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I stood with a glazed look over my face as I saw multiple rows with packages of seeds that all promise to one day be an actual vegetable if I simply planted them. In theory this should be a “no-brainer.” Pick the vegetables I want, get the dirt, a pot to plant them in and wallah! Except it’s not that easy. I’ve never had a plant, I don’t even know how often to water them let alone which type of tomato seed would grow best. Oh by the way, did I mention that I don’t know if this is even the right season for the seeds I’m planting? 

During the month of March I wanted to focus on gardening for “green month” of my Searching for Simplicity fast inspired by Jen Hatmaker‘s book 7. I’ve made many changes towards a greener lifestyle but gardening had never been something I had ever attempted. That made deciding what to do for the “green month” pretty easy, gardening it would be! With that I picked seven things to plant:

  • Tomatoes
  • Green onions
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Sweet peppers
The first sprouts of my garden

The first sprouts of my garden

I will be honest, when I started I couldn’t tell you how often to water my garden and I still don’t! I pretty much just gave it a good look and if it seemed like the soil was damp I figured no need to water. Couldn’t even begin to tell you if this is accurate!

Patience. Oh how gardening requires this attribute! I had a little hunch that God’s message during this fast was going to be related to patience. I mean gardens don’t bloom over night! I even found myself asking “how long does it even take for seeds to start sprouting?” Day after day I would go outside, water my dirt and come back in. Nothing was happening and I kept telling myself that I was sure this would be a lesson in patience. And guess what… it was a lesson in what patience will bring! The other day I went outside to yet again water my dirt but instead I found sprouts! That’s right people, seeds actually grow! I got super excited, ran inside to tell Chase and to grab my phone to start taking pictures. I mean seriously, my vegetables had started to sprout, Facebook needed to know about this! It was my first attempt at gardening and I actually succeeded!

Confession: I can’t tell you what it is that sprouted because I can’t remember the order of where I planted everything. Whoops! I’m pretty sure it’s one of the herbs but I guess I will just have to wait and find out.

I have always been aware of the importance of patience. And in most situations I was always aware of the joy you felt after the wait was over. But it’s easy to forget and to find yourself back in that state of impatience when you are waiting.

How easy it was to plant these seeds and in a matter of a few short weeks I was reminded of what comes as a result of patience!

 

The Artist Within

March 21, 2013 — Leave a comment
artist

An artist in all of us

I am not an artist. 

I hate when people say this!

Yes, I have said this statement many times.

Why do we feel like art is strictly sketching, painting and sculpting? If that is the case then yes, I am not an artist. My abilities are limited to bubble letters, flowers and hearts. In this scenario I have not one artistic bone in my body.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” 

Pablo Picasso

Think about it. Every child gives the world’s largest grin as they proudly show off their scribbles. Isn’t this a masterpiece? Yes! I firmly believe that it is. I don’t believe that it’s the actual drawing that makes it “art” but simply the imagination that it took to create it. That my friends is what I believe is the root behind being an artist. You don’t have to draw amazing portraits or paint like a pro to have the imagination to create something spectacular! It merely needs to be thought up and put into being.

Think outside the box. Making a garden, baking, making up bedtime stories, picking out your clothes for the day, creating music, poetry, scrapbooks, decorating cakes, cutting hair and even blogging is coming from someone’s imagination. So is it art? Yes! It most definitely is! I am tired of using the phrase I am not an artist! I am going to raise my children to never believe in that statement. Children probably do not remain artist merely because of believing this terrible phrase so many of us have uttered, Building a castle from legos- art. Creating an intricate train track- art. Building a fort- art. Whatever you can think, you can create and that makes an artist! Let’s stop believing in the lie and start creating! I did, just now with this post!

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.” 

Albert Einstein

 

The following post features my amazing sister-in-law Alyssa and her journey through Lyme Disease. Lupus and Lyme can often be mistaken for one another. Although very different diseases, they can have some similar symptoms. We can understand each other in a way that no one else does. She is new to the blogging world and I know that you will truly enjoy her writing and feel inspired just as I do. Show some love! 

For me, the most shocking part of living with Lyme disease stems from how slowly and yet how quickly the disease progressed. My immune system was never the strongest growing lyme-lightup, and I began having some persistent gastrointestinal digestive issues in 2009.  I also recall some weird times when I had lower abdominal or back pain and had to have my ovaries, bladder and kidneys tested, but results never revealed a cause.  The strange symptoms would resurface and then disappear again.  The most frustrating thing was never finding any answers.  I had my gall bladder removed in 2010, which provided no relief.  I struggled with periods of remission and illness for about four years.  I grew accustomed to the symptoms and just assumed that everyone experienced the weird things that popped up every now and then, and the rest of the persistent digestive issues were simply normal for me.  At times, the illness interfered with my classes or my plans, but I was able to push through.

 

I had become accustomed to my illness, but on the other hand, when the Lyme really progressed it was like a whirlwind.  This past summer I began a quick downhill tumble, picking up more and more unexplainable symptoms and growing weaker and weaker as the months flew by.  It started with fatigue and an intense pain near my left rib cage.  Then I couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes without my legs turning purple with bright red splotches and an itching sensation so strong that I have to sit down and elevate them.  I started wearing sunglasses indoors because the light shining through windows causes a severe headache behind my eyes.  Sometimes I even have to wear them at night when I’m in the car because the headlights of oncoming traffic have the same effect.  My hands and feet randomly go numb, tingle or burn.  I have chronic sore throat and swollen glands, discolored fingers and brain fog.  Some days I have a hard time remembering anything.  I run a constant low-grade fever and experience hot and cold flashes and night sweats.  All the weird symptoms piled up, but the fatigue, joint and muscle pain are worst of all.  My health was spiraling out of control, and I still wasn’t finding any answers.  By the age of 22, I had seen 10 doctors, several unconventional health consultants, had two colonoscopies, two endoscopies, a cystoscopy, a surgery, multiple hospitalizations and countless ultrasounds, CT scans and blood tests.  I tried changing my diet, eliminating stress, taking health supplements and medications to no avail.

 

My mom’s cousin who has Lyme heard about my health from my grandparents and warned them that it sounded like the disease that had torn apart his own life.  I remembered two tiny itchy bug bites with black centers from a fishing trip in June, and that realization pointed us in the right direction.  Lyme disease comes from contact with an infected tick, and it’s likely those bites I remembered could have been from ticks.  I’ve also been bitten by ticks numerous times growing up.  There is no way of knowing exactly when I contracted the disease as it can lay dormant for years until a trigger causes it to suddenly progress.  I began seeing a nurse practitioner in Edmond because there are NO Lyme doctors in the entire state of Oklahoma.  Skeptics in the medical world refuse to acknowledge the existence of chronic Lyme disease because the blood tests for the disease can show false negatives and aren’t the most reliable.  Therefore, the disease is often diagnosed clinically based only on symptoms.  Lyme, like several other autoimmune diseases such as Lupus and Fibromyalgia, disguises itself in a myriad of symptoms that often reflect other illnesses.  It’s easy to misdiagnose invisible illnesses that cannot be confirmed on paper.  Therefore, many traditional physicians say that chronic Lyme disease does not exist.  They claim that Lyme disease is treated with 10 days of antibiotics.  Yet, so many patients deal with two to three years of severe illness and treatment, and then experience relapse years later and have to begin treatment all over again.  Not only do patients fight the disease, they also fight the belligerent medical community that refuses to acknowledge our suffering.  The longer a person with Lyme disease goes untreated, the more severe the disease becomes affecting the brain, heart and other crucial organs.

 

More doctors in northeastern states recognize and treat Lyme, as the disease originated in Lyme, Connecticut.  Here in the central U.S., it’s a different story.  I happened to get online one day and look up “Lyme walk” or “walk for Lyme” because I was inspired by my sister-in-law’s involvement in the local walk for Lupus.  I found one hit for a Lyme walk, and it was held years ago in the northeast.  The awareness in our area barely exists.  I drive six hours every four months to see a specialist in Columbia, MO.  A few friends of mine see specialists in Nevada or Texas because the number of cooperative physicians in this part of the country is limited.  Thousands of people suffer from chronic Lyme disease as I am.  I can’t speak for them, but I can certainly speak for myself and say that this disease is real and must be acknowledged.

 

After two extremely high-dollar Lyme blood tests, and visits to Linda Lea the nurse practitioner in Oklahoma (who paid out of pocket to travel, train under other Lyme physicians and learn more about the disease) and my specialist Dr. Crist in Missouri, I got my positive diagnosis in December.  Now my disease has progressed so that I have been forced to drop out of school, one semester away from graduating, quit my job and most social activities.  I’ve been on a regimen of rotating strong antibiotics since November.  I also follow a gluten-free, sugar-free diet and take a lot of natural supplements to help my body fight.  No treatment works the same for every patient, and therefore I’m trying anything and everything to get over this illness.  My sweet husband and I got married in May, and wow, this is not what I expected for my first year of marriage.  Everyday is a struggle, but I have certainly gained new perspective from my illness and learned that though I have no choice in the matter, right now I am going to live a purposeful life at a snail’s pace.  I have the option to use this time to smell the roses and the blessings God has given me and to realize the beauty in every accomplishment I make – even if my day’s sole accomplishment was getting out of bed, taking a shower, talking to a friend or being pushed through the park in a wheelchair.

 

 

I Am Not Lupus

February 25, 2013 — Leave a comment

In a little over a month it will be a year since I was diagnosed. To receive a diagnosis that changes everything is tough. You never know how you will take that kind of news until you are faced with it. It can be so easy to sink into depression, searching for the answers to questions that run a continual loop in your thoughts… why me? Why am I sick? What will the future hold? It’s also difficult to process because not everyone will understand what you are going through, because you might not look sick. But we can not stay in this place! When we stay there it can be a long and bumpy road ahead. I believe that my God is with me each and every day. He is there on good days and my horribly flared up days. I have no doubt that my going through this diagnosis and now living with Lupus is teaching me things I would not have learned otherwise.

Snow Day

There is so much more to me than just my Lupus.

But, we all have bad days and sometimes we just need a little reminder… some inspiration to keep us going. The truth is I don’t want this blog to be a constant story about the woes of my disease. Sure there will be posts about some rough flare ups, that’s just part of it. The point is I have Lupus but, I am not Lupus. There is so much more to me than that. I am a wife to the most amazing man who I am blessed to say was my high school sweetheart. I am a mom to an adorable little boy. I am a writer. I get so passionate about writing my thoughts, creating make believe in my novel I am writing, and sharing and expressing myself as a writer. I look at my disease as only giving me more perspective, not just my sole purpose of writing. Lupus is something that affects me every day. Even when I am feeling good I still have things that just come with having a disease to deal with that no one else has to worry about. It will always be a part of who I am. But it doesn’t have to be my identity. I don’t have to be strictly Lupus.

After several months of processing through my diagnosis I decided to take this blog in a different direction. I had been writing this blog for a while but felt it was time to for a change. For me Raising Inspiration is about my life, my journey and my disease. I want to spread a little awareness and some inspiration. My hope is that someone who is having a bad flare up will stumble across here and see that tomorrow is a new day. Perhaps a little laughter is what they find and it brightens their day, because sometimes laughter really is the best medicine. I don’t know why I got Lupus, I just did. And that’s okay. It’s part of who I am and now I have more to add to my story.

 

 

 

I used to have such an incredible memory. If you asked me what I wore last week, the meals I ate or what the conversation was about that we had last Tuesday, I could tell you every detail right down to the last vegetable on my plate. You think I am kidding? I had a steel trap for a brain! It was a gift really. I loved being able to be the one to give you the meaningless details of things or answer a question that no one else could remember. Then I heard this crazy story… that when you started having kids you start to get “the mommy brain.” What? I couldn’t help but laugh and think that it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard, mommy brain, that’s hilarious! I went on about my life. A little while later I had my son, still not considering this crazy story as a reality. Well I have a little secret for you… it’s for real! All you moms out there are probably laughing because you were waiting for that confession, if you aren’t laughing it’s because you haven’t experienced it yet!

Here’s the thing, I don’t think that it is a 24-hour kind of deal. It’s more like this…we have so much on our minds as we worry about everyone else in the family that we start to forget where our sunglasses are… and then magically they turn up PB&Jon top of our head. I  look at it as the tiny details are blurred in the picture and eventually they come into focus, but it may take a while. My most recent encounter with this was just the other day. I was having a lovely lunch with my friend from work. This particular day I had packed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and used my sons spider-man sandwich container (that’s right spider-man). We finished our lunch and went on about our day. That is until about 11:00 pm that night when my eyes popped open and I realized that I had thrown away the spider-man container! Agh! Let me tell you I was so frustrated with myself! It took me forever to go back to sleep. The next morning I told my friend what happened and so we went pilfering through the trash can with kitchen tongs (I know it’s kinda gross, but it was a tiny trash can so we had to see if it was there!). And guess what… there it was!

Don’t worry it has been washed…several times!

I honestly have to say that this was something I never expected as a mom. I figured my steel trap would be with me forever. I guess that I was wrong about that, but I am okay with it because the blessing of my son is well worth it! There is something to say about moms, we are constantly serving our families, and sometimes we just don’t think about the small details of a sandwich container. The good thing is we can laugh about these little moments!

How is your mommy brain treating you today?

 

This article I wrote for a guest blog on EpicParent.tv. Head on over and check them out! 

Photo Credit: Shawn Carpenter