Always, A Noticeable Limp

Yesterday, I went to the doctor. It has been 10 weeks since my second hip replacement surgery. I just turned 52 and have had three hip surgeries in my lifetime. My second surgery was also a hip replacement in December 2015.

hip surgery

For some reason, when I think about what was done to me, I get an ill feeling. I know they used power tools. I know I have two pieces of metal riding on plastic inside of me. I know that my original hips are no longer with me and I know that if I go through a metal detector an alarm will go off. I try not to think about it and to just think about how lucky I am to be able to walk at all.

Having to deal with a hip abnormality most of my life has been difficult. But as I said, I am so glad that I can walk. My doctor told me yesterday that I may always have a , “noticeable limp”. Something I did not want to hear.

My life has been a roller-coaster ride over the past five months.

roller coaster

I had a hip replacement surgery in December 2015. Four days later my brother died from cancer. I graduated from college as an adult learner on May 14th, 2016 and I had my second hip replacement surgery on May 20th, 2016.

At times I wanted to scream, “Why me God? Why did you give me this burden?” Then again I thought, “At least I am alive and able to walk” My brother lost a 10+ year battle with cancer and died at the age of 48.

Why does God throw us these curve balls? These “out of nowhere” moments? I think of my brother everyday and think, “What if he would have lived? Why couldn’t he have been one of the lucky ones and was healed?”

If I would have been alive during Jesus’ lifetime, you can bet that I would have been following him. If there was news of such a person who could heal at the touch of a hand or after putting mud and spit in my eyes, I would have been there. And just like the man lowered through the roof on a mat, I would have had my brother with me saying, “Jesus, heal him”

One of my favorite Bible stories is found in Luke 8:43. The story of the woman who was bleeding for 12 years. I guess I can relate to this story because I have had a physical affliction for a long time too.

woman bleeding

I have often wondered what it must have been like for this woman as she heard that Jesus was coming through her town.

Did she think, “I’ve heard about all of the wondrous miracles this man has done. If he could only heal me”

What made her think to touch his robe as he walked past? Had she heard that with just a touch, healing powers would flow from this man into her body? The Bible does not say. What it does say over and over again is that Jesus uses the word “faith” when addressing the people he has healed. In fact, after this woman touched Jesus’ robe he said, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace” (48 NLT).

In Luke chapter 7, Jesus heals a highly valued slave of a Roman officer (2 NLT).

Roman officer's slave

After the Roman officer addresses Jesus, Jesus says, “I tell you, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel” (9 NLT) and the Roman officer’s slave was healed.

I have had a strong faith in Jesus Christ my entire life. I have tried to live according to God’s laws. I have prayed and prayed for healing for myself and for my brother.

Why did Jesus heal these people centuries ago but he didn’t heal me or my brother?

What is interesting about all of this is that my faith hasn’t been weakened because of these questions, it has been strengthened.

When I returned to college in 2014, one of my reasons was to become strengthened in my faith so I could go through what I thought might be inevitable, the death of my brother. I went to a Christian University and my faith was strengthened. In fact, if I hadn’t done this, I don’t know if I could have made it through these last five months.

The truth will set you freeIn John, chapter 8, Jesus is being grilled by the pharisees. They are questioning him about who he is and who gave him the authority to do the things he has done.

There were everyday people listening in on this conversation. The people who heard believed in Jesus. To this he said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings (31 NLT). And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (32 NLT).

I now know the truth, that God did heal me. He gave me knowledgeable surgeons to put man made titanium hips inside of my body so that I can walk. Jesus also healed my brother of his illness, for he is now with our Father in heaven, out of pain and alive again.

Shortly after my brother’s death I was reading in the book of Isaiah chapter 26 when I read a piece of scripture that jumped out at me. Isaiah 2919

Isaiah 29:19 says, “But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!” (NLT)

Now, I may be reading this verse out of context, but it jumped out at me. It was at that moment I knew that my brother was not dead. That he was alive in Jesus Christ and sits with him in heaven.

So how can I say that Jesus did not answer my prayers and heal me and my brother? I can’t.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). For those who believe in him will have eternal live (John 3:15).

So I guess walking “with a noticeable limp” isn’t the end of the world because I know that one day I will be walking, without a noticeable limp, with Jesus in heaven, holding the hand of my brother.

The Daniel Diet

I grew up on a farm in northeastern Iowa and in the summer we had huge vegetable gardens grown in some of the most fertile soil in the country.

Now that I have moved to Minnesota, where we live on the wrong side of the glacier, I can really appreciate that rich black soil and the delicious vegetables we used to eat.

A few months ago I joined a local CSA (Consumer Supported Agriculture) and now receive delicious, fresh vegetables on a weekly basis.fresh vegetables

It brings back memories of being on the farm and truly “living off the land”.

I am not a vegetarian but can honestly say that I feel better and healthier since I started eating more fresh vegetables.

One day, while unloading my shares box, I was reminded of the story in Daniel chapter one about Daniel and his friends eating only vegetables and water. This has been referred to as “The Daniel Diet”.

http://www.all-creatures.org/discuss/svtdaniel.html

In this Bible story, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged Jerusalem (1:1). The king instructed his men to bring some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families to his service (1:3).

The king instructed his men to select only strong, healthy and good-looking young men (1:4). The king assigned these young men a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens (1:5).

Daniel refused to eat the food given to him saying that it would defile him. He asked the chief of staff permission not to eat these unacceptable foods (1:8).

Daniel refuses food

According to http://www.all-creatures.org, Daniel may not have eaten the kings food because it contained foods not prepared according to religious laws or because the food had been previously offered to idols.

The kings chief of staff was afraid that if Daniel did not eat the food offered to him that the king would become angry and behead him (1:10).

The other fear was that if Daniel had only vegetables and water, he and his companions would become pale and thin (1:10).

Daniel asked that he and his friends be fed a diet of only vegetables and water for ten days. After the ten days Daniel and his friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the kings food (1:15).

Daniel and his friends were then brought before the king and no one impressed him as much as Daniel and his friends (1:19).

Was Daniel one of the world’s first vegetarians? Was he healthier and better nourished that the other young men because of the power that God had given him or because of the food? The Bible does not say. I guess that is left for us to interpret. I believe it was a combination of his diet and God’s power.

I am a true believer in spirit, mind and body.

mind_body_spirit_comp1

I used to get up at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday and work out for an hour. I would eat at least 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and read the Bible on a regular basis.

I still read the Bible on a regular basis but have given up the strict five- a- day vegetable plan and exercise. What happened?

I’m afraid that I have developed some bad habits over the past year or so and need to get back to the basics.

By eating the fresh vegetables from my local CSA I have been reminded of how good I physically and mentally used to feel.

According to a study by the University of Warwick, eating more fruits and vegetables can substantially increase a person’s level of happiness.

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/news/fruit_and_veg/

According to the American Heart Association, regular exercise also leads to a physical and mental “feel good”.

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/StartWalking/Physical-activity-improves-quality-of-life_UCM_307977_Article.jsp#.V5HyLNIrIdU

How do I get myself back on track? I rely on the power that God gives me.

IMG_143824979231144

Isaiah 40:29 reminds me that God gives us the strength to increase our weaknesses, aka, bad habits.

I have vowed to get myself back on track.

To not only eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. To not only read God’s word but also to get plenty of exercise.

The Daniel Diet may not be totally for me. But I believe the lessons we learn from this Bible story can help us lead healthier, happier lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Zucchini Bread & Miracles

It’s that time of the year again, when our gardens are starting to burst forth with the delicious vegetable called zucchini. I received five of these specimens from my local CSA and pored over the recipe books for just the right dish. After looking at recipe after recipe I finally decided upon zucchini bread.

zucchini bread

Oh, how I love this delicious brown bread with the delightful little green flecks inside. I decided to make two loaves because I thought making one was just a waste of time. I was sure that with my family we would probably consume one loaf easily and be wanting for more.

I predicted correctly, however, it was not my family gorging on zucchini bread, it was just me. My family took one look at a slice of this bread with a, “What’s the green stuff” look on their face. I then thought, “Oh well, more for me”.

As I carefully buttered each piece of bread before consuming it I thought, “It would have been nice if the disciples would have had some zucchini bread along with them when they fed the 5,000 or was that the 4,000?

There has always been some question in my mind as to the feeding miracles found in the Bible. Were there actually two different miracles as recorded in Matthew and Mark or did the gospel writers just get their facts wrong?

feeding5000-2

I have heard pastors preach of the feeding of the 5,000 probably 5,000 times over the years but never have I heard them preach about the feeding of the 4,000. Is this done for a reason? Is the feeding of the 4,000 thought to be a lesser miracle?

As I ponder these questions I slice off and butter yet another slice of bread.

The feeding of the 5,000 is mentioned in all four gospels so it must be a very important story. The feeding of the 4,000 is mentioned only in Matthew and Mark.

I find myself fact checking the feeding of the 5,000 and the feeding of the 4,000 as recorded at Bible.org.

https://bible.org/seriespage/25-feeding-4000

I found that there are definite differences in the two miracles. In the feeding of the 5,000 the gospel writers record the people as sitting on the grass. In the feeding of the 4,000, the people sit on the ground. In the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus teaches the Jews. In the feeding of the 4,000, Jesus teaches the Gentiles. In the feeding of the 5,000, there are five loaves and two fish. In the feeding of the 4,000 there are seven loaves and a few fish. In the feeding of the 5,000, twelve baskets remain after everyone is fed. In the feeding of the 4,000, seven baskets remain.

So, as I brush zucchini bread crumbs from the keyboard of my computer and read the interpretation of the Bible.org post,  I conclude that there must have been two different feeding miracles. Each intended to teach about faith but with a second feeding miracle added it also teaches about Jesus being offered for all, not just some.

As I do some further investigation I find that Jesus does indeed include all men when he speaks of salvation. John 1:7 NIV says, “He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe”. Matthew 20:28 NIV says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many“. And of course, the ultimate Bible verse, John 3:16 NIV says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

By this time I alone have consumed most of the first loaf of zucchini bread. I contemplate the consequences of this act. As I sigh and say, “Never again” I am stuffed to the gills with this delicious bread. At the same time I am also filled with the knowledge and grace that is our Lord Jesus Christ that he offers to all. At this I sigh and think, “Isn’t it wonderful to be filled?”

 

 

 

 

The Wolves Under My Bed

It is early in the morning. I awoke because I couldn’t sleep. I often do this and head straight to the Bible for wisdom.

This morning I was reading from the book of Mark and read one of my favorite Bible stories. The healing of the demon possessed man in Mark 5:1-20.

191 - Jesus Drives Out Demons

Jesus traveled with his disciples to the region of the Gerasenes. There he found a man who had been possessed by many demons. The man lived among burial caves and could no longer be restrained by chains. When Jesus asked the man his name he said, “My name is Legion, for we are many”. There were many evil spirits inside of this man, tormenting him day and night. What a horrible existence this man must have endured!

daa1b9c8bade061278e7d01de256a642

When I was a little girl, my bedroom was on the upstairs level of an old farm-house. I was terrified of that room. I had many dreams that there were wolves living inside of the scary closet there.

These wolves also lived under my bed. For that reason I never took off my glasses before going to bed at night. My reasoning was that I wanted to see the wolves when they peeked out from under my bed to get a good look at me.

I also would never dangle my feet over the side of my bed. I believed that if I did the wolves would grab my legs and pull me under, never to be seen or heard from again.

To get out of my bed in the morning I would jump from the end of my bed to the hallway door. That way, I would avoid any conflict with the wolves.

These “wolves” were very real to me. I can still see them in my mind and hear them growling.

The only way I can compare the fear I felt as a child to my present day adult mind is the wolf in the 1984 movie The Neverending Story.

Wolf from the Neverending Story

This wolf’s name was G’mork. If I would have seen this movie as a child I would have been forever scarred.

The first time I saw this movie as an adult all of my childhood fears came tumbling back even though my adult mind told me this wolf was not real.

Just like the man in the Bible story, we all have our demons. For some, they may be wolves under the bed. For others our demons may be battling alcohol or other addictions.

How can we free ourselves from the fear and torment that these demons bring to our lives? Living with a strong faith in Jesus Christ.

As an adult, I still have my fears. I no longer believe wolves live under my bed but I have other things to occupy my mind. Will my family continue to have enough money to live a comfortable life? Will we continue to be healthy and free from harm?

The Bible verse that immediately comes to mind is 1 Peter 5:7 NIV, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”.

28339-cm-1-peter-5-7-social

Whether our anxiety is real or created, God wants us to bring it to him. Just as Jesus cast the demons out of the man in the Bible story in Mark 5, God wants us to free ourselves from anxiety and worry by giving our burdens to him.

Whatever your “wolves” are, stress, alcohol, gambling, pornography, give it to God.

Our personal demons can posses us and prevent us from honoring and serving God properly. Try it. Give God your burdens. You will immediately begin to feel the warmth of his love permeate every part of your body. You will feel a rich, full glow that is the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

What demons posses you? Are there wolves under your bed? Give your fears to God and experience his complete unconditional love for you.