Monday, April 25, 2011

Making myself weak by hiding my weakness

I'm struggling again with the toxic thing. I rode into town (big city) yesterday forgetting to bring my carbon filter (bad idea). If I had it to do over again I would have been late to our appointment and gone back for it... what was I thinking? I spent the night shivering, trying to rest. This morning I feel like a was run over by a truck!

No, I really don't want sympathy. I want to offer camaraderie for other sufferers of MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities). I want to let people know what helps. If you suffer with MCS and haven't tried carbon filters like these you are suffering more than you have to.

But then I want to go back to that question... what was I thinking? Why was I willing to pay this price for something unimportant in the whole scheme of things. Why am I willing to squander my health for insignificant things? I know it's important for me to push through how I feel sometimes. If I didn't do that I would never do anything but it feels like sometimes I do things that compromise my health because I don't want to draw attention or because I hate being frail or maybe just because I am in denial about what it does to me? What's the deal with that God? (listening) Hmmm I am not really hearing the LORD in this place. It feels like I am afraid to hear Him because I don't want Him to say, "You have to do more!" What about that God? (listening) Hmmm what I hear is that God is a God of rest. I'm reminded of Mark 2:27-28, "“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.”" What does rest have to do with my question? (listening) Hmmm well, I feel a deep sense of God understanding my exhaustion, wow, it feels amazing to feel understood!

So I'm going back to the original question, God what is driving me to keep going when it is a health risk for me? (listening) Hmmm, I hate looking frail... weak, being "in the way" or a "bother" Gak! those are all shame labels. Am I shaming myself into inaction? (listeing) Well, that feels true, I am risking my health so that I "look" healthy (How ridiculous is that?)

But my health issue is not who I am in the LORD. I have purpose, my weakness has purpose. God says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 "“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." Wow, boast in my infirmities, I'm a long ways from being OK with that! But it is interesting that I, like many, hide anything that makes me look weak or frail. Which can often immediately make me weaker and more frail. I suppose that if I "boast" in my infirmities or at least be comfortable in my own skin and not hide my struggle I would have more potential to recoup and recover.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Humility and sand fleas

I went to the beach yesterday. The sun was warm and the sea a beautiful blue. The sea is so full of life, awesome in its beauty and terrible in it's power. There is life everywhere, in the sky, on the rocks, even under the sand.

There were huge (huge to me) sand flea type things in the sand. They were a great attraction for the birds but a little unnerving when standing barefooted on the sand. The waves rolled in sweeping the sand from under our feet sometimes leaving a squirming creature skin to shell. (shudder!)

I love the sea. For God and I it is a connection point. I know God's universe is huge but take a look at the ocean and that knowledge becomes experiential. life, beauty and power are everywhere. At the same time, it is absolutely clear how much we are incapable of controlling. The ocean is a dangerous unpredictable place. Just like as C.S. Lewis said in his books "Chronicles of Narnia" Aslan is not a tame lion.

Humility depends on the realization of how little if anything we can control. Sometimes in my tiny sphere of day to day life I begin to believe I can control my world. Sometimes I squander massive energy chasing after the illusion that control is possible or even vital. But standing unshielded before God's masterpiece brings my world back into perspective!
ocean masterpiece

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

In spite of winter, summer is coming

We had a whopper of a storm here last night. I lost power and cable in the midst of deafening cracks, booms and streaks of light. How can you have a thunderstorm when it’s only 35 degrees outside? Even though Easter is less than a week away it feels like winter brrrrr! We had over 3 inches of snow a few days ago.

As winter lingers and spring waits to let loose I find it difficult to figure out what to do with myself. Should I plant more in my garden? Well, when? It’s too dang cold outside to think about digging, not to mention wet. There is nothing to do around here but build another fire and wait in expectation of warmth.

Sometimes I think that is true spiritually as well. It was a long process for God to teach me that He is good… always good. Nothing that happens is outside of His control and in spite of that, He is good.

Sometimes when I fear that He might not be in control…or good, I try to make peace and safety happen. I don’t like conflict or uncertainty. I don’t like that place between winter and spring. It’s cold and wet and icky, the few hints of summer’s return are smothered in drizzle or wet sloppy snow. It feels like summer will never come. Sometimes in deep conflict or terrifying uncertainty it feels the same… or worse. Like the warmth of love in relationship will never return or like any hint of good things are smothered in something cold.

But, I expect summer to peek around the corner any day. I have planted seeds in expectation of it. I have let my wood pile dwindle feeling certain I have months before I will need to replenish it. As I have learned that God is good my uncertainty in relationships is less catastrophic. Though I can’t predict another’s response, in one sense it doesn’t matter. I can know that summer will again come. … I am anchored in the one who will carry me through.

So as I look out at the drizzly sky, I am praising God today just for the expectation of summer, warmth, and grace.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Exchanging Safety for messing vulnerability"

I was checking out a new book published by Windblown Media. It’s called Bo’s CafĂ©. The book description on their web page has this line, “Exchanging safety for messy vulnerability” Wow, that’s sums it up doesn’t it? It reminds me of a saying I once had on my wall, “A ship in the harbor is safe but that is not what a ship is made for (William Shedd or Grace Hopper?)

I don’t like “messy” in relationships. To tell you the truth it frightens me. Well, what frightens me is taking the risk of “messy” with someone who has the power in my life to wound. Don’t get me wrong I believe in exchanging safety for messy vulnerability but it is exchanging safety!

Safety is a luxury and yet it is also a necessity. It’s hard for me to walk the balance between safety and vulnerability. Losses in my life have taught me that you can’t predict who will forsake you relationally when things get “messy” and yet no one can live life as an island.

I have some buoy people, that is people who keep me from going adrift and losing myself. I have been messy and vulnerable and they have stuck with me in spite of it. In many ways there is only one way to know if a relationship will stand the test of time and messiness. That is taking the time and testing the waters exchanging safety for messy maybe in less vulnerable things first.

I also have people in my life who are not safe with my vulnerability. I teach women to listen to the alarm bells that go off inside their heads. God gave us intuition as a protection. We have taught people to ignore their insight and “buck up”. I don’t agree! Shame can drive us into exchanging safety for abuse. So God where is the line? (listening) Wow, the sense I have which seems intended for me very personally is how huge of a need I have for safety, that it’s important to meet that need first before I risk vulnerability and that He is the source of that safety.

Wow, that’s cool! The sense I have is of coming to Him to be secured before walking into any situation that involves vulnerability. Maybe it isn’t exchanging safety for messy vulnerability but getting safety outside of human relationship so that vulnerability is possible?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Back to believing the best and traffic court

1 Corinthians 13:7b in the amplified version says this,”Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person” Really? In that context, how many people do you love? Yeah-- me too. You see, I’ve been hurt before and I often find myself kind of shored up so that I won’t be hurt again. That means, it feels safer for me to prepare for the worst in people rather than believe the best. God what about that? (listening) Hmmm the sense I have is that people rise to our expectations. I think that’s true… so does that mean that when I prepare for the worst, the worst comes out in people? (listening) Ouch! I know that’s true, I remember learning that concept while raising my children. If you believe in your children, and truly work to put your trust in them (which sometimes means confronting dishonesty in a way that brings resolve) they live up to your expectation of being trustworthy. Sometimes my kids mess up, but I believe they don’t want to. There is no greater gift you can give your children than that.

I teasingly practice this passage when we are driving and someone who is obviously in a hurry cuts in front of our car. I have replaced that exploitive of exasperation with something like, “Well, their wife must be having a baby in the back seat” lol!

It is possible! I once went to traffic court to contest my own speeding ticket. ( I had a lame excuse) The man ahead of me was from an eastern block country. He and his pregnant wife were in America on a visa. While here his wife went into labor, he took her to the hospital but was refused admittance because he had forgotten her visa. In a panic he left her in the waiting room and raced home. On the way back to the hospital, he was pulled over and cited for speeding. The poor man was a wreck. He didn’t know what to expect from an American court. It was comically sad. (Hopefully hospitals have learned something since then!) The judge sent him rejoicingly on his way and then turned to me and asked, “Can you beat his story?”

I was thinking about ANTs (automatic, negative thoughts), how ANTs effect our health and well being, and believing the best. There is so much written in scripture to protect us. Perhaps believing the best of people is a gift to both the one believing the best, and the one who is given the benefit of the doubt.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Half full or Half Empty?

Do you look at a glass and see it half full or half empty? I am thinking more about ANTs that is automatic negative thoughts. I understand that they are toxic, meaning that they are self destructive when we have them. I understand that they can actually change the way your brain develops and build a pattern of … hmmm well bitter thinking but I am beginning to think that they are destructive to others as well. I am thinking of Hebrews 12:15b which says, “lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;” I have had that passage twisted in my life before and used as an attack on those whose prophetic gifting drives them to speak truth in opposition to violations. I think in reaction I haven’t really looked at this passage before. In the context of ANTs it is making sense to me.

So, do you look at a glass and see it half full or half empty? Do I look at the glass half full or half empty? Does that perception spread to others around me? Are ANTs like red ANTs… the kind that bite? Do they crawl out of our mouths and start stinging everyone around us?The thing about ANTs that makes me feel a little trapped is that they are automatic. How do you stop yourself from going there, from thinking negatively?

If you go back to the post-traumatic stress idea where incidents go round and round in your head. In my mind, is your brain trying to process the unprocessable. There is evil in this world and there is no way to make sense of it. God how do you stop negative things from rolling around in there? (listening) The sense I have is that it goes back to what you believe.

I recently was sitting in a hospital praying. Sometimes I don’t know how to pray. I don’t know the right things to ask. I don’t know all the parameters, I don’t know what I’m asking-- if that makes any sense.

This time all I could think to say was I knew that God is good and He has only the very best in mind, that He was there and that there was more to the situation than I could imagine. So I took to praising Him. It was a better way to spend the hours than worrying and fretting. However, ifI believed that God is unpredictable or vindictive, then what can I have but ANTs and those ANTs might change everything about my response in any given situation.

Going one step further, there was someone else in the room waiting with me. Fear is contagious. I’m sure that ANTs spread. They certainly spread from others to me. I wonder what I can do to prevent my own ANTs from biting others and keep other people’s ANTs from biting me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One step in the right direction

I got everything on my list done today, everything but the things that seem most important to me. My day started at 6am simply because I couldn’t sleep any later. I cooked, cleaned, ran errands, got a lot accomplished but my head feels like it is about to explode. Is it too full or too empty? I’m not sure. I hear Jesus somewhere in the back of my mind as he says, “And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41

I don’t really feel “worried and troubled” so much as distracted. This week has been full of so much. It’s been a week of ups and downs, joys and fears. I’m weary and I know that I need to process but sometimes processing takes time I don’t have. What about that God? (listening) Hmmm my head is full of a call to rest. How can you rest in the midst of so much? (listening) Hmmm, over the past month and a half I have been learning more deeply how much God is the one that will bring it about…. I’m not to make it happen, I’m to let it happen. Like resting, it’s not about making time to rest it’s about receiving rest from the LORD. That’s a bit hard to explain. More and more I am seeing that if I am willing to walk in the way the LORD sets before me, He then opens up that way.

It’s like the Israelites as they started to cross the Jordan River into the promise land (Joshua 3:14-17). Nothing happened until they got their feet wet. After the priests stepped into the river, the river dried up before them and they could take the next step. I don’t have to make things happen… I just have to walk in the right direction. I’ve got to admit… sometimes that’s hard enough :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

ANTs, Post-Traumatic stress and God's way out

I read a book years ago called “None of These Diseases” by S. I. M.D. McMillen and David E. M.D. M.D. Stern. It was based on Exodus 15:26 which says, “And He said, " If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer."” I’m not sure what of my ideas came from that book but I find the promise in this Exodus passage interesting when you consider that much of the law had to do with cleanliness, washing your hands before you eat, how to handle disease among the people and disposal of dead things. It was centuries before people understood scientifically how to prevent the spread of disease but the solution was already in their hands.

I was thinking about that in connection with Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Doctor Amen, of the Amen Clinics writes a book called “Change your Brain, Change your Life.” In it he talks about killing the “ANTs” which are automatic negative thoughts. He talks about breaking anxiety and depression by killing ANTs. Most understand the effects of stress on our bodies and on our lives. It is hard to know what to do to combat the things that bombard us day by day but again if we take God’s word to heart there are answers to there that I had never really considered. Want to know how to kill those ANTs? Dwell… live on the true, honorable, right, pure things… dig and find the things worthy of praise and live there

I don’t believe that means to stuff it or refuse to feel what you can’t help feeling. Much of what goes round and round in our heads is really post-traumatic stress. Things replay in our minds because our brains are trying to process the unthinkable. Twisty, hurtful and wrong… the thing that we can never seem to process is evil. I don’t believe we were ever created to experience evil. It always feels like a punch in the gut when we experience it and there is no way to make sense of it. But our brains try, and try, and try. But God did give us ways to survive evil one of which is to shine a light on the path out of the darkness. That is turning our eyes from the evil and focusing it on the good. Not denying that the evil is there but taking away it’s power by turning to the LORD in our pain.

Sometimes my way of doing battle against the enemy is to write music. I figure if I write a praise song every time satan attacks me he might back off. Now, as I look at that passage in Philippians 4 it makes even more sense. When I am laid flat by evil, or left flailing by some twisted truth, recognizing that the path out is focusing my eyes on Jesus instead of on the waves. (Matthew 14:28-30)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How sweet our Abba's love for us.

I spent the last two days waiting in a hospital. Waiting for the bringing forth of new life. Birth is such a holy thing. It teaches us from the get go how much we can not control. I have never watch two people more intent on doing what is best for their child, paying any price to offer the very best of beginnings. Wow, tough decisions too. It's hard sometimes to know which path to chose. It isn't always a choice for the child to know no hardship... just the least hardship.

I turn my face back to my Abba who also had to make hard, hard choices. I think He also chose the path most honoring of His son. That may seem hard to understand but as I look at the love these two parents have for their child... I see mirrored the love both Father and Son have for their created children. In that love any price is payable for the sake of the loved.

Welcome to our world sweet child. You are loved!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fire from Heaven, hostages and wheat

I did some processing the other day. I walked through some old pain that was stirred up and I asked again the old question, “God, why didn’t you step in and DO something?” Since I have instances in my journey where some were physically/emotionally hurtful but just as hurtful were those that stood by and watched as if nothing horrible was happening. Grrrr! I get all the psychological reasons but how can you stand by and watch? I don’t think I can ever get that.

That gets twisty sometimes when it feels like God stood by and watched too. When I feel like it can make God frightening and unapproachable. Many times I ask Him point blank. “Well, what were YOU doing? What makes you different? I suppose it might sound precocious but I have never felt anything but delight from the LORD for my honesty and directness. He wants true followers. I wouldn’t be true if I buried my questions so as not to be disrespectful.

Sometimes I most relate to the disciples James and John. Jesus called them the sons of thunder. In Luke 9:54-56 after Jesus was rejected by the Samaritans for political reasons maybe? It says this about James and John. “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”” I think fire from heaven would be a good response don’t you? But Jesus said to them in response, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.

Can Jesus love both the victim and the abuser? Is there a difference? There are many places where God says He hates oppression. Why can’t I see that? I want to see Him step in if He hates oppression! When I really need to see God’s response to violence and oppression I turn back to Psalms 18. That’s a cool Psalm. There He is sending out hailstones and coals of fire. :)

This time though I asked Jesus why He didn’t step in and I got an unusual answer. In the pain that I was processing I felt surrounded by people who didn’t react or step in. I wanted God to send down fire from heaven and burn them all! But the picture I had was of a hostage crisis where the goal is first to rescue the hostages then deal with the hostage takers. I am thinking of a movie called “Inside Man”. In the movie everyone was dressed the same. The hostages and the perpetrators all were given the same suits. Then they were mixed up so that no one could tell who was who.

That reminds me of the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30) where the enemy planted tares among the wheat seeds. The owner of the field decided for the sake of the wheat the tares should be left alone until the harvest. Hmmm, Interesting thoughts as I relate all this to evil and its effect. I know in a field full of weeds the wheat won’t do as well as in a field that has none. But where in the world are we isolated from evil?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I woke up to a cold house this morning. The furnace isn’t working and my husband’s out of town. For the next two days I will have to heat exclusively with wood. Its sad how much we take for granted in our lives. I read an article yesterday about a gal who turned her whole village around by getting help putting in a foot powered water pump and growing vegetables. I have nothing to complain about. :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 52 looking for progress

It’s been a little over 50 days since I have started this blogging adventure. I have been trying to listen to God each day for what I am supposed to accomplish for the day. There are some days when it seems hard to figure out what is my desire to do for the day and what is God’s desire for the day. Some days it’s clear as a bell but others not so much. I haven’t decided if I am not clear on those days because I am not clear or because God isn’t giving a definitive answer. Sometimes He answers as I go about my day… like yesterday, who could have predicted in the morning what would happen the rest of the day? I got a phone call midday and God whispered, “This is important, listen up” And so the rest of my day was laid out.

There are some cool things to point out overall though. One is, God would have me do way less than I think I “Should” do in a day. Because I struggle regularly with low energy, I tend to wait for a day when I feel better and then cram a bunch of things in the day because who knows when I will have another “good” day. When I am listening to God, I tend to do one hard thing in a day (hard meaning something that costs energy). When I do that, I seem to have more energy over all… I am evening out a bit and having less total crashes.

I also quit way sooner. I don’t go places I sometimes think I “should” go. I stay at home more often which gives me the time to bring it into better order.

I have since I started this brought many things to order. My paperwork is in better order than it has been in perhaps a decade or more. My house though a bit cluttered this morning is in way better order over all. There are only three dishes in my sink as I rise this morning. There are a few things on my table but most are pertinent for my day today.

There are other things that seem out of order but mostly they seem to be next in line or maybe they show up as the other things come to order. One of those is my attachment to the internet. Somehow I am managing my pain by filling my brain with empty facts. Some facts are important to know… I like to learn new things but when the house is empty at the end of the day sometimes I avoid the emptiness by making noise. I think that is the next thing to face and bring to order.

I have felt led to try some different supplements, and I have changed the way my house looks and feels, I have changed my patterns throughout my day without even realizing it. I can’t tell what single thing has made the difference but I am not nearly as exhausted. There has always been this deep, in your bones kind of exhaustion that I have lived with I guess since I acquired MCS that has been missing for the last few weeks. It is WAY amazing!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wooing a broken heart

Ever ask God why? Why did this happen? Why that? I have questioned God’s integrity on every turn I think. But God has been very patient with me. He has had to earn my trust. Not because He has wronged me but because I have been wronged so many times before. I have learned to be tough and wise in the ways of the world. I am not easily fooled. Nor am I easily reached.

Still, on my tough days, when things in the present are hurtful or frightening, sometimes my first reaction is to run in the wrong direction. The thing is my life, my brain, everything is held together in Him (Colossians 1:17) so I can’t run very far before everything falls apart!

I don’t believe God gets frustrated with that… would you if I was your toddler? God is wooing a broken heart. I picture Him often on His knees getting small enough to really look me in the face. Some would not think of God this way but isn’t that how and why Jesus came? Did He come to save us from our sins? Or did He come to restore relationship? Sure one needed to be accomplished and to open the way for the other but the driving motivation was reconciliation.

On a personal level reconciliation means wooing a broken winged, scared, delicate little bird and building enough trust to touch her and bring healing. That has taken a lot of time and patience. I have often treated God like another deserved. But He has been so very sweet and kind in response.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Processing money and learning who's boss

God and I did a lot of processing yesterday. Money in many ways feels like an enemy to me. Sometimes it feels like I can’t help but serve money, like it has so much control over my life that I feel trapped into doing the “financially responsible” thing. I don’t want to be financially irresponsible. How can you tell what is moving in trust and what is financially irresponsible? I am stumped! I felt trapped yesterday and afraid, not exactly afraid because of money but perhaps still in reaction to it.

Fear or worry for me is an indicator. It means that somewhere inside of me satan (I don’t think is name ought to be capitalized grrr!) is getting a foothold. The word fear has so many connotations. I know some times it means respect, like I have respect for a warning sign that says, “DANGER!” I respect a rattlesnake that brings a new understanding to fear and trembling.

But there is a kind of fear that is an entity, the “spirit of fear” Like in 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear” (italics mine) Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear” (italics mine) That word again implies to me that I once was in bondage to fear but I’m not anymore.

I am better than I used to be at recognizing the difference between fear that is respect of dangerous or powerful things and the spirit of fear. Yesterday the spirit of fear knocked on my brain. It felt good to recognized the attack early, before I made a huge mess of things (maybe? Well, if you only count yesterday.). Yesterday I turned to the LORD in my fear instead of screaming at others around me to make me feel better… safe.

God and I figured out that I freak out when given impossible tasks and are expected to accomplish them. Hmmm, but though mastering money feels impossible, it’s not. :)