Fasting {weeks 14-24} {the last half and up to the end} Where we discuss apologies and healing.

This last week of my fast was so full of stress it’s hard for me to even blog about it. Monday both my personal and professional lives simultaneously melted down. The whole week was full of phone calls and messages and analyzing and explaining.  I cannot recall a week filled with more tears–and I’ve had some seriously shitty weeks in my 41 years. I’d be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the fact that both situations escalated to white hot at the exact same moment on Monday *and* some of the parties in each of the situations extended forced apologies to me at the same time on Thursday. Which just happened to be the last day of the 24 week fast.

By forced apology, what I mean is this…Something threatened the parties involved. That threat pushed the apologies forward, but the apologies didn’t come from a place of true repentance, they were meant to help maintain something important in the lives of those issuing the apologies.  The people who apologized to me didn’t feel bad for hurting me, they were upset that something in their life was going to drastically change if they didn’t apologize. Blog comment that made someone panic to apologize or the threat of returning cancer, the threats were different with the same effect.

Compare that to another apology I received during this fast (and how ironic is it that this also dealt with my personal and professional life?) During the third week of the fast, I’d written a guest post about a suicide attempt 20 years ago. My mom and ex-husband were the only ones who knew. My mom is dead and my ex is no longer a US Citizen, so what happened was totally unexpected. I let go of that secret on this blog and on the same day, my ex-husband (who I hadn’t had contact with for 20 years) somehow found the post and apologized in public in the comments section of the post. He had nothing to gain by apologizing. There was closure for both of us in that apology. And while I won’t ever seek to restore a relationship with him, there is peace.

I accept the apologies of the others. I believe they are giving as much as they are able. I don’t know if they’ll ever understand the differences that I just discussed. It’s not my responsibility to change them, that is something each person has to work out on their own. Of course it would be awesome if these people weren’t forced to make peace, but sometimes in situations like this, you have to take what is offered and for the sake of peace and moving forward, I do accept their offers and harbor no bitterness.

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The spiritual battles during this fast were intense. I turned to these prayers twice during the fast.

I had this dream after the cleansing prayers:

God was sending me in to clean up a mess. Before I went to the place he was sending me, 2 angels appeared. One stood in front of me, one stood behind me. They were both warrior angels. Very tall compared to me at 5’2″. I’d say they were 6’7″ or so. They raised their arms around me. They were like wings, but not wings. God commanded them to pray and held His hand over the top of us. There was a surge of power so incredible it is beyond description.

The angels prayed protection prayers over me for a really long time.

And then I painted this

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I said the prayers once over my home and about a month ago over my dad’s, brother’s, and sister’s homes. Just this week a friend rebuked evil spirits in public and came to me in private saying that I was not dealing with humans. I was being spiritually attacked and she recognized that.

{For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.}

{you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good}

The words God spoke over this fast were “healing” and “prepare.”  And my word for this year is “restore.”

During this fast, I was restored to my position as Editor-in-Chief of The Midnight Diner. I never thought I’d be back in publishing. And now I’m being encouraged to start submitting my stories again. And I might just do that.

I wrote a piece for Listen to Your Mother, was accepted, and read the piece on stage. It was about accepting the kind love my mother knew how to offer.

My dad was alive for his birthday and I drove to Indiana to surprise him and I saw tears in his eyes. He was also alive for Father’s Day and I got to spend more time with him. He’s still alive on this day and even though we got some bad news about his illness, he is alive today and the fact that he made it into 2013 and is here today is a blessing we didn’t expect to receive.

I had the opportunity to mentor a young writer through The Midnight Diner. She later expressed in beautiful words that Phil and I helped change her personal life in ways I’m not sure I could have ever realized had she not spelled it out. We were really quite oblivious since we were just living out lives as we always do. We didn’t know that what she was seeing was changing her. I never expected it to be about more than writing and publishing, but I’m glad it happened.

I became a grandma again 🙂

I read a book for a second time and it changed my life, again. I haven’t yet wrote about the second reading and what came to pass.

My body continues to heal from the adrenal issues. It’s a long road, but it’s now been a year of eating militantly gluten free. It could take up to two years before total healing and restoration occur. I have hit the halfway mark!

The visible healing has happened in all areas. Personal, professional, spiritual, emotional, mental, physical. But the “prepare” part? What about that? There are still so many more questions I have and things I don’t understand about the fast, though. I have hope that God will tie up the lose ends for me in the days and months to come. I’m sad this fast is ending, but it wouldn’t be a fast if it was all the time and I need to remember that I was called to this fast for a purpose.

We’ve been in our new house and new city 28 weeks and I’ve fasted weekly for 24 of them. It will be weird to not fast and I don’t know what to do with that.

If you’d like to read the rest of the posts about the fast here are the links:

Blogging Through My Fast Seems Wrong

Week 1

Week 2

Weeks 4-10

Weeks 11-12

Week 13

 

Dream-Warrior Angels

I had a dream the nigh before last.

God was sending me in to clean up a mess. Before I went to the place he was sending me, 2 angels appeared. One stood in front of me, one stood behind me. They were both warrior angels. Very tall compared to me at 5’2″. I’d say they were 6’7″ or so. They raised their arms around me. They were like wings, but not wings. God commanded them to pray and held His hand over the top of us. There was a surge of power so incredible it is beyond description.

 

The angels prayed protection prayers over me for a really long time.

 

I was then with my Uncle Ed. He had on a blue, down winter coat. We walked up to the red house I was supposed to clean. It was overtaken by tall dead grass on the outside. When we got to the door, there was a decrepit voodoo doll hanging in the window. We opened the door and I was saying, “Wow. No one has been here since we lived here.” I then realized it was the Westville house. We started scrubbing everything clean.

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My Guided Prayer Experience

I didn’t know what to expect, really. She had talked about it on the phone with me, but was a bit vague. Not on purpose, though. More because (I’ve learned) that what happens during the guided prayer far outweighs the process of guided prayer.

We were at Creative Soul. We’d had this amazing day of Visual Prayer and then writing circles. I was feeling powerful, strong, and spirit-filled.

This lovely lady was our “guide.” She started with a soft and soothing prayer. With our eyes closed, she asked us to recall a time when each of us felt closest to God, when we could sense his presence or hear his voice. She mentioned the word joyful in conjunction with this memory. I tried to force the memory to surface and “joyful” kept blocking the memory. I threw it out and a time clearly came into focus.

This is what came to mind.

I thought I was supposed to write a Bible study. I started writing. I didn’t want it to be like all the other Bible studies out there, so I took  steps to make it different. It would be a short study, 4 weeks, 15 minutes a day, but it would pack a punch. I wrote the first three chapters, but really stumbled on the last–which was to be about following Christ.  In the years that followed, I truly have learned to follow Christ, to listen to him, to be obedient instead of sacrificial and repentant.  But then I wasn’t a writer any longer, I was a visual artist doing Visual Prayer and selling paintings and loving the life God gave me. Recently after a 3 year hiatus from writing, I’m back in the game again.

I am pretty positive I will not see success as a writer until I finish writing this Bible study.

That obedience thing I was just so confident about? ha. #notsomuch

I started doodling and writing down words that caught my attention. I don’t remember a whole lot about what Michelle was guiding us to do.

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But then she got to this new part. She told us to envision ourselves in a boat on a calm lake. The we were supposed to dive in the water and go all the way to the bottom and see a treasure chest.

I admit, I thought it was silly. I resisted. Then I thought resisting was silly because why not fully participate? So I dove to the bottom and saw my treasure chest. In it was a book.

sigh.

I know, God. I know. The book I’m supposed to write. I get it.

Then Michelle said, “Make sure you see the bottom of your treasure chest.”

What?!

Ok.

I picked up the book and there was a key, a skeleton key. (are you kidding me?!) I then saw myself using the key to open a secret compartment at the bottom of the treasure chest and once it opened, I got the sense of an expanse, limitless. I was reminded of my tattoo and the word I chose.

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I asked God, “What do I do with this key now?” I heard a response that was partially words and partially vision. I saw a bunch of doors, all kinds of them and God said that the key would open any door I wanted to open, it was my choice, I was LIMITLESS. He trusted me and the desires of my heart were the desires of His heart. The limits I placed on myself were not of Him. I was not bound to write a book that He’d never told me to write. He freed me of that anchor, gave me a key, and set me free to do as I wish.

For real.

I am so glad I decided to fully participate. It would be cliche to say I felt like a weight was lifted off of me–but indeed, it was. I don’t know what doors are in front of me, I don’t know which ones I’ll open, but to know I’m free to choose?! I’m LIMITLESS! Wow.

Because how many people are stuck in a trap of their own creation thinking God’s will is what someone else is telling them? How many people think they need to DO something to please God? To somehow earn his love and affection? If I just write this book, God will love me enough to bless me.  I be{lie}ved a lie. A big lie.

Do not fret because of those who are evil
or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.

Be still before the Lord
and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Fasting {week 13}

This procrastination issue, it has weighed on my mind. I was willing to admit fully I had a problem with it (but didn’t know why until I read this, “Two neurotransmitters put the brain on alert: norepinephrine arouses attention, then dopamine sharpens and focuses it. An imbalance of these neurotransmitters is why some people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) come across as stress junkies. They have to get stressed to focus. It’s one of the primary factors in procrastination. People learn to wait until the Sword of Damocles is ready to fall–it’s only then, when stress unleashes norepinephrine and dopamine, that they can sit down and do the work.”

All of that means that I need to figure out ways to engage my mind before the stress of procrastination comes along.  The next chapters of the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain explained how stress and anxiety burn memory pathways into our brains.  In another book I finished, Mind Over Medicine by Dr. Lissa Rankin, the author explained much of the same thing, just in a different context.  Both of them were essentially saying the same thing–(my summary)–that when your body is stressed (a real event or a made-up worry, it doesn’t matter which, the amygdala in your brain cannot differentiate between a real bear standing in front of you vs. you worrying a bear will show up in your yard) it releases a string of stress hormones and that triggers a whole ‘nother set of chemical reactions in your body. Then your brain starts taking notes for it’s flight or fight journal of survival.

And because all of these hormone, chemical, and physiological events are occurring during the release of stress hormones, the notes the brain is taking become engraved and a ditch is dug, if you will. And every time those stress hormones are released, the ditch gets deeper and deeper and deeper.  And so if you’re like I used to be, and you worry about EVERYfreakingTHING, that stress turns into full blown anxiety and before you know it, you start to freak out over everything and everything is bad and nothing good every happens and why do I even bother because it’s just going to end shitty and I hate my life.

Without knowing it, I broke the anxiety cycle many years ago.  Much of my success I attribute to my husband who says things like, “Why in the hell are you worried about something you don’t know is going to happen?”  Or he’d ask, “What exactly are you worried about?” I’d start to verbalize my worry and then I sounded stupid because I have a headache and I probably have brain cancer now.  (oh you know what I’m talking about.)

So when I started to verbalize things (I’m driving over a river on a bridge and I’m terrified I’m going to drive off of it and drown) I realized how ridiculous I was.

But the fact is, that in my life, bad things did happen. Quite often. Quite severe and traumatizing things. And my brain took notes. And then it started making up risks that weren’t really rational. And because the brain can dig a damn good ditch, I was stuck so deep.

I started filling in the ditch with good thoughts. Gratitude. It really works.

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But another tool I’m learning about is exercise! (you need to read this book!!) So the gist of it is this, when your body releases that onslaught of stress stuff, it raises your heart rate and your mind (like I’ve said) takes notes.  When you exercise, your heart rate increases (and your mind takes notes) and then all kinds of crazy-good hormone stuff is released into your body.

SO–and this is the breakthrough moment– when I am stressing out, if I exercise for a few minutes and raise my heart rate, my body will take notes and will also release the good stuff, which diminishes stress and anxiety. And because I “survive” the bear attack, I start to fill in those ditches even faster!

“Muscle building cannot occur without first tearing down muscle fibers, the main component of muscle tissue. Hypertrophy is the term used to describe an increase in muscle bulk, which occurs when the body repairs torn muscle fibers. Weight lifting, resistance training and long-distance running are among the stressors that initiate the teardown and muscle-building cycle. Building or repairing muscle tissue involves interaction among cells, proteins, the immune system, growth factors, hormones, nutrition, rest and sleep.”

The dots I’m connecting are that much like building muscles, training the brain to react in an appropriate way is going to require me to tear down and rebuild. If I’m stressing and raise my heart rate and then the stress is gone, my brain will learn that not everything in life is an attacking bear.  If I’m starting to worry and I give thanks and redirect, I’m building a new path.

I’ve also been tackling past memories and hurts and treating them with the same prescription. If something triggers a bad memory (like if I see a game of hangman and immediately I think of my uncle’s suicide) I must tear down that old cycle of thinking and rebuild a new one.

So now.  (there’s more)

I went back to my original entry in my fasting journal because God gave me a verse I didn’t understand.  Are you ready?

“Your job is to pull up and tear down,
take apart and demolish,
And then start over,
building and planting.”

–Jeremiah 1:10

yes. my mind is completely and totally blown.

Fasting {Weeks 11-12}

I have learned SO much in the last couple of weeks about my mind/body/spirit healing.

The assimilation of knowledge is at a breakthrough level for me. In a way it seems like I should have already known this stuff, but then I’m not sure I could have.  I think we’ve all been programmed to believe that the mind is separate from the body which is separate from the spirit and the ways I’ve been trying to go about healing have been based on systems that propagate that belief. I *think* I’m learning that a new system needs to be created. And since my strength in life is to create efficient systems, I’m on task and challenged enough to be consumed with this.

I don’t know if I can rightly regurgitate the things I’ve been putting together, but I’m going to try.

May 15th, I had this dream:

I was at a conference and there was a sign for free hair styling. I FB’d the company and got an appointment. When I got there, they was also some kind of newly discovered stone therapy for relaxing. It looked a lot like the hot stone thing at spas but the stone was special, supposed to draw negative energy out. The lady put me in the chair and told me how to put my hands and it was so uncomfortable. She left the room to get the stones and the chair folded up on me! She came running in apologizing and fixed it. She put hot stones on my lower back but they weren’t hot enough for me.

When finished, I was supposed to walk down the street for some reason. I had a huge tub full of art supplies and also rocks in a back pack. It was so heavy and I was really upset that it was not relieving my stress. I stopped and used blue watercolors to write something on a wall. I don’t remember what I wrote. Dr. House said that I didn’t have to lug all that stuff around. He told me to take one rock and 2 or 3 of the art things. So I did. First I pulled out a Spongebob foam character and thought, “No way am I taking this with me, and threw it back!” I picked 3 things (don’t know what) and I was just ecstatic and hugged him and them got on a bus.

Found a pair of Con-way (where Phil works in waking life) pants like Phil‘s hung nicely across the entryway of the bus. I picked them up so I could text Phil and probably take them to him. They weren’t his though. And they had a pair of long johns still inside.

I took my seat and texted Phil then tried to figure out what stop I needed. I asked a girl who was about to exit on the next stop and she looked at my ticket and said I probably had 10-12 more stops and the last one was the one I needed. She pointed to the last three letter abbreviated stop: JOP and said “Joplin is your stop.”

I know the Spongebob meaning: my friend and I joke a lot about a Spongebob episode where he procrastinates by doing ALL kinds of things other than what he’s supposed to do. So when we’re procrastinating we call it Spongebob Syndrome and joke about sharpening pencils. So I’m thinking that I need to get rid of my tendency to procrastinate and quit lugging that around!

I’ve also had other dreams about House characters. I think House represents my intellect and/or common sense. He’s bold, to the point, and says things I should already know.

Spongebob-Procrastination

Since my adrenal system is a wreck (adrenal failure is the diagnosis–stemming from chronic inflammation–stemming from gluten intolerance) I’ve been working (hard!) on doing the right things for my body in order to heal.  Under stress (not just external stress, but also internal stress, like fighting off gluten) my body releases stress hormones constantly which destroys a body. Eliminating gluten was just one step towards helping. It has stopped the main cause of the stress. But in order to heal, my body needs the relaxation hormones released. And I’ve been working towards being aware of what I’m doing to harm that process.

The dream said get rid of procrastination. I was like, ok sure. But really, is it that big of a deal?

Well. I learned, indeed, it is.

As an assignment from my endocrinologist, I’m reading Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. I read this and nearly fell over.

Two neurotransmitters put the brain on alert: norepinephrine arouses attention, then dopamine sharpens and focuses it. An imbalance of these neurotransmitters is why some people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHA) come across as stress junkies. They have to get stressed to focus. It’s one of the primary factors in procrastination. People learn to wait until the Sword of Damocles is ready to fall–it’s only then, when stress unleashes norepinephrine and dopamine, that they can sit down and do the work.

In reality, I’ve wondered often if I have ADHD but didn’t pursue an official diagnosis. I can’t say for sure why. But after the dream and then reading this I started to pay attention and I’m fairly certain I do have ADHD and I think my body is saying that I need to learn to deal with that in order for the healing to continue.

That is a breakthrough.

And yet, there’s more. But I think I should break up the posts so they don’t get too long and technical. So for today, I feel amazing that I asked God to reveal to me what is hindering my healing and (at least part of it) has been revealed.

I don’t know the best way to fix it yet. I think I’m on the path to discovering something and I’ll get into that in my next post. I learned all of this and immediately learned that the verse God gave me at the very beginning of this fast is now coming to play and I would’ve never in a million years guessed it related to the healing of my adrenal system.