#God

Some morning comfort if anyone needs it….

Just because I love it, along with a healthy dash of I-don’t-want-to-edit -what-I need-to-edit at the present time, I thought I’d pop in over here and share this picture with the world.

I first saw this portrait of Jesus on my first Alpha Retreat when I was a participant and it has been a comfort ever since. I’ve just returned from my third Alpha, this time as leader, and wanted to share praises for it over here on the blog. Maybe it will bring comfort to someone who stumbles upon it.

Alpha is a life changing experience. It’s a Christian course offering a safe place for anyone, whether an atheist or a mature biblical Christian, to ask questions about where they are in their faith walk.  We all fall short sometimes in walking the right path and need to get our priorities straight, after all.  Alpha is a huge step in the right direction. It is offered all over the world for roughly 13 weeks, including  one weekend retreat that becomes a graduate level course in the Holy Spirit. You know…. that part of the Holy Trinity usually glanced over or tacked on to the end of prayers? It’s the One who doesn’t get much attention and who many, like this Sunday school kid, thought of as Casper….

(Come to think of it, I dressed as Casper one Halloween. What were our parents  thinking with those masks?)

Large eye holes so to see the flames coming at you on Halloween night. How we survived without suffocating is beyond me.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you~ John 14:26

In realty the Holy Spirit is the comforter, the counselor, and the helper. It’s God’s love and spirit living inside of us guiding our every move toward the right direction. It’s that voice in the back of our heads, our vulnerabilities, and the navigator of our change. Cooperating with the Holy Spirit and being aware of the ways He uniquely works in our live is how we learn spiritual growth.

If anyone is curious about Alpha, give it a try. Drop a comment or use the contact link and I’d be happy to tell you more about it and even help you find one in your area.

~Jennifer

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Mental Illness, Self-Esteem

I Got “The Look” Today

I pretty much look this way over most things….

I got “the look” today.

You know… the look you get when you don’t know if you’ve just over shared. I’m at a place in life where I can be open about my OCD. It’s my hope that by doing so I can help someone else get over the stigma of saying they have a silent illness.

I’ve been taking a training this week about how to initiate “critical conversations.” Those types of conversations that are uncomfortable but often necessary to have. Communicating correctly is a skill  dying in this digital age. After being in this training for awhile, I shared a thought with my workshop partner a total stranger until this class. We were speaking on how personalities can get in the way of conversations and brainstorming strategies to overcome that roadblock. I shared that I’ve been told by friends that when they first met me I seemed… cold. Once they came to know me though, they shared they were happy to find I was the complete opposite.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.~Psalm 34:4-5

What they didn’t know with their first glance is that I have a mental illness. My aloofness is nothing more than  finding a safe place for me to be. I have to study people and new situations to make sure I’m  comfortable. Last thing I want is to be triggered  into a state that has me in tears and a cycle of obsession. My workshop partner looked on me  as if to say, “you’re mentally ill?” I could tell by his expression and body language that he was trying to figure out how he didn’t know that from day one.

If anyone has  the honor of ever meeting Linda, you’d know from the start that she has cerebral palsy. It’s evident in her left arm and hand, her limp and her speech. These are cues anyone can take to deduct that she has a story to tell. It’s not that way with the silent diseases. It’s not always comfortable to be candid and admit, when appropriate, that I’ve OCD. But I think it’s vital. Here’s why…

Later my partner asked if I thought the seating assignments would be rearranged for the next class.  I said  I hoped not… it messes with me. I’d have to get used to the change, and spend time getting comfortable all over again.

He laughed and said, “I hate it too. Things like that are what really stirs up my–,”

…. and it’s that pause that is so essential. The odds are he was going to say “his OCD” for it looked like he had it perched on his lips.  If I had a dime for every time someone used OCD as a designer term for a quirk or a preference, I’d be a millionaire. Only on a rare few occasions have I met someone who legitimately shared my struggle.  Instead, he stopped and said it “bugs” him.

I’m left to wonder…. was he one of the millions out there suffering with OCD and unable to trust their vulnerability enough to share it? Or was he one of the few to learn  that this is a serious illness and deserves respect? If it’s the former, I hope my vulnerability helps him find courage  to speak his story. If the latter, kudos and thanks for rephrasing.

I show my vulnerability to helps others. I’ve seen the power speaking out can have in helping others find their path to healing. Linda bears her soul to prove what abilities hide in the weaknesses we THINK we have. Shame can be turned to a strength if all trust and faith is placed in God.  I think I speak for both of us when I admit that in each of our struggles came a healthy dose of feeling shame. Stepping outside of that prison and sharing a story, can open doors. We need to be in authentic relationships with our neighbors and we hope we can spread that awareness.

~Jennifer

#life

Quality of life vs hang-ups

I haven’t been writing as much lately because I’ve been sick. I’m just over a sinus infection and life has a way of getting in the way.

For me, illness is not just a case of going to the doctor, getting antibiotics and within ten days feeling better. It’s a case getting auras  24 hours a day (the feeling that I’m about to go into a seizure), doubling up on my epilepsy meds and having side-effects from them. Those side-effects include feeling light headed, dizzy, sick to my stomach, and having severe brain fog. After which, I’d take an antibiotic (which lower your threshold for having a seizure) then wait to see if I have any more auras. If I do I go through the agonizing process all over again.

The epilepsy drug I’m on is the only one in a long list that I’ve been on to keep me seizure free. There’s a drug on the market that’s basically the same as the one I’m on now, but with the perk of having no side effects. But, guess what…?

My insurance won’t pay for it because according to them it’s not necessary due to my treatment regime.

My immune system feels nonexistent. I’ve always become sick; quite often and easily at that. Even the common cold hits me twice as hard as your average Jo-Smo. I’ve an appointment with a specialist who can hopefully boost my immune system so that I don’t have to go through this hell every couple of months.On top of all this  is that the menstrual cycle and being pre-menopausal, (which, you guessed it, I am) can greatly lower the threshold for having a seizure. The only thing I’ve found that helps my auras and keeps me out of bed for the entire day is smoking pot. It relieves the auras and I’ve no side effects from it.

So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother.~Romans 14:12-13

Last month I was so miserable I went to my doctor and asked if she knew any physician who prescribed medical marijuana. I’ve an appointment in January with a neurologist that does. I truly can’t wait! I know there are people out there who are hard set against pot. For the life of me I don’t know why. If it can improve my quality of life and make it so I can be the wife and mother I so desperately want to be, then why not? It has no side effects other than making you hungry… and maybe making you notice every spec of dirt on the ceiling transforming into giraffes riding white puffy clouds across a bright blue sky.

I digress…

I saw a documentary on epilepsy and marijuana not too long ago. From it I learned of a little girl who was having 300 seizures a day. I cried my eyes out because I know that agony. Her doctors put her on a cocktail of meds which, in time, made her catatonic. She couldn’t feed herself and stopped moving all together. On top of that she was still having seizures. Then, her parents moved her to Colorado. There they put her on daily cannabis oil and took her off all meds.

Today she’s a normal little girl who is laughing, eating, playing, and running around. She has only one seizure every month or two.

That right there is my answer. I believe that quality of life should be way more important than any hang up a person might have.