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A letter to my Mom on Mother’s Day

Dear Mom,

This Mother’s Day a store bought card just wouldn’t do. To be honest, I didn’t even look for one in the store because I knew that nothing written in a card could capture what you and I have been through in the past year (not to mention the past 28).

You, more than anyone, know how difficult this past year has been. Treating Lyme Disease has been a roller coaster ride crazier than anything I could have ever imagined. The journey has been insane since the very first dose of treatment and yet you’ve kept your cool. I don’t know how, because heaven knows I haven’t. Through it all you’ve remained steady and sure. You have never wavered in your belief that I will be healed and restored. All the while you have been the hands and feet of God in my life – literally – graciously comforting my calloused feet with essential oils and my burdened spirit with fervent prayer.

I’m not always the easiest person to love. In fact, sometimes I’m down right grouchy and cold, yet you keep loving me. When I am short and unappreciative, you give me grace. When I take out my frustration and anger on you, you forgive me. You love me unconditionally. You love me with the love of Christ.

I know this year you said, “Don’t write anything sappy.” So I won’t. I’ll just write what is true: You are an incredible Mom, my very best friend and you have taught me how to love and support someone “in sickness and in health.”

I know our relationship isn’t perfect. It has its ups and downs but I wouldn’t trade it for anything because by being your daughter I have been taught how to love. By how you care for me I have been showered with sacrificial love that is drawn from the very source of love, Jesus Christ.

On this Mother’s Day I  want to thank you most of all for your devotion to Christ. Thank you for coming alongside me in my battle and encouraging me with scripture and faith. Satan’s attacks have been real, fiercely trying and testing my faith, but you have surrounded me with prayer. Every day you put on the armor of God to defeat the enemy on my behalf.

God doesn’t make mistakes. He had a plan for me as your daughter before I was even born. He had a journey plotted out for you and I  before you knew if I would be a “Stephanie” or a “Steven” (or some other boy name). God knew what He was doing when He put you and I together. He knew I’d need a Mom who would be willing to fight for me and with me.

Mom, I know someday you are going to hear those glorious words, “Well done good and faithful servant” because you are good and faithful and you are a servant. You serve Him everyday by the way you care and love for me.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Proverbs 31:25-26

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Hoarding: Buried Alive in Hope

The amount of clothing I own is nothing short of astonishing. The number of plastic containers in my possession containing said clothing is ludicrous.

The hoarding problem busting at the seams of my closet has been slowly developing for the past eight years. It all started with my first unintentional, dramatic weight loss. Within three months I was down thirty pounds and my pants would no longer stay up. I updated my wardrobe with smaller clothing and packed away the larger sizes trusting that they would be worn again when weight returned.

As the years have ticked by more weight has been lost and more clothing has been acquired. With each drop of pounds, bags of new clothes have appeared and more empty boxes have been filled. Now I have half a dozen containers full of clothes in pristine condition that are simply too big for me to wear yet I can’t bring myself to part with them because I still believe that one day I will have the weight I need to wear them.

Although I have lost weight I have not lost hope that God will heal me yet. My confidence in His restorative power is why I have been hoarding my old clothes for all of these years. Belief in restoration is why I haven’t parted with the sizes I can’t wear.

In my closet full of oversized clothing is a testimony to the big, confident hope I have that God restoring me completely – body, mind and soul. In my closet I am still holding onto the trust and believe that God is at work healing me. Even now the Great Physician is making me whole.

Dear friend, of this I am sure, God is the Almighty rebuilder and restorer who performs His most miraculous healing on the inside, in the broken and ailing human heart. With each internal restoration the Spirit of Christ reassures me that the Healer is most certainly at work and He isn’t finished yet.

 

“Your hands made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

May those who fear You see me and be glad,
Because I wait for Your word.”

Psalm 119:73-74

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Immediate Obedience

It was 2:30 AM and Pippy was desperate for a bathroom break. This is not part of her usual routine. The last time Pippy begged to be let out in the middle of the night was seven years ago.

At the time Pippy was just a puppy and unable to hold her bladder. On those hot August nights I recall reluctantly pulling myself out of bed and sleepily shuffling towards the steps holding Pippy in my arms. Slowly but gingerly I would tiptoe down the wooden steps, careful not to slip with my restless schnoodle puppy in toe.

Once successfully past the treacherous treads and out the front door I plopped Pippy down in the grass and instruct her to do her business. With a bewildered look she would glance around the yard as if contemplating what to do next.

To help my puppy along in the decision making process I repeated a familiar training command. “Go pee, Pippy,” I would say with authority. Looking back at me with her head tilted to the side and a confused look in her puppy eyes, it’s as if Pippy would say, “I have no clue what you’re saying.”

Seven years later I shuffled down the steps in the middle of the night carrying my grown up “puppy.” To this day she refuses to walk down those treacherous treads. After successfully making it down the steps we exited through the front door and I softly set Pippy down on the front porch. As she walked into the yard I gently whispered, “Go pee, Pippy” and immediately, she obeyed on command.

A few seconds later Pippy completed her mission and dutifully returned to the porch. We carefully made our way back up the steps and climbed back into bed. Both Pippy and I quickly fell back to sleep and enjoyed the rest of our night in uninterrupted peace

 

During Pippy’s short nighttime waking she reminded me of an important lesson about obedience. When I am awoken and interrupted by restless nights and worldly trouble obedience to the voice of God will always restore me to His comfort and rest. When I hear the call of the Holy King and comply without hesitation He is faithful to carry me into His glorious presence of unending peace and rest.

 

So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.

1 Peter 1:14-16

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Surprised by God’s Joy

As hot water pierced the open cuts on my legs I let out a boisterous laugh. That’s when I knew, “I’ve been surprised by God’s joy!”

The bombshell breakthrough took place in the shower, where the best breakthroughs tend to occur. I stepped into the tub completely oblivious of the terror to come. On my legs open cuts have been forming and, as I soon learned, they don’t enjoy hot water.
The second I stepped into the porcelain tub the rushing water transformed into a swarm of bees. The fresh cuts up and down my right ankle and foot screamed in the heat. Shocked by the sudden stinging, I yelped in pain, resembling the sound of an accidentally stepped upon dog. Then, resembling something like a Mexican jumping bean, I hopped around the shower for a few seconds uttering phrases such as, “Golly gee!” and “Hot diggidy!”
After some creative maneuvering, I was able to position my right leg on the side of the tub, out of direct line of the shower’s head. The only trouble was that in such an awkward position I could not step or twist, both of which are quite helpful when showering.
In the not so distant past, this circumstance would have likely reduced me to tears or at least frustration. But not this time. Rather than causing me to cry the strange shower scenario catapulted me into a fit of hardy laughter.
The joy of Jesus swooped in to my shower and delivered me on the wings of uproarious comic relief. The delight of Jesus’ presence was enough to fill my heart (and shower) with laughter and joy in spite of the stinging pain. Once my soul was lifted up in laughter the physical pain did not need to be removed in order for true joy to be experienced.

Only Christ has the power to deliver sufferers from any and every pain, both inside and out. At His resurrection, Jesus removed the eternal sting of suffering and defeated the doom of death. He rose to render the sorrow and sadness of pain completely powerless.
Jesus does not assure His followers a pain-free life but, united with His glorious resurrection, they will be most assuredly be surprised by God’s joy.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:8-9

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Let’s Run

“Turn left and head south on Milfair Road”
The navigational system stated its directions clearly but I wasn’t listening. I took an immediate right and headed east instead. I searched for a way to make my wrong into a right but there were no connecting streets and I couldn’t turn around. I was stuck taking the long route.
“Turn right in six miles,” the re-calibrated navigational voice said. The ETA added ten minutes and the total travel distance increased too but I before I had a moment to consider the lost time a vision of hope appeared through the glass of the car’s windshield.   Running on the right side of the road I didn’t’ intend to be taking I happened upon my runner friend chugging along.
My “runner friend” is an elderly gentleman who conducts his exercise on busy streets in town. His gait is stiff and every step labored yet he continues to move ahead. Rain, sleet and snow cannot deter him. He refuses to give up. He keeps running, defeating obstacles both inside and out. In all circumstances, my friend is determined to lace up his sneakers and run.

The wrong turn I made behind the wheel of my car added thirteen minutes and three miles to the total trip but infinitely more hope was added to my spiritual tank.
The vision of the runner pushing through his difficulty and pain inspired me claim the final victory in all circumstances.
And that’s just what I did.
Fueled by Christ’s overcoming Spirit and eternal hope, I claimed the victory over disease and defeat, laced up my sneakers and ran.

Turns out taking the long way was the perfect way for God to get me running again.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

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The Final Chapter

For eight years I have been praying, asking God to write the final chapter of my sickness saga. Earnestly, I have asked God to give me His words to pen miraculous, inspiring closing lines to this Lyme story. Kindly, I have requested that He tie up this crazy journey with a beautiful restoration bow to bring Him glory.
Despite praying, begging and pleading with God to write those precious words, that isn’t where He has taken my life’s story. The ink He pours into my pen continues to be that of pain. Every time He opens a new page it reveals another scene of suffering.
I must be honest, while waiting for healing I’ve become weary. When my tired hand have become too heavy I’ve struggled to pick up my pen and questioned if God has a happy ending planned for me at all. As I’ve been witness to the healing testimonies of others I’ve even asked God, “When will I get my own healing story to share?”
And the sweet, gentle Spirit of my Heavenly Father keeps responding, “Dear Daughter, I’ve already written your story. Don’t you see it? The healing is in your heart.”

“By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.” Acts 3:16

For eight years God has faithfully been penning His healing story in my heart. As often as I surrender my life before His cross and my hand before His blank page, He breathes words of restoration into my empty pen and pours out a story of His glory to tell.
By the blood of God’s Son, Heaven’s perfect Lamb, my heart has been healed. The miraculous, life-changing, transformative power of Jesus Christ has healed me and now I am new.
That is always the very best healing story.

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Icy Conditions

My digits are frigid.
This isn’t new news. All ten of my fingers have been trapped in layers of invisible ice for the past eight years. Freezing hands is a chilly side effect of chronic Lyme disease and to be expected at my low weight.
Despite many attempts to bring warmth to my cold fingers they remain stubbornly icy and stiff. In their deepest freeze my whole hand turns blue with translucent white fingers and yellow tips. Even when the temperatures outside are warm and the sun is shining my hands cannot escape their bone chilling condition. My fingers simply refuse to thaw.
The inescapable predicament of my fingers’ frozen condition is one I am powerless to change. Until my health is restored and the Lyme battle won, I am trapped in a body with terribly cold hands.
But thank God I am not trapped in a body with a bitter, cold heart.

At the foot of the cross the deep freeze of my heart is broken and warmth is restored to my soul. Because Jesus is alive my heart is not doomed to a fate of inescapable, impenetrable ice. The moment I seek the Spirit of God He is faithful to thaw me by the radiant warmth of His love and grace.
The Son of God’s perfect love is the only power on earth that can break through the thickest layers of my stone cold heart and restore Heaven’s everlasting heat.

In the presence the Lord of Life and Love my frigid heart is made new and kept eternally warm.

“If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love; whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him. In this way, love has been perfected among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment; for in this world we are just like Him.” 
1 John 4:15-17

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Remarkably Intact

Mom’s prescription sunglasses have been found and the story is nothing short of remarkable.

The sunglasses in question went missing five years ago. Mom’s Elizabeth Arden tortoiseshell frames vanished without a trace. To this day, the circumstances of the disappearance remain vague. It always has been a very mysterious case of missing corrective lenses.
After much futile searching Mom gave up on ever finding her beloved prescription sunglasses with the perfect tint of sun blocking protection.
In due time the lost sunglasses were replaced and the ordeal was soon forgotten.
Until yesterday.
It was underneath a bright blue sky and warm sunshine that the discovery was made. I was seated in the passenger’s seat as Mom pulled the car into the driveway. That’s when a glimmer of bright light caught my attention. Something shiny was reflecting from the bare branches of the front yard’s large fruit tree. I squinted to ensure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me but there they were. Mom’s pair of missing Elizabeth Arden tortoiseshell frames balancing on the bare branches of the leafless tree.
The glasses that my Mother lost in 2013 survived five winters stuck in the tall tree. They were battered by winds, beaten by rains and covered by historic snowfalls yet they lost not a single lens or arm. The glasses have been found, remarkably, completely intact.

Dear friend, take heart because in Christ, the lost can always be found. By the Almighty hand of God that upholds by the power of the Risen tree of life, the lost are always found remarkably, eternally intact.

 

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

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Prom Memories

My senior prom dress was fit for a princess. It was my fairy tale dream come to life.

The elegant ball gown was painted in pale pink and sunset hues. From the moment I put it on I knew it was the one. The lace bodice was embellished with sequins and beads stitched in a floral design. Layers of tulle floated elegantly to the floor. Every detail of the dress was perfect. Never before had I felt as beautiful as I did while wearing that breathtaking ballgown.

But the circumstances of my prom night were far from a fairy tale. Disappointments and relationship letdowns had cast a sad shadow on the end of my high school career. I wasn’t feeling much like getting dolled up or going to a dance.

But then I recalled the dream dress hanging in the closet. That dress was too gorgeous and too perfect to be left hidden away and unworn. In that moment I had a decision to make. I could choose to stay home and let defeat win the night. Or I could choose to step into that perfect princess dream dress, go to the prom and dance.

I choose to put on the dress and dance…and I’ve never regretted the decision.

A decade has passed since my senior prom and many of the memories from that night have faded away, but the lesson I learned the moment I stepped into my dress has stayed with me to this day.
Whether I’m wearing a gorgeous ball gown with matching high heels or I’m caught in stretchy pants with memory foam sneakers, I have the Spirit of the Lord residing in my heart.

Heaven’s most glorious gown that hung on the cross rose again to defeat death and conquer my every grave. The love of Christ is heaven’s gown too gorgeous and too perfect to be hidden away. United with His victorious life, the garment of His love can be mine to wear in all circumstances and on all occasions.

The Spirit of the living God compels to wear the dress of His perfect love, go forth in His joy and dance.

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Stand Tall

All of the daffodils are covered in snow.

The first of spring’s flowers were just beginning to bloom when a ferocious storm rolled in. When I saw the snow I was sure the delicate yellow buds wouldn’t survive. Even in the best of conditions daffodils never flower for long but this year the buttercup petals barely had three days in the sunshine before they were smothered in dense, heavy snow.

After being whipped by winds and flattened by weighty precipitation, I was sure the fate of the flowers was sealed. Certainly the fragile buds would have succumbed to the storm. The beauty of their flowery display would have been cut short.

But, miracle of miracles, the daffodils are still standing tall!

The yellow baby buds of the perennial are still affixed to their thick green stems. In spite of the storm, the bulbs have remained firmly planted and the roots have not been shaken. The blooms have been upheld. The flowers have been sustained and the buds have endured.
The daffodils are alive!

Dear friend, if today you feel like a delicate daffodil being toppled by a ferocious storm, do not lose hope. Look to the daffodils and take heart.

Planted in the eternal soil of “the way, the truth, and the life” your future is secure.

The Almighty hand of God that gives life to the daffodils can uphold your delicate blooms, too. You need not fear the wind. Do not worry about being crushed beneath the snow.

In the strength of the Lord you will be upheld. Because He lives you can stand “strong and courageous” in spite of the season’s storm. 
Rejoice, precious daffodil, because you have been made truly, eternally alive with the resurrected Christ.

Rooted in His risen life, united with His eternal, you can stay strong in hope assured that, when the snow clears, you’ll still be standing eternally tall.