Thursday, September 15, 2016

Someone's destruction

Imagine with me...
You're in a relationship with Someone. You spend time with them, sometimes four or five times a day, hours at a time. Sometimes your interactions are simple. Sometimes they're deep and complex, leaving you deeply satisfied down to your soul. Their existence keeps you going. They've been around your entire life. Your parents, grandparents, spouse, friends, and family, all share the same relationship with Someone. It's easy to love Someone who treats you so well and keeps you alive.

Now imagine that Someone starts hurting you, destroying you from the inside out. At first you tell yourself it isn't that Someone. It's someone else, anyone else, because Someone is in every part of your life to an extent. But then eventually you realize you can no longer ignore the painful destruction. Some days you can't get out of bed because of your interaction with Someone. Tears overtake you in waves because the pain is too much. You begin changing how you see them because you're tired of being hurt. You still have to interact with Someone though, even briefly, every single day because they are everywhere. There's no safety, even at home. There's safer, but nowhere completely safe from Someone. You reduce your interactions, as much as possible, but Someone keeps sneaking back in because you forgot to check every single door, window, air vent, pipe, crack, and crevice, then realizing you have to continually check those things... over and over and over... because Someone keeps changing the game. Thinking about your interactions causes anxiety because you just want to not be hurt anymore. Just once, maybe. You don't want another mark on your face, another punch in the gut, another kick to the groin. Remembering the repeated pain causes you depression. Before every interaction, there's a cycle of questions. How much am I already hurting from Someone? How much did they hurt me last time we interacted that way? Remember, you have to interact with Someone or you will die. So you start constantly weighing with a scale in your mind that is all yours to see and carry. Nobody else sees the pain quite the way you do because they're not inside your body or inside your head. Loved ones try, but Someone doesn't hurt them the way he/she hurts you. Someone tells you they think you're crazy, that you're all alone, even while your loved ones tell you otherwise. Remember, you've been around Someone more times than any of your loved ones, so Someone's words seem truer in your damaged soul. You're constantly exhausted from how quickly your mind has to move, always aware of Someone's location and where he/she might decide to sneak in this time. You look around and very rarely, but occasionally, you hear someone call out from their own painful interactions, "I hear you. I see you. I get it. You're not alone. Don't believe Someone when they lie to you that way. This isn't your fault. This is all Someone's fault." They're living through their own hell though, trying to figure out how to escape the control of Someone and the physical and emotional damage that has wreaked havoc on their bodies, hearts, and souls.

For me... Someone is food. Food allergies. Food sensitivities. Food. The very thing that is needed to keep me alive is trying to kill me. My loved ones are incredibly patient with me, but they don't have to live in this hell I didn't create. They hold my hands, they wipe my tears, they listen to my pain, but they can't take it away. They can't make it stop. I didn't ask for this. I don't want this. It's been a lifelong battle, even though it has only recently gotten named. I'm constantly begging God to take away my food issues or take me home to be with Him. There has never been anything more isolating in my entire life. I keep hearing the words of Paul in 2 Corinthians 5, verses 7b- 9 "Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." So, while Satan keeps trying to attack me, to keep me home, in my safest place, I'm going to keep cutting off the chains he's shackling me with while I can. I'm going to keep going out and doing the things God has called me to do- LOVE PEOPLE. I will put on the smile, through the pain, when I can. I will laugh. I will cry. I will pray about my attitude when someone cracks jokes about all the things I can't eat, knowing that most people just don't know how to deal with allergies of my level. I will keep asking those around me to do what they can to keep me safe, by reducing the allergens they bring to me. I will keep asking God to take this away, every single day, until the day He does finally call me home. And when I get there, there'd better be homebaked corn bread with extra butter and honey and a big old cherry pie a la mode.

Friday, June 13, 2014

I just want to be normal...

I just want to be normal. I don't want a long list of dietary requirements. I want to pick something up that looks good and put it in my mouth... without fear of headaches, stomach aches, nausea... you get the idea. Normal.

I continued my elimination diet for two weeks. No dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, peanuts, or corn. Every day fighting with the world we live in and the people I love, over what food I was going to put in my mouth. Actually, if I'm completely honest, the real battle was with myself. Every day an exhausting battle of wills, except that it was my own issues causing me to be the whining toddler throwing herself on the floor because the offering laid before me at supper wasn't good enough. It wasn't the western diet I've come to know and love. It didn't come from a box. Or a drive thru. It wasn't easy or instant. Stupid instant gratification mindset. It was HARD. Well, hard compared to what I perceived as normal, which I've learned is so not normal compared to the rest of the world. But I digress... So, I did this elimination thing. I took some meds from doTerra for gut healing, specifically killing all the bad bacteria in my gut (GXAssist followed by probiotics). And guess what? I was still having my typical reactions! I still had gastric upset and bloating, crazy itchy face, sometimes with little bumps that looked a lot like acne but went away by morning. Plus being tired. I did lose six pounds. But other than that... the pain and the emotional exhaustion from being weird was overwhelming. I cried every single night. So, I went back to normal food. Well, my revised version of normal. And I called my doctor because there's something else going on here. My primary referred me to an allergist and I go next week to get allergy testing. I've read that food allergies are hard to test for, but maybe it's not food. I don't even know what to think about food anymore.

On a random, slightly related note... Last week I began reading Jen Hatmaker's book "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess." The basic idea is she examined seven areas of excess in her life as an American and went on intentional fast in each of those seven areas individually for a month. Chapter one was about food. And I wanted to throw the book and have another tantrum, but I stuck it out. Because here's the thing, I don't want to be difficult. I want to be normal. To be accepted. At the same time, I know normal in America is a very broken person. Normal in America is excessively overweight because of our reliance on drive thrus and boxed meals filled with chemicals that were created in a chemistry lab, along with sitting on our backsides for the majority of the day. Our children are the first generation with a shorter life expectancy than us, their parents, because of the obesity epidemic. Normal in America is dysfunctional. We fight with the people under our own roof, while paying loads of attention to our online friends. Don't get me wrong, I love my online friends, but they're not my family and shouldn't be my top priority. I would never invite 400 human beings into my livingroom and expect to get any real relationships built, but I do it every single day when I open my Facebook feed 50 times to see who shared what. In America, we spend money we don't have on things we don't need, while other people all over the world, including right down the street, go without basic necessities. We put airbrushed, unrealistic people on huge posters and billboards everywhere we look, but then wonder why no one thinks they're beautiful. In America, we spout our diatribes about equality and acceptance, but continue to stereotype people by their labels. It doesn't matter which label. People are more than the sum of their labels. We're killing ourselves with comparison. KILLING OURSELVES! The rest of the world is watching this happen, waiting for America to implode on itself.

BUT... there's a rebellion going on. A rebellion I want to be a part of. A rebellion against excess and towards simplicity. A rebellion against chemically engineered food and towards real food, the food our grandparents ate when they were young. A rebellion against taking handfuls of pills every day and towards natural healing through supplements and essential oils whenever possible. A rebellion against showing off our bodies and towards modesty, out of respect for ourselves and the people we love. I can love my body without sharing it with the world. A rebellion against comparison and towards being appreciated and loved as an individual. A broken, desperate, trying to find their way in a big scary world, individual. A rebellion in the Christian church that says we do what God taught us out of love, not out of fear. Perfect love casts out fear... Love God, Love People... A focus on our own shortcomings first, instead of everyone else's. Where we pick each other up when we fall, not throw another rock at the wounded. Where we whisper gently about a God who loves us without conditions, enough to die for us, enough to change us, and clean us up. That's the rebellion I want to be a part of. Even if it means I will never be normal.

Fighting the good the fight... the fight that's got eternal glory... not temporary ease.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Mustard Seed

The scripture is popular. I even have it on my desktop of my computer. Matthew 17:20 speaks of having the faith of a mustard seed. It says if we have such faith we can move mountains. I don't know about you but there are plenty of mountains in my own life. The mountains of depression, doubt, pain, overeating, laziness, etc are just a few I can think of at this moment.

But how many times do we actually stop to think about that little mustard seed of Faith?

Our faith is compared to that little mustard seed. A seed that is so small it would be missed and looked over among other greats like the sunflower and cucumber. But it grows into a full grown tree... BUT it takes somethings to make that seed grow. We can't just leave a seed to itself and expect it to blossom. If we leave a seed alone it remains dormant, asleep, just like our faith. We have to DO SOMETHING with that seed.

It takes three basic things to get a seed to grow. And I believe that these three things can be translated into three things we need for our faith to grow and blossom into the mountain moving faith we want it to be.

#1... Water. Pretty simple. But a seed needs water. And we, as believer in Christ, need His Living Water. In John 4 Jesus is speaking with the woman at the well. In verse 10 we read, "Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Jesus, a relationship with Him, is our living water. Pretty simple. Have a relationship with Christ (a relationship that you are seeking after Him) and you will be given living water.

#2... Light. Again... simple enough. Plants need sunlight to grow. We need the Light of the World to grow our faith. In Matthew 5:14 we are called to be the light of the world. In order to be that light though we have to stay connected to the source of all light... Jesus.

#3.... Here's where it gets tricky. Dirt. Yep. Good old dirt or soil. Now you're probably asking how I can turn that into a scriptural reference for Jesus. Truth is, I can't. Jesus isn't the dirt. Jesus is anything but the dirt. WE ARE THE DIRT. Our lives, the "stuff" that God allows... THAT'S the dirt. The trials, the tribulations, the things that happen and leave us shaking our head... it's all dirt. The junk that makes us wonder if God is really there, if He remembers our names... it's all dirt. The dirt is what really gets our faith to grow. Our faith grows in the muck and mire of life... not in the happy go lucky, ain't life dandy times.

A seed soaked in water will grow but not thrive or reproduce without dirt. A seed left in the light, without dirt and water, will only burn up.

You see, God hasn't forgotten you. He does love you. He uses the dirt in life to grow us into His image, the image of His glorious son, who came and died for us. He is giving you the dirt that you need to grow. None of us asks for more dirt, but in His wisdom He knows just how much dirt we need. And sometimes, we shake all the dirt off and try to get clean on our own. And those are the times God is going to give us more dirt. He wants to be sure that we grow in His name. Not on our own. On our own we can't grow. Just like a seed can't grow without the sun, light and dirt. So embrace your dirt. Love the dirt. Roll around in it. Rub it on your face and look up to the One who sees you, even in the dirt, and loves you anyway.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The daughter of a murdered father

I know. Not the happiest of titles, but I'm afraid my random thoughts might not be happy either.

Today my brother got a letter from the Florida parole board explaining that in September 2011 the man who killed our father almost twenty two years ago will be up for parole. Today has been a blur since that news was shared. We were told a long time ago that if we wanted to make sure he stayed in prison that all we had to do was write a letter to the parole board. But it leaves me asking, Why write the letter?

Who am I that I should decide the fate of a man who made a stupid mistake? (He got scared during a robbery and pulled the trigger.) Yes, I think we need to pay for our mistakes. Yes, I think people who commit murder should go to prison. I don't think he should spend the rest of his life in jail though. He's already spent over half his life there. Do I deserve freedom anymore than him? How many times have I driven too fast, or pushed my car through the light that was a little too red? How many times have I been behind the wheel after drinking something? Or how many times have I blacked out from drinking? The answer doesn't matter because ONE time is too many.

Through my relationship with Christ I have learned to forgive the man, Keith Minor. A few years ago, maybe seven, I felt the conviction on my heart to write him and share my beliefs and my forgiveness. None of us ever deserves grace or forgiveness. It is only through the One who paid it all for all that any of us receive grace. And it's our job as believers to pass that on to those who have hurt us. The Lord's prayer makes it pretty simple "Forgive us as we have forgiven others." Why is the God of the universe going to forgive us of so much when we are unable to forgive so little. God doesn't have a rating for sins the way humans do. Me drinking too much even one time is the same in His eyes as Keith Minor killing my father. Through that letter a line of communication was opened. He is truly sorry for what he did, not just because it has cost him so much, but genuinely sorry. I still have that first letter. We wrote back and forth for a couple years. He shared with me a lot of the pain of his past and his anger with God over the death of his own parents. (His father killed his mother and then committed suicide on a Sunday morning as Keith was getting himself ready for church.) I also sent him a bible and asked him to read it, starting in the New Testament. He was hesitant because of his anger with God but told me he would anyway basically because he had nothing better to do. One of the last letters I received shared with me that he had become a believer and received Christ's free gift of salvation. I don't know where his walk is, but I do know that the same Holy Spirit that occupies me also occupies him. I know that God has given him a second chance, just like he's given me, even if society isn't ready for that. And if Jesus can forgive the men who took His life shouldn't I be able to do the same for the man who took my father?

But then the other side of me yells inside. He took my Daddy. Twenty two years ago I lost one of the most amazing men I will ever know. He robbed my Daddy of seeing my high school graduation, welcoming my first serious crush into the house before going out for the evening, walking me down the aisle at my wedding, seeing his grandchildren born. I've lost twenty two years of laughing and watching Bears and Cubs games. I've lost out on fixing things. He would have loved my Mustang. He would probably be helping me right now with the little projects that are over my head around the house... the leaky faucet in the bathroom, the electrical box that needs repaired. He was an amazing man of God and where I've gotten my heart for serving God. He knew that as a believer service was a privilege and responsibility, not an obligation. My children, nieces, nephews and even my baby sister, don't know my father as anything more than a picture that sits on top of my entertainment center with the flag from his coffin. They know that's where Martin got his name. They know the story of how he died. But they've been robbed of a Grandpa. And if my Dad was such an amazing daddy, how much better would he be at being a Grandpa whose soul job is spoiling and fun?

I think what it comes down to is this, no matter who writes a letter, how long he sits in jail, whether he received the death penalty or life in prison... no matter what else happens, no one, NO ONE, can bring my father back to me or my family. And if it can't do that, then what's the point?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Coke Free

So I've been Coke free for a full week. In one week I've learned a lot about myself, but more about the people around me. I feel like an addiction is an addiction. Anything that takes us away from our fullness in Christ is an addiction. Anything we yearn for more than Him and His Will is an addiction. Somehow though, people think I'm kidding when I say that I've given up Coke because of this. I've been offered Coke countless times this week. And most of the time it has been by people in my life who follow it with, it's "JUST ONE Coke." I can't seem to make people understand my feelings on it. It's almost embarassing. No, it is embarassing. I feel like they think I'm a joke, or that this whole thing is a joke. How can I make people see that I want to be closer to Christ and want to remove all obstacles on that journey.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sharing on Zambia

I spoke at my church yesterday about my mission trip to Zambia. I was given just a few minutes to answer some questions about the trip and what God accomplished through us. I shared about everything that I could in the short time. If you've asked me about Zambia since I've gotten home you know I will talk your arm and ears off, so getting my thoughts down to 5-7 minutes was a real struggle.

Anyway, I spoke on the positive aspects of Zambia, the things that are in the control of each individual. They have such a hunger for God and fellowship with Him and His people. They will sit for hours on Sunday mornings, after walking for hours to get there. Yes, I said walking. They also have such a joy for God. Jesus said that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. I know the reason now. We have so much that we don't think we need God. As Americans we are the richest people in the world. Even the poorest people in our country, the people who bust their butts for minimum wage, are among the richest people in the world. They have pure joy for the Lord. You can see the joy in the eyes of the people that really "get" it. I'm actually jealous of their joy and have started praying to have that kind of joy for Jesus.

The negative things were the things the people of Zambia could not control individually. Polygamy is still legal there. In a country that admits that 25% of their population is HIV positive you would think step one would be outlawing polygamy. Instead women are still treated as property. They have a wife for cooking, a wife for cleaning and another for those "extra" duties. Women have no voice and no rights there. Another thing they don't have control over is their financial situation. The minimum wage in Zambia is the equivalent of $300... a YEAR! They live in small one room huts-no electric, no plumbing, no seperate rooms for each kid, no cable, no AC, no Italian tile flooring or granite counter tops. They cook outside over a fire, or sometimes in a cooking hut. (These look like what we think of when we hear Tiki huts.) And because of their income they eat only sheema. I've compared it to poor man's grits. Imagine grits, with no salt, butter, cheese or any type of spices. They eat that for three meals a day. Sometimes they have meat that they can dip it in, sometimes they have vegetables. Otherwise, it's just sheema.

After talking about all of this I talked about Global Samaritans and the outreach they do. They run the orphanage there that we stayed at. We have 50-60 children. (I honestly lost count because we got some new kids while we were there.) The majority of children are orphans of the AIDS crisis. Some of the kids though have been taken away from their parents. One of the girls, Catherine, is a one of the most beautiful girls I have met in my entire life. Her mother sold her into prostitution when she was around 8 years old. She realized how wrong this was and went to social services. She was thankfully taken away from her mother. She has the joy of the Lord I was talking about earlier. She knows Jesus loves her and that radiates through all she does. I also spoke about Joe, the little boy that my husband and I are going to sponsor. We don't have a lot of money. In face, by American standards we're really poor. We have four children and he's a lower enlisted in the Army. We're making sacrifices though to sponsor this little boy and another little boy through World Vision. Through Global Samaritans we pay $30 a month for Joe's care. That $30 a month feeds him, clothes him, shelters him, educates him in God's way and gives him medical care. We can choose to change the life of a little boy for what it costs for our family to go out to a cheap place, once. We are choosing to help this boy and sacrificing eating out, something we as Americans do too much anyway. I also spoke of the other boys that still need sponsors, since new children showed up while we were there. These boys don't have sponsors yet. I "thought" that people would be willing to sacrifice a little to change the life of one boy for eternity. Only one person came to speak to me after though. She said she needed to talk to her husband after getting the details. One of the boys was sponsored, by someone in my life who is on Disability and has a very, very limited income. She was willing to sacrifice, while the people driving the brand new cars, looking at their watches to see when it would be time to go to get their own lunch at the restaurant of their choosing, were not willing to sacrifice. It is so hard to not be frustrated. And angry. I'm praying for God to change the hearts of His people. I guess it really is easier for that camel to make it through the eye of a needle. If for whatever reason you feel led to sponsor a child please send me a message for more information. I'm not going to stop until I have found the sponsors God has for these boys.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My little mustard seed

We hear all the time about how we should have the faith of a mustard seed. Just the faith of a little seed and we can move mountains. (Matthew 17:20 ) So many times though, our faith sits, stagnant and doesn't grow.

I've just returned from Zambia, Africa. That has been my biggest step of faith ever. While I was preparing for my trip I kept praying about that faith of a mustard seed. "Lord, help me overcome my unbelief." (Mark 9:24) I knew I was going to a volatile place and knew I had to be on my A-game. No second guessing once I got there. Zambia has forever changed me, just like I was told it would. The people will forever be in my thoughts and prayers, even if I don't know if I'll see them again this side of heaven. For a long time I've been growing my fruits of the spirit but could never find my joy because of past hurts. But now, I have found my joy and I am swimming in the sea of that joy.

Back to the mustard seed, we always hear about that seed. How just a little faith and we can move the mountains in our lives. But have you ever thought about what it means to be a seed? Or the faith of a seed? Ask any gardener, if you sit a seed, any seed, in a jar, up on a shelf, it will do nothing. When we let our faith sit, it will do nothing. No growing. In order for our faith to grow, we as seeds, have to be planted and guess what, WE HAVE TO GET DIRTY! We can't grow our faith sitting in our living rooms, in our fake plastic lives and expect our faith to grow. We have to put ourselves out there- in the dirt of life, in the "fertilizer," in order to have any chance of growing. The more dirt, the better that seed is going to grow. Put a seed in a small pot, with dirt, on your porch, it can only grow so big. Put the same seed in your backyard, add some living water, and bam! Instead of a small plant you now have a tree. We have to get dirty. In order for our faith to grow, to where God wants our faith to grow, there has to be dirt.

So where's the dirt in your life? What is your comfort zone that you're sitting in, making excuses for your faith not growing? Are you sitting in that plastic life and complaining because you just don't feel close to God? Why aren't you out there, getting dirty for Him?!

I'm not just talking about Zambia, or even missions. We all have a calling and not everyone is called to love on the people of Africa the way I have been. But what about the people you see everyday who are hurting? What about your neighbor, your sister, your friend? There is someone in your life God is calling you to love, but you sit back and are scared of getting dirty, scared of getting hurt, scared of the "what if's."

If you ever want to grow in your faith to the level you see in others you have to step out. You have to find yourself firmly planted in Him, letting the dirt of life surround you and the living water fill you, if you ever, EVER, want to see the mountains in your life move.