Hello friends. It has been a very long time since I’ve written anything on my blog. Life has been challenging lately with my health and I have not had the emotional energy to write. My journey has taken more emotional and physical energy than I realized, leaving me sapped of strength physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Many of you have asked why I haven’t written in a while and the only answer I’ve been able to give is “I’ve been too tired.” But today I feel like it is time to share some more of the story God is writing with my life.
Living in a state of exhaustion can take a toll on us in so many ways. When the exhaustion is due to a chronic illness, it also takes a huge emotional toll on family members. Just getting up in the morning can take more effort than we feel we have in our souls. How to cope with another day of sameness can become overwhelming. Nothing seems to be changing, everything is a challenge and it can seem like there is no end in sight. Despair can and often does seep in. And when people ask, you say you’re fine because it becomes too difficult to explain what you are feeling. Too much energy to get into the real way you are feeling.
Throughout my journey, I’ve tried to keep many of the same routines and practices that I’d always done; journaling, walking, praying, and working. These routines have helped to keep me sane, but in those moments of despair, when I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other-somehow there was peace. Peace that came through the reading of scripture, journaling my thoughts to God and knowing He has been and always will be right by my side. I have to say, every single time I’ve cried out in despair to the Lord, He has lifted me up, given me the strength to get through the day, and reminded me that I needn’t worry about the next day, He simply needed me to trust Him for today, to live life today.…He’s got tomorrow covered.
We spend so much of our lives looking ahead to the next day’s tasks, or the next week and what is on the calendar, that we so often miss what God is doing today. We rush through the moments, the interactions or conversations with others because we are looking ahead. God is teaching me that each day is important. Those interactions with others each day are important and are opportunities to share His love by giving others my full attention. He has shown me to live in the moment, to appreciate every sunrise and sunset, to not rush and to savor every moment of life.
During this time of waiting for a kidney, God has shown me how wonderful it is to spend time with Him, in those lonely moments, those moments of despair, and in the joy filled moments of victory. He has never left my side and has been going before me since day one. I can now see this and am learning to recognize His voice in new ways and my understanding of who I am and who He is has grown and changed. He has refined my character and taught me what is important in life.
I’d like you to meet Fiona (yes I have named my dialysis machine). She has been my constant companion over the last 2 1/2 years. Actually Fiona is just one of many dialysis machines that have graced my life and allowed me to continue living while I await for a transplant. (The most memorable one was named Bertha) A life saving machine that has traveled on vacation to Maine, to a conference in the North Carolina, to the beach in Florida, and to overnights at friends. This is the machine that acts as my kidney filtering the waste from my body until I receive the gift of a new kidney. She’s a noisy one, finicky at night, but she has done her job well at keeping me going. I am connected to this machine with a 10 foot cord and must use her 12 hours a day(in the evenings) so that I can function well the next day. Not fun and very limiting but life saving for sure, however, she will not be missed.
Life on dialysis is complicated and brings with it many health related issues as it cannot function quite the same as a kidney. But we have persevered. God has been gracious to keep my from any major complications and this machine has allowed me to live a close to normal life.
Now the best news, by the grace of God, I have been given the gift of a living kidney donor. God’s plan, known only by Him from the beginning, and revealed to us recently.
Because of a Facebook post sharing my need for a kidney, a beautiful young woman of God came forward willing to donate. Her name is Kristina. She did not know me, but felt an instant connection to me when she saw my post. We met for coffee and we both knew this is where God meant for us to be. Only God! Her obedience to His calling is amazing. That story is only just beginning and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us both.
When my journey began 2 1/2 years ago, with a kidney stone no less, I never thought this is the way the story would go. I was to have surgery to blast a kidney stone and as I was praying that morning before surgery, I heard God saying to me to pray my surgeon would dig deeper. After surgery when I woke up the surgeon told us he couldn’t find a kidney stone, but that I had a tumor in my kidney and it was most likely cancer. Sure enough a nasty one, that could have ended my life had we not found it when we did. After much research and prayer, we knew we had to trust the Lord to provide for the future with a new kidney some-day and have mine removed, leaving me on dialysis.
And so the story continued of waiting on the Lord to provide at just the right time. Meanwhile, I continued to cling to his promises in all the ups and downs and challenges of my health. From Lymphedema in my leg that they said would be permanent and after much prayer, it went away, to fluid build up around my lungs, 5 liters worth, to low blood pressure, life has been a series of ups and downs. But He has been faithful throughout with just the right word, smile or phone call to cheer me and remind me of His presence.
I have clung to a few scriptures during this time, but one that has been a source of strength for me is:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
This is so incredibly true in my life. He has provided me endurance when I didn’t think I could do another day, He has used this time to refine my character and draw me closer to Him, and HOPE, so much hope. Through everything the Holy Spirit has filled me anew with joy and praises only for Him. It is through His grace alone that I am still standing, but not just standing, thriving.
When this journey began, I was adamant I did not want to be defined by this illness, by cancer, by being a dialysis patient….but I’ve come to realize these are all part of who I am and they are the parts of me God uses to bring Him glory. He has shown me life can be fulfilling even in the midst of chronic illness. Life continues to move forward and we have a choice. We can allow the chronic illness to define us or we can allow His Spirit in us to help us live the life before us to bring glory to Him through our illness. Yes, there is pain, sorrow at what has been lost, and these are all real, but I have found by opening my heart fully to God and allowing His refining, He has given me a new perspective and through the Holy Spirit alive in me, I have been given the courage to persevere and praise Him every day.
And so the story continues. I am scheduled for transplant on March 26th and we are praying it will move forward as planned. I hope to have more stories of His faithfulness to share with you soon!!
Blessings and love,