Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Faith Healers and Hospitals

I read a post on Facebook recently that stated that you never find Faith Healers in a hospital. Something about this felt 'off' to me, and I've been pondering the statement ever since. Last night, while sleeping in the camper while my husband drove us through western Wyoming, I realized why I couldn't agree with the thought: I believe Faith Healers work in hospitals every day. God has long been a God of miracles, and I believe He still works those miracles on a daily basis.

Even in the New Testament, people had to go to Jesus or the Disciples to be healed. The Bible never says that Jesus gave a blanket "Everyone in this city will be healed." The sick and the lame and the blind had to come to Him or be found by Him. Mark 2:4 says, "Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on" (NIV). Luke 18:35-43 tells of a blind man who called out to Jesus by the road to Jericho and was healed. Over and over, we read about people seeking His help and receiving healing and salvation. 

I do believe that God still works these healing miracles through faith alone. I, myself, am a recipient of such grace. Several years ago, while I was still in med school, I went on a medical mission trip to Central Mexico with missionaries who daily live their belief in the Lord's provision. Me? I am a skeptic. I have always been cynical and sarcastic, and med school made me even more so. I believe in the power of prayer, but I also believed (at that time) that God didn't bother with Bible-times miracles any more. I was wrong. One day, as we were exiting our 15-passenger van at the day's clinic site, I turned and walked straight into a barbed wire fence. My face and left eye were sliced and cut up. Blood was dripping down my face. I immediately started thinking, "Oh, no. I am in rural Mexico, and I just cut my face on a rusted wire. This is going to get infected, and I am going to get tetanus" (Yes, that is how my brain works. I've told you before that I am not normal). The missionaries however, IMMEDIATELY, before I had a chance to get my sleeve to my face to put pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding, laid their hands on my face and head and started praying for healing. My skeptic brain was shouting to myself that this-is-crazy-let-go-of-me-and-let-me-start-disinfecting-so-i-don't-lose-my-eye. But as they prayed, I felt my wounds healing. I felt the skin coming back together. I felt the bleeding drying up. I felt my vision clear. I felt the pain go away. After they had finished praying, all that was left on my face was a few drops of dried blood. No scratch. No cut. No scar. No eye injury. No other evidence that I had just wrestled with rusted barbed wire. God had healed me through the faith of the missionaries alone. Since then, I have heard countless stories and seen many miraculous healings performed by God in the Third World (My personal heart is for South America. I had always wanted to be a missionary to Africa or India, but God has called me time and again to serve in South America, and has changed my heart to where I want to live there. I dream of living and working in the Andes with the local people groups. Maybe someday He'll let me live this dream). Anyhow...

I have also seen similar miracles in the United States. For 15 years, I lived in a hospital pediatric ward and ER. I took care of babies and teenagers and young adults. I saw ATV accidents and infections and fireworks explosions. I saw God work every single day of my working life. I saw Him use chemotherapy to save the life of preschoolers with leukemia. I saw babies born with HIV grow up and thrive and have normal lives. I saw kids who had fallen off roofs get up to run and play another day. God works through the doctors and nurses and medicines that He has given us in our world. It is a privilege to be a part of this world. Intubating a 4 week old baby with RSV can save its life. Vaccines prevent the spread of some of the world's most debilitating diseases. When was the last time you saw a child with polio? Or rabies? Or tetanus? When we were children, childhood leukemia was a death sentence. Today, over 95% of children with ALL survive and do well. All because of God. God gave us medicines for a reason. He has provided us with Tylenol and Motrin and Benadryl for our use and benefit. He wants us to use them. He wants us to have the faith to be healed. He wants us to follow Him. He wants to use the doctors and nurses and your faith to make you well. He wants you to "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" - Matthew 11:28 (NIV).


Friday, May 16, 2014

Operation Snowbird

If you have ever seen my instagram feed, then you know that I love to travel with my family. Exploring God's creation is one of my joys in life. My husband is a much more fun person when he is on vacation. My children learn more when seeing and experiencing cultures and sights that are unfamiliar to our Southern way of life. My dog thinks she is the co-pilot for all of our road-based adventures. We all thrive on seeing the world together.

Over the last few years, my MS has made travel more difficult. We have had to get more creative with our journeys and take more time resting at our destinations - which completely goes against the see-everything-do-everything-we-can-always-sleep-later mentality we had adopted pre-diagnosis. We hang out in our hotel room. We order room service. We swim in the hotel pool. We play board games. We don't get to the Magic Kingdom an hour before it officially opens just in case it opens early and then close the park down at 2AM anymore. We sleep. We get there when we get there. We enjoy our favorite rides and skip those with lines or those that we don't care about. We take care of our bodies more.

How does this translate into exploring the remote corners of the globe? We cruise a lot. Cruising is affordable. Cruising is restful. Cruising has as much or as little activity as we want. Even on a port day in Argentina, we know our time is limited. We can still hustle about and see and do everything we can, but there is a finite stop time. We have to be back on the ship at a pre-determined time, or we will be left behind. Once back onboard, we can crash. The Girls may go to Kids' Club and hang out with their new-found friends (who are often also homeschoolers, given the itineraries and times of year that we cruise) and compare what educational field trip excursion each of their parent's had forced on them that day. Bill may go wandering the ship to find a new corner to hide in and read a book on his ipad. I may take a nap. We all meet again for dinner and maybe a show (the local performers that add to the cultural immersion tend to be our favorites - ex. The Pampas Devils, a group of tango dancers and gaucho performers from Argentina, or step dancers in Ireland, or belly dancers in Egypt). We can go to bed early. And we can do it all again tomorrow in another city or town, without having to worry about how late will we be up driving to get to get there and will we find a hotel once we do.

The other major travel adjustment we have made is that 3 years ago, my husband bought a 5th-wheel travel trailer. Some men buy Porsche's and 22 year old blondes for their mid-life crises. My husband bought a Big-A$$ Truck (aka The Monstrosity) and an RV (aka Monstro). We have taken the RV cross-country twice and to see cousins and aunts and uncles a multitude of times. This summer, we are planning a third cross-country trek, this time to experiment with my MS. Last summer I was almost non-functional. The heat and humidity here in the South kept me couch-bound or pool-bound most of the summer. This summer we are headed north - north to the mountains, north to a cooler climate, a higher altitude, and a lower humidity. The goal? To see if I can function better. This was supposed to be a controlled experiment - same medicines, same exercises, same Me, with only our location being the new variable - but given the medical events of the last few months, our controls have gone out the window. Regardless of those new parameters, we are going. We'll be living in the RV, stopping at National Parks and State Parks for days-weeks at a time. We'll see some family and hopefully some friends. We'll hike. We'll bike. We'll learn about our nation's geography and history. We'll be "Learning through Living" (my high school's motto). And rest assured, I'll be sharing pictures along the way - definitely on Instagram (username: cdpeck) and hopefully here on the blog as well.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Gluten-Free Update

I have now been living this gluten-free existence for 2 months. I still hate it. I still hurt. I still have headaches. I still have numbness and paresthesias (fancy word for nerve pains and tingling). I still have a pathetic immune system. BUT, on the bright side, I DO have a smaller body. I have lost 23 pounds. My pseudotumor is slowly improving. My energy level has improved a wee little bit, and I have found a few acceptable fake-flour substitutes.

So far, my family's favorite fake breads have included:
1. King Arthur Flour GF Muffin Mix - to make chocolate chip muffins
2. Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mixes - the best pancake mix we have found so far
3. Cup4Cup - a bagged all-purpose flour that literally lets you use your old recipes and substitute their fake flour mix for your old all-purpose flours. Thus far, this has been the most consistently successful flour mix. We have used it to make a fabulous chicken and sausage gumbo (a proper roux requires flour and oil), Disney Fort Wilderness and Wilderness Lodge cornbread, and other random family recipes. Nothing has failed yet with this mixture.
4. Duncan Hines GF Devil's Food Cake Mix - my 40th birthday was a few weeks ago, and a friend kindly made me an adapted version of her very yummy chocolate cake using this mix. The cake was shorter than usual, but it tasted just as good as it always has.

So there you have it - an official 2 month update. Nothing else has caught fire. I still dream about yeast rolls. My children still fuss about not having our old favorite frozen foods in the freezer, and I spend hours more in the kitchen than I ever have. But I am walking. I am not blind. And I think this new life just might work out.

Now to keep working on finding the perfect hamburger bun...