Here are some silly thoughts as I’m processing some pain:
“So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.”
Here are some silly thoughts as I’m processing some pain:
“So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.”
Hi! It’s been a minute.
Well, for those who know, you know I process a lot by writing. And I haven’t been writing, so I don’t think I’ve been processing a lot. It’s been quite the past couple of weeks so I cannot truly imagine all of the things I have been refusing to process.
However, as usual, God arrested me and forced me to stop and to think about everything happening in my life. BUT he forced me to look at it differently. I have been thinking about things, but through this lens of negativity. Everything had bumps, ditches, hurdles, crashes, pitfalls – everything was negative. It was like I couldn’t win!
And I did feel isolated for quite some time. What with my health dragging me down and ministry crumbling to bits – I felt like a failure trying to put out raging forest fires with no knowledge of how and only holding a watering can for help. God did not feel close.
As I read the Word – he sometimes appeared. I read through Genesis and it was fun! But, he was so far away. That was so long ago. Yet, he still made his attributes known. But then I felt like he wasn’t here even still! Who were we to care about! In middle of nowhere Ohio with a bit too much pride and hardly any gifting, with no experience and low IQ’s, with hardly any energy and no insight – who were we to help?? I started feeling like the world was very big and I was very small and stuck in a tiny box – doomed to repeat and repeat and repeat and to burn and burn and burn.
So, it all seemed like it was going to shit in my head. Until this week. I started getting some divine intervention, I would call it.
SO, yeah – I felt stuck and weighed down. Honestly, I still do. But it wouldn’t be walking in faith if it were easy all the time, would it? I feel very fortunate to have opportunities to choose God’s ways instead of my own and despite my feelings. And I feel like God is pushing me forward, not letting me miss anything I’d regret. And I feel he is catching me before I hit the ground, right at the last second, when I’m about to crack my head open – saving me by whispering little truths into my ears to KEEP GOING. That he is there, that he loves me, that life is worth it, that people are worth everything, and to keep seeking him because it is there I will find the peace and joy I am looking for.
I am so blessed to have Jesus in me. I am so blessed to be able to interact with God – a two-way relationship where I sometimes even feel him at work in me, correcting me, encouraging me, loving me, strengthening me and more.
I cannot walk away from the day and say that God was not at work here – he is always! His hands are so obvious. And it’s so funny to think that I have wasted so many recent days on feeling hopeless and despairing. No, life with him is an adventure every step. It DOES NOT feel that way most times, but when I take a step back – there is NO denying it! God is there, he is holding our hands, he knows me, he rejoices in me and he knows where my foot will fall.
I’ve hated my head for many reasons over the years; for what goes on in it and what’s on the outside of it. But here I am, hating it even more for just what it is: a head. Full of pain.
For the past few months now, I’ve been having a lot of pain. It’s really a let-down when you hear the cause so I’ll just say it now: “complex migraine.” Yep. A migraine. Well, it’s not just any old migraine, it’s complex, ya see, just like everything else about me. (HAHA.) I’ve had migraines since high school. The usual – painful, sensitive to light/sound, throbbing, pressure, eye-watering pain… I wish those were the days now. So, this year, I kept getting them – again, then again, then again. Worse & worse & worse. Till one day, it was so bad and so long and so different, I went to the ER. I thought I was having a stroke. My left side went numb, I lost vision in my left eye, words weren’t forming, I was having trouble breathing, and I had such pain everywhere. And the world was spinning around me like I was on a roller coaster. So, to the ER we went for them to tell me nothing.
Weeks go by, and I get into a neurologist. (After my doctor also had no answers.) Even in the waiting room for the neurologist, my hands went numb. But at this point in life, it was a daily thing. My hands went numb and the room spun and my head pounded within itself all day and all night. In the room, he told me about complex migraines. Sounded right. But then, I have some previous health stuff that made it a concern, worried him that one of mine may get “stuck” so that I may have a stroke… So I got on some seizure medication. And that was stupid. I experienced spinning in a whole new way! I couldn’t drive, I was drowsy, a side effect is literally: inability to concentrate. Another one is: panic attacks. But my migraines went away… for two weeks. Only to come back full force while I was teaching my Bible study. So I stopped, sat down, and tried to stop from crying. My lips weren’t forming words. It lasted three days. Sleeping didn’t help… I had my first panic attack and my body was really cold for a really long time. And then I had another one two days later.
So, I have a stuck migraine that could lead to a stroke. What does it mean? When the pain is the hardest and my chest isn’t cooperating, then I think: this could be my last day here. And that’s scary to me. And so sad. Much more sad than I thought I’d be…
So, that’s the purpose of this blog. To confess: if I died tonight, I wouldn’t be OK with it. At all. I wrote a blog a while ago (last time I almost died) about how I WOULD be OK with that. And I would have – back then. Today, life is different. Today, I have much more invested in life. I have a life with my husband and my house. I couldn’t imagine leaving him. I couldn’t imagine leaving my friends. I couldn’t imagine leaving my family. So, I am just NOT OK with dying. God, did you hear that? He knows. And it’s terrifying. It’s challenging my view of God because now I think: will he smite me for controlling this? Since I don’t have enough faith as I thought, will he just take me out for trying to be in control? Why would be trust his work to a fearful, present-life clinging girl?
I’ve invested my life in this life. Is that so wrong? I think, as much as it pains me to say: it is. Oh yes, it is. My favorite verse that I even have tattooed on me, for Christ’s sake, refers to the hope that we have that IS NOT in this life at all! (Romans 5:5) It’s in the life to come. The “celestial city”. The life when I’m no longer flawed Elli, but completed Elli, standing next to my Father, between him and my Jesus, grasping at them, kissing their hands, as they stroke my head, assuring me that finally I can rest and everything is OK, and that peace is here with them. I’m sure laughing at all the stupid things I’ve told them over the years & asked for. Asking all the questions weighing on my heart. And hopefully, oh I hope, hearing the words, “Well done, my good & faithful servant.” That’s where I should be placing my hope. And I’m such a shallow, feelings led, limited thinker that I can’t see past the tragedy. I can’t see that no matter what, Zak will be OK without me – since Jesus will take care of him in my absence. So will my family and my friends. And I’ll get to watch them finish the fight without me, but greet them all with open arms when they are done. It’ll be so cool. Because I’ll get to live with them forever, not just now.
I always say – we get to take people to heaven, that’s it. But now, I’m kind of forced to face that for what it is: do you really believe you’ll be spending eternity with these people? Then why not be able to give them up now? Because they’re not yours. And your life isn’t yours. And God has so much for you – in heaven when you get there, whenever you get there. Just trust him.
Maybe it’s now. Maybe it’s in years. Just trust your Father who has come through on everything for you. He just wants you to trust him.
Anyway, I don’t think I’m going to die tomorrow BUT sometimes I feel like it. The pain hurts and slipping in and out of consciousness uncontrollably is quite scary. However, knowing I have peace in my best friend, my Savior, my comforter, my master, my Lord, my God… It’ll be OK whatever happens. Just thought I’d share this little part of my drama.
“My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!”
A couple of days ago, I finally decided to pull the plug; I deleted Snap chat and Twitter from my phone. (SHOCKING.) I still have Facebook and Instagram. My goal is, in one year, to have deleted all other apps but Facebook. (It just is so useful to communicate with people.) I still allow myself access to Twitter on my laptop and I’m assuming that alone will cut my usage of it by 75%. Why did I do this? I came to the conclusion a while ago that not only was I spending WAY too much time on my phone, I spend MORE time on it than ever before! (My addiction is growing.)
As the months passed, I continued telling myself my phone usage wasn’t that big of a deal. I mean, it’s MY down time. I think it’s fun, relaxing, and refreshing to spend mindless time on my phone. Why not get some down time for my brain? It went on like this for a while until one day I “woke up” from an HOUR session thinking, “Where did the time go? What did I just look at?” I realized I had opened one app, closed it, opened a different one, gone back to the previous one, opened another different one, etc. That was the reality of that hour: over and over again, checking for anything new, anything stimulating, anything to entertain me. And I wasted a whole hour. What did I do? Nothing. I filled my mind with literally nothing.
That’s sad. I am sad that I wasted time. Time that could have been spent with someone, thinking about someone, listening to a teaching, reading a book, studying the Word, actually hanging out with a person… Any number of more productive options! Instead, that hour was spent on social media/email/Pinterest/games/etc. – being mindlessly entertained.
It’s remarkable to see how far technology has gone to draw us in. I look at younger generations and I tremble: do they even know what they’re up against? Do I even understand the extent of our culture’s ability to suck mind power away from people? I can’t begin to imagine the extent, but when I try, and step back to analyze the situation, I am struck by fear. Not only is it social media, but articles, images, songs, TV shows, video games – there are so many things fighting to fill our heads.
The question is – what will we let win the battleground of the mind?
Whatever we choose to fill our heads will rule our life. Whether that is social media, video games, Netflix, online shopping – where we put our focus becomes the most important thing in our lives. Isn’t that scary? If I fill my head with useless shit I will miss opportunities, I will become numb to certain ways of thinking, my critical thinking skills will dull. I have no responses to certain people/situations, I become lazy, more selfish (than usual), heartless, obsessed with material things, wanting immediate pleasure. I’m speaking from experience, here! That is what happens to me when I don’t take the time to train my mind or when I let it run unleashed.
Take a look at these verses. They illustrate the effect our thinking has on our lives:
Are we going to let these things rule and waste our lives? There’s a wonderful book published in the 70s titled “The Christian Use of Emotional Power” wherein the author describes how our thoughts control our feelings which control our actions. This book convinced me that the infantile motto “I can’t control how I feel” is false. You can. Because you CAN control your thoughts. (**For the most part.) I know, every emotional teen girl would punch me for saying that, but it is possible! This truth set me FREE. Of course, it was a struggle and it continues to be a battle, but controlling your thoughts can change your life (see Romans 12 again.)
To my fellow iGen and Millenials, I hope you can also decide to win the fight that is happening to fill your head. You can take control not only in your emotions, but also in what you DO and what you let your mind SEE – you are the gatekeeper for what enters your head and you can police what is going on in there. It is your greatest weapon. Let us not be sucked away, sucked in, then thrown away by the trash we encounter. Rather, let us fill it with truth, with challenges, with gratitude.
Slowly, but surely, you will experience an enormous weight lifted from your mind, the freshness of clear-thinking, and the ability to become more like Christ.
In my experience, this is what you will encounter:
Lastly, the fear I have most for us young, easily distracted, entertainment addicted people is that we’ll have calloused minds unable to be “shrewd as serpents”. With all of the issues piling up around us, on us, and on those we love – we can’t afford to have our minds taken out of the fight…
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
*If you find yourself struggling with phone addiction (yes, I said addiction, ugh) check out these tips. I’ve not only deleted some apps, but turned off notifications and set my phone to gray scale. I think these restrictions are useful and would fall under the self-control point of this journey.
**I acknowledge that there are certain thoughts and feelings we cannot control. These may occur from circumstances outside of us (such as abuse or even spiritual attack.) But for the purpose of this article: I’m talking about selfish things we let our minds think, which many of us think are uncontrolled, but are actually able to be tamed.
P.s. Thank you Zak, Alex & Megan for editing!
Sidewalks, beaches, cliffs & more/
Challenging each other to all out war…
Walking to your houses around the block/
Late night hikes, a scare plan to shock…
Growing up and seeing so much change/
In us, in life, in our group – it can be strange…
We’d stay best friends forever, all of us would/
But I think it’s better that we didn’t, even if we could…
I’m so glad you’re still here today,
I can simply reach out with something to say
& you’d be there for me, like you were for years,
Always ready to laugh or with open ears.
Sometimes, I get sad that we’re so close yet
So far. But I get to watch & smile. Cause we met
& my life was saved because of you –
My childhood, teenage, lifelong crew.
And all the breaking, fighting, laughing, changing we’ve been through –
I can’t wait to look back, recount it, to hold, all of you…
In heaven (of course) when we’re done doing what we’re bred for,
When we’ve finished our race & when we’ve won.
What a year. What – a – year! I look back at 2017 in total shock & awe. WHAT just HAPPENED? First of all – it flew by. My 25th year of life made me feel very old, but very young at the same time. And talk about HILLS and VALLEYS! Oh my… There were SO MANY ups & downs. I can’t believe it! I really, really can’t.
Here are a few highlights (& lowlights?):
David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him. But David found strength in the Lord his God. Then he said to Abiathar the priest, “Bring me the ephod!” So Abiathar brought it. Then David asked the Lord, “Should I chase after this band of raiders? Will I catch them?” And the Lord told him, “Yes, go after them. You will surely recover everything that was taken from you!”
From these verses, even after everything David did, he finally turned to God for STRENGTH & then for GUIDANCE. So, I started doing that. Everyday, I’d pick up the Word & ask God the same two things: 1. Can you please strengthen me w/ your power today? 2. Can you please give my your guidance? (NOT mine, not what I think or how I think it should be… YOURS.) It’s been wonderful.
Here’s a little excited update on what I’ve been reading! A fiction book! AHH – it’s been so fun. Here are my passion-filled thoughts:
Those who know me know my love for fantasy – I’d call it extreme fantasy. Like, I would like to be transported into another world without any trouble getting there, smooth ride with no connecting flights. So, naturally, The Lord of the Rings (LOTR) has been an all-time favorite since I can remember. However, during my college years, I started falling in love with C.S. Lewis’ The Space Trilogy. Well, that changed my mind. As beautiful and explosive as LOTR is, it took precedent.
The Space Trilogy set the bar for books from then on. However, I only read Out of the Silent Planet (the first book) and Perelandra (the second book). I tried reading the third in the series, That Hideous Strength, which sounded so captivating, but could not finish. Those who have read it understand that the first chunk is pretty painful for those of us who aren’t scholars! It’s set in a university – with the a bunch of lofty dialog, theories, and college politics to start. You have to wonder – what is Lewis getting at? Dispersed between these (droning and draining) conversations and people, you meet a more interesting character. She is the wife of one of these sociology professors, Mark, and isn’t apart of the college politics. (Although, she is getting her PhD from the college – Bracton if I haven’t mentioned the name yet.) Her name is Jane. She is young and forward for the time, meaning, she is independent and isn’t all about the structure of lady-hood nor marriage. She seems to tip toward feminism and is definitely a logical thinker – she prides herself in this. I believe you are supposed to think at first highly of Mark Studdock – he seems like a smart, legit, but human person. We quickly know of his downfall, though, as he enters an undefined position with an unseemly organization and becomes obsessed with getting to the top of said organization without really caring what the organization is actually about… which isn’t admirable at all.
During the time Mark is checking out this job – and starting it – with this mysterious organization (ironically named N.I.C.E.) his wife discovers that she is mentally ill – or what she thinks is mental illness. She has reoccurring terrible dreams that feel so real. After telling a friend about these dreams, the friend refers her to a sketchy place – not the therapist she thought she was going to meet. This introduces a new side, the other side, in this story. We have the N.I.C.E. and we have the party at St. Anne’s. (I won’t mention their title for it is more fun to figure it out!) Eventually, without spoiling the details, Jane finds herself at St. Anne’s again to discover deeper secrets of the party assembled there all the while Mark slowly becomes deeply acquainted with the secrets underlying the N.I.C.E. or “the Institute”.
This story is a fantasy, yet too real to be so. The other books in this timeline take you to wild worlds I could never begin to imagine. But this one keeps you on earth – both literally and metaphorically. The reason for writing this little piece is this: the things Lewis describes happening in this fantasy war are things that could happen here, today! (Well, not all the time. Much of it is magic and mystery and history all combined, but the ideas behind it are very, very timely.)
Here are some extremely shocking and thought-provoking points Lewis makes in That Hideous Strength: (Mind you, this book was published in 1945…)
I love tales that hit home themes and ideas that are culturally relevant – as well as themes that deal with spiritual issues and faith. (This is one of the reasons I love LOTR.) This book made me think a lot about how we see these issues here and now.
I’d love to hear from other readers… I’ve been reading threads of analyses from people around the world and throughout time, old and new opinions and it is fascinating. But it’s a wonderful thing to have the best of both worlds – aka: get my fill of fantasy, but also be able to emerge with a greater understanding of reality. That’s why I wrote this little report on what I’ve been reading – to appreciate the just about prophetic analysis Lewis has on humanity and also to show what amazing things we can take out of novels that shed light into humanity.
To Be Found
Who is lost?
Not I! I am found.
So up high, away from the ground
I can’t even see
any near me
I am so found
I can’t hear a sound!
Yet I am alone
with no one, nor home
I have to fight
just to see a light
I think I can go
But I just sink below
I am lost. I need found
But he has come, to gather me up
To give me love, when I can’t get up
To love me (even when no one else does) [bad, elli]
And give me a home no matter what.
Oh, how I long to be found – again, and again, so close to your sound
It picks me up, as I drop down.
Oh Father, don’t ever put me down!
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what is lost.” – Luke 19:10
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Frustration isn’t kindled, it’s explosive
That consumes heatedly emotive
Set off by expectations wildly high
That I myself set, but cannot get by
My heart crumbles when I get to see
How terrible I must really be
I struggle and fight and work so hard
Just to be good enough, but I’m barred
I try and try and try without hope
Oh, will good ever be in my scope?
No, it won’t. I never will.
I’ll always, always, always be ill.
Sometimes I slip,
Or someone slips,
Or life slips,
All the ways –
I end up on the ground.
Maybe not too bad,
Maybe pretty bad,
But to me it seems
I’m stuck on the ground.
And I try everything –
Over & over –
But nothing seems to work.
I’m stuck right here with no help,
Or so it seems to work.
Yet He calls me to listen,
Even from my lowly position
Calling me to look up.
“rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.”