Wednesday, January 30, 2013

UNDERSTANDING MY CHRONIC PAIN

One of my goals for this blog has been to be more open, more vulnerable, more personal. I want you guys to know the real me. To understand me. Well, today's post is definitely going to be that. I'll be sharing the hardest thing I have to deal with in my life. My biggest daily struggle. Note: this may seem like a ranting post, but keep reading... it is really self-awareness post. 

(And since I don't have a photo to go with this post, and I have a strange need to always have a photo with each post, you get a photo of me today! Haha!)


I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Celiac disease. Meniere's disease. Multiple hormonal disorders. Adrenal fatigue. Chronic fatigue. Chronic pain. And more. I can't remember them all. They are just labels. I don't take medicine, so these labels don't do any good for me. Except to justify my symptoms to others, I guess.

I take SUCH good care of myself that it's ridiculous. I don't eat gluten, corn, soy, dairy, processed sugars, shellfish, pork, poultry, or meat. On average, I eat fresh, wild-caught fish maybe once a month.  I have weened myself off of needing tons of salt or other spices. I use mainly fresh herbs to strengthen the flavor of a dish. 50% or more of my diet consists of RAW fruits and veggies, and the past month I have been eating ONLY raw fruits and veggies.

I exercise. Even though it hurts. And I don't mean "hurts" as in the good pain one would normally get during a work out, like a good burn. Bad pain. A why-am-I-doing-this-to-myself sort of pain. But I do it anyway.

I go to the chiropractor. A good one. I do physical therapy. I stretch. I take whole-food vitamins and minerals. I don't let anything synthetic enter my body. I use flouride-free toothpaste and filter my water for the same reason. I drink a lot of water. I drink loose-leaf organic tea. I sleep 9 hours a night. I detox.

I pray. I worship. I love my Lord. Jesus is always good to me.

Do you want to know what it feels like to be me on a daily basis? Do you know the feeling of being sore and achy the day after your first work-out in a long time? That's how my muscles feel daily. Do you know the feeling of being stiff all over after sitting in the same position for too long? That's how my bones feel daily. Do you know the feeling of needing to crack your back or your knuckles because they are hurting? That's how my joints feel daily. Do you know the feeling of throbbing knees and/or ankles after a long run? That's how my knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, and wrists feel daily. Do you know the groggy feeling of waking up in the morning after getting maybe one hour of sleep or a night of drinking or partying? That's how my body/brain feels daily, even though I don't drink or party, AND I get enough sleep. 

Really, I could go on. Headaches, dizziness, no energy, no motivation, stress, anxiety, stiffness, brain fog. More.

So what else can I do? I do everything I can to be healthy. And it all seems meaningless! My pain never goes away!! 

This is my life. I go through a vicious cycle of being hopeful and happy for most of my days despite my health problems, trusting the Lord that I have this pain for a reason. But then (once a month, seemingly...), I have my hour of lamenting, in which I cry to the Lord and to my husband, wondering why I'm busting my butt if I've never even seen an inkling of positive results.

After my time of wailing, I come to terms with reality again. And I feel better! For many reasons. I'll explain why:

I don't think I have a set "diagnosis" that can be healed by worldly things. I believe the Lord has given me my health problems. To you, that might sound crazy. But I have learned so many things because of my pain.

As you can probably tell from everything I listed above, I am a control freak and a perfectionist. God knows this. And He can't work His miracles when I keep getting in the way. He is teaching me to scoot over and let Him be my focus. I mean, I have had to quit jobs because of my health! What an opportunity to focus on Him and to rely on Him! I am weak. He is so strong. And He walks with me through everything.

I have taught others everything I know about health. And these people have gotten better because of what they have learned from me, because of what God has allowed me to learn throughout all these years. If I had only been "sick" for a year, think about how much less I would have known! God is using my pain to help others with their pain.

God has given me the gift of compassion. I understand pain. (I understand pain like crazy!!) Before I got all of these health problems (8 or so years ago), I did not sympathize with those who hurt physically. I have quite a high pain tolerance, so I'd just always think, "Get over it and stop complaining! Nothing's THAT bad!" I was blind! But God has opened my eyes. Jesus felt ultimate pain, and He knows what I'm going through. He has compassion for me; now I have compassion for others.

Also, God has given me this pain and the rest of my seemingly unfixable health problems to heighten my trust in Him. God gives and takes away. HE is the ultimate healer. I could try every remedy on the planet, and He still determines my condition. I now know, and have peace in the fact that I may never be healed, but only He has the power to heal me.

Lastly, I have this pain so I can long harder and deeper to be with Him one day, living with Jesus in Heaven! For in His new world, pain will be no more. And I am SO excited for that day! 

Though I know I may never be healed, I still pray for it daily. I still have hope in the fact that God CAN heal me. And, yes, I still do everything humanly possible to keep my health in check. 

I wouldn't wish this pain or my other conditions on anyone. But I do wish that everyone had the understanding that I do now when it comes to health. Especially health and my Jesus.

Your body is a temple, and you need to take care of it, but don't let health become an idol in your life. Rely on the Lord more than anything else. I'm not promising He'll heal you, but you'll gain a peace that is so magnificent that you'll end up longing for it rather than a pain-free body.

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overcome you. When you walk through fire, you'll not be burned, and the flame will not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." - Isaiah 43:1b-3a

In closing, I have decided to place more health-related posts on my blog. Exciting, huh? So, is there anything you have a question about? Do you want to know more about something health-related? Or maybe more about what I do for my own health? Ask me!! 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

OUR BEACH | PUERTO RICO

Not really our beach. Just the one we got to spend every day on while we were there. (If you're new, a while ago I put up tons of posts on my family's trip to Puerto Rico. Check 'em all out here.)

These photos were taken on the last day we were all there together (my parents stayed one more night). I hadn't taken any photos of the beach yet, besides our evening arrival, so I took an hour just to walk down the beach and snap a few.

It was raining on and off that day. Annoying because of me getting scared about my camera, but I got over it. I love rain on the beach. And seeing a storm far off over the ocean.

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

I love the above photo. These colors just belong together. :)

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

After walking a short while down, the beach gets a little messier. But I love it. This driftwood is what makes a real beach, and defines true nature. This beach is probably only a quarter-mile down from the hotel we stayed at, yet it is totally different than the beach we experienced at the hotel.

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

Just a few steps more, and we came to the mouth of this river! It was so beautiful. If I had had more time (and didn't have my camera with me), I would have waded a bit down the river just to experience it.

I took a few steps in at one point to try to go across, but wimped out for the sake of my camera. I'm a klutz when I have something valuable in my hands, but extremely agile when I don't have to worry about anything. Hah!

Photobucket

This water may not seem clear to you, but I assure you, it is. The brown you see is the color of the sand. And I love that you can see the billows of sand clouds under the water as the current churns it about.

Photobucket

This is my favorite river photo. The river headed out to sea. So pretty.

Photobucket

This is the last of my Puerto Rico posts for now. We did have a family portrait session while there, and when I get my hands on those photos, I would love to share them.

post signature

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

BLOG DESIGN | THE BIG WHITE FARMHOUSE

Hey everyone!

I'm so excited to show you some of my recent blog design work!

Ashley from The Big White Farmhouse contacted me to redesign her blog. She wanted a very simple, intentional plan, with the design being straight to the point, but still visually attractive. The colors she wanted were black, white, and dusty blue. I love the simplicity of it all, especially the color palate.
So go check out The Big White Farmhouse and all of the rest of the elements of the design that you can't see here! There's lots more!

If you're in the market for a new blog design, or even for small elements of a blog, check out my design page. I'm also available for hire for a number of other things: cards, invitations, ads, online shop banners, a logo, etc. Check out the design page for some examples of my work!

post signature

Monday, January 7, 2013

MY FAMILY (THE IN-LAWS)

There was one point in time on my blog that I vowed to be more personal.

But it's hard for me. I don't really know why. It's not that I'm afraid to let all of you know more about me. Maybe in the back of my mind, I don't think I'm interesting enough to have a post just about me or something personal. And I guess that's why you only see design posts, recipes, trips, and photography on my blog.

But I AM interesting, darn it!!

So I'll be on a journey this year to open up. To be vulnerable. To let you (and others in my life, even loved ones) know more about me than what they see on the surface. More than just the good things.

And here is where I start. This is my family, on Mark's side. The in-laws, if you will, but I don't like that word very much. They mean much more to me than that.

This was back during Labor Day weekend. We aren't often all able to be together at one time. Possibly because there are so many of us. So when we realized that we were actually all TOGETHER, we had to get a photo. 


Don't they look awesome?! Well, they are. I'll tell you a little about them.

From left to right:
  • That's Matt, Mark's older bro. He's the most giving person I know.
  • Then there's Jana, Matt's wife. She has the best laugh and she never meets a stranger.
  • We have Jill next, Mark's older sister. She's an actual rocket scientist. For real. She is also SO witty and the most humble person I know.
  • Next is Mark's dad, Rick. He has a story for everything. And it's a GREAT story. He is also very knowledgeable.
  • Then Mary, Mark's mom. She is such an inviting person. She'll make room in her life for anyone and make them feel like the most important person in the world.
  • Then we have Jonathan, Mark's younger brother, who happens to have cerebral palsy. Even though he's in a wheelchair, he's the most joyful person ever.
  • Next is Ezekiel, my nephew, Kim's baby. He is already SO talented, and makes the cutest faces.
  • Then we have Mark, (with the baby he commandeered). Mark is the best husband ever! :)
  • Next to him is Kim, Mark's oldest sister (and the rightful owner of that baby). She can put herself in anyone's shoes and is the least judgmental person I've ever met.
  • We go on to Sean, Kim's husband. He is very wise. I learn so much from him whenever I spend time with him. He's also hilarious.
  • Then there's me!! :)
  • Next to me is Andrew, Mark's younger brother. He has so much love in his heart, and he has never been afraid to be himself.
  • Last, we have Michael, Mark's youngest brother. He is good at pretty much everything he tries, but is also just a true, loyal person.


I could, of course, tell you more. How they are all amazing musicians, and how Christ is the center of each of their lives. How family-oriented they all are, and how much they have helped others. But these lists of accolades could be forever-long, and who would want to read that? :)

My family on my side got family portraits done while we were in Puerto Rico, and when I get my hands on some of them, I'll do the same type of post with my family.



So this is me opening up. Kinda. I guess I talked more about others than about myself. Hah! But they are a part of me, and I am so blessed to have them.

post signature

Saturday, January 5, 2013

ETSY BANNER DESIGN | THE CRAFTY MISSUS

Finally getting back into the swing of things after a crazy, but AWESOME, December.

January is totally our week to chill. For one, Mark only has a few weddings to DJ instead of the normal SEVEN (I don't know how he does it). Two, the busiest season for a portrait photog is over (but I had so much fun)! And three, we are in our OWN house for the first time in over a month it seems. And I'm ready to STAY in town. At least for a while. ;)

Before Christmas, I had the pleasure of working with another new Austinite, Casey, from The Crafty Missus. She hired me to design her Etsy banner, and I am quite pleased with it, if I do say so myself. :)

Photobucket

Do you like it? I lurve it. Check out Casey's shop, The Crafty Missus, to see the banner in action and to see what cool things she is selling. That girl is a bow-tie-makin, yarn-craft-weilding, photobooth-prop-creating fool, I tell ya. :)

And if YOU need a little something like this, or anything else like a new blog design, save-the-dates, or even just an ad made, check out what I can offer you over on my design services page!

post signature