Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fine, Pt. 2

Just an updated answer to the question of, "How you doing?"

OK, do you want the typical, socially appropriate answer of "fine"; the overly spiritual answer involving a bad metaphor and ending in "but it's all good" as in, "God is my canteen in a desert of sorrow, but it's all good"; or the truth? It's my blog, so here's the truth:

When I was in AZ dealing with everything happening, it seemed like God had given me a Supernatural strength and hedge of protection. It's funny how it takes about 3 weeks for that to fade, for reality to really set in, and for the rest of the world to have moved on. I've also been under the weather which with the current swine flu scare has forced me to cancel my appointments with my therapist. So, I'm sad & weepy to the point of having a psychological relapse. (Oh, yeah, for those of you just entering the story, I had a nervous breakdown a few years ago.) I'm really worried about my mom, and she's one of the main reasons I can't afford a relapse (not including the havoc it would cause in my own life). Sara's been tumbling about in the middle of all of this with me, so even though she tries her best, she's really hurting as well. I'm also hurt by the very noticeable absence of certain local friends. Fortunately, our church has been a tremendous support, but being sick has forced me to stay away from large gatherings of people in general. I've found myself turning online for support & am thankful for some wonderful support there, but I'm really noticing the problems I was dealing with when I canceled my FB account before all this happened have been returning full-force. My plan is to quietly fade away this time & leave the account open & active but just limit my time online drastically. Writing has proved to be cathartic for me & I plan on pursuing that further. Also, God has still been present & all that's been holding me together; I just haven't had those emotional highs to go with it. God is the duct-tape for my beat-up car of life, but it's all good. :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

How I Am Beating Depression and Anxiety

About 4 or 5 months ago, I had a pretty significant breakthrough in my therapy. It was a moment where the idea that I am the Christ Creation inside of me who CONTENDS with the Flesh (instead of the other way around) finally went from my head to my heart. I had progressively been getting better and better by significant strides. As one friend said at one point, "I've seen you more in the past 2 weeks than in the past 2 years." It came just in time, too, because if not for this breakthrough and the tools my therapist had given to me to deal with life, I would not have made it through the 3 weeks I spent in Arizona when my dad passed, and I especially would have suffered a relapse within the past 3 weeks as the reality of the situation hit me while the rest of the world was moving on.

Here's the secret: The Bible

Yep, the secret is the Book that has been the bestselling Book for all time. Funny how things can hide so well right under your nose. However, it's important to know how to USE the Bible. It's not some magic totem that can be placed on your coffee table to ward off evil spirits. It needs to be read, studied, journaled, meditated upon, prayed through, and read again and often! This is the only way that the Bible will become engraved upon your heart, and that is the important part of how I use the Bible to deal with my depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, histrionics, pain, sorrow, stumbling blocks, temptations, Spiritual attacks, the World, and the Flesh. The Gospels specifically state that when Jesus was lead into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, He confronted each temptation by speaking Scripture out loud at the temptation.

Did you get that? He spoke the Scripture. He didn't just think about the Scripture, but He actually quoted it out loud. I'm now doing the same thing, and it's making all the difference in the world in my life. Also, my therapist has shown me the importance of speaking the Scripture in a very personal way and with authority.

So, let's say that I'm feeling as though my life is spinning out of control, and what I really need is the Peace of the Lord, I'll use a verse such as Psalms 29:11 - "The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace." The way that I will use it is to say out loud, "Get behind me, spirit of turmoil, for it is written that the LORD gives strength to me; the LORD blesses me with peace." And when I speak, I do so loudly and with confidence and authority.

I share this because this is what has worked for me. It has made a significant difference in my quality of life. I'm able to go the homes of friends for dinner. I'm able to leave for a weekend getaway and try new things like sailing which I absolutely fell in love with! Thank you, Jenn Macainag! It has helped me experience Joy! And then when forced to face one of the toughest periods in my life when I was with my family in my dad's final days on earth, it held me together. I cannot express how important this was. It wasn't just a sake of being available for my mom and came down to knowing I wouldn't have a relapse and become an additional burden.

My therapist has given me a couple of books to help give me an arsenal to use: GOD'S PROMISES for every day and The Bondage Breaker by Neil Anderson. One section in The Bondage Breaker is a list of "I Am"s which has been a particular help. A lot of people have asked for copies, so I'll reprint the list and hope that Neil and his publisher understand.

If you have any questions, comments, or prayer requests, please don't hesitate to send me a message!

Through Christ I AM

I am God’s child - John 1:12
I am Christ’s friend - John 15:15
I have been justified - Romans 5:1
I am united with the Lord and am one with Him in spirit - 1 Corinthians 6:17
I have been bought with a price—I belong to God - 1 Corinthians 6:20
I am a member of Christ’s body - 1 Corinthians 12:27
I am a saint - Ephesians 1:1
I have been adopted as God’s child - Ephesians 1:5
I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit - Ephesians 2:18
I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins - Colossians 1:14
I am complete in Christ - Colossians 2:10

I am free from condemnation - Romans 8:1,2
I am assured that all things work together for good - Romans 8:28
I am free from any condemning charges against me - Romans 8:31-34
I cannot be separated from the love of God - Romans 8:35-39
I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God - 2 Corinthians 1:21,22
I am hidden with Christ in God - Colossians 3:3
I am confident God will perfect the good work that He has begun in me - Philippians 1:6
I am a citizen of heaven - Philippians 3:20
I haven't been given a spirit of fear but of power, love & a sound mind - 2 Timothy 1:7
I can find grace and mercy in time of need - Hebrews 4:16
I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me - 1 John 5:8

I am the salt and light of the earth - Matthew 5:13
I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life - John 15:1,5
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit - John 15:16
I am a personal witness of Christ’s - Acts 1:8
I am God’s temple - 1 Corinthians 3:16
I am a minister of reconciliation - 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
I am God’s coworker - 2 Corinthians 6:1
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm - Ephesians 2:6
I am God’s workmanship - Ephesians 2:10
I may approach God with freedom and confidence - Ephesians 3:12
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me - Philippians 4:13
I am the salt and light of the earth - Matthew 5:13
I am a branch of the true vine, a channel of His life - John 15:1,5
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit - John 15:16
I am a personal witness of Christ’s - Acts 1:8
I am God’s temple - 1 Corinthians 3:16
I am a minister of reconciliation - 2 Corinthians 5:17-20
I am God’s coworker - 2 Corinthians 6:1
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm - Ephesians 2:6
I am God’s workmanship - Ephesians 2:10
I may approach God with freedom and confidence - Ephesians 3:12
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me - Philippians 4:13

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Laborious Labor Day Weekend

Sorry for the extended absence. September has been a rough month with so much in it that it overflowed into August and now October. This post is pretty much to relay everything that has happened, and I'm hoping a future post will be able to go into more details on reflections and impressions from that time.

On Sunday, August 23rd, I got my first panic attack in a long time. My dad had been in the hospital, and I just had this feeling.... I called him, and he seemed fine, so I went to sleep on edge, but I slept through the night nonetheless. On Monday, I felt an overwhelming urge from the Spirit to write an email to the church my parents had attended when my dad was first diagnosed with cancer. On Tuesday, I got a call from my mom and was told to get down to Arizona as fast as possible.

On Wednesday morning, my dad was to be taken into surgery for a lung biopsy. Because his lungs were in such a bad state, we were told that he would wake on a ventilator at least 3 days following the surgery...if he was to wake at all. So, that morning, we gathered around his bed and had the family talk. It was one of the most difficult moments in my life. He went into surgery, and through a miracle of God, we found ourselves talking with him 3 hours later! All seemed fine, and Nick left on a plane on Saturday, August 29th with the plan being that Sara and I would head home on Tuesday, September 8th.

That being said, we got a call from the doctors on the day after Nick flew home saying to get to the hospital because my dad was quite possibly going to be intubated, and this would be our last chance to say goodbye if he didn't recover. Well, recover, he did, and he was able to stay on a face-mask for oxygen and eventually be put back on just the nasal oxygen.

I started to spend nights with him so my mom would go home and get rest. In fact, on Monday night, we sat in his room and watched football together. Tuesday morning, I got back to the homestead and found a reply email from the church! It said that since my parents had been members, the church had gone through a massive leadership upheaval, and it took them a while to verify that my parents were members at that time because none of the current Elders or Staff knew them. I wept when I saw this email and sent a reply thanking them for making themselves available. As soon as I hit the send button, I got a call from my mom saying that the doctors were intubating my dad and that she wanted to be able to speak with a minister. I immediately sent another email to the church explaining the situation, and then I called our good friend and former pastor, Charlie Cummings, and asked him if he would call my mom. He did, and she said it really helped.

Meanwhile, we were stranded out at the homestead, so I called my Aunt Phyliss and asked if she could pick us up and take us to the hospital. She switched around her schedule, drove 1/2 hour to pick us up, and then drove 45 minutes to the hospital. Sara, my aunt & I arrived on my dad's floor at exactly the same time that 2 Elders from the church had arrived! By then, my dad had already been intubated, so the Elders anointed him with oil and prayed over him. The doctors kicked us out of the room so they could perform another procedure on my dad, so the 6 of us (the 2 Elders, my mom, my aunt, Sara & me) went into a waiting room and took communion together and prayed. The Elders began to minister to us, but especially my mom, and they began by begging her forgiveness for not having been there for them before this moment. We went back into my dad's room and prayed for him again, and then the Elders left. Yes, another miracle!

Unfortunately, within a couple days, my dad had maxed the ventilator he was on, so they needed to switch him to an oscillating ventilator which is quite new in the field of medicine. Because my dad's lungs had become so brittle, this machine would blow between 200 to 250 tiny puffs of oxygen per minute into him. The body naturally wants to resist this, so they had to paralyze him and deeply sedate him. We were told that this was a last-ditch effort to keep him alive and that now would be the time to call family to have them start coming into town.

Within several hours, my dad had maxed the oscillating ventilator as well, and it was apparent that the fight was over. I called the Elders and left a message. They had an Elder meeting scheduled for that time, so they canceled the meeting, and we found 4 Elders in my dad's room with my mom, Sara & me. We sent my dad off with hymns and prayers, and then my mom asked to be alone with my dad as they put him back on the regular ventilator and removed life support. So, on the morning of Friday, September 4th, my dad left the body that had dealt with so much frailty and pain for the past 3 years and entered into Heaven. Sara and I returned to the room with 2 of the Elders, and after the nurses had removed the tubes and wires and cleaned him, we entered. The nurses were crying, we were sobbing, and the Elders were holding us through it all.

On Wednesday, September 9th, surrounded by family and friends, Charlie Cummings lead the memorial service for my dad. I provided the introduction, giving a brief overview of who my dad was and what he meant to me, and then I made it clear that even though we were dealing with our own sadness and feelings of loss that this was a time of celebration to honor my dad and give glory to Christ. Chip Aker, the Elder on Staff for the church lead with the opening prayer. A wonderful woman from the church named Olivia sang my dad's favorite song, "You'll Never Walk Alone." Sara and my sister-in-law, Michelle, read Scripture. Charlie gave an amazing message that so eloquently presented the Gospel and the Hope of the Resurrection which was why the memorial service was a celebration. My Uncle Jon then reflected on my dad (I was told that since I was giving the greeting that I couldn't tell any jokes, but my Uncle Jon was given free reign...not fair...) in a humorous, respectful, and emotional way. In doing so, he addressed each of my dad's brothers and said what he had learned from them and finished with what he had learned from my dad. Charlie led the room in a unified reading of Psalm 23. Nick read a paper he had written about my dad back when he was in college...very touching and emotional. A wonderful man from the church named Reigh sang "I Can Only Imagine." Finally, Charlie closed with prayer and a Benediction.

From there was a weeklong whirlwind of the reception, the family get together at my Uncle Tom's house, family and neighbors at my mom's home, flowers, gifts, food, and fact there was an abundance of love throughout the entire process. Sara, who is amazing with details, took care of so many things and helped hold me together. When Michelle came, she helped Sara with those details, and somehow the numerous things that needed to be done were done.

On Saturday, September 12th, Sara and I flew home having been reassured time and again by neighbors and church members that my mom was in good hands. The next day, Sunday, September 13th, would have been my dad's 64th birthday, so we celebrated by going to church and being loved on and hugged by so many people.

The last few weeks have been rough as reality has set in. Fortunately, God is good, and love and miracles abound...too many miracles to list, but I'll give a sampling in a future post. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. - John 21:25.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Painful Truth

Today I realized that when someone uses one of the phrases, "no pun intended"; "needless to say"; or "not to be rude..." that they are actually lying 100% of the time. Liar. Liar. Pants. On. FIRE!!!

A fun example of this is an email I received in response to several emails I sent to my entire email list requesting prayer for my dad. After several updates, I received a message that only read:

"not to be rude, but who is this and why am i getting these?"

The email was signed from someone who is a Patient Liaison for Behavioral Health where I see my psychiatrist. Apparently another tragic example of the wrong person in the wrong vocation, I guess. I prayed for her anyways, but I didn't want to.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Prayer Request

Hey, all. My dad is a leukemia and bone marrow transplant survivor. Time after time, he has beaten unbelievable odds. Well, he beat the odds again, only in not such a good way this time. He's been sick for the past few months, and repeated visits to his local clinic turned up no results. Finally, he got fed up with having no results and returned to see his doctors in the City of Hope in Phoenix, AZ, who got him through his cancer, bone marrow transplant, and subsequent complications. In 2 days, they were able to find out that his Graft vs. Host disease had come back with a vengeance. They put him on various meds and took him off of others and did tests and biopsies and all that fun stuff. They found out that he is still cancer free, but he has developed a case of Epstein Barr Syndrome in his lungs, making him one of 9 people in America with this condition.

Fortunately, his insurance has approved for him to be put on a cutting edge medication for this that will occur in 8 treatments at the cost of $40,000 per treatment! Praise the Lord that this treatment will be able to take care of the situation and will be fully covered by insurance! The treatments will make him VERY sick (he's already really sick) and will take about 6 months to complete. He is now on oxygen. The hope is that he will be able to be off the oxygen in 6 months, but it may be for the rest of his life. This is really tough for him because he has been so physically active his whole life. It's also been really tough on my mom, as well, but her employer has been really good and understanding about letting her take care of him.

So I ask you for your prayers for my dad, Jim, and my mom, Charlie. Also, please place them on any prayer lists you may have access to. Thank you for your friendship and love.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Book Review of Duma Key by Stephen King (read 2/08)

Book review time! (Yay!) Why a book review? Because reading Duma Key by Stephen King back in Feb, '08, played a significant role in my personal story. Because this book is good even though written by a best-selling secular author. Because I wanted to add a new post but had nothing profound to say, myself.

Who cares why? Read the review or's your decision. So, without further ado, my 5 star review of Duma Key by Stephen King:

Every single page is like a lover touching my cheek...sometimes it's a caress, and sometimes it's a slap...but every page, every word, has a profound impact upon me. I'm in the middle of the book, and I'm terrified to finish it, but I can't stop turning the pages...

...Just finished it. I heard one reviewer state that it was the best book King had ever written. While reviewers have short memories and liberal use of hyperbole, I must admit that this was one of his best he's written. While not epic like 
The StandIt, or The Dark Tower, it is powerful, insightful, and terrifying. Also, the fact that the book is not epic is one of its greatest strengths. One of King's self-indulgences in the past couple of decades has been his ability to use 1000 pages to write a 500 page story. Remember that Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and The Body were both just novellas. In Duma Key, King uses each of the 607 pages with power and efficiency.

Another of King's self-indulgences has been his treatment of Bryan Smith, the man who hit him during his walk and nearly killed him. That same man died a year later from a prescription drug overdose. I remember being especially uncomfortable of King's incorporation and depiction of the accident as a key element in one of his stories. (I HATE spoilers, so either you know what I'm talking about or you don't.) It got to the point where I really started to dislike the man, Stephen King. I mean, c'mon, let the dead rest.

But in this book, King delves into the aftermath of being broken and how being broken made him act and say things that simply were not of his character. Noticeably in this story, King only refers to the crane that causes the accident that crushes Edgar Freemantle and sets everything in motion, and he never once speaks of the driver. Later in the story as Edgar tests his newfound talents, the test results in the death of a child molester. Now, while the bastard certainly had it coming to him, Edgar is overwhelmed with a sense of power, horror, fear, and guilt. In this narrative, I believe that King is trying to work through the aftermath of his own brokenness and how it changed him, most noticeably in his treatment of Bryan Smith. And an interesting thing happened...I found that I had forgiven King's spite and nastiness during this period of pain and healing.

Finally, King puts to words so well what it is like to be broken...what it's like to not be yourself and be the monster and victim at the same time...and what it's like to look back on the wake of relationships that will never be the same again. Having gone through this myself (and I'm not out of the woods yet) I found myself weeping in sections where King's script perfectly put to words the hopelessness, frustration, and loneliness of a broken person. In this book, I found a bit of my own healing realizing that I'm not the only one to have dealt with this and coming to terms with the fact that it's not my fault.

Was this Stephen King's best book? I honestly don't have an answer. All I know is that it has had a bigger impact on me than any other work of fiction I've ever experienced.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


I was listening to a talk a few weeks back about happiness on (a site you need to check out!) The talk included different terms for happiness and their nuances. Specifically mentioned was the fact that we have 6 different terms meaning the happiness derived from someone else's misfortune, but we have no word to imply the happiness derived from another person's happiness. I resolved to correct this grievous omission. For the term, I combined "Happiness" with "Agape." Agape (Ah GAH Pay) is a Greek term for love that implies a perfect, Godlike love. Agape + Happiness = Agappiness. This is seriously an idea that deserves to be spread around the world. Hmm...kinda like the Gospel....


Definitely a word that needs to be used and used often!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Am Not My Flesh

This was a comment I left on Sami's blog, but I stole it back for my blog because I feel like it is such a good follow-up to my previous post:

I'm really struggling with seeing my Flesh as my identity and not something that is not a part of me. My identity is the one Christ has crafted inside of me. I've been talking with my therapist a LOT about this, and it's only when I can get my mind around the fact that I am the Christ creation inside of me, and I CONTEND with the Flesh, the World, and the Principalities that I am able to experience ANY of the Fruit of the Spirit.

I've been feeling sorry for myself a lot lately. Been struggling with temptations of lust, suicide, wrath, envy, gluttony, idolatry...the list goes on and on.

When I'm not reading a section for a particular study, and I'm just turning to the Word to fill me, my Scripture reading for the last while has been almost exclusively Psalms...especially 31 - 46 and 110 - 118. A couple verses that stand out:

I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbors--even my friends are afraid to come near me.
When they see me on the street, they turn the other way. - Ps 31:11

But that same Psalm ends with this verse:

So be strong and take courage, all you who put your hope in the LORD! - Ps 31:24

Some other verses:

The LORD hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.
The LORD is close to the Brokenhearted, He rescues those who are crushed in spirit. - Ps 34:17, 18

My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks--it was the sound of a great celebration!
Why am I discouraged? Why so sad?
I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again--my Savior and my God!
Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember Your kindness - Ps 42:4, 5a

Who can be compare with the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high?
Far below Him are the heavens and the earth. He stoops to look,
and He lifts the poor from the dirt and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes even the princes of His own people!
He gives the barren woman a home, so that she becomes a happy mother.
Praise the LORD - Ps 113:5-9

As I read the Psalms, I can so readily see that none of what I'm experiencing is new to God. The Psalmist speaks so eloquently what is going on in my heart whether it be doubt, joy, pain, or hope.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Half-Life of Pity

"If you have ever given yourself to someone and had your heart broken, you know how God feels. If you have ever given yourself to someone and found yourself waiting for their response, exposed and vulnerable, left hanging in the balance, you know how God feels." - Rob Bell

I've been a lot more careful lately about who I give my heart to (do not cast your pearls before swine) but it's those times when I give my heart to someone who's really cool...and nothing in return that hurt so badly. It has happened a lot with the kids who were in my youth ministry. I love all of them dearly, but in the course of growing up and moving on, they have left me behind. It is only a natural process and in so many cases extremely healthy. It is also so painful to be forgotten by someone who is unforgettable.

This is all part of the stuff I'm dealing with now, and my therapist has really been helping me to only rely on God to return that love at all times. I'll be honest, life's been hard these past several years. One of the things I've discovered is that people tend to act compassionate, but really it's only pity...and pity has a half-life of about 3 to 4 weeks. Then the novelty has worn off, and it's out of sight, out of mind. I've had so many painful experiences of rejection in all of this that I've come to the point where I'm really careful about who I give my heart to. Again, I'm learning to rely solely on God because He is the only one in the end who NEVER fails me and ALWAYS loves.

This is not to say that the people who give pity are bad fact, nothing could be further from the truth. It's just that for most of these people, life happens. They move, they graduate, they get married, they have kids, they have an emergency in their lives, they experience a life-changing situation; this is all part of life and how God created us. Imagine never being able to mentally move on when something tragic happens. Imagine carrying the weight of the pain of ALL of the victims of 9/11, wars, tsunamis, heart attacks, name it. It would literally drive you insane. So the fact that Pity has a half-life of about 3 to 4 weeks is a blessing from the Lord.

Another example is a person who has the best of intentions by saying, "I am your friend. Call me ANY TIME! Hold nothing back from me! Tell me how you are really doing! I want to walk side-by-side with you through the best and the worst." You are hurting, vulnerable, and so desperately seeking to not be alone in your struggle that you believe this person without having tested the friendship in a major way. The person did not realize just how low the low points are, and about 3 to 4 weeks later says something to the effect of, "I can't take it. It's too much. I'm sorry, but this relationship has to end." Either that or they suddenly disappear from your life. Those are the most painful rejections I have experienced, and I have become really gunshy about taking someone up on the offer of "call me any time" because when the inevitable fallout occurs, I drop to my lowest point. Dangerously low.

As I said before, I'm learning to rely solely on God to be available all of the time and walk side-by-side with me through the euphoria and the drudge because only God can fill the God-sized hole in me. In relying solely on God, I'm learning to actually love myself for the first time and to see myself the way He sees me. The sin and mire and yuck are not me...they are my Flesh. I'm learning that my identity is the Christ Image of me and that the Flesh is outside of me and thus, something that can be confronted. I'm learning to use Scripture to battle the voices of the Flesh, the World, and the Principalities, and for the first time, I'm truly seeing progress in this area of my life.

God is my refuge, my strength, my stronghold, my shield, my high tower, and to put anyone else in that place is idolatry and can only result in pain and loss.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rainy Days and Mondays...

...always bring me down. When is it ever appropriate to say I'm depressed? Bottling it up for years is one of the major reasons I'm in the "bad place" now. Publishing my emotions and feelings on Facebook or even this blog for that matter are just attempts to get attention and sympathy. Or, even worse, I bring someone else down. I know I'm supposed to cast all my cares on the Lord, but there are times when whatever I pray, I still feel like tripe. "Don't be lead by emotions." Great. I agree. But when the emotion becomes so strong that all I can do is dwell on it or curl up in a ball in prayer, what do I do? How does the Fellowship of Believers fit in? I don't want to be a people pleaser anymore, but I don't want to suck the life and energy from those around me either. I'm hurting badly, and in all honesty, I don't know what to do about it.

God, please help me, the worst of sinners. I can't go on like this much longer....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Flat Light

OK. Lots of stuff in the past 10 days including: healing, euphoria, depression, attack, victory under attack...just wears me out thinking about it. But the last couple days have been different. They haven't been great, but they haven't been horrible, either. And the funny thing is that I find that my prayer life and time in the Word is suffering more than ever. What the heck is up?!

So as I'm processing this, I start thinking about skiing. Maybe it's because some really good friends just got back from a ski/snowboard trip. I get to thinking about all my different adventures on hills, bluffs & mountains, and an interesting analogy came to me: light. We all love beautiful, bright sunny days. The colors just pop, and the mountain is so clearly defined. There's also dark. I've been night skiing, and under the lights of the slope, the details become so easy to see. Or it's a blizzard in which case either: A) POWDER DAY! Who needs details?! Just blaze away; or B) Head for the lodge! Everything seems so clearly defined, and whether it's bad or good, God is so easy to see. But there's one more light condition which just sucks: flat light. You can't see any detail to the hill you are skiing, and you're likely to hit a bump or dip that about knocks your teeth out of your head. There is no definition. There is no detail...just flatness. That's been my life the last couple days.

Revelation 3:15 & 16 reveals that God's not a big fan of this as well. His warning to the Church that is neither hot nor cold is that He will spit them from His mouth. Some translations go so far as to say that He will vomit them out of His mouth. One implies disgust, and the other implies revulsion. As St. Joe will attest from the healing session last week, it's pretty much a combination of the two, and it just is really bad. (Sorry Joe.) How, then, do I live my life when life feels just so...blah.

Well, continuing the skiing analogy, I can't control the light, and there are times on the mountain when everything is just flat. I can whine about it. I can stand in the cold in indecision and get hypothermia. I can fly at breakneck speed (there's a reason it's called "breakneck") down the hill to get out of it and more than likely launch from an unseen ridge or hit a tree. Or I can just carefully make my way down the mountain taking it just one turn at a time.

The last couple days have been nothing but flat light. I don't feel depressed. I don't feel joyful. I don't feel sorrow. I don't feel fear. I don't feel peace. I just plain don't feel, and it's harder than any other time to feel connected to God. But just because life is blah doesn't mean that life stops. Far from it. All I can do is simply and carefully make my way turn by turn, verse by verse, and prayer by prayer. What does God see in this? Obedience. And once again, even though the emotion isn't there, the victory is, and that's enough.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

That was quick....

OK, I've had healing sessions before, and I know that there is a bit of a honeymoon period after...seems like 7-10 days or so usually. So imagine my surprise being driven to my knees by an attack this morning. I should have known the timing would be like this. It had been so long since I had been to a Sunday morning Church service, and that's the last place satan would want me to be.

First, I'm forced awake by my cat at about 4:20 or so who really didn't want to have anything to do with me once I actually got up. I paced nervously around the apartment wondering why I was so anxious. I went back to bed and got up in time for Church. Most times if I can get a little sleep after a panic attack, I'm fine. Not this time. My chest hurt. I had trouble swallowing. My breath was heavy. Thoughts of all kinds RACED through my mind to the point where I could barely think straight. All I knew were 2 things: I did NOT want to go to Church, and I HAD to go to Church.

Praise God that I went. Did I feel like suddenly everything was all better? No. In fact, it feels as though we are at the beginning of a testing period that's potentially going to be brutal. But I can't worry about that. All I know is that however small it may seem to the world, God shared a victory with me today. It may not be fun or glorious or pretty, but I know that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I walked in the bathroom early in the morning. Like most mornings, Sara asked from the shower, "How are you?" My answer? "Really good." She peeked from behind the shower curtain, mouth agape.

Why would this simply two-word sentence of, "Really good," cause such a reaction? Maybe because my typical answer would be:

"In pain."
"I don't want to talk about it."
"Don't ask questions when you don't truly want to know the answer."

I can't remember a previous time when I had given a positive answer...not even mornings following a decent night. Fact is that I hated life. To me, life was not a gift but a curse. It's a hell of a thing to wake up every morning upset with the fact that you woke up once again.

So, what was the difference this time? Well, the night before, we had an amazing time of prayer where an elder anointed me with oil. Stay with me here, because things got pretty intense. The elder had placed his hand on my forehead and was SCREAMING prayer of healing and deliverance from the torture of the evil one. It was unbelievable. It was a feeling of a huge weight being lifted from my chest. At one point, I opened my eyes and made eye contact with the host of the event. Now here's the really crazy part: when we locked eyes, he was suddenly filled with anxiety and revulsion and the room began to spin. He then ran off to start retching violently. (I felt bad because we had just had a great dinner.) But as he released what was inside of him, he began to instantly feel better. He had not been dealing with any sickness. In fact, St. Joe seems to have the constitution of an ox. His wife and kids were looking at him (and me...awkward...) in amazement because he NEVER vomited. His wife couldn't remember the last time he had been so sick to his stomach that he couldn't hold it. His kids didn't remember a time EVER where he had reacted that way.

Now, understand, I'm not a huge fan of Charismatic Churches or the Name It and Claim It Doctrine. I feel very much like it is abused and that these signs and wonders become about edifying the self instead of God. Even worse, I feel like most relegate God to the position of the Genie in the Lamp. Just rub the lamp and out pops God to grant your wish, and then when you are done, God jumps back in the lamp where He belongs so He's not getting in the way of what the person is trying to accomplish. That being said, the Bible is very clear that when our heart is right, and when we abide (dwell, live, receive nourishment) in the Lord that he will answer our prayers including Healing, Prophetic Words, Speaking in Tongues, and all that jazz. It's real. It's uncomfortable, but God doesn't care if we are comfortable: He wants us to be comforted. Huge difference. Do I know all there is to know about God. NO WAY! No one could because God is Infinite. All I know is that sitting there on that couch, I was healed. Since then, I've been able to be much more productive and leave my apartment and live life without these shackles to which I had grown so accustomed. Coincidentally (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) my doctor had just the day before changed two of my meds to about half of what I was taking before. Instead, he had given me something far more potent to take in between the new doses as needed. I've only taken 1 of those pills since I was healed.

OK, let's hit the rewind button on this blog for about a year. If you look there, you'll see a post called "Healed." This all sounds pretty familiar if you read that post. So why is this time different? Well the answer is that it is up to me if it will be different. I need to exercise regularly. I have to read my Bible daily. I have to live a life of prayer without ceasing. These are my choices. God has wiped the slate clean for me (again) and now I have a responsibility to make sure that what goes on that slate from now on is pure and Godly. I need to be abiding in the Lord. If I don't make these decisions and stick with them, well let's just say I'm pretty nervous as to what my blog will say a year from now.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

More Than A Feeling

"It will be interesting to see how God shows up."

The last couple weeks have been rough. Events have included:
  • Being sent to the ER for chest pains. (Just another panic attack)
  • Finding out that going back to work reset the clock for FMLA and Temp Disability meaning I couldn't reapply even though I wasn't ready to return to the workforce.
  • Quitting my job to avoid being fired.
  • Telling my brother that Sara and I won't be able to afford to go to his wedding.
  • Being told that I may get temporary disability through the state, but that it's VERY tough and requires a lawyer.
  • Being told that I may want to start looking into careers that allow me to work at home because of my agoraphobia.
  • Calling a crisis hotline in the middle of the night to help me calm down.
  • Freaking Sara out by talking in my sleep and saying that I want to kill myself.
Plus some other things I'd prefer to not mention.

Hopelessness is a word that comes to mind. The emotions that I experienced through this time hit me like a whirlwind and made it so that I couldn't think straight. Where was God in all of this?

The answer is that He was there with me the entire time. One of my tasks was to send out notification to people who had received cell phone service at an unbelievable rate that they were losing this benefit. My panic told me that they were going to be so disappointed and mad at me. The reality is that ALL of them were more concerned about what Sara and I were going through and asked if they could pray for us. Friends out of the blue would pop up on Facebook to say they were thinking of us and praying for us. A dear friend prayed Psalm 40 over me through instant messaging. More dear friends came and held hands with us and prayed for healing and restoration. God was nearly shouting to get my attention that He still loves me and that nothing can ever change that. He was saying that He hadn't forgotten me; far from it. He was saying that my hope was in Him. The comfort that came through the Presence of God was overwhelming.

Again, I was reminded to not get my identity from status or fluffy feelings. I was again reminded that while the emotions of despair I was feeling were valid, they were just emotions. My actions needed to come from making good decisions based upon the way things were and not the way things felt. I need to be guided with the firm knowledge that God is unchanging, all-powerful, and all-loving. I need to be constantly filling myself with His Word and His Fellowship of Believers. Without it, I was just some hopeless unemployed freak. But with God and because of God, I am a beautiful work that He is still refining, and I have Hope everlasting. Sure, the details of life were not so fun, but God is so much bigger than those details, and He has the power to restore, redeem, and reestablish me upon a firm foundation.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I Give Up The Following:

Today is the first day of Lent.  I agonized over what my sacrifice would be when it suddenly hit me.  And I knew it was from God because I didn't want to do it.  But this year for Lent, I give up my rights:

  • The Right to Be Appreciated
  • The Right to Be Believed
  • The Right to Be Comfortable
  • The Right to Be Convenienced
  • The Right to Be Depressed
  • The Right to Be Followed
  • The Right to Be Funny
  • The Right to Be Happy
  • The Right to Be Important
  • The Right to Be in Authority
  • The Right to Be in the Spotlight
  • The Right to Be Lazy
  • The Right to Be Liked
  • The Right to Be Loved
  • The Right to Be Praised
  • The Right to Be Remembered
  • The Right to Be Safe
  • The Right to Be Treated Fairly
  • The Right to Be Understood
  • The Right to Be Uninvolved
  • The Right to Be Used
  • The Right to Be Wealthy
  • The Right to Companionship
  • The Right to Control My Destiny
  • The Right to Entertain Evil
  • The Right to Feel Important
  • The Right to Feel Needed
  • The Right to Get Drunk
  • The Right to Hate
  • The Right to Hold a Grudge
  • The Right to Take Credit

I Have an Audience of One