Resisting Resignation.

I have views from Thailand and Belgium today, man, it blows my mind how many countries get represented on this site.

Also, yesterday marked my 9th week of not drinking coffee, after drinking it nearly every day for several years, my family is amazed I did it. It takes 9 weeks to either completely break or build a habit.

And I’ve not been feeling any healthier, honestly. Yesterday I woke up and had one of my mysterious gagging episode, with nausea and neck tightness and back pain. Best guess so far is GERD, but my chiropractor thinks I have pinched nerves, and it’s true, stretching my muscles does seem to help. More fun from having a misaligned spine for so long, all my internal organs got squished together, fun.

My church had a healing service last night, and I got some prayer, the lady must have had a word of knowledge, she prayed for my intestines, neck, head, and even brain, not the usual guess for headaches.

I know many people view Faith Healing as one of the biggest scams of the evangelical/Pentecostal/charismatic church. And I agree there are some real frauds out there, and you will always find frauds whenever anything can get you fame and fortune.

And I’ve never really been healed all in one go either. I’ve wanted it, but it’s not the path I’ve been given so far. Though that may change.

But I still believe in it. I’ve met people personally at my church who got healed, we get reports of cancer being gone and other problems too all the time.

One can believe it was all a misdiagnosis, but after the 20th time, you just start to find that a flimsy excuse.

God truly does heal. At my church we know it does not always happen right away, my pastor says he’s known it to be one or two weeks after the initial prayer, my mom’s read of it being 1 or 2 years.

It does not seem to matter too much. We know that the answer to prayer can be delayed, both the book of Daniel and the New Testament say so. For different reasons.

So, if you were wondering, no, I don’t feel 100% today. I feel better than yesterday, thankfully. Yesterday morning I woke up and couldn’t eat, today I ate a bit, usually it’s worse in the mornings and by night I can eat an almost normal meal, like Morning Sickness. Or else I just get so hungry I don’t care anymore.

Half my sick feeling is usually not eating, and I’m working on controlling that, but I am very tired of feeling this way, it all started about a year ago, the first time I had a gagging episode, but I’ve had nausea spells, cramps, and neck pain for most of my life.

I thought my spine realigning would make it better, I was already doing better, and I thought for sure, decreasing the amount of stress on my neck, head, and back would get rid of the tension causing my episodes. My sister massaging my back has often provided some relief, so I thought a professional, definitely.

Instead it was worse than before, I gagged longer, and felt really sick. True, it didn’t last more than 20 minutes or so, and my stomach felt better after a bit of massaging. My chiropractor even walked me through a few things over the phone that seemed to help, though my hunger still upset my stomach. Towards dinnertime I felt almost back to normal, and I actually ate a real meal. This morning I didn’t feel nearly as bad. Good, right?

I have a doctor’s appointment in a few hours to try to find out more about this problem, see the likely solution, and if I can make it better for myself.

I was told, however, not to rely on doctors or medicine, but that God would do a miraculous healing. Which I have been begging for, I hate doctors (not personally, just going) I hate medicine. I used to take pain meds almost every day while suffering stress headaches (which were actually misalignment headaches, in hindsight) and eye strain, and I got to where I felt I was taking it way too much, and it wasn’t even working that well, so I began trying massages, stretches, tea, heating pads, anything natural, and it worked, usually I can get an ache to leave in a few hours if I’m not hormonal (then it’s always harder) with the right treatment.

I always think too, what if one day you have no access to medicine? It’d be much better to know what else to do, wouldn’t it? What did people do before medication? Believe it or not, they were not generally unhealthier than we are now, they just had more diseases without vaccines, and when they need surgery it wasn’t available, so they did die ore, but they didn’t always suffer from the same infirmities more than we do. They had natural remedies that more and more people now are finding work better than medication anyway.

If anything, professional help has added problems to me, I never had jaw aches and headache because of my teeth before I got braces and my jaw line was changed, it still bothers me now, my chiropractor told me my jaw is also out of alignment due to my neck. OF course, no orthodontist ever brought that up, and I even went to one to consult for the headaches. No one said “Oh, if your neck is messed up, your jaw might be pulling on it wrong and causing headaches, sorry we didn’t tell you that before treating you.”

I mean, really, we should require neck evaluations before we make people wear braces or even glasses, because those muscles both on your teeth and eyes, and those things won’t fix all of it. The average Chiropractor visit is still cheaper than either an orthodontist or an eye doctor, figure it out Health Department.

I get it, chiropractors are seen as jokes by many doctors, I read one saying “Don’t ever let those buggers touch you above your neck.”

Well, mine is a full body health specialist, so he’s a bit different, he didn’t jerk my neck or anything crazy. But hey, it’s your fault if you don’t look up who you’re going to before you do.

What I like about the chiropractic option is it relies on your body’s ability to heal itself. Some doctors, bless them, do also take that approach, but many treat the body as a malfunctioning organ that they just need to pump with meds and alter with surgery, and replace parts of, and all that is never gong to work as well as what God designed. 3D printed bones still don’t come close to God’s original, you know why? Our bones produce blood cells, white and red.

I don’t want to get surgery, I can’t afford surgery anyway.

And I don’t want the option some physicians say “Just live with it.” I hate that response, especially from a doctor. I mean, it’s like “Uh, jackass, if you don’t know how to help me, can you suggest a specialists? A nutritionist maybe, don’t just tell me to live with it! What kind of doctor says that!”

Sheesh. Well, no one’s ever told me that, but I read stories.

I believe almost nothing is incurable. Just that cures for many things have been forgotten because chemicals and minerals solve everything now.

And let’s not forget how many toxins we put on our own food now. My family tries to buy healthier stuff at farmer’s markets, but we can’t avoid every pesticide and GMO.

Some people think that certain chemicals in the food are supposed to make us more compliant, I don’t really buy that, but it freaks me out that many food corporations require GMO products and pesticides in their food.

Luckily, where I live, if you’ve got a greenhouse, you can grow anything, all year round, so I don’t really experience the “out of season” problem even with local food, though it does ripen differently depending on the month.

Anyway, that was a tangent, but someone actually asked my about it in my French class, and it is related to health, especially digestive health, like mine, though digesting the food seems fine for me, it’s just eating it.

I’ve told my family that sometimes, for me, even eating is an act of faith. I can feel so ill, and be so afraid of immediately throwing the food back up, that I don’t even want to try.

Let me stress, that’s never actually happened, I’ve probably thrown up less than 20 times in my entire life, and only once did I throw up more than 2 or 3 times while I was actually sick. My stomach functionally seems to be fine, but I’ve always feared doing it. Like I see it as some kind of ultimate defeat.

I know, it’s strange. Throwing up can be a result of so many non serious things, like over eating, over heating, over exercising, etc. that it’s not like I should treat it as a sign I’m dying, but I loathe being nauseated. And this fear makes me do things to end up more nauseated, see how that works? The vicious cycle is again my real problem.

I hope I didn’t gross you out too much, I mean, this is my life, this is what I deal with. I probably don’t seem like that kind of person in writing, I tend to write with more confidence than I actually think I have.

Plus, up until the last year and a half, I wouldn’t have thought of myself as still having this problem, I thought I was over it, till I had to deal with it all the time.

What I really hate is how it steals my joy. I know a girl who’s been dealing with stomach problems for probably 3 years now, and she is still able to be happy and cheerful, at least at church, which perhaps is not saying much but it’s more than I can be when I feel bad. I can never hide it.

Still, and this is the most important part of this post, if you’ve read this far, thanks for listening to my life story here 🙂

but the most imporant thing, is I have realized I have certain blessings I never knew I had before, because of feeling so bad.

My family has been very supportive of helping me find new things to try eating and drinking to help. Paying for doctor visits, since my income is still under $100 a week, if that much. Massaging my aching muscles. Sometimes I’m not very grateful, but I shudder to think what going through this alone would have been like.

There are times I take out my frustration on them, but it’s gotten a lot less, it takes a lot more to really get under my grill than it used to, so I guess my patience has increased.

Another change has simply been I don’t get mad at God. I do get frustrated, I have times of asking Him why this is taking so dang long, why I feel this way, and of begging Him to tell me what to do–and sometimes, He does. God is the best physician after all. Nothing too elaborate, just to eat, to go to the doctor, to not go, etc.

I know for some people who live 20 years with the same problem the idea of going one year and getting frustrated must seem pathetic..or it doesn’t, because maybe at one time, they questioned it and were discouraged.

But honestly, for most of us, myself included, it never occurred to us to question it.

I never really found my stomach and neck problems frustrating, until I found out they might be fixable. Some of you know what I mean, once you know, it’s a thousand times harder to be patient. Resignation is such a powerful killer of restlessness.

And when God tells you to rest, without becoming resigned, it’s freaking hard.

Seriously, there are times I just wish I could give up on the idea of getting better, and try to cope. To say to myself “well, I know there’s nothing I can do about it, so I’ll just have to sit this one out, lie in bed all day, and that’s okay.” It’s not like it’s not tempting, isn’t it? Sometimes even emotionally, we’d like to do that.

But if the reality is, there is something I can do. I can try to find a way. I can believe there is a way, to be better, then aren’t I cheating myself if I resign myself to illness?

From dizzy spells, to stomach problems, to back pain, to skin problems, people accept stuff they don’t really have to live with. We think it’s too expensive, or too much work, or we’re just plain scared.

I relate to all of that. But I will say after months of suffering, you start to feel like none of those reasons are worth it.

So, yes, I’m still going to try.

One more thing, there is something that I’ve done, more because I had to or go insane with self pity, than because I just want to be positive,

But I had to start looking at what I could do.

Did I feel too sick to do everything I normally do today? Maybe, but did I manage to get schoolwork done? Did I write? Did I read? Did I make a YouTube video? Did I manage to run a short errand like buying apples or getting gas.

Most importantly, did I still worship God today? Did I read my Bible?

That’s the real goal of all this stuff, separation from God, and if I don’t give in to that, ultimately, it failed, even if I still felt like crap, but usually, I feel at least a tiny bit better after worship. Scientifically, it boosts your immune system, and I believe releases endorphins.

Anyway, this has been along post (I miss my word count, still don’t know hoe to use it on the new editor) so I’m going to end it here, I hope you got something out of it, until next time–Natasha.

As Good as it Gets (Aligning or Misalignment)

Well, I’ve had another eye opening week.

I didn’t mention this last time I posted, because I didn’t want to talk about it, but I was dealing with some contracted, tight and sore muscles in some hard to understand areas of my body.

Finally, after about 2 weeks of it, I was fed up, ready to give up, and I decided to get up and go to the Chiropractor. My first time ever, but my parents both went to him and liked him, so I went.

And boy was I sorry I didn’t go sooner.

Turns out I had a crooked tailbone, back, shoulders, and neck. My whole body was at a tilt, pushing my back bones up at an angle. Causing the lower back pain, leg pain, and rib pain I’ve had for years.

For extra fun my brain was getting constricted by the nerves, muscles, and bones at the base of my skull getting knocked off balance by walking for years with uneven legs and shoulders. A condition that can affect mood and the spinal cord…

Yeah, and I couldn’t point my feet out, but I’ve never been able to do that.

Since I was born I moved strangely, a lot of babies get spine injuries while being born. I never crawled right, and I used to walk crooked and bent over. I now stand straighter, but I couldn’t make my feet go straight. Made ballet class real fun. I never liked it.

I’ve never liked working out, and I never could run very far, or stand for very long without my back and legs starting to hurt a lot, and my feet.

People have blamed me for this in the past. My singing instructor thought I should stand still, but it was too physically uncomfortable. I was told I needed more stamina. But even when I was the most fit, it was never the same. When I ran I’d get a stitch must faster than most people usually do.

And I always leaned to one side. Turns out one of my legs was like an inch shorter than the other, just from muscles and bones being out of place.

I get frequent headaches and neck aches, that sometimes seem to cause gagging, and stress me out.

For ages I assumed all this was because I don’t take care of myself, or I’m not fit, or I have weak eyes…or I was just born that way ad couldn’t change it.

But turns out all of it is fixable, over a short period of time. After just two sessions, I can stand and walk in a straight line, I’ve never done that in my memory!

There are some drawbacks. Relieving the pressure and realigning my body has left me with soreness all over, and I got a headache from having my skull adjusted but my neck not enough. I feel better after the second visit, but it may take a few more to finish fixing it, and until then I am likely to still have pain and difficulty adjusting.

But it’s better to hurt because you are healing then because everything is staying the same.

I’m young enough to recover from all this before it created problems like bone loss, according to my chiropractor, but had I waited longer, these problems could have affected my ability to have sex and give birth. Maybe not fatally, but it would have increased the pain and difficulty. Perhaps even given me trouble getting pregnant.

It was scary to hear how narrow an escape I had from far worse consequences. But a blessing to have found a way to heal, far more than I ever thought I would.

I learned a lot from these visits. I am an inquisitive person so I ask questions, my doctors usually love me, an intelligent, informed patient is much easier to work with because they are trying to get better.

I freely admit though, I was terrified to go. I was afraid it wouldn’t work, and I’d just be in more pain and frustration.

And since your pain can linger a while till you’re finished adjusting, I still have to choose to trust the process, to trust my chiropractor, and to believe God guided me to the next step. The idea to go came to me after I prayed to unlock a door to healing.

I know many people are like me, afraid of doctors, I know what it feels like to be afraid to even find out what’s wrong with you, and afraid to hear that they don’t know. (By the way, Urgent Care is crap for anything not a basic, common condition, they’ve helped me with infections, but anything else remotely complicated I’ve had to get other help, so don’t take their word for it if they don’t have a solution.)

I have a phobia about doctors. But I am working on overcoming it.

I was kind of upset that God would not just heal me, miraculously, and with a few lifestyle changes. Specialists are expensive.

But I think I see why God chose to do it this way. There are some people it doesn’t bother to seek help, and they get frustrated, and God heals them to show he is higher than Medicine.

But for me, the problem is not wanting to put enough value on my health to spend money and time on it, something that runs in my family. My father has all kinds of problems that he found got better with a few changes. My grandfather died of a myriad of conditions that could all probably have been prevented if 30 years prior he’d sought out help, he had the money for it.

I also have a grandmother who is a bit of a hypochondriac, and I’ve had that too, it’s much better now.

The point is, I had some very destructive attitudes about my body and health. I inherited the DNA to have the same problems as my family, but most of them could be fixed with a little effort.

And paying $100 a visit for 5-6 visits is still way better than a $30,000+ operation that I might need if I wait. Do the math. I don’t have health insurance, for me this is as good as it gets for pricing.

Let’s talk about that, actually. I watched the Jack Nicholson movie “As Good as it Gets” yesterday (also known as the only Jack Nicholson movie I will probably ever like him in, we’ll see.)

30 Minutes on: "As Good As it Gets" | MZS | Roger Ebert

About halfway through that movie, Melvin, the MC, asks a question that kind of sums up what the film is about “What if this is as good as it gets?”

He has obsessive compulsive disorder. He says and does things with little self control and offends everyone around him.

Also featured in the movie are two character who represent the other aspects of that questions.

Carol, a waitress with a sick son who she can’t afford to take to a specialist, and his constant emergency room visits and fever episodes are for her “as good as it gets.”

And then there’s… I think his name is Sean. Melvin’s neighbor, who’s art career is just not taking off, his parents are estranged form him, and he gets beaten up, robbed, and left in a cast by some addicts needing their fix. For him, it starts to look like his miserable life of failure is “as good as it gets.”

The movie’s solution to this question is to basically say your problems will not go away, but you can take steps to make them better, and in the end still be happy, because happiness doesn’t depend on having no problems, but on surmounting the ones you do have.

One later scene, Melvin bitterly says that it doesn’t bother you that you had it bad, but that other people had it good, and the other two disagree, basically saying it does bother them that they had it bad.

In the end, Melvin starts taking medication and trying to change because he learns he wants to be happier, Carol is able to move on from taking care of her son to letting someone take care of her, and Sean gains confidence that he can rely on friends and his life will eventually get back on track.

The answer being “as good as it gets” may mean “as good as you choose to aim for is what you will get.”

There are some people with chronic conditions that can’t do anything about it, though it’s rarely ever hopeless, and usually there are solutions we just can’t afford…

But the majority of us just give up. We do what my dad once said of his problem “you can just live with the pain.”

I’ve said that to myself. I’ve bargained with it, saying “if the pain could just decrease to this amount, I could live with it.”

But that’s never enough, what I really want is to be better. To be normal.

but the funny thing is about this and my emotional issues I sought help for, is that my normal was never normal.

Just like my body has been misaligned my whole life, my thoughts and feelings also were. It’s quite poetic… of course I believe our spiritual and mental reality affects our body. There’s too many coincidences for it not too.

For me, it’s a new normal, of being normal for the first time. I may finally be able to walk and run without being in pain, to bend my feet out, to crane my neck, for crying out loud.

Ironically, I’ve been told I have good movement in my body despite these problems, but I was never as flexible as my sisters, and I moved more stiffly. I walked more like my dad, who always had aches and soreness.

Just like I may become the happy, strong person I hope to be, and maybe deep down, I already am, but I got jacked up by having a messed up parent.

But in the future I may actually become flexible, it was just this problem holding me back.

The real challenge is not to accept that is has to be the way it is. And if anyone tells you it does, don’t listen to that person.

Really, the Bible itself would suggest we are our own biggest obstacle to healing, those who ask and seek receive.

Even if the woman with the issue of blood had it for 10 years, she got up out of her house and went looking for Jesus, and she got healed. She didn’t say to herself “I’ll just live with it…until I die.”

Commercials always say “Don’t wait for it to become a serious problem, get checked out now” and while it is to sell products, I admit it’s sound advice.

It may not be feasible to do that in every area of life, not all at once, but over time. The person keeping you from having an abundant life may really be you.

I know that many of us have other people who crate obstacles for us, and I acknowledge it’s more of a challenge, but I don’t believe it’s impossible, you can get out of that situation.

Anyone who can read this post and has internet access can reach out for help, where there’s a will there’s a way.

I think I’ll wrap this up now, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

An existential crisis and other things.

 I might like Evanescence…who knew?

Well, I got a job at last. Yay!

My performance anxiety is still kicking in over whether I can maintain this one, it’s pretty hard to mess it up, the first day went mostly smoothly, but I lost my last job because I dusted a bookcase wrong, so I realized anew how temperamental people can be. That’s unusually picky, but still…

Especially in childcare, it’s hard.

Oh yeah, so I am working as a Nanny. I prefer that word to babysitter, since technically, the parents are still at home (mostly the case right now) but a lot of people need extra help.

It’s funny to me because I was homeschooled by a stay-at-home Mom, and we rarely got a babysitter. My dad never taught us, and rarely was home with us alone, so My mom didn’t get a break very often, somehow she stayed sane and manged to cook us dinner.

Now, some things got let slide, I can’t say we were very neat kids, and we’d go through phases of fighting a lot. There’s three of us girls.

But even so, it wasn’t bad. We were always well behaved kids, usually, in public. Of course, our parents believed in spanking.

Now, it’s weird for me to go to work for other families, and no one spanks, many people have only one child, and don’t leave their kids alone ever. My mom used to let us play for hours outside or in our room unsupervised, she knew we wouldn’t try to do anything stupid.

Now even if parents are in the house, they want someone to watch their kids while they work. I guess I can understand that, my mom didn’t work, and now she works out of home, not the same thing. Though she did lots of volunteer stuff with us there, and she never found us distracting. Heck, she taught me to help out the adults and she didn’t mind if other people were watching us more than her. I never supposed that was unusual until I got older and found out it’s rare. Rare in my culture anyway, in some parts of the country that might be fairly standard.

I admit in the American West, it’s seen as good parenting to be constantly around your child, involved, attentive to their emotions, etc. In the Midwest or East, it can be more about the child becoming independent and sensible early on, not needing to be carried through life.

There’s something to be said for both, I’ve heard that in cultures where kids are coddled and held more, stress levels are lower later in life; but what comes with that is also a lack of independence from other people, free thinking, or willingness to break from your community even when it’s going the wrong way.

America’s emphasis on independence drove its citizens to become stronger on their own, if the community is less strong than in other countries, we always felt it was wroth it to be free and preserve our Moral Integrity. That’s going away, but it’s not bringing unity. We now have a belief in independence without the reasons independence was ever important.

In the end, the American Dream was originally that if you had to leave your family to follow your beliefs, you could, and the early Pilgrims recognized that Religion has to come over all else, if it’s going to be real. It’s part of Christian Doctrine not to love anything more than God.

I won’t say that’s a less stressful life, but God has never promised us a less stressful life, and stress is not always bad. It can be, but the right kind of pressure makes us into better people, more than anything else can.

I was thinking today how lately it’s hard for me to know what to say when someone asks me “How are you?”

How can I put “I think I’m good, but I don’t really know how I am one day to another, and I’m confused, and I’m up and down, and I’m great, and I’ve never been so strange to myself” into a glib response that someone will accept? 

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I feel like I’m having an existential crisis… and yet I’m not.

It’s funny, I’ve been questioning what does make my life worth it. I guess when you have intrusive thoughts about suicide, and you choose not to follow them, to reject that as being what you are, then the next logical step is to wonder why. What’s driving you? What’s making you different from thousands of people worldwide? What do you have that they don’t? Is it arrogant to think you can conquer a problem so many people fail to beat?

I know I can’t be the only one who feels that way. I remember when I read “Soul Surfer” Bethany Hamilton described wondering why it was her, but not in an angry way, just like she wanted to know the grander purpose of what happened to her. And it was weird to many people that she wasn’t more devastated.

What if your feelings just don’t make any sense?

Even my therapist can’t figure me out every time.

I remember one of the recent episodes of Fruits Basket (I will probably review that show once season 2 ends) had a moment where two characters met each other, and the curse of their family took hold. They felt “Beloved, Hated, Drawn, Repulsed” at the same time.

That’s so accurate to the life of a victim of abuse. Both toward your abuser and to the rest of life, you feel drawn and repelled at the same time. You love them, you hate them. You want more, you want nothing.

Abuse is perhaps the most contradictory kind of brokenness in the human experience, because the nature of it is to be contradictory, to combine love and hate in an unholy way that never should exist.

I love my Dad still, a lot, and don’t want him to suffer, yet I want him to feel the weight of what he did to me, even if it hurts him, and I don’t want to see him, or talk to him. What do you make of those feelings?

I want to live, but I don’t want to live the same way I always have. I do many things, but I don’t know why I’m really doing them anymore, I don’t know if I believe they matter to anyone in the long run. 

“Vanity, vanity, all is vanity” Ecclesiastes says.

I am a student, I am a blogger. I have a YouTube channel. I read, I write on average 10 pages a day by hand, I knit, I watch kids, I go to Church. I dance. I sing.

I have goals and dreams and things I want to do, and I wonder why I want to do them. Won’t the end be I’ll feel the same as I did before? Are they just escapes? Isn’t everyday life the only real experience I will ever have.

One of my favorite things about the Bible is how much it lacks false sentimentality. You won’t read the fairytale , wishful thinking mindset in the Bible. None of this “escape” stuff.

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When the Bible has heights, it claims those as fully real, as normal as the lows. When things are dull, the Bible records them as faithfully as when things are exciting. We have whole books of Laws, Numbers, and History. We have books of Spiritual Revelation. We have a book about sex that beats any porn crap, both pure and passionate. (Did you know the Bible had a book about sex? A lot of people don’t know that.)

The Bible sees everything as important, it treats life as a journey, I picked up that attitude and I’ve always been less discouraged in my life because of that.

I guess right now, I’ve just had doubts about whether the Bible is right. Is my life a journey? Or it is dull. Don’t thousands lives never go anywhere? (At least in our eyes).

You have to really learn that you can’t know everything, if you want to make it through life sane.

I recently reread Ecclesiastes all the way through, I noticed that what that book is about is how the World’s pleasures, and man’s own pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, do not satisfy us. They don’t make us happy. Indeed, the end sum of wisdom is realizing everything is empty. That’s why Eastern religions have their goal as to be removed from the world and other people, they have reached the pinnacle of man’s wisdom.

Yet it’s strange that the Preacher in Ecclesiastes says to still do our work, because it is what God has given us to do, even if there is no point in it, because good things happen to both the good and the wicked person, and so do bad things, and we can take nothing with us.

It wasn’t until Jesus, the only man wiser than Solomon, that we got the answer s to why God would have us still spend time on earthly things. Jesus told us that we could lay up treasure in heaven for ourselves by our faith and works here.

The Bible does not teach that we are saved by works, but that we are rewarded for them. We can be saved even if our works are empty, but it shows our faithfulness to God is they were of value. 

And of course, human beings are not earthly things, strictly speaking, and we need to be concerned about each other.

Still, there are times I feel I am failing even at that, that I’ve hit a dry place in my life where I have nothing to give, and no one would appreciate anything I have to say. Like I’m just using other people for life support, but am myself a vegetable, emotionally or spiritually speaking.

I don’t know how true that is, but I suppose even if it was, everyone has seasons like that.

What I think God wants of me is to decide that even if I see no point in anything I’m doing, I will trust him, because I know He does have a plan. And that’s all I need to know, I don’t need to know what it is.

And even if I am not doing any other thing worth doing, if I Love God, and He Loves Me, then life is still worthwhile. Like the end of “Groundhog Day” when every day is the same, he realizes, the only thing with lasting meaning is Love. Love isn’t bound by time, or repetition, or memory.This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is groundhog_day.jpg

Like with Mary of Bethany, it is better to sit at God’s feet and worship, then to be busy doing everything for Him, but nothing with Him.

It’s easy to write that, easy to tell people to do that, it is not easy at all to do it.

It is amazing how it can take the most strength to be still.

Again, all the most true things are the ones we’ve heard so many times and just never understood the meaning of.

Maybe it was good for me to realize all this now. Rather than chase these things for decades of my life only to understand at the very end why they didn’t matter without God’s purpose.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Lost in The Fire.

Well, the Oh Hellos released a new EP, and my Dad’s house burned down, so it’s been interesting since I last posted.

My dad wasn’t in it, thankfully. But he was pretty shook, as we say now.

Right now, it’s the third day of me waking up and seeing a yellow sky out my bedroom window. It’s so weird, like a post-apocalyptic teen movie. I guess there’s a strange beauty in it, and for a wonder, it’s been much cooler. I find it ironic that a fire burning had made it cooler, but one man’s loss is another man’s gain.

Fire does make rain too, so maybe in a few weeks we’ll reap some much needed benefits from this, but for now, no one is seeing it as a good thing.

People always say living on the West Coast is scary because of earthquakes, but the wildfires and arson every year are actually the biggest problem for us, way more than earthquakes.

Strange, my dad’s house was in danger a couple weeks back, but we prayed, and the wind actually changed direction just like we asked. So this time around, I didn’t even think about him being in danger of losing it.

When the ash starts falling down here in the valley, we know the fire is too close for comfort, even if we’re out of reach of it.

Falling Ash – Sam's Online Journal

I can’t explain why my dad’s house got spared once only to burn down two weeks later. Anymore than I can explain why Anne Frank made it to the allies winning the war, but still died in a Nazi prison camp.

In the fan fiction I write, I actually just had a fire happen in the story, literally af ew days before this, and was having the characters deal wtih the aftermath, asking some of the same questions that we’re aasking in real life now.

Why?

And what is the point?

When we get one miracle, sometimes it almost feels like mockery, especially if later we still lose the thing. Why get it longer at all? Why raise false hopes?

The Bible has examples of that too, the Israelites win one battle, lose the next. Get saved from their enemies, and years later, get taken captive. God warns them, but they probably were still confused, since when did they ever listen to the prophets, after all.

It could be that our idea that because we were saved once, we automatically will be saved the next time is actually foolish and not one God tells us to have.

God promises to always protect us, but not that it will look the way we want it to. Not that we will never lose anything.

Indeed, most of the Psalms is the author praying for emotional protection and protection from sinning, as well as physical protection.

There’s pretty much zero chance my dad will read this blog, (or listen to me, after all,) but I wonder if he’s thinking that all this just means he can’t win. He can’t be happy.

To be getting close to peace, and to have it wrenched away. Why does God allow this?

And me, personally, it’s a reminder that I may not be as far out of the woods as I think, in my own life.

Of course, safety is an illusion outside of God’s will. We never really know what will happen. We could walk out the door and get killed, or we could have an accident in our house. The only risk free thing to do it sit real still and never move…and then you die of starvation or lack of exercise.

God just doesn’t mean for us to do nothing dangerous our whole lives. Danger makes it worthwhile.

See, being better off from one minute to the next is something completely in our own heads, unless we measure it by how much we are trusting God. I am no safer this minute than I am on a mountain top in a lightning storm, it is just to me that it seems different.

It’s not wrong to think things are going well in our lives, or going poorly. The Bible certainly never tells us to throw out that standard, how else can we understand God’s goodness? But it cautions us to keep in mind that it is all a gift, not what we are owed.

I believe God does want each of us to be happy, in the right time and right context for happiness. But not a isngle one of us ahs a correct idea of happiness when we first walk with God.

My ideal of happiness as a new Christian was not to have trouble, not to have relationship problems, and to have a good career, husband, children, and be able to do what I loved doing.

To be honest, I still prefer all those things.

But I’ve had a series of rude awakenings that none of that gurantees happiness. To my amazement, I can be sad even if nothing is going wrong in my life at the moment, and I can be happy even if everything is going wrong.

Stasi Eldredge recently wrote a book titled “Defiant Joy” and I think that’s appropiate, the deepest Joy is usually defying the circumstances.

Suffering has a way of making us understand better whyt his world just cannot satisfy us, and our Joy is clearer when we see it depends on heavenly things, not earthly things.

I don’t just meant hat as a cliche, I mean that the ability to think about how heaven is, how God is over all, how we will live forever in that Reality, is the key to feeling true Joy.

You know, if I could give a pieve of advice to any new Christain, or curious seeker reading this, I’d tell them “Pay attaention to the cliches, the cliches are true.”

There’s hardly one Christian saying or teaching, which people usually roll their eyes at, that I have not found to be ultimately a profound truth.

“Just have Faith”

“You have to trust God”

“Don’t focus too much on earhtly things”

“God is in control”

We like to say that those just aren’t comforitng, that they make us feel liek no one is listening to our pain.

But I’ve come to see those sayings came form genrations of Christians going through trials, and finding that those really were the simple turhts they had to hold on to, in the end the simplest things are the most Comforitng. Like

“You’re not alone”

“God is in this.”

We say it because it’s true. Cliche or not.

I still think that God will “give me the desires of my heart” as the Word says, but I now know better that those desires will sometiems feel like a chore too.

I’m not married yet, but I do realzie once I am, there will be tiems my husband seems like more of an annoyance than a blessing. Same with children. Even if I live out my dream of adopting, I’ll certainly be tired of it at times.

I love teaching, but I don’t love it when I have a headache or didn’t sleep the night before.

Nothing mortal is always fun. Even worshipping God can be a struggle at times.

But, even so, it doesn’t make those things not worthwhile.

And losing them doesn’t mean you give up.

If I gave up every time I was disappointed, I’d not have anything left, that’s the honest truth.

I mean on everything, too. Deliverance from my personal problems, getting a job, getting a boyfriend, writing a successful book, getting a car, teaching.

All of it I got let down on a lot of times before I got any of those things, and I still am waiting on some.

I’ve learned the hard way that if you get knocked down, you really do have to get back up. Even if it’s not fair, even if it’s tragic, even if it’s tearing your heart out to keep going, you have to, or you’ll shrivel into nothing.

I think the Karate Kid remake actually summed that up in a beautiful way. (I liked the new one better than the old simply because I thought it had some deeper themes than just overcoming a bully problem, not that that’s bad, but of overcoming loss itself.)

The Bible says “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.” {Proverbs 24:16}

I guess you know you’re the righteous by seeing if you got up again. It doesn’t take much to defeat someone who has no character.

They say the best way to heal from losing a pet is to get a new one soon. I think that is true. It’s easier to dare to love again if you don’t let the memory of your love fade away, along with the pain, by not loving anything else again.

Rebounding is not always healthy, but it can be far worse to close off forever. No, it is far worse.

All this to say, whatever you lose, you need to rebound. Wisely, but do it. It’s the only way to heal.

I believe that is why at the end of Job, God gives him all he had, doubled, save for his children, since God seems to count the ones who died as still being part of the number, a note of respect most people miss reading that story (I got it pointed out by someone else).

God’s message is not that the loss didn’t matter, but that Job, having lost everything, had to start again if he would be restored. That is the only way to heal.

Job is one of the only Old Testament men mentioned to have given his daughters an inheritance, treating them as equals to his sons. We aren’t told why he did this, but perhaps he realized that in life, you should bless people as much as you can while you can, because you really have nothing certain, and gender and age just don’t matter as much as we think.

Job loved harder after losing everything, and that is how I want to be. I want my loss to mean that in the future, I’ll give more to people I wouldn’t have before.

Well, that is all for now, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Hanging in There.

Time to get serious.

Stuff happens. It’s been a rough mental time for me.

I both got and lost a job recently, and am now looking at another one. My sisters and I went to the beach to get out of the house. And I went to a women’s group at my church.

We just spent the whole time talking, and then praying. It was really good.

image (41)

You know what I found out? Age is just a number.

All us ladies, from the youngest (me) to the oldest (a lady in her 70s or 80s) have similar struggles.

The Lock-down has given many of us anxiety, some have not gotten to see their children or grandchildren in months. Some are still out of work. More than one of us are in therapy or counseling.

I was surprised to hear a lady much older than me, who has a daughter my age, say she has some of the same problems as me with feeling guilty about relying on people.

It reminded me that there are things you don’t grow out of with age.

Of course, I had proof of that. In my own family. It can be weird knowing I was more mature than some of my much older relatives.

One other thing that I got reminded of was the importance of sharing our story.

I’ve heard that “the degree to which you are able to tell your story is the degree to which you are able to heal.” I think that’s true.image (28)

Maybe that’s why anime characters always get redeemed after the whole tragic backstory comes out.

You know the most shocking thing about sharing is that you find out how your experiences are not really rare. It takes a very uniquely messed up person to have a story that doesn’t ring true for thousands of other people.

Good experiences tend to be our own, they would only have been special to us in the way they happened, what sounds nice to us sounds boring or weird to someone else, but everyone understands humiliation, betrayal, heartbreak, depression, etc.

The reason I write about my unpleasant experiences on this blog is because I know people need to hear about them, they need to hear what I learn along the way. and it also serves to remind me that I am going through a process.

Lately, my biggest struggle has been intrusive thoughts about killing myself.

Now, when I say that, people think I mean contemplating suicide. But that isn’t what I’m doing.

It’s more like a suggestion “kill yourself” or “I want to kill myself” comes into my head, uninvited, and I am horrified by it.

Thoughts of harming myself also come often. Like an image in my mind’s eye.

The suggestion is more like “I could do this” then ” I want to” usually.

I wonder if anyone reading this knows what I’m talking about.

I have had intrusive thoughts most of my life, sometimes they are about hurting other people, sometimes they are about hurting myself, those ones dated back to my preteen years.

I never once acted on these thoughts, and I still haven’t to this day. I assumed they came from depression, but they happen when I don’t feel depressed.

The real trigger seems to be anxiety, I think that’s common with people who have these thoughts. I have anxiety about my ability to deal with life, and with people, and with myself, the thoughts center around making me feel even more insecure about that. If what you think about is a reflection of who you are, the logic goes, than I must be a terrible person.

Some people do give into these thoughts and become terrible. Others never do, and the thoughts get better.

They come most when someone feels bad about who they are. These thoughts are like your mind’s bully. Telling you you are all the things you fear you truly are, deep down. And it’s hard to get away from them when it’s in your own head.

I got so afraid of these thoughts, I didn’t want to write anything about it for fear of focusing on it more.

But I believe in sharing my struggles. So here goes.image (31)

I’ll admit, I do not yet have the solution. But I can give you somethings that have helped me find some relief and even victory in this area.

A big thing: I had a breakthrough when my mom helped me realize that if killing myself was something I wanted to do (it’s not, but the thoughts raise the question) I would not do it, because I believe God has given me a life, and I should let Him be in charge of it. I would choose God over taking an easy way out. (At no point did I plan to go through with such a thing, the whole power was in the suggestion of it.)

While my confidence in my own resolve varies, it’s good to know what I really want.

Another thing that helps, trying not to follow these thoughts, it’s like a trap, you end up treading a well worn path that never gives you any answers about anything, or makes you feel better. But it’s addictive. You end up feeling kind of wrong without it.

One day when I tried to go the whole day not worrying, I felt empty. The noise in my head was what filled me up and took up my energy.

Something else that really helped, getting prayer and encouragement from those ladies. They encouraged me not to feel like such a failure, or so weak. To remember who I am. And to believe there’s an end to this.

A thought that often bothers me, and I’m sure you can relate, is “Will this ever end?” I’ve had the problem for so many years, and even though it’s gotten better at times, it has come back again and again.

This is the first time I learned anything about why it happens though. Or what works on it, other than distraction.

On record, I don’t know if intrusive thoughts end or not, at least for the average person. God can fix any problem.

And believe me, I get frustrated that He hasn’t yet. I hate it so much.

But hating it only makes me hate myself, and that only makes it worse. And being afraid only makes it worse for it adds to the anxiety that probably causes it to begin with.

There are people who fought something for 20 years before God healed it. Healing happens, but not always in the time we want it to.

Sometimes I feel I can’t take it anymore, but by then I’ve usually worried more about having the problem then the problem itself makes me miserable.

It’s true, struggling with a sin like fear and doubt is humiliating for a Christian. We’re supposed to have Faith, Hope, Joy, and Love.

Yet, somehow, even in this process, I haven’t lost those things. I think I love my family more for how supportive they’ve been, and for friends who’ve also helped.

I have Hope in that I am still in this and haven’t give up, and God promise “he who endures to the end shall be saved”

Sometimes I have Joy, despite this suffering, when I remember the Goodness of God and how He has helped me through many, many difficult days when I thought I couldn’t go any further.

All that has built up my Faith.

I have moments of doubt, every day sometimes, but overall, I have stayed true to what I believe.

And I have done what my Dad, who has the same problem, never did. I have asked for help, I have sought answers, I have prayed and praised God and not lost my connection with Him throughout this.

So, I believe I will survive it. I will go on, and I’ll recover from how emotionally draining this experience has been.

I guess I could close with some advice to anyone who has dealt with or knows someone who has dealt with this problem.

  1. If they told you about it that took courage, don’t act afraid of them.

Believe me, anyone who owns up to this is in enough shame and guilt, don’t add to it. They don’t like these thoughts, so you don’t need to worry about that, unless they start acting on them, but that is no longer intrusive thoughts.

2. Be encouraging.

Everyone has good and bad days with this problem. Encourage them to believe in the good, and that the bad day will always pass. And at least they stuck it out.

3. Tell them the truth.

What helps you when you’re down? What gives you strength? What typically helps the person in question? Try to help them focus on that.

4. Remind people it’s not permanent.

5. Listen.

People who feel guilty may need to talk it out before they can let go of that.

6. Know that it is never just about the thoughts. It’s about the fear and dread and self hatred.

Someone with this problem needs lots of love, constantly. Sometimes it helps me to just get a hug. When I feel disgusted with myself, I need a reminder other people still want to be close to me and help me, and they like who I am.

People tend to become who they think you see them as.

7. Don’t take it personally.

The thoughts aren’t because you did something wrong. Especially if it’s about hurting you. That means the person loves you, and they don’t trust themselves. If anything, you must be on the right track.

The fear of these thoughts led me to isolate myself in the past, and this time around I am purposefully not doing that, which is helping me deal with it.

Honestly, I think once it stops working, it starts going away, because what’s the point anymore?

And I think that will be all for now. Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.