Thursday, June 28, 2007

I read Job 38 this morning because I don't know about you, but my perspective in life has radically changed and I needed a reality check. It's good to have a reality check more frequently than not because God is God and I am not and His will is unfathomable and it is easy to lose sight of His purposes when we allow ourselves to be overcome by our on earth.

That is my struggle, that is what I am wrestling with in a very real way right now. I share this so that if anyone reading knows someone who has lost a child, you can have a glimpse of what daily ladens that person's heart...It's not that I don't believe God is all powerful and awesome, loving and purposeful in everything under the sun, it's just that the reality of what occurs here on earth is often too heartbreaking to carry on my own.
Perhaps it's the adrenaline wearing off of the last year because I know it's not my faith wavering, but the depth of sadness that I experience is what I have to figure out how to is what it is. Nothing will ever replace Noah and no one on earth can carry this for us. It is ours to bear. Yes, Christ carries our burdens, but that does not erase Noah from my heart or memory...

I miss Noah every second of every day. There isn't a moment that passes that I am not reminded of him and his sweet life. And though it is not debilitating physically, or even spiritually, it is a profound newness that has changed me forever. I said before I was happy that I died on January 12th so that I could truly live, but being 'me' and not who I was is what I am trying to figure out...

Monday, June 25, 2007

So, I can't wait to post some pictures of my dad in a long skirt, but it will have to be in a couple of weeks, because as of today, my parents are off on a God-ordained adventure for which they have been praying about for over 12 years!!!!! My mom and dad are headed to Hawaii and Fiji, and though the destinations are glorious, the business is serious. (*FYI: my parents DRIVE everywhere b/c flying isn't their favorite, and my dad has never been a fan of leaving the good old U S of A)

My folks have had single moms on their hearts for years and have desired to build communities for them where their children can be safe and the moms provided with quality jobs to provide for their families. Well, through a series of jaw-dropping, "wow-God" events, my mom and dad, in their early 60's, are setting off to meet up with some contacts through Youth With A Mission (YWAM, Kona base) and some friends in Fiji of our dear friends here in Denver. They are going to pray and see what God has in store, as there are many battered women and single moms in Fiji.

I can't remember the name of the skirts the men wear there, but I'm looking forward to seeing my 6'5" dad in one, whatever they are called! Poor thing has been surrounded by us girls all his life and when God finally calls him overseas, it's to a nation where the men wear skirts, too! The closest we ever got our dad to 'embracing any femininity' was painting his gigantic toes while he napped on the couch one afternoon...anyway...

I'm so excited to hear and see what God has in store, not only for my folks in this, but our friends who have entrusted my parents with their vision for ministry in Fiji, and for us, as well. You see, I've dreamed of Fiji for years, but always as a vacation destination. Selfishly, I never gave much thought to the people of the nation. Next year on June 26th, Jason and I will celebrate our 15 year anniversary. We have been planning on going to Fiji for years and since Noah died, have decided we want to integrate ministry into our vacations. We also didn't want to go that far without Emily, so hopefully my parents will be in Fiji during that time, as well. So, unless Jesus returns before our departure, in one year from tomorrow, we'll be on a missions/anniversary celebration in Fiji, and my husband will be wearing a skirt!

Please pray along with us that the Holy Spirit would lead everyone involved, that my parents would have peace in their hearts as they are in His will, and that no plans or schemes of the enemy would prosper. God's in charge and I can't wait to see what He has in store!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Totally random...

Em and I have been housebound all week. Jason was in Texas (he just walked in the door and is reading Em a book right now) and Em had pink eye, congestion and a ruptured eardrum. Well, after a few days on antibiotics for her eardrum, we ventured out of the house late yesterday afternoon to run over to Dr. Julie's office for a refill of the smoothie powder I drink everyday. She had just finished with her last patient so came out to hang out and talk to me...

Me: I think I'm perimenopausal.

Dr. J: No, you're not.

Me: Yeah, I'm pretty sure. For 22 years I've been a 28-day girl and this month it was 21. I've been doing research. I have every symptom, especially forgetfulness...(slight drama in my tone...)

Dr. J: You are not perimenopausal. You need to switch from the soy smoothie to whey protein. It has built up an overabundance of estrogen because soy produces estrogen in your body. It's pretty simple...

Me: So, my uterus isn't falling out?!

Dr. J: No. Your uterus is not falling out!

Me: Okay, well, thanks. Have a good weekend...

So, Em and I headed home and made breakfast for dinner. I sat down to eat when the doorbell rang. I was on the phone with Jason so decided not to answer it since I am forbidden from making front door purchases. I figured it was a teenager selling magazines, so I kept talking to Jason. Well, the bell rang again. I peered through the peep hole and saw a petite teenager, just as I had suspected. I decided to open the door but with my phone in hand so that I could show the solicitor how very busy I was...As I opened the door, there is Emily's babysitter...

Me: Oh, hi! Come on in. I'll be off the phone in a minute...Jason, I have to go...

She pops right in the front door, puts her bags down and starts hanging out with Emily. Suddenly I realize that about two weeks prior, I had secured a babysitter for the night of the 21st while we held Bible study at our home. Well, Jason was out of town, one couple was celebrating their wedding anniversary, another was out of town visiting family and the other couple had already rescheduled for the 28th...

Still not knowing what to do since all week I had wanted to go out with different girlfriends but hadn't secured a babysitter with a sick kid, I decided that since a babysitter at this household is a rare commodity, I had to seize the opportunity.
Because I was taken so off guard, it took me an hour to actually leave the house, and even then, I didn't have a plan, but I knew I had some freedom, and baby I was taking it!

I told the babysitter I wanted Em in bed by 8:30 and that I'd be home by 9:30. I drove aimlessly for a few minutes until I decided that we needed toilet paper. So, on my one night of freedom, I hung out at Target for an hour and a half, buying toilet paper!!!!

Moral of the story: if you are getting forgetful, it may not be your old may be that you are consuming too much SOY!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I finally had a dream the other day about Noah. It was my first one and I had been praying I could have one for a long time. He looked sweet and peaceful, like in the picture above, but he was alive and not attached to any mechanical crap! I had the dream while I was taking a quick afternoon snooze with Emily. She has a 'princess' canopy that hangs over her bed, and in my dream, Noah was lying on her bed, under the canopy, sleeping peacefully. I was able to snuggle with him but I couldn't remove him from the bed to carry him away in my arms. It didn't make me sad, though, in the dream.

When someone is no longer physically in your life, the smell, touch, sound are all removed, as well. Every person who has lost someone they love will always be able to cherish memories, no matter how many were made and in what amount of time. But dreams are so sweet to keep close what daily grows distant. They bring the past into the forefront of your mind, and for that I am so grateful...

Monday, June 18, 2007

This picture was taken while we walked around Sea World on our recent trip to Florida. If you can't make it out, in the background it says, 'JESUS LOVE U' and the foreground says, 'U + GOD = '. The pilot was still completing his thought. If I were to guess what the answer to that equation were to be, there are many I could speculate...perhaps 'U + GOD = PEACE or LOVE or HOPE or FREEDOM or ETERNAL LIFE or THE GREATEST RESTORED LOVE RELATIONSHIP SINCE THE LITTLE MISHAP IN THE GARDEN...'

There are many things in our lives that we try to substitute for God in our day to day equations. 'U + busyness does not = God' or 'U + good intentions does not = God or peace or love or joy or hope or freedom' or any of the things listed above. Those equations usually = burnout and disappointment. They = pleasing man, or ourselves, and in the end, end up equalling zero, because neither is satisfied.

Thank God for God, though! He is interested, very intimately, in each and every one of our lives. He is in love with all of His creation and desires so deeply to have daily relationships with ALL OF US. Can you imagine giving Your only Son for the entire world so the relationship that was broken in the Garden could be restored for earth and eternity? I can't. But Jesus' life, death and resurrection was not only for the 6.5 billion alive today, but the billions that have lived before us, and the ones that will follow. It's mind-boggling at times, especially because Jesus was just trying to encourage us to 'love our neighbors' and that can be hard enough...Imagine loving the whole wide world and caring about our needs!

SOOO, in light of that thought, I want to tell you why my heart hurts lately...I've been pegged, tagged, pigeon holed, call it what you want, but I've been plunked into a category and believe me, I didn't do it. I'm not in the 'Mom's who have taken their kid off life support' club or the 'Elite women who have someone waiting in heaven for them' society. Let me, I'm in this great Bible study on Thursdays at my friend's house. There are about 15 women, 2 who I am friends with and knew prior to the study's beginning. Anyway, at the end we go around and share prayer requests. I've shared things like wanting prayer for details about Noah's book and speaking engagements, the sale of our home or whether we are supposed to move or not, relief from the funky river parasite I picked up on Memorial Day weekend, help grocery shopping...I share these examples because we all have different things at different times throughout the days and weeks for which we are seeking direction and strength from the Lord. Well, then the person after me says something to the effect, "Well, that's a hard one to follow..." or "Mine's not as significant as that..." It's actually happened in other circles as well, even here on the blog when I've asked people to share prayer requests. I bring it up because it's a BIG FAT LIE!

The reason it's a big fat lie is because God cares about every single one of us and He is concerned about what concerns our hearts! He doesn't have a sweet spot on His ear for me, especially, because of Noah...The reason it's a big fat lie is because it's comparing and satan wants us in the tail-chasing act of comparison so we don't pursue the selfless love of Christ toward others. It's a big fat lie because division and a lack of self worth (not believing that whom the Son sets free is free indeed...) are two of millions of tools satan uses to turn our eyes from Christ. It's a big fat lie because it could cause us to NOT pray for someone else or ourselves because we prioritize the need, rather than laying them ALL out there for God to handle, which He can! It's not our job to emphasize one over another.

For comparison sake, let me put this out there for anyone to ponder...My life experience is different from one of my dearest friend's who lost her mom when she was only 10. Talk about grocery shopping...she was the oldest kid, so probably spent a lot of time with her mom at the store. Should I never ask her to pray for me because I don't comprehend losing my mom to a horrible disease? What about an old friend of mine that has lived overseas most of her marriage because her husband flies fighter jets? My husband isn't in the military so I don't know what it is like to daily wonder when he'll be sent to war or whether he'll come home alive or not. That is not my reality, but I'll continue to pray for those families. Or, there's a woman that due to ethnic and cultural differences, has called her mother-in-law every morning 10 years to see if there is anything she needs. My missing Noah does not negate this woman's need for freedom in Christ. Or what about the college student? Just because she's not enlisted in the military or out on the mission field does not mean that her diligence in studying for her finals is not as important a prayer request...What about the women overseas who have lost multiple children to disease and starvation or the kids that have no parents because of HIV and AIDS? There will always be someone on earth in a different circumstance than us, some worse, some better, but ALL of our concerns are important to God!

Yes, there are things that are trivial, like what color I should paint my toenails or who's on the cover of a gossip magazine or if I want black beans or pintos. But when it's something that is on your heart to actually talk to God about, and to ask others to seek Him with you regarding it, baby, it's not trivial. It's business and God is listening. I know that the heart behind the comment, 'Mine's not as serious or important' is pure and good. Their empathy is genuine, but believing that God thinks my prayer request is more important than someone elses' is the lie satan wants us to believe.
My heart is that people know God's heart, and His says, "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety (cares, worries) on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." I Peter 5:6-11 (emphasis mine)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Oh, the irony!

So, during Bible study on Thursday morning, I turned my phone off, obviously. We shared prayer requests at the end of our time together and I asked for prayer to be able to go grocery shopping. Anyway, afterwards I turned it back on, but was talking with my friends, so didn't answer it when it shouted out 'Beautiful Day' in the background. Then the phone died. So, while Em and I were driving home to see what kind of lunch we could round up, it occurred to me that the phone call before the phone died had to have been Jason. I just knew he was lovingly, jokingly, but with a cry of help, saying, 'Don't even think of coming home until you've gone to the grocery store...'

Well, we got in the door and Jason said, 'So, did you get my message?'
Me: 'What, the message that said not to come home unless I've gone to the grocery store?!' (smile on the face)

J: 'Yeah, that one.' (smile on the face) (Jason's message was way more lovey dovey than was real 'Dale Carnegie' and sweet, like, 'Hey, I was just curious if you and Em were stopping by Sunflower Market after Bible study?')

Me: 'No. My phone died, but I knew you'd leave me a message like that!'

J: 'So, what's for lunch?'

Me: 'I don't know...there's a can of pumpkin on the bottom shelf, ooh, ooh, ooh, and some olives and 12 partial boxes of crackers...'

J: 'No, seriously.'

Me: 'Hey Em, what do you want for lunch?'

Em: 'A cheesadilla.' (her rendition of a quesadilla, usually her answer)

Me: 'We don't have any cheese, sweety girl.'

Em: 'My bagel from last night.'

J: 'A bagel she has today because I took her out last night.' (I was at a craft night with my friends eating guacamole...)

Me: 'How about some monkey food, too. Here, I'll peel it.'

*Meanwhile, I'm getting mixed lettuce out of the fridge, along with pasta to boil and pesto I made earlier in the week. There ARE leftovers in the fridge...

I remind Jason that just that morning I wrote on the blog that he was low maintenance, so he didn't want to ruin his reputation by expecting a gourmet lunch! We all ate lunch and made it until 4:30 when we had to leave for a showing. We ran a few errands and had a quick dinner a few blocks from our house at the little town center. We ran into two of the girls from Bible study and their families and then on the way to our car, we saw Dr. Julie and talked with her for a while. She invited me to grocery shop with her on Fridays, but was going out of town today, so for sure next week...

Today, however, I found myself in 3 different grocery stores because they didn't all carry what was on my list. No joke, they were all PACKED with pregnant women and moms with their babies in the carts, or with small carry baskets pushing strollers. Seriously, every gramma in Denver was babysitting their grandbaby while grocery shopping, too. Of course the first aisle we went down was the baby aisle because at this particular market, the spices are on the other side...I got home and Jason asked how it went. I told him that every mom and their baby was out shopping today. He said he was sorry. It's not like I resent those women. Nor am I jealous of them. That's seriously not my heart. I just love the irony that the very thing I'm mentally trying to conquer was surrounding me on all sides.

So, yeah, thanks, Lord...Really, no need to ease into it...Let's just dive right in and get over my grocery store phobia ALL IN ONE DAY! It worked, though! Thanks for the prayers and encouragement! I'm actually looking forward to next Friday when I can have a shopping buddy.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Empty Shopping Cart

Something strange that has happened in the last year is my aversion to grocery shopping. Em and I used to go regularly on Wednesdays or every other Wednesday before Noah was born. It was our routine. She would grab one of those mini kid size carts and follow me around the store, the whole time I'm praying that my heels don't get plowed over. So then, Noah was born and was at home for only 7 1/2 weeks. 2 of those weeks Jason was out of town for work and one of them, the four of us were in South Dakota, so I only went grocery shopping once during that time frame. When August 2nd came along, grocery shopping was the last thing on my mind. Also, our families were in town for 5 1/2 months straight, running those errands for us, so I knew Em wasn't going to go hungry. It was a burden lifted, not to mention meals at the hospital for those months!

After January 12th, we still had family in town for a while, but our freezer was stocked full, along with our cupboards, and people were still helping with that particular errand. So, here we are on June 14th and my husband asks me quite frequently if I'm ever going to go to the grocery store? I have gone a few times since Noah died (yes, I realized it's been 5 months and I only said 'a few times'...). A couple months ago I went but I didn't realize how much emotional fortitude I had to muster just to get groceries. I went because at my house, eating the archives of the pantry doesn't fly well with the hubby. He's not high maintenance at all, but where Em and I could get by eating breakfast for dinner or veggies and a can of beans from the back of the bottom shelf...well, Jason...not so much. He likes chicken or salmon and veggies, maybe some rice or potatoes. And though any kind of vegetable, save eggplant, is my favorite food of all time, it means going to the grocery store...AND THAT MEANS NOAH'S NOT IN MY CART, GRABBING HIS TOES, COOING, SMILING, AND STARING BACK AT ME.

Yeah, I figured it out.

I have a hill to traverse and it's the mental picture, or what is lacking in that picture, of me at the grocery store. It may sound small to some, and believe me, I don't feel sorry for myself, nor do I expect it from someone else. Jason is fully aware of my aversion to the grocery store now. He's gone and done it a few times, but he always goes when he's hungry and brings home bags of chips and Milano cookies! One day a few months back Em and I went to the store, without a list, mind you, and upon hearing the total bill from the checkout clerk, my jaw almost hit the floor! I didn't know what we really needed, and just kept buying multiples of things so I could stock the cupboards and not have to return. I remember coming home with 4 jars of spaghetti sauce...except we rarely eat spaghetti! With that ticket, you would have thought I was feeding of family of 5 teenage boys, not a husband with a moderate appetite and a four year old that would eat quesadillas and apples every day of her life if given the chance.

So, all that to say, I'm asking for a couple extra prayers to be sent up for the mental blockage I have over missing Noah at the grocery store. It's not like we spent so much time there together! I don't have all these wonderful memories that make me sad about 'the time Noah helped me pick out a beautiful artichoke' or 'remember how the meat counter lady sliced the turkey...' And it's not that I sit there and bawl, either. I can't quite put my finger on it, but if I don't get my buns in gear and get to the store soon, just a financial pointer for all...everyone should buy stock in Qdoba and Tokyo Joe's! No, seriously!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On the 10th when I woke up, every picture in my head was as clear from a year prior as if it were happening all over again. I woke up thinking, "Well, a year ago I was having mild contractions 5 minutes apart..." I called Marie, my sweet friend and doula, and asked her what I should do...she told me to bake something or clean the house...I put a rump roast in the crock pot, did some laundry, and cleaned the house...the contractions remained 5 minutes apart but grew in intensity. I called to tell her that they were getting a little stronger but I could still do plenty. She said to head to the hospital when the contractions were causing me to slow down and concentrate on breathing. I hopped in the shower, shaved, did my hair, a touch of waterproof mascara, and thought it might be about time to pack my overnight bag! Meanwhile, Jason and Em were sitting quietly on the couch watching 'The Sound of Music', waiting patiently for my cue. Em kept asking Jason, "When's my little brother coming? When are we going to get the baby out of mommy's tummy?" Jason kept responding, "Whenever your mom says so..." At 3pm, we headed to the ER to check in. The contractions were more intense by the time we walked through the doors of the hospital, and I was having to hold onto things to breathe every 5 minutes. At about 3:15 when we headed to the LD floor, there was a group of pregnant women touring the hospital, all smiling and giddy, not knowing what was in store until they saw me trying to walk down the hallway! They grew quiet. I wasn't being loud or obnoxious, I was just trying to breathe and walk simultaneously, which usually isn't a problem for me!

I was ready to go for it at 5:45, but the substitute doctor was late, so I wasn't allowed to push! Finally, Noah was born at 6:57pm with Jason by my side, along with my little sister, Dana, and 3 dear girlfriends, Marie, Becky and Rachel. A worship CD that my sister had made played continually in the background. It was a beautiful day!

Fast forward one year later and we are all together celebrating Noah's life, once more. Many friends surrounded us physically while everyone else was encouraging us with prayer. Thank you! We had a big 'bring your own picnic' at a park near our home and were going to have a bike parade for the kids, but the wind got pretty intense and it started to sprinkle, so we skipped that. Once the wind stopped and the skies cleared, God sent...yep, you guessed it, a beautiful rainbow! How stinkin' cool is that?! People were starting to head home, so we ended the afternoon with a rainbow balloon send off...I only wish in reality that balloons actually made it to heaven. I know heaven's full of kids, and what kid doesn't love balloons?! I'm quite convinced that entertainment in heaven is cooler than here, though, so I'm not that worried about it. He's not missing out, on anything really, we are...How could you be 'missing out' when you are beholding the Glory of God?! Maranatha!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Surely this will be a short visit at the hospital...

And so the story goes...tomorrow is June 10th. It will always be June 10th a year from today for the rest of time until Christ's return. Until then, there will never not be a June 10th. On January 12th, Noah's eternal birthday, June 10th did not disappear. Until we are in God's glory forever, watches, clocks and calendars will always mark the time and date. I'm glad that June 10th didn't cease to exist the day Noah died. I obviously never thought it would or could. It's important to remember. I remember by the minute, but usually every second of every day. I miss this beautiful boy who opened my eyes to eternity and God's glory. I live in this surreal reality that my sweet son is no longer physically in my life. It sucks. It is sad. I have a deep profound sadness in the core of my being, an enormously empty spot in my heart, and at the same time this immeasurable peace and joy for having known him and knowing where he is at this moment. The day Noah was born was one of the happiest days of my life, as was the day Em was born. Automatically loving selflessly in the instant your child is born is a miracle in itself. It's unfathomable since selfishness is so natural to me, and all of mankind...

Noah, I know you want me there more than I want you here, and I will live in that pursuit with all of my heart and all of my soul and all of my mind because God is the One I seek, but as your mommy, I'm not going to lie to you...I miss you, plain and simple, I miss you. I know in heaven there is no measure of time, but here on earth, one year ago, tomorrow is the day you entered our hearts and changed our perspective...I love you could I not?

Proud daddy

The only picture of Noah on Emily's birthday, July 11th. His nap was during the party...

One week prior to checking in to Children's
Nap time in Big Sis' room
Sleeping through a great South Dakota 4th of July

One of two family photos prior to hospitalization
Post bath time shivers
Snuggled up after a bath in the kitchen sink

Contemplating life
Peaceful sleep
The littlest feet make the deepest impact

More couch time
Yes, Em, you will always be bigger than Noah...
So handsome

Sheer excitement
Always wanting to nuggle
Couch time

Getting ready to leave the hospital
Welcome home, son
First nap in your very own bed

Hospital crib shot
Friends and family welcoming Noah
Big Sis and 'brudder'

Big yawn
First bath
Already looking up to daddy

Brand new...
One awesome father
A very proud big sis

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Glutton in the Peach Tree

One day, four years ago, I was sitting in the kitchen on the phone with a friend. I heard a chainsaw outside and looked out the side window. Much to my dismay, Jason was outside 'trimming' our amazing peach tree. The tree the year before had yielded hundreds of peaches, but it was too overgrown and did need pruning. Jason was convinced that a peach tree should grow straight upwards. I thought it was supposed to be a low hanging tree. We had many discussions prior to his chainsaw extravaganza. There were two main branches, shaped much like a 'Y', and they were very large and hanging low. I pleaded with him to let me first research peach tree pruning before he went crazy with the power tools, but, alas, I took too long, and the smaller opposing branch was gone. I was one grumpy girl. He assured me that in pruning the tree it would yield more fruit in the future, and though I know that principle, the tree looked like a toddler with scissors! I remember being angry with Jason throughout most of that day. It wasn't even that peaches were my favorite fruit, either! Cherries, are, and we have two of those trees in the front yard. This was during a time in my life when I was very lonely for friendships and eating for company's sake...

That night I had a dream about the peach tree. It was very vivid...I can still see it clearly as I type tonight. In the dream I looked out the window to look at the peach tree. It was dark outside but a full moon lit the sky. I could see the tree shaking though there was no wind. As I looked more closely, I could see a dark figure in the tree. I took another step forward because I was mad that something was in my peach tree. The branches opened and there sat a dark brown, hairy, ferocious looking creature staring back at me. It was a wolverine. I had only seen wolverines in an animated fashion advertising for the University of Michigan. I had never even seen a picture of a real one, but I knew in my dream that a wolverine was in my peach tree and it was acting extremely territorial.

The next day I was reading the Bible and praying. I wasn't studying anything in particular but the word 'glutton' popped into my head. I was NOT studying about gluttony. It was the last thing I wanted to think about as I finished off the bag of 'Riesens'. Now, I've said before that when a thought pops into your head that is smarter than you, it's usually God so you should stop and listen. I got out my dictionary and looked up the word 'glutton'. (I'd quote the definition here as it reads in my dictionary but much to my dismay, I packed it when we were getting the house ready for showing! Regret!) Anyway, I read through the definition, and near the end where it gave examples of gluttonous things, it said, 'like a wolverine, a ferocious, territorial eater'...WHAM BAM.

This is more or less what followed..."Okay, Lord. I get it. I'm a glutton. You are right. I am sorry for filling my life with food instead of You. I am sorry for being a hypocrite. I repent of feeding my face and starving my soul. Satan, you don't have control over my life...the Lord rebuke you! I repent of sins passed on through my family relating to food obsession and gluttony. Lord, I thank you that Your grace is sufficient and that I am free. Give me strength to make the right choices to steward this temple with which you have entrusted me and thank You for opening my eyes."

That's the spiritual side of my journey with food. I had hungered and thirsted after food, drink, and things. I was not satisfied in any sense of the word, literally, because I was worshipping a false god and those things were incapable of satisfying.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled." Matthew 5:6

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." John 4:14

"Give us today our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has place his seal of approval." John 6:26-27

Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." John 6:29

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." John 6:32-33

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe." John 6:35-36

"No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." John 6:46-51

Lord, I pray for myself and everyone reading this, that our worth would be found in You alone, that our satisfaction would come from your living water, the Son, the Bread of Life. When we want to fill our faces out of emotional insecurity, let us draw near to you and be filled. Each of us, as humans, have different struggles, Lord, but anything that distracts us from our pursuit of You is a false god that will never suffice. Lead us by Your Holy Spirit. Give us eternal perspective. Stir up the gifts in each of us for Your glory and Your purpose and help us to enjoy food for what it is...

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

At a traditional bath house B & B in Japan eating dinner with our contacts.
Yummy veggies at the open air market in London.
Some people think sickness is only spiritual. Others think it is strictly genetic makeup, while others believe it is brought on through repeated self-destructive behaviors. I personally believe it can be a combination of all of the above, and probably then some...

My earliest memory of wanting food for more than food's sake was in second grade. I used to come home after school to my own private smorgasbord. You see, I was a latchkey kid in elementary school, and as normal as that is for many children, I used the solitude to soothe the munchies. My dad, with good intentions, had said things to us kids like, 'Don't eat that, it will make you fat'. For some reason with me, it made me relate food with body image and fat instead of nutrients and energy. I always thought I was fat but when I look back at pictures, I had believed lies.

To sum up a long story, for 15+ years, I tried most diets, I exercised, I fasted, and I ate pretty healthily with family, though not so socially. I was always the tallest friend and physically mature beyond my years. In 9th grade a guy I had a crush on told me I was built like a football center. My 6'5", 250 lb dad told me he was sorry I was built like him. He didn't say it to hurt me, it was because I said I wished I wasn't so tall. My grandma constantly commented on my broad shoulders and how strong I was. I had been a competitive swimmer for 12 years, so I had a huge back and most certainly wasn't a rail. My freshman year of college in P.E. class, we had our percent body fat taken. I was 140 lbs with a body fat percentage of 11. I thought I was fat. I spent most of my finances my freshman year at Subway and eating Twix bars daily while washing it down with a Dr. Pepper. I didn't drink pop until my freshman year, and let's just say, I went overboard! By the time I graduated from college, I was 150 lbs, but my percent body fat had changed from 11% to 25%. I had only gained 10 lbs, but my body composition had changed A LOT!

Skip forward to my mid-twenties and I was eating healthily again, and exercising, but my body composition would not change. I gained weight slowly and began having bad back pain, digestive problems, and was literally awake every night for 7 years between the hours of 1:00 am and 3:00 am. I went to a G.I. doctor, but they said I looked great. I had a CT scan, but they didn't see the culprit to my pain and sleeplessness. After Emily was born in 2002, several months later, I was having a lot of abdominal pain and my back would go out quite regularly. I also began obsessing about food. It was all I could think about and it was all I wanted to Salty, sweet, salty, sweet, crunchy, creamy, salty, sweet. It was a crazy non-stop craving. My mind was foggy, I was constantly bloated, I was short-tempered, lethargic, and had no short term memory. I was also very depressed.

My primary physician integrated conventional medicine with acupuncture. I began to see him for acupuncture for back pain while also seeing a regular chiropractor. My back pain was gone, but I still wasn't sleeping through the night and was craving food and thinking about it non-stop. I read books about diet, supplements and exercise, I walked and did lots of ab work to support my lower back, but I was still obsessed about my weight and what stared back at me in the mirror.

God led me to a woman named Dr. Julie Marchiol. She's a chiropractor and acupuncturist. She's a christian, too, and has since become a treasured friend, but it was under her care that we solved a lot of physical problems and are still working on a few areas, of which I'll share later. Though the one endocrinologist from Arizona who commented recently said we need to study genetics more carefully, I concur, but will say that hearing that someone has 'good' genes because they are 5'8" and 135 doesn't encourage me regarding overeating or food obsession. When you finish off the boxes of Suzy-Q's, consume mass quantities of sugar in pop, candy, extra desserts, binge, purge, eat more food in volume than your stomach can contain at one given time, you send your body years of bad messages. Toxins build up and those toxins are eventually stored as not only fat but also disease. Call it genetics or bad programming, but just like we can't blame every quirk in our lives on someone else, we need to take responsibility for what we have put into our bodies and what we have left out. Instead of daily Twix indulgences for 2 years straight in college while watching 'Days of our Lives', I could have been feasting on the Bread of Life, growing healthy in my walk with God. God created our bodies as machines to run on healthy fuel. When most of what America eats comes from refined flours and sugars, it's as far away from the way God created it as possible...

Anyway, for me, Dr. Julie found that I had parasites, raging candida, storage and absorption problems, along with low serotonin levels AND I was eating and craving many of the foods to which I am allergic. Through a lot of hard work, I got rid of my sweet little parasites, got my candida in balance, have balanced out my serotonin levels, and, am finally digesting food properly. The way I know this is I've been tracking my BMI, intra- and extra-cellular fluids and my resting metabolism with Dr. Julie. For those who know what this all means, my BMI went from 98 lbs to 121 lbs in a month and a half. My intracellular fluids are now higher than my extracellular fluids and my resting metabolism has gone from 1517 to 1768. I have only lost 2.5 lbs, but it is all fat and not muscle.

It's really late, and I still haven't shared the story of when God called me out on my gluttony, which occurred one year after Emily was born, and is integral in my attitude toward food and my body image. I will share that in the next couple of days, but first wanted to lay down the history of my journey.

I know this is a lot of information, but my hope is that it rings a bell with many different people in one area or another and encourages you to take back your health. I'll leave you with this thought...If I were a crack addict or addicted to porn or alcohol, being a recovering addict would mean I needed to remove those culprits from my life. Crack in 'moderation' would not be an option! The problem with overcoming a food addiction is that removing it as the culprit is not optional. Food is necessary to live and is something we can also enjoy. It is not the culprit. Our minds and attitudes toward it are what cause the gift of food to be anything more that what it is.

Friday, June 01, 2007

I'm aware this is random, but this is 'Sara Lovey Dovey', Em's beta. I was taking pictures of her because her belly doesn't look that great and she hasn't been eating, so I wanted to show my sister who has a beta, and has a knack for 'reviving' fish. Anyway, I took the picture right up against her little bowl that it looks like she's floating on my kitchen window sill. Random, huh? (P.S. My sis gave her tea tree oil and she's doing great now...)

ANYWAY, it's been non-stop here. We went rafting and camping with some friends over the holiday weekend, then my folks have been in town so we've been having quality time with them, and now we are headed up to the mountains for the weekend with my folks and my sister and her family for a little R & R at a friend's cabin before my parents head back to Phoenix for a bit.

I am going to definitely share my story of my journey with food and gluttony, but since it's lengthy, I haven't been able to dive into it this past week.

As far as some of the comments and other people's opinions, one thing Jason taught me early in our relationship is that it is okay to disagree. Obviously on earth, we aren't all going to agree on the non-essentials all the time. That's the beauty of variety and also learning to live and love in the body of Christ despite our differences. Also, concerning people posting comments that lead to discussions, that is great. Just know that since it is my blog, if I don't want a particular comment, I'll just delete it, that's the beauty of being the author here, though I rarely do that. And, I will say this, my journey with food and gluttony integrates eastern and western medicine, prayer and acupuncture, herbs and natural supplements. I'm not a doctor, it is my experience, my years of research and tests, and it's also my personal opinion...So, if it doesn't line up with your moral conviction of whether the Chinese, who have been practicing medicine for 5000 years, know what they are talking about or if conventional drugs are the answer to everything, that's not really the point...the point is, I was a very sick person, physically, and spiritually, and now, I'm free.

Have a great weekend!