Monthly Archives: June 2014

Snakes and 5-Year Plans

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What’s your snake? God promised us that we’d be able to pick up vipers and not be harmed. What is it in your life that could be considered a snake? (I’m praying it’s not an actual snake. I don’t know where you live.) Paul shook that snake off his hand like it was nothing; it didn’t faze him. (Acts 28:3-6) I like how The Messages states he was “none the worse for wear.” Snakes attack and poison our lives, whether they are thoughts or actual occurrences. God knows what we’re dealing with and walks with us hand-in-hand, bites and all.

The point is: we’re gonna get scarred in this life. We have to walk paths that we never planned. No one plans for sickness, cancer, or any of the numerous other diagnoses. (I don’t think I’d want to hang out with them if they did. Talk about a Debbie Downer.) This journey I’m on right now wasn’t exactly in my 5-year plan. (*attempting to remember where I placed my 5-year plan. Oh wait, I didn’t have one. Maybe that’s the reason I got sick!)

The snakes in our lives aren’t going to just drop off on their own. That snake that bit Paul as he stood by the fire didn’t see that he was a man of God and decide to let go. Paul had to act. Given, I wouldn’t need an instruction booklet on how to wiggle around if there was a snake on my hand, but I’m trying to work around to a point here, ok?

We choose to act. We choose how we will react to the various circumstances that we’re bombarded with. Paul didn’t say, “God!!! Loooooook at what happened!! Deliver me!!” (In the scenario in my head, he did this in a 15-year-old squealing girl voice.) He acted like he knew who he was in Christ and reacted accordingly. No big thing. Faith, trust, and knowledge of who God Himself said he was runneth over from his cup.

We can’t sit around pouting, wondering why bad things happen to all of us good people. We are to expect and be ready for the attack! Turns out, that’s what the enemy of our soul does. He attacks. He bites. And it’s up to us, as God’s sons and daughters, to act. We act. We shake it off! That’s what we should be ready for. The devil is not going to leave us alone and if you are a new Christian who thinks he’s supposed to now, I’m sorry. You were misinformed. You have now registered for the fight of your life, and for the lives of those closest to you. We are not supposed to hunker down, waiting in our little bubble for Jesus to come back! (At least I didn’t get a bubble? Did you get a bubble??)

God is with us before and after we realize we’re in a battle. He already told us this: He’s walking right beside us. Get out your Bible today and be reminded of who you are and what you’re capable of when the snake bites.

Trees in the Ocean

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The Bible says he, meaning Abraham, “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” (Romans 4:20 King James Version) How often do we “stagger”? If we have faith like a mustard seed, we can say to mountains and mulberry trees, “Go!” and watch as they do what we say. Why aren’t all believers movin’ mountains and trees these days? Or are they? Are you?

We are to be about His work, our faith on display. And all it takes is one teeny tiny wave to bump us. Suddenly, our boat’s crashing into that mountain or mulberry tree, (Although I think it may be odd if it were in the middle of an ocean, I’m no expert. It could be there from someone else sayin’ “Go!” I suppose.) We can still say “Move!” at this point, although it seems silly, and we’re left repairing the damage to our vessel. Could it be possible that we could avoid some obstacles by spending time with God?

Not only are we stuck mending our boat, but we call out for God as if He’s left us. “Whaaat? Where are you? You promised You’d never leave me!” we scream, soaking wet from waves and tears. All the while, He’s the One working it out so that we don’t drown. I picture Him lovingly shaking His head, saying O ye of little faith, someday you’ll get it.

So how do we build our faith? I think we keep track of what our face, specifically our eyes and mouths, does. We watch what our mouths say when the boat shifts. We don’t go back to our old way of speaking, and we fix our eyes on our Creator as we go through our waves. Instead of looking over the side of our boat as it rocks, focusing on the waves and how many more may come, fix our eyes. We fix our eyes on what He’s done and what He’s doing, not on us, our problems, or what we’re doing. It’s all about Him and His plan. What we’re going through is not surprising to Him.

Our minds are bombarded with ideas and beliefs of this world. (“World Wide Web” ring a bell?) When’s the last time you were still, being restored by what God says about your situation. Faithful is He that calls us. We are to be like Him, more and more every single day. That means faith should rise up along with the waves as our boat travels exactly where God wants us to be.

Less Overwhelmedness

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How do we trust? What do you trust? Do you trust that everything’s gonna work out ok or do you trust that it won’t? Do you trust the God Who created you or do you trust what the world says? How do we change our mindset? How do we go from discouragement to courageous?

We renew ourselves. And I don’t mean going to get a haircut, mani, and pedi, although that sounds wonderful. We stick our noses into the only living book out there, The Bible. God has a plan for our lives and we can live so much more abundantly (think happiness and less overwhelmedness) than what we are today.

If we take the time out, even if it means getting up earlier than usual, we will be restored and renewed and refreshed. For me, re-energized would be nice to have in there as well and I think it is. I’ve been having trouble making it through my days. Symptoms hit (trouble breathing, shooting pains throughout my body, dizziness, balance issues, muscle fatigue) and I collapse not knowing what to do. I will be seeing a rheumatologist next month. I’ve seen one before to no avail and I’m trying to trust that there are answers within this appointment. Until then, I’m using the time to learn to trust instead of stress and lose my hair, although I’m doing that too it seems, no matter how much I read. This article feels entirely too self-serving with complaints but I shall force myself to publish as it is honest. I have felt as though God is not listening. When the pains come, I pray or my husband prays, and guess what: the pains do not stop. I do not miraculously feel like getting up, doing my hair, and putting my makeup on. Immediately I think I’m doing something wrong. I didn’t use the right words, the secret unlocking code to God’s power. I know, however, this is not the case as many people in the Bible had no clue what to do and were healed. The woman with the blood issue (why is it always “the issue of blood”? Forgive me for changing it if you find that irreverent. It’s kinda throwin’ me off too.) knew that if she touched His clothes she’d be healed. That’s faith. The man on the stretcher, his buddies had enough faith to lower him through the roof. Faith. Trust. How do we get more?

I feel like I need an extra helping as I’m filled with this overwhelming sense of doubt. Doubt that this doctor will find anything, doubt that answers are out there, doubt that the meds will work, doubt that there are meds for whatever this is, doubt that this has a name, doubt that I want it to have a name.

The doubts outweigh the trust as you can see. I can say I trust God, but what does that really look like? Sitting? I can do that. Reading? I can do that. The plan for today’s mission in trust is to carry my Bible with me everywhere I go and open it as often as I think about opening it. Prayers that you will draw closer to God today.

Background at the Forefront

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Let me begin by saying I’m trying my best to follow where God leads me here. I have no desire to put myself first (ok, maybe a little) but most days I’m content to stay in the shadows. As I look back over some of the very ugly, stupid choices I’ve made in my life, I feel the need to place blame. Unfortunately, it lands on me.

I was a drinker for many years and I’m sure you can use your imagination as to what kinds of choices alcohol and its addiction brings about. God protected me in so many ways, but also let me screw up. We are given those choices to make, based many times on where we’ve placed ourselves, and we have to manage the consequences. I have thoughts of pure shame regarding the hell I put myself through. I suppose I literally brought hell into my life. It was chaotic and confusing and our God is not one of either of those.

I remember wanting to quit drinking but was unable to picture my life without it. It’s a really strange place to be now as I have people tell me they can’t picture me drinking or smoking. That statement in and of itself is a testament to how powerful my God is. He showed up HUGE in my life when I needed Him the most. He loved me when all I could do was ask, “Where in this hell are you?? It’s too much for me to handle and you’re nowhere to be found. I knew I couldn’t count on you. What do I have to do to get you to do what you said you would?” (Notice no capital ‘y’ as I wasn’t exactly showing much respect at that point. I can’t turn the “editor” in me off so I had to explain myself.) Looking back, I realize I had to let go of His hand before I was able to throw my hands up in the air and ask where He was! How ridiculous is that?

He was there the whole time, waiting for me to have that “Hmmmm…AHA!” moment. Thank You God for being merciful and forgetful!! New mercies and no memory of past faults are like a big, fuzzy blanket. They wrap around you and warm you until you think you get it. Then the next time you forget and get chilly, they wrap around you again and you’re reminded of that comfort that only He can provide.

Our past can be the cause of those chills I think. I shudder not only to think of some of the things I’ve done, but all the things I haven’t accomplished because of my chosen track. “Where could I be? If only I had…” Regrets. See? God tried to save me from those regrets but I chose to head down that wide path. We try to throw the blame someone else’s way but it boomerangs back and hits us in the forehead. That’s when we need to get up off the ground, acknowledge that we were wrong, and repent. Eek! “Repent.” That word scares so many. I personally think of the guy holding the sign while standing on a busy street corner. Nonetheless, repenting simply means “to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past conduct; regret or be conscience-stricken about a past action, attitude, etc. To feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better; be penitent. To remember or regard with self-reproach or contrition: to repent one’s injustice to another. To feel sorry for; regret: to repent an imprudent act.” (Thank you Dictionary.com!) Um, that’s me, fer sher.

My prayers today are for those that feel they can’t get themselves out of that muck that they’re stuck in. And to you, as I pray you’re reading this, I say, don’t even try. You’ve probably already tried before anyway and you’re right back where you started, most likely even deeper. Apologize (aka repent) and let God fix it from there. There is nothing He can’t handle, especially when you’re in a place where you feel as though you can’t handle anything. I’ve been there. I thought I’d never leave there. But I did and you can too. God pulled me out of the muck and is using my background to help others. Nothing is wasted.

Spoons and Legos

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I just found a spoon under my keyboard. A green, plastic spoon. Life as a mom is full of occurrences such as this one. Mason jar lids in the bathtub, floss picks in bed, and of course, the old standy-by, Legos on the floor (that turn into razors at nighttime, as the joke goes). I never thought my life would change quite so much when I was blessed with two small human beings to go on this journey with. I’ve never been quite so anxiously nervous, worriedly careful, spontaneously following a schedule and scheduling spontaneity, in my life. As it turns out, kids try your patience. Who knew? And why didn’t you tell me? Eh, I wouldn’t have listened.

Being a mom is an everyday roller coaster of emotions. “Ahhh, they’re finally sleeping. Dang it! They’re awake. Where do all these dishes come from? Yes! They love what I cooked! That DOES NOT go in the toilet!! NOTHING goes in the toilet! Welllllll….Nooooooo, don’t write on the TV! Ugh, will you pleeeeeeeeeeease listen to me? I mean it, it’s TIME for bed! NO, YOU CANNOT HAVE ANOTHER CUP OF WATER! Ahhh, they’re sleeping.” *Cue door slam or something heavy to hit the floor.

It’s every day and it’s every emotion it seems. God provides strength for each and every day and each and every emotion. If He did not, lemme tell you, I would not be here. He provides strength whether we specifically ask for it or not. I say this because I don’t always remember that what we ask for is ours. It is ours. Can it be this simple? Wisdom, strength, true happiness and joy are ours if we ask for it. Today, ask your Holy God, who also happens to be your Dad, for what you need. Whether it’s strength for your aching back as you attempt to rinse a little girl’s hair in the tub or freedom from the depression that keeps trying to pull you into the pits of hell, He’s there for you. He promised. Put Him to the test and He will not fail you. He can’t.

The NRR

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So here I sit. This is one of my favorite ways to begin an article. I’m not sure but what I haven’t started out this way then removed the first line about 18 times. I feel as though I’m letting God down in that I am supposed to wake up early and write. I can’t seem to drag myself out of bed. 5:45. Before the kids get up. For one month. That was the deal. I am having issues with going to bed earlier or maybe the kids are having issues with going to bed earlier. Either way, I have a lot of excuses. It’s amazing how many I can come up with. My alarm rings at 5:45 and I shut her down. The body is weak. This body feels weaker than more than some. My spirit is thirsty for more God. Do you ever get that way? I just need more God. I need answers. I need secrets. I need peace. I need comfort. I need more reminders that it’s all gonna be alright. My shoulders dropped 2 inches away from my ears just typing that.

We go through trials. Some hard, some very hard, and some excruciatingly hard. Notice there are no easy trials? (That’s another thing I’ve been thirsty for…some easy ones.)

My body has betrayed me lately. I can’t do everything I need to do, much less want to do. The promise was given in 2009 that I was healed. I believed it then and I believe it now. Easy as that. Ha! Hilariously untrue! I have to battle each and every day to believe that God knows what He’s doing. Some days it just doesn’t look like it. The fact of the matter is I have to give up control. I once read that many people who have a fear of flying wouldn’t if they got to fly the plane. Having faith is anything but easy, especially when you’re the topic at hand.

Someone told me “it’s only symptoms, you’re healed.” This helped me for awhile. Every time I would get dizzy and have to grab onto the nearest sturdy object or my arms would go slack when I needed them most, I would speak, “These are only symptoms.” Maybe I’m wrong, but healing to me looks a whole lot like NO symptoms. What’s the point of being healed if the symptoms continue?? I could stay sick and the outcome would be the same.

I go about doing what I would normally do, if there is such a thing. I take care of the kids (2 under 3), clean the house, see a couple speech therapy clients, go shopping for items like chia seed, seaweed, flax and avocados, and then wind up sitting. Sometimes I sit with my head between my knees to attempt to stop the world from engulfing me. Many times, my arms will give out, meaning I can’t make them move. It’s like the signal from my brain to my hands has shorted. My battery has suddenly drained and I can no longer go. My face will stop working and I can’t smile, nor do I have the energy to speak much. I am dizzy and lightheaded and unable to get up by myself. (Lord, I pray this is helping someone because I suddenly feel naked in front of the class.)

My world goes on around me, mainly because of the love of my life and best friend, who also just so happens to be my husband. He takes care of the kids, makes PB sandwiches, gets down on the floor, and shows off some pretty spectacular dance moves to distract. My daughter will approach slowly, like sneaking up on a deer, and quietly ask, “Mommy, are you ok?” to which I reply, “Yes, baby, I’m ok,” followed up by, “Will you get me some juice?” I pray I’m done with these episodes soon and she doesn’t recall a thing.

After a few minutes of this reminder that I need God, I begin to yawn like I can’t possibly get enough oxygen where it needs to be. Then the pains come; sharp, shooting, sword-like pains move throughout any and all parts of my body, muscles, joints, head, anywhere. I don’t know where the attack will come, but it can sometimes take me down and knock the wind out of me and my spiritual sails. Which then causes me to ask questions such as, “Um God, where are you? What did I do to deserve this? When will this be over? How am I going to take care of my kids? Do you think a veggie pizza might help?”

After this, it’s to the NRR (New Red Recliner…I couldn’t let the acronym go. It makes me feel very hip and trendy…although now I’m questioning if truly hip people use the word “hip.”)
Nonetheless, sometimes I hear a couple dwarfs chanting, “I go, I go, it’s off to rest I go.” And I rest by taking a short nap. A lot of the time, I’m so much better upon waking. I get up and I can go again for a few hours, doing what I need to do. I refuse to let whatever this is beat me. I teeter on those words yet have to be careful not to push myself too far or I pay for it that day or the next. Someone called this the “push-crash syndrome.” You push too much then crash the next day.

Maybe this is part of my own personal therapy, but I have to be really honest, I hate sharing this. It seems weak. It seems self-loving. It seems ugly and it seems defeating. It is my honest hope that this helps someone to know that it’s not all sunshine and roses. There are clouds and storms and thorns a’ plenty.

SBR: The Conclusion

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God has brought me through so much and I need to just give Him some praise right here. Back when I literally saw shadowy figures in my room as I tried to sleep, He was there. When I felt like I couldn’t reach my goal of even 7 minutes of Senior Yoga that I forced myself to do three times each week, He was there. When I would fall, He was there to pick me up. When I was discouraged, He picked me up again. When I thought that all of these symptoms would last forever, He reminded me that that wasn’t even an option. When my hair started falling out, He calmed me down. When I didn’t have the energy to drink from a glass of water, He reminded me of the Living Water that quenched all thirsts. He was there for me, through the pain, the tears, the discouragement, and the screams. I tried to thank Him as much as I could, even for that stupid blue recliner. (My mom would say that some people don’t even have a stupid blue recliner to sit in. Thanks Mom!)
I would not have made it, not only without Him, but also without the support He provided for me through my husband. My best friend turned into the love of my life, then into the greatest support a girl could ask for. Thank you, Ben. I could never repay you and I hope I don’t have to try!

The era of the SBR has ended. Thanks to some good good friends, the kind that blur the line between friends and family, we are now the proud owners of a BRR. This represents so much in my mind as I don’t have to spend nearly as much time in any chair as I used to. The SBR was put out to pasture, er, curb and someone else is now blessed with it. If only they knew how much that recliner and I had been through.

My next article will be what goes on these days both in my head and in this temporary body o’ mine. I know you’re still on the edge of your seat, blue or not.