Hurry

We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store

and the gas station and the green market and

Hurry up honey, I say, hurry hurry,

as she runs along two or three steps behind me

her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.

 

Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?

To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?

 

Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,

Honey I’m sorry I keep saying Hurry-

you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.

 

And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking

back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,

hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.

 

-Marie Howe from The Kingdom of Ordinary Time

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Tension

Last week, I gave my testimony at church.  I shared my story of chronic illness, of being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, and the emotional and spiritual effects of being sick.  If you want to listen to my testimony in its entirety, you can access it here. (Entitled Storrs Testimony 4.26.15)  I started my testimony by opening with this quote by Kat Duff, author of The Alchemy of Illness:

“There is, perhaps rightly so, an invisible rope that separates the sick from the well, so that each is repelled by the other, like magnets reversed. The well venture forth to accomplish great deeds in the world, while the sick turn back onto themselves and commune with the dead, neither can face the other very comfortably, without intrusions of envy, resentment, fear, or horror. Frankly, from the viewpoint of illness, healthy people seem ridiculous, even a touch dangerous, in their blinded busyness, marching like soldiers to the drumbeat of duty and desire.”

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And by the end of my testimony, I said that I disagreed with this quote, even though her precise words give profound insight to the “different worlds” the sick and the well tend to inhabit.  The sick and the well shouldn’t be separate.  If we are the church, we should still do relationship together, learning, struggling, celebrating and mourning together.  And that’s hard work, and it’s extremely uncomfortable.  The sick can tend to be jealous and bitter towards everything the person who is healthy can do.  And the healthy person, who can have more relationships and activities can think the sick person is lazy, lacking willpower, and is ignorant to the daily mental battle.

The tension is worth it though, it leads to change in both people.  It leads to a willingness to understand someone who is different, a willingness to explore difficult emotions.  Yet tension in relationship should be more of the norm.  Healthy relationships are hard work-especially if differences multiply.  Yet as time slows down, and we listen to one another, truer, deeper friendships emerge.

Do we as the church just gather those people who are similar to us?  

How much do we appreciate diversity of all forms?

What healthy tensions exist in your friendships?

Longings

A few years back, I wrote out longings instead of goals for the year.  After the first year, I decided that this would be a good yearly practice.  When I think about longings instead of goals, I tend to be more relationship-driven, more focused on my character and my emotions.  I care about self-care, friendships, maturity, and learning rather than projects that need a deadline.  It’s less about self-improvement and re-inventing myself, and more about what I hope and dream about.

I wrote mine in early January, and it was hard to write.  Christmas break dragged on, as I laid in bed, feeling so fatigued and helpless, unsure of what to do to help myself.  Dreaming when I felt like shit seemed like an impossible task, yet I made myself, with the encouragement of a few friends.  My wrinkled paper of longings resides on my bedside table, and I read them weekly.

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One of my longings is: Indy feels like home, with strong and growing roots.

Currently, this is happening in small ways.  I recently became a member of Redeemer Presbyterian Church.  I have taken a few writing classes with the Indiana Writer’s Center this winter and spring.  The Indy Winter’s Farmer’s Market and a yoga class was a winter Saturday morning rhythm.  I buy meat and vegetables from local farmers.  I have found an excellent doctor, who has me on a treatment plan that is working.  My nutritionist responds to any food question I have promptly.  Friendships are deepening with a few.  I have favorite parks, walking routes, coffee shops, bookstores, neighborhoods, restaurants, grocery stores.  Last week I ran into a friend at a coffee shop and felt like a local.

One of my hopes for the near future is for an AutoImmune Paleo dinner club where several of us can eat everything that is on the table, rather than saying “No” to 85% of what is served.  I’ll keep you posted.

What are your longings?  What does “home” feel like to you?

Back and Forth

This post is a collaborative effort between my friend Chels and me.  Together we want to share about the back and forth of health and illness and how we make friendship work in the midst of this.  Chels started chemo in November and I started getting amino acid injections for Hashimoto’s in February.  Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about long distance friendship in sickness-and we’re stronger friends for doing this journey together.

We became friends largely because we were honest about our lives.  Then by the fall, both of us were really sick, and that drew us closer together really quickly.  Yet, currently we are learning the dance of back and forth, of changing expectations as I get better and Chels gets worse, as she continues dealing with the affects of chemo and radiation.  Our relationship is changing and we have doubts.  Chels has to harness her strength to work and recover.  And as I continue to gain more of a semblance of health,  I can think more about my future.  Tension builds, and yet we cling to our friendship.

 

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Chels stated to me in a conversation during this trip to Memphis, “I have to remember that you love me and want to talk to me.  I don’t exactly know how bad I’m getting, but I know that talking to me is hard.”

My doubts look like this: “What do I tell her and not tell her?  Do I hide the fact that I’m getting better?  What information is going to hurt her? Help her?”

We make mistakes.  Lots of them.  Sometimes I disclose too much, and sometimes Chels doubts that I love her.  But we do the day to day well.  We do the back and forth well.  Sometimes that looks like lots of movies or HGTV, naps, and short walks.  Other days we have longer conversations and can plan adventures. And we’ve learned to just let each day stand on its own.

Neither of us know what the future holds.  In honesty, none of us do.  But we will enjoy today; our friendship is too important not to.

What is the glue in your friendships?  What back-and-forths exist with your friends?

Health Update

I had my first follow-up appointment last week, after being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s two months ago.

And there was good news!  I do not have any additional autoimmune diseases and the amino acid injections are working.  My antibody counts cut in half in two months.  The goal of the amino acid injections is to target and prevent the antibodies from replicating, halting the destruction of my thyroid gland.

I am continuing my elimination diet, and eating gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free (outside of a little bit of fruit) as a lifestyle.  It’s hard work to change habits, to face cravings and not indulge them, to say “no” to so many foods offered to me.  Some people ask, “When do you get to stop that crazy diet?” The answer is: I don’t.  It’s how I’m going to eat for life, for my health & energy’s sake.

What’s changed?

  • Consistent sleep, rather than long periods of insomnia
  • Curbing sugar cravings and replacing those with bone broth, fermented vegetables, and healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil.
  • Acne has cleared up going dairy-free.
  • Increased energy, both mentally and physically.  Less brain fog.

I will continue injections at least for the next 10 months, continue with my nutrition plan, follow-up lab work and appointments, and I’m starting PT to try to help with leg pain I still experience.

Thanks for celebrating with me 🙂

 

Resurrection Reality

Yesterday, we celebrated the epicenter of the Christian faith-the resurrection of Christ.  A time of anticipation and heightened emotions.  Maybe a time to more readily hope in Christ’s power, to remember the centrality of the Christian faith.

But maybe not.  Maybe a time of pain and grief, and it’s hard to celebrate with “everyone else.”  Maybe a time of questions, but it doesn’t seem like the correct time to be skeptical.  Maybe a time of confusion, as the resurrection doesn’t seem to fit with reality.

Post-Easter, the story of the two men on the road to Emmaus encourages me.  These men were close friends with Jesus’ disciples, saw the crucifixion, and knew that Christ was no longer found in the tomb, and heard that He may have risen from the dead.  They were talking on the road when Christ appeared on the road with them, and they didn’t know it.  Christ acted like he didn’t know about anything that was going on.  Christ then opened the Scriptures, showing them how all Scripture points to His Person-and the reality of his death and resurrection.

But these men didn’t recognize Christ Himself until he took the bread, blessed and broke it and gave it to them.

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Why? I don’t know for sure.  But I take comfort that there seems to be a vibrant reality that Christ is present in the Lord’s Supper.  That I, a believer who doubts, forgets, questions, laments, and gets angry with God, I am brought to recognize Christ, who gives Himself to us in the Lord’s Supper.  I need to know that He is here on Easter and every day.  I need to be free to admit that I’m human-dependent, weak, and limited.  I am made to need Him; and He needs to give Himself to me.  And He gives Himself to me, as one who is broken, as One who rose again with his wounds visible.

So on this day after Easter, know that Easter is not simply just to remember that Christ died for your sin and rose again conquering death and restoring your relationship with God.  These events are historically true, and it is faithful to remember and are central to the Person of Christ.  Yet in this account, these men did not recognize Christ in Scripture, in prophecies fulfilled, in making “connections” between present events and Scripture.

Christ among them with His broken body: this was their comfort.  

I pray that this Easter is not a time to “forget your pain because Christ rose again and is victorious over sin and death.”  May this Easter be a time to declare that “The Lord has risen indeed” and then tell your story of walking on the road with Jesus and not recognizing Him, whether because of confusion, pain, grief, or ignorance.   I pray He is known to you in the breaking of the bread, that His presence, and His broken body be your source of comfort.

He rose the wounded healer; the resurrection reality is that He makes Himself known, slowly and over time.

Take comfort that He still bears your wounds.  Rejoice that Christ is alive, yet know that the celebration does not negate your pain.

You are known by the Wounded One.

A Small Celebration

Last week, I got to experience my own personal Spring Break in Memphis.  I drove south, spent time in 70 degree weather, and soaked up time with my best friend, Chels.  We spent time in a park, watched lots of March Madness, and made a pizza.

The pizza making experience was meaningful for several reasons:

1. We wanted to make a pizza together over Christmas break and that didn’t happen.

2. I’m on a pretty crazy diet right now, so we made the crust out of cauliflower and our own sauce without all the added sugar.  She also discovered that dairy free cheese exists at Whole Foods!

3. Chels researched how I could still eat pizza, and texted me updates before I got to Memphis about how she combined many different recipes.

4. I have an auto-immune disease and Chels has cancer.  We both have such limited energy, so making a pizza was our big event of the day, even our week.

And yet, even this “big event of the week” wasn’t glamorous.  It was very everyday and mundane.  Making the pizza took a long time and I was hungry and grumpy, trying to enjoy the process, even though all I kept seeing was more and more dishes and less and less energy.

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But we did it!  And as we sat down to watch our beloved Wisconsin Badgers’ debut game in the tournament, I just looked at my friend and was thankful.  I have a friend who encourages me to be faithful in the mundane, by her sheer existence, and how she fights for her very life. And I’m doubly blessed because she looks at me, and sees someone who is brave, rather than someone who has a “less severe illness.”  Our friendship is marked by good/hard conversations, park walks, basketball games, lingering meals, goofy texts, repeated “classic” questions, and our love of T-shirts and sweatpants.

Our friendship has been cultivated in the slowness, in our rest.  Even as long hours of rest are a necessity and we mourn, for we are still in our 20’s and desire to be healthy and vibrant.  But a really strong love has been built.

Do we wish our lives were different?  Yes, absolutely.

Would we sacrifice our friendship to be someone different? No.

We’ve learned to grieve and do the difficult every day together, and 7 hours apart.

And we’ve learned to be glad in the small pizza celebrations.

What are you celebrating with friends right now?  

For Every Season

Ecclesiastes 3

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what has been planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

 

A time to break down.  That’s my current season, even as the building up finds its way in, every time like a surprise.

Sifting through layers of my life has allowed me to see the core of my identity, years of running, and misplaced affections.  Lingering in this season is scary, but it’s necessary.  Breaking down can feel like failure or giving up, but in reality it wipes away the facade.  And the scarier part comes in letting people see the breakdown and in learning to explain how you are changing and why.  Some people have been disappointed, yet others have come alongside and slowly commence the build-up process.

Which seasons define your life currently?  How do you feel being in that particular season?  Who is coming alongside you?

 

Self-Esteem, Aldi & Avacados

It’s amazing how human it is to put people in categories or to make quick assumptions, rather than wonder about their story.  I do this-you do this-it’s human.  A simple way I regularly experience labels sounds like this: “the girl on the Paleo diet,” “the healthy girl,” or “the girl who eats a salad for lunch.”

Sometimes I laugh.  For so long, I was “the girl who ate whatever she wanted because she was a runner.”  Frosting and graham crackers was the favored snack I would eat after my track meet was over.  I have a ravenous sweet tooth, that I’ve had to work on in the course of changing my diet.  In the past, I would not have been called “healthy” because of my eating habits, but instead because I ran.

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And now, it’s quite the opposite.  This picture displays what I bought in the check out line at Aldi a few weeks ago.  The grocery list was: 3 bags of whole almonds, 3 avocados, celery, green peppers,  carrots, Roma tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli and olive oil.  The remark from the lady behind me was “Well, aren’t you healthy?  I wish I had discipline for that.”  In another previous Aldi shopping experience, a lady was actively recruiting me to be her nutritionist and quickly inform her about “healthy versions” of foods.

My current diet consists of: meats (minus some), veggies (minus potatoes-insert sad face), nuts (minus some), chicken broth, fermented vegetables, and grapefruit.  A not as restrictive diet with lots of meat and veggies and very few carbs and sugars is called the Paleo diet.  So sometimes I’m the “Paleo girl.”

Yet underneath all the small-talk and banter at the grocery store, I am forced to lament.  I am not healthy, but sick.  I buy groceries like I do, because I have to depend on the food I eat to help me get better.  But people think I look fine and assumptions are made.  I daily navigate letting people assume but also looking for proper situations to be honest and inform.

In those interactions, though I am forced to see myself.

Do I go about my daily life, observing and wondering without critiquing, or making assumptions so I feel better about myself?  

Do I wonder about “why” with compassion, admitting that I don’t know what it’s like to live with another person’s particular hardship or setback? 

Culturally, dieting is trendy.  And the assumptions made about me sting because I actually don’t want to be put up on a platform for my disciplined eating habits.  And I often don’t want to hear that “I’m fine just the way I am” or “Honey, you don’t need to lose any weight.” My self-esteem is rolled along the conveyor belt with my avocados.

And in the grocery store, my mind jumps back to a scene four years prior.  I was at a routine doctor’s appointment in Chicago checking my thyroid levels.  I explained that my fatigue level was high, and that I got more fatigued by exercising. My doctor then launched into a monologue, expressing that I was more fatigued because I gained two pounds and I should be exercising 6 times a week instead of 5.  It was my fault.

I wasn’t the magical formula girl.  I couldn’t just make my fatigue go away by random gluten-free diets, being really structured, or working out.  Yet because I have to make tenacious (or random trial and error) decisions about my health, incorrect assumptions will always be made at some level.

But I hope, that along with me, you want to be known.  In spite of the incorrect assumptions made about you .  Simply because you think that knowing and being known is worth the risk.