Monday, January 9, 2017

Flooded with His love and healing!

Several new posts here, as I let go of my fear and invite God into the hurting places in my heart and my life and receive His healing love!  Overwhelmed by the LOVE He is showing me and ongoing encouragement for my journey.  He's available for you too!

God wants our sad.  Click on the link for a great read!  

Click on the post below and invite Him into your brokenness and welcome healing...

His provision in every situation

When God meets you in the midst of what's happening in your life, it is so powerful and so HEALING!!!  Rejoicing and giving thanks and singing praises to His wonderful Name!!!

Click on the post below to listen in and be encouraged to find HOPE!

Morning encouragement

I am so thankful for the family of God in this world, and especially those who have the gift of encouragement.  I am always in awe of how "on point" their messages are for what I'm going through in life.  I know it's a divine blessing for my journey... and for yours.  Have a blessed day! You are so loved.

Click on any of these photos/posts and they will take you to the post on Facebook.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A really bad, terrible, awful, horrible day...

FEAR:  There are those who are strong and appear fearless and those whom we consider weak, because they are "afraid" of everything, it seems ~ people, the dark, heights, spiders, etc....  Fear imprisons people. Fear causes people to avoid certain activities.  Fear can kill.

For as long as I can remember, FEAR has been an issue in my life.  I have been afraid and fearful of many things:

  • Fear of heights
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of illness
  • Fear of snakes
  • Fear of the dark
  • Fear of other people
  • Fear of being rejected
  • Fear of being abandoned
  • Fear of what others think of me
  • Fear of people discovering who I really was...
  • Fear of being the victim of a crime or a violent act
  • Fear of my Dad (he was a strict disciplinarian and had a terrifying, loud voice when he was angry.  He demanded respect. - please know I am not judging my Dad.  It was who he was - he had his own life story.  I loved my Dad deeply and miss him every day since his passing. He made me laugh.  He brought a measure of happiness into my life. I know, now, how much he loved me.  We were connected at a deep place inside of each of us...)
Without knowing it, FEAR had grown into a huge wave that washed over my whole life...

FEAR has been an overwhelming factor in my life that has held me back from engaging in life more fully.  FEAR is debilitating! FEAR caused me to be an overprotective mother of our children.  Because of my own fears and be overly worried that something bad might happen to them or someone else might hurt them, I tried to shelter and protect them from a world that I believed was a bad place filled with bad people I couldn't trust. It was, and often, still is.  I would do everything I could to keep them safe...  Not that this was a healthy or appropriate mindset. It's not!  And, there have been events in our family that have caused great personal pain to me (and others), because of how I experienced life controlled by fear.  

I was a sick child and spent alot of time at the doctor's office or at different clinics...seeking healing for this or that.  I had pneumonia at 3 months of age.  While some children are strong and resilient, I feared doctors, the more I had to see them ~ because to me, they never really made me better.  And then, when you develop chronic illness and doctors begin to tell you:  "You're depressed and just need to be on an anti-depressant,"  "It's all in your head,"  "I don't know what's wrong with you, but let's try this medicine," "I don't know what's wrong with you, it's all psychological - you need help - and I think it would be better for you to find a new doctor."  There is likely some truth to all of this, but it never made me feel like I was a person of value or worth...and it just made things worse.

For me, FEAR grew.  Always looking over my shoulder.  Always wondering if I would ever get well again. Wondering if I would live long enough to see our children grow up.  FEAR that I had ruined our children's lives, because they had to grow up with a Mom who was sick and couldn't get well and it caused our life to keep changing and made us different than other people.  Deciding to give up this activity or that activity to deal with my broken body and FEAR increased.  Worrying about getting sick or hurt in an accident, because my body wouldn't tolerate pharmaceutical medicine.  Then what? And, as time went by, the world became more and more toxic to my body, and continued to weaken and break down... And, FEAR grew!

How can this all be happening, when I am a Christian and I have accepted Jesus as my Savior?  Doesn't the Bible talk about FEAR?  It does, but I could not overcome it.  As some would say, "You don't have enough faith."  And so, I continually questioned myself even though I knew these words:

'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)

I didn't know how to embrace these words, the Truth of them, and to allow God to make it a reality in my own life.  I felt like a failure.  My husband and I have prayed for many years for healing in my body and for healing of a specific health issue that I battled again and again. Yes, healing would come in different ways, but what I needed seemed continually just out of reach. And, spiritual warfare has been an ongoing issue in my faith journey and I battled on, the best I could.  Always trying to find a way to freedom...

In 2013, after walking away from our home we owned, the loss of our home (my safe place), our neighborhood and community overwhelmed me (and I still struggle).  And then, my Dad's health declined and he passed away in October, 2015.  Our dearest, sweet Coco dog followed in February, 2016, and my world just spun out-of-control.  I couldn't get my feet back under me properly and my health struggled and I was truly fearful my health would just continually decline...  Finally, in desperation, I sought out a new, specialty practice, naturopath to try and find healing for an ongoing health struggle (mid 2016).  Originally diagnosed with the condition in 1993, I was told there was no "cure" - just a hope to reduce the symptoms (and not to eat fruits high in citric acid) - but this naturopath told me it is actually an autoimmune disease and not only was it making my body quite ill, but there is a path to healing...   It was overwhelming and alot to wrap our heads around.

We began the Autoimmune Protocol elimination diet (way of eating, not a weight loss diet) on January 1, 2017.  My body is weak, aching, and I am exhausted.  January is never a good month for my body; living with chronic illness.  A low point every year with not alot of sunshine and many damp, chilly days.  BUT this year, Blaine and I have a new hope; a new path toward healing and we've fully embraced it.  We decided I would remove everything from my calendar for this month to rest and adjust to the new diet.  There is very specific food for us to eat and the menu is planned out for the first 4 weeks.  We're following it exactly (except no onions or lemon/lemon juice for me - we're substituting organic cranberry juice with no sugar added).  There is ALOT more cooking and food preparation involved, but Blaine is willing to take it on - plus working - and have me help, as I can.  The one challenge ~ we live an hour away from the natural food store where we purchase our groceries.  Okay - I've been doing the grocery shopping and I believed I could do it as my one activity per week.  I would shop on Fridays, so we can batch cook on Saturdays for the next week.  So, Friday arrived and Blaine determined that he would go with me for this shopping trip, but neither he or I were feeling  too well.  Although we didn't feel so great, we headed up to the city.  I felt a bit on edge, but worked on remaining focused.  And then, on Hwy 599, we were just behind a nasty accident that happened moments before...  I'm shaken, but we continue on.  A short distance up the road, Blaine comments on wondering where he put the cookbook and shopping list in the car.  He can't find it.  NO!!!!! It has to be here. Don't tell me it's not here.  We've driven all this way.  It has to be in the car.  My stress level rises.  By the time I can pull over for him to look throughout the car, my stress level has reached near panic stage.  We are now 45 minutes from home, I don't have alot of energy, I'm stressed and...the cookbook is nowhere to be found (which isn't a huge deal), but he wanted the shopping list to be in the book and not in my purse where I normally keep it - which means it's at home and not with us.  Stress overload for someone whose body is quite ill right now.  And, we've learned anxiety and panic attacks are common when someone is experiencing an autoimmune flare, which I am right now.  The reality: we have to return home.  As we begin to head south, I am overwhelmed and go into a full panic.  I can't do this!  I don't have the strength for this!  The car accident rattled me!  Why is this happening?  I feel like I can't trust you and I need to trust you.  He feels horrible.  He's trying to hold it together, because he knows I'm in a panic.  I pull over, because I'm so stressed out.  We had a certain time window to do the grocery shopping in order to return home for lunch (we can't eat out right now).  There is no way for me to drive home and Blaine takes over driving home.  My stress is now out-of-control and I'm sobbing.  (This is illness and exhaustion crying out.)  And, then, we almost get side swiped. More stress!  Please God, help us!  A little further down the road, we almost get side swiped on the freeway.  I lose it.  I really lose it!  Completely freaking out, cries arise to the surface from deep, deep inside of me (which I've only experienced twice before ~ once when we thought we'd lost one of our children from our lives and after my Dad died. I later realizing this cry came from releasing the overwhelming emotion of embracing my diagnosis and the new life ahead of us).  Still a long drive ahead of us and I'm completely panicked.  Crying and sobbing. Blaine feeling helpless and knowing he has to focus on driving to get us home safely.  Feeling my body get weaker and weaker.... I slump over.  I can't do this anymore.  I hate my life, I scream out!  And, because we've experienced spiritual warfare before, I know part of this is the enemy of my soul trying to destroy me.... (and yet, I run the gamut of questions ~ I'm not important, so why are you bothering me?  What is it about me that irritates you so much that you desire to destroy me?) I begin yelling Jesus' name.  Please help me.  And somewhere deep inside me, I hear "sing praise."  And, I see a vision of Paul and Silas in their prison cell, singing praise to God and, again, I'm encouraged to sing praises to God.  So weak I could barely hold up my head, I forced myself to softly begin singing.  The more I sang, the stronger my voice got.  I began to feel the darkness, the weakness and the pain in my body grow lighter and fade away. The feeling returns to my arms.  By the time we arrived home, I felt back to normal again - although exhausted.  Upon arriving, Blaine broke down and we felt God doing a new work in our life; setting us free from something that imprisoned us. Blaine tells me he's never heard my voice sound so beautiful in singing praise to God before.  And for the first time, we are drawn closer together and a deeper love for each other grows, as does our love for our amazing Lord!  We have experienced the power of God in our lives doing a great work overcoming my FEAR.  His LOVE is victorious!   In a very short span of time, I went from total darkness to experiencing freedom.  He's available for you too.

And, after we ate lunch, we both had the strength to drive back up to Seattle to get our grocery shopping done (Thank You, Jesus!) and God sustained us throughout our time and back home again.  The stress did take a toll on my body and my muscles and joints are extremely painful this weekend, and I know I need to keep my stress level down to enable my body to heal, BUT I/we experienced God's loving hand upon our lives, I know He is with me and that FEAR does not have the power to destroy me for Jesus has already been victorious and has truly set me free.  Now, this doesn't mean I will never experience fear again, but I know I can run to Him who is able strengthen me in the midst of it and will protect me, for He has overcome it.  This weekend, the words below have gained new meaning for me.  As I learn to let go of FEAR and embrace Jesus, His peace will grow.  Yes, troubles and trials will happen in this life, but in Jesus we have peace for He overcame this world.  HOPE!!!

 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation (trouble, trials), but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NASB

I share this story, not to freak anyone out, but it's a first step to free myself from my FEAR PRISON and to let others know that many people suffer behind closed doors or in ways that others cannot see their struggles or the battles they desperately try to overcome, but can't seem to.  I share, because we've managed to keep this hidden even from our own children - though not to the benefit of our family, but for my own self-protection.  I don't want our children to ever feel imprisoned, as I have nor as my husband has (and I am continually amazed he is still here and how unconditionally he loves me), but for us all to be free to embrace healing. Many people think I'm so positive and so strong - that I don't need others, because I have Jesus and my faith is everything.  But, I'm just as weak as everyone else. I often believe I'm the weakest person in my life.  Why would God want to use me for anything?  He keeps reminding me that He loves me and He created me for a purpose in this life.  My faith is my strength that sustains me.  Jesus is my answer, even as I struggle humanly to overcome the battles in my life!  His love never fails me.

I pray you, the reader, are FREE from FEAR.  And, if you're not, that you're able to find hope in Jesus and a practitioner that can help you on your journey. I pray you find the courage and the strength to let others know you struggle with FEAR.  I should have done so, very long ago...., but TODAY is a new day!  I am thankful I have a Redeemer, who is able to heal and restore my life. And, the beginning of BRAVE!!! 

Blessings for good health and healing to you!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Steps of Faith

Yesterday, I took a scary and fear-filled step, for me, in my autoimmune journey, and shared specifics about my illness with our children and my Mom. It's alot of information to take in and as overwhelming as it was for me to write, I know it's overwhelming for each of them to read...  I was tempted to quit numerous times throughout the day and not send anything to them.  I could keep things to myself, as I always have.  BUT, I knew that Jesus did not want me to stay trapped in my self-imposed prison regarding my health any longer, nor for my husband to be either.  SO, I took that scary step of faith, trusted Him, shared alot of words and a very long chronic health journey, the new revelation that I have autoimmune diseases, the reality of what's going on in my body and I let go!  

Who knew I would experience a really heavy weight lifted from my shoulders? I don't have to hide any more.  I don't have to pretend I feel fine.  Goodbye fear.  I can be the real me, focus on healing my body and live a new life. Starting today.  

And, blown away by these divine encouragements that greeted me this morning. I rejoiced. I gave thanks the Lord is with me and He is encouraging me in the first day of this new beginning of the rest of my life!  I am so incredibly blessed and have a full heart of gratitude.  

I pray each of you find the answer for your path to Hope, Healing and Wholeness.  Jesus is still mine.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The real deal: LIFE

It's been so long since I've sat down and considered pulling my thoughts together... Many days, it's a huge chore to get my brain to focus.  It's extremely frustrating to deal with, but as the New Year approaches, I have decided my time, energy and focus must be on healing my body and mind and my "old blog" is a great place for me to write down my journey; to collect my thoughts and keep a record of how I progress.  This is the real deal:  LIFE.  It's not how I would have chosen to write my story, but it is my story...  My prayer and my hope is, if only one person is helped along the way, then it will be worth sharing.

While I have struggled with my health since 3 months of age, for nearly 10 years now, life has been a real struggle for me.  Challenging life stuff happened:  broken relationships, various stresses, health challenges - alot of health challenges, loss of our home, neighborhood and community, dreams falling apart, and especially difficult this past year ~ my Dad's passing (October 30, 2015) and then my best friend, Coco's passing on February 22, 2016.  My heartache is still so overwhelming.  I have never known grief at this level and I am still struggling to embrace it and learn how to function with it.  My Dad and I may have had a difficult relationship in this life, but we were connected on a much deeper level and his passing has left a gaping hole in my heart and my life.  And, with all my health challenges, I have learned that my amazing Coco dog was a life-giving/supporting companion to me and her loss has left me with a missing piece of my daily foundation and my ability to function well each day.  Blaine and I have adopted two different puppies this year, only to have to re-home both of them (one did not have the breed genetics we thought and completely stressed Blaine out with her behavior and our second dog did not want to be a companion dog, but a dog's dog and live with others dogs and do his own thing).  It's been heartbreaking, all over again.  When we have the financial means again in the next year, we so hope to find a new dog to not only be my companion, but also to be a great fit for Blaine and my life together.  I have told myself, almost daily, that I don't need a dog to function in my life, but it has become obvious to both Blaine and I, that I really do.  And, it's time to embrace who I am and what I need (what my body needs) to be successful in this life, so I can fully live.  Our search for a new dog companion continues. Trusting God to provide just what I/we need, at just the right time.  Though honestly, I wish it was today.  Or yesterday.

With the revelation of all this and in trying to find a way forward, I brought a second naturopath onto my healthcare team, a few months ago, and discovered I have multiple autoimmune diseases.  (I will share more about that in the coming weeks and months.)  While it has been overwhelming to take it all in, Blaine and I are very thankful to have a specific path to walk ahead of us and these past 20+ years of not knowing what was happening with my health, finally some answers come to us.  We are still searching for the "root cause" of my autoimmune issues, but we are so grateful we have some defined plus a NEW WAY of living ahead as we welcome 2017!  Will begin searching for a Functional Medicine practitioner (preferably one that takes our insurance, but most are cash only - because they are not pharmaceutical focused as insurance companies desire they be ~ and they spend time with their patients to really figure out what is happening - drugs and short appointments are the insurance way).  That said, at almost age 52, we're believing this will be a year of HEALING!!!

A HEART OF GRATITUDE:  I am thankful for other autoimmune sufferers who have gone before me and have paved the way to help others, often causing setbacks in their own health, for a season, as they create resources to help others find a path to healing and live fully.  Blaine and I are entering this new season together and give much praise for two amazing women at Autoimmune Paleo for their willingness to share their journey and provide resources and information to others. This is where our journey begins! It's a BIG learning curve, but we will take it step-by-step.  We have 30-90 days of a very restrictive diet and hope to heal our guts, so our immune systems will be healthy ~ allowing healing in our bodies to occur.  

If you are a fellow autoimmune sufferer (and autoimmune disease/illness numbers grow by leaps and bounds daily), please consider reading The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook below (click on photo for link).

Our prayer is that we all receive the gift of HOPE, embrace new beginnings and receive HEALING in 2017!  
Abundant blessings of great joy and healthy living to you and yours ~ Joanie  

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Invited to refocus my journey....

"Finally, dear brothers, as I come to the end of this letter, I ask you to pray for us. Pray first that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and triumph wherever it goes, winning converts everywhere as it did when it came to you. Pray, too, that we will be saved out of the clutches of evil men, for not everyone loves the Lord.  But the Lord is faithful; He will make you strong and guard you from satanic attacks of every kind. And we trust the Lord that you are putting into practice the things we taught you, and that you always will. May the Lord bring you into an ever deeper understanding of the love of God and of the patience that comes from Christ."  2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 (The Living Bible)

In God's amazing loving kindness, He compassionately reached out to me over the past few weeks - and, especially this past week - to gently share with me that while I've been doing "good" for many months, was that good GOD or just earthly good?  Whoa.

So now, I've begun letting go of things outside of home and I'm spending more time in prayer. This morning, I awoke at the end of a vivid dream and felt I should record it, for it was so powerful.  Upon finding an empty journal in the office (digging it out of a box of my things that have been packed away since we moved from our Burien house and catching the large spider in the box and releasing her outside), I was lead to the scripture above.  This passage contains so much content, wisdom and guidance.  God's Word is so amazingly living and active!  Rejoicing and giving thanks that God has spoken specifically to me.  I will continue to spend focused time with God in the coming days, weeks and months that He may fully reveal His wisdom, His path and His will for my life.

Autumn has arrived and as this year's garden season winds down, I am overwhelmed with excitement to receive this incredible invitation from our precious Lord to come and sit with Him, grab a cup of hot tea, curl up on the couch, and BE with Him in the season ahead as He and I converse together, search His Word and sometimes just sit quietly with each other.  He's got exciting, amazing, wonderful, adventurous,  life-giving lessons to teach me.  And, I praise Him afresh for I am eager to learn...  

Here I am, Lord, teach me.  I need Your Truth, Love and Grace anew.  I have much to learn still on this journey here on earth. I need to be equipped for this season and all the seasons ahead.  I need to be equipped to do the work that You have for me to do, Lord.  I need to be ready to love those You want me to love.  To be ready to share my life with those You want me to share with. To be ready to receive what you will have others give to me.  To be sensitive to Your leading.  To bloom wherever You plant me... In Jesus' precious Name ~ Amen

And, as I am embarking on this journey with our amazing Lord, I'd like to invite you, dear reader, to ask God if He is extending a similar invitation to you this season.  Or perhaps He already has. You will be so blessed in accepting and joining Him for the adventure that awaits you!

May the Lord bless you and keep you and provide for your every need!  

God is good.  All the time.