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Storm the Forts of Darkness

Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of hymns. This one has really been in my head lately.

  1. Soldiers of our God, arise!
    The day is drawing nearer;
    Shake the slumber from your eyes,
    The light is growing clearer.
    Sit no longer idly by,
    While the heedless millions die;
    Lift the blood-stained banner high,
    And take the field for Jesus.

    • Storm the forts of darkness, bring them down, bring them down!
      Storm the forts of darkness, bring them down, bring them down!
      Pull down the devil’s kingdom,
      Where’er he holds dominion,
      Storm the forts of darkness, bring them down.
      Glory, honor to the Lamb,
      Praise and power to the Lamb;
      Glory, honor, praise and power,
      Be forever to the Lamb.
  2. See the brazen hosts of hell,
    Art and power employing;
    More than human tongue can tell,
    Blood-bought souls destroying.
    Hark! from ruin’s ghastly road,
    Victims groan beneath their load,
    Forward, O ye sons of God,
    And dare or die for Jesus.
  3. Warriors of the risen King,
    Great army of salvation,
    Spread His fame, His praises sing,
    And conquer every nation.
    Raise the glorious standard higher,
    Work for victory, never tire;
    Forward march with blood and fire,
    And win the world for Jesus.
I love that idea; storm the forts of darkness, bring them down. What does this mean to you? It makes me think of all of the injustices in the world – how we cannot sit back and let it happen. Also reminds me of something William Booth once said..

“While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while children go hungry, as they do now I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight, I’ll fight to the very end!”

Here’s the best video I could come up with that features “Storm the Forts of Darkness” – just a tiny snippet 🙂

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Pumice Stones.

The other day as I was taking a shower, I looked at my pumice stone and thought “you are probably one of the worst things for an obsessive compulsive to own.”

I’m not going to try and offer a quick, light-hearted summary of OCD and what it is and what aspects of my life have fallen into its black hole. For the past few weeks I’ve been making a mental list of the common things people own that are very dangerous for obsessive compulsives. As I encounter these things, I will share them with you. Mostly because a fair amount of my friends read this blog and I kind of am a weenie about sharing my OCD struggles in a personal way. Welcome to the madhouse.

Pumice Stones.

Since I wear flip flops 97% of the time, my feet have the potential to quickly become fairly nasty. Upon realizing this, I invested in a pumice stone to keep my feet from being ridiculously awful.

All seemed well in pumice stone owning land until Saturday. The weather here in the Northwest has been absolutely beautiful. I came home and sat down with my dying dog in the front yard. After I stood up, my mom said “you have something on your leg.” “It’s just dirt” we concluded. As I stood in the bathroom, about to wash it off in the sink I took a closer look and realized it definitely was not dirt.

In case you’ve not figured it out:
Dog + yard = __________ (poop)

Immediately, I jumped in the shower. Of course I wasn’t going to touch it, because that would make my hands infected. Instead I turned the water to a ridiculously painful temperature and watched as the heat burned off the trace of doggie poo on my leg. This is where the story turns from normal into obsessive compulsive land. Feeling as if the poo was still stuck to my skin, I pondered my options. Loofah or pumice? Pumice, obviously. Once I decided to see if the pumice stone would make my knees a bit softer. It didn’t, though it did successfully make them look as if I had fallen off of a bike and tried to use my knees as a braking system. Have I ever mentioned that I don’t ride bikes?

Back to Saturday. I grabbed the pumice stone and started scrubbing. After twenty seconds, my leg was bright red (a combination of water rivaling the temperature of the sun and a piece of something that is made to remove calluses) and it was painful to stand in the shower.

The thing that I find the most amusing about OCD is that most of us stand in completely stupid situations and rationalize with ourselves. “It is normal to take a diaper off when changing a baby’s diaper.” “My foot will not fall off if I step on a sidewalk crack.” “I can hold a knife without it resulting in a spontaneous killing spree.” (If you are not an obsessive compulsive, you probably think I am a freak. If you are an obsessive compulsive, I am virtually high fiving you.. which I appreciate, because then I won’t feel the urge to wash my hands.)  OCD has nothing to do with logic.

As I stood there, wincing in pain as the water was dripping down my leg I did the only thing that seemed right. I kept scrubbing.

One thing I love about my obsessive compulsive episodes is that eventually I snap out of them. Out of nowhere, it will just occur to me how insane I am being and I will just walk away. A few moments of scrubbing later, I dropped my pumice stone, turned the water off, and thought “bathrooms are very dangerous for an obsessive compulsive” and I then made a little mental note of the other scary devices of torture spread casually around my bathroom.

Things like:

-tweezers
-soap (pretty much the biggest OCD cliche)
-toilet paper (you might think.. tp? really? consider folding)
-tooth brush (hello touch symmetry sufferers!)
—–

This post was going to include a multitude of things. For example, today I restarted the 365 project, meaning I will take a picture every day for a year. Today I also had a great drive home from work, a great phone call, a great e-mail, a great visit with a friend and a great discussion at Bible study. and then I just ate a few Wheat Thins, and now I will retire.

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Forgiveness, Real.

FORGIVENESS, REAL. Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask for it. ~ C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

——————

That CS Lewis.. he’s so wise. In that book he also talks about the difference between forgiving and excusing. We tend to ask God for an excusal.. as in “I had no choice! I am not to blame!” instead of “I did it. Accept me still.”

Right now I am frustrated. At first I was angry and the more I’ve really focused my heart on the Lord I’ve just turned frustrated. There’s not much more elaborating that can be done without indulging in my frustration. All I know is that I’m doing a lot of thinking and inviting the Lord to be present in a lot of those thoughts. All, actually. All of those thoughts.

Mike Yaconelli writes in Messy Spirituality that perhaps prayer is not just stopping and folding our hands and bowing our heads and reciting “Heavenly Father…” but perhaps it is just thinking to him. Sounds simple enough. But for the past 40 minutes I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. Thinking about Christ and his personality and how he handled conflicts. That’s prayer. If anything, that is the listening aspect of prayer. Sometimes I get frustrated that I don’t find myself on my knees often enough, but I know that God is close to me when I am thinking towards him. That’s what I will call this other prayer. “Thinking towards.”

In honor of my friend Cassie’s birthday we all got desert and went bowling. I’m so glad to have friends like these.

Post-bowling
Post-bowling
JP, Abbie & Cassie.. caught off guard.
JP, Abbie & Cassie.. caught off guard.
Cassie & Abbie
Cassie & Abbie
The girls
The girls
This is a bit frightening.
This is a bit frightening.
Cassie & Corey
Cassie & Corey
The boys. Dont they look exciting?
The boys. Don’t they look exciting?
Me, Cassie & Chrissy
Me, Cassie & Chrissy

I’m going to go think towards God for a little bit.

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Organizing.

One of the most frustrating things in life is clutter. Clutter of the mind, clutter of the drawer.. and most prominent, clutter of the bathroom counter. I was pretty sure that my bathroom counter clutter was under control until I was babysitting and used their bathroom and realized that they owned something that would even further reduce my counter clutter.
Tonight I went and bought my own.

Before:

After:

Now I’m ridiculously excited to wake up and be greeted with a clutterless bathroom counter. AWESOME.

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Faith is not about force. It’s about fascination.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to see Shane Claiborne (The Irresistible Revolution, Jesus for President) speak at a church here in Portland. He is full of so much wisdom and passion. One thing he said really stuck with me, though.

He was talking about how there were people who wanted to know if he was the One. Instead of saying yes or no, Jesus told them to look at the things they saw; the blind seeing, the lepers being healed.. basically “what do YOU think?”

Shane then shared how as Christians, we should be like that. If people said “are you a Christian,” we would say “what do YOU think?” and our actions, like Christ’s, should back it up.

If we are living our lives fully committed to God and letting him smear himself all over every aspect of our lives, then we could say “what do YOU think?” and people could then reason “they love, they are accepting, they are full of grace, they are humble.. they are probably a Christian!”

unfortunately, we are so unlike Christ that the reasons people might not be sure of our Christianity are reasons that make us so much like the world we are trying to detach ourselves from – greed, impatience, judgement, slander.. none of those things are anything like our Jesus.

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I’m sailing on a ship that’s bound for life.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.” – Isaiah 55:8

In the Summer of 2007, the Lord gave me a plan. It was to stick through another (school)year of my job, quit to work as a counselor in the summer, and trust Him with the fall. Even though I thought it was a terrible plan for so many reasons, I agreed.

Immediately, I was tested. Things at work changed and I wanted to quit my job. God gave me the strength to perservere. It came time for the camp part of it. I applied and was offered positions other than counselor. God gave me the focus to turn them down and stick with the counselor position. Then the fall came in which the Lord tested my willingness to trust Him and go wherever he sent me. So I did, willing to leave much behind. Then he blessed me by allowing me to stay.

He gave me my old job back, he blessed me with fellowship and community, and I was settled in. After prayer, he gave me the opportunity to join back in ministry at my corps.

Today, everything has been turned upside down. We had a meeting at work and found out that our company is moving 30 miles away.. in a week and a half. Because we are a small company and they value us, we are given a lot of flexibility in our hours and what we want to do. Which is a blessing. But deep within my soul, I feel that this is not permanent. Deep within my soul, this is stirring something in me that says “this is not the place that I need to be.”

But where, then? The Lord’s plan only got me so far. I have trusted; I am trusting. It is hard to want to see the fruits of my faithfulness. A few times I’ve thought that I have, but it has not actually been anything lasting.

There is not an ounce of me that is angry with the Lord. I love my Lord very deeply and while I believe it is healthy and intimate to express my anger with Him.. there is none of that. There is a bit of frustration.. but mostly at my being here and His being in Heaven. So I need prayer not for understanding, not for the situation.. but just for the Lord’s guidance.

Wherever the Lord sends me, I will go. I just need to know where. Knowing that when all is said and done, I will be with the Lord makes everything else pale in comparison. At least I know the final destination.

A voice is on the wind
It calls me further in
I’m heading deeper into Your heart
Your mark is on my chest
My sails filled with your breath
You guide me by the light of the stars

I’m sailing on a ship that’s bound for life
I wrestle with the wind against the tide
I leave it all behind to each for more
I’m sailing on to Your golden shore


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