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Have you ever read a book and when you were done you put it down and thought, wow, that totally just wrecked my life! Well that just happened to me! Recently my friend Michelle Clark wrote a post, One of those Christians, about her journey of reading and fasting through the book 7 by Jen Hatmaker. After hearing all that she learned from this book and how highly she talked about it I decided I should check it out. All that I have to say is WOW! I finished the book in a week and realized this was one of those life changing books! We all have our share of clutter, excess and stress. Boy does this book really make you take a look at these areas and realize that you can do something about it. I knew when I put the book down that there was no way I would be able to simply read this book and just walk away, l was inspired! I decided to take Jen’s book to heart and follow in her example. I am on a seven month journey to seek simplicity, growth and change. I call it Searching for Simplicity.

Jen’s book focused on seven areas of excess. She picked one area of focus a month and then fasted from seven things in that area. Her seven focuses were food, clothing, waste, media, possessions, spending and stress. So as of November 1st I started month one of the seven month-long fast. Which area did I pick to focus on first? Clothing. Why is it that I have a closet full of clothes and there are mornings where I will complain of nothing to wear? Why is it that I can pick out a shirt only to change saying that I wore it recently, assuming that people truly pay that much attention to my clothes. How often can I so easily walk by a shirt in a store and see that it is on sale for only $5 and think, oh, that’s a good price, and it’s cute! I can honestly say that sometimes I will walk away without buying and other times I find the deal just good enough to buy, as if I need anymore shirts. The sad thing is how many items of clothing I keep in my closet for the “just in case.” I’m sure you know what I am talking about, it’s that shirt that you wore only once or twice but maybe if you find the right pair of pants you’ll wear it again. Or, that pair of jeans that doesn’t really fit right anymore but you stash it away in case you find yourself able to wear them. The kicker are the shirts that I have and I know have been in my closest unworn for more than year, why am I still keeping these?! 

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My seven articles of clothing

Thus begins month one of seven. In doing this clothing fast this means that I can only pick seven articles of clothing to wear for the next four weeks, SEVEN! This was not easy! That means seven articles to wear for the next four weeks, whether I’m awake, asleep, out and about or at home… SEVEN, that’s it! I have picked my articles, and yes I have swapped and switched a couple of times until the final decision was made. So here it is people, my seven articles of clothing that you will see me wear time and time again this November:

  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of sweatpants
  • Green LifeChurch.tv Financial Operations t-shirt
  • Grey blouse
  • Orange t-shirt
  • Pink long sleeve shirt
  • Multi-color cardigan

Here is what I am not counting against my seven articles. Shoes, I have picked two pairs of shoes to wear during this month, a pair of Vans and a pair of winter boots. Also, undergarments are excluded from this number because that’s just an essential. The last and final item that I do not count is a coat. Jen did not wear a coat, however I am making this exception in regards to my Lupus. One of my struggles I have is my fingers turning white and numb when I am cold and the doctor told me it is important to keep my core warm to help with this issue. So, I tossed in a cardigan to wear for the chilly days but if it gets cold I will wear a coat while outside. I have approved this with the “council” which is my two friends who are like accountability partners during this journey, which Jen also had. I don’t think that a coat on a small occasion will keep me from growing, but also I will only be using the coat if I honestly need it.

So yes, you will be seeing me repeat my outfits on a pretty regular basis this month. And yes, I will probably be more aware of how often I wear a shirt than everybody else. But, I am excited to hear all that God has to teach me during these next seven months. Sometimes the greatest lessons happen during those moments when we are the most uncomfortable, and that is what I intend to do during my search for simplicity!

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“You are my strength, I watch for you; you, God, are my fortress,” Psalm 59:9 (NIV) 

This week I have been exhausted. No amount of going to bed early will help and coffee won’t do the trick. Sometimes this is just life with lupus. I have only known about my having this disease since May but the process of finding out what was going on with me began back in January. I started to notice that my fingers would turn bright white and go numb when I was cold. When I am saying white I mean stark white and it would take a solid 10 to 15 minutes before my fingers would turn back to normal. It was really alarming and I wasn’t sure what was wrong so I took a picture of them and posted it to Instagram and then I took that picture and showed it to my family doctor. At that point we began the process that lead me to my diagnosis. So many things that I have struggled with began to make sense as they were signs of my lupus yet I was unaware and by themselves they seemed harmless enough to not got to the doctor. But even then there were things that I had gone to the doctor for and it was missed, like several years back I went to the ER for chest pain and it was said that I had inflamed cartilage causing the pain but in fact it was my lupus. My symptoms were wide-spread at first so they were not being noticed and lupus is a disease that has times where it is active, flare ups, and times of remission so it wasn’t until this May that I learned what was truly going on with me.

No one wants to hear that they have a disease that they will have to deal with for the rest of their life. It stinks! But at the same time I can’t focus on that! I may not know the reason behind all this, but it is the road that has been set before me. During the long months of waiting I had no idea what was going to be determined and I had my moments of worry, but I truly believe that God gave me the strength to not focus on all the “what ifs” that were so easily there. I felt his presence during this entire process. He has a plan for us all, we may not understand that plan and guess what… that’s okay because it’s in His hands.

Every day looks different. There are good days and bad. And sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s okay to have a bad day.

Every flare up looks different.

Today, and this week I have struggled with fatigue, but tomorrow is a new day.

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“God walks with us. He scoops us up in His arms or simply sits with us in silent strength until we cannot avoid the awesome recognition that yes, even now, He is there.” Gloria Gaither

Isn’t it funny how your child is sick, has certain symptoms but when you take them to the doctor they act fine! Friday we took Eli to the doctor. He had some congestion, a cough and battled a low fever on and off. What happens when we take him in? He is all smiles and doesn’t cough once… until we are putting him in his car seat! Why didn’t he just do one cough like that in the office? Well, needless to say he went back to the doctor today. As the weekend went on the cough has progressed and so has the snots. This time he actually coughed in the office…. wow! After two appointments, one where they finally got to hear the yucky cough we did not get any different of a diagnosis. He just caught a small virus and should be on the tail end of it and thankfully she said that all of his breathing looks and sounds good. Yay! Glad to hear that my little boy should be feeling better soon.

I don’t know about how things are around your place when one of your little ones isn’t feeling good. For us it has been a lot of naps, cuddling up on the couch and taking it easy. There is no question if Eli isn’t feeling well when he curls up on our laps and sits sucking his thumb content. Normally he is on the move, constantly playing, so that was for sure not his normal and we knew he wasn’t feeling himself. Both Chase and I agree though, we will take the cuddles when we can get them. Yesterday evening Eli cuddled up and took a nap in Chase’s arms. Simply precious! It really did melt my heart to look over and see father and son cuddling up. Sometimes when kiddos don’t feel so good all they want is mommy or daddy to hold them, it makes everything all better again. The same goes for God. Things are always better when He holds us. Doesn’t necessarily mean circumstances change, just like a baby who is sick isn’t automatically well just by being in a parents arms. Things don’t have to be magically fixed for us to just feel better, comforted. Living life in God’s hands is always better than living on our own!