Monday, October 31, 2016

On Surrendering

I've recently become friends with a street person. Her name is Corliss. She has impeccable manners. Her speech flows flawlessly from her lips. She has no addictions to drugs or alcohol, nor is she mentally ill. Yet the streets have been her home since 2000. 

Last night, when I asked Corliss how she felt about living outside for so many years, her answer kind of startled me. She said, "Well, it's never really bothered me until just a couple of nights ago. Then for the first time ever, I cried about what's going on in my life. I guess this is starting to get to me." 

To some of you, this whole scenario is probably a turn off, and that's okay. I get that. But in my mind, any one of us could substitute her homelessness for a number of situations to which we haven't learned to wave the white flag of surrender (which her tears symbolized). 

Maybe you have a dead end job. Maybe your marriage fell apart a long time ago. Or like a growing number of people, you have a child with a disability and are at the end of your rope. But regardless of how you feel, how tired you are, or how empty your heart is, you refuse to let go. Letting go is failure to you, and you just can't go there in your mind. You just can't fail

For so many years I had that belief, too, because truly I did actually fail in all of my attempts to do just about anything. Worse, when I pushed into God with prayer and seriously began walking in His will, I only encountered more failure in my life. It took me over ten years to understand that not only does the Holy Spirit really do this (lead us into failure) but He does it with intention. Why? Because to live we must die, and there is no other way around it. 

So many people I know right now are hitting their 40's, and they are getting a taste of the world's definition of success. They've written books and are even showing up on TV. That might lead you to think, "Why not me? If only my child was well. If only I had a better job. If only this. If only that."

I know. I went through this myself (and to some degree still am--but this mindset is truly beginning to die now) until I started to look back and see the patterns that emerged from my own past. I spend a lot of time with unloved people. I don't look for them. They just seem to show up on my radar. When I wondered why, I saw that Jesus was teaching me to love the way He does. These people can't love me. They have no resources upon which to draw. But I can love them because I can draw upon Him.

I mean, if it were up to me, I would be the center of everyone's universe! It's true! I would not be hanging out with those who need love. Instead I'd only be with people who love me! But is this really life? I don't think so. Not any more. 

I'm not suggesting here that you attempt some kind of weird transcendence above the material needs we all have. But what I am perhaps saying is that if you have a sense that you are somehow blocked in life, maybe there's a need to surrender to the very thing you have been trying to climb over, put behind you, or shove in a closet somewhere. That thing has a purpose, and it is not to take your life. Paradoxically, it is to give it. But you have to give up to receive, and that my friends sounds easy but, in all fairness it's not. It's truly very  hard.

Just points to ponder. Be blessed today. Love your family. Love God. Love your neighbor. Love well.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Gluten Free Update

Way back in January I decided my body needed a break from gluten, but as it turned out the addiction to bread and breakfast cereal was so strong my new diet didn't actually begin until the end of March. 

Actually, I didn't start a "new diet" per se. I just stopped eating bread and cereal but kept everything else the same. 

Well to my surprise, about the middle of April I discovered that the scalp pain and tenderness I had my entire life just disappeared completely. The bleeding patch of dry skin on my pinky knuckle that had been there for two years also cleared up in a matter of weeks. And my hair that became so dry that it only needed to be washed once a week now needs to be shampooed every other day. It's soft and shiny just like it used to be. 

There was an unexpected downside to going gluten free and that is for many months, I had a terrible case of heartburn. Personally, I think bread may absorb stomach acid, but really--I have no idea. On the other hand, I had been taking a lot of ibuprofen at that time (I quit doing that), which I later learned can also cause stomach upset so that might have been the problem, too. Either way, I'm okay now---things seemed to have balanced themselves out.

And I have lost some weight, but I want to go on the record here to let you know that a gluten free diet is not the cause for weight loss. I gained weight by eating gluten because every time I did, I had an autoimmune reaction that caused my body to dump a ton of nutrients. In its attempt to keep me alive, my body began to grab anything it could from my food intake and stored it as fat. In other words, it was the autoimmune reaction that caused my weight gain. Not the gluten itself.

But from April to mid-August, I still hardly lost any weight, and that didn't make sense to me! I eat the same thing everyday (to cut down on something called "decision fatigue" which I plan to write about soon) and constantly walk, walk, walk! 

Well, to my surprise it turned out I wasn't eating enough (so I was still storing fat, grrrr)! Why? Because for the first time in my life I haven't been hungry in between meals. Nutrients are actually staying inside of me and are doing their job. It never occurred to me I was still starving (which is why I didn't do a calorie count sooner. Under eating has literally never been an issue in my life, so I didn't expect to encounter that at this point in my life!). Once some calories were added back into my meals, the weight did start dropping off rather easily. I'm down 15 pounds now and my clothes after being too small for a couple of years are beginning to fit me just fine. 

So there you go. If you think gluten is a real problem for either yourself or someone you know, then try to go without it for a few months (it takes that long or more to see how its absence really affects your body). If there's no difference, it's better not to quit eating grain. Otherwise the best diet tip I could ever give to anyone is this: If you do nothing else, cut down on your sugar intake. Next to smoking, there doesn't seem to be anything worse for our bodies next to excessive sugar consumption. 

Take care of you and God bless!