Five Minute Friday: Release

Release

Gentle Reader,

As I do not tan but simply reflect light back to the sun, it comes as no surprise that, when I’m tired (beyond the daily level of tired; the sort of weariness that comes with not sleeping well and attempting to cope with a three-day headache), I look like death warmed up. Glanced at myself in the mirror as I dressed this morning and the dark circles were oh-so-prominent. The next time anyone remarks upon them, I think I’ll respond with, “Yeah, but you should see the other guy.”

Paleness also makes finding and purchasing the proper shade of foundation an adventure. Really, Target? You don’t carry a line that includes a shade that sits somewhere between pristine paper before it’s been printed on and WhiteOut? Way to make my life difficult.

Are those bruises all up and down my arms? No, just the veins showing through. Except for that. That one is a bruise. Which I probably got from rolling over too hard last night.

Oh, well. At least I won’t have a football-like complexion when I’m 50.

It’s the little things.

Kate says: release.

Go.

So I’m a pacifist, right? I believe in non-violent solutions and keeping the temper under control. “The fruit of the Spirit is peace” and all that.

Except, I have a nasty temper. I work at being conciliatory. I strive to compromise when possible. I am neither outwardly expressive or explosive. But I have to confess, there are times when I genuinely fantasize about punching someone in the mouth. Usually with a right hook, followed by an upper-cut if he’s being particularly obnoxious. My blood rises, along with my voice (in pitch, not volume) and my fingernails dig into my palms.

People tend to think that pacifism is about cowardice and apathy. It’s not. Certainly not for me, at any rate. Learning to let go of those destructive urges, to release them alongside a slow, count-laden breath, is based in a desire to be free. To walk through life in and with the peace referenced above, and the joy and the love and all the other things that are promised to those who abide in Christ.

I can’t abide in Him if I’m not releasing the anger.

Stop.

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Five Minute Friday: Follow

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Gentle Reader,

Tonight we spoke of eating our feelings, throwing things and longing for new bodies. We prayed for hurting doggies, discussed my upcoming book “Things That Make Me Cranky and the Food the Makes It Better,” shared Blacklist jokes (yes, that show comes up fairly consistently in conversation) and enjoyed the deep sort of soul-sigh that comes with being in the company of family.

Connected across the miles and denominations and food preferences.

Kate and the gang. We: follow.

Go.

Today was tough. Some stuff was said by some people, which pushed the ever-shortening fuse of my temper closer to the dynamite. I got quiet. (Nobody seems to realize that lack of speech is a warning sign. I might not be the most verbose of persons, but if I’m completely tight-lipped there’s a good chance it’s for the safety of others). I tried to keep my head down and just get through.

But really I wanted to cry.

I hate that. Emotions are so awful.

Of course, they aren’t really awful. They are God-given. I know that. As a person who is very much wired for the head-space and not the heart-space, however, emotions are difficult to handle. Often I don’t know what I’m feeling until the moment has passed. Sometimes it’s hours later.

I felt embarrassed. Publicly humiliated.

So I ate my feelings and put on my sweatpants and chatted with my lovely Twitter friends. All the while, I hear the Spirit speaking into my heart, “Follow Me.”

Why does He say this? I know without having to think. Because my reaction to those feelings was not good. My face was a blank mask (at least I hope it was), but my insides were ugly. I was throwing things. Name-calling. Screaming.

And following Him, while it means not that I ignore the hurt or gloss over the wrong, does involve letting that screaming, cussing, termagant die. It involves killing her. It looks like taking all that pain and frustration and dumping it at His feet. Asking Him to sort through my emotions and help me to feel them in a way that does not bind me tight.

Following Him means releasing the desire to whip around, look at those people and drop a list of their wrongs, failures and short-comings on their laps. It means not retaliating.

Following Him is hard.

So very hard.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: Break

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Gentle Reader,

The Five Minute Friday ladies offered to take up a bail money collection for me tonight.

That’s friendship right there.

Kate and all of us. We: break.

Go.

Honestly? I just want a break. From the demands. From the worries. From the illness. From cataloging DVDs. (Yes, really). From laundry and the noise of the dishwasher and the dogs barking and the planning and the grocery lists and ALL THE THINGS.

I want to go into Super Introvert Mode. Able to morph into a blanket burrito in a single roll.

There are things that make me want to poke my eyes out. (That’s a bit graphic). If some people would just step up… If others would just calm down… If my hair would do the same thing two days in a row… If I just had this, could just do that, had the opportunity for…

I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
    who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

He won’t let you stumble,
    your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.
Not on your life! Israel’s
    Guardian will never doze or sleep.

God’s your Guardian,
    right at your side to protect you—
Shielding you from sunstroke,
    sheltering you from moonstroke.

God guards you from every evil,
    He guards your very life.
He guards you when you leave and when you return,
    He guards you now, He guards you always. – Psalm 121 (MSG)

I lean my head back against the couch and close my eyes as the dishwasher drones on and Chris blows his nose. (Poor guy’s been hit with a nasty cold). And I wonder: Are there breaks to be found even in the chaos? Am I looking at this all wrong, thinking that rest is something that must be scheduled, must take up a whole day (or five) on the calendar?

God protects me. Uplifts me. Guides me. Shades me from sun and from moon. Never sleeps.

He is active in my chaos, smoothing the way when best, giving me strength to make it over the lumps when best. He knows. And I think, in the middle of it all, He invites me to take little breaks. Little pauses. To breathe deeply.

To be with Him.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

Bonus Monday Post: Flirting with Nonsense, Part 2 (or, Call Me a Shill, Call Me a Sheeple)

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Gentle Reader,

Go here for the first part.

I have now reached my limit with the alternative health movement, and I’m not going to qualify anything in this post. You can read my initial thoughts in the above referenced link to know that I’m not some crazed, hypochondriac, pop-a-pill-for-everything, doctors-are-gods-among-men type person.

This here isn’t about qualifications, apologies or beating around the bush.

I read an article over the weekend that presented the hypothesis that breast cancer is really just a fungus. I won’t provide a link because you have fingers and can Google and I don’t want to drive up the hits on that particular piece of pseudo-scientific glory.

You can prevent breast cancer through “emotional healing,” “energy balancing” and baking soda concoctions, among other things.

Here’s the thought extended to its natural conclusion: Breast cancer (cancer of any kind, really) is no big deal.

The arrogance, the ignorance and the insensitivity…. I honestly can’t even make it compute.

I had a tumor. No, it wasn’t in my breast tissue and yes, it was benign, but trust me. IT WAS A BIG DEAL. AND IT WASN’T A FUNGUS. Here’s what tumors and cancer actually are:

Cancer cells differ from normal cells in many ways that allow them to grow out of control and become invasive. One important difference is that cancer cells are less specialized than normal cells. That is, whereas normal cells mature into very distinct cell types with specific functions, cancer cells do not. This is one reason that, unlike normal cells, cancer cells continue to divide without stopping.

In addition, cancer cells are able to ignore signals that normally tell cells to stop dividing or that begin a process known as programmed cell death, or apoptosis, which the body uses to get rid of unneeded cells.

Cancer cells may be able to influence the normal cells, molecules, and blood vessels that surround and feed a tumor—an area known as the microenvironment. For instance, cancer cells can induce nearby normal cells to form blood vessels that supply tumors with oxygen and nutrients, which they need to grow. These blood vessels also remove waste products from tumors.

Cancer cells are also often able to evade the immune system, a network of organs, tissues, and specialized cells that protects the body from infections and other conditions. Although the immune system normally removes damaged or abnormal cells from the body, some cancer cells are able to “hide” from the immune system.

Tumors can also use the immune system to stay alive and grow. For example, with the help of certain immune system cells that normally prevent a runaway immune response, cancer cells can actually keep the immune system from killing cancer cells. – What is Cancer?

But, you know, don’t trust that link because government equals lies, all lies. And the Lizard Lords of the Illuminati control the pharmaceutical shills who work for the National Cancer Institute. And cancer never existed before vaccines. And if we just ate paleo and brushed our teeth with clay we’d be great.

If only I had had my chakras feng shui’d.

I’m furious about this because the alternative health movement preys on my people, the chronically ill, much more aggressively than modern medicine ever has. That’s right, I said it. These bloggers with too much time on their hands, these “practitioners” with “degrees” from diploma mills, these “healing crystal” and bone-broth hawkers INSIST if you would just eat the left hoof of a three-year-old sheep ground into fine powder mixed with mung wort and drink dung beetle tea and give yourself a coffee (or even better, bleach) enema, you will be fine! If it doesn’t work, then you should try rubbing sixteen essential oils on your belly button while levitating above a bath heated to precisely 145.236 degrees. If that doesn’t work, then you’re just a moron who can’t do anything right and you should probably just die anyway because natural selection and that’s how it is.

Satire and sarcasm, people. Satire and sarcasm.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve come across a site or article promising me healing for only three easy payments of $59.99. Just as bad as the “preachers” who ask, tears in their eyes, for your “financial seed of faith.” And oh, their cries against doctors! “They don’t care! They don’t know anything! They work for Big Pharma (whatever that means)! Buy my book! Call me for a consult and pay me an astronomical fee! Purchase this (food/water/rock/pillow)!”

Meanwhile, eight months passed between the time imaging showed I had a problem with my liver and the actual removal of the tumor. My doctors who didn’t care about me and wanted to make me sick and were getting paid big bucks to keep me “down” were incredibly cautious. They helped me come off of my medications – and didn’t give me new ones. They suggested dietary changes. Over and over I was told that they needed more information. More understanding of what was going on. When I finally did make it to the cancer surgeon, he was none-too keen on rushing into the operating room. He wanted to make sure that was absolutely the best option and even the last resort.

Hmmmmmm. Methinks something is off here.

What’s most especially awesome about these harbingers of health, these dispensers of wisdom to the poor deluded masses is that they often refuse to publish respectful dissenting comments. Or they go the other route and challenge someone to prove them wrong, and something like this happens:

A German biologist who offered €100,000 (£71,350; $106,300) to anyone who could prove that measles is a virus has been ordered by a court to pay up.

Stefan Lanka, who believes the illness is psychosomatic, made the pledge four years ago on his website.

The reward was later claimed by German doctor David Barden, who gathered evidence from various medical studies. Mr Lanka dismissed the findings.

But the court in the town of Ravensburg ruled that the proof was sufficient.

Reacting to the verdict by the court in the southern town, Mr Lanka said he would appeal.

“It is a psychosomatic illness,” he told regional paper Suedkurier. “People become ill after traumatic separations.” – Germany Court Orders Measles Skeptic to Pay 100,000 Euros

Measles is a psychosomatic illness?

What.

So you’ll have to forgive me if I pay ZERO attention to the claims of alternative health from here on out. You’ll have to forgive me if I roll my eyes. Call me a shill, call me a sheeple. Tell me I’m willfully blind. I DON’T CARE. 

Finally, if you’d like to do some starter reading regarding alternative medicine and how it should be approached with extreme caution, please see:

Alternative Medicine in the Church by Janice Lyons at Watchman Fellowship

Alternative Medicine: a Christian Perspective by George Smith, taken from Triple Helix, a publication of the Christian Medical Fellowship

My journey to faith. (15)