Monday, April 25, 2011

Abundant Blessings

Yesterday, our eldest daughter was baptized.

As I stood there, and I saw my husband baptizing our daughter, I kept thinking, "Who am I to receive this gift? I am no one. I don't deserve such goodness. I come from nothing. Yet, here I am, receiving such tremendous blessings." Our God is a great Father, loving us when we are unlovely, blessing us when we don't deserve it, and continually teaching, guiding and redeeming as only a loving and patient Father God can do. What a beautiful God we serve. I am so unlovely, yet I am so loved. Thank you Father for such tremendous blessings.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reading and Knitting

Small Things, is a blog that I enjoy. Ginny, is a very talented photographer which makes things so pretty to look at there. But she's also very talented in many other areas which is what really makes it interesting to read. She does a blog post now and then with what she's reading and knitting. I've really enjoyed her blog posts so I thought I'd share with you over my morning tea today.

Sharing what I'm reading is hard, because if I were truly going to show you, it would be a stack. I don't just read one book at a time. However, I'll pick the one on top for this purpose. Last night I started reading A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers. I read my first book by Rivers a few months ago. I had been living with the preconceived notion that all "christian" novels would be cheesy and sub par literature. (Lit snob? Ah, yes.) Again, me and my preconceived notions were wrong. Francine Rivers is quite talented and reveals much of God's beauty in her books. This one is a compilation of historical fiction based on five women of the Bible. Last night I read the story about Tamar. I thought I'd just read a chapter or so to make me sleepy before bed but I couldn't put it down! The old testament is so... dry... and weird. I mean really. There are so many cultural things that we just don't GET. Like why you would trick your father-in-law into sleeping with you so you could get pregnant and hopefully have sons. I don't even know what to say or think about that. It's such an insane, and let's be honest, sick notion to us now. Rivers does a beautiful job of drawing out the story and the cultures of that time. And while it is fiction, it gave me so much insight into what it may have been like for Tamar and the other women of that time. I think she does a beautiful job of helping you to understand the heart of God through her writing. Just beautiful, can't wait to read more!

Second, that's a man sock. Man socks aren't really pretty blog fodder, but they are loved by my man! His words to me yesterday were "I can't wait to wear those! They are going to go so good with my shorts and my new sneakers." I'm not sure if this motivates me to finish them or hide them.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

American Idols

This week I got some news that was crushing. For years I have been plagued by health issues that I could not control. I would try, oh how I tried! I tried all kinds of things, but it is an uphill battle that I have been steadily losing. I have met several dead ends when it came to finding medical help for these issues. This week I sought medical help in another avenue and found the answers I have long been seeking. However, answers don't always bring us what we desire do they?

On Monday, I got affirmation of what I've been experiencing. Proof that when I said I didn't feel good, there was a reason. Seeing those things in black and white was shocking. It was a blow. Then on Tuesday, I found out the reasons why. I have food intolerance's that I was unaware of. An intolerance is not the same as an allergy, but they are close friends. I won't have some crazy reaction and need life saving rescue if I eat one of these things. But my body can not break them down and thus it sees them as unwelcome substances that send my body into distress. Though I've been putting "healthy" things into my body, I am malnourished and my body has been working in self-protect mode, probably since I was born. Oh how I wish it was something simple. But it's not. I can't eat potato. That sounds simple enough, until you look at how many things are derived from potatoes; enriched flours, pasta's and rices; b-vitamins; dextrose (added bonus, dextrose is added to almost all salt); starch, etc... etc... the list is long. In addition, I have an inability to eat sugar and fruit within 8 hours of each other. The list of things I can not eat gets even longer. Fruit, much like potato has many things derived from it that are added to foods. Sugar is in a lot of things as well. The list of foods that are "clean" is very short.

I expected that when I finally had answers, I'd feel freedom, redemption, affirmation. What did I really feel? Defeated. This will not be easy. This means rethinking everything. It means ordering "clean" flours, salt, rice, pasta and so forth from obscure sources. It means making most things that I'd rather pick up conveniently at the grocery store. It means giving up many of my favorite things. There is very, very little available that is free from potato contaminant, let alone adding the fruit/sugar thing into the mix. Just try looking around your kitchen and imagine throwing out everything that has dextrose, salt, flour or sugar (and it's various forms) out. That's just the "big" stuff and your kitchen is probably almost empty. Then imagine trying to eat out. Imagine, being invited to a friends house for dinner and telling them that you pretty much can't eat anything in their kitchen. I hate telling people who are trying to help or bless me that I have specific needs, especially such specific difficult needs. It's very humbling. Everything in me screams out like a toddler throwing a tantrum, "I DON'T WANT TO!"

I know I can not give in to defeat. I have been battling defeat and it's friend despair all week. They were joined by the lie that I just "couldn't do this". The truth is, I CAN do this. I can get my health straightened out and actually feel good again. I can. But it's a daily choice minute by minute to do so. It means dying to my desires and doing what is right for my body. It means putting in the extra work to get and keep myself healthy. It has exposed me and stripped me bare.

There are two things that it has really exposed to me. Both I are things that I've been aware of, but more in an "out there" kind of way, not in a deeply personal way. First of all, we have truly perverted our food. There are food additives and chemicals in nearly everything. It's crazy. God designed our bodies. AND, he designed the food/fuel for them. We've "improved" on what he has done to spoil our taste buds, to the ruin of our bodies. As health issues in our country skyrocket we are all aware of this, but are not motivated to change. We don't want to get rid of all our whitened, sweetened, eternal shelf life food. It's become a part of the American culture. We can be junk food lovers or self proclaimed "foodies", we can have trim figures or obese ones. As a culture, we are all in love with food.

I am guilty of this. I have felt so exposed in this area this week. I have been humbled. I have spoiled rotten taste buds. Food is an idol. Comfort is an idol. More than anything, these are children of the idol of SELF. I am guilty on all accounts. Having such a highly restricted diet makes me very uncomfortable. I think I need to say that again, this has made me VERY uncomfortable.

Discomfort. It's not a place where we want to be. We like comfort. It's one of our favorite American Idols. It's also an idol that is a huge road block to allowing transformation in our lives. We feel that we are entitled to comfort. It's part of the "American Dream". God's really been working on me in this area for the past few years. I do not like to live in the messy. I do not want to live where I'm uncomfortable. I will do almost anything to squirm my way out of it. But where we're uncomfortable, is the place where we change. That's the place where God reaches in and pulls out the broken sinful parts of us and fills us with himself. As Christians he calls us to live in these uncomfortable, often painful, places. They are trials. In the book of Philippians, the apostle Paul told us to expect the trials, and to embrace them. Not because we like them, but because they are the catalyst through which the transformation of our souls happens. Because our ultimate trust is in the Lord. He is working in and through us. Through the power of Christ we change. Idols are exposed and rooted out. Transformation and healing are his goals. He is for us, not against us. But for this transformation to happen, we must first make the choice to trust in him.

This week parts of my soul have been exposed. The anthem of my week has been In Christ Alone. It is indeed one of my favorite songs. My life is a pattern of God bringing me to my knees as I acknowledge my own folly and weakness. But through his power, not mine, I can do anything.

Photo Credits:
Image: Maggie Smith / , Image: Sura Nualpradid /, Image: graur razvan ionut /