Thursday, February 2, 2017

Do You Want a Miracle or a Mess?


Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.    - Matthew 7:7-8 KJV

We received terrifying news in March 2012. Steve couldn't breathe well. After  a lung biopsy, the doctor looked us square in the eyes without any compassion and bluntly said "You've got two to five years". Usually, my response would have been something ridiculous like "Two to five years to what? Pay off my car? Make a million dollars? Retire?". But I knew crazy questions were not going to hide the evidence Steve's biopsy revealed; the diagnosis of a deadly form of lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis.

According to the study “Clinical Course and Prediction of Survival in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis,” median survival of patients who suffer from pulmonary fibrosis is 2.5 years, but some patients live much longer than that. The most common cause of death among patients is respiratory failure. 

God blessed me with some tenacity for a reason! Battling a birth defect for 48 years, me and adversity are tight. Close companions. I have to admit hearing the prognosis I was shaken. Remember my words in October about Milisende?  I can never promise an "unstirred" Tammy but I always promise to seek to discover Christ, my rock and salvation. The One who stills my fears during my fiercest Fear Whisperer. I began to ask, seek and knock ferociously concerning Steve's disease once I relocated my Anchor and He steadied my boat upright.

The past five years have been a tremendous journey with many ups and then downs and then ups again. Happiness one day and a nauseating sickness in the depths of my soul the next day. I won't even attempt to detail the entire process but I MUST share with you what happened yesterday which I believe started mid-December 2015.

I'm a member of a facebook group whose members have Antisynthetase Syndrome (which caused his pf) like Steve. I befriended one of the admins, really nice guy who was very willing to discuss Steve's medicines and treatment with me. He shared his journey giving me proven tips and advice. His suggestion that rang a bell with me was to obtain "brand" prescriptions for Steve instead of generic. I had previous experience with taking a brand drug (hormone) that worked for me but the generic did not. In fact, this happened to me twice and currently the medicine I use has to be from a certain manufacturer. The supposedly same medicine in the same strength does not have the same effect. I got Steve the brand medicine!

Fast forward to September 2016. Steve had been taking the brand medicine for eight months. His oxygen saturation tests at his doctor visit in September showed improvement. The improvement was so vast, the doctor asked if he still wanted the oxygen. Steve opted for it because he felt breathless.

Steve's insurance changed in September 2016. I called the oxygen company to notify them of the change. They were unconcerned until January 2017 when our balance grew to over $500 due to the insurance change.  Insurance requires a 6-minute walk test without oxygen and with oxygen to approve the charges. Remember the improvement in Steve's oxygen saturation in September? Yesterday, GOD COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED STEVE AND ME!!!

Steve's oxygen saturation during a 6-minute walk did not go below 88%! 87% is the magic number to get oxygen approved. After the test, the doctor came out and spoke with us. "Good News!" he said. Your test today shows YOU DO NOT NEED OXYGEN! Are you willing to call Apria and ask them to come get their bottles? Steve apprehensively said yes. I said aloud "Praise Jesus!".

We are both still a bit rattled but so very thankful to a God who loves and cares for us. Steve is still disabled. He still has a severe lung disease but my oh my, what progress! What a miracle that I give our Heavenly Father all the glory for. Thank you so much for all your prayers and please don't stop interceding on Steve's behalf. Our God is might to save in every way! Now, we have a new challenge that I know God will provide. The new insurance won't pay for the brand medicine. The cost? $1400 a month. That's like nothing for Jesus! Please join us in praying for a quick solution as he's been taking the generic now for a month. These chemo meds take at least eight months to begin working or not working.

We want miracles! Would the walls of Jericho fell if the people had marched around 6 times or 8 times when God said 7? Would Gideon have been defeated if he had not used the men God made lap like a dog? Did David need more than one stone to kill Goliath? I could go on and on with the victories God provides his children. If we want miracles and not a mess, ask and receive, seek and find, knock and walk through God's open glorious door! 

Seeking miracles,
The Happy Handicap

The Fear Whisperer


Millisende Isabella Epperson
September 30, 2016
5 lb. 13 oz.

My beautiful second grand girl came to see us twelve short days ago. She's a tiny, perfect masterpiece! Her big sister Lisette loves her so much! We are all so excited God trusts us to care for her. She made me a granmom twice but she ultimately belongs to him. I always think I can't possibly love more deeply and then God shows me I can. This article shares a battle I experienced during the gestation of Millisende.

"Christ-followers contract malaria, bury children, and battle addictions, and, as a result, face fears. It’s not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It’s whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ." - M. Lucado

This quote pretty much sums up my life! Born with a devastating deformity of both feet, I would be lying if I told you I don't fear. I do. Quite a lot. I'm sure my fears don't outnumber yours, mine are just specific to me and yours are specific to you. I feared having a genetic repeat of my deformity when planning for my children. I harbored that same fear with the births of my two granddaughters also. The devil and the doctors caused me to fear with Millisende.

I accompanied Sydnee to her gender reveal appointment. It was a magical day in May as I sat in my car awaiting Syd's arrival at the doctor's office. As usual, I was praying asking God for health and wellness for this baby. I felt confident because my girls and my first granddaughter Lisette are perfect. I finished my prayer thanking God for his many blessings and a voice spoke to me saying "There are worse things than two toes." I said aloud "WHAT?" The speaker said it again. There are worse things than two toes. I was so scared, I couldn't discern who said it. Had God just told me this baby would have problems? I was shaken. Normally, I use God's word to quiet my fears but not today.

After the ultrasound, we needed to buy more pink!  Our happiness was interrupted when the OB doctor informed us of a condition called single umbilical cord (SUC). Millisende had one. Please click the link to read an in-depth explanation. The short version is a "normal" umbilical has one vein and two arteries for food and waste. Milisende's had one vein and one artery which may cause complications. Sydnee began to cry. My head was whirling at his words and I wondered if they noticed my heart on the floor. An appointment was made with a high risk doctor (HRDr).

We all tried to be brave. I'd never heard of such a condition, nor had anyone else I told. Thankfully and if I'd thought about it, God knew everything about SUC. I listened to the HRDr as he explained what could go wrong. He contradicted himself, trying to console us, cooing that these things usually never happen. One week the doc would say she is fine. The next week he'd indicate maybe we should be worried. All the while, I had the words "There are worse things than two toes" ringing in my ears, extremely loudly from an undetermined voice. Roller coasters make me puke and I wanted off of this one.

Now y'all are probably thinking why doesn't Tammy know this is the work of the devil? She's overcome so much. She's strong. She believes God. She writes inspiring news. I'm sharing my experience with you to hopefully help you from falling into the same snare. The devil knew my weakness and he used it against me. And, I let him. I entertained too many of his thoughts without stopping to inspect what he was saying. My mind was like a house of horrors with clowns laughing in my face and mirror images creating confusion. If I had stopped the tilt-a-whirl, I would have immediately recognized the words were not God's. But I didn't. I wallowed.

I tried to remain positive for my family. I hope they never saw my fear although God knew how I was wrangling with the devil. Never engage the devil. My inferior human hands can't fight the enemy and win. Jesus is victorious, allow him duke it out with the devil. My deliverance from my fear came early in the morning about two weeks before Milisende was born. I was crying out to God, acknowledging my fearfulness, asking him to help me. My fear whisperer tenderly reminded me "I am not the author of confusion. I do not cause my children to fear." Absolutely! For sure! You are so right Jesus! Joy and confidence flooded my being.  My heart understood his truthful words. And, he didn't have to say it but once! God won't put me on a roller coaster for fun, especially if it makes me sick! So, as Max Lucado said, "It's not the absence of storms that sets us apart. It's whom we discover in the storm: an unstirred Christ."

I can never promise an "unstirred" Tammy but I can always seek to discover Christ, my rock and salvation. The One who stills my fears during my fiercest Fear Whisperer.

God tames my fear,
The Happy Handicap

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Back to the Basics

My favorite place is in a church. I anxiously await each church visit longing for the security, warmth and peace that envelops me like a warm blanket on a cold day.  Could certainly use that today with the temps at 14 degrees feeling like 7! My home church, First Baptist Chatsworth, is a beautiful building full of beautiful people who love on me and my family as if we are precious jewels. It is no wonder I started my 2017 at Sunday Worship. Will Linginfelter didn't disappoint. He inspired me through God's Word to get back to the basics. The following is my interpretation of his message: 

What do you think of when you hear "Back to the Basics"?

Do you think of a basic wardrobe? I would say basic clothes include black pants or skirt, khaki pants, something navy, a must-have white shirt and who doesn't own a pair of black shoes that goes with everything (I own four basic pairs of white Pumas with different colored stripes that I wear with just about everything). The key to making a basic wardrobe work for your style is the ability to mix and match.

The best basic biscuit recipe I've ever eaten or cooked was given to me by my friend Tony. The recipe has three basic ingredients; flour, butter and buttermilk. He says to knead and roll the dough precisely six times for the best biscuit. The other day I had an idea to knead the dough only once and see what happens. The biscuits didn't rise as high or taste as good. For best results, follow the recipe!

If asked what pops into your head when you hear the word basic, you might say reading, writing and arithmetic or the abc's. Army Basic Training is what I see in my mind. Everyone knows before you become a soldier, you must complete ten weeks of grueling combat and mental training. Many enlistees do not complete the course while others finish and exemplify the branch's slogan "Be All You Can Be!"

Our world accepts and encourages a lot of basics. Some basics are good, some bad, some are forgotten or worse, never known. The Bible explains the basic gospel in John 3:16. What Christian cannot recite the verse by heart? God's Word will never allow us to forget his gift to humanity for everlasting life. God's love for us is the basis for his gift. Jesus is the foundation of Christianity. The basic fact is you must believe in him.

After you become a Christian, what ARE the basics? The Bible has 66 books with 1189 chapters. So how you pick out the simple basics? Matthew 22:37-39 states Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' Two basic commandments that encompasses the entire gospel.

The basic wardrobe of Christianity is love. Can others see you have it on? Do you wear it? The gospel doesn't require a mix and match ability but a daily putting on of the body of Christ. The basic recipe of Christianity is love. Do you prepare it, eat it and serve it to others? For best results, you'll need three ingredients; The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. The basic training of Christianity is love. Are you trained? Staying the course as a soldier in God's army takes more than ten weeks, it requires a lifetime of devotion and spiritual acuteness. There are enemies on every hand. Loving your neighbor as yourself WILL BE GRUELING at times. But, don't you want to be all you can be, all that Christ wants you to be? Our slogan - "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith"!

Sometimes we have to look at where we came from to get to where we're going. This new year, let's all get back to the basics that rewarded us salvation and freedom. Get back to our first love, Jesus.

Determined to return,
The Happy Handicap

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Walking Dead Reaches Out

Pastor Allan Taylor with Lifeway Christian Resources is a guru on Sunday School. He preached at my church this past Sunday. It was an eye opening depiction of just how important Sunday School is to the church and the believer. I want to share a few of his points that I found very inspiring:
  • Sunday School is for reaching people and teaching people. What? I've never considered Sunday School as the gateway to the church. However, after listening to him, it started to make sense to me that lost people are oftentimes confused or don't understand preaching (unless the Spirit reveals it to them). The Bible is like reading a foreign language and worship might be equated to going to a concert to listen to someone you have no idea what they sing. I wouldn't attend a concert like that, would you? Let's commit to get someone to Sunday School so they can learn about Jesus.
  • Are you on mission? The Great Commission to reach people for Christ. Pastor Taylor asked if we were on mission. I thought about it and wondered, Am I? Then he said, "If you don't have a phone number, email or address of someone you're trying to reach, right now, for Christ, you're out of God's will." OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! Did someone make a voodoo doll of me and start sticking my heart? It feels like it! I pray for people but how often do I call, text, message, email or even visit someone to really REACH them? Answer = not a lot.
  • Births vs. Deaths. Pastor Allan shared with us God's reproductive plan for the earth and his people in Genesis. Plants and animals are to reproduce after their own kind. The trees we see today are not originals to the Garden of Eden, they have survived due to seed and the reproduction of life. Same theory is true for animals and humans. We all know what happens if death rate exceeds birth rate, extinction. Statistically, the church is burying more Christians than we are birthing. Pretty soon at the rate we're experiencing, Christians will be extinct. That, my friends, is an eye-opening, heart-wrenching statement. 
The Walking Dead must have been a crazy episode this week. Everyone on Facebook was talking about it. I don't watch the show. I cannot listen to that raspy breathing sound the zombies make. I can relate to the zombies though. Everyone of us are "The Walking Dead" until we accept Jesus and our souls are born again to new life. Luke 20:38 says For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. I shutter to think the world might envision a sign like the picture above on our church doors; afraid to come inside because the people trying to grab at them and reach them are dead. The saved look much like the unsaved anymore. On the outside, we may appear alike but on the inside, one thing separates us, the saving grace of Jesus Christ. 
Wanna come to Sunday School,
The Happy Handicap

Thursday, September 29, 2016

We're a Basket Case

apple basket
Happy Fall Y'all! Good news...this article is not about a basket but I'm glad to be a basket case. Let me explain. This past Sunday, Sloane and I taught Little K at church. Here I am again, in a room full of Pre-K and kindergarten boys! Go figure. :)

I asked the young guys to share a Bible story. Urban raised his hand and said "Noah and the Ark". Good answer! I received some other "stories" some from the Bible and some made-up just to give an answer. Then they asked me for a Bible story. Moses immediately came to my mind. I was surprised that many of them couldn't relate the story of Moses to me. They also seemed perplexed that a child was put into a "basket" and sent down the river alone. I quickly shared the miracle that happened to Moses being raised by his mother and then the Pharaoh's daughter. As I was telling the story, I saw some grown-up things about the Moses story I never noticed before.

We are the same "basket case" as Moses. Moses was born a commoner just like us. He was adopted by a King. We are adopted by the King of Kings! Afterwards, Moses was chosen by God to "free the people". We are chosen to share the gospel so people may be freed by the saving grace of Jesus. Romans 8:15 says "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." The children of Israel were blessed to have a boy from a basket to be their escape from bondage. We are blessed to have a boy born in a manger to be our Savior! Please read the book of Exodus and email me with how the story speaks to you.

Bible stories, as we call them, aren't just for kids anymore...

Woven by Him,
The Happy Handicap