Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my anxious thoughts! And see if there be any offensive way in me, and lead me in your way everlasting. Ps 139:23-24

DSCN0948David cried this out to God, knowing the trap of sin and guilt from his past choices. By God’s own account, David chased after His heart through notable victories, yet he also experienced the misery of defeat when following his own. And, even still, he knew where to turn when he found himself in the depths of despair.

The obvious favor that followed David is well recorded in the Old Testament. From being the shepherd boy with enough faith to stand against and defeat the most feared Philistine—a giant named Goliath, with a mere sling-shot and stone. [1Sam 17] To his success as the leader of Saul’s army, defeating tens of thousands in the battlefield [1 Sam 18]. David was granted a handsome appearance, musical talents, gifts of writing and ultimately becoming King of Israel [2 Sam 5].

But, amid all of the favor, David’s choices apart from God led him into the depths of despair. From a failed teen marriage to King Saul’s daughter that resulted in him running for his life from Saul [1 Sam 18]. He also acquired multiple wives and concubines, possibly under pressure to conform to the worldly kingdoms surrounding him, going against God’s revealed will [Deut 17:16-17]. And, lest we forget, he took another man’s wife while he was at war, conceived a child, and murdered her husband to hide his sin [2 Sam 11]. Even though David wanted to please God, he entertained lust. From the Psalms, we glean that David knew where the path to destruction started. In his heart.

This leads me to ponder fasting in a different way. In addition to giving up a certain food, or social networking, or television, or whatever may control your appetite or your time, consider the things we entertain in our heart. This broadens the territory to consider. What’s a part of me that is apart from God? And, what’s the origin in the heart?

Here are some possibilities to consider:

1] Taking offense – Do you find yourself easily offended? Pause when an offense begins to rise up. Ask God to reveal the deeper source. Connect the dots back to the start of the wound, and allow him to heal it.

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph 4:2-3

2] Unforgiveness— Are you in a position where the transgressions against you have surpassed the 490 mark with someone [Matt 18:22]? Then let’s count our transgressions against God. Our number would be far greater. We are all depraved, yet Grace appeared on the cross, sank into the depths of hell to take the keys of bondage away, so we can live the resurrected life in Him. Forgiveness doesn’t condone the transgression. Forgiveness opens the path for God’s love to flow and cause a change in ourselves. Chose to forgive with no expectations from the transgressor, and live free of the bondage that unforgiveness shackles our soul.

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matt 6:14

3] Seeking approval of man instead of God –  Do you find yourself compromising what you know to be right and true just to fit in with a crowd—even a Christian crowd? Is there fear in being ostracized by standing firm to what God has called you to do? Stop, and ask God for direction.  Trust his instruction and where it leads, even if it’s you standing alone—with God.

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Gal 1:10

970340_10201415328409147_1897869776_n4] The need to be right – If you find yourself consistently on the side of proving a point to others, even valid points, ask God to search for the wounds that yell out, “You are inadequate!” Do not entertain the lies anymore. Instead, actively entertain “truth” from God’s Word. Start each day in front of a mirror, and speak truth into your own soul. Ask God to change your beliefs about who you are. Rest in not being right all of the time. Rest, knowing that the One who is omniscient knows the truth even if no one else does. Rest in His validation alone. [Rom 3:24, Rom 6:6, John 15:15, 1 Cor 1:30, 1 Cor 6:19, 2 Cor 5:17]

What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. Luke 12:6-7

5] Worry & Anxiety – Are you in the habit of worry and anxiety? If so, take your worrisome thoughts captive, and compare them to the Truth of God. [2 Cor 10:5] Your first course of action when trouble comes needs to be faith. Consider the worst case scenario, and then consider God. He is far greater than the worse consequence that you can imagine. Stand on the Truth that God’s hand is on your life, and His perfect will is, well—perfect. When you walk in this Truth, His Spirit flows from you, from your life. Break this habit, and live free from the bondage of disbelief.

 Peace I  leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to  you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

6] Complaining –Consider Jesus. He, of all who walked the earth, had reason to complain. He would die a terrible death on a cross for sins that didn’t belong to him. Yet, with each step, he chose to speak gratitude towards God. When you find yourself reaping the consequences of another person’s sin, ask God for His perspective. Then chose to offer God praise, in spite of the discomfort, the injustice, the ___ [whatever fills in your blank]. God’s grace is woven into it all, and He is using each consequence to mold us and make us into a vessel for Him. He sacrificed his life. We can sacrifice our praise.

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.  Heb 13:15DSCN0996

7] Praying from emotions versus faith – God responds to our faith, not our emotions. He responds to our trust in Him. This has been a profound revelation for me this year. I’ve entertained self-pity while begging at God’s feet more times than I’d care to admit. Yet, when I look back on answered prayers in my life, even amid the moments of being an emotional mess, it’s been through prayers of faith in who God is, when he has responded near immediately. As you approach God’s altar with a request, it’s okay to let him know how you feel. He already knows, but check the position that you are praying from. Are you standing on the foundation of faith in Him? Or, on how you feel? God’s word doesn’t say that you can move mountains with a river of tears, but through faith the size of a mustard seed. [Matt 21:21]

And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.  Heb 10:38

This list if far from complete. Ask God to search your heart, and reveal habits, reactions, personality traits that slip out in vulnerable situations? Something that God wants you to give up so that more of Him can flow to those who cross your path. Food or activities or addictions are simply a symptom of what’s rotting inside of us. Something that needs to be cut from the vine, so that more of your heart can be resurrected from the dead—making room for more of God, producing more fruit from Him.

 

Gcinile's gogo's homestead

Gcinile’s gogo’s homestead

“I have been sponsoring a child in Africa for years. I still sponsor her … through Mission of Mercy. Is that now Children’s Cup? Her name is Gcinile N__. See if you can find her.”—This message came via text message from my friend, Patty, back in America. She’d just gone through some papers and found the most recent picture of Gcinile, and had that “ah ha” moment.

Swaziland, Africa had been my temporary home for a month at that point. I’d traveled there for Children’s Cup [CC] to serve for a few months. God had opened a way for me to experience the work that Children’s Cup is doing for the vulnerable and oppressed children in a land overwhelmed by HIV/AIDS orphans and poverty. It was at this perfect time that Patty made this connection.

Like most Americans—including myself not that long ago, the cultures and struggles of this continent blend together collectively as “Africa.” Most of us rarely make a distinction between the borders of over fifty unique countries and populations. Yet, as massive in size as Africa really is, it became awfully small, in a God way, that very day.

I’d received Patty’s message as I left the cottage to go on a hike with friends. One, Tamara, just “happened” to be the person who oversees the child sponsorship program in Swaziland for Children’s Cup, which also includes One Child Matters [formerly known as Mission of Mercy]. I knew immediately that God had set up this divine “coincidence” long before He commissioned me to, “Go … to Swaziland,” for such a time as this.

The kitchen at Gcinile's CarePoint in Swaziland

The kitchen at Gcinile’s CarePoint in Swaziland

Upon our first day back at the office in Mbabane, I had the location of Gnicile’s CarePoint. These are the designated places where food is prepared for the sponsored children by volunteer cooks from the community. Facilitators hold preschool and Bible studies here, and arrange for sick children to see the mobile medical team every six weeks. Within a few days, I learned that Gnicile had lost her mom 18 months earlier, and her father had passed away six years before. This is an all too familiar plight of the children in a country where UNICEF claims that 26% of the entire population are HIV positive. It’s believed to infect nearly 50% of the population, including the children, and has effectively wiped out the current parental generation, leaving many children to fend for themselves. Yet, Gcinile is one of the blessed ones. She lives with her grandmother/gogo who adores her. Most of the orphans are at the mercy of their community, each other, or the streets.

Goodies for Gcinile

Goodies for Gcinile

Just prior to our day trip to meet Gcinile, we went shopping. Patty asked me to find out her needs and buy them—a blanket, shoes, socks, school uniform, pants, shirt, sweatshirt, etc. And, knowing how precious chocolate and random knick-knacks are to the children, I sprinkled in the extras. Items taken so for granted in America that are a treasure to the children in Africa.

Words can’t describe how much joy filled my heart as we drove a mere two hours to bless this child and make the connection. One that began continents, oceans, hemispheres apart, nearly ten years earlier. And, we planned the visit on the day of her Bible Camp to observe this annual event. Since I’d arrived in Swaziland, I’d witnessed the dedication, prayer and hard work of the Discipleship Team. They had 21 CarePoints, representing thousands of children, to serve through camps across this small country.

Gcinile hopscotching while learning a bible verse

Gcinile hopscotching while learning a bible verse

As a spectator, I watched as Gcinile memorized a Bible verse while playing a game with her peers, missionaries, and interns from the Global Leadership Academy. Though I didn’t know her, her timid reactions lead me to believe that she knew I was the white stranger who came to meet her. The camp ended with a dance off between the young and the old. And when one of the volunteer cooks took a turn dancing, I videoed this colorful experience as the children cheered her on.

With Gcinile's gogo at the CarePoint where she volunteers to cook for the children

With Gcinile’s gogo at the CarePoint where she volunteers to cook for the children

After the festivities, I met Gcinile and her grandmother/gogo. Her gogo volunteers as a cook for the CarePoint five days a week. I knew Gcinile was in good care. As I walked alongside of Gcinile down her rutted dirt road, I noticed holes worn through her thin flip-flops. Her heels hit pebbles and dirt with each step. I smiled, knowing that she’d soon receive two new pairs of shoes, and some socks! Winter was on its way. With no electricity or heat, the jeans and sweatshirt would be more than just an addition to her wardrobe. They would be needed to keep her warm.

Jennifer helping Gcinile unpack her gift

Jennifer helping Gcinile unpack her gift

Gcinile stood at the only door to her one room house. She slowly unpacked the gift bag with little expression. Children in Swaziland are not used to receiving gifts. They do not always know how to respond. Yet, when she saw the pink zip up sweatshirt with a heart and LOVE across the front, her face lit up! This moment drove home how similar girls are across the glove. Pink, LOVE and hearts all speak to our souls, no matter the language barrier or where we call our home. Girls are GIRLS all the same.

Before I left, Gcinile said, “Tell your friend thank you for all of these things. I will continue to pray for her and ask the Lord to bless her more.”

Her smile says it ALL!

Her smile says it ALL!

Unspeakable joy filled my heart. To be the conduit between my friend in America and her sponsored child made my whole time in Africa complete. No other experience brought me more fulfillment and joy than this moment. Patty, like most who contemplate or follow-through with sponsoring a child in the different country, had fleeting thoughts through the years. Does the money that I send truly reach the child I chose from a board of hundreds of faces? Does she really exist on the other side of the world? Patty gave in faith, and the fruit of her giving was revealed through my trip to Swaziland.

“‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matt 25:45

More smiles...

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut 31:6

When I got back to the cottage that night, I reviewed the photos taken, as well as the videos. As I watched the clip of the dance off, I sat in awe of God as I realized that it was Gcinile’s gogo who I’d captured dancing for the crowd. God let me know that this encounter was arranged by His hand, long before I found Gcinile in “Africa.” I stay in AWE!

Go here to see Gcinile’s gogo dancing!

If you’d like to sponsor a child, visit Children’s Cup or One Child Matters, and KNOW that your support reaches a child just like Gcinile!

 

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Tongogara Refuge Camp–Clothing Distribution in Zimbabwe

By Jennifer L Griffith

Rachel looked down into a valley from her sister’s house. Living on a hillside in Zimbabwe, she could see the Tongogara Refuge Camp about a mile away. The Mozambicans sought a safe haven as civil war raged through their own country. But at age eleven, Rachel fought a war of her own. She’d left her father’s home of neglect only to find herself in another. Her older sister promised to take care of her and let her attend school. Instead, Rachel was secluded, hungry, and responsible for keeping the baboons out of their food. The camp had captured Rachel’s curiosity, but her sister forbade her to go because it was for Mozambicans. Not people of her own.

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Rachel

But desperation had a stronger pull than her sister’s restrictions. Rachel snuck out of the house and down the hill, barefooted, wearing nothing but tattered clothes. She hungered not only for food, but for protection. For community and someone to simply care.

Rachel entered the camp and walked through a sea of people. She saw families clinging together, and yearned to be cherished by her own. As people passed around her, she spotted a white man wearing a safari hat walking toward her. Fear rose up inside. She’d never stood close to a white person before, and this man was a “giant.” Rachel tried to run around him. Instead, she ran right into him.

The small girl cowered, expecting he would scold her for such a mishap. On the contrary, he wrapped his arms around her, giving her the first hug of her life. He said something to her, but when he let her go, she ran away, confused by such kindness from another person.

As life with her sister grew progressively worse, Rachel continued to escape to Tongogara. Yet, the giant white man had not returned, though deep inside she hoped he would. By winter, the camp had become more than a safe haven for just the Mozambicans, but also for Rachel and other children from her community. A common desperation led them all to the same place, just from different wars.

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Tongogara Refuge Camp Clothing Distribution

By winter, Rachel saw a white van return to Tongogara. She wondered if the white man who’d hugged her had come back. She ran barefooted back to the camp, shivering in the cold. The man had returned, and she caught his eye again. He approached her, but this time she didn’t run. He offered her a coat and shoes, and poured her a cup of hot tea from a thermos. As steam rose up from the cup, she thought it was magic and wondered if this larger-than-life man was really an angel.

Snuggled warm in her new coat with her feet now protected from the elements, and filled with more hope than ever, Rachel hiked back up the hillside home. But her sister took away her coat and shoes. She accused her of gaining disrespectful favor to receive such gifts. Her sister sent her back to her parents due to her rebellion. Rachel knew that her sister had taken her physical gifts, but could never diminish the touch she’d felt she received from God through the giant white man wearing a safari hat. And little did she know at the time, their spirits would cross again.

When Rachel returned to her parents home, she was thankful to go back to school, even if wearing a uniform held together by multicolored patches. But her father told her she needed to find a husband rather than go to school. She spiraled into rebellion and into the arms of an older man who promised to marry her. Instead, he left her pregnant and in shame, hiding her pregnancy until she gave birth. Her father’s words, “Even if you die, you are not my daughter. I disown you. I don’t want to see you,” sent her into the streets. A year later, her daughter was taken from her by her family. And men, including her father, had proven to be unreliable, unforgiving, and ruthless.

Rachel went to work for the sugar cane industry where God placed someone in her life who lead her to Christ. After sharing her testimony of rising above hardship at a church, a man and his wife offered her a place to live with them in Zimbabwe. They needed help with their growing family. When this offer came more than once in 2000, Rachel move in with them. As part of their family, she experienced the unconditional love and acceptance she hungered for. Later, she moved with them to Mozambique, and while working on her college degree 2007, she was prompted to check her HIV status. She told herself that she would only shed tears [of joy] if she was “negative.” When she learned that she was “positive,” she turned to Jesus. She changed her degree to Applied Psychology for HIV, and Rachel chose to help others thrive, not drown in self-pity. God then prompted her to share this news with her estranged father in Zimbabwe. He cried and asked for forgiveness. Their relationship then started on the road to healing and restoration, where it remains today.

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Rachel with mentors, Jerry & Karen Holte, at Global Leadership Academy 2011

God’s path eventually lead Rachel to Healing Place Church—Swaziland. She sat under the guidance of then pastor and Children’s Cup  director, Ben Rodgers and his wife, Susan. Both mentored Rachel, and encouraged her to enroll and live at the newly completed Global Leadership Academy in 2011. While there, she was given a book written by the co-founder of Children’s Cup, Dave Ohlerking titled, Walk With Me: Through some hard places of the world. As she read of Dave’s mission work at Tongogara, she realized the identity of the man who showed her the agape love when she was just a little girl. The “giant white man wearing a safari hat” was not only the founder of the very organization, which molded her life at GLA, but he was the father of Susan Rodgers. A lady who had nurtured God’s amazing grace in her life in Swaziland.

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Rachel working with the mobile medical team in rural Swaziland — Section 19

Rachel was never able to thank “the giant white man wearing a safari hat” on earth. Dave Ohlerking went to be with Jesus the day after Rachel helped Susan prepare for her parent’s return to Swaziland in October 2010. But she is forever connected to him through the eternal promise of God. Rachel is just one of thousands of lives touched by the giant heart of the man who said, “You can change a child’s life forever.” This is evident in Rachel’s life. She is currently the HIV Counselor for the Children’s Cup Medical Team. Her vibrant spirit now impacts the oppressed and vulnerable children of Swaziland, giving back what was gifted to her over twenty years earlier—Hope, whose name is definitely Jesus!

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Dave & Jean Ohlerking at Tongogara Refuge Camp in Zimbabwe

“Hope’s name is Jesus.”

Dave Ohlerking, founder of Children’s Cup

Serving the oppressed and vulnerable populations of Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland & Zimbabwe in southern Africa.

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Rachel & Jennifer at Children’s Cup in Swaziland 2013

I was blessed to have spent several weeks alongside of Rachel during my time in Swaziland. She is rich in spirit and soul, and lives her life to serve. I am honored to call her friend! I look forward to seeing her again… one day!

B&W Cambodia children

First posted on Inspire a Fire Mar 29, 2012. Update follows…

The thought of going to Cambodia had never crossed Millie Carson’s mind. While seeking God’s will for her life in January 2011, a friend suggested that she go to this third world kingdom in Southeast Asia for a few months. Millie had recently finished several semesters of Calvary Chapel Bible College in her homeland of York, United Kingdom, and also in California in the USA. Being more inclined toward traveling, mountains, cowboys, rodeos, snowboarding, a great cup of coffee, and forests, the thought of going to the jungles of Cambodia made her laugh. Yet Millie remained open to God’s purpose on her life. She promised her friend that she would pray about it.

Cambodia on tree 2

Photo by Captured by Compassion — Casey Arneson

That night God sparked an interest in Millie’s nineteen-year-old mind for Cambodia and its people. She told God that the idea sounded ridiculous, but if He provided the funds for this mission, she would go. The following day she learned that her recently deceased grandmother had left her some money. Millie had four months of financial provisions, and had determined to obey God’s call. By May, Millie had joined Calvary Chapel’s ministry called Water of Life in Phom Penh. This ministry supports a boys discipleship home (ages 12-25yrs), girls house (ages 12-25yrs), an orphanage (2-18yrs), and numerous other outreach opportunities.

Millie spent the first few months at the girls house. She did anything that came up—village medical outreach, bible studies, or taking out the trash. While thankful to serve the Lord in this capacity, she felt she could leave Cambodia or stay. Millie felt no real tug on her heart in either direction. But the tug started inside of her during her final planned month. She began to spend time with the children at the orphanage, the Children of Hope.  This orphanage is home to no more than thirty children at a time. They were abandoned, rescued, or lost their parent. Most are nontraditional orphans who simply need someone to love them, care for them, and teach them about the love of Jesus Christ, as opposed to selling them in the thriving sex-trade industry.

Millie and baby

For the love of God

At the end of her four month commitment, Millie had planned to return home to York, yet she now yearned to stay. God had captured her heart through the children of Cambodia. She sought the Lord, and heard Him say, “Go home, get rid of everything you don’t need, and come back December 6th.”

Knowing that God had so much more for her with the children, Millie obeyed. She made a two-year commitment to Cambodia and Water of Life, yet now she can’t imagine doing anything else.

In Millie’s own words, “The biggest thing I have learned by being in the mission field is this: When you have given up all that you possibly can of mind, body and spirit, when your heart is worn out and broken, and you have nothing left to give…give some more, because the only thing you will have left to give is Jesus and Him alone. That sounds backwards, but we are called to turn the world upside-down, and that requires giving all that we have, and then giving more. With God all things are possible.”

A place that had rarely crossed Millie’s mind a year earlier, now crosses her heart with the passion of Jesus Christ.

Children at the dump

Children at the dump

Update Oct 11, 2013

Since this article was first posted, Millie returned to Cambodia for the long haul. She has taken in three children whose parents planned to take them to Thailand for them to work in a factory to help pay off an enormous gambling debt. The girls are 16 and 13, and their brother is 3. They now live under Millie’s love and care in the city, Phnom Penh. God is leading the way for Millie to move her ministry into a rural area. She has purchased land with another lady from Cambodia who shares the same heart and mission: to create a self-sustaining ministry by growing their own food to eat and sell, and then open a small educational center for children in the area, directing them toward the call of Jesus on their lives. If you feel compelled to help Millie through prayer or financial support, please contact her through her blog, Seven Thousand Miles.

Rady

Giving hope to wounded and vulnerable children of Cambodia

By Jennifer L Griffith

Captain-Arie-193x300The first time I’d heard the name Arie Dirk Bestebreurtje, JD came from his beloved sister, Hendrika “Hennie” Cantwell, MD. I’d met Hennie and her husband Bill while on a ski vacation in 1998. After I moved to Teton Valley two years later, the Cantwells became cherished friends and my surrogate parents. During one of my numerous stays with them, Hennie shared coffee, something sweet, and stories of her brother, who ironically died doing something he loved—ice skating.

The irony of how “Captain Harry” died comes from how he lived. Especially during his time in World War II. During the war he served multiple allied governments as a Dutchman. Through the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Arie was assigned to the American command unit called the 82nd Airborne in Operation Market Garden. Under British Command he was part of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) for the Special Forces Head  Quarters. And he received orders from Prince Bernhard and Dutch Intelligence where he served as “Captain Harry.” Arie’s importance to the Allied Forces cannot be overstated, and by the end of the war, Arie had received eighteen international decorations—second only to General Dwight D Eisenhower. This meant he took risks and saved many lives.

Many suspect that Captain Harry should’ve been awarded more medals, but the Dutch government had a 50 year secrecy cap on war intelligence in order to protect those who helped the underground efforts. What is known is that Arie spent war time behind German lines as a cloak and dagger spy under the elite Jedburghs (Jeds). During that time he survived two serious injuries, was shot three times during Operation Market Garden, was arrested and captured by Germans, and he escaped twice. Yet during the mission that impacted his life the most, he merely broke his ankle, and had no food or water for two to three days.

Arie-after-landing-Sept-17-1944After countless operations as a spy behind enemy lines during two missions with Team Clarence, and Team Stanley II in Operation Market Garden, the Dutch Intelligent Force asked Arie to do one more mission. This one would be of a humanitarian nature. Team Dicing would attempt to neutralize a Dutch concentration camp near the village of Westerbork in early April of 1945.  The advancing Canadian allies would then liberate the camp. The operation needed a Dutchman with his skills to guide them. At the last minute, Prince Bernhard put Captain Harry on the team. The Dutch Lieutenant on the team was a liaison to the Prince, but was not experienced with combat operations behind enemy lines.

Kamp Westerbork held captive 400 Dutch Nationals and around 500 Jews. The allies wanted them freed. If troops even came close to the camp during war time, the Germans killed the prisoners. Team Dicing feared that a planned invasion by the Canadian Allied forces from the north would push the Germans to kill all of the prisoners at Westerbork. Arie said in a speech in 1957, “There were no books written on how to liberate  concentration camps.” And the timing of this mission was crucial.

The four members of Arie’s Jed unit were assigned to fly with the SAS forces who were part of the mission Amherst. They planned to parachute together near the parameter of Westerbork. This SAS team consisted of thirteen members of the Special Forces from France  and Belgium, but had different ordersAnother Jed unit called Team Gamble had dropped a day earlier.

Team-Clarence-Arie-221x300On the night of the mission, Team Dicing and Amherst had many uncontrollable factors going against them: a foggy night, an unfamiliar airplane, time sensitive window, and new gear called a Leg Bag. [photo to left] This bag proved to be the biggest hindrance of the mission. The paratroopers would have to jump through the “Joe Hole” cut in the belly of the British Short Sterling Bomber instead of a door, with the Leg Bag. When Arie jumped  through the awkward portal, the rope from his 100 pound bag wrapped around his neck. As he fell through the air, he had to free himself. This cost him valuable preparation time to land in this 600 foot altitude start drop. The bag slammed Arie to the ground. The rest of the men landed scattered and off target due to the clumsy bags and portal jump as well. This jump delay made the “stick” too long.

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Note: One person had heard Arie say they dropped from 600 feet, and he said, “That is impossible. You have to jump much higher.” The Jeds first  learned to jump from a 300 foot tower, and Team Dicing did not practice with the Leg Bags. They had to drop at low altitudes since the  plane would pretend it was in trouble and turn back over the target. The low altitude also kept the stick tight, and allowed the reception partitions to grab them and hid them when they were used.–John Beach

On the ground and in the dark, Arie detached himself from his chute and gear. As the team guide, he had to locate the other two officers and radio Sargent. When he tried to stand, he realized he couldn’t walk. He’d broken his ankle when he hit the ground.

As gunshots filled the air, Arie crawled for cover. He feared members of his team were killed or captured. Fellow Jed member, Major Harcourt found Arie. When he discovered that Arie was unable to walk, Harcourt located a tree to hide him under, and then went to find the rest of the team.

The morning sun rose, and neither Harcourt nor any other Jed had returned for Arie. He noticed towers, platforms, and machine guns all around him. At that moment he realized he’d landed on the inside of the very concentration camp he’d planned to neutralize, with a badly injured ankle, and now, alone. Unorganized search parties started to look for the intruders. Arie noticed that as he shook in fear and pain, so did the tree that hid him. Concerned he’d give himself up with the only moving tree around, he moved away from his cover. Voices hollered out that they’d found his bag and chute. Arie knew that the Nazi’s would soon be looking for him.

The first day had passed. Arie remained out of the Nazi’s sight. On day two he heard a German unit march along the camp road close to his hiding place. The enemy had his prints and photo on file due to his prior arrests and escapes. He knew that if they’d found him this time, they’d  automatically shoot him. He’d spent four months behind enemy lines and never fired a shot, but he prepared himself to do just that.

The soldiers moved in a line five feet apart, searching the area where he lay. As the line of soldiers approached him, the two closest to him turned to look at each other. They started to whisper about chocolate and cigarettes. If they found any, they’d keep the goods for themselves instead of turning them over to their officers. The soldiers passed so close to Arie, he could’ve reached out and touched their boot. Two more days passed with a spotlight shining directly on him through each night. He remained hidden by the light. Arie had to accept the fact that neither Harcourt nor any other Jeds would be back for him. He had to get himself out of the camp.

In the dark of night, Arie cut through the wired fence. He crawled four miles, and by dawn he landed in a ditch surrounded by farm fields. He slept through the day until the sun started to set. Arie watched the farmers leave the field. In his weakened, dehydrated, and starved state, he tried to get the attention of the last farmer. Arie’s parched throat silenced his voice. He eventually worked out a screech. It lured a young boy to him. Arie knew that an underground population existed. He asked the boy for food, knowing that if the boy said, yes, then he was lying and might turn him. Everyone knew that there was a food shortage, even for farmers. No one had food to spare. The boy left Arie without an answer.

Later that night, a man showed up on his bicycle with food and water. The farm boy had sent his father, Jan Schutten. The two exchanged passwords to verify that Jan knew about the Dicing mission. Arie had feared the lives of the man’s family considering the war had escalated, the German’s searched for him, and Allied Forces had moved into German occupied territory. He remained in the ditch another night, hurt but no longer hungry or thirsty.

Jan returned home to questions from his wife. Why did he leave an injured solider to fend for himself? “You have to go and get him. We’ll take care of him,” his wife replied.

BESTRDA-300x212 Knowing nothing of Arie’s religion, race, or nationality, Jan and his son returned to help the following day. Arie later said, “They acted out of one obligation, to help another person in need.” Jan brought his horse carriage to transport Arie to the farm. They laid him down in a box filled with hay and horse manure, and rode through a German occupied town. Arie went unnoticed. At the farm, they undressed Arie and cleaned him up, then stashed him in a safe place. Arie learned that the Schuttens also offered a safe haven for two nurses, one older Jewish man, one priest, and seven young boys from Rotterdam. The Shuttens had the nurses care for Arie’s ankle and malnourished body.

The following day, April 12, 1945, Arie asked Jan’s wife for the current date. When she told him, he replied, “Today is my birthday, and what a great present I received by being here? I prayed a lot for help, because I was worried.”

Jan-Schuttens-farm2-300x225Mrs Schutten replied, “We have to pray for God’s guidance always, not only if we think we need help”.

With the peak of the war surrounding them, and sirens consuming the quiet country air, German soldiers passed through the Schutten’s house looking for food, valuables, and oppostion forces. As they took whatever they desired, Arie stood in the corner of a walk-in closet with stuff in front of him, again going unnoticed. After the soldiers left, the Schuttens knew they’d soon be free when the Allied forces moved in. That night they went to town to celebrate and talk to the Red Cross about helping Arie with his broken leg. The following morning a German Red Cross tank showed up at their farm. They feared they’d told the wrong people about Arie. Their fears eased when they discovered that the tank brought chocolate, coffee, candy, sugar, and more. The Schuttens had not eaten this kind of food in years. The German driver then took Arie. He wore one of Jan’s slippers on his hurt foot. He promised to return to see them as well as write. The following day, an allied plane flew over the farm. Jan’s slipper dropped onto the Shutten’s property. The plane tipped the wing to wave, letting the Shuttens know that Arie was safe, and not held captive.

Due to the Dutch 50-year secrecy cap, some events are hard to piece together. However, on the morning of April 12, 1945, Kamp Westerbork was liberated by Canadian forces, yet all of the Germans had mysteriously disappeared the night before.

Arie’s war time accomplishments are vast. No one can argue that his name should be part of the definition of a “war hero.” But this experience left Captain Harry with many questions after the war. Why did he survive when so many others perished? These questions plagued him as he practiced international law in New York, and settled down with his wife and children. His extended family had left Holland before the war and lived in Berlin and Zurich for a time. When the war started, they fled to America because their Dutch papers could no longer be renewed due to Germany’s invasion of Holland.

On a returned trip to visit the Schuttens, Arie had many questions. With famine taking most people’s lives during the war, especially that final year, how could Jan risk the lives of his family by taking in strangers? The Schuttens fed them, housed them, and cared for them knowing that if they were caught, the men would be executed and the women sent to concentration camps. Arie asked Jan if he was worried that he’d run out of food?

“If I would run out of food, God would supply for more,” said Jan.

Arie tried to be polite and not reply to the man to whom he owed his life, but it sounded silly to him.

But Arie’s cynical attitude didn’t get past Jan. He asked, “This country you come from, do you know the Lord’s prayer over there?”

“I have to admit that we do,” Arie replied.

“Did you ever used it?”

“Yes.”

“In there is a line. ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ If you just mumbled some meaningless words, forget about it. But if you believed that, then your faith and mine is the same. Give us this day our daily bread. We are not asking for anything for the day after tomorrow. We worry much too much about the all sorts of gray dim things of the future instead of only worrying about one thing. Doing God’s commandments, and then God will take care of us.”

With seeds planted earlier by German minister Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller from his days in Berlin before the war, Arie’s experience  with the Schuttens synched his conviction. He would leave his thriving international law practice to serve God, and teach the Bible and peace to all mankind. Dr Arie D. Bestebreurtje, or Dr B,  was ordained in 1950. He served in positions from Youth director to having his own parish in the Presbyterian Church. Two years after his retirement, Arie fell through ice while skating on a pond. He died from hypothermia and met the Provider of his Daily Bread at the age sixty-six.

Arie-Gertrude-1981-retirement1-300x247Gertrude & Arie at his 1981 Retirement Celebration

Arie D. Bestebreurtje, JD, aka “Captain Harry” or “Dr. B,” retired as a Major. He was married 41 years to Gertrude Maude Bersch, with whom he had four children: Driek, Mary Anne, Anton, and Martha Jane. He received 18 of the highest international medals for his service during World War II, second only to General Dwight D Eisenhower. He had command of seven different languages, was a Captain of the Dutch Intelligence, a U.S. spy with the Office of Strategic Services and Special Operations Executive during World War II, and after the war had a successful International Law practice in New York. He was personified as Captain Harry in the 1977 movie “A Bridge Too Far.” Arie competed as an international speed skater, was on the 1936 Dutch Olympic team, held many international records, and once skated with Dick Button in an Ice Capades show as a clumsy skating clown in New York City in 1953. He also won several national competitions prior to the war. After being ordained as a minister in 1950, he served in several positions from Superintendent of Youth Studies at Asbury United Methodist Church, to head minister of Calvin Presbyterian Church in Louisville, KY in 1957, and in 1966 was transferred to First Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville, Va. where he served until his  retirement in 1981.

Arie-and-George-300x192A funny note. “This hero with so many war skills, agile speed skater, and  immaculately groomed minister, still had his glumness, tripping and  falling. He would recover his composure with a laugh and some  funny jester for an excuse. He was about 6’4″ or more with auburn hair and a perfect mustache.” –John Beach

A special thanks to John Beach for use of all of the photos he has collected, and his tireless effort to help me keep the facts straight. To find out more, go to http://www.b26.com/page/arie.d.bestebreurtje.htm

 

Story first posted on http://www.InspireaFire.com

 

Alix on beach

Difficulty losing weight? Uncontrollable sugar cravings? Chronic fatigue? Allergies? High Cholesterol? Grind your teeth at night? Depression? White tongue? Hives? Digestive issues? Bloating?

These are just some of the many symptoms that point toward a Candida Albicans fungal overgrowth–systemic yeast. Some people experience multiple symptoms, but not all of them. I’ve found that the majority of the people I talk to about Candida are not aware that it could be slowing them down. It’s linked to many health issues, but is virtually unaddressed by healthcare providers. Some physicians speculate that 20% of the US population has some level of overgrowth, while others say that the percentage is much higher. Like between 80-90%.  To find out if you could have Candida Albicans overgrowth, go here to take a symptom test:   http://www.road-to-health.com/am/publish/article_150.shtml.  If you can find a physician who performs “Live Cell” blood analysis, you will actually see the yeast floating around your blood stream, as in the video below.

The Standard America Diet [SAD], hygiene products, cleaning products, and popular healthcare practices are believed to contribute to this condition. The top causes linked to candida include, but are not limited to the following:

1] Overuse of antibiotics:  prescribed, used in the food supply [commercial meat &  chicken], soaps, etc.

2] Prescribed steroids: oral or injected.

3] Pesticide exposure from the environment, cosmetics, foods, etc.

4] Use of birth control pills

For a more extensive list of causes and explanation, go to the Modern Herbalist at   http://www.modernherbalist.com/influences.html

All of these substances kill off and/or upset the good bacteria called probiotics [pro-life] in the digestive system.  Probiotics are needed to keep the healthy yeast in the large intestines in balance. Once probiotics are killed off by exposure to the above culprits, the yeast mutates and grows out of control, burrowing through the intestinal wall, and going freely throughout the body as a poison. This wrecks havoc on the immune system leading to many chronic illnesses, diseases and/or conditions. Candida is toxic to the human body, and so is it’s waste product. The additional toxins from this fungus puts a heavy load on the liver, interfering with metabolism and the normal daily detoxification of the body. It is believed by many in the naturopathic medical field that illness is created when toxins out number viable nutrients. The Standard American Diet [SAD] is nutrient poor. The SAD if filled with substances that kill probiotics, have abundant calories with little to no nutritional value, and are full of more toxins. This makes people sick, and sicker, often contributing to weight issues, lethargy, and a life side-tracked by illness.

The first line of combat is to change your food regime. Candida thrives on all things sweet and starchy. The goal is to starve the fungus, then use an anti-fungal agent to kill it off. You want to first avoid the following foods for at least 4 weeks, and often longer, depending on how long and prolific your condition. These are the foods you should avoid:

1] Table sugar, honey, agave nectar, molasses, syrup, etc

2] Refined foods

3] Carbohydrates

3] Most fruits and fructose

4] Sweet vegetables

5] Grains, including breads, crackers, rice, pasta, etc

6] All starch

7] Anything sweet, except Stevia.

Once the overgrowth has taken place, and has been allowed to proliferate for a while, it’s not an easy fix. Yet, changes in diet over the long haul will dramatically reduce the level of candida in your body, leading to weight-loss, better over-all health, and a more lively temple of God.

Candida overgrowth is bigger than a single article, but my goal is to enlighten you to a possible health issue that could keep you from living a vibrant life. Here are some sites with thorough resources, information, and options to help you prevent and/or combat candida, leading to better health in 2012. If you believe you have Candida Albicans overgrowth, I encourage you to find a naturopathic physician who can assist the elimination of this fungus, and help you to create a healthy, thriving environment for your body to heal itself.

The following links are a three part series by Nourished Magazine. It offers the most extensive research and plan of attack that I’ve come across.

http://editor.nourishedmagazine.com.au/articles/how-to-overcome-candida-part-1

http://editor.nourishedmagazine.com.au/articles/how-to-overcome-candida-part-2

http://nourishedmagazine.com.au/blog/articles/how-to-overcome-candida-pt3

For more information, go to:

Candida: The Fungus Among Us

http://web.clark.edu/tkibota/240/Disease/Candidiasis.pdf

The Yeast Connection

http://www.yeastconnection.com/fighting.html

Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

http://www.coem.com/programstreatment_overviewofcandidaalbicans.shtml

*I am not a physician, and nor do not promote or sell products discussed or advertised on these sites. Seek medical attention from a qualified provider for conditions that concern you.

Sking the pass

Whenever I drove my car around my Idaho town, this question popped up. After all, I live in the Rockies with Louisiana plates.

While living there for over 13 years, the opportunity didn’t always allow a full rendition of the details, but it always reminded ME of how I made the leap from web-toed, bayou country to the highlands of the Northern Rockies. Talk about a leap…

In the winter of 1995-96, I had the opportunity to fulfill a dream. Go to the Rockies, experience living in the snow and learn how to downhill ski. I took a leave from teaching Chemistry at a local high school, loaded up my Honda Accord, and with map in hand, took off.  I just knew I had to go, if not I would crumble inside.

During my 2.5 month stay, I learned how to cable-up my all-season car tires (which I quickly learned the locals did not do), drive up and down mountain passes in blizzard and icy conditions, shovel ten feet of snow in seven days, ski the powder, and bike on ice (I don’t recommend). That winter, I found myself fulfilling the adventurous soul created inside of me, but something was still missing.

I left the Rockies with a touch of satisfaction, but a deep longing to stay. I returned to Louisiana to open my snowball stand that operated during the seven months of summer. Upon my return, that void inside of me started to grow to what felt like the Grand Canyon—set out to consume me. It brought me to my knees—to the end of my self-sufficiency. I realized I needed something bigger than me. Bigger than my adventures. Bigger than all the things in life I’d worked so hard to achieve. I needed God. And the good news was, God wanted me.

He wanted me, not because I was good enough—believe me, I AM NOT. He wanted me because He had created people for a purpose—to glorify Him. But it was my choice. To serve Him, or to serve my own will and desires.

Since I had tried the latter and was left engulfed by my choices, my heart surrendered to God. I admitted that I am a sinner who falls short, but that God is there to meet me right where I say “yes, I will follow you.” After years of living my way and trying to define “good enough,” I realized God is too holy for my self-righteousness. When I accepted the final sacrifice for my sins—the life, death and resurrection of his only begotten son, Jesus Christ—that’s where freedom and life began.

From that moment forward, the void I’d tried to satisfy with accolades, busyness, people, the god-within-myself, and adventure, filled up with peace, hope and joy amid many storms. I saw the world through different eyes. I experienced the sweet surrender and knew that this relationship-with-Jesus stuff was real. Not some made up thing I’d once thought it to be. Nothing else could explain the radical shift inside of me. No amount of adventure, money, social status, possessions could make me go back to that lost place again. I was blind, but now I do see…it’s true!

By 1999, the tug to return to the Rockies was stronger than ever. After seeking God’s will, I took another leave from teaching Chemistry. This time without pay. I headed west again for the winter. During those four months, I sensed God’s work inside of my heart to let go of everything in Louisiana, and move, yet it didn’t make sense to me. I fought letting go of what I’d worked for, yet God began to weave a deeper faith in me as I sought him, and reaped the benefits of trusting him more. And toward the end of this winter, I traveled with my new friends for a weekend snowmobile retreat. This would be my farewell time with the people who took me in for a winter of fun.

Heavy snowfall made the sixty-mile trip long, but exciting. To ride a snowmobile on top of fresh winter fluff is like no other experience. We reached the cabin around sunset, unloaded for the evening, ate, drank coffee and decided on a midnight ride before calling it a night. I first geared up with an open-faced helmet. One friend said, “Here,” handing me a different helmet, “wear this helmet. It’s safer.” I placed the helmet with a face guard onto my head, and the five of us took off. We floated on top of the deep snow, as the tracks we made quickly filled in. I rode in the middle of four experienced riders. I felt safe enough to let loose, squeeze the throttle and fly. About a mile down the trail, I lost track of the taillights in front of me and assumed that guys would stop if we took a turn. I squeezed the throttle tighter to catch up. I stood up. As the wind blew around my goggles and helmet, I remember saying out loud, “Life doesn’t get much better than this!”

Buried in the snow...

Buried in the snow…

In a flash, the trail came to an end and took a ninety-degree turn. An impossible turn for anyone traveling full throttle. I lowered my body to try to sit, squeezed the brakes, saw an electrical pole in front of me, and thought, “Oh, I’ve blown it now.”

Everything went black. 

From eyewitness accounts and piecing the evidence together, I hit the guy-wires that secure utility poles in place. One wire hit directly across the face guard, taking a chunk out of the helmet, then others ripped the helmet off my head.. Another across my chest. I was blown out of my boots, catapulted over a line of trees as the electrical pole bent and exploded.

After the explosion, my friends arrived to the impact point. The snowmobile I rode was wrapped in wires, my boots lay on both sides of the machine, and my helmet lay several feet away from it all. There was no me. I’m not sure how much time had passed, but I started to come to and babble, “Is this a dream?” This directed them to my location. And after repeating, “Is this a dream,” one friend said, “This is NOT a dream. This is a nightmare. And it is REAL.”

And it was. The pain was real. My fear was real. The wrinkles of concern upon the faces of my friends was real. The anger at myself was real. The 120-mile trip to the hospital. The prayers for God’s mercy and healing. The EMT’s, paramedics, nurses and doctor all confirming that my femur was broken. The operating room was reserved for my surgery. This was ALL too real.

I let go of my surroundings and drifted into the deepest prayer I’d ever been in as they drew blood, ran more tests, CAT scans…all the while I prayed, “God you are the healer, the surgeon, you are the one who can repair my broken femur. If this cup can pass from me, please let it. It’s just not a good time in my life for a broken femur. All glory be to you.” For over an hour and a half, I prayed. Not only was this too real, it was too scary. Too much for me, but not for God.

“I can’t believe this,” the doctor said, walking into the ER room. I heard him shake an X-ray. His words, foot steps and actions drew me out of my prayerful state. “I would’ve bet my medical practice your femur was broken. Your femur is fine.”

His verdict lifted me up to sit straight on the gurney. To get the right picture, my top lip dangled by threads of skin on both sides. My left wrist hung limp—broken. My wet hair had dried, leaving me with the look of a bloody-faced, female Einstein. The doctor showed me the x-ray of a perfectly intact femur. I no longer asked if this was a dream. The words I chose to repeat in reply to anything said was, “Praise the Lord, Jesus Christ.”

The people with me that night stood in exhausted awe, and said, “The ONLY reason you’re still here is ’cause God’s not done with you. You should be dead.”

A few weeks later, I was back in Louisiana, recovering and seeking the reason God saved me that night. I couldn’t work for months due to a deeply ruptured quadriceps muscle and chest muscle, broken wrist and a multitude of other soft tissue injuries. I praised God for sparing me from what could’ve been MUCH worse, but realized that He wanted my undivided attention. For the following three months, I literally prayed, wrote my thoughts and prayers in a journal, read the Bible and listened. “Be still and know that I am God,” whispered through my heart. I knew it was ONLY by God’s hands that I did not leave this earth. I knew He had something more for me here. I only wanted to live for that reason.

At the two-month mark, I heard, “Go to Idaho and trust Me.” I realized God wanted me to resign from teaching, sell everything I owned, and move out west to serve him. At that point, I started talking to him in poetic phrases. Amazed, I started to write them down. Fifty pages of poetry followed in the first four days. I had never written anything poetic in my life. Rarely read poetry. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t explain it. I couldn’t eat, sleep or do anything without poetry oozing out of me. I just wrote them down.

Eight months from the day of the accident, I loaded up my car, and let go of my DEEP southern roots. Many thought I was crazy to walk away from a career with benefits, sell a successful business, and leave my relatives, and a strong network of solid friends. You know, the kind who love and support you…no matter what. But God said, “Go.” So I obeyed. After all, he had saved my life—more than once.

For the first 2.5 years, I lived in no less than 30 places. From a tent by a stream, to a barn filled with mice, clear up to a 5000 square foot paradise. That journey solidified my faith in God’s provisions, not my own. After that time of sojourning around, I landed a care-taking position without a departure date. I would no longer live out of my car and storage unit. And a month into the position, I had another “Okay God,” moment. “What do you want me to do with this provision?”

I heard, “Write a book.”

So I did.

Now, I live, trust, and obey, because it is all too real for me to do otherwise.

aunflowea

Photo Credit: Stacy Price

This story was first published on a blog in 2007.  I accidentally deleted the entire blog, but I saw it as an opportunity to start a new. Magpies in Trees was that new start. I have a few books in progress at the time of this post on Magpies in Trees. Following many interruptions , this journey to publication continues….ALL for the glory of God.

image

OK, so the National Bike to Work Day is actually in May, but I want to make it in October.

In South Louisiana, October is usually the beginning of bearable weather, near close to perfect for biking to work, or ANY where. The month of May can be, well, down right BALMY.

As a life-long bike-for-transportation-person, the question often comes up: Why bike when you have a car?

Part of my passion resides in the knowledge that if you don’t use it, you lose it … and it’s much harder to get it back if you do let it go. And as someone who LOVES to use what I have and push it to the max, I want to USE IT as long as I live. But I can honestly say that the majority of my dedication comes from watching my father go from an active 36 year old to someone who could barely walk– in the blink of an eye. He eventually died at the age of 46. I witnessed, as well as experienced, how quickly someone can go from “can do” to “can’t.” As a result, I learned to appreciate the physical abilities that God granted me as a gift and not take them for granted. Our health, our SELVES are the first thing that God gives us stewardship over.

First I want to share the great advantages of biking for transportation. Here they are, in no particular order.

1] EXERCISE: When I taught high school, I realized that biking to work only added about 40 minutes more time to my round trip commute of 25 miles. And in return, I got almost 2 hours of cardio split between the morning and afternoon. If I didn’t bike, I easily spent more time than that exercising through other means. This was more time efficient for me. And it was basically FREE… since I already owned a bike!

2] SAVE MONEY:  Rather than spend money on extra gas, tires, oil changes, and general wear on the car, I’d rather invest that back into my health, home, or have fun out with friends.

3] SUPPLY & DEMAND: Instead of creating more of a demand for fossil fuel by using my car, I lessen my demand for it. This helps everyone, really.

4]  REDUCES TAXES: When I bike to work, I take the stress of my car off of public highways and roadways. Think of the overall impact if more people decided to do this.

5] POLLUTION: A reduction in air pollution is always a plus.

6] PRAY: I spend my commute time conversing with God.

7] OVERALL HEALTH: This activity is so much better for my overall health, I reduce the amount of time and money wasted on healthcare costs and time loss from work.

8] PRODUCTIVITY: I am much more creative and productive when I bike for transportation than when I do not.

9] MENTAL HEALTH: I am MUCH happier and content when I bike to work. Ask my former students, if they can recall that far back.

10] LESS STRESS: You take yourself out of the traffic jams & parking lot issues.

11] TAX BENEFIT: As of  January 2012, if you commute to work 3x’s a week on your bicycle, you are entitled to a $20 per month tax-free reimbursement for bike-related expenses. Qualifying expenses include bike repairs and storage expenses. How cool is this!!

12] GREAT EXAMPLE: To your children and/or younger generation. Everyone knows children watch enough TV, play too many computer games, and witness enough couch potatoes, etc. Leave a legacy of good stewardship of your health to those around you.

DSCN1930

Making it happen takes a bit of planning, but it’s worth it. Here are some tips that help me:

1] Check the weather & your schedule and then pick a day a week to drive to work. On that day, bring a clean set of clothes & towels for the rest of the week. Take home your dirty laundry to wash.

2] Leave an extra set of make-up, hygiene products, a blow-dryer, etc at your place of employment.

3] The night before, set out your biking gear, headlamps and backpack, and check your tire pressure.

4] If the route to work seems daunting due to distance or dangerous sections, drive part of the way. Every little bit helps.

5] If you do not have shower access at work, wash your hair in the sink and clean up with soap and wash clothe.

6] Invest in a powerful headlamp system and reflective wear. It’s worth the expense.

7] I prefer to use a mountain bike. It offers a more comfortable position on the bike, allows you to jump curbs, go off road, AND greatly reduces the chance of getting a flat tire.

8] You will find far more considerate drivers than less patient ones. Don’t let the ones who lack understanding deter you from this exhilarating experience.

9] Get you a pair of those funny-looking bike shorts with a cushy pad… your rear end will thank you!

I challenge you all to bike just ONE DAY to work in October. Give it a try. You have plenty of time to prepare. And let me know how it goes!

Gaylynn

Taking off a t-shirt, holding a pen, putting on and wearing ski boots, skiing downhill. By late 2005, normal daily tasks suddenly became painful for fifty-three-year-old GayLynn Rolfe. The gravity of her symptoms hit her the hardest when she could only take two downhill ski runs in December. She slept the rest of the day in her car while her family continued to ski. Gay knew that her quality of life had taken a downward turn, but didn’t know why.

GayeLynn skiing with her friends!

GayeLynn skiing with her friends in 2009

The following day Gay went to her family physician. He initially explained her symptoms away as “getting older.” Yet, when you live in the Northern Rockies, you know people who hike, bike, ski, and so much more, well into their 80′s. It is clear that age is not a valid excuse.

On the phone the next day her doctor apologized. Gay’s test results had come back. She tested positive for Rheumatoid Arthritis and her number was extremely high. He offered her oral steroids for the pain until she could see a specialist in Utah. Knowing that Gay often used natural remedies and homeopathic physicians, her doctor encouraged her to not play around with this serious condition. She needed to see a “real doctor.”
Even amid the seriousness of Gay’s condition, she could not get into the specialist until April 2006. The rest of the day Gay cried, thinking about the ski season she’d now miss after buying new gear, and so much more.
With five months to wait before she could see a specialist, Gay started an on-line search for help. Most of the information that she’d found pointed to prescription drugs. Yet one comment caught her attention. “Sometimes, for unknown reasons, the symptoms went away…” Gay concluded there must be something else out there that had helped people, but went unnoticed by the medical community.
2011 Gay Lynn and her daughter hitting the zip line

2011 Gay Lynn and her daughter hitting the zip line

During the waiting period, Gay went to her holistic physician, saw another RA specialist, and started her mornings with a work out routine at a gym. She knew she had to keep moving, in spite of the pain and fatigue. Even so, her symptoms progressed rapidly. One day she found herself trapped in a public restroom when she could not turn the knob and pull on the door at the same time. Her once strong and functioning hands had stiffened to mere paddles.

By March discouragement had settled into Gay’s heart. She’d had more blood work, heard the excuse of “age” again, all while her health continued to deteriorate. Gay decided to keep the appointment at the university to get another opinion. She received mixed results, yet the physician encouraged her to start on an experimental drug protocol. The doctors said they could probably help her some, but with her counts so high and as fast as the RA came on, Gay should expect to be in a wheelchair within two years. And the treatment that they’d suggested would include chemotherapy, would cost her a small fortune, could cause cancer, would make her ill along the way, and break down her bone mass. This prognosis and treatment recommendation didn’t sit well with Gay. She wanted to save her joints. Why would she want to take anything that would cause her to lose bone mass? Why would she want to further compromise her already weakened immune system, and increase her chances of cancer?

Gay walked away, and did not fill the prescription…even though her RA factor was off the charts.
While at her local gym, a friend encouraged her to go to The West Clinic in Pocatello, Idaho just an hour from her home. The clinic had recently started using intravenous [IV] nutrition therapies, and eventually implemented Prolozone injections, both to help their patients with incurable health and chronic joint issues. Gay figured she didn’t have anything to lose by going, and her friend even drove her to the clinic. The late Dr. Henry West, DC ND looked over her blood work. Her RA factor was 4600, when it should have been under 80. Dr Henry was convinced he and his son, Jason West, DC NMD could help balance and restore her health with the unpatentable remedies of God. Dr Jason started Gay on a weekly IV protocol of 80% chelation and 20% Vitamin C, and she received prolotherapy to help strengthen her joints. Gay also eliminated sugar from her diet, and she increased her consumption of fresh greens.
Gay is unsure as to when she noticed the most dramatic results, but by the Spring of 2007, she decided to train for the swimming leg of a triathlon with her daughter. She knew running would be too hard on her joints at that time, but she could swim. A lake near her home became her training ground for the August triathlon. And instead of being in a wheelchair by 2008, Gay has since participated in the swim portion of triathlons every year.
On a "Rhino Ride" with her husband

On a “Rhino Ride” with her husband

“I am thankful for every minute of every day. I am able to do all the things I would like. There are painful times, but I do not focus on them.”

Gay, like so many others who chose the natural medicine route for wellness, realized that it would take time to reverse what took years for the body to create. This IV nutritional plan was not a quick or easy fix, and it required dedication to complete the course of treatment. Yet, without a doubt, Gay feels this option offered her a more complete healing from the inside out. She is not in a wheelchair, and she didn’t have to deal with the dangerous side effects of the prescription drugs or chemotherapy. Along with swimming, Gay golfs, rides her bike, walks 5 K races, rides her ATV through the mountains with her husband, and still downhill skis an average 30 times a season—with extra energy!
“I cannot thank The West Clinic and Dr. Jason West enough for what we have been able to accomplish. The wonderful thing now is knowing that I can still get a ‘recharge’ [IV] any time I need it.”
Gay had her RA factor tested in July 2011. Her new number was 22!

Gay had her RA factor tested in July 2011. Her new number was 22!

Dr Jason West said, “With any disease process, the only way to treat people is to determine what system, organ, tissue, or biochemical pathway is imbalanced, and then use whatever treatment or modality to balance the body.  Balanced people don’t get symptoms, pain or debilitating fatigue.  That was the key to treating Gay – put all of our focus on restoring balance and harmony.  Her determination in getting better along with focus on restoring the body’s ability to heal was the key to this outcome.”

Child carrying child- enhancedA child of no more than five carried a baby to the cinder block CarePoint in eastern Swaziland. A stream of other children followed. Some half dressed. Most barefooted. All covered in muck. None of the children wanted to miss the visitors. They are rare in these parts.

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I’d joined the Bethany Christian School mission team from Louisiana to interact with the children and pray for the community. Children’s Cup had built a CarePoint here in late 2011. Like all CarePoints, they are a safe place used for multiple purposes. During the weekdays, preschoolers attend class, while a team of volunteer “bomakes” [many mothers] cook clean food for children of all ages. There’s a playground, a meeting place for discipleship training and Bible camps, and it’s where child sponsorship comes to fruition. The facility also serves as a clinic for the mobile medical team who visits every six weeks. Skills training is planned for each location for older teens. This is the place of HOPE!

IMG_0016As we stepped out of the van, little hands reached all around for someone to hold them. High-pitched voices called out, “How are you?” in unison through the oppressive humid conditions. They wanted to matter enough for you to pick them up, or simply, “Take my picture!” Laughter and smiles followed while showing them their own colorful image. Something so simple. So taken for granted in my homeland, yet so powerful in another.

Feet of the forgottenWe left the CarePoint to walk amid the village. A lady wearing a single footie with a baby on her hip led us from hut to mat, letting her people know we meant only good. The residents are squatters on privately owned land. They are sent to live in this stick hut community when they are no longer able to work in the sugarcane fields. The adults are sick or injured. Some are too old for manual labor. Many are just babies born into the poverty that engulfs their life. This is Section 19.

Gogo on matA gogo/grandmother sat on a mat—her current home. She waited for someone to build a hut of her own. Chickens cackled and drank water from pots used to cook a meal. As the adults shared their prayer concerns, I heard a cracking sound behind me. While most of the children clamored around the Americans, one little boy sat on the ground. He lifted up a big rock and banged it against another, cracking open nuts to eat. He looked at Boy cracking nutsme as I took his picture. He didn’t ask to see it. His focus soon returned to his task. I stood amazed that no one else thought to do the same, or fight him for his bounty.

We walked and prayed within the walls of sugarcane that held the hot stagnant air within the boundary of this small village. There was no breeze to blow the stench of poverty away. The reality was there to touch, see and smell. Not deny.

Chicken in waterComing fresh from America, it was hard for my eyes to see the improvements at Section 19. This was the first time I’d ever come face-to-face with true poverty. But since Children’s Cup built this CarePoint, the changes are measurable. Nurse Jessie Bohannon, the head of CC’s medical team, notes that the younger children have moved from the 25th percentile to the 68th percentile on height and growth charts. This is a credit to the clean food and water available at the CarePoint. And prior to CC’s involvement, the cane fields served not only as a source of income, but as their toilet. After rain or irrigation, the runoff from the fields fill the river with refuse and pesticides. This is the only water supply for Section 19. Hardly fresh. Never clean. Yet, after Children’s Cup dug a “long drop” for the community to use as a toilet, they saw a significant reduction in infections, diarrhea, sores, and intestinal worms. Training and educational tools have also created healthier hygiene amongst the community. The medical team notes that the number of sick children per visit dropped from 50 to about 18.  This is HOPE!

DSCN0057After being on the ground and visiting countless CarePoints in nearly 3 months, I have great hope that through the prayerful efforts of Children’s Cup, the improvements at Section 19 will only continue. Please pray for these children, the parents, the community. Turning hearts toward Jesus is the only thing that will truly break the cycle of poverty, addiction, and the spread of HIV. And acquiring an education helps elevate the possibilities of rising above the poverty even more.

If you’d like to help a child attend school, please consider giving to the scholarship program through Children’s Cup. It will change the course of one of these valuable lives. And quite possibly, yours!