Friday, July 26, 2013

Why We All Need the Doctor

I grab my phone while lying in bed and read the Five Minute Friday prompt for the day: Broken. My first impulse is to turn right back over. Haven't I written about this one enough? Yes, enough, I think. No one wants to hear any more of what I have to say about this topic.

But then I do what I do as I start most days: listen to music. The prompt is almost out of sight. Almost.

I play some Andrew Peterson, singer/songwriter I've enjoyed for awhile. I'm intrigued to go to his site and see if he's working on anything new.

So I see his blog right away; blogs by musicians are always interesting; you get a peek into their real lives. Because, what, they are human too, with frailties and flaws and not just amazing at singing and playing? Who knew?!

Read this post by Andrew Peterson if you get a minute, please and thank you and I hope it speaks to you and encourages you like it did me.
You see, it often takes being broken for me to reach down and see the real truths about myself, about who I really am, to see what God sees, and to know that I am both beloved and far worse off than I imagine.

Andrew talks about his experience at the doctor.

Through the years, the doctor has been a mixed bag for me, both a place of comfort (sometimes) and a place of anguish, because it's there that I have learned that things are not quite right, that my health over the years has been far more complicated than it seemed to need to be for someone my age, and there was no 'quick fix.' Often, in some cases, there was no 'fix' at all. No medication to cure it, no treatment that would make pain go away permanently, there was simply no solution other than 'symptom management.'

I hate symptom management. There are definitely pros to helping people in that process. To managing pain, to managing and alleviating symptoms and for working on prevention. I'm a fan of helping people who are suffering. This is my job. But, I'm also into healing. I acknowledge that conventional 'anything' doesn't always work, and any kind of medicine or science does not have all the answers. Doctors have thrown around the word 'enigma' several times in my life, and told me point blank, 'there's just no medical explanation for it.'

Sigh. You don't stop living; life was for the most part, extremely functional. But, I'd hate for that to be the word to describe any of my kids' lives when it came to their health: functional.
I'll admit though, for years I thought I was tough because I learned how to 'master' this kind of living. I was the best at survival mode, and I worked myself out of anything that resembled straight up illness because I was convinced I didn't have time for that anymore! I did my time with doctors, I spent a lot of effort and dedication to working on stuff, and I essentially went cold turkey. Except for maintenance visits at the chiropractor, basically. I went to see doctors if I absolutely had to, but that was it. I had about one doctor/friend I enjoyed seeing, but it was too hard to keep up.

Somehow, life and changes and opportunities God put in my path, and the broken gave way to HEALING, in different ways. 

You know how Jesus talks about how it's not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick? (Math 9:12) 

Yeah, it's true. But, unfortunately (or fortunately, for us), we are all sick. And our Physician does not just relieve symptoms. He is the remedy.

You absolutely can't hide much from your doctor, or you are just going to get worse. You absolutely (if you're me) have to have no shame when you ask them a gamillion questions over the course of years about why are we doing it this way and where are we going with this and what path or direction looks best.

Perhaps, that is how I am with Jesus, too. I cannot hide from Him. He is patient with me when I am not patient, and I have so many questions about the process and where we are going and why is it going this way.

I have learned and am learning I have to be okay in the times that life calls for me to fall down, when bodies or hearts that hurt show me I can't do this thing myself. Dependence. Is. Hard.

Patience, grasshopper. . . If you're in that stage. Know what's broken will always be made whole again, and that is worth celebrating, grasshopper.

Linking up with Lisa-Jo and others today.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Take Heart

I've said it before, and I'm sure say it again, gratefulness comes for me in acts of seeing rightly, rightly seeing. Seeing His handiwork, seeing Him everywhere.

In moments when I "can't see straight," I know I've let problems become too big and God become too small.

But, what do you do when your job is to deal with problems, when the everyday looks like problems and more problems, and yes, I'd like a side of problems with that? What do you do when the reason they call you in is to essentially be a problem solver or maybe just to curtail them for awhile, to help manage it all?

It's a tricky balance, because we all are set to have problems. In my own life, surely, the forecast is not always sunny-side up. It can't be.

Jesus knew this! He told us..

"In this world you will have trouble." -John 16:33

Actually, quite helpful for a counselor to hear. These blows are not a surprise, even to Jesus. 

Even more encouraging to hear, though, for someone who is human, desperate for the One who knows what to do with the pain and problems, is this:

"But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Earlier in John, Jesus talks about being "the way, the truth, and the life." He says again to "let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me." (14:1)

He explains to his disciples that he who has seen Him has seen the Father. And that He is also sending another Helper to dwell with them and "will be in you" (v 17).

Jesus does not leave people on their own.

Because he lives, we get to live.

This is so freeing.

Yet, I know my tendency to want to make it with my own strength.

He says that apart from him we can do nothing. Not some, not a little bit. Nothing.

Jesus says again in 14:27 to "let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

He helps us in distress, in the everyday, in our joys and failures, in such a way that human strength can never compare to. His peace is perfect, his giving is without measure.  

Rejoicing in that crushes untrust that buries deep when life unfolds or I am too plugged into the hectic life that surrounds me. Truth holds my hand when I need to remember where my help comes from...

In the presence of my Savior.

No small amount of gratitude is ever wasted, no matter how small it seems, no matter how tiny the act of seeing. I churn out specks of thanks on the canvas of a soul that needs to remember to take heart.

# 216-224 :praying with a neighbor, friends who 'cook' with you, a relaxed Sunday afternoon, snail mail, sunny July days, people who make me laugh, online writing community, journaling lots more again, adoption talk at church:

How do you see more of God instead of problems?

 linking with emily and also 1000 gifts

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Share Your Story

It's important to share your story.

I meant to get this up a few days ago, but alas, here it is Saturday evening. I've talked about the book project, Couch Rebels, on the blog before, but I wanted to do it again, because there is a deadline, people. A deadline to scribble down in a notebook, to pound out words, to talk about those places where life has become more than ordinary for you and where you can let us all dig into your story a little bit. That deadline is tonight. Sorry, and there's still time. :)

I desire to give voice to what has made life jump out at me, and I desire to know what's made that happen for you, too.

I'm thankful for this project because it allows people to come together for a common cause, it reminds me to get up off the couch (even when I don't want to), and it helps me rethink my everyday.

Cause Pub interviewed me about my submission, and I thought I'd post it, a) to excite you in case you want to finish your story (or need a push to submit!), and b), I haven't done a video on the blog before and I'm forever talking about video blogging.

By the way, there was a short snip-it at the end (a blooper, perhaps?!) that may or may not have been about how I actually love sitting on couches. As in a lot. Sometimes, there's a real need for that (but, a time and a place for everything..) It did not make it into the video. Oh, well. Enjoy!

And if you're a little bit nutty deadline driven like me, or just want to still share your story, do it!

I'll love you even more for it :).

Oh, and check out some other stories and don't forget to vote for your favorites. Here are some recent ones I've come across that touched me:

Life was Good, And All Was Well

A Living Story of Freedom

Trusting God..With Me

Fair and Clean

P.S. If you can't get your story in, you can still buy the book.
You can't lose.

July Julie

Sunny July, I belong here with you.

I remember when the kids mispronounced my name: July. Julie -- July?
I went with it, until eventually they realized it was the name of a month -- not my name.
But, in a way, there's some truth there.
Cookouts, swimming, sun-days, no school (I still follow my education-minded calendar), July, you are still my favorite.


I take a few extra pictures in July, to catch the friends, and the glimpses of beach, and well, the yellow.
Friends, this is not me, but when one plays a game called "let's wear everything yellow," it sticks. And others like to help you out.

This is me with the large beach hat.

Here is a glimpse of what I like to call "the tree painting."

And lovely friends....

Half of the American flag, posing for a picture atop my cake.

::: Linking up with a community who writes every week to share their love of words. Come join. This week the talk is on Belong.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Lalala Presents

It's a gift to find music that speaks to the soul and sings one's language.

My music interests have become more eclectic of late.

Here are a few that I've come across recently that I wanted to share because they are some new (and a few old) lovelies:

"The Coffee Song" Yvonne Lyons

This singer/songwriter sings my songs. I love the instrumental. And love that she has a braid in her hair. Lalalala, this video makes me smile. God's present to me.

Sidebar with this song: Do you give yourself permission to have some "stay right here" moments? Today was one of those for me. I had big plans, ideas in store for going out and exploring and maybe even taking a day trip to the beach. But. Then. I. Crashed. 

When I was at the beach in late spring, I had the idea of getting some kind of braid or feather braid done to my hair, because you know, that seems normal when you're at the beach and walking around in sandals and sundresses (not that that's different than my normal dress..).

But, I'm still digging braids right now. I wasn't quite sure what was out there in the braid world because I don't care for trends, but I decided to google it. Here's a little snip-it of what came up here and here.

This is all a little strange/interesting to me, but not nearly as interesting as what I saw when images popped up for babies and Mick Jagger. I really don't know what to say.

Here are some more songs I'm lovin' right now:

"Giving It All" Michael Gungor Band

"Crags and Clag" Gungor

"Build Your Kingdom Here" Rend Collective Experiment (Irish Christian Folk Band!!)

"Who You Are" JJ Heller

"Dawn to Dusk" All Sons and Daughters

"We only have today,
So let us now begin.
From dawn to dusk.
We're waking up.

Tomorrow's freedom is today's surrender."

Linking with Lisa-Jo and others a day late, as my typical. The prompt this week is Present. Happy Weekend!

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Beautiful's easy-peasy when I want it to be, talking the talk about flowers and mountains and night sky and you, beautiful people you are.

Isn't that the way it goes?

It is easy for me to jump on a beauty soap box, but I am only also speaking to myself here, too, because for years I saw myself as < God sees me. I know this feeling, I know these thoughts.

God has redeemed this area but like anything else, He keeps doing a work in me. Think of it as those vitamins you need to clean out your system, or the good stuff you put in your body to cleanse the harshness we do to ourselves and the junk we often eat.

We need truth, spiritual nourishment, not just once when we consider the lies we've been living and the junk we've been feeding our minds about the standards of beauty the world places on us, but we need it all the time. We need nourishment and truth for our souls, because what we tell ourselves is often the core of how we see ourselves, and the result often becomes how we treasure the gifts God has given.

Name five or ten things that are beautiful. Go.

What comes to mind? Flowers, mountains, night sky, beauty we see in other people?

Somewhere beauty became another form of perfection. And a kind of extreme way of thinking, where it is everything or it is nothing. I can't eat this. I must be this size. I can't except this compliment.


Can we find some balance with beauty, can we learn to see as God sees us....

Instead of being Goldilocks with our bodies, with our beauty, with standards we place on perfection for our lives.

In the beloved fairy tale, Goldilocks wanders off and gets lost and this is what happens:

She prefers porridge that is neither too hot nor too cold. She wants it just so.
It doesn't end well: she eats baby bear's whole bowl of breakfast. Opps.
She prefers the chair that is neither too hard nor too soft.
It doesn't end well: she ends up breaking the chair.
She prefers a place to sleep that fits her perfectly and this doesn't end well: she's so comfortable she is still sleeping when the bears return.

Nothing is enough.

I have been Goldilocks. I am often still Goldilocks.

I am a wanderer. A perfector. A make-it-righter.

I came across a new song today. One lyric stuck out at me, screamed for me to listen:

"If I wander till I die may I know whose hand I'm in." -Peter Bradley Adams

The longer I run, may I just know Him whose hand I'm in...

Happy Saturday -- linking up with Lisa-Jo and others talking about Beautiful -- I always talk too long on this one.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4 {plus 2 more} on the Fourth

1. Today's Declaration: Forgotten Voices

2. Mental Floss: 50 Great Facts About The 50 States

Apparently, I'm in a good state to like sweet potatoes.  :)

3. Bread & Wine Book Club: Incourage

4. Couch Rebel Stories, courtesy of Cause Pub 

Sidebar: I'm fascinated by people's stories and adventures.
Some catch your eye like this one and this one (from the blog). Sidebar: You might want to read the latter if you have a friend named Billy who no one else can see. 

5. What Guarding Your Heart Really Means : Relevant Magazine

6. Bono's Interview with Focus on the Family

 Happy Fourth everyone! Much love.

P.S. What state {or country} are you reading from? What is a fun fact we might not know about the place you call home?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Sweet Spot

Right now, several things are healing properties to me. Exciting and new and finally. They are my take-a-step moments. You might not know it unless you inched your way into my kitchen, or into my car.

The kitchen is the place for my current mess, the good kind, the ones that represent my trial-and-error, actually making food in the kitchen again.

I'm currently reading Bread and Wine, by one of my favorite favorites, Shauna Niequest. This is a win. You should stop what you're doing and go read it.

She speaks my language. There are many, many take-a-ways for life and the kitchen, and, well, I can relate all too well.

"I'm not really a recipe girl. My mom always teases me about it, knowing that when I say I used a recipe, all it means is that at some point, some list of ingredients and techniques were involved as I threw things in pans, as I sliced, poured, salted, and peppered with seeming randomness. She does not particularly appreciate this cooking style, and sometimes she has to leave the kitchen because my loosey-goosey approach makes her nervous." -S. Niequist

It is rare, if ever, that I make a predetermined plan in the kitchen. But, this is week one of actually making a meal plan, and my hope is that I will somewhat stick to it! I'm not aiming for perfection here, just to begin somewhere. Because colorful salads that I love and making dishes with odd-sounding grains (quinoa-couscous love) will not happen on their own.

There are times when recipes and techniques are needed, there is definitely a need for planning, but for sure, we can be directed by our senses and taste buds and getting back to having fun in the kitchen, as well as the secret hope that someday one will find a cooking boot camp, as Shauna did, even though she seems like an excellent cook.

And now then, let me explain the car. The car is the place that currently houses my racquet, tennis balls and shoes, because I picked damp day #26 to be the start of my tennis playing days again.

I was all ready to go play, as in, tennis shorts, headband, shoes.

For the love, I need to watch the weather channel.

Wimbledon is current in progress. Without fail, every year about this time, the tournament gets me moving again, because I can hardly watch it without thinking, I need to be playing again, not watching!

Little known fact about me for some of you: I grew up, nearly all my life, playing tennis. All the time, all the time.

It's muscle memory. That's one thing I love about picking up the ball and racquet; it's something that comes back to me (even if I am rusty) the moment I start again.

It wasn't always that way. Of course, when you start something new, it's repetition. Repetition. Like anything.  People often joke about tennis, if they haven't played it. Because it's typically not a pick-up sport. That makes it more interesting. You have to practice, like anything worth doing. I could no more 'pick-up' a guitar and play than anything.

Confession: I was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and even 'picking up' a guitar and pretending to hold it for a picture felt a little awkward. That is sad, I know. But, I am more an athlete than a musician. I love, love to listen to music, until the day I die, I hope to have music playing in the background (and foreground), but I am not as comfortable with instruments in my hand as I am hitting a ball or running around on a court. 

Everyone is different. I forget about this part of me, sometimes.

I forget that I need balance in my life, and sometimes that means I need to get out there and smack the tennis ball.

I stood and looked at the rain for a good minute today because I thought today was going to be the day. Soon, though!

Here is a funny video I found describing how to find "the sweet spot" in tennis.

Helpful, yes. But, I've been learning again and again with every turn lately, and this just reinforces it, that you really have to get out there and practice, do, begin.

Some things are better lived than watched or read. As much as I am a creature of habit (and like to pretend I am not!), as much as I live to learn from books, as much as getting out there and starting what I said I'm going to do takes effort: it is worth it.

Here's to adding color to salads and life and smacking those tennis balls.

What are the new, or maybe some old-new things you're into lately? When have you found the 'sweet spot' by getting out there and doing?

linking up with emily and others.

He is making all things new!