Missing In Action


The saga continues.

Almost five years ago, within months of becoming a newlywed, I began to feel sick. Flu like. Tired. Nauseated. Dizzy. Headaches. At first I wondered if I could be pregnant. I mean, it would have taken a miracle, but God had already done that putting Brendan and me together. We would have welcomed a baby.

I took a test. Negative.

That was okay. We had enough adjustments to make without adding a pregnancy and newborn to the list. But my “sickness” didn’t diminish. In fact, it became worse. We took a trip to Disneyland, and I had to be pushed in a wheelchair because I didn’t have the strength to walk or even stand in line. It was a little overwhelming and discouraging. And I became sicker. Until I could barely crawl out of bed on most days.

Eventually, we discovered we had mold growing in our house.IMG_4523

A lot of mold. One of the giveaways was how I would feel better when I was out of the house for long periods of time. When the landlord finally decided to address the issues we presented (mushrooms growing in the bathroom for example), they tore open a small section of the bathroom wall and discovered everything was covered in black mold. They tore out more, more mold, etc. Until the bathroom was gutted, as was the laundry and the floor under the kitchen. Many months of cleaning, a long story of homelessness and two years of a law suit later, we seem to have arrived in the same place.

Seriously?

For the first two years of living in our current house, I was finally becoming healthy again. Yay! Then, a year ago November my “illness” returned. I felt similar to that first year in what we “affectionately” call “the mold house.” But there were no visible signs. No musty smells. We had some leaking faucets and a pretty substantial crack in our shower that seemed a potential for mold, but with no clear evidence, we passed it off as winter colds, and me pushing myself too hard in a busy life. Stresses contributed. Family loss and troubles with a couple of our kids. You know. The usual stuff. But I became more ill. A plumber finally fixed the leaks and “sealed” the crack in the shower. Never mind the now obvious water marks on the ceiling below said shower. I became sicker. I started a symptoms log. In addition to the first illness symptoms, there were others. Awful itching, blistering rashes, choking congestion, stomach pain.

I went to doctors.

One said I had rheumatoid arthritis even though I had no common symptoms and blood tests were clear. More blood tests. No clear diagnosis. A friend recommended a naturopathic doctor who ended up being a life saver. Through diet, rest and supplements I began to feel like life was returning. But not fully. I can’t seem to get past the 75-80% mark. I still need a nap each day. I’m tired, dizzy and have headaches often. I can’t exercise or be around too many people at once without exhaustion setting in. Or if I can, I end up paying the next day.

Then our son broke out in a terrible rash.

With no known cause, he had hives from head to toe and ended up having an emergency room visit one night after vomiting, fainting and shaking. He now has to use an inhaler before exercise for allergy induced bronchial spasms. Our daughter became ill with sore throats and extreme fatigue (okay so she’s a teenaged girl, but still…). Brendan and I hated to think it, but the only common thread was the dreaded mold. Next door, construction of a new apartment complex had been going on since November where they had torn down a few very old buildings. Could that have contributed as well? Now we noticed two growing water stains on our bedroom ceiling…

We finally did mold testing last week.

I guess its good and bad when you hope for the answer to be positive for something. You hope to have an answer. But you dread the answer. We have mold growing in our house. No wonder we have all struggled this year feeling terrible. We’re still waiting for the detailed test results.

After hours of research, I found information about essential oils killing mold.

Natures Mold Rx by Dr. Ed Close, explained through numerous case studies how mold had been eradicated in buildings and homes by diffusing a blend of essential oils over long periods of time. I felt hopeful for the first in a long time. Within a week, I had two diffusers going – one upstairs and one down – in an effort to bring health to our home. At first, it seemed to help. After blasting our air for eight hours, we were breathing a little better. I stopped having choking fits at night. Our kids felt better. But then I quit running the diffusers all the time. I decreased it to a few hours, a couple of times per day. This week I’ve not felt well at all. Same symptoms again.

Discouragement set in.

As of this writing, we are wondering about moving. About how to deal with our landlord. Again. About cleaning our things and finding a house free of mold. It’s a daunting and exhausting situation. One that I keep reminding myself God has an answer for.

I’ve learned so much this past year and a half of illness. I’m grateful for all the Lord has taught me, shown me, and how I’ve learned to rest in him. But I’m also ready to move on. I long to be healthy and active again. To take a walk and make dinner without feeling done in. I thought this week of my blogger friend Bill, and wondered how I could even think of complaining when he has such an amazing attitude while being in his constant state of illness. He wrote a great blog recently about purpose. I’m thankful for the challenge in my perspective. I also want to act with wisdom where I can take steps in faith to act.

I write this because it has been hugely encouraging me to read about other people’s stories. To discover I’m not crazy, nor suffering alone. And to say thanks for being with me…

Have you experienced any of the same situations?

Getting Well Series – How Do You Rebuild Your Life?


There’s a book in the Bible about a man named Nehemiah. 

Corinth, Greece
Corinth, Greece

He was brokenhearted over the fact that the city of Jerusalem was in ruins, and after praying to God about it, he embarked on a mission to rebuild the walls.

I love this story for a number of reasons. 

First of all, I’m moved that someone saw devastation and cared enough to find out how he could help. I feel this way when I hear stories of people whose lives have been ruined. Maybe it was destroyed by a natural disaster, or because of another person’s selfish action, or even by their own poor choices, but whatever the reason, the ruins of someone’s life solicit a compassionate longing to help them rebuild.

I think that’s how God feels about us.

Secondly, I love that Nehemiah took action. After he grieved for a city that lay in ruins, he asked God to help him and then set out to obtain permission, supplies and a group of people to rebuild the city even though he “was very much afraid.” The king granted him all the time and supplies he needed.

God gives us time and what we need to rebuild. He’s patient.

Next, it encourages me that Nehemiah didn’t give up, even when his group came up against so much opposition. A local official ridiculed and tormented the people, asking them what they thought they were doing. Lies were flung at them to convince them that their efforts were in vain, that their attempts were feeble and inadequate. Too much was ruined. The rubble couldn’t be reclaimed for a purpose.

I’ve heard those same lies so many times.

At one point in my life, I was exhausted from working to hold together my marriage and my family. My strength was giving out because of unresolved daily conflicts, and my determination to stay married in spite of a horribly dysfunctional situation. My children were showing the effects of living under the strain in our home. I was certain that the “rubble” was too much to wade through. Nothing seemed salvageable.

So God showed me this story about Nehemiah.

Finally, I love the story because God has a plan for rebuilding. As I studied Nehemiah’s situation, I saw some applications for my life. For me the plan looked like this:

  1. Fight for my family even if it meant doing things that seemed to tear us apart. I had to separate from my ex-husband for a time in order to allow us to deal with issues. Pulling out of most of our activities became necessary so we could focus on our family.
  2. Concentrate on what God wanted to change in me. Allow God to heal me and leave my husband and marriage in His hands. Success for me would depend on what God did in my life.
  3. Set up a guard against the things that crept in to hurt my relationships with God and my children. For me those things were fatigue, busyness, not making time for them, and trying to figure everything out without seeking God.
  4. Put God ahead of my marriage. I had been setting my desire for the “perfect “marriage ahead of God. I compromised truth in order to keep peace. My fear caused me to push aside things God tried to tell me even when they would have helped me.
  5. Be aware of Satan’s plot to destroy our family. I had to choose to fight for the well-being of myself and my children even when the enemy told me to give up because it wouldn’t be worth it. Recognizing the lies of the enemy is imperative, but not always easy. We have to be so alert. Nehemiah had the people keep a weapon in one hand while they built with the other.

Rebuilding our lives can be scary.

We can’t see all that lies ahead. It’s like driving on the darkest road or in dense fog at night. Our headlights only shine far enough for us to keep moving. We drive as far as we can see, and as we drive, the path is illuminated ahead of us.

Rebuilding happens one day at a time.

We can’t look too far ahead or worry about what will come. Instead we have to trust God to provide what we need for that day. When I look ahead and start to worry about the future, God asks

Do you have what you need today?

The answer is always “yes.” I always have what I need today. When the next day comes, I have what I need again. Nothing surprises God. He’s already seen all of our life and has a great plan for it. We can trust him to bring restoration to every area of our lives. He can make us well if we want to get well.

How is God rebuilding your life? Check out lostcompanion who is tenaciously rebuilding hers…

Getting Well Part 3 – The Choices We Make


When we’re accustomed to living broken lives, how do we learn to make healthy choices?DSC_0059

I began by evaluating each area of my life and asking myself and God if the situation was the best God had for me. At that particular time. In that exact way. Until then, I hadn’t been in the habit of asking what God had for me because I was used to taking on anything and everything that seemed acceptable.

It was amazing how many things received a “no” answer.

Sure, some situations seemed a little obvious to me like: not keeping a bottle of wine in my refrigerator (I had struggled with alcoholism), or not spending time talking to the attractive, single man at church (since my marriage then was in trouble), but to other areas, I was oblivious.

Like: How bad could it be for me to volunteer for everything at church??

Actually, pretty bad. I was worn out with activities, mostly at church, because I didn’t know how to say no. I felt obligated to do anything anyone asked. I feared their disappointment, anger or disapproval. God wanted me to see that though he has something for everyone, not everything is for me. I knew I shouldn’t worry about the approval of people, but I had always lived to please others. I didn’t know any other way.

I hated to let people down.

Truthfully, because of choices to make changes in my life, some of my friendships changed. I mourned the loss, but suddenly saw where some of my relationships were lacking in depth. I also began to see that when I stepped out of something, or said “not this time,” it opened a place for someone else to participate or serve.

Even good activities can be bad if they aren’t the best for you.

I had to choose to give up things that weren’t adding to my life in positive ways. Even seemingly good things. I discovered that if some situation was good, but the timing wasn’t fitting, it wasn’t the best for me. How did I know? Gut instinct. A little whisper in my heart that said “not this one” or “give this up.”

At one point, I struggled to give up a sports activity that took a tremendous amount of my time and energy. I loved playing hockey, coaching my kids and helping on the board, but deep down I knew the situation wasn’t the best for me or my family. When I asked a friend for her input, she simply asked,

What is your gut telling you?

And I knew. If I was willing to be honest with myself.

God really did have a good plan!

Part of his plan was to simplify my life so he could deal with areas that needed healing. I had used busyness as a way to numb my pain and keep from dealing with issues I couldn’t fix. I needed time to be still and listen to God which couldn’t happen running from one activity to the next while taking care of four children and a business. I needed discipline and balance to replace my pinball game life. Rest and refreshment were completely foreign to me, but necessary for my sanity and health!

Finally, I recognized my tendency to be pressed by what seemed urgent.

However, God is rarely urgent. He may be gently insistent or persistent, but the panicking voice I heard in me pushing me to say, do or acquire something right now wasn’t God. God is patient and has a specific time for everything. So, if something seemed too pressing, I learned to deliberately choose to ask God again for his direction and wait. His plans would give me the very best of life. Like my husband.

How have you learned to make better choices? What is a good choice you’ve made?