My family in 2017: Brandon (a.k.a. Superman), Micah, Melissa, Sara
You might have a chronic illness. You might bear wounds from your past, but you aren’t stuck. You aren’t doomed to a miserable existence. In Christ, you can live a powerful life, rich in abundance and full of joy. You are capable of more than you can imagine, even as you are. How do I know?
Let me tell you my story.
Allergies had plagued me all my life, but in late 2004 something went horribly wrong. I sat watching a Christmas movie with my parents, sister, and husband of four months. We were all popping pistachios, and my throat began to swell. That night, I suffered my first anaphylactic reaction. Many similar reactions would follow.
By early 2006, I had lost entire groups of foods and had become more sensitive to environmental triggers. Allergy shots didn’t help. Rather than being able to increase the amount of allergen in each injection, my immunologist continually decreased the amount while my reactions to the injections grew more extreme, sometimes culminating in anaphylaxsis that would require epinephrine. I developed asthma and began carrying an inhaler and an Epi-pen wherever I went, in addition to the Benadryl I’d carried for years. When I became pregnant with my son in 2008, I ended treatment for the sake of us both.
After the birth of my daughter in November 2011, my health collapsed to the point that I could only eat a handful of foods, I couldn’t leave my house without risking my life, and I had regular anaphylactic reactions, not only to foods but also to substances I touched and inhaled. Life was crazy.
No one knew what was wrong with me. I saw specialist after specialist. Most tried to help. Some thought I was crazy. Everything we tried backfired. In the search for answers and tolerable treatment, I was prescribed a fluoroquinolone drug, which led to cellular damage, increased sensitivity to foods and smells, and stronger, more frequent reactions.
A local natural doctor, who later became my friend, did her best to clean up a mess she didn’t make. She tirelessly sought for answers and effective treatment until she developed an acupressure treatment in an effort to save my life. It worked! She taught my husband to perform the treatment at home, which continued to save my life many times over. Regular treatments helped me to stabilize and decreased the severity and frequency of my reactions.
2013 was a rough year, but I survived and pressed hard into my Savior, who came through for me in heaping measures of grace. In 2014, a nutritional therapist, who also became my friend, created a nutrient-dense, autoimmune paleo, low-histamine eating plan set on a four-day rotation just for me. We added rice, and I was able to gain weight and stabilize enough to make a trip to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN during May 2014, where I learned the name of my disease—mast cell activation syndrome.
Mast cell activation syndrome has no cure, and because I couldn’t tolerate fillers in medication, only one prescribed drug panned out. Gastrocrom (ingestible cromolyn sodium) made eating so much easier. Before Gastrocrom, I found myself in the fetal position sweating from pain after every meal. Within a few weeks of taking it three times each day, post-mealtime misery happened only a couple of times per week.
In many ways, I improved in 2014. I gained weight. There were only a couple of close brushes with death. I survived an ant sting without too much drama. My closest friend died after a hard battle with cancer, and I didn’t die along with her.
The Holy Spirit of God blessed me in such a way that I experienced more joy than I’d ever known in my life despite the fact that I was still very sick. Moreover, he gave me a ministry inside my tiny mobile home. He sent people to me. They would call, message, and jump through all the hoops required to safely visit me in order to receive prayer. Even in my sickness, I prayed for others and saw God heal them.
In other ways, I grew worse. A reaction to peanuts almost killed me that year, and then I began reacting to the cold outdoors and cold items I touched. Cooking became a literal pain because my hands broke out in welts whenever I handled food that had been in the refrigerator. Life happened. I experienced an emotional trauma. My husband didn’t get the promotion he’d been working for since before we’d married. Finances were tight. My son suffered reactions of his own. Things were hard, plain and simple.
Depression nearly swallowed me whole in January 2015. I disconnected from my blog and all social media and spent a lot of time sleeping and staring blankly at the ceiling. But the Spirit of God hovered over me, ministering to me, nourishing me back to mental health. When I was strong enough, I reclined in bed and began to write what would become my first book, Eleora. By the second re-write, I was able to sit. By the end of the third, I was ready to reconnect with my friends on social media.
God spoke to me when the book was complete. “Seek community,” he said. I began with church, which was a disaster. If you have sensitivities to fragrances, church is a minefield. If you wear a mask, you feel like Bubble Boy every time you go out in public. There was also that Sunday I reacted to the air conditioning. That was fun. Church, for me, wasn’t the answer. But I found the answer by going to church.
I’d heard of a group of people who met during the early service to pray. By the time I checked into the group, they no longer met on Sunday mornings, but the leader invited me to attend a Friday night meeting in someone’s home. There would be food and lots of people. It was a risk, but I took it. Brandon drove me, in case something happened.
This group took me in, loved me, and ministered to me. During a prayer session just before Thanksgiving in November 2015, I had a powerful encounter with God that led to a miraculous measure of healing. Symptom after symptom disappeared. By May of 2016, there was no trace of mast cell anything in my body.
And yet, I’m not completely well. Today, I still suffer from food sensitivities, though they’re relatively mild, seasonal allergies, and seasonal depression. I see a rheumatologist for joint pain and stiffness. Thankfully, I haven’t been diagnosed with another incurable disease, and I don’t plan to be, but my doctor suspects we’re looking at the early stages of one. I take a daily probiotic, a daily Claritin tablet, and full-spectrum hemp oil for pain, sleep support, and mild anxiety. I function best on a Whole 30 diet, regular exercise, and 8 hours of sleep. But then again, who doesn’t?
Healing continues. It wasn’t long ago that I finally faced down the wounds of childhood sexual abuse. I decided to improve my relationships and sought coaching in boundaries and communication and earned certification with The Color Code to become an Interpersonal Skills Trainer. Major pain and disappointments occur regularly, bringing with them fresh wounds, but none of these things prevent me from serving God and living the powerful life he’s called me to. Rather, they drive me straight to the source of my strength—his heart—and that’s where I would like to lead you.
Throughout my journey with chronic illness, I’ve learned that intimacy with God is non-negotiable, and from that intimacy he will lead me to the tools I need to do what he’s called me to do. I love tools, and I have a lot of them!
I offer mentoring in intimacy with Jesus, natural health, eating plans, cooking with food restrictions, boundaries, relationships, life-management, and how to make a great cup of coffee (or herbal tea). If you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, I’m your girl!
Even if we never receive complete healing on this side of eternity, a joyful, powerful, abundant life is available to us in Christ Jesus. God can use you to further his kingdom. Right now. Where you are. Regardless of your health.
Take my hand, and walk this road with me. I can’t wait to work with you and know you better!
Wholeness is a Person, and that Person is Jesus Christ. He alone is the embodiment of the Hebrew definition of shalom, which is defined as “complete, safe, sound, well, healthy, prosperous, peaceful, quiet, tranquil, content, having healthy relationships with others and covenant relationship with God, whole”. Nothing broken, nothing missing. If Jesus is wholeness, we can’t be whole outside of proximity to him. That proximity is only received through faith in him and his finished work on the cross.
Jesus wants you to be whole. He wanted you to be whole before you knew you were broken. He paid for your wholeness with his blood. This isn’t a light matter to him. He didn’t die to simply save you from hell; he died to give you abundant life. God is for you like no one else is for you. Wholeness is your destiny, your birthright as God’s reborn child.
Jesus wants you to co-labor with him for your wholeness. He has equipped you with his Holy Spirit to know him and to hear his voice. He offers us an array of tools that help us to connect with him and grants us wisdom to use them effectively.
Your wholeness isn’t about you. It’s about God’s goodness and glory, which is the very reason wholeness is possible. So many voices today tell us to pursue healing because we are worthy. And we are. Jesus said so loud and clear on the cross. But our pursuit of healing is a pursuit of God, which has very little to do with our worthiness and everything to do with his. Jesus deserves your wholeness. The stakes are high, my friend. When we connect to Jesus, we become whole. When we become whole, we show the world who God is. Our very lives become living revelation. Your wholeness may be the key to someone else’s wholeness. Pursue it by pursuing God. Your life and the lives of those you love depend on it.