On Finding Hope and Healing

As many of you know, I was tested for numerous autoimmune issues including Lyme Disease last year. It was a mystery, but in the summer I was diagnosed with Sjogrens Syndrome and Hypogammglobulinanemia (immune deficiency). It took a lot of time, ruling out other diseases with blood work results from various doctors and integrative health practitioners through the years. During that time and even before then, friends and acquaintances had their own health struggles and also found answers that led to their own healing. Then, they went a step further and selflessly took the time to tell me their story. And there, I found hope.

Over and over, we all hear of people devastated by disease and cancer, but over and over, I am hearing of those who are thriving by intentionally making major life changes…and not using medication. Nothing makes it more real than when your own body proves it has the potential to heal itself with the right nutrients from whole food and supplements to boost the immune system, as well as detoxify the body. Every body is different, so the challenge lies in finding direction through prayer, reducing stress and resting.

When we share our stories, challenges and victories, it’s powerful, like unlocking a hidden door for ourselves AND others. Since so many spoke to me through conferences, books, blogs, over the phone and during long dinners, it made an impact in such a way that I had hope. Hope that healing would indeed come. And it has in many amazing ways.

So, how can I not do the same?!

2015 is a year of intention for me, and here is my plan for this space starting next month: Finding Hope and Healing…Little by Little

Healing is usually slow, after all, whether from sickness, disease, past hurts and other emotional issues. The common thread? Healing also must be intentional!

Week 1 — an inspirational, hope-filled post (much like my usual writing, including stories of the pups, the joys and pains of marriage, infertility, sexual abuse, my health journey, and finding God in the struggle, etc.)

Week 2 — a post about useful healing books, quotes, music, art, and/ or recipes

Week 3 — physical and emotional healing tips I’m learning along the way

Week 4 — re-posting of interesting topics from other writers

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Oh, and I’m (obviously) working on a new look and even considering a new title for my blog. Any ideas?

 

God, Humor and Organic Jasmine Rice?

Do you think God has a sense of humor?

Sometimes I pray over and over and over again about something. And then, the 17th time right in the middle of a lot of explaining, the answer pops into my mind–mid-sentence. Just like that. I imagine God hanging out in the same room with a smile on his face, thinking, “You know, Jen, you told me these things three months ago, again last week, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so stop…before you use all those words before 6:00 A.M. Here’s your answer.”

If this happens, which isn’t often by the way, I stop talking and can’t help but smile and say in a surprised voice (because this is always shocking to me), “Okay. Um…thanks.” And I stop and ponder the what-just-happened-here of this, and then I keep the rest of my words for later use, since it’s early still in the day.

These rare times remind me of many conversations Brian and I have had or heard about the huge number of words women tend to use versus men on the same topic. Maybe God is a man being of few words?

Listen. I am not saying he doesn’t want to hear us or respond. Instead, I believe he hopes we’ll continue pursuing and expecting answers from him. Sometimes, it feels like he’s playing hide and seek with us, quiet and far, far away.

It’s this– the waiting is usually long and hard and many times, wildly frustrating.

Usually.

And maybe God isn’t always so serious. Maybe he gets a kick out of being different than we expect and surprising us with his beautiful whimsy.

For example, things around here have been heavy and emotional. There’s just a lot going on these days. So, I prayed I could release and receive. You know, release control of everything I keep doing that gets in the way of peace and then, in turn, receive the good that comes from letting go and trusting that he’s got it all.

And then, I dropped my phone into the toilet, and well…let’s just say it was a shitty time (a time of…release?).

Really?!

All I could do was laugh and stare uncomfortably. I had no choice, I guess. So, I fished it out, decided to wash it with soap and water, and wiped it down with peroxide before putting it into a bag of organic jasmine rice for the next 36-48 hours. And you know what? I’ve giggled about this forced disconnection…releasing what’s been competing for my attention and receiving the gift of time (away from my phone), peace and quiet.

Does God have a sense of humor? Oh, yes.

I think so.

photo(7)Happy Easter, everyone! We are loved more than we can imagine.

~Jen

 

 

 

 

A New Adventure For Old Friends

She believed she could, so she did~Author unknown

Oh, about 19 years ago
Oh, about 19 years ago

This weekend I am running a 5K with two of my lifelong best friends (outside in the dead of winter, which really feels like real winter in the south these days). For us, this is new. Our little group has gone through adventures and heartaches together–youth retreats, amusement parks, sunburns, slumber parties, first loves and the inevitable breakups, graduations, weddings, moves to other states and continents even, children, sickness, funerals; time together and even more time away.

Millions upon millions of words have been spoken, laughs have been laughed, prayers prayed, tears cried and dilemmas analyzed again and again…and again.

Each of us has gone our own way, blossomed into a (more) grown-up version of the seven 4941_1157640668117_6618931_nand eight, thirteen and fourteen year-olds we were when we met. We are oh so different in a multitude of ways, but there is a bond here–deep love for one another and the kind of comfort that feels like the best version of home.

One could say we believe in the power of together…and hard work and sweat and maybe even tears.

IMG_3870We believe we can run this 5K (and that means, “finish alive,” as one friend said),

and. so. we. will.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Update:

Finished!
Finished!

Welcome To My Table

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Pub in Kinsale, Ireland

Imagine walking into a cozy house where those inside are waiting just for you. You are welcomed with smiling faces and hugs all around. You’re here! On the table, there are steaming bowls of soup and plates overflowing with warm bread dripping with honey butter. Sounds of laughter and buzzing conversation fill the air.

In this space, there is time and a place for everyone. Time to talk while others eagerly listen and honestly but lovingly respond. There are stories of exciting adventures intertwined with difficult ones, told with tears streaming. Here, it’s okay to let tears fall. This is a place of safety, where no one is perfect but accepted despite flaws that come with being part of humanity.

Time seems to pass without anyone giving a second thought because here there is connection. And that is what we want, what I have always wanted, to connect and absolutely know I matter.

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Greece

I have always enjoyed cozy gatherings with those I love surrounding me. There is just something about sitting with knees pulled up to chin and shoes off in the midst of deep conversation. It’s like being wrapped up in a warm blanket and engrossed in a book, oblivious to everything around. Whether it is eating with loved ones, playing games, working a puzzle or reading next to someone else reading, I am in my element. Introverts like me love that.

I am drawn to cozy spaces that whisper, Come. Relax. Stay. It’s no wonder, then, I have pictures like this from trips I have taken over the years. Many of them, I settled into for a while. Others, I passed by. feeling I missed out terribly on something precious.

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Dingle, Ireland

This is what I’d like this space to be. Precious. Read my stories, and share yours if and when you are comfortable. Occasionally, there might be a recipe or quote to share, but mostly, there will be stories of adventure–> life, forgiveness, growth, stories that have a glimmer of hope even in times of pain or desperation. I haven’t always done this well. Things have been tough. Life is a messy adventure, after all, and it’s never too late.

So, here, you matter in the midst of this messy adventure. You are welcome to my table.

Come. Relax. Stay.

An Unexpected Lesson (Review)

A couple weeks ago we were on our way to sun and fun. Swimsuits, flip flops, beach towels were packed (sunscreen was forgotten–isn’t there always something?). Despite the packed cooler filled with goodies for the drive, we had to make a stop for M&Ms and kettle chips. Oooh, junk just adds to the fun of going on vacation!

It was my turn in the driver’s seat, and Brian settled in for a nap.

If you’ve never driven through South Carolina, let’s just say there’s nothing redeeming during that journey. Flat and boring, boring and flat. If you have to go to the bathroom, take some toilet paper since you might drive for hours without finding an exit or even seeing a billboard. This particular drive felt like the real neverending story without that almost-cute-but-just-too-strange dog-faced creature (children of the ’80’s, do you remember that movie?).

So, I drove on and on and on and saw a green and yellow car on the side of the road, flashers on. Whew! That sucks. It’s such a hot day, I thought and then actually closed the vents, since the A/C was a little too cold. As I passed, I noticed the lone driver was pregnant.

I continued on. We have vacation to start! Yet, as I tried to forget her, I felt a little less excited about getting there and a little more like a heartless heap of snot.

Why didn’t I stop? What could have I done anyway? Who knows if and how far she would have needed us to drive her? This could take all day!

And then, I realized even if I did nothing else, I could have given her a very cold bottle of water from our cooler packed with goodies.

But I didn’t. And I didn’t go back (I felt better since there was no exit anywhere nearby to turn around, but then I felt even. worse. for her since there was no exit nearby).

About a hour later, I passed someone else whose car was parked on the side of the road with the hood up. As I kept driving, he was walking…walking down this monotonous road on this incredibly hot day. At least there actually happened to be an exit about half a mile away.

Once we reached our destination and for days filled our stomachs with deliciousness, I walked past a woman crying for food in a place where people spend money like it truly does grow on trees. Ah, I didn’t have my wallet with me and couldn’t have helped her. So glad I dodged that one! It can be so… awkward.

You know, I still wonder how it would have been if I would have just stopped to talk to her like the couple I later saw who did that very thing. Oh, and on our initial drive, eventually, that green and yellow car sped past us, but I didn’t feel much better.

I was reminded that I have been on the side of the road with a flat tire waiting for help to arrive. No strangers stopped to help me, either. As I sweated in my car for close to a hour, I saw hundreds of cars and trucks speed past my own with a force that shook me.

I have not, however, been the crying woman asking for food.

If I needed money so I could eat, I would want to be seen and heard and treated like a living, breathing and very hungry person.

We see these kinds of situations everyday. While at times I’d like to jump in and help, it’s true to say that most of the time I don’t. Is it just easier to walk as if we have blinders on or to tell ourselves that it’s “safer” to stay away? After all, we’ve heard the stories of people who make the choice to beg for money instead of taking an available job or appear to be homeless with a nice car parked around the corner. And oh, the dangers! (Really, I am aware that putting myself in certain situations is not safe, but this is not my point.)

Our vacation was fantastic for a lot of ways. One unexpected reason is that I have remembered what I teach my students and apparently, need to keep learning and practicing.

We are all people with very real needs and hurts with a desire to be seen and heard and loved. Everywhere I look, I want to really see and treat people as if they are in fact, precious. And newsflash: It’s just not my job to decide if they are being authentic or not.

So, giving money doesn’t feel right? Well, even a kind word and a smile can make an impact.

Is this something you struggle with, too? How do you decide in those moments how to deal with it?

An Adventure of My Own

The purpose of life it to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

I love this quote, and have had it posted on my refrigerator in one apartment and three different houses as we’ve relocated from place to place over the past decade. Why? Well, it’s a reminder to live something new and wonderful every, single day. I’d love to say that I’m an expert at that, but there are plenty of times I have gotten up, gone to work and gone back home without doing anything spectacular. I’d love to say I’ve visited lots of remote places and eaten turtle blood soup with people of little known cultures. Yep…right after I climbed Mt. Everest and ran a marathon (or even two miles). I used to think I had to do those things to expand my life, and believe me, I’d LOVE to (minus the turtle blood soup), but I’ve come to see that life is an experience if we just experience it, which also requires jumping in and getting started.

It’s surprising that these are a glimpse of a few of my meaningful adventures: the time my older brother and I were kids and wanted to share the experience of riding together down the big hill by our house. We connected ourselves by about six feet of string–one end tied to my index finger and the other end tied to his.  Naturally, the ride began at the top of the hill, he on his skateboard and I on my bike. Well, that was so meaningful, we somehow coordinated running to our house, screaming as our fingers turned blood-red by the tightened string. It ended horribly, but it’s something we can laugh about today (and we both still have all 10 digits). There was also the time I was going to win the fifth grade girls’ 50 yard dash on field day. I won the blue ribbon the previous year for my class and was ready to reclaim my prize until my foot got “tangled” (as she remembers) with my best friend’s, and I fell on my face, a dusty pile of sweat and tears. Something else? In 7th grade, I was on the homecoming court. “No one has messed this up; don’t be the first” was what we were told after being given the directions on how to walk in and stop to have our picture taken. I’m not quite sure what happened, but my picture with my embarrassed date is probably the only one in school history that is different than all the others. On an adventure quest, I climbed to the top of a 50-foot high telephone pole and jumped for the trapeze that seemed like a mile away. I missed it and climbed right back to the top. I never reached that stupid trapeze, but the best part of that story was that I tried again.   

So, clearly, some of these experiences didn’t go so well and others had happy endings… if I change my perspective a bit. I learned that all of these things are a part of who I am. Still today, I can laugh about a lot and throw out a “remember the time when…?” Sharing the journey with others sweetens my existence and my relationships. That’s why I am choosing to continue my own kind of adventure and jump into this blogging thing without rules or promises of any kind. I am learning that the best way to get started is to just. get. started (and thank you, Cheryl, for putting me on a deadline :)).