Thursday, March 28, 2013

Staying Positive

I get asked a lot about how I stay positive all the time.  With so much going on with my health, how do I not give in to depression or despair.  Well, sometimes I want to.  I can feel it creeping up inside of me.  So here are my strategies to stay positive.

  • I've started thanking God for everything, from the chronic pain to the roof over my head.  When you come at life from an attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude it is hard not to have joy and remain positive.
  • I change my perspective.  I read a book, watch a movie, etc that changes my perspective on my life and my problems.  I'm sure some of you have heard the phrase "first world problems."  And that's essentially what I think of when I think of this step.  This is even more evident to me now that I'm a sponsor. 
  • I pray.  Sometimes it's as simple as "Oh Lord, I hurt.  Please help."  Sometimes it's long, drawn out pleas for healing.  And a lot of the time, it's not even about me.
  • I stay grounded in the Word.  Jeremiah 17:7-8 says,
    "But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.  They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.  Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought.  Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit."
    When we stay grounded in the Word and put our confidence in God, we don't have to worry about the hard times because He is our hope and our confidence.  

    This is what works best for me.  How do you stay positive when the going gets tough?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Story

I told you I would write my story on Monday and I procrastinated so much that now it is technically Tuesday, but I haven't slept yet. So if I wanted to split hairs, I could say I am keeping my word. But truthfully, coming clean with my story behind even the (somewhat) anonymity of the internet scares me. You never know who could be reading.  If I went through my whole testimony, it would probably take up several pages so I'm going to try to keep it somewhat short and sweet, focusing mainly on what God is doing in my life right now with a brief introduction on how I got here.

I had a difficult childhood, not a terrible one.   I had enough to eat, a roof over my head and food to eat but I was physically, emotionally and/or sexually abused by three different males in my family (at different times).  It wasn't as bad as the horror stories you hear but it was bad enough that it had a huge impact on me, how I saw myself and how I saw men, especially older males in authority over me.

I found God and Christ as a teenager and grasped onto Him with both hands, hoping for something.  At 14, I don't think I really knew what I needed.  Instead of seeking true healing through God's mercy and grace, I tried to turn it into a salvation by works.  And if you've been saved by grace, you know that doesn't work.  And I began to sink into a deep depression.  At 15, I began to self-harm.  Taking a lighter, I would burn myself whenever emotions would get too overwhelming.  The physical pain was my way of coping with the emotional.  By 17, I was on my way to becoming a hermit.  I was still attending church and going to school, but that was about it.  I barely had outside contact with my friends.

I began using the internet for the majority of my social needs.  I got sucked into online gaming, chat rooms, the world of cyber sex and erotic literature.  I eventually graduated high school and started community college but I was struggling.  Just the though of moving out of my parents' home would send me into panic attacks.  I wanted help and when I sought it out, some things were said/implied that made me leave my church.

I wouldn't start attending church regularly for another 11 years.

Last April, I got really ill.  I couldn't keep food down.  And pardon me for being graphic, but it was coming out both ends.  I went to the emergency room four times before they finally figured out that my gall bladder was only functioning at 4%.  I was told if I just ate a low-fat diet I should be fine and was sent home.  Within four days I was back again, I still couldn't keep food down.  This time, surgery was scheduled and they took my gall bladder out.  A week later, I was back again.  This time I was in isolation.  Eventually they treated me for c. difficile.  But I spent six days in the hospital, most of the time in isolation, alone.

God had me where He wanted me.  I realized how much I missed that reassurance that I had had all those years ago when I was walking faithfully with Him.  I was terrified those six days and I wanted my God.  That Sunday I went back to church and rededicated my life to Him.  

I am thirty-two years old.  I have fibromyalgia syndrome, osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism and a chiari malformation.  This means that I am in chronic pain.  I take a total of six different medications each day.  And I am content. Why?  Because I trust in my Lord.  He has a plan for me, a glorious one.  What it is?  He knows.  I just remind myself that what happens here isn't going to last forever, that there will come a day when my pain will be gone.  He may heal me here on Earth or He may wait until I join Him in heaven.  Either way, I will be healed someday.

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Life Changed

I don't have time to write a long post.  But I promise I'll write my story on Monday.  But I wanted to post this video about a life changed. As I said on Wednesday, Compassion works. Watch the video about Olive and how Compassion changed her life. This is just one of many stories which you can view on on Compassion's Vimeo channel. I chose her because she's a social worker and that's what I was studying to be. I'll explain more on Monday.

Olive Aneno - A Life Changed from Compassion International on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

So what is this blindfolded faith about?

For me, I really seem to struggle with faith.  I believe in God with my whole heart and I love Him.  But I really struggle with trusting Him.  I could go into the long and sorid details of my life and give you excuses why.  But it just comes down to one word.

Fear.

Have you been there? 

A few weeks ago, I found a quote in one of the books I read (I'm an avid reader) and it just stuck with me.
"I love the recklessness of faith.  First you leap and then you grow wings."                                  -William Sloane Coffin
Who wouldn't want wings?  But before I could get wings, I had to get a handle on this faith problem I had.  So I started to tackle it on two fronts.  First, I started praying for more faith.  Second, I started to blindfold myself.  Not literally, more like spiritually.  See, for me faith is like skydiving.  And I have a small fear of heights.  To jump out of a perfectly sound plane sounds crazy and you would need to blindfold me to do it.

So to take a leap of faith, I blindfold myself spiritually, put my trust in my God and leap.  As you can read above, it took a leap of faith for me to sponsor my little boy in Burkina Faso.  My husband and I aren't the richest.  We wouldn't even be considered middle class.  In fact, most people would consider us under America's poverty line.  But compared to the people Compassion helps, I'm a queen.  People in BF live on an average of $20 a month, I know I couldn't do that.

Will you take a leap of faith with me?  And sponsor a child?  See, coming up next month is Compassion Sunday.  I thank God everyday that I was born in a land of plenty.  But there are thousands of children that are not.  And God calls on us to take care of the poor, the orphans, the little ones.  And sponsoring works!  Don't believe me?  Check out this study.

Sponsorship is more than just helping the child learn about Christianity.  You help feed the child, give the child access to medical care and important life-skills training.  But you also have the chance to develop a life-changing relationship with your sponsored child.  Through letters, you can encourage your child to stay in school, to come to know Christ.  You can love and assure them.  You can make a difference.

So will you sponsor this child?  And in doing so, you not only help her, you also might help my sponsor child.  If I can help two children get sponsored, my sponsor child's family gets $50.00.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Taking a Leap

Ever since I was a little girl, I've seen the commercials on TV. I've laughed and scoffed at them. I But it never really took root in my heart. This past year, God has been working to heal my heart and recently as we began the Lenten season I began to pray that God would break my heart (gently mind you...) and remold it to love like His.

I read a book called "A Hole in Our Gospel" by Rich Stearns, the President and CEO of World Vision.  I cried most of the way through it.  By the end I felt a small prodding to sponsor a child.  I began to make excuses why we couldn't. Why we shouldn't. Like Moses at the burning bush, I couldn't see what my magnificent God had planned for me.


Then I read in my Lent devotional that the time of Lent is not just about fasting, it is also about helping the poor. And I realized, I wasn't living in trust and faith. So at a recent Gods Not Dead tour concert, when Jason from Building 429 started talking about sponsoring children and Compassion International, I started feeling a more insistent prodding. I took a blindfolded leap of faith and I raised my hand. And when I looked down at my packet, I cried.


Looking up at me was this beautiful boy with this expression that reminded me of an old 1980s sitcom ("Whatcha talking about Willis?!").  A small giggle escaped through the tears.  I eagerly opened the packet and soaked up the little information within.

He was four years old and from Burkina Faso.  BF is a small, landlocked country in western Africa.  It's little bigger than Colorado.  It battles HIV/AIDs, diseases that we have cures and vaccines for, and child rights violations such as slavery.


It is one of the poorest countries in the world and is one of the most illiterate countries in the world.  And I thanked God that I had been blessed to be born in the United States and began praying for this little boy that He brought into my life.

I didn't have my debit card with me that night, so it wasn't until the next day that I set up my account.   But it would take up to two weeks to get my welcome packet (I just received it today!).  So onto my computer and Google I went for more information.  And more heart breaking.

Eventually, I had to step away.  I was on information overload.  Then late last week, I received a thank you letter from Compassion and it had my sponsor number on it so I was able to sign up for my account at compassion.com and ourcompassion.org.  And I was able to write my first letter to my child online.  Just a short one about me, Tony and where we live.  It'll be weeks to a couple of months before I get my first letter.  But I am so excited.  I took a leap of faith.  And now I'm flying with God as my wings.

"For I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.  I was a stranger, and you invited me into my home.  I was naked, and you gave me clothing.  I was sick, and you cared for me.  I was in prison, and you visited me.  

'Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you?  Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality?  Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'

'And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'"  Matthew 25:35-40