she was desperate for healing

In the book of Matthew we get a whopping two lines about a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years  and she basically sneaks up behind Jesus to touch His cloak, saying to herself that she knew she would be healed if she could just touch that darn cloak!

20 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. 21 She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Matthew 9:20-21
If you do your homework, you will find that this was a HUGE no-no in this day and time.  Leviticus Chapter 15 tells us that she was considered to be ceremonially unclean because she had been bleeding.  This would be like our kids smelling up the bathroom and then coming to the dinner table without washing their hands – but times 100!  It was shocking!  It was outrageous!  It was despicable!

 

Not only that, but in Mark 5:26 we find out that she had literally sold all she had to go to physicians to be healed and yet she was still bleeding.  And not only did she not get better, she actually grew worse. She was DESPERATE, y’all.  Desperate. For. Healing.

 

I’ve been there.  I’ve been to see this doctor and that doctor and rearranged some savings to try this therapy or that therapy.  I wasn’t a societal outcast like this woman though.  I wonder what would be our modern-day equivalent — maybe someone with AIDs or herpes?  A cancer patient who tries chemo but only gets worse and starts to lose control of their bodily functions?

 

If we keep reading in Mark 5:26, we see that she even came up behind Him, like she was scared of Him or ashamed for Him to see her.

 

Then she does it.
She touches his garment.
Now it’s time to flee!

 

But instead, at that very instant He knows and she knows that something has changed. Some kind of exchange has happened.

 

Can you imagine?  Think of your absolute worst day.  You don’t want anyone to see you, but you’re desperate for healing.  You hear that Jesus is coming and you think to yourself “this is my chance, if only I can TOUCH HIS CLOTHES I know that He can heal me!”  So you sneak up behind him, crouching down because you don’t want anyone to see you.  You reach out and you do it.  You actually touch his garment!  And then you know — you can feel it.  YOU ARE HEALED!  But then… the unspeakable happens.  He knows too.  He knows that you touched Him AND He knows that He healed you.  Your cover is blown.

 

Luke 8:45: “WHO TOUCHED ME?,” Jesus asked.
Awwwww man!  Seriously?!?!  This isn’t a drive-thru healing?

 

After each of the disciples all say “not it”, and Peter tries to tell Jesus he is nuts because they are in a CROWD and of course people are touching Him…. she does it.  She finds the courage to tell Him it was her, and she literally does it in front of God and country.

 

Is your heart beating fast?  Mine is.

 

Jesus then assures her that it wasn’t even her touch that healed her.  There was no magic there.  Her faith is what healed her.

 

And so Jesus says in Luke 8:48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
This woman went from unclean and outcast to trembling before Christ to declare her actions in-front of a CROWD of strangers. And then she was healed.  And not only that, but He told her to “go in peace.”

 

What He did for her right then and there, He did for ALL of us when He was on that cross.  While we might not experience drastic and immediate healing physically like she did, we most certainly can experience spiritual healing.  I do.  Every time I call on His name.  And on some days, that is my entire prayer.  “Jesus.”

I’m not afraid of the dark

http://www.diamondgallery.com/diamonds-are-forever/
source: http://www.diamondgallery.com/diamonds-are-forever/

If God granted your biggest wish right now, would it change your faith in Him forever or just sustain you temporarily until you had another wish you wanted fulfilled?

I ask this because at the depths of my angst and the heights of my chronic pain, all I wanted was to be healed.  I thought if God would just heal me, it would change everything for me.

  • My faith would be restored.
  • I could finally make a difference in His kingdom.
  • People would see me and say “wow, God still performs miracles!”
  • I could find reasons to smile again.
  • Nothing would ever hold me back again.
  • I could fill my schedule back up with pool parties, coffee visits, bible study groups, serving here and there and there and there…. if only He would heal me.

But God didn’t heal me.  In fact, I will always have fibromyalgia and arthritis.  I will probably always struggle with some form of depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.  However the journey, in and of itself, has strengthened my faith in God.  I now have some wisdom, some life experience, and some ways to connect to other people.  I never would have had these gifts if God would have healed me the first or the seventeenth time I asked.

I used to live landmark to landmark – waiting to see what was on the horizon and telling myself, “once this thing is past me, I’ll be fine.”  And, “when I get to that next thing, everything will be GREAT!”  And, “when I have a job again, we will be financially secure.”  I was scared of the pressure while I was suffering physically.  I was terrified of the life change.  I felt forgotten, isolated, segregated, removed.  The pressure of not knowing when or if I would feel good again was too much.  I was scared of being in the dark.

I didn’t know how to rely on God.

And when I lived that way (constantly waiting for the next thing), I was essentially covering my ears and rocking back and forth … and shutting out God.  He was trying to whisper to me, and sometimes He would send people to try to speak truth into me.  But I couldn’t hear them because I was too busy making my own plans.  I didn’t even see them because I was too focused on my anticipation of the next thing on the horizon.

Your life is now, not later.

Dont’ wait for the next thing, because you’re going to miss THIS thing.  And believe me when I tell you, there is a lesson to be learned in every situation.  There is joy to be found and there is sorrow to shake your soul.  Just like the Bible says in the book of Ecclesiastes, there really is a time for everything.  Don’t wish away these times like I did.  Because gems are only produced under pressure.  You are a gem to Him.  I am a gem to Him.  Don’t believe for a second that your worth is what this world tells you it is.  DO believe that you ARE a precious gem of the Lord’s.  He formed you.  He made you.  HE PICKED YOU!  You have worth and you have sparkle.

So dont’ be afraid of the dark.

God has the ultimate flashlight. He sees you and He loves you.  He has not forgotten you.  Don’t give up hope in Him.
Look for His light.
Because that’s where you’re going to sparkle.

when worry steals adventure

I can’t do it.
I’m not strong enough.
She’s faster than I am.
They eat healthier than we do.
I have fibromyalgia.
My doctor said I shouldn’t.
It’s too hot.
It’s too windy.
It’s too muggy.
It will hurt.
I don’t have time.
I don’t have anything to wear for that.
I’ll have to wash my hair again if I do that.

All of the excuses above kept me from doing a LOT of things over the past several years.  You might resonnate with some of them, and with others you might just think I’m crazy.  That’s cool.  Sometimes I think you’re crazy. (said in my best 6 year old accusatory voice, because I’m mature like that sometimes)

My husband amazes me with his ability to “Just Do It” on many levels.  He can flip a switch in his head and say “this is what I’m doing” even if he has a list of excuses like mine.  His excuses don’t dictate what he will or will not do.  If I ever decide to grow up, this is a trait I would like to refine in myself.

Today I did something amazing.  I ran.  I also walked fast, but mostly I ran.  To most, this is not a big deal.  I have crazy friends who run marathons… in Texas heat.  #insanerunners  But for ME, this is a big deal.

A year ago today, I was recovering from a night out to see fireworks.  It wasn’t strenuous to watch fireworks, but the entire process of getting myself ready, out the door, to the field, and then sitting in the heat, staying up late, and so on —- that required a day of rest afterward.  My body couldn’t handle that much activity without a large period of rest the following day.

And today I ran.

I wish I could tell you that my “mind over matter” gear is finally un-stuck, and it is … partially, but that’s not what got me running.  I have fibromyalgia and I FINALLY found something that helps me feel good ALL the time, not just for an hour here or there. #workoutpoweredbyplexus  But here’s the interesting part — those excuses are still there when it comes to working out, but now they look like this:

I don’t have time.
Even if I shower after to get to work, I’ll still be sweating.
I’m too fat for my workout clothes (I know — you can laugh at me too)
She’s faster than I am.
They eat healthier than we do.
It’s too hot.
It’s too windy.
It’s too muggy.
I don’t have time.
I’ll have to wash my hair again if I do that.

Interesting isn’t it?  I feel SO great, yet I still have a list of excuses.  This morning I read this:

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? ~ Luke 12:25

My list of excuses are worries.  All of them.  Here’s what I have to say about that:

1075

What is your list of worries?  We all have them.  I have a list for exercise, one for ministry, one for friendships, one for parenting, one for driving…  Sure, the lists can keep me from doing some stupid things – it would not have been WISE for me to run when my pain was at its worst – but I certainly didn’t even try often to go for walks.

The worry stole my adventure.  Today I created adventure and left my list at home.

7.5.14RUN

Go create your adventure today… build something, draw something, make something, call someone, meet a neighbor, exercise, pray for someone out loud. Get your adventure out of worry-jail and …

justdoit

please like me.

Fresh out of college, I was given a killer opportunity.  I was hired by a telecom giant at 22 years old.  I had a great salary, amazing benefits, and opportunities to travel all over the United States.  But I wasn’t that great at my job and after only 2 years with the company, I was laid off.

I had a killer severance package and I told my husband that I wanted to do something fun while that severance supported me. Somewhere in those next three months I shifted from, “I am competent and smart and will do a great job” to “Please like me!”  Oh, Ann.  Yikes.

I got a job at a local craft store where I catered to and assisted a lot of people. It was clear right out of the gates that people liked me.  And DANG that felt good!  After only a month, I was promoted to a management position and I thought things were going really well for this college graduate (who was working retail to hide from the fact that she royally screwed up her opportunity of a lifetime).

But trouble started when I began to notice some inner workings that I didn’t like, and certainly didn’t agree with. But remember I wanted people to like me, so I chose not to ruffle feathers. The talk about customers behind their backs made me feel dirty.

Even more mortifying than hearing the conversations was PARTICIPATING in the conversations, which easily led to conversations about co-workers behind their backs as well. I crossed the line, just to be liked.

I drew the line when I overheard and witnessed conversation about ME.  Funny, isn’t it? It was so easy to participate in the conversation until I knew they were talking about me too.  Only THEN did I draw the line.  At about this time, social media was starting to pop up here and there (no smartphones yet thank the Lord) and I found out that I was being talked about via email and social media mostly because I stood up and said “hey – this isn’t cool – at all.” (However, I’m in my young 20’s at this point and I probably had the complete package of entitlement with a red bow of attitude to go along with my soap box speech.)  Before I knew it, my entire goal to get people to like me turned into a 911 call-to-arms to put out all the social media fires.  I was crushed.  I BAWLED over the phone to my college roommate.

But I thought they liked me!
I thought they liked me.

As the book of Joshua starts, Moses has just passed away and the leadership “torch” has been passed to Joshua.  One of the first few things he has to do is conquer Jericho.  I could have learned a lot from Joshua back in my early days of adulthood.  Joshua didn’t care what everyone else thought, even though he was about to ask them to act a little crazy.

 “Ok guys, we’re going to walk around this sucker once every day – but you can’t say a WORD.  Then on the 7th day, we will walk around this sucker SEVEN times, the priests will blow their horns and we’re going to get crazy up in here with our voices!  I mean, I want to REALLY hear you, people!  Then the walls will fall down and the Lord will make it easy for us to defeat our enemies.  Trust me on this, He personally told me this is how it will go down.” (MAJOR paraphrase of Joshua 6:1-11)

Joshua did what he knew was right, even though he was about to ask for his troops to commit to a crazy battle plan.  He didn’t care if the people didn’t like him.  There was work to be done.

It has taken me years to overcome this people-pleasing problem.  I think I’m fairly close to conquering it, and then I fail miserably again in a single conversation.  But this is what I love about scripture: I’m going to change, but scripture isn’t.  The truths within will still be applicable to me 3 years from now when I’m wondering where I went wrong… again.

Father, fill me with your spirit so that appreciation from people has no room to soak into me.  Bring me back to scripture to see how to live and how not to live.  THANK YOU for believing in me, even though I screw things up over and over again.  That kind of love is inspiring, refreshing, and so very comforting.  Remind me that I don’t need others to like me because you LOVE me more deeply than my mind can understand… and that’s all I need.   AMEN 

 

alittleTOOMUCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often times I feel like I have too much going on in my life — too many hurts, too many stressors, too many things on my list that need to get done, too many errands to run, too many people to call, too many emails to respond to — it all feels like too much.  

And then your typical Christian would tell you to pick up your bible and read God’s Word, or go to church, or a typical Catholic would tell you to pray through the rosary.  And for crying out loud, don’t let anyone see that you’re struggling because — you’re a Christian and you’re supposed to have it all together!  Slap a Christian fish on the back of your car and make us look good!

Really?
Because if that’s the case, then maybe this “Christian” gig isn’t for me.
I NEVER have it all together!

We hear people say things like “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” – but I disagree with that.  I think LIFE will give us a ton more than we can handle, and God is just waiting waiting waiting for us to run to Him and say “Take this!!!! ALL of this!  Calm me down, God because I’m about to completely FREAK OUT over here!”  I don’t believe that God is sitting in the heavens like someone who is getting cream poured into his coffee just waiting to say “woah” when it’s just the right amount.

I think it’s our responsibility to notice when it’s too much for us – and then do something about it.  You know what your too much feels like. Maybe you’re feeling it right now and you’re “escaping” from your too much by scrolling through Twitter or Facebook.  You’re going to the wrong place – I know because I do it too.  (but feel free to finish reading before you close your browser tab!)

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

The Bible overwhelms me – I don’t know where to start on my own.  So instead I go to some of my favorite Christian blogs or read my favorite devotional, or even read another chapter in a book that is helping me grow through some of my personal issues.  (see a list of my favorite resources at the bottom of this post)  When one of those resources touches on a passage in scripture that hits me right between the eyes, THEN I go to my bible and I dig deeper.  I read the footnotes.  I read the correlating passages that are written in the margins.  And then I close my eyes and pray.  

My prayers aren’t going to sound like your prayers.
My faith isn’t going to move and breathe like your faith.

My learning isn’t going to mirror your learning.

In the passage from Matthew listed above, Jesus talks about His yoke being easy.  I learned from Jen Hatmaker at the #reckless2013 conference that “yoke” is a term that means “specific ways or methods.”  The religious leaders were all bent out of shape about praying this way or that way, don’t hang out with the sinful people, do this, don’t do that. When disciples of rabbi’s literally followed and mirrored the rabbi, the specific things that rabbi did were called his yoke.  Hello!!!!  TOO MUCH!  It’s like trying to learn a complicated line dance for someone with no rhythm… it’s just too much.

Jesus says, “my yoke is easy” — oh thank God… literally.
“…and my burden is light” — good because I have enough burdens already!

The bottom line is that it’s your responsibility to go to God.  He is there waiting for you.  The way you go to God doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s way, or sound like everyone else’s sounds.  And following Jesus isn’t complicated. No training is required, you can just jump right in.  Following Jesus isn’t too much, it’s the RELIEF from the too much that you have everywhere else in your life.

And for the record, a Christian fish on the back of the car tells me that person knows he is a sinner and that he isn’t perfect. He knows he has to RUN to Jesus because that’s where the burden is light and I’m totally down with that way of thinking.  

Give me all your burdens… um, GO FISH!
Go Fish or Go Home!
I once saw an ichthys bumper sticker THIS BIG!

… I know …. too much.

Ann’s favorite resources:

  1. Devotionals:
    1. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
    2. UpWords by Max Lucado
    3. Verse of the Day at biblegateway.com
  2. Blogs:
    1. P31 Ministries
    2. Jen Hatmaker
    3. God Dots by Anne Watson
    4. Chronic Illness & Pain
  3. Books:
    1. The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
    2. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
    3. Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado
    4. The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
    5. The Book of God by Walter Wangerin

give the gift of grace today

give the gift of grace today

In the Dallas area, it’s the first day of school for the majority of public schools.  So not only do we have hundreds of thousands of nervous, anxious, and excited kids who poured out of our homes and cars this morning — we also have hundreds of thousands of nervous, anxious, and excited parents who are doing their best to function “normally” today.

Even if you don’t have kids who went back to school,
give the gift of grace today.  

Here are real life examples of why you should give your coworkers (and strangers at the grocery store) some grace today:

  1. A family just moved from New Mexico 5 weeks ago and her kids know ZERO kids at school today, so mom is a bit nervous and anxious for her kids.
  2. A middle school girl was bullied to the point of wanting to take her life last year, and today she had to go back to school — needless to say, mom and dad are doing all they can to focus on their jobs today.
  3. A 5th grade boy with ADHD is going back to school, but this time with medication that will help him “not feel like a goof ball on the playground” (his words).  Mom and dad are anxious to hear how he fared socially today.
  4. Moms and dads took their “babies” to school for the very first time this morning and peeled their nervous children off their legs before they walked out of the school.
  5. A mom who gave a teacher the benefit of the doubt last year only to find out she truly had been singling out her kiddo is trying her best to give grace to the teacher this year and not hover over her son.
  6. A teacher fresh out of college welcomed kids into his classroom for the very first time this morning – I bet even HIS parents are nervous and anxious for him!

I have a feeling that many many moms and dads will be watching the clock today, waiting for that hour when they get to reunite with their kids to talk about what was awesome, and what needs improvement.  I bet many of these families could use our prayers.

While anxiety may be weighing down the hearts of many parents around you, cheer them up with an unexpected kind word.  Or when your coworker doesn’t follow through with the thing she said she would take care of, or the lady in Wal-Mart seems to be aimlessly walking down the middle of the aisle, do your very best to give them the gift of grace.

 

write your name here ____________

I use to go to church alone with my 4 year old son.
I didn’t really know many people.
I started serving in the kids area because it looked fun.
But I still didn’t really KNOW anyone.

It reminds me of being a kid and seeing all those cool key-chains with names on them but I could never find my own name.  Or seeing a cool board like this with names all over it, but I still can’t find my name:

photo from: http://www.jodywissing.com
photo from: http://www.jodywissing.com

I was terrified to get into a bible study because then people might see how messed up I really was.  What if they found out I struggled with lying?  What if they found out I used the f-bomb sometimes?  What if they found out that my husband wasn’t a believer?  What if they found out that I sometimes yelled at my kid because he got on my every last nerve?  What if they found out that I didn’t know much about the bible at all?

I finally took the plunge after waiting a year to get signed up.  

The first day I went I was terrified to walk into the worship center.  I didn’t even know what my leaders looked like.  What if I was the idiot walking around reading all the table signs and still couldn’t find my group?  I would just leave, that’s what I would do — if I made one round and couldn’t find my table, I would just leave and use my handy bucket of lies to make up some fabulous excuse about why I couldn’t stay.

As “luck” (read: God’s grace) would have it, my table was the second one I saw when I walked in.  The ladies quickly and eagerly welcomed me to their table.  They all knew each other, and I knew none of them.  We filled out that little “getting to know me” sheet and I made sure to make it look polished so the leaders wouldn’t have any inkling that by my standards, I was a fake Christian.

After the announcements were over, the leader let out a huge sigh and said something along the lines of, “Girls, I can’t tell you how glad I am that bible study has started up again – I thought I was going to lose my ever living mind being at home with my children this summer!  I NEED you guys!”

(huh, maybe this group thing won’t be so bad after all)

As the weeks went by I learned that EVERYONE at the table had issues and that it wasn’t just me.  (Thank you Jesus, I’m not the only one who is a mess!)  My biggest awakening came when I finally learned what “the veil was torn” meant in one of my favorite songs and they celebrated with me!  They didn’t say, “REALLY?!?!?!  You didn’t know that?!?!?!”

I haven’t missed a semester since.  I have been ill through several semesters but I did my very best to make it every time I was physically able.  I carved out my Tuesdays to make sure nothing ever got in the way of my morning group time.  Now I see familiar faces when I walk through the church and Lord have mercy that comforts me and brings me such peace!  It slowly became my second home.

My church.

I will never stop being in groups.  (Even though I have been known to pray that one would be canceled when I am overwhelmed with life — come on, you know you have too.)  Processing scripture, God’s promises, and the grime of life with other REAL women (the ones who aren’t afraid to show up with no makeup and in flip flops — LOVE those girls!), is life changing.

Quit making excuses.
Sign up.
Because if you’re standing there looking at everyone else’s names on the board like they just belong there, but you can’t find your own … it’s because you haven’t written it yet.  Get some chalk, I’ll wait….

If you’re in the Frisco/McKinney/Plano/Little Elm/Allen areas, come give Preston Trail a try.  Our groups are FREE this semester!  All you pay for is your book and childcare.