Restore. Repay. Replace.

I love reading scripture in different translations. As a child, I remember watching my mother do this during her daily Bible study with six different Bibles laid out in front of her on the kitchen table and her well-worn “Strong’s Concordance” (that weighed at least 50 lbs) to look up the meanings of words in the Greek and Hebrew. I remember thinking, “What is the difference? Isn’t a Bible a Bible? Why the need to study different translations?” Now I think I get it… especially when God brings a specific scripture to mind. When I read a verse or passage in several different translations, I understand it better. It creates a bigger picture. Like an artist with an endless palette of colors – different Biblical translations can highlight words, give personal meaning to phrases and reveal more detail.

As I lay in bed – homebound for the second week in a row, I was lamenting the time I feel has been wasted while living with Lyme Disease. I am so very weary of this illness. Sometimes I don’t even have the strength to take my pills. The symptoms are time-consuming. Research is time-consuming. Treatment is time-consuming. I am tired of constantly worrying about my time that disappears before my eyes. I have begged God to remove this disease from my body – completely – so that I won’t lose any more time. Life is too short and I have so much life to live. Before this disease settled into my bones, I had never experienced the mourning of time passing in this way. I felt overwhelmed with the days, hours and minutes this disease has eaten away… and with those words I was reminded of scripture. The words from Joel 2:25 came swiftly to my heart…

“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter…” (ESV)

Here is the same scripture but in different translations of the Bible:

“And I will replace for you the years that the locust has eaten—the hopping locust, the stripping locust, and the crawling locust…” (Amplified)

“The LORD says, “I will give you back what you lost to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts.” (NLT)

“And I have recompensed to you the years the locust did consume, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmer-worm.” (YLT)

“I will compensate you for the years that the locusts have eaten, the creepy locusts, the stripping locusts and the cutting locusts…” (The Voice)

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten–the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm–You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you” (NIV)

“I will pay you back for those years of trouble. Then you will have plenty to eat and be full. You will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has done miracles for you.” (NCV)

“I’ll make up for the years of the locust, the great locust devastation—Locusts savage, locusts deadly, fierce locusts, locusts of doom, You’ll eat your fill of good food. You’ll be full of praises to your God. The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder…You’ll know without question that I’m in the thick of life with Israel. That I’m your God, yes, your God, the one and only real God.” (The Message)

The words that describe the locusts remind me of this disease and what it has been in my life… “destroyer, stripping, swarming, consuming, deadly, savage, doom.” But what is thought provoking was that just about every translation of this scripture had a different word for “restore.” He will give back, compensate, recompense, pay me back… Wow. What a promise!
After restoration comes praise… “I will praise my God who has worked wonders”… “You will praise the Lord your God who has done miracles for you.” My favorite translation from this portion of the scripture was from The Message: “You’ll eat your fill of good food. You’ll be full of praises to your God. The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder…You’ll know without question that I’m in the thick of life with Israel. That I’m your God, yes, your God, the one and only real God.” Joel 2:26-27

Not only will my God restore, repay, replace, give back and make up for the years I have lost, but the sight of His miracles and wonders will knock me over. I will be full of His praises. He is the thick of life. He is my God and He has promised to restore the years the locusts have eaten.

I am applying this verse to my life, but I think it can be applied to anyone who has experienced loss. Loss of time waiting for answers, loss of years lived in sin, loss spent living in fear, loss of having a heart full of bitterness and anger, loss of life living with depression or anxiety… the list could go on and on. I would encourage those who know these kind of losses to have faith that God will restore that time to you. He will make things right… I believe this with all of my heart. Even though I know these words were meant for the Israelites thousands of years ago, I know my Father used this verse in my life today to remind me of His promise. He’s got this. I have nothing to fear.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

Side note: I wrote this post Thursday morning after finally scheduling an appointment with a Lyme Literate doctor. I couldn’t get in until the end of April but there are many who have to travel around the world or cross-country just to see a doctor who is knowledgable about Lyme so I am thankful this doctor could get me in at all and is only a two-hour drive. The only reason we hadn’t done this until now was due to cost. Insurance doesn’t cover LLD’s and since we have already spent crazy amounts of money on treatments, I was hesitant about going out-of-pocket so much for one appointment. However, I am also desperate for a treatment that will help me longterm which is why I made the call. That evening, God gave me another reminder of his promise. Someone from our church anonymously gave me a letter with words of amazing encouragement and love. The letter also had money in it… with hopes that it would help me with Lyme in some way. It was enough money to pay for half of my appointment cost. When I received this letter, I hadn’t told anyone about the appointment or even that we were thinking about scheduling it… but God knew. The week before that, Ryan also received money anonymously at work. Together, these amounts will almost cover the cost of the appointment. I couldn’t stop crying after I received the letter. It is not only confirmation that I’m supposed to go to this appointment, but it is confirmation that God keeps his promises and He shows us His love through our brothers and sisters in Christ. Restore. Repay. Replace.

**Also, I was raised in a Southern home where I was taught to write thank you notes for everything. It is hard for me not to be able to thank these people for being Jesus in skin to me. So, I must thank you even though I don’t know if you will ever read this. If you are reading, please know that we feel incredibly blessed by your words and your outpouring of love on our family. You showed me the love of God and my heart is filled to overflowing. May you truly be blessed for the love you have shown us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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I’m Still Here

Friday, my baby stayed home sick from school. I secretly loved having her home with me again. I made breakfast for us and sat down next to her. When she saw me with my handful of pills she solemnly studied my face and began to count them out on the table. Then under her breath she said, “Mommy, I am so sad for you.” I told her not to be sad because the pills and vitamins help me. She asked if I had to take them all at once and even though I knew she already knew the answer, I said yes and picked out the ones that I take a few times a day. She held up her hands and pointed to her fingers, adding to the pills she had already counted and exclaimed, “So you have to take 24 pills everyday??” I laughed and said “sometimes even more than that… but there are days when my stomach can’t handle it and I just need to take a break, drink my coffee and not think about pills or Lyme.” It was obvious that her new life in Kindergarten had helped her forget last year. I think seeing all those pills again reminded her I still had the disease that she suffered through with me for so many months. As she watched me take my pills I realized I was kind of sad, too. I wondered if these pills would ever really help anything.

First of all, I am not writing this for you to feel sorry for me… because I manage to do enough of that on my own. The purpose of this post is to give a peek “behind the scenes” of a Lymie’s world. Most people only see me on my good days or when I’m pushing through a bad day with a smile on my face. So I think that causes a bit of confusion. I’m sure that there are those who wonder “What’s the big deal?? She looks fine. Is she really sick?” I hope that by describing the bad days, it might help with the understanding and awareness of Lyme Disease. Recently, I had a kind friend tell me that if Ryan hadn’t explained how bad my disease can be, then he would have never known. This friend told me, “You look wonderful and you’re always smiling… you hide it really well.” I think this is very true. Lyme is not a disease that is easily seen. When it rears it’s ugliness and is more obvious on the outside, those are the days that no one sees – or if they do, I hide it exceptionally well.

The cold/flu season is awful, even for a healthy person with a strong immune system. For some reason, this year seems to be much worse than normal. In just a couple of weeks my girls have brought home at least five letters from school warning us that someone in their class has been diagnosed with Strep, Flu, Coxsackie virus and more. For Lyme sufferers and people with a compromised immune system, the cold and flu season is terrifying. When I catch a virus, it knocks me out and takes me forever to recover.

In November, I got a bad cough and sore throat in addition to other cold symptoms and it continued to get worse. I am on a strong antibiotic for Lyme, and even though I’m taking every natural supplement and over the counter medicine known to man, I can’t kick what I think is Mono – which is very common for Lyme sufferers to get. The Epstein Barre levels on my blood tests are consistently off the charts, so it’s something that comes with having such a compromised immune system. (The EB virus causes Mono). There is nothing you can do for Mono other than getting rest and drinking fluids. Most people recover within a few weeks, but for me, that might mean months.

Regardless of the reason, I am sick and everything on my calendar has gone by the wayside. I have had to check out of life for the time being and I can’t stand it. I’m sure I have friends who hear my voicemail or read my text that I’m not going to make it (yet again) and think that I’m just avoiding them or using my disease as an excuse to get out of doing things. I guarantee you that being constantly sick and not having a social life is NOT my idea of a good time. Believe me. I may be somewhat of an introvert but this is not fun. The world of chronic disease is a very lonely world to live in. I want you to know how difficult and gut wrenching it is for me to make the “cancellation” calls/emails/texts. I hate doing it just as much as you probably hate to receive them. So, please know this –

I want to be there with you. I want to be healthy. I want to live… and I don’t want my friends to give up on me.

Here is what I have had to miss/cancel/reschedule the past couple of weeks due to my illness:

the wedding of a dear friend

a fun night out with girlfriends

several volunteering responsibilities at the girls school and at our church bookstore

my writing group Friday morning (also b/c Cammie was sick)

double date last night

two different Christmas get-togethers with friends

…those are the main ones. I didn’t list the “little things” that I have been unable to do like going to the store and other daily activities like making meals and cleaning the house. Besides dropping Cammie off at her dance class on Tuesday while I stayed in the car and waited for her, I have not stepped outside my home since last Sunday. Yes, that is a week. During that time I doubled up on my supplements, tirelessly researched how to boost my immune system and slept. The worst part is, sleeping doesn’t bring the refreshment and wellness that sleep brings for healthy people. When I wake from 8+ hours of sleep, I can barely stand up and I feel like I’ve been drugged. Some days take several hours for me just to work up enough energy to get into the shower. After getting ready, I am worn out and need to rest for a while. Then, if I’ve taken my 3-4,000 mg of Vitamin C and other 20+ pills, I might be able to do a load of laundry, clean a room, finish a project or write. But lately, I can barely do that without collapsing from fatigue or pain. It has also been impossible to sleep well with this consistent cough and congestion, so good sleep is rare. When I finally pass out, I wake up and repeat.

I want my friends and family to know that a cold or the flu might mean something different for me. Please be patient and know that it is truly not personal if I can’t make it to your shindig. If I haven’t reached out to you in awhile, it’s not because I don’t care, it’s because I am focused on getting well. I don’t want to be forgotten. I don’t want my personal struggles to get in the way of our relationship and I am so sorry if it has caused distance between us.

I don’t want my illness to define me.

I am still here.

I am still me.

… I am more than Lyme disease.

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