Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Three days

This week my body has taken me through the wring.er., and since my next doctor's appointment isn't until tomorrow, I've been pumping my body full of every natural remedy I can think of to try to ease my symptoms a bit. Nutritional shakes. Gallons of water. Electrolyte drinks (thanks, mom, for inventing the concoction). Vitamins. Supplements. And man, nothing is working. And so, I have decided to try bone broth — the anti-inflammatory elixir touted by bloggers such as Wellness Mama and Dr. Mercola and recommended to me by multiple friends. This stuff sounds like the real deal, so last week I bought the ingredients to make my own. Today is the first time I'll actually drink the broth, though, because it's taken me three days to make this stuff. And my, what a long three days it's been.

Have you ever made beef bone broth, dear readers? It is one of God's especially stinky gifts. And since the bones have to simmer for for 48-72 hours before their marrow has fully disintegrated into the broth, it's three days of major stink. God bless my parents who have put up with this constant, simmering stench ("Sarah, I can smell that stuff in the front yard"). And God bless my bedroom, which has a way of trapping especially potent pockets of bone broth stink (there is no escape from this smell. None). And God bless my body, for which my family and I are enduring three days of olfactory discomfort (one day we'll laugh about this).

In the meantime, I'm thinking I'll try chicken bones for my next batch of broth. Surely they smell better than beef bones. If you bone broth aficionados are able to weigh in on this stinky issue, please do. Do you know of a less smelly way to do this? If so, my family will be forever in your debt.

Over and out, and cheering for ya, Skillets,


P.S. I'll see a new N.D. tomorrow. Would you pray that God will fill him with supernatural healing wisdom and that he'll get me on a trajectory of healing? I'll also be seeing three different doctors ( a radiologist for a brain scan, a neurologist, and an infectious disease doctor) in the next few weeks. I'm hoping they can collectively shed some light on what's going on in my body.

© by scj

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Yesterday my cousin brought her sweet babies, ages 3 and 1, over from Portland to visit. My aunt and uncle are visiting my parents from southern California, so it was a family breakfast affair. I sure love having babies in the house.

Everything is so exciting when babies are around. The birds are taking a bath in the fountain outside the window? AMAZING. The bushes out front are full of plump blueberries? DELIGHTFUL. The big truck behind the house is pouring cement? GET OUT OF TOWN.

Talking about the bathing birdies

Life is a stream of delights cascading into every moment when you're a kid. 

When you're a kid, eating trail mix is HILARIOUS. There's just something about peanuts and red M&Ms, man.

And best of all, when you're a kid, every Bible story is fresh and awe-inspiring:

Here, R and I are reading excerpts from the book of John. The story of Jesus washing his disciples' feet was particularly noteworthy to little R. ("Mom, Jesus washed off the mud and animal poop!")

I'll tell you what, if you're wanting to increase your happiness quotient, go hang out with some babies.

Heavens to Betsy, they're one of life's greatest delights.

Happy Tuesday, friends.

Cheering for ya,


© by scj

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Helping my unbelief

Yesterday was full of sweet gifts. Tea in the backyard while reading the story of the widow's offering in Luke 21. Then lunch on a bench in the sunshine. Turkey, quinoa, and spinach tossed in peach vinaigrette and olive oil, with homegrown blueberries for dessert. I'm grateful for these quieter moments. By evening, however, my symptoms grew loud and ornery, and I felt too sick to blow-dry my wet hair. My mom offered to dry it for me, and although her touch was soothing, I felt disappointed by my body's continued limitations. When I climbed in bed, I was trudging through thick layers of muddy discouragement.

A few weeks ago I read Mark 9 in which a father brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus for healing. The disciples try healing him first. No luck. "This kind needs prayer," Jesus admonishes them. I'd always thought Jesus was classifying demons in this story, as if some exorcisms need prayer while others don't. But one of my pastors said Jesus was making a point about all exorcisms: they all require the power God; without his involvement, the demons ain't going nowhere.

The disciples were relying on their own power to heal the sick boy; that's why Jesus admonished them: "How long will I put up with you, you faithless generation?" The boy's father isn't exactly demonstrating hall-of-fame faith, either. "If you can help me, please do," he says to Jesus. "If?" Jesus asks. "All things are possible for one who believes!"

"I believe," the boys father cries. "Help my unbelief!"

I've prayed this prayer a number of times over the years. When I do, I typically expect Jesus will answer by pulling out his scalpel and cutting the unbelief out of my heart in an act of merciful yet painful surgery. But there are no scalpels in this story. Instead, Jesus turns and heals the boy. A gracious act to buoy the man's faith.

I like Jesus's answer to this man's prayer, so a few weeks ago, I started echoing the prayer more persistently: "Lord, help my unbelief on this long journey of sickness." I wait expectantly, hoping for a miracle. And then, days after I start asking God to help my unbelief, the doctor I've been waiting months to see cancels my appointment. I spend hours researching and calling other doctors but can't find a reputed doctor who will see me before the end of July, just weeks before summer's end.

So much for an imminent miracle.

Last night I knelt at my bed before going to sleep. "God," I prayed, "I really need you to help me trust you. I’m having trouble believing you’re attentive to, involved in, and care about this journey of sickness. Please help my unbelief by teaching me your tender care for me." 

This morning I woke up to a text from a good friend. She'd sent it last night, 45 minutes after I prayed and climbed in bed:

Thinking of you so much tonight. My bible study of young adults are all praying for you. Jeff, our bible study leader, prayed for you powerfully this evening. He's so kind. About 6'4", deep voice, gray haired man. About 65. Thought you might appreciate the visual :) Powerful prayer :) 

The text was from my friend, but it felt like it was from God, as if he was saying, "See, I care. While you were on your knees praying last night, I was moving in my people to come before God's throne on your behalf. You'll know my tender care through my people."

Seconds after reading the text, the doorbell rang. I walked upstairs and found a large vase of summer flowers on the step, waiting just for me.

Later, I discovered my former piano teacher left them. She had a recital for her students last night and these flowers were part of the decor. "Who shall I give them to?" she wondered as she drifted off to sleep last night. This morning, while she was walking with a friend who also struggles with chronic illness, my name came up. Just then, my piano teacher heard the Holy Spirit say, "Sarah!! Take the flowers to Sarah!" So she did. 

"See, I care; you'll know my tender care through my people." 

Gooood morning, Sunshine!

In his book about the dignity of work, Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller discusses the different ways God answers the petitions of the Psalmist for food, shelter and clothing. God uses farmers to provide food, tailors to provide clothing, and builders to provide shelter. He provides for us through other people. This morning I've been taking stock of all the ways God has cared for me through his people this month. The list is long. 

1. The friend who also sees Dr. N. and, upon learning about my canceled appointment, called him to see if she could give me her appointment. (She couldn't, but the gesture was lovely).

2. The other friend who sees Dr. N., whose mom, upon learning about my canceled appointment, called Dr. N.'s office to say, "You NEED to see Sarah Jackson!"

3. The friend who offered to drive an hour out from L.A. to ensure I got safely on the airplane two weeks ago when I flew to Washington. 

4. The friend who offered to drive 1 1/2 hours each way to help me pack. 

5. The friend who offered to bring her baby over to keep me company while I was in bed.

6. The friend who called her doctor to see if she treated lyme, and then emailed me her doctor's contact information. 

7. The myriad friends and strangers who have emailed me with doctor's names, articles with helpful information, and words of encouragement. 

8. My parents and siblings, who ensure I'm not alone on this journey. 

9. The friend who's battled lyme for ten years and has talked me through a number of hard spots over the telephone. 

10. The friend who's battled lyme for four years and called me before my flight to give me suggestions for surviving in one piece. 

11. The new friend who took me to the airport early Sunday morning. 

12. The scores of you who have upheld me in prayer.

I'm currently reading Eric Metaxas' book Miracles. Regularly, he reminds me that the whole point of miracles is for Jesus to prove his deity and message his love to us. I'm still waiting for the healing miracle, but in the meantime, he's using you all to message his love to me. Thank you. The healing miracle may not happen this side of heaven, but your compassion sure does make life on earth rich and meaningful. I'm grateful for your participation in God's answers to my prayers for help. 

Praying for you all today. Do let me know how I can pray.

Cheering for ya, Skillets,


© by scj

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Barefoot days

It's been a week full of family, rest, bare feet, home-grown strawberries, and walks in the sunshine.

(Posting bare feet pictures on here means you and I are becoming great pals. Only a good friend can graciously endure bare feet pictures.)
I'm happy to report that my symptoms have, for the most part, continued to quiet down since I've arrived in Washington, and I have occasional pockets of relief that allow me to be productive. And by be productive, I mean dance. I hope to have the moonwalk mastered by the time my brother gets married this September. Hollllla!

I'm hopeful that this week's improvements indicate future improvement, but there is nothing linear about this illness. It's wildly erratic, with ebbing and flowing that makes no sense at all. I've stopped trying to predict when I'll feel this way or that, and have instead decided to take full advantage of the quieter stretches. This week's quietest stretches were filled with a picnic and nature hike with my sister.

My body has also allowed me to settle into a nice daily rhythm this week. In the mornings, I have a cuppa tea in the sunshine while I read my Bible. I write for several hours mid-day, and in the evenings, my mom and I go on short walks on the university campus up the street. The views are our walk are breath-taking:

There is little in the world that compares to a Pacific Northwest summer. I would drink this fragrant air through a straw if I could figure out how. I'm so glad I'm up here.

Happy Tuesday, friends.

Praying for you. And, as always, cheering for ya, Skillets.


© by scj

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Home again

Glory hallelujah, I made it to Washington state safe and sound with no physical complications while in the air. My ideal health scenario last week would have been continued herb-induced improvement as I prepared to fly, but God sure used the week of physical crisis to showcase the power of prayer. I like it when he does that.

The carpet at PDX is renowned among lovers of the PNW

Dozens, maybe even scores, of you were praying for me last week, and on Saturday, the night before my flight, my symptoms suddenly quieted. On Sunday, while I flew, they remained quiet; and since I arrived in Washington, they've stayed mostly quiet-ish. Never in the last five years— and I really mean NEVER — has my health turned around as fast as it did on Saturday. I wasn't on any new medicine to induce the change, so the only way I can explain my body's sudden improvement before flying is God's gracious response to our prayers.

Although my symptoms were quieter on Sunday, I still felt nervous to fly. Before I got sick years ago, I liked flying. I especially liked turbulence. Something about the rhythmic jostling comforted me. So it was rather surprising when, while flying to Washington five years ago, the plane hit some turbulence and my body went into fight or flight mode. My heart raced, adrenaline charged, and throat constricted. Ever since then, I spend most flights trying to comfort my body by practicing mindfulness

But folks, I have discovered something with faster results than mindfulness: AIRPLANE DANCING. Here's what you do: put on your headphones and blast a very upbeat playlist. I listened to a song [on repeat] written by my friend Marques Nelson. Forevermore, this song will be my airplane jam, man. I could've danced in the aisles if everyone else would've been okay with it. Instead, I danced with my shoulders and fingers. I shimmied and I shook and I conducted the band (God bless the people sitting on either side of me), and you know what? My central nervous system didn't go haywire. Sometimes I even had the sense that the airplane's bumps and dips were the plane's attempt at some sweet dance moves.

So now I'm at my folks' house, and I'm thanking God for the week of physical crisis last week because it allowed him to showcase his attention to the prayers of his people and his power to ease a girl's symptoms just like *that*. I'm also thanking him for bodies that open us to the joy of dance, even if it's just shoulder dancing.

But that's not all, folks. An N.D., Dr. A., had a cancellation yesterday and I was able to see her. I'm still processing our appointment, but I think seeing her was a good first step. I'm on a number of other doctors' waiting lists and am asking God to direct me to the next good doctor. Because none of these doctors is quite as educated and reputed as Dr. N., I'm realizing I'll need to see a few of them in order to definitively diagnose my illness and develop a more well-rounded and effective protocol. In the meantime, I'm easing into Dr. A.'s protocol and am praying for God's continued direction and provision. There can be lots of complications when trying to clear a systemic infection caused by lyme or other pathogens, especially since killing off bacteria too fast in a weak body can cause more havoc than healing. I want to make wise, informed choices as I work toward health.

Thank you for your encouragement, support, and prayers. I just love you all. Let me know if there's any way I can pray for you this week. (Contact info here).

Cheering for ya, Skillets,


© by scj

Friday, June 5, 2015

Plot Twist


This is going to be short because my body is not in a good place, but I'm posting because this week I need lots of prayer.

So remember the specialist in Washington I've been waiting to see? His name is Dr. N. and he is brilliant and loaded with impressive degrees. He specializes in helping people with mysterious chronic illness, especially patients with lyme disease. For months now I've had friends and readers of my blog (hi, guys!) email me urging me to get tested for lyme. The idea has crossed my mind several times over the years but each time I've taken steps to investigate lyme with a competent doctor, I've seen significant improvement in my health before seeing the doctor or getting tested so I've held off. Being chronically ill is expensive and I have to be strategic about the doctors I see and tests I run. But at this point in the game, lyme disease makes absolute perfect sense, so I'm investigating this option.

The difficulty with lyme disease is it's hard to diagnose. There are blood tests but they often show false negatives. People who have been sick with lyme for a long time don't always produce the antibodies that show up on those tests. Sometimes, the sicker you are with lyme, the more likely you are to get a false negative. So I need someone really smart who can help me figure out what's wreaking so much havoc in my body. Enter: Dr. N.

The last five months have been some of the hardest of my life. Most days, I'm begging God for mercy from the time I get up to the time I get to bed. When I'm not praying, I'm comforting myself. "Just a a little bit longer and you get to see Dr. N., Sarah. Hang in there." Dr. N. has been my best human hope for diagnosing my ailments and alleviating my symptoms.

But then, a few days ago, the town crier ran onto the dramatic stage that is my life and shouted, "PLOT TWIST!"

Dr. N. is going out of town for half the summer and I will not get to see him on the 15th after all. He leaves the day before my scheduled appointment. I am so, so disappointed and discouraged. I'll be able to see him the end of summer, but that's disappointing for a couple reasons. First, I'd planned on using the summer to get treatment so I can return to southern California in the fall. I love my life down here and want to keep it. If I don't get treated this summer, I can't imagine how I'll be able to come back in August. Second, my body, heart and mind are so weary of enduring so much physical suffering. I long for relief.

So now I'm back to the drawing board, scrambling to find a doctor near my folks' house. I've found a few, but none of them can see me before late July. I've gotten on their cancellation lists in case there's an opening in the next several weeks. I've also moved my flight up from next Tuesday to this Sunday so I'm in Washington all next week in case Dr. N. has a cancellation.

Will you pray for me as I look for a doctor? Please pray that I can get into see a doctor who will be a good fit for my needs in the next couple of weeks, and please pray that I can rest in God's goodness, power, and provision in the meantime. And, as I fly on Sunday, please pray for a turbulence-free flight and a calm nervous system.

This was longer than I thought! A Friday miracle! Thanks for your notes of encouragement, prayers and help on this journey, my friends. You help mitigate the difficulty of all this.

Cheering for ya, Skillets,


© by scj

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

More prayer requests

Dear Ones,

By the grace of God, I made it across the finish line. My classes are over and grades are in. Summer is officially here. Thankfully, I recently sold my car (yay! Thanks for praying about that) and am heading to Washington next week where I'll rest and see a specialist who can hopefully give me a diagnosis and some treatment. In the meantime, the Chinese herbs that were giving me some relief the last few weeks seem to have completely stopped working this week, and my symptoms are horrendous. I'm hoping you prayer warriors can prop me up in prayer as I prepare to travel next week.

Here are my prayer requests:

1. Protection. I'm really nervous about flying next week as I'm not sure if my body can handle it. I'm particularly worried that the pressure and altitude will make my body go haywire.

2. Wisdom. It may be unwise for me to fly, in which case I'll have to find another way to get home. Not sure I can drive myself at this point. 

3. Relief. There's nothing I can take or do to get physical relief right now, so I'm asking God to lessen my symptoms as the week progresses.

4. Stamina. Yesterday my big activity was making a salad and washing the dishes afterward. It's going to take some supernatural strength to make it to this week's doctor's appointments, pack, and travel.

5. Encouragement and peace; a sense of the Spirit's presence.

I'm so thankful for your prayers, my friends. How can I pray for you today? Shoot me an email to let me know.

Cheering for ya, Skillets,


© by scj