I’m honestly not even sure where to start this story. I think my recent health issues stem back mostly to when I ended up getting C-diff (inflammation of the colon) after following my doctor’s orders to stop taking an antibiotic about 10 years ago.
But, even before then, I struggled with depression and had monthly PMS symptoms, sometimes even seeming as bad a Pmdd-- which is PMS but even worse. The next years after getting C-diff, I was so exhausted. I got sick with everything that the kids got. I dreaded winter because it would just be a long stretch of sickness. Over this time, my nurse practitioner tested my thyroid and put me on Synthroid and told me I had hypothyroidism. I guess I had more energy, but I still needed to take a nap every afternoon and I wouldn’t sleep well at night, even though my babies were getting older and sleeping well.
About four years ago, every cycle was a struggle, and was fatigued every. single. day. So I started to explore various options. I tried being on medication my OBGYN gave me, but it gave me panic attacks. I read a book called WomanCode about women’s health. I started eating ‘in cync with my cycle.’ That was interesting, but also very stressful, and it seemed that my problems were bigger than the book and system realized. That led me to look into Functional Medicine, located at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland. When I called, there was a six-month waiting period, but I took the first appointment they had, six-months out. In the meantime, I read a book about thyroid health and starting eating even more clean. But, I felt like a needed a personal coach and someone to walk me through things.
When it finally came time for my appointment, I was super stressed out because of all the diet changes I had tried to make on my own. On top of that, it was so nerve-wracking to drive up to Cleveland (especially with how tired I was feeling) and to finally meet this doctor I’d been waiting half a year to see! They started me on their protocol—healing a leaky gut and I got a food panel test done. I also had appointments with a nutritionalist and a counselor. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Hashimotos. They put me on a second thyroid pill to take and I was starting to feel better, but I wasn’t excited about being on all the medications they were recommending. It just wasn’t the path I wanted to go down because I wanted to truly get to the bottom of my issues, and quite honestly, the medications just seemed like band-aids. Besides, even with all the diet changes, etc. I was still having painful PMS symptoms every month.
I asked my nurse practioner in Cleveland if I could try essential oils instead of one of the medications I had been on. She said “Essential Oils are amazing! Give it a try!” So, I called my friend Corrie Yoder to find out what the big deal was about oils, since I got texts from her every month about upcoming classes. With her guidance, I became a member of Young Living and placed my first order.
Within the first months when I used hormone-supporting oils, the annoying PMS symptoms stopped! My husband noticed that I was a lot less grumpy, too, and I could handle being around people better. When I had followed the Womancode diet, I was introduced to fennel to help with your monthly cycle. Now, fennel is kind of hard to come by and it’s difficult to eat a lot of, especially when you are trying to cook for a family. (You can imagine my kid’s take on this whole journey! LOL). It was so much easier to put some drops of a blend containing fennel and other hormone supporting plants on my feet or on the problem areas and feel the pain just go away. And, seriously, THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED! The chest tenderness, sometimes just within minutes, would dissipate.
But, I was still having other issues…digestive and sleep problems, etc. Corrie introduced me to Jessica Yoder (all these Yoder ladies!). They became like counselors, coaches, and cheerleaders to me, encouraging me on. Skeptically, I was scanned with the iTOVI scanner and then when it became available, with the Zyto. I prayed about it and bought some of the oils and products recommended. I really felt like I was stepping out in faith, because I didn’t understand it and it didn’t make sense. But, I am here to say that after having been through the Trio Cleanse and the ParaFree, and DiGize cleanses, I am feeling like a new woman, and my scan report with the Zyto HAS improved. Even my bloodwork from the Functional medicine doctor has improved! I am enjoying life again and I honestly feel like even my personality is changing in that, although I’m an introvert, I can handle and enjoy being around people much more than I used to.
My story isn’t done. I have made diet changes that haven’t been easy (no gluten, dairy, sugar, limited grain) to help support my gut, body, and immune system. But, the cool thing is that the oils and products can help you deal with symptoms and, if you are consistent with using them, can also heal your body so you can live your best life. They all have multiple purposes and can help with many different ailments. This oily way is a journey, and the Lord is still working on me and healing me. He is my Healer—the oils are just a tool He is using. He made plants before he even made people because he knew we would need them for life on this earth he made. (Genesis 1)
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In May, I had the privilege of going with my aunt in her bright red Ford down to Tennessee. Equipped with Whole 30 approved snacks, we were hoping to surprise her “walking miracle” friend who was turning 50. This lady has metal pins in her legs, has had at least one heart attack and one stroke. She also can’t drive anymore because her eyesight is so bad. Since she can’t see well, that makes her more attuned to other things around her, so my aunt thought we would never actually surprise her. Besides, her chatty college kids were in town, so who knew what they would accidently let slip out!
But, when we pulled up the lane beeping 50 times, she WAS surprised. She said in her dear southern accent, “What is goin’ on?!” Her family, including her husband, kids, and three dogs welcomed us right in.
In my experience, people that have dogs, especially indoor dogs, are usually extroverts, getting energy from being around people and activity. Even if they are ‘alone’ at home, they are never truly alone since there is always a faithful pooch there to keep them company. Well, this family fit my stereotype.
On the second day we were there, the TV was on, all the dogs were barking and running around and there were several conversations going on at once. My aunt and I, both fun people but also more introverted, were feeling a bit over stimulated.
In this very moment of chaos, the man of the house walked into the living room, held out his arms open wide and calmly asked, “Would anyone like a popsicle?”
Embracing the chaos and enjoying it with a sweet treat. This is America.
Even though we were eating healthy on this trip, we couldn’t imagine saying no to his innocent request. I picked out a blue one and slurped it up through the plastic sleeve, savoring every ounce of bad-for-you deliciousness.
And, I’ve decided that this summer, this life, when everything around me is buzzing with activity and I think I may not be able to keep up with it all, I will open my arms wide and ask “Would anyone like a popsicle?” If you’re there, will you say “Yes, please, Ma’m?”
For Christmas, I got money so I could take a class.
Originally, I thought I would save it up for some awesome writing retreat, but then winter hit.
The sun hid behind the January sky.
I got cabin fever and began researching local classes to take.
There were some criteria. It had to be:
Out of the house (not online)
An art class
During a time of week that would fit the family’s schedule.
After doing some online sleuthing, I found a classic acrylic class that lasted 6 weeks within 30 minutes of my house.
I signed up for it.
Then, I realized part of the reason why I felt so trapped was that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD.
Since relocating to Florida was not an option, I started using a happy lamp.
And, I went to the class.
The class gave me something to look forward to each week.
I learned how to draw better, how to use a chisel brush, and how to see the value of objects.
And, it gave me a way to be creative besides writing.
In the end, I will have an apple still life picture that I can put on the mantel.
It’s not perfect, but it’s art.
Just like me. I’m not perfect, but I'm art—made by an awesome designer.
The other day when I had time I could be writing, I was ironing. Now, let the reader understand that I iron about once a year. The other times, the ironing board stands ready in my bedroom, decorating it's area in front of the bookshelf with teal and white chevron and collecting dust bunnies at it's feet. As I was ironing, I was thinking about, no actually almost dreading, writing. “What if my story doesn't ever come together? How can I end this story? What other new ideas could I have?” I pressed harder and harder into the collars.
I 'officially' became a writer, in my mind, when a magazine published three of my articles. “Once I have three” I thought, “I'll set up a website.” Web design was not in my deck of skills, so I hired a friend to do it. She read what I said about myself and she had to draw it out because I wasn't budging. I couldn't bring myself to officially say that I was a children's writer without her saying that's what it needed to say. Finally, I agreed.
Now, with the start of school and all my babies started up again, things have calmed down around here, except in my mind. In the past, I could always say I wasn't working on writing or drawing because I was keeping toddlers alive, or serving at our church, or planning to have 16 people at my house for a three day Thanksmas extravaganza. But this year, I'm not committed to any of those things. And, although the school is always asking for volunteers, I know that would derail my sanity as it would wear this introvert out beyond belief.
This year, my heart is saying “It's time.” Someone advised me to view this coming school year as time to develop myself even more as a writer. Others have heard my 'no's' graciously as they asked me to do other things, some of the housework is divied out to my school-age kids, and my husband is okay with me working more on writing and drawing.
In fact, it seems that everyone is fine with giving me permission to work on on these skills except....myself. I'm not sure why, exactly. Maybe I'm not sure I'm good enough (how will I get better if I don't even try?), maybe I worry that I just won't have any ideas, or maybe I am afraid I will work and work and will never have anything else accepted. Like a bad dream where you are running, but you never go anywhere.
But, my heart wants to try so my mind is going to have to follow suit. If I want to become more of a writer, I need to know what it means to be one. So, I awoke at 2:45am last night, thinking about the quirks of a writer—this lonely profession that usually no one has asked us to do.
+Writers wake up in the middle of the night with inspiration. You need to have a notebook and pen at hand.
+Writers say 'no' to things that don't fit their skill set
+Writers get new ideas by going for walks and talking out loud to themselves
+Writers have no clock to clock in or out with. Which means they have to and get to budget their own time.
+Writers, when they have a looming deadline, see dirty windows, grimy sinks, and plastic containers that need organized
+Writers sometimes work on something for two weeks or longer and then throw it all out. Even Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes talks about doing this in The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book.
+Writers work alone but can also meet with other writers to help give clarity, direction, and camraderie
+Writers go to conferences and learn things about writing
+Writers are often insecure about their talents, or at least start out that way
+Writers think outside the box
+Writers delegate others to help with housework or other things they don't care to do
+Writers stand up under criticism and don't live to please others
+Writers have to set boundaries to perserve their sanity
+Writers can have inspiration strike and they forget to eat or let the laundry pile up to Mt. Everest size
+Writers can have pages of words that feel like a magnum opus until they are read aloud to aforementioed critique groud or a family member. At which point, they hear all the errors and the ending isn't right and the voice is all wrong and....
+Writers start over and make changes. Again. And again. And again.
+Writers graciously take criticism from people who love them and want the best for them, even if they're crying inside
+Writers learn how to sandwich critiques in the “good-work on- good” format so that critiques start and end with positive things
+Writers work on a new story or idea once one is published. They stop to be happy and then it's off to the next idea. Or, if an idea just isn't coming, they set it aside and work on something else.
+Writers can be creative in other ways if words just aren't coming—like by drawing, playing an instrument, taking pictures, etc.
+Writers write using all five senses, having the character grow and change and learn something by the end of the story.
+Writers hope some day to become authors so they can dedicate their books to someone and they can travel around doing school shows and signing books with their golden pens
+Writers just make themselves write. Even if it's not good. But, they keep on going and trying.
Which, of course, is what I'll be doing, unless of course, I'm ironing. Then, feel free to come and remind me to keep on working.
So--what does being a writer mean to you? Post a comment and share your thoughts.
The last several months have reminded me that I may just need to slow down. So many books I read are non-fiction and make me think about things like eating more sunflower seeds, the benefits of probiotics, or how to organize the junk drawer.
But, one of these non-fiction books reminded me to read fiction. Sometimes it's hard to figure out “What makes you happy,” but I used to enjoy Jane Austen--so I dusted off a book with three of her works and started with Northanger Abbey.
As an INFJ, it was reassuring to read about someone else's complex feelings in a chapter devoted to the heroine deciding if she should go on a carriage ride or a walk, where the companions and previous engagements were of utmost importance. After Northanger Abbey was Sense and Sensibility. Short chapters and non-smutty work with hard to decipher words and thoughts urged me on to Austen's most famous work--Pride and Prejudice.
At first, I wasn't thrilled. The mother, Mrs. Bennet, was irritating and I remembered reading this before. But, I kept going.
Within the first several chapters, Ms. Elizabeth Bennet, the witty heroine of the work, met the wealthy Mr. Darcy. She found him to be proud and arrogant and developed a prejudice against him. Although he was proud, he kept on being around her, watching her, and trying to converse with her. After Austen-style twists and turns, he shocked her and asked her to marry him.
But, she said no. She told him what she thought he was like. The next day, he handed her a letter describing why he had made certain choices or acted certain ways since they'd known each other. But, she still wasn't sure.
They didn't see each other for half a year, but things kept on happening that showed her what he was really like. He saved her whole family from disgrace by doling out money to a man who was in a shady relationship with her sister so they would marry. Mr. Bingley, his friend who had liked her pretty older sister Jane, came back to woo her-- even though Mr. Darcy had originally pulled Mr. Bingley away from her. And he came to visit. Finally, he asked her a second time to marry him. This time, she said yes.
Timothy Keller, an American pastor, theologian and Christian apologist said, “Jesus is the underling reality to which all stories point, breaking into our world.” Could it be? Did Jane Austen point to Christ in Pride and Prejudice? I believe that in Mr. Darcy, she did.
Mr. Darcy, who was so wealthy, stooped down and fell in love with someone below his class.
Jesus, fully God, became human and loved us so much that he died for us and then came back to life, defeating death.
Mr. Darcy saved Elizabeth's family from the disgrace her sister almost brought upon them, and he saved Elizabeth and gave her a better home.
Jesus saved us from this evil world in which we live (Ephesians 1:7 NIV) and gives us hope of a better, heavenly home.
Mr. Darcy redeemed the situation between his friend, Mr. Bingley, and Elizabeth's sister, Jane.
Jesus redeemed us back to God. When he died on the cross, he took the punishment for the bad things we have done so God can forgive us and we can be his children.
So, if you are a solid Mr. Darcy fan, consider checking out Jesus Christ—a man who rescued you and offers you life. He came down from heaven to die so we can be children of the One who made us, knows us, and most of all, loves us.
To see how writer J.R.R. Tolkien explained the gospel in light of fairy tales, check out:
Disclamer: In case you can't tell from the title, this entry contains some personal woman's health information. I know this is a little off from my basic theme of writing for children, but I do feel that it fits in with "Doing More of What Makes You Happy."
When a friend heard me complaining again of horrible PMS symptoms, she lent me a book called Womancode. I set it off to the side for several weeks, and then, my period came. Yes, Aunt Flo afforded me yet another 24 (short) cycle with seven days of heavy bleeding. It was time to read the book.
Now, I had tried other things and had struggled with period issues on and off for the last 5-8 years. I was on thyroid medication for hypothyrodism and had been treated for depression and various other illnesses. Earlier that year, my OBGYN and I had decided I should try taking birth control pills. They gave me panic attacks, a bigger behind, and other irritating symptoms. I got off of those and we tried to treat the symptoms. Medication for the heavy bleeding and bouts of insomnia were prescribed. They worked fine, but I still had PMS issues like acne, fatigue, and mood swings.
So, I read the book. Being me, I tried to read it all in about a three days AND implement it ALL AT ONCE. This meant I did the 4-day cleanse the book recommended in the third or forth protocol step, switched to eating a snack in the morning and afternoon, and cut out gluten, sugar, dairy. You can imagine the upheaval my family felt and my oldest proclaimed “Mom—if you change everything all at once, how will you know what's working?” My theory was that if I cut it all out, then I could add it back in slowly and see if there were any noticeable changes. So, breakfasts became much more substantial than the white English muffin with butter I had been eating and now included things like pumpkin seeds, sweet potatoes, and green smoothies. I also learned that as a 35-year old, I was now in a new stage called peri-menopause. That first month, my work paid off! My next cycle was over 28 days long with less heavy bleeding. I couldn't believe it had worked so fast!
The next month, I still worked on changing my lifestyle and diet and was very surprised when my period came in 25 days. I hadn't eaten collards and flax seeds all month to get THIS kind of response! But, my PMS symptoms were lessened, and my cycle was one day longer, so I stuck with it, dog-earing the book and looking up things on the FloLiving website.
The next two months were November and December. Being a newbie with the whole system, the holidays really wreaked havoc. I mean, you have to eat at least one frosted cookie and a some wine and.... Also, since I went against the book's advice to avoid gluten and ate up to two bowls of All-Bran a day (I thought it would help with the constipation I was struggling with!) I ended up being so exhausted and emotionally unfit that my parents had to come take care of my children.
This was not working very effectively, but it was helping. The book at been a mere $12, and I wasn't excited about forking over $300 for the Womancode class—didn't I already have it all in the book and at my disposal? But, I needed some help. So, I scheduled a free 30 minute consultation where the counselor told me I was probably struggling with adrenal fatigue (the 2nd protocol which I had kind of glossed over). Until I got that under control, she said, I may not see much success. 'Getting over it' may take 6 months to a year. She suggested some things and I really felt like I was on the right path. Of course, some of the 30 minutes was spent telling me, like the book and website did, about the class and on-line forum and how it may really help me. But, I still wasn't convinced.
I researched more and found there are functional medical doctors near me. I called to schedule—up to a 12 month wait. There was also a Womancode app—but only for Apple phones—I have an Android. What to do, what to do? Something needed to change, especially with a gum surgery and a 36th birthday coming up. So, as a present to myself, on January 4, I finally decided to sign up.
I listened to the first video and printed out the workbook pack. My gum surgery was quickly approaching and I was felt like I needed more coaching to help me through that. So, I signed up to talk to a FloLiving counselor. After an hour consultation, I was ready to go buy the supplements she recommended and make some other minor changes. I looked up the vitamins—thankfully FloLiving promotes using supplements only as a bridge to better health and not as long term solutions, or we may never have enough moolah to go on vacation again.
January continued. A middle-of-the-night trip to the ER, sick children, and gum recession surgery made me wonder how my period would be. This time, I had a 27 day cycle with only 6 days of bleeding with one or two heavy days and less PMS symptoms. Still improving.
Now in February, I am still on the path to, hopefully, better health. The “My Flo” app came out for Android with more information than the book ever had. It tells you what part of the cycle you will be in when so you can plan to do certain things during certain times of the month. For instance, in the first half of your cycle, you will feel more up to being with people, whereas during the second half you would rather stay home and deep clean the bathroom. (Okay, that hasn't happened yet, but here's to hoping?) The functional medicine doctor's office emailed to say they have openings and I scheduled an appointment. I am sleeping better. I am laughing more. I am trying to enjoy the journey and not get so stressed out.
So, dear readers—if you have PMS symptoms or other women's health problems, and you're interested go to www.floliving.com and take the test. Then, buy the app (seriously—I mean, $2.99 is less than a box of tampons) and enter your symptoms, etc. in it. If you consistently have issues, the app will give you suggestions of things to try but will also advertise (but not in an annoying pop-up window way) different courses you can buy. Hopefully this will help you 'Do More of What Makes You Happy.' Cause if you're happy, you can help make the world a better place. Here's to ovary health!
Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
This whole chapter talks about being a wise wife. If you're a boy, this may sound boring to you, but there are some things you can learn from this, too, even if you have to wait some more years to apply it.
So, girls--This verse says that beauty doesn't last. Even if you're beautiful in your teens, as you get older, you will get wrinkles, and gray hair, and other things to make you 'not beautiful'. This shows us that fearing God—honoring Him, believing in Him, and following Him is more important.
And boys--One of the shows my kids and I enjoy watching is Duck Dynasty. In one of the episodes, Grandpa Phil is telling his teen grandsons to not just look at a girl's appearance (which won't last) but to see if she carries around her Bible and fears God. This is the type of girl he encouraged them to date.
And, whether you are a boy or a girl, you have a Mom. She may not be that beautiful, but if she is following the Lord and teaching you these Proverbs, I think she is probably a woman to be 'greatly praised.' You should tell her thanks for all she does for you and give her a big hug!
Dear Lord, please help us to not only think and care about how we and others look, but how they act, too. Please help us to be kids that fear you and follow you. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Proverbs 30: 11-14
Some people curse their father and do not thank their mother. They are pure in their own eyes, but they are filthy and unwashed. They look proudly around, casting disdainful glances. They have teeth like swords and fangs like knives. They devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among humanity.
One of the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20 is to “Honor your father and mother.” These verses gives you some ways to NOT honor your parents—cursing, or saying bad words, about your father and not thanking your mother. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is the beginning of a dark and bad path. People who are mean to their parents can end up doing other bad things, too.
So, today, say some nice words to and about your Dad. Say “Thanks” to your Mom for all she does for you. God's laws were given to us to show us our need for Jesus. If you've messed up and have not honored your parents, ask God for forgiveness and ask him to help you. That is the beginning of a path full of life and goodness.
Dear Lord, sometimes it's hard to honor my parents. Please forgive me and help me to listen to them, to say nice words to and about them, and to thank them for all they do. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back.
Has your Mom or Dad ever been cooking something on the stove when it starts to smoke a lot and they have to turn on the vent fan or open a window to get rid of the smoke?
When you get angry, it's like you start to heat up inside. As you get angrier and angrier, you may want to explode out in frustration, like smoke coming off a pot! If you're a fool, you will do just that, shouting and yelling—venting your anger.
If you are wise, you will wait until you know all the facts to get very angry. Sometimes, it's okay to be angry, but it's important to handle it. Tell the other person what is frustrating you as calm of a voice as you can. Be wise about how you handle your anger!
Dear Lord, please help me when I get mad to handle it wisely and calmly. This isn't easy, so I'll need your help. Help me to show love to those around me today. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Young people who obey the law are wise; those with wild friends bring shame to their parents.
Who you choose to be friends with can make a huge difference. When you have friends that are kind and respectful to teachers and others, you will act like them and that's good.
To “bring shame” means to embarrass. So, if you have “wild friends” that are disrespectful and foolish, it may embarrass your parents and make them feel sad.
The Bible is God's law. Only Jesus could obey the law fully, but if we believe in Him, he gives us the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts. The Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds us about what the law says (John 14:26) and then encourages us to do right.
So, choose your friends wisely and listen to the Holy Spirit in your heart who reminds you to do good.
Dear Lord, please help me choose good friends and to be a good friend. If I have friends that don't know you, please help me tell them about you. Please help me listen and follow the Holy Spirit today. In Jesus' name, Amen.
"If Mama's not happy, no one's happy!" What Brings You Happiness is a blog designed to encourage you to take better care of yourself so you can take better care of others. Click on the categories below to find how I've dealt with various situations in light of who I am.