I’m not afraid of the dark

http://www.diamondgallery.com/diamonds-are-forever/
source: http://www.diamondgallery.com/diamonds-are-forever/

If God granted your biggest wish right now, would it change your faith in Him forever or just sustain you temporarily until you had another wish you wanted fulfilled?

I ask this because at the depths of my angst and the heights of my chronic pain, all I wanted was to be healed.  I thought if God would just heal me, it would change everything for me.

  • My faith would be restored.
  • I could finally make a difference in His kingdom.
  • People would see me and say “wow, God still performs miracles!”
  • I could find reasons to smile again.
  • Nothing would ever hold me back again.
  • I could fill my schedule back up with pool parties, coffee visits, bible study groups, serving here and there and there and there…. if only He would heal me.

But God didn’t heal me.  In fact, I will always have fibromyalgia and arthritis.  I will probably always struggle with some form of depression and chronic fatigue syndrome.  However the journey, in and of itself, has strengthened my faith in God.  I now have some wisdom, some life experience, and some ways to connect to other people.  I never would have had these gifts if God would have healed me the first or the seventeenth time I asked.

I used to live landmark to landmark – waiting to see what was on the horizon and telling myself, “once this thing is past me, I’ll be fine.”  And, “when I get to that next thing, everything will be GREAT!”  And, “when I have a job again, we will be financially secure.”  I was scared of the pressure while I was suffering physically.  I was terrified of the life change.  I felt forgotten, isolated, segregated, removed.  The pressure of not knowing when or if I would feel good again was too much.  I was scared of being in the dark.

I didn’t know how to rely on God.

And when I lived that way (constantly waiting for the next thing), I was essentially covering my ears and rocking back and forth … and shutting out God.  He was trying to whisper to me, and sometimes He would send people to try to speak truth into me.  But I couldn’t hear them because I was too busy making my own plans.  I didn’t even see them because I was too focused on my anticipation of the next thing on the horizon.

Your life is now, not later.

Dont’ wait for the next thing, because you’re going to miss THIS thing.  And believe me when I tell you, there is a lesson to be learned in every situation.  There is joy to be found and there is sorrow to shake your soul.  Just like the Bible says in the book of Ecclesiastes, there really is a time for everything.  Don’t wish away these times like I did.  Because gems are only produced under pressure.  You are a gem to Him.  I am a gem to Him.  Don’t believe for a second that your worth is what this world tells you it is.  DO believe that you ARE a precious gem of the Lord’s.  He formed you.  He made you.  HE PICKED YOU!  You have worth and you have sparkle.

So dont’ be afraid of the dark.

God has the ultimate flashlight. He sees you and He loves you.  He has not forgotten you.  Don’t give up hope in Him.
Look for His light.
Because that’s where you’re going to sparkle.

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when worry steals adventure

I can’t do it.
I’m not strong enough.
She’s faster than I am.
They eat healthier than we do.
I have fibromyalgia.
My doctor said I shouldn’t.
It’s too hot.
It’s too windy.
It’s too muggy.
It will hurt.
I don’t have time.
I don’t have anything to wear for that.
I’ll have to wash my hair again if I do that.

All of the excuses above kept me from doing a LOT of things over the past several years.  You might resonnate with some of them, and with others you might just think I’m crazy.  That’s cool.  Sometimes I think you’re crazy. (said in my best 6 year old accusatory voice, because I’m mature like that sometimes)

My husband amazes me with his ability to “Just Do It” on many levels.  He can flip a switch in his head and say “this is what I’m doing” even if he has a list of excuses like mine.  His excuses don’t dictate what he will or will not do.  If I ever decide to grow up, this is a trait I would like to refine in myself.

Today I did something amazing.  I ran.  I also walked fast, but mostly I ran.  To most, this is not a big deal.  I have crazy friends who run marathons… in Texas heat.  #insanerunners  But for ME, this is a big deal.

A year ago today, I was recovering from a night out to see fireworks.  It wasn’t strenuous to watch fireworks, but the entire process of getting myself ready, out the door, to the field, and then sitting in the heat, staying up late, and so on —- that required a day of rest afterward.  My body couldn’t handle that much activity without a large period of rest the following day.

And today I ran.

I wish I could tell you that my “mind over matter” gear is finally un-stuck, and it is … partially, but that’s not what got me running.  I have fibromyalgia and I FINALLY found something that helps me feel good ALL the time, not just for an hour here or there. #workoutpoweredbyplexus  But here’s the interesting part — those excuses are still there when it comes to working out, but now they look like this:

I don’t have time.
Even if I shower after to get to work, I’ll still be sweating.
I’m too fat for my workout clothes (I know — you can laugh at me too)
She’s faster than I am.
They eat healthier than we do.
It’s too hot.
It’s too windy.
It’s too muggy.
I don’t have time.
I’ll have to wash my hair again if I do that.

Interesting isn’t it?  I feel SO great, yet I still have a list of excuses.  This morning I read this:

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? ~ Luke 12:25

My list of excuses are worries.  All of them.  Here’s what I have to say about that:

1075

What is your list of worries?  We all have them.  I have a list for exercise, one for ministry, one for friendships, one for parenting, one for driving…  Sure, the lists can keep me from doing some stupid things – it would not have been WISE for me to run when my pain was at its worst – but I certainly didn’t even try often to go for walks.

The worry stole my adventure.  Today I created adventure and left my list at home.

7.5.14RUN

Go create your adventure today… build something, draw something, make something, call someone, meet a neighbor, exercise, pray for someone out loud. Get your adventure out of worry-jail and …

justdoit

Stop the Insanity of Chronic Pain!

(see update at the bottom)

For the past 6 and a half weeks I haven’t stopped moving and doing and laughing and smiling and running/dancing up and down the stairs — because I CAN.  I CAN do all of those things.  Stella has her groove back! — wait, totally wrong reference, but you get the idea.

I want everyone to know right off the bat, that I am not cured.  The supplements that have changed my life will not cure me.  I have a chronic illness that I will most likely have until the day I get to go be with my Savior in heaven!

I took the plunge in late December and ordered Plexus products.

What the heck IS Plexus?

Plexus is a wellness company that has many products. These products are 100% Natural and all have a 60 day money back guarantee. There are several different products that can help you with many aliments.  The company does not claim to cure any illness but has a 93% Success rate to help and aid you with the following conditions:

  • Headaches
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Celiac’s
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Anxiety
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Sugar Cravings … and the list goes on

What do I take?

I take Slim, Accelerator, a killer ProBiotic called ProBio5, a multivitamin, and a cleansing agent called BioCleanse.  Sounds like a lot, right?  It is NOTHING compared to the regimen I used to be on.  Nothing.  No comparison.  If you have chronic illnesses you might also be thinking – just 6 things?  Yes.  Just 6 things.   But I started out on just two things.  Slim and Accelerator.  Because if you recall, I was a total skeptic and just knew this wouldn’t work for me.

http://annskaehill.myplexusproducts.com/
http://annskaehill.myplexusproducts.com/

 

What should you take?

I recommend that everyone start with the Slim, the Accelerator, and the ProBio5.  If I would have looked more into the ProBio5 when I started, I would had added it in from the get-go.  The combination of these three things will most likely put you into a detox  state and it won’t be pretty for a while.  I’m not going to lie.  You might get bloated, have migraines, break out in acne, have aches and pains and so on.  What’s going on in this process is the good elements (such as the vitamins) are trying to kick the bad elements to the curb (such as candida, inflammation nd so on) – and the bad stuff in your system is so comfortable, it just doesn’t want to go.  So it has a bit of a temper tantrum.  My detox period lasted a solid 2 weeks, but I have a friend who has also struggled with fibromyalgia and her detox lasted a little over 30 days!  Whew!

Why in the world would I want to do this “detox” on purpose?

Why in the world would you want to continue feeling the way you feel right now?  You’re already trying medications, therapies, treatments, stretches, exercises and saying  every prayer ever written just to feel better.  If you have made it this far, you can totally make it 14-30 days so that you can find some freedom from the grip your pain has on you right now!  And, if by day 45 or so you don’t feel any difference at all, you can make a simple phone call and get your money back.  Remember?  I had every intention of getting my money back after I proved to everyone that it wouldn’t work for me.

Will I have to take it forever?

You don’t HAVE to do anything.  Will I take it forever?  You betcha.  As long as they make it, I will be taking it.  I ran out of my products for three days and found that I was begging my friends for some of theirs until my next order showed up in my mailbox!  The fatigue came back almost immediately.  These products are natural – there’s no hidden weird stuff in them.  Due to company policy I can’t post them, but I will absolutely email them to you if you leave your email address in the comments.  Take the list to your doctor.  Research the ingredients.  Do some homework.

Will it cost me a lot?

It depends on your definition of “a lot.”  I was on SEVEN prescription medications, had regular appointments with my pain doctor, had to get terrifically painful massages to get the knots out, and was constantly reordering pain lotion.  So for me?  This is cheaper than all of that mess.  And I feel better on this than I did on ALL of that combined.  You need to talk to your doctor if you plan to get off medications while you’re taking these supplements – so keep that in mind as well.

This isn’t a sales pitch.  This is a freedom pitch.  Stop doing the things you’ve been doing if they aren’t giving you the freedom to get back into the land of the living.  Or at least give this a try.  This has been an answer to the prayers my family has been saying for almost three years.  I feel so alive!

Leave your email address in the comment section – or send me an email to annskaehill@gmail.com – let me help you get started so that in 2 months YOU can be praising the goodness of God in a body that isn’t keeping you from living your life!

http://annskaehill.myplexusproducts.com/
http://annskaehill.myplexusproducts.com/

It’s now mid-May 2014 and I am working 30 hours a week, cleaning my house, and running errands like a normal mom.  I play football outside with my family and I go for 4-mile walks and 12-mile bike rides.  I feel AMAZING!  I know I’m not cured but it sure is nice to be part of my own life again!!!

pain-free… not kidding

pain-free

If I owned a white outfit and had a nice trim belly, I might allow someone to take my picture like this whilst making a leap of joy in a field of green goodness.  But in all seriousness, this photo accurately depicts exactly how I feel.  Let’s back the truck up a little, shall we?

Over the summer I watched people post on Facebook about this great new product they were using to “lose weight and feel great” … I wish you could see me rolling my eyes.   It sounded like just another fad diet to me, but yet I was intrigued because I started getting text messages and emails from these people saying that folks with chronic pain have experienced significant reductions in their pain levels while taking this “miracle product.”   Now, when you’ve been to a bazillion doctors and you’ve tried every medication known to man to help you with your medical issues – it doesn’t seem plausible that a product being sold via Multi-level Marketing is going to be worth your time.

I even talked to my doctor about it after the kids were back in school.  I asked what she knew and she said she hadn’t had the time to do deep research on it, but she had indeed scoped out the ingredients for some of her other patients.  She promised me there wasn’t anything in there that would make me feel worse than I already did – and she had actually heard of the ingredients.  That was promising.  But still I did nothing.

November and December came around and folks, I’m telling you — those two months just plain sucked.  In December, out of a sheer act of defiance, I ordered some through a precious girl who hadn’t completely turned her Facebook account into a constant pink advertisement.

That’s right kids, we’re talking about Plexus.

My thoughts went something like this:

  • Fine.  I’ll try this stupid pink drink and prove to all you people that it won’t work for me!
  • I’ll take it for a month and then get my money back with their 60 day money back guarantee
  • You’ll all see that THIS TOO will not work for me — just wait, you’ll see!

But this is what really happened:

  • Week 1: I started craving nutrition — like celery.  I was CRAVING celery!
  • Week 2: I suffered three brutal migraines this week (side note: I didn’t know it at the time, but my body was going through a detox period)… and I was now craving broccoli with my celery.
  • Week 3: This week was miracle territory.  I was getting myself out of bed without help from my husband.  I cleaned my ENTIRE house by myself, AND got groceries, AND cooked for my family, AND played games and laughed with my kiddo, AND got some sewing done. Fatigue?  What fatigue?  I even worked out THREE times during week 3.  And I cut my fibro med dosage in HALF.
  • Week 4: My husband and I kept waiting for it to end – and for my real body to wake up and take over… but it never happened.  I still feel amazing!  And I cut my fibro med dosage in half AGAIN.  That’s right — I take 1/4 of the medication that I did just a month ago and I feel BETTER than I did when I was at the prescribed dosage!

Side Note: I AM NOT CURED.  I still have fibromyalgia.  I still have arthritis.  I still have a whacked immune system that functions at 50% — but I FEEL amazing!   I haven’t lost any weight but I DID go down a pants size.  I had so much inflammation in my body that it took two full weeks to dissipate.

If you are reading this from your bed and shaking your head — I get it.  I completely understand.  It took me 6 months to try it and even then it was because I intended to prove everyone wrong.   There is no miracle drug/drink/oil/pill/food — but Plexus has made my symptoms go from a 10 to a 1 on my scale of being bothered by them.

I’m not an advertising kind of girl.  I don’t bug people to buy things or try things — but if chronic pain has literally re-written your life plans, PLEASE consider trying this for a month!   I currently take the Slim drink and 1 accelerator pill each day.  That’s it.

Scope it out.  Ask me questions.  I’ll be honest with you and tell you if I don’t think it’s for you.  And if you think I’m crazy, I am not offended because I thought everyone else was crazy for 6 months.  It’s cool…. it’s not the first time I’ve worn that label with pride.  http://annskaehill.myplexusproducts.com

I plan to use up the $200 worth of vitamins I have on hand right now (that I take daily) and then I will add in the XFactor multi-vitamin to my regimen… when it’s all said and done, the Plexus plan I am building for myself will be cheaper than my prescription meds, therapies, doc appts, massages, and pain lotions that I’ve used thus far.  And I feel better ANYWAY than I did previously while doing all that stuff!

And I, Ann Skaehill, promise that this will be the only post that includes a link about Plexus —- but I cannot promise that you won’t hear more about getting my life back, because I have three years of life to make up for!

I can’t help but wonder if God was knocking and knocking and knocking that whole time and I was just too darn stubborn to open the door.  Well now it’s WIDE open and the blessings are still pouring out!  He is so good, and He is faithful — and good golly my prayers were answered in a way I LEAST expected!

waiting, waiting, waiting… and worn out (Part Two): learning to be still

In the Fall of 2011, I had to wait over three months to get in to see a specialist.  A reputable one.
Notice the word “wait” — it’s a pretty important word.

In that time I had no medications available because I didn’t have a solid diagnosis.  I did a lot of research and decided to try a clean diet to see if it helped.  I ate only lean meats, vegetables, nuts, and fruits for over three months.

The end result?  No change.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  Nil.  And every other word you can think of that means the same thing.  My pain remained the same.

What did I learn in those months of waiting to see a specialist?

  1. I learned to slow the heck down.  My sister emailed me a link explaining The Spoon Theory about a year prior to my physical issues.  If you haven’t read it — you must.  It isn’t just for people with chronic illnesses, it is applicable for ALL of us.  I noticed that I couldn’t keep up with the mad raced pace of society around me and you know what?  I was TIRED of trying.  I didn’t want to go to this party and that one, to this lunch, and that girls night out.  I wanted to be home with my family!  We started playing board games with our son, taking family walks, going to the park together, and more.  The more time I spent with my family, the more I CRAVED it!  I didn’t want to crowd them out again by filling my calendar with other things.
  2. All I needed, I already had.  The biggest revelation came in the form of realizing I didn’t “NEED” people the way I thought I did.  I had a husband, a child, two sisters, parents, four nieces and a nephew with whom I hardly spent any time.  On holidays, I was more concerned about seeing my friends than I was about spending quality time with my own family.  That revelation stung quite a bit because my husband had been hinting at it for several years but I just wasn’t getting it.  I can appreciate that people don’t have family around them and their friends become their family — more power to you, seriously — but I didn’t fit in that category.  I plain and simple had a family that I was ignoring.
  3. God was (and still is) in the details.  While I was busy moving and grooving, I longed to see God in the daily things around me — but I didn’t have TIME to see God.  I had things to do, people to see, emails to write, phone calls to answer, social events to arrange and attend, blah blah blah.  The only way I would see Him in the details is when He would do things like this to get my attention:
    But once I slowed down, I started seeing him in people at the grocery store.  I saw Him in the mailman when he would bring all of our mail to the door along with a package.  I saw my husband making room for Him in his heart and mind.  I saw Him in scripture, in the abundance of food we have available to us, in the warmth of the heater, and in the clean water I took for granted.  He was (and still is) EVERYWHERE.  But I had been too busy to acknowledge Him.
  4. I needed church.  I used to be someone who would say, “but why do you HAVE to go to church?  I can worship and read the bible at home just as easily as I can in church.”  But I never followed through.  I never cracked open my bible  before I started attending church.  Pastors go through years of classes.  They read books constantly. They have knowledge that I realized I could tap into!  It was completely worth an hour of my time to listen to them pick apart scripture and to learn what certain things meant in the bible.  I NEEDED that nourishment just as much as I needed food and water.  When left to my own devices, well — that’s exactly what I would do — get on my “devices” (which is what the kids at my son’s middle school call iPhones, iPads, Kindles, and so on).  I would easily fill my time with other things, none of which were God-centered.
  5. I had become selfish. I stopped seeing my husband’s needs and my son’s needs, and even the needs of people around me because I had become completely consumed with NEEDING an answer for my physical pain. I felt odd.  I felt like I no longer fit in anywhere.  But you know what?  I did that to myself.  I was thinking about my pain 24/7 – and if you’re in pain I know what you’re thinking: “How can I possibly think of anything BUT the pain that is agonizing me all day and all night?”  Honestly?  That’s something you have to figure out on your own.  But I know it isn’t healthy for you.   I wanted so badly to give God the glory by being someone He could use, even while I was hurting — but I was so inwardly focused that He could only use me in teeny tiny ways.

So how do you slow down and not become selfish?  This is going to knock some of you off your rockers — so put your seat-belts on:

Resting, being with your family, and seeing God in the details
does not make you selfish – what you allow to consume your thoughts
and drive your motivations could be what’s making you selfish.

After reading this list – what is something that you know you need to change but you just haven’t followed through? Be Brave.  I dare you.

bitter betty strikes again

Well… it happened again.
The bitter-Betty in me came out.

I know, we’ve had this discussion before.  And yes, I know better.  And I know God created us all different.  And I know that I don’t have to look like someone else to be valued and to feel good about myself.  AND, I know that I could make better food choices.  And I know that I am wonderfully made … and I know that I could … blah blah blah.

So if I know all of this, why does Betty still come visit?  She’s never invited, she just shows up!  She typically shows up when I’m struggling through some pain and know it’s time to sit my rear down to rest.  I feel guilty sitting down, and she knows that.  I don’t want to sit down, and Betty knows that too.

I want to volunteer at my son’s school and go have lunch with him.  I want to make cute things off Pinterest for my front door or trim up my flowers and bushes around the house.  I want to make my house look nice and work on curtains for another room.  I want to go for a run.  I want to go out and have lunch with friends.  I want to go to all of the birthday parties and baby showers and dinners we are invited to.  I want to go meet at the park with other parents so our kids can run around and play.

But I know that I should be resting.
So I “rest.”
And stew.
And feel bitter.

Enter Betty, stage right:  Betty points out all the people who take for granted all of those things that I WANT to do.  She will show me who is skinny.  She will show me who can run marathons.  She will remind me who the “cool moms” are.  She will want me to look at Facebook so that I can compare all of my shortcomings to other people’s strengths, and she will want me to zoom in on all of the pictures from parties or lunches that I couldn’t attend.  Her favorite thing to do is remind me that I don’t get invited to many things anymore.  Ooooo, she loves that one!  It’s a real zinger and she knows it.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom.  Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.  Proverbs 3:7-8 NLT

  • My own wisdom: all the things I know
  • Turn away from evil: stewing and bitterness – and for crying out loud, turn away from BETTY!
  • Healing for my body: stop stewing = true resting = healing for my body
  • Strength for my bones: my bones are my framework, if my framework is stronger I’m less likely to crumble under pressure

My darling husband recently reminded me that it was much much harder for me to have to say “no” to the lunches, and showers, and parties, and ladies nights out than it is for me to not be invited to many anymore.  Because the truth is, packing my schedule full of all of those things isn’t healthy for me.  It will run me into the ground and my immune system will tank.  And I know this.  (reference wisdom bullet point above)

I have some spectacular friends who remind me gently to take some things off my schedule.  And I am so appreciative of that.  Because they help me do something that I sometimes struggle to do on my own.

I struggle to make the right choice.

It’s time to start choosing the path on which Betty is NOT standing with her coffee cup in-hand, eager to gossip and compare me to other people in my life.  Betty isn’t healthy for me.  And she isn’t healthy for you either.

Take a hike, Betty.  You wear me out.

the roller coaster of chronic pain

 

I live with chronic pain.  While my husband doesn’t physically have chronic pain, he too has to live with it. He lives with mine. Neither of us got manuals on how to live with this incredibly unfortunate disease, and sometimes that shows.  We think we are in a good rhythm and then our roller coaster cars drop from the highest peak and take us screaming through tight turns and unexpected plunges.

We just want off the roller coaster.  Amen?

From my perspective, here’s where my ticket to ride stems from:

  • I think I can handle more, so I take on more.  And then … I can’t handle it.  I panic.  Then I get sad.  Usually my over-commitment comes in the form of wanting to bring in more money so my husband doesn’t pass out from exhaustion.
  • I feel like I have already given up so much of what used to make up my “normal” life, that I cling to the last few things I do/have until my knuckles turn white.
  • My joy can be depleted on day 3 of immense pain – and then I am a grumpasaurus rex to my family, complete with drooling and teeth baring.

And here’s where my husband’s ticket to ride comes into play:

  • He wants to be helpful but he. is. exhausted.  He is working full-time (and then some for extra money), he cooks, he makes lunches, he does laundry, he cleans, he mows, he does repairs on the house, and sometimes he actually gets to go out with a friend for guy time.
  • He never knows what kind of day I’m having, therefore he never knows what he will be walking in the door to find after work, which is totally not fair and makes him put on a defensive suit somewhere between his truck and the door to the house.
  • He sees my tennis match of emotions (back and forth, back and forth) and he so badly wants me to just figure out that I’m different now and I have to act in accordance with my limitations.

Hold the phone.
I have limitations?

For the love of all things chronic – if you’re reading this and you suffer from chronic pain, YOU HAVE LIMITATIONS!  And guess what, if you’re reading this and you don’t suffer from chronic pain, YOU HAVE LIMITATIONS!

Why do I sometimes think I can do it all?  And I mean all.  It is usually about the time I am half-way through my grocery list in the store when the fatigue slams me, my feet start to spasm, and I have this overwhelming feeling to lay down on the packages of toilet paper on the shelf when I realize — “oh crap, I did it again.”

I want off this ride.
I didn’t ask to ride.
I want this ticket revoked!

Tough circus peanuts.  These are the cards I have been dealt.  I, Ann Skaehill, have fibromyalgia and a weak immune system.  I think it’s fair to say, this roller coaster is here to stay and it’s time for me to grow up and accept it.  I need to appreciate and care for my family FIRST before I fill my schedule with things that make me feel good about myself.  I need to be grateful for medications that can help with a few issues and TAKE THEM.  (Lord have mercy, medication is a whole blog post in itself!)

I’m getting there, but I’m not there yet.  I think if I can embrace this new reality more firmly, then the turns and drops on the roller coaster won’t be so alarming or drastic.  For me, or my husband.

Two days ago my 10-year-old son said, “Hey mom?  You know how sometimes you just get so mad at me for things I do or should have done?  … Well, maybe you can start giving me a sign that I should go in another room.  Why don’t you blink four times and I’ll take off running!”

Ouch.

Reality check.  When I open my mouth to speak, my son is flinching and expecting the worst.  That is a huge problem that I have addressed over the past 2 days with him.  Grumpasaurus rex may still appear from time to time, but I’m working towards her extinction.  Ain’t nobody got time for the damage a dinosaur makes in the modern age.

Today is a new day, and the Bible tells us in Psalm 30:5 that joy comes in the morning.  Embrace your clean slate, and make wise choices today.  First on my list? Washing all the sheets in the house and ensuring my family has good food to eat.  What should be first on your list today?