“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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“I Will Survive…I’ve got all my life to live!”

Today wasn’t a good day. I woke up with another cold (number 5 so far this year). Because of my anti-rejection drugs I have a decreased immune system.  Every time I get sick it sends my body into a tail spin. I peeled myself out of the bed this morning.  Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days where a cold was just a cold and nothing else.  It is so frustrating!!!  It has been 14 years living with this life altering disease and it never gives me a day off; no weekends or holidays. I live with chronic pain 24 hours a day.  I have become accustomed to it. It is like a house guest that refuses to leave. Most people would never know what I go through day to day unless I told them.  I have learned to put a smile on my face and keep it moving.  There is no need to dwell on what is, if there is nothing you can do about it. Don’t get me wrong. There are days when it is just too much.There are days when I ask God why? There are days when I am angry that I can’t do what I want to. There are days I am angry that people don’t understand my limitations or my pain. Sometimes I am pleading God to give me just one day to be who I think I am in my head.

I have learned it is ok to be upset or angry in the valley.  It is suppose to be uncomfortable.  I am  not suppose to like it.  Sometimes it hurts.  Sometimes I will be sad, and wonder if I will every have a reason to smile.  If I never had valley moments I would never appreciate the good times. I would never be grateful for my good days if I never had a bad one. I would never know that GOD is a healer and a refuge in my time of trouble. Yes, I woke up in pain, but I WOKE UP. Someone else lived their last day.God is so good that even when I lose, I win! He has already given me what I need to make it through the day. Some how I have been given a strength I never new I had.  It is nothing I could have done on my own. It is all God. What I lack he fills in the gap, and renews my strength. He is the reason I can keep going. Though it may not always seem like it, God has already given me what I need to be VICTORIOUS!!

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He does not faint or grow weary;

his understanding is unsearchable.

 He gives power to the faint,

and to him who has no might he increases strength.

 Even youths shall faint and be weary,

and young men shall fall exhausted;

 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings like eagles;

they shall run and not be weary;

they shall walk and not faint.”

-Isaiah 40:28-31

“But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
 For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”

-Isaiah 43:1-3

Brandi 🙂

Recently I gave Shared my testimony for “They Overcame By”. Watch and be encouraged.

“Imagine Me”/”Flaws And All”

Scrolling down my Facebookwall today, I have seen the same picture over and over again.  It is a post baby pic of Kim Kardashin in an ill fitting white bathing suit. I know many of you have seen it as well because it seems every form of media has posted it or is talking about it.  While I admire how quickly she has been able to shed her baby weight and return to her beautiful curvy figure, I can’t help but think about the sabbatical we have had for the past 10-12 months not having to be bombarded by pics of her on  instagram in varying states of undress, and how much I have enjoyed it. She is a beautiful women but geesh! Scrolling further along, I see an article about a young girl that was found in the middle of her crowded high school cafeteria giving oral sex to another male student.  Though these articles would seem to be two unrelated stories, they sadly are very much the same.

I have to admit, throughout my childhood and my teens I didn’t love myself. I liked myself, but I didn’t love myself.  I had body issues, hair issues, daddy issues, clothes, money, boys; all the issues that come with growing up a little brown girl under the California sun.  I really didn’t learn to love myself until I was in college.  For the most part I was comparing myself to the other girls, (who probably had the same insecure issues I had) in my jr. high and high school. It wasn’t the Gwenyth Paltrow’s on the red carpet, or the stunning Beyonce’s entertaining the masses, or the Kim Kardashin’s in every magazine on every shelf in the grocery store check out line. Though  at the time I felt I could never have all the things my classmates possessed, everything they had, or looked like they had was some how obtainable even if I didn’t know that then.  Even in their school yard perfection they still had a zit or two, had lipstick on their teeth, or bad hair days every once in a while.  I was able to see that the “princess of the ball” was sometimes off her A game just like me.  Even though I didn’t love myself, I liked myself a whole bunch.  Liking myself filled in the gaps of my insecurities until I could learn to love who I was.

I think about my nieces and I know that already in their young lives they are already being indoctrinated about what is beautiful and what is not. Unlike me their young minds are already barraged by the flawless perfection of societies idea of beauty. Unlike me, they are not shown bad hair days, zits, or any form of imperfections. All they see are impeccable photos that have been doctored beyond recognition, or the glamorous life of celebrities that is idolized on tv or social media.  It makes me wonder will they ever learn to love themselves.  Will they ever learn to even like themselves?  Will they constantly compare their self worth to an unattainable apparition that doesn’t exist. I pray when they realize that they can’t attain this false perfection they see around them, they don’t look for it, crave it, from other means. I pray they don’t look for that love from a bottle or a drugs altering haze. I pray they don’t look for it in a boy, whose love is conditioned on what she can do for him.  I pray they don’t look for it in an addicted obsession of body dismorphia.  I pray they don’t seek attention using their body as currency. I pray they grow to love themselves and all their imperfections because they are unique, special, wonderful individuals who are carefully and wonderfully made by a perfect all loving GOD.  I want them to grow to love those things that make them different.  I want them to know they are very extraordinary girls and they are loved, because there are so many little girls who have never heard this, and so many women who have yet to believe it. By birthright, you have always been “the princess of the ball”!!

Brandi 🙂

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“Put It On The Altar!”

Last week I wrote about my new health crisis. (“My Soul Is Anchord” https://lupieloop.wordpress.com/2013/09/09/)  My labs showed increased protein in my urine.  After a kidney biopsy, I learned that I have significant scarring on my transplant kidney. I was told I had irreversible damage. They still didn’t know why, or what was attacking my kidney. Though I have been concerned I have been prayerfully walking in faith. I have had so many people praying on my behalf.  I have been prepared to do what was necessary on my part to keep rejection at bay.  I have been saying that this storm was my testimony before my testimony. Well here is the testimony!!

I returned to UAB this morning. I was prepared for what ever the dr had to say, because no matter what, I believed that in the Lord’s time it would be worked out.  I was happy to see Dr. Gaston walk in.  You can tell he has been doing this job for a long time. He thoroughly explains what’s going on in clear terms.  I believe the Lord wanted me to fully understand what was going on.  He began with small talk and a review of what happened last week, then he busted out the lap top with the results of the labs for this week. Now, please listen closely.  He said that my protein levels are going down.  I had a wonderful creatinine level of .09 (0.4-1.3).  Then he dropped the real deal news. THERE WERE NO ANTIBODIES PRESENT!!!  Basically there is nothing in my body attacking my kidneys!! NOTHING!! ZILCH!!!  He continued on to say that he thinks by November all of my levels should be back to normal and my prognosis looks good!  Even some of the scarring should go away!! PRAISE GOD!!

I have said this before. I do not know why the Lord chose me to walk this journey. All I know is that over the past 13 years, the Lord has brought me to this place where I learned to live with FEARLESS FAITH!! I have been through so much, and each and every time I go through a storm I always come out better on the other side.  I have learned to praise in my weakness, in pain, and through my tears.  He has never left me!  He has done so much that I have no fear of storms that may  pass, because I know I believe in a life guard that can walk on water!!  I know that what ever he promised me in his word he will deliver. It isn’t always in my time. It is in the time of a GOD that created time!!

There are so many people going through just life, and they are barely staying afloat.  Finances are low, and jobs now days are scarce.  I know. I am living it too.  All I can tell you is you are GOD’S child.  He knows exactly what you need. He may give you just enough to be able to look up and gasp for air before you go down again.  This is not the time to give up!! It is time to lay on your back, look up and learn to float until your change comes!!! He is grooming you so you can walk in  FEARLESS FAITH!!  The bible say’s,

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”  Psalm 55:22

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”  1 Peter 5:7

You have the perfect set up, “The Dream Team”,  if only you will believe on him.  Jesus is our lawyer, the Holy Spirit is co council and God all mighty  is the Judge.  Don’t you know you have won before you were even taken to trial?!?!? You can never lose whether it is about a job, finances, health, or hurts and pains.  The trial is over and the judges decision was  in your favor!!  It is time that we become FEARLESS FAITH Christians.  Oh what more does the Lord have in store for us if we only asked, believing he could?  There would be so much, we wouldn’t have room enough to receive it!!  (Malachi 3:10) Thank you GOD for giving me my testimony before the testimony and teaching me to live my life as a FEARLESS FAITH Christian!!

” Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Hebrews 11:1 

“Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.”  Matthew 9:22

“Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.”  Matthew 15:28

“Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  Matthew 21:21-22

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, o him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21

“He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.”  Psalm 107:21-33

“Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.”  Psalm 103:2-6

“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.”  Psalm 34:19-20

“Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;  you spared me from going down to the pit. Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;  praise his holy name.”  Psalm 30:2-4

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.”  Psalm 107:19-21

“You shall worship the Lord your God, and I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from among you.”  Exodus 23:25

‘O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.”  Psalm 30:2

 

God’s greatness is unmeasurable ,

his grace immense,

and his love everlasting!

Brandi 🙂

* Thanks to all of you that have thought of me and prayed on my behalf.

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“My Soul Is Anchored”

If someone were to ask how i feel right now I would say concerned, but steadfast. Today was definitely a test of faith, but I still believe the Lord is in control. I had a kidney biopsy on my 7-year-old transplant kidney today.  Though I feel fine, my labs show there is a considerable amount of protein in my urine.  The doctors have not been able to find out why.  The biopsy shows that I have significant scarring and is beginning to show early signs of possible rejection.  The scarring is irreversible . They have decided to increase some of my anit-rejection meds and add a new medication in hopes of slowing down anything that may be causing it and try to prolong the kidney as long as possible. The positives are though my kidney isn’t ideal, they say that my function is over 60% and is functioning very well to have such significant scarring. If for what ever reason it drops down to 20% I will be put back on the transplant list.  The other positive news is that my lupus is still in remission and was not the reason the kidney isn’t functioning as it should be.  They want me to return next Wednesday to see how my body is taking the new milligram changes, and the new drug that they are prescribing to decrease the protein.

I listened to all they had to say, and their advice, but inside I was praying.  I have been here before.  I have been in a hospital bed too many times with a diagnosis that seems to leave me in the deepest and steepest valley, and each time I pray and ask the Lord if he chooses not to heal me today, just allow me to make it to see tomorrow. It has been 13 years and I am still here! They do not know my story. They don’t know how many times the Lord has sustained me, carried and kept me.  They do not know I was in a wheel chair for 2 years unable to walk.  They do not know how my son shouldn’t even be alive.  They do not know!!! I feel like Noah right now.  I have built this huge ship, loaded it with the animals, and now I am looking out the window with nothing but water as far as my eye’s can see.  My family has made it through the storm, though uncomfortable there has been no casualties. I have sent out the raven, and now the dove, and I am waiting for the olive branch.  He will send me that olive branch. It may not be today, or tomorrow, but it will be done!! Until then I will take my medication as prescribed and remain in prayer. This is  my testimony before my testimony!! Whether he heals my kidney today, or if I must hold on until he provides a new kidney, my freshly plucked olive branch is already on the way!

Continue to keep me in prayer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9B8RCeJ4hm4

 

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“Father’s Be Good to Your Daughters…”

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A couple of days ago, (New Years Eve) my husband and I celebrated our 11 anniversary.  We had a very interesting conversation over dinner at our favorite mexican restaurant.  Some how our conversation turned to me growing up without a father.  He told me he couldn’t comprehend not having a father, and how  or what my feelings were when I was around my friends that did have their father in their lives.  I answered that I didn’t think anything about it.  I thought about the saying, “You don’t miss what you never had”.  Thinking about it now, I did miss out, and it has affected me even though I didn’t realize that it had.

I would be lying if I said I had NO feelings at all about not having my father in my life.  I have memories of being upset that my father had another family, with kids that he saw and took care of everyday, yet he wasn’t doing the same for me.  My home life wasn’t always the best. Sometimes I would think about what it would be like to be rescued from the hell I was living in.  Other than these occasional thoughts I had no thoughts about my dad.  He wasn’t apart of my day-to-day activities.  I wasn’t  the only child to not have a father in their life.

There are many opinions on women who didn’t have their father in there lives.  What you hear coming up every time is of them having “daddy issues”. After having that conversation with my husband, I began to think what were “my issues”.  I would definitely without a doubt say that my biggest issue was trust.

I had serious issues with trusting men.  When I think back on my relationships, I realize that I didn’t trust them at all.  I wasn’t one of those girls that held so tight that I didn’t allow them to spend time with their friends, male or female.  It was more like I didn’t  trust them with my emotions. I didn’t want them to see me vulnerable.  I didn’t trust anyone with my emotions.  It was always in the back of my mind that I had to keep my feelings and emotions barricaded so I wouldn’t be hurt.  I didn’t want to give them my heart for them to turn around and break it.  I was waiting for them to lie, cheat, or walk out.  To me all men lied, cheated were untrustworthy and didn’t stick around.  I was in control of my emotions and I didn’t want to give up my control over them and be disappointed or hurt. It didn’t help that some of them  cheated on me. That just validated how I felt. I didn’t have dreams of “Prince Charming” on a white horse whisking me away to my Cinderella, Snow White, Disney fairy tale.  I didn’t have examples of happy marriages or what a  fathers role was our how they should be.  I wasn’t told how a man should treat you.  My reality was that men were good for nothing.  I saw my mom work herself ragged while her “man” lived off of her, didn’t respect her, and treated her like trash.  He treated us the same.  I knew what I didn’t want, but was too guarded to experience it.  It wasn’t until after my last relationship before I met my husband that I prayed for GOD to heal me.  If I hadn’t been receptive and willing to change I would have missed out on the wonderful blessing GOD had in store for me.  It was then I forgave my father.  I decided that regardless of what happened, or didn’t happen in my childhood regarding my father was the past.  We couldn’t get those years back.  I had forgiven him for not being present.  The only thing we could do was start from scratch, and that is what we did.  Me and my dad have a great relationship now, and though I didn’t ask for an apology, he gave me one. He told me that the worst thing he ever did was to not be a father to me when I was younger.

It wasn’t just forgiving my father that healed me, but also the love of my husband.  He was the first man to show me how a man should treat a women.    I felt safe for the first time in my life.  I knew he would protect me at all costs, and that my love, feelings, dreams, aspirations and emotions were safe with him.  For the first time I could be myself good or bad, and I knew he would still love me.  He didn’t just want me for my body, or what I could give to him. I learned from him how to love. He wanted me for me. He made me feel wanted, and desired. He is the best example of what a husband should be.  I thank GOD my children won’t ever have to go through what I went through.  They have the best example of a man and father.  I praise GOD for that!  The cycle has been broken.