Winter has come...
What do you do when winter comes? I have heard the Lord say this to me twice and each time, it was accompanied by a MAJOR personal crucible related to my health but more than that, related to my life and MOST importantly, my Spirit.
I sat by my window as I do every morning, prepared to read my Bible, have coffee and talk with the Lord. As I sat there, “I clearly heard him say, “Winter has come”. I found this to be strange given that it was mid-August. In my ignorance, I assumed that perhaps global warming was causing some type of climate shift and that maybe winter would come earlier than usual. A short while later, I would understand the full weight of what God was saying.
As a child my sister, and me suffered from eczema. There were times that it was pretty bad, however, as an adult, hers had pretty much cleared up while mine was only given to short spurts here and there, mainly on my hands.
I mention this because, during this time, I noticed a small, itchy spot on my back and my tummy. When I say itchy, it was like SUPER itchy like I needed one of those cheesy plastic back scratchers shaped like a hand from back in the day. Over time, the spot began to spread out and become larger and more aggressive, almost like angels wings that felt more, in all seriousness, more like the devil!
As the weeks passed, the rash became more intense, spreading over my arms, legs and neck. It was so bad that I would scratch myself with a brush, on the rug, on the edge of walls and I would BEG my husband, Dalton to scratch me. It was constant and incessant…I felt initially, that I could control it, but then my skin became infected and home remedies were not effective; Dalton couldn’t stand to touch me without being grossed out! I don’t blame him now, but then, I did. I wondered what happened to “in sickness and in health or for better or worse”? Our vows were put to the test for sure.
During this time:
· I wondered what I had done that would cause God to allow this to happen?
· I felt so alone and miserable.
· I had SO many questions of God!
· I was bombarded constantly by some family and friends about what I ate that could have caused this? Did I think it could be cancer? Don’t you think you should go to the doctor? The questions went on and on…
· I repented constantly for any and everything I could remember that I might have done to bring this on myself.
· Begged God constantly to have mercy and to please speak to me, please show me what was happening. Heaven was silent…although I could sense, Heaven was also watching…
In the Spirit, I could see what looked like a net with tiny spikes (not sharp enough to cut, but enough to prick and irritate and drive to near insanity) being laid across my back. There was NOTHING I could do about this knowledge, other than to ponder it and endure it.
Previous to this winter season, there had been a number of relationships with sisterfriends that I’d relied on, felt like we were super close, confided in and always showed up for, who didn’t reciprocate the same and who hurt me and disappointed me. As a result, I’d decided, internally, that I was done with women as they were “too shady” and more like vampires, always needing support, yet never lending it. I decided that I was not going to be hurt or let down like that again!
Dalton was another story given that, “umm, we’re married” so what could I do, other than fuss, curse (repented but it happened) and demand that he care for me and honor his vows. I can only imagine how this must have sounded to his ears and to God. I mean as a wife, I felt like I showed up all of the time as a confidant, help meet, friend, nurse and more. So why now in my darkest hour was I left alone?
What if I/we were going through this so God could show Dalton his heart and I had to be the sacrificial lamb (no thanks)! Or, was God trying to show me my heart and reveal to me areas where I needed to heal in relationships to sisterfriends and adjust my expectations back to Jesus? I needed to heal from the past (hence the rash on my back) and in my emotions (hence the rash on my tummy- the seat of our emotions). I hear you Lord!
Additionally, I heard the Lord say to me, when I could hear Him, that this was a spirit of leprosy. The point being that I would one day minister to actual lepers, people who look leprose- feel unworthy/unapproachable and ashamed for their looks and sicknesses. Those who are rejected and despised. Given this experience, I would know deep compassion and more empathy, for this group of people/individuals than I could ever imagine.
This trial lasted six months….
Fast-forward to the next Summer! I was super excited because, I had planned my first ever girlfriends trip- had given myself permission to travel alone, with Dalton’s support, worked to get somewhat of a summer body and was feeling pretty good! “Winter has come”, the voice of the Lord said, again.
I noticed a familiar rash on my neck. It was a little spot, raised/inflamed and itchy. I didn’t necessarily think too much of it because I was focused on going to the beach and enjoying my friend. During my time at the beach, we languished by the pool; slathered sunscreen on, floated around in the lazy river and drank virgin coladas. I was feeling pretty good! By the following week, the same rash had returned but somehow, it was different. The “net” was not there, but the same intense itching, the spread over my entire body, the torment and the frustration had all returned. This time worse than before!
This rash came with inflammation the likes I have NEVER experienced before…cellulitis… which I thought, was reserved for the elderly and severely obese people. If that weren’t enough, I experienced CHRONIC chills. I was cold ALL OF THE TIME!!! FREEZING COLD! This was even scarier because it meant that my circulation was now being affected. I had thoughts of death…not suicide…but a welcoming that if God sent the angel of death for me, I would gladly go. I didn’t want to leave Dalton and Miles, or my family, however, if this was the way that I would spend the remainder of my days here on earth, I didn’t want any part of that. Just saying…
I decided that this time, I would ask for help. I shared my struggle on my Instagram page and my Facebook page and MULTIPLE sisterfriends and men, who are like brothers to me, came to my aid and support with creams, weblinks, food suggestions, prayers, phone calls, thoughts of love and healing and more!
During one of my lowest moments a dear friend called me to share that, in the middle of prayer, she had a vision of me. In the vision, there were angels attending to me and I was covered in white sheets. As they pulled each sheet away, my skin would get clearer and clearer and when they pulled the final sheet off, my skin was completely healed! GLORY TO GOD! She said, “God is healing you and it will come in layers, peeling away, just like an onion. Just hold on!
Dalton, rubbed cream on my rash to soothe me, prayed and laid hands on me, as I begged for prayer multiple times a day! He endured countless, emergency room visits and sleepless nights from all of the tossing and turning I did all while lovingly holding me for short spells because every movement big or small would lead to an itchy fit or begging for him to PLEASE SCRATCH ME!
Throughout this ordeal, my quality of life was truly diminished.
· I scratched my skin until it was infected. I scratched with brushes combs, scrubs, forks, anything that was abrasive and it felt SO good until it didn’t.
· I was in a chronic itchy and painful rotation.
· My skin was in a horrible state and was embarrassing;
· I had no energy;
· I could only wear pajamas (no undergarments) because it was tormenting to have anything touching my skin;
· I didn’t go anywhere unless it was for a short period of time due to itching fits and being unable to have regular clothes on for long periods of time.
I am certain that this was beyond exhausting for Dalton, however SOMETHING had changed. We had changed, He had changed, I had changed…there was grace where there hadn’t been before. There was tolerance where there had previously been frustration. There was compassion where there had previously been apathy and there was touch and affection where previously it had been minimal.
HALLELUJAH! PUPPY (my nickname for my husband) WE PASSED THE TEST!
My skin was healed, thanks to the prayers, antibiotics, the skin cream we concocted and love.
Healing has come…
I woke up Christmas day feeling mournful and weepy. Internally, I said, “No! I will not spend Jesus’s birthday crying and feeling sorry for myself. I am healed and for the first time in months, I can actually go outside and run (something I LOVE to do)!
I laced up my shoes and headed off to a nearby running trail that is gorgeous!
As I entered the trail, I looked up as the sun came up over the trees and I heard the voice of the Lord say to me, “Your healing has come”. He loves me SO much that He took the time to offer me the gift of healing, when on His birthday!!! Who wouldn’t love a God like that?!
All I could do was raise my hands to Heaven and cry aloud, “Father/Abba! I thank you!” I literally ran and cried and shouted hallelujah all along the trail. I was so overwhelmed that I had to sit down to take it all in!
This test lasted 5 months…
The Crucible of Affliction
: a severe test;
: a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development;
: Used for melting a substance that requires a high degree of heat.
Isaiah 48:10 (NIV)
10 See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
What do you do when you have endured back-to-back winters with the Word of healing and suddenly AND without the aforementioned warnings, winter comes back with a vengeance???
Same kind of different
It started as a small rash on my neck, okay been here before…but this time it was accompanied by a ringworm. Ringworm?! Disgusting! Where would I have gotten a ringworm?! There was really just no telling because, I hug everyone, I’m outside alot and I petted tons of dogs. Anywho, no biggie, until it was.
I remember thinking, “I am super over this whole rash situation at this point” and I don’t want to go through this again!” This time felt different and not “good different”. I was just slightly afraid. Mind you the sun had played a role in each of the previous outbreaks and this time would be no different.
My love and I had gone to a nearby town to look at an outdoor exhibit. It was a beautiful, but blistering, hot sunny day in the Carolinas. We decided to take breaks and not to stay in the sun for too long so my skin would not react or become inflamed.
Needless to say, this plan backfired and by the following week the itchy spot on my neck looked like a pair of hands around my neck. As each day progressed, it progressed until every part of my body, from my scalp to my feet was covered in an itching, burning, oozing rash. As you can imagine, by this time, I WAS wondering what happened to the promise of healing God had mentioned to me previously, both through my friend and to me PERSONALLY, on Jesus’ birthday no less!!
This rash bought the full weight of all it could bring with it to include all of the symptoms above plus, insomnia, depression, anxiety attacks, burning searing pain, nagging/gnawing deep, intense itching, fear, chills, shortness of breath, horrible brain fog and the reality that maybe I hadn’t heard God, maybe this was the end, surely I was dying. This went on for months…
I went to the ER again, took the medicines again, this time adding a round of steroids. I went to the ER again, adding another round of antibiotics, an IV of steroids and liquid anti-inflammatory stuff!
People around me were at their wits end, do you think it's this? Is it your vegan diet? Did you eat something? Do you think it’s stress? Do you think it’s something in the house? Do you think its (fill in the blank)? Have you tried this cream? Have you tried this ointment? Have you considered the Immunologist? Have you considered eating meat? Have you considered your detergent? Have you considered a Dermatologist? I’m certain others reasoned to themselves, “she doesn’t look sick to me”!
Have you considered my servant…Patrice? (Job 1:8) This time was different. I could feel the presence of the Lord, He was literally directly next to me, and yet, He NEVER spoke throughout this affliction. He never responded to my cries to send death forward to take me. He never responded as I cried and begged for mercy…He NEVER spoke, but I sensed that He listened. Why are you NOT SPEAKING TO ME?! YOU SAID THAT YOU HEALED ME? I HEARD YOU!
I railed at God! I shouted at God. I felt sorry for myself. I knew this was surely the end. I tried to be brave. I tried to pray the Word over myself. I kept worship music by the bed. I tried to speak words of encouragement, strength and bravery. After all, I’m a soldier of the Lord! I know how to do battle in the Spirit, yet my sword may as well have been made of plastic and my faith a mustard seed that had surely died. Did this mean that I don't really have the faith I thought I had? Did I really believe all of the things I had said to others? How did God feel about all of this weakness I was showing? I wanted to be strong, but I was SO tired. Maybe it would be over soon and I could sleep the sleep of death and this weeping would be no more…
The crazy part is during ALL OF THIS, we still had three businesses to run. I was still helping with our coffee business, still coaching, still training coaches, still doing Proverbs 31 stuff (as best I could), still teaching. Side story…during a coffee set up (we own a mobile coffee bar). A Prophetess came to me and asked to share a Word with me. I jokingly said, “not if it’s a bad word, because I don’t want any bad news”. She proceeded to rebuke me via the Lord. He said to me, through her, “Am I a man that I should lie?! Believe what I have said about you not what man says to you about your situation! Ouch! Believe me! I am not a man that I should lie! I have kept silent because of the way you have approached me. I don’t like it!” She went on to share, “that I hadn’t been sleeping”-I broke down crying at this point. It had been literally days since I’d slept and I was exhausted to the point of breaking down. Then the Lord said, “this has even affected you and your husband’s intimacy. I am restoring that.” I literally almost fell to the floor in tears. He had been there THE ENTIRE TIME! He was Jehovah El Roi-God who sees me! He was/is Emmanuel- God with me!
Dalton and Miles were INCREDIBLE through this time, even more so than before. My parents, my sister, my brother, my friends, my Pastors, EVERYONE showed up for me! They kept me going when I wanted to quit and then one day, the fire came and I couldn’t take it anymore!
I woke up that morning with the feeling that something was different and wrong. I didn’t know what it was until I went and looked in the mirror. Dalton, I said, “something is wrong with my face”. It’s swollen.
We headed to the ER where they prescribed an antibiotic that I hadn’t heard of before and something in my Spirit wanted to reject. In desperation, I took it and went back home.
The next morning, I woke up with the feeling that something was different and wrong. I didn’t know what it was until I went and looked in the mirror. Dalton, I said, “my face is even more swollen”. My face was so swollen that my eyes were closed shut and Dalton had to hold my hand to help me to walk because I could barely see. We headed to the same ER where they diagnosed me with sunburn on top of eczema and placed me on a steroid IV, liquid Benadryl and released me back home with instructions to continue the antibiotic from the day before. I will never forget the doctor’s words that day. “Don’t expect a miracle, this may take two or more weeks to resolve”.
I felt like the woman with the issue of blood, as I/we had spent countless dollars (and had no insurance) on medicines, doctors, ER visits only to come back with no answers or relief.
I felt the presence of the Spirit of torment…day and night… It would come at night as I laid down to sleep and wait for me. “Now, I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…” Sleep NEVER came. I had never suffered with insomnia. My arms, legs and hips were swollen and fluid filled to the extent that I had put on ten pounds of inflammation. It hurt to move. All through the night, my skin leaked strange amber colored fluid from EVERYWHERE! I went through 5-6 towels a night.
The next morning I woke up in complete fear, panic and uncontrollable tears! I was bordering on hysteria. I didn’t have the heart to awaken Dalton a third time to go back to the ER, so in an act of desperation-I called my Mom. My Mom sent my Dad. This is where things began to turn…Mommy would NEVER not come see about me. I’m her baby- and she would never send Daddy in her stead. “Was something wrong, I reasoned?” Daddy came to get me and I cried from the time I got in the truck until we got to the ER.
God showed me, He sent my Daddy, cause Abba came to see about me!!! Catch that in the Spirit! Abba was driving me to the ER so that I could meet with destiny!!! Glory!
*I prayed silently, Father please, let me be met with wisdom and compassion.” I needed answers and I had no money. I needed the help that only a trained professional could provide and I didn’t want substandard care or to be treated poorly due to my inability to pay. This had all been SO humbling.
When I walked in, the same three sweet faces that had been there the other two times were there to welcome me with kindness and grace.
Something strange happened this time. My Pastor- the one who brought me into the ministry, prepared me for marriage, walked me through holiness and taught me how to use my anointing was there in the ER! When she saw me, she said, “I know it’s the Lord!”. In the midst of her own healing crisis, she prayed for me as she had always done, head bowed praying with no sound, lips moving, from within her heart.
How about she was at the “wrong” hospital and left five minutes later. It was then I knew the Lord was there.
They didn’t keep me lingering in the waiting area because of the progression and severity of my symptoms. Purple spots had begun to form and something (even more) strange was happening with my skin.
The P.A., nurses and doctor came in to speak with me and to ask me unusual questions. I answered each one, but never considered them until later. Eventually, the doctor came back and said, “we’re going to admit you”. I felt SO RELIEVED. Again, I knew the Lord had heard me and He was with me. He went on to tell me that they were admitting me to UNC Hospital because the hospital I was at couldn’t treat me. Strange I thought, but nevertheless, I was fine with it.
I know this has been a LONG STORY, BUT WE ARE ALMOST TO THE END.
Four hours later, in the middle of the night, the kindest EMT and ambulance drivers, lovingly strapped me into the back of an ambulance and whisked me off to the UNC Chapel Hill ICU Burn Unit! Wait?! What?! Burn Unit? ICU? I’m able to walk and talk! I look like a burn victim, but I’m not!
When we arrived at the UNC ICU Burn unit, I was met by four of the most beautiful, competent nurses and a P.A. who was equally beautiful and more importantly, they had wisdom and compassion.
They went on tell me the “entire reason” that I was there. They thought that, as a result of the antibiotics I had been given, that I was suffering from a life threatening illness called Steven Johnson Syndrome. I immediately rebuked and bound him. No shade to you Steven, but this “ain’t gonna be my portion”…you heard me!
They lovingly examined me, asked questions and then literally gave me a bath and offered to wash my hair (insert tears). The rash was everywhere and I was leaking and oozing from scabs and sores from my scalp to my feet. They ruled this horrible disease out in minutes and diagnosed it as an extreme eczema flare up and promised to take excellent care of me. They were as angels. They wheeled me to my room and were so kind, compassionate and wise.
The following day, the Dermatologist came in and ordered what is known as “wet wraps”. This is where they take steroid ointment and slather it all over your infected areas- in this case- my whole body; cover you in wet towels and then cover you in warm blankets for two hours. You cannot move and it takes more than one person to do this. They prescribed four treatments of this. The Dermatologist said to me, “you will notice a remarkable difference after the first treatment.” She was correct! It was miraculous and much like being at a spa.
The night of the fourth treatment, I asked Dalton to take a photo of me. When I looked at it, the voice of the Lord spoke to me, reminding me of the vision from my friend so long ago… “In the vision, there were angels attending to you and you were covered in white sheets. As they pulled each sheet away, your skin would get clearer and clearer and when they pulled the final sheet off, your skin was completely healed! GLORY TO GOD! She said, “God is healing you and it will come in layers, peeling away, just like an onion. Just hold on!” SCREAMING GLORY HALLELUJAH!!!
That same night, the nurses came to tell me that they were moving my room. “Why?” I asked. Because you are the only ambulatory patient on this floor and we have a burn victim coming in. I was being move from the 5th floor (Five is the number of grace) to the sixth floor! God said, “you passed this test. You were in the burn unit, because I took you through the furnace of affliction. I bought you here to the burn unit “in the natural” to allow anointed hands to restore you and heal you. You have been elevated and are now released from your affliction.” HEY SHONDO!!! (insert speaking in tongues here)!!! Glory Hallelujah!!! Jesus! I thank you!
***The room they took me too was a private hospital/hotel type room. It was an upgrade! ***
When I tell you I spent the next day worshipping, singing, praising and crying tears of gratitude as I prepared to be discharged for Dalton to come and pick me up. He had to leave me at the Burn Unit. I had to finish the final leg of the furnace alone, but God positioned others to tend to me. I am SO grateful to them and to Him….be ALL GLORY! Amen!
When I tell you I left there leaping like a well-fed calf (Malachi 4:2) released from the stalls with my skin renewed like a child’s (Job 33:25)…only God could have done this and I am SO eternally grateful!!!
The Holy Spirit is my Comforter and my Help! Hallelujah!
*These signs shall follow me… “I shall lay hands on the sick and they SHALL RECOVER!” Mark 16:17-18
I shared this in hopes that it helps you, heals you and inspires you to KNOW THIS:
a. God IS real and He is true to His Word that He will NEVER leave you or forsake you;
b. To lean into your crucible; I had asked God for the gift of healing and laying on of hands. In this, I would be a first partaker.
c. Self care and rest is necessary before, during and even after your trial.
d. We need others and God will send good help and godly assistance!
e. Your prayers are NOT in vain!
f. God will NOT allow you to be put to shame. However, you will be humbled through your trial.
g. The anointing you desire may cost you, but it’s worth it.
h. If we are truly in Christ we will know Him in His sufferings;
i. You’re not alone, physically or spiritually;
j. He is working out a far more eternal weight of glory;
k. He is NOT A MAN THAT HE SHOULD LIE! God is faithful to Himself, His promises and His Word to us through His Prophets.
l. To understand what God is doing requires us to shift our perspective from victimization to suffering to praise;
m. Weeping may endure (for a LONG night season) but JOY COMES IN THE MORNING! Jesus is the bright and MORNING SUN. So, joy comes when He enters into your situation. Invite Him in- just say, “Lord, I need you, please help me.”
n. There is another side and on the other side are joy unspeakable, restoration, strength, compassion, deep humility, clarity, fresh oil and the anointing that accompanies it!
***Please let me know if or how I can assist or serve you. Click here to speak with me: https://coachingwithdrpatrice.as.me/schedule.php.
Love you SO much,
Dr. Patrice Carter
“LET THE REDEEMED OF THE LORD, SAY SO!”