Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Taking Life Back

It has been a long time since I have written a post about anything. Close to 3 months to be precise, because the last three months of my life have been a whirlwind of personal crisis and all the emotions that come along with that. It wasn't long before all this took place that I had found myself in a place of perfect peace in the Lord, thanks to the "happy habits" I had written about in a previous post. Seeking God above all other things and spending time with Him every morning when I woke up, along with a healthy eating and exercise routine, kept me feeling strong through my mom's illness and through waiting to conceive a child that I felt God had clearly spoken to my heart about. That was one of those things I was surprised about when it happened, because we thought adoption would be the only way we would add to our family since our son does have a genetic disorder. So since I knew God promised me that if we asked, we would receive what we hoped for in the depths of our hearts, a healthy sibling for Lucas who has no disability. We kept asking, and we kept trying, and then on day in early July I finally saw the positive pregnancy test I had longed for, and I just hoped and prayed that my mother would live long enough to meet her next grandchild. She loved the one she had more than life.

We felt so confident that this pregnancy was the completion of God's plan for our family, and my stomach was rapidly expanding just as it did with Lucas, when I could hardly keep the secret. So we excitedly announced to everyone we knew that we were expecting our second child. Without reliving all the painful details, this was not to be the child that God spoke to my heart about. Instead a miscarriage began one weekend in early September, just a few days after my birthday, and ended with such pain and heavy bleeding that I landed in the hospital and had to stay the night. All the while I was needed at home to help take care of my mother, whose health failed more rapidly by the day. She was diagnosed with both dementia and ALS and I was my dad's only help. I went home from the hospital wanting to hide from the whole world, cry my heart out, and just be left alone, and never speaking about what had just happened to me because it hurt too badly to say the words to my friends, no matter how much they wanted to love and support me. But I didn't have time to grieve the way I wished I could. My parents needed my help. 

Feeling like I needed an extra boost to keep putting one foot in front of the other in the incredible darkness I felt after my loss, I ran to the doctor to get back on anti-depressants, something I had only done once before even though depression has been a struggle of mine for many years. I usually manage it well because of God. It's only because of His strength and deliverance for me that I come out of it every time it comes for me, and again, the way I eat and exercise can also make a big difference. Well unfortunately, in times of high stress, I like to eat badly, even though I KNOW it won't help and will ultimately make me feel worse, stress eating remains a kind of disorder I have to determine to fight against every day. It's a thing that you feel like you can be free from, until the next terribly stressful time rolls around, and then you know that your drug of choice still has a hold on you. I felt compelled to eat what would bring me momentary joy. I ate pizza, chocolate, deep fried Chinese food, and more. I still read my Bible, ate my vegetables and still got my workout every day, but as you can imagine, I still gained weight. And then came the next blow. 
My mother's condition worsened and she became more and more frustrated, because she could not understand any of the things that were happening to her body. She had refused most things that would have helped her because she just couldn't comprehend why she needed them or force her self to do things she did not like as she would have done if she was of sound mind. Her disease took away her ability to swallow, and because she never wanted to live with a feeding tube. she rapidly lost weight. On a Friday in late October I knew that she was not going to have many days left, and then, upon witnessing her terrible misery and anguish, I prayed that she wouldn't and asked everyone else to pray the same with me. I didn't want to be without my mom, but I didn't want her to have to live the way she was. Nobody can imagine what it felt like, but by the way it looked, it was dreadfully painful. I helped my dad get her into bed on Saturday night and prayed she wouldn't even have to wake up. But I am glad that she did wake up that day. Although initially she was distressed, there came a more calm state over her. I stayed with my parents most of Sunday morning and called their church for her to go on their prayer chain, then I left for our church to request prayers for her there too. I left right after worship, rather than stay for the whole service, because I sensed my mom might not make it through the day. I stopped at the grocery store to by my family dinner and to grab some flowers for my mom in her favorite color, purple. I returned home to the sound of singing coming from my mom's bedroom, and discovered two of her friends from church were there, singing some of her most beloved songs. Then my brother and his wife arrived, and although mom had been sleeping, and not very responsive to anything, she woke up while they were there. My son Lucas came in to the room and climbed up on the bed too, and she reached out to him, and he high fived her and and he smiled at her. My mom was awake while her whole family was there and seemed not to be in any pain during those moments and for that, I am going to be forever thankful to God. Late in the afternoon, she seemed to go into a comatose state of being, and we thought she would pass in the night into her Heavenly home. But she woke up about 10 PM, very agitated, struggling for breath, and I helped my dad get her medicine to her that would help her feel less anxious. I asked if she knew that it was perfectly OK for her to go and be with Jesus and she slightly nodded her head to me. I read to her from her bedside Bible and played her some music, all the songs I could think of about Heaven, so that she would feel it was safe for her to go and not worry about leaving us behind. She lived through the night,but she was never awake again. Throughout the day, her breathing became more and more shallow, until it finally stopped. It was unreal to see her the way she was in the end, and to be one of the people trying to determine if my mother was actually dead. Even though we rejoiced that God heard our prayers and took her into His eternal safety and joy, we cried for her. We cried for a life that had ended and for the mom, wife, and grandmother we were all going to miss from now on, even though she had not been the same person for the last several months. 
With God always at my side, determined to be the voice in my mind that always overpowers the others, I have decided something. I will not let my past losses or my current sadness control my future. The best way to honor my mom is to live like she did before the diseases took away her normal. She gave of herself freely and enjoyed the simple things in life. Although it has only been about a month, I talked to my doctor today about stepping down from my prescription. I serve an all powerful God who has the ability to change my mindset without the help of pills. As I have said before, I fully support anyone who NEEDS to stay on prescriptions and there is absolutely no shame in it. Dealing with depression is going to be different for everyone. There may be other times in my life when I feel the need for medical help again too. But my personal choice is to treat everything as naturally as possible. 

You know what else helps depression? What is proven to help people feel better? Exercise and a healthy diet. Food does matter to all parts of the body, including the brain and the hormones which directly effect how good a person feels. Check out these images to understand why I feel like I can beat this condition with my food and I think others can too. 

As you probably guessed, many people, myself included, want to go for the not-so-healthy foods in times of sadness. We want instant gratification and comfort. But as you can see here, certain foods have positive and negative impacts on the brain and body, Another thing I wish to do in memory of my dear mom is to educate people about this as much as possible. I believe 100 percent that some of the foods she enjoyed a bit too much of later in life affected her brain function, and made her illness harder for her. Instead of being frozen by my sadness or fear of what might happen next, I am going to honor my mom's life by trusting God, giving my best to Him, and being proactive. I will not continue to wallow or rely on anything besides God and the ability He gave me to choose wisely in order to improve my life. I know His plans are good plans. I don't know why we have to wait to see His promises come to pass at times, and I don't know why this one about our family could not come to pass in time for my mom to see it. But I take comfort in the thought of her being with my two angel babies in Heaven. She got to meet the grandchildren that none of us have had the joy of seeing yet, and she got to do that in her complete state of glory in the presence of God. My joy is greater than my sorrow. 
Will you consider joining me for my next "Happy, Healthy Habits" group on Monday? Its a simple 5 day challenge group that takes place on Facebook, and it is completely free of charge. It's something I do to help others, while keeping myself accountable to the friends who join me too. I want to prove it to you AND myself that we can live happier because of what we eat, what we drink, and what we think. Let's try together. 


  1. Jenn, you are an amazing lady & true inspiration!

  2. Aww Thank you so much Robyn. I feel the same about you. You have handled troubles and heart break with strong faith.