Tag Archives: purpose

I almost died while giving birth

The doctor walked into my dark room and woke both Jim and I up only after an hour of us falling asleep.

“Kristin, you were suffering from HELLP syndrome. We’re lucky your husband will be taking you home too and not just your new baby.”

I didn’t know it, but apparently, I almost died while giving birth.

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Pregnancy felt awful. I was sick all day, every day for at least 8 of the 9 months. I ate little more than fruit and vegetables. Meat was terrible. Sauces: no thank you. And anything greasy? Ugh! I finally got some relief in month 7 and had a craving for real food: BBQ ribs. So Jim took me out to a local restaurant and we chowed down. There were appetizers, several entrees, and dessert, y’all. It was ridiculous and wonderful all at the same time.

I was finally living the “I finally feel good again!” again for a few weeks.

And then my feet started to retain water. And my stomach aches came back. My feet and hands started developing a red, dry, itchy rash. I wondered where in the world I would have picked up athlete’s foot and how it could have moved to my hands. I used an obnoxious amount of lubriderm to try to stop the irritation, to little avail. I was back in the hell of pregnancy. I was feeling unsure of my ability to give birth with what little energy I had. I was dreading waking up each day. I was feeling hopeless.

The stomach pain started to hit an intense level on a Saturday, and I struggled to sleep through the night. I reached out to the on-call doctor and he suggested I was likely suffering from the flu, and to keep my Tuesday afternoon appointment with my regular doctor. I felt really discouraged and not confident he was right. But it was the same-old pain I had been suffering throughout my entire pregnancy, so why get all worked up?

I stayed home from work on Monday because I simply hadn’t slept or eaten due to the stomach pain. That night, my feet reached a heightened level of itching. I actually got out of bed and put together an ice pack that would lay on my propped-up feet to make my toes go numb so I wouldn’t feel anything. By Tuesday morning, I told that doctor’s office they had better get me in ASAP, and when I walked in for a 1:30pm appointment, I was on the brink of tears from little food, extreme pain, and exhaustion. They took my blood pressure (a common action of every prenatal visit), and it was extremely high. My blood pressure had never registered as a concern to them in the past, and suddenly I was their number one priority. I was taken for an ultrasound to check on baby’s health, and they determined baby was ok but I was not. I completely lost my composure (from the hunger, hurt, and the unknown) and sobbed, while Dr. L came in and informed me to run home to grab a sandwich and meet her at the hospital in an hour. I was being induced.

As Jim and I met up at home, we realized: we were going to go have a baby. This is actually happening. And something’s not right. He reassured me the best he could, and we ventured to the hospital to meet life’s next journey: parenting.

I was offered an epidural, but was basically told because of my situation, it would be a good idea because they didn’t know how this labor was going to play out – and they knew I was already in a lot of pain, wanted to alleviate it, and prepare me for a long night. I was so incredibly miserable that I agreed to anything providing relief. They also began pumping magnesium into my body, in an effort to avoid seizures. A short while later, around 9pm, I was feeling a break and actually closed my eyes to sleep. It was the first time I’d really rested fairly comfortably in four days, as a result of feeling numb. Every hour, I remember being awakened by my nurse to check the dilation of my cervix. And every time I woke, I shook uncontrollably for several minutes, hence the need for the magnesium. It was scary, annoying, and frankly: I just wanted to be left the hell alone. We finally hit pushing levels at 5:00am.

And did I push. In every position. With every little ounce of strength I possessed. For three and a half hours. There were a lot of nurses in the room, and I wondered if that was normal, or if they were anticipating issues and needed “all hands on deck.” Mostly, I was just trying to not pass out. Or vomit again. The one time was enough.

The nurses gave those encouraging little cries every time I pushed: “Oh, you’re doing so good! Yes, keep coming!” But I knew when they weren’t good pushes. And it’s not like you’re not trying to give a good push. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. But Jim knows those encouraging little quips don’t help me, and he was dying to say, “You’re sucking! You need to do a better one! Step it up, girl!” But he was in a room full of medical professionals. He feared the repercussions of police questioning him and asking me, “Do you feel safe?” or “Blink twice if you need help.” And he feared the judgement of all those female nurses watching a husband be a total dick to this laboring wife. But I’m a tell-it-like-it-is kind of person. And negative criticism swings me into action faster than a polite comment on how I can improve something.

That baby FINALLY came out at 8:30am, and I just wanted to be left the hell alone. new-babe-owenI was so incredibly thrashed by the whole experience, and to be honest, struggling cognitively to take in my surroundings. I held Owen for a few minutes and then the nurses started to do their typical checks before taking him to the nursery. The medical staff recommended Jim and I get some sleep, and they’d holler at us in time to order lunch from the cafeteria.

At 11:00am, a male doctor (my doc went back to the office to see her patients) walked into my dark room and woke both Jim and I up only after an hour of us falling asleep. He proceeded to explain the complications I was having: low blood platelets not causing the blood to clot, my liver shutting down, and a red blood cell breakdown. Apparently my itchy extremities were a sign of my liver shutting down. And the magnesium was pushed to prevent seizures of preeclampsia. So every time a nurse woke me up, my body would shake for a short time – a lesser version of the seizure. If I had waited any longer, the outcome may not have turned out so well.

“Kristin, you were suffering from HELLP syndrome. We’re lucky your husband will be taking you home too and not just your new baby.”

I later learned I pushed for 3.5 hours because my doctor feared doing a c-section. She didn’t know if my blood would clot, which was necessary to survive surgery. She figured I’d have a better chance of survival with a vaginal birth. Jim told me later he’d notice Dr. L deeply thinking, perhaps about how to get Owen out. He didn’t realize she was weighing the options of how to keep both Owen and me alive. A friend later told me she believes God worked through Dr. L to make the best decisions to keep both his babies (Owen and me) on this earth a bit longer.

HELLP syndrome is a serious form of preeclampsia. It was only first named in 1982, and women are dying of it in 2016. Globally, mothers die at a rate of 25% once diagnosed. I know people who have friends who have died of this in the United States – in the past two years. I’m 25% likely to have this syndrome again if I become pregnant. I’ll be considered high risk. So I don’t know if we’ll ever have another baby. Because I’m scared of the 9-month nausea, the intense sickness and exhaustion, and the chance that I won’t live to see my babies grow up. I’m afraid of dying again while giving birth.

I hope parts of this story resonate with other mothers, and more importantly, I hope others know that if something feels wrong, speak up. Doctors are humans too, and we all make mistakes. Make the doctor’s office take you as a same-day appointment. Make them check twice. Don’t be embarrassed. You know yourself best. So always trust your gut. Especially your pregnancy gut.

The Devil Wears Dirty Laundry

I take vacation days to hermit. I choose to not talk to anyone. I watch at least two hours of YouTube videos. I verify all camera and phone photos have been backed up to Google Drive. I sit on my comfy deck furniture and drink chai, or wine, or both. And I do chores: wash windows, dust, iron. But this time, I struggled on my vacation day because I thought I’d choose to be selfless by choosing people. I chose relational time. I chose to “Mary” instead of “Martha.”

And these relational appointments didn’t align. First, I went to Owen’s daycare to help with a project at 10am. Drive home. Then, I went on a lunch date with my husband. But we argued most of the way to the restaurant. Drive home. Go to see the chiropractor because I tweaked my back loading concrete blocks (that’s a whole ‘nother blog post, y’all). I took three separate trips in and around town at three very different times, which I hate. I was feeling really frustrated and exhausted by all this, so much so that I came home from lunch and went straight to bed. Naptime on my day off. That’ll improve my mood.

But my phone rang 15 minutes in. Deal with it, go back to sleep. 15 minutes later, another call. Seriously?! Deal with it, go back to sleep. No joke – 15 minutes later, that sucker is buzzing again. You have got to be kidding me?! No one ever calls me!! I know you’re thinking: just put your phone on silent. But all my mamas hear me when I say, I don’t love doing that when my kid is at daycare because I want to be available should something happen.

I just want to be alone and do my chores! I don’t want to be relational! So I went to do a load of laundry.

But God took advantage of my day off to remind me of his presence – or rather, the Devil’s presence.

devil-laundry

I went to pull the clothes out of the washing machine and began hanging them up to dry. One of Jim’s sweatshirts came out with sleeves inside-out. And I was automatically furious. I think, “Why can’t he take 5 seconds to pull his sleeves out? Doesn’t he know it will save me time doing the laundry? I wash his dirty underwear! Can’t he be considerate?!”

As I’m starting to dig deeper into this angry pit, something stops me from falling in. I remembered the grace God gives me is something I know he wants me to extend to my husband.

Uh…left field thought? Yeah, I call that a “GDB”: God-Dropped Bomb. You know, a thought that just comes to your mind and the only way you can explain it as God’s presence and way to get your attention. I firmly believe God speaks to me via thought.

Jim doesn’t have any vices (wait…does hunting count?). He’s a good dad and husband. He just puts his laundry in the clothes basket with the sleeves inside-out. So I told myself to shut up. The devil is always after your positive thoughts. Let God’s Spirit be stronger.

I took some deep breaths (literally; it was intense, y’all) as I gave myself an invisible pat on the back for coming back to the land of sanity. I’m choosing to rise above. I’m choosing to extend grace in my relationship with my husband. I’m choosing to be Mary-like.

Then, I found tiny shredded up pieces of paper. You know, like when a kleenex goes through the wash? What the…? “Why can’t that man just clean out his pockets? First the inside-out sleeves, and now this?! What am I, his maid?!”

My rage grew as I continued to find piece after piece on every article of now clean clothing. And I started looking for a large piece. You know, the kind that would incriminate and prove he was the guilty party of this piece of paper. But they were all so damn tiny!

Then I remembered: I’ve done this before. Not the rage…well, yes, the rage. But I mean…leaving a paper in a pocket, which means I could do it again. This could be my piece of paper. And I’m preparing to go all crazy town on a potentially innocent man.

It’s the Martha in me. So I gathered what very little dignity I had left of myself in that laundry room and chose to move on. And I sat on the deck with a cup of chai.

In sum, what did I learn on my vacation day?

Being relational while trying to be selfless sucks. Especially when you really suck at being relational and make it difficult for all involved parties. And if you’re going to whine about being selfless (like through a blog), then you’re not really being selfless.

Being relational – period – is hard for this Martha, so I think I need to only do it in small doses. If I try to plan relational time during a vacation day or break I’m looking forward to, I need to either let stuff go, or plan less of the relational time.

The devil loves dirt. The dirtier the better! And I think dirty laundry is causing me to connect with the devil. I should probably stop doing it. Except for the fact that I don’t trust Jim to do it (hmm…I may be my own worst enemy and not the devil…). He mostly does it right, but there is always one clothing item that never gets hung correctly and dries with a nightmare crease – usually at a bottom hem. (I’m clearly in a very dark Martha-like place after this vacation day gone awry.)

Which means the devil and I will continue to have a laundry date every couple days. He’s gonna want to take advantage of my Martha-ness. Well, bring on your dirty laundry, devil. Because while I’m obviously not a strong relational Mary, I’ll keep working toward that end. And Mary has chosen what is better (Luke 10:38-42).

3 Ways to Live Less High-Strung

I’m a sucker for click bait. So when I saw the article, “7 ways to make life simpler,” I knew I was a goner. The timing is especially fitting considering the overly busy last two weeks I’ve had.

There has been too much on my plate and the to-do list is truly not getting any better. I mean, the work to-do list is going fine because I am at work eight hours every day. But the home/personal list? I can usually knock off a few things every week, but J and I are in such a hole of daily survival that nothing else is getting done. So I’ve nearly entered “Throw your hands up and screw it. Screw it all!” mode. But I’m a Martha, chained to the never-ending to-do list, so you know that’s only a realistic reaction for exactly 4 hours at which point reality sinks back in and the person God created me to be HAS to get back to finding supplies for the school auction project.

So of course I suckered for the article about making life simpler. Here’s what I learned:

I’ve already eliminated a crap ton of stuff by choosing to not feel guilty over saying “no.” Easier said than done, right? But I’ve hit such an extreme wall of overcommitment, that it’s been fairly easily to respond: “Thanks for thinking of me, but I can’t add this to my plate right now,” to several recent requests. And I’m eliminating a couple more responsibilities in the next two months.

My house is freakin’ clean. We have little clutter. It’s the downside and bonus of being a Martha. And OCD (not really, but close).

“Schedule one distraction-free time block every day.”

Alright, touche, blogger. I am so not doing this right now. I try to start yoga by 8:30 or 9:00pm, otherwise it probably won’t happen. I get up 2 hours before our family has to leave for the day, but apparently I should get up earlier. (Which won’t happen. I need at least 7 hours of sleep a night. 8 is ideal. I read somewhere that the most successful people in the world get a good night’s sleep. I need mine and a shower so I feel like a human again.)

“Accept. Appreciate. Be grateful.”

I know people who are like this. I am not necessarily bad at this, but I definitely am not good at this. I’m a whiner. And I’m judgy. Saying you don’t judge others is like saying you don’t sin. We’re human. We do it. It’s just about curbing the amount of it you do. And obviously, I need to have a judgment check-in. Daily. Well…maybe at every meal. That’s a bit more…honest.

 

So if I’m implementing half of these strategies, how do I really make life simpler? How do I relax?

Rather than living simpler, here are my tips to living life less high-strung:

  1. Wine.

Alright, I know, that’s not a very productive answer.

Or is it?

At any rate, it’s always the first thing that comes to mind. Ok, I’ll be less naughty…let’s start over…

Number 1: Breathe deeply.

When I am feeling like too much is coming at me, taking a few deep breaths does help a lot. It not only helps get oxygen to my brain, but it also provides me a few seconds of perspective to recognize I’m alive – and this project is not so terrible. Fresh oxygen to the brain always helps. Am I right?

Number 2: Dance and be silly.

Nothing gives me perspective better than my two-year-old diving into a home dance party with me. We work out our wiggles, throw in some giggles, and I recognize his total innocence in his perspective of this world. Being reminded of the simplicity of life gives me a break from the pressure I put on myself. And that’s good for me – physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Number 3: Connect with God.

I struggle to pray – either formal or via conversation. But I do find that when I sit with my thoughts, I sometimes get ANSWERS that I know don’t come from my own mind. They are God talking to me via thoughts. And that’s pretty cool. It’s my way of praying.

Living life high-strung is not a place I enjoy being. So here’s to more praying, dancing, breathing, and drinking. (Lord…am I a country song, or what?) And likely more instances of feeling high strung. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, and today I’m choosing to make life simpler. Wish me luck for tomorrow.

I’m Exhausted by Living the American Dream

The American Dream says I need to:

Be a loving wife who lets her husband enjoy his hobbies, encourages him even when you’d rather murder him for his illogical decisions, and offer sex several times a week.

Be a good mom who spends time with your kid. Don’t feed that kid trans fats. Play imaginative games. Read – a lot. Teach them new skills. Limit screen time. Discipline. Pinterest yourself into guilt and failure.

Take care of your home. (My floor needs to be swept and mopped daily – and we are only awake in that home six hours a day on weeknights. Key phrase: needs to be does not = actually happens. And you don’t even want to see the main bath toilet right now.) Keep washing clothes. Juggle the never-ending list of things to keep your home in order, which includes: freeze tomatoes, defrost the deep freeze, schedule an oil change (and don’t forget to go do it), pick up grass seed and dirt to patch the yard, go tree shopping, and do the monthly budget – which should have happened two weekends ago.

Don’t forget to have friends. Have great conversations. Even though you’re all stressed, exhausted, and just want to be sleeping instead of spending time together. But we know you’d be home pulling weeds or dealing with a screaming child if you weren’t together, so have another glass of wine.

Oh, and love Jesus. Read your Bible, do a daily devotional, pray, and be the best little Christian you can be. Radiate God’s love. Give – your money would be great, but mostly your time and energy. Which you have none of. Absolutely none.

It’s the American dream, y’all. All men are created equal.

But pull yourself by your own boot straps. Work hard to achieve success. And live in a 4 bedroom house with 2.5 children.

img_2399The thing is…J and I do work hard (and PTL we don’t have 2.5 children; one lil O is plenty for me right now). We worked to the point of exhaustion last week – first during the day at work, and second, doing upkeep on the home at night and taking care of lil O (hard work, y’all. You can see how I felt over this recent cracker package “dump”). While we’re both putting in 40-hour weeks, we’ve usually got additional responsibilities with our family and community. But what’s even more wild: we’ve said “no” a lot this month. No, we can’t help with a church project. No, we can’t visit family for a weekend away. So you’d think I’m sitting pretty, right? I wish…

Even with fewer responsibilities, I haven’t stopped to ask for help. I’ve reached the point where I don’t even know how to ask for help because I’m so damn overwhelmed and I can’t think clearly. And everyone around me – both friends and colleagues – feel the same. How am I supposed to ask when others are drowning too?

This feeling leads to me hunkering down and putting it in “go mode.” There’s too much to handle so I’ve chosen to be emotionless the past few weeks. I’ve simply shut out all feelings of frustration, loneliness, and even joy. I felt nothing. I thought it was the only way to handle the extra stress of this season of life. I just had to keep pushing through the to-do list. Because it had to get done. Right? I mean, what’s really the worst that could happen if I didn’t get it done? …Nothing, really. But I was on a mission. No time to consider the consequences. Just work your tail and get it done. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

But then, a moment occurred where things started to cut loose. Suddenly, it wasn’t all synching. It was likely watching 4th grade me try to hit a thrown baseball with a bat in slow motion. While I attempt to be, I’m not at all athletic. I’ve been less than blessed in this area, and by less than, I mean: bad. I’m straight up terrible at physical ability and coordination. So you can see where this is going…

I made a poor decision.

It impacted a few people negatively. Nothing earth-shattering terrible happened because of it, but I felt total shame. I didn’t fully consider the punch to others. I didn’t choose to feel the consequences. I didn’t ask for help. All my emotions boiled up and my composure couldn’t contain it any longer.

So I cried. I mean, “shut the door and just about wail” cried. I lost it because there is so much on my plate. I feel out of control. And I, like most, don’t handle “out of control” very well.

I know it’s important to give yourself permission to take a break. I read it on other blogs and hear it from other women all the time: take care of you first. I know why it’s important. I want to be better about it. But sometimes I just miss the mark. Sometimes I prioritize things over people, and everything over myself.

So God woke me up with a screw up. He reminded me I was doing life apart from Him. And once I realized He was trying to get my attention (which took 6 DAYS, y’all. This blow up happened 6 DAYS ago), my tightened shoulders suddenly let go of tension. I took a deep breath. I gave myself permission to sit down and close my eyes for a moment of peace. God’s not all that into living life drained. He’s more into living it joyfully – and together.

The thing is, I don’t feel any better about that huge to-do list today. And I definitely am not hitting the mark on “best friend,” “#1 mom,” or “wife of the year.” But at least I feel something today. Being cold to the world doesn’t help me have a better day or grow in relationship with anyone – including Jesus.

I remembered the American Dream isn’t so dreamy all the time. Because frankly: it’s exhausting. And God called me to be His before I call myself Uncle Sam’s.

Is an Illness God Talking to Me?

“Attitude changes everything.” “Happiness is a choice.”

I’ve heard these before and I know them to be true. You can choose to be a crank, or not. Your own mind is pretty powerful.

Look at this poor sweet sick thing.

I revisited this concept this week while reading an article asking me to identify one challenge I’ve recently been faced with. And the first thing that came to mind was: illness.

My boys are both at home sick today (do you see that sad pic of lil O? Melt my heart when my guys feel cruddy…). And I’ve just come off of what appeared to be three weeks of allergies. I was majorly low energy, especially when it came to playing with Lil O in the evenings. And that just sucks.

Then I was asked to identify why my challenge is an opportunity. Well, the first thing that came to mind was: you choose your attitude. So this could be an opportunity for me to choose a better attitude? I was kind of lost on how to make illness an opportunity. So I Googled it (‘cause that’s what Millennials do when they need to find an answer). I found 5 Tips to Turn Illness into Wellness. Hmm…intriguing…the post was mostly a bit hokey for my taste, but the first tip caught my attention:

Slow Down and Relax

Ha! Who has time for that?

“You,” I almost hear God in his deep, Godly voice say to my heart.

Well, crap. I am not good at sitting and relaxing. I always want to be busy. But maybe I was sick for three weeks (and get sick often) because I don’t get extra sleep, don’t drink enough fluids, and don’t generally take a break.

Or…maybe I’m just a little sickling. It’s probably the latter. But, still, It doesn’t mean the first suggestions weren’t a good idea.

Touche, God. I hear ya clucking. Us busy people need to relax. And not feel guilty or restless about it. (I mean, I will feel that way. It’s inevitable.) But maybe I can feel less guilty and restless because I’ve given myself permission to take a break.

I Wasn’t Gonna Talk Politics, but I Can’t Be Quiet Any Longer

I prefer to keep my political views offline, but 2016 has proven to be a whole other ballgame. I love being an American. I love learning about our country’s history (the good and terribleIMG_1751), I love voting and following the political process, I feel so blessed to live the comfortable and safe life I live (unlike war-torn countries or those with a lack of freedom). And I really want to be on jury duty. (Like really, really bad. I just get so jazzed up by participating in a historical process. I feel like I’m making history – because I am.) I even made “USA” watermelon treats for a 2012 summer Olympics watch party. Because: ‘Murica. And J and I LOVE attending rodeos. I feel like we’ve talked about this before, so that shouldn’t surprise you.

But lately, being American has not been…easy to be proud of. The violence happening in our country and the ridiculous rants coming from the presidential election and some protests are sending me into sadness, then rage, then…what are the five stages of grief? I feel like I might be somewhere in the middle…

So I had to speak up. I believe it’s important that we all speak up in favor of bringing good things to all people. But this election season has been and continues to turn a hateful corner, especially during this Republican National Convention. I know all election seasons are heated, but the hatred-filled words coming from men and women who claim to be followers of Jesus (and many who are not) are really missing the boat on what it means to be a messenger of the Gospel – or just a kind frickin’ person.

If you claim to be a follower of Jesus, you should recognize God’s greatest commandment, as cited in Matthew 22: 36-40. Some context: the Sadducees and Pharisees were testing Jesus with all kinds of questions about Jewish (Old Testament) law. A Pharisee asked:

“‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

It doesn’t say to spite people groups because of their sexual orientation, or gender choice, or race/ethnicity, or religious choice. Sure, you can find Bible verses that support hating things (that’s a whole other conversation, and one which I hope to blog about soon), but the key piece of information so many fail to recognize is: hate the sin, not the person. And Jesus tells the people to love – and not judge.

How can a pro-lifer encourage a scared, pregnant woman when shouting, “Abortion? The Supreme Court also legalized Slavery” (seriously – I found this suggested slogan on a pro-life website. But to give them credit, there were a ton of slogans listed with very supportive messages. So it’s not all bad and many are providing outreach in a helpful, positive manner). Then I found a website that sold super offensive bumper stickers, including one with a slash through a rainbow-colored “equal” sign, and another that, I kid you not, said: “My Apologies! If you look like a fag, walk like a fag and act like a fag, I naturally assumed…” WHAT?!? I about came unglued. These all communicate to me: not approachable. And that’s the nicest phrase I could come up with for right now. Which I think is rather generous.

Jesus shows himself living the great commandments when an adulterous woman is about to be stoned to death. Jesus stops the crowd, asking, “…Let anyone of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7b).

I know this verse well because my dad would recite it to my siblings and me often as a child. Missing Catholic mass in my house was not an option. And if you were too sick to go, you got sat on the couch and watched “The Hour of Power” on TV. Not Catholic, but close enough to meet reparations, at least in my parents’ eyes. Even on vacation, my mom would scout out the Catholic church and mass times of the town we were in. Not keeping the Sabbath is a sin, according to the 10 commandments (it’s #4, followed closely by #5 – Honor your mother and father). And we weren’t missing. But my mom didn’t bug my dad about missing – and it really only happened a few times a year, to give the guy some credit (“I was an altar boy. I’ve done my time.”). As soon as I started ragging on him about missing church, he’d all, “He who has no sin cast thy first stone,” me. And I’d have nothing. Oh, it’s a darn good verse to get you out of trouble.

And one American Christians need to start praying about. We are all sinful. I’m not perfect (though I wish I could be). We all fall short of his perfection. But we can all love. And when we greet Him one day in heaven, as a result of my love for others (which I fall way, way short of doing everyday people. I’m super judgy. It’s a problem. But I’m trying), I hope He will say to me: “Well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.”

That Time Islam Helped Me in My Christian Journey

The holy month of Ramadan for Muslims came to an end last week. One of the most interesting news orgs I follow, AJ+, profiled a woman who participated in Fasting for the First Time, even though she is not a Muslim, but wanted to understand the majority of the population where she currently resides, and just spend time with her friends.

ks

2004 with my fasting friend

This video really resonated with me because I had a similar experience during college. At my small, liberal arts Nebraska college, there was…one Muslim. But she was devout – and bold. She invited anyone on campus to join her – not in practicing Islam, but in fasting. And I was all in. 

I remember the first day. No food from sun up to sun down. She allowed us water (which is cheating, but she knew we were weak), but no food til about 7:30/8pm. And I was hungry. Desperately hungry. By 10am. I think you can see where this is going…So I started praying. And focusing on anything but my stomach. And when we got to dinner that night, I felt almost too unwell to eat. Obviously Muslims have figured this out and “break fast” with dates. I was nervous because I had never had a date (seriously, the new experiences my freshman year of college are really astounding) – and I loved them. I don’t know if I actually loved them, or if I was so hungry that even mud would have tasted good. (Ok, that’s a little extreme. But you get the point.) I should really try them again…

At any rate, the eating began. And oh sweet relief. Then: I made a plan for the next day. I set my alarm for 5am and woke up to eat three granola bars. It’s called preparation. And it’s probably cheating. But I never asked.

I started my morning better because I wasn’t totally on empty. But by lunch I was starving. So, again, I started praying. It was the the only thing that could keep my focus away from the hunger. And it was the only thing that helped me through the rest of the week. Seriously. It is wild how much prayer refocused my mind to not think about hunger. And as a result of all the extra praying for fasting (for 5 whole days y’all!), I grew in my relationship with the Lord.

While being reminded of this experience and sharing it with my Bible study group, someone brought this insightful tidbit to the conversation: Whatever you think of first when you wake up in the morning and last before you fall asleep at night represents who your God is. Well, isn’t that just tweet-able. Because it’s so dang true.

Which prompted me to consider: what do I think of first and last? …The List. It’s always on my mind (hello! I’m a Martha, people! See the About page for more details). And is obviously a cause of stress (I’m no joke writing this in the chiropractic office right now because my shoulders are in such pain). So this week I’ve been trying to focus on God right away in the morning and at night. Trying to let him refocus me. Trying. I’m not gonna lie; it’s going pretty poorly. I just can’t stop thinking about all the things I need to do. But at least I’m trying. And I’ll always have the memory of the time Islam helped me in my Christian journey. 

What do you think of first and last in your day? How does it reflect your priorities? What do you want to think of instead?