The “Li’l Monster”

I find it completely wrapped up in a woman’s hair, smacking someone on the bum or clinging to a stranger’s shirt.

Sometimes, when I point someone to the left, “it” points them to the right.

It destroys paper.

It’s been known to redecorate every flat surface possible.

This thing has hit a person in the face and then clung to that person’s nose.

This thing is my right hand.

I call it “It” because it’s a monster, disguised as a hand. So therefore, it belongs in the Adam’s family.

I’ve spent the last year “training” friends on how to handle my precious little keepsake of God’s humor. Words like, “No. Dude, let me stand up before you hug me. Seriously. It behaves better” have been used more than once.

I had to explain to friends that the reason I’m sitting on my hand is because we’re eating and I want to appear polite. Letting my hand finger someone else’s fried chicken isn’t a good thing. But it happens if I don’t cage “It.”

Now that I’m back with my family in Alaska, I don’t even think about “coaching” my right hand to cling to my pants pocket while I pick up a knife in the kitchen. It’s no big deal if my Li’l Monster has some play time while I use a knife. My parents are used to it.

Or not.

When I’m using a knife and my right hand starts playing with a decoration on the wall— there’s a lot of noise. It freaks everyone out. And the only explanation is, “The Monster thought it was pretty– sorry for the scratch in the wall… Not my fault.”

Eh. Laughter is needed, Dear. Some things never change.

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Daring to Pray in Peace

I finally learned a part of the reason God brought me back to Alaska for a season.

Apparently, I still needed to learn a different perspective on being ‘out of control’. Honestly, I thought a year of living on a college campus would do it. If the idea of living with 275 women after 6 years of living alone doesn’t teach surrender, nothing will.

If my living arrangement wasn’t enough to teach me, I thought a year of basically “playing it by ear” for my job description would count.

If that didn’t create the habit of giving up control, maybe the fact that I was transplanted to an area where no one truly knew me would do it. There’s nothing crazier than holding someone at arm’s distance and realizing they have decided transparency is a requirement for your friendship.

Control. I didn’t have much of it this year. As a matter of fact, I doubt I had any.

I was foolish enough to think that meant the lessons were over. I no longer desire control.. Or so I thought. Arriving in Alaska for the summer taught me just how much I still strive for control.

Now, when the phone calls come in about a friend’s hurting heart, they’re not right down the hall, or even right down the sidewalk. They’re a country away and all I have for them is my own tears, my own broken heart and the promise that “I’m here day or night.” Coffee dates are no longer possible, even scheduled weekly “let’s hang out” moments can’t happen.

I promise prayers, I help them laugh and then I hang up. They’ve calmed down, but I’ve started giving God a piece of my ever-lovin’ mind.

“Hey… So, all I have for my friend here is prayer? Can’t you let me do more? Can I fly down for a week? Can I send them money? Can I just make them forget it’s their issue and take over? Prayer doesn’t feel like it’s enough. You need to let me do more. I can’t even hug them, Lord. That’s not fair. Let me do more. Prayer isn’t enough.”

I know that’s a lie. Prayer is more than enough. Prayer healed nations, brought rain, mended families and fed communities. Because of the Jehovah Elohim behind it, prayer can heal broken hearts.

My issue is the fact that my hands get to stay idle this summer when it comes to actively and physically doing something on my friends’ behalf. Other than writing cards and emails, I can do nothing to help heal the hurts accumulated through the summer.

It’s a matter of control. Do I believe God can heal without my help? Can I believe that praying really is showing my friends I care? Can I handle not being in control, even when I’m not there to watch the situation take place?

Is it possible praying fervently is a sign of surrender when all I want to do is hug them and fix whatever I can?

Laugh anyway, Baby Girl… Control wasn’t yours in the first place.

Daddy’s Memory Lane

Aisle 10 at Safeway.

The movie Brothers Grimm.

The Greek restaurant in my favorite town.

A whirling ceiling fan.

A lot of us have ’em. Epileptics have memory flashbacks of the last thing we saw or experienced before a really horrendous episode. All four of the above things listed were (and sometimes are) my flashbacks.

For several years – even after I got my life back – those things were avoided at all costs because the confusion was mind altering. I lived in fear, and daggummit, I was good at it.

Today, I experienced another kind of flashback. But instead of one that filled my heart with dread, this one made me smile. Today I walked a trail that 9 years ago I had walked amazed that I could even walk- much less comprehend what I was seeing.

9 years ago, I was 75pounds, and half a brain lighter… But I was standing on top of the Kenai River Gorge smiling because running water always brought God to me faster than anything else. I was weak, but I had scaled a “mountain.”

Today, I walked that same trail leaning on my Daddy most of the trip. I didn’t need him nearly as much as I had needed him physically 9 years ago- but I still needed him.

I grinned as I saw his hand extend towards me– I could see him.

I giggled as I called his name and he couldn’t hear me. I’ve come far enough that he didn’t feel as if he needed to hear me because I was “fine on my own.”

And then we got to the top of the trail. I sighed as I heard God whisper:

Keep looking for flashbacks of Me. I’m the same 9 years ago as I am now. Keep seeing me in the little things, Baby Girl. Keep hanging on, even when you don’t think you need Me.

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Undesired Evidence

“What evidence will you accept?”

… For the last year, I haven’t had to use this question much. I volunteer outside of my sheltered College atmosphere; but most of my time is spent with like-minded Christ-followers. If (When) there are disagreements on things we believe, it becomes a good-natured, “My concordance is bigger than your concordance” Battle. We find fulfillment in heated discussions, but in the end, both sides of the argument know that loving each other and seeking Truth are the top priorities.

No matter what, though, we use Scripture. We trust Scripture over opinion because we believe the God-inspired Bible cannot be legitimately contested no matter how much both sides may cling to it differently. We trust that resource because no one in our ‘circle’ has seen the Bible not carry Its weight or proven itself to be an ultimate truth and reality.

Then.. Then I start my journey home for the summer. No longer am I completely couched by people that view God possibly as a different type of Master but still the same Jehovah. No longer am I encompassed with people that pour over Greek Scriptures just to understand the question of, “What does God require of us?” No longer do precious prayer meetings with large groups spontaneously happen because one person needed encouragement.

All the sudden, I’m faced with needing to ask the question, “What evidence will you accept?” With the question presented of, “Why does Jesus allow violence?” I pull out my Bible… And am immediately told, “Show me without the Scriptures. Using your Holy Book is ‘effin” cheating.”

What? …. How do I even begin? What do you want me to say, then? Do you just want to hear me tell you that any version of Jesus is acceptable as long as you’re comfortable? You asked for proof, Dear One.

What proof will you accept?

Immediately, I feel myself go into my “must defend Jesus” mode. I feel my heart race as I sit down and figure out how to “undo” Jesus just enough so my acquaintance will listen and believe… Without Scripture.

And then I hear Truth that I don’t want to acknowledge but I know I need to hear.

God doesn’t need my help revealing Himself to anyone. He’s God, He’s got this.

Even further is the reality one or more loved ones denying Him does not make Him less God.

I don’t need to defend God in order to preserve His holiness.

When the World doesn’t accept ultimate Truth, or even convicting Proof, that doesn’t make it any less applicable.

God doesn’t need my help being God.

Obedient God

“I will never say that God gave me any ailment to get ahold of my attention.”

I heard that last night and I cringed and sucked back tears. I knew crying at that point would both freak out my friend next to me and make the speaker in front of me believe I needed “prayed over.” My tears were not from a desire for healing. They were from heartbreak that this person truly didn’t know what he was missing.

Jacob, Miriam, Job (yep- I’m using that one), the blind man in the gospel of John, Paul… All of them and many, many, many more were given ailments in order to make them look for God. If God can do it for those biblical characters, why not for me?

I’ve been told the lies before:

“If you’re disabled, you don’t have faith.”

“You can’t have an abundant life if you’re physically ailed…”

Those lies and others break my heart. Not because I believe them, but because someone else does. (Believe me- I had my struggles of not believing them!)

I leaned over to my friend and told him, “Don’t you dare mention my epilepsy tonight.” After that, I really did cry.

Epilepsy – aside from my salvation – is one of my God-given greatest tools to point people to The Lord. Without the seizures, I wouldn’t have had the time, desire or insight to seek God the way some would say I’ve been forced to. It’s an unimaginable gift I’ll never give away. Because of my ailment, I had to slow down and search for God. What needs healed? Nothing.

I believe in healing. I believe God still uses the gift of healing within the body of Christ. However, I think we Christians have unknowingly forced our definition of healing onto God’s holiness.

More times than not, in our minds, healing means:

No pain.
No disease.
No doctor bills.
No broken bones.
No need to slow down.

I don’t have a catchy definition of God’s healing. But our bodies are called temporary vessels, our spirits are the “thing” of ours that God truly focuses on in order to glorify Himself. If physical healing comes- it’s to minister either to our own spiritual outlook.. Or someone else’s.

Healing? If you ever feel called to pray for physical healing for anyone.. Ask God whether you desire it for the convenience of it, or to show God’s glory to a struggling and dying world. Even when you can’t come to a conclusive answer- be ready to hear God declare healing that you never thought of…

Don’t require God to obey you before you call Him good.

Remembering the Blessing of Death

Tomorrow’s just another day to most. But it’s not nothing to me.

Tomorrow is the 8 year anniversary of my hemispherectomy (if you can pronounce that correctly the first time- you get a gold star), the third and final brain surgery to correct a rather obnoxiously large disorder.

Medication had made me a zombie. Seizures had kept me from pursuing life. Prior surgeries had only put a temporary band-aid on a seemingly incurable (in my eyes) disability. May 2, 2006, when I was 16, was supposed to change that.

I was only in the hospital a little over a week. The prior surgeries had kept me in the hospital for numerous weeks, so 8 days seemed like a blink of an eye. I left the hospital with only half of a functional brain.

Though the surgery was rendered a success (I was alive… That was good), I don’t remember the joy. I remember the anger. I remember the confusion I tried to mask as I woke up to hugs from my Dad.. And the question of “Why?” when I hugged my Mom.

I thought God and I had made a deal. When the seizures returned after the first surgeries, I thought God and I had agreed I’d put my best foot forward till the hemispherectomy was scheduled, then He’d take me home. 5 years of seizures, doctors and medication had kept me alive but I wasn’t living. I wanted Heaven. Opening my eyes on this side of Heaven wasn’t a blessing… It was a harsh denial for what my naive heart had believed was the desire of my heart.

For quite a while, I was at war with God. He was still pursuing a relationship with me in breathtaking ways. I’d constantly hear Him whisper, “I love you Baby Girl.”
I’d whisper back, “Then why didn’t you let me come Home?”

May 2, 2006 and the months following that surgery were probably the harshest moments of my faith in Christ. I had to stop deciding the only function of my life was to make me happy. I had to stop looking for the easy reasons to keep breathing.

I had to learn how to die to self… Because I wasn’t getting what I wanted. I had to learn what it meant to live as a blessing to others although I knew life was supposed to be so much more. I had to accept the fact that God wasn’t done with me this side of Heaven, and there was a reason for that.

May 2, 2006 is a Good thing to celebrate. But man, I miss Heaven.