First He giveth, then He taketh away…

I’ve been going through some stuff lately. It started with something big (my mom’s cancer diagnosis), which I’ve had complete peace about. And she’s doing great. But then all these little unrelated things started happening… my dishwasher broke… pipe busted in the wall of my condo leading to mold, weeks of remediation, multiple failed air quality inspections… my brand new washer/dryer broke… my car is making crazy sounds and seems like it’s ready to call it quits… and, worst of all… I mean, this one’s horrible… brace yourselves… my WiFi isn’t working. The horror!

Now. My mom is doing well. My health is great. My kid is great. I’m surrounded by loving, sympathetic people who offer me their homes, cars, washing machines… these are all just minor inconveniences. And I’ve been through so much more in my life. Seasons of despair and devastation. Seasons of tremendous loss and grief. Seasons full of fear and uncertainty. This is nothing compared to that.

So why is it affecting me so much? Why do I feel like I’m in survival mode? Why do I feel emotionally drained and that I have nothing to offer those around me who are hurting and need encouragement?

I’m not sure. But over the last few years, I’ve learned that our emotions don’t always have a whole lot to do with what’s happening at this moment. They can be triggered by what’s happening now, but rise up from somewhere much deeper, emotion from some moment in the distant past that was never sufficiently dealt with.

I woke up this morning with a Queens of the Stone Age song in my head, First It Giveth.

It’s a song about drugs and how they influence the music creation process. Not helpful to my situation. So why could I not get it out of my head?

The chorus is a distorted fun-house mirror reflection of a verse from one of my favorite books of the Bible, and the one I identified with most during my first season of confusion and grief over the loss of my health. Job.

At this point in Job’s story, he has lost everything. He doesn’t know about the conversations that have taken place between Satan and God. He doesn’t know that he is being tested. That he has been chosen because of his faithfulness to endure this test for his own good and God’s glory. He doesn’t know that 42 chapters from this moment, he will be blessed with twice as much as he had before. All he knows is that God has taken everything that ever meant anything to him. (Well, he still has his wife. But she’s not exactly encouraging. “Curse God and die!” is her advice.)

Throughout the book, Job has some questions. He struggles. His friends aren’t always helpful. But in the end, God shows up and reminds Job who He is. (The omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Creator of all that is, ever has been, or ever will be!) And He lovingly puts Job in his place. (“Who are you to question me? Where were you when the foundations of the earth were laid?”) Job is humbled, continues pressing forward in faithful obedience, and ends up being an amazing example for his faithless friends, his hateful wife, and everyone who has heard the story for thousands of years.

So what does this mean for me? I’m not really mad that God has taken away my dishwasher, my washer/dryer, my entire kitchen, or my WiFi. I’m still mad about the loss of something much more important to me. A loss I’ve grieved, and fought to forgive. A loss I may not ever truly get over. But God is using these seemingly insignificant inconveniences to pull back another layer of the healing onion… another layer of unforgiveness, anger, and bitterness that needs to be peeled off and discarded.

Because He is good. He is good, and He is all the things He claims to be in Job’s story. He is all powerful and sovereign over EVERYTHING. He knows everything from the thought I’m going to think 7 minutes from now to what the mitochondria in the cell of the frog in my backyard was doing 20 seconds ago. He is EVERYWHERE all at once, and in every time. He can STILL affect my past, and He is already in my future. And He loves me. He loves me. This Perfect Creator. This Holy God. He loves me.

So if He took something away that I desperately didn’t want to lose… no matter how much it still hurts, no matter how much I want it back, no matter that I can’t make sense of it with my limited understanding and perspective. He is God. He is good. And He loves me. I can trust Him.

He giveth and He taketh away.

Now, if He’ll just give me my WiFi back so I can publish this post…

Inner Circle

I just finished watching (and fervently taking notes on) a sermon by Michael Todd of Transformation Church.  It was incredibly convicting for me, and also confirmed a lot of what God has been showing me in various ways over the last few years.  I’m going to relay some of my notes for you here, and it relates to the content of this blog because emotional and spiritual healing and continuous growth is vital to the healing of our bodies.  Jesus isn’t interested in healing our bodies and leaving us spiritually dead and in bondage to emotions and tendencies to sins that enslave us.  For me, facing serious illness opened my eyes to the reality of my need for Him, and He continues to use this illness to remind me of my dependency on Him, to remind me that I have limitations, but He does not.  And He has placed a purpose on my life that requires freedom from limitations, and I can only find that freedom in Him, through Him.

To make progress toward this purpose, this calling He’s placed on me, I need an inner circle.  A small, core group of people who know Him as well as or better than I do.  People who know the REAL me.  Everyone has blind spots.  Who do I have in my life who can speak things into my life even when I don’t want to hear it?  I have learned the value of having right relationships that will lead me toward purpose.  Not people who necessarily have the same interests as me, but people who point me toward the interests of Christ.

The goal for every person is to reach purpose.  To fulfill God’s will in our lives.

The Circle of Purpose

We need 4 things to live out God’s purpose for our lives…

1. God.  We need an active relationship with God.

We can do good things without God (charity, community work) but we cannot do God’s specific will for our lives if we’ve excluded Him from the equation.

2.  Gifts.  We need to discover and cultivate the specific gifts God has given each one of us.

Sometimes we get so caught up in a profession rather than purpose that we think our gift is our profession.  It’s not.  It may be related.  But it may not.  Gifts can be a tendency to be organized, a love of giving, an ability to communicate well… whatever our gifts are, it’s our responsibility to develop what He has given us.

3.  Calling.  We need to intentionally use our specific gifts to impact God’s Kingdom.

Your gifts are not for you.  They’re given to you because you have a calling to answer for the Kingdom.  God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those who answer the call.  Once He has your “yes,” He begins to mold you, to change your desires, to shave off the rough edges.  Every day, we must wake up and say “yes.” Answer His call.

4. Godly Community.  We need an Inner Circle.

Adam had Eve.  David had Jonathan.  Jesus had Peter, James, and John.  Who gets to see the things that nobody else gets to see unless you show them?  Who gets to say, “Come here, your attitude’s bad.  You’re too busy.  You’re stressed out and that’s when you fall into sin.  And I know that because I’ve been your friend for 4 years and I’m in your inner circle.”  You cannot complete your purpose if you don’t have godly community.

If Jesus needed godly community, what’s your excuse?

“Well, I’m busy.” Jesus had to save the whole world.

“Well, I don’t like that kind of people.” Then that’s why you REALLY need godly community because you’ve had bad examples of what that really looks like and it’s a dysfunction in your heart.

“Well, I have community.” But what you need is GODLY community.  You need people whose direction is set toward Jesus.  Because if you don’t have those people, then we’re only moved by “our emotions and what we feel today and don’t feel today and the vibe is wrong…” Forget our vibe.  A vibe can be wrong at any time.  Jesus is the only thing that stays the same.  His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  He will be the One that lifts us up.  We need people that are set on the Thing that we are set on.

Can you name your godly community? Communication with those people must be regular, consistent, and honest.  This is God’s plan for expansion in your life and His plan for the church.

“There’s no I in TEAM, but there is an I in ISOLATION.”

And that’s where the enemy wants to keep every single one of us.  Yeah, you pray.  Yeah, you worship.  But you’re alone.  According to the Bible, you’re in real trouble.  Nobody even knows what you’re struggling with.  They don’t know how to pray for you.  And they can’t force their way in.  You have to let them in.  Jesus doesn’t pry Himself into your life, you have to invite Him in.

This is why pornography can get such a grip on people.  It’s hidden.  You’re fighting it alone.  This is why marriages suffer. Because we pretend everything’s perfect.  You need other couples who can stand back to back with you, see your blind spots, and watch your back.

But we want to stand face to face.  We want to be around people who agree with us, who see eye to eye with us, who are “like minded.”  But that’s not helpful.  We need people who see what we don’t see.  Am I dealing in pride?  Anger? Am I getting money hungry? What do I not see? Where am I vulnerable and unaware?

They completed each other in purpose.  There was no competition.  When you are living out the methods of Jesus in community, you don’t have to tell people about Jesus.  They see Him in your life.

The church has it backwards… you don’t need a pastor to pray for you.  Get your friend to pray for you.  Worship together.  Chill together.  Pray together.  Multiply.

God’s plan was never for you to be “me” focused, but “we” focused.

Who has access?  Who can come when you’re not expecting them? Who can call you out in love?  If you don’t have godly community, you are going to miss God’s purpose for your life.

If you want to check out this sermon for yourself, here’s the link. But get ready to be convicted and take a closer look at all your relationships.

Flare Nutrition

It’s so hard to stay fueled with decent nutrition when you have a mouth full of lesions. I haven’t had a bad flare in a very long time, but I also can’t remember the last time my mouth was completely sore-free. The last few weeks I have been struggling with a low-key flare that seems to rise and fall, but never quite leave me alone.

I’m grateful to have more diverse nutrition options now. I’ve been drinking tons of bone broth (chock full of protein!) Loving the LonoLife one when I don’t have the time or energy to make it myself.

And lots of smoothies, alternating between Young Living’s Balance Complete and Pure Protein Complete (Vanilla Spice and Chocolate).

I vary the ingredients I add to it, and often just do the protein powder and almond milk when I don’t have the energy to get creative. I add a splash of NingXia Red to the vanilla powders for an extra dose of antioxidants and a yummy berry flavor. Seriously- the vanilla on its own tastes like a vanilla Frappuccino from Starbucks. Add NingXia and it tastes like a strawberry one. So. Freakin. Yummy.

This berries and cream flavor is amazing in oatmeal as well. Oatmeal is another food that’s easy to eat during a mini-flare, and it satisfies my sweet tooth.

Balance Complete, Pure Protein, and NingXia Red have helped me maintain better nutrition while my body works out whatever is triggering the systemic inflammation causing these small flares. I know I really need to tighten up what I eat when I’m not flaring, and get closer to how I was eating in the earlier days of this blog. I know these flares would be even less severe and less frequent if I cleaned up my eating overall. I know this. But am I really ready to do something about it?

Basics of Essential Oils in 15 minutes

My condo is being torn apart because a water leak in the wall led to a mold infestation, my life is insane, I haven’t washed my hair in several days, but y’all need to know about essential oils, so I made a quick video to break down the basics.

Also, baby girl invents a genius diy diffuser in this video. Watch for the original prototype whizzing by my head as I try to teach y’all about oils.

You need this stuff. Contact whoever shared this page with you or click this link when you’re ready to ditch the toxic mess and switch it out for something that will support healthy function of all your body systems. This will change your life. I’m not even kidding.