Wonderful Dolphin Adventure at Indianapolis Zoo

IMG-0408Saturday was one of those days Ill remember my whole life. It was a wonderful family day. My brother had gotten the girls a very special Christmas gift this year. He gifted them a dolphin art adventure at the Indianapolis Zoo. The day was truly a blessing from God as many things could have gone wrong, didn’t.  The problem was we didn’t have anything tangable saying we had recieved the gift. It was all done electronically and my brother had all the reciepts on his phone. He and his wife were on a trip out the country.
I called the zoo the day before asking what we needed to do when we got there and was informed that although our information could be looked up I really needed that receipt to prove we were there for the adventure.

Not long ago this would have thrown me into total panic mode. But I texted my brother, knowing he wouldn’t receive it, and he didn’t. and just prayed about it. When we got there Saturday there was a lot of confusion on what to do with us, since we didn’t have the receipt. No one was available to look us up and the general admission staff wasn’t sure what to do. They did let us into the zoo after several minutes of waiting and told us where to go. We had gotten their about an hour early because I had been told the day before we could visit the zoo before our adventure.  Praying kept me calm and I prayed God to help the admission staff as they were trying to figure out what to do with us. I was thankful that God helped me stay calm through it as I was beginning to get anxious.

When we arrived for our dolphin visit we needed to wait again but this time they had our names verified and there was no confusion. I was so thankful for that. Our tour guide, Jory, did a wonderful job talking and joking with my two daughters as we went to the dolphin exhibit. There we met a dolphin trainer, Amy who let the girls pick out paint colors for their canvas the dolphin was going to paint. We were also allowed to see how the dolphins were fed and were surprised that in their fish diet they also go unflavored gelatin cubes.

IMG-0388We were paired with a mail dolphin named Jett who was born at the Zoo in 2002. Jett was very excited to see us and to paint. Amy slipped a round circle over his nose and the paint brush extended out from it. Jett was so excited as he put the four colors on the canvas. All four of us got to feed him fish and rub his back, which felt very soft and rubbery. The girls even got to give him a belly rub. IMG-0399

My oldest daughter has said since she was a child that someday she wanted to be a dolphin trainer. I think that day encouraged that dream a little bit more. We really had a great time and I am so thankful to my brother for such a wonderful gift.

Withstand the Waves

80CB7540-6EBF-4975-9D34-5B9C37F23116We went to Great Wolf Lodge in Cincinnati this past weekend to celebrate my daugther’s 11th birthday and just get away and reconnect. My parents came too and brought my nephew, he’s 5 and my youngest boy is 4. They both really enjoyed the wave pool and we spent a lot of time playing and splashing around in there. The water only gets about 5 feet deep in the wave pool so we would let them work their way out to the deep water in their floaties and we would play, until the waves came. As much as they loved bouncing high and low in the waves they both had their mouths wide open and as many times as we told them to keep them closed they would still get a mouth full of water and be coughing and burping. Some waves would knock them under if we weren’t right there ready to get them. My nephew liked to let the waves push him back to the shallow waters then he would fight them to get deep again.

It got me thinking about the verse in Ephesians and was a clear example to me of what happens when we let peoples opinions or views cloud our faith.

Ephesians 4:14 So that we are no longer children (Spiritually immature) tossed back and forth (like ships on a stormy sea) and carried about by every wind (shifting) doctrine, by the cunning and trickery of (unscrupulous ) men, by the deceitful scheming of people ready to do anything ( for personal profit.) AMP.

Paul was talking to the Ephesians in verse 11 about how Jesus gave himself to the teachers , the apostles, pastors in order to build up the body of Christ. He then goes on to say in verse 13 that we are to build each other up until we reach the full knowledge of Christ.

When we listen to worldly views, peoples opinions, and use that to determine our course of action we become like children being tossed by the waves rooted in fear. We go by what we hear could happen and we try to protect ourselves from the worst case scenario. Sometimes it keeps us from doing something that God may want us to do. I grew up being told to avoid certain areas of Indianapolis because they were not “safe.” I have found that as I have pursued ministry I’ve ended up in many the churches in some of those areas,  and was terrified going there. God took care of me, nothing was taken and no harm came to me but I was tossed around by waves the whole time I was there, how much more could God have ministered or used me had I not been afraid.

Paul goes on to say in verse 15 that if we speak truth in love we grow and mature as a body.

 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

I think Paul’s warning in all this is that Satan will use thoughts, opinions and people to derail us from the loving works God has assigned us to do. As Christians we should encourage each other to do our assignments, build each other up and speak love when someone is faced with the waves of fear.  There were times when I had to pull my son or my nephew from the waves for a moment so they could cough or catch their breath. We need to do that for each other as we are pursuing Christ. When you see your friend start go to under or hit a wave with their mouth open. Give them encouragement, love and help bear their fears.  The other thing that hit me is wave carry things to the shore, away from deep waters. God wants us to go deep with Him, he wants us to trust Him, have a deep firm relationship with him, we can’t let waves of fear carry us away from that deepness he is wanting for us. We have to know the truth in love and continue to grow in to the maturity of Christ to withstand the storms and waves when they come.

Daily Declarations

I’m currently studying the power of words and have realized how powerful they actually are. There is a good study on it in YouVersion called “Words. They become you!” by Pastor Lisa Singh. I am also reading the book by Joyce Myers “Change your words, change your life.” They are both excellent gut checks on how we communicate. I didn’t realize how much I complain or make negative comments. It’s definitely something I need God’s help with.

Myers touches on the power of daily declarations in her book and I am being totally honest, I have always had a hard time with these. It stems back to my child hood when my mother used to have me repeat “Everyday in every way I will get better and better and better.” It made me feel like I must be really terrible If I have to be better in everything.

But in 2016, after I was baptized by the Holy Spirit, I really struggled with depression and a friend of mine gave me  a list of Bible verses that talked about who we are to  Christ. She told me just to read it every day. I did for a few months. By the end I was reading it out loud on my way to work in the mornings and had most of it memorized.  At some point I didn’t need the list anymore. The depression lifted and I no longer beat myself up in my head. I knew I was a child of God.

Myer’s list in her book is very long but really good and I have started saying her list out loud daily, with a few additions of my own. Some of her declarations are far from true now but hopefully I am planting seeds that will lead me into them becoming true.

How do you feel about daily declarations? Do they seem silly or have you seen them work in your life? Leave a comment below.

 

How to Fight Anxiety and Win

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My daughter has danced at Tippy Toes School of dance since she was 3. This is her 11th and probably last year. She has been part of the Indianapolis Youth Ballet Company, a branch of Tippy Toes, for 3 years. I love watching her dance. I don’t love the anxiety she carries before she dances. This weekend was the performance of the companies ballet “Cinderella” and she was a bundle of nerves all week.

I’m one of those weird people who really don’t experience stage fright. I get excited before I have to walk on stage but not nervous. Not my daughter. She has always done well but she is a bundle of nerves days before. I always thought it had to do with being prepared. Seeing yourself through the experience in your head. No one really ever told me to visualize like that, I just always did, and practiced till it was second nature.

One of my girl scouts gets very nervous whenever she has to do something in front of someone else, even a small group. This weekend my scouts were able to present the American flag before a scouting event. She was so nervous she started asking me how she could get out of holding the flag. I just kept telling her. Breathe, you’ve practiced, everything will be okay. It was, she did a great job.

Anxiety manifests differently for different people. My daughter gets snappy and argumentative and well, angry. Where as my girl scout wanted to just flee the whole situation. The good old fight or flight syndrome in action. When you struggle with anxiety you are constantly caught in this state, fight or flight. Many days where I was filled with anxiety I was angry, frustrated and snapping at my family until the cause of my anxiety ended or not discussed anymore. Its not a fun state of mind to live in. So what is the antidote? Well, for me, its trust.

When I trust in myself or those around me or in the past of what happened last time I faced this giant I always fail. For much of my life that is what I have done. But God invites us to trust in Him. If we could only take our eyes of the situation and trust He’s going to make everything work out for our own good we might not have to struggle so much. That’s a hard thing to do, to learn especially when in the past situations have not ended well. Its hard to trust that the past won’t repeat itself.

But God promises us many things and reminding ourselves of these promises is what helps us to trust in Him. God promises He is making things new so that the past won’t repeat itself, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:9

He promises He’s with us, “So do not fear, for I am with you, d not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

He promises He will bring us good, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future,”.

Joyce Meyers says, ” You end will be better than your beginning.” That’s the kind of attitude to have when facing daily anxieties. If we can trust in God that the end result will be better we can make it through anything.

 

 

 

 

His Grace is Sufficient for Me

Last week was a week of answers, even if I did not like all of them. It started with my neurology appointment on Monday where my neurologist mercifully agreed to perform an EMG to see what exactly was going on with my foot. It was scheduled for Friday. The Van was fixed by Wednesday which was an answer to prayer as I kept being told it would been into this week before everything was fixed. God was present and acting on my behalf throughout the week. The EMG revealed that I do have nerve damage to my right foot in two places. There is a muscle near your ankle that he said was no longer working and I have damage in my big toe and second and third digits. He said he would diagnose it as a Morton’s Neuroma or a Neuroma Metatarsalgia. He suggested seeing a podiatrist which I am working on trying to find a good one in the South Indianapolis area. I’ll take any suggestions.

I am discouraged by the diagnosis because I want to believe that God will heal. Nerve damage is permanent, not that God can’t heal things that are permanent but Its a little harder to hope and to know how to proceed. I keep thinking about Paul. He had a permanent illness. We are not necessarily sure what it was, some theologians say it was his eye sight, some say it was his stomach, he had a thorn in his side. I will say this experience has brought me much closer to Jesus. I depend and rely on him every time I have to drive somewhere, every day the weather changes and causes me pain, every time I have to pick up my four year old son or something heavy. Paul was much stronger than me though. One of my favorite stories of him is found in Acts chapter 27 through 28. He is lost in a northeaster, shipwrecked, nearly dies only to climb on land and be bitten by a snake. I know I would have been in tears before I ever landed. That snake bite would have probably caused me to lay down and give up. Not Paul he tosses the snake in the fire and keeps on building a shelter. He doesn’t even flinch. Doesn’t even worry when the natives tell him its poisonous. He just keeps going. Once, before all of this I said in amazement, wow I want to be that strong. I wonder if God heard me and that is why my journey is not over.

Paul said that after praying three times for his thorn to be removed he heard God’s voice say ” My grace is sufficient for you.” 2 Corinthians 12:19. He’s proven that to me time and time again in the past year and 8 months. His grace is sufficient, His mercy is abundant and I am thankful for that. His grace is sufficient for you too. Whatever your going thru. Its hard to see His grace sometimes through the pain but its there. He is for you not against you.

The Slow Healing Process

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So I’m going to be very transparent today. I’m feeling discouraged and a little like I’m on my last hope. Last week I had an appointment scheduled with my Orthopedic back doctor. I went in hoping he would send me for an EMG on my foot, thinking that was my next step, but instead he told me there was not much else he could do for me unless back pain returns and was referring me to my neurologist. Thankfully I see my neurologist later today, God has perfect timing, but I’m hoping he can do something other than tell me that I need to just give my foot time to heal.

The Orthopedic back doctor believes I have something called sick nerve syndrome. Basically the nerve has been compressed for so long that it needs to wake back up again. That waking up process is painful. My nerve pain has increased significantly since the last set of epidurals I have had. Driving is hard. In the past week I’ve also begun experience heat sensations in my leg where I did not even have numbness or tingling in a few weeks ago.

So I’ve begun to feel like my appointment today is my last shot, although I’m still holding out on God to miraculously heal me. But If he plans on healing me the medicinal way I am praying my neurologist will jump on board and begin something.

We also had a crazy car thing happen. Since all of this has begun the more my foot hurts the more I have a fear of driving. I’ve stopped driving the interstate all together. I just don’t trust my foot’s reaction time or its ability to hold the gas and the break down quickly. Longer drives, 30, 45 minutes cause me to have pain and fatigue in my foot so they also cause me anxiety.  Our van began leaking oil last week and I had to take it in to the dealership. What I thought would be an easy fix (we initially thought it was leaking antifreeze.) Has turned into a possible week long without the vehicle. The dealership did give us a loner SUV which I am so thankful for. I was pretty terrified to drive it but it is actually really easy for me to drive, even a little easier than the van so God is good. We have an extended warranty on our van so I am praying that it covers whatever is wrong with the van.

I like to write poetry and I thought I’d share one that God put on my heart this week as I was going through all the emotions I felt with the doctor appointment. I hope you enjoy it. I’d like to make it a little longer at some point. But below is what I have so far. I know God is good and will provide in His timing. It’s natural to feel that His timing is so slow but He is faithful and available to us in the waiting.

Do you like my shoes?

So, Do you like my shoes?

There not exactly classy, but they feel timeless…

Don’t match the outfit huh?
I look like an old woman?

Am I missing some flair?

Well, I didn’t pick them. No,

My taste is a little, higher and blacker

Maybe with an open toe…

They picked me. For 26.9 months.  619 days.

They’ve picked me every day.

In fact I can’t walk around my house barefoot, without them.

 

I said Lord, I don’t like them. Not every day. I want variety. Bare floor on my feet. Feel the grass, the sand at the beach. Not every day.

I want to wear black thigh high boots in autumn as I hike through the pumpkin patch. Or even hiking boots as I play with my kids on the trails.

I want to wear flip flops, high heels, cloggers, muckers, or nothing at all.

I don’t want to be trapped any longer.

See when I walk its like when your foots asleep and doesn’t know its time to wake up.

Pins and needles and pain. That tell me where I can go and and when I have to stop.

They have limits and their bossy

They tell me

Where to go

What to do

What I want to be

What I have to be

What I can’t be

The desires of the heart are still there even if the body can’t deliver

And you promised you put those desires there…

So how am I supposed to fulfill my purpose, no your purpose in these shoes?

He heard me, my whining and wailing. All 619 days of it.

Lord please, just heal me.

Cinderella, I am healing you, He says.

I gave you these shoes for a season and for a reason. You need to learn to rely on me.

619 days, Have I learned yet Lord? Have I learned enough?

Because I’m tired, of limping and leaning.

I want to learn how to run again.

Just a little longer, he said so very gently

And I will replace your pink tennis shoes with slippers of glass.

I’d be happy with bare feet Lord. On that day everyone will know. Because I will be dancing before my King in Joy.

 

 

Jehovah-Rapha, The Lord Will Heal

 

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Have you ever prayed for something you really wanted to happen and then it doesn’t? You really wanted things to go that way and your answer was a clear no or maybe you got no answer at all and things just kept continuing along. What did you do? Did you stop praying for it. Did you beg for it? Were you angry or hurt, did it change your perception of how much God must love you?

I came to the realization this week that in may I will have lived a whole two years without a dependable, working pain free right foot. I’ve lived 1 year and 8 months in this state of recovery from a back injury. I’ve had 4 sets of epidurals, 10 total months of physical therapy and been treated by 3 different doctors. My therapist has described my current mental state as grieving a loss. I know there are others, who are caring so much more pain and grief than me but I also know that for me this is a lot. So everyday I pray God please heal me. Please heal my nerves and some days I get no answer, and some days I get “I am healing you.” even though I don’t see it and some days I get “No, not today.” But I keep asking because I know He alone has everything it takes to heal me.

Healing is weird. Lots of people I’ve know and talked to who have received healing directly from God have just miraculous, weird testimonies. I have received healing from God and my testimonies are so weird that doctors didn’t believe me.  I can remember three major instances prior to my injury where God just put his hand on me and miraculously healed me. One time I didn’t even realize it had happened until after the fact it was so gentle.

I volunteer at a convention call Karitos based in Chicago, Ill. In 2016 we were having a mini version of it in Indianapolis called Karitos-Indy. I had been seeing a doctor for a pinched nerve in my neck that was causing pain and numbness running down my arm. I had injured my neck in a car accident years before and the disc’s were swollen and pinching the nerve. We had tried two types of medications for nerve pain and I did not do well on either so I was just bearing it. I was also in physical therapy for it. The day before the conference I had to load my van with supplies and had no help. I pulled my back trying to take apart the car seat and put the seats down to load it. The first day of the conference I was in tremendous pain. I had to have my friends help me lift and carry the registration tubs I needed for the conference. I can remember about an hour after registration sitting on the floor sorting files and realizing that my arm didn’t hurt and my back wasn’t in pain from how I was sitting. I thought back and realized my arm didn’t hurt at all while I was registering guests for the conference. God had healed my arm and back. The pain in my arm has never returned. I went to my follow up visit  with the doctor and told him about my experience at the conference and he was very skeptical. I told the physical therapists, they were in awe at how i could move without out pain but skeptical too. It didn’t matter, I believed I was healed and haven’t had the same kind of pain their again.

A year before at the same mini convention we had decided to have a worship night just for faculty a day before the conference started. During worship one of the leaders was speaking healing over the audience. I was standing next to my daughter who had sprained her ankle a few months before and was having tremendous pain from it off and on. I began to pray that God would heal her ankle. But I heard the worship leader say “Someone in this room is Bi-polar, God is going to heal you of your Bi-polar.” I was diagnosed with Bi-polar 2 in 2010 and had been on medication every since. When I heard that I was dumbfounded. At first I didn’t believe it could be me, I was surprised, and a little angry that God didn’t heal my daughter’s ankle ( But looking back he healed it enough for her to dance all weekend at the conference, ) and I didn’t know what to do. After talking to my best friend and my therapist at that time, who is a christian, I received and believed he was going to heal me. Within 6 months I was off all medications and no longer having episodes of depression or mania. I was medicine free until recently. The episodes haven’t’ returned I am being treated more for depression and trauma from my accident.

The third healing I received is very different from the ones before. I had suffered since high school with severe migraines. I’ve been thru a slew of medications to try to find out what might work to slow them down or stop them. If your a migraine sufferer you know how debilitating they can be. The January before my accident my OBGYN put me on a birth control to treat endometriosis episodes I have had. We had tried the Merina and my body had rejected it so she was trying a low dose of estrogen. I had told her that birth control pills had always cause me to have more migraines. The pills gave me migraines that lasted 2 and three weeks at a time even after stopping the medicine. When I reported it to the OBGYN the nurses answer was always just to give it more time. I was also experience numbness in my hands as well as missing work and my neurologist at the time wanted me to take a EMG to see if I may have fibromyalgia. At the prompting of my parents I went to the elders of my church and asked them to pray over me. In two weeks I saw a new neurologist who put me on different medications. The numbness stopped. I saw a new OBGYN who changed my medicine to a hormone, progesterone and since all of this I have had maybe one headache, not debilitating migraine but manageable headache every few months. I count this as a healing. Yes it took doctors prescribing the right medicines but thank God for those doctors and those medicines and for leading me to the right doctors for this healing.

So I know God can heal. I’ve seen it in my life so significantly. I think that is why I can pray for it every day. I don’t know why this time I’m having to wait longer, struggle more but I know God has a purpose for it, maybe just so I can tell my story to help you with yours. Is there something in your life you need God to heal? Don’t be afraid to ask. The journey to healing is never easy, its not. The woman mentioned in the Bible in Mark chapter 5 had a bleeding issue, she was unclean and was supposed to yell, I’m unclean! when anyone got within 10 feet of her but she entered the city, entered the crowd surrounding Jesus and touched his outer robe. She broke every mosaic rule just for her healing. Friends of a paraplegic had to climb on top of a house, break open the ceiling and lower their friend down thru the ceiling in front of Jesus for him to have healing. Another man laid by a pool for 38 years unable to climb in first before Jesus came to him and healed him. Can you imagine laying in the same place for 38 years! Its not easy to wait on healing friends, but it is worth it. God promises he is the God who heals and I am so thankful for the times in my past he has and that he promises to do so again. I feel that we need to start giving him credit not only on the miraculous hearings but the inmiraculous ones too because he is the orchestrator of it all.  I challenge you to comment and share of a time when God has healed you, miraculously or not.