Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How Quickly Things Can Change

I've started this post probably half a dozen times before just giving up on writing it...It's definitely not for lack of trying that I haven't posted a blog recently. It's more that there are so many thoughts whirling around in my head and I just can't seem to put them onto paper (or screen =P).

I haven't just been struggling to write, I've been struggling to function.

I've started and stopped writing this post so many times. Even as I'm finally getting words down here, I still feel like I can't put into words how things have been going these past few weeks.

This year has been beyond a gift after the way it started. In case you don't remember, I started off 2016 with a week long hospital admission due to a mast cell reaction that we couldn't get under control at home. I had just chosen VICTORY as my OneWord for 2016, but found myself fighting a losing battle to my mast cells not even a full week into the year.

I remember wondering what this year was going to look at when we were faced with uncontrolled mast cells and few answers. I was physically and mentally exhausted and we didn't really have any direction to go. I was desperate to believe that things could improve, but really didn't have much indication that they would. And yet...a month later, we finally got insurance approval for my Xolair injections which have turned out to be one of the most effective treatments we have tried so far for my mast cell disease.

How quickly things can change...

I am so thankful for the blessing this year has been so far! After the rough start, I never expected to see things improve as much as they have this year. I've been able to eat solid food. I've been able to slowly work back to running again. I had my longest run without an EpiPen in almost 2 years. We traveled to Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, and California along with visits to my family in Virginia. And even beyond all the traveling, Nick and I were able to build some semblance of "normal" where our lives were not revolving around ER trips, doctors, and trying to manage uncontrolled symptoms. I was so excited going into this holiday season to be able to to actually EAT Thanksgiving dinner with my family for the first time in 3 years.

And yet we are again reminded how quickly things can change...

This blog post has been a long time in coming because these past few weeks I have been desperately holding on to the "health" that has grown over the course of the past 10 months. Instead of being able to function the way I have been since starting the Xolair, we're seeing symptoms reappear that have been gone for months and are struggling to manage my daily symptoms that used to be easily managed with my emergency medications.

How do I put into words the feeling of losing things I've already lost once, AGAIN?

It was one thing to lose the ability to eat solid food once. But to regain it this year only to lose it again a few months later...somehow it feels so much more difficult...And running...I fought so hard to be able to run again! To put one foot in front of the other without having to think about every individual movement. I worked. so. hard. And now I'm back to being almost unable to stand for any period of time without practically collapsing or passing out. How do I even begin to describe what it feels like as I look at how far I have come this year and to be watching, seemingly in slow motion, all the progress coming crashing down around me??

Don't get me wrong. I am SO THANKFUL for the health I have had this year. It has been an incredible gift that we had no idea was coming at the beginning of this year. And I mean it when I say that if this gift was for these past 10 months and that's it, then we are thankful to have had this time of blessing. But that doesn't mean that I don't sit and cry in pain and fear and exhaustion as I watch what I slowly regained over the course of the year slip away...again...

I just got home from being admitted for 4 days. We tried so hard to manage things at home, but with 4 ER trips in less than 2 weeks, we knew that we were fighting a losing battle. All of a sudden, this year feels like this year is ending almost how it began...Uncontrolled symptoms, few answers, no direction...

Managing mast cell disease is a game of chance when things are good. But when things go wrong, it feels like a ticking time bomb of trying to catch up to snowballing symptoms before things crash hard. The majority of this year was such a stark contrast from last year...I went from losing the ability to walk to running again, I began to tolerate solid food after almost 2 years of soft foods and liquids, I saw improvements in my health that I wasn't sure I could even hope for. Yet this holiday season feels so similar to where I was last year facing progressing symptoms, few answers, and desperate for relief...

I love Thanksgiving. I want to enjoy this holiday season with family and be thankful for the year I have had. But somehow it feels so much tougher when I'm dealing with symptoms that feel like all the progress I've made is crumbling around me. I was so looking forward to being able to actually eat Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in 3 years...Now I feel like I'm facing not only NOT being able to eat anything solid again this year, but also struggling to keep the worry of whether things are getting out of control AGAIN at bay...

This time last year, I was dealing with many of the same feelings of discouragement, frustration, helplessness, exhaustion, and more along with all these familiar physical symptoms...but I didn't have a whole year of "health" to be thankful for. A year ago, I had no idea how good a year was possible...now I do, and I think that is what makes this that much more difficult. I am so so thankful for the gift and blessing this year has been, but at the same time, it makes this recurrence of symptoms so. much. harder.


I've started and stopped this post so many times because every time I try to write, the "what ifs" and questions and fears begin to swirl around in my head again. I don't want to be back where I was a year ago. I still have so so much to be thankful for...I don't want to forget that now. But when the physical symptoms become so relentless I don't get a break, I'm stuck alone with my thoughts (again)...and it can be hard to forget how quickly things can change...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Leni the Awareness Ambassador!

Leni is taking her service dog talent on the road!

We met a friend at Bible study a few weeks back who is a preschool teacher. She told me her classes were doing a week on working dogs and already had a therapy dog and police dog lined up to visit her classroom. She asked if Leni and I would be willing to come and talk about service dogs. Obviously we said YES or there would be no reason for me to blog!

Leni and I had so much fun! We got to spend about half an hour with each class and talk a little bit about what it means to be a service dog and what Leni does for me. I showed them what Leni carries in her packs and how I use the pull cord for balance when I need it. Leni demonstrated some of her tasks for the kids, such as "find my phone" and "get my EpiPen."

We showed them how she focuses on me even when it's loud and crazy and ways we can move through crowded areas without taking up tons of space. We go to show how she tucks under my legs if I'm sitting or between my legs in we're waiting in line. She also showed how she will lie across my lap if I'm sitting on the floor or put her front paws and weight on my legs if I'm in a chair to help increase blood flow and feeling in my legs when they don't want to work right.

Then, of course, we did some of her fun tricks! Leni showed them how she can bow and "sit pretty." She also weaved through my legs and was overall just so stinking cute!

At the end of our 30 minutes, all the kids got to come up and pet her. One of the boys in the second class was so so sweet with her. He was gently petting her on the head and whispering quietly to her talking about how she was such a good dog and he wished his dog was as good and that she need to keep taking care of me. It was so cute!

Thank you so much to our friend, Lisa Faluotico, for inviting us to come and spend some time with her classes! This was the first time Leni and I have been invited to talk in a classroom about service dogs, and we had a great time. It was fun for both Leni and me and the kids (at least judging from the smiles on their faces!), plus it was a great chance to raise some awareness for service dogs.


I know, you're probably thinking, they're 5 years old...how does that count for raising awareness?? Well, let me ask you, how many 5 year olds do you know that ever. stop. talking?? All the kids likely went home and told their parents and sibling about the cool dogs they met this week. Even if they don't remember the specific details, they now know what service dogs are. Plus, these 32 kids learned  not to rush up and pet a working dog they might see in a grocery store or restaurant.

They might only be 5 years old right now, but eventually they'll grow up (sorry, parents, it's true!). There are some childhood memories that just stick with us. I remember the ONE time our basset hound came to church wearing a t-shirt for a specific children's church skit. I barely remember much else about that church building or what was done in children's church, but I do remember that. It's not often dogs come to school, so these are memories that may stick with these kids. Maybe when they're in middle or high school, a classmate will have a service dog and all of a sudden, they'll remember learning about Leni back when they were in preschool.

I've said many times that we don't always get to choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose how we respond. I certainly didn't choose to have mast cell disease, but I do get to decide how I'm going to live with it. Mast cell disease is one of almost 7000 rare diseases of which 95% (including mast cell disease) have no FDA approved treatment or cure. Without research, there's nothing that can change that. And just like everything else in this world, research is driven by funding. As a rare disease, it is that much more difficult to get funding because so few people are impacted by these conditions and not many more even know about them.

There's no chance of treatments or cures being developed without research, no research without funding, and no funding without awareness. Obviously I'm not able to be in the lab doing the research, and unfortunately I'm not independently wealthy...but I do have a voice. And that's how I'm choosing to live with mast cell disease. I could be upset that my life isn't going as planned or get stuck mourning the life I had, but that accomplishes nothing. Instead, I'm choosing to use the platform I've been given to speak up. For me and thousands of others living with mast cell disease so that we can continue to hope that one day a treatment or cure will be found. For the thousands of kids and adults who will hopefully not have to wait 8 years for a diagnosis being told along the way they are making everything up. For the families who have to watch helplessly as we suffer with symptoms and there is nothing they can do. I might not be able to do a lot, but I can speak out.

And that's one of the reasons I enjoy even what seem like small things, like sharing about service dogs with a preschool class. Maybe one of those kids will grow up to cure mast cell disease...or another rare disease...Maybe one will become a doctor who recognizes the potential of a service dog for a patient...or maybe these kids will just grow up realizing that having a service dog or disability doesn't make a person weird or someone to be avoided...And if that's the case, that's enough.

So, like I said, Leni's going on tour! We're sharing our story through fluffy poodle snuggles, ear licks, and altogether cuteness along with educating about what service dogs can do and what life is like with mast cell disease. Let me know if you would like us to come and share about service dogs or mast cell disease and be another stop on our awareness tour!

Monday, November 7, 2016

More Appointments...My Favorite!

I was looking over my past few posts, and it actually looks like I haven't had any doctor's appointments lately. Well, if you were thinking that, unfortunately, you'd be mistaken =P In case you weren't aware, I spend about an hour (sometimes more) at my allergist's office every other week. This is so I can get my Xolair injections. I usually see my doctor for at least a few minutes, but most of my time is spent with the nurses who give the injections. Even still, this still feels like I see my doctor and nurses WAY too often. Add onto that, actual appointments where I get to sit down and spend time discussing test results, scheduling new tests, discussing concerns, tweaking medications, etc. PLUS going for blood work, doing said testing, and whatever else needs done...sometimes it just feels like I never escape!

Smiles on our way to yet another doctor!
This past Monday was one of those sit-down appointments with my allergist where I was able to talk with my doctor for more than a few minutes. We had a good bit of stuff to chat about, so I had been waiting for this appointment for a couple of weeks. He also decided to do some breathing tests, so I had to do that before my appointment, and it was a Xolair day so on top of that, the nurse was in and out of my appointment giving me my injection. It was a busy morning!

Nothing much is changing on the allergy front right now. We may be adding another mast cell stabilizer to see if that helps as my GI issues have been a bit worse in the past month than they have been since starting the Xolair in February. The only challenge is that it is not readily available in the USA, so it either has to be ordered from Canada or compounded...so I have some work to do to figure this out...most of the other issues we talked about, we need to wait until I hear back from another couple of doctors before we make any final decisions, so stay tuned for that!

We also discussed some of the increased reactivity that I've been having on Xolair days. His current working theory is that when I am sitting in the waiting area with the other patients, I may be getting triggered without knowing it since my sense of smell is pretty much non-existent. Even though he is an allergist, his office is primarily a respiratory office and a number of their patients wear copious amounts of perfume and/or are smokers...basically the setting of a perfect storm for a mast cell patient. Because I pre-treat with benadryl before getting Xolair, that is likely to mask/postpone any potential reaction that then re-appears 4-6 hours later...SO, to try to avoid these possible exposures, he is going to have me skip the waiting area and wait in one of the empty treatment rooms or the shot room to hopefully avoid coming into contact with any potentially triggering fellow patients.

My second appointment for the week was with the Center for Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic that I went to for the first time in August. This has proven to be much more beneficial than I had anticipated when I first started seeing this doctor. As a functional medicine doctor, he is still a board certified legit doctor, however, his focus is on trying to determine the root cause for chronic issues to treat the source instead of just treating symptoms. He takes a more holistic view and is able to take my records from all my various doctors and hopefully come up with an effective plan treating everything as connected rather than as independent issues. He did say I was his first mast cell patient the last time I saw him, but since August he has begun reading Dr. Afrin's book (Never Bet Against Occam)! He says that while he wouldn't call himself a mast cell expert, he is feeling more equipped to help other patients that may come in with a similar presentation to my symptom patterns. Yay for awareness!

So what did we accomplish? After my appointment in August, we had done a TON of blood work and a few things came back abnormal. Since then, I've redone some of the lab tests and they were still abnormal...so we've been waiting for this appointment to go over some of that and make some decisions about what needs treated and what isn't urgent.

The main thing we discussed was my adrenal function. I've been seeing my endocrinologist for almost a year now and have had borderline low adrenal markers pretty much since we started testing. We have been holding off treating because we were hoping that the adrenal function was/is related to my mast cell reactivity and as we got my mast cells more stable, my adrenal issues would resolve. Unfortunately, after the testing in August, a few other markers of adrenal function also came back quite low, not just borderline, but actually problematic low. Paired with some of my increasing symptoms that are likely endocrine related, it appears that we have run out of time for my mast cells to stop impacting my adrenals. Yay...

At least since he is at least mast cell literate now, he understand how tricky it can be to add new medications (or anything really) into my body. Because of that, we decided to compound an unusual formulation of one needed medication in the hopes that it will reduce the risk of triggering my mast cells. I can't say I'm thrilled to be having to add another medication (especially since we're already looking into another mast cell stabilizer from my Monday appointment), but unfortunately that's just life with mast cell disease sometimes...or any chronic illness probably.

SIDE NOTE: If you also need to compound any of your medications, talk to your insurance company. I recently found out that as long as the prescribed medication is covered, the compounded form is also covered. It's a slightly higher co-pay than if I were going to a standard pharmacy, but still don't have to pay 100%. The medication we are compounding for my adrenal insufficiency is $85 for a 1 month supply (which technically would last longer since I'm starting on a lower than normal dose). Since my insurance is covering it, I have a $20 co-pay. I had NO IDEA that compounded medications were ever covered by insurance, so it's definitely worth talking to your insurance if you're in a similar boat.

Back to the appointment. As I mentioned, the focus of my functional medicine doctor is not only to treat urgent issues, but also to see if we can figure out the root cause and address that, so we're not just trying to manage symptoms but actually doing what we can to fix what is actually wrong. He said that based on his experience, there are typically 5 major causes for the onset of odd issues like I am having: genetic mutation, virus/illness, major emotional/physical/mental stress, environment, brain injury. Obviously things don't always fall into one of these 5 categories, but he has found that MOST times, the answer lies somewhere in there. We have been able to rule out 3 of the 5 for me, and are left with a possible genetic mutation and/or brain injury.

Testing for genetic mutations is a difficult process and not done without specialists involved. That is still on the table for future discussion should we need it, but for now, we have been focusing on brain injury being my potential trigger for setting everything in motion. I have had 6 concussions...my first was from a kick to the head from my horse in high school. At the time we didn't even really know it was a concussion, but based on my symptoms, it is probable that this was my first. During my 3 years in college (graduated a year early), I played soccer and swam. I also ended up with 4 more concussions...most were related to soccer, but one was due to my accident prone-ness and an unfortunate meeting of my head and a cinder block wall in my dorm room...The last concussion was only 1-2 years ago and was the result of my head and a wall meeting yet again...this time as a result of me passing out near a door frame. While there could still be some genetic issues involved, we agreed as we were discussing my history that that long-term post-concussion syndrome (which is a form of traumatic brain injury) could very well have been a major trigger for my symptom onset, especially since the timing fits.

There are certain types of brain injuries that cannot be recovered from. However, there are also a lot of new ways to re-train the brain and re-create signaling pathways that may have been damaged. There is something called the HPA axis in the body which is the neuroendocrine connection between the Hypothalamus, Pituitary, and Adrenals. The hypothalamus and pituitary are located in the brain and the adrenals are located just on top of the kidneys. This axis is responsible for a HUGE portion of what are supposed to be automatic functions in the body, such as endocrine function including hormone production and blood sugar control, water conservation, immune responses, digestion, energy storage and utilization, and stress response. Brain injuries, including concussions, can alter pathways in the brain and impact this axis and communication between these 3 neuroendocrine glands.

Based on my symptom patterns and progression, it seems likely that there may be a connection between my concussions, this HPA axis, and my ongoing health issues. My doctor feels that I may be a good candidate for seeing a functional neurologist who specializes in working with varying degrees of post-concussion syndrome and working on re-mapping pathways in the brain that may have been damaged.

Now, don't misunderstand, the purpose of this is not to "cure" me. Regardless of whether my concussions were the underlying trigger for what is going on in my body, there are somethings that we still don't really know how to address. HOWEVER, the hope is that if there are pieces of this crazy puzzle of my symptoms that are connected to post-concussion syndrome and associated issues with my HPA axis, then by working on brain re-training, those issues can be resolved and/or minimized. This will give us a better picture of what is truly mast cell driven and what is background noise. I'll still be living with and managing my mast cell disease (unless a cure is found sometime soon?!?!), but this might be able to make even that a bit easier.

So that's where we are at! I will keep you posted as we pursue this option and as we (continue to) attempt to get my crazy mast cells under control. As always, THANK YOU for all your prayers and support and encouragement. The messages, instagram comments, texts, emails, etc. never fail to make me smile (and sometimes cry) because I am reminded that I am never alone in this. Not only is God always with me, but I have an incredible network of family and friends and fellow mast cell warriors behind me and lifting me up in prayer. I've said it before, but it's always true so I'll say it again...It is so humbling to literally depend on so many prayers to just get through some days. On days that I'm so sick or discouraged that I can't pray anything but "please, God" I know that I am being held in His hands.

Leni snuggles are *almost* as good as your prayers =)
Please be praying as we are making some decisions regarding treatment both with the functional neurologist and day-to-day symptom management. Please pray for some relief from these ongoing GI issues that seem to be wanting to reappear after months of being relatively quiet. Please pray that my life can be a light to the doctors and nurses that I see so frequently, that I can hold onto joy that will point back to God and be a testimony of His faithfulness and love. Please pray for my family as they are walking this road with me, and I'm sure at times feel helpless as they watch me struggling with symptoms and there is nothing they can do. Pray that Nick and I will continue to be able to choose joy and smile every day!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

How Can God Use ME?

I'm sure we've all asked ourselves this question more than once. As Christians, we want to know that our lives are making a difference for eternity, and we are doing more than just going through the motions of life on this earth. I know that I have asked myself this question many times.

One time in particular jumps out at me.

It was the summer after I graduated from college. All throughout college, I had been a part of FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). I had been on our leadership team at college for two years, volunteered with a local high school huddle, served on weekend retreats, and been a huddle leader (aka counselor) at sports camps over the summers.

This summer was different than previous summers, not just because it was my last year as a huddle leader. By this point, my health was beginning to significantly impact my life. It would only be a few months until my first diagnosis that would continue to define the next years of my life. This week of being a huddle leader for the soccer players pushed my body to the limit. I was supposed to be the leader and a role model for the girls in my huddle. I was supposed to be someone they looked up to and there for them during a busy and stressful, but fun, week of FCA camp.

Sharing with the campers before sports practice
I WASN'T supposed to pass out on the soccer field from heat exhaustion despite drinking my weight in fluids. I WASN'T supposed to have to check in with the nurses before every practice to be cleared to be on the fields during the day. I WASN'T supposed to be confined to the air conditioned dorms or meeting areas during practice times because my body would not cool down.

I remember going back to my air conditioned room (with supervision because I was so feverish they were worried) one day when I had been pulled off the soccer field for heat exhaustion and crying. I felt like this was the first time I actually felt like something I loved was slipping through my hands because of my health. I wondered what I was supposed to do when my body was letting me down. I was there to SERVE! This week wasn't supposed to be about me! So why was it that when I was trying so hard to be able to serve that I couldn't? To say I was frustrated would have been a serious understatement.

Then one of the adult leaders (I know, technically I was over 18, but these were REAL adults =P) pulled out her Bible and shared a verse with me that I truly took to heart that week and have prayed over my life since. In Corinthians 12:8-10, Paul says, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

The only thing I'm not sure I follow is that first sentence...he only asked THREE TIMES for God to take his pain??? Pretty sure I've asked a *few* more than 3 times...but I supposed that's why Paul has almost the whole New Testament to his name and I have this blog... =P

Jokes aside, though, this verse has carried through many, many tough seasons of life. That doesn't mean I never cry for God to take pain or suffering away, but it means that even in the midst of it, when I know I can't possibly go it alone, I turn to God knowing He is my strength in those moments of complete desperation and inability. A few years later, I served at another FCA event, and was able to share how this verse keeps me going...how I knew that despite my diagnoses and health challenges and my lack of physical strength, I was still able to serve at FCA retreats because God gave me His strength so I could be a testimony of what He can do in my weakness.

Fast forward a few years, and the lack of strength I had then I would be thrilled with now. As I am daily faced with my reality of currently being disabled by my mast cell disease and unable to work or function on a "normal" level, seeing God be my physical strength has faded into memories. One by one, I have watched things I love (school, work, sports, serving, FCA) slowly slip through my hands as I stand there asking God why He isn't being my strength anymore. The verses I once clung to as my lifeline seemed to have run their course. Paul still had strength to travel all over the world sharing the Gospel despite his weaknesses...why can't I even get out of bed some days? Why do I miss more Bible studies than I make? Why are my symptoms such that I cannot be the friend that is always there to help?

Despite feeling as though my physical strength was only a memory, I realized that my spiritual strength and depth of my faith had grown through these seasons of feeling like I was running on borrowed strength. I was encouraged by that, but still didn't understand. I am thrilled to be growing spiritually, but at the same time, it feels lacking. What good is a strong faith if it cannot be used? The strongest faith in the world doesn't matter if God can't use it for His glory. I wasn't purposefully hiding my faith, but when I go days barely leaving my bedroom, it certainly feels like a light placed under a bed that can only illuminate a small space that no one can see. I was thankful to be growing in my faith, but discouraged that I only felt my physical limitations even more.

But wait for it...here's the bit aha moment! It's a good thing this post doesn't have to end there...

We are studying Judges this semester in the women's Bible study at church. I love going through books of the Bible section by section, but sometimes the Old Testament can be a *bit* confusing and overwhelming. Judges is no different. But even in the few short weeks we've been doing this study, there is so much practical application. For me, one thing in particular has jumped out.

Judges 3:12-30 recounts the story of Ehud, one of the judges God raised up to lead Israel out of captivity. I won't write it all out here, but I want to share one specific verse: Judges 3:15. "Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, and the Lord raised up for them a deliverer, Ehud, the son of Gera, the Benjaminite, a left-handed man."

WOW!

What? You didn't catch it? Don't worry, I didn't either at first. I'll give you a hint, it's the last 2-3 words (not sure if a hyphenated word counts as one or two...English majors, a little help??). ANYWAY, "left-handed man" is the phrase I'm referring to. Still confused? Don't worry, I was, too!

Left-handed in the Old Testament was not a reference to his writing preference. The translation actually indicates that Ehud was paralyzed or otherwise unable to use his right hand (hence, forced to be left-handed). THAT is what jumped out at me.

We are told and can read throughout the Bible how God uses unlikely people to be influential leaders. David was a murderer, Moses was also a murderer and gave excuses, Daniel was a foreigner/captive, Gideon doubted, Mary was a teenager, Paul (formerly Saul) was one of the biggest Christian killers of his time...seeing a pattern? To use a cliche church phrase, "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called." In every situation, God chooses someone no one else would have chosen and uses them in the ways that we read about today. Using an unlikely leader is not an unusual theme in the Bible, but Ehud still jumped out at me.

He is the first time a disabled person is mentioned in the Bible where he is not only NOT healed, but used despite his limitations...and actually even BECAUSE of those limitations. We get no context as to when he lost the use of his arm. It could have been from birth, it could have happened from a battle injury, he could have gotten sick, we don't know. What we do know is that at the time he was called by God as a judge, he was still disabled. How many people in Israel do you think questioned God's choice on this one? I'm sure they are all looking around at the healthy, strong men and thinking that surely God could have chosen someone else.

But He didn't. God chose Ehud. And He chose Ehud BECAUSE of his disability.

Ehud was sent to the Moabite king. He told the king he had a secret message for him which meant the king dismissed all his attendants. Since Ehud was left-handed, his sword was concealed on his right leg, opposite of what would have been expected in that time. That meant he was able to surprise the king with his "message from God" and kill him quietly and suddenly. No one "normal" or "healthy" could have done this. Only Ehud. Ehud lived his entire life (or however long) with his paralyzed arm leading up to the moment God needed that disability to free Israel from Moab and lead His people into 80 years of peace.

This section of scripture came up at just the right time. I was just feeling (again) the disappointment of the unpredictability of my symptoms and as though I was just living life with no specific purpose. This was an incredibly well-timed reminder (#Godstimingisalwaysperfect) that despite my disabilities right now, God still can, will, and does use me. And sometimes it is BECAUSE of my limitations rather than despite it.

I may not always see the physical strength that I once did, but that doesn't mean that I can't have purpose where I am or that God can't use me with the life I have to offer.