“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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