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A Look Back 3 Years Post Stem Cells

Three years ago I underwent a stem cell procedure to treat what I believed was a case of Multiple Sclerosis.

The treatment utilized cells extracted from my body’s fat. In my case, my legs were the only part of my body with any extra tissue left to extract from. After the cells were pulled from my body they underwent an activation process. Once turned on, they were pumped back into my body through an IV and injected into my nasal cavity.

Four hours after it began, the procedure was over and I was full of activated powerhouse stem cells.

 

Since that day I have been asked (and have asked myself), “What did that procedure do for you?”

After the stem cells were injected into the immediate results were remarkable. Symptoms that had been unshakable for years completely disappeared. My energy was back. Brain fog lifted. Muscle spasms abated entirely. For the first three days I felt like a new woman and thought, “I’m cured!”

Then I returned home.

And so did my symptoms.

One by one the debilitating ailments came back. Pain. Muscle spasms. Fatigue. Hot flashes. Brain fog. Optic neuropathy. Slowly all of the symptoms crept back into my body….except one.

My claw foot.

Prior to the stem cell treatment my foot had gone into a perpetual claw. My toes were curled over and completely stiff. To release the tension I had to manually straighten them back out again but that was only a temporary fix. In no time at all the claw foot would return.

The condition of my foot made walking difficult and painful. Until my foot went into a claw I didn’t realize how important the toes are for balance and stability. Without all four corners of my foot engaged I fell more easily, tripped with absolutely nothing in my way and had constant discomfort in every pair of shoes.

My claw foot was a catalyst for pursuing stem cell therapy. In fact, before I underwent the procedure, I said, “If I could only have my foot back, this treatment would be worth it!”

Well, I got my foot back.

The morning after the procedure I awoke to a claw-less foot. There was absolutely no gripping in my toes or pain in my foot. The stem cell procedure freed my foot from the grips of the claw and, to this day, it has yet to return.

 

The freedom in my foot following stem cells was immediate but the most amazing freedom I experienced as a result of the procedure didn’t become evident until much later. It took over a year before I began to see the most miraculous outcome of the treatment: freedom from the claw gripping my heart.

Until I had stem cells I was fixated on being healed – and fast. That’s why I pursued stem cells in the first place. I wanted a quick fix to my problems. I didn’t want to have to wait. I wanted it done in four hours – or less. In my mind, the wait had gone on long enough and didn’t want to have to practice any more patience. There was a claw in my heart gripping immediate healing and it was refusing to release.

But stem cells freed me from the claw in my heart.

When the stem cells didn’t provide the cure I’d hoped for, my hope in immediate physical healing died. It was as if I had put all of my healing eggs in the stem cell basket and when I returned home I realized the basket had a whole in it. Complete healing hadn’t made it home and off the plane. I was still stuck sick.

Although I had my foot back I lost temporary sight of that miracle when the rest of my symptoms returned. I had said having a free foot was enough of a reason to get the procedure but the reality was my foot wasn’t enough. No part of my physical body could have ever been enough because the real trouble was still the claw in my heart.

A year post stem cells the true healing came. That’s when I finally accepted that God wasn’t going to use a quick fix to make me well. Stem cells showed me that what I needed wasn’t a procedure. I needed patience. I didn’t need powerhouse cells. I needed powerhouse contentedness in all circumstances.

Stem cells opened my eyes to the foolish fixation I had on the quick fix and revealed that my hopes had become dependent on physical healing instead of on God alone. When the claw finally unclenched freedom took hold. In the presence of God I am free to enjoy peace and rest, regardless of circumstances or physical condition.

 

 

So, what did that procedure do for you? Simple. It freed me from my claw.

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Strand by Strand

Two years ago I went short. Super, pixie-cut short.

I made the decision to have my hair chopped off when my long locks became terribly thin. At the time, my health was rapidly declining. I was twenty-six years old and less than seventy-five pounds. Everything about my body was wasting away – hair included.

When I took my seat in the stylist’s chair on June 20th, 2016 I was at peace with a life without miraculous healing. After six years of failing health I had come to accept Multiple Sclerosis as God’s plan for me. As I watched my long locks fall to the floor I watched my dreams of restoration fall, too. Allowing my hair to be cut was the outward expression of my inward decision to cut ties with my will and plan for a life of physical health.

My short pixie cut was a declaration of joyful acceptance. By cutting my hair I declared to the world, and myself, that God was not making a mistake with my illness. He had not abandoned me. My life was not worthless and without purpose. Sickness was part of His plan for my life and I decided I would spend my life rejoicing in it.

But sixteen months ago the words “Lyme Disease” God changed the trajectory of my life – and my hair. In that moment a new door was opened and a future of restoration was revealed. The gloomy prognosis of MS was erased with two words and the mental image of a tick. At once I saw the possibility for a future of complete and total healing.

It didn’t happen overnight or with a thunderous bomb. In my prayers that’s how I had pictured receiving my physical healing but in God’s sovereignty He didn’t answer my prayer according to my will. All along He has been healing me from the inside out in accordance to His perfect will and providence.

To God be the glory for great things He has done and is continuing to do in my body and hair. After eight years of devastating weight loss, pounds are naturally pouring onto my frame. Function is returning to organs that were as good as dead. Even my hair is being restored. My short, thinning strands are being transformed and redeemed with renewed body, thickness and strength.

The journey to physical restoration is only one year in and already God is performing miracles before my very eyes – and mirror. He is fighting battles to reclaim the territory that has been taken by disease. He is defeating my enemies and reclaiming my future health. Against all odds God has sustained every part of me, even the hairs on my head, so He could save me, one strand at a time.

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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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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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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.