September 10, 2016

Jezi Pou Ayiti (Jesus for Haiti)

I was standing up, with my legs leaning back and the back of my knees pressing into the hard wood of a long bench, my eyes were closed and hands which were clapping now just rested against each other with my chin gently touching the tops of my fingers. A soft smile was what I felt through my being. My bare face and arms welcomed the wind that in West Texas seemed more of a nuisance, but in Haiti was an honored guest. I wanted to remember exactly what this moment felt like and sounded like to worship Jesus with my brothers and sisters in Christ who lived the harsh life up in the mountains of Thomazeau, Haiti. I wanted to hold on to the memories and the stories.

With Haitians seated all around singing praises to Jesus I kept my eyes closed and thought through the days before,… all I had seen and felt.

The very old blind man led by his small grandson to the Sunday church service. Their walk was not easy, many hours over difficult terrain. After sitting in the back for a while they were escorted to the front. The man’s head rested on his walking stick, always making sure his grandson was close to his side. He listened to the songs, to the words of the evangelist. He wanted Jesus. He was dressed in a white robe and he was baptized. He was completely dependent on the people around him to help him in every way. Jesus was there, it was in the hands of those who honored this man that Jesus shone so bright. Clothing him, lifting him into the water. Jesus was there. Now this man who walked so far, would always have Jesus in him. He has a place in my heart.

Mesye Catile who that same day chose to be baptized. He lives next door to a voodoo parastyle. He would have to be very brave and strong to give up voodoo when it is so close to him at his home. It took 4 years since he began to learn about Jesus, but this day He said yes to Jesus and no to voodoo. He is a strong and brave man. He is also a man who works hard to give his family food. He is grateful and kind. He has a place in my heart.

I thought of the skin I cleaned and put creams on when I worked at the Scabies area in the clinic. The smiles of the Haitians who looked at me to help them. Me. They would show me what was hurting, or itching or a wound that needed attention. I could have requested to not be assigned to the Scabies area, but I left my assignments up to God and J’Lyn (the employee who made the assignments). I knew God’s grace would be sufficient. And it was. Mesi Jezi. As someone whose stomach turns when there is blood - God met me right where I was and it was Him who treated those wounds. I just let Him use me. I would look into the eyes of the soul sitting across from me, an adult, a child, a baby being held by their mother. I saw Jesus looking back at me. They have a place in my heart.

I thought of the children who I sat next to during the Ke Pou Timoun classes. Their hands would reach out for mine. Their smiles were bright. Some took a while to warm up, but those were the ones that stayed close until it was time to leave for the day, the ones that would give two hugs to say goodbye instead of one. I would tell them, “Jezi renmen ou,” and they would smile. Jesus loves you. I would tell them, “Mwe renmen ou,” and they would tell me back, “I love you, too,” and they would smile and lean in for a hug. I had to wear sunglasses at times so my tears wouldn’t show. The poorest of the poor. The most in need. I love them and it hurt to tell them so. It hurt because they live in places that were in worse shape than the shed in my backyard which needs to be torn down. My heart hurt because many of their “roofs” leak when it rains and these beautiful faces who look like skinny versions of the kids who live around me, are in fact getting wet on the floor as they are curled against each other trying to sleep, trying to survive. They have a place in my heart.

I open my eyes, the songs are still being sung, the clapping is still in rhythm around me. I wipe the tears that are pouring down my cheeks. My soft smile has turned into an ache. I have to remind myself to take a breath. Then I remember to look around. I see that in the faces of the poorest of the poor is a passion and joy for Jesus. There is hope in Haiti. Jesus is hope. It is an honor and not a burden to serve God. It is an honor not a burden to serve Haiti. Just like in the Scabies clinic, I just have to show up…God will do the rest. Then I look at the friends who came to tend to Haiti, some doctors, some nurses, a dentist, some accountants, mom’s with young children at home, office workers, business owners,...every age represented – some older and some younger than me, some on their 17th trip, some on their 1st all of them willing to show up. My hands start to clap again, the ache becomes a smile which turns into a laugh as the sounds around me start to get louder, and the words, “MESI JEZI, MESI JEZI, MESI JEZI!” fill the air. Thank you, Jesus.

I just can not say enough about my experience with Live Beyond. The Vanderpool’s have listened to God and shown up. Dr. Vanderpool left his successful practice as a doctor, they sold everything and moved to Haiti and that was the beginning of Live Beyond. God has given them a vision for Haiti. If you haven’t gone on a trip I just could not recommend it enough. If you want to see all the ways Live Beyond is helping the poorest of the poor (and there are many) you can find them at Info for trips is on the website. It truly is an honor to serve the least of these. The blessings abound when you join with God in His service anytime, but in amazing proportion when you join Him in his work for the most vulnerable. Here I am Lord, send me.

June 01, 2016

Rheumatoid Arthritis - I found hope.

Where to start with this Rheumatoid Arthritis trouble? It could sound like an old Bryan Adam's was the Summer of 2015.

Writing this in the Summer of 2016 so a bit has transpired in a year. Last summer my joints started swelling on my hands. I had been off gluten for a year...but I had sneaked a bite here and there when a fabulous booth at our Farmer's Market was baking amazing international pastries. I would buy a pastry for Rob and then take a bite. So when my joints started bothering me I thought it was because of that. I was back on the no gluten bandwagon pretty quickly and ended my love affair with the pastries. Actually I just figured out how to bake them gluten free. I don't know if this little tete de tete with gluten kicked all this off or if it was just a coincidence? I have to just let that go.

By the end of summer I had redness, stiffness and swelling in my joints. I just wrote it off as non descript joint pain thinking that if I followed the no gluten rule eventually it would work itself out.

Fast forward a couple of months and I had a pinky finger that overnight became malformed on a joint. So my hands were starting to look like they belonged on someone 40 years older than me. In between the knuckles on my left hand I could see there were pads of swelling happening. And then my index finger knuckle started growing to two or three times it's normal size. At this point I was popping ibuprofen more days than not. I had to use my hands. Fast forward a couple more months and the joints in my toes and one of my knees joined in the fun. I also had severe fatigue, during this time. I spent more time resting than I ever had before. I should have gone to the doctor by this point but I knew that a traditional doctor would not have a fix for this and I didn't want to go on meds to treat the symptoms. My holistic doctor is 3 hours away and I just was having a hard time figuring out how to take a day to get to him. I knew this was diet related. And by this time I started researching on line about this type of joint pain and figured out pretty quickly I most likely had Rheumatoid Arthritis. The scariest part was how quickly it was moving through my body. That was about 3 or 4 months ago. I knew this was an auto immune disease, and I also knew that if I changed my diet somehow I could help myself.

I chose to follow the Whole 30 plan to knock out foods that I thought could be offending my body. The foods that would trigger this disease. Rob and I did it together. At the end of the 30 days not only had it not helped my joints they had progressively gotten worse. That's when I made my appointment to see my holistic doctor. I told him of my self diagnosis, he had lots of blood drawn, gave me some baseline treatments to bring my body back to a healing state and made a follow up appointment for me to come back once blood results were in and I had followed the diet he put me on for 6 weeks. About a week after my appointment his nurse called and confirmed that I did have RA and to keep with the program and they would work with me when I came back to address the RA head on with a positive outcome and to not be afraid. The diet that he had put me on before my diagnosis was pretty similar to the Whole 30 and I just couldn't wait it out another 6 weeks to talk to him so I started researching on line. There are other people who have dealt with this and I knew if I could find the right information I wouldn't have to wait 6 weeks to start feeling better.

At this point I would look at stairs with dread, I could use the railings to get myself up, but Rob would have to hold onto me to help me down. I was at a place that seemed surreal. I couldn't bare to talk about it outside my home for fear that once I complained of the pain I thought I might not ever stop. I was teary eyed a lot, partly from the pain and partly from the quick progression of the pain. If things got this bad over one year would they continue to progress as quickly?

So I found a website when looking for natural healings and I looked at all the you tube video's associated with it...about 5 or 6 hours worth any way. The client reviews were in the hundreds and all of them said that the program helped them. Some completely healed, some better enough to manage the pain and to get off their meds. It was called the Paddington Program created by Chris Paddington out of Australia. He had debilitating RA at 30 years old. His program takes the research of multiple doctors and combines it into the plan that worked for him. He is 8 years out and shows less markers for RA in his blood work than the average person on the street. I was able to watch multiple lectures from one doctor in particular Dr. McDougall that were very helpful. So I bought this on line plan for $49 and began following it the next day. The first two days is a juice and salad cleanse to bring your body back to an alkaline state, then the next 10 days was full of quinoa, buckwheat, seaweed, sweet potatoes, salad, more green juicing along with other healing food options. After two days on this plan my joint pain was 80% gone. I could make a fist with my left hand, and several days into it Rob and I went to the movies and I was up about 15 steps and realized I wasn't holding onto the railing and had no pain in my knees.

The quick drop in pain was the motivation I needed to stay on this strict diet. Which for the most part fit inside the diet my doctor had put me on. All except the sweet potato because of sugar content. But I had to have the energy from the sweet potato so I included it in my diet. I am now on day 15 and am able to re-introduce foods one at a time. If I feel my pain increase I go back to the foods on the 10 day eating plan for about 18 hours that knocks it out and I can try that food again at a later date as my body might have a different reaction at that time.

So why had this diet helped me so much? Through my research I have learned that RA is caused by perforations in your intestines, or as a holistic doctor would call it..leaky gut. While there are lots of reasons this could happen most have to do with taking Nsaids (like ibuprofen), antibiotics, a diet high in fats (even healthy fats).. All of these things affect your gut. So little particles of food I was eating were getting into my bloodstream. My body then attacked the foreign articles...and in doing so was attacking my own joints. Animal protein, dairy and gluten in that order are the most common pain triggers for RA. Without these in my diet and with the intense amount of healing food that is super easy for my body to digest my gut is healing.

Paddington says it took him about two years to not wake up with the stiffness and the pain, but within 4 months he was able to run again.

I will be excited to go back to my doctor in 3 weeks on the road to feeling better and see how he might help me continue in this journey. But I know these things for sure: Even if I have to be on a Vegan eating plan forever RA will not keep me from having a full life, I will do whatever it takes to pick up a grandchild in the years to come, I will be able to hold my husbands hand without it hurting, I will be grateful for where I am today, where I was yesterday and where I will be tomorrow. Thanks be to God.

God made our bodies to heal a cut on the hand. But in my case I was not creating an environment that was conducive to that healing.

Here is the link to the RA Program I am using.

I found the You Tube video's by Dr. McDougall VERY helpful! This video not only addresses RA but all the other auto immune diseases as well. You can find a full eating plan on Dr. McDougall's website and everything on the site is free. So there is no necessity in paying for anything if you go this route.
Here is his website.
Here is a link to a great video:

March 06, 2016

Marriage on Lent - Finishing Up

Lent is not over, but our series is complete. 

Wow! Is all I can say. Thanks be to God for these days of enrichment for marriage. I am also most grateful for the men and women who stepped out of their comfort zones to share from their hearts throughout the series.

I felt clearly when I "lost" all of my preparations for this series that God was at work in that. I clearly felt God's call for me to look around and gather as many people as I possibly could to share their hearts and thoughts on marriage. From students to professors, from those that work in the home to those that run corporations, from those that had never written publicly to those who write for a living, every person's thoughts and prayers were a blessing.

I just want to thank each one of you that have participated in any way through this season of Lent, whether you said one prayer for a marriage or a hundred, whether you wrote, or read, or maybe you did both. I praise God for you. We truly are in our journey together. We might live such hurried lives that we feel as though we are alone, but that is not truth. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. If one falls, then another helps them up.

My prayer for each of us as we continue these last couple of days of Lent is to simply continue in prayer.

Ask God if He wants you to send a note to those you have been praying for. 

This could be of great encouragement to some. One of the places that Satan likes to convince us of is that we are alone. If we know others love us, and we have others praying for us, it is much more difficult to fall into a pit and stay there. However, we all fall into pits now and then but there are lots of people willing to make a chain and grab hold of those that have fallen in the pit, but we do need to speak out to let them know.

One of the reasons that I felt called to begin this series was because Rob and I found our marriage in a pit last year. We talked to some people we could trust and they made a chain and they wouldn't let go of us. After a year because we were determined to not let go of God and His work in us we experienced complete healing and restoration in our marriage. The statistics are clear, there is lot's of divorce. There are lots of people who have quit praying for marriages because they have given up hope - they are hopeless. The secular world would like to convince us that divorce is normal, it's fine, it's the easy way out...from talking to friends it might seem the easiest way out in the moment but they have said in the long run there are lots of repercussions. So if a marriage can be saved, it is worth the effort. There is a great line in Harry Potter...Dumbledore says to Harry, "One day Harry you will have to choose between what is easy and what is right." Those words found a home in me when I heard them. I pray they find their home in you.

When you feel hopeless in your marriage, or want to give up praying for another's marriage, just think about Rob and I, God will still do miracles if we will only humble ourselves and let Him do His supernatural work in us.

All praise to God.

Marriage on Lent Day #36

Thank you to Cathy Messecar for today's writing in Marriage on Lent. We are in the home stretch, enjoy these last couple of days of Lent as we lift those around us in prayer.

By Cathy Messecar

Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fatted calf where there is hatred.
Proverbs 15:17

When my husband and I were newlyweds, we paid our first rent in Junction City, Kansas, near Fort Riley. The apartment was in an old house, divided into seven units. Seven oversized closets. Standing still, David could touch the kitchen walls in every direction. In the hall near the bathroom, the refrigerator hummed its frosty tune. Not the perfect floor plan. Because we’d spent little married time together, our first home seemed a palace to us.
      David had mailed me many letters from Louisiana, Georgia and Vietnam during the first 18 months of our long distance marriage. We were together less than 60 days after we said, “I do.” After too few wedded-bliss days, but plenty of wedded-miss months, we were delighted with our apartment. Turning a corner in our cubbyhole and bumping into each other was pleasant, but wedding cake doesn't last forever, and we had a few newlywed misunderstandings.
     The greatest miscommunication came after five months of shared quarters. Scheduled for only a half day of guard duty at the army base, David said as he left the apartment, "I thought we'd eat out for lunch."
      I responded positively to his suggestion. By mid-morning, I put on a clean outfit, teased my hair into an appropriate height for the late 60s, and awaited his arrival. About noon he came home, and I noticed a quick look of puzzlement cross his face that he didn’t explain.  As he changed out of his fatigues, we chatted cheerfully. Then he timidly asked, "Where's lunch?"
      You could have knocked me over with a stalk of celery. I was stunned. Finally I managed to ask, "I thought you said we were going out to eat?"
      He replied sheepishly, "I meant we'd go out of doors to eat. I thought we'd go on a picnic." I changed plans and clothes, threw together sandwiches and squashed my uptown-hair down to country-picnic-plain.
        As we drove, David explained that we needed to see the Kansas landscape while we could. “We’ll just cruise around until we find a shady picnic spot.”
     The Kansas landscape looked pretty much the same. Treeless. Finally pulling off the road, Dave opened the tailgate on our 1965 Chevy truck. We watched Kansans drive by as we washed down sticky peanut butter sandwiches with soda pop. Sitting on the tailgate with our legs swinging, we ate in the great outdoors.
     Whether Dave and I dine at a mahogany dining table or off a tailgate, love must be in our table setting because in marriage some days are picnics and some days are Blue Plate Specials.

Lord God, every day, you prepare a table before David and me. May we always recognize you as both host and guest. In the name of Jesus who brought your bounty into impromptu picnics. Amen.

An excerpt from The Stained Glass Pickup: Glimpses of God’s Uncommon Wisdom by Cathy Messecar, author and speaker, married for 45 years.

Marriage on Lent Day #35

Let's keep praying, finish the week strong. 

I would like to thank John Willis for his thoughts on marriage today. Dr. Willis is a 
beloved Bible Professor at ACU, he and his wife, Evelyn, have been married for more 
than 50 years. Dr. Willis is also known for handing out cookies in the halls of the Bible
building and to all of his classes.

Thoughts from the Heart
Marriage is a three person journey. This is between God, the husband,
and the wife. Before anyone should marry, that person should establish
a strong, firm, lasting relationship with God. Only then can a
marriage survive and flourish.

Obviously, a great text is Ephesians 5:21-33. From that text, three
important concepts emerge:
  1. Marriage is a mutual relationship of submission. The wife must
be in submission to her husband, and the husband must be in submission
to his wife.
  2. Jesus and the church are the ideal model. Jesus is the husband:
he loved the church and gave himself up for her.
  3. The church is the wife: she is voluntarily subject to Christ.

I pray that every person will focus on God the Father through Jesus
Christ to love God, honor God, be in subjection to God, constantly
turn to God for help and support and guidance. I pray that every
person will be in subjection go his wife and to her husband, to love,
to honor, to support, and to encourage each person's spouse.

Marriage on Lent Day #34


Please continue to pray for marriages around you, we are on the countdown 'till our 40 days of prayer are complete.

Thanks to one of my college classmates, Misty, for sharing her testimony of how she has seen God work in her life and marriage.

 I’ve been married 2 years. I never thought I would get married. My God had bigger plans. On deployment in Iraq, God spoke to me loud and clear. He let me know who my husband was going to be. God lit him up and I for some reason liked him automatically. I had never met this man, nor did I know where to find him. I stood in shock at what God had said and kept in the back of my mind for some months. I thought it was crazy.

I got saved in basic training and was praising the Lord, probably annoyingly, to the rest of my unit. So they decided to let me work as the chaplain assistant for the unit chaplain, although it was not my trained occupation. I was starting to get overworked by my unit and they decided to have 2 chaplain assistances (which is usually uncommon). Low and behold, the man God told me about a few months earlier got the job, out of all the 1,200 Soldiers in my unit.

I didn't like him right from the start. I was worried he was better at the job then me, which he was. I worried my unit would eventually make me work back at my old job, as the unit mail clerk. My “now husband” came from a very good background: Christian home, loving parents, etc. Where I had not. My mom divorced twice, I seen my fair share of jail time, and trusted no one. If I would have never joined the Army I don’t know whom or where I would be. So for these reasons, I was mean to my future husband. I would make him carry stuff for me, be bossy, use my rank, etc. He was so sweet though.

As we continued to work together we became friends. He was kind of seeing a girl, not anything serious. I was trying to talk him out of it, in a way where it didn’t seem like I was interested, just concerned she wasn’t the “right” one. I couldn’t tell him that God said we’re supposed to be together, he’s think I was a crazy.

On New Year’s Eve after hanging out for a while and becoming friends getting that warm and fuzzy with each other, we made it official. Not only did we decide we were going to date we also decided we were going to get married. Bata Bing Bata boom. Six months after we got back from Iraq we were married.

It was not the fairytale it sounds on the wedding day. We were both feeling attacked from the devil to not go through with it, although neither of us knew how the other was feeling. I was thinking we are not going to make it; we are going to get a divorce like my parents and everyone else in my family.

I did not want to commit out of fear. I believe God knew how much I struggled trusting men because my step-dad and an ex I was with for 3 years were both abusive and unfaithful. But, I believe God knows what we need to hear, that’s why he told me while working in the sound booth in Iraq, that this guy, Ephraim Schoephoerster, was going to be my husband. God knows we are weak and we are design to live life with his leading. If not we will be lost.

We will go through seasons in our marriage and life were we wonder. Was this the “right” person for me? Maybe I picked the wrong person? I encourage you that although I am young and not too experienced in marriage, to stick it through. Your spouse is the right person; otherwise you would not be with him/her. Marriage is momentary in this life and our marriage is meant to glory God. I love reading Psalm 139, because it just reminds me so much how God is intimately aware of you and me. He knows my feelings and knew me before anyone else did. He knew me in the womb. Share your heart with the God who knows what you need before even you do. 

Marriage on Lent Day #33

I was reminded of this amazing video in one of my classes at school. Many might have already seen it a while back, but I thought it was worth posting in the marriage series. Whether we are praying for others, looking for ways to strengthen our own marriages, praying for our own transformation in the nature of Christ (or all 3 maybe) we might benefit from taking a personal inventory; reflecting on where we are with Christ. This video depicts some of the places we might find ourselves being enticed away from God, and also putting distance between us and our relationships. We can look to the examples from this video for some of the biggies, sex/lust/porn, money, addiction, narcisism or being consumed by self,...we could add to that list and consider, pride, ego, hard-heartedness, rebellion, materialism....

Scripture reminds us to examine our hearts, and reminds us that we could be white-washed tombs, looking like it's all good on the outside, but our hearts are empty of relationship with God. Are we following God's commands for us? Or just the commands that others might notice?

Father God, I pray that you will quicken our spirits to places in our hearts that you know are out of alignment with you and your will for us. You are the great redeemer and if only we will let you, will not only bring to mind our sins, but help us choose a different way. I pray that you will help me love you more tomorrow than I do today, I also pray that you will help me love others as you love them. May you refine us to be children that represent You in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Father, bless our marriages, soften our hearts, humble us so that we can do your work and not have our own agendas. Father, remind us that you are greater than all of our fears, may we cling to you in a mighty way, and fight the battle knowing you have our back. We love you, God. In Christ, Amen.