Sorry, this is not part two.  This is a post from this week that I will need to probably come back and read on a daily hourly every second basis for awhile.  I am still planning on going back and finishing the series about the mefloquine mess, just not today.

“Starin' at the walls of our living room
Feelin' so very alone
There is something I'm very sure is true
It's where I live, but it ain't home.
Relationships can come and go
But there is one thing that I know
Though I wish I had a home
I never truly am alone.
I remember, Jesus, one day You said
On the shores of Galilee
'The Son of Man has no place to lay His head'
I feel like You were speaking to me.
Foxes have holes and birds have nests
Other men have families
A place they can call home and find their rest
But what is there for me?
Why be afraid, O ye of little faith?"
You ask me as You calm my storm
I see You dissipate my wind and waves
In You I know I'm safe and warm!
My home is You wherever it might be
And You've prepared a place for me
But until then it still is true
My home is You!”

While listening to Pandora this week I heard this song.  This section of lyrics from the song really put into words what I have been feeling, as well as presented truth to counter the lies I believe on a regular basis.  The first time I read “Foxes have holes and birds have nests/ Other men have families/ A place they can call home and find their rest/ But what is there for me?” I broke down in tears.  Much of my early childhood was spent outdoors where I observed animals in their homes.  I think that for years my spirit has been wrestling with this question, even if consciously I was not aware.  A few days later I was online trying to find the song to listen to again.  I typed in “foxes have holes and birds have nests” and then tears welled up in my eyes all over again.  The first result was Matthew 8:

“Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”-Matthew 8:20

Those lyrics that had touched my heart were based on scripture!  (I know I have read Matthew 8 before, but I must not have been paying careful attention to the words because I did not remember them.)  Reading those words I was filled with guilt and relief.  Guilt for thinking that I was alone, guilt for pettiness, and guilt for not being strong enough to keep from crying every day.  But I was also filled with relief… Jesus knew what I was feeling.  He knows the feeling.  Knowing that was just a tremendous relief. 

Ever since returning from Togo it has been difficult for me to put into words what I am or have been feeling or what is going on inside of me.  It has been frustrating to say the least.  Fortunately I have found relief in the words of others.  Lyrics, poems, and the writings of others has been the key to unlocking what is inside me this time around.  It may be a chapter or just a phrase, but somehow when I read something that resonates with me I am able to put words to the mess inside me.

Being here is a struggle for me.  Every millisecond.  I would rather live in a cardboard box in the streets.  In fact, I have to fight every day not doing just that.  And yes I know that living in the streets has its own set of problems.  And yes I have thought about it….more than you know. 

But today is not the day to leave. 
Today is the day with zero job prospects. 
Today is the day the savings dips lower. 
Today is the day with no visible exit plan. 
Today is the 55th day in a row I will cry myself to sleep. 
Today is the day where my faith is stretched one foot farther. 
Today is the day I have to choose to trust Jesus more than yesterday. 
Today is the day I have to believe he has a plan a plan for good and not for evil.
Today is the day to be still…

“Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still oh restless soul of mine
Bow before the prince of Peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that He has done
Stand in awe and be amazed…
Be still and know He is our Father
Come rest your head upon His breast
Listen to the rhythm of
His unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still
Be still”
-Be Still And Know

Worst Fears: Part I

Before I left for Togo these were my top three fears:

            Top Fear # 1: Becoming mentally ill. 

            Top Fear # 2: Parasitic Worms

            Top Fear # 3: ___________ & having no physical community. 

I know it may not look like your “typical” fear list, but it’s true.  I am more fearful of worms/ parasites then I am of being murdered, getting shot, etc.  Not normal, I know.  And I never said it was a rational fear list.  (Also, just to be clear this fear list is my personal fear list and does not include what I fear for other people…oh and yes I admitted that a lack of physical community is a huge fear of mine.  I am not a technology girl.)

Soon after arriving in Togo my worst fear became a reality.  As a result of the anti-malarial medication I was taking I rapidly developed a variety of mental illness symptoms.  It took a noticeable turn for the worse one night as I lay beneath the mosquito net trying rather desperately to fall asleep. Just as I started to calm down I was suddenly aware of something moving about my room: demon pigs with fangs were flying around my room.  For several minutes I just lay in shock.  I knew that something was not right, but at the same time it seemed so real.

Another night I awoke suddenly convinced that I had been buried alive.  When I am faced with danger or fear I tend to get extremely quiet, which I know is not always good.  So I just laid there thinking “I am in a box surrounded by dirt.  There is no way out.  What should I do?  I wonder how much oxygen I have left?  Will I notice when it runs out or will I just go to sleep?...”  I have no idea how many minutes or hours or seconds this lasted, but eventually my hand brushed up against the “dirt.”  It was the mosquito net. 

During the day there would be many many…. many times where I would be on the roof of the building starring down at the dirt below (and I later found out I was not the first)… Eventually the squeals of children running through the streets would jolt me back to reality. 

About this time I realized I could not put it off any longer someone had to know.  It was already way out of control.  That night in not a lot of words I shared a few things with a staff member and soon an appointment at the local Togolese hospital was scheduled.

That night was tiring.  I was awake the entire night because I kept thinking my left hand had been cut off.  I would pull my left arm towards my face to feel if all my fingers were still there and once they were all accounted for put it back down.  A few seconds later I would be convinced that it had been chopped off again and the process would start all over again.  It lasted all night.  It reminded me of childhood OCD, but combined with paranoia and hallucinations.

At the hospital in Togo the staff member and I were escorted back to his office.  Once there they started talking a mile a minute in French while I sat there convinced the doctor wanted to rip out my appendix.  My thought process being that the Chinese doctors took my friend's so this Togolese doctor must want mine. Needless to say I walked out of there with my appendix and a prescription to “calm” me down.

Well as it turns out my prescription was a drug that is not supposed to be taken with Mefloquine.  Not knowing this I took one as directed only to find the paranoia and fear rise rapidly.  At this time a staff member was sleeping in my room to make sure everything was alright.  My mind was out of control. Seriously out of control. I was very scared. It was so unreal. There was this small part of my brain that was okay. This tiny tiny part knew it was not was an anchor of truth that Jesus had laid in my mind. But this small part was locked away I could not do anything. I felt beyond hopeless. All I did was just lay there like a statue.  That small part of my brain knew that I had not totally flown off my rocker...but the rest of mind was out of control.  I knew that the girl next to me was trying to help me. The truth part of my brain knew that, but it was locked and hidden away. The rest of my brain was going “she has a knife she’s going to kill you.”  And bless Julia who stayed in my room that whole night telling me over and over again that she was not going to kill me and that she did not have a knife. 

Needless to say: hello America.  And a week later I found myself on a plane heading back unsure of what the future held.  To be cont.

And I know that this post and the last one were pretty dark and down, but I promise it gets better.  As Elizabeth Elliott once said "…God's story never ends with 'ashes."'  So if you want to see how God came back into the picture stick around a few posts longer.

40 Days

Document: “…put [information] into some relatively permanent form so that it can be retrieved later.”

Surprise!  I’m back!  Big surprise I know, but seriously I would rather not be writing right now.  Instead I would like to run off … preferably to the mountains and never lay sight on technology again; however, I do not think that is what I am supposed to do.  In September I felt called to document the next season of my life.  At that point in time living in Togo was supposed to be the next season of my life.  So when I returned to the United States I stopped writing publicly. 

After being home for a few weeks I came across a scrap of paper where I had written down this: “document this next season of your life.”  I paused and read it again: “document this next season of your life.”  It did not say document my experiences in Togo, it said document the next season of my life.  By this time my stomach was in knots and my faces mirrored my discomfort.  This “next season” was not pretty.  It was dark and grimy.  But it did not say document the good or the pretty.  It said document the next season.

Another week or two passes and I begin to realize that it is one of those “jump off a super high diving board where you can not go back and you are not sure if you are going to land on water or land because you do not know what is below” moments.  So after much delay I am jumping off.  I am going to document this season.  I am going to try to tell the story in these next set of blog posts.  First, I will begin with a brief summary to set the stage. 

It was undoubtedly the worst experience of my life.  It was a dark dark time.  I felt abandoned by quite a number of people, but more importantly I felt abandoned by God.  Loneliness that had been slowly rising for quite some time skyrocketed to new heights.  At times days and days would go by before I would even see another person.  I shed more tears in those days then I thought possible.  Every day was a desperate fight.  Never in my life had I experienced such intensity of negative emotion.  And yet somehow in the midst of it all God found a way to draw me closer to him.  It is still messy.  It is still dark.  However, there are moments however small where I dare to hope that one day life will change.  And I am still lonely and I still pray all too often that he will physically rescue me from this place, but he hasn’t given up on me yet…at least I don’t think he has…

“Jesus, I've forgotten the words that You have spoken
Promises that burned within my heart have now grown dim…
Forgive me for my unbelief. Renew the fire again”
~Lord Have Mercy