Archive of ‘The Good Life’ category

Bollywood, the ER and Detox

Guys…GUYS…how in the world has it been almost a month since I have written? Geez Louise! So much to say, so much crazy happening in our world to keep me from saying it! We survived the frenzy of the last month of school, I turned 38 and went away to a B&B with my long legged lover, I dealt with tremendous physical trials (drama to unfold below), photographed two weddings and one maternity session, there has been much sorrow around us that has required my time and emotional energy and we wrapped up Life group for the summer. Whewwww…. May and October seem to be the months that go by in hyper speed no matter how much you say “no” to and try to simplify.

Lo and behold summer is here and I have three wee ones sun up to sun down so I will continue to juggle my days a little more. We have a wonderful summer ahead of us including visiting my brothers family on the mission field in Costa Rica next month! Can we take a moment and ooooh and ahhhh over my dear friend Kristin. Hands down she is one of my most favoritist people to photograph. She is just nuts beautiful and we have the BEST, most girly time styling and prepping each outfit.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you all of you for your sweet comments on the blog, FB, instagram, emails, texts. I had no idea what a chord I struck with so many. I know I’m not alone in suffering for sure but I realize so many of us try to stick a cork on it when we are ready to burst and it takes someone sharing their story to pop that cork! Your trust and candor in sharing your stories with me is humbling. You are on my heart when I read and pray further into this topic. I can’t recommend this book any stronger. I got mine used for $2.00….so worth it!

As I left off not so cryptically I let you know that I am in yet another health battle of epic proportions. If only I could hand out tiny violins to all of you to play while I explain my recent drama. The background music would be so fitting.

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On April 8th I was shaking my money maker at Bollywood class at the Y. This is my favorite class hands down. Seriously, SO MUCH FUN and average of 750 calories burned in the hour. NUTS! Anywho…besides the fact I would probably die of embarrassment if someone videoed me from behind I give myself over fully to each and every rhythmic bounce and shimmy. I’ve been doing this class for months so it was weird when about 45 mins in I thought I was going to pass out or vomit or worse. My stomach was a mess and it wasn’t until five mins after we left the Y that I had to have my friend make an emergency stop to McDonalds so I could go…ahem….you know. Praise God for empty bathrooms. No walk of shame needed when exiting. Last post it was Burger King, this one McDonalds. Clearly I am making a strong stance against fast food :-)

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By the time we got home I noticed when I took my seatbelt off that right below my belly button I had some acute pain. I mean I couldn’t put any pressure on my skin or it hurt, let alone stand up straight. It was disconcerting but I chalked it up to gas and took Rhett home because I knew he wouldn’t tell a soul what he was about to experience in the car or the privacy of our house. However, hour after hour went by and the pain intensified. After several rounds in the bathroom the pain had not moved down my intestines as I had hoped and I started to get alarmed.

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I did what anyone else would do and yet we are warned not to do…I googled it. Hands down, across the board Appendicitis came up. I had 7 out of 10 “signs” and of course each website ends their description with “GO TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE”. Let me tell you. I don’t run to the doctor for anything let alone the ER. I’ve been around the block for 12 years with stomach issues so I don’t get bent out of shape about my stomach being wonky. However, this was different and I knew it. I called Ryan to run everything by him and let him know I was agonizing over if I should go or not. It’s sad but all I could think of is how much time is involved and our deductible not met. The thought of my appendix potentially bursting was enough for me to just go.
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LONG story short. Five hours later, a cat scan, IV fluids and meds, and a bogus diagnosis of…wait for it….stomach flu with intestinal infection (no appendicitis)….I was on my way with my several thousand dollar bill to choke on. This was no flu and I knew it. What began that day was sun up to sun down pain in my stomach like I haven’t felt in years. Diarrhea all day long for WEEKS. I was miserable and had a hard time functioning or attending anything. The couch and I were BFF. I was trying to tough it all out until I met with a new doctor on May 1st for a full body work up. A few days prior to my appt. my friend Bethany said flippantly in a conversation “Don’t be surprised if he suggests gluten free for awhile.” Me in my cynicism and intolerance of all things “buzz word” just rolled my eyes. Isn’t EVERYONE gluten intolerant these days? Or so I thought. Shame on me. I’m thankful she mentioned it. She left my house and I…..googled it! Well jokes on me. My jaw hit the floor after I read articles like this. Debatably I have 9 out of 10 “signs” that chronically or frequently plague me for as long as I have been dealing with my intestinal issues. Never would I have put things like the “chicken skin on the back of arms” and my “PCOS” under the same umbrella. I sent the list to Ryan and he wrote back “It’s like someone did a case study on you!” NOW HERE THIS….. I am not saying I have gluten intolerance…..YET. I’m just saying I had an emotional reaction to reading about gluten intolerance and feeling for the first time that this COULD be the answer to my terrible quality of life. A major dietary shift COULD be my key to conquering what plagues me daily. I was 100% on board with eliminating all things gluten and seeing.
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Sadly, the doctors appt. I had high hopes for turned out to be disappointing. I didn’t bat an eye when he diagnosed me with fibromyalsia. VERY typical diagnosis for someone who is gluten intolerant but I don’t think I have it. Yes in the nebulous sense of that diagnosis of chronic pain, bowel issues and fatigue that’s me…but could there be a cure?
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Before I went to my doctors appt on May 1st I put myself on a gluten free lifestyle on April 26th. The relentless pain I had gone through for three weeks stopped within three days. I’m listening body…..I’m listening…..let’s do this.

What I did not understand or begin to anticipate is the EXTREME level of detox my body would and continues to go through to rid itself of decades of toxins locked away in the intestinal lining. Some people only detox for a week or so while others can cycle in and out of detox for up to a year. IF I were a betting woman, knowing that my intestines are so severely damaged for 12 years, that’s going to be my story. I spent the better part of May in some of the most excruciating physical, mental and emotional hell I’ve ever encountered. Who knew extracting gluten would tip a domino in my body that hasn’t stopped banging into the next domino. I was a MESS…A MESS PEOPLE! I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t function. I knew eating a loaf of bread wouldn’t stop it. I was committed to this dagnabit….but I was about to lose my ever loving mind.
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I also began taking Juice Plus. Something I have had ACTUAL people in my life take for years and see incredible physical and mental healing from. It’s just never been in the budget before. Well while we are at it overhauling our cabinets with food I couldn’t pronounce before…let’s just get the ole Kelster on some JP too. That’s a post for another day. Those who take it are fanatical about it. I hope to be one of them some day. I have high hopes for JP aiding in my journey to heal. We are working up to getting the family all on it. Does anyone want to buy Rhett so we can do this? Kidding…sort of.
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I was so overwhelmed at first trying to figure out how to afford a gluten free lifestyle, make time to teach myself how to cook TOTALLY different than I normally do. I typically make Paula Dean proud with the amount of cream based, comfort food I pump out in a week. Don’t worry, there’s a side salad to balance it out! Those around me were so helpful to pass on links and text recipes but I was drinking from a firehose of information and my brain was shutting down. I was so fragile due to detoxing that I would just open the cabinets and cry trying to figure out what to do.
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I grew up in a home that didn’t eat fresh vegetables….that’s just the way it was. You want peas? Grab a can and open. Don’t forget the butter and salt! I had never eaten kale or brussel sprouts in my life until just recently. It’s humbling to say at almost 40 that you don’t know how to cook common vegetables or what something tastes like that you’ve passed in the produce department your whole life. The problem with me is I am a food snob. I don’t want to buy it or eat it unless it will be full of flavor and I know I haven’t wasted time or money. Browsing Pinterest for gluten free recipes couldn’t guarantee I would like it. I’m so thankful for my Juice Plus distributer. She goes to my church and is passionate about seeing people come to full holistic health through diet, nutrition and Jesus! She actually opened up her house for a few of us JP clients and did a cooking class. I was thrilled. I am such a kinesthetic learner and I want to TASTE first. So this was the lottery for me.

I fell long and hard for my new food BFF…quinoa. Never had it in my life. Now I want to make out with every bowl I see.
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I was also gifted the BESTEST EVER cookbook by my friend Sarah for my bday. This has been the KEY to me getting organized in my pantry and focusing my energy on just her recipes at this time. Let me tell you. I make at least one recipe a day and they are not just good but a virtual party in my mouth delicious! ( I haven’t gone vegan but we are definitely eating much less meat and by default of the recipes hardly an ounce of dairy or refined sugar!)

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I am still “detoxing” but the intensity and the frequency are starting to space out. I mean who has two thumbs and has had her “monthly time” THREE TIMES in the last 37 days….this girl. A hormonal wrecking ball I am….BUT… I can see small windows of a few days where I have more energy and my ability to concentrate and be present is SO MUCH better. I feel like the little engine that could.

Oh She Glows- Tex Mex Casserole "gluten free"

Oh She Glows- Tex Mex Casserole “gluten free”

I am becoming a more confident cook as well. I am surprising myself how I can time manage better and also how many things my kids are eating now that are super dooper healthy and I don’t have to threaten them to get them to swallow it. That’s how tasty these recipes are. Even Ryan has jumped on board with me and is eating things I never dreamed he would put down his mouth.

Oh She Glows- Fudgy Mocha Pudding Cake "gluten free"

Oh She Glows- Fudgy Mocha Pudding Cake “gluten free”

So here we are at the beginning. I still have a long, long, LONG way to go. Gluten has a half-life every 90 days. My intestines are sick, very sick now for 12 long difficult years. I’m in it for much more than this 90 days. I am trying to adopt the mindset that this is the way I need to eat permanently. I would be shocked if I am not gluten intolerant. In the fall I will add some gluten back in for a few days to see what sort of reaction if any I have. I am really giving myself a full year for results because I think I need to be realistic from the starting place I am at. I’m hoping once detox ends that the weight will also start to come off. So far just a few pounds but the more I understand about how the gut works its no wonder my body is holding on to its “protective layer” so hard and fast. Go easy on advice on this. I am giving you a very broad stroke of the last few months but I have had much counsel, much reading, much praying, much crying, much pleading, much relenting of old ways to get here. Know that there is more to these decisions than I have space/time to write. I’ll take your encouragement though!

So there it is…..I’m still in “it”…I’m just not over my head like I was in April and May. To end this let me quote Catch Me if you Can.

Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse, wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out. Gentlemen, as of this moment, I am that second mouse.

and I hope I am! I hope next May I am obnoxiously in your face having crawled out of the bucket with new found health and quality of life. Time will tell but this is my path.

The Refinement of Affliction

By my junior year in college I began waking in the night with pain in my back. This was rather annoying as you can imagine. Remember the days of college where you picked your own classes and schedule and you could structure it so you had a big fatty break in the middle of your day to do luxurious things like nap? That was how I coped with this new phenomenon happening in my life.

What started out as a sporadic event began to increase in frequency so that by the time I graduated in 1998 (yeah thats right….from COLLEGE!!! How is it possible?) I was waking up multiple times a night, EVERY night. Egg crates on a plastic dorm mattress seemed to only exacerbate my issue. I didn’t know what to do.

There isn’t enough space to go into my whole history but I will hit the highlights to give some context to this post.

To “lighten” it all up there will be some pictures of the outside of the house as this spring is showing that the labor of last spring was not in vain. With the help of our small group we tilled up 42 feet long and 4 feet deep along our porch, put weed liner down, new soil, planted…transplanted and mulched. A MASSIVE undertaking that everyone worked tirelessly on. 95% of what was planted last April is growing, blooming and doubling in size creating beautiful vignettes all around the house. We cut down the huge trees swallowing the front of our house and ground down the stumps. We also decided to dig out the overgrown boxwoods along the front (basically a cardinal sin in the south but oh well!) The other side of the house was just dirt. I wanted a more “cottage” look that over a few years would fill in with that wild and colorful look of an English garden.

BEFORE:
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AFTER….. You can see where we ran out of money in the large gaps along the front….we will remedy that this summer. Waiting on those peonies we transplanted to bloom. They are getting so close! Fav flower of all time!

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Back to my story….shortly after graduating I began the rigamaroll of going from one MD to another about the pain in my back. I was and have always been a “health head scratcher”. I had x-rays done as well as an MRI and each doctor told me there was nothing wrong with my back. Ironically enough, they were quick to have me take prescriptions for muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory pills and then sent me on my way. By 23 years old I was severely depressed, exhausted, overweight, had the acne of a 13 year old, medicine dependent and feeling hopeless (and crazy!).

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A wonderful friend of mine INSISTED I go to her chiropractor. This terrified me. It just seemed so brutal and primal to crack and twist another person. My ignorance knows no end. I finally agreed to a free consultation. I brought my MRI with me and as soon as he had them on the light box he began measuring the space on EACH side of EACH vertebrae. He casually said “I bet you go to the bathroom all night long!” “YES…YES I do! How did you know?” He then showed me where the nerves that flow from the lower lumbar vertebrae connect to the bladder and mine hardly had a space between them (I had no low back curve) So my brain kept waking me up saying “full full full” but really it was nothing at all. He assured me I would be off all my medicines within three months and he was right. We rebuilt the curve back in my low back and alleviated about half the episodes of waking up. I now could sleep about 2-4 hours straight before waking. Fist pump for hitting a REM cycle here and there. My pain level during the day was more manageable as well. This was major progress in my book.

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Soon I started working for the chiropractor so that I could afford the regular care I needed. One day a tech thought she exposed some cervical x-ray film so she asked if she could take a picture of my neck to see if it worked. After the film developed she came to me with a somber look on her face and asked if I had ever had an images of my neck done. I never experienced pain there so no I hadn’t. She said the doctor needed to look at them. What I didn’t know is that my neck had a reverse curve to it and that about 3-4 vertebrae had already fused because of damage I must have done during some falls in my gymnastics career. I had 4th degree spinal degeneration that was irreversible. Must have been the power of suggestion but shortly after discovering this pain in my neck, shoulders and mid back became acute. This is still my reality to this day. I will never be free from chiropractic care and am thankful for the relief it can bring and the slowing down of the next stage of degeneration but I live each and every day of my life in varying degrees of pain. My own private hell.

I have not slept through the night in over 16 years. I dread going to bed each night. Bed equals pain for me.

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In 2001 I was diagnosed with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and was given a fairly bleak picture of my future as a mother. Isn’t God redemptive and merciful? In your face PCOS!!!!

My second summer living overseas in Kazakstan, 2001, was amazing! I was working with a church youth program there for three months and going into the gorgeous Tien Shen Mountains for week long camping trips throughout that time. I wasn’t able to prepare my own food or bring my own water so I was at the mercy of those at the camp.

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When I returned I forgot to write down a secret thing I was smuggling into the US on my declaration form. A little friend named Giardia Isn’t he cute?
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He was so top secret that I didn’t even know he was nestled into my small intestine until about six months later when I was hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and I took a couple handfuls of water from a stream and drank it. Within five minutes I was sweating and about to poop my pants. This story is actually funny to tell in person. Let’s just say I will never show my face at a certain Burger King for the rest of my life. Good gravy! (visual intended, you’re welcome)

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I got sick….very sick. What I contracted in the stream was salmonella poisoning which finally unearthed the dormant giardia after all the testing I went through. The medicine I was given to kill the parasites I like to fondly call “small intestine rape medicine”. My small intestine stopped working, I lost 40lbs (major perk I assure you!) and my ability to make poop like a regular person is gone. As my brother likes to ask me “You still serving soft serve Kelly?”

After two years (2002-2004), working with GI specialists, a comical colonoscopy (another story for a rainy day) I was told that they couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t form a solid stool and I was labeled as “IBS”….”watch your diet!” Off I went again with my nebulous diagnosis.

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For twelve years I have had intestinal “issues”. Slowly weight has come back on, three pregnancies, one miscarriage, and Father time marches on. I’m just a week away from my 38th birthday and I have to be honest. I have a pretty crappy “quality of life”. I live in a perpetual state of pain and exhaustion. I look down and I don’t recognize the body I am in, my face still breaks out like a teenager….this is me in my late 30’s. I’m not digging it.

But HEY…I have a great head of hair…so there’s that for you. (finger gun, finger gun….YEAH!)

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Beth Moore asked in one of her Breaking Free videos “What’s the worse affliction to have? Emotional….Spiritual….Mental or Physical?” her answer was, “Whatever you are currently suffering with.” Those that battle depression or OCD would be adamant that it is a greater affliction to have an emotional or mental disorder than to have physical pain. Someone that is despairing and hopeless with a crisis of faith or feeling as though God has abandoned them would argue that to have spiritual affliction is so soul crushing it has to be the worst affliction. I’m not here to say having a physical affliction is the worse. There aren’t neat little boxes or borders that afflictions come in. It’s more like spilling a glass of milk….the tentacles of fluid are far reaching. Just like the table, chair and floor beneath all get covered with the spilled milk so do our afflictions cross over into the other areas.

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My physical suffering has had the greatest impact on my emotional well being and my spiritual walk with the Lord. The things I described are not “obvious” to the casual friend or acquaintance and it’s easy for me to set them aside.(except my acne and apple bottom…can’t tuck those bad boys away.) I’m a happy person that smiles a lot, quick with a witty retort or funny story. Some people you see the “heavy” coming a mile away, that’s rarely me.

I’m not trying to be a martyr about all of this or pat myself on the back either. There is a balance to all of this. I don’t know that I’ve struck it. I have a hard time bringing up how I REALLY feel each day. I feel super uncomfortable talking about it with most people. Those that are closest to me know my story and check in fairly regularly. I would say a few times a year I go into a depression like state. This is usually when my back and neck are so fretfully bad and the days and days of sleeplessness make me feel like a crazy person. I’m all Girl Interrupted and Ryan just backs away slowly.

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Satan has a way of barging through what becomes a thin door of trust and perseverance and rearranges the furniture on me. I feel clumsy and clunky in my walk with the Lord. I despair about my affliction and weary in being hopeful that something could change. Does God want me to suffer each day until I leave this earth? Could he? Is that a bad thing?

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This is where I’m at people. I am going to have to make this two parts because I am currently going through a new health crisis at this moment that is forcing me to cling to Jesus like never before. The battle is real and I refuse to sit in the corner rocking back and forth with my thumb in my mouth. Maybe you understand what I am talking about because you have been dealing with an affliction for years or decades. Your milk is spilled and you feel not just in physical turmoil but also emotionally, mentally and spiritually you are unraveling at the seams.

I’m fighting back against Satan and would love for you to join me. I’m currently reading Affliction by Edith Schaeffer. I’m reading at a snails pace because I can’t keep my eyeballs open at night after about three pages sadly.

But let me just set this right here for you to digest because a flicker of hope and a fire in my belly is igniting. What does it rouse in you? (pg 34-35)

“It is possible to persecute and afflict the Lord through the persecution and affliction of His people. The battle is fought in this way, as Satan tries to fight against God and to destroy the love of His people for Him. Satan is not only trying to make Christians bitter and complaining against God; he is trying to hurt God directly. We have a piece of information from Isaiah that God means us to have, to help our understanding. Isaiah speaks of the loving-kindness of the Lord:

“For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie, so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, an the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bore them, and carried them all the days of old.”- Isaiah 63:8,9

She continues on with these life giving words. “This is not simply a statement of the fact that the Lord feels our sorrows and afflictions in loving concern, but it tells us also that the thrusts of Satan which come against us hit Him in some very real way. What is going on is beyond our complete comprehension, but we are meant to have a real measure of understanding to give us courage to go on. Our personal afflictions involve the Living God; the only way in which Satan can persecute or afflict God is though attacking the people of God. The only way we can have personal victory in the midst of these flying arrows raining down on us is to call upon the Lord for help. It is His strength, supplied to us in our weakness, which makes victory after victory possible.

There is something to say when people ask “Why?” or feel, in the midst of their struggles with an affliction, as if no one else had ever had this particular combination of things before. There is no pat answer or suitable trite phrase–but there is the reality of history to consider, as well as the absolute fairness of the Word of God in the examples He lets us look into. We have the reassurance, time after time, that our particular combination of characteristics is really unique, because we are individual personalities, not puppets or parts of a machine. It helps us to hear about other Christians in pain, difficulty, persecution, and affliction because we then can recognize that in our own struggles we are not alone in history. We are surrounded by those who are a veritable “cloud of witnesses” who can encourage us. They can help, not because they had perfect lives with shining successes and joys following one another like a bubbling stream through flower-filled fields, but because they, too, have discovered something about the diversity of meaning to be found in affliction and the bittersweet possibilities of victory.”

To be continued…..

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Are you Rescued?

Oh hey out there, it’s me and my fickle blogging schedule back again. Did you miss me? I really did miss you but between my face literally exploding every 3 milliseconds as yellow hell has swept through our peaceful little life (read pollen) the last few weeks….well I just haven’t been “in the mood” to do a lot of things. Ask the food crumbs laying happily on every square inch of our floors because I can’t muster the strength to vacuum, sweep or just blow really hard on them to get them inconspicuously under a piece of furniture. YOLO!!!!

I’ve also come to appreciate myself a bit over these last few months since launching the blog. I had made a commitment to only write if I felt truly inspired or led to write by the Lord and not write if it felt contrived, forced or took away from our family time. Well pats on the back for me….I am sticking with it and even though I get ideas rolling around in my brain all the time, I have been able to tell myself “This is not a good week to blog, too many other priorities” and I literally let it go. “That perfect girl is gone…..” Sing it with me parents stuck in FROZEN world.

The thing is when I do get going on a topic in my brain I realize I am usually driving and then I start muttering to myself and God what I am wrestling with or learning and begin mentally penning a post. I should just turn my phone on and record myself because I will say something well thought out or a bit clever and think…YES…I need to include that.

BUT

I turn into my neighborhood and the mind numbing volume in my car from three kids fighting pops my internal writing bubble. The post is gone, never to return.
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So I do what any sensible, calm and mature parent does and flip my rearview mirror down so I can see their three guilty faces looking at me and give my irate speech about fighting in the car

Glance at road.

Back to mirror…. “MOMMY IS GOING TO GET IN AN ACCIDENT IF YOU SCREAM IN THE CAR!”

Back to road

Back to mirror (adds pointer finger for emphasis)…. “I’ve told you before that if you fight in the car you are immediately going to your rooms when we get home.”

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Back to mirror…..”I DON’T CARE WHO STARTED IT!!! We don’t speak unkindly to our sister and Chloe you had your feet all over him, I SAW YOU!!! Rhett do not say “blubber butt” it isn’t a nice word.”

Back to road, probably swerving by now.

Back to mirror….”The next person who talks is in their room till dinner.”

Enters long driveway. Unclenches butt, lowers shoulders.

10 seconds later Chloe says,” STAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHPPPPPPPPPPPP it BENNEEEEEETTTTTT”

I bash my forehead on the steering wheel so I don’t rip their vocal chords out of their precious little throats.

I would love to see statistics about moms and cars full of children getting in accidents verses people driving in silent cars. I just have a theory thats all. I’m positive this is what a map of me pulling on our road and then driveway looks like.

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Enjoy this picture from Easter. This is just a microcosm of life at the Portnoy house with a scrappy three year old, a 7 year old that will make your ears bleed with “What if or Why does” questions and we all know Bennett. I just LOVE these kids…they provide ENDLESS laughter and joy but my word…we did not get “easy going” kids!

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and the best we could get considering “somebody” wanted to be a turd.

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Anyway….so my blogs tend to come together in my car commutes. Given we live out in the country we are in the car for long periods of time. Weird or not weird? I don’t know. Some entries I write immediately and others I have to wait for a better opening, or in this case I started this post last Thursday…thus huge gaps. I’m building the anti-audience apparently. Truly, I’m amazed people come back. So THANK YOU…anyone who has come more than once. At some point I hope to have a better cadence to my writing. At some point…

So this one is about the word “rescue” or “rescued”…thus the super witty title.

This word is starting to become a cornerstone of sorts for me.
By definition to be rescued means to:

Be free from confinement, danger, or evil : save, deliver: as
a : to take
b : to recover
c : to deliver

We have a children’s’ devotional called “The Jesus Storybook Bible” It is one of my favorites for many reasons but the main one is because it brilliantly weaves the fact that JESUS has been intended to rescue this world since the moment sin entered it.”I am the alpha and omega” (The beginning and the end) At the end of each story, starting in Genesis, “The Rescuer” is brought into the text.

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Maybe I’m sensitive because as a child I knew a slew of Bible stories and also what good Christians did and didn’t do…but I never got “IT”. I never saw the giant love story of God towards his people through His son. The plan has been set in motion right in the beginning and we are on this very grand adventure with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each verse of the Bible has a thin gold thread being pulled through it connecting all of it together into one gorgeous tapestry of life in the kingdom. I so want my kids to understand this. The Bible isn’t a set of nice stories with moral lessons and a list of “do’s and don’ts”. It’s not a handbook we can follow or choose not to. It’s a love story about a God who ruthlessly loves His people and is in the process of redeeming this world through the completed work of the Son. This is good news. This is life changing, heart freeing, mind blowing news. I’ve been rescued and boy do I know it!

Mary is visited by the angel of the Lord

Mary is visited by the angel of the Lord

Just the word “Rescued” stirs something in me, does it in you? When we hear on the news that somebody is trapped or a horrible accident has happened…gosh when 9-11 happened. People despair, lose hope, how can this be? But then when the news reports a missing person found, a child pulled from a well, a baby found alive in rubble, a fireman escaps holding a woman, etc…. our hearts crescendo with the sense of justice, victory, joy….HOPE! A rescue has happened. Balance is restored, good can overcome evil.

Jesus baptized by John the Baptist

Jesus baptized by John the Baptist

It’s hard to see yourself as worthy of rescue or at least I did. For ten years I sat in a prison of Kelly making one horrific self destructive decision after another. BUT…I was in church, I was in ministry…heck I was a short term missionary!!! So I was “good”.

Nobody knew my secret hell of illicit relationships….my habit of purging when I overate. That’s just hitting my top two “secret sins”. I physically, mentally, emotionally and of course, spiritually was wrecking my life. You know you’ve hit an all time low when the guy your tangled up withs friends refer to you as the “Missionary Whore”. Was that painful to read? It was painful to receive at the time. They were right, I was a walking train wreck of hypocrisy and brokenness. You know the verse that you can’t serve two masters. It’s true. If you try to…you get awesome nick names like I did.

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I was, as the definition stated, in need of “being free from confinement, danger, or evil” I needed a Rescuer of epic proportion. You know….the one I sang my heart out to every Sunday…the one I bawled my eyes out to on my bedroom floor after every failed attempt at swearing off sin. I was SO aware that God was real, He was available, He had paid my debt in FULL…but I did not think I was worthy of His rescue and that I could be FREE from all that entangled me.

What HE did on the cross was die for the very thing I said I couldn’t let go, I couldn’t forgive myself of, I couldn’t walk away from. He took it upon himself out of His love for ME. Wretched as I am, He can only see me through the redemptive blood that trickled down Calvary.

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Christine Caine was one of the speakers at IF Gathering back in February. She does not mince words! I love her direct way of speaking. She spoke from Joshua 5 about the Israelites escape from Pharaoh to the desert. They were told to go to the Promise Land which was just a few days walk. We all know how the story goes. It was FORTY years before the Israelites were to enter the Promise Land. FORTY YEARS. An entire generation of Israelites died in the desert never sticking a toe in the promise land.

Pause and ponder this. They were DELIVERED..but they were not FREE! Again….they were DELIVERED from bondage but they were NOT FREE to enjoy the promise land God had prepared for them. This so perfectly describes many believers bumping around on this earth. At one point in their life they chose Jesus. They were delivered from themselves but after that they chose to live a lukewarm life dabbling with Jesus but mainly focused on “self”. Many will go to the grave NEVER EVER tasting the promise land of abundant life lived serving in God’s kingdom. I don’t want to be just DELIVERED…I want to be FREE!!! Don’t you??

Hebrews 12 says to cast aside any weight or sin that entraps you. Some of those things can be “good” but they still hold you back from living abashedly in the kingdom. CAST THEM ASIDE. They are weighing your spirit down. They confuse your purpose. They dull your passions.

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The brakes came to a squealing halt in April 2004 for me. I thought I was pregnant by a man I had grown to hate. I thought I had ruined my life in the most visible of ways and yoked myself to a man I had no intention of marrying let alone creating a life with. I blew the whistle on myself. I confessed to my mom and my mentor. I am forever grateful that the Lord spared me that road. I was not pregnant and it’s as if the bubble of crazy I was in finally popped and with a sober mind I was able to really look at my life and the trail of tears of ten years that was behind me. I went through some intense counseling for many months. I also had many many sessions of healing prayer to truly unearth those toxic sins that were so rooted in my heart.

On one balmy April night for many many hours of confession, forgiveness of self and others, and prayer I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was finally free from my past. I was EMANCIPATED, I was ready to leave the desert and enter the promise land that was waiting for me. I remember after this time of prayer and anointing of my home I took a long shower and continued to bawl my eyes out, not in sorrow but in joy. I then went out to my porch for a time of worship. I lit every candle I could find in my house. I put on worship music and read scripture and just PRAISED GOD with every fiber of my being. I knew I would never go back. I dipped my finger in a candle and got a dab of wax and put it on the last page of my Bible. I wanted to remember. I wanted an Ebeneazor of sorts to always look back on from that day. The day I was FREE.

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Christine Caine said a profound statement during her talk that you MUST write down. Like right now…go…get a pen…get a journal or put this in the margin of your Bible. “The devil on his best day didn’t take me out on my worst day.” The victory has been won, my life is a living picture of redemption. I can tell this story without tears or guilt or remorse or shame because they have no power. I’ve been set free. I’ve been rescued. Have you? Are you rescued or are you still in the desert? Maybe you are still in Egypt. You hear about this Jesus, this “Rescuer” but you are so confused or reluctant to embrace his free gift of love. He ruthlessly loves you and is pursuing you. Do you feel it? What holds you back? If you have questions please email me.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28

I do not understand

I’m almost 38 and I do not understand.

I do not understand what real sacrifice is, I do not understand how to love unconditionally, I do not understand gut wrenching compassion, I do not understand true affliction, I do not understand.

I am not wise in my own eyes and cringe when people would suggest so. That isn’t to say I have not gained some wisdom over almost four decades, I’m not a numb-nut, but I know the foolishness of my heart, the doubt and fear I wrestle with, my questions about my faith, my emotional teeter totter I get on each day. Although I come full circle back to Jesus I sometimes come unwillingly or shuffling my feet.

My heart can be very tossed about. I stand firm one minute and crumple at the next. I see Gods work in the world and marvel then I see the depravity of man and I waiver in my trust in an all powerful God.

I am surrounded, SURROUNDED by broken and hurting people. IN MY INNER CIRCLE. My heart feels stretched, fragile, thin. I’m not a melancholy. My deep laugh lines around my eyes are proof that I laugh and smile A LOT. I never tested as that personality trait and yet the older I get the more serious I seem to get. The more urgent I feel it is for me to cast aside anything that distracts me. I don’t want to waste time, money or resources on the “ashes” of this world…all that will rust, fade, be consumed by moths. “To what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his soul?” Matt 16:26

I was kneading bread yesterday and trying to flatten it out with my hands instead of a rolling pin. It didn’t take long before I tore holes in it. I tried to repair it but it looked battered and scarred. I pinched it over and over down the middle seam but it wouldn’t hold together. Isn’t that how we feel? Isn’t that how Christ left this earth? Battered and scarred and yet beautifully victorious over death? There is precious in the hard. There is beauty in the scars.

In my adult life I am learning a lot about what I missed. The gaps and holes in my theology. The misnomers, the lies I’ve told myself and just plain ignorance.

In the last few years I started to read and research what Advent is around Christmas time. How the month of December is actually an opportunity to have a heart attitude preparing me for the birth of Christ. It’s not about December 25th. It was never meant to be about one day. It’s an attitude and perspective that lasts more than a day.

Currently I am learning more about the season of Lent. Not because I am Catholic but because it too is a beautiful way to prepare my heart for an entire 40 days on the life changing sacrifice of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. It isn’t about giving something up in a heroic or noble fashion…it is about creating space in my mind and heart. Abstaining or “giving up” something for 40 days is symbolic for all the things that rule, consume, or have authority in my day and casting them aside to keep my eyes on my Savior only profits my soul.

I am in a posture of student. I am learning so that I may then teach my kids. Let me share a few things that are my current “textbooks”. They are pinching together my torn dough.

I can watch this video by the great Brennan Manning and I am bent straight over in worship. All the things I do not understand, God does. He is infinitely compassionate, full of wisdom and understanding and unconditionally loves AT ALL TIMES. It is His nature, it is who He is. Do yourself a favor and take two minutes to watch this. Receive truth.

I’m currently reading book after book by Edith Schaeffer, wife of famous theologian, Francis Schaeffer. She writes with the seasoned writing that only a long life lived in obedience and sacrifice can yield. My heart feels mentored by her words. Do yourself a favor and buy this book. (or any book by her) She comes directly to grips with the eternal question of why we face suffering and affliction in this life, showing us how to trust in God alone for comfort.

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If you want to learn more about how to truly love people and live a life of humility then please….do yourself a favor and watch this powerful, funny, poignant, and honest message by Francis Chan. I keep coming back to it.

If you want to learn more about worship this Easter season and music speaks to your heart like no other medium then do yourself a favor and listen to these songs if you don’t already know them. They are on repeat around our house.

If the Easter season is hard for you, you feel dry and hopeless and guilty for feeling so then you want to read this blog that doesn’t mince words and a woman who writes with more adjectives than I could ever begin to spit out on paper. Read this entry by Ann Voskamp

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May we all press deeper into the Saviors arms this Lent season. May we understand his compassion, wisdom, and love a little more. He promises if we seek Him we will find Him. How I want this.

Happy Easter!

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