Practicing Forgiveness: Forgiving Others During Chronic Illness

Tuesday, November 19, 2019



While it is my sincere hope that this blog post will encourage everyone that reads it, this particular post was written to my fellow spoonies. It is dedicated to them.

You don't have to look on social media for long to see that there are more people with chronic illness now then maybe any other time in history. Search the hashtags #spoonie #autoimmunedisease #lymedisease and more on Instagram and you will see images of people in hospital beds, walking around with IV poles, in doctor offices and in wheelchairs.

Not only are these people sick. They're lonely.
Friends and family have long tired of hearing of their illnesses and have moved on. Doctors don't listen to them. Many have to document reactions and flare ups on video and pictures for proof. 
They walk in with baggies and folders full of lab results that document what has become of their lives.

These people have been fighting for so long that they don't know how to stop. Fighting doctors. Fighting Family.
Fighting for their lives.

Bitterness and anger threaten to take over.


How would God have us to behave?

As followers of Jesus Christ, God has laid out how we should behave regardless of our circumstances.

We are to forgive.

At the end of the Lord's prayer, in Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus says,

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Jesus also tells a parable in Matthew 18:21-35:

Then Peter came up and said to Him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?"
Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times."
"Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me and I will pay you.' He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you? And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."


Years ago I was discussing a situation and person that I was having a hard time forgiving with my counselor. I had told this person on multiple occasions that I had forgiven them but each time this person did something wrong, I would bring up the old incident. The counselor told me to do something that I have never forgotten.

He said, each time that memory comes up, pray this:

God, I thank you that you have forgiven me and I have forgiven ___________.


An amazing thing happened. After doing that for a while, the bitterness was gone. I had remembered how very much I had been forgiven and I was finally able to forgive.

Let us also be people of grace.

We have discussed being a person of forgiveness, but let us also be people of abundant grace! 

How can I, in my illness, serve others?

In James 1:22-25 we are told:

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he is like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

In James 1:27 he says,

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

The book of James is written to the early Christians. They were hated by their fellow Jews and persecuted by them. They were being dragged into court, robbed of their possession and killed. They knew immense trial.
Yet they were told that as believers in Christ, their faith would work. Now these works did not save them, they were evidence of their faith.

As Christians who are ill, we should still be asking for places where we can serve. Can you pray for someone else who is suffering?
Can you send them a card encouraging them?
Can you pray for your family?
Can you pray for your doctors?
Can you lift of the very ones who have ignored you?
Not out of vengeance, but love.

What if you are so ill that even that is too much?

Joni Eareckson Tada tells an amazing story in her wonderful book, A Lifetime of Wisdom (a book I HIGHLY recommend),

Perhaps more than any other person, Kim showed me that my life- and your life- counts. And it counts more than we can possibly imagine.
I first learned about Kim when an elder from her church in Pennsylvania called to ask if I could contact her with a few words of encouragement.
"Kim is a brilliant twenty-six-year-old Christian woman who has always been active in our church," he explained. "But last year she contracted motor-neuron disease and now must stay in bed with a feeding tube." The elder paused a moment, then added, "Kim is very depressed. She's wondering if her life is worth living anymore."

I telephoned Kim right away. Her mother tucked the receiver against her ear and against the pillow. I could hardly hear Kim's voice, her breathing was so faint. We discussed many things, including our favorite parts of the Bible, the subject of heaven, and prayer. Finally, Kim said faintly and with great labor, "Joni, they want to give me a ventilator to help me breathe, but I don't know whether I want one. I'm so tired. Do you think I should go on a ventilator?"

For a moment, I was speechless. Finally, I took a deep breath, whispered a quick prayer, and replied. "Kim, there are a lot of things to consider- not the least of which is that your decision will affect many people around you. But of the two choices facing you, I think there's a better one." I then proceeded to tell her about a simple but powerful Bible verse that has encouraged me and guided me through the toughest times of my forty- plus years of quadriplegia.

2 Peter 3:8- But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.

We all know the old adage that God looks at the last two thousand years as only a couple of days gone by. But what about the other half of that verse? The part about seeing each day as a thousand years?

What kind of math is that?

It's the math of One who lives outside of time, is not bound by time, and can step in and out of time whenever He pleases to accomplish His purposes. If we can really come to grips with the fact that God can pick up any twenty-four-hour day He chooses and give it an eternal impact of a thousand years, then each day of our lives becomes immeasurably important- and brimming with opportunity. Each day God gives us precious hours to invest in the lives of others- investments which will have eternal repercussions in our lives and theirs....

... Kim perked up as I began to speak with her about these thoughts. "But I'm in bed," she reminded me. "I can't go anywhere or do anything. How can my life count in this condition?"

"First Kim," I replied, "you can pray. No matter how feeble or fainthearted your prayers may seem to you, they have a very special power to God. It says in Psalms 10:17- 'You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.'

"Do you realize what this means, Kim? It means that the Lord cups His ear to listen when someone like you prays out of great affliction. He bends over backward when people offer Him a sacrifice of praise. Please hear me Kim. I mean this with all my heart. God will use your intercessions to shake the lives of those around you... as well as the destiny of nations."

Joni goes on to share:

I should tell you that Kim ended up living another month and a half after our conversation on the phone. But as her mother told me later on, those forty- five days- she looked at them as forty-five thousand years- were some of the most meaningful and important weeks she had ever lived.

Friend, whatever trials you've endured- you're enduring...
Your life matters in the eternal.

If you do not know Christ as your Savior and you want to know more, please message me. If you're struggling to take the next step- whatever that is, know you are loved. Reach out.

Be a Bertha, Not a Naomi

I wanted to wrap up by sharing a story about two women that I met when I was about 10 years old, Bertha and Naomi.

When I was about 10 years old, my dad took over as Pastor of a church. This church visited nursing homes where my dad would give a short sermon to encourage them and our church would sing with them. After that, we would visit with them for a while before going home.

There were two women in particular that my mom had a heart for- Bertha and Naomi. They were roommates and as different as night and day.

Bertha was one of the sweetest women I've met. She was full of joy. She waited each month for us to come and visit and she would save chocolates for us kids.

Naomi was bitter. All she could think about was the fact that her adult children never came to visit with her. It may have happened, but I don't ever remember seeing her smile.

These women were in the exact same circumstances but one was full of joy and one was full of bitterness.

My friend, as we are struggling with our health. As there are needles, doctors visits, sickness, tests, loneliness and more...

Let us ask God to show us the joy.

We are told that the Joy of the Lord will be our strength. (Neh 8:10)

It does not have to come from within us, it can come from HIM!

Let us be full of forgiveness, for we have been forgiven much.

Let us be full of grace, for we have been shown much.

And let us praise the Lord in ALL circumstances.

Amen.



Mold Illness Part 3- Diagnosis and Treatment

Thursday, November 14, 2019


As I shared in my first two posts, I had been sick for 3 years. We knew it happened after mold exposure. Regular doctors found nothing.

Functional doctors worked on detox and brain repair.

It was becoming increasingly apparent that whatever was happening, was effecting my brain and central nervous system.

(If you missed parts one and two, you can read them here and here.) 

We knew we have to make a decision soon. I had already told Steve that I was sure that whatever this was was going to kill me.

Some friends suggested that we look into lyme disease. One friend told us about a place that treated lyme, neurological illness, mystery illness and late stage cancer.

As soon as we read about Envita Medical Center and watched some of their videos, we knew we had to go.

We made a video sharing our story and uploaded it on Facebook.

We were absolutely blown away by what God did!

This clinic is not covered by insurance. The testing I needed was extensive... and expensive.

We asked for $9500 for the trip out there, meeting with the medical team and the testing.

Within 10 days, God provided, through our amazing friends and family, $10,000.

It seemed God wanted us to go to Arizona.

In the beginning of October we met with the doctor at Envita. We have never had someone ask so many questions in our lives. He wanted a complete background- going back to childhood. We met with him for over 2 hours.

The next day we came in for testing. 

They took 25 vials of blood.



I joked with my husband that if there was a bodily fluid, they took it.
My body was so cold that they had to cover me up with heat packs, heated blankets, and covers.

But it was worth it.

4 weeks later we got the call from the doctor.

Finally, after 3 years, we knew what was wrong.



They found a large amount of staph infection deep in my sinuses. It is common in biotoxin (mold) illness. This is likely releasing neurotoxins into my brain.


They found mold actually growing in my sinuses. While is it a small amount (Praise God!) it is still dangerous in an immune suppressed person. The doctor went on to explain that I am immune suppressed.


They found a very high amount of Zearalenone (the mycotoxin made from the strain of mold called Fusarium) in my body. There is a common thought that Stachbotrys, a.k.a. "black mold", is the only dangerous mold. That is not the case. I don't have black mold in my system.

My doctor went on to explain that mold is an immune suppressant. He said that when someone gets a transplant, they have to take an immune suppressant to keep their body from rejecting the transplant.

That immune suppressant is made from mold.

Because my immune system has been taken down, viruses and infections are taking over and attacking my central nervous system.

Because of the mold, yeast has taken over my digestive tract. Because of that, I am malnourished and steadily dropping weight. There are a lot of what the doctor called secondary issues on my labs that would probably resolve if I could absorb nutrients.

All of this is 3 years AFTER leaving my mold home and working continuously with my functional doctor to detox.

My doctor in Arizona explained that this does have to be taken very seriously. He said that if it is not done correctly, it could be very bad.

We have to travel to Arizona for 6 weeks of treatment. They will have to do extensive treatment including cleaning my blood. I will be at the treatment facility for at least 2 hours a day, 5 days a week.

They have said that the longer I wait for treatment, the more I will continue to deteriorate.

All of this is just to get me to 60% so I can come home and work with my medical team here.

Friends, we are asking for help. It will cost us around $50,000 to go out for treatment. As of right now, we have about 40% of what we need.

Please keep us in your prayers. Please share our story.
If you feel God is leading you to give, you can send it through paypal at kmegb82@gmail.com
or go to our go fund me account here:

Thank you for reading and praying. May God bless you!


Waiting on the Lord through the Trials

Monday, November 11, 2019


I am writing this post more for myself than anyone else.
But maybe- God in His infinite wisdom- can use it in the lives of others that are struggling.

Others that are tired. Weary.

For we are in the season of waiting.

I have been in this season for quite some time.
Waiting for the next treatment to work.
Waiting for the next test results.
Waiting for answers.

My focus shifts to the things of this life.
If only I felt better.
If only I had answers.
If only...

But there is always something to wait for.
So maybe my problem isn't the waiting, but the focus.

The Scriptures have a lot to say about waiting. 
Isaiah 40:31 is one of the most well known.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

This verse reminds me of a beautiful thing. I do not have to run on my own strength. There is only one thing I must do.

Wait on the Lord.

Wait on Him. HE will renew my strength. HE will keep me from fainting.

John Piper shares:

"Waiting for the Lᴏʀᴅ means he will give you strength. One of the most amazing truths that I ever discovered — and I was about 22 years old when I discovered it — was that God’s greatness is displayed not in his gathering slaves around him to work for him, to show that he has enough authority to get workers, but rather his greatness is shown in making him — himself — available to work for others."

In Psalm 27:14, David ends this Psalm by saying, 

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!


In Lamentations 3, right after we are told that the Lord's mercies never come to an end, verse 25 states:

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.

This is how His word changes me. Day by day.

I read His word and see that my problem is not the waiting. 
Waiting is a normal part of human life.

I am to wait on HIM.

The Lord who controls the universe will fight for me.
I only need to be still. (Exodus 14:14)

And He will keep me in perfect peace. (Isa 26:3)

Amen.

My Mold Story- Part 2

Saturday, November 9, 2019



If you missed the first part of my mold story, you can read it here.

We had hired Assured Bio Labs to come and look at our home. They found exactly what we were afraid of. Mold was everywhere. It was growing underneath our home. They found holes in our duct work and said that it had gotten in our HVAC system and was circulating throughout the house.

The mold levels in our home were TEN TIMES the levels of outside.

We were told to leave the home. We were told to leave our clothes. Leave our books. Leave everything.

We started looking for a place to live. All the while, I was getting sicker.
My body seemed to attack everything I ate. I started dropping weight.
Rapidly.

In a period of about 6 weeks I went from 130 lbs to under 100. My husband thought I got under 90.



I had panic attacks like nothing I've ever experienced in my life. My skin turned grey. I was extremely weak. My legs would buckle and give out and my husband would have to catch me. 

I stopped sleeping. When I could sleep, I would jerk awake suddenly with my heart racing. 

My adrenals started throbbing in my back. I could actually feel them. I started having major blood sugar swings.

Regular doctors had no idea. My functional doctor did labs and found methylation issues. He felt that once we started treating those and doing detox, I would feel better.

That was not the case.

My doctor started suspecting thyroid issues and checked my TSH. It was at 10. We started treating it. It dropped down to .02.

Then it balanced.

I told my husband that I felt like I was dying.

I have been out of that environment for over 3 years. We have done detoxes, we have done neurological work, we have worked to support adrenals, balance blood sugar.
Nothing ever lasts. Often, I get worse.

This year, I started getting worse. By April, I was having bouts of paralysis.
By June I couldn't walk, couldn't handle light or sound and was having full body convulsions.
The hospital said it was a migraine and if it was anything else they wouldn't know how to find it or treat it.
Comforting.

We knew I had severe anxiety, depression and ptsd from what had happened. It was recommended that we start ketamine therapy to help with that. When my husband called the ketamine clinic and explained what was happening with me, they recommended that I come in to have a glutathione/myers infusion before I started ketamine.

He carried me in.
I was able to walk out with assistance.

I started ketamine therapy and started walking normally, was able to work through a LOT of the ptsd and the anxiety and depression dramatically improved.

I was sent to a holistic psychiatrist. She put me on some medication to balance me out but really felt like I was on the road to recovery. She felt it was short term.

I started biblical counseling and really working through my struggles.
Each week I improved.

I started having more energy and cleaning. I started one of my favorite things- gardening!


I was so excited! I felt like, after 3 long years, I was finally on the road to recovery. I started having some weakness in my legs but I didn't think too much about it. I had dealt with that so much over the past 3 years and I knew my body had been through major trauma.

"It's just part of the recovery." I told myself.

Then, a week or so later- paralysis set in.

This time it was bad. I almost made it to the couch but fell on the floor. I couldn't even use my arms to pull myself up. My daughter had to pick up my top half and my son had to pick up my bottom half to get me on the couch.

Then they had to call their dad home from work.

"Mom's paralyzed again."

We spoke to our medical team and decided to go ahead and do another ketamine infusion. We didn't have any illusions that this was going to fix what was wrong but we thought it might get me walking again until we figured out the next step.

We went the next day. By the time we got there I could barely lift my arms, my legs were worthless extensions hanging from my body, and I was starting to slur my words.

Before they started me on my infusion, they tried to get me to push or pull against their hands with my feet.
They tried to get me to squeeze their hands.

I could do none of it.

10-15 minutes into ketamine I could squeeze her hand a little.

It was a good sign.

By the next day I could kind of walk.

This is the day after my infusion.

 

I have not regained full ability. Sometimes I can walk normally, sometimes I walk like this. Sometimes I can't even lift my legs. I fall a lot.

We were praying. We knew that no one here was finding what was wrong. We were going to have to take some drastic next steps.

To read part three, click here.

My Mold Story

Friday, November 1, 2019

I was trying to heal in a house filled with mold.

I have had health problems since childhood. Gut issues, asthma, allergies and anxiety were issues even when I was a child. I had started making health changes a few years before. I had cut gluten and dairy. Eventually I was cooking from scratch and eating a Paleo type diet.

While my body had some initial relief, I continued to struggle. Thinking I would take it a step farther, I started the GAPS diet to try to repair my gut.

If you aren't familiar, the GAPS diet involves a lot of cooking. I was in the kitchen hours a day which didn't really bother me because I enjoy cooking. 

I didn't know I was in one of the worst rooms in our house.

2 years before we had found out we were pregnant with twins. We had a couple of choices: 1. Sell our home or 2. Add on. We weren't finished remodeling our home so we decided it was best to add on. It would increase the value of the home anyway.



We hired a jack of all trades (mistake #1) to come in and do the plumbing for the addition. Within a couple of months I realized that water was coming up under the kitchen floor. My husband kept going under the kitchen floor but couldn't find the source of the leak. He had someone else come in, they couldn't find the source of the leak. All the while I was cooking in my kitchen and with an older kitchen without good ventilation, it could get pretty hot. Steve finally told me that he was going to have to tear up the entire kitchen floor to find the leak.

We never got around to that.

While doing GAPS, I continued to feel worse and worse. I had been dealing with a weakness in my arms. My stomach would swell up over my liver and gallbladder area. We were on vacation the week before I got sick and I was miserable. While we were gone, my husband had turned up the thermostat. We didn't know we were making an already bad problem worse.

The week I got home I decided to do a liver detox.

What I didn't know at the time is that if you have the perfect storm of genetic inability to detox + a lot of toxins built up in your body and you do a detox, you can make a terrible situation a whole lot worse. Toxins store in fat and if they start circulating in your system and can't exit they will go to one of the fattiest parts of your body- your brain.

I immediately started having severe panic attacks. I had truly never experienced anything like this. I wanted to claw my skin off. I turned grey.
I rapidly started losing weight. I weighed 130 before I got sick. Within several weeks my husband thinks I weighed 90 lbs at most.

Someone suggested that it could be mold so we started looking into it. My husband took me to his parents to get me out of the house and started meeting with remediators. Because we were all out of the house he turned up the thermostat again. We didn't realize what that would do.

As Steve started coming back to meet with remediators he started seeing visible mold in our home. It was growing on the dining room chairs. He found this in our laundry room. The laundry room that had just been remodeled as part of our addition.




The mold had been in the air all along- we had no idea. Once the heat was turned up in August, it took off with a fury.

In meeting with remediators, my husband found that most of them had no idea what they were doing and they weren't regulated in any way. Someone finally told him that he could hire the lab directly. That was our next step.

The mold lab came in and found the mold... everywhere. It was growing underneath our entire house. It had gotten in the HVAC system and was circulating throughout the entire house. We were all breathing it in.

The entire house needed to be gutted if it could be saved at all. Steve spoke to our doctor, experts online (there are very few when it comes to mold) and we had to make a hard decision. We had to walk away. 

While we learned there were a few pieces of wood furniture that could be saved, we lost almost everything we owned. If that was all, it would be a difficult but distant story. Unfortunately, it was just the beginning. I will share more in my next blog post.

To read part two, click here.

To read part three, click here.