Hobbies and Health?

Uncategorized

Opposites. My little sister and me. I’m three years older and yet I’m much shorter. She’s dark haired and olive complected, I’m fair and freckled.

I adore Tex-Mex food, she hates it. (What?! Are we really related?)

Our hobbies unite us. Okay, we’re sisters and we love each other to death. But we have a blast with our common interests and sometimes learn from each other’s hobbies.

Sisters

Sisters

For example, she is an avid coin collector. She has an insane knowledge of coins and history of coins.

At first I thought: Snoozeville… But I enjoy history and she’s teaching me a thing or two. Plus I like her passion.

What relaxes or energizes you? Designing, watersports, reading, playing, cooking, organizing, skating, or knitting, perhaps?

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Hobbies are crucial to our health, wellness, and overall well-being. If you think you don’t have time for a hobby, then you probably REALLY need to get some. Just sayin.

Here’s an article from our Facebook page with more on hobbies from stress.about.com: Importance of Hobbies for Stress Relief.

Hobbies are FUN! We spent a relaxing Friday night coloring while watching the recorded GOP debate. Partaay. Now that is how an introvert likes to spend her Friday night!

ICYMI: Repost from WholeRai.com 2015

cat image source: pinterest.com

Confessions of a Prodigal Mom

God

Venting the ugly stuff. We all have moments or times of less than beautiful thoughts that flow into emotion.

Who do you tell your most hideous, soul-bearing junk to? When your gut feels tied into knots, or your thoughts and feelings are more complex than a knot of hair that’s got gum stuck in it…

I pour out my heart to God. Cry the ugly cry that has more snot than tears. A guttural cry that comes from the deep place.

The sobs that rack my body, they overwhelm me and it feels like I’ll never stop, yet it’s over just a few minutes later.

I’m spent, yet raw with emotion. I find relief, knowing that He already knew the hurt, the frustration, the sadness that was there.

He didn’t need me to tell Him, but when I did, a knotted place in my soul emptied out and made room for hope.

My mind cannot comprehend His vastness, His great love, or what He could possibly be accomplishing through my life, and yet I know for certain that there is something.

This is my psalm to Him. Crying out, emptying all of my angst to Him, then looking up with expectant hope.

Yes, there is joy amidst the sorrow. For He is good.

 

Strabismus surgery

God, Uncategorized

I’m having eye surgery tomorrow. So what, you ask?

  1. Please pray for me and for my surgeon for a successful outcome.
  2. This is an opportunity for me to be a voice for the goodness of God, even when circumstances aren’t so good.

For 3-4 years now, my vision has been impaired. Often times I cannot drive or do my regular activities because of it. Even so, I believe NOW, more than ever, that God is faithful and good.

One year ago, my eye doctor said that the impaired eye muscle was inoperable. This spring it has healed to an operable state, and I’m a good candidate for the strabismus surgery that I’m having tomorrow.

Did you catch that? God, in his infinite wisdom, has answered my prayer for healing. From inoperable to operable.

What are you praying for and waiting for God to answer?

Will you trust in His goodness if He doesn’t answer the way that you are asking?

Whether my vision is impaired or not, God is seated on His throne.

Whether my vision is impaired or not, He is loving and merciful.

Realistically, I shouldn’t even be alive, much less having a full and incredible life with people I love and an annoying vision/migraine problem.

Yet here I am.

Photo on 3-30-16 at 9.21 AM

Here I am, alive, in spite of destructive choices, addictions, in spite of trying to kill myself when I was young, and years of depression.

All because of Jesus and His mercy to save me and free me.

I’m praying that the strabismus procedure will be successful and that I can ditch the glasses for good.

But even if not, I will still praise and worship the great God who loves me and gave His life so that I could be saved and free.

Not problem free, but free from bondage. We may never be problem free.

If your circumstances don’t ever line up the way that you desire, do you believe that you can have the abundant life that Jesus offers us?

 

3 things running has taught me about discipline

truth

3 things running has taught me about discipline

If you ask me, running 13.1 or 26.2 miles is a little crazy. I’m not a total weirdo…the only reason that I started running 14 years ago was that I was bored with cardio machines. But training for these runs has taught me some great truths about discipline that applies to all of life!

If you’re not a runner, you can still glean insights from this, but without the sweat and pain! 🙂

Here are my top three:

1.To accomplish hard stuff (like running a half marathon), you have to do some hard stuff. This is for real. There’s a reason that only about 1.9% of the population has run a half-marathon this year. (source)  And only .05% have run a full marathon. (source)  The reason is that it’s hard. 

Long runs in sweltering summer months are brutal. Sweat pours down your forehead and into your eyes; it stings.You swallow gnats while running. When there’s no bathroom in sight, and you’ve gotta go, you (ahem) improvise. Sometimes it’s just hard.

2. Running a marathon or half marathon requires sacrifice. Training runs often start long before dawn breaks. It’s not always easy to go to bed early on Friday nights to get up for a 6:00am ten or longer mile run on a Saturday morning.

3. The sacrifices made now will pay large dividends later. Here’s an example: Last Sunday was the race day for the Houston Half-Marathon. I knew that I’d be running 13.1 miles. However, on my regular shorter training day, my running partner couldn’t join me.

Words can’t express how much I didn’t feel like going on my own. In fact, a slow and heavy sense of dread covered me. Here’s what got me out there to do it…I knew that the race on Sunday would be affected if I didn’t do my regular training run. In other words, I wasn’t running for Thursday as much as I was running for Sunday’s results.

THIS is my very favorite thing about running and the most important truth about discipline that running has taught me. I decided to push through the dread and the not-wanting-to and did it anyway!

Plus, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as completing a long run when you just didn’t feel like it. This is true for all disciplines. You don’t have to WANT to do it, or FEEL like doing it. However, if you do it ANYWAY, you’ll reap the benefits!

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Long runs have their benefits! Quiet and beautiful sunrises like this one.

 

 

 

 

Healing prayers

God

Have you ever prayed for healing? Maybe you asked God to heal you, or a loved one.

Whether it was a silent plea to what felt like the air, or universe, or whether it was a prayer read aloud from the scripture, you can know that God hears and he cares.

Maybe you, like me, have battled disappointment with God.

If you have prayed earnestly and he didn’t answer your heartfelt requests, it can feel as if God has forgotten or forsaken you.

I know, as I’ve felt that way many times over the past several years.

Four years ago I began having a severe tremor that I’d never had before, and an increasing amount of terrible migraines. If I’m honest, I had never empathized with migraine sufferers before that. The searing pain along with sound and light sensitivity can be maddening and is debilitating.

Soon there were more symptoms. Electric type shocks in my hands and legs. Double vision that made it dangerous to drive, so my friends and kids began to drive me to do errands. My balance was off and I could be quite clumsy and have difficulty standing at times.

My family doctor and neurologist were terrific, although along the way I did see other doctors who implied that the symptoms may be psychological. Eventually, my husband went with me to the Mayo Clinic.

They prescribed a life-altering pair of glasses with a prism that helped correct the double vision. I couldn’t believe the difference and much of the time I could see clearly with the new prism glasses.

During all of this I did the fundamental things that I knew to do as a follower of Jesus. I had laid out my heart with God all of my unconfessed sin, and asked him to show me any sin I was unaware of.

I went to the elders of our church and asked them to anoint me with oil and pray for my healing as the Bible instructs us to do in James.

[James on prayer and healing]

Nonetheless, my healing didn’t come. For these years I wrestled with my beliefs of God. I had come to know God over a decade ago. I had begun to see his character through the scriptures and debunked many of the false ideas I’d had about who he really was.

I rightly began to believe that he is a good father and is always there, even when I don’t feel him or see him at work in my life. This reality stared right in the face of the reality that I wasn’t healed.

I knew and believed that God was able to miraculously heal me. Yet he hadn’t.

Enter disappointment with God. Self doubt and condemnation. Along with well-meant comments from others, this was a recipe for turmoil on my worst days. Did God forget about me? I know I deserve punishment for my sin. Is this as chastisement for something I’ve done?

A month ago I asked God again for healing. I felt a sensation, sort of a wave through my whole body. I shot up the question, “God, are you healing me?” and felt nothing else; heard nothing; sensed nothing.

Later that evening, I flipped my glasses up, then down. Up, then down. I was checking to see if my vision was healed. I wanted so badly for this to be the time. Yet I didn’t want the disappointment again. Nothing, no change.

I woke up the next morning blurry-eyed as usual. Although my vision wasn’t crystal clear, it was better without the glasses than with them! It’s been 5 weeks since then and my vision is still better! I’ve had a day when my vision was very blurry and doubled, yet it was still better without glasses.

Although I’ve still had an occasional migraine in the past five weeks, it is clear that healing is taking place in me. I stand on the truth of what Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said in essence when they were commanded to bow down to a statue of God or be thrown into a fiery blaze:

God is able to deliver us from any fiery trial. Even if he does not, he is still worthy of our praise and he is good.

[The king spoke to the three] “But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

(Daniel 3:15 and following, emphasis mine.)

This is a call to persevere in your prayers. God loves you and is concerned with what concerns you.

God is good. Whether he answers our prayers the way we desire or not, his character and heart for us is good and loving. We can’t see everything and understand God’s ways, but we can trust the ancient and relevant words he has given us in the Bible when we don’t get it.

God is listening. God loves you and wants you to turn from self-reliance to relying on him when you are weak.

He is able to deliver and heal, and if not, he is still good.

 

To read more of this story in context, click here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel%203&version=NIV

Walk by faith, not by sight

Christianity
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No more progressive lenses, I’m switching between readers and distance glasses.

Have you ever wanted to dance at a doctor’s office? Kiss and hug your doctor? Weep for joy with thanks and gratitude at your doctor’s office? Inside I wanted to, recently, but I could tell by Dr. Romero’s reserved demeanor that I should keep the displays of emotion to a minimum. I simply ended with, “Tell your wife to give you a big hug and kiss.” My happiness was because the doctor gave me a clear and concise explanation for the double-vision and migraines that have been troubling me for the past couple of years. I had a micro-vascular stroke during a severe migraine at that point in time (2.5 years ago) and it caused a palsy in the oblique muscle of my eye, resulting in double vision. Eureka! It all made sense now….

In more simple terms, a killer migraine caused a “short” in the nerve that goes to my eye muscle, causing it not to work properly, so that I now have double vision. That causes a vicious cycle of more migraines and other complications. I’m pretty happy with this news. It doesn’t really change the circumstances, but it does affirm what I’ve been telling doctors and everyone who will listen for quite a while now. My takeaway…we know our own body better than anyone. Except for our Maker. And boy, are we wonderfully and intricately woven together!

Walk by faith, not by sight. These words have a more profound meaning than ever before to me, because without my glasses, I see everything double! Even with my glasses, my eyes fatigue very easily and sometimes I can only do half of what I’d planned in a day. That used to really frustrate me and make me so mad. Kicking and screaming mad inside. Feeling sorry for myself mad.

Recently walk by faith, not by sight means when I don’t have sight, quite literally, because of fatigued eyes, I must rest. Rest can be active, you know. That’s something I’m learning. When I am not sleepy at all and it’s only 1:00pm in the afternoon, but my eyes must rest, I am forced to close them. I have choices in that moment. I can be really frustrated at my situation, and obsess on what I’m not able to do at that time, or I can simply take the time to be still.

It is well.

Attitude

vision

Funny how not seeing well is helping me to see some things better. My friend asked how I was seeing today, the kind of “How are you?” where she really wanted to know, and I told her that my vision isn’t good today. But I feel good and my outlook on life is good. It is well with my soul. I didn’t say that last part, but sometimes I say it out loud when asked how I’m doing.

Not because I want to be churchy or a throwback to an 1873 hymn (yes, I looked it up) but because it IS well with my soul. I get what Mr. Spafford meant as he penned these words. My circumstances are lame at times, as far as my eyeballs are concerned. I’ll have a couple of good days in a row when I can drive myself around in freedom, then a few bad days when I have migraines and have to call on friends to take me to work or errands. My short-term memory is almost always on the fritz. It annoys my family and it’s often embarrassing when people who don’t know the situation are repeating a conversation because I ask what looks like a stupid question. Again. Even so, it is well with my soul.

How can that be? I hate weakness. I am learning not to abhor it. I am uncomfortable being weak and helpless. But God is allowing me to be weak right now in this season of life. I choose to depend on Him in my weakness and allow Him to be my strength and my peace. If I didn’t do that, I would only be a very angry, bitter and sad, weak person. Instead, I am a weak and joyful person, being strengthened, day by day, and growing in perseverance.

Do you see the beautiful paradox? I am still weak. I am still sad. I grieve that I don’t have the “normal” carefree experience that I “deserve”. But because I choose to lean into Jesus daily, I am stronger than EVER because of him. He is my strength when I cannot do anything but cry and feel sorry for myself. He is my hope when I can’t imagine a future and don’t know what’s going to happen the next day with my plans. He is the one thing that I know of for certain in my life. That is why I can say, it is well with my soul.

Embrace Weakness

Jesus

Y’all may think I’ve gone a little crazy, but this is what I’m doing and it’s setting me free like never before. Embrace Weakness. This is upside down from the “pull up your bootstraps” mentality that is so prevalent in this culture. I tend to shun weakness and pretend that I don’t have any inadequacies. (chuckle) That is worth a loud snort because we all have frailties in our life.

My eyes aren’t working the way I want them to. As a result, I’ve had severe double vision for the past two and a half years. There are periods of time that I just can’t drive myself around to and fro the way that I’m used to. I have to call or text friends or ask my kids to take me to the grocery store, or to run errands, or to go to work. For a time, I was so fed up with asking people for help that I hired a college student as a driver for a couple of months. She is very sweet and was a blessing to us during that time. I wasn’t embracing my weakness. I was kicking and screaming and throwing a fit about it.

I kicked and screamed for about two years. I researched on the internet. I had several MRI’s, countless blood tests, doctor visits and went to the incredible Mayo Clinic. Suddenly, over the past few weeks, my vision is getting worse. My heart, however, is becoming more and more free. How? By embracing my weakness. I am weak. I can’t fight it. Well, I guess I can, but it’s just plain exhausting and fruitless. I have been angry at God, mad at my own body for betraying me and not behaving the way I want it to, and finally, I am done fighting.

I accept that I am weak. But Jesus is strong. He is my strength. I have tried to be strong my entire life and put up a persona of a strong woman, and I don’t have to do it anymore. It’s so relaxing and peaceful. Embrace weakness.

When I was a single mom of a little baby boy and had to prove to the world that I could do this, I was strong. When I was a young girl who was sexually abused and I promised myself I would never be a victim again, I was strong. I don’t have anything to prove now. I’m embracing my weakness, embracing Jesus and His peace. And it feels good.

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Finally, a diagnosis!

Lyme

A few weeks ago, I discovered that I have Lyme disease. Should you decide to google Lyme disease, you’re in danger of having a volcanic explosion inside of your brain.

chaiten-eruption-column

Yeah, kind of like that.

Lyme seems to be a hot topic for debate between the traditional medical community and alternative practitioners. Fortunately I’m seeing an MD who practices holistic medicine and thinks a little outside the box. My family practice doctor also happens to be a close friend so she is a great support and source of help, too. I’m doing a six month treatment for my Lyme (known as the Cowden protocol) that is not the traditional course of IV antibiotics. For now, I’m taking about 50 or 60 pills daily and tons of herbal drops. Ugghhhh.

I’m definitely an optimist, but I’m also going to tell you how it really is. Ugggghhh really suits how I feel about taking all of this nasty tasting stuff. Enough about that.

I feel very happy and hopeful about having some kind of diagnosis after a long time of vague, disrupting symptoms that inhibit my driving and exercising. I also feel as if the diagnosis isn’t “real” as not every practitioner would recognize my Lyme test results as a positive. The American CDC has particular guidelines about Lyme and different doctors interpret the test results according to different criteria.

My friend recently challenged me by asking, “So what you’re saying is that you’re not content with this diagnosis?” Ouch. I’m heading toward contentedness, but NO. I was not content. I wanted a black and white, definite answer. But I have prayed and I trust God to lead me toward the path He wants me to go on.  So even if this is a narrow path with some nay-sayers, I will forge ahead and take my pills and drink my drops. And I know that on this dimly lit path to healing, God will carry me when I am too weary or afraid to go forward.

***Update: After 3 months of alternative Lyme treatment, I did not get any better. As a result, I went to the Mayo Clinic and was told I do not have Lyme disease. That wasn’t a huge surprise based on what I’d read about Lyme and traditional medicine. I’m still forging ahead with treatment for severe occular migraines. I’m not 100% well, but doing significantly better.

Chasing a rainbow

God, Uncategorized

rainbow

First of all, I must declare that I love rainbows. This post isn’t slamming on them. But I’m finding that looking for answers to health problems can be like chasing an elusive rainbow.

My health has been really up and down for the past year and a half. No conclusive answers yet. There are lots of tests that I’ve done but nothing has yielded anything definite. I’m on this road trying to navigate through trusting God and searching for answers. He made me and knows exactly what is going on with my whacked-out neurological system. And yet the answer isn’t clear. While I’m trusting Him to lead me, sometimes I just want answers. Sometimes I chase hard after the rainbow looking for the prize, a diagnosis, at the end of the rainbow.

Sometimes I feel at perfect peace with my limitations. Sometimes I am tired of chasing the rainbow. Sometimes I look into various google searches for the elusive prize.

Most of the time I’m somewhere in between, and I just have to declare the truth aloud to myself. My body isn’t really mine, it’s God’s. He made it, He knows every nuance about it, and I can trust Him to provide answers when the time is right. I don’t have to tire myself and expend all of my resources or obsess on finding a diagnosis.

Now this I know:
    The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
    with the victorious power of his right hand.
 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
    but we rise up and stand firm.

Psalm 20:6-8