(Heads up, this is a long blog post. Hopefully, you will find it worth it to read to the end! ❤ )
39. Yep, that’s how old I am as of just last week. I’ve made it to the last year of my 30’s. In the scheme of life I know that 39 really isn’t that old, but a little over a month ago, I didn’t think I would make it. If you remember, I had some sudden heart issues come up in the month of March. (If you’re new to our blog, go back to our March blog posts to get caught up on all the craziness of that month.)
A few days before my birthday, Josh asked me what I thought of all of what happened to me. Why do I think it happened? What might its purpose be? Is there something God was showing or teaching me during that time? Prior to him asking, I had already begun my reflections on all that happened, as I suppose most people would. But in the busyness of the last few weeks, I hadn’t taken the time to finish reflecting and share with everyone here. I’m glad he brought it back up.
First off, we’re still not sure of what caused my heart to race suddenly in the middle of the night during sleep. I have had the gamut of tests run on my heart between my 2 ER visits, 2 cardiologist appointments, an ultrasound, and wearing a heart monitor for 30 days. Nothing conclusive has come up. There was the possibility of low calcium/magnesium and low potassium. Those showed up in my blood work but not to the level that would cause my heart to race. (I am now very consistent with taking my supplements, just in case.) There’s the possibility that I had too much caffeine in my system and threw off my body. While that was true of the first time it happened, I had been completely off of all caffeine and any stimulants when the second episode happened 6 days later. My thyroid levels are good, the structure of my heart looked good, and my heart functioned exactly as it should, even in the times it was racing. Since all that checked out, one ER doctor mentioned anxiety as a possible culprit. There was also the possibility of my hormones being off balance, which apparently can happened to women starting around their late 30’s into early 40’s. In fact, I had 3 friends reach out to me saying that they had something similar happen to them around the same time in their lives and they’re fairly positive it was hormonal. Which leads me to…
Care. Through this health struggle, God has shown me how much He loves and cares for me. He showed me the community of people in my life that love and care for me as well. So many friends and family from all over reached out to say they were praying, to give a word of encouragement, and to share their own health journeys to stand in solidarity with me in mine. On top of that, God showed me I can trust that no matter where I am, He is holding me and my family. The fact that this all happened when we visited my brother and sister-in-law was His provision and grace. We were at a place we knew our children could be watched after with my various visits and appointments. My heart was truly uplifted by all the amazing people God has put in my life.
Anxiety. As I mentioned above, one ER doctor said anxiety could be an underlying factor. Josh told the doctor, “Mel is the least anxious person I know.” Honestly, just as Josh said, I didn’t think I was that anxious of a person. Sure, Josh and I have been praying through some hard things but it wasn’t any more stressful to me than other hard times in my life. But, I felt the Lord using this to help me search my heart and see what I was holding on to. I knew that if there was anything I wasn’t releasing to Him, I wanted to let it all go. I don’t want to live with anxiety and fear. In scripture it says “His perfect love casts out all fear” and “to cast ALL my cares upon Him.” And so, that’s what I started to do. I asked God to fill me with His perfect love and show me anything that I was holding onto, even the slightest bit. Here’s what God revealed I was anxious over: choosing the right schooling option for our children next year; what will we be doing and where will we be at in life next year based on our experiences on this trip; even down to the constant battle in my mind that I’ve had over my weight and appearance since I was a little girl. There was one more though…
Fear. One aspect of my life I didn’t realize was holding such a tight grip on me came to reveal itself while I was at my brother’s church in Kansas City, MO. At the end of the service, the pastor invited anyone who wanted prayer for anything to come to the altar to be prayed for. Josh and I went down and had my heart prayed over. When we sat back down, the pastor told people they could leave but if they wanted to stay longer, he was going to open up a time of testimony. I felt very strongly that the Lord wanted me to stay in the room. I didn’t understand why until one woman stood up and shared about her own health struggles and needing to come to a place of releasing her children to God, trusting that He would take care of them and provide for them, even if she died. A flood of emotions crashed over me. In that instant, I knew I was holding on to my children with way too tight a grip and wasn’t trusting God to care for them. As I sat there crying and praying for forgiveness for my lack of trust, a woman came and prayed for me and I could feel God’s peace wash over me. I know that He loves and cares for my children so much more than I ever could and that no matter what, whether I live or die, He has them in His hand.
Death. The concept and truth of death is something the Lord has been speaking to me and solidifying in me over and over on this trip. We have been to multiple National Parks now. In almost every place we’ve been, we have learned how fires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are actually good. While they are tragic at the time, there is evidence that without them, new life would not be possible. There are seeds that cannot grow until they are burned by fire. There are plants and wildlife that cannot thrive unless the things that do not belong in an area are swept away to make way for their survival. There are such things as nurse logs, which are trees that have fallen down, and in their death they have become a nutrient rich habitat for new plants to grow. Isn’t it fitting that God would set up natural examples in life to teach us spiritual principles? To show us the truth of Jesus dying for us, then raising to life to conquer death, so that when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, repent and die to ourselves and what we want in life (our earthly and fleshly desires), and receive His Spirit to empower us in this life we truly LIVE! We get to live with Him for all eternity, starting now and continuing after we pass from this life to the next! How great is our God!
Perspective. About 5 years ago, the Lord began breaking my heart for the most vulnerable in our world, especially children. He began showing me how due to extreme poverty, children are especially susceptible to trafficking, being orphaned, and getting sick and dying from completely preventable diseases and lack of health care. That’s when He connected me with World Vision and opened the way for me to volunteer as a Child Ambassador, to speak up and share what is happening to these children, HIS children, and how we can be a part of bringing change and healing to them and their families. If you recall from a blog post in February about my trip to Guatemala, I had the amazing opportunity to meet our little sponsored girl’s family. I did not get to meet her because a month before I was set to go, little 2 year old Vanesa passed away from a heart condition she was born with. The community we sponsored her in was just starting out with World Vision and did not have close or adequate health care to ever take care of her condition. On top of that, they simply didn’t have the money to take her to the doctor. It was in her death and the meeting of her family that the Lord broke my heart even more for His hurting children. How fitting, then, is it that I ended up with my own heart problems. Perhaps it was to help me realize how blessed we are to live where we do with a stable income that could provide for all the sudden health care costs AND to speak up even more for those who live in the poorest corners of our world who have nothing when health care (and other) crises come up. We CAN do something about it! We can sponsor a child for a mere $39 a month (such a drop in the bucket for so many of us) and make a way for a healthy, thriving life for that child, their family, and their community. (Just so you know, when I met Vanesa’s family I learned she had an older sister, Karla, who was eligible for sponsorship. We now sponsor her and are able to maintain a connection with that family. I know the Lord brought us together! Through death, new life is beginning to happen for them and their whole community!)
Life. I told Josh while he was with me in the ER, when I thought for sure I was dying, that I wanted my death to bring new life for others. I wanted my memorial service to be full of worship music that draws people into the amazing life with Jesus and instead of people bringing flowers (or whatever else people bring to memorial services) I wanted children to be sponsored. I wanted so many little faces displayed where people could choose a child to accept into their extended family and see their lives grow and flourish. I essentially wanted to be that nurse log that creates a habitat for new life to grow. I’m obviously not dead yet. God still has more for me to do on this earth. So I will keep on living as He wants me to and I will keep on speaking up for the poor and vulnerable in our world and asking anyone and everyone who’s heart is willing to sponsor a child through World Vision to do it. Reach out to me if you feel the Lord tugging on your heart. In fact, here’s a link for you to go choose a child right now. www.worldvision.org/sponsor-a-child?campaign=316014201
So, in a nutshell, what have I learned? That God is Good no matter what, He’s taking care of me and my family, He has me exactly where He wants me, I can completely trust in Him for all things, and He uses ANY situation for my good and the good of others. And I know He promises the same for you when you choose to trust and obey Him too! Thank you, Jesus!