Now that I've crossed the NaNoWriMo finish line, I thought I'd give you all a long overdue update. A lot has happened in the past few weeks.
But first, let's talk about NaNo.
I finished the morning of the 25th. That's 50k words in 25 days (aka my fastest writing pace ever). I managed a few hundred words on Thanksgiving, but between the holiday, recovering from the holiday, and the gloomy weather, I just haven't had it in me to write any more. I'm all...
Even though it's totally not. I need to complete the draft before Christmas if I want to release 2-3 books next year. And call me crazy, but I do.
NaNo isn't my only news. God has been on a prayer answering roll.
1) Ministry Opportunities:
One of the things I've missed during this illness is ministry. God has given me plenty of one on one ministry opportunities over the years, and I've relished those, but I longed for something...more.
Back in January, I researched human trafficking and sexual slavery for my novel, Eleora.
Here's the thing--all information comes with a burden. When you learn something, you have to do something with what you learn, whether you act on it, discard it, or choose to ignore it. Once I knew what was happening in the world--what was happening in my home town--I couldn't do nothing.
I met with Lindsey Nadler of Project 41 in October to go over her beta reader notes for Eleora. Prior to the meeting, I had prayed God would provide a way for me to become involved with the ministry. I told Lindsey of my interest and how I was waiting for God to heal me, to which she said, "If you're serious about wanting to get involved, I need someone to organize a prayer team. We need people who will take prayer seriously."
Why am I always surprised when God answers my prayers? I mean, we have a pretty good rapport going, and yet I was so stunned I barely got the words out--"I'm your girl."
Our team meets via conference call at 5am on Wednesday mornings. I'm no morning person, but I love denying myself that bit of sleep to meet with others to pray. I can't think of a better way to start my day.
Lindsey also invited me to teach a writing and journaling class as soon as I'm well enough to do so.
Back in the summer, the Lord began speaking to me about pursuing community again. He brought the subject to me through Scripture, prayer, blog posts, conversations, an expert consult on the book of Job. The message was everywhere: Pursue Community.
I was confused. Again and again, I asked, "What do you mean, God?"
Well, things have become clearer.
For months, I've prayed for writer friends. Women in particular. (Not that I'm not super thankful for Len Woods and Leo Honeycutt.)
After taking a couple of Kristen Lamb's writing classes and surviving her Death Star editing treatment, I joined WANATribe, a social network for writers. Most of the members are women! Kristen and I are now pals, an unexpected gift. A handful of us meet in the chat room for "writing sprints," in which we write as many words as we can in 30 minutes and compare counts. (It's writing as a competitive sport. It's awesome.) And I met kindred spirit Talena Winters on Thanksgiving Day.
In addition to a writing community, God has given me the gift of...
"God places the lonely in families..." Psalm 68:6
When I think of the community the Lord brought my lonely little soul into, I think of the word "family."
The connection was instant.
When I walked into the Siegmund's home on Friday night, October 16, the love of the Lord was so thick in that place I smelled it on the air. I tasted it. I waded through it on the way to my seat. I breathed it in, and basked in it all evening long.
I remember looking around the room that night. No one knew because I wore my mask, but I was grinning for most of worship and Bible study, thinking to the Lord, Thank you. Thank you. I've found my people!
Guys, this weirdo has found a home. Even as I write that, I tear up.
The story of how God led me to this group and what I've experienced since deserves its own post, but honestly...it's a gift so personal and precious I'm not sure I want to share it. Not here. I tremble at the thought. I don't think you could understand if I did. For now, I'll just hold it in my heart and savor the kindness of God. But if you ever want to hear the story, don't hesitate to ask. I'll do my best to describe the indescribable.
And consider this--when God prompts you to do something that confuses you or seems a little crazy at the time, trust Him. Act. He not only provides the means to obey, but the reward is breathtaking.
And sometimes miraculous.
3) Physical Healing:
Yes, you read that right. I'm experiencing legitimate physical healing.
It's been going on for a while, but it can take time to notice. You can't miss a new symptom when it shows up, but when symptoms begin to disappear? It's hard to keep track. You go about your life as it is and then one day you look for the old symptom, and it's not there.
Either late this summer or early this autumn, I noticed my fevers were gone. I used to spike a temp with every reaction and every time my monthly visitor came to call. Not anymore.
October 12 was my last bad bout of histamine-induced insomnia. Since then, I've fallen asleep with (relative) ease, and I (usually) sleep through the night. And get this--more often than not, I wake up feeling rested. If you have an autoimmune disease, you know what a miracle that is.
At my most recent check up with Dr. Yakaboski, my adrenal health tested nearly perfect. My last episode of anaphylaxsis was in the spring. Since June, I've enjoyed regular church attendance. And not once have I left community/prayer group sick. Not once!
While all of this is a very big deal, I'm pretty excited about my latest healed symptom, which followed the heels of a very special experience.
My community group has recently trained in a program called Christian Healing Ministries. CHM is an intercessory ministry for people in need of spiritual, emotional, and physical healing.
I was the first client to apply.
The week before my session, which was the Sunday night before Thanksgiving, I prayed. A lot. I knew God was going to heal a few specific spiritual battles and emotional issues, but I also sensed I would experience physical healing that night.
So I shared my thoughts with Brandon, Mom, Nona, the kids, and a few of my friends, and asked them to pray.
All week I prayed, "Lord, I come to you with open hands, ready to receive anything you want to give me."
The night before and throughout the day of the session, Sara would burst into spontaneous prayer--"Dear Jesus, please help Mama be able to handle da cold so we can teach her how to play in da snow."
I know she's four, but it felt prophetic, y'all.
I approached the session with a little bit of fear and lots of expectation. It was very different from anything I've ever experienced, but extremely powerful, personal, and healing on all fronts.
Once again, the experience was far too precious and personal to share in detail, but I would like to share this one very special thing:
(Note: Yes, I know the word is "welts."
No clue why I mispronounced it a bajillion times,
but Micah refused to record another take for me.)
To give you a point of reference, I took this photo one night a while back after peeling refrigerated sweet potatoes with nitrile gloves on. The photo quality doesn't do it justice, but you get the idea.
What I love about this:
1) The Lord healed something my kids could see. They'd been praying for me to be healed. God answered with something visible, boosting that childlike faith. I don't have a ton of visible symptoms, so that's kind of special.
2) God's thoughtfulness and kindness. For over a year, I've accepted discomfort as part of the cooking process. It is what it is and all that. And then, God heals this symptom the week of Thanksgiving before the biggest cooking day and season of the year. Amazing.
3) It's funny. Better yet, it's witty. Look at the specific prayers again. I prayed, "Lord, I come to you with open hands." Sara said again and again, "...please help Mama be able to handle da cold."
I love a good pun. So when the Lord showed me the connection, I laughed and laughed and laughed. And then I cried.
God speaks my language. He shares my sense of humor. I love it.
The winds are changing.
Do you feel it? I do. This season brings healing, growth, and adventure. And before the end of it, maybe even that party Jenny and I talked about throwing.
Mercy, I miss that girl. How many times have I wanted to call her this week? When I close my eyes, I see her smile. I hear her laughter and hallelujahs. I suppose it's comforting to know she knows and she's celebrating in heaven.
Damn cancer to hell.
God isn't finished.
I believe healing continues from here. The next time the temperature dips below 40 degrees, I fully expect to walk outside without a coat, breathe deeply, feel a bit chilled, and be fine.
Lindsey, if you're reading this, my answer is, "Yes. I'd love to teach that writing class." Somehow, God will work out the details.
My new family is stretching me, challenging me. I'm looking harder at my Bible, realizing that maybe I only believe half the paradox--that another half exists--and that I just haven't seen it because I tend to limit God to my experience and what I've been told rather than what the Bible says at face value. Grappling--it's good exercise.
And mixing with people again...wow. That's growth in itself.
With ministry opportunities, new friends, new thoughts, and book releases on the horizon, I'd say there's plenty of adventure ahead.
Onward and upward.