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Things I Learned in the Fire... it's not about me!


So I was about 27 years old when I was introduced to the book “A Purpose Driven Life,” by Rick Warren. It changed my life. But what resonated the most for me out of the entire reading and Bible study, was the first sentence of the book. It was four simple words, “It’s not about you.”

So many times, we are so self absorbed and self centered that when trials and tribulations come in our lives.... we think it’s all about us. Woe is me! I guess it’s because? In our humanness, it’s hard to see the forest through the trees, as they say. We get so discouraged and down in the dumps that we can’t see the bigger picture. And that is... that it’s not about us. God’s plan is always bigger and better than we can imagine. While He allows trials to come to test our faith, stretch, strengthen and build character, it really is far greater than us, because as we grow and overcome, we also leave space for people to witness God’s glory in our lives.


Right now, we are facing the biggest challenge of our lives. My husband, my safe place, my love, my heart... is fighting for his life and awaiting the sacred gift of a heart. You see, in 2019, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Non-Ischemic Cardiomyopathy to be exact. Meaning... there was no explainable reason for his heart failure. Perhaps he had gotten a simple virus and it attacked his heart. But either way his heart was failing. What a blow. This 45 year old vibrant man, was beyond physically fit. He’s an educator by day and a weight trainer, personal trainer, and bouncer by night. HOW COULD HIS HEART BE FAILING!!??


With medication, it was well managed and improving, then on January 6, 2020, a routine follow-up and checkup turned into a 13 day hospital stay where the ambulance was called because his heart was only functioning at 10% and he had a massive blood clot the size of a plum sitting on his heart. WHAT!?! It was our first sign that 2020 was going to be a bumpy ride. Still his team of doctors were optimistic. Well cautiously optimistic I should say. After his 13 day stay in the hospital, he was released with a new cocktail of medications and the placement of an internal cardiac defibrillator as a safety net.


He was improving and we exhaled. Here comes March and the monster of COVID-19. Another two week stay in the hospital, but he battled and beat it. We exhaled. Then came slow declines in health and activity. By the summer it was determined that covid had done irreparable damage to his already compromised heart, and in September another hospital stay came. He was evaluated and placed on the transplant list and by October, he was released and sent home with the insertion of a picc line and a 24 hour Milrinone iv infusion.


Again, he was doing better and we exhaled while we waited and began to adjust to yet another new normal. Two months of peace and improvement and here comes slow declines In health again. Here begins the rollercoaster up and down up and down and we get through 2020. Enter 2021, and we hit February. Heart Health awareness month. We decide to be transparent and share our journey to bring awareness to this ever so silent beast called congestive heart failure. And lo and behold Reggie is admitted to the hospital for more advanced therapies.


We are now at the place where he can’t come home until he receives the sacred gift of a heart. He’s got a balloon pump placed to compress and pump his heart until he gets another one. I can’t see him as much as I’d like because of COVID. He’s often lonely and discouraged, and I, his HELP MATE, can’t help!


We will have many post-transplant needs and I have a lot to do to prep our home that we have lived in for over 20 years now, before he comes home. But Reggie and I are prideful ... so every time someone asked if they could help in any way, the answer was always no. Now some friends ignored us and told us not to block our blessings, and they set up a gofundme. In less than 48 hours, the campaign is more than halfway to its goal. And we are undone. Never did we think we were this loved. Or even worthy of such love, despite what we have poured into others. We HATE to receive.


I began to question God through this process, why me? Why us? Why my Reggie? He’s the kindest, gentlest most giving soul I’ve ever encountered. Then God said “Don’t you remember that it’s not about you?”


There will be glory after this. This is not just for us. It’s for all of you to bear witness to the miraculous glory of God. Sit back and watch Him work. Because Reggie will live to declare the glory of the Lord. Yes, this road is scary. But we cannot let ourselves be consumed by fear. Gods word says that He did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. When trials and tribulations come, the scriptures are revealed to us in a special way. I’ve always known that scripture, but now it hits so much differently. God is showing me that we don’t have to be consumed by fear just because fear is present, because we have His power to overcome that fear. We have His love that is being made tangible by all of the friend, family and village of support, standing beside us during this most challenging time. And we have His word, that is true, to remind us of His promises. He will guard our hearts and mind.... and keep it sound.


Anyway..... I say allllll of this to say. When trials come your way, be encouraged. Some of you think I’m strong and I hold it together. Nope I really am not. But it’s ok to not be ok. And it even more okay to be weak. Because God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. It’s in NO WAY AN EASY FEAT. THIS IS HARD AND I HATE IT HERE IN THIS MOMENT. But there will be glory after this! Won’t you continue on this journey with me as we WATCH GOD WORK!?


Lovies.... remember that you are all perfectly imperfect beauties, fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of a perfect God, and HE thinks you are wonderful. And so do I. So, continue to embrace His magnificence, remembering that it’s not about you. Oh and don’t forget to wear your confidence like makeup and show a little love and lipstick!

Toni-Michele



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