Category: Healing (page 1 of 2)

Stop Hiding. Shame is Not Your Guide

There’s this thing that keeps up isolated, this thing that keeps us from being freely connected to Christ and the people in our lives. I’ve been pondering this thing, SHAME, because of the destruction I see it causing. Shame is a liar. It tells us that our sin, our struggle, our mess is unique. It says we aren’t worthy to share in the communion of Christians. Shame tells us that NOT admitting our problems out loud somehow makes us stronger, when in reality, shame is the very thing that makes us the weakest. It makes us the most vulnerable to breaking down and dying spiritually. Continue reading

Yes, Let’s Talk About Anna Duggar

I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook recently, when I noticed two of my friends shared the same post, which basically said, “Let’s talk about Anna Duggar.” I thought, “Yes! Let’s talk about Anna!” Anytime there is a scandal involving a man being unfaithful in the media, I always hurt for his wife. Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, Josh Duggar…I’ve pretty much always thought it slimy how the poor wives’ business is strewn across the media, while they grieve.

Anyway, I was excited to see someone else mentioning Anna, so I started to read. Things didn’t go the way I expected, though. According to this Yahoo post, the Facebook status read like this…

“I know everybody is laughing about this Josh Duggar story. Oh, a DUGGAR on Ashley Madison, it’s so rich! I wish more people would talk about Anna. I normally keep things light on Facebook, but let’s talk about Anna. Let me tell you: Anna Duggar is in the worst position she could possibly be in right now. Anna Duggar was crippled by her parents by receiving no education, having no work experience (or life experience, for that matter) and then was shackled to this loser because his family was famous in their religious circle. Anna Duggar was taught that her sole purpose in life, the most meaningful thing she could do, was to be chaste and proper, a devout wife, and a mother. Anna Duggar did that! Anna Duggar followed the rules that were imposed on her from the get-go and this is what she got in reward- a husband who she found out, in the span of 6 months, not only molested his own sisters, but was unfaithful to her in the most humiliating way possible. While she was fulfilling her ‘duty’ of providing him with four children and raising them. She lived up to the standard that men set for her of being chaste and Godly and in return, the man who demanded this of her sought women who were the opposite. ‘Be this,’ they told her. She was. It wasn’t enough.

What is Anna Duggar supposed to do? She can’t divorce because the religious environment she was brought up would blame her and ostracize her for it. Even if she would risk that, she has no education and no work experience to fall back on, so how does she support her kids? From where could she summon the ability to turn her back on everything she ever held to be sacred and safe? Her beliefs, the very thing she would turn to for comfort in this kind of crisis, are the VERY REASON she is in this predicament in the first place. How can she reconcile this? Her parents have utterly, utterly failed her. Think of this: somewhere, Anna Duggar is sitting in prayer, praying not for the strength to get out and stand on her own, but for the strength to stand by this man she is unfortunately married to. To lower herself so that he may rise up on her back.

As a mother of daughters, [Anna’s situation] makes me ill. Parents, WE MUST DO BETTER BY OUR DAUGHTERS. Boys, men, are born with power. Girls have to command it for themselves. They aren’t given it. They assume it and take it. But you have to teach them to do it, that they can do it. We HAVE to teach our daughters that they are not beholden to men like this. That they don’t have to marry a man their father deems ‘acceptable’ and then stay married to that man long, long after he proved himself UNACCEPTABLE. Educate them. Empower them. Give them the tools they need to survive, on their own if they must. Josh Duggar should be cowering in fear of Anna Duggar right now. Cowering. He isn’t, but he should be. He should be quaking in fear that the house might fall down around them if he’s in the same room as she. Please, instill your daughters with the resolve to make a man cower if he must. To say “I don’t deserve this, and my children don’t deserve this.” I wish someone had ever, just once, told Anna she was capable of this. That she knew she is. As for my girls, I’ll raise them to think they breathe fire.”

After reading that, I was angry and sick. This post that was supposed to be standing up for Anna was so incredibly demeaning. It put Anna down in every way.

COMMENCE RANT.

  • You want to talk about breathing fire?! Try to tell me that girls who are raised to believe that being a wife and mother is enough are “crippled”. Seriously? This is so backwards, and ironically, not feminist AT ALL. I can go all kinds of crazy if you want to start with me on that front. Being a strong woman means choosing for yourself. There are a whole bunch of us out here that have strongly chosen to stay home and be a wife and mother AS OUR CAREER. We put our hearts and souls into the effort, and it’s not for the faint of heart.
  • Being strong or fierce has nothing to do with education or career. Sure, Anna didn’t work or go to college. Are you trying to tell me that our grandmothers weren’t fierce?! Because I knew a couple of sassy old ladies who raised some strong kids. Education and work experience have nothing to do with strength and the ability to endure. Harvard grads have nothing on my grandmothers. It takes strength to walk away from a difficult situation, but it also takes a heck of lot of strength to stay and fight.
  • Let’s pretend that Anna did go to college and took the more common path to a career and individuality. Would she have had a better chance at a faithful husband? I have no reason to believe that. Men sin every single day. Why do you think “Ashley Madison” exists? Slime-balls are everywhere, and they are smooth operators. Strong, educated, career women get cheated on everyday. Whose lifestyle and worldview do you blame that on? Regardless of Anna’s path in life, there was nothing she could have done to predict or prevent a man’s choices.
  • Regardless of education, race, or creed, men and women sin, and it hurts their families. This is Josh’s fault, not Anna’s, nor her parents’. Although I’m not entirely comfortable discussing the sin of a man I don’t even know, let’s call a spade a spade. No one would have had ammunition against Anna’s choices if Josh wouldn’t have sinned. If he would have been faithful and protective, the world could have looked on for someone else to criticize. He put her in this tough situation.
  • Furthermore, regardless of his choices, consider the possibility that Anna is exactly where God intended her to be. No matter how much you pray, God will not lead you to marry the perfect person. Beside the cliche that there are no perfect people, sometimes God walks us through really ugly places.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

Remember the story of Hosea? God asked him to not only marry a prostitute, but to also continue to pursue her after she returned to her life of darkness. Someone was going to marry Josh Duggar, and apparently, God thought Anna was the one strong enough…Why on Earth would He ask His child to something so difficult? To show the world exactly how big grace is. God’s love is just like that. Despite your filthy, continuous sin, He keeps coming back to save you from yourself. Anna has the opportunity to love Josh Duggar back to Christ. Maybe it’s the only way to his heart. Again, I don’t know him, but maybe he’s never really understood God’s love. To my knowledge, the deepest way to understand God’s grace in human existence is through the grace shown one another in marriage, the most intimate of relationships on Earth. Anna has all kinds of power to transform her husband if she chooses to stay.I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:18-20, emphasis mine).

  • Truth be told, I don’t know Anna Duggar. She might be a brainwashed, backward, and uneducated wimp who doesn’t understand God’s power. She might be fierce, full of grace, intelligent and loyal. The fact is…I don’t know. I’m writing today because it’s just not fair that we smear her family’s crisis across the media like it’s entertainment. Christians and non-Christians alike love to gossip about celebrities. I hear all the time, “Oh, they signed up for this when they stepped into the limelight.” EXCUSE ME. No. Just because a person has chosen a certain career path, doesn’t change the fact that gossip is sin, it hurts people, and it’s a waste of energy. Standing up for or putting down a person of notoriety is frivolous, because YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW THEM. Although this post is “about Anna”, it’s not. It’s about the idea that a woman being raised to be a wife and mother is crippling. Nonsense. I stand by all women who choose that path. And if I ever met and got to know Anna, I’d stand by her, as well. If I were in her shoes, I’d want to maintain some dignity and have the right to make decisions for my own family as I saw fit. Leave the girl alone.
  • I don’t know where the women from the post above got her information, but being a Christian does not prevent someone from divorcing an unfaithful spouse. That’s ludicrous. If you don’t know the truth about a certain set of beliefs, you shouldn’t make such bold statements. That should be a lesson for Christians, too. Get to know someone and ask them questions about what they believe before you act like you know. Maybe Anna’s family doesn’t believe in divorcing an unfaithful spouse, but if they do, it’s not the Bible they are following. Don’t blame this on Christianity. If a woman decides to leave her husband when he’s unfaithful, Jesus gives the go ahead in Matthew 5:32. We do not serve a merciless God. He doesn’t call us to stay with a person who does not keep his or her marriage bed pure. However, if we choose mercy and grace and attempt to save broken marriages, His power is there for us in our weakness.
  • We don’t know what Anna is praying for. Again, ludicrous.
  • If Anna decides to divorce her husband, God will provide for her and her children. Single moms do it all the time. Just because she didn’t have the traditional high-school-to-college-to-career-to-family path, doesn’t mean she can’t do it all. Again, I felt like this post was so demeaning to this poor girl and any woman who finds herself in a similar situation. Who says she couldn’t strike out on her own and provide for her kids?! Single moms are the fiercest of creatures. If we are going to call Anna weak and incapable, why not call all the girls and women who find themselves pregnant and alone weak and incapable. I dare you to say that in this culture of feminism. She will make her way, whatever she chooses. Contrary to the post above, women are born with power, too. A strength lives inside of us that allows us to birth babies, fight wars, have careers, save lives, raise kids that aren’t our own, and even remain faithful when our husbands fail us.
  • Finally, though much of the post about Anna angered me, I do agree that we need to teach our girls to be strong women. But that doesn’t mean being bitter toward men. Our culture calls for such extremes. Even if Anna were to choose divorce, she can put up that boundary with grace and mercy. In the very nature of a women, there is the power to be gentle and nurturing, even to the lowest creatures. She could call him out of his sin without crushing his soul. That’s the power of gentleness in female form. We stand tall while walking softly. We can be feminine and strong and fierce. That’s the power of a woman.

END RANT.

I Will Rise Out of These Ashes

Are you struggling to get out of debt? Do you feel like you’re in a hole so deep, you’ll never be able to climb out? As I’ve mentioned here before, Dustin and I have struggled quite a bit financially. However, we’re starting to gain some momentum toward freedom from past mistakes.

Without going into detail about the hows and whens, Dustin and I fell into a pretty deep pit of debt before we raised the white flag in 2013. Before you judge a person (or yourself for that matter) too harshly for making poor financial decisions, you have to consider that a person of good-will doesn’t wake up and say, “I think I’ll make terrible decisions with money today. Maybe I’ll even destroy my family’s finances.” Financial ruin is a slow, agonizing process, as far as I’m concerned.

People use money poorly for all sorts of reasons. We wanted to follow immature dreams, “make a life for ourselves”, feel better about personal failures, heal from sorrow, love on other people, feel like we belonged…We never meant to enslave ourselves, but that’s what we did.

When I started working full-time in 2013, I was devastated and afraid I’d never be able to shovel my way out of the mess I was in. I feared my choices would limit Josiah’s future. The difference this time, was that I made a very specific financial plan and stuck with it.

Little by little, I paid off small debts – doctor bills, store cards, etc. Then onto the bigger fish…consumer credit cards.

I kept a margin, albeit small, for fun. However, I didn’t let it get me down when I had to turn my friends’ invitations down if I just didn’t have the money. The truth is, the people who love and care for you will make opportunities to spend time with you that don’t involve spending money. I kept fighting and celebrating each little victory.

Every penny counts, as they say. Although it felt like it would take all of eternity to pay down the mountain of debt standing in our path, making good decisions each week really adds up. Time passes so quickly; even here to eternity isn’t as long as you’d think. I look back on all of the small extra payments I’ve made over the last few years, and I’m so grateful. I kept pushing even when it seemed like it wouldn’t make a difference. After two years, Dustin and I have pushed through about a fifth of what we owe. We have a long way to go, but so much less than we did in 2013. All that’s left are student loans, and at least we know that debt had a solid purpose.

Truthfully, during our early years of marriage, we were “needy” unnecessarily. I don’t love admitting that, but MBW is about vulnerability and solidarity, right? Anyway, when we moved to Indianapolis is 2010, we were “in need” of a washer and dryer. We should have been able to afford that ourselves, but we couldn’t. A friend, full of grace, reached out and offered us the funds to have clean clothes at home. He offered it as a gift or a loan, and that was up to us. Somewhere between gratitude and pride, we agreed to pay him back, but he requested we only pay back the money when we could do so in one lump sum.

Although it wasn’t an outlandish amount of money, by the time 2013 rolled around, I couldn’t imagine a time when we’d be able to pay him back all at once. I mean, surely there’d be some “emergency” that would make saving that money impossible. If we hadn’t changed those old habits, I would have been right.

However, last week, I mailed the check to our friend. Debt paid in full.

If you’ve ever run in a race, you probably know that feeling of exhaustion and pride at finishing. You’ve given it all you’ve got, and you’re out of breath, but it’s over. It felt like freedom and victory all at once to sign that check and stamp that envelope.

If that weren’t reward enough, I received a beautiful message from our friend. The check was an unexpected blessing that came at the perfect time for him and his family. Glory be!

I’ve been at the receiving end of just-in-time financial blessings, and it was amazing that God used our victory to bless our full-of-grace friend.

There’s a lesson there for me. So many times, I’ve wallowed in sorrow that I wasn’t in the place/relationship/job/financial status that I SHOULD have been. My LORD is teaching me that when I hand my life over to Him and make choices within His will, I am EXACTLY where I belong. It may have taken us almost five years to pay off that small debt, but it was in perfect time in the hands of God.

Those of you who watch F-R-I-E-N-D-S, remember the scene where Phoebe is dating that creepy psychologist who sits around and effectively, but annoyingly, psychoanalyzes everyone? Near the end, he tells Monica (who is eating cookies), “Remember, they’re just food. They’re not love.”

Phoebe and Roger

The same can be said for money. “It’s just money. It’s not love.” At its best, money should be used as a tool to live and better lives. At its worst, money can destroy families, as they seek ways to give and feel love. You don’t have to let that be your story.

Be encouraged that no matter what mess you’re living in, it’s not over, yet. It can get better, even when it feels like all hope is lost. Start making healthy choices now, or reach out for help if you don’t know how. I’m no expert, but I do know how to stop digging the pit of debt deeper and start climbing out toward freedom. I’m willing to help in whatever way I can. Message me if you need encouragement. You can rise out of the ashes, too.

 

I’m Taking the Road to Health Less Traveled

Friends, I have been looking forward to sharing this post with you so much! It’s no secret to people who know me that I geek out about natural health. I’ve spent at least half of my life learning about food and how it affects us, body and soul. I was very athletic from a young age, and I’ve always enjoyed being active. Living a healthy lifestyle has always been important to me, and when I’ve veered off track, I’ve suffered for it.

All that being said, there were still a lot of things I’ve done poorly. This life is a journey, and we have to keep learning. If we stay the same, we’ll become stagnant and risk keeping habits that aren’t truly healthy.

Although I’ve maintained a relatively healthy weight through the years, I’ve battled chronic pain since I was in my freshman year of college. It’s only gotten worse through the years. Poor Dustin is probably so sick of hearing “I don’t feel good.” I’ve dealt with anxiety, depression, fatigue, poor temperature regulation, low blood sugar, low iron, PMS (before, during, and after that golden time of the month), menstrual migraines, weather induced migraines, sinus headaches, seasonal allergies, and food sensitivities…

Um watch out, I’m the hot-mess-express! I’ve been way sicker, weaker, depressed, and tired than a person my age should be. I’ve had doctors tell me my joints are older than my biological age…not where a health conscious momma wants to find herself.

So…what’s the deal? I mean, I eat healthier than the average American, and I’m active.

Like I said before, I was still doing things wrong for a long time. I wasn’t feeding my body what it needed, and I was giving it a lot of things that were causing me harm.

The first year Dustin and I were married, I figured out that gluten really contributes to my pain and fatigue. Dairy contributes to my allergies and stomach pain. For several years, I was faithfully off of gluten, and I began to eat as a vegetarian. I considered myself pretty healthy then. I suffered a lot less pain, and I was able to get pregnant with Josiah during that time.

Apparently, Josiah has been a carnivore since conception, because not long after I got pregnant, I began CRAVING meat. “Eat all the hamburgers!” was the message I was getting from the womb. Suddenly, my diet did a 180. I went from eating veggies, some dairy, eggs, and healthy grains and legumes to eating meat and starches. Yikes. I gained about 40 pounds and did not manage to go back to my previous lifestyle.

Although I was able to drop the pregnancy weight, my chronic pain increased dramatically through the years, and I continued to experience fatigue and the inability to keep up with other people my age. 

I’ve been told I’m an old lady more times than I’d like to admit. It sounds funny, but if I let myself think about it for too long, I’d probably melt into a puddle of tears. I despise feeling run down and having pain that interferes with living a normal life. I do not want to be able to determine the forecast with my joints, for the love. 

Over the last few years of chaos, my diet has basically been eat-whatever-is-available. If someone else cooked it and offered it, even better. As you can imagine, consuming dairy and gluten, along with all sorts of other convenience foods have reeked havoc on my body and mind. So. Much. Pain.

Recently, though, I’ve been cleaning up my diet and trying to get back on track. My family is doing great, and I want to be my best me.

The more I researched and the more migraines I had (In spite of being gluten free and very low in dairy), the more I started to believe there was a big piece to the health puzzle that I was missing.

SUGAR.

It’s the problem. I’m convinced.

If you’ve ever walked through a grocery store and turned packages over to read labels, you’d know that sugar is in EVERYTHING. Anything processed and prepared by the food industry has sugar added or some other neuro-toxin that will trick your mind into thinking fake food tastes good.

Although I’ve been trying to eat whole foods, I still sometimes go for convenience. That “healthy” organic granola bar I’d have in the afternoon was full of sugar. The homemade, from scratch, pumpkin bread I made for breakfast contained sugar. Even though I bought the far less processed cane sugar, I was still eating way too much. I know sugar is what was making me sick.

Sugar causes inflammation in our bodies.

Inflammation is a major contributing factor in chronic pain, cancer, ADD/ADHD, diabetes, PCOS, thyroid problems, fatigue…just about any ailment you can list. Sugar makes you sick. END OF STORY.

Knowledge is good, but wisdom requires action…so just cut out sugar, right?

WRONG.

Sugar is highly addictive. Even if you don’t want to read up on it, I challenge you to watch the documentary Fed Up. In one section, they reported that cocaine addicted lab rats were offered sugar water…and they chose sugar water over cocaine. If that doesn’t convince you that sugar is addictive, I don’t know what will.

How do you give up a drug, especially one that is so readily available in our food?

In my experience, shear will power alone won’t kick this habit.

July 4, 2015 was the day I finally decided to stop whining and start taking the initiative to better my health. That day, I started following the Trim Healthy Mama Plan

Trim Healthy Mama

 

I am so glad I did.

This meal plan is like no other I’ve tried, and I’ve tried plenty…Adkins, Weight Watchers, Vegetarian, Paleo, Whole 30. None of them worked for my body entirely. Although each of them emphasize a lot of good things, none of them helped me kick my sugar habit.

This plan is one that strategically feeds my body the things it actually NEEDS, so that it can fight back when my brain sends signals to eat things that are extremely harmful (i.e. processed foods, refined sugar and starches, etc.).

The basic concept is that you only eat whole foods, eat protein with every meal and snack, and if you are actively trying to lose weight, do not consume fat and carbohydrates together. Eat the food God made. It really can be that simple.

If you are struggling with any sort of ailment, physical or mental, PLEASE give this some consideration. I would get on my hands and knees and beg the people I love to give this a try if I thought that would be effective (People think I’m crazy enough, so I won’t). I just hope someone reading this will take control of their health and experience the benefits I have.

In my first month on THM…

1. I stopped having weather induce migraines.

2. I stopped craving junk food and excess sugar.

3. I didn’t have my very predictable menstrual migraine.

4. I was NOT hungry. You get to be full on this plan! No misery over feeling hungry. Or in my case, hangry

5. I did not count a single calorie, and I ate gobs of butter. Yum! (Healthy fats are SO important!).

6. I ate until I was full 4-5 times per day. We’re talking meal portions, people.

7. I have experienced far less pain (almost none!). Glory!

8. I lost 7 lbs. (This is a big deal. That’s about 1/3 of what I want/need to lose…all in the first month!).

9. I have gotten excited about all the yummy foods I CAN eat. Hello skinny chocolate, chicken enchiladas, and Good Girl Moonshine

10. I do NOT have sugar crashes and the afternoon slump that I could count on before.

11. I have gained so much confidence that a healthy weight and overall well-being are possible.

12. My husband finds me even more attractive than he already did, and he’s very supportive of this new lifestyle. Whoop whoop!

I wouldn’t dare endorse something I hadn’t experienced for myself…That being said, I would wholeheartedly recommend this plan to anyone reading, because it’s working wonders for me. Truly, I would follow this plan even if I wasn’t losing weight, because I think it’s the key to good physical health…and physical health is a major factor in mental and spiritual health, as well.

Although I don’t believe that what we eat should be a religious matter (Read the New Testament if you disagree), I do think what we eat is a spiritual matter. Is it a sin to eat sugar? NO! Are we probably better off without it? Yes! I know that when I’m not at my best, I can’t reach my potential for Christ. The confidence and improved health I’m gaining with Trim Healthy Mama is allowing me to give my best for HIS glory. Can I get an AMEN?!

There’s a great community of ladies on Facebook who are available to offer suggestions and support 24/7, so I’d suggest joining today, even if you aren’t sure you want to try it. The testimonials on there are evidence enough for the skeptic in me. Stories of weight loss, pregnancy after years of infertility, healing from PCOS, diabetes, thyroid disease, and the list goes on…real life accounts every single day. It’s incredible and such a blessing to watch other women succeed.

Although you can start the plan without the THM Book (Here’s a quick start guide), I really think it’s a great resource. I’ve been fortunate that my mom has shared hers with me. If not, I’d definitely want to buy my own copy.

If you’re ready to get healthy, please consider this plan. I’d love to answer any questions I can. I always love to chat about food and good health. I guarantee you don’t have to do anything fancy or buy any expensive products to experience the joy that is Trim Healthy Mama. You can make this plan as simple or complicated as you like. It’s doable on a budget and on the run. Why not try it for one month and see what happens? I bet you won’t regret it!

An Invitation to Be Real

I recently started reading Donald Miller’s new book, Scary CloseIn a way, I’m a Donald Miller fangirl, at least as much as an introverted, down-to-earth momma would be.

IG Donald Miller Like

I mean, it’s not like that screaming, crying, wearing a t-shirt with his face on it kind of fandom. More like the kind of excitement you feel when you’ve met another soul who gets it.

Scary Close is sort of ripping me apart. Have you ever had one of those times when you think you’ve really matured, and then you read or witness something that reminds you how much of a mess you still are? 

Scary Close

That’s what this book is doing for me. It’s not as bad as it sounds, though, now that I read it back to myself. This kind of heart-wrecking is actually a good thing; a reminder of our own humanity.

Miller’s writing has always struck me as the type of authenticity I want to offer my readers, but this book has been different for me. Most of his writing leaves me feeling uplifted, but this one is heavy. It’s so real; it makes me ache.

His struggle with intimacy is so much like my own.


Back in college, I got a clerical job in the Registrar’s Office, and I met Christine. She was only a bit older than me, but I could tell she had years of wisdom on me. She made me feel like my mess was okay to share. Sometimes I wonder if she went home exhausted after working with me. She invited me to be real, but also spoke some hard truths into my heart. Her friendship spurred me on to find the truth I was seeking and to become a whole person again.

For my birthday, Christine gave me a journal made with natural fiber paper. I loved writing on that paper, and I filled the journal from front to back. It’s hard for me to read at times, but it is also an incredible testament to the depths from which I rose.

One entry always strikes me.

Real Journal

“I want something to be REAL. I want to let go and have real adventure.” I look back at that girl and still hurt for her. She was desperate and scared and completely at a loss.

Toward the end of my freshman year, I realized that I had been playing a part for so long, I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was so broken from my past that I felt completely unlovable, so I hid behind a persona I thought was more likable than me.

But along the way, there were people who invited me to open up and own my wreckage. And so, if I offer you nothing else, I want to invite you to be real.

Nothing is too messy for Jesus to redeem, and nothing is to messy to share here. I’m not great a small-talk, but man, I can listen to your story. I revel in authenticity, so bring it on.

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