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.

Fasting {Weeks 4-10}

Sometimes I can’t even comprehend the passage of time. I wrote about weeks 1, 2, and 3 of this 24 week fast but somehow totally glazed over weeks 4-10.

I have been on a path of healing, but what exactly does that look like? Weird.  It’s a physical, mental, and spiritual healing and they’re are intertwined and knotted together.  I pull on one string and think I’m getting somewhere only to find it leads to another knot that must be tugged and loosened and finally unbound. Then it happens again.

I’m currently reading a book called Mind Over Medicine by Dr. Lissa Rankin and everything in it rings true. For the last 20 years I’ve been trying to redirect my negative thoughts and actions, weeding out toxic people from my life, seeking whole healing. It started with a book called Happiness is a Choice. I read that one at 19 when my first husband left me. I haven’t always been diligent in seeking this healing (meaning I haven’t focused on it daily for two decades) but it has always been a goal.  More of a pipe-dream, maybe, because I’m not sure I fully believed it could ever happen. Add to that the constant message from the church that says we’re broken people, we sin, we can’t help it, we won’t be whole until we get to heaven.  Thanks church, for that uplifting message.  Or this one Christ heals, but not like He did in the New Testament. That’s over. But hey, you go ahead and pray for healing, see how that works out for ya.
I’m not saying we’re not broken, or we’re not sinners–but really, this message is *not* the Good News message that Christ came to this earth to teach.

I’ve been struggling lately with this idea of going back to church. There hasn’t been a Christian thus far who hasn’t tried to say that being with a congregation-at-a-local-building is better than being without one. They site the same passage, the only one I think there is.  And while I believe that a community of like-minded believers IS important, I do not believe that I have to find it at the local church building. I’m just not convinced God has called me to the cookie-cutter ways of what passes for “church.”  If it works for you, great! Keep it up and do your thing. It’s not working for me. It has never worked for me. It has been horrible and unloving (except one family) and negative. On the other hand, the people God brings into my life for me to mentor, the ones he has brought alongside of me to hold me up and encourage me, pray for me, and point out truths–those people have brought me undeniable joy (even in the hard times and hard lessons.)

I am more and more convinced that in this season of my life, at least, I am not supposed to be involved with a local congregation. I’m sorry if you think that’s a sin. I have discussed this at length with God and I’m positive He is not calling me to find a local, weekly meeting place to be a part of.

I think He’s got me on a journey, one I can’t yet explain, but one that has me closer to Him than I’ve ever been before. And sometimes He does things that others deem wrong. (y’know, like when Jesus healed on the Sabbath.) There were times Jesus was called away from people and if I’m to live following His example, it makes sense that God could (and would) call me away for a season.

I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned thus far in this fast (along with the other fasts I’ve done) is that obeying God above people is hard. In one ear people are shouting endlessly who God is and what He does (and does not do) and when I shut them out, God is there saying the same thing over and over, “I AM.”

I’m choosing to trust Him and not what people say about Him.  That’s a pretty desolate road, but one I’m sure is the right one.

At My Table

As always, something I posted on Facebook started a ruckus.  I congratulated Minnesota on it’s same-sex marriage legislation.

Oh the horror! A Christian embracing sin!

Yes, it’s what I do. I walk around all day every day trying to figure out how I can disrupt the Good Christian’s walk. I come up with schemes and plans that make Bible-beaters cringe.  I try to find ways to get them to lecture me and quote Scripture to me.

Sigh.

It got me to thinking, would Christ have dined at my table?

IMG_1413

The Pharisees of Christ’s day are today’s Christians who walk around acting as if they are better than the rest. It goes something like this: “Love the sinner, hate the sin.”  (find that in the Bible, wouldja please?)  What that says to people is: I am better than you. I do not have to acknowledge that I, too, am a sinner and that Christ has completely forgiven me. I am better than you therefore I will point out your sin and pretend I love you when I really don’t because I wouldn’t be caught anywhere near your filth, because I’m better than you.

I’d tell you people who would argue with me to read your Bibles, but that a moot point.  Because you probably do read bits and pieces of it. What you’re lacking is proximity to Jesus.

The Pharisees read the texts, too. Wore the right clothes. Said the right words. Studied. Regurgitated. And yet, did Christ dine at their table? Or did He throw off their money-changing tables with fierceness?

The Pharisees did not want to be close to Jesus. They wanted to tell him what a Messiah really should’ve been like.

If you want to go after a group of people sinning, how about the Christians who are getting divorced? The Christians who are prideful? The Christians who are lying constantly?  These things:

Here are six things God hates,
and one more that he loathes with a passion:

eyes that are arrogant,
a tongue that lies,
hands that murder the innocent,
a heart that hatches evil plots,
feet that race down a wicked track,
a mouth that lies under oath,
a troublemaker in the family.

Why go after unbelievers with your rules and regulations and cries of, “Sinner!!”

Why not get the plank out of your own eye before picking the speck out of someone else’s?

“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

It’s just sick to me the way these “Christians” walk around with their noses in the air, looking down on everyone, judging them, condemning them, telling them how to live and oh by the way–come to Jesus you pathetic, disgusting, vile, sinner, you. He will love you.

Because, yeah, that’s the way to show someone the love of Christ pouring from your very soul that He saved.

At my table are the misfits. (the sinners in case you don’t understand the reference, me being the chief sinner.)

And you perfect Christians can just keep bashing me.

{restore} I’m back

Some of you know me as a writer/editor, some know me as a visual artist.

I haven’t done any significant writing or editing since the summer of 2010 when my mom passed away. I sat in her hospital room daily working on final edits for my first foray as Editor-in-Chief.

After it went to print and after just a small bit of promotion, I dropped the gig. It was too much. I had too many responsibilities and too many people to be accountable for and I could barely be accountable for myself.

I was proud of it. One story was given an honorable mention for The Year’s Best Horror (Box by Dan Keohane.) Other Editor’s Choice winners have gone on to book deals and awards and very rewarding writing careers. My (graduated) intern is working at a division of Hachette in New York City, my other (graduated) intern is working on staff at Willowcreek South Barrington. So much good came out of this one little thing.

But it was too much at the time.

Then the art happened.  And flourished. Wow it just explode or what?! So I’ve been focusing on that since 2010.

A couple weeks ago an opportunity was presented to me and I immediately said, “No way.” Then things happened rather quickly and I found myself in a position of no longer being able to say no.

So. The official news is I’m back…I’m the new (again) Editor-in-Chief of The Midnight Diner. I’m assembling a team, working on strategy, examining changes that need to be made, brainstorming what the future will look like, setting goals, and being nervous!!!!

When I chose {restore} as my word for 2013, I hadn’t an inkling of a clue that I’d come back to writing, editing, and publishing.

Wow.

And yes, I’m as shocked as you are.

Fasting {week 3}

I’m finding it difficult to put into words the events of this week. It never crossed my mind that what happened was related to fasting, but a good friend said something along the lines of: hey! Your fast is really working!! And that kinda rocked my world (that had already been rocked by this situation I’m going to talk about.)

I wrote a guest post for a conference I’m presenting at next month. The theme is The Mind and Spirit of the Artist. All of the guest posts have been discussing the mental health of the artist: depression, suicide, anxiety, etc… I felt a strong urge to share a story I’d never told anyone. Not Phil. Not my longest, dearest friend.

no one.

I kept it secret mostly because I was ashamed of my behavior. Partly because it was so long ago and why dig up bones buried long so long ago?

A Time to Heal

Two things converged and led to me telling the story. One is the piece I wrote for the Listen to Your Mother show–all about my mom. That piece really brought up some issues I hadn’t dealt with since her death.  And that brought up memories, including this one I’d never talked about nor shared. Then, after reading a few of the other guest posts concerning The Mind and Spirit of the Artist, I knew I had to do it. I had to dig it out of the suitcase of baggage I carry and throw it out to the wind.

and it was scary.

The post went live on Monday morning, a week before I’d expected, so I was caught off guard when I saw the link shared on Facebook. I took a deep breath and prayed.

 In fact, you ever run across one of those stories and your reaction is “wow, even them?”  That was my reaction when Michelle Pendergrass sent me her guest blog.

That was from Maurice, long time friend, founder of the conference I’m doing the Visual Prayer workshop at, and like many others, someone who didn’t know my past.

I shared the link in the morning and evening, like I do with all my posts. At around ten in the evening, Maurice messaged me. “Did you see who commented? You might want to go take a look.”

and yeah.

shock might be a grand understatement.

Tuesday and Wednesday were a bit of a tornado of chat messages, phone calls, and texts. Most everyone wanted to know how it made me feel. For me, the bottom line is this: I offered up a piece of myself to God that I had been hiding from the rest of the world. He knew it was there. I was the one who hadn’t released it. A man I haven’t seen nor spoken to in nearly twenty years somehow found that story the same day I posted it and apologized.

To me that means God took that offering and transformed it. Just as He has time and time again.

I pray that it gives others the courage to unload their baggage. I’m a writer, God made me that way…I don’t think everyone is called to share in such a public forum, that would terrify some into an emotional paralysis. Telling stories is one of the outlets God gave me. I think He gives each of us what we need. Maybe you have a trusted friend or a mentor, a parent, a sibling. We are called to bear each other’s burdens. I pray that if you’re hiding something, you ask God to lead you to your outlet and offer it up.  These secrets have no hold on us when we hand them over to Him. We give them power, we feed them with our fears and anxieties.

We all have secrets.

The one you’re thinking about right this second–that’s the one you need to hand over. Quit hoarding it.