Something Backward and Something New


The past year–maybe two–I have been in an interesting spiritual season. I’ve been struggling through the same chronic health problems that I’ve had for several years, but which have recently moved me from emotional tedium and annoyance into restlessness and desperation. Something has to change, I realized. If not my circumstances then me; and this, we all know, is the more difficult part. The natural movement of transformation comes from the inside out–God changes the heart, and fresh actions flow out of the new creation.

This is an excellent pattern, but I found myself asking, “Okay God, my heart has changed [I am trusting God with my illness joyously], but I am so tired–now what?” And in my desperation for something new, He began leading me in something completely backward from my expectations: to focus on my outside, so that my inside can catch up to what my heart is already doing. Essentially: to live sincerely in the vision of who I am (an act of faith–of manifesting the spiritual reality through my outer reflection).

There is a longer part of the story that I will skip over briefly: I dreamed prophetically, then realized, that when life became physically uncomfortable, I stopped being the fullness of myself. I’ve still been connected with God–maybe more than ever; I’m still involved in all sorts of things; but the way I have approached my life has been…confused. Namely, I began unknowingly hindering myself with my inner dialog, focusing on my limitations (which are there) instead of on the numerous freedoms I have in other areas. The Lord has begun to teach and remind me who He has created me to be–among the surprises, I remembered that I am an extrovert!

This is still a new and ongoing process for me. The essence is that I am focusing on making my physical appearance look as if I am healthy: taking time to do my hair, and make-up, to wear accessories, and to dress myself in colors, patterns, textures, and shapes that naturally express an outgoing and fiery movement in alignment with my natural disposition. For instance, I am tough, so I should wear fabric that is tough to remind myself and reflect that attitude. I strive on completing projects and reaching solutions swiftly, so I should dress in quick, swift, patterns that reveal this movement and essence. I am sharp, fiery, and resilient, so I should dress myself in a way that reflects my inner disposition.

I have only been doing this for about a week, yet so far I already feel like a whole different person. My blood sugar levels and other problems have remained, but they have not squashed me into a lethargic, mopey, emotional mess. Rather, I have been accomplishing more, and having more joy doing it–simply by observing and asking God to reveal the inside of me, and then dressing myself on the outside in a physical expression of those truths and traits.


Before the Storm Comes


Storm DamageThis past weekend we had our first real storm of the season, and we weren’t prepared for it.  Our rain gutter, as the picture shows, did not quite make it through the first of the wind and rain.  It looked like it was also going to pop right on through that bedroom window, and so we were out in the rain trying to remedy it.

The lesson is that some things need to be dealt with before the storms come, or it becomes too late.

Noah was able to rescue his family from the wrath of God because he began building the ark right away.  Rahab put the red cloth outside her window immediately, even though she would have seen the attack from her window as the Israelites approached for battle. Esther called an urgent fast that the upcoming destruction of her people would be turned around by the Lord–and of course it was.

Likewise, there are things we were created to do.  And there are storms that are prophesied to come.  As a follower of Christ I know that I am not called to live in the world, but to live in the kingdom of God within the world.  And there are certain good works which Christ prepared beforehand for me to do–and for you too, whether you know about it yet or not (Eph 2:10).  We can’t function in our purpose for God until we submit to God, love God, and hear God.  Our greatest asset is time, and yet there is not enough time to waste.  Storms are coming, so we should prioritize so that they don’t catch us by surprise.


The Positive Side of Illness, Fatigue, and Physical Pain


I wrote this over a month ago in the midst of a physically trying moment and didn’t have the energy to edit it into a post.  I’m now 21 weeks pregnant, and have been feeling much better: nausea only in the evenings, less fatigue, and the comfort of feeling our little one move and remembering why I’m doing this.

This is what I wrote ten weeks ago:

I’ve pretty much been sick all eleven weeks of my pregnancy, minus a few great days here and there.  I’ve had the flu; I’ve had a long-lasting cough that threatened premature contractions; and the normal pregnancy symptoms (nausea, headaches, fatigue) have been enough to deal with on their own.

But while my tolerances have been stretched, this has also been an excellent opportunity for me to see my spiritual weaknesses and to fully depend on the Lord.

There is nothing like having the areas we most depend on ripped out from under us.  I’ve always been physically pretty healthy, and didn’t realize how much I’d pulled comfort and strength from my place of good health.  Having almost constant pain lately has been quite humbling.  I’ve also become aware of other areas in my spirit that need spiritual transformation, which likely would have gone unnoticed without this ‘forced fasting’.

For the first time, I think I’m understanding the spiritual directive to have joy within suffering–to count it my blessing when I experience trials (James 1:2-4, 2 Cor 12:7-10, Phil 4:11).  I’m not sure there’s a way to articulate this concept, but it is certainly a blessing to experience such a joy.  I have especially have fond memories of spending hours vomiting with intermittent praises to the Lord, and though I also don’t want that pain again anytime soon, it’s really quite amazing that I’d even think in such a way.

To my friends who are also facing physical trials: I want to encourage you not to pray immediately for healing or a ‘fixed’ circumstance, but to first press into the raw love of the Lord.  I have frequently been blessed with sudden immediate healing from the Lord upon praying–there is definitely a place for this and it can increase our faith in a miracle working God.  But let the Spirit lead you to pray before you assume you know what’s best.  I have occasionally been lead to pray for other things: for endurance and strength to face the trial, for the physical manifestation of the Lord’s love and peace, for wisdom and revelation of who He is, for heart, soul and spirit to be transformed into His nature, for the ability to rest in Him despite the circumstance, and so forth.  Sometimes the answers to heart issues are much more rewarding than the healing of the physical issues.

I pray we would not miss out on any of the Lord’s gifts, even when they come in painful packages.  There is a time and a season for everything under heaven (Eccl 3).


I’m Pregnant!


I’ve been very sick for a few weeks now, and it was so bad when it started that I couldn’t imagine what could be ‘wrong’ with me.  By the second week of pain and nauseousness, I decided to spend a day fasting and praying to draw closer to God, because I thought I experiencing the physical manifestations of a spiritual attack (this does happen to me sometimes).  But that night, I had continuous dreams about being pregnant and knew it to be true.  One pregnancy test and a doctor’s visit later it’s confirmed: we’re going to be parents!  My husband and I are excited! 🙂

That said, it’s been a difficult first trimester.  I’ve spent nearly all my time lately either on our couch or bed–or floor, in a few rougher moments.  And I’m practically never sick, so not ‘functioning’ like this has been difficult and shocking to me.  I’ve done almost no reading, no researching, no meeting of people, no writing (even to journal), hardly any eating (though this is improving slowly)… It’s been a new and exciting uphill journey.

My joy level, fortunately, has been fairly high, so I don’t want it to sound as if this first trimester has been terribly awful.  In fact, with so many of my normal activities on hold, I’ve been able to spend many uninterrupted hours with the Lord in pure intercession and worship: singing a great deal in the Spirit, and marveling at the miracle going on in my body.  I’ve also felt closer to my family than ever–though we’ve always been a pretty tight-knit group.  These are definitely precious times, despite the constant nausea and physical pains.  I even think I feel the Lord more powerfully when pain allows me to cry more desperately to know and experience Him.


Personal Update


The last two weeks I spent working full-time as a parking enforcement officer.  Each day brought so many memorable conversations with co-workers, as well as intermittent moments of dealing with angry and confused people–a great chance to strengthen my faith.

I also recently discovered the bud of a new spiritual gift for interpretation as the Lord allowed me to understand a young woman speaking in Russian (not as a word-for-word translation, but as an interpretation of each of her main points).  Having understood the main ideas of the conversation she was having with another, I then asked if I could pray for her, and was able to pray (in English) regarding her concerns.  Of course, I don’t actually know Russian beyond a few simple greetings; this was definitely a gift given for the moment, and I was very excited by it!

This week, I’m adjusting back into my “regular” schedule–if that’s possible, I think the Lord’s been teaching me to live spontaneously and nomadically, which is against my natural tendencies.  My husband and I are also spontaneously rearranging our living/dining area, which has become an adventure in itself. 🙂


Spring Cleaning and Spiritual Cleaning


I’m on an extended vacation visiting family and have been helping with some ‘Spring’ cleaning now that my youngest brother is off to college and my parents will have a large home to themselves.  It has certainly been interesting to sort through old linens and old memories.

So much of what I’d personally collected and designed over the years is so out of character with who God has re-created me to be.  I was throwing things out left and right, and even chose to destroy a couple pieces of art I’d made while being influenced by the wrong spirits.

I’ve learned that physical cleaning and spiritual cleaning often go hand in hand.  It is not within God’s nature to be cluttered, dirty, and deteriorating, but rather to demonstrate His glory: we are to be good stewards of what He’s given us (whether small or large).  There’s a reason why physically cleaning can be more relaxing and make things look newer and more valuable.  Simply: cleanliness is part of God’s nature, and the other is not.

Of course, both the physical and spiritual realms are important.  If you’ve never spiritually cleaned your home, it’s just as essential.  You keep your home spiritually clean by regularly inviting the presence of the Lord (spending time worshiping God through prayer, song, reading the Bible, talking admiringly about Him, et cetera), and by keeping out that which is detestable to Him.

That second part is especially important: getting rid of the detestable stuff.  If you own anything that isn’t pleasing to Jesus, especially if it’s been involved in a religious ceremony for other ‘gods’, it can be like a beacon to attract spirits who think they can make a home in those who are using the ‘demonically sacred’ item.  This can plateau your spiritual growth (and, in my experience, even invite tormenting demons–in my case, I wasn’t aware of the affect until I was advised to get rid of some things and the torment decreased).

You do this kind of spiritual cleansing by walking through your home and praying that if there is anything you need to get rid of that Jesus would make it clear.  Then be obedient to what you think you’re hearing–even if it’s your favorite book, or a great CD, or the token you bought abroad, or the necklace that’s been in your family for generations.   Nothing in this life can compare to knowing Jesus on a personal level.

There is a promise that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8), and one of the ways we do this is to chose to honor Him over every other thing by (as the verse says) “cleansing our hands”.  We physically and spiritually clean the best we can, and thus, invite His Spirit to come in to renew and strengthen the rest of us.


Camping in Yosemite


YosemiteI spent the last four days in Yosemite National Park camping with some friends from college.  The views and weather were fabulous, and it was exciting to see all the tourists with their various languages and cultures (in fact, we made many new friends).

I had so much fun with the women, but also missed my husband by the time I returned.  When I came back and told Ben I missed him, he said, “Sometimes you have to miss me to remember you love me, otherwise you might take me for granted.”

Sometimes we have to miss the one we love in order for that love to be stirred.  I know there have been seasons in my relationship with the Lord where He’s seemed harder to reach, and yet it’s been in those moments that my heart’s cried out with deeper fervor to hear His voice and know Him more.