Uncategorized

Love Lived Out

I am not a mushy or sentimental person…at least I did not use to be. I am becoming more so since marrying Andrew.

Let me tell you, this man is the sweetest and most verbally affirming person I know. He is constantly telling me I am beautiful, what he likes most about me, or how proud of me he is. This is not something that just happened when we started dating. Even back in college through our “just friends” years, he affirmed me and who I was. Although, it changed a bit when started dating!

As of today, we have been married 4 years. These first years are nothing what I imagined they would be when I dreamed of being married. I was sick going into marriage and there was a time when I was bedridden. My poor health has affected every aspect of our lives, especailly our marriage.

Although it has been difficult, my illness has made marriage all the more beautiful. God has shown me ever more intimately the depth of His love for me. Andrew has been His vessel in showing me His love.

There have been some dark times for me over the last 4 years where I did not feel God with me. But I never doubted that He was indeed there. All I had to do was look at my faithfully loving husband and know.

Andrew has…

held me in the midst of pain.

cried with me when brokenhearted.

carried me (literally & figuratively) when I had no strength to walk on my own.

loved me through my darkest times.

cared for me physically and emotionally.

encouraged me in the midst of discouragement.

sacrificed himself daily for me.

The list could go on. Every day Andrew shows me the love of Jesus. A sacrificial love that can only come from the Lord. God is so gracious, He has given me the gift of a husband who loves and seeks to know Him.

So, as I look back at these 4 years of marriage, I am incredibly thankful for how God has used them to show me more of who He is. Thankful for the man He has given me to walk alongside of in this life. I am thankful that He has brought two broken, imperfect people, such as we are, together in this beautiful covenant of marriage.

My prayer is that God would continue to protect our marriage and most importantly, be glorified through it.

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Uncategorized

A Constant Battle

One of the greatest supports for my body, as I have been in treatment for Lyme Disease, has been having a clean and healthy diet. Imagine that! Fresh, whole food helps my body fight, rejuvenate and heal. As I have said before, we are either feeding disease or fighting it!

Thanks to the support of my husband and family, this lifestyle change was made easier. My sweet husband has joined me in solidarity in giving up the things that were most difficult…coffee and sweets. That is love! We have been on this journey for over two years now. For the most part, I did pretty well with a slip every now and then. Then I started an administrative job…

There are constantly pastries, chocolate and cookies here in our office. All things that I used to LOVE! For the first month or two, I was able to have self control but then I started tasting little pieces. That led to a downward spiral. The lack of control I exhibited with food at work discouraged  me.

In an effort to stop this, I created a small sign to put on my desk with a quote to encourage me and with a list of reminders of what I am fighting for. Having this reminder with positive self encouragement has been helpful. It is amazing how the attitude you choose to have has the power to transform the way you live!

As I have been thinking more about it, I find it interesting that as I have been learning to implement a life of decrease in many areas of my life, this struggle with food has arisen. It is ingrained in us to want more. Normally I associate this with belongings, but the same can be applied to food and other areas of life as well.

The same reasons I am drawn to minimalism of possessions can also be applied to the way I eat. What needs to change is my mindset. With prayer and accountability, I am getting back on track. My body is responding quickly to this with more energy and less pain!

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Lyme Disease

Lets Be Real

Living with an illness every day is draining. Just imagine yourself having a constant cold for years and that gives you a small glimpse into what it’s like. It is a fight to stay positive on a daily basis. Which I am failing at routinely more recently.

My Lyme journey ebbs and flows constantly. I will be steadily improving and beginning to hope that full healing is possible and then it comes crashing down. I have grown in not letting despair overtake me when this occurs, but the last month and a half has been a real challenge.

It is a frustrating process trying to figure out why I backslide health wise. Is it something I’m doing/not doing, treatment not working or just the nature of the disease? A lot of trial and error to figure it out. Most of all prayer.

The discouragement can be overwhelming as I watch these years move steadily on. Social media is great because it helps me keep up with people (on a surface level that is) but it also leads me to a place of discontentment. Seeing my friends starting a family and traveling stirs up jealousy. So, I’m trying not to scroll through social media anymore. Learning to be content with where God has me. Never imagined that most of my 20’s being taken by poor health, but I know God is using this time (even if I don’t see how yet).

Lets be real though…I am tired. Tired of it all. Thankful for God’s strength because without it, I would have given up a long time ago.

 

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Lyme Disease

5 Things I Have Learned From Living With a Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness will teach you a lot. I do not know what it is like to have always lived with an illness, but I do know what it is like to have to suddenly completely alter one’s life around one. There are more then 5 things that living with Chronic Lyme Disease has taught me, but here are 5 that I have been processing through more recently.

Beauty in the Moments

To often we take the simple things for granted. Some of life’s most beautiful moments are found in the quiet everyday occurrences. When you have an illness, these simple moments you see with a whole new light. They are moments you long for and hold tightly to for when you need a little hope.

While enjoying dinner at a restaurant with conversations surrounding me, my adorable nephew suddenly slides his arm through mine and looks up at me with his joyful brown eyes. He just leaves it there, continues eating and steals sweet smiles with me. A moment that brought such joy and continues to!

Or how every night when my husband gets home, he yells “Beautiful woman! I’m home!” and kisses me exclaiming that this is the best part of his day. He does this every single day. He makes me feel cherished with that simple welcome.

The Power of Presence

Until I spent hours upon hours alone day after day, I did not comprehend how powerful the presence of another person was. My family has surrounded me with their support, but they all are busy with work and life so it left a lot of time by myself. I have longed for companionship! It is difficult to cultivate new relationships when one is home bound…or rekindle old friendships.

My family has given me their companionship as often as they can. From making special trips just to see me, going with me to doctor appointments, sitting with me during treatments or making sure I’m not alone when I’m in my worst pain. These are just a few ways my family gifted me with their presence during my greatest isolation.

My best friend, who lives states away, has called and texted me frequently. When she could not get a hold of me, she checked in on me with my husband. She may not be able to be physically present but she is so present in my life! Her love and consistency through this difficult season of life has meant so very much to me.

Their presence is a strength, an encouragement and it’s healing to my spirit. Even though I am no longer home bound, the feeling of isolation continues (although not as strong as before). Never doubt the power of your presence in another persons life!

Self Care is Vital

I believe this is important for everyone, but when you have a chronic illness it is mandatory. If I do not take the time for self care daily, I am not able to function. Most of my self care is for my body through healthy meals, exercise, rest, sauna, massage and salt baths. All of these things have been vital for my healing and maintenance. My life is very routine and planned ahead. I do not do as well with last minute things because I have to be sure to have the rest my body needs daily. I miss the days of spontaneity!

Self care emotionally is important as well. Make sure to do something enjoyable and fun! This does not require spending money. Some of our favorite things are to go to the beach (or just anywhere in nature), play a game, read, watch a movie (at home) or just go for a walk. Try even for 15 minutes a day, it can reshape your perspective.

One’s Attitude Determines Your Reality

We may not always have control as to what happens to us in life, but we can control how we respond. Your attitude has a significant affect on your life. I have seen this to be true every day of my illness. When I respond to my circumstance negatively, it affects not only how I perceive my reality but it also affects my reality. It’s not just emotional. Your attitude affects you physically as well.

My body responds to how I think. The pain in my body grows stronger the more negative or stressed I get. It is actually quite amazing how quickly my body reacts. How we respond is a choice. I am definitely not always successful, but I am learning to stop myself and check my attitude.

Interacting With Pain is Difficult

It is difficult to know how to interact with people’s pain. What do you say? What should you not say? It can be uncomfortable. From my experience, I just desire people to make themselves known. A call, letter, text, or any form of communication from someone letting me know they missed me, were praying for me or thinking of me goes a long way. When people make themselves known or available, it makes it easier to share the pain with them.

Through this season of my life, I am also learning how to interact with my own pain. I have had a lot of time to think and reflect in the last couple of years. There has been past hurt and pain that I had not fully addressed and worked through. Holding onto pain only makes life more difficult. It is hard but healing requires interacting with pain.

 

 

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Simplicity

From Chaos to Peace

“Owning less is better than organizing more.”

-Joshua Becker

This quote by Joshua Becker, from Becoming Minimalist, really got me. I am always trying to think of ways to be more organized! My home feels to be in a state of chaos often. Maybe part of the reason I am overwhelmed is because with a chronic illness you only have so much energy. I don’t want to waste what little I have cleaning up stuff!

For me, the answer is not more organization, but owning less. So much of it are things I rarely, if ever, use. I usually wear the same articles of clothing each week, so why do need the rest?

Just recently, I took every single article of clothing out and physically touched each thing. I was able to fill 3 garbage bags full of clothes and organized nicely the things that remained. It felt so good and it really seemed like I had gotten rid of a lot. Now, weeks later, I am still overwhelmed with all that I have in my closet! Now what do I do?

I will keep trying to simplify.

It will be a process. This will not happen overnight. Some things will be easy to purge out, while going through momentos or books will be very difficult.

I took a couple evenings this past week and went through pictures. It was fun to journey down memory lane but difficult to actually throw pictures away. These are pictures that came before digitally uploading everything. The reality that after I throw them away, they are gone for good weighed on my mind. I pushed through and I got my collection down to one small shoe box!

For me, this is a journey of striving to live a life of simplicity. A journey of contentment. I have really struggled to be content with where I am at in life and with what I have. This discontentment will not be solved just with simplifying to just what I need physically, but by doing so I pray it will help lead me to a life of contentment in every area of my life. Decluttering and owning less is not just an outward process but an inward one as well.

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Faith, Lyme Disease

A New Dawn

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For the first time in a long time, I feel joy coming from within. The past few years have been some of the most difficult in my life and it has been a constant struggle to choose joy, no matter the circumstances. God has been so gracious and has given me such joy even while still in the midst of fighting this disease.

This joy is in part due to the progress God has given me in my health journey, but it is also because of the transformation within. I chose to change my blog because I have changed so much since I started over 2 years ago with Journey of Choosing Joy.

Why did I choose With The Dawn?

With the dawn…there is a new beginning. Every day we wake up with a fresh start. From the moment our eyes open, we make a choice as to how we are going to approach the day. We cannot control what the day brings but we do have control over how react.

With the dawn…give thanks to God. Every day that God grants us on this earth is a gift. Due to my illness, I have come to appreciate each day more. Even the normal, mundane parts of life are beautiful. I used to take these normal things for granted. Now I leave the grocery store with thanksgiving!

With the dawn…God is calling to us. I encourage you to seek to know God more every day. It is through daily surrender and intimate pursuit that we come to know the heart of God. Only through Jesus can you truly find life.

 

 

 

 

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Simplicity

Purposeful Decrease 3.16.16

Over the past few years, it has felt like I have been losing large pieces of myself. Watching as my passions and dreams faded away with my health. As my strength and health is slowly (very slowly) returning, I am coming to see the new passions and dreams the Lord has given me through this season. My perspective on life has forever been altered. 

I have come to love simplicity. Through several moves in 3 years, it forced me to minimize our possessions. Only what fit in our cars made the cut, the rest had to go! It’s amazing how quickly things can accumulate back up though! Then as my strength was taken away and rarely made it out of the house, I found myself overwhelmed and annoyed with how much I owned. So much stuff. I am now determined to live the minimalist lifestyle. Decreasing my possessions so I can increase my life. Less is more.

Everything in my life correlates with my faith. So, as I have been thinking about minimalism, I wondered what this looked like spiritually. God then brought an opportunity to go through a book with two women from my church. A book that walks through Lent in a way that is not commonly done. It is “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chole. God is so good! Goes right along with what God had laid on my heart. John 3:30 says, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” 

In the coming weeks, I will be purposely implementing a life of decrease. Both in the physical sense, as well as, spiritually. I want to delve deeper into both and will share with you all as well. If you are interested in living a life of decrease, I would love someone to walk this journey with me. 

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