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December 12, 2013

5 things I am learning through suffering

I have these times that are few and far between but they pop up every once in awhile, and I feel words start to ramble around in my head. They are pretty words with images and quotes and scripture and all kind of wise things that scream, "Write me down, hurry!"  When I sit down to write without the ramblings, it's hard to come up with words that give this blog space justice, so I'm okay with using this corner of the Internet as a means to get down those REALLY important thoughts and just live out the rest. If you are lucky enough to know me well, then you may just get a verbal blog post every day.
 This particular post is about suffering in regards to sickness and pain, which is something I have become familiar with, and in a very real way recently. The story is long, but a quick summary is that over the years I have encountered numerous health conditions and have received different diagnoses: Fibromyalgia, IBS, anxiety, depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, etc. I have tried many methods to reach healing and some have worked, many have not, and for the last several years I would say I that I have been managing any pain pretty well on my own without the help of medical intervention. I still suffered flare-ups due to Fibromyalgia and sometimes stomach troubles but these things had become a part of my life and I had learned to live with them, that is until I began suffering immensely a couple months ago. At this time, I began to have full body physical symptoms that were debilitating. The list of symptoms is probably a page long  but I knew my body was out of balance and it was throwing my mind out of balance as well. Finally I received I guess what you would call a revelation that my health conditions are due to a yeast overgrowth in my body, a particular fungus called candida and most likely I have had this overgrowth for many years, perhaps my whole life.  The culminating development began around Thanksgiving, as I loaded my body up with carbs and sugary desserts. Can you say stuffing and pie, anyone?!? I began to get terribly sick and it became hard to get out of bed. After eating, my stomach would begin to swell to the point that I looked very pregnant, bloated and the pain was unbearable. I was tired and more fatigued than I had ever been in my life, even during pregnancy. My mind was suffering, I felt anxious, fearful, irritable and had days of depression.

However, once I knew what was wrong with me, I started to feel a small sense of peace. It is relieving to finally have a game plan. So I started on a diet which cuts out every type of grain, sugar (even fruit), alcohol, caffeine, and dairy. These are foods that feed the yeast and keep them thriving in my body. I am left eating fresh produce that are low in carbs, lean meats, eggs and lots and lots of water. Sounds fun, right? The diet is strict, but over the years I have become familiar and have enjoyed trying new healthy foods so this has not been the hardest part for me. The hardest part has been the die-off effects of starving the yeast of it's nutrition. They release many (some say up to 79) different toxins and alcohol into your bloodstream and the liver works overtime to clear your body of all the nasty waste bi-products. These little yeast punks do not want to die without a fight.
Here I am today, it's been about a week of being on this strict diet and the first two to three weeks are the hardest. People feel much worse before they feel better, and I have felt the worst I have ever felt. Yet in all things there is opportunity for growth, peace, joy and knowledge. That is what I want to focus on: My experience with suffering and what I am learning.

1. Sickness makes me feel lonely and isolated and I sometimes equate this to actually being alone. During the day, when my children are at school and my husband is at work and I am here struggling to get out of bed, a feeling of loneliness comes over me. These feelings can quickly slide into thoughts such as, "I am alone. No one has reached out to me today and they must not care that I am here suffering." This is a lie and if I choose to believe it, then I become a prisoner to my suffering. People care and they also have lives to live. Loneliness does not equal being alone. To further expand on this great lesson, I am learning that being by myself, learning to feel worthy just the way I am without constant reassurance from others is contributing to my spiritual growth. To rest in the stillness, just my own soul and it's divine love  surrounding mein meditation  is a great gift that many of us do not yet unwrap and relish in.


2. Many people do not understand what I am going through and that is okay. Some people really do understand and that is because they have walked a similar road before me. I have found quite a large support group online and that is helpful in overcoming that lonely feeling I described above. The closest people do not need to understand my physical pain and suffering, nor do I want them to because it is not something I would wish upon anyone. Just because they do not understand with certainty what I am experiencing does not mean they cannot love me, support me and help see me through this. We each have a journey and a path that is our own. We are here to support others and lift them up as they walk their own path of healing, but we do not always understand it or know what to do or say. Searching for grace is my motto and this is a great way to learn to give it to the ones we love.

3. Being a victim and being a spiritual victim are two different things. I do not choose to suffer physical afflictions but when I say it is not fair, I don't deserve this, or I feel owed something because of my suffering, then I am becoming a spiritual victim or adopting a victim mentality and am ultimately lying to myself. We ALL have things in our lives that we do not ask for and circumstances that change us fundamentally. Some are heart wrenching; sometimes we are victims of crime, abuse, grief, disease, heartbreak, bullying, etc. Those things happen to us and are out of our control, we cannot change them once they have been done to us. The choice I have now is whether I will let myself, mentally, become a victim. When I do this, I lock myself in suffering. When I think like a victim, I forget to see the blessings that I am given and instead see every negative occurrence as it relates to my difficult circumstance. The amazing part of being a human is how we are capable of rising up out of suffering.. We can make a choice about how we react to what life has given us and we can choose to be victorious and not victimized. It takes time, hard work and sometimes we only learn this because we trudge away each day in pain until we realize our minds, when renewed, are incredibly strong and we can decide to create a better story for ourselves, one filled with success and not failure. Also, this disease may be in me but it does not define me. The same way we can have cancer but we are not cancer. I say this about depression as well; we have depression but we are NOT depressed. This is a hard lesson for me to remember, but I am rising up to it.

4. It is okay to ask for help. It is okay to say I need prayers, support, someone to reach out to check in on me. It is okay to ask for it but if I expect it then I will be let down miserably. There are people that come into our lives ready and willing to uplift us, give us a shoulder to lean on, an ear to bend, etc. Those people are gifts. However, not everyone in our lives are capable of being that person. Sometimes I expect that the person who will reach out to me and be a companion in my suffering is someone whom I have helped in the past. I am learning that the people that needed my help may not have the ability to help me in return. The point of giving is not to receive, and yet if we live our lives believing that we must gain something for every good deed we performed, we make ourselves prisoners. The biggest lesson in relation to this point that I have been awakened to is that if I pray and ask for someone to be sent to me, I have to be willing to open my heart to see the help when it comes. Sometimes we can be so focused on our expectations of what that will look like that we miss what it was that came our way. A simple text from a friend can be enough to lift us up but not if we expect them to come with a basket of goodies.

5. Most important for me to remember each and every day: to suffer is to gain. Through my suffering, I have grown closer in the knowledge that my being here is no accident and each challenge is for a greater purpose. I am sheltered under great love that surrounds each of us. It is easy to take that forgranted when all is going well in my life, but when I am buried under the rubble, desperate for a way out, I cling to the hope that I believe in and find a shovel so I can dig my way out. In my experience, we are often not just lifted out of the shambles, although sometimes we can be but not often. Many times it's the act of digging, making our way through the debris, that ultimately shapes us, challenges us, grows us and teaches us. "The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen." -Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Friend, if you are buried in the rubble of your life right now, I am throwing you a shovel.

September 10, 2013

When the tide turns..

One thing I have learned in my 31 years of living is that when things feel crappy, similar to the feeling of being pulled under by the depths of the raging waters, the tide will turn; just hold on and tread, tread, tread. Just like the ocean, there may be calm waters at sunrise and at noon the tide is low, but by evening the waves may soar with a strong wind and swallow up the shells. Metaphorically, it is just like life in that unpredictable way.

I spent the last week in what I am convinced is probably one of my favorite places, the Outer Banks in North Carolina, particularly Corolla. This beach town has everything within a two mile radius, flanked by the glorious ocean with breathtaking sunrises and the inlet sound with it's lighthouse and beautiful water side park; picturesque, welcoming, filled with creation. There are wild horses hanging around and the beach becomes a road after dark. The houses are beautiful, the beach is wide and the town is clean. There is a small stretch of touristy half price stores with awesome OBX trinkets and pirate t-shirts, not to mention the raw bars with fresh seafood and the small BBQ joint tucked away. There is a perfect amount of tourist with a large dose of "you are home" mixed in. It is magic.

I felt the ocean pulling at my soul, calling me there all year, just beckoning to me to come. I am sure we all feel that "I need to get to the beach" feeling when the hum drum becomes too much to bear. Summer is ending, school started back up and we needed to get away badly.  I was not disappointed. After the first day there, kids up at 5:45 am, I realized that it would take some work; even vacation is not effortless. But if I was willing to put in the work, using my kid's 6 am wake up call to see the sunrise and the beauty of creation, getting good sleep, spending time in reflection and prayer, letting go of expectations, well then I would have a soul enriching experience and not just a vacation. With camera in hand, I made a promise that with it I would find what needed finding and store it away forever. I feel so close to Heaven when my toes are in the sand and my insignificant self stands at the shore of the magnificent ocean.

We have gone to the Outer Banks most years since my oldest was a baby. He took his first steps at the beach and learned to wave bye-bye to the ocean.


As my youngest sat in tears on the car ride out of Route 12 on Sunday, I felt that feeling well up in my heart at the same time and wanted to cry out, "I don't want to go home!" The warm sea breezes and the sun kissing tan noses, the feeling of relaxation taking over your body and the time away with family; it is just so hard to leave. But I know that returning home and getting back on schedule is what works best for us and I hope that I can carry that space with me: the peace and gratitude, the longing to find the daily grace and to see the bigger picture.

It has been four months, today, that we said hello and goodbye to my nephew Tank. I am certain that no matter how many vacations we go on, something will always feel out of balance because he is not physically with us to create new memories with his cousins. But I have a hard time expressing in words what we found of him in our trip south. He was everywhere with us, filling our hearts up with love and longing for the best of what life has to offer.

He is a bright light inviting us to find, within, the pleasures of our soul and stay focused on what really matters in this world; Love. Soon it will all be gone, memories buried in the sand, but not before we take time capturing them in every possible way, remembering the ones we love that have taken their turn at flying away from earth. Giving hugs to crying babes and forgiving our spouses and ourselves for the mistakes we make. Holding hands, chasing sunsets even when they are harder to find in the city. We may not have the beach every day, but the spirit of the beach, the place inside that no one can trample or steal, we have that. It takes extra time and work to cultivate our spirit when we are busy and distracted, but thankfully anyone who wants to find the hidden gems that life offers, can. It does not take a 700 mile trip, just a short quiet trip within.



Freedom is allowing our hearts to be filled up over and over no matter the circumstances. I plan to use that truth as my anchor and "thank you" as my prayer.

July 25, 2013


Metaphors. I love them. This one sums up what I am feeling right now. It's like I recently went for a deep dive into the bottom of a murky lake and although not "bad" in reality because all things work out for greater good, it was hard to see down there. I was probably scared of the unknowns and knew it would take some work to get back up from the depths of that place. Also, if you were swimming  back up to shore in your own lake, running low on oxygen, you would stop at nothing to get back to the top, to resurface into the place where the sun shines and life keeps moving on. Stay stuck at the bottom of that lake and sooner or later the world goes on without you.

I feel free when I am behind my camera. All of a sudden things are brighter and you take a closer look as your brain captures the moment first in your mind and then *snap*, the moment is trapped in time. It's the way the lens transforms the rippling waves of a lake into the rippling waves of a still photo; or the way a child swings high into blue sky and then her hair is forever stopped just so with the wind twirling it. It's the way you see the details so clearly when you're focusing with the camera and how it slowly focuses the moment in real life into something magical. Something that is a gift already but now it has a treasure to show for it.

I go back over the photos and I look at them, I zoom in on my children's eyes or the way my youngest smiles with his lip curled under, and I laugh because somehow I miss that way too much in the speeding moments of the day.

I know this is my answer. Use whatever tools you need to find the beauty. And when the beauty is found then so is the grace.

Life is hard; it's so cliché but true. Yet life is full of so many exquisite moments; these amazing moments that are waiting to be captured. Sunsets and sunrises that happen every morning and every night. How often do we wake up early enough to witness such beauty? A free gift for the taking. Birds flying by, children skipping stones into shallow water, the way their faces look when you tell them a joke, how their hair, full of electricity, sticks up on all ends as they slide down the slide.  How many times have I watched my boys slide down slides in almost seven years? Too many to count. But how many times did I really see them?? How many times did I capture that moment in my mind? Not nearly enough.

It's very late and I can hear the train's whistle, just down the street, alerting the sleeping town of its transient presence. I find comfort in this sound, it's been a constant companion to me in each home I have ever lived in. But this train sounds different tonight. It's passing by to remind me to stay awake. Life is like that train; just passing by. There are plenty of whistles to alert us that it's here right now, steadily moving forward on the track, but just how often do we stop to listen?

And another metaphor. Sweet dreams.

July 18, 2013

Bucket List

I am trying something new today and I am looking forward to seeing how this helps my emotional state. Since I have been feeling so down lately, letting my emotions get the best of me, and because I refuse to sit around wallowing in self pity, I have decided that starting today and every day for the rest of the summer, I am determined to check one thing off of our summer bucket list and document along side my gratitude journal which I have neglected for too long. I hope this will help bring me back to the clarity I seem to have lost about my purpose, not only as a mother but as a human being.
Feeling alone, sad and down right moody is not a fun place to be in during the summer. There are only so many days of sunshine and warm weather, and I have an imagination full of ideas that have been floating restlessly around in my head, weighed down by a body that just couldn't get motivated to get out and make the fun happen. Fun is something you create; it's an attitude aimed at success and not at failure. I know inside I have the ability to find joy in whatever situation I am in, regardless of circumstances. I am strong and capable and have succeeded many times in overcoming this uphill battle. I am tired of believing that I cannot do it again. So I will succeed, I just need to admit that I need help in doing it. The important lesson I am learning in all of this is  that I need to be willing to accept the help in whatever form it comes to me and not have expectations on what it should look like. Friendship, opportunity and happiness come in so many different disguises. If I can open my heart wider than I normally do, then I will be pulled out of my glass house and into the village of houses filled with love. I can't wait to discover these love houses. :)
So without further ado, our summer bucket list:
Make fried chicken and lemonade and pack it up for a picnic.  Checked box symbol

 Take the boys to a movie and let them have popcorn AND candy.  Checked box symbol
Spend an evening watching planes take off at the airport.
Treasure hunt hike at a local metro park.  Checked box symbol

 Meet daddy for lunch and eat at a local food truck.

A visit to the state fair!  Checked box symbol

Make at least one new friend. Schedule a play date.
Spend time with old friends that I haven't seen in awhile. **Today I was able to have a lunch date with one of my best friends from college. She and her beautiful daughter came over and the boys loved spending time with such a sweet little 6-month old!

Catch fireflies with the boys. Checked box symbol
More bowling. Checked box symbol

Take the boys to play mini golf and to the batting cages.
Sunset walk at our special sunset spot.
Catch the sunrise.
Paint art work. **Here is a picture I created the other night. It didn't take very much time and it has inspired me to keep creating!

Go thrifting! Checked box symbol

Join a reading program at the library. (Already done. Caden is rocking out his summer reading!)  Checked box symbol
Get a massage. I'll take a hubby massage, too! Checked box symbol My hubby should really be a massage therapist, he worked out some major kinks in my back this week!!
Have a date night with each of my boys separately.
Have a date night with my hubby!

Visit a spray park. Checked box symbol

Tell myself something great about me every day. Checked box symbol **Getting pretty good at this, and pursuing help when I need the extra affirmation.
Go to more farmer's markets and Friday night family nights.
Try new summer recipes with delicious summer produce.
Take more photographs. Checked box symbol ** I definitely have been snapping away, pretty much every day! Love it!

Ride my bike more! Checked box symbol

Blog at least once per week. I really missed writing and it's therapeutic. Checked box symbol **Blogging is going well!
Have a camp out//movie night on the sectional.
Roast marshmallows on the fire pit. Checked box symbol

BBQ ribs on the new grill.
Go on an adventure. Checked box symbol

** We went to an underground cavern and mined for gems!

 Make up a board game.
Go to "dirt beach". Checked box symbol

 Pick blueberries and make blueberry pie.
Write a story with Caden. (We are working on our story but here is a song we wrote together!)

 Baseball game!  Checked box symbol


Those are just a few of my ideas. What's on your summer bucket list and what have you already accomplished?