Friday, July 25, 2008

The difference a year can make

On the left, June '07, on the right, July '08.
30lbs. difference.
I promise I've only photoshopped the blur. :)

Although it may be hard to believe, at times my words fail me. I've re-written this post more times than you'd believe, because there's so much I want to say.

I could talk about why I gained weighted or how I'm an emotional eater. I could talk about how gaining and losing weight has a lot of screwed up emotions and memories in my life. I could talk about when it finally clicked that something was really wrong, and I needed to be proactive in dealing with it. I could tell you about the highs and lows, successes and victories. I could tell you about my inspirations and frustrations. I could talk about where I am now and where I see myself going.

And I would more than love to talk about all those things with anyone who's interested or is going through a similar struggle.

But the one thing I do want to say is that this journey is one that God's hand has been in from the beginning. It was His voice that stilled the lies about myself. It was His strength that enabled me to do things I thought I couldn't do. It is His creative mercy that has re-knit me back together more times than I can count. It is His love that has enabled me to love myself.

So all glory to God who has begun and sustained this work in my life. Thank you to those who have encouraged me through this journey so far. If you have any questions I'll field them in the comments.

To read more about the specifics or see some of my goals, click here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Chop chop

Sometimes it's time for a change.



My cousin (center) cut my hair. Me, Cousin Mary, Sister Molly.

She hasn't gotten much blog play, so here is a picture of my sister and me.

And what's a trip to Texas without a picture of the dog nephew, Rowdy.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Let's keep talking...

One of the greatest blessings of my life has been the ministry of Let's Start Talking. I can't begin to list the ways it has enriched and blessed my life.

Long story short, what LST does is use the Bible, generally the book of Luke, to teach conversational English classes.

As I add up the years, I think I'm going on 8 years of being involved in some kind of LST work. I went to Brazil twice with them, did 3 years of classes at MRCC, did classes in both Japan and Brazil while I lived there, and now have been studying with some new friends from the Cross and Crown Mission in OKC since the beginning of the year (you may remember the tamale story).

If you want to see the Word of God as living and active, then read it with those who haven't grown callous to the stories many of us grew up with. Without exception, I have learned so much from each of the people I've read with. They open my eyes to new perspectives and new insights, and I thank God for all of them.

Sometimes I'm foolish enough to go into my classes with the attitude that I'm the one ministering to my readers, but the truth is that they show me God's love so powerfully. Today my friend, Juan, gave me this beautiful glass he etched.

God is so good. I pray He continues to give me opportunities for my eyes to be opened and for Him to show me more of His love toward me and the entire world.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Part 2 of 2

Healing. If you want to talk about a bitter-sweet word in my life, that would be it.

If I were asked to define "healing" free from context, I would describe it as a coming back to wholeness from a state of brokenness. In theory, it has such a natural, soothing sentiment and conjures peaceful feelings within.

But once you start to unpack what healing is to different people in different circumstances, you find the path to wholeness comes in different venues.

In my own life, this was more or less the path of healing over nine painful months.
  1. My illness growing to the point that it was undeniable something was wrong and needed treatment
  2. Doctor consultations
  3. Endless tests (CT, x-ray, scopes, blood tests)
  4. Medications (again, too many to list)
  5. Central line IV nourishment in place of eating
  6. A chest tube
  7. Surgery
  8. A feeding pump
  9. Blood transfusions
  10. Prayer- didn't necessarily come last, it was interspersed throughout the process
If you were to ask me what healed me, I would say the sovereignty of God*. If you were to ask me how I were healed, I'd elaborate into the aforementioned process.

I believe firmly in the supernatural power of God to heal. I know those who have experienced it and within a moment their afflictions were gone. I believe the Lord not only wants us to pray for healing, but commands it in James 5. And I believe when we pray for healing we should pray boldly and with faith (I have written about this before here).

Sometimes healing is instantaneous. Sometimes healing is a process. Sometimes a medicine, a surgery, a diagnosis. Sometimes it is death.

When healing is talked about in the church, it seems that there are two scriptural aspects to physical healing that we sometimes forget.

One is that healing, even when performed by Jesus, was always incomplete. Everyone Jesus healed, even those He raised from the dead, died again. At this point in the great story, only Christ has received the complete healing that conquers death. But it is because of that promise and hope that we know we can receive our complete healing at the end of time.

The second forgotten aspect of scriptural healing is that even once we're healed, we still show the scars. Jacob limped after wrestling God, Jesus' scars remained after his resurrection, and even Paul claimed to bear the marks of Christ on his body. And it seems to me that rather than being marks of shame, they were marks of victory. Like I said in my last post on illness, trauma changes you. Maybe it's supposed to, and the scars you carry are the witnesses to your testimony.

It is much easier to write these things two and a half years out of my last health crisis. There are so many questions I still have and things I don't know. To give the impression that I have reached complete understanding and peace with my own physical trials would be a lie. But two of the things I know for sure are that God has given me a testimony to share and scars to always remind me of my healing.

*I have come to answer this when I talk about the whys of why I survived. One thing I was firmly convicted of throughout my illness and still is that God was good, merciful and gracious regardless of what happened to me, so I will not attribute my healing to His goodness, but instead His sovereignty.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Part 1 of 2

July always gets me thinking about my own mortality. Probably not the typical thought you expect to hear from a 26 year old, but since when am I the typical 26 year old.

July 2 is a big mile-marker, Ebenezer type day in my mind. In 2003, it was the day I was released from the hospital after a six week stay. In 2005, it was the day that I flew home from Japan to seek more medical treatment. Ironically, I call July 2 my independence day, although the truth is that the hardest times came post-July 2 in both cases.

So for the past 3 years, when July rolls around, I start thinking about hospital stays, doctor visits, and those times when I didn't know what was going to happen with my illness.

I have written some about the spiritual implications my own illness has had for me (reference- here). At some point I need to write more, because I feel like I have a testimony of how God worked and is continuing to work through a very painful time.

Trauma changes you. I envision it as something changing within your personality's DNA. Maybe your soul's DNA, I'm really not sure. I think it holds true for all types and varying degrees of trauma, but certainly illness. In our very emotionally-aware society, I think it's tempting to elevate emotional distress (which in many cases is valid), but also diminish physical distress as some lesser suffering, since it's "only physical pain."

Anyone who would say that hasn't been in pain. Anyone who would say that hasn't seen their death as imminent. And those moments change you.

We live in a world of decay. Everything around us is in a state of decomposition, because we live in a fallen world. Illness is part of that. I don't believe illness is God's will for our lives, although I do believe he brings redemption to our falleness.

To be continued in Part 2- Healing.

With much credit to Edward Fudge's statement of faith concerning healing.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Psalm 139- a fresh reading

God is in a season of building intimacy with me, I believe. This weekend I was blessed with Psalm 139 to meditate and keep on my heart.

The Spirit moved me to try this exercise to make it more personal. It was born out of thinking about Yahweh, the personal name of God, and what that should mean to us. Then I envisioned the Lord speaking my name to me when he talks to me.

So I took Psalm 139 and switched the voice around to make it read from the Lord to me. The result stirred my heart so deeply that I thought this type of exercise it might bless others as well.

Maybe the Lord is wanting to reveal his love letter to you. Take this and replace the "Ann"s with your name. Let me know if you are blessed with any other scriptures read in this way.

Ann, I have examined your heart, and I know everything about you.

I know when you sit down or stand up.
I know your thoughts even when you're far away.

I see you when you travel and when you rest at home. I know everything you do.
I know what you are going to say even before you say it, Ann.

I go before you and follow you; I place my hand of blessing on your head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for you, too great for you to understand!

You can never escape from my Spirit! You can never get away from my presence!

If you go up to heaven, I am there; if you go down to the grave, I am there.
If you ride the wings of the morning, if you dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there my hand will guide you, and my strength will support you.

You could ask the darkness to hide you and the light around you to become night—
but even in darkness you cannot hide from me.
To me the night shines as bright as day; darkness and light are the same to me.

I made all the delicate, inner parts of your body and knit you together in your mother’s womb.
I made you so wonderfully complex!
My workmanship is marvelous—how well you know it.

I watched you as you was being formed in utter seclusion, as you were woven together in the dark of the womb.
I saw you before you were born.

Every day of your life was recorded in my book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

How precious are my thoughts about you, Ann.
They cannot be numbered! You can’t even count them!
They outnumber the grains of sand!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Freedom and Faith Festival

One of the coolest things our church does is the traditional 4th of July celebration with Quail Springs Baptist church, right next door to us.

Raising holy hands in prayer without anger or disputing... imagine that.

Quail also has a pretty rock awesome praise team. Here they are performing. We have instruments, but they just enhance an already incredibly talent group of singers. :)

Mourning into dancing from Ann W on Vimeo.