"In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry. May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm. May He send you help from His sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem." Psalm 20:1-2
The past month has seen little change in Anna's health. In fact, to those of us who see Anna occasionally, sometimes it seems like her joints are worse (because her main issue is her knees, we notice when she walks and as she moves around). We're at the point in our journey where this blog is not always first-hand information. Anna is officially an adult and manages her own health and contacts her doctors on her own. I only log into her Health Portal if she asks me to (to get my feedback on a message from her doctor, etc.). Those occasions are rare. Last I heard from Anna in regards to her messaging her doctor, she was waiting to hear from her rheumatologist, after inquiring about steroid injections to the knee (or knees--I'm not even clear on that!)
Anna has had two eye appointments since I last gave an update. The right eye has more inflammation (frequency of eye drops was increased); the left eye inflammation was a bit better; the swelling in the back of the eye is not worse, but no better. Next week, if there is no change with the Macular Edema, she will most likely receive another ocular injection.
Anna is like the Energizer Bunny who keeps on going. Despite the challenges of stiffness and walking, I hear that she went for a hike the other day. And she continues to volunteer at the medical center, as well as with a program for some refugee children in our area. She shows up for her college classes, shows up for her work study job, has a summer job lined up, and she keeps smiling. She gently resists our suggestions for ways that might make life a little easier for her given her present circumstances, assuring us that she's doing fine!
Since I have become more of an observer than participant in Anna's health, my main role lately has been to pray fervently for Anna and her doctors and to keep the faith. (Anna does fine with that, as well.) This year of transitioning to an empty nest has me really seeking God on what He wants me to do next (sometimes the next minute, sometimes the next day, etc.) Since January, I've become more intentional in saturating myself with Scripture (thanks to a friend who recommended theFelicityBee.com---a plan for "Inscribing the Word" each day---writing God's Word on our hearts.) I've also been involved in a very convicting Bible Study with some ladies, taking a hard look at our attitudes---and striving to live a life of abundant faith instead of "wildnerness living."
At this moment, this JA Journey seems so very challenging. We keep waiting to see if the medications prescribed for Anna (much less potent than any of the TNF inhibitors that worked so well but caused medication-induced lupus) will make a difference in her quality of life. I can't remember when Anna's health was lower than it is right now.
I talk so often in this blog about our Creator God (our Redeemer, our Lord) who loves us more than we can even know. I have to tell you---if you have read most of my blog posts, you know that God puts a lot of songs in my head---especially when I wake up in the middle of the night or in the mornings. The song that was in my head in the early morning before Anna's eye appointment last week was "Overwhelmed" by Big Daddy Weave. As the song was running through my head, I was talking to God, praying about the upcoming appointment, and telling Him that I really wanted to be overwhelmed by Him that day. I wanted to feel Him and have some tangible evidence of my faith. When the Retina specialist was talking to us, I accepted the fact that we weren't going to overwhelmed with good medical news that day. But can I tell you that in the next 24 hours, whenever I checked Facebook and saw some shared posts (like a Beth Moore video clip or some blurbs of encouragement by Anne Voskamp), or when I worked on my Bible Study homework or my "Inscribe the Word" project for this year, or when I got in the car with my favorite Christian radio station on---I WAS overwhelmed by God's presence. Every word in those posts or on the radio or in the Scripture I was reading was penetrating my soul---all of them were pointing to the very same Scriptures (and I don't believe in coincidence), so I read them several times that day. I was thinking later that it was almost like being blanketed with God's love that day. And I know why God doesn't do that every moment of every day---His love and care is so overwhelming that I would be a blubbering mess of gratefulness and not be able to function. As I watched my son run a Steeplechase race on Saturday---a difficult, long, and grueling race---I was thinking that our journey can be like that, and we have God as our "coach" and Father, and a great cloud of witnesses (like the fans at a track meet) who are cheering us on and encouraging us and loving us through the grueling obstacles we face.
We still have "this hope as an anchor." Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement. My Bible Study homework this past week was on "faith." Replacing our attitude of doubt with a heart of faith. The homework talked about the importance of surrounding ourselves with other people of growing faith who will encourage us and pray for us and speak Scripture into our lives. Some of you do that for us. Thank you.
And just in case you like to watch YouTube videos, here is a song which God used to speak to my heart on that day I asked Him to overwhelm me. It was playing on the radio, and in that moment, I knew He intended it for me:
(Here are some of the lyrics before I post the link to the video)
I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone