How a vacation in the mountains became a turning point.
It felt like a death sentence had been laid on me. I was so scared. Fear overtook me. I just cried and cried. I felt paralized, unable to “move forward” with what needed to happen next.
April 2019 my husband and I celebrated 14 years of marriage. We decided to take a quick trip north to celebrate. We found ourselves in a charming airbnb in the Adirondaks of New York.
When in the Adirondack mountains, one must hike! Day one of our time away found us hitting the trails. It was then that my trouble began. We started with a short hike. I was so tired and out of breath the entire time. I was SO annoyed at myself. Why could I not hike? To be honest, I had gained some weight over the past 6 months and wondered if that was why I just couldn’t go any faster.
The next day we picked a longer trail to hike. About a mile into it my legs were cramping so badly that I had to sit down. As I sat, breathing heavily, I felt completly exhausted. I started to get scared. It felt like my body was shutting down. Why was it so hard to breathe? Why did my legs feel so weak?
A few weeks prior to our little trip, I had started to experience some leg weakness. Walking up one flight of steps to put kids to bed left me needing to quickly sit down, my legs felt like jelly! I’d sit in the rocking chair at the top of the steps, holding our youngest child, just catching my breath and waiting for my legs to start working again.
Looking back, I should have taken this more seriously but at the time, I told myself that I didn’t have time. I have six children, four of them at the time were 5 years and younger. I didn’t have time to book an appointment for something as random as leg weakness. Espeically since the weakness only bothered me when I was climbing steps or going up in elevation in general.
Now, here I was in New York, trying to hike a mountain with legs that refused to go any further and a chest that felt like I had an elephant sitting on it. It was then that I realized something was seriously wrong with me. It scared me.
That night, I was terrified. Why does fear become heavier at night? I believe it’s because we must be still and rest in our thoughts. If our thoughts are not taken captive, as it says we are to do in 2 Corinthians 10:5, they can take control of us instead. I felt for sure I was actively dying, convinced that if I went to the doctor I would recieve a diagnosis of a problem that leads to a slow death. I have an autoimmune disorder, psoriasis. When you already have an incurable disease, a spirit of fear will run away with your mind telling you all that could go wrong, if you let it.
I knew I was mentally in a bad space. My husband knew it too because I started to cry. After discussing why I was so upset, my husband prayed over me. After he prayed, I too prayed, renouncing a spirit of fear in the name of Jesus. I was then able to fall asleep.
The next morning I assured my husband I was in a better mental space then the night before. I just wanted some solo time to worship and pray. After praying together, he took off to worship the Lord while scaling a mountain and I found a wool blanket, my coffee, Bible, and journal.
I was able to speak honestly to God of my fears. I was able to release my fear. I remember thinking that even though this feels like death, what if it’s meant to bring me life? I had that thought because I was remembering a time when a spirit of death was felt in my life, when we miscarried our third baby. That was so hard. I had prayed for and desired that baby. Eventually I also recieved an infertility diagnosis. (read more of that story here). It was heavy, it was death all over again. That was a dark season of crying and questioning and a lot of soul searching. But it produced such richness in my life that as I came out of that dark season, I now can honestly thank God for it. He took that season of death and brought fourth life! I experience newness of life in my spirit and it also lead us into foster care and adoption.
As I sat wrapped up in that wool blanket, the air was chilly and it was starting rain, I remembered that in the past, even in what the enemy meant for evil in my life, God used it for good. I cried and worshiped as I physically and spiritually, opened my hand to God concerning my health.
The day after we returned home, I had a meeting in Lancaster city. As the meeting was coming to an end, I started having trouble focusing on the faces around me. It was so strange. I kept thinking it was because the lights were too bright. Driving home I started having double vision and a headace, thats when I started praying, hot and heavy! It again reinforced that something was seriously wrong.
The next day I saw the doctor. She seemed pretty unconcered with my fatigue and leg weakness. She too thought it might have to do with the weight I had gained. She advised water and exercise, and then she did a series of blood tests.
24 hours later I got a call from my doctor’s office. The lab had called my doctor with my results as soon as they ran them because my hemoglobin level was 7, normal levels are 12-15. They were very concerned with how I was feeling and advised I not do anything other then rest until I got more instructions from the doctor. The nurse confirmed that the fatigue, double vision, headaches, leg weakness, shortness of breath, even my weight gain, were all from my low hemoglobin levels, otherwise known as anemia.
Two days later found me sitting in a hemotologists office with the doctor telling me that he is not sure how I was able to walk into his office with my levels so low. At this point, I too, admitted that I was feeling pretty much like a shell of a person. All this time I had just assumed I was so exhausted becuase I had six busy kids and because I had gained weight. He told me he was going to schedule for me to get 2 iron transfusion, starting right away. I felt so incredible relieved to know that there was help for me!
The infusion took 20 minutes and I was so surprised that I indeed could breath better almost immediately after the infusion was done. It was amazing! My hands started to look more pink rather then orange too.
This was only the start of my journey with my anemia. Next we had to get to the root of WHY I was anemic. But I will save that for another post because it’s a pretty crazy story too.
The reason this post come to mind today was because I was thinking of the coronavirus as it is starting to break out here in the United States.
There are a lot of people struggling with fear of what feels like a death sentence. For me, I was really really sick and yet I was avoiding getting the help I needed. I didn’t think I had time and I was too scared to go and get a bad diagnosis, so I excused my symptoms away. It wasn’t until things got so terrible, until I honestly thought I might be dying, that I went to the doctor. Now I’m so glad I did, if I had waited longer, who knows what would have happened. My feeling of death was what saved me from a worse situation. And heres the thought that ties this all together.
What if this virus, that feels like a death sentence, (and yes, I realize for some it is) but what if it’s actually the thing that brings life? When I say life, I mean spiritual life.
What if the fear of death is what brings us to a place of repentance and worship of God. What if this fear drives us to desire realationship and oneness with God. If that happens, then we can say, by God’s grace it was worth it!
Obviously, we never wish or ask for painful things on us or others. But friends, on the flip-side, when painful things do happen, we are not without hope!!! When painful things happen, we have a choice. To be angry at God or to come to Him. When we open our hand to God, he in his almighty power and love, will use those very things, for our good. Do we believe He is able?
If this makes you fearful or angry, talk to God about it. He already knows you are feeling that way, so tell him. And then worship him. Even if you don’t feel like it. Lift your hands up and worship, in the midst of your tears and fear and anger, worship is still possible. And that posture of worship brings us in under his wing of protection. He will give us a sound mind (2 Timothy 1;7), one that is able to resist the panic of fear. Rather, we can rest in him and he will speak tenderly to us in that place of desolation, Hosea 2:14-15. So pray, read God’s word, and worship. And that, my friends, is where the miracle of new life begins.
I daily pray for protection on my family, our nation and our world as the coronavirus spreads. But I also pray for a spiritual awakening. I want to see God glorified in this devestation. I want the enemy to know that what he intended for evil against mankind, that God is using for good. I pray for the salvation of God to spread as far and as wide as the coronavirus. That there would be, as a friend said, a pandemic of salvation! I am so thankful to know that there are others praying for God to move in this pandemic. Oh to see what God sees! That the world may know…
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Read more about us, as we are living life with six kids.