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When your life and actions radically change to the point you don't recognize yourself!

Who are you and what have you done with Esther?!?!?!  It was a question that was long overdue for asking but didn't surface until I found myself spotting a very large roach and, without thinking of the potential hazards of missing, grabbing the nearest object (which happened to be a oversized, pasteboard coaster) and slamming it down on the roach as it crawled across the recycle bin.  This from the girl who would run screaming out of the room if she even heard, or thought she heard, one crawling in the corner of said room.  I HATE roaches.  I mean, what is their purpose?? Why do they exist?? Did Noah really capture two and take them on the ark, or did they stowaway in a food basket and wait til all the water subsided before disembarking and populating the earth with their grossness?? These are the questions that I ask about these creatures.  I'd much rather see a mouse than a roach!! UGH (shudder). Granted, as I got older I had managed to gain the ability to swing at them with a looooong handled broom in hopes of killing them without hearing the crunch of their exoskeleton, and with a clear exit strategy in case I missed and they flew at me.  And I even managed, on one occasion, (not too long before the above incident) to stomp on one that I saw on the porch.  Granted, I was wearing shoes, (shocking, I know) ok, flip flops, and I screamed really loudly as I did it (in order not to hear the crunch), and technically it was far away from me (I'm 5"04") but it was pre-meditated, since there wasn't anything closer, 'cause I definitely wanted to keep it from coming in the house thereby denying it the ability to bother me later.  But neither of those shocked me or ellicited a "pause for thought" moment like the pasteboard coaster slaying did.   So what was it about that event that was so pivotal in my realization of how much I had changed over the course of the last 10 months??

As I'm writing, I'm thinking of all the other "odd", uncharacteristic things I had done prior to that night. (Beyond those mentioned in previous posts.) The first one that comes to mind is offering a room in my house to a non-family member, a girl I had just met in fact, that was in need of housing that was close to her jobs and school.  That's crazy....stay the night??  Sure... Stay the week?? Maybe... Move in indefinitely.?? not on your life...  This is my house, my space, my haven, mine, mine, MINE!!!!  I sounded like the seagulls in "Finding Nemo"!  But, I offered, she accepted, and it worked out fine.  (Having one guest was just the warm-up act!!!)

The second event that should have triggered this "HUH???" response was probably waking up at 4:30 AM and heading into the kitchen to cook, with a big smile on my face no less, because I was wide awake!!  What?!??!  This from the girl who rarely got out of bed before 9 and definitely moaned and groaned if she had to get up before the sun, who refused to do anything work related before she had coffee and time to read the comics and complete ALL the puzzles, and who adamantly refused to schedule lessons before 10AM during the summer and told the parents who requested that time that it was EARLY!!  (I now wake up at 5AM M-F to work the breakfast shift at St. Joseph's Diner)

Even my rational response to a situation that was uncomfortable and would have normally resulted in a bad reaction from me, didn't raise my eyebrows the way the roach anihilation had.  So what was it about it that made it such a pivotal moment in my awareness that I was in a very different, much better place, than the previous year? (Well, maybe some of my friends might disagree with me that achieving roach killing ability, while remaining calm, is an improvement!!)  I was aware of changes happening in my life, (Read the "He restores my soul" blog post) and I was very thankful for them. But none of them shocked me that profoundly.  I guess since my disdain and disgust for roaches was rooted in childhood traumatic encounters with them, I expected to always react in the same way when I saw or heard one.  It wasn't something I had ever brought before God to "take away" so the different reaction caught me by surprise. I'm not sure why I'm surprised when God moves unexpectedly in my life but I am. Let me explain using "previous me" (before the Psalms challenge) and "present me" (after the Psalms challenge).

The previous me had been struggling with a failing marriage and divorce and health issues that resulted in a gluten free diet, all while maintaing a busy teaching schedule in an effort to not think about the first traumatic event listed. I was easily angered and had a hard time maintaining self control when I felt I had no control over events in my life.  The present me had adjusted well to the gluten free diet and had even survived 5 months of a modified paleo diet.  (I had also had almost a full year of meditating on and singing the Psalms). I was 9 months into a sabbatical from teaching and I had started running again, and I was feeling better about life in general.  Upon further reflection, I remember that I had made a conscious decision to remove all processed foods (especially those with preservatives) from my diet when I embarked on the modified paleo diet experiment. I had already experienced a new sense of contentment and an awareness of Him restoring my soul, so, I concluded that it was another level of HIM making Psalm 23 real to me.  Specifically, verse 4 - "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for YOU are with me."  I mean walking by a trash bin and seeing a roach (an evil thing) is equivalent to "the valley of the shadow of death" isn't it?? and here I was, not fearing the evil thing because I knew HE was with me and therefore, I could kill it!!  I think the "YOU are with me" , for me, is the most significant part.  I was assimilating all the lessons HE had been teaching me through this new phase of my life and was finally starting to rest in the knowledge that HE was in the boat with me, and we were indeed going to get to the other side!  (See my previous post from July)

Like most ongoing lessons in my life, I'm always drawn back to the time when I was on dialysis and reflect on how GOD has worked and continues to work in my life.  This time was no different and I remembered how HE had directed me to improve my diet through changing my liquid intake and transitioning me from drinking only Dr. Pepper to drinking only water all in preparation for the kidney transplant I had no idea was in the future.  This time, HE presented a change in my "spiritual water" using the Psalms, 9 in song form, that I could use for meditation and reflection. (He renews our mind through the washing of the water of the word.)  And, I had gone the "food as medicine" route rather than Doctor prescribed medicine to manage my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms which resulted in an improvement in my nutrition level which, in hindsight led to better health and more energy to manage the schedule HE was about to give me.  I had no idea I was going to be working with a non-profit that provided breakfast to the street people and that my shift would start at 5AM!!  HE did.  I had no idea that HE would present the opportunity to offer housing to 5 young people who had aged out of foster care and were, for different reasons, trying to survive on the streets.  HE did.  I had no idea that I would experience an extended period of chronic insomnia and an irritating skin condition.  HE did.  He knew all these circumstances before I was aware of the possibility of them, and in HIS mercy prepared me physically and spiritually before hand.  Despite these challenges, I can honestly say that "It is well with my soul" and I can rest knowing that "He will never leave me nor forsake me."

In conclusion, I continue to stand in awe of the grace HE's extended to me to trust that we will get to the other side, even though I don't know where that is, or when that is.  And, I can honestly say that roaches no longer carry an "ick" factor for me, although I won't go out of my way to kill them, will probably never apply for a job as an exterminator, and will still wonder why they were allowed to survive the flood!!

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