I am an EYEWITNESS of God’s love and promises.

Here is my story.  It is a story about transformation on a physical and spiritual level and about taking stewardship of your eyes and your spiritual life.

Eyewitness news:

Since I was 10, I had to wear glasses.  I was not very good at wearing them or looking after them, no wonder children asked me why I am pulling faces at them (squinting) or why teachers crushed them when I was playing sports (I needed to put them somewhere – for some reason my shoes seemed the obvious solution).  I got by as my eyes were not too bad at that time.

From Grade 8 (Standard 6 in my time) I started to wear them permanently as normal activities became impossible without being able to see properly. Each year my eyes weakened a bit by bit.

When I finished school and university and started working, I decided @23 it was time to safe money and go for LAZIK surgery so that I can be free of glasses and/or soft contact lenses.  I went to a highly recommended eye centre in Rosebank, where they conducted the routine tests they normally do to ensure you are eligible for the lazer operation.  It is standard procedure.  After the tests, I waited a little bit until the specialist called me into his consulting room.  I was expecting to hear when the operation can be one and how much it will cost me.  Imagine my surprise and shock when he told me he will not be able to conduct the surgery on my eyes, because I have a rare disease called

Keratoconus

(It took me months before I could pronounce the word). Needless to say, I was shocked!  When I started to read up on it, I thought my life is over!!

It is a genetically degenerative disease of the cornea, where the surface of the cornea changes due to the collagen bonds weakening, leading eventually to blindness, which will necessitate a corneal transplant. This can happen over weeks, months or years – some people’s corneas stops deforming over time and stabilize, but other people must start wearing hard contact lenses, never requiring a cornea transplant and other people will require a transplant. 

Luckily for me, my life did not end there, the journey with my eyes just started.  10 years later, at 33-35 I was happily married with two small children (1 and 3 years of age) and by this time I had to rely on hard  contact lenses as I was not able to drive legally with the vision I could get from glasses.  To drive legally, you require (20/40 vision in both eyes or 20/30 in one eye if the other eye is blind to drive a car.. For heavy vehicles you need 20/30 in both eyes)

It was a struggle, as my eyes changed over the 5 years of wearing the hard lenses, they became more and more uncomfortable and even painful.  One December I got an ulcer on my cornea in my left eye, causing intense pain and discomfort, I was forced to either wear one hard contact lens in my right eye (with no vision in the other eye) or wearing my glasses which gave me about 70% vision.  After the ulcer healed and a few consultations with specialists later, it was clear that I need to consider corneal transplants. 

The thing I was most scared of @23, became reality 10 years later.  Now it did not feel as if it was the end of my world, the pain and discomfort was greater than the fear of a transplant.  By this time I was classified as LEGALLY BLIND wearing glasses.  With hard contact lenses, I had 20/20 vision, but I could not wear it any more.  With glasses, the optometrists and specialists could not achieve any vision better than 20/200 or 6/60.  6/60 is the cut off point for being legally blind.  It means that a legally blind individual would have to stand 6m away from an object to see it with the same degree of clarity as a normally sighted person could from 60m. 

I had to put my hard contact lenses in my eyes just to be able to drive and then take them out immediately. 

I want to stop and interrupt my story here and take some time to describe some physical effects of being legally blind from my perspective and experience.

Being legally blind:

Is UGLY

Makes you SLOW

Makes you SCARED

Is PAINFULL

Is UNTRUTHFULL

Let me explore each of these five characteristics:

Firstly it is ugly.  I was one day doing fun things with my children on our dining room table.  All of a sudden I realize they are pulling faces at each other and at me (remember they were 2, 4 years old).  Before I started to scold and correct them, I realized that they are just a mirror of my own face! I am the one pulling faces, they just imitate me!  Remember me as a kid pulling faces (squinting)?  Yes, I squinted a lot – it helped me a bit to see what I was doing – if you just get the right angle, you might see the word on the paper.  Pulling faces is UGLY.

Another day I was going shopping.  I remember it clearly.  I was trying to buy some jam.  Now, if you are used to buy, for example, Sunlight liquid, you know it is in the second last aisle, on the top left shelf.  It is a green bottle and you don’t necessarily worry to compare prices as you only buy the one brand.  The jam shopping was a different ballgame altogether.  That day they decided to move things around for the “Back to School” promotions, so the aisle I thought jam is kept, was jammed up with paper and pens and things.  After walking up and down the aisles, I eventually found where they moved the jam to.  Next I needed to find the right type of fruit and the price.  The jams I was interested in, was on the bottom shelfs.  There was no way for me to stand away and see which one is strawberry or apricot.  I had to go down on my knees and kept my eyes close to the bottles to be able to recognize fruits on the pictures of the jars.  After finding the strawberry jam I had to compare the prices between type I and type II.  This was more complicated as the grams from the different jars were different.  I had to be able to read the grams on the jars.  For that I needed to pick up a jar, hold it close to my eyes (almost touching my nose) and try to read.  Imagine this, on my knees in front of the jars, holding a jar close to my nose AND to be able to read the price tag on a small indicator on the bottom of the shelf in small print, I had to kneel further down with my head is about 3 cm away from the price, my chin almost touching the floor…..  At that stage, something told me to look up. I did.  I saw a few astonished shoppers looking at me with a confused expression on their faces (or so it seemed from the distance) and I realized what a strange picture I must make out.  I would have burst out laughing if I was not a little upset and ashamed at that stage.  It was and UGLY picture.

Poor vision makes you SLOW. Thinking of the jam story, it definitely took me much longer than it normally would to find the jam aisle, and to compare the prices.  I also remember when I was driving in an unfamiliar place (before I become “Blind”), it was difficult to read the street names and I had to slow down the car (to the frustration of the other road users) until I was almost on top of the street, before I knew it was the correct place to turn (this was before GPS).  It definitely slowed me down.  At night I was super slow, especially when I was walking outside on uneven surfaces or stairs that was poorly lit.  I needed to feel with my one foot, before I could take a step forwards.  I was walking painstakingly SLOW.  My husband was very patient with me!!

Poor vision makes you SCARED. Scared to drive at night (there was a period of about 3 years where I could not drive at night at all).  I was scared to walk outside, even in shadow during the day as it was confusing me (my depth perception was totally skewed).  I did not want to venture outside at all at night without my husband at my side, holding my arm.  I was too scared to carry my little son outside as I could stumble and all over almost anything. 

The lack of vision is PAINFUL.  I would put my hard contact lenses in just before leaving the house in the morning, drop the children off at nursery school, kiss them (and realized that I did not see the dirty mouths at home – UGLY), go to work, go to the ladies to remove the lenses immediately and put on my glasses, which did not give good vision, but it was better than nothing.  With Contact lenses I had 20/20 vision.  With glasses 200/20 and without anything, less than 200/20!  The glasses helped somewhat, but not enough not to bump myself constantly against tables, chairs, corners, etc.  That was PAINFUL.  I remember my legs were permanently full of blue marks! The hard contact lenses also hurt my eyes, the half hour I had them in was enough to make my eyes bloodshot.  Luckily my colleagues knew me, otherwise they would have thought I’m drunk with the red shot eyes and the staggering and bumping into things the whole time.  The afternoon I had to put the lenses into my eyes again for the drive back home.

Working on the computer had its own challenges.  Not being able to see, I had to change the screen resolution to its maximum, and still I needed to push my head closer to the screen and manoeuvre the mouse a lot to be able to read a document.  Definitely not ergonomically sound.  This caused my shoulder blades to tense up with muscle cramps.  It was PAINFUL.

Poor vision obscures reality, it obscures the truth.  I thought my children’s faces were clean, it was a lie.  I thought the trees outside were so dense with soft, cotton wool leaves, it was not!  One evening Robin called me outside to show me the beautiful moon, I looked up and could not choose which of the 50 moons I saw the beautiful one was, another obscured TRUTH.

Poor vision, poor eyesight is UGLY, it makes you SLOW and SCARED, it is PAINFUL and show you LIES.

I had my first cornea transplant when my youngest was about 2 years old and one year later, the second transplant. Yes, each cornea is from someone that died and whose families decided to donate the corneas.  I will forever be thankful to the families for their decisions, it gave me quality of life, it gave me a new perspective on life.  I sometimes joke and says, now I really see the world through someone else’s eyes!!  But it did, going through this process taught me so much.  It also taught me to take nothing for granted.  The irregularities in my corneas that took me from perfect vision to legally blindness were measured in MICROMETERS, a tenth of a millimetre, you cannot see that difference with normal eyes, but what a difference it makes in your vision!!  Every micrometre in your body is important, it has a purpose, God made you so special, so unique.  We need to care for each and every bit of ourselves. 

{gallery}Eye testimony{/gallery}

After the transplants, it takes 6 months to a year for your eyes to stabilize.  Every week, every month your vision changes, it was impossible to keep up with changing the glasses in my spectacles. 

In the time after the second transplant, we joined one of the local churches in our town, LCF (Life Christian Fellowship), and we fell in love.  I fell in love with the church, the people and the God I got to know on a personal level! During this same time period, I went through a tough time at work. It was as if the teaching was directed to me each and every Sunday!  I have never cried so much in my life!  And the pastor did not even know me and my story. During this recovery period, I started to learn more about real, authentic spirituality.  I realized, being spiritually blind (or short-sighted, is emotionally UGLY, SLOW, CSCARED, PAINFUL and full of LIES, the same aspects I experienced with my physical poor vision.

I realized that when you have spiritually poor vision, you don’t see your own mistakes, you are unable to control your emotions – that makes you and UGLY person. 

Poor spiritual vision makes you SLOW.  SLOW to understand His Word, SLOW because you make wrong choices, take wrong decisions, leading you on various detours in life, SLOW to reach your potential and purpose.

It makes you SCARED, you live in fear.  Fear of A and fear of B.  If your spiritual eyes are not open, you cannot trust God fully and rest in His protection. 

Closed spiritual eyes makes you experience PAIN. PAIN from unresolved issues from the past. PAIN from making wrong decisions. PAIN from wounds not healed yet.

And last, but not least, poor spiritual vision gets you caught up in LIES, half-truths, you cannot see beyond the LIE.

As I grew spiritually at our new church, the following verse meant a lot to me:

Eph 1:18

Message: Your eyes focussed and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is He is calling you to do, grasping the immensity of this glorious way of life He has for Christians.

NIV: I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.

WOW! I knew how it felt to slowly but surely seeing clearly with my physical eyes, and here my spiritual eyes have started to clear up.  You cannot find the purpose in your life if your spiritual eyes are not opened yet.

During this time, we had international visitors at our church.  One Sunday the preached about God’s healing power.  I went forward for them to pray for my eyes.  The lady started to pray, realized I’m going to take more time and asked if she can first pray for the other people and then come back to me.  As I waited her return, I prayed by myself.  In the middle of praying for my physical eyes, I started to say the following:

“Lord, I know I must rather pray for my spiritual eyes, because my physical eyes will get better and clearer as my spiritual eyes opens up. Please help me rather to open up my spiritual eyes.”

I wanted my physical eyes to get better, but as I uttered these words, I realized God will heal my physical eyes, they will not stabilize, and they will slowly but surely improve. God is more interested in my spiritual eyes than in my physical eyes.

From that moment on, my spiritual journey just deepened and I believe with all the opportunities and courses at LCF, it will keep on deepening.

A few months after this incident, I went to our local optometrist (Juhan) to see if my eyes has started to stabilize!  No they did not!  My eyesight improved slightly!

Date: 26/04/2012                           Vision: R 6/15 (20/50) L 6/9- (6/12+) (20/30-, 20/40+)

Date: 31/10/2013                           Vision: R 6/15 L 6/9- (6/12+)

Date:  14/10/2013                          Vision: R 6/9 L 6/9- (6/12+)

Date:  19/01/2015                          Vision: R 6/9 L 6/9- (6/12+)

Date:  25/09/2015                          Vision: R 6/7.5 L 6/9- (6/12+)

Date:  13/01/2017                          Vision: R 6/7.5  L 6/12- (6/12+)

And looking at the result over time, it keeps on improving!

God heard my prayer! My eyes are healed and keeps on improving as I am opening up my spiritual eyes. 

There is currently no medical explanation why my eyes did not stabilize – all other transplant patients’ eyes stabilize after 6 months.  I believe God is healing my eyes as I grow closer to Him.

Opening your spiritual eyes, transform you from

Ugly                   to    Pretty

Slow                   to   Fast       

Scared                to    Courageous and brave

Painful                to   Pain free

Lies/Half-truths     to   Truth

NEVER will lukewarm be good enough anymore. I am hot and LCF was key in this transformation.

Rev3:  To the church in Laodicea

(bits and pieces from the section)

You’re not cold, You’re not hot, You’re stale.  Oblivious that you are a pitiful, blind beggar. And buy medicine from Me so you can see, really see

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