Thursday, September 1, 2011

what it was like

Thursday night I packed an overnight back. We were headed to Raleigh to avoid Hurricane Irene. I looked forward to a few days of helping hands via Todd's folks. Liliana had been sick the week prior and I was still running on fumes. I was eager for the rest.

But Thursday after I went to bed, everything changed.

I woke sometime in the middle of the night with a screaming headache. I don't get headaches unless I've been crying a lot. I hadn't been. I took 3-4 motrin and went back to sleep. I woke again later and realized that the pain was still intense. I couldn't figure it out.

I woke for good in the morning as we packed up our car to head to Raleigh. The drive there was torture. I couldn't explain my head pain to Todd. Other than telling him that this must be a migraine because it was the worst head pain I'd ever felt. I kept my face covered from the light and begged the Lord to have the children stay quiet. I tried aspirin, caffeine. I didn't know what was happening.

13 hours later from the first onset of the headache, Todd begs me to go to the urgent care down the street from his parents' house. Todd tells me that he's afraid I have meningitis. I tell him he's overreacting. It's just a migraine. Ice packs. An attempt at a nap. Excedrin migraine. Nothing even took the edge off of my pain.

After talking my father-n-law's doctor, we decide that I need to go to the ED. He was concerned that I may have meningitis based on my symptoms.

I wasn't afraid. I was annoyed. And mad that I had to leave my children. Irritated.

Loralai laid hands on my head, prayed for the Lord to heal my head and then walked me to the car. I had no idea that I wouldn't see her again for four days. My heart still breaks looking back at how fragile that moment was.

Every child is precious. Especially your own. But I only know my children intimately. And I know that sweet baby girl's heart. Everything about her points to heaven. Her revelation about the Lord far exceeds her years of understanding and is inspired by the pure love of the Father. And when she speaks. glory slips from her lips. And when glory slips from the lips of the Family, she recognizes it. I believe that I am glimpsing, in her, the beginning of a generation of something incredible for the Kingdom of God.

And so after hours and hours of tests in the ED, at 4a.m. they finally ran my spinal fluid and determined that I did have some form of meningitis. They were leaning towards viral but wouldn't be sure for another day, at least. Todd stayed with me the whole time. He prayed with me. He hugged me and loved on me and assured me that I would see more days. And my mom stayed up all night praying for me - and answering and returning every text message.

I dreaded calling her to tell her I had meningitis. I knew she would think of Sara. And I knew that would be the enemy's only ploy to drag her down.

Your mind can't possibly comprehend the Love that the Lord has for you. Or how He is preparing you for battle years before the enemy even sniffs out the battlefield. But our God does. He sees everything. And 18 years ago, He already knew the battlefield. And so he offered me revelation when my friend died, at 15, of bacterial meningitis. He gave me a glimpse of His love then. And somehow He kept me unafraid of meningitis. I never saw it as something to fear.

But that doesn't mean that I wasn't afraid. There were times that I nearly lost it.

And this is was what the battlefield looked like. Now I tell you this NOT with haughtiness or arrogance but with humility. Because if there is one thing that the Lord made CLEAR to me, it was this "you will be victorious, ashley, but this is just one victory. and you will share and minister with humility." It was a clear charge that I was given - one to which I answered my Papa, "yes sir." When the Lord speaks, you listen and obey.

When I arrived at the hospital Saturday morning, via ambulance and some super wonderful drugs, my head pain was under control. But then the medicine dissolved. And somewhere in the transition, orders weren't written up correctly and a very ungood thing happened. I didn't receive any pain medication for another 4 hours. If you've had a migraine, you can imagine what that feels like. But imagine a migraine jacked up on steroids. That was this pain. I felt like I was going to climb the walls and go mad. I screamed out for help to the nurses. I called Todd and I called one friend who I thought could handle me under the heat of the moment (God bless you Jodi). And I cried. And I begged for mercy. I was a blithering mess.

I've labored for 17 hours and birthed a baby with no pain meds. It didn't come close to the pain my head was in.

This pain had no fruit of joy. This pain was straight from the pit of hell. And I mean that. I remember thinking, 'THIS IS MEAN. this pain is mean. it wants to kill me. it wants to steal and destroy me.'

Soon after, Todd got to the hospital. His covering was my physical protection. The Lord kept showing me that marriage was good. That He gave us each other so that we could conquer - because when 2 or more are gathered, He is there in our midst. And when the hospital door to my room closed, we worshiped and prayed and praised our God...and His presence dropped in. It was a tangible presence. I speak no lies and say nothing to convince you to believe. I'm only reporting on what I experienced.

The days got muddied, but the battle went on. I can't tell you exactly the order of the revelations, but I can share with you what the different moments looked like.

Todd spent all mornings, but one, with our girls at his parents' house. I felt like it was best that they kept some sense of familiarity and normalcy while I was away. My sudden disappearance was enough. And so one morning I sat up and just started singing and worshiping. Sunday - it was Sunday morning. And I felt so strong. I could feel the Lord rising up in me and stirring up the fight inside of me. I thought the fight He was stirring was my healing. But He was really just preparing me for more battle.

For two years, He had me stuck on this song: Faith by Jason Upton. I labored to it with Liliana Joy and worshiped to it with Loralai Whitney while pregnant with Liliana. And I fought for my life with it, alone in my hospital room with Jesus, my Victorious Warrior.

Jesus was showing me that in order for me to battle, I had to remember that He was both Warrior and Lover. And I had to live it. I had to call it forward. I had to call life forward.

Sunday my mom and brother visited and we laughed and laughed. It was such a refreshing day. I was confident in my healing and my discharge on Monday.

What the enemy wanted to use for evil, God chose to use for good.

Monday was the worst day.

I want to say that I was always brave, but it's just not so. Because on Monday I broke. Todd came to get me at noon and we never left. The pain in my head came roaring back with avengance. It was worse this time. I kept vomiting and couldn't stand. I couldn't bare the pain. I was exhausted. Somehow we made it to the tiny little hospital bathroom. And that's where I stayed. On the floor of the shower curled up in a ball, holding my head and begging for some medicine to take the pain away. I remember thinking that this was it. I'm going to die. But i REFUSED to speak those words out loud. I refused to give the enemy satisfaction that he was scaring me into death.

And then I remembered that this was just a shadow. That I may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, but THIS, THIS is just a shadow. Because Life is mine. Even if I was to perish, I would live. The joke was on the enemy. But I also wanted to be sure that I was going to live in this life. I wanted to be delivered from this affliction! I did NOT want to die.

I begged Todd to not leave me. When he walked out of the room, the enemy's lies crept back in. So i asked Todd to please stay with me and to keep speaking truth into me - to call forth my destiny - I told him that all i was hearing were the lies. I KNEW they were lies, but I didn't have the strength to speak Truth. I needed my groom to speak Truth of Life over me. And he did.

Todd kept saying "Ashley, you have to be strong. You have to be bold. You will not sheeth your sword until this battle is over. You will keep fighting. You are wearing the full armor of God. Picture it. You have the helmet of salvation on. You are already healed. It is just taking time for your body to physically manifest what is YOURS!" And he told me that i needed to recall songs in my mind, of God's word...and as he said that, I realized that I already was and had been. Even while I was desperate for the pain to leave, in that little shower, the Holy Spirit was singing forth Truth in my mind. I was NEVER away from Truth.

As the pain finally started to relent when I got medicine, I was able to make my way to the hospital bed. I remember telling Todd that I felt so oppressed. I could feel the enemy trying to intimidate me and convince me that I was never going to leave this hospital. It was nasty. His ways are disgusting and mean - he is intimidating. He is vile.

But God. Oh my God - HE IS LOVE!

And while I wretched in pain, I shoved my head into Todd's tummy as I cried in pain and screamed out to Jesus "have you forgotten me?! will you not remember me, Jesus? PLEASE JESUS HELP ME, RESCUE ME!!" i was getting so mad at God. i kept telling Him that I felt like I was a sheep left out in the cold.

But do you know what God did? He took away the shame of that moment by telling me something that only a Papa can do. He said 'it doesn't matter your faith right now, Ashley. i will be with you no matter what. you don't have to do anything, or believe more or less. i am with you.'

And so I started calling forth my destiny. In those moments of freedom from pain, my lips gave way to life. And I would started speaking out loud, into my hospital room, the promises that the Lord PROMISED me. "you promised me a long life, Lord. that you would satisfy me with a long life! that you would let me grow old with my babies and my husband. that you have created me to PROSPER and NOT to harm me. that you know that i am a great warrior for you and that you have great purpose for my life and that it is not to be a short life. that you already told the enemy that i am yours. that we are looking over the mountain victoriously together. that i am your BELOVED AND YOU ARE MINE. that you Love me because you made me. just because i am ME. you will fight for me. you are my victorious warrior. that even the lowest of God's body is higher than the highest of the enemy's. that you will fight for me!" ...

i fought with Truth and Love.

i played worship music often. but admittedly there were times that i couldn't stand any sound at all. but in the quiet, the Lord was with me. it was then that He sang for me.

His Body picked up where i was out of breath. A dear friend stood at the altar at church for me. Literally. She stood in my place, as though she were me. She and another friend stood the gap for me and prayed for my healing. I had several friends who would call and text me and email me constantly with visions and revelation that they were receiving from the Lord - and I would add those to the destiny I called forth. I praised the Lord for the centurion angel that stood guarding and fighting for me - for the Holy Spirit's promise that I was his girl - for how Jesus was pleased with my faith and when I walked on water He held me even as i slipped and sank.
I knew that when I couldn't call forth the next word, that a sister or brother would. And I rested there. I slept easy. I started believing the words I was speaking and remembering who I really was in Christ.

And His burden became lighter. He became more real. I rested in Him easier.

The questions I had been asking Him weeks, even days prior to the meningitis, I started understanding more.

I had been asking Him what it looked like to fully rest in Him - or what it looked like to have personal victories so that I could effectively have public ones.

The answers didn't come in a sentence or a verse - they came more in a feeling. My words fail me. But my heart knows. There was an exchange between the One who pulled me out of darkness and myself. It was beautiful.

I know what it feels like to face fear and rise up victoriously. But it wasn't by what I did or said or didn't do - it was by the sweet grace of God as He held good on his promises.

I stood boldly before His throne and I said, "YOU PROMISED ME, PAPA!!!! PLEASE KEEP YOUR PROMISES!!!" and He did.

And when a nurse came in to test me for some neurological changes after my backslide on Monday - somehow the spirit rose up in me a clear mind for a moment enough to keep my promises in tact.

He was starting to tell me that i was getting worse and began by saying with a severe look on his face that "meningitis can change and lead to other things..." and before he could finish i said, "shh shh shh. out. i will not receive what you're saying. you need to leave. you can go now." I don't think I pleased him, but i was satisfied.

From the lips flow life and death. And when Jesus walked the earth, He spoke and life was breathed. He never spoke and anyone died or was shamed or grieved. His words brought physical and spiritual life. As do ours. We have the capacity to life each other up with our words or breathe out words that will linger in hearts and allow lies to grow into places where we believe them so much that we start living them.

I was NOT going to start living death.

And I didn't.

So on Tuesday morning when I woke, i could feel hope in the air. It didn't hurt that in that awkwardly shaped hospital chair slept my Todd. But I knew that the enemy wasn't done. As long as I was still in the hospital, I knew that his job was to keep me trapped. So as I prayed silently I said, "Lord, you've just got to give me something to cling to today." And as fast as that prayer went up, He spoke to me and told me to read Psalm 113:7. I read on to finish the Psalm. I just smiled. And then I lifted my hands up high and praised the God who came to set this captive free! I knew that TODAY I would break out of this hell. That He would raise me out of the crappy dump that had been holding me captive. And that my arms would be filled with love that only a mama knows. Oh my girls. I was desperate to feel them tucked up close to me.

But do you know that even in that promise given to me, I still vomited and was nauseous and disgusting feeling the remainder of the day. We forgot my medicine and were delayed an hour on the highway. Liliana didn't nap going home. We had our two big dogs in the van with us - one nearly sitting on my head as I had to lie down on the way home b/c my spinal tap created complications due to missing spinal fluid causing headaches...

Even amidst the chaos - even when there is one who is trying to steal joy, there is One who is freely giving it.

In the midst of battle, you need the Body. You need someone who will intimately war with you. You need to KNOW who you are in Jesus because you will most definitely need to call it forth. And you need to know without a shadow of a doubt that as you rise from the ashes, you will look back at the battlefield and see something different. You won't see the affliction of the demons.

You will see the glory of the Lord.

His final promise to me:

psalm 113:7-9
He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.
8 He sets them among princes,
even the princes of his own people!
9 He gives the childless woman a family,
making her a happy mother.

coming BOLDLY before the throne with confidence:

Hebrews 4
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

there is POWER of life and death in your words:
proberbs 18:21
21 The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.