Saturday, June 25, 2016

Pursuit of Healthyness

   "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." 

I think one of the greatest, most isolating, frustrations with fighting a UC flare is that most people around you are unaware of the extent of the battle you're in.

I just keep feeling like Will Smith - and not just because I look like Hitch when he has an allergic reaction, thanks to my steroids - but in 'Pursuit of Happyness', as Chris Gardner. 

Every day is a struggle for survival.

Each day takes more out than it gives.
Each day throws more at him that knocks him down.
Yet, each day, he gets back up.
Each day, he finds new resolve.
Each day, he determines to get to the other side.

All the while, those all around him - both in passing and those with whom he interacts regularly - seem to have no idea of the struggle. The daily struggle. The battle to even remain where he is, let alone get where he wants to be. 

That's where I've lived for the better part of this year. (Since Jan 8, to be exact.)

2016 - The year of survival.

When you're in a flare, people can see the days that you're a mess. 
They can see when you're an emotional wreck.
They can see you lose exorbitant amounts of weight.
They might even see the frustration and despair on your worst days.

But, they have no idea of the struggle.

Thankfully, after nearly 6 months of fighting it on my own (and losing), I've finally been afforded a reprieve from this latest flare. But, even my 'healing' has come at a cost.

And I just keep hearing (from well-intentioned folks) "Well, I sure am glad you're better now. We were worried about you. You look so much better now; you've got some weight back on you and some color to you... That's awesome."

And I want to say... "But, I'm still such a wreck."

But, I don't want to sound like a broken record. Or someone just looking for attention or sympathy.

Yes, I managed to pack on 20+ pounds in about 2 weeks' time. 
But, I don't have any more strenth to carry it than I had to carry the 87 pounds.

Yes, I've gotten a couple decent tans that make me look healthier.
But, that's just my skin.

Yes, the steroids have managed my inflammation (and I am SO glad).
But, they have also caused me to retain so much fluid in my legs that by the end of some days, I can barely make it up my stairs. And they've made me look and feel like the Michelin Man. With juvenile acne. 

This weekend, I've experienced sharp pulsing pains in my feet, ankles and knees. Not sure why. May be due to my extended lack of vitamins and minerals. Or the drugs. Who knows.

I've still got a heart that feels like it's going to pound out of my chest; especially at night when I lay down.

I still have little to no energy or stamina. I typically have to sit down and rest a minute each morning, at some point, while getting ready for the day. From sheer exhaustion. This morning, I had to sit down after my shower, simply because I stood in there just a minute too long.
My body undoubtedly began to break down my own muscle as a means of obtaining any energy it could. How I now build that back... I'm not sure.

So, yes, I am fatter. And tanner. And SO glad to be able to eat again.

But, the battle isn't over. 

I'm still surviving each day.

One day, I hope to reach the other side. 

Until then... please just know, that the struggle is real. Even when it's not evident.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

71 days... But Who's Counting

 This is how long this current UC flare has lasted... so far.

And I'm tired.


People don't realize what a toll an IBD flare can have on someone.
In fact, there's quite a bit that people don't realize about Crohn's / Colitis, unless they've had to endure it themselves.

So, in an effort to spread awareness and shed a little light on these diseases (and maybe garnish just a little sympathy)  :)  ...

How the Ulcerative Colitis journey looks for me (though everyone's journey looks a little different):

I have been dealing with this chronic disease since January, 2004. Twelve years.
Thankfully, the first 10 years, I had a good run of maintaining on drugs that kept it under control. Every couple of years, eventually each drug would run its course and no longer be effective, but then I was able to just change meds and each subsequent one would work. Yay!

Until Fall, 2013.

By this point, all that was left was the heavy-duty, costly biologics; Humira, Remicaid and the likes. 
I have not yet been sold on their effectiveness outweighing the risks and side effects, and even in the best case scenario, I'd still just be buying time until they lost their effectiveness as well.
So, that's when I decided to take treating my colon into my own hands and adhering to a very strict SCD / Paleo lifestyle.

And it's worked remarkably well.
For a time.

Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how diligent you are, you can still find yourself in a flare. It's just the nature of the beast.

I had a good run. Over a year, meds-free, with no flare.
Until January 8th of this year.

Even though I had my ups and downs with UC since my diagnosis 12 years ago, I never fully understood the battle until I had to continue fighting a flare on my own, where meds had failed.

I have been bleeding (from my colon) for the better part of 71 days.

I think, oftentimes, people liken IBD (Crohn's / Colitis) to IBS, and though they do deal with the same part of the body, they are entirely different beasts. IBD is not simply having an upset stomach, as most people are familiar with. IBD is like having one or more volcanoes in your gut that erupt unpredictably and unmercifully, and during a flare - quite consistently. And with each eruption, your gut cramps up and instead of molten lava... blood.

And, this may be a little TMI, but in the spirit of full-disclosure and awareness ~ Just like a volcano builds up pressure, so these fissures build up air, which results in great urgency.

I never fully understood this before. When I was first diagnosed and read online about people lobbying for potty passes and talking about having an extra set of clothes with them, I thought they were just being dramatic. Now I know for myself. All too well.

The struggle is real. And relentless. There have been times when the bathroom door at work, which closes hydraulically, just about took 2 seconds too long to close before I could lock it behind me.

And during a flare, you can have these 'eruptions' up to 20 times or more a day.

This much blood loss often leads to anemia in IBD patients. 
Thankfully, this time around, I decided to supplement with iron, which has helped me tremendously, just to be able to function and not fall out during the day.

However, people tend to forget or just don't realize, that just because you look okay, doesn't necessarily mean that you feel okay.

The iron may be helping me pull myself out of bed in the morning, but I am still incredibly wiped out. One trip up my flight of stairs at home makes me feel like I've done an entire leg workout. I had several heavy bags of groceries one night and dropped my keys on the ground and I just looked down at them, wanting to cry. It took all I had to bend down with the groceries, pick up my keys and actually stand back up, with everything in hand. I may as well have been asked to take 12 steps in a Navy Master Diver uniform alongside Cuba Gooding, Jr. 

IBD flares don't only affect your gut. 

Due to my colon not functioning properly, my body is not absorbing the nutrients it normally would, that I need. I supplement with vitamins, but am still extemely depleted.
I have had countless foot cramps in the last couple of months. Undoubtedly, due to my lack of magnesium and potassium. And I feel certain that I'd have more energy if I retained more Vitamin B. 

Sleep deprivation is very common when in a flare. And not for a lack of being tired.

I had a couple nights this week, where I hardly got any sleep at all.
Wednesday night, the eruptions had me up every hour, on the hour. Nine times in nine hours.
Thursday night, I was a bit luckier; only up every couple of hours.
Let's just say, I live for the weekends at this point, to where I can just rest. And sleep, if needed.

And in the midst of all of this... I still have to cook. Daily.

The absolute last thing I want to do, after dragging through another day at work, is grocery shop. And cook. And clean dishes. And empty / load the dishwasher. Ugh. Let alone preparing and eating the same 5 foods that I have consumed for the past 70 days.
I would love some good comfort food. I still have an appetite. And all the same foods still look and smell and sound good. I just can't have them. Instead, I get to cook / eat one of 5 things. Again. Hamburger, Chicken, Zucchini, Sweet Potato or Bacon & Eggs. Ugh. What I wouldn't give for a Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit or a pound cake.

All of this to say... Please, if you know someone with Crohn's or Colitis, be merciful. 

Try not to judge their car that's long overdue for a washing. Or their floors that are long overdue for vacuuming. 
Try not to take it personally if they're cranky or moody. If their looks could kill or if they cry at the drop of a hat.
Try to refrain from phrases like "What's wrong with you? - Oh, you're still dealing with that?" or "What do you mean, you can't go _______ ?" "Do you have to be so strict on your diet? Can't you just splurge every now and again?" and my favorites "I didn't get the donut I wanted" and "What - donuts aren't on your diet?" (What the heck kinda diet do you know of that allows donuts?!) I swear, by the gods, if I had more energy, I would lay some people out for some of the stuff they say.

But, that's just the UC talking.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

I Should've Just Fasted from Facebook


It's my fault really.
I had considered fasting from Facebook from the past Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) until Easter. But, just out of complacency and feeling crappy healthwise, I hadn't pulled myself away.

Certainly not one of the reasons I would make a point to fast from social media during Lent, but nonetheless, it would've been helpful to miss out on the deluge of Valentine's Day posts. 

Pictures of couples, celebrating another monumental day together.
Pictures of babies dolled up in their Valentine's best.
Even pictures of heart-shaped pizzas and donuts. (Which doesn't help with my food deprivation either.)

Now, let it be known that even the few years I've had a 'Valentine', I've not been a big fan of the day. I'm one of those unconventional girls who would rather get a bunch of wild flowers on some random day than a dozen of red hot roses on the 14th, because the calendar (and Hallmark) advise you to. So, it's not (just) because I can be a litte jaded, being still single at 41. I just resent the whole day. I appreciate any kindnesses extended to me on Valentine's Day; it's just that it feels a little forced. And fabricated.

But, being as I am still single at 41... and still very much so would love to find someone I could share my life with... it's just another day to feel zeroed out. Marginalized.

It's not that I'm so disillusioned to believe that if I only had that one person, all would be well in my world. I understand that relationships are difficult. They take work. They challenge you. They break you. And that's even when everything goes right. 
I also realize that life happens. Spouses can get sick. Children can become troubled. Jobs can get lost. Houses foreclosed. And then there are in-laws.

I get that.

It's just that the older I get, the more it feels like I'm just an onlooker while everyone else is doing life.

I've always said it's not so much the number (age) that you hit; it's where you are (or aren't) in your life, when you hit that number. 
Up to 40, I always felt like I was missing out.
Post 40, I feel like I have missed out.

It's almost like everyone else my age is out there. They're doing life. Getting dirty. Sometimes getting knocked down. Busy. Tired. And from time to time, maybe even getting benched. But, they're out there. Together. Living. Learning. Cheering each other on. Together.
And the best I can do is watch and maybe cheer from the stands. 

No longer on the field with the 20-somethings. 
Yet not qualified to be on the field with the 40-somethings.

Not that Valentine's causes all these feelings. It just pronounces them. Pronounces that marginalization. 

And I realize that all this only means I'm giving way too much power to a silly little Hallmark generated holiday. But, there it is. And it's my blog, so I can cry (and whine) if I want to.

Whatever. I blame the fact that I can't have chocolate. Or wine. Or ice cream. Or cake. Or any other comfort foods. You try facing this holiday, alone, on a strict hamburger and zucchini diet.

That's what I get for not fasting from Facebook.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Let Your Desire for Growth be Greater than Your Fear of the Pain

As I mentioned in my earlier post about our "Next" conference, most all of us as Christians have 'stuff' to work out and work on, in order to press ahead for God has for us next.

And I just kept thinking of this video that Anthony Evans shared a few weeks ago. He's basically saying that he's been learning the same thing in his walk and surprisingly enough, his is the very same issue as most of the women at the conference confessed as holding them back: fear.

Once I got back from the conference, I went back to this video and watched it several more times. Then, finally just wrote it down to keep posted where I can be reminded of it and encouraged by it on a regular basis.

Things have to change.
I want the change.
My desire for growth is getting bigger than my fear of the pain of what growth looks like.
I love my comfort zone.
But, I'm not going anywhere.
I'm not growing.
The only way I'm gonna grow is if my desire for growth is bigger than my fear of the pain.
I'm facing things head-on and as I face them, what happens on the other side is so much greater than the fear.
This fear of pain has kept me from growth.
Fear and avoidance and comfort zones will never outweigh the reward you will feel on the other side of pushing through your pain.
Push through whatever you're afraid of facing and let your desire for growth be greater than your fear of the pain.


Okay. So, I've already been falling behind in my blog posting. I blame my UC flare, which has not let up in the least. 

BUT - was so thankful that I was able to make it up to Johnson Ferry Baptist Church once again this year, to hear Lisa Harper and Meredith Andrews.

This was our 3rd time joining Johnson Ferry for their annual Women's Conference. They always do such a great job. And it's just such a warm, welcoming bunch.

The theme this year, Next, was based on Philippians 3:14 - "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Forgetting what may lay behind you, but also dealing with anything that keeps you from pressing forward.

Their Women's Ministry leader, Marsha gave a great illustration.
She said one of her favorite things is to go to the spa. She typically gets a hot stone massage and it just helps her unwind and relax. So, not long before the conference, she made an appointment for her usual massage, to help her deal with all the tensions of planning such a huge event. And so, she soon found herself, laid down, face in the hole, prepared for a peaceful time of relaxation and pampering. Instead, she heard "I don't know how anyone can live like this." To her surprise, the massage therapist not only was not quiet, she was critically commenting on her left shoulder, which had grown quite tight. Marsha was taken aback. She said the therapist continued "We can go ahead and do the massage as planned... or I can work on this shoulder. But, it's going to be uncomfortable." Marsha laid there and thought "I just came in for some pampering." "But, I will tell you, if you don't get this shoulder worked on, it will only become tighter and harder to work out next time." So Marsha relented and had the shoulder worked on. And it hurt! Not the relaxing, peaceful time she'd looked forward to. But, she knew the work was necessary, going forward. "Now, you do realize that if you don't continue to work on strengthening this shoulder when you leave, it will only mean more work on it again later." After the therapist had begun the work, it was up to Marsha to continue the work.

So relevant to the Christian walk. Oftentimes, we have things in our lives that we must 'work out', in a manner of speaking, so we can better move forward.

We were each asked to write down what was keeping us from moving foward into what God had next for us. Their ministry team went through them all that night and prayed over each one. And the next morning, they reported that the overwhelming majority wrote that it was none other than fear that seized them and kept them from what God has in store.

I must admit, that was my answer as well. And it was comforting to know I was in such great company.

Now, to do the hard work of getting that fear worked out, so I can better strain for that goal ahead.

Meredith Andrews leading worship on Friday night.

Our very own 5ft Missy finally got to meet Lisa's awesome little spunky adopted Missy for the first time at the meet and greet after Friday's session. 

I love that this church is such a supporter and encourager of such great organizations! The past couple of years, they have supported My Sister's House, a safe place for women and children in the Atlanta area. 
This year, they have been huge supporters and ambassadors of refugees, which I so appreciate in this day and age. (If you have the slightest critical spirit toward refugees, I would highly encourage you to watch "The Good Lie" with Reese Witherspooon. Or read Immaculee Ilibagiza's "Left To Tell". These beautiful, brave people have been through more than we would even want to imagine.)
So, this year, they highlighted a relatively new organization out of Clarkston, GA (home of World Relief and primary location for refugees to be relocated and worked into our society). It is called Refuge Coffee. It was founded by a couple who had moved to Clarkston and fallen in love with the melting pot that they came to know there and felt it impressed upon them to come up with a way to both support the refugees through employment and at the same time, give them a place or a means of coming together and getting to know one another. The result was Refuge Coffee. 
For more information, please visit their website at: .

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I'll Thank Me for this Later...

With this most recent flare-up with UC, I have tried to come up with ways to help ease at least some of the burden of maintaining the healthiest diet I can on a regular basis.

I think one of the things that contributed to my backslide and eventual downfall was organic corn chips. Of all things. But, I found a brand I really love and they're just light and crispy and oh, so good with organic salsa.
However, becoming so tired of cooking that I could literally cry at the mere thought of it, they had become a regular meal for me. Just something I could sit down with, not have to prepare and something that would sustain me til the next meal.

Now I'm paying for all those lazy nights. Dearly. Ugh. Oh, so dearly.

So - I am trying to make cooking meals throughout the week a little easier on myself. 

For starters, I am going to try to do more meal prepping on Sundays. Dice veggies. Shred cheese. That sort of thing. I think that'll help quite a bit in and of itself. Already got a jump on this week. Two bowls full of shredded cheese, sliced tomatoes, squash and zucchini and diced onion. I even tried throwing the onion into a chopper, but I don't think I'll continue that 'cheat'. The onion just releases too much juice that way and it wasn't but a few more chops on the board by hand. I think just not having to chop every time I'm making something will be a big help.

And if I could knock out a big helping of a vegetable, that will help. Today, I cooked up a big pot of green beans. So, those should get me through most of the week, right there. (Thankfully, I don't mind eating the same thing several days in a row.) That just leaves a meat and maybe a sweet potato (that I can just literally poke a couple times and throw into the oven for 40 min's) each day. 

And... after nearly 15 years... I finally caved and bought a dang microwave. 

much prefer leftovers either pan-heated or broiled. But, if it's another way of keeping me from dirtying the same pan one. more. time and standing over that darned stove one. more. time... I might just be willing to sacrifice the full potential of my leftovers in order to maintain some measure of sanity.

At least right now. After hitting a major wall with this whole 'eat whole foods for the rest of my living days' thing. 

But, for now, it's time to decide what for dinner tonight...


Captive in Iran

Funny that Pastor Saeed Abedini was released from an Iranian prison this weekend, as I had just finished reading the story of Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh in 'Captive in Iran' on Friday night.

This truly is a remarkable story. These girls were captured and imprisoned by the Iranian regime, charged with apostasy. Having come to Christ, they held secret church in their home and distributed New Testament bibles strategically throughout their community. 

I would never attempt to put into my own words what they experienced while in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. But, it is abundantly clear that what the Enemy meant for evil was used for good. Even under such brutality and despicable conditions. They remained faithful; as did He.

Maryam says it well when she shares "What looked like failure by worldly standards was a great victory for Christ: His message proclaimed under the very noses of a regime desperate to stop it."

Marziyeh adds "The very prison system that tried to silence us was now our megaphone."

On the outside, they had to be careful, quiet, calculated, fearful of being caught.
Once imprisoned, they had a captive crowd, who needed desparately to hear of grace, forgiveness, peace, and hope.
On the outside, they would pray and worship as they could.
On the inside, they prayed endlessly and worshipped shamelessly.

When challenged by a fellow prisoner why they would not simply renounce their faith and just walk out of such a terrible place, Marziyeh countered:

"Our insistence on our faith is not out of stubbornness. You may not be able to understand, because you haven't been through what we have. I have lived with God for many years, during some lonely and difficult times. He is the only support I have. He is my all. We are inseparable. My life has no value without Him. I love God so much that denying Him would be denying my own existence. How could I ever deny something that is in every cell of my body? I would rather spend the rest of my life in prison if that's what it takes to stay close to Him. I would rather be killed than kill the spirit of Christ within me."

Powerful. And not just cheap talk. Had it not been for international coverage, they would have likely been executed for their faith. But, they were prepared to suffer as Christ had.

They now both live in the States, their imprisonment behind them. But, their story will undoubtedly inspire generations to come.

Behold the Power... of a To-Do List

As I mentioned before, my New Year's Resolution is quite lofty this year - to keep a running To-Do List. 

I really know how to shoot for those stars, don't I?

But, I decided, if I could just keep a running To-Do List, this would keep me more on track. And on task. And before I know it, all sorts of things would get prioritized that would otherwise be forgotten or just procrastinated away.

I've not been real stringent with it. Just so long as I knock one or two things off the list a week, I'll be happy.

And it's funny what happens. You set out to do one thing on there, you end up doing 5 things that weren't on there. 

And there really is something gratifying about crossing something off that list. No matter how small. Funny really. But, it's true. And it really makes you want to do more, to cross more off the list.

Who knew, that putting some pen to a little piece of paper could be so powerful.

I might even stick to this resolution!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bible Journaling

I'll be honest.
I hadn't drawn in a bible since I (for some unknown reason) drew a quarter in my beginner's bible back in my days of Confirmation classes in the basement of Fox River Lutheran Chuch.

But, after seeing a friend of mine post her artistic embellishments in her bible, with a new thing called Bible Journaling, I was intrigued. And though I missed the day they were handing out artistic abilities, I thought I would just give it a try.

Some may still view it as defacing, but I have found it to be a way of forcing me to pause and reflect more on a section of scripture. And not only that, help me to remember better.

I started back in September and did several right away, just to try my hand in it. Then, of course, I took a hiatus over the holidays. But, just picked it back up again this weekend. And hope to make a point to add something each week; maybe whatever section of scripture I am lead to that particular week.

Here's what I've accomplished so far! (Any images are traced. I could never do any of that freehand.)

I love the Psalms. They're my go-to when I don't know where else to turn. So, I started there just to get my feet wet.

Then, I wanted to see how stickers did in there and found these beautiful butterflies which made me think of how we are a new creation in Christ.

Okay- so I was way more impressed with this one before I 'fixed it'. But, the thumbprint is to reflect how Jesus was the exact imprint of God. I should have left it just in pencil, because when I went over it in ink, it was real gloppy and made kind of a mess. Then, when I wrote the scripture out, I didn't allow enough room to write it in its entirety. Rookie mistakes. But, it's a work in progress - much like me.

This one was fun to do. Continuing on through a study on the book of Hebrews, I was struck with the passage: "but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope."
Christ is faithful over God's house.
We are his house.
Therefore, Christ is faithful over us! (If we hold fast our confidence in hope.)
I loved that. So, I decided to use brickwork to represent the foundation of the house.

I so relate to Paul and his thorn. So, this was another practice page. I like how the thorny branch turned out. And always good to remember that "His grace is sufficient", in my weakness, thorns and all.

Another favorite of mine. SUCH a powerful passage of scripture! Such power and authority! I pray this over all the 'dry bones' I see around me. I pray that one day, they would know that He is the Lord, have new life breathed into them and form an exceedingly great army! Whew! I can't read this scripture aloud without getting a little Pentacostal!  :)  And I can't listen to Lecrae speak it at the Passion conference without getting chills and doing a fist pump. Good stuff!

And... today's. This week, it was impressed upon me: "Return to Me and I will return to you." I may flounder, but He is faithful. I'm so grateful.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Life Lessons from My Journey with Food

For those of you who may not already know, I began, about 2 years ago, to treat my ongoing battle with Ulcerative Colitis with food. And it has really been amazing to see how well it has worked. Better than I ever could have imagined. Funny - how the body responds in kind, when you treat it the way it was intended to be treated.
But, it requires great discipline. Sacrifice. Obedience. Especially in this day and age.

I can see why fasting is used in the bible. There are so many spiritual lessons and parallels found in the discipline of diet; especially when you'd been accustomed to the Standard American Diet.

I always thought that fasting was solely self deprivation, as a means to focus more clearly on God. Which it certainly is. But, I've realized much more than that in these past couple of years of my dietary changes; even though I wasn't technically 'fasting'. 

(Savannah on her first trip to Dismeyworld, blessing her breakfast before heading out for the day.)


I have come to better appreciate meal blessings, in a purer sense.

Famed Christian comedian, Tim Hawkins has a bit where he talks about how comical it is to ask the Lord to bless our American diet. 'Sometimes we pray over food and ask God to make up for the bad choices we make when we eat. No matter what it is. 'Lord, bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies. - Lord, bless this bag of Cheetos and this jumbo Dr. Pepper, Lord. Somehow let this nourish us in some way. I don't know how you're gonna do it, Father, but we just trust in You now. Father, change the molecular structure of this food, this complete trash we're about to shove in our gullet; change the Cheeto into a carrot stick on the way down. Spirit of Low Carb rain down on me now! I pray a hedge of protection around my pancreas right now! Intervene!' "

Funny, not funny, right?  :)

Now, when I sit down to my meals, I can honestly ask the Lord for His blessing over what I'm about to eat. Knowing that I have done my best in the choices I've made.

Which leads us to...


In the same way that I can more fully ask God's blessing over my food, when I make the right choices, the same applies to all of life. If you continue to live in blatant sin, knowing you're making the wrong choices, can you honestly ask God to bless you in that? 


Lest I come off self-righteous, I have a confession to make.
After a full 13 months of being able to live completely med-free (after 10 years of treating my UC with drugs), I had to get a prescription for Prednisone yesterday. {boo}
I knew that lately I had been much more lax with my diet than I ought to be. I had done okay with my favorite corn chips from time to time, so naturally, those began to work their way into my diet more and more over time. (Even though I'm not supposed to have corn.) As well as dark chocolate and wine. And processed glazes and sour cream... Slippery slope, isn't it?
Same with lilfe. 
Like Casting Crowns sings "It's a slow fade." Different folks have asked me over the years, "Yeah, but do you have to be that strict?" This is why my answer is an emphatic "Yes." Because oftentimes, even mild infractions or disobediences lead to others. And before you know it... you're spiraling out of control.
We are prone to self-depravity. 

Confession #2: When I got that Prednisone in hand last night, my first thought was "Hmmm... I wonder what I could get away with eating, at least while on this?" 
Geez! Never believe for one second that this thing is easy for me. Or that I judge anyone for their choices. If I ever seem irritated, I'm more than likely just jealous that you don't have the negative ramifications that I have, in eating whatever the heck you want.  :)


But, thankfully, He knows our sinful nature and extends us grace. In the case of this flare-up, I have a doctor named Socoloff (that I love) and an awesome nurse, Cindy who are there to catch me when I fail.
And in life, I have a loving Father, Who is prepared to catch me as well.
Even in my own poor choices.


In this day and age, it's hard to know who to trust. Same applies to foods and their distributors. 
Is that produce truly organic? Can I trust that those eggs are actually pastured?...
I don't know. 
But, I have come to trust. And not in the distributors, but in God. In asking His blessing over my meals, I am in a sense saying to Him "Lord, You know that I have made the best decisions I can make. I have bought what I understand to be the best for me. Please honor this and bless it to my body." I truly believe that when you make the best decisons you can, based on what you've been given, He will honor that.
Same goes in life.


Yes, in this fine country of ours, we have, as a whole, gone way off-track from the intended way of eating. We were intended to eat to live; we have become much more prone to live to eat. A gluttonous way of life, full of empty fillers, sweeteners and manufactured components - Oh, my word. If that's not applicable to life!

BUT - we also have a large number of folks out there who are doing their best to provide better options. Organic products, farmers markets, roadside stands, water purifiers... Some countries are lucky to have a water source at all. We are abundantly blessed. 

My food blessing over these last couple of years has been:

He has provided us with what we need. We, as a culture, have just distorted what He developed and saw fit for us. We, in turn, have taken what has been given to us and added to it, taken from it, manipulated it and then mass produced it.
That is far from what He originally saw and deemed as "good". 
Again. Same goes for life.

It's funny, as much as I still crave things like Chick-fil-A breakfast and Pizza Hut personal pan pizza from Target, I have come to truly appreciate the basics that we were originally given. Fruits. Vegetables. Meats. And even having grown my own tomatoes, basil and strawberries this year, I was just reminded of life's simple blessings. 

And how truly 'good' they really are.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Good Intentions...

Well. With the new year, comes all that renewed optimism of 'doing better this year!'

I've never been a huge resolution maker. At least, not one with lots of grand plans and endeavors. But, I do tend to try for a fresh start at least. And have good intentions like most everyone else.

This year, I'm keeping it simple.

I'm not sure what made me really think of it and not really sure why I've not done this before. But, I've decided to be a more avid list maker. To-Do Lists, in particular.

Like I said: simple.

Certainly nothing profound, but I just feel like if I could keep a manageable To-Do List going throughout the year, it could improve lots of areas of my life. Keep me more organized. Lessen some stress. Keep me on task. Feel accomplished. Give me more incentive. I really don't know why it hasn't occured to me before now.

So far, I'm on already on my 2nd draft list (having crossed off most everything on the 1st one) and have crossed off 2 items on this one! 

I'm on a roll.

As I said, I do like a good fresh start, too. So, I used this last holiday weekend to clean and purge. And I finally made the desk (that's been a catch-all for 13 years or more) a practical, inviting space. I am so prone to just plop down on the couch after work each evening and once I do, tend to lose any resolve of doing anything productive - even if it's to read. 

So, I'm hoping with my renewed desk space, that I'll be encouraged to be more productive. Read. Study. Write. Mark off my check list.  :)

So, keeping it simple and managable this year. 

So far, so good.   :)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2015 in Highlights

It really is true, the older you get, the more quickly time passes by.
Here we are; yet another year behind us. 
And so little to show for it on my blog, once again.

I plan to try harder, once again, to post more frequently and consistently this year. I've even cleaned up my desk and all around it, to make it a more practical, inviting spot to actually be more productive. Revisit some old bible studies (some I may never have completed). Write some more personal hand-written notes to those on my heart and mind (remember those?) And blog.

So, let me just kick it off by wrapping up my last year - or at least since my post about our trip back in February (seems like last week - sheesh).

Zip-lining at Banning Mills

Dad and I have been itching to go zip-lining again since our taste of it in the N Ga mountains several years ago. So, Mom got us each ticket to go zipping through Banning Mills, just on the other side of Atlanta.
We had a GORGEOUS day for it! The trees were still pretty bare, but we couldn't have asked for better weather.

We also had a good group of people to zip with. Quite a diverse crowd, but all grew rather close after having to huddle around a huge tree at each of our stopping points. Ha.
It was fun. We can't wait to go again.  :)

Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Mom has been wanting to take us up to one of her favorite getaway spots in North Carolina. I already love the Asheville area, so I suggested we just take off up there for our birthday weekend. It was just Mom, Dad and myself and it was yet another gorgeous weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect. 
On our way up, I insisted we had to at least drive through Billy Graham's Cove. They obliged and it was such a blessing!
The gentleman at the front gate directed us to their sweet little chapel for a tour. The lady at the chapel who greeted us said that a little family group had just started their tour, so we could join in with them or just wait for our own. We saw no reason not to join them, so we sat through the remainder of the video with them and then headed upstairs for the actual tour of the chapel.
I. love. that. chapel. There's just something about it. There's a holy presence throughout the entire property, but the chapel especially just resonates with it. So simple. So sweet. 
There is one event I have been wanting to attend at the Cove; Fernando Ortega, playing the piano, with the amazing backdrop out the window behind him. Uh! Glimpe of heaven itself right there.
Well, anyway, after sitting through a little history of the place from our guide, she warmly welcomed us to come up to the front and just take a look around from up there. As we began to get up, a young gentleman in the group we had joined up with, headed straight for the piano on the side. The guide sweetly said "Yes, feel free to knock about on the piano, too." He then sat down, got poised and proceded to pour out a medley of traditional hymns that left us all speechless. It was beautiful. And such a sweet gift. Here I'd been dying to hear Fernando in concert up there and instead, we were given our own private concert that was just as beautiful as Fernando could have done, yet in the sweet little chapel (as opposed to the training center)! Beautiful. I think Beth Moore calls those God Winks. So special.
We were also afforded the opportunity to walk through the Training Center as well. I had wondered if we'd be able to, as we weren't there for an event. Apparently, it's not normally open to the general public, but we happened to be there at a time when they didn't have an event, so were able to ramble freely. We got to sit on their amazing porch with that unmistaking view, walk through all the history that lines the walls on the bottom floor and even glance through the gift shop.

From there, we headed on up to Gideon Ridge Inn.
Mom had offered to get me my own room there, so I countered: For the same amount of money, if we just bunk together in one suite, we could stay an extra night!  :)  She was game and I'm so glad we did! We checked in that evening, settled in a little and then went to town for some dinner. We stayed in the Grandfather Suite, which was hard to picture from the pictures on their website, but it was a pretty cool room. I had a sofa bed and my own half bath. My favorite part was the European-looking little stoop that you access through the big picture window. There were a couple little bistro chairs out there and was just kinda cool to sit out there. Our hostess was sweet and reminded me of Rory Gilmore (which is funny, as her mom runs the Dragonfly Inn). 

The next day, we were able to just kick around and check the place out. The Inn is just down the road from the actual Blowing Rock. So, we went up there and looked around. Again - the weather could not have been any more beautiful. Such a nice place. With amazing views. We were also able to head to town and ramble there a bit. The highlight of that would probably have to be that I was carded for a wine tasting and t we were there celebrating my 41st birthday. Haha.

The next day, we came home by way of the Blue Ridge Parkway and it was just as picturesque as I'd always heard.

Simons Reunion / Tennessee

I'm so glad to I had the chance to join Mom and Dad again on a trip up to Tennessee to catch up with Uncle Curt and all his crew. They are a lively bunch!  :)  And it had been so long since we'd seen a lot of them (probably not since Grandma Mary's funeral in 2004). It was great fun. We got our own cabin, which we shared with Nancy and Dave, but we were just around the bend (or two) from where the rest of them were staying. They were both nice places. And both on the lake, though from theirs, you could actually see and access the water. Ha. I'm not sure who won the Lip Sync Contest, but it'd sure be hard to choose! Hahaha

Fervent Tour (Anthony Evans/Priscilla Shirer)

In August, the next Kendrick move finally made it to theaters! And it was so worth the wait! Everything those guys do is covered in prayer and blesses anyone prepared to receive it! This one was 'War Room' and its message is solely on prayer. The importance of it. The power of it. And how to utilize it. Such a powerful movie. (If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. It is now available on demand as well as DVD. If you happen to watch it on DVD, don't miss the bonus features! They're worth the price of admission just on their own!)  :)
Anyway - after only seeing 'War Room' on the big screen 3 times, I couldn't wait to catch Priscilla along with her brother Anthony Evans in Atlanta for their Fervent Tour! (I love Priscilla from several bible studies and knew she was a dynamic speaker. But, I had also come to love Anthony as well. He had performed on The Voice and I was hooked. He gets me through most work days. He is a very gifted singer/songwriter.
And they did not disappoint! It was a very powerful evening! Again - the primary focus was on prayer and fighting the right battles and obedience.
AND, since I went with Missy, self proclaimed stalker, we spung for the meet & greet tickets! Woo Hoo!
Not the most flattering picture of any of us, but they were super kind and incredibly gracious and it all just made for a great night!

Emery (football)

We also got to catch some of Emery's football games. I know his Daddy would love nothing more than for him to be a big bruiser out there, kicking butt and taking names later, but it warmed Aunt Jess's heart to see what a natural encourager he is. Slapping guys on the backs, excitedly telling them 'Great job!' - no matter whose team they were on. Just glad to be out there. It was fun to watch.
Though I will admit that Savannah and I may have zoned out a time or two...

1 year Meds-Free!

Okay. So, I don't guess I really have a picture for this, but it is pretty news worthy.
It was last November, when I went up to the Cove with Sally to see Lisa Harper, that I stopped taking my Mercaptapurine altogether. 
This was the drug that I was having to have to replace with something stronger because it just couldn't help keep my gut under control any longer. Having fought back Ulcerative Colitis for over 10 years, all the standard drugs had ceased to work any longer, leaving me looking toward using the much stronger biologics. As a last ditch effort, I drastically adjusted my diet to a cross between Specific Carb and Paleo and a year after deciding to go that route, with a little bit of rocky start, I was able to make it one year meds-free! Maintaining on diet alone. That's huge, considering that I wasn't even able to maintain while ON the meds.
Yay, me!  :)

Fall Family (Thanksgiving) Getaway / Cleveland, GA

This year, we decided to do our annual Fall Family Getaway over Thanksgiving and that worked really well. We stayed at a really nice cabin with a beautiful view of the mountains, just outside of Cleveland, GA. Emery couldn't get enough Pool and both he and Savannah had gotten quite good at it by the time we left. We were able to enjoy the hot tub a time or two and a good little hike up and down the road. It was so nice, Mom has already booked us again for next Thanksgiving. And, at least we know that if we lock ourselves out again, we can always just break in with a credit card!  :)

Tacky Holiday Sweater Contest 

I don't normally participate in dress-up days at work. But, I happened to stumble across a whole display of Christmas sweaters at Wal*Mart one day, so thought 'Why not!'  :)
I'm glad it wasn't 80 that day, like it ended up being on the actual day of Christmas this year.
We had a good turn-out and it was fun! Even  though I wasn't voted tackiest. (Leah, on the far left won that honor.)  ;)