Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How a Horse Named Hero Changed My Life

It has been two years since coming home from UCLA.  That photo was me the week of Valentine's Day 2009 in ICU in an induced coma because all my organs had shut down.  My friend is smiling because that's what you do when someone is taking your picture.  I had no clue what was going on or I would have smiled too.   It's a miracle I am here, yes.  That's enough to make you smile.  But the miracles continue as I walk with a marvelous God.

It's amazing that you still pray for me!  Many think because the bone marrow transplant was 2 years ago, I should be "fixed" by now.  I don't have AML leukemia anymore, but the side effects of the treatment, namely what comes with Chronic Graft vs. Host Disease following transplant are worse than most illnesses.  

I have been in the dumps lately, completely discouraged as my face was falling apart - literally!  Large patches of skin falling off and leaving tightness and burning, red skin beneath...painful and embarrassing.  I was actually feeling shame for looking so ugly - no amount of lotion or ointment could cover it up - it's GVHD (Graft vs. Host Disease), a result of my bone marrow transplant.  The transplanted immune system (from another human) doesn't recognize the body it's in and attacks it, actually trying to reject the skin organ.  It's the #1 cause of morbidity in transplant patients sadly because it can go into every organ. 

 The outward appearance of it had been affecting me emotionally, increasing in intensity until the week of Valentine's Day when it got so bad that I started not even wanting to see people.  I felt very unloveable and unacceptable.   This of course was untrue, but that was the "voice in the head" which I attribute to the enemy of our souls who wants nothing more than to destroy us from the inside out.  

Well, thank you all for your prayers -- God is always there, always watching, always cares.  He spoke to my heart on that Thursday, February 17 through a radio show on Focus on the Family featuring stories of rescued horses and renewed hope...truly an amazing segment that everyone ought to listen to!  For me, I'm not a huge animal lover like some are, but after this show I am more so!   

One particular story, grabbed my heart so much I almost had to pull the car over.  It was the story of Hero the horse. I'll let you listen to the story yourself at the link in the paragraph above, but what God spoke to my very heart that day was life-changing.  In an overwhelming moment, God poured out love to me and spoke deeply to my heart that he loved me, that He had not forgotten me, that the problem with my face, the peeling, burning, redness, was all part of my ministry...that they are the scars I bear from my battle.  That He is the ultimate Hero and was not ashamed to bear scars and come back to show love, redemption, hope to us, therefore I no longer need to be ashamed of these scars.  My whole ministry through the battle was about love and hope and redemption and sharing that with others, and here I thought the GVHD which was visible on my face, making me "ugly" was not a part of that.  Somehow it didn't count.  It all counts.  And in that moment in the car, with tears streaming down my face.  I felt the incredible burden lifted, chains were broken and I was FREE.  

I cannot express the incredible joy that filled my heart that day and continues to fill it -- even when someone asks me with a concerned look, "Ooh...you having dry skin or something?"  (For someone to mention it with concern tells you how bad it must be when most people probably have some degree of dry skin!)  Prior to February 18, that would have been fuel to drive me to be even more self-conscience.  But no more!  Now, I recall that day when God spoke to my heart that these are my battle scars to show others the power of God's love, hope and redemption.  Like Thomas, after Jesus returns to the disciples after His Resurrection, I have something to show people that HE IS ALIVE, proof if you will.  If I had a perfect healing, where you couldn't see any scars, the miracle would not have as long lasting, powerful and far-reaching effects. 

So the other disciples told him (Thomas), “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:25-29

 1 Peter 4:16   However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

Even though my scars are not "persecution for being a Christian" what happens is that I do get judged if someone doesn't know me...some even judge whether or not I'm a "good" Christian whatever THAT means, as if I have not had healing or have had problems for some reason of my own doing.   Well, no longer will I be ashamed of the scars I bear...no longer will I be afraid, embarrassed or feeling unworthy of love...I know God loves me and that is all that matters.  I will not hold back His love for others because of my scars (please forgive me for doing so).  So obvious now that the Enemy of our souls has been at work here trying to eliminate my effectiveness to do His will on this earth. 

Some may read of my experiences with God and think that somehow I am something special to be able to experience God, the God of the Bible, in such a way that He speaks to my heart and I can feel His presence and walk in His way.  No!  You need to realize that I am no different than you!  God wants a relationship with you, dear friend, right here and right now.  You don't have to "improve" to be worthy of a relationship with your Creator!  He'll take you right where you are at, scars and all!  Each one of us carries some scars of the battles we have faced...some are hidden on the inside, but the scars are there.  Turn to Jesus and let Him be your healer and He will meet you in just the way you need Him to which might not look like the way He meets me, but meet you He will.

...bless you all for not being ashamed of me...

Here's a photo of Hero, the horse who resides at the Crystal Peaks Ranch in Bend, OR -- a dream of mine would be to take a road or plane trip to Bend and visit Hero in the summer.  I received a lovely note from them inviting me anytime!  Be sure to listen to the radio show Rescued Horses: Renewed Hope


Michael English said...

That was a very dark time for us, but it's great to see how you've changed and are now able to use even this recent suffering for God's glory!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for touching my heart with your incredible story!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing something so personal so that others can benefit. I haven't yet listened to the story about Hero, but I am going to! I too needed to be reminded that my limitations, whether inner or outer, are all part of His plan for me. "His strength is perfected in weakness." Jesus shines through our weaknesses; I need to remember that!

I know I see the loveliness and hope of Christ expressed in you. Thanks so much for reaching out to others on your blog! ~J

Anonymous said...

Wow Krista! You’re story is so, so amazing. You are truly a testimony to God’s amazing power! Thanks so much for sharing your inspirational story.

Anonymous said...

You don't know me but we must know people in common because you are on my prayer list.
What a beautiful and inspiring testimony. I have psoriasis and it is itchy, annoying, and people comment on it as I am constantly peeling, but that is a drop compared to what you have dealt with. My husband and I went through a difficult period for several years, and we have come out of it. We were just commenting on how life is sweeter now for having experienced the difficulties.

I remember at one point praying about my anger and what would come out of my mouth and thinking that Jesus must no longer be in my heart, as the mouth reflects the heart. So I invited him back in, and such a peace filled me for a full 24 hours. I haven't been the insane woman since. The life before was awful, but the demonstration of Christ taking back my heart and flooding my body was too awesome for words. I feel like I have a glimpse into what you have shared and how the experience transformed you.

May God continue to bless you and heal you. Know that people often look right past our physical ailments - many people have something - and that most people see YOU coming through, and the brilliance of Jesus shining through you - just as I'm sure how you see others.

I have the horse story on CD. It's one of the top 10 CDs and I'm so glad you were healed through hearing it - as many people have been!

God bless you. Thank you for your updates!

Anonymous said...

Hey Krista,
AMEN, thanks for that testimony. We all have times when we think we look terrible but people don't see us the way we see ourselves (we are way more critical of ourselves) Sometimes I don't want to go out in public just because I have bad acne. When I see you, its a blessing and relief to see what God has done and is doing in your life. We also heard the story of Hero that day. You are definitely a hero to me!

Anonymous said...

I love your blogs!!!


Anonymous said...

Powerful writing Krista! You can tell it is from your heart! Very moving!

Anonymous said...

Ty krista, you are such a beautiful woman!, You inspire me! Forgive me? I have been too self centered with my problems. D

Krista said...

Thank you all for such lovely comments... Proverbs 16:24 says, Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

So keep speaking gracious words, not just here (more comments please :) but everywhere you go...when someone is a jerk to you - the post office clerk, the waitress, the co-worker, those gracious words of yours can be sweet and healing.

Anonymous said...

Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch is one of my FAVORITE ministries.. Kim Meeder is truly a "voice worth listening to". What a blessing to be reminded of Hero and his own will to live against all odds. Reminds me of you Krista : ) Love you, Dear One : )

Anonymous said...

Very touching. Thanks for sharing Krista. I'm glad God found a way to speak to your heart! He is SOOO Good! ~D

Anonymous said...

People are so strange to judge. I just knew that you were fighting GVHD and felt how hard that must be physically and emotionally. Yes - you are beautiful!

(It reminds me of my sister and how self- conscious she must feel with her MS).

Krista said...

Thanks for your comments. I think those who make quick judgments are just living in their natural selves and the root is pride and possibly fear that they could lose their "control" over health. God will reveal that to them as they end up going through something which is out of their control.

A woman from Africa with Aids, had for years thought AIDS was a curse from God, that those who got it deserved it somehow. Then she got Aids through no fault of her own. She was touched by God and uses it to minister to others, orphans of Aids parents who've died, as well as breaking myths about AIDS through education and speaking. She was focused on CNN Heroes. I loved what she said at the end. Still living with AIDS, she stated with a smile wide across her face, "God heals in many different ways, and He has healed me." -- And He has healed me...that is true healing - no matter what we have when our spirit is free and we are alive in Christ! I pray that for your sister as well.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful! Your story is amazing! Animals are very special. I'm helping to raise a guide dog for the blind.
Take care. Thanks for sharing. It means so much~

JoAnn Schall said...

Hi Krista, I just wanted to say thanks for stopping by my blog (godhealsbrokenhearts.com)and posting a nice comment. I was thrilled to find your site and to hear your testimony of healing and overcoming. God obviously has an incredible purpose for your life and I pray that as you continue on your journey you will come to deeper and deeper realization of how much He loves you and is so incredibly proud to have you as His precious child. On the good days and the really tough days He loves you with a deep, passionate love that none of us can fully comprehend. God bless.

Krista said...

Thanks, Joann! I appreciate your encouraging words. Many blessings to you on your journey as well! God heals in many ways :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your stories - the ups, the downs, and God's glory through it all.

SnoWhite said...

Absolutely beautiful, Krista. God is using you in mighty, mighty ways. Thank you for sharing.

And, I wanted to say CONGRATULATIONS -- you won as part of the CSN giveaway at Finding Joy in My Kitchen.

Krista said...

Thanks SnoWhite...means a lot coming from the Fairest One of All... :) AND SO STOKED about winning!

Anonymous said...

You are truly a witness to Christ's eternal love. Thank-you for sharing your most precious life story. Whenever I feel down or doubt I will come back here. Blessings to you.

Krista or Mike said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Anon ;) It means a lot to me because it is my heart's desire to be an encouragement to others because God wants you to know how loved and special you are and He sees you as the TRUE you...not any other false identity you might have taken on in the world's eyes...God bless you as you meet with Him.