Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Time That 2017 Wasn't My Year...

You know how at the beginning of every year, right at 12:01a.m. when the fireworks are going off, and you feel a little invincible from the amount of bubbly you've had, usually everyone says "This is going to be my year! I can feel it! It's going to be a great year...best one yet!"
Well, that's almost how I started my year, but not quite.
Mine started off with fireworks with my mom and brother, some wine, and cigars. But my "This is going to be my year..." was actually a sad one. You see just 3 days prior to this night everything was phenomenal. Work was great, though repetitive and a little boring, my friends were great, my family was doing well, and I was planning on sharing a midnight kiss with someone who had come to mean the world to me. Then 2 days before New Year's Eve things changed, not in every way...just one...but that seemed to throw off everything else. The person I had been seeing and I called things off due to personal reasons...not anything bad that had happened between us...and that actually made it suck the most. It's easy when you catch someone in a terrible lie or they cheat on you to say "boy bye!" and z snap your way out of their life. And by easy I don't mean it doesn't still hurt. I just mean it's an actual reason. Not someone looking at their life and deciding you shouldn't be in it that way for a while because they need to sort some things out.

Fast forward a month, I was getting over my heartache, but work was getting difficult. I was having to deal with a lot from some people and it was setting my anxiety on high almost all the time. And to top that off I wasn't feeling well but I couldn't pinpoint what was wrong.
Fast forward a few more weeks and I was full blown sick. I even went to the ER at one point because I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something because my throat was swelling up and I couldn't breathe. They told me I only had a sore throat and I caused myself to have an anxiety attack.
Fast forward to about March, I was in bed all the time, completely exhausted. After my 8 hour shifts at work I would be so wiped out all I would do when I got home was eat a little something and crawl in bed. Even after getting 10-12 hours of restless sleep most nights I would still wake up more tired than I was when I went to sleep. My throat would swell at the weirdest of times and I would lose my breath even when I wasn't doing anything. I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared and many nights cried myself to sleep thinking I was probably dying (what up, anxiety attacks?!).
I went to my personal doctor and he would put me on antibiotics or steroids...and steroids would just make everything worse. They made me moody and cry at everything.
Eventually, I took matters into my own hands and picked an allergist to go and see to check if I was having a reaction to something. He was a Godsend and is totally and completely one of my favorite people on the planet. He helped me and put more time into what was going on with me than the prior 3 doctors I'd seen. Unfortunately, even though he helped, we still didn't figure out what was going on.

Enter my chiropractor (who, at the time, was just my mom's chiropractor). She is also a nutritionist extraordinaire and decided to run my blood test in one of her nutrition programs and it turned out I was likely sick with an autoimmune disease, which she said might be caused from a liver blockage (fun fact: your liver has over 500 functions so if it gets outta whack, so does your whole body). All of your body is connected and (kinda like a car) if one part stops functioning properly the rest of it is effected. She put me on a strict diet and a monitored cleanse (I will be writing a post later about the benefits of a doctor monitored cleanse and the dangers of doing a store bought at home cleanse) which consisted of cutting out anything that could stress my liver out (including coffee...what the hell are you doing to me body?!?), drinking an awful shake twice a day to help heal my stomach and intestines, and taking about 50+ supplements a day (I'm not kidding with that number). She is a strong believer in using your body to heal itself with proper diet, nutrition, and supplements. I also strongly believe in this. It was a struggle for months. There were days I would feel so much better and have SOO much energy finally that I thought everything was going to be better. Then a day or so later I wouldn't be able to get out of bed because of how tired I was again or I would feel like I wanted to throw up constantly...which I was never sure if that was from that shakes, supplements, or just a symptom. It didn't really matter though...I still felt awful.
Silver Lining: There were days I finally had some energy back and I didn't feel like staying in bed all the time. I was able to actually spend time with my best friend and nephew again and that filled my soul so much.

Most nights I would fall asleep begging God to just give me answers so I could start to get my body back on track. I would not pray for anything less than full healing. My God is a God of miracles and divine power so I was going to pray big prayers. Then my faith started to falter...I started praying smaller prayers. "God...I don't even care if I'm healed at this point. I just want answers." Day after day, sign after sign, it was made clear to me that I would get better but I needed to have faith...that it would take some time. But there was always this thought in my mind that I was being selfish for what I was asking for or that I was praying for the wrong thing. Verses kept popping up or things I would see would seem like signs or promises...so I started to pray big again.
Last week my mom went to the doctor because of the sickness she'd been experiencing and she was diagnosed (after several tests) with Celiac disease...which is hereditary, also an autoimmune disease. Her doctor now wants me to come and have the same tests done, since without even seeing me (just with my mom explaining my symptoms) they believe I have it, as well. I'm finally getting somewhere. I'm finally getting closer to having answers. I'm finally getting back to having energy to do things...heck, maybe I'll even be able to go back to the gym sometime soon (I love working out and I miss it SOOO friggin much). My mom is having to readjust her entire life with hardly an notice, and in turn we are trying to help and readjust ours too to make it easier on her. I may find out that I have to make the same changes for my own health and not just as a support for her.

It's the first of August and this year didn't turn out anything like I planned it would. I lost many months of my life to my bed and Netflix, I missed out on many adventures, I've spent more money on doctors visits than I even want to think about...2017 was not at all my year. But there is still time to turn it around, and I've actually had some really good things happen this year.
I started taking nutritional classes to further my knowledge and to be able to help my family, I started my own online business (www.justsojess.com what up shameless business plug!), I've gotten some priorities straight, I've learned the value of time well spent, I've grown in my relationship with God and my faith, and I found out who was really on my side. My life needed some adjusting and I was ignoring that. The universe has a way of getting your attention when you're trying to pretend you don't hear or see things.

SO. If you made it this far through ALL of that, first:I want to give you an internet high five. Second:I want to tell you the purpose of this blog now.
It's to share with you the things that I come across that are healthy and healing, but also delicious. Because in case y'all didn't know, your girl LOVES food. I'm one of those people who knows the adage of "eat to live don't live to eat" but there are days where I live for food...so it's gotta taste good. Also depending on what my doctors clear me for, I'll be updating you on actively living with an autoimmune disease. I travel, I work out, I go on mission trips...I'm not letting something like this stop me from all of that. So I'll be sharing what I find makes all that easier for me. So healthy living, exercise and staying active...what else...OH YEAH! And beauty. I love playing in makeup...always have. And since I have started my own online makeup company there will be posts about tips and tricks for makeup and skincare. My next post will probably be on the company and why I love them and their products so much.

Silver Lining: There is always good with the bad and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. A lot of things this year hurt, but a lot of it was necessary to get me to a better place and to give me that push to get out of my comfortzone and get my life going...we've only got one and I was content with how I was living mine. Not anymore. I will no longer be just living...I will be conquering and thriving. I won't just be talking about taking hold of what this life has to offer...I will actually be going for it(even though going for it kinda scares me...but all great things are on the other side of our comfort zones right?)
So let's see what happens next shall we?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Starting Over.

It has been a long while since I've posted anything. I kept telling myself once I got my blog redone, or once I did this or that, I'd start blogging again. I even decided to not have two separate blogs anymore so I stopped book blogging and planned on just doing it all right here.
That obviously never happened. So often ideas pop into my head about what I could write or how to start up my blog again but when I actually sat down to write every idea seemed so...blah. My list of books read each year keeps getting smaller and smaller and I don't live any special kind of life that anyone would really want to read about.
But it really came down to that I just missed writing sooo I'm just going to write about whatever.

So of that whatever will include:

In the very near future I'm going to start redesigning and repurposing things. I love going junking and I always see things to buy and have ideas of what could be done with them but never actually buy them since my space is limited. Then I had the lightbulb moment of why does it always have to be for me? Why not buy, redesign, and then sell so someone else can enjoy it? It's going to be so much fun! I'll post before and afters, how to's, tips & tricks...and mess ups, because I know there will be lots of those.

Once I finally get back into reading on a more regular basis I'll start posting reviews again...or book talk. I don't know if I really want to call them reviews anymore.

Also, I've been sick lately. And by lately, I mean the last 2 and a half months. At this point I'm not really sure you can say "sick" though. It's not realllllly sick. I've felt...unwell? Basically the gist of it is that at the beginning of February I went to the ER because my throat was swelling and I couldn't breath properly. The doctor there told me I had "viral pharyngitis" which is a fancy name for "sore throat". Sounds simple, right? No. It wasn't a normal sore throat. Instead of being sore I had swelling which it couldn't be predicted how bad the swelling could get. She said since it was viral there was no medications for it so I'd have to "wait it out", but it shouldn't last more than 10 days. 10 days turned into 2 weeks, turned into a month. It was awful. It's really scary not knowing when you're throat is going to swell and how much. Will it be a little or will it cut off my breathing this time?
So I finally went to see a PCP, but he too told me I'd have to wait it out, but everything else was fine so he wasn't worried. I was back in his office 3 days later because I wasn't able to breath. At that point he determined I had an URI (upper respiratory infection) so here, take these antibiotics and steroids and hit this inhaler every now and again and you'll be fine. Fast forward to now (I say fast forward it's because that was a month ago)...I still have swelling, I'm still having trouble breathing.
I thought about going back to my PCP for more testing (I have anxiety and basically it was telling me that I was dying and I should save everyone the time and just go bury myself in the back yard), I decided to go see an allergist/immunologist to see if he had any ideas.
He did.
After talking to me and doing some testing we narrowed down things that I am allergic to and how to possibly help the swelling in my throat. The shortness of breath he is attributing to seasonal asthma and we'll work on fixing that. As of this moment, he put me on new allergy pills better tailored to my unique set of allergies and steroids to help my throat and when I go back to see him (as long as this throat swelly, shortness of breath thing has passed) we'll start on allergy shots.
Relief is hardly the word for it. Even if it turns out to be something different and he needs to give me different treatment, I'll be okay with it. At least we're working in the right direction to get my body better without a bunch of invasive tests or trial and error "well it could be this so take this medicine or it could be this so we'll jack you up with this medicine until we find something that works".

Now I tell you all of that to follow it up with this. I had a lot of anxiety breakdowns over the last 2 months. It has really been a test to my mental health to know that something is very wrong with my body but have several medical professionals brush it off like no big deal. It got harder and harder each time I went to see someone and have them tell me "it'll go away soon, just wait it out". It usually ended with me coming home in tears because I knew something was not right, I know my body, and these people weren't listening.
I'd like to take this moment to shout out Momma and Papa Clark for never doubting me or telling me to get over it. Momma Clark has been taking me to all my appointments, not bothering me on days I can't even get out of bed, making sure I have everything I need, and Papa Clark pretty much told me to keep looking until I found someone that listened.
During all of that though, I have most definitely come to realize I have used and abused my body. I have put stupid toxic things into it and risked wasting the beautiful life I've been given. But on top of not fueling it properly, I expect it to perform above and beyond at the gym or when I'm outdoors hiking or rockclimbing and such. How can I expect so much from my flesh if I keep treating it the way I have been?
So, one of my main focuses will be creating a new healthy lifestyle for myself. And I mean lifestyle. It will not be a fad diet that I jump on for a couple weeks and when I feel better, just stop. No. Lifestyle. All encompassing. What I put into my body, what is around my body, how I use my body...but also mind and spirituality. I believe all are connected and you need all to be healthy to be balanced.
A big part of this blog will be working on my anxiety, my relationship with God, and treating my physical being better.

All in all I am excited for these next couple of months, but I also know there is going to be a lot of bumps along the way with getting my body to a healthy place again. I refuse to just sink into the depression I was on the verge of. It would have been so easy to just let go and drop everything. I couldn't really do anything anyway because of how I felt and how tired I was, so what did it matter anyway? I hardly have gotten out, I've hardly seen my friends, I can't barely make it to church, and work is so difficult...what did it matter?
But no, I'm not going to just give up that easily. Even if allergies and immunology isn't what fixes it, I'll just keep making appointments until someone somewhere finds out what's wrong. This blog will be a good thing, to keep me accountable to keep pushing forward, to keep living, and to keep striving to leave good in this world.

So here we go.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

If I Were Free From Anger...

Last week my lady's Bible study group started a new study called "Stuck". At first I only signed up because I really like the ladies at my table and wanted to continue through the end of the year with them, and I love that my pastor's wife is at my table. Kelli is one of my favorite people.
Then we actually started the study.

I knew there were some areas that I've been feeling stuck in, but I didn't think they were a big enough deal that this workbook would effect me the way it has. I really thought they weren't that important and would either go away eventually or I could handle them.
The first section was on feeling "Broken" which, coming from an abusive relationship, you can probably understand how at times I've felt broken. That's nothing new to me. That's something I've been meeting head on since I moved back home.
The next section though was on being "Mad". Sure I get mad sometimes. Don't we all? It's a human emotion. I learned something invaluable during my Bible time Monday night. I've been so determined to meet brokenness head on and not let that effect the rest of my life, or effect my future relationships, that I'd forgotten to deal with my anger.

There were questions in "Mad" that brought back that broken feeling, that feeling that took away the years of hard work. It was an area of my soul that I had shoved down so deep that I hoped if I ignored it it would just go away. It didn't. It hasn't.
The fill ins said to Name some of the rights you hold dear. I answered with:
- the right to be heard (who doesn't like being heard. You talk, you want people to not only pay attention, but to really listen)
- the right to be happy (after everything I've been through, it's only right, yes? It would make life fair.)
-  the right to be just as loved and adored as others (feeling important makes us feel good)
- the right to a fulfilling life (I want to make a difference and feel like my life meant something to someone)
- the right to a better life (coming out of an abusive relationship, a better life is only fair..)(apparently I'm a fan of 'fair')
-  the right to condemnation to the people who wronged me (Off with their heads!!...and other such dramatic things...)

That last one took me by surprise. I didn't even realize I had written it until it was already on my paper. I never thought of myself as a vengeful person, but in that moment I realized just how much I wanted certain people to suffer. How I would have been perfectly content to hear of bad times falling on my ex.
And then I felt ashamed.
The author of the study, Jennie Allen, reminded me of Galations 2:20 which states: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
The anger I have been holding onto is not godly and it's been holding my heart and soul in this place for so long, for too long. I have been praying for months for God to show me how to be released from this stuck place and I kept feeling a nudge for change, but I didn't know what to change. I was blind to how I was injuring myself.
Jennie then goes on to ask us "Who are you, Lord?" & "What do you want from me?" as a follow up to my above list. I answered:
You are bigger than my past hurts and failures. You hear my every word, my every thought, and know my deepest desires. You are the God, that before I was ever even born, You sent Your son to die for me to have a fulfilling life through You.
You have given me a voice that has soo much love for You and that's what You want people to hear. You want me to push aside and push passed the things and people that tried to break me and remember that You have my back and You are always with me and that Kingdom purposes are more important than dwelling on the past.


At Bible study last night the question "What would change if you were free from anger?" was asked.
I would be free to move on. I would have both hands free to hang on to the promises God set out for me instead of struggling to hold onto my anger and the wrongs done against me while trying to chase my future. I would be free to love fully with nothing holding me back.
Simply put, I. Would. Be. Free.

*"Jesus wants my dignity to come from Him, not how I was or am treated. There is a time and place for action against injustice and a time and place to pursue reconciliation. Whatever attack or injustice I might perceive, letting it wash over me without a fight, looking past my offender and at my God, is radical but the most powerful path to freedom. There is strength and intention in humility."

I left a bad place. A place where I was being used, controlled, and lied too. But I haven't let that place go. I haven't fully forgiven him for the terrible things he did to me, and while this does nothing to him, it's doing everything to me. God has been calling to me for so long now to give Him this place in my heart which I have tried to hide from Him and I never understood. I never knew what I was supposed to be letting go of until I read "Mad", until it was as big as a 10 foot neon sign flashing right in my face.
So while life is not fair all the time, it will be. Because I am finally letting go of my anger, I'm handing it over to God to do with it what He wants. I've learned from it and I know God will use what happened to me as a way to reach and teach others, but that no longer means me holding it inside.

"What would change if you were free from anger?"
I'm free from my anger now, so I will be waiting eagerly to see the things that have been waiting for me.


*From "Stuck"

Monday, September 8, 2014

Restless Passion

Have you ever asked someone about what they want to do in life, what their dreams are, and then sit there as their eyes light up while they tell you about the desires that truly come from the heart? They can't help but smile and tell you every detail they've thought of. Then usually at some point in the conversation of them telling you ideas, and you asking questions that get them to dig deeper into their dream, their eyes cloud over. They look down and start thinking about how silly they sound rambling on about this thing that has always been in their heart and on their mind. The mood changes drastically and you can't help but wonder why they think they sound so silly. Everyone has dreams, right? You have them, I have them, so why feel silly or out of line about wanting to pursue them?

I recently read a book for the book club that the ladies ministry at my church had for the summer called Restless by Jennie Allen. It came at the perfect time for me. When I read the back of this book I knew I needed to read it. It talks about feeling like you are made for more, but not sure what, or not sure how to go about it, or not sure if you will really be fulfilling your purpose.
A couple weeks before the books were announced I had been telling my mom how I'd been feeling lost and like I don't know what I want to do with my life and I don't know how to figure it out because there are so many things to pick from.
Everyone has just kind of assumed that this is something that has bothered me since I moved home 2 years ago and got divorced. False. It has been something that has always bothered me, though getting divorced was a good excuse for feeling lost too. It was a drastic change to my life. But I've always had these dreams that have always seemed too big and unrealistic so I tried to find other things to fill those places in my heart.
At one part in the book it talks about what your passions are. Did I know what I was passionate about? Jennie explained that people have passions mixed up with things that they love.
Passion is Latin for suffering. An intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction.
What Jennie was really asking was what am I willing to suffer for?

When I was 13 and becoming really active in a youth group our youth leader Robbie begged the question, what do you want your legacy to be? What do you feel like God is leading you to do to help and love those around you?
I had two dreams after that discussion. One was of serving in Kenya, Africa...and the other...well, it was to make music. To sing.
I brushed both dreams off thinking it was just a random coincidence that I had had them then, but things kept happening that said otherwise. I kept fighting against them though. All I could think was "What are people going to think of me? There's no way I'm special enough to do any of that." So I squished those hopes and dreams for years. They would rear up in my life every now and then, like when I participated in drama, singing for the church where I was apart of the youth, little nudgings about Africa here and there. But I continued to ignore it. I didn't feel worthy of such big tasks.
Then I got the chance to finally serve in Africa. It was incredible. And while I was in Kenya, one of the guys on the trip with us told us about how someone had spoke music over him before he even ever picked up a guitar. Now he is an incredibly accomplished musician and singer. He even has an EP out on iTunes. That was actually really discouraging to me. How was it that he had someone confirm something in his life before he had even considered it, but I had been praying and wondering about this very thing for about 12 years and God hadn't told anyone to speak life over me? (The irony that I was feeling discouraged about one dream while completing another dream was not lost on me)

Then I read Restless. My passion was enough. God doesn't put stirrings in our hearts unless it's for a good reason.
One activity in the book asked about our gifts and sufferings in life and my gifts and sufferings matched up. I am a ridiculously observant person and a great listener, mostly because for a good part of my life I have never felt heard or seen. People find it easy to cut me off when in conversations or just brush off what I say. I like giving people a voice. And in the midst of all this, I find hope in music, in telling peoples stories through song, in letting people be heard. I felt the stirring in my soul even more.
But then I started feeling selfish, like dreaming of such things was simply a fleshly desire and not a calling God would have. But as I continued in the book Jennie talked about all the different ways God uses talents. He wouldn't have created talents if they weren't meant to be used.
I had another dream. This time where both my love of music and my heart for Africa came together. Where I can use one to support the other, and I can use one to give a voice to people that desperately need and want to be heard.
There are moments in my life that I doubt many of the things I long for, but then God gives me a vision or a dream that I am heading in the right direction. Having someone speak over Matt about music was how he spoke to Matt...but that's not necessarily how he has chosen to speak to Jessica.

Some from here on out I will no longer let my smile falter when I talk about pursuing music. I don't know how I am going to do it or what will come of it but I have been nudged too many times to ignore it anymore. I know God has a plan to use it for my passion. I am willing to suffer for it. To put all other things on hold for these things. I will unapologetically say no to other things so I can make way for this thing. I want a free and passionate kind of living. There is not one part of me that exists by accident and I am no longer going to let something stop me from running wildly towards my purpose.

So that is the point of this posting. I am shouting to the world what I am passionate about. What makes my soul tick and what keeps me up at night. I will no longer be afraid to sound dumb, or selfish, or like I just want some kind of fame. That's not why I am doing this. I could care less about fame. I care about people. I love people. And I care about peoples souls. God knows this and he knew how he would have me work in this life. I am no longer going to be restless, but reckless. I am going to run wildly and reckless in the way that God is leading me so that when I die and stand before him I can tell him I used every once of talent he ever blessed me with.
 
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