Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Where God has My Life

This picture of a sunrise perfectly illustrates where God has my life; emerging from the sea of illness and bursting through the clouds of uncertainty, ready for a new day. 

The post series began over a year ago with the original title being: Where My Life Is.
I have since changed the title because the Lord is graciously showing me over and over again that my life is not mine at all. It’s a constant process of dying to my self again and again. Since practicing this much needed act of dying daily the Lord is opening my eyes to how selfish I am. (Not something I like to readily admit.)

Nevertheless He is guiding me through each day. That’s one (of many) nuggets of truth He is teaching me; to focus on the day ahead, not the next day, week, or even month. Sure I can prepare for the days ahead, but I don’t need to worry about them. The Lord has all that under control and I need not worry. Whatever happens in a day is allowed by Him.

In recent weeks the Lord has been steadily restoring my energy. 
It started with Him healing my voice back in December. From there it turned into a snowball effect of building my body back up. I continue to sing; turns out that the Lord completely healed my voice. 
I am now able to attend church weekly, instead of once a month!

I get up early!! (Insert squeal of excitement here) 
In the past year I've barely been able to manage to get up before seven a.m. I required lots of sleep, especially when I was dealing with Insomnia issues. Before the Lyme I was an early bird and greatly missed being one.

That’s all been eradicated, and I am now able to pop out of bed at five o’clock, when my alarm clock beeps like a monotone bird. And there is no exaggeration on the popping out of bed. Yes, there are a few days when I get up, set the alarm to go off in maybe fifteen more minutes, or even an hour, but almost always I bounce out of bed. It’s exhilarating to have the energy to start my day so early. This is a delight as I am able to literally spend hours immersed in God’s word and presence.

Just this week, well more like yesterday, I resumed exercising. 
Walking in the elements is a favorite activity of mine. I go after I’m finished with my Bible time; the crisp winter morning air heightens my senses and oftentimes keeps my head cleared. Not to mention the fact that I get to see the sun rise! While I’m walking I discuss with God the insights I've learned that morning, or different things I’m struggling with.

 Today I was able to do my assigned house chores. 
This may seem like no big deal, but I haven’t been able to do chores, or even clean, make dinner, or do dishes, for almost a year straight. It wore me out so quickly; very frustrating, yes, but patience won out. It was hilarious to see the shocked expressions on my family’s faces as they saw me sweeping the living room.

In two weeks I will be teaching piano once again! 
This has all of my amazingly patient piano students all excited. I’m not sure who is excited more, me or them. I pray I’ll be able to teach them longer then just months at a time. We’ll see what the Lord has in store for all of us.

This is basically where the Lord has my life! I look back to where I was a year ago and am stricken with awe at the vast difference. Our God is great! Beyond that, He is marvelous and amazing!

If you are discouraged, depressed, or frightened concerning the circumstances in your life, take heart, the Lord has you there for a reason. Whatever that reason(s) may be, you might not ever know until you reach heaven, but as Romans 8:28 says, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

Everything works together for good, including the bad things. There is a season for everything; this too shall pass.
 Please don’t give up, rely on the Lord for grace and strength to carry you through the day, and if it happens, through the hour. God will supply all your needs. 
All you need to do is ask.

Here are the previous posts following my journey through Lyme disease:

Friday, January 9, 2015

A Car Wreck to Remember: Revisited on the Two Year Anniversary Part 2

If you missed it, here is Part One.

To pick up where we left off on Wednesday...

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.

Inside the flipped car.

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.

A miracle took place that night. One that gives me chills every time I think about it. I still have nightmares and haven't quite gotten over my fear of icy roads, and that corner, especially, but I'm alive. The Lord protected and spared us that night.

Looking back on that night I am filled with awe at the realization that the Lord protected Steph and I for a reason. There is a purpose to my life; the car wreck erased any doubt I might have had about that. Now it overflows my heart with a drive to do whatever I can to spread the glory of God, to spread His amazing love to those around me and the people I meet, even if briefly.

I know deep in the recesses of my heart and soul that the Lord kept me alive for reasons, that I may not know until I reach Heaven. It's enough for me to know I have a purpose.

What miracles has the Lord worked in your life? Do you have a drive to live for the Lord?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Car Wreck to Remember: Revisited on the Two Year Anniversary Part 1

It happened two years ago.

The memory of that awful night will never leave me. Though the chilling realization that we almost died is ever present, the power of God is more powerful.

I never tire of recounting this amazing story. It doesn't matter  how many times I tell it, the awesomeness of it all never fades. God's hand made a definite showing that night.

Since it is the two year anniversary of mine and Steph's car wreck I thought it befitting to bring back my original post, but with more thoughts added to it; thus it is divided into two parts.

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?

Look for part two on Friday!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Releasing the Songbird: How the Lord Restored My Voice in an Unexpected Fashion

“Emily won’t be singing at the Right to Life gala tonight. There is no way.”

 With only two hours before the girls were supposed to leave, my declaration of Emily’s decommissioned state of health catapulted Stephanie into a series of frustrated and panicked exclamations.

Emily is one of our lead singers. Not only does she play violin she sings the third part harmony, finding intricate melodies that add a beautiful touch to our songs; an amazing asset to our group.

My two younger sisters, MacKenzie and Corrie have had to step up and fill in while I have been out of commission. They sing beautifully. It's amazing to hear the four of them combining their voices. 

Although I am recovering well, I have not been able to sing. The way a singer breathes changes the pH levels in the body. If you aren't used to it then you would pass out. Unfortunately I am still in the stage where my body isn't used to it. I merely try to breathe the proper way and faint. No joke.

December has been a busy month for the Long Family Singers. With a recording session at a nearby radio station, and four more gigs lined up there wasn't really any room for someone to get sick.

God had other plans.

Saturday, the sixth of December, we had a five hour gig at a coffee shop. As a lover of coffee I was determined to not miss this one. Even though I couldn't sing I could still play the piano. 
We were getting paid in coffee, how much more of a slice of heaven can you give a coffee addict such as myself?

Even though I had been practicing my Christmas music until midnight the night before, I was pumped up and ready to go. Always a good sign. 

To everyone’s astonishment and surprise I made it through the entire gig.
 Emily however didn't. She started having a panic attack on the way home. She felt incredibly weak and tired; so unlike herself.

Things weren't looking good.

We figured with two days of rest before the Right to Life Gala on Tuesday she should be good to go. Not the case however.
This next gig was important. We were performing in a wealthy club in one of the ritziest cities in our state. An opportunity we had never been presented with before. The expectations were raised higher than ever before. 

Monday night, Emily wasn't showing signs of improving; Stephanie was still hoping. All of us were. 

As I prepared to sleep that night an astonishing thought (one might even consider it absurd) skittered across my heart.

What if I sing tomorrow? Nah, that’s not possible, Lord, really, it isn't, well, not unless You perform a miracle. In which case I will be prepared to do whatever You want.

With that I fell asleep not giving it another thought.

The next morning while Emily was finishing up sewing her caroling skirt she commented to me that she wasn't feeling any better. Remembering my thought from the night before, I tried singing a few snatches of notes under my breath. Useless, why did I even bother? I felt sick, as I usually do, and quit.

Well Lord, I’m not going then.

Two hours before they were scheduled to leave Emily experienced an episode, quite similar to the ones I have/had. I knew what to expect and combated the symptoms, calming her down and cocooning her in a number of blankets.
Stephanie came up the stairs and I released the crushing truth (OK, maybe it wasn't that dramatic, but it was to her) Emily would not be singing, or going anywhere for that matter.

After Stephanie had a little rant I tried calming her down by saying,
“What if I go?”

“Haley, you can’t sing.” The look on her face was pure desperation and despair.

“Look, I have a history with the Lord healing my voice. Remember that one fourth of July I lost my voice and He healed it?”

“This is too risky! I am not a risk taker. I am not comfortable with you going. There’s no guarantee that you’ll even make it just practicing.”

Realizing that I wouldn't be making any headway with her I grabbed up my bottles of essential oils and tromped down the stairs. Deep down in my heart I knew this was something the Lord wanted me to do. He wanted me to sing.
I needed to pray and in private. (there were a couple of friends over at the time) I disappeared into the boys’ back bedroom and sank to my knees.

“God, we need a solution to this problem. You know our situation and we need another singer. Either heal Emily right now or give me my voice. You know I can’t sing, it’s too much for me to handle, but if this is something You want me to do please infuse me with Your strength and energy. Whatever happens tonight Lord, let it be for Your glory, and Your glory alone.”

My prayer was much lengthier; I was practically banging on the gates of heaven. As I prayed I felt this change happen in my body. It was as though this burning yet ice cold something was flowing through my veins. No kidding. I continued praying and begging the Lord to show us the answer.


I blinked, unsure if that’s really what the Lord wanted me to do. You can understand my hesitancy because up until this point I hadn't been able to sing without passing out.


The command was repeated in my mind. With the trickle of a smile tugging at my lips (yes, I was curious and excited to see what would happen) I stood up and began singing under my breath. I stopped singing after a few lines of Hark the Herald Angels Sing. I felt fine. Actually I felt rejuvenated. Well…keep going? So I opened my throat, lowered my jaw and sang with my full potential. I sang four Christmas songs in a row and felt great. I didn't even feel winded.

My face nearly burst with the strength of the smile, more like a grin, that refused to be wiped from my face. I let out a few ecstatic squeals and did a bouncy-like happy dance; wiggling with delight.

Thank You Lord!!!

I rushed out and found Stephanie telling her what had just happened. She gave me this tentative smile, not sure how to react. I could see the hope creeping in at the edges of her eyes.

“Steph, this is what the Lord wants me to do. I couldn't sing this morning, hours ago! I just prayed and I sang four songs all the way through. I feel great!”

She laughed and hugged me tight. After giving mom a brief rundown on what had occurred she says,

 “Well, go get ready.”

We were about twenty-thirty minutes down the road when I realized I had not taken my afternoon dose of supplements. One of them being a large dose of CoQ10 (I refer to them as my energy pills). Never mind that fact, I hadn't even brought along any of my medicines. No essential oils to prevent an episode, nothing. I didn't tell anyone because I wanted to limit the amount of spiking nerves as I possibly could.

Well Lord, I have no medicine. There is no room for me passing out or getting sick. Let’s defy the odds.

The evening was a smashing success. People were blessed, the Lord was glorified, and I survived; scratch that, I flourished. I felt like my old self, before all of the Lyme disease and such.
Every time I thought about what the Lord had done (we had a two hour drive home) I couldn't keep the smile from erupting across my face. The Lord had restored my voice to me.

Here are a couple of pictures taken that night.

Our fabulous caroling costumes which Emily concocted. You wouldn't believe it, but some of those capes are converted skirts. Ingenious, no?

Not a half bad looking bunch are we?

The next question I had was how long? I asked mom what she thought. She said, “It’s probably just temporary.”
Not what I wanted to hear, but maybe she was right. 

That night as I, once again prepared to sleep, I thanked the Lord profusely for letting me sing. It felt wonderful to be singing for Him again. Then I asked Him if He could make it permanent. Defy the odds and heal me completely. I surrendered it all to Him, it’s up to Him.

Thank You Lord for taking my faith to the next level.

I felt tired and sore for the next couple of days, but I can still sing. I can sing without feeling sick. He did restore my voice. Completely. Permanently. I feel like a restraint has been removed from my vocal chords. Not that I couldn't speak or anything. Singing is different. I love singing. When I sing it’s for the Lord. I worship Him with my voice.

Miracles still happen. I am one lifelong proof of that. (Though short as it has been thus far)

So whatever difficult situation you happen to find yourself in I encourage you to take it to the Lord. He may not always say yes or give what you ask, but He knows what’s best.

You can trust Him.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Content in Whatever State I'm In?!

“For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11b

Content in whatsoever state I am in? Seriously? Paul, did you never stop to think that in a couple thousand years people would be living in circumstances that called for discontentment?

Sure he did. The circumstances those first century Christians lived under were terrible.

But isn’t that the point? God knows our situations. He knows our hearts and what’s ahead. He asks that we not complain, but be content; no matter how hard it is.

As I write this I’m once again couch ridden. (Second time this year)  I have Lyme disease, as I’ve mentioned before. My health issues have risen to such a climax I’m forced to put myself on ‘house arrest’. Ha. Ha.

I haven’t been to church in four months. Yes, you read that correctly: four months. I can’t tell you how much I miss my church family. I want to go fellowship with them, worship the Lord in one accord, but I’m physically not capable.

I had to stop teaching piano; that was a no-brainer. I can’t get upstairs to my room, don’t have the strength. My energy fluctuates, right now it is on the down. I can’t sing either. The last time I sang a song I passed out. That’s how bad it is.

I could continue giving you details of my current situation. The reactions I have gotten are responses full of pity, sympathy, sorrow, and pain filled eyes for me. I’m grateful for that, but I stopped bemoaning my situation a year ago. The Lord showed me, and helped me apply that verse to my life! It was a very vital lesson.

Yes, I would love nothing more than for all of this to go away. I so badly want to resume my normal life. I want to be my bubbly, energetic, vivacious self.  With the lack of energy it’s hard to be that way. Not to mention I’m in pain all the time; that doesn’t always help.

I’m content with my current state. I know this is where the Lord wants me. I have no doubt about that. He knew what was ahead and He prepared me for it the last time I was on the couch. That was only a practice run, so to speak.

Sure, having insomnia is not fun, but I am learning to make the most of it. I write better at night anyway, so why not use it to the fullest?
The Lord is teaching me to take the worst of situations and find the best in them and use it for His glory. Amazing things happen. That’s what I’m here for, to serve and glorify the Lord. He allowed this illness to happen, I’m not going to blame and curse Him. No! Never! Instead, I am choosing to love and serve Him. Give Him the glory for what is happening. The Lord has done wonders in my life before this, He can do it again. I believe He will.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Debuting My New Business: Of Stitches and Things

The turn of the season has brought about a necessary change of wardrobe. With Autumn finally here, and Winter peeping at us from around the corner, warm, yet stylish outfits and accessories have replaced the Summer fashions. 
Chilly weather is quickly turning into freezing temperatures and the need to stay warm is here. The season of bundling up has arrived.  

My new business, Of Stitches and Things is comprised of beautifully crocheted scarves made from loopy French Mohair.
 I will be adding other accessories such as hats, designed for children as well, and possibly other items. 

Pop over to my business page and check it out! I will be creating new items frequently so be sure to visit often! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Life Was an Idol

I can’t die.

The Lord needs me.

I’m not finished here.

I have Lyme disease; I can very well die from it. These are lies I have comforted myself with to keep my fear abated.
I don’t want to die! I rather like living. Life is beautiful no matter how much pain I’m in. But that’s where I've erred. I've derailed my spiritual train. It crashed and was burning.

I made an idol out of my life. My physical life. Not how I’m living it, or what I’m doing with it (and not doing)  I have held onto it with such a tight grasp that I wouldn't even let the Lord touch it. If I had it in my hands and I was in control of it then I felt secure. Nothing would happen to it without my permission.

I left my Lord. I stopped loving the Lord the way He commands (Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind. Matt. 22:37)
I loved my life more than the Life Giver.

My life had become an idol.

Throughout the entirety of my sickness (since last June) I knew the Lord wanted me to give Him my life. I managed to keep Him quiet in that matter by not listening. I opened up my heart to Him, except that one area.
That wasn't enough for Him. God desires to be Lord of everything, not just portions of our lives.

As time would have it, I distanced myself from the Lord. I didn't want to give Him my life. Didn't I have the right to keep anything? (the answer to that is no) I was afraid of what would happen, and in case you’re wondering, I wasn't exactly all that happy.

Half of my family stayed home from church this past Sunday. (due to my current state of health, I’m unable to attend church) We listened to a sermon on loving God.
Five minutes in and I’m convicted. Half-way through I knew what I needed to do. By the end of it I had resolved to return to my First Love.
Dad asked what I had gotten out of the sermon, and as I began telling them the tears started flowing. 

Tears of shame and repentance.

With the change of the season, the Lord brought a season of change to my heart. My life is not mine at all. The Lord died so that I could have life. I can show my love and give my life back to Him. 

I trust the Lord completely. Whatever happens, I am in His hands.

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind. Matthew 22:37

Is there an idol in your life? Have you left your First Love?