"O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you; be our strength every morning and our salvation in times of distress."
I posted the above verse on instagram yesterday and mentioned how wonderful it is that the Lord uses different scripture that we memorize years ago to bring comfort, peace, and joy to our lives in the present. I see this everyday throughout this journey that the word of God is living and active and that no matter what circumstance or situation His word is not just for the past but for the present.
I was given this verse by a former student of mine (the beautiful Breann) my second year of teaching in Georgia. I will never forget the day because there was a ton going on that year that was personally and professionally difficult and the latest event had been that my apartment had a dangerous gas leak in it and I had to evacuate. (I shake my head now because that seems trivial compared to more recent circumstances. *smiles*) Breann had written out this verse on a note card and from the first time that I read it it became the prayer of my heart throughout that difficult year. In my final year of teaching I went back to that verse and shared with the girls Bible class the significance of it and we memorized it (again for some) together.
A couple of weeks ago I was feeling extremely discouraged by the "length" of this journey. While there have been some small steps of improvement (which I will share below) the reality of the slow healing process can sometimes be extremely discouraging. I had to make the extremely heartbreaking decision two weeks ago not to attend two dear friends weddings (Carina&Matt's and Paul&Katie's) and once again I was caught in the land of "if only" and discouragement. "If Only I wasn't sick I would have a job and could afford to go..." "If Only I wasn't sick and didn't need treatment then I could afford to go..." "If only I wasn't sick and didn't have to pay over $310 for medications each week (after insurance pays the other costs) then I would have money to go..." and I realized quickly that it would be easy to live in the land of "if only" which takes my entire focus off of the Lord.
In the middle of these happenings I received the most precious email from Carina and a couple of days later I was looking in my wallet for a stamp when I found the note card from Breann so many years ago. What an absolute blessing from the Lord to receive such love and encouragement and to find that beautiful reminder at the exact time that I needed it. Truly the Lord understands our hearts, our desires, and our longings and loves us so uniquely and individually that He knew that the email from Carina (and later text message from Paul) and this beautiful ancient verse would be a staggering reminder of all of His goodness. I might not understand the ways and walls that He places or the reasoning behind the losses and sacrifices in this journey but His blessings and gifts far outweigh any perceived disappointment.
This above quote by Joni has also been an incredible source of encouragement in the past days and weeks and I am confident will continue to be an encouragement throughout this journey. I can definitely testify that there is no better place then being "walled" in by God... truly He makes us a "prisoner of hope" within those walls.
As I think back since my last notes from the porch update I am thankful to share that the decisions that we made at that point seem to have been the best for my body. My body seems to be slowly responding to the different medications and although there are difficult days with medications (and I am still struggling to up that one from 1 teaspoon to 24 teaspoons!!) there have been no severe reactions and for that I am incredibly thankful. Things are slowly slowly slowly (sometimes so slow that I have to re-read my journals to see the difference!! hahaha) moving forward. Instead of staying in bed all day or needing help to walk (if I was able to walk!) last summer I have been able to move a little more easily, gotten dressed out of my pajamas 4 out 7 days a week now (if you have been seriously ill you completely understand what an accomplishment this is!) am able to walk some small distances (I am up to .25 a day without passing out!! WAHOO!! *smiles*), was able to do my own laundry the other day (yes, there were tears!) and for the past six weeks have been able to feed & water scamper (which my parents or sister have been doing for the past two years. Yes, I felt that I needed to clarify that scamper was being fed and not starving. Somehow looking at this picture I doubt that was anyone's concern. *hahaha*).
These things have all been MAJOR victories and remind me during difficult days to keep fighting and pressing forward. I am COMPLETELY confident that this is a testament to so many of you that are praying. Please do not stop!! On the flip side I continue to covet prayer as the reality is that almost everyday is extremely difficult with side effects from the medications that are extremely unpleasant, stomach pain and issues, and extreme fatigue. In addition to these continuing prayer requests I do ask that you join with my family in praying for these items also:
(1) Stomach Medicine Cost: One of the main medications that has helped me "live" (literally) and is helping heal my stomach issues has increased its cost by more than 50%. Unfortunately this particular medicine took off the generic brand several months ago and without warning the pharmaceutical company upped the cost to the dismay of all of us that use this. This particular medication is referred to as "a last resort" typically as it has a unique blend of medications that are very specific and there is nothing comparable on the market. What this means is that instead of the medicine costing $480 (after insurance) for a month it now costs $2700 (after insurance). Yes, unfortunately you have read that correctly. (I might have had a minor breakdown in the pharmacy when I was told.) At this point the doctors and the pharmacists have written the prescription so that we are paying about $330 every 4 to 5 days instead of one lump sum but this medicine is something that I desperately need and is a huge drain on our finances. (Obviously this is just one very small component of my treatment plan so the numbers mentioned are not taking into account my other 7 medications, 80 vitamins & supplements, and other medicinal items that I use!) The pharmaceutical company has a patient "assistance" program and I applied for that several months ago and we are anxiously waiting to hear back the results from this. Would you please pray that we would hear back immediately about this and that the finances would be covered for this need? Thank you so much. Most of all we ask for prayers for healing for my stomach!
(2) San Francisco California Trip: I will be heading back out to San Francisco for my 6 month (in person) appointment with my doctor from Pacific Frontier Medical Group in early September. (As y'all might remember this is part of their requirements that their patients see them every six months.) At this point we are tentatively planning to start antibiotic shots for the Lyme Disease!! The point of the shots is that the antibiotics will bypass the stomach/colon area and not have to be "processed" there which my stomach will not be able to do. In early March (maybe earlier) the plan is to add in the picc line. I have heard that this is not always the most pleasant time (with this specific medication) -and we all know how I react to medications...- so I admit that I am a bit apprehensive about this trip. I trust my doctors out there completely but would appreciate prayers that this will work with no severe reactions, etc. Due to finances I will be going alone out to SF and would also appreciate prayers for peace for this entire time. At this point any money that is raised in my "go fund me page" for the summer is going to help pay for the cost of the stomach medicine and for this trip. I continue to be so humbled by your generous and gracious support.
(3) October Treatment: Along with the trip to San Francisco we have decided that I will be making a necessary trip back to Whitaker Wellness Institute to receive intensive alternative therapies to help my body not only get a much needed "boost" but also to help my body use ALL of the treatments that I am currently doing to work at a much deeper level. Lyme Disease bacteria likes to hide and move and makes it difficult to kill completely. The therapies that I received in 2013 and will receive in October will work along side my treatment plan to help my body fight these three diseases (Lyme, Cancer, and Environmental Illness) to continue to help fully eradicate them. While I am there I will receive Hard Covered Hyperbaric Oxygen & Vitamin C IV therapy.
Both of these therapies in conjunction with my current treatment plan is necessary and we are definitely stepping out in faith that the Lord will provide all of the needed financial costs. You can see a breakdown of the costs on the new "go fund me page" that I have created specifically for this trip by clicking HERE.
You can see that on the left side of my blog I have decided to only keep the go fund me page for the October treatment. We are trusting that the Lord is going to provide all of the other needs for this summer (and specifically for my stomach medicine!)I shared with a friend recently the following about asking for money and I hope that you will hear my heart in this e-mail:
"At this point in the journey ... well honestly for the whole journey... I have struggled to ask for additional resources financially. It is hard for me because before I got sick when I was working I was the one that loved to help out and and be the one to help out so this is very humbling and at this point in the journey I feel (to be blunt) very humbled and embarrassed but at the same time there is a deep financial need. We are stepping out in faith because we do believe that the Lord is leading me to go back to Whitaker Wellness Institute not only to get a "necessary boost" but to use the oxygen and vitamin c as intensive therapies along with the antibiotic medication that I am on to help me really have a more intensive fighting capability and really move forward in this fight. We are majorly stepping out in faith because we are not even sure how we are going to meet the needs of this summer let alone to do this trip but everyone (including the doctors) have recommended it. All of that to say I wanted you to know and understand that your offer overwhelmed me and humbled me and it has taken me days to respond simply due to that..."
My sweet friend Caroline is hosting a fundraiser to help cover the costs of treatment. If you would like to know more you can click HERE!
I share that to say that I would ask for prayers above anything else and I am so grateful for ALL of you faithful prayer warriors!! I pray that the Lord continues to bless you as you have abundantly blessed me. Thank you to so many of you that continue to support me and pray for me throughout this journey. You are an incredible blessing. I love y'all!!