Strange Things Happen From a Trip to the Woods

photo by jachan devol

photo by jachan devol

Time for a personal tale. Once upon a time, about two years ago now, I was bitten by a tick. Unbeknownst to me, things started changing in my chemical makeup. I actually went a few months before this tick bite starting letting me know something had happened.

It was a Saturday in November and I was out with my son for the morning. We had an early lunch at a local dive. I ate a hamburger. Little did I know it would be my last.

That afternoon I went to visit a friend who had not been feeling well. She decided she could come out to my house and spend the rest of the day since our husbands were hunting together.

Around four o’clock that afternoon, we were coming home and I was itching like crazy. By the time we arrived at my house, my friend’s eyes were looking like saucers when she looked at me. I had the worst case of hives I’d ever had.

After putting up the things we brought into the house, I took some Benadryl and decided this might warrant a trip to the emergency room. I was beginning to have some shortness of breath and chest tightening.

Once in the ER, the difficulty breathing worsened and I required epinephrine. My friend had finally reached our husbands who arrive just as the epi was taking effect and the hives were going down.

One month later, this reaction happened again about two o’clock in the morning. I awoke with my throat swelling. I took a few Benadryl - well several-, woke my husband for a possible trip back to the ER. This time the Benadryl helped with the breathing but the hives were persistent.

By nine o’clock that morning, my daughter was driving me to an allergist. He was amazed at such an acute reaction. He asked a battery of questions, took blood samples and told me not eat meat or drink anything but water and no over the counter medications.

Six weeks later the doctor called me. He told me my “alpha-gal” level was off the chart. That’s a shortened name for a protein found in red meat. Normal is like less than .35 and mine was 26. He then asked if I had ever been bitten by a tick. Certainly, I live in the country was my response. He said I was the first female patient he had seen with this.

He went on to explain that some people with certain tick bites (Lone Star tick) develop an allergy to red meat. Somehow whatever the tick secretes when it bites you causes a chemical reaction which develops this allergy, known as Alph-gal Syndrome. The thing about being allergic to the protein is that it doesn’t work like normal food allergies in which you react immediately. The reaction occurs when you digest the protein some four to eight hours later.

Believe it or not, my first reaction to the news was, “Oh, thank God that’s all it is.” Now mind you, not getting to eat red meat is more difficult since we raised cattle at the time and live on venison (well, my husband still does). I learned I can only have fowl or fish. There are those who say you can have red meat every once in a while, but my doctor said every reaction will get worse. I fear the next level of reaction I am up for is anaphylactic and I want no part of that one.

During those few months of not knowing what caused the allergic reaction and my primary care physician reminding me that we may never know what caused it was torturous to me. So even though I can’t eat red meat I am so thankful that it’s nothing worse. And best of all, God answered my prayers in allowing us to find out the cause and it being as simple as avoiding a particular food group!

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14

Alpha-gal Syndrome reminds me all the time of the goodness of Jesus Christ. He is with me in every single part of my life. I am never alone! He hears me when I pray and He answers my prayers. He is good. He is my HOPE! Is He yours?

It's Time to Do a New Thing

Photo by Austin Chan

Photo by Austin Chan

Behold, I am doing a new thing… Isaiah 43:19 ESV

i often find it very hard to do something new or to do something old in a new way. Do you? We all know change is inevitable, but we resist change until we’re forced to comply. Maybe I’m just talking about myself…

I take comfort in the fact that Jesus never changes. He is the same today, yesterday and forever. That comforts me because I know that no matter what He is the same. His love for me is the same. His forgiveness is the same. His restoration is the same.

Yet there have been times throughout scripture when God did a new thing. Just think about it for a minute:

  • God called Abram and started a nation with a covenant

  • God sent His Son, Jesus, as the new covenant

  • God created the world by His spoken word

  • God destroyed the earth with a flood

The truth of WHO God is and WHAT He is capable of NEVER change so His message never changes. Now with that settled, we know the gospel is salvation by Christ alone through His work alone.

But sometimes God does a new thing. Just like in the verse from Isaiah. God does not change, but He may do a new thing. Here are a few more examples:

  • God lived among His people in a cloud by day and fire by night

  • Then God dwelt in a tent

  • Then in a tabernacle

  • Now inside believers

He did not change, but He did a new thing.

That leads me to you. Is God calling you to do a new thing? You may feel a little uncertainty. Maybe some excitement and nervousness at the same time. You may have even had people confirm this new thing whether they knew they did or not.

Let the photo at the beginning of this post be for you. This is the sign you’ve been looking for… If you feel the Holy Spirit tugging you, pushing you or urging you to do a new thing, just do it.

The message of Christ will never change, but God gives us the privilege and responsibility of sharing His message. In so doing, He may very well be calling you, yes you, to do a new thing to reach a certain group of people for His glory.

If you’re being called to do a new thing - this is the sign you’ve been looking for.

In A World of Noise, Who Are You Listening To?

Photo by Alireza-Attari

Photo by Alireza-Attari

Do you hear it? There’s so much noise. In this world of technology, we are inundated with noise from every direction: television, radio, social media, YouTube, podcasts and so much more.

We are accessible all the time with the hand held devices that we just can’t live without. Our phones are glued to our hands or stuck in our pockets at all times so we can reach and be reached twenty-four seven.

So in the midst of all this noise, let me ask you, “Who are you listening to?”

Do you get worked up seeing the news and hearing of all the world trouble and devastation? Are you scared to be out on your own after hearing of crime being on the rise? Do you wring your hands over things that you can’t control?

Or do you try to live by the old adage, “Don’t worry, be happy.” Unfortunately, that’s not a switch most of us can just “turn” on. But we DO have Someone that we can and should be listening to in the midst of all this noise. This Someone brings peace in the chaos, calm in the storm and assurance amidst all doubting. This Someone is Jesus Christ.

He wasn’t a prophet or a good teacher. He was and He is the Son of The Living God. He is God Incarnate. God in the flesh. And He promises those who are His a peace that surpasses all understanding.

How can I possible know that? Well, I’m glad you asked. I know those things because I belong to Him. I was raised in Church. One evening during a revival service, the Holy Spirit called to me as loud and clear as anyone ever had. I realized then and there that I was a sinner and destined for hell. I fell on my face before the loving God and received His free gift of salvation.

Nope. Stars didn’t fall from heaven. Bells didn’t sound all around me. But I stood up a new creation. I have never been the same! Praise the Lord! The day, Jesus saved me from sin and to Himself. Every single day now I know I am not alone. Jesus is always with me. I have experienced more than once that peace that surpasses understanding.

While I have lived a very blessed life; one that may be considered without tragedy and sorrow, which is true in a sense - I have experienced some blows of life that are common to us all. Just so you have a picture of the peace that Jesus extends when we are His, here are a few of the losses and uncertainties that He has carried me through:

1.. The loss of both parents (one before I turned 30 and the other just into my 30’s)

2. The loss of 3 siblings (one in between my parents

3. The dreaded call from my physician - something looks like “c” and more tests are needed

4. Giving depositions for an upcoming trial

5. An ‘adopted’ child walking away from our family

6. Job struggles and financial struggles

These are all normal struggles in life. Sometimes they are devastating and people never really recover. But when you have Jesus and are listening to Him, He brings PEACE in the storm. There’s a Christian song that has a line that says “sometimes He calms the storm and sometimes He calms His child”.

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
— Mark 4:39 ESV

I love that line in the song because it so poetically reminds us that Jesus doesn’t promise us a life of “smooth sailing”, but He does promise to never leave us or forsake us. However, as in the verse above, sometimes He does calm the storm that rages around us.

So, again, in this world of noise that we live in, I ask, “Who are you listening to?” I hope it’s Jesus Christ. He has all the answers! He loves you. He wants to save you and give you a purpose for your life. He is peace.

Behind the Scenes of Family

Photo by Liane Metzler

Photo by Liane Metzler

I have to say that I have loved every stage of our family life! Now, that being said, I have not loved every moment. Some have been trying, some extremely hard, but for the most part, it’s been wonderful!

Before my husband and I married, I told him I wanted a very large family. Seven to ten children, in fact. But after my first child was born, I was done. Infancy was hard work! He didn’t sleep. He threw up everything he ate and then some. For two years, we both (my child and I) cried ourselves to sleep. Of course, I’m exaggerating…some. But then it happened again, with our second child. Whew! Don’t tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

Like many families, ours grew and grew up. Nope, no grands just yet, but we are holding on to hope. :)

Today, we are helping our adult children with getting settled in their first homes each. This is more that just helping them move. My wonderful husband totally renovated my daughter’s fixer upper. And it’s beautiful, I might add. And now, we are twenty hours away from home renovating a kitchen in my son’s new home. And you know it, too, will be beautiful.

While it’s been exhausting, especially for Dad, we wouldn’t have it any other way. We are so thankful to our Lord that He has given us the health to help them. And we are so proud of the adults they’ve become!

But flesh and blood are not our only family. Just this weekend while we were driving I posted a few photos on social media about our travels. Our pastor commented that our church would miss us in worship. I quickly responded that we, too, would miss being with our “family”.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:34-35

I don’t know where you are in regards to family. But I do know this - no matter what may be going on behind the scenes of your family, Jesus offers us to become members of His family. For us, we definitely feel such a part of our church family that we really miss them when we’re away. We count on them when we’re there. And we want to serve them and along side them as often as we can.

Growing up in my family, we might have been rough with one another, but no one else was getting away with that. In other words, no matter what was going on between us, we loved each other extremely. Jesus said that the lost world will know we are in His family by the love we have for one another.

So stop and think a minute. Whatever may be going on in your family - “family” - love them. Love them. Love them. I have found that in our blood families and in our Jesus families (hopefully, they are one in the same) , we sometimes get cross ways. And that’s often due to just plane old misunderstandings. Life is so much better when we love one another through it all. With the love of Jesus in us, we can do just that!

Let love be what’s happening behind the scenes of your family.