What Did I Learn Through My Husband’s Stroke? – a devotional

Editor’s Note: This is a guest submission from Sheila Lloyd. Sheila’s husband had a stroke in 2014, and this is part of their story of recovery. Thanks so much, Sheila!

WHAT DID I LEARN THROUGH THE STROKE?  How I am more like Jesus because of this experience?

I WILL ADMIT, WHEN ONE OF MY EDITORS POSED THESE QUESTIONS TO me, I was at a loss.

So…as I am flying in a plane at 20,000+ feet, I will endeavor to dive into that question and see what happens.  Couldn’t pay me to strap on a parachute and jump, but then again, this kind of feels just as precarious.

Do I wish the stroke had never happened?  Yes!  And No!  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  And in the timeless words of Winnie the Pooh to his best little pink friend Piglet, “You are stronger than you think.”  Now, please understand that I am not trying to glorify myself or my own strength!  Sheila, in the flesh, had no bucket from which to draw water from the deep well of the life-altering trauma the stroke had brought into our lives. 

However, as 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says, “I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me…when I am weak THEN I am strong.  God’s power is made perfect in weakness.”

At this writing, we are 3 years, 2 months since the stroke.  We have traveled many miles–physically, emotionally and spiritually to the moon and back.  I have railed screaming, fists raised, at the heavens with the gut-wrenching wail, “WHY?!”  I have soaked my old carpet with tears wrought from an internal void I didn’t think would ever be filled.  I have looked out at the desert climate with eyes glazed over wanting desperately to go back to LBS (an acronym a friend lovingly tagged for “Life Before Stroke.”)  I have often wondered how we could continue living in this new reality.  Why did things have to change so drastically? 

And then, one day I realized that I was no longer just surviving.  We were no longer just recovering, or even the next phase, recuperating.  We were starting to live again, to dream, to laugh truly without the empty horror lurking behind the edges.  There is Life After Stroke.

There are still times when I wish Brian could be physically the big, bold, strong as an ox, football-player build of a man as he was before the stroke.  He still experiences deficiencies and weaknesses due to that blasted brain bleed.  The Lord has not YET fully restored his ability to play guitar or have the lightning quick reflexes normally contained in a functioning human hand.  Does that mean that I didn’t hear God about “full, complete restoration, better than new” in those first hours and days?  No!  One thing I have learned loudly and clearly: God’s timing is not my timing.  His ways are not my ways.  His thoughts are higher than my thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:10)  I believe now, as I have from the beginning, that the Lord could completely restore Brian in the fraction of a blink.  And He is. 

But it is a process to which Brian surrendered.   Numerous times I have had to surrender to the process as well. I have learned that the vows one says at a wedding ceremony can truly be put to the test through a traumatic health event.   Marriage is more than passion, financial agreement, success or even friendship.  It is a commitment.  And I’ve learned that when those stormy seas are navigated (only by the grace of God) the ensuing relationship is sweeter, deeper and stronger for having survived the battle. 

I’ve learned some things about myself, about God, and about others.

About God: He truly will never leave me or forsake me.  He is utterly and completely faithful and dependable.

About others:  We don’t really comprehend how people watch our lives, I think particularly those who claim to follow Jesus draw attention and inspection especially during crisis.  People in this world are desperate for hope. Desperate for truth.  Our stories can be used to encourage others in ways we will never know. 

About myself:  oftentimes in my life I think I’ve been characterized as a princess (and not the flattering meaning of the word.). Too often I have escaped hard work and have perhaps appeared as though I had more than my share of blessings.  But through this process I learned that when the rubber hits the road, true character comes out.  What my parents and God poured into me over the years came out.  I’m stronger than I think. 

For many years, my worst fear in life was losing Brian to death.  Now I know that regardless of what happens in this lifetime, my Jesus truly does hold me firm.  He will never let go.  Therefore, despite the moments when I don’t think I can continue to draw breath, I will breathe.  Because He is the very breath of life. He, not Brian, is my life, my sustainer, my Provider, my Hope.

HOW AM I MORE LIKE JESUS FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?

Wow.  I’d have to say the main character trait I see He’s developed in me is in the area of being a servant.  Not a doormat.  Not a slave.  But in considering others’ needs above my own.  Servanthood was not a badge I was desiring.  Except that Jesus desires it for me.  Commands it actually.

 I fail miserably. Often.  Repeatedly.  I serve at times looking gracious on the outside but seething on the inside.  Or I serve seething on the outside and whining on the inside.  Or at times I actually find that I am serving in joy.  Must be His joy.  Wow.  Ok.  Thank you Jesus. 

How could I actually even consider saying that I don’t regret the stroke? Because my husband has become an even more amazing man.  And who he is spiritually today would not have existed without that sub arachnoid hematoma which occurred July 10, 2014.   The journey we have walked has shaped us and allowed us to minister to others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) There are SO many experiences, people, insights, impressions, miracles, blessings, friendships, revelations we would have missed if this pathway had not been presented to us.

There have been hours of emotional pain, free-falling somersaults during which I felt like my heart was on fire ready to explode…or implode.  However, because I was able to face the grief, feel the pain and navigate the pain with the Lord, I’ve been able to enter into others’ grieving to offer an ear, a hug, or a prayer. This I see as an amazing gift gained.  Life isn’t fair, and it’s not easy.  Even as Christians, we are not promised a life without pain. (John 16:33). But we are promised an abundant life because Jesus overcame the world.  That means he overcame weakness.  And death.  And pain.  And grief.  And strokes. 

Sheila Lloyd, excerpt from her book, It’s OK! I Had a Stroke, released May 2019 on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Contact info: sheilalloydlive2@yahoo.com, Facebook discussion page titled, “It’s OK! I Had a Stroke.” Website: http://sheilalloydlive.com/
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Aint No Mountain High Enough

mountain

Aint No Mountain High Enough

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Lynare Pipitone. This is an amazing health testimony by Lynare today! God can move any mountain you have!]

I love looking at mountain peaks; from my window, while sitting in a comfortable recliner, wrapped in my favorite blanket. That was the scene in February as I relaxed into my usual morning routine of coffee with Jesus before I tackled the day. However, as I read my daily devotional a sentence jumped from the page and put a very definite check in my spirit. Prepare for a steep climb. I am teaching you a difficult lesson but do not be afraid. I am with you.

 I knew without a shadow of a doubt this word was for me.

The idea of some sort of struggle stayed with me all day. I was not prepared to leave my safe and comfortable mental state to climb a mountain. That night I wrestled with God. Lord, I complained, I am in no physical condition for a test or trial.  I’m too old for this. I can’t handle one more thing. I’m happy hanging out in the lowlands where I’m comfortable. 

I’m sure you get the picture. I was speaking out of fear. The next morning, I sat on the recliner, coffee in hand, and asked for forgiveness. I knew in my heart my savior and friend had my back. I began to memorize scripture verses to repeat each time fear tried to get the best of me.

“Don’t be afraid (insert your name), for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10(NLT)

February and most of March came and went. My husband and I planned a quick vacation and we were really looking forward to some R&R. I hated to tell him I made a visit to see my doctor because I was having symptoms that sent up a red flag. The doctor sent me to the hospital for a stress test. Sure enough, a cardiologist met me at the door and told me I had a blockage that needed to be treated immediately. He sent me home with Nitroglycerine and implicit instructions. Total rest until after a Heart Catherization.

The next few days were a blur. The images from the stress test conclusively showed a blockage that was confirmed by two other specialists. Because of my fatigue, breathlessness, and heavy pressure in my chest they scheduled the procedure right away. I immediately called for prayer back-up and thanked the Lord for letting me find the problem before I had a heart attack or stroke. I felt truly blessed and ironically not afraid.

We arrived at the hospital amid an unprecedented snow storm that hit the entire east coast the first day of spring. The surgeon explained that he would reach my heart through a main artery in my wrist and when he located the blockage they would use a stent to keep the artery open. I waved goodbye to my husband and daughter as the team wheeled me into the operating room. I trust you Jesus, I repeated in my mind.

When I opened my eyes, my husband was smiling. “You won’t believe this!” He said. “The doctor was amazed. He said for a woman your age your heart is so clean it was impossible to measure any plaque in your arteries!”  One scripture verse jumped to my mind.

“Nothing is too hard for the Lord.” (Genesis 18:14)

The surgical team called their mistake a “False Positive.” I call it groping for answers. I learned a lot so far climbing this mountain. I am confident that no matter what the circumstances look like I don’t need to let bad news throw me off course. Instead of stressing about things I can’t change I need to let the Word of God saturate my mind and emotions while I follow life’s path to my final destination. Ultimately, our lives are in His capable hands and we can trust God with the outcome. Do I think my climb is over? No Way! I am looking forward to the journey and reaching the summit.

Lynare Pipitone is a wife, mother, successful business woman and Real Estate investor with a desire to share her Christian faith. She became an author and blogger eight years ago to encourage other believers to finish the race God set before them with passion and purpose. Her work appeared in Grandparenting through Obstacles, a collage of true stories about the changing role of grandparenting in todays society.  She hosts an inspirational blog, Voices From the Wilderness, and is finishing her first novel.

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Healthy Lessons from Life

healthy

Healthy Lessons from Life

[Editor’s note: This is a guest story from Pam Williams. Hope you had a great Easter weekend. I think this is a great story for spring! Let’s get out walking and eating fresh food! PS the photo this week is by Pam, too!]

My Mom is the reason why I am aware of healthy eating and healthy living. If it was left to me, I would have made colorful meals with gummy bears, peppermint sticks and lollipops. My Mom would take the candy away and remind me how important it was to get my colors from fruits and vegetables rather than candy. I complied but back then, I thought candy was a better choice.

She also believed that walking every day was good. Never mind that my brothers and I  had train passes and could ride the train for free. She would help strap our backpacks to our backs and for five long miles we would walk the distance to our small school. I believe this is how I learned to count into the thousands. Everywhere, the sidewalk had cracks and I knew the number of each one. Number 4376 resembled a wiggly worm and was at the corner of Halsey and Broadway. I knew I had at least 5,624 more steps to go. This is how I learned to appreciate walking.

As a young adult I loosely kept to the rules taught by my Mom. Although, candy didn’t appeal as much to me as when I was a kid; cheese cake and chocolate cookies brightened my world. Don’t worry, though. I still ate zucchini and collard greens to stay alive.

The impact of these habits didn’t become clear to me until my older brother had his first heart attack. Even though he knew we were supposed to keep physically active, and eat green, yellow and red vegetables, he just stopped. Fried chicken and potato salad filled his plate but he didn’t know that the pressure increased in his heart and veins. Mix in other factors such as stress, and the perfect disease storm made its way into his life. He didn’t know that his heart was not as efficient as it once was. The exchange of fresh oxygen for waste material went sour. A heart attack. In my mind, this wasn’t supposed to happen. My parents were as healthy as oxen. No heart attacks should have ever enter our household. But I was so wrong.

Although I was heartbroken, the reality before me became clearer. I understood a little better the whys of healthy eating and physical activity. I encouraged my brother to do what we did as kids. Let’s eat right and keep moving. Unfortunately, the importance of healthy habits didn’t kick in and by the time my brother had his third heart attack and passed away, I was devastated. My family lost him because of poor lifestyle habits.

I looked back over our lives and started to understand more than I thought I could. Apparently the stuff that made these diseases may have been in our genes. By eating healthy and exercising, I could keep heart attacks, diabetes and cancer from developing in my body, or at least reduce the risk.

It took awhile for me to finally understand that God made our bodies and he made fruits, vegetables, grains and other foods to give us exactly what we need for the best health possible. It’s almost like a hand in a glove. I need fiber, vitamins and minerals to live and when I eat what God made, I get what I need to live healthy. I also get all the colors that help fight these diseases. These and other foods give me energy and when I walk or exercise, I use the energy to keep my muscles in good working order and keep my blood vessels as clean as possible.

Today, I am still saddened by the loss of my brother but I am also overwhelmed by the idea that when God spoke fruits and vegetables into existence, it would have what I needed to live. When I pray before a meal, I can imagine creation and get a little insight into what it means when God saw that vegetation, plants and fruit trees were good. (See Genesis 1:12) They are really good for life. I thank Him for my Mom, her God-given wisdom to exercise and for making plants to help me live. 

 

Pam has three passions and a quest. She loves to write about nutrition, health, and Jesus. She loves taking photos of people, nature and cityscapes. And Lastly, Pam loves helping others in the field of nutrition. Her quest is to go deeper in her walk with God. Each day, she explores her relationship with God through writing, photography and working with others.

Thanks for reading! Blog comments are closed. You can follow Devotional Diva on Facebook here, on Instagram here @devotional_diva, on Twitter here @devotionaldiva and email me, Maggie, at editor(at)devotionaldiva(dot)com anytime. If you’d like to join our email list to receive new posts, please follow this link.
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Unwanted Growth

Unwanted Growth

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Kathryn Boyd-Trull. I don’t have an editor’s note for this devotional…it really speaks for itself. However, I’d like to thank Kathryn for sharing her powerful story with us today.]

Bad news filled my ears:

 

“…tumor in your ovary”

“ Cancer markers elevated in your blood stream…”

“ another tumor even larger on your colon…”

“ You will need surgery.”

“ We may need to take everything out.”

“ You will forever be marked and changed no matter what.”

“ This started with you wanting a child, that won’t happen.”

“ Getting the bad out of your body is the only thing that matters.”

 

But…all the rest matters to me too, God.  Remember me the one who loves you.  The one you love.

 

There is a still small voice that answers, “you will have to have it taken out but it will not kill you.”  My thoughts circle and I ask myself, “Was that God or my own wishful thinking?” Time passes with doubt, pain, and more bad news.  I remember how this all started because I could see another child in our home.  I ask the doctors, “Can we freeze some of my eggs before we take everything out?”   The answer is yes, as long as we move quickly.  I must try.  I can hear the little one running through my house.

 

More bad news, “ We are sorry, none of the eggs survived.”

 

Surgery date arrives.  Consents are signed.

“We have your permission to remove everything.  You may die.  You may end up with a colostomy bag.”

Me: “Okay, where do I sign.” I can’t see the words through my tears.

 

God, do you see this? Remember me, I am the one who loves you.

 

Silence….

 

Surgery…darkness…pain…me screaming…darkness…sleep. Repeat.

 

Why is nobody talking to me? I can feel tears running down my cheek but I can’t use my arms to wipe them away.  The pain is too much.  They must have had to remove everything.

 

God, give me courage.

 

I hear in the background, “She’s crying.  Give her more medicine.”

 

Sleep.

 

Someone is holding my hand.  This makes the darkness feel less powerful.  I open my eyes.  My husband and girls are with me.  My husband says, “Did you hear the news?”

 

“No, I have heard nothing.”

 

“No cancer.  They took out your ovary, part of your colon, the other mass, and no cancer.”

 

I go home to heal from the surgery.  The days are filled with wound care, pain, and bleeding, but my heart is filled with gratitude.  I know I won’t have any more children from my body but I have life today.

 

God, why all this?  I don’t understand?

 

He answers me as He often does with a bible verse that He repeats during my healing days.

John 11 “Jesus your beloved is sick…Yes, I won’t let it kill her.  I will use even this to bring Glory to God.” Emphasis added.

 

God whispers to my heart, “You see I never left you.  I carried you.”

 

Kathryn Boyd-Trull lives with her husband and two children in Commerce City, Colorado where she is a medical doctor and works at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.  Katy founded a non-profit, YHC Clinic, providing free medical care to homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless.

 

 

 

 

 

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Social Anxiety & Judging Others

social anxiety and judging others devotional diva

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog by Melody Quinn. Welcome back, Melody! Melody is back today to share what I thought was an interesting take on social anxiety — if you have social anxiety, are you constantly judging others?]

Romans 2:1

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

I’ve been trying to visit as many Sunday School classes and plug into as many groups at my new church. It still feels new even though I’ve been going there for a year. My husband and I met with another group for the first time last month and just that one lesson sent my mind into a whirl.

The topic was bearing burdens, but over the course of the discussion, anxiety came front and center. The lesson leader was trying to explain how she deals with social anxiety and why it’s hard for her to share herself with others. I was slowly nodding my head in agreement to everything she said. Silent as usual.

But not everyone wanted to remain silent.

One of the other women in the group started firing questions at her until, finally, they stumbled upon something that really hit a nerve. “I’m just trying to understand. So you’re saying that you don’t open up to people because you assume that they’ll judge you, or they’re already judging you…so aren’t you doing the exact thing that you’re accusing the of? Aren’t you always judging others?”

The speaker paused. I saw several pairs of eyes around the room double in size, as I imagine mine did, and then there was a collective exhale. “Yeah, I guess, yeah. I do judge people.”

I felt that her admission was echoed silently by a half dozen other people.

It certainly stole the breath right out of my lungs. I know social anxiety intimately, and I know the feeling they were talking about. But I always chose to describe it with other words: suspicion, paranoia.

Not good thoughts to have, but only weaknesses.

With that one simple question, suddenly all of my excuses flew out of my mind. I saw so much judgment in myself, a form of sin that needs to be addressed. I’m talking about myself, of course, but I wonder how many other people have this problem. How do you address it?

I would say day by day, with a lot of prayer and growing self-restraint…and if you’re like me, those first prayers might be followed by an evaluation of every single moment that you might have reacted to others with judgment through your anxiety. Once you confess your “anxiety” about those past moment, put them behind you. Easier said than done, I know, but well worth the struggle. I pray that the same God who gives us the discernment in moments such as these keep us from stumbling over our mistakes, but give us the strength and the grace to keep growing and keep moving forward.

Melody Quinn is an associate editor for TouchPoint Press. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin in 2014 with a BA in English and Technical Writing. When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading YA and fantasy books, writing stories, cooking and baking for her husband, and playing with her guinea pig. She currently attends North Fort Worth Baptist Church. Her new blog is: anxietyfaithandgrace.wordpress.com

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How My Anatomy Class Taught Me About God

anatomy

anatomy

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Maddy Preston. I loved the science aspect of Maddy’s story today. We all need reminders from time to time that our body is wonderfully and beautifully made. Thank you for sharing your story today, Maddy!]

At the end of my senior year of high school, I stepped on the scale and discovered I was about 20 pounds overweight. Frustrated but unsurprised, I decided this needed to change and went on a fad diet, cutting out entire food groups in the hopes of feeling better about myself. While my initial intentions were healthy, the desire to become healthy quickly brought about a desire to be thin, and I launched myself into years of weight fluctuation due to strict dieting followed by periods of binge eating. I deluded myself into thinking that once I reached a certain weight, I would be satisfied, but 2 years later, I started my junior year of college 15 pounds lighter and every bit as insecure as I was when I first started.

I also started the year anxious. Anxious to take what most people consider the hardest class in my major—Human Anatomy. I had heard horror stories from my friends who had already taken it—spending every Friday night in the lab studying for the practical exams, failing tests they had studied so hard for, and passing out in the lab due to the smell of the preservatives and the sight of the cadavers.

But it was in one of my moments of anxiety that the Lord spoke to me. I was in the lab by myself one afternoon, studying the slides I would have to know for the quickly-approaching practical, when something in the atlas stuck out to me. It was about bone tissue, and how it has canals that transport blood vessels through the bones to provide them with nutrients. It hadn’t occurred to me that bones even needed a nutrient supply to begin with, but I realized then that God had designed every detail of my body to work together perfectly.

And I thought to myself, “Wow. God really knew what he was doing when he made me.”

This wasn’t the first time God had tried to tell me this. Over the past few years, he had spoken to me through friends, books, and pastors, trying to tell me this very fact. But I think it was in this moment, sitting alone in the lab, that I finally started to listen. And I kept listening. And he kept speaking. In that class, as well as in the physiology and biochemistry classes I took the following semester, I continued to learn about the biological processes occurring in my body that even the most experienced scientists couldn’t comprehend. My body did not exist for the sake of looking pretty. It was created by God for his glory.

Many times over the course of the year, I called to mind Job 38 and 39, when God responds to Job’s complaints by reminding him, without any sugar-coating, that He knows what He’s doing.

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding,” he says in Job 38:4.

Learning about my body made me realize that I, like Job, have no understanding of the ways of God. Where was I when God laid the foundation of the earth, or even the foundation of my body? Where was I when he designed every intricate, incomprehensible detail of how my body would work? And furthermore, how could I dare to complain about my body and determine its worth by how much it weighed?

My epiphany in the anatomy lab was a far cry from the end of my struggle with food and my body. In fact, at the time I was on another restrictive diet that provided a temporary state of emotional security before deteriorating into a year of overeating, weight gain, and even counseling. But I think God used that temporary emotional security to speak to me during a time He knew I would listen. I would have been so much less likely to accept that message had I been in a season of overeating and self-deprecation.

I’m still a work in progress. There are days when I am tempted to take my eyes off of our indescribable Creator and put them on my appearance, to ignore all he’s taught me. But he is faithful. And he reminds me so frequently of how glorious he is and how futile it is to criticize what he has created and called “very good.”

Maddy Preston is a senior at Wheaton College (IL) majoring in Spanish & Applied Health Science. She is from the northern suburbs of Chicago and enjoys walking the streets of Chicago and exploring its neighborhoods. She loves reading cheesy thrillers, watching NBC comedies, and doing anything & everything with her family.

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Infertility – Joy In The Darkness

joy in the darkness

joy in the darkness

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Naima Johnston Bush. Wow. This is an amazing story on infertility, and Naima has also blessed us with a song today! Thank you, Naima, for having the courage to share your story to spur others forward!]

I’ve been blessed to work with students and the Lord, in his infinite wisdom has given me a mother’s heart.

There are my college kids from the years I worked in higher education, who lovingly called me Momma, the kids from the youth group where I served as an adult leader who now have kids of their own. I’m so proud and honored to have played a part in their spiritual development. Watching them serve the Lord as adults has brought me tremendous joy. But recent events brought me to tears, made me a hormonal mess for the span of 48 hours. Why? 

I asked my husband if he was disappointed that we had no children after being married almost seven years, me pushing 46 and the doctors saying it’s too late. They say my recent diagnosis of liver disease won’t allow me to get pregnant nor carry a baby to term if I did. That beautiful man said no, of course he wasn’t, that God would simply provide our family through adoption.  

Which was always part of our plan, but when I examined the truth of the matter later on I realized what I was really asking was, are you disappointed in me, did I fail you as a wife and as a woman?  Childless women in the Bible were often ridiculed and frowned upon. It often feels like a mark of shame, this badge of barrenness I bear.

But that’s when Jesus whispers to me to take heart, my husband loves me because I’m me, not because of what I give him. That somewhere there is a child praying for me as hard as I’m praying for them.  There was joy in understanding that. In tears, there was hope and there was joy.

One of my kids had a beautiful baby recently and I thought, if these were really my children, I’d have over twenty grandchildren by now, twenty grandchildren, and here I am, arms empty, heart still breaking. But then I remember the ten years they cried out to the Lord for their child and how I loved them so much I couldn’t help but rejoice with them for this miracle! There was joy in that.

Bianca, my Chihuahua, has traveled the road with me for thirteen years of fulltime ministry.  Right there giving comfort, nuzzling me with that heart shaped nose, hogging the bed and making her appearance between Jon and I at the most inopportune times. Now the vet thinks she has cancer, and we need to decide on surgery or letting her go.
How do you cope when the one little creature who has been most like your child may be reaching the end of her days?  I grasped onto to the promise that God cares for man and animal alike, I rejoice that she is in no pain, still chewing bones, begging for treats and racing up and down hotel hallways. I trust that the Lord has this in control and how long she lives is decided by Him. So I spoil her, hold her close and spend more time playing fetch and less time chained to my desk… and there is tremendous joy in that. I believe, although I know some disagree, she will be there in heaven and I find explosive joy and great peace in that.

Finally, I was in covenant with three women, all of us childless, all of us praying for years that God would open our womb and bless us with a baby to call our own.  All three have had baby boys, like Hannah prayed for Samuel or Sarah laughed for Isaac, or Elizabeth gave birth to John in her old age. All, except me.

What do you do when you feel forgotten?  Like your prayers will never be answered and your life over the last eighteen months has been nothing but adversity?  

You rejoice that you still believe, you find strength in the truth that no matter how you feel, God has not forsaken you and you praise Him because somehow, in the midst of it all, you still love Him and want others to love and know Him as well.  You stand back in utter amazement, convinced Jesus Is Real, because you can still sing, and I find unshakable joy in that.

My prayer is that whatever is breaking your heart today, that somehow, God shows you… the joy in the darkest places.

Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. is but for a moment,His favoris for a lifetime;Weeping may last for the night,

But a shout of joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30 Verse 4 and 5

 

Here is Naima’s beautiful original song entitled, “I Sing for Joy.”

If you are reading in the newsletter, just follow this link to go to the blog and listen!

Dr. Naima Johnston Bush is an independent Christian Recording Artist, Author and Speaker on a mission to encourage women to live a Refreshing Life of exuberant joy, powerful prayer and sincere gratitude. She is the wife of Pastor Jon Eric Bush and travels fulltime sharing her music and ministry with churches, women’s groups, schools and various social and civic organizations. For more information visit: www.ministryofnaima.com

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Grateful for My Body

Leslie Uffman

Leslie Uffman

Grateful for My Body

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Leslie Uffman, who has an amazing fitness and body confidence story to share today! Leslie competed in triathlons (insert horror face emoji, then two “100” emoji’s here), but still wasn’t happy with her body. Read on for how she became grateful for her body!]

“LESLIE, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!” It was May of 2015 and I had been working toward this finish line moment since the summer of the previous year.  For anyone who doesn’t know what an Ironman is, it is a long distance triathlon that combines a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile (marathon) run in one day.  Words cannot begin to explain the excitement of finishing that event, but when I received promos for the race photos to remember it, I didn’t want to buy. Why?  I didn’t like the way I looked in my trisuit. . .

Leslie the Ironman! (photo provided Leslie Uffman)

 

I have battled with my weight since I was a preteen.  By fourteen, I was regularly discussing weight loss with friends.  I tried some pretty drastic things as I got older, including a lot of fasting and liquid diets, but I could only maintain that for a while.  Then I would shoot right back up to where I had been and usually a little beyond.  This pattern continued for years, and I only felt sort of comfortable with myself when I was on the low end of my weight cycle.

 

In 2011, I discovered how enjoyable triathlons could be after doing my first.  I fell in love with the sport itself, but honestly I thought that it would help me lose weight, because cardio does that, right?  As my distances got longer, I decided to go for a full Ironman.  While my weight had not dropped, I was still certain that with an ultra-distance race I would finally get skinny.  I didn’t. . .  I worked for almost a year leading up to that race, but long sessions left me so hungry that I was actually gaining weight.  So here I was, EXTREMELY proud of what my body had gone through to get to that finish line, but refusing to buy the commemorative pictures because I felt too embarrassed by my appearance.

 

I decided afterwards that I was going to get myself under control and studied exercise science to become a personal trainer and nutrition to become a health coach.  Although I now had head knowledge, I still wasn’t quite sure how to apply the things I had learned to my own lifestyle.  About this time, I discovered intuitive eating and Pilates.  Intuitive eating is about trying different foods, finding ENJOYMENT in them, and paying close attention to how they make you feel.  Pilates is a mind-body exercise that focuses on highly controlled movements from your core throughout your whole body.  When I did Pilates, I didn’t dread the workout, I truly enjoyed myself on the mat, and I almost immediately began the long process of becoming certified in it.  I still did some high intensity workouts but only when I felt like it.  I was loving how I felt, and yet, I still was continually frustrated with my appearance.  There was still something missing for me.

 

After over a decade of agonizing over every detail about my body, I finally realized, I simply wasn’t being grateful to God.  I mean, here I was, with a body that could travel 140.6 miles in a day but could also control the tiniest of movements on my mat, and I was dissatisfied?  God gave me this amazing vessel that could accomplish any challenge I had tried, and I was mad that it didn’t look a specific way as easily as I thought it should?  I am rarely sick and have never broken a bone, but I can’t stop thinking about my appearance?  That is not gratitude for being fearfully and wonderfully made.  That’s grumbling when things don’t go exactly according to my plan.  These realizations changed everything for me.  That’s not to say I can’t make some changes to my body if I want, but I look at it entirely differently than I used to, and I have a confidence that I’ve never had, even at my thinnest, because this vessel is a gift from God, and what it can do is truly amazing.

And by the way, I bought the photos. . .

Leslie UffmanLeslie is an online health coach and mind-body personal trainer with Santé Women’s Coaching.  She lives in Texas with her husband, and is not a fan of training outdoors during Houston summers.  She is a recovering chronic dieter who now actually enjoys a wide variety of food.  Leslie can be contacted through www.santewomenscoaching.com.

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Healing Your Mind and Body

 

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Healing Your Mind and Body

It’s impossible for us to go through life totally healthy. There are many things that stand in the way of that. Accidents happen, we go through mental health issues, and short-term illnesses crop up. So when you do experience a time when your body or mind isn’t at its best, you need to take a step back from your busy life to ensure you heal fully. Here are some ideas that can help you get back on track!

 

Give More Time To God

 

It is very easy to feel upset and frustrated whenever we get sick, mentally or physically. However, spending more time with God during your recovery process can help you deal with these upsetting feelings. When we are with Him, we are often more quiet and mindful. And this is exactly what our body needs to overcome its current situation. It doesn’t really matter how you plan on spending more time with God. You way want to spend more time praying at home. Or you could visit your local church more often. But by doing so, strengthening your connection to Him will help you through the whole healing process.

 

Seek Professional Help

 

If you are really struggling with any kind of pain, you should seek professional help from your family/primary care doctor. He or she will be able to prescribe you the right medicine you need to stop your pain and other symptoms. I’ve mentioned before that I struggle with migraines and it’s taking awhile to find the right treatment for me! If you are in a lot of pain, don’t wait to get help. Don’t be miserable. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist or physical therapist or advise you to get some protective clothing, like knee braces, if there is anything further that can help. Don’t shy away from professional help, as this can speed up your recovery.

 

Take It Easy

 

It is also important to take things easy if you’re sick or recovering from an accident. Your body will need a lot of rest and recuperation. If you are able to, see about taking a couple of days off work. Don’t go back until you are feeling 100% again. If you can’t take any time off work, talk to your manager or supervisor about your situation. They could help by reducing your workload. Try to clear your social calendar, too. Spend your free time relaxing at home and working on getting back to full health.

 

Be Mindful of What You Put In Your Body

If you want to be back to good health again, you need to focus on eating a healthy diet. I know that everyone always goes on about how important it is, but it just is. Try to cut down on sugar intake! And drink plenty of water so that you do not get dehydrated. Seriously, I feel so terrible if I don’t drink enough water. 

Hopefully, this has given you some healing health inspiration!

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A Poison Called Anger

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A Poison Called Anger

When I announced my pregnancy, I mentioned that I had recently gone through health issues that I wasn’t ready to talk about. I was still too angry and hurt at the experience that I felt any sharing I could do wouldn’t really be worthwhile. It would all just be, well, angry.

I’m one of those people that’s had a lot of health issues in my life — Nothing too serious, yet, thank God! I just always seem to have something going on. Well, a little over a year before I became pregnant, I pulled my hamstring in a freak yoga accident. I went through months of physical therapy to heal it. I couldn’t do my normal workouts during this time and it totally took a toll on my physical and mental health. Prior to the hamstring incident, I regularly practiced yoga, kickboxing and I was training for the Tinkerbell 10k at Disneyland.

I was healthy and happy!

After hamstringate, I gained about 20 pounds over several months. Not the worst, but my anxiety began to creep up as well.

My hamstring was healing and I was back training for the 10k when I ended up with shin splints and “stress changes” in my legs. My running gait had changed since my hamstring injury. My doctor wanted me to do more physical therapy and give up running. I got so depressed. I ended up not being able to do the Tinkerbell 10k. Even with physical therapy, there wasn’t enough time for training.

Literally the day before the 10k would have been, I got the worst pelvic pain of my life (it just was not meant to be!). I ended up being diagnosed with an infection. It was a months-long battle with trips to multiple doctors. The worst part of the whole thing, though, was this ER doctor. Not the months of pain, anxiety, or the unknowns…it was this doctor.

I had a recurrence of the pain on a weekend, so I called my OB/GYN. She wanted me to go to the ER to get checked out. My ER Doctor kinda berated me. I’ve never been treated so badly by a doctor before. She did her due diligence, I suppose, and examined me, but she quickly gave me a lecture on how overweight and “unhealthy” I was.

I was still only 20 pounds overweight and still only a few months off of healing from my injuries. Not to mention I’d been fighting an infection with severe pelvic pain and nausea, too. All of that was in my file. She never once asked me about my diet or any exercise. She just came in after my blood and urine test results came back and started in on me.

She told me first off I needed to lose weight.

“If you start exercising you’ll feel a lot better and you won’t have this pain.”

I told her that it’s actually pretty hard to exercise when you’re in a lot of pain.

“Well, maybe you’ll lose weight if you stop eating so much junk, right?”

She looked at me so condescendingly as if to say, “I have got you all figured out.”

At the time, I was in a lot of pain and I was honestly shocked (and confused) by her behavior and logic. I didn’t say much. I just said okay and waited for her leave.

I wished I had said a lot more.

So for months, I stewed on what I could have said to her. I could have told her about my injuries and explained the toll the they took on my exercise regimen. (If she read my file, she could have gleaned that two sports injuries meant I like to exercise.) I could have told her about what I actually ate. I could have told her how seriously wrong of her it was to assume I just ate “junk” and how unprofessional and downright cruel she was…and how messed up her logic was. 

I wanted her to know how wrong she was about me and how much she hurt me. Filing a complaint wouldn’t do anything. I wanted her to know. I needed to confront her. She needed to know SHE WAS WRONG.

But here I am now, about two years and a baby later, finally realizing that I didn’t need to say anything else to that woman. I behaved, in that moment, with grace instead of anger. Why should I look back and wish I had behaved with anger? That’s totally not what Jesus would do. 

She was wrong. I know that and that’s enough.

I won’t speculate on what had happened in that woman’s life or what was happening to her that day. But there was a reason she treated me that way. And that’s her issue, not mine. I don’t need to feel bad because I know my truth and I never betrayed my character. I treat others with respect.

Hopefully, since she’s a doctor, she does too. Hopefully my experience with her was an isolated incident or she’s dealt with whatever issues she had.

I’m glad I’m finally over that bad experience. Carrying anger around is an unnecessary burden, and next time something like this happens I’ll hopefully be able to let it go more easily.

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