Radical Faith

Have you ever noticed that when you are in tune with God, He shows you things you never would have thought about on your own? I am noticing it more and more as time goes on.

As I have been praying about what I need to be doing in life, to bring glory to God, He has brought something and someone amazing to mind. Let me talk to you about a person who truly has radical faith. First though I need to share two stories with you that God brought to me while I was praying for this person and how He showed me this man’s radical faith.

Have you ever heard the story of Abraham and Isaac? It is told in Genesis 22:1-19

Abraham Tested
22 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

So there are some things that really stand out to me when this was brought to me while in prayer: one thing is Abraham had one son, Isaac. Abraham was told to take Isaac and to make him a burnt offering to God. Abraham didn’t beg and plead with God. Abraham didn’t question what God’s motives were for this. He just knew that God was telling him that Isaac had to be a sacrifice and Abraham was going to follow through.

Another thing that stuck out to me was that Isaac didn’t question what Abraham was doing. Yes, he mentions that there was no lamb but when Abraham responds with God will provide it, he just kept on trusting Abraham and God.

That last thing that really stuck out to me was once Abraham and Isaac were up on the mountain, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood. Abraham then bound Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. He was about to kill his son when Abraham was stopped by the angel. Even as I write this I am struck by the fact that Abraham just kept on moving forward. He was going to kill his only child, his only son. Not only that but Isaac allowed his father to bound him, place him on top of the altar and wood knowing what his father was about to do. Isaac didn’t try to run away. Isaac didn’t try to talk Abraham out of it. Isaac just knew and had faith in both his father and God. He trusted that whatever was to come, was what needed to be done.

Have you ever heard the story of Jesus calling his first disciples? It is told in Matthew 4:18-22

Jesus Calls His First Disciples

18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.

21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

Fishermen were not poor, ignorant men during Jesus’ time. I had no idea until a few years ago that fishermen were not poor. I am not sure why I thought this all these years, but I did. It was a few years ago that my pastor explained how wealth they actually were. That they were truly smart, knew multiple languages and were truly not just fishermen, they were businessmen.

(We have a surprisingly good picture of the scale of Simon Peter and Andrew’s fishing operation. They worked in partnership (Lk.5:7) with James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Lk.5:10), who had employees (Mk.1:20). They were free to start (Jn.21:1-3) and stop work (Lk.5:11) when it suited them. The impression that they were men of substance who controlled their own lives is confirmed by the quality of their house at Capernaum. Known as the House of Peter since the fourth century, it is larger than most of the other houses excavated in Capernaum. But that is not all. Although no evangelist was interested in providing his readers with a detailed picture of the families of Jesus’ disciples or of their business practices, we can read between the lines. Given the average size of families at the time, it seems very likely that more of the family must have been involved in the fishing business on the Sea of Galilee than just Simon Peter and Andrew, and the family income would have been proportionally greater than that of two men working alone. Against this background of a relatively well-off family, it becomes possible to understand how Simon Peter and Andrew were financially able to drop their work and become, first, disciples of John the Baptist (Jn.1:40-42) and then disciples of Jesus.)

Now let me tell you about this person, Daran. You see Jack and I met almost eleven years ago now. We met in a bar and we met because of Daran. I had been going out with friends to this place and singing karaoke on Friday and Saturdays when I did not have the boys. I had been doing this every other weekend for about three months. Then near the end of December, Daran and Jack showed up.

Let’s fast forward a little bit. I got back to God. I got back to going to church. I got back to Bible study. I got back to feeling peace and knowing that everything was going to be okay. That led me to a place though that meant I was not having out with Jack and his friends on a regular basis.

There was nothing against any of them. I prayed for them and loved them where they were at, but I knew I could easily fall back into drinking and making bad choices if I was around them often. So I did what I did best, avoided them. I did not prevent Jack from being around them and doing things with them, I just often made the choice not to be involved.

Now fast forward even further and Daran made some serious changes in his lift last year. He gave up the partying, the drinking and he truly sought Jesus and having a relationship with him. I knew somethings were changing in his life, but I didn’t really know what was going on. Jack never really shared what was going on, just that his marriage fell apart, and he was changing.

Jack would go check on him to make sure he was okay. Jack would hang out with him but I still didn’t know what was going on in Daran’s life. That is until July of this year. Daran was celebrating one year of sobriety and we went to support him as a family. The kids swam in the pool. There was some cornhole played. There was a cookout. It was a good day.

Now fast forward again to current times. Daran is working on putting together a non-profit organization to help people. Those people currently are middle to high schoolers. He has been coming on Friday nights and helping with my kids and Brit’s kids. He has been bringing kids to Friday nights. We have been spending more time together in the last few months than in the past eleven years of me knowing him.

I have been praying for him and for his mission. I have said a few times to Jack that he has more courage than I do. You see a long time ago (when I actually figured it out, it has been about 22 years since I started to have this thought) a local business went out of business. Knowing the problems I had created for myself as a teen, I knew there was a lot of room on the NE end of town for a place for teens to go after school. A place for them to be able to hang out, a place for them to be mentored, a place for them to do school work and get help, a place for them to find themselves and to see where their life could go if they made right choices. (At that time, I was not so Focus on God being in it, over the years He has come into that vision).

It isn’t really courage though. He has radical faith. He is Abraham. He is Isaac. He is Peter, James and John.

I was praying for Daran and these are the images, the stories that God brought to my mind. Daran has this blind faith. He is doing what God is asking him to do and he isn’t questioning it. He gave up a six figure (I’m guessing) income to make pennies compared to before. He is putting his home up for sale knowing that if he is offered this number he is selling it and if he doesn’t get an offer with a specific number he will hold onto it until later.

He is moving forward not truly knowing where God is taking him. He is praying. He is listening. He has made Jesus his best friend and he is doing what is asked of him. He doesn’t question. He has no clue what is going to come next. He doesn’t know if his house is going to sell. He doesn’t know anything and yet he has this radical faith that God is going to be right there with him because God asked him to do these things for Him!

I have never in my life known anyone who is like this. I have never know a person who is so in love, so on fire, so trusting, so radical in their relationship with Christ.

Have you really ever known anyone who was asked to give it all up like Abraham, Isaac, Peter, James and John? Have you really ever known anyone who was not only asked to give it all up but then proceeded to do exactly what was requested of them? I can say I have not, until now.

You may be thinking currently if radical faith requires you to give up your job, sell your house, and form a non-profit you have no desire to have radical faith. That is really what it means though. Having radical faith is about having a relationship with God and being the unique you He created you to be. It is about your relationship and doing what is asked of you.

For you to have radical faith, it may mean God asking you to smile at the grumpy lady in the grocery store. It may mean mowing your neighbors lawn even when you don’t want to. It may mean turning the television off and spending 30 minutes with Christ, alone! It may mean picking up the phone for the call you really don’t want to take because it means you are going to be asked to do something you don’t want to do.

For you to have radical faith, it means that you have to have a relationship with Christ so you know when He is asking you to do something and then doing it. Radical faith isn’t about giving it all up, it is about a relationship with God, trusting in what He is asking you to do in the moment and actually following through and doing it.

I have been asked many things by God and there have been many things I haven’t done. I can’t say I follow through on my radical faith all the time, but I can say I am praying for someone who currently is!

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I Have Been Quiet

I am around. I am thinking. I am cleaning. I am making it through the first week of school.

When the summer comes, I have a schedule and we did really good about sticking to it. I did indulge in the kiddos more than I had planned to (that sounds bad) but it was perfect. We swam, we went to the library, we walked, we played, we overall had a really good summer. That has come to an end though and this was our first week of school.

I am proud to say that tomorrow is the last day of school for the week and I am almost 99% positive that we are going to make it our first full week without any absences. Unfortunately for my children, they have my poor immunity. There has not been a year up to this point that one of my children has not missed at least one day the first week of school. It isn’t that they want to miss, but by day three they are typically feeling miserable and have a fever before heading to bed and by day four they are missing school because of the fever.

We are not without feeling sick. Jack David is complaining of a sore throat and his cough is starting. But I know it is from a runny nose this time. Currently he is sleeping in my bed with a diffuser going and we doubled up on his fruit, veggie and berry chews today. Plus add to all of that, he is growing so his legs are waking him up from the pain. He has not started a fever though and by now, he would have the fever. So I am about 99% positive both of the children will make it to school tomorrow.

As we are getting into the school year, I am also refocusing on our business. I did a lot of slacking over the summer that I had not planned on doing. The positive thing though is that we were still getting our residual checks, they just were not growing much. So I have decided it is time to do some serious focusing on it. It is time to really help others to get healthier and to help others realize their dreams as well!

Along with refocusing on our business, I have joined a group to help with that. Our team started some teams that are here to help everyone duplicate, encourage, support, correct, help and grow. It is two folds actually. There is the big group of people who are all working toward the same goal and then there are smaller pods within the group who is your small group help. So far, just listening to the first meeting and then talking in the small group, I am really encouraged. I am getting laser focused and I already accomplished more than I could have imagined!

So I have been quiet but I have had some things going on. I do have a favor to ask though: prayers, good vibes or even just passing this on to others who pray would be truly appreciated.

There is a lot of pain, heartache and sorrow going on around the world, in our country, states, communities and those who are close to each of us. Please pray for those who are being affected by Harvey. There is a lot of scary things going on down in Texas right now. I have friends who have reported that when they went down to help with their boats, people are acting stranded and then trying to rob those who are helping or are even shooting at those who are helping. Why? So everyone who is helping, who is stranded, who has lost their homes, belongings and even family and friends, please pray.

I also have a lot of people around me who are dealing with cancer: Dana, Gary, Brison, Heather, Terry, Megan, Bobby, Michael and a few who have asked to remain unknown. Please pray for their healing (whatever God has planned for their personal healing). Please pray for peace for the one who has the cancer and the families. Please pray for guidance with tough decisions that need to be made. Please pray for all of the healthcare workers who are there to help.

So much has been going on in our personal life that I often feel like “our” issues are so minor to what others are going through. And yet, God loves and cares about each one of us, each tear that falls and all that troubles each and every one of His children. There are a lot of things happening. Just please pray.

Watch Our Tower Garden Grow!

Back in July I talked about how we decided to get a Tower Garden.

Here is where we put her together, put some seedlings in, grew some seedlings and added those and how it has grown over the past three weeks!

Putting Tower Garden Together

Tower Garden Seedlings

Tower Garden Week One Update

Tower Garden Week Two Update

Tower Garden Week Three Update

Even with everything I had known and all the videos I had watched – I am blown away at how fast everything has grown!

Three Weeks of Tower Garden Growth and I am Eating It!  #thinkonechangeLast night I even picked some of the food off from it and ate it with my veggie burger! In THREE WEEKS!

If you have been on the fence about the tower garden, I highly encourage you to get it! Go here and get it!

There is nothing that is as impressive as having a TG of your own, growing your own fruits and veggies and herbs and flowers and picking it to eat during the THIRD week of growth!

It just blows my mind.

Have questions – please ask me! We have one right now because that is all we purchased but to be honest, I see us purchasing the family set before summer is over in 2018.

Not only is this saving us money on our food bill, this is helping our end goal of becoming healthier, helping our end goal of helping others become healthier and it is amazing!

Keepers of the Faith Quartet

Tonight I was blessed enough to go to my church and help support Community Recovery by attending the Keepers of the Faith group. Their story brought me to tears. They music spoke to my soul.

This concert is not at our church but it will give you an idea of what I had the privilege of watching tonight.

They reminded me during their testimony why I am involved with Friday nights. They reminded me how powerful God is. They reminded me that God is able to work in the hearts of the unsaved. They reminded me that I am a Christian who is a sinner who is loved and who has a relationship with Christ.

God has a plan for me. I may not fully know what it is but I am enjoying where I am heading right now. There are hopes and dreams I have and I can see Him working in my life and changing things. I have things I have never admitted to others but have been praying about, and things are moving.

God is in the job of miracles and moving hearts that seem unmovable. Never give up praying, never give up hope and always give everything over to Him. It doesn’t mean you stand still and do nothing, it just means before making rash choices, you go to Him first.

I know two people in my life who have given me real hope. Hope that my children do not have to go through the things I did in my life. Two people who gave their lives over to Christ and lead a good life. These two people made good choices, let God rule their lives and at least one of them said the feel as if they didn’t really live and experience life.

And yet, I look at them and see that they have experienced life, a good life, a Christian life. Yes they have some hardship but not the hardships I personally caused in my life. They never had the consequences of making really bad choices.

Do not get me wrong, all children, teens and young adults can make bad choices. Even though who have Christ in their life. But these two, they didn’t have to worry about getting pregnant out of wedlock, they didn’t have to worry about if they were self medicating to drowned out the things they didn’t know how to deal with, they didn’t have to worry about a lot of things I dealt with on a regular basis.

Things that I brought on myself. My choices. My impulsive decisions. My lack of care or concern about what the outcome would be.

I look up to know and they give me hope. They give me hope that my daughter and my son, my youngest two, can be like these two amazing women. They can accept Christ and they can look to Him before they make rash decisions. They can be happy and not be missing out on life by putting Him first.

They can volunteer. They can be in the youth group. They can go on mission trips. They can pray. They can group up in the church and they can have a relationship with Christ. They can have a RELATIONSHIP with Christ!

I grew up in a church. I went to a grade school that was religious based. Do you know what I wasn’t taught? I wasn’t taught to read the Bible. I wasn’t taught to have a relationship with Christ. I went to church. I memorized some prayers. I memorized some Bible verses. I learned how to do communion, confession, and I went to CCD.

But I was never taught to have a relationship with Christ. I am going to teach my children how to have a relationship with Him. I want my children to be like those two women I know. I want they to be able to make their own choices with Christ. I want them to know that they can experience life, have a great time, help others, have good friends and still make good choices.

Tonight I was reminded of where I have come from. Tonight I was reminded that I am not the same sinner I was when I first accepted Christ. I am a totally new sinner. I won’t ever be free from that this side of heaven but I will continue to work on my issues and problems. I can continue to be better than I am today.

Tonight I was reminded of the fact that I have to teach my children. I have to show them how to have a relationship with Christ. That I have to pray in front of them. That I have to read my Bible in front of them. That I have to volunteer in front of them and involve them. I can’t just tell them to do it, I have to show them how to do it!

Tonight I was lucky and blessed to be able to go to the concert. I was really happy to be able to listen to them sing and to their testimony. Now it is time to use what I was reminded of and to help teach my children about having a relationship with Christ.

Signs You Could Be Missing That Help You and Doctors Detect Autoimmune Disease

I have talked a lot about the fact I have autoimmune issues. Yes technically they are diseases, I prefer to call them issues.

I have been following a blog: Her Unusual Journey and she has been dealing with and dealt things very similar to me.

Here is the thing I know there are others out there who suffer like I have and do from time to time still. Yet when I read it, see it, hear about it, I am still heartbroken. I would not wish the things I have gone through on anyone I know.

She recently wrote a blog titled, “Signs That I Missed In Detecting Autoimmune Disease” and it was spot on. Here is a part of what she wrote:

Hey Guys! Okay, so I know I’ve talked about this before but I had signs of autoimmune disease when I was growing up we ignored. If you have any symptoms of anything I recommend getting checked out before its too late-better to be safe than sorry. I am just going to go into some of the things I’ve experienced that are common with autoimmune disease. I read an article that brought me to this realization on evenbetterhealth.com

Fatigue
I’ve had major major issues with fatigue my whole life. I never thought anything of it other than I was a growing teenager or child. I mean 8 hours of sleep can’t even satisfy the fatigue I have. I am always always tired. Coffee doesn’t work, adderall doesn’t work. It’s for sure a major issue in my life because I have to nap constantly.

Muscle Weakness, Muscle Pain, & Joint Pain
I started having problems with this more and more as my autoimmune disease has developed particularly this year. You probably recall me talking about how I feel like I’m stuck in an 80 year old’s body–this is why. Also, when I was younger (and still now), I had this burning pain in my back when I was stressed and no one could figure out why and well all I can say is wooooowwww.

Swelling/ Inflammation
This is kind of new still. During my flares my right eye swells up so-that’s always good.

Susceptibility to Infections
Hahahahahahaha is all I can say. Lemme just tell you this year alone I’ve had multiple sinus infections, walking pneumonia, and regular colds. Whenever anyone sneezes or coughs on me I know I am done and down for the count.

I highly encourage you to go and read the rest of this amazing post! You see I have dealt with all of these things, for a long time. I never connected them to being related to a much bigger issue, like an autoimmune disease. I really thought and felt it was what adolescents went through. I never grew out of these things though, so I guess when I hit my mid-twenties I should have realized that something more was going on! Still didn’t catch on.

When I did finally start to reach out to my doctors and I did start to get diagnosed, I never knew the things I was being diagnosed with were actually autoimmune diseases. Not a single doctor said those words to me. It didn’t actually click and sink in that I had autoimmune issues until my general practitioner said she wanted to send me to an immunologist. Then a light bulb went off that maybe I had some autoimmune things happening.

That is when I looked up what autoimmune diseases were, what made them that, how they were treated, how they affect people and if you could get rid of them. At that point I realized that 90% of the things doctors had diagnosed me with were all autoimmune diseases. It was pretty heartbreaking. Especially since no one had figured out what was causing the overall body pain, swelling, infections and everything else that I had going on.

I am doing much better since I changed my eating habits seventeen months ago. I am doing much better since I started to flood my body with whole food based nutritional capsules daily. I never thought I could say that fruits, veggies, berries, chocolate and vanilla would change my life. And yet it has!

I can’t encourage you enough to go and visit Sydney and her extremely well written post about signs you may be missing! I wish that this post had been around when I had no idea what was going on! You won’t regret the time it takes to read what she wrote.

How I Go Outside When Illness Is Raging Around. Autoimmune Issues.  #thinkonechange

So this is me when I go out in public and illness is flying around. When I am sick or when the flu (stomach and lung), gastro anything, common colds or anything, this is how I look when I go out of the house. Having any autoimmune problems leads to needing protection. It is not fun, especially with glasses on. I tend to fog them up (anyone have suggestions for that?) and then I can’t see. Still if it helps save me from being down with an illness I will take it.
Swollen Eye During Flare Up. Autoimmune Issues.  #thinkonechange

So this is how I used to look when I would get a flare up. Smallest flare ups for me lead to swollen eye, swollen nose and swollen lips. If I was really lucky I would also end up a swollen cheek. Thankfully it has been about twelve months since I have had swollen eye, nose, cheek and lips during a flare up. Not only did I hate going out in public but it was extremely painful. I didn’t think I would ever be so thankful to not have swelling on my face.

 

Rosacea, Red, Pustules, Painful.  Autoimmune Issues.  #thinkonechange

This was me, not at my worst with rosacea. Which come to find out is an autoimmune disease. My face would be red, swollen, full of pustules, and I called myself a reverse clown face. I couldn’t have my children kiss me or touch my face without pain. My husband would kiss me and I would be in tears. I would wash my face while I cried. It was one of the most miserable times of my life. My body didn’t look red like my face but the rest of my body was in just as much pain as my face was. I wasn’t happy, I didn’t smile, I cried most of the time and I had no idea how in the world I was going to continue living the way I was.

Autoimmune issues are real and they affect every part of your life. You may be missing signs that show you have autoimmune issues going on. Go read her blog. She may have something that opens your eyes and helps you talk to your doctor about what is going on.

 

When You Realize How Blessed You Are

Progress No Perfection.  #thinkonechangeThere isn’t much I don’t appreciate these days. So many of my friends; whom I consider family, have cancer, health issues, financial issues, relationship issues, and other things that can be overwhelming. Each person feels things differently and so there is no way to compare each persons pain but there are so many who are suffering.

I am not without my own pain but I have gotten back to being in His Word. You see I had fallen away from my daily time with Christ. That had caused me to focus on what was going wrong in my life instead of focusing on what is good, what was going right, what was a blessing in my life. I wasn’t seeing anything but bad.

Six days ago, I got back into my daily time. Six days ago I started to open up my Bible app every day and read the verse of the day, read three plans I had stopped and feeling closer to God. One day three, I started to feel content again. I started to look at the positive things. I started to see my blessings again.

One the second day of doing the getting into the devotions I read Psalm 143 and it spoke Grow Through What You Go Through.  #thinkonechangeto me in so many ways.

Lord, here my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me swell in the darkness
like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
I thirst for you like a parched land.

Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

For your name’s sake, Lord, Preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.

Strawberry Spinach Salad  #thinkonechangeIt isn’t that my problems went away. It isn’t that my pain disappeared. It is that my focus shifted. I was looking to God when I started to focus on the issues that are in my life. I would start to pray when the anxiety would creep up.

I started to focus on my spiritual warfare again.

Today, the verse of the day is Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Not only is it the verse of the day, it was in my Devotional about Fighting an Invisible Enemy. It really made me think.

Every day I should be putting my spiritual armor on. Ephesians 6:11 says “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.  #thinkonechangeSpirit. And I need to be praying in the Spirit on ever occasion with all of my prayers and requests.

I am not perfect and my life is not perfect. But I am finding joy in the little things. I am turning to Christ when I am struggling and overwhelmed. I am giving it over to Him because I know that even during the hard time, He has me and He will help me grow and make it through.

Yesterday we celebrated my parents birthday’s. They were both born in August only a year and a few days apart. This allows us at the end of each summer to have one more big family get together. We are able to enjoy food, swimming, company and family.

Yesterday’s get together also brought a lot of laughter with it. It has been a long time since our family has laughed and had this much fun. We enjoy each other. We support each other. We laugh with each other. And yesterday had a huge cupcake fight.

Jack and Amy covered in frosting and cupcake.  #thinkonechangeNo one was spared. It started with me, getting Bella in the face. Which lead to her having a meltdown. I finally got her into the house to clean her face off and here comes my mom with a smurf face and teeth. I step outside and see that there is neon pink, green, blue and yellow every where.

When I say every where, I mean on just about every person, the dog, the ground, the deck and chairs. I sat down in a chair and was covered in frosting very quickly. My brother and sister in law escaped for a little bit. They ran into the house, pulled the door shut and locked the door while their youngest daughter threw a cupcake at them and hit the window.

I then encouraged my nieces to grab a cupcake and run around the house and go in through an unlocked door to get them. They did and it was a great moment.

Here is the biggest thing for me: had I not gotten into His Word days before, had I not gotten my focus off of the negative I would not have been able to enjoy this past Sunday.Amy and Nicki (sister).  #thinkonechange I would have been focusing on the negative things. I would not have had a good time with my family like I was able to.

I would not have enjoyed the food. I would not have enjoyed the kids laughing. I would not have enjoyed the stressful moments. I would not have been able to laugh myself. I would not have been able to just enjoy the last fun moments of summer with the amazing family God has given to me.

If you are struggling, I encourage you to build your relationship with God. Speak to Him every day. Pray in the Spirit when you are struggle. Laugh with Him. Cry with Him.

You are His child and He loves you!

Essential Oil Diffuser Recipes

I found both of these pages online. I wish I knew who they came from because I have been using them a lot and have been very happy with them.

Motivational Diffuser Blends.  #thinkonechangeI have not been the most motivated person lately. It seems there are just certain points I hit that struggle to keep on going. I know part of this is going on because of a low vitamin D and being anemic.

Still I got online and did some searching. While I love to create my own diffuser and roller bottle blends, I just wanted some that were tried and true.

So I found this sheet of Motivational Diffuser Blends online. I have used a lot of them. I don’t think there was a single oil listed on the sheet that I did not have.

I have used all of them at some point over the past couple of weeks. I am however particularly fond of the ones that have lime in them. I just love the smell of lime. It is so invigorating in itself!

Diffuser Blends for Relaxation and Rest.  #thinkonechange

I have also been using blends to help with relaxation and rest. I am tired but I struggle with getting to sleep and at times even staying asleep. So I have been playing with these blends for the night time.

Each and ever person is different. While some might work fabulous for one, it may not be the best option for someone else. So play around with what helps you sleep the best for yourself.

One of my favorite oils to use at night is Stress Away. There is just something so relaxing and comforting to me about that essential oil. One of my favorite things to do with it – put it on my wrists just before I go to sleep. Without even realizing it I tend to put my wrists up by my face and then inhale it even more.

How long to nap?  #thinkonechangeAlso have you ever wondered what is the right amount of time to actually take a nap? I do not nap often, I am thinking I might be better served if I did from time to time. Still here is a great little clip that explains the best amount of time to nap for certain situations!

I know when I do take a nap, often I end up sleeping much longer than I need or wanted to. Then I get up feeling worse than when I first laid down. So I should probably print this out and keep it next to my bed for reference!

I hope you have all had a great week and have a great weekend!

When You Realize There Is One More Thing To Eliminate From Your Diet

Not today Satan!  #thinkonechangeThe healthier I get the more I realize there are things that are just not good for me. There are some people who are out there who can indulge in certain foods from time to time and they don’t have huge consequences. On the other hand I am seeing when I get things like dairy, I bloat and have intestinal issues for about a week.

Today we had Bible study here at the house. There is nothing that soothes my soul like a great talk with some of the best friends I have ever had. One was missing today but she had a really good reason. I indulged today in some white cheddar popcorn. I did it on Monday as well (another Bible/book study).

So this past weekend, after a week of clean eating, my stomach was really flat (as flat as you can get when you are fluffy). I could see a huge difference. By Tuesday after having the cheddar popcorn the night before, I was bloated in a massive way. It all of a suddenGluten Free For Me.  #thinkonechange hit me that the only thing I had really added back was the dairy.

It was a sad moment for me. In March of 2016 of eliminated gluten. I am not 100% gluten-free because I have cross contamination in my home. But I do not eat gluten products myself anymore. I have gotten used to not eating gluten. I have eliminated a lot of the gluten products in my house but there are still a few things I let the rest of the family eat. So to realize that I have one more thing that I must eliminate was a little heartbreaking.

I have been doing a really good job and feeling better. But when I realize that a lot of my current issues are due to choices I am making, I have to stop it. I know what being in pain is like. I know what feeling better is like. So how can I intentionally make choices that bring the pain on?

Any moment can be a fresh start.  #thinkonechangeStill today, without thinking about it, I ate more white cheddar popcorn. Not only that, I ate some caramel almonds, some yogurt almonds, and some chocolate almonds (all powdered, all with dairy). Before I sat down for dinner, I looked like I was even more fluffy than when the day started. Then it hit me again.

DAIRY

So here I am, having to make an even more adjustments and being even more conscious before just putting something into my mouth. Not only will this be an adjustment for me, it will be for the external family and friends. I have zero issues skipping out on eating something but others take offense to it if I choose not to partake in meals offered.

My family and my husband’s family have a hard time accepting that I choose not to eat certain things. They feel as if they have to make things I can eat. I personally do notWhat are you feeding your mind?  #thinkonechange expect everyone/anyone to change what they cook or eat to accommodate me. If I am worried I won’t have anything to eat then I bring my own food that I know I can eat.

You see I have a lot of different autoimmune issues. Each one of those issues comes with its own diet to follow. Sixteen months ago when my family and I started to flood our bodies daily with fruits, veggies and berries those diets slowly changed for me. I was able to start slowly adding things back in I had not been able to eat for a long time.

It was wonderful being able to eat tomatoes, onions, garlic, lemons, limes and anything else I really wanted to. I could pick out any apple to eat instead of only a few that are more low acid ones. It was like I was a child seeing her presents for the first time on Christmas morning and then opening those presents and seeing everything she had put on her Christmas list. It was that amazing!

There were a few things though I had questions about still. I was doing my best to keep Did you take your health assurance today?  #thinkonechangeour family off processed foods, I was working on eliminating gluten, I was iffy on the whole dairy thing and then one of the biggest ones was how did I go about replacing sugar with a more natural sugar. Once I started flooding my body with the whole food nutrition on a daily basis tossing the gluten wasn’t a bit deal.

I didn’t crave it like I used to do. I wasn’t really eating many processed foods at that point. My family still does but my consumption was down to maybe 4 times a month. Dairy I had no idea how I was going to eliminate that one. As a matter of fact I crossed that off my list of eliminations and figured if it really was a problem I’d get to it later.

How was I going to replace sugar with something more natural? I wasn’t certain. But I started with looking around trying to figure it out. Everyone has their own opinions on it. I have been doing mainly raw honey (local farmers) and real maple syrup. It has been doing a really good job actually.

I have fibromyalgia. I have rosacea. I have psoriasis. I have endometriosis. I haveWhat if THIS is the last thing you EVER have to try?  #thinkonechange interstitial cystitis. I have sjogren syndrome. I have raynaud’s phenomenon. I have reactive arthritis. We were about to start testing for mixed connective tissue disease and started testing for eosinophilic esophagitis but some insurance complications came up.

Autoimmune issues come with pain, inflammation from pain, and each one has its own diet plan (like I said earlier), many prescriptions, and so many tests and doctors that I can’t even begin to describe it. On top of that comes exhaustion, depression, anxiety, self-consciousness, and more emotions that you may not even be able to describe.

It is not easy living a life that most don’t understand. I avoided people. I didn’t want to be friends with people really because I couldn’t be the friend I should be. I was not happy. I tried to pretend but I didn’t do a very good job I am sure. I cried a lot. I lived in bed a lot.

I am sure you are getting a general picture to what I was like. How anyone could love me, I am not sure because I didn’t even like myself.

But things changed in February 2016 when my husband and I decided to start the I really do care about you.  #thinkonechangechildren’s health study with our purchase of our fruits, veggies and berry capsules. We were going to feed our children for free, for up to four years. Why not? I mean we had tried everything at that point. What if this was the last thing I ever had to do to feel better? What if this was it?

Guess what? It was it! It has helped in ways I never thought possible. My daily pain levels of 10 plus are down to 4-6 daily. My red, reverse clown face that made me cry when I washed my face or my children kissed me is pretty much gone. My pustules that made me hate looking in the mirror are about 90% gone.

Those I things I never thought I would reach. Those are things I had given up on long ago. I cried daily and I hated it. I don’t cry often anymore and rarely do I cry from pain anymore.

So for me to realize that I have one more thing I need to eliminate, it is a bit disheartening but in the grand scheme of things, I am okay with it. It will take work because I have to go back to reading packages more carefully. Soon I will know what I can’t have.

It is a price I am willing to pay so that maybe that 4-6 daily drops to a 3-5 daily!

I Don’t Even Know Anymore

Life was never promised to be easy. Some days it is a bit more overwhelming for me to deal with than others. Today is one of those days. My pain has been elevated. I have been working hard around the house and out in the yard. I still have a lot to do and it makes it hard when there is the pain.

My pain isn't as bad as it used to be. For that I am really thankful. It still wears on you. My exhaustion goes up. My hands don't work the way they are supposed to. My legs don't work the way they are supposed to. My neck, shoulders, upper back, hips, lower back and knee areas have spots that turn into sore spots.

It is one of those days where I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to lay down and sleep but can't because I have a house full of children. I had so much more on my list to accomplish but it was to much today.

It always seems like when I have pain everything else is even more overwhelming. Why is that? Why does physical pain cause everything else to be so much more difficult?

Here is the best part for me right now, even though it has been hard tomorrow is a new day. I get to close my eyes, talk to Christ, sleep and refresh and wake up tomorrow and start over.

I will wake up with pain. I will wake up with things to do. I will wake up and say thank you for allowing me to have another day.

Brison Ricker Update

Here is the full update on Brison.

Big Improvements! They started Brison on a heavy dose of steroids last night and the fog is starting to lift, praise Jesus! Yesterday at one point he didn't even know his name, so it was very scary! His thoughts are much clearer now but not back to 100% yet, however his speech is back to normal! They are continuing the high steroids through today and then he will go down to a low dose that they expect will be sufficient. I did speak with his oncologist here and he feels that Brison is stable and that we should continue what we are doing! This was so great to hear from him! They placed a feeding tube this afternoon, well actually three… they were having issues, The first one had a wire they couldnt get out, the second one the end came out the other nostril within 15 minutes and then they switched sides and that one is still in. So now his nose and throat and very irritated and the meal he was so looking forward to eating after three days with no food, no longer was possible. Hopefully the irritation will be better soon. Until then they have started tube feeds to get him some nutrition. Other than the pain this causes, his pain is under control now with decreased frequency on pain meds and his vomiting has stopped too. If things keep improving at this rate we will likely be able to go home tomorrow or Tuesday.

Today Preston starts his second low iodine diet in preparation for his scans that we will get the 24th. My plan was to have been home to feed him all the foods he loves before going on this diet he struggles so badly with but I had to be here with Brison obviously. I planned to shop and prepare so he had some options that were not so bad for him and that hasn't taken place either. Being torn between my babies is so hard, but he is in good hands at one of his best friends house and we are so grateful for their help and being there for Preston when we can't. We pray to hear NED (no evidence of disease) on his upcoming scans!

Please keep both Brison and Preston in your prayers as they continue to fight the same yet such different diseases. Please share.

#childhoodcancerawareness #morethan4 #powerofprayer #rickerstrong

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