Nothing???

I just finished writing one post, but I think that the gap in my postings to prior to that has made me especially verbose today.  I was sitting here continually thinking of other things I wanted to say.  However, none of them really made sense in the context of my first post of the day (which was already jumbled enough), so I decided that for the first time ever, you get 2 posts in one day.  Are you excited yet?  It’s like winning the lottery, right?  OK, well, maybe not, but just humor me.

In my first post, I stated that I was hoping a day of “nothing” would recharge my immune system because I felt like I was fighting off a cold or something.  In retrospect, “nothing” is not at all a word that I think I can use for what I did today.  I was quite productive actually. 

I looked at jobs on-line for a while.  I do this every so often, just to see if I am missing any exciting work opportunities.  Alway open to a change you know. 

Then, I decided I was going to do some cooking.  I have had ideas of what I wanted to cook with my CSA box of vegetables this week brewing since I picked them up on Thursday, so I researched the particular vegetables I had, got some recipes, and went to it.  It’s good for me to cook a lot when I have a day off so that I can have the leftovers to take with me to work.  I try to only eat my own (organic) food, and I am more successful at this if I don’t have to rush to think of something I can make with tomatoes and bell peppers at 7 in the morning.  I can immediately feel a physical difference if I start eating other food now that I have basically been off of it for a while.  I start feeling worse almost immediately.  Thanks to God for impressing me to go all organic. 

Well, I had lofty plans with my cooking today, and it all turned out wonderfully.  I didn’t really mean to when I started, but it ended up being like the meal to see how many vegetables I could use at once.  Here’s the inventory of what I used:

Two butternut squash, two delicata squash, one spaghetti squash, nine tomatoes, four bell peppers, one eggplant, two onions and two cloves of garlic.  Of course, I used other things…that’s just the vegetable list.  I made a delectable Delicata Squash & Bell Pepper Casserole, a superb Spaghetti Squash with Homemade Tomato Sauce and then for dessert – a brilliant Butternut Squash Meringue Pie with homemade crust.  Yes, you read correctly.  Think pumpkin…it’s really OK.  I was confused at first when presented with the idea, myself.  But a pumpkin is really just a big squash.  My Butternut Squash Meringue Pie is quite delicious.  I don’t even like Pumpkin Pie…it’s better than that. 

And I have to tell you, if you’ve never had spaghetti squash, it is a thing you should try.  I had never cooked it before last month, and it’s pretty amazing stuff.  If you don’t know the scoop on it, you cook it, and then scrape out the insides with a fork.  It comes out in strands, and you use it exactly like you would use spaghetti noodles.  It’s very tasty. 

So, for lunch, I had a main dish (delicata squash) with a “pasta” side (spaghetti squash) and a dessert (butternut squash).  Squash, squash and squash for lunch?  All I have to say is that I marvel the versatility of vegetables.  I really never imagined how interesting they can be before this year.  There was not the hint of monotony in my meal. 

After lunch, I spent a while hunting places to live on the internet, and contacting the possibilities.  Yes, I am going to be moving here pretty soon.  I even went to view one place today, but it was a no-go, I think. 

And now I am writing this.  So, that was my day of nothing. 

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Virtually Symptom Free

I realized yesterday that I had not written to update the status of my physical state since I discussed the acknowledgement of God’s power over the physical as well as the spiritual.  If anyone wants a reference for what what we’re talking about here, check out my Technical Difficulties  and my Last Lesson from “Captivating” posts. 

When writing those posts, I had been battling overwhelming physical symptoms in a lot of random areas, to the point that I was worried they were about to become debilitating.  A few of my symptoms at that point had been going on for years, but this year a lot of fun additions had been occuring, and rapidly worsening for several months. 

Through the lessons mentioned in the other referenced posts, I had started treating each physical symptom as a spiritual attack, immediately claiming the power of Christ’s sacrifice and the authority that He gave us over evil, in addition to praying to God for healing.  I know this sounds crazy…especially if you’re not a Christian.  But Christ did give His followers authority over evil, and our skeptical society has caused even Christians to roll their eyes at this kind of talk.  When you begin to speak of demons purposefully causing people pain and suffering, people start dismissing you off-hand.  Well, dismiss me if you like, but I know what I know.  I know that before I started rebuking the power of evil in Jesus’ name and asking God for healing, I had been feeling worse and worse for months.  And I know that after I started doing this, my symptoms went on a dramatic down-swing, and are now all but gone.  I no longer have the shooting pains in my head, the terrible headaches, the dizzy spells, the blurred vision, the tremors, the twitches, the fatigue, the random other pains or any of the many other crazy things I had going on.  The only lingering symptom is one I have had since I was a teenager (general body aches) and it’s even decreased. 

I know that there is an extreme this can be taken to, and someone could read this and take it to mean that if we just had enough faith and prayed enough, we could get rid of all of the bad things in our lives.  It could be interpreted that I’m saying there’s a demon under every rock, hiding our keys from us and making us sick.  I don’t think this…I think that discernment is gained through prayer and intimacy with God.  Only through maintaining a relationship with Him can you know if something is a spiritual attack or just plain life happening.  I think most of us take this to the other extreme, though, and treat nothing as a spiritual attack.  When we do this, we deny God’s power and allow Satan a stronghold to get working on.  We just live in our trouble, not realizing we have been given the authority to get out of it.

I’m feeling like I’m saying words that are not strong enough to convey how important I think this is, and like I’m not really getting my point across or like I’m leaving something out.  I’m not sure.  I just wanted to give God the glory publicly for my healing.

I also want to say that I think there was a lot that went into this healing.  My boyfriend had been praying for me rigorously, and had been encouraging me to do the same for months before God opened my eyes to the spiritual implications of my physical problems.  I also wrote my Technical Difficulties post before I came to this kind of understanding.  I think there were many factors necessary for all of it to occur.    I’ll mention things that I know were definitely all necessary, but I cannot exclude the fact that there are probably tons of other miniscule things that had to happen.  Consider this a skeleton list.  First, someone else praying for me with a belief that I did not have at that point.  Second, my opening up about my difficulties and being humbled by asking for help.  Third, listening to God’s voice when urged to read a book that I did not have any interest in reading, which led to the breakdown in my mental blinders to God’s power.  Fourth, acting on this newly rejuvenated faith with constant prayer.  And the fifth, I believe, is no less important…giving God the props for it. 

Here’s to You, God.

Last Lesson from “Captivating”

OK, so we’re almost done talking about this book.  I think.  The third major perspective change I got has to do with spiritual warfare as it pertains to the physical world.  I know when you start talking about spiritual warfare, some people tend to look at you crazy…the thought that there could actually be demons attacking and angels defending us seems a little out there.  I’ll just say that I am a firm believer in it, and think that the devil is out to thwart our growth and God’s plan for us at every turn.  I think I’ve had this mental block, though…a block that made me think that only spiritual things are attacked spiritually, and physical things are just, well, as they are.  So, I would generally only pray spiritual prayers.  “Lord, teach me patience.  Guide me in my decisions.  Show me how to be like You.”  Rarely, if ever, would I allow my prayers to overlap into the physical realm, as in, “Lord, help me find a new job.  Give me more energy today.  Heal me of my sickness.” 

A compartmentalization of God…I guess I forgot all of the miracles He worked both in the persona of God in the Old Testament and in the flesh of Jesus Christ in the New.  Well, last week I mentioned all of my physical symptoms in my Technical Difficulties blog.  I won’t list them again, but my point is that I had never seriously prayed about them.  My boyfriend has been trying to get me to see it this way for a couple of months…to see my healing as something to pray diligently for; even that this is something God has allowed in me in order to teach us how to pray as my symptoms have worsened.  I had been praying about it at his prompting, but I don’t think I had much belief that it could affect a change.  I think he started me down the road, and that is why I asked for prayers last week.  But the real shift in my mindset did not occur until after I wrote that blog, as I was finishing up “Captivating,” by John and Stasi Eldredge.  Stasi is writing at this point, and talks about a book on spiritual warfare that she was reading.  The book was called “Bondage Breakers,” by Neil Anderson.  I don’t know anything about that book except what she says.  She says that in the book she was reading, it tells a story about a woman who had dizzy spells.  This woman began reacting to her dizzy spells as if they were a spiritual attack, commanding authority over them in Jesus name, and her dizzy spells stopped.  Stasi says that when she read this, she told her husband that she had dizzy spells, too, which he did not know as she had never mentioned it.  She decided to begin responding to hers in the same way this woman did.  She says that at first they worsened, but she kept praying every time.  And then she had one so bad that she fell down, and she prayed anyway.  And it was the last dizzy spell she ever had. 

It really was like God put this story in here just for me.  I don’t even think if He had used any other symptom, it would’ve had the same effect.  My dizziness is the newest severe symptom…I never really had these dizzy spells until this year.  It’s also the one that seems to be getting the worst the fastest.  A couple of weeks ago, I had one while I was driving and had to slam on the brakes (there were no other cars) because I thought I might drive off the road if I didn’t.  That was the worst one I’d ever had, and it really worried me.  How could I make a living if I couldn’t drive?  Two days later I read this story.  My dizzy spells a spiritual attack?  This was a new concept to me.  It broke down the mental block I mentioned earlier, relegating God to His spiritual realm in my mind.  It reminded me of something I should already know: that just because something manifests physically does not mean it can’t have spiritual roots. 

I’ve heard a fable before about a man who was drowning.  The man began to pray for God to save him.  Just after he prayed, a boat came by.  They tried to help, but he waved them on, “No, I’m waiting for God to save me.”  Then a rescue helicopter flew up.  “No, I’m waiting for God to save me,” he said.  This man prayed for God to help him out of a physical situation, but then expected supernatural means.  If I were the man, with the mindset I was hanging on to before this shift, I would have been praying, “Lord, help me be OK with drowning.  Help me handle it with grace. ”  Not a bad prayer, but just a little incomplete, if you actually believe God can keep you from drowning at all. 

After I read this, I was discussing it with my mom.  She, in turn, told me a story about a woman who was going to volunteer where she works (a Christian non-profit agency).  The lady had gone through her volunteer training, and was scheduled to start her weekly volunteer shift, but she woke up that morning, and her son had a 104 degree fever.  He didn’t have any other symptoms, but they still rushed him to the emergency room.  The doctors didn’t find anything wrong with him.  They sent them home, and, in a couple of hours, the fever was gone.  Her son was fine the rest of the week.  At least until the next time she was scheduled to volunteer, and then suddenly, her son came down with another 104 degree fever.  No other symptoms.  Doctors couldn’t find anything wrong.  Three weeks in a row this happened only on the day she was supposed to go volunteer.  After the third week, the woman directing the center at the time told this lady that she thought it was a spiritual attack.  She told her next time, just to pray, and come on in anyway.  The following week, the son did have the fever again, but the woman prayed, and went on to volunteer.  The fevers never recurred.  Clearly, Satan will use any method he believes effective in keeping us down, keeping us immobile, keeping us inert. 

I am not pronouncing God a magic charm for healing or for anything else, but I am now acknowledging His power in all areas.  I think that sometimes it is beyond our comprehension why we may not get prayers answered, but I don’t think He ever meant for us to not pray them, whatever the subject.  I have been praying, since this, every time I have a single symptom, for God to protect me, to heal me, and for Satan to stop trying to defeat me.  And I’ve felt better.  The symptoms have not disappeared, but they have been noticably more infrequent and less severe.  You can say whatever you want about placebo effects and the power of positive thinking.  I’ve tried the power of positive thinking before and it didn’t do a darn thing.  God’s doing something…not the least of which is teaching me about His power and His love. 

Community Shared Agriculture and Thanks

I have to thank my friend Jody for bringing Community Shared Agriculture back under my radar.  I read an article on it in the newspaper early spring, but completely forgot about checking into it after that.  So, last week I get an e-mail with a form attached for signing up.  Way cool.  If you don’t know, Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) is basically a “subscription” to whatever is grown at a local farm.  The farm I signed up for grows organic vegetables and a few fruits as well.  This farm (called Eco-Gardens) allows you to order a full or half share…a full share is half a bushel and a half share is a quarter bushel, which is plenty for me.  It’s reasonably priced, too.  I would definitely spend more money buying a quarter bushel of organic vegetables at the local store.  Not to mention, I don’t have to shop.  On the sign-up form, there is a list of what these guys grow, and you rate how much you want (or if you want none), and each week your quarter bushel shows up w/ something.  Woo hoo!  It’s gonna be like a surprise package every week!  I’m really stoked about this; can you tell?  For someone who doesn’t like to shop (ME!), this is great.  I don’t have to go decide what vegetables I get, I just go get whatever I get.  So, this isn’t just a local thing…these CSA’s are all over the place.  Mine supplies vegetables for 26 weeks…that’s half the year.  Not bad.  So, if you like supporting local agriculture and prefer to get fresh vegetables or are trying to eat organically with a little bit less expense, I encourage looking into it.  I’m excited to figure out how to cook spaghetti squash when that comes in….hmmm.  And also interested in how they get watermelon to fit in a quarter bushel. 

 And for anyone who read my last blog and is praying for me, thanks.  I have actually felt like a person the last 2 days, and although my human reaction is to say, “Well, the severity of it was probably on the way out anyway,” I know that’s just Satan’s argument because he wants me to deny God’s power.  While my symptoms have not disappeared, they have gone back to being manageable.  So, thanks for praying.  And also you don’t have to stop if you don’t want to.  

Technical Difficulties…in a couple of ways

So, I’ve had a blog in my drafts for three days…I’m trying to put 6 or 7 pictures in it, and this being my first effort towards this, I have had a bit of a time.  I can put them all in there, but I can’t make them sit where I want them to sit.  Instead of appearing where I put them, they all line up horizontally out into the middle of nowhere off of your screen when I preview it.  I’ll figure it out eventually, but this is the reason nothing new or “significant” has appeared.  I’ve been having my own personal “technical difficulties” as well in that I haven’t been feeling so great, and whereas usually I would have probably spent the time to figure it out by now, I have just been going to bed when I get sick of trying.  If there are any Pray-ers out there, I wouldn’t shun a few prayers coming my way.  I don’t like to complain, but maybe it’s good for the soul to ask for help, and I KNOW it’s good for everything to get prayers, so here’s what you can pray for.  I don’t have any officially diagnosed illness, because I’ve never bothered to try and get diagnosed.  I’ve seen people go through diagnoses for random, seemingly unrelated symptoms like I have, and it is a long, frustrating, expensive and often fruitless process.  They get diagnosed with Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which are basically untreatable, so what’s the point of getting diagnosed?  They are basically just words for the medical world to admit that you have the symptoms you claim you have.  For me, it is frequent muscle aches, headaches and dizziness sometimes accompanied by difficulty to focus, heart palpitations, muscle twitches that keep me awake at night, shakiness, muscle cramps.  All of these range from mild to severe and are completely unpredictable as to when they will come and go, and are just the common ones.  On any given day, I may have all of these or a combination of random other symptoms.  This week it has been back, foot and joint pain in addition to these and accompanied by extremely low energy levels.  I went to bed at 6:30 Tuesday night, and still took a nap when I got home from work on Wednesday.   I don’t talk about this stuff because I feel that people will think I am a hypochondriac or I am trying to get attention.  I look healthy.  I’m young – I’m strong.  Lately, it just seems they are worsening, and it takes a lot of my emotional energy just to maintain a level of non-descript mellow-ness, which I think can be interpreted as disinterest or laziness or disdain.  I’m not sure how to combat this.  (For those of you who know me, you know that I am not really an excitable person to begin with, so for me to say I’m mellow, it’s getting pretty extreme!)  So, here’s me asking for your prayers.  It’s hard for me to be weak in front of people.  I like to have it all together.  But I can’t see your faces, and I guess that makes it easier, which is sad, and I know not how it is supposed to be in God’s plan.  God would have us support each other face to face and confess our weaknesses so that we can be strengthened.  I’m not blaming anyone else, it’s ME who wants to be strong.  No one else is making me.  Thanks for listening.