The Bread of Life: In a Thematic Format

Bread.
Everybody loves it. We love it so much that we have made all sorts of variations on it. Pizza, bruschetta, paninis, sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, pretzels…I could go on.
Nutrition.
That word it gives many pause. “You’re gonna make me eat gross stuff aren’t you? I’ll start my diet after the holidays. I love my sweets, Kirsten! And Grandma only makes this pie once a year.” Often, in a developed country, we think of good nutrition in the sense of restriction especially.
Skin.
In it’s normal state, skin is pretty…normal. Not much to say about it other than guys (ok, and girls) like to see it and sometimes it’s different colors. Below is a simple non-technical explanation of what happens when it is damaged. (Sorry if it bores you, but I LOVE this stuff!)
“What’s the largest organ in your body? As a kid that might have gotten you; it’s your skin, which serves as a layer of protection between your inner tissues and the outside world.Because of its protective function, your skin must have an action plan for healing itself when you get hurt, no matter if it’s scratched, bruised, or wounded (or burned). The body’s self-healing properties are fascinatingly harmonious and rather beautiful (I agree). Various cells and mechanisms work together as though forming a puzzle (Gah! Love puzzles.), rebuilding your layers of skin.When the top layer — the epidermis — is broken by a light scratch, not much occurs. You might see some dead skin cells flake off. But when something cuts into the deeper, next layer — called the dermis — you’ll see blood, and your body triggers a four-stage process of healing itself. The skin has to respond to two major threats at first: the loss of blood, and the lack of a physical barrier (the epidermis) between your innards and the outer world. An open cut is an open doorway to bacteria and other pathogens, far more vulnerable to infection, so the body must act quickly to regenerate the epidermis.”
Here is the source of this quote and the video:
Basics of Simple Wound Healing

Bread.
To state it in simple terms, bread is cheap calories. Bread is easily broken down by the body into a sugar–which is why it so quickly leaves our stomach feeling empty while actually increasing our waistline. Bread is a starch. Starch around the world is cheap financially and cheap nutritionally. The body breaks it down and uses it up pretty fast.

Nutrition.
This is why we need to have  a diverse diet. We needs vitamins from fruit. Fiber (and more vitamins) from vegetables. Protein and fats from eggs, dairy, beans, and meats.

Skin.
“Good nutritional status is essential for wound healing to take place. Ignoring nutritional status may compromise the patient’s ability to heal and subsequently prolong the stages of wound healing. Glucose provides the body with its power source for wound healing and this give energy for angiogenesis and the deposition of new tissue. Therefore, it is vital that the body receives adequate amounts of glucose to provide additional energy for wound healing. Fatty acids are essential for cell structure and have an important role in the inflammatory process. Wound healing is dependent on good nutrition and the presence of suitable polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet. Protein deficiency has been demonstrated to contribute to poor healing rates with reduced collagen formation and wound dehiscence. High exudate loss can result in a deficit of as much as 100g of protein in one day. This subsequently needs to be replaced with a high protein diet. Vitamins are also important in wound healing. Vitamin C deficiency contributes to fragile granulation tissue.” Research source

Bread.
“Jesus teaches us to pray that God would give us daily bread (Matthew 6:11). Obviously Jesus was not telling His disciples to pray only for bread. But bread was a staple in the diet of the Jews, and had been so for many years. Furthermore, bread was a powerful symbol of God’s provision for His people in the Old Testament. We remember how God cared for the Israelites when they were in the wilderness after their exodus from Egypt. Life in the wilderness was hard, and soon the people began to complain that it would be better to be back in Egypt, where they had wonderful food to eat. In response to these complaints, God promised to “rain bread from heaven” (Ex. 16:4). The next morning, when the dew lifted, there remained behind on the ground, [Manna] “a small round substance, as fine as frost… . It was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (vv. 14, 31). When God miraculously fed His people from heaven, he did so by giving them bread.” Source

Nutrition.
Since good nutrition is essential for skin to heal, we automatically start a certain category of our plastic surgery patients on the ship’s nutritional protocol as soon as we approve them for surgery and give them a date. One of our protein products, believe it or not, is named MANA.

Skin.
On a Monday in late October, I and the rest of the dressings team were discouraged by the [lack] of progress in the healing of several of our patients. We had made sure they were on the appropriate nutrition protocol. We had identified infections and treated them as best as we knew how. We were “at our extremity” as Rees Howells would say. At the end of our rope and discouraged, we spent time praying for the patients who were struggling. One of them was Jonas. Not only was the majority of his skin graft not taking, he also appeared to be depressed and downcast. He rarely said a word, laid in his bed all day, and NEVER smiled.

Bread.
“After the Korean War ended, South Korea was left with a large number of children who had been orphaned by the war. We’ve seen the same thing in the Vietnam conflict, in Bosnia, and in other places. In the case of Korea, relief agencies came in to deal with all the problems that arose in connection with having so many orphan children. One of the people involved in this relief effort told me about a problem they encountered with the children who were in the orphanages. Even though the children had three meals a day provided for them, they were restless and anxious at night and had difficulty sleeping. As they talked to the children, they soon discovered that the children had great anxiety about whether they would have food the next day. To help resolve this problem, the relief workers in one particular orphanage decided that each night when the children were put to bed, the nurses there would place a single piece of bread in each child’s hand. The bread wasn’t intended to be eaten; it was simply intended to be held by the children as they went to sleep. It was a “security blanket” for them, reminding them that there would be provision for their daily needs. Sure enough, the bread calmed the children’s anxieties and helped them sleep. Likewise, we take comfort in knowing that our physical needs are met, that we have food, or “bread,” for our needs.

This petition of the Lord’s Prayer, then, teaches us to come to God in a spirit of humble dependence, asking Him to provide what we need and to sustain us from day to day. We are not given license to ask for great riches, but we are encouraged to make our needs known to Him, trusting that He will provide.” Source

Nutrition.
The surprisingly dramatic role of nutrition in mental health | Julia Rucklidge | TEDxChristchurch

Skin.
While praying for our patients, I had specifically remembered (thanks Holy Spirit) the scripture in which Jesus calls himself “the bread of life.” I felt very strongly that our patient Jonas needed to know. So later that week I finally worked up the courage, while doing his dressing change (literally right in the middle of it), to ask Hannah to read (he spoke pretty decent English)  from John 6. Below is the scripture shared with Jonas:  For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:33-35
When Hannah finished, I added that I believed that God would supply all He needed. I believed that God would fill in every nutritional gap that was inhibiting his wounds from healing. He nodded, but didn’t want us to read anymore. I wasn’t sure if the scripture had fallen flat or lacked relevance completely…

Bread.
“If we find that God’s hand seems to be invisible to us and that we cannot discern His providential intrusion into our lives, that may be due partly to the way we pray. We have a tendency to pray in general. When we pray in general, the only way we will see the hand of God’s providence is in general. As we enter into prayer, this conversation and communion with God, and put our petitions before Him, pouring out our souls and our needs specifically, we see specific answers to our prayers. Our Father has invited us to go to Him and ask Him for our daily bread. He will not fail to provide it.”

 

Nutrition. Skin. Bread.
Well, soon after we prayed specifically together for the healing of several of our patients we started to see results. Within a week, Jonas’ wounds had turned a corner and his mood was uncharacteristically positive. He was smiling, shaking hands in the corridor outside the hospital, and just overall lighter in countenance! I really believe that what God did was some kind of miraculous nutritional deposit inside Jonas. His skin began to heal so drastically and his demeanor changed so suddenly we could hardly contain ourselves. When we acknowledged that we could do nothing else, God had intervened.

Journal entry 9 Dec 2016:
“Truly, God can do what he says he will do.”

The Light of Life

December 13th, 2016
Probably my last post from the Africa Mercy in Benin.

There are so many moments here on board that have the potential for greatness if we attempt to tune our ear to God’s voice. I am grateful that this round in Africa has been filled with growth for me. I’m past the sweeping perspective shift of my first field service in Madagascar. Now, I’m into the nitty-gritty of my faith, heart, and service. The ship is both literally and figuratively a petri-dish. Whatever you bring will quickly grow, for better or worse.

I’m so grateful for the pioneering vision of Don Stephens.
I’m so grateful for my privilege and corresponding responsibility.
(I’m one lucky girl! Globally, it’s a pretty small percentage of women who even get the opportunity to do what I’m doing.)
I’m grateful for this pressure-cooking, community.
I’m grateful for good leadership.
I’m grateful for heartbreak.
I’m grateful for our patients and translators.
I’m grateful for “ambassadors” of Mercy Ships in all areas.
I’m grateful for tough cases.
But most of all…
I’m so grateful for the word of God.

Without it, I couldn’t possibly make sense of the good, bad, and ugly.
Without it, I wouldn’t have grown through some of the toughest and best months of my life.
Without it, my words would lack power and friendly advice would be empty.

I am grateful for the Holy Spirit.
Coupled with the Holy Spirit, God’s word is like “fire in my bones.”

With them, I am uncharacteristically bold and confident.
With them, I speak life, not just positive vibes.
With them, I am inspired and creative.
With them, I am measured and convicted.
With them, I am different (all meanings apply).
With them, I know who and whose I am.
With them, I fear no thing.

Relationship with the Holy Spirit when the rubber meets the road is way better than the rush of any worship night or youth conference. Maybe it’s because “high” emotions aren’t my favorite thing, but really. I am more stirred thinking about the involvement of the Holy Spirit in my life than I am recalling any invigorating praise experiences. You can have the praise-breaks, shouts and goosebumps, give me the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit in my everyday life!

This goes out to all the believers who are new to life with the Holy Spirit:
Practice, practice, practice.
And by that I don’t mean you’re warming the bench or tuning your instrument before the performance.
What I mean is, put it into practice. Your new life starts NOW! The game is already full-swing. The concert is already started. You have been granted the privilege to harbor the Spirit of God inside you. Live like it! If you fumble or go sharp, it’s ok… that’s why you aren’t a solo-athlete or musician. The team/orchestra of believers around you are there to support you and get you up to speed. Look to your coach/conductor–He won’t steer you wrong. Trust me when I say that waiting until you feel ready or worthy is a losing battle.

There are people in need now,
obedient choices to make,
dark spots to purge from your life,
and hearts that need hope.

We are literally hiding your “light” under a basket by withholding due to insecurity. We are doing ourselves and others a disservice by delaying to live according to the Spirit.

Just to prove that I’m not just babbling, guess what I’m about to quote? Yup, the word of God. For your reading (and application) pleasure 🙂

Ephesians 5
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children
2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.
4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.
7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)
10 and find out what pleases the Lord.
11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.
12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.
13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.
14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,
19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,
20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 14
Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. 
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 16
But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth.He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.

Acts 1
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 4
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Start here.
Start putting these things into practice with me, and see if God doesn’t follow through on His word. Try it and see 🙂

If God wills it…

October 11-25th, 2016:

Ending a work day in prayer after a frustrating day and busy weekend…
Wounds are not healing. We are at the end of ourselves.
Bible study, James 4*…
Story from Joshua*, being duped by neighboring country because he didn’t consult God first…

My life… what do I do next?
Have I consulted God?

James 5*. Am I storing up wealth for myself (as “evidence against me”)…to prove that I am an adult…or am I putting God’s will above my own insecurity?
Should I sell my house and just live this life as long as possible?
What if I only live 3 more years anyway? Is it pointless to hang onto?
Not assuming anything. Waiting to hear His voice.


Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. 13 And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.” 14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.15 Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath. 16 Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. Joshua 9

Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. James 5:3-5

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29 (or Mark 10:29-30, or Luke 18:29-30)


November 20th-December 7th, 2016:

Preparing to be “home” again.
Wanting to at least.
I’m not sure I can be prepared, but only to have a willing heart.
A heart of surrender and willingness…
No, not just to live MY life in surrender…
“There is all the difference in the world between your surrendered life in my hands, and I living My life in your body.”*
(Yes, I’ve been reading Intercessor: Rees Howells)
I feel this sense of leaving…
Leaving behind everything I’ve ever known.*
Making my goal:

Giving up my expectations of life.
Looking forward only to that which the Father has called me.
Praying only what he calls me to pray.
Allowing him to speak into every minute or major detail.
Answering always, “Yes, Lord. I’m listening. Send me.”

I have this deep understanding that my life isn’t that radical, really.
The world praises me for being slightly different, but is that what God called me to? Slightly different?
No. In fact, He’s used the words “set apart” quite a few times.*


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1

The sons of Amram: Aaron and Moses. Aaron was set apart, he and his descendants forever, to consecrate the most holy things, to offer sacrifices before the Lord, to minister before him and to pronounce blessings in his name forever. 1 Chronicles 23:13

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,[g] a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
10 “Once you had no identity as a people;
   now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy;
now you have received God’s mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10

Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. Psalm 4:3


“But the Lord has been proving to us day by day, that living faith is above circumstances; no delays can discourage it, no loss of friends nor depression in trade can touch it.” ~Rees Howells

 

“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
~Eugene H. Peterson, a paraphrase of Romans 8:31-39


December 8th, 2016:

To summarize, I’m not worried. I just know “something’s coming, something’s coming.” Namely, change. Of course that’s not a bad thing, but just to give you a visual–I hate change like Indiana Jones hates snakes.

Returning to the States soon.