WOW - To talk about Workshop is going to take a few posts. Bear with me.
I'll begin with a long overdue update on my health for those of you who are concerned and have been kind enough to lift me up before the Father. And a big THANK YOU to all who have!
Here’s the brief version:
This year’s Workshop was centered on the theme of prayer. Best I can tell, God used my physical health as a visual example of His power available through our prayers.
I say that because literally hundreds of people were lifting me up in prayer, especially after Wednesday evening’s events. God answered those prayers as one way to reinforce the points being made by so many wonderful presenters at the Fairgrounds this weekend. His grace was sufficient for me, and His power was made perfect in my weakness. God be praised, and may we all learn and grow from it.
And understand, I am in no way saying prayer is not powerful had God chosen to allow me to continue in my pain, unable to assist with the Workshop at all. It just would have been a different lesson we all would have learned. Perhaps that just wasn’t the one His people needed to hear this year. Either way, God be praised, and may we all learn and grow from it.
Feel free to skip the rest of this post if you choose. It is not intended to be a complaint or rant – simply the facts for those interested. I have had so many people asking how I am doing that it has been hard to answer every one in much detail.
A week ago Saturday (March 22), it all began with a pain in my right hand. That progressed (in order, as best I can recall) to my right wrist, forearm, left hand, left knee, left groin, right foot, left wrist, the back of my neck, right knee, right groin, and left shoulder.
Most of the time only 2 or 3 of those areas were highly painful at any one time, and the others were just a dull ache. However, on Wednesday evening, after exerting myself quite a bit in leading worship at Memorial's Workshop Wednesday gathering (giving me a fresh appreciation of the song My Life is in You when it says "I will praise you with all of my strength..."), then sitting for 30 + minutes listening to a great sermon by Don McLaughlin, and then trying to get up for the final song, they all hit at once. God gave me the grace to make it through that final song (singing "You are my strength when I am weak..."), but at the end I collapsed on the front pew and could barely move anything. My wonderful friends surrounded me with prayer as I sat in terrible pain. It took well over an hour to gather the strength to get out of the building and into the car. We waffled over whether to go north to home or south to the hospital. If we went south, I knew my Workshop was over - they had warned me that if things got worse and I had to come back, they figured I would be there for at least a week.
We choose to go home, take more medication (some natural remedies as well), lie down, and see if things improved in an hour or so. I apologized to my mother and mother-in-law for not offering to help them with their bags as they entered our house to spend the weekend ; ), and we had a pleasant conversation as I tried to rest my body (my mind has been clear the whole time...no headaches or anything).
After some time, I got out of bed and the pain had subsided somewhat - enough that I would at least spend the night at home and re-evaluate in the morning.
By Thursday morning, I felt some relief. I stayed in bed until noon. When I got up at noon, I could actually walk without much pain. I could type on the keyboard and hold things in my hands again. It was a great turnaround.
I believe I arrived at the fairgrounds around 3:00 and spent the evening taking care of my responsibilities. The pain grew steadily worse the longer I went, and by the time I arrived home at 11:00 or so it wasn’t pleasant yet again.
Friday began with a visit to the doctor for evaluation and more blood drawn for tests (the first round of tests collected while at the hospital came back clean, including rheumatoid arthritis). Among other possibilities, I know I am being tested for Lupus, Lyme Disease, possible thyroid issues, and a post-strep infection. I am presently awaiting those results. My doctor also prescribed a steroid as an anti-inflammatory. Of course, I would be willing to admit to this before Congress if necessary. ; )
I made it to the Fairgrounds Friday afternoon around 1:00 to begin my tasks for the day. I didn’t feel nearly as well as Thursday afternoon, but I was functional, if slow. Friday was my evening to help lead the evening worship, and God gave me sufficient grace and strength to make it through. Arrival at home that evening around 11:00 found me in as much pain as the previous night, if not more.
On Saturday morning the true relief finally began. We had a sound check for ZOE at 8:00 a.m., and I did not arrive home until 1:45 a.m., officially Sunday morning. I was pretty much pain free the whole day! Alice actually had to work to keep up with my walking speed once again (back to normal!). Sunday and this morning have continued that trend. I can still feel a dull ache in each of the previously affected areas, but they are not causing any problems for my mobility or functions.
I await a visit with an arthritis specialist and my latest blood test results, hopefully by the end of this week.
For now, I rest.
Special thanks to Alice, Tracy Kouns, Wayne Conway, Lucille, Keith Webber, Sharon Lancaster, Krista Magnusson, Aaron Henley, Brenda Hughes, my cousin Tonya Stephens, Van & Jeanne Priest, and countless others who helped out in many ways this past week. They (and probably others I have missed) helped carry my load this week and offered wise counsel, and for that I am grateful. I owe you guys so much!