Category Archives: What Do You Think?

Here’s to Good Health!–Chapter 2 (Part 2)

Ten years after I was first diagnosed with RA, everything shifted again. The RA came back with a vengeance. This time, three fingers, not just one became swollen and pain was extending into my wrists. My hips and knees hurt so bad, climbing the stairs in my apartment became a chore. My hands became so weak, I could barely turn a door knob and I learned to carry grocery bags hanging on my arms instead of in my hands. Getting up in the morning was slow. Once I got up and around, it seemed to ease, but those first moments were tough. I couldn’t lift my legs to the side more than 30 percent and I was in constant pain. I was eating over the counter NSAIDs like they were candy. I felt drained all the time. It got so bad at one point, I ended up in the emergency room because I could not open or close my hands. They were frozen in a relaxed curve position. They couldn’t find anything wrong with the structure of my hands and gave no real answers. I was given pain meds and told to see my doctor. I couldn’t process it and I was scared.

I had prayed. I had fasted. I had enlisted every prayer warrior I knew and anyone who would pick up a phone through prayer ministries. I trusted God. I moved when he said move. I studied every day to show myself approved. I spoke healing into myself daily. I was sowing seed. I had changed. According to what I understood of scripture, I was doing it. So many questions. With every level of understanding came even more endless questions and lack of understanding. Why??? And with no family history. Why???

I went to a naturopathic doctor. In his most valiant attempt to help me, I was placed on methotrexate, in addition to supplements that were deemed necessary to bring my body into balance. What happened next sent me spirally into depression. My hair started falling out. Every time I combed it. Every time I washed it. Hair fell out by the handfuls. I was ready to go off the grid. I know, I know. Bald is beautiful and some people pull it off just fine. I was not one of those people. A woman’s hair is her crown and I demanded mine be given back to me. On top of that, all the tests results showed I was malnourished and deficient in many vital nutrients my body needed to heal and be healthy—my body was not absorbing the extra supplementation I was taking. Trips to the doctors and question after question brought no discernable breakthroughs. Was I really willing to risk my health for the sake of hair?? My heart sank and I stayed in the throne room seeking answers and cure. I was more than overwhelmed.

I looked into wigs, hair toppers and clip-on extensions and gained a real education regarding the world of hair, but everything I looked into didn’t look natural to me—it wasn’t my hair. Through friends, I was referred to an angel who told me about natural hair extensions. I took a deep breath and took the plunge. After about five hours, and a lot of pain, she was done. I looked in the mirror and couldn’t believe my eyes. I had hair—full, thick hair. I also had a lot of metal brads all over my head that hurt like heck, but I had hair! Joyful jubilation does not describe how I felt. I was told I could keep them about six months and then I would have to have them taken out. The hope was that my hair would grow back during this time and no one would be the wiser.

Zeal. That’s what I needed. Zeal in my life. I’m not talking about the need of passion for living, I’m talking about a powder you mix with your favorite drink. It provides all your daily vitamins plus loaded with antioxidants and is absorbed in your body 100 percent. The best part—it is made from all whole foods. No chemicals. The Lord told me, “Do it.” I quickly responded to the Lord with, “No. I don’t want to do it.” I was working on my third year of school of ministry, the ordination level, and I walked through my living room explaining to the Lord how I realized how long it took for me to get to this point and I wasn’t going to allow anything to hinder my accomplishing this that he had called me to do. Besides, I had been in other self-employment marketing adventures and I knew how much work was involved in making it work, and I simply didn’t have much extra time. So, I stood on my “No,” being sure I was making the right choice. Sigh…

The Lord didn’t give up. He said, “Try it.” So, I ordered a month’s supply. Wow. It actually tasted good. For the first time in almost two years, I could actually get through my day without feeling like I would fall out. So, I did it. You know, the thing the Lord told me to do when he said “Do it.” I signed up.

A few months later, right after I finished the school of ministry, I awoke to an amazing discovery. I was able to get out of bed with ease of movement. I could stand up without having to push myself out of bed. I was walking around without pain. I had begun to open doors without any hindrance and just to make sure I was actually experiencing the miracle my mind wanted so desperately to believe, I lay down on the floor and started to do leg lifts. I could actually do it. I was finally able to lift my legs with full range of motion. I began dancing before the Lord. I had indeed experienced a miracle and I wanted the world to know just how much zeal this Zeal gave me. I was also finally able to shed a few extra pounds that had accumulated due to my inability to exercise. Prior to this, my body would not absorb everything I had tried in order to obtain good health. But my body absorbed the Zeal and with amazing results. I’m so glad I listened to the Lord and “did it.”

Then the Lord spoke to me again and told me leave the course of treatment I was on and go to a different doctor, a rheumatologist, who came highly recommended. I stayed on the methotrexate for a little while longer, while some of the other medications were discontinued. My hair was still not growing. Then, there was another shift. My hands and knees started aching again. The methotrexate wasn’t working. But, this time I knew I was where I needed to be. My doctor recommended Humira. As it was presented to me, it would not only stop the progression, it was showing evidence of reversing the disease process. But, it was yet another very strong immunosuppressant. So many variables. So many unknowns, but I was ready.

Gradually, I could tell a major difference in my symptoms. The flareups had slowed greatly. The more I talked with this doctor, the more he confirmed what my journey of discovery had revealed to me. He confirmed medical science had proven celiac disease can cause RA. I told him I had been on a strict gluten free diet for about five years at that point. (For those who are sensitive, gluten becomes undigestable and causes an erosion in the lining of the gut. After some time, this can lead to what is called leaky gut. When this happens, the body does not absorb nutrients and the doors are wide open for disease. Interestingly, as in my case, your body knows you’re sensitive before you do.) I was sure I was on my way to the cure. I was able to discuss each symptom with him and he didn’t brush it off or make me feel as if I was unable to grasp the vastness of the disease process or the necessity for compliance with the proper treatment suggestions. After two years of struggling, the lab tests were coming back with better values and my hair actually started growing back some. It is not yet fully restored, but at least now I don’t have to wear extensions to look like I have a full covering of hair.

There was still one thing I had not fully grasped. Why did the knuckles on my hands become inflamed every time I ate something with moderate carbs or every time I ate a few nuts?? Every. Time.

The search continued. I had tweaked my diet to mostly vegan, only some meat occasionally, and vegetables. I had even stopped eating bread for the most part and if I indulged in a “treat” I made sure it was sugar free and gluten free. Okay, I’d be lying if I said I never ate anything with sugar, but it was rare. Then it happened. Everything seemed to fall in line with clarity and understanding.

I ate one fruit juice gummy bear. I do mean only one. Not two or three, just one single yummy gummy. Immediately, my wrists and the palm of my right hand began to itch. Too incredible for words. This also happened when I drank my organic whole foods vegan protein powder with rice protein base. Something was very wrong. “What’s going on now, Lord?” I knew I had developed a wheat allergy due to the instant swelling of my tongue, tingling in my lips and nasal congestion. Had I now become allergic to everything I eat?? I was not a happy camper and being on this rollercoaster was making my heart sick.

I did what I learned to do. I began to fast and pray. I had to get to the bottom of what was going on. No matter the questions I asked or the research I was doing, I was not coming to the end of this.

The Lord, so lovingly, reminded me of the years that have gone by and how he told me not to eat corn, white starches, wheat, sugar and with precise clarity told me not to eat more than the equivalent of two pieces of fruit in sugar containing foods on a daily basis. Any more than this would not be healthy for me. These all represent carbohydrates. (Watch out! Sugar free does not always mean carb free. Read and understand food labels.) All of which cause inflammation in the body (increased inflammation sets the stage for disease.) The Lord then led me to look back through my medical records. I finally found it. I had allergy testing done about 15 years earlier (three years before I was diagnosed with RA) and low and behold, it showed I was highly allergic to candida. Candida. Unreal. I didn’t even know what candida was until a few years ago. The sugar effect that carbohydrates produce in your body feed the gut fungus called candida. Wow.

Basically, by God’s grand design, my body is allergic to the effects of every sugar-causing food known to mankind. I know God has a great sense of humor, but come on now. This is crazy. Seriously?? Obedience is better than sacrifice. Case and point.

Thank you, Lord. Yep.

Autoimmune disease. A compromised immune system. I reasoned, with over 70 percent of our immune system in our gut, there has to be a connection with autoimmune diseases and gut health. The vastness of medical science and God’s knowledge and wisdom is inexhaustible. Thank God for advancements in medical science. I thank God more because of his great love for his children. I thank God even more because of the intimate way he is so personal with each of us. God never leaves us in the dark…if we are willing to listen to him.

Scripture says, “Know that wisdom is for your life and soul; if you find wisdom, then there will be a future and a reward, and your hope and your expectation will not be cut off.” Proverbs 24:14 (AMP). Everything is possible for those willing to believe.

Today, I’ve adopted the Paleo way of eating, and have added a good probiotic and digestive enzymes. For me, it works. No more itching all over.

I think back so long ago when I was first diagnosed. I still refuse to accept a life sentence of debilitation. My journey of discovery with knowledge and understanding will continue until the day I am face to face with my God in heaven. But this I know, no matter what twist or turn may come to me or try to come against me, I know I will never travel the road alone. My God, my father, my confidant, my savior, my redeemer, my healer, my peace, my joy, my righteousness and my best friend who will never leave me or forsake me, even until the end of the age. As long as there is breath in my body, I will serve the Lord. I will go where he tells me to go, when he tells me to go, and to the best of my ability and with great humility serve those to whom he leads me.

Be alert. Be aware. Never give in. Never give up. I’m learning that trust does not always mean we will have a clear explanation given to us. That really wouldn’t be trust, would it? God is my creator, and he knows me best, every cell in my body—best. I will follow him. He is indeed the light and the life in me.

My prayer is that you glean hope from my story. Hope in that God is not distant. God is not complacent. God is not sitting up in heaven waiting for just the right moment to whack you upside the head with his scepter of justice for every little mistake you make. God is good and he does care about us and for us. God does heal us. Sometimes, it is miraculous. Sometimes, it is a process. Either way, God has made provision for us at each pass, connection and interchange. Through it all, God is good. I look forward to the day I will wake up and the tests say “No more RA!” One day there will be a reckoning. I choose to take up arms and take back what has been stolen from me and I do so on behalf of others as well. I choose to hold on to God’s promises for us. I choose to see myself as God sees me, and that is healed of the Lord. I choose to hope and never give up.

May God bless you on your journey.

Here’s To Good Health!–Chapter 2 (Part 1)

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Autoimmune disease. After hours and hours of research over the years, I think I’m only a little closer to understanding autoimmune diseases. An autoimmune disease occurs when something goes wrong in a person’s body and the immune system get its wires crossed and attacks the person’s good cells, thinking they are bad cells. For those who may not know, there is no known cure for an autoimmune disease, and no one knows how it comes to exist. At best, it’s a rollercoaster ride of shifts and uncertainties that can leave a person wondering “What’s next?” There are many autoimmune diseases known today. In my case, “it” (the RA) attacks my joints, mainly in my hands and some in my knees. How do I cope? I’ll start at the beginning.

“It” first came to visit in April of 2004. I woke up one day and found the index finger on my right hand swollen almost double, like a link of sausage. Curious to say the least. I was working at a medical clinic at the time and after a simple blood test, off to a rheumatologist I go. I refused to accept it. I was in a state of denial and I never called it by its name. After a very painful injection and very strong medications, I was set up on quarterly monitoring. And that was it. I was given no hope of a cure. Only treatment in an effort to keep it from advancing and according to my medical records, my identity took on a “new look.”

I kept telling myself, “This can’t be right. Why would God give me the gift of music through my hands and then just take them away?” I searched the Lord deeply for answers and understanding. Eventually, I learned that there is a real spiritual connection to sickness and disease and I didn’t have to accept this disease in my body. But…what was it that caused this “thing” to happen to me? What did I do? What did I not do? Stress is a major contributing factor to the breakdown of good health. Okay. I get it. I went through a lot during the marriage and even afterwards. Get rid of the stress. Yeah. Finding that peace that passed all understanding is not always as easy as saying you walk in peace. It turns out, it has to become a mindset in order to achieve it. At any moment, “things” can happen to get a person stirred up. Peace comes from knowing we do not have to overcome it on our own.

At any rate, I began the process of learning how to rest in the Lord. The Lord said to me, “I have healed you.” I must admit, I grabbed hold of that word for dear life and fully expected to wake up the next morning and it would be gone! After all, I had heard testimony after testimony of how God miraculously healed others, and God does not show favoritism. Right?? Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for me. Not that way.

I sought answers through health forums on the Internet. Information overload does not adequately describe the information floating through the digital world. I finally found a small group who didn’t discuss far-fetched notions but talked in simple to understand terms. “God made our body to heal itself” was the common theme. When what’s in the world attacks, God has made provision for healing and overcoming it. Knowledge is power and I was feeling very strong about now. Quite honestly, my diet was terrible. Oh, and by the way, did I tell you I used to smoke? Yep. That was me. Like a freight train. I was finally able to walk away from them over eight years ago at the time of this writing. That was hard. Nicorette worked like a champ. Looking back, I don’t know how I was able to breathe before! It is true what they say, once you quit, you can’t stand the smell of it. Choking. So grateful to God and for those who prayed me through that journey to becoming smoke-free.

Whole foods. Eating the way Jesus ate when he walked on this earth. In fact, a woman I talked with on the on-line health forum lived by the rule of “If I can’t eat it, it doesn’t go on or in my body.” It sounded magnificent and overwhelming to me. I understood a good, healthy diet. I understood processed foods have had the life processed right out of them. But then came the flood of information about mycotoxins, starchy foods, carbs, good sugar, bad sugar and then the toxicity of gluten. The learning curve was definitely increasing. It seemed simple enough to understand. Bad stuff goes in, bad stuff begins to happen.

The years went by and “it” (the RA) seemed to have disappeared. I had started walking and at one point was walking three miles a day. After about a year, in addition to eating well and no longer smoking, I managed to lose over 100 pounds. I was literally transformed into a new person. I felt better than I had felt in 20 years. I was thrilled! The doctors were wrong, I reasoned within myself. It was a false-positive. The Lord had indeed healed me! Now, on to living life to the fullest!

(To Be Continued)

Here’s to Good Health! Chapter 1

We tend to take so much for granted. Don’t we? When we’re young, we give little thought to what our health will become after time goes by. Youth usually grants us the privilege of freedom of movement, adequate lung capacity, and a strong, regular heartbeat. Seldom do we stop to think we might wake up one day and find everything has changed. What we once thought would last forever—at least until we are well on in our golden years, suddenly proves to be a force to be reckoned with. What went wrong? How did this happen? Why? These are questions we ask, with usually no real answers to satisfy the long rocky road one now faces. My journey to earnestly seeking good health started about 20 years ago.

My daughter and I were adjusting to our new lives unmarried. I was growing in my walk with the Lord and loving our new home with almost 7 acres of undeveloped land. I felt as if it were heaven on earth. At least for the moment.

I loved working on the land. The land was covered with large, tall pine trees and some hardwood. I decided to sell the about 20 tall pine trees, whose height towered to 75 – 80 feet tall, to make a little extra money off the land. I called a man who came highly recommended who used a horse-drawn wagon so as not to tear up the land while cutting down and removing the trees. My contentment was short-lived after being given $5.68 for one tree. I was told the price for trees just wasn’t very high. (I was previously told a tree of that size would sell for about $100.00 a tree for the lumber, after the cost of removal). Oh. No. Uh Uh. Not me. Not on my watch.

Hmmm…well…I guess you could say I got a little twisted. With undaunting resolve, I determined I wasn’t going to stand for profiteering on my land. I decided I’d cut down the trees and burn them myself before I let someone take advantage of me like that. I hired a teenage boy to cut down the unwanted trees and I used a chainsaw to cut the tree into manageable pieces. Then with a lawn tractor and chain, I pulled them to a burn pile. I cut them up into smaller pieces and put them on the fire. This went on for a few weeks. No sweat. My daughter and I had a great time roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Yum. Yum. Hmph.

I loved working on the land. It was great therapy for me. I don’t think I’ve ever before appreciated my dad as much as I did during that time of my life for teaching me how to take care of the land I had been blessed with. Over the course of our first year there, I not only cleared the trees, cleared underbrush, I managed to underpin my doublewide and even built a small deck on the back side of the house (with a little help getting it squared up). Yep. I had a lot of anger issues to work on after the divorce, and the sledge hammer, drill and saw became my battering rams to the future with a hope I was striving to obtain. With every foul reminder of our past life, I applied the necessary equal and opposite force to forge the positive road of our new beginning–one section of land at a time. My next project was to clear out a section in the back woods close to the back yard and make a prayer garden full of blooming flowers and trees and a soft water fall. Sweet hour of prayer. In The Garden. Oh, how sweet the sound.

In the meantime, I put in a large above ground swimming pool for our first summer on the property, with some pleasant side effects for my daughter. My daughter soon found she was pretty popular in the neighborhood, as she was the only kid with a swimming pool and what kid doesn’t like to go swimming in the summertime? Life was looking better all the time.

Winter came and after working so hard, I had achieved fairly good physical condition. I even managed to lose a few unwanted pounds. Since I didn’t want to lose momentum, I sought to start an inside work-out. My daughter was in gymnastics at the time and I bought her a thick, folding gymnastics mat. Our living room was long, so we moved the furniture to one side and began tumbling, cartwheels, jumping jacks and whatever else we could think to do within our new “gym.” We had a lot of fun. It was hardly noticeable we were actually “working out.” Then overnight, life as I knew it would never be the same.

I’ve always led a fairly active lifestyle, although I’ve never trained, or aspired to train as a serious athlete. Nevertheless, I stayed pretty mobile. I enjoyed stretching. It felt great and my body always let me know what needed to move to stay conditioned. Although I’ve never been one to study or explore the art of Yoga, I did love how some of the movements made my body feel—strong and agile. One day, I tried to do a stretch I had regularly done some years before. You lie on your back and lift your legs over your body, as if you are going to touch your head with your toes, only you curl your back and rest your feet on the floor above your head. It stretches almost every muscle in your body and opens up your spine, stretching and relaxing the muscles. Sadly, on this particular day, my body let me know it had been a little too long since I had regularly stretched in this manner and it put too much pressure on my neck. I felt a pop in my neck. There was no instant pain, only a little feeling of stiffness.

I woke up the next morning and I could hardly move. I couldn’t sit up. I had to literally roll out of bed. Upon moving, I felt pain like I had never felt before. I couldn’t lift my left arm and the ring and pinky fingers on my right hand were numb with a lot of tingling going down my arm. What on earth happened? I went to my chiropractor who did everything he could but nothing seemed to help. I had two slipped discs in my neck. The pain was excruciating. I couldn’t find relief with anything I tried. I couldn’t sit—the pain got worse. Standing was difficult, although it was more bearable than sitting. I couldn’t eat much—it was difficult to feed myself, which was actually okay to some extent, as I had lost my appetite. When I went to bed, I had to lie flat of my back and I used a heating pad. In this way, I was at least able to get a few hours of sleep.

The pain and discomfort went on for months. At one point, the muscle spasms got so bad I felt as if my chest wall was caving in. And Oh! How I hated taking medicine! I couldn’t stay doped up on pain meds because I had to drive and go to work, and at home, I had to be alert for my young daughter. I tried every natural approach I could find and solicited every prayer warrior in the area. We are told by the stripes of Jesus we are healed. And yes, we are. I did give in and graciously accepted the relief from the severe pain through mild pain medicines and muscle relaxers at night. Looking back, I wish I would have sought a neurosurgeon immediately. God definitely sustained me on my sick bed.

After four months and continued treatment, my neck finally began to heal enough the pain was not so sharp and eventually I did regain feeling in my hands. Good chiropractors are a God-send. However, my life would never again be the same. I became unable to work on the land I so dearly loved. I was careful with every step I took and prayed more earnestly than ever before that nothing would slip out of place again and praising God for my healing—without the need of surgery.

It seemed this was the beginning of another great era of life crumbling around me. It was soon after this I became engaged to a man by whom I got pregnant. And, you know the rest of that story.

Time went on and I learned to adjust to life being not quite so active. I finally finished school and was looking forward to the bright future ahead of me. A new job at a multi-specialty clinic with good salary and benefits, all the while doing what I trained to do in medical transcription, as well as doing what I love the most—serving as the church pianist and working with the worship pastor in the music department.

With no explanation and no warning, I woke up on a Sunday morning seven years after the accident that caused two slipped discs in my neck and once again, I could hardly move. My left arm felt like I was swinging dead weight at my side. My right arm was tingling with numbness in my fingers again. Flashbacks of seven years earlier flooded my memories. I went to church and barely made it through the song service with the piano.

The next day, I was at my doctor’s office. With one x-ray, she immediately set me up with an appointment with a top neurosurgeon and highly recommended by her. Next stop—an MRI. When the MRI was completed, the technician asked me, “What happened to your neck?” I explained to her my story and she simply shook her head. I asked her to tell me what she saw, but of course, she was not allowed to do so. So, I awaited my neurosurgeon’s appointment.

My doctor took me into the viewing room and showed me my neck on the MRI. It looked as if there were two rubberbands wound tightly around my spinal cord in two places. In both places, I could see gross narrowing of my spinal cord. He said, “It’s not good.” Ankylosing spondylosis is what it was called. Basically, arthritis set up in two of the vertebrae and my spinal cord was severely impinged. I know God is my healer. I considered it a miracle I was walking. I was scheduled for surgery, but it would be two months before there was an opening in his schedule. Since he was rated one of the best, I trusted God and waited—with caution and an assortment of muscle relaxers and mild pain meds, I waited.

The year was 2004. That year proved to be a challenging year to say the least. Soon after neck surgery was scheduled, I developed another abnormal symptom. The index finger on my right hand became swollen like a sausage. I could hardly bend my finger and it was difficult to type. Yet, I was determined nothing else was going to go wrong with me. Again, I saw my doctor, who immediately referred me to a rheumatologist. Indeed, I was learning a great deal about disease processes and the human body, but perhaps I was in denial. Why did I need to see a rheumatologist?? One look at my finger and a couple of blood tests, and the doctor said, “You have rheumatoid arthritis (RA).” I was only 40 years old. I was in shock. The only thing I knew about this disease is that a person with it would become crippled. You can’t walk. You can’t use your hands. You end up in a wheelchair for the rest of your life and I wasn’t going to have any part of it! I immediately began declaring healing scriptures and let the devil know in short order that God gave me my hands to bring him glory playing the piano and I was going to continue to do just that. I would not give in to this! I refused to have “rheumatism” as old timers would say. It wasn’t mine and I demanded it leave me. That devil done been tryin’ to kill me!!

I had what would be my first injection to my finger (very painful), after which I vowed I would get to the bottom of why this decided to invade my body. I searched genetic reasons. There is no family history of this disease in my family—as far back as four generations that I know of. We might get some osteoarthritis when we get older but we do not have rheumatoid! In the meantime, I was placed on very strong medications that would diminish the effects of RA but would not provide a cure. Plus, it could adversely affect your eyesight. Ugh. And on top of that, I would be having neck surgery in a matter of only a few weeks. All of this on the back of me struggling with digestive issues for almost three years. Ugh. Umph. I was determined I was not giving in to any of this.

Finally, the day had come. June 28, 2004. Time for neck surgery. They would replace the two vertebrae in my neck with cadaver bones and fuse them in place. Thank God I would not become prey for a metal magnet! Healing was slow and painful. At least I was able to go to my mother’s home to recover. There, we had plenty of room for the kids to play and we were close to family for the help we needed. The quietness of the country was what I needed to relax so my body could heal.

God is good and does not withhold good from us. Even so, the choices we make leave a footprint on our lives and the lives of those around us. I have since learned that in our best efforts, we can, by no real fault of our own, really miss the right way to go. I was so fortunate. I was so blessed and protected by God to not have suffered anything worse than I did. I still exercise and stretch regularly. I still have to be cautious with my choice activities and use wisdom. I refuse to give in to defeat, but I will always know God kept me, sustained me and healed me. Now, I go forward using more guided wisdom. God is truly, my best friend.

One down. One to go. Now…about the RA? That’s a story that begins another chapter of my journey of grace, healing and recovery.

He’s Just a Boy!

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. James 1:12.

I’ve always encouraged my kids to always try as hard as they could to achieve their dreams and goals. I never put limitations on them or allowed excuses for anything to keep them from working towards what they wanted. My son was no exception.

My son, although unique in so many, many ways, was always a predominantly obedient little boy. When he was six years old, I had to leave for a few hours so I could visit a sick family member who was in ICU. So, I left him in the care of my daughter, who truthfully would have much rather been hanging out with her friends. In an attempt to keep peace between the two, I gave my son strict instructions to stay in his room and play with his toys or watch his videos until I got back, unless he needed a drink or use the bathroom and do not harass his sister.

Much to my surprise, when I got home, my son was still in his room. I opened up to the door to his smiling face and “Hi mom!” Confirmed by my daughter, he did exactly what I asked him to do. Amazing. This is pretty much the way he was most of the time, with rare exception. What I asked him to do, he would do. We were truly buddies.

When my son was eight years old, we moved in with my mother to help care for her and her property after she experienced health issues related to having heart trouble. He was so excited. He now had two acres of uncharted territory to explore and conquer.

Living in the country in Arkansas, most people were involved in hunting to some degree, whether it be gun, bow or muzzle loading season, hunting squirrel, rabbit, or deer, among others. When my son turned 10 years old, his uncle (my brother-in-law) thought it was time for my son to move into the ranks of being a “hunter.” So, unbeknownst to me, my son was presented with his first BB gun. Yep. A Red Rider, just like Ralphie in A Christmas Story. My son’s eyes almost bugged out of his head and he couldn’t stop jumping with excitement. His first gun! Of course, my first thought was “He’s not old enough.” My opinion was quickly outnumbered, even by my mother who cited my brother got his first BB gun when he was 8. Oh my.

Of course, he wasn’t allowed to be outside with it by himself. He had to be taught how to shoot it safely. I would take him behind the old shed and we would line up coke cans as targets. Actually, he became a pretty good shot. I was impressed. When we were finished, he had to put it up properly, neatly in the closet, until the next time he was allowed to take it out again. Strict rules were given that he was never to come outside with this gun without supervision, to which he agreed.

The next Sunday, after we got home from church, my mother and I left my son in the living room to watch TV while we went to take our regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon nap. After an hour, I got up to find my son watching TV. A few hours later, my mother walked through the room and said she was going to town to pick up something for supper. A few minutes later I heard my mother shouting and went out into the carport to see what was going on.

I was shocked. Speechless. The back glass of her PT Cruiser was gone. Shattered. She shouted at my son to “Get out here!” You gotta understand something about my mother. She is generally a pretty calm person. It really takes a lot to get her upset to the point she’s yelling. So, when she begins to shout obscenities, you know she’s just plain MAD! I must admit, I had lived with my mom long enough to see the pattern of whenever something went wrong, she naturally assumed my son had something to do with it. And so…

My son slowly opened the door and stood on the steps. I asked him if he broke the window. To my grief, hesitantly, he admitted to it but insisted it was an accident. I asked him what he did. He said he was trying to kill the bird sitting on the edge of the carport roof. I must admit. He had to miss pretty big to kill the back glass of my mother’s car. I was boiling. My mother at this point was spit-sputtering. I asked him what he threw trying to kill the bird. He said he didn’t throw anything. By now, I was losing patience. “Then what were you doing??” Sheepishly, my son answered, “I was trying to shoot him.” “Shoot him??” I asked. Then it all came together. “Never mind,” I said. I went to the closet to look at the gun and saw he had not put away properly. Guilty as charged.

My mother didn’t say another word. She walked past us and went to her room. Where she stayed for three days. Not saying a word. Not coming out when we were at home. Nothing. I must admit this was a lot. It was much worse than the time my son ran a knife across the felt on her pool table “just to see what would happen.” No. She handled that much better. She didn’t even get this mad when my daughter (17 at the time) thought she would sit my son in her lap and teach him to steer a car down my mother’s long driveway but then couldn’t navigate the foot pedals to stop before she ran into the back of my mother’s car, breaking the taillight lens. Uh-uh. No.

What was my son thinking?? I gave my son the same instructions I had always given him when I got ready to take my Sunday afternoon nap. I expected the same obedient response he had consistently given me. But not this day. The temptation was just too great for him to resist. I taped the back of my mother’s car until we could get it fixed. I called my brother-in-law and insisted he come pick up the BB gun. My son was in tears. He said he was so sorry and promised it wouldn’t happen again. I agreed. It would NEVER happen again. My brother-in-law said, “He’s just a boy.” True. But not much consolation at this point.

Eventually, things settled and now my mother can even smile when she recalls the story, but she’s quit to add she wanted to “ring his neck.” But as love would have it, she still calls him “brat,” and he still calls her “old coot.” Yep. All is well once again.

Temptation will always give us an opportunity to walk to the right or left of the center line of obedience. God’s desire is that we obey his commands, for our own good—even when we think the rules are too strict, ridiculous or otherwise not necessary. I’m so glad the back glass on my mother’s car was the only thing that was damaged that day. My son certainly was not trying to hurt anything or do harm (glad the bird got away.) Even so, as my son learned, the rules were put into place for his own good and for the good of others. There is no temptation too great God does not give us the ability to overcome it. We do, however, have to be willing to stand against the temptation when it comes.

God says….”The battle is mine!”

The Holy Spirit spoke to me so clearly today, “Pray, even when it seems like you’re out numbered.”

Could something so simple make a difference?

That word was so profound and so timely. He reminded me of the story of Jehoshaphat who was the king of Judah. He made unhealthy alliances, which was not God’s choice for him. He thought he was doing a good thing, but it turns out it wasn’t. He thought those alliances could help protect him from enemy attack, but he instead ended up going through great attacks from the enemy because of it.

Jehoshaphat turned away from this alliance and began once again to rely completely on God and trust him with the decisions and choices he made.

Sometime later, a vast army set out to attack the nation of Judah. Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord. Through a prophet, The Lord told Jehoshaphat, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but belongs to God.” Jehoshaphat was given further instructions to go out and face the enemy and that the Lord would be with him.

The next morning Jehoshaphat encouraged his people and said, “have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” They began to sing praises to God. As they began to sing in praise, the Lord sent ambushes against the army and the army was defeated–all without Jehoshaphat or his army having to fight.

This is what the Lord is telling us all. Pray. Talk to God. Rely on him to give you the answers, directions you need. Don’t listen to the voice of doubt or fear. TRUST GOD that HIS WORD will do what He sends it to do–even if it seems like the enemy is gaining ground or if you don’t see the answer right away–and watch God defeat the enemy sent to attack you.

Don’t give up. Don’t give in. The devil is a liar and he’s working overtime on the minds of his people trying to steal your faith and trust in the Lord God Almighty, the one who is all powerful and able to turn things around for good for you!!!