candida, Food, God's sovereignty and goodness, healing, no dairy, no gluten, no sugar, Uncategorized

Wake Up

Do you remember those moments when your parents got your attention as a child?  They asked for your eyes and took your chin in their hands to direct your gaze, and you knew they meant business.  There was a sense of heightened awareness of their authority but also awareness of their deep love and care.  That has been a picture of me and the Lord in these last few months.  He has taken my chin in His hands and literally turned my neck in a different direction awakening parts of my heart that have been dormant.

I had NO clue the lostness you can feel as a mom of young littles–especially if they have any heightened needs.  Every moment (even in sleep) is dedicated to tending to the physical and emotional needs of another, and it is a learn-as-you-go gig.

Most of these last 4 years, I feel like I have been in survival mode–especially the last 3 (pregnancy and 2 years with 2).  This past year has included one event after another of physical sickness or emotional needs for our family.  Several people we know have made jokes about our lives–“can one more thing happen to the Pinkners?”   I am tired, and I have not taken good care of myself.  It was the “do anything to survive and not fall apart” plan.   You take one thing at a time, and you keep on going because you have to be there for your children (the mantra of parents throughout the ages!).

Since last Winter, I had been experiencing hot flashes where I sweat profusely about 4 times a day.  These were “get out of my face, I’m going to die, I don’t care who you are…” hot flashes.  I was also extremely fatigued and dealing with depression.  (This was most likely due to the fact I did not sleep between 1 and 5 am most days–good ole insomnia).  I also began having aches and pains in my body, hands and feet that I blamed on 40–the age I USED to think was ancient!  Did I mention that I developed a high temper and a continual bad mood?  I was carrying more weight than ever before and could not budge the scales when I tried to improve.  Blood work did not show anything, but my gut knew there was something really funky going on within my body.  I dealt with it limping through until God took my chin and directed me to research on “Dr. Google.”

I landed on Candida yeast overgrowth.  What I found was that people who have had a lot of antibiotics (hello ear infections, tonsillitis, urinary infections galore in the last 35 years!) and who have been under extreme stress with cortisol released can tend to have systems that are way out of whack.  The good bacteria has been killed in the gut and then yeast (that is there in everyone) begins to grow more AND it feeds on sugar.  Sugar is in so many things (and in that cortisol released from stress).  Even the “well-meaning” things I was eating turned into sugar in digestion.  This Candida overgrowth then begins multiplying and will affect different systems of the body.

What’s the cure?  Diet.  No sugar, no dairy, no gluten (not even fruit).  This is meant to starve the feeding Candida.  What have I found?   Sugar is not our friend–especially not my friend.  I thought that the way I was feeling was just “how it was going to be the older I get.”  Cloudy mind, depression, anxiety, fatigue, aches and pains began to wane after I had the “break-up with sugar” headache for a couple of weeks.  I actually looked forward to the day.  I can literally look back over the last year of my life and see a darkness over me–it was affecting my outlook and my thinking. I was not sleeping, so I was not waking to spend time with God.  I literally just crawled through the day almost in a stupor.  I remember telling my dear friend that I kind of hated life–that is not me at all.

I am still fighting this demon of Candida, and I thank God for literally rescuing me from myself.  I was walking toward self-destruction, and He loves me and is faithful to me even when I do not pursue Him.  See, this is not about food–it’s about so much more than that.  I did not change my diet because I am disciplined.  I did not change my diet to lose weight.  I did not change my diet as a resolution.  The Lord showed me that I have no other choice if I wanted to live as He had made me to.  He is the One who has given me the strength each step–through Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I literally cannot go back to the way things were.  He has shown me the lesser things that I trusted in to get me through the moment.  Now, I am able to see with greater hope and plan with greater hope.  I can think on truth again; I want to think on truth again.

I share this to encourage those who have weird health things going on–or even fatigue or headaches, etc.  Food can be a healer–look beyond the box.  We are our only advocate and our children’s only advocates…a lot of times you have to research on your own and listen to your gut if you think something is not right.  I could go on and on, but I will leave it here for now.

 

advent, God's sovereignty and goodness, God's word, grace, healing, Hymns, sin, the gospel, transformation by truth, Uncategorized

When blind hearts see

I hate that thing in us, in me, that thinks we know better than God.  The voice that says, “yeah, but I see another angle.”  “Just this one time I have it figured out.”  “I deserve better.” It gets us in a whole heap of trouble.

That trouble becomes the state of our heart health and our sight and our hearing.  We become blind to what reality is–we even begin seeing illusions.  We hear what we want to hear instead of actually what is said.  We become hardened to things that matter and strive to fulfill senseless passions.  We destroy ourselves and the people around us in one blow and sometimes with little blows that wrecks relationships over time.

I hate it–hate it.  Yet, why do I fall into it more often than not.  It’s subtle, but the final blows are catastrophic.  Marriages wrecked, children disillusioned and neglected, relationships destroyed, hearts jailed in bitterness.  Three little letters–SIN.  A billion consequences–for ourselves and those around us and our offspring.  Did I say I hate it?  I obviously do not hate it enough not to die more to it daily and be on guard against the enemy that is out to steal, kill and destroy me and those around me.

This morning, I remember a phrase from scripture…”Those who are walking in darkness have seen a great light.”  “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

This sin thing is not new–it’s been around since close to the beginning.  But, so has a promise of rescue–rescue from ourselves and our own brand of “wisdom.”

This rescue comes in the most unlikely way–the God of everything condescending to us in the form of a baby–humble, helpless, feeling the arrows of the collective sin of the world.  Born in filth, cold, no fanfare.  Growing, serving, perplexing those who seem to have it down pat.  Turning conventional wisdom upside down to introduce real wisdom, real life, real hope.  Taking the blows in a horrible death meant for me, for you, for those who hated him.  Making a way to enter our hearts in relationship that was an impossibility on our part. Holding the promise of real joy and life and peace out to us saying “come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  Asking us to trust Him in faith that we might turn from our sin, our way and put our faith in His work on our behalf.

“O Holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us we pray.

Cast out our sin and enter in, Be born in us today

O Come to us, Abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel!”

What a privilege to know Jesus–our Hope, God with Us.  My prayer is that I, you, we pray to be made new–to place our faith in the One who gives abundant life, who pardons our sin, who gives us the strength to follow Him in this dark world.  Who, in the midst of the messes we make (in ourselves, our families, our friendships), asks us to trust Him and His ways–to follow His wisdom, to be quick to be truthful about our “junk” and to love with His love.  It is not too late…

Anxiety, authenticity, discernment, facebook, healing, Uncategorized

Living without Facebook

In the last five to six years, my life has changed with technology.  At this pace, it will continue to.  As much as I don’t want myself, my child or family to be engrossed in technology, this will be our battle in this present age.  People have begun to “live” in a virtual world.  The ways we “connect” with people have been changed as we learn about one another through tweets and status updates and instagrams.  We may not be able to recognize someone’s voice but we know intimate details about them.

I have been in John 10 in the last few days…”My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  The intimacy of getting to know Jesus’, the Father’s and the Holy Spirit’s voice…wow.  Sometimes I feel as if I know facts about Jesus just as I do a virtual friend.  Information without intimacy and transformation.  He becomes a task and a to do just as the hundreds of status updates.  This happens when I have too much on my plate and too much noise in my mind.  I am not able to stop and hear and see Him in opportunities that arise.  Opportunities become annoyances that are in the way of “my” tasks.  Those God appointed moments that He has planned for me to walk in good works and become a refined workmanship of Him, I can make a mockery of.  (I miss the very reason He has me here because I believe I know better what to do.)

The last year I have talked about my plate a lot–learning how to balance.  SInce being on Facebook for the last five years or so, it has become a way that people have reached out to me ministry-wise, in friendship and has replaced email in many ways.  With the young adult population I work with, it was a “necessity.”  However, as of the last six months, it has become another thing that has stretched me thin–wide and not deep in relationship with others.  I felt pulled to return intense messages of needs of others while not interacting deeply and faithfully with those the Lord had given to me in person.  I felt pressured and harried.  I checked it first thing in the morning and multiple times a day…and for what?  I really don’t know.  Maybe I was afraid I would miss something earth-shattering like a picture of someone’s kid or an engagement or a pithy comment about a tv show:).

These last months without Facebook have been awesome.  At first, it was hard–my mind was trained around status updates.  Then, I began to think a part from that.  My mind has been retrained.  No one needs to “know” what I think about my day or the latest tragedy or latest pop culture reference.  It is not wrong to have a facebook, and I will probably have one again.  However, it has been so refreshing to let my mind and heart rest from the pull.

I miss the people of facebook–people who I do not regularly have contact with, people who have lost husbands and children and mothers and dreams.  I do miss knowing how I can pray and minister.  I do not miss the noise in my heart that comes from the added facts that are oft times pointless–other people sharing their noise.  I do not know what the future holds with me and facebook, but I do not have a committed relationship to her right now and I am thankful for this break.

God's sovereignty and goodness, grace, healing, infertility, prayer, thankfulness, The body of Christ, trusting God

A thankful heart that He has given me…

      When I was in 8th grade, I went to an aerobics class where we listened to a Mylon Lefevre song “Thankful heart” while we did abdominal exercises.  An ironic lesson for choosing thanks in pain (who likes sit-ups?).  An ah-ha moment–exactly what I have been learning the last few years–learning to think on truth and choose thanks  in the midst of hard feelings and experiences.  “I have a thankful heart that You have given me and it can only come from You.”

         As Thanksgiving approaches fast, I have a full and thankful heart.  I spent time this morning reading over past blogs of our journey of infertility.  What pain, what loss of control, but what richness of God’s love and provision and character we gained in the midst.  Learning where our hope comes from, learning where our treasure is, learning the all-sufficiency of Christ.  Oh, how I have come to love Christ in deep ways and treasure Him above earthly pleasure and circumstance.  In the deepest places of pain and helplessness, He has been so good.  I’ve seen His faithfulness, His love, His truth, His purposes–o the depth and the riches of the Love of Christ–how deep His knowledge and His ways.

          About 6 -8 months ago, when we thought we were through with any kind of fertility treatments–we were really thinking about what  a life of childlessness would look like.  One day praying,  I felt a prick in my spirit that said–“Our story is not over.  He is not finished.  He has us where he wants us.  Thanks be to God.”   I wrote this on our pantry which is covered in chalkboard paint.  I also wrote  Psalm 33:20-22,  “Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.  For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name.  Let Your steadfast love be upon us even as we hope in You.”  Then the words:  wait, trust, hope.  This “message” to me was about infertility but not neccessarily about a child–I know it can seem weird.  In the midst of all of this, it has always been about finding our hope in the LORD–not in what He would accomplish in circumstance.  Those are two very different concepts.     

          Today, it is with great humility that I thank the Lord for His grace–favor neither Greg nor I deserve–first in salvation–and secondly, for the growing baby in my womb. 

          In late August, we started the Invitro Fertilization process against great odds.  Our doctor gave us less than half the chances (20%) of those undergoing IVF to make it through and deliver a child.  Through prayers and prayers and prayers and God’s power, my body produced the exact eggs we would need.  Through more prayers, every one of those four eggs fertilized and became an embryo.  (We only chose four because we did not want to risk destroying embryos during the freezing process–this limited our chances, but after prayer and consideration,this was our decision).  The Doc told us that he had never seen a couple even have triplets using four eggs, inseminating them and implanting all that made it to the embryo stage.  It would be like winning the lottery.   We, of course, joked we would need to win the lottery again to pay for them:). Through more prayers, each of those 4 embryos were top rated in strength (one was just a bit behind the others).    The morning of our implantation, he came to us soberly and said we risked the chance of having quadruplets if we implanted them all–this then endangered their health and survival.  After looking at each other with the all-knowing  “how the crap we gonna raise four babies at a time with one of us with a chronic disease” look, we knew that the odds of survival of each of those babies was better if implanted in twos.  Two embryos were implanted,( two frozen to be implanted in us or donated for adoption for another couple) and we waited and prayed.

           God has gifted us with beautiful friends and family who have been prayer warriors on our behalf.  You are a part of our journey.  God has blessed us with you and hopefully you have been blessed to know Him more deeply during this process.  Thank you–you are a huge gift and part of our story.

         Two weeks later, a positive test came.  We discovered a few weeks later that we were just having one baby Pinkner.  I have been very sick since 4 1/2 weeks.  So much so that I have pretty much been at the homestead.  It has been challenging, but I know God is beginning to break me of convenience and schedule even in the now.  At 35, I have a lot to be broken of…

        Today, we got the clearance to share our news from our infertility doc after we got to see the ultrasound.  I am almost 11 weeks along, and He said that everything looked great–we now have about the same chances as everyone else for delivering a healthy baby.  We do not deserve the gift of this healthy growing child.  It seems we have a dancer on our hands with little hand and foot buds that were moving along today.  This is the first day I felt I could relax and rejoice.  For so long I have been guarding my heart over and over again against disappointment.  God did not “owe” us a baby–he never promised one.  He has been more than good in giving us Himself–the greatest gift.  It is with humility and great dependence on Him that we begin this journey.  Keep praying for us.  Pray for this child that God might call he or she to himself to serve Him and serve others. 

           It is also with great humility that we “announce” this.  For years, facebook has been the cause of many days of heartache for me.  Seeing random announcements of yet another baby being born or milestone in pregnancy being reached can rip the heart out of one struggling in infertility.  I am torn because I want to share with others, but I so have on my heart those who want children and are unable to have them at this time.  I am still continuing to pray for friends who are hurting in infertility.  Forever I am changed by these last few years and my heart will always connect with those in that struggle. 

       My only hope through all of this is continuing to treasure God more than His gifts–my greatest prayer is to pass that on to my child(ren).  Thank you for your continued love, support and encouragement to Greg and me.  You are a gift!

Randomly, Greg wanted to make sure I get his line in here–“don’t fake the funk on a nasty dunk.”  Don’t read too deep for meaning…

authenticity, healing, infertility, learning boundaries, rest

What do I entitle this?

It has been a while since I have written. There’s so much to tell yet so little. Part of me wants to pull back all the way from blogging because I have put a vulnerable part of myself out there, and I have found myself feeling responsible to walk this infertility journey out perfectly. Performance…it still plagues me. This year, I have learned so much more about the depths of the gospel and grace, and yet, in the most intimate area of my life, I still seek to perform for God and others. Wow. This again shows my need to rest in Christ’s righteousness.
Nothing has changed on the fertility front except for the shutdown of all emotions and then the eruption of anger. I long to grieve, yet I am afraid of it. I do not want to be a whiny person who talks about it all the time and feasts on her tears. But I need to cry with tears–lots of them that have not come. So, we are taking a break from even talking about the future of children. I cannot make one more decision right now about the whole process–period. So, after wise counsel, we are taking several months of reprieve. The whole process of infertility is exhausting and messy and uncontrollable. It is a beast that I have sought to respond in the best way to, but I am exhausted. After some more wise counsel, I have pulled back from some of my public responsibilities in order to create space to process and grieve (curbing the performance). This life is a marathon and infertility can cause you to run sprint after sprint after sprint to where all your reserves are gone. So, I am taking some time to regroup in training for the marathon.
On my pantry (which is covered in chalk board paint), I have a reminder for this season.

“He does not grow faint or weary; His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who WAIT for the LORD shall renew their strength…” Isaiah 40:28-31

I do not know what this journey will look like. Truthfully, I do not want to have to experience it. I would rather be numb and busy myself up! But, that is not the way of the Father. He has distinct purposes in this time…in this season. I do not necessarily understand them, but He is immortal invisible God only wise and I’m not. Margin has been created to experience the grief, and I am hopeful for restoration in Him. If I do not deal now, well, much more damage will be done. My father’s sickness and death, Greg’s rheumatoid arthritis and the change that has come with that, the ringer of infertility, starting and running a non-profit ministry–all of those within the last five years (mostly the last two). God is showing me I am not superhuman. I am in need, weak and His beloved daughter. May He be glorified in my weakness. I pray He be glorified in yours, too.

God's word, healing, suffering in joy, thankfulness, trusting God

Blog Silence

           I have been silent on my blog for over a week.  I attribute it to busyness but also to a picture of my heart.  We have had a lot going on in life schedule-wise, but we have had a lot going on heart-wise, as well.  I am running on fumes, and usually the things I write come out of my experiences and my heart learning.  

           After finding out more details about Greg’s Rheumatoid Arthritis at the doctor last Wednesday, I was pretty low.  However, I moved into a very busy few days of celebrating for and with others.  So, in shock, my heart was a bit constipated…if I can even believe I said that.  I had no room to process–I simply tried my hardest to be present with others when I could not fully be present with myself and my own stuff.

         I was in my friends’ wedding over the weekend–Natalie and Zach.  It was a sweet time to celebrate with them and laugh.  Natalie has been in the Bible study I lead off and on for five years.  It was an honor to stand with her and reflect to see how God has grown her and been so faithful to her.  Zach has also been very dear to both Greg and me as we have seen him grow in his faith.  Greg was actually the matchmaker, and he says he is stopping his record at 100% success.  So, no eharmonyesque future for him!  I think one of my favorite times in my  life was our rehearsal dinner where all the closest people to us came together at once and shared.  I always love to go to other’s rehearsal dinners to hear the hearts of those there as they share about the couple.  So, that was one of the highlights of the weekend for me.  Also, it was really neat to get to see behind the scenes with their families–the fun,  the laughter and the dynamics.  I came home emotionally and physically exhausted from the whole deal.  

       The next day, my family got together and celebrated my Great Uncle Charley’s 95th birthday.  This is not a barely making it 95–it is a swim daily, drive long distances, live alone, cook your own meals, dance on the weekends, take Spanish classes 95.  My Great Aunt Gladys died in 1990, so he has been making it alone for a long time.  He is funny.  He told a story how he was called “two wheel Charley” from racing Model T fords…crazy.  It was good to see most of the family…we missed my niece and nephew, Sarah and Stephen, and my brother-in-law, John.  

        I then drove to my mom’s house in Athens, and I stayed there by myself to awaken early to be at the hospital with my dear friend, Cindy.  She was induced at midnight to bring her first child into the world.  We have known each other all our lives, but we really connected in close friendship between our freshman and sophomore years of high school when we both started walking consistently with Christ.  

       My friend, Amber, and I spent the morning with Cindy and Chris and her parents talking in the room with her.  She and Chris chose to not know the sex of the baby until herm or shem arrived, so that was really exciting.  They had a definite girl named picked out, but they were wavering on the boy name.  So, the whole morning, we thought of ways kids would make fun of the names they were picking from.  Ended up, that it was a girl…no stress for the name!  I was honored to be there with her and to hold precious Audrey Elizabeth Parker when she was less than an hour old.  Mom was a champ and so was dad!  I think I consumed more caffeine in that day than the whole week before!  

      AFter goodbye kisses and hugs, I headed back to Knoxville to get home for Crossroad.  Greg told the students about having RA at the end, and I wanted to be there for him.  I was exhausted, though.  

     Tuesday and Wednesday, I got back to my regular schedule of meeting with girls.  I had to cancel the week before because of my neck.  It was good to fellowship with them–I missed it.  When Wednesday night came, I cooked dinner and fell onto the couch.  

         All the things from the week were very exciting, but they were very exhausting, as well.  In the back of my mind were all the unprocessed emotions and questions from all the stuff from the doctor the other day about Greg.  I depend on time I have with God to go deep and study his word and pray using my journal, and with the schedule of the last 6 days, I had not gotten to really connect with Him.  I had cried out throughout the time in short bursts, but I had not been in silence and connection deeply with Him.  

        All my emotions remind me of how I was after my dad died.  I was numb and in shock.  I knew the emotions were there, they just would not come.  It was like the words between me and the Father had run dry, but I knew He was there faithfully carrying me.  My heart did not know what to pray, but I knew He was praying on my behalf and others were also.  I have felt that same sense, and I remember His faithfulness in that.  I remember that this intensity will pass.  

       I did get to go outside on the backporch (because inside my house looks like a tornado hit:)) in the sun yesterday and pray and read God’s word.  I asked for a heart to be thankful and think of all the ways He has shown His faithfulness.  While God is stretching us in everyway–physically, emotionally, financially, spiritually–He is still faithful.  He is still our Father.  His promises are true.  I must be disciplined to be thankful and not choose to be overcome with circumstance.  Philippians  4 speaks of this:

Rejoice in the Lord always;  again I say Rejoice…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

     My prayer also comes out of another passage in Philippians 4:

For I have learned in whatever situation to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

     I am thankful for the plenty that God has so graciously given us, and even in need now, I want to be thankful for the intimacy of depending on Him deeper and deeper.  It is through suffering that I have come to know Him in the deepest ways.  I will not trade that from the past, and I have a feeling I will look back in several years and say I would not trade it for this time.  

        People, in their own way, have begun to say some pretty unbelievable things to us.  Most of the things have to do with healing. ( I think sometimes people do not realize what they communicate when they say things…so, we pray to give them grace as we would hope they would give us.)  We both believe that God can do whatever He wants to do… period.  We pray for healing and quick remission.  However,  when people begin to speak about God as He does not want people to suffer or be sick or “you just need to have faith to be healed” (as if it depends on us and not Him), they are pridefully ignoring much of God’s word.  It is spiritually abusive and false.  I think a lot of times it is about the person’s spiritual pride and not true love and concern for Greg.  We want people to pray for healing.  We also want people to pray for a deepened relationship with God for Greg and me.  We want Him to be glorified.  If you think that He is not glorified through suffering…think on the Cross.  

     This life is not for our comfort…it is for our sanctification. (Romans 8:28-29)  God sometimes loves us in the deepest, truest, richest ways by bringing suffering into our lives.  For, we depend on Him and His all sufficiency and not ourselves and our circumstances.  He is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him (not our circumstances, feelings, etc but in HIM).  Do we pray and long for healing?  Most definitely.  Does it define our relationship with Him if it comes or not?  No.   Do we rejoice when it comes?  You betcha.  Paul prayed for the thorn in his flesh to be removed…it was not.  Peter was sifted, and he says in 1 Peter 4:13…”But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”  James speaks of rejoicing in suffering and trials, but he also speaks of praying for healing.  We do both.  

      Let us trust God wholly by clinging to the whole counsel of His word.  May we not make an idol in our own image of Him.  May we trust and know Him.  I keep thinking and praying on a verse from Job…Job 13:15 “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.”  Job was not out of God’s hand…and we are not either.  Our lives are nothing compared to Job’s, but I hurt in the circumstance.  I trust the Lord, and I pray He draw us nearer and nearer and that we know Him more intimately.  I pray that He be glorified and that His kingdom be pushed forward.  He is our Rock, our Fortress, our Deliverer, our Physician, our Healer, our Father.