They’re Wrong.

My doctors have told me that it’s impossible. They tell me to give up now. They say I can’t do it… They’re wrong.

I get asked what my plans for college are and I basically get laughed at in the face, but the truth is I kind of like it when they tell me, “No.” To my doctors the idea of me going off to school scares them to death and when I tell them I want to do pre-med they really start lecturing me. The world is telling me that it’s impossible for my body to go off to college and spend 4 years focusing on one of the toughest degrees out there. So, I guess it’s a good thing I’m not so concerned on what the world thinks of my next adventure. Since I first got sick, Psalm 139 has been a refuge for me, as well as Jeremiah 29:11. Before most of my doctor’s appointments I will meditate on these verses and there significance on my life. A couple years ago I applied 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 to my life. Through these specific verses God put together a hope and an encouragement for me. To me, this is what I heard Him telling me, “Brooke, I knew every bone you would break, every tumor that would grow, every mutation that would develop, I knew it all, before I even formed you. Baby girl, I saw it all and I see it all and you are perfect. You are perfectly made. Not only did I make you perfect, but I have a plan for you and I have a plan for all that I have created you to be. Brooke, my power is resting upon you, upon your weaknesses, so take your weaknesses and my power and use it. Boast in all that I have made you to be and I will make you strong.” You see, yeah, I’m shattered, but I’m not destroyed. If I were to look at it from the world’s perspective, I probably would be destroyed, but I don’t have to look at it that way. God gives me another way of looking at everything. Instead of destroyed, it’s more like…reconstructing.

I said earlier that the doctors have taken away and questioned all of the plans I had for my life. If I left you with that note, you’d probably think my life sounds hopeless, but with every dream that was shattered, God is using those broken pieces to create a new masterpiece, a collage of sorts. I like to imagine it as a stain glass window, one that God shines through in every broken piece and that every broken piece forms one grand masterpiece, created by the creator himself. Now, that sounds full of hope and that is exactly what is happening in my life. I’m currently shattered, but God is at work and His masterpiece is in progress. It’s not always pretty, but one day it will be breathtaking.

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What would you see?

If you sat down with me and looked into my eyes right now, what would you see?

Sitting in Children’s Hospital with a party hat on, watching on TV and on social media as the rest of the world partied and welcomed a new year, wasn’t exactly the most encouraging way to start off 2016. In fact, it was one of the most emotionally draining hospital stays, I’ve ever had. I sat on my bed and watched, as it felt like the rest of the world was spinning around me and all I could do was watch from afar. January 1st, is a day filled with hope, a day that is supposed to give promise of a fresh start and a new year. January 1st, 2016, I had the encouragement of finally sleeping in my own bed and the hope of getting appointments with my MAYO doctors, now that their holiday would be over.

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2 weeks later, I was sitting in an appointment with my GI, as I was beginning my stages of passing out, I could barely hear as he said, “She needs to quit school (not graduate high school) and stay home for at least a year (not go to college).” As I lay on the bed in his office and as all strength began to fade away from my body, I could barely keep my eyes open and as the sharp knife feeling in my stomach screamed louder and louder at me, all I was hearing was, “Your future is nothing, you have nothing to hold onto, give up.”

Going to 8 hours straight of appointments, once a week, is nothing but discouraging, if you heard half of the things I hear on a “MAYO day”, you would understand the kind of constant discouragement and hopelessness that surrounds me. If you could step into my shoes, for one day and experience what I experience everyday, maybe you’d understand. The amount of times that I’ve been told that pain, drugs, doctors, surgeries and hospitals is all I’ll ever know, would truly astonish you. I can’t even count on my 2 hands how many times I’ve been told to quit school, and don’t even get me started on quitting sports. Trying to explain to a medical professional why I want to put my body through the hell it goes through in order to play sports…trust me it’s worthless. I’ve been told that I won’t be able to hold a career, or handle a college course load. I’ve been told that I’ll never be able to live alone. Whether it’s a joke or not, the amount of times I’ve been told that my future husband, will have to make a lot of money and have good insurance, in order to take care of me, is a bit ridiculous. Right now I sit with about 10 genetic conditions, I’m currently being tested for another big genetic disorder and last Friday, I was diagnosed with another major genetic disorder. If I get told or diagnosed with something one more time that could, possibly/ most likely, affect my child one day, I swear I might vow never to have children. If you heard the doctor’s prognosis for my ailments, as I get older, you might just tell me to give up now.

The truth is, even though I’m constantly being told that I have no hope and no future, I don’t really need them telling me that. It’s not even the fact that what they’re telling me isn’t really encouraging, but the truth is, I already know. You don’t think that every time that I take 1 of my 25 pills a day I think to myself, when will I be able to function without this pill, will I ever not take 25 pills a day? Do you not think that the fact that I would give ANYTHING to wake up at 6:30 in the morning and go to school till 3pm, doesn’t scare the crap out of me? Is it not apparent that every time my brother goes into work, my mind races as I try and figure out how the heck I’m going to make a living? Is the reason that I detest when my parents do something for me, that I could’ve done, not clear? Do you not think that I’ve cried myself to sleep many nights, because I don’t think that anyone would dare want to be married to me? Can you not see my mind spinning all the time as I try and find any hope for “future me”? Maybe you’ve never seen me cry about the children, that I might never be able to have, but I can guarantee that it happens often.

I’m 18 years old, but I don’t remember what it feels like to not to be in pain, I don’t remember what it feels like to run, to go to school, to not worry about taking my medicines or scheduling doctor’s appointments. I’ll never know what it’s like to have the only worry is if my crush looks at me today. Most of my dreams that I had for myself, are gone. They’re completely gone. My life is nothing what I expected it to be; by all means I’m shattered. With or without the discouragement around me, my life is in pieces and I know that. I’m very aware that my perfect life, which I had once hoped for, is in pieces all around me. If you looked into my eyes right now, that’s what you would see, shattered pieces.

 

 

Breaking Free

Summer of 2014, I was on the way to Arkansas when I felt God telling me, “Brooke, stop looking at your life as one giant test and start looking at your life as one giant testimony.”

~ Summer of 2014 puts me in between sophomore and junior year. Now, sophomore year was a dark year for me; among many things, we had just moved to Minnesota, I had struggled through the volleyball season, I switched schools mid-year and I was told that there was a 90 percent chance that I would get colon cancer and breast cancer by the time I was 40 and there was a good chance that If I ever had children, that I would pass the same gene down to them. All of these things and the buildup of other stresses had led me into a deep depression. In November of my sophomore year, I transferred high schools and through that God taught me more than I could’ve ever imagined. From the depths of my soul, God began to rebuild me, day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and minute-by-minute. I truly believe that it’s when you hit your lowest point that God will begin to build mountains for you to climb. I say mountains, because mountains have valleys, but mountains also have peaks and life has valleys, but life also has its peaks. How I wish that mountains have elevators that could take you straight to the top, but they don’t. Nope, in fact most mountains, not only is it a climb to the top, but it’s usually a steep, dirty, tiring, long, unstable and just plain dangerous climb to the top, but that’s what makes it so beautiful. You have to admit that the peak of a mountain means far more when you can look back on the climb that got you there. You can’t get to the top, without starting from the bottom. I also believe the lower the valley the higher the peak. You might have to come from the lowest point to start your climb, but the lower the point the higher your peak.

Now, I had heard that said many times, but had always associated, “test to testimony” to different situations God puts you in, not with an outlook on your whole life.

~Have you ever sat back and TRULY figured out how you view the world? Our outlooks are constantly changing, as a kid when I would get in a sour mood, my mom would tell me,“Brooke, check your attitude, before responding!” It was only after she said this, that I was allowed to respond, but honestly how different would our conversations be if before responding to someone or a situation we “checked our attitude”? Our outlooks are constantly changing, so it’s important for us to “check our attitudes” often.

As I truly thought about my outlook on life, I realized that my outlook was so consumed with all the bad that I couldn’t even fathom that any good could come from it all. After I realized the need for a change of attitude, I felt God lay something bigger on my heart. “Brooke, there is purpose for what you are going through. Share your story.” Let’s fast-forward to today. I haven’t forgotten what God revealed to me that summer. The motivation that came from those words has pushed me through some dark times in the past few years. It was those very words that reignited a fire within me, during the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, during a spiritual depression and darkness for me. Those words helped me find the courage to write again. There was a poem that I wrote in April of 2014 that speaks more truth to me today, than it did even when I first wrote it. The poem explains the grip that fear has on my soul.

~“They’re all around me, they confine me and control me. They bully me. They’re powerful and binding. They lock me in cold shackles, and there is no way to escape them. They lock me in a box, alone, but I can hear voices. There isn’t enough room to breathe or even to think. They surround me and terrify me. They transform me a little more each day. No one can see the box, so it gets tossed out like garbage. The box sinks with all the other garbage, and there is no room for me to think. Yet the shackles continue to bind me.  A box that gives no room to breathe, no room to think, now controls me. An invisible, powerful, manipulative, loud, controlling, and fear driving box. That no one can see. How could something so powerful go so unnoticed? How could something so loud go unheard? Can anyone see the shackles that bind me? Does anyone understand the power that binds?”

The beginning of this month, I once again felt this overwhelming call to share my story, but fear and doubt crept within me and paralyzed me. I started coming up with excuses left and right, of why I couldn’t possibly share my story, then God fired back at me and said, “No, Brooke you will share your story.” About this time my Bible teacher asked me to start writing a blog, recording my journey and as soon as I walked out of his room, I knew with out a shadow of a doubt that this was God saying, “Brooke, share.” If I’m being honest, that was about 3 weeks ago and this is the first sign of me sharing my story. Fear is truly paralyzing, but I heard this quote this week and it moved me, “I’d rather stand with God and be judged by the world, than stand with the world and be judged by God.” I know that there are friends and family of mine who are reading this blog, who don’t agree with what I am saying, but the fear that paralyzes me today isn’t the fear of being judged by man, it’s the fear of being judged by God and that fear moves me to write this blog and share my story.

~Romans 8:15 “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”

So, I’m going to start writing more regularly and I hope you tag along for the journey.

~”I’m no longer a slave to fear, I’m a child of God. I find it so ironic that we live in a place where we are so blessed with so many freedoms, yet all too often we choose to remain a slave to our fear. There are so many things, great things that we want to do, that we are called to do, that we never actually walk in, because of the fear that holds us back. But, if I can offer up a reminder today, when Jesus Christ died on that cross he did not free you, so that you would remain a slave. And, although the freedom is here, that doesn’t mean that we don’t still walk around with the chains, with the shackles, that are hanging from our feet, but Jesus died to break every chain, Jesus died to break every yoke, Jesus died so that we would be free to give our allegiance to Him and Him alone.” Kyle Dendy

~ Yes, the words from this sermon, spoke to me profoundly, but what really set these words apart for me in my current situation is that Kyle Dendy is a guy that I went to elementary school with and he now is a preacher, author and founder of One Generation Under God. A guy that I was in fifth grade with, decided that he was going to take off the shackles of fear and proclaim the victory of Christ boldly and confidently. If Kyle can start his life of impact now, then what is stopping me? What is stopping you from boldly and confidently proclaiming the good news of the gospel? If you want to check out Kyle’s insanely impactful sermon here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAr8gD6jiwc. He starts preaching at 25:10.

 

 

Grabbing the Rope…What if? 

     Sometimes I get this image that I’ve fallen in a dark abyss and I’m hanging on to the side of a wall. I picture this deep, dark well and me fighting with everything I have to hold onto the side of the wall. I can’t see anything below me and above me is just as dark. I feel completely alone and I feel myself loosing my grip. In an act of complete desperation I scan the well for any sign of hope. That’s when I notice this rope next to me. I’ve never been able to see it before, but that’s easily because it is so dark in here. I try to battle climbing the wall a little bit, but it seems like everytime I make any resemblance of progress, I loose my grip and fall farther than before. But, it doesn’t matter, even in those moments of progress I still struggle to see any light. Still, no matter where I am on this wall if I look close enough there’s this rope. I’ve toyed with the thought of grabbing it, but there is just so many unknowns, so many fears cross my mind, and I decide this wall is much safer than the unknowns of the rope. I get to the point where I’ve given up on trying to climb the wall and the only strength I have left is to survive. All I can do is hang onto this wall and not move. The rope taunts me and each second I’m closer to grabbing on. As I’m loosing all strength and I’m about to give up, I decide to give in. I muster everything I have left and in a last ditch effort I reach out for the rope. My hands find the rope and all of a sudden my strength is renewed. I feel myself being drawn upwards and I think I’m starting to see light. I figure the worst has passed and since I’ve gained my strength back, I bet I can climb the wall even faster than this rope is pulling me. So, I let go of the rope and I start climbing the wall again, but I can feel myself falling again and all of a sudden the light is disappearing. It’s dark again and my strength is starting to fade away. I reach one hand out to the rope and my strength is replenished, but I quickly put my hand back on the wall to try and climb again. I go through this process endlessly and even though each time I find strength from the rope, I always come back to the wall. Sometimes, my strength will diminish so much that I stay on the rope for a while, but I will eventually always go back to the wall. My mind always wonders what would happen if I would just relinquish my control to the rope and let it pull me upwards, but I can never muster enough courage to just hold on and patiently ride my way onwards and upwards toward the light. But, what if? What if I could have the patience and courage? What would I see? 

Picture-(http://katieganshert.com/faith/blaming-god-aurora-shooting/)

Laying Down in the Right Pasture

       I haven’t had a lot of words to say for a while now, but God recently spoke these words into my heart and I have this feeling I need to share them with…well, anyone really. So, a lot has happened since I was last on here and I hope to update my testimony soon, but a friend asked me recently how I was doing and if I would discuss scripture with her and this is what I felt led to tell her and am now feeling led to tell y’all. I don’t know if anyone will ever read this, but if you are reading this, thanks for taking the time, it means a lot. 

“Thankfully my headaches are actually doing better! Praise the Lord!! Right now my biggest issues are actually my joints. My jaw and hips are deteriorating, due to arthritis, they think. I’m actually having surgery on my right hip on Friday. The MRI of my hips show torn labrum’s on both sides, as well as some other findings. So, they will go in on Friday to see if they can repair some of those things. After that surgery I will begin the process of recovery. And my hope and prayer is that I will be able to join school for my senior season of volleyball, at least for a part of the season. Once the season is over, the plan is to proceed with surgery on my left hip. In July I will have the first of many surgeries on my jaw. Their doing everything they can do to not have to do a complete jaw replacement, but the joint is continuing to deteriorate. They keep adding more things that their going to do in July, that surgery will be inpatient. It seems like everyday I cling to a different scripture or passage. Yesterday, it was Deuteronomy 31:6, today it’s Psalm 23. I’m taking refuge in Psalm 23:2 which says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters…” I’m actually on my way home from Mayo right now and I’m meditating on this verse. A year ago, I would of told you that this summer was going to be filled with volleyball and college visits. I most likely wouldn’t be home much of this summer, cause I would be at one volleyball camp after another. Now, it looks like I will be lucky to leave even for a couple days on a trip, just cause of all my surgeries and appointments. God’s making me lie down right now, literally and figuratively. I have no idea why, but I also believe that Jeremiah 29:11 is truth and that if God is making me lie down then it must be for a grand plan. But, Psalm 23:2 doesn’t just say, “He makes me lie down,” and then end the verse. It also says, “He makes me lie down in GREEN pastures.” It’s really easy for me to look at the next couple months of most likely a lot of time in a hospital bed or even in my bed and think, “Wow, I could be doing so much more.” It would be really easy and honestly most people would tend to agree with me if I said that these next couple of months are going to be crap. But, if I do that, then I’m changing the verse to say that, “He makes me lie down in crappy pastures.” And that’s not what the verse says, it says GREEN pastures. God has a glorious plan and it does not involve me lying down in crappy pastures, he wants me to lay down in green pastures. Green represents life and growth. So, I can choose to either lie down in a crappy pasture, that will most likely lead me to sadness and loneliness, or I can lie down in a green pasture, filled with life and growth and filled with glorious sanctification that will lead to a heavenly plan that will make me prosper. So, as God physically makes me lie down, I need to decide where I’m going to lay down.”

I wrote this as a text message almost 6 weeks ago, but I still can’t get it off my mind. I’ve since then had the surgery and it turned out to be more complicated than they had originally thought and with that being said my recovery has been long and draining. I’ve spent a lot of time in bed and in the hospital and A LOT of time in my head. I wish I could say that I chose the green pasture to lay down in, but if I’m being honest many days, ok most of my days, I have chosen to lay down in the crappy pasture and it actually has brought me plenty of sadness and loneliness, more than I care to admit. But, it wasn’t till today that I actually realized that I was laying in the crappy pasture, instead of the green pasture. I guess my mind has been so consumed with its own pity party that I haven’t even been able to see any opportunity for growth within this pasture, but I think it’s time for the party to be over and for me to switch pastures. I can’t see it just yet, but a brighter day is awaiting me and it starts by waking up in a green pasture. 

Blindsided by God

Have you ever had life/God blindside you? From the day I could talk to answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I have said the exact same thing. I want to be a teacher. If you look at any picture of me as a child there is most likely a baby doll in it. When I was younger I would set up “school” for my baby dolls. As I got older I even made “lesson plans,” “took attendance,” “made seating charts” and “sent home report cards.” I have always known that I wanted to be a teacher. There is never been a doubt in my mind. Then, this summer while at some doctor’s appointments I realized how can my body handle the stress of teaching? Especially first grade(my dream teaching job)!!! “Why would God put this burning desire for teaching children in my heart if he didn’t make my body able to handle it?” Yes, I know that if God really wants me to be a teacher it will happen, but right now there is no way. And, I’m hit with the question that I’m so foolishly always asking, “What is God thinking?!?” I mean I don’t have many things that I can say was a constant these past 6 years, but knowing I was going to be a teacher when I got older was one of them. Looking back I even feel like there were times that God was using my desire for teaching as a light at the end of the tunnel. When I broke my back in 5th grade I wasn’t allowed to go outside to recess or even go in a gym. So, when my class went to these places I helped out in a 1st grade classroom. Up into this point I had known I wanted to be a teacher but it was in this time of my life that I grew a desire for 1st grade. Honestly, I don’t have much of a happy ending right now to tell you about, but don’t worry I will…one day!! For now, I am just going to let my heart be molded, because if His plan isn’t for me to teach, then I am so excited to see what His plan for me actually is. Jeremiah 29:11 promises me that God has a plan for my life. Not only does he have a plan for my life, but he has a plan that gives me a hope and a future. Psalm 139 teaches me that God knows everything about me, because he created me. These two verses get me really excited. If God created that much of a burning desire in my heart for teaching, and maybe it was just so I could bless those 1st graders when I broke my back, then I can’t even fathom what the desire will feel like when He reveals to me what He really wants me to do. Like everything else in my life I want answers, now, and it’s scary to just be waiting on The Lord, but as I constantly have to remind myself, “Trust when you can no longer feel, believe when you can’t see, love because you are loved, hope because there is a reason for hope.”

Powerful…but unnoticed? Loud…but unheard?

“They’re all around me, they confine me and control me. They bully me. They’re powerful and binding. They lock me in cold shackles, and there is no way to escape them. They lock me in a box, alone, but I can hear voices. There isn’t enough room to breathe or even to think. They surround me and terrify me. They transform me a little more each day. No one can see the box, so it gets tossed out like garbage. The box sinks with all the other garbage, and there is no room for me to think. Yet the shackles continue to bind me.  A box that gives no room to breathe, no room to think, now controls me. An invisible, powerful, manipulative, loud, controlling, and fear-driving box. That no one can see. How could something so powerful go so unnoticed? How could something so loud go unheard? Can anyone see the shackles that bind me? Does anyone understand the power that binds?” Fear may bind this soul, but what binds yours? Break free from the shackles that control you and breathe freely. Don’t let shackles bind you to a sinking box. Let the sinking box be bound in shackles by you.