Let’s be Real

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A couple weeks ago, my husband asked if I would speak during the message portion of a prayer and worship night. My initial reaction was a big loud “HECK NO!”, followed by a million excuses for why I’m the last person he should ask to speak.

I mean, c’mon, nobody wants to hear a story that doesn’t have a happy ending yet… That was the first lie.

Besides, God and I aren’t really that tight right now. Lie #2.

I can’t say anything meaningful while I’m still battling with my own doubt. Lie #3.

I don’t have any spiritual insight worth hearing. Lie #4.

I don’t want to burden others with my own suffering. Lie #5.

Need I continue? You get the picture.

My husband challenged me to pray about it, and as I sought for an answer, the Spirit lead me to 2 Timothy 3: 14-15

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

and then I turned back to 2 Timothy 2:13 and read outloud,

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful still.”

Even though I feel like my faith has been rocked, that I failed God as soon the road got tough, I KNOW IN WHOM I BELIEVE. My God has a relationship with me, and He has never once let me go.

And for that reason alone, I share with you now what I shared with them on that anointed Saturday night.

If you’ve got 30 minutes, sit down, grab your Bible and some coffee, and listen HERE.

While I do apologize for the blubbering and for the poor recording quality, I will not apologize for being REAL.

May God receive all the glory.

 

 

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Give Thanks

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You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!

Psalms 30:11-12

Even after a hard year, I can’t help but give thanks. In fact, on many accounts it’s the only thing I CAN do.

It’s been nearly 11 months since being diagnosed nutrient deficient. The healing process has been longer and slower than I anticipated, but because I was lacking the nutrients my body needed to survive, it was shutting itself down.

A recovery from such takes time, and every day I have the chance to push it along via greens and whole food supplements. But that’s about all I have control over. How my insides respond is up to God, and from what I can see, He’s not quite ready to heal me just yet.

See, I’ve had more than my share of dreaded down time, meaning I’m on the coach with a headache clawing at my eyes and stomach about to turn. However, it’s been in some of those most agonizing moments where God decides to have ‘us’ time.

Whether it’s a word of truth through a song I have playing softly in the background, a peaceful Presence during a burst of silent (or not-silent) sobs, or when He shouts out a sudden halt to my negative spiral of thoughts, the Lord continues to pursue me.

Wherever I am, however I’m feeling, Jesus wants to MEET. WITH. ME.

But God, I haven’t been reading my bible…

Kimmy, just be with me.

But I’m in so much pain…

Beloved, give me your burdens. Let me help you.

But if I were healed I could do so much more for you…

My daughter, do you realize I already did everything for YOU?

There’s been many of these conversations where, in result, I end up turning my heart upward in gratitude to my Savior. Physically nothing has changed, but inwardly my soul has been renewed, washed clean by one who underwent more torment than any human ever could.

It’s basically an understatement to say that Jesus gets it. He truly understands. And although in His darkest hour the Father and the entire world turned their backs on him, Jesus never has and never will turn His back on me.

For that, I give thanks.

Making Us Holy is His Aim

The ongoing battle for joy has become a bit easier these days.

No, health-wise nothing has visibly improved, and on top of everything else I caught a nasty virus that’s been going around, putting me in bed for a week. However, I’ve been practicing. Practicing Jesus’ joy.

I can’t say I’ve perfected it, but by God’s grace my spirit and my mind have come to terms of circumstantial acceptance and true Biblical application.

According to Oswald Chambers, the true oswalddefinition of Jesus’ joy is His absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice to His Father- the joy of doing that which the Father send Him to do.”

“…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…” (Hebrews 12:2) 

I’ve touched lightly on this in a previous blog. But since then, I can truly say the Lord has been maturing my understanding of joy.

I’ve focused on the evils of my suffering. Of the discomfort. I’ve been hanging onto the hope of one day being healed- trying to look past the pain instead of surrendering to the purpose God has for me during my current situation: to bring me closer to Himself. In any and every situation, God always declares His seal on my life.

Although my physical body is achingly in distress, my soul is content. In His Word He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Though I may not know why I’m undergoing such inconvenient pain, I know Who is in control. I surrender to Him alone. I lean into Him and long to know Him more. He tells me to“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)  Oh, I’m still alright.

I continue to pray for healing every day, and I pray for more faith to pray with. I remind God of His promises for me. Do I desire to live like this, with non-stop headaches and nausea? No. But more than that, I do NOT desire to live outside the will of God. And for now, this is His will. I need to preside in it.

The last thing I want is to be caught up in my own cares. I want to instead be caught up in proclaiming Jesus and what He has done. I don’t want to merely be aware of my life, but to FIND my life in Christ. To be ONE in Him.

This is the purpose of my life. How easy it is to become distracted by circumstance. Is health the most important thing to me? No. Have I made it the most important? Close to it.

Oswald Chambers reminds us that We are not destined to happiness, nor to health, but to holiness… the only thing that truly matters is whether a person will accept the God who will make him holy.”

Whoah. My self-inclined sympathy and resistance to my health issues definitely don’t belong in my relationship with God. I can’t imagine Christ complaining on the cross. What a whiner I’ve become. Yes, I know He cares for me. But my prayer of “God please take away my pain” doesn’t look anything like “God please make me holy”.

He commands it, “... it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:16)

How have I missed praying in His will??? He wants to make me exactly like Himself. I mean, that’s how He created us- in His image. Then He sent Jesus to save us so He can restore us to Himself in complete holiness.

That’s His plan. That’s all He wants for me.

When I can’t see purpose in my sickness, there is greater purpose beyond because I have joyfully surrendered to whatever my Father has for me to do. I am filled by Him to be used by Him. “I delight to do Your will, O my God…” (Psalm 40:8).

It’s encouraging to understand that as I continue to embrace relationship with Him, He is making me holy. No matter the circumstance- even when I’m sick at home- His goal is unconditional. And He does it in His grace. I don’t deserve it, yet He wills it.

Such a joyful concept. What more could I ask for?

Thank You Lord Jesus for Your rule and reign in my life. Thank You for Your plan to make me holy as You are holy. Thank You for making me Yours and for revealing Yourself to me. Help me to find fulness of Joy only in You that You may be glorified in me. I will praise You still. 

Celebrate the Good Days

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My husband and I celebrated my progress with mugs of decaf Americanos and chocolate chunk gluten free oat cakes. Being that I’ve been off caffeine and sugar for the past 3 months, this seemed an appropriate way to commemorate stepping stones of success.

I didn’t totally go wild, however- thus the decaf- and I’ll still be sugar free/caffeine free until my body totally rebuilds its systems.

But for now, a minor cheat deemed a worthy cause.

What’s the progress?

At my last doctors appointment, it appeared that my chemical toxin detox has been completed. There are no lingering amounts of the chemicals my body had been affected by. This means I’m able to stop taking 3 of the supplements I’ve been on. Hooray! Good job body!

We really do have an amazing Creator. He designed our bodies with the ability to heal themselves when given a chance.

Thank you, Great Physician, for the organic healing you’ve administered throughout my physical being.

Healthwise, the good days are finally outnumbering the bad. Remember when it seemed impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel? Well, I can see it now. Encouraged beyond all hope, my anticipation only grows.

With glimpses of a healthy and uninhibited lifestyle in the near future, all I can do is pray that my body continues to move forward. Although there will still be a few more relapse hurdles to jump over, I know that as I push off the ground, my strides are steadily bringing me closer to the finish line.

The exhertion I spend getting there won’t be anything in comparison to the energy I’ll be rewarded with.

I’m turning the bend. Homestretch here I come.

The Key to Successful Suffering

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

When I begin to think that nobody can understand the suffering I’m in, I must remind myself that I am not the first one who has suffered. Neither am I suffering to the extent of others before me nor others who are also currently suffering. Everyone suffers from something at some point of their life. It’s inevitable.

In a book of conversations by Brother Lawrence, he says something about suffering that rattled my mind anew. In summary, he declares his surprise over how there isn’t more suffering the world. Considering the weight of sin and power of evil still lurking on earth, he thinks there should be greater levels of suffering than there actually is. At the same time, he bothers to not be concerned over the existing suffering with knowledge that God could change everything in an instant.

What an incredible reminder to those who are suffering. There could be more – there SHOULD be more- suffering. But no. For we walk in the kingdom of an alive and gracious God who chose to rescue us from life void of love, compassion, and miracles. Instead he brought us into a family of forgiveness, mercy, and hope.

The Way to this Kingdom has suffered what no one ever will. A Father sending his Son into the gloomy depths of an excruciating death, betrayed by those he came to save. Yet he fought for us, conquering hell’s grip over our lives by paying the price we ourselves would have otherwise paid.

Hebrews said it was “for the joy set before him.” Jesus walked willingly towards that suffering cross- with JOY.

I’m guessing the joy Jesus had was no ordinary joy. In light of our salvation, Jesus decides to give us his joy too!

“These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11

These things were his revelations to his disciples. His revelations of Joy.  What did he say was the key to obtaining this joy? Remaining in the love of the Father.

But how do I do this in suffering? I don’t have the superpowers Jesus had… Ah, but I do.

And so did those who suffered before me.

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:13-15

Paul, in prison, could’ve allowed depression to sink in. He was basically cut-off from all physical ministry. Physically speaking, I can relate. Me, chained to my home due to illness; Paul, chained to his home due to persecution. I’m sure he was suffering from injuries due to countless beatings as well.

Being in such an exhausted state, the lies decided to take my chains as prime opportunity to attack….

What a waste. You’re not an asset to Gods Kingdom laying sick in bed at home. God can’t use you here. You’re worthless….

I can imagine Paul wrestled with those lies as well.

How did he overcome his suffering? How did he shut out the discouraging circumstances? Through praise and worship, Paul creatively served his booming young churches by writing effective letters that all believers are still encouraged by in Scripture today. He gives credit to his writings as inspired by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 9).

What did I do that was Holy Spirit inspired? Every ounce of strength, every period of relief, by God’s grace I would offer up meager thanks and praise. Did it result in literature that changed the history of the early church? No. But it resulted in the changing of my heart. The lies no longer taunted me when focusing solely on Gods presence. By remaining in his love, yes, I received the freeing

GIFT OF JOY.

As I practiced being in His presence while experiencing pain, I gained a cheerful stamina. Once I even fooled my husband, who saw my happy demeanor and asked if I felt better. “Nope. My head is pounding and I feel nauseous and dizzy, but, I found Jesus’s Joy!”

The key: to always, ALWAYS remain in the love of the Father.

 

Hand Unlocking Old Fashioned Lock
Hand Unlocking Old Fashioned Lock ca. 2002

The Timing of it All

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Remember how I said it was going to take awhile to feel the healing affects of the treatment?

Well, two weeks into the “plan” I was still waking up every day with the dreaded, disabling  symptoms. I almost didn’t want to go to bed because I knew the next day was going to be as terrible as the one I had just lived. At the same time, I wanted badly to go to bed so as to put a stop to the day’s suffering.

In the beginning stages of recovery, I would end each night speaking hope of tomorrow out loud, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow I am going to be better.” This, however, became harder to do the longer it dragged out.

There was one evening where I quit trying to be positive– my spirit had been too badly broken. I was tired. Frustrated. I wanted to give up. Crying my weary complaints, I was gently put into check by the thought-provoking words of my husband who had also been persevering this trial alongside me.

It was a new perspective.

As I listened, my tears slowed and my heart grew softer with his reflection of God’s faithfulness to us. “Kimmy, think about the timing of it all…”

So I did.

Based on the charts, it seems that my body’s internal systems have been slowly fading over a period of time.

From the outside I appeared a healthy, well-balanced human being. On the inside, however, I was unknowingly sending my body into its worst nightmare.

I could have crashed at any time. But I didn’t.

Yes, there were minor illnesses and health cycles that I now see correlated to the main problems at stake. Although these illnesses pushed me faster downhill, I would eventually recover without suspicion of a grander coup de ta.

So, in realizing the vast opportunities for when my body could have ultimately decided to “crash,” there honestly could not have been a better time than now.

Had it happened during the honeymoon, before the wedding, while in Turkey, or even in college, there would have been serious life repercussions dramatically altering everything I’ve been able to do and accomplish up until this point.

Now.

It had to happen now. By God’s sovereign grace, it happened now.

Now. When I have a husband to be my constant partner, hilarious best friend, endless encourager, prayer warrior, and compassionate caretaker.

Now. When we’re in America, where doctors speak English.

Now. When we’re on furlough, resting and transitioning out of the holidays to put our focus towards our partners, friends, and family.

Although I would have been more than happy to experience our first couple months of marriage as well our brief time in America at full physical capacity, my husband wisely pointed out how this trial has worked to only bring us closer. Likewise, as a song on my running playlist says: “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

This health debacle has once again showed me my weaknesses and where I am spiritually lacking. It has pinned down my pride, reminding me I am nothing without Christ. Greater yet, it has highlighted my spirit of ingratitude. At times like theses, ungratefulness could very well be my number one sin, perhaps even the biggest wall I build between me and my gracious Father.

All this time I’ve been sulking in my chair, dwelling on the now, while the NOW is exactly what I should praising Him for.

I still have a lot to work through and repent. But for now, I will gratefully run back into my Father’s arms and thank Him for the unconditional love and faithfulness He gives me, the child who seems to need to learn the same lessons over, and over again.

Nothing Stays Hidden Forever

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I would be lying if I didn’t say I thought that being married would make my life go uphill a little.

And in so many ways it has.

So many ways!!!

Having another person to loyally live life with besides myself is indeed a wonderful thing. I will forever have someone to trade ideas with, cook meals with, and adventure with. My husband is my biggest ally in all things and constantly reminds me how much he loves me. He challenges me in the best of ways and is continually learning new things he can do to cheer me up.

Marriage is filled with opportunity to refine myself, to become more of the embodiment of Christ, to love selflessly, offer more grace, and confess with eager humility.

I love it. I absolutely love it.

One thing getting married didn’t do, however, was wipe my personal history clean. I was still me.

All and any existing problems regarding health, my spiritual walk, and worries didn’t just automatically disappear when we said “I do”. In fact, some of these prior issues seemed only to accelerate.

As soon as we got back from our honeymoon and we began to live “real life”, it was obvious these struggles needed to be addressed. When my husband saw firsthand how my health problems quickly grew to affect my overall quality of life- how the headaches, nausea, and stomach pain increased to a daily ailment- it was affirmed that steps needed to be taken.

The test results from urgent care came back annoyingly negative. Um, no, nothing is not wrong with me. The worsening symptoms I’ve been experiencing aren’t normal. But they sent me home saying I was fine.

A friend of ours referred me to a doctor who took a serious interest in helping me. After listening to me describe my current health frustrations and medical history, the doctor proceeded to test me for organ inflammation and mineral deficiencies. These tests all screamed positive results. Positive meaning she found the explanation as to why my body was less than behaving, and that there is a way for my body to heal itself and function properly again.

This was hopeful news indeed! Handing me a packet of information, the doctor explained that first my gut needed a help with repairing itself. Along with healing my gut, I need to balance mineral levels, which would then cause less stress on my organs and decrease their inflammation, enabling my body to better process and distribute the nutrients it’s been lacking.

At first I was a bit shocked at the root cause of this illness. I consider myself a consciously healthy eater; anyone who knows me would say the same. I love my veggies- I mean, I’m all about the spinach! However, in this case it’s more than just my current habits that matter, for it was actually the domino effect my entire medical history contained which sent me downhill.  Diet, medications, antibiotics, and living environments had stained my health for the worse. Although they were in the past, the test results quickly brought them out of hiding.

The doctor sent me home with the assurance that she found the key issue and that I will get better. There is a solution.

Two days later I went in again to measure progress. There wasn’t any. I was still experiencing the same frustrating headaches and nausea. Oh, you’ll probably begin to notice a change in at least 3 weeks. So, 3 more weeks of feeling like this?!?

Even though I don’t see any visible evidence of healing, I just need to trust that my body is indeed responding to the treatment.

So, what’s the plan?

Diet-wise, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I now follow the 1/4th rule. I fill 1/4th of my plate with protein, 1/4th with raw vegetables, 1/4th with cooked vegetables, and 1/4th with gf whole grain carbs. Organic everything. And, I get to eat more butter. Butter on my eggs, on my toast, on my spinach. Who knew that butter was good for you? All my life I stayed away from it, but what I wrongly stayed away from was a healthy fat that would offer my body the good type of fat it needs. (We bought a huge chunk of the Amish home-made kind from Pilgrims, my new favorite grocery store.)

Along with every meal, I chew and swallow 10 different whole food supplements. Since I’m at such a low percent across the mineral spectrum, these supplements act to make up for lost time and build my minerals back up again.

Oh my goodness…. The first time I chewed these things I about threw in the towel. Talk about gag reflex!!! Imagine all the foods you wouldn’t dare eat raw ground up into little tablets that you then have to chew and gulp down. Once I got used to taking them, however, their stomach-wrenching flavors didn’t quite set me off as bad, and I was soon able to waste no time in nonchalantly chewing all 10 of them up before eating my food.

Already being gluten free and a fairly healthy eater, the new diet guidelines weren’t too difficult for me to adapt to, well, that is all except for not being allowed to have any caffeine.

Oh man.

That was a punch to the stomach.

Apparently the 1 cup of coffee I have every morning only serves to greater deplete my body of minerals it doesn’t have enough of. This ironically means that instead of boosting my energy it  takes it, exhausting me faster than normal.

In conclusion, here’s a scary fact: I’ve been functioning at less than half of my normal energy level. Whoah. I can’t wait to be myself again!