How Great is Our God in HEBREW,

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Valley of the Shadow

Two years ago, while i was recovering from a left ankle fusion at Valley View Rehab/Nursing Hospital, I struggled with all my might to take only a few Non-weight bearing steps using crutches and I watched two women, at least 80 years old, also non-weight bearing due to fractures....I watched them hopping along like little sparrows pushing their rolling walkers....hop, hop, hop ...all around the PT unit. And I said in wonder (and envy) to Dawn (My PT), "Look at them go! They hop around like it was nothing at all...and I cannot take more than a few faltering steps!" She said "they don't have disease eating up their joints and causing inflammation. You are a whole different situation" And it was then that I began to understand what this disease means....That it is waging war on my body....and it is a war that it will win and I will lose..

And now, here I am, needing at least four major surgeries, and three of them must be done in NYC where the only doctors in the country who would attempt them are located. My solution? Don't have them done. Deal with the pain until it kills you. And I must not forget to mention that I can no longer tolerate taking any pain med! I took my last oxy several months ago and it gave me a roaring bout of dementia that lasted for four days. 

Now, the confusion is gone but there are a number of cognitive changes which remain. I forget words. I make ridiculous grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, skipping words or replacing them with other unrelated words. All this . God took away my art. He limited my intelligence. My memory. My physical facility, my strength. My comfort. I must have been a walking-egotistical- self-sufficient-mess of a person that He had to do so much to bring me to my knees!

Well maybe that is true. But maybe God was writing a story. The story of a woman who had been to the depths....who replaced angry mistrust with faith. Who fought and refused to allow anything in the many years of struggle, to defeat her or to make her "curse God and die"....maybe God is showing the universe the depths and heights of his Grace. I may not be able to write much longer. Maybe my thoughts and clarity will be locked in a box, no longer accessible to me and no longer able to be shared with those around.

I don't know how the story will end. In the back ward of some Medicaid nursing home, stinking of urine and crying in pain? Maybe.  I beg God for his mercy and not allow it to come to that.  Bring me to Your Kingdom before that happens, Lord! I have a friend who thinks I will receive the Martyrs crown in Heaven.  I don't I suffering all of this for God? or simply because there is no other choice?  I know that I have put my life in His hands to do with me as He wishes.  And I have endeavored not to cry and whine about the path I'm on now. 

I think of Dr L....when I first heard the words "Psoriatic Arthritis.'....trying desperately to make me understand that this would ruin my life. This was the beginning of the end. I blew it off....for of course I was invincible. Nothing had ever beaten me that far. 

Since then, God has really knocked me off of that high horse.  But, still, having endured all I endure, having lost all I have lost--I still pray, worship, and trust God to give me what I need to get through each day. I yield to His purposes, trusting the love that is behind each one, no matter how gruesome it appears.  I am secure in the knowledge of God's love for me and that make some people really angry. "How can you love a God who is doing this to you?"

Well I know that each hardship that I go through with my faith intact, is building up treasure for me in Heaven.  Not one pain or one tear will go un-noticed and unrewarded.  And when people mis-treat me, I leave that in the hands of the Father as well.  

This is not a " Look how wonderful and strong I am" post.  I am not either.  It is only by the grace, strength, mercy and overflowing love of God that I am able to get through five minutes of my day. Years ago, I turned my back on God, and there ensued close to 20 years of havoc and heartache. (For more on this, read my book "Treasures from Darkness" linked at the top of the sidebar).

I learned from all of that that the only motivation worth following is the Love of Christ that constrains me.(2 Cor.5:14) I read a quote from Joni lately when she asked what "constrains means"...She was told that it means being narrowed or forced into smaller paths with the purpose and effect of moving straight ahead faster and with more power.
God has brought me to a place of absolute dependence on Him. He has narrowed my activities and my freedoms.  He has pressured me with pain for the purpose of granting me power and a constant awareness of my need for him.

As you observe changes in me and in my writing, pray for me.  Ask God for His mercy and most of all for His nearness to me as I walk through the Valley of the Shadow.  Pray that I remain faithful and for endurance.
God bless your day today.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Ears to Hear

It's been a while since I wrote here....and I honestly do not know where it is I want to go with today's post.  Lord, Jesus, I commit these fingers on this keyboard to you. I yield my mind to think Your thoughts and please give me the right words to say what you want me to say.

So.  I think I mentioned here, the video I saw of Francis Chan where he challenged us to read Scripture....just to keep reading it over and over.  He encouraged us to read the red lettered words of Jesus over and over and to let them sink deeply into our God-thirsty souls. And we will encounter the God-man in new ways.  

Now Pastor Chan said that the whole endeavor will take us only a couple of hours.  Well I've been doing it for about a week or more....and I'm only up to chapter 21 in Matthew!!  I just can't swallow the words of Christ without chewing.  And  I'm sure that is ok and maybe even better.  And yes, Y'shua leaves me with some questions. I don't want to misrepresent him or leave you more confused than you were when you started.  But you WILL have questions when you read.  I have a book, about 3" thick (hardcover) called "Hard Sayings of the Bible."  Now I've looked in that book at times and the topic I was struggling with, was not even mentioned in the book.  So if the ministers and doctors who wrote that book can come up with a book that size and in small print with questions of their own and still not cover all the questions that might be asked, you can be sure that when you sit down to read chunks of Scripture, you will come away with some confusion and hard to answer questions.

Now why is this?  How can God leave such a complex inheritance to us, as confusing as it is to us, and expect us, not only to sufficiently comprehend the things we need to know --but also he tells us to discuss Scripture with our children every where we go?  And what will we do when our 5 year old confounds us with a question we have no idea how to answer?

Well, here are my thoughts.  Jesus spoke the majority of those red letter words to a bunch of  12 largely unschooled, maybe illiterate men--and yeah, they had even less of an idea about the meaning of what he told them, than even you and I have reading Y'shua's words centuries later.  How could he have gotten his point through to them so deeply that later, when the Holy Spirit was given to them after Jesus ascended back to heaven...all his words came back to them only now, with 20/20 hindsight, things were making sense!  Like Jesus spoke of the "sign of Jonah" which would be the sign that they were asking for to prove he was God.  The disciples then knew that the three days and nights in the belly of the whale, paralleled the three days Jesus spent in the depths of the earth.

What is my point?  When you start out as a baby (even if you are 85) reading the Bible, be assured that you will walk away with something to think about and some things will profoundly impact you.  And a year later....when you read that same passage will be delighted when the spiritual and mental lights come on and you will say "WOW! How did I not see this before?"  

Our knowledge will grow as will our understanding.  And I would encourage you, before you read ANY Scripture, thank God for it and then ask the Spirit to open your heart and mind to receive it and ask him to teach you.

And the best thing is that, the more you read Scripture the greater your vocabulary will be to comprehend the words God speaks to  you, no matter where you are or what you are struggling with. Keep your eyes and heart open because it's a sure thing that he will speak one way or long as you have ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart that understands.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Neurological Damages: from Illness or Treatment?

This past week, a very good friend of mine and I went out to celebrate her birthday, and (I found out) it will probably be the last time I see her before her move back to Indiana, where all her family is.  She  has been a good friend, one year decorated my house for Christmas and then afterwards put everything back in storage for me. Last year, when we didn't have any decorations she brought me a mini Christmas tree all decorated.

She also has come to my house maybe 6 or more times a year, just to visit over a cup of tea.  We have prayed together many times.  She is my best friend, although she has another "bestie" who lives an hour or so away from here.

The reason this dinner celebration was notable was because for the first time in a long time, I had to communicate with someone for longer than the 30-60 seconds I have spent with people  at church.  And I struggled.  I could not find the words that were tickling my brain, refusing to be pinned down so I could speak them.  Now, I am not confused in the sense that  I have been at times...but this was almost more disturbing because whatever is happening with my brain, is making its way into my every day life.

I spoke to my friend about it. I asked her if she had noticed my difficulty and she said "yes, it is very evident"  Here is my list which more than adequately denotes why such a mental lapse is not only not surprising, but really must be expected:

1)  ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) Yes. they still do this "shock treatments" in this day in age.  Those times were my first times of confusion; where I no longer had a past....not even from a half hour ago. For YEARS after these treatments, I would wake in the morning in a panic because I could not recall what was going on in my life..what did yesterday hold?  Picking up my Kindle and not knowing what it was or how to use it.  I completely lost the last 4 years prior to the ECT--no memory of it what so ever.  And no, you technician and doctors who performed this barbaric and violent event on my brain: MY MEMORY NEVER RETURNED as they had promised it would.

2) A life time of psychotropic medicines.  These are major tranquilizers and the Lord himself is the only one who could measure and determined the degree of brain damage these meds do over time.  It is proven that people taking these meds do have  shorter life expectancies. Now, the question must be asked, "would you rather have 30 more years of insanity without the meds? Or 20 years with them keeping things in check? Yes, "Damned if you do and damned if you don't." 

3) The other meds I have taken, chemo drugs taken to try to stop the destructive path this autoimmune disease has taken in my body.  I do not know the effect of these meds on the brain...just as I don't know the effect of opiods taken over the years to manage my pain.

4) And no, don't put me on your list of people who are opposed to opiod use: I absolutely believe they are necessary and if those people who are working to make them illegal had ever experienced even for a day, what I experience daily, they would be racing to find a pain management doctor to help them....and they would rapidly discover that NO other meds are as helpful at treating severe pain, as are opiods.And if they become illegal you will see a sharp increase in suicide rates among people who suffer chronic, severe pain and you will see a sharp increase in the use and distribution of heroin.  Because some pains simply must be treated...legally, or illegally.

5) But how much have they disrupted the way my brain works? I don't know, but I must also ask: how much has the pain destroyed my brain? How much is the consequence of "brain fog" which is experienced in a wide cross section of people suffering from RA and PsA?  So do not jump to conclusions and blame the opiods.  And I'm now opiod free...and still suffering worsening neurological loss....sooo.....

So here is the situation: each illness I have, when left to its own, will cause brain damage and cognitive changes.  And the drugs which people take to manage these illnesses also on their own, cause brain damage such as I am experiencing.  
So you need to choose: to treat or not to treat? If I am going to end up with cognitive damage anyway, then I would say, go ahead and treat the illness because the debilitating effects of SZ, PsA,  RA, Chronic pain, unchecked joint and organ damage , psychosis--none of these should be left untreated...but yes, you can expect increasing difficulty in the top floor :)

Am I scared by this?  yes.  I don't have the family support which is so essential to someone like me...people who will be on the front lines caring for me.  Nor do I have the money or insurance to go to a nursing facility. So Lord, the next move is yours.  He knows that I am ready to go to his side in his kingdom.  I am SO ready. But yes, his is the next move...and I can rest assured that it will be a good one for me.

I can write more easily than I can talk. I can pause for as long as I need until the right word comes.  I can edit 6 or 7 times before publishing.  And according to my friend, the evidence is nevertheless apparent in my writings.  So for that, I apologize.  Thanks for visiting my blog today.  God bless you !