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I Can Go Shoe Shopping!

 It’s been about 9 years since I went shopping for shoes.

Not only are shoe stores full of toxins. But even if I could have gone into a shoe store all the shoes are made in China, so what’s the point of looking?

A few years ago my mom went shoe shopping for me, but it was frustrating and fruitless. She gave up looking in the stores, and we finally found some shoes (made in Italy) that I could wear by searching online. And I’ve been wearing the same pair of shoes for the last 3 years. (Not complaining, I’m thankful to have them!)

Well, last week we were in a small town in Missouri visiting one of mom’s friends and right next door there was a little shoe store. So I decided to pop in and take a look. And they were having a sale! =)

I spent about an hour looking, reading labels, and trying on shoes. After all the years of no shoe shopping, I guess I had a lot of catching up to do! =)

I was so excited that they had several shoes not made in China! I finally settled on these little darlings – hoping they’ll inspire me to get serious about exercise now. =)

My mom couldn’t believe I stayed in the store for so long, but I did fine, praise God! And I had a great conversation with the sales lady as well (who was incredibly patient with me). I ended up praying with her before I left for a need she had. I felt like it was a divine appointment from the Lord.

We never know when, where and how God wants to use us to bless others, even in a shoe store. =) So for more than one reason, I’m thankful that I Can go shoe shopping!

Hooray for new shoes!

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How To Express Love & Support To Those With Chronic Illness (Part 1)

I’m so thankful for the many people who have expressed their love and support to me over the last 9 years! Living with EI or any chronic illness is a huge challenge. Having support from others is vital.

So today’s post (and next week’s) will be for those who know others with chronic illness, and want to bless and encourage them, but aren’t sure how.
(If you live with chronic illness, perhaps you can refer your friends and family to these posts as a helpful resource.) 
From my personal experiences and observations, I thought of some basic “Do’s” and “Don’ts.” This week is the list of “Don’ts,” and next week will be the “Do’s.” 
Don’ts –
1) Never place blame on the sick person. 
Blame is a form of accusation, and all accusation comes from the enemy. Even if the person might have in part brought on their illness (such as from smoking, alcohol abuse, etc.), blaming them is not loving, it’s not God’s way. Blame doesn’t bring healing, it only makes the problem worse.
2) Generally speaking, don’t offer medical advice or suggestions. 
If you find helpful health information that you really think will benefit someone, pray about it for a week before saying anything. Make sure you have peace from God that He wants you to share it. If so, then present the information in a no strings attached, “do whatever you think is best” approach. Provide the information, then leave it up to the person to decide.
Or, if the person has a caregiver, you can share the information with them and they can decide whether to pass it on or not. 
Obviously, I’m very thankful for the people who shared certain health information and doctor recommendations with me. However, there were a lot of other suggestions that didn’t work for me or made me worse. Remember that everyone is different and most things don’t work for everyone. 
3) Don’t involve the person in a stressful conversation, unless absolutely necessary. 
Those with chronic illness have a very low stress tolerance. And something that doesn’t seem stressful to you, can be overwhelming to them. 
This also includes avoiding conversations about negative things such as the bad state of politics, terrible results of natural disasters, etc. Try to focus on positive topics instead.
If there is a genuine need to discuss something stressful, give the person a heads-up so they know it’s coming. Then set a time limit and don’t prolong the conversation. And be sure to affirm them personally throughout the conversation so they are reassured of your love, acceptance, and support. 
4) Don’t place expectations on the person.
Living with chronic illness is a continual battle against discouragement. Expectations from others only fuel a negative cycle of frustration and despair. 
Most people with chronic illness don’t need “motivation.” They need unconditional acceptance. Don’t expect them to do what you do, or even to be like they used to be when they were healthy. Accept them where they are and trust God that He is working out a good plan for them even through the illness.
5) Don’t make assumptions about the person’s thoughts or behaviors. 
For years my life was so crazy that I didn’t know what to do with it, let alone how to explain it to others. Many times people easily could have made wrong assumptions about me based on my seemingly inconsistent behavior. I was simply trying to survive the roller-coaster of my life, but from an outside perspective I’m sure it didn’t make sense. 
Please don’t assume you know the reasons for a person’s actions or what they’re thinking. Recognize that you don’t understand what their life is like. Choose to believe the best instead of assuming the worst. 
6) Don’t give up.
For many people chronic illness can drag on for years. It takes a special commitment to continue caring about that person. But it means the world to them to know you haven’t given up on them. 
Even if all you do is send an email once a month that says “I’m thinking of you and praying for you” – keep reaching out in some way to let them know you care. Every thought or prayer is your opportunity to bless them. And you will be blessed as you continue to be part of God’s work in their life.
I’m so grateful for the people in my life who didn’t blame me, place expectations on me, or make assumptions about me. They didn’t give up on me, but continued to pray for and encourage me. It’s hard enough to endure a chronic illness. Having understanding, supporting people in your life makes such a difference! 
I hope these tips will help you in expressing your support to others more effectively. 
Any questions or comments?


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I Can Go To A Conference!

Hello! I’m sorry this post is a day late. I finally got to a place where I have internet on my computer. Yeah! =)
Anyway, my road trip is going well, praise God! And I had a fabulous time at the “Awaken NOW” conference (Thur. through Sat.). 
I haven’t been to a conference since I think 2002. It was so amazing to be there with thousands of people, all excited and eager to learn. The speakers were amazing! The energy was contagious. 
I had a few challenging moments that I had to work through. But overall I did really well! God answered prayers for me every step of the way. 
After so many years of isolated living, it was incredible to be surrounded by people all weekend. I loved it! =) I was encouraged and challenged by the messages I heard. I was blessed by the prayer and worship times. I’m just so grateful I got to be there! 
I don’t know exactly what God has in store for me in the future, but I hope I’ll get to attend many more conferences like this one! 
Thank you God that you made it possible. Thank you that I Can go to a conference! 

My friend Jenn and I stretching our legs during one of the breaks.
 Non-toxic woman & I enjoying the conference. We had great seats! =)

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BodyTalk

A few months ago God led me to add something new to my health program, a method called “BodyTalk.” http://www.bodytalksystem.com/ 

There’s a lot of information on their website (though personally I wouldn’t have tried it just from looking at the website). I have a friend who was recently certified with BodyTalk, so I decided to try it for 2 reasons:
1) My friend is a wonderful Christian. 
It’s important to me that the health personnel I work with are Christians. That way I know we have the same perspective – that God created our bodies and designed them to heal, and that He is the One who works healing in our lives.
2) My friend knows me. 
We met before my health crashed, so she knew me when I was still healthy. She also understands what I’ve been through in recent years.  
So far I’ve had four BodyTalk sessions, and I’ve found it intriguing and helpful. 
If you haven’t tried anything except regular medical doctors, then BodyTalk might be too much of a stretch for you. I’ve tried so many different things over the years that I’m open to just about anything (as long as I have peace from God about it). 
What I like about BodyTalk is how it works to restore areas of communication within your body, such as from your brain to your gut, or your spine to your liver, etc. 
I’m continually amazed at the intricate way God created our bodies. And I think this method has much validity for helping the body find and resolve various problems on its own.
Personally, I’m grateful for every extra thing I can do to improve my health. And I’ve been quite happy with BodyTalk so far. 
If you have questions or are interested in contacting my friend, let me know. She has a sweet, servant heart and loves to help people improve their health. 

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I Can Go On A Road Trip!

It’s been four years since my last road trip, and that one was not for pleasure. (I was very sick at the time and traveling was grueling. However, I did see some helpful doctors, so I thank God that He brought good from all the hardship of that trip.) 

But now I’m embarking on a two-week road trip for FUN! =) 
I’ve been planning this trip since April, and I’m super excited about it! I know it’ll be a challenge physically, but I also think it’ll be really good for me. 
First I’m going to a Bible conference in TX, then to AR and MO to visit friends and family. I’m not sure how the details will work out (as far as trying to eat healthy on the road, staying in other’s people’s homes, etc.). But I’m trusting that God is going before me and will meet all my needs. 
This trip is a big step of faith for me. I appreciate your prayers if you think of me (and for “non-toxic woman” as well – couldn’t do this without her). 
God has brought me so far from 4 years ago until today. I praise Him for His healing work in my life! And I’m so happy that I Can go on a road trip! =)
P.S. I’ll try to keep up with my normal blog schedule, but if I can’t, you’ll know it’s because I’m having so much fun! =) I’ll try to post some photos along the way. =)
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Tips for Dealing With Stress

Stress is a pretty hot topic these days, as it should be. It seems people have never been more stressed-out than they are now. In spite of modern “conveniences,” for many people life has gotten more complicated, more frenzied, and more demanding. 

However, living with ongoing stress causes all kinds of health problems (such as heart disease, digestive problems, depression, autoimmune diseases, etc.). 
So what can we do to reduce stress? Here are a few tips:
Physically:
1) Lymphatic Massage
This specific kind of massage is excellent for de-stressing the body. It’s a relaxing massage that also stimulates the body’s natural healing processes. My massage therapist recommends having a lymphatic massage at least twice a month, or every week if possible.
2) Exercise
 Research clearly shows that regular exercise is necessary and beneficial for almost everyone.
(If you have a severe adrenal or thyroid condition, then it’s often better not to exercise until the condition improves. For many months I didn’t attempt exercise because it would have made my condition worse. Be sure to listen to your body and to your health provider so you know it’s safe for you to begin exercising.) 
The kind of exercise that is best depends on each individual’s condition and specific needs. For many people walking is the best exercise. Others can handle a more strenuous program. It’s important to figure out what is best for where you are right now and then start! 
(My current exercise program is about 6 minutes of low-impact aerobics 5 days a week. It’s not much, but it’s what my body can handle right now.)
Consistent exercise reduces stress in the body and boosts health in many other ways as well. 
3) Deep Breathing
 Most people don’t breathe well. Taking a few minutes 2-3 times a day to practice deep breathing can help reduce stress in your body. 
You can do this standing (take a big breath in while raising your arms over your head, then slowly exhale while you lower your arms). Or you can do it while lying on your back (inhale deeply, filling first your diaphragm then your lungs with air, then exhale slowly). 
Also, when you’re confronted with a stressful situation, form a habit of stopping to take a deep breath in and then releasing slowly. This will calm the stress reaction and help you think more clearly about how to respond.
4) Laughter
Laughing actually shifts the body from a stress response to a relaxed state. (It has many other great benefits, including increasing endorphins, boosting the immune system, and giving your heart a workout). 
Dr. Don Colbert recommends 20 seconds of belly laughter 10 times a day. So find some comedy videos, read a joke book, or just laugh for no reason! You’ll be glad you did. =) 
These four things are great for physically reducing stress in our bodies. 
Spiritually/Emotionally:
5) Prayer partner 
 Ask someone you know to be a weekly prayer partner. You can meet with them face to face or over the phone. Sharing your needs and requests with another person and then praying together can do wonders to reduce stress. 
God says to be anxious for nothing, but in all things with prayer, petition, and thanksgiving to present our requests to Him. And He promises that His supernatural peace will guard our hearts and minds (Phil. 4:6-7). 
Even though we can do this on our own, I’ve found that having a prayer partner to share my requests and prayers with helps me tremendously.
6) Worship time
 If you haven’t already, start a habit of spending at least 10 minutes a day simply worshiping God. 
It’s great to sing along to praise music throughout the day. But it’s even more vital to set aside a specific time with no agenda, no multi-tasking, and no distractions. Then you can focus on God – how great He is, how much He loves you, His faithfulness, etc. 
So get comfy on the couch, stand in your backyard, or hide in your closet if necessary, and spend some time singing praise to God and worshiping Him.
If you try this for a week, I think you’ll be amazed at how much it brings down your stress level. As you focus intentionally on God, the cares and stress of this life gradually fade to their proper perspective. 
These two habits have wonderful potential to lower stress and enhance your spiritual/emotional health.
Practically:
7) Simplify
 – Your schedule
Most people are way too busy, resulting in feeling stressed out all the time. Pray over your schedule and see what activities or commitments you can cancel. Let God guide you in His plan for investing your time, then happily let go of the rest. =) 
 – Your environment 
We all have more stuff than we need. Take some time to find things you can give away, sell or throw away (or make a habit of reducing excess clutter little by little). Worrying about “stuff” causes unnecessary stress. Research shows that often people with fewer possessions are happier than those with much. So keep your “stuff” simple.
 – Your media intake
Today we’re bombarded with media 24/7. With smart phones we’re never “unplugged” from news, email, Facebook, blogs, etc. But this deluge of media actually adds stress. Take a realistic look at how much media you consume daily. Then find ways to cut back and allow yourself time off to breathe and enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures. =) 
It takes effort to simplify and keep life simple, but the rewards of a more focused, less-stressed life and truly worth it! 
I hope these tips are helpful. What ideas would you like to add for dealing with stress?
  
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I Can Drive!

I LOVE being able to just hop in the car and drive to Wal-mart or the grocery store or the Post Office. I know most people take the ability to drive for granted, but for me it’s still a thrill! =)
For so many years, I not only couldn’t drive, I couldn’t even sit in the front seat of the car when we went somewhere. I usually had to lay down in the back seat because I didn’t have enough energy to sit up for long.
Driving requires physical energy and mental focus (at least for most people). =) I imagine some people would be glad not to drive anywhere for a while. Sometimes it seems like they spend half their life in the car. But for most of us, driving is a necessary part of the way we live.
I’m so grateful that I’ve had such a kind “chauffeur” all these years (thanks Mom!). But I think she’s as happy as I am that now I Can drive! 
Who has served you in a special way during a trial? How can you express your appreciation to them?
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Free In Spirit

Happy 4th of July USA! Today we celebrate the birth of our country and the privilege of living with freedom.

However, even people who live in a “free” country can still be in bondage. For years I felt like my health problems kept me bound, like chains constricting me. Until God showed me that true freedom is rooted in our spirits, not in our circumstances. 
The first step of freedom is knowing Jesus as personal Savior. Once He delivers us from the fear of death, our hearts know true freedom. However, many things in this world still attempt to bind us. Embracing freedom in our spirits is an ongoing process. 
I wrote about this in my first book, Grace In Time Of Need. I hope this excerpt will encourage you today. Praise God that HE is the one who gives true freedom! 
Chains
One thing I dislike about suffering is the feeling of helplessness, of being bound by my circumstances and unable to do anything about it. It feels like being in prison or dragging around heavy chains.
Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me. -Psalm 142:7
Whenever I would read this verse, I would ask God to set me free from the prison of my circumstances. Hundreds of people have prayed for my physical healing. Wouldn’t God be praised if He “set me free”? Year after year went by, and still God’s answer was “no.” I tried to trust that He had a better plan, but that didn’t stop me from continuing to ask for healing.
One day as I prayed yet again to be set free from my “chains,” God opened my spiritual eyes to see more clearly. He showed me that my health problems were not the real “chains.” They were like dental floss compared to the chains I had been blind to for so long. What really bound me were chains of fear, resentment, idolatry and self-centeredness. 
These sins had been part of my life for so long, I didn’t even see them. It was only through the pain of my physical problems that the Lord brought such important heart issues to light. Those were the “chains” He wanted to remove. I couldn’t be set free from my prison until I saw clearly that the prison was not my circumstances but my sin. Then I asked Jesus to set me free. And set me free He did!
Being delivered from the chains of our sin is a process. As the Holy Spirit exposed my sins one by one, I faced them openly. I confessed them and asked God to replace the patterns of wrong thinking that I’d developed with His truth. Then I rejoiced as God poured out His forgiveness and healing. It’s His grace that works through our pain to bring the true freedom we so desperately need.
What I once saw as a prison – my health problems – became the means God used to set me free from the real chains in my life. I still have the health problems. I still ask God to heal me. But, I also ask Him to keep using my circumstances to show me the areas of my heart that need His healing and freedom. And I thank Him for allowing the hard times I need, so He can continue to set me free from chains I can’t see.
What “prison” are you in right now? Maybe it’s God’s way of reaching deeper into your heart to show you the real chains of sin you’re not seeing. He longs to set you free from those, so that you might praise His name.
O LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. -Psalm 116:16
(excerpted from Grace In Time Of Need by Joanna K. Harris)

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I Can Hug People!

Last year I wrote this post about needing hugs. Living with E.I. for so many years put me way behind on my “quota” of hugs. 
But I’m happy to say I’m finally catching up on all those hugs I missed for so many years! =) 
I love going to church and getting lots of hugs from my church family. And I usually don’t even think about if people are wearing fragrances or not! It’s just great to see them and share a hug. (Though I still advocate fragrance-free living as much as possible.) 
I also love the hugs from my nieces and nephews. There were many times in the past when they’d come to visit me and could only wave at me through the front window (because I couldn’t go out and I couldn’t have them inside). But now I often go to their house or even visit their church on occasion, and I always treasure their sweet hugs! =)
It’s wonderful to know intellectually that people care about you, but a hug is a tangible expression of their love. I’m so thankful that after all the difficult years I Can hug people once again! 
Who can you hug today? 
(here’s a “hug” from God just for you) =)
(P.S. If you’re still in a place of isolation because of E.I., I pray that God will send you a very special “hug” from His heart today. 
And here’s an e-hug from me!) =)