My Grace is sufficient is for you, for in your weakness I am made strong.”

 I am going to be real, I have had a rough few weeks. Lupus has inflamed my entire body, feelings of pins and needles if I get touched, heat radiating throughout my body under my skin, chest tightness and pain, body aches, fatigue, sleepless nights.  I was recently admitted in the hospital overnight for chest pain only to find out that Lupus is affecting my heart and that Lupus is causing a lot of inflammation. It’s hard enough for one illness but it is even harder to take on multiple. I struggle each day to get out of bed but I try to make sure I accomplish at least one thing. It takes great strength. I am not superhuman, I have the same fears, and worries as everyone else, I am just learning to handle it with less of Tabitha and more of God.
While I was in the hospital I had a stress test, it was only four minutes long and it was medically induced. I had been forewarned of what it would be like, I was told there would be discomfort, I was told all the scary things that may or may not happen but I knew that I had to face this four-minute test just to make sure my heart was strong. After all I had chest pains, and I had been told I had partial blockages. The first part was easy, they injected medicine into my veins an hour before and I didn’t feel anything. They took me down to the scanner, and I was asked to lay down on my back. Sounds easy so far. Right? I even took a short nap on the scanner as the machines ran with white noise in the back ground.  Next they took me to the “table”, where the tech said, “This is perfectly safe. ” There is something already unsettling when someone looks at you and says that.  He told me some people feel symptoms and some don’t but we want to know what you are feeling at any time.”  Again it is only 4 minutes. I was ready, it’s been easy so far! I looked at him confidently and said, ok, I’m ready, it’s just four minutes.  
Four minutes doesn’t seem that long when you are looking at it from the outside but for me that day, four minutes seemed like four hours. That day I had to rely on God for all my strength. Within seconds I began feeling the effects of the medicine, my head started pounding, my heart started pounding and my chest tightened up and it was hard to breathe. The heat radiated throughout my entire body and it felt as if someone had lite a match inside of me. I lay there in agony, praying that this torture would stop. They reminded me to breathe and counted down the last minute. They wheeled me into a dark room where I was to sit for 45 minutes for the next test. I did not want to go through that again, but I knew that I would have to dig deep and get through this.
I found myself in self-therapy afterward eating graham crackers and water with positive thoughts running through my head and remembering scriptures that I had read before.  I didn’t know what was ahead but I knew I needed all the strength and bravery I could get. It was there that I had realized that all of God’s word that I had in my spirit was coming to the forefront of my mind. In the midst of the worst test of my life, it was there that I realized that God was clearly speaking words of strength and encouragement to me and he had never left my side.  That day was a perfect reminder for me that in MY weakness, he is made strong and he will see me through the next time around as well.