Category Archives: Faith Vs. Fear

Judgment

 

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According to the dictionary, to judge is “to form an opinion or conclusion about something or someone.” The reality is judgments, good and bad, are thrown at us every day whether we see, know or admit it. And that’s not going to change, although I’d like to think that most people in this world are really good. Judging is part of human nature. However, it does not need to affect us in a negative manner.

But that’s the tricky part: it’s a two-step equation that starts within.

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Equation:

Rewire + Deflect = PEACE

Rewire your own judgments  + Deflect others at you = PEACE

Peace also includes learning to not compare yourself to others and not taking things to heart which is definitely an area I struggled with for a long time…

Okay, once again, I can’t lie. I’ve always been the hyper-sensitive girl who cried at movies, many songs, at criticism, and even if I got in trouble… (which was rare.) Take for instance that day in Mrs. Fritzinger’s fourth grade science class after I let Anne copy my answers in the bathroom before class and got caught, the tears overflowed like a flood.

Sensitivity plus the fact that I was hyper-aware of those around me and their feelings, created quite a time bomb waiting to explode for years. I can taste the saltiness of those thousands of times when I tried so hard to swallow away the tears, instead of giving in to their currents.

Still, I was always sensitive and I have always wore my heart on my sleeve. The only difference now was I embrace it and use it as my strength. Empathy was a quality I was blessed with and when I could not control it, cursed with. I’d like to think now though after some insights, it’s mostly a blessing…

It is ALL about perspective.

So let’s jump ahead to motherhood…or rather parenthood. Judgments are everywhere! I’ve been guilty of being sleep deprived, overwhelmed and unprepared. Oh  and sometimes, or most times, my kids’ jackets are not zippered as we run into daycare. I see the watching eyes.

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Around when Madison was six months old, I was really at some of my lowest times emotionally. However, my children brought me joy except those days that turned into screaming match after screaming match.

And it had been one of those days, but I needed to hit up the store and get out of the house despite the chaos. In preparation for a party, I was missing one ingredient so I packed up the kids into the car and went for a “quick trip” to Shoprite. Quick was where I was wrong.

As I pulled up, I heard an explosion in the backseat so I set up a changing station in the trunk as my son stood next to me in the parking lot. (It never fails! Why does Mother Nature always call my kids at the store?)  To add to the moment, TJ had been screaming about forgetting his buddies aka army of stuffed animals at home. Bad mama! So lots of yelling and crying commotion as I took Madison out of the car to find out my next “surprise.”

Let’s just say the diaper had not worked.

It. Was. Everywhere.

I striped her of everything. She was naked except from her new diaper. There was a mess everywhere. It was then that I realized I had forgotten a change of clothes aaaaaand had no bags to put everything in.

Bad mom again!

I searched around. Dozens of people walked by me. I would say, “Excuse me.” All I wanted was a bag from someone’s double bagged groceries.

No one stopped.

No one looked.

And I’m pretty sure even though I’d hate to judge …

everyone heard.

On the verge of tears, I remembered that I had a blanket in the back seat and decided it was warm enough to use the blanket and diaper to wrap up my daughter and go into the store. My son was hysterically laughing now, talking about how his sister was naked under the blanket at the store. I wanted to laugh too but my anxiety was sky high.

To say the least, I got a lot of looks.   Right as we were going to the self check-out line, one person commented on how adorable they both were.  Instead of thanking her,  I quickly jumped to defend myself...

…from what?

“Adorable and naked. We had an accident in the car and I had to run in for one item. Mother of the year over here.” I made a joke about it which she laughed at as she walked away smiling.

(TMI on my part but I feel like parenthood unleashes a lack of filter or at least, it did with me.)

Had she even been judging? Had anyone been throwing negative stares? Or was it my own perception? Did it even matter?

Then, let’s flashback into time when TJ was 7.5 months old and diagnosed with 21 possible allergies. Due to his severe anaphylactic reaction to yogurt, he was required to eliminate all of them. I had been a new mom and strongly committed to breastfeeding him for many reasons. So I quickly decided that I would give up those foods too so that I could continue nursing him. It was what I knew in my heart was best for him. I wanted to at least try out the diet to see if it would work. I have never been one to dismiss something before I tried it. While the diet free of gluten, oats, tomatoes, nuts, peanuts, eggs, sesame, and dairy was difficult enough, the hardest part of it all were the judgments and isolation that came with it for those six months.

During those months, TJ was always sick so we cancelled on a lot of plans.  And when he wasn’t ill, I didn’t want to go to weddings or parties anyways. It was too hard to try to defend why I was doing what I was doing.

At that time, I had it all wrong though.

I had no one to defend myself to.

No one to answer to.

I knew that it was the right thing for TJ and knew it would benefit him in the long run. So why did I find it so hard to let go of what others thought and just live in the moment…

happily…

You would think most people would have been supportive.  Yet, do you know how many people would come to me and make comments about it like …

– I would never do that…

– I must be selfish because I would it consider it…

– Why are you doing this to yourself?…

The questions and comments came from so many people. And those were the ones, I actually heard. The Lord only knows the ones that were said behind my back.  It was such a sensitive time for me and I had the totally wrong perspective.

Looking back, I think many of these people were trying to be supportive but it was not the type of encouragement that I needed…

Not judging or at least I’d like to think so…

One person who always supported me was my husband. He knew my heart but he also always reminded me that it was always going to be my choice when I wanted to stop nursing and the diet. Yet, I still felt isolated at any social events I attended as I felt that people were judging what I was eating and what I was not eating, saying why they would never do what I was doing. It was an isolating cycle that I just kept running into. It was easier to isolate myself than face people’s opinions…

until I realized …

none of those judgments matter …

None! …

only God’s …

Food is everywhere! Socially, it is such a huge part of our culture. Through the elimination diet, I learned a feeling, an emptiness that no one deserves to feel because I allowed it to become like that. I learned what I never wanted my son to feel regardless of 50 allergies, 3 or none. It made me learn and devise strategies, recipes, and a lifestyle that would foster the complete opposite for son, future daughter, students, etc. It made me embrace inclusion, acceptance and advocacy in a way that protected every individual.

They say don’t judge a book by its cover but the reality is … they are… so accept it (deflect it) … but remember YOU write(rewire/renew) the story within… so make it good!

The best part is … no one judgment matters other than God’s, so embrace the stares as compliments, the questions as encouragement ….and smile back, letting your Mama/Dada strength shine through. I promise it will change you forever…

 

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EpiPens in Maine

Lawmakers in Maine are considering a bill all states should pass: “to allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense EpiPens at no cost to the patient.”

See the article here:

MAINE LAWMAKER’S PROPOSAL TO MAKE EPIPEN MORE ACCESSIBLE

Every six months we have to shell out sooooo much money to purchase two sets of the generic version. (4 sets total: 2 for each child – one for school and one for home) While we feel thankful to be reimbursed for more than 3/4th of each set, that’s still a ridiculous amount of money!

Whenever I pick them up at the pharmacy, I always think about how many people… kids… babies don’t have the necessary protection that these devices bring because of the insanely high, immoral cost!

But like always, we must reflect on how blessed we are…

on how much TJ has improved since his first anaphylactic reaction …

and how we truly believe his body as well as Madi’s will be restored from all of these allergies.

But in the meantime, we stay prepared, always with two sets on hand.

Go Maine, let’s get more states on board!

Sunday Motivation

Coffee is Not My Best Friend

I don’t drink coffee.  untitled design (42)

I used to. I used to love it. I use to crave it! But over the years, I learned caffeine and I don’t mix so that bittersweet friendship needed to go…

In middle school, I was tall. In fact, I was almost my exact height now. Five feet six inches at the age of twelve, I was as tall as a few of the boys and towered over most of the other ones including my brother just a year younger than me.

The problem to my “middle school” Jen was that I liked the short boys, but was way too insecure with myself to see that…that was totally okay.. that my height was part of what made me beautiful. I just wasn’t ready to stand tall around anyone…So of course the next best solution at that age was…

“to stunt my growth” so I turned to coffee or so I thought… Untitled design (43).png

(I obviously do not encourage this behavior at all, but can’t help to laugh at myself looking back now. I also wanted bigger breasts and tried some outlandish theories for that too like eating while hanging off my bed ….

I was… untitled design (44)

am upside-down, hot mess and lucky I never choked on anything… but I digress…)

This was where my love of ice coffee and Coffee Coolattas started. I drank them every day throughout high school and college. Then, I shifted to black coffee in my 20s until I discovered a non-fat creamer that I indulged in for way too long. When first pregnant with my son, I tried to give it up but the afternoon migraines were too intense so I would save my cup of Joe for after lunch.

Because of the breastfeeding elimination diet I did for TJ due to his allergies, I could not use my “fat-dairy’ creamer. (apparently no matter how artificial it was, it still contained dairy). 

Then, came my miscarriage a year later which led me to do a three day whole food cleanse where coffee was not allowed…

It was then that I just stopped for what I thought would be a week or two. Soon though, I found myself pregnant with Madison and felt more comfortable sticking to being coffee-free.

Nine months later right on my due date (I have very punctual kids…can’t say that about myself these days… but I digress again ), my daughter arrived. 

During those first hours following her birth, a migraine started and the nurse and doctor both recommended that I drink coffee.   So, I did and sure enough the headache went away but what I didn’t know yet… I was already hooked again.

During those first two months, I found myself waiting for that one cup of coffee as if my day and life depended on it. When I drank it, I could take on anything…. for that hour at least and then

crash!

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Literally, I would crash. It was such a drastic shift in mood and energy level that I decided to challenge myself.   Did I really need this coffee? 

I am always up for a challenge so I took it on. This led to a terrible week of night sweats, exhausted days, and irritability.   It was truly a detox from one cup of coffee…(okay more than 1.5 cups or 2 at this point since my mug kept growing in size. One cup is one cup no matter the size, right?)

Anyways, that is when I finally faced the facts:

If my body had to detox from something like that, it was not meant to be.   

Therefore, I have been coffee free for 2.5 years now and don’t miss it.  I do still love the smell of coffee brewing in the morning though and I still have not given up the wine …. not so sure I will… I mean it’s much more pleasant to embrace the Friday mess of this house…

without feeling the need to clean or do laundry as I sip on a glass of Shiraz…

But once again I digress.

Stay tuned: Read up on some other sources of energy we use coming SOON to a blog near you. 😁)

 

 

Perspective

All day. Every day. It’s all about perspective. I saw my life change in incredible ways when I shifted this exact thing: perspective.

Invite happiness in even though life is not perfect.

Accept that life will never be perfect.

See the world through a different lens.

We all have the ability to do this.

The mind needs to be retrained, retaught, renewed every day. Remind yourself to find the good and turn your focus away from the mess, and see the beauty. I promise it changes everything.

Besides, who doesn’t like a little mess here and there anyways?

Perspective

Hope in the Lord

strength will renew

like eagles soar on each wing

the run will not grow weary

the walk will not be faint

a perspective that frees

a love to sing.

Perspective is funny

as often as it fails

it is even more of a reason

why it must prevail

so grab hold to the truth

a quiet secure place

in such a noisy world

where God holds heads

and shoulders above

all that tries to pull us down

it’s all about perspective

it’s all about such a love.

A thousand may fall at your side

ten thousand at your right hand

but it will not come near you

that perspective you control

when in His love you stand.

Perspective is funny

as often as it fails

it is even more of a reason

why it must prevail

so grab hold to the truth

a quiet secure place

in such a noisy world

where God holds heads

and shoulders above

all that tries to pull us down

it’s all about perspective

it’s all about such a love.

Do not be afraid

for who is with us

is more than who is with them

so renew your mind

take hold of those thoughts

with eyes on God

truth and blessings collide

and true living, they finally find.

Perspective is funny

as often as it fails

it is even more of a reason

why it must prevail

so grab hold to the truth

a quiet secure place

in such a noisy world

where God holds heads

and shoulders above

all that tries to pull us down

it’s all about perspective

it’s all about such a love.

-JK

For more on this, check out:

Psalm 27:5–6

Isaiah 40:31

Psalm 91:7

2 Kings 6:16

Store Bought Favorites

Oh how busy life gets! There is always something to prep, cook or bake for, but not always the time to do so. Since TJ’s diagnosis, more and more great companies have been creating delicious treats... aka tasty time savers.

*Of course, always make sure to check ingredients and labels every time to ensure it is also safe for you and your family. Check labels with each purchase as companies do change the recipe here and there. Better safe than sorry … so cliche but true.*

Here are some of our favorite go-tos.

1) Mo’Pweeze Cupcakes: Mo/Pweeze Bakery

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2) Abe’s Crumb cake: https://www.abesmuffins.com/the-muffins

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3) Abe’s Muffins: https://www.abesmuffins.com/the-muffins

4) Azure’s Bagels: Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

 

While TJ’s teachers always have a box of Oreos as his special treat in case we don’t know about a party or event at school, we ask for a monthly schedule at the start of each month to try to prevent that.  Therefore, during the crazy weeks where dinner time is late and bedtime is even later, we are blessed to have found such amazing products and trustworthy businesses.

24/7 Christmas

I’ve been a bit stuck on Christmas and the attitude, and yes, I know I have the wrong season, holiday, month… the wrong everything! But, there is just something so different about people and life in December. There’s just something so different about my kids.  (Maybe all the Santa bribes..) There’s just something so different about me.
There’s nothing better than giving a gift to a loved one and seeing their face light up. My son for example will make you want to keep giving him gifts with his innocent and honest, “Wow! Take a picture! I just love all my gifts. They are all my favorite!”
“Son of a nutcracker!” – He could make me broke saying stuff like that.
every setback is a setup for a comeback! (3)
My daughter is a different story with gifts… let’s just say… we are working on it 😬
But Christmas is so much more than just gifts, it’s really about joy. The joy we can all have. All.Year.Round.
So what happens to it for the other eleven months? Is it just stored away in our attics, saved for an extra special December of tinsel and lights? Or is it… that the craziness of life finds a way to try to erase the miracle … the spirit of Christmas that can exist every day?
According to James 1:2-3 –“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”
And with that, Josh Baldwin went on to write …
“When darkness tries to roll over my bones
When sorrow tries to steal the joy I own
When brokenness and pain is all I know
I won’t be shaken, I won’t be shaken …” – Josh Baldwin’s “ Stand in Your Love”
So the truth is just that. It is stated clearly. We are meant to have joy all year round. Joy is meant to live in our hearts, not for just a season.
Why can’t we capture that December energy and spread it out throughout the year?
The question is not …. why can’t we… it is…
How Can We?
  1. Random thank you notes/letters– Who doesn’t like receiving a random kind card or even a letter? Last year, I tried to find a way to do that each month by picking people over my life that I was thankful for, that maybe helped me through a challenging time, inspired or inspires me, or even those who I wanted to apology to for a time I was not proud of. Each month, I picked one person to send a letter to. I admit; it did it for the first six months and then after not hearing back from two in a row, I let discouragement tell me I was too busy. But, I am trying again this year. Deep dig .. find the teachers, family members, friends, people you lost touch with .. remind them how much they impacted your life. Remind them how special they are.
  2. Donate – Whether it is within your church or just a family in need or a food bank, giving changes lives. Last year, when visiting a former neighbor she mentioned that they had just had a huge party with way too much food.  (Sounds familiar – I’ve been there many times and it does not help that we are not leftover people.) Instead, of being wasteful, like I’ve been way too many times, she reached out to a local food bank to find out what and if they could donate the leftovers. Sure enough, they gratefully accepted.
  3. Kind notes-  Similar to number 1, they can be monthly, weekly, biweekly, daily or in the moment. Last year, students at my school in the group Start with Hello wrote thank you notes to every staff member from crossing guards to lunch staff to teachers to administrators. While the letters were short, they were sweet and heart felt, and most importantly, they created many smiles that day. Even one smile goes a long way. What about random post it notes for a loved one or even a stranger? During a school assembly last year, the speaker spoke about how he likes to visit Barnes and Nobles and put random positive post its in random pages of books there so that when they were each bought and eventually read, they would have the opportunity to encourage someone… he would more than likely never know. How cool!
  4. Lead or participate in a fundraiser– No matter how much you raise, it matters.  It makes a difference. So jump in! Join a race or go wherever your heart brings you.
  5. Show up and surprise a friend in need or even call people more – In a world where most people are usually in a rush, being pulled in ten or twenty different directions, make time for relationships. They are what matter. Texting is texting. Visiting or even an old-school phone call goes a long way to let someone know you care. And leave a message if they don’t pick up, and don’t be insulted if they don’t call back. Time doesn’t drag its feet for us, so let’s not forget what and who matters. 
  6. Random acts of kindness – Hold the elevator, hold the door, help someone pick up their bag of papers that just fell all over the floor, etc. The opportunities are everywhere every day. Let’s teach our kids, students and younger generations to do this too.   I always have to remind myself that their eyes are always watching and learning.   Model what you want to see.
  7. Pay it forward – I love hearing stories of people paying it forward.  My in-laws, some of the most generous people I have ever met, had their dinner paid for in this way a few months back.  While I can say that I may not have a large amount of funds right now, imagine what giving away a dollar a day for one month could do.  I just read about how Jimmie Allen, one of my favorite artists, who had once been homeless, started to carry around two dollars a day that he used to pay forward. How awesome of an idea is that? Carry a dollar a day that you can’t use on yourself and you can’t come home with.  Or make it a goal to pay for someone else one time this year even if it’s for their coffee.  I don’t drink coffee but I may go through a Dunkin Donuts drive through this year, just to do that.  Whatever it may be, paying it forward is something I plan to do this year.
  8. Volunteer – Join a church or reach out to your own church about opportunities. Volunteering can be done on so many levels within schools, communities, nursing homes, etc. I plan to find more ways to do this year. I am guessing once TJ is in kindergarten (in a few months) there will be even more chances.
  9. Make connections and listen – Due to my anxiety, for years this was difficult. Sure, I had friends and I think I was a good friend. However, truthfully, my own worries and fears often blocked out time that I would and could spend asking others about their own lives. Once I was able to do this, it was a breath of fresh air to hear people, and to listen in a way that was genuine. I still catch myself just being “routine” with my hellos and how are yous. Mainly because I am usually rushing around and not always as on time for things as I used to be. Always trying to fit everything in … Sigh! However, it is my goal to continue to be an open ear this year, and an open heart.
  10. A compliment a day keeps the negativity away– Give a compliment a day ! I love this one and started it back in January. My hope is to continue throughout the year. It’s free, easy, honest, and uplifting wrapped up in a simple sentence or word.
  11. Be kind to yourself – Self compassion, what is that anymore? It’s crazy how much we lose our old selves after kids or even without kids, throughout life.   That is… if we let that happen.   Everyone deserves happiness though and it starts within. Be kind to yourself. Do something for your own well being. Get your nails done, hair done, read a good book, go for a run, join a dance class, take an epsom salt bath with essential oils (One of my favorite calming activities before bed – I call them detox baths because they detox my body and mind!)Whatever it is…learn to love yourself!
I plan to work on several of these areas and ideas so that they become second nature to me. So while the Christmas tree has been in the attic for almost two months now, you can still find a wise man or donkey from the nativity set laying around somewhere because of the kids … and you’ll still find this picture on my phone … it’s one of my favorites…
It reminds me joy isn’t meant to be saved for one season.
It reminds me joy is all year round. 
It reminds me of my joy. 
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“I just like to smile; smiling’s my favorite.” – Buddy the Elf