Friday, January 29, 2010

My WHO DAT Rant. So, Sue Me!

This is my official rant. Why is WHO DAT so important? Why are Saints fans outraged? I am not a sports freak, so why are the Saints so special to me? Here is why.

Many often wonder about the bond between the Saints and their fans. To most other cities, their sports teams are nothing more than just that. But to New Orleans, the Saints inspire unity, perseverance and hope. Those are important factors in a city that has overcome devastation and begun major restoration. Not many teams can state that their quarterback gave a good portion of his salary to rebuilding a city, a home, a Who Dat Nation. The team went above and beyond to give back to the most dedicated species on the planet…a Who Dat, a Saint in itself.

The Superdome has been a symbol for a city that will never forget Katrina. It is an iconic structure that holds many emotions both happy and sad. But the greatest of all is the triumph that remains. To be able to look back and see how far New Orleans (as a city and a team) has come, softens even the hardest of hearts whether you are a sports fan or not. Going to a Saints game unifies the people of the city because of the gratefulness they feel deep in their soul. Your political preferences don’t matter, nor does your race or religious background. Everyone is there to support a city that supported them, and vice versa.

For me, it is not even necessarily about the game. Heck, outside of a touchdown, I forget the rules every season, and Jeremy is patient enough to explain it again. For me, it is about family time, unity. Growing up, that was the one thing that brought our family together without fail. And even though my family has gone different directions and is miles apart, it is STILL the one thing that brings us together. I love that modern technology has afforded us that opportunity. I can be calling my mom, texting my dad, cheering with the family and watching the game all at the same time. And while we may get a similar effect with Nascar, the Saints are personal because we have a history.

So when someone comes in to try to steal a term coined by the fans themselves, you can now understand the cause for revolt. When a Saints fan says, “Who Dat,” we say it with pride. To “cease and desist” would bring about a further devastation than the one we just recovered from. The NFL should be ashamed for trying to cash in on the ray of hope that has been with NOLA from the beginning. I wonder if “Cha-Ching” is next, or the brown paper bag for that matter.

So, in the spirit of Louisiana, I say “Who Dat? Who Dat? Who dat say dey gon’ beat dem Saints?” Good luck, NFL because you probably had no idea which “dat” you were messing with. And even though I don’t live in NOLA anymore, I know they are still a force to be reckoned with. Once a Saints fan, always a Saints fan.

Thank you, Saints, for creating many great family memories, and I look forward to more on February 7th. GEAUX SAINTS and congrats on the Superbowl!!! WHO DAT!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crossing the Finish Line

It is amazing what 21 days of no food will do to you! I did break it slowly with fresh bell peppers, but by lunchtime on Sunday, I was ready for potroast! It’s crazy how your taste buds reset and everything is super sensitive. I could vividly taste each grain of pepper! This brings a whole new enjoyment to eating.

So, the 3-day water fast was the last leg of the journey. Let me just say that I hope I never have to do that again. The spiritual benefits were much needed, but the physical aspects were pretty taxing on the body. I definitely couldn’t have done the latter without the former.

By Thursday night, I had begun the deep detoxing. I became emotional and extremely tired. Headaches and dizziness were preceded by nausea, muscle stiffness and back pain. As years of toxins were released, my breath smelled like something died in it, and my mouth tasted like I ate a battery. I couldn’t get the metal taste out of my system for days! Then on Saturday, it felt like my face was excreting tingly, invisible bugs. I know that sounds disgusting, but I can’t think of any other way to describe it. I could literally FEEL the toxins leaving my body. I took at least two showers that day! Jeremy had a couple of the same symptoms, except he had extreme itching for about 12 hours straight. I lost a total of 11 pounds, and Jeremy lost 17! But, don’t worry; we each gained back 4 the second we started eating.

During this process, I remember soaking in a warm bath on Friday crying out to God because I had no strength, my speech was slurred and I wanted to give up. Then I had this peace just sweep over me. Immediately, God quickened to me Is. 40:31 which says, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint." WOW! Talk about a word in season! I also began to see Phil. 4:13 in a whole different light…“I can do ALL things through Christ who STRENGTHENS me!” As I began to diligently seek His face, I could not believe the amount of supernatural strength that I had been given. I vowed to spend time worshiping Him regardless of how I was feeling. In return, I ended up with enough strength to clean the rabbit cage, sweep and mop the floor, straighten the house for company the next day and do major grocery shopping. And all without passing out!

Here is the other miracle: I’m not dead yet. Because I have Addison’s disease of the pituitary, I take multiple daily cortisol supplements. Stopping them can send me into an Addisonian crisis which can be fatal. Without the pills, I shouldn’t even be able to have enough strength to get out of the bed. Well, I stopped taking them 10 days ago and I’m still kicking and fully functioning. I felt originally that this was the direction that the Holy Spirit was leading me with the hope that the strenuous fast would reset the pituitary gland in an effort to produce and release the cortisol on its own again. I still have bouts of tiredness as I try to recover from the fast, but I trust that my healing will only continue as my health begins to improve. I basically met God half way, and I expect Him to hold up His end of the bargain. History tells me that he will, so I am taking him at His Word which I know will not return void. And I know that I know this fast was a God-inspired thing.

Thank you for supporting me on this journey and helping me cross the finish line. I really appreciate all of the prayers and loving words of encouragement. Cheers!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!!!

I can almost see the finish line! I guess it’s comparable to a white flag on the final lap! (My Nascar friends will appreciate that metaphor.) This experience has been so rewarding and I am beginning to really understand God’s grace for the first time.

Last Thursday was a rough day as far as hunger and physical well-being, but yesterday was even worse. I started the juiced veggies and fruits, and although I wasn’t necessarily starving, I was dealing with a mental battle. The veggies (broccoli, asparagus, spinach, romaine lettuce, celery, carrot and cabbage) made me want to vomit. When you juice them all together it smells like you are drinking freshly cut grass. In my mind, I just wanted to give up. Taco Bell never sounded so good, a Lunchable never looked so good and a grilled cheese never smelled so good! I had definitely become “weary in well-doing”. Other than Thursday and Monday, things haven’t been so bad!

Sunday after church, a lady came up to me and said that God had given her a vision, or a dream, about me in the same outfit that I was wearing. She said that she was supposed to pray for me, but didn’t know what about. That was perfect timing since I was starting the third stage of my fast on Monday. She vowed to lift me up in prayer and support me! How awesome is that?!? And she doesn’t even really know me! I love that God is watching out for me and sending me the encouragement I need. It helped get me through Monday that’s for sure!

When I awoke this morning, it was like I had a cup of fresh grace! My mind was completely renewed and my spirit was well. I was completely shocked. The last few days, I feel that God has been teaching me about His grace. In fact, it overwhelms me that His grace is so sufficient. I know that I have tried fasts before and never made it past day 5, so this is totally a God thing…and the fact that I am physically doing it without having to be hospitalized is a miracle in itself! Goodness, one day fasts are hard enough and usually if I even skip a meal, my hypoglycemia kicks in. Well, I haven’t had ANY problems so far. Woo-hoo!

Have you ever noticed that when you have the grace to do something it seems possible, but when the grace lifts, it is near impossible? I believe that grace and peace go together. Once the grace is lifted and the peace disappears, then it’s time to move on to the next thing on God’s agenda. So often though I think we fail to recognize the gentle nudge and stay in situations or circumstances longer than He ever intended. Peace leads and grace will follow. I will say that I have never had such peace to do a 21 day fast as I have these past few weeks. But, I have a pretty strong feeling my “grace” for this fast will be gone by Sunday! ;)

I believe it pairs well with 1 Cor. 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” So, basically, God will never give us more than we can handle or ask us to do anything that he hasn’t done or wouldn’t do. When He asks you to do something, He will always provide the grace to do it; that’s why you can handle it. If there is no grace, then HE didn’t give it to you. Interesting food for thought…especially since food can ONLY be a thought right now! Ha, how ironic!

You know what is also ironic is that while the white flag symbolizes the final lap in a Nascar race, it is also a symbol of submission and surrender in times of battle. And at this point in my life, I can honestly say that “God, I surrender to you in everything, wholly and completely. I have seen the peace and joy it brings, and I never want to leave that place. Thank you for running this race with me. I can see the finish line ahead and I am so excited to see what is in store after the Winner’s Circle!” Bring on the Black and White checker!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I smell Blueberry Muffins!

Thanks for tuning in to my ongoing fasting saga. I am in the middle of week two, and I have to say that I am holding up well! I think…Yesterday, I walked into the house swearing that I could smell delicious blueberry muffins, but Britt said she hadn’t made any. Oddly enough, all Jeremy could smell yesterday was A-1 Steaksauce. Can you have a “smelling hallucination”? What else would you call that? Weird, especially since I never even think about muffins.

So, let’s recap the last few days. Last Friday, I caught my finger in the blender while trying to make my fruit smoothie for the evening. Saturday, I peed more than I ever have and am still continuing to do so. By Tuesday, I am smelling things that aren’t there. Ready for the positive?

Well, in week 2, God has been dealing with me on the quality of time that I spend with my children. This revelation was heartbreaking for me. Out of 168 hours in the week, I get to spend an average of 27 hours with my family after I take out work, church and sleep. That was shocking! Of those 27 hours, I still have to factor in time for grocery shopping, laundry, 3 pets, 2 kids, 2 teens and a hubby. By the time I add in “me” time, the quality of time that I spend with my kids is rushed and my hubby is pushed off. I began to realize that Javin and Kadi were STARVING for my attention. While I may have been doing it unintentionally, it was being done consciously. After all, I am the one that ultimately makes my own life’s schedule. So, I have decided to rearrange a few things in the effort that my children are not getting shoved off into the margin of my life instead of being the content. Thank you, Lord, for revealing that to me before any more time is lost.

Here’s something else: Have you ever noticed that when you’re fasting, the creative juices seem to flow more freely? Maybe it’s just my blueberry muffins or something. Anyway, I wrote this song on my way to work. I mean, I sing new songs to my Creator all the time, but this one just seemed to flow out of me faster than I could sing it! It’s quite catchy; now I just need to pound out some chords for it. Fun!!!

Lastly, I can actually feel the prayers of the people that are supporting me. This is definitely a supernatural thing going on! Thanks!

Well, that’s all for now. Tune in next time for the third leg of my journey as I begin preparations for the Juice portion.

Friday, January 8, 2010

And the Journey Begins!

Many churches across America are taking part in a 21-day fast usually modeled after the Daniel fast referenced in chapter 10. Of course, any individual can fast whatever God lays on their heart whether it be certain types of food, media or technology. Covenant McKinney began on January 4th, and we were also asked to keep a journal throughout the fast. I had originally decided to fast from sweets and caffeine…so, I thought…well, God has a sense of humor, and since I appear to be the butt of His jokes lately, the following seemed rather fitting.

On Day one while driving to work, I began to thank God for who He is all the while decreeing and declaring things for 2010, praying for the church leadership, explaining to Him why I am fasting and what I am believing for, etc. Then I got to the part where I said, “God, I trust you completely in everything.” Immediately, I heard, “Then why do you complain about it?” Wow, talk about eye-opening. Then, I felt like God was telling me to fast from complaining as well. Not happy. So of course, the first thing out my mouth literally was, “Are you kidding me? That is too hard!” …and there it is again! So, needless to say, I will not be complaining for 21 days. Remember, He always has the last laugh.

Later that day, I began to research fasting from a spiritual perspective so that I could better understand the sacrifice, the benefits and the “why’s” surrounding this 21-day attempt. My mom was able to offer some amazing insight from her pastor at Grace Covenant Church in Charlotte, NC. Here are a couple tidbits:
*Fasting is a spiritual atomic bomb; a new key to unlock doors that couldn't be opened.
*The discipline of fasting releases the anointing, the favor and the blessing of God in the life of a Christian. ~ Jentezen Franklin
*It is not dieting, not a proof of spiritual superiority, not a way to manipulate God, not a religious mandate, but a humbling of yourself before God; an open invitation.
*The spiritual discipline of fasting is to be a normal routine of our relationship with God. (Matt 9:15)
*When we fast, our motive should be to fast unto the Lord, not for the praise of people. (Matt 6:16-18)
*Fasting is a means of dying to ourselves so that God might reign in a greater way in our lives. I Cor 15:31, Eph 4:22-24.
*The spiritual discipline of fasting, partnered with prayer, is not a means to impress God and earn His acceptance, but it can bring breakthrough in our lives.

One of the breakthroughs that I am believing for is in reference to my health. Here is the back-story in a nutshell. After getting mono in May of 2008, my immune system went haywire. Over the last 18 months I have been diagnosed with several autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (underactive thyroid), Addison’s disease (low cortisol), Ankylosing Spondilitis (type of arthritis in my back/joints), Osteopenia…and the list goes on. In Jan/Feb of last year, my doctor was convinced that I had Lymphoma due to nodules on my thyroid and some test results that had come back. Long story short, I went to an oncologist, had several tests run and they couldn’t find whatever my endocrinologist saw. Praise the Lord on that one! Anyway, in the summer of last year, Pastor Kevin prophesied over me saying the God was going to give me a new central nervous system, that He was going to heal the pain in my hips (I was having trouble walking), etc, etc. I am going somewhere with all this, I promise.

So, on Day 2 and somehow by accident, I came across the benefits of Therapeutic Fasting ( health reasons. If this is how God wants to heal me, then so be it! I could not believe the stuff I was reading. Though the results stem from an extended juice and water fast, your digestive system basically goes into hibernation while the rest of your body is going through a strenuous process of ridding your body of toxins, dead cells, tumors, etc. It also “resets” damaged organs and is highly beneficial to those with autoimmune disorders. I would love to just be healed instantaneously, that would be a miracle. But God promised to “heal” me, and healing is a process. Google it! So, I have prayed for wisdom and direction and this is where I am being led. (Oh, sidenote, I also accidentally licked an OREO that day trying to get it to stick to someone’s car as a birthday prank. I think the jury is still out on whether that constitutes actually breaking a fast or not. I’m going with the latter.)

Back on track: On Day 3, Wednesday, I made up my mind to start prepping my body for the 2nd part of the process which I anticipated to begin on Friday with the end goal of working towards a water fast. So, I started eating less in an effort to shrink my stomach…and my appetite!

On Thursday, I called my doctor and received his full approval and support…which I had not expected. That gave me the peace I needed to start my graduated fast.

Today is Friday and the first day of my liquid fast. So far so good. This is now the 2nd leg of the voyage. I will be doing strained soups and liquids until the 18th. At that time, I will switch strictly to 4 days of clear juices followed by the final 3 days of water only. I have been told that for a person with my conditions, this is next to impossible to do unless you are secluded in a stress-free environment under constant medical care. I am ready for the challenge, and I have a great support system! Jeremy has even offered to do it with me. And don’t forget, this must all be done with no complaining! Whew!
So, lucky for me! I get a fast with a two-fold purpose: spiritual and physical! This is only Day 5, and I have already received so much revelation! Bring on the growth! (Prayer is greatly appreciated.)