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Free at Last

I was balancing atop a paddle board, floating down an ocean creek, when the sweet relief of freedom washed over me.

After slipping underneath a footbridge I was welcomed into a grassy paradise full of Blue Heron, Osprey and Egrets. Nature was at its finest and for a few minutes I simply sat down, closed my eyes and enjoyed the sounds of the stillness. Guided by the water’s gentle current, I floated peacefully beneath the bright sun, basking in the goodness of God’s creation.

Four years ago this scene wasn’t possible for me to experience. Standing upright on a paddle boarding in southern summer heat was an impossible dream. In my mind I imagined what it would be like to experience nature while floating atop calm waves and gliding down gentle waters but my body simply wouldn’t allow it. The muscles in my left leg and arm were held taut like rubber bands that refused to relax. They tugged and pulled relentlessly, especially in the heat. For years, the excruciating pain and debilitating spasticity controlled my activities and held hostage my dreams of outdoor adventures.

But a miracle has happened. The impossible has been made possible. My dream of freedom has at last become my reality!

My body has been liberated from its spasticity. The rubber bands in my muscles have been released. Healing has loosened the inner rubber bands that bound me. I am no longer held taut by disease. Pulling and tugging in the heat no longer controls me. I have been set free indeed!

As I glided in the open ocean waters, celebrating the healing that has restored my physical freedom, I was awe-struck by an even greater miracle than my body’s liberation.

Spiritual freedom and liberation from sin.  

The most incredible, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping miracle I have ever and will ever experience is being set free by the blood of Jesus Christ. On the cross of Calvary my Savior severed my bands of sin. The debilitating, deadly pain that had me trapped in an eternal grave was defeated when Jesus rose again. Sin no longer has mastery over me. Shame no longer has control. Because I have been liberated with Christ’s resurrected, victorious life I am eternally free indeed.

Basking in the brilliance of God’s creation I was reminded that the glory of freedom is always at its finest in the presence of the Christ’s Holy Spirit while gliding atop His waves of everlasting grace and perfect peace.

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Squirrelly Behavior

Let’s talk about squirrels.

I love squirrels. They are a joy to watch as they scurry up trees and chase each other across branches. With their bushy tails and furry coats, squirrels appear so soft cuddly and cute.

But don’t be deceived by their sweet and friendly exterior. Squirrels can be dangerous, even capable of causing deadly disasters.

Squirrels are inherently erratic and their squirrelly behavior is well known for causing distracted driving. One moment the road way is clear and the next a crazed woodland creature is leaping from the shoulder right in front of oncoming traffic, leaving drivers little to no time to react. Squirrels are notorious for this behavior. They run across roads and pause in the middle of busy streets with absolutely no regard for traffic patterns or oncoming cars.

While distracted by squirrelly behavior drivers often disregard road rules and act on instinct. Often time’s well-intentioned, nature-loving drivers will slam on their brakes or swerve into oncoming traffic in an attempt to spare the fluffy rodent’s life. Although the animal might escape the scene unscathed, the driver is not always as fortunate. Squirrels on the road have been known to cause serious accidents and have even been to blame for fatal crashes involving pedestrians, bicyclists and other motorists.

As much as I love squirrels, I cannot deny that they are a deadly distraction to drivers. Squirrels are not just harmless woodland creatures; they are enemies on the road.

 

Drivers should be on their guard against squirrels – and not just those with bushy tails and furry coats. Drivers on the road of life must be on their guard against the enemy’s squirrels.

The enemy sends squirrels running into our lives disgusted in “harmless” exteriors. He is famous for sending seemingly cute and cuddly “squirrels” that scurry in front of our tires to distract us from traveling safely on Christ’s road of righteousness. Health, marriage, money, purpose, careers, and “fun” can all become distractions when they come darting out of their natural habitat. When they run in front of our unity with Christ they cause us to pull our attention and hearts away from the straight and narrow road of God.

Distracted by the squirrels of life, God’s rules for safe driving are often disregarded. Sinful and destructive moves are often made while our eyes are on the squirrels, resulting in a deadly crash of wills. Brakes are slammed and wheels swerve, sending us into a guardrail, pothole… or worse.

Remaining steadfastly fixated on Jesus is the only one way to avoid the dangers of driving distracted by the squirrels of life. Keeping our eyes on the way, true and life of Christ is the only sure way to travel safely. The enemy will still try to hinder our travel but with when we stay faithful to the Lord we will not be distracted, deceived or destroyed.

In the midst of the world’s squirrelly distractions, keep your eyes on the Savior. Under His care and protection you will be kept safe as you maneuver the roads that lead home to Heaven’s gates.

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Like Cures Like

For fifteen months I have been undergoing homeopathic treatments to cure chronic neurological Lyme disease. While sharing my journey with others and rejoicing in the healing I’ve experienced thus far I’m often asked, “What is homeopathy?”

“Good question,” is my first response.

Until I became sick and began searching for answers to my own decade long health saga I knew nothing about homeopathy. Explaining this ancient medicine was like speaking a foreign language. Actually, it is speaking a different language – the Greek language.

The American Institute of Homeopathy explains homeopathic medicine this way:

Homeopathy, or Homeopathic Medicine, is the practice of medicine that embraces a holistic, natural approach to the treatment of the sick.  Homeopathy is holistic because it treats the person as a whole, rather than focusing on a diseased part or a labeled sickness.  Homeopathy is natural because its remedies are produced according to the U.S. FDA-recognized Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States from natural sources, whether vegetable, mineral, or animal in nature.

The word Homeopathy, which comes from the Greek, through Latin into English, literally means “like disease”.  This means that the medicine given is like the disease that the person is expressing, in his totality, not like a specific disease category or medical diagnosis. 

If you just blinked and thought to yourself, “Come again?” then welcome to my world.

Truth be told, I don’t understand homeopathy. The principle of “like cures like” baffles me. Administering natural substances that cause disease as a method to cure disease is downright perplexing. In my feeble mind I simply cannot logically comprehend how homeopathy works and yet I believe wholeheartedly that this form of medicine is the one true way to be healed from chronic, incurable disease.

The reason I believe so completely in homeopathy is because I believe that Jesus Christ is the one true way to eternal healing of the soul.

Long before I ever became sick, I trusted and believed in “like curing like” when I surrendered my life at the foot of the cross.  The moment I trusted in Christ I placed my belief in a method of healing that I do not understand. The Son of God dying on the cross to save me baffled me. The love of my Savior has always been beyond my ability to comprehend.

Jesus answered and said to him,

“What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.”

John 13:7

God sent His one and only Son to become a man and die as a man. Jesus, the perfect, spotless Lamb, bleed as a sinner to save sinners. He conquered the grave and rose to new life to rescue the hell bound and heal the heart for eternity.

Jesus Christ is homeopathy for the soul.

If you just blinked and thought to yourself, “Come again?” then welcome to God’s world.

Jesus knew that even His followers would be baffled by God’s plan of salvation that’s why He warned them in advance that the way to healing would be beyond their understanding. Before He went to the cross He urged them to place their faith in Him and believe that He alone is the cure for eternal sickness and disease.

At the foot of Christ’s cross the baffling principles of homeopathy finally make perfect sense.

Like truly does cure like. I don’t need to understand it by logic because I know it by faith in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

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Pieces of the Puzzle

Lyme Disease is a jigsaw puzzle and symptoms are its pieces. When put together the interlocking aliments and abnormalities should create a complete picture that points the way to true healing. But putting this illness puzzle together isn’t as simple as a typical jigsaw because this puzzle doesn’t come in a box.

My Lyme disease puzzle is full of symptomatic pieces but has no guide, no box with an image on the cover, to show me how they fit together. The absence of a completed picture of healing has caused me great frustration and angst. I keep trying to force the pieces together but it seems hopeless. The puzzle is refusing to come together just right. I am working in the dark and praying for the light.

Stuck with stray pieces and a puzzle that seems impossible to put together I’ve begged God to reveal the final picture of how my healing ends. “Show me how to put my healing together.” I’ve prayed. “Just show me the completed picture and then I’ll know how to regain my health!”

But God hasn’t answered my prayers with a picture or a box. He’s answered them differently. He’s answered them perfectly.

God has answered my pleas and prayers by increasing my faith, not my sight.

God has revealed to me that I don’t need an image on a box. I don’t need a clear picture of how healing comes together in the end. All I need is to know Christ. All I need is to rest in the assurance that I am a child of the one true God who created my puzzle and holds my healing in His Almighty Hands.

I still don’t know how or if every piece of my body’s illness puzzle will come together. Only God can see that image. But this I know with absolute assurance: I am being guided into a complete and glorious picture of eternal healing as I follow Christ. As I place each piece of my life down in faith, according to God’s will and perfect plan, the final picture is going to turn out beautifully. In the end, my puzzle is going to turn out just right.

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Pain is Beauty

When I was ten years old I wanted to get my ears pierced. All of my friends were getting their ears pierced – if they didn’t have them already – and I desperately wanted to join the bejeweled earlobe crowd.

Despite a deep and, at times, irrational fear of needles, I was willing to brave the Piercing Pagoda chair if it meant I could have pierced ears. I actually wanted to endure the pain so I could wear dazzling diamonds on my ears. Even as a young girl I believed that pain is beauty.

But, to my great disappointment, Dad didn’t support my ear piercing plans.

”Pierced ears are preposterous,” He said. “Why would you want to intentionally stab yourself?”

I told Dad I wanted to pierce my ears so they would look beautiful. “Imagine the pretty earrings I will be able to wear once my ears are pierced,” I told him. “I’ll need my ears pierced for prom!”

I used every excuse (and puppy dog face) in the book but Dad didn’t budge. He wasn’t buying my sales pitch and, in the end, I never did get my ears pierced.

Nearly two decades have passed since I begged to have pain inflicted on my delicate ear lobes and to this day I have yet to get them pierced. As it turns out, Dad was right. I didn’t need pierced ears to have beautiful lobes. Even on prom night, I didn’t need diamond studs to shine.

But I was right, too – a least in part  – because pain truly is beauty. To be made beautiful in the sight of God is painful.

The way of Christ is a way of pain and suffering. The sting that afflicts the followers of Jesus often hurts worse than a needle through the delicate skin of an ear lobe but the results are more dazzling than diamonds.

God allows the piercing of trials and stabbing of suffering in order that His beloved children become adorned with the righteousness and perseverance of Jesus. Our Heavenly Father does not spare us the needle or the sting. He does not keep us from the experience of pain. Instead He perfects us in pain and makes us beautiful by the power of the cross.

It is through the piercing of affliction that God transforms us into dazzling diamonds by the indwelling Spirit of Jesus Christ.

 

“But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

1 Peter 4:13

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The Joy that Freedom Brings

It’s here. The day children wait for all year. And no, I’m talking about Christmas. Jesus’ birthday didn’t suddenly move to June.  The highly anticipated day I’m referring to is none other than the first day of summertime freedom. It’s official. School’s out for the summer.

All year long students have been held like caged birds trapped in small, stuffy classrooms. Confined to uncomfortable desks and a dictatorial bell schedule they have not been free to flit around and fly. For one hundred and eighty days they have waited for summer and all the fun it brings. Now it is here and students are giddy with relief.

In commemoration of the final day of school children and adults of all ages are gathering at amusement parks and picnic pavilions to celebrate. There will be rejoicing on roller coaster rides and suds of fun on water slides. Ice cream will be eaten for lunch and funnel cake will be devoured for dinner. For one day shouts of glee will be encouraged and no one will be shushed.

On school picnic day children are full of the joy that freedom brings.

 

In June or January, while stuck at a desk or basking in the sun, I aspire to live with the joy of a child enjoying the first day of summer vacation. I long to embody a child-like delight and glee as I rejoice in endless freedom.

I have every reason to be full of joy because Jesus Christ has set me free. God has released me from the guilt of my past. I am no longer caged by sin and shame. The door to salvation has been opened and on the other side is an eternity infinitely more glorious than summer.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

We are free to be full of the joy that freedom brings.

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Turtle Rescue {because God cares about reptiles too}

Why did the turtle cross the road?

To get rescued before he made it to the other side.

In the past two weeks I’ve witnessed two extraordinary turtle rescues and heard of a third.

The first turtle in distress was standing stock still in the middle of a busy two lane road. A daring member of the military stopped his car in the midst of the traffic, hopped out and alerted oncoming cars to halt. Then, in full Navy uniform, he kindly guided the confused turtle off the pavement, over the shoulder and into the abutting woods where he slipped into the protection of a pond.

Turtle rescue two occurred in the same location, minus the military uniform. This time the citizen rescuer came prepared with experience. He had saved turtles in that precise location a time or two before and knew just how to guide the turtle off of the street and back into wooded safety. With the help of the reptile rescuer it only took a moment for the lost turtle to find his way back to the pond again.

Turtle rescue three took place on a two-lane street where there was no pond in sight. This time an SUV stopped in the middle of the road and two men hopped out of the back seat. From afar I could see one of the men carefully lift something large and round from the middle of the road. Sure enough, it was yet another turtle rescued from a devastating, crushing fate.

After each turtle rescue I drive away in awe. The fact that the turtles survive on the street amazes me. How the turtles end up in the middle of the road without being crushed by a passing car is a miracle in and of itself.

Next is the miracle of being spotted by drivers passing by. The turtles could easily be missed. The tortoise’s shell blends in so well to the dark pavement. If not missed entirely, the turtles could easily be mistaken for a stray piece of trash or left over rubber from a tire. But the turtles were not missed. They were spotted, recognized and saved by heroic men who willingly stopped and saved the stranded turtles. They risked their own safety and stepped into harms way to protect the turtles. They delayed their own journeys to ensure that the turtles in these stories had a happy ending to theirs.

In the turtle rescues I see the wonder of my own salvation and am struck by the awe and wonder of my Hero, my Savior, my Rescuer, Jesus Christ.

 

From up on high God saw me in distress. I had wandered away from safety, standing bewildered and in harms away. I could have so easily been crushed at any moment. I was completely oblivious to the dangers whizzing all around me. I was trapped in sin, blending in so well with the rest of the world and yet God spotted me. While I was a lost sinner God recognized me as one of His own and sent His Son to rescue me. By the power of the cross, Jesus defeated death and guided me into the glory of His eternal safety.

I am in awe of Jesus, my rescuer.

 

So why do the turtles cross the road?

So God can rescue them.

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The Most Amazing Come Back Ever

Nighttime waking has become a regular occurrence in my life. Since beginning Lyme treatments my body has taken to battling the disease under the cover of dark while I would much rather be sleeping. Many nights I’m awoken with hunger pains that I gladly remedy with a bowl of “healthy” ice cream (Halo Top is not the world’s most perfect health food but at night all food rules are off the table…especially since I eat my ice cream in bed.)

Last night it wasn’t two AM before I was awoken by a different kind of pain that is not easily cured with a bowl of ice cream. My arch nemesis was back… Literally.

The lower back pain was excruciating. No matter how much tossing and turning I tried I simply could not get relief or a moment of sleep. After moaning, groaning and making all sorts of pathetic sounds I reluctantly rose from bed and ran a bath.

A middle of the night bath is not an unusual occurrence in my tub. It has become my go-to strategy for pain relief when sleeplessness strikes but on this particular night the bath proved ineffective. When I stepped out of the tub I was still stuck in pain. There was no way I would be going back to sleep…. Not yet at least.

So it was on to pain relief plan B. 5:00 AM at-home yoga

“Yoga for the Spine” was a pleasant video and a wonderful stretch for the back but when it ended a dull throbbing remained. It was 6:00 AM when I rolled up my yoga mat and looked out the window with a heavy heart. I was frustrated, discouraged and tired. After a year of battling Lyme I had hoped these sleepless nights would have ended or at least lessened in severity.

Before I had even spoken a word in prayer my gaze was drawn to the window. Outside the sun was just beginning to rise, casting beautiful rays of the light through the leafy trees. At that moment Plan C came to mind like a light bulb turning on above my head…

Get out there and run.

Running (or in my case jogging) goes against conventional wisdom and, arguably, common sense, for a disease battling, eighty pound woman who is in severe back pain. It defied logic and a doctor’s orders.

But I ran anyways.

One short mile later I was sweaty, out of breath and, at last, out of pain. Pounding on the pavement must have knocked the aching out of my back because by the time I returned home I was experiencing sweet relief and collapsed in celebration on the front porch swing.

Right before I finally drifted off to sleep the thought of Jesus on the cross came rushing to my mind. When Jesus died on the cross it didn’t make sense to His followers. They could not understand why their Messiah had to endure such agony. They could not see what God was up to.

What the follower’s of Jesus had yet to realize is that Jesus’ set back into the grave was the set up for heaven and earth’s most amazing come back ever.

 

Jesus has defeated the grave, ascended into Heaven and forever He reigns on high. Since I have been united with Him in His death I have the glorious assurance of His Risen life. I need not fear a single pain or sleepless night because the resurrected Christ has secured my victory and in Him I have eternal rest.

Because Jesus is alive this suffering you see is not a set back. It is the perfectly planned setup for an incredible come back for the glory of our great and glorious God.

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Frenemy on Facebook

I have six hundred and thirty-eight friends on Facebook and one frenemy named Satan.

I never intended to add the enemy of heaven and earth to my friend list. I don’t even recall receiving a friend request with his name on it. Yet, there he is, cluttering up my newsfeed with envy and dissatisfaction.

The enemy first slithered his way onto my social media while I was feeling weak and lonely. Before I knew it he was in nearly every post, hijacking updates of joy with his malice and discontent. My frenemy is so deceptive he has even invaded likes and shares. He even exerts his evil influence in smiley faces and pictures of furry pets. How dare he.

When my frenemy is online he fills the comments and likes with jealousy and discontentment. For far too long I have scrolled by the enemy’s posts and given him the evil pleasure of stealing my stillness and peace with his social media sabotage. I’ve clicked “unfollow” here and there, but I’ve never blocked him entirely.

Until today.

Today I am unfriending the enemy and blocking his influence. With the joy of the Risen Jesus Christ I am kicking Satan off of my social media and out of my soul. To simply “unfollow” isn’t enough. The enemy must be blocked entirely.

In order to remain united with my very best friend, Jesus, I cannot tolerate a single post from His arch enemy, the destroyer of eternal peace. The destructive influence of Satan must be forcibly removed and only the power of Christ’s Risen life can do it. Only God can effectively and entirely block the enemy from my heart, mind and soul.

 

The love of Christ cleanses my Facebook of the enemy and rids my feed of his hate. Transformed by the Savior’s redemptive mercy, my social media is made new in the presence of His amazing grace.

I still have six hundred and thirty-eight friends on Facebook and one best friend named Jesus Christ spreading abundant, everlasting joy all across my eternal feed.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:4-7

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Surprised by God’s Joy

As hot water pierced the open cuts on my legs I let out a boisterous laugh. That’s when I knew, “I’ve been surprised by God’s joy!”

The bombshell breakthrough took place in the shower, where the best breakthroughs tend to occur. I stepped into the tub completely oblivious of the terror to come. On my legs open cuts have been forming and, as I soon learned, they don’t enjoy hot water.
The second I stepped into the porcelain tub the rushing water transformed into a swarm of bees. The fresh cuts up and down my right ankle and foot screamed in the heat. Shocked by the sudden stinging, I yelped in pain, resembling the sound of an accidentally stepped upon dog. Then, resembling something like a Mexican jumping bean, I hopped around the shower for a few seconds uttering phrases such as, “Golly gee!” and “Hot diggidy!”
After some creative maneuvering, I was able to position my right leg on the side of the tub, out of direct line of the shower’s head. The only trouble was that in such an awkward position I could not step or twist, both of which are quite helpful when showering.
In the not so distant past, this circumstance would have likely reduced me to tears or at least frustration. But not this time. Rather than causing me to cry the strange shower scenario catapulted me into a fit of hardy laughter.
The joy of Jesus swooped in to my shower and delivered me on the wings of uproarious comic relief. The delight of Jesus’ presence was enough to fill my heart (and shower) with laughter and joy in spite of the stinging pain. Once my soul was lifted up in laughter the physical pain did not need to be removed in order for true joy to be experienced.

Only Christ has the power to deliver sufferers from any and every pain, both inside and out. At His resurrection, Jesus removed the eternal sting of suffering and defeated the doom of death. He rose to render the sorrow and sadness of pain completely powerless.
Jesus does not assure His followers a pain-free life but, united with His glorious resurrection, they will be most assuredly be surprised by God’s joy.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now,
you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,
for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:8-9