Category Archives: Inspiration

What’s that guy’s name again?

Martin Luther King Jr.

*I wrote this post three years ago and found myself smiling fondly today as I reflected on why today matters… brave love.*

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It’s another no-school Monday, which means my kids unpack the extra bag of crazies they’ve been saving for me (funny how full it gets in a short amount of time–didn’t we just have Christmas break?). It’s a bit overwhelming and inconvenient,  to say the least, but this morning my six-year old son served up side dose of perspective in the midst of the rambunctiousness.

Driving back home from the grocery store, he initiated the following conversation:

Sean: “Mom? What’s that guy’s name again?”

Me: “What guy?”

Sean: “That guy for why we don’t have school today. What is that guy’s name?”

Me: *pleasantly surprised he knew there was specific reason for why there was no school* “Oh. His name is Martin Luther King Jr.”

Sean: “Why did they shot him?”

Me: “Hmmm… well, honey because there were people who didn’t like what he believed. He believed in human equality.”

Sean: “Oh. They didn’t like his words.”

Me: “No, they didn’t like his words, but we should always remember his words and honor him. Martin Luther King was a very good and honorable man who fought for what he believed.”

Sean: “We shouldn’t shoot people. That’s not nice.”

Me: “You’re right honey. It’s not okay to shoot people.”

Sean: “Yeah it’s not nice.”

Then it was over. He turned to his little sister, “Haley you are a fart-booger.”

Awesome.

The chaos and crazy aside, Sean reminded me of why we honor this day; he gave me the opportunity  to articulate the meaning of the day not just for his curious and growing mind, but for my own spirit too.

Today we recognize a man whose activism for civil rights was anchored in a genuine and profound love for people. For me, Martin Luther King serves as an inspiration of brave love… a man who chose to battle hate from the front lines without fear and empowered others to do the same.  His legendary words of wisdom, and acts of leadership will be forever honored and admired without fade.

“Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.” ~Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

Goodbye, Martha

Spokane at night: courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Spokane at night: courtesy Wikimedia Commons

My dietitian is moving back home to Spokane, WA. This is a very big deal. I didn’t think it was at first. I was happy to hear that God was speaking into Martha’s life, as to what the next steps in the Plan were for her and that she was listening. She never wanted to move back to her hometown.

Here’s the first lesson: never say “never” with God because he’s likely to stick you smack in the middle of where you declare you’ll never go.

I once told God I would never ask for healing for my anorexia because the disease kept me close to Him. (Conveniently it also kept me skinny.) Nine months later I found myself in anorexia rehab, specifically sitting in Martha’s office.

You guys, I am not being dramatic when I say Martha is half the team that saved my life. When I sat in Martha’s office on November 3, 2014, I was dying. I had no idea how close to death I was, of course, but Martha did. She was so tender and understanding with me, simply listening to my story. Despite all the tragic details in my thoughts, behaviors and attitudes about food and my body, I didn’t want to be there in that office with Martha. I didn’t trust her. I believed she was there to make me fat.

Martha wasn’t offended. She didn’t turn her back on me or chastise me. Instead, she listened and asked me sensitive questions and offered grace. Never once did she judge me, tell me that my thoughts and behaviors were wrong or “bad,” or warn me that I was dying. Instead she developed a meal plan for me. Because I was starving and her first priority was to feed me.

The re-feeding process was arduous and painful, not because of Martha, but because my body didn’t know what to do with the food I was feeding it. My metabolism was severely damaged. It would take almost eight more weeks of eating on my plan before my metabolism even “turned on” again, and several more months before it was healed and working properly. The whole time, Martha was by my side listening to my laments, my confusion, and my bewailing in response to the physical side effects and emotional turmoil that came with eating again. She answered my questions, explained what my body was doing, and helped me understand that even though I had completely disconnected from my body and tried to kill it (my words, not hers), my body was trying to protect me to keep me alive. My body was working really hard to get better.

It's not a program. Or a lifestyle change. Its tapping back into your innate ability to feed yourself well.

It’s not a program. Or a lifestyle change. Its tapping back into your innate ability to feed yourself well.

In the midst of this process, Martha introduced me to the idea of intuitive eating. I’ll never forget the day she told me I could “trust my body.” I had bought in so deeply, even went into debt, on the notion that my body was bad and all the food I had been eating or wanted to eat was bad. Our culture teaches that food can’t be trusted and our bodies are not okay unless we strictly control them. We’re taught that we have to restrict what we eat, how much we eat, when we eat, how we eat, and how often we eat. This is why we have 14,000 different diets to choose from. On top of that, culture says we should concentrate on exercise to burn the calories and the fat and the carbs. Not only do we need to burn off the food, but we should also be sculpting and toning and chiseling our bodies into “that” perfect shape.

So when Martha said, “Your body knows what it’s doing. It knows what you need and what to do with. But it requires that you first listen to what your body is telling you and then to trust your body to do what it does once you give it what it needs and wants,”– this was revolutionary thinking for me. And refreshing. And terrifying. (Read more about intuitive eating here) Oh and exercise? Yes, of course. But do so for the joy of the movement, not for the burn.

In March of this year I had fully transitioned out of my re-feeding meal plan and into intuitive Healthyandwelleating. It’s a long process learning how to trust my body, but my body and mind have never been healthier than it is today. Is my brain completely healed yet? No. It’s getting there. Is my body healed and healthy? Yes! (It isn’t fat either. And I eat carbs… and sugar. And fat. So there.)

I have Martha to thank and a good God who deserves the glory!

Martha was a God-send for me. Literally. I was dying; God sent Martha to bring me back to life. So it is a big deal that she is leaving now. I am sad she that she has to go; I am scared to not have her by my side as I continue navigating my recovery. But Martha has set me up for continued and life-long health (not mention advocacy for intuitive eating). There are people in Spokane who need her now; I respectfully and prayerfully say goodbye knowing she’s in the hands of  mighty God who has special plans for her life and the lives of the people she’ll encounter.  I trust God to stay by my side through the rest of my recovery (I still have my therapist, Tamara, who is the other half of the team that saved my life!).

Martha and I and my children did a radio interview with Rose City Forum about intuitive eating.

Martha and I and my children did a radio interview with Rose City Forum about intuitive eating.

Listen to the interview here: http://recordings.talkshoe.com/rss134258.xml

The girl who paid for my groceries

Basket of Groceries

As my sweet daughter finished unloading our groceries onto the conveyor belt, I rummaged around my oversized purse to find my wallet. In a sharp sting of realization, I knew my search was futile. I had left my wallet back at home. I pictured my bright orange wallet resting on the living room floor next to my laptop, right where I left it the night before after ordering the book Unoffendable by Brant Hansen.

“Oh no,” I moaned.

“What’s wrong?” my seven-year-old asked.

“I left my wallet at home,” I said, scanning the load of groceries on the counter. “Ugh. I can’t believe I did that.”

“Uh oh, mommy. What are we going to do?”

“We’re just going to have to tell the checkout lady the truth and come back another day. Ugh. What a waste.”

My gut felt heavy and my spirit frustrated.

The young girl ahead of me finished her transaction and the checker grabbed the first item of our stuff.

“Um. Wait just a sec, ma’am,” I held my hand over the food to stop her, “I don’t have my wallet. I left it at home; all this will have to go back. I am so sorry.”

The young girl before me, who looked maybe no more than 18 or 19 years old, (and who I figured was off for an afternoon at the pool with her freshly purchased Poptarts, Cheez-its, Peach Snapple, and two apples), promptly stepped back over to the check stand: “Can I buy your groceries?”

Erm… blank stare.

“What? No, no. You don’t need to do that. That is so nice of you. That’s okay, though.” I said, dumbfounded.

She looked at me square in the eye, “Please, I want to.”

I had no words and the swell of emotion in my chest was threatening to push tears out of my eyes. “If you really want to. If you’re sure,” I responded weakly.

“Yes. Please let me. Go ahead…,” she made a nod to the checkout lady, who was clearly just as surprised and touched as I was.

As the items beeped through, I stood there feeling helpless and humbled and bewildered and thankful. This teen girl was buying my groceries. So I did what any mom would do in this situation, I began to cry.

I felt a light stroke on my arm; I looked down at my daughter who looked up at me with her toothless grin. “It’s okay, mommy.”

The teen girl (I didn’t even think to get her name), smiled and repeated, “Yeah. It’s okay. No need to cry.”

I couldn’t help it. I was so moved and flabbergasted. As the bill pushed the $40 mark, I turned and said, “Are you sure you want to do this, it might be expensive.”

“Yep. Not a worry.”

The bill was $42 and change. She handed over her Visa and it was done. I gave this young woman a hug of thanks and offered her blessings. Then she walked away and was gone.

The checker looked at me with a big smile. “Hey, it’s okay,” she said, “It happens. We forget our wallets. No biggie. Just be happy.”

“Okay, thank you.”

As I drove home in silence, I went to God in prayer of thanks. But then fell into the following conversation with Him:

“Why did you do that, Lord? I don’t deserve having my groceries paid for. I don’t need the help like others do.”

This isn’t about need. It is about love.

love“But I feel like I took a blessing away from someone who really needed it.”

This isn’t about need. It is about love. My love is unconditional. 

“How would you like me to pay it forward? If I receive a blessing, I should bless others too.”

How do you know I wasn’t blessing you because of how you’ve already blessed others?

“I don’t know. I just don’t feel like I deserve this, Lord.”

Let Me love you.

“But…”

Let Me love you.

I had prayed to God early this same morning, as I do everyday, for a wise and humble heart.

And I waited, as I do every day, for humiliation… to be humiliated.

Today I learned the difference between humiliation and humility. Humiliation brings shame, and God promises we won’t ever be brought to shame. Grace, an overflowing of undeserved favor, brings humility. I was humbled in a gentle yet powerful way… I have money to buy my groceries and even groceries for others, except today. Today I had nothing. It was literally by the grace of God, the Spirit prompting humble love in a fellow human–a teen no less–that I was able to go home with my groceries. He’s teaching me how to accept grace. To develop a humble heart, I have to learn how to accept grace. I don’t deserve it. I don’t earn it. I don’t need to pay it back. It’s a no-strings-attached gift. In letting Him love me through His grace, I experience the humility I desire.

This is how God works, friends! This is how awesome His love is for us.

Let Him love you.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another.” John 1:16

Exposing the heart of all that matters

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In my last post, I lamented about how God is asking me to surrender my perfectionism. It turns out that I am not really a perfectionist, rather perfectionism is a shield I built to ward off feelings of shame when I’m just being me.

Using my experience at the Shattering Stigma conference, I told you that I wasn’t prepared. I gave my presentation without notes–without organizing my “stuff” into a presentable and tidy speech with bullet points.

I lied (without realizing it).

I was prepared. I was prepared because I had prayed, sought words and ideas through Scripture, and heard the voice of the Holy Spirit in my heart. God had prepared my heart for the day. I gave a presentation from my heart but my trust was fully immersed in notes that didn’t exist. If God lives in my heart, then I can trust God will shine through me–not my notes. Or PowerPoint. Or anything else I squeeze nice and neat into a box.

This is what I was trying to say but failed to make clear that point. I apologize.

But guess what? While this is a very valuable lesson in spiritual growth for me and an incredible step in my relationship with Christ, none of this is about me.

Did you catch the platform upon which God was teaching me? Shattering Stigma with Stories: Mental Health and the Church. He placed me with a group of other people at an event where the whole point is to be 100% vulnerable, raw, and transparent about how not perfect life is.

This conference was not about me and losing my shield of perfectionism. This conference was about shattering the stigma that shields the community from connecting with those living with mental illness. 

  • This day was about the Allen family bravely sharing their story about Andrew, a son, grandson, brother, and brother-in-law who has been battling bipolar disorder since he was in the eighth grade.Allen Family
  • This day was about a highly educated professional, Dr. Rand Michael, revealing that no amount of education or skill will ever prepare us for the beauty, challenges, and lessons we’ll experience with mental illness. Dr. Michael
  • This day was about a wife, Kelcey, living with both bipolar and schizoaffective disorder, describing how her husband has loved her “in sickness” through psychosis, mania, and suicide attempts (not because she wanted to die but because voices instructed her to).IMG_20150530_134724867_HDR (1)
  • This day was about an aunt, Tara, with nieces who suffer severe mental illnesses and how loving them fiercely wasn’t enough to make them all better.
  • This day was about moms, Tess and Casey, who battle depression and anxiety while learning how to best love their kids and navigate the journey of raising families.

Every single story was raw in honesty and emotion about why mental illness is hard and how we’ve experienced the stigma from our communities. Every single story showed what healing looks like. Every single story showed how God has made himself known in the battle despite the lack of confidence we and/or our families have felt in our journeys.

Loving God is hard when you live with the challenges of mental illness because it’s hard to know if He’s really there. Yet every story showed that it’s through love of people that God makes himself most obviously present. 

Stigmas and stereotypes act as protective barriers against understanding people who are difficult to love. For God, no one is too hard to love. We have to break down the barriers to love like God. In doing so, we show the love of God to people who believe they don’t matter. Love is the heart of all that matters.

In the name of Jesus and for the sake of shattering stigma, I proudly present to you my imperfect, note-free shattering stigma story:

*Conference photos courtesy of Sovann Pen; special thanks to my sister-friend Kelcey Rockhold for recording my talk.

Why Prayer Doesn't Work

 

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Prayer is not an ointment. You don’t just rub it on when something is wrong.

Prayer is not a perfume. You don’t put it on to make the aroma of Christian life sweeter and more pleasing.

Prayer doesn’t “work” because it isn’t an application for problem solving or an item on a checklist for “proper function.”

Prayer is, rather, like the life-line for a complete blood transfusion. It’s an internally-intense, delicate, and aggressive means to changing life entirely. It’s an intentional practice of surrendering the body, spirit, and mind so the power of God can flow through to clear out infection and refill the emptiness with the blood of Life.

I don’t always feel like I know how to pray. Like the intravenous tube, so thin, tiny, and narrow, that carries blood into the body, my words typically feel feeble–small, thin, insignificant–carrying my prayers up to God. In fact, sometimes I don’t even know what words to pray, and I pray from a book–either straight from the Bible or from Germaine Copeland’s Prayers that Avail Much. Most times, my prayers dribble out like a rocky stream of consciousness, resembling the disjointed yet impassioned monologue of a four-year-old.

Thank God, though, it isn’t words that give power to prayer. It’s faith. I genuinely believe that God can and will answer me because my heart seeks to align with His. My words might be feeble, but it’s the power of my heart that pumps the power of God through the wordy life-line and into whomever or whatever I pray for in my devotion. How does that power work? I don’t know. It’s supernatural. The Holy Spirit, God in spirit form, lives inside my heart. When I drop my (natural) human control and trust the “thing” beyond my humanness to take over, that’s when the power of prayer takes place.

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There is not a prayer too petty or prayer too challenging to lay before God.  At the risk of making you squirmy, I am going to tell you a story.

Not too long ago I had a friend who was suicidal and had turned away from God. I was terrified for her physical life, and I was mourning the loss of her connection with Christ, because that spiritual life-line was imperative to keeping her alive. I prayed everyday that God would please show up in an obvious way to remind her that He was/is indeed with her and that she has purpose through Him.

IMG_20150511_091132 One day, I sat down with my Copeland prayer book, and I prayed for her deliverance from Satan and his demonic forces (that topic needs a separate post on another day. If spiritual warfare makes you squirmy, I know. Just hang with me a minute, okay?) Praying against the dark forces is deep and dangerous. I soaked myself and my family and friends with prayers of protection. Then I stepped into the gap between my friend and God and prayed. I didn’t just say the words; I held up the words with the power of my heart–like a sword. I seethed against the dark dark forces that cloaked my friend’s view of God, and I used God’s Word–from the Bible–to fill my friend and protect her, to lift her back into the safety of the Lord’s hands and restore her faith. It was an intimate, intense, intercessory prayer time.

As the week wore on, my friend’s faith continued to wane. I confess: at times I wondered if my prayer would even “work”; I am human, so my natural tendency is to think that this spiritual stuff is all about me and my efforts. It isn’t. The second I would think that thought, a stronger sense came through, “I trust you, Lord. I know You will bring her back.”

He did.

Last Friday, my friend called me. She told me about the profound, intimate time she had with God that very day, which was humbling and powerful for her. She had been done with Him; she had been angry that people were even praying for her. That all changed on Friday, and the connection with Christ has been reforged. It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with God.

 

Is she all better? No. She is still grieving, battling mental illness, and enduring the journey of deep healing. But the Life-line is reconnected and the process of spiritual transfusion can continue!

Did I do a happy dance and say, “My prayer worked! My prayer worked!” Nope. I got down on my knees and I prayed a tearful and joyful prayer of thanks–“Thank you for saving her, Lord. Thank you for catching her. Strengthen her bond with You. Thank you for answering my pleas. Thank you for answering her family’s pleas. You are faithful and miraculous. Wow!”

Prayer is not an ointment. We don’t apply it on our life to stop the itch of things uncomfortable. Prayer is the infusion line by which God’s power is pumped into our lives. It’s internal, delicate, and aggressive. Prayer doesn’t merely work; it’s literally the supernatural pathway for God to hear and respond into our lives .

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” John 5:14

“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:12

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2