Wednesday, May 28, 2014

In the Kitchen with the Master Chef

Life is a lot like being in a kitchen where God is the Master Chef. He has all these dishes being prepared, ingredients out that at first glance one wonders what in the world they will be used for. What is their
purpose? Who wants to put apple cider vinegar in their salsa anyway? How would that improve the flavor? It smells horrific.

I am the little child who comes in and wants to put my fingers in the pie and mess it all up. Here is what I think should happen. Never mind what the recipe says, we don’t need the baking soda or the salt in chocolate chip cookies, what is wrong with you? I want to put in more sugar, it will make it deliciously
sweet, right? How about some milk? And we don’t need the raw eggs. Gross. Hey! What are you doing? Why are you beating all of those ingredients together? You are putting in the chocolate chips, the best part of this weird mess, in last? Why not put those in first?
Without any guidance, I could make a huge mess of the Master Chef's work. A good cook can always fix a mistake.

That’s how it is with God in real life. He is the Master Chef and I am the little child. He has the recipe of my life and He knows what is on the ingredients list. He has the perfect idea of what He wants me to turn into. He knows how much salt, and raw eggs I need in order to make me stick together under harsh circumstances, and the salt that is for flavoring. Oftentimes I am lost as to what He is doing. I have no idea what is going on. I don’t know what this trial’s purpose is. Building faith and trust in Him, certainly, but what else? Why the waiting? Why the silence? Why the rough mixing up? What was that for? Did I do something wrong? I am your child, right? Why would You do this to me? No, I don’t want to learn patience. That process never seems to end!

I have to trust that the Master Chef knows what He is doing and doesn’t need my help with the order of things. I have to be willing to keep my hands out of things and not stick my fingers in the unmixed cookie dough and exclaim with a puzzled look on my face, “What in the world is this and what are You doing?!”
The Lord is in control of my life. I have found that when my life seems to be spinning out of control, the Lord has it all under His control. Just like the cookie dough enduring the hand mixer digging its blades in there, and mixing it all up and seemingly out of control. The Master Chef knows that this is necessary.
He knows that in order for His masterpiece to be beautiful and
delicious it has to undergo a harsh process; including at least eighteen minutes in three hundred degree heat. He understands that this is vital in baking chocolate chip cookies. And for them to come out looking luscious and soft

I have to trust my Lord and Savior with the recipe of my life. If I am not willing to undergo the sufferings and hardships of the Christian life I will never take the next step further into having a beautiful heart and soul.

Have you submitted your life to the hand of the Savior? Are you undergoing difficult circumstances and doubting the Lord? 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A New Title, Purpose, and More!

You have probably noticed the new name and look of my blog. And more than likely the font. It’s easier to read. You are welcome.
I suppose I should start explaining a few things and letting you in on the reason behind all of this change. I am happy to tell you. I couldn’t be more excited myself.

I’ll start with the title. A Rose Among Thorns.
I recently finished reading Leslie Ludy’s book, Authentic Beauty. This book is a hidden gold mine. I’m going to do a book review on it soon, but I encourage you to grab a copy of it and begin reading. It changed my life. And the author is a jewel, a rare jewel. You’ll discover that on your own though.
   In the book Leslie continually talks about how we are to be lily-white like Christ. That we are lilies among the thorns. We are supposed to be set apart for Christ. Our lives and heart should mirror His which makes us set apart. If we choose the higher way, His way, we will be a lily among thorns.
I love this concept. And when I finished reading the book I knew that I was going to change the name of my blog to better fit my life and purpose. My middle name is Rose thus where the Rose part comes in.
I am a Rose among thorns just as my Lord and Savior was the Rose of Sharon amidst a crown of thorns.
The new look. 
Let’s face it, that last background had nothing to do with roses. Even when the title was Stop and Smell the Roses, it was just butterflies and pretty flowers. I liked it, but it didn’t match. So I found this darling background and header on Vintage Made For You and went with it. I adore the new look. It’s not too crowded, it’s not gaudy or in your face. It’s delicate and sweet. I can’t do bold, in your face kind of stuff, I do cutesy, delicate things. I’m petite so that’s part of it.
For me, this new look almost signifies and accents the new purpose.

The new purpose for my blog is more than just encouraging you. As the Lord is working in my heart to be more set apart and bold for Him I want to encourage you to do the same. I want to help equip you young ladies, and perhaps older ladies, to be more Christ-like and set apart. We live in a sin saturated culture and it’s hard to fight the evil. Oftentimes, it’s more difficult to fight the low and compromising standards and wayward culture that we are stuck in. But the good news is, we don’t have to be stuck in this culture. We can change it. Us humans can’t change it on our own. We are incapable of doing so. We don’t have what it takes to complete this on our own. Now, before you get all upset and downhearted let me give you the wonderfully good news. Jesus Christ is the one Who can. He desires that we be dissatisfied with the way our world is so that we will change it. He wants to work through us. We have to be instruments in His hands and let Him play the melody.

I have a couple of announcements to make before I end this post. The first one being that I am getting ready to do a series of posts on true womanhood. Thought I’d give you a heads up on that one. I’m excited about writing those!
And the second one is that I have started a new writing blog and a little business to coincide with it. Check it out. I already have something posted! Write up my Alley

God bless you and be sure to check back for those posts on true womanhood. I’ll have them up soon. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Journey to Recovery

February 17, 2014 began the long, presumably four month journey of my recovery. I was still on the couch at this point, but I had gotten over my depressed and overwhelmed feeling.

Monday morning I felt highly motivated to start the regimen that I had been given. We didn’t have everything that I needed; mom still had to order quite a bit of it, but what we did have, I began to hit it hard. I had a new amount of energy to get better. Now that I knew what I was fighting I had a more focused and determined attitude.

I was up more on Monday and by that afternoon I was feeling faint. As usual, I had done too much too soon.
    If you know me, you know that I love giving my all. I like to see how much I can handle, and far too often, I push it beyond my limit and pay for it. I do it every time. I love it though.

I continued to get up more the next two days, but I finally conceded that even though I was taking supplements that would restore my health did not mean that I would magically be better in two days. That was a little disappointing for me to grasp in the beginning. You would think that I was used to living on the couch. In truth, I was! But after spending thirteen weeks on the couch I wanted up!

Patience. Patience is a valuable lesson that the Lord is teaching me over and over again in each and every area of my life. And patience I would need in order to endure this.
Fourteen weeks on the couch rolled by and I was getting ready to enter the fifteenth week. Almost four months on the couch.

The change came slowly, in subtle ways. For the first time in a couple of months I was able to sleep lying down. Due to the fact that I hadn’t been getting enough oxygen to my blood cells I had trouble getting enough air. When I tried to lay down I would feel a compressed feeling on my chest. As if I was being suffocated. It was scary and every time I accidentally threw myself into a panic attack. So I slept sitting up for almost four months straight. But then suddenly, that compressed feeing was gone, and I slept a whole lot better.

  Mom and dad went on a marriage retreat Wednesday through Friday, and circumstance would have it that I needed to watch the children and take charge of the house for a few hours. Of course, presumably from the couch. I could order the little minions around, ahem, my siblings and all would be well. But when I had to step up, something snapped. It was as if I had been given a recharged battery and inserted it in my adrenaline glands. I had a new found energy. Totally unexpected. I walked upstairs twice that evening for the first time in four months. The past couple of times I had been on the back of one of my older sisters. I didn’t feel winded. Not at all. I didn’t tell anyone because I was expecting a serious crash. I thought, ‘I am more than likely going to pay for this, but whatever.’
That night my heart rate soared to 142. The highest it had been ever. With wintergreen essential oil on my temples, calm music in my ears, and held tightly in the arms of my older sister Stephanie I calmed down within a minute.
I didn’t make the connection then, but now I realized I had paid for it, but compared to all the other times I had paid the piper for my actions this didn’t seem as bad.
But I didn’t pass out. Friday rolled around and I was still up and at it. I hadn’t sat on the couch at all, and I had gone upstairs again. Friday evening I packed up all of my stuff that was in the living room, which over four months had accumulated to quite a bit, and took everything to my room. I slept in my own bed the first time in four months.

My journey to recovery is not over. I confess, there are many times where I haven’t taken all of my medicine or stayed on the diet that I was put on. I’ve paid for that. Even now, as I write this, I’m paying for the bad decisions I have made. But through it all, I’ve learned valuable lessons. I am still reaping the benefits of this illness. I would not trade them for anything. I would not have it reversed. I’m thankful I went through that because I have grown closer to the Lord.

One lesson I’ve learned is through the taking of my medicine. It has to be consistent if it is going to work. Just like spending time with the Lord is necessary in order for us to grow closer to Him. We can’t expect to give Him a few minutes here and there and think that we will be fine to just get by with that. He wants a consistent relationship, not just an every now and then.

Are you facing a difficult time in your life right now? How is the Lord growing you through these trials?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Power of God's Grace

I am currently sitting in a hospital room with my mother, Cheryl (Treasures From a Shoebox)

The whole family was at one of mom's relative's house on Saturday, helping them take down a couple of trees and clean up the brush. Dad had gone to pick up a few items from the store, and mom and a couple of us girls had walked up the street to visit another family member. While there, mom pulled me to the side and told me that she was only seeing pieces of things. She called it pixelating.

Four years ago, my mom had a TIA (mini stroke) and she did the exact same thing. I knew, and so did the other older girls what her symptoms had been.

I kept calm, and looped my arm with hers while we were there.
On the way back to the first house mom told me that she was beginning to see wavy lines. I kept my arm in hers until we got her inside the house and into a chair.

It was downhill from there.

Most of the kids were still outside helping with brush cleanup and playing while we waited for dad to return. She started to feel tired and cold. I had two essential oils with me, wintergreen and lavender. I did the only thing I knew to do, rub them on her temples. She complained of a headache.
At this point, my older sister Emily and I weren't sure what exactly was going on.
I called a family friend and asked her for advice. We were on the phone for about forty-five minutes discussing whether or not it could be a lack of protein or if it was really a stroke.
While on the phone, I kept going into the room where mom was at in a chair, and checked on her, letting the lady on the phone know what was going on.

About this time, dad was home and not really apprised of the situation because he had been outside the entire time. We decided it was best if he came in and assessed the situation and determine what he thought was the wisest course of action.

He came in and after looking at her and talking with her he said that we were taking her to the hospital.
My mom is very stubborn. And people who are having a stroke tend to be even more stubborn. She fought us tooth and nail all the way to the hospital.

We had all of the kids with us, so, in our work clothes and all, we took mom to the ER.
She was still slurring her speech, had a headache, was extremely confused, and the right side of her face was numb.
They admitted her and took a couple of tests.

I am normally the one who is in the bed getting all of the blood work done and stuff; not the one in the chair explaining to the doctor and the nurses what was going on. I was sent back because I had been there from the very beginning.

After all of the tests for a stroke came back negative, they were going to release her. They had started the releasing process when a neurologist stepped in and said that based on her past record they needed to keep her and run some more tests on her to determine what the cause was.

Mom had been given pain medicine, but it did not take the headache away and the right side of her face was still numb and felt weird.

Dad, Emily, and I went home for the night and came back this morning.
She will be having an MRI and a test on her carotid artery tomorrow.

Normally, in situations like this, I'm panicking, worried sick to my stomach, can't eat, and full of anxiety. I can handle health problems happening to me, but when it comes to other people that I love, no, I can't do it.
But I don't have any of that this time. I'm calm. I have never been this calm through a crisis in my life.

There is one explanation for this; the grace of God. I know that the Lord is with us. There is not a doubt in my mind that He is with us even now. There are so many people lifting us up in prayer that I can almost feel Him holding us in His hands. It's totally surreal. Totally and completely. The peace and grace the Lord is pouring out on this whole situation is overwhelming.
The Lord is trustworthy. He truly is. I have not a doubt in my mind that the Lord is in control of this entire situation.

The power of God's grace is more than enough to calm a normally quaking heart;
He can do the same for you. Just trust in Him.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Off the Couch!

I have allowed an outrageous amount of time to pass without posting anything. Some of you may be thinking that I am still sick and living on the couch. I am here to break the rumor and present you with the truth of things.

I am off the couch.

I lived a total of fifteen weeks on the couch, but I didn’t live them alone. The Lord was with me every minute of the day. He was by my side the entire time. His grace was poured out on me in a generous manner every single day.

For thirteen weeks I had no idea what was going on. I struggled with fears of dying, and what it could be. It is so much easier to face a known enemy than to charge straight ahead at an unseen object. You have no goal and you feel very lost. That’s how I felt. That is, until I finally realized that the Lord wasn’t going to let me die. No. I sought His will on the whole matter and He gave me the answer. But nasty ole satan had to have his way and torment me asking the question, “What if this is the Lord’s will? What if you are going to die and there is nothing that you can do about it?”
I wanted to run from it all. I didn’t want to be in this situation. I wanted it to be all over with. I wanted to sleep during the whole thing and wake up when it was gone.
Then the light bulb clicked on and the Lord opened my eyes. I wasn’t going to die; I had no peace and no grace because it wasn’t time yet. The Lord had not prepared me for the situation because it wasn’t here yet. He had given me the desire and the will to fight for a reason. Not so that I could buck His plans, but so that I could follow Him with a trusting heart.
I will admit that I did continue to struggle and doubt what the Lord had revealed to me, but He was faithful and true to his word.

Friday, February 14 I had some extensive blood testing done. I was nervous and anxious about it. What did I really have? Would we get the answers? Was it terminal? Was it something I would have to live with the rest of my life? Was it truly Lyme’s disease?

We didn’t get the full list of results until two days later on Sunday. I confess, I was overwhelmed at the magnitude of it all. I was shocked and depressed for a bit.
Here is what was/is wrong with me.

My kidneys and liver weren’t working properly.
I had inflammation and circulation issues.
Adrenal stress.
Hormonal imbalance.
Hidden heavy metals in my body
A hidden virus in my lymphatic system
Multiple bacteria that was invading the immune system.
My immune system was shot to pieces. I had yeast issues and the beginnings of Leaky Gut Syndrome.
And the grand finale, Mycoplasma.
Mycoplasma is a little germ that gets inside of the blood cells and wreaks havoc in your system. It totally depletes you of energy and drains you.

It felt huge, and every time the guy would tell me what he found I would hold my breath and wait for it to be something huge and horrible. Every one of these things is horrible, but none of them are terminal. Praise the Lord! The Lord kept His promise.

I am now on a four month plan to eradicate all of my issues. But that’s another blog post for another day.

God bless,

Here are the previous blog posts if you haven't been following my journey:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Where My Life Is Part 4

No, this is NOT what I do all day

I have a weird knack for confounding the medical community. My grandfather teases me about having these strange health issues that no one has ever heard of. I told him it was all part of my enigmatic personality.

  Two months has passed since I claimed the title Couch Potato, or as my mother affectionately calls me, (cue sarcasm) Sofa Spud. Yes, two months has truly passed. And I still remain an enigma to the medical community. No, I don't count that as an achievement....OK, maybe I do, but just a little bit.
All of my tests that I mentioned in my last post, in this series, went well. Everything looked fine, except the irregular behavior of my heart. The cardiologist determined that it wasn't my heart that was the issue, but rather, something causing my heart to react. Thus we don't have any definitive answers. Am however going to get more blood testing done.

 I am still on the couch, but I'm content there. Truly and honestly. I have taken Paul's advice and become content in whatsoever state I am in. Good lesson to learn. Hard lesson to learn though. Don't get me wrong, I would love nothing more than to get back into my normal life, but the Lord has me on the couch for a reason.
I have come to realize just how similar this whole situation is to Peter walking on the water, as well as when Jesus calmed the storm. Whenever I take my focus off of God and look at my life and this situation I start to panic. The doubts, fears, and worry all swirl about me. Like crashing waves threatening to take the boat under. When I think, how long am I gonna live on the couch? That...just....scares me. But if I think of it as, how long will the Lord have me here...well that is putting my focus back on the Lord. And I can walk on the water again without being afraid. As long as I don't think of it as ME having to go through all this, but instead the LORD taking me through this then I can hold His hand and trust Him completely.

God bless!
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Friday, January 3, 2014

One Year Ago Today...

Repost: God Spared My Life!

I should be dead.

Or at the very least in the hospital right now along with my older sister Steph. But I have a miraculous story to tell. One that bears Spiritual Warfare at the very heart of it.

Yesterday, Steph and I went to Panera Bread for dinner with some friends. I had changed my mind at the very last moment to actually go. I had planned to stay home, but decided against it when I realized I needed to pick up some things from the store before Friday.

We weren't planning to stay at Panera Bread past seven-thirty. We had music to practice for our parent's 25th vow renewal ceremony/celebration on Saturday. But we stayed later and then at the last minute decided to take one of my best friends, Rachelle, home after we had hit T.J. Maxx (another last minute decision) the library, and Walmart.

These details may seem trivial, but it all played a part in the story. In order for Rachelle to ride in Steph's car we had to put three heavy-duty card tables, for the party, in the trunk. It was tricky fitting them in there, but we managed to get them in the trunk.

We spent more time in T.J. Maxx and Walmart than all of us had anticipated. I couldn't find the particular gift card at the 'old' Walmart in Columbus that I needed. Frustrated, I told Steph and Rachelle that I'd just get it at the newer Walmart out by the highway.

We dropped Rachelle off at her house and then headed to the newer Walmart. We met up with Mom there and almost took Samuel  home with us. Once again, it took me a while to find the gift card, but I finally found it and we left for home.

During the drive, I worked on Christmas gifts while Stephanie practiced her speech for Mom and Dad's party. We had found it interesting that every time she came to the part of sharing the gospel she always blanked out. This continued all the way to Columbus and back. She told me, "Haley, Satan does not want me to share this."

The road from Columbus to our house is a dangerous one in the winter. Especially on a particular stretch known as Beck's Grove. We had come through there before just fine. Yes, there were patches of ice, but we had made it safely the first time.

While we were on this road Steph was practicing her speech once again. She was at the part of sharing the gospel when all of a sudden we began fish-tailing. Now Stephanie is a safe driver. I feel safe whenever I am with her.

But whenever the car started twisting, it seemed to go berserk. Steph said, "Don't worry, Haley, I got this," remembering Dad's instruction.

No matter what she did it was worthless. The car was headed for the left side of the road where a deep, wooded ravine seemed to be our destined doom. All of a sudden the car was turned around and the next thing I see is a white embankment and a tree coming at us. Stephanie shut her eyes through the whole thing, but I kept them open the entire time.

I remember screaming and hearing Stephanie scream. We slammed into the embankment and I thought that would be the end of it. I remember thinking, "God, I'm going to die today." But next thing I am being flipped upside down. I hear a loud crunch and screaming. I remember hitting the door, but I didn't feel it. While flipping, both of us felt like someone was holding us in a tight, comfortable embrace. We had our seat-belts on, but it was a stronger grip. Even when we were rolling we felt as though we were swaddled with soft pillows or something. There were angels holding both of us, I am sure of it.

All of a sudden I was suspended in midair by my seat-belt. I suddenly realized that I was repeating, "Oh my God" over and over again. I couldn't figure out where my seat had gone. My door looked odd and I couldn't figure out how to get out. All I could think of, was my sister dead?

I unbuckled my seat-belt somehow and softly landed on the 'floor'. I later figured out that it was the cracked windshield that I was sitting on. The first thing that Stephanie thought when we stopped was, "Shut the car off." Then she thought of me. She thought she had killed me or impaired me and I was in a bloody mess. The first thing I said was, "Are we still alive?" She assured me we were very much alive. We were both turned around mentally. I grabbed her arms and she grabbed mine. I said, "Steph, we need to pray!"
She started praying and I interjected, "Thank you God for saving us!" She stopped me and said, "Right now is not the time to pray. We can pray later. We need to get out of the car." I collected all the necessary belongings and placed them in a Walmart bag. That is, after I found my shoes.

We crawled out and heard a man's voice asking if we are all right. Steph answered "I think so. I don't feel hurt, but I need to call my dad."

I looked at the flipped car and thought, "There is no way we just made it out of there alive. No way."
The man's phone didn't get signal in the spot where we were. He told us we needed to call the police.
A county water utility truck stopped and the couple both had cell phones. The man used his to call the police and the woman let Stephanie use hers to call dad.

The couple from the water utility backed up and sat farther down the road with their flashers on. Dad would be at the crash site in roughly thirty minutes. The man who had first stopped told us, "Why don't you come and sit in my car where it's warm?"

We numbly got in. It was a good thing we did because I was starting to slip into shock.

Aaron was the man who let us sit in his car and he told us some of his crashing experiences. He didn't even live in the area. The only reason he had been down here was to get his birth certificate for a job in another city where he lives. We told him that God had orchestrated the timing perfectly.

The first volunteer policeman got there and we got out. He asked skeptically if we were the ones who had been in the car wreck and if we were hurt. Steph told him, "I don't think so. I don't feel hurt. I'm just shook up."

The policeman shined a flashlight in her eyes and asked, "Are you sure?" She reassured him.

Dad showed up along with more policemen. We went through the whole process of registering the car and all that. Nobody could believe that we were the two who had been in the car wreck.

Those tables I mentioned that we had put in the trunk? I shudder to think what could have happened if they had been in the back seat!

Stephanie's huge glass water bottle had landed above her head and all that had happened to it was the lid came off and the water spilled out. I later reached into my coat pocket and pulled out a Starbucks Mocha glass jar. It was not scratched or cracked. I could hardly believe it.

Mom arrived and charged up to us crying. We put our arms around her and reassured her that we were okay.

We were all heartily astonished when after the wrecker had turned the car over, the car started. Then Dad drove the car all the way home! Stephanie fell apart at that point. She could not believe it. I put my arms around her. I felt like giggling. I didn't feel like crying at that moment. I wanted to laugh exultantly because my God had conquered the demons who wanted us dead. I told Stephanie that I was going to mention what had happened before she gave her speech on Saturday. There is no way I can't. We all agree that what had happened to us was a direct attack from Satan, but God had intervened and had an army of angels all around us.

Fuzzy picture taken from Mom's cell phone camera

We are both sore and I found out I had a minor concussion and a cut on my foot, but other than that and being traumatized I am extremely glad that I am alive. I honestly thought that my life was going to end last night. God spared my life. I cannot tell you how grateful and humbled I am to know that the Lord has a specific purpose for me. I have come to the realization through this whole situation that God has me in the palm of His hands. Life is precious. Value it. Don't squander away your days. Enjoy them. Live them to the fullest. Fill them with things that have an everlasting purpose.

Note: To read Mom's account, read the post The Car Wreck on her blog.