Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reminiscing 2015

I started off 2015 asking questions: who am I? What do I like? What don't I like? What has Lyme changed in me and who is the real me? 

I feel like over the past 12 months I've learned more about myself. I learned my likes and dislikes. I learned who I play well with and who I clash with. I learned who I really am, not who Lyme created me to be.  

I'm loud and energetic. I used to try and cover those up because I thought to be a "good Christian woman" I had to be gentle and quiet and submissive. And yes those things are good to an extent, but they aren't good when you are covering up your real self. I'm passionate and opinionated. I have feelings about things and I like to share those. I used to think I was a leader by default(because I had to be), but that's not true. I'm a leader. And I love being a leader. I'm also a dreamer. Boy, am I a dreamer. I speak my mind. Maybe you can call me slightly rebellious and untamed- and if you did, I'd like that. I'm an introvert. My favorite time of the day is when I take my detox bath. Why? Because I'm alone. I'm vulnerable. I'm a sharer. I feel that if we keep things silent that robs people from getting physical, mental and emotional healing. 

I learned this year that people are not always going to like me. And that's okay! My job is not to please anyone. My job is to be loved by Jesus, love myself, and love others. And if those three things are happening then your opinion of me won't rock my world. I think I allowed people's opinions of me to change me. I had to learn the real me, then decide that I totally and completely love and accept myself. Now, people can think what they want, God has my back and He adores me. 

I learned that that no matter what happens around me my world doesn't change. I'm still liked and loved by Jesus. And nothing that happens will stop God's great plans for my life. No matter the tension, broken relationships, gossip, heated discussions, or difference of opinions my world has not changed. I don't need to carry any of that. I carry peace because I walk with the Prince of peace. I love myself because God loves me, and in turn I can love others. Surrendering is part of being a Christ follower. It doesn't make you weak to let all that go, it makes you strong because you are putting it in the hands of a God who can actually redeem it. 

I also learned that allowing other people's crazy to make me crazy is CRAZY! When people talk bad about you behind your back but never seek the truth from you- that's crazy. When people lie to you and do everything they can to cover their story- that's crazy. When people hate you for something that's out of your control- that's crazy! Why do we allow crazy to make us crazy? I have a sound mind. I walk with peace. I'm loved by Jesus. Crazy no longer makes me crazy. 

Being married, having kids, college degrees, and high paying jobs doesn't make you more than people without those things. God is the same good when you're single, married, with kids and holding a college degree. It's not a stepping stool of the mature. Someone with all those things may be more immature than someone without those things. You aren't doing something right so you get kids, marriage and a good job. No. It doesn't work that way. Don't let anyone make you feel less than because you don't have what they have. People need your consent to make you feel a certain way- don't give it to them. 

I'll share one more thing I learned with you (there's tons, but I'm trying to pick my favorites). 

Fear is an illusion. Fear of people, the future, Lyme Disease and coinfections is an illusion. When you're little you're scared of monsters under your bed. When you get older you realize that you had a fear of something that doesn't exist. An illusion. I don't know what my future looks like with missions, babies, and Lyme but I know who olds my future. The King of kings and Lord of lords. There is no fear because I am a child of God. 

My favorite parts of 2015:
- Dance party to celebrate my health 
- Two new tattoos (yay for gift cards!) 
- Tons of great mountain adventures
- Moving out and feeling married again
- At one point being in remission of all three bacterias (1 stayed in remission, 2 didn't)
- Being able to do the incline 
- Getting the sweetest golden retriever puppy 
- A trip to Minnesota
- A trip to Pennsylvania
- A trip to California 
- Conquering a Spartan race
-  Letting go of baggage I was carrying for far too long 
- Rekindling the fire of old dreams 

Here's to a new year. Here's to 2016. Here's to health, love and peace. Here's to laughter and sweet memories. Here's to change and transformation. Here's to good books and maybe my own. Here's to dancing and good food. Here's to mountain tops and valleys. Here's to adventures. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Let's Be Vulnerable

Let me be real with you why I'm real with you. 

Can we all agree that life is messy, raw and a little dirty (either mud dirt that looks gross, or Ugandan red dirt that makes you feel like a warrior princess)? We've all walked through seasons of life that we'd rather forget. We've all been angry, upset, frustrated, and have cried. ALL OF US! 

Lately I've been getting frustrated by fake people. People that put on a mask and act like their life is all butterflies and daisies. The ones you feel embarrassed of telling you had a hard time with a Pinterest project because they always get it right . The ones who always say God is good, not in a genuine way, but in a way that they're trying to prove it to themselves.  The ones that you feel you can never get a real, heartfelt answer from. 

Can we be honest for 2 seconds... We all have skeletons in our closet. Not even skeletons, but things we know others would judge us for. No one. And I mean no one is perfect. Not now and not ever. 

And I'm not just talking about sins. I'm talking about that movie you saw that you didn't want to tag on Facebook. It was funny but people would judge you for filling your mind with garbage. Or how long you watched Netflix for last night because, instead, you should have been sleeping or reading the Bible. Or how you're really doing. Because your heart is mad at God because He should have healed your mom, but people will judge you for saying that cause you should be looking for the blessing in disguise. 

We fear people judging us and coming up with their own conclusions about who we "really" are. So we say things like "yeah, I drank too much last night, but I've never done that before." "I didn't work out this week, but I normally go to the gym everyday." "Life is really hard right now, but God is good." "I ate Taco Bell for lunch, but I didn't have time to go anywhere else and I never eat there." 

Why do we do this?! Why are we so concerned about people drawing their own conclusions? About people judging us? Why are we worried we won't look like perfect Christians who are so intuned with Jesus that we do nothing wrong? 

Newsflash! None of us have the exact same convictions, stories, sins, or passions. 

On Facebook they have a spot where you can see what you've posted on this day in the years past. A couple weeks ago I was tagged in a note back in High School. The kind of note where if you comment the person had to post their favorite memory with you, a song that reminds you of them and what they'd change about you. I, because I had little self worth, commented. The person replied with some fun things that made me smile and finished saying I wasn't very genuine and that I was fake. 

Ouch! But true. I kept my life drama to myself and my best friend. I did the whole life sucks but God is good thing. I wore a thick foundation mask to make it look like Jesus and I were as tight as leggings. I was concerned if I looked less than perfect people wouldn't like me, or let me lead or trust me. Can you say people pleaser? 

Then I found out I had Lyme Disease and cos. My mental and physical state were attacked. I was in physical pain and dealing with rage, depression, and anxiety. I was jobless and not in school. I felt like an embarrassed loser. I could either justify every move I made, or be real about it all. I soon realized people deal with a lot of the same issues. I'm not the first to walk through X, Y, or Z and I'm not the last. I'm led to believe that if I'm less than what I've built in my head I should be, then people are going to judge me and think less of me. 

Let's call that what it is: crap! When we are so concerned with how others will view us we are missing out on our healing and helping others get healed. Not just sin healing, but physical, mental and spiritual. If you're open to talking about that awkward medical issue then others can seek a doctor. If you're open with talking about how you love Jesus and cuss a little then you open yourself to talking with people you may not have before. When you're open about your diet, relationships, hardships, weaknesses, and tired moments you're opening yourself up to being vulnerable which builds friendships. 

Let's stop this pathetic game with ourselfs and others. If you eat cheeseburgers, it's okay, you're not the first or the last. If you are hurting, its okay, others are hurting too. And if you are fantastic at crafts and have lovely children that's okay too! Let's stop sharing things and finishing it up with a but. People are going to judge you if you're not what they think perfect is and they'll judge you if you are perfect. So you be you! Mud, Ugandan dirt, cheeseburgers, wine, and all! 

Being vulnerable makes others vulnerable which leads to the best conversations. 

So why am I vulnerable and raw? Why do I share the ugly parts of my Lyme journey? Why do I ask hard questions? Because I firmly believe healing comes in the most vulnerable of places. Because the deeper life takes you the deeper you get with Jesus. Because I know people are going to judge me either way and I will never live up to the whole world's expectations. And because I care more about people's hearts than their actions.


Friday, December 11, 2015

To Whom It May Concern

To any of you who have interacted with me in the past 1 1/2 weeks, 

Please excuse my intense and lack of awareness behavior.  That medicine I was telling you about a couple blogs ago (for babesia that can cause crazy side affects) may have caused some neurological toxicity. 

I did two out of three rounds. In between the two rounds I felt off, kind of like a thick cloud was covering my brain. I felt like my brain was not connecting to my body. Like a lack of awareness and ability to connect to the world. I'm pretty sure I zoned out more in that week then all the times in my life. I walked around with a permanent stoned look. Let's call this "marijuana phase". 

Then I did round two and the morning after those three days I started acting crazy. We will call this "cocaine phase".  My insides are actually vibrating. Okay, maybe not actually vibrating, but that's how it feels. I feel like I'm in a constant fight or flight mode. Everything is fighting words. My life motto right now is: I love Jesus, but I could punch a ho. I'm paranoid, panicked, depressed... 

I called my Dr right away and he encouraged me to stop this medication pronto. Good call doc, good call. 

All this to say. If you have seen, heard, or been near me as of late, please don't judge me. I'm aware of the fact that I'm loud and intense and crazy... But I'm not crazy, this medication is crazy. 

The hope was for this medicine to eradicate babesia. Please pray for wisdom for my Dr for a next step. And please pray this gets out of my system quickly. 

I understand this post is intense and raw. But I started this blog to be real about my Lyme healing journey. Sometimes this journey has "but God" moments and silver lining and humor. And sometimes it has high hopes meds that have serious side effects. Lyme Disease is raw and intense. I am a Lyme warrior. This is my story. 

~ There is triumph in Your presence. Healing in Your peace. So I will lift my voice proclaiming victory. (High Above It All) 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Letter To Myself

Dear 16 year old Bekah,

When I turned 25 a few days ago I thought I owed you an apology. Who you think you'll become and where you think you'll be doesn't happen. Actually, life looks nothing like you think it will. And I mean nothing. You don't live in NYC. You aren't single living with a random tribe in Uganda with lots of orphans playing around you. You didn't get your Bachelor's degree. You're not Mother Theresa. There's no world peace. 

You're married. You got married at 21 and your husband at 19 (I prefer to say 2 weeks shy of 20, otherwise, it sounds like you marry a teenager...). I'm sure you're laughing right now because you swore up and down you'd never get married, and if you did get married there would be honeymoon babies. There were no honeymoon babies. Actually, you're 3 1/2 years married and there are still no babies. And, for the most part, you're okay with that. 

You live in Colorado Springs. Yup, 30 minuets from your parents. You actually lived with them for 17 months during the first three years of marriage. In your old bedroom... 

You got your Associates Degree and didn't go back to college after that. Your degree was going to be in Political Science. You read that right. You like politics. The tension, fighting, research to "prove" your point. You love it! You were going to go to school for youth ministry, but you changed degree after Intro to Political Science. 

You've got no babies, but you have a puppy and a cat... In an apartment. So it's like you're building roots, but also not. 

I'm sure you're feeling confused and slightly depressed about all that. But you know what? Getting to 25 is God's absolute grace on your life. You see, 4 months after you get married your health starts to crumble. You quit your job at church and use every last piece of energy you have to finish two semesters of college. And I mean every. last. ounce. of. energy. 

You saw a specialist, had a test done, or ended up in ER/urgent care 3-5 times a week for 4 months. After almost a year of searching for the answer to all the health problems you've had since you were born, we found out it's Chronic Lyme Disease and 2 other coinfections. 

Even though you've been told you're crazy numerous times and you feel crazy- there is an answer to every single health problem you've ever had. 

Chronic Lyme Disease. It's crazy. You are not crazy. 

And treatment is nasty. You end up in a wheelchair, with a PICC Line, infusing 8-10 hours a day. It gets rough there for a while. Like at one point your Dr will tell you he's glad you made it and is a little surprised that you did. 

But Rebekah, you made it. I made it. We make it. On your 25th birthday you'll still be fighting 2 coinfections, but, you're out of the wheelchair, PICC is out, you can drive, walk, dance, and have a sound mind. 

And you like you're life. No, it looks NOTHING how you want it to look, but it's a good life. 
You're married to the most outstanding man on planet earth. I swear no one else could have walked though hell with you. 
You are part of a beautiful young adult small group. You get to be part of their lives and you get to hear raw stories. 
You have a cozy apartment that people come over for game night, dinner and to just sit on your couch and cry. 
And you have friends who adore you. Friends that are like family. They tell you you're pretty on sick days and go on adventures with you on healthy days. They pray over you constantly. They're your people. You do have some heartbreaks with some friendships, but Rebekah, you'll be okay. Enjoy the friends you have currently in your life and enjoy the memories when friendship seasons end. 

I wish I learned this sooner: Stop trying to be someone you're not. You aren't gentle, quiet and submissive. You're fiesty. You love big and intensely. You have a voice and God gave you a loud voice for a reason. You have things of worth to say. Some people won't like this about you, but you keep on being you. Don't let people steal your joy or voice. Don't let the "I hate Rebekah Gibson" club get you down (watch Friends and laugh). People are mean and jealous and hurt. Love them anyway. 

So no, by the time you turn 25 you won't be single in a random part of the world. You won't have finished your Bachelor's degree. You'll be very unsuccessful to the world's standards. But you'll be exactly where God wants you to be. The best place to be. Moving mountains in Colorado Springs. 

Don't wait till you move there or get that job or finish that degree. Move mountains now. In the valleys and the mountain tops give life all you can. 

On October 2, 2014 worship Jesus. Worship Him with everything you have because He is good. And though that weekend will be scary, you're going to make it. That'll be the weekend you beat death. Dance on the grave. Then enjoy every ounce of life you are blessed to get. 

I'm glad life looks nothing like you want. Cause it's better than you could dream. 

And girl, start using coconut oil. As moisturizer and lotion and conditioner. Seriously, your face will thank you ;)  

Love, You at 25

~ Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to slide across
the finish line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, and shouting GERONIMO. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

God Doesn't Waste Pain

I HATE Lyme Disease and coinfections. 

Positive: Still no Borellia (that's the Lyme disease bacteria) showing up in my body!
Negative: Babesia (that's the malaria type bacteria) still active and bartonella (hurts my joints and bottoms of my feet and causes anxiety/depression/mood swings) came back. 

So, obviously, I'm back on treatment for bartonella and changed protocol for babesia. Being back on meds for bartonella has helped those symptoms lesson a little. My LLMD perscribed me the strongest malaria medicine he can to kill babesia. He said he held off on prescribing it because three things could happen. Either I feel fantastic the morning after taking it, or I end up in the hospital due to horrible side effects and Herx or somewhere in the middle. He is having me start it slow as well. It's a 3 day on 7 day off protocol. I finished my first round Sunday and I'm herxing (when your body is having a die-off and you feel sicker). It's not too horrible but I also didn't wake up healed. 

Interesting news: I've been complaining A LOT about back pain. My chiropractor did some X-rays and it looks like there's arthritis in the top of my spine and rotation in the bottom of my spine. Fun I got an answer for that mess. Not so fun trying to strengthen it is more miserable than the pain itself. I keep telling myself the end result will outweigh the current pain... H.O.P.E. Hold on, pain ends. 

I also got a dog... Please meet Hamilton...

Let me explain... 
I deal with a lot of anxiety. Like to the point were most the reasons I'm anxious are completely irrational. I know they are irrational. I'll be sitting in the couch sobbing, hyperventilating and begging Tanner to not leave me alone. He'll ask what's wrong. And I won't have a reason. Nothing. I have no idea why I'm so crippled by fear. All is well with my world, but my brain makes no sense. I blame bartonella and babesia. 

What does that have to do with Hamilton? Well, he's going to be trained to be an emotional support dog. He's going to help me get fully and completely healthy. Not just with anxiety but also with back pain. My back feels better when I'm standing and moving it, however, herxing feels better when I'm curled in a ball. Being curled in a ball makes my back worse, but moving uses spoons I don't have. But I need to strengthen my body to get healed... This dog is helping me through that process. He's getting me up and moving and still time to rest. 

He's hardwork, but I know the end result will outweigh the sleepless nights, smell of bitterapple everywhere, and pieces of my carpet in his mouth. 

There's an update about me :) 

I was reminded last week that God NEVER wastes pain. 
I got a phone call from someone who's husband has Lyme Disease and he's tired of fighting the battle. She's tired of seeing him in pain and sick. They feel hopeless and alone. No one gets it. They don't know what their future looks like. Doctors can't promise them anything. 

She called me asking for hope. What could I give her? What could I say to her? I'm not 100% better, treatment was hell and isn't over yet, and I don't know what my future holds with Lyme. Maybe she should talk to someone who is cured. Someone who's in remission. Someone who didn't have a PICC line, bedridden and in a wheelchair... 

Was bedridden, with a PICC line, pushed around in a wheelchair. Was. Meaning past. Meaning I'm not anymore. 

So I sat on the phone with a stranger and we cried. We cried for the caregivers of Lymies. We cried for Lyme warriors who battle day in and day out. We cried for her. We cried for me. We cried. 

I told her the things that have kept me afloat. I resolved a few facts when all this first started. Things that I refused to lose sight of. 
1. God is good. I refuse to believe anything less than God is good. My current health situation does not take away from His goodness. My physical state does not change God's eternal glory. He is good. God is nothing less than good. 
2. Jesus loves me. His love is gentle and kind and pure. His thoughts towards me are lovely. I'm the apple of His eye. He hates seeing me in pain more than I hate being in pain. He adores me. 
3. My theology may have shaken but my foundation never will. I don't understand healing. How or when or why it works in some cases but not others. But I have resolved to believe that God is Healer. He may not be Healer how I want him to be, but, He is Healer. 
4. I won't let my thoughts go anywhere less than victory and complete healing. All the "what if's" and uncertainty are not welcomed. Negativity doesn't win battles. Relentless faith does. 

I read an article about how gratitude doesn't heal grief. And I completely agree with not telling someone how to heal. Your journey is your journey. Their journey is their journey. And the beautiful part is neither look the same. 
But I had to disagree a little because finding the silver lining in things is what has gotten me through my hell. Writing my list of things I'm grateful for. Reminding my heart there is still beauty in the world. 5. I do my hardest at finding the something beautifuls. The silver linings. The hope. 

This is my story. Where there was no way  God made a way. God met me in my deepest pit. And though this season isn't over, it one day will be. And none of this will be a waste. I am a Lyme warrior. And my fellow Lyme warriors are not alone. This is our story. 

~ "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Cor 4:16-18