Filtered through God’s loving fingers…

My one little word for 2011 is: Believe.  On December 30, 2010, I first wrote about my choice of words for 2011, I wrote this about what I wanted from my ‘one-little-word’: Believe :

“I’m not talking about believing in a particular thing. I’m talking about a shift in perspective.

I believe the book One Thousand Gifts is helping me with my shift in perspective.

Last week I experienced a bit of a shift…

*****

After loads of doctor visits and tests (all turning out well) I finally came to my very last appointment. It was the least of my worries in November when I started scheduling the visits. My eyelashes on one eye were falling out. Now over 3 months later, the issue had started to concern me since it had escalated to over half of my eyelashes gone and they weren’t growing back.

The doctor looked through his over-sized magnifying glasses…closer…closer.

“It’s alopecia” he said. And then to the nurse who was typing the diagnosis into the computer: “over 2/3 of her left eye effected.”

“You’ve been tested for all of the autoimmune issues associated with this so it may not be an autoimmune disease. You need to have blood work periodically to see if anything changes and if we’re lucky it’ll stop here”  his mouth curved up a little.

“Am I at greater risk of lose the hair on my head?”  I spit out the question before I chickened out.

His hand went to my shoulder and he patted. “You’ve been reading about this haven’t you? Yes. You have a greater risk than the average person but let’s just take this one step at a time.”

He went on to tell me about several of his patients all with differing levels of alopecia. Some lost all their hair over their entire bodies. Some only in spots. Some of them grew their hair back after a few years.

“The immune system is difficult to predict. There’s nothing you can do, so try not to get too stressed out about it.”

*****

I left the office with Latisse, the new eyelash grower that may or may not help my “condition”.  I also left with my thoughts starting to spiral.

What I didn’t tell the doctor, because I couldn’t make myself say it out loud, was that my Gramma had worn a wig from her 40′s until the day she left this world.  I was always told she just didn’t have much hair…but never knew why. Alopecia of course can be hereditary.

*****

I hardly spoke for 12 hours. I was so afraid to let the words start. The next morning I was in the car running some errands and struggling to breathe. It’s pretty normal for me to get a tightness in my chest and have a hard time breathing when I’m stressed out, I’ve learned to just live with that feeling. But today it felt worse. Saying a frantic prayer I looked over at the seat next to me and spotted my gratitude journal. Since I finished the book (One Thousand Gifts) and started keeping my list (of 1000 things I’m grateful for) I’ve gotten weirdly attached to this little journal. I take it everywhere. Seeing it…I remembered something I read in the book…

Nothing comes to me unless it’s filtered through the fingers of God…

I said it out loud and felt a trickle of calmness…God wasn’t surprised.

Now, tell me what you’re thankful for…the thought came like a sun flare through clouds…

Thank you for Julie who understands how I feel about about losing my hair…

For surprise days when the sky is winter gray but the breeze is warm…

For the different ways Ellie says Gigi…some days she says: Gi-Jaaaa, some days it’s: ZsE-ZsE.  I’m smiling now.

I remembered what I added to my list just this morning…

Thank you for Mike’s steady slow breaths as he sleeps sound beside me…

For Reba (the cat) looking like grace in motion as she effortlessly stretches herself awake…

For fresh coffee waiting for me downstairs…

*****

I did this for 20 minutes.

Outloud.

When I pulled into the parking space and turned off the car I breathed deep…held it. And let the breath escape slowly. The tightness was gone.

*****

I have done this at least once a day ever since. When my chest gets tight, when my thoughts start to spiral I take my focus and firmly plant it in gratitude. And I say the words out loud to God.

I’ve no idea exactly why this works. In her book Ann says…”We can only experience one emotion at a time. And we get to choose…”

Maybe so..all I know is that my perspective is shifting…

Love love love to you my sweet friends…

Comments

  1. Aimee says:

    Such an encouraging post! You’ve inspired me to read One Thousand Gifts. I do a fair job of being thankful, but to sit and think of the everyday things that get overlooked because they are so mundane is awesome! Oh, and I can identify with the loss of eyelashes- I’ve been losing mine (only on my right eye) since I was a freshman in high school and just this year I lost over half of them. Let me know if Latisse works– I’ve been wanting to give it a try but didn’t know anyone who had already.

    • Robin says:

      Aimee…please let me know (in email or comment ) how you like the book.
      I’ll keep you (and anyone else who wants to know) informed about the Latisse.
      xo

  2. Love your new perspective Robin. The true test of a person’s belief or faith is when the times are tough and it is no longer practice but the real game. I love seeing you grow one step at a time- trusting, believing- in the ONE who who is always steady. BTW: I have hair. I know it is not the same but… :)

    • Robin says:

      Bill…when you and I met I was just but barely coming out of a 3 year really dark time grieving my mom. You’ve prayed me through so much and IF I’m growing, it is in part because of your prayers my dear friend. Thank you.
      and Bill…you know that men look distinguished and intelligent without hair…

  3. Sorry typo: it should say “I have NO hair.”

  4. I’ve been struggling with “alopecia ariata” (spacial hair loss) since I was twelve years old. When I was in the sixth grade I lost all the hair on the top of my head. It’s gotten much better, but I have occasionally had times where the spot has grown back to the size of my hand. (As it is currently.) I keep asking God to heal me, but it just doesn’t seem to be part of his plan. Im lucky that I have enough hair elsewhere to disguise it from most people, but I’ve never been able to pull off many of the latest styles and cuts. I just joke to my family and friends that I am destined to have 80′s “big hair”. (I tease the top to make it look like I have more hair than I actually do!) :-) All this to say, I feel you. But you know what gets me through? This verse: “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7, Matthew 10:30). Jesus said this in the context of the Lilies of the field and the sparrows. Since my name “Susanne” means “lily”, I like to think that this is a personal little passage written especially for me… to remind me that He knows me… and He loves me… no matter how much (or little) hair I may have! Love you, Girl!!

    • Robin says:

      Susanne…thank you so much for sharing your story with me…I hadn’t thought of that verse…the very hairs of your head are numbered. I love it.
      love to you …
      Robin

  5. Velvet says:

    Robin,
    Have I told you before that I LOVE reading your blog, girl you have a gift! Only about a hundred times. =) This one brought tears to my eyes. You are an inspiration.
    I want to share this story… a dear friend of mines daughter was diagnosed with Alopecia when she was about 14. She started loosing her hair in patches. She was in high school & a cheerleader at the time, so of course they were devastated. I do believe this was a life changing event for my friend. The GOOD NEWS is that doctors prescribed some medicine to rub on the patches and within weeks, her hair began to grow back in. Today it’s (10 -12 years later) she has a full head of BEAUTIFUL hair. It was all very short lived, you would never know that she has ever had any problems with her hair.
    My prayers are with you. And also please let me know how the Latisse works, I’ve been wanting to try it. My eyelashes are so scarce that I don’t even wear any mascara because it doesn’t do any good. (except on very special occassions I struggle with putting some on.)
    Again, I’m keeping you in my prayers. But I just have a feeling everything is going to be all right.
    Love & Hugs to you,
    Velvet

    • Robin says:

      Velvet you have the gift of encouragement …you always speak and I feel lighter.
      Thank you my friend. love u

  6. Velvet says:

    P.S. Just Believe!
    =)

  7. Robin,
    You are such a beautiful person. Even if (and that’s a huge “even”) you lost all your hair you would still be gorgeous–your beauty comes from within. I only know you though blogging, but that’s so evident. I have ONE THOUSAND GIFTS on my queue list from the library. Thinking of you and
    Best,
    Susan

    • Robin says:

      Susan…thank you…that means so much to me considering how honest I’ve been about what goes on in my head and heart!
      Let’s email when you get the book I’m really interested to see what you think.
      love to you
      xo
      R

  8. Julie Garmon says:

    Whew. I do believe, my dear Robin, that this is the most powerful thing you’ve ever written. Not only are you completely transparent, but you give each of us something to live on. You’re passing on the Secret of Life. Mom’s on the phone. Will read her this now…

    • Robin says:

      J…thank you for listening to the spiral and sending me back to the surface…
      i love u

  9. Thank you for your transparency in this post. I can relate to so much of what you wrote – but your gift of words is amazing. I too get the tight chest thing and have learned to live with it and accept it as part of who I am. I too have hair loss (bald spots on my head). And I’m having a reoccurence of a skin condition that has me feeling a bit depressed. And I too try to remember that God is not surprised by what He allows in my life. I’m learning – after some hard stuff – to trust my future to Him. God bless you dear! God loves when we snuggle up close to him…

    • Robin says:

      Joyce …saying a prayer for you Sweet One…that God would finish what He’s started in you concerning trusting Him. And that He’ll meet you right where you are and breathe encouragement into your moments.
      love to you…Robin

  10. I plan to do a Bible study/book club at my home this summer and was looking for a book. You have almost convinced me we should read One Thousand Gifts. I’ll have to run it by everyone else. :) Thanks for sharing honestly with us.

    • Robin says:

      Gina…let me know if you decide to use the book. I’m listening to it now (from audible), I’m kind of embarrassed to say for the 2nd time after reading it. The lesson is life changing to me…but I’m an odd personality. :)
      A book club would be a great place to share this. I’m constantly wanting to talk about it and would love to have a group going through it at the same time!
      (The InCourage website has a bookclub tab. click on it to see the videos they’re doing on every chapter w/ Ann Voskamp…pretty interesting)
      xo

  11. Thanks for sharing and you are gifted and beautiful and I, like Susan , thought that you would be beautiful with or without hair. Your beauty is a light from your heart that I am so thankful that you share it with all of us. I am grateful for God and His majesty and how He reveals Himself through your heart and your home. I am praying with you. You can believe that!

  12. So Beautiful ….Thank you. Your words Strengthen those who read it <3

  13. Oh this is just exquisite! It is so apparent through your words and phrases that you have been deeply moved and inspired to see your life through a new God-filtered lens. Praying for you… sending love!

  14. “That suffering nourishes grace, and pain and joy are arteries of the same heart—and mourning and dancing are but movements in His unfinished symphony of beauty.”

    I just read this at Anns Blog A Holy Experience and thought back to you… <3

    this is what I was thinking when I read your words earlier….but couldn't put into words of my own :)

    • Robin says:

      Twyla…thank you so much for sharing this…”pain and joy are arteries of the same heart”…yes, one of my favorite take-aways from the book.
      love to you.

  15. Pamela says:

    Thank you so much for your bravery in sharing this.

  16. Thank you for sharing your personal story. While I don’t believe I have the same hair loss issue as you, for the past 5 years, my hair has gotten noticeably thinner. The part a bit wider. I have been tested and it appears to be genetics. I think of it every time I look in the mirror. My best to you.

  17. This just touches my heart. My father -and family- have been battling Lyme’s Disease for the last couple of years and some days it just doesn’t feel like any blessings are filtering through His hands back into my dad’s sweetly lost mind… But Ann Voskamp’s 1000 gifts gives me a new perspective requiring me to look at the little day to day things that are coming directly from Him. I find myself wanting to write lists of thanks because my gratitude so easily overwhelms me. It’s amazing what He does through such wondrous writers who are so adept at sharing His heart through their words.

  18. oh victory in Jesus! that’s what i thought as i finished reading this post. way to GO, girlfriend!!!

    my aunt, who is 64, lost all her hair–on her head, eyebrows, eyelashes, all the hair on her arms, etc–when she wasn’t even 30. so i know how it can impact a person.

    i think the key to continued victory is taking the doctor’s advice and living in the present. remember what pete wilson said in plan b about worry–there’s only really 8% out of 100% of what we concern ourselves with that ever really deserves it. i’m not trying to diminish what you’re experiencing, just offer the hope of perspective and the beauty that comes from letting each day have enough trouble of its own (matt. 6: 34)

    hugs to you!

    • Robin says:

      Jenn…yes…that’s what I’m doing. Thanks for reminding me about Plan B…I soooo tend to do this…worry about everything, even if it hasn’t happened! It’s time to change that.
      (Love the scripture…)
      Oh we’ll have to talk about your aunt…
      love u

  19. I totally know that feeling of tightening in your chest you’re talking about. For me it comes and goes… but since I found out about my husband’s brain cancer it happens much more frequently and last much longer. Your advice is wise and true. I will try to do the same! Thank you for sharing! God bless!

    • Robin says:

      Jaclyn…I can not imagine Sweetie. I’m adding you and your hubby to my morning prayer list, please keep my updated if you have the time. love to you and yours.

  20. One of my favorite verses to turn to Robin, in times of stress or worry is this (and as you know, I have had a few these past few months):
    Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
    When I repeat this over and over to myself, I can feel a sense of calming overtake me and I immediately start to feel better.
    I’ll be praying for you.

    Hugs! Eileen

    • Robin says:

      Eileen….love that verse. Thank you for reminding me. You have indeed been going through so much and God is so sweet to bring this verse to your mind as you’ve needed the sense of calm…Now you’ve given me that verse and I’ll use it too.
      love to you my sister. xo

  21. This is beautiful and so encouraging! I haven’t read Ann’s book yet, but I have read so many blog posts sharing her words and her inspiration that I have ALREADY been touched by this book. I look forward to diving in myself.

    Thank you for your transparency about your current, personal journey.

    Lifting you up to our Father today….

    • Robin says:

      Lindsey…thank you so much, truly for you prayers. I look forward to hearing what you think about the book when you read it…xo

  22. If God allows it to filter through his loving fingers then it is because He knows we can overcome. Thanksgiving is the first step to overcoming. Move on to outright worship of a God who heals and loves. A God who has already overcome for you. An exchange happened at that cross. He took what you deserved and gave to you what He deserves. He deserves Healing. He paid a very high price for it and it says, “By His stripes we are healed” Girl you begin to declare that over yourself and command every unholy force attacking you to bow to the Truth. The enemy loves nothing better than a people who do not know what their inheritance is. It is the inheritance of Christ. Is it God’s will? Yes! In the Lords prayer we are taught to pray “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” No sickness in Heaven so, Yes! I will be praying for you too.

  23. Robin,
    I am sending you hugs and saying a prayer. I know that tight chest feeling and also know the healing of counting His gifts. Love to you sweet lady.
    Elizabeth

  24. Robin, you will always be a beautiful woman, no matter what!
    I am so grateful to have a blogger friend like you.
    Love,
    Ann

  25. Robin, I just read this a day late. What a trying time…my heart and prayers are with you, dear one. Thank you for sharing so honestly. I agree with those above that say that nothing on the outside could or will change the beautiful person you are! How like God to bring 1000 Gifts into your life at this very time – I’m loving it too!

  26. Robin, as in so many other times, you have touched me…This verse comes to mind and I claim it for you my dear sister in Christ…”If God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you?” -Matthew 6:30
    Love and HIS Blessings, julie

  27. I am so overwhelmingly proud of you. proud of you for choosing eucharisteo even when the scary feels like it could take up more room. i love you friend. and i am always praying. praying it stops where it is, and praying that you have the peace and fortitude to handle whatever comes as it does.

  28. I am enjoying One Thousand Gifts as well. I started my graditute list in the book, I am sure I’ll run out of space soon.

    A verse that has helped me in times of grief & frustration is Romans 5:3-5.

  29. Lori Parker says:

    Hi there :) Just today I came across your blog, and I love it! I’m interested in home decor, crafts, food and just about every level of domesticity. I am a single mother(25) and I’m often working so I rarely get time to be at home. But I feel “at home” when I look at blogs such as yours :) One of your last blogs really hit home(as in the heart home) for me. You discovered you were suffering from alopecia. I too was once a “victim”. The middle of my 8th grade year I discovered a large bald spot on my head. Needless to say, I was traumatized. The doctors/specialists were not too concerned with my spot until the saw how rapidly my hair was falling out. I’d say in less than 2 months after the initial discovery I was completely bald(minus a few strands left straggling-I refused to shave my head). I ended up spending most of my school year first under hats, and then at home when those no longer worked. I eventually broke down and wore “fake hair”. Long story short, I lost all the hair on my head, and most of my body hair. One perk was how little I needed to shave, lol. But my hair grew back and by the middle of my freshman year I went to school sans the wig. I have had no major hair losses since, but I do get bald spots occassionally. My hair dresser, who knows my story, will often spot the bare areas and begin quizzing me as to what has been a stressing me out. I only lose my hair when I’m stressed and it always comes back, thankfully. Sometimes I complain about the wild patches of spiky baby hair that poke through my long locks, but I just learned its a part of life. I remember, though, how scared I was when I began losing hair. It was a terrible time and a terrible age in general-the puberty, peer pressure, and self-esteem issues. But I survived. I want you to know that I will keep you in my prayers. As an adult, our reasoning and ability to grasp difficult situations might help us understand the “whys”, but they’re still there. I pray that you only deal with a short term bout with alopecia, but sometimes that is not part of the plan. Either way, I understand your fears/concerns and I wish you all the best. And great job on your blog and home. It is beyond evident you’re talented.

  30. I’m here from Ann’s this afternoon.

    I’m not a doctor but I’ve heard miracle stories about Latisse. My illness has taken much away that I used to count as worth. I struggle with it still – especially recently. But everything you wrote here, everything you know to say to yourself – is all true. But – and I may be writing this more for me than you – Knowing is doing – Believing is acting.

    And hope you don’t mind, but I said a prayer.

    • Robin says:

      Craig…I’m humbled that you said a prayer …thank you. Yes…knowing is doing-believing is acting. And how could you know, but this minute reading your comment, I needed to hear…believing is acting. God speaking to me through your comment. ..He is so merciful.

  31. Pamela J Wright says:

    Just found you this morning thru 2nd Half Lounge, so glad I did.

  32. Mary Deforge says:

    Prayer’s are sent your way and a big {{{{HUG}}}}! I have had thinning hair with a bald spot and lost all my hair on my arms and legs and outer and thinned eyebrows and some eyelashes. Now my hair seems to grow back in ingrown and that bothers me alot too. My hair is starting to do it again right now. Anyway’s thank you for sharing this. My Best Wishes For You, Mary Deforge

  33. Robin,

    I’m sorry that I didn’t read this post until today. You know that I’m praying for you, my dear friend. Hair or not, you are beautiful! “Filtered through God’s loving fingers.” What a lovely image that conjures of resting in God’s strong, yet gentle, hands.

    Love,
    Jean

  34. Crysta Stogner says:

    Love, Love , Love your site. Just found it today, but will be back for more. Just remember no matter what happens – God is right there with you. He has been there for me, as I have been through trials. I’m thankful He promised to never leave us or forsake us. Every day He gives us is a blessing. God Bless You Always. Crystal

  35. Jacquie Quam says:

    So amazing to read your blog and know the pain of loosing your lashes. I have had alopecia ariata since I was in my early 20′s. When I was in my 50′s I started seeing a dermatologist and getting cortisone shots that really helped fill in the spots…I never had such a full head of hair! Then we sold our home and moved to another state so that my husband could attend seminary. It was a good move and we had many signs that this was indeed where God wanted us. We had no insurance for a while but fortunately we were very healthy. I had a friend that was a Dr. and she offered to give me the cortisone shots for a small fee. So I did that for a while and then somewhere along the road I decided that I could not be on cortisone the rest of my life! It just isn’t good for a person. SOOO, when I got a bonus at work I told my husband I was going to look for a wig. He agreed and we shopped. I found a wig and EVERYONE thinks it’s my hair. It looks so natural. I did eventually loose all my hair, head, lashes, and body. In the summer I seem to have more lashes..(vitamin D?) Anyway, I’ve learned to live with it and there are some perks. Not having to spend so much time fixing my hair, getting it cut ect, and not having to shave my legs and underarms. I’ve prayed long and hard for God to give me hair again and cried in the shower. I know HE hears my prayers and I so love the scripture “Indeed the very hairs on your head are numbered” I am saddened at times that I can not swim with my grand kids and a few other things. God gives me the the grace and strength to move on and I know he has a “plan”. God bless you on your journey and I will be praying for you.

    • Robin says:

      Oh thank you Jacquie for sharing your story…I’m so proud of you for just doing the wig! My good friend was diagnosised w/ cancer and when she got her wig she promised to save it for me in case I needed it one day :)
      love to you and thank you thank you thank you for reaching out and sharing w/ me…xo

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