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?


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.


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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Doctors and Infertility: the lost conversation

the lost conversation

Doctors and Infertility: The Lost Conversation

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Kacy-Ann. I have not had a lot of writers talk about infertility, and it’s such an important topic on its own. However, Kacy-Ann has a special story regarding infertility to share today. Thank you so much for sharing!]

I was introduced to pediatric cancers because of commercials like St. Jude’s, and I knew about cancer in older adults because I witnessed it up close and personal with my own grandmother—but cancer in young adults was something that seemed to be far and few between—when in reality, it wasn’t. As a matter of fact, nearly 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer each year. So, I have to wonder—why didn’t I know that young adult cancer was an actual thing until I became a young adult—with cancer.

Baby Talk

When I was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014, I was told that my treatment would be extremely aggressive—because the cancer was—and I would likely lose my ability to bear children. Having a kid was probably the farthest thing from my mind, given the circumstances. I never really even thought about it as an option for the near future. I had a boyfriend—not a husband, and was in no way certain whether I even wanted kids or not.

Unfortunately, however, I wasn’t granted any leisurely time to think about it or make a pros and cons list—and the clock didn’t stop ticking just because I wanted it to. The cancer was spreading fast and if anything regarding fertility was going to be done, it had to be taken care of before treatment began—so a decision had to be made quickly.

With that in mind, I knew that whether I had kids or not was going to be my choice and not my cancer’s. If that meant adoption or something else, as long as I survived, no illness was going to take that possibility away from me. So, I met with my oncologist, Dr. Feldman, and was offered several alternatives ranging from egg storage to counseling. Counseling came later.

Egg storage was the option that I decided upon and it came with a pretty hefty price tag. As a matter of fact, I was given a week to come up with roughly $20,000 to undergo the procedure. Thankfully, through generous contributions from my family, my church, and Livestrong fertility, I was able to collect enough money to have several of my eggs stored away for a rainy day.

That whole situation was very challenging, difficult, and awkward for me, and I will admit that the ultimatum of ‘store eggs or never have kids’  given to me by my doctor was not something that I ever wanted to hear. Looking back, though, I am actually very grateful that she was so straightforward with me.

Many people aren’t as fortunate to have a doctor who forewarns them of life’s possible challenges beyond cancer treatment. In fact, I know people who said that their oncologist didn’t even mention the possibility of egg or sperm depletion or infertility—and now they are dealing with the aftermath.


Anyone who receives strong doses of chemotherapy is at risk of long and short term side effects. However, loss of fertility is a specific front and center issue for young adults. A pediatric patient isn’t necessarily thinking about having kids in the next 5 years and an older patient is more than likely past their childbearing years or has already established their family— so these groups have different sets challenges that are unique to them.

For this reason, it is extremely necessary for doctors who treat young adults for cancer, to offer any available information for family planning. Although the information would just give options and not guarantees, it still allows the patient to feel like they have some control over at least one thing during a time when they’ve lost control of so many others.

We all understand that the oncologist’s job is to kill the cancer at any cost, but the quality of life beyond these harsh treatments should also be considered. It’s possible that a lot of men and women would have opted for a different type of treatment plan had they known the full extent of what the potential outcome could be.

Be Encouraged

To those who are dealing with infertility, you don’t have to give birth to be a parent. You still have options. If you have a desire to be a mom or a dad, don’t let cancer win.

I don’t know if I can have my own biological children or not, but I am still hopeful that if I decide that I want to be a mother someday—and it is a part of God’s plan for my life—it will happen somehow. I’ve learned that things may not go according to our original plan and we may have to find alternate routes to get to our destination, but as long as we have faith, we can still get there.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deutoronomy 31:6

Kacy-Ann is a millennial, newlywed, blood cancer remissionista (her word) who is passionate about God, family, success, and living a serene life. She recently relocated from the east coast to the midwest and is a personal blogger and freelance writer for hire. When she is not writing about the power and beauty of women on her blog, Surelyoucantoo, you can find her out exploring places with scenic views, somewhere with great music playing, or reading a good book whilst sipping on a cup of oolong tea. Blog – www.surelyoucantoo.com Business page – www.kacy-annvalembrun.com

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Healthy Boundaries, Healthy Soul

healthy boundaries

Healthy Boundaries, Healthy Soul

[Editor’s Note: This is a guest story by Jehn Kubiak. Healthy boundaries are so important in this rushed world we live in. P.S. Happy Independence Day to US readers! Take some time off and relax!]

I became a walking skeleton after stress literally ate me alive last year as a Biola University student. My already-thin body dropped about 35 pounds within nine months and went from three meals a day to one––a cup of soup and a banana or a protein bar and a smoothie. Doctors constantly became amazed at the fact that I wasn’t hospitalized, and I only have God to thank for that.

After three therapists, four doctors, and a long recovery process, I finally became physically healthy again. However, I still struggle with Panic Disorder at times and feel like I constantly lose control over even the most minute things.  My family and friends constantly repeated one word that remains forever imprinted on my mind: boundaries. However, it took me a while to truly listen to their advice.

On my 21st birthday, my parents sat down and told me I needed to set boundaries for my last undergraduate semester. During the previous year, I took on way too many responsibilities: three jobs, an unpaid internship, wind ensemble, and freelance writing. They asked me to prune certain things from my life, such as work hours, and I did reluctantly at first.

This past December, my dad recommended Soul Keeping by Jon Ortberg, who explained how an overly busy life can severely damage one’s soul. Plus, I took a Spiritual Formation class at Talbot, where I learned how Christians often believe that they must do everything with excellence in order to please God. However, that class helped me understand that, while God wants us to do our best, he also doesn’t want us to become perfectionists. Otherwise, we idolize results instead of truly serving God, and then we push our limits.

I found this was very true of myself because I always thought I was not glorifying God with the gifts he gave me if I didn’t do everything with 100 percent effort. Therefore, I often worked until my body literally felt stretched to the limits, as if someone stretched it out with a taffy puller.

Now that I’m a graduate student at the Talbot School of Theology, I finally learned the importance of setting boundaries: I’ve decreased work hours, set apart time for rest, spend more time with people, and don’t obsess over my coursework. If I feel like napping one day, I lay down instead of powering through yet another assignment. If I need a mental health day, I take one instead of letting my Panic Disorder get out of hand. I no longer need an A plus in every class––an A minus is good enough.

I shared the story of my sickness during a cohort retreat for Talbot, and my group members told me something I will never forget––”God says you’re not done resting yet.” As a result of the material I learned in my Spiritual Formation class, God revealed something very astounding––my physical illness was a manifestation of a spiritual sickness. My soul was sick, so my entire being became sick.

Now that it’s the end of the semester, I can see how setting boundaries ultimately helped my soul. I used to always feel nervous and couldn’t look anyone in the eye because I feared people would see through my tough facade. However, now I have days where I feel at peace––I’m not quite at the point where I feel consistent peace, but I no longer feel like I’m consistently falling into a sinkhole I can’t climb out of.

Perhaps this is why, in Matthew 6:19-21,  Jesus cautions his listeners against overvaluing earthly treasures––even “good” material things, such as productivity, never fulfill the soul because they’re temporary. I once treasured work above my well-being, and that nearly cost me my life; I hardly ate due to my busy schedule, so I dwindled down to 92 pounds and was almost hospitalized.

After enduring these health struggles, I finally understood why Ecclesiastes is my favorite book of the Bible. Most people hate it because Solomon’s words seem so ambiguous, but upon a close read, one can uncover a valuable message. Solomon reminds his listeners that work done to the point of vanity only results in misery. He says,

“What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? Generations come and generations go,  but the earth remains forever” (Ecclesiastes 1:3-4).

Work is not bad, but an obsession with work is.

Boundaries and balance are crucial. God values hard work, but he doesn’t want us to work so hard that responsibilities consume our souls, making us burn out and unable to function. As the adage goes, “Work hard, play hard.” Down-time is just as crucial as productivity. Those of us who are overachievers must learn to say “no” to unnecessary things and find moments of rest throughout the day. Work does not define worth in God’s eyes.

Jehn Kubiak is a Biola University journalism graduate and current pastoral care and counseling major at the Talbot School of Theology. She is a San Diego native who enjoys distance swimming, coffee, dogs, and painting. She loves researching and writing about people, sports, activities, and more.

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Aint No Mountain High Enough


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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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.




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.”




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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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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A Poison Called Anger


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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Cross Over

devotional diva christmas

[Guest Post by Rayni Peavy. This post is a part of the 2015 Devotional Diva Christmas series entitled, “Extraordinary Christmas.” It was originally published on Devotional Diva in 2012.]

I’d never been afraid to fly. From the time I was a baby I’ve been flying on a regular basis. Even flying across the country a few months after 9/11 didn’t scare me because I trusted God with my life.

And then it happened.

Several years ago, out of nowhere, I began having anxiety attacks. Unfortunately two of them came back to back on a long plane ride overseas. It was a traumatic experience, to put it mildly. From that moment on stepping onto a plane was a trigger for extremely high and almost unbearable anxiety.

But, I have found that when I trust God and lean on Him, who is the only One truly in control, there is no room for anxiety.

On each intensely anxiety-filled flight I took after the “fateful” flight overseas, I asked God to come into my feeling of anxiety and dissipate it…to take it away.

Guess what?

Every single time He did it.

Sometimes I had to ask more than once because I was so worked up, but God has always been faithful to meet me in the midst of my anxiety and remove it. Because of this I know without a doubt that God will not fail me. Ever. But even with those victories I still had intense anxiety when approaching a flight.

I wanted the anxiety to be gone for good.

And then the Washington trip came.

The thought of having to get on a plane made me want to crawl into a hole and hide out. Forever.

My boyfriend Joel (now my husband) and I had plans to fly to visit his family. I wanted to cancel the trip…but I knew I had to go and that God would go with me. So I asked God to completely deliver me from this flying anxiety once and for all.

God requires our faith to have an action step.

I likened it to the Israelites in Joshua 3. God wants to lead them into a new place, but in order to get there they have to cross through the Jordan River, which happens to be in flood stage at the time. Minor detail, right? God tells Joshua to have the priests (who are literally carrying the presence of God in a box called the Ark of the Covenant) to take a few steps into the river and then He will make the flooding stop so all of the Israelites can cross to the other side.

“Now it was harvest season and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water began piling up at a town upstream…Then all the people crossed over near the city of Jericho. Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the Lord’s covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbed as the people passed by them…until everyone had crossed the Jordan on dry ground.” (Joshua 3:15-17)

I love that it says that the people crossed over on dry ground. Not wet, muddy, soggy ground.

Dry ground.

As I walked toward the plane bound for Washington, full of anxiety, I asked God, as soon as I took the first steps onto the plane, to “pull the waters” of my anxiety back so I could “cross over” through the flight on dry ground.

And He did!

Two flights. No anxiety on either one. None. Coming from where I came from, that, my friends, is truly a miracle.

God’s deliverance!

What are you struggling with today?

God desires to meet us in the midst of every large and small burden we experience. Invite Jesus into it and ask Him to deliver you. Sometimes the journey is scary or painful but God’s deliverance and freedom are worth every step! What’s your story?

Over the past 15 years Rayni has discovered that nothing is better than knowing Jesus! She has enjoyed working at churches on the East and West Coasts as a Bible teacher, mentor to young adults and an event coordinator. In her free time Rayni likes staring at the ocean, exploring new cuisine with her “foodie” husband and learning to speak French. You can read more on her website www.RayniPeavy.com and follow her on Twitter.


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[Guest Post by Heather Von St. James. This post is a part of the 2015 Devotional Diva Christmas series entitled, “Extraordinary Christmas.” It was originally published on Devotional Diva in 2014.]

Fear – we’ve all faced a form of it at some point in our lives.

I’ve learned that your fears don’t define the person you are, but rather how you deal with them. Humor is the way that my husband Cameron and I handled one of the most terrifying and trying times in our lives.

In November of 2005, after a series of biopsies and other tests, I was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. I was a candidate for a risky procedure called an extrapleural pneumonectomy – this was no routine surgery. It required the removal of my left lung, the pleura (the lining around the lung), the left half of my diaphragm, and the lining of my heart.

I was already overwhelmed and what made it worse was the fact that I was a new mom.

My daughter Lily would be turning six months old two days after my surgery. When I found out my surgery date was February 2nd, I nicknamed my tumor Punxsutawney Phil, or just Phil for short. I joked about when they removed the tumor, asking if it saw its shadow, would I have six more weeks of recovery? It took the seriousness of the procedure and made it not as scary.

Throughout all of this, my sister kept me laughing. Her and I share the same weird sense of humor and we can always make each other laugh with just a silly phrase or sound. My husband and sister started talking about how we should celebrate such a day.

If it was going to save my life, why not celebrate?

Now, we refer to February 2nd not as Groundhog Day, but LungLeavin’ Day — the day my lung left.

The basic idea of writing fears on a plate and smashing them into a fire during LungLeavin’ Day came from my sister, who had done firewalking. In firewalking, you write your fears on a plank of wood, throw it in the fire, and walk across it – very symbolic. We wanted to take a similar approach, but instead of wood, my husband came up with the idea of plate, and instead of actually walking through the fire, we would smash the plate.

From that moment a tradition was born.

On February 2nd, 2007, one year to the day since my surgery, my husband went out and bought two stoneware plates and a sharpie. We spent a few minutes writing our fears on them before venturing outside. It was bitterly cold that evening, but that didn’t stop us. Cams cleaned out the fire pit, and got a nice little fire going. We bundled up and went out to the fire and smashed our fears in the fire. It felt GOOD! We decided right then and there that we needed to share this with our friends and family.

The following year, we made it an official celebration, and every year since then our little party has grown to include over 75 friends and family who come to celebrate life with us.

Within these past few years, Cams and I felt the need to make a difference by using the occasion as a fundraiser for mesothelioma cancer. We donate all the money raised to the three organizations that have been such an important part of our lives. The International Mesothelioma Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization all played an important role of who we are and what we do.

LungLeavin’ Day is not just for cancer survivors or warriors, but also for everyone.

This year, we wanted to reach out to an even broader base of people, and besides webcasting the event live via my Facebook page, we’ve also created an interactive page where you can go write your fear and smash your own plate virtually.

We hope that you take a moment to be thankful for the simple things, and all that life offers. Even in the face of adversity, something good can come of it, and our LungLeavin’ Day celebration is how we took something tragic, and made it a positive in our lives.

Heather Von St. JamesHeather Von St. James is a seven-year mesothelioma cancer survivor and continues to provide unending inspiration to mesothelioma victims around the globe. She carries out her mission to be a beacon of hope for those afflicted with mesothelioma by sharing her story of faith, love and courage both as a keynote speaker at conferences and through social media. Read more about her and LungLeavin’ Day at http://www.mesothelioma.com/heather/lungleavinday/.

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