Thoughts on Jubilee

Maintaining a state of jubilee has been harder than I had imagined. It is difficult to live in mental, emotional and spiritual freedom when the walls of my world are continually closing in. It isn't easy to not think of myself as a sick and struggling mother when that is my reality on most days. It is almost impossible not to fixate on my symptoms when they are constantly changing, surprising me and even sometimes making me laugh at the strangeness of it all. On the other hand, it is an effortless thing to allow my mind to wander to the things I would like to be doing that I cannot do, to my disappointment that I am not the mother I desire to be and to my growing realization that getting better is going to be far more complicated than loosely following a diet for a couple of years.

When I first began the GAPS diet last September, I envisioned a slow and steady journey toward healing. I saw myself getting better and better until--voila! While I rejoice to report that my digestive symptoms have improved significantly during the last 7 months, the ground has unexpectedly crumbled beneath my feet in other ways. My environmental sensitivities continue to worsen. In addition to toxins, fragrances and latex, I have become violently allergic to peanuts. I came very close to going into anaphylactic shock on Sunday evening after attempting to make peanut butter for Micah. I simply breathed in peanut particles released from the garbage can and within a few minutes my body temperature dropped, my sinuses swelled shut and I was struggling for breath. Now, peanuts are banned from the house indefinitely, and life has become even smaller. Weirder, too--I have ordered a good-quality cotton mask to wear in public as a safety precaution. If you ever need a giggle, just imagine the thoughts of my fellow grocery shoppers. On the bright side, a mask may make occasional church attendance possible again.

If the only opposition to my efforts to live in liberty were physical, it is possible that I would be having more success. But we are whole people whose bodies, souls and spirits are all intricately intertwined. When one part of our make up is assaulted, the other areas suffer. If our entire composition is assaulted at once, it is only by the grace of God we stand.....or at least get back up again.

Jenny received disheartening news at her last two doctor's appointments. I know she is going to hate reading this, which is why I feel it necessary to remind her that I love her as my own soul. I can't separate the two anymore so it is impossible for me not to take her hard news personally. (So there! You can't be mad at me.) A couple of weeks ago, she was told that the chemo was no longer working. The liver tumors were larger. The cancer in her esophagus had returned, and it had spread to her lungs and stomach lining. Experimental medicine was considered, but last week she was released from the trial because they had run out of the smaller sized pills and Jenny could not swallow the larger ones. I will not for a moment pretend that the difficulty of the past few weeks has nothing to do with her circumstances. Jenny continues to amaze me by her capabilities in spite of constant pain and a grim prognosis. As she often reminds me, she still has today and God will provide her with breath until He is ready to call her home. I'm just afraid He's going to call her before I am ready to let her go. I know it won't be a goodbye--rather more like a "Bon voyage!" and an "I'll be along soon"--but I tremble when I anticipate the pain I fear is coming.

I have been under considerable duress physically and emotionally, so it follows that I would be affected spiritually. And I have been. I have felt distant from the God I so need, the God I so depend upon for everything from what to put on my daily to-do list to the strength to pull it off. I haven't liked it. With no way to fix myself, I asked Him to fix me for me. I searched His Word for answers. I  prayed. I quieted my soul so I could hear Him. When He was ready, He spoke--

"Let go. Trust me. Give thanks."

The message came to me in no less than five books I was reading at the same time over the course of three days. It came to me in emails, in conversations.

"Let go. Trust me. Give thanks."

I heard it in a podcasted interview online. I saw it on Facebook. It was spoken in a sermon.

"Let go. Trust me. Give thanks."

After several days of being pummeled by these instructions, I received this helpful hint--

"P.S. It's all tied together."
It was during a conversation with Jenny that I realized what had happened and was able to verbalize it. "You know?" I said. "I think my problem is that I am suddenly doubting God's goodness."

Now, I know God is good. I have known that since I was three. I have memorized Scripture passages teaching the theology. The cross proves it. Without thinking, several examples of God's goodness to me in particular come to mind. The truth of God's goodness is a part of my spirit's bone structure, but my soul had lost touch with my spirit's conviction in the midst of the day to day struggle of being me. Because I had lost touch with this truth, I was suddenly trying to place the circumstances in my life in an order that made sense to me. It wasn't working. I was becoming frustrated, feeling overwhelmed and getting

I had to let go. I needed to trust God. I was called to give thanks. The three instructions are pretty interconnected. To let go, I have to trust. When I give thanks, it's easy to let go. When I'm trusting, I can clearly see God's goodness, and gratitude is a natural by-product of the process. But I couldn't start with letting go or trusting because I can't will myself to do either. However, I could will myself to give thanks. I didn't have to look far to find things for which to be thankful.

1) Jubilee Farm coming to life

 Thanks for the photo, Ann Marie!

2) Baking with babies

3) Sara's first egg hunt

4) Meeting Mr. Clarence, the precious man who provided me with goat's milk last summer when I could eat little else.  Mr. Clarence belonged to my Uncle David's congregation at Good Hope Baptist Church. He gave to me because he loves my uncle and our Lord.


5) The first planting and planting party at Jubilee Farm
 Our beautiful plants purchased from Yak's Farm on Hwy. 33

 Enjoying a tomato just a few minutes before getting stung by a wasp. Poor baby!

 Meet Rich who might as well already be a part of the family as Micah now asks for Auntie and Richie. :)

Only two and a half weeks after beginning my Gratitude List for 2013 (inspired by Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts) I have 45 gifts recorded in my journal. That's forty-five items that remind me that God is indeed very good and worthy of my trust. Forty-five items telling me I can let go.

Living in a state of jubilee is not pretending that life isn't hard or putting on a good face. Jubilee is saying, "God I trust You have our good at the center of Your plan" even when we can't make sense of things. It is looking at the world as a giant gift and life as a grand adventure. It is believing that life is still good even when it is painful. It is being able to say "thank you" when you are lying on a mattress only conscious enough to know that if you close your eyes for a moment you may wake up in Heaven. It is being able to pray as you are about to toss your cookies into the toilet. It is a peace that goes so deep that it doesn't matter if you never get well because healing isn't your real prize anyway. It is knowing that even if you lose a part of your soul, you'll get it back one day. Jubilee is Jesus, and that is something I always have and am never without.