Rich Love

My hubby and I were watching a documentary tonight (we LOVE documentaries) … and let me tell you, I was a basket case. I mean, It was the I couldn’t catch my breath, tears on my lap and snot everywhere kind of cry! I was a wreck! It was one of those documentaries where it just moves you so much that you want to just leave and help everyone right now!!

Basically, it is about heart wrenching stories of men and women who live on skid row and struggle to turn their lives around due to addictions and mental illnesses. In the midst of all the poverty, mental illness, addiction and sickness they face, you see hope and really powerful human journeys!

They are sons and daughters of The Most High … just like you and I! 

One story really, I mean really touched my heart. It was of this woman, named Linda, who had a rare skin disorder called Neurofibromatosis, which is a disorder of the nervous system, and it causes tumors to grow on the nerves. From head to toe, she is visibly covered with small tumors. Not only that, she had breast cancer and had to get a mastectomy on one of her breasts, AND she’s homeless. Lord, can this woman catch a break?! She also shared her struggle with serious depression most of her life due to her appearance.

But then it got me thinking of the analogy Paul gave in 1 Corinthians 15:35-44, that our earthly bodies are like seeds that die and fall to the ground, then sprout into new, glorious forms of life!

Doesn’t that put a smile on your face? I sure have a smile on my face after reading that!

The Bible tells us that our physical bodies don’t last, but rots and dies.

Our bodies here on earth are dead. Mine, yours and everyone else’s! We are, however, God’s vessels. We are not on this earth to “look good” or “to be “the most successful”, or to “make more money”. God does not focus on any of that, He focuses on what is on the inside. We are here to accept Christ into our hearts, to love and spread His Word!

Let us desire to be a vessel that God can use, instead of desiring and striving for earthly things.

Are you willing to be His vessel?

It’s a lot of work and sacrifice, but, He said it will be worth it … and I believe Him.

As I was wiping off my tears with the second box of kleenex, they asked Linda if she was dating anyone and she instantly had a huge smile on her face. It turns out she was! I was so happy for her and I cried even more. Like I said, I was a basket case … snot everywhere … yea, not pretty! She mentioned that one day it would be her dream to marry him, and to be able to wear a beautiful white wedding gown that would cover all of the tumors.

Something hit me when she said that, and I could just picture Jesus resting His hands on her cheeks saying,  “Not only will I cover you with fine linen, bright and pure, my love… but with my precious blood that is purest of all.”

Yep, more tears.

Towards the end of the documentary, they were showing where these wonderful people ended up in life. While they were doing that, someone in the background was singing “Jesus Loves Me” with a beautiful voice, and at the very end they showed who was singing the song … it was Linda!! I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her when she was singing. Not because of the tumors, or the visible mastectomy, or the dirty clothes, but because  of the rich love she had for The Lord. She had nothing on this earth, but she had Jesus, and that is everything and more!

I believe The Lord has a special bond and place in His heart for those who have little!!

Would you give up everything you have, including your health, to have that rich love with Jesus?

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A Season of Trials (4)

I opened the email.

And there it was. Names of six doctors that specialize in this illness and that can treat me!

Thank you, Father.

I wanted answers so bad and after a very long six months of suffering and over a 100 crazy symptoms, I was finally going to get it. Waiting one week for that appointment felt like a lifetime!

In the meantime, my sweet mother and sister came to help me with chores around the house and drive me to my appointment. While Marc was at work during the day, I would lay on the couch and just cry most days. So, having them around for that one week helped my mental state quite a bit.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012, the day of my appointment. We parked the car and as soon as the car was turned off, I breathed a sigh of relief. I opened the car door and looked up at the gray gloomy sky and I said nothing but smile at God. I didn’t need a clear blue sky and a bright shining sun to feel His presence … there’s a different kind of peace that comes from Him in the midst of grayness and gloominess!

While walking towards the door, I remember looking at my shaky weak legs and in my mind I said “this is the last time you ugly things (the bacteria) can have fun in my body, because I am coming after you!” yes, my mental state was declining and I was talking to the bacteria in my body … don’t judge :p

I wanted to give my doctor a huge hug when I first met her! We sat down and she had me fill out a symptom check list, no joke, I checked off almost everything on that page! And there were symptoms I had a hard time explaining to others, and sure enough it was on there … I wanted to do the happy dance. We talked for an hour and a half and she affirmed that I do have it. Since the testing is so inaccurate, they treat based on symptoms. This is what it says right below the test results “A negative result does not exclude the possibility of infection” …. really?! so then what? unfortunately, most people suffer with a spew of symptoms for the rest of their lives and some die, because most doctors don’t do anything past that point. This has to change.

Besides the medications she prescribed, she told me all the foods I had to avoid to reduce inflammation in my body and all the supplements I had to take. She warned me about this thing called a Herxheimer reaction, it sounds scary doesn’t it? well, it is!! A Herxheimer reaction is when the immune system reacts to toxins that are released when large amounts of bacteria are being killed off, and the body doesn’t get rid of the toxins quickly enough. So, when I take the antibiotics, it kills the bacteria, and therefore it releases toxins in my body which makes me REALLY sick. I honestly can’t even count how many times I’ve been to the ER just because of this Herxheimer reaction. Best way to describe it, I literally feel like I am dying. That is why detoxing is so crucial with this illness!

I was excited about my treatment plan, but at the same time I was very overwhelmed.

I had to change my diet completely, take medications (I wasn’t one to ever take medications, unless I really had to), take supplements, detox and so much more! But, it had to be done.

That first week of starting my treatment plan, I noticed a little boost of energy. I knew then I was on the right track, but it wasn’t a fast and an easy fix. The first few months of being on medication I had more bad days than good days, and it was very very tough.  My balance was really bad the first 4 months, if I had to go get a few things from the grocery store I had to use a cart as a “walker” because I felt like I was going to fall. I actually cried once in the grocery store and had to leave, because I would just watch how fast people were walking and envied how they didn’t need a cart for balance.

In the middle of July, 2012 I went into target and I was confident enough to walk without my “walker” and sure enough, I did it! I can’t even begin to tell you how good it felt to just simply walk. I walked around the entire store and went down every isle … It felt great. I will never ever take anything for granted again, and that includes little and big things in life!

So, friends, that is my story in a nut shell!

I am slowly but surely improving, however, I still have bad days where it is tough to get off the couch, but that is part of the illness and I am okay with that now!

As much as I hate this illness, I am thankful for it, because really good things came out of it and I believe there are still good things that are going to come out of it. I am much much closer with The Lord, I actually have a relationship with Him compared to before being sick. There is nothing that makes my heart more content and joyful than bathing in Gods Word, and what a privilege I have that I get to do that everyday! I have an amazing relationship with my mother compared to before I was ill. Marc and I had a very difficult year and a half and it was and still is far from perfect in many ways, but it was always centered on The One who is, and that brought us so much closer to each other. My heart and mind are forever changed … I feel the Lord’s gentle hands molding and shaping me into the woman He wants me to be … what an honor that is!

I used to get angry and dwell at the fact that I had to drop out of school because of this illness. I may not be in nursing school right now but I am in God’s school, and let me tell you, it is harder than any school I will ever attend and harder than any test I will ever take.

The only diploma I need in life is one from The Lord saying “You did well, my child, you did well.”

A Season of Trials (3)

I prayed, but I was still very afraid.

I was shunned by the medical community and I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do next. As the days went on, my entire body was getting weaker and weaker and I was noticing scary new symptoms. I truly believed I was developing early stages of ALS, because I was having a difficult time swallowing my own saliva and food. I was also losing a ton of weight on top of all that.

Some nights before I went to bed I would pray for help and answers, but most nights I prayed that The Lord would take me away in my sleep. I was beyond depressed. Ever since I was a little girl, I prayed that God would bless me with a wonderful husband, and by His loving grace He did. Besides getting baptized, getting married to Marc was the second best day of my life. The man I prayed for since I was a little girl, is now my husband. So, the thought of me dying and leaving my husband behind put me in a state of extreme depression and anxiety. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the movie “Over Her Dead Body”, but It’s about these newly engaged couple, and this man’s fiance (Eva Longoria) dies suddenly in a car accident. Eva Longoria comes back as a ghost and tries to stop the relationship her fiance was pursuing with this other woman. I would think to myself “I am totally going to be Eva Longoria if I die from this mystery illness” Sorry Marc :p !! But, I digress … these horrible thoughts consumed my mind daily. Not only was I declining physically but mentally as well!

I was ready to be done with this season of life.

My mind that is part of the image of God where He communicates with me and reveals His will for me, was distorted by Satan. I forgot what happiness felt like … I forgot what it felt like to laugh and smile! My mind became a battleground of a spiritual warfare, and let me tell you, the enemy did a good job … but not for long.

I had a very big God by my side and the victory is always with Him.

At my very lowest and weakest point … The Lord lead me to open my Bible and dig into His Words for strength, daily. Strength that I lacked spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. And guess what? little by little, day by day and the more I dug into His Words, I felt a little stronger in every way each day.

His words became my anchor.

One day, I felt like I needed to do more research on Lyme Disease. I spent about 6 hours reading all the controversial articles about this illness, and I thankfully stumbled upon a blog of a woman who suffered from Chronic Lyme Disease and Co-infections. I should probably elaborate a little on the Co-infection part, so you are not confused when I mention Co-infections. In my case my doctor thinks I have Lyme Disease along with Babesia (co-infection), Bartonella (Co-infection), Ehrlichia (Co-infection) and Rocky mountain spotted fever (Co-infection). Each Co-infection differs from the other and from the Lyme bacteria, and each one produces new symptoms. That is why I had over a 100 symptoms! Anyhow, while reading this woman’s blog, I felt as if I was reading my own life. Her symptoms, quitting her job and nursing school … everything just fit what I was going through to the T! It was an aha moment for me! I needed to be on antibiotics longer than 7 days and I needed a doctor that specialized in this illness. I looked up Minnesota Lyme Association online, I emailed them telling them about my situation and I asked them for names of doctors that specialize in this illness and that I needed help ASAP. The following day I get a phone call from a very sweet woman, and not too far into the conversation she said “I am going to help you find the doctor that will get you better” I instantly started sobbing … I couldn’t keep it together.

It was a cry of relief … a cry of hope.

As soon as I got off the phone, Marc gave me the biggest hug and kissed my salty watery cheeks, “we’ll get through this, and I will do everything I can to get you better” he said.

I had a wonderful man by my side, but most importantly I had a God who is able.

Who is able to conquer all the powers of evil. Who is able to move mountains. Who is able to part the red sea. Who is able to sustain all of our needs. Who is able to do more than I can ever imagine. Who is able to heal …. yes, that is my God!!

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

To be continued ….

His Light

[Quick random post]

I had a tough day today. Earlier in the day I was able to get out for a bit and run some errands, which was nice, because I’ve been so dizzy the past 4 days and I haven’t been able to drive anywhere! Shortly after I got home, I felt pretty rotten. This illness truly baffles me. One second I feel good, and the next I just feel awful … REALLY weird!! I was putting the groceries away while the kitchen room was spinning, my head pounding, vertigo like no other, shaky legs, fatigue and an icky stomach. I felt discouraged and upset . Of course, when you are upset little things like an apple falling out of your grocery bag makes you want to smash it … it was one of those days! When I am upset, I need to do something that keeps me busy … like cleaning. I was doing the dishes (by the way, I love doing dishes … weird, I know!) and guess who creeps his way into my mind? … you guessed it! Thoughts like “I am never going to get better” “is this what life is going to be like for me?” “what did I do to deserve this?” were consuming my mind. I close my eyes and ask God to help me.

I go and lay down on the couch, with an ice pack on my head and I start crying. My hubby walks in the door from work and asks me how I am feeling. My voice was shaky and I just say “fine”. He knows me too well, so he gets closer, kisses me on the forehead and sits down next to me. I told him it is so hard being sick almost everyday for a year and a half now. He held my hand and he was trying his best to comfort me (I am so blessed for this man), which he did, but I was still somewhat sad and discouraged. My eyes were closed while tears were going down my cheeks. I turn my head and I look out the window, and I notice the sky was pretty gloomy but I could see the shape of the sun behind the gloomy clouds … it caught my eye. I turn my head away from the window, I close my eyes and cry some more. When I physically feel very ill, like today, it is hard for me to take some time out and read scripture because my mind cannot retain anything (Lyme affects the brain in many ways) … but I can pray, and that’s what I did. I laid on the couch, with my eyes closed and simply just said “O, Father, I need You now.” That was all I could say … and that was all He needed.

A few minutes later, I feel this comforting warmth on my cheek and my tears slowly drying. I turn my head and look out the window, and I see the sun behind the gloomy clouds trying to shine brighter through the darkness. Bigger and brighter by the second. I couldn’t look away. I have seen the sun shine a gazillion times, but this was different … I felt Him. I close my eyes … His light shining on my face … I feel His peace … and all my tears are gone.

“I will wipe every tear from your eyes … I am here, my child, I’m here” He whispers.

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun.” Psalm 19:1-4

“Love One Another, As I Have Loved You”

I went to mosques.

I celebrated every Muslim holiday.

And

I prayed to Allah.

I was born and raised as an American/Arab Muslim.

In the past few years, I’ve converted to Christianity. NOT because I was fearful of Islam in any way, but because Jesus is our Lord and Savior.

At a very young age we were taught to love, respect, be kind and generous and embrace everyone. Never ever were we taught to hate or disrespect other religions or cultures. Not by our parents, not by our family members, not by friends, not by school and not by Islamic classes. It was never brought up.

I grew up among 8 aunts and uncles and forty some cousins; a very large family. We are all very close. My grandma, my aunts and most of my female cousins wear the hijab (head cover). They are the funniest, most loving and caring women I will ever encounter in my life. Same goes for the men in my family. Every Thursday we would get together(yes, the entire family) at my grandma’s house. We would eat dinner, drink coffee and tea, laugh, play Arabic music and dance together. These are my fondest memories.

My mother is an American. When she moved to Jordan, my grandparents, my aunts, uncles and cousins welcomed her with open arms and a hundred kisses on her cheeks. My mother felt right at home.

My sister is a devoted Muslim. She has the kindest most gentle soul I’ve ever met and I am certain I will never meet anyone like her in my lifetime.

Do any of these traits depict a terrorist at all?

Since 9/11 American Muslims and Arabs have been fighting stereotypes and a very negative image, it has left a lasting and damaging image for us. I have spoken to some American Muslims and Arabs who have shared some discriminative stories that ranged from beatings, nasty comments and harassment’s at work, etc. It breaks my heart.

This past week I have read and heard some awful comments made towards Arabs and American Muslims. Comments like “All Middle Easterners and Muslims need to be swiped off this planet” and “he looks like a terrorist.” This last one really gets to me. I would like to know, what does a terrorist look like? Dark skinned, dark hair, a large nose and a beard?

Scripture says “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.” Isaiah 53:2

None of us know what Jesus looks like, But he could have very well had Middle Eastern features.

Would you call Him a terrorist?

The media has done an impeccable job at breaking people apart … and, we, as a society allow it to happen.

Let’s change this.

Jesus wants us to.

“Love one another, as I have loved you”. He said

Let’s bring God back to this country. Let’s bring His Word back. Let’s stand together as one nation under God.


Father, we need you. May you be present in all of our lives from this day forward. We pray for the victims, the injured and the families of the victims in the Boston bombings, Syria, Israel, Africa, Palestine, Iraq and other countries where this is a regular occurrence. Cover us all under your wings. Father, we pray that you would bind Satan and all evil from destroying us. We pray this, in Jesus’ mighty, powerful name. Amen.

A Season of Trials

Every morning when I open my eyes, I am thankful.

I made it another day.

I lie there and think, “what am I going to feel like today? am I going to be able to leave the house today?” my mind is going a 100 miles an hour and fear begins to consume me. I close my eyes, and pray with every aching bone in my body “Father, I can’t do this without you. I don’t have the mental nor the physical strength to continue. Please Lord, lift me up and carry me through this day and the days to come. I need you, Lord.” I take a deep breath and sit on side of the bed. I touch my legs and pray over them for strength.

I suffer from Chronic Lyme Disease and Co-infections.

I became extremely ill in the fall of 2011. I was in the doctor’s office once or even twice a week with a new symptom, at this point, I easily had over 50 symptoms.  All my labs were normal, which made things extremely frustrating. In December of that year, my husband Marc and I were driving to his hometown. All of a sudden, I felt my left arm tingling and going numb, slowly creeping up to the left side of my face. I thought I was having a stroke. Marc rushes me to the ER and once again, all my labs were normal. I started sobbing and felt so defeated.

The uncertainty of what was happening crippled me with fear.

When we got back home from visiting my in law’s that weekend, I began to brainstorm and wrote down everything I did, including dates, prior to becoming ill. I called the doctor’s office that Monday, luckily, I was able to get in that day. He looked at my list and said “I see you were camping a few times this summer. Let’s test you for Lyme Disease.” I felt a glimmer of hope and thought “GREAT. I hope this is what it is. They’ll give me antibiotics for a week and boom, I will be back to normal.” You know that saying “be careful what you wish for?” yeah, I should have incorporated that to my thinking process!!

I had to wait a week for the tests results. In the meantime, he sent me to get an MRI and see a neurologist. There’s something petrifying about seeing a neurologist. Of course, the way my wonderful mind works, I always assume the worse. I prayed and prayed and asked The Lord to take the fear that I was consumed with and help me lay it all at His feet, but I didn’t know how to; I was a control freak.

I met with the neurologist and the first thing she said to me was “everything looks okay” kinda dragging the okay part, with some hesitation in her voice. I should have majored in Psychology, apparently, I am good at “reading” people. Anyhow, okay was not good enough for me, so I asked her to explain the okay part. She said I have two small lesions in my brain, all I could think of was “I HAVE HOLES IN MY BRAIN?!? well, this makes a lot of sense actually. I can use this to my advantage for mispronouncing and misuse of American words.” A perfect future scenario …  random person- “Hey, you don’t say comfortable right.  me-“So, I have holes in my brain.” She explained it was most likely Migraine lesions (I have always suffered from migraines). I was a little at peace, but I had a feeling in my gut it wasn’t due to the migraines. While she was looking over the rest of my lab work, She says “oh, the tick borne panel came back.” and she paused. I was looking at her like a little puppy would look at it’s treats, hoping she would tell me this is it. I just wanted an answer. Then she uttered the words I longed to hear at that time; the words that turned my life upside down “You are positive for Babesia Microti.”

See how this illness turned my life upside down, and at the same time how I witnessed The Lord’s hands shaping my heart and my life in the next blog.

 

Blessings & love,

Aisha 🙂