Welcome to A Million Miracles.

In February of 2008 I was diagnosed with an incurable, progressive and terminal condition called Idiopathic Primary Pulmonary Hypertension (PH). In retrospect, we can trace this illness back to at least January of 2004, but you can have it for several years before you notice any symptoms. My diagnosis came after I was hospitalized for what ended up being almost three weeks - spent consecutively in three different hospitals - two of them being in ICU units. Over the past year we have been sending email updates to family and friends concerning my medical/physical journey as well as lessons I'm learning as a result.

These are those emails. There's no rhyme or reason as to when I send out another email update. It just happens when "the Spirit moves." But whenever I write and send one, I will also post it on this blog.

Monday, February 15, 2010

#55 - Get me off this mountain

Date Sent: Mon, Feb 15, 2010 at 9:23 PM

This past weekend I participated in a women's conference, Understanding Grace, and it was the first time I've ever participated in something like that (other than sitting comfortably at a table just listening and taking notes).  It was an incredibly stretching experience - and I learned SO MUCH - about the topic (as I reflected, read, and pondered the topic in advance), about myself, and about God's role in providing me with understanding.  It was a life changing experience for me, and I felt so blessed to participate.  

The conference center was located atop a VERY high hill, and God was gracious to me - the elevation didn't prove too much for my lungs to handle.  I even commented at one point that a year ago I would have needed to be on constant oxygen at that elevation.  The conference was Friday evening (that was my part), and most of Saturday.  Then Sunday marked not only Valentine's Day, but also the 2 year anniversary since I was originally hospitalized, and thus began this journey in an in-my-face sort of way.  Last year, as is true of first anniversaries, Valentine's Day was very difficult.  This year, I spent the days leading up to it discussing with a wonderful group of women some of the good that's come from the pain.  In hopes of helping to bring back the positive connotation most people have for Valentine's Day, my mother offered to watch the boys Saturday night while Aaron and I spent the night "away and alone."  We ended up spending the night at Oglebay Park, and picked up the boys Sunday morning in time for her to leave for Sunday School.

I'm not sure if our room at Oglebay was higher in elevation than where the conference center was located, or if God just allowed the elevation to bother me more - a LOT more.  I really, REALLY struggled with lightheadedness.  Sunday morning, as we enjoyed a breakfast buffet, overlooking the beautiful snowy hills at Oglebay, the thought entered my mind, "God, it sure is beautiful up here.  But get me off this mountain and back down to the valley."  Though I meant it literally, the figurative meaning immediately swept over me and I started trying to rescind my words!  But all morning that prayer kept replaying in my mind.

As Christians we long for beautiful, peaceful mountaintop experiences.  We pray for easy lives filled with happiness and comfort.  And occasionally God provides us with just that.  God gives us those moments to gain new perspective, and momentarily to rest.  But that's not where we grow - not where we're stretched - not where we learn the most about our God.  We GROW in the valleys - in the swamps - in the bogs - in the river rapids ....  I would be VERY happy not to have any more struggles for a LONG time, but I need to continue to grow.  Yes, sometimes that growth comes from reflection.  But sometimes growth needs to come from being stretched - from reaching the end of my rope, and needing to grab ahold of God so I won't fall.  

While I pray that I don't walk through "the valley of the shadow of death" (Psalm 23:4a) again anytime soon, I do want to keep learning about my amazing God - His provision, His grace, His forgiveness, His love - and how I can show Him to others.  So ... YES.   "God, it sure is beautiful up here.  But get me off this mountain and back down to the valley."

~ Julia