As September comes and goes each year I find myself reflecting on my life with chronic illness. 13 years ago, this month, my body experienced a drastic change. The anniversary causes me to reflect on the trial I’ve been called to but mostly God’s goodness and grace to me in the pain and loss. I’m reminded of the day when I tried to go for my usual run and my body told me I couldn’t (and haven’t since), of black outs that caused me to sit on the floor in the grocery store with my head down wondering if things would ever be the same, of fatigue so intense that moving my arms felt nearly impossible. I’m reminded of how in those first months of marriage I went from a vibrant bride to a weak wife wondering what my purpose was. I struggled, especially early on, wondering how I could ever serve the Lord with my life and He was quick to show me that I was bringing Him glory when I joyfully persevered and pressed into Him. Even when my body didn’t allow me to get out of bed I had the opportunity to testify of His power in weakness and to bring Him glory with a heart of thankfulness (even though sadly there are plenty of times my heart battles for a posture of thanksgiving). Truthfully the overarching memories are of the Lord’s constant care and provision. Whether through a promise of truth from His word, my loving faithful husband, an understanding and praying friend, a Gospel rich song washing over me, a kind insightful Dr, my mom driving an hour to fold my mountains of laundry, or the Lord’s comforting presence, I am cared for and it’s humbling. My shepherd isn’t going to let this weak sheep wander away or fall behind, even if He has to carry me. I’m reminded of God’s kindness to me as He keeps my heart from bitterness and anger and promises to perfect the work He’s doing in me (Phil 1:6). He is gracious. There are many days when I think of the hopeless mess I’d be apart from Him. His patience and gentleness in the midst of my questions and doubts is pure abounding grace and I praise Him for it. I love how He grows my faith through those shaky times and makes me more aware that He is the rock I’m standing on. Friends, He is GOOD. So on this 13th anniversary, instead of mourning my losses I am declaring that He is gracious and powerful, a God of comfort who is quick to forgive and eager to speak if we will press into Him and allow Him to reign over us.
One of my favorite quotes by Charles Spurgeon is one I think of weekly, sometimes daily. It’s easy to forget in the midst of trials and suffering that we are exactly where the Lord would have us to be. He is doing a good work, even when it doesn’t look or feel that way. His loving hand prunes us, allowing us to bear fruit. This quote has become engrained in me, it’s a part of the way I process and think about my circumstances. After sharing it with a friend yesterday I was reminded that I should post it here.
“Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.” ~Charles Spurgeon
The context of this quote, one of Spurgeon’s “Evening” devotionals, is just as rich, reassuring and comforting to the hurting and feeble soul.
“Believer, if your inheritance be a lowly one you should be satisfied with your earthly portion; for you may rest assured that it is the fittest for you. Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. A ship of large tonnage is to be brought up the river; now, in one part of the stream there is a sandbank; should some one ask, “Why does the captain steer through the deep part of the channel and deviate so much from a straight line?” His answer would be, “Because I should not get my vessel into harbour at all if I did not keep to the deep channel.” So, it may be, you would run aground and suffer shipwreck, if your divine Captain did not steer you into the depths of affliction where waves of trouble follow each other in quick succession. Some plants die if they have too much sunshine. It may be that you are planted where you get but little, you are put there by the loving Husbandman, because only in that situation will you bring forth fruit unto perfection. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances, and if you had the choosing of your lot, you would soon cry, “Lord, choose my inheritance for me, for by my self-will I am pierced through with many sorrows.” Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good. Take up your own daily cross; it is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective to make you perfect in every good word and work to the glory of God. Down busy self, and proud impatience, it is not for you to choose, but for the Lord of Love!
‘Trials must and will befall-
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all;
This is happiness to me.'”
It’s been many months since I’ve updated or posted. I am in a season of life where almost all energy the Lord grants is poured out into the care of my sweet family. I’m tired and extremely foggy, but truly thankful. The Lord impressed on me a sense of purpose in suffering at an early age. I was born with 2 heart malformations. At the age of 2 I had one of the malformations, a coarctation of the aorta, surgically repaired. Without the surgery I would’ve only lived into my teenage years. In the future I may need a 2nd surgery on my aortic valve which has 2 cusps/leaflets instead of 3. I realized as a young child that the Lord was incredibly merciful when he granted my first surgery a success. When I was baptized at the age of 15 I remember thinking, “He must have a plan for me.” Little did I know that much of His plan for me would be to keep me fully reliant on Him for the strength and grace for each day. My health struggles multiplied into adulthood beginning with a mono infection at the age of 23, just months into marriage. I now battle with POTS, Chronic fatigue, allergies/asthma, chronic migraines, seasons of anxiety, insomnia, neck/shoulder pain, etc. After living in this reliant position for many years I must say that although it’s very difficult and my sinful heart wants to fight against it at times, living humbly and fully reliant is a wonderfully refreshing place to be. Where else can I be and see daily displays of His grace, strength and resulting peace? At the age of 35 now, I see all the more clearly that in my weakness, He is faithful and uses weakness/trials for my good and to remind me of my helplessness. He is so gracious and knows my heart better than I do. He knows that I constantly need to be reminded that I have no strength apart from Him and that He is glorified in my weakness.
Last night I read this devotion from Susannah Spurgeon. Her words resonated with me.
“My blessed Lord, how tender and pitiful are you to me! What a delight it is to tell of your mercy and grace to one so unworthy! Yet it is no singular story, for this is your sweet way and will, dear Lord, towards all who put their trust in you. When depression and sadness come to me, by reason of the sin within, or the discouragements without; when the thorns and briers of daily cares and vexations prick and tear the weary pilgrim’s feet and hands; then you turn my footsteps to where the pines and myrtles of your loving mercies grow, and in their shelter and fragrance my troubled spirit finds rest.
No, more than this, dear Lord, your power is so great that you sometimes transform the very things that hurt and grieved me into means of grace and blessing to my heart and life. Disappointments in my work, obstacles to its performance, the estrangement of friends, conscious incompetence and weakness, and often an overpowering sense of deepening responsibility — these experiences are all like thorns and briers, which irritate and worry by their persistent and close contact; yet all these vanish when you, my gracious God, give the word, and I wonder as I find myself walking peacefully among the fir trees, where the pine needles lie thick upon the ground, spreading the softest of carpets under my tired feet; and where the myrtle’s snowy blossoms and glossy leaves promise perfume and sweetness even to those who bruise them. Your ways, O Lord, are past finding out, but they are very gracious and tender; and this turning of seeming evil into good, of making your children’s trials grow into triumphs, and their pains into pleasures, is a wonderful proof both of your pity and your power.
‘It shall be to the Lord for a name.’ My Father, can this be really so? Does your great Name receive added glory when you thus manifest your sovereignty on my behalf? When I come to the next sharp thorn hedge in my path, will it honour you if, instead of trying to force my way through it, and getting wounded for my pains — or attmepting to avoid it by some roundabout course, and plunging deeper into the thicket, I should just calmly sit down before it, and pray, and wait for you to wither it up, or turn it into a myrtle grove? Yes, I believe it will, and I seek faith and grace from you to do constantly this otherwise impossible thing. Past mercies and deliverances should strengthen me to expect yet greater displays of your marvellous love. Dear Lord, when troubles come, I should like to learn to look upon them as ways and means of glorifying you, to accept them as tests and trials of my faith, and to meet them with a brave heart, expecting the salvation of God!
Courage, my soul! Your God will give you grace to say as did his servant Paul, ‘Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me’.”
Oh how I pray Lord that your “great Name will indeed receive added glory when you thus manifest your sovereignty on my behalf.” Your power is indeed so great that you “transform the very things that hurt and grieved me into means of grace and blessing to my heart and life.” What a great and merciful God you are!
Sweet Ivy turns 1 on the 31st and we are all remembering this day last year when the Lord poured out this little blessing on our family. It’s truly hard to believe that a year has already come and gone. Oh what a joy this little one is. If we had to choose one word to describe her it would be “sweet.” She’s also joyful, curious, funny, and we just can’t get enough of her!
As with Lillian, we took pictures of her each month (and each week at the beginning). Here she is… =)
We love you Ivy Susannah Goad and praise God for your life!!!!!
Whew, a lot has happened since my last post! We were able to take a trip to Duck, NC thanks to a generous family from church who gave us there timeshare week. We had SUCH a great time together and found it extremely relaxing. (Thankful!!) When we got back we celebrated Lillian’s 4th Birthday. I just can’t believe my sweet girl is already 4! Ivy is changing and growing quickly. She continues to overwhelm us with her sweetness and joy.
I’m continuing to battle continuous migraines, but thankfully I’m on a preventative medication now that is helping them to be less severe (it’s especially helped the nausea). It’s still difficult though having one most days. I’m currently on a hypoallergenic diet (read more about it here) to see if any of my symptoms are food allergy related. Unfortunately, so far I haven’t noticed any changes, but it’s good to at least hopefully rule that out. The diet has been sanctifying as I am only eating Free range chicken, a shortened list of fruits and veggies, rice, lentils and quinoa. (Oh how I’d love a cup of coffee or a bite of chocolate!) This makes my breakfasts and late night snacks look pretty interesting at times. =) (I’ve been caught nibbling on roasted chicken, or a bowl of carrots late at night, ha!) I often eat sweet potatoes for breakfast now which I’m starting to get used to.
The Lord is continuing to pour out His grace, strength and perspective during this trial. Keith is serving me really well, especially with this diet as I’m constantly preparing foods since nothing can be “processed.” He’s been helping a lot in the kitchen and I’m very thankful for how He’s loving me in this.
The girls are doing really well…
Lillian will be 4 in April and is a bundle of energy and joy. She is simply hilarious and is developing quite the sense of humor. I often hear her say, “I’m just telling a joke on you!” after saying something funny. She keeps us laughing for sure. I prayed from the beginning of motherhood that my children would have merciful hearts towards those who are weak as they grow up with a mom with a chronic illness. By God’s grace, we are beginning to see fruits of these prayers as Lillian is a very merciful and caring child.
Ivy is just about 6 months old and I just can’t believe it. I keep trying to freeze her in this precious baby stage but it’s just not working! =) Ivy can be described quite well in one word and that’s “sweet.” She is a very easy going girl with an almost constant smile. She’s starting to belly laugh and it makes us all laugh. Oh what a joy she is!
Ok, finally, some pictures….. =)
This Christmas was different for me. Although Christmas is always a time of hope, and joy is found in that hope, it can also be a time when things that aren’t right about this world come to the surface and cause grief. For me, my battle with migraines was at the forefront as I have had one more often than not now for about 2 months. Because of this I’ve been, for the most part, laying low. I did our Christmas shopping online and somehow avoided most of the glitter, and often times confusing messages that come with this season. I had very little exposure to the world’s messages of Christmas and in many ways found my soul much more prepared to worship the king, born for us. The trial in which I find myself has granted me a clear message. I need a Savior! (Talk about a timely Christmas message!) This is obviously not a new message, but oh so clear and helpful. The physical suffering I’ve been experiencing has been doing 3 things in me.
1. The suffering is keeping me reliant. I need the Lord to help me to persevere. I need Him to strengthen and to grant perspective. The continuous migraines are helping me to walk minute by minute, hand in hand with Christ. I need a Savior!
2. The suffering is spotlighting my sin. It doesn’t take much time when you’re feeling terribly to realize that you are sinful. I’ve battled with anger, frustration, impatience, and the list goes on. By God’s grace and help by the Holy Spirit, I pray that this sin is being uprooted! I need a Savior!
3. The suffering is helping me to cry out for/long for my Savior. My body and soul are crying out to be saved from this broken world. I am longing for heaven and for my Savior to take me there. Come Lord Jesus, come quickly! I need a Savior!
1 Peter 1:3-9 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”