Monday, July 19, 2010

Farmington, New Mexico

I apologize upfront as this blog will be longer than normal.  I am writing this to share my experience but I am also writing this for me. 

 How do you put into words an experience that was so amazing and had elements of things you planned and many that you did not.  I hope to be able to put my heart into words as I try to capture my experience from speaking and book signings in Farmington, New Mexico.

It started off as a simple request, my husband asked Fareed, the owner of the radio station KPCL, Passion Radio, in Farmington, New Mexico (who was hosting a fund raising event for Passion Play Ministries International,  that my husband helps with each summer, and they are also an affiliate radio station, so they play my husbands morning show, if while we are in town for the fund raiser maybe there was a church or small ladies group that I could speak to. His response was almost overwhelming...he not only booked me at one church but four.  Three churches were for speaking and book signing and the other church was for book signing (with three services). 

We were to arrive on Tuesday and return home the following Monday.  I was set to speak to Crossroads Community Church on Wednesday night, First Baptist on Saturday (for a Ladies Brunch), later that evening a book signing at Pinon Hills, and on Sunday two more book signings at Pinon Hills and later Sunday night I was at Emmanuel Baptist to speak on both of my topics (Hope and Forgiveness).  I would have Thursday and Friday to hang out with my son, my husband would be at the fund raiser those two days.  Garic and I had plans to go to the movies, the mall, swim, and have fun. 

The day before our flight to New Mexico I woke up with a scratchy throat and some nasal drainage.  I am not bragging, but I never get sick. In fact it has been over three years since I even had a cold. Tuesday morning my voice was even more raspy and I was worried I was getting laryngitis.  I decided to go to the doctor before we flew out that afternoon.  The nurse practitioner who saw me, said it was a simple cold and to expect day three and four to be the "worst", but that I should be just fine to speak.

Once we arrived in New Mexico my voice was still raspy, but other than that I felt "OK". We were met by Stan and Linda Burgett from Passion Play Ministries, they helped us get our luggage and rental car situated.  We drove three hours to get to Farmington, needless to say, we all three slept well that night. Wednesday morning I  felt "OK" but still sounded raspy and now I was developing a slight cough. Later Wednesday night we drove to Crossroads Community Church and amazingly my voice sounded a little better. I tried not to think about speaking and just focus on leaning on God for strength and courage. 

I felt nervous but the people at Crossroads were very kind and encouraging to me. Once the Pastor prayed for me and I started talking, my nerves went away and I had peace in my heart (my mind).  Afterward, at the book signing, several people shared that they also had panic and anxiety and thanked me for sharing my story with them.  There were also several men and women who shared that they knew that their own issues with guilt, shame, and fear had been keeping them from HOPE, but that the message gave them encouragement and HOPE!  I felt very humbled and honored that God would choose to use me, a woman who was was riddled with guilt, shame, and fear, for most of her life, to now share hope with others!

Thursday morning I woke up and felt awful.  I was wheezing (I have asthma but it only acts up when I am sick).  My voice sounded terrible.  I couldn't breathe.  I now had a deep cough and major sinus pressure.  I knew from  my wheezing that I probably needed a breathing treatment and possibly an antibiotic for what I thought was a sinus infection.  I called my friend Suzette who has a lot of experience with asthma, as she and her youngest daughter also have it. She told me I needed to see a doctor right away and to get a breathing treatment! I called my husband, who was at the radio station helping with the fundraiser, I told him I need to see a doctor as soon as possible.  Praise God that Fareed, owner of the radio station,  knows of several good doctors in the area. I was able to talk to a doctor on the phone who was heading out the door, but said his nurse would stay at the office to see me and give me a breathing treatment.  Based on my symptoms and how I sounded, he also called in an antibiotic for me.  Once I arrived at the doctors office I made an immediate connection with the nurse.  She listens to KPCL and my husbands morning show.  She knew who I was, but she had not realized I had written a book and that I would be speaking this weekend.  We talked more and the more we talked, I felt the Lord telling me to give her a book and invite her to Sunday's event.  So, I did.  My heart was heavy for her. I really hoped she would come. I felt in my heart that she was the ultimate reason I was so sick.  Not to sound like a martyr but I would honestly be sick again if only for her. I know she needed HOPE. 

Friday morning I woke up feeling worse.  My cough was deeper, I could barley breathe, my wheezing was back, and I had no energy.  My husband called the same doctor, but he was out on Friday, so they found another doctor who could see me immediately.  This doctor not only gave me a another breathing treatment, but a steroid shot, a new antibiotic, prednisone (to help with the inflammation of my lungs), and a different inhaler to go along with the regular one I had. He diagnosed me with bronchitis and sinusitis (which in turn flared my asthma). My husband and I connected with the doctor, the nurse, and the receptionist.  We ended up leaving three books and inviting them to Sunday's event as well.  By God's grace and mercy I was beginning to feel better within a few hours.  I rested well that night and felt very grateful for all of my family and friends who were praying for me and for the doctors who so graciously took care of me.

Saturday morning arrived and I was feeling even better!  Praise God!  We arrived at First Baptist and I was excited to share the message of  Hope. They had a wonderful array of delicious food to share and then I spoke.  The women were all very encouraging and several shared their hearts with me. I am still very touched by the women there. One woman touched my heart deeply.  She is a  sweet kind woman who I will refer to as "M".  She told me she also had PTSD, panic, anxiety, as well as severe depression.  She had also attempted suicide on more than one occasion.  She told me she desperately needed hope.  We talked some more and I encouraged her. I told her I was glad she was still here and that she came to this event.  I ask anyone who is reading this to please pray for "M".  She is lonely.  She is depressed.  She has severe abuse and neglect in her past.  She is unable to work.. She feels as if she has no purpose in life whatsoever.  I know the people of First Baptist are reaching out to her and helping her, but she needs our prayers as well.(if you would like to send her an encouragement....please email and I will make sure to pass it on to her)

Saturday night was my first book signing at Pinon Hills.  They offer three services one on Saturday night and two on Sunday morning.  The pastor had me come on stage with him before he began his message.  I had an opportunity to share what my book was about and then he asked me a few questions.One of the questions he asked me during the first Sunday morning service was about medication.  He asked me if I took medication. I confess, at first, it caught me off guard, because I know there are some within the christian community who believe taking medication for depression or anxiety is not necessary and that you need to simply pray more, fast, or that the root cause of this must be unconfessed sin. I shared that I am a firm believer that properly prescribed medication is 100% fine.  People take medication for high blood pressure, diabetes, and whatever else our bodies need.  We live in a fallen world and we have fallen bodies and sometimes the medication can help us as we begin to deal with the roots of our problems (as in my case when I was on antidepressants for nine months). Sometimes medication is the only way to get your mind back in balance. I mentioned that I still keep my anxiety medication on hand.  I know my triggers and I  have learned to understand my body signals, but still there are times, when I may need to take something, if other things are not helping.

It turns out the pastor specifically asked me this question because he knows people struggle with taking medication for depression and other mental health issues. I hope and pray my answer helped someone who may be struggling with taking medication, to know that depression, panic, anxiety and other related illness's are NOT a punishment for being bad or sinful. I am a firm believer in God and my faith, and I know that at any time if God chooses, He can heal anyone.  He has the power to take away any sickness or illness. Prayer is important, in fact it is vital to your relationship with Christ, but I also believe God can use doctors and medication.

Moving on to Sunday night at Emmanuel Baptist. By now I was feeling much better.  I was excited about this event because I was sharing both of my messages.  It was also my first time sharing the message on Forgiveness.  I immediately felt comfortable once the pastor introduced me and prayed over me.  As I began to share, I noticed that my notes some how were out of order.  I continued on for a few seconds and realized I needed to stop so I could get them organized.  I asked my husband to pray for me as my notes were out of order...he did and by the end of his prayer my notes were in order and I was ready to move forward!  * I was a little disappointed as I felt that was "unprofessional" but I told myself, "it is what it is", and I reacted the only way I knew how....I stopped and prayed.  I recently received a very encouraging email from someone who was at this event and she shared how that very incident encouraged her and she wanted the faith that I had!  I actually cried when I read this- here I was so focused on thinking how unprofessional it was when God was using this to draw someone closer to Him!

This event would be the first time my husband had heard the forgiveness message.  He knew the main points, but it never worked out for us to sit down together and have me "practice" with him.  After the message he hugged me, and said he was very proud of me, and that Hope was a great message, but that Forgiveness knocked it out of the park!.  Well, I am not sure about that, but I do know it was a message heavy on my heart and I allowed myself to be very vulnerable in the three areas I spoke about (forgiving self, others, and asking for forgiveness).  I can still hear God saying, "It's all or nothing", in my heart and that is what continues to give me the courage to share so openly and honestly.  The evening ended with an incredible response and many more heart connections from women as well as men.  "My" nurse also made it, she sat in the front row.  We unfortunately did not get a chance to talk at the end of the evening, but I know that I  know, we were supposed to connect. and she was supposed to be there.

I feel very honored and humble that God has opened this door for me to share my story with so many people.  The conversations and the emails have truly touched my heart and have given me even more passion within my heart to keep sharing.

Thank you Farmington, New Mexico, KPCL Passion Radio, Passion Play Ministries International, Crossroads Community Church, First Baptist, Pinon Hills, and Emmanuel Baptist for opening your hearts to me and more than that, I pray you continue to move closer to God's mercy, love, and forgiveness.

Remember there is always HOPE!

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