“How Deep The Father’s Love For Us”

I was talking to a friend not to long ago about my living with lupus, and the subsequent complications due to lupus. Growing up I had a plan for my life. I knew I was going to go to college one day. I planned to become an english teacher, and a part-time journalist.  I would get married  to a wonderful man, have 2 children, a girl named Lillian and a boy named Brandon,  travel the world and retire on some fabulous beachfront property where I would spend my days surrounded by all things that I love. None of my plans involved lupus, however the Lord had other plans for me.

I never planned to end up in Huntsville, Al. I am a Cali girl, from Riverside Ca, and I wanted to attend a state school. I knew that my family would not be able to pay for my education.  Oakwood College  ( now University) was an option, but not necessarily the highest on my list of possible college’s. Oakwood is a small  historically black Seventh Day Adventist school in Alabama. However, regardless of my plans, in the late summer of 1996 I was packed and ready to go to Huntsville.  I would have never imagined what the Lord would allow me to go through.  If I had known I would have run far away from Huntsville and Oakwood, and been unable to handle what the trials he would allow me to go through to save my life.

I grew up in the church. My mom became a Seventh Day Adventist when I was 3 or 4.  I can’t remember exactly when, but I remember her receiveng bible studies in our living room. I remember their was an evangelistic tent effort that happened to be right next door to our home, and I can still hear the sound of the preaching through our windows at night.  Once my mom joined the church, she became very active.  We practically lived at church! I knew right from wrong. I knew bible verses, and could sing all the favorite hymns. I was baptized in my tweens, and thought I knew who GOD was.  The thing is I knew who GOD was, but I didn’t really KNOW him.  I had heard what he had done in the bible, but I couldn’t say I could see what he had done in my everyday life, or those around me.  Even though I “knew” him, I never saw his hand on my life, and how his only plan was to save my life, so he could save my soul.

Fast forward to my senior year of high school. I could have stayed home, and attended a school in the city, but for some reason I was not aware of, I boarded that plan that August of 1996 to a place I wasn’t sure about, and really didn’t have plans to be.  I was traveling far from home, to a place that would become my new home; the place that would prepare me for his show of power in my life.  The “Oakwood Experience” isn’t anything that can really be put into words. It is more than the music or the history.  It is a community of believers that become like family.  It was here that I began to “know” who GOD was.  I craved to see him work in my life.  I have many testimonies of how he provided a way when there wasn’t any.  There were times I would get calls to show up for pictures for scholarship winners. I was too  afraid to ask to many questions in fear they would think they had the wrong person. One time I did ask another recipent and was told they all applied for their scholarships in the financial aid office. I knew I had not been to the financial aid office to apply for any type of scholarship! Actually out of all the scholarships I received I NEVER applied for them.  I wasn’t a super fantastic student. I surely wasn’t one they would hand out scholarships to without me applying first. Many times I would be told that I needed to go home because I didn’t have money to clear.  I knew that was not an option. I didn’t have any money to get home, so I had no choice but to stay and pray the Lord made a way. Sometimes I only ate once a day because that is all I had unless a friend would smuggle food out of the cafe for me.  One day I was in desperate need of money to buy books.  I had gone a long time without buying books. I did all I could by writing excellent notes, and borrowing from my friends.  It worked out because we were pretty much taking the same classes.  The problem came when I started taking classes for my major. Most of my friends were biology majors not English or education majors.  I  remember one time I was $40 dollars short of what I needed for a book. I was walking to my bible class. Usually at this time I was never alone.  There were always other students either going to, or coming from class.  This day I didn’t even notice I was alone. I saw something out of the corner of my eye blow across my feet.  I looked down to see 2 crisp $20 bills. You would think all of these miraclous miracles would be enough for me, but it wasn’t.

I started dating my husband in 1998. I had been in a year long relationship, and wasn’t really looking to be in another relationship.  I decided that I would spend that time getting to know the Lord better and focus on my school work.  I REALLY wasn’t checking for him!! He of  course has his version of the story that of course is a half truth, just in case it ever happens to come up in your conversation with him.  Really I wasn’t, but the Lord knew who I needed and when I would need it.  We dated for a while, and soon he became enthralled with my beauty and intellegence and couldn’t help himself. He proposed and I said yes!  The spring of 2000 I was taking 17 hours, working 2 jobs and surviving on the bear minimum. I am a worrier. I have been this way my whole life. If their is a problem, I will drive myself crazy wondering  the how, when and why. I need to find some way to fix it.  I worry about not being able to fix it. I worry about what will happen if it is not. I need to take care of it or nobody else will.  I worry about things that are clearly beyond my control. I hate to even depend on people because I feel I can do it all myself. It was no difference doing all I was doing, and trying to plan a wedding on a limited budget  for the date of August 13, 2000. I was doing a lot at the time. I even started working out.  I thought this was the reason I was so sore. I thought I was just really out of shape.  This went on for a couple of weeks until I came down with what I thought was the flu right before finals; the worst possible time.

I was in the hospital for almost 2 weeks before they finally diagnosed me with lupus. Up to this point I had never expirenced  any health issues this serious.  Here I was, flat on my back with no way of fixing anything; my health, school work, keeping my job, let alone planning a wedding.  Even though so many times GOD had made a way for me I still had to have my own back up plan just in case he decided he didn’t want to bless me. Though I had grown so much in my spiritual walk, I hadn’t totally surrendred to him, and still didn’t tottally trust him with my life.  It is crazy to look back now and not clearly see how many times the Lord had his hand on my life. I never noticed how GOD had snatched me from the web the devil thought he had me in. I mean he had set up things so perfectly to take me out even back then. I could be a drug addicted prostitute, locked up in jail, and could have died in my sin never knowing that GOD loved me so much!! The enime had fixed the deck to give me just the right amount of sadness, and to put the right people in my path  he thought he needed to excecute his plan. He even introduced me to a pimp and had him come over to my home, and made sure I was in his for a whole summer, yet he never propositioned me, or noticed the sadness in my eyes. Later I found out he had got a hold of one of the neighborhood girls who was also my friend.   We were both 10 at the time.  He probably was  betting that I would just give up, or blame GOD for my lupus diagnosis. He probably thought he had finally won, however, GOD used lupus to save my life!

Lupus is a debilitating disease. It slowly steals away everything you thought to be true. It steals your confidence, your independence, and everything you thought you had in a matter of weeks. I began to physically change.  I didn’t know who I was looking at in the mirror. My body would not listen to what I wanted it to do. Then I find out that lupus flares are related to stress.  This means, if  I worry to much, or try and do to much on my own I am in danger of having a lupus flare. Did you hear me? Me, the worrier , who always had a back up plan, who always was trying to find my own way out of situations and do things all on my own was now diagnosed with a chronic disease that has NO cure !! If I resorted to my comfort zone of doing what I needed to do and making my own plans regardless of what the Lord had in mind, was now in a situation where I had no choice but turn it ALL over to him. I had to trust him!!  I needed to learn that because he was planning to take me through some steep dark valleys, and if I didn’t learn to trust him tottally, I would have never made it out. I wouldn’t know he was a healer and a deliverer. I also wouldn’t know he had a way when I had none. I didn’t know that he would allow me to be his miracle. I also believe that if I had not been diagnosed so many years ago, in the spiritual state I was in, I wouldn’t have been ready for what he planned to do in my  life. Yes, lupus has taken so much from my life, and caused me so much pain, but I couldn’t say that if it did not happen I would have surrendered to him.  He had to strip me of all I knew. It wasn’t until then I was able to see clearly how he had his hand in every aspect of my life, holding back the devils snare. I could clearly see the times  he stepped in to let it not be. Yes, I continue to carry this burden for the past 14 years, but it does not equal what he sacraficed for me. I know he has always loved me, and even when I spit in his face, he doesn’t give up on me.  He did what he had to do to speak to me. He did what he had to do to save me.  I am now attentive, and forever grateful.

Brandi 🙂

 

 

 

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Email: thebutterflystitcher@gmail.com

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” Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes”

I am 33 years old and to this date I have yet to have “the talk” with my mother despite the fact I have been married for 11 years with two kids.  I don’t know if it slipped her mind or she just hasn’t got around to doing it but for what ever reason I am still waiting.  ( Like I am still waiting on my purple biker shorts from the 5th grade that I paid for the material and pattern because she said she could make them, rather than just buying them like I should have done.)  I relied on the sex education class for all 5th and 7th graders, and my friends to learn the ins and outs, no pun intended, of sex and the changes that began to happen to my body.  For what ever reason we were so excited to grow up and to begin to see the manifestations of it in our bodies.

Well the time has come for me to prepare my children for the changes in their bodies. I have two boys ages 9 and 11 (12 in a month).  We had “the talk” with them about a year or so ago.  It took much coaching from me to get my husband to sit them down and explain it all.  He was so not ready, but it was time and I didn’t want them to find out in the streets like I did; especially since they are boys.  I wanted them to get the correct information, not the information Ray Ray or June Bug would tell them they saw through the key hole of their uncles bedroom door.  Ever since they were babies I have always used the correct terminology of the male and female anatomy. There were no wee wee’s or pee pee’s around here.  They knew that they had a penis, and girls had vagina’s, even though they had no idea what a vagina was.  It took many  many corrections and conversations of  “mommy doesn’t have a vagina penis” .   So my husband sat them down while I listened from the back room.  He did a good job, very quick and to the point.  I thought it best for him to talk to them rather than me.  It can already be a very embarrassing conversation.  I came out when he was done to see  if they had any questions they wanted to ask us.  It didn’t quite click to our oldest right away. when he finally understood he looked at my husband with absolute disgust and said ” Daddy, you did that to mommy!!!”  We could barely contain ourselves!!  When you think about  it you grow up with just you and your genitals, then all of a sudden your parents tell you what you will someday do with them…what they do with them. Lol!! It’s sometimes hard for us adults to even think about our parents having sex even though we (hopefully) do it all the time.

Now  my son’s are at the age where they are in the beginning stages of puberty.  Their pits are zesty to say the least, and my oldest is checking everyday to see if his adam’s apple is visible to anyone other than him.  The hormones are kicking in and so is the attitude. (Lord help me to hold out.)   Their bodies are starting to change, and girls are becoming noticeable. Before long I will have two more men living in this house…Whew, I belive it is time for a refresher course!!!

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“What GOD Has Joined…”

I really love my husband! Like the song of my favorite country singer Garth Brooks, “thank God for unanswered prayers!”If I had made the decision of who  I believed I would spend the rest of my life with I would have been divorced twice already. When Cornell came around we told each other that we would  take our relationship slowly so that we could get to know each other. We dated 2 years before we were married.  In the middle of this time I was diagnosed with Lupus.  Many people probably questioned his decision to “marry that sick girl”, but he did it anyway.  I thank GOD for his decision.  He is not only the head of our home and the father of my children, but he is my best friend.  He has been there to experience the absolute lows of my bouts with lupus as well as the joys.  We have been married for 10 years (11 in December).  I can’t believe that many years have passed. Even though we have experienced so much in our little 10 years it seems the years have passed by so fast.  I couldn’t imagine going through life with anyone else.  I absolutely thank GOD for knowing what was best for me.

I say all of this to say I become very disturbed with how lackadaisical people treat marriage.  It has become just something done after a significant amount of time has passed.  I think about all the couples that got married around the time we did and many of them are no longer married. Some have already remarried.  Sometimes it becomes very uncomfortable to ask how is your wife or husband.  I am not saying divorce is wrong in certain situation such as infidelity or abuse.  It just seems like the attitude is, “well we are not getting along so we should get a divorce”.  My husband and I decided that when we got married divorce was NOT an option.  We allowed adequate time getting to know each other.  When we decided that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together we received marriage counseling to see if we were compatible more than just the fact that we loved each other.  I prayed for him daily. I asked the lord to reveal to me if he was the man I should marry.  I had very few happily married couples in my family and I didn’t want to make a mistake and become what I had been running away from; living in an unhappy marriage because he wasn’t the man GOD had for me.  I was worthy enough to be HAPPILY married to ONE man and to have our union blessed by GOD.

If you are in an unhappy relationship, let go and ask GOD to lead the way.  Don’t be afraid to seek counseling.  Find a couple who will give you godly advice and will keep your conversations private.  Reconnect with your spouse and try to remember what attracted you to them in the first place.  Set aside time for just you and your spouse where you don’t discuss the bills, work or the kids. Last but not least, ask GOD to repair what you have each broken as well as strengthen your relationship with him.

To those who are still single,  get to know  the lord and strengthen your relationship with him.  Work on preparing yourself to be a good wife or husband. I often hear women say that their aren’t any good men left.  Maybe GOD hasn’t sent one your way because if he did, you would chase him away.  You are not ready for him yet.  Pray and ask GOD to heal you from your baggage.  If you are in a relationship, ask GOD for guidance. Just being in love with each other is not enough.  Observe each other around their family’s.  If the time has come and you plan on getting married, get marriage counseling as soon as possible. I say do this even before you start planing the wedding, just in case you find out that this isn’t the right person for you, you won’t feel the pressure of having to get married because the wedding is already planned and th invitations have been mailed out. Let GOD be the head of your relationship and pray for each other often. He knows what is best for both of you!

Marriage is a gift given by GOD and should be treated as such. I believe  if we treated it that way before we stand up and take our vows there would be less divorces and unhappy marriages.  I am not saying marriage doesn’t take work, but with GOD and prayer it makes it easier to get through those rough patches.  Trust and believe he knows what is best for you!

Colossians
3:12-19

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one
another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on
love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members
of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ
dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and
as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to
God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the
Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Matthew 19:4-6

Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

1 Peter 4:8

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Proverbs 17:9

Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

Song of Solomon 8:6
Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.

1 Corinthians 13:4–8a
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails …

Ephesians 5:25
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

1 John 3:18
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

Song of Solomon 4:10
How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much more pleasing is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your perfume than any spice!

Song of Solomon 1:2
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— for your love is more delightful than wine

Song of Solomon 2:16
My lover is mine, and I am his.

Brandi  🙂

Restoration: A Testimony of an Ex-Porn Star

A friend put up a video on Facebook about the testimony of Danielle Williams who is an ex-porn star. (Thanks Sasha!!)    I decided to also share the video in my blog.  Her powerful testimony shows that we can never be to lost for GOD to restore us. Hope you are blessed by her testimony. Please share to minister to others.

There is also a more in-depth testimony that can be found here.

http://www.p4cm.com/p4cm/podcasts/Sermon/2010/02/03/ex-porn-star-testimony

(Romans 3:23) 23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

(Romans 6:23) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Hebrews 8:12) 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness. I will remember their sins and lawless deeds no more.”

(Acts 2:38) 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

(I John 1:7-10) 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we haven’t sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

“Let’s Get It On!” : How to Have a Great Sex Life With a Chronic Illness

hearts clipart love

Living with a chronic illness effects every part of your life.  You may be affected by daily pain.  There may be issues with chronic fatigue or side affects from medication.  Some may suffer from depression due to the stress of  day-to-day existence, or loneliness due to loss of friends or the loss of independence.  There may be changes in your body that affect your self-esteem.  Due to these factors a person who once had an active sex life may find that they know longer have the desire anymore.  This can put a strain on your relationship with your partner.  Don’t forget your partner is on this journey with you. The may not experience all of the physical manifestation of your chronic illness but they are there with you through the day-to-day and are experiencing the highs and lows of your illness.  They too are experiencing a loss of the person you once were and the relationship you once had.  A once happy relationship may start to show signs of cracks and strain if there is not honest communication about both of your feelings especially those regarding your sex life.  It is best to communicate these feelings before either of you begins to feel resentment about the lack of sex and intimacy in the relationship.

Just because you are sick doesn’t mean you must live a life of celibacy.  With a few changes and compromise between you  and your partner you can continue to have a healthy sex life.

– Pick a time of day when you feel your best. If you take pain medicine make sure it has time to take effect.

– If your medications affects your libido talk to your doctor.

-Experiment with new positions and use pillows to help relieve pain.  Be creative!

-You doesn’t always have to have intercourse.   You may not always feel your best no matter how well you prepare. You may only be able to cuddle, kiss, or massage each other. Find other ways have a close intimate connection with your partner without intercourse.  Have fun exploring each other’s body.

-Last, keep open communication with your spouse. It is going to be a trial and error journey.  Work together to find out what is best for both of you while still fulfilling each others needs.

Just because you are sick you don’t have to sacrifice sex and  intimacy with your mate. Certain things may have to change but remember that you love each other and that your relationship is worth it!

 

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God Restores!!

Oct. 3, 2002

this is the first time i’m really writing about this. i’ve been putting it off for the past 2 years. not wanting to tackle it. not wanting to really dig into the the hardest and biggest battle of my life, living with lupus.

i remember when i first realized that something seriously was wrong with me. i remember the nervousness i felt as day after day past, and the doctors couldn’t find out what was wrong with me. would i be ok? had i done something wrong, ate the wrong thing. that was the worst mind game anyone can play on you. i really can’t even explain how i felt, except that i was afraid, very afraid.

i was almost a relief to find out i had lupus. it was something i had heard of, yet i couldn’t really be prepared for how the “wolf”would change my life. how i would begin to lose part of myself, and make a new transition learning to live with this body that was rapidly manifesting itself as my new enemy.

the devil always seems to attack when things are going “well”. here i was at the end of my road at oakwood, close to finishing, planning my wedding and then i run into this brick wall. i mean i couldn’t even get out of the bed, couldn’t walk or fix my own dinner, take a shower without assistance. and the blow of all blows not only did i have lupus, but i also had kidney disease and would have to recieve agresseive chemotherapy.

i can’t explain how it felt to sit in that chair and watch those toxins flow into my body, knowing they are suppose to help me, but also fearing what it will do to me. the burning in my nose, burning in my veins, the dry itchy skin. i remember i cried the first time my hair fell out. it’s such such a slow depressing process . one day you look in the mirror and just don’t recognize yourself. who is this bloated face i have become accustomed to seeing everyday? whose swollen feet and tired weary body am i dragging around day to day. it happened all to fast for me to prepare for. i think it has done a number on my spirit. sometimes it just makes me real sad. other times i just become so angry i don’t know what to do. who do i blame? who do i vent to? then i must give in. the “wolf” always wins.

i hate him for taking me away, an leaving me with this sickly aging body. now i find out i have AVN. i live in constant pain. it’s to the point that i really don’t know what it feels like not to be in pain. do you know how that feels? how that can really mess with your mind. sometimes i wish that i could just go for a walk, sit outside and feel the sun on my face. feed the ducks at the pond or take a nice sabbath hike on a nature path. now it’s a chore to get up and go to the bathroom. do i really have to go that bad? it has robbed me of being the wife and mother that i want to be, dreamed i would be and has left me at times depending on a two year old to bring me water, or that book just a few feet from me because i’m in to much pain, or to tired to get it for myself. i want to take the boys outside and be able to ride bikes, play in the sand, throw a ball back and forth, and jump into a pile of leaves. i don’t want them to remember their childhood with a mother who was always to sick to do anything.

some days are harder than others. today is one of those days where i’m constantly reminded of all the things i can’t do. hating the bed for holding me captive today. hating my body for making today so painful. hating my pain medicine for not working. hating being inside this house on such a beautiful day. hating lupus and how it has stolen my joy today! some days it is just so hard to fight. to smile and fake it when my body is so much pain. not having anyone who can relate or understand what i’m going through right now. needing that someone here so i can talk to them.

it’s hard sometimes when i think about how these feelings may never go away. how i will always have this “wolf” on my shoulders. but thank GOD for squealy’s smile, elijah’s serenades, cornell’s hugs, and german chocolate cake.

Brandi Nichell Wingate Watts
Huntsville, AL

May, 27, 2009

As I read this old journal entry I started crying. Not because I could remember the lows of sickness but because I could see the power and love of a God almighty who looked down the road of my life and gave me just enough to hold on to so he could restore me. He has allowed me to be a testimony of his grace, mercy and healing power. These scars are a testament of his love for his child that didn’t always deserve it. Every day I get out of my bed without the assistance of a wheelchair or a walker. Some days I may be limping but I’m on my own two feet making it the best I can.

There are so many people that have told me that I, Brandi Nichell Wingate Watts was an inspiration to them due to this continuous fight dealing with my chronic illnesses, lupus and kidney disease. I have tried to help those who were trying to navigate through the system applying for disability then being told they were not sick enough to receive it and they were well enough to work. In what job I do not know. I’ve tried to pass on my knowledge of what works to soothe painful joints and what to do when it’s time to think about dialysis. I’m able to do this because others who were there for me. My grandmother prayed for me. My family and friends watched my children when I was hospitalized. There were those who visited me on those lonely sabbaths in the hospital and brought food even though it wasn’t part of my special diet. I think you for rides to and from doctors appointments and er visits. There were calls to encourage me just when I needed it most. Most of all their was a husband who did all he could for me. He held me when I couldn’t hold myself. He comforted me when my hair being to fall out and gave me a tight cut that i could rock with pride. He carried me back and forth to the bathroom, shower, bed, wheelchair, car. He took care of my children when I didn’t have energy to even hold them. He was there to hold me when I found out that I would have to go on dialysis. Even more important he was there to rejoice with me when I was blessed with the beginning of a new life when I received my kidney transplant. He is an inspiration to me. He has shown me unconditional love. To know that my father in heaven loves me oh so much more brings joy to my heart and he saw fit to give me a second chance at life. GOD RESTORES!!!

Proverbs 4:20-22

My child, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.

(Psalms 6:2 NKJV)
Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.

(Psalms 103:1-4 NKJV) Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! {2} Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: {3} Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, {4} Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies,