Monday, March 31, 2014

uncommon joy



Life is hard. Life is broken. This is not the way it was meant to be of course. This isn’t Eden anymore. At the same time there is such deep beauty and splendor amid the pain. As Diamond Rio sang, “It’s a beautiful mess.”  I think that is why one of my favorite verses is Proverbs 14:13:
“Even in laughter the heart may ache and the end of joy may be grief.”
This verse is just so true and honest and raw. In our best happiest free-est moments there is still a tinge of sorrow, and in our darkest hardest scariest moments there seems to be an element of sweetness. In the church today most folks aren't comfortable with sorrow. People who are sad tend to be seen as a downer. The truth is God is not uncomfortable with our pain.  In fact he cherishes our tears as treasures.
My beautiful wife Lindsey battles a dark reminder of the sheer brokenness of our world. Lindsey has Lyme disease. (To read a bit of how nasty Lyme really is read this post http://deanneleblanc.com/writing/2014/grey-matters/ ) Put simply Lyme destroys the body. Lindsey lives in chronic pain and severe fatigue. It is common for me to get up in the morning only to find that my wife never went to sleep - because of the pain. I simply cannot imagine always feeling awful...I would lose my mind.
Despite all of this my wife has launched a website designed to bring comfort to others who are hurting. Who does that? That is not normal. That only comes from the redemptive work of Jesus in someone’s life. Considering Lindsey’s circumstances “normal” would be to act mean as a snake and bitter towards the world. Let’s be honest, most of us get snippy and short with those around us when we just have a cold or feel a bit off due to our seasonal allergies. Most of us would kind of justify strep or the flu as an excuse to bite others’ heads off.  However, what Lindsey experiences is like the worst flu of your life lasting every day...and she’s still seeking to show compassion to others! That is beautiful. That is joy despite grief. God has allowed Lindsey to live in chronic pain and in the process shown her how to empathize in a whole new way. Lindsey is in rare company.
The deeper story is that Lindsey launched Bottle of Tears in faith. She did it because she felt God was inviting her to. Again for most of us when we have a thought like that we just set it to the side and tell ourselves, “yeah that would be cool...maybe I’ll do that one day.” Most of us wait until the “perfect time” to launch our dreams (and often never get to it). Lindsey chose to step out though she’s still in the midst of the worst phases of her disease. Technically it’s unwise to launch a ministry when you are so sick that you can’t get out of bed...but real faith often leads us to do things that appear “unwise”! So often when we have a an idea that's all it is- just an idea. Lindsey had an idea and went for it. So many times she has asked me what am I doing? Answer: she's being obedient. Lindsey is one of the few who have the faith to take the risks. Every bottle represents a story. A story of pain and loss and hurt and sorrow. Lindsey is providing an avenue for someone to reach into to those stories and give comfort.
Every Drop Matters is the tag line Lindsey chose for Bottle of Tears. I think that is so profound. It’s a strong reminder that our hurts are significant. We so often compare pain and feel that our hurts don’t really justify the comfort or attention of others because they are not as severe as so and sos. That is hogwash. You simply cannot compare pain because all pain hurts.
I am so proud of Lindsey. She built the Bottle of Tears website, designed the packaging and contents, found the bottles and now fills the orders and ships them out all by herself. She also prays over each person’s story as she does it. This is what she is all about. Lindsey is a natural gift giver.  She loves giving thoughtful gifts. Giving the gift of comfort through Bottle of Tears is her allowing God to use her natural gifting for his bigger Kingdom purposes. Way to go Lindsey. I am so proud of you. I can’t wait to hear how God brings hope to the hurting through these simple gestures of comfort!
Go visit her site and send a bottle to a friend in need:  www.bottleoftears.com!


Grace and Peace,
Chris Wheeler

Also, you can join her on the facebook page for Bottle of Tears!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

bottle of tears


Have you checked out my new site yet?!  

Lots of love,
Lindsey

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

ya'll just keep loving us


Friends, I am so overwhelmed by your response to Chris's post.  Thank you for sharing and spreading the word...thank you for your words of encouragement.  Thank you for loving us...even those of you that just "met" us on the blog yesterday.  We are beyond grateful and completely humbled. It has been such an incredibly hard week.  There are times I am just willing myself and begging God for my next breath.  There are moments I have thought "I'm not going to make it" and then there are glimmers of God's glory...of His hope.  And ya'll are giving that to me this week.  Jesus is using you to bring life into these painful days.  It all feels so overwhelming and lonely at times...who do we focus on now?!  Do we focus on my treatments/protocols for my Lyme disease or do we focus on our precious girl that is seriously trapped in fear and trauma??  Both take a lot of diligence and discipline. One of these things would be difficult, but both of them together can make me feel like I'm being crushed.  In those moments where Chris and I feel like "WHERE ARE YOU GOD"..."HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN ABOUT US"...He inevitably sends something or someone to remind us of His great love for us.  He sees every single tear I cry and loves me in my brokenness.  Our sweet friend Stephanie made this print of our family's verse.  And it brings so much hope...because even in the darkness, I know that darkness hasn't won.  There is meaning in our pain.  And JOY will come in the morning!!

Love you all so much...my heart is so full tonight.
Lindsey

P.S.  Thank you for sending me emails.  It might take awhile, but I will respond!!  Also, we are already at 15% of our goal for GiveForward!!!  SO HUGE!!

Click here if you want to give:  
https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/g824/lindsey-and-eliana-keep-fighting

Monday, February 24, 2014

let's help my girls heal




Lindsey and I just celebrated our 10 year anniversary! We can hardly believe we’ve already had the privilege of a full decade of life together. I can honestly say we are more in love now than ever and are growing closer every day. Lindsey is my best friend. I would truly rather be with her doing nothing than be with anyone else doing anything! God has blessed Lindsey and I with our 6 year old daughter, Eliana who is the most precious little thing on the planet.


Each and every day I find myself marveling at the pure grace of God displayed in Lindsey’s life. Lindsey is the epitome of compassion. Lindsey cares for and truly loves others in ways that can only be explained as “Christ like.” The crazy part is that Lindsey is in constant pain and exhaustion as her body is plagued by Lyme disease and multiple co-infections. This invisible sickness is brutal. Lindsey has arthritic like pain that migrates throughout her entire body. She has shooting pains followed by numbness. On top of that Lyme disease prevents her from getting restful sleep. The discomfort keeps her awake and even if she sleeps for 10 hours she still wakes up feeling like she just pulled an all-nighter in college.  I have no idea how but despite the agony Lindsey doesn’t complain or whine...she just hopes. She has been to 5 different doctors and hasn't given up.  I don't know how she does it.  Despite feeling trapped in a tortured body, Lindsey is so kind to Eliana and me. Lindsey is the best Momma - constantly pushing through the pain to engage in playful connectivity with Eliana.


As many of you know our precious daughter Eliana battles an internal emotional war called “trauma.”  If you’ve ever met E then you know her little heart is so sweet and kind and gentle (and she's hilarious). In the midst of her tenderness, Eliana is very fragile. Eliana lives in near constant fear of the rapid paced world around her. To say that she battles anxiety feels like a gross understatement. Making it through each day of Kindergarten is a major triumph for our baby girl! I am happy to report though that for the first time in her life Eliana is now sleeping at night! For the first 5 1/2 years of life, Eliana’s trauma kept her awake until crazy late every night. There were many all-nighters when the hurt in her heart robbed her of any rest at all. Now for the past 3 months she has actually been falling asleep and sleeping through the night. We are breathlessly thankful each and every time we see her drift off into slumber.


As you might imagine providing care for Lindsey and Eliana takes everything we’ve got! Though we pretty much feel overwhelmed every night, we are committed to walking down the road toward healing for both Lindsey and Eliana no matter how long or costly it may be. Though I am a speaker, lately I have really tried to limit the number of additional speaking engagements I take on so that I can be home and available to care for my family! That being said, we really need help financially. Every single treatment that Lindsey undergoes is not covered by insurance and the same goes for Eliana's therapy.


We decided to create another Give Forward page to invite folks to join us in our journey. We know we’re not alone. God has always provided for our every need through people just like you. We are inviting you to be a part of God’s answer to our prayers! Thank you for being willing to step up and help. We are so incredibly thankful to all of the many folks who have supported us along this path! I wait in hopeful expectation for the day when both of my girls are healthy and whole!

Grace and Peace,
Chris Wheeler
(Lyme husband and trauma dad)!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

IF: My Bed






It's been a while friends.  My little family and I have walked through some incredible highs and lows since my last post...which was about forever ago.  I think (without knowing it), I've tried to hold a lot of junk in over the last few months.  I can't pinpoint it.  Maybe it's because I fear that people are just plain sick of me being sick. I'm afraid I would be sick of me.  It's hard to tell and re-tell my story and the ending still be the same.  "Hi, I'm Lindsey.  I still feel awful.  I still beg God for healing every single day.  I'm afraid I'm stuck with this dang disease for the rest of my days."  I'm asking God for the NEXT RIGHT STEP.  It's no fun to share that you are on your 5th doctor to try and figure out how to fix the endless issues going on in your body.  It's exhausting to just put one foot in front of the other.  But, ya'll...I have (by God's grace) put one foot in front of the other.  And guess what, He has given me another day to breathe and live.  Each day is a gift.  Let me be honest.  That is a tough thing to say sometimes.  But, I keep repeating it (even out loud to myself sometimes like a crazy person) over and over begging God for me to believe.  To believe He is good and loves me and hasn't abandoned me.  And HE NEVER WILL. 

This past weekend thousands of girls from all over the world met in Austin, Texas for the IF:Gathering, dreamed and created by one of my friends Jennie Allen (my bff's sister).  IT WAS AMAZING!  There were two groups.  IF:Gathering in Austin and IF:Local (groups all around the country meeting together watching the live event).  Because of the fact I barely leave my house, I didn't fit into either one of these groups. So, I laughed (to myself again) that I was having IF: My Bed.  And, I did.  And God met me in my room on my bed.  I didn't realize how much I needed to dream again.  To believe that God is not through with me yet.  I sang...I took notes...I laughed...I cried...and I dreamed.  I found myself asking two different questions to God.  The first was even if I still feel the exact same way the rest of my life, will I jump back in this race?!  Will I do whatever it takes to LOVE Jesus and LOVE others?  The next thing was less of a question and more of a "RESCUE ME Jesus" in a way I haven't cried out before.  It was emotionally cleansing for me to cry and grieve over the years I've felt held captive by this disease and Eliana's trauma.  I have cried and prayed and begged God for MORE. 

One thing I can do from bed is pray...and that was the entire reason I started this blog in the first place.  Madrugada means "after midnight" because I never used to sleep because of E's trauma.  Then, I didn't sleep because of my Lyme.  And instead of being angry and bitter over my sleepless nights, I felt like I needed to pray for y'all.  I did and I won't quit.  Since the IF: My Bed conference, I have felt such a HEAVY burden to pray for the other women around the country stuck in their beds...left alone in their hospital rooms...women devastated by loss...families hanging on for dear life with an adopted child that rages and has mood disorders and won't be okay if you leave them...women struggling with deep, dark depression that feel like the cloud will never lift.  I wanted ya'll to know tonight that you aren't alone.  God loves you...HE SEES YOU!  That's what I keep hearing Him whisper to me in my pain and sleepless nights.  He is proud of you.  Don't give up! 

Our tears matter to God.  I love that.  "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."  Psalm 56:8 

Love you,
Lindsey

P.S.  Keep the prayer requests coming!  And check out IF:Gathering...you can buy the digital downloads to hear all of the incredible speakers and stories.  Life changing!!


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Lindsey!!!


Happy 34th Birthday Lindsey,

I have no idea how you do it! You truly amaze me every day. You are so beautiful. You are so wise. You are so discerning. You are so smart. In the middle of Lyme disease - on the hardest days You are still loving. Seriously...How do you keep smiling? How do you stay positive? How do you still listen so intently to the needs of others? How do you keep moving forward? Your life exemplifies the Grace of God! If I were you (and felt yucky every day) I'd be meaner than a snake! Instead, you are so gracious and kind and compassionate and patient and tender towards the world around you!

Thank you for staying home with Eliana all these years! Thank you for fighting for our girl. She wouldn't be #elianatheoneandonly if it wasn't for YOU! Let's be honest...if it wasn't for you she wouldn't have an I.E.P. at school, or even have completed adoption papers for that matter! Thank you for being the Momma tiger that you are! Thank you for investing all of yourself into E. Thank you for making every day so special for her! I love how you celebrate her every accomplishment and make it so meaningful. Thank you for being so incredibly supportive of me in all of my crazy ministry endeavors! I'm not fully me without you! You are so thoughtful. Coming home to you is the best part of every day.

In addition to all of this...NO ONE plans a party like YOU! You are amazing at decorating!!! I have no idea how you keep coming up with these fresh creative ideas! You truly are the queen of the details! Eliana's luau this year was one of your best parties ever! You think of everything.

It is my prayer that this new year is full of new life. It is my prayer that #34 is a year of deep healing, community and hope. I love how you write; I love your honest story telling. I can't wait to read through this years' journey!

Everyone who knows you is BETTER because YOU are in their life. I love you with all of my heart!
Have a Happy 34th Birthday!

Love,
Chris

Monday, July 22, 2013

our delivery of eliana

I just read and cried my way through Ann Voskamp's latest post on Labor and Delivery.  I think a lot of my tears started with the fact that I missed the day of Eliana's birth.  Eliana still doesn't fully understand her entire adoption...children with her anxiety and trauma process things differently.  So, she still truly believes that she was in my tummy.  Every time she says it, a part of me wants to bawl my eyes out and part of me wants to throw up.  It breaks my heart that I don't have pictures with her in the hospital or maternity shots.  I hope that makes sense.  So, after I threw myself a little pity party, I re-read what Ann said about delivery...and the biggest part was that delivery does not stop when the baby enters the world.

Ann writes, "Once you start delivering a child, just keep on: Keep delivering, handing over, yielding the child to God.  This is how you birth beauty in the midst of the messy."

I can't tell you how much I needed to read this tonight.  We spent over a week away from Chris while he was leading a team of students from Show Hope to Haiti.  I experienced a few moments with Eliana that were extremely painful and difficult.  See, there is a deep-seated fear that when one of us is gone for a longer period of time...we won't come back.  She raged and sobbed and begged for "dada" and then finally cried "who will be my dada if he doesn't come back."  Oh Lord, help me.  Those words just tear me apart.  I can't take her fear away.  I want to...I wish I could carry every single bit of her anxiety and pain.  I can't make it okay.  I can't talk her out of it.  I just keep on delivering her to God...praying for her little life...begging God to restore the pieces that are broken.  After her episodes have dissipated, I just look at her in amazement.  We get to show Jesus to her...to love her...to be patient...to believe in healing for her little soul. Lord, please keep birthing beauty in our little girl in the midst of our seriously messy lives.  Use me when I can't even get out of bed.  Give me strength.

If you want to see our version of Eliana's delivery, click HERE.  It's the day she was first put into our arms!  I love our little girl so much.

Love y'all,
Lindsey

(P.S.  This picture was taken right after she was placed in my arms!)

 

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