Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Three Weeks of Yoga, part one

Well, this is it. Telling this story makes me feel a little nervous, but I'm telling it. It's a significant part of my healing journey.

 I remember a specific day about three weeks before my symptoms began. It stands out in my mind, because it was a day I consciously ignored my conscience. I was standing in Target in the aisle that is most popular in January. You know--the one with hand weights, exercise balls, floor mats and work-out videos. I wanted a DVD that would help my neck and shoulder muscles relax--something that wouldn't make me too sweaty. Yoga would be perfect, I thought. Stretching, relaxing, calming...it would be great! As I studied the backs of all the DVDs, I had the thought that maybe I shouldn't buy one. I knew that yoga was a New Age thing, and I didn't want to do anything "weird", for lack of a better word. But I dismissed my concerns by telling myself that I was only doing it for the exercise and if there were any weird parts, I could just pray during that time or meditate on a Scripture. That sounded plenty reasonable to me, so I started right away.

I really enjoyed it. I liked it so much, I did it every day, twice a day. It made me feel limber and strong and stretchy in a cool way. I liked all the poses and the peacefulness of it all. The instructors said some things I didn't understand, but I just ignored that. I did pray when I remembered to, but mostly I just let my mind be quiet.

Three weeks later, when I started seeing double and going numb, yoga was my first thought, simply because it was the only thing that I had been doing differently in my life. It was natural for me to look for the physical reason for the changes in me, and yoga was what I kept coming back to. I spent a great deal of time googling yoga and my symptoms, wondering if it could somehow be the cause of everything. I could never find what I was looking for. It took quite awhile to get it through my thick skull to stop looking at the physical and start considering the spiritual side. This seemed to be a theme for me during my illness. Every time I got hung up on something, the Lord just kept pointing me back to the spiritual. It is, after all, what's really "real". The things we see with our earthly eyes are facades covering the spiritual realities behind them. And in the spiritual, things are much more black and white. The spiritual realm consists of either good or evil. There is no neutral. It's either of God or Satan. 

It was after I had already started feeling better and was praying about the condition of my heart that the subject of yoga came up again. I felt prompted to do another search, only this time it was about the spiritual side of yoga. I was surprised by what I discovered. And somewhat sickened and creeped out. Okay, a lot sickened and creeped out. I read for hours on the subject and discovered that yoga is not considered merely an exercise except by some in the Western world. In fact, Eastern followers of yoga criticize the Western world for its attempts to separate the spiritual aspect from the physical exercise. Many claim that it cannot be done. It is an impossibility due to the whole concept that yoga is at its very core the uniting of spirit, mind, and body. 

The most unsettling information for me was that the poses themselves are ritualistic offerings to Eastern gods and goddesses. These poses have been offered sacrificially to the gods for many years. And I had been putting myself into these positions twice a day! Maybe I'm just extra-sensitive, but I felt like I had been unknowingly cheating on God! I love Him, and I don't want to do anything that even looks like idol worship. 

This story is too long for one post, so this will be part one. But if you are interested in this topic, here is a good article about a woman who was involved in New Age and yoga for 22 years and then became a Christian. Her point of view is eye-opening.  http://www.cbn.com/health/fitness/bagby_yoga-alternative.aspx.  Please don't think I am trying to tell anyone to stop doing yoga. I just want to share what happened to me. So, part two, comin' up!  

Monday, August 30, 2010

Here's what we've been up to...

since Wednesday...
a little tent-pitching,

some father-son instructing,

a lot of pride in a job well done,

a little friendly bedroll war,
some outdoor cookery,
a lot of fishing line fixing,
some quiet moments of reflection...
and contemplation,
some train riding,
a bit of learning,
some stinky monkey smelling,
a lot of goofing around,
a little sweetness,
some theme park antics,

and a bunch of family togetherness.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Burn the Field!

Congratulations to the hip folks who know David Ingles! Edgeucate, as promised, you now own 650 points. Give them to some deserving teachers or kids at your school. Pagereader, you are sadly and badly wrong about this man being Michael Jackson pre-surgeries, but for making me laugh, you get 325 points. Put them towards something. And Anonymous person!!! What can I say? I am very happy with you. For owning his albums and singing and playing him and quoting a song line, you are the proud owner of 2750 points! I've found an oasis of love with you. And I think I might know who you are. Maybe.

And now on to other matters. In order to work up to my possibly controversial topic, I will tell you about another dream I had. God speaks to me in dreams fairly frequently. Does anyone else experience this? He chose to speak to his people in this way all throughout the Bible. I have to remind myself of that if I ever start to think I'm crazy. I love this verse in Joel: "And afterward, I will pour our my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days"(Joel 2:28-29). I always check my dreams against the Word and make sure they do not contradict it. Otherwise I might be thinking a dream is from God when it was really the fried Spam sandwich and twice-baked potatoes I had the night before. (I don't really eat Spam. I just like to talk about it.)

I've been telling you the story of my physical healing. But really, more than that, this is the story of my flooded heart. Through this journey, God has changed my heart, healed it, shown me things that needed to be removed from it, and flooded it with His light and love. As much as I love feeling well in my body, this heart change means more to me. My heart is that part of me that the Lord is concerned with the most. And any prayer request along the lines of "purify my heart or change my heart or show me the wrong things in my heart" is a prayer request that always gets answered!

These things were on my mind often after my heart encounter with God that day I told you about. You can read about it here if you don't know what I'm talking about http://flooded-heart.blogspot.com/2010/08/undivided-heart.html. One night I had a dream that God asked me the question, "What steps does a farmer take to get to harvest?" I answered, "Um...plow the field, plant the seeds, water them, watch them grow, and harvest the crop." To this He said, "You forgot one." And somehow, I knew what He meant. I said, "Oh yeah...burn the field!" After I woke up and had time to think and pray about this dream, I knew that my heart was the field we had been talking about. 

Why do farmers burn their fields? To get rid of pests, diseases, weeds, and other things that would prevent a healthy crop. If the Lord was wanting to do this in my heart, then that's what I wanted. I felt a little scared about the burning part, but my desire outweighed my fear, so I prayed that He would burn the field of my heart, so that good things could grow in there! This is a prayer that He is answering in different ways, and when I work up the nerve, I will tell you about one of them. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Name That Not Very Famous Person

In a lame attempt to avoid the next part of my story, I will invent a game called "Name That Not Very Famous Person." You may wonder why I do not wish to tell you the next part of my healing story. It is because I am chicken about it. I feel it may be somewhat controversial, so I will avoid that for now. Instead, I will reveal hidden, nerdy things about myself that will prove I could be a sixty-year-old living in a thirty-five-year-old body. 

Okay, ready to play this ridiculous game? I will give you 650 points if you can name this man. You can do whatever you want with the points! Pass them on to your kids for getting their homework done or write yourself a note about the 650 points and put it on the fridge.

So, do you know who he is? Yeah, I didn't think you would. He's only kind of famous. But even though he doesn't know me from Eve, I think of him as my friend. Just a really nice guy who wrote a whole bunch of simple Scripture songs and recorded them in his comforting, friendly voice.

When I was a kid, my dad used to listen to his music often. I had a good childhood, so anything that reminds me of it is comforting and nostalgic in a good way. For me, this man is tangled up with other snippets of my childhood like pink sponge curlers, Lawrence Welk, Prell shampoo, station wagons, and A&W rootbeer.  When I recently got sick, I started listening to this man's albums again. Listening makes me feel like Dad is almost close enough to hug. Yes, the style is very dated and could very well make many people laugh or roll their eyes or even gag a little. BUT...every song he sang was based on a Scripture or Bible passage and the thing about that is, it doesn't go out of style. The Word is always alive and working, so I think that's a big reason why these dated songs still touch my heart and make me smile and feel so loved and safe.

If there is anyone out there besides my sister who knows who he is, I will give you the points and be very happy with you. And if you also know who he is and used to listen to him back in the day, you will get 1250 points! AND, if you know who he is and used to listen to him and still have any of his albums, then you are gonna get upwards of 1850 points!!! I will be really happy about that! Because it will mean I am not alone in my musical nerdiness. And that is always a bonus.  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Unconventional Medicine

Dr. Nice didn't give me any medication. He was not sure that the benefits would outweigh the side effects. So I skipped on home with no one but God to help me. (And isn't He plenty!) I was a happy girl.
No Vitameatavegamin for me. No, sir! That stuff is nasty and it turns a usually refined(haha) woman like Lucy into the laughingstock of the listening audience. "Do you pop out at parties? Are you unpoopular? Well...are you?"

To tell the truth, I had already been taking my medicine for awhile. Yes, I had been taking "Scripture Pills" every day. Sounds weird, right? But to me, it's the best stuff out there. And it's so tasty, too! Even better than Mary Poppins' cherry cordial or rum punch.

Proverbs 4:20-22 says, "My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man's whole body." If God's Word is health to my whole body, then I'll gladly take that medicine every day!

Here's a special favorite of mine for believing in His power to heal: "And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who lives in you" (Romans 8:11). This to me is the ultimate in fabulous benefits that come from following Christ. His Spirit lives within us! And it's the same Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead! When I "take" this verse as medicine, I think of the power it took to bring life back to already dead and decaying cells in Jesus' physical body. And then I think about how wonderful it is that the same Spirit, the same power, is in me! Healing a brain lesion seems like a piece of cake compared to raising a whole dead body doesn't it?

These two verses are just a drop in the bucket of wealth that can be found in the Word of God. I love His Word! It is life to me. I know that most of you reading this feel the same way. But if you have been feeling like the Bible is a dry old piece of literature, I would encourage you to ask the Lord to reveal it to you in a new, fresh way. Ask Him to make it alive and meaningful to you. 

This method of treatment is good for ALL that ails you, physical or otherwise. It comes with a warning, however. It may cause certain side effects, including faith, joy, strength, peace, strong urges to break out in song, love for others, endurance, better sleep at night, and intense cravings for more. But not to worry: it is free and you can take it as often as you like without fear of overdose!   

Saturday, August 21, 2010

We have a winner...

Well, I used my random number generator thingy and the winner is....DeAnna!

DeAnna Alonso said...

ok... so I slowed down to read this awesome post from such a courageous woman. It is rare I get a chance to count the little scars on my kiddos knees, hear the crazy yet hilarious stories from my sweet GiGi and listen to the beautiful sounds of innocent children singing camp songs as we drive down the road. I did today! I slowed down long enough to have the beaming pleasure of watching Darian practice his first game of soccer, hug my children like I have been gone for years and I even had a chance to look up in the sky and stare at the radiant stars. It isn't often I see the good in life. Thank you for a chance to breathe, love and laugh.

Congratulations, DeAnna! You will get your movies in the mail shortly! I hope you can have some good family movie nights together.

And now, to all you other friends who entered my little contest, thank you for playing! It was so fun reading your comments. Some of them made me laugh and some got me a little teary. I'm such a girl that way. I loved all your ideas on slowing down...thanks for sharing. And about the nice words you said to me, I'm kind of embarrassed, but not too embarrassed to call it quits and shut down the whole operation. No, I will keep posting. Even if nobody was reading, it is so good for me to document what God has done in my life. As the psalmist said, "I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds" (Psalm 77:11-12).

Friday, August 20, 2010

Leaping on the Clouds

We homeschool. It is inevitable that 30 seconds after I say, "Okay, kids let's take a short recess," they are up to something like this. They can change clothes faster than a speeding bullet.

Remember that morning when I saw myself in the mirror? Well, this picture is something similar to the way I was feeling. Shortly after, Bob and I hopped in the van to drive to the hospital for my MRI and neurology appointment. Okay, maybe Bob hopped in. I sort of slid in, helping my right leg along. But in my spirit, I was leaping on the clouds! It was all the Lord's doing. He was the one who had been drawing me to Him through all of this, and He was the one who gave me the faith to believe Him. It's just all about Him. Oh, Lord, I don't ever want to try to do anything without You!

Remember the last MRI I had? If not,You can read about it here. Today, nothing could make me nervous about it. Neither could I stop and think about what my doctor might say. I spent the entire trip either reading my current book on healing (with both my eyes) or looking out the window, dreaming about the day that my view would once again be normal. I had to hold the book about 5 inches from my face, but I didn't care! Nothing could wipe my grin away that day.
The MRI was a breeze. If you ever have to have one, thoracic spine is the way to go. No head cage, no thousand pound weight on your chest. With that behind me, Bob and I sat in the car waiting to go in to the doctor's office. Have I ever mentioned how I love that guy? Bob, not the doctor. I don't want to get too sappy, but I'm pretty thankful for him. Before we went in, he prayed. He said, "Lord, no matter what the doctor says today, we are praising you for Rachelle's healing." It kind of reminded me of the prayer in "Facing the Giants." Before a football game, they would pray, "Lord, if we win, we're gonna praise You, and if we lose, we're still gonna praise You."

I like my neurologist. He is a nice little man. I will call him Dr. Nice. Original, huh? Dr. Nice came in and asked me how I was doing. "Great!" Big smile on my face. "I have alot more energy." Dr. Nice thought that was good, but he frowned at my eye. "My eye is actually improving!" Sceptical look from Dr. Nice. Big smile from me. "Really, it is! See, I can look at you if I get closer. Watch this!" Dr. Nice smiled sadly at the poor little weird girl with false hopes about her eye. This did not make the weird girl stop smiling, because she had a special secret.

Dr. Nice said that I only had one lesion! Still smiling. He said it was a demyelinating lesion like one would see in a Multiple Sclerosis patient. He told me that although he could not diagnose me with MS with only one lesion, that this was very possibly the onset of the disease. Still smiling and nodding. Dr. Nice said that I had damage to my central nervous system that can sometimes be permanent. He told me to prepare myself to forever have some degree of double vision. Still smiling. Dr. Nice was probably wondering at this point if I was even listening to him. He asked me if I would like to visit the Mayo Clinic for a second opinion. I liked the opinion I was getting from God, so I said, "Thank you, but I don't feel the need for that right now."

And so, I will be seeing Dr. Nice again in October. He wants to see another MRI of my brain (waah) to check on the lesion and look for any new ones. I'm actually looking forward to it. I'd like to tell him about how God healed me and why my brain looks so pretty now. Because I know it does. By the way, weeks later, I needed a copy of my chart and test results for something, and I read through Dr. Nice's notes. Pretty sneaky. He referred to me as "pleasant" and not as "slap-happy and delusional", which I thought was really nice of him. He earned his name. 

Another fun part of this day was calling my family and friends and telling them the good news that Dr. Nice did not tell me I was dying! It's so fun to rejoice with people who have been praying for you. If you are one of those people, thank you from the bottom of my flooded heart. 

And now, I would like to encourage you to enter my giveaway if you have not. You still have until Saturday morning. Come on...it's fun!

I have more to tell you later! I am still praying for you. I know that God wants to show you how much He loves you in ways that are meaningful and real to you. "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power,together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Giveaway Day!

"Freely you have received, freely give." (Matthew 10:8b)  

Hey, sweet friends. It's giveaway time!

Remember my story about that mean spinal headache I had? If not, you can read about it here. Well, one of those days that I was flat on my back, my husband Bob brought dinner and a movie up to the bed. The kids were with my wonderful mom or my amazing sister or my awesome friend; I can't remember which. But that is not the point. The point is, that while I tried to eat on my back without dropping food on my face or choking, we watched "Facing the Giants." Have you seen it? This is a good movie. 
The makers of this film come out of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia. Bob and I first saw this in the theater when it came out, but that was several years and a kid and a move ago. It was good to see it again. This movie is inspiring and encouraging if you are facing any giants in your own life. It reminds you that nothing is impossible with God! Sherwood Films has also put out "Fireproof" with Kirk Cameron (a good one for married folks) and also the lesser known but still good, "Flywheel."

So, in honor of the Lord giving good things to me, I am going to give one of you...

this brand new can of Spam! What? Don't you like a good fried Spam sandwich? (Remember those, Holly?)

Okay, scratch the Spam. How about a set of three Sherwood Films?

Is that better? This is a new DVD set of all three movies I mentioned above. If you already own these or do not want to own them, enter anyway! They would make a great gift to someone who needs a little inspiration. By the way, Sherwood Films has nothing to do with this giveaway. 

Okay, I guess we need to talk rules. If this all goes smoothly as planned, I would love to do other giveaways in the future. Giving is fun. So, if you don't win this time, don't sit in the corner sucking your thumb. Pull yourself together and cheat on the next one.
 You know I'm joking, right? I don't stand for no cheatin' around here. Now, the way you enter this contest is by leaving a comment in the comment section at the bottom of today's post. Attention all shy and private people: do not be afraid. You can remain anonymous. If you choose to go that route, however, you will have to refer to yourself by a nickname in the comment that you leave, so that you will recognize your comment if it is the winner. If you want to be known, then you can very easily set yourself up a google account with your e-mail address and a password. Either way is fine. Please only leave one comment! One comment will be randomly chosen by a random number generator thingy.

So, leave me a comment and tell me what you do when you are forced to slow down, take it easy, lay on your back, etc...

Do you count ceiling tiles? Perhaps catch up on your knitting? Here is an example of an anonymous person comment that would be just great: "Hi, this is Ms. Potato Head, and when I am forced to slow down, I count all my freckles. And by the way, I think you is the smartest gal I ever did know!" This, my friends, is a good comment that I will like and that will be easily recognized by the person who left it! See how easy?

Well, get to entering! The commenting will be closed on Saturday, August 21st at 8:00 am, Central time. Which reminds me, I know some of you are not in the US. That's okay. You can enter, too.

(This contest is closed.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Let's Have Some Fun Tomorrow!

 Here is a poem for you:

Roses are red,
Mayflies live a day
Come back here tomorrow,
'Cause I'm hosting a giveaway!

Yes, there is more to my story, and I will tell it. But right now I'm just feeling so grateful for all God has done for me, that I want to give somebody a present. So come back over here tomorrow, and I will tell you how it's going to work!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Face in the Mirror

Would you like to know what this picture has to do with my story? Nothing. I just think it's funny. My kid really really likes watermelon, and he wants some more. Right now. Or he's gonna eat your head. His mouth is about big enough.

Okay, back to my story.

My heart felt full and happy and peaceful after my "surgery" with God. As much as I wanted to have my vision back and to be rid of all the other symptoms, I now wanted more than anything else to have an undivided heart for the Lord. I longed with every fiber in me to fully trust and believe Him. 

That evening as I read my Bible, I was struck by another verse. It struck me because it had the word "confidence" in it. If you have been reading my posts, hopefully you remember my Hebrews verse about not throwing away our confidence. Now, 1John 5:14 says: "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him."

I love a good mathematical equation--almost as much as potatoes! According to this verse,
 asking in God's will+knowing He hears us=confidence in approaching God
 and consequently,
 confidence in approaching God=knowing we have what we asked Him for  
and now we can put the reds together:
asking in God's will+knowing He hears us=knowing we have what we asked for

I felt excited about this verse. Yes, I had read it many times before, but I wanted to take action this night. So, I made a short list of things I wanted to approach God about. I made sure the things on my list were according to His will. I did not ask for straight hair or a gymnast's body or a stack of beautiful fabric for my sewing closet. I can't find God's will about those things in the Bible. But the things on my list, like an undivided heart and a healed body--those things I can find in His Word. I very simply took these things and said, "Okay, God, I know it is your will for me to have these things, so I'm asking in confidence, and now I believe that according to Your Word, I have them." Amen. The end. That's it. And don't let anybody try to tell me I don't! 

The next morning at church, my pastor preached a sermon that made me feel like I was the only person there. It was for me. It was mine, all mine. I don't normally shout out during the sermon, but I really felt perhaps I'd better put duct tape on my mouth lest the joy in me come exploding out and make me do things that might embarrass my husband. In reality, I did let out a very small "woo!" at the end, but it was lame in comparison to how I felt.

Uhh...speaking of lame, the sermon was from John chapter 5 about the man who was lame for 38 years. Jesus told this man to pick up his mat and walk, and he did! This man was later confronted by the Jews who told him it was unlawful for him to be carrying around his mat on the Sabbath. They asked him who it was that told him to pick up his mat and walk. Instead of rejoicing at this great miracle, they focused on this petty matter of him breaking the Sabbath. Well, our pastor told us that when Jesus sets us free from something, there will be those who criticize and try to squash our joy. Satan will try to put us right back into the chains that Jesus just set us free from. But when this happens--when in essence you are asked, "Who told you to pick up your mat and walk?", you can say, "Jesus! Jesus did! I'm under His authority now, and He is stronger." 

At the end, my pastor looked right out at us(me) and said something quite similar to this: "If you are bound by the enemy in any way, whether in your physical body or otherwise, I say to you, pick up your mat and walk! Be free! Walk in your freedom!" And though I only said "woo!" with my mouth, my heart said, "Okay, okay! That's mine, I'll take it!" And you know what? I didn't take a nap that day. I had been napping every day for weeks due to fatigue. But that Sunday, I had energy! If energy was ice cream, then I had an extra-large bowl of it with joy squeezed out all over the top like so much hot fudge.

And guess what else? The next day just happened to be my appointment for the third MRI and diagnosis day with my neurologist. But I did not even care. I felt he could say anything he wanted to me and it would not steal my joy. When I stumbled into the bathroom early Monday morning, I glanced in the mirror out of habit and gasped at what I saw. It was my face--not two, but one, and both eyes looking back at me!

 My heart racing, I looked around at the room. There were still two of everything, but I realized that at very close range, I could focus on one image! I ran back into the bedroom, picked up my Bible, and read a Psalm out loud with both my eyes! What a moment! What a thrill! I knew without a doubt that I was on my way to full recovery.

To be continued...

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