Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

the Power of Words

I was just thinking about something my dad, Matthew Jackson, used to tell me and my siblings when we were kids.  If we were sick, or had a stomachache, we would complain, "Daddy, my tummy hurts!" and on most occasions he would reply, "Well, tell it to stop!"

At the time I viewed this as my dad being unconcerned with my impending illness (when really it's just his smart-ass way of speaking, and is not out of the norm). But thinking about that today, as an adult, I see it as a very powerful encouragement.

Not to say that all parents should start disregarding their children's symptoms, but, I when I analyze that phrase, "tell it to stop", I realize that even though it wasn't my dad's intention at the time, the very idea of what he is suggesting is very empowering.

Now, when I think back on his "medical advice", I realize just how applicable this command is my life in the matter of spiritual warfare. Many of you reading this may not believe in the idea of spiritual warfare (the forces of heaven and hell battling and thus affecting our physical world), but I believe very strongly in it.  I am aware that the devil moves and plots and schemes constantly, looking for ways to corrupt us, bring us down, shatter our faith. Due to that fact, it is essential and imperative that I also believe that God works, encourages and plans constantly, to build us up in our faith, bring us closer to him, and to protect and empower us with his Holy Spirit.

Recently in my life I have been blessed to be empowered and encouraged in my beliefs by using my faith as a weapon against the enemy in everyday life. This may seem odd to some of you, the idea of verbally commanding evil spirits to quit interfering with my life. But honestly, it is real, and it works.

One example of a situation like this happened several months ago one day when I could not find my ID, I had looked absolutely everywhere, torn my apartment apart, searched in my truck, retraced my steps from my truck to my apartment.  I prayed, "Please, God, help me find it, please!"  I looked everywhere I could think to look, but it was nowhere to be found. I felt distressed, hopeless, and extremely frustrated, and finally I broke down crying on the floor of my closet. I felt like God was not helping me, that he didn't want to help me. I felt helpless. But then an idea came upon me, and I thought, "What if this is exactly what Satan wants? What if he wants me to feel helpless and abandoned, like God doesn't care for me?" and then I got angry, and I literally shouted out in the middle of my closet, "You have no authority here! I bind you in the name of Christ, you may not take my things! You have no authority to steal my property, Satan. In the name of Jesus Christ, give it back!" I know it sounds silly. and I'm sure would have been even sillier to see, but after a few moments I suddenly thought of one more place to look. In my yoga pants. And there it was! I immediately thanked God for helping me, and I knew, that even though it seemed like he wasn't there, that he had helped me after all by making me realize the power of his Holy name, and recognizing when Satan is at work.

Now, I can understand how some people may think, "What's the big deal? she lost her ID, and then she found it, isn't it all just coincidence? Isn't it kind of eccentric to believe that Satan could be behind something as insignificant as losing an ID??" and I used to believe the same thing. But let me share another instance with you where I spoke against the Devil at work.

I was driving home from the chiropractor one late afternoon, and it was a mild, but sunny day in San Diego, and I was in the middle of stop-and-go traffic, when my truck started to overheat. I'd had issues with it overheating before, as I may have told some of my friends who may be reading this, even though the radiator had been replaced immediately after I bought the truck, anyway, the mechanic details aren't entirely revelant so I'm not going to elaborate on them. Anyway, I immediately turned my heat on full blast to try to reduce the heat from the engine, but the temperature didn't go down, so I started to try to get off of the freeway, so that I could pull my truck over and let it cool down, but, in stop-and-go traffic, this was very difficult and I was worried that every second I had the engine on with the temperature gauge nearing the "H" that my engine was closer to melting or being ruined or something. When I was finally able to get off the freeway I pulled over and parked my truck and turned the engine off and let the heat keep blowing, but even after 15 minutes of this the temperature still wouldn't go down. And then I was reminded of part of a book I read, "This Present Darkness" by Frank Peretti, where one of the main characters is driving, on her way to something extremely urgent, and suddenly her engine fails for no reason, while at the same time, although invisible to her, a demon had thrust it's sword into her car's engine, but after being defeated by an angel, her car returns to normal and works again.

And so, I prayed. I prayed for God to help me. and then I exclaimed "In the name of the Holy Spirit of God, I command any evil spirit away from my truck! You are not allowed to tamper with my truck! In the name of Christ, begone!" and sure enough, after about 30 seconds, my temperature gauge dropped suddenly back to the middle.

God gives us authority to defend ourselves against the enemy.  The more we use that authority, the stronger our faith grows, and the less fear we have of evil. :]

Now, I know what some of you might think, "It's crazy to think that the devil is behind every little bad thing that happens to you". But, why is that crazy?  What is so crazy about recognizing that evil is at work in the world? What is crazy about believing that, yes, the Devil is out to get you?

I think it is difficult for some people to realize this, because it is scary. It really is. It's scary to think about. But once you accept it, and have faith that God is sovereign, and good prevails, it's not so scary after all. I find it empowering, actually. Because I know that God has my back.

I refer to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Growing up, my parents didn't like me reading these books because they contained witchcraft. Although that is true, I have found that I grow more knowledgeable and more strong in my relationship with God because of these books and movies. To me, they examplify many valuable theological beliefs.  In "the Order of the Phoenix" there are two very important themes that are played out that I will bring up here.

First, is that throughout the movie, Harry's mind is being frequently riddled with disturbing dreams and eventually visions. After bringing this up to Dumbledore, he begins taking lessons with Professor Snape on training his mind, and strengthening it to protect himself from Voldemort infiltrating his thoughts. Unfortunately, Harry does not succeed in this and Voldemort does, at the end of the movie, use his evil powers to get into Harry's head and set a trap. But, during his training, Professor Snape tells Harry over and over, "Strengthen your mind, guard your emotions! Any memory that the Dark Lork has access to he will use as a weapon against you!" And, isn't that exactly what Satan does? He will use any bad memory, any insecurity, any weakness in our heart that he can find to take us down, to break our spirit, to shatter our faith. 

The other point I want to bring up, is that, throughout the movie, the Ministry of Magic (their government, basically) keeps trying to cover up the fact that Voldemort has returned. The Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, goes to ridiculous lengths to quash any leak of the truth. He insists that Harry and Dumbledore are both crazy and that it's all some sort of notorious scheme to bring him down, his fear makes him paranoid. He is so afraid to accept the truth that he ostracizes both Harry and Dumbledore, and anyone else who tries to convince him.  But that is exactly what Voldemort wants. Voldemort wants everyone to deny his return, that way his only enemies are isolated, cast out, he wants them to be seen as the threat, not him. Here is one of my favorite quotes from the movie:

 Luna Lovegood: [about her father] We believe you, by the way. That He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is back, and you fought him, and the Ministry and the Prophet are conspiring against you and Dumbledore.
Harry Potter: Thanks. Seems you're about the only ones that do.
Luna Lovegood: I don't think that's true. But I suppose that's how he wants you to feel.
Harry Potter: What do you mean?
Luna Lovegood: Well if I were You-Know-Who, I'd want you to feel cut off from everyone else. Because if it's just you alone you're not as much of a threat.

That is exactly why Satan does not want people to believe that he is at work, he wants to keep the truth hidden.

Anyway, those are just a few of the things I think about, and that I love about the movie, and thoughts and ideas and experiences that I wanted to share with you all.

I hope that some of what I've written will help someone, somehow, in their walk with God. :]


Supporting scriptures:

Mark 16:
And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they[b] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

Revelation 12:10
for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

Ephesians 6:11-13:
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Appreciative

Okay, so. I know I haven't posted anything in a really long time, forgive me. I was preoccupied by facebook's new "@" feature for a good 3 months. (Not really, though, it is pretty sweet) ANYWAY. A lot has happened since then and I find myself extremely thankful to God for all of the blessings he has given me in my life right now, challenging and stressful though it may be.

I was recently able to go home to Houston, Texas on leave for a good chunk of time and it was a real great respite for me. I truly indulged in the company of my family and my closest friends and really just soaked up not just the wonderful Houston humidity, but the love of God that I was receiving through my friends and family. I became aware that when visiting home for only a short period of time it is really important to pick and choose carefully whom to spend your time with. And I found myself extremely appreciative that I didn't have to be too scrutinizing. I'm lucky enough to have close friends and family that are all loving, fun, caring, and insightful individuals. I surrounded myself with people that I knew had great love for me, and for God and could therefore encourage and admonish me in my walk with Christ and help me work through the struggles in my life right now in the mostly Christly fashion. :] So I feel my time was very well spent with exactly the right people. I was very persistent to spend as much time as possible with my best friend Sarah, and I have to say the countless hours I spent at Starbucks sitting around reading and surfing the internet and joking with her as she worked were pretty much the highlight of my trip. I love her more than I can say. Also the hours we spent gallivanting at Wal-Mart, or socializing with schizophrenics, or just sitting in my parked truck in an abandoned parking lot talking until four in the morning, were pretty much amazing.

Anyway. I have also become immensely appreciative of several other things that I will briefly mention here; my brother's steadily growing intellect :], Texas (and all that it implies), YouTube-Sarah also made sure to update my YouTube curriculum and showed me the MadTV "Bon Qui Qui at King Burger" video, "Can I have your number" video, the "Job Interview" video, and the now infamous "Huntsville Rapist" video, which is spearheaded my fascination with Antoine Dodson (I ordered a T-Shirt online yesterday :] ). Also I have assembled a comprehensive arsenal of great Christian books that I will list here (which I am reading in order to encourage and assert myself in my current self-chosen stint of celibacy): Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge, I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Josh Harris, and finally, Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot.

Chiropractic, Physical Therapy, and Natural Medecine

Back in June of 2009, I injured my spine by attempting an advanced yoga pose unsupervised (yeah... I know.) and since that day I have had constant pain in the middle of my back. I sought treatment from Navy medical, who initially referred me to a physical therapist on my ship, who then referred me to a massage therapist on my ship, who then referred me back to the physical therapist, who then referred me to a chiropractor at base medical. I saw that chiropractor, maybe, three times before I was deployed with my ship in late July. While on deployment I still complained of terrible pain and stiffness in my upper back, and at first when I went to medical on the ship they gave me Tylenol. Then, a little more perturbed, I demanded that they do an x-ray, because they had referred me to all of those different people without even doing an x-ray, after finally having an x-ray done, they told me that there was nothing wrong with my spine. Although I could see just with my naked eye that my spine was visibly curved to the left, ever so lightly. So I was pretty pissed, but they still didn't do anything but offer me Tylenol, and so I suffered. Unfortunately I was flown off of my ship three months into that deployment to get treatment for a different medical condition that I suppose the Navy found more important than whatever was wrong with my spine. So when back on shore, my back was still hurting, so I tried to make another appointment to see that chiropractor I had been seeing before, when I called they told me that because it had been over thirty days since my last appointment, I had to be "re-referred". And I was like, "Well that's great, because the people who referred me are in BAHRAIN!" Anyway, I gave up on that, and continued to suffer.

Then, one day in early February of 2010, I was browsing Facebook when on of the advertisements on the side of the page caught my eye. "San Diego Woman in pain?" it asked. And I said, "That's me!" I read further and it indicated that you could receive Two free adjustments at this chiropractic clinic. So, on a lark, I clicked the link and found myself on a web page that looked like it had been built by a college kid, but in keeping with my what-the-heck train of thought I filled out the appointment scheduling form and submitted it. To my surprise, the next day I received a friendly phone call from a nice young lady named Roseanna, and I realized that this place, DID, actually exist! And that they were actually going to give me two free adjustments! Quite different from the outcome I had expected, which was more like a bombardment of scam-emails, or an online virus or something.

On February 7th, 2010, I had my first appointment at Seaside Chiropractic. During that first appointment Dr. David Klein did a thorough examination of my spine, as well as my posture, mobility and other ergonomic measurements (such as equal leg length, even shoulder heights, and muscular trigger points), from that examination he recorded twenty-six "objective findings" which is, something Dr. Klein can measure that is bad. The very next day, I was in a car wreck where I crashed head-on into a vehicle that had made an illegal left turn in front of me. I immediately informed the chiropractic office and they told me to come in the next day for another examination. After that examination he found thirty-six objective findings! This included about nine or ten vertebrae in my spine that were out of alignment, as well as about twelve muscular trigger-points that were extremely tense and unbalanced (as in one side of my body would be more tense than the other), which in turn made it convenient for me to have restricted motion in my neck in two different directions, limited movement of my torso (meaning I couldn't twist the trunk of my body in one direction as far as I could in the other direction), my right shoulder to be higher than my left, my right leg shorter than my left, and last but not least, my ilium bones (or, pelvic bones, the ones that support all of your organs) were twisted, the left was twisted forward and the right backward. So, needless to say I felt pretty jacked-up.

Ever since then I've been going to their office 3 times a week to get adjusted and a re-examination of my spine every month to track my progress. Over the time of this treatment I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge, not only about Chiropractic, but about the body in general and its processes and functions that I had, prior to that, taken for granted and had a very weak almost, pitiful understanding of. After being adjusted regularly for a while I noticed that I was able to "pop" many of my own joints on my own, by doing different stretches and, sort of, "self-adjustments" as I call them. I became aware that the real goal of Chiropractic is not simply to "get everything in perfect alignment", because your bones are (hopefully) constantly in some sort of motion and if you have a normal lifestyle consisting of perfunctory motion (walking, standing, sitting) your bones are bound to get out of alignment somehow and it would be a futile goal to attempt to keep all of your bones and joints in perfect alignment all of the time, you'd pretty much have to lay still and never move (and even then, it's no guarantee, I find that I feel the stiffest just after waking up) ANYWAY. My point is, the real goal of Chiropractic, as I have learned, is not to aim for perfect alignment, but instead, to get all of your joints UNSTUCK and moving smoothly again! That's why most people after getting adjusted feel much "looser" and more relaxed, and less "stiff'! Because, after bones have been out of alignment for a long time they eventually start to stick together. (I know, freaky right.) Every joint in your body consists of two (or more) bones that meet and in between those bones (to create ease of movement) is cartilage! (Dun-de-de-DAH!) After enough pressure is applied to a joint that is misaligned or out of alignment, the cartilage will literally form adhesions and eventually (we're talking over years and years) the bones with start to grow together. Gross, right? I've seen pictures, and x-rays of very old peoples' spines who unfortunately had bad posture and bad spinal health (think the little old hunchback ladies that you sometimes see waddling around) and in those x-rays you can actually SEE where their vertebrae started to fuse together! It's sick, man. And you wonder why old people always look so stiff!?

Anyway. There's more. Sometimes when a joint is out of alignment it can pinch on a nerve and thus disrupt communication between your brain and certain parts of the body (depending on where the particular nerve goes to) this is called a subluxation. This happens more commonly with the joints between the vertebrae in your spine, simply because your spinal cord (the bundle of nerves running from your brain down to your sacrum that contains every single nerve that goes through your body) is situated right in the middle of your spine. the nerves then run out through the sides of the vertebrae and go to different parts of your body. What few people know is that if a nerve is being pinched because of a misalignment in your spine it can actually cause a malfunction in the part of the body that that nerve communicates with. For example, let's say your T-5 vertebrae (the middle of your back) is misaligned to the right, it just happens to be misaligned in such a way that it pinches on a nerve going from your spinal cord to your lungs, and it stays misaligned for an extended period of time, because that nerve is being pinched, it disrupts the communication between your brain and your lungs and therefore your lungs are no longer receiving as much oxygen as they need to function at optimum performance. You have developed symptoms of asthma! But who would have known that it had been caused by a misalignment in your spine!?!

Crazy, right? Now, I am not saying that every case of asthma is caused by this. What I am trying to say is this: Because your spine houses the essential bundle of nerves that keeps your entire body functioning properly, spinal health is extremely important! Much more important than I ever knew it could be! And the slightest misalignment in your spine, could, potentially be cause for a plethora of medical issues! This is not always the case though, misaligned bones do not always pinch nerves and they therefore do not become known as "subluxations" until they have done so. But whether or not you have a subluxation or just a misalignment in your spine, the symptoms most people experience across the board are still the same: tension, stiffness, restricted motion of the head, neck, shoulders, back, you-name-it. And unfortunately this is the case with God knows how many people, particularly people who have been through much more damaging physical traumas than I have (imagine; stunt-people, athletes, soldiers fighting in combat zones, etc), and I can't help but wonder, how many people are walking around right now with pain, tension, and numerous other symptoms of various medical conditions (failing eyesight, migraines, arthritis, etc.) and are unaware that it could all possibly be treated and healed by getting adjusted regularly and exercising?

The sad thing is, I think a great deal of people DO have all of these symptoms and go through life with constant pain and they either don't do anything about it, or they go to a doctor and that doctor tells them that they'll have to take such-and-such medication for the rest of their, life or the only fix is surgery, or a "hip-replacement" or something. These people are suffering from not only the pain of bad spinal health, but also from medical bills that aren't actually helping them. Or thousands of dollars wasted on a surgery or complicated procedure on a knee that could have been treated with Physical Therapy and Chiropractic. I am a first-hand witness of the power of Holistic, Natural Medicine, that is, healing that does not include, pills, surgeries, invasive procedures, or bland doctors' offices and cold hands and harsh, metal instruments. I'm talking about real, natural medicine. Healing that comes from doing things such as getting regular adjustments, physical therapy, manual therapy, doing simple stretches everyday, maintaining good posture, having a good exercise routine, practicing yoga, pilates, strength-training, getting deep tissue massages, or acupuncture! (Don't these all sound great?!) It also, in my experience, means, cozily decorated offices, comfortable softly lit exam rooms, and best of all, warm hands!

I am so excited to talk about these things that I have learned from Physical Therapy and from Chiropractic! I'm not saying that all doctors are evil and can never help you become well, but I am saying that there could be a much simpler way of resolving medical problems and achieving good health and it could mean just walking into a Chiropractor's Office! In my personal experience I have finally found what I think could be the root problem of a medical condition that I have had my entire life, and it's so dumbfounding that the solution to it is to do some special stretches everyday! Who would have known that, literally, exercise was the cure all along?! Also, after 7 months of getting adjusted three times a week and beginning a regular exercise routine, I am now proud to say that I've gone from thirty-six objective findings, to six objective findings. And even though I have not reached my optimum health goal yet, I know that I will achieve it if I continue to apply the things I have learned.

I wish I could share what I have learned in the past year with absolutely EVERYONE in the world, because I believe that then the world would be not only a much healthier, but also happier place. Yeah, I know, that's really corny. But I'm so serious. Chiropractic and Physical Therapy have done so much for my health AND my life in general that I can't help but want to share what I know with everybody! I really hope that you didn't get bored with this giant novel of a post and that someone, somewhere, reading this will actually gain some knowledge and as a result, take a more deliberate, motivated course of action to achieve good health. :]