Friday, July 20, 2012

How to be a Superhero Friend

Here's how you do it: Just be like my friend Angela.

She's a whole 'nother kind of saint.

My beautiful friend Angela, and her husband Shalin

I have had many good friends, and I could write something about each one. Right now I could especially write a whole lot about those who have been the most amazing friends - my husband, my mom, and Julie. And a few others... I love, appreciate, and need all of you. I need a whole community of people these days and am floored at the way God works through all of you... but that's another post...

The friend I really want to share about right now is Angela. I want to tell others about her because I have never had a friend quite like her before, and there is something about her that just astounds me.

Angela has a lot of uniquenesses, to be sure. She isn't from here and speaks with a southern accent. She is more openly emotional than most of us are around here! She is an extremely brave woman and mom, to have moved away from all her family and friends to the middle of a bunch of cornfields... because God called her to marriage and a new life.

But none of these things are what make our friendship so special.

A sample from this week. My dear friend took two hours out of her busy life to walk around with us in 100-degree weather and take family pictures for us. We were all sweating. Why would we take pictures outside when it's 100 degrees? Because it's become very difficult for me to schedule anything like that knowing I will feel well enough to do it when the time comes. But Angela knows this, and she would understand if I had to bail out at the last minute. In fact, I believe this happened a few times last summer and we never got pictures taken. So, we made a tentative plan and we got it done. It was hot, but I was available, so she made herself available.

Making herself available is what she has done for the past four years for us. She has spent countless hours caring for our son when needed - at a moment's notice - on days when I have been physically unable and Shane had to go to work. Pushing him in the stroller, playing with him on the floor, singing to him, and distracting him from the pain. I remember one of the first times she came to the rescue. I could hear her smiling and talking with my baby, and I was just crying in thanks to God for sending someone who did it like I would be doing it. She has spent hours and hours loving my son to pieces. She is like an aunt to him.

But I wasn't sure why she came. It amazes me to know someone who chooses not to ignore the needs that she sees; instead, she makes those needs first priority. I would've understood it more if I had first done something for her, been a friend to her. But our friendship was so new, we were both new to the area and she just reached out to us. She didn't ask for anything first - she has never expected anything from me. And to be honest, I have not had much opportunity to give back to her at all. This is why I am astounded that, even until today, if I call this lady she is there.

Not only is she there... she is ALL there. There are a lot of emotions that come with physical disability, and she has been there to listen to them. She has let me cry and held my hand. She has prayed. One time I was in horrible pain, had the shakes from it, needed cold rags, etc. Shane was trying to take care of me AND get our little boy to sleep, without letting him into the bedroom. It was a desperate situation. Somehow Angela knew something was wrong, and she showed up at the door just in time to help me while Shane took care of our child. She listened to my pain, sang to me, and held my hair back while I threw up. Then took care of the mess. Yeah, that's right. She did that...

On top of stepping in as a babysitter and a nurse, my friend (or shall I say, sister for life... that's what happens after someone takes care of you while you puke)... has also been such an encourager. She has made special jewelry for me, made a CD of worship songs for me, sent me encouraging e-mails and texts, and called just to see how I'm doing. She cleaned our house before we moved in and she helped us move. She has clothes-shopped for me when I haven't had enough windows of time to get out of the house. I will never be able to repay all the favors she has so joyfully done. 

Angela has been through some very difficult times in life, but I wasn't there for those so I will never know what her struggles were really like. However, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the brothers and sisters of Seacoast Church for the love they poured onto her during those times. When I thank her, she always says, "I just think, what would I want someone to do for me?" Then she refers back to those who helped her and her pastor who says, "If you refuse to let someone help you, you are robbing them of the joy of giving." Thank you, Pastor, whoever you are.

Angela, really, is the kind of friend I hope to be someday. And God has revealed to me what the difference is in being this kind of friend. It is a laying down of your own life... even your own family's life... for the sake of the family of God. (I am not saying she has neglected her own family. Her amazing son, though, is old enough to keep himself occupied and has also helped out!) I am Angela's sister in Christ, but the thing is she really acts like I am her sister. I am so challenged by this. Who would give up their own time, even their own family time, to take care of someone else when they are a complete mess?? Who does that??

I will tell you who does that. Jesus, our mutual Lord and Savior, does that. He lays down his life for his friends. "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends" (John 15:13).

I love you, Angela, and thank you for laying down your life for me. May God bless you abundantly.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

All About Allergies

So many people deal with allergies nowadays, and I have learned so much about them over the past few years, that I thought it might be worth writing about.

First of all, let me just say that if you are a Christian, "managing" allergies is a tricky thing. The Bible says that by the stripes of Jesus and his blood shed for us, we are healed. We ARE healed (already, present tense).

This is one hundred percent true, and we are daily appropriating our faith in this absolute healing, but sometimes deliverance happens over time as we are released from worldly bondage. Some people even assert that allergies can be caused by a spiritual root of fear, or a spirit of fear. While the Bible does not say this directly, we do know that all disease is rooted in sin, and agreeing with a spirit of fear is a sin. And, it makes logical sense because just as fear puts up a wall of self-defense, so in allergies the body is aggressively overdefending itself. Let me explain.

Allergies are an overactive immune response. The immune system spends tons of energy fighting and fighting, trying to protect itself, against normally harmless particles. Whether food, grass, chemicals, or animals -- pretty much anything can become an "enemy" to fight against if the body is talked into it. The body then fights and fights and fights, until it is exhausted. And because it is so busy fighting these things, when a real illness comes the body doesn't have enough juice left to fight it off. This is allergies.

Similarly, some of us have spent too much time in fear, defending and protecting ourselves from everything and everyone because at one point or another we got hurt. We choose not to rest in God and let him fight for us. We choose to be on the alert at all times, protecting ourselves from those who might hurt us or our children. An overactive defense mechanism.

No matter what has happened in my life, as a child of the living God this is simply not true. God, my Father, is always defending me and always will. I need not protect myself. As I appropriate my faith in this biblical truth on a situational basis, I am freed from this lie and the spirit of fear. My body, I believe, is in a transition period. It is learning to follow suit as my thought life is transformed.


Human beings have created some helpful stuff for "in the meantime." I do the best I can to take care of my body. To be a good nurse for Doctor Jesus. There are a few things I have found helpful to my immune system as it recovers. (As I list these, please remember that I am not a doctor. I am simply sharing ideas that have helped me.)

1) Change your diet.

You can try an elimination diet for food allergies. Find a way to get antioxidants to help cleanse your body of toxins. And cut out sugar. Sugar is the immune system's enemy and prevents it from functioning well.

2) Rinse your nose with a neti pot after every trip outside.

Once or twice a day. It feels awesome and you will probably sleep better. A neti pot cleans out the allergens and particles that get stuck way up in the nasal cavity. Saline spray is not as good because it doesn't go all the way through the nose and flush everything out.

3) Take 2000-5000 i.u. of vitamin D3 every day for immune support.

All of us are deficient in this unless we live in the tropics, and vitamin D deficiency is being called an epidemic. Vitamin D3 has been used to prevent and treat disease, including depression. I suggest getting your levels tested.

4) Vitamin C.

I like the drinkable kind as it also gives a boost of energy.

5) Run an air purifier in your bedroom.

Because you spend the majority of your time sleeping. We are using one with a pre-filter, HEPA filter, and a charcoal filter. We also installed a UV purifier into your air duct system that sterilizes living particles (bacteria, viruses, mold, pollens, etc) that would be blown back through our house. Make your house an oasis so that your body has a place to recover after being outside.

6) Run the AC at all times.

Air conditioning not only keeps it cool; it also filters the particles that blow in from outside.

7) Clean and/or change all filters regularly.

Change the AC filter every month.

8) Vacuum.

As often as possible.

9) Dust.

Once a month.

10) Keep the windows and doors closed.

11) Stay in the house as much as you can.

Be careful with this. As God's children we are not to fear, and you don't want to end up fearing your environment. Perhaps that would make your allergies worse! But just be smart and know that you have made your home an oasis. When you're really fatigued from breathing a lot of outdoor allergens, stay in for a couple days. Learn to be content in every situation. Personally, it has been a good thing for me as a homemaker to learn to be content in my own home. And don't allow pets, smoke, mold, flowers, etc into your home.

12) Avoid unnecessary immunizations.

Immunizations cause the immune system to work extremely hard, and if your immune system is already weak or compromised, an immunization can be dangerous.

13) Shower every night.

To wash away all the allergens from the day.

14) Wash your face and hands every time you come in from outside.

I feel immediately better when I do this.

15) Antihistamine.

Take it daily and don't forget.

If you are in the midst of it like I am, pray for deliverance. And nurse your body. There are lots of other ways to nurse your body, but I tried to include the ones I find most helpful specifically for allergies.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How to Get Godly Character

Do you ever look at your life and wonder, When will the drama end? 

I do. And I am inclined to get exasperated and stressed out about dealing with one trial after another. However, instead of flipping out, it is good to remind ourselves that without these trials, God could not develop in us his godly character.

Today I woke up with horrible knee pain. This after several days of migraine and computer problems and working out some relationship issues and missing my son who is staying with my parents. So when the knee went bonkers, my first thought, of course, was, "Seriously?! What's next?!"

But God tells us that we shouldn't be surprised when trials come:

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." I Peter 4:12-13

In fact, the trials and sufferings are the vehicle by which he transports his character into us:

"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4

So, as the trials become more frequent and intense, I am learning to consciously stop flipping out, long enough to ask myself, "What part of my character could I claim right now?"

Sometimes it's peace in a fearful situation.

Sometimes it's supernatural joy in the midst of pain.

Sometimes, it's loving someone else in their foolishness.

Sometimes it's trusting God to care for my child when I can't be there.

These are all difficult things to do on my own, but without the trials, how would I ever learn to depend on God? How would our character develop if our lives were always happy, smooth, and trial-less?

When you look at it that way, it's ultimately a huge privilege when God allows trials in our lives. We don't welcome the pain or the torment that Satan offers, but we do welcome the peace, joy, love, and trust that God is holding out to us with loving arms. We know that we are being made like Jesus, and that is what's best for all those around us, too.