Healing.

This is the story of a miracle many years in the making.

Five years ago I sat in our little yellow car with two young boys outside of the minute clinic. Brad’s ear was pained with infection. One prescription later we were on our way home.

After a week the infection was not resolving so off to a primary care doctor he went. Another prescription in hand, a little stronger, and he was on his way home.

And again he went back, still with pain. “Here, try this one, it’s a little stronger”, they said.

Going to bed one night he told me his face looked off as he was brushing his teeth. I was quick to shake it off until I looked closely in the low light. “That’s weird,” I thought, “it looks like one side of his face isn’t keeping up with the other”.

We feared for a stroke and prayed about what to do. A little internet searching led us to believe that he was experiencing Bell’s Palsy.

He went back to the doctor where he was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, most likely triggered by the massive ear infection his body was fighting. It would resolve on it’s own, but the ear infection required the strongest antibiotic that could be given.

The ear improved, and Brad regained movement of his face (but not before we had family photos taken. What a way to remember this time in our lives!).

A few months later at a book party in the governors mansion Brad spent the entire time vomiting, laying on the cool marble floor of the swanky bathroom.

The only thing we could trace it to was a frappucino he had earlier in the day, something he rarely drank.

Later that year we were due to leave for NYC to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade but Brad had such excruciating pain in his foot the night before we were to leave he had to crawl to the bathroom. In the ER they diagnosed him with plantar fascitis and gave him some anti-inflammatory medicine. The medicine cleared the majority of the pain in a day or two leaving him able to trek the streets of New York.

Over the years dairy began to bother him more. He stopped drinking straight milk, then ice cream, then butter, and then cheese. Eventually, he couldn’t even have baked goods or cooked foods with a small amount of dairy in them. Accidental ingestion caused vomiting and flu like symptoms for a couple of days.

The foot and ankle pain would also reoccur often, something we eventually self-diagnosed as tendonitis. Brad would be laid up for a day or two until the pain and inflammation subsided.

Doctors diagnosed him with this and that but there were never any cures offered, never any hope for healing.

I don’t know why, I imagine it was God, but one day I began searching about the strong antibiotic that he was given.  I found heaps of information about the terrible side effects it can cause right away, and years later as well. The pieces were falling into place: the dairy allergy, the tendonitis, the awful heartburn weren’t random but were all consequences of a class of antibiotics that now come with warning label.

It was good to know why, but the prognosis felt hopeless.  How could this damage ever be reversed?  Would he spend the rest of his life dealing with these chronic symptoms?

We ate dairy free, yet Brad was still often sick or in pain. For a while he worked with a natural health doctor and we significantly changed our diet. Restoring his gut health alleviated a lot of ongoing symptoms, yet it did not completely heal him.

About a year ago God prompted me to start praying for restoration for Brad’s body.  I did pray and over time my prayers gained authority as I witnessed miracles and gained knowledge of who God is and what He will do.

This past December, a bad cold led to bronchitis and another ear infection for Brad. He began to seek natural health supplements, then, through prayer, felt prompted to give this infection to God and trust in His healing only. God was going to heal him, God was going to restore him and we had to be patient and trust.

After many weeks of pain the ear infection healed without the use of antibiotics.

Four weeks ago Brad caught a stomach bug. I had an inkling this was part of the healing process, and later when a friend sent us a picture of Brad receiving healing prayer from our small group I knew it was. He included the words: “I pray today that the prayers we prayed that day were answered.”

He recovered from the stomach flu and my prayer turned from one of healing to one for knowledge. I knew Brad would never willingly try dairy because of how sick it made him, so I prayed when the time came he would accidentally ingest it and have no reaction.

We waited and prayed.

One Sunday our friends had us over for a pizza party. There were two salads, one with goat cheese and one without for Brad. Well, Brad missed that memo, thought the goat cheese was cauliflower and accidentally ingested it! We prayed that there would be no reaction and for total healing.

He had no reaction, no vomiting, no cramping!  Completely and totally fine.

Brad has had no reaction from kefir, butter, or yogurt. Two nights ago he drank a few ounces of fresh cow’s milk and we woke up in the morning amazed at his health and God’s fulfilled promise.

All glory to God!  Praise him for his miraculous work in our lives!

Photo dump

Yesterday and today were shitty days.

As the days wore on it felt like one rock after another was piled onto my back until I was slumped over and sad.

But! The story gets better, it gets better because I have friends who at the drop of my hat will pray for me and my shitty day. And not just say they will pray, but literally stop working and pray to God for my life, and then take the time to send me eight minute long voxes with words that the Spirit gave them through prayer.

I am so blessed.

Then I spent time looking through pictures from the last 3 months because I took nearly 2000 photos that needed edited.

To look through these moments, many already forgotten about, and to see a good life is pure joy. For that brief moment a shutter opens to capture light and darkness and shows it is good.

A miracle

The first undeniable, instantaneous miracle I saw was in June 2015.

I had met a guy named Wade a few months earlier when we moved to Zanesville. He claimed to be seeing miracles regularly while praying for people on the streets of Zanesville, and he invited me to come out with him.

That first day I went with Wade to pray for people, we met a woman named Michelle down at the thrift store. She was shopping, and Wade believed that God told him this random woman had one leg which was shorter than the other.

When Wade approached her, this stranger, and asked her if this was true, she nodded. Surprised that he would know this, she sat down in a chair, and held her legs up. Her right leg was about 3/8” shorter than her left leg, the heels of her shoes just didn’t match up. She explained that she was an Iraq war veteran, and had been in an accident which shattered her right leg. When the army surgeons pieced her back together, her reassembled leg was just a little bit shorter than it used to be, it was part of her diagnosis.

Michelle allowed us to pray. So we prayed for her in the name of Jesus, who is our rescuer and the one and only son of the real God. 30 seconds later Michelle’s legs were the same length. She said that she couldn’t describe the feeling, but that it was amazing and she could tell it was all better. And her legs, which were visibly different lengths before, were now perfectly identical. The heels of her outstretched legs matched up perfectly.

When Michelle experienced God in this way and saw His power, she cried. She opened up about so many ways that she had been hurt and abandoned by different people, and had walked away from her faith in God. And we prayed more for her, and God healed her emotionally in some big ways, but also started what I’m certain is a long and arduous battle for her trust.

In 2008, my wife Melissa and I set out to find God. The God we read out about in the Bible just didn’t seem to match up with the Christian culture we saw around us. So we threw it all out. We quit our professional corporate jobs, we sold everything we owned, we left our home and moved into a van.
Over the past ten years, God has showed up. He has rebuilt our lives based on what is true—he has restored some of the old things we threw out, left lots of it in the trash, and taught us so much more. Through all of our own mistakes and arrogance and humanness, God has been faithful to honor our earnest seeking.

And since that day in 2015, we have witnessed hundreds of miracles, and performed dozens. Some big, some small, but all obviously God and unexplainable without Him.
God is real. And we have found him. I just have to tell you. I’m sorry for not telling you sooner.

I don’t have it all figured out. Most of your questions about the hows and whys of where and when God works miraculously I can’t answer. But we can invite Jesus to show you his power and to fill you with His peace, and we can celebrate as all of those aching, burning questions which have answers beyond our human understanding melt away.

This is an invitation to give Jesus a chance. Maybe you already have a relationship with God, but you’ve never seen Him move in this way. Maybe you’ve been hurt by “Christians,” or in times that God didn’t show up. Maybe you’ve been hurt by me. Maybe this is all new, and you didn’t know that anyone actually saw and believed things like this. Get in touch with me, I don’t have any convincing arguments, but I’d love to pray with you, and to ask God to reveal himself to you, if He’s real.

Jesus is my friend. He’s really real, and it’s the most amazing thing. You have to meet him.

Backs and Babies

I just started putting the baby on my back. I celebrate this milestone that allows me to bend over again.

A baby on the back reminds me of the first summer here in this spacious place, carting Sol around while we learned to tend animals.

It’s hard to believe we’ve cared for two babies in this place now, but not harder than believing I have four children. Others have shared a similar sentiment and the surprise over how my life has turned out is often written in the fine lines of a friend’s face. I don’t blame them, this wild, free, chaotic life is not something I could have imagined.

Today I saw a picture from when we only had one son. A time when we thought we would only have one son, that we were a one and done kind of people like my parents and grandparents before me. Generational only-childness.

I think back to some of my happiest childhood memories spent with my best friend and her siblings. I loved her house, it was loud and full of life. My house was quiet, dull, and often lonely.

I should have known this is the course I would subconsciously crave.

Naturally, as I’m talking about a loud life the baby woke up and as I went in to do my signature bounce/sway back to sleep I felt extremely privileged to hold this entire body in my hands and care for her with the depth of my love. I don’t often feel this way, especially about a waking child at night.

Lately I’ve been having these amazing experiences with God. There’s been these moments of clarity in which I’ve felt more in tuned with His will and Spirit than ever before and it’s incredible. Then the feelings go away for a couple of weeks and I worry I’ll never feel them again. It feels so good that I never want that communion to cease. I want to greedily hold onto it forever and ever, and then I remember that is what Heaven will be and I relax a little. I am so grateful that we get to touch His kingdom here on earth.

I have such a hard time ending these posts because I don’t have a point or a clear line of thought. It’s a rambling bunch of thoughts that come to me as I’m typing. I do pray that God lead me before every one of these posts and, while I don’t think every word is divinely inspired, I can feel his gentle presence with me as I write. I pray that others feel pushed outside of the “normal” realm of worship and prayer, and are inspired by how wide and deep God’s kingdom is. These writings are extremely cathartic to me and give me great joy.

What are the things that give you a feeling of great joy deep within your chest? Dive in.

Solar Dye

The boys and I have been experimenting with plant dyeing the past couple of weeks.  We left butternut hulls, chestnut hulls and goldenrod in the sun for a couple of days, strained and then left some fabric swatches in the solution for another couple of days and found these gorgeous colors emerge.

I will be doing a big pot of butternut hulls soon because that olive green is amazing.

Dreaming.

I wanted to eat at The Bridge for lunch today.

A wave of heavy grief rolled in. Sadness that it’s over, relief that it’s over.

Over the past year I’ve slowly shed parts of my former life. I told myself that homesteading wasn’t important, that vacations weren’t for us, that sewing and the creative life aren’t necessary.  We had to be able to do The Bridge with all our hearts.

But, I am beginning to realize some of these things are important, and are us. The values of tending the land and of creating new things are integral for our family and community.

It has left me picking up the pieces of a shattered former life and trying to figure out what sticks. I am not the same person I was a year ago. I am stronger.

Dreaming. It’s exciting.

Cleanliness.

A couple of summers ago I sat outdoors, nursing a baby at The Wilds, while my family puttered around the gift shop.

A middle-aged woman at the table next to me engaged in discussion with a younger couple, probably her children, about how another woman kept house.

“She doesn’t even keep her stove clean.  I clean my stove every time I use it, I deep clean each burner every week, you know, that’s what you’ve gotta do to keep it clean.  I just don’t know what to do with her.”  On and on this lady described the shortcomings of another’s housekeeping and how angry that made her.

How, with an amazing view of God’s glorious and beautiful land right in front of her, could she be spewing such hate?  Did she even notice the rolling hills and blue skies?

I wondered if this is how everyone else feels, because I certainly do not wipe my stove every time I use it and do I ever really scrub those burners?

Today a friend was telling me how dirty her house was.  I could see the look of despair in her eyes, of realization that she can never get it as clean as she would like.  She’s a new mother, an amazing one, and she reminds me of the early days of motherhood when suddenly I cared about keeping the house clean but no longer had the time or energy to do so.

“Sometimes I look at the big beautiful houses around the park, and instead of admiring their architecture or gardens, I think about how clean they probably are inside,” she told me.

Your house says a lot about you, but it doesn’t say everything about you.

My favorite houses are those that let me in, no matter what lies behind the door.  They don’t clean up for me, cover the holes in the walls or the dishes in the sink.  They say, “Come on, come in, we’re so happy to see you.”

One of my best friends is an inviter, quick to have me over even though her house is just as chaotic as mine; full of noise, kids, animals and toys spewed about.

What I see is exactly that, fullness.  She has a life full of love, friendship, andfamily and she spends her days giving herself to others instead of worrying her house will get dirty.

Brad told me that he likes when I visit her because I come home relaxed.  She’s not a poor housekeeper, in fact she has white couches and small kids (crazy, right?!), but she’s doesn’t try to hide the fact that messes are made and things get broken.  Her honesty and openness encourages me to present a more humble and honest view of myself to others, knowing that my warts can help others to feel more comfortable with their own difficulties.

A few years ago, we were watching fireworks in a church parking lot.  We met a family with two little boys that took a liking to Theo and while we chatted with their parents they ended up playing in our van.

One of the boys, about four, boldly told me my van was a mess and I should clean it. Annoyed and defensive (I’m an adult, I don’t have to clean it) I stammered something about knowing that it was a mess and we should clean it.

Did a four year old just call me out?  Did it make me feel bad?  His observation bothered me for a while until it occurred to me there was probably a lot of pressure placed on cleanliness in his household.  I thought, I would rather have old french fries in the crevices of my van than children that point out other’s dirt.

A clean house can probably be fun, but I know for sure that a messy one is.