Friday, December 8

A Pickle Prayer (Part 1)

You are the great I AM.  You are God the Father from whom are all things and for whom I exist. All of creation came from your mind and heart.  You are full of mercy, grace, and unfailing love.  I was made in your image, inwardly and outwardly.  You are my Father, and you have declared me your child. You know everything about me.  You are familiar with all my ways.  Not even a hair drops on my head that you don't know about.  I consider you and call you Abba, Daddy, my Papa.  You are a father who gives good gifts, perfectly designed for me.  Rather than being distant and angry, you are the complete expression of love.  You will never forget me.  I am your treasured possession.  You are my greatest encourager.  You lavish me with love and delight.  You lavish me with grace.  You love me with an everlasting love. You rejoice over me with singing.  You are sometimes speechless in your love for me.  You dance over me with shouts of pure joy.  You will NEVER, EVER leave me or forsake me, period.  You demonstrated your love for me by giving your only begotten Son.  Even if I lose my faith (active trust) in you, you will never lose faith (active trust) in me.  You delight in me, even as you delight in your Son, Jesus.  I am invaluable to you; worth the death of your Holy Son.  Make your love my abiding and comfortable home.  When I was at my worst, you strategically chose that very moment to demonstrate your delight in me.  Nothing can separate me from your love.  Father, what do you want to say to my heart?

Close your time of prayer with listening.  

One thought in Untying the Knots of your heart is pickling. Untying the Knots of your Heart is a 22 week small group experience to dig into who you are- really, and who God is- really.  Just as a cucumber doesn't become a pickle by being dipped into vinegar a few times, so we do not become whole-hearted until we soak and soak and soak in the truths of God's word. I offer this prayer in a first person form from the scriptures gathered from material printed by Aphesis Group, which is the ministry that puts together the curriculum for this class.  New classes are starting in January.  I would love to tell you more about this experience.

Monday, December 4

A Lesson in Love From My Morning Smoothie

It's hard to write about the sweet side of love this morning.  I have had a rough morning with my kids.  Nash ran out the door and I didn't know where he was for a few minutes.  June could not accept that we weren't going to her friends' house ASAP upon waking, and we fought about it.  She's mad at me as I write this.

Love is simplicated.  It's like a smoothie- it's not all sweet, but it's all good.  Good for them, and for for us. It's good for us to have to give love when the child cannot say, "Thank you" or "I love you" back.  It teaches us unconditional love.  It's good for our pride to have to put others before ourselves. It's a good thing for our children to learn that love means I will keep you safe, and that means I must say no sometimes.  We learn, we grow, together.

But it's bitter when it's plain. hard. work.  "In pain you will bring forth children..." (Genesis 3)- I don't think this means just the child birthing part.  My children test me, and I have to give far more physically and emotionally that I thought possible.  It's plain hard work to be patient with a three year old who just threw his vitamin down the vent and screamed "NO" at you. It's nearly impossible to get June to go to bed or obey the first time. It's downright painful when Nash wouldn't nap and then grumpily smacks you in the face as you wrestle him into a new pull-up before bedtime.

But the sweet part is this little person, looking at you, loving you, giving you kisses and laughter.  The sweet part is when your 6 year old starts (trying) to tell knock knock jokes.  It's sweet when you get kisses from a little boy who leaves extra slobber on your cheek and you get to wipe it off with a smile.  The sweet part is when they finally say “Thank you, I love you.”

As this day went on, Nash told me he loved me.  Twice. I could cry just remember his soft little voice saying it.  Part of our Saturday night Sabbath ritual is saying something good we remember from the week.  It's kind of like high-low, except we leave out the low, at least on Sabbath.  I want to remember the sweet right now, relish in it, for at least... 20 seconds. Before Nash refuses to eat his vegetable soup.

My Morning Smoothie
1 cup frozen fruit
1-2 cups spinach or BABY kale
1/2 cup yogurt
2 tbsp chia seeds or flax seeds or something, ya know, hippie dippie
1 banana (if I have one)
1 cup liquid- juice, almond milk, or just water

Blend, sip, adjust if too bitter, repeat, enjoy.  (Also an excellent recipe for motherhood)

Saturday, December 2

A Holy Beckoning

Why do stories captivate us? What movies are your favorite? Stop and ask yourself, "Why?" Why do I love it when Mr. Darcy walks so majestically across a field toward Elizabeth? Why can I watch Ever After or Notting Hill over and over again? Why is Life is Beautiful so touching to our hearts?

I would propose that almost any story that touches our heart is actually reaching a place in our soul.  It's calling to something mysterious inside of us.  What is this thing, this desire, this beckoning? I believe it is God drawing us into his story.  Our irreplaceable role in His great, eternal, story of redemption.  And God is not just the author of this story, he's the hero of the story*.  In short it goes something like this: Once upon a time, a great fellowship of the Triune God already existed.  Then, God created.  He created the Heavens and the Earth. The angels he created cheered him on in this act of creating.  But at some point, a betrayal happened.  There was a war in heaven led by one of the angels- Lucifer.  Lucifer and his followers were cast to earth...  As the creation of earth unfolded it was good.  And God formed man, and then woman, in his very image, and it was very good.  But this enemy of God, Lucifer, called Satan, came to steal the heart of mankind, kill with deception, and destroy anything dear to God's heart.  And so, for a moment, the villain in this story had his way.  He deceived Adam and Eve, and they gave their heart away to something other than God, in other words, they sinned.  In the ultimate climax of this story, God came down to Earth to take this sin upon himself.  He didn't have any sin, but he became sin for his beloved creation, so that they might have union with God once again.  Like in the beginning. Like when it was good.

And here we are.  We are his beloved creation, made in His image.  We are the ones he wants union with.  Forever.  You were made by an eternal God who put a small piece of this story in your soul to want to be with him, too.   Allen Arnold, in The Story of With, writes, "Some stories offer a way to unplug from reality.  Yet the better stories usher us into a deeper reality.  These kinds of stories rip a seam in the atmosphere so that the unseen starts to become visible. Think of it as a portal that provides a glimpse of God and His Kingdom." 

The more we look for God, the more we will find him.  Look for him in your favorite stories.  Look for how he is beckoning you closer to him with it.  Ask yourself, "Why do I love this? What is it, Lord? What are you saying to my heart in this story?"

Here's a journal entry of mine from this type of examination into why I love Pride and Prejudice so much:
"I love how Mr. Darcy proves his love for Elizabeth.  He comes for her family, he changes his heart, he willingly forsakes his pride to show her all of this.  She puts aside her notion that he doesn't truly care.  She lets herself fall into his care.  She doesn't restrict her feelings for him anymore.  She lets him love her."

Do you see Jesus coming for my heart? I do. Whispering to me, "I have come for you.  I have left heaven and all its riches to save you from destitution.  Let yourself fall into my care- trust me.  Let yourself be fully loved by me.  Look around you, see all that I am doing to take care of you, to woo you."

Exhale. Ah. Thank you Jesus. 

Yet there is more still. More to the story.  See one day, God is going to make all things new.  Whatever the enemy has stolen, killed, or destroyed will be returned.  Tenfold.  There will be a new Heaven, and a new Earth. His Kingdom come. And we will finally have this eternal place in our heart satisfied, because we will literally be eternal, with God, forever.

At the end of Les Miserables, you feel the lyrics the entire cast is belting out:

"They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord.
We will walk behind the ploughshare;
We will put away the sword.
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward.
Will you join in our crusade?

Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!"

Why do you get goosebumps? Why does it stir emotion? It's God. And He's beckoning you to come, just as you are, into full union with Him.  Say yes.

*This content is based on the teachings of Stacy Eldridge at the Captivating retreat I attended in Colorado this October.  She, along with the other authors associated with Ransomed Heart Ministries, are integral to my understanding of God.  Please do your soul a favor and check them out*

Friday, November 17

There is More: Processing Anger, Control, and Stress in Motherhood

This post could be called many things.
"A day in the life of a stay at home mom trying to blog, bake cupcakes, and babysit"
"Is my three year actually possessed?"
"Why I'm bawling on the couch watching Moana"
"Being more not doing more"

But I picked "There is More: Processing Anger, Control, and Stress in Motherhood" because I want to process with you what is happening in my heart as all the other stuff is happening too.

There is more.
It's good to identify what you are believing or feeling. Anger, sadness, frustration with my job, etc. It's good to find scripture and feel hope that you can overcome.  It's good to share what you are feeling with your close circle of wholehearted friends and family.  But there is more.  I have been learning a sacred pause to ask God, "Why am I feeling this way?" "Why am believing this?" This morning, the Holy Spirit lead me in yet another gentle, sacred pause in something I have been feeling so much over the last few weeks.  This is not your story, but maybe my reflections will inspire your own reflections into the "more" God has for you.

I have been so angry with my kids.  I feel like they just do not listen.  I find myself yelling sooner, louder, and with more shame and berating in my words.  Like yesterday, when Nash began squirting his juice box onto the floor of the truck.  I went from 0-60 in less than a second.   ...   ...


I'm back.  My daughter was just irritating me, typing, interested in what I was doing, asking to play the Wild Kratts game she knows exists somewhere in this thing we call the laptop.  Sacred Pause (A term I've picked from John Eldridge). I sense the Father saying, "Later. Type this later." Rather than get angry with June for interrupting my creative process, I close the lid, and walk over to the living room.  The kids had been watching Moana for the 176th time this year.  My neck has been so out of whack this week-  I sense the need to lay down and rest it.  As the movie unfolds, a story I know has touched my heart many times, I see Te Ka in all her fury and think how much this relates to what I was just writing.  How many of us feel like Te Ka, when in reality, we have just lost our heart- we are really Te Fiti. I listen to the lines from the climax, and imagine the Father saying them to my angry, stressed out heart, in the midst of literally trying to process WHY:

I have crossed the horizon to find you Me, your Savior, I'm so glad I have found you, Daughter
I know your name Your my daughter, and I call you Harbor.  My Harbor
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you Daughter,
This is not who you are Your anger, it's not your heart
You know who you are You are my daughter.  Beloved. Remember who you are.

There is more.  I love how the Father interrupts my day to keep my identity in him.  ...  ...


I'm back. Again. Nash just ran off with a box of toothpicks and threw them all over the playroom floor. Pause. I remember our consequences chart. Instead of flying off the handle, I remember we've got a plan for consequences.  Jesus, okay, it's okay.  I can calmly address this.  Boy, this escalates quickly.  Nash steals two cupcakes while in timeout and runs downstairs.  He hits Logan. I keep following the consequences chart. Stick with it. 20 minutes laters, the ordeal is over.  Tears are wiped, apologies made, toothpicks picked up.  Toothpicks were picked up about 4 hours later. Whew.  I made it.  I think I just managed to stay WITH God in that.  

The above is the exception for me, not the rule.
But why? Well, I want to control them.  I want them to listen.  I want peace. A part of me, a part of all of us, seeks to control others and to control situations to avoid pain.  This is not a bad desire- to have a stress free, pain free life.  It's a desire born in our hearts from a good God.  It's a desire that makes us long for joy, it's a desire that exists in the part of our hearts that yearns for eternity in heaven. It's good.  But while we're on earth, it's not yet.  We cannot have a pain free life, and to demand that here and now is taking into my own hands that which God has promised in his time and in his way.  The same thing happened in the Garden with Adam and Eve.
Can I really conjure up peace by getting perfectly behaved children? If that were the case, I would never need God, and I would never have true peace.  It's a trap. I am learning to tell myself God, you are WITH me in the broken, pain-filled world.  I need you most at the times I am trying to write you out of the story.  As Lysa Terkhest wrote in Becoming I Am, "Every time I go to God and ask him to shed light on my situation, I'm trading a little of my struggle for his strength."

Why am I angry? A part of the answer is that biologically, I need to exercise to help my stress and anger.  And I haven't done that much lately.  Exercise in balance is caring for my soul.  Oh, I get it.  No big deal.  Exercise is a part of caring for my soul.  God just slipped in an answer to a 20 year struggle for me.  No big deal. Just a quick lesson from the Father for me.  For free.  When I'm not even trying to figure out that one. Man, He's a wild God. Exhale. Wow. Thanks Father.

Why do I want my kids to listen? It's up to me to raise them right.  To get them to show respect.  To become respecting, functioning adults. Really? Can I get them to respect me if I'm yelling at them?  If I don't show respect, how can I demand it? Am I really on my own in parenting? No! If I get them to obey to perfection, the end result is adults who live in a greater dysfunction of perfectionism.  Do I really want that? No! My thinking shows all these agreements that are not born from truth.

There is more.  More crazy things happened in my day of blogging, baking, and babysitting.  More crazy stuff will happen today.  But God moves more. There is more for you.  As author Allen Arnold writes, "Being comes before doing." (From The Story of With) Before you try tackling another book, bible study, project, parenting tacit, batch of cupcakes... stop and think about being more.  Giving more of you to more of God. Being rooted and ground in his love, being a fully trusted daughter or son of God, being loved beyond measure.  All that "doing" will be so much easier, joy-filled, and satisfying when we begin with God first.

Wednesday, October 11

My New Name

Life is a storm and we are at sea.
Sometimes we are the boat,
We cannot control the storm.
It beats us, relentlessly, unending;
Even the stars hide from those kind of storms.
Hope seems so distant,
Like a calm that will never come.

More often I feel like the water though.
A crash lingering at every crest-
Spraying, sloshing, internal control is elusive.
The enemy names me Tempest,
Telling me I have a temper and I bring the storm.

But Ho! What is this?
Someone, whether sleeping in the boat or walking on the water,
He calms my storms.
The storms around me and the storms inside me.
Either the waves stop or the boat sails safely into port.
You see this man, Jesus, he calls me Harbor.
I am not a Tempest, I am His Harbor,
Because of He who lives in me.

"A port of ships, a harbor"

Saturday, May 13

The Lord's Prayer- Aphesis Style

These words are paraphrases and sentences from material printed by Aphesis Group in the Untying the Knots of Your Heart class, which may be available in  your area.  This follows how Jesus taught his disciples to pray, with a thorough expansion on the depth of each statement. It's in first person, and my hope is you will use these words as a guide to your own daily prayer.

Our Father, who art in heaven.  I acknowledge that you are my true Father.  I picture myself as your child.  You are my kind, generous, emotionally involved, compassionate, loyal and affectionate Father, and you want the best for me, you delight in my company, you want me to be in heaven with you forever. You are intimately involved with my life.  You are the ultimate source of my reality, the definer of all my relationships.  Only you have the position to help me sort through reality and you are my source of rich emotional strength.  I smile as I imagine you as a Father.  (Picture in your mind a dad running to meet his child, a dad lifting his child in his arms, or another healthy image of the father-child relationship).  That's what you are like, Father.  and...
Hallowed be Your name. Your name, your character, works, and reputation are very special to me, above all other names.  I hold onto you, God, and your truth about who I am and what life is about, in higher regard than the family I grew up with or my current family relationships.  You have the exclusive right to tell me who I am and what I am worth.  Father, I value you above everyone else.  I trust you, massively respect you, and hold you in the highest regard.
Your Kingdom come.  Let your kingly authority be a reality for me in my daily living.  Let your kingly authority reign over me.  Let your authority as Ruler in heaven also be expressed in my daily experience on earth, therefore...
Your will be done. You are a good Father and King, and I am willing to accept your desires for my life.  I deeply trust you.  May your desire for my life, and for the people around me, and for your church, come to be.  As your desires are fulfilled in heaven, let them be fulfilled in my life here.  I am your daughter (or son) and I know you are a consistent, trustworthy, loving, affectionate, and caring Father.  Your yoke is easy and your burden is light.  You gave your only Son on my behalf.  You have my ultimate best in mind.  You will bring healing, character, and joy.  I know that your will for my life is not just about "to-do's". Your will deals with who I am, my character, and what is true of me, more than what I do.
Give us this day our daily bread.  You already know my needs before I ask, so I ask, Father, that you help me sort out what my needs really are.  My anxieties are often wrapped up in my view of what I have or don't have.  I know you care about my anxiousness, and I pray for peace as I sort out my needs with you.  Father, I'm worried about ______________. I have a specific request about ___________.  I thank you that you are bigger than my problems, and I genuinely trust you and allow your peace to settle into my heart.  I know you delight in the opportunity to reveal your presence through our prayers.  I know that as you answer these prayers, I won't see it as chance or coincidence, but I will see it as you at work in my life through prayer.
Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.  I pray you will enable me to sort out my daily relationships in light of how you have dealt with me.  I thank you for the forgiveness you have given me through the cross of Christ.  As your child, I am breathing in the air of forgiveness.  I specifically ask forgiveness for _______________.  I know that forgiveness is one of your highest values, and I pray that the truth of this would integrate into my own life.   I know you will enable me to deal with the chip on my shoulder due to unmet obligations in relationships. Help me forgive ____________ as you have forgiven me.   Help me sort through this issue and bring peace to my soul.  Help me actively extend to others the love and grace I have found in you.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  I ask, Father, to be rescued from Satan and his scheming.  I pray you would make me aware of where he is trying to convince me to doubt your desires and will for my life.  I know he will try to convince me you have no interest in my needs, try to cause divisions in relationships and in the church, and convince me that others are not worth forgiving.  He tries to tell me I am worthless and reminds me of my wrongdoing, trying to render me powerless spiritually.  He is directly battling me in the area of _________ and I ask to be strong in you and in the strength of your might. I pray that with other believers surrounding me, we would put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  I pray for righteous- to do what you say is right.  I pray for mental attentiveness on the Gospel- the good news of your love.  I immerse myself in your truth, the Word of God, and salvation- I know I am saved.  Give me alertness and perseverance to pray at all times in the Spirit,
For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen. You are sovereign! You are in charge! You rule with all power and authority! These truths are good news.  I trust in you and your ability to deal with my life issues.  You are more than capable to take care of those who want to bring me harm, including enemies of the darkness.  You are in a position to give me good counsel.  I need to sort out ______________ with you, and need you to help me deal with ______________.  I now pause, and listen for you to direct me as you will. __________________________________  I trust you, I love you.  I pray that as I trust you, I will have every variety of joy, peace, and hope.  I fully trust and fully realize that I am not alone.  With great joy, I know that you are very present and watching over me, caring about what I feel, think, and do.  You are a good Father and you are constantly here to help me sort through life's problems and share in my daily joys and burdens. Thank you.  Amen.

Sunday, May 7

What is "Leaky Gut," 11 Signs You Have It, and How PIE Can Help!

Leaky Gut has been a "hippy" conspiracy for a long time, but I get so excited when I find "breakthrough" research where the scientific community has come along and confirmed what hippies have said for a long time. Over 2000 years ago, the original hippy, Hippocrates, said, "All disease beings in the gut." But instead of using "Leaky Gut" in your Google searches (where many good, but less research-based articles are found), use words like "gut permeability" and "microbiome" and the results get VERY scientific, with clinical studies and proven lab experiments on mice, etc. and just plain PROOF that what we are talking about here is not a myth or for those just in the "crunchy" world.
So what is leaky gut? (or "gut permeability" if you want to sound really smart) Imagine your digestive track is like a long skinny balloon that carries and digests your food, and takes the good nutrients from your food and gets them to the rest of your organs for processing and distributing.
 Now imagine that instead of a balloon, your digestive track is more like one side of a pair of pantyhose.  While it still does its job OK, there are microscopic holes in the walls that leach out what is in your food into the rest of your body before it has been properly digested; bacteria, toxins, and heavy metals can leak out as well.  Your gut wall is designed to prevent these harmful microbes from entering your bloodstream.  When they do, it can wreak havoc on your body.

Here are some signs your health is being affected by Leaky Gut:
1. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Constipation, diarrhea, or other digestion problems
2. Seasonal allergies
3. Food sensitivities- dairy, gluten, etc.
4. Skin issues- eczema, dermatitis, etc.
5. Mental or hormonal imbalances- clinical anxiety, depression, ADHD/ADD, Chronic fatigue
6. Autoimmune Disease- Hashimoto's thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
7. Spectrum-like behaviors- Autism is complex, and is a genetic disorder, but leaky gut can promote the development of autism.
8. Chronic pain- back pain, joint pain, migraines, etc.
9. Weak immune system
10. Overweight/Obese
11. Cardiovascular Disease- This can also have genetic components, but treating the gut can help in so many way. Also this relates to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.

WHY? Each link embedded above goes into detail from people who are doctors (not me!).

WHAT can you do about it?  I suggest a PIE approach.  Imagine your overall health is a pie with several slices. Healthy eating is one slice of the pie, the most obvious piece, but that alone won't heal your gut.  Even with perfect food choices, you are still dealing with GMO food that your body just doesn't know what to do with, depleted soil conditions that rob even our good food of nutrients it normally gives, pollution and pesticides and antibiotic-ridden meat/dairy.  You can't control all these factors- it's impossible.

Now, warning, here's where I talk about Plexus Triplex. I hate hype, but I hate leaky gut more.  I now have a huge piece of pie label "Plexus" because this information has CHANGED MY LIFE.  So hear me out.  We NEED to fill in the gaps of healthy eating with pre/probiotics, enzymes, and nutrients/minerals we just aren't getting from food as much as we used to or need to.  Our guts need help. THIS is help you need.  You can message me about the three products in the Triplex regimen, and I will give you the detailed ingredient list so you can do you own research. The three products in the Triplex are: 1- Slim (the pink drink)- contains a prebiotic, helps your gut work efficiently by balancing blood sugar (and avoid cravings for sugary foods to help yourself meet your goals for the "eat healthy foods" piece of the pie), has an anti-inflammatory ingredient, and more. 2- ProBio 5- a powerful probiotic with enzymes and an anti-fungal to restore your healthy bacteria and break down bad organisms like yeast. 3- BioCleanse- this helps detox and eliminate the bad organisms that the ProBio5 has broken down and oxygenate your gut to create an environment that is more resistant to disease. Empower yourself and your gut with information and then buy it risk free, with a 60 day money back guarantee.  You will NOT regret adding this slice to your pie.   I am an official Plexus Ambassador now, and I'm not ashamed to sell these products, even though it is a Multi-Level-Marketing company (this hippy cringes at most MLMs).  I don't want to be another MLM salesman on Facebook, but I do want to spread the word about how to help heal the root cause of all these symptoms.

We all may vary a little with our PIES, but here's mine.

What's up with the Untying the Knots/Counseling piece? Thanks for asking.
You can make changes, take the best supplements, exercise, etc, but without God, you will not have the inner peace and health you desire.  You may run to food or even exercise to cope with pain, discomfort, or bitterness.  You may make food choices based on your family background and what is normal for you is not healthy.  You may have spiritual warfare going on.  We all need help untangling the WHY behind our food choices and without a clear-eyed, whole-hearted counselor, mentor, or a class like Untying the Knots of Your Heart, a huge piece of your pie is missing. Basically, God holds my whole pie.  He's the pan and crust you cannot see, but without Him, there would be no pie at all.

The "Imperfection" and "Stuff I don't know about" slices are because this is a HUMBLE pie.  I don't know everything, and my diet and healthy choices are far from perfect.  I'm not aiming for perfection, so a slice of my pie is imperfection.  We will never have perfect health, and I've had to get over the illusion of control that my perfect pie will lead to perfect health and happiness.

So there you have it, Leaky Gut and how PIE can help.