Little Bits of Hope: March

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Are you out there, God?

 

“Yes, Father, I still believe in your goodness, despite what I see with my eyes;

Yes, Father, I still believe you have a plan for my life, despite what I feel in my heart;

Yes, Father, I still believe my best days are ahead of me, despite what my enemies and friends and family and loved ones say to me;

Even if you ask me to live in mystery the rest of my life, I will wake up every day and say yes, Father, I still believe in you (page 154). “

When I was a teenager I went to a Christian camp, where the theme was Where is God When Bad Things Happen? He’s On His Throne. Although, I wanted that to be enough for me, I couldn’t believe it was that easy. And if it was, what did it really mean? To me, it sounded like God was aloof in his safe place, while all of us down here really lived our crazy stories and hurt in unimaginable ways. What kind of God was he anyway? I felt alone.

As an adult, I eventually picked up Second Guessing God: Hanging On When You Can’t See His Plan by Brian Jones. If, like me, you’ve cried and begged, angrily wondering where God is when devastating things continue to happen every second, practically every place in the world, take a look at this relate-able book. His prayer (above) is so honest, choosing to trust when he can’t make sense of all that’s around him; it’s refreshing to to have an example like this, since he leans toward God, when times are mysterious and scary. Written with humor and transparency, Brian is a Jesus follower, who actually admits he does not know all the answers and lays out his struggles with what he sees around him. No worries, I’ll share my copy with you but will expect it back at some point (it’s just that good!).

On Rest and Recovery

Does all that has to get done today have to get done today?

restIn this multitasking age of do more, see more, be more, live in the moment and seize the day there is a lot of pressure to DO and just keep doing. Yes, we need to live a focused life; however, we need to regularly stop, or we’ll be stopped by sickness when the body doesn’t recover from the day’s stress. Did you know the brain also functions better when it has regular sleep?

For a while, I would have paid for good sleep if that were an option, but I don’t take sleeping pills since they leave me feeling groggy for hours. Night after night, I tossed and turned, becoming more anxious as I wondered how I’d get everything done the next day. When my rheumatologist wrote down:

Patient needs 45 minutes of rest a day in or on bed,

I felt like I hit the lottery because not only was I told I had to slow down, but now I had permission (in writing)! And that shifted my thinking in a big way because I had a mandatory rest time (like in first grade but without my Strawberry Shortcake pillow), and it made a difference.  Suddenly, it was more about what I chose NOT to do than what I did. This is a choice I have to make every day, and it does not come easy. Even now, Brian will ask me when I am going to stop the busy-ness when I’ve worked all day and then continued working at home in the evenings.

If sleep and rest are problematic for you, here are some ideas others have shared with me that have helped me. Every body is different, so maybe you will find one or several that work for you.

  • communicate your needs to those around you when you need rest and ask them help you stay on track
  • cancel social plans if it feels like staying out is too much for you (but don’t forget to arrange to spend time together another day)
  • massage organic sesame oil on bottoms of feet right before bed
  • try Natural Calm, a magnesium supplement also called “the anti-stress drink”
  • take a 20 minute bath with epsom salts and (optional) essential oils like lavendar (epsom salts/ magnesium is also helpful for painful joints)
  • drink warm milk with cinnamon or cardamom
  • 30 minutes before bed, turn off all screens – the light from TV, phone and other electronics keeps your mind wired
  • get in bed and read for 30 minutes
  • listen to quiet music
  • even if you are stressed, worried or angry, try starting a mental or written gratitude list
  • pray – When the lights are turned off and it’s quiet, it’s hard not to focus on all that’s not right in our life or the world. I love this verse–“Come to me, all you who are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

What can you choose NOT to do today? Give yourself permission to listen to your body and do what you need for yourself. If that doesn’t work, here’s your permission–>get some rest in or on bed. 🙂

 

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