Saturday, August 21, 2010

Just some random thoughts on food

I was listening to a sermon this morning while I rode my bike; he was talking about the fact that God created everything to bring Himself glory. He created food, sex, marriage, the seas, the mountains, man, everything to bring Him glory. He talked about how the food we eat should cause us to take pause and worship the Creator who gave all the different tastes and textures of food. We eat so fast that I don't think we really stop to taste and eat with gratitude. Do we really think about the flavors of the foods we eat? When we take it in do we consider the creativity of God that He would give so many different flavors of food that would grow out of the earth?

Then I began to think about what this means to food and to food bringing forth worship from us when we have dramatically changed the way that food tastes. We have genetically modified so many foods; we add sugar, salt, high fructose corn syrup, coloring and so many chemicals to our food. First, when food does not taste the way God created it to taste, how does that effect our response to the food. Do we stop and thank God for what we are eating? Do we experience the beauty that He intended when he brought forth the trees and plants from the soil? I know that I have read about how lifeless most of our food is. Our fruits and vegetables don't have nearly the vitamins and minerals that they are supposed to have. We pick them before they are ripe (much of the vitamin content happens during the ripening process). Our soil is completely depleted of minerals b/c of the way that we grow crops without rotating or resting the soil. The earth is filled with chemicals that end up in our foods. We have genetically modified foods so that they will grow in places there weren't intended to grow. We have done away with the biodiversity of food. Many of the types of potatoes and grains are extinct b/c we just grow certain strains. Much of our seed supply is not even pure anymore. Seeds are now being patented and then cross pollinated with genetically modified strains. It's no wonder food does not cause us to stop and worship the Creator; it is no longer what He created. We worship man for changing the food supply and giving us lifeless food to eat. Disease related to food is rampant; We are overweight, have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and any number of other diseases that are related to food. We have more food than we know what to do with only we are nutrient deficient b/c we eat lifeless food.

I have read that all matter gives off vibrations. Living beings give off these vibrations. Living food grown from the earth takes in the vibrations of the earth and materials surrounding it. If we take living food and process it so that it is no longer living, what does that do to us? We are not getting the life that was intended to be in our food. Food does not give us life and does not taste like the creator intended it to taste. Everything is related to everything else. God intended the earth to be in rhythm. There was a rhythm that was fractured at the fall. We have gone so so far from what was originally intended. The rhythm and chain is broken. Maybe we should think about getting back to the simplicity of things. We don't even walk on the earth most of the time. Concrete is everywhere. Trees are few. We seem to have become completely disconnected from creation. What are the consequences of that? Most of us only experience the sterility of what man has created, not the beauty, simplicity and complexity of what God created. We can be grateful for our food, but does it bring forth worship in us for is beauty, simplicity and deliciousness? Are we missing out on much of what food was intended to be? We want sweets; we want rich fattening food.

Food was originally so much more than it is now. There was so much to growing it and the culture that growing food involved. There was the cooking of the meal, the combination of ingredients, the enjoying of eating what was labored over with love.

Just a little food for thought. (hahaha.) I made a funny.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


This post took me a week to finish b/c things have been so crazy; it was written in 3 different sittings. Hopefully it is not too discombobulated.

As I celebrate and give thanks to God today for a full year without drinking, it has led me to think back to the place I was a year ago. Thinking on the last year causes me to take pause in awe of all that God has been so good to do for me. It seems like in the last 2 years He has grown me more than in the previous ten years. Probably the previous ten years were really building up to and laying groundwork for the seeds that have been germinating in my life to break forth in fruitfulness now.

In the months previous to finally getting sober, we had begun attending church after about a 2 year absence. I was a Christian and I definitely loved God during those two years, but I was in a desert for those two years. Things were so dry. I felt so isolated. It also seems like, looking back, I was in a sort of eclipse. The Light was shining on me, but it was veiled by darkness. I prayed and talked to God, but the vibrancy was not there. He was so distant to me. I think during those years the darkness inside of me that I had hidden and tried to clean up myself really began to bubble up inside of me. The parts of me that I was so ashamed of and the deep wounds inside of me began to hemorrhage. I began to bleed out internally. I think that darkness so overwhelmed me and the hemorrhaging reach a point that I was desperate to find freedom and wholeness. I realized that I could not fix it myself and that God was not going to just come in and fix it. You see, He has designed us to be in community. He has designed us to help one another to bear burdens, to pray for one another, to need accountability, and to bring healing to one another. For years I had cried out and asked for God to fix me and make everything right, but I wanted it my way. I wanted to be able to deal with it just Him and me. I didn't want to have to open up and show people the black rotting parts of my soul; I was afraid of what would happen if I really showed people the darkness inside of me that I struggled so intensely to defeat. I just knew I was the only one with so much ugliness and knew that I would be cast aside and rejected for it; so I pretended it wasn't there. I didn't hide it from God, but I hid it from everyone else. I wanted to have Him and not need anyone else. And He refused to do it that way. He had healed many things in me, but He would not let me get completely free and healed on my own. He let me bleed out until I was willing to allow others to help me along the journey. He let me get desperate enough that I would do whatever it took. At that point of bleeding out and desperation, we began to attend a church. I also began to attend Celebrate Recovery, a Christ centered 12 step program. I did a lot of crying out to God to help me and draw me back into His presence and His light. I knew what it was like to walk deeply with Jesus, and I knew that I had wondered far from that place. I desperately wanted to love Him more than anything else and I desperately wanted the deep intimacy that I had previously walked in. I knew that, if I cried out to Him, He would meet me in my desperation. I knew that He wanted to walk with me and envelop my being even more than I wanted it. I also knew that He would only answer sincere cries and not pretense. I also knew that sometimes He makes us keep crying out and waiting for Him before He comes to us, even though He desires to be close to us. And, as a matter of fact, He is always close to us, but we do not always feel Him. Sometimes He lets us feel distant from Him. I cried out every day, "Lord, please draw me near to you. Bring me back to the place where you are my best friend." I clung to the verse Jeremiah 29:12-14 "Then you will call upon me and go and pray to me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity..." "I would pray I am seeking you with all my heart, Lord please help me to seek you with all my heart." I would go to church and sing the worship songs, but they felt so hollow to me. I do not like to be a hypocrite. I do not like to put on pretense. I try very hard to be real and not put on a show or a face. I didn't want to sing, "Lord I need you more than the air I breathe", or "I want you more than anything else," when it was not the truth inside of me. I don't like to lie to anyone, but I sure don't want to lie to the Lord b/c he knows it all anyway. So as I would sing, I would cry out to Him please make this the truth. And every day I would cry out to Him please draw me near to you and take me out of the dryness and make the words to the songs I sing really how I feel. I knew from years of walking with Him and seasons of dryness that if I kept crying out He would answer me. (We all go through dry periods and times when He pulls away so we won't take Him for granted to make us seek Him harder.) I had not been this far from Him or so dry since the day He introduced Himself to me, but I knew He would come. Then I realized a couple months later, that I really meant the words I was singing and that I had fallen back in love with my Lord. I was daily walking with Him as my best friend. I still struggled with drinking for about six more months. Most of the people who knew me would not have had any idea that I was struggling like I was or that I even had a problem. My family knew very well, though. My husband just prayed for me and asked God to help me find my way out of the darkness.

That was the beginning of coming out of the eclipse. It wasn't like full darkness; it was more like an eclipse. There was a huge battle to come to the realization that I really was powerless; the denial had a pretty tight grip on me. There was a part of me that knew that I was powerless over my drinking, but a stronger part of me tried to pretend like I was in control; I just didn't want to quit. (If you want to read more about why I drank and the lies I told myself about it, go to the post I came out of the eclipse in so much a better place than I was before the time of eclipse. It was not wasted time. It was a very important part of my walk. I learned so much and had so much broken out of me; the Lord really taught me about mercy and grace. He really taught me compassion b/c the struggle was so intense. I really was powerless. I really and truly could not get free or even muster the desire to want to quit drinking. I am an extremely type A individual. I decide I am going to do something and I do it, or I decide I want to stop doing something and I just stop. Most of my close friends talk about how disciplined I am and how driven I can be if I have an end in mind. What that strength leads to, though, is that I can be a very proud, self sufficient, sometimes arrogant individual with very little compassion or mercy. Well, really, I am less of that, but it is still inside me. Thankfully, much of it has been broken out of me; judging by how much of it is still inside of me, there must have been tons of it. Becoming an alcoholic that was truly powerless to find freedom was so so so good for me. So much of that pride and self sufficiency was broken out of me and so much humility and compassion was worked into my soul. I can not take one iota of credit for my sobriety. I did not want to quit. I had to ask God to even give me the desire to quit. I know what it is like to really struggle so I do not put myself above those who would struggle and I can walk along beside them and love them now.

My walk is back to what it was when I first met Jesus, only better. I get to ponder His words and walk with him daily. I get to have Him as my closest friend, only I am more humble and wiser now. (Don't get me wrong I am not humble, just a little less proud). I also get to share this beautiful walk with a huge family. I have brothers and sisters all over the world and I have a close community who knows my struggles and my darkness and loves me through anyway. They challenge me and pray for me and question me when I need it.

I am so grateful that He is so good to me. I am so glad that He loves us enough to let the dryness into our lives so that we can deal with more of our baggage. I am so glad that He loves me enough to let me bleed out internally so that I can see that I need others in my life and I cannot handle it on my own. I am grateful that He does not love me the way I love my children. I want to shelter them from pain and keep all the bad away so they don't hurt, but that is not always the best thing. I would choose the easy path for them and thereby rob them of the blessing that the desert and the darkness and suffering would bring to them. I am also glad that He loves them better than me so that He won't let me protect them from the suffering that is good for them and that will bring about His plans for their lives.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

God never ceases to amaze me

I had a really amazing and surreal moment this morning that I wanted to blog about. I am not sure this will even make sense to anyone reading it, but I have to get over letting what people may or may not think about my writing influence my posts. I need to be faithful to write what is on my heart, and trust that God will do whatever he wants with it.

I was riding my bike this morning and listening to a Matt Chandler sermon as has become my habit when I ride. I actually haven't ridden in about 3 weeks and I actually enjoyed the ride tremendously. I have been listening to a really old sermon series from 2006 called Beyond the Sun: A study of Ecclesiastes. I am really enjoying it. It is helping me to really get some perspective on life and try to live as God would have me live which is really actually the point in all sermons. The premise of the series is that everything under the sun is meaningless. Everything we do and seek after is empty, a chasing after the wind. That is unless we get beyond the sun. If we can get the real point and live the lives we have been given in light of the Cross of Christ and what it means. When we can see everything in the framework of the cross then hard times are easier to deal with, we can enjoy what we are given b/c they are gifts and not the point and end to it all, we can make choices more based on what God wants not what we want or what the world system says we should want.

So as I rode, I was listening to sermon about the middle of the series and I remembered the sermon so I looked at the date on the podcast. We were attending the Village when this series was being preached and I was in the service when he preached it. The moment came when I realized this is one of last sermons we heard before we left the village. As a matter of fact, I am 90% sure that this is the last sermon we heard him preach before we left. He was addressing Eccl 7:6 "For like the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool. This is also vanity. " He was talking about how pride is the most destructive force in the universe. In pride we look at ourselves on fire and laugh and pretend like we are not burning up. The church runs around wreaking of smoke and pretending like everything is okay. Marriages fall apart b/c instead of screaming help we are on fire as things get bad, we hide it and laugh and pretend like everything is okay. We struggle with debilitating sin, addictions or wounds that cause us to hemorrhage the life out of ourselves, but instead of screaming HELP!! I am on fire and burning to death, we put on a face and pretend all is well partially b/c we assume we must be the only ones who are on fire and so we can't open up and ask for help. The "church" instead of being a burn unit, like it was originally, where fire is put out, bandages are applied and healing happens, has become a place where we are all completely deformed by the fires we are hiding. We aren't real and we can't help the people who don't know God and are on fire b/c we won't be honest about our fire and get help. Marriages don't fall apart over night; they fall apart as two take one step at time away from each other and refuse to acknowledge the reality that things are not going well and that the marriage desperately needs help. We don't get trapped in deep sin or addiction over night, we slowly choose to give more control to whatever, and the more we hide it the tighter the grip it has on us becomes.

The reason this was so striking to me was the place we were at back then and what we would walk through over the 2 years after we left the Village. We really were on fire. We went through a really, really dark period in our lives and in our marriage after we left the Village. Things got very dark and very desert like. I do believe that God brought us to the desert to pound some things out in us (especially in me), to get rid of some religious baggage I was still carrying and to reveal some really bad stuff buried in the basement of my soul. It was a necessary part of my walk and I am grateful for it. Anyone watching from the outside would have seen us as "back slidden" and I guess in a sense that was true, but I was also still totally in love with God and crying out to Him daily. We were kind of smoking (figuratively speaking) when we left, but we would erupt into full blown flames shortly after. Over those two or three years after leaving, I really got kind of lost. I got lost in the world of makeup and hair; I got lost in pursuing "success", "money", "things". I became completely consumed with becoming "something" so I could prove I was worth something. Larry and I went through about a year and half or 2 years that we pretty much just coexisted in the same house. We were cold and not really happy. We didn't talk about divorce or anything like that, but my heart was very far from him. It is probably only God's grace that I didn't have an affair, b/c I think I was dangerously capable at that point. I would begin to really battle alcoholism at the latter part of that couple years. I loved God, but I did not love His church. I had become so disillusioned. Part of that may have been things people did, but the bigger part of that was that I felt completely isolated and alone b/c I was hiding so much of myself. I was trying to be the person I had forced and molded myself to be instead of letting God define me, tell me who I was and allow me to embrace the me He intended when He created me. I was so protected internally and so with drawn emotionally from everyone. I did not know how to have a truly open, not dispensable relationship. So my disillusionment had more to do me hiding and feeling totally disconnected than it had to do with anything Christians did. We would go through a long season of being even more isolated, having friends that did not have the moral or spiritual beliefs we did, being so so dry. As I said, it was such a good season for us. It was difficult, but when I did come back around to knowing that we really needed to be in a church where we were accountable, being taught and trying to build authentic relationships, I came back a different person. So much of the really religious, somewhat legalistic, proud, and self righteous ideas had been stripped away. I reached the place where I didn't want to hide anymore. I wanted to lay out the truth of who I was and what I struggle with on the table knowing that the one's who couldn't take it weren't true friends and the one's that chose to be in relationship with me anyway were the kind of friends God wanted me to have. So actually, the fire was good for us. It was purging; it was destructive only to those things that were corruptible, but it worked an eternal weight of glory, it left the true faith purified by fire that God wants us to have. God led us into the desert and let the smoldering sinfulness of our flesh erupt into purgatory flames of purification. We came out of that desert place ready to move forward with less baggage, less secrets, and a desire to do whatever was necessary to go where God was calling us so we could do the works He prepared beforehand for us to do.

It was just such a surreal experience to hear that message 4 years later almost exactly and look back at where we walked soon after and where we are now. I had no idea sitting in that church what was in store for us over the next few years. I also had no hope or inkling that I could be as healed and free as I am at this point in my life. I know that He is no where near finished with me either. I will look back in 2 years and think boy I thought I was healed back then, look at where I am now. I feel like my whole walk has been such an amazing and wonderful adventure. It has been such a beautiful picture of His grace and redemption. Parts of me that I despaired could ever be whole are so beautifully restored. God is a great and amazing God. He has been so so so good to me. I could never enumerate or even realize how great His grace has been to me and how much he has done in my life. I have no idea how many times He snatched me from death's grip b/c He wasn't through with me. If I were to praise and thank Him every minute of every day for the rest of my life it would not be enough. He is so great and His grace so so much greater than we can comprehend. To know that He chooses to let me be a part of His plan and see how blessed I am, is so overwhelming to me. He is good!!! I stand in awe of the fact the He made me exactly how He wanted me to be and that I have arrived at a place in my life that I like me and appreciate who I am in Him is awesome to me.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Questioning the Norm

I have been struck so many times lately with the oddity of our way of life. I have to know if the way our society ever strikes anyone else as odd. Surely I am not the only one who stops to question what we call "normal". I know that most people just take for granted that the way things are is just how they are. I cannot look at things and practices and not question. Maybe it is the influence of the mountains of books I have read and the hours of documentaries I have watched. I do acknowledge that I am kind of an odd bird. I don't really enjoy reading fiction. I do like a good movie, but I am much more inclined to watch a couple of good documentaries. I am not so much interested in historical documentaries either unless they are tied to some current event and used to explain why something is the way it is. I am not interested in history just for the sake of history. I am interested in the path that has lead up to some current event. I have some friends that think it is really quite strange. When I asked my husband about it, he said, "It really pretty much matches your temperament and way of thinking." I am a very literal and concrete individual. I want to know what the benefit of something is before I will consider it. For example, I am not inclined to take a day of rest just for the sake of taking a day of rest. I have, however, begun to take one b/c it makes me more productive and able to function better during the rest of the days. Increased productivity and efficiency is a good reason to take a day to rest.
Anyway, so my husband and I took a day to hang out yesterday for his birthday. We ate lunch, saw a movie and walked around the mall. As we walked around the mall which was incredibly packed with people, I was just struck with how odd our lifestyle in America is. If we take the "norm" out of the framework of "America", it is odd. How strange is it that we have buildings that are blocks long full of rows and rows of things to buy. There is store after store of merchandise competing for our our dollar. Generally, we don't make or produce anything. We go into a store and buy off the rack one of dozens of the exact same versions of shirts, skirts, pants, shoes, whatever. We have lost the sense of accomplishment of making something with our hands. We don't exercise the creativity that God breathed into us when He created us. Our whole economy is built on getting the consumer to consume. It is all about getting my dollar from me. If we don't spend, we go into a recession. Millions of people have a job that is totally motivated by getting the consumer to spend. They don't make anything, repair anything, grow anything. Their sole responsibility is selling. Eventually this has to lead to an economic collapse. Surely we cannot continue to function in this manner. And the producers of products have to keep us thinking that we must have these things or we won't spend money. If there were to be a shift in giving to those in need, funneling the resources to those who really need them, it would cause a collapse. If we wake up and start seeing that we don't need the newest gadget or this seasons clothing as bad as the orphans in Africa need to be cared for, or the widows need food, or the slaves need us to fight for their freedom, or the millions who have no access to clean water need water, then what would happen. The country goes into a recession and we lose our jobs, then we have no resources. It's like this huge never ending cycle of the "haves" consuming and the "have nots" continuing to suffer. Maybe we need a total economic collapse so we can start over and try it differently. Greed, covetousness and idol worship riddle our land. We don't bow to golden calves anymore; we bow to Apple, Coach, MAC, Prada, "big house", nice car..... we bow to the God of self. We grab at whatever we desire with no thought about what we really need and how we could use our excess to impact the desperate and dying. We consume and consume and consume. Everything we buy is individually packaged for convenience. So we throw billions of pounds of waste into the world so we don't have to work quite as hard to feed ourselves. We use billions of gallons a year at water parks so we can be entertained. We use who knows how much electricity at theme parks, movie theaters, bars, and gaming venues. Why? So we can be entertained. So we can keep ourselves from thinking about the emptiness inside of us. So we don't have time to stop and think about the fact that we are chasing a vapor that we will never be able to get our hands on. We don't want to question the way we live or whether we should be a little less extravagant so that we could use the resources God has given us a little wiser. I have not even touched on the fact that the rows and rows of products on display for us to buy are made elsewhere in the world and shipped in for us to buy. And to make that even worse those laborers who produce the merchandise do not even really benefit from the production. If they get paid at all, it is not a fair wage. Many times our merchandise is being manufactured using slave labor, but we don't want to know that. As long as we don't ask where it comes from, then we don't have to feel guilty for the part we play in the whole mess.
I am sorry if this was not a chipper or easy post to read, but I cannot keep quiet any more. It blows my mind to really think about how we operate and further blows my mind that so few people even stop to question or see it as odd. We don't grow our food anymore, we go to the store where rows and rows of packages food competes for our dollar. There are men and women who are paid huge salaries to develop marketing strategies to get us to buy certain products. They are using the same techniques that the serpent used on Eve. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. Read it 1 John 2:16

For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. (New King James)

1Jonn 2:15-17
Don't love the world's ways. Don't love the world's goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. (the Message)

Genesis 3:6 (New King James)
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

Just a little extra food for thought when you are being marketed to. Remember where it comes from. They have learned from the father of lies himself. He was the first marketing agent.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Waiting for God

I love God with all my heart and desire to serve Him faithfully; I do not, however, long for His coming. That is the honest truth. I strive to be honest and not put on pretense about my struggle or how I really am. So I have never felt a longing like I just wanted Him to come back. I know the famous Paulian scriptures, "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain," and others. I just could not honestly say that my heart was longing for His return. I want to walk with Him and talk with Him; I want to follow Him, but there is much work to do here on the earth. I have heard people saying they long for His return. It just always seemed like some sort of suicidal discontentment with life. Romans says that creation eagerly awaits the revealing of the sons of God, and groans to be delivered from the bondage of corruption. So I do long to see creation delivered from the bondage of sin and long to see the restoration of God's original perfection. I don't sit and groan for Him to come back. I usually don't really get the people who say they do. There are so many lost still in the world. I am not ready to leave yet, b/c I feel like there is work for me to do and more preparation needed to get me ready to do more work. I have children to raise, things to learn and I want to continue to be changed into His image b/c I sure have not arrived at the place where I resemble Christ.

That being said, now I get to my point.

I am a documentary junky. I am totally a dork about it. I watch them and watch them. I find them far more entertaining than regular movies. I like to learn and see other perspectives. I also like to be reminded of the evil and suffering in the world. It is so easy to close a deaf ear to suffering in our society b/c we are so blessed. We forget the so many in the world are desperately poor and oppressed. I feel like if I keep it fresh in my mind that, hopefully, it will influence decisions I make and effect how I spend my money. I watched a couple of really good ones in the last couple weeks that impacted me. I watched "The End of Poverty," and "Blue God: The World Water Wars." I was so sad and angry to see how our lifestyles feed into the poverty of the world. I was angry about big industry and how they get to operate without having to answer for the evil practices the continue in. The thought that a huge water conglomerate can make agreements with a government and buy a water source then charge so much for the water that the poor cannot afford to buy it sickens me. I also felt so helpless to do anything about the evils that I continue to remind myself are in the world. What can I do against a huge water monster to help give water back to the people who should have ownership of it anyway? What can I do to fight the agricultural practices that keep the poor in other countries from being able to feed themselves.

As I walked into church last week pondering these things and the apparent lack of solutions, I was struck for the first time in my walk with a longing for the return of Christ. I do not have an answer for the water crisis or the evil of extreme poverty, but when He comes back there will be no more water crisis, food crisis, or any suffering. I felt a longing to end the suffering. I do not suffer. I do not long for His return so that my situation will change. I did long for Him to come and end the suffering of so many who are totally powerless to make their situations better. I long for them to no longer be hungry and thirsty. I can do what I can for it, but what I have to offer is so small and can only impact such a small little corner of the problem. He, on the other hand, can end it all and bring peace, perfection, beauty and restoration. So, in my heart, I do long for Him to come and set things right, to fight for those who are oppressed and enslaved.

I don't know if I even articulated this in a manner which can be understood, but here it is. Thanks for reading.