Don’t Choose to be a Victim

We all suffer temptations to all sorts of sin weaknesses. My weakness may not be your weakness and your weakness not a weakness of my own. Through my own observations of human behavior there is a weakness that at some point in time in our lives we all fail miserably when the temptation arises. This is the tendency we have to choose to be a victim. The “I am a victim” weakness starts at a very early age. Hang around with siblings or a room full of toddlers for an hour or two. You will hear “How come she gets that?” “I never get a turn!” “I never get to go first!” “He got more cookies than I did!” Oh yes the comparisons to others and becoming “a victim” starts very young. What is it about us that we have to keep score? Why must we continuously look at what others have and focus on what we do not?
This is a temptation that knows no cultural, physical, age, or gender boundaries. I have been tempted by it and have witnessed others who have succumbed to becoming “a victim” throughout all my walks in life for my entire life. Sometimes the greatest conviction I have is here at home. At home my guard comes down. While at work my focus turns to my patients and their needs. Just the other day I told a friend and coworker that sometimes work is a vacation from my own life. It is a time to completely focus on the needs of others. Helping others in their time of pain and need somehow brings my own struggles into the proper prospective. At home as messes pile up it often seems and actually is a fact that momma is the only one cleaning. As the temptation to turn into “a victim” and fatigue wear me down I will start whining to my family about their lack of consideration and laziness. The conviction that I am really not teaching my children anything when I whine and yell is overwhelming. To teach them it takes even more effort than cleaning the messes on my own. To raise responsible adults it means taking the I-pod away until the mess in the kitchen is cleaned up. It means taking the time to teach my children and sometimes husband how to clean. When I go into “victim” mode all that I am teaching is how to become “a victim” and it builds resentment within my children. Becoming “a victim” decreases our credibility.
Often when we focus on what others have or are getting we are missing the big picture. That person may have had to give up something or have an unseen struggle we know nothing about. The constant comparing and score keeping does nothing but steal our joy. By allowing ourselves to become “a victim” we are applying layer after layer to the wall of bitterness around our hearts.
When our family first moved into the home we currently live in we struggled in figuring out what to do for afterschool care for our oldest daughter then in second grade. My husband worked it out with his boss that he would go into work early and work through his lunch in order to be off work in time to get her picked up from school. This only lasted for about two weeks. A couple of co-workers of his decided to become “victims” they saw him getting to leave work early, became jealous, and complained to the boss. As a result the boss had to tell my husband that since others were complaining he couldn’t let him come in early and skip lunch in order to leave work in time to pick up our daughter. His co-workers chose to only see what he was getting and not what he was giving up. Anyone who knows the man knows he really likes his food! We made other arrangements and it all turned out fine. Just the perfect example of how our human nature will focus on what we are not getting, but miss the big picture of what has been sacrificed.
As God has placed this blog on my heart there has been story after story personally and through social media that has driven His point even further in my heart. Some friend’s dear daughter with muscular dystrophy pouring out wisdom beyond her years how that even being bound to a wheelchair she knows that things can always be worse. God provides her with ways to give back to this world that are further reaching from her wheelchair than she could ever reach on her two legs. An inspiring video of a runner who fell flat in a championship race, got up quickly, came from far behind to actually win the race with just two hundred meters to go reminded me to always get up. When we fall always get up and keep pressing on toward the goal. The only time we are a failure is when we give up. She could have sat on that track, become “a victim” and cried. No she walked off the track as a champion because she got up and finished the race.
There are people struggling and in pain all around us everyday. It is a daily prayer for God to reveal to me not what everyone else is getting in life, but to see the needs of others and how I can give. Asking God to give me the attitude of “how can I give my all and expect nothing in return” actually brings freedom. It frees me from my own tendencies to become “a victim” and prevents the disease of bitterness from consuming my joy. Psalm 71:20 “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.”
Proverbs 14:10 “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.”
Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

“It’s a Dog Eat Dog World”

The little black dog is harder to see all snuggled on my lap. One of my favorite pictures of the dogs, my buddies.

What a beautiful Memorial Day morning. As I sat on our back patio reading my bible and drinking my morning coffee the realization of all who sacrificed everything for the freedoms I was enjoying in that very moment was overwhelming. There are so many to whom I owe my humble gratitude Jesus, American soldiers, my parents… My attention then turned to my furry friends who had joined me. Our small dachshund /Lhasa Apso mix dog in the chair beside me and our three legged wonder Yellow Lab dog lying beneath my chair.
Our little dog tends to be more of the family annoyance. She is an extremely selfish and nervous creature. She would eat until she literally exploded. She seeks opportunities to steal any kind of snack from anyone not paying close enough attention. Snappy and grumpy if she is not getting her way her selfishness, her looks of paranoia, and nervous habits often tend to be the center of family jokes. Her choice human happens to be me and she only seems content when near me and/or eating.
Our sweet rescue dog is quite the opposite. Her quiet and peaceful demeanor has made her a true family dog. Completely unselfish in her love and affection for the entire family she shows pure gratitude toward anyone who cares to rub her belly or scratch behind her ears. Her patience with the little dog amazes me. At times I have observed her leave a few bites in her bowl of food for the little one to devour. It took the work of four families to rescue this precious pet. That is a whole other story of God’s timing that I will share sometime.
When the time comes that the little dog passes I am quite sure that I will be the only one to shed a tear for her. Her lack of affection for others and selfishness has not made a great impact on this family. On the other hand when our sweet three legged wonder passes there will be great mourning in the Lucas household.
It is amazing to me how we as humans will feel the loss and mourn for lives of ones who truly loved and led lives of sacrifice for others. When a selfish power hungry dictator, politician, or shrewd businessman departs from this life there actually may be a celebration instead of mourning. Our human response is so amazing in that we long for love and selflessness yet the attitude of do what is best for “me” overpowers and most often prevails.
Jesus was the ultimate example of God’s love. He demonstrated the perfect life of selflessness and sacrifice. The bible clearly provides the knowledge and wisdom of salvation from our selfish tendencies. God’s word reveals the true source of love. Often as I observe the world the two things that seem most hated are Jesus and the Word of God. Maybe like our little dog the world is so content in its self- absorption that there is a nervous fear of letting go of the self -made prison. We miss out on such a blessing in this life when we focus on ourselves instead of others. When we trust in Jesus and turn our selfishness over to Him the love he pours into our hearts is indescribable. Our little dog misses the blessing of enjoying the whole family in her little anxious world. Our three legged dog has this love thing down pat. Don’t let the opportunity to allow Christ’s love to fill your heart pass you by. There is tremendous freedom in giving Jesus more of my selfishness and allowing him to replace it with love. Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There are so many verses on human selfishness and on God’s love. It is hard to pick just one or two.

Life’s Great Coach

soccer player
As another school year and spring soccer season wind down it seems I can’t help but reflect. My mind keeps thinking of the growth of my own children and others that are growing alongside them in their schools, church, and activities. There has been a lot of parental growth for my husband and I as well. Both of our girls love the sport of soccer the youngest child has been the most consistent in her love and heart for the sport so I am going to use her as the example although we have learned so much through both of them. The oldest daughter has probably taught us patience most of all as we have given her opportunities and have waited to see what she becomes passionate about.
Our eleven year old daughter has consistently played soccer and her like for the sport has turned into a love. A few years ago it was as if a light switch had turned on illuminating a heart and drive to do her best while playing soccer. The tears that were shed with any bump or fall turned into a determination to not be pushed around any longer. The biggest clue that she was maturing in toughness was during an indoor soccer game where her hand became the sandwich meat between the turf and an opposing team player’s cleat. She got up with the look of searing pain on her face. As her mother I was braced for the tears that I thought for sure were to come. They never did. She shook her hand and held it a bit, but when the referee asked if she needed out she shook her head “no”. A look of determination erased the look of pain and she continued to play a well fought game. After the game she ran up to where I was standing and with a light hearted laugh raised three very bruised fingers for me to see. From that point she definitely earned my respect by displaying a matured toughness and resilience.
A lesson for my husband and I has been that we really need to keep our mouths shut. That we should sit back and encourage, but remember the sport is for fun, exercise, and learning to be a team player. It is so very hard when it seems at times the referee is wearing a blindfold or the parents from the opposing team’s voices grate on nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard. Sometimes she will have an off day and we have to remember that we have off days too with work and most definitely as parents. Just recently my husband and daughter had a conversation in which she basically told him that he was wasting his air coaching her from the side lines. She said “I am listening to my coach and teammates I cannot listen to you too.” She has told us that the “way to go’s” are encouraging and ok. This made me think and pray that in life she will listen to life’s true coach, God. If at times we as parents are conflicting with God’s plan or drowning out His voice I pray that they will both have the same determination to focus on Him and not us. I pray that we will be the encouragement on the sidelines in life and provide every opportunity for our children to follow God’s plan. Sometimes I wonder if soccer will be part of the plan or if they will walk away from it. Will He send one or both of our children to a faraway country to teach others about Jesus with soccer as the platform? It may be a direction that we have not even a hint of now. Only time will tell as we see His plan unfold.
Another lesson is that our children’s successes are not about us. It is about them and God’s life for them. We should always have the open mind and ability to allow them to walk away from opportunities even when we see potential. God will lead them and put a passion in their heart for the direction He wants them to take. The sport has taught a lot about trying to keep a balance between God, family, and activities. We continually have to do a value check making sure soccer is not becoming an idol and keep the proper perspective. Soccer is fun to watch, but watching them grow in their relationships with and love for Jesus has been the greatest blessing. I pray they will always listen to Life’s greatest coach!
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Dresses, gifts, and raising daughters


What I am sharing today I wrote back in December of 2013 regarding a dance and dress during the fall of my oldest daughter’s eighth grade year. Looking back at her growth and maturity over the last nearly fourteen years I am in awe of what amazing work God can do. God continues to reveal so much of Himself to me through the process of raising children. It is a feat that I cannot imagine trying to tackle without God and His word to rely on. Her appreciation over her dress for her end of the year eighth grade dance brought this writing to mind and I thought I would share on the blog.

The mystery of the dress that has been a minor irritation to me for the last three months from having first laid eyes on the thing has come to a close. The dress bought for the eighth grade fall ball at the middle school that at the very last minute the thirteen year old decided not to attend. The dress that I watched get tossed onto our church gymnasium floor after tediously ironing its sheer material, the dress that we thought was left in Carbondale, left on the bus, or discarded in the trash. The dress that the daughter saw for weeks in the chorus room and never spoke up to claim it because it was not convenient to carry it straight to lunch from chorus. After the teenage daughter who is learning and has so much more to learn finished her chorus concert tonight, mom walked with said daughter up to the chorus teacher to ask about the dress. Mystery solved and a prayer I had when the dress first went missing was answered. Due to the fact the dress was never claimed she finally gave it away. A young girl had asked if she could have it because no one had claimed it. I told the teacher that I had hoped that it went to someone who really needed it and she assured me vocally as well as the look on her face assured me that the young girl did indeed need it. I would have rather Michaela saw a need and had given it away herself. Now my prayer is that she has learned a lesson about responsibility, gratitude, appreciation, and generosity. I had asked her how she would feel if some day she had a daughter that she had worked hard to earn money to buy her a dress and the daughter was careless and not appreciative of the gift. She stated that she would be mad. It makes me think of how God must feel for His One and only Son Jesus to be rejected. A free gift of life, eternal salvation, unaccepted and underappreciated by so many. The gift of the ultimate sacrifice who left the glory of heaven to endure temptation, sorrow, and pain as we face. Who took the payment for our sins by dying the most horrific death on the cross. To prove that He is God by rising again just as He said and as God had told the prophets of the Old Testament He would do. The dress itself has not been the true frustration. It has been the desire to raise gracious, appreciative, responsible, and generous children and seeing the sacrifices and lessons taught go unappreciated. We all make mistakes and have to learn and grow as I know my daughter will learn from this. Parenting continues to teach me more and more of the ways of God. Parenting teaches me to appreciate the most amazing gift that I ever have or will receive. The gift of eternal life through my Savior Jesus is the most precious part of my life. He is showing me daily just how amazing that gift of grace and mercy is. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Motherhood, a Toddler, and a Drumset

My first perspective of motherhood of course came from watching and learning from my own mother. She is a tiny lady of four feet and ten inches in stature. Anyone who knows her I am sure would describe her as having a joyful peace about her. Rarely speaking a stern word you know she means business if it is required of her. Her sacrificial and unconditional love can only be outdone by the sacrifice and unconditional love of Jesus Himself. Always giving and putting others first especially when it came to her husband, two daughters, and now grandchildren. There is strength about her that keeps her pressing on even within her sorrow in life. Having lost her own mother at the young age of eleven and now recently her best friend and soul mate, my father, has not taken her eyes off of what God wants for her. She has never been one to wallow in self-pity and regret. God has packed an immense amount of His love and power into the little woman he provided as my mother.
The second perspective has been becoming a mother myself. There is a significant learning curve required to learn about your own self and for each child God blesses one with. Overcoming one’s selfish tendencies is a major hurdle. Waking up in the night, physical pains, and fatigue are actually minor in comparison to what I am speaking of. There is an element of selfishness that a parent may have in wanting their child to make themselves look good. This can present itself in many ways by how much we fuss over the child’s outward appearance, sports, activities, academics, etc… The first lesson I remember as a parent in realizing my child is their own person that God created and not who I create them to be came when my first born was around the age of two. Full of energy the child never walked she ran everywhere and usually on her tippy toes. At times she was like trying to catch a greased pig and could whip in and out through obstacles quicker than I could spit out her name. One particular church service sticks in my mind. It was actually a revival service with a guest pastor. We were in the season of potty training. Potty training alone presented a huge power struggle between she and I. My daughter decided she needed to go potty right at the start of the sermon. Motherhood frustration switch now turned on. Quietly sneaking out we get to the restroom and the “never mind mom I didn’t really need to go” took place. Motherhood frustration level kicked up another degree. As we entered the sanctuary the speedy darling took off like a rocket escaping my grasping fingertips. Her eyes had focused on the huge set of shiny drums on stage. Oh yes, she ran right up onto that stage as the guest pastor was mid sermon. Motherhood frustration was in full effect now causing me to want to shrink into a hole and disclaim her as being my responsibility. I went into what seemed to be a soundless time warp as I tried coaxing her off of the stage without causing much further distraction. From what I was told she hit a ba dump dump ching on the drums fitting just at the end of one the guest pastor’s sentences as if he just told a great one liner joke. Our church thought it was absolutely hilarious. At that point in time I found no humor in it. There was just this lively two year old that I felt was my responsibility to control and I couldn’t.
The third and greatest perspective of motherhood has been God’s word. Through the years God has intertwined His scriptures along with personal experiences. His word teaches me that it isn’t about controlling my children, but about controlling me. To provide them with an earthly example of a woman who is far from perfect, but seeks her answers from God. To love them with Christ-like love no matter what the circumstances. It has become my desire for them to see my imperfections and to have a humble reaction to them so they know that there is only one that is truly perfect, Jesus. My desire is for them to keep their eyes focused on Him with their lives. At the age of two my daughter’s eyes were focused on the drum set. It was a funny moment looking back. It taught this mom to relax more, pick my battles, and to realize that an imperfect person cannot raise perfect children. We are all sinners and we all will make our own mistakes. Now I find that my desire is for my girls to focus on Jesus and to burst toward Him with rocket like speed breaking from the grasp of my fingertips and example. Their lives are about them and their relationship with God. He will give their lives the greatest ba dump dump CHING!!!! Deuteronomy 4:9 “Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

A Father’s Affirmation

“You did a good job sweetie!” “ Your flowers look nice babe!” “Your dad loves you and is very proud of you.” This week as I have been working on the yard I have realized how much I have always looked forward to showing my work or accomplishments to my dad. Whether planting flowers in the yard or painting a room in the house I could hardly wait for the opportunity to show my dad the finished product. To me he was the expert and of course the very best. He was the best gardener, painter, handy man, carpenter, and was my expert consultation with questions regarding God’s word.
Grief has overcome at times while working as memories of helping him plant gardens and flowers during my childhood flood my mind. My father taught me to love nature on our many walks and hikes we took. He taught me to always admire and respect God’s creation. There has been an outpouring of gratefulness within my soul with the realization of how blessed my life has been to have been given consistent affirmation of a father. Living in a time where the family unit is no longer considered to be important, so much of the world’s children grow up fatherless. So many children are raised by a single mother who struggles to fill both roles of mother and father. Some grow up knowing that they have been rejected by their father. Some fathers are around, but live in their own selfish worlds never really knowing the children that live under the same roof. So many idols can consume a father. Work, alcohol, friends, sports, cars, motorcycles, hunting the list goes on and on of what can distract a man from fatherhood.
The affirmation my father gave me has taught me even more how to look forward to the affirmation from my Heavenly Father. To strive to please God in everything I do. During my early years I focused on “self” and tried to please the world around me. Now honestly the opinion of others doesn’t matter in comparison to what God thinks. I can never please everybody all the time. I can actually please God all the time by continuously seeking His guidance. By leaving my heart and mind open to Him at all times. Sure I will mess up from time to time, but He continues to help me see my mistakes and seek His forgiveness. As I looked forward to “Well done” from my earthly father how much greater is my anticipation to one day hear “Well done my good and faithful servant, my child, my daughter.” from my Heavenly Father.
Matthew 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Romans 8:17 “Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”

Detox of body, mind, and spirit

This past year has been the greatest journey of my life by way of learning true freedom from me. February of 2013 about a month before turning forty I woke up one Wednesday morning feeling like there was a butcher knife sticking in my neck. Having had neck problems for a while a previous MRI had revealed four bulging discs and spinal stenosis. I figured I may have actually ruptured a disc and that ibuprofen and neck exercises would pull me through as in the past. The next week I was off work and had planned to paint both of my daughter’s bedrooms. Another lesson in life that I can make all the plans I want, but life is a continuous game of dodge ball and at times we are hit and have to sit out of the game for a while altering our plans. As Monday rolled around the neck had only grown worse I called my doctor and got an appointment that day. The next day I was getting MRIs of my neck and lower lumbar spine per my request due to lower back pain as well. It was what started happening that night that has truly changed my course in life in so many ways. That night I was sitting on the couch and both of my legs knee down went completely numb. As the week went on the numbness traveled all over like there was a slithering snake going up and down my arms and legs and the snake would rest on a foot or a hand for a while then move again. In the meantime there were muscle twitches and what felt like knives stabbing me randomly all over. By Friday it felt like someone had rubbed copious amounts of Ben-Gay from the top of my head to the tip of my toes on the entire left side of my body. The right side was in terrible pain and at times it felt like my arm and leg on that side had been crushed in a vise. For months I had subtle symptoms that I had ignored. Often there would be a tight cool sensation of being squeezed around my chest. The squeeze would take my breath away a bit. It was uncomfortable but I was certain it wasn’t a heart attack so I just went on. Not having heard back from my doctor about the MRI reports I called that Friday and tried to explain to the office what was happening with all the crazy numbness. He was not in the office and they told me I would have to go to the emergency room. Knowing I needed to return to work on Monday I was starting to feel helpless and decided if it was worse the next morning I would go to the ER. Saturday I could not stand on my left leg. That leg had turned into a spaghetti noodle. We drove to a St Louis ER because I knew the testing I would need would not be available in our small town. Lab work and a brain MRI were inconclusive as to what was happening. They gave me the much needed IV steroids and a prescription for oral steroids that I do believe were beneficial. My own doctor, now this physician, and the next two doctors I saw tried to give me prescriptions for narcotic pain medications that I flat out turned down. Being able to deal with the pain on my own that was just a road I did not even want to set one foot on. What I wanted was answers and each direction I turned there were none. The ER physician looked me in the eye as I left and said what is happening to you is not being caused by your neck, you have something else going on. The something else was something she could not explain. Next week my physician then referred me to a neurosurgeon due to the herniated disc, but still could give no help for this nervous system that was completely spiraling out of my control. Off the record I had asked physician friends and it was suggested that there was probably something auto immune happening. The top of the list matching my symptoms was MS and that is what the ER physician was trying to rule out. It was the day before my birthday that I got into the neurosurgeon he was the kindest of all the doctors. He said that as he looked at my MRIs, read my symptoms, and then with my neuro assessment that he was highly suspicious of Multiple Sclerosis. Every doctor that looked at the MRI said that the disc in my neck could not be causing all the numbness. He promptly referred me to a MS neurologist who got me in early that next week and I just so happened to have a low census day from work a God thing yet again. So far through this ordeal I had never had to call off work which made me extremely grateful. My walk was a limp and somehow helping to relieve the pain of others helped me to cope with my own pain. The MS specialist literally rolled her eyes at me when she entered the exam room. She asked “Why were you referred to me when you have no scars on your MRI?” This sent me into another whirl of helplessness as I had no control over whom and what kind of physician I was being tossed to next. I simply stated well I guess due to my symptoms and started to explain to her what all had been happening. She responded with more eye rolls, sighs, and statements like “Well that is not my specialty!” I asked her what about metal toxicities like mercury? She again rolled her eyes and said “That is over rated.” She stated you clearly are having trouble with that left leg so I will order some lab work and see you in three months. Needless to say I left there very frustrated. The medical field I had spent all of my adult life working in had completely let me down. There was something terribly wrong and for someone who exercised didn’t smoke or drink thinking I was taking care of myself I was left in a state of confusion. God and I had many conversations through this ordeal. The specific one I remember was that God if my body is to become my prison that is ok I still want to serve you. Remembering how the majority of the New Testament written by Paul was written while he was in prison. I knew that God had a bigger plan and for some reason He needed to change my course somehow. One of my prayers was also that if there is a way to have healing I really would love to continue to serve others. I asked God to please not keep me on this earth if I cannot give back in some way. He continued to provide peace and His presence was overwhelmingly evident during this time of pain and confusion. As the lab work rolled in normal test after normal test I finally decided I am done with doctors and expensive tests that were leading nowhere. Having heard of hair analysis studies there was a local office that focused on holistic care and I had heard that I could send off a hair study through them. As I started digging in doing my own research the answers I kept finding that the way to healing was through food. It took those three weeks of waiting for the study to come back for me to start to prepare myself mentally to change our family’s lifestyle regarding how we eat. When the results came back sure enough my body chemistry was completely off balance, I was malnourished, my cells were starving for the proper balance of nutrients needed. The analysis reflected that every organ in my body was suffering and that I was heading to many chronic diseases, MS, diabetes, hypo-thyroidism, osteoporosis, and cancer to name a few. One of the greatest culprits was toxicity in Copper. This one simple very inexpensive test explained all the health problems I had been having over the last decade from stomach, skin, to the current issues. As I was handed a diet plan of basically eating meat and vegetables there was a determination when walking out of that door that day that this was a new day and a new life. It made sense to me that all the preservatives I had been eating with quick meals had sent my body into a frenzy of fighting off all the foreign chemicals. God had placed plants and animals that eat plants on this earth as food for us. He created us and the proper food to sustain us and heal us. All the synthetic man made products our bodies actually view as poison. This is how I had to start looking at those foods. They are poison and were killing me with a long slow painful death. The first goal was to follow strictly for one month. My family could still make their own choices, but what foods were actually going to be in our home were going to only be preservative free. By the end of the month I felt better than I had in years. This determined that we now had a new way of life. Food had controlled me more than I ever realized. I loved candy, ice cream, cereals, and breads these things were addictive to me and never left me satisfied. My friend and I with birthdays near Easter always had bought each other sweet tarts ducks and chicks and other candies as gifts. Literally I would start to eat them and often would not stop till they were gone and I was left with a raw mouth. The sugar triggered a reaction in my brain and I just wanted more and more and more. With having rid my body of these foods and not having them at all I actually had no desire for them. Food was more of a distraction in life with continuous glucose peaks and valleys. It was distracting me from God, my family, and my purpose more than I ever knew until I felt so much better. This is an experience of pain that I am so grateful for in my life. Through this experience I have learned more and more of riding my mind, heart, thoughts, and body of what is toxic. As food can bring toxicity to our body, thoughts bring toxicity to our minds, and what we put in our bodies and minds can bring toxicity to our very soul. It is a daily journey and discipline and some days I am better than others. It is a discipline that requires me to continuously focus on God. His strength is the only way to be able to fight off the constant temptations of the world. I look at the bad foods as poisons and learning my weaknesses God is teaching me to think of my sin as poison to my soul. Everyone has different weaknesses and only God can show us what is truly controlling us and stealing our joy that He so very much wants to give us. Now the detox itself was painful at times as my body rid itself of toxins and bacteria. I had a sore throat and a cough for about two months as all the impurities pulled out from deep tissues. The same goes for detoxing spiritually. Sometimes it hurts to rid ourselves of old habits, friends or places that tempt us, and thought processes. The end result is amazing for both our body and our spirit! By the way I cancelled the three month appointment with the MS neurologist. She said she would be happy to see me if I ever develop scars shown by any brain MRIs in the future. It has been just over a year and there is just a hint of numbness when I am super tired. The small reminder of what God has brought me through is welcomed. This year as I turned forty one we buried my sweet father and said our earthly goodbyes to him on my birthday. Yet again I find that God’s presence and grace is literally sustaining me. Birthdays in my forties so far are very far from happy. The wisdom and deeper relationship with Jesus through the trials has been priceless. I have no idea what forty two will bring, but God knows and He will continue to provide His peace and presence. He will continue to cleanse me from all that distracts me from Him. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”