Sunday, April 27, 2014

Book Review: In Sickness and In Health by Mandy B. Anderson

The book, In Sickness and in Health: Lessons Learned on the Journey from Cystic Fibrosis to Total Health by Mandy B. Anderson, is the author's personal story of what life is like living with what doctors call an incurable disease. In reading her story, I felt like I could completely relate to her. Although my diagnosis of a congenital heart defect is much different than hers, all the ways in which being a sick kid can take an emotional toll, is very much alike.

For instance, most kids don't ever have to think about dying an early death or having doctors put an expiration date on your life. This cannot only be emotionally devastating but spiritually devastating as well as "words of death" are constantly being spoken over you. As a kid, you can feel the fear and anxiety in those around you so you take it upon yourself to be the "brave" one. You learn how to mask and hide your true feelings and inadvertently start pretending to be someone you are not.

While Mandy talks about these struggles growing up with cystic fibrosis and with doctors telling her she would never see her high school graduation, she offers much hope despite her dire circumstances. She does believe she has experienced God's healing in her life - to the point that she can run miles without gasping for air. But she also recognizes that just because she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, she knows she still has a choice to choose sickness or to choose health and wholeness. She says, "When it comes to our health and quality of life, we always have a choice." Some of the positive choices she has made to help her live as healthy of a lifestyle as possible include eating well, exercising, chiropractic care, massage therapy and using essential oils.
Mandy B Anderson shares her story at Java JOY in Bismarck
Throughout her book, Mandy talks about overcoming her fears of dying young and how having a new perspective, speaking words of life and forgiveness have all been paramount in living life as an overcomer. She says many people throughout her life have said hurtful things to her regarding her disease and she had to learn to forgive each and every one of them.

She recalls a time at a wedding reception when one of her classmates that she had not seen for several years and who had too much to drink came up to her and said very loudly, "Wow! You're still alive! I thought you would've been dead by now from that thing you live with." Not only had she learned to forgive people who said insensitive things to her but she also had to learn to forgive herself for thinking she wasn't good enough, for not believing in herself and for judgments she held towards herself.
Mandy and her team at a speaking event in Bismarck
One chapter I could really relate to Mandy is the one titled, "Walk by Faith, Not by Sight." Having had a medical condition my whole life and then having a daughter with a disability, I have struggled with how to balance science and medicine with faith and healing. Mandy says that faith is something that must be exercised every day, whether we see proof of it or not. She says when it comes to sickness and disease, we can still believe we're healed even if we don't see it from a medical standpoint. I love that Mandy says, "I will put my faith in God's word long before I put my faith in medicine." She goes on to explain that while medicine does have a place, we tend to have more faith in medicine than God's healing power.

Mandy does a great job throughout her book of telling her story to those themselves who struggle with chronic illness but also to parents who have children with a congenital or incurable disease. I think any parent of a child with any type of special needs will also get a lot out of this book and might enable you to better relate to your child by understanding what your child may be feeling or thinking. Even if you are not one who is dealing with sickness but are trying to make positive changes in your life, this book will be helpful and encouraging.

Click HERE to learn more about Mandy B. Anderson. Buy Mandy's book: In Sickness and In Health: Lessons Learned on the Journey from Cystic Fibrosis to Total Health
Mandy selling a copy of her book 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Faith's Integrative Music Sessions

This past Sunday at church I noticed Faith singing along to the chorus with a little more gusto than she has in the past. She seemed a little more confident and really projected her voice once she caught on to the words that were being sung.

I must admit, listening to her sweet voice singing the words, "He is faithful, He is glorious, He is Jesus, all my hope is in Him. He is freedom, He is healing right now" was enough to cause tears to stream down my face. Later after thinking about it, I realized that part of her new-found confidence in singing probably has something to do with the integrative music sessions she has been doing with a music therapist.
Faith playing the xylophone
fun with shakers
Every couple of weeks, Jonnica comes into our home and spends about 30 minutes with Faith singing songs and playing instruments. I know how much Faith likes music so I was pretty sure she would enjoy doing this but an added bonus is that the music therapist also does worship at her church so she and Faith like the same kind of music! While Jonnica does fun songs with Faith like The Popcorn Song, Ravioli and The Shaker Song, they also sing songs like "This Little Light of Mine" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."

The great part about this music therapy is that while it is super fun for Faith, it also helps her work on things like motor skills, cognition, communication, visual and auditory skills. Besides bringing instruments like shakers, bells and the xylophone for Faith to play, Jonnica also brings flashcards with letters, numbers, words and colors. One of Faith's favorite parts though is getting to play Jonnica's pretty red guitar.
working on more than just music
Of all the cool instruments, this is Faith's favorite!
We've only really begun the integrative music sessions this year but I am already noticing differences in Faith and how it is helping her. I'm just as excited as Faith is about this type of therapy and who knows maybe she'll be helping to lead worship one day at church!

Click on the video below to hear Faith and Jonnica's good-bye song.