Anxiety: Underneath the Rubble

The more I learn about and am open about my own anxiety and postpartum depression, the more people in my life I learn have a similar reality. I’m learning that those who seem the strongest and have it all together for everyone else around them, usually (secretly) have little to no strength left for themselves. 

Not everyone struggles the same, not every remedy is the same. I don’t know if there is a “solution”, but I have found things that are helpful to me. We are all different, but we can stand together and support each other. 

The Mighty posted a video called The fear of anxiety can also cause it. I encourage you to watch it.

Videos like this, I think are a nice way of someone saying, “I get it, you’re not alone.” Not, “Here’s how I can fix you.” If you know someone who has anxiety, take a minute to watch this video. They may not have all the post-it symptoms, but I’m sure they have a few. This might help you understand a little better, sympathize a little more, and not think the burden falls on you to fix everything. Just love them. Listen to them. 

I am SUCH a fixer by nature, I try to FIX all-the-time! But it’s ironic, and certainly eye-opening at how much it irritates me when someone tries to “fix” me. I am broken. We all are in our own way. That is the reality of the world we live in. Acknowledging the brokenness is the first step to rebuilding.

Anxiety is one piece of that broken puzzle. There is only one person who can truly put the pieces back together to reveal that beautiful picture, and that’s Jesus. And he did it on the cross. When we celebrate his resurrection, we celebrate Him making all things new again. When we acknowledge that the stripes on His back were put there to heal us, the resurrection in our own life can begin. 

This is the same broken world that it always has been, but we have hope in Him, that in the end it has already been restored.

But in the meantime, in our brokenness, at the bottom of all the rubble is someone who just wants to be heard and lifted up, encouraged. It’s Jesus’ job to do the healing. It’s our job to do the loving. We lean on His word and his promises to be our strength, to be our truth. But we need His people to surround us and show us the love and compassion and relationship for which He put us here.

I want to be one of those people. What about you?

I hope this finds you encouraged today! You’re not alone. If you need a listening ear. I’m here. Send me a message. 

  *theodysseyonline.org

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Strength for Today

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God, gives us strength, Even though we can’t see Him.(repeat)

He gives us joy. He makes lots of things. He made cats and pigs and dogs and all of the animals at the zoo. And He made all of the horses too. 

God, gives us strength, Even though we can’t see Him. (repeat)

LilyBelle was not having it. Minutes turned into hours which turned into all night of screaming. Absolutely inconsolable screaming!!

Finally after thrashing her body around in our bed most of the night, she passed out at 3:45am to then wake up again at 5:45am wide-eyed and ready to play.

I was not!

Not long after, were both kids awake and at full throttle and I just couldn’t get myself in gear.  My husband had full-leaded coffee ready for me before he left for his early morning, and I sat and prayed all breakfast for strength and energy and patience to make it even another 5 minutes without snapping. 

I excused myself from breakfast and let my kids entertain each other so I could try to #breathe.

My Munchckin comes running up to me,”Mommy! Mommy! I cleaned up my oatmeal. I did it all by myself! Look! I threw it in the garbage!”

 Oh no! Danielle, pull it together. There will probably be oatmeal all over the floor and trash can, but don’t crush his spirit. He’s THREE. And he’s trying. Get ready to be proud of him and teach him gently. God, give me patience, gentleness and self-control.

We held hands. I scanned the dining room and kitchen floor to ceiling searching for this slop of oatmeal that we needed to clean. Nothing. Spotless. He opens the trash and there it was, a small little pile of oatmeal he hadn’t finished, his spoon in the sink and his bowl set back on the table nicely so it wouldn’t break.

“Wow, Bud! Thank you for cleaning up!”

“Ya! I did it all by myself because ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength’ even when things are hard. Mommy, I want Jesus here. Can He come in our house?” #proudmommoment

“Jesus is here, Bud. He’s here because we’ve invited Him to be a part of our lives.”

“But I want to see Jesus.”

I gently picked him up and show him the leaves rustling on the trees. 

“Do you see the leaves moving?” (Ya.) “What causes the leaves to move?” (Wind.) “Can we see the wind?” (No, but we see the leaves move.) “Exactly! We can’t see Jesus’ face, but we know He’s here because we see what He is doing in our lives.” (Oh, like love and people.) “Yep! That’s right! He’s our love to people, our strength when things are hard, and peace when we’re scared.”

He picks up his guitar and starts singing at the top of his lungs. I quickly grabbed a pen and paper (and he did too, as you can see) and asked if I could write this beautiful song of his heart down so we could remember it and sing it together.   

I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Through this exhaustion, battling the “I can’t do this” and the “I am alone” lies, I have realized I have strength because Christ is in me. But I must seek Him daily.

It doesn’t matter how many times I hear that I’m a good mom; I will always feel empty, weak, un-acknowledged, and worthless if my value does not come from God.

Operating with strength means operating in faith. 

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:2

My strength comes from God. If my faith is blocked, God’s strength in me is blocked. 

I found notes from a women’s bible study I attended a few years ago titled The Barriers to our Faith and began to take personal inventory. 

I want to share with you the following barriers to my faith and the questions that go with them.  If you can relate at all to what I’ve shared, I encourage you to look at the list and evaluate your own life. Doing this self-reflection made me realize I dwell on some of these questions daily. They are in the back of my mind steering the course of my day, my attitude, my reactions, and to be quite honest, it usually ends up ugly.

Worry: Am I making the healthiest choices for my kids and their future success?

Fear: Will people accept me for who I am? Will something terrible happen to my husband and kids? Will I be left all alone?

Doubt: Am I good enough? Do I have purpose?

My past: Are there people I have not forgiven? Am I one of them? 

Distance from God: (until recently) I was not spending time praying or reading the Bible very often at all.

Depression: Post-partum hormones and emotions associated.

Anxiety: Am I doing everything “right”? I’ve realized that for me anxiety and fear are very much correlated; one doesn’t exist without the other. 

She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong.

Proverbs 31:17

Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future.

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭31:25‬ ‭

  I love these verses (and all of proverbs 31, for that matter) because it reminds me that strength is woven into my DNA as God’s creation and as a woman living for the purpose He created me. I can’t be the mom, wife, daughter, sister or friend He created me to be if I don’t include Him in the process.

Being Mommy to these two precious kiddos is teaching me so much about me. 

Who am I? What do I value? Who do I value? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? Do I have influence? Am I using it? Am I living with integrity? When my kids look back, will they be able to look past my hang-ups (and how I’ve messed them up) and be proud to call me Mommy? 

Will they see God’s love and grace in me and through me?

Is there something or someone that has shaken your world so much, you constantly evaluate and reevaluate what life is really about? Do you know who you are? Do you know your purpose? Do you know you have a purpose

I now realize these self-shaming questions, “am I good enough?” or “am I doing enough?” Or the “I can’t do this,” and “I am alone,” are a reflection of God not being the center of my life.  They are I-centered not God-centered. 

It’s taken over a year of listening to the *God Centered Mom podcast for me to take full ownership that my life has not been, well, that: God-Centered. As Heather MacFadyen encourages listeners every episode, it’s time I start to “replace me with He.”

I may have been going through the motions of church, Bible study, talking about Him to people, teaching my kids, listening to podcasts… but God doesn’t ask for our motions or our actions, He asks for our heart. And gives us the choice to give it to Him. All of the above are not bad, but they should come from the overflow of His love in me, not out of mere duty or, frankly, habit. 
I stumbled on this verse, right now in fact, as I am writing out my thoughts.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Proverbs 14:12

Relying on my own strength is what leads to exhaustion and negativity, and worry and fear and doubt and distance from God and depression and anxiety.  

   

 Just like each new day I encourage, teach and coach my kids to explore, take risks, and trust me to help them along the way, I need to remember God wants me to trust Him all the more. We will fall, we will fail, but He picks us back up, wraps His arms around us as if to say, “It’s ok. I’m here. I love you. Let’s try again.”

God used my three year old son to answer my desperate prayer for strength and remind me: 

“God, gives us strength, even though we can’t see Him.”

I’m so grateful God’s grace covers me and all of my imperfections. I am humbled that inspite of my inadequacies, God gives me strength for today. 

I’ll leave you with this thought that I tell my kids several times a day, and that I need to remind myself:

 “Let God pour so much of His love into your life that it can’t help but overflow and pour out into those around you.” 

It is in that love that you will find strength for today.


*note to parents: This podcast has been so encouraging to me. Every episode Heather MacFadyen interviews different Moms and Dads who have gone before us on this parenting journey. Whether it’s a Mom of one or ten, in her 20s or 80s, established a world-wide platform of millions or her platform is her home’s living room floor, there are gems to take away from every episode. I highly encourage you to check it out! Here’s the link again: God Centered Mom

Depression: Breaking the Silence

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 He turned my mourning into dancing again. He’s lifted my sorrows. I can’t stay silent; I must song for his joy has come.

-Ron Kenoly

It’s probably been 15 years since I last heard this song, but music has a way of flooding my spirit and speaking for me when I don’t always have the right words. 

To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.

-Ecclesiastes 3:1

I’m turning a page. I’m writing again. At least today I am. Baby steps. This is the next step to freedom for me. I’m not sure what this season brings, but I’m ready to write again. After over a year of unintentional hiatus, I invite you back to join me on this next journey.

A time to keep silence, And a time to speak.

-Ecclesiastes 7b

Post-partum depression is real, and it is certainly different for everyone.  It can feel like a overwhelming darkness, or a heaviness consuming your body, or an anxiety that makes everything seem absolutely unbearable.

There have been times that this depression and anxiety roller coaster leave me feeling all of those physical responses to my scattered mind countless times in a day. 

The beginning was a fog. I went through the motions day-to-day with a disconnect between my brain, my heart, and my body. It was almost as if I was watching my life happen without getting to be part of it. I never wanted to hurt myself or anyone else; I just wanted to curl up underneath my down comforter, disappear for awhile, and actually believe the world could function for a few moments without my participation.  There were stages of having no idea anything was wrong, to being drastically aware and dumping the hateful self-talk that just seemed to bury me deeper. 

After having MyMunchkin I had similar feelings, but I managed to shift my thinking, smile, and change my paradigm without getting consumed. This time around its been quite different.

My story: LilyBelle  

We welcomed our beautiful baby girl, three weeks early, in November 2014. Our precious little flower, Lily, the perfect addition to our now family-of-four. My Munchkin was so excited to be a brother. He went to all my appointments, listened to her heartbeat, saw her on the ultrasounds, and put up with my arranging and rearranging of their bedroom time and time again; he was ready. 

When he came to meet her in the hospital he sat next to us in the hospital bed, just 23 months old, looked at me, looked at Lily, touched my belly, then reached out and gently placed his hand on Lily’s chest and said, “Heartbeat. Heartbeat, Baby Sister’s heartbeat! Not in Mommy’s tummy anymore.” We melted.

After an unexpected and very fast labor and delivery (bunny trail: the nurse actually told me not to push because the doctor wasn’t there yet, and then said it was more paperwork for her if she delivered my baby not him), and a whirlwind of beautiful moments with BabyGirl, I couldn’t sleep. I had my perfect little family and a surge of adrenaline; I was done being at the hospital. The whole experience was a neusence to the incredible miracle that this experience was created to be. I needed to be home!

Home. Visitors. House Guests. Helpers. 

All there to greet and spoil Miss LilyBelle with all things girly, and help us with whatever we asked. From as far as Idaho and Colorado, and from The Central Valley to South OC we had visitors sacrificing their time to stay with us, shop for us, cook for us, and even do laundry (thank you Auntie Em!!) for us.

Alone. Isolated. 

Nothing was enough. Why was all of their sacrifice never enough? It was never the right way or my way or what I needed. Not enough people in the house. Too many people in the house. Not the way I would cook. Stop asking me how to cook it!  Just help with Daniel. No, I want time with MyMunchkin; hold the baby. I just need sleep! Stop asking me if I need a nap; don’t you know me well enough to know I can’t nap?! Of course I need a nap, but it’s never going to happen. Because if I go to sleep the rest of my world is going to fall apart.

This is illogical, irrational, unfair, unloving, selfish…not me, not my heart! Stop this thinking, Danielle!! 

I would constantly beat myself up about it. My brain, my heart, my reasoning, and my faith all know this is not healthy thinking. They all know that beating myself up isn’t going to help. 

Why do I feel so negative, worthless, unloved, unlovable, unworthy, and in a fog?

Depressed.

The motions.

Wake up. Make breakfast. Frantically pack diaper bag for two. Rush Daniel through eating. If he wants to play before nap, we must leave…five minutes ago. Load kids in car. Run back inside and grab sunglasses that I left…where did I leave them? Don’t forget water. Jump in car. Did I lock the door? Run to check. Back in car. Kids ok? Ok. Snack for Daniel while we drive. Now….drive….sloooow. Pass…some…time. Why are there such bad drivers in LA? Arrive. Park. Ergo BabyGirl, throw on the backpack, get the toddler out without him smashing her head or kicking her. Success. 

I had to be out of the house. I needed fresh air. I couldn’t face the mess at home or even the possibility of making one. I had to put a fake smile on my face to just get through the day. I needed that vague interaction with complete strangers; it gave me some sort of falsely-perceived validation for what they inferred to be successfully and happily getting myself, a toddler, and a newborn dressed, fed, and to the park in one piece… all on day 4.

Insanity. Why? What is the purpose behind this behavior? What am I trying to prove?

This was my dark reality for a long time.  It took me four months to even realize this cycle that I was creating. Even after recognizing it, talking about it, trying to find solutions, I eventually just pushed it under the rug like survivors do and thought I was better. Not happy. Not enjoying life. But not depressed; therefore, I was fixed. Right?

I will make darkness light before them.

-Isaiah 42:16

“Joseph…Joseph!!! Call 9-1-1!”

That’s about all I could get out. Shivering,  hunched over in the fetal position, trying to hold myself up with my head against the bathroom wall, my tongue swelling, both hands clamped completely shut. 

After all my vitals came back normal and my body started to relax again, the firefighters were really confused as to what happened and decided it was best to take me to ER for further evaluation and monitoring.

Basically, all this drama was my body’s response to stress.  God had been trying to get my attention and was telling me to slow down for a long time. I didn’t listen. So He allowed my body to be completely immobilized. I had to stop; this insanity  has to stop.

I’m sure you’ve heard Urban Dictionary’s definition of insanity: 

Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result

Knowing all of that, it seems ridiculous to still get caught in this hamster wheel, but these next two definitions really hit home.

1. The state of being mentally ill.

2. Extreme foolishness or irrationality.

The night of the ER trip was actually the launching night of our church’s new small groups called Freeways.  Unfortunately, I was too sick to go, but I see how God used those  circumstances to stop me in my tracks and turn to Him.

You are my help and my deliverer.

-Psalm 40:17

The timing of Freeways was perfectly  ochestrated by God. Freeways was all about discovering our freedom in Christ. It was a step by step journey, arm-in-arm with our small group, learning what is my true identity in Christ and what from my past is preventing me from walking in the freedom and purpose God has for me?

I have taken a lot of steps backwards during this process, and I’ve reverted back to survival mode on countless occasions, but what I am discovering is that it is not about “deciding I’m better”, “changing my paradigm”, or “smiling” to make everything good again. This journey is about recognizing that life is constantly changing. With change comes struggles and challenges.  It is through these that God is stretching me and allowing me to grow and heal and be molded into exactly the woman He has created me, for the purpose for which He has designed me.

Why, even now almost 15 months later, I find myself going through the same motions is beyond me. I am pretty sure constant frustration, exhaustion, and yelling at MyMunchkin do not fit the category of successful parenting. 

This is a process. I am learning to be present and enjoy the process, no matter how painful or emotional. 

My life belongs to Jesus. He is the author and how dare I try to take the pen out of His hands and write my own story. I’ve tried that, and it left me stagnant and immobile.

I waited patiently for the Lord. He brought me up out of a horrible pit. He set my feet upon a rock. He has put a new song in my mouth. Praise to our God.

-Psalm 40:1-4

I’m ready to move again.

Life is too short to be tired, overwhelmed, and discouraged. I have a purpose and it’s time I get to it. 

I am so excited to share what God is unraveling before me! I have felt so alone for a long time. I have believed the lies that no one really cares about me or what I’m going through. I have believed the lies that what I am going through is so much more important or more difficult than others. I have believed the lies that what I am going through is not a big deal at all. I have believed that I am not a good Mom.  I have believed the lies that I have to earn people’s love and affection for me. 

I am choosing to believe the Truth and not the lies. I will be back soon to walk with you through how I am overcoming these doubts and insecurities.

Until next time, I pray today you are encouraged. I pray that you realize you are not alone. I pray that you will see God right where you are. I pray you hear His gentle words whispering, “I love you my child, you are not alone. I will never leave you or forsake you.” 

I pray that if you can relate to any of these feelings of isolation or depression, that you start to take baby steps to see the Light when you feel consumed by the darkness.

Would you like prayer for anything today? 

Do you have any experiences that might help me or others along the way?  

I would love to hear what God is teaching you on your journey! 

Two Words Doctors Hate: Juicing & Miracles Part 3

If you’ve read the preceding posts then you can skip the next paragraph, but if not, you should read them, but let me give you a quick synopsis:

…I suffered most of my life from a chronic digestive disorder called Microscopic Colitis. God healed me in early 2010, almost four years ago. Don’t run! Read! It’s an incredible story; it’s hard for me to believe it too sometimes!

Six months before I was healed of the Colitis, I was told I had a brain tumor that would prevent me from having kids. About a year later, I had these weird, hard grape-size bumps growing under the skin on my hands and sharp shooting pains through my wrists. I slept with braces on my wrists every night to alleviate the pain. I’m a hair stylist, so these were not good signs for the longevity of my career, or being a mom for that matter. It would be a little difficult to cradle a baby with that pain.

After x-rays, labs, cortisone shots from Hell, and two MRIs, nothing was showing up…yet, you could visibly see them. So, here’s that crazy story…

My Miracle:

It was December 14, 2008, a beautiful, hazy, winter morning in the Bay Area of California as we drove to the Napa Valley. We arrived. Joseph Kazarian walked me through the beautiful rock garden of Domaine Chandon. He stopped on the bridge crossing the pond. With dew on the wild flowers all around and a slight morning mist, he got on one knee and ask me to be his wife.

…In his version, he studder-stepped, fell to a knee, and said, “Bbbbllluueeehhh?”

Either way, I cried. Nodded. Said, “YES!” Reached with both hands toward the ring and asked, “Can I put it on?” We started our day with a toast of our favorite Champagne Sparkling Wine, Riche, and made phone calls to the family.

I’ve always wanted to be be a wife! A Mom! Have a family!! No, I was not the crazy girl who chased boys to make this happen quickly. Well, I kind of did chase boys in Jr. High, but that doesn’t count. And I was young when we got married. However, I had my fair share of unhealthy dating relationships to prove I was ready. Do I have you convinced?

Anyways, I can’t help that God blessed me with an incredibly Hott man who is hilarious, driven, motivated, can cook, but most importantly loves God and cherishes me!

Let the wedding planning begin…

Fast forward to June: we decided to move back down to Southern California, where we met and he grew up, to start our lives together. This move was to take place the weekend of my bridal shower.

As if wedding planning and moving weren’t enough…here’s what happened the week before moving:

Late Tuesday night (sorry about the next detail), I started lactating. Ok, so if you don’t know, that’s only supposed to happen when you’re pregnant or breast feeding obviously. We were waiting until we got married for certain things, so I knew I was not pregnant!

I got labs results by Friday, suggesting a tumor, and I needed an MRI immediately. We decided to have me stay in town for further tests to avoid switching doctors, hospitals, etc. I put on my happy face for my bridal shower Saturday evening, and Joseph did the 400 mile move Sunday with his parents, but without me.

I get my MRI, make all the crazy calls to change my doctors, and schedule an appointment with my new doctor to find out the results.

Pituitary Micro-adenoma: aka a small tumor on my brain.

Three weeks before our wedding, I’m sitting in the doctor’s office with my fiancé and soon-to-be Mother-in-law, or Mother-in-love as she likes to say, and the doctor says in an unsympathetic, matter-of-fact tone, “With this tumor, you won’t be able to get pregnant.”

Immediately, without control, tears start flowing down my face. It was nothing I could fight back. I was not blubbering; I simply just had my dreams ripped from my heart in front of the man who was making these dreams come true; tears were not an option, they just were.

“Well,” says the doctor, “you clearly are a little high strung. I’ll step out and give you a minute to calm yourself down.”

“I’m not high strung, you just told me I’m infertile!”

…He walked out as we all stared dumbfounded at each other. I started medication the next day that would “regulate” the size of the tumor, and was monitored every six months after that with labs and visual field tests to make sure the tumor didn’t grow.

…moving forward to March 2012…

I was half-way through the intern program at our church. A decision I made for personal and spiritual growth. One of the best choices I’ve made in my life!!!

[Insert necessary, but dramatic rabbit trail:] That lost, buried little girl who didn’t even know her true self, began to emerge from the dark hole she had dug for herself. That first sight of light is hard to look at sometimes. With squinted eyes, that bright, white light slowly turns to colors and images that make sense; so my soul was transformed. Oh, the sweet taste of oxygen again. Breathe!

It was conference time, and as I was praying for people, the guest speaker, Pastor Andrew Kubala asked, “Is there someone here who has had wrist issues?” I immediately start looking around, excited for what God’s going to do in someone’s life.
…no response…
…he asks again…
…I wait…

My mentor was standing a few feet behind me and assertively, but gently says, “WRISTS!!” There’s my reminder.

Oh, ya, that’s me. He’s talking about me! I, like most people (despite my previous healing), had resolved to the idea of living with pain.

How stupid! God is loud and clear,in a microphone, through a pastor, trying to get my attention, and I almost ignore it.

I slowly slip my hand into the air. He has me come up on stage to pray with me.

As if reading out of my diary, Pastor Kubala begins to speak words of healing over my life. I immediately feel an overwhelming warmth flow through my arms, wrists, hands, and every knuckle. As he prayed I watched the bumps disappear. I felt the pain leave my wrists. For the first time in six months I had full rotation of my wrists. I stood on awe.

Then, he looks at me and says, “Danielle, God wants you to believe him for more than just the physical healing we can see. There’s more healing He wants to do for you, but you need to have faith that He will.”

I knew he was talking about the tumor (let me remind you that he knew nothing about it, hardly anyone did, he didn’t even know me); I stopped the medication that night.

April 10, 2012 I looked up at Joseph from across the room in shock and said, “It’s a plus sign.”

“So…that’s a yes?”
“Ya, I guess so.”
“So…you’re pregnant?”
“I guess that’s what that means.”
“Uh, should we go get dinner.”
“Ya, let me make some calls first.”

Don’t get me wrong, we were both excited, but sometimes when a miracle happens, it’s really hard to believe!

I called my best friend, who I call my sister, and I called my sister, who I call my friend. Joseph and I processed the information through awkward dialogue over dinner. We told our parents the next day, and the rest of our worlds after that.

December 11, 2012 Daniel Robert was born 8 lbs 8 oz, 21 inches long. Our Miracle!

Nine months later, I still look at Daniel every day in awe and humility. When he smiles he radiates God’s joy, and I can’t help but be reminded of God’s grace in my life.

Until my munchkin’s next nap: Thanks for letting me take you through that journey. I hope it brings light, encouragement, and healing into areas of your life as well. Don’t be afraid to have a little faith.

Have you experienced a miracle?
What’s your story?

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Two Words Doctors Hate: Juicing & Miracles Part 2

If you read Part 1, you know that I just recently had some tests done to find out why I’ve been experiencing some unpleasant symptoms after having my son 8 months ago. Before going into further details, you must know that these symptoms are completely different and unrelated to what I’m about to share with you. I’m a little hesitant to take you down this next path with me, but I feel like it’ll encourage you, so I can’t be selfish and withhold my story.

I started blogging hoping my life’s lessons and experiences would give you some tools, if not to help you through some of your biggest challenges, at least maybe to put a smile on your face for the moment. My intent was to explore with you this chapter of my life, on my road to healthy living, with lessons from friends and family, with hope that you’d see my lessons as beneficial in your circumstances.

Its hard to be vulnerable to the world, or at least the small, hopefully growing population of readers, so bare with me through this process. I made some poor choices in relationships as an adolescent, escaping and recovering from the devastation of divorce. I ruined some friendships as a result of the hurt I was experiencing (not to make excuses, but unfortunately hurt people hurt people). As a young adult trying to find my own identity, my communication and ability to articulate my emotions has cost me some friendships as well. I’ve gone through the wringer of doctors because of mysterious health issues. Now, venturing into the world of wifedom and mommyhood, I want to pass on wisdom as I nurture my son; I want to show him what a healthy, loving, committed marriage looks like. I don’t want to parent him out of resentment of my past, fear of making mistakes, or desperation to avoid him feeling the hurt I did.

My intent was avoid mentioning my relationship with God as my foundation and strength in overcoming these obstacles because I know the mention of Jesus sends a lot of people running for the hills. The reality, however, as much as I don’t want to scare people off, I can’t deny that the only true reason I am who I am today is because of His overwhelming grace.

This is my story of how my healing began, where I am now, and how we need to protect ourselves from the negativity people speak into our lives, including doctors. If you’re a skeptic of faith or maybe discount it completely, I’m not here to try to change your thinking, in fact, until this happened to me I probably wouldn’t have believed this story either. With all of the bad that happens in the world, I just encourage you to stay with me for the next few minutes and read something good, something positive; it’s pretty cool what happened actually.

My first miracle:

My whole life I suffered from a chronic digestive disorder that was finally diagnosed in 2004 as microscopic colitis. Most of my life was experimenting with possible solutions: trying different ways of eating: increased fiber, eliminating dairy, gluten-free, superfoods, organic; Yoga for stress relief (because in the medical realm, everything has to do with stress and anxiety apparently); undesirable herbal remedies, suggested by my semi-granola, holistic mother with whom, by-the-way, I now agree with most of what I thought were ridiculous solutions; colonics: this is weird, just weird; three different prescription medications, to humor my dad, who is the polar opposite if my mom–Vicks, Ny-Quil, a glass of wine, and sleep are his solutions to everything (and maybe a Diet Pepsi); two colonoscopies; one endoscopy; and a partridge in a pear tree.

After being “diagnosed” there was a brief sense of relief because there was an answer, but upon diagnosis was the information that “nothing can help”, “there’s no known cause”, “no treatment”, I was. “just going to have to live with it for the rest of my life or hope it goes away.” You would think that being raised in a Christian home the first response would have been to actively pray about it. Somewhere, however, was a huge disconnect between believing in God and the miracles of the Bible, and the reality that He’s the same God today that made the deaf hear, the lame walk, and blind see two thousand years ago.

Fast forward to 2009. After hiding this cramping and discomfort that overwhelmed my body for so long, embarrassed to talk about it even with my family, I decided to share with some new friends at church what I had been suffering from and asked them to pray for me. Just weeks before this happened I had moved 400 miles, found out I had a small brain tumor that was going to prevent me from having children, and got married. Nonetheless, I was starting a new chapter in my life and was sick of being debilitated; it was time for change, time for a fresh start, time to do something I had never done before; actually have faith not only that God exists, but that he could also help me–and heal me.

We started going through a book called Life’s Healing Choices by: John Baker. This was a rough few months of digging up my past hang-ups and habits and chiseling away the bricks I had built around my heart to protect myself. After much anger, many tears, lots of conversations, I started to feel a sense of identity again, but the weird reality was I had to meet myself. Who was I? Who did God create Danielle Marie Kazarian to be? What was my purpose?

Although my heart was healing, I still had this aching through my body everyday. Our church held a conference for young adults. Before attending we were each asked what we were believing God to do in our lives. Mine was obvious.

At the conference one night, I finally just surrendered my pride, walked to the front of the room to be prayed for, lifted my hands and out loud said, “God, I’m yours. I want you to use me. I give up trying to do this on my own. I stand in faith that You will heal me in your timing.” God’s response very clearly (if you don’t know if you’ve hear God’s voice, just ask Him to show up, he will!), “You already are healed.”

I began to weep uncontrollably at the comfort of His gentle words to His daughter.

The following two weeks were the worst two weeks of health I had experienced, but they were the last two weeks. Almost five years later I have not had a single symptom. I can eat whatever I want with no issues. If that’s not a miracle then I don’t know what is.

After experiencing this miracle my eyes began to open to the reality of God’s Grace, Freedom, and Forgiveness.

Now, remember that tumor I mentioned? My baby boy is another miracle story! I invite you to follow my journey as I share his story next time.

Until my munchkin’s next nap time, breathe, smile, trust, have faith. There’s no freedom living life as a skeptic, worried and criticizing everyone else’s opinions. Sharing this story with you, is one small step toward my freedom. I hope it encourages you today!

What a Ride!

So…I’ve been gone for what seems like eternity to me, but the reality is only a couple of weeks. I’ve missed you WordPress and fellow readers and bloggers! Here’s why I’ve been MIA:

Last week I learned what being a Mom really is all about. MIA in my world is redefined as Mommy In Action. Up until two Mondays ago at 4:30am I had been enjoying all the amazing thrills of smiles, laughter, and watching my baby boy achieve all the developmental milestones.

I woke up startled by a shrilling scream. This was not a normal cry; I knew something was terribly wrong. I ran into his room to find him burning up. I immediately pick him up and try to feed him and minutes later he proceeded to projectile vomit all over me, him, the rocking chair, and the floor around us.

I took his temperature, 102 under his arm which is typically a degree less than accurate. I carefully carried him to give him a bath. His temp dropped suddenly and he started to shiver and throw up more as he’s sitting in his little bath. I immediately wrap him in a towel, dry him quickly and call the doctor.

I got an appointment first thing when the office opened. Of course, once at the doctor’s office, my son’s temperature had dropped to 99 degrees. I was instructed to keep monitoring him, give him infant Tylonal if his temp went up, and make sure he stayed hydrated; since he’s only breastfed, he needed to eat frequently. A long day of fluctuating temperatures and throwing up almost everything he ate, he finally passed out.

At 2:30am Tuesday morning I’m awoken to that same shrilling cry and a fever of 102 again, I feed him and he keeps it down this time, so I bring him to bed next to me to make sure he’s okay. Not long after I wake up startled because he was radiating heat next to me to find his underarm temp was 104!!! I gave him Tylonal and put him in the bath, and here we go again. This time I wake my husband to hold him while I call the doctor and my poor baby throws up lime green all over him. We are instructed to get to the ER within the hour.

As a new mom I’m doing everything I know and my poor little baby is rapidly getting worse. They set up an IV at the emergency room to hydrate him and he shows a good response, sigh of relief, but his fever was still above 103, eeek!! Still? He was severely lethargic; they decided to admit us into the hospital.

Test after test. Blood tests, full urine analysis, X-rays, ultrasounds, he got the full gammet. Everything negative; which in the medical world is a good thing.

My first reaction that Tuesday morning was mommy-to-the-rescue. After that didn’t work I sat in bed paralyzed by anxiety and fear. Every negative thought went whirling through my head like a tornado taring apart my faith and confidence that he was going to be okay. Holding him sobbing; I felt so helpless. The one thing I can always do that no one else can is nurse him, but he was too weak to eat. When I woke my husband his first question was, “did you call the doctor?” My teammate, my partner, my point of reasoning. The calm in his voice reminded me of where our strength comes from. We prayed, and this overwhelming peace and call to action took over.

Two nights and almost three full days in the hospital we were at complete peace. The love and support of our family and friends was the most overwhelming. Being reminded of how important relationships are. Our community was praying for us, calling or texting us, offering words of encouragement as simple as, “take a shower, it’ll make everything just a little better” (which saved me the second day of no sleep); some brought food and even a care package with a toy for my little munchkin.

Don’t get me wrong, it was the worst feeling in the world to helplessly watch my baby lie in the crib, hooked up to wires, unable to hold him without beeps and alarms sounding. He was exhausted, sick, lethargic, and pale. I had to tell the doctors he was supposed to have his Dad’s beautiful olive complexion, because they looked at me and thought his pasty skin color was normal. My husband and I just held each other with tears streaming down our faces each time they had to hold him down for another round of tests. Our happy, bubbly little boy was screaming in pain. In spite of the tears, there was still this covering of peace knowing that we were blessed with the miracle of our son, and he was going to be okay.

Sitting in the hospital I had so much to write about, so I sat awake at all hours jotting my thoughts, excited to share with the world!

We arrived home Thursday night with a little boy on his way to being healthy again. He was finally able to eat and we wanted to come home so he could actually sleep. I had family coming in town for Mother’s Day weekend and I was eager to clean house and then finally sit and publish my blogs from the hospital. I plug my phone in to make sure it would be fully charged as I awaited a flood of messages from people arriving and my phone decides to no longer charge. I lost all of my information, along with the pearls of wisdom I wanted to share 🙂 So here I am (with a new phone that I now backup regularly), back on the horse again to embark on this journey. There will be bumps in the road, hopefully not as terrifying as this last one, but I thank you for joining me on the ride.

Besides learning patience and how to breathe in stressful situations, I gained such a respect and appreciation for the people in my life. I hope I never take them for granted! I hope I can be the friend to them as they have so graciously and selflessly been to me! It is so true that you can look for friends everywhere and never find any, but the moment you are a friend to someone, you’ll find your friendships are incalculable.

Until my munchkin’s next nap, or maybe a little longer:) :
I hope my experience has helped you find peace in whatever crazy circumstance you might be facing. You’re not alone, and if you ever feel that you are, I’ll be a friend.

What obstacle are you facing today? Can I offer you some encouragement? Let’s chat!

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