January 30, 2007

“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” —John 10:10

The title from today’s passage of “Our Daily Bread” is Existing or Truly Living?  It’s funny that having been diagnosed for over 5 years now with my kidney disease that it is now that I’ve come to the realization that I have been just “existing” for some time.  But I am glad to say that I feel that I am coming full circle now and am starting to truly live. 

Looking back to when I was first diagnosed, I remember a time when my legs were so swollen that I could not even bend them at the knee.  My head was filled with so much water that it was squishy on top of my skull.  I remember that my son was about a year and a half and I watched him play in the living room as I could not pick him up or take him out to play…and tears would stream down my face.

Then came the day when I was given steroids and diuretics and all the swelling had gone down.  I remember the day clearly as my husband, son, and I went to the beach.  The sun was glistening on the water and my son was running circles around me as he splashed the water all over his pants.  I remember the joy, the gratitude and peace that this day filled me with.  I remember committing to live a full life.  But as things came up and life got busy, I started to just exist again.

Finally, I am starting a new journey.  I commit myself to exercise, eating healthy, reading His Word, applying it and being a very prayerful child of God.  I feel that I am truly living when I read the Bible, am moved by His words and am able to teach my children what it means and how it applies to our lives.  Then as we take walks or spend time, I see things so clearly.  I now take the time to take in a deep breath filling my lungs as I praise Him for surrounding our lives with so many blessings all around.  It is in these moments that I feel that I am truly living.

May we all stop existing and start to truly live!

“To live life to the fullest is qualitatively different than merely existing. In fact, Jesus said that part of His mission was to enable us to live life to the fullest: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). He came so that we could experience life to the full—not according to the standards of a fallen world, but life as it was intended to be. It is life according to the designs and desires of the Creator of life.”—Bill Crowder

October 12, 2006

I read the following passage and thought- He “has humbled me” and I am glad.  I have so many times in my disease come to accept my condition, only to find that I haven’t “really” accepted it.  I have struggled because there are some things that I have an unshakeable faith for (through prayer) in which I believe will come to pass.  My being healed is one of them…so I always hope that it will be one day, but if it doesn’t come I will still praise Him and glorify Him because I have learned so much and continue to learn.  What I am learning right now, is that I don’t give the glory to Him.   When I lost 20 pounds (with the attempt to come off the steroids), I thought I gave praise to Him because my holistic doctor was a Christian.  My referral to her was through a Christian sister and I was financially provided to see her through Christian brothers and sisters.  But in the end, the praise always went to the doctor.  I have always also tried to put a cause to the fact that I am ill-whether it be previous sins, or what I ate or did or I even if forgot to pray for someone or something.  What I have been learning is to not place blame or try to find a reason for anything!  But to accept that whether my health is good or bad, He is in control and He is teaching me.  I am grateful to have His love that so wants me to be right with Him…And I never have nor do I ever plan to ask Him, “What have you done?”…because in all circumstances and in whatever situations, I know that He knows what is best.  And I too will praise and glorify Him.

Daniel 4:28-37 (New International Version)

The Dream Is Fulfilled
28 All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?"
The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. 32 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes."
Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.
At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever.
       His dominion is an eternal dominion;
       his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
       are regarded as nothing.
       He does as he pleases
       with the powers of heaven
       and the peoples of the earth.
       No one can hold back his hand
       or say to him: "What have you done?"
At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

August 14, 2006

A couple of days later and I again know that “Everything is going to be alright in Christ!”

August 11, 2006

I write so far and few in between each journal entry that if you’re reading this, I thank you for your time and interest.  I received my lab results and they were not so good.  My cholesterol is at an astoundingly high number.  So again I am at a loss as to how to eat and to control my diet.  When I saw a holistic doctor awhile back, she instructed me to eat a low carb diet, which meant a higher protein intake.  The great thing was that I lost 20 lbs!  But now that my cholesterol is at such a high, I need to immediately change what I have become so accustomed to eating.  It is often at these times that I don’t find my quiet times or my days to be filled with peace.  I want the Lord’s comfort.  I want the confusion to end…but the cycle continues.  I don’t feel strong enough.  I don’t feel that I have motivation enough to stop the endless cycle.  It’s only when it’s too late and I feel hopeless and down that I seek to find what I can do to stop this…or for that matter that He will.

June 17, 2006

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (New International Version)
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

"Our sufferings will diminish in importance when compared to the glory that awaits us" (Haddon W. Robinson).

I went to my kidney doctor this past week, and the good news is that the x-rays showed that there is nothing wrong with my jaw. The medication I was taking to prevent osteoporosis did not cause lasting harm.  Thank You, God! I will, however, have to take a different medication for my osteoporosis.  Hopefully I won't have an adverse effect, which is so likely with my history ;p.  And I may soon have to take a medication for high cholesterol because of the steroids.

More good news is that my kidney doctor will keep me at my current dose, even though I am spilling protein.  The amount of protein I am spilling is not so significant that we need to increase my dose in steroids at this time.  However, I must keep a vigilant eye and report any symptoms and go into the lab if symptoms persist.  Those symptoms include foam in my urine and continual weight gain from water retention.  So although it was great to see my appetite decrease and my face look a bit more “normal”, when my dose is too low I tend to relapse and gain weight. 

I try not to care, and I desperately try to cling on to the fact that God cares about the inside and not the outside...but it's hard!  The other good that has come in the midst of these difficult times is that I met another Korean-American woman with the exact same kidney disease, and it's been such a blessing to be able to share our experiences.  In addition to that, my kidneys continue to function well.   So all in all, okay.  Thank you for checking up on me and for praying!  I hope you are doing well.

May 9, 2006

Many have likened my life since my health issues to the life of Job’s.  And in the midst, I would like to say that I have responded the same as he did in still trusting in God’s goodness.  “Centuries ago, Job was hit by one wave of bad news after another. At one point his wife told him to curse God and die. Job’s response was profound: “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10).”

Well beyond my disease, I have often felt that I have needed healing for my whole image of myself.  Many have asked how I am doing, and I seem to always respond in relation to my weight.  It is an indication if I am relapsing and retaining water, but I feel that my issues go beyond that.  Now, the only way I know how to respond is to say that there are good days and there are bad days…but through it all, He is with me. 

When I hear the sincere prayers of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I can, in my heart, say that I know that I will be healed.  And I continue to taper down.  It will still take at least 13 months to completely come off if that is in His will.  But I feel that it is in those 13 months that I need to learn the lessons that He repeatedly has to teach me.  I don’t know why I don’t learn.

I always liken myself to the Israelites who had such a hard time remembering God’s blessings, praising Him and always being thankful and not returning to my old ways.  “First Corinthians 10 describes a spiritual disaster we can avoid. After the people of Israel were delivered from slavery in Egypt, they continued to turn away from the Lord. Recounting their recurring self-indulgence and its disastrous results, Paul wrote: “Now these things became our examples . . . . And they were written for our admonition” (vv.6,11). The story of their failure has been preserved so we can avoid the same disaster of disobedience.”

My disobedience is so tied with self and self-image.  When I lost 20 pounds, I was so quick to say that it was hard work and discipline.  When I lost weight another time in my life, I attributed it to working out.  With my health now, I know that I need to still be disciplined, yet know that my health is in His hands.

I hope to learn more quickly.  “The Bible is filled with example and teaching
On how to avoid all the pitfalls of sin; And if we will learn from its people and precepts,
The struggles and battles of life we can win.” —Hess                                                            
Thank You God for being so patient with me.

In the meantime, my body adjusts to the changes in medication.  I am sorry to my husband and family who have had to endure maybe only one good week out of the month.  The other 2 weeks being attributed to PMS :p.  My husband is awesome!  Shouts go out to the one who has been there through thick and thin literally and who has been by my side as he promised- through sickness and in health.  How blessed I am to have a man like him!  So for his sake…

Please pray that God would be my balance whether the chemicals are affecting me or not, that I would be aware that it affects me.

Thank you all for your prayers and support.  Like I shared with many of you, it will take at least 13 more months until I am completely off, if that is as the Lord wills. 

“Loving Father, help me not to judge Your love for me
on the basis of whether today brings good news
or bad. Help me remember that You desire to use
my circumstances to make me more like Jesus. Amen.”

Quotes taken from Our Daily Bread.

April 10, 2006

“As I look back on this road I traveled, I see so many ways He’s carried me through.
And there’s one thing that I know in my life, my Redeemer is faithful and true.”

I was listening to Stephen Curtis Chapman on our drive to San Francisco.  I first heard these songs when I was in college.  And looking back, He has carried me through so much!  As I was about to take my medication the following morning, He carried me through again.  I have a daily pill box for each day of the week, and I refill it each week.  Then each morning I pop all my medications into my mouth.  But for some reason that morning, I decided to count what was in my hand.  For two different days I had too much Prednisone (the steroid) I’m trying to taper off of.  It is a very long process to taper down and taking the wrong dose could have thrown my body off, for I have not been on that dose for over 3 months!  All I know is that God is good and His eyes are always upon us.  This song below is also from Stephen Curtis Chapman.  Thank You God for always taking care of us!

“His eyes are always upon you, His eyes never close in sleep
And no matter where you go, you will always be in His eyes
No matter where you go, you will always be in His eyes.”

March 29, 2006

I saw my kidney doctor yesterday, on March 28th.  He said that I did spill some protein in my 24 hour urinalysis, so he suggested that we stay at 15 mg, since I usually relapse under 15mg.  I told him that we were still praying and that I would like to taper down.  He said that it wasn’t so significant (my protein spill) so we could either do 15 mg every other day or drop down to 12.5 mg.  I relapsed on every other day and was afraid to drop down so significantly to 12.5, so I asked if we could see how things go at 14mg for a month and then 13mg and so on until our next appointment.  He said that it would be okay.  He told me to continue to check for signs of relapse and contact him if I am…and to ask everyone to keep praying!  I feel very uncertain right now.  Whenever I am this low in dose I have relapsed, so I’m fearful of history repeating.  I keep thinking so many sincere prayers are being said, so don’t be afraid of what the outcome might be, but keep on going knowing that no matter what, He sustains my life.  My kids were with me at my appointment and my doctor asked them, “Are you kids praying for your mommy?”  And I told him what Amanda prayed on Sunday morning before we left for church, “Dear God, Please let us have a good day.  Let there be no traffic.  And please take away mommy’s kidneys.”  The doctor replied, “God knows what she meant.”

March 15, 2006

I am sorry for not writing an update sooner.  I have felt that I don’t have the excitement as I once did when I started this journey.  I so strongly believed that I was already healed that in my heart and mind I felt that I was just on my way.  It was just a matter of time that I would be completely tapered off.  I didn’t feel that I had any new insights to share and so I’ve pretty much just kept quiet.  However when I am feeling most discouraged, I don’t believe that it is a time to be quiet.  I continue to need your prayers, love, and support.  I have my 24 hour urinalysis beginning this morning.  I have to collect every single urine for the next 24 hours.  The sad/odd thing is that for the first time in a long time, I’m starting to see more foam in my urine which is an indication that I am spilling protein.  The sad/odd thing about it is that up until now, it has been so clear for the majority of the time.  And my results will determine what my doctor does at this point.  He will either increase my dose or he will keep me here and not decrease as was hoped.  The time is crucial.  I need the impossible to happen right now, which is that even though I am spilling protein that it would not show up in the lab results.  I know He can do it, but is it in His will…or is this just not the time?

February 26, 2006

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…” ( Hebrews 3:13)

I just wanted to give you a new update on my health.  I have now been on 15 mg of Prednisone for almost a week now.  It has been over a year since I was at this dose.  And I am so excited to praise our Lord and share that my urine has been completely clear of any protein.  I recently shared with some sisters that normal kidney filters are like regular sized straws.  But for some reason my immune system attacks the straws (filters) and turns them into “boba-sized” straws.  When my filters become inflamed like boba straws, they allow the boba (protein) to pass and then there is foam in my urine.  This passing of protein causes me to retain water, because my kidney filters aren’t doing their job.  The Prednisone helps to suppress my immune system and therefore makes my filters return to normal size. 

Through your bold prayers, through your faith and through your love, I know God is healing me.  Every time I go to the bathroom and check to see if there is any foam, it is completely clear and I sing, “Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me Bless His Holy name!”  It is He who sustains every breath of life and I am doing well, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  The journey is exciting and I am so thankful to receive the blessings of your prayers. 

As I spoke at my very first speaking engagement for the college women of Asian American Christian Fellowship of UC Riverside, I shared about my health struggles and when I was done they surrounded me in prayer.  They were encouraged by all your prayers for me.  They were in awe of how God has always protected me and healed me from all my other diseases and they boldly prayed for my healing that evening.  And God truly received the glory.  It was a beautiful, amazing thing!

I then ran into an old friend of Tim’s who shared that her brother had the exact same thing when he was 8 years old.  He is now 29.  It was so exciting to meet someone who knew exactly what I was going through.  She then shared that when his kidneys were about to fail, her family surrounded her brother in prayer and said, “Lord, we are going to go off the medicine cold turkey.  We trust You for his healing.”  This allowed their family to dedicate their lives to the Lord.  Her brother was healed and is now a doctor.  God is truly amazing!  I will see my kidney doctor in the month of March, and I will also have several tests done at that time.  I am looking forward to the results, and I am looking forward to sharing it with you.

February 12, 2006

There is such a sense of excitement when you finally get to a point in your walk that you begin to spend time with the Lord and you look forward to what He is going to reveal to you through His Word.  And you enjoy spending that time with Him.  Well that’s how it’s been for me finally, after all these years.  It has been to my amazement, that every time I struggle with something or look for knowledge… it is always there.  When I was frustrated with how the children were disobeying, I prayed and said, “Please Lord, give me wisdom.  Help me know how to raise them.  And as I opened up my quiet time the Bible passage was:

Psalm 32:8-11 (New International Version)

 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
       I will counsel you and watch over you.

 9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
       which have no understanding
       but must be controlled by bit and bridle
       or they will not come to you.

 10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
       but the LORD's unfailing love
       surrounds the man who trusts in him.

 11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
       sing, all you who are upright in heart!

And when I was uncertain if I should confront someone about something, I read this in my quiet time:

I know that I am far from perfect, Lord,
But if you tell me I should recognize
And tactfully address some wrong in others,
I will, with all the love that in me lies. —Hess

And as many of you know, one of the biggest struggles in having this disease for me is being on steroids and not having “my body.”  I’ve always had a misperception of my body.  And I feel like this is one of the biggest things that I have to overcome.  And it’s usually when I feel at my worst and I can’t find anything to wear and I dig up something that is old and not “in fashion,” that Amanda will tell me, “Mom…you look beautiful!”  And the other night, I said to Andrew, “You’d better go to sleep honey.  You look tired and your eyes are all watery.”  And he said, “I have to tell you a secret.  Mom, my eyes are watery because you are so pretty.”  And with these words that so touch my heart, I instantly realize that life is temporal and that my earthly desires really don’t matter in the long run.  But, then I wake up to a new day and it seems to start all over again.  I hit the reality that things don’t fit correctly and that I repeatedly wear the same things over and over again.  And then my dear husband, so patiently has to hear it over and over again.  And I feel like I just need to get over it.  I need the Lord to not take away my struggles, but to give me strength to overcome them.  Then as I woke up in the morning, I did my quiet time and the title was:  Inner Beauty and here was a part of what I read:

We are tabernacles too, made of skin, made to contain God's Spirit. Most of us are very plain, not like the made-up actors we see in the movies or the air-brushed models we view in the ads. But God is even now—at this moment—in the process of making us radiantly beautiful within.  We may be very plain and ordinary on the outside—but as we allow God's Spirit to work within us, the beauty of God's indwelling presence will shine from our faces.  So, is the world seeing Jesus in you? —David Roper

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wonderful passion and purity;
O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. —Osborn

Oh how He loves to teach us and comfort us…if we would only meet with Him.  So, if you haven’t already done so, go spend some time with our wonderful Lord.

February 10, 2006

I have been asked by a friend to speak at a college women’s overnight retreat.  If you know me as my friend does, she was expecting me to say, "No way!"  But she decided that she would ask me anyway.  And as she was asking, in my mind I was thinking, "What in the world?  I don’t do public speaking."  Yet my heart was totally calm.  She told me to pray about it, and as I did, all I could think was the only thing holding me back is fear of speaking, but if the Lord is calling me to serve, how can I refuse?

So as I began preparing, I went over some books, quotes, and Bible verses that have been instrumental in making me who I am today.  And as I reviewed a book called “Becoming a Women of Prayer,” a book I went through over 10 years ago, I found this quote:

“Jesus exhorted His disciples to believe that they have already received whatever they request in prayer.  Faith accepts it as good as done even though the actual answer is still future.  Jesus made this promise on the recognized premise that petitions must be in harmony with God’s will.  This enables faith to receive the answers God gives.  God is always ready to respond to obedient believer’s prayers and they can petition Him knowing that no situation or difficulty is impossible for Him.” (John D. Grassmic)

I am joyful in a way that I have never been before.  I am excited for His glory to be revealed.

February 7, 2006

At the suggestion of a dear friend of mine, I have started journaling some things that I have been going through.  This will not only help me to log what’s going on with my health, but it will also help me to see how the Lord is working in my life and see what He is teaching me.  It will also allow me to share of His glorious works.  I have now been on 17.5 mg of my medication for, well, by tomorrow 3 weeks.  In this time, I have been fighting off a dry cough.  When my body is not 100%, it throws my immune system off and I can spill protein.  So until I am over with my cold, it is hard to say at this moment what is exactly going on inside my body.  I have been able to tell through my urine how my kidneys are working, and if my body starts to retain too much water in my scalp, hands or ankles, I call my doctor and then we run some tests.  I noticed today that I was clear of any protein.  Praise the Lord!  But then my throat started to hurt again, so I might start spilling again.  But I don’t doubt that He is still protecting me, and so there’s a sense that I “feel” like I am already healed, despite what I see.  I can’t really explain it.  Sometimes I don’t know if my hope is so strong that what I believe is what I believe.  But then I am confirmed through His Word, through my brothers and sisters in Christ, and through prayer and faith.  The day after I sent out the email asking you to join me in prayer, I read this passage:

Psalm 118:15-24 (New International Version)

 15 Shouts of joy and victory
       resound in the tents of the righteous:
       "The LORD's right hand has done mighty things!

 16 The LORD's right hand is lifted high;
       the LORD's right hand has done mighty things!"

 17 I will not die but live,
       and will proclaim what the LORD has done.

 18 The LORD has chastened me severely,
       but he has not given me over to death.

 19 Open for me the gates of righteousness;
       I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.

 20 This is the gate of the LORD
       through which the righteous may enter.

 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
       you have become my salvation.

 22 The stone the builders rejected
       has become the capstone;

 23 the LORD has done this,
       and it is marvelous in our eyes.

 24 This is the day the LORD has made;
       let us rejoice and be glad in it.

When I read this, I was so at peace.  I am glad to read His confirmation to me over and over again.  Whatever the outcome, I know that this is all to His glory.  I am very excited for what He going to do.  I share with new parents that I meet at Andrew’s school.  I share with whomever I can.  I once didn’t know how to share the love of Christ, except by example, but I do believe He is giving me a platform to share of what only He can do and who He is.  And a brother of mine shared that he has never prayed so boldly for one’s healing.  What an encouragement and what glory this brings to our Father.  And as others have shared with me their prayer requests, I have not ceased to pray for them as well.  It is awesome drawing closer to Him, having others draw close to Him, and drawing close to one another.  This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!


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