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To Coffee or Not to Coffee?

Growing up our family never drank coffee. My Dad hated the taste of it and my Mom didn’t like any sort of hot drink so I never even tasted coffee until I was an adult. Although we did have a coffee maker we would dust off for guests occasionally and pull our can of years-old coffee out of the freezer to make for them. I actually felt hugely bewildered and almost betrayed the last time I went home and watched as my Dad got coffee at church and found out my Mom drinks it every day. I was in shock. Apparently it’s a thing for them now.

Which I’m okay with because I love coffee. When I moved away from home, my world opened up to the wonderful smell of it in the morning and I grew to enjoy it. It wasn’t the caffeine (a little bit of caffeine makes me pretty shaky), I just loved the taste and the boldness in the morning. I didn’t drink it every day (also a HUGE tea fan…) but a lot of days.

You are probably wondering if I actually have a point with these ramblings or not. Guess you’ll have to wait and find out, huh? Fast forward to 2016. When I started having seizures, I was told that caffeine is a big trigger for most people. I did a little testing with myself and found that to be true. I figured that would be the case since I was already sensitive to caffeine. So I veerrryy sadly cut coffee (uh, because every sane person knows decaf is gross) and my favorite black teas out of my diet to prevent seizures.

Fast forward again (boy, we are just flying through time today, aren’t we?) to about 3 months ago. I was REALLY struggling. A major side effect of my meds is depression. They actually monitor you for it and ask you about it at every appointment. People, it’s a really hard place to be in. To force yourself to take medication that is (finally!) working for one thing but really hurting you emotionally. The meds were also making me SO tired and foggy that I was struggling to do anything. Every day was a battle. As weird as this sounds though, my relationship with the Lord was close. I was learning and growing in Him but struggling at the same time. It’s hard to explain.

And one day, I had had enough. I wanted some coffee and by golly I was going to have some. I did use a small amount of wisdom and got half-caff. It didn’t taste good at all but within a few minutes I could feel my brain becoming clear. The fog was dissipating some. And while I felt a little what I call “seizury” (I think I made that word up), nothing happened and my day ran better.

I have drank half-caff coffee pretty much every day since then. One cup. Actually using the amount they recommend. (Which is new for me. I was always dark roast all the way.) I have a little more energy, and my thoughts are better and more focused. I don’t live in that darkness that was hanging over me before. As best I can put it, the coffee is fighting the depression in some way. I absolutely DO NOT want to be put on medication for it because I know of side effects from those. (Can I mention here that I’m not recommending coffee as medication and if you and your doctor decide anti-depressants are needed, I’m not saying it’s wrong at all! I just don’t want to go that way.)

And the reason I’m telling you all this is because people keep mentioning that I look better and seem like I have more energy. Sometimes I’m at a loss of how to respond to that because for me, it feels fake. I know it’s simply the coffee. And if I were to take that away, things would go right back to how they were before. Back to foggy Kimmy, unable to accomplish or understand what she needs to do for the day. Is that who I am or is Coffee-Kimmy who I am? (Oh thank goodness, I’m just redeemed-Kimmy!)

So I contemplate and pray about this often. Does that seem ridiculous? Praying about coffee? Maybe it is and maybe I’m overthinking it. Anyway, in the interest of being transparent, I wanted to share and get your thoughts on the topic.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2018 in epilepsy

 

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Forced to Rest

It’s no real secret that I am tired all the time. Literally. I wake up tired and with a headache and that’s how it is all day long. I’m learning to be content with that. But what most people don’t know is that I have a really hard time resting. I can’t remember the last time I took a nap. My friends tell me all the time, “Oh honey, why don’t you just go curl up with a blanket and take a nap?” And I will smile and say that sounds like a wonderful idea. Because it really does.

I’m on three strong medications that CAUSE sleepiness and wear me out but the one also has a side effect of insomnia that really works. No naps for me. Sad day. I have been known to be so tired that I tell my friends I wish they would just knock me out so my body could get some rest!

Which actually brings me to the point of this post. (Don’t worry, I was getting there.) A month or so ago, I was in a Sunday School class on prayer. And it was a wonderful class. One of the lessons was on praying Scripture and we were talking about Psalm 23. As an example, my teacher asked if someone would be willing to pray that passage and an older lady at my church volunteered.

But as she prayed, something new struck me. Verse 2: “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.”

Hmmm makes me? Like forces me to lie down, to rest? If I’m honest, there have been many times in my life when I don’t want to rest. When I get so crazy busy and I have seen God slow me down. And if I’m totally honest, I didn’t like it. I wanted to do things my way at my speed. But now that physical rest is SO desirable and out of reach for me, I recognize the importance of it.

But of even greater importance is spiritual rest. Verse 3: “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Whenever I read this I’m reminded of how utterly thankful I am for soul-restoration! How when I’m worn out and tired, my SOUL can still be at rest because of Jesus Christ! How when I can’t find the energy to do anything, somehow I find energy in talking about my Savior and his incredible love! What a thing to praise the Lord for.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2018 in blessing

 

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Lonely in a Crowd

I can’t say that I EVER remember being lonely as a kid. In fact, I’m pretty sure until I moved away from home I still had the idea that usually lonely people were elderly ones who couldn’t get out of the house and sat by themselves for days on end. I had 5 siblings so there was always someone to talk to. And if you got tired of one person, you just went and found another. 🙂

But I’ve grown up a little since then and I know the pain of loneliness. But I also know that most people don’t admit that they are lonely. My friend’s mom has this saying, “If all the lonely people in the world would turn on their porch lights at night then everyone would be a lot less lonely.” Oh, that just makes me laugh. Lonely people don’t TELL others they are lonely! And, from experience, I think I’ve figured out at least one reason why.

There are different types of loneliness. There’s the kind where you actually are alone. When your spouse is out of town for the week on business or when your kids grow up and leave home. I live by myself so I know that every night when I get off work, I will come home to an empty apartment. I will be alone. How about when you are alone in your convictions? When those around you don’t share your faith? That can set you apart and make you feel like an outsider too.

But there’s another kind of loneliness and I actually think it’s worse. When you are surrounded by people and still feel alone. I have often felt this way and it’s taken me a long time to figure it out. How can I be surrounded by my friends and family and STILL FEEL SO LONELY?? Finally a light bulb came on and I realized that (at least for me), while everyone else is present and accounted for, I’M the one not there. My body may be there but my heart and mind feel trapped somewhere else. Somewhere that makes it hard (practically impossible) for others to get there or me to get to where they are.

Maybe this sounds crazy to you. There is a good possibility that I am crazy so just go with it. Or maybe you haven’t experienced this kind of loneliness before. And this is the reason people are afraid to admit they are lonely. They don’t want to make their friends feel bad. And they have found that more “social gatherings” doesn’t help with anything. There doesn’t seem to be an answer.

At this point maybe you were expecting some incredible cure for loneliness? I’m going to have to disappoint. I really don’t have anything to cure but here’s what I know: I KNOW our loving Father never leaves us so we are never truly alone. Talk to him more than ever if you are lonely. Even if you don’t feel like it’s helping: just keep praying and reading his Word. Also, keep in fellowship with his body. Let others know even though YOU. WON’T. LIKE. IT.

I’ll leave you with this quote I read the other day by Paul Matthies on loneliness. As you and I talk with the Lord this week, let’s ask for a deeper joy in Him.

“In Philippians 3:10, Paul uses the phrase, ‘the fellowship of his sufferings.’ So many of us love to enter into the fellowship of God’s joy, but Scripture also calls us into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. And sometimes, we don’t need to avoid the pain or numb the pain; we need to look at that pain and ask God for a deeper joy.”

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2018 in contentment

 

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Praying When You’re Crazy Busy

Do you ever feel like you’re crazy busy? Or maybe just crazy? (Either one works for me.) I think when I ask my friends how they are doing or how their week was, one of the most common answers is, “Busy.”

For me, I don’t feel like I have a lot of events or activities going on, my brain feels busy. Like it’s overloaded all the time and trying to catch up. I’m sure others feel that way. So maybe you can relate to this: You sit down to do your devotions in the morning (or whenever is best for you.) What I usually do is open my Bible, ask the Lord to clear my head and focus on what I’m about to read, and then I read a little. Then I spend some time in prayer. And here’s what happens:

“Ah, Lord, you are SO good to us and we totally don’t deserve it…(text comes in, looks at it and puts phone across room to avoid further distractions)…I love how you used Gideon in that story even though he wasn’t strong, it showed your strength and pla…(Geez, the cars are loud today. I wish they would change the  traffic lights back to how they were before.)…Father, please help Natalie today at work to be a light for…(Light bulbs! I forgot to pick up light bulbs at the store! And toilet paper! And toothpaste! Where’s my phone?? I need to make a list before I forget all this!)”

Yeah…anyone relate? I’ve always struggled with the verse that tells us to pray constantly because all I could think of is the amount of focus that would take! BUT I recently read a book that really helped me. It’s very fittingly titled “Crazy Busy” by Kevin DeYoung. How can you not like a book with a tag line that reads, “A (mercifully) short book about a (really) big problem?” I highly recommend it.

Anyway, in one part of the book, Kevin is talking about prayer. Sorry you aren’t going to get any direct quotes but I loaned my copy out so you’re stuck with my memory for today- buy the book. He talks about a concept that has really helped him. The idea is whenever you hear or think of something you should pray for, you do it RIGHT THEN. Pray right then. And then put it out of your mind and trust that God has it.

Maybe this isn’t a mind-blowing concept for some people but it was for me. For some reason, I had the idea that praying constantly meant keeping every single thing I was currently praying about on my mind ALL. THE. TIME. and trying to remember it all. Do you know how exhausting that is?? This idea took such a load off my mind. Now, whenever something comes to my mind that I should pray for, I do, and then I trust that God has it handled (duh), and that he will bring it to my mind as often as I need to remember it. I’ve actually been praying MORE this way. You see, instead of using my brain power to remember my prayer requests, it’s actually being used to pray for them! Who knew?

And in some way, this method has also helped my morning focused prayer time too. Because I pray more through the day, I don’t feel like I have a giant list of things to get through every day and I can just spend time talking to the Lord.

But seriously guys, get the book. It’s full of wisdom AND it’s a short, easy read. You won’t regret it.

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2018 in prayer

 

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No Heat Produces Faith, Faith Produces Heat?

Those that know me know that I love to sleep in the cold. Not like 50 degrees cold, I’m the person who keeps her window open all winter long. I froze my water bottle shut one night this winter and I have frozen a whole cup of water in my room before. Not that I like BEING cold- I like to pile on lots of blankets and snuggle under the weight of all of them. Now I have this magical thing called an electric blanket and I flip that on ten minutes before bed and then turn it off when I get in and everything is very cozy. I just like the air around me to be cold.

So ever since I moved into my apartment, my routine has been to go to the thermostat at night, flip the heat off, open my bedroom window, and crawl into bed. In the morning there is a very particular science to things. You see, while I love sleeping in 30 degree weather, I DO NOT love showering in that kind of temperature. So in the morning, I set my alarm for about a half hour before I need to shower and when it goes off, I reach over, close the window, dash out and flip the heat back on and crawl into my nice warm bed while everything heats back up. About a half hour later, my apartment is at a livable temperature and I can get up and shower. Works like a dream.

Yesterday, I did the same thing I’ve done every single morning. I dashed out, flipped the heat switch and crawled back in bed. I showered and it wasn’t until I was putting my shoes on about 5 minutes before I should be leaving for work that I thought, “Boy, it’s still kind of chilly in here!” So I checked the thermostat and sure enough: 57 degrees. I thought to myself that it sure was taking a lot longer than normal to heat up this morning but I didn’t really have time to think much about it since I had to leave for work.

It was a short but stressful day of work. Actually, it has been quite a long week and I’m ready for it to be over. Nothing big, just a lot of small things that piled up. As I walked home from work, I was freezing: it was 35 degrees and really windy and when I opened up my apartment door I was met with a blast of cool air. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Not a very good welcome home. The temperature hadn’t moved since that morning.

I played with settings on the thermostat thinking maybe I had accidentally bumped one of them and sat in moody silence on my couch in my coat and hat for forty-five minutes, listening for the heat. It would kick on but then 4-5 minutes later shut off and the temperature wouldn’t change. Finally, in a grumpy, complaining mood, I went downstairs and talked to my landlord’s daughter, who said she would ask her Dad as soon as he was done with chemo for the day. Which just made me feel worse. To be fair, they did bring me a space heater, but when you have 9.5ft ceilings, that doesn’t do much.

So I decided to go for a walk, thinking that a brisk walk MUST be warmer than sitting in the cold. Wrong. I forgot how windy it was and several miles later, I arrived home again to my cold apartment with a very cold body and hurting head. I spent the rest of the afternoon curled under my electric blanket, very grumpy.

So this morning, I got up, and (not very hopefully) turned the heat on, and crawled back in bed as usual. Still wasn’t working and it was even colder. Finally I started crying. Don’t laugh- as previously mentioned, it’s been a rough and frustrating week. And I cried out, “Lord! Can’t I at least have some heat?! I just want to be warm! I’m so freaking cold!” And right then, I heard the heat kick on in one of its fake-you-out tricks. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes at my vent in disgust. About 15 minutes later I realized the heat was still running. This time it hadn’t kicked off like all the other times.

You know who I felt like? Job. But not Job when he is proved righteous and his friends proved wrong. Not Job when he says he hasn’t done anything wrong. Job when God says to him, “Uh, who do you think you are talking to me like that?” Yeah, I felt pretty small and I meekly said, “Thank you, Lord.” About 45 minutes later my apartment was at 70 degrees and the heat is still working. I checked with my landlord and the repairman hadn’t come out yet.

That was a pretty fast answer to prayer. Gosh, why wasn’t that my first response when I found that it wasn’t working?? Why did the prayer come out of desperation instead of being the first thought? I think that’s how a lot of believers live. Prayer is like our back-up resource instead of our first weapon. I want to be so close to God that talking to him about it is always what happens first. I don’t want it to be an after-thought. First thought, constant thought, all day.

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2018 in prayer

 

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Comparing Prayers

The other day during my devotions I was searching for a particular verse in Psalms and my eyes glanced over this verse instead:

O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth.” Ps. 54:2

I didn’t really think much of it until I was scanning again and came across this one:

Give ear to my prayer, O God, and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!” Ps. 55:1

And then, honestly, the thought that flashed into my head was something along the lines of, “Why in the world does David ask God to hear his prayer? That’s so weird. Doesn’t he know that God is there with him?” Verses on God’s omnipresence and promises to hear us flooded my mind. There may have been a silent scoff in my head.

So I became a little curious and started looking up verses JUST in the Psalms on asking God to hear and very quickly was overwhelmed. There are so many! To name a few: Ps. 4:1, 61:1, 5:1-12, 130:1, 102:1, 143:1-6. In fact, it almost seemed that most of David’s prayers started out that way.

Suddenly I realized my arrogance in contrast to David’s humility. Of course he knew that God was omnipresent. Who couldn’t know that and still write Psalm 139?? I think David simply had an understanding of who he was and who he was praying to. How dare he (I) assume that the God of the universe would attend to his every summon like a genie in a lamp? So he asked.

That was such a bizarre thought to me. I don’t think I’ve ever asked God to hear my prayer before. Have you? Since looking all those verses up though, a lot of my prayers have started out like David’s. I know it’s not mandatory, but it’s a very simple, humble, and dependent way to start out my prayer time.

 

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2018 in prayer

 

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Recent Thoughts on Bologna

Bologna has got to be one of the most disgusting deli meats around. I just don’t understand why people buy it. Why, with all the other good meat out there, would you stare into a deli case and decide, “Hmmm, well that bologna sure looks good! I think I’ll take a pound of that.”?? It’s kind of slimy and it smells weird and doesn’t taste good. MAYBE…if you have to eat it…you can fry it and make it edible.

You may ask where all these seemingly random thoughts on bologna are coming from? Some of you probably know that right before Christmas my doctor cleared me for work again. Although I’ve still been very tired and have constant headaches, I haven’t had any seizures since December 9th (Praise Jesus!) and so she gave me the ok to work as long as it wasn’t anything dangerous. When I asked for clarification, she told me not to go out and decide to be a lifeguard or anything like that. OH, ok.

However, with the privilege to drive still months off, my options were pretty limited. So I applied at a local, family-owned, IGA grocery store that is a 3 minute walk from my apartment and was hired right away. I’m currently part time because I wanted to start out slowly and see how it goes but he will bump my hours up as soon as I say the word.

At this store, each employee is moved from department to department so you pretty much get to work everywhere. I’ve worked in the meat room on grinding and packing, I’ve been cashier, AND in the deli. Which brings me back to bologna.

Did you know that bologna is actually one of the hardest deli meats to slice?? It is VERY slippery and so when it hits the blade, the whole meat tries to spin and instead of a clean slice of meat you get a shred of bologna. Turns out, no one in the deli really likes to slice bologna because it is hard. I found this out my very first day in the deli and promptly named that horrible meat my nemesis. But I thought to myself that surely not very many people actually order that stuff with all the other great deli meat that we sell.

Well, one day last week, it just so happened that I was in the deli all by myself because we were a little short on staff. It was probably only my third time ever working in there. The first person of the day comes to the counter and I cheerfully ask, “What can I get for you?” What do you think he said? A pound of Eckrich bologna. I had to clamp my mouth shut before something popped out like “Seriously??” or “Are you sure?” I gave a very fake smile as I pulled the meat out of the case and carefully unwrapped it, looking desperately around for someone to help me out of this situation.

It was as I was standing there trying not to drop a huge hunk of slippery bologna on the floor that I prayed what seemed to me the silliest prayer ever: “Lord, please help me slice this bologna. Please don’t let it shred.”

Did you know that slicing deli meat is actually very nerve wracking? Some people are very particular as to the thickness of their meat and they stand there and watch you with every slice. I placed the bologna on the machine, still praying, and turned it on. My first slice came out so perfect that I cried out loud, “Haha! Thank you, Jesus!” like a little girl. I’m not quite sure what my customer thought but I kept praying as I sliced and I only had one that shredded. Whew. I felt like I had run a marathon.

All that to say a couple things: 1. No prayer is silly and prayer does work. 2. Next time you are at the deli, do yourself and the employee a favor and order some salami instead.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2018 in work

 

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