Thursday, November 26, 2015

Never Alone

Thanksgiving has always been a hard day for me, not to mention holidays in general. Some of the most traumatic and painful memories fall on this day. It's also a day that can become very lonely, causing a deep depressive state. Praise God these things are beginning to grow strangely dim the more the light of His presence shines upon me. This is not my first Thanksgiving alone by all means. However, this is the first year that I had nowhere to go for the holidays and my Mammaw is no longer living. When I was her primary care giver I'd always make a point to decorate her house from top to bottom, doing anything and everything to make it a great experience for her. Being able to care for her made these dreadful days more bearable. This time around it's been different. It's hard to shake off the nightmares and flashbacks when the demons come out to play. It's not always fun sitting in a room all day all alone when everyone is busy spending time with family and practically everything is closed. It's easy to feel unworthy and undeserving of a family when the hopes of having one fade away time and time again. It's tempting to listen to the voices of condemnation. It's a choice to control your thoughts or let your thoughts control you. Today has not been the most glamorous of days yet at the same time it hasn't been the darkest either. Being able to serve and love on others is such a beautiful gift. The Lord constantly uses it to redirect my focus and worship Him for all that He is.

A shift has occurred in my life lately more so than ever before. Starting in August I began to really seek not just the things of the Lord, but God Himself. He radically changed everything I ever knew about life and Him. He took off my blindfold of logic and showed me how to have true faith and trust in the unpredictable. He stripped away everything I used to find identity in until it was literally just me and Him. In a lot of ways it's still just me and Him, especially on days like today. What makes today different? The daily renewing of the mind, time in the word, practice of thankfulness, the trust throughout the process, the honoring of the season, the sweet victory of the Cross, real rest, and the intimacy of the Father just to name a few ;) 

Today I could go on and on about what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for Jesus Who sweeps me off my feet, a place to live, community, family through the blood of Christ, a vehicle, the chance to finish school, several jobs, the opportunity to travel once again, cats, tap shoes, boxing gloves, journals, feather pins, music, hands and feet, and all the brilliantly funny videos/memes that exist in the world today. I'm thankful for you for taking the time to read this. I'm thankful for Native Americans. I'm thankful for all people of all nations, every tribe and every tongue. I'm even thankful for the past, no longer in a way that glorifies any situation or circumstance but my Father alone. The Lord truly works everything together for good-Romans 8:28. He's put this girl to much use that has endured terrible abuse. He's turned my mourning into joy. He's brought beauty from pain. He's provided His strength in my weakness. He took a girl who was starving and made her hopeful. He showed a girl who thought she was unworthy that she was a daughter all along. He wipes away every tear and is the well that never runs dry. He brings laughter out of sorrow. He can erase and replace every remembrance of terror with the perfect love that casts out every fear. 

One of the main things I've learned about the character of God during this season is that He makes ALL things new. Lately I've returned to a lot of old things I used to be involved with: Music School, job in the Visual and Performing Arts, and even being called back to Southeast Asia. He has made each of these areas new. I'm thankful that He makes the everyday mundane fresh and exciting. He is constant and never changes yet He can change things. He has changed things. He is changing things. He will change things. So as I sit here by myself, I'm not by myself. All day as I've been alone, I haven't been alone. He is with me. He lives inside of me. He foreknew me. He's goes before me. He never leaves me. He's always for me. He's my Daddy and I'm His little girl. I'm thankful that He is my Father, Mother, sister, and brother all in one and so much more! The world tells me I'm an orphan, my Daddy tells me I'm His. The enemy tells me I'm unwanted, the Lord calls me His precious jewel. 

To all of you who find this day difficult as well, hold on. He holds the universe and most certainly can hold you. Don't be afraid, let His love wash away all the anxiety. Talk to Him and He will listen. Spend time with Him and He will reveal to you His heart for the one, you're the one. It's okay to not be okay, He wants to mend what's broken and just asks that you stay. You don't have to hide from Him, you can hide in Him. He's a hiding place. a safe Haven where you can be vulnerable in the best of ways. Don't give up, give into what He has for you for it is good. He is the light in the darkness of night. The enemy is a liar, not the Prince of Peace. He can make your sleep sweet and restore your identity. He has the power to make this day new. He has the wisdom to know what's best for you. Remember, there may be pain in the night but Joy comes in the morning-Psalm 30:5. Will you trust Him? He's worth it. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,    and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him,    and He will make straight your paths." -Proverbs 3:5-6

"When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet." -Proverbs 3:24

"He alone is my rock and salvation, a fortress where I will not be 

shaken." -Psalm 62:2 

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." -1 John 4:18 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Healing is In His Hands

"A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch His robe, I will be healed.” Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from Him, so He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched My robe?” His disciples said to Him, “Look at this crowd pressing around You. How can You ask, ‘Who touched Me?" But He kept on looking around to see who had done it. Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of Him and told him what she had done. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” -Mark 5:25-34 

This nameless woman had suffered twelve long years of chronic menstrual bleeding. The fact that she had been bleeding for this long suggests that she was most likely infertile as well-- not to mention she was probably severely anemic and weak, especially considering she was living in a society with an iron-poor diet. She was bound to constantly feel tired and lethargic.

To sum it up—her health was not the best.  

According to Leviticus 15:19-28, this woman was also considered to be unclean during the entire time that she bled. In the Mosaic law, women who were unclean weren't allowed to touch anyone for they would then be considered unclean as well. This kept her from participating in any religious services or activities. 

Even if she could bear children, her husband (if she had one), would not come near her due to her status.  In this woman's culture, motherhood was viewed as the supreme female virtue. A woman's security in old age came from her family. For this woman to be childless was a constant glimpse into what would look like a very lonely future.

This woman was DESPERATE and DETERMINED to find Jesus. Not to find another doctor and receive yet another empty promise of a potential cure. Instead, her strongest desire was to find the ultimate Healer. After all, the physicians of her time were unable to relieve her suffering. She "had endured much under many doctors. She had spent everything she had and was not helped at all. On the contrary, she became worse."

Her physical body was unhealthy. Her faith, however, remained firm in the midst of all of her troubles. The odds were not in her favor...instead, all odds were against her. For her to become well again seemed impossible. Yet, she chose to believe that she could be healed. That within itself is HUGE. She heard about a man who could "heal many who had various diseases"(Mark 1: 34)and she didn't doubt in such a power.

So she traveled 30 miles to Capernaum. She quietly came up behind Jesus in the crowd and simply touched His cloak. For she said "If I could just touch His robes, I'll be made well!" By law, this would have made Jesus unclean, but by grace, a miracle unfolded. Immediately her bleeding stopped. Without a single word being spoken to her, she was made whole simply by believing that He could heal her and choosing to act on that belief. Her faith was rewarded and it did not go unnoticed.

Jesus felt power leave Him and asked who had touched Him. The disciples gave a typical answer basically saying that it could've been anyone in the large crowd that surrounded Him. Jesus was determined to find who it was. At this moment, this woman had a choice. She could have stayed silent and or ran away in her fear. Instead she chose to be BOLD and COURAGEOUS and kneeled down before Jesus, despite her fear and trembling. She told Jesus the whole truth and admitted to being the one who touched Him. She, the unclean woman, told Jesus, the spotless lamb, that she touched His cloak. Oh the thoughts that must have raced through her mind during that moment. The same faith that gave her the strength to reach out and touch Jesus was the same faith that empowered her to be the one who stepped forward in the crowd. She risked public humiliation and punishment to confess the faith she had in Jesus. Wow. 

Then, Jesus said one single word that swept away twelve years’ worth of pain and isolation. "Daughter..."

In no other gospel account did  Jesus use this term of endearment and respect, and He chose to say this to the woman who was seen as unclean. He called the untouchable "Daughter". This name meant she belonged to a family. This name meant that she has been restored to her community. This name meant she was loved. This showed the Father's heart through the Son. 

"Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in PEACE and be FREE from your affliction."

She saw first hand the truth of Mark 6:56! Not only was she healed physically, but emotionally too. Isn't that what every woman needs? Healing not just physically, but emotionally? Jesus knows our hearts and just how to comfort them. "There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole" my dear friendsand this woman was able to proclaim just that.

Twelve years ago I was diagnosed with Endometriosis, the same incurable autoimmune disease that studies show this woman in the Bible most likely had. This diagnosis, along with a genetic vitamin D deficiency tends to make life rather difficult. Being told at a young age that you're most likely infertile and may not have kids one day is heartbreaking. So is being told if you ever were able to become pregnant, you are most likely to have a miscarriage or die when giving birth. As I've become older, my condition has become worse. There are some days that I can't get out of bed. It's hard to function normally when you feel so weak that you could pass out at any moment. My immune system often gets attacked, causing me to get sick very easily and often. This kind of sick is harder to fight and get over than the typical sinus infection or flu—it’s on-going and never fully goes away. There are several medications and surgeries that could be performed to help with the disease, but there is no ultimate fix for the problem. It has become so bad lately that doctors have tried to convince me to have a hysterectomy before I'm 30 due to being at such a high risk for ovarian cancer. I never really put a lot of thought into having kids until I was told it might be impossible, but thankfully God has called me to adopt one day no matter what. 

It's easy to want to question God when health issues arise and diseases are diagnosed. It's easy to become numb to everything and deny that anything is wrong. It's easy to allow the awkwardness to cause embarrassment that keeps you from sharing boulders that need to be shared within a safe community. Jesus didn't walk on earth alone, so why should we? He had intimacy with the Father and close relationships with the disciples. Jesus is always the ultimate game changer. He heals wounded hearts and restores health to the unhealthy. He comforts a woman's emotions by making her feel important and noticed. He reminds you that you are a part of a family that will never disown you. Mmmm...isn't Jesus good? So as I continue the on-going battle of illness, I'm comforted in knowing that God is still bigger than all the what-if's and potential outcomes. I choose to expect the unexpected and leave it in God's hands. I continue to spend time in the war room and secret place. I pray that I can have the same faith as this nameless woman. I want to have such a faith that Jesus will look to me and say "Daughter, your Faith has made you well. Go in Peace and be FREE from you affliction."

This is my same challenge to each of you. To have the same faith as our nameless sister who bled for 12 years. Be strong. Be Courageous. Be Bold. Be Determined. Be Faithful. Be HANDS & FEET. Remain fervent in prayer. Rest in the fact that you are a daughter and He is well-pleased. 

There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain.