Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hang On - A Maple Leaf Story

Yesterday I awoke tangled in a web of emotional upset and inescapable stomach pain. I was on the edge of a break down and I knew it. I did my best to soften the crash but my attempts were futile. The physical distress caused by my latest round of Lyme treatments hit me with such a powerful force, ravaging my gut so severely, my emotional stability didn't stand a chance.
After a morning spent in fits of anger and tears, I found myself behind the wheel of my car eager to drive away from my pain. I knew I wouldn't find relief on the road but I was desperate so before I put the car in drive, I put my head on the steering wheel and prayed.
What proceeded from my mouth was far from eloquent but it was sincere. First I begged God to relieve my stomach's pain. "Right here, right now, God. Touch me and make me well!" I petitioned for a miraculous, instantaneous healing and then I paused, waiting for Him to act.
When I didn't feel a hand or hear a rumble of thunder I went back to my prayer. Picking up where I'd left off I proceeded to plead with God. "If you won't heal me, at least give me a sign! God, give me hope!"
This time I didn't pause to hear God's response and I didn't linger in His silence. I lifted my head and put the car in drive. When I opened my eyes I noticed something stuck to the windshield of my car. It was a little yellow maple tree leaf.
The leaf was all alone, the only remnant of fall stuck to the glass, and it was perfectly positioned in the center of my line of vision. As I began to accelerate the car's engine I expected the fragile leaf to blow away in the wind. There was no storm or rain to pound the leaf into the glass. Nothing held the leaf yet it didn't budge. Even when I I sped up and slowed down the hardy little leaf stayed stuck.
And that's when I saw it. That little leaf was my sign. That little leaf was me!
Filled with hope, I threw my car into park at the first red light, jumped out of my seat and grabbed the leaf off of my windshield and put it on my dashboard as a keepsake of God's promises. The leaf would be my covenant of God's healing, reassuring me that He would keep me secure and deliver my body from anguish. In the leaf God reminded me to, "Hang on. Your healing is imminent." 
For the rest of the day my heart held the message of the leaf long after I held it in my hand. Even when hours passed without any change in my physical condition I refused to release the hope I received in the maple leaf. When evening came and a miraculous change didn't transpire, I reclaimed God's promise and went to sleep full of hope, convinced renewed restoration and alleviated pain would come in the morning.
But then morning came and my gut dealt my spirit a most devastating blow. The excruciating pain announced that my healing hadn't been delivered.
Hopeless and crushed I called out to God. "Why have you abandoned me?...Why have you left me in this debilitating condition?..."
Without healing, my heart turned hard. I couldn't even bring myself to ask for a sign. 
Hours passed in tears and anger and I didn't remember the little yellow leaf or God's promises. I didn't want to remember. I felt too abandoned, neglected and doomed to let my mind hope for healing or claim restoration.
It was hours later when, without a petition or pathetic prayer, God delivered His sign with a mysterious and miraculous crash. 
A display case slid off a nearby table and fell to the ground, scattering a stack of papers across the floor. For a moment I hesitated, too defeated to clean up the mess. But then a little voice inside my head called out and insisted I rise up and help clean up.
And that's when I saw it. My sign. 
It was the only paper of its kind in the whole stack and it was laying on top, glowing in golden hues. Printed on the special paper was a design of little yellow maple leaves. I picked it up and held it in my hand, overwhelmed by awe and wonder. This paper featured the very same shape, size and color of the maple leaf I had found stuck to the windshield of my car. The message it delivered was the very same too.
"I have no abandoned you. Hang on. I am doing a new thing. Your healing is STILL imminent." 
Hours have passed since I found that paper and I still have it in my pocket and, although I still have the pain in my stomach, more powerful than the pain is God's promise of hope I have in my heart.
The promises of God endure no matter the evidence of healing or the state of my physical condition. In the maple leaf God has reassured me that no matter what my circumstances or what trials befall my body or soul, He will not abandon me. He will remain forever true to His word. He will never cease His work of healing, renewing and making all things new.
Come what may, my hope is in God's truth and my health is in His hands so I will hang on and cling to His promises because I know the Lord my God is doing a new thing in me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Trot or no Trot


It was Thanksgiving 2013 and it was cold, especially down along the lake, which is where I found myself at 8:00 am that morning. I was signed up to run the annual Turkey Trot, a 5K that gathers hundreds of runners together each Thanksgiving morning. Some runners were dressed as turkeys and pilgrims. I even saw a few dogs take part in the festivities.
I remember taking my place among the 9 minute mile group. It was an accomplishment to be standing anywhere in the lineup, especially given my health history. In 2013 I was three years into inexplicable symptoms that had relapsed and remitted at random. I had already gone through one cycle of unintentional weight loss followed by some weight gain. Unbeknownst to me on that Thanksgiving morning a relapse was on the horizon and I was on my way back down the scale but standing in the turkey trotting crowd I was unaware of the future to come. I believed I was on the mend once and for all. I thought I had been healed. I was confident that my body had been restored and was on the path to regaining full health.
Oh, how little I knew.
That year I ran the Turkey Trot without any trouble, beating my anticipated time. I felt alive and full of vitality. I had flush cheeks and an invigorated heart. When I crossed the finish line I did it with victory, proclaiming healing and vowing to return again next year.
And I did. I ran again in 2014 and 2015 but each year I returned with less weight and less speed than I had the year before. I ran but I couldn't cross the finish line proclaiming healing. Instead I crossed the finish line proclaiming the sufficiency of God and His ability to physically sustain me.

In just a few short days it will be Thanksgiving and runners will line up along the lake for the annual Turkey Trot but I won't be in attendance. I wasn't there last year, either because, last year, I had to face the tough reality that my body can no longer run three miles. In fact, it can no longer run one mile. At least not today. Not this year.
When this year's online Turkey Trot registration opened I contemplated entering as a walker. I imagined myself naming and claiming future healing by walking the 3.2 miles, vowing to return again next year at a faster pace.
When I completed the registration, one click away from being added to the list of participants, a hand guided my mouse away from "submit" and hoovered over "cancel" instead. Then a little voice spoke and stopped me in my trotting tracks.  
You don't need to enter a race. You're already winning one. 
At that moment I realized that I don't need to make a great proclamation of healing or make claims about my future physical restoration. God has my health in His hands and His timing under His control.
I don't know when my body will put on weight again or pick up speed again. I don't know if I will ever enter a Turkey Trot again. And I don't need to because God knows.
God knows my physical condition. He knows how weak and fragile I am. He is fully aware of every symptom that plagues me. God knows what is head on my long journey back to health.
Instead of claims about the future, God wants my faith for today. I know this is true because He tells me not to worry about tomorrow, it will take care of itself. He doesn't need me to make a great 3.2 walk to claim His healing. He needs me to wake up every morning, trot or no trot, and proclaim His sufficiency and provision even when my body feels weak and evidence of physical restoration is no where to be found on a scale or a scan. He desires my trust whether I am lacing up my sneakers or retiring my running shoes. God commands that I believe in His power to heal even when my weight is slipping and my pace is slowing.
I can't claim to know what God has in store for my body because claims for the future are not mine to make. But I can claim to have faith in whatever the future holds, trot or no trot, because I know who holds it. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


It was while driving home along the interstate late one Sunday night that I saw the brightly shining Fed Ex sign and a message illuminated in fluorescent light. Glowing in purple and orange, the Word declared, "I am delivering you."
Announced boldly on the mountain side my eyes beheld a great display of God's promises and the darkness of my car's cabin was filled with His light. He opened His mouth and out of it He spoke glorious words of truth.

By my power I am delivering you. 
Not by doctors. 
Not by man's design. 
But by my mighty hand you are being, YOU HAVE BEEN, delivered." 

His message stunned and shocked me with news too good to comprehend. Immediately, I thought I understood the meaning of His message. At the sound of triumph's trumpets I assumed the war was won. I believed a victory won against disease declared my days of battles and suffering done and over.
Little did I know, healing would bring a struggle of its own.
Now I see the folly in my comprehension and the flaw in my understanding. Now I see that the message all at once declared the victory one and the days of struggle just beginning.
The message was all together true. I most certainly have been delivered and disease is most assuredly dead. The truth is I have been rescued by the mighty Hand of God. 
But my days of suffering are not over. United with Jesus, they never will be. To be one with Jesus in His victory is to be one with Him in His suffering. To live is Christ. To die is gain. To one day join Christ Jesus in His heavenly life requires joining the journey of His earthly life.
Healing is a battle all its own. It is the battle to rebuild from scratch. It is the labor to replant the fields after they have been ravaged and trampled bare. It is from nothing that healing begins and everything new is built. With a glory greater than before, dedicated hands of restoration do a work on the desolate land.
The work is long and tiring. The ground is hard and dry but God is faithful and patient. He will not abandon the fight. He will not forget the fields. The same God who won death's victory will deliver the healing and reign triumphant in its new life.
By His mighty hand and the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Lord my God is delivering me, has delivered me, my every victory.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Dog walks and God walks


"Hey, I've got a question for you," the stranger yelled from his car. Being the only human in sight I assumed he was directing his line of questioning at me.
"Sure, what's your question?"I hollered back from the sidewalk.
"Does the one always walk on your left and the other one on your right?"
I looked down first to my left, then to my right. Then I looked back up and answered the strangers odd inquiry, "Yes, Pippy always walks on my left. Molly always on my right." I never instituted this walking arrangement. Years ago the dogs naturally fell into this pattern and they've stuck to it ever since with a resolve that is far more stubborn than it is submissive.
The friendly driver just laughed. "I thought so. Even dogs get stuck in their patterns. You should switch it up on them."
And with that he drove of.
The stranger's suggestion troubled me. Wouldn't changing their comfortable routine be cruel and unusual and altogether unnecessary? Why would I want to disrupt their walking harmony? What did I have to gain by confusing their comfortable routine?
The stranger's suggestion sounded like a mean trick until I considered the road and all of its dangers. Big trucks and speeding cars were a threat to my little stubborn schnoodles. Even when a car come far too close on the left Pippy refuses to move to the right. When traffic comes up near the right I always have to yank Molly's leash, forcing her to comply with my command to move out of harm's way. I know it can't be pleasant for them to be pulled on and tugged but I do it for their safety and their protection. I do it because they aren't trusting and obeying.
The truth is Pippy and Molly aren't truly obedient walkers. They are only obedient and compliant when they are each on their own designated side. They would rather walk in harms way than change their ways.
Considering my dog's faux obedience I began to see the flaw in my "cruelty free" logic.
To disrupt Pippy and Molly of their patterns wouldn't be a trick played for my own twisted amusement. It would be a way to train them up to be obedient. Breaking them of their routine would make them more malleable and flexible in all circumstances, leading to safer walks. By becoming true followers, naturally trusting and obeying my every command, my pups would enjoy the fullness of my protection and walk peacefully in the shield of my love.
It didn't take but a few steps further down the sidewalk before God began to tug on the leash of my heart. As if He were calling out from a nearby car window I could hear Him ask, "Do you always walk on that side?"
Ashamed at the reality of my own faux obedience, I had to admit that I am prone to patterns and absolutely stuck in my routine. I'm a rigid follower, trapped in my own ways. I'm downright habitual about my habits. With a stubbornness more powerful than the weight of two schnoodles tugging on their leashes, I protest when God forces me to change my walking pattern. 
The way I've been walking hasn't been the way of true obedience. I've been stubbornly pulling on the leash, robbing me of the true peace that comes from full faith and trust in the protection of God. By demanding I follow my own way I have denied myself the rest and joy that comes from unwavering obedience. I've put myself in harms way and exposed myself to unnecessary danger. From my stubborn end of the leash I have foolishly denied myself the fullness of God's safety and love.
But thanks be to God that old dogs can learn new tricks. And so can forgiven sinners.
Today, right here and right now, I can choose to change the way I walk. By following God's voice and trusting completely in His will, no matter where it leads, I can become a truly obedient child of God. When I fully surrender my will to walk my way I will enter into the true protection and lasting peace of God's safety and serenity. It is only by releasing my routine and abandoning my patterns at the foot of Christ's cross that I am truly obedient.
From the voice of a stranger and the grace of my Savior, now I can see that on both dog walks and God walks flexible, malleable, unwavering obedience is key to safely enjoying the journey.

Friday, November 10, 2017

God's girl

In my former life, the one I lived prior to sickness and disease, I embraced my inner relationship girl. Deep, committed relationship was integral to my existence. I thrived on creating bonds of love and romance. I was a girl with wedding plans and dreams of becoming a young wife. But then I became sick and my inner relationship girl became a shut-in and all femininity was snatched away by the hands of disease.
Ever since relationship girl succumbed to illness I have mourned the loss of her. As fiercely as I have missed enjoying the companionship of a special man, I have missed the relationship girl I used to be within. I have missed the very essence of who I was and ached to experience that life again. I’ve cried tears of longing to feel relationship’s joy again.
From my knees I've cried out to God and begged Him raise my precious relationship girl from her grave. I have pleaded with Him to revive her in the restoration of my body. To God I have even pledged my future marriage and dedicated my future mate. All I’ve asked is that He bring relationship girl back to life.
But relationship girl hasn't risen. She hasn't been raised from the dead. She can’t because relationship girl was crucified so that God's girl may be risen to new life.
On a cross set aside for me, fashioned with the bonds of surrender to Christ, God took my lost and broken relationship girl and let her die in disease. He used nails of sickness to cleanse my past of her sin and shame. In the solitude of His presence, at the foot of Christ’s cross, God let my precious relationship girl perish.
But God did not let her die in vain. Even in the darkness of the grave the life of my inner girl was never for a moment abandoned.
Now, dwelling in my heart’s place where relationship girl once lived there resides someone altogether new. Up from the grave has arisen a different kind of girl. Now it is God’s girl who lives.
With the life of God's girl beating boldly within me I have experienced more love and passion than I ever knew possible. The depth of joy felt in the presence of God is unlike anything relationship girl ever felt before. She never understood the depth of God’s love and the miracle of His grace. The relationship girl of my past didn’t appreciate the sweetness in surrender or the joy of solitude.
Now I see why relationship girl had to die. She had to be crucified with Christ in order that she could be raised to new life as eternal as God’s precious girl.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Wheat is evil. 
Dairy is certainly not your friend. 
Gluten shall be a plague upon you. 
See those nightshades? They have come to ravage from within. 
Beware, even raw foods will betray you and chocolate treats will always torture you in the end.

The devil's slithering voice haunts me. In the night He taunts me to confuse my appetite and rob me of rest. As he snickers he unleashes his tummy torment and disquiets the peace in my soul. His lies cause both my stomach and my spirit such great distress. With shackles of nutritional "nos" and dietary "don'ts" satan has chained my joy.
Every intolerance has tightened satan's grip on my serenity. He has used pain to further paralyze my palate and trouble my mind. Captivity in satan's dietary prison has made my stomach his slave. My very appetite his victim.
For too long I have been held in satan's bondage. For too long I have been held hostage by my body's digestive "needs." For far too long I have been kept as a prisoner in the darkness of my body's distress.
But I will not be held captive any longer and refusing to let my enemy has his way with me. I am breaking free and claiming Christ's victory.
It is in the name of God's Words of truth that my chains are broken. It is by my Lord's victory that triumph rains, declaring that my days of slavery have ended Jesus has come and released me from my bondage. Once and for all, He rose to set set this death bound captive eternally free.
Delivered from darkness and released into the light I am free to be healed. Free to be restored and renewed. Free to be strengthened and empowered.
Hallelujah Jesus reigns as victor and eternal King! 
My Lord has won my victory and made me truly, everlastingly, free!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Did you get spooked this Halloween?

Just a few days ago, on Halloween, Pippy got spooked.
It happened while we were out our daily walk. Pippy had been working on her village off-leash skills, and behaving beautifully. She was perfectly obeying my sidewalk safety rules and heeding my commands. She pranced beside me full of joy, leash-less and free.
That's when terror struck.
The spook came courtesy of an impatient UPS truck driver encouraging a pokey Prius to get a move on but, to Pippy's doggie ears, the sound was as alarming as a Zombie Apocalypse. At least, that's what I gathered from her terror-struck face. The ear-splitting sound sent Pippy into a frenzied state of fear. In the blink of an eye my obedient schnoodle was transformed into a petrified pup.
Completely oblivious of the dangers ahead Pippy went running scared, heading straight for the street.
My eyes must have grown the size of saucers as I watched her paws step away from the protection of the sidewalk and into potential peril on the road. Immediately I sprang into doggie-Mom mode and in my loudest, most authoritative voice commanded "Pippy, stop!"
At the sound of my voice Pippp's paws came to a screeching halt. Slowly, with ears down and shame in her eyes, she stepped away from the road and made her way back to my side. I knelt down next to my petrified pouch and petted her quivering fur. "You don't need to be afraid, Pippy. Just stay next to me on the sidewalk and I'll keep you safe all the way home." 

After our walk, back home safe and sound, Pippy took up her comfortable position on the couch, as dogs are apt to do. While Pippy went on to take a nap my mind went wandering back to the sidewalk to replay the scene so that so thoroughly spooked my precious schnoodle. As I pictured the fear in her eyes I came face to face with crippling fear that I let spook my spirit and haunt my heart. In my petrified pouch I saw my own fear-induced behavior that send me running scared and away from the safety of God's sidewalk.
What puts the fear in me is the horror of troubling test results, financial woes, relational stressors and darkness up ahead. I become paniced when things aren't going smoothly. When the future looks bleak I become as petrified as Pippy on the village street.
In an instant I allow my fear to replace my trust in God's protection. Acting on emotions and feelings of alarm, I flee from joy and head for anxieties. Spooked and scared, I forsake "be no afraid" and forget "do not fear." Petrified and panicked, I step away from the safety of God's will and providence and step directly into oncoming peril.
When struck with such fear, only the voice of my Protector and Provider can break through the street noise and restore my soul back to His peace and rest. With love and grace He welcomes me back to the sidewalk and reassures me that there is nothing in this world to fear. I am safe by His side, walking in the security of His will. As long as I remain faithful to His commands and keep my life life hidden with Him in Christ, He will save me, keep me and preserve my life.
In this world there will be troubling sights and alarming sounds but walking with God on the safety of His sidewalk I need not be spooked and scared.
In the center of His will, heeding His commands and obeying His voice, I can walk in peaceful assurance and all of heaven's joy, assured that the Almighty God will keep me safe all the way home.