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A picture says so many things when you are looking carefully enough. Friday was a day we had planned for months. It was the day we would find out the sex of our baby. There are MANY reasons why this picture is so perfect.

First, let me share what the last five months has been like starting with the week I found out that I was pregnant. At 5 weeks pregnant (1 month 1 week) I was hospitalized with extreme pain & discomfort. The doctor in the ER wanted to admit me after giving me an ultrasound and telling me there was no baby in my uterus. There was signs of a pregnancy but two things would most likely happen while there. I was either experiencing an ectopic pregnancy OR I had lost the baby (even though there was no bleeding). I told him I was sure I may have been passing a stone with my known kidney disease and the frequency of stones I get, but he was giving me the other scenario. After a few days in the hospital and blood work they did determine it was kidney infection and a stone passing. But, why was there nothing in my uterus?? After a week they gave me another US and there on the monitor was my baby with a strong heart beat. I was sent home on bed rest for the remainder of the 1st trimester. It was extremely hard to have no activity and be restricted to my bed for the next three months. Edema was terrible and with water retention & lack of activity I gained 25lbs in three months. The swelling in my hands, legs, face & feet is crazy.

Secondly, this past week my husband was informed that his brother had been killed. Murdered while visiting PR. The news was unexpected & brought great sadness to Joey. The recent issues with his health have been overwhelming for him & now this news. A rough season in deed.

Instead of canceling the gender reveal party on Friday, we decided to keep it going. I’m so glad we did. My cousin Michelle was the only one who knew the gender of the baby. My son Jonah was so confident that God was blessing him with a baby brother to love, play with & grow with. Even when I tried to prepare his heart that it could possibly be a girl, he wasn’t having it. Telling us that God was giving us a boy.

When we opened that box and saw blue balloons so much joy overwhelmed us. I couldn’t help but thank The Lord that even in the midst of so much tragedy & so much pain we had been facing lately, He was answering prayer & giving us our hearts desire. I couldn’t help but think, just 12 weeks earlier doctors were trying to convince me this baby would not live. I couldn’t help but think about what the last five months of being pregnant had felt like & how much pain has been felt. I couldn’t help but think that even though my husband was mourning over his brothers murder, here he was able to rejoice & so whole heartily at that. I couldn’t help but notice how much joy my family was feeling at that moment.

A picture says so much, and this one says: God is gracious!!

Can I be honest, with myself?

Finding contentment in what God considers BEAUTIFUL, when physical ailments cause such a drastic change in your body can be extremely difficult.  I know a lot of women who are pregnant right now or dealing with a physical ailment that is changing their appearance & how they feel about themselves.  When I post any kind of blog, vlog or song, I am usually very transparent & I am quick to let the reader/listener know when that specific subject affects me as well.  

I am currently pregnant with my 3rd child.  My husband & I could not be happier that God has chosen us for a third time to bring a beautiful baby into this world.  We understand the task at hand with raising this child in Christ & we also know our responsibilities of loving & protecting this child.  So we are thrilled.  

So, lets talk about what has happened the last three months of my pregnancy.  Many who follow my ministry are aware that I have issues with my kidneys.  Before I became pregnant the disease caused many issues like pyelonephritis, bladder & urinary track infections, the passing of stones, pain in both kidneys, swelling, etc.  The condition was already difficult to live with due to all the complications that came along, but add pregnancy to the mix and it seems like things tripled.  Since being pregnant I have been hospitalized, my blood pressure has been real high, I have dealt with a stone & my body is as swollen as if I ate a whole human being.  The pain & suffering that I have experienced in the last three months has seemed to be unbearable, YET I have found the joy in Christ that the bible speaks of & in my weakness God’s strength has definitely been felt & seen.  I gave the above description not to complain, but to give you clear understanding of how hard its been.  I started herbalife back in 2011 to help with the kidney issues I was having.  It was not a medicine that cured the disease, but a lot of the supplements herbalife offered, helped with things like urinary track cleanse, water retention & helping to release water from the body, and being that meat is a protein I must be careful with when it comes to my kidneys, I was drinking the shakes to help with taking in protein that I needed.  Not only did the herbalife help with my condition & stabilize it, but I was able to lose all the water and excess weight dropping 35lbs in less than a year.  I felt my best.

When I became pregnant, my doctor advised that I stop the herbalife at least in my 1st trimester.  Because no studies had been done medically, doctors do not know what is used in herbalife & since I was already a high risk pregnancy they were against me taking it.  Needless to say, I don’t feel the best.  I am retaining so much water & when I look in the mirror I don’t recognize myself.  I found myself avoiding the mirror because of how different I am looking, more weight, so much acne, swollen face,etc.

I was laying down feeling sick & immediately I thought to myself “but I thought you understood what beauty was D?!” I immediately popped up from my bed and stared out into nothing thinking “yes, yes I do know what beauty is, and the way my body is changing and how bad I feel, does not determine what is beautiful.”  

Truth: Do not let your adorning be external… 1 Peter 3:3a

Truth: let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 1 Peter 3:4b

Truth: You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you. Song of Solomon 4:7 (this is indeed my husbands heart towards me, as he reminds me of this daily)

Truth: Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Truth: I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

Truth: But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. 1 samuel 16:7 

There are SO many more BUT, this truth reigns so true for me: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 1 Corinthians 4:16”

So many women are obsessed with their looks & I thank God I have never been obsessed with looks, but as a women the comments others make can really break your spirit, especially when they have no idea what your body is going through.

I want to encourage all women, pregnant, sick, even those obsessed with their looks …. search the scriptures to read about what true beauty is.  Be that example for other women who need the truth about why they are cherished and why they are beautiful.  Let your spiritual training be so much more important to you than physically training!!! If you are sick and that illnesses has changed your appearance in an way, as it often does to me…. search the scriptures on how to overcome vanity & self absorption & really find your worth in Christ.

I am a living testimony of someone who goes through some dramatic physical changes due to illness and adding pregnancy to that tripled the process BUT I am so thankful that I know my worth, I know why I am beautiful & I know it has nothing to do with me!! 

May you be encouraged today & find your worth in Christ my sweet and beautiful sisters!!!! 

just a little transparent honesty for myself 1st!!

God is gracious. 

d

That awkward moment when you are expected to give up but don’t!

We all know that moment, when everything around us seems to be falling apart. As the days turn into weeks, one thing after another unravels & obstacles try to block the way of hope & vision. As the trials pile up, your flesh can’t help but to want to doubt, worry & question God. A Christ follower knows that when these feelings arise, the Spirit that is willing will intercede & remind us of God’s faithfulness while bringing back to remembrance the word of the Almighty. The Spirit is quick to remind us that everything we are facing will reveal God’s glory in the end. The Spirit will quickly remind us that it is an HONOR to suffer as a Christian & we will be reminded that the present suffering is building character, endurance & hope. The Spirit reminds us that this present suffering is nothing compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us. The word of God abides in our heart & because of that, NO obstacles & no suffering can lead to the outcome of giving up. Not because God owes us anything, not because we mis quote scripture to fit our needs & our mystical view of God & not because we deserve anything. We do not give up because we remain in prayer without ceasing & we do not give up because we anticipate God getting glory from every area of our life.

Many who know me & my family know the situation with both my health & my husbands disease. We have been very open about sharing our testimony with others because we see God’s hand in everything He allows in our life. A little over two years ago I was in terrible shape with my kidney. The infections I was getting in my kidney & bladder were at one point a monthly event. Hospitals became my second home. After one hospital stay back in October 2012, a sister of mine recommended that I start a herbal supplement to help with my condition. I was extremely skeptical, but I decided to try anything at this point. After a month on the new regimen I saw great results. I was urinating frequently (something that was very difficult for me to do with retention), I was seeing infections less & the swelling in my body dropped within weeks. I praise God for allowing ministry to have brought in the finances I needed at the time (with concerns I was having to bring in finances, album sales, etc.) that allowed me to remain on herbalife for 18 months. It changed my life & helped me so much.

When the finances began to run out almost two years later, I was forced to go back on prescription medication & daily antibiotics. After just two months being back on meds, I saw the negative results. I felt worse on the medication, I was extremely tired all the time, I gained almost 25 lbs (after loosing 35), I felt more pain in my body & I was moody. Being back on the meds also caused a miscarriage which has been really painful for me. With my health feeling back at its worth, we also found out that my husband needs a second surgery this time in his spine (the first surgery was in his brain). With the stress of my health & now my husbands, we began seeing the trials pile up. The physical, emotional & mental pain has been so great & many times screams out that we need to give up, BUT how awkward is that when we stare doubt in the face & say NO, we will never give up. Loosing the baby has been such a difficult time. We hardly talk about it and no one really knew, but that event in our life has caused great pain. So many times I began to blame myself for taking medicine & for having such an unreliable body, but then I was quickly reminded that even in the midst of great suffering & pain, I must remember God & His faithfulness to us, even when we are so faithless.

Everyone is different & we all deal with mourning differently. Some of us throw in the towel and simply give up on believing in the unseen, while others find the strength to keep holding on, even if it is barely touching the hem of his garment.

Though greatly discouraged & deeply burdened, I am praying daily for God’s word that abides in my heart to be brought into remembrance every time my flesh tells me to simply give up.

A season of suffering that seems like it is never ending, is NOTHING compared to God’s glory that WILL be revealed.

My main focus cannot be constantly praying for the season to end, because if it is God’s will for us to suffer until death then He will give us the strength to endure & He will walk with us through the storm. Look at the disciples, all but one was martyred and suffered until death. So those who tell you that it isn’t God’s will to suffer, really have not studied the lives of the many who suffered until death. Many around the world are suffering and will suffer until they take their last breath & still they do not give up because their eyes are on the eternal perspective, not this world & their current suffering.

I want to encourage those suffering for so long that cannot even remember when they did not feel such pain, DON’T GIVE UP!! Let the gospel of Christ be your hope, be your daily bread. When others try to tell you that you should “claim” your healing, or “claim” your deliverance…. Remember that the only thing you need to claim is having faith that God is sovereign, God is eternal & God will walk with you. It is better to be in the house of mourning, as God draws so close to the broken!!

YES, God is ALL powerful & able to remove our pain & suffering, BUT He allows it for the building up of His people & He wants us to believe that even in the midst of the worst suffering, His glory will be revealed which means, the suffering will turn to joy in His time!!!

Praise God that after the loss of our baby, the medications that have destroyed my body and a 25lb weight gain, I am going back to trusting God to meet my needs & have stopped ALL prescription medicine. I am going to be taking the herbalife again & trusting God to see me through.

My husband has his neurosurgery appt end of March, and we are also trusting God to walk with us in the midst of whatever comes.

God is with us !! God is with you… So do not give up!!

D

Syringohydromyelia

It’s been a while since I have posted a blog.  So much has happened & while many of the things that have taken place over the course of six months+ have been difficult, I cannot help but to experience God’s peace through it all.

My health has been ok with doctors visits here & there, but overall I have things stable.  It’s refreshing to say that.  Things for my husband have not been the greatest BUT, God sustains & grants us peace.

For the last year+, we have been patiently waiting for the VA Hospital to act on new developments that were found on an MRI done in November of 2012.  After waiting so long & nothing being done, we fought hard to have them re-take all brain & spine scans to see if changes had taken place due to their delay in treatment.  The new testing was done on January 23rd.  A week later we heard from the VA and they scheduled Joey for a visit with the Neurosurgery dept.  It turns out that the MRI showed changes that concerned them and have made Joey a candidate for surgery.  He received a craniectomy in 2005 for Chiari Malformation with syringohydromyelia.  A second surgery is now being discussed to address the chronic syringohydromyelia & changes within the lumbar spine, thoracic and sacrum.  

The VA usually takes 5-6 months to schedule an appt with surgery but they fit Joey in for the end of March, which is a huge breakthrough.  He has been dealing with neurological chronic pain and discomfort for so long, that it started to become hopeless for him.  After praying & trusting God completely to guide us in the right direction, we are seeing results.

We have no idea what the second surgery will entail, we do not know the pros or cons yet, and it is a decision that will need to be made after much prayer and consideration.

Right now Joey is on the pain management program with the VA (which is not helping much) but, alleviates some pain for the time being.

It’s been such a very long journey & often times it has felt as though we are in a dry dessert with no water or hope anywhere to be found.  When these feelings begin to arise, we are then reminded by the Spirit (who brings the word back to remembrance) that God is eternal: therefore he is already at that appt and knows the results of where we go next. God is gracious & compassionate.  God is so many beautiful things and His peace that surpasses all understanding is ours!!! 

I can’t say that it isn’t discouraging to have been in this place of trials and burdens for so long, yet I do know that God is building our character & He will ultimately get the glory out of our lives & these trials.  

Thank you everyone is s so consistent in praying for us & standing with us.

I will update my blog with more once we know the next move.

Your sister in Christ,

D

Cushion of the sea.

Today in service my pastor shared a really amazing story with us. This crew was out at sea in a submarine & they traveled really low in the water to what sailors & seamen call the cushion of the sea. There was a violent storm at sea one night and when the storm was over and the submarine emerged from the sea, they asked the captain how bad it felt when the sub was under water due to the raging storm that went on the night before. The captain of the sub replied: “what storm”?! They were safe in the cushion of the sea, deep enough to remain hidden from the storm.

For the christian, God is our cushion of the sea. When the storms rage and the waters of affliction crash about, we are comforted by His perfect peace. God’s peace hides us from turmoil. We are hidden deep in the shadow of His wings & when we rise above the chaos, we can rest in the truth that we remain safe in Him.

For those who are facing broken times, mourning a loss, hurting or feeling alone, etc….. I pray that you rest in the fact that the God of peace is with you. He is your cushion of the sea.

What is to come..

In August 2012 I released my first Indie project Vindicated: The makings of a Worshipper. It was my first project & after I had released it, I knew there was still so much more molding going on in my life, so much more developing going on & so much more growing happening in my walk & in the midst of the storm I was facing when I started writing for Vindicated and still happen to be in.
I do believe that everyone who is called & chosen by God to go out & labor in the harvest of ministry is designed & equipped with specific tools for their mission fields. I always knew I couldn’t hit the highest notes or riff ridiculously, but what I could do was share the gospel of Christ & worship with my whole heart to The Lord. What I would do is be transparent (not to much where some couldn’t handle, but enough to let them know I have been where you are or were) & share my redeemed life because of what my Redeemer did for me.
I try my best to not focus on the bodily ailment that at one time I was very open to speaking about, but realized I no longer want the focus to be on the affliction I am faced with. I want eyes and ears to be fixed on the one who removes afflictions & sees fit to allow afflictions to those who can bear it for His name sake, because it will bring glory to His name. We see examples like this in scripture when Paul is talking to Timothy telling him to mix wine with his water for his stomach pain & frequent ailments in 1 Timothy. We also read what Paul wrote to the church of Galatia: “You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first,
and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. Galatians 5:13-14”
There is definitely no doubt that being in the night or storm for such a long time can be a really painful experience. I realized just yesterday that as The Lord is developing me into a Worshipper, I refuse to let myself grieve. The moment I start to feel the grief or pain of what is going around me, I immediately stop the grieving process from even taking place. But at yesterday’s Sunday night crossover service pastor Tommy hit on the very thing that has been keeping me from letting it out. So I am not going to let that continue to happen. I am learning how to grieve and how to let others grieve with me. It’s definitely a learning experience and a process but its all part of this walk with Jesus. I writing it all down!!!

As I begin to work on my next project, I am seeing all of the ways that God is speaking to me through His Spirit & I am so encouraged. I am looking forward to sharing the experience with others who are going through similar struggles and need that hope & encouragement as well. The life of the servant is one where we have laid down our life in full surrender and are yielded to obedience. It is such a beautiful thing!
Back in 2012 I realized God had started to develop a Worshipper out of me. He continues to develop & mold me. As I picture myself in the potters house, I can picture him molding this clay, taking His time & little by little an image is forming. When others see me on whatever platform He opens doors for, it is His Image they will see.

Jesus Wept.

I am currently working on a song entitled “Jesus Wept” in regards to John chapter 11.  In the last few years, I have read that chapter several times and it has moved me in so many different ways. During the writing process of the last album/project or whatever you would like to call it, I struggled so much with what I knew God was telling me but how I could relay that message to others.  I have always been so worried and focused on pleasing people and worried about the critic of man, that I would forget that behind the words was a message for those who would hear it and may be going through the very things that I had been going through and who needed to hear the gospel whether they were unsaved or saved and needed a reminder (as we always need to hear the gospel over and over again). Forgive me for my MEGA run on sentences. (I was definitely not called to be an editor. lol) It was then that I remembered how much John 11 has impacted my life.  This is how:

The chapter starts by stating some important key factors. 1. Mary knew and believed that Jesus was Lord, she and her family walked with Him. 2. The sisters say to Jesus “he whom you love is ill”. ——- This showing us that they went to Jesus for help and also that Jesus had a deep love for Lazarus. Verse 4 is so important in this recorded event, Jesus says to the sisters “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the son of God may be glorified through it.” The chapter tells us that because Jesus loved all three of them, He stayed a little longer because Lazarus was ill before departing.  While away, Jesus knows when Lazarus dies.. so he tells His disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” (I could cry over and over again reading that.) Jesus tells his disciples, the ones who walked with Him.. that for their sake He was glad that He was not present when Lazarus died, so that they might believe. Interesting. 

When Jesus returns Martha goes to Jesus first and yells at him saying, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died!” Jesus tells Martha that her brother will rise again, but Martha thinks He is referring to the resurrection on the last day. Jesus responds by telling her that He is the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? She answers with a YES. 

a little further down we see Mary come into the picture, she does exactly what Martha did, telling Jesus “if you had been here my brother would not have died!” … Now, this is the same Mary who we know walked with Jesus but, in her grief she was overwhelmed with sorrow and though Jesus told her that Lazarus’ illness would not lead to death, but that they would instead see the glory of the Lord…. she must have doubted that because all was hopeless, so it seemed. Jesus could have done what He did with martha and said “Mary, stop crying… I am going to raise your brother from the dead!!” Instead, the bible records that Jesus is deeply moved and His spirit is troubled and so He weeps. 

He finds out where the body is laid and when he goes again it says He is deeply moved, I am sure he expressed sorrow with them.  After telling them to roll away the stone of His tomb, martha says “but Lord he has been dead four days there will be an odor…” (instead of rejoicing thinking, He is about to raise my brother…He is God…) and Jesus responds with “Did I not tell you, that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

After praying to the Father out loud so that they could witness it, Jesus calls out to Lazarus and bound the man comes forth. Jesus has them unbind him and let him go.

How beautiful it was for Jesus who knew that He was going to raise Lazarus to show the people compassion even in the midst of their doubt.  God is veracity, absolute truth and all that He says is true. He told those sisters that their brothers illness would not lead to death but that He would get glory, and that is what came to pass…. and although they yelled at him for not being there, Jesus understood their mourning and was moved and troubled with them and weeps with them, knowing that in just a little while those tears would be tears of joy when Lazarus would be awakened…. yet still he weeps in sorrow with them. His display of compassion moves me so much because so many times we read about it being better to be in the house of mourning, or how sorrow is better than laughter… we read about suffering, persecution, etc. Then I read a biblical recording such as this and I see that Jesus wept with His people, He understood their sorrow & was close to them in this time, He stood with them & although He knew the overall outcome was that He would get the glory and that they would experience joy in the end, that never took away from the fact that the mourning process is a painful one and that in our sorrow we need comfort, we need hope, we need peace. 

My family has experienced many hardships in the recent years & those hardships continue to increase as health issues, financial & other stresses take their toll…. but as I think about the character of God and His attributes, I am comforted knowing that this mighty God who saw fit to create me, and knows how much I can bear, is also walking with me…I imagine if someone were to tell him about me, they would say “Dinah whom you love is ill”… because I KNOW He loves me!! I am also so confident that His response would be, my illness will lead to Him getting ALL the glory and I already know that I am alive with Christ eternally, so it cannot lead to my death. 

As I face trials and hardships currently, I am not afraid to say it hurts or that I am going through more lows than highs. I am not afraid to say that I spend a lot of time in the house of mourning.  I do experience MUCH joy in my life, but for this season (however long it has been going on and however long it will last), it has been so extremely hard… yet I am comforted with this thought…

I am not alone as I mourn and feel the pain of the hardships we experience. It’s ok to let it out to the people that I know care for me (and I am SO thankful for my close friends who have stuck by us this entire time, we love you) and its ok to cry.

After all, Jesus wept. 

I keep on because He keeps on

Recently I have been flooded with emotions.  I had been going through this roller coaster of highs and lows, and it seemed as though the stops were hitting more lows each time the roller coaster would take it’s trip.  Even when I didn’t want to too, and though no one “seemed” to be handling the controls….I was finding myself on yet another roller coaster ride and the lows were unbearable. At least, that is how it seemed.  I remember back in 2002 having a very intense phone call with my father, arguing the fact that my “plans” were better than any plan God had for my life.  In that conversation, I remember him saying to me “Dinah, you are just like Jonah!! God has a work for you and you are so disobedient!! You intend to run from God, but there is no where to run from God. No matter what you try to do and where you try to hide, God will make Himself known to you.  Even if He has to swallow you whole in the belly of a big fish for you to listen. Obey!!” Of course, I ignored my fathers voice and went my own way.  But God remained close to me.  Shortly after that time that fish came to pay me a visit and I spent time with the Lord. Of course not under water and not in the actual belly of a whale but due to some circumstances that arose at that time and the location, I spent some time away from my husband and literally alone with the Lord and it was then that the Lord made radical changes in my life.  The way He spoke to my heart, the way He brought me such peace and comfort in the midst of trials and the way that He assured me all would be well, I was sure that no matter what came my way, I would keep my trust in Him and obey Him.  From 2004 until now my family and I have faced varies of trials from physical ailments (both myself with my MSKD and my husband with Arnold Chiari Malformation w/ Syringohydromyelia), we almost faced divorce BUT God and the list goes on.  I realize now that everything that has happened in our life was most definitely ALL for the glory of God.  I look at our lives together and how far we have come and I am just so full of overwhelming joy to even be apart of a testimony so full of restoration & so full of love & hope. In the time that all of this has taken place, there have been many times that I have wanted to give up, many times when depression has been so overwhelming to the point where suicide seemed like the only possible solution.  I told myself that my family would be better off.  Depression can be so overpowering and the need to want to be with Jesus so great that death just seems like the only answer and patience is so far from tolerable.  I remember in 2009 having to be checked into St. Josephs Psych Ward after an attempt to take my own life.  The depression at the time was so real and at that time the situation had become so unbearable.  I remember while I was in the ward my father came to visit with me and asked me what I wanted him to bring me and all I wanted was my bible.  Inside the ward, they kept giving me different drugs so often times I would see my son running around my room, even though in reality he was not really there.  One night I could not take it anymore so I left my room to read in the cafeteria and as I read my bible there a girl asked me what I was reading. I remember sharing with her the gospel.  I told her why I was there and how I knew that I really was not hopeless, Jesus was my hope.  I was wrong for what I had done and didn’t want to wallow in self pity but needed to repent.  After I shared the gospel with her, I remember her getting up to walk away from me. I thought to myself… man, maybe I scared her away.  But, shortly after se returned to tell me that she had gone to her room alone to pray to God to also ask her to forgive her. She told me it was the first time she had prayed in over ten years.  I was in the ward for over a week and everyday I shared with her the gospel of Jesus.  Though depression led me to attempt in killing myself, I ended up sharing the gospel with a young woman and she went on her own to repent and pray to God for salvation.  I kept on because He keeps on.  

I couldn’t help but remember that this week as so many things have been going on lately in my life.  I was talking to one of my close sisters recently just telling them about the roller coaster of highs and lows that I have been on.  How the Lord is always encouraging me to keep on pressing on no matter how low I feel, because He will lift me up.  I know that because of mistakes that I have made and gossip, or misunderstandings… I have lost important people in my life, people I once called “friend” now act as if I do not even exist.  The pain I feel to know that I am treated a certain way now or have been spoken about because maybe someone heard I was committed to St. Joes, or maybe I was too transparent at one of my events and I shared about my depression and so it left them feeling a certain ay about me…. etc. I just know that all I can do is love God and love others. Live out 1 John 2:6, if I claim to abide in Christ then i MUST walk as He did.  I must strive to carry the burdens of others, no matter what.  

It gets so hard. My heart hurts so much sometimes with how cruel some people can be with their words and with gossip.  My heart hurts so much with how people can be with unforgiveness. BUT no matter what, I keep on because He keeps on.

I keep on what you ask?

I keep on loving.

#Prayer
(There are probably tons of grammar errors due to my amazing phone spell check. My apologies off the top)
Those of you who know us personally know the situation with my husbands brain. In 03 he was discharged from active duty as an US airmen after they told him scans of his head (he had done after falling from a loader) showed he had a brain conditon called Arnold Chiari Malformation. The brain stem (cerebellum) protrudes low and sat close to the entrance of his spinal canal. A normal cerebellum sits higher within the back our head. Joey’s hung low into the entrance of his cervical spine. When he fell off the loader the stem fell lower into the spine aggravating a condition called syringohydromyelia (syrinx). It is liquid that clots within a cavity of the spine & if left untreated can eat away at the spinal canal causing permanent damage to the nerves & spine. When Joey was diagnosed in 2003 it was shortly after he had fallen & he was still in the Military, at that time they were giving him a hard time with what they were going to do because it was his turn to ship out to iraq. But then this occured. So after a year of medical board hearing, they released him as a disabled veteran into the VA. It took another year of the VA finding a neurosurgeon who would be able to perform the Decompressive Craniectomy that Joey needed to relieve the pressure & collapse the syrinx in the spine. At the time they informed us that the surgery was not a cure but a way to slow down the process of the disease. They offered to place shunts inside of his spine that would drain out any other syrinx but told us the risks involved. We decided not yo do it. His surgery took 12hrs on November 25th 2005. For 7 seven years he had regular visits to the VA hospital to regulate pain & monitor his condition. On Dec. 7th 2011 They gave Joey repeat Brain scans & spine scans because his symptoms had been increasing over that last year more frequently & his pain more intense. The results of that scan showed he had another syrinx growth & they referred us to another neurosurgeon. We went in to see his regular doctor who told us that Joey was sick again & he increased all of his medications. Made sure Joey received everything that would help keep him comfortable & told us that we needed to be patient & wait on the VA to schedule an appt with a neuro team. See, being a veteran means we deal with the government & the way they work is at their own pace. It took them seven months to contact us to let us know that the scans he had done back in dec. 2011 were done without contrast & now they needed some with contrast, so on November 6th 2012 … 11 months after the first set of scans, they gave him the second set of testing. Two days later on November 8th we received the results that the syrinx had now grown in length from the cervical spine where it originally started back in 05 to the T9 of his thoracic spine. We were told that the neurosurgeon doctor would contact us soon. As we still had not heard & it had been a year, but about a week later we got a letter in the mail from the VA telling us that his appointment with the VA neurosurgery department was January 9th. For us it was bitter-sweet. We were happy that we finally had an appointment & that it was after the holidays, but now the reality hit that in just another month we would have to face this all over again.
I recently found this Chairi Institute in Milwaukee Illinois that did mot exist back in 2005 when Joey had his first craniectomy. Because he is a 60% rated veteran he is the only one that has health insurance so he is covered BUT, he is only allowed to be seen at the VA hospital in Tampa. He is not covered outside of that facility. Today I am writing them to ask for their help. I am putting my trust & faith in God. If it is His will, then even a simple response back will help us.
I am asking for your prayers during this time. For those brethren who are close to us, I know you have been carrying my family in prayer for a long time. It seems almost insane that not just one but two parents are ill. Joey with this & me with my kidney. For Joey, he is a veteran & has health care coverage so he has been able to keep his condition quiet for years because his surgery was so long ago. For me, I am not covered under his VA medical coverage because the VA will not give him 100% for his disability … Joey is only rated at 60%. So my health care coverage has been very expensive & it is why your support to my ministry has been greatly appreciated & we are truly thankful. I know it can be overwhelming & many times I have shared with close loved ones that I did not want to share my burdens with others for fear of what people might think. But, I am thankful that I have beautiful people close to me that reminded me that it is not about me nor is it about Joey. It isn’t about what people think. These are the realities of my life & my families life right now & this is what we are going through. I chose to share it because I do need prayer, I want to encourage as well, also want to help others that have it worse off then we do because I know for a fact that right now there are families suffering so much & they have it so much worse then this. I am reminded of that daily & it gives me a chance to be thankful for what I do have!!!
I am reminded of the story of Lazarus. Jesus was greeted by Martha & Mary when he arrived in Bethany who both were sad because their brother was ill. Mary was the one who washed the feet of her savior Jesus with her hair, so she knew who He was. Jesus told them specifically that this illness lazarus had would not lead to death but would instead lead to the son of God being glorified. A few days later he leaves. When He returns, He finds them weeping because Lazarus had died. When He was accused of too late & when He looked around to see their reaction, the bible records that His spirit was overwhelmed & He wept. This is recorded to have happened twice. But why? Was it really because Jesus was sad that lazarus had died? Or was it because Jesus, who was indeed their savior, the son of God had already told them that the illness would not lead to death?? Why couldn’t they believe that?? I do believe Jesus was sad to see them hurting so much because John records that Jesus loved all three, but He told them the illness would not lead to death because as God He knew He would raise lazarus from the dead. He tells them this by saying “it is for the glory of God, so that the son of God may be glorified through it.” In verse 4 of chapter 11. The bible records Jesus was greatly troubled when He wept. Not greatly sad, greatly troubled. Possibly from the unbelief of the people. Did Mary forget who Jesus was? This was the same Jesus that she washed his feet with her hair afterall. Then right before Jesus raises Lazarus he tells Martha in verse 40 “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would have seen the glory of God?” … They roll the stone away and He then lifts up His eyes to His father in heaven praying (our savior praying, so beautiful).. “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me. (Our Jesus thanking God for hearing him…so amazing) but, I said this on account of the people standing around, that they believe that you sent me.” Then Jesus cries out in a loud voice. Lazarus, come out. He has to thank God for hearing him, then telling God I know you always hear me but these unbelievers needed to hear that so they know it was you that sent me. Then what is interesting is that when lazarus comes out, he is still bound so Jesus yells for them to unbind him & let him go. Almost as if to prove one last time … See, he really is alive. Unbind him to see that this illness did not lead to death, like I told you it wouldn’t last week.
I love that story because I chose to believe that God will get glory through this situation in the lives of both myself & my husband Joey. Back in 09 him & I went through a really hard time & because of our humanity, we were hurt and we made stupid, selfish choices. We had some really amazing people who stood by our side even through out the scrutiny of that time because they believed that even through that, God would get the glory and they never stopped believing for us. I am so thankful for them. They saw the now when we couldn’t. I can’t tell you how hard this time is & how it has been for us for the last few years now. This night seems like it has been dark for so many years, I lost count. One thing remains though, I will not sit by the gate of Bethany to yell at my Jesus “you are too late”. No. I know & believe that this illness in both my body & in Joey’s body will not lead to death (even if it leads to physical death) we will live on in glory with our savior. I know God will get all the glory through it & from it & i know He reigns on the throne. We are enduring this long for a reason & we continue to share our transparency, continue to encourage the saints & will continue to believe because we trust He that loves us & remains faithful.
If you have read this, please keep our family in prayer. I thank you, love you & if i can pray for you please let me know. I have room on my back to carry your burden as well.
The website to read about Joeys disease is: www.wichiaricenter.org & you can click on both Arnold Chiari Malformation
Syringohydromyelia
He has both conditions combined.
If you would like to read more about my condition I have previous blog posts & you can hit up my website:
www.dinahmusic.com
Thank you for all the prayers, support, encouragement & donations.
Grace & peace

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