Monday, October 30, 2017

Growth-Part 4

If you missed 
click the links above to catch up.

That's where I left off from last time.
I was determined to hit the roads again, and run.
 I was determined I would keep doing the things that I loved doing. 
The things that I had become so dependent upon.
The very things that I was told I should no longer do.
The things that I 
to do, especially when stress overcame me.
The sad part is, I was looking inward, and not upward.
This has not only been a physical and emotional journey;
it's been a spiritual journey.
As long as I can remember, I have always dealt with stress by being active.
 Most people think I am calm...
I internalize everything, so it gives off the appearance of "calm."
My family knows that I am a nut case.
And all that bottled up energy needs somewhere to go.
When I was younger, I would go outside and shoot basketball for hours...

 The bouncing ball used to drive my mother bonkers. :-)
When I started homeschooling, running became my outlet.
In case you weren't aware...homeschooling can be a little stressful ;-)
So, I decided I no longer had Ehlers Danlos Syndrome...for all of 1 mile.
I tried multiple times, and every time I was reminded by my body that it was no longer able to do what I wanted it to do.
The stress had no where to go, so it manifested itself through nightmares.
I got to the point where I was afraid to go to sleep because I didn't know what horrible thing I would dream of next.
Every time I started to look inward, searching for an answer to alleviate the stress, the voice of the Lord would say, "It's Me you need, not running."
Being the control freak that I am, I dug my heals in, and said, "No. That's not what I want. I need to run. That's how I will get through all of this."
I can really picture God up there in heaven, sitting back, smiling, crossing his fingers across His chest, and saying, "Okay. I'll just sit here and wait until you're ready. Because you will change your mind."
And I did.
It took several months of anger, crying, being frustrated, and finally realizing that this was not going away.
I had to get over the feeling of hopelessness.
I also had to get through the guilt.
Why would I have guilt?
Because there is a 50% chance of passing Ehlers Danlos Syndrome to your children.
And that little girl right there has it.
She has not been formerly diagnosed because the geneticist wanted to wait until both were 12 years old before testing them.
However, she is on the same timeline that I was on.
She is my mini-me in every way imaginable.
She and I have shed a lot of tears together over the last few months.
Fortunately, the Lord has shown me grace and given me the strength and wisdom to help her work through some of the same mental road blocks.
Little man has not shown as many signs, thankfully. 
He's bendy, but doesn't seem to struggle with the other symptoms. He's got his daddy's hardiness.
So what do I do to stay strong?
I hired a personal trainer, who comes to my house twice a week because I ain't got time to be running all over creation.;-)
She helps motivate me and keeps me on track.
We use this book as our guide book.
It's super boring and slow, but it really does make a difference.
At first, I wouldn't use it because I felt it was beneath me. The exercises were too easy.
Pride sure does get in my way, doesn't it?
But, after a few weeks of using it, and staying true to the exercises, my subluxations are becoming less frequent.
Ehlers Danlos patience will also show signs of gluten intolerance and symptoms of Celiacs disease without being officially diagnosed.
We switched over to Paleo, and it has made a world of difference in both of us.
Joint pain and stomach pain have decreased in both of us, and we generally just feel better.
Sister is on acid reflux medicine currently, and we're hoping to get her off of that in a few weeks. 
I'm also working on a supplement plan that is catered to my needs.

There are days when life is great, I'm feeling good, and the acceptance is there, and then there are days when I feel terrible, and everything hurts, and I get angry about it.
The ick days are when I have to lean extra hard on God.
And can I just say that hubby has been my  rock through this whole process. He has been so patient, and kind. He has watched me battle internally this entire year.
He is there to hold me when I need a shoulder to cry on.
He is there when I need a voice of reason.
He is there to pray for me.
He is there.

No matter how awful I feel, I have him.
I have my children.
I have God.
Therefore, I want for nothing.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Growth- Part 3

If you missed 
you can click the links so you can catch up.

This post has been a lot harder to write than I anticipated. There have been a flood of emotions as I go back through everything I have been through over these past few months.
However, it's been interesting to think back through the journey, and see how God has been there every step of the way.  
Picking up where I left off...
The physical therapists that I visited for all of my running ailments had an in-service day where they were learning how to treat a particular syndrome. 
All three girls who had been working on me agreed that there was a chance this was what I was suffering from. 
There is a quick test you can do to see if you qualify for further testing. It's called the Beighton Score.
If you look at the picture below, you can see the different things that are tested. 
I scored 9 out of 9. :-(
So that got the ball rolling in forming a diagnosis.
The physical therapists contacted my doctor, who in turn scheduled an appointment with a geneticist. I had to wait three months in order to see this particular doctor, and we had to travel 2 hours to see him.
May 8, 2017, I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Hypermobility Type.
That day is pretty much a blur. 
I was asked all sorts of random questions (or what seemed to be random) which all pointed back to this diagnosis. 
I remember breaking down when he told me I had it.
I remember my sweet babies trying to comfort me because they don't like it when they see their momma cry.
I remember my sweet husband sitting there, being a rock for me. (I love that guy so much!)
Even though this was a tough day for me, it was also the answer to all of my health questions over the years.
There are 6 different strands (I think) of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. The geneticist told me not to google it because it would scare me to I heeded his advice ;-)
Hypermobility Type is what I have. 
There is also a spectrum for the Hypermobility type, and I am on the top end, thankfully.
Because I have been active my entire life, I have been able to "stay in place" a little better, and stay strong.
I did take a hit emotionally, though.
 I now have to see a cardiologist every year to make sure that my heart looks good. 
In some patients, the heart is effected. I believe the arteries can collapse due to over-elasticity.
That was very scary to hear.
However, my heart is in perfect shape.
I have to have a bone density scan every year...something I knew would eventually know, when I was O.L.D. ;-)
And thankfully my bones look great.
Another praise.
I am no longer supposed to run, due to the impact on my joints. I cannot produce collagen like a normal person, which plays an important role in building joint cartilage. Taking collagen supplements does not make it better.
Not being able to run...Knife to the gut right there. 
I also am not supposed to lift weights, get on a treadmill or an elliptical machine.
I am not supposed to stretch because that makes my symptoms worse.
In order to feel like I get a deep stretch, I have to go further than a normal person which makes the joints looser.
I feel the need to stretch constantly because my body is in a state of constant tension. It's doing it's best to stay together.
So everything I have been doing over the years to stay fit and healthy were taken away from me, and that made me angry.
Two weeks after my diagnosis, I decided I no longer had Ehlers Danlos, and I was going to do what I wanted to do...and as you would have guessed, that didn't work.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Non-Candy Halloween Options for the Teal Pumpkin Project

Are you guys finished with your Halloween preparations?
We are still in the process of getting all of our ducks in a row.
I do have our non-candy treats squared away, fortunately.

I purchased all of these items from Amazon.

They were pretty inexpensive, and I hope they are a hit with the kiddos that come through our neighborhood.

Laser finger beams, sparkle rings, miniature turtle erasers, and sticky hands are what I will be giving out.
Since these are pretty small, I will probably be handing out something like Pirate Booty for the ones who are extra little (3 years old and under).

All that we have left to do is finish Sister's costume. She's decided she is going to be a zombie bride.
(insert eye roll)
I hate it. 
I wanted her to be something cutesy and non-evil, but that's not what she wants.
We have to make the costume because everything online was too gory. I hate zombies. I think all of you who love The Walking Dead are a bunch of W.E.I.R.D.O.S. ;-)
How is it possible to enjoy your nightmares come to life??
My boy is going to be a pumpkin goblin.
I'm just glad he wants to participate.
He usually wears a costume long enough for pictures and rips it off due to embarassment.
We'll see how it goes this year!
I will be going as Cinderella this year, and I cannot wait to wear my dress.
Last year I went as Snow White, and can I just say it is so much fun being a princess!
Do you know how precious those little girls were when they got to meet Snow White??
I'm hoping this year will be even better.
We're still working on a costume for hubby. I believe it will involve the purple velvet sombrero we were gifted for last year's dirty Santa. Ha!
So do you dress up for Halloween?
I'd love to hear what you're going to be if you do.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Growth-Part 2

In my last post, I left you hanging.
Sorry about that.
I hate cliff hangers. 
So, I get it. 
However, because there is so much to share about this journey, I felt the need to break it up into several smaller posts.
I left off where my world was about to be turned upside down.
After the races at Disney, I took a week or so off from running to allow my legs a break.  When it was all said and done, I clocked over 100 miles that week between the races and all the walking in the parks.
 I tried to get back into my regular running routine because I had another half marathon coming up in a month, and I needed to stay in shape for that.
My IT bands (a band that stretches from your knee all the way up to your hip) would not loosen up.This is a common injury among runners, and it's due to hip instability.
Here again, I thought I was just like everyone else.
I just needed a little physical therapy and everything would be fine.
 I was not missing this next race for anything.
Hubby was running, and it was his first half marathon.
I wanted to share that with him.
And I did.

I WALKED 11 of the 13 miles because I couldn't run. 
It hurt too bad.
However, it was fun, and it's a memory I will always cherish.

I realized after that race it was time to take an extended break, and really hunker down with physical therapy.
The therapists worked so hard to help me find relief.
Bless 'em.
They guided me in hip strengthening exercises, they massaged my IT bands, and they even did dry needling (which hurts like the dickens!! I almost passed out the first time).
Nothing seemed to work. 
I got tired of the therapy not giving me the results I wanted, and as much as I loved the girls who were working on me, I was really tired of seeing their faces.
So I quit going.
I had other things to focus on like my sister's wedding.

The weeks turned into months, and running was no longer and option. This disturbed me greatly because running was my outlet with homeschooling. 
It was imperative that I run in order to cope.
I was a much nicer person when I could run.
Also, I could eat whatever I wanted, and it not really effect my weight.
Since my coping mechanism had been postponed until a later date, I began to deal with my stress in other ways.
 I ate my feelings.
And folks, when you eat your feelings, your skinny jeans become vulgar.
Just sayin'.
I started gaining weight.
I wear a lot of Matilda Jane clothing, and that stuff just stretches along with you.
You don't know how much you have gained until you go to put on your jeans, and the waistband stops at the base of your saddle bags and says loud and clear, "I ain't doin' it."
Even though I had ditched my physical therapists, they did not forget me.
I thank the Lord for their dedication and their kindness because they were able to figure out what was going on with me, and get me to the right doctor, to properly diagnose me.
Never in a million years would I have dreamed I would end up in a geneticists office.

To read Part 1, click

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Growth-Part 1

I have made mention a few times that we switched over to Paleo for health reasons, but I never divulged why. 
Over the last 5 months, I have been on a new health journey, and it has been one of the hardest things to do mentally, spiritually, and physically.
Feelings of hopelessness have been overwhelming at times. 
Deep depression set in for a bit...something that I previously thought only the "mentally weak" struggled with (a prideful thought on my part).
There has been a lot of anger mixed with grief.
And my family has suffered right along with me because all of these feelings weren't staying bottled up. 
So basically the five stages of grief, minus the bargaining stage because I don't bargain. 
Unless it's at a thrift store or a yard sale ;-)
I finally feel like I am in the stage of acceptance. I have pulled myself up by the boot straps, and I'm no longer fighting against who I am and how I am made.
I'm just going with it.

So a little history for you...
I have struggled with digestive issues as long as I can remember. 
I have memories of lying in front of the toilet of our little farm house in Tennessee, clenching my stomach, and sobbing because the pain was so intense.
I was diagnosed with IBS in elementary school, after a humiliating visit to the doctor, and just went about life after that...taking Milk of Magnesia (the worst tasting over-the-counter medicine known to any child of the 80's) when my symptoms would flare.
(That's me on the far dress looks like it should have been wrapped around an arm chair instead of a child, HA!!)

I also struggled with other health related issues along the way, but they all seemed to be random.
I could do funny tricks with my elbows and fingers, and could gross people out with how bendy I was. Unfortunately, my "bendiness" started causing problems when playing basketball in high school.
I believe it was my freshman year when I reached in to steal a ball, that my shoulder subluxed (partial dislocation). 
Super painful.
From there on out, I suffered from shoulder subluxations frequently.
My senior year, I turned my ankle, a common basketball injury, so it didn't seem out of the ordinary.
I continued to have issues throughout my years of college basketball, and when you play contact sports, you assume that injuries will be par for the course.
I wore ankle braces on both ankles, and constantly sprained them WITH the ankle braces on. 
I had surgery on my shoulder as a junior in college to tighten the ligaments because the subluxations were getting so nasty that all I had to do was sneeze and my shoulder would pop out. 
Gross, I know.
Fast forward a few years...
Pregnancy opened new doors to new subluxations.
I had to go to physical therapy during both pregnancies because my hips started to sublux. The physical therapists worked on tightening the muscles around my hip flexors so I could walk without falling apart.
It didn't seem too out-of-the-ordinary because I had always heard that when you're pregnant, things start to loosen and spread apart. 
I thought it was normal.
And things calmed down a bit after the babies were born, thankfully.

Six years ago, I started running. 
It was a great way to relieve stress, and it was helping all my joints stay in place. I was becoming stronger again, and I was feeling great.
There were injuries along the way, but I didn't care.
That was normal for me, and I just pushed through.

I ran my first half marathon in Nashville TN, and I was super proud of myself.
I didn't run the entire way because I started to struggle with my IT bands tightening up, but I finished.
I had caught the running bug, and in a sense, taken on apart of my old identity as an athlete.

I have several half marathons under my belt, and my biggest accomplishments were competing in weekend challenges where I would run or bike in multiple races over the course of two days.
I keep all of my (participation) medals and trophies in my craft closet because, let's be honest, nobody cares :-D!!

The Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend will always and forever be my favorite challenge to participate in.
The Glass Slipper Challenge, a10K race followed by a half marathon the next day, was what started my body's downward spiral.

Little did I know that this would be the end of running for me.

To hear more, make sure to come back.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Teal Pumpkin

We have enjoyed two full weeks off from school, and it has been amazing!! A break that we definitely needed. All three of us were starting to go a little batty.
I have been able to knock out so many things on my to-do list. Things that are a little harder to tackle when we are busy with school work.
One of the tasks at hand was diving a little deeper into Paleo cooking. Sister and I struggle with intestinal and stomach issues, and Paleo seems to be a great option for us. 
We are using Danielle Walker's Against All Grain Cookbooks, and we have not been disappointed. 

The food has been delicious and our stomachs are much happier.
Since we have taken on this new style of eating, it has opened my eyes to the world of food intolerance and food-related allergies.
Halloween candy is definitely a big no-no for those who fall into that category.
Have you guys heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project 
We will be participating in it this year, and to let other families know that we are handing out non-candy alternatives, we have our very own teal pumpkin on our front porch.
This is what our little pumpkin looked like when we found him at the thrift store. He was a whopping $1.
Breakin' the bank, I tell ya.
 Fortunately, I had turquoise paint sitting around.
 The pumpkin took two coats of paint.
While it was drying, I drank my afternoon coffee from my new coffee mug.
You can find the vinyl decal HERE.
Can you name the movie this quote comes from??
After the pumpkin dried completely, I decided to glam it up a bit. 
I used Modge Podge on the stem, and added rose gold glitter.
All he needs is a little candle to make him glow :-)
Who else is participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Fall/Halloween Home Tour

Good Morning Friends!
Are you guys ready for Halloween?? 
Our house has been decorated, costumes have been purchased (even for myself), and the Fall baking has begun.
We are so excited for the upcoming holiday season!! 
I have lots of Halloween decor, but I don't usually put out the creepy stuff until the day of Halloween because it doesn't really go with the rest of my decor. I will most likely take pictures, but I won't be blogging about it, so make sure you are following me on Instagram. I will be sharing the pictures and videos on my "stories."
So today, you'll get to see the "non-creepy" decorations ;-)

If you notice, my front porch isn't covered with any real pumpkins...we haven't been to the pumpkin patch yet. :-) That's on next week's agenda.
We have become a Paleo family, so gluten and processed sugars are out for us. Sister also got braces this week, so we sympathize with the non-candy families out there. This year, we will be handing out treats that are allergy friendly, hence the turquoise pumpkin.
Check back to see the process of how I transformed this little guy I picked up from the thrift store the other day. 
Here's our fireplace mantel. Fairly simple, with just a few touches of Halloween.

And my interchangeable hymnal wreath with the Halloween center. 
 I like to have my Fall decor carry me all the way through Thanksgiving if possible. 
I found this quote on Pinterest, and loved it. 
 This little pumpkin sign is a new addition this year. I purchased it from 2crafty4myskirt. I have been following Alese on Instagram for a few weeks now, and her signs are super cute.
Confession time:
I am fighting the urge to bring out all my Christmas decor. 
Ridiculous, I know. 
This year I will have to show some restraint because we are hosting Thanksgiving at our house. 
I won't put Christmas decorations out until the day after Thanksgiving. 
It's going to be so hard!! 
(First world problems).

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

I'm Still Here...

Wow! Long time no see, right? I didn't realize how long it had been until I received an email about my blog a few days ago. It made me realize how much I miss blogging, and the connection to the outside world. I actually started this blog after spending 5 solid months with sick babies who caught everything imaginable, and I had not seen any adults outside of hubby and the doctor during that span of time(slight exaggeration, but it was almost that bad). I needed a way to connect with humanity, and blogging provided that connection. Here lately I have felt extremely isolated due to our season of life. A feeling I know a lot of mommas and daddys feel at one point or another when in the throes of child rearing.
Our lives are so busy right now with homeschool, our Classical Conversations community, church, Taekwondo, and golf(new to us...and I love it) that I have barely been able to keep my head above water at times. That's just the stuff we have to do with the kids. Somewhere in the midst of all that I am a wife, a hair stylist (once a month), and a travel agent(which I also LOVE). There have been moments where I have literally broken down into tears with just feeling completely overwhelmed with everything that needs to get done in a day.
Last night I woke up at 1:30 a.m., and could not get my mind to turn off. I could not stop thinking about all of the things I have ahead of me in the coming weeks. So many opportunities, and every one of them are blessings...but it takes time and planning for those to come about. I am at a point where I feel the need to drop a thing or two, but then there's this little thing called commitment, and there are people depending on me. It will all work out, I just need to quit putting the cart before the horse :-)
We have had so many changes come about in our family this year, and I do plan on sharing them. This has been a year of spiritual and mental growth for me, and I have fought it tooth and nail the entire way. I look forward to sharing the journey that I have been on, as well as my family's journey, so I hope that you will keep checking back to see what we have been up to.
Until then... :-)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Our Portion of Faith

It has literally been forever and a day since I have posted here, but I felt a tug at the heart. Most of the time this blog is dedicated to DIY and home decor. Occasionally, though, I share my faith. Today seems to be one of those days. I have had a few conversations lately that made me want to dive a little deeper into the thought of "Bearing one another's burdens." Mind you, there is nothing earth-shattering here. Just my thoughts.

We are told in Galatians 6:2, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." For most of us who follow the Christian faith, we ignore this verse. We really don't want to air our dirty laundry, or hear about someone else's...especially in this day and age when everything posted on social media portrays our "highlight reel." Granted, we probably have a select few in whom we will divulge our secrets, but for the most part we keep our problems to ourselves. When someone is brave enough to reveal their struggles, we tend to listen for just a bit, and then go on with our daily lives. If that brave soul continues to share on a regular basis, we eventually roll our eyes and run in the other direction and hide. I'm sure each of us can think of at least one person who fits that description. If you can' may be that person...I'm kidding!! I remember when I was younger there being certain women in the church who would come forward after the sermon (regularly), asking for prayers. After a few times, it became sort of a joke, and even annoying because it was cutting into lunch time. It was especially irritating if the preacher had been long-winded that day. Shameful, I know, but those thoughts did run through my mind. :-)

Bearing each others' burdens requires slowing down, looking up from our screens, and making eye contact, as well as soul contact. I don't believe that we are required to personally take on someone else's burden as our own. The Psalmist writes, Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22) In some instances, we can help lessen the load, but other times, circumstances won't allow it. However, there are some very important things we can do. We can listen, and we can pray.

Listening to someone unload can be downright exhausting, especially when they are going through a trying time. As a hair stylist, I get to hear A LOT about someone when they are sitting in my chair. Sometimes it's good news, and then other times it's just awful, and all that person really needs is an ear to listen. Two things I have had to learn as a listener, though. 1.) I cannot make these burdens my own, and 2.) I cannot compare my life to theirs. Those are difficult lessons to learn, and ones that I haven't quite mastered. There have been several times where I have literally dropped to my knees in tears for friends or family who were suffering, asking God to lessen their load. And it can be especially frustrating when you don't see immediate results. The bible tells us that patience is a "fruit."
Gal. 5:22
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
For me, patience is a lemon...still a fruit, but sour to taste. :-) 

We have several examples in the bible where strong leaders were either praying intercessory prayers, or asking for them. Christ, when He was about to be led to the cross, prays for His disciples because He knows the trials they will face. Paul requested from the church at Ephesus  “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:18-20).
We must pray for those who are burdened, but have the understanding that everything is done in God's time.
I mentioned earlier that we cannot compare our lives to the ones for whom we are praying. It's really hard when we see others who seem to be doing more than us. Who seem to be killing it in God's kingdom. Who are completely on fire for God's cause. And when they become burdened, it causes us to take a moments pause and reevaluate our own lives. Maybe even bring about guilt in what we see as our own shortcomings as a Christian. Why aren't we doing more for the kingdom? Should we be doing this or that to bring more souls to Christ? However, in that moment, we must realize everyone has been given a "measure of faith" by God.

Romans 12 says:
 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

We do not all have the "same function" or the same "gifts." We are all wired differently, and it's 100% ok.  We should focus on the gifts that God has given us and make the most of them. Comparison and guilt kill joy, and they cause us to focus inward instead of outward. How can it be possible to help those who are burdened if we are dwelling on what we perceive to be our shortcomings? 

All in all, the only way I have found it possible to "bear another's burdens" is to lie those burdens at the feet of Jesus and wait patiently, while holding the hand of the one who is burdened.