Going to War

I am so hit or miss on this blog.  I would love to be more faithful about writing on it, but the truth of the matter is that my life is in a whirlwind state right now.  School consumes most of the time and energy.  Even if I am not working on school, my brain is thinking about what needs to be accomplished for this weeks assignments.  Maybe things will slow do and I will do more writing soon.  Who am I kidding anyway; it’s not like I have many who follow this.  I would guess I could count those who read it on both my hands.  Anyway, this morning, on my Sunday morning run, I ended up with something I thought deserved the attention to type and share.  What is it about the Sunday morning run?  It is usually so so so good and God really meets me there.  I mean He meets me every morning, but on Sunday morning, He really meets me.

I have been being tormented by these nagging fears about my children.  I went through the stupid, dangerous decision stage with the oldest one.  She seems to have outgrown it and is making pretty tremendous strides toward responsible adulthood.  I had to pray my way through that stage.  Now it’s time for child number two to make the stupid decisions.  I know that I really have no control and have to do the best I can and trust the God loves him more than I do.  This time, I am plagued with doubt.  I have the constant almost panic in my chest, “what if I am not doing something I need to do; what if he does something that leads to his death, or to something that will affect his record and won’t go away; what if he…..” This goes on and on.  I pray for him and I know he is in God’s hands, but this panic seems to start small at my toes, then it grows and swells and if I don’t keep a handle on it, it can literally wash over me like a wave.  It’s like the accuser sits on my shoulder and says, “you have messed up, you aren’t doing the right thing, there is something more you should be doing, you are depending too much that grace takes care of this.”  I know that anxiety and control are things that I struggle with, so I don’t let it go unchecked.  I start praying immediately.  It just seems the last couple days have been relentless.  The enemy has been whispering accusation, doubt and fear into me.

This morning it started as I hit the pavement and I started chatting with the Lord about it as I ran.  Then the Spirit of God rose up in me and started answering all those accusation with truth.

“How can you depend too much on grace?”  Really, seriously, what a ridiculous accusation to throw at me.  Grace is all I have; grace is everything.  I am not saying I throw up my hands and don’t do anything else with my son, but grace is EVERYTHING.  Grace to endure, grace to rest, grace for wisdom, grace for mistakes, grace for my son, grace to trust, believe and pray.  Grace is everything.

It was then I realized that I was going into battle.  This has been a spiritual attack and the enemy is using his age-old strategy.  In fact, the only strategy he has; the one he used in the garden.  He comes and plants seeds of doubt in God’s goodness, His ability; he tries to separate us from God and get us to try to handle things independent of God, because he knows that the only way to get to us is to pry us away from dependence on God.  If he can get us to step outside of the cleft of the rock where we are hidden in Christ then he has a chance to cause trouble.

Of course, I need God’s grace when it comes to raising my kids.  I mean, really everyone does, but we really need it in deep measures.  My husband and I are keenly aware of how desperately we need His grace.  We don’t have great role models; we don’t know what we are doing.  Most of the time we are like, “what now?”  But by God’s grace, He knows that we are incapable and that we are flawed.  He didn’t give us children so we could prove what great parents we are.  He gave us children to drive us to our knees knowing we are flawed, we have no idea what we are doing and we desperately need Him.  If it is up to us to raise God-fearing, productive members of society, things are truly and completely hopeless.

At this point, I started to re-realize why we put God’s word in our hearts.  We put it there so that when the enemy comes at us with lies, we can remember the truth.  It is the sword of the Spirit.  It is the weapon we use to fight; it is an anchor to our soul.  It tells us who God is, who we are and what the truth is.  If you don’t have the truth planted in your heart you have to go look up the truth to fight with; it takes longer and the enemy has more time to whip you and torment you.  The time to plant the truth in your heart is when times are good and easy, when you don’t need it to fight.  If you intentionally plant the truth in your heart, it is automatic.  The Holy Spirit can begin to remind you of the truth you know.  He quickens your mind with the Word of truth.  It is the roots that tie you to the Rock when the storms come at you.

He reminded me that my son’s days were written in God’s book before ever one of them was lived.  He reminded me that my choices were fear or faith.  Being anxious and fearful does not change my son’s behavior or make him any safer than walking in the faith that says I can trust God with my son b/c He loves him more than I do.  He reminded me that He knew how this story ends and that He had, in fact, written that ending.  He reminded me that I can’t see the details and that my “bubble” ideas about the life I want him to have is not an idea that has all the facts;  God’s plan is good and brings Him glory.  He reminded me that if my son is one of God’s chosen that he is already hidden in the cleft of the Rock with Jesus.  No one can snatch God’s children from His hand.  No matter what things may look like, God always has the last say.  God has always been faithful.  I have watched Him take care of me, provide for me, protect me, guide me and fight for me for the last 20 years and before that He was working, weaving, protecting, shifting, and preparing the way for me to be adopted into His family.  He has protected me from so many things I thought I wanted and from things that should have killed, maimed, or seriously changed my life;  then there are the things that I don’t even realize that He has protected me from.

Anyway, by the time I was done running, He had reminded me of all the truth that I knew and shut the mouth of the enemy.  I had peace and the Lord, who is my warrior, had fought and won the battle against the accuser.  My mind was prepared to win the battle because the truth was inside me;  the Lord just had to quicken it to my mind.

 

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His gentle Voice

As I ran this morning, trying to keep a slower more gentle pace because today is technically my day off, I just started to have a conversation with the Lord.  Nothing extremely serious.  What I mean by that is that sometimes I go into prayer with intention and focus to pray about something specific that needs prayer or to deal with a heart issue or even to really press into His presence to prepare for a day that is filled with Him.  I was just passing the run with small talk, thanking Him for the way the wind feels on my skin as it blows across it.  Thanking Him that I have neural receptors that can feel the cool temperature of the wind, and receptors that feel the pressure of the wind and receptors that tell me where I and my body parts are in space, etc.  I know that sounds super nerdy, but biology is one of those things that definitely and most assuredly stirs my affections for the Lord.  I pondered how complex we are and how only creation by a Creator explains the perfection and complexity that is us.  This led me to begin to think and pray about the career trajectory I am on.  I had looked into the education and prerequisites the Physicians Assistant require over the last week.  I first heard the still small voice in my soul redirect me back to the trajectory I have been on for a couple years-Nurse Anesthetist.  

“Don’t get distracted; don’t doubt my plan; just keep moving forward.”

This lead me to begin praying about school, my heart, the wise use of the income this career would bring to our family, and about my children.

As I came to the end of my run, it happened.  His gentle surgeons hand opened up my heart to remove a cancerous lie that I didn’t even realize had taken root in me.  He is so good to do that, usually quite unexpectantly, but I love that He does it.

I was thinking about my children and the regrets I have for the way things have gone at times in their lives.  We have lived on a pretty constrained budget most of our marriage.  We just haven’t had tons of discretionary income.  There was a period Ally took gymnastics, but even that was with the help of both grandmothers helping pay for the monthly tuition (which was huge b/c she was competing).  Our children haven’t really gotten to do a lot of extra activities.  As I have progressed with dance at Collin College I find myself wishing that the girls could have done dance, because I see the difference that some dance training and a lifetime of dance training makes when I watch my fellow class mates.

Anyway, I was thinking maybe I can pay for my grandchildren to do those activities I have always wished my children could have been in.  I felt the disappointment in my heart that they have not had those things…. and there He was in my heart dissecting and speaking so clearly.

“My children have had the exact life that God, my gracious and loving Father, their gracious and loving Father, has intended for them to have.  They have walked the pathway the He intends for them to walk.  and… here… is… the… most… important… part…

The disappointment I feel over the life that they lived…the life God wrote for them to live…has doubt about the goodness of God woven into it.  

 The truth is that my being disappointed says that what He gave them is not good enough. It is me thinking I could have given them something better if I had been God.  It is buying into the oldest lie ever told.  It is the lie that the serpent told Eve in the garden.  It is the same lie that he repeats over and over to mankind and we all buy it; that is until God dissects the lie, shows us the truth and removes the lie.

The serpent still comes to us today and says, “Has God really said… is God really good…He is withholding good from you.  He just doesn’t want you to have (insert whatever it is at the moment).  You have to get it for yourself.  You know better than God…He just doesn’t want you to be happy…He doesn’t want you to have what you want….you will be happier if you become your own God and get what you want rather than trust God to tell you and give you what you need.

God is for our good.  He is out to give us fullness of joy.  He is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. (says John Piper).  Disappointment shows our doubt in His goodness.  It is doubt that He is out to give us that which will most satisfy which will give us fullness of joy.  If He withholds something we think we want or causes our path to go a direction that is different than we would choose, it is because His pathway will give us fullness of joy and our pathway will not.

Thank you, my precious, loving, good, gracious Father, for seeing the cancerous lie, for waking me up to run on my rest day so you could press on that place in my heart, and for pouring the truth into me so that that lie would be forced out of my heart. 

My children have lived a good, grace filled, life- the life You intended for them.  You are a much better Father than I am mother and I am so grateful for that.  I am thankful that I don’t have to get it all right because You get it ALL right and you have nothing but grace for me and my family.

 

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Progress

It’s funny how taking a trip like this can change your perspective so profoundly.  To see how other people live gives your eyes a deeper way of seeing.  It broadens your world and humbles you a bit as you see that your way of life is not the only way that works.  It has kind of ruined me.  I have had thought for quite a while about how ridiculous many things in our “American culture” are.  After having been to another country, these thoughts are even stronger, louder and greatly increased.  It seems we do things sometimes just because that is how we do them, never stopping to ask why, or if the practice even makes sense.  Now, I know that that is common in any culture, but I am speaking about my cultural perspective.  There are so many things that just strike me as so frivolous now.  Traveling to the third world gives you new eyes that see things in a new way, and I really feel like it has ruined me to continue blindly accepting that amassing more stuff, getting a better body, living in a bubble world that revolves around me and what I want is a fulfilling life.

It really struck me as I worked out this morning how silly it would seem to so many of the people here who live labor intensive lives that I spend so much time working out so I won’t gain weight.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we should not work out.  In fact, I think in our sedentary society it is our responsibility to get some kind of activity so we can be good stewards our out body.  I think that if I am strong, healthy, and fit, I will be more equipped, and able to be effective for the Kingdom of God.  What I think is very ironic is that progress is seen as making things easier and less labor intensive.  It is this “progress” that makes it necessary for us to workout so we can be strong and healthy.

Have we made our lives too easy?  Some of us hardly move at all, if we don’t make intentional effort to be physically active.  Hauling water, washing laundry by hand, gathering wood to build a fire, walking to get to where we are going, building a home to live in are all examples of physical work that, if we had to do them, would keep us strong and make seeking out physical activity unnecessary.  I am not saying that we all need to go back to living that way.  I am just saying how ironic that our “progress” is leading us to be lazier, more unhealthy and making us have to “find ways to be active”.

Could it also be that some of our depression, lack of motivation and general lack of happiness could be tied to a lack of physical labor in our lives?  How much of insomnia would be solved if we worked hard enough during the day to make us exhausted at night?  Would we have more of a sense of accomplishment with our work and feel less bored with our lives if our work actually had measurable progress we could see, like a house we built or fields we tilled and cared for?

I have a theory that has been rattling around in me since taking Anatomy and Physiology that was further confirmed in some of my psychology studies.  Our brains operate on a lot of chemical signals.  We release neurotransmitters, endorphins and all types of chemicals, which actually give us the feelings, sensations, and experiences we encounter each day.  Working out can become addictive due to the release of these chemicals.  My fitness routine is the best antidepressant I have ever taken.  It makes a huge difference in my life.  When injury or circumstances cause me to not be able to workout, I can feel a difference in my mood, perspective and motivation.  Since man was created to do work from the beginning, what if that chemical system is like God’s reward to us for our hard work?  What if part of the “redemption” of having to “till the land by the sweat of his brow” is that our brains release chemicals that give us a sense of wellbeing and satisfaction?  And what if part of the reason that so many are miserable with their lives and work is because sitting at a desk all day does not release the chemicals God gave us to make us feel good about the work we do?  What if in making things easier for ourselves in the name of “progress” we are robbing ourselves of the reward and chemical joy God designed man to experience as he does that work that was put before him?

Just processing some thoughts out loud on my blog for people to read and think about if they so choose.

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The First 48 hours

 

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          Everything went swimmingly.  We got to the airport on time with very little to do.  Well, there was the moment when the suitcase handle hit me in the face while we road up the escalator and it felt like someone full on punched me in the face.  You see I had loaded one of the cases front heavy and b/c it is such a pain to take everything out and repack it, especially when you are packing to go overseas and carrying stuff over for other people, I left it front heavy.  Then I mistakenly gave that case to Chloe to wrestle into the airport.  She let loose of it and it swung backward hitting me in the face.  Ouch!!! It really hurt, but I did not yell at Chloe.  God gave me the grace to just move quickly past it which is really good b/c me yelling at Chloe for accidentally hitting me could have really wounded her and gotten things off to a rough start or ruined the trip all together.  We got the bags checked and only had to move a couple things out of one bag and into another.  Chloe and I were not seated together, but I was directly behind her.  Since it was such a short flight to Washington DC, we let it go, but I promised her that I would make a fuss if they did not sit us together flying from Washington DC to Addis Ababa. 

            Washington was a blast.  We got there and went straight to the car place.  I declined paying for a car with a GPS because I am cheap, but the guy ended up giving us a car with a GPS for no extra charge; that must have been God’s favor because we used that silly GPS to get everywhere.  We got tons of laughs out of it, too.  The GPS ladies voice was pretty interesting and at times she sounded a bit drunk when she pronounced a few of the street names.  Chloe got pretty pro at programming the GPS to take us where we wanted to go.  She was such a trooper too.  We walked so far in Washington.  We ate pizza for lunch right by the hotel and decided Rubino’s pizza was the best Pizza we had ever eaten.  Then we went to the Zoo.  We started off at the giant Pandas because Chloe really wanted to see them.  She was pleasantly surprised that they had a red panda (like Mr. Shifu from Kung Fu Panda).  We walked all over the zoo and had a great time seeing all the animals in spite of the fact that we were freezing to death.  The zoo is also at a major incline, so a lot of our track was up hill and I mean major up hill not a little.  After that we were so tired and almost talked ourselves out of going to the national mall.  Then we figured we would really regret not having taken that opportunity while we were in Washington.  Besides the more tired we got the more likely we would be to sleep on the 13 hour plane ride from Washington DC to Ethiopia.  We went for Starbucks hoping it would be a big enough energy boost to get us through the National Mall.  That turned out to be more major walking as both of the Starbucks the GPS pointed us to in the DC area had absolutely no parking in front of them.  We parked 6 blocks away and walked up to the Starbucks, had Salted Caramel Mochas and then began the trek back to the car.  As we began walking we realized that we were, once again on a very steep upward climb.  We maneuvered our way to the national mall still a little reluctantly.  When we got into the mall area, we were suddenly pretty geeked out about seeing the monuments.  We really regretted not having gone to the Mall before it got dark.  We were pretty taken aback by the Lincoln Memorial.  It was really almost a religious experience to see it.  For one thing, it is enormous.  That giant Lincoln towering over us was a sight to see.  There is also a reverent feeling of quiet respect inside the memorial.  We then took off walking to see the other memorials.  Chloe specifically wanted to see the Vietnam War memorial.  We were pretty exhausted and it had begun to rain on us, but we were in pretty good spirits and wanted to find that memorial.  We saw several memorials including the World War II monument and the Korean War monument, but it seemed the Vietnam monument was hiding from us.  We got to the Washington monument only to find out it was closed for repair.  Thoroughly exhausted and somewhat frustrated, we started back toward the Lincoln memorial, which also happened to be near where we parked.  We finally found another sign directing us in the direction of the Vietnam memorial and so we trudged on.  At his point we had been walking all day and were soaking wet, but determined to find this “seemingly invisible” monument.  We almost missed it when we got to where it was because it was dark and they do not have it very lit at all.  We walked the wall and took a picture of Chloe in front of it.  You can’t really tell she is in front of the monument, but we know where she was when we took the picture. 

            After that full day we were tired.  We had wanted Sushi for dinner, but decided that as cold as we were we wanted something hot.  Then we couldn’t really find anything on the GPS yellow pages, so since we knew where the pizza place was we went back to that.  We took it to go, ate at the hotel and called to talk to daddy (Larry). 

            We slept very soundly and woke up early.  We made a mad dash to gas up the car(it only took $4 worth of gas to refill the tank), pick up some Starbucks, return the rental car and do the airport thing again.  We got there later than we really would have liked, but got in line to get our boarding passes.  When we got to the attendant we found out that our bags hadn’t been ticketed all the way to Addis.  We were supposed to pick them up in Washington.  Oops!!! The lady told us we had to go to United and claim them, then recheck them with Ethiopian.  Then another lady said, “No, they do not have time.  They have to go to the gate now.   Print the tags and I will go get them from United, retag them and have them loaded.”  What a relief.  I thanked her profusely.  We got our boarding passes and took off to security.  I explained to Chloe that there was a pretty good chance that our bags would not be in Addis when we got there b/c of this mix up.  I told her it was just stuff and that we needed to just be okay with what happened, but we prayed and asked for the Lord to get at least the shoes there because otherwise it was going to be a mess to find someone else to transport them and to get them to that person.  We were in the longest line imaginable to get through security and I started to worry that we were going to miss our flight.  We passed security and took off in a full sprint to make the plane and arrived just as the announced that it was our boarding groups turn to board.  On the plane, the nice lady came and assured me that she had gotten our bags on the plane and had me sign for them.  I am so thankful that the Lord took care of everything so things were smooth.

            I forgot to mention that the orbits lady told me the wrong arrival date, so I woke up to a message from Jessie worried because Levi went to pick us up and we weren’t there.  I felt so bad. 

            On the plane we were not seated next to one another.  I told Chloe just wait and I will find someone to trade.  The man beside me refused to trade seats with me Chloe even though it was exactly the same seat only 2 rows forward.  Chloe waited and the plane continued to fill up.  Finally, she started to cry because it didn’t look like we were going to be able to sit together.  A couple of the passengers got the Flight attendant and asked her to help solve this situation.  She kindly asked the man to trade seats, but he still refused even when she told him that it was a little girl who was crying.  Finally she moved me and just said she would move the person who was supposed to sit there when they got on the plane.  We were all very relieved. The flight was very long and very packed.  We were so glad when we landed. 

 

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A Little Something I wrote for my Psych class

I decided to throw this discussion I wrote for Psychology up here.  It seemed too good to not repost.

 

“Human beings, contended the personality theorist Alfred Adler, have an ‘urge to community’ (Ferguson, 1989, 2001, 2010) (Myers, p. 434).”  The human experience is one of community and interaction.  Many cases of maladjustment can be tied to lack of healthy human interaction.  “Asked…’What is it that makes your life meaningful?’ most people mention—before anything else—close, satisfying relationships with family, friends, or romantic partners (Berscheid, 1985) (Myers, p. 435).”  Even those with more introverted temperaments will suffer maladjustment when placed in completely asocial environments.  “Prolonged social exclusion actually results in lowered cognitive functioning and can lead to a dizzying array of physical symptoms (1)”

The need for “community” can most clearly be seen in the pain felt in situations that involve some type of social ostracism.  According to the text, “To experience ostracism is to experience real pain, as Williams and his colleagues were surprised to discover in their studies of social ostracism (Gonsalkorale and Williams, 2006) (Myers, p. 437).”  “Psychologically, we seem to experience social pain with the same emotional unpleasantness that marks physical pain (MacDonald and Leary, 2005) (Myers, p. 437).”  According to John Cacioppo, author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection, “Loneliness isn’t necessarily a result of being alone… They can be around a lot of people but feel completely isolated. In humans, perceived isolation is so much more important than physical isolation(2).”  Feeling loneliness in the midst of a crowd due to social ostracism can be one of the most painful experiences, and leave some of the most enduring mental and emotional scars on those who are subject to it.

My childhood was a very complex time of scathing ostracism.  The simplified background to this ostracism is that I grew up in a generationally abusive household. My mother, survivor of unspeakable abuse as a child at the hands of her family, unknowing allowed her children to suffer abuse at the hands of her abusers as well.  Her attempts to keep those secrets suppressed in the deepest parts of her, caused her to be blind to the evidences of our abuse.  Our house and my grandparent’s house held secrets in every room and corner.  The importance of this history to my story of ostracism is that, though I couldn’t put my finger on why, I knew we were not like everyone else.  I remember my childhood as very lonely and very dark.  I suffered from severe depression, suicidal ideations and tendencies toward self-harm that would increase as I reached teen years.

Because my mother was so mentally ill and neglectful, I often went to school dirty, poorly dressed and pretty unkempt.  I had a first grade teacher who showed her displeasure of my appearance very obviously as well as made fun of me at times.  I didn’t really have any friends in elementary school; what I did have was a large group of girls who relentlessly picked on, made fun of and instigated others to mistreat me.  Neither my home nor school felt like safe places for me. I felt so alone in this world and often wondered why I had even been placed on this earth.  I remember fantasizing as a child about being in car accidents or disasters and rescuing everyone involved.    I think that I thought somehow that would make me worthy of someone’s love.

We did finally flee from our family of origin in search of some type or normalcy.  It was extremely lonely for many years.  Although, our family had been abusive, there was such a gaping hole left in our lives where they had been.  We had no one, but the three us, my mother, my self and my brother.  As the text says, “Even when bad relationships break, people suffer.  After separations, feelings of loneliness and anger—sometimes even a strange desire to be near the former partner—linger (Myers, p. 436).”

That feeling of loneliness would linger for years in our family.  We would be invited to friend’s houses for holidays, but somehow it was never like we had family.  We always, though we loved and appreciated the invitations, felt like extra appendages.  That is until I married my most amazing husband. (I know you did not ask for this part in the assignment, but I cannot tell the beginning of my story without including the end.  It is depressing and not fair to the reader.)  My husband’s family adopted us with the most amazing love, compassion and grace.  From the moment I became a Hall, my mother and brother became Hall’s as well.  We became a part of their family; we were not appendages; we were family.  We spend holidays together as a family.  We have never had to worry about splitting holidays because my mother and brother come to my in-laws and we celebrate as a family.  The memories and pain of being alone for so many years have faded like an old watercolor picture.  They have been replaced with years of beautiful memories celebrating with a family who adopted another small, broken, misfit family.  It has taken 20 years of working through the past layer by layer to find closure and resolution, but it has been a good 20 years for which I am grateful both of the healing and wholeness which has come as well as for the painful past that has made me the woman I am today.

  1. http://www.helium.com/items/2218097-why-people-need-social-interaction
  2. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/family-health/brain-and-behavior/articles/2008/11/12/why-loneliness-is-bad-for-your-health
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Reposting: Life Book Give away

I have been taking a really great class over the last year.  I have learned so much and created some really great pages.  I am behind on the class, but will catch up. The class is called Life Book 2012.  Registration for Life Book 2013 is open.  I highly recommend this class.  Look into it.  The teachers are amazing.  Tam LaPorte from Willowing is so kind, passionate and encouraging.

Here is the link to a chance to win a spot in Life Book 2013 from Dion Dior.

http://www.diondior.com/2012/10/divine-color-life-book-2013-giveaway.html

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Holiness: A runner’s Metaphor

First of, I know, I know; slap my hand.  It’s been ages since I wrote.  Honestly, school has been a lot and I have been trying to ease the pressure off of myself a bit.  The “rule” in my head that I had to write a couple times a week started to weigh on me when added into the assignments for school, so I released myself from that pressure.

Now onto my point.

I went for a run today and it was awful…really awful!!!

I have preface that statement with this one.  I LOVE running.  I enjoy it immensely.  My run time is my second favorite time of the day.

My first favorite time of the day would be after I have worked out and showered when I sit in the bath, get really still and quiet, and just enjoy the Presence of the Lord.  It has just been the rhythm I have developed in my life that my quiet time happens in the bath.  I get really still or ask the Spirit to help me get my heart really still and just enjoy the love of my heavenly Father.  Then I might talk about what is making my heart unsettled, or what I am excited about or maybe even listen to what He wants to expose in me.  Like I said, my favorite time of the day.  It sets the tone for my day and centers me in Him before the chaos that is my life begins.

My very close second favorite time of the day is my run.  That is probably because I know He runs with me too.  Not literally, but He is with me.  I really love taking off early when it is dark and quiet and somewhat cool.  Most of the time it is so dark that I cannot even see the sidewalk I am running on.  It occurred to me this morning that even that is a metaphor.  I cannot really see the sidewalk, but I have run these routes for many years and I pretty much know what to expect.  I trust the sidewalk is there; I trust my feet to carry me and hit the sidewalk.  I have only tripped twice in several years I have been running in our neighborhood.  Both times I was messing with the music on my phone.  It’s kind of a picture of our walk sometimes though.  We move forward, trusting that God is leading us in the right direction even though we can’t really see the path or exactly where it leads.  We just walk by faith.

I have loved running for a long time, but my runs took on a totally new dimension once I started taking all my advanced Sciences for nursing.  I am amazed every morning as I just meditate on all that it takes for my body to be able to run.  I am such a super nerd now.  Mitochondria make ATP, electrons bouncing in and out of the electron transport chain, sodium rushing into channels to pass on an action potential in my nerves to carry the signal telling my muscles to move and back to my brain to adjust the movement to keep me upright, air into my lungs so oxygen diffuses out of my alveoli into my blood stream, calcium in and out of my cardiac muscle so that my heart beats to pump the blood, dorsal and ventral respiratory groups in my brain controlling my breathing so that I can get enough oxygen in and CO2 out.  Man, that stirs my affections for the Lord.  I am amazed that He created all of this, designed it to work and keeps it working properly the majority of the time.

Sorry for showing you my nerd cape, but wow, that stuff lights me up.  I am so grateful that He lets me learn it all and has made me so passionate about knowing and understanding it that I can remember so much of it.  Matt Chandler says find those things that stir your affections, mmmmmm, science, science, science.  It makes me worship; takes my breath away; fills me with awe!!!

Back to my original point.  I am pretty sure, if my husband was reading this, he would say, “Dude, you just totally Sheldoned us (Big Bang theory, if you are not a fan).”

I have a lot of food sensitivities.  In case you haven’t read any of my history, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue syndrome about ten years ago.  We were able to put all that into remission and change our health and lives, by modifying our diet in a very extreme way (that is too long a story for here).  As long as I eat well and stay away from problem foods, I am good.  It has taken about ten years of tweaking and eliminating to find the diet that works for me.  I am still finding problem foods and tweaking, but I have a pretty established base of safe foods and a list of foods I definitely should avoid.  When I eat the bad foods, my joints hurt, I don’t feel well, sometimes my stomach and/or my head hurts.  I know when I am being bad because my body tells me about it.

Well, it was not a good week.  Most of the week I ate bits of bad.  Then the weekend came and I ate more than bits of bad.  When I took off this morning to run I could feel it.  My legs felt like lead, my  foot bones, ankles bones, knees and hips felt like there was grains of sand between them.  It was miserable.  My pace was slow and my body screamed at me with every step.  My chest hurt from the pounding of my heart.  The poisonous sludge floating around in me, weighed me down and pressed heavily upon my movements.  I decided to keep running for two reasons.  The first reason was I could feel this post rattling around inside of me.  I could feel God pushing on me that He has something to say through me using this, so I ran through the misery so I could let is swell and grow in me like a seed pushing up through the soil.  I wanted to really feel the heaviness and pain, so I could get this message in its fullness.

The other reason I kept running was to emblazon onto my mind and heart the cost of that food.  I don’t want to forget the momentary pleasure on my tongue and in my brain is not worth the price I will have to pay later.  That cheap, counterfeit pleasure robbed me of  a true source of joy- my running.

As I ran, God began to speak to me about sin and holiness.  I am not talking about outward morality.  I am talking about true holiness.  I am talking about single minded devotion to the Lord, being set apart and free of the contaminants of the world.  I am speaking of the kind of wholeness and freedom that can only be found in the Lord, that only He can do in our hearts.  This is not something that we can ever attain for ourselves or even that we need help from the Lord to attain.  We don’t need help; we need Him to do it.  We have nothing to offer in the process except surrender (and even surrender is a gift that He gives us).

When we have sin in our lives it robs us of vitality, joy, and communion with our Father and our family, the church of God.  It is especially troublesome if we are carrying secret sin in our lives.  Just like the affects of my food choices caused my body to feel heavy and to ache, sin in our lives and hearts weighs us down and robs us of vitality.  Some of us are running this race weighed down like lead and gripped with pain in our souls because we have traded a cheap momentary pleasure for true joy and holiness in Christ.  We have no joy in our walk, we trudge through the day wondering what is the point; is this what we were saved out of the darkness for?  There has to be more.

There is more.  Stop carrying the sin around.  Stop letting it poison you and steal from you.  You have inflammation in your soul and it makes running feel like sand it in between your joints.  There is sickness in you and the Lord wants to take it away.  How do you do that?  You say, “I have tried to get it under control.  I have decided over and over to let it go, only to crawl back into the pigsty.”  I know.  I know. I have been there covered in mud, frantically scrubbing, trying to get the grime off.  As soon as it seems like all the mud is gone, you find yourself wallowing in the filth again.

Confess and repent.  Confess to someone else.  You can confess to the Lord all you want, but it has been my experience that He won’t set you free that way.  It is not how He designed things.  You must confess to someone/someones else.  You have to walk in community.  It is too big to carry on your own.  It is too big for me to carry on my own.  I need help.  I need prayer.  I need people who love me in spite of my sin.  I need people I can be transparent with, who will hold me accountable, and who love me enough to confront me when I need it. I need to know that I can be loved just as I am, all of my ugliness, holding nothing back.

It’s funny this week while I was breaking my food guidelines and eating things I knew I shouldn’t, I let my scale lull me into complacency.  I would weigh and think, “well it’s not bad; I am within 2 pounds of my normal weight.  Minimal fluctuation.”  The truth is, no matter what the scales says, eating foods that cause inflammation and sluggishness in my body has a price.  The price is pain and feeling less than vital.  Allowing the scale not moving to make me feel like my poor choices aren’t so bad is kind like thinking that that sin is okay as long as you go to church and check off the “religious boxes”.  The Lord wants so much more fore us.  He wants us to be light on our feet, full of joy and energy; He wants nothing short of holiness.  Don’t let the “scale” of your activities lull you into complacency.  The consequences of choosing sin are still there even if the “scale” looks right.

I don’t know who, besides me, needed to read this, but here it is.

Lord, take it where it needs to go. And thank you for graciously using me in spite of what a giant mess I am.

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