“Whatever Comes I’ll Be Ready…You Keep Me Steady”

My devotional this morning was about being thankful despite  times of uncertainty and pain when dealing with a chronic illness. You many not be living with a chronic illness, but there are many times of uncertainty and pain that daily creep into your life. It seems impossible to find gratefulness when you are in the bottom of the valley without any possible way of escape in sight; let alone being thankful for the situation itself. It doesn’t feel good  continually living in pain and distress. It doesn’t feel good having to struggle and fight, and to continually lose each and every time. What if I told you that you can be thankful, in the valley, the pain, distress, uncertainty. What if I told you that you can be thankful and grateful for the storm.

It seems crazy! Why would I be thankful for having lupus, and what could I possibly be grateful for? I must be losing it right!?! NOPE!! Not at all!! Reading this devotional this morning was right on time. The Lord has really been showing me how to be thankful for my chronic illness.  If I can learn to be thankful for this horrible illness that has left me in anxiety and depression, pain 24 hours of the day for the past 14 and a half years, took away my independence, my appearance, at times my sanity, safety, and everything I knew to be true, while literally trying to kill me, what else is there really to worry about!! I mean really think about that!! The Lord knew long before today what I would being going through. He knew since the beginning that in May of 2000, I would get sick with a chronic, incurable disease. He already made the provisions for me, and provided me with everything I will need to fight long before there was a battle; long before time knew time existed!!!  Just like me, the Lord knew your tears and pain would come. He knew that we both would make decisions that would bring dishonor to his name, yet he made a way for us before we even existed!!

Yes I have lupus! Yes, sometimes it seems unbearable, painful, and uncertain, but I am thankful!!  My fingers are cramping as I type this, and my knees are aching, as well as every other joint in my withered body, but guess what!?!? I am thankful for it!! When I opened my eyes in pain, that was a sign I was still alive!! When my swollen ankles hit the floor and I limp to the bathroom, I am walking on my own unassisted! God say’s,

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Nothing is too hard for my God! Lupus is not stronger than my GOD!! Your problems are not bigger than my God! Whatever comes I will be ready!! The Lord has already made provisions for me! He will not leave me to fight alone. Even when I don’t understand, and the world is crumbling down all around me, I will be thankful! He knows the answer, for he is the answer!

“You keep me steady when the sky is falling
And I’ll keep steady after You
I’ll carry on when my strength is failing
Take heart ‘cause You’re with me
So let the sun stop, stars drop, whatever comes
I’ll be ready, You keep me steady
You keep me steady” – For King and Country “Steady”

Brandi 🙂

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“Jesus Take The Wheel!”

Yesterday, I posted on Facebook that lupus was the best thing that ever happened to me.  Many people didn’t understand how such a horrible disease could  be the best thing that could ever happen . Even my husband looked at me crazy after reading it. It was not a typo! It is absolutely the truth!!

Recently I was talking to a friend that has been in a valley for some time now.  I was sharing with her how GOD allowed me to reach the lowest point in my life so I would let go and totally depend on him. For many years he let me do things my way.  He allowed me to pray to him and ask him to fix problems in my life while not truly believing that he would do it. I had plan A & B covered, and GOD was my plan C. How many of us pray to GOD to fix certain things in our lives, yet we don’t believe that he can do it, so we try to do things our way? I know I have. Despite the many times that I mocked GOD in prayer, disrespected him and spit in his face while telling him what I was going to do, he still loved me. Even in my sin he still loved me! While I smiled and worshiped him in public, I denied him in my heart in private!! Yet, he loved me so much he used lupus to save my life!!

I have an issue with control. I love it and want more of it. I have an issue with trust. It is rarely given, and quickly can be snatched away. The Lord know’s I struggle with both of these. My issues with trust and control were hampering my relationship with him.  I had built my wall up so strong and high that I wasn’t even letting the Lord through it!! He not only broke my walls down, he bulldozed that baby!! He took ALL control from me. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom by myself. I had to depend on strangers to clean me up afterwards. I had to trust that they  would take care of me. My most intimate moments, and basic private human functions had to be attended to by others. There was absolutely nothing under my control. I was flat on my back, and couldn’t do anything but look up.  That is where I found GOD’s love.

Why did it take lupus for me to learn my lesson? Why couldn’t I just surrender all on my own?  I would have saved myself so much time, heartache and pain if I would have let it all go and believe GOD would take care of me. Would I be the person I am today.?Here I am with a chronic disease that has no cure. If I worry or become stressed about anything, I will have a flare up. I live with chronic pain everyday for the past 14 years. There are days I can barely get out of the bed. This has forced me to learn  how  to ask for help. I can’t even  attempt to try to do it all; my body won’t allow me to!

Wow! What a crazy faith walk it has been over the past 14 years. I have seen the Lord perform so many miracles in my life. Things have not come together by luck or happenstance. It was the hand of GOD moving in my life. I have been in the hospital room when the doctors come in,with their faces drawn trying to explain to me that my  tests, and kidney function isn’t looking to good, then come back a few days later to be told that my kidney prognosis is great!! I have seen how the Lord helped the doctors to diagnosis me with lupus within 2 weeks while many other lupies take years and years to get a diagnosis. I have seen the Lord move when I got pregnant after the doctor told me I would never be able to have children due to the chemo making me infertile. I have seen the Lord shut down the words of the first obstetrician I went to when he told me that I would be horribly sick during my pregnancy and my son, if he survived, would be the sickest baby in the nursery. He told me to get an abortion. He then told me I was young and could have more children later. Eight months later, my son was born premature, but with absolutely no health issues!! While pregnant I was the healthiest I had ever been. My kidneys even healed themselves despite having to do the work for two!!  These and many more miracles have truly strengthen my faith. I know longer worry about what tomorrow brings, because I know GOD has already taken care of it.  I checked my account this morning and  my balance will not cover the rest of my bills for the month, but I am not worried at all. Our car is broken down right now, but I am not worried one bit!! He has promised me he would supply all my needs, and he hasn’t failed me yet!

I don’t know GOD’s plans for my future. I don’t know if it is his will to be totally healed, or if this will just be something I have to live with for the rest of my life.  2 Corinthians 12:8-9 says,

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

It wasn’t until I lost all control that I was able to experience GOD’s mighty power! Yes it is sometimes a rough road to travel,  and some days are hard to endure. Yes, frustration exists, and many tears are shed, but I will continue to give him the praise regardless of what may come my way!!!   Through it all, lupus ABSOLUTELY was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I am a walking testimony!! GOD’s GRACE IS SUFFICIENT!!!

Brandi 🙂

 

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“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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“For Every Mountain…”

My friend Kristen posted this on facebook. This story really touched me. Even though our diagnosis is different our story is the same.  Please keep this young lady  in your prayers.

 

(Thanks Kristen)

 

Brandi 🙂

“Here I Am”

news.yahoo.com

Even though Marvin Sapp has reached the pinnacle of success career wise, the gospel singer still wakes up with mixed emotions when reminiscing of his wife who died seven months ago.

 

Thank GOD for Malinda Sapp, and Thank GOD for Marvin.  I am sure it was the trials of dealing with a sick wife and all the feelings that go with it (THANK GOD FOR CAREGIVERS) that influenced his 8th album entitled “Here I Am”. 

While going through my MANY comments from my last two blogs, (Thank you everyone for all the comments and encouragement.) I came across Libi Brown who in regard to my “God Restores” blog said to me,

“Thank you so much 4 that cuz, I am over shedding tears of joy!! You have given me hope!!! People always say 2 use ur dark times as blessings 2 others & that is just what u have done, much luv & respect!!!!”

 

This is why I have to thank Marvin Sapp. It was his song  “Here I Am” off of his title track cd that has got me through many, many days. Sometimes I would play that song 8 times in one sitting until I could smile.  It forced me to take a look at all that God had brought me through. There was no reason for me to worry, cry or feel burden because “Here I am. I’m still standing”. He has brought me through for the past 11years. Why would he leave me now?!  Why would he let go of my hand now?! There is no way I can let the devil win now!! He held me up during chemotherapy, carried me when I was in my wheelchair for two years, he hand delivered my kidney for my kidney transplant, he healed my body from infection in 3 MONTHS when the doctor told me 6, and he walks with me now as I learn to get back on my feet. THANK YOU JESUS!  Thank you for being you.

You may be going through something now, and It may seem that God has forgotten about you. I am here tell you he has not! Just hold on to his promises and be HEALED!!

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev. 21:4

 My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their whole body. Proverbs 4:20-22 NAS

 Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. Psalm 103:2-3 NIV

The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness. I said, “O Lord, have mercy on me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.” Psalm 41:3-4 NIV

O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.” Psalm 30:2 NIV

 He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” Psalm 107:20 NAS

 I will never forget your commandments, for you have used them to restore my joy and health. Psalm 119:93 NLT

 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise. Jeremiah 17:14 NKJV

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 30:17 NIV

 “I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” Jeremiah 33:6 NIV

 “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and laws, then I will not make you suffer the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” Exodus 15:26 NLT

 “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.” Malachi 4:2 NLT

 
“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.” Isaiah 58:8 NKJV


“The Lord will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.” Isaiah 58:11 NLT


“Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You have restored my health and have allowed me to live!” Isaiah 38:16 NLT


Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5 NIV


He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 NIV


When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” Matthew 8:16-17 NIV


And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out, and saying, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” And after He had come into the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “Be it done to you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. Matthew 9:27-30 NAS


Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached Jesus. He knelt before him, worshiping. “Lord,” the man said, “if you want to, you can make me well again.” Jesus touched him. “I want to,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Matthew 8:2-3 NLT


“By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” Acts 3:16 NIV


“It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” Acts 4:10 NIV


Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:14-16 NIV


Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers. 3 John 2 AMP


“The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.” John 6:63 NIV


“He did it to teach you that people need more than bread for their life; real life comes by feeding on every word of the Lord.” Deuteronomy 8:3 NLT


May the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). 1 Thessalonians 5:23 AMP


A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 AMP


The strong spirit of a man sustains him in bodily pain or trouble, but a weak and broken spirit who can raise up or bear? Proverbs 18:14 AMP

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds [curing their pains and their sorrows]. Psalm 147:3 AMP

 

Thank you Jesus for finding me strong enough and worthy enough to be your walking testimony!

Brandi (I am still standing 🙂