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.”

why are you still spinning plates?

I’m 37 and I finally feel like I am DOING the things I have dreamed of doing in my life, and I feel like they are God’s dreams for me as well.  Now, I’m no Carrie Underwood, singing all across the world.  I’m no Michael Hyatt, writing and speaking all over the world.  But I’m Ann Skaehill, doing the things I’m meant to do in my little circle of the world.

In 6th grade, I remember doing some kind of “career project” wherein I had to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.  My project was about being a writer.  Now, I wasn’t exactly sure what KIND of writer I wanted to be – and honestly even through my Sophomore year in college I thought I would work for Hallmark and write witty and sentimental sayings for their greeting cards.

Because I believe God pursues us and keeps dreams alive in us, He never let my dream to write slide by the wayside.  I have had other talents pop up that I jumped on and turned into money makers for my family all while God was putting new dreams in my heart.

When I felt called to work in ministry, I laughed.  Ok really, we ALL laughed.  I was the mom with the f-bomb problem – I had no business being in ministry!  And in fact there were things He wanted me to experience and learn so that He could call me out of ministry for a season where He cultivated those things within me.  Talk about confusing!

A few months ago my husband and I went for a walk and he said (in love), “I feel like you’re all over the map!  You are basically working 4 part-time jobs right now and you’re making me crazy!  So what IS your dream?  Or do you seriously have a bazillion of them?”

Good points.  After my initial defensiveness subsided, I realized he had some exceptionally good points.  God might call us to do new things, and in fact He might keep a dream alive in us for a long long time.  When it’s time to take action and follow your dream, you have to let something else go.  My best friend always says to me:

“Everytime you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else.”  

Because I was essentially saying yes to 4 part-time jobs, I was saying no to my family and to God’s FULL calling for my life.  Again.  (I really hate it when I repeat this cycle!)

So it’s time.  I’m shutting down one of my spinning wheels.  It’s taking time to get through the work, but I have peace about it.  And as I get closer to completion, I feel my passion coming more alive in the areas of writing and ministry. Correction, I feel HIS passion coming alive in the areas of writing and ministry.  By continuing to say yes to this 4th thing, I was saying no to the big picture of how God wants to use me in these other areas.  I was doing something because I was good at it, not because I was called to it.

How do you know if you’re called to something or not?
Prayer.
Conversation.
Humility.

1. Write down EVERYTHING that you’re doing.  I mean everything.  This includes carpool, taking meals to people because they are sick, volunteering with a pet rescue place, your career… everything.  Then pray over that list.  Ask God to bring to the surface the things that He intends for you to have your hands in/on.  Ask Him to make it clear to you when it’s time to start saying no.  Don’t be “that guy” and walk into church Sunday and say “I can no longer serve because God’s not calling me to it.  Bye!”

2. Talk to your people.  I can’t shout this to you loud enough.  Your people know what you’re good at and what you clearly have no business doing.  It’s going to hurt, because you think you’re good at spinning all those plates. And frankly, you might even think you’re CALLED to spin all those plates.  Maybe you are.  But because you’re human, I’m positive you have at least one plate that needs to find a new home.

3. When you feel like God is calling you to something, you will simultaneously have this sense that it’s not about you.  Because He might even be calling you to something that you know NOTHING about.  Get your seatbelt on, because you’re in miracle territory.  He’s about to work wonders for HIS good, through you.  And when you walk away from a job well done, pride won’t be an issue because you won’t be able to stop praising GOD and all that He has done in this thing you knew nothing about.

If this three-step process isn’t enough for you, please go read Jennie Allen’s book: Restless.  She will lead you down this amazing road of self-discovery.  She will help you peel back the layers of your life so you can lay out the pieces and see your detailed map to God’s calling for your life.

Start thinking about what you need to say no to.
It’s time to stop spinning all those darn plates.

This is probably TMI, but…

image (3)

My friends know that I am pretty much an open book.  There isn’t a whole lot that I am too embrassed to share about myself.  I think that comes from years and years and years of medical issues.  I have been programmed to give the details.  All of the details.  So that nothing gets missed.  But sometimes I go too far and by the time the information is out of my mouth, it’s too late to take it back!

3 Signs You’re Sharing Too Much Information

1. You don’t want anyone to meet your spouse.  Or your brother.  Or your boss.

Early in our marriage, I had to learn to do a lot of things on my own due to my husband’s work shifts.  I learned to fix things around the house, I learned which line to stand in at the tax office, and I even learned which car repair place was honest (and unfortunately also learned which ones to avoid).  We struggled early in our marriage because we didn’t know how to grow together instead of further apart.  Since he wasn’t around for me to talk to, I talked to friends.  After our son was born I was tired with a capital TEE-EYE-AR-EEE-DEE and he was still only home one night a week.  I created a horrible pattern of dissing my husband to my friends and family because deep down I wanted people on “my side.”

Now, I was never actually in a courtroom battle with my husband, nor did anyone stand us face to face and ask to hear my side versus his side – but alas, I felt the need to gather an army of troops.  Let me skip ahead and tell you how that worked out for me in the end.  It didn’t.  It just didn’t work out.  I noticed I would get nervous when people I worked with would meet him because I wasn’t sure what they would say – and vice versa, I got nervous when he would meet people I worked with …. are you sensing a pattern here?

RESOLUTION FOR SIGN #1: Just go talk to the person who is driving you nuts.  You don’t need an army.  Period.  If you can’t work it out, then seek wisdom and guidance from one or two people AFTER you have prayed about your sitation.

2. You start a conversation with, “this is probabaly TMI, but ….”

Again, I admit that there are things I have discussed with people that are just awkward and … weird.  Like bowel movements for example.  ( I know, I’m not heeding my own advice very well!) But I have to tell you, once you find out who your IBS friends are, you know you can share great tips that you just can’t seek out from anyone in your contacts list!  But let’s just say you’re walking through the grocery store and you run into a neighbor you haven’t seen in awhile and she says, “HEY!  How ARE you?!?!”

Warning: This is not the moment you’ve been waiting for you share the intimate details of the unidentifiable rash on your son’s rear end.  It just isn’t.  The chances are that this type of in-passing conversation would be grounds for concise yet honest information.  If you are really going through some hard stuff – just be honest and say, “You know – I’m not the greatest I’ve ever been but this isn’t the best place for me to go into details.  I would love to catch up with you over coffee, though!”  If they bite and set up a coffee date, then great — let’s talk about how you’ve diagnosed your son with a disease that will maim him in 3 weeks thanks to Dr. Google.  If they don’t bite – don’t be offended.  This is probably not the friendship in which you want to share deep details of your life anyway.  And that’s OK!  Really, it is.

RESOLUTION FOR SIGN #2: When in doubt (or in a public place), keep it simple and always keep it honest.  There’s no reason to lie and say “I’m GREAT!” if you really aren’t great. However, going into the details of your Aunt’s mental illness in the office at the elementary school isn’t really a splendid idea either.  Keep it simple, honest, and concise.

3. You are more comfortable talking to your friend than you are talking to God.

Can I just out myself here and tell you that I’m guilty?  Because I’m guilty.  One of my favorite friends to talk to about big issues almost ALWAYS responds with, “have you prayed about this yet, Ann?”  Ok kids — take note: THIS IS THE BEST KIND OF FRIEND TO HAVE!  She listens, and she always turns me right back to God which is where I should have started in the first place.  Talking to God is prayer.  Prayer is talking to God.  It’s a relationship.  When you met (insert name of a great friend here) you didn’t start in with “so I have this weird bump on my arm” – you had to build the relationship first before you could start sharing TMI types of tidbits.  It’s the same with God on OUR end – but not on His end.  He is already there.  He’s warmed up and ready to go.  And guess what? Nothing will surprise Him so you can share every TMI thought you’ve ever had with Him.

RESOLUTION FOR SIGN #3: If you don’t have a friend who reminds you to talk to God — starting BEING that friend.  Start asking your pals if they have talked to God about the things they are sharing with you.  If you set the stage, you’ll start attracting the same types of encouragement from others.  And just start talking to God… He is aching to sit and have coffee with you.

5 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.  James 1:5 (The Message)

quit focusing on the drought

drought-weather

I’ve been quiet for awhile now.  No blog posts and very limited Facebook posts have come from me.  That’s always a sign that something is wrong.  If Ann isn’t talking or laughing — something is very wrong!   My precious friend pointed out in a text that she was worried about me because I saw no humor in her text message …and that my friends is a sure sign that I’m in a dry place.

We had two incredibly rough months – November and December.

  • 4 illnesses
  • 4 ER visits (one of which was out of state)
  • 1 puke virus in the middle of nowhere, Arkansas
  • 1 car accident and all the associated fees
  • 1 rental car and all the associated fees
  • multiple migraine headaches
  • a cracked windshield on the OTHER car
  • the heat went out (which is actually a hilarious story for another time)
  • Dallas had an ice storm = brutal body pain when that sucker moved in
  • and oh — Happy Thanksgiving, and Merry Christmas … er something like that

Here’s the deal, y’all… none of these things killed us, maimed us, bankrupt us, or caused us to hate each other.  But the final straw for me was the stomach bug in the middle of nowhere Arkansas.   Remember in the Looney Toons cartoons when that one feather would dance so elegantly on-top of the TNT handle and then BOOM — Wiley Coyote was toast! It was sort of like that for me.

Dude.  I was dry.  I had nothing left to give myself, my family, or my friends.  No laughter.  LOTS of sarcasm (and probably a little cussing if I’m going to be honest here), and a pretty constant stream of … well … self-pity.

Where was God in all this you ask?
Well, had I kept Him at the forefront of my mind I don’t think TNT even would have been in the picture, quite frankly.   Know what I mean?

Here’s where I went terribly wrong…
I stopped making time to pray, to read from my bible or devotionals, and I kept thinking to myself, “well, now we have had 3 things happen – so nothing else will…. ok, now there have been 4, so we are good… um, make that 5… 6… OH FORGET IT!”  I put myself in the dry place.  I did it to myself, y’all!

God never promised that we wouldn’t go through hard times.  So what in the world made me think that I was exempt from them?  Especially after a set number of problems… “Ann Skaehill, you’re next… let’s see… you’ve had 1,2,3,4,5,6… oh, you’re good.  No more problems for you.  NEXT!”  That’s SO ridiculous!  But I thought it.  I really did.

I love these verses from the book of Jeremiah:

7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,

   with roots that reach deep into the water.

Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

I am such a visual person that I can SEE this picture — I can SEE the tree planted by the water.  I can SEE the roots reaching with all they have to get to that water.  I can SEE their carefree nature because they aren’t concerned about the drought.

And I can SEE that I did not do that when I needed to the most.  I just sat there and withered.  Every now and then someone would try to show me some water and I turned my nose up at it.

After identifying my droughtiness, I signed up for a class through my church where we are really digging into hymns and the stories behind them.  Our precious leader, Gwen, opened with a sweet prayer that felt like a BUCKET of living water was dumped over my head.

Now I can’t get enough.  I can’t get enough hymns and prayer and reading from our class book.  I can’t get enough joy and enough laughter and peace.  I don’t want the hydration to stop so I am going to plant myself next to the living water.  I’m digging in.  Yo, I was thirsty, people!

If you’re focused on your drought and you’re pushing everyone away, please please please stop and ask yourself how that’s working for you.  Because I have a feeling you’re pretty stinkin’ thirsty right now.   Get your rear up and get to that water.  Call a friend so he or she can drag you there if need-be.

 

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

but I can barely remember my own name!

My husband is a history buff.  He knows names, dates, places, and all the carnage that ensued from wars.  He knows heroes, villains, and the colors of their capes.  He remembers things he read and he remembers how to get to someone’s house without having to look it up each time.

I can barely remember my name.  No seriously, I’ve been married for 13 1/2 years and I still sign with my maiden name … often.  I can’t remember phone numbers.  I certainly can’t remember historical dates (don’t try to charm me with your catchy little tunes because I will still mess up the dates).  I can’t remember what I’m supposed to get at the grocery store, or which day is crazy hat day at school.  Oh my gosh, I’m HORRIBLE at remembering birthdays – except for my sister’s because it’s the day after mine.  Thank you God for planning that out so nicely for me!

So why on EARTH would I try to memorize scripture????
I’m literally giggling out loud as I type this — because it really does seem like a waste of time for someone who can’t commit things to memory very easily, right?

My friend Anne pretty much told me straight up that I was going to memorize scripture this year.  And she had good reason for being so pushy (in love of course).  When scripture is committed to memory it changes things.  It changes our perspective.  It changes our prayer life.  It changes the depth of understanding that we have in regards to who God is and how to see Him in our lives.  And one of my favorite things is that it changes the way we help others.

I’ve been known to say stupid things to people who are brokenhearted or going through awful things.  Yes, some of that is human nature, but a lot of that stemmed from the fact that I didn’t have scripture on the tip of my tongue so I floundered like a fish out of water when I was asked things such as, “Why did God make this happen?”

But just yesterday a friend of mine was struggling through a high stress situation and guess what I was able to do immediately?  I was able to text this to her:

Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

I didn’t have to fumble through typing and erasing and typing again and wondering if what I was saying would be in alignment with what scripture teaches.  And I didn’t have to Google “stress, scripture” to find just the right verse.  I KNEW that I knew that I knew that God cares for her and that she could make the choice to give her anxiety to God.

So how does a Forgetful Frances go about memorizing scripture?  Well of course I have an app for that.  Yes it cost me money, and yes it was worth every penny.  As you know I struggle with spending far too much time playing on my phone.  You’ll be happy to hear that I am doing VERY well when it comes to games – I’m down to 1 game and I hardly ever play it anymore.

Instead of keeping zombies from eating my brain, when I get the urge to reach for my phone I open my Scripture Typewriter app instead of my Plants vs Zombies app. #dontjudge  I have learned about 22 scripture passages this year.  I know this isn’t mind blowing and people have probably memorized entire books of the bible in the time it took me to learn 22 passages —- HOWEVER, since Betty isn’t invited to this party I am pleased to share that I am very proud of myself!

If I can do it, I’m pretty sure anyone can.

Do you memorize scripture?  What motivates you and how do you commit passages to memory?

pain is lonely

Photo from: http://inspiyr.com/chronic-pain-and-anxiety/
Photo from: http://inspiyr.com/chronic-pain-and-anxiety/

Pain sucks.  It just does.  Today was one of those days — and it’s still going.  I tried medication.  I tried stretching.  I tried a neck massage and a back massage.  I tried a nap.  I tried a detox bath.  I tried sticky pain lotion.  I tried more medication.  I tried drinking a ton of water.  I tried moist heat.  And finally I just gave in and accepted the fact that my pain wasn’t going to budge.

Here are some things that make me roll my eyes when I’m in pain.  Some of them might be TMI, but just whatever…. I have nothing to hide:

  • I can’t even bend over to sit on the toilet without my head throbbing or my feet cramping up from holding my weight.
  • It’s hard to connect the eye-hooks on my bra without my fingers cramping up.
  • I clench my teeth in an effort to not frown, which has led to new problems in my jaw… awesome.
  • I’m nauseated but I have to eat to take medications that should help me.
  • My family is loud.  The clock is loud.  The air conditioner is loud.  The fan is loud.  It’s all TOO LOUD!
  • Facebook posts make me roll my eyes.  I’m happy for people and the fun they are having — just not at that particular moment.  (just keepin it real)

Can you relate?

It’s after 9pm and I am starting to feel some relief.  For all you non-chronic pain people, when I say “I feel some relief” it doesn’t mean I’m ready to take a lap around the block.  It means I can walk across the room and get my own glass of water instead of asking for assistance.  There is no miracle drug or therapy or food regimen for me (although being in the mountains seems to cure 95% of my ailments!).  But do you know what gave me joy and was more calming and helpful than any of the things I tried today?

My husband said, “I’m so sorry you’re hurting like this today, honey.”

When he said that, I melted.  In that instant, all of the following things went through my head — and again, if you’re a non-chronic pain person you might not understand where I’m coming from here, but hear me out:

  • Thank GOD, he doesn’t think I’m faking this or think that I’m just lazy!
  • He loves me and he cares about me.
  • He can’t fix this, but it’s ok because I don’t expect him to.

If someone close to you is hurting from a chronic ailment PLEASE do not ignore her pain.  I pray away Satan when I am in pain because he LOVES to whisper lies about me in hopes that I will believe him.  He whispers things like:

  • You’re so lazy, just get UP already and do something!  You’re wasting the entire day!
  • Why do you even bother trying to work?  You aren’t reliable.
  • You’re crabby all the time – you’re going to drive your husband away.

Satan isn’t creative, folks.  He just hits my weak spots and digs right in.  So stand in front of your loved one and don’t let Satan creep in.  Crowd him out.  Don’t attempt to fix everything, just tell her that you see her and you acknowledge that her pain is real.  She knows you can’t fix her pain.  She knows.

Pain is lonely. So don’t let her feel like she’s alone.
All you have to do is acknowledge her pain.
That’s it.