Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Thanks - Health and Medication

Yay, another theme day. I think this will be cool, though. There's so much hopelessness all around us sometimes and we need to remember what we have to be thankful for.

"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you also are called in one body, and be thankful." Colossians 3:15

God reminds us to let God's peace rule in our hearts and to be thankful in the same sentence. I think that's because they go hand in hand. The more we remember to give thanks for everything in our lives, the more God's peace will overcome feelings of hopelessness, resentfulness, and even unforgiveness.

So this week I was thinking about the medication I have to take. When I started getting sick five years ago one of the hardest things to do was to get used to taking medication every day. Before that I tried to stay away from prescription drugs as much as possible. I hadn't even taken an antibiotic before that since I don't know when. But I've gotten used to taking my medications I do it now as just a regular part of my day.

And the other day I was thinking about how grateful I am to have this medication and to have competent doctors who can prescribe it for me. Without it I surely would have had a stroke by now and I probably wouldn't have gotten much sleep at all in these last several years.

So, thank you, Lord, for giving people the wisdom needed to create medication to control blood pressure and heart palpitations, for doctors who can prescribe it for me, and for keeping me safe through the last five years.

What are you thankful for?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Long and Winding Road - Part 3

I think I started serving the Lord the same month I was saved and I’d been serving in one capacity or another ever since. But in about June of 2008, the Lord apparently knew it was time for some pruning.

The year before had been especially difficult. I had taken on even more ministry responsibilities, I was working part time, my son had started homeschooling (with a internet program that had the difficulty of an advanced college course and the confusion, at times, that left me and even the teachers scratching our heads as we tried to figure out the program), a number of interpersonal relationships had become strained, and by that time I had been suffering with daily headaches for just over two years. By the summer of 2008, I was stressed beyond belief and exhausted, physically and mentally, and spiritually I was hanging on by a thread.

So after earnestly praying for God’s will, He told me to take a break. Not only did I desperately need the rest, but the Lord told me that it would be a year of healing. So I reluctantly stepped down from all my ministry duties, we found a much better homeschool program for our son, and I set about seeking the Lord.

And after a while, I began to hear the voice of the Lord again. He spoke to me at first through song, specifically and unexpectantly, through Third Day’s cd, Revelation. We had picked up a copy after we’d gone to a concert and as I listened to it, the words began to melt into my heart like a balm from heaven.

Some of the songs are sung from the perspective of the Lord toward his children and some from a child to a loving Father. And as I listened, the lyrics seemed to echo the aching of my heart.

Let Me Love You
Ever since the world around you shattered
You’ve been looking everywhere for something more
Sometimes you feel like your life doesn’t matter
But it does
I tell you it does

Call My Name
It’s been so long since
You felt like you were loved
So what went wrong
But do you know
There’s a place where you belong
Here in My arms

My life has led me down the road that’s so uncertain
And now, I am left alone and I am broken
Trying to find my way
Trying to find the faith that’s gone
This time,
I know that you are holding all the answers
I’m tired of losing hope and taking chances,
On roads that never seem,
To be the ones that bring me home
Give me a revelation,
Show me what to do
Cause I’ve been trying to find my way,
I haven’t got a clue

Run To You
If I run to you
Will you hold me in your arms

And I started to realize that God was not only wanting to heal my heart from the pain of the last few years, but of the grief that an entire weary life had left me with. I listened to the words over and over and through them the Lord began to draw me to Himself and to soften my hardened heart.

What I hadn’t realized was that I was still angry about my past – my whole wretched, distorted, disjointed, ugly, lonely past. And I was resentful that God had allowed it, all of it. I was angry at God.

But God knew that and He didn’t turn me away, He didn’t disown me, He didn’t stop loving me, He didn’t even get angry with me. His love and compassion and grace and mercy were poured out onto me as He sought to restore me and our relationship and make me into the daughter He created me to be.

I had wrestled with God for far too long. Oh, there had been times before when I had prayed that God would deliver me from living in my past, from asking a million times “why,” and He had. But like a recurring nightmare, the past always kept creeping back into my present.

And so I began to take my eyes off my physical health and put them back onto my spiritual health, and I began to earnestly pray again.

“The opportunity arose when Moses killed an Egyptian for beating a slave (Ex. 2:11-12). Realizing the crime had been witnessed, he fled to the desert to escape Pharaoh's wrath. It was there that he came to the end of himself.”

The Lord used this excerpt from a Charles Stanley email devotion to remind me that, just like He did for Moses, God had used all the pain in my life to bring me to the end of myself. I had been in a desert of sorts and it was time to give up. It was time to not just let go of the past, but to die to myself altogether.

It was time to die to my feelings of having a right to a certain kind of life, even if others around me were experiencing that kind of life. It was time to die to my expectations, to my dreams, to everything I had wanted to live and to be, not because those things were bad, but because God wanted something better.

Moses’ life as the son of the Pharaoh of Egypt may have seemed like a good deal. And maybe he spent a large portion of the next 40 years after being run out of Egypt resenting God for removing him from that position and putting him in the desert instead. But God had a plan for Moses’ life, and living as Pharaoh’s son was paltry compared to what God had in mind.

And I now had a sense of direction, and I prayed for the better way – God’s way. I asked my Father to help me die to myself and to live for righteousness. And as I did, the Lord put these verses on my heart:

“Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:20-21 NIV)

I had served the Lord, but now I would truly know the Lord. Like Peter had admitted at the breakfast after the resurrection, I had loved the Lord in the sense of friendship, (and lately, not even that) but God was calling me to love Him with an agape love – a sacrificial love that was more intimate than I had ever known or imagined.

To be continued...


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Daughter's Sacrifice

Please take from me my life

When I don't have the strength

To give it away to you, Jesus.....

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Greatest Friday

*My son made this in art class in very early grade school. Why the pain and suffering of Jesus that we remember this day was on his heart, I don't quite know. But somehow he understood the agony that our Savior went through for us and was able to capture it in a piece of clay. I pray we all can grasp the depth of sacrifice that was made for our sins, and the Lord Who gave it,
and cherish them in our hearts forever.*

Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying,

"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"

that is,

"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said,

"This Man is calling for Elijah!"

Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. The rest said,

"Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him."

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying,

"Truly this was the Son of God!"

Matthew 27:45-54

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Long and Winding Road - Part 2

(Find part 1 here.)

To go forward, I feel we must go back. Back to five years ago when God dramatically interrupted my life. And with the same words He had used to encourage Joshua as he led the Israelites into the Promised Land, God had warned me over and over to be strong and courageous. He had warned me just like He had warned Peter three times in the garden to pray. Peter may have fallen asleep, but I took off running.

Like a dutiful, worried patient, I went to this doctor and ran the tests they suggested. Then I went to that doctor and had this scanned. The symptoms kept coming and I kept running. With each pounding heartbeat I felt like a ticking time bomb. I couldn’t sleep because my heart was beating so fast and my blood pressure was suddenly as high as the boiling point over the temperature of a summer’s day in Arizona.

I saw cardiologists and nephrologists and endocrinologists and rheumatologists. I searched webmd,,, emedicinehealth, medscape and I learned about hyperthyroidism and pheochromocytomas and hyperaldosteronism. I even learned that too much black licorice can cause high blood pressure. And the tests. Oh, the tests. I had tests I never knew existed and I wish I still didn’t.

And in all this time, I prayed. Sometimes. But my prayers weren’t being answered. God was silent. There are times when no sound is as booming as the silence of God. And I went from feeling puzzled to anxious to downright angry. Before every doctor visit I prayed hard that God would lead me and give the doctor wisdom. And then the doctor would suggest a scan or a blood test or some other test that could be used by the government as a way to get information from its enemies. And every time I was hopeful. And every time I’d get a call saying everything was “normal.” Now you’d think that hearing that everything is normal would be good news. But the thing was, I didn’t feel normal. And I knew I wasn’t normal. Something was very wrong, but no one was listening. Least of all, I thought, God.

Somewhere along the way I began to think God must be angry with me to allow me to fall into this Alice in Wonderland existence. And suddenly I found myself wondering who God was. I had come to the intersection in the road of the believer’s walk called Disillusionment. I had been a Christian for 15 years, but the God I thought I knew wasn’t reacting the way I thought He should. I no longer really understood who God was, how to talk to Him, much less how to hear from Him. Every road I turned down seemed to taunt me with a Dead End sign.

But I had forgotten to do something. Something God whispered in my ear over and over before the trial began. I had forgotten to be strong and courageous. Now, lest you take those words and translate them to mean what humans seem to automatically think they mean - be strong, don’t be a wimp! Don’t be cowardly or weak, be brave, fearless - let me tell you, they mean something much more. When God uses the words strong and courageous, He's not talking about strength or courage from a human perspective.

To be strong means to fasten upon, to seize, to bind, to cleave. It means to cling to the only One Who has strength, and that is the Lord. We have no strength in ourselves. We are but weak humans with sinful urges and weaknesses toward temptations. God knows that we can only walk this walk and face these trials in His supernatural strength. That is where our victory and joy lie.

And to be courageous means to be alert, attentive and careful. God had wanted me to be careful to listen to Him so that I would know His will and follow it. But I wasn’t listening. Oh, I thought I was. But it seems as though I was listening to everyone but God. And as all parents know and try to explain to our children, there is a difference between listening and listening.

I may have been listening with my ears, but not with my heart. My heart was too worried and anxious to sit and really listen to what the Lord wanted to say to me. And none of it had anything to do with my physical health.

This seems to be turning into a multi-part-er. Stay tuned again!


Friday, April 3, 2009

Food Friday - Fiesta Chicken Noodle Soup

I love soup. Sadly, soup season is drawing to a close. We're blessed to be having one of our last soup days today in Arizona, though, with its overcast skies and high winds blowing the trees around and clanging the stove's exhaust vent. (For some reason I love that sound.) That's about as close as we get to a blustery spring day this time of year here in my neck of the woods.

So, here's a yummy soup recipe, a la southwestern style.


Fiesta Chicken Noodle Soup

1 whole chicken, about 3 ½ lbs.
1 yellow onion
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 small can diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic
1 white onion, peeled and chopped
8 oz. package fine egg noodles
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
12 oz. can corn, drained and rinsed
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
12 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the chicken in stock pot and cover with water. Chop yellow onion into quarters and add. Add the 1 tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer, cover and cook until done, about an hour.

2. Cool chicken and skim the scum off of broth.

3. Puree the tomatoes, garlic and white onion in a food processor. Add the tomato mixture to the broth and stir to combine.

4. Add the noodles, red pepper, corn and cumin; simmer 6 to 8 minutes until noodles are done.

5. Meanwhile, chop chicken into bite-size pieces.

6. Add chicken, ½ cup cilantro, beans and cayenne pepper. Salt and pepper to taste.

7. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve with tortilla chips, if desired.