Yes, Mr. Blogger, LifeWay most certainly is pro-life

If you know me, you know that people joke I can make the Pope look pro-choice. I am pro-life to the nth degree, so much I irritate other pro-life Christians sometimes. There are places I won’t shop and things I won’t be involved with because of abortion ties. I research, read, write, and breathe LIFE. I say all this to say that the last thing you will ever find me doing is covering up for anyone in this arena.

That said, I am disturbed by a blog that is going around social media, in which the writer, Mike S. Adams, asserts that LifeWay’s book division is not pro-life. In his critical blog, Rightly Offended, Mr. Adams details his shopping trip to buy the new book on late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell, entitled, Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer. After his attempt to order the book on Amazon was met with a lengthy shipping delay, he goes to Barnes and Noble to purchase it. Critically commenting on the store itself, he remarks his journey to a far corner of the store that held only one copy of the book, which was not discounted like other new releases (since it is on the main B&N site, he doesn’t say if he asked for the discount in case it was a store mistake). Upset, he headed to his local LifeWay store, which is the real subject of his blog—using the missing book to make a parallel with the church’s silence on abortion. He says:

After looking through the small section and not finding Gosnell, I approached the woman working at the register and asked her to direct me to the pro-life section. I was disappointed when she told me Lifeway doesn’t have a pro-life book section. All they have is a section called “current issues.” She assured me that I could find the pro-life books there.

I took a look through the entire “current issues” section. There were a few books on homosexuality and a few dozen by authors telling us they were sure the world was about to end. But there was no Gosnell and only one book on the issue of abortion. It was on how to share the gospel with a woman after she had an abortion. It was only about 100 pages long. Just to the right of the book, I found a “finance” shelf with close to fifty different selections.

That pretty well sums up the state of the American church. For every Christian committed to defending the unborn, there are fifty “Christians” who are only committed to defending their 401k.

I wish Lifeway would make a statement by putting a pro-life apologetics section in all of their stores. But they are a just a business that serves and reflects the interests of churchgoers rather than proactively shaping the Christian culture.

Regardless, the book selection at Lifeway is a crude reminder of the indisputable fact that abortion only exists with the consent of the church.

Some of you may be surprised to hear me counter this blog because I absolutely agree that the church, overall, is silent on the issue of abortion. But LifeWay isn’t. Let me take you back to the day I made history without even trying. LifeWay had published a Here’s Hope Breast Cancer Awareness Bible, but it donated some of the proceeds to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, who funds the nations number one abortion provider, a fact LifeWay, like many at that time, did not know. I wrote an article about this—and suddenly it was on the front page of every major media outlet in the nation (and some outside the nation). So horrified was LifeWay to realize they were funding a direct abortion connection that the pulled the Bible off every retailer and ceased the sales taking a heavy financial loss. LifeWay head, Thomas S. Rainer issued an apology:

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That action became a catalyst for Komen making a decision to defund Planned Parenthood. The head of Komen at the time Karen Handel wrote about it in her book Planned Bullyhood, saying that article was one of the last straws. (Eventually Komen caved to the bullying and reinstated the abortion giant’s funding, and Handel left and wrote her book).

I have to admit, I was stunned that LifeWay did what they did because Adams is right that usually even Christian businesses can tend to focus on the bottom line of the almighty dollar in cases like this, but not LifeWay. I realized then that this was a corporation that was truly Christian. The moment they realized the connection with abortion they apologized and reversed the action—true corporate repentance.

But the story didn’t end there. Many months later, it turned out that some employee in a Walmart warehouse found a box of the Bibles that were to be sent back and somehow got overlooked—and he put them on walmart.com for sale. I can’t even recall how I came across it, but I did. I was shocked. I ordered one (with the intention of returning it for a full refund) to be sure it was a legitimate order and not leftover. It shipped, and I contacted LifeWay, ready for a fight if they went back on their word. But there was nothing to fight about. They got to the bottom of it, the employee error, having those Bibles sent back, as they were supposed to be. I had managed to come across it the very time the rogue employee found them, so the Bibles were never sold. Except the one that got through to me.

During this time, I had a conversation with one of the heads of LifeWay. I had left the company a voicemail the night I found the Bibles, and he called me back at 10 a.m. the next day—apologizing for taking “so long” to get back to me. Of course, it wasn’t long at all, but that’s how urgent he saw it. When he received my message—which had to be sent from whomever checked the voicemail on to him, he headed to meeting of the leadership team at LifeWay who would be the ones to contact about the issue. He explained he finally found the leadership team and they were in a prayer meeting so then he had to wait longer while they finished. He was offering this by way of apology for his “delay” in returning my call. Then he explained how they had tracked down the Walmart mystery and there would be no sales of that Bible. Either way, they had pulled out of Komen, so the pink organization wouldn’t be getting anymore blood money, Bible or not.

I forget some of the details of our talk, but for some reason he had to email me something related to it later in the day. I will never forget that afternoon. It was a Wednesday. I was in the prayer room at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, laptop open, getting some work done, but enjoying the atmosphere. I can recall where I was sitting and the “feel” of the room based on the Wednesday regulars I would always see at the 4 p.m. intercession set. I have such sensory memories of that day because of the email exchange between the LifeWay leader and me. We had a brief email conversation the afternoon of our phone call, and then at the end of it, he added something I will never forget. He thanked me. He thanked me for writing the first article and exposing the connection because they would not have known otherwise. Because of that, he said, they were able to get that book off the shelves and not be a party to funding any place connected with abortion.

The man who is a leader in a business thanked me for costing him money and horrible publicity. I wrote an article that got them criticized and had the media descending on them. My article was quite critical, though it was also quite true. It cost them publicity, popular opinion—and cold hard cash. And that afternoon one of the heads of that organization thanked me for doing it because they had more interest in the truth and being no part of abortion than they did money.

And I cried.

Right there in the prayer room, with happy music coming from the stage, and intercessors pacing as they prayed, tears flowed from my eyes. They thanked me. They loved truth.

I’d just come out of a season of losing friends and even ministry because I had been so determined to stand pure in the area of abortion that I eschewed eating or drinking foods connected with its funding. I had refused to be associated with compromise, and it cost me (by the way I don’t regret that either). And people were upset with me because they felt “judged” or that I was too “self-righteous.” In truth, I could do nothing else because the Lord had drawn me into the pro-life movement with a powerful and unmistakable call. And then He gave me both a voice and a pen to speak. But it costs you to do that. And on that day, here was a man whom I had cost thousands of dollars, and he and his organization loved truth more than cash. He helped heal some of that pain with that thank you.

Let me be clear: He got nothing out of it. The stories had been written; the tale was complete. It was all after-the-fact conversation. He wasn’t thanking me to get good spin on a new story, for there wasn’t one left. In fact, this is the first time I have publicly written about that event.

Since then I have gone out of my way to buy from LifeWay when I am in areas that have their stores. Every time I see a LifeWay store my spirit soars a bit as I remember the bold witness they took for LIFE.

So tonight when I saw that blog from Mr. Adams, I felt righteous indignation. I don’t know all the facts. LifeWay may not be carrying this book, but I assure you the reason is not that they are afraid to take a stand for LIFE. The publisher of the Gosnell book is Regenry, a conservative book publisher, but not an overtly Christian one. Maybe Lifeway doesn’t have regular connections with them or a distribution contract. Maybe they only sell Christian or inspirational books since they are a niche store and not a general bookstore. The Gosnell book is an important work and a best seller already. But a Christian bookstore doesn’t always carry secular best sellers. I actually would not expect to find it at a Christian store. That doesn’t even make sense to me.

I am also troubled by the fact that Adams’ n=1. He went to one store and then wrote a blog. Did Mr. Adams call LifeWay? I can assure him that LifeWay is responsive to bloggers’ inquiries.

Mr. Adams is correct about the lack of books on abortion. But that’s not LifeWay’s fault, nor should the Christian company be the scapegoat for Adams’ frusrating shopping experience. A few years ago, I was in a private meeting with the publisher of a major Christian imprint and a Christian speaker who is a household name in the church world, who wanted to write a book about abortion. I was going to help write it. The major publisher (whose name you would also know) told us that people don’t want to read books about abortion. And while I found that a sad fact, it was not surprising to hear.

Indeed, our pulpits are all-too-silent. I was in Christian ministry before I ever heard a sermon about abortion. It surely did not happen in my local church, though my churches would acknowledge abortion was bad, but that was the extent of it, usually. Last year I was privileged to be part of a pro-life apologetics class at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. I read multiple books on abortion for that course—and none was easily available in the mainstream. This crisis of knowledge does not exist because of isolated incident like one LifeWay store not selling a secularly published book.

I agree with the indictment of the church’s silence and have said as much many times, but I vehemently disagree with singling out a business of great integrity in the pro-life arena over one incident that probably has more to the story than he sought to discover.

My friends, LifeWay is not the problem, and Mr. Adams is not “rightly offended,” as the title of his blog says. LifeWay most certainly is pro-life. Its leaders have great integrity and love Jesus more than money. Someday I hope to meet them in person because the last email with that man was an invitation to contact him if I were ever in the Nashville area so he could give me a tour of LifeWay and meet me in person. Know why? Because LifeWay loves LIFE.

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The LifeWay leader pointed out to me that I could keep the Bible from Walmart.com because Komen wouldn’t be getting “one more cent” from them. So I ended up with a memorial stone from the Lord Himself. The book reminds me every time I see it that one blog can make a difference and alter many things, and the Bible reminds me that there are bold witnesses of truth and LIFE who care more about Jesus than money.

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The kangaroos have left the zoo: Supreme Court chooses bloodshed again

Today was the kind of day where food pictures were making me angry. Sometimes there’s a heaviness in the land that can’t be dismissed by hamburgers and heart emojis. Sometimes we have to stop and cry out in repentance, cry out for mercy, and stop pretending it’s all going to be okay when we have refused to take up our call to make it so. Today was that day.

It was Saturday night as I was processing with a friend about the pending Supreme Court decision. I had been telling people it was unusual of me to not have a feeling of which way it would go. With all the big SCOTUS decisions the past few years, I wasn’t always happy, but I was never surprised. Often the questions the justices ask in the oral arguments give us an inkling of where the ruling will go, and that was the case here. As I processed with a friend, I suddenly knew what was going to happen. It made sense. Not sense to a pro-life mind, of course, but sense as I put myself on that bench with their questions and views. They didn’t see proof the law had benefited women, so it would be an “undue burden.” I had 36 hours to prepare myself mentally. It always helps, but it never lessens the blow when you see the words. “Supreme Court strikes down Texas law.” That was all it took. I inhaled sharply. That was it.

Now to be fair, the entire law was not struck down. Only the two parts in question in this case—hospital admitting privileges for abortionists and ambulatory care center requirements for the surgery itself—were struck. But it was about more than that. It was the biggest challenge to abortion in many years; it was the first real indicator that this nation might take a hard look at the crime of child sacrifice again. In 1973 when Roe was decided, we didn’t have the knowledge and technology we have today. Back then people didn’t get 4D sonograms where they could see their babies’ faces in the womb a few months into pregnancy. There was still some mystery in pregnancy. But now we can see through the uterine veil, and yet we still destroy what’s inside it.

In this case we have decided that being an enlightened and progressive society means not making it difficult for women to kill their babies, nor to inconvenience the abortion clinics too much to get it done. As usual I have a few observations and opinions, so here goes.

  • I’ve noted for years that safety regulations like those struck down are standard for most surgical procedures. Abortion is a surgical procedure. Arguing that it is a safe one is irrelevant. Appendectomies are safe. Hip replacements are safe. Hysterectomies are safe. Just because the surgery might be one with a high success rate doesn’t mean it’s not a risk. If I were a supporter of abortion and thought I needed one, I would consider myself a fool to entrust my entire reproductive system to a doctor who would not even be able to admit me to the hospital if I had complications, whose office did not even have the right sized doorway to get me through it if I were needing to be moved in an emergency. It is a terrifying reality that the abortion industry has so manipulated women into thinking an abortion is as simple as getting your teeth cleaned. It is a risky procedure. Granted, not many women die having abortions (though all their babies do), but many have had terrible complications, sometimes resulting in emergency surgery for those complications. What a travesty of justice for everyone to say having safety regulations in place is an “undue burden.” If all medicine were run like abortion, we’d have a land filled with maimed and dead people. Striking down such safety regulations is like saying it’s an undue burden to have to swallow penicillin four times a day. Why the heck would you not want as much safety as possible in a procedure that affects your uterus, for Pete’s sake? It’s astounding to me how afraid people are to regulate a medical procedure with risks.
  • Justice Kennedy has proven he is not a conservative anymore. Whatever happened to shift him, we may never know, but his track record for a season now has been to side with the liberal justices. We have believed that we had a 5-4 conservative court, prior to Scalia’s death. In fact, we now have a 5-3 liberal court, and what hangs in the balance does not bode well for the future of this nation.
  • Scalia’s death did not affect this ruling. Had he lived and voted, the ruling would have been 5-4 rather than 5-3. In some ways that helps me digest it, knowing his death did not impact this, but it’s still a bad ruling that glorifies abortion above life and health.

Beyond these facts, here’s what really concerns me: This is bigger than two parts of a law that became a political game. Spiritually, it’s a disaster. The shedding of innocent blood is a big, big deal to God. If you have never read the Bible for the phrase “shedding of innocent blood” and considered abortion as one of the main ways that happens, I challenge you to do so, but be prepared to have your spiritual life shaken—as it should be, for this is vital to God. One of my favorite authors, John Ensor, has this to say in his book Innocent Blood:

God always presents the shedding of innocent blood to his people as a matter of the highest priority. It comes to us in a way that knocks us off stride (or ought to). It messes with our schedules. It is arresting. It interrupts our normal patterns, at least temporarily. When life-saving actions are required to prevent the shedding of innocent blood, it falls particularly upon us, who believe, to suffer the imposition and take whatever preventive steps are necessary, lest innocent blood be shed and bloodguilt stain us all.

Bloodguilt? Seriously? Yes. Very seriously. God didn’t change his views in light of current culture. Ensor says:

“Bloodguilt” is a blunt, almost vulgar term. It hits rudely, like a slap in the face. It is God’s chosen term to arouse godly fear and compel decisive action. It is a word of awakening, forcing us to recognize an unbreakable linkage: God’s image is debased and his wrath justly incited every time a person made in God’s image is unjustly destroyed. There is no debasing of God’s image without consequences.

Bloodguilt requires God’s vengeance and vindication. It stands as an indictment against the sin of shedding innocent blood, but it is also a promise, of sorts, to victims. These are they who cried out to God and received no immediate answer. To them, it may have seemed either that God did not care or was powerless to intervene. Psalm 9:11-12 reminds us that neither of these options is true—this is a false choice: “Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.” … And while he has his own reasons for delaying avenging wrath, he will not pardon it—he still has ample time to repay, and there is no statute of limitations.

Indeed, Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” And in Revelation, Jesus says of Jezebel, “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds” (Rev. 2:20-21).

We are fools who do not understand the ways of God if we think His mercy means no judgment will come. His mercy gives us time to repent, to turn and save ourselves and others, but God would not be a just God if He did not bring justice to those who are oppressed, and of all the people who need justice, no one is more innocent or helpless than a child who cannot speak. All these babies can do is squirm and try to get away from the vacuum that has come to suck them from the womb. And as that child shrinks back, to no avail, Jesus weeps and aches. He must avenge these innocent ones. Or He’d be a liar. If I may, I’d like to leave you with one more Ensor quotation to explain why we can reconcile the love and mercy of God with the justice and vengeance of the shedding of innocent blood:

Love is moral in nature. If this is still hard to grasp, consider this: If I come across a man raping a woman, I cannot love them both in the same way: in that circumstance, love to the woman will look like rescue while love to the man may look like violence. This is because love is inherently moral in character.

Suppose I approach the terrorized woman and her brutal assailant and say, “I love you both equally and must express that love in the same fashion. God does not want you to violate this woman, but please do not think he is angry: because God is love, he does not get angry. Isn’t that amazing!”

The woman would denounce my faith as cowardly, irrational, and evil. So would you. Love must love righteousness and hate evil. Love must be passionately committed to right over wrong. It must pick sides. It must fight for the weak and the innocent and oppose the violent and the wicked. Therefore, I must scream my lungs out, push the man off of her, shout for a neighbor to call the police—do something. If the rapist turns on me with his knife and I lose my life in the process of defending the woman, what will they say? There is no greater love than to risk your life for another (cf. John 15:13).

You see, if the unborn baby is a person that God created, whom He knew before He formed him or her, then His love for that person must also be expressed by dealing with those who would destroy him or her. It would be unloving for the Lord to not deal with that.

We have been silent too long. We have let abortion be a back burner issue, a political issue. We have cared too much about who we might offend, rather than caring about offending God Himself who will not be mocked.

On January 22, 1973, this nation turned on God in a blatant and despicable way as it sanctioned the shedding of innocent blood on a national level. On June 27, 2016, this nation had the opportunity to reverse some of that course by offering a token of restraint, a voice that says “anything goes is not okay.” Today’s decision would not have reversed abortion, though the many shuttered clinics would have saved lives. Don’t let the back-alley abortion lies fool you. And frankly, to not put common sense and ordinary safety standards on abortion clinics doesn’t make them much better than back alley abortions anyway.

The bottom line, however, is that bloodshed sanctioned on the national level has far more harsh consequences than the individual choice of one person to kill her child. Remember this: people are eternal, but nations are not. A nation that kills its own and refuses to regulate any part of that process in the name of progress has actually become a nation of barbarians who have chosen being their own god while acting like Satan.

Is it too late? Of course not! But it’s time to get serious, Church. It’s time to stop sidestepping an issue that God has under the spotlight. Joel 2 says it far better than I could begin to when he writes:

“Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
13 So rend your heart, and not your garments;
Return to the Lord your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger, and of great kindness;
And He relents from doing harm.
14 Who knows if He will turn and relent…

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
Consecrate a fast,
Call a sacred assembly;
16 Gather the people,
Sanctify the congregation,
Assemble the elders,
Gather the children and nursing babes;
Let the bridegroom go out from his chamber,
And the bride from her dressing room.
17 Let the priests, who minister to the Lord,
Weep between the porch and the altar;
Let them say, “Spare Your people, O Lord…

In short, stop your ordinary lives and pray. Churches, pray. Cancel the tea and call a prayer meeting. For real.

This is serious stuff. It’s not a political issue, and while good laws and righteous politicians help the cause, it is our responsibility as a church to take up our mantle and do the job with which God has entrusted us

still in it for life

It was a long time ago but it was yesterday. Standing in a stadium in California, stranger to the thousands, tired, sunburned, ready to be done with my first-ever significant fast, not even sure what made me spend over $350 on a plane ticket to go volunteer and pray in a place where I knew no one. Then it happened, late that evening, as I sat, alone. Ready to go but wanting to hold out. The verses. Bible verses. That was all. She read a stream of them, what the Word of God said about the shedding of innocent blood.

I wept.

Standing there, utterly exhausted and as in the flesh as a human can be, I wept because of what the Word of God said. In that moment I knew beyond the shadow of the slightest human reasoning that I was called to do something about abortion. I didn’t call it being called until later. I didn’t know what happened, but I knew that it wasn’t emotion that moved me. I had none left. I was exhausted. It wasn’t friends; I didn’t know a single person there. It wasn’t the speaker. She was a girl reading verses, non-dramatically. The Word of God is alive, active, shaper than a two-edged sword, cutting to my marrow. Yeah, that’s a verse in Hebrews, but it’s also reality. Because it did. It cut through me. I went home to Texas, but I was never the same again. That moment would define much of my future.

It was less than a year before God had launched me into pro-life ministry. I did pretty much nothing. It was the first time in my life I didn’t have to work to make something happen. One moment I was posting a pro-life article on Facebook and the next I was the author of the pro-life articles. I led a ministry in AL where people responded—to pray. Shoot, people don’t often come to prayer meetings when it’s something happy or neutral, let alone about abortion. I got invited to speak places, then got asked to write for a national blog, then found myself onstage speaking to stadiums. Me. The girl who just felt like she needed to go pray. If ever I knew God was doing something, it was in that. He had called me; I said yes.

This is what eventually landed me in the roles I had at IHOPKC, even though that went to all of the justice issues by then. Every Friday morning you could find me on that podium, usually with Action Figure Arm, crying out for life. My sweet leader, Ben, would often let me go first even though he was the leader of the pro-life department at IHOPKC. I didn’t care what order I went in as long as I got to take what was inside me and channel it into intercession.

And then it unraveled; it was crushing to my spirit. It was the 2012 election. In fact, it’s been stirring up lately with all the candidates throwing their hat in the election ring for 2016, reminders of those weeks. I wrote stuff people didn’t like because it was about the nominee. It was okay when he was only one of many candidates, but when he was a nominee, they insisted I was campaigning for the other side. I was campaigning for truth. What I found, as I have detailed before, was that people’s faith in God being in control of an election only extended as far as their candidate. It was impossible to believe, for most, that the “other” guy could get into office and God could still move. I became Public Enemy Number One to some of my circle. And it broke me. I found I had more faith than I knew because that was tested. I was disowned by some, rejected by others. Then there were the dear people who always loved me and stood. In fact, to this day, I love Ben because he was the only leader I had who ever, every single time he was checking in with me, asked “How are you?” and when I answered about what was going on with ministry, he said “I don’t want to know about your ministry. How’s your heart?” I cherish that still. He knew what mattered most. But by then my heart was too far gone. If Ben had been a woman, I might have answered more clearly because I might have broken down crying. But I felt like I had to be tough.

I’d like to say my faith in God moving no matter who was elected was all pure faith, but I had facts from the past that helped my faith. Since the last election, we had had more pro-life laws than ever enacted—and that proved true again. In fact, since the election of a man who fully supports all abortion rights, we’ve had more pro-life laws in our nation since the advent of legalized abortion. This is why I did not worry on this issue. I knew God was bigger. I dare say now that had we gone the other way, abortion would be more accessible.

Now I’m not here to argue politics. For the love of all things holy, please don’t argue politics. Little can divide the church so much. That was my last straw before my fall.

Eventually I left the ministry side of being pro-life. I was done. Without faith that God really was in control, I felt confused. What would we do when things got too hard? We couldn’t live without creamers that were made from tests that came from aborted fetal cells, so what would we do when our actual nutrition depended on standing for life? My heart got ugly, offended, aching, and I was done.

But I wasn’t done with being pro-life. You see, if God calls you, He doesn’t take it back. I am forever thankful for the pro-life news agency who hired me as a freelance writer about that time. In fact, they hired me about one month before I left pro-life ministry, which I see now as the Lord keeping that door open because I am called to life. Thus, I have been able to continue being a voice where the Lord called me, but without that ministry label that was so destructive to my heart (through lots of fault of my own, by the way, so don’t read this as a criticism of others).

Last week something happened I didn’t expect. I don’t need to detail that because the what isn’t important. What’s important is that without warning my heart beat fast, and my eyes filled with tears I couldn’t allow out. What’s important is that I wanted to stand up and tell everyone about abortion and Stericycle and medical incineration and fetal cell coffee creamers. So I wrote. I wrote so fast I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to read it later. I spilled words out to a private page, trying to harness thoughts I could not explain. Except I could. I knew that feeling. I had it that night in 2008.

As quickly as I could, I left where I was and got in my car, and as soon as I turned onto the road, I cried. Heaving, heavy sobs, for life, for legalized murder, for people all over who did not learn from history, for people all over who were ignorant as to the present. My heart broke for the heart of God which weeps all the time for what I only weep for when He touches me that deeply and I let Him. My heart broke for the ones who can’t weep for abortion, who have closed their hearts to prevent pain, who have denied the reality in the name of progress or financial independence. My heart broke into shreds there on the highway. I pulled over once I was away and I cried, and shook, and ached, and grieved, and I asked what this meant, what was next.

I have never doubted my call to life. What happened to me in that stadium was too profound. But I didn’t know what rose up in me that night last week could be so powerful again. I don’t know what the Lord is having me do with it, if anything other than remind me of what He has said and keep writing in a forum He has allowed me.  I have zero interest in entering ministry again, and yet I realize I have a purpose in pro-life ministry and that may happen again one day. I’m not doing anything to make that happen, but whatever He asks, my answer is only yes because we all know I have no interest in going backwards.

I don’t have a massive point to make with this entry. Really, I needed to write because the strength of the feelings overwhelmed me. I sat on the entry for a few days, but I still don’t know why it hit me as it did. I suppose if there are any morals to this story they are, in this order:

  • When God calls you, you don’t get uncalled. He knew what He was doing in the first place
  • Don’t elevate politics to a spiritual place it’s not. Do your part, follow your conscience as it’s rooted in Jesus, but remember that there really is one King, and He can take care of even what we see as negative.

 

This is a new blog because I have so much to say. Some of it’s really exciting about Jesus stuff, and some of it’s really heavy stuff I need to say publicly. I haven’t known exactly where to start so this testimony seems a good place.  I told God I was going to be posting this because I just knew he would do it. So please wade through the first part that may sound like complaining; it’s not.

Two days ago I got some really strange pain, sort of in my back, lower abdomen, maybe kidney? I couldn’t totally tell. I do have regular back pain, usually when I sit for too long. My doctors have always told me running helps it. Monday I ran 4.5 miles–and the pain continued. It didn’t get worse, but it never lightened up much. It wasn’t horrible then, but it was making my run a bit less fun. I finally decided to slow it down, so I could enjoy it more. It ended up being a good run, but with the cloud of pain. It didn’t get any worse from the run, but even sitting hurt. It bothered me because it was NOT like any of the pain I sometimes have. I knew it was different and it was making me nervous, but I didn’t want to be all whining about pain on FB. Monday night I went to bed at a normal time, planning to rise early and get on the road to Kansas. I had glimmers as I went to bed that I might wake up worse since the pain was getting worse, and even had the thought I might not be able to drive 6 hours.

At 3:44 a.m. I awoke. In pain. Serious pain. I went to sleep with a lidocaine patch on (leftover from a procedure a few years ago), and then wrapped a back brace over that, lightly. It didn’t help. The pain was so deep, and when lidocaine doesn’t work, you know it’s not a certain type of pain; that scared me more. I was in too much pain to get comfortable to sleep. It wasn’t that it was so terrible like I was keeled over as much as it was nothing would help it. I was miserable, sleepy, and praying as coherently as I could do. It was then I realized I might have to cancel a trip because I was too sick to drive. I even wondered if I couldn’t run. Run streakers run with the flu (only a slow indoor mile), so you can imagine how troubled I was to think that. I took some Celebrex, an OTC sleeping pill, and waited to sleep. It took an hour to fall back asleep and I didn’t bother with the alarm. I awoke again about the time I was planning to leave. I decided if I could just get there, that was accomplishment enough.

I took a couple prescription pain pills that don’t affect my driving, and packed up. I was feeling better—and was somewhat encouraged that at least pain pills worked (I was too sleepy and uncomfortable to get out of bed the night before and get these—and the Celebrex and other Advil I had was messing up my stomach so I added that problem to it.

The pain subsided enough that I felt better about driving. I knew I’d get good medical care in KC if I got there, so I just went for it. I drove straight through to Wichita and seemed to do okay. I went to the restroom and got gas, and headed for the last 2.5 hours of the drive. Almost as soon as I got back in the car, the pain was dominant. It wasn’t excruciating, but it was scary. Like walking or moving had triggered it all again. I could not get comfortable. I was scared at this point. This was not some running pain or strain from a bad workout. My pain pills were in my trunk, and I just wanted to get to Kansas so bad that I didn’t want to stop again. I only had NSAIDs in my car and wasn’t up to messing up my stomach. As it was I knew I had to get some stronger antacid meds until this passed. I felt like my body was falling apart. When I got to just outside my destination, I found a Target that was on my way to where I planned to go run. I had a goal of mileage for the day, and while it wasn’t long, I had given up and was going to settle for one slow mile to keep up the streak, if I could do that without extra pain. I was genuinely scared of this pain. I had goggled both appendicitis and kidney infections. Thankfully, I didn’t have a fever. I was getting nauseated, but mostly I think it was from the pain—you know how when you hurt too much it can give you chills and make you feel like throwing up? Or I was trying to deny that symptom.

I didn’t say anything because people always talk about this and that hurting, and plus, who wants to hear horror stories of what happened to someone else? So I was just praying a lot. I was so uncomfortable that my own prayers and worship would get interrupted because the pain was distracting me. At Target, I got some Prilosec, which I inhaled, and barely anything else because that involved walking. I was 15 minutes from the lake where I planned to run (hobble). I took two more pain pills and the Prilosec. I was feeling decent when I got to the lake, again, relieved that pain pills worked. I couldn’t be that sick if they worked right? Appendicitis wouldn’t respond to some piddly pain pill! I felt encouraged by that.

So I got out of the car to run and within the first 1/10 of a mile was smiling. It was cold and I was in a tank top and shorts—and that was my biggest problem physically. I have never thanked God so exuberantly for being too cold! The run (only 1.76 miles—which was more than I planned but felt so good) refreshed me and gave me hope. It recharged my prayers and I had a wonderful worship time as I drove to the running store. When I finally checked in my hotel, I was feeling lots better. It had been about three hours since the pain pills and I could tell the pain was coming back a bit, but it didn’t feel too bad—but I knew it was there. I had relief but I was not healed. I took another dose and another antibiotic, wanting to keep it in me if there were an infection.

I finally texted my friend and told her why I didn’t call while I was driving as we planned—the wind was loud but I was just too uncomfortable to focus on talking. I told her to pray. And later I emailed her with a lot of these details in asking her to pray.

I was just happy the pain hadn’t flared up as I went to bed. I got out two of the pain pills, one antibiotic, filled a cup of water, and got my OTC sleep meds and lay them all next to my bed. If I did wake up when this round of painkillers wore off, I would have it all right there to take and be back to sleep sooner. And I prayed some more. Because I wanted more than just relief and Jesus was working in my life a lot lately and I knew this was nothing. What happened the week or two before was a much bigger miracle. This wasn’t knocking me out.

So I prayed a lot. Well, I sort of pray a lot anyway now (see other posts of my crazy life!) But I was walking around like a crazy Charismatic anointing myself with oil because, well, there were no elders, so I decided I was the elder in my house and car! I have always had some unexplained faith for physical healing. I have never been a sickly type, something for which I am grateful and realize is a huge blessing which I do not take for granted (especially in understanding other types of chronic battles). But when my vocal folds got damaged when I was a teacher and singer (like I kind of needed healthy ones for every single thing I did!) I even had surgery by a guy who has operated on celebrity singers, and that didn’t help! I was sick for 13 months. One of the worst memories of my life as a worship singer was the night Mark (he’s not the bad memory) said, kindly, that maybe I better not sing that night because my voice wasn’t even holding out at lower notes. 13 months and some days after I first injured it, I asked a random person I just met (now my very dear and bestest friend, Camilla, who also had a vocal issue going on but was a worship leader, how she managed to just hand the mic to her sister to lead when her voice went out and not feel such grief. That night was the beginning of our friendship (14 years ago in May), and maybe that’s why God used that moment, but she prayed for me, a casual sounding, non-dramatic prayer (she’d just met me) and the next day I woke up with a full voice–and it never went away again. I don’t even know that I have been extremely hoarse when I got sick! In that same season I remember having what was probably arthritis in my thumb, constantly bothering me, and praying and praying–and Jesus healed it. Never happened again. In that same season once He even healed a cold. No joke. Jesus can be the cure for a common cold. (Wish that worked all the time). So I already had faith for physical healing, from those small experiences–except the voice thing wasn’t small; it altered my whole life dramatically–though the fruit of that was I began to dance more and that’s one way God used it. I couldn’t sing my worship so I had to dance it.

All that to say that between that and a natural faith I have always had, without any real experience with sickness in me or those close to me at the time, I have been able to believe for healing more than I can explain, and so I was on it with this pain.

This morning I did not have to set an alarm, so as I went to sleep the mystery was if I would wake up in the middle of the night or not. I woke up at 8:34 a.m. and realized immediately I had slept through the night. This time the pain pills had worn off and I didn’t need them! Then I turned over in bed. No pain. I got up to start my day. No pain. Was I healed? I wanted to run first, to be sure it wasn’t like how I was fine sitting in the car but when I walked in the travel center it triggered it.

I thought it would be good if I could run at least as long a I did Monday. 6.55 miles later—the longest run since my 15K in Tyler—at a faster speed than some races I have run, I knew I was healed. Zero pain, twinges, or anything else in that spot. The rest of me felt like I had just run 6.55 in the cold and rain, and my hips felt a bit of a strain. My abs felt it—but all of it was nowhere near the pain that had scared me.

How little it must sound to some to report a two day pain went away. But it was such a unique and scary pain. I could poke that area and feel it. It was not generalized like most pain. It was in one spot, and I was sure it was not okay. I have always believed your body gives you warming signs when something is really wrong. Most people I know who got a serious disease could identify small precursors and stuff. I don’t take stuff lightly. It’s never wrong to pray too hard or believe for too much healing, you know?

For two days (only two days, thank the Lord) I was afraid, nervous, distracted, unfocused. And in unusual pain. And Jesus healed me. And I told Him if He did I was going to tell everyone, and I do so with great joy.

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The glass of water and untaken pills. Amen.

This is a minor chapter of a major thing going on right now. Two weeks ago I was not the person I am now. It’s exciting, invigorating, fun. I feel like a child in awe of a new discovery. I have known the Lord a long time, but I have spent many years with a more cerebral knowledge than anything, trying to hang on to a faith that was damaged and actually did hit rock bottom one day about 1.5 years ago. That was one of the scariest moments of my life. In past years I would have never believed that I would passionately and excitedly write about Jesus healing a pain that hadn’t even been diagnosed as anything. But that’s the bigger point here. When Jesus comes in that way, everything changes—sometimes in a moment. That’s’ what happened for me. And this seems like the best place to start this new blog. Most of my personal thoughts are in an old-fashioned handwritten journal, some of them also go to a friend, but then I have bigger thoughts and experiences that I hope will encourage others.

Nothing has changed circumstantially in my life. I didn’t make a new friend, meet a guy, get another job, find a church, or anything else. Jesus changed me. And even if I wanted to shut up, I couldn’t right now. There’s nothing more important. Healing is a byproduct, but today I rejoice and praise Him for it.

Stay tuned for more spiritual adventures and spiritual commentary about some things it’s about time I talk about. But don’t stay tuned for any negative drama because that’s not how I roll.