What do you love?
What causes freedom to pulse within your veins? Where can you go to hide away from this world’s noise, to decompress?
Since I was a girl, for me it’s been the great outdoors. Give me the mountains, the ocean, the countryside and all the animals that they contain. They call to me, they cause me to think clearer, and breathe deeper. I believe that nature by it’s very existence heals people and animals. It’s a glimpse of the beauty that abides in Heaven, which, I believe is a real, live place.
I’d be content on this earth to be continually barefooted and fancy free. Give me shelter under a gazillion stars, a garden, animals, and a simple life. That’s enough for me and it began when I was a child.
Ours was a middle class family of six, whose vacations involved camping, hiking, and swimming in oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams. Back then, we never could’ve imagined the hidden dangers lurking within the grassy meadows and trees of the forests we visited. Yes, way back in 1971 there were ticks which carried Lyme Disease in those California woodlands. Neither my parents, their friends, family, or doctors knew a thing about Lyme Disease. So, when a tick that was carrying Lyme bit my arm when I was twelve years old, we didn’t sweat it. When the bite mark grew and resembled a bulls eye, we still didn’t worry. When I came down with flu-like symptoms, my parents thought I had the flu. The fact that nobody else got it was attributed to luck.
The years that followed brought with them a host of health problems for me. I had difficulty concentrating, and learning. I experienced headaches daily. Participating in sports for any length of time was next to impossible due to severe fatigue. I didn’t dare try out for the track team, when running one lap winded me. I rarely slept through the night. Insomnia was quite common. I didn’t know that it wasn’t normal not to get strep throat every six months. My back often hurt and I developed stomach issues.
How in the world I lived to be 46 before a correct diagnosis is beyond my realm of understanding. At the time, I was dying.
Maybe I lived that long because after that fateful camping trip to Mammoth Pool, California, I was on antibiotics every 6 months or so. Or maybe there is a greater power at work here.
Often times now, test results regarding my condition are bleak. They say things I wish were not true. I do everything the doctors tell me to do, but, according to the test results I have not progressed. If that is true, I ought to be dead.
But God…He has another plan. He has kept me alive against the odds. I’m convinced that I won’t breathe my last breath a second sooner than I’m supposed to and when I do, He will take me Home.
Home, where they pave the streets with pure gold. Home, where gates are made of pearls. Where we will only know happy tears, and peace uninterrupted.
Think about that for a minute. The materials we use to pave roads here on Earth are the cheapest we have; cement, sand and crushed rocks. The materials used to pave the roads in Heaven are pure gold.
That’s Heaven’s standard. Pure gold for streets. Pearls for gates. (Revelation 21:21)
That gives me hope like nothing else. God has prepared a place for me and spared nothing for its beauty, and that includes divine health. No more sickness. No more dis-ease. We will know ease, peace and love so divine this writer cannot find the words to describe it. We will know God face-to-face. That’s the real beauty of Heaven, the One who created it. That’s what makes life on Earth worth living, too. His love is all over this planet. I take that love with me, along with the love of friends and family.
That’s how I’m going to win. That’s the medicine that saves me.
Please pave my soul with love as transparent as the gold in heaven. Purify me as such. Walk the streets of my heart and own every cobblestone and grain of sand. Help me to love as Heaven loves, and to abide in You always.
Daily Conqueror Moments
Daily encouragement and inspiration for the warrior in all of us. You can be a winner, a victor, and a CONQUEROR every day of your life. Lisa's posts will help lead the way on this cadence we call life.
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What do you love?
The other day I visited my son and his family. I actually felt strong enough to watch my grandson for awhile. Before I drove back home, my son and I sat and talked awhile. We spoke among other things, about how much we both miss my dad. It's hard to believe he's been gone over 8 months now. We talked about how we are both like him in some ways and how neither of us can bring ourselves to delete his number from our phone contacts. We agreed that Sam Elliot's character on The Ranch reminds us of my dad; the veteran, the cowboy, the legend.
What I wouldn't give for 5 more minutes with my dad and mom. They were married over 32 years when mom died. I can't wait to be with her again. She was so amazing!
It seems like they did everything well. Cooking, gardening, fishing, and a million other things. They made the best homemade blackberry jam ever, and Sunday morning breakfasts were the best. They went all out. Biscuits and gravy, sausage or bacon, waffles and fresh fruit. It was "Here's the funny papers, girls." and "Kmart is having a sale on fishing lures." Sometimes we'd go on over to Kmart and he'd buy me a large bag of popcorn for a dime that I didn't have to share with my big sisters.
Sometimes we'd go fishing on the weekends and God knows with four daughters it's a miracle he caught any fish at all with all the chatter. He'd always offer a dollar for whomever caught the first fish. Then we'd buy 100 pieces of penny candy. Great googly moogly, the sugar rush!
These memories are so sweet they make me cry. Partly with gratitude and part with longing for just one more day with Mom and Dad.
I wonder what they're doing up there in Heaven tonight. I wonder what they saw the first 5 minutes they were there. I wonder when I'll see them again.
For those who have perfect health and for those who don't, take it from someone who has experienced a great deal of loss: Choose love. Choose it every time. It doesn't mean you have to allow toxic people into your world but...
Remember to hold tight to your loved ones. Forget petty offenses. Forgive. Love big. Be mushy. Say words of celebration and appreciation for who they are. Don't shy away from the words "I love you." Always hug hello and goodbye.
Cherish every moment.
Ask anyone who knows me well, being still is not my forte. My parents had my big sisters and I doing chores and pitching in at young ages. We didn't get allowance. We were made to understand that this was simply part of being a family and it took all of us to make it operate well. I worked in the large garden we had, pulling weeds and gathering our little harvest in the hot summer sun.
Us girls painted the picket fence each summer, fed the horses, groomed them, fed the chickens, and gathered eggs. Mom taught me to cook at around age ten.
Work was (is) a part of who I am and it's always made me feel better about myself.
Back in 2005, when a team of four Lyme specialists told me I would have to leave my job at Hewlett Packard and go on disability- it was hard to let go. It wasn't enough for me just to stay at home.
"Lisa, if you don't rest through this process, you could die." they said.
Shortly afterwards, I resigned from singing on the praise team at my church in Denver. I missed it so much! It hurt because I felt utterly useless. Not being a part of ministry meant I wasn't contributing anything at all to my church.
God must be disappointed in me.
It wasn't enough.
No. I wasn't enough.
I was "less than." Just fill in the blank. I was less than whatever or whoever you could think up.
Then in 2017 just 3 months after being crowned Mrs. International Elite with Today's International Woman Pageant, I had to relinquish my title due to this illness. I felt embarrassed, guilty, and lost. (They broke the rules and let me keep that gorgeous crown though!)
Recently, I was admonished to step down temporarily as CEO of Little Glimmer of Hope Foundation, the charity I co-founded with my husband in 2014.
I'm letting everyone down. My clients. My board. Everyone, I thought.
Saying all of this has been difficult for me is an understatement. I would've never thought of it this way, but I've been in a grieving process over it. I simply could not let go.
I've felt tidal waves of worthlessness because a great deal of my worth was tied up in what I did or did not do. Resting just felt wrong. Whatever, "enough" was, I wasn't measuring up.
My board told me, "You have one job. Get well." My husband reasoned with me. My pastors counseled me. My best friend convinced me. Yet, I still couldn't let go and I couldn't figure out why. I mean I prayed and said "God, I'm letting go." I soon learned saying it and doing it are two entirely different paradigms.
Then, today while reading a book that a friend suggested entitled God's Best Kept Secret, I read this simple, yet profound truth.
"God does not determine who you are by what you do."
Whoa. Wait. Really? He doesn't? You mean to say He loves me just because I'm His child? I don't have to try harder, do better, make a difference, or go-go-go for Him to be my Father and adore me anyway?
"His mercies are new every morning," my husband said.
"You don't have to do anything for Him to love you. Lisa, you must let go! You'll only get sicker if you don't!" my best friend stated factually.
"You are loved unconditionally. You are safe." my pastors encouraged.
That seems too good to be real. But, please, God, let it be real.
"He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." Titus 3:5
My worth is determined by so much more than what I am capable of.
When I wake up in the morning, it's often not up to me as to what I am capable of. If I have to be somewhere by 9, I make sure I'm awake several hours ahead of time. I've showered the night before. I've got to give my body time to let me know what it will and will not do that day. It's not unusual to have no more strength than to simply lay down all day.
This is my world now, and although it's 100% harder than life pre-Lyme, I am grateful for air in my lungs and the ability to still be capable of doing what I can do.
What can I do though?
I can write. I can read. I can laugh and give a listening ear to a friend. I can talk with my grandchildren on the phone and hear their giggles. I can be a loyal friend to many. I can be a good wife to my husband.
I can choose joy.
Most importantly, I can love. I still have that ability and no person, no hardship, no challenge, no sickness, disease, or demon in hell can take that away from me.
When I buy into the lie that I am what I do, I live in a state of identity crisis. There's so much more to every single one of us than what we can or cannot do.
"And now abide faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love."
I've lost the ability to do a great many things, but I have not lost the ability to love. As long as I have this heart beating, I still have the ability to love on this earth.
Giving it away, receiving it, basking in it. I have learned, Love is enough. It is the foundation and cornerstone of all that we are, because God is Love. Love overcomes obstacles you didn't even know you had. Love has enabled me to accept myself the way I am right in this minute, weaknesses and all. To love is a hard quest at times, but God's Love is a Comrade who will walk this life's cadence with you to a rhythm you can understand. And when you're worn thin and cannot walk, Love will carry you. When you're alone and lonely as if you're on the outside looking in, Love will invite you in with open arms and give you a seat at the most elaborate banquet table you've ever seen. Love will show you that you're accepted and worthy.
My fragmented heart is being made whole because of Love and it is enough.
Among my favorite things in this world are music and fashion. I don't mind a bit if you turn on some Hall and Oates and I'll get along just fine tapping my toes to the latest groove in a pair of Christian Louboutins. Both the music and the fashion are works of art that I don't want to live without.
The operative word here is "live".
Everyone of us just want to live this life of ours. We want to thrive and not just survive.
So what do I have in common with Ashley, Avril, Daryl, and Yolanda?
Ashley knows it's not in fashion.
Avril knows it's complicated.
Daryl was almost out of time because of it.
Yolanda knows it's more real than any Beverly Hills housewife.
And me...I'm a Lyme Warrior just like they are.
When your life is turned upside down, it's hard to let the rest of the world know about it, even when you're a celebrity. It's highly personal and you truly feel as though you're not yourself any longer. Lyme changes everything, and most of the time those changes are permanent. It takes a certain amount of time to learn how to navigate this whole new world. It requires courage to share your story with the rest of the world because, unfortunately there are people out there who are judgmental, some are committed to misunderstanding you and Lyme disease. Still others are just plain cruel about it all.
As for me, I'm just an ordinary woman. I'm not famous or popular nor do I have a gigantic following. I'm a human being though, and I am personally and intimately acquainted with the tragedy that is Lyme disease.
That's exactly why I feel a connection to these beautiful people, because we're in the same war together. Some of us have had it worse than others, but we're all determined to win this battle and live to see all of the tomorrows that we possibly can.
I'm grateful that these celebrities have come forward to share their very personal struggles with Lyme because it gave me the courage to do the same.
Never underestimate the power that lies in telling your story.
"When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal someone else." -Iyanla Vanzant
So, I'm telling my story. Right here. Right now. In this blog and in my upcoming book due out in May 2016. I'm shouting it from the rooftops: "Lyme disease is horribly real, life altering and frightening, but it doesn't have to be a death sentence and there is NO requirement in allowing it to steal your joy or take over your life!"
Ashley, Avril, Daryl, Yolanda and untold thousands of other beautiful people, including myself, have all been to the brink and back, but, we're all still here and one by one, we're telling our stories in the hopes of bringing someone else back from the brink of despair, as well as doing everything within our power to prevent another human being from ever contracting Lyme.
I will live my life! I will wear fashion that makes me feel beautiful, even on the days that feel so complicated. When Lyme makes me feel out of touch and out of time, I'll keep on keeping it real. I will carry on, and by God I will win and I will help others who are fighting in the trenches to win, too!
When I was in the fourth grade, my elementary school teacher, Mrs. Wylie, organized a Mush Ball game for morning recess time. Each week she choose new team captains, who would then choose their teams. Every Monday morning just before recess, she would announce the week's new head honchos.
I stood there among the team captain hopefuls and with the eagerness of would be lottery winners, we cringed each time someone else's name was called. The suspense nearly made us pass out or at the very least scream. There we were, 25 or so, jittery, energy filled 9 year olds awaiting what we deemed to be the chance of a lifetime.
"Team Captain," can't you just hear the angels singing at the sound of that title? It rivaled any we had known thus far. Even if you were a no-name before, if you were picked by Mrs. Wylie for team captain, you gained popularity faster than your mom could cook instant Cream of Wheat.
I was never chosen for Team Captain, so I settled for just being picked for a team. The fear of rejection was the same as any other kids, but looking back I can see why nobody truly wanted me on their teams at first. I was the skinny girl, the toe head, the "dumb blonde." I was awkward and as far as anyone in my class knew, not very good at sports, especially "boy" sports.
Or was I?
What they didn't know was that my dad or sisters played "catch" with me most every evening. My cousin Steve and Uncle Bobby taught me how to pitch. My neighborhood had our own ball "teams" and we played ball quite often after school until the street lights came on. My cousins and I played ball together at picnics and other outings and we really liked it.
Still, I was usually picked last or not at all. I never even got the chance to bat, until one fateful morning.
I can still remember that sunny day. I was finally up to the plate for the first time. The pitcher turned to his team and said "It's Claiborne, bring it in, she can't hit." Slowly the outfield players all walked in, expecting an easy out.
The pitch, the swing, the miss. No runs, no hits, no errors and I was afraid.
My palms were sweaty. I looked around as if I was looking for a way out or a source of confidence or something. Anything.
From the corner of my eye I thought saw her. Then, I turned my head and clearly saw my big sister, Peggy, watching from afar. I knew she was rooting for me. She nodded. I nodded back. Then another ball was released from the pitchers arm as though gravity didn't exist. I swung as hard as my frail arms could swing.
I hit a home run and the crowd went wild. I imagine that might've been how Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle felt when they hit their first homer. After that, I was picked first by a team captain, every week. As I rounded the bases that day, I could hear my big sister cheering, as she jumped up and down. Then the entire team began to cheer, "Claiborne, Claiborne, Claiborne!"
They're chanting my name! Hey, I'm not such a bad player after all!
Today, I'm the pitcher and I'm pitching to you, my reader. Not only am I the pitcher, my calling has made me "Team Captain", but I'm afraid this position hasn't afforded me much popularity. You don't become super popular when you're asking for other people's hard earned money. Yes, I am asking, but not for myself.
How can I cause you to catch a glimpse of my vision?
I know there are so many causes, worthy causes, out there in the world and no doubt all of you see pleas for donations each day in your social media newsfeeds.
But...tonight, I'm weeping at the thought of one more person dying of Lyme disease.
Can you hear these cries? I know of that which I speak because it almost took my life in 2005. I was fortunate enough to have insurance, and, believe me, what insurance covers is merely a drop in the bucket of what it costs to overcome Lyme.
The IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America) has guidelines on how they say doctors are supposed to treat Lyme. However, those guidelines are not only bogus, they are outdated. The guidelines haven't changed since the 80's. The IDSA, Big Pharma and insurance companies can't make money from Lyme when it is correctly treated. They say 3 weeks of antibiotics are enough, and that Late Stage Lyme doesn't exist. HOGWASH! When Lyme bacteria isn't caught early it multiplies within the body and over the months or years it becomes chronic and deadly.
It's taken me 10 years to get to the place I'm at today in regards to Lyme, and I still have to have treatment to stay alive. Three weeks worth of antibiotics would not have "cured" me, I may as well have eaten Skittles as medicine for that length of time.
Why does the IDSA do this, you ask? Because they love money more than people, so they instigated this evil to deny Lyme patients treatment and they target and shut down physicians that don't comply with their insane policies regarding Lyme treatment.
Since 2005, I have seen 7 different Lyme doctors, 5 of which were targeted and shut down by the "Big Wigs". They were threatened. "We'll pull your medical license," they were told. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the threats were more dangerous than that. When people love money that much, they don't care who lives or dies.
I'm a lot better than I was in 2005. I can walk now, I can travel, write, have fun and most of the time I can drive. Treatment days are still rough but I'm living and not dying.
I know some people that are not so fortunate. I want to help them, but I can't do it alone.
So, I'm doing what any self respecting Lyme Warrior would do. I'm starting a foundation to bring financial aid to those with Lyme who can't afford treatment. My husband Chuck and I mulled over the name and decided that everyone needs a little glimmer of hope to carry on when they're in the dark, thus was born the name The Little Glimmer Lyme Foundation. We're in the process of obtaining our 501 c3 status, but that doesn't mean we can't get crack-a-lackin' now. To learn more about what we do at Little Glimmer Lyme Foundation, please visit our website at www.littleglimmer.com
Please be patient with us. We're just getting started. Funds are low, but won't be low forever. If you know someone who needs help, please click the "contact" button on our website www.littleglimmer.com and shoot us an e-mail. We'll do what we can to help.
The bases are loaded, there are two outs and I've never been up to bat in this kind of World Series before. Please be like my big sister, and cheer me on. Please catch this vision and step up to the plate with me. I have to hit a home run with this, because it's not a game. It's life or death.
Together, we can win this.
In the past seven months I've said goodbye to eight people that I absolutely, positively love with all that I am. To say I miss them all horribly is an understatement of grand proportions. I'm still not sure how I get through from one day to the next without dying myself of utter brokenness. I'm always a little bit surprised at the end of the day when I'm still here.
My heart is crushed to the extent that I'm not quite sure if it still has the capacity to hold love. Whatever love that was in me feels dead or like it's leaking out through the cracks in my soul.
I've learned that grief can be absolutely exhausting. It seems to come in waves. Some are negotiable while others are impossible to navigate and make you feel as though they'll swallow you whole. They curl you up and wring you round and round like dishrags in a washing machine. Just when you catch a swift gasp of air, the undertow of it all sucks you right back down again. You're tired of swimming in it but grief doesn't care. It's relentless. It beats against you and wears you out. You're freezing cold. You're all alone, drifting wild. You're lost and it feels like your whole body is growing numb and you're about to sink. Your mind is cloudy and you're unsure of everything.
What's even real anymore?
How do I know if I'll ever be on solid ground again?
When will I be able to breathe again?
Then someone calls you or sends a note.
Someone holds you in an embrace that seems to press the broken pieces of your being back together like clay.
A friend brings a meal and sits with you for a while.
The comfort that exists within the love of real friends enters in like a beam of sunlight after the hurricane. Love is the light house in the dark, dismal abyss of emotional turmoil. Love comes in waves, too, but these waves won't destroy you.
Love throws you a lifeline and gives your soul CPR. My lungs can expand again. My heart is beating. Love is healing and although it doesn't take away all of the pain, it stands beside you, enabling you to see a little glimmer of light and feel something else, anything else, besides sorrow. My eyes are opened once again to the possibility of joy and my spirit is refreshed with an internal knowing that there really is something more to this life than grief.
I'm going to make it.
One step, another step...and yet another baby step. I'm doing it. I'm going forward. It hurts like hell but I'm coming out of this darkness. I see one thin ray of hope and I will hold onto it.
All is not lost.
Please never underestimate a simple act of kindness. A touch, a hug, a kiss on the cheek. A meal, a card, a song, or simply standing in silence with the one who is grieving is quite possibly the best gift you can ever give to another human soul.
Knowing that my tribe knows me so well and I don't have to offer any explanations or apologies for my tousled emotions, is a gift so divine.
I may not be done grieving for quite some time, but I am determined to untangle myself from this dark web of sorrow and I will keep living, not just existing.
I am quite sure I have my God, my family, and my friends to thank for that.
I'm so grateful.
I'm inside a tube.
I'm inside a big, white, hollow tube thingy.
I have a mask over my face that makes me look like a linebacker. They gave me music to listen to via earplugs that is supposed to help lessen the deafening noise of this machine. It seems that somewhere in the distance I can hear Sweet Home Alabama under the banging, clanging and beeping, but barely.
My body is inside of a big, white, hollow tube because they are looking for the reason or reasons why I've been passing out, having seizures, and generally feeling like everything around me is spinning or shifting nearly all of the time.
It's really loud in here and these earplugs aren't all that and a bag of chips. And my face itches. Of course it itches when I'm not allowed to scratch it.
A tumor could be in my head? I do not need another health issue, God. I mean, you know this, right? Lyme is quite enough. I'm sorry, God, I don't mean to be sassy or make demands on you, but, seriously? Oh God, I know that you're kind and I know, that you know, that I've been through the mother of all wringers over the past 10 years. Could you please let this not be a tumor?
These past few months of my life have contained days upon days of one medical test after another. I swear the phlebotomists are secretly vampires. There's no way they need that much of my blood for these tests. Yep, vampires. Blood sucking villains that would put Edward, Bella and the entire cast of Twilight to shame.
Today, laying inside this claustrophobic noise machine, I still don't have all of the results yet. What I do know according the results that I do have, is that 10 years after the initial diagnosis of late stage Lyme Disease, I am still no better. I have not advanced, in fact, I am worse off than when I began the very first treatment. Lyme has invaded and I am still at war with this monster.
But, I fought so hard! I've done everything I was supposed to do! I was supposed to be better by now, dammit!
Dear God, I'm sorry for the swear word, but, it seems to me that there's just no other word that will do. Lyme is a damned awful disease from the pit of hell.
I have not advanced.
Not. One. Little. Bit.
Doctors have managed to keep me alive and that's about it.
Alive. Alive to do more than just feel physical pain and limitations all of the time, right? Alive...to actually live, right?
Just wait one little minute here! How am I supposed to plan absolutely anything in my life when I don't know if I'll be alive next week or not?
But...wait a sec. None of us knows what tomorrow might bring. I could die today or on my 100th birthday.
It's good when you have a sense of where you're headed on life's journey, but it's not imperative.
What? You've gotta be kidding me!
Abraham had no idea where God was leading him, but at the command of God, he got up and went.
Hebrews 11:8 (NAS) By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.
We walk by faith, not by sight. If we could see ahead of time every step we were to make, we would have no need of faith in God or ourselves at all. God is the only one who sees the entire journey, and we are not required to see every step we are to take, only to take them.
It's important to note that when Abraham went to where he was called to go, that not everyone he knew went with him. Not everyone could because not everyone had the same call on their lives that Abraham did.
Get this clear in your thinking: Where you are called to go, not everyone can go with you. Your journey, your cadence is just that; Yours.
It's not that your cadence is better than anyone else's or that walking it makes you a better person than anyone else is. It's just different. All of us are on different journeys in this life and sometimes, to get to where we are going, we have to leave certain things and certain people behind. It doesn't mean we don't love and care for those people. We do. It just means they can't tag along on the cadence to which you are intimately called to walk. Certain activities can't tag along, either.
Certain people and certain activities just do not belong on your journey. Let them be and follow your own calling towards your own destiny.
Certain activities, attitudes and habits have to be taken off so to speak, like an old coat whose fabric has lost it's weave and buttons, and thus, it's warmth and usefulness. Don't hesitate to remove the old garments that are worn thin. You may have gotten used to the old ways, comfortable in them. The new seems odd to you, but the new is exactly what you need.
The newness, embrace it all, put it on like a new outfit, even if it seems odd to you at first. You will find that it's necessary and it will bring color and function to the stark, dull places in your journey.
Your journey is as unique as you are and the difficulties you encounter along the way have the capacity to connect you with other people that you would never have been connected with otherwise. Some of these connections serve purposes that haven't even crossed your mind yet. Some people needed you to cross their path, and you need them just as much.
So you don't know where this journey will ultimately lead you? Neither does anyone else, but you can't go backwards and you can't stand still for too long or you risk getting stuck.
Leave the baggage behind. Let go of everything that impedes your progress.
I'm letting go of the doubt, the fear, the complaining. I'm going forward. I will keep fighting, no matter what.
Go forward, one step at a time, even if you don't know where you're going. Just take one step, then another, then another.
See? You're making progress already.