The Battle With Autoimmune Disease

The Battle With Autoimmune Disease

It was just two years ago, when I decided that I was done having an autoimmune disease. Without digging too deep into history, I had been sick for a long time. A really long time. When I met my husband (at age 21), I had a decade of doctors visits and hospital stays under my belt; I was taking a powerful drug to keep my seizures under control; and I readily shared about my dis-ease. I shared because in order to do life with me, you would have to also do life with it.

Fast forward through learning that I had lumps in both breasts in 2008 and then living through one of the worst autoimmune crash/flares of my adult life in 2011 and, we were absolutely doing life with it. Life was a delicate dance of “living” to the max and then going days and days with an exhaustion so deep that I thought that I might die. Literally. Mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, it is taxing to feel like a burden. I know this firsthand. And because I didn’t want others to know how much of life felt like a challenge to me, there was a constant chatter in my head of “I can go without this much sleep until…” and “I can have this much sugar today, but…” and “I can go out for at least…” Perhaps, dot dot dot.

By 2015, I had spent more time crawling through motherhood than experiencing it. So, I claimed change. I claimed laying it all at the Lord’s feet thanks to Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I couldn’t quite imagine this easy yoke or less-burdensome existence that Jesus spoke of, but I was willing to search for it. These are my tips from that adventure:

  1. Ditch the label. When I picked up my bible and found Matthew 11:28-30, I wasn’t picking up the cross too. Jesus died to make us whole. Did you hear that? You Are Whole. You are not your disease. You actually aren’t any of the labels society throws at you – but especially this. You do not have a cross to carry (Jesus carried it already), and your disease does not define you. Unless you allow it to. Which brings me to my next tip…
  2. Pick up a micro-habit. Find something attainable and do it every single day. Your habits do define you. They build you up into the person that God wants you to be! You can only become this best version of you in two ways: 1. by slowing moving in the direction of who you want to become and 2. by beginning with the end in mind. Slow movement is easy to make into consistent movement. Goals make movement almost effortless. Example: Every teacher and holistic doctor that I’ve seen over the last two decades has reminded me that while rest is necessary with the disease that I do battle with, I must still exercise in whatever capacity my body allows – even a 2-5 minute walk each day counts. My goal this year? Exercise daily. My micro habit? 10 push ups a day (…keep the doctors away… is my 2017 motto). And guess what? Most days, I throw in some yoga, a plank, or some sit ups. And when I feel really good? I hit the elliptical machine. An object in motion stays in motion. Period. If you know nothing else about our Lord, know that His goal for you is to be blessed by the body that you’re in. For some of us, it’s recognizing that complete healing is an option (and then choosing micro-habits to move toward that). And for others, it’s seeing the good in what we – in our humanness – often want to label as bad or ugly. Whether you’re on either side of that path (healing or thriving with disease), it’s time to hit up my final tip…
  3. Get into gratitude. One of my favorite references to “praising through hardship” is in the bible. While many of us understand the power of a positive mindset, there is nothing that can mend a broken soul more permanently than belief in something or someone greater than yourself. I want you to know that wherever you’re at, Job most likely had it worse. But because of his faith, he was able to go through the agony of scraping itchy sores all over his body with a clay pot, yet still find goodness His perspective took into account that in his lifetime, he had experienced lots and lots of blessings from the hands of the Lord. And guess what – after his hardship, there were also lots and lots of blessings! Even during Dengue Fever (exacerbated by my autoimmune disease), I could praise through. Did I ask God to take me away? Absolutely! I’m human – and the worst pain of my entire life accompanied the mosquito-borne viral infection. But there were moments that I could see Papa’s great hand on my life (like the fact that during the illness, my husband was already a stay at home dad and could take care of our young kids). Back to Job. Read it. For real! I don’t care if you don’t have a believing bone in your body (okay, actually I do – because I love you, but still), grab The Message version of the bible and read this. If you don’t enjoy reading, watch this sermon. Then praise through with me.

My greatest prayer is that in reading this today, these tips will help you. Some of us heal from disease and others of us walk through it for a lifetime. If you’re on the latter end, know that you aren’t walking it alone. I am with you, and far greater than that God is with you. There are ways to go this path without the yoke and the burden. And all of them go back to a relationship with Him. If you’d like to learn more, contact me. I would be happy to partner with you as you grow in your wellness and faith, because truly, they go hand-in-hand.

So Many Blessings,

xox Mama J.

Premature Labor & Bliss: How A Healthy Baby Changed My Life

Premature Labor & Bliss: How A Healthy Baby Changed My Life

To my precious Wild,

I love you. Happy fourth anniversary of our first big hurdle together. I know we’ll have many, many more challenges because of the way your precious body works. I also know we’ll have many, many more wins because of the unshakeable faith that I have in our Heavenly Father.

To my friends,

Today I want to share a snippit of our adventure with Bliss. And how it was absolutely wild from the get go!

Four years ago today I was 32 weeks and 1 day pregnant with my second miracle baby. On March 13, 2013 I found myself sitting in a room full of health care providers and experts in maternal well-being. The theme of our time together? Preventing and supporting maternal mental health for those experiencing premature birth (and birth loss). I left that conference with a strange tightness in my chest. It was the same tightness that I felt while carrying my son… but I can only recognize that years later. In that moment, I just didn’t feel “right.”

I returned to my office, and sat down at my desk. After a few minutes, I asked a colleague if she would bring me to the hospital. Was it a heart attack?

I don’t remember much about the 24-48 hours that followed (I think that’s a protective boundary my sweet mind has gifted me), but I do remember two things: 1. the moment that my blood pressure crashed due to a medication meant to stop my contractions (No heart attack here! Just preterm labor. Again.), and 2. when I heard the words BED REST.

Millions and millions of women have no idea what it’s like to be on bedrest twice. But thousands of us do. Is it worth it for a healthy baby? YES. Is it pure torture while you’re on that particular path? Oh, friend. You can’t even imagine.

There I was, a mother with severe perinatal anxiety being put on modified bedrest (at home, Praise Jesus!) for 22 hours a day, every day. A mother still recovering from postpartum depression who now had limited contact with her two-year old son – let alone any other human being for weeks and weeks on end. (The second half was a product of living in the sticks back then.)

I will never, ever complain about those five long, medicated, darkest of dark weeks where I wept every day and pretended to be fine. Those weeks gave me a beautiful child of full health born on (wait for it…) her DUE DATE. We both proved our fight. (Thank you Bliss for teaching me how to be bold and brave then, just as you do now.)

My friend, the story doesn’t end with a healthy baby. It begins there. I’m reflecting on that right now because so very many women don’t experience this gift. Nothing can prepare you for all the feelings you learn about as you hold your first healthy baby. Nothing can prepare you for the joy you’ll experience. And nothing can prepare you for the longing and sadness that might rise up, too. When I gave birth to this baby, I realized how very disconnected I had been from my first…

Regrets? I have none. But I do have so much empathy for the woman I was. The woman who didn’t know what motherhood could be – who had no idea that she could fall madly in love with a child at first sight. Oh, how I fell in love with my Bliss at first sight!

In our short time together, Bliss has taught me gratitude. She has taught me big, scary love. She has taught me patience and kindness and loving-awareness and simplicity and balance. Bliss has taught me connection and reconnection and bravery and that it’s okay to not text back right away (life doesn’t stop) and that you can actually give birth to one of your very best friends… And we’ve only been together 4 years.

It feels simultaneously absurd and authentic to write this… but I can’t wait for the next four and the next four and the next forty. A mother’s job isn’t to raise her young and walk away – but to counsel the next generation in her wisdom as she grows old. This season is just the beginning of something beautiful. Today, I get to walk alongside moms who have experienced chunks of life that have look like my chunks. But there will come a tomorrow when I will get to walk alongside my Bliss, teach her what she has unknowingly taught me.

xox

Mama J.

 

She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: “Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.” -Proverbs 31:26-31

Feeling All The Mama Feels

Can I go Here and come back whole? I ask myself as I put my fingers to the keyboard this morning. It’s so easy to become lost in thought. Especially for a girl who hides from emotion. Or a girl who hid from emotion. A girl who doesn’t hide from feelings anymore… yet doesn’t particularly care for excessive feeling either. Still.

Perhaps, after months of write-free sabatical, and an exploration into integrative wellness from the other side of the table (as a coach-in-training), I can be Here and return into my sweet little world whole.

Let’s give it a try.

Today, I want to talk to you about these emotions I’ve been burying for years and years (and years). Today, I want to be brave enough to tell you that you are not alone if you have had big, scary emotions begin to rise up – and then you completely freaked the freak out (with or without knowing it). Today, I want to be brave enough to share this space with you. Because maybe, just maybe, if we share this space it will be easier to tell you about Jamie. And maybe it will be easier to tell you about growing into an emotional being, too.

Jamie was the first mother that I chose a relationship with shortly after becoming a mother myself. My peers didn’t have kids, especially sick ones, and I was crawling out of my skin most days pretending to be someone I wasn’t… yet. But in those conversations with Jamie – a friend and employee at my day job – I wasn’t pretending. I could tell her about the sleepless nights and the worry. She held a space for me. And in return, I held one for her. Our sons were only two weeks apart in age, and we could connect on so many different experiences. Including this one: Jamie lived with a physical dysfunction that was wreaking havoc on her life. That dysfunction took her from our beautiful world five years ago today.

That experience that we connected on has absolutely wreaked havoc on my life too. And five years ago, I had just recovered from an autoimmune crash and back injury. I was teaching yoga, contemplating leaving my job in veterinary medicine, and feeling nothing (still). My son was 20 months old, and I was completely disconnected. But on the day that Jamie passed away, I felt something for the first time since becoming a mom. I felt something real and raw and vulnerable. And it wasn’t fear – quite possibly the only thing that I had been feeling for quite some time. What I felt was one of the deepest sadnesses that I have ever known. And, home alone with my little boy when I received the news, I felt one of the deepest loves that I have ever known too. My mild child sat upon my lap as I crumbled that day. He sat upon my lap and he wiped away each and every tear that fell.

The little boy that I didn’t know how to love, loved me. I can’t put this experience into any more words than this. At least not today.

Flash forward through the next year, and slowly but surely more emotions bubbled up to the surface. And of course, one by one, I pushed them back down. When I became pregnant with our second baby, I decided immediately it should be a boy again. I was raised to believe that boys were less emotional. Which would obviously make life much easier for me!

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This little boy might be the most emotional being I’ve ever met. He breaks down gender stereotypes daily. And I love it.

But alas, God’s hand placed me on a healing path – and that second miracle child ended up being a sweet (and wild) little girl. Not only did I begin to learn emotion through her, but I learned that all people have emotion through having her. Emotion isn’t just a girl or woman thing. It’s a people thing. (And it is safe to have them.) I’ve seen the emotion of a little boy learning to grow into a relationship with a lost mama bear; and then watched his emotions expand and contract as he learns to grow into relationship with a special needs sister. I’ve seen the emotion of a man who almost lost his father. I’ve seen the emotion of a child lost in her world. I’ve seen my emotions twist and turn and churn and bubble up through it all.

And while I don’t love the idea of being so hugely vulnerable as to feel all the feels all the time, I do feel a lot of feels a lot of the time now. Feels that don’t pull me down into a deep dark hole, but inspire me to lift someone else out of theirs.

How do you live in your emotional body? Does it feel good and safe to you? I would love to know.

To Jamie – thank you for being on my heart daily. You remind me always that being present means being grateful for all of the gifts that Papa has given me.

xox

Mama J.

 

Acceptance In Motherhood

Dear Mama,

9 hours. Did you know that it takes 9 (interrupted) hours to take a 2 hour defensive driving course online at home on a Sunday afternoon? If this isn’t motherhood in a nutshell, then nothing is! Pretty much everything that we do – once we enter the realm of nurturing other little beings – takes at least double the time to complete. Are you okay with that?

Yesterday, I was not. I was not okay with the distractions and the interruptions and the crying and the screaming and the tattling and the nose-picking arguments. (You know the one. It starts with “please, sweetie get your fingers out of your nose,” and ends up with you raving over the 15 different reasons why you should not stick your fingers in your nose… to a three year old, who at the end of the conversation is still picking their nose. #JesusFixIt) Yes, yesterday acceptance was long gone and I was being hung out to dry by two precious miracles who sucked all of the love words right out of my soul and replaced them with responses like, “really?” and “I can’t even.” Please note, hands were being thrown in the air during both responses. Signs that you really have a frustrated mama bear.

But guess what? I have no guilt. I have no guilt that acceptance wasn’t even slightly on my radar. I have no guilt that I’m human. And that I’m okay with. Are you okay with your humanness?? Are you okay that sometimes your mission field is full of explosive mines and that sometimes, you’ll get struck – you’ll go down, down, down – and then you’ll reappear as Mommy Mary Poppins the next morning? Are you okay with that?

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She’s okay with it. She is more than okay with my humanness. Because interestingly enough, she already recognizes HER humanness.

 

Mama, I want to know if you’re okay with that because our mission field might always be filled with tiny explosive devices – some that might be concealed for weeks or months or years – and then boom. You trip one, and you are no longer the magical mama bear you’ve worked overtime to become. You’re just a bear with limited maternal instinct, but your survival instinct is still on fleek, so you roar and you run… And then Monday morning comes and you gush over how blessed you are and it brings you so much joy to see your kids excited for school – and that bow, did you see that bow my wild is wearing today?

We’re an interesting bunch, aren’t we?

This morning, I imagine that Big Papa is rolling over our interestingness. I believe He finds enormous humor in our innocence – and not in a roll-your-eyes-at-that-mom-over-there kind of humor. A genuine, childlike Joe Biden meme kind of humor. Have you seen those meme’s yet? Mama, just x right out of this post right now and google it. Okay, okay, we’re mid-conversation – so check it out later at the very least!

He finds humor in how one moment we’re on cloud nine posting on every social media platform that our miracle child has a wonderful new skill (like peeing on the potty) and the next minute, we’re barricaded in the bathroom with a glass of wine and some chocolate, while Frozen is playing on repeat in the living room. We somehow believe that our “Frozen moment” is a sign of our weakness and our failure – meanwhile, we’ve got a savior that died for our sins so that our failures would be absolutely unrecognizable to our Heavenly Father!

Y’all, Jesus fixed it! Can we be okay now? Can we be okay that while striving for being more, we have a good, good Father that loves us the same even when we’re not? Can we accept that no matter how wobbly we personally feel, that we are always on solid ground with the One who loves us enough to have given us these challenging miracles? I hope so. I hope and pray that we can be okay with what is while working for what can be. Because I promise you, you are worthy of okay. Actually, you’re worthy of a whole lot more than okay.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14

Let’s rock more than okay. Catch you soon, sweet friend.

xox

Mama J.

Why I Went Back to Facebook

Dear Mama,

For almost a week, I walked away from Facebook. If I’m completely honest, that was in part due to the upcoming election and the negativity that I found vomited all over my newsfeed day after day after day. {Still, I’m human.} Gone were the sweet pictures of new babies and old friends and crock pot recipes and family vacations. And I felt my excitement for the social media platform in general dwindle. Over the last three years, Facebook has been my space. It’s where I have connected with my yoga students off of the yoga mat – and it’s where I have stayed in touch with our team around the world! I was shouting it’s praises for building community. I loved Facebook.

And then I didn’t anymore. Yet, I still went back.

I went back after I spent some time in prayer over my hiatus. Five minutes here and there. An entire boat ride with the grandparents. A walk through Walmart, during which I’m sure I got looks as my mouth moved in silence. {That’s just how I pray, y’all.} Prayer about our family, our business, our sensory wild child and miracle mild one. Prayer over church and community and government. Praise over God’s goodness in every gap he’s filled. I still didn’t have the answer to whether I should be on Facebook, though. Then I wrecked my car, Wild in the back seat, and reality hit as I journaled. That reality is simple: we can’t run away from what isn’t working, if we’ve been called to fix it.

burn
It was risky business posting this. I’m not in love with how I look – but giving testimony where it’s due means showing messy, not perfect.

This thought or prompting, brought me to the moment many, many years ago when I gave up. I sat on my knees in a damp, stinky basement – and I prayed to be released from life. I was in a rough relationship, my best friend had just announced her affair, and I had decided to confront someone close to me about long time abuse. All of that isn’t what is important from this memory, though. What’s important is what I heard, which is this: “You are here to make other people happy.” Boom. Calling named. Now, back to why I can’t leave Facebook…

I can’t leave Facebook because I wasn’t called to watch change happen. I was and am called to make change happen. To be the change, as Mr. Gandhi said. And as I gave thanks in my journal for walking away from a pretty good {not good} accident, I realized that no one knew I had walked away with minor, minor injuries – and that my baby girl had none. Not a single one. If no one knows your testimony, it’s kind of like it never happened. It happened. And to give glory where glory is due – to over 2,000 Facebook family, friends, and business partners – isn’t optional. It is necessary.

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At least it is for me. So, going forward – I’m back on Facebook. Will I take breaks here and there? Absolutely! It’s good for the soul. But I won’t leave until it is no longer a space where more love and light and laughter is needed. Project Change All The Lives has only just begun, because love can break through.

When love broke thru

You found me in the darkness

Wanderin’ thru the desert

I was a hopeless fool

Now I’m hopelessly devoted

My chains are broken

And it all began with You

When love broke thru

And it all began with You

When love broke thru

– When Love Broke Through, Toby Mac

Until we meet again – may love break through.

xox

Mama J.

Seek Not – Why I Gave Up Control

Dear Wild,

Seek not control, for it won’t be given.

Seek not, sweet baby girl. It’s one of the only things that I can truly say that I have learned in mothering a sensory child (you). After what felt like (or actually was) over six weeks with few breaks from the wildness, we’ve hit our longest streak of calm in the last two years. (If you consider bite wounds on your brother’s nose calm. And after many of our other adventures, I certainly do.) This calm will potentially be disrupted by the multi-sensory, emotional experience of being reunited with family in a few short days – but alas, we have seen you my wild child. We have seen you. The you that lies far beneath the squirming and anxiety attacks and sensory meltdowns and obsessive compulsive cleaning and tidying tendancies. And you are beautiful, Wild.

Let me clear the air and tell you mother to daughter that you have always been beautiful. The rolling over within 24 hours of birth? Beautiful. The wide eyed (insane-looking) smiles you gave at just three weeks old? Beautiful. The 24/7 demand to nurse for 10 months? Beautiful. The asphalt-stained face after your first public meltdown? Beautiful. The way you scream with excitement? Beautiful. The confused and dazed look that overcomes your sweet face on a challenging day? Beautiful. You are always beautiful.

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There is nothing like watching your child thrive in a social experience. You absolutely amazing me, Wild. Your fight to be the best version of you continues to push me to be the best version of me!

Do you know what else is beautiful?

Handing over the reigns. Letting go of what you can’t control. I’ve been in awe this past week of who you are and who you are becoming. Yet, these last few days I’ve been waiting in fear – forgetting to breathe – because barring a miracle, this will not last. Oh, but imagine if it did?! I have to remind myself to hope for it, still. That while we treat you and work to prevent challenges, I can still pray for your complete recovery. And I can still know that God is God and that if it’s not his plan, then that’s okay too.

Motherhood is one of the few places where I’ve ever felt so in control, yet so out of it. Wild, I’ve been gifted you and your brother and I have worked so very hard to be a better version of me – for you. A place where I felt in control. Yet, without God’s great hand that lifted me out of a troubled stretch with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders combined with an epic autoimmune crash, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Seek not control, sweet girl, seek not… for it won’t be given. And it’s truly not worth your time. What is worth your time? Enjoying seven mostly-awesome days with a child that you wanted more than anything else in this entire world.

Until my fingers meet these keys again, you are the most precious gift little one.

Love,
Mama J.

 

Turnip Pasta

Dear Mild,

I’m supposed to be working on a new project to be released next month, but felt compelled to rock life The Mild Way – without limitations or time constraints, and with ease. I can’t say that you’re always an easeful child, but your perspective… oh sweet boy, your perspective is often easy and, come to think of it, light.

Praise God that you are resilient, because we both know that living with a sensory spectrum wild child little sister can be a hard experience to praise through. Though baby boy, we prayed through for sure!

turnip
Like turnips, praising through is an acquired taste. Fortunately, we have many, many teachable moments where turnips and praising through can be experimented with – and better yet – experienced. Especially, when you live on the wild side.

My son, I’m pausing today for an ah-ha moment. One I want to share with you, after seeing you praise through it all – the work and the play. The therapy sessions with your wild sister. The incredible gift of raising baby bunnies. So, here’s what I found myself stopping for:

Sweetness, in watching you, I have found is that there is a difference between praising through and praying through. Praising through means you’re eating up those Turnip Spirals and giving thanks for them and their provision and their provider and their nourishment – even if you don’t particularly enjoy the taste or texture. While praying through might mean that you’re asking Big Papa to take the wheel, possibly to avoid an experience or perhaps even to heal it (even if that isn’t in His will).

Praying through is good. Our prayers are important and God surely takes notice, whether or not it’s in His plans to change the course. But our prayers can sometimes miss out on an incredible experience: praising through the storm. I call it the truest healing space. To praise through pain is a battle I didn’t even put on the map recently.

But I am now.

Anyhow, since starting Kindergarten, you are filled to the brim with sheer enthusiasm over pretty much everything again – from coloring for hours to classic television shows (cue I Love Lucy as the highlight for an entire Sunday morning) to playing sports. Your world is how I want mine to be: passionate and sure. Even at the end of a wild day, you find things to give thanks for. Your trust is awe-inspiring.

YOU are awe inspiring. Example: Just the other day, we noticed that our bunny was falling asleep as you pet him. Your response, “Oh, I get it! He must have sensory processing disorder!” It’s funny that I didn’t even think of the impact her therapies have on how you look at the world! This path is making you someone it otherwise would not, sweetheart. And I love the person you’re turning out to be. A place for praise in the storm.

Now, let’s chat those Turnip Spiral’s you loved so much!

All My Love,

Mama J.

Turnip Spirals (Pasta)

  • 2 organic turnips, peeled
  • choice of organic cooking fat
  • garlic
  • basil
  • sea salt

Mama Friends, If you don’t have one, buy a spiralizer (here’s mine on Amazon)! Grab those turnips and turn them into medium or thin noodles in under 5 minutes. While grinding away, add 2-3 tablespoons of your choice fat. I love using duck fat for these! I highly recommend finding a local source so that you can always have some on hand. If you’re an autoimmune-paleo-approach mom, fats are a huge key to your success – and a staple in your house. Veggie mama’s can use coconut oil and produce the same results!

Add spices about halfway through. If you’re using fresh garlic you can saute it in the pan before adding the noodles. Saute your noodles in the pan until they become mostly transparent and slightly browned. (You’ll see what I mean.) Remove from heat, and eat!

I hope you enjoy!

 

The 27 Day Crash

For those of you who are new to my blog, my take is that everything in life is a conversation. Some of those conversations we’ll have face to face, and some will be played out through pen and paper and clicking keys – because it’s just too hard to have this talk any other way.

Dear Mama,

You may be well or unwell or stable or… wait, are any of us really stable? Anyway, we need to be real with each other. I’ll start: There were 9 glorious months of well. And then an epic crash. Epic. As in, I put on my war gear and went into battle for 27 days. You can learn a lot in that amount of time. And by day 25, I was ready to visit my therapist… I needed to talk it out. Fortunate or unfortunate, I forgot that I needed to talk it out and life looked bleak on day 26 and 27. But there would be light (dear friend, there is always light).

After the 27 day crash of 2016 – I’ve found myself back where I started. On my knees. Chronic fatigue is real. And I spend hours of each month (because I usually have 1-2 challenging days each month), researching the why. I feel fortunate to not be Job, yet in these moments I “get” why I feel so compelled to use his story (The Book of Job) for the book I’ve started to write. I might even add some of this to my book. If you are living or have lived in the state of unwell or well, I’m going to remind you that BOTH are impermanent. I heard it ever so clearly as I prayer-walked this morning. Don’t grow roots here. With Chronic Fatigue, with postpartum depression or anxiety, with ANY pain story, you don’t just recover from it. But you aren’t allowed to wade in the mud forever either.

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My sweet mama friend. I encourage you to live your life to the maximum amount of “stable” you can, and then you give yourself grace for being human. You are human. So am I. Praise God for that, my dear. I don’t want that kind of responsibility – and I doubt you do either!

If you haven’t Chronic Fatigued, then I’m going to break this down for you. I wrote this recently on my personal facebook page, where I live out some advocacy on “atypical motherhood” with like hearts…

Most folks assume chronic fatigue means you’re just tired. When reading or responding to a text message from someone you ADORE feels exhausting, there’s something wrong. I’m not just tired. Physiologically, my systems don’t keep up with normal life. Most likely they’re fighting an invisible long gone virus. The worst fights are when a real virus or infection comes along though. It’s all out war. The World Health Organization has considered that CF should be renamed SEID: systemic exertion intolerance disease. Link those words together and you’ll get a glimpse into my world. My systems (all of them) get overused in any way, and I will crash. My body and mind will become uncomfortably slow. Read that again! I’m not slow. I am actually absurdly smart. A geek if you must!! But our conversations probably won’t be remembered or make sense when I’m in a crash. Sometimes I even slur my words. And my emotions? It’s not a good place.

I’ll end here. Sometimes, I’m not in a good place, but STILL God. Is. Good. And so is THIS adventure. It’s one where I get to learn from suffering and pain, and share what I’ve learned. I get to sit with others who have been on the pain path and I still get to experience long time periods of being pain free. I get to move with others who want to work it all out. (So thankful for the gift of movement – especially after 27 days of 5 minutes here and there.)

Ask me anything. You shouldn’t go this alone. We don’t have to go this alone. Bend; breathe; and let your soul be restored.

“But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.” Job 36:15 NIV

Love,
Mama J.

How To Get Everything Done

Dear Wild,

Someday, you might just have a business of your own. Or maybe for reasons other than changing lives or paying the bills,  you will crave “getting all the things done,” but there will come a day or many days that it seems impossible. Let me advise you today, that business ownership is for everyone (especially the attention-shy wild one and the mama who feels so very hopeless about her world) and that you can get all the things done.

But not all in the same day.

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This is a picture of my wild, naked, knife-wielding sensory processing miracles and self care all in one. Sometimes on really incredible days, I can actually combine two of my priorities – and everybody wins. Refuse to go to bed feeling like a failure. Because you aren’t.

 

Just a few weeks ago, I was blessed to sit in a room full of business leaders and pastors. Me. A stay at home, work at home, leggings-as-pants-wearing mama bear. And, while I missed you every single moment my sweet and exhausting child, I was given fruits for my labors times ten. The fruit for working hard these last two years – with you – was listening to Bishop T.D. Jakes talk about balance.

Wild, we’ve been fooling ourselves! We can get all the things done. Just not all in the same day. Something is going to slide each day, as Jakes put it. “Just don’t let it be the same thing two days in a row.” Boom. That was GOLD. So, let me think out loud for a moment here. This means that…

  • if today we only read one book, mama can make it up and read you five tomorrow
  • you watch an extra show today so that I can pay the bills (aka work next to you) we can go television-free tomorrow
  • we eat organic, vegan, gluten free ice cream for dinner tonight – I can make a fabulous paleoish, green-filled dish for us all to enjoy on Saturday night

and I can do all the things and do it guilt-free. (If you’re a mama reading this right now, I beg of you to do life guilt-free with me!)

What Bishop Jakes did not touch upon is the essential foundation for BAU, or business as usual, is… (wait for it) priorities. There are priorities and necessities and wants that make you the best version of yourself. Today, I want you to ask yourself two simple questions:

  1. What is a daily priority? For me, It’s God, my family, and my well-being. The first one is always first; the second two are interchangeable in order depending upon the day.
  2. What helps me focus on my priorities first? I call this my oxygen tank. What is filling me up so that I can focus? I am the mother of a sensory processing child; a seeker; a child that has anxiety and OCD – and quite honestly, I’ve never been quite so great at focusing either. My go-to’s include: a good cup of tea; great jams (usually worship music), comfy and cute clothes (I really, really hope to go the sustainable route super soon… I’ll share when it comes); patience; presence; and an easily accessible source of dark chocolate. For real, the chocolate needs to be like Right. There.
  3. What do I feel guilty about? Can I let it go, and sing “There’s always tomorrow” with Ms. Annie herself? If not, should this be added to my daily Top Three priority list? I (somehow) am walking around with so little guilt right now, I don’t have an example for this one. But one that I did have guilt over was having a nanny four years ago when I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t walk because I didn’t take care of myself. And that was all on me. So, I changed it. My well-being is a Top Three priority. And it will stay that way.

I’m going to end here, sweet wild baby – and friends who will someday have names attached to likes – with a verse to reflect on. Trust that you’re choosing right, because of who you are trusting in. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” – Isaiah 26:3

Love,
Mama J.

Impact, Part II

So what’s next? How do I teach you the simplicity of choice versus chance in a world driven by a wait-and-see-approach? Our thoughts, become our actions, become our world. And this world is a place that we have the opportunity to make an impact in. Unless there are excuses. But we aren’t making excuses. Not us. Not the resilient child who fought a virus that wreaked havoc on his tiny body, bearing unfathomable pain at only 11 weeks old. And not the strong mother who has fought physical, emotional, and generational pain from her own childhood two plus decades ago. We are made for impact…

Dear Mild,

But I’m not making it. I have been hovering in the raw, emotional pain of being a burden for seven long days (again). When my immune system takes over (and attacks herself) sweet boy – it’s like you lose your mama. Actually, you do lose her. I have been a ghost around our house – tidying up here and there – and then retreating to the couch; folding some laundry and then taking a rest; laying down upon my yoga mat and then serving another meal. A ghost without a smile.

When my body is this tired, sweetheart, I don’t know how to live with the wildness and joy and abandon that always emanates from my soul. It’s like my soul is starved – so very weak. In these times, I sink back into that deep dark hole of a time just one year ago… a time during which unwell had lasted for over 12 months, and from which a tattoo sprung forth – my arm artfully inscribed with “run with your burdens” (plus a semicolon). I don’t know how to feel alive during these spaces (insert sharp in-breath taken from sudden realization here) because I don’t pray in these places.

Ouch. I don’t pray for myself. Somewhere deep, underneath it all, I don’t find my needs worthy of prayer. And, what has been rattling me is that I truly don’t know why. (Yes, I’ll figure that out.) I also don’t know if I can get much more vulnerable than this, my mild child. (Pssst, if you haven’t noticed – my letters to you are public. Yup. I guess that I must imagine someone else might benefit from watching us grow. I hope it’s true.)

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Our first professional family photo shoot last fall. I had Dengue at the time, and didn’t know it. A few weeks later, I would get the tattoo I mentioned. The tattoo that meant I wouldn’t give up. Let’s not give up. Miracles come from madness.

 

Anyhow, I went to the Global Leadership Summit last week. (Honey, I am bringing you there when you are old enough to see and hear it all!) During it, I was reminded of Impact. I was reminded that I put out a call-to-action that together, we would own life. Again, here I am not owning it… barely able to recall the last few days and falling into the enemy’s trap of doubt and distraction from what is at stake.

Impact.

We are made for impact.

Tonight, I answer the question I posed last month (how will we make it?) with this: WE will make it. We will make it together, not just as human being hand-in-hand, which is already how we roll… but with a bigger Togetherness, in which God is at the center. We can’t go this alone. And after the last few days, I finally get why we don’t want to.

Impact.

We will make it, son. God’s not holding out on us, so we can’t be holding out on him.

I’m interested to see how this all evolves. This praying for ourselves “too”. This balancing of humility. I bet that there are miracles just waiting to spring forth when we value ourselves the way that our Maker does. I love you, Mild. And better than that? He loves you. As you are, and as you transform into exactly who He has created you to be.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139:13-16

Love,
Mama J.