Thankful for a Broken Body

I know my title is odd, but had this thought yesterday: I’m actually thankful that my body is broken.

I’ve had several people encourage me to pray for healing from my autoimmune disorder. While I do feel called to ask Him for my body to get healthy, I don’t feel the nudging to pray for the Lord to take it away. Why?

Before I dive into all of that, I want to clearly state that I completely 100 percent believe that God can restore my body in an instant. He is The Healer and I know that someday in heaven I’ll have a beautifully restored, completely healed body.

So here’s the difference between healed and healthy. Healthy means my body is functioning as well as it can this side of heaven. I’m relying on His wisdom to care for this temple, my body. This includes eating to restore health, drinking lots of water, getting enough sleep, listening to the needs of my body, and when required, taking supplements and medicine. This has required me to sacrifice to care for, and be a good steward of, the body the Lord has given me.

In years past, I’ve not always taken the best care of myself. Yesterday, as I was mulling over this, I realized that if the Lord healed me of my autoimmune right now, I’d immediately go out and buy all the comfort food (macaroni, pizza, soda, chips, etc.) that I know isn’t healthy for my body. I’d be satisfying my appetite.

Over the last six months, I’ve realized that I’m called to more! I’m called to push through my earthly desires (appetite) and honor Him. I want to worship Him through my choices, and I’m thankful that He has allowed my body to break so that I choose His way. My autoimmune pushes me to rely more on Him and find Him in the midst of the brokenness.

I woke up singing a childhood song this morning by Matt Brouwer. I thought it perfectly fit what’s been rolling around my brain this weekend. May He be glorified in the choices that I make.

Father, I adore You, Lay my life before You, How I love You

Jesus, I adore You, Lay my life before You, How I love you

Spirit, I adore You, Lay my life before You, How I love you

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New Years reso…blah blah blah

It’s that time of year again. Everyone is setting goals and coming up with their word of the year. I usually resist this annual compulsion as I don’t want to set myself up for failure. It’s a weak excuse, I know.

Last year I was challenged to come up with a word and Scripture verse for the year. Per usual, I avoided the heart of the task and sought to come up with a list of things that I wanted to learn for the year. This is not bad in and of itself but it was not what I was tasked with doing. Thankfully, the Lord was in the midst of it, and I felt strongly that He was impressing the word “simple” on my heart and then He highlighted Psalm 18:19.

“He brought me out into a spacious place, he rescued me because he delights in me.”

Looking back on 2018, I see how He simplified my life and brought me into a spacious place. It might not look that way to everyone, but I see it. 🙂

In December, the phrase “intentional connection” started circling around in my heard and heart. Here in the early days of 2019, I’m sensing a stirring in my spirit to be more intentional with the people in my life.

I also realized that in some ways I have had a false sense of intentionality. Specifically in the area of social media. Funny that something that has “social” in the name is actually anti-social for me. I realize that I can sit in the comfort of my living room and see people’s lives, but I never actually engage with them. I’ve realized that I don’t want to just “heart” or “like” what someone is doing; I want to talk with them about it and hear why it’s important.

So here’s a few things I’m trying to do to be more intentional…

1. Shut down some of my social media accounts (not all, just the ones I find more hindering than helpful).

2. Improve my phone skills (I dislike talking on the phone). I’m very visual and struggle to pay attention when I’m on the phone. But as my mom says, I need to grow up! 🙂

3. “Snail mail” with friends who enjoy this form of communication.

4. Come up with a list of friends who live within an hour who I can intentionally reach out to and catch-up with face-to-face.

5. Come up with a list of friends who live farther away and seek out creative ways to connect (one of my friends has crafting pen-pals).

6. Take advantage of living near my family and spend as much time with them as I can (bring on the baseball games, dance recitals, and baking adventures!). I love living within an hour of most of my family! Within the past 5-7, years I’ve lived anywhere from 3.5-15 hours away. So one hour is great!

7. Ask the Lord to be in the midst of all of this and actively listen for the Holy Spirit’s promptings on how to be intentional.

“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12.

Memory Lane II

December 14 was the four-year anniversary of starting this blog. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been that long! Four years and48 blog posts later, I love seeing my history and God’s love and grace memorialized in these blogs.

Last year in December, I wrote a blog highlighting some of my favorite blogs over the years. This year I’ve added the ones that I loved from 2018! Enjoy the journey down memory lane and may your Christmas be filled with His presence and joy!

Brokenness January 2015

Being Known February 2015

The Beauty of Change May 2015

A Change in Prayer July 2015

Sharing is Caring October 2015

Unloveable January 2016

The Elephant in the Room February 2016

Run Wild March 2016

Feminine June 2016

Not all those Who Wander are Lost July 2016

Sometimes We Walk the Road Twice August 2016

Right Turn…New Season October 2016

Altar of Sacrifice February 2017

Greatest Joy April 2017

Heart of Stone June 2017

Time and Promises – January 2018

$1.35 – February 2018

Running Towards the Unknown – March 2018

Plan O……BU – July 2018

A Piece of Broken Pottery – August 2018

My Dad – October 2018 (I saved the best for last :))

Finding Church

Living in a new community means finding a new church home. At least for this introvert, visiting churches can be overwhelming. But this the Lord has made clear: church is important.

So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. 1 Corinthians 14:12

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10: 24-25

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 4:16

I’ve had many conversations with students about finding a home church. With all my moving, I’ve had to do that search plenty of times. Sometimes I’ve done the search well and other times I’ve slacked in that department. With my latest move, I’m thankful this season of church searching has been going well!

Here are a few things that I’ve learned through my experiences in searching for a church home.

1. If you love your church, please invite people! I’ve been personally invited to more churches in my new little community than in any other place I’ve lived. Hearing people explain why they love their church, and then knowing that I’ll see a friendly, familiar face with I visit, has been very helpful.

2. You know the part of church when the pastor invites everyone to greet each other? That is the WORST part of any service (remember, I’m an introvert)! Usually I’m standing in the midst of a group of strangers who all know each other. Sometimes it feels like a person will quickly mumble hello, as if to meet their “greet a new person” quota, and then they move on to have a lengthy conversation with a friend near me. Hopefully, I’ll never forget that feeling, but instead will use it to spur me on to introduce myself and engage with new people around me.

3. I’ve learned that there is no singular way of worshiping the Lord corporately. There are Scripture references to specific things to include, but not an overall format. I’ve enjoyed experiencing different denominations and seeing what they incorporate in their worship service. Having these experiences has allowed me to see how my heart, soul, and mind resonate in worshiping Him!

4. In general, I like exegetical teaching. I enjoy studying through one book of the Bible at a time. I like seeing how each book supports and intertwines with the other books. Not every pastor teaches this way, but I always appreciate the effort that the pastor puts into his sermon. Any sermon where the Spirit challenges me is a good sermon in my book.

5. Singleness groups at churches can often be very rough. I often find myself grouped in with the college students and early 20s (even though I’m in my early 30s). Nothing wrong with this, but I enjoy groups where I’m with married and unmarried, empty nesters and new parents. A very diverse group makes me happy. This is where I feel the most at home.

If you’re ever in my area, and want company while you’re searching for a church, please let me know. I’ll always be happy to help you along in your journey. Also, please know that it’s a standing invitation to join me on a Sunday morning at whatever church the Lord leads me to. Thankfully, I believe He’s narrowing down my search for a home church and this makes my heart happy!

My Dad

A few blogs ago I mentioned that my dad has Parkinson’s. He grew up in the northeast, met my mom in college, and works in computer IT. While these are all facts about my dad, there is so much more to him. While he is changing physically, I wanted to highlight 10 things I think of or remember anytime I see my dad. 🙂

1. He’s a great comics reading partner – Sunday afternoons would often find me curled up next to him on the couch while he read the cartoons aloud.

2. He’s a prayer warrior – Part of my normal bedtime routine was Dad coming up and saying prayers with me. Even when I was in high school (and sometimes college when I was home) he’d come check on me before he went to bed. He’d tuck me in and pray over me. Often times I was asleep, but I vividly remember waking up at times and being so comforted seeing my Dad pray over me.

3. He is a music lover – He always had music playing. He’d sing Mary Poppins songs with me. And we always enjoyed watching the holiday parades together.

4. He has a gentle strength – He’s one of the strongest men that I know. He’s overcome much in his life and yet always has a ready smile and helping hand. I know that he’s always available if I need him.

5. He loves his grandchildren – I still have clear memories of him holding each of his grandchildren. He’d always snuggle those sweet babies against his chest and rock them to sleep. Sometimes he’d rock himself to sleep as well. 🙂

6. He deeply loves my mom – They’ve been together for over 45 years (42 years married). He loves to make her smile and just spend time with her.

7. He was my protector – He always held me when I cried. He protected me from the world’s hurts when he could.

8. He deeply loves the Lord – He taught me what steady faith looks like. He always had his quiet time and desired to grow deeper in the Lord.

9. He’s a servent at heart – He has served our family for years. I can remember different seasons where he worked two jobs in order to provide for our family. He was always willing to go and help anyone who had a need. He instilled this in my brothers as well. Plus, he’s always willing to come and help me move (and I’ve moved a LOT).

10. He loves me – Enough said.

No matter how much my dad physically changes, he’ll always be my dad. And these are the ways I’ll remember him. Thanks, Dad for always being in my corner and loving me well!

Messy Kitchen = ??

The Lord has been teaching me a lot about worship this year. Actually, I think He started highlighting worship in the spring of 2017 when I was in a Bible study on Romans. Specifically, Romans 12:1 (emphasis added by me) has stuck with me for over a year.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

How do I present my body as a living sacrifice and thus spiritually worship the Lord? I don’t think there is just one answer to this question. I think the Lord reveals this to each of us. For me, it was staring at my kitchen this past weekend…see below.

Mind you this was just one corner of my kitchen. The other three corners looked just as crazy. This is half the evidence of my learning how to eat differently to help my body heal. It’s actually been quite enjoyable and the food is really good! I guess it’s only fair to show two pics of the results of the above mess, the second half of my learning to eat differently. 🙂

So coming back to Romans 12:1, I realized that my getting physically healthy, in a natural way, is my spiritual worship! I’m learning to be a good steward of the body He has given me. I love the unique way He’s allowing me to worship Him!

All that to say….Bring on the messy kitchen!

A Piece of Broken Pottery

Nine months ago I had a red bump show up on my right leg. I wasn’t sure what it was, but did some home remedy stuff (apple cider vinegar, etc.) and thought it would heal, no problem…

Fast forward to this week. After seeing four different doctors (over the last 9 months) and getting four different diagnoses, I have finally discovered what my little red bump (that’s multiplied into a bunch) is. I have Psoriasis. Yes, I had to look up how to spell it. 🙂

I’ve discovered that these itchy, very itchy, bumps are my body’s faulty way of trying to detox. My immune system is so overwhelmed that it’s pushing the toxins out through the skin on my legs.

You might ask why I’m sharing this story. It actually has little to do with my diagnosis. 🙂 The morning I was scheduled to see the dermatologist (the one who diagnosed me), I was laying in bed talking to God. I was stressing about what they would tell me was wrong with my legs and also how I would pay for any potential medical help I would need. I wanted an answer and didn’t want it at the same time. Denial and I can be good friends at times. 🙂 Oh, and I was desperately trying to not itch my legs.

The Lord quickly brought Job to mind. I wanted a refresher on the health part of his story, so I flipped open my Bible to Job 2 (emphasis added by me).

‘Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil. He still holds fast his integrity, although you incite me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord and said. “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan. “Behold he is in your hand; only spare his life.”

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a peice of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.

When his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?In all this Job did not sin with his lips.’

In that moment I felt peace. I was reminded that God knows exactly what is going on with me. I felt prompted to thank him for the health that I had and even to praise Him for the bumps. I knew regardless of what diagnosis I was given, I was going to be ok. So now when I want to grab a “piece of broken pottery with which to scrape” or more accurately itch myself, I instead work on cultivating a thankful heart and mind!

Plan O……BU

My mom always jokes that when the Lord is ready to move me, He moves at lightening speed! I think the easiest way for me to explain what has happened is to do this by dates. That way you’ll get the whole picture. 🙂

February – From prior blogs, you’ll know that I gave my notice back in February to my boss. We decided my end date would be May 31.

March – The Lord appeared to be leading me to move home and help my parents move and downsize.

April – Pack, prep for the next RD, pack, tie-up lose ends, pack, pack, and pack.

May 21 – I stumbled across a Director of Housing/Assistant Director of Residence Life position. I almost didn’t look at the position details because I didn’t think I would be qualified. Plus, I had no interest in being a director. I didn’t want to be stuck behind a desk just making decisions (my definition of a director), I wanted student interaction.

May 22 – The Lord brought to mind a childhood friend who had previously worked at this particular institution. I reached out to her to ask if I could pick her brain about the position.

May 23 – I decided I wasn’t going to apply for the position, but I would still ask my friend for her insights. We chatted on-line for a little while that night. I found out that my friend had worked in the exact office for which this position was posted. She even knew most of the people who still worked in that office! She gave me some great insights and I appreciated her honesty. I realized that I had done almost all the things listed in the job description and I met all the requirements. This was a new experience for me! Nothing my friend told me was scaring me off. I talked with my mentors and they encouraged me to apply.

May 24 – I worked on the application. Have I told you how much I hate job searching and applications? I’m pretty sure it is just slightly above my dislike of the physical part of moving. 🙂 Needless to say, I passed a few unenjoyable hours filling out the paperwork (which was actually shorter them some applications I’ve filled out), but was unable to submit in until the next day. I figured nothing would come of the applications (since nothing had come of any of my applications over the last year and a half).

May 25 – I had the day off due to my brother being in town to help me move a couple of my larger pieces of furniture to a storage unit. I finished up my application and submitted it at 0932.

May 29 (after the long holiday weekend) – Early afternoon I received a call from the Dean of Students office requesting to set up a time for a skype interview. The only day they had available was Thursday. This was slightly complicated because I had movers coming early that morning to move my piano, I had to work a few hours in the afternoon to finish up at my job, and turn in all my keys and tags. Followed by a 3.5 hour drive to my parents’ house (where I was going to start helping with all their house/moving stuff). I was under the impression that the interview would be a basic interview and last roughly 30min. We set up the time for 11am and I started praying that my movers would be on time!

May 31 – I woke up early and packed up my few remaining belongings. Thankfully, my movers arrived 30min early and did a great job. They moved my piano and two other pieces of furniture and I was able to get myself presentable for the interview. We were able to connect by face-time and I realized that I was actually interviewing with the Vice President of Student Development, the Dean of Students, and a lady from admissions. I quickly discovered that this was a more serious interview then I had initially thought. It lasted roughly 50min and I believed it went well. They told me that they were interviewing 7 people for the position. They would finish up the interviews hopefully by June 4-5 and then call two people for on-campus interviews. I thought I was safe from the next step until sometime the following week (have I told you I don’t like change and have to have some process time?!? :)). After I finished the interview, I quickly went to a goodbye lunch with friends, worked my last few hours, and hit the road.

June 1 – Late afternoon I received a call from the VP stating that they would like me to come out for an on-campus interview. It was scheduled for June 13. I would be interviewing with the president of the school, have lunch with the RD staff, get a campus tour (I had never been to this campus before), and then sit down with the Dean of Students and VP. I also found out that day that I had actually met the lady I might be replacing two years ago at an Association for Christians in Student Development (ACSD) conference and that I was the only one they were inviting for a face-to-face interview. *GULP*

June 2-12 – I tried to focus on helping my parents, processing all the possible changes, trusting the Lord with everything, enjoying my birthday, and treasuring the time with family.

June 13 – I ended up being on campus for 7 hours and 19 min. 🙂 It was long, but good. I enjoyed my time with the staff and felt the Lord showing how He had equipped me over the years for this position. By the end of the day, they offered me the position. I asked for a couple days to pray about it and said that I would let them know something by the morning of June 15. I used the time to pray and seek wise counsel.

June 15 – I officially accepted the position as Director of Housing/Assistant Director of Residence Life at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. With a start date of July 1.

June 17 – Submitted paperwork for background check.

June 20 – Passed background check and contract was drawn up.

June 22 – Drove down and looked for housing. I had a difficult time in the beginning finding a place, but through a crazy set of circumstances, the Lord connected me with the manager of a great apartment complex. She thought she would have sometime come open sometime in July or August. I knew this would be fine since I couldn’t find anything else and my parents only live 50min away from the campus, so I knew I could commute for a season if necessary.

June 25 – Signed official OBU contract

June 26 – Got a call from the apartment complex saying they had an apartment open up and I could move in on July 1.

June 27 – Went and signed the paperwork for my apartment and got all my utilities set up. Found out that I could actually get into the apartment that day. The complex staff knew I was starting a job in July and that I didn’t live in the area. They talked with the people on the list ahead of me and explained my situation and the people graciously passed on the apartment so that I could have it. What a blessing!

June 29 – Took down my first load of belongings and set the apartment up to be functional for my first week. Worked out the details to get the rest of my belongings from out-of-state.

July 2 – First day in the office = Start of the next adventure.

God has been so gracious in this whole process! In less then a month, the Lord provided a job and home where. The Lord has walked before me in so many ways (whether it be my childhood friend who had worked in that department or the people who passed on the apartment). Believe it or not, there are several other ways that God provided throughout this whole process! Thankful!

There are definitely things, and most of all people, who I’ll miss from my prior job. They gave me treasured memories and friendships! Thankfully, I have also felt welcomed by this new community already and I’m looking forward to journeying through life here. I know that God will stretch and grow me in great ways through this new season! Thanks for taking time to see how God is moving!

A Lost Art…..

I love Words with Friends! It is basically an electronic version of Scrabble. I’m an awful speller, but I love the challenge of of the game and trying to get better with each game. 🙂 It’s also a great way to keep connected with friends. Plus, I’m competitive and this game allows me to flex that muscle. 🙂

However, I’ve noticed a trend over the last couple of months. I’ve had more and more strangers request a game. This in and of itself is not a problem. I’ve made friends on this app. The odd part is the number of guys who have used the app to hit on me; not to pursue me, but to hit on me. Then, when they realize I’m only interested in playing the game (and not using it as a dating app), they resign the game.

Throughout these interactions, I’ve realized that these guys have lost the art of asking good questions. Their usual questions are… “where do I live”, “how old am I”, and “am I single.” I kindly state that I don’t give out any personal information to people I don’t know, especially on-line. Some accept this while others don’t take me seriously and keep pushing.

To be honest, I felt like these questions wouldn’t have really helped them get to know me. Their questions revealed that their aim wasn’t a genuine connection.

What has happened to our ability to ask good, inquisitive questions? “What book have you read lately?” “Where would you travel if you could go anywhere?” “What are your dreams?” “What makes you tick?”

All these interactions have challenged me to ask better questions of the people around me. Am I actually seeing, and hearing them? Do they feel that I am pursuing them in friendship?

Hopefully, as I play the next game, I’ll get asked better questions by the next guy. 🙂

Perspective

Perspective is defined as, “a point of view” by thefreedictionary.com. Below are four different things I’ve seen this week and some possible suggestions as to how I can perceive them.

A car that needs cleaned or a sweet message from a student??

Mountains of laundry or evidence of a sweet family visit??

New adventure or someone who can’t hang anything to save her life or maybe a slow goodbye to a season of life??

Death symbolized by the autumn leaves or a new life represented in the almost hidden blossoms??

As I sit here in my almost empty apartment, I’m faced with choosing a perspective. Perspectives can come in many different forms and from many different backgrounds. The Lord is continually teaching me to check my perspective through His filter. What perspective do you need to change?