Monday, July 23, 2012

Everyday Thanksgiving

It is a shame to say that it often takes a tragedy for people to focus on what is truly important in life. The moviehouse mass- shooting in Colorado has done just that for this country. It reminds me a lot of September 11, 2001, when innocent lives were stolen at the hands of pure evil. No one can explain or comprehend the mind of an individual capable of such unspeakable acts. How could someone storm the cockpit of a plane and crash it into a huge building? How could a man walk into a packed movie theater and just starting shooting a gun at anything or anyone? The terror and horror of these events leave everyone shaken - even if the bloodshed doesn't hit directly at the bond of your family or even the community in which you live. When your country comes under attack, be it from a young med school drop -out or foreign terrorist, you take pause. Everyone, it seems, in America has done just that this week. Every news station is playing non-stop footage, udpates, heroic stories and tributes to those lost. The political banter of a country on election high-alert has taken a step away from the polls and party rhetoric. For the past three days I can't even recall seeing a negative campaign ad - a real testament to the mood of the country. The media is focusing all eyes on reflection, not demonization. In a way it is a sad statement of our country's basic rule of law. We are all negative, all the time until someone (or many someones) get hurt. It takes a tragedy to shut down the yelling, arguing and condeming of the opposing side. How often do you hear a news story during a slow week that focuses on the human goodness of the people in a small town in Colorado? Oh, maybe there is a thirty second "Around the Nation" segment on the national news that features a Grandpa saving his Grandsons life in a fire, but the other 59 minutes and 30 seconds of the program are probably about a child abductor, murderer, lawsuit on capitol hill or missing person's case then any uplifting tale of the heroic. We don't hear about the good when we turn on the TV unless something truly horrible happened first. Our TV has blinders on. The kind of blinders that block out the good and focus on the bad. It is an insidious problemn that threatens to consume not only hundreds of channels on the tube, but far too much of our brain's thoughts. Think about it - how much time do we spend in a day focusing on what we condemn as"not right"? We focus on our problems, what we are annoyed with, how that driver just cut us off, the part of the movie we didn't like.... the list could go on. Conversation seems to often build off of the negative, not the positive. Thinking over my own conversations in the past few days I have become appalled at my own lack of optimistic chatter. I'm begining to see that I start conversations from the negative: I didn't like that part of the sermon; why did that person have to say that with such an attitude; could this lane move any slower? You get my point. I'm not starting with: I really enjoyed that story the speaker told; It was so nice of that man to let me out in this heavy traffic; I enjoyed this sandwich on my plate at lunch! It may all seem silly but I'm beginning to believe that where we focus our conversation is a massive window into our thought life. And there is no denying that our thought life is important. It paints the world in a shade of gray or a million bright and shiny colors. Watching the sudden shift in the news is leading me to believe I need a massive shift in the scroll that runs along my mind. Just like the one rolling across Fox News or CNN, my mind has a news reel and it plays pretty much 24/7. You have one too - even if it does take a commercial break every now and again. What is playing on your news scroll? Is it a list of blessings and moments of thanksgiving and praise? Or is it a list of what you need to get done,  ofstressful situations and complaints? Trust me, to- do lists are helpful, but there are other places to write them down. When we include the stressors in life as our daily mental dialogue we get bogged down and negativity gets a foothold. On the other hand, when we focus on the gifts God has given us, the blessings he bestows on us each and every day, and the beauty that surrounds us we can't help but exude positivity. It flows from us because when good thoughts rule in the mind, the body can't help but follow suit. It is a shame that it takes lives lost to remind us that we have so much to be thankful for. Our world zooms in on the petty disagreements and negative stressors until something serious happens that stops us in our tracks... it is in those moments that we see our day- in and day- out complaints as mere specks of dust. We see them for what they really are. And we see how there are bigger matters worth discussing. We see that each day is a gift and a precious one at that. Whining and bickering becomes foolishness in the light of bloodshed. Today, I am making the vow to focus on the positive without the prompting of a young innocent life lost. I am making the concerted effort to tune into how God is working and showing himself in the world around me, instead of focusing on the evil that is attempting to get the upper hand. Each day we have the choice: will we look at life through God's lens and see beauty as his handiwork and kindness as his smile? Or will we only see the rude man in front of us at the store or the landfill off in the distance? This isn't about being naive or blind, it is about choosing to switch our moment to moment focus from the bad, which we cannot change, to the good that we should be thankful for. Changing our focus can change our world, even if the actions of those around us remain the exact same. The view out one window in the kitchen is different from the window in the living room, even though it looks out on the same city, same neighborhood and same world. Yet, the lens you use to view it makes all the difference. So, how will you view the world? Sure, today you may be all about being thankful for your family and your safety and your job - after all the last tragedy was only a few days prior. But how will you view your world in a week or two when the news has turned its attentions back to the election or latest uprising in the Middle East? When the human interest stories fade, will your thoughts of love and gratitude slip away, too? Decide to live a life of thanksgiving and it won't take a tragedy to remind your how precious and marvelous life truly is.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Plight of the Plumpkin

Healthy food is one of my passions. I love to read about it, eat it, shop for it - you get the point. I'm a health nut. White sugar hasn't passed my lips in well over a year. I don't condemn the sugar lovers, I just don't enjoy it myself. I love whole foods, straight from the ground if possible. The less fooled around with, the better.
Today the weather was less then summer perfection. It rained non-stop and barely hit 70 degrees. Pippy and I were stuck inside, longing to get out and move around. I was getting fidgety, stuck inside just wishing it was bright and sunny. I was longing for a bike ride. When the rain wouldn't stop I knew I had to do something with my energy. So, what to do on a rainy day? Well, bake of course - for my dog.
Pippy isn't much of a food lover. "Beggin' Strips" commercials would have you believe that every dog is a mouth watering machine that is always on call for the scent of bacon and a lit grill. Not my dog. Burgers have been grilled in her presence and she has barely glanced in the general direction of the lingering aroma of beef and melted cheese. Steaks have grilled to perfection and she has paid them no mind. She isn't food driven. I think she would live off of air if that was an option. Yet, my Mom bought me a recipe book for dog treats and I wanted to put it to good use. So, off to the store I went to pick up an array of flours that I didn't have on hand.
I settled on creating "Plumpkins", a pumpkin and spice cookie. Pumpkin is nutritious, yummy and smells delicious. What dog wouldn't want to snack on that?
My dog.
I mixed up the recipe with extra care, double checking my measurements and ingredient list. I set a timer to foolproof no burning of my little pumpkin treats. I wanted perfect Plumpkins!
And the result?
Cardboard. Round cardboard.
I was hoping they would taste better then they looked. After allowing them to cool, as directed by the recipe, I attempted to feed one to Pippy.
You can guess where this is going. She took one look at the cookie, then at me, then walked away. I wasn't giving up that easily. I followed her. I baked for her! Darn it, I want her to try it. Show a little appreciation for the effort at least. Finally, she put a little in her mouth. Then procedded to spit it out on the floor.
Well, there you have it. The cookies were an utter failure. 24 uneaten Plumpkins prove it.

The uneaten Plumpkin:

If she weren't so cute I might be annoyed with my wasted efforts. But it's the thought that counts, right?

It finally stopped raining and Pippy and I were able to get out for a walk. As we walked toward the door Pippy spotted a fly trying to break free from the house. This immediately caught her attention. She watched as that little guy buzzed around, taunting her with his high pitched sound and fluttery wings. But he was at eye level and Pippy was suddenly hungry. She reached her paw out, pulled the fly to the ground with ninja like precision and ate that little sucker. Maybe I should have made fly cookies.

The cookies may have been a bust but at least I was able to make myself a tasty treat. This was better than Starbucks - and cheaper too!

Coffee Banana Protein Delight
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup medium roast coffee
1/2 banana
ice cube chunks

1) Combine it all in a blender till it is a frappuccino consistency.
2) Enjoy :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"BIG" Salad - Summer Style

I'm a Seinfeld junkie. I've seen every episode too many times to count. And if I could count them I wouldn't admit it anyway - too embarrassing. You would wonder what else I do with my life...or better yet if I have a life! My defense is that Seinfeld has been around a long time, giving me many years of viewing pleasure, which adds up to a lot of laughs. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
If you know Seinfeld, or are a junkie yourself, you know about "the big salad." Elaine loves it. George bought her one once. She didn't give him credit. It was another half an hour that won't sound funny if I try to explain it but is truly hilarious, trust me.
This is my ode to the Big Salad with a summer twist.

The "Big" Salad - Summer Style

Mix of greens - I used spinach, arugula, and field greens 
Chopped red onion
Sliced yellow summer squash and zucchini
Large tomato (local summer tomatoes can't be beat!)
Thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup shredded chicken (I used poached chicken that I had prepared earlier in the day.)
Cubbed sweet potato - about 1/2 cup or a small sweet potato
Garlic powder
S&P to taste
Olive oil
Apple cider vinegar

1) Heat grill to medium-high heat.
2) Get your base of the salad prepared - mix greens, onion, squash, zucchini and tomato
3) Choose a small skillet and heat on grill (I used cast iron - I like the camp fire taste it gives food). Add olive oil. Once the skillet is hot add the sweet potato chunks. Allow to brown a few minutes before flipping, closing the grill in the meantime.
4) After about five minutes add spices and scallions.
5) Continue to look for about 3 to 5 minutes. Check on the sweet potatoes, if they appear to be really dry add about a 1/4 cup water. This will help them cook through without drying out on the outside. You can then keep cooking them until they are easily pierced with a fork but not mush (about 3 to 5 minutes longer).
6) While the sweet potato cooks add dressing to salad - I made a mix of ACV, pepper, olive oil and lemon. Top salad with shredded chicken. Remove sweet potatoes and add to salad.
7) Last, but certainly not least, turn on some Seinfeld. That is a must!

Summer at its best

Yesterday the temperature soared and the humidity made ridiculous amounts of sweat inevitable. Good thing humans are washable. Despite that heat I couldn't help but break out my bike and head to the peninsula. With each day I am regaining more of my health, and my desire to get out there and enjoy it is too much to contain!

But first Pippy and I hit the open road with the convertible top down, breeze blowing our hair/fur. Pip had a salon date. Her unruly hair (and nails) were in desperate need of some TLC.

As you can see, girls just want to have fun.

The haircut was a success. She's ready to handle the heat in style!

After dropping off the Pipster I replaced her with my bicycle. I drive a VW Beetle and don't own a bike rack. Need I say more? Let's just say I had to get creative. 

The Peninsula was beautiful.

My day was a reminder to "bloom where you're planted." As I drove with Pippy I saw it in her face. She was loving life as it was in that very moment. The wind was blowing her to bits; her ears were in her eyes, looking more like bangs and less like hearing appendages. But none of that bothered her. If she could, I'm pretty sure she would have been whooping and hollering like a kid on a roller coaster. Can you imagine that? Youtube probably already has a video of it.
At the beach I had a second reminder when I surveyed the glorious creation around me. I don't need to travel to some exotic location or be a world traveler. If I never make it to Europe the sky won't come crashing down around me. I have been given the gift of a beautiful world, right here and right now. And so have you because you were born into a magnificent creation hand crafted by God himself.
Go outside and enjoy it!


I can read certain passages of scripture over and over and find something new each time. This is an amazing characteristic of the Bible. God doesn't reveal everything at once, he keeps drawing us back to the same words - showing us a little bit more of their meaning each time we read them. Today it was the story of Saul that struck me.
Saul was on the road to Damascus to continue in his persecution of Christians, as was his modus operandi in life. It was along this very road that God stepped in and blinded him, bringing him to his knees physically and spiritually. He had to be physically led the rest of the way to the city where he awaited further instruction. Talk about turning tables. He went from jailing Christians to being at the mercy of the God those very people worshiped.
But God wasn't going to keep him in the dark forever. He had a plan to use Saul and he had a man in mind to help carry out that plan. God called on Ananias - a disciple in Damascus. He told him to go and restore Saul's sight. Can you imagine being handed that job? Go to the man who was coming to persecute you and your fellow Christians and give him back his eye sight so that he can do what? Jail you? I had never thought before about the incredible faith of Ananias. This wasn't healing a sick little boy who, by all appearances, was innocent and naive. This was a man who was known for his hatred and disgust for people just like Ananias. His life mission was to squelch the name of Jesus.
Ananias knows all about Saul and he says that much to God - as if God might have overlooked this little detail. But God is all knowing and he knew why Saul was on that road and what the inital plan had been. But God was changing Saul's plans. He told Ananias to go and, as an obedient child of God, Ananias did as he was told.
Saul was the most unlikely of tools to be used by God to further his kingdom. He had mocked God and the people who put their faith in him. Now, God was going to use him to carry the gospel throughout the world. He penned 14 of the books of the New Testament. The books that we rely on today for guidance, teaching and insight are the very books Paul wrote. All this from a man who put Christians in jail.
God uses the most unlikely candidates to fulfill his purposes. He chooses the unassuming, unique, and unexpected to accomplish great things for his kingdom's sake.
In this world we often fall into the trap of believing life will take a certain path because that is what makes sense. We look for answers that we can understand. We seek tactics that we can comprehend and "grasp." But God isn't that limited. His ways defy logic. Our feeble human understanding can't even begin to see all the possibilities God has in his play book.
We have a flimsy little brochure, God has the New York Library. It is that stunning of a contrast.
There are times when we will all slip up and start seeing things through our own scope, neglecting to acknowledge that God often works in much more interesting and magnificent ways. The key to our walk with God isn't never thinking, "God, this doesn't make sense to me." The key is saying, "God, this doesn't make sense. But if you want me to go forward I will." The key is taking steps in faith, just as Ananias did in the city of Damascus. He didn't hide from God his feelings of concern - he couldn't have hidden them even if his heart was set on it. Instead he was open and upfront with God. He told him his reservations about going to a man infamous for standing in opposition to God. Yet, when God told him to go anyway, he listened.
There was no way Ananias could have known all God had planned for Saul, soon to be Paul. And so it is with us. God might be asking us to take a step of faith that looks foolish, silly, or nonsensical from our perspective. We can't see the future, we can't see how God will fit this into a greater plan. But, just as Ananias shows us, when we walk by faith we can be a part of a magnificent tapestry that will defy our limited vision.
Ananias was given the wonderful gift of playing a part in the journey of a great apostle who would write books that have led countless people to faith and grown the kingdom of Christ in remarkable ways. What part will you play? What part will I play? It may not be what we expect. The rest of the world may laugh at us, mock us, or call us just plain crazy. But pay no mind. God has a greater plan and it will only be revealed if we take our first step in faith: obey.

Monday, July 16, 2012

My Good Father

I never ceased to be amazed by God's divine plan and ultimate goodness. Despite not always understanding his ways, I get to be blessed by them. Even though my faith is that of a mustard seed, it moves mountains. Isn't God fabulous? He is so almighty and powerful yet he takes care of mere humans that are prone to wander and inherently weak.
This morning as I read my devotional and dove into Matthew 7, I was touched by the way God has taken care of me and brought me through my time of struggle and trial. Although I am still on the journey of recovery the battle is already won. For months the fight raged on. My body was living proof. But the battle belonged to the Lord and, in his time, he showed his power. He promised to take care of me. Like Matthew chapter 7 tells us, he is the best father who knows how to give good things to his children. Being the best means knowing not just what to give but when to give it. For whatever reason (maybe one I won't know until I meet Jesus face to face) the plan was for me to struggle with my health for years. That wasn't what I had in mind for my life, but God knows best. He took care of me and he has brought me to the other side of a very tumultuous path, the raging river that threatened to carry me under its waters. But God was unfailingly faithful.
As I read on in chapter 7 I was struck by something else. After telling his followers that God knows best and how he will take care of us, he goes on to discuss fruit. No, not apples and oranges - although I do like to believe Jesus ate apples. He told us that we, as Christ's children, are to bear good fruit in our lives - aka evidence of the goodness he just told us about a few minutes ago. We are blessed with an amazing father, and we are to be changed because of that relationship. If nothing in our lives reflects our heavenly father then we should probably do some checking in on the quality of that relationship.
Am I producing good fruit? Does my life reflect the wonderful God I serve, the God who dwells in me, takes care of my every need and guides my life? It is a humbling question to ask oneself. If I want to get honest with myself then I must admit I am falling way short. God wants me to not just be a nice person, he wants me to actually DO THINGS for him to further his kingdom. For each person that means something unique. What does it mean for me? What is it God wants me to be doing for him today?
I know the answer might not be what I expect - I'm used to that by now. It may not be earth shattering. In fact, it probably will be something small; a baby step in fruit production. But that is how fruit starts. A gorgeous local tomato didn't pop out one day as the bright red, beaming beauty we see at the farmer's stand. It started out as a tiny little green ball. It took time, water, love, attention, care and massive amounts of patience to grow it into the delicious vegetable that marks the peak of the summer food season. Even when that tomato was just a baby it was good "fruit", but it wasn't time to pick it yet. It had to be cultivated. That is how it is with us. When we follow Christ we start out as mere infants in need of some serious attention. We get that by being pruned through trials and struggles so that our fruit may increase.
My life has been drastically blessed and I want to produce drastic fruit for the Lord. I want to produce the best of tomatoes. My prayer this morning was for God to show me a way to serve him today - some way to show good fruit. When we ask, he promises to listen and answer his children. I know he heard me and I know he will open doors of opportunity to display wonderful fruits for his glory.

The oven buzzed - preheat complete. Time to start on this mornings cooking adventure.

Baked Egg Goodness (Thank you .... I'm in love with this woman's blog! - no joke, it is an obsession.)

I modified mine slightly by omiting the flour and cream. I used one whole egg and one egg white all in the same ramekin. Baked at 350 for 8 minutes and then broiled for another 4 minutes.

All I have to say is....yum.

Served up with a slice of toast, fresh cut fruit and a hot cup of coffee. What could be better?
Another reminder of God's goodness: he restored my appetite. Hallelujah and praise the Lord! Each bite reminds me how incredibly blessed I am and what a gift I have been given. Appetite restoration is a beautiful thing :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Welcome Back

I sat in the drive through line at McDonalds; barely comprehending the truth of where I was and what I was about to purchase. Am I really about to support this fake food empire? Are the $3.92 that were once in my bank account now going to be in the hands of fast food industry that I find repulsive? Yes and yes. When my nephew, Ricky, asked for lunch and I said sure I didn't say "sure, if it isn't McDonalds." And so when his request for a double cheeseburger, medium fry and sweet tea came about I had no place to go but 26th street to fulfill his desires. As we sat in the drive thru line the smell of grease, oil and hamburger patties saturated the car and stung my nostrils. The fact that this food is beloved in this country baffles me. I know I used to once eat it, and I can understand teens and children falling in love with cheap food and Ronald McDonald. But the fact that grown adults who, by all measures, appear to be intelligent, still devour the grease laden meals is beyond my comprehension. Don't we know enough about health and wellness to know this food is destructive and an assult on our bodies? I must admit I know that I am an extreme case of eating healthy. For months on end I lived off of Panera Bread, sweet potatoes, apples and eggs. I ate the same thing on repeat day after day, week after week, month after month. Who could blame me? I had no appetite. Most food looked downright unappealing - and most still does although now it is because most of what we eat in this country is unhealthy. Healthy foods, even those I didn't touch for months, are starting to look good to me again. I went almost a year without a sandwich; not because sandwiches are corrupt and evil but because they looked unappetizing to me. Now sandwiches look fabulous. In fact, I'm digging sandwiches. Yesterday I had a breakfast sandwiches at Panera Bread at 7:00 am. Yes, you heard me right. I woke up, threw on a pair of pants and drove to Panera Bread to get breakfast. And it was delicious. This afternoon I ventured into panini making at home. It wasn't the greatest but the flavor was good and I learned some "what not to do" tips for next time. The combination of mustard, artichoke, turkey and tomatoe was delicious. One worth repeating for sure. After my home made cafe lunch I had the hankering to keep exploring more options. For so long I have stayed away from all sorts of foods. For over a year not a bit of gluten passed my lips. Doctors had told me I had an allergy or Celiac disease - something that made gluten off limits. I heeded the advice with strict do-diligence. I've also stayed away from all things dairy except yogurt. I love my yogurt but other dairy never settled right in my stomach I'm not sure if that is still true or not, I haven't wanted to test it out. The last dairy product I had - a coffee ice cream cone - made me feel violently ill afterwards. Since then I've taken the better safe than sorry approach. That was over one year ago. Since then not a single ice cream, brownie, cookie, cake or other "treat" has passed my lips. Today I decided to change that. I had purchased some frozen greek yogurt bars the other day at the Whole Foods Co-Op. When I bought them I was feeling the need to introduce new foods, and once again gain an appreciation for things that I had sworn out of my diet. Nothing crazy. Ben and Jerry's is a bit too unrealistic. That would be like asking a vegan to a pig roast. But a frozen greek yogurt bar is reasonable, and not too unhealthy either! These little bars have 6 grams of protein, 70 calories and only 12 grams of sugar! Plus no corn syrup or other mystery ingredient that someone formed in a chemical lab and sent off in a test tube to be labeled as "all-natural". These bars looked pretty good. So I bought them. And there they sat in my freezer for one week, and then two. Until today when I decided I was ready to venture into the world of healthier frozen treats. And you want to know what? I enjoyed it. I enjoyed every single bite of that raspberry frozen greek yogurt bar. What I'm realizing is that my appetite is coming back. Slowly but surely foods that once didn't even catch my eye are now in my fridge. Some of them I haven't eaten yet, like the cinnamon pecan cereal, but others have become part of my diet like the organic turkey breast slices. I hadn't consumed or even entertained the idea of consuming foods like that for over a year. To be eating them now is a step is a good direction. There were days I never thought food would look good to me again. I wondered what had happened to my taste buds and worried that they would be stuck that way forever. Thankfully, the lack of appetite was temorary. There is hope in the return of tastebuds. If their absense was temporary what else is temporary? Low weight? Poor digestion? Extreme fatigue? My body isn't going to stay this way forever. This has been a time in my life but isn't me and my existence. It will pass, the weight will come back and I will be my active, vibrant self again. My tastebuds are just one little piece of evidence to prove it. In the drive through line at McDonalds I realized how different the way I eat is from the rest of the world and from my old self and I'm okay with that. Ricky shook his head, "I can't believe you never eat anything like an ice cream cone." I nodded in agreement. I'm an enigma. Even though the appetite is returning a lot of foods still don't do anything for me. I don't crave ice cream cones. Bad experiences have left a bad taste in my mouth - literally. But I am expanding and venturing into territory that I didn't know I was missing out on. You never know the things you should be thankful for until they're gone - like an appetite for one. Until this health crisis I never thought about my appetite exactly. I just took it for granted. I knew I loved food and never considered that I could lose that love. My passion for food and ability to eat could have won good eater awards - oh, wait, it did. My first boyfriend gave me one as a joke. What can I say? I was a girl who really, really liked to eat! Then that all went away. I didn't want anything beyond the few life sustaining foods I ate in abundance. The tides of food choice are once again changing. I'm enjoying more of the foods God gave. He provided such a vast array of options, colors, tastes and textures for our enjoyment. Incorporating those foods into my life and new ways to use them is a welcome change that I want to embrace. And I'm eating treats again. Make fun of me if you will because I know this all sounds silly to people who are used to spending their money on fast food and ice cream but to someone like me this is a step in the right direction. One small frozen greek yogurt bar, one huge step for Stephanie Rice.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Two Words

How do you know if God has spoken to you or if it is just your imagination, playing tricks on you? I've pondered this question more times then I can guess and still I am left without a solid answer. Quite frankly, I don't know if there is a clear cut answer this side of heaven. It is an issue of faith, not so much of fact if you ask me. If you are walking by faith and truly seeking God's direction while living within His will, He will give you confirmation. Maybe for some people that confirmation comes in the form of an audible voice or even a burning bush. For most, this probably isn't God's go-to mode of communication. I'd venture to guess that most hear from Him in the stillness of a peace that surpasses understanding, "coicidece" that is really God's divine handiwork of circumstances and the wisdom and guidance of other Christian counsel. If I had to guess, I'd say these communication modalities are more common. Maybe my perception is skewed by my own experiences. Recently I've had a word from God - actually two "words" from God. They both came when I was alone and they didn't come from a big booming voice that shook the earth around me. They didn't make an audible sound. Instead, it came in a still silence. It was an overwhelming feeling, not a structured sentence of vowels, nouns and adjectives. My first word came while I was in Florida about two weeks ago. I don't remember what I was doing that day or how I was feeling but I do remember where I was standing. I was walking into my apartment when I got the overwhelming reassurance that I am going to be healed. As to when or how it will come about wasn't revealed to me. Just the simple reassurance that healing will come was enough. I think I let out an audible sigh of relief. Healing. That is such a wonderful and hopeful word. I don't know when it will come. God still hasn't revealed that. Despite the vague nature of the message it was and still is more then enough. Some people never receieve a word from God and others want a whole paragraph. I am thankful for the simple sneek peak of what is to come. Maybe it won't come for years or maybe it will come today. If God wanted me to know He would have let me know already. As for now, I am resting in His promises of never forsaking His children and His personal message He sent to me. The second word came today, right in the car while I was driving along 38th Street in Erie. This word came out of the clear blue - especially given the way I have been feeling the past few days. To provide some background, the past two days have been physically rough to say the very least. Tuesday started out just fine, as fine as I am these days but that went by the waisteside by the evening. My digestive system went on the fritz and my body couldn't keep food in. Not to be too graphic, but I spent a nice portion of my day running to the bathroom. Then came Wednesday, and if I thought Tuesday was bad I was sorely mistaken. Wednesday showed me how bad diarreah can get. At one point I was seeing stars. Obviously, this wasn't your typical "I ate a bad hamburger" sickness. This was severe and exhausting. I celebrated our nation's birthday by laying on the couch and bolting to the bathroom. You know, a typical Independence Day shin-dig. I know how to do it up right. So, needless to say the past few days have been trying which is what makes today's word so astonishing. As I drove along all the sudden I had the message that I am gaining weight. Ah, what? Last I checked I just lost all contents in my digestive tract plus every bite of food I put in yesterday and the day before. How could I possibly be putting on weight? Wouldn't I have just lost the weight of all that? Isn't that what women go get colonics for - a quick shedding of 5 unwanted pounds of toxic waste? Yet, the message wasn't fuzzy and I am quite confident that the lines weren't crossed giving me a message meant for some other underweight sufferer. This little correspondence had my name on it. It was sign, sealed and deliver especially for Stephanie Rice. I, all 70 some pounds of me (I haven't weighed myself in a while), is gaining WEIGHT. He didn't send along "will gain weight", "may gain weight", or "wants to gain weight". He send along "IS GAINING WEIGHT"! WOAH! And halleluljah! This is the mother of all messages. This is THE message I have been waiting to receive. This is my equivelant to a teenage girl sitting by the phone with sweaty palms as she waits for her 8 year long crush to call and ask her to prom like all her friends are saying he will. This is the dad waiting in the delivery room while his wife gives birth to a baby that's gender is still a surprise. This is a military wife waiting in the airport baggage claim for her husband that has been deployed for six months. This word surprises and thrills me. I didn't expect it. I've been confident that some day I will gain weight but I never dreamt that God would give me an assurance that it was happening at a particular time. I assummed it would start to happen and the scale would be my heads up that the pounds were coming back. But this is a far better way to find out. This beats the scale without a shadow of a doubt. In fact, I can't dream up a better way to find out about healing then from the master of healing himself. I am gaining weight. I have no words to describe the overwhelming emotions I get when I read, write or think about that sentence. It is more then I can take in. It practically brings me to tears. The battle belongs to the Lord. It always has. Even when my weight was plummeting and my emotions were running dry, the battle was his to fight. He carried the swords and marched to the front lines. At moments I have grown weary from the sadness that Satan wants me to give into. The devil wants to kill and destroy. He wants to sap my joy and rob me of my faith. Yet, God is faithful. When I call on Him, He answers. It is as simple as that. In the depths of the darkest points in the battle, he cares enough for me to comfort my emotional struggles. He doesn't forget about my needs in the midst of the waging war. He takes care of it all. Satan has been on the attack. For months I didn't understand that my battle was not against the scale or my digestive tract, but against the devil himself. When I was able to see this trial for what it truly is things started to change. Before I was looking to myself for answers. Googling medical conditions, looking for any and all doctors, undergoing medical testing and breaking down all the while. But now things are different. Don't get me wrong, some days I'm still overcome by sadness. I have cried and broken down as recently as yesterday afternoon. But these waves are shorter and not all consuming. Even through my tears I can see God's hand on me. As I said yesterday, I haven't lost patience and I certainly am not wavering in faith - I'm just a little sad. The emotional toll of watching the world celebrate and enjoy life when you are physically unable to join in. Yet, that is temporary. God assures us of that. Even if your healing never comes on this earth, you are given the promise of an abudent, glorious life in heaven. Maybe your message from God is "wait, your healing will come." And maybe it doesn't seem that it is ever going to get here. You wait and wait, and still things don't change. This life is a blink of an eye. Healing will come. If not now, then it will when you meet God face to face. And there you will enjoy perfection forever.