Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mothering “Under the Influence" {Guest Post from The Common Scents Mom - Stacy McDonald}

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul. – Ho­ra­tio G. Spaf­ford
I spent over a year wondering what was wrong with me. That persistent sinking feeling in my chest just wouldn’t go away. My nerves felt like they were consistently on the outside of my skin. The mood swings that possessed me would have frightened Darth Vader (ask my family).

I prayed, cried, repented, sang, prayed some more…and cried some more. I suffered from on going fatigue and edginess. After lunch I felt like crashing for the day. Teaching my children took every ounce of energy I didn’t have. Reading to my children (which is something I love to do) was so draining that it would nearly put me to sleep. And when I tried to skip pages, they noticed.

My memory had gotten so bad that I Googled “Early Signs of Alzheimer’s.” When my children said, “But, Mom, we did ask you if we could eat ice cream before dinner,” I began to believe them.

I was always so cold, even with my electric blanket! Winters were hard for this displaced Texan, shivering here in the Midwest! I was always checking the thermostat, sure that my husband had adjusted it while I wasn’t looking (not that he would ever do such a thing – ha!).

At night, after I had been under a pile of blankets trying to keep warm, I would suddenly wake up, hot and perspiring. So, I would throw off the blankets, only to be chilled to the bone within a few minutes. Shivering, I would crawl back under the blankets again in an attempt to get warm.

I was brought to tears by the smallest things. One day, I would spend the entire evening struggling with a sense of hopelessness and depression, and then wake up the next morning wondering “what was wrong with me last night?” My moods were so strangely “up” or “down” that it was almost like being under the influence of a drug. At the smallest provocation I would face overwhelming feelings of sadness, anger, despair, ugliness, or failure. Was I going crazy? I sure felt like it!
“You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8)
I had other physical symptoms that doctors couldn’t explain. Dizziness, heart palpitations, hair loss, itchy skin with no rash, headaches. Sometimes dramatic scenes of dying from some strange exotic illness filled my sleepless nights. Maybe I was just getting old, or perhaps I had some sickness I would suffer from for the next 20 years until some brilliant doctor discovered a cure. Or would I feel like this for the rest of my life?

Finally, while in California in 2009, I visited a friend’s integrative doctor, had some tests done, and began my road to healing. I didn’t have a dreaded disease and I wasn’t going crazy (at least not any more than normal). The fact was that my adrenals were shot, my thyroid was not functioning as it should, and my progesterone was way too low. Later, I also found out that my body cannot tolerate wheat. I had other issues, but they were all related to these key problems. It all began to make sense. We are truly fearfully and wonderfully made. Finally, by God’s mercy, over the next few months I began a natural regiment of healing.
“Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies. For He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” (Lamentations 3:32-33)
God is so faithful. He answered my prayer…His way. He helped me to better rely on Him while I traveled that deep valley; then He slowly and naturally led me out.

It is important for women of all ages to become informed about their health. Hormones have an amazingly powerful influence on our bodies and our emotions. Learn how your body works – and learn to pay attention when it isn’t working properly. Pray and find a good integrative doctor in your area; someone who will work with you in controlling your own health. You don’t have to feel crazy.
Click HERE to find out how essential oils can help deal with stress, anxiety, and emotional trauma.
Still, it is important to remember that hormones aren’t an excuse for sin. PMS and Menopause are nothing new. Remember, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Consider what Nancy Leigh Demoss has to say about the right and wrong way to view emotions:
When we wrestle with out-of-control emotions, it is easy to conclude that emotions are inherently sinful or wrong and should be suppressed. We need to remember that being created in the image of God means we have the capacity to experience and express a variety of emotions. God exhibits a spectrum of pure emotions, including joy, delight, anger, jealousy, and sorrow. And He has designed us to be able to feel and express many different emotions in a why that reflects His heart and brings glory to Him.

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image1745792The problem is not that we have emotions-they are a gift from God. The problem is that our emotions (unlike God’s) are tainted by the Fall. The challenge is to let the Spirit of God sanctify us in the realm of our emotions so that they can be expressed in godly ways.

I know of no tool that the Enemy uses more effectively to lead us as women into bondage than our emotions. He does so by causing us to believe things about our emotions that just aren’t true.

The Truth is that, due to our fallen condition, our feelings often have little to do with reality. In many instances, feelings are simply not a reliable gauge of what is actually true. When we allow them to be tied to our circumstances-which are constantly changing-rather than to the unchangeable realities of God and His Truth, our emotions are prone to fluctuate wildly.

If we want to walk in freedom, we must realize that our emotions are not necessarily trustworthy and be willing to reject any feelings that are not consistent with the Truth.
The following Young Living essential oils and blends are what I am using to keep my hormones balanced and my emotions in check:
  • Clary Sage
  • Peace & Calming
  • Dragon Time
  • Progessence Plus Serum™
  • Frankincense
  • Spikenard
  • Thyromine
  • Vetiver
  • Endoflex (especially for adrenal and thyroid issues)
  • NingXia Red (immune boosting drink)
  • True Source
  • Mineral Essence
  • Stress Away
  • Vitamin B

Other recommendations:
  • Pregnenolone Cream®
  • Cortistop
  • Sleep Essence
  • Vitamin D
The following article was written by my friend, Dr. Loretta Lanphier:
Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Dr. Loretta Lanphier, ND, CN, HHP
You must be wondering with all of the hype about hormones, “Why do we need HRT in the first place?” In this article I address this concern with some straightforward information about natural HRT…

Our Hormones
Hormonal imbalance is a term that has become popular to describe an incorrect relationship that exists between levels of progesterone and estrogen.
Progesterone is a needed hormone for both menopausal women and andropausal men for many reasons. It’s a steroid hormone made by the ovary at ovulation, and in smaller amounts by the adrenal glands. Progesterone is manufactured in the body from the steroid hormone pregnenolone, and is a precursor to most of the other steroid hormones, including cortisol, androstenedione, the estrogens and testosterone. When levels of progesterone are low, it needs to be replaced. Its most important role is to balance or oppose the effects of estrogen.
Unopposed estrogen creates a strong risk for breast cancer and reproductive cancers. Estrogen levels drop at menopause but only 40-60%, which is just enough to stop the menstrual cycle. Progesterone levels may drop to near zero in some women. Because progesterone is the precursor to so many other steroid hormones, its use can greatly enhance overall hormone balance after menopause. Progesterone also stimulates bone building and thus helps protect against osteoporosis.

PMS Factor
During the 10 to 15 years before menopause, many women regularly have cycles where they make enough estrogen to create menstruation, but they don\’t make any progesterone. This sets the stage for estrogen dominance. By using natural progesterone during these months, symptoms of PMS can be helped.
We also know that PMS can occur despite normal progesterone levels when stress is present. Stress overtaxes the adrenals. It increases cortisol production; cortisol blocks (or competes for) progesterone receptors. Additional progesterone is required in this case to overcome this blockade, and additional stress management is important, such as proper nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle. Similar scenarios apply to men as well.

Other Factors
Other major factors that stresses our bodies and subsequently our hormones, are environmental chemicals in our food, water and air–heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, plastics and many other poisons—that mimic estrogen once they enter our body. In just one example of this type of poisoning, it has been reported on several news programs (CBS, The Discovery Channel and others) that the common tin can is inadvertently supplying us with unwanted estrogen-like hormones. This is a result of a chemical reaction over a period of time between the tin and the plastic inner lining of the can. Unwanted cumulative chemical additions, such as this, are believed to have dire consequences within our bodies.
It’s clear that our bodies can get overloaded with estrogen without even trying. The other bad news is that our overloaded bodies may not have the ability to breakdown estrogen. The liver generally removes excess estrogen. Diseases of the liver like cirrhosis or decreased enzyme activity can lead to increased estrogen levels. Vitamin B6 and magnesium are necessary for the liver to neutralize estrogen. Increased sugar intake will also excrete magnesium and interfere with its ability to breakdown estrogen. Estrogen supplementation by prescription is clearly not needed, and will increase estrogen levels unless it is properly balanced with natural progesterone.
With all of these factors, it’s easy to conclude most women and men are on estrogen overload.

Symptoms of Estrogen Overload
When estrogen overload symptoms occur, doctors usually offer either synthetic HRT or birth control pills. What is needed instead is natural progesterone for both hormonal balance and relief of symptoms, in both women and men, such as:
  • Depression
  • Decreased libido
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Food and sugar cravings
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Irregular or excessive uterine bleeding
  • Endometriosis
  • PMS
  • Infertility
  • Weight gain
  • Increased blood clotting
  • Thyroid dysfunction
When dysfunctions are extremely painful or debilitating, women are told that their health is more important than their reproductive organs, and that a hysterectomy would be the best thing. In most cases, women can choose natural HRT to solve these problems. Natural HRT can take care of the risks of:
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Osteoporosis
An imbalance occurs in nearly every instance where physicians prescribe synthetic hormones. This is because traditional HRT adds to the already existing high levels of estrogen in our bodies. By adding synthetic hormones, traditional HRT, which directly interfere with the normal function of our endocrine system, our body is fooled. It thinks the estrogens are real estrogens. Our bodies act as if there is estrogen excess in the system, resulting in an increased hormonal imbalance.

Hormone Test
At Oasis Advanced Wellness a simple saliva hormonal level test kit can be purchased and used in the comfort of your home. With these results and your symptoms, you can determine your need for natural HRT.
Like most things in life, we must always proceed with caution. There is no magic bullet when it comes to getting the body balanced and healthy. Natural progesterone is the most natural and safest way to assist women with the symptoms of hormonal imbalance, but we must remember that our goal is “balance” in every area.

Estrogen Effects: Stimulates breasts cysts; increases body fat storage; salt and fluid retention; depression and headaches; interferes with thyroid hormone; increases blood clotting and risk of stroke; decreases libido (sex drive); impairs blood sugar control; loss of zinc and retention of copper; reduced oxygen level in all cells; increased risk of endometrial cancer; increased risk of breast cancer; helps decrease bone loss slightly.

Progesterone Effects: Protects against breast cysts; Helps use fat for energy and keep it off hips; Natural diuretic (water pill); Natural anti-depressant; Facilitates thyroid hormone action; Normalizes blood clotting;Increases libido; Normalizes blood sugar levels; Normalizes zinc and copper levels; Restores proper cell oxygen levels; Prevents endometrial cancer; Helps prevent breast cancer; Increases bone building.
Dr. Loretta Lanphier, ND, CN, HHP, CH is a Doctor of Naturopath, Clinical Nutritionist, Holistic Health Practitioner and Clinical Herbalist in the Houston, TX area and Founder / CEO of Oasis Advanced Wellness


Many thanks to Stacy McDonald for her testimony.  You can read what oils and supplements I'm using to help balance my hormones and prevent my migraines HERE and HERE.

I am not a physician and I have no fancy initials behind my name.  I’m a mom who uses Young Living Essential Oils on my children routinely and confidently.  I do this because I believe it is the best and safest way to keep my children healthy and safe from exposure to toxic chemicals.  

DISCLAIMER: The information provided by SouthernScentsabilities is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to prescribe, diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. It is your responsibility to educate yourself and address any health or medical needs you may have with your physician. Please seek professional help when needed.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

So many things...

Me and my Beloved
Life has been so incredibly full, complicated and blessed, over the past 7 months.  Yes, my sweet Clementine is now 7 months old!  I did end up back in Portland for her to have a second revision for her tongue tie, but today she is breastfeeding beautifully and growing up way too quickly!

The Lord has been strengthening my faith and increasing my courage each day to do that which I would have not ever thought I could.  My husband currently works for IBM and this has required some travel away from us for a few weeks at a time.  It is incredibly difficult for me to handle change, and while I'm grateful for the opportunity my husband has through IBM, I do not like that he has to travel.

God is good.

Even with all the traveling my husband and I have had to do over the past 7 months, God has raised up some of the sweetest friends and neighbors that have come along side of us to be our support system.  Day by day I am experiencing the mercies of the Lord.

There was a time I had terrible anxiety about driving. Then Clementine was born and I had to make two cross country flights to get her help. I have struggled with fears of being alone most of my life, and in the past 7 months I've had to spend weeks without my husband being home.  I've had to manage the entire affairs of our house and land on my own. I've been stretched to limits that in times past I would have melted down completely, but this time has been different. 

The past 7 months I've learned that I am a lot tougher than I ever thought I was.

I am strong...

I am brave...

I am intelligent...

I am capable...

...through Christ who strengthens me!

Yes, I've done my fair share of crying and pitching fits like a toddler. Yes, I've not slept because I fear Big Foot would break into my house.  Yes, I've fed my children eggs and grits for every meal in one day.  Yes, I've overloaded myself with trips into town to avoid cleaning my house.

Then it dawned on me.  I don't have to be super woman!  I can cry. I can be upset. I can be frustrated. I can be angry. And all of that, I can share with my Lord and my husband.  I have friends who have listened to me cry in frustration, and they lift me up.

I did something that I never thought I'd ever do, or be able to do; I hired a lady to help me clean my house.  I've learned that I cannot do everything, nor does my husband expect me to. This has been incredibly freeing.  I'm in a season of life that forces me to take a closer look and re-prioritize things in order to maximize my potential to be a good wife and mother. 

So, yes, I hired someone to help me clean the house and it was WONDERFUL!

I recently came across an article that left me saying "YES! YES! YES!"

Christianity Today shared one mom's story of hiring help: "When a Stay-At-Home Mom Needs Hired Help".  Now before you roll your eyes, some moms can manage it all and maintain their sanity and a pleasant mood.

I cannot.

Many of you cannot.

While my husband isn't concerned with the way our house looks, he knows that a cluttery disorganized life sends me into a cesspool of emotional guilt and stress. That makes for a very unhappy wife - which then leads to an unhappy husband.  He wants me to be happy.

We hired help and it was a blessing to us. We are in a place where we can afford to hire someone to come and help me on a regular basis.  We have four precious children.  I homeschool and run my own business from home.  We also raise chickens and garden.  There are lots of things in my day that I want to be able to accomplish, but I cannot do all of it on my own. I freely admit that without shame or guilt. 

The Proverbs 31 woman, while she gives us an example of a virtuous woman, she gives us an example of a woman who is resourceful and knows how to delegate!  She delegated tasks to her handmaidens. She had live-in hired help! 

Our culture is incredibly hard on women.  In other cultures around the globe, when a woman is pregnant and then bears a child, she has "all hands on deck" assistance from women in her immediate family, or local women in her village or community.  In our culture, mom is expected not to utter one word of complaint during pregnancy and then once baby is born she is to be up and about like nothing has changed within the matter of a few weeks; sometimes days!  No whining. No complaining. Not to mention, in many cases, she is expected to return to sexual intimacy right at 6 weeks, no matter how she is feeling emotionally. 

The Proverbs 31 woman is often cited as the goal to which we are all supposed to be running after in terms of what a godly woman is supposed to be like.  However, I think we all make the fatal mistake of setting the attributes of the Proverbs 31 woman as another "To Do" list that we must check off to prove our achievements as a virtuous woman.  I see it differently these days.

I see the Proverbs 31 woman as a strong virtuous woman, but also one that admits that she cannot do everything.  She delegates household tasks responsibly while herself managing those things she finds important.  She doesn't get stressed out when she can't get it all done, she finds help.

My life has changed so much in the past 10 years, and I suspect things will continue to change during the next 10. However, I think, for the moment, I'm a bit more prepared for the next 10.

No more guilt.

No more stressing out.

I'm focusing on those things that are important to me and my husband. If I need help with different household tasks or even managing my own business - I'm not ashamed to hire help.  It is so much better than being a cranky stressed out mom trying to be something she is not.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Lessons On Our Little Farm

Yes, we got snow in South Louisiana and our chickens were totally confused!
Two years ago next month we bought our first home.  After spending thousands of dollars each year renting apartment after apartment, we took the plunge.  We knew that eventually we wanted to live out in the quietness of the country and have a little hobby farm, but we didn't think it would happen quite so soon and so quickly.

Initially I contacted a local realtor to see if she knew of any property to rent in a different parish.  (We live in south Louisiana. We do not have counties; we have parishes.  Thanks Napoleon!) When we spoke she asked us what we were paying in rent and was flabbergasted when I told her.  She said we could buy two houses with what we were spending in rent!  She had her lending agent call me and in 10 minutes we were pre-approved to buy a house!  That was all done on a Thursday and by that Saturday we had put in an offer on a house - our current house.  Before the month's end (less than 30 days) we closed on our house and had keys in hand! 

Here we are, two years later on our small one acre of land in the middle of nowhere and we love it!  The Lord has blessed us and grown us out here in the country.  Our sweet neighbor, Mr. L., bought us our first 10 laying hens last year. I've learned a lot about chickens in the small course of a year; a crash course. The hardest lessons came a week ago when we lost three of our ladies to one of our dogs.  Life on a farm; hobby or not, brings lessons of life and death.  Our 7 year old and 5 year old daughters also learned this tragic lesson.  It was a tough lesson for all of us, even though my husband and I knew the inevitability.

Raising chickens has provided us so many different opportunities to teach our children lessons that no textbook ever can.  These lessons can be fun and exciting as we sit and pick out the types of chicks we want to order to increase our flock. These lessons can be heart breaking as we learn that we have to kill a chicken who has been wounded severely and is suffering.  And these lessons can be even more painful when we must choose to remove an animal from our little farm who poses a threat to our chickens.  Or when we find one of our mousers has been overcome by the inevitable fate of trying to cross the road.

The lessons of life and death are learned on a farm, no matter how big or small.   Math is learned on our farm as we negotiate the cost of ordering chicken feed in bulk or purchasing the ingredients to make our own feed. Math is also learned as we do a head count of our chickens before we turn in for the night. Vocabulary is learned as we learn the different breeds of chicken there are, or the different parts of the chicken that need to be checked to ensure they are healthy and safe. Geometry can even be learned as we try and figure out plans for expanding our chicken coop and how to overcome the obstacles of a huge Live Oak tree that is sort of in the way of that expansion.  Discipline is learned when raising chickens. The person who has the responsibility of feeding the chickens each day must be disciplined to get out there and do it so they don't get stressed out or sick. The birds need fresh water available and this requires discipline in checking their waterer each day to make sure it is clean and properly filled. 

There are so many lessons to be learned on our little farm, some my husband and I still have yet to learn, and some we must teach our children no matter how painful.  It still amazes me how raising chickens can be incorporated into our homeschooling so easily that most would miss it totally.  I'm learning that there are so many more ways to teach children other than a stack of textbooks and printed worksheets.  Teaching my almost three year old to count chickens IS teaching her to count. When three chickens die from our flock of ten, THAT is teaching them the concept of subtraction.  The difference is that the lesson is engrained into their memories. It becomes part of the whole concept, not just removing some blocks from a pail.  We cannot add the same three chickens back at will - they are gone. This teaches math and the finality of death. Certainly we can purchase more chickens to add to our flock - again, more math! 

I love our little farm. I love this whole new concept of teaching my children in methods that fly in the face of what I was taught in college. I keep hearing the phase "think outside of the box", and I think it applies to homeschooling, raising children, and raising chickens.  All three parts of my life are blended now. I'm learning that compartmentalizing things like teaching my children "school" and teaching my children to "farm" is foolish. They are one in the same for us now.  I understand it isn't like that for every family; but for ours that is the way our life is.

A great book that has encouraged me recently is "Think Outside the Classroom: A Practical Approach to Relaxed Schooling" by Kelly Crawford.  She once taught high school English and is now homeschooling her children.  She's learned what just about every other homeschooling mom has learned, no matter how "educated" we are;

"The freedom of home taught me that education looked different for every family and sometimes every child."

This is freeing for me. The pedagogy of my homeschool should be different than another family's. Our family operates very differently than others and that testifies to the uniqueness of all of us. Our goals may be the same, but the methods by which we seek to achieve those goals can run the gambit of a million different methods.  Or our goals may be totally different.  We raise chickens. You might live in the suburbs without the ability to raise chickens. So, teach your children using what you have.

Our family has a vision that took us from "city apartment life" to "out in the middle of nowhere country life".  This means everything about what we do on a day to day basis is going to be a million times different than what we did living in a apartment box.  It also means that what we do may be drastically different than how you teach your children.

I know for sure that the way we are raising our chickens is drastically different than how Big Agriculture is raising their chickens; and I'm happy with that!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Food Stuffs and Our Philosophy on Health and Wellness

This isn't always a pleasant topic to discuss out in the open, but it is one that I've been asked about by my readers and friends.  Lately I've been posting recipe after recipe on my facebook page and sharing different things about our family's health. I do pray that this is received with the understanding that I do not claim to be an expert, nor do I believe that one needs to be an expert in this area of life. We live in the age of information. Of course what that really means is that there are a plethora of opinions on any given topic and you just have to decide where you will be aligned. This is just one of a million positions and it is uniquely mine.

Over the past few weeks I’ve begun a process of cleaning up our diet. Well, really I have to “re-clean” it.  When I became pregnant with Clementine and began to suffer from hyperemesis, our very healthy diet went into the garbage. Better yet, we just started eating garbage.  I freely admit it. I simply could not do what I knew needed to be done, so I made decisions about food based on impulse and convenience. It happens and yes, I’ll admit that it does have some very real negative consequences.
Now that life is getting back on track I’m tackling our diet and working to heal our guts from the poor decisions made in the past months. I and two of my 4 children have been on a round of antibiotics which in turn has impacted our health and immune systems negatively.  One of the best ways to do this is to include lots of fresh raw fruits and vegetables; preferably organic since they will be free from toxic chemical pesticides. The meat we choose to eat needs to be ethically raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones.  This can be tricky, so we do the best we can.  We raise our own chickens so I can control the type of feed they get which means I can control the quality of the eggs the birds lay.  This means better eggs for us to consume.  I understand not everyone can run out and start raising chickens, and there for a couple of months our chickens weren’t laying because of the cold weather so we had to buy eggs.  We chose to spend the extra money on better eggs from Whole Foods.
So what kinds of foods are we eating? Lots of bone broth from ethically raised chickens.  Bone broth is so nourishing to our bodies and isn’t hard to prepare and use throughout the week.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are a must as well.  In season items are always best, but even that will be determined by where you live.  We live in South Louisiana, so while we do get some chilly temperatures, they won’t be like our friends in the North Eastern part of the country.  This means that we may be able to grow certain things year round or sooner, than in other parts of the country.  Same goes for country specific things as well.  My friends in Puerto Rico or Hawaii will be able to grow things that we simply cannot.
We are trying to cut back on the amount of gluten we consume. This is just a personal preference for us.  I’ve begun making my own coconut and almond milk and flours.  It is super easy to do and allows me to control sweeteners and avoid unhealthy preservatives. Of course what I make isn’t going to keep for weeks or months, but that’s ok.  Food should be consumed immediately. Left overs are great to freeze for later, but should be eaten within 48 hours; sooner would be better. 

Several of my friends have asked me to compile an easy “go-to” list of the recipes I’ve been sharing lately. It is difficult even for me to scroll down my Facebook page and hunt for a recipe I posted for later use.  So, without further ado, here’s a recipe list and then a list of odds and ends of other things I’m doing to help get our immune systems strong and help our bodies heal.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust – I have only attempted this once and it was a total flop!  It was most likely my fault.  I tried to make too many substitutions and was in a hurry.  Try it for yourself. I’ve heard others have had great success and I fully intend to give it another go.

Raw Desserts – Larabars have become a new favorite in our house.  Each time we make a trip to Whole Foods I would grab a few of these as a snack for our long drive home.  However, I hate spending close to $2 each for these.  I decided for us it would be more cost effective to just purchase the ingredients and make them myself.  I’m so happy that I did, because I’ve since learned that the ingredients used to make these yummy Larabars can be used as the base for so many other raw desserts.

            Key Lime Pie
            Raw Bites
            Almond Power Bars
            Cinnamon Orange Energy Bars with Orange White Cacao Frosting (I’ve not make these yet, but I fully intend to)
            Raw Caramel Apple Pie
            Homemade Raw Vegan Ice Cream Bars (These will be super fun to make for the warmer months)
            Raw Cherry Cashew Cheesecake
Breakfast Recipes – Breakfast is the toughest meal for me.  I usually wake up very tired and unmotivated to prepare a big meal.  Here are some of the recipes I’ve been making lately that I find to be easy and nutritious for us.
            Gluten Free Vegan Breakfast Cookies (NOTE: I have made these with eggs.  The last time I made them I halved the recipe and used 1 egg.  We are now getting fresh eggs from our chickens after they went through a few weeks of a break)
            Peanut Butter Flaxseed (Oat) Cakes
            Fried Eggs – I have begun frying our eggs in coconut oil OR Kerrygold Irish Butter.  It is pricey, but since I can’t get raw cow’s milk legally in our state, this is the better option.
            Green Smoothies are a big hit in our home for breakfast.  I use frozen fruit, coconut milk, raw honey, kale or spinach and my Young Living Lime or Lemon essential oil.  These make for an easy way to give my girls their probiotic because I can just blend it in.
            Quiche is another easy breakfast (or lunch or supper).  Without the crust it is technically a Frittata, but yummy and nutritious either way.

Lunch Recipes – Lunch is fairly simple in our house.  My girls will eat raw veggies with homemade hummus, or a cheese and veggie/fruit platter and be perfectly happy.  Here’s how I make my hummus:
Homemade Hummus
                        You can use a 15oz can or organic garbanzo beans (drained), or soak dry garbanzo beans overnight, and prepared according to the package and use that.
                        1/3 cup Tahini
                        LOTS of garlic – I use about 6-8 fresh gloves
                        Dash of salt and 3-4 Tablespoons of lemon juice (Fresh is better, or get a jar of it, but make sure it is 100% juice and not from concentrate)
                        Put all ingredients into your blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  If you prefer your hummus not to be too thick, add a bit of water or more lemon juice.
                        Pour into a serving bowl, top with paprika and olive oil. 
Hummus is a good source of protein AND if you make it super garlicky (the way we like it) it will be a great thing to serve when there are runny congested noses in the house.  Garlic is a natural antibiotic and can help kick a nasty bug and boost your immune system.  You will smell REALLY good too!
Supper Recipes – Supper time is the only meal during the week that we get to sit down and enjoy together.  My husband is out the door for work before breakfast time and isn’t home for lunch. So I try my best to make a really good meal.  A big salad with dark leafy greens is a great way to add more raw vegetables. I like using Romaine Lettuce, spinach and kale.  I will shred several carrots, cut up a couple tomatoes, or whatever I have on hand.  I generally always have lettuce and carrots and some sort of seed (sunflower, flax, etc) or nuts (cashew, almonds, pecans, etc).  This all makes for a great salad.  In the past couple of years I’ve learned to make my own salad dressing.  This really does help me control the ingredients to insure there are no nasty preservatives.  Here’s a recipe that we’ve come to enjoy and use on the majority of our salads.
Easy Salad Dressing (Dairy Free)
3 TBSP Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
¼ Cup Sunflower Seeds or Walnuts, or Cashews
½ tsp salt
Fresh Garlic – I use 6-8 cloves
1/3 cup EVOO
Blend in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Mix well into your salad.
*If you aren’t on a dairy free diet, you can sub grated parmesan cheese for the nutritional yeast and seeds/nuts.

Chicken Soup (With or Without Noodles)
1 whole free range chicken
Carrots, celery, onion, LOTS of garlic
Salt, pepper, oregano, thyme
2 TBSP Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
In a big stock pot boil chicken and several cloves of garlic along with the ACV for a couple of hours.  Remove chicken and debone. Strain the broth and set aside. I usually put my broth into another larger pot and put the pot used to make the broth back on the burner.  I then add chopped onion, carrots, celery and more garlic. Sauté for a few minutes, then add the broth back into the pot and bring to a boil. Add seasonings and chicken. Reduce heat and let simmer for 30-45 minutes. If adding noodles, bring to boil add noodles and cook until noodles are done. Lower temp and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
Another great tip I recently learned is adding Nutritional Yeast to soup. We did this the other night and it was delicious! 

Sweet and Spicy Bacon Chicken
Chicken Breast cut in strips
Garlic Powder
Chili Powder
Brown Sugar
Season chicken and wrap in bacon. Roll in brown sugar and bake at 400 until crisp. 30-40 minutes. Serve with a big salad.

*Use nitrite/nitrate/MSG free pastured uncured bacon. I don’t see why you can’t use turkey bacon, but I haven’t tried it like that.

Bone Broth – This is something I’ve been making for a couple of years now and it is rich in nutrients and helps boost the immune system and heal the gut.  People who are on the GAPS diet are very familiar with bone broth and how it can heal.  Remember when you were little and would get a cold and someone would recommend chicken soup.  There’s a reason why.  Check out Nourished Kitchen and learn more about broths and how beneficial they are to your health. I make mine in my crockpot and let it cook for 24 hours, sometimes longer.
Snacks – Everyone needs something to munch on in between meals.  In fact, it is better for your overall health and digestion to eat several small meals throughout the day as opposed to three big meals.  However, learning to incorporate healthy snacks can be frustrating.  A bag of “organic” crackers or “organic” fruity bite thingies can be easier, but not necessarily the best choice.  Here are a few things that will be better for you. YES, you will have to put forth more effort than just opening up a package and pouring it on a plate.  If that’s not what you want to do, then these won’t be of any interest for you.
Banana Sushi
            1 Banana peeled
            Almond Butter (Or any nut/seed butter you like)
            Granola (I use Hemp Seed Granola from Whole Foods)
            Use a knife to put nut butter on banana, and then roll in granola. Slice and serve.

            Big bunch kale
            Salt and Pepper (and Cayenne if you want a bit of a kick)
            Nutritional yeast
            Wash and dry kale. Pull the thick stem off and tear kale into 1inch pieces. Toss in a large bowl with a little EVOO, salt/pepper/cayenne, or Nutritional yeast.
            Bake at 300 until crispy. About 8-12 minutes.  Half way through, toss around to make sure it crisps evenly.  These usually don’t last long in my house, so I’ve never had to store them. BUT, if you do have to, store in an air tight container.
            *Tip: With any leftover kale chips you have, crush and sprinkle over popcorn.
Hummus with Veggies is always a great snack.
Make your own Larabars (see recipes above)
Cut up raw fruits and veggies – serve with your favorite nut butter or eat plain
Drink a cup of warm bone broth – yeah, sounds silly, but it is good for you!

Other things we do:
We use Young Living’s Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils.  I keep the Everyday Essential Oils Collection on hand, as well as, Oregano, R.C., Aroma Life, Aroma Seiz, Deep Relief, Breathe Again Roll On, Lime, Copaiba, and ImmuPower. I also take Young Living’s Life5 probiotic, Multigreens and InnerDefense.
We have been on Juice Plus+ for a month now, and we are extremely happy with making it part of our healthy lifestyle. Even with what I’m sharing with you today, I still struggle to make sure that we all get enough fruits and vegetables in our diet.  Juice Plus+ helps to bridge that gap.  Juice Plus+ is NOT a vitamin supplement.  Juice Plus+ helps me to provide whole foods based nutrition to my family from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. I’m confident in giving my family this each and every day because I’m a stickler for purity and quality.  Juice Plus+ has a nutritional label NOT a supplementation label; big difference.  It is enough of a difference that causes me to choose it over anything else right now.  My girls weren’t fond of the vitamins from Young Living, so this was a very logical switch that doesn’t cause me to skimp on those things that are most important to me – purity.  Two of our children get Juice Plus+ for free through a Children’s Health Study Program.  There are no invasive questions with the study. I like that too.  In the end, this is the best choice for us.

            As a side note: Yes, I a distributor for Juice Plus+ now, and I’ve been a distributor with Young Living for nearly 3 years. I enjoy being part of a company that seeks to educate others on how to be healthy in a natural holistic way, and allows me to earn extra income as a bonus.  All of which I can do right here from home.
I just started making my own Elderberry Syrup. I know of so many who have used it and swear that it really does help during cold and flu season.  I use the recipe linked as a base recipe, however, I’ve tweaked mine a bit and added 4 cloves, 1 TBSP ginger and 1 TBSP turmeric. I also buy my Elderberries from the Bulk Herb Store – I’m an affiliate.
            I put my elderberry syrup in glass jars I’ve been keeping for a rainy day.  No sense in spending more money for new jars.

In closing (and this might be a long winded closing), there are NO magic bullets. Period. The doctor cannot offer you a magic pill or shot that will keep you from getting sick, and he/she certainly cannot offer you a magic pill or shot to make you healthy.  Period. If anyone claims that you need a pharmaceutical pill or injection to keep you from getting sick with a infectious disease – they are lying or deceived.
Nothing I have shared is guaranteed to keep you from ever getting sick.  In fact, the point of living shouldn’t be to avoid sickness altogether. We live among germs, mold, bacteria, viruses and who knows what else. It is unavoidable that we will come into contact with disease and sickness. However, I’m not a fatalist and I’m not naïve. My husband and I both have medical experience and we are educated in how the body functions. We also know and believe that God designed our bodies with the ability to heal. Yes we live in a fallen world and we are prone to becoming ill, but that’s not the end of the story. Our bodies were designed (interestingly enough, PRIOR to the fall), to heal. God has also created amazingly wonderful plants, herbs, and yes, animals for that purpose.  Getting sick isn’t a sin. Being sick isn’t the end of the world. How we manage our health is a personal choice based on worldview and medical philosophy. My husband and I have lived on both sides; once being allopathic minded, to now being more naturopathic minded. Allopathic medicine has its place. There are no essential oils or herbs that will fix my hand if it gets severed. I’ll need a competent surgeon. However, allopathic medicine isn’t meant to keep us healthy or prevent us from getting sick. Sure, once you’re ill you can go to the doctor. Most you’ll receive is a prescription for an antibiotic and a recommendation to take Tylenol. Antibiotics have their place as well; in life threatening events. A good doctor will want to know how you are feeding your body. Are you getting enough sleep? What is your lifestyle like? Simply scribbling on a prescription pad or calling a nurse in to give you a shot in the butt isn’t “healing”. Shouldn’t the point be to heal? Shouldn’t the point be to be healthy and have a strong immune system naturally, so that your body can do what it was designed to do? Heal.
We have a growing problem in our country with antibiotic resistant bacteria. Instead of creating stronger more potent antibiotics we need to stop feeding ourselves these poisons and other poisons.
We choose to focus on nutrition, which sadly medical doctors don’t get enough training, if any at all, in this area of the human body. Our bodies need fuel and that fuel comes from plant and animal life. God designed it that way. The best form of fuel will be in its raw unprocessed form.  Moderation and balance is important. I can’t expect to be healthy if all I eat are apples and never spinach or something rich in protein.
I’m finding the research that Dr. Weston A. Price did to be very intriguing and insightful. The key is to take responsibility for my own health, and the health of my children and do my own research.  Of course, I’ll admit that knowing what to research is important too. I have a degree and took several classes on researching and I still have access to scholarly medical and other health research journals.  So, the information isn’t lost on me, not one bit. The other thing to look at is definitely who funds the research. Who benefits if the research outcomes are in one camp as opposed to the opposite.  Who really stands to gain or lose in how the research data turns out?  All of that is important, to be sure. However, we are no longer living in the dark ages of information. I don’t need to have exclusive access to elitist research journals to know what’s correct and what is being made up.
Christians who take a serious look and focus on nutrition and health are not guilty of idolatry. Nor is it even comparable to practicing witchcraft or sorcery.  Creation testifies to God in every corner of the universe. There is no leaf you can turnover that doesn’t declare something of the Lord. He reveals Himself to all people through His creation so that all have no excuse.  Roman 1:21 states that “they knew God but they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking”. THAT folks is paganism. Utilizing creation and nature without giving glory to God for it, is the heart of paganism. Paul makes a clear distinction between that and the proper approach to nature, as a testament of God’s own goodness and providence.
This is why we eat the way we do, and seek out natural approaches to helping our bodies fight off illness. It is all done with the utmost reverence for God’s creation. It is in keeping with our worldview. We do not compartmentalize our religion from other aspects of our lives. If we are to live for God’s glory then all parts of our lives must be governed accordingly.  I admit there isn’t a prescription in scripture on diets, unless of course you are Jewish. There are however principles held within scripture that give us clear direction and guidance on how we should care for these earthen vessels that Lord has given us. 
Some will get caught up in some vague spiritual application of what I’m talking about and totally miss the forest for the trees. Whatever you eat or drink should be done for the glory of the Lord. There are times when we will be ill and need to see the doctor. Even Jesus says that “healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick ones do” (Mark 2:17).  Just as in those who are sinners in need of His saving grace; He is the Great Physician and healer, bringing us from death into life.  I would submit that the idea of going to a doctor when you are not sick, seeking to be well, would be absolute lunacy to our spiritual ancestors.
In the end, we all have choices to make. We should all go forth in prayer and reverence when we make decisions that impact our health; physically and spiritually.  In our family we have chosen a different path that we believe is better. It does cost us something. It costs us time, money, and energy.  We have lost friends over this issue and gained sweeter friends in the process. We’ve learned more than we thought we could and been humbled in repentance for bad choices we made in the past. Even in those years when we were just going the course like everyone else, the Lord was gracious to pepper those years with sweet souls who very gently and in meekness warned us of some terrible things. The humbling moments where when their warnings became a reality, and we were forced to recognize and acknowledge our arrogance and ignorance; and in the end changed course.
I’m not a doctor. I cannot treat you or prescribe one single pharmaceutical – nor would I. I cannot diagnose you. I cannot give you a magic bullet. In fact, there are no magic bullets. Never have been and never will be.  God created our bodies as earthen vessels for His purposes and glory. We really should seek to learn how He would want us to care for what He has created. Chemicals and poisons will never bring about healing or health. Never. Anyone who claims that they will is lying or is deceived.

*This will be an open ended post. I will add recipes and ideas as they come to me*

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My How Time Flies

Life can get filled to the brim when a new baby arrives.  Most of you already know of the struggles we've had as a family since Clementine was born.  Well, I ended up taking Clementine time back to Portland for a second revision for her tongue tie.  She had a second revision on September 30th and since that time, she has done extremely well!  So many people have played a role in her being able to nurse and thrive.  Dr. Ghaheri in Portland is absolutely amazing and I wish there were more doctors like him around the world.  Dr. Jenny Brocker who was able to perform 3 CST (craniosacral) therapies for Clementine is just a blessing. Bryna Sampey, IBCLC, who helped me overcome lots of difficulties with breastfeeding Clementine has such a sweet place in my heart.  My dear friend Courtney Cook and her husband (and the rest of her family) was so kind and generous to open their home to me and Clementine twice.  Courtney took care of me when I was sick with mastitis and helped me emotionally through the tough parts of this journey of getting Clementine the help she desperately needed. The IBCLCs locally and our new chiro have all been such a blessing to my Clementine.  And now, finally, we have a dentist locally who went and trained under Dr. Kotlow that is doing the same procedure Clementine had done!  It doesn't benefit my Clementine one bit, but to see other babies and mommas get the help they need without having to leave the state is just amazingly sweet.

Whew!  I know, sounds like I'm accepting an award!  In reality, I am in a way accepting an award, but the award goes to Clementine.  She has been such a brave little lady.  All of this works into her own personal testimony of how the Lord has protected her throughout the pregnancy and thereafter, and even still.  Only the Lord could create such a beautiful display of His loving-kindness through a story like this.  Only He could have given me the strength to be the voice for my little one when she couldn't tell me "momma, I'm starving!".  There really are no words to describe the emotions that flow when I think back on the day I realized that's what had been going on since Clementine was born.

Now, here we are. Clementine is four months old and a happy thriving little baby.  She's rolling all over the place, trying hard to sit up and is a smiley happy baby.  It took some time for her to let me hold her to nurse her, but after several sessions of CST and several really good chiropractic adjustments by a new chiropractic, all of that has changed.  She now lets me hold her and she has a better latch when breastfeeding.  I feel like things are finally settling down in Clementine's world.  She can just be a baby, and not have to struggle or fight to feed.

In the midst of everything, there have been other things that have been trying in my life.  Soon after returning from Clementine's first revision in September, we got word that my husband was going to have to travel to Ohio for three weeks for his job.  He works with IBM and they needed him and his team to make a business trip for some specialized training to Ohio.  I've never been away from my husband that long and the thought of him not being here for three weeks was gut wrenching.  Fortunately, IBM paid to fly him home each weekend so that we could spend at least one day with him a week.  During his travels we realized that Clementine would have to go back to Portland for a second revision, and this cut his time in Ohio short.  I'm so very happy that all the traveling, both for he and I is OVER!  It was really hard not having my husband here for a couple of weeks.  Our other little ones had a tough time each time we had to drop him off at the airport. We all learned just how much we appreciate each other, and that when apart it just isn't what we want.
This was the first time she let me hold her to nurse her - WITHOUT fighting me

Through it all the Lord has been with me every step of the way.  He's comforted me when all I could do was cry.  There were moments there for awhile that all I did was cry.  Tear after tear would fall from my eyes as I cried out to the Lord for help. For strength. And He faithfully comforted me in ways that are so precious to me.  My marriage has been strengthened through the all of this, and the way I view my children has changed too.  When once I would give anything for a break.  A moment to myself.  Now, I don't have those feelings.  I am not a perfect mother.  I still get frustrated.  I still yell out of frustration.  My house still stays a mess some days. But this is MY life.  God has blessed me with THIS life.  He has given me four little girls. Four precious little girls. I love them. I cherish them. And each day I strive, by the grace of the Lord, to do better for them.  To show them the love of Christ. To show them the brokenness of humanity and that our only hope is Christ our Lord. 

I hope, and pray, that if they only learn one thing from me, that it would be to trust the Lord fully.  To believe that He will protect and provide.  That He will answer when they call to Him for help. I pray that in all of this they've seen me, in all of my faults and failures and tears, run to the Lord for help. Trust in Him for strength, and love Him regardless the outcome. 

Soli Deo Gloria!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Anniversary of My Death {My Conversion Testimony}

There are times being a mother is hard. Really hard. There are moments when I'm not sure of my ability to "mother" well.  Then the Lord throws me an opportunity to rise above my self doubt and trust that He will lead me according to His sovereign plan.  Trusting the Lord and following through with that trust by taking action is also quite scary.  What will others think of me? Will I totally fail and blemish my testimony? I've been on this earth for 32 years now, and one thing that I am learning is not to put too much stock in what others think about me.  I did that for a long time and in the end I tried to take my own life in October 2004 by swallowing lethal doses of several different pharmaceuticals. 

This is a hard month for me and yet one that brings me to my knees in thanksgiving. When October 10th rolls around I am forced to reflect on the past 9 years of truly being alive.  On October 10, 2004 I took my own life.  In the parts of my life I share now, I do not intend to offend anyone or point fingers of blame, but to share the power of God to choose to save a wretched sinner such as I. 

I will not sugar coat my childhood or young adulthood - it wasn't ideal.  I was not brought up in a Christian home or taught true biblical Christian values and morals.  I am from a broken home and was abandoned by my biological father who chose a life of immorality over his bride and children.  God did send another man to be my "dad" and I'm grateful that he chose to adopt two little girls while himself being a young man who could have chosen a much different life.  I remember being about 7 years old the first time I ran away from home. As a teenager I was rebellious and hardheaded.  I disrespected my mother terribly and I remember many hateful words spoken on both sides that have left deep wounds. I battled depression and suicidal thoughts as a teenager and abused alcohol at times.  I hated my life and longed to be free from authority. 

Then when I graduated high school things just got worse.  I wrecked a dear friend's car and landed myself in the hospital and left her family to pay the damages on the car.  I also lost the trust of  my friend, her parents, and my own family as well.  That was the last straw. I ended up moving in with my grandparents and then joined the United States Air Force to "get away". My grandfather sold me on the idea and I took the leap.  I'm an Air Force brat, so the life wasn't foreign to me. 

I enjoyed the structure of those first few months, but once I was given "freedom" I just went back to my old ways. Rebellion. I refused to follow the rules or at least did my best to push the envelope of what was "technically" against the rules.  I spent two years in Korea living it up as a true heathen.  What is ironic is that I really thought I was a Christian.  I had said the "Sinner's Prayer" at the age of 12 in a small Baptist Church and was baptized; my free "Get Out of Hell" ticket...right?  It is all I had ever known - say the prayer, get baptized and then live however you want because you will still go to Heaven.  There was not one example of true Christ-honoring obedience throughout my life, so how was I to know I was wrong?

I became involved with an officer, and if you know anything about the UCMJ, you'll know that as an enlisted person in the military that is a huge "No No", even though it happens all the time.  I spent nearly 2 years hoping he would marry me, and even ruined my military career with these hopes in mind.  To my shame and embarrassment he did not. He abandoned me like many others had before him, and left me brokenhearted and confused.  I felt so alone and the only advice I could get from those closest to me was to "move on and get over it", or "go out and find someone new".  Not once did anyone call me to repent and fall at the feet of the Lord.  It was just "dust yourself off and throw yourself back into the same situation".  Yeah, that always helps. 

Many other bad events happened during this time that I just can't bare to mention.  Suffice it to say, I was spiraling out of control and while people knew it, no one intervened. Maybe it is true that it is fun to watch a train wreck - I actually find it quite sickening.

Sadly, the person who abandoned me kept me on a leash of "hope" that he would take me back.  That is the worst torture.  Eventually he called and said he was meeting someone for a date. That is all I remember. 

On October 10, 2004 I emptied bottles of medication prescribed to me for various reasons (narcotic pain pills, anti-anxiety pills, anti-nausea pills, and two different anti-depressants). I worked in the medical field in the military and knew enough about medication and suicide to be dangerous.  After arriving home from church that Sunday afternoon with  my grandparents, I had a very normal phone call with my ex, until he mentioned he could not call me on a certain night because he was going on a date. Everything after that is a blur and all I remember is hugging my grandfather and going to take a nap.  My grandmother found me 4 hours later, unresponsive and not breathing.  A sweet friend had called to talk to me and instead of calling my cell, called the house phone which woke up my grandmother.  If it weren't for that mistake...well...my heart aches to even ponder that thought.

My grandmother immediately began CPR while my grandfather called 911.  They live a good ways from a hospital, BUT an ambulance just happened to be driving down their street at the time of the call.  When they arrived, from what I've been told, they thought it pointless to continue CPR, but my grandmother insisted.  The paramedic saw the empty bottles and I know they knew.  They knew it was pointless.  They knew I was serious.  They knew that I knew.

My family met at the hospital where they were informed that there was nothing that could be done and that I would not survive.  In the emergency room I suffered from seizure after seizure, inhaled much of the charcoal that was being pumped into my stomach. It was hopeless.  The doctors and nurses that stood over me knew that I would not make it.  They knew their efforts were merely to show gallant effort before my very frightened family as a means to ease their hurting.

I was on life support for three days with tubes and hoses hooked up to my body.  Everywhere they could get an IV, I had one.  An IV in each leg, 2 in each arm, and one in my neck. As I understand it, my funeral was being planned, or at the very least contemplated. The nurses that cared for me in the ICU were quite confused.  Here I was, a beautiful 23 year old woman with the world at my door.  And yet, I felt the desire to smash that world to pieces.  They didn't know the whole story, so I don't blame them for thinking that.

God walks in.

At some point on that third day of being on life support I opened my eyes.  At first everyone thought it a mistake or some electrical firings that didn't mean "signs of life". However, I began to struggle. 

Hallelujah I struggled!

The pastor of the church that my grandparents had attended since I was little said he likened it to Jacob's wrestling with the Angel.  I wholeheartedly agree because once I realized I was alive, I was one ticked off person.  Why?  Because even in that moment I felt like more of a failure.  The clouds of darkness surrounded my soul like a pack of wolves surround a defenseless lamb.  And I struggled with the Lord. Most would think the suicide attempt was the defining moment in my life. Nope. It was in this moment upon realizing I was alive that was the defining moment between the Almighty and I. 

The Lord's presence was very heavy in that ICU room. I knew He was an angry and a jealous God in that moment.  I also learned of His sweet and awesome mercy, grace and love for me.

Oh how the tears flow in this moment as I recall these events.

He didn't have to save me. He could have let me die that day and I would have met Him as my Judge not my Savior. I did not, and I do not, deserve His loving-kindness or His mercy. I do not.

Recovery had its ups and downs - physically, emotionally and spiritually. The night before I was transferred from the ICU to psychiatric facility for further evaluation, one of  the nurses came into my room after noticing on the monitors that it appeared I was restless.  His name was Rudy. Rudy was brought up Roman Catholic but was an atheist upon my arrival to the ICU. He was married with a new baby daughter to be born shortly. He sat with me that night until the sun was nearly up and talked with me. As I poured my heart out and unloaded my entire life's story on him, he turned to me and said "You cannot deny there is a God who loves you." I thought this odd because early in our conversation he said he was an atheist. Then, Rudy looked me straight in the eyes and said "I was an atheist. Then you woke up." And with that, Rudy left me to rest. In that moment, the Lord spoke very softly to my soul and I relented. I sobbed and sobbed in repentance and begged for His forgiveness, knowing I didn't deserve it. And He flooded me with a peace that I had never known before.  It was finished. My hope was in Christ alone for His glory alone.

Life didn't just suddenly get better at this point. I still had to face the music for my actions.  I still had a body that had been beaten and bruised because of what I had put it through. There was going to be a time of recovery and no one knew what the final outcome would be. Would I have liver damage that would in the end  take my life? Would I have permanent brain damage and life long seizures? Would my kidneys suddenly shut down?  Would my lungs heal from inhaling charcoal and having pneumonia? Would the leg that got infected from one of the IVs heal, or would it get worse? 

Family relationships became more strained. Hurtful words were launched at me. And yet, the Lord held me close.

I stayed at a facility that would determine the next course of treatment for 2 weeks.  My first night was rough.  I couldn't sleep and was still trying to wade through the waters of what I had always thought about Christianity, and what do I do now.

The enemy of my soul remained encamped around me whispering lies and condemnation.

A sweet nurse came in my room to check on me around 11pm. As we sat and talked, she abruptly stood up and said, "Go into the bay area and wait there.  I know just the person you need to talk to".  It was close to midnight; who on earth was she going to pawn me off on? In minutes a very long haired man with a cup of coffee walked in and sat down in a chair next to me.  He introduced himself and asked me to "start from the beginning", and so I did.  We sat and he listened to me until close to 5am. He prayed for me and with me that morning and then each day after that. While I was there at the facility he came to check on me and bring me letters of encouragement from the scriptures. 

After two weeks the doctors at this facility did not think it wise to discharge me because of the familial friction still fresh and active, so I was transfered to the State Psychiatric Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi.  I was terrified. The entire staff was shocked that I wasn't going home but also understood the seriousness of needing true support upon leaving the facility, and had witnessed that there was none for me at that time.  They all hugged me and wished me well and there were many tears as I left that place. 

At the state hospital I felt like I was in prison. My heart broke for the truly tormented souls that were patients there. I saw things and heard things that would make your skin crawl, and it just broke my heart and terrified me.  I was given a team of doctors, nurses and social workers to determine how long I'd stay at the state hospital.  They were all so kind and listened to me more than anyone had ever listened to me.  They listened and understood my own concerns and helped me work through past pain that I had never dealt with.  The doctors also made sure that I got a clean bill of health before discharging me.  Another factor that would determine the length of my stay was having a meeting with the person who "committed" me and ensuring that I had true loving support upon discharge.  They weren't going to risk sending me back into a situation surrounded by people that could cause another suicide attempt. 

My stay at the state hospital, while frightening at times, was seasoned with very sweet and tender moments as the staff was more than gracious to me. Each person I came into contact with was kind and had a genuine concern for me and my future.  The biggest surprise came when a visitor arrived to see me unexpectedly.  I had no idea who it would be as I had not authorized any visitors.  It was the sweet man who had worked at the prior facility I was at.  He drove 4 hours after his all night shift to visit and encourage me.  He arrived about 10 minutes before visiting hours were over, but he promised to be back the next day to visit before heading home.  He returned the following weekend as well to visit and this time I was permitted to walk outside with him.  He spoke to me of the Lord and prayed with me and for me.

Then the day came for me to be discharged.  I will not give details of the "meeting", but it was clear to me that no one was happy that I was being released.  And yet, the Lord still held me close. The doctor knew it was time and that I showed no signs of being "dangerous". As I left the state hospital I was wished well and given lots of love and encouragement as I embarked on a new life.

I did end up getting a place of my own, and I would meet my friend at a local book store for coffee.  A few weeks later he proposed and a month later we were married.  We have been married for 9 years this December. 

I cannot tell you why the Lord chose to let me live. I can tell you that each day I wake up thankful for all He has given me, and even those things He has taken from me.  Even in the mess I created for myself by committing suicide, the Lord used that to show Himself mighty and sovereign in my life.  He blessed me with a truly devoted and loving husband who witnessed me at my worst and used him to help heal many many wounds.  He has blessed me with four sweet daughters that bring an insurmountable joy to my life, even on our toughest of days. 

This month is not only the anniversary of  my death, but more importantly the anniversary of the new life I have in Christ.  Do I believe in miracles? I have not the luxury to doubt.

Soli Deo Gloria!