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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Healing is a Process

I remember the feeling. I was incredibly dazed, but I saw the familiar faces; Mom, Dad, Brother, the Boy. Their concerned smiles brought safety and comfort. Then it hit… the excruciating pain. I had just come through a total hip replacement.

I will avoid the gory details, but still I must help you wrap your head around this. The shaft of my femur had been hollowed out to make room for a metal rod that would be jammed down inside of it. Screws and bolts drilled in to the bone in hopes that everything would stay intact. Then add a metal ball and socket that would become the new joint and two blood transfusions.... 

My body rejected the foreign object and screamed its objection through pain. Every time that wonderful blue light lit up, I pushed it knowing a small bit of relief would come in the form of morphine. I smiled back at them all and squeezed the hand that was holding mine and slipped from consciousness once again.

Dread consumed me the day following the massive surgery. I knew what was coming. It always happens. It has to. Two overly - cheerful physical therapists make their way into my room. “It’s time to get up,” they announce. Everything within me screamed in pain, the task far too daunting to even mentally process, let alone physically accomplish.

But, I have no choice. For my sake, I have to get up – I have to walk. Multiple people are on deck to help. Once I have achieved the painstaking task of swinging my legs to the side of the bed, they clamp two belts around my waist and establish a firm grip. Mom takes charge of moving the IV. Dad nearby in the event he has to step in to catch me. Brother and the Boy in the doorway praying and chanting encouragement.

More excruciating than I can begin to convey, they hoist me up. I bite my lip from crying or cursing! Excessively weak, I grow light headed. The room begins to spin. My eyes lock on the chair across the room. The chair that I know provides a safe place to rest. The chair that when I reach it, these two goons holding onto my belt will leave me alone!

I made it. I collapse. I pass out. I don’t know how I made it back to the hospital bed… that was Step One of the healing process. The movement began to awaken blood flow, which awakened muscles, which in turn, made me stronger. We repeated the process the next day… it got easier. The next day, I used a walker to walk to the door of the room! It still hurt, but the strength I was gaining soon began to alleviate the pain. 

Healing is a process. Which means it’s a process; it takes time. A dear friend recently told me, “Heather, you don’t have to be 100% healed in order to live again…” Where are you in this process? Are you acting dead in the bed? 

In June it will be three years since the hip replacement. Guess what? I am still in physical therapy! But, I am getting stronger. Muscles that haven’t been used in nearly a decade are coming back to life! What the doctors said couldn’t happen is happening! Fox 34 News in Lubbock ran a YouTube video about my story called, Young Girl Fights For Strength After Hip Surgery. People take notice when healing begins! They rally, they support, they applaud. 

Are you sick physically? Maybe you’ve taken a hard blow emotionally? It’s likely that you have a deep wound somewhere… I assume this because you are a human being. (Maybe except a few of my family and friends in Roswell! We come in peace!) ; ) 

The pain inflicted upon me one year ago is still raw. Yes, I have been able to get up and walk. Yes, I have regained a bit of strength. The stitches are still there. It hurts when you poke it. Some things cause it to throb and ache.

Often I am too strong for my own good. Rarely do I admit to pain. Right now, I confess to you that it hurts… gosh dang it – it hurts! It still requires a bandage. I cover up the wound when I go out and about. By the end of the day however, it needs to be cleaned. It needs to be re-bandaged.

Thankfully we worship the Great Physician. He is capable of treating our wounds with the most amazing care the world will ever find! And, He does all of this for FREE! We just have to let Him. I hoped for, prayed for and expected instant healing; of my hip and of my heart. That’s not how the Doctor wanted to work.

Have you also prayed for that wounded place in your life to be miraculously healed. Get angry when it didn’t happen how you wanted it to? Mad because you still feel as if you are in intensive care and not getting better? Does God work that way? Yes. Does He always? No.

I have reached the conclusion that sometimes He might actually want us to put forth a little
bit of effort.  We have to be willing to go through the healing process. There is so much to learn during that season! Often, myself included, we throw a pity party simply because it hurts. We refuse to get up. We cry demanding that the Doctor do something about it “this INSTANT!” When He doesn’t, we become angry and bitter.

Lying in that bed longer and longer only makes us weaker… There must come a point when we choose to believe that the Doctor really does know best. His goal is to make His patients better. This week, my heart is aching. I know yours is too. Rather than get frustrated and grow weaker, I encourage you to get up. You can do this. There is a chair nearby in which you can find rest.

I can walk. I can ride a bike. I can pick up my little siblings. I can skydive. I’m not still lying in that hospital bed writhing in pain. There are still days when I feel the pain, but I am not where I was before.

Hand it over. Trust the annoyingly-happy therapists that come into your life and make you move. Something like Heavenly magic happens when we choose to believe that God’s strength is perfected in our weakness. That He might actually choose US to make HIMSELF look good. Wow! What an honor we have! 

Your heart might be in therapy for a long time to come, but, it’s getting there! Nearly three years since the last surgery and I’m still healing. Fourteen months since my broken heart and I’m still healing. It is a process. It comes in stages. It takes time. Don’t quit going to PT. Don’t quit checking in with the Doctor. Don’t give up on your own healing. Claim it. Work towards it. 

By His stripes, He won your healing and your heart. You can do it. Swing those legs over the edge of the bed and stand. His amazing grace hasn’t failed to uphold you once, has it?

Sunday, April 7, 2013

When God Moves

When God moves, He moves. Henry Blackaby wrote in his book, Experiencing God this fundamental truth: God is always at work around us. Maybe we might not be able to see it in our own lives at the moment, but if we lift our eyes from the selfish reflection in the mirror and look around, what we see just might astound us.

That is what happened to me this week.

Let me be honest, I have been in a funk for the past couple of weeks. Not really sure why, other than my ugly fleshly nature still surfaces once in a while. I milked the funk. Do you ever do that? Where you justify why you can act the way you do. Where you want other’s sympathy… Let’s just say it was a nasty couple of weeks!

On Wednesday, I attended a worship service. The International House of Prayer sent a team to Penn State to do ministry for one week. They happened to be here the same week of our Agape event and were helping us lead worship as well as promote the event on campus. I was sent to meet them and be a part of their work.

For the two hours that followed, I resembled a Ping-Pong ball; bouncing between beautiful worship and selfish boredom. (Remember the funk I was in… and I was liking it) My worship that day was not like sweet incense going up before my Father, but rather like a “stinky-egg fart” as my seven-year-old sister would say.

I was thankful when the service was over. The leader of the group decided that they should pray over Dannah and I before we went into our big event two days later. They laid hands on us both. They prayed for Dannah – it was beautiful, sweet, and encouraging.

Then they got to my stinky self. One girl – no doubt incredibly anointed by the Holy Spirit - began to pray for me. Mind you, I have never met her in my entire life nor said anything more than, “Hello,” when I walked into the room earlier.

She began to pray for my broken heart; the pieces that still remained shattered. (Pain has been coming to the surface recently and her beginning prayer shook me to my core.) Continuing, she prayed for healing over specific details and things that happened in the last few months of that relationship that I have told no one.

Tears fell down my cheek. “Jesus loves you. You are priceless and beautiful. He will always fight for you.” Then, she looked me dead in the eye. “You’re in physical pain?” Before I could even answer, she laid her hands on my right hip and began to pray for healing. Now I was weeping. “You once had the faith to believe that you would be healed completely. Where did that go? God wants to heal you. His desire is that you are whole. Reclaim your faith.”

She prayed and spoke words of encouragement from my Father. Details, fears, concerns I had told no one, God redeemed through her. As she continued to pray, the depth of her discernment continued to shake me. If I had a doubt, that just proved GOD IS REAL. I believe He reveals Himself to those who need to see Him most. At that moment, that was me. God messed me up! The rest of the day I was a puddle at the feet of Jesus.

I am so thankful that He comes to meet us right where we are; even in the midst of my stinky, selfish temper tantrum. I needed an attitude adjustment. A heart of love and compassion ready to to move with the Lord's Spirit; ready for Agape. 

So many of you have either supported financially or by your prayers the work of AGAPE. It is a faith-based event uniting many campus ministries to bring healthy, God-honoring relationships back to Penn State’s campus. I have been working on this project since the fall and it finally culminated with an event on Friday night at PSU.

Let me shed a little bit of light on why the issue of sexual wholeness is such a big deal on this campus. Last year, the Sandusky scandal began to reveal the corruption that resided within Happy Valley. While 40,000 students are on the campus, only 2,000 claim to be active Christians…

Virginity is not tolerated on the campus at all. Being a virgin here is asking for severe persecution. Sororities use sex as part of their induction week – I will spare you the details. There is an app that allows students who want to “have sex now” to find another person who wants to “have sex now” on a map. The hook up culture has become nothing more than a treasure map to instant gratification.

Penn State needs truth. We targeted the Christian kids. They talk the talk but many of them struggle to walk out their faith in such a difficult environment. We assembled a team to speak to these students – to encourage their faith. Never doing anything like this before, we figured it would be optimistic to expect 200 students to attend. That would be 10% of the Christian culture on campus - enough to effect change. 

We were shocked when over 450 students showed up; we had chairs for 230. Students were standing along the walls, sitting on the floor and crammed in the hallway, anxious to hear truth. My team was incredibly humbled by God’s move.

After a time of combined worship, the men moved to a different location and were encouraged to “pick up their stones,” and fight the good fight. The women received a rose and were called to take guys of the table for ten days and fall more in love with Jesus. I shared my broken-heart testimony and tears began to flow. Intercessors were set up around the room ready to pray for girls who needed to be made whole. 

For the next hour we prayed with countless young women. I know of at least one salvation. Many hearts were set on the road to healing. I will be taking a young lady who is a Hindu to church with me tonight as a result of her attending the event and the Lord stirring her heart. 

After the students left, the team sat around in awe of what God did. The stories of victory and hope are already pouring in.

I know many of you were praying and figured you would be blessed to hear the outcome. God is at work. He is always at work. Maybe even deep in the heart of the person you least expect it. Do not quench the Holy Spirit. Be a sponge. 

Thank you for your prayers and support. God moves. He moves big.