The Invisible Elephant

March 8, 2016

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When you look at someone with an invisible illness you never really see what is actually going on. Sure they may look fine, normal even. But, the fight is happening on the inside and there is no way of knowing what is happening. As for me, my butterfly rash that shows up from time to time is one of the only visible signs of my disease, that and probably the fatigue you see on my face on occasion, but that’s it.

My latest battle with Lupus is struggling to breath on a daily basis. Since my diagnosis in 2012 I have always had some shortness of breath and chest pain. Typically it would come and go, but last summer it just never went away. It is a constant and daily struggle. What do I mean struggle breathing? Basically it feels like someone is squeezing and restricting my lungs while I try and breath, or like a giant elephant is firmly planted on my chest, all day, everyday. Yeah, it’s not fun. Sometimes you might catch me taking several shallow breaths trying to actually catch my breath.

I have gone through rigorous tests to ensure that I did not have asthma or allergies causing this issue. My results were unfortunately not very satisfying. My lungs are functioning properly- no asthma, no allergies, nothing… simply Lupus. But, with Lupus it is never that simple, this disease can attack any organ in your body, and my lucky organ is my lungs, and with any treatment option it may help or it may worsen the condition all together.

To look at a variety of treatment options and know that it’s kind of a coin toss on improving can be a little overwhelming! I took several weeks to pray and research my options. Honestly, I decided that it’s okay if my lungs were never fully healed (in this life) as long as I could find some relief! I felt a peace about my decision to add essential oils to my existing treatment plan. I’ve known people who have used essential oils for a number of things, and I will be 100% honest, I was skeptical…sorry! But, I decided I had no reason not to try it and I felt God nudging me in that direction so I felt like I should listen. I’ve been using 2 oils (Raven for breathing and Immupower for Lupus) daily for about a month now and felt like I have seem an improvement. I noticed the most drastic difference when I went two days without Raven and noticed the increased difficulty in breathing. I know it may not work for everyone, but for me I was so happy to find the relief that I have so desperately wanted for such a long time. I’m so glad that I was obedient and listened to the direction that God was directing me.

It would be so easy to dwell on the what if’s or worry. I decided from the beginning of my diagnosis that my life, my health and path are in God’s hands. He can use every struggle and every invisible pain for the betterment of His Kingdom. I firmly believe that my illness will never be wasted, my life will not be wasted. He has a perfect plan for my life and Lupus holds no bounds to what my God can do!

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26 

 

 

Merry Christmas – 2015

December 19, 2015

 

Layman Family Christmas Card 2015 from Chase Layman on Vimeo.

A Spoonful of Grace

November 21, 2015

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There are some weeks where I feel like I am just winning at life! I’m sure my fellow moms out there know what I am talking about. I manage to get all the laundry folded and put away, I’ve cleaned the entire house, cooked and cleaned up the kitchen daily, taken care of any miscellaneous errands/chores along with homeschooling and spending quality time with my boys and husband. When I have weeks like this I seriously do feel like I am on roll, finally in a good groove and being a great mom and wife.

Then there are the weeks where the laundry is piled up. Sometimes it’s that I can’t get to the laundry so it’s waiting to get washed, or (like right now) it’s clean and in a pile on the couch. If I’m really lucky then it’s clean and folded sitting on the piano in the living room waiting to be put away. Clutter is everywhere, toys everywhere, I need to clean, honestly the kitchen is driving me crazy! Am I the only person whose kitchen seems to be the catch-all for everything? It’s like we come in the from garage and that’s as far as everything goes, right to the kitchen counter. Ugh! And the dishes, OH the dishes! Do they ever end? I don’t know what I would do without that dishwasher!?! But I just need to find five minutes in my day to load that said dishwasher.

When I come off of a week like this I feel like I am definitely not winning, let alone even doing a half decent job at being a wife and mom. I mean how can I have one week where everything goes so smoothly and I get everything done on my lists along with plenty of fun things for the kids and I to do, just to have the following week be the exact opposite of that. It’s not even like I did anything differently, yet somehow there wasn’t enough time in the day to do everything. I’m not a mathematician, but I’m pretty sure that I have the exact same amount of hours in every day. It just doesn’t add up to me that one week I’m winning the race and the next week I’m in the back of the race sprinting trying to keep up.

I just finished reading the new Jen Hatmaker book, For the Love. (If you haven’t read it, you should stop what you are doing and order it on Amazon because it is wonderful!) This book was perfect, I felt like she was literally talking right to me. It’s all about grace, and the most important part I took away from it is giving yourself grace. We can NOT do it ALL! I repeat we can not do it all! And guess what… that’s OKAY! What? It’s okay that I can’t do it all and that I might need some help? Yes, we are only human. Some weeks I might have less energy than other weeks due to my lupus, so the laundry might just have to wait until the next day, and guess what… it’s okay! Also, it’s okay to say no and put your time and energy where its most important. Do the dishes later that night and go play a game with your kids or read a book together. Give yourself permission to embrace this time and not get bogged down by the chores and chaos of the day. Ask for help when you are having a day or week where you feel overwhelmed. I don’t know why I can have such an easy and productive week when the next week makes me feel like a failure. The only explanation I have is that we are human, not super heroes and some times that’s just the way life goes. Give yourself some grace because your kids and your husband love you, they aren’t worried about the dishes in the sink. It’s all about grace, give yourself some. It’s okay!

Just As We Are

September 21, 2015

IMG_4651I’m not sure why, but after you become a parent it opens the doors to complete strangers asking the most personal of questions. Before having kids when I would see someone with a baby the most I would comment was saying “Oh, how precious. How old?” I feel like that is a perfectly fine statement and question to ask. But, then there are the questions and/or statements that are much more personal and sometimes rude or inappropriate. The most frequent statement I get is this, “Ahh, two boys. Are you going to keep going for a girl?” And there it was. The assumption that our family is not complete without a boy AND a girl. Here’s the thing, we do want more children, and if we are blessed to have a little girl then that is amazing and we will be so thankful. However, if we have four children and they are all boys we will be just as thankful and feel equally blessed to be raising up men of God. Why is it a societal norm to have a certain number of kids and expecting that you must have a certain ratio of genders?

I can tell you that I absolutely ADORE being a mom of boys. There is something about the sweetness of a mommy and son relationship. My eldest is so kind, tender hearted, he loves helping me and he’s very intuitive. With my Lupus he can tell when I’m not feeling well, sometimes he will ask “are you okay mom?” when he notices that I’m not my usual self. When I tell him I’m not feeling well the first thing he does is pray for mommy to feel better. Seriously, could my heart melt anymore? My youngest is almost a year old and he is the biggest momma’s boy, and I wouldn’t change it for anything! He’s super cuddly and also stubborn, he will be our bruiser who attempts any and all things. I’m also about 100% sure that he will be the child who I miss his first steps because he will intentionally do it when my back is turned, he’s such an adorable little stinker!

Parenting is no small feat. But parenting boys has challenges that are far different from parenting girls. Here’s the thing, boys are crazy, messy, loud, high energy, into everything, curious, and sometimes stinky (oh the teen years, please someone send me all the scented candles! Ha!). BUT, they are also lego building, super hero fighting, car and sports loving, goofy, funny, creative, loving, kind hearted, and sweetest little blessings ever! I look at the opportunity to raise my two boys up to be honorable, generous, compassionate, unique, creative and men of God as the biggest journey and most important task given to me! For all the families that have a daughter, I want to raise my boys up to be the men of chivalry that will love, respect and honor the women in their lives.

So the answer to the question that strangers ask me is simply this: Yes, I want more children. Do I want a girl? The biggest thing is that I don’t ever want my boys to feel like we were disappointed or wanted something else. Because I couldn’t imagine life without the two amazing blessings we already have in our boys! I want whatever blessings God will give us! Our family is complete and whole because ever child is a perfect gift from God!

Purple With A Purpose

May 11, 2015

May 15th is Lupus Awareness Day, a day to celebrate life and take a stand against the wolf. Lupus is one of the cruelest, most mysterious diseases on earth—an unpredictable and misunderstood autoimmune disease that ravages different parts of the body. Research shows lupus is more pervasive and more severe than people think, and has an impact that the public doesn’t realize.

The Lupus Foundation of America started a fun way to show your support and raise awareness by putting on purple and sharing your lupus story. Their tumblr shows everyone from Panera Bread employees to Roscoe the dog to a Teletubby wearing purple in support of those living with lupus. It’s a way to make a serious disease less daunting and encourage people to speak out about the invisible disease. Here are a couple fun ways to wear purple with a purpose:

  1. Make it a family affair by dressing the kids in purple and having a photo shoot.
  1. Find a person on the street that is also wearing purple. Ask them if they’re doing it for Lupus Awareness and then snap a picture with them.
  1. Slip into your favorite purple outfit and set the stage for a selfie shoot.
  1. Treat yourself to a lavender mani/pedi.
  1. If you’re feeling brave, let the kids paint your face purple…and then their own.

 

If you don’t have anything purple to wear, you might be able to find something on Goodshop.com. They have donated thousands of dollars to lupus research because people like you have shopped through their website at stores like, Neiman Marcus, Kohl’s, and Lands’ Endt. Signup and select one of their 24 lupus research foundations, like The Lupus Foundation of America or The Alliance for Lupus Research and they’ll donate up to 20% of any purchase you make online to help find a cure for lupus.

Thank you to guest blogger Valerie Greene for writing this post! Valerie Greene is passionate about spreading awareness about Lupus because it is a cause close to her heart. She has devoted her life to fundraising for nonprofits to help make an impact on the world. Purple is also her favorite color.