The Gift of 2014

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As the first day of 2015 draws to a close, I’d like to share with you the miraculous blessing that 2014 has been for me. No year is perfect, and 2014 certainly had its share of trials as every year inevitably does, however, what stands out most to me about this past year is HEALTH! 2014 is the first full calendar year since 2004 that I have not suffered any symptoms of ulcerative colitis! PRAISE GOD!

The journey has not been easy, and I’m never fully assured that it’s over, but 16 months of remission after battling flares on and off for the better part of a decade is certainly reason for rejoicing! People always say that hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes that can be so frustrating. We wish we could see clearly as a situation unfolds, or better yet, before it is even upon us. Other times, only having clarity when looking back can be inspiring. We see that in our times of lacking faith and being consumed with worry and stress, that God really was working. It would be so much easier to see His hand in the thick of our struggles, but since that isn’t always possible, we need to document the times that our 20/20 hindsight clearly reveals His work. We need to document them so that we don’t forget the next time we’re in a dark place and we’re wondering if He’s there. We need to document them so that other people who are currently in that dark place can be encouraged that He’s with them too.

Sunrise From English Boom - Camano Island, WA by Chris Parmeter https://flic.kr/p/oj8QVL

Sunrise From English Boom – Camano Island, WA by Chris Parmeter
https://flic.kr/p/oj8QVL

Two and half years ago I was in a hospital bed in the darkest pit I’ve ever been in. Treatment for my illness wasn’t working the way it had for previous flares, and I was facing some extremely scary medical decisions. I felt hopeless. I felt defeated. I felt afraid, and angry, and downright weary. The despair was a suffocating darkness. I shook with sobs, and knew they wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon. I willed myself out of bed, wheeled my IV pole across the room and behind the safety of the closed bathroom door. I didn’t want the nurse to see me so distraught – she’d surely call a social worker and then I’d have to talk to someone when all I really wanted to do was crawl inside myself. Completely depleted I sat on the shower seat, clinging to my IV pole for support, and weeping. “God, where are you? Why are you allowing this to happen? Are you really counting my tears? Do you even care? I feel forsaken. Please speak to me. Please give me peace. I need you!”

Silence.

The silence was like a heavy weight, crushing my spirit. In that moment, I hit bottom. No more tricks up my sleeve. No energy to pursue a new avenue. No will to continue to fight. Complete despair.

About a week after I was discharged, my sister gave me a copy of Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall which outlines the Specific Carbohydrate Diet that I’ve been following for the last 2.5 years. When she gave me the book, she told me how she had heard about it. She had committed to help her best friend who had just started a new job and needed a “client” to train with. While helping her friend, she met her friend’s new manager. Her friend (who I’ve known since I was three!) was concerned and asked how I was doing, which sparked her manager to ask what was wrong. My sister explained that I was hospitalized for ulcerative colitis. The manager said she had previously suffered from Crohns, but had cured it using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. My sister, who is a doctor, was understandably skeptical. Yet, before she left that day, she asked again what the name of the book was, went home and looked it up on Amazon, and was blown away by the hundreds of reviews from people claiming that the diet had given them their lives back. She ordered it, and didn’t say a word about it to me until she actually placed the book in my hands. She told me she wasn’t offended if I decided not to follow what the book suggested and that she had been skeptical, but was impressed by what people had to say about it. She suggested I read some of the Amazon reviews and see what I thought. As you know, the rest is history!

It wasn’t until a few weeks later that the light bulb turned on and that 20/20 hindsight kicked in. You see, my sister didn’t come to visit me that horrible rock bottom day in the hospital. She didn’t come because she had a previous commitment to her friend; an appointment that had been scheduled prior to my even being admitted to the hospital. An appointment that overlapped the EXACT time I was locked in that bathroom asking God if He was really counting my tears. He may have been silent, but He wasn’t absent. Little did I know that in that very hour He was bringing the pieces together to lead me on a new path. He didn’t need to show me that He was there and working, but I’m so glad that He allowed me that glimpse. And I do believe it is just a glimpse of how He is working and present in our lives all the time.

As you know, my health and faith journeys since starting the diet haven’t been pothole free. But as I look back on 2014, I am so amazed, humbled, and thankful that I serve a merciful God. It has been a year of freedom and beautiful normalcy! What a gift! It’s not a diet, it’s not my will power, it’s Him! He deserves all the glory!

A new year brings new hopes, dreams, and goals, and if we’re honest, new worries and fears as well. I pray that in this coming year our faith will be strengthened and our hope and joy multiplied! “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Happy 2015!

~Heather

I’d love to hear what 2014 has meant to you! Leave a comment and share your story!

 

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About inspiredencouraged

Thank you for visiting Inspired Encouraged! My name is Heather. I'm a wife and stay-at-home mama to two beautiful blessings. I started this blog because I felt God's calling on my life to encourage others with the words He gives me to write. Creativity feeds my soul. When I'm not writing, I love to spend time designing gardens and home decor, then watching the designs come to life as my hubby and I complete our DIY projects. God has used many things in my life to shape and refine me, one of which is chronic illness. Through the years that I have wrestled and fought and cried through my illness, I have also grown in faith as I've seen God bring beauty out of the ashes. Looking back I can now say that He has truly worked all things for my good, even the darkest and most painful times. God is faithful! I invite you to subscribe and follow me on this journey. My prayer is that together we will grow in faith, we'll learn to not sweat the small stuff, we'll laugh and cry, and that God will use these words to leave us both inspired and encouraged!

4 responses »

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I can totally relate to how you feel. I had a kidney transplant 4.5 years ago and was devastated as well. I tried my hardest to look for miracles but it was pretty hard for me to see them. I saw a couple, but not too many. Looking back I can totally see how God was helping me out and preparing people to help me right when I needed them. Now I’m a missionary for my church and I can help other people because of my experience. It really is a great blessing that God is so involved in our lives. I was able to dedicate all of 2014 to serving God and helping other people grow closer to Him. It has been the best year of my life! It has been amazing to see how God can take a tragedy and turn it into a triumph. How do you feel like you’ve grown since being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis?

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    • Thank you so much for your comment, Hali! It is truly encouraging to hear how God has worked through the trials in your life! I’m glad you can see His hand at work as you look back on all you have been through, and that He is using your experiences to help others. I feel like I’ve grown a lot since my diagnosis. My faith is stronger, I have greater compassion, more purpose, and more resolve. I have always struggled with anxiety and fear, and while those struggles still exist for me, I now have what I can only describe as tenacity in facing adversity. I’m much stronger now. Pain can definitely be a refining fire. I praise God that He’s using the pain we have both endured for a greater good! Blessings to you!

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  2. Heather, your story made me cry. With much hard work and perseverance, you have grown in good health and strengthened your faith throughout this journey. Please share your story with the world.

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