What to Do When Your World Stops

This Sunday I am at home, wishing I could be at church.  It’s been another challenging week, bringing more pieces of my health puzzle together (more on that later).  This morning my mom sent me a link to a very encouraging message, which led me to another.

If you, too, are home sick today … or you are presently facing some other trials, these brief messages (less than 10 minutes each) will help lift your heart and give you direction.  Please feel free to share your comments below, including prayer requests.

Pressure Points – In this message, Pastor Kramer gives uplifting truth and hope to remember when (not if) we face trails.

When Your World Stops – This message is about how to keep going when you feel like your world is ripped out from under you.

God’s Stop Signs – My Allergy Elimination Diet and a Journey to Better Health (body, mind, spirit)

How was your summer?  I hope it was a great one! 

Our summer schedule looked inviting … with just the right amount of busy. But as soon as it started, it was a struggle. By the beginning of June I felt like I. couldn’t. move.  I had been sick for a few weeks and couldn’t snap out of it.   I didn’t know what to do, so I contacted a doctor friend of mine to see what she would suggest.  She lives about 45 minutes away but she said she could help me (has gone through it herself and has helped many women like me). 

Beginning of Diagnosis

After lots of paperwork and a lengthy interview (it is a gift to have a doctor who really cares and listens!), she began treating me according to my symptoms and as the result of many tests which gave clues as to what was going on with me:

Insulin resistance (the step before pre-diabetes), leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, vitamin D and B deficiencies, possibly an auto immune disease (maybe Hashimoto’s or Pernicious Anemia), environmental and food sensitivities.

After pigging out on my last box of Cheez-Its, I immediately began an allergy elimination diet: no dairy, no grains, no fruit (except lime and lemon), no nuts, no vinegar (I was taking Braggs apple cider vinegar daily, but she thought it might cause candida issues), no nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peas, potatoes, peppers, beans (except green), pimentos, paprika – there is a good post to explain this here.), no sweetener (not even stevia).  Doc said that anything that tastes sweet affects insulin, so that includes most fruit and even stevia.

You might ask, “What’s left?!”  The good news is that I could have: grass fed/antibiotic free meat, fish, most veggies, and healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, pure coconut milk/cream, olive oil). 

After a month of eating just the list I mentioned, I was able to begin adding in one food at a time.  Dr. Laura wanted me to introduce a food, wait three days (because there can be a delayed reaction) and reintroduce the food and wait another three days.  Assuming everything goes well, that adds up to one new food each week.  Knowing this wouldn’t be a quick fix, I asked Doc, “So will I be feeling much better in a few months?”  To which she replied, “A year and a half.”  God help me!!

Symptoms

Some friends ask, “What were your symptoms?”  It’s easier to say, “You name it!” because there were so many.  But, I will take time to list many of them right here and now:
  • Debilitating fatigue
  • Foggy brain (can’t think straight and feel like there is something blocking my brain)
  • Itchy rash over most of my body
  • Insatiable cravings for sugar and carbs
  • Sudden and uncharacteristic outbursts of anger (especially after I ate sugar and gluten) – most of the time I would leave the room or suppress it, but sometimes I yelled at my kids
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Dimming eye sight
  • My whole body ached most of the time
  • Nausea
  • Throbbing eyes
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Trouble breathing deeply
  • Irregular cycles
  • Fingernails falling apart
  • Barely able to keep up with basic household duties
  • Insomnia
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Apathy
  • Arthritic pain in my hands
  • Numbness at times in my hands and feet
  • Sharp pains in my chest
  • Headaches
  • Inability to remember things
  • Crying and feelings of hopelessness
  • Stomach pain and trouble digesting food
  • Three miscarriages
  • Inability to be in crowds of people for very long
  • Thinning hair
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dizziness
  • Acne
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Etc.

Over the past few years I had gone to doctors and had only been diagnosed as gluten sensitive.  I knew there was more wrong with me, but nobody could figure it out.  Dr. Laura ordered an extensive blood test, urine test, and stool test (still need to do the saliva test).  The reason she thinks that I may have an auto-immune disease is because my symptoms are common to it and because many of my symptoms fell into opposing categories: for example, I had some strong hypo-thyroid symptoms, as well as definite hyper-thyroid symptoms.

My Menu

The first two months were so hard, as I detoxed from sugar and tried to adjust to eating differently.  To give you an idea of what I eat, here is a list of what a few days of meals looks like for me:

B: bacon, yellow squash

L: Lettuce, leftover chicken, olive oil

S: Coconut chicken: Chicken baked with a can of coconut cream, ginger, cumin, coriander, salt … on top of spaghetti squash

B: Bacon, cauliflower, olive oil

L: Purple cabbage, sausage (I take a lb. of ground pork and add a tsp. of each: nutmeg, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt
)
S: Hamburger wrapped in lettuce with tomato, bacon, sweet potato fries

B: Sausage, canned asparagus, olive oil

L: Kale, bacon

S: Homemade spaghetti sauce (once I could eat tomatoes) over spaghetti squash

B: Spinach/arugula mix, chicken, olive oil

L: Tilapia, salad steamed veggies, o.o.

S: Ham, canned green beans, o.o., basil, oregano

B: X

L: Salmon, yellow summer squash, o.o., coconut oil

S: Chicken, tarragon, brussel sprouts, olive oil

B: Chicken, zucchini, avocado, tarragon

L: Pork chop, lettuce salad, olive oil with lime, tarragon

S: Sausage, acorn squash, coconut oil

I try to cook the same for my family, simply adding a pot of rice, noodles, or biscuits for them to enjoy.

Reintroductions

I’ve been able to add back in: macadamia nuts, blueberries, strawberries, and tomatoes.  Blessings!  I’ve had a bad reaction to eggs, almonds, and of course gluten.  I am VERY SAD about the eggs.  We get free-range organic eggs from an Amish farmer, and my body does not like them.  I’m still trying to accept this fact and be grateful for the foods I can eat.

Doc said it can take three months to get dairy out of your system, so on September 19th I will be able to try grass-fed butter.  PRAYING that it works for me.  If so, I will get to try goat cheese and then yogurt.  It would be lovely to be able to enjoy these foods, if God says it’s okay.

Blessings and Road Blocks

God helped me take the boys to VBS in July.  That was a huge praise!  Forty-five minutes drive twice a day – God helped me do it, plus play the piano three times each day.  But, while Tim and the boys were camping for a few days, I got violently ill and had to be taken to the ER by my neighbor.  We still don’t know what caused that problem.

And since then we’ve figured out that something in our church building might be making me sick.  One Sunday night on our way home, after spending most of the time in the church basement, I felt like I couldn’t move, couldn’t stop crying, and could barely talk.  Tim had to help me into the house to my bed.  If I spend much time in the basement it seems worse.  So, for right now I am staying upstairs in the church building. Sigh. 

God wants me to slow down and change some things.  We weren’t able to go to family camp, and for that matter we can’t go very far from home at all right now.  I don’t know what He’s doing, but I can trust that it is good.

While I have seen relief from many of my symptoms, at times I feel very depressed.  I don’t have as much energy as I hoped I would have at this point.  There are good days and bad days.  I’ve definitely spent more time studying and listening to God’s Word.  I’ve asked God to help me, and He has sent people to encourage, show they care, and pray with me and for me.  It means SO MUCH to have a friend call just to see how I’m doing. 

He has also helped me locate a Christ-centered program to help me deal with my mind: 21 Day Brain Detox. I so appreciate Dr. Leaf.  She has the science combined with God’s word to explain how to Romans 12:1-2 – renew your mind.

What I’ve Been Learning

1.  Food was my idol. I’m still trying to fill in the gap that has been left by withdrawing my time, energy, and excitement (and pleasure of tasting and eating) trying new recipes and cooking fancy delicacies for my family.  I’ve been spoiled, and it is extremely sad when I cannot go out to eat or even to an ice cream stand.  God has taken this out of my priority list so that He is nearer the top!  Food is very much tied to socializing in our culture.  I already knew this, but it stands out even more now. It is challenging to meet with people and always having to bring my own food.  There are only two restaurants that are safe for me to go to (with no risk of cross contamination). 

2.  There is so much about the body we don’t understand.  I also knew this, but since nutrition and health have been my hobby for a few years, I had read tons of books on the subject.  And through this process I’ve been learning so much and know I have only scratched the surface learning about God’s incredible creation.  How could anyone believe all this evolved?!

3.  Don’t fight what God is doing.  A couple nights ago I was in such turmoil during the night (typical, but it had been escalating).  God lovingly showed me that I was angry with Him about my health, about my food limitations, and a few other things.  It is, of course, sin, to accuse Him of doing to me what living in this world cursed by sin has done to my body and mind.  Once I confessed my anger and He forgave me, I felt relief and relaxation drench my soul.  God has allowed this for a reason – a very good reason.  He knows that I need this experience to grow.  I am so thankful I can trust Him to go through this with me.

4.  My body likes eating this way Once a month had passed and my metabolism switched to fat burning instead of carb burning, my weight began to drop.  In about nine weeks I had lost 17 lbs.  It feels so good to be where I’ve wanted to be weight-wise for years!  Doc said this is not uncommon once you figure out a person’s food sensitivities and heal their gut.  I’m hardly ever hungry (don’t have that “gotta eat something”  hanging over me all day long).  I no longer feel like I need to sleep after each meal (not that I did sleep after every meal, but I felt like it).  It is wonderful to be able to let go of the extra weight in my life (not just physical, but mental, emotional, social and spiritual!) and to have a more focused view on God and what is most important in life.

5. There are many worse things in the world, but this is hard.  Sometimes I feel like I am in a prison.  I can’t take a break.  I cannot have a once a day treat, or a once a week treat, or even a once a month treat!!!  The first month I felt like I could kill for a piece of chocolate cake.  Thankfully no one was maimed.  And God has been graciously adjusting my taste buds, so I rarely weep over where I find myself.  Also, I have to remember, this will get better.  But, I must get used to a new normal.  I will never go back to how I was eating before.  At least once a week I think ahead to the marriage feast of the Lamb – and I am going to savor every bite (when I get there, no doubt the importance of food will fade even more in His presence)!

6.  Love.  Tim and the boys know that I love them when I make food for them that I used to enjoy.  They have shown such love and compassion!  Sometimes they hug me when I can’t hold back the tears, like last night when they had buttered popcorn and frozen yogurt.  They hugged me and told me how much they love me.  And when we sat down to watch Facing the Giants I knew I was loved while I munched on my sweet potato and bacon (which, by the way, was very satisfying).

7.  It helps to laugh The other night I was in Barnes and Noble, pouring over the healthy cookbooks.  I felt like crying because there were still so many things in THOSE that I can’t eat.  A man sitting nearby was groaning audibly as he looked in several diabetes cookbooks.  At one point he cried out in despair, “Bean patte?!?”  When I came home and told Tim about it, he understandingly replied, “And you felt like saying to him, ‘I would love to have bean patte!’”  Sometimes when I feel so discouraged, it is as though Jesus puts His arms around me and gently reminds me, “Sara, I never got to eat pizza, ice cream, or chocolate either.”  And we laugh together – awww, He is such a comfort!

What Now?

For those of you who are going through much harder things, I am so sorry for what you are going through.  I do know that God has a plan for your life as well as mine, and we can trust Him!  Wouldn’t it be delightful to be able to get a diagnosis, pop a pill, and be all well?  Or maybe for you … to find a husband, to have a child, to see wayward family members come to Christ, to get relief from your grief, to get money to pay those bills, and be all better?  God is constantly using the struggles of life for one purpose: to draw us to Himself.  And when He has our attention we can either fight back and reject the priceless lessons He is trying to teach us, or accept and draw near to Him.

Today is the first time I’ve felt like writing in months – so, maybe this is a sign I am healing?  I hope that what I am writing makes sense.  I write to answer the many questions my small circle of family and friends have asked me, and in case my scribblings about all this may help someone in similar circumstances.

Please contact me if you would like information about resources.  I’d recommend you begin with the book Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg.  This book is informative and well documented.

I would love to hear from YOU.  And until next time … will you please enjoy a bowl of ice cream for me (better yet, pray for me)?

Joyfully His,
Sara

“My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart 
and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73:26

Celebrate God’s Goodness With Miriam


“The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; yes, I have a good inheritance.” Psalm 16:6

Come on in … would you like a cup of tea or coffee?  Our special guest today is Miriam Jones Bradley.  I have been blessed to call her my friend ever since we were roommates in college.

Miriam is an encourager through and through.  She is a writer who loves God with her whole heart and is completely committed to the mission to which He has called her. 

Women On God’s Mission is one stop on Miriam’s blog tour, in which she is giving testimony to God’s goodness.  I also invited Miriam to introduce to you her newest book: All I Ever Needed: A Legacy For Life (picture and link below). 

Sara: Welcome, Miriam!  Now I know you are a great story teller, but no crazy stories from our college days today, okay?!  Although, I’m sure we could write a book, especially about the experiences on our mission trip to Hungary and Romania.

Miriam:  Oh, my!  I don’t remember too many crazy stories, but we did have a very special room that year.  That mission trip was something I’ll never forget.  The other day I ran across a photo of the two of us climbing a ladder to get into the apartment while our guide held it steady.  Do you remember that? 

Sara:  Ha!  Now that you mention it, I do remember being locked out.  I remember some humorous situations but also the way God worked in our lives as we visited and ministered in several village churches.  At one church we met a former communist guard who cried when he told us of his salvation through Jesus Christ.  Incredible.

Mirm, I love your newest book, All I Ever Needed: A Legacy For Life.  Thank you for sharing treasures from your life in this memoir!  I am so blessed to see how God has “Romans 8:28” written through the pages of your life.  My heart was warmed by memories of your parents, grandparents and other family and church members.  Please tell us about your mission and how God has been at work in your life recently.

Miriam:  My mission is simple.  I want to encourage people of all ages to realize they can be whatever God wants them to be.  Until now, I have done this primarily through children’s ministry and writing children’s mysteries.  This year I expanded and recently released a book for grown-up children!

In January I chose the word “TRUST” as my word for the year.  I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with giving up control and trusting God.  As if I am every really in control, or could do a better job than He does.  Duh, Miriam.

Sara:  I struggle with that, too.  God is extremely gracious and patient with us.

Miriam:  As I compiled, edited, and wrote pieces for the book I became increasingly aware of the impressive job God did in arranging my life, most notably the people who surrounded me.  This in turn bolstered my trust in God.  As I see what He has done in the past I gain confidence for the future.

The Jones Family

But what about now?  Does He still arrange things?  I think so!  For instance, my aunt called the other day. “Miriam, I’m reading your book for the third time.  I find new things every time and I’m enjoying how it helps me get to know you better.”  She continued by telling me that she woke up in the night and was thinking about the book and then she remembered something, another book.  One that belonged to my mother.

Mommy and Me – 1972

When I was ten, my mother died suddenly and unexpectedly.  It was a life-changing and defining event.  When my grandparents left after the funeral, Daddy sent her notebook with them.  Mommy’s notebook is a collection of poems, sayings, songs, and quotes on a variety of subjects.  I had to make a file when I was in college.  This was my mother’s file and through the years she added to it.  She added notes from messages and seminars.  She added notes of presentations she gave to ladies groups with her own handwritten comments in the margins.  Notes of memories.  Notes scribbled over by a child who was practicing the letter “M” a lot.

My aunts decided that I should have this notebook.  So, a couple of weeks ago my husband and I drove to Georgia where we scanned the pages into the computer and I brought the notebook home.



My Mother’s Book


Sara:  Miriam, I have goose bumps.  How happy your mom would be to know that you now treasure her treasures.  Some day you can tell her all about it!

Miriam:  This book has been an unexpected gift.  You see, as long as I can remember I’ve been told I look like my mother.  It’s something I’ve always been proud of since I believe my mommy was beautiful, inside and out.  I also suspected that I was like her in many other ways.  Through this notebook I’ve learned that it’s true.  Not only do I look like her, but we also share a way of seeing the world and expressing ourselves. 

I’m thankful the notebook wasn’t remembered until after I wrote my book.  I never read her notes beforehand, so the similarities I see are – well, just the way we are.  What a gift!  And, one more way to see that God can be trusted to give us what we need, when we need it so we can accomplish our own specific mission. 

Sara:  What a story!  God specializes in showing us His love and wisdom in the most powerful and endearing ways.  I stand in awe and praise God with you.  I know your mom would be so proud of you and thankful to God for the woman you have become! Thank you, Miriam, for joining Women On God’s Mission for coffee today.

g
Miriam’s book is such a joy – I highly recommend it.  Each short chapter stands alone, while together weaving a beautiful testimony of God’s grace.  I love it because, in addition to the poignant and at times humorous memories, Miriam brings out spiritual nuggets she has learned from each and every story she shares.  Be sure to have a box of tissues handy!  This book would be an excellent gift for your mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, sister, aunt, daughter, granddaughter, niece, pastor’s wife, teacher, neighbor, and friends. 
 
 
 

If you would like to know more about how to obtain your own copy of Miriam’s book, click on the following link:

Good-bye, Dr. Miller

June 2012 – Dr. and Mrs. Miller joined us for a picnic

This weekend we are saying good-bye to a dear friend.  Dr. Miller was our chiropractor for nearly eight years.  But, he was so much more – he was a kindred spirit, a true friend, my teacher (he taught me a lot about the human body and nutrition), and he was like a grandpa to me and to our boys.

Last night we were shocked and deeply saddened to find out that our dear Dr. Miller died suddenly on New Year’s Day.  He had been struggling with bronchitis, we’ve been told, for about three weeks.  On Tuesday he called his secretary and asked her to cancel his Wednesday appointments.  He felt terrible and was heading to the hospital.  But, before they were ready to go, he collapsed at home.  His wife called 9-1-1 and the paramedics tried desperately to revive him.  They tried again at the hospital, but he was gone. We learned today that he had an irregular heartbeat, and perhaps the bronchitis didn’t allow enough oxygen to get to his heart.  His dear old body gave out, and his spirit was released into eternity.

I can’t believe that I can no longer call him.  It’s beyond my comprehension that I can’t go to him for help.  At a few points during the past eight years we had to visit him frequently.  Thankfully, the past six months Tim and I have been feeling better, needing fewer adjustments. Dr. Miller wasn’t like many chiropractors who try to get you in as often as possible.  Whenever he would work on my back, my shoulder, my foot, or my neck, he would teach me what I could do at home to strengthen my body so I wouldn’t have continued problems.  While he was trying, in a sense, to lose a patient – he was gaining a friend.  I learned so much from Dr. Miller.  And he enjoyed learning things from me, too.  Since one of my hobbies is nutrition, we would swap bits and pieces we’ve been learning lately; even sharing books back and forth.

Dr. Miller went with us through two pregnancies and three miscarriages. Whenever I felt discouraged, he would speak words of peace to me. He wasn’t just a back doctor; he also ministered to the heart and mind. He and his staff became part of our family, and we knew we were part of theirs.

About a month ago, around Thanksgiving, I tripped and my body went out of alignment.  (He used to laugh when people would come in and say, “I’m out of whack!”  He’d reply, “So, am I supposed to put you back in whack?!” :)).  I was in terrible pain with my left shoulder out of it’s socket.  And try as I might to put it back in place like Dr. Miller had taught me, it just wouldn’t budge.  So, I called and made an appointment.

When I got there, Dr. Miller looked happy as usual to see me, along with my boys.  He said, “I looked at your file and I can’t imagine why you’re coming in since you were just about perfect at your last visit.”  He tested my arm strength and put my shoulder back in place.  He went over the arm strengthening exercises again, just to make sure I was doing them correctly.  As usual he seemed a little sad when it came time for us to go.  Before we left, the boys gave him their gifts: two little dum-dum suckers transformed into tiny turkeys with the help of coffee filters, string, construction paper, and glued on googly eyes.  He asked, “Oh, what are these?”  One boy quickly told him, “They’re turkeys, and you can either eat them or use them as decorations.”  Dr. Miller smiled at the boys and declared, “I’m going to put them on my Christmas tree!”  I shook his hand and said, “Thank you!  Merry Christmas!” and smiled one last time into those kind eyes that crinkle in the corners.

I am so thankful that I tripped and couldn’t fix my shoulder myself.  I thank God that I was able to visit Dr. Miller one last time.  If I had known it was the last time, I would’ve given him a big hug and told him how much he and his help meant to me and my family.  I’m sure he knows we loved him – and I am certain he loved us.

We waited over an hour in line at the funeral home for visitation tonight.  Among the crowd were Amish people – he would take his instruments and travel to serve the Amish about once a month.  There were tons of friends he’d made through his antique car club, patients, co-workers, church friends, and many family members.  I felt so honored to meet his little mother, who can’t hear and is about 100 years old.  I hugged her and cried.  She told me, “I kept asking him when he was going to retire, and he said he didn’t want to retire because he loved helping people.”  She sat near the casket.  Near her little boy.

I am one of many who are going to miss him.  Even though he had a long list of friends, I knew I was special to him.  He knew how to care for my body, and he knew how to make me smile.  I know he loved God, and I believe he had at some point trusted in Jesus as his personal Savior.  So, I look forward to seeing my dear Dr. Miller again in heaven someday.  Good-bye, my dear friend.

Thank You, God, for letting me know Dr. Miller.  He was such a blessing to our family.  Please comfort his wife, his mother, and the rest of his family.  Please help me learn from his example and be an encouragement to others like he was.  Thank You!  In Jesus’ name, amen.

Ten "Going Crazy" Tips

“Call the Funny Farm!”  Not if, but when is the last time you were in a position of confusion, exhaustion, discouragement and/or grief, and you felt someone must quickly provide emergency intervention?  If you’re like me, it was as recent as yesterday or this morning. Stressful moments, from mildly irritating to incredibly difficult, come to all of us!  They can sneak up as a complete surprise.  They can also be predictable.  Can you relate to some of these?

  • Full schedule
  • Homeschooling (especially on wet or cold days after we’ve been inside for too long!)
  • Times of transition
  • Weddings
  • Holidays
  • Illness or injury
  • Hormones
  • New member in the family
  • A time of loss
  • Financial strain
  • Job tension
  • When disappointed by people or circumstances
  • When we sin against or disappoint people 
  • When we receive bad news
  • Reorganization at work or church
  • During a move/remodel
  • Etc!

How do you deal with your craziness? It really is a good thing that our lives aren’t completely trouble free.  If they were, where would our need be for God?  You’ve probably heard these before, but I’m praying that God will use something here to encourage you, dear Sister!  Here are a few of my favorite “Crazy” tips:

1.  Rest

As soon as possible do whatever it takes to get much needed rest.  My two boys, six and four, are pretty much beyond naps.  Yet, we still have a 1 1/2 hour reading/quiet time in the middle of the day.  It is helpful for everyone.  My six-year-old actually looks forward to it!  If you are anything like me, everything seems much worse when I am overly tired.  And my exhaustion can be a sign that my priorities are out of kilter.  My doing too much can be attibuted to my own pride. 

Whenever necessary (not more than once per day :)), get your kids occupied with a good video and go to your room, close the door, put on your MP3 player or a good set of earplugs, lay flat on the floor and stretch your arms above your head while breathing in and out slowly.  Here is one of my helpers:

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.” Psalm 127:2


2.  Eat

It really can be as simple as taking time to nourish ourselves.  My tendency is to crave chocolate and potato chips, but these usually make me feel worse.  At the risk of sounding like your mother, eat well and drink lots of water.  Grill some chicken, make a salad, grab an apple.  Go through a drive-thru and buy a salad if you can afford it.  Indulge in the food you are craving, if you must.  But, don’t go overboard, and don’t resort to splurging as a daily escape from reality.  Popcorn is a calming snack, as is a banana.  I love it that when Elijah was tired, afraid, and discouraged God did not berate him and condemn him.  God isn’t condemning us: let us not condemn ourselves.  Enjoy some of God’s good gifts – eat!

“Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan.  And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.’” I Kings 17:2-4


3.  Remember you are in a spiritual battle.

Too easily I forget that I am a soldier in a spiritual war.  I’m sure that my forgetfulness, and the ensuing consequences, makes Satan very happy.  We should expect daily battles!  You think your temptations regarding food isn’t part of your spiritual battle?  What was Eve’s first spiritual battle about?  Yet, what we are really fighting against is far more gigantic than people, circumstances or food:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age” Ephesians 6:12


Would we go to the hottest site in Afghanistan unarmed?  No way.  Give me the largest tank and a wide selection of the most accute bombs available.  So then, how can we expect to face spiritual battles unarmed?  There is no option here.  We must eat, we must breath, we must be in God’s Word!  Especially during days of pressure, weakness, doubt, and possible depression, begin the day by putting on the armor of God, by reading and praying through Ephesians 6:10-20 (you can read it by clicking on the link below):


And, remember, we are on the winning side.

“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” I John 4:4

We must take time to read God’s love letter to us and . . .

4.  Pray

We cannot begin to estimate the power of talking to God.  Pour out your heart to Him!  If writing is your thing, grab a pen and paper or a computer and write your prayers to God.  It will help you to get it out of your system and leave it with the One Who has the power to work 24/7 for your good and His glory.  If you write it down it will also help you gain perspective on your problems.  How precious that our almighty God took on flesh and came to this wicked world.  He cried our tears, sharing our sorrows:

“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15,16


5.  Talk to a godly friend. Ask for help! 

One of the highlights of Sunday is talking briefly with a friend at church about how we can pray for one another throughout the coming week.  And I can’t remember the number of times I have sent emergency emails or Facebook messages to ask sisters to pray for me.  It is an immediate relief to be reminded that we are not alone.  Don’t worry that you will be bothering someone (unless this is the 5th time you’ve called them today!). 

I do want to stress GODLY friend.  Not perfect (there aint any!), but growing.  Who is a godly friend?  One who is going to love you, show you grace, not judge you . . . but, also someone who is going to tell you the truth and not just what you want to hear.  Call the friend who listens, cares, and points you to Jesus.

We recently heard Todd Wilson, of FamilyMan Ministries, speak to our local homeschool parents group.  He spoke of a woman who called his wife and asked if she could come over to talk to her.  They started with small talk, but soon the conversation got deeper.  The visiting woman, one of whom Todd said we would all look at as the ultimate godly woman, quoting Scripture and giving glory to God, shared a personal hurt with Todd’s wife.  She told of a time two years before when she had been studying her Bible and her little girl kept interrupting and trying to get Mama’s attention.  The woman grabbed her little girls wrist too hard and broke it.  Since then the mother had been in agony.  As she shared her burden with this godly friend, she was able to breath and move on.  Todd’s wife didn’t condemn her, but instead told her things like, “Oh, I am so sorry!  Any one of us could’ve done the same thing!  I know you didn’t mean to do it.” (Todd even humorously admitted wanting to share some personal experience/not-so-good advice, “I understand . . . I’ve often felt like I wanted to break every bone in my child’s body!”)  Finally, this Christian sister was able to move on with her life.  Sometimes we just need to confess our mistakes or sins to a godly friend.

“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16

6.  Forget the past and move on. 

If your stress has to do with your past (twenty years ago or yesterday), God wants you to forget it and move one.  If you need to apologize, write the letter, make the visit, or pick up the phone.  Even if people are hesitant to forgive.  God is always ready to forgive us!

If you have been sinned against and are constantly plagued by bad memories, practice giving these burdens to God – the more you do it the easier it will get to give them over to Him and not grab them back.  If you are obsessing, ask God to change your mind and literally get up and move into a different room and do a different activity.  A Christian counselor recommended this when I was obsessing about death after a close call, and it really helped me.  It is so refreshing when we can look forward to the future, entrusting our past and our future to God’s excellent care!

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14


7.  Plan something to look forward to. 

We women have the privilege of serving the people in our lives: cooking, cleaning, driving people to appointments, cards, listening, etc.  But we get worn out and need to be recharged.  Get out your calendar and look for the first free space – plan a date with your husband or a friend.  If other people are too busy, plan a date for yourself – go out and get a coffee or ice cream, read a favorite book, sit by a beautiful lake and soak in God’s beauty.  And do it without feeling guilty!  God gives good gifts to His children!  He gave Jesus so that we can live more abundantly.

“And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.  So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.” Mark 6:31-32


8.  Claim your blessings. 

Reminiscent of Ann Voskamp’s wonderful book One Thousand Gifts, simply sit down and start writing down all the things you have to be thankful for.  Your list of “bad things” is much smaller than the “good things” . . . and you’ve probably realized why I set apart “good” and “bad” to remind us that our point of view is terribly limited.  What may seem bad to us may be what God is going to use to do amazingly good things in our lives.

Ask God to help you be thankful for where you are right now, including all the yucky stuff.  He can and will give strength to help us be genuinely thankful for trials. All we need to do is ask and wait on Him.  God highly treasures our sacrifice of praise.

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15

9.  Cry and Breathe

Just a couple days ago I let it all out in my room, boo-hooing and doing some much needed grieving.  I felt so much better afterward. Crying purges!  It rids our bodies of toxins. Crying is part of what God has given to help us release some of the pent-up emotional pressure.  These verses are probably familiar to you, so I want to share them in a translation other than the NKJV to give another perspective.

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 (NLT)


If you are not a cryer, take a brisk walk, work out, release that stress somehow (and I don’t mean hurling a pan over your husband’s head!).  And as our sweet more mature friends gently remind us, “This too shall pass.” 

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

10.  Pick One

Think of five people you know who are going through a trial right now (not including yourself).  Plan how you, or you along with your family, can do something simple and special for him or her. 

If you have a neighbor who just broke her arm, offer to rake her leaves.  If you have a friend who just went through surgery, take a meal or a happy balloon over with a favorite coffee.  Fresh flowers can be an extravagant gift making people feel loved, but most women I know prefer plants that aren’t going to die (unless they have thumbs not even close to the color of green and are thankful that after a short while their flowers die naturally 🙂 ).

I have a friend who has been suffering with depression. Just a phone call meant the world to him and helped him to be brave enough to seek the help he needed.  I praise God that He used little ol’ me to help a brother in need, and at the same time get my mind off my own troubles.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

I hope something in this list will help you during this crazy time of life!  The best thing to remember as women on God’s mission, we are not alone, and God is lovingly continuing the good work He started in us.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'” Isaiah 41:10
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”  Philippians 1:6

Autumn Reflections

Last Sunday afternoon we drove to a nearby park to take in the autumn splendor. One son was at a birthday party, so we took the opportunity to enjoy an adventure with our four-year-old. In the middle of the park is a twenty-seven acre lake. It beckoned and we followed.

This lake is unique because of the seven bridges, some over 100 years old, which were transplanted from various locations around our state. 

One bridge stood out to me. I was surprised to discover that the bridge’s original purpose was to be the support structure for the top of a building.   Because it didn’t meet specifications, the builders threw it away. Later on it was discovered by someone with a vision for what it could be. If this bridge had a brain, it never would have imagined ending up here. God knew that this bridge wasn’t a mistake! He allowed a man to find and place it in this majestic setting.

As we approached the bridge and followed it from beginning to end, we were impressed by it’s rustic beauty. We were very grateful for the bridge’s help as it made it possible for us to walk all the way around the lake. Yet, the focus of our attention and praise was not the bridge. We were captivated by the incredible beauty of God’s creation all around us.

The bridge originally destined for the top of a building

These bridges remind me of how God works in my life.   My dreams sometimes clash with reality. God created me for different roles in life, and sometimes He uproots me to a different location. I cry, “But, I thought you wanted me to be here, to do this!”   He lovingly carries me, reassembling me in my new place of service. And miraculously, to me, I fit into His plan.

And my imperfect past was not a mistake.  God used people, places, and Himself to make me who He wants me to be.  He can use me wherever He places me.  And I will not be here alone – He promises to stay with me all the time.  Like the bridge, my purpose is not to captivate people, bringing attention to myself.  I am part of what helps make it possible for people to see God.
This autumn has been one of the prettiest in recent years. The colors feed my spirit. The crisp breeze, warmed by the Indian Summer sun, nourishes my soul. In the midst of this beauty my weary heart cannot help but smile. At times I feel insecure during life’s constant state of transition.  This is what keeps me depending on God instead of myself.  As I take my hurts and disappointments to my Savior, He promises to comfort and bless.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
Are you grieving a life that is different than what you had hoped it would be? Are you confused about what God is doing in your family, schedule, body, job, church, etc.?  Grieving is not wrong. It is part of the way God made us. But, our grieving must not keep us from moving ahead with God. He hears the cries of our hearts, He understands, and He is working what is best. He can be trusted.
As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Psalm 18:30
Father God, please help us to be thankful for where You have placed us, and may our lives help others see You in all Your splendor.

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14

Father’s Day Reflections

Tonight my breath caught in my throat as I noticed a bright rainbow just out my back door.  It was positively glowing!  I’ve never seen the violet ribbon so brilliant.  As it expanded into a double rainbow, I could hear my children ooo-ing and ahh-ing from their bedroom window, talking back and forth with their Daddy about what a rainbow means.  Hearkening back to our father in the faith Noah, God our Father keeps His promises, of course.

This spring my Dad designed a little
house for his grandsons.
Tim and our boys enjoyed helping out!


This Father’s Day weekend I am eternally grateful to God for a Dad who loves Him and loves his family.  Some of my favorite memories with my Dad include: when we went camping, going to church, walking the mall and him stopping occasionally to buy me a rope of licorice, bike riding, eating mulberries, him teaching me how to drive a tractor on the farm, horseback riding, chuckwagons in Colorado, and the countless times he listened to me practice the piano, clapping after every song! 

And now I am blessed to be married to a man who is a good husband and a great father.  I am unspeakably thankful that my husband is someone I can respect and trust with my children.  He loves playing with them, listening to them, chasing and tickling, singing with them . . . my cup overflows.

I love this old picture of Tim
and the boys!


Maybe you feel that while others enjoy rainbow memories and relationships, yours have been or are stormy.  Perhaps your dad wasn’t the loving kind.  Instead he wounded you and wrecked your childhood.  What pain and agony!  Perhaps you are single and longing for someone to build a family with, but God hasn’t brought him along, yet.  I remember the ache.  Or, you may have seen your prince charming fall off his horse and land in the kingdom of another princess.  There is no one to love you or the children you had together, and your weary heart is broken.

While human beings fall short in sympathy, God understands what we think and feel.  When His children are hurting, He hurts, too.  And He is closer to us than breathing. Just like the rainbow I saw tonight which followed scary lightening and ominous clouds,  God will help us through the storms of life – He is the safe place of eternal love and forever rainbows.

The following verses are familiar to many of us, but let’s take a few moments to soak in them once again.  Just like sinking our toes into a plush carpet, munching on a warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie, coming home and smelling freshly baked bread . . . let’s come home to our Father and bask in His love today.

Our Perfect Father 

“For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:11-14

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

“… your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8b

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:7-8,11

“Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:36

“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ …” Ephesians 1:3

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!”  I John 3:1

“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.” I John 4:14