Sometimes a Sick Day is the Therapy We Need

It’s been a rough week, health-wise, in the Russell household. Anastasia’s been dealing with the coughing funk the past two weeks and I finally had to take her in (to the doctor, not the house, even though at times I was tempted to leave her outside at night, but I fear I’m sharing too much right now) last Thursday.

Noah’s cough started up this past week and today it was his turn to head to the doctor. When I signed him in at the doctor’s office, I swear the nurse looked at me funny, as if I were using my kids to get drugs or something.

Maybe I’m just being sensitive. Either way, I’m sick of the sickness and long for life to be back to normal.

However, I’ve noticed something different in Noah today…he’s talking with me more and even cuddling! He’ll turn eleven next week and each day he seems to pull more away from me and more towards his friends and his room.

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There are some bands that I never tire of, no matter how many times they've sung albumns through my heart. Tenth of Avenue North is one of them. Thankful for these lyrics this week.

I know i need you
I need to love you
I love to see you,                                                                                                                                                 but its been so long
i long to feel you
i feel this need for you                                                                                                                                         and i need to hear you
is that so wrong?
oh oh oh, oh oh oh, oh oh oh

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Help: A War Cry, Not a Cry of Desperation

“Help” is a word of desperation. It’s what we say when we think we can’t go on. That’s not the case for the biblical writers, though. For them, it’s a war cry.

The psalmist said: “I lift my eyes to the hills from where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psa 121:1–2 ESV).

In the ancient world, people thought the gods dwelled on the hills. So the author looks to the hills, not to flee, but for aid. He then acknowledges that his help comes from Yahweh (the Lord), who made heaven and earth. What is there to fear in the earth if everything in it is God’s?

But here’s where it gets really interesting: God is all about empowering us to do His work. That means that His gifts, His abilities, become our gifts and abilities. That’s what Paul talks about in his first letter to the Corinthians:

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Healing: It's What We All Need

Spiritual gifts or curses? Back in October, I opened a series of posts with that question. I was convinced then, and am now, that the primary reason why many of us feel empty is that we’re under utilizing our spiritual gifts. Unless we’re following God’s will, we’re not being who we were meant to be. That doesn’t just hurt God, or others, it hurts us.

One of the under-utilized gifts is healing. The world needs healing. Paul would agree. Here’s how I know.

When Paul describes how the church should function, he describes church offices, and then discusses gifts. It’s a tragedy that miracles are rarely seen in our churches—it’s a sign that we’re in spiritual gridlock. Healing (in Paul’s context) is about wholeness. 

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Learning to Hope

I am cautious with my heart, not by nature but through experience. Yet Trust has been a recurring call in my journey with Christ – trust, and pain, and hope.

The first call I heard from the Lord was: Trust Me to make you whole. I had accepted Christ as my Savior, but I was anything but whole. I didn’t know how healing could happen; I could not imagine any world in which I did not carry this pain with me. Persistently and gently, though, the Lord called to me: Trust Me to heal you. Like the woman who reached out to touch merely the hem of Jesus’ robe, I hardly dared ask for His attention – and He turned and gave me the fullness of His healing grace. Even now, I am staggered by the power and grace with which Christ worked in the dark places of my heart.

The second time I heard that call was in the context of writing my book and – even more so – doing publicity interviews this past summer.

Spiritual Gridlock: The End of Miracles?

“My grandma is in the hospital, and she needs prayer. Can you pray for healing for her?”

“Of course, let’s pray.”

There’s nothing wrong with this dialogue, but the conversation ending there is tragic—yet, this is how most prayer meetings go. We pray to God like He is going to do all the work. We act like we don’t need to be involved. Ultimately, God does do all the hard work, but that doesn’t make us exempt.

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Mysterious Ways

Johnny take a dive with your sister in the rain
Let her talk about the things you can’t explain
To touch is to heal
To hurt is to steal
If you want to kiss the sky 
Better learn how to kneel
- U2’s “Mysterious Ways”

A couple Sundays ago, I was walking into the 9 am service at my church (I typically think of the 9 am service as the “grown up” service, because the people that go to that service no longer care about sleeping in.  Since I’ve turned 30, I’ve become “those people”.  I’m also contemplating taking a bus to work periodically.  I think this is my mid-life crisis.), minding my own business, saying hi to some friends, and looking forward to being just another “seat filler” for the service.  (I spent my time doing some ministry work earlier this summer, I was ready to just sit back and hear about God!  Cut a 30-year old some slack, okay?)

Obvious (or not) Wounds

When I was in second grade handball was all the rage.  We played it with big red rubber balls against backboards on the playground.  One day I was playing against Amy Watson, a third grader, and she went for it- hit an ace, leaving the ball very low to the ground.  I was not about to be shown up by a “big kid” so I launched myself toward the ball as if I were sliding into home plate.  I slid right across the asphalt on my nose.  I stood up in pain, half embarrassed, half proud of my all out attempt.  Turning to Amy Watson, I asked, “Is there a mark?”  Looking straight at me she replied, “No, I don’t see anything.”  Unconvinced I ran to the bathroom to see for myself.  There down the whole length of my nose was a huge scrape.  All the skin was gone.  “How could she not see that,” I thought.

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Peace Corps Ponderings

I had the honor of filling-out a recommendation for a Peace Corps applicant this week. And though its questions were impressive, they weren’t unlike what I’d expected—except for one. And as I’ve sat with this particular question since, I’ve realized it’s one we rarely pose, either to ourselves, or to each other, and yet one I’m increasingly convinced as destructive to live without.

“Are you aware of any circumstance this applicant may be resisting in light of his/her pursuits with the Peace Corps?” In other words, are they running from something? And if so, please extrapolate on the vacant lines that follow.

It’s (delightfully) tempting to think if I jump-ship from my current circumstances, I’ll jump-ship from my current consequences too. If I cut ties with that person, or cut communication with that situation, life with once again breathe free and easy. And in an extreme case, like joining the Peace Corps, what could be better than few thousand miles of virtuously directed breathing space, right? Wrong.
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Who Needs a Doctor?

Modern medicine and I have been about as amicable as oil and water. We share each other's company when we have to, but otherwise don't mix well. But healing and intervention have decorated my conversations lately in such a way that I've been forced to (re)think this mix.

Scenario #1: I was speaking with a young girl who leaves tomorrow to spend the remainder of her year in Mozambique, Africa. Sharing her greatest fear, she expressed that of contracting Malaria. When I told her I'd had it myself, and clearly survived, tears of relief streamed down her face. I explained though, that as soon as my symptoms took hold, I'd gotten myself to a nearby clinic. A neighbor diagnosed that same summer, however, chose a different route of believing God as the perfect Healer and refusing the clinic. She died within 48-hours.
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