Thursday, January 23, 2014

Grace Gifts of this Moment

This afternoon I am basking in the sunshine and thinking of the many graces God has put into my life. Yes, life has challenges in it. Everyone has their own unique set of challenges. Today I am purposing to look past the challenges and see what I can be grateful for in this moment. And hopefully, I will keep doing this moment by moment and day by day until living in a grace focused life of joyful gratitude becomes a lifestyle. That is my prayer.

Besides God's own presence in my life, one of my greatest gifts of His grace has been my husband. My husband loves me for who I am, as I am. He is faithful, compassionate, goofy, hard working, playful, ready to serve others, laughs easily, romantic, a great listener, not easily ruffled or frustrated and passionate about God. He is supportive and understanding with me on my bad health days and ready to play or do projects together on my good days. If my bad days interfere with scheduled plans, he takes them with easy grace and a joyful attitude. He enables me to see truth and points me to God, to feel love and acceptance I never thought possible. He truly sees beauty in me even with the gravity pull of age and the graying hair.

Today I had the joy of a surprise visit of a very dear friend who moved halfway across the country last spring. We text, IM and FaceTime but an in person time to jaw and be real was truly like Proverbs 25:25 "Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." She is a friend who has connected with me on a level like no other one, As Anne of Green Gables would say, "we are kindred spirits". Today she saw me very "real" as I was in the shower when my doorbell started going "Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding"... But she is the friend you don't mind seeing no matter how you or your house looks (which was very good thing today!!) We have such similar family backgrounds that our families may be clones and we both even have grand kids with long term health issues and challenges. We have that "iron sharpens iron" relationship where we both encourage and hold one another accountable to the truth of the Gospel. God has used her in so many ways to graciously point me to Him and grow me in living in truth and confidence in God rather than fear. Another beautiful thing, is our relationship goes both ways. So thankful for the grace gift of a crazy ringing doorbell and my surprise visit!!

After my visitor left, I basked in the warm sunshine in my back yard oasis and transplanted some of my herb plants and enjoyed the flowers and sunlight sparkling on the water in our new fountain in the middle of our garden. The fountain is visible from our kitchen/family room and patio and so enjoyable to watch the broad billed hummingbirds and Anna's hummingbirds use it for a drinking fountain.This reminded me of the gracious gifts of our senses. Sight to see and enjoy the colors and play of light on the flowers, birds, the fountain and wide expanse of blue skies. Ears that hear the babbling water, the songs of birds and whir of hummingbird wings. The sense of smell to inhale the sweet aroma of the stocks, pansies, and other flowers; to breathe in the fragrance of of the basil, chives and thyme as I planted them in the earthy smelling rich garden soil.  I am so glad for taste buds to savor the fresh tomatoes I picked from our ancient vines that are still producing. Engaging and enjoying what I have in our yard-in-progress rather than pining that it isn't as lush or our landscaping as fully grown out as at our last home.

Hubby very recently completed building these four garden boxes and plumbing and setting up our fountain.

Last year's garden was only the 15 canoe (which you can see part of in this photo) and two six foot stock tanks along the side wall. All a slow work in progress to put in an eclectic potager style garden.

Too often it is easy to focus on what I need to get done, I can't do or I don't have or the mountains of challenges looming in the future, rather than look for the blessings of this moment... each moment. I long to consistently see life through the lens of gratitude for all God allows in it.

I so want to be like David in Psalms 34:1

 " I will bless the LORD at all times;
                         his praise shall continually be in my mouth."

May each of you have grace focused vision to glimpse His grace gifts of this moment!



Tuesday, January 21, 2014

This Canary is Flying Free!!

Today I am rejoicing and celebrating in God's goodness to me. Today I feel like a bird released from captivity in a cage to once again fly free!! I am so grateful and feeling so blessed!!
People with MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) are often referred to as canaries as we react to things before others do much like the canary in the mines. I was diagnosed with MCS and chronic leukemia in spring of 2011. I have been getting so much worse in recent months and had lost so much of the ground I had gained in treatment in 2011. Yesterday had an appointment with my environmental doctor who is both an internal medicine MD and a homeopath. I went in feeling quite discouraged and imprisoned in my home. I was looking at a future of potentially being completely housebound and wondering how God would ever be able to use me to do ministry anymore or how I would be able to have others minister to me. I left feeling so improved and hopeful.
Yesterday, my doctor shared that beginning July 15, 2013, the state of Arizona required all construction water tanks, tank trucks and road sweepers to add this acrylic polymer dust suppressant to the water to help settle the dust. This was enacted to lower dust levels enough in the state of Arizona to meet EPA levels which would then enable the state to get federal funds for road building. 
Middle of September is when my increased symptoms began and just kept getting worse and worse.They progressed to the point that last week a short visit to a clothing store caused me to have all my respiratory swelling and asthma symptoms, brain fog and major fatigue, my whole body to swell up and have intense pain so I felt like I was 95 instead of 55. It took over two days for the symptoms to end. Really takes away any joy out of shopping! I have missed numerous events the last couple months due to my reactions including church. When I do attend, I come home sick as it seems the slightest bit of perfumes, scented body care and laundry products set me off.
Middle of September is also when they broke ground on a school they are building less than three blocks from our home. Also two new housing divisions a few blocks north of us started going in. As part of the dust control, besides spraying the nearby construction sites, they send a road sweeper down our street every day or so and of course the winds blow.
I tested very allergic to all acrylics and petrochemicals among many other things in spring of 2011 and went through a long detox process for them , as well as treating me with many supplements and homeopathic allergy drops to control reaction symptoms and 4 day allergy rotation diet.  After about a year I improved enough to function fairly well as long as I avoided certain exposures to fragrances and a few food allergies. Both my environmental doctor and my oncologist think many of my health issues may stem from having my childhood bedroom in an non-ventilated basement where my father also had his art room/silkscreen shop were he used acrylic inks, paints, and paint thinners etc. Of course in the 1960s and 1970s nobody was aware of the dangers of chemical exposures like we are today.
My appointment yesterday lasted over 2 1/2 hours! First Doc got all my monthly labs from the last year that I have for my chronic leukemia to make sure I had no kidney damage. Kidney damage was the only other thing he thought of besides these chemicals that would cause such full body swelling. After my labs confirmed no kidney disease (Praise God!!), he ran a couple tests and quickly confirmed it was as he had suspected – the dust suppressant. While I was there I had to take 20 bottles of oral homeopathic drops that have been designed to mitigate reactions and help my body begin to rid itself of the poisons. Every few bottles they would test my re-activity to decide how many more bottles. I was sent home with a maintenance dose of 10 drops three times a day. I was amazed how much better I felt physically and clearer headed I was afterwards. It was incredible and I felt better than I have since September!!
Last night on our way home we went to an organic gluten free pizza joint for dinner to celebrate and then went for quick trips into both Whole Foods and Target without any reactions!!! Praise God  I am not a complete prisoner of my home and will be able to take part in life !! Lord willing, I  should be able travel for my Dad’s 80th birthday in March and to go see two new grand babies due in the summer. Dancing for joy!!
 Please pray I continue to function well and can be involved in ministry to others as well being ministered to by them. Rejoice with us as we praise God for a better outcome than either of us anticipated and for such a drastic improvement in one afternoon!! I am praying we do not forget and lose the wonder and gratitude we are now feeling.
I am also so very thankful for how God ministered to me, while I was feeling poorly with my bad reactions, through His word and the loving concern of my husband and others. I am grateful for dear friends who would call or text me to pray or share scriptures with me.
Ephesians 3:20 
"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",
Feeling so blessed!