Hi, I’m Annie, I’m married to Mike, we have an 18 year old son, Jonty and are founder members of King’s Church. I also have a rare, incurable disease called LAM which destroys healthy lung tissue and erodes lung function. When I was diagnosed, the internet said that life expectancy was 5 – 10 years after onset of symptoms. I wanted to share this morning as this month is the 10th anniversary of my diagnosis and I’m still here, praise God!
I have spent the last couple of days (ok, weeks) thinking about what to say this morning, after all, 10 years is a long time to fit into 5 minutes.
I could tell you about the day my left lung collapsed whilst bowling with Jonty, which lead to the initial diagnosis in 2007 following five years of increasing breathlessness.
I could mention the night my right lung collapsed in May 2010, and we nearly left it too late to call the ambulance. Desperately traumatic….
And there were the anxiety and panic attacks that started after that night, keeping me at home for weeks on end, making me leave restaurants, get stuck in the bath and have my meals on the stairs. That was pretty grim.
I could talk about the stress of having to use oxygen in public, how hard it was to give up playing tennis and describe the agony of chest drains and the surgerys that stuck my lungs to my chest wall to stop further collapses….
Oh, and I could mention the first trip to Newcastle in 2011 to assess me for a lung transplant. At the moment I am too well to go on the active list but they monitor me regularly so it could become a reality in the future.
And I could tell you about when I started a new LAM treatment also in 2011 that has kept me fairly stable since then with minimal side effects.
I could tell you about when God healed my anxiety and panic attacks through prayer with some lovely ladies here. And how I finally realised that God loves me and I really am important to him.
I could also talk about the health regimen we have adopted as a result of my medication that suppresses my immune system and that since 2013 the regular chest infections have stopped and I feel healthier now than I did in 2011 even though I’m not physically able to do as much.
And then there is wonderful Mike – I could go on and on about how he has truly stepped up, doing the shopping, the lifting and carrying, makes me coffee every morning, endures my teasing, patiently waits for me and is just an all round great guy. I am so blessed that God chose him for me. He is the outworking of ‘in sickness and in health’…
And I could thank wonderful folks who have prayed, supported, loved and helped us over the past ten years… those that I know about, I’m sure there are others.
But I believe God wants me share these truths that I have learned during these past 10 years:
God is good. All the time. When I was first diagnosed I thought I deserved my illness as I wasn’t a very good Christian. But God showed me that my illness is just a result of living in a fallen world and that He loves me. It has given God a chance to show me his goodness and his grace as I have had to rely on him more and more.
God is trustworthy. He never fails and he won’t start now. At our wedding, God gave us two prophetic words. The first was ‘Jesus is in the boat with you’. God doesn’t stand far off seeing if we can cope with life, he’s there in the thick of it with us. He has kept me these 10 years, the last 5 relatively stable, healed my anxiety, brought me to a place of contentment and I am so grateful. I now know that God’s timing is perfect and that He is trustworthy.
I need God all the time. The second prophetic word at our wedding was a quote from Minnie Louise Haskins. “And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”” God reminded me of this and I now try to consciously put my hand in His before starting each day. Nothing is too difficult or too small for God! Over time, I have come to realise that I need him all the time, not just in the hard times. I do not need to fear the future if my hand is in God’s every day.
I am so blessed. I’ve had to physically slow down and it has given me time to notice the small blessings that happen each day. I try to thank God every morning for who he is and what he has done and declare some of the blessings in my life. It has helped me appreciate what I have rather than focus on my limitations.
He can use me. For years I felt I had no ministry, no calling, how could God use someone so physically limited? Gradually I am answering God’s call for me to be an intercessor, an encourager and maybe other things. The unseen ministries are very important and often the reason for the success of the visible ones.
I’m now at the point where I would love to be healed but am content to wait for God’s timing. He may heal me, he may not but I’m not going to worry about it. However if someone has a word from God that now is the time, please let me know!! I’m no longer defined by my illness, I may have LAM but it does not have me, God has me and I’m spiritually richer now than I was 10 years ago. I thank him for what I have learnt and how I have grown through having LAM which I possibly wouldn’t have done without it.
To finish, Mike is going to read a wonderful 19th century hymn by Joseph Parker that was introduced to me by Peter Lewis years ago at Cornerstone which encapsulates the truths I am beginning to understand. Needs to be read in a Welsh accent really but never mind…
God holds the key of all unknown and I am glad;
If other hands should hold the key
Or if He trusted it to me,
I might be sad.
What if tomorrow’s cares were here without its rest?
I’d rather He unlocked the day,
And, as the hours swing open, say,
“My will is best”.
The very dimness of my sight makes me secure;
For, groping in my misty way,
I feel His hand, I hear Him say,
“My help is sure”.
I cannot read His future plans but this I know:
I have the smiling of His face,
And all the refuge of His grace
while here below.
Enough; this covers all my wants and so I rest;
For what I cannot, He can see,
And in His care I saved shall be,