Tag Archives: Defeat Ignorance

What We See

What do you see?

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Does it often seem like despite your efforts to do good, that the things you fail in…the one thing you forgot to do or just didn’t have enough time to do …is the one and only thing people notice. That your failure is the one and only thing people see.

I have felt this often throughout most of my life. The one time I forget to check to see if all twenty of Madison’s hair ties are in her backpack when I pick her up is the day her teachers also forgot to pack them… (She has an obsession with her bracelets aka hair ties). Or the one time I give the wrong show and tell, I’m reminded of where the weekly theme is posted.. Or even the one day our of the month I decide not to do laundry, everyone is asking for something from it.

It can seem as though no one sees or appreciates how I have made random stops at the store during a crazy day to buy more backup hair ties…Or usually have show and tells packed up and ready to go days in advance…Or how I have been doing laundry every day for years. And the reality is, we do so much each day that no one does see… that does go unnoticed.

For years, I found myself getting upset from these reactions of others, from what people saw or what failed to see. That was until I reflected on what I myself was focused on. What I was seeing and that was also when I learned to laugh… often at myself and “the irony” of life.

As a society, what are we focused on? It’s so easy to give into the negativity around us. It is everywhere!

The tantruming child…

the grumpy cashier …

the car honking obnoxiously to get out of their way …

the rude coworker who doesn’t say hi back or even acknowledge you in the hallway…

or even the deceitful family member who knows how to push your buttons…

That’s what I was seeing too. All the displeasing things that were happening around me… and everything that was not happening. How the garbage cans in the kitchen were overflowing again or how the empty paper towels liked to wait for me to replace them. However, in focusing on these parts of the day, I was blinding myself to what was being done.

All the times that the garbage was taken out …

the fact that I rarely brought those garbage cans to the curb…

all the times that the paper towels were put away for me when unpacking from the supermarket…

all the people who were saying good morning or smiling back…

the shoes in which those family members walk and why they hurt so badly…

the chaos most of us walk through each day that tends to zone in on the negativity thrown at us…

instead of the good.

Who has time for the positivity anyways?

There really is a lot of good all around us. But we must make the time to see it. It is our job to consciously choose what to focus on. It is our decision. No one can hold that power over us.

Sooo…

Let’s be conscious on seeing the good. Let’s ask that grumpy cashier how their day is or better yet give a compliment.

Let’s say hello first to everyone who walks by us in the hallway at work and don’t worry if they don’t say hi back. Learn to let it go!

Let’s call up that angry family member randomly just to say hi.

Let’s pray for peace for that road raging person in the car next to us when they flash us their “friendly finger.”

Let’s thank our spouse for something that always do.

Let’s see the good…and if we can’t see it, create it!

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We need to carefully decide what we zoom in on. There are a lot of perspectives to see from. It is not our job to transform the grumpy coworker or angrily shout back at the road raged driver. Instead, it is our job to stop the cycles around us and zoom in on the good.

See beneath the surface.

Pray for softened hearts.

Pray for communication barriers to be lifted and removed.

Pray to see the good in everyone.

We all have battles we are fighting all the time.

While we may not have been there exactly, we have all been somewhere similar struggling to stay afloat…

struggling to believe…

struggling to live.

Learning to keep your eyes open to those around you instead of closing them out, is how we truly begin to see each other and lift each other up. It’s how people start to see you too. Be the change you want to see. Let’s use eyes to support not to judge. Imagine what is possible if and when we work together and support one another. The possibilities are endless!

Soo yes, I promise I will try to see you past the layers of each chaotic day …

but right now behind this tower of laundry…

you may not see me.

 

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Who’s Watching

Eyes aboard all around
the shipwreck’s gossip
washes over the town
who nurses with breast
who goes straight to bottle
yet the tides all bring
currents that steal sleep
some train and others coddle
and still they all ask the question,
Who’s watching?

Minds coast to speed
the wreckage drama
blankets with greed
who pays more
who files away into the depth
of the sand’s debt that burns
fires upon their feet
some nap and others explore free
and still they all ask,
Who’s watching?

Charade of lies
sea marks it all lost
images gloss over cries
who labels it a spiritual hand
who coins it as religion
the island is huge
there is room for all to live
yet most find fault
in their way to stand
upon a deck
Where they still ask,
Who’s watching?

Ship ashore, crashes upon its shouts
the baby falls captive
to the deception of the sea
as her wounds are deeper
than the fear of falling
it washes upon that same beach
the chaos of waves causes tidal doubt
overwhelm her belief
that she is just that
more than enough
and who still stands by
their fingers all pointed out
who fails to watch now, who misses the boat –
when all she needs
is a smile to swim upon her sinking oar
“Good job Mama,”
as she asks them back –
Who’s still watching?

For what were you really looking for?


© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


A Friday Rise

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

We all fall down sometimes. Unfortunately, when we have kids, they can witness these very falls. Their inquisitive eyes are always watching and learning …

However, we can rest easy knowing that it is not the fall that defines us …

Instead, it is how we rise and get up that matters.

And the best part is that our little loves watch that too.

They watch us become relentlessly stronger and more courageous. They watch beauty come from pain. They watch the greatest healings come from the largest scars. They watch us become warriors. They watch the peace that can come at any part… in, through and after the storm. They watch us trade in our umbrellas and join us in learning to dance in the rain.

We all have our own unique story.

It is the most powerful testimony we each have to share.

So when you fall, remember how strong you are and how much stronger you will become from it. Remember your story and how far you have come. Thank God for that and praise Him for where He is bringing you.

Remember that while these little eyes are watching, they too will learn your strength and bravery. They too will learn to rise just like you.

 

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So be easy on yourself and learn self care and self love. Be kind to yourself. But most importantly, forgive yourself. For trials and brokenness are all over, yet what matters most is what you do with that hurt.

For you will be remembered for your rise above the rest… above the mess. And that is something to be proud of!

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

Watch it Spin

Could even our biggest challenges like food allergies and anxiety spin into something positive? Could our greatest hurdles turn into the type of strength and perseverance that can be used for future races, experience and life?

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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Like Colossians 3:2 states, perspective is a major key to one’s happiness. Life was never promised to be easy, but also can see in scripture the promise of “beauty for ashes.” This was the promise for God’s people to be delivered from their plight. Though it was promised way back when, it can still give us hope and encouragement during the most difficult times and situations we experience now. Therefore, we must remember to embrace and accept the challenge as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to change, to be ultimately blessed for the troubles and pains. Like John Wooden’s quote, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out,” take the bad and find the good. We must teach ourselves to find the positive spin.

Since May is food allergy awareness month, let’s use our experience with food allergies as an example. So, let’s go back to that first reaction, an experience no one should have to experience

Saturday, December 13 was a typical snowy evening.   As I was setting up my son’s dinner, I was excited because it would be his first taste of yogurt. After two small spoonfuls, the verdict was in: he seemed to love it!

However, within a minute it all changed.

He started to fuss and rub at his face. Turning red, his lips and mouth swelled up as huge blotches formed all over his face, neck and chest. Although just an infant, fear was written all across his face.  After calling 911, an ambulance arrived after what felt like a lifetime.  In the ambulance, his state continued to get worse. I held an oxygen mask over his now slightly-blue lips.   As he started to zone out, I prayed that he did not lose his breath. Every time he cried, I felt a second of relief for he was breathing.

Asking the EMT repeatedly about his state, I now know that she too was worried.  Her silence spoke louder than any words could have. They did not have an EpiPen with them in the ambulance and called to meet up with another team on the way to the hospital. However, due to the snow, that did not happen. As the doors to the ambulance opened, they sprinted in holding my son as I ran behind them, helpless.

The hospital staff administered epinephrine, Benadryl, and a steroid then reassured me that everything would be okay.   It was 40 minutes after ingesting that tiny amount of yogurt and I now know that we were beyond lucky.  Not everyone gets those 40 minutes.

A moment of relief soon turned into the reality of what had happened. It mixed with guilt, throwing me into the most difficult place I had seen. That night, I slept on the floor next to his crib waking up every hour to check for breathing.  Yet, even in his sleep, TJ smiled on…

We soon learned that TJ was allergic to and needed to avoid milk, eggs, wheat, oats, barley, rye, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, sesame, soy, peas, and tomatoes. At first, I spent those early months trying to defend myself to others as a good person who did not eat too many or too little peanuts or eggs during my pregnancy.  Or, explaining why I chose to continue breastfeeding despite these allergies.   I was explaining myself to everyone to try to prove that I did not cause this and I was not an awful mom.  However, I had no one to prove myself to. It was not my fault. I did not need to sit with the guilt either. It was unhealthy and I needed to shift my focus to best help myself so that I could best help TJ.

What I did not know at the time was that I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder afterwards as well. It was a time of great fear and challenges. Not only did he have these food allergies, he had also developed viral-induced asthma and seemed to be sick all the time, needing breathing treatments daily. Events with family and friends became difficult for so many reasons so I just avoided them. It appeared to be one hurdle after another during that time. Then, mix in a miscarriage, the loss of my close friend’s baby, postpartum anxiety and some medical issues plus a lifetime of anxiety… those mountains seemed way too high to climb.

That’s where the spin comes in… I seemed to be spinning out of control but that did not mean I could not learn to spin it the other way. My perspective had to change before my situation did.

Therefore against the intense anxiety, guilt, exhaustion and pain, I turned to reading scripture, praying and writing. I had always been good at seeing the good in other people but it was a challenge to do this for myself, my own experiences, my own life. I had to teach myself to find the positive or else I would never break the cycle… I had to reverse the spin.

Despite the fact that food allergies, anxiety and health issues are all incredible challenges, there is also a lot of good all around, waiting to be discovered or even seen through these rocky journeys.

Spinning forward and ahead…

1) Allergies have taught us to eat much healthier. It has opened our eyes and thus our mouths to a much more nutritious, organic and wholesome cuisine. It shined light on many misconceptions regarding health, food sources and fat, by allowing us to find great resources like Robin O’Brien. I still remember how I was pumping breast milk during my break at work when I got the message from an amazing nurse Kathy who sent me a video on her. I have not stopped following her since. Through the years, we have also found many companies and brands to trust. We have learned a lot.

2) Companies aren’t the only sources of great information. We have also met and/or spoken to so many other allergy families. We have shared ideas, joys and challenges. A support system is key and food allergies have allowed for that. They are all around. Sign up, join or boldly start your own.

3) We have been given a platform to teach to the ignorance and shine empathy on so many. In being able to educate others even our own family members and friends, relationships have taken on a whole new perspective and level.

4) Thinking outside the box – Having food allergies has really allowed us to get creative and go beyond the typical to ensure TJ, Madison and all of those with allergies are included. Why cry over the spilled milk and sheet cakes you can’t buy for birthday parties, when you have so many great alternative milks out there to purchase and so many cakes and recipes to experiment with and love! As we continue to add to our allergy-safe cookbook, we have fun with it.

5) It continues to teach us to appreciate the little things in life a bit more. We celebrate and praise God at the alter every time another food item is added back into our diets. Heck, we have even celebrated peas … shhh don’t tell my kids I’m not really a fan. Still, we are grateful for each blessing.

6) It develops self advocacy in children at a young age. A few weeks ago at a church class, teachers were switched without us knowing and the message about TJ’s allergies was not relayed. However, TJ spoke up for himself when they tried to give him goldfish which have dairy. Strong advocates with brave hearts will continue to make a difference in this world. I know I want to raise that type of child.

7) And the greatest blessing of all is the testimonies we have of God’s work. We were told TJ would have asthma until at least eight if not his whole life. – TJ no longer has asthma. He stopped daily treatments before he was 2.5. He hasn’t needed a breathing treatment since before he was 4. At 5 now, he is allergic to only dairy, eggs, and peanuts. Three allergies is a huge improvement from 21! While he used to be sick a lot, he has barely been sick this entire year and doesn’t even need an asthma care plan for kindergarten. We have a lot to be thankful for.

And when you ask TJ who took away the stomach bug he had in December, the breathing treatments, the other 18 allergies… His testimony is simply perfect. God!

Since beginning this journey, I have already learned to smile differently because:

1)      Special kinds of people wear these shoes.  Wear the label often thrown at you with pride. For you are special.

2)      Make the most of it, don’t let challenges like food allergies define you. Only YOU can define yourself.

3)      Ignorance is not bliss and needs to be educated. Let’s help share awareness with an open mind and heart.

4)      Let your faith be bigger than your fear.  Two thoughts cannot exist at the same time. A fearful one cannot remain when a faith-filled one butts in and takes charge. Trust your instinct but always be prepared and hopeful.

5)      Educating means advocating. Never apologize for it. Your child’s life, your life never requires an apology.

Last, but definitely not least, people with food allergies, old and young, continue to inspire us each and every day. They radiate so much strength, courage, and goodness. Don’t get me wrong, food allergies stink. However, we must keep focusing on the blessings while we keep safe, praying and believing God is continuing to use all of this as a testimony of his amazing love and healing power.

 

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So if it means having a house that’s a little messier and some challenges we know we will rise above, we’ll take it. We’ll use it all to continue to do our part to teach the merry-go-round of life to see the good all around and learn to spin the other way.

Food Allergy Awareness Week- May 12-18, 2019

This week is food allergy awareness week. It is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about food allergies and anaphylaxis, and help remove the isolation that can be associated with having an allergy.

Food allergies like many diagnosis in life have the ability to isolate, ONLY if we let it…

The first step in eliminating ignorance is to EDUCATE! So here it goes…

  • 1 in every 13 children in America has a food allergy. That is two in every classroom!
  • Food allergies can be life threatening and need to be taken seriously.
  • Strict avoidance of the allergen is the ONLY way to prevent a reaction.
  • 35% of children with allergies have been bullied due to their allergy. That. Is. Not. Okay. Bullying is NEVER okay!
  • People can be allergic to ANYTHING! However, 90% of children are allergic to the top 8 allergens:
  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Peanuts
  4. Tree nuts (all nuts other than peanuts)
  5. Fish
  6. Shellfish
  7. Wheat
  8. Soybeans
  9. Sesame (which still does not yet have to be labels on food packaging)
  • The top 8 allergens must be labeled on packaging.
  • However, more than 170 foods have been reported to cause allergic reactions.

The symptoms can range from mild to moderate ones like hives and stomach pain to severe ones like anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction). Reactions are NOT all the same. Symptoms can change from reaction to reaction. Just because someone didn’t have an anaphylactic reaction the first time, doesn’t mean they can’t the next. Also, just because you were not born with an allergy, does not mean you can not develop one.

* These facts are not to provoke fear, but instead to spark awareness and instill understanding. Once we have the facts, we combat the fear that tries to associate itself with it all … with faith.

“But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

https://www.bible.com/111/isa.43.1.niv


What is important for us all to know?

  • Reactions DO NOT just happen when someone ingests the allergen itself.

    • They can happen due to cross contact (the presence of unintended allergens), inhaling it, and from saliva (sharing utensils, instruments, chapstick, drinks, kissing).

    • My son’s last reaction at the age of 2.5 was this type of reaction. He had tried a new oat milk and while the company did not have the container labeled for it, the production lines were not thoroughly cleaned from his other allergens. Thus, it caused a reaction that was less severe and very different from his initial one, but still needed epinephrine and a trip to the ER.

    • Cross contact issues and food allergies in general take diligence. Just because the product dues not have the cross contact information labeled doesn’t mean we don’t need to call the companies or do more researching and double checking on line. Also, even products that we have used for years, we still must double check their labels as companies sometimes change the makeup and ingredients in their products. It is not a burden; it is a way of life that ensures safety.

  • Many of these people must carry EpiPens (Epinephrine) with them everywhere they go. It’s beneficial for everyone to know how to use an EpiPen. So reach out to someone who is trained in it and ask to learn. It does not take long to learn, but it also does not take long to react and need assistance. So spend the time now. It is greatly appreciated.

What can we all do? – nationwide initiatives to get involved with

Join the Teal Pumpkin Project

  • Halloween can be a difficult time for those with allergies.
  • This project promotes safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies.

How can you participate?

  • Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters (see FARE website for suggestions)
  • Place a teal pumpkin (the color of food allergy awareness) in front of your home to indicate you have non-food treats available
  • Spread the word! Tell your families, friends and neighbors about this initiative.

Snack Safely

  1. Check out the Snack Safely website.
  2. This is a site that has safe snacks and foods for those with allergies.  
  3. Schools use this. We all should use this. 
  4. When you are planning an event or party, check it out to ensure everyone is safe and included. It’s not always easy or convenient to “think outside of the box.” But, that’s often where the difference is made. What may seem small to one person is huge to another.  “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”Aesop

Turn It Teal

  • Teal is the color that represents food allergy awareness.
  • This initiative started in 2014 and now their mission has expanded into going throughout the country, lighting up buildings, bridges, and attractions in teal everywhere.
  • You don’t need to light up a building to spread awareness. You can do this at your school, work or church, by setting a day in May to “turn it teal” and encourage everyone to wear teal! We are doing this at my work this Friday!
  • For more information: Turn it Teal

What can we do? – ways to help everyday

Be Mindful

  1. Wash your hands after eating.
  2. Wipe down surfaces after eating an allergen.
  3. Don’t share food or utensils.

Empathy/Ask

  1. Get the specifics. Find out which foods your friends, family members, classmates, co workers, church members, etc. are allergic to and what the symptoms of a reaction are.
  2. Simply be aware and have an open mind to it. Empathy goes a long way.
  3. If hosting an event, ask what products and foods are safe.
  4. Take it seriously. It is not a joking matter.

Like with anything in life, listening wholeheartedly and empathetically goes a long way. So while our messy counter top may not have everything others have on it, we all deserve to feel included, safe and loved.

For more information, visit: FARE website

 

 


“Peace requires everyone to be in the circle – wholeness, inclusion.” – Isabel Allende

 “When everyone is included, everyone wins.” – Jesse Jackson

 “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

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What are You Powered By?

In a life that tries to drive at 100 miles per hour, energy-wise it is often difficult to keep up. In fact, with balancing kids, work, and everything else, I am often asked, how do you find enough energy?

Honestly, there was a time when I was burnt out, and just going through the motions.   (A life of anxiety will do that to you.) I was emotionally and physically exhausted. However, once I broke free from the anxiety, it was more than a breath of fresh air, it was a new life. 

Now, there some days that I do feel exhausted but it is easy now to differentiate between physical exhaustion and just needing to slow down a bit.   It is all about slowing down these days…  in fact, it’s more about balancing my energy and learning how to best disperse it.

Since I don’t drink coffee, I cannot use it as a power source.  Instead, I have learned a few wonderful ways to maintain a healthy level of energy. No more highs and definitely no more crashing…. it’s all about balance.

Here are my sources of energy:

  1. Prayer: It will always my number one.  When I started to stress, I try to catch myself and pray.   I start each morning with prayer, reading the Bible, and writing.   All of these empower me to face the day positively and courageously.   A lot of my energy comes from this.   “Surely, God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” – Psalm 54:4
  2. Wolfberry: One of my favorite products by Young Living is Ningxia Red.   This supplement supports whole body wellness and sustains energy naturally. Even my husband enjoys an ounce or two of this drink.
  3. Kombucha: It has been noted that the gut is considered to be the “second brain.”  In fact, a lot of your immune system is located in your gut. Therefore, taking care of it is very important.   Kombucha has many benefits aside from immune health including being a source of energy.  My favorite is ginger; however, more and more options continue to emerge. Once again, my husband has become a fan of this source as well.
  4. A morning run, jog, walk, workout session:  This is such a huge source of energy for me.  Pairing this exercise with the right foods helps to ensure that the balance will be maintained throughout the day.
  5. A green morning shake up: Get that blender out (Vitamix in our case) and mix those fruits, seeds, nuts, and veggies up into an energizing morning shake. Here is my favorite recipe.)
  6. Lemon/celery juice: Drinking warm lemon water every morning was something that I started doing over four years ago after my miscarriage and “mysterious” medical issues.  I warm up about 16-20 ounces of warm and then add freshly squeezed organic lemon juice to it and sip before I eat anything.   however, after reading some of Anthony William’s books and resources like Celery Juice I also added in celery juice to my morning routine. 16 ounces of organic celery juice I blend and drink on the empty stomach then wait 15-30 minutes to eat.  I have been doing this:
    1. lemon water – Wait 30 minutes
    1. Celery juice – Wait 30 minutes then eat breakfast (However, I just recently switched this up and start with the celery juice instead.)
  7. Diffusing: No matter the mood or day, I can find the perfect oil to diffuse from joy to valor to even EN-R-GEE itself, they all life my spirits.
  8. Relationships: Who are we kidding? Relationships are exhausting or at least they can be… however, they can also be empowering.   That is why it is important to make sure to invest enough time and more importantly, love into our valued  relationships because they really do give us strength, energy, and life.
  9. Fresh air:  A friend and I made it our goal to go outside and walk during our Friday lunches.   While life got too crazy and this stopped for awhile, we are bringing it back. Get outside even on those frigid days.   Just breath in the freshness of pure air, God’s goodness at work.  It is one of the best sources of energy.
  10. Sleep: Get to sleep early and wake up early.   It truly makes a difference!

There was a time in my early 20s that I would travel around with a frozen bag of peas to help reduce the bags under my eyes (no joke…a little overboard … but then again that was me during my early 20s)  However, even as I near 40, frozen peas are long gone as they are not needed… even on my makeup free face.  Finally, my coffee mug may still remain empty; but I have a few other sources of energy up my sleeve… 

 

Where do you get your energy from? What are your main power sources?

‭‭Above the Noise
Proverbs‬ ‭3:1-8‬ ‭

When night falls
darkness tries to steal
do not forget His teachings,
but keep His commands in my heart,
for they will prolong
my life many years
and bring me peace and prosperity
for they make stand strong.

In a crazy world
it gives me pure and utter joy
to know that I come
from something so complete
from a truth above all else
where His voice I hear clearly
where His plan I trust
above the noise
it is where peace
is what I meet.

Let love and faithfulness never leave me;
bind them around my neck,
write them on the tablet of my heart.
Then I will win favor
and a good name in the sight
of God and man.
Hearing His voice over the others
and following it
walking though what I do not yet understand.

In a crazy world
it gives me pure and utter joy
to know that I come
from something so complete
from a truth above all else
where His voice I hear clearly
where His plan I trust
above the noise
it is where peace
is what I meet.

Trust in the Lord with all my heart
and lean not on my own understanding;
in all my ways submit to Him
and he will make these paths straight.
Do not be wise in my own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to my body
and nourishment to my bones.
This is where He always provides.

In a crazy world
it gives me pure and utter joy
to know that I come
from something so complete
from a truth above all else
where His voice I hear clearly
where His plan I trust
above the noise
it is where peace
is what I meet.

-JK


© Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House (theartofamessyhouse.com), 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Kosuda and The Art of a Messy House with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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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Chocolate Covered Heart Cookies

I have always loved to bake and experiment with recipes out there. However after TJ’s anaphylactic reaction, I became paralyzed in many aspects of my life including my passion for baking. Like I’ve stated in previous posts, I spent the next two years, avoiding… avoiding and avoiding, paralyzed by that fear. For most of my life, I was the person who would enthusiastically volunteer to bake for events,.  However, I avoided this at all costs now. It was easier…

it was safer …

it was what I did to handle the fear the world of allergies brought.

I mean they do say FEAR = false evidence appearing real.

However, soon I started to learn that I didn’t need to do this and that in fact, parties and events that set up an incredible challenge for us…

…were really bringing us an incredible opportunity.

FEAR = forever embodying amazing revival

That’s when we started to experiment with recipes and began to create our allergy-safe recipe book. Yesterday, I took the day off to prepare a couple items for my future sister-in-law’s bridal shower today. One of those preparations involved creating this very recipe with TJ (who has already eaten 3 of these cookies).

So here you go: the perfect heart cookie drenched in scrumptious chocolate and everlasting love.

Heart Shaped Cookies (dairy, egg, peanut free)

Oven: 350 degrees

Time: An hour (But the dough should sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before using.)

  • It makes 24 cookies.  I doubled it to make enough for the event.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup non-dairy butter (We used Earth’s Balance)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 bag of Enjoy Life chocolate chunks
  • 1 tablespoon Nutiva Shortening
  • sprinkles of your choice

Directions:

  1. Melt the dairy free butter. in a saucepan.
  2. Mix the DF butter with sugar.
  3. Stir in apple sauce.
  4. Then, add vanilla.
  5. Slowly mix in 3 cups of flour.
  6. Place dough in plastic wrap or even a plastic baggie after shaping them into a disc. Place in the refrigerator for at least hour, or up to 24 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or use some of the DF butter and flour to grease the pan.
  8. Roll the dough in a 1/2 thick rectangle and use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut out as many as you can from the dough.
  9. Repeat until the dough is done.
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
  11. Have the cookies cool completely.
  12. Use a double boiler or create your own.  I used sauce pot of boiling water and put a mixing bowl on the top of it.  In the mixing bowl on top, add the chocolate chip chunks and shortening. Stir until melted and smooth.
  13. Dip half of each cookie into the chocolate, removing excess by tapping it into the bowl.
  14. Place the cookies on a sheet of parchment paper and quickly add the sprinkles onto the west chocolate. Let set completely.
  15. Keep the cookies refrigerated until time to serve or an hour before to ensure no melting chocolate.
  • Final note: If you battle anxiety from anything,…no matter how long…no matter how deep the scars go… I promise you…you can heal.  You can defeat it.  You can overcome it.  I will be doing more posts about this and mental illness because healing happens…prayer and believe…and eat yummy cookies throughout it all!

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