Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Well, it’s been kind of a backwards year for me…get it? 8002? A backwards year? Anyway, I’ve been taking stock of all that’s gone on this year, and I thought I would share my experiences with you. Maybe it will help you reflect upon something in your own life; maybe not. But I couldn’t let this year pass without mentioning all of the incredible things that have happened in my life.

On the surface, the year looks really crappy. 3 CT scans, 3 ultrasounds, 1 x-ray, 2 MRIs, 2 surgeries, a bad gallbladder, poisonous spider bite, torn tendon, e. coli, surgical complications, ulcer from an antibiotic, severe concussion, torn rotator cuff, and that’s just the medical side! On the non-medical side, I barely graduated college because of a professor who wanted something more of a relationship with me and tried to really screw me over, there was an earthquake, I lost my dad’s belongings in the flood, and I missed about 4 months of church.

And yet, I will consider 2008 among my greatest years!


Well, despite the obstacles, I DID graduate with a college degree. I don’t care who you are or what fight you had to put up to get it, that is an accomplishment in and of itself.

And despite initial sadness at losing all of dad’s stuff, I find myself now free-er to live in the way I want to live, instead of letting the memory of him hang over me like a thick cloud. Instead of hanging on to him for dear life, I am now in a position to put him in whatever place I’d like him in my life, instead of feeling some dutiful obligation to let him stay where he always wanted to be.

In addition, I have done quite a bit of thinking and reflecting on myself and my own situation in life.

First, I saw some old pictures of myself with the buzzed haircut. What the heck was I thinking? Why did I do that to myself? I looked awful! But it was only a reflection of what I was feeling on the inside, and I am at a place now where I can recognize that. What’s more, I am enjoying the more girlish style I have taken on (and would like to follow the haircut with a better wardrobe when/if I can afford it). I have accepted my femininity and am now working to cultivate it. One day, I hope to take on the traits of the 1 Timothy woman: “For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do…But women will be saved…by continuing to live in faith, love, holiness, and modesty.” (2:10,15b)

Second, I find that after looking hard at myself, I have been a terrible sister – not just to my biological brothers, but to my spiritual brothers and sisters as well. I have selfishly taken much more than I have given, and it has not bothered me until recently. Somewhere deep inside of myself, I felt like the world owed me something and I believed that people would love me no matter what. Some have, and for them, I am grateful, but I owe them so much more than I have given. Selfishness is not a good trait in anyone, and I aim to work on that in the future, though my struggle right now is that I feel I have very little to offer anyone else. That will change as I come to know myself more. For now, it is a simple matter of low self-esteem and high selfishness. So to those of you I have offended by not entering your stories as you have entered mine, I apologize, and I promise to work harder in the future.

Kind of along the same lines, I am working on forgiveness. I have discovered that I have very little forgiveness for anyone in my life, let alone myself. I have been a perfectionist, and I’ve expected everyone else to be perfect, too. I’ve not tolerated accidents. I expect that someone should pay for everything that’s happened. But no more – I am finding forgiveness in my heart and working every day to extend that to myself and others.

And then the coolest thing happened…

I have spent my life being afraid. Of everything. I’ve been sleeping with a nightlight since I was itty-bitty. I watch the shadows move across the kitchen floor at night (from the back porch light), just to make sure nobody is coming to kill me. I hide things so people can’t steal them (and sometimes, I can’t even find them), and I keep a bag packed with my valuables in case I ever need to get out in a hurry. It is, for all intents and purposes, the most severe of paranoia. But the other night, just a few days ago, I woke up in the dark with a storm brewing outside. In that moment, just before the panic set in, all fear left me. I mean ALL FEAR. I’m not afraid any more. Of anything. I have peace in my spirit, and it’s just the coolest thing. I don’t lay awake at night wondering if the doors are locked. I don’t watch the shadows in the kitchen. I went to the bathroom, and when I turned off the light, my eyes actually adjusted to the dark for the first time in my life. Darkness no longer blinded me; I could see, and I was unafraid. Still am. It’s REALLY cool.

And finally, I am getting tired of the excuses. MY excuses. It seems I’ve always had an excuse for everything. But no matter how justified I think I am, that doesn’t excuse ungodly living. And I think people have come to expect from me that I won’t do what I’m supposed to do because I will always come up with a reason not to. That’s just not cool. It doesn’t gel with my spirit. So I am working on that, as well.

So on top of all that, I am finding physical healing. My body is able to fight off most infections by itself now. Aside from a small bout of surgical complications, I haven’t been to the ER in over a year. I have gone from having 43 medications to now keeping NONE on my desk. As a matter of fact, the only things I’m taking right now are my birth control and an occasional anti-nausea pill, but God is even breaking my dependence on that.

Also in 2008, I finished reading the Bible cover-to-cover. There’s some pretty good stuff in there. My favorite books are James and Joel.

2009 is going to be MY year. I don’t know what’s going to happen, since I try to not put God in my box any more. But I have a few inklings, and they are all good. I sense a job just around the corner. There’s a young man I’ve been talking to who seems very interested in me, so we’ll just have to see where that goes. I anticipate further physical healing. I anticipate peace, the absence of fear, and contentment. It’s just going to be a good year.

That said, it’s not getting off to a terrific start. As it turns out, I have torn my rotator cuff in my left shoulder. I will find out tomorrow what kind of repair that will require, and then my challenge is to figure out how to get that care for myself with no insurance. And yet, as stressed as I am, I am also not worried. Because I know that God is going to handle this, too, and it will all be ok. And so, I trust Him.

And isn’t that what life’s all about?

So farewell to 8002, a sort of backwards year, and here’s to a brilliant 2009!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Father? Abba.

I have trouble conceptualizing of God as “Father.”
At best, it’s sterile. Be honest. Does not the word “father” conjure up images of the von Trapp children? Very formal, very respectful, and while I do not doubt the love of their father toward his children (or the love of the children toward their father), it is far from what I would describe as a “loving relationship.” These children go to bed each night with a wave; no hug, no kiss, no bedtime story. A surrogate must provide all of these things for them.
At worst, “father” is distant and angry. I know this has been true in my own life, as a young child, and I am sure I am not alone. You know what I mean, when after a particularly harsh punishment or stern “no,” you wake up the next morning to find your male parental figure standing in the kitchen, smiling a good morning to you. You look up slightly, not wanting to be disrespectful, and, nodding, say, “Father,” then proceed as if he doesn’t even exist. You want him to know you still know he’s there, but you also create as much distance as possible between the two of you and the message is clear: you are angry.
Neither of these fits my image of God, but those are all I can latch onto when I think of “Father.” I think Jesus had it right, though. I don’t claim to be a scholar in Aramaic, but from what I have studied, Jesus’s word “Abba” more closely translates to our word, “Daddy.”
And isn’t that what we all want? A daddy. It’s so beautiful. He is the strong man who becomes your rock. You sit on his lap and absorb his warmth. You listen to his stories because you honor his wisdom. You seek his advice because you respect his judgment. When life deals you a tough blow, he scoops you up and restores your sense of safety. He gives you a name and a place in life. He is everything you need, and most of all, he is loving. He is an active part of your life. You share a two-way relationship.
Maybe it’s just me, but God as “Father” puts an unnecessary barrier between us. I can’t talk to a father. But I will run to a daddy. He’ll see me coming a mile away, but the force of my impact will still knock him down. We’ll laugh; we’ll cry; we’ll talk. Mostly, we’ll love.
So if God the Father works for you, then by all means, work hard to develop that relationship. But if you, like me, can think of nothing but childish protest or the von Trapp children, then maybe re-think your name for Him. I don’t think God minds one bit when I pray, “Hey Daddy…”
He just smiles and says, “Yeah, kiddo?”

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Now is the winter of my discontent. It's amazing how one tiny change in my life has made me consider the bigger things. Since I cut my hair almost two weeks ago, my mind has not stopped churning. And it's given me quite a bit of clarity about a lot of things.

First, a note about the hair. I've cut my hair before. Those who know me know I used to keep it rather short. But this cut is different. It isn't a defense mechanism. It isn't an outward expression of the harsh internal workings of my being. (C'mon - like you didn't all know that was the reason for the short, spiky do.) It isn't the longer, unkept manifestation I've had for months while growing it out, saying "I'm working on it, but I'm not there yet." The hair that fell to the floor took a lot of weight off my shoulders with it. I looked in the mirror and I saw something new - a beautiful young woman, emerging firmly into womanhood with a mix of confidence and timidity. Could it be? Could I be a...woman? And enjoying it?

And it really changed my whole perspective on things. I felt this tug on my heart like God was just working on me, telling me that now we are putting the outside together, so let us clean up the inside, too. I began to see clearly.

Oh, how I have labored to drag the past with me! I have been yoked to the memories, to the pain and trauma of the past. Sometimes, memories sneak up on me. There's nothing I can do about that, I don't think. In a moment like that, I can't stop the memory from flooding over me. But must they have defined me for so long?

It's a victory for the abuser over the abused. For years, I have been dragging everything with me, pulling it along because I believed the lie. Even if I was not consciously aware of what was going on, I was subconsciously believing that THIS is what defined me, that this was my truth. If it didn't hold some fundamental key to my being, it wouldn't have been so important to bring with me into the future. The heavy burden has been choking me, pulling on the reins and holding me from destiny, pulling me back.

You'd think that when I found God 8 years ago, something would have changed for me then. You'd think I would have found myself less yoked or at least, less burdened. But when I looked for God in my life this past week, you know where I found Him? Sitting on the pile of memories, adding to my burden. I let Him into my life, but only as something else to be dragged around. Just something else in my bag of tricks, something I can use to answer when others say "tell me about yourself." But I don't think that's really where God needs to be in my life. No, He should have a more prominent place.

In all my flesh-based glory, I invited Him out of the pile. I invited Him to help me pull. To share my yoke, as Jesus so often talked about. And true to God's nature, He came. Because God will only do in our lives what we ask of Him.

And so, having repositioned the Divine in my life, I looked to my right and together, we took a step forward, God and I, yoked together and dragging the memories behind it. But not a nanosecond had passed before He stopped and looked at me, with that tenderhearted look in His eye and said, "This is stupid."

It was a look that said more. It said "I'll help you pull if that's where you want me in your life. But this is really stupid. You don't need all this junk."

And you know what? He's right. I don't need it any more. I am a strong young woman, on a solid path, and it is time for me to define myself. Forget the lies. Forget the bullcrap. It's time for this little girl to speak for herself.

But what to do with the pile of lies? I tried leaving it, just letting go and taking off down the path with God. But that just doesn't feel right. I feel like everything has its place, somewhere in my life's history where it belongs, but I don't know where that is or how to get it all there, or even if it all goes to the same place. Maybe it's like putting laundry away - a sock here, some shirts there, a memory here, a pain there. I just don't know. But leaving it all in the middle of the roadway (or even in the ditch) just doesn't seem like the right thing to do. I just don't know what the right thing is.

And so I want to go forward, but I also feel like God may draw me back, may bring me to do the right thing by the past, get some closure, then press forward (though I honestly have no understanding of this).

But there are some things I am taking back for myself. For instance, I will not be spending the holidays with my dad's side of the family. When I am with them, my father is back in my life (not to mention, they only use me as a surrogate for him; there is no real love there, I don't believe). Having lost so many of his belongings in the flood, I have realized that I now have the freedom to decide what role he plays in my life, if any. So I am going to take some time and digest that and make my own decision about where he (and his family) fit in to the future.

That is just one example.

These past 5 days, I have been alone. My mom took off to my grandma's two states away to help her recover from surgery, so it has been my and my God. And I have struggled a little bit with what I have found. I have found strong discontent and a desire for more. And I have found just how much I have been limiting myself (and God) by requiring this stuff to stay in my life. I don't know what I will do now. Maybe God will have the answers. For now, I'm just done with the yoke.

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:25-26)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Prayers for Babylon

And work for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Pray to the Lord for that city where you are held captive, for if Babylon has peace, so will you. -- Jeremiah 29:7

As I was reading a few days ago, this verse hit me with thoughts of my mother racing through my head. She and I have not had what you might call the best relationship, and I have spent much of the past 23 years being angry with her. How could she treat me the way she did? How could she stand by and watch now, as I have struggled with my health for 5 years? How could she deny everything I've been through?

Her course manner and complete lack of compassion have always haunted me. She is the kind of person to which everything is overcome-able if you just try hard enough and want it badly enough. And if there is something wrong with you, it is obviously your shortcoming and not her problem, so why should she care? She has always liked to bully and guilt me into doing things, and she never lacks a suggestion why I should be something different than I am currently engaged in and exactly what it is I should be doing.

I have always felt like she's had me in a corner my whole life, trapped into doing whatever her desire might be. I've been living in captivity. And it has produced ill fruits - hatred.

But lately, things have been different. My mom hasn't changed; I just feel like perhaps I am coming to understand her better, to know where she's coming from. Is she right all the time? No. Absolutely not. Is she wrong all of the time? No. Not that either. But I can look at her now and see deeper than the surface I've always seen. I see turmoil. She is unhappy. She is unsettled. It is a place I know well from my own experience, and I can feel that resonating within me when I think of her now.

And so, I find myself praying for her peace. I wish for her the desires of her heart, those that would build her up and not tear her down. And I wish for her strength and endurance to fight the battles with darkness that she is currently engaged in. I see in her fear, the panic that is telling her to run away (which she talks about often), and I pray for calm, for her to find settlement and peace.

In praying for the captor, I have found freedom for the captive. Does this mean I've forgotten everything she's done (and that's quite a bit) and everything she is still doing? Nope. I recognize the capabilities that live within her (though I pray them gone, I doubt I will ever accept her restoration for my bitterness). But it does mean I have found what it is to live and walk in forgiveness.

Strangely enough, I even find that I am coming to have a soft spot in my heart for her. Indeed, I am beginning to love her. I even told her last night that I love her more and more each day.

So pray for Babylon. There, in your captivity, you may just find peace.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Wilderness

I am finding that I am rather lonely, not to mention bored, and this is leading to some serious depression. Sure, there are other people around, but nobody that I'm really connecting with right now. It's a frustrating way to live.

I've not been to church in about 6 weeks. Something about being around all those other people just increases my loneliness. And it's not that I'm not loved there...I have great friendships with all kinds of people in my church. The problem, I guess, is that there's nobody else there in my stage of life. I am young, fresh out of college, unemployed, and single. The people nearest to me in age there are older and married, most with children. I just don't really connect with anyone. I'm trying to stay connected with the women's ministry, but even there, I still feel kind of like an outsider.

Despite my best efforts, I still cannot find a job. I'm really not picky - I have put in applications for everything from tech support to front office to executive director to cleaning. My medical condition prevents me from working in food services, and retail is unwilling to make accommodations for the health situation, so I'm stuck there. Since March, I have only had one interview. I just keep telling myself that God is going to put me where He wants me when He wants me there and that I need to just be patient, but with money running tight and the economy failing, that's wearing thin on my spirit. Not to mention that not having others to interact with on a daily basis is just adding to my loneliness. The only people I talk to in person now are my mom, the doctor, and my brother's family.

On top of that, I am having a minor health setback. Best guess right now is that I've developed some sort of ulcer; my upper stomach is quite unhappy.

Life is just one big, deep wilderness experience for me right now. I'd be lying if I said I understand. I'd be lying if I said it made sense to me. I thought my health crisis was my wilderness, but the healing process is turning out to be a million times worse, a million times lonelier and more depressing and just...worse. It's hard when I have the ability and the will, and I am trying my hardest to succeed and do well, and yet there is still something holding me back, something obviously more powerful than me.

I must add, though, that I am only mildly distressed. I am concerned, as most people are, about money. I worry about what's going to happen in January when I have to find new health insurance and pay out-of-pocket (if I still don't have a job). I worry about what's going to happen next year when my reserves of money run out and I still don't have a job. But at the same time, I really do believe there is a bigger plan, a plan bigger than my understanding.

I will also say this, and then I will stop. My faith is getting absolutely stronger every day. I am reading the Bible cover-to-cover and am currently nearing the end of Jeremiah, and I am just falling in love with my God over and over again. It is a deeper love than I ever thought possible, and there are just poignant little messages spread throughout that text that drive straight to my heart. Most recently, forgiveness and prayer has entered into that equation. I may write about that later, but not here.

So I don't know. I'm just feeling lonely and overwhelmed and confused and lonely. Hoping this all pans out and that life turns around for me and the healing gets easier and more complete every day, instead of this waffling back and forth that I'm going through right now.

And now that I'm in tears thinking of all this, I guess I will stop and consider going to bed for the night. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Sometimes, I am not sure what meaning dreams hold. It seems to me that some are just random constructions of an over-active mind. And so, unless I am particularly struck by one, I tend not to think about them too much. But last night, my dream struck me. Buckle your random belts...

It began in present day, but also in both past and future. I had gone to visit my great-grandmother at her house (a frequent event from my youth, and a woman I loved dearly for a lot of reasons). There, I was to meet up with the rest of the family - mom, brothers and their wives, niece and newborn nephew (due March 4, by the way) and grandma with great-grandma. As I sat in the house all by myself waiting on everyone else to arrive, I looked out the window and saw a rather large snake, something I was never afraid of finding at Grandma's as a child but have come to realize were probably all around.

Snakes in dreams TEND to represent change. I sat in the house and watched out the window, but it never moved. I could see it wasn't dead; it was just waiting on me to make the first move. Something almost beckoning me to come out and touch it. But inside, I sat. Too afraid to go, too afraid to get near it. One by one, the others arrived, and apparently, it was my birthday! I handed the newborn nephew back to my brother's wife and followed great-grandmother into her bedroom where she gave me a gift - the key to the nutter house. (For those of you who know what this means, apparently, my GG owned RMH and was passing it on to me to keep safe for future generations.) She took me to the computer to show me my new realm and ended up burning data on several 5" floppy disks for me.


While grandma and mom cooked a big country breakfast for us all, my brother convinced me to come outside and see the snake, which I had convinced myself was a golden cobra. Foolishly, I went, as he had it trapped in the backseat of the car. I climbed right in the backseat with the thing, and it had a big gash across its neck, looking like someone had tried but failed to cut its head off. It inched itself closer to me and licked me right in the face - it felt like puppy kisses! So gentle! And even though I was no longer afraid, I took a machete and finished chopping off its head. Immediately, I was overwhelmed by sadness, and a bit later, my brother's wife told me the REAL name of the snake. I don't remember upon waking exactly what it was, but I remember how peaceful and healing it sounded.

See, here's the thing:

The hardest thing for me to overcome in the healing process is my own psychology. I can feel the very real fighting over my being - an internal struggle between health and sickness, between fragment and wholeness. I want to go outside and play; I am afraid I will puke. I want to go upstairs and work; I am afraid I will end up in pain. I want to run; I'm afraid I will fall. I want to go out in public; I'm afraid I will get sick and not be able to make it home. I want to eat; I'm afraid I can't. It's all a struggle between what I WANT to be and what I've been for the past 5 years. If I keep myself busy and don't think much about anything, I can make it through the day and feel wonderful. But when it gets to be 7 p.m. and I look back and realize what a great day I had, I immediately become sick and stuck in bed for the rest of the evening. I became so used to the thought that the good days were over for me that I can no longer accept them without fear, without ruining them for myself. So it's really hard to combat the psychology of healing. I mean, really hard. At the same time, I realize the only thing standing between me and complete restoration is...me! Please be in prayer as I work to overcome myself and try to discover the new life, the complete healing God has for me because I know it is there! It feels like puppy kisses, and I cut its head off!

The other thing that is really bugging me about myself right now is that I'm getting a bit stingy, selfish. I have always been this way with food - it drives me batty when someone wastes even a bite of food. But now, it's going to other things that SHOULDN'T MATTER. And here's when it hit me: my mom was making a papier mache bowl for work (something she's going to throw away after its use has expired). As part of this project, she attached a butter bowl lid to make the bottom of the new bowl. I was so livid! How could she just WASTE a lid like that? SERIOUSLY. And then I caught myself and was like "wow. I'm a jerk." I try not to be selfish and not to worry about things like this because I know they don't really matter, but I guess the frustration of not being able to find a job yet is getting to me. I DO have expenses. I pay some of the bills around this house and have had a lot of unexpected expenses lately (though, I did just buy myself a present for the first time in years). So I know part of my selfishness is coming from fear - the fear of running out of money before I can find a job to bring in more. It's not even that I'm really picky about a job. My only requirements are as follows: I need a clean bathroom, and I won't work food or retail. I can't work food because when I tic, I tend to touch my face and stuff a lot, so I'd have to always be washing my hands and it'd just be disgusting. And I won't work retail cuz they usually don't have clean bathrooms. (I'm talking big retail like Walmart or Kohl's.) So yeah...I'm looking for something more suited to my personality. And I know in my heart that God is going to put me where He wants me when He wants me there, but in the meantime, it's still hard to trust. So I think that's where my selfishness is coming from, but it still bothers me. It's not a good trait in a person.

So that's my random update. I'm gonna go read the Bible or something now. I'm almost halfway through! (reading cover-to-cover and right in the thick of Psalms as I type this)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Miracles of God

As many of you know, I have struggled greatly with my health over the past 4 and a half years. This has been a long battle for me, involving so much that I can't even go into it all. To put just a few numbers to it, the process involved over 20 doctors, 4 surgeries, more than 12 emergency room visits, 75 pounds, close to $100,000, numerous wrong turns and misdiagnoses, billions of tears, and countless prayers.

It is with great pleasure that I now find myself in a position to pass along some amazingly wonderful news on the health front. The saga is drawing to a close. We have completed the diagnostic phase, are well into fine-tuning the treatment plan, and are moving forward into physical restoration for this temple.

Please let me share with you some of the signs of healing that are present right at this very moment. My weight has held steady (or slightly increased) for the past two months. I am now at what is considered to be a healthy weight for my body type and am aiming to stay there! I have been reduced from over 40 prescription medications to just 3. I am celebrating right now because it has been officially a year since I have been rushed to the emergency room. It has been six months since I have needed to use a wheelchair to get around. My hair is continuing to grow out, rather than falling out as it was for so long.

Perhaps the greatest miracle I can report at this time is that I had an MRI last week as a follow-up on my brain tumor (found over a year ago, most likely present for at least two years) and the doctors can no longer find any evidence of it existing. It has completely vanished! Praise God!

Because there have been so many misdiagnoses along the way, I want to clear up exactly what is and is not going on. To start with, there is a problem with my kidneys. This causes too much acid to build up in my body, destroys tissues, creates kidney stones, and makes my lungs work harder than normal to keep a balance of acids and bases. Second, I have an autoimmune disorder that is also a chronic pain condition. This leaves me susceptible to common illnesses, and the pain is at times excruciating, requiring intervention and bed rest. As for anything else you may have heard over the years, it has all been whittled away into these two conditions. I am nothing short of speechless.

So what will my restoration look like? Will it be wholeness in the sense of what life was before? No. But it will be glorious! I have to teach myself to eat again. My body has been in starvation mode for so long that food is difficult. And with the diagnosis of the pain condition, my diet is now very restricted. Certain foods will cause flares that could land me in the hospital just for pain control, so I have to learn what I can and cannot eat, and how much I can get away with. On a sad note, no more chocolate. But such is a small price to pay. I will need to start working on building some stamina back up, on getting out of the house and being just a little bit active. Laying in bed for so many years does not do a body well. But I will never be as active as I once was; it will not be safe to do so. This old temple just ain't what she used to be. I have some residual neurological effects, as well. My head and face will probably continue to twitch a little, my hands will shake, my voice will choke and crack. And I will be undergoing numerous hours of dental work (starting next week) to repair all of that damage (Praise God I have managed to save my teeth thus far!)

So things will not be the way they used to be, but perhaps that is better. I have grown so much through this experience, and I am not the same young woman I once was. I have matured. I have grown. I have drawn nearer to my God and to my family here on Earth. I want to thank everyone, especially my church family, for being so diligent in prayers for me; I could not have made it this far without you. A special thanks goes out to the Ladies Class, who have kept me lifted in spirits and provided much needed boosts throughout the process. I ask for your continued prayers as I go through this restoration - the dentists, the nutritionists, the physical therapists, the devotions - I know the healing path will be more draining than the path of illness.

Some people say that miracles aren't happening any more, that the world has gone too far to the dark side. But I am living a miracle right now, and it is blessed. Most of you know I am rarely speechless, but I have found myself just sitting in silence lately, letting all of this soak in, and crying tears of joy because I believed this day may never come. Well, here it is, and I (along with all of you) look forward to a better tomorrow. A brighter future. And the restoration of a temple long broken.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Trust, Surrender

I would imagine God doesn’t really hate me. It’s just my perception based on where I’m at right now. Freshly graduated with a degree that makes me miserable, unable to find a job anywhere, sick as a dog (I am struggling with severe pain again and am losing dangerous amounts of weight inexplicably), tormented by my mind, stuck in my mom’s house until I can find a job…it’s just a lot to bear. For awhile, I prayed earnestly and with great fear, wishing God would change my circumstances. I have so much to offer; I am full and blessed with talent beyond measure and a heart that is seeking to do more with what I’ve been given, but I am being held back by things in my life. I have tried so hard to live like my mother – in complete denial of the power of the bad things. I used to say to myself, “If I wake up and decide to live like they don’t exist, they won’t.” But that just doesn’t work. No matter how hard I try to deny the bad things the power or try to ignore them and live anyway, they are still there, and I MUST face them, must deal with them instead of trying to write them off.

The flood really kind of destroyed every sense of stability I had in my life. I was actually doing pretty well for awhile, but now, not even close. I’m afraid to be alone. I’m afraid of water. I look above and below and behind everything to make sure there’s nothing there to harm me. I hallucinate like crazy. Every memory turns into a flashback. I’m scared. I talked with Kevin about this a little bit, and I came to realize that what happened is that the only hint of safety I felt in the world was right here in this house, but now this house has been invaded and I no longer feel safe anywhere. And that’s a rough place to be in. I want to feel safe. I want to trust that nothing bad is going to happen to me, but such is foolishness.

I struggle with the basics of Christian living. For awhile, I was reading my Bible every day, but it just seemed to make me sicker and sicker. Every time I think about reading, I am now filled with such joy and such dread that I end up just staring at the book for awhile and deciding not to risk it. I’ve yet to figure it out, but since the beginning of my walk with God, reading that blasted book has always given me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. A friend of mine online blamed that on unconfessed sin or some other bullshit like that that’s preached in the more conservative, Bible-thumping churches. I’m just not sure how much I buy into all that. Maybe a little, maybe not at all. I don’t know. And I know my prayers are inadequate, they are somehow wrong. Like I’m not doing something right. For awhile, I stopped praying altogether, but I am trying to pick up the habit again and have succeeded two nights in a row. It just feels…petty, somehow off.

And part of all that is that I am feeling unworthy. Who am I that God should even care about me at all? The world has thrown me away over and over again, even those who were supposed to love me. There is something inherently wrong, then, with me. So why should God care? Many times in my life, I have come face-to-face with this problem. I have worked against my own best interest, convincing myself not to talk with doctors or mentors or professors or whoever, because I feel unworthy of their time. Because I feel like I am bothering them. I’ve done it with therapists, ministers (even you), all kinds of people. Several months ago, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and saw beauty, for the first time. I went around for several days, feeling like I was finally worth something, like I had tapped something deep within myself that mattered. It all made perfect sense. Yet I find myself struggling with the same issues all over again, and I don’t understand why. I fear it may become a lifelong struggle for me.

At the same time, God is definitely tapping something deep within me. This is where I struggle hardest to explain what’s going on. Something in my spirit is breaking, much in the same way it did with Kevin when he first showed that he understood more than I was letting myself believe. When I realized he was one step ahead of me, and something in me just broke and I sank back into his couch and took a deep breathe and finally just relaxed. It’s a similar process right now with God. I’m coming to realize just how far ahead of me He is, how much He understands, and to some extent, how much He loves and cares (which is a very scary thing for a person like me). I’m also realizing my own weakness, pride, sin, selfishness. Yet, I am pushing in the flesh to still do things the right way, to live my own life by the rules I believe I have set. I keep pushing myself to try to be “spiritual,” to act as I think I should be, all while hearing this still, small voice that says “just rest. You are tired.”

I am tired. And I am desperate. I am thirsting hard, but at the same time, I am afraid to let God come and meet my needs. It’s scary to give Him the chance to fail me. If we pray in earnest…but how do I know if my prayers are earnest enough? Should I speak louder or barely whisper? How much should I read? Out of all the voices in my head, is one of them God’s? Or doesn’t He speak that way anymore? (This was a point of contention in a conversation I had with a friend the other day – will God speak to us other than through the Bible or is that all we get? I believe there must be more.) Is His voice the one that settles the peace in my spirit, or is that just a trick of the enemy? I know God is not emotional, but how else can I feel Him if not through His peace and mercy? Why does He want to give me more than I feel I deserve, and how do I bring myself to come to accept that?

A couple of days ago, I allowed myself to just sit and wrestle with all of these questions. I took time to breathe, to tear down the walls and let the questions really touch me, come to realize the power they hold in my life. I ended up just crying for hours on end, but the whole while feeling that tingling feeling you get when you know the Spirit is near. It became for me a moment of repentance, a realization of just how little I was letting God do, how much I was holding Him back from what He wants to do in my life. And how sinful I was in my own pride, in believing I have the power to fix myself.

So I don’t know. I’m just wrestling right now, and I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. With circumstances the way they are, I feel cursed sometimes. I wonder why God is doing this to me. But maybe I’m doing it to myself. And I wonder when it will end.

I wish I could live in total surrender and give up all that I am fighting so desperately to hold on to. But I’m afraid I’ll be left with nothing. Is God really faithful? Who knows?

It’s like the flood – it took away many of the things I had of my father’s. And I’ve chosen to finally end contact with his relatives, to the best of my ability (I mean, if they e-mail me or something, which rarely happens, I will be polite and respond, but I’m done going out of my way to be a part of their lives). It’s like the events were God’s way of saying “You don’t need this any more; it’s holding you back.” It makes me wonder what else I have in my life that’s holding me back…and whether I can or am even willing to let go of them. To not let go is sin; to let go is to trust. And what abused person trusts so boldly?

This is a start. Maybe it gives you some idea of where I’m at. I hope so.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I'm struggling a little bit right now, and I want to try to explain it (if only to get it out of my head for awhile).My heart feels more vibrantly alive than ever. Something in the Spirit of God is connecting deeply with something in the Spirit of Aidan, and it's really a beautiful thing. I can't really explain how deep this has penetrated me and my life, the way I am living and thinking and loving and feeling. If you've been here, I know you understand. The Spirit in me connects with the Spirit in you that has felt this.

And yet, I find myself struggling. I feel unworthy to pray. I feel unworthy to read the Bible. My heart is drawn to these things, and I am struggling and doing my best to wade my way through them. But it's not what it appears to be. As soon as my mouth begins to speak, I feel unworthy. But at the same time, I feel like I'm trying too hard. I feel God's hand on me, calming me down and begging me to be still and to let go and to stop trying so damn hard to do things the "right" way.

So while the flesh wrestles and seeks to pray rightly, to worship rightly, to read faithfully, and all the other stuff I am drawn to do, the voice of God whispers in my ear, "Shhh....you need rest."

And I do need that rest. My world has been very loud lately - something you could only understand if you were one of the thousands of voices living in my head. It's just...I feel torn in two different directions - both of which feel as though they are coming from God.

I pray for peace, and I pray for harmony, and I pray for wisdom as I navigate this desert and come to a resting place with my Father.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What's Happening to Church?

I have to admit that I'm feeling a bit like Job these days. I look back on what I've been through in the past several years, and I can't help but see the similarities. But what's hitting me hardest right now is feeling so alone in all of it. Part of this has been brought on by disaster; part by talking with a friend; and part has been building for quite awhile.

Several years ago, I feel like I could have turned to my church family for anything. I felt so loved, so wanted. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had a place in the world where I belonged, where God had ordained me to be. I was surrounded by people who professed to care about me and took care of more than just my physical needs. They were there for me, and I figured they always would be.

As time has worn on, though, and life has continued to be a struggle, I think people have just grown weary of the fight. I know I have. Now, it seems the more I search out people to ease my loneliness and fear, the more silence I find. I feel weird asking for prayer these days because it's almost as if I can hear the collective groan coming from those on the receiving end of the request. They are weary of the situation.

I have seen it numerous times in my own church, and I am sure it is happening in other churches as well. I ran into an old member the other day in Wal-Mart whose needs were simply not being met by the church any longer, and I fear it is because she, like me, was asking too often. It's happened more than once. Though personally, I don't believe there is anything wrong with this. God tells us to lift each other up in prayer, and how can you know what to pray for me if I do not tell you my needs?

I know also that because of some of my issues from growing up, I have a need for something more from people in my life. I fear having to do things on my own again, as I did for so long. God did not create me to handle life on my own; it is to be a collaborative effort between me, Him, and His church.

I see others in my church who are suffering, in ways not unlike my own. For some reason, they have the strength in them (or perhaps the defiance) to never ask for help. They don't talk about their struggles publicly, but rather shy away from it and go on as if nothing is happening. That doesn't suit me. I can't live that kind of lifestyle. For me, it's about facing things head-on and being real about them. At the same time, I try to also keep myself from dwelling on the negative and definitely try to avoid whining (not a good trait in anyone). It's not about a pity-party. It's not that I want everyone to come up to me on a Sunday morning and say "awww...poor baby." Not that at all.

I just sometimes want to feel like I'm not standing alone.

Frequently, I forget even that Jesus is standing with me. That God is right there beside me. And that's where the human form comes in handy. I have a few really good friends at church who I know are standing with me, but I can sense that even they are growing weary. I am weary. And yet, I cannot stop or rest until I nestle myself into that place God has created for me. I know He has so much more for me than I've been given these past couple of years; I know He has healing in my future. I am just waiting for that day.

Every day, I feel myself growing closer to that resting spot, to that place where I will finally be able to plant my feet for a moment and take a deep breath. I am just praying that by the time I get there, I will not be standing alone.And yet, even as I write these words, I feel the nudging of the Spirit inside of me, reminding me that I am never alone. Urging me to trust Him to be enough.

Am I off my rocker or are other people sensing this, too, in their churches? Are you seeing people ask for prayer over and over again, then sit alone on Sunday mornings? Are you seeing the congregation back away from meeting the needs of someone in the midst of hardship? Are you, like me, seeing people leave your church home for a new place more responsive and receptive to their needs? What is happening here? How can we fix it?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Life As Usual

The other night, a series of severe thunderstorms went through the area. They were quite powerful, with a lot of lightning and spawning four tornadoes. So powerful, in fact, that they woke up my entire house from sleeping.

The next morning, I woke to find the sun rising, and I must admit that I felt rather betrayed. How could the world just turn from something so scary and continue on in the face of everything? I mean, doesn't the sun know what took place in the night? It just seemed the ultimate betrayal.

And yet, on some level, I realize that this is what I am doing with my own story - waiting on the sunrise after the darkness and fear. Working toward normalcy, toward something that seems so irrational, seems to betray the past. It's complicated, I know, but it's just such a weird feeling.

That said, I am struggling most visibly with my self-esteem right now. For awhile there, I felt like I was on top of the world and could do anything. Now, I struggle with what I'm worth. I know I need to look for answers to that based on what God has to say about my worth. He is the only one with the right and the power to decide, and He loves me so much. So I need to be looking to the Bible for answers, but I'm half-scared (or more) about what I will find there because I know it runs contrary to what I am feeling about myself at this time.

That's all I'm going to write. I apologize for not having posted in awhile. I have torn a tendon in my finger, and it's rather annoying and difficult to type one-handed. But I am still in this personal transformative process, and life keeps moving. So remember me. And I'll post as much as I am able until the hand heals.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Small Victory

Today, I realized I had won a small victory. The story begins several months ago...

You see, for all of my life, I have been a Charmin gal. (For those of you unaware, Charmin is a toilet paper company.) And for most of my life, they have made the same great product. But in recent history, they decided to discontinue their superior product in favor of splitting it up. The regular Charmin became "Ultra Soft" and "Ultra Strong." Neither was quality. They both were very inferior to the regular Charmin.

As a concerned consumer, I lodged a complaint with the company after trying both new products. I explained my concerns to them, and begged them to bring back the original.

Walking through Wal-Mart today, I realized I needed to buy some toilet paper. Begrudgingly, I set my path toward the Ultra Strong. Bad as it is, it was still better than Ultra Soft. Then, it caught my eye. Charmin Basic. They brought the old product back!

It's a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Oh, and for those of you who care about such things, I graduated college this morning with my Bachelor of Arts degree. So now, I'm job hunting. I guess if nothing else, I can be a consumer advocate. Haha.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Come, Let Us Worship

I'm really struggling with the concept of church right now. See, everything is different. I know I can't explain it well enough to help you understand, but there's nothing about me that is how it used to be. Everything about me has changed (except for the clothes because, let's face it, gas prices are too high to worry about the newest fashions).

It's not the people. I love my church family to pieces, and they are my strength. It's so great to walk in on Sunday mornings and stop and talk with everyone (although there are a few people who I sometimes wish would leave me alone). It's nice to have that sense of belonging. And yet, I also have a sense of not belonging that I can't quite put my finger on. One part of me senses the caring and embraces the relationships; but another part of me realizes that these people do not truly know who I am. Heck, at this point, even I am not sure. It's changing every day.

But the less I know of the old self, the more I find out about the new. It seems like the less I know about myself, the better I know myself. A paradox.

And I'm finding that I have to come up with a different way to worship. Standing in the back just isn't doing it, but it's not really about location. It's about...spirit. There's something stronger in my heart now, something more vitally alive, that is looking for a more passionate way to worship, a more reflective, expressional way of doing this. There's a thirst for something more. And I'm not sure how I'm going to quench that; not sure what will do the trick to connect me to God in a more vibrant way, a way I am seeking.

And yet, the less I know of God, the more I know of God. Another paradox.

I don't know yet whether I'll go to church in the morning or not. I haven't been in a couple of weeks. It's nothing really against it. And I know that God wants us to go to church; the Bible is full of churches. It's just this weird, transformative journey I am on. I have to listen to those forces that are guiding me toward something greater right now and see where that leads me.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Where Self-Worth Originates

In just a few short months, my college e-mail account will fade into the history books, destroying all the records I have held there for the past three years. In preparation for this eventuality, I spent some time today looking through e-mail messages I had saved over the years. They all had one theme in common: praise.

"You're a superstar."

"You could compete at the national level RIGHT NOW and win."

"I look forward to more of your creative brilliance this semester."

Really, they mirror many of the messages I've kept in my personal e-mail account, messages from people who loved me well over the years. Having grown up without praise, these messages have built me up for so long; I have used them at times to define myself.

No longer.

As I read through them today, I realized that I am far beyond where I used to be. These messages, while still nice to read, offer nothing substantial for me right now. On some level, yes. It is nice to be noticed and appreciated and to have a reminder that people are paying attention. But on another level, no. These messages no longer define who I am. They define things, usually, that I am good at. What I do is not necessarily what I am.

That really just goes for the messages in my school inbox. Those in my personal account have more personal touches to them. But from school, it's just professors bragging about me, boosting my ego based on performance. That no longer defines me. At least, not on a personally spiritual level.

I read each one of those e-mails before permanently deleting them. The more I read, the more frustrated I got with the old self, which had allowed itself to be defined by performance for far too long. I think this is a trap that many of us get caught in - if we can just be good enough, then that makes up for everything else. That's not who I want to be.

It was a weird feeling deleting all of these messages that I knew had once meant so much to me. I'm probably going to go through my personal account and pare that all down, too. I want reinforcement of the things I am finding deep within myself, the parts of my personality and of my being that make me who I am.

Furthermore, my motivation is no longer external. It comes from somewhere deep within me, from a place where I see and feel beauty and hear the still voice of God telling me who I am. Those are the messages I should continue to listen to.

It's definitely better to be good at things than to suck at them, but if that's all I've got going in my life, then I am living a shallow existence. I want something deeper. And if I'm going to get something deeper, I have to shed all that buoys me in ego and find the air tank that will bring life at great depth.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Telling Typo

For months now, as I have wrestled with myself and with God, I have come to find myself completely incapable of typing a specific word. That word, is "destroy." Even typing slowly just now, I mis-typed it at first. It's not very often that we use such a powerful word in our society. What is ever truly destroyed? But the way I've been typing it tells a lot.

I've been typing "destory." As in de-story. As in to take away the story of.

That's fitting. The quickest way to destroy someone is to destory them. Once you take away all that a person has about himself or herself, what are they left with? Nothing but devastation.

And in the healing process, it is important that we not destory ourselves. It's easy to believe we are on the path to healing when really, we are just stripping ourselves of story and sinking back into the quicksand of denial. Each step along the way for me, I ask myself if I am de-storying or re-storying my life. Because even though destroy is only one letter transposition away from destory, restory is only one letter away from restore.

I believe I am re-storying myself. Each day comes with a level of new understanding, a new insight I didn't have before. That's where the key to the future lies, at least in my view. And we are free to restory ourselves as we see fit, as long as we keep the original translation in mind. It's never about losing our stories or changing the past; it's about grabbing hold of the present and changing the future. To re-story isn't to change what already happened; it's to create anew all the possibilities that have yet to become.

Are you destorying or restorying your life? What are you going to do about that?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Coming to Faith

It amazes me sometimes the way people come to develop faith in their lives. Case in point: my oldest brother.

He is staunch anti-religious, particularly anti-Christian. He shuddered and stormed out of the house, slamming the door behind him, when my mother and I got "In God We Trust" license plates. How could we ever subject ourselves to that kind of irrational thinking? he asked. He was utterly disappointed in us and had no qualms about saying so.

For Christmas every year, he gets me a book about a different religion. This year, it was a study version of the Baghavad Gita. I don't really mind - it's fun to study different belief systems, something that has always interested me. And I am a bit of a pluralist - I believe every belief system has something to offer the Christian, even if it is sometimes just a more firm implanting of Christian doctrine.

But yesterday, he walked in the front door with the aid of a cane. 27 years old, walking with a cane. His back has been bothering him for some time - several years, I believe - and he's found no relief in modern medicine. He's tried all the drugs, the exercises, the careful living...nothing has helped him. Reduced to a cane, he sought out alternative treatment. He went to the chiropractor.

This was a radical shift for him. It is a science he does not understand nor believe in. Even as he stood by the door (he has always preferred to stand) leaning on his cane, he ranted against the "pseudo-science" of chiropractics and called it the closest thing to faith he's ever experienced in his life. (This is not quite true; during his teenage years, he experimented with Christianity at the whim of a girl he was dating and decided it wasn't for him after they broke up.) Regardless...it was his first step toward faith.

Obviously, faith means something different for him than it does for me. For me, it is centered around God. For him, it is slightly different, still rooted in the belief in something he cannot understand, but nothing in particular. But it is interesting to see him on this journey, openly admitting his shifting feelings toward faith and its valuable role in life, even in his life.

Do I think he will ever get to the point where he goes to church and adopts my faith? No. I am not that naive. But any faith journey, any time when we come face-to-face with that which we cannot see, is admirable in my eyes. Maybe this is his first step; maybe it is his last step. Either way, he's committed to seeing the chiropractor, the "spiritual healer," as my brother called him, every other day until the pain subsides and he can live again.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Spider Bite

Never opposed to learning new facts, I had an interesting conversation with one of the campus doctors the other day. Last weekend, I was bitten by what we can only assume was a brown recluse spider. The bite itself is rather impressive. By Thursday, it was massive (and massively infected) and the infection was spreading to the rest of my body, so I sought out some help. And she explained to me why such bites look so nasty:

Most skin wounds heal over the top, then fill in the space underneath over time, so we don't really know how long it takes them. But a spider bite heals from the bottom up, starting in the depths and building up new layers slowly, so we get to watch it heal.

I took this to heart, and I wondered how much of my life I spent waiting on God to heal my skin wound...when what I really needed was the healing of a spider bite. See, the trouble is this: if something heals over the top before filling in below it, anything that scrapes off that temporary covering brings it all back again. But if the healing process is slow, coming from the depths, then there is no danger in re-opening the wound once it is healed.

This is a major shift in my paradigm. Not long ago, I would have told you that complete healing, total restoration from the ravages of abuse is not possible, not even with God. But now, I'm not sure that thinking was accurate. I believe that as the layers fill in from the deepest parts of my soul, I will build up stronger and complete, though I will always carry a scar. But it is a scar without danger - peeling away one layer of scar will not reveal wound; it will reveal only more scar, more toughness, more healing.

How much time have you spent asking God to heal your skin wound, all the while missing out on Him healing your spider bite?

Friday, April 25, 2008


As the Lebanese civil war raged on, the curator of the Beirut museum worried about his art and artifacts. Constant shelling and mortar fire between East and West Beirut threatened to damage the goods. To protect his wares, he built wooden frames around each item, then filled in the air with concrete, locking away the precious inside the safe. His theory was that later, after the shelling and mortar fire stopped, they could chisel out what they had tucked away.

And he knew every piece by its location. He still gave tours of the museum, pointing to this or that concrete block before talking about what treasure lay inside of it.

People have been touring my landscape for years. I, too, have been hidden inside of a concrete block, the walls of defense I had put up around myself to live through civil war, to avoid the mortar rounds and shells. Some saw only the walls, the defenses, and could not believe anything valuable lay hidden beneath it all. Others saw through me the entire time, noting only the beauty that lay within. It is this latter group that I am now most thankful for - the people who never gave up on me when I gave up on myself.

I don't know whether he ever got to chisel the museum fodder out of the concrete or not or how it turned out if he did. All I know is that every day now, I am being chipped away at - shaped not only by how I see what is inside myself, but also by what others have seen and refused to give up on. Especially God.

I read something in the Bible or get a sense from looking out a window of what was created 23 years ago (24 if you count gestation - which raises the question...why aren't we born 1 year old? Anyway...), and I see where God is. He's holding the chisel.

In my portfolio, I hold a drama about this very principle, but I never saw it in myself until now (and I have never performed this skit). It's God, holding the chisel, chipping away at everything a man holds dear until there's nothing left but Spirit, nothing but God and man, barebones. And ironically, man ends up more whole than when God began, despite all the holes.

There's something hole-y about wholeness. Isn't that ironic?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What God Wants

God told Abraham to rise and take his little boy to a lonely place they call Moriah's Hill. God said, "There, you'll sacrifice your precious pride and joy and you'll be blessed in ways I cannot tell."

Last night, as I lay in bed falling asleep, I remembered the words of an old friend, Dave Carnes. After days of talking with him, he was getting increasingly angry with me, and he just exploded. He talked about how I was squashing the Spirit within me, how I was so resistant to everything God wanted to do in my life. Finally, he just screamed "God wants to bless your face off!"

So I got to thinking - what is it that God wants to do in my life? And I could feel the resistance inside of me. It's still there this morning, and it will probably still be there tomorrow. I just don't know how to let go and let God, but all of a sudden, that saddens me. I really feel what Dave told me so many years ago - I am killing the Spirit inside of me by my unwillingness to be open.

I feel like, over the last several years of fighting illness, I have drawn closer to God. It's playing out in my life in significant ways. At the same time, I am suddenly keenly aware that right now, my relationship with God consists of Him providing me only with what I need or want. He's yet to give me what HE wants, because I keep refusing to accept it.

It's hard because I've never really understood God. I don't think any of us really do, at least not until we meet Him face-to-face. And it's hard for me to not understand what's going on, especially in my own life. So sometimes, all I can do is sit back and sing...

If this is what God wants, if this is what God says, then who am I to doubt or try to figure out this circumstance? If this is what God chose for me in all His majesty, then surely, I can trust and lean on what God says.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Earth Trembled

"Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen." - Psalm 77:18-19

This morning, the earth shook. I'm not sure if it's allowed to do that or not. I mean, just to start moving like that and wreak havoc on everything.

I was awake, leaning up against the outside wall. All of a sudden, there was the loudest noise and what felt like the strongest wind. I'm used to the house shaking...sort of. At least, I thought I was. I live in an old, wooden house that is mostly plaster and no insulation. It shakes every time the wind blows. So I took it for a strong wind or the collapse of my neighbor's garage, which they are currently remodeling. No, it was a 5.2-5.4 magnitude earthquake. And the aftershocks are still coming.

This reminds me of the awesome power of my God, a God who can cause the earth to tremble. And tremble. And tremble. It's just a powerful reminder for me that when God decides to move, the whole world is going with Him. And it reminds me that every time God shakes up my life, it produces aftershocks that affect others. There are no isolated events, no one-time occurrences. God is here for me today, tomorrow, and forever, just as He was here yesterday, and there are others who are watching my life, hoping to see God.

I pray they do.

"Open up the doors and let the music play. Let the streets resound with singing."

Did YOU feel the mountains tremble?

Friday, April 11, 2008

See, Sense, Feel

I wish you could see the world the way I see it. I want you to live it with me, to touch it and embrace it in the way that I now can, a way I never could or never did before.

It seems so different now, though I'm unsure whether I can explain just how or not. For years, I have struggled so severely inside of myself - both with internal and external forces. But it was not until the other day that I realized how truly dead I've become. And I learned that all from a blade of grass.

It was green. I remember that so clearly because, suddenly, it was so clear that I had forgotten. It had never hit me before just how much illness and stress suck the life out of a person. But I saw that blade of grass and it was so clearly...green. And the thought popped into my mind - "Grass is green."

Then, "Sky is blue."

Then, "Sun is bright. Light is good. Rain is wet. Life is tangible."

It was like I could reach out and touch the world, and the world was touching me. As the warmth and the light came into my body, it was like life was breathing back into me. I can't quite explain it, there are no words that can wrap around it and grasp the situation.

But I wish you could see the world the way I see it. I want you to live it with me, to touch it and embrace it in the way that I now can, a way I never could or never did before.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Roly Poly

Roly Polies are magical creatures. I saw one today on the sidewalk as I walked from my class to my car, and it instantly put a smile on my face.

Remember the days of our youth? We spent so much time looking under rocks hoping to find one of these neat little bugs that rolls into a ball when you touch it. It's a protective mechanism, sure, but it's also just darn cute and intriguing. It's embarrassing to admit - even at 23, I still think it's cute. And I still smile.

Not many protective mechanisms make us smile. We're so good at the things we do to protect ourselves, and most of the time, they work, but we, like the sal beetle, get stuck in our protection and can no longer move. We can no longer see what's coming after us because we've got our head tucked between our feet. So it works, but at what cost?

God amazes me. He's given us so many ways that we protect ourselves. For me, it's always been hatred and denial. And they work, but they also paralyze us.

What's the point of a defense mechanism if it inevitably leaves you more vulnerable?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


One of my passions is drama. There's something about the way it tugs at the heart that is just magical. I guess, spiritual. I read about a drama in another blog, and it's just so awesome and really got me thinking, even without having seen it. (Plus, I keep mulling it over in my head in case the time is ever right to bring it to my home church.)

This drama has people coming across the stage, carrying a sign proclaiming their woundedness.
"18 years of addiction and sin"
"unbearable grief"
"childless and discouraged"

Then, (I assume after some lesson on redemption), they turn their signs over. On the other side is written a message of ransom.
"5 years of joy, peace, and forgiveness"
"indescribable joy"
"blessed by adoption"

It's powerful. And it makes me wonder - what would be on my sign? What would be on your sign? Does Jesus have a sign? I'm sure He does.

Perhaps my sign might say "23 years of bondage and imprisonment." Maybe it'd be "abused and abandoned." Or "Shame and Self-Contempt."

But I know that on the other side, it would say "Ransomed." For I have been redeemed, bought back, restored.

When I began this blog a few days ago, after years of blogging about pain and misery, my minister told me that being ransomed is all about having that which was taken from you brought back. Rather, given back by the One who has the authority to take away and to give.

I am finding this already to be true in my new life, my new birth that is coming about. Yesterday, I saw the doctor. Last year at about this time, she was able to tell, in no uncertain terms, the abuse I had suffered at the hands of man. My body was ravaged, damaged in such an obvious way that there were no questions left. This year, at the same time, the damage has all but vanished. There are still some signs, but there is purity being restored in a way that, honestly, I cannot explain nor describe. It's a glorious, beautiful feeling.

I don't think it matters any more what the front of my sign would say. All that is important is when it is flipped over. The back makes no sense without the front, but it also wipes the front clean.

As I sit in purity, in quiet reflection, I feel ransomed.

How do you feel? What's your sign?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wrestling with God

Jacob was so lucky! Somewhere in Genesis, he got to wrestle with God. He was just walking along one day and God ambushed him. (What an image! God jumping out from behind a bush and yelling "Boo" and then proceding to beat up a guy.) But once it was over, it was over. Jacob knew exactly where he stood. He stood anew as Israel and proceeded to build a nation.

If only it were that simple.

Some days, I feel ambushed by God. I'm just walking along, minding my own business, and then it hits me. It's that something that cannot be quite described but is so distinctively holy. And I think it hits me because it comes in my unholiness. But once it's over, I know where I stand with God - beloved, adored, cherished, redeemed, whole, loved. Until I forget again.

I'll probably never stand tall and build a nation. It's doubtful at this point if I will stand tall at all. The weight of the world has been on my shoulders for so long, and I am only now beginning to find new life. It is in this new life, and in honesty, that I begin this blog. It is my record of redemption as I wrestle with God and struggle with the issues that are going to come between He and I.

So please join me on my newest journey. Challenge me to grow, to look at things in a new light, and to stay true to my path. Pray for me; challenge me to pray for you. And let's walk life together as I wrestle myself and wrestle with God.

But never let us forget, for I am already ransomed. The chains have fallen, and I am free.