I've been walking a long road toward wellness, since my body fell apart from chronic Lyme disease over 12 years ago. Since then, I've learned that becoming whole isn't just a matter of whacking some bugs with an antibiotic or eating organic salmon and salads. It's not just a matter of healing the daddy wounds or coming to grips with a lifelong story of rejection.

It's about finding a relationship of unconditional love with God, because it is love- not a doctor, herb or belief system- that ultimately heals the whole person. Yet God gives us answers to healing through holistic medicine, as well as by His supernatural hand.

Indeed, most of the focus of the books that I've written has been upon medicine, but I realize that it's time to share all that I have learned from God as I have walked through the dark valley of this past decade. This includes strategies that heal the heart and spirit, as well as the body.

My knowledge is based upon my belief that Jesus Christ still heals supernaturally today, and that spiritual healing is the highest level of healing that we can attain to. Spiritual health can make us completely well, but it is also noble and good to seek healing at the physical level.

The journey to wholeness is always a journey, as none of us ever completely arrives this side of Heaven, but we can enter into a place of relative health and peace, with joy as the centerpiece of our days. I'm not there, but I am not the same person I was a decade ago. May victory be upon your horizon as it has been upon mine...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My debut on Spanish television- Discussing Lyme disease with Dr. Misael

For those of you who speak Spanish, or know someone who does, I encourage you to share this
enlightening TV interview on Lyme disease, which I did with Dr. Misael, this past week.
Spread the word about the fastest-growing infectious disease in the United States.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

New book- Freedom From Lyme Disease

When Bryan Rosner asked me to review his most recent book, Freedom From Lyme Disease, I was honored.  First, because I have always admired Bryan for his ability to discern the challenges inherent in healing from chronic illness involving Lyme disease; but secondly, because Bryan essentially self-treated and recovered himself from Lyme disease, without the help of a doctor. And third, because his passion and compassion for others shines through in his books, which are easy and fun to read.

I don't necessarily recommend that anyone try to heal from Lyme or any other serious chronic illness without the help of a healthcare professional (I tried, and sure as heck could not do it) - but I admire those few that have the intuition and ability to discern exactly what their bodies need to recover.  Bryan is one of those rare people, and that same intuition has served him in his medical research for this new book, as he challenged me to think about new things I haven't thought much about before when it comes to healing from Lyme.

Let's face it; there are a lot of books out there on how to heal from chronic illness, including Lyme disease, and many are jam-packed with information. But when information is anointed with wisdom and insight, and has been tried and tested through personal experience and found to be valuable, then I believe that it makes for a great book, indeed.

Some of the things that you will find in Freedom from Lyme Disease include: tips on how to overcome difficult challenges such as deeply-entrenched infections, heavy metal toxins, methylation problems, and adrenal fatigue, as well as information on new and novel remedies and therapies that can help take you to the next level in your healing journey. As a survivor of Lyme disease, fellow author of Lyme disease books and medical researcher, I was impressed by what I learned  in this book.

Freedom from Lyme Disease is a great resource for those that have been fighting the Lyme battle for years, as well as for those who are just getting started out in their healing journey.  I highly recommend it!  For more information, click here

Monday, September 29, 2014

Weight Loss- It's Not Just a Matter of Exercise and Eating a Paleo Diet

I sometimes get frustrated at folks in our society who judge people who are overweight. The popular belief seems to be that if such people would just get off the sofa or stop eating doughnuts and cereal, they would look and feel great.

Sadly, this is often not so. I know many people who struggle with their weight, even though they eat minuscule portions of a Paleo diet, comprised of a few greens and some meat, and exercise regularly. Many of these people struggle from chronic health conditions that affect weight, such as chronic fatigue, heart disease, fibromyalgia and Lyme disease.

But being overweight isn't just a problem of the chronically ill. In America, weight problems are epidemic, even though lots of us follow these great diets and exercise regularly. Yes, some of us really don't eat right, but here's my red alert of the day for the informationally-underprivileged: Weight is influenced by many other things besides diet and exercise.

A few years ago, I went on a diet that was stricter than Paleo for about eight months, to get rid of a fungal infection in my body. I eliminated all fruits, grains, sugars, dairy and anything that remotely resembled a carbohydrate (well, except for non-starchy green vegetables) for eight long, arduous months, and guess what- I gained ten pounds!

The obvious reason why is that the diet totally stressed me out, but I also probably wasn't consuming enough calories and my body went into starvation mode.  When this happens, the body conserves every little calorie it can, because it doesn't know when the next meal is coming.

If you skip meals or don't eat enough at mealtimes, you can gain weight  as a result of your body going into starvation mode.

If you don't sleep enough, you can gain weight. I never had a weight problem in my life until I went through a severe, 3-year battle with insomnia and put on 20 pounds in three years. Thankfully, I was a bit underweight to begin with. Sleep deprivation affects the body's levels of leptin, ghrelin and human growth hormone (and probably others), all of which affect weight.

If you have adrenal fatigue, you can gain weight. When your adrenals are exhausted, your body slows down its metabolism in an attempt to compensate for your tired adrenals. Thyroid hormones, which regulate the metabolism, require cortisol, an adrenal hormone, to function properly in the cells. So if there isn't enough cortisol to go around, then the cells won't be able to properly use thyroid hormones.  What's more, doing thyroid hormone replacement therapy will further exhaust the adrenals and cause more weight gain, if the underlying cause of hypothyroidism is adrenal fatigue.

Furthermore, if you have adrenal fatigue and you overdo it on the exercise, you will burn your adrenals out even more, which is a set-up for weight gain.

If your gut isn't healthy (which is most of us in America), you can gain weight. Studies on mice have found that different species of bad bacteria in the gut affect metabolism and appetite.  Any change in gut flora- which mostly results from infections, eating toxic food or taking antibiotics- can increase the rate at which we absorb fatty acids and carbohydrates, and increase calorie storage.  Pathogenic bacteria can even directly cause weight gain by increasing insulin production (leading to insulin resistance) and causing inflammation in the body.  Stress, food toxins, antibiotics (and other drugs), and infections all mess up the gut.

In my most recent book, Foods That Fit a Unique You, which I co-authored with Dr. W. Lee Cowden, Dr. Cowden discusses the crucial role of gut health in metabolism, and how to get your gut healed so that you can properly absorb your nutrients, and eliminate any pathogens there.  We also discuss the importance of following a diet that is right for your unique metabolic type and which takes into account your current health condition, as there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet that will help you to lose weight.

If you have an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone, you can gain weight. Estrogen dominance in common in our society because many of the toxic chemicals to which we are exposed act like fake estrogens in the body, which causes an imbalance that leads to weight gain.

If you are stressed, you can gain weight! When under stress, the body releases excessive amounts of cortisol, which raises blood sugar levels, causes insulin resistance so glucose can't get into the cells, makes you hungry, suppresses other hormones related to weight management; increases the rate at which you store fat, and increases fatty acids and triglycerides in the blood.  Just to name a few problems!

If you are toxic, you can gain weight. The reasons why are numerous. Toxic chemicals from the environment disrupt the hormone signaling system that regulates metabolism, and the body stores chemicals in fat and actually creates fat cells as a way to manage toxins and keep them from overloading the organs.  Toxins also damage enzyme systems and compromise the liver's methylation processes, which also play a crucial role in metabolism.

If you have unhealed emotional wounds, which have caused issues of rejection or abandonment, especially those which result from sexual or physical abuse, you can gain weight as a means of "protecting" your body against further abuse or assault. 

If you are exposed to too many electromagnetic fields, you can gain weight. Gary Sconyers, ND, of Health Resource Center has found that many of his female patients gained weight when exposed to excessive levels of EMFs, and contends that EMFs cause insulin resistance, which leads to weight gain.

If you struggle with your weight and are feeling overwhelmed by now, take heart- at least there are answers to why your current diet may not be working, or why you are gaining weight, despite going to the gym five days a week!

Trust me, I understand your frustration- it doesn't feel fair when you eat less than 1,000 calories a day, exercise, maintain a nutritious diet and yet find yourself daily "battling the bulge" and enduring the judgmental words of others who admonish you to just eat Paleo, quit your doughnut habit and get up off the sofa. Great advice for those whose metabolisms still work- but not for those of us who have struggled with a chronic health condition.

If you suffer from a chronic illness, you probably know that eliminating infections, toxins and other junk from your environment will eventually help you to lose weight. But what else might you have not considered?

Rather than going through this list and trying to figure out exactly what might have caused you to gain weight, I encourage you to go to God and ask Him to show you what you might need to do to lose weight or maintain your current weight, depending on your goals.

In my books, I discuss how to resolve some of the causes of weight gain, especially those related to toxicity, hormonal dysfunction, gut health and infections.  The issues are complex, however, so I encourage you to consult other sources, as well, especially a good local integrative or naturopathic health doctor, to help you heal your metabolism. In next week's blog post, I will also share some solutions for resolving some of the above problems.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Finding a Diet That's Best for Your Biochemistry

For many years during my battle with chronic illness, I found it challenging to find foods that would help me to heal and recover. It was equally challenging to avoid foods that made me feel worse.  Much of our food supply is toxic, and our supermarket shelves are lined with food-like products that provide little or no nutrition to the body.

Besides the fact that I struggled to discern which foods in the store were healthy for me, I also didn't know what kind of foods were best for a person with chronic Lyme disease, adrenal fatigue, hypothyroidism, and other problems that I battled.

It was frustrating, as for years, multiple food allergies, a toxic food supply, and differing doctors' opinions and diet books pulled me in a thousand different directions and I often felt confused about what my body really needed.

Among the admonitions I received- "Don't eat grains or sugar, because it feeds the bugs..." "Don't eat dairy, because it's loaded with toxins and causes inflammation..." "Don't eat fruit, because it will worsen adrenal fatigue..." "Don't eat meat, because it will cause your body to become acidic." "Don't eat starchy vegetables, because they contain too much sugar..." "Don't eat the same foods every day, or you will become allergic to them." "Don't eat nuts, because they are fattening.''   "Don't eat fish, because it contains mercury."

Imagine my frustration as, after so many admonitions, I wondered what I could eat! And why, if all the admonitions were correct, didn't a diet of chicken and non-starchy vegetables satisfy me? Yes, having a serious chronic health condition meant that I had to restrict or avoid some types of foods, but the multitude of conflicting blanket recommendations about what to eat (and especially what NOT to eat!) didn't help me, either.

Over the years, as I have researched the topics of diet and nutrition, I've come to the realization that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all diet that works for everyone. We all have a unique biochemistry, lifestyle and needs, and I've learned that it's essential to consider such things as your body pH, metabolic type, food allergies, and current health condition, when determining what to eat.

Also, I've learned that it's important to listen to your body and pay attention to how foods make you feel. If you are like me, chronic illness caused my body to react badly to a lot of foods, and many of the diets I tried left me feeling depressed, tired or hungry. Finally, I began to heed my body's response to different foods- not my cravings, or the latest food fad.  In doing this, I found that my symptoms diminished and my recovery accelerated.

Because of what I've learned, I wrote Foods That Fit a Unique You  with Dr. W. Lee Cowden, who has also found, based on his over 25 years of experience with patients, that one-size-fits-all diets don't work for people either, and that individualized diets are best for helping people to recover from different chronic health conditions.

This book is short and succinct- only 175 pages- but power-packed with information and tips that we hope will help others to identify the foods that their bodies most need, and which will help them to heal or simply feel better.

Foods That Fit a Unique You is the second of three books in Dr. Cowden's and my Journey to Wellness series.  To learn more about the series, or this book, I invite you to visit my website: www.ConnieStrasheim.com, where you can also order a signed copy of my latest works.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Living Out of A Spirit of Prosperity, Not Poverty

Expectations frame our life's experiences. As children, if we are taught by our primary caregivers that we deserve little or nothing, we will tend to live out that belief as adults and set the bar low for ourselves in our work, relationships and health situations. We'll live out of a victim mindset, envying others and feeling like the "underdog." And we'll tend to expect little or nothing of God, as well, and aim for mere survival.

But God didn't design us just for survival, though many of us live in "survival mode." He designed us to thrive. In the book of 3 John in the Bible, God says, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers."  (3 John 1-2). Also, in the book of John, Jesus states that he came to earth, "...so that they (us) may have life, and have it more abundantly." (John 10:10).

Is abundant life moving out of your home every year because your apartment is too noisy or you can't afford the rent? Is abundant life eking out a living, and having enough to eat, but not enough to pay for healthy food, or pursue hobbies or do the things God has called you to do? ...I don't think so.

Do you shop at Wal-Mart or Macy's? Okay, let me pause here and say that shopping at Wal-Mart can be great! Indeed, they sell lots of useful stuff--but do you buy your shirts there because it's all that you can afford? If you like the clothes at Wal-Mart or you shop there because God told you to put your hard-earned dollars elsewhere, that's one thing--but if you expect that it's all you can afford and all that you will ever be able to afford, then that may be a sign that you're battling a poverty spirit.

Similarly, saving some cash for retirement, a new car, or a future emergency isn't a bad idea, but if you hoard, scrimp and save because you fear that there will be nothing for the future- that may be a sign that you are living out of a poverty spirit.  Or if you spend all that you have because you don't think you'll ever be able to afford a nice car or a nice home and so there's no point in saving any money--that too is a sign that you're living out of a poverty spirit.

But a poverty spirit isn't just about our expectations for our work or finances. A poverty spirit is about living depressed because other people seem to have more than you do, or feeling like you never get a break in life and that nothing works out for you. (a normal feeling for those of us that have undergone severe hardship).  It's about not trusting God for "life abundant."

I have spent most of my life under the influence of a poverty spirit. I used to accept any ol' job, just grateful that someone would pay me to do some kind of work. When I applied for work, I used to set the bar on my worth, and ask for less than what I should have been paid, or seek out jobs that didn't make the best use of my gifts and talents.

I didn't expect God's best, and I settled for less, because subconsciously, that's what I thought I deserved and it was what I had experienced in life. I had not only a poverty spirit, but an orphan spirit. What do orphans do? They beg for crumbs. They are grateful for the leftovers, and they struggle for survival.

I didn't know that I was no longer an orphan, and that because I had received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I had been adopted into God's kingdom and had all the rights and privileges as a daughter of the Most High God, and all the resources of God's Kingdom at my disposal.

It is a myth that God needs us to be poor and sick in order to be holy, although poverty is more a state of mind than a financial condition. You can live in a mud hut and eat rice every day and feel rich. Conversely, you can live in a mansion and live frightened daily that God won't meet your needs.

When I moved into my current home, I was just starting to pull out of the mess of chronic Lyme disease. I had a 26 K debt, which Social Security had imposed on me for earning money on my books while receiving Disability income. That was a shock.

But while I was sick, I risked losing my Disability income because I chose to write and sell  books, even though I could only work for a few hours a day and it was really, really hard. So staying on Disability income would have been a safe thing to do- because working a little meant risking the little income that I received from the government- but I realized that not trying to do anything would have locked me into a life of poverty and "survival" mode.

I chose to believe that I would make it somehow. I chose to move into my current home, believing that  I would be able to pay the rent, even though it pushed the limits of my income. I chose to write books for an uncertain income, believing that if I was helping people and doing what God asked of me, God would bless me. While I was sick, I also began to give away at least 10% of my income, believing that my obedience to give to others would bring about a tenfold return to me. (I don't believe it's wise to give to God, solely with the expectation of receiving back--I believe we should give because we love Him--but there is truth to the law of reaping what you sow!).

And then, I began to spend money on things that I had never allowed myself to spend money on before--nice clothes, organic food, and expensive haircuts--because God was revealing to me that I was worth nice things. Sometimes, we tell ourselves we can't afford something when the truth is, we just don't think we are worth it.  A poverty spirit often comes disguised as practicality. 

God may tell you to save for the future, but He also might tell you to buy that car you've always wanted, because He wants to provide for your future via another means and He wants to see that smile on your face when you drive your new car.

Or He may tell you to save for the future, or (gasp!) give away everything you own--because He wants to bless someone else through you and show you how He can multiply your finances when you let go of all that you have.  The more we open our fists, the more God sometimes blesses us, although it's not necessarily in the same way in which we blessed another. The blessing may come to our character, not our pocketbook.

God may ask you to go live in a hut in Africa, but it won't be because you can't afford a house in America. It will be because He has a great project or calling for you there.

Similarly, if you've struggled with a severe chronic illness as I have, and thrown up the excuse that you can't get better because you can't afford medical treatments- ask God whether this is really your
soul's way of remaining in poverty and if it's really just a safe way to stay out of the game of life or live out a lifelong (usually subconscious) belief that you don't deserve to be well or be happy.

Of course, I do believe that many people which chronic illness can't afford treatments, but I also truly believe that if you seek God for healing, and trust Him with your whole heart for it- He will gather supernatural and natural resources on your behalf. It's not always an overnight thing- but once
I began to identify the poverty spirit in my life, and realized that I could not get well on my own
or by seeing my conventional doctor (which was the only doctor I could afford, years ago), God orchestrated events so that I could eventually afford to see a Lyme-literate doctor. And in the meantime, He put people in my life who helped to provide for me financially, emotionally and spiritually. Again, it wasn't an overnight thing...but my patience, perseverance and trust in God paid off.

In the meantime, and while I clung tightly to my poverty spirit, I resigned myself to the ugly fate of selling my home because I could no longer work and make the mortgage payments.  I had purchased the home two years before I got sick. Perhaps I  would have lost my home anyway, but I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had simply asked God for the provision to keep it.

We all suffer loss, but God is a redeemer, restorer, and healer--not a taker, a thief, or the one who wants us to suffer sickness and poverty for our "own good."

But because I had believed since childhood that I deserved the leftovers; the hand-me-downs, and the last and the least of everything, I had to learn that God had a different idea about what it meant to be provided for, and how He wanted to provide for me. I'm still learning.

At times throughout this process, I would get angry with God (I still do sometimes) and say, "What does it mean that you will provide for me? Does it mean I have to live in a rathole in Latin America and wear the same set of clothes for years? HOW are you going to provide? I'm so sick!"

So my trust in Him wasn't continual or instantaneous. There were times when I disbelieved Him for provision, but every time I allowed Him to help me to get past the lies I believed, and take a step of faith and say aloud, "Yes, God, I trust you to provide all that I need..." good things would happen!

I needed to simply trust that He knew what I needed, and if that meant money for medical treatments, then I could rest, confident that the money would be there. If it meant faith for divine healing, He would remove my unbelief for a miracle. If it meant a quiet environment to write books in, then it meant the finances for a quieter home.

The problem wasn't what I owned, but how I saw what I owned, and how I made decisions. There's nothing wrong with shopping at Wal-Mart, but it's also good to ask at times why we shop there. Is the motivation fear-based or faith-based? Is it practicality, or just poverty?

Can you truly not afford organic food, or deep down, do you not believe that you are worth organic food? Yes, I know how darned expensive organic food is.  So go ahead and ask God for the provision for that food, or ask Him if He'll simply bless the stuff you can eat, multiply its benefits, and remove the environmental contaminants. Both ways are good, depending on how He chooses to provide.

Just don't succumb to eating garbage because you think that it's all you can afford. Yes, maybe for right now, but what if God said, "Go have a nice dinner. The money will be there." Would you do it?

Ask in faith; ask in trust, and affirm that trust aloud, and your gratitude for what He's already done for you, and it will position you to receive from Him.

I encourage you to go even further, and ask for the Kingdom of God to be made manifest in your life and on the earth. Ask Him to show you your rights and privileges as a Son or Daughter of the Most High God; a God with limitless resources; a God who isn't in a recession, and a God who wants to provide mightily for you, not only so that you have all that you need for life, but so that many others can also have all that they need. Ask Him to show you His will for your life, and when He asks you to do something that seems impossible and which requires great courage--do it, knowing that the provision--for your mind, body, time, energy, family, or whatever--will be there.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Insights on Healing and God's Power- A Report on My Mission Trip to Colombia

God has asked only a few things of those of us that profess to be Christians.  First, and most importantly, that we would go and tell the world about His Son, Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice that He made for all of humanity. In exchange, He would give us freedom here on earth and life eternal with Him in Heaven.

 In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says to His disciples (us) "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." 

Second, in Matthew 10:8, Jesus commanded us to "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give."  

Those words weren't just meant for the disciples of Jesus' time- they were meant for all of us today who profess to love and follow God.

On my recent mission trip to Colombia, I had to question whether I am really living the life that God intended for me. I'm an introverted soul and I pray for people- but ministering to dozens of people daily in Medellin, I couldn't help but feel like this was more like what my life is supposed to look like on a regular basis.  

That is- praying, healing and loving the homeless and drug addicts; praying over neighborhoods; laying hands and praying for more than just two sick people in church every other Sunday afternoon, and visiting poor children in orphanages and elsewhere.  As worldwide evangelist Will Hart once said, "Your ministry (Christians) in not in the church. It's to that guy under the bridge who needs a sandwich." Amen! 

I've spent most of the last decade unwell, until recently, but I still have some physical challenges, so this trip was not easy for me. I slept 4-6 hours a night, and participated in activities day and night, for 10 days. 

wasn't sure I could do it, but I'm glad I did, and not just because God gave me a reality check about what it means to serve Him. He also showed me how mighty, powerful and willing He is to save and heal people by His supernatural hand.

He used me and my team members to heal many, many hundreds of people of physical and emotional problems. Many others experienced the love of Jesus, and decided to make Him Lord and Savior over their lives. 

In fact, nearly everyone I prayed for who had physical pain of some kind - in the four churches we visited, as well as on the street, were completely healed of their pain. I'm talking dozens of people, and many of the 35 others on my team also saw God move in a similar way. It's amazing what God can do through those of us who are willing!.

Many others I prayed for experienced a powerful touch from the Lord, as evidenced by tears, laughing, words of gratitude or being overcome by the Spirit of God.

I prayed for many dozens of people with cancer, thyroid disease, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal problems, back pain, depression, spiritual oppression, and relationship problems, and I believe God healed and set many of these people free, as well. Many felt heat or tingling or electricity in the areas of their bodies where they had pain, or were literally knocked over by the Spirit of God.  Complete healings from disease don't always occur just because someone feels a sensation in their body- but often, they do!

Much of our ministry time was in different churches- a large church of 8,000, where we ministered over people for several days- as well as in small churches of just 50 people. We also drove long distances to visit a few churches in small towns- some an hour and a half away from Medellin.

My favorite time of ministry, however, was when we ministered to the homeless, drug addicts, and alcoholics in a plaza in downtown Medellin that is known for being dangerous and a hangout for the "down and outs." 

People sometimes fear going to this place but since we knew the presence of God was with us, we felt we were protected. One woman who ministers there on a regular basis told us stories of drug dealers that she would minister to, who would fall to their knees under the power of God and get delivered from their addictions, even when they had no intention of giving their lives to the Lord. 

She also told us that some would go into churches with the intention of killing the pastors- only to be literally knocked to the ground by the Spirit of God. This woman, who has been involved in building several churches in the Amazon, has seen guerrilla fighters and the narcotraficantes (drug traffickers) be overcome by the love of God, time and again.

Perhaps the most memorable event in the plaza was when a witch got touched powerfully by God! I think my trip to Medellin would have been worth it for this event alone.  This man was seated on a bench in the plaza, and according to a couple of local team members, was apparently cursing us. He was looking right at me, actually, and muttering things from afar.  So in an act of boldness, I decided to approach him and ask him if he knew God.  

He said No, and that he didn't believe in God. He basically blew me off and said he had done terrible things, and that he didn't care about God or eternity or much of anything. After about 15-20 minutes of conversation, I was about to give up on him, since our bus had arrived to pick us up, and I felt the Holy Spirit asking me to get him to look me in the eyes. 

So I said "Look at me" and he glanced at me briefly, but mostly avoided my gaze.  So I kept asking him to look at me, while we talked. Several of my team members were standing around us and praying quietly during this time. Finally, our team leader asked me to ask him one more time if he wanted prayer. 

He reluctantly conceded and as he and I and our team leader laid hands on his head, the power of God hit him and he started to cry, then the Spirit knocked him over right there in the plaza.  I was amazed! 

I didn't have a chance to talk to him after that, since we had to leave, but I got on the bus and looked out the window, and saw the man waving at me with a smile and tears rolling down his face. I have no idea whether he will give his life to Jesus, but the experience showed me how powerful God is to touch even a witch's heart. And it had nothing to do with me, but everything to do with God in me. 

Speaking of witchcraft....our team spent some time ministering in a
neighborhood where really awful things used to happen- things I don't want to even mention here.

So four of my team members, along with five Colombians from a local ministry, did a prayer walk one night through this dangerous area. The leader, Guillermo, a powerful warrior for God who has spent the past 9 years tearing down territorial spirits and principalities through prayer, and who claims to actually see demons and angels- instructed us on how to pray. 

It was a bit intimidating, because before we set out, he said, "This is serious ministry. You must pay attention to the Holy Spirit as we walk this neighborhood. Don't analyze- just obey. There is no time to think, just listen to the Spirit and pray as He leads." And apparently a huge angel with a sword was walking with us.  Whoa!

He told us that because of his prayers and those of others in the local ministry, the bad activities have stopped and witch's covens have been torn down- and a children's foundation has been established in the area- for children of the prostitutes, poor and drug addicts. 

At the foundation, over 180 children are given a meal daily and taught about the love of Jesus Christ. The neighborhood is changing because of the local ministry, which is actually run by two Americans who came to Colombia 3 years ago to serve God. 

Guillermo told us that many people in the church don't want to do the prayer walks through the dangerous neighborhoods, because they fear the evil that is there. But he said, "If they only knew the power of the Holy Spirit that is in them, they would not be afraid."  God has given us all authority over evil!  He then shared stories of how God had changed other neighborhoods in Medellin due to his intercession and that of others. 

The prayer walk really impacted me because it gave me a greater revelation about the truth that the battle that we fight is not in the flesh or the natural realm, but in the spirit.  Ephesians 6:12 says- "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."  

But even more, it showed me how powerful our words and prayers are- and how much God will use us to heal people, cities, states and nations- if we are willing!

My hope and prayer is to do more of what I did in Medellin in my hometown in Colorado and in Dallas, where I spend a lot of time- in short, to do the works that Jesus did, as He commanded. The spirit world is real, and higher than the natural world. And by living in the Spirit, and with a little persistence and prayer- and by not giving up- we can overcome sickness, sin, addiction, soul wounds, and other problems of the flesh and the natural world.

Praise God!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

5 Things You Should Never Say to a Person with Chronic Illness (i.e., Lyme Disease)

I'm often grieved when I hear about how some family members and friends treat their loved ones with Lyme disease, or other "invisible" chronic illnesses. They don't mean to be insensitive, but along with Lyme disease and other invisible chronic illnesses, comes a lot of unbelief by family members about just how much pain the person with illness is going through. I guess because, unlike a cancer patient, you can't see their body wasting away from illness, or dark circles fringing their eyes, and they may act relatively normal- so it's hard to believe that they are really THAT sick.

In their efforts to be helpful, they may unintentionally say things that make the afflicted one feel even worse.  If you are one of those well-meaning friends or family members who doesn't quite know what to say or do to help your loved one- I'd like to share a few tips about what to not say or do...followed by what you could say or do that would help them to feel better!

Do not say...

1) "But you look so good!" Yes, people with chronic illness often look quite normal, or even fantastic and trim, due to the extra pounds that disease often melts from their frame, due to malabsorption and other metabolic factors. But the problem with this statement is that the sufferer doesn't see it as a compliment, but rather, a statement of disbelief about how much they are actually hurting, since, if they look so great, they couldn't possibly be that sick. A more helpful suggestion? You could say, "Wow, it's amazing you look so good, considering how terrible you must feel inside." A person with Lyme disease has MS-like brain lesions, damaged organs- including the heart, liver and kidneys; a torn-up gastrointestinal tract, broken-down connective tissue, toxic cells, and severe malnutrition- no matter what they look like on the outside. Really.  Not to mention lots of bugs...

2) "You might feel better if you just exercised (or fill in the blank) more."  People with chronic illnesses such as Lyme disease cannot exercise (or work) and reap the same benefits from exercise as a healthy person, due to metabolic problems and a lack of cellular energy and properly functioning mitochondria, among other reasons. A day out jogging could land them in bed for a week. No, this is not a good thing.  It may be difficult for you to understand your loved one's limitations and struggles- no matter how compassionate or sympathetic you might be- so rather than assume that you know best how to help them, it's better to say something like, "I'm sorry you are going through this. I'd love to hear more about how this disease affects you, and find out if there's anything I might be able to do to help."

3) But don't just say...."Is there anything I can do for you?"  This is a wonderful sentiment, but the question is too generic and when asked such a question, your sick loved one, not wanting to burden you, will likely pause, and then say No.  In our "pull yourself up by your own bootstraps"society, it's hard for people to say Yes when offered help, and even if they are inclined to say Yes, they won't know what to ask you for, because they don't know what YOUR limitations are, and they don't want to oblige you to do too much for them. I think that's how most of us are, anyway.  So if you want to help them, say such things as: "I'd really like to help you. Could I come over this week and clean your house for you? Could I buy you some groceries?" Insist! "Are you able to pay for your treatments and basic needs? If not, I'd love to send you some money."  Insist! If they look sad or depressed, say, "It seems like you are going through a lot right now.  Would you like to talk? Or, can I just sit with you for awhile or pray for you? Would you like to watch a movie together at home?" And then emphasize how much you would LOVE to do this for them- as if it were a privilege or a blessing to be able to help them- not an obligation or burden.

4) "Just think more positive."  Trust me, if people with chronic illness could do this, many of them would. Their lives are plagued by day-in, day-out symptoms that sometimes make their existence feel like sheer hell.  It is a noble thing to want to think more positively, but when your biochemistry is a mess, you don't sleep for nights, are in extreme pain, or have pathogens pooping on your neurons, it's hard to be positive. Never mind find joy in a life of isolation and non-functionality.  I believe that God can help us to have more positive thoughts, but apart from God, and in our own human effort, and especially when chronically ill, it's difficult to achieve. Seek instead to empathize with your loved one. If they tell you they are depressed, say "Wow, I'm so sorry. It must be so hard to keep on going, day after day, and function, with such difficult symptoms. It makes me sad to hear of your suffering. Tell me more about what it's like to go through this on a day to day basis." And then-  "Can I pray with you, take you to see a funny movie (or for a drive to the mountains, etc..) or do something that might cheer you a little? Would you like to talk? Would you like a hug?"

5) "I already told you that last week. Don't you remember?"  Chronic illness will often make your loved ones spacey and forgetful. Their cognitive functions- memory, ability to process information, remember dates, names and locations- and respond effectively to you- may be compromised. So when it seems like they aren't listening to you, and they go all ADD on you or act like they don't remember what you told them last week, it may not be because they aren't interested in you or are trying to be disrespectful and forget your appointments with them- they just can't remember or "stay with it" all the time.

If you say things like, "Don't you remember?" or "As I already told you..." and/or act annoyed when they can't remember your friend's name, or where you were supposed to meet for dinner- they might feel stupid and condemned.  Instead, make things as easy as possible for them by not telling them detailed stories, or expecting them to remember dates, names, and events- or to give you their full attention at all times. This one is tricky, because often, the things that loved ones expect to be easy for the sick person, are not, and the things that are easier for the sick person to do, the loved ones doesn't expect to be easy (and so they assume the person isn't as sick as they say!).

By following these guidelines, you will help to make your loved one's journey toward wellness softer and easier, and help them to feel understood and loved in the process.