Before the New Year

I’ve never been married or even close to it. I wasn’t even that kind of kid that talked much about my wedding day or my future husband. My dreams were to become a power ranger, and yes while I did want to marry the Red Ranger, my dreams weren’t wrapped up in marrying in him, but rather in doing life with him.

Lately, I’ve been really grateful for my relationship with Jesus. It’s been a gnarly couple of years with adrenal crashing and recovery, heart joys and aches, and all of the personal growth that comes with it. This growth was costly and confusing most of the time and my relationship with Jesus felt like a roller coaster. I wept to him and laughed with him. I doubted his promises and called him a liar… several times. I questioned his voice. I confess I still do that. I’ve felt so loved and so let down.

I went through some angsty and painful disillusionment this year. This wasn’t questioning His existence, but rather what a life with Him was really supposed to look like. My angst has been laregly displaced by peace, but I still have many questions without answers. And answers that just have led to more questions.

But through it all, He’s been mine and I’ve been His. I didn’t understand, I still don’t most of the time, but every night when I fall asleep, He’s there, and every morning when I arise, He’s there. I’ve given him the silent treatment and the cold shoulder. He’s given me space when I needed it and taken my breath away with his kindness.

I’ve told him to go away, I’ve called him a liar. I’ve been not excited to see Him at times, but found so much contentment just being.

Someone once told me that you know love is true when you just want to sit and do nothing with someone. When you don’t always get excited at the thought of seeing your beloved, but rather are just grateful that they are there.

In some ways, the butterflies are gone. Not always- I still get excited by Him and I know that there’s so much more to Him than I even realize. But in the place of the highs of emotion, there’s a stability and a peace to knowing that he’s there, breathing with me, sleeping with me, rising with me. There’s passion, but there’s something deeper: there’s the peace that comes from being known as I am known.

And I know that I don’t know everything. That every day is about falling more in love with Him because He is the source of love. But tonight, before the New Year, I am grateful for covenant, for friendship, for stability.

 

on the subject of modesty and slut shaming

There’s nothing like injustice to pull me from the clutches of my blogging slumber.

Okay, I’ll be honest. I wrote this while procrastinating for finals. Sometimes procrastination is the best motivation. #amiright.

A couple of months ago someone told me a story about a woman who was attacked outside of a bar by a man. The person telling me this story said she thought it was probably because the girl often wore low-cut shirts. This anecdote was the precursor to the “modesty-talk” that many of you women, if you grew up in a conservative Christian home, were probably privy to. I’ve heard this talk on several occasions, even gave it when I was a youth pastor, so I know that it comes from the purest of intentions. I wasn’t angry at the woman who gave me this talk recently, because I knew that it came from a place of genuine concern.

There was nothing but love in her eyes when she expressed her fears that my workout shorts would cause my male friends to “stumble” and put me in an uncomfortable, potentially dangerous situation. Sound familiar? Remember those youth group days? You know the ones where boys and girls were usually split apart and the girls were taught how to prevent boys from stumbling, while the boys were told to not look at porn. I think the boys left promising to hold each other accountable by viewing each other’s internet history or something. The girls left believing that it was our job to save our boys from their impure thoughts. In doing this, we also instituted a belief that if a man were to “mess up”, it was on our heads. In short, the modesty talk says “because you wear this, the guy does this. You are in charge of what he thinks and does.”

no-rape

I call BS. What the world calls “slut-shaming”, conservative Christianity calls the “modesty talk.” If more clothing resulted in less rape, then rape wouldn’t happen in Pakistan, where women are completely covered. It’s not a modesty issue; it’s a respect issue.menmonolith

By attributing blame to the woman for the the guy’s actions, we’ve created dis-empowerment all around. The modesty culture dis-empowers women because it casts blame on them for another’s actions. This culture also dis-empowers men, because it suggests that they cannot be held responsible for their own thoughts and actions. Do we think so little of the men around us? Some of my absolute best friends are men: Ian, Spencer, Dominic, Robert, Jeff…. just to name a few. These men are some of the most incredible people in my life and better friends than I deserve sometimes. I know that we are wired differently, but I also know that they wouldn’t do anything to hurt me, not just because they respect me, but because they respect themselves. We’re all made in the image and likeness of God, the fountainhead of love, honor and respect. To suggest that men are first and foremost lust-filled dogs that must consistently fight their urges to jump the other sex because her butt crack is showing is giving them far less credit than they deserve.

Now, I want to insert a caveat here, so please keep reading before you show up in bikinis to church.

I am willing to believe that most men are slightly more visual than most women, because there has been empirical evidence that has proven this to be true. Therefore I am not suggesting that women should just run around naked to prove a point and not care about the reaction that you may be creating.

bad hair days wont stop this jacket from killing it

bad hair days wont stop this jacket from killing it

 

Respect yourself and respect those around you. And use common sense.

 

I am also not telling you that you shouldn’t dress “modestly”, nor am I proposing that kids should start wearing fishnets. I’m hitting at the why we tell girls to not dress a certain way.

 

 

Honor is one of the predominant driving forces of my life. It leads me to get low and to follow some guidelines that I find to be archaic or that I don’t fully understand, and it leads me to genuinely try to understand those guidelines. However, honor also causes me to challenge systems that seem completely dishonoring to me. The modesty talk may have began with good intentions, but it has become at best a viewpoint full of errors; at worst, it’s just slut-shaming with bible verses.

Cheers to freedom. xoxo.

ryangolsing

+  It’s not your fault if a guy attacks you, even if you were running around naked, just like it wouldn’t be Ryan Gosling’s fault if you jumped him whilst he was jogging in the buff. I know that I’m right. I’m so right. But that doesn’t mean that the world has caught up yet. Just because you should be respected, doesn’t mean that everyone will agree, regardless of what you are wearing.So, go take a self-defense class. Like you, I’m so over people telling me that I should take self-defense or else I’m “asking for it.” I agree that you are only asking for it when you are literally asking for it- with your words and your free will. But I also acknowledge that there are people out there who are just wrong. They are hurting, therefore they hurt. It’s okay to take steps to protect yourself until this backass world gets a lil more fixed.

when we grow up

what do you want to be when you grow up?” he mumbles lazily, as we sit in the grass watching the wind play with the water.
“when do we grow up?” I ask.
“you know… when we feel we’ve figured it out. maybe when we have a dog and a fish, with a fence to hold a house in. maybe when there are two cars parked in a garage and enough money to host dinner parties with lobster and charades.”
“i don’t think I want to grow up then.” I says. “lobster freaks me out.”
“okay. well at the end of your days then: what do you want to be?” he replies with a sigh that is more expectant than impatient.
“laughter.” i says.
“laughter?” he asks, “how can one be laughter?”
“i think you just know it when you are it,” i says.
“But why not something… better?” he asks as he turns to me, blocking my view of the water.
“Better?” i ask, moving to see the water.
“Yeah, better…” he replies,” like love. don’t you always say it’s love that makes the world go around?”
“there are many things that make the world go around: puppies, the sun’s gravitational pull, procreation, politics… but I guess it is love that sets it all in motion… except maybe politics. but to answer your question,” I say before he can remind me again, “i am love- two beautiful holes in true love’s hands sealed that deal already, without my choice or opinion, but I think laughter is my choice.,. and I think I would want to be something that I have chosen to be, along with something that I truly am.”
He seems satisfied with that response, and we both return to watching the wind tickle the water and the water flirtatiously push the wind away.

technology

“do you ever wish we could go back to a simpler time?” he asks me, between bites of ketchup slathered french fries.
“yes.” I say, before taking a bite of my lettuce-wrapped, bunless, grass-fed burger with extra organic mustard and no mayo. My burger quickly slides out of the lettuce’s slippery grip and onto the floor, leaving me with a mouth full of mustard.
We sit in dissatisfied silence. Me, dissatisfied at the poor design of my meal and the mustard that I am now doubting is organic. Him, dissatisfied at me and my lack of response.
Finally, I swallow the mustard, reach for his fries and milkshake and ask, “what do you mean by simpler time?”
He waits for a minute before answering, unsure if I’m humoring him or genuinely curious. Eventually he either assumes the latter or ignores the former. “I guess I mean a time before constant updates, a time when people didn’t feel the need to share every little detail about their lives. a time when there was more anonymity and less…less… you know?”
“identity?” I interject.
“well yes and no…” he says, grabbing his milkshake back. He pretends to be annoyed that it’s all gone.
I pick up his iphone: “Siri. look up antonyms for anonymity.”
She responds in a british accent: “okay, I found this : almond: an oval shaped edible seed of the…”
“No, Siri, antonyms for anonymous”
“the answer is onymous”
“Okay, Siri, what about anonymity?”
“Who, me?”
“Siri, I don’t think we are understanding each other.”
“Ok, you don’t then.”
He wisely interrupts my conversation with Siri before it gets too out of hand, as these conversations have sometimes gotten. “See, this is what I mean. Before, we would have just had a simple conversation, just you and me. But now, now we’re in a world where we can get information about anything, anytime. Before, life was just simple. Don’t you ever wish we could go back to a different day, a simpler time, before life got so complicated?”
“Before what exactly?”
“I dunno. just before.”
“Before technology?”
“Yeah. maybe. maybe before cell phones.”
“My answer is still yes.” I tell him.
And then I throw his cell phone out the window.

tree hugging dirt worshiper

Miur woods. San Francisco, California. 02-12-2013. 3:35 pm.

I’m appreciating the value of the spoken word more and more. My weeks of solitude have beget more silence than I thought I’d be comfortable with. Last week, I went three days without discussion. Sure, i said a few words here and there to get around, to get by, but discussion was internal. I have loved it. I have hated it. I have needed it.

There are so many things that don’t need to be said. Especially in nature, when the earth and it’s Creator are speaking so loudly. If we would only listen to the story, I wonder what we would discover.

That death brings life. Trees fall and create bridges to new territories,  inviting sojourners to vast expanses of the unknown.

Perhaps that kids are the best birth control ever. Perhaps this isn’t creation telling me this. I think it’s more the screaming children that have disturbed my serene cocoon, wrapped up inside the heart of the tree. I love the softness of this place, the musky smell of rotting wood, soft enough to sit on, yet sturdy enough to hold me. So peaceful. So serene.  Johnny, just give your sister her hair tie back and scram. Hey look, is that a troll? I hear they hang out in these words, and the screams of children wake them ravenously from their slumber. The family leaves before I can say this. I doubt I would have said it anyway. But maybe I would. I chuckle a little, and the tree shakes with me.

These woods are so old. I can’t help but wonder… I ask, Did you feel when the savior came? An ocean and a continent away, did you groan when he died, or did you understand that his death meant your life as well as mine? Restoration for us all.

I sit. I listen for a response.

I hear: broken English. Babies crying. A conversation about schedules and needing to go to the gym. Shhhhh. I’m sitting right next to you. A belching lady. A babbling brook.

More voices more voices more voices. I wonder… I ask:  Do you ever weary of humanity? Noise noise noise?

I sit. I listen for a response.

All I hear is noise noise noise.

But humanity is wrapt up in nature, my spirit speaks. From the dirt we were created. I am young compared to these trees. we are connected. So many don’t see this, they ignore the creation around us. Prefering treadmills to trails. Head lights to starry nights. They rip it out to create more space for their noise noise noise. But if we would only selah pause shut up and listen to the worship of the wind the brook the hum. I believe we would find the river that runs through it all. We would hear the sound of grace redemption restoration.

We-if we would allow ourselves to be wooed by the silence, we would be captivated by the creator. All of creation worships its creator. It beckons and calls us to be swept into the river that runs through it all. Hey you there. Don’t just stop to look at the trees. Don’t just click click snap and walk away. Selah pause shut up and listen to why your heart responds to this beauty. What is the beauty trying to tell you? To show you? grace redemption restoration.

True hugging dirt worshiper? No. No, you are not. You’ve just stopped to dip your toes in the the river that runs through it all. Be swept into it, into what has liberated us all from decay.

“Shhhhhh honey,” a man tells his daughter before entering the sanctuary of trees, “we’re going to be quiet because we’re stepping into a church.”

“But why daddy?”

He doesn’t respond. He just takes her hand and leads her in. Image

liar.

It’s been six and a half months since that adrenal crash.

2013 is almost over but I don’t feel like it ever really happened. I remember starting this year out knowing that it would be significant. I got baptized just before turning 25, and felt that this was going to be a year of foundation. I flew to California and had a love journey with Jesus as he shared with me His heart for that land and Austin and the world. And then I came home and my body crashed. The past six and a half months have been… not what I expected this year to be. The fatigue isn’t really the part that gets me; it’s the irrational way my body decides to feel at times as my hormones are trying to level out without support from their main organ. It’s all so unpredictable. It seems like when I start to improve, something crashes into me like Miley Cyrus on that wrecking ball. I actually have no idea what that song is about; I just saw a vine parody of a man crashing into a fence on a tire swing. Imagine me being the fence and the naked fat man on the tire swing being… life. Or maybe don’t imagine that. Too late? Lo siento.

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Here’s something to clear your mind; it’s from a dream I had a couple of weeks after the adrenal crash in March:

I was running from the law with several different people. They eventually caught us and were going to take us to jail. People were terrified and looked at me, wondering what we should do. I decided we needed to pray. I bowed my head, not sure of what to say; I felt shaky and scared. I opened my mouth, and praise and thanksgiving came out of my lips. I thanked God for the opportunity to change the prison system, I spoke and declared revival over that jail cell, over the warden and the officers and the inmates, and thanked God that He trusted us with such a sweet opportunity. I praised His goodness and faithfulness and love.

After I said amen, a sweet girl came up to me and told me, “Anna, I don’t have the faith that you have. I’m scared. I don’t want to go to prison. I’m just scared.” I took her hand and said, “I’m scared too. And I don’t want to go either. But the way I see it is that we have a choice: we can focus on our fears or we can focus on the goodness of God. Both are true. We are afraid to go to jail, and God is always good. So why not focus on His goodness and His love? Even if we still feel afraid in the process?” We cried and hugged each other.

As we walked into the jail cell, I remember being terrified. Not just because I was in jail, but because I was very aware that I was sick. I was terrified and unsure of how to get better if I was trapped in a jail cell. Somehow, the warden worked it out for me to sleep upstairs, outside on the roof in exchange for taking care of someone. I remember there being lush green plants scattered throughout the roof and sleeping in peace. At the end of the dream, we were released from prison. When I was walking out, I saw lush green plants all throughout the jail. Revival had broken out and the prison became a place of freedom and life for people.

I woke up in love with Jesus. Isn’t he just so sweet to us?

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have days where I feel like giving up. Yesterday was hard and my face was wet to show it. After seeing two doctors and not really seeing a ton of improvement, I came home pretty heartbroken. Six and a half months may not seem like a long time, but it sure feels like a long time. It seems like every couple of weeks, I cry out to God, “I’m ready to be better now! Ready to go again. To change the world through frozen bananas, travel, heal the sick, wake up the sleeping to who they truly are. I was made to DO THIS STUFF.” “Were you made to do or made to be?” He asks me. I get it. I do. But that doesn’t mean than it feeeeeeeels good. Feelings. They can be a real beach sometimes.

I came home and tried to talk to God about it. I tried to remember the promises he had spoken over me. I tried to speak them over myself. But all I kept thinking about was Jude Law in that awful movie “Closer” when he is trying to convince Julia Roberts of her love for him. “But you kissed me,” he tells her, as if that is a sign of her true commitment to him. “What are you, like twelve?” she scoffs at him. I walked around Hampton, laid on the grass for a while, and heard Him say, “I am not a man that I should lie.”

After a while, I went home, and He repeated it to me right before bed. I decided to see if this was in scripture somewhere, and found it in Numbers 22:19. “God is not a man, that he should lie. Nor a son of man that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?”

#faithful

#faithful

Sigh. He is so good to me. I can’t see what He’s doing, but I know that I know that I know that He’s trustworthy. And also He’s crazy in love with us, which means that it ALL works out for my good.

Let it be.

—-

What are some promises you have over your life? Have you seen them come to pass yet? What are you focusing on right now?

and we have a diagnosis!

The email in my inbox said, ” salivary cortisol panel results came back. patient appears deficient. Call if there are questions.”

Uh… heck yes I have questions.

1. Don’t you think it’s rude to tell me I’m deficient and not explain it?

2. Your mom’s deficient.

3. Deficient in what?

Cortisol apparently. This, combined with all of my other crazy symptoms and blood tests all point to [drum roll please]

ADRENAL EXHAUSTION

ADRENAL EXHAUSTION

What does that mean? Basically, my adrenals (what regulate stress, cortisol and hormones) are shot, and they’ve been that way for a loooooong time, which has affected my thyroid, pancreas and brain.

But… I’M 25 and healthy- how did this happen? Ohhhhhhh let me tell you. Come, children and learn from my mistakes.

Basically, I pushed my body for too long. I had an adrenal crash four years ago, but we had no idea what it was. When I first had some of the symptoms a few years ago, I had been working with kids like 60-70 hours a week for four years,  going to school, leading four prayer hours, opening up the business, preparing to go overseas and trying to foster community. Seriously.

My adrenals were overworked and then shut down. At that time, I thought it was Meniere’s Disease, and we weren’t really sure what to do with it. I rested a little while and then went right back to running around trying to save the world. I opened up Bananarchy, then went on the World Race, which… man, it is by the sheer grace of God that I was able to do that as well as I did. I came home, and went back to my life. I had just learned to get used to my symptoms. And I learned how to rest better last year. But something just snapped in the beginning of March. It may have had something to do with California. As awesome as it was, it was crazy at times, and that probably contributed to some of it. I worked out realllllly hard the night that I got sick, and they’re thinking that was the tiny straw that broke the camels back.

There is so much I can say about why why why this happened to me, and I plan to soon.

….I’m in good company with this whole adrenal thing. Many of the spiritual leaders that I admire have  had it: Bill and Beni Johnson, Kris V, Leif Hetland… several others… Rest is a big deal to God it seems.

How do I get better?

treatadrenalfatigue

REST. Restorative sleep is crucial.

Supplements to get my body back to normal and to replenish things that it can’t produce on it’s own.

Hormone Replacement therapy.

Laughter and peace and safe community.

eating every three hours. not elevating my heart rate. (so I have to eat alll the time and I can’t work out…just before swimsuit season….. cooooool……. 🙂

They say it takes 3 months to two years to fully recover, and I’m believing that it’ll be sooner rather than later.

How can you help?

Pray. Oh how good God is to us! There are so many many many things that God is doing and showing me through this. It’s been the most difficult couple of months, but so beautiful. He answers prayer. It’s amazing how much He listens to us.

pray for:

– my sleep. Apparently, the hours before midnight are some of the most critical to healing the adrenal glands. The goal is to get to bed by 10, but… it doesn’t always happen. Even when it does, I’m usually lying there for awhile. Insomnia is one of the symptoms of Adrenal Fatigue. Please pray for restorative sleep, and that I would fall asleep quickly, PEACEFULLY, and stay asleep as long as my body needs. When I’m tired is when I’m the most vulnerable with my thoughts and feelings, so the nights are usually the roughest.

daughter-of-a-lion

Drawn by my amazing friend, Audrey Lopata. I am so loved.

– Peace. Because this has effected hormones and stuff, my feelings can be so whacky. Random anxiety is another symptom of adrenal fatigue, because cortisol levels are all over the place. I never know when I’m going to have a good day or a bad spell, but I want to have peace in all of this.  I feel like that’s one of the biggest things God is teaching me: to rise above feelings and know His peace at all times.
– there’s been so many people that have gone out of their way to love me. I’ve been praying that God gives them twenty times the blessing they’ve been to me.
– Bananarchy. Really just my business partner, Laura. This is alot for her to carry on her own.

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– The thief will repay. So, yeah, my health is kinda wacky. But I believe that God is doing something in this season of my life to restore ALL things. To redeem everything about my life and prepare me for a life of joy and rest, regardless of what happens. I want to have deep encounters with Him. I want to use this as an opportunity for Him to do the most that He can out of this. Because He promises that all things work out for our good.Something that is REALLY cool: when my body gets better, like better better, I should be healthier than I’ve been in like ten years. At least. Yay God. We’re going to take this world through REST. AMEN.

God has been like amazing amazing amazing throughout all of this. And the biggest way that I’ve seen His love is by you guys. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. times a million.