Deeper then Guns and Mental Illness

This morning I received a text from a close friend of mine asking for prayer for her husband, who is a police officer, regarding a disturbance in a local high school. I was already on my knees in prayer, and so I continued, praying now for my friend and the rest of the officers and the whole student body. I was moved to tears as, of course, my mind went to the high school in Florida and the many students and families affected by the massacre. As I prayed, I sensed a deeper call to arms.

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As the nation mourns yet another tragic, senseless shooting on our soil, the whiplash has been intense. Politics rise to the surface and platforms benefit from the tragedy as opinions are hotly debated. Facebook lights up with one article after another about the need for gun reform on one end and the need to arm ourselves and our teachers on the other. We analyze mental illness until we convince ourselves that that is our problem. And we need to have these conversations, as they are important. They matter. But there is something missing, something basic to all of this that has not been mentioned.

Man is sinful.

This world is fallen.

Satan is a real enemy that seeks to steal and kill and destroy.

This is the bleak reality of our world today and we feel it strongly. Things are not as they should be. It seems the world is more dangerous than ever before, but we have just to study history to see that the evil has been there all the time, in every culture, every generation.

Until we see that our problem is truly a heart problem, no reform or policy will affect change. Until we wake up and understand that the enemy prowls around seeking to devour the very lives of our children, we will continue leading blind lives, dabbling with ineffective ways of fighting a crucial war.

The solution to our problem is the greatest news that has ever come to bear upon this earth. God sent His Son Jesus to this evil world to take the punishment for our sin on the cross. Jesus, meaning “God saves”, rose from the dead and is alive today and will save all those who come to him in faith. “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved!” Ephesians 2:4-5

Shortly after I received the text from my friend, she sent another, assuring me that all was well at the high school. I breathed out thanksgiving and at the same time prayed that we might continue to fight. We must bring the truth of Jesus to this desperate world. And we must fight with weapons that are not of this world if we want to affect any change at all.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4

And this.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:10-18

 

Waiting for Our Beloved

I had the unique opportunity of contributing to a  blog series entitled “Contenders of the Faith”, organized by a dear friend of mine, Kelly Sobieski. I invite you over to Carried by Love to explore the exciting topic of waiting for the return of our King Jesus!

Click here to read more.

 

 

 

Lament for a Dog

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Thursday afternoon our family gathered around the weak and failing body of our Great Pyrenees, Maximus. All of us weeping, we hugged his neck one last time, whispered our love for him, telling him what a wonderful dog he was, and we said goodbye.

I don’t think there is anything that can prepare you for the sudden loss of a dog. Max wasn’t old. He was just three weeks shy of his second birthday. He was in the prime of his life. No longer an immature and undisciplined puppy, he had grown to become a magnificent guard dog. He and his sister, Mira, took great care of our farm animals. They were up all night patrolling the land and keeping predators like skunks and raccoons away from our sleeping chickens. They kept an eye on our pigs and cattle and would chase away stray dogs or coyotes. And perhaps best of all, they were my children’s faithful guardians. After being up all night, they would collapse under the porch to sleep, as is the livestock guard dog’s rhythm. But the moment our screen door squeaked open and any one of my children wandered off down to their fort or to the creek, first Max and then Mira would crawl out from under the porch and be right by their side. Trusted. True. Faithful. They were the epitome of the definition of man’s best friend.

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Thaddaeus with Maximus. This happened every day. We came to regard them both as “Thaddaeus Maximus”.

I won’t go into all the details because I really don’t want to relive them, but Max went downhill fast. We noticed that he was sick on Wednesday morning, took him in to the vet, where he stayed overnight, then we took him to the emergency clinic at A&M Thursday morning and were told that his kidneys were failing. In a moment that you are never prepared for, we had to make an impossible decision. We decided that the most gracious thing to do was to put Max down.

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In the car on the way to the emergency clinic.

We came back home and found Mira, faithfully holding down the fort, wagging her tail as we arrived. But inevitably confused as to where in the world her brother went. Death is an unnatural thing. It’s not how it was supposed to be. The separation and the absence confounds us. Truly, we are looking forward to a better country. One without sickness and death.

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to this present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved.

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All of creation is longing for the return of Christ, whereby he will put to death the final enemy, death itself. How I long for that day.

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My daughter was up last night journaling about Max. Here are a few of her words:

Maximus, you have won a special place in my heart. Even though you’re gone, I will not stop loving you. I hope you will be in heaven when I die. I hope we will meet again. I will take care of your sister. I love you my sweet, big/little bear!

Love, Addie

 

The Raw Milk Cure

 

Towards the end of May I started something that sounded so crazy I was hesitant to disclose to anyone what I was attempting to do.  Upon much research and the encouragement of my husband, Jason, I put the fresh raw milk we were getting daily from our Jersey cow to an extreme test. I set out to live exclusively on five quarts of raw milk a day for four weeks.

Over one hundred years ago, before pasteurization of milk became the standard of American society, the cow which fed on green pastures and produced wholesome milk, promoted the wellness of the people. There existed sanitariums in which people with chronic diseases were fed milk alone and given bed rest and the results were staggering. They were either cured or benefited greatly from the diet. I read the work of Dr. Charles Sanford Porter, Milk Diet as Remedy for Chronic Disease, published in 1923 and was astounded to hear of his thousands of documented patients who improved upon taking milk alone for at least one month. Chronic diseases ranging from brain and nerve disorders, heart and kidney disease, colitis, paralysis and nutrient deficiencies all benefited from an exclusive milk diet. As the large amount of milk was digested by these individuals, the body increased the blood supply and pumped blood to all parts of the body, making the diet incredible for circulation and nutrient assimilation.

Raw milk is a powerhouse of nutrition. It contains fat soluble vitamins A, D and K, it’s high in Omega 3’s, high in minerals and electrolytes, high in Vitamin C and the B Vitamins and has all of the enzymes needed by the body to assimilate it. As Dr. Weston Price concluded, (Raw milk is) “nature’s only complete diet for mammalian infants and by far the single item of food for growing human beings in all periods of stress.”

In 2009 I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. From that time on I have been on the road to recovering my health. But in these eight years I have failed to put on any weight, even though I have stuck religiously to a gluten free diet and have seen naturopaths and gone to extreme measures to heal my gut. As Jason and I read these ancient books on this milk cure diet, we decided that I had nothing to lose! In fact, I had everything to gain! Why not try it?

So the first thing I did was get some blood work done. I ordered a full blood count, B Vitamins and Folate and hormone panel. My results did not look so bad, however, I had low alkaline phosphatase, high cholesterol and high eosinophils. A low alkaline phosphatase is common in people with Celiac Disease who have a difficult time absorbing nutrients. This didn’t surprise me, as my low weight has been an issue for a while now. The cholesterol baffled me, but it was in my research on my high eosinophil count that caught my attention. Eosinophils are a type of white blood cell, specifically engaged by the body to attack parasites. If my body had been harboring parasites for a long time, even the most nutrient rich diet was not going to cause me to gain weight! As I continued researching I was appalled to discover that up to 50 percent of people probably have undiagnosed parasites. And parasites may even be linked to a possible cause of autoimmune disease!

Another part of my research led me to discover that parasites absolutely love milk. They love sugar and there is natural sugar in raw milk. In drinking milk, I could essentially draw out the parasites from whatever organs they might be inhabiting and bring them to my gut. Lovely thought.

The next piece to this puzzling experiment had been right in front of us for a while. We are homesteaders and try to feed our animals as naturally as we can. We have opted to use food grade diatomaceous earth to treat our pigs, chickens, cows and dogs for parasites instead of using commercial wormers. Diatomaceous earth is composed of the silica made from fossilized aquatic organisms. It is one of the best natural parasite killers. I researched its effect on parasites in humans and saw great results. Along with the five quarts of raw milk a day, I decided to add food grade diatomaceous earth, or DE. Using the recommendations of Dr. Josh Axe, (see The Most Versatile Detoxifier Around) I began to take one teaspoon of DE in about 8 ounces of water before bed.
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I wish I could tell you that drinking five quarts of milk everyday was a romantic experience. The truth is that it was very difficult. Every hour from 7 AM until 7 PM, with the exception of two hours during that time, I drank 16 ounces of milk very slowly. There is a formula in the books that I read that explains how to calculate the amount of milk one needs based on body weight. For me, I needed just about five quarts. You’d be surprised just how quickly an hour goes by and how satiated you feel on a full glass of milk. The first two days were miserable for me because I cut out coffee and so I dealt with horrible headaches and nausea from the lack of caffeine and the increase of milk. The addition of the DE in the evenings caused some interesting bathroom habits, which I will not go into here, but the bedrest was the most difficult part of the diet. The first couple days were easy to rest because I felt so horrible, but after the pain went away and I felt better, I was lucky if I got an afternoon nap daily for the rest of the four weeks. I just could not wrap my mind around laying in bed when there were things to do and children and animals to attend to.

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After three weeks on the milk diet I was ready to give it all up. I was so sick of milk. I hated it. We had gone out to lunch after church with friends of ours to Chipotle and I declared that I was done with taking my little cooler with glass jars full of milk any time we left the house. I was tired of drinking and so desperately wanted to chew something. Anything! Jason just looked at me and said, “Whatever you want to do, I will support that.” I ate some guacamole in pure rebellion. However, when we got back home I changed my mind and decided to go one more week. I made a list of foods that I was going to eat once I was able to eat again and the last week went by incredibly fast. I had made it! Four weeks on milk alone.

Here are some of the results that I experienced:

I gained six pounds! I know this doesn’t sound like much, but to someone who has been just under 115 pounds for almost a decade, getting to 120 is an accomplishment.

I gained an inch around my waist, two inches around my hips, an inch around my thighs and my arms grew slightly bigger. My face is fuller.

I have noticed improvements in female issues I have dealt with, as well as improvement in hemorrhoids.

My skin and complexion is soft and radiant.

Toenail fungus completely cleared up.

I just bought a dress one size bigger than usual!

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I am still in the process of finishing up the regimen of diatomaceous earth and then I will order new blood tests to see if the parasites are gone. All in all, the raw milk diet has been a surprising success in my life. It was worth the pain and the discipline of drinking all that milk. And to quote Theodore Roosevelt, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”

 

References:

  1. The Untold Story of Milk by Ron Schmid, ND, 2009
  2. The Miracle of Milk by Bernarr Macfadden, 1923
  3. Milk Diet as a Remedy for Chronic Disease by Charles Sanford Porter, 1923
  4. The Weston A. Price Foundation

What’s Really At Stake in These Days?

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One of the first Sundays we moved out here to the country, before we found a new church, we planned an extremely simple family worship time. We sat outside, as the horses grazed in front of us, I played the guitar and we sang some of our favorite songs. Then I remember Jason reading the Sermon on the Mount. It was all going blissfully well until he read the part about loving your enemies. At this, our young warrior, Thaddaeus, revolted.

“I will never love my enemies,” he stated emphatically. And Jason and I were left with one of those impossible parenting situations where you want to try to water down Jesus’ words and say something like, “Well, what he really meant by that was…” or “This doesn’t apply to us today…” This is an upside kingdom for sure! And to explain that kind of crazy love to a six year-old, let alone to myself, was a near impossibility.

But how can you ignore the blood red ink? Not just because Jesus said it? But because he lived it and died it. He loved his enemies.

In these last days, as our country swells with racial hatred, as terrorist attacks wring out fear and rage, as our culture grows increasingly more wicked, the divisions between Christians have never been sharper. What has happened to us? But as I look closer, I must ask myself, what has happened to you, Kristin?

This summer I reread the timeless treasure The Hiding Place, biography of Corrie ten Boom, the Dutch Christian woman who was taken prisoner to a German concentration camp for helping save the Jews during World War II. I had read it years ago as a young girl, but this time, this summer, the book came alive as never before. It began to stir my heart to something that had been missing.

Corrie ten Boom stood naked with her older sister Betsie, watching a concentration camp matron beating a prisoner. “Oh the poor woman,” Corrie cried. “Yes. May God forgive her,” Betsie replied. And once again, Corrie realized that it was for the souls of the brutal Nazi guards that her sister prayed.

As I read that story, my own heart echoed the words of my Thaddaeus, “I will never love my enemies.” How can someone in a concentration camp love the murderous Germans? It is astounding and nothing less than a mighty act of God. And yet, it is obedience to Christ.

What’s at stake for the Christian church in America these days? Is it freedom, morality, security? It’s not freedom, for we are already free! It’s not morality. We know the culture, this world, the forces of evil are actively working against morality. This has always been a battle. And it’s not security, for even if they kill us, we are safe forever with Jesus.

What’s at stake really for the church in America?

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Jesus’ words from Matthew 24:9-14

What’s at stake is our love. And I can already feel the subtle effects on myself. The thinking that my life, my family’s life is most important and self-preservation must be fought for.

Wash me with your Word, Oh Christ! Yours is an upside down kingdom where the poor are blessed, where the hungry, the grieving, the despised because of the Son of Man are blessed and awaiting great reward. I think of my brothers and sisters who are persecuted. The Christians in the Middle East and Africa and China and North Korea… And then you say, “You who are willing to hear: Love your enemies.” You must bring us to repentance on this issue. You must cause our hearts to pray for our enemies. For the evil in our world, for our nation, for ISIS- Change our hearts that we may see them as people in need of a Savior. I repent, Lord. I am willing to hear.

 

Like Newborn Calves

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Two weeks ago we purchased a Jersey cow and two newborn bull calves. They were the rejects of a large dairy farm because the cow was not giving enough milk in one of her quarters and the calves were, well male, so they were not wanted. We were taking quite a chance because the cow was not the calves’ mother and if she did not accept them, we were faced with the daunting task of bottle feeding two babies.

And what did we know about dairy farming!

But by the grace of God, the beautiful Jersey cow, who we named Annabelle, proved to not only bond with one calf, but to be a devoted mother to both of the calves. Their first day together on our property she was already licking them and letting them suckle and lowing nervously if either one of them were out of her sight. It was astounding to watch them interact as if they had both been hers always. It was cow adoption at its finest.

According to the suggestion of our neighbors (who have helped us out of countless farming binds already) we got into the habit of penning up the calves every evening. We do this in order to get Annabelle used to going into her milking stall without her babies so that whenever we do start milking her she will be used to the routine.

IMG_2202In the early morning, just as the blue dawn of winter turns orange in the east, we hear them in their stalls mooing desperately. Spartan and Star, the young bull calves, wild with hunger, have to be held back until we get Annabelle in her milking stanchion. As soon as her head is secured and she is eating her sweet feed, we let the calves go to her.

This morning I read 1 Peter 2:2-3 and the passage breathed into life as never before.

Like newborn babies crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

I remember my own babies and their desperation for life. The way they awoke in the middle of the night with pursed lips and clenched fists, crazy for the nourishment that only I could give them.

IMG_2157It is no different with Spartan and Star. As soon as we release them from their stall, they bound to their mother with all of the vigor that separation produces. They suckle loudly and greedily, white, creamy froth covering their mouths and dripping like whipped cream onto the hay beneath them. They ram their little heads forcefully up into her quarters so that she continues to let down milk and they gulp until they have had their fill. And Annabelle stands patiently and lovingly still.

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I remember, years ago, a missionary friend of mine praying earnestly, “Give me your Word, Oh Lord, lest I die!” I never forgot the desperation in her tone. And this from a woman who knew the Word, who had lived out the good news of Jesus for years. She still approached the Word of God with the same hunger and longing as a newborn baby.

I desire this for myself. I long for this for my children. That we may see the wonderful gift of the Word of God as our very sustenance. That we might say, along with our Jesus, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Luke 4:4.

That we might be like newborn calves.

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Good, Good Father

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Thaddaeus had found a stick twice his size and was using it to lead the way for me through the brush and dead trees to the creek. He came upon one of his usual entrances down to the water’s edge, but the creek had risen in the middle of the night and there was no way to walk across to the other side, apart from swimming. Apparently he didn’t feel like a dip in the middle of January, so he turned from “the mountain” as he called it and took me another way. A much gentler decline, I followed as he hopped down the muddy and sandy bank, still carrying the staff. This way was easier and happened to be one of my favorite views of the creek that runs through our property. The stream flows shallow here and you can jump across the creek at the bottom, or just walk through with rain boots. I looked around at the moss-covered banks and up at the trees, some still yellow and gold, most bare and dormant, a few evergreens. The water trickled peacefully and Thadd led the way through to the other side of the bank, still on our land.

And I couldn’t help myself but quote Psalm 23 aloud to my shepherd son and to the winter trees, waiting for the rebirth of Spring:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

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He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

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You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cups overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

I am here to testify that God has been good to us.

We have been living just outside the small town of Madisonville, TX on 16.7 acres for almost one month now and our lives are entirely different than they have ever been before. He has given us above and beyond all that we have desired. The details surrounding the selling of our house and the purchasing of this land were astounding and the timing impeccable. It was just like God.

As we look back on this last year at all of the changes, all of the heartaches we have endured, and the ways that God has proven Himself faithful again and again, as we see how well he has shepherded us, we can proclaim, with all certainty:

Our Father is good. And we can trust Him!

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