Stepping out of fear- guest blog post

” Yes, we who deal with chronic illness have some pretty great reasons why we wouldn’t want to take risks in life, but we need to step out of our fears if we want to experience the greatness of the purposes God has for us.”

 

Like many of you I’m a wife and a mother, but I’m also a small business owner. My business, Wreaths By Liz, creates customized burlap, floral and vintage wreaths.

In addition to all of that, I deal with an auto-immune disease called Multiple Sclerosis (MS) which attacks my neurological system.

MS can cause serious short term and/or long term physical disability. Itʼs a difficult and unpredictable disease, and it has personally been an intimidating one for me to deal with at times, especially considering how it has affected my brain and spinal cord. One month I may feel like a normal, healthy person. The next, I may be lying in bed without full use of one or more parts of my body. I have now had 5 major flare-ups involving pain and physical impairment since becoming diagnosed in 2007.

During my flare-ups, I have lost much of the ability to walk and use my legs due to loss of feeling and weakness.  My right hand and arm have also been completely paralyzed and unusable, and I’ve lost most of my vision in one eye. Even now I’m dealing with some issues.  The vision in my right eye is still impaired and I’m struggling to walk well due to weakness, numbness and pain in my legs.

Each flare-up is unique in how long it lasts, but normally they are 1-2 months in duration. I deal with each as long as I can before submitting to a 3-day IV of steroids as a last resort with the hope of getting back to “normal” quickly.

In my current flare-up I’m doing a mix of natural things like working with my doctor to help me monitor my diet carefully and taking supplements. Both help reduce inflammation. I believe the most powerful thing I’ve done is find an amazing Physical Therapist to help me regain strength and functionality. I highly recommend this as we have seen amazing results already. I only wish I had known about this effective practice sooner!

MS has also effected me mentally. I have gone through an array of emotions since my diagnosis: fear of what was happening to my body, terror that my condition would force me into a wheelchair, and desperation is my quest to recover. I often struggle to find the balance between hope and reality.

At times over the last 9 years I have experienced such a sense of hopelessness dealing with the awfulness of this neurological auto-immune disease and all of the setbacks and disabilities I have endured. In the midst of all the hardship, I began to believe the lie that I’ve missed the boat and that it’s too late to dream,  it’s too late to accomplish anything, and that I’m not going to have much to offer anyone. It sounds awful to even put that on paper, but that is the truth of the struggles I have felt. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this feeling.

If we allow it to, disability and sickness can cause us to become easily isolated, trapped in our own fears, and feeling like an outsider.  I had a picture once of a parade walking by, and while most of the world was participating so many who deal with illness were standing on the sidelines. While their lives moved on, ours were at a standstill.

I am now realizing the lie of not having a lot of worth due to my sickness.  For a long time I tucked away dreams and desires in a corner of my heart. I believed that I was doomed to a life of battling this disease in a reactive position without ever moving ahead in life. I now see that those believes were not founded on truth.  It was a lie designed to hold me back from my potential and to keep me from accomplishing everything God wanted me to accomplish in my lifetime. It was meant to make me feel stuck in my circumstances, like damaged goods, and not good for much.

I have been challenged in my thoughts and forced to rethink what I really believe. Through recent circumstances I have realized how much I have devalued who I am, and I am now beginning to understand that God has placed gifts and talents in me with which I have a responsibility to do something!

The truth is: I have been created with purpose and destiny. I have been called. I have been chosen. God is redeeming my circumstances and giving me beauty for the ashes of my life. And I want to share that message with anyone else who battles mental and physical illness. They should not journey through life without hope.

I know sometimes it’s easier to make excuses for why we can’t do something, and we feel like we just don’t have what it takes. It can be a lot less challenging to stay isolated in our own little space and not push ourselves.  We’re scared to take a risk on doing something that we have always dreamed or desired to do fearing that we could fall flat on our faces! It definitely takes less effort to minimize our risks and stay away from places where we could face rejection and find out that we don’t really have what it takes!

I’m beginning to realize that I would rather take that risk instead of sitting around. I couldn’t experience hope if I never seize an opportunity to experience the amazing ways that God could show up with His grace and enable me to do more than I could ever have dreamed!

My challenge to all of you is this… Start dreaming again.  Stop making excuses why you can’t try something new and take a risk in an area of life where you’ve imagined goals that you’ve dreamed about chasing.

Yes, we who deal with chronic illness have some pretty great reasons why we wouldn’t want to take risks in life, but we need to step out of our fears if we want to experience the greatness of the purposes God has for us.

The more we know our value in who God has created us to be, the more I believe we will be compelled to take a step into the dreams and desires of our hearts, and I know for certain God will meet us there and take us further than we could go alone. 

DREAM BIG! TAKE RISKS! YOU ARE WORTH IT! 

 

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The tears won’t last forever

…..this is what I’ve had to remind myself for the last week now, as I have been in what feels like constant tears, even at times, weeping.

It’s hard for me to even admit this.

At times I’ve seen my tears as weakness, or a thing to be embarrassed over. I struggle with feeling like I should have moved past this point of grief and know how to handle all of this emotion by now as I deal with my issues regarding MS; but I’m realizing how much the tears are needed. They are cleansing to our hearts and an effective tool for helping me process  pain  and grief, which I believe could otherwise turn to bitterness or anger, if undealt with.

I felt it important to be honest and  share this because I want you to know that you are not alone in the hard days. I have brave days and I have days where I am so scared that I can barely breathe if I take my eyes off of Jesus, for even just one moment.

As I’ve dealt with this fear and sorrow creeping up on me in the midst of this MS flareup, it’s honestly been hard to remember how it was when my body was in its optimal state and it has been terrifying. I have found it hard to even put into words how isolating and suffocating it feels if I allow the fear to take a hold of my heart, but it is very challenging, to say the least.

As I have thought through my emotions in the last week, I have found that allowing myself to cry, whether it be alone or on friends shoulders, is a very powerful remedy. In addition, speaking my deepest fears out loud to those who love me has been very healing for me and has helped me work through some of the pain and fear I wrestle with in my heart, and to recognize the lies I believe. (Thank-you if this was you! 🙂 )

The truth is, I am tired of the tears, I grow tired of grieving, I’m weary of being face to face with my deepest fears and looking them straight in the eye, with no break– but this scripture has brought me so much hope and encouragement. It helps me to allow myself to be in this place of tears, because I know I won’t stay here forever. And neither will you.

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” PSALM 30:5.

 

Last weekend, a sweet new friend of mine captured the photo of me shown above and it made me laugh when I saw it because I have felt quite the opposite recently! Seeing that photo though helps me remember my true identity– I am a Christ-follower, filled with a deep joy and hope that cannot be shaken, no matter the circumstances. Underneath the grief, the pain and the tears, there is still joy to be found, just as we are promised, and it truly will be our strength to carry us through.

I pray no matter what season you find yourself in, you are able to find joy at the core of who you are, because of the deep and abiding hope we have– Jesus Christ, himself.

“…..the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

 

 

 

Two are better than one

They say a picture is worth a thousand years…
 
I wish we had a camera to capture the moment that I was able to walk across a field outdoors this afternoon, but only because I was gripping the hand of an amazing woman on either side as they literally had to hold me up to keep me from stumbling and falling, due to balance and weakness issues. (I’m sure the wedges I was wearing  for our photo shoot didn’t help either. Ha!)
 
My heart is sad that my legs have really been struggling in the last few days; but in that moment this afternoon none of it mattered, as tears filled my eyes and I had a glimpse again of how life is meant to be lived. Together, in community, as a team, occasionally the stronger arms needing to hold up one who might be struggling for the moment.
 
It’s humbling to be the one who needs the help but I know one day I will be the one helping hold another up. Don’t fool yourself and think you can do life alone. It may be possible temporarily but you will miss out on so much joy from community if you do so, and the load could quickly become too much to bear.
 
God created us to do life together, and it truly does lighten our load when we let another help carry it. 💜 
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:9-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Deliverance in the midst of trouble

I believe that God sometimes wants to deliver us THROUGH our troubles, instead of just delivering us OUT of our troubles.

I have been dealing with with a very sore tooth off and on for the last 5 years since I had a cavity filled, as well as getting it crowned, and the nerve has never been very happy since then. It has been so incredibly painful for me, for weeks at a time each time, as I’ve dealt with this tooth and it’s issues, but I had been fortunate enough so far to be able to get inflammation down naturally through diet and supplements every time it would flare up.

However, when it began to flare up again last Friday, my heart sank because I’ve been through so much physical pain lately and I honestly felt like I had reached the end of what I could even deal with. I really began praying for God to take the pain away again or to please show me if I just needed to get this taken care of, instead of trying to spend weeks in pain fighting it naturally, per the usual.

The pain continued to only get worse as the weekend went on, so I made a phone call yesterday morning to see if my favorite endodontist, who only works at the Thompson Station location one day a month, was available soon–and of course, wouldnt you know it, He just happened to be here the very next day. (today) Such a clear sign to me that God was providing a way for me to get this taken care of, and quickly!

I admit– I felt like a bit of a failure that I couldn’t seem to get my body to heal the way I wanted it to even though I had worked so hard, and also a bit disappointed that God wasn’t just giving me some miraculous healing and taking the pain away right then and there.

However, as I went through with this root canal procedure today, God began showing me how important our troubles can be in our lives, because it’s an opportunity for him to show us who He is!

I believe miracles are amazing and I personally love the miraculous, but as I grow in my christian walk, I’m finding that sometimes while we are concerned about the end result, God is more concerned about our journey getting there, and ultimately, our hearts.

What I’m realizing more and more is: we cannot know him as our great healer if we never deal with sickness; we cannot know him as our comforter if we never deal with loss and grief; He can never show us his power and strength if we never experience weakness; He cannot show us what a great provider he is unless we experience lack in our lives. So sometimes while we are praying for him to take trials out of our lives, he actually wants us to walk through them with him by our side, so he can show us who He is–and who we are, too!

I believe God was wanting me to walk through this experience with this root canal today because he knew I was afraid of having another one done…I’ve heard stories of how it can cause harm to your health, among other reasons, and so therefore I began to put God in a box, in terms of how I thought he should deliver me. But this time, he didn’t deliver me OUT of my situation but instead walked me THROUGH the very thing I was afraid of, while showing me his power, his provision and his healing through getting this root canal!

After what I experienced today, I want to start praying differently. I want to have a heart that is willing to walk through these trials in life, so I am able to see all the ways God is going to show up and show me his deliverance IN THE MIDST of my trials. In this way, I believe this will make his name great and so many others will most certainly be impacted by the things we are walking through, and will be able to see how God is delivering us in the midst of it!

Be encouraged if you are walking through a trial–God is bringing deliverance and He will bring you out on the other side, all while showing you his faithfulness and goodness!

PSALM 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

 

 

 

 

 

The Power of a Story

I had an incredible opportunity to share my story of how I’m journeying through chronic illness as I deal with MS, this week on the CourageCast podcast!

I hope you are able to hop over to the link provided below, and take a listen to all 3 days where I am interviewed by Eric Nordhoff! And most of all, I hope you all are encouraged as you journey through your own hard places in life, remembering that you are not alone in whatever you’re walking through!

 

Part 1: https://www.buzzsprout.com/57179/414779-104-elizabeth-taylor-courage-through-a-chronic-illness

Part 2: https://www.buzzsprout.com/57179/414780-105-elizabeth-taylor-the-antidote-for-despair

Part 3: https://www.buzzsprout.com/57179/414801-106-elizabeth-taylor-not-without-hope

 

I would love your thoughts after you listen, so please feel free to come back here and leave a comment on anything you would add, if you’ve experienced some of the same things I have, etc!