I have not felt peace about publishing anything for quite sometime, but today I’d get no peace if I didn’t. We’ve had quite a cold snap here recently, so cold that it caused every arthritic joint in my body to lock down. I spent three days in bed hardly moving, struggling to even get myself to the bathroom and back. This morning, I finally managed the grueling climb up the stairs, but spent the morning in considerable pain and with limited mobility. A dear friend and prayer partner prayed with me over the phone, as we often do, and as she was praying for me I felt the pain leave the very worst spot, then dissipate from the rest of my body. My breath caught in my throat, and I took a few steps without my cane. I squatted down to the floor and stood back up without pain, turned my neck every direction. It was as if chains had fallen from my body. With my friend still on the phone I sprinted up the second set of stair and knocked on my upstairs neighbors’ door to share my joy with them. I picked up my fifty pound five-year-old and swung him around. I have not lifted him without crippling pain in years. I spent the remainder of my day calling family and friends to share the wonderful news, and doing things I have not been able to for far too long. I had a dance party with my kids. I scrubbed the kitchen floor. So many, many things. Life is good.
is an acronym I learned long ago. It stands for:
Praise God for who He is
Repent of your sins
Yield to God’s will.
Praising is awesome. It is a time to remember my many blessings and connect with God on a personal level. Praise is all about who God is and enjoying family time with Him. Praise is personal. This is where unexpected answers sometimes come, where Abba Father and I can laugh together. When I enter into praising my Father, He lovingly shapes my heart and attitude. If I come to Him angry but remember to STILL approach Him with praise on my lips, everything changes. He re-orients my heart, my perspective, and pours out grace and humility over me. Praise is crucial before we ask, not to “butter God up” to get what we want, but to remember who He is and align our hearts and minds with His.
Repentance is tough work. If we honestly search our hearts and find nothing awry, this is the time to ask God to reveal any areas in our hearts and lives that need work. Whatever we are struggling with, this is the time to get it off our chest. God already knows every thought we’ve ever had, everything we ever did when we thought no one was watching, when we forgot the One who is with us always and never leaves our side. This is the time to admit we cannot fix ourselves, and we need some help. This is where holy breaking occurs. In repentance, shackles fall away. Walls tumble down. Here we receive strength beyond what we are capable of alone. Here, we find healing and acceptance.
Asking is easy. We always want more from God, but unless we temper our requests with praise, repentance, and yielding to God’s will, if we only talk to our Heavenly Daddy when we want something, we reduce the Creator of the Universe to Santa Clause, or “the great sky wizard” as some of my Atheist friends call Him. Oh, beloved, do you understand how hurtful this is? God loves us. He delights in our little questions. Like any loving father, He just wants to spend time with us. He wants to be so much more than a big spiritual wallet to us. If all we ever do is ask, we are missing out on the healthiest, most stable relationship of our lives. We miss out on truly experiencing God.
Now this last one, this yielding business, I really struggle with this. I suspect many do. “Thy will be done” is so easy to say, but so much harder for me to put into practice. Yielding means letting go of expectations. Yielding means trusting that God knows what’s best, that He is big enough and powerful enough, that He is good and loving. Yielding means praising our Father no matter the outcome. It means praising Him when we cannot see His hand at work. It means praising Him and trusting that He is working all things for good even when it seems our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. If repentance is where we break, yielding is where God rebuilds us, but we HAVE to let Him! Yielding is where we get out of God’s way and just let the Master work! Can you imagine if clay fought in the potter’s hands? If paint wouldn’t stay on the brush long enough to become a masterpiece? Yielding is life, friends, and I forget to do it! We can ask and repent until we’re blue in the face, but if we are not willing to accept God’s “No’s,” His “Not Yet’s,” and His “Father Knows Best and That Ain’t It’s,” then we miss out on healing. We miss out on the greatest love story of our lives. We miss prosperity, peace, and great joy. We miss being a part of something great, something bigger than ourselves. Yielding is absolutely crucial to meeting our full spiritual potential, doing the impossible, knowing God, and I forget to do it! Or I just resist! I hold onto my own desires, stamp my foot and demand my own way. Does that ever work? Would you do me a favor? Would you pray for me? And tell me how I can pray for YOU. Where are you hurting? What are you struggling with? What has God done in your life lately?
Today I was finally able to say goodbye to my best friend. It was the most painful thing I have ever, ever done. I don’t know what I am going to do without her, but life goes on. It’s been ten months since we last hugged, laughed, shared a meal. I can picture my life going on without her in it now; it’s like a piece of myself is missing, and the phantom pains will linger a long time. But today – I cannot even say this out loud because it catches in my throat – today, I dressed the wound. I did not want to, but I cannot live raw forever. No one can. I felt for so long that to say goodbye, to acknowledge The End, would be to betray the decade we spent as sisters, to break a promise. She leaves a hole that, right now, I don’t even want to fill. That is Her Spot, and always will be. I will always love you, my dearest friend. Goodbye.
This is exactly what I needed today. God always knows exactly what we need. Sorry I have been absent lately, things have been super crazy. My dad had a temporary lapse of sanity, the whole family has been sick, etc. But I’m still around. Catch up with you soon, blogosphere.
Welp, here’s another post about that delightful menopause for you.
I’ve written before about nursing my youngest through menopause, and that my milk supply had taken a substantial hit. It has finally recovered a small amount, and seems to have stabilized. The baby is still not happy, but the small return has definitely been welcome.
And now, a little biology lesson for you. Fat cells produce a small amount of estrogen. They also store small amounts. The larger the fat cells, the more estrogen they produce and store. It is common for nursing mothers’ bodies to “hang on” to a few stubborn pounds (anywhere from 5-15, occasionally as many as 20). This is in case of a starvation emergency, so that the mother can still nourish her child for a longer time. For many mothers, these few nursing pounds simply will not go until the baby weans, regardless of diet or exercise. For other mothers, the pounds may come off with a strict diet, but her milk supply takes a noticeable hit. Once her milk starts to go, those few extra pounds tend to just melt right off. For mothers who retained a larger number of stubborn pounds, a few may come off slowly as the milk begins to dry up, then the last 5 or so will come off quickly once milk production ceases entirely.
As my milk goes, I am losing a pound or two here and there. This releases some of that stored estrogen into my blood stream. You may remember I had to have my ovaries out due to a severe estrogen allergy, so this is unpleasant for me, to say the least. I break out in hives, experience joint pain and muscle aches, migraines, nausea, and loss of appetite. Of course, I experience worse menopausal symptoms as well: irritability, weakness, fatigue, brain fog, sleep disruptions. Thanks to that lovely brain fog, I don’t have a good way to end this post, but uh… here. Have a post. That feels so dorky, but I like to try and keep things real.
Please don’t just FEEL something when you read this. DO something. Do ANYTHING. If you are able, donate some cash. Any amount, even a dollar, LITERALLY just a buck, can help. Write a letter to encourage a survivor. It only takes a moment of your time, and it’s free. If you are a praying person, pray. Take a moment right now. If you think you might be able to do more, get in touch with bishopoutreach.org. They can use whatever talents or abilities you have.
It’s funny. When I first started working with Bishop and the team, I prepared myself mentally and spiritually for a lot of things. I prepared myself to …
- Be angry (even enraged) on behalf of the people being victimized by traffickers
- Be hurt (cut to the bone) as my heart ached for those being trafficked
- Be disillusioned by a system that is struggling to keep up with the bad guys, knowing that the system has rules and regulations to follow and the bad guys make it up as they go
- Feel “let down” by people who either a.) don’t get it b,) don’t believe human trafficking goes on here in our “safe” country or c.) talk a good game about all they’ll do to help and then do nothing because the sun came up and their own kids stayed safe so it moved out of their minds.
What I did…
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Good things to ask yourself.
With so many becoming victims of the various abuses, sometimes we just need to post reminders of the warning signs to help people identify the signs and avoid these abusive relationships. Remember that many abusers can be very deceitful with their words, but their actions will speak louder than their words. Watch how they act. Do not be deceived.
Warning Signs of Abuse
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This is related to anxiety, and I know many mothers deal with it to some extent. I have lived with it most of my life. Here’s an example of what an anxiety attack with catastrophic thinking looks like for me.
I have a migraine. If I am stuck alone with the children, I sincerely do not know if I can keep them safe, change the baby, feed them when they’re hungry… I really don’t think I can take care of these kids today. But I can’t ask my husband to stay home from work because we need the money desperately, and he will think I’m just not trying hard enough because other people go to work with migraines, and he will leave me. He’ll take the children and the baby will be in day care. She’ll scream for me at night.
And that’s as vulnerable as I can manage right now. There you have it folks, and when this is happening in my brain it does not sound ridiculous, it sounds totally credible and awful. After an attack I regain perspective, but during it feels like drowning.
I DO want to reclaim “beautiful.” And I hope, one day, we can.
Every two or three days, I see an article or blog post or forwarded inspirational quote about beauty. It’s usually something affirming like
“You are beautiful, whether you know it or not.”
“We are all beautiful.”
“Everyone is beautiful to somebody.”
It’s cheerful stuff. It builds the self-esteem, makes people feel valued, and spreads joy and happiness across the internet.
It’s also bullshit.
And you know it’s bullshit, because you really wanted to laugh at that picture.
Everyone is not beautiful. Some people have tumors the size of a second head growing out of their ears. Some people have skin like the Michelin man. Some people lose fingers, legs, or eyes in horrific assembly-line machine accidents. People have warts and blemishes and hair loss and dead teeth and lazy eyes and cleft palates and third nipples and unibrows.
There are plenty of people that are not physically appealing to look at, the…
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What human trafficking really looks like. It is not a shiny pretty cause. It is real people, just like you and me, experiencing evils that most of us cannot comprehend. And this woman is a powerful picture of what God can do when there is NOTHING man can do to heal.
I was speaking at an anti trafficking prayer event. My face is blurred to protect my identity, from those who desire to keep me silent. I speak and write, first to empower others to hold on and keep fighting and then to inspire and challenge the church to pursue Christ boldly, despite life circumstances.
I pray that my story pierces your heart and stirs something deep within that takes the plight of trafficking victims from the cold statics so often quoted to something personal – compelling you to learn more and make changes starting with yourself.