S.O.S.

If you saw someone trying to drown themselves, wouldn’t you try to save them?

You drag them to shore and begin CPR. No pulse.

Minutes pass that seem like hours. You pound, scream, give one more breath…

Their eyes open. They’re alive! They look around. But then…

They spit on you and jump back in the water.

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

I meet a lot of people in my daily life as a result of living with a serious disease. It’s not easy to maintain my health, but I try to make the best of it and many times I’ve actually made new friends. I have come to love one lady who I see often. She’s fun, we joke around, and she is truly interested in helping me.

She’s also a Buddhist. And what blows my mind is that she was raised in a Christian home.

We’ve had two in-depth conversations regarding religion, and I fear I may have pushed too far. She is completely closed off to hearing anything about God and His goodness. She wants nothing to do with Him and it breaks my heart in ways I can’t explain.

It’s like I have the secret to life and I want so desperately to share it with EVERYONE… But some don’t want it. I don’t understand.

“You have the most beautiful soul” she says. Right, so, don’t you want what I have? I don’t understand.

“It’s not OK, the whole sending people to Hell thing”, she says… But, it isn’t God’s will that anyone should perish. I don’t understand.

“Don’t worry about my soul” she said. But I do worry. It consumes my thoughts. I worry because I love her and there’s a living God who could make her more fulfilled than Buddha ever could.

She says she’s happy but I see the pain in her eyes. Let me help you, I want to scream! Yet she turns and runs back to that water.

I wish I could help everyone, but I can’t. I’m just one girl. My only hope is that this dark world sees an unwavering light in me that they want for themselves.

 

Choose life

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.Deuteronomy 30:19

 
Do you ever wish life could go a little easier? I know I do. Between figuring out this mysterious trach infection and my recurring stomach issues, it can get frustrating at times. Yet, in spite of my circumstances, I am genuinely happy. Why? I try to focus on all the good things. I’ve been blessed beyond measure. I am alive – a rare privilege someone in my condition can have. I have an amazing family and have been given the extraordinary purpose in this life of reflecting the love of God to everyone in this dark world, that all might see His strength through my weakness.

Nobody is perfect. We all have bad days, I know I do. What matters, though, is that we get back up every time we fall down. With free will comes the great responsibility of dealing with the consequences of our choices: good choices produce blessings while bad choices produce pain. It sounds so simple in theory but is altogether different in this confusing world of sin.

I was in a dark place recently; primarily due to medication changes, but Satan was attacking my mind relentlessly. The battlefield of the mind is no joke. I finally realized where the problem lied: within me. I hadn’t been spending time in God’s Word – the essential lifesource to all who have accepted Christ as their personal Savior. So I changed my ways and am constantly living in the Word because my soul craves it like nothing else and it fulfills me in ways I can’t explain. It doesn’t matter how well you may know the Bible. Keep reading, keep searching, keep focusing on the truths that the enemy so desperately tries to distort.

God gives us life, but it’s up to us to decide what kind of life it will be. Will you choose blessing or cursing? Life or death? Jesus came to set the captives free and so we are without excuse. At the end of the day, whatever your circumstances may be, one thing remains: Christ conquered the gave that we may live victoriously. The fight has already been won. Don’t trudge through your days in defeat. Don’t settle for merely surviving. You are a child of the Most High King, so act like it. Choose life.

Xoxo~

Choose

Dear God,
I’m so sorry.

I’ve let You down. (Again…)

How is it possible to forget who I am in You after everything we’ve been through?

Why is it that this hill in particular is shaking my faith more than the last valley?

If it takes everything in me, I won’t let this break me.

The enemy may attack my body and mind, but he cannot have my heart.

 

Forever Yours,

Amber

 


Hello!

I’m Amber Stewart. 28 years old, approximately 26 years longer than any doctor ever believed I’d live (and counting!).

I have gone through things that you can’t imagine – things I wouldn’t wish upon anyone – and God has carried me through miraculously every single time.

I’m strong.

I have my own nonprofit organization. I love helping others.

I have like, four college degrees. And I want another.

I have the most amazing family anyone could ever have. I’m serious.

I have an amazing life.

And yet, the doctor had to take me off some of my regular medication for two weeks because I’ve been taking some crazy sensitive antibiotic (which I’m not entirely sure even worked), and WHAM! There you are, Devil

Add to that the fact that there is so much sickness going around I haven’t left my home in weeks, and Houston, we have a problem.

It’s like when I’m not fighting for my life, my mind slows down enough for Satan to move right on in, flipping my world upside down.

Suddenly I’m not at all content my life. I’m struggling even more than usual with caregivers. I have separation anxiety when my parents leave for a typical work day. I don’t like anything or mostly anyone. I am officially ready for Jesus to return and take us all Home together, and I’m waiting very impatiently.

It doesn’t take much to knock me off my feet and make me forget my purpose in this life.

How did I let that happen?
I don’t even know how I got here. Yet here I am, making the decision to get back up allow God to use me; for that is when my spirit truly soars.

Life is hard. God is good. Choose joy.

Work

I need a job.

But not just any job.

A good job.

I did just graduate with a double Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Cybersecurity Management & Policy. I got skills.

Plus, I need to make good money… Because, let’s be real, I like to spend it like nobody’s business (sorry, Daddy!).

I want a position as a crime analyst. I want to analyze the elements of a committed crime to help law enforcement conclude what type of individual did it and catch the bad guy!

Finding a job isn’t easy, though. If I can’t work from home – which is nearly impossible – I need a part-time position, because I don’t think my body can handle a full-time Monday-Friday job. I’ve gotten more fragile in my old age… I mean we are closing in on 28! Holy moly! Where does the time go?

People assume without a job I’m just a vegetable in my recliner Facebooking my days away. I do a lot of other things, though. The mere act of getting ready to begin my day is a time consuming, sometimes tiring process. I have to help my caregivers in every step of my day: move this, that hurts, time for medication, please help me with this… 

It’s exhausting!

At times I need secretions suctioned out of my lungs because I’m unable to produce an effective cough. Thus, I also utilize a machine that essentially forces me to cough up secretions. It’s a huge blessing, but here’s the thing: if I don’t work with it, it’s ultimately useless. To bring everything up, I have to make an effort to cough along with that machine. I learned long ago that it won’t automatically do everything for me. I have to work at it.

I could give other examples, but I think you get the picture.

The act of working is not an isolated one set aside only for providing unique services for a compensating entity. God created work as an act of worship; to pour everything we have into achieving goals and continuously become who God created us to be.

God gave us the gift of life, but it’s up to us to make something of it.

A business person, a nurse, a stay-at-home parent, a survivor of terminal illness… I know you work at doing things nobody knows about or might give you credit for… But I see you. You’re doing a good job. Keep up the hard work.

This I Believe

I haven’t written in quite a while. A lot has happened over the past few months. For starters, I graduated college with two Bachelor degrees, and I am cancer free!!! Still having tummy troubles but Lord willing they’ll figure out what it is eventually. I had surgery to hopefully shrink my liver tumor, so we’ll have to go back in a few weeks to see if it’s actually getting smaller than go from there.

This has been the hardest year of my life thus far, and I’ve been through a lot.

I have suffered with anxiety and depression more this past year than ever before.

In my deepest moments of despair, I had to remind myself or be reminded by others what I believe and why it’s going to be OK.

So on this eve of the New Year 2019, I am listing exactly what it is that I believe. Everyone needs to know what they believe, or the first storm in life will knock them down for good.

Maybe this little declaration isn’t necessarily for your benefit. Perhaps it is something I must do so I can look back on these words when I’m in the next valley to remember the meaning of life and the promises of God.

I believe:

That the blood of Jesus washed my sins away.
That that one day at Calvary changed everything.
That by His wounds I am healed.
In God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and that our God is three in one.
That Resurrection day is fast approaching, and we will rise again.
That life is hard but God is so good.
That all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
That God’s ways and thoughts are higher than mine.
That with Christ truly anything is possible.
That God will supply all my needs.
That hard work and determination is the only way to achieve your dreams.
That if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive them.
That family is the biggest blessing in this life.
That life is what you make it.

So, yeah. That’s what I believe.

What do you believe?

Fighter

Let’s be real here. I feel like this concept is so lost in this crazy world. To be real, honest, raw, vulnerable. Why would anyone put themselves in that position? The American way is to appear strong, not weak. You should always have the upper hand. So, we paste on our smiles, conceal any imperfections, and head out to join our fellow American zombies another day.

How did it come to this?

I don’t believe in complaining. If something is wrong, fix it. If it’s not fixable, learn to be content. Wallowing in self pity doesn’t help the situation. Still, everyone – healthy or not – has moments of weakness; be it fear, sadness, anger, and even doubt. And I’m here to tell you something completely contradictory to the American way: sometimes it’s OK to not be OK. I know what you’re thinking: this girl has finally snapped. On the contrary, I’m learning as I go.

If you are familiar with the scriptures, you might recall there was a time when Jesus Christ, the son of God Himself, was not OK. Luke 22 tells us, “And He (Jesus) came out, and went, as He was wont, to the mount of Olives; and His disciples also followed Him. And when He was at the place, He said to them, Pray that you enter not into temptation. And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if you be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done. And there appeared an angel to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” I believe that Christ, God in flesh, in that moment was afraid for the pain that awaited Him, and yet that didn’t make Him any less perfect. It is not a sin to fear the unknown or even question that God remove our trials if possible. However. notice something imperative in such moments; Jesus went into the garden and had a moment of pure fear… But He did not linger there. The anguish of what lied ahead was so real that blood poured from His pores as sweat does us. And He probably cried. Maybe He even screamed at the sky to His Father who’s presence He could no longer feel… Then an angel gave Him strength; and so He rose, wiped His face, and went back to the cruel world to finish what He came to do.

Life isn’t easy nor is it fair. Adam and Eve screwed everything up in their selfishness and thus we live in a fallen world. Life wasn’t easy for Jesus and we shouldn’t expect it to go smoothly for us – especially if we’ve committed our lives to serving Him. Some days are harder than others; I would know. When life is overwhelming it’s OK to take a short time out. Go somewhere alone, cry, scream, talk to God, even ask why this is happening. Then clean yourself up and get back to work.

Doctors are pretty sure my liver tumor is a hepatic adenoma, and as such it poses a risk of rupturing or turning cancerous in the future. It has to come out but we’re not sure my body can handle such major surgery. We’re exploring options to hopefully shrink the mass. I hope it works but it might not. We have to take it one step at a time and it might be a longer journey than I would like, but we’ll climb this mountain like the rest. I don’t understand, and I have moments of fear for the unknown. And you know what? I don’t think God’s mad as me for that. There comes a time in everyone’s life when they’ve done everything they can do and have to trust God to carry them the rest of the way. So here I am, waiting on Him to move. And He’ll show up like He always does. At the end of the day, if it’s God’s will that I should go through this valley, then so be it. I’ll face it head on. Cry, scream, admit I’m afraid, then get back up and fight.

 

Beauty for Ashes

I came across someone the other day complaining about having vehicle problems and needing prayers because the stress of it is just so bad.

I had to hold my composure to keep from laughing…

Seriously?

The older I get, the more I realize that more people than not are truly in a bubble of their own, lacking perspective and empathy for those who struggle with more serious difficulties than their own.

Now, before you write me off as a cynic, know that I do understand the burden of being without transportation. See, most people in my position – being very medically fragile – don’t have the luxury of owning a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Most people rely on EMS services to transport them to and from medical appointments and otherwise don’t go out. I have been blessed with an amazing father who works incredibly hard to make life easier for me as much as possible. But there are far more serious things in this world than you lacking transportation. Sorry cupcake.

Someone lost their mother this morning. Someone just lost their sibling to drug overdose. I guarantee that several people have died today alone in car accidents across the nation. Someone is hooked up to a chemotherapy infusion, reading a book and praying for healing. A child somewhere is dying from Spinal Muscular Atrophy because their body just isn’t strong enough to keep fighting. Tragedies happen around us every day; yet who among us has actually stopped to see them and offer a shoulder to cry on?

I have SMA type 1. This is the worst kind of SMA one can have. I have had it my whole life. My prognosis was two years or less. I have beat every odd, expiration date, and stereotype thrown my way. Doctors don’t understand. I’m now one of the oldest patients with this disease and the most functioning one they’ve seen. I’ve come through so many battles; through nights where there was no logical reason I should have. I have had my deceased sister read me stories as a child. I’ve seen angels. I’ve visited Heaven. I talk to God, but He talks to me more.

You’d think, “what else can come my way?” Right? I’ve overcome every trial. I’m unstoppable!

How naive I was…

I’ve been very sick over the past year; honestly two years, but the last year has been much worse than the first. I’ve had respiratory MRSA, serious feeding tube complications, was hospitalized for over a month on and off, and had cellulitis multiple times. I also broke my arm. You’d think that’s enough, right? It just keeps coming.

Even after we finally got the feeding tube complications seemingly fixed (buried bumper syndrome is not my friend), I’ve still been having stomach issues: random pain and nausea. I’ve been telling doctors that something isn’t right but they weren’t listening. I finally sat down with a GI specialist last month after I was blown off yet again. “I mean no disrespect, but something is wrong – I know in my heart – and nobody is listening to me. The last time this happened, I got septic and almost died (early this year). If you won’t help me, I will go somewhere else where they will. What will it be?” Next thing I know, I’ve got an IV in, they’re drawing labs for a full blood panel, then doing a CT with IV and stomach contrast. Then we waited. And waited…

They scheduled an appointment with another specialist, but we couldn’t get in for two weeks, which ended up being this past Friday. It was at a different location which was odd, but I didn’t think anything of it. Mom and Dad both came with me to this appointment which doesn’t usually happen, but I was happy nonetheless. I assumed maybe we would talk about my diet since I switched to eating specific foods easily digestible for those with stomach disorders. I figured, what other tests could they want? I had genuinely tried to prepare myself. In my mind, the worst thing they could tell me is that my body doesn’t process food and I can only have formula. This would be devastating, as eating is very enjoyable for me. But, if that was what the worst scenario was, I could handle it.

I wasn’t ready for this…

“You have a mass on your liver”…

“It has to be removed”…

“We don’t think it’s cancerous, but it could be”…

“It could rupture”…

“With your feeding tube it’s harder. We’ll cut here and here”…..

“Surgery is major with your condition and the ventilator”……

“4-6 hour long surgery”…….

“About a week, at least, in the hospital”……..

“Long recovery time”……

“We don’t want to wait too long”…..

“September”……

 

 

What?

 

This isn’t real. It can’t be.
I have SMA. Not a tumor.

I have enough to deal with. I can’t have anything else.

 

I keep thinking I’ll wake up soon and it’ll just be a crazy dream.

 

And yet, this is real.
We’re looking into a different way to remove the mass. Please pray.

 

I don’t understand.

It’s not fair.

I am scared.

 

But I still love the Lord.

I will conquer this mountain just as I have the rest.

 

 

Provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor. – Isaiah 61:3