When your plans are diverted

When your plans are diverted

This is your pilot speaking…

The radar lit up like Christmas lights with blobs of yellow and orange surrounding a central area of red situated right over my connection city. My flight was diverted to Knoxville on my way to the national Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America conference. Seems we were running on empty and didn’t have enough fuel to wait out the storm. I am all too familiar with unscheduled stops.


When I de-boarded I noticed a wheelchair sitting on the ramp and it occurred to me, the last time I traveled by plane it had my name on it. Never again will I take the ability to walk for granted. I’m thankful my myasthenia gravis (MG) is controlled; albeit with 14 pills a day and an IV infusion every three weeks.

None of us planned to spend the night in the airport. We could not choose our circumstances, we could only choose our attitude, and it’s highly contagious. Apparently some people thought the airline controlled the weather, but most were pleasant. I met some fascinating people, including a biblical archaeologist. I smiled as I watched grandparents Face time with their four-year old grandson before we finally flew on to Charlotte, North Carolina.


Actually, I was running out of neurotransmitter; my eyelids drooped and my feet dragged. These are the first signs I need to take another pill. I hadn’t stayed up this late since I delivered babies, before my diagnosis forced an unscheduled stop of my career as an obstetrician.


As a member of an online support group, I’ve met other MG’ers from around the world. Only someone with MG can understand what it feels like to have gravity turned up several notches every time you try to move. I consider them genuine friends and they proved it.

Expected to arrive at my destination at 3 a.m. I wondered if an Uber would be available to take me to my hotel. That’s when I received a Facebook message from a fellow MGer who lives 1,000 miles away from me. She was rerouted too and now on my flight. Bonus-she had a rental car.


The rest of the night was a comedy of errors, except sleep deprivation is not funny with this disease. She walks with a cane and sat to rest while I went to baggage claim. Her luggage made it, mine didn’t. I could see her looking more and more like a rag doll, but she never complained. Walking to curb, we looked like we were carrying an invisible load that weighed a ton. Delirium set in when we discovered the shuttle didn’t run and the rental car office didn’t open until 4 a.m. Now it was my turn to wait.

Finally I got to my hotel at 5:15 a.m. and slept a couple of hours before our first meeting. All-nighters used to be an occupational hazard for me. Not anymore. That was a different body and different life.

Still without a clean shirt, my friend pulled into Ross so I could buy a new one and we met a couple of cyber friends for breakfast. We were literally from four corners of the United States, bound together by an online friendship and a disease most people have never heard of.


I can’t recover from exhaustion and in my stupor I set the alarm wrong. I would have missed my flight home except another MGer, who offered to take me to the airport, called and woke me up. You should have seen my weak arms scrambling to organize my suitcase while I sat in the backseat as if I were being chauffeured.

Philippians 4:11, “I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” HCSB

MG is called the snowflake disease because everyone is affected differently. In reality, life affects us all differently. The crux is, are you content in your circumstances?

You may have delays and unscheduled stops in your plans. You may not get to the destination you envisioned. Life deals all sorts of interruptions and diversions. Make the best of it. Enjoy the people who cross your path and be thankful for the blessings.

Snowflakes are fragile, unless linked #IHaveHeardofMG #TogetherWeAreStronger Click To Tweet

Our muscles are weak, but our wills are not. Together we are stronger.

Thanks for helping promote MG awareness during June. Spread the word. If you know anyone with MG please encourage them to stay tuned for more info about an upcoming support group and click her to watch a video about the walk to”Stomp out MG.” To get us all connected we are encouraging all patients to register with the MGFA. 



Don’t tell me I can’t

Don't tell me I can't

Take me to the brink. I want to feel the power and hear the rush. We stared over the ledge, mentally measuring the switchbacks.

“Are you sure you can make it?”

No, I’m never sure I can finish, I’m only sure I can start. So that’s what I do-I start. My dad always said, “It’s better to have tried and failed than to never try at all.”

Maybe. Unless you’re three-quarters of a mile down a mountain and your muscles refuse to obey your brain..


Whenever someone tells me I can’t do this or that, I want to throw a rock at their shin. Don’t worry, you’re safe, my aim is lousy. Besides, I don’t listen anyway. I am like a two-year old who wants to do it BY MY-SELF. But I can’t.

Matthew 19:26, “Jesus looked hard at them and said, ‘No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.'” MSG


Sometimes I feel like a failure before I ever start. Can anyone relate? Myasthenia gravis makes me feel broken. My immune system is haywire, my neuromuscular junctions are defective and my muscles are soft. I can’t do what I used to do, then again, most people can’t do what I used to do. If I focus on my inability, I would live in despair. It’s a temptation I have to fight.

The only disability in life is a bad attitude.~ Scott Hamilton

Deuteronomy 31:8, “The Lord is the One who will go before you. he will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.” HCSB


When I have a few good days in a row, I think I am in remission. You know, always the optimist. Though my health is markedly improved, remission continues to elude me. In some ways, my life is almost back to normal, but my eyes are now open to how far normal is from where God wants me. I’m simply not satisfied with normal any more

Philippians 1:10, “For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.” NLT


I am thankful God loves me enough not to let stay where I am. He doesn’t want me comfortable, He wants me to grow. Someday I will look back and be glad the boat got rocked and changed course. Though it’s tempting to want my old life back, complete with flaws, this new dependence and relationship with God is worth it. But it’s hard. Every single day.

Philippians 4:!3, “I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” NIV


On any given day, I am never sure if I can make it to the brink and back. But I know Christ gives me the strength to do the impossible, even if it’s not physical. I don’t listen when people tell me I can’t. You shouldn’t either. They’re totally wrong. What impossible situation do you need strength to change? Only through Christ can you:




Philippians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” NIV


I’ll be honest, being vulnerable and allowing people past your walls into your life and your heart may cause pain. In fact, it may seem like a total failure. But it’s worth the risks. So at least get started. Keep trying, God equips us with everything we need.

When you get there, the view from the top is spectacular.

2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” ESV

What you see is not what I get

High heels and handicaps

Myasthenia gravis is an invisible illness

This rare neuromuscular disease causing profound weakness is often misunderstood because weakness is invisible.

Weakness is invisible

You never know what will happen when you spend the night in a hotel room with a stranger. I needed a room for the first night of the conference and Jamie had an extra bed at the hotel. Turns out we were well-suited to be roomies. We both got a laugh over the fact that I didn’t realize she is in a wheelchair. She is highlighting various disabilities on her blog, Jamie’s Thots, and allowed me to contribute an article about what I wish people knew about myasthenia gravis (MG).

I could have written a book; I probably will.

What I wish people knew about myasthenia gravis #IHaveHeardofMG Click To Tweet
Invisible illnesses are hard for people to understand

I consulted my MG brothers and sisters around the world and posed the question, “What is one thing you wish people knew about myasthenia gravis?”  I tried to include every issue raised, hence enough material for a book.

2 Corinthians 1:6, “If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” NIV

I hope you will read my post (which has already been shared about 500 times!) on Jamie’s blog.


Click HERE to read my guest post.

Thanks for the support from fellow MGers #IHaveHeardofMG Click To Tweet

If you are visiting my blog, I would love to send my weekly posts to your inbox. I’ll need your email address above the JOIN ME ON THE PORCH button.

I would love to hear from you on my Facebook page too, especially if you or someone you know has myasthenia gravis or a related chronic illness.

I have found blessings in adversity and want the opportunity to encourage you.

And speaking of Jamie, I recently interviewed her on My Journey of Faith radio broadcast. You can listen HERE.

2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.” HCSB

Sharing spreads awareness. Thanks.


Me and my broken dog

Me and my broken dog

We can’t be whole apart from Jesus

Relationships consist of broken people. Or in this case, a broken dog. Please don’t be offended, but I was never an animal lover. I’ll admit the whole fur baby mentality made no sense to me, at least not until this canine beauty came along.

I mean seriously, look at those eyes. Even a cold heart would melt.

Now she is crippled. My dog is broken.

Proverbs 12:10, “A righteous man cares about his animal’s health.” HCSB


Three years ago, this dog converted me and I’m plain stupid over her. I mean, she rides in the passenger seat of my car. Since my family was insanely active, I chose an Australian shepherd. We ran the streets, the park, hiking trails and around the pond on my property. Though I swore I would never allow an animal inside my house, the endless shedding is worth her companionship. She loves to fetch a ball, play Frisbee and tug of war. She’s quiet social, but especially adores kids allowing them to wallow on her. But, she does not like the mailman, not one little bit.

Matthew 6:25, “Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” MSG


Despite the fact that she was only a puppy when I became disabled with myasthenia gravis, my furry bundle of energy sat down at my feet and parked herself. Dogs have an uncanny connection to their humans. She never insisted on playing; she was simply by my side. When I was away for 16 days for surgery, she sunk into a deep depression  and nearly exploded with excitement when I returned.

Genesis 7:1-2, “Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals.”  NIV


As my health improved, so did her energy. Now she selects a toy and whimpers for me to play. I can’t run with her, but she accepts that and we walk a little and I throw the ball when I can. But she has one bad habit – she chases that threatening mailman who invades our domain every day. She must have finally caught his car because I came home to find her skinned up, a little bloody and with a dislocated hip. The damage is permanent and now I have a disabled dog.

Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” NASB


It’s my turn to be her companion. We are broken together. I suspect it’s a requirement for all relationships since none of us are whole, perfect or complete. When we recognize our own lack rather than focusing on another’s then we can simply be together. Broken together, and that’s enough.

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete,
Could we just be broken together?
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I’ll bring mine,
Could healing still be spoken … and save us.
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together ~Casting Crowns.

Hebrews 11:40, “Since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” NIV 


These powerful lyrics apply to all relationships:

  • parents and children
  • husband and wife
  • friends
  • pets and humans
No relationship can succeed unless we offer our brokenness to each other. #brokentogether Click To Tweet

Only Jesus is whole, therefore we cannot be whole apart from Him. All other relationships consist of two broken people or in this case, a broken person and a broken dog. Anything else is merely a fairy tale.

My beautiful Aussie is broken, just like me. Don’t worry, we will get along just fine.

Matthew 25:36, “I was sick and you visited me.” NKJV

Disclaimer: It may not have been the mailman and if so, it was not his fault.

What are you doing here?

What are you doing here-

I came to rest. Why did you come?

The last time I was in the Big Apple I went home battered and bruised. A robot intentionally punctured my left lung and I left the city with multiple scars, including one from the rigid plastic tube inserted into my chest to re-inflate my lung and two on my neck from a stiff plastic catheter in my jugular. It wasn’t much fun.

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While you were praying, I was putting

While you were praying


It’s not funny.

Oh I attempted a little humor, but really, it’s not funny.

All the way around it was an epic fail.


On Christmas Eve, I had a tingly itch on my back. When I scratched, my fingernails felt like a hot razor on my skin. Then I felt a linear ridge where two weeks of pain were attributed to an injured rib from an eye-bulging, incessant cough with no identifiable cause which had plagued me for eight weeks. I lifted my shirt and looked in the mirror to see reindeer tracks on my side. See that’s a joke, but since I am obviously terrible at jokes let me explain. As a consequence of taking powerful immunosuppressants to control my disease, I developed shingles.

I thought of a clever play on words (in case you didn’t know I like words) so I posted on my  Facebook wall,

My new favorite Christmas song is Shingle bells Shingle bells.

I was trying to be funny and the pain wasn’t too bad

It was a rare December day with phenomenal weather; abundant sunshine, little wind and record-breaking, seventy degree temperatures. I must have gotten the super juice with my last IVIG infusion because myasthenia gravis was behaving quiet nicely too. As an added bonus, my son was home from college. Life was good. So after I posted, I headed to the golf course and managed to play four holes.

Meanwhile replies to my Facebook post blew up. As I read them I envisioned a community wide prayer vigil cranking up.

And I was on the golf course

1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” KJV

Apparently my post evoked visions of me writhing in pain, valiantly trying to keep my chin up and encourage others with my, albeit limited, wit. Realizing I mislead people, I attempted to paint a clearer picture, so I posted a silly update,

Well after further testing it appears I was actually run over by a reindeer in my sleep.

I expected all manner of comments about drinking eggnog or vermin in my yard. Nope, people were still praying for me. Honestly, the pain was not intense. Tendonitis in my elbow, migraines and a ruptured disc in my neck caused far greater suffering. Only a few people recognized my flailing effort at hilarity and one suggested Rashing through the Snow, as an alternative to Shingle Bells.

Then it got ugly

It was an ambush. Either someone whacked me in the back with a sledgehammer or the virus viciously invaded my spine. My valor quickly turned to whimpering and suddenly I would have traded shingles for ten migraines. Maybe I deserved it; probably so. Prayers, uh yeah, I desperately needed them now. The curtains closed on my satirical routine. Since I am a lousy comedienne anyway, I suppose I will stick to more serious matters. I should have known years ago when I offered to draw my kids a map to the dishwasher and they told me, “Sarcasm does not become you.”

That’s too bad. Occasionally I like it

Forgive the hint of snarkiness, admittedly my sense of humor is a little warped and my posts aren’t always taken the way I intended. Sometimes I am teasing and taken too seriously. So to set the record straight, I do not have cancer, I do have shingles. The prognosis is good, however my funny bone is terminally ill. Sorry, I’ve got to stop. If it’s any consolation, my golf game was terrible. A foreboding discomfort in my back affected my swing. I guess I probably deserved that too.

Please pray for me

In all seriousness, I truly covet your prayers. I had no idea how much I needed them. Your prayers and encouragement mean the world to me. Please keep praying for me. Pray for my strength. Pray the words of my mouth would be pleasing to the Lord. Pray for world peace  and pray for your lost neighbor. But don’t worry about a few red bumps, I’m trying to laugh it off.

Colossians 4:4, “Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” NIV

Humor me and laugh. Don’t take life, or me, too seriously.

And next time, you play and I’ll pray for you


Philippians 1:4, “Always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer.” HCSB

If you have a specific prayer request, email me privately: vickie@vickiepetzhenderson.com. I am dedicating January to pray for you.

Praying for you with joy #Phil1:4 #prayhard Click To Tweet

I made friends with my enemy

I made friends with my enemy

Strength is measured in how you handle weakness.

I’m trying to find the sweet spot; the balance between love and hate. I hate it but I need it. Since I apparently can’t function without it, I’m  learning to live with it. Strength is measured in how you handle weakness.


Although I haven’t been on a roller coaster since I developed myasthenia gravis, I love the feel of wind in my hair and adrenaline in my veins. The beating of wings in my stomach just before the car reaches the peak and plummets down the big drop gives me a rush. Except I am stuck there. Welcome to the world of steroids. Stuck at the top, anticipating the thrill but the thrill never becomes reality and the feeling never goes away. It robs my sleep, it robs my bones and to be honest, it makes me a little nutty at times. I suppose there is a reason it’s called an emotional roller coaster. I love roller coasters, but not emotional ones and I hate prednisone.

1 Peter 4:12-13, “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.”MSG


A couple of months ago I was riding my bicycle short distances and I hiked to Hawksbill Crag, then I got cocky. Six days late on my IVIG infusion and and determined to wean off prednisone, my optimism convinced me remission was around the corner. When I thought I was strong, I got weaker, not just physically. Now I know, the evil steroids are necessary and I must stay tethered to the pump on a pole for seven hours every three weeks. Period.

James 1:2, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” ESV


The key to finding joy in trials is to stay tethered to the One who knows your pain, knows your limitations and suffered innocently so we wouldn’t be separated eternally. As soon as I get stronger I tend to drift. I think I can forgo the remedy. It’s the nature of the beast-the disease and my spiritual walk. So I get out my Bible, my index cards and my prayer journal and attach myself to Jesus Christ. Some days I just need a little more tape. My heart is prone to wander and must be tightly bound.

1 Peter 4:1, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in the flesh, equip yourselves also with the same resolve-because the one who suffered in the flesh has finished with sin.” HCSB


My moon face is gone though I still cringe when I see photos of myself. Sorry, I’ll work on the sin of vanity another day. By the way, is that camera lying or did someone take me apart like Mrs. Potato Head and put my eyes back on all wonky? Goodness, I think I’ll throw the mirror away. I admit I am dependent. I resolve to look up and focus on the joy.

Hebrews 12:2, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”NASB


At 5 milligrams of prednisone the diabetes melted away and the fatigue was conquered, but I couldn’t do anything. I know I look normal, you can’t tell when I am struggling to chew meatloaf. When I had to rest after applying makeup it was time to make friends with my enemy, so I increased the dose. I want to live a little. Actually, I’m greedy. I want to be strong and firm and steadfast-physically and spiritually. Oddly, It requires complete dependence.

1 Peter 4:10, “And the god of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” NIV

We all have weaknesses. We all need to be tethered to Christ. He is strong and able to hold us together. Storms are inevitable and some are hurricanes. Make sure you are tightly bound to the Rock. Anchor yourself to Him and you will survive. So will I.

Strength is measured in how you handle your weaknesses Click To Tweet

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What is on the other side?

What is on the other side?

Most people have the date of their death etched onto their tombstone. My friend, Mike, writes his on a piece of cardboard with a Sharpie pen.


Unfortunately, my life is divided into before I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis (MG) and after. I don’t want to be defined by my disease but nevertheless it characterizes every aspect of my life. In many ways, my illness is the axis on which I turn. When I go out in public I wonder if there is a neon sign on my forehead. Sunday I traded my neon sign for a cardboard one. Simple cardboard testimonies show complex life changes.


Because of MG

I am weak

butHe is strong

2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” ESV

I not only boasted about my weakness, I wrote it on a piece of cardboard and held it up for as long as my trembling arms would cooperate.


We stood shoulder to shoulder with squares raised, and proclaimed God’s faithfulness in our pain and suffering. One side of cardboard proclaimed the deaths of spouses, children and unborn babies. Cancer, autism and heart disease showed up too. Chronic pain, illness, infertility and abuse stood beside job loss, divorce and alcoholism. Many of us know each other well, others only know the stories. Some we didn’t know at all, but their personal struggles were written in Sharpie pen for everyone to see.

Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God:  those who are called according to His purpose.” HCSB


As each of us flipped our cardboard signs, spontaneous applause echoed through the sanctuary. It reached a crescendo as the last one walked across the stage and we collectively raised our signs. Everyone stood to their feet and many wiped tears.

Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” KJV


The rejoicing was not in response to the first side, it was for the flip side; the side proclaiming God’s redemption in every difficult situation. Imagine if we held up the before and never turned it over. Who would applaud? Without God, who could rejoice in their pain, who would be restored from their addiction? Would there be any joy or hope?

Have you turned over your obstacle? Name your struggle, face your enemy and bring it into the open. I encourage you to literally write it down and confront it in ink. But please, don’t stop there. Flip it over and let God write the end of your story. He redeems all things.

Genesis 50:20, “Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now – life for many people.” MSG


It’s not the date you are born or the date you die that matters, but how the dash in between is lived. I guess Mike did pretty good with the first dash so he got a second one. My grandfather did that too. Mike’s flip side read,

Death-defying God

John 16:33, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.” MSG


If you are facing adversity, write it on a piece of cardboard. Then turn it around and  let God write on the other side. He writes spectacular endings.

Joel 2:25, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…” NIV

How to make Christmas special

How to make Christmas specialChristmas was different last year.

I couldn’t do much.

I couldn’t shop.

I couldn’t decorate.

I couldn’t host any parties.

I couldn’t cook.

Thanks to myasthenia gravis, I couldn’t even walk but a few feet.

Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ESV


It was a special season. Online shopping took less time and less money, not to mention eliminated the stressful hustle and bustle. A friend volunteered to decorate my house and with my mother’s help, it looked much better than when I decorated myself. I was given a present; Ann Voskamp’s book The Greatest Gift. This interactive book helped me focus on advent. Indeed, it was a special season.

Exodus 33:14, “Then He replied, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'” HCSB


This year I can walk and drive but I am not shopping. My family has decided to forego exchanging gifts entirely. I feel free. I’ve asked my friend to come back and help decorate. Also I want to read the book again. But it really isn’t a book to simply read, it is a book to do. I expect it will be a special season again.

Luke 8:40, “Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him.”NIV


You're invited

My friend Kim has a unique invitation so we can do the book together.  I am looking forward to it and I hope you will join us.

CLICK HERE to join Hunt and Host‘s ARTISTIC EVENT.

She’s pretty talented. If you don’t believe me, check out Hunt and Host on Pinterest. If you follow me, I have a few of Kim’s projects pinned so you can look there.

Luke 2:13, “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven-praising God…” NLT


Since we aren’t going to have presents to unwrap on Christmas, we aren’t exactly sure what we are going to do. Obviously we will eat and probably play games, but I would love to hear your family traditions and ideas for making Christmas special.

Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased.” NASB


Of course the true gift is Jesus. To make Christmas special, we are going to have to focus on Him. After all, Christmas is supposedly a season to commemorate His birth, but I rarely see it. This year I plan to look harder.

Matthew 2:2, “Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him.” KJV

The advent begins December 1 so be sure and sign up before then. I look forward to our journey together.

I expected my orange to be orange

I expected my orange

I’ve never been afraid to kill a plant. Let’s just say there have been many botanical casualties under my watch, or lack thereof. The plant-loving workers at the greenhouse probably cried whenever I left with my selections, knowing the move to my house was likely terminal. While strolling through the greenhouse looking for my next victim, I stopped abruptly and cranked my head around to identify the source of an intoxicating scent. Inhaling deeply I honed in on a skinny tree vaguely labeled “citrus tree.”  Unsure if a tropical tree could even grow in Arkansas, I loaded it up and took it home.

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