Tag Archives: Good

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?

Untitled design (72).png

“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.

 

Untitled design (71)

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.

Surround Yourself

Who and what do you surround yourself with?

In a world inundated with negativity, it is crucial to surround yourself with the opposite, positivity. I’m not saying we should walk on a delusional path, ignorant to the realities of the world. I am simply saying that it is important we do not transform to them.

Even the Bible warns about it:

“Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.”- 1 Corinthians 15:33

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” – Proverbs 13:20

and one of my favorites:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:2

But it’s not just about people, it’s about everything. What is your mind seeing every day? Whatever it is, it is setting up a platform on which you will focus.

Living most of my life with incredible anxiety, I know this all too well. The vicious cycle that captures our minds like prey. This was most recently experienced after my daughter was born. While I couldn’t admit it at the time, I suffered from postpartum anxiety which teamed up with the post traumatic stress disorder that still lingered from my son’s anaphylactic reaction years before.

During this time, the last thing I needed was more negativity, but it was everywhere. Every other post on Facebook had it. The news that was on television. The news that people told me. What I was google searching… what I was searching for… what I was reading… turned into what I was thinking… It. Was. Everywhere.

Until I had a huge wake up call, I was choosing what to surround myself with. Sure, it was all out there, the negativity our society sometimes seems to sickly crave, the accidents we can’t turn our eyes from. However, it was my own choice if I looked or turned away to something else.

So I decided then during a session of breastfeeding my daughter I would gradually take control back from this vicious cycle once and for all.

That was when I started to google search positive quotes and song lyrics, leaving them on my phone to see when I went to text. Or when I would try to search up something fearful, I would see Bible scriptures of hope in the search engine and screen, then reminding myself to put the phone down. I started to plant seeds of positivity everywhere… my phone, my phone cover, my keychains, my computer screens, my ID holder, my classroom, etc.

Unlike the keys we must carry to get where we need to go each day, we do not need to carry the weight of the world’s negativity with us. Instead, learn to surround yourself with positive people who empower you and your life with reminders of all that is good in this world. Because the truth is… there really is sooo much good, just waiting to be seen.

There is so much beauty in the world if you train your eyes to see it. And if for some reason, you don’t see it… create it, become it, be it! That is why I embrace the mess because it is surrounded by goodness.

Unchained Candy Crush

I played Candy Crush for five years.

Yup.

Five years.

And while I do admit I loved it and how it made my mind turn off any worry or stress for those minutes each day of playing …

.. and do not judge anyone who plays it…

 

_Embrace the storm before it ends and learn to dance in the rain, even if it tracks in some mud along the way. (7).png

let me share why I finally stopped playing cold turkey.

 

I have goals. Many of these dreams have been deeply rooted in me since I was a child. One goal this year is that I want to live in the present. Others include wanting to start this blog again, to write and publish my poetry, to write and publish a book or two, to make a difference according to God’s will, to develop a deep connection with my husband and children, to be more in-tune with family and friend relationships, to be my best self…

Back in the fall, one night as we were spending time with my son before bed, he asked to play on my phone. Finding Candy Crush, he then begged me to show him how to play. It was only for a few minutes that night … but soon turned into a few minutes every night that week… a few minutes every night that took away from conversation and soon could turn into hours or even days of valuable time taken away.

My husband challenged me, “You still play that game? Why don’t you delete it?

I started my defensive comeback …

It helped me work out in the morning (Yes I’m guilty of being the one running on a treadmill crushing away!) …

It helped me unwind …

It helped me de-stress …

It helped me …

Avoid …

Now, unwinding is one thing … but avoiding is another. I was avoiding my goals and dreams because it makes you extremely vulnerable to acknowledge them, verbalize them, and even more vulnerable to stretch out and reach for them.

Stretch goals are not easy. They are not meant to be easy. However, they will never be reached or even have the possibility of being reached if you avoid them.

“I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed.” – Robert H. Schuller

God-given gifts and those dreams that are placed on our hearts that align with those gifts cannot be avoided. They must be prayed for and used to do good.

So 1,825 days later …

I deleted candy crush.

You see the devil will use distractions in life to keep us from out destiny… and Candy Crush was one of mine.

While I could not get any of that past time back, I needed that time going forward…

Prayer … writing … poetry … close family and friends … all help me unwind, destress, and focus. But they also help me, stretch out for those dreams and give me the time to do so.

And even though as the work week comes to an end, the house is messier than I would like, my mind and heart are aligned in knowing they are working together to do good. They are working together for a greater purpose.

For more information:

  • “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” – Colossians 4:5
  • “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” – John 17:4

© 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.


Just Before Dawn

Just Before Dawn

After the darkest hour

comes the new dawn

comes where it all changes

revival to a world

where smiles form in the creases

of the new day’s yawn.

Just before dawn

the darkest hour of day

yet it stands in the knowing

in the praising

in the promise

that light is just hours away.

Even in the pits

there is a peace

there is a love

there is a hope

given to all who accept it in

the power, the light, the promise

that must keep burning within.

Just before dawn

the darkest hour of day

yet it stands in the knowing

in the praising

in the promise

that light is just hours away.

Not as the world gives

not as hearts can be troubled

not as the night fills with fear

for just before dawn

the light is still so very near.

Just before dawn

the darkest hour of day

yet it stands in the knowing

in the praising

in the promise

that light is just hours away.

-JK

For more on this: turn to John 14:27


© 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.


Some Days Just Stink

Every January people ring in the New Year with high hopes of it being the break-through year of dreams taking off and miracles happening. And this past January 1st was just the same. I believed the great blessings that this year would bring as soon as the clock struck midnight. While I had tried to stay awake, I had only made it to 11:41 pm.

Hmmm… maybe my lack of endurance had been to blame for what soon happened…

Anyways, I woke up that first day with anything but a restored attitude. Instead, every ounce of my body struggled to get out of bed as I woke up with a massive headache. We had been with our friends and their kids the night before so maybe the two drinks I had gave me a headache? How could I be hung over? Wow, maybe my age was really catching up to me.

Still, I pressed on as parents do… cooking and straightening up, packing and prepping for the upcoming school week after being off for winter break. It was brutal. I told myself I would watch my former student and his Kentucky football team in the Citrus Bowl as I wrote and prepared this blog. However, I found myself freezing under covers watching the game with a heating pad along my spine and my eyes fighting to stay awake.

Soon enough, when the aches began, the thermometer told me different story, a 101 fever! Great! It was the first day of the year …the first day for a restored attitude …

and I could not work out because I felt so terrible…

I could not write (I always started mornings off by praying and writing)…

I could not spend time with my kids…

could not have a romantic evening with my husband…

I could not even eat…

I was not productive…

I just laid around and waited for bedtime.

The virus passed quickly as usual since I had worked hard in building up my immune system after having the kids. Now, I was back at school still not feeling like myself, but functioning and sweating actually more than I would like to admit. I was trying not to feel discouraged. We had so much to look forward to…

My husband had a potential new job offer much closer to home…

My daughter was finally getting to try straight cow’s milk with our allergist the following week …

TJ’s annual blood work for allergy levels would be back soon and for the past two years they had dropped significantly for eggs and dairy…

So much to look forward to! So much to praise God for… just around the corner…

If we could just get to the corner, everything would be okay…

Then the next week came and my husband Timmy took our daughter to try cow’s milk with her doctor. I had it planned out; since I was working until late we would go to church the following day to go to the alter and praise God for the outgrown allergy, a tradition we had done for all of the other food challenges TJ and Madison had passed and allergies they had outgrown. I mean she already ate chicken francaise, Hersey kisses, pizza, baked products, a bunch of items with cow’s milk in it, there was no doubt in our minds that she wouldn’t pass…

until that exact thing happened.

She didn’t pass….

…after just one drop, her mouth got red and itchy. We would have to try again in August…

Then, TJ’s annual results got back and they had stayed pretty much the same. The same!?! I believed… we believed they would drop drastically again…

To make matters worse, Timmy still had no news on the job offer that was given over a month ago.   They had been negotiating back and forth … until finally it fell through …

Jen, breath, it’s all just around the corner.  Just not yet….

 

untitled design (21)

And then I read TJ’s report card: “He has a kind heart. Sometimes, he gets frustrated because his friends don’t understand him. I love his art work!”

WHAT!?!?!? Great sandwiching of the comments … but why was this the first time I was hearing about this. Sure, we noticed certain sounds were lacking like tr and k but he was our first, we had no idea what was typical and what wasn’t. As a special education teacher, I tried my hardest to not overanalyze and diagnose my own children.  Maybe, I was wrong…maybe I should have asked…

Guilt and frustration were having a field day…

untitled design (22)

So I lost it. 2019, what were you trying to do to me? It had only been a week, but bad news after bad news plus the pile up of responsibilities on my plate at school, built up for a meltdown.

I started to think …
What a “great” year this is going to be?
Now what… will this year bring?
Can we restart?

And even something I totally had wrong:

What had I done wrong?

Then, as I stopped myself to pray. These words spoke to my heart…

“Be present and stay patient in prayer.”

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

It was the time to start declaring the year was going to be one of blessings.  It was not time to be fooled by a bad day, week, month or season. It was certainly not the time to stand around and wait to enjoy “the right now.”

The whole time when I was waiting for the perfect news to praise God and to declare how blessed we were, I had it all wrong.

It’s not about waiting for the thunder to pass …

it’s not about waiting for the good news…

it’s not about waiting for the prayer to be answered ….

the allergy to be cured … the money to come…

It’s about seeing the beauty of the storm itself.

It’s about accepting that some days, some weeks, some seasons just stink, and

that. is. okay.

But what is not okay is believing that those days and storms will always be. Instead, it was believing and knowing that they all have their purpose. That they do transform us into who we are called to be… into our best selves … and for that we can genuinely smile through it, knowing storms do eventually run out of rain.

So get those rain boots on and walk proudly through those puddles. Find laughter through all seasons. Embrace the storm as you learn to dance in the rain, even if it tracks in some mud along the way. 

 

untitled design (23)

To 2019… even though we got off on the wrong foot, every day is new chance to start over and for that … we are just getting started!

“And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm...” – Mark 4:39