“The Broken Way” at the Christian Worldview Film Festival

Standard

CWVFF_Pic“I’m not going down there, Christina.  I’m telling Phillip that I can’t come and speak. Why am I even a speaker? I made one feature film and it didn’t do well because we didn’t make our money back, which means no money to make another film.  I can’t look at these people and tell them that for the second year in a row Disciples in the Moonlight is not being filmed this year. What am I doing?  I’m a failure.  Everything I touch dies. I get a lead on project after project and they are taken away or pushed.  Maybe this is not my calling.”

Tears are streaming down my face as Brett stands vulnerable before me. I put the weights down and sit on the ottoman because clearly my workout can wait.  This man before me, the one who is strong for me, fights to protect me, prays over me and takes on spiritual oppression when I’m under attack by Satan’s lies and fears, is baring his naked soul to me.  Through the blurriness of my tears, I look him in the eyes. Those same eyes that I have looked into a million times since 16 years old. It is one of the features that I love most about him because even as we age, his eyes and that look of unconditional love he gives me will never change. I can see his soul, and in this moment, there is fear. Insecurity. Worry. Failure. Lies. Bitterness. Betrayal. Hopelessness.   This is not the man I know. Because that man I know is who Christ says he is, not these lies from Satan.

This was only one of a few broken moments that Brett had in the past several months.  I asked the Spirit to tell me what to say or do.  I have told Brett over and over in past occurrences that those are lies. I’ve spoken truth into his ears. Laid my hands on him and prayed warrior prayers over him when I have found him paralyzed on the floor of our bedroom unable to get up because the fears and lies had overtaken him.   But now, I use my exercise shirt to wipe away my tears and honestly don’t know what to do anymore to help him.  I wanted to yell, “Shut up!”  Yet instead, my own fears and worries rose up.  How can I be a helpmate to my husband when I myself am battling my own insecurities, shame of sin, fears of the future?  I didn’t say anything. We were both broken. I just let the tears come. I nodded my head to say I understand.  We went our separate ways.  I don’t even remember if I finished my weight lifting.

Now, I’m on a plane flying back home to Indianapolis from San Antonio. We went “down there,” way down south in Texas.  The place that only a few weeks ago Brett was dreading to go.  And now tears are ready to burst from the overwhelming joy of what took place this past week at the Christian Worldview Film Festival (CWVFF).   Last night after a wonderful time at the festival’s ceremony and after-party with so many friends, I looked into Brett’s eyes.  And this time I see joy. Hope. Encouragement. Peace. Security. Surrender.  That didn’t come from news that his film projects are funded and off and running. Or that he got a role as lead actor for a feature film. Or that he took home a prestigious award…because all those things didn’t happen.  This is how it happened…

Brokenness. Vulnerability. Surrender. Community.

The past few years, God has been breaking Brett and me. We asked for revival a couple of years ago, and God has been answering. But that revival could only start in our hearts. A quote I read on the plane down to San Antonio spoke loudly where we are at: “Before God can use you greatly, He will wound you deeply.  Are you ready to be pruned by the Master?”*  We have been wounded in different ways, separate from each other and together. Oh and how the pruning hurts.  But it is necessary.   A week before our trip to the CWVFF, I devoured the book The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp.  This book is one that I will buy and put on my shelf, and that says a lot for an avid book reader who doesn’t buy books unless they impact my life, and I will read over and over for the years to come.  The Spirit spoke through Ann right to my heart and where I am at on this broken journey myself.

In my previous post, My Friend, You Are Not Alone, I wrote about loneliness and how relationships and discipleship is crucial in this life.  In The Broken Way, Ann expanded on this concept, specifically how brokenness and suffering in community are the way to heal our broken hearts. I have experienced “the broken way” this past year with my three discipling relationships and even other relationships I did not mention.  Through my suffering I fought to isolate myself but instead became vulnerable. I poured out my heart, confessed my sin, and opened my hands to give to others.    And because of it I have known this to be true:  “The way through brokenness is, and always has been, to break the sufferer free from the aloneness of the suffering by choosing to participate in the suffering with them – [community] – choosing to stand with the suffering, stay with the suffering, and let it all be shaped into meaning that transcends the suffering.”  (I give you permission to read that again and let it sink in! It’s pretty deep!)

Brett and I went down to the CWVFF not knowing what to expect. We prayed and asked the Lord to use us. Use our brokenness. Vulnerability. No answers for our future. Open hands ready to give. Humbled hearts surrendered.  I walked into that place and it honestly felt like I was given oxygen to breathe.  The veil of loneliness and fear disappeared from surrounding Brett as the week went on. When someone asked how we were doing, we didn’t say “great” and a bunch of fake comments to appease the person. We were honest. “It’s been a really hard year, but this is what God is doing…”  On Friday night, the Spirit spoke through Brett as he gave a powerful message on how a wrong identity leads us to fear and worry, distracts us from the mission, and makes us question God.    He shared his journey through the past couple of years of having a wrong identity. He was completely vulnerable and even the end wasn’t tied up with a pretty bow, since we still don’t have answers for our future. (Click here to listen and watch a short video clip from his speech.)

We found “the broken way” right there at the CWVFF.  As our walls came down, others’ walls came down too. My heart wanted to burst with gratitude for every person that came up to him and told their own story of fear and loneliness.  Others suffering alongside Brett in the filmmaking world. We are not alone. There is no judgment. This is community: Those who prayed with him. Hugged him. Cried with him. Gave written and audible words of encouragement.  And all those who engaged with me in conversations that touched me deeply, whether sitting at a table, the couch in the hallway, on the floor, mealtimes, crammed in our rental car, and even the bathroom. Talking to other filmmaker wives who really do understand me. Laughing with friends like we’ve known each other for years. You will never know how desperately I needed to hear your words: “Thank you for all you do for your husband. You probably are behind the scenes but your role as his wife is most important.” “Thank you for your vulnerability. You are a warrior princess. We need to be mentoring more warrior princesses.”  “Listening to how you have supported Brett has inspired me to find a wife like you.” (Didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at that one! I had to fight to shut up Satan from reminding me of all the ways I have failed Brett through this journey.)

Many filmmakers went “down there” to the CWVFF hoping to bring back an award. Yes, some did, yet most all of us went home Spirit-filled, encouraged, and rejuvenated to continue the mission God has called us to in filmmaking.  If you want to find Jesus in filmmaking…come to the Christian Worldview Film Festival and Filmmaker’s Guild next year.  That is where revival is. That is where suffering happens together in community to bring about a purpose far greater than we expected.

As I was leaving the after-party to get to bed since we had an early flight home, I said goodbye to the founder’s wife. She told me what spoke to her the most this week was experiencing blessing through others’ suffering, which doesn’t seem right! I hugged her and said, “Oh I know. I really do know. It’s the broken way.” And Ann says it better than I can: “The fellowship of the broken believe that suffering is a gift He entrusts to us and He can be trusted to make this suffering into a gift.”

Flashback to a few weeks ago, I sat on that ottoman and at one point couldn’t look Brett in the eyes anymore because it was too painful. I stared at my weights feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders questioning, what was God doing?  We’ve been waiting for answers for a couple of years now. What more does He want with our brokenness?   Now, I know. I really do know. God has turned our suffering into a gift.  If God allowed us to suffer all this time so that Brett would share his vulnerable heart to all who heard him this past week so that lives could be impacted…then it was worth it all.  And now we come home still unsure if God will or will not allow answers for our future to come soon. Regardless, we will remain….

Broken. Vulnerable. Surrendered. Suffering with Community. A Gift.

Follow CWVFF on Facebook and check out more pics and videos from last week’s guild and festival: https://www.facebook.com/cwvff/

*From the book, The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Romance

My Friend, You are not alone

Standard

“No one understands you, Christina. You’ve always been different.  If other women really knew your heart and struggles they would reject you. Just stuff it down, put on a good face, and keep going through life. It’s better to be alone anyways. You survived high school, college, and all the years up to this point with only a couple of close friends.  Stay hiding. Again, no one really understands.”

Sadly, those are real thoughts.  The oxymoron is that in the moments I listened and believed those thoughts, I felt so alone when reality is that I was the farthest from being alone in those thoughts.  Have you ever heard yourself say something similar?  Maybe different words but the same conclusion: I. Am. Alone.  And in a twisted way my loneliness drags me down to further isolation rather than reaching out to someone. If this is you, my friend, pull up a chair.

I was drowning in those thoughts a little less than a year ago. I felt like no one could relate to me as a filmmaker’s wife and watching my husband wrestle with God’s will and waiting on His timing to fulfill his calling as a “missionary who makes movies.” There is no other woman in my church that is a wife to a filmmaker so of course no one understands, right?  In addition, there are sins and idols in my heart that I’m always dealing with and who likes to confess sin, especially to other women who appear to have it all together, right?  So it’s easy to just try to deal with it alone. Fake it until you make it somehow. Isolate. Yet choosing to isolate myself kept me in bondage to the lies.  And worse, in my loneliness, fears, and a wrong identity of who I am in Christ, I was keeping the door of my heart wide open, resorting to my idols for a sense of comfort and control.

But my God is good and gracious, and He opened my eyes and did something miraculous. The Bible says, For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)   So I cried out to Jesus in my loneliness, since He of all people understands what it is like to be alone and misunderstood. I prayed many of David’s Psalms, and He answered by bringing 3 very different yet life-impacting relationships into my life.  Let me share how these relationships have changed me and brought me from isolation to extending my arms out and loving others even more without fear of rejection.


The Friend: One day I got on Facebook and had a new message from a woman I knew of but never met.  Her message was short and simple. She told me that God had laid me heavily on her heart and that she was praying for me. Completely unexpected and it touched me significantly in that moment when I needed someone to show compassion. I thanked her and told her how much her prayers meant to me.  As our conversation continued, we shared more about ourselves and we soon realized that we are very similar in our personality and struggles as wives, mothers, and even ministry callings for our families. Our friendship deepened as we encouraged each other in our faith and pursuit of Jesus, held each other accountable to our idols in life, and even vented or laughed about our daily grind as moms.

Fast forward: it’s been 7 months and this girl has become an anchor in my life holding me down with Truth.  I don’t know where I’d be without her. Our friendship has displayed Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  And man is she sharp!  She calls me out when she perceives my heart wandering, she listens to the Spirit when praying for me and tells me exactly what I need to hear, and she encourages me to keep pursuing Jesus no matter the cost. I pray I do the same for her.  God heard my cry of loneliness, the Spirit spoke to this woman to send a simple message to tell me that she cares, and my life has been changed because of our friendship.


The Older: I’ve always desired an older, wiser woman to mentor me. Someone to take me under her wing, teach me from her life experiences, and pour Truth into my life as a young wife and mother. I didn’t know how to go about finding this mentor.  I prayed occasionally that God would just send someone to me. That this woman will walk right up to me and say, “I’m going to disciple you.” Well, it wasn’t happening.  Last year Brett and I started attending a church whose mission is “to make disciples who make disciples.”  It only increased my desire for someone to come alongside me that has already walked in my shoes as a wife and mom.  Again, in my loneliness I begged God to send someone who could disciple me.

One Sunday morning I was praying as I got ready for church. I asked God to show me that morning the woman who could disciple me.  With faith, I walked into the church building and my eyes started scanning like a hawk looking for food. A few women caught my attention yet I didn’t feel the Spirit tug. Brett and I dropped the kids off in their classrooms and we found a seat. We were early that day, so I kept scanning as women came and sat down.  Then I saw a man standing in the back that caught my attention. I faced forward again and spoke this man’s wife’s name to God. Within 5 seconds, Brett turns to me and says, “What about _____” It was the woman I had just spoke to God.  I had overwhelming peace from the Spirit.

The service couldn’t get over soon enough.  Brett went to get the kids and I eagerly sought out this woman. She was speaking to someone else, so I anxiously waited off to the side trying to still figure out what I was even going to say. She acknowledged me, finished her conversation, and smiled brightly as she made her way to me. It didn’t take long; I was babbling and crying like a baby as I told her, “I desperately need someone to help me!”  Her compassion was overwhelming as she hugged me and said, “Yes. Let’s meet up as soon as possible. I am very available.”

We started meeting up every other week. I talked, I cried, I confessed sin and struggles as she listened and constantly took me to Scripture. The Truth of God’s Word filled me as she shared exactly what I needed. I would leave my time with her energized, satisfied by the Word of God, and encouraged. She never judged me. She listened. She understood. She was used by the Spirit to speak to me right where I was in that moment.  Here is the best part:  Within the first couple of times together, she opened up and shared what God was teaching her. God had been telling her to stop being afraid and reach out to more women.  The very day that I walked into church by faith looking for her to disciple me, she walked into church with her hands held out asking God, “Who Lord? My hands are held out to serve someone. Show me who.”  Like me, she was scanning the women who came and went. Then when I walked up to her, both our prayers were answered.  I just got the chills writing that out.  Again, God heard me. God heard her. He doesn’t want us alone.

For several months now we have met on and off. Our relationship has displayed Titus 2:3-5, Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”   This woman is not only older than I am, but more importantly, she is much wiser and has been teaching me through her own life experiences.  The humbling part is that God has also used me to encourage her and her pursuit of Jesus. 


The Younger: Around the same time these two women came into my life, God still wasn’t done answering my cry for help and was stretching my heart even more.  This time though, I became the “older woman” to a high school-aged girl.  Like my desire for an older woman to disciple me, I have prayed for a younger woman to disciple, but the same frustrations came with pursuing this relationship. Just like I was waiting for someone to come up to me and announce boldly that she will be my mentor, the thought of me picking some girl out of a crowd was frightening and just plain awkward.

However, it wasn’t needed because this girl came to me first for nutrition advice.  What started out as dietitian-to-patient relationship blossomed into a deeper discipleship relationship.   As this girl shared her heart with me, I looked across the picnic table and could see myself, 13 years ago. Many of her struggles were similar to mine at that age. I am excited for the opportunity to share with her what I wish I would have known when I was 18 years old. We met recently and she updated me on a significant idol she had overcome which has drawn her closer to Jesus. She eagerly asked me questions and sought more of my advice. I cherish our conversations and walk away greatly humbled that even in the midst of my own struggles, God is using my life experiences, successes, failures, and the lessons that He has taught me to impact someone else.


My friend, we need each other. Stop isolating yourself. Stop telling yourself that you are alone and no one understands.  Since there is nothing new under the sun, I guarantee you that there is another woman going through a very similar experience or battling a particular sin or idol like you are right now.  Pray and beg God like I did to send you a friend and/or someone to disciple you. He will listen because He made us for relationships. He doesn’t want you fighting alone.

Let’s also stop making assumptions.  That woman at church or in the moms’ group that appears to have it all together? She is struggling in some way too.  Don’t be afraid to go to someone like I did. Be honest and confess sin, and I promise instead of more pain you will find immense healing take place. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16). We also need to stop judging other women, leading to gossip. (“Oh! We should pray for so-and-so! Did you hear…?”)  No wonder we are afraid to open up and be real about our burdens and sins; it may be next on the “prayer request” chain. And just because we don’t struggle with a particular sin doesn’t mean that we are better than that other woman struggling with her sin. Let’s get the plank out of our eyes and see that we are all sinners in need of the gospel daily, no matter what the sin.

Since we are flawed humans we cannot expect perfection in each other.  I have regretfully made my share of mistakes in relationships, and also have been on the receiving end of being hurt.  In my own failures and rejection by others, I have a tendency to go back to isolation. I don’t want to cause or receive any more pain. In fact, I wrestled with the Spirit on publishing this post. Those lies crept in again telling me to isolate myself and not be vulnerable.  However, I instantly realized they were lies from Satan trying to shut me up because he knows the spiritual impact of discipleship and doesn’t want you to experience it.  These women in my life have taught me that blessing only comes when I come out from hiding. And that the most wonderful thing about friendship and discipleship is when we pour into each other, we can continue to pour out more to others.  It’s a beautiful cycle.  It’s a God-ordained cycle, and He wants you to be a part of it.

You are not alone in your feelings of being alone. You really are not that different. You are understood. You are not rejected. Now get up off your chair, get out of hiding, and ask God to bring a woman you can open up your heart to. And if you are an “older” woman, go reach out your hands to a “younger” woman who desperately needs the Spirit working through you. It’s better to do life together, I promise.

bcv_6174tonedsun

Do the Demons Know Your Name?

Standard

I can’t breathe.  My throat is constricted like hands grasped around my neck.

I can’t move. What’s holding me down?

I can’t see. Heavy darkness surrounds me.

I can’t speak. I’m yelling and nothing is coming out because the hands are too strong around my throat.

“In….the….name….of….Jesus…” I try to scream out but there’s no voice. I try again. Again. Silence. Suffocation.

“BRETT!” I try instead, forcing my arm to try and hit it him as I lie paralyzed in bed.

Finally after fighting, I feel him. He moves but rolls over.

Then I’m released. I sit up exhausted. Confused. I lie back down and fall asleep.

Yes, this happened to me one night last year.  When I woke up in the morning, I asked Brett if he felt me grab him. He said no.  I told a close friend of my experience and she said it was similar to what she experienced in her life from her past: demonic physical oppression.

The next night, Brett and I prayed over our bedroom asking God to remove any spiritual darkness and protect us.  However, for whatever reason it happened to Brett.  I woke up to him screaming, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” over and over again, which released the demon’s hold on him.  Prior to the oppression, Brett was dreaming about the calling God has given him to be a missionary who makes movies.

Some people may read this and be skeptical or think it was just a dream. Or wonder why we would be spiritually oppressed like this. It was real, and here is why. Let me start from the beginning.

Brett became very active on Facebook at the beginning of 2016 using it as an avenue to share the gospel and minister to people. Brett led a girl to Jesus, whose powerful transformation by the Spirit was a domino affect to leading others to accepting Jesus into their life as well.  However, this new daughter of God had a horrific past of abuse, and specifically to this topic, demonic oppression.  Let’s just say, Satan was not happy that he was losing more and more people from his grasp as they were found by the Savior.  And if Satan can’t have our souls, he will try to ruin us in any way possible by distracting us from our mission on this earth and forgetting that he is the real enemy.  He causes as much confusion and disunity among believers as he possible can to deter us from our calling and winning more souls for Jesus.

Facebook can be a great tool for Christians to use to share the gospel; however, more often than not Satan is in the background playing his games of destruction.  Brett, this girl, and others were being attacked by satanists on Facebook.  Yes, you can block and report, but it won’t stop Satan’s work.  Then one February night, Brett was messaged by a satanist.  Over the course of 2 days, Brett talked to him. He could feel the presence and weight of darkness through his computer screen.  He responded with the only thing that has power over the darkness: the Word of God. The man was demon possessed at times throughout their conversations and the Word penetrated making him physically sick and blurring his vision, until Brett told him to cry out to God and ask if He was real.  Immediately he was made well. Sadly, he still did not choose Jesus in fear of what his cult would do to him.  He ended his conversation with Brett by telling him he failed his mission to distract Brett from serving God.  Then the words that I try not to let haunt me, “Just know that the demons now know your name.”

Brett and my physical oppression is one evidence from this past year that the demons know our names. The satanist told Brett that since Satan and demons are not omnipresent like God, they do not know every Christian. They know only the ones who are a threat to their mission to keep souls from Jesus.  This is not bragging rights; this is the reality that we are in war.  This may be changing very soon, but here in America we have not been in war against other people for our faith. Yes, you may get criticized, rejected by a friend, unfriended on Facebook, laughed at, questioned, etc.  However, unlike our brothers and sisters over seas, we are not getting tortured, shot, burned, beheaded.  It may only be a matter of time, but at least right now, Brett and I are not being thrown in jail or threatened for being missionaries who make movies.  No one is stopping us. Except….Satan and his demons.

The year of 2016 has been a year of waiting. God has made his mission for us known, yet like David, Joseph, and even Jesus, we must wait for His timing to live it out. And in the wait, Satan has been working behind the scenes trying to distract with sin, plant seeds of fears and insecurities that have grown to paralyzing mountains, discourage us from our calling, doubt who God really says He is and who we are in Christ, destroy relationships….all to hold us back from obeying God even in the wait.

Satan is the real enemy.  Even for other believers who face persecution from people, Satan is still the enemy behind it all.  This sounds pretty discouraging and even haunting, especially since our culture has its own ideas of the spiritual forces around us.  My response can be to fear him and be intimidated by him.  Honestly, that is has been my initial response and I’m still battling it. And I can tell you by experience, that’s exactly what he wants. It gives him more power; he knows my weaknesses and can shoot his flaming arrows right where my armor his down.  He sets up camp in my territory and whispers that lie. That thought of doubt or insecurity. That tempting fruit of desire that if I don’t take captive it will lead to sin. He also likes to give me the club and I beat myself over and over with it while he sits back and enjoys the show.  Many times I think I came up with the thought or lie, and because “there is a way that seems right to a man (Proverbs 16:25),” I don’t instantly shove it out. I easily think it could be truth.   Where as if I focus that my enemy, the devil, who is prowling around like a lion looking to devour me (1 Peter 5:8), spoke that lie, doubt, tempting desire, it’s easy to fight back! To face him and chase him out of my territory.  To speak the truth of God’s Word to shine the light which scatters the darkness (1 John 2:8).

Not only do I need to remember that Satan is the enemy, but that people are not the enemy. Even people who do not have the Spirit inside them are not the enemy. They have been blinded by Satan from the truth of Jesus Christ and his saving gift of grace that He offers them (2 Corinthians 4:4).  I was once lost and blinded; yet in God’s grace I have been found and forgiven.  This past year I have understood the grace of God more than ever before.  And because of that, the Spirit has enabled me to show more grace to others and look at them differently, no matter who they are and what they have done.  I have been living my life with fuzzy blinders over my eyes.  Now, God’s grace, unconditional love, and forgiveness towards me overflows even more to others.   Whether it’s someone from a completely different walk of life or someone who has sinned against me, they are never the enemy.  I can love with open arms. I can be rejected and know that I’m still a daughter of the King and no one can change that.  I can forgive completely when someone has hurt me.

Instead Satan wants division, arguing, unforgiveness towards one another.  When we see people as the enemy, it is so easy to do this!   Someone hurts us or someone we love, and we want to fight back and get revenge.  We feel unloved or unwanted by someone who should love or want us, so we start to believe we are unloved and desperately try to find love in the wrong places. Or we stuff down pain from the past and put up a wall from those who do love us, causing bondage rather freedom.   We fight over the meaning of a Scripture passage and churches are split into two.  Our spouse sins and we add it to the list of wrongs, and even bring it up in a later argument.  Our children are acting like little demons (can I get a raised hand!?) and we yell, become impatient, and frustrated that they are not obeying every word we say.  We even can struggle to forgive ourselves for hurting the people we love.

And Satan loves it.  He is the master of disguise. He is not the devil with the red suit and pitchfork. He’s beautiful; he even twisted our minds in our culture to think that beauty is to strive for and without it, you are not worthy. Another deception.  So he is weaving himself unnoticed throughout our minds and our relationships, and without realizing it you are believing that you (beating myself with the club example) are the enemy, or your spouse, children, friend, coworker, annoying Facebooker who won’t shut up about the election, the persecutor, yes, even the ISIS leader who has been brainwashed by THE enemy.

My friend who is reading this, there is hope.  Satan is a wimp.  It doesn’t sound like it from what I wrote above.  And as I said, I struggle with seeing him for who he really is: a punk with cheap parlor tricks as Brett tells me.  But the only way I put him in his rightful place (um…hell), is to look to the One who is on the Throne.  When I see Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, in His rightful place, everything changes. I remember that the Spirit of God lives in me!  He’s not in a tabernacle where I go worship.  He’s not here in flesh and bone like Jesus walked on the earth 2000 years ago. He is here with me. In me.  And that blows my mind. That God the Creator, the powerful I AM would come live inside me.  I have the same power to defeat Satan and my sin as Jesus had to raise from the dead!   I do not live like this every moment of every day.  What would my days look like if I did?  Satan’s doubts, lies, deceptions, luring temptations would have no place in my mind.

Oh but if only it was easy. This is war. It’s a daily battle. Some days the struggle is so real and I feel so weak. I have sat in my shower crying out to God to take the battle away because I don’t want to fight anymore.  I have 2 choices in that moment:

1. Allow Satan to stay in my territory, giving in to despair while focusing on my fears, doubts, insecurities, and temptations of sin. Which then paralyzes me and weakens my effectiveness in the mission God has called me on this earth. Causing me to miss out on receiving and giving blessings. Wondering through life without joy or peace.

-OR-

2. Ask God to fight for me, to give me the strength I need when I am weak. Take his grace that is sufficient for this day (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Give up control. Close my eyes and see Him as John did:  “…like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.” (Revelation 1:13-16)  Then I stand up and be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that I am ready to take my stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-11)

The best part: we already know who wins the war. And it surely is not Satan. He will be thrown into the lake of fire for all eternity (Revelation 20:10).  Meanwhile….

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:11-16)

This rider called Faithful and True is on my side.  I have nothing to fear when I trust the Word of God.  What about you? Do you see the war around you? Is the king of kings and lord of lords on your side?  If so, are you allowing Satan to devour you or are you standing firm in the strength of the Word of God?  Do you think the demons know your name?

The battle has been won. The victory is ours. Let’s live with this Truth in mind.

Thank You, Jesus, for my Crohn’s Disease – Part 7

Standard

If you haven’t read my latest flair-up journey, you should start here to get the full picture.

Sometime during my flair-up, I told Brett, “Well, I better start praising Jesus for this Crohn’s attack because there has to be something he wants to teach me!” Here are a few things that He did show me through this experience, and I hope it blesses you too.


  1. I can be a better dietitian by experiencing different diets and digestive issues.

Let me be honest.  As a dietitian, I’m not a fan of fad diets, the newest diet book, whatever is being shared most on Facebook, etc.  If you want to know why, you can watch my video on why fad diets don’t work.  Therefore, I actually was against trying Whole30 at first.  No way, I’m not going to try something because everyone is doing it. And if you know me at all, I usually do the opposite of what everyone is doing. However, after listening to my sister-in-law, Ashley, tell me about the success she had with acid reflux, I knew it couldn’t hurt to give it a try.

Why was I still resistant though? Jesus showed me that I had a pride issue.  Deep down, I struggle with people asking my opinion on a nutrition topic, yet, then say, “Well, I read…”  My pride says, “Then why did you ask my opinion? I guess that article on Facebook written by who knows who is more important than my Purdue University degree, plus continuing education on the most updated food and nutrition research?”  Ok, that sounds harsh, and that’s my pride talking, but I probably can get an AMEN from many of my dietitian colleagues. I mean…our competition is…Facebook?  Yeah, kinda a low blow. However, I do NOT know everything, and I’m not afraid to tell people that. But I also needed a reminder that just because I’m not familiar with something doesn’t mean it couldn’t work for people.

I had to let go of my pride, and once I did, I actually got excited for this experience and the possibility of my health improving through changing my diet. (Note: For those wondering what my diet was like before Whole 30, I was not perfect, but I aimed daily to live by the guidelines from MyPlate.)   Before starting, I came to the conclusion that whether Whole 30 worked or didn’t work, I knew that I would gain valuable insight.  If a client asks me my opinion on Whole 30 now, I can give them an honest review of my experience. If they choose to try it, I can understand their struggles, successes, and even give them recipe tips!

Further, not only can I relate to others but I can sympathize with other people with bowel disease, disorders, allergies, etc.  I’ve been on the patient end too many times, and knowing that my medical provider can actually understand what I’m going through?  That’s a win-win for provider-patient. I can provide not only my dietitian expertise but my personal experience with others who are struggling too.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10

I have realized that God gave me this “gift” of a bowel disease to serve others. My role is to be a faithful steward of showing people God’s grace in this various form of….well….poop.


2. What works for you, may not work for me. And what works for me, may not work for you.

Another reason why fad diets don’t work for everyone. Every body is different. There is no cookie cutter approach.  Whole 30 worked for my sister-in-law and a host of other people; it did not work for me.  And guess what? I’m OK with that!!  If you have truly put your effort into something to improve your health that you felt worked for “everyone else” and it didn’t work, don’t get discouraged.  Because honestly, it didn’t work for EVERYone else. Your body is unique and will respond differently depending on what’s going on.  Accept that and don’t give up trying something else or in my case, get medical help. Which leads me to….


3. There is a place for natural remedies AND medicine.

In the mommy world, I feel like this is a really hot topic.  There is a lot of guilt and finger pointing for not eating all organic, giving children vaccines, using essential oils vs. over-the-counter meds, and now that it’s summer, the TOXIC sunscreen issue. I skip over all the articles on these topics. I know my convictions and I’m not going to let someone’s convictions make me feel guilty.  I encourage you to do the same. If you feel so strongly about no medicine and using only natural remedies, good for you!  I commend you! I agree that we should use God’s resources that our at our disposable. I tried to go the natural route, and I really did not want to seek medical attention since the solution is always drugs. However, as you read in the previous post, I was getting so sick.  And since my body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit living inside me, I am responsible for taking care of it the best that I know how.

I have been on medication for about 3 weeks now, and I have seen great improvement with my symptoms.  I don’t have the urge to go as often, and when the urge comes, I don’t have to literally run. I can actually tell my children, “Mommy will be back. I have to go potty.” Rather than leaving them in the dust.  As far as my diet?  I’m eating similar to how I was before I tried Whole 30, except I do eat less grains and I don’t eat much dairy.   I may introduce dairy later to see if there is an effect, but for now, I am doing very well and want to keep up what I’m doing.


4. “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” – 2 Timothy 1:7

Honestly, I love blogging because the Lord teaches me as I write out my story, thoughts, and emotions. As I wrote the details of this journey in my previous post, I kept asking myself why I was in such denial of my condition?  Why did I keep saying, “NO!”, every time Brett told me to call my doctor? Now, I realize it was fear. I feared that I was out of remission, that I would have to be on drugs the rest of my life, that I will eventually be part of the 75% of bowel disease patients who will have surgery to remove diseased sections and yes, maybe the entire colon. Then, when my doctor took out 2 large polyps, I couldn’t help but fear the ugly c-word…cancer.  Praise Jesus they were benign, but now what?

Do I live in constant fear of the future? No, I choose not to because fear is not from God. I feared that God never really did heal me. But who am I to know the ways of God? I will trust that His ways are higher than my ways. And as I sit here writing this, I had 2 people message me regarding my previous post and share with me their struggles with ulcerative colitis. It is encouraging that I am not alone. If I can walk along someone else with this struggle, and even point them to the One who heals not only the body but more importantly our sick souls?  Then it will be worth every pill I take. Every bathroom run. Every procedure, and yes, even possibly surgery.  Will it be hard? Of course. I don’t know the future, but I know that Jesus is holding my hand and whispering, “watch what I can do again when you are weak, and I am strong.”