A Year Of A New Journey

We looked at each other, and for the first time, we were on the same page, we knew our family wasn’t complete. 

But there was a big appointment looming, and we weren’t sure what the impending diagnosis would mean for continuing to build our family. 

We ventured to UT Southwestern and met with an MS Neurologist and he said confidently that I have MS. The only real question on our list was whether or not having more children would be wise or even an option. Before we got to our questions, he asked “are you done having children?” We said that we didn’t want to be, but would follow whatever suggestions he made. He began to tell us that many women cease experiencing their MS symptoms and it goes into  somewhat of a remission during pregnancy. He said go for it! (He also threw in that with my age, we should definitely get finished having babies. I gave him the stink eye. Not really, but I did remind Brady he’s older than me…it made me feel better). 

Our boys had no inclination that we had wanted to have more children, but they had started praying every night for a baby sister (this was well before we thought about pregnancy). At first I just thought it was cute, then graduated to wondering if they knew something we didn’t, and eventually I secretly started join their chorus in prayer (not necessarily a girl, but a baby). 

They have been praying over a year for a baby, before we decided to set out on the journey. Pregnancy had not taken a long while of praying for or working towards for us before,  so I really didn’t know what to expect. We spent the next next year (that appointment was in July) learning a little about MS, learning how to give me the injections, radically changing our diets, and trying to minimize my episodes. 

By May of this year, we had really started to believe maybe the Lord was working in our lives and hearts in a different direction that involved growing our family…because pregnancy tests were coming back negative. I decided to quit taking tests and we started discussing and praying about fostering and adoption. 

After our vacation, I felt different and so very exhausted along with some ill fitting clothes. Which very much frustrated me because I had been losing weight and had been on a strict eating plan for a year. Brady advised me to take a test just so that I would know I wasn’t pregnant (he was so adamant and really was trying to ease my heart). Lo and behold that test was positive! I cried. He sat down out of shock. I don’t remember being so overcome with joy the first 3 rounds (including our first angel baby) but I just think each pregnancy is very different and reflects different experiences and understanding.


I could hardly wait for the doctor’s appointment. Given the dates I had, I just knew I must be so far along. Every momma’s wish I suppose. But, the sono showed a heartbeat and 5 weeks 5 days. Pregnant FOREVER was my first thought. But I didn’t care. I had a whole new understanding and joy about pregnancy. Once we went back the next week and heard the heartbeat, we told the boys. There joy and happiness was indescribable. We videoed them (Drake has intuition and had asked a few questions the week leading up which is so evident of his deep understanding and connection to his parents, if you know him well, it’s so who he is and we love it!). He said “really? For real?” And Holt immediately jumped up and kissed my belly. 

This has been the easiest pregnancy so far. I feel great and it’s such a different experience from my pregnancy with both of my boys. I’ve had no MS symtpoms. We find out the gender next month and the boys pray every night the baby would be ready to be born now. They just can’t wait!!! We cannot wait to watch Holt become the only one in the house to be a big AND little brother. Drake has mastered the skill of sacrifice and sharing so we have no doubt will walk in that role and teach his little brother. 


A funny note, in true boy fashion, Holt somehow literally stained his hands. On picture day. Brady scrubbed and washed them to no avail. 


Manic Monday->Evernote Sanity


I shared a little last week about how I use my Happy Planner. I love pretty things. Pens, paper, stickers, decorating, etc. It’s time consuming sometimes. Sometimes I need to be able to jot it down while I’m on the go and I also need to be able to share information with my husband immediately. I also need a safe place in the techno world to save vast amounts of information that is shareable with other places in the techno world. 

My husband loves Evernote. He uses his for so many different tasks, parts of life, jobs, notes, etc that it’s like a living log of his life that will forever record everything about him. He sold me on Evernote. 

I have used it for everything from homeschool planning, task lists for my children to check off themselves, grocery lists, our budget, files for pictures of our children’s artwork (that we can then trash!), planning my business classes and parties, and a safe place to store functional ideas from Pinterest. It’s a one stop shop. All saved. 

It also has a handy feature where I can create notebooks that can be stacked and notes within the notebooks. Um, organizing junkie dream. 

If you haven’t looked into Evernote, there is a minimal version for free and I’ve survived on that alone for 3 years. It’s worth a shot! 

My husband utilizes Evernote so well, I decided it was a great place to share love notes! I created a note and shared it with him. He doesn’t have to keep up with cards and such, and I can post cute graphics to go along with my notes! 

We have some serious health issues, so we also keep track of our medical visits, tests, results, bills, etc in Evernote. 

It’s become a one place stop for all of our records.  

Here’s a screen shot of an overview list when I click on notes. I can save pictures, notes, links, etc. It also has an option to “pin” from the web!

Homeschool Nature Study

We’re starting something new. It’s uncomfortable to me but totally natural to my boys. It’s already creating conversations, helping them make connnections, revealing their natural curiosity and inclinations, and helping tie together all of our academic disciplines. 

We’re doing a nature study. 

Here are our resources! 

  
We are starting with a basic field guide. 

   
 
This website has been invaluable! We even signed up for a “pen pal” nature friend where will exchange items from their natural environment from somewhere in the world with items we collect from our natural environment! 

You can visit the site here at Raising Little Shoots she even has an ebook for a year long nature study curriculum!

We’re about to add geocaching to our study. I’ve downloaded the app, watched YouTube videos and found resources on social media! 

We made a trip to a local garden and flower nursery to start out hand at green thumb. My parents are incredible gardeners and I’m not. With these boys reminding me, I’m sure we’ll make a go of it. Spring is in the air and so is learning. 

How do you naturally learn with your children?

How do I find my voice

  
In a single minute we have more access to technology than many of our ancestors would even know what to do with much less care to utilize. I could look up the statistics, but that would be in direct opposition to what I’m thinking on today. 

I’ve seen several posts regarding national women’s day which have mostly included pleas concerning their own daughters finding their strength, voice, wisdom, etc. I don’t have a daughter, but I am a woman. 

I love people and learned how to do that from my husband (after deep conviction from the Holy Spirit that this is a main crux of the gospel). I don’t love as well as I would like and find myself frantic to invest into my children, be active and helpful for our parents (however, they’re honestly STILL doing this in our season of life more than I would have chosen), and to come alongside my husband’s endeavors whatever that may be (him being out after or before work to serve/minister, giving him time alone to rest and Sabbath-though he’s stubborn there due to his lively & passionate desire to be with us, pushing him to take time away with friends, etc). 

I don’t feel neglected or lost in my identity. I know Who I belong to for eternity and for whom I’m living here on earth. My husband is steadfast in ministering to me in so many ways–sleeping in (my love language), encouraging me to have a day for the boys to go to grandparents and I spend time alone (again, my love language) and so many other ways. 

Because sleeping and being alone are my (jokingly) love languages, I am hampered in building friendships. My new diagnosis (Multiple Sclerosis) has given viability to those loved activities (sleeeeeeep please) and anything alone to refresh. There is a take on energy called “spoon theory” and it is referenced by most chronic autoimmune disease sufferers (MS has been thrust into that category, though, like all things MS, still mostly unknown). It basically means you have only so many spoons of energy a day and you have to choose wisely how they are used for the day. Let me just say, on a rare day filled with fatigue, a shower and getting ready is pretty much ALL of my spoons (and it makes me so angry because I’m learning how this does not equate laziness but goodness it so FEELS like it). But, I’ve learned how to maneuver that and make it work for our life because I cannot slow down and won’t. 

Finding my voice takes energy. Finding my voice takes thought and action. I have preferred the written word for much of my life. Want to know what I’m thinking? May I send you an email? Some of my best friends have said “can you just call me?” Because I can text with you into the depths of my heart and you will get more of my soul than anyone on earth standing face to face with me. It’s a flaw for me, I know. It speaks to my heart when you’ll take my test conversations. I have learned that if I want to be loved by a friend understanding that I would rather text, I have to live by understanding they’re a verbal processor and I need to call them. This will land on the hearts of some of my people and make them think I never want to talk in person or on the phone, ever. That’s not true, this is how we grow in finding our voice. It’s not about me being heard. 

Finding my voice is about me growing and taking baby steps to be stronger. These same friends now text and let me process via text and allow me, in my own time, to call them! And I do. I’m much faster to pick up the phone now. It’s not about being awkward or uncomfortable like some of my introvert friends. I’m the most outgoing introvert there ever was and continue to enjoy being around and with people. But, I have a “recover time”. Anyone else? 

This is still my happy place. Writing. Conveying my thoughts, ideas, convictions (risky, given the absurd speed at which “opinion” travels and the backlash that can ensue before you can ask “I can’t have an opinion?!) and hopes, dreams, and fears. 

Scripture tells us the heart is deceitful above all things. I have a love/fear relationship with one of my giftings (prophecy). It prompts me to think beyond the heart and feelings (which is healthy) but sometimes keeps me in my head (my momma always said I had common sense ๐Ÿ˜‚) and out of my heart. It has proven to me that I must seek to be like Christ because a prophet sees the hard and real and sometimes misses the mercy and grace. 

Today, on national women’s day, I’m finding my voice by admitting that I have some serious steps to take in building deeper friendships. Our culture of women keep talking about “my people” and “my tribe” and though it sounds wonderful, I want to make sure mine knows I’m just as much a part of being honest and vulnerable in having a voice to share as much as I ask and wish from them. 

It seems ironic to say I’m going to talk and not just listen, but to reciprocate friendship I have to be known, too. It seems arrogant. I have wisdom that tells me many of my closest friends who know me and value me will be elated to know I’m ready to be known, too. I won’t just be asking the questions anymore. I won’t just be saying “I’m okay…how was that….the other day that we prayed about?” 

Finding my voice will be a work in process. When most of us process, we start where we’re comfortable.  I’ve started where I’m comfortable but it’s vulnerable and I’m trusting the Lord to move mountains in my heart and flesh. 
  

On being rooted like a tree

So many of my ideas really do start with good intentions. The threats of others opinions, fear of failure, distraction from more important priorities, and laziness are but a few of many excuses & road blocks to following through with my good intentions. 

As a senior in high school, I felt deeply motivated to follow through with my inquiries of others. If someone was hurting, confused, frustrated, lonely, or even on a mountain top high, I wanted to be the one to encourage their spirit. If I asked, I would continue to check in. If there was a need, I wanted to meet it and continue being a place of provision and comfort. I quickly learned that this wasn’t a task I could complete on my own. This was a learning curve in my walk with Christ, and my walk was a fresh one. I began a sanctifying (being very challenged and refined) process of understanding what it means to be like Christ as well as share Him. It was very uncomfortable. I started missing opportunities and letting people down. It seemed very ironic that in the midst of seeking the only Perfect man and pursing to be like Him, I would actually start feeling disappointed. There are an array of reasons why that happened (and still happens). I started seeing my own needs, and that really got in the way of meeting the needs of others because I began to feel caught up in my own shortcomings. The Lord told me on a few occasions to not meet needs, and that felt wrong, but He knew better. I learned that sometimes we meet the needs He reveals, versus the ones seen by our fleshly eyes. I had to learn that, because I was inadvertently becoming a crutch in the lives of those I was trying to help. I started seeing that walking like Christ and trying to be like Him required complete surrender. 

I think once I started to “master” (that is just such a human way to describe my misunderstanding) how to process through meeting the needs of others, I began to see serious insecurities and needs of my own. This process has continued and evolved. I will elaborate on that in a future post. 

Coming to a place of surrender has been a combination of learning spiritual disciplines as well as a life-giving lesson in standing firm. A wonderful aid (beyond my life-source itself::the Holy Bible) has been “Living by the Book” by Dr. Howard Hendricks, “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster, and 2 very crucial verses. One has always been a life verse for me 1 Corinthians 15:58 and a newer addition for me has been Psalm 1.

I hope you have a moment to look into Scripture today. Even if you read one verse, our hearts know how to tuck Truth so deeply inside that it will always be a place of trust, faith, and courage in Christ. Being rooted means we go much deeper than what appears on the surface. Plant your heart deep today in Truth and trust in the One who gives such abundant life that we won’t quickly wither. 

When I shared with my oldest son that I was learning to be planted like a tree, he told me he loved the trees in his grandparents front yard. So here is a picture of my boys looking very courageous ๐Ÿ˜

  

A Fresh Take

I rearrange. A lot. It keeps things fresh and new. However, it also usually creates a huge disaster that I barely finish getting cleaned up before I start another rearranging project/mess. 

With both of my boys having birthdays in November  before  Christmas, I knew we were about to have an onslaught of new toys. It was time to purge and redistribute. 

I purged and purged our school things and toys. I loved several things to their bedroom and decided it was time for the play room to be school room too! I wish I had before pictures of the 2 areas we combined, but I’m not sure you could imagine it anyway. 

Here is our playroom and school room. 

  
    
    
 
One pic of how I managed to pull EVERYTHING out and use every piece of organizational tubs and storage we own ๐Ÿ˜‚

  
So it’s not this clean anymore, but we had room to add in new toys and have to make adjustments before Christmas. But it’s our place!

Inspiring Christmas

We had a Christmas open house for our church leaders & volunteers.  It was a good time to freshen up & change some things in our home. We had chocolate brown walls, and I’m kind of shocked at all of the “oh I loved your brown wall” comments we’ve received. However, the following comments are usually “but I do love this new color!”. Our first change was a new color for the front room! 

   
   
Then we moved and updated our “S” wall. It can’t really called that because I only returned one “S” and made it more of a Christmas wall this time. 

   
 
Next, we put our IKEA picture ledges back up but I went with more Christmas decor instead of pictures. Also, I added some festive banner and garland!

  
I still have a few things to add. 

I had purged and given away so much that this hand built (by my talented husband) furniture was completely empty! So it was fun to temporarily decorate with Christmas duds!

  
   
   

Adding to the mantle is always a delight! I change it up every year. 

   
 
   

These and are handmade stocking that my mother in law helped me create a few years ago. They are still a treasure to me ๐Ÿ˜
 
I updated a beautiful shelf as well as created memories with my boys while we assembled our Nativity. 

   
 
And last, but not least, our front windows and tree!

  
   
 

A Celebration of Handmadeย 

 

 I have to share these adorable shirts my boys are show casing here. 

There is a delightful vintage mercantile in downtown Wichita Falls, TX called Alley Cat. I have some beautiful handmade items left over from our sale this summer that were donated for our sale with the prayer we would raise some money to help with out medical bills. We did make a lovely dent in those bills, but could continue to use funds. I envisioned this sale based on my MS diagnosis and continual tests and medicines required. This sale happened before my husband’s diagnosis and surgery for his ankle even happened so we have used those funds, thankfully with God’s provision! 

So I paid a small booth fee and set up all of my items at Alley Cat! While I was walking through the 4 stories of antiques, handmade, & vintage delights, I came across a shop called “little h creative”. Oh my stars. These shirts were among the goodies. Prints, sewn items, shirts, galore. Go check her out on Instagram and Facebook!  I love having Christmas shirts for my boys that are easy and not over the top dressy. And they love dressing like some of their favorite young adults at our church and on our staff ๐Ÿ˜‚

little h creative https://www.facebook.com/littlehcreative/

The Way of Lifeย 

I have several of the kindest & most thoughtful friends & family. 
One text me yesterday afternoon & said ok, what CAN you eat ๐Ÿ˜†

She showed up at my house today with all kinds of “compliant” flours, cooking oil, she even read labels and found me a few snacks! 

We went to pick up my nephew yesterday and all the boys had ice cream. My mom handed me a snack that I could have that she sought out when thinking of me at the store. 

I just think it’s incredibly loving to think of someone in the midst of your every day life. I love giving & receiving gifts and sometimes feel guilty that it probably SEEMS somewhat materialistic to others. It’s not. It’s how God created my heart. This also reveals that it doesn’t have to be riches. A gift can be an item that meets a need or tells someone “we’re in this together”. 

My husband’s gift has been texting me when he’s eating out and telling me what he’s eating—because it’s only things I’m eating also. His gift is walking this out with me. 

  
Book here 

This is our new way of life. My doctor said no gluten, no dairy, and check out the autoimmune diet. He didn’t prescribe it or demand it. When he said those words, I resolved that I was going to do this and I was going to do it now. I wasn’t going to wait until I was really sick and then have to rely on my husband or parents or friends to make this diet work. 

A small part of my deceitful heart wishes I had made that decision once I knew more about this diet! Some of you have asked, I’ve recieved messages offering recipes, and even a lot of offers for supplements, etc. the doctor’s other request was that I not use anything to ramp up my immune system. Since its attacking me, I probably shouldn’t fuel its power. So I will decline any offers concerning those things at this time, but might look into it in the future! 

So the autoimmune diet is paleo on steroids. Well, it’s paleo extended.  A very small rundown is this::

No grains, no dairy, no night shades (vegetables that create a protective skin like potatoes, tomatoes, peppers) and any spices derived thereof (cumin, paprika), no eggs, no caffeine, no beans, no nuts, no legumes, no soy, & no sugar (no guar gum, etc), no seeds (you would be surprised how many purely organic items contain sunflower oil from sunflower seeds!) 

There are several wonderful resources (thankfully we all now have blogs & Pinterest!) that I’ve been accumulating while we purge our pantry & accumulate the foods we can eat.  We are still maintaining the way of life we’ve had for the boys, for now. They will ease into it as they eat our meals and continue to put away the fruit they love. As I learn to not only cook these meals from scratch, I’m also learning to just….cook. I have a few snacks but if we want any type of dessert or sweetness, it takes work. 

I know many of you have radically changed your diet a long time ago. I’m sharing this with a broad audience who has asked me, personally, about my new diet. The idea is to complete this for 30 days and slowly reintroduce items. I’ve already accidentally eaten cheese and it didn’t go well. 

As I purged our pantry, my best friend and husband told me “now we can eat what we need and not what we want”. This has been the most emotional, educational, convicting, and eye opening experience. When I have  changed my diet because I wanted to be healthier, lose weight, etc I feel like I’ve failed or even had success but it was flippant because it was my choice. This has been hard because failure isn’t an option in my heart. Making a. Is take isn’t a choice (like if you’re allergic to a food! You have a reaction and know that food WILL hurt you). The impending “what if this food is hurting my body” looms in my mind and heart and calls me to a rich awareness of my responsibility. 

I’m a steward. God has entrusted much to me. The first time I really evaluated stewardship was when I had my first son. He is not MY possession. He’s entrusted me by the Lord to disciple, care for, nourish, enrich, and love. The same is true with anything entrusted to us. 

I’m not sure why He chose a disease at all or much less one that could potentially tear body down (praise the Lord I’m fine right now!) but I do know He has given me salvation and with that salvation comes an eagerness and immediacy to know Him more. To know Him more is to become more like Him. To be like Him is to take whatever trial and offer the heartache and glory back to Him as a sacrifice. Not my will be done, but His. If His will for my life includes crazy food that I’ve never wanted to try or cook, but means I might extend the quality of my life to enjoy and be a support to my family longer, I’m in. 

Jesus, I’m all in. 
To know more about this diet, visit The Paleo Mom here! It’s a great resource where she explains the extension of paleo and why for autoimmunity. 

A “New Normal”

IMG_4126I keep hearing those words. I’ve heard those words since January 2012. If you know any of our story, you know my husband was admitted to the hospital (twice) in Jan of 2012.  He had excruciating abdominal pain. Isn’t that like the worse symptom to head to the ER for when you’re looking for serious answers? They did EVERY GI test that’s ever been administered. I’m. Not. Kidding. He swallowed a pill that had a CAMERA in it…incredible technology we have these days. Not quite incredible enough to actually find out what was wrong with him for a while or to bring him any relief. Fast forward…they did find some thoracic disc issues. Big ones. Turns out, no one will do surgery in your thoracic spine (or really even do much for you…ahem…Mayo Clinic…yeah-expensive and unproductive trip). So his discs cause radiating nerve pain to his abdomen. Who knew…I wish we didn’t.

But do you know what he preached about today? (That’s what he does…he’s a pastor. More than that, his life calling and career is about loving people and MY GOODNESS he does that SO well). He discussed what a disciple is and looks like.

1. Humiliation

2. Adoration

3. Education

The absolutely most attractive thing about my husband is what also challenges me to the core of my existence. He is the most humble person I know (and I’m going to hear about this post because, although he’ll appreciate the words of affirmation, he’ll be too humble to deeply enjoy all this doting).

I nearly melt into a puddle of tears and conviction when I think about the countless conversations, trips to serve, & selfless ways he continues to love others and our family so passionately. He just wants us to know Jesus. To love Jesus. And to become more like Jesus.

The challenge at the end of the message today what to look to these areas and really ask what is keeping us from experiencing these 3 areas full on?

It was so easy to just say “humiliation”-yep definitely need more of that. Then I thought, “really? you love JESUS enough you don’t need some adoration?”. Okay, got it…I could love Jesus more. Then, in a convicted, yet full of grace, mess…I thought, man, I need to KNOW Jesus more and know more of Him.

The last….well, I was going to say 6 months, but being completely honest, the last 3 years have been the most physically demanding and challenging years of our lives. So along with medicines, injections, blah blah blah that he has tried in order to heed doctors (and his loving, encouraging, and never nagging wife’s) suggestions he has also been hospitalized for rabdomyolsis in October 2013 (I’m not even googling that spelling!) which we have NO idea how that came up (they actually said it was an unknown virus that his body couldn’t kick but the symptoms were too similar they kept calling it “rabdo”) and kidney stones this last spring. He has been THROUGH it. You wouldn’t know it though. The man never complains and works his tail off and never shows weakness or frustration.

In December of 2014, I was hospitalized for the loss of vision in my left eye. I know! Who knew that would send you to the hospital?! Well, turns out I needed a STIFF dose (okay a LOT of stiff doses) of steroids through an IV). I was in there through Christmas and I missed my grandmother’s funeral. Totally lame and such a bummer. There were comments about this being a “classic sign of MS in women your age”. I definitely kicked that to the curb. NOPE. I do not have MS. That sounds serious and like a lot of work and like a lifetime of fighting. I am not signing up for that one!

This picture was taken in the hospital on Christmas Eve when my thoughtful husband brought garland, twinkling lights, a mini tree and my Christmas present to the hospital room to decorate for Christmas.

IMG_0935

So, I get out of the hospital, totally filled to the rim with steroids (that will mess you up!). When I came down off of those, they wanted to do a spinal tap (lumbar puncture they call it to trick you so you don’t think it’s the same). Well, I wasn’t hydrated enough and it took HOURS and was terrible. Then I had the worst headache of my life for 5 days. (side note, this is when I became SOLD on essential oils because peppermint essential oil saved me from a blood patch being the end of the road for that spinal headache!)

There were MS markers but the neurologist wasn’t confident giving me a diagnosis yet. And, like I said, No thank you! I don’t have MS.

So I rock on for a year with no episodes (so I thought). In February of this year I lost vision in my left again. It was only for 2 hours but my husband turned the tables on me! Ahhh..changing the rules and the game. He told me to call the ophthalmologist. Yes sir :/ So I went in a few hours later (vision returned) and his full eye exam showed everything to be fine. Awesome! He told me he was making an appt with my neurologist. NOOOOOOO. My heart knew where he was going with this.

Wouldn’t you know the Lord works…He knows when He’s handing us something hard. But He knows us so intimately that He sets His plans into motion in such a way that it’s manageable for our hearts so long as we find our hope in Him. He knows what He’s placing before us will rock our world…that will break our hearts….that it will take us deeper than we’ve ever been before….and that it will cause us to come to our knees. However, in the midst of allll of that heartache, He is gentle and compassionate.

So in the few weeks between my eye exam and my neurologist appointment, I lost feeling on my right side. I continued to deny what I really expected to be coming. I mean, isn’t it TOTALLY common to lose vision or lose feeling in your limbs?!? Turns out, nope, it’s not normal.

Neurologist orders MRIs. Brain, neck, and thoracic spine (I’ve learned a LOT about those taking care of my husband!) The MRIs took sooooooooooo long (3 1/2 hours) without contrast that I wimped out (well, later found out that amount of time is SO not normal!) and had to go back for MRIs with contrast.

I have a few more symptoms waiting on appt to hear results of MRIs. I laugh at them, again, thinking…eh, I’m 33. Things are just going a little downhill?!

Follow-up::he takes us out of the exam room and into his office to show up images on a computer. Then he spews the word “lesions” which I’ve only heard from precious cancer patients. He says, this is definitely MS.

I do what I always do, by God’s grace. “okay Lord-you’re in control. this is going to be hard but you’re going to use it and it’s going to bring your glory and it’s going to help me help others cope with their experiences and life circumstances”

He offers to refer me to UT Southwestern and we say Yes Please!

I CONTINUE to act like we’re still working towards answers until my visit 2 months later at UTSouthwestern.

We visited with an incredible doctor. He explained my MRI images to me and even found more issues in my spinal cord that had not yet been seen/discussed. He told us that this disease is not curable and it’s not predictable. He said if we wanted to extend our family that pregnancy is great therapy for MS (something about what happens in the body during pregnancy and the hormones) and that now is the time especially for my age.

Then he said “gluten free, dairy free, and look up the autoimmune diet”. So, by look up, I started with Pinterest. My husband said, “I’m all in”. We immediately stopped drinking Dr. Pepper (just typing that I want one right now). We’ve been on this protocol for 9 days.

Speaking of that adoration of Jesus is a sign of a disciple, my newest prayer is that I would hunger and thirst after Him like I long for some of the foods that our diet doesn’t allow for right now. I am not a picky eater (which is the only way I’m surviving this diet), but when you go to a movie….no soda and no candy and no popcorn. Food is so much a part of our experiences and pleasures. I have told my husband for so long that I don’t LOVE food, but I tell you one thing, I love CONVENIENT food! I wish I could say this was at least saving us money, but what we haven’t spent eating out we have spent 3 fold on expensive healthy alternatives to help me cook from scratch so that we can have one morsel (oh … a morsel… a chocolate one….haha) of something savory and comforting.

I long for my heart to crave Jesus as much as my brain is craving a delightfully non-AIP meal or drink right now.

My normal is shifting quickly as I recognize that my meter for loving and serving Jesus has been off kilter. My normal is shifting as I realize I have limitations that are new and painful and, if allowed by the enemy, will steal my joy from what beautiful blessings I’m here to enjoy today. My normal is shifting as I hurt because I would rather care for my husband than hear myself whine about my diagnosis or this uncomfortable diet. My normal is shifting because…there is no normal.

Our lives have crashed into a yucky storm of chronic pain & autoimmune disease and we are content that He’s in control and He loves us.

It doesn’t mean I don’t cry sometimes for fear of what the future may hold and my husband wipes my tears and reminds me “don’t borrow trouble”. It doesn’t mean that I don’t ask him how his pain is today and try to find an essential oil or an ice pack to help ease the remainder of his pain. It doesn’t mean that we don’t work so very hard to love others and serve them fervently to help ease a little of the selfishness that the enemy tries to wrap us up in on a daily basis. Most of all, it doesn’t mean that we don’t love each other so deeply and richly because Jesus is that to us—and we look at each other when our boy ask to do something that we’re pretty confident may wear us out/hurt us to the brink….but we don’t care because we trust the Lord and we LOVE our boys and their memories! We desperately long for their memories to be filled with a momma and dadda who fought hard to be with them and to enjoy life with them.

Normal doesn’t exist. Humiliation, adoration, and education are where it’s at for a believer who wants to be like Jesus. In those we find His grace to pour into us who and what Jesus was….LOVE.