Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Herr Olsen
"No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light." ~ Luke 11:33
Last week was a big week for me, and I wasn't quiet about it. Almost every day, I posted (to Facebook) some major event, a mile marker on my road to recovery.
On Tuesday, I took a walk in the cold with my little man while Sara was in her dance lesson. Within 25 minutes, I developed a headache and felt I was on the verge of a "crash." I hadn't really planned on a crash or what I would do in the event of one. It was just me and the kids a full half hour from home. But as I warmed up in the car, I said a quick prayer. The headache cleared. I could move my arms again with ease. As a bonus, on that same trip I was exposed to Lysol, and didn't have a major reaction. Believe me when I say this is BIG.
On Wednesday, I pumped gas. I couldn't remember the last time I'd done such a thing. Nor could I remember which side of the car the gas tank was on. Nor how to operate the credit card machine at the pump. But I figured it out. Brandon had admonished me to wear my mask and gloves. I did and had no problems. It made me feel like a grown up again.
On Thursday, this happened...
The last movie I had seen in a theater was Les Miserables in December 2012, and I left that feature violently ill. Fast forward to January 7, 2016. We see STAR WARS, and I leave the theater in perfect health! I wore my mask on the way in and out of the theater and during the first half hour or so while people were eating. The theater wasn't crowded, it being the first showing of the day during the middle of the week three weeks after the movie's release. With plenty of space between me and my fellow movie goers, I was able able to enjoy most of the film mask free.
Only a few months ago, I doubted I would ever enjoy another movie in the theater. Which was a shame because before I got sick, movie dates were "our thing."
What I didn't post to Facebook is what happened after the movie...
Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Daniella Segura
An Encounter with my Arch Nemesis
Several triggers have tried to kill me over the years, but nothing has come as close to success as "The Peanut."
Back in 2013, I tried to make a healthy peanut butter for the kids. Big mistake. That little experiment sent me to the brink of death. I struggled to breathe, my blood pressure dropped, I couldn't think or communicate, and my body temperature plummeted to 94.1 degrees. I thought I would meet Jesus that day.
Since then, I've had a couple of freak reactions to peanuts. Once, when I went through a frozen custard drive-thru. Another time when I kissed the kids after they'd eaten frozen custard. (Custard became a cuss word in this house, as you can imagine.)
Peanuts don't mess around. They carry a fine dust which easily disperses in the air and settles on things like napkins, custard cups, and hard surfaces. Trace amounts are enough to trigger the sensitive and allergic, and the reaction can be severe. Bad stuff goes down when peanuts and I are in the same room.
When it became clear that God was healing me, Brandon and I agreed we wouldn't experiment with triggers which have caused shock reactions. Secretly, I asked God to allow an accident to occur with each shock trigger, but only when my body was ready for it.
God answered my prayer sooner than expected.
After the movie on Thursday, B went into the hardware store where we buy local honey. At the entrance is a massive drum of peanuts in the shell. The honey shelf is right next to it. As are the paper bags.
Brandon returned to the car and placed our paper bag of honey in the backseat. Five minutes later, my face and tongue began to swell and my thinking went all...swimmy.
I swore. Because I knew what it was and I thought it was going to be bad and we had just been on our first date in three years and it was going to end in an emergency. Or so I thought.
Brandon pulled over. I took my rescue meds. Brandon treated me. And I was fine.
Usually, peanut reactions continue to worsen over the course of a half hour, and it takes me a week to recover. Brandon skipped hunting that evening to keep watch over me. I kept smiling at him, assuring him I was okay. I told him about my secret prayer.
God wouldn't have let that happen before I was ready. He doesn't give good gifts just to yank them out of our hands.
The timing of this little accident was so perfect. It happened before I shared a meal with my prayer group last Friday, which gave me extra confidence even though they were careful to accommodate me. More importantly, it happened before the White As Snow Gala for Project 41, which I will attend on the 22nd.
(Purchase your tickets here.)
Now we know--even if the worst case scenario happens I'm not going to die. Brandon will be able to relax and enjoy instead of worrying about me the whole time. To an extent. And I'll be brave enough to try the food after all these weeks of asking God to allow me to eat it without issue.
(I'll let you know how that goes.)
Sharing the Light
I realize my constant praise reports may annoy some of my FB friends. I get it. Ecstatically happy people can be irritating. My sick friends may think to themselves, "What about me?" Been there, done that. I know exactly how you feel.
But after carefully cataloging the descent, it would be seriously neglectful not to document the rise. Don't you think?
My heart is to encourage. For four years, I've been a walking reminder that life can go terribly wrong. That joy can be found in the midst heartache when you lean into Jesus. Now I'd like to be a walking reminder that God hears and answers prayer. I want to be a parable of resurrection. So I continue to display my candle on a lampstand that others may see the light. I pray others will join me with their own healing stories.
Original image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Esteban Chiner
Healing is Contagious
The people who have walked with me through the darkness are the most affected by the light. Maybe more so than me. When you've watched your wife/child/mother/friend fighting for her life against a supposedly incurable, progressive disease, it does something to you when the tragedy is rewritten with hope.
My doctor and friend, Carolyne Yakaboski, often shakes her head in wonder. My parents grin over my latest experiments. Fear loosens its grip on my Superman as he learns to trust and believe. Sara asks me to take her to Sonic so she can play on the playground.
"Soon," I say.
But Micah...oh, man.
Micah is a sensitive kid. He doesn't always show his emotions (as opposed to Sara who wears her heart on her sleeve and wants everyone to participate in whatever she's feeling at the moment). But he feels deeply. Mom reminded me the other day that Micah was adjusting to a baby sister when I got sick. That's a lot of life change for a sensitive little guy.
Micah has only a couple of memories of me when I was well. He has lots of memories of me in bed. Of being passed around from caretaker to caretaker. Of my absence. He'll be seven next month. I've been sick for over half his life.
The other day when I told him I would start picking him up from school some days, a gap-toothed smile spread across his face. Tears filled his eyes until one slipped out and ran down the side of his freckled nose. "You made me cry, Mama."
"Does that make you happy?" I clarified.
He nodded, and I kissed that little nose.
Not long ago, he told my mom with wide, serious eyes, "God has finally heard our prayers."
Lately, he's been praying for other sick people we know with confidence. He believes. And he's been...I don't know. Happier. Almost as happy as when he was a baby.
Mom and I talked as we watched the kids play one day last week. "This is going to stay with him his whole life," she said. "He'll never forget what God did for you. It will shape his relationship with Him forever."
My story probably won't have the same impact on you as it does on my husband and son. But because there's a chance it will shape your view of our good, good Father...
This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine
"Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house." (Matthew 5:15)