Jehovah Rapha

God, thank You for Your unconditional love for me.
You pursue me like I’m a lost treasure.
You search me out, intentionally.
Your presence crashes over me in waves.
You bring healing to my body and soul.
When I am misunderstood, You reach out to me.
When I am neglected, You sweep me into your arms.
When I am exposed, You clothe me in Your understanding and protective care.
If I praise Your name in my deep troubles,
You make Yourself known and You act.
You rescue me because I am Your daughter.
As a Father, You discipline me because I am Your disciple.
You open doors and shut them, creating a rhythm that suits my life.
You give me life.
Abundantly.

Praise Report! I’ve been dealing with neck pain and swelling for the past week. The doctors were confounded! It wasn’t meningitis. My thyroid was fine. Bloodwork was absolutely beautiful. They resolved to put me on antibiotics. On the way to the doctor, I had a minor panic attack and had to jump off of it for a minute! As I prayed my typical, feverish “Lord, please don’t take me! Let me stay! Please heal me and help me.”, I clearly felt God saying “I will be your healer. Not the doctors. No one but Me. I will be your healer.”

Last night, I attended my bible study meeting and had the group lay hands on me to pray for healing. My bible study leader is actually one of the church elders so he anointed my neck with oil as well. He told me that I’m the second person ever to ask for healing, although Scripture tells us to seek healing and prayer from our elders. (Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. – James 5:14).

While I was prayed over, I felt something spiritual happen. My heart started palpitating and my body flushed. This happened when they prayed against any possible demonic attack that may be causing my neck pain. I knew this was a spiritual thing!

This morning I woke up with no swelling, no heat (my neck had become quite hot to the touch), and only minor discomfort. There’s no pain! The Lord healed me in my sleep.

 

Praise God!

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Why God Allowed My Ulcers? (A Theory)

I was diagnosed with large, but superficial (meaning not deep) stomach ulcers a month ago. Prior to that point I suffered from intense acid reflux, constantly throwing up acid in my mouth. Citrus fruits became unbearable and onions and garlic, although delicious, badly hurt my stomach. Every doctor I saw about this just said it was plain old acid reflux and they prescribed me acid reflux medication. Not one person thought it could be ulcers.

Well, the problem persisted. My stomach would hurt after eating almost anything. Intense nausea would randomly come upon me and it lasted for hours. Not satisfied with the “it’s just acid reflux” theory, I saw another doctor. He admitted that it perhaps could be ulcers and sent me off for an endoscopy. 

After the endoscopy, I learned that I had several large ulcers and a growth in my esophagus. Wait. What?? What’s that? My gastroenterologist did not explain why I had the growth, the ulcers, or the best course of treatment. She simply stated that taking 20mg of my acid reflux medication would be sufficient treatment.

Something in my spirit told me to seek a second opinion, so I met with another gastroenterologist. He informed me that my previous GI doctor made huge mistakes. She prescribed the incorrect dosage for my medication. Instead of 20mg, I should’ve been taking 80mg! That’s a grave mistake.

Not only did she make that error, but she neglected to inform me that while the growth in my esophagus was normal, it could turn into cancer. Let me explain.  When you have this type of growth in your esophagus, it is HPV. As a never sexually active woman, I didn’t think that HPV was a concern for me, so I was never vaccinated against it, per my mother’s wishes.

My new GI doctor told me that I will have to keep an eye on my esophagus and there’s a possibility that they could grow back. If they do indeed grow back and they aren’t removed, they could be cancerous. 

If he had never told me that, I would never have gotten another endoscopy, allowing a doctor to check for these growths. I would never have known about this cancer risk. I would have been at risk for developing this type of cancer!! Talk about medical malpractice from my other doctor.

 

Anyway, I’ve been wondering why I got ulcers at 23 years old. I’d never heard of a young person having ulcers. None of my doctors thought it conceivable for someone so young to have these issues. I think I have an idea why, apart from possible personal mistakes (taking too much ibuprofen-people, this can cause ulcers! I didn’t know that!)

 

If I had never had ulcers, this growth in my esophagus would have continued to grow and it could have turned into cancer. God essentially saved me from that by allowing me to suffer in a different way, in order to correct the esophagus issue.

 

Although my lifestyle has changed regarding food and drink and although I get stomach pains from time to time, I’m grateful to God for His wisdom and mercy in this situation.

 

 

 

Ishi

You’ve been my One and only for over a decade.

Throughout my difficult stages of life, You held me tightly and whispered sweet promises over me.

At night, You gave me songs to raise to You. Songs to ground me.

When others tried to take Your place, or to disparage the masterpiece You made,

You gave me the courage to say no, to advocate for myself, and to choose You

over false imitators of Your love.

 

Because my Ishi, You have shown me love.

We both know that my parents’ marriage demonstrated what love shouldn’t look like.

You don’t want that for me.

My Ishi, You’ve etched the carvings of Your character on my heart.

It pumps and beats in tune with Your word.

My Ishi, You have loved me perfectly.  Perfect love casts out fear.

 

You are the only One I allow into the dark spaces my mind goes.

I have felt what seemed like Your absence and it ripped me apart.

I missed You, I missed feeling Your arms around me,

Your nail-scarred hands, touching my cheek when I cried.

 

Ishi, I knew You were there.

You were hiding and I was searching.

You waited for me to lift my eyes to Abba’s right hand,

to call upon Your name,

and to trust in You for an answer.

 

On the days that my depression left me in bed for every moment of daylight,

my Ishi was there.

When my lips couldn’t form the words to express my despair,

You formed them for me, interceding for me.

 

Ishi, You are with me wherever I go.

I know what it’s like to feel as if I’ve lost You, my best friend.

You are the only One I simply cannot live without,

as You are the One who twice breathed life into me.

But, You promise to be with me always, even until the end of the age.

Relating to God as Father (When You’ve Been Abused)

Readers,

This is a painful topic. I suppose I should insert a trigger warning for any abuse survivors. I won’t go into too much detail about the abuse that I suffered, but I will mention it in slight detail. This piece may bring back painful memories for you. I’m right there with you, friend. We’re in this together.

 

Alright, well here’s a bit of my story. I was born into a tumultuous family. My father had undiagnosed bipolar disorder and his own long history of abuse in all its sick forms. Many people hurt my dad when he was a child. Typically this is what happens. Someone is abused and they, in turn, abuse their own children, often unknowingly.

I was abused. I was emotionally, verbally, spiritually, and financially abused. Common occurrences in my home were these:

  1. I would come home from school and find at least two family members engaged in a screaming match.
  2. Dad would become so angry that he would punch holes in walls and break things in the home. One time he threw my dog against the wall. I will never forget that. 
  3. When I asked for money, it was given with much reluctance and often I felt indebted to my father. I had to perform in a certain way to pay him back. This is something I struggle with to this day.
  4. Often, my parents would threaten to divorce at least once a week. One time I became so fed up with the arguing, because I was studying, and I said, “Just divorce already or don’t because I’m studying!” I was 9 years old.
  5. Sometimes Dad would leave for days on end, after a big fight with my mom. If he didn’t leave, he gave her the silent treatment for a few days. As my brother and I grew older, he exhibited this behavior toward us as well. 
  6. I’ve been called a bitch, evil, a burden, etc. Cutting words.

Readers, this abuse is something that the Lord is slowly lifting off of my heart every day. With each morning, I feel that God is calling the abuse out of me, calling to my mind the painful memories so we can work through them together. Every time I see my therapist, I receive so much healing and validation. I love therapy. I highly recommend it!

Now, this piece is about relating to God as Father when you’ve been abused, especially by a man. I never realized that I had an incorrect and incomplete view of God as Father until recently. My Christian walk up until age 23, my current age, has been about legalism. I always wanted to “do the right thing” and “be a good Christian.” I wanted to please God. I wanted Him to be proud of me. I want my Dad to be proud to be my Dad. I didn’t want God to punish me. 

I never experienced that light freedom that comes from loving Christ and being loved by Him until recently. Actually, you know, picturing Christ in my mind when I thought of God was easier than thinking of the Father. This could be because the Father seems a bit removed from us in the sense that He does not have a body. He is Spirit. But, Christ has a body, so it’s easier to relate to Him. That’s so genius of God to send Christ. 🙂

But, this is how my walk has been. This has been how I related to God. I can’t quite pinpoint what really happened to change it, but one night I was reading Romans 4 and the realization of God’s holy grace rushed over me! The Holy Spirit came upon me in a powerful way and I wept for hours, finally realizing that God loves me because He is love and because He made me, not because I’m “good.”

For those of you who struggle with viewing God as Father, listen to me. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I don’t have this all figured out yet and I won’t until I join the Lord in heaven, but it gets easier. My recommendation is to:

  1. Deal with the memories when they come up (as long as is healthy for you)
  2. Seek therapy (whether that’s formal counseling or some type of counseling from church)
  3. Pray to your Father
  4. Read the sections of the Bible where the Father is mentioned as loving, patient, kind, and understanding
  5. Wait on the Lord. He will heal you.

 

Friend, what happened to you was not something unknown to God. He knew it would happen. He didn’t want it to! But, we have free will. However, what Satan meant for evil in your life, God will turn it around for your good! You will be a blessing to yourself and to others. God will bring you to a place where you can speak to others about your past and your healing. Many will come to the Lord through your testimony. Many will find healing. I firmly believe this. Rest in God. Let HIS strength be Yours. He loves you because He’s your Abba. ❤

 

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

Self-Denial and Your Calling (Puerto Rico?)

Readers,

I’m sure you’ve been keeping up to date with the news on Puerto Rico, as we all should. Although the President says that the government’s relief efforts have been extraordinary, the faces of the people in Puerto Rico are telling me otherwise. The incredible mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz, has given passionate pleas for Puerto Ricans, using such strong words like “dying” and “genocide.” Wow, and that’s the capital city.

So if those in the capital city are suffering so viciously, we must accept that there are many in the campo (countryside) who are worse off. They have no water, no electricity, no food, and no medical supplies. I’m certain that the death toll is much higher than the government believes it to be. I have no doubt that there are many Puerto Ricans in the campo who have died in their homes and relief workers simply haven’t found them yet.

This disastrous hurricane has raised so many feelings inside of me. I’ve been turning various options over in my mind, trying to find how God could be calling me to respond in the wake of this tragedy. The Lord knows that my Spanish isn’t the best and I don’t have enough work experience to convince myself that I can make a difference in Puerto Rico.

While many Puerto Ricans are leaving the island, as recovery is likely to take decades, there are countless others who have no such luxury. They cannot leave the island. They must stay until their dying day, which may be quickened by the terrible conditions Puerto Rico now suffers from. 

How can I get involved? What are my talents? Well, I can teach English. I can work with children. I can hand out supplies to those in need. I can be a mentor to teenage girls.

What are my spiritual gifts? I have the gift of exhortation, empathy, teaching, and faith. NO DOUBT God can use those.

But, what do I lack? Language skills. I know that on my own, without the Holy Spirit’s help, it will be incredibly difficult to share the gospel with anyone in Spanish.

This is what keeps me from moving to the island and investing in my fellow Puerto Ricans. Funnily enough, a lack of language skills hasn’t deterred me from thinking about serving God in India, because I’m not Indian. No one would expect me to know Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, etc. But, because I’m Puerto Rican, I face some backlash for not speaking the language as well as I’d like. I face shame. I face rejection, I face questions about my upbringing. 

I think of Moses. When God called him back to his own people, the people he wasn’t raised with, he kept complaining that he wouldn’t know how to speak to the people. God gave him Aaron for that. I hope to find my own Aaron along the way to be my mouthpiece until I can become fluent in Spanish.

Will I move to Puerto Rico? Perhaps. Do I want to? Hell yeah. To go back to the island my grandmother called home would be an honor. To return to my roots and invest in my people would be a gift. I pray that the Holy Spirit helps me get over myself enough for me to actually do this.

 

I don’t want to meet the King of Kings face to face and say I never left New York City because I was scared to be rejected. I want to tell Him that I left all I ever knew, planted myself in a poor country where I hardly spoke the language, and loved the people well. All for Him. It’s all for Him. It’s time to pray.

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

 

Kajol

I’m finally ready to talk about Kajol, the girl I started this blog for. While in India during the summer of 2015, I met an incredible young girl named Kajol. Here’s a portion of her story and how she changed me forever:

In Kolkata, I spent a few days working at an after-school program for teenagers. That was probably the most fun I had during my time in India. I really love Indian movies so the kids and I sang songs from Hindi movies together, we danced, we ate street food, and we played in a children’s park, picking flowers and holding hands. Being with those teenage girls was such a place of peace for me. I met a particular young lady, probably thirteen or fourteen, whose name is Kajol. Kajol was attached to me whenever I visited her slum and I loved being with her and her little sister named Barsha. But, Kajol has a rough life. Her father married her to a man in his twenties and she was abused in every way. She was eventually liberated her from that marriage and she’s recovering.

I didn’t know this about Kajol when I met her. The first thing I noticed about her was how incredibly beautiful she was. Her nose ring glittered against her brown skin, her voice was husky like an 1940s movie star, and her glistening smile never left her little face. Coming back from the children’s park, Kajol and I held hands. Barsha also attached herself to my other hand. There I was, leading these two image-bearers of God’s beauty and glory back to their home in the slums. I felt like a didi (elder sister), or even a mother. I didn’t even know their names at this point, but I loved them with all of my heart. While walking back, Kajol suddenly looked up at me and said, “My name is Kajol. She’s my sister Barsha.”

Knowing that Hindi was her first language, I responded in Hindi and told her my name. I dropped them off at their home and left for the day. Several days later, while drinking cha and eating mishti at an uncle’s house, I was informed about Kajol’s marriage, the self-harming habits she had developed as a result, and various other forms of abuse inflicted upon her. This uncle told a story of this “slum girl” and at the end, I asked him what her name was. He said, “Kajol.” My breath was snatched from my throat.

“Kajol? The girl with the nose ring and the deep voice and the little sister named Barsha?”

“Yes, that’s her.”

Tears streamed down my face. I felt furious with her father for marrying her to an older man. I was disgusted with the older man and wished I could physically harm him. My maternal instincts kicked in and I yearned to just hold Kajol and protect both her and Barsha from all evil men. I wanted to bring them back to the US, to raise them, send them to college, and see them thrive. I wanted to save them.

This is a portion of what God felt for us when He decided to send His Son, Jesus Christ, to save us.

Once I was back in the US, during a debriefing session, we had a time of lament for all of the darkness we saw. I threw myself to the floor and sobbed harder than I ever had in my twenty-one years of life. I screamed out, “My baby! My baby! My baby!” My hands were outstretched before me, hoping to catch a glimpse of God’s peace and understanding of this situation. I didn’t find any understanding or peace for quite some time. God broke my heart for Kajol. It’s still broken.

Since then, I’ve never been the same. I pray to return to Kolkata, find Kajol, and see how she’s doing. She must be sixteen or seventeen by now. Maybe she’s married again. Maybe she’s had a baby. I don’t know. What I do know is that I pray for her, I think of her in the night before sleeping, and my heart yearns to hold her once again.

I want my life to be poured out for all children who experience abuse and trauma, like Kajol did. Lord, grant this desire.