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
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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!

 

 

Learning to receive

How well we are able to receive is just as important as how well we are able to give. 💜

It takes a lot of humility to allow others to serve and bless us, and I’m realizing how at times we could even miss out on ways God wants to bless us and give us good gifts, when we struggle with humbling ourselves enough to allow Him to do just that–and most of the time, through those around us!

At times I know I’ve struggled with allll the needs I seem to have, and become concerned that although they are very real, wearying others with my constant issues. I have never once been treated that way though, and I am continually contacted with offers to help, meals dropped off, prayers, help with my kids, reduced fees for medical issues. So if these are humans like you and I offering so much generosity, that is only a small glimpse of how a perfect God feels towards us. He never wearies of our needs, and loves to come and rescue and save us–EVERY SINGLE TIME!

I am truly grateful, humbled and moved to tears by so many of you who have continually served and given so much to my family and I in the last few years, as I have dealt with this ugly disease, MS, that I still believe I WILL get the upper hand on one day soon! I’ve come to realize there is no way I could ever repay, nor do I need to, because I’m trying to learn how to receive these as gifts from God. And you should do the same! 🙂 Please know how moved my heart is by all of the kindnesses shown to me, and I pray you all receive so much blessing in return!

I hope this reminder encourages you to find the courage to reach out, ask for help and receive what is offered.You might be surprised as I have been, by the extravagance shown, and it will bring others joy to be able to serve you.

I can’t wait to be on the giving end again, but in the meantime, I’m grateful God is teaching me how to be a good receiver!

 

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows

Matthew 7:7 Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.

 

 

6 THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU’RE IN A HEALTH CRISIS

Ok, so unfortunately in dealing with Multiple Sclerosis, as is with many other chronic health issues, you can have what is known as a flare-up of symptoms. There can be minor flare-ups that last around 24 hours or less, or they can turn into major flare-ups where they last even longer.

In the latter a lot of times very high doses of steroids (think 1000mg+ for multiple days) via IV are relied on to shut down and reboot the immune system quickly to prevent damage. Damage can look different for each auto-immune disease but for me with MS, the damage I’m trying to prevent are lesions (scarring, essentially) on my brain or spinal cord. I already have a good amount and I’m always trying to keep an eye on episodes so that I don’t accumulate more, which could cause my brain and spinal cord to be unable to send nerve messages to other parts of my body–eventually causing further disability.

I have now had 5 very serious episodes in the last 10 years and I have felt as I was in crisis again even this last week. And so I write this blog post because I so wish I could have read something like this as a reminder when I was going through my own health crisis early on!

#6- Take very good care of yourself physically during this time– try to eat as healthy as possible, drink lots of water and get as much sleep as you can. It will help you more than you could even imagine! Example: my doctor told me in his office earlier this week that I need to be getting as much sleep as I possibly can right now, as I deal with the current episode I’m in. I’m also still doing my ketogenic diet as well, which I believe is helping me too.

#5-Stay positive-this is probably not a good time to listen to the news too much, be on social media more than necessary, be around anything that makes you feel discouraged. This is a time to really stay positive and focus on the GOOD things in life. Example: I keep good encouraging music on in my car so I can be reminded to pray and to think about positive things. I’ve had one particular album playing constantly for the last week with messages like how God is our healer, He is our Father, how He cares for me and is always with me.

#4- Practice gratitude– Anyone who has spent any time around me can probably tell you that one of my top favorite things to do is practice thankfulness. I have found it life-changing over the last 10 years as I have wrestled with my health issues. One of the mottos in our home is: “There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.” Example: I remember when I was unable to use my right arm for a period of time in 2013, being able to use that opportunity to show my kids that I could still find something to be thankful for. I remember telling them how glad I was that I could still use my legs to walk, I could still see with my eyes. It’s amazing how changing our focus can change us! Even today as I was walking into work this afternoon, I got out of my car and felt how weak and shaky my legs were, but then I was able to remind myself that yeah, my legs are pretty weak and shaky BUT I’m so thankful I can still walk, and even without a cane! I can still move my legs at all! My spirits felt pretty uplifted with that thought as  I walked in the door.

#3-Surround yourself with a good support system-DO NOT DISCONNECT OR ISOLATE YOURSELF. Hopefully I made that point clear! 🙂 It is so important to surround yourself with good, healthy people. Ideally these connections would have already been made BEFORE the crisis begins, but called on during the crisis. You will want people by your side who can be honest with you, tell you the truth and truly listen to hear your heart. I know these people are not always easy to find, but I challenge you to pray and ask God to show you who in your life could be that person to you. Example: I have been called “hero” many times during my health journey, but to be honest, I’m not sure that’s fair. I wouldn’t be a “hero” without so many who have stood by my side faithfully supporting me, praying for me, helping me. I think my support system is made up of true heroes, and I am soo grateful for all of them!

#2-Be honest with yourself– this is huge. I’m still learning what this looks like but I believe we can’t properly grieve and move on with our lives into hopefully a place of joy if we aren’t honest with ourselves, and grieve our losses. Loss of health is so huge; it is life-altering, it has shaken me to the core and left me so afraid of the future at times. Don’t be afraid look at your reality and call it what it is, because it is far better than living in denial and not dealing with your pain. #3 (your support system) will also play a huge role in this. Find people who can process with you and help you as you work through your pain and weep possibly at times, over the suffering you’re experiencing. Example: Some of the most powerful times in my own health crisis have been when I’ve been able to be honest and work through some of my pain with close friends in my life. It brought such a sense of relief and peace as I was able to safely share my heart with them and they listened and came close in my suffering.

#1- Lean on God– This is #1 intentionally because we all need something to lean on that is bigger than ourselves. When I’m dealing with fear of my circumstances in life, especially in relation to health, it brings so much peace to my heart to remember that my God is bigger and stronger than me, and He truly has no limitations. Nothing is impossible with Him. Remembering these things keeps me hopeful that no matter how I feel, He holds the whole world in his hands and He is working in my present situation, whether I feel it or not. Example: when I’m feeling overwhelmed and stressed about life, I like to walk outside at night and look at the skies. It calms me instantly and connects me with God. It reminds me of how powerful he is to be able to hang the stars and the moon in the sky…..and to care for me.

If you do the things I’ve laid out above, I guarantee it will help reduce the sense of powerlessness and hopelessness in your situation, as I find it does with me. It gives me a plan of action and empowers me to begin to find choices and changes I can make in my life, instead of feeling like I am completely at the mercy of my situation.

Finally, if I could speak any word of encouragement to you as you walk through your own health crisis, it would be to remember this truth: This is only a season. Yes, you may be dealing with this issue the rest of your life as I well may be also, but what you’re walking through right now will not always feel this way. There may be hard days but there also will be much joy ahead for you. Brighter days are coming. Believe that. 

 

***Feel free to give me feedback on this post via comments or messages! I’d love to know if you have anything you would add to this list!

Humbled and deeply loved

light-in-heart

 

 

It is humbling to experience so much kindness and so many prayers from many amazing people in my life who I know are cheering me on lately. You all encourage me greatly!

It is humbling to take a walk tonight and realize that my 34 yr old legs feel more like a 70 year old’s. They seem to have gotten worse over the last week and I only pray that this will not progress and worsen. My feet feel like I’m walking on pin cushions, my legs felt heavy to lift and more difficult to move and I found myself wondering if I need to replace my cane that never showed up with our stuff after we moved last year….

It is humbling to realize how little control we truly have in life. As much as I am fighting this illness in my head right now, I feel changes in my body that I literally cannot get to stop. This is why I am thankful my trust is in God, because I know he in control even though I am clearly not. He knows my future and is writing my story. Just not sure at this point how in the world it’s going to turn out. ha

It is humbling to have to create a plan for a friend to help out when my husband is traveling again next week if needed. I never dreamed I would be in the place where I would be making decisions like this and having to worry about whether or not I would be able to take care of my children and my home alone without help.

It is humbling to know I have so many incredible people in my life who would do anything for me. Having a support system like this helps me not feel so scared or alone. I am truly grateful.

And more than anything, it is humbling to know how deeply I am loved by God. Even when I am afraid, I know He still has a plan and purpose for my life and in the end, everything really will be ok.

In closing, I went old school today and was listening to Crystal Lewis’s Beauty for Ashes song….it was just what my heart needed. The lyrics comforted me greatly as I felt God speaking them to my heart:

 

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

Walking through the valleys….

I know I haven’t blogged in almost a month. It hasn’t been by accident. I literally have not been able to type the words that have been in my heart for a while now.

The truth is: sometimes life hurts. Sometimes it’s all we can do to hang on for dear life. I have felt that way since the beginning of the year, when I finished my last round of IV drugs to help keep my MS symptoms at bay. I was forced to stop them because of some side-effects I was dealing with, that my neurologist was concerned about.

I have felt tossed around like waves on the seas for the last six months.

My faith has been tested and tried. I have felt scared to death and terrified, like I haven’t felt since I was first diagnosed in 2007.

I have looked my fears straight in the eye this year.

It has taken me a while to figure out what my biggest fear is that was burdening me so much to the point of leaving me feeling suffocated and even breathless. Once I finally was able to admit to myself what it was, it was hard to even say it out loud….much less blog about it!

The truth is–my biggest fear with my health is that no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, even with all the steps I take with my team of doctors around me advising me– I’m going to eventually wind up in a wheelchair, unable to walk any longer.

Wow, heavy stuff right?!

There were a couple of reasons I came to this conclusion, and one of them will take a whole another blog post so I will talk about it next time but the other reason I will mention here is that I have been sliding backwards since getting off of these MS treatment drug Tysabri. Or maybe that’s not true…maybe I should say, I feel as if it has been one step forward, two steps back for the last 6 months, even though I’ve been working on some awesome stuff with my Dr which I believe will have an impact on my health, long term.

I haven’t even had the energy to tell many people what I have even been dealing with in the last 6 or so weeks but as of right now, my feet are partially numb alot of the time lately, and I got confirmed at the optometrist tonight that I do have Optic Neuritis in my right eye and have for a while, we think. This is a brand new MS symptom I have never had in my right eye so it’s a little scary to think of what scarring may be happening on my brain or spinal cord.  You see, I was in pretty bad pain in my right eye for at least 4-5 weeks but I thought I was just having sinus issues. As it stands right now, my vision and the color in that eye right now is easily about 35% less than in the other eye, a lot of the time. (Nerve issues can be inconsistent where things can flare up and settle down)  Things look somewhat dim and squiggly as well as creating some double vision for me since my eyes aren’t working well together. No one knows how long it will last and how quickly if at all my vision will clear up, although I pray it’s quickly and completely!

All of this has has been wearing on me physically, emotionally, spiritually.

I have been forced to take a very hard look at myself, at who God is and at my circumstances. It has been more painful than I can even say. I have tears in my eyes as I even type this thinking of the agony I have felt over the last few months wrestling with my fears and my reality.

There have been many prayers, many many tears, much soul searching as I have come to grips with the fact that no one can promise me that my worst fears will not come to pass. I have felt so desperate at times to cling to some sort of hope from a promise like that, but none of us are powerful enough to make that promise!

The more I try to control my life, the more afraid I am and the harder I fall. 

The good news is, I have finally found a safe place to once again land–and it is this:

I could try and try and do all I can and still wind up wheelchair-bound one day down the road. I honestly hope and believe I will not but I do not know my future!

The only firm place I can stand is in the fact that God is the author of my story, He is the only one who knows what my future looks like, and He loves me more than I can even imagine! 

So the true wrestling in my soul I finally realized is, do I or don’t I trust him? Do I really really trust that He loves me? That He has my best in mind? That if my health continues to deteriorate as I have seen some this year, that He is still good and still has a plan? Do I really believe that?

You guys–these are really hard questions to wrestle with. I know so many of you are going through pain like I am, and having to make really hard decisions of what you really believe. Please contact me if I can pray for you, and know that you are not alone in your journey.

I am so grateful I am now finding a safe place to land in my heart, but every day I have to make that choice–to trust my heavenly Father. To surrender in a deeper way than I ever have to Him and the plans he has for my life. It is the only way I can find true peace.

Thank-you so much to all of you who read my blog, follow my story and bring me so much encouragement. I still believe the best is yet to come, and I hope you can also find the courage and hope to believe that as well!

 

Day 22: Happy Fathers day and Husband caregiver day

Tears filled my eyes a few days ago when I saw there really is a national Husband caregiver day, to go along with the beloved Father’s day that we all know.

I  have a husband who knows far too well, both of these roles.

Neither of us knew when we got married at 19 & 25 years old, the things we would soon walk through. That he would have to care for me at times when I would struggle to care for myself. That he would have to somehow find a way to manage our kids, our household and my care all while trying to have a career. But as I have gotten diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis almost 10 years ago, that is exactly what he has done.

That takes so much courage, strength and fortitude. And somehow he’s doing it, all by the grace of God.

There are days I haven’t been sure how bad things will get  with my health and I have wondered the extent of the care he would have to provide for me, and yet he doesn’t complain or blink an eye at the work it takes.

He has grown so much in patience and kindness over the years as he has sat with me while I cry, or I’m so afraid, or I simply just can’t move.

He has quickly stepped up to the plate in loving on our kids and providing the stability they need when clearly, sickness doesn’t always provide that.

He has also helped to keep our home beautiful when everything else seems like it’s falling apart, and when I’m unable to contribute.

You all see an awesome friend, a man of God, a hard worker—and I get to see that and even so much more.

He is truly the rock of our home, and I am so grateful for all he has done for our family to get us through the last 14 years of marriage and kids.

And so I dedicate this blog post to him today, as a tribute and public recognition of the incredible man that he is. I am so thankful and honored to be his wife and to be raising our beautiful kids together while we walk this journey. As painful at times as it is, there is also so much beauty to be found in the midst of it.

Happy Fathers day and Husband Caregiver day! You are more than I could have even prayed for! I love you!

Day 21:Keto on….the doctor is in!

imageWell, my doctor (Dr. Hutton)  joined in and got on board with the ketogenic diet yesterday, and apparently that’s all I needed to mentally kick it into high gear.

I have been struggling LIKE CRAZY. Talk about walking around feeling like a total failure at the whole thing, but not for lack of trying, that’s for sure! It has been rough, and very humbling for me.

So when I heard he was starting and was planning to be into ketosis in about 24 hours, that was just the motivation I needed to charge ahead. There’s no way I was not going to let him beat me there! 😉 I’m glad he doesn’t follow me on social media or I would have to confess all this to him, although I did tell him he is now my competition. haha

I realized a very important thing today, and I have to give my amazing husband credit for this….he said I should aim for 0 grams of carbs so I could hit around 15 grams of carbs or less. And guess what? It worked! I feel so much more successful after today and hope to have an amazing day hitting my macros tomorrow as well. I think my biggest challenge has been finding the right things to eat. It has been such a big learning curve for me!

Maybe this is pathetic but I was almost in tears this evening when I saw my chart and how I KILLED my macros today. I hit everything pretty close to dead-on to my goals! (My goals being 100 grams of fat, 50 grams of protein, less than 20 grams of carbs)

In addition to all of that, It was a very emotionally challenging day for me as I’ve been with some stuff in my right leg that has had me about scared out of my mind that I am going into a relapse, so I’m trying to get the pain and discomfort under control.

I have more to say about all of that in another post but I tell ya what, it takes up a lot of head space fighting fear, which is what makes today’s victory even more amazing. Today was a reminder to me of why I do what I do. Why I even work so hard to do this diet for my brain. I need it. I hate fear. I hate how it wants to run my life, and I refuse to let it. I truly cannot afford to let it have any place in my heart!

Anyway, thank-you God for your grace and for the small but important victory today. I needed it.

Cheers to all of you who are working so hard, and are kicking butt! I know it is not easy!

 

Keto on.

 

Day 20: What is defining you?

Ok first– wow, sorry I went MIA for a bit there!

Life has been a little crazy, a little hard, a little painful and also just busy in a good way for the last week so I had to make the decision to set aside blogging until things slowed down from my trip, my birthday festivities and dealing with some personal painful situations I have been walking through.

 

But….I’m back now!  🙂

I had a situation this afternoon where I was at the pool with my kids in the HOT Tennessee  sun. After about an hour, I felt myself overheating and had to rush the kids home pretty quickly so I could get out of it as quickly as possible.

I felt my left eye (the one that lost most of the eyesight temporarily back in 2006 due to an MS episode) get a little blurry and spotty and then I really knew I had overdone it!

I was disappointed because a friend of mine had invited me to attend a exercise weight class with her tonight, and I was REALLY looking forward to it!

As I reluctantly texted her and told her I couldn’t make it due to apparently too much heat and sun, I felt the old familiar sting of frustration hit me as I remembered what I deal with and how hard it is sometimes to feel held back from what I think is no big deal for everyone else, and how nice it must be to have their body cooperate with them a little more than mine does. (maybe not always true, but that’s how I was feeling at the time ;))

As quickly as I felt the first thoughts and emotion hit me, than just as quickly I felt something rise up within me reminding me that I get to choose what defines me! I can choose to be defined by my limitations or I can choose to be defined by who God says I am! 

My limitations tell me things: like I am weak, I can’t keep up with everyone else, I will always be held back by my illness, I can’t do the things I want to do, etc etc.

But God tells me: I am strong, I am capable, I am victorious, I can do all the things He has called me to do because of his strength, nothing is impossible for me as long as He is involved.

Every day in the smallest of situations, in the briefest of thoughts, we are constantly making choices in our minds, the place where our the biggest battlefield lies. The choice we are always confronted with is: What are we going to choose to believe?

Our limitations tell us lies but God always speaks the truth to our hearts.

We cannot afford to forget that we have an enemy of our soul who is fighting to keep us held down, to keep us from believing that we are truly victorious; but our God is on the other side declaring over us that He loves us, He has a plan for our lives, He is for us and NOT against us.

I don’t know about you but I REFUSE to be defined by my limitations! I am going to make the choice to line my heart and my thoughts up with what God says about me! The enemy only seeks to drag us down, but God has such an amazing way of lifting us up and encouraging us, doesn’t He?

So my question for you today is: What is defining you? What voice are you listening to? Are you allowing yourself to be limited or empowered with the choices you are making?

The challenge is: Pay attention to your thoughts. Pay attention to what you are choosing to believe about yourself and your situations. Make adjustments if needed. Ask God to help you! He will empower you and give you the strength and grace you need to believe His truth.