Sunday, January 10, 2021

Love Hunger and Healing

Recently, I had a moment where I sat down to a meal, and stopped in the middle of it, overcome with gratitude to God, for celery. But I never would have pictured myself 30, 20, even 15 yrs. ago, ever feeling that way. 

I want to talk about food, my evolving relationship with it, and how God is healing me from the inside out, through it. 

As a child I developed an addiction to sugar, partly going to it for comfort, and partly as I learned later in life, due to an unhealthy gut balance. When I say sugar, I don’t just mean the white granulated stuff, I also mean starches, breads, cereals, and of course sweets. 

As a pre-teen/teen I began to develop food allergies (though I had eczema and asthma before this) and GI issues, as well as staph infections. This is the physical health part of my story. Sugar in combination with multiple doses of antibiotics and steroids was wrecking my gut health and immune system. 

On the spiritual side, I remember reading a book called “Love Hunger” by Frank Minirth. God opened up my eyes and heart to see, that sometimes I was going to food for affirmation and comfort, instead of Him, either as a fun “party” friend, or to help me reach that goal of perfection that the world around me seemed to hold up as standard, and I always felt I was falling short of. I have been on ALL the diets. The worst was a 4 day fast on nothing but beet juice. I still hate the taste of beets. 🤢

I would like to say I turned the corner at this point. But that book did plant a seed in me. 

Fast forward to motherhood, my first pregnancy I can remember treating myself to cookies every afternoon, because after all, I was eating for 2. I believe after the birth of my 2nd baby, having borderline gestational diabetes myself, and her blood sugar not being stable right at birth, I tried to cut out sweets with my 3rd child. She was at least, smaller at birth, and I gained less. 

I quickly returned to old habits though and after the birth of my 5th baby, playtime was over. 

I had to take an antibiotic due to a UTI, and multiple sensitivities, food and other, became impossible to live with. I had GI symptoms and rashes/hives constantly, and could rarely leave the house. My first diagnosis, proposed by a naturopath but later confirmed by a doctor, was candida overgrowth. Candida feeds on sugar and thrives in an unhealthy gut. There were many other issues discovered further on, but all related to my gut health, ultimately. 

I had no choice but to start eliminating foods.  I was forced to eat healthier than I had ever considered. This was full on “tough love” from my Heavenly Father, as I look back on it. Because I now had immediate painful consequences to every abusive choice I had made with food, and even some healthy foods I was deprived of now. 

At the same time though, before it got really bad, I saw that food was an obstacle to my relationship with God. And I began asking Him to change my heart, and remove anything keeping me from Him. 

So guess what? I became allergic to everything. Food became my enemy. It no longer gave me joy, it gave me great suffering. 

I can remember a pivotal experience. It was Thanksgiving. My favorite meal of the year. And I couldn’t eat anything I enjoyed previously. But in my heart a spontaneous prayer rose up, a healing moment only possible by God’s grace, and I said “YOU are my banquet, my God. You are the delight of my heart.” And I was happy and satisfied, in Him alone. 

I’m not going to tell you, I have always felt that way when I had to watch others eat things I couldn’t. But it was the beginning of a new freedom in my way of thinking.

Another lesson He began to teach me, was the serious responsibility I had to the temple He had given me, my body. I not only was accountable for the stewardship of this gift, but accountable because my family, my future grandchildren maybe, need my presence in their life. My full, healthy presence. Not taking care of my health was not only irresponsible but even selfish. 

After everything was stripped, all food, except for a few things to survive, He had to teach me from scratch, by reintroducing me to food again, in a way that was nourishing, balanced, and healing. 

I could go into great detail about all the cleanses, supplements, and treatments I have tried. But would rather dwell here, on what I have learned thus far, because I am still on this journey of healing- body, mind, heart, soul. 

I’ve learned that every meal counts, towards healing my health, or destroying it. 

I’ve learned that all the things God has created for food, *can* be good for me, in moderate amounts, and preferably, in their pure forms. 

I’ve learned my limits and “near occasions of sin” which is a catholic phrase regarding avoiding moral temptations, but for anyone 
trying to avoid any forms of destructive behavior, can be understood as, know your triggers. 

I’ve learned that no magic number on the scale, approval from others, or even a nice big tasty brownie, will make you feel loved. Only God and your confidence in His love for you, can fulfill that need. This is honestly, the most important lesson I have learned, and central to all the others. 

I’ve learned that sugar is addictive. The more you eat the more you want. It sets you up for cravings, then crashes, and repeat. I’ve learned (thanks to Trim Healthy Mama) that keeping your blood sugar under control is everything. It’s also taught me self-control and given me a new perspective on trusting in God for the freedom to eat to live, and even enjoy it while doing it, but NOT live to eat, a slave to cravings, and destructive behavior. 

I have become more and more dependent on my loving Father ultimately to satisfy a hunger that goes way deeper than an empty belly. 

Recently, thanks to a special doctor helping me and being able to implement some gut healing in my diet, I have been able to add back foods, slowly. 

As I said at the beginning of this post, I sat down to a meal I have had countless times, once just eggs, then able to add turkey, then peppers, and most recently added, celery. 

There was a time when I never would have imagined getting excited about celery, much less it’s nutritional benefits to me, endowed by my Creator, but I started eating and I had a moment. I tasted celery, really tasted it, for the first time. It’s distinct flavor and texture added so much to my previously repetitive meal.

 I was overwhelmed with gratitude. and I seriously stopped to thank God, for celery. 

It took a long and arduous road to get to that point. I still have more to go. But I am grateful now, for every step of the way. Even if I wouldn’t have chosen it. We never think to choose the hard path. But it’s where growth happens. 
Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Stayed on You

 Sometimes the Lord sends me a message through a song, then through scripture, then repeats it in a life experience, and so on until it dawns on me, “Maybe you are trying to tell me something?” 🤔

The song was “Stayed on You” (by Eben) while listening to some praise and worship music during personal prayer time. The refrain was: 

“I will keep my mind stayed on you

All I want to do is to worship you

For you are great and greatly to be praised

You alone are God...”

The refrain “stayed” with me for days. For the past several nights since recovering from the more acute symptoms of this insipid virus, I have been experiencing insomnia. Not a usual thing for me. It’s been pretty intense too. My brain is wired sometimes with anxious thoughts, or just thinking through  my day ahead, and it can’t seem to shut down. I mean, until 2:30 or 3 a.m. No matter what aids and methods to prepare myself for sleep. No matter. So I researched it. 

Apparently it’s a common after-affect. The virus affects people neurologically somehow in addition to other commonly known symptoms and many people have experienced acute insomnia even after seemingly getting over it. 

So last night, rather than allow my anxiety to build and build, no end in sight, I thought of that song. And I remembered a priest that greatly influenced my spiritual life before he passed away, teaching us (fellow disciples) a method of praying, repeating the name of Jesus in a simple phrase over and over such as “Jesus I trust in you.” Or the one he had learned based on what God had done in his life was “My Jesus I trust in your mercy and love.” He had developed such a habit, that he was saying it out loud in his sleep, like breathing it in and out. And I thought “this is one simple way, to keep my mind “stayed on you.” And I began praying “My Jesus I love you I give you my heart.” Because it is what came to me when he taught us this method, over and over. Gradually, peace came to my mind. I probably prayed this way for over an hour. And eventually, I was asleep. 

Then today I thought, I bet there’s a scripture about “keeping my mind stayed on you” and there it was, in Isaiah. 

Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” 

“Because he trusts in you” I thought to myself. And today the Bible in a Year podcast I am following with Fr. Mike Schmitz from Ascension Press, was about Abraham trusting the Lord, and Job, trusting the Lord. Especially, when it’s really hard to. 

Being at peace is really simple. It’s shutting out the noise around us, no matter how intense, and keeping our mind stayed on Him. Because He’s trustworthy. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Face Down


I noticed this wiseman toppled over a few days ago and chuckled to myself thinking “that’s about how I’m rolling into 2021, falling into it.” But then I looked at it again later and saw it differently. He’s on his face. In complete surrender and adoration to his king. And he’s the only one! I left him that way. Here’s hoping all of us can surrender everything to Him this year, seeking Him like the Magi, adoring Him, and trusting Him completely, no matter what anyone else is doing around us. Happy feast of the Epiphany! ✨

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Our Life Goal

Do you have some “life goals” you are working towards? Maybe it’s a milestone in your career, earning a certain degree, getting to a point to where you are independent, able to support yourself even be with that “special” someone. Maybe you just want to be healthier, so you can live longer, and be there for your loved ones, feel more confident in yourself. Maybe there’s some dream home or car or life you want to have, and you are working towards financially being able to afford it. 

Simeon, a man “righteous and devout” encountered by the Holy Family while coming to the temple for the Presentation of Jesus, had a life long goal, to see the Messiah- the one promised to his people as the savior. It says that he was “awaiting the consolation of Israel” and that God told him to go to the temple when Jesus would be there. 

What he says upon holding the Christ-child and seeing him finally, blows me away. 

He says, ““Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

In other words, “I am ready to die now. My life’s goal has been met. I’ve seen the savior.” 

When I read this today, I thought, but wait, all he did, was see and hold baby Jesus. He didn’t even get to see the miracles He would do, or witness Him dying on the cross for our sins, or ask Him for anything. He simply saw Jesus, and was utterly and completely satisfied with his life. 

And then it hit me. Simeon is a man with his priorities in order. He spent his whole life looking for, seeking after the Savior, and when he finally saw Him, said, that’s it. There is no other goal in my life. I have seen Him. 

My friends, life goals, they are good things, especially if they are leading us to become better people. I would even say the Holy Spirit inspires us with those goals, as God wants us to be the very best version of ourselves, but if “seeing” Jesus for the first time, isn’t our first life goal, and our ultimate and final life goal, what are we even doing? What is the purpose of anything, if He is not our end? 

As you make your new Year’s resolutions, ask the Holy Spirit to show you how to “see” Jesus maybe for the first time. Move towards Him. The time is now. Maybe it’s going back to church, maybe it’s daily prayer, daily scripture reading, giving up things that are separating you from an intimate relationship with Him. Ask God to show you what steps you need to take towards Him. 


Sunday, December 20, 2020

When God is speaking to you, are you listening?

A few days ago I was listening to Nigerian worship music (a favorite music genre), during some quiet, personal praise and worship time. A song came on (Idinma by Eben, a Nigerian gospel musician) I was unfamiliar with it, but as it played, it brought me to tears and I was overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit. I texted a Nigerian priest, a close friend of mine (I often ask him the meaning of words I don’t know). I said “Father! Is this Igbo? What do these words mean?! ‘Chineke Idinma’ This song has brought me to tears and I don’t even know why!” 

He replied “It is Igbo and it means, God you are good. God the Creator you’re awesome!”

So beautiful! 

Soon after I was scrolling Instagram, and this picture shows up. posted from @reformedbychrist , Notice a theme yet? 

Then I went to practice the psalm response for Sunday as I was cantoring, and guess what it was? 

“Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”

(Psalm 89) 

At the same time, within our household, a crisis had occurred. My oldest daughter who is a senior and a very devoted student, has a job as well. She works just about every day and has been saving up for a car. Her paycheck of hard earned money, got misplaced, and after having looked everywhere, she had despaired of finding it. As I sat in her room trying to comfort her, I heard the Lord say in my heart, “tell her it will be found, and that she only need ask me.” 

So I told her, and we both went to bed. 

In the morning, she said “Mom, do you think I should go back to work and look again?” 

I said “YES.” 

She returned with a big smile on her face, and, you guessed it, found the check. 

If you don’t think God is real. If you don’t think He can speak to you. You may just not be paying attention. He will speak to you through experiences, people, even while scrolling on your phone. He is not bound by anything. 

Clearly He wanted to communicate to me this weekend, His goodness. What is He trying to say to you?