examining your heart in your business

hmmm…

This world is growing.  There are opportunities to enter business like no time before.  I see women who are stay-at-home mommas and high ranking career women afforded the opportunity to build empires with time freedom and flexibility. They are able to see productivity and worth where they have felt invisible before.  This gives them a purpose in which they see fruit apart from the grind where they might have lost themselves.  This gives them a way to perform where people pay attention.  It gives them a community in which to be a part.  These are not wrong things–they actually can accentuate the true potential and identity of that woman and enrich her family.  The opportunity can equip her with ways to give and minister and serve like never before.  It is not merely about money, however, there comes a point where, like everything, there might be a trap.

The thing is, everything–literally EVERYTHING–can be a trap for idolatry.  A good thing held with a tightly grasped hand that becomes a god over God himself in that person’s heart.  It is not as simple as not participating–the not participating could be pride that becomes an idol. In fact, The Lord might want to grow and stretch you by having you walk there.

Everything is so much more complicated when it deals with our hearts.  Give us a good rule to follow, and we will feel safe to perform (and often in our own pride).  But, our hearts are so blind to what we can be treasuring and seeking…in fact, the Bible calls our hearts “deceitful above all things and desperately sick.  Who can understand it?”

The question becomes how can we keep our hearts in balance?  How do we navigate the waters and the pressures and the noise of this world and still keep our hearts with a focus on the worth of Christ?  How do we fight against false gospels that pop up with a brand of prosperity and blessing and God wants you to go for the top and be blessed and rich? Or, how can we battle the pride that rages on the other side of “THOSE people who do THAT business selling themselves?” How can we remember PEOPLE and serve them while not always thinking of an angle?

My heart and goal has always been to help others come alive.  This includes a financial growth so that my boys can come alive in the best education for them with me being present to listen and encourage their growth.   My husband can come alive knowing that if anything happens to him further with his health or life that we will be okay.  I love shepherding people on my team (and as customers) to step in and to do things that stretch them and help them grow and come alive in ways they did not imagine they could.  I love speaking to their hearts in the midst of life and pointing them to the ultimate hope of the Gospel.

God has expanded my heart for discipleship in the midst of business–which is sometimes more challenging and costly!!!   I have begun to experience what business people have been walking for a long time–it’s so easy to want to compromise to chase success.

I have to wrestle every day with how to lead in Truth and in a pleasing manner to my Good, Good, Father.  And, truthfully, that often can cost me the bottom line of not growing as rapidly as “I could.”  I cannot look to the right and to the left, but I have to care for hearts in truth above people’s performance.  I have to purposefully chose my family above a dangling carrot that I “could” grab. (and my gracious husband gently reminds me when things get out of balance).  I have to examine my motives always before I catch myself in the mix going for the next goal without forethought.    My allegiance and responsibility is to the Lord, and I want to support and encourage examination and growth in Believers in the direct selling industry and business, in general.  This, again, may affect my growth financially, but that is not the ultimate goal in the eternal.

What’s all this to say?  I have these conversations with Believers in direct selling in all different kinds of companies, and I realize it might be helpful to wrestle these things out in a blog.  So, from time to time, I will be writing and sharing things I have struggled with and how I weigh those things in light of God’s heart.  I don’t have anything figured out, but I am at least thinking of the questions, and I am glad to help you think and wrestle to bring Glory to God.

Living is hard, Dying is Easy

We think we know better, don’t we?  We think we can walk the line and have the best of both worlds.  In the “comfort” of our  world, we feel like we can “create” our lives.  We busy ourselves with things and realities that do not last.  These things are not wrong in correct context–food, clothing, making a home, schooling our children, playing, reading, watching, laughing, working, striving, drinking, eating, sex, seeking pleasures and entertainment.    The problem expands when we see that they do not fill us, they leave us longing for more and better and bigger.   The problem comes when they begin to consume us. The things we choose to numb the pain of this world steal our hearts.  The things we think have “control” over, are the very things that kill and destroy our hearts.

Let’s deal in realities.  A new piece of clothing or a child’s birthday party or a vacation or experience or goal met at work brings pleasure for a brief moment.  Not long after, there is a sense of emptiness–a sense of longing for the next thing to bring pleasure.  The things we seek are not lasting.   Even our own health does not last.  We are decaying.  We feel in our joints and we see in our hair (or lack thereof) the diminishing returns that come with time.  Those diminishing returns bring death.  That death was brought by a choice to trust self over God–remember that choice made in the garden by Adam and Eve?  It wasn’t about a piece of fruit.  It was about elevating humanity and their “wisdom” surmising  they were wiser than God…that what He said He really didn’t mean…that He was holding out on them…that He was not truly good.

The consequences of that choice ripped a schism in our hearts, our bodies, our world.  Sometimes we think we still live in the utopia of the garden.  We expect life to work.  We expect things to be harmless.  We even accuse God that our life is not working or is not fair assuming that He must not truly be good. We forget to heed the warnings–the dire warnings that we are living in a war zone instead of a peaceful utopia.  We forget that we are warned of an enemy at work in our hearts–our desire and sin which bring decay and destruction within (James 1:14-15).  What we want and desire kills our hearts and our ability to see truth. We ignore the reality that we have an enemy outside of us that seeks to KILL, STEAL, and DESTROY (John 10:10).  This enemy longs to not only lay us flat out but to bring utter destruction to every pillar, post, and relationship in order to fight against any good.  Destruction of marriages, children, families, relationships, bodies, churches, minds delights the enemy.

The second part of John 10:10 says “BUT I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Jesus is speaking of being the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep and Lays His life down for the sheep.  We forget we have a very Good Father, Shepherd, Redeemer, Refuge.  He has told us about the enemies, the decay, the battle.  He gives us comfort and joy in the midst if we remain in Him (John 15:5).  He rescues us from our supposed wisdom and gives us true wisdom.  He rescues us from our desires that bring death in order that we may live to the deepest joy of Him.  He heals our brokenness in this very broken world.  He also has laid out the ultimate victory.  He promises us an eternity of reward on a new earth, no more tears and decay and destruction (Revelation 21:1-7).

This is all true.  However, how do we live it?

Our family has felt the fiery darts of the enemy these last few years.  Those darts are meant to Devour us.  Those desires within us that will literally rot us–leading us to trust in what we see instead of trusting in who HE is.  Usually these killer darts are not dramatic.  They come in the form of hard things over time–the day in and day out.  Circumstances and attitudes come and continue to come that cause us to be weary…to wonder if God is “gonna let up.”  In the hard, we begin to find things that “work” for the moment to numb.  Connecting with Him is perceived as too painful when nothing is changing.  Dealing with the ongoing pain in our hearts is not fun–escape is fun for the moment.  The end of the day tired and weariness leads to choices over and over in which thorns and weeds crowd out our hearts.  We forget that “apart from Him we can do nothing.”  Our disconnect from Him grows.   Sound familiar?  Wondering, is this really my pastor’s wife.  Yes…we all are living in the same reality.

Greg has a sermon where the main point is “living is hard and dying is easy.”  Is this not true?  Decay, because of the consequence of sin, is natural–it happens with no work. Our natural tendencies and desires will lead us to death. Living requires a fight.  We are weary–He says come to Me.  We think His ways are burdensome, but He says–My burden is light.  I am reminded in a season of weakness that I CANNOT afford to do this alone.  I am reminded through His words of life that He has forgiven me, will restore me, and will walk me through every season to finish His work in me.  I am reminded of every hard time that I have chosen to believe Him and come to HIm that He has given me deep joy in Him.  Every time I dig into His word and trust, my eyes and heart are renewed and trained toward truth.  I am able to look around and see with spiritual eyes what is bringing me death and what is bringing me life.  I see part of the thousands of ways that He brings things to our lives to rescue us from ourselves.  Yes, even and especially the hard stuff.  I am thankful that life does not “work” most of the time, for if life worked and was easy, I would be decaying quickly toward death in my comfort.  The choice comes over and over to see that the Lord is good…to see our need for Him…to see what abundant life really is instead of what we think it is in our creation.  Join me in living.  Let’s lock arms in the hard.  Let’s examine our hearts in Him.

 

Decay (to rot or decompose)

Destroy (to ruin someone emotionally or physically) (put an end to the existence of someone by damaging or attacking) (to defeat someone utterly)

steal (to take another person’s personal property without permission or legal right with no intention of returning it)

kill (to cause the death of, to end the life of, to cause the end of, to turn off)

Devour (to prey upon, to eat up greedy or ravenously, to use up or destroy as if by eating)

 

O Candida…(this ain’t the song or the country)

So, since I wrote about my research into my health issues, I have talked to several people about suspicions that they may be struggling with Candida.  Whenever I learn something in life, I like to share it.  So, I am going to try to compile some helpful resources and things I have learned to help with Candida.  Want to know if Candida might be what you are struggling with?  Here is a questionnaire to assess your symptoms.  If this might be you, here are some suggestions…

***Know that I am not a professional, just a sufferer.  You are responsible for your journey and your healing.  I am just trying to point you to places that I read and found helpful.

1.  First things first–Take a good probiotic (this is one a friend recommended to me).  Actually, ANYONE should be taking a probiotic–your babies, your mommas, your cousins, your neighbors–e’rbody!  Why?  Our body, specifically our guts, need good bacteria.  When you have a bacterial infection, your doctor has given you antibiotics.  Antibiotics can save our lives–they are not bad.  Too many antibiotics can wreak havoc by killing the good bacteria that helps us function in a healthy way in our body.      There is a book called the GAPS diet that has a great explanation as to how many of our issues like ADHD, depression, Autism, autoimmune disorders etc are exacerbated by our diets and the leaky guts we have due to the imbalance of bacteria there.  I began taking a probiotic when I had mono over a year ago, and I have seen it transform our family and others.  This is not just something you take when you are on antibiotics!!!  Take it all the time!

2.   Your Diet drives this ship.  You cannot fight Candida without changing your diet.  If you are miserable enough, you WILL change your diet.  The interwebs:) have all kinds of information, and sometimes that can be completely overwhelming especially when you are feeling poorly!  There are several websites that helped me in compiling a plan for how my diet should change.  You have to plan for this–you CANNOT wing it.  I used this site and this site to come up with a plan.

Basically, you will need to cut sugar (of all kinds–even naturally occuring in fruits and veggies), gluten (and no not even “gluten free” items that are processed), and dairy.  You can do the reading of all the “whys” in the GAPS diet and on those websites above.  Candida yeast feeds on sugar, even the stress hormone cortisol that is released in fight or flight turns to sugar and the yeast rejoices.  You will start with a cleanse–homemade veggie broth, and raw or roasted legal veggies, lots of water, for several days.  You will experience die-off.  This can be significant–I was in bed for 3 days sicker than I have been in a long time.  This occurs once, and it IS WORTH IT.  The yeast has wreaked havoc on your body, and it will not leave quietly.  All I could think was, “if this is what it is doing to my body in die-off, what in the world was it doing to all the systems of my body when I was feeding a happy monster????”

3.  Look into Anti-fungals.  You fight with dietary and supplemental anti-fungals.  I chose to use some essential oils from my research–lemongrass, oregano, cinnamon bark, clove, ocotea.   I basically have used them in a variety of different ways.  You can also talk to your doc about a prescription anti-fungal.  Do your research.

4.  Realize that your symptoms show you the train wreck that has been going on in your body.  Your body might need help in figuring out how to function properly again.  Along with probiotic and anti-fungals, there might be food and supplemental help.  We have been through a stressful season where our adrenals are a joke.  Here are some that I have chosen to take–do your research.  Just want to point you in a direction.

Candida support supplement, Vitamin D, Omega 3, Evening Primrose, Licorice Root, Magnesium and Potassium support, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-12, Multi-vitamin, Milk Thistle, (and I am probably forgetting some).

5.  Some practical things I like in my diet-Most Kombucha and Probiotic Drinks I would avoid–because of the sugar and fermentation.  I have found this drink to be 1)refreshing 2)aiding detox with lemon and cayenne 3)legal since it has 1 gram of sugar.  Whole foods has it for the cheapest price and then Target and Kroger carry it.

LemonCayenne_OPENHEX_L_7-23-15

Another thing that I do weekly is cook a whole organic chicken and then make bone broth.  ADD homemade bone broth to your diet.  I drink it and freeze it to use in all my cooking.  Whole Foods and Earth Fare are places to get bones from other animals to make beef broth.

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Use the heck out of Apple Cider Vinegar–add it here and there to recipes (just a smidge).  Drink it, research ways to use it.  It is invaluable.

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Only buy and cook grass fed meat, free range chicken, etc.  Why?  To avoid any antibiotics that have been added to them–remember the whole gut balance thing?

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I hope some of these things encourage you.  I did this with A LOT of help from the LORD.  His strength and discipline–I am not self-disciplined, but I was desperate.  If you think, “I could never,” ask Him for help.  I have dropped 20 lbs and feel so much better–and I have a long way to go to health.  This is NOT an overnight process to healing, but it is a process to healing.

Anemic faith in the hands of the All-Powerful God

Here’s the deal–I stay tired these days.  I remain in a state of need, scratching my head for how to live.  This parenting thing is way out of my league, and I am just in the pee-wee leagues!  I look around at the painful, scary places I see people wading through around me, and I am broken and at a loss for how to wade in with them.

If I could share the prayer list I just put together for people around me this week (it’s not the “bless me with a good day and a car” kind of list), you would see a theme.  There are lives hanging in the balance–babies, 30 somethings, elementary students, teenagers, older adults.  A list of people fighting for physical life and spiritual life and grieving like they never knew possible is written neatly on the side of my planner.  This list puts things in perspective, and most of the time, it is the easiest to ignore that perspective.

I am a feeler–God created me with mercy in my bones.  The weight of need in my family and friends is crushing me.  It is a picture that in EVERY area of my existence I NEED GOD.  My flesh says, “You cannot deal with this–put it out of your head and find a way to cope and numb–run after things you can control (ha!).”  God calls to my heart, “Call to me–you are meant to need Me.”  Truthfully, I teeter between these two realities.  I can forget who I am.  I can forget Who has called me and loved me from before the foundation of the world.  I can forget Who has lavished His grace upon me and sealed me with the Spirit.  I forget that He is doing me good by putting me in places of need–stretching me, growing me, teaching me, loving me, parenting me.

My greatest place of need right now is wisdom and endurance in parenting.  Greg and I try to keep the long road to adulthood always on the horizon as we make parenting decisions, but we also know that TODAY’s actions and decisions make up that horizon.  This morning, through Ephesians 1, I was reminded that I am His.  I don’t have a grand plan, but He does.  I don’t have wisdom, but He does.  I don’t have the endurance and love to follow through, but He does. He has given me everything I need for life and godliness–Himself.  So, what does this mean for today?  I need to stop wringing my hands and scratching my head on my own and ask for help from the ONE who is the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth.  I need to do what I know He has set before me for today and entrust the outcome to Him.  This entrusting of my heart and circumstances is the greatest gift I could give to my sons for it is the path to Life.

Those of you who are on my prayer list, I am entrusting you to Him.  We are in this together–messy, nearsighted, fumbling.  However, our hope is in our Adopted Father who is doing so much more than we can ask or imagine.

tricky

Balance in life is tricky, is it not?  I find that true especially with littles.  If I feel like I have “conquered” one thing, I have “failed” or completely ignored another.  The “you can have it all” life is not true no matter how much we fight to prove it is.  Our hearts, minds, and physical bodies are only able to handle so much–and yet we attempt to be god everyday.

We were created to need our Creator with everything in us.  That need is good even though our flesh cries against it most times.  I am reminded of this as my boys will pitch fits and recoil from me when I am trying to help them.  They scream “No, I do it myself–go away!!!!”  All the while I am thinking “let me know how that goes for you–I am simply trying to help you!”  Boy, do I see a mirror of myself and God in my children.  I see the ridiculousness of my tantrums and behaviors, and I gulp.

And yet, He is much more gracious and patient than I am.  When I look back over the trials and struggles of the last ten years, I see patterns and themes.  God uses different circumstances to continue to deal with the same rebellion and weakness in me.  I think I “get” the point, and yet I see how deep rooted my unbelief is.  I see such good parenting in His approach with me.  I see the beautiful tapestry He is weaving that is bringing me the greatest good–His presence.

Past experience tells me He can be trusted, but I want to buck and run every time the pain of life rears its ugly head.  What this tells me is that I do not want to go deep.  I do not want to be bothered.  This tells me where my treasure is.  Jesus told us “where our treasure is, there our heart is also.”  He was speaking of storing up treasures on earth verses treasures in Heaven.  He tells us that no one can serve two masters.  He wants all of me, and in Him, all of me is filled.  I try to fill myself with little treasures here and there that are like Happy Meal trinkets compared to the deep riches of knowing Him.  I create more pain by trading Him for these temporal treasures.  (see Matthew 6 for further study) Then, I get angry at the consequences.

Bad parenting lets the child have his whims.  Good parenting thinks of the child’s end–maturity.  Therefore, it is a consistent purpose-filled leading of the heart of that child teaching them truth and showing them how to live in it.  Sometimes I just want God to leave me alone, but He cannot.  He is a good Father which has promised to share with me His Holiness–his greatest gift.  (see Hebrews 12 for deeper study of this)

Most of the time that I blog, it is simply a time to work out on paper what God is crafting in me.  As I write, I learn and discover.  This is one of those reminders from Him.  I choose today to trust Him.  I choose to look at all the Ebenezers  (monuments in my life where I remember where He has helped and established me–in hebrew “stone of help) and remember His hand and heart of faithfulness.  As an exercise, I list these.  Every time I see that I know Him and experience Him more deeply than I ever would if I had gotten what I wanted in the moment–whether children, marital ease, success in my timing, lack of loss, healing in my timing, lack of diagnoses.  The list could go on and on–and there will be further challenges.  The common denominator is always my heart and His goodness in shaping it.  No matter how much I fight against it, I want my Good Loving Father to do me His good.  I want Him to do that good in my children’s lives even though I know that will bring pain to my heart, as well.  Treasures in Heaven, dear Lord, help my heart be focused there.

Come Thou Fount of every blessing

Tune my heart to sing Thy grace

Streams of mercy never ending

Call for songs of loudest praise

Teach me some melodious sonnet

Sung by flaming tongues above

Praise thy name I’m fixed upon it

Name of thy redeeming love.

 

O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let Thy goodness like a fetter

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wonder Lord I feel it

Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it,

Seal it for thy courts above.

 

Here I raise mine Ebenezer, Here by Thy great help I’m come.

And I hope by Thy good pleasure safely to arrive at Home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger wandering from the fold of God;

He to rescue me from danger; interposed His precious blood.

 

Wake Up

Do you remember those moments when your parents got your attention as a child?  They asked for your eyes and took your chin in their hands to direct your gaze, and you knew they meant business.  There was a sense of heightened awareness of their authority but also awareness of their deep love and care.  That has been a picture of me and the Lord in these last few months.  He has taken my chin in His hands and literally turned my neck in a different direction awakening parts of my heart that have been dormant.

I had NO clue the lostness you can feel as a mom of young littles–especially if they have any heightened needs.  Every moment (even in sleep) is dedicated to tending to the physical and emotional needs of another, and it is a learn-as-you-go gig.

Most of these last 4 years, I feel like I have been in survival mode–especially the last 3 (pregnancy and 2 years with 2).  This past year has included one event after another of physical sickness or emotional needs for our family.  Several people we know have made jokes about our lives–“can one more thing happen to the Pinkners?”   I am tired, and I have not taken good care of myself.  It was the “do anything to survive and not fall apart” plan.   You take one thing at a time, and you keep on going because you have to be there for your children (the mantra of parents throughout the ages!).

Since last Winter, I had been experiencing hot flashes where I sweat profusely about 4 times a day.  These were “get out of my face, I’m going to die, I don’t care who you are…” hot flashes.  I was also extremely fatigued and dealing with depression.  (This was most likely due to the fact I did not sleep between 1 and 5 am most days–good ole insomnia).  I also began having aches and pains in my body, hands and feet that I blamed on 40–the age I USED to think was ancient!  Did I mention that I developed a high temper and a continual bad mood?  I was carrying more weight than ever before and could not budge the scales when I tried to improve.  Blood work did not show anything, but my gut knew there was something really funky going on within my body.  I dealt with it limping through until God took my chin and directed me to research on “Dr. Google.”

I landed on Candida yeast overgrowth.  What I found was that people who have had a lot of antibiotics (hello ear infections, tonsillitis, urinary infections galore in the last 35 years!) and who have been under extreme stress with cortisol released can tend to have systems that are way out of whack.  The good bacteria has been killed in the gut and then yeast (that is there in everyone) begins to grow more AND it feeds on sugar.  Sugar is in so many things (and in that cortisol released from stress).  Even the “well-meaning” things I was eating turned into sugar in digestion.  This Candida overgrowth then begins multiplying and will affect different systems of the body.

What’s the cure?  Diet.  No sugar, no dairy, no gluten (not even fruit).  This is meant to starve the feeding Candida.  What have I found?   Sugar is not our friend–especially not my friend.  I thought that the way I was feeling was just “how it was going to be the older I get.”  Cloudy mind, depression, anxiety, fatigue, aches and pains began to wane after I had the “break-up with sugar” headache for a couple of weeks.  I actually looked forward to the day.  I can literally look back over the last year of my life and see a darkness over me–it was affecting my outlook and my thinking. I was not sleeping, so I was not waking to spend time with God.  I literally just crawled through the day almost in a stupor.  I remember telling my dear friend that I kind of hated life–that is not me at all.

I am still fighting this demon of Candida, and I thank God for literally rescuing me from myself.  I was walking toward self-destruction, and He loves me and is faithful to me even when I do not pursue Him.  See, this is not about food–it’s about so much more than that.  I did not change my diet because I am disciplined.  I did not change my diet to lose weight.  I did not change my diet as a resolution.  The Lord showed me that I have no other choice if I wanted to live as He had made me to.  He is the One who has given me the strength each step–through Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I literally cannot go back to the way things were.  He has shown me the lesser things that I trusted in to get me through the moment.  Now, I am able to see with greater hope and plan with greater hope.  I can think on truth again; I want to think on truth again.

I share this to encourage those who have weird health things going on–or even fatigue or headaches, etc.  Food can be a healer–look beyond the box.  We are our only advocate and our children’s only advocates…a lot of times you have to research on your own and listen to your gut if you think something is not right.  I could go on and on, but I will leave it here for now.

 

Decade

Grief is so powerful.  It’s such a force that crashes on our shore even when we do not consciously think on that which we are mourning.  The world moves at its same pace, and we are spun into a different orbit with sorrow in our hearts as we grieve.

Ten years ago the week of Thanksgiving my family’s world flipped upside down.  My Daddy had come to some terrible and terrifying days with his Parkinson’s disease.  We had to rush to the emergency room in Knoxville and felt helpless and directionless.   Three days later we got the news that he was dying.  He would never leave Baptist hospital again.  We were there for 2 weeks with him as we saw him slip away, and then, it was done.  He died early in the morning December 6, 2005.

I was a different person after that–a transition from 30 year old girl to 30 year old woman.

There’s something about this decade mark of him being gone that calls to a deeper grief in my soul.  There’s a heaviness to this season that reminds me of the heaviness when he went to be with Jesus.  I think about the things he has missed experiencing–especially my children.  How he would get a kick out of them.  How he would horse laugh and think they were crazy boys.  How his tender heart would ache for challenges they are facing.  And, Oh the joy Jack and Luke would have knowing “Pops!”  I cannot adequately describe him to them.  I cannot get them to see the depth of his importance, his legacy.

What a legacy he left.  What a gift he was.  What a Daddy.  The longer I live, the more clearly I see that, and I would like to hug him and tell him that one more time.  I have peace knowing where He is and the joy he is experiencing, but the grief is still there.

As a celebration of Herbert and a way to turn that grief into gratitude, I want people to share what he meant to them.  It may even be a story that no one has ever heard.  I want grief to be turned to gratitude and praise to God!