Identity Crisis

A core need in human beings is to know and to be known

My children are of an age where they hear and attempt to understand the adult conversations around them. Merge that with a doozie of a year. They have overheard more conversations my husband and I share with each other and actually taken in more than we expected or realized. This has become obvious when they express their viewpoints based off of their elementary interpretations of overheard conversations. This has been enlightening.

A core need in human beings is to know and to be known. Love. Acceptance. One way our brains and emotions can process this need is by seeking out those with whom our inner self feels safe and comfortable with. But how do we determine who that is? This is where the social “groups” and stereotypes come into play. Those who frequent the same locations and events we do, those who speak like us, look like us, etc. Those who are familiar in one way or another feel like a more likely and safer option for our seeking of knowing and being known.

As our children listened in and are beginning to attempt to understand, even if it be in a limited way, the foundational truths behind our viewpoints they have taken it upon themselves to ask questions of those in their lives.

Being their mother, I have had the opportunity to overhear these questions at times. Which has opened up other conversation opportunities.

They ask questions, such as, which political party a person associates with, or what they think of a certain politician, or if they are a Christian. This has helped me understand how the grouping and classifying that can be done through these information gathering quests they are on can help them make sense of their world and feel safer to explore being known and knowing certain individuals. It has also sparked a thought / question in my mind.

How often do we seek organizing ourselves and individuals into these groups as a sense of control of our identity and theirs? How often are we finding our identity in these groups? How often are we assuming other’s identities in these groups?

I had someone who knows me very well tell me recently that they were not religious like me. They placed me in a group. I had my children (among others) assume what political party I am a part of based off of certain questions asked, or viewpoints expressed (they were all wrong).

I get it. Stereotypes are there for a reason. They help us feel in control, safe, and reserve emotional and mental brain power for more seemingly unpredictable daily happenings.

But as I have learned, and think many others have as well, stereotypes, while they exist for a reason, and may be founded on certain norms and statistics, are not always correct. And even when one may fit, even wholly into a stereotype, it may not be for the entirety of a person’s life. Maybe they need to adopt a stereotype for a limited time while they figure out who they are or take a break from all the emotional and social stress this society is constantly slinging.

And while someone may appear to fall into a certain stereotype, to themselves and to those around them, I guarantee if they are being truthful with themselves and know who they are they will not fit nicely into any stereotype.

While stereotypes can be a useful tool, when relied on too heavily, and when used too frequently and in place of knowing, they can and will be damaging.

I have learned long ago that I do not fit into a stereotype. I’m too crunchy for some and not crunchy enough for others, etc. I learned long ago to stop trying to fit into a group. I learned long ago who I am. That my identity is not found in a group defined by social, religious, or political values.

I am reading more and more about individuals pulling away from certain groups. Realizing some major differences in their ideologies they are finding themselves in a crisis of identity. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But as they leave one “group” they run straight into the arms of another. Not realizing that the flaw here isn’t in the group they left, but in “groups” altogether. They each promise they’ll be more loyal, virtuous, loving, accepting, etc.

The flaw here isn’t in the group they left, but in “groups” altogether

There is only one identity that will provide us with the truth we are seeking. The knowing and being known we crave. The love. That is the identity we walk into when we accept the gift of salvation offered to us by Jesus Christ, God’s Son when He died on the cross to pay the punishment for our sins. That is our identity as God’s children.

If we are finding our identity anywhere else it will be filled with human flaws, error, and sins. This new “group” as we have walked into is just as flawed as the one we came running away from. As will be the next. This includes every denomination and every church as well.

The amount of virtue they toot holds no comparison to the virtue God holds. The amount of love and acceptance they offer holds no value to how God will love and accept you. The amount of knowing and being known they offer you is minuscule compared to how the one who made you knows you. Even down to the number of hairs on your head. Because while you may not care about something like that, He does.

So, I sat my children down and explained that I am not a member of a political party. I do not define myself with a “denomination” of church or religion. I am not and never will be any identity other than one of God’s princesses. That is who I am. His. He loves me. He knows me. He chose me. He made me. Everything I need is in Him.

My identity is in Christ and Christ alone

I will encourage my children to find their identity in Christ as well. Not in a political party, a social group, or a church denomination, etc.

So no, I am not religious. I am Christ’s. There is a huge difference there. I am not Republican or Libertarian or a Democrat. I am Christ’s.

And I challenge you to ask yourself the tough questions about yourself. Where is your identity? What social norms are you clinging to out of a feeling of safety in the familiarity or fear of the judgement and rejection thrown at those who question “their truths”.

Or are you ready to seek Him. The One who made you, who loves you, who wants to save you. The One who’s truth will set you free, will fill you with joy, and peace. The One who wins in the end. Seek Him. Not what a progressive or a Catholic or a Baptist says is Him. Seek who He says He is. His is the only voice that will never fail us. And He promises us that if we seek Him, He will be found by us. Seek Him with all your heart.

(I do vote, I also attend a church. And I have been a member of a church in the past and may be again in the future. I am friends with those from all walks of life and will always fight for the free will God gave us and desired for us. I will fight to always point all to God, knowing He is the only one who will every truly satisfy what their soul is longing for, but we were all lost at one point, myself included. We are all at different points in our journey toward and with God. My job is to do as He commands. Seek Him, obey Him, love Him and others, and point others to Him. This does not mean I will turn a blind eye to what God says is sin. But also means I will always strive to love or allow God to love everyone, even those who hate me and want to strip away my freedoms, through me. I am no stranger to persecution. Each time I experience it is another opportunity to learn how to serve Him better, and point others toward Him. He is the author and finisher of my Faith. As He keeps bringing opportunities to love others and point them toward Him (which is THE most loving thing we can do, even when the world says otherwise) I will keep submitting to Him, learning more and more how to allow Him to love through me, because His strength is made perfect in my weakness and He is love).

“But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Mathew 10:30

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9

“Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe that You are the son of the one, true God and that You died on the cross to pay the punishment for my sins. And that You rose again on the third day. I invite You, Jesus, to come into my heart and life as my savior. Thank you for saving me. Amen”

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore, the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:1-2

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:9‬

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John‬ ‭4:7-8‬

An Alaskan Bugout

I think an important thing to remember when undertaking a preparedness such as building a Bug Out Bag (BOB) is that there are multiple scenarios where they could be used. This can make it challenging to know what kinds of items to include in your bag. So, the first step of preparedness is to tackle the task of deciding to what level is your preparedness goal.

In order to determine what level of preparedness you want or need to build your BOBs first take into account where you live. Do you live in a city, in the country, in a cold climate, in a hot climate, etc.

Next hypothesize some scenarios to help you “walk through” what might happen and determine what you might need. Is it a major disaster? War? Or something else. When thinking about these possible scenarios think about the purpose of your BOB. Is it meant to help you survive in the wild, or just hold you over until you are rescued or make it to a safe location?

These are all the types of questions each preparer should be asking themselves in order to build their BOB to best fit their needs.

I’ve had a lot of people comment to me that when they see the Bug Out Bag packing lists online that none of them seem to fit our scenarios where we live. I agree. I used those lists as a base point, and then added to it based off of my almost 30 years of experience living in Alaska.

The scenarios where a BOB could mean the difference between life and death in this massive state that has made it to the top of many different dangerous places to live lists due to its vast wilderness, extreme weather conditions, potential for natural disasters, and not to mention, the wildlife make it all the more important for every resident to have one on hand. Even “normal” activities in Alaska can become life and death situations in the blink of an eye. We should all be prepared.

So, how do you become prepared? Especially if the internet lists aren’t built for our unique circumstances.

Let me first state that I am in no way an expert. But I have lived here for many years, and I have been researching and updating and revising and studying more and revising more our Bug Out Bags for close to a decade. The knowledge and experience I have gained can be a great starting point for you. Some of you may know more, some of you may know less. Bottom line, seeing what someone does and learning from someone else’s experience is never a bad thing. So, without further explanation (because I can always keep going, being long-winded is a special talent) let’s get to Building a Bug Out Bag (BOB)!

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Building a Bug Out Bag

Regardless of which scenario(s) you decide to prepare for, choosing a backpack is the foundation of every BOB. We chose the Kelty Redwing backpacks. We got the Kelty Redwing 50 for Kevin and the Kelty Redwing 44 for me. For our daughters we are currently using hand-me-down backpacks, one is a North Face and one is a generic brand. (Side Note: I will produce a follow up BOB Blog for kids after this and will link it here when it is complete.) Upgrading their packs to sturdier options is on the to-do list over the next couple years as they grow into being able to support more of their own supplies.

Kelty Redwing 50

The three most important things when in a survival scenario are to stay warm and dry, find shelter, and a clean source of water. To aid us in this capacity in the wild I have included the Pathfinder Outdoor Survival Guide shelter, Fire, Water pocket guide.

We’ll tackle the staying warm and step first.

Staying Warm and Dry

There are two parts of this that are equally important. 

  • Keep your pack and all its contents dry. For this we purchased REI’s Duck’s Backpack Rain Cover. They have options for every size backpack.
  • Keep Your Body Warm and Dry. 

    This is an area that isn’t always covered on many of the “stock” BOB packing lists. But in an environment like Alaska’s is crucial. Even if you have to “bug out” in the summer, our summer conditions can still land an individual with hypothermia if not properly Prepared. Also, you never know how long these supplies will need to last you, so having winter gear in the pack is a must. We’ll tackle staying warm first.

    • Warmth: Find the most compact, yet warm snow pants. I don’t have a particular suggestion for this. I got mine at a garage sale, and we got Kevin’s on clearance at REI. 

      When we upgraded our winter coats, we put the old ones in the packs.

      We also found some great gloves on clearance at REI. Again, just look for deals, or upgrade what you’re currently using, and toss the old pair in the pack. Mittens are great for warmth, but finger gloves are better for dexterity. Both scenarios make sense for an Alaskan Bug Out. 

      For hats we did buy some specific for this purpose. We purchased Trapper Hats very similar to these on Amazon.

      In addition to the warm clothing options is the ability to start a fire. For this I felt like redundancy was our friend, so I packed multiple fire-starting methods. First, I packed Water Proof Fire Sticks; then I packed Waterproof Matches. I love these that have their own case with a striker pad; a Bic Lighter; and a Flint and Striker. It’s incredibly hard to find a Flint and Striker that will ship to Alaska on Amazon, so I grabbed the Coghlan’s Brand one from Fred Myer.

      I also packed some hand, foot, and body warmers from Hot Hands to help out in an emergency.
  • Dry: High quality rain jacket and rain pants are ideal. If you don’t have the space or the finances for it, Coleman has a compact, lightweight rain suit we found at Fred Myer (couldn’t find it on Amazon or else I would have linked here for you to see what I’m talking about). Alternatively, a trash bag will do in a pinch. 

Shelter

In a bug-out scenario you may have the option of finding shelter in another residence or building, but it’s best to plan to be taking shelter in the wild. Things to think about regarding sheltering in the wild.

  1. You need to be able to keep yourself dry
  2. You need to keep yourself warm

For this I pack plastic sheets, like what you would use for painting. They’re compact, yet, can provide you a green-house type effect with the sun for warmth, and will keep the rain off of you. You can pack two, one for the ground and one for the roof, or pack one, and cut it in half or fold it, if need be.

When preparing your shelter always provide a barrier between you and the ground. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to collect leaves, moss, and sticks and create a “nest” or bed. Layer the plastic sheeting on top of this (be sure to have plenty of “leaf” barrier between the sticks and your plastic or bypass the sticks altogether. This will help to keep the moister and cold temps from the soil seeping into your shelter. You can always add additional leaves and moss on top of the plastic for added warmth and comfort.

Think about how you will secure your plastic and keep it up off the ground. Most people will find a tree and broken limbs to forge a shelter structure and then secure the plastic on top.

To ease the building process I include zip ties, Gorilla (or Duct) tape, thin rope (like what you would use for a clothes’ line or smaller), and a packable shovel in our BOBs.

Sleeping

A sub-category of shelter would be sleeping. We’ve established that we need shelter and how to provide that. But, going a step further to ensure some added warmth and comfort to help you stay dry and warm is a sleeping bag shell and liner. We opted for the SOL Escape Bivvy as it is reflective helping you maintain body heat and highly weather resistant protecting you from wind and rain. I have paired this with Cocoon Merino Wool Mummy Liner for added warmth.

Water

Last, but not least, on our top three most important items for survival is drinkable water. Living in Alaska, one really isn’t usually very far from water at any time. But we still need to make sure that water is clean and safe to drink, and available when we need it. The first step is having a quick and easy and transportable way to drink water without having to spend time to boil and clean it. We opted for Life Straws for this. We got a couple of 3-packs on Amazon. These allow you to place the straw directly into the water source and drink. Great for emergencies and on the move. I also grabbed the Life Straw Gravity Bag to fill up to take water with a filter back to our shelter or “camp” or carry with us as we are on the move.

For a longer-term solution I packed a couple sets of Water Purification Tablets and some bleach and coffee filters.

For transporting the water I grabbed a Collapsible Water Container from Amazon, as well as a couple of different packable water bottle options. The Vapor Eclipse Flexible Water Bottle rolls up super compact, but when I received them, I was concerned they wouldn’t last. They aren’t a bad item to have in the packs, I just wanted a backup as well. My second attempt landed me with the Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle and I was much happier with the quality of these.

Nomader Collapsible Water Bottle
Rolls up Compact

Then comes the ability to boil water when and if the opportunity to do so arises. I purchased the MalloMe Camping Cookware & Mess Kit as it is small, light, and versatile. This will do double duty as a means to cook food as well.

Secondary Items

This covers the immediate and most important needs. Next up comes the secondary items. Here we have food, medicine, and additional items.

Food

You really don’t want to take up a lot of space with actual food. Bring some to hold you over until you can forage or hunt, but most of the food category has to do with being able to provide a source of food in the wild. This will be harder done than said, especially in the winter. But here are some tools that might help.

To start I packed a gallon size zip lock bag with Trail Mix and Rx Bars to hold us over. We have a rule that we would eat only one of these items a day, and all other food we would need to forage or hunt. To help us in the foraging department we have some pocket guides. These aren’t Alaska specific guides, but they do provide information on foods found in Alaska as well.

  1. Foraging for Wild Edible Food
    and,
  2. Edible Wild Plants

For additional aid in securing food we have a higher quality pair of shears from Fred Myer along with a sheath from Amazon so the scissors don’t puncture our packs. We also have a folding saw. And a folding knife. This knife is also a great option, and we might end up adding it into our BOB instead of or in addition to the folding knife.

I see on many lists for preparedness to include a can opener. I’m not going to pack any canned goods in my BOB so this seemed like possibly an item that would just be adding weight and taking up space. But, to rationalize adding this I hypothesized that we could end up somewhere where there are canned goods, and how dumb would I feel if we had food that accessible and no way to open it. I first opted for the really lightweight and compact can openers, but a test run on this style proved that that style doesn’t actually work. So, my second attempt landed me with a standard kitchen can opener. I grabbed this from Fred Myer. Add to this, a utensil set.

In all honesty, this is barely going to be enough to get us by if this is all we have. Our Bug Out Plan also includes grabbing additional weapons to aide us in hunting and in self-protection, Lord willing we have the opportunity to do so.

Medical Needs

This item may be a bit more personal. If you have any prescription medication, you’ll want to get a supply of this in your BOB. 

In addition to this add a thermometer. Any thermometer should do. A first aid kit. We picked the Ultralight / Watertight Medical Kit. And I would add a ziplock bag with some additional beneficial items such as Advil and Benadryl. I have also chosen to add Umcka Children’s Cold Care Chewables, and Umcka Cold and Flu Chewables.

I take this a step further and also include a trauma kit. I purchased the MediTac Premium IFAK Kit and I added to this the Water Jel Burn Dressing. I highly recommend seeking out some civilian trauma training to prepare you for understanding how to respond in a trauma situation and how to use your kit.

I also added an additional Ziplock bag full of plastic gloves, about five pair.

We’ve included some disposable surgical masks, because, if we’ve learned nothing else from 2020 it’s that, people might require you to wear masks and you don’t want not having one to deter you from getting where you need to go in a bug out situation. I’ve also included REDI Mask by AirGuard for protection against situations where there are air contaminants we need to be concerned about. I couldn’t find this mask to link for you, but there is a plethora of options on this front now. My primary criteria when searching for this mask would be that it would protect against ash in case of fire or volcanic eruption.

We’ve also added a couple of pocket guides to aid us in first aid. The Medicinal Plants Guide for traditional wilderness remedies using familiar and widespread plants. And the Pathfinder Wilderness First Aid guide.

Not as much medical needs, but along those lines is a travel size bottle of hand sanitizer, mosquito repellant, toothpaste, floss, and a travel toothbrush.

Additional Items

Now we’re on to additional or miscellaneous items. These are the items that are really good to have along, but don’t necessarily fit neatly into one of the other categories. Such as carabiners. We have included both lightweight carabiners meant for securing items to the outside of our pack and the heavy duty carabiners used for rock climbing, in case we end up in a situation where we need to traverse a cliff face. On this topic, I also included a dynamic climbing rope. I also included additional paracord and clothesline for aid in building shelter, etc.

A good dependable compass, a whistle – I really like this one:

a signaling mirror, a small sewing kit, additional backpacking straps to aid in carrying extra items on the outside of your pack, and solar and crank powered Portable Emergency Weather Radio and Flashlight. I also included a solar powered flash light, a collapsible solar powered lamp (I love this thing!), a ziplock of a few of the most common sizes of batteries, a pack of mechanical pencils, a small notebook, a sharpie, and a one-time use glow stick.

A bag of bags. I get a gallon size Ziplock bag and store inside it some trash bags, sandwich Ziplock bags, and additional gallon size Ziplocks.

Important papers. Make color copies of your Social Security card, your birth certificate, your driver’s license, your passport and any other paperwork that might be wanted / necessary. 

Waterproof bags. Grab at least one set of these waterproof bags to store some of the items, like your medicine in. Having a couple of extra on hand for incidentals while in the wild isn’t a bad idea either.

Last, but not least, I included the pocket size of the SAS Survival Guide, which apparently is a hot commodity right now as my research shows it selling for about $50 at the moment. I paid $10. If you can find it for a good price somewhere, grab it. Otherwise, look into some of the alternatives.

Additional Resources

To be proactive in preparing yourself for a bug out scenario I suggest pursuing some education. There are trauma and survival training programs you can participate in, such as the the Direct Action Response Training offered by Dark Angel Medical (https://darkangelmedical.com).

I would also suggest grabbing some books to educate yourself on some skills that could come in handy during a bug-out or survivalist situation. My current suggested list is as follows:

SAS Survival Handbook
The Survival Doctor’s Complete Handbook
The Boreal Herbal
Be Your Own Doctor
Herbal Antibiotics

-OR-

Herbal Antibiotics

If you are just starting out this will probably feel a little overwhelming, and the financial side can definitely be overwhelming. Remember that this is an extensive list. Do what you can now focusing on the three most important areas; Water, Shelter, and Dry / Warm. Then, each year, or as finances become available you can work on adding to your BOB. I first built our BOBs close to a decade ago and have added to them or upgraded quality of items slowly each year. Anything is better than nothing, so do what you can now, and work on the rest as you are able!

But Out Bag Packing List

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  • Snow Pants
  • Coat
  • Gloves
  • A bag of bags
    • 3+ gallon size Ziplock bags
      • 2+ sandwich size Ziplock bags
      • 2+ trash bags
  • Important Documents
  • Color copy of passport
    • Color copy of birth certificate
    • Color copy of driver’s license
    • Color copy of marriage license

Turning Leaf Wellness’s Ginger Root Tea

Ginger Root contains many nutrients and bioactive compounds with a long history of use in traditional and alternatives medicines. Combine this with Apple Cider Vinegar which contain antimicrobial and antioxidant ingredients; Cayenne Pepper containing Capsaicin which offers a host of benefits; and local raw honey and you’ve got a powerful relief and wellness boosting combination.

INGREDIENTS:

  1. Ginger Root – ½ to 1-inch piece
  2. 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
  3. 2 Teaspoons local raw honey
  4. 1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  5. Add mint leaves if desirable

Directions:

Dice the gingerroot and steep with 8 to 12 ounces boiling water for 30 minutes. Add the ACV, Honey, and Cayenne. Add mint leaves if desirable. Drink at room temperature or reheat.

Chocolate Veggie Protein Muffins

In a search to find something that my kids would look forward to for breakfast, but also something that I can feel okay with feeding them I came up with these Chocolate Veggie Protein Muffins and my kids LOVE them!

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Okay, they’re called muffins, but I made mini bread loafs too.

I’m not a fan of those food blogs that you have to scroll through pages of text you don’t care about to find the recipe, so I’ll get right to it!

Ingredients

  • One zucchini (shredded)
  • One carrot (shredded)
  • Two ripe banana (mashed)
  • 4 oz. pureed sweet potatoes
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 4 cups oats (ground into a flour in a blender)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • chocolate chips to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. Grease 24 muffin tins &/or line with liners (or I did 12 muffin tins and 3 mini loaf pans)
  3. Mash banas in a large bowl
  4. Add veggies, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Add dry ingredients in small bowl. Mix well.
  6. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and fold together.
  7. Add chocolate chips to taste.
  8. Pour into prepared muffin tins. Pour extra batter into bread pan.
  9. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until knife or toothpick inserted comes out dry. (Bake bread pans for 35-40 minutes)
  10. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. Remove from muffin / bread tin and let finish cooling on wire racks.
  11. Freeze extras to enjoy at a later date.

img_8627

That’s it!

I’ve been asked if you can substitute oats for almond flour, and I’m sure you can (I almost opted for almond flour).

I’ve also been asked if you can puree the carrots and zucchini instead of shredding them, and again, I’m sure you can. Just pay attention to the consistency of the batter and you may need to add or take away the dry ingredients to get the right consistency.

I’ve also been asked if you can trade the eggs out for something… and again, I’m sure you can use oils instead of eggs (but man, that’ll be a lot of oil to get that good dry-to-wet ratio!). But that would also eliminate the high protein content of these muffins that I just love! So, one option is to use chocolate protein powder instead of cocoa powder. (This one is my current fav!)

Anywho, let me know in the comments if you try any other variation of these muffins, as I would love to give the variation a try myself!

 

Really, Please, Can We Just Take the Emphasis Off of Body Image?

I have had body image issues my whole life.

When I was a kid the boy I had a crush on sang the words, “Meghan is fat” to the tune of the song we were practicing in choir. From that moment on I hated my body.

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As a kid I was unaware of things like eating healthy, exercising, drinking enough water, etc. It wasn’t the culture to teach children these things in the 80s, and especially not in the south where sweet tea and fried chicken ruled. Maybe Oklahoma is more Midwest than south, but they still love their fried food and sweet treats.

My journey may resemble others, or it may not. But, regardless of the journey you have taken, our collective emphasis on body image as a society is troubling.

By the time I was 14 I had become obsessed with changing my body. I began working out and counting calories. Sometimes taking it to extremes and “fasting.”

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I achieved the “best” body I could with this lifestyle and maintained until I got a job, moved out, and started college. Then the pressures and responsibilities of adulting kicked in and the weight slowly began creeping back on.

Once I realized I was gaining weight I upped my eating healthy and working out game. I looked to the generally accepted knowledge of what “eating healthy” looked like and again, counted calories and ate “diet cereals”. It didn’t work. The weight kept accumulating. Until the point that my five-foot-four-inch frame was carrying around 170 pounds.

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Feeling so completely disgusting I felt like my marriage was starting to suffer. Time to kick it into high gear. I implemented workouts of an hour or more every day. Started riding my bike to and from work and counting calories – not eating more than 1000 a day. It worked! I lost 25 pounds! But then I plateaued.  In addition to this I began developing some health issues. Later I would learn many of these health issues were the direct result of under nourishing my body and over-stressing it. Again, I was caught up in extreme hatred for my body. I was working my butt off. Putting more effort and energy into it than anyone else I knew. I wasn’t getting results. I was still fat. I felt judged, defeated and the intense unfairness that I could work so hard and still be fat and “skinny” girls could sit on their butts all day and eat pizza without “negative results”. (judgement)

Then came pregnancy. More weight. A hard pregnancy made it impossible to work out, intense morning sickness (that lasted all day long) made it hard to eat healthy, my 155 pounds jumped up to 190 during pregnancy. Again, hating my body as I was not the cute pregnant lady. I was bloated, fat, and miserable.

Post pregnancy I tried to get back into shape so hard. Nothing worked. I think I maybe lost 15 pounds… again, going to extreme measures to make this happen.

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Then pregnancy number two. Also extremely hard making working out impossible and very challenging to eat well. I also ended up on partial bed-rest… I got up to 210 pounds with this pregnancy.

This post-partum period was plagued with a baby that wouldn’t sleep. I had already been suffering insomnia since my last pregnancy, but it was made worse by a baby who wouldn’t sleep longer than two hours at a time for 20 months. Yes, for an excruciating long 20 months I maybe slept one hour at a time… accumulating a combined 5-6 hours a night. Getting back into shape was the furthest thing from my mind as I was in full blown survival mode.

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This situation landed me with even more health issues that ended with full-blown Deep-Organ Candidiasis attacking my entire body with symptoms such as fungus growing in my mouth and all over my body on my skin, asthma so bad that all of the medication I had been using to survive for the last 10 years couldn’t even touch it, a whole slew of symptoms,… this was my first introduction to natural wellness as I learned the only thing that helped me continue breathing was peppermint essential oil. My doctor prescribed an antibiotic and a probiotic and told me to go to the ER if my breathing got worse.

About this time is when my journey in natural wellness really took off as I was fascinated by how effective the EO was, and how quickly I began to feel better from taking a simple acidophiles probiotic. The more I researched the more convinced I was to try a regimen recommended to me by a friend that included a powerful probiotic / enzyme combo, a magnesium supplement, and something to support balancing blood sugar.

I jumped in to this regimen head first and was SO ecstatic that I began seeing immediate results. I could breathe again. The sore throat I had had for MONTHS was gone. The fungus all over my body and in my mouth was gone. My joint pain was gone. My depression was gone. I had energy and I was losing weight!

I loved that I was feeling so much better in so many areas and tried my best to vocally keep the focus on that. But in my mind and in my heart I was secretly the most excited about the weight loss. And the weight loss kept going. I dropped from 179 pounds to 129 pounds over the next 10 months. For the first time in my life I felt like my body was working the way everyone else’s worked. That doing the “right things” actually resulted in results.

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I learned what eating healthy really looked like. No diet cereal this time around. I filled my plate with veggies and I was satisfied. It was amazing. I used this excitement to officially study natural wellness and earned a certificate as a Natural Health Professional and was absolutely fascinated by how much sense it all made and how amazing what I was learning was and how effective everything I was doing was. I now loved my body. I loved it because it was finally doing what it was “supposed” to do. Is there a more obvious example of conditional love?

For the first time in my life my body maintained muscle mass, I maintained the weight that I wanted (granted, I would have still loved to lose another 10 pounds), I felt strong, I felt healthy and I didn’t feel deprived. It was a dream come true.

Then, after almost 2 years my entire family got sick with the Adeno Virus. The Adeno Virus sucks. The sickness lasted a full six plus weeks and presented so many different symptoms. The most detrimental to me was that I gained 10 pounds in that period of time. And my body seemed to be returning to it’s old habits. It didn’t matter what I did, I could not lose that 10 pounds. I pulled out every trick I had learned in my natural wellness studies. Nothing worked. I tried my best to be okay with this; 139 pounds is okay. I can live with this. Secretly though, I began hating my body again. Why won’t it do what it’s supposed to?! If I eat right and exercise, I should lose weight! And I really did know what eating right looked like now. I have a freaking certificate to prove it now! Why is it not working?!

While doing my best to make peace with 139 pounds more weight slowly began to creep on… next thing I know my scale was hovering around 144 pounds… another year goes by and now I’m at 152 pounds. SO frustrated. Crying. Hating my body. Absolutely terrified because I do not want to be fat. Society hates fat. Society judges fat. I have felt judged due to my body my entire life. I finally had a taste of what it felt like to not live that way and then it got ripped away from me again. I’m right back to nothing working. I have tried everything… every diet out there, every theory, concept, etc.

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Side Note: This is what camping in Alaska looks like. Four-wheelers, swimming suits, and guns.

In desperation I made an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor. After a consultation she ordered a blood panel. She requested certain things tested based off of what she learned about me through a consultation. A follow-up appointment once my results were in and I was diagnosed with hypo-glycemia, hypo-thyroiditis, and low-blood-pressure.

(side note: I am working with this ND on a treatment plan. I am not looking for “try this, try that” advice right now, as I really feel like I have researched and studied and I’m working with an expert in the type of medicine that aligns with my values. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it is research. And I do it. Lots of it. This isn’t a plea for advice. This isn’t actually about weight at all. However, I would love to hear your story, and your journey and where you are at with learning to let go of the body image trap).

I should feel relieved that there is a legitimate reason why everything I’ve done my whole life hasn’t “worked”. The ND told me that if it wasn’t for my supplement regimen, if it wasn’t for my diet, and my exercise regimen, for everything I had been doing over the past four years that I would be diabetic by now. I have all the markers. She will work with me to hopefully keep it from getting to that point. I should be relieved that we know all of this. That we have a treatment plan. That I am feeling better again! The joint pain that had returned is now going away again. The energy levels that had disappeared are coming back again. The depression that had returned is going away again. I am feeling more like myself again.

But, I stepped on the scale the other day and saw that I had, once again, gained weight. I cursed. I cried. I’m doing everything “right.” Why do I keep gaining weight? Yes, I know it’s the thyroid / blood sugar issue. But still, (insert curse word of choice here), it pisses me off that I can’t just do the “normal” and maintain an “acceptable” body weight. Why do I have to work so hard to still not even be “normal.” It feels so incredibly unfair. It pisses me off that even when I go above and beyond that I can’t maintain an “acceptable” body weight.

I hate my body. I hate that I hate my body. It pisses me off that I hate my body. I shouldn’t hate my body. Why do I hate my body?

Since that time, when I was a child and that boy sang those words, “Meghan is fat” I have felt nothing but judgement from society about my body. “You look like you gained weight,” “You look like you lost weight,” etc. Doesn’t matter. Either one. Society judges based off of body size.

I hate that I have had conversations with people who are convinced that if you are fat it means you are lazy and eat too much. I hate that I am absolutely terrified that my husband will no longer find me attractive if I put on weight. I hate that the concerns I have with my body are primarily fueled by society and it’s view of what is attractive. I hate that I’m more concerned about body size than body health. Yes, I’m admitting it. I would rather be skinny than healthy, and I hate that. How disgusting is that?

I hate that I care so much about my weight and I want to change that. Our focus should not be on our shape and size. No matter what shape or size it is. I don’t want to hear, “I love my curves.” I don’t want to say it. You know why? Because that means I’m still focused on my body shape and size. What the crap? Why? Why do we have to love being skinny or love being “curvy”? That’s bull to me.

It pisses me off that we put so much emphasis on body. Can we just not? Please. I’m begging. For my sake and for my two daughters’ sake. Can we stop putting the emphasis on our bodies. Big or small, short or tall, who the eff cares. Stop it.

I don’t want to be proud of my body. I don’t want to hate my body. I don’t want to think about my body in those terms at all. What a waste of mental energy. How much more could I have done with my life if I didn’t spend all those hours agonizing and obsessing over my body image? How much more content and fulfilled will our children be if body image is a topic that is never introduced to them?

Can we please take the focus off of loving or hating our body no matter big or small? Can we please turn the focus toward nutrition and exercise as a means to facilitate optimal health? Period. Not health based off of body image, but literally, nutrition.

Nutrition eliminated my asthma symptoms. How miraculous is that? I have not needed my inhaler since I changed my diet. How is it that I can still hate my body when it responds to proper nutrition in such a way? How can I still feel judged because, yes, I can now breathe, but, no, I still weigh “too much.”

This needs to stop. I don’t want my daughters crying because the scale communicates a different concept of health than their actual health shows. I also don’t want them feeling good about themselves simply because the scale does show a number that is “acceptable” by societies standards.

I want their self-worth to be found in the quality of their character not the physical characteristics of their image. I want them to look to God for acceptance. Not base it off of society’s body image standards.

I’ve said it for a while now. “I don’t care about the weight. I care about being healthy.” I’ve said it. It was easy to say when I weighed 129 pounds. It has been harder to say since the scale started going up. But no matter what I weighed I always said it. I never really believed it.

I want to believe it.

Can we believe it? As a society. Can we end the conversation about body shape and size? It’s not important. Let’s stop making it important. Can we please teach our children to love nutrition for nutrition’s sake? To love fitness because it enables them to do the things they want to do, not because it eliminates love handles? Can we teach this to ourselves? Can we love ourselves not based off of body shape and size but based off of who we are? Can we stop “hating” or “loving” our bodies and instead focus on the quality of our character?

Really, please, can we just take the emphasis off of body image? It takes up entirely too much time and resources from ourselves and our society.

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I want my girls to grow up loving adventuring and finding joy in the world the Lord gave us and developing a deep and meaningful relationship with God and with others. God’s purpose for them on this world should be their focus. Not what their bodies look like. I want this for myself as well. Let’s end the body-image discussion.

 

Notes from Alaska Earthquake 11/30/18:

The aftershocks could go on for weeks.
Yesterday morning at 8:29 Anchorage experienced its most damaging quake since 1964. In the less than 24 hours since to 7:17 am today, between Anchorage and Willow (roughly 47 air miles or 81 driving miles from Anchorage) we have experienced

522 measurable earthquakes
90 of those have measured over 3.0
The epicenter of 409 of those has been within 20 miles of Anchorage

(copied from a friend on Facebook)

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Sat down to gather my thoughts this morning…

 

– I didn’t need that much stuff anyway.

– First thing I did was call my husband, who was pissed because I ruined his earthquake video with my call 😂

– Second I called my Brother-in-law

– Still shaking

– Grabbed the girls and Molly (our Yorkie) and headed across the street to check on my SIL since BIL wasn’t home…

– Another big earthquake hit while we were on their driveway, the girls and I just froze and huddled together.

-Neighbor running down the street looking for their dog that bolted when the quake hit.

-BIL and SIL had a water line burst or break and she was running around trying to get the water off…

– Neighbor girl stuck her head out to see what was happening… she was staying home from school sick and her dad had run to drop her sister off to school, so she was home alone… “um… come here… don’t be home alone.” I watched kids while SIL got water shut off

– BIL made it home… started checking on other neighbors to see if they were okay
– Called Kevin back, asked him to come home, he asked me to check on the water / gas / electric at our house (oh, duh! I totally should have done that already!)
– Left kids with BIL and SIL while I go check our house… no water leaking, no gas smells, no electric.

– Came back for kids, brought them home, began to survey damage.

– Can’t walk without stepping on glass / sheetrock.

– Don’t know where to even start.

– Notice all the food fell out of our fridge / freezer…have no clue how long it’s been at this point, but there is no more cold air inside…

– Head outside and grab a shovel to start piling snow to dump fridge / freezer food so it won’t spoil.

– Transport all the food outside… all while walking on glass / sheetrock, etc.

– Grab trash bag to start clearing out the larger items that are primarily blocking walkways… bag starts to rip, try to take it out to the garage, man door is jammed… have to walk around through the outside access…

– Come back inside to grab another bag happened to look on other side of kitchen island to see a bottle of Spiced Rum broken and just pooled on our kitchen floor.

– Clean it up immediately cursing myself for not looking over here sooner… kitchen floor is now ruined… probably $6k to replace.

– Nephew comes over to check on us.

– Notice a plant on our TV Unit fell over… water dripping on unit… again, cursed myself for not noticing sooner as I hurriedly clean up water hoping the unit isn’t ruined from water damage… think it’ll be okay.

-Lost track of how many aftershocks we kept having through all of this so far… the girls will not leave the door frame where we took shelter because the earth KEEPS shaking.

– Return my attention to trying to clear a path to walk so I don’t hear the kitchen floor getting scratched with every step we take on glass…

– Notice the coffee cup my little brother made me is the ONLY coffee cup out of the way too many I have including lots of crap cups to break. Seriously… ANY other coffee cup could have broken, and I wouldn’t have cared. There aren’t too many possessions I love… but this was one of them. Handmade / homemade gifts are my favorite, and my little brother is an amazing artist… This is where it all hit me.

– The coffee cup really isn’t that big of a deal, I mean, I loved it and all, but it’s still just stuff.

– Sense of time completely gone… have no idea how long my adrenaline had been pumping, fight or flight mode on… I saw the pieces to the cup and I just started crying.

– Sat down and cried. The girls tried to comfort me from their perch in the doorway.

– Get myself together… it’s just stuff. No big deal. I need to get this glass off my floors, counters, etc.

– Start cleaning up again.

– SIL shows up with a broom to help clear a safe path for us to maneuver. THANK YOU.

– Continue to clean up debris from … everywhere… start to feel shaky… realize its noon (earthquake hit at 8:29)

– There is still debris / glass everywhere… need to get food, not much I can get together with counters covered and sink filled…

– Reach for plates and realize they are all covered in glass (inside the cabinets). Screw that…

-Somehow manage to twist and stretch myself to reach through the 6” of piled food in our pantry that I can’t walk through to barely get my hands on our paper plates enough to get them out.

– Throw random food items on plates and convince the girls to come sit with me in the front room (surprisingly free from most debris and all glass) to eat.

– Hear reports that they were expecting a larger than the quake aftershock by 12:30… stop eating and do a quick run through of the house to make sure minimal further damage if another quake happened…

– Return to eating… girls are still freaking out… No huge aftershock hit… although plenty of medium ones did…

– Girls want to check on the cousins across the street so we head over there… They want to stay and hangout with cousin for a while…okay…

– I head back home to work on things…

– But first… sit down to another cry…

– Check on Kevin… it’s been over 3 hours and he’s still not home… he’s a little more than half way.

– BIL comes over to double check pipes, lines, etc. Sees if he can fix our man-door.

– Nope.

– I continue cleaning. I’m exhausted.

– Floor is mostly clear, counters are mostly clear now.

– Tackle the pantry.

– Oatmeal, Rice, Baking Soda, and Tomato Soup all over everywhere…

– Over an hour later pantry is cleared / floor is cleaned.

– Most of pantry food now on kitchen floor (what’s the point in putting it back up if there could still be a huge aftershock?)

– Husband finally made it home…5 hours to drive 15 miles…normally takes 20-30 minutes.

– I think the aftershock count is somewhere around 80 at this point.

– Kevin inspects man-door…

– 30 minutes later Kevin has replaced handle… turns out the inside of the handle actually split causing the knob to do nothing, so it was stuck latched…

– Thankful it wasn’t due to structural / foundational changes.

– Head upstairs to further survey damage / see if there is anything pressing

– School room / office: Liquid herbs fell off shelf, Echinacea and Elderberry syrup fell, lid popped off, black stain all over carpet.

– Clean up the entire contents of the closet off the floor in order to get to the floor stain.

– Clean it up, so relieved it all came out!

– Sun is starting to set… still no power, getting dark, start to feel cold seeping in.

– Turn our attention to prep / plans for the evening.

– Start shaking again, the minimal food I ate for lunch is gone…

– SIL shows up with a huge tray of cookies and shoves a bunch in our hands… not the most nutritious sustenance, but it was in my hands, so I ate it… tasted good. Thanks Kaleigh!

– Sat down to catch up on social media / texts, etc.

– Yes, we’re okay, adrenaline hasn’t stopped pumping all day, adrenals are probably shot, but we’re okay.

– Decide we’re going to camp out in living room, begin prepping massive floor bed / blanket situation.

– Figure out food… make mac and cheese on stovetop… at least gas still works.

– Turn on gas fireplace.

– Beginning to prep laptop to watch movie off battery as we’re all shot, and the girls need us to turn our attention to them…

– Power comes back on!

– Heat and electric have never felt so good!

– Move all refrigerator items back into fridge so it doesn’t freeze overnight.

– Take another walk-through the house to survey damage with actual light.

– We’ve got a good 20-30 hours’ worth of sheetrock damage to repair.

– Minor electrical issues to repair.

– Yay! A glass vase fell into the toilet the girls didn’t flush so it was full of pee and the vase shattered in there and splashed pee water all over the place.

– Grab gloves and clean glass out of pee water.

– Clean up rest of bathroom.

– Now can this day be done? Please.

– Turn on a movie and sit down with babies.

– We all jump with every noise / shake. My heart still hasn’t stopped racing since 8:29 this morning.

– Movie is over, we’re exhausted. Brush teeth, say prayers, go to bed…

– Tell Chyler how proud I am of her. She was so brave and strong today.

– She started crying and told me, “I tried my best mom.”

– Told Elle the same. She did so good. She just hugged me and said, “thank you.”

– Molly slept on a blanket in the powder room most of the day… no glass in there.

– Molly wouldn’t leave our sides (or our heads) as we were laying down. Super clingy.

– Thanked God for the miracle that no one died. Thanked Him for bringing us all together safely. Thanked Him for this beautiful amazing world. And Prayed that He would continue to keep us all safe and help us sleep.

– Went to sleep.

– Just kidding… SO. MANY. AFTERSHOCKS.

– It’s like Alaska was teasing us. “you think you can sleep?!”

– Chyler fell asleep in my arms.

– Elle, Kevin, and I were all up until around 12-1.

– Finally fell asleep… another quake woke us at 2.

– Another quake at 3.

– Slept until 6, another quake woke us.

– Snoozed until 7 another quake woke us…wake up.

– More quakes this morning.

– Quakes finally started to slow down around 9am…

– Molly pukes…luckily on Tile, so easy clean up. Poor dog.

– It’s now 10:45am and haven’t had any big ones for over an hour…crossing fingers.

– I hate earthquakes.

– I’m a recovering perfectionist, and not being able to control any aspect of an earthquake just pisses me off.

– Give me a tornado… you get a warning, you can go somewhere in preparation… evacuate even possibly.

– Give me a hurricane… you can evacuate… you have warning.

– Give me a huge fire… again… you have warning… you can evacuate.

– What other natural disaster has absolutely ZERO warning system, can strike literally ANY time and can literally split the earth in 2 to swallow you up!?!

– HATE earthquakes.

-SO so so so thankful that we are all together and safe.

– Oh yeah…it’s getting windy now… so every time the wind shakes the house, I jump thinking it’s another earth quake. Yay.

– Silver lining? I have been working with God to change my relationship with stuff. Live Life Less so you can Live Life More.

– While cleaning up there were many times, I was actually thankful something broke because it saves me the hassle of trying to figure out if I’m going to try and sell it, give it away, or throw it in the trash. It’s just trash.

– Also, if I had less stuff… there would have been WAY less of a mess.

– I want less stuff.

– Going through and purging stuff will be a lot easier now as I have to go through every room in the house anyway and clean up / repair sheetrock, etc.

– Goal? Have at least 25% of current possessions gone by Spring.

– I think I’ll be a good 10% of the way there once we get this earthquake mess cleaned up!

– Speaking of possessions…. Cut Glass bowl I received from my host family during my student exchange trip to Russia survived!

– Cut Glass Sugar bowl, tea pot, and paintings from my grandma and grandpa all survived!

– The only thing I really cared about that broke was that coffee cup from my brother.

– Told the girls’ “it’s okay, I’ll find a new really cool pottery coffee cup during our “West Coast Road Trip” in a couple of years! And that one will be awesome because it will be a souvenir from our trip!”

– Silver Lining

– Also… I was serious when I said I’m researching places to move that don’t have earthquakes.

– Thankful for awesome neighbors who check in on each other and help each other. Thankful for awesome in-laws that help out even when they’re house is also in shambles.

– Thankful I was able to go help them as well.

– Mostly thankful that we are all together.

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Marc Lester / Twitter: @marclesterphoto

 

Will I Remember?

Will I remember?

The peaceful nights with no where to go, nothing to do. Just us. Dinner, games, puzzles, music, conversation. Just us.

Is there anything else anyone could ask for?

Will I remember what these nights tasted like? Will I remember what that sounded like? Will I remember what they felt like? Will I remember what they looked like? The gorgeous grin on Chyler’s face searching for approval while certain she hasto be worth something. You are, my sweet, darling girl. You are worth more than all the whole, big, wide world. The playful tone in Ellie’s voice as she raises one eyebrow to let you in on her joke. Her confidence exuberating.

Will I remember? When they are grown. When they are gone. When the long days of raising little souls have come to an end. Will I remember how magnificent these moments are?

Close my eyes so I can remember every detail, pack it away so I can pull it out again whenever I need a little taste of heaven.

 

 

 

 

Blind Faith

Blind Faith – Living life with the faith that the decisions we make are the best ones we can make with the information we have. Putting into practice trust in God and His goodness. Learning to seek Him in the little things so we can seek Him in the big things.

Writing is therapeutic to me. It gives me the opportunity to talk to myself without sounding and looking like a crazy person. Which, lets face it, I can definitely use less of looking and sounding like a crazy person. Can’t we all?

I want to write more. I will no longer wait for inspiration for some potentially life-altering concept prior to putting words to paper.

What does this mean? I’m honestly not certain. I felt for a long while that my writing needed to take a hiatus. I had (and still have) a lot going on in my personal journey toward understanding and healing from some childhood experiences. It wasn’t until around 30-years-old that I even recognized the damage these childhood experiences had done. From that moment, when I first started to see my reality, life got a little crazy as I dug deep down to see how far the damage had gone and began to study and understand what I was dealing with.

As my life was turned upside down, and I was in the depths of wading through the damage, love and inspiration for writing diminished.

Recently though, God has brought writing back into my life. Primarily through the form of journaling. He is in the process of hounding into me over, and over to trust in Him. One step at a time. As I step out in faith and begin fulfilling that instruction, He begins revealing the next step. In His timing. I am learning to seek Him in the little things so I can seek Him in the big things.

“Write” He told me. He didn’t tell me what to write. Just to write.

I have two beautiful and wild little girls. I love these girls. They love the outdoors (they take after me that way), they have energy, energy, and more energy (until they don’t). They are very social, yet introverts at the same time. My oldest is currently in second grade, and my youngest in kindergarten. We homeschool. I am in love with this lifestyle. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about my experience with homeschooling. But, the reality of it is that it is hard, and it takes a lot of time and energy. That’s not a negative to me, though, as the challenges are more than worth it.

But that means that I have no idea how writing will fit into my schedule. My schedule is already tiptoeing the line of being too much. I know you all can relate! We, as a family, feel like God has called us to live life less so we can live life more. We are learning to give up many “good things” because they are not OUR good things (the good things God has set aside for us). This is an ongoing process. It requires constant reassessment and prayer. It is surprisingly easy (actually, it’s not that surprising) to fill our schedules up. So, we will have to wait and see how God will incorporate writing into our life of less. I’m excited. Everything He gives us is exactly what we need. I’m excited for this gift of writing.

In what ways are you exercising Blind Faith?

Live Life Less, So You Can Live Life More; Living out God’s instruction for my life

Everything changes so much all the time. What worked today won’t work tomorrow. Then you’ll have to switch it up again the day after that. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in all of this is to keep it simple. Keep life simple.

But that’s hard though, you know. To keep things simple. You see everything that person is doing, and everything that other person is doing and you want to do it all. You think to yourself, “we can add this one more thing in, it won’t be a big deal.” So, you do, and then it is a big deal. Life is complicated.

Good things. All good things. But too many good things aren’t all that good. So, then we are faced with the tragic task of eliminating that which is good from our life in order to create a life that is good.

Add to that a good measure of faith in my Lord and you have a recipe for an amazing life. If you can just let go enough to not have so much.

Let go of the life you thought you wanted or would have. Let go of the ideals you thought were important. Let go of the activities that you thought were perfect. Let go. Trust. Have faith.

Two years ago, I earned a certificate as a Natural Health Professional. One of my most proud moments. One of my most treasured journeys. Shortly after that I expanded my work-from-home business to include Turning Leaf Wellness where I would help people begin their journeys in natural wellness. I absolutely adore helping people like this. It’s not been without it’s issues. There’s always going to be that person that wants you to magically fix them without them doing anything themselves. No lifestyle changes, no dietary changes, nothing. That’s mostly just heartbreaking though. But overall, owning this business has been a dream.

Then about eighteen months ago I began homeschooling my oldest daughter. She was in Kindergarten. How hard could it be? How much time could it take?

It has been an AMAZING experience. One of the absolute BEST journeys I have been on. There is nothing I can think of that I want more in this world than to be able to continue homeschooling my babies. It has been hands down one of the best decisions of my life. But, it takes a lot more than I had ever imagined. Time, attention, mental energy, worry, love, care… It takes a lot.

About six months ago I began homeschooling my other daughter. So now I’m homeschooling a first grader and a preschooler, working part time as a CNHP, and still fulfilling duties as wife, mom, maid, grocery shopper, chef… occasional friend, etc. You know, all the typical mom / wife stuff.

To complicate life further there is more to this. Endless thoughts, research, and discussions on what the next school year will look like. Not so much academically, but socially for my children. Our current set up is going through a transition, as things in a military town often do as we have a constant flux of hellos and goodbyes as friends are transferred in and out. Differing needs and desires are colliding with resources…

About eighteen months ago the Lord spoke to me very clearly that I needed to step back and simplify my life. I did. I cut out every social activity I had for myself (which was quite a bit). The only things I left in our schedule were related to my children’s schooling.

This time has been healing to me in ways words cannot explain. Without delving into too much detail I will relay as shortly as possible why. Prior to the command to simplify, “Live life less, so you can live life more” is what God told me, He had revealed to me that I had a core lie that I had been living life by. That lie being that I was unworthy, not good enough, etc. I learned that this lie had been plaguing every interaction I had ever had. I needed time and space for God to perform surgery on my heart. Remove the lies and replace with the truth.

Surgery is, as far as I am aware, mostly over. At least in reference to the lie that I am unworthy. Lord, YOU have made me worthy! Your love, Your sacrifice for ME has made me worthy!

Now, I am knee deep in recovery. Recovery takes time. Knowing that I no longer believe that lie about myself I have dabbled in “returning” to life as I knew it.

But then, the Lord spoke to me again. Just as in natural wellness we work toward bringing the body into a balanced state. We don’t help the body correct an imbalance and send you back out to return to living the same way you were, the same way that landed you with an imbalance in the first place. We educate and train on lifestyle changes. You cannot keep doing what you have always done and expect to have a different result.

If I, especially in this delicate state of recovery, return to life the way I was living it, I will return to brokenness. This is not the Lord’s will for my life. He has healed me and restored me so that I can live life HIS way.

He is commanding me to simplify again. But in a different way.

Life is fluid. Something that was good, and needed, and perfect for a season of our life, may not be what is needed for a new season. But, it’s letting go of those good things. The things we value, believe in, enjoy that can be the most challenging, even when the letting go is a command from our God.

As I stated above I have been working as a CNHP for two years now. Prior to that I began helping people in their natural wellness journey through a company that was a catalyst into this world for myself. Plexus was instrumental in restoring my wellness, as well as many others.

The Lord has instructed me that to continue my journey of healing, recovery, and wellness in my walk with Him, that His desire for me at this time is to let this part of my life go.

He already instructed me not to continue my education toward becoming a Naturopathic Doctor right now. That was so incredibly hard to let go of. But to now be instructed to give up my business? I have been holding on, fighting this, telling myself that that is NOT what He is telling me for months now. But, when the Lord wants to be heard. He will be heard. I cannot deny it any longer. I need to close my doors.

Live life less so you can live life more.

Letting this go is the first step. I hear Him speaking to me about what our life will look like next year. Right now, I still have too much noise in my head from not following through with His commandment with my business. I need to let this go, follow this commandment, so I can see the next step He wants to reveal to me.

He is radically changing our lives in this family. What I thought it would look like is not reality. My plans are not His plans. But I have seen, over and over, when you give it to Him… even if you are letting go of something that is good, that what He has in store for you is always better. Always exactly what you need.

*Note: I will continue my relationship with my current clients, but will not be accepting new clients. Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last couple of years. Your support has meant more than you can imagine.

Honey Coconut Oatmeal Granola

After trying recipe after recipe and buying various kinds from the local supermarket, I pieced together what I loved and excluded what I didn’t love about the all of the granolas I have tried over the years. This recipe is simple, easy, healthy, and quick with no added sugar! Hope you enjoy as much as I do!

Ingredients:

  • 3 Cups Oatmeal
  • 1 Cup Almond Slivers
  • 1 Cup Dried, Shredded Coconut
  • 1/3 Cup Ground Flax Seed
  • 1/3 Cup Honey (use local, raw honey if available). Alternatively you can use 1/2 cup pure maple syrup.
  •  1/3 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Raisins and / or Dried Cranberries to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix all the dry ingredients (except raisins / cranberries) together in a bowl.
Warm the coconut oil / honey together in a small pot on the stove until liquid.
Add the honey / coconut oil to the dry ingredients. Stir until well coated.

Spread granola out into an even layer on baking sheet.

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Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes. Return granola to even layer after stirring.

Remove and let cool. Once granola is cool transfer to a container for storage. Add the raisins / dried cranberries.

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I keep mine in my refrigerator and it lasts months!