Today I want to share with you what helps me get through extra difficult days with my chronic pain. If you’re suffering from chronic pain – whether physical, mental or emotional pain that is ongoing – this should be helpful for enduring those days when you just have to survive the day.
1. Accept help.
If you’re battling with chronic pain, you need to find a tribe of supportive people to surround you. Whether that’s your physical family, your church small group, or some friends and neighbors – find your tribe. Have your go-to people that you can text or call if you’re having a bad day. People who can pray with and for you, or who can come over to help distract your kiddos if you need a break.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Of course, if you want this type of friendship, you have to be this friend to others as well. Be intentional about your relationships. It’s not realistic to have 15 super close BFFs – but you can have 2-3 friends whom you would do anything for – and who also will understand if you have to change your night-on-the-town plans to a movie night in bed because you’re in pain.
2. Communicate your pain.
“A sorrow shared is a sorrow halved.”
If your friends and family members don’t know you’re in pain, it’s going to be impossible for them to know how to help you. So even if it’s hard, you have to share your pain. You don’t have to tell everyone – but be intentional with what you share. Don’t just say “I’m fine” when you know that’s not true. Be specific. Be real.
Have one or two people that you know you can shoot a text to on painful days. For me, I typically reach out to my sisters-in-law, Amanda and Andrea. Just a simple, “pray for me, I’m in a lot of pain today,” text can help take some of the burden off of me.
A note on getting help & communicating your chronic pain:
One question that I get a lot from friends or family members is: how can I help? This is a difficult one for me because I genuinely need help, but I don’t want to inconvenience people and I certainly don’t want to ask for something that’s more than they were willing to give. However, I think if someone is asking this question, they most likely really want to do something for you! My mom often reminds me that God can use my pain as an avenue for others to answer His calling to serve. I shouldn’t hinder that call by being too proud to ask for help. So, communicate specific ways that a friend can help. Perhaps they can bring a meal, watch your kids for an hour while you rest, pick up groceries or medicine for you, or just bring you a coffee.
Please don’t be hurt if people don’t “get it” when you’re in pain.
If you’ve never had a migraine before, it’s hard to grasp how debilitating one is. Oftentimes we feel like we’re falling apart on the inside, but to others we look just fine! This can make it much more difficult for them to connect with how we’re feeling. I’m always surprised after a group hangout if I mention that I was in pain and people reply, “I had no idea!” Don’t assume people know how you’re feeling and don’t be afraid to explain in detail what you’re experiencing. However, make sure to offer lots of grace when a friend or family member inevitably doesn’t quite understand. That’s OK!
I’m a planner. Literally. My undergraduate degree was in Recreation, Parks & Tourism with a concentration in Event Planning. I enjoy planning things. In fact, one of my “hobbies” is planning vacations that I’ll (probably) never go on.
The older I get, the more I bump up against this problem with planning: oftentimes, my plans don’t coincide with God’s plan. And it’s frustrating, and, at times, painful.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
When God Had Different Plans for Me
At the beginning of 2013, I started to have debilitating pain in my joints. At the time, I was a riding instructor at a local horse farm. I would get home from teaching lessons at the end of the day and literally crawl up the stairs to our apartment because I was in so much pain. I started to see an orthopedic doctor and then a sports medicine doctor, and when neither helped, I went to a rheumatologist, a chiropractor, an acupuncturist, a physical therapist… the list goes on. I got a knee brace, shoe insoles, a plethora of medications and side effects, and a myriad of injections in my joints. Instead of getting better, the pain only got worse.
With every new doctor, I would hope that this would be THE ONE. This would be the doctor who would know what was wrong with me. This would be the therapy to finally “fix” me. This medication would make it all go away. But it didn’t. I found the truth in this verse: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).
Three years into my journey with pain, I was consistently walking with a cane and taking several medications daily just to function. The pain kept me up at night—I spent a lot of nights crying on the bathroom floor, praying to God, feeling so alone and defeated. I was unable to work, barely able to go to church. There were days when I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without help from my husband. This obviously wasn’t part of my plans.
One of the hardest things for me to deal with on a regular basis is interruption. As in: I have a plan for the day, and it’s going to look a certain way, but then something (or someone) comes along and interrupts that plan. And I have to either let go of my plans and pivot or I have to fight hard against the interruption in order to return to my original plans (and usually fail). I typically end up frustrated and flustered.
What would Jesus do?
This made me think about how Jesus would handle interruptions. I love how God works because literally the day after I was wondering about this, I happened to read this story in Matthew 14. It’s right after John the Baptist (Jesus’ cousin) gets beheaded, and Jesus is attempting to go away to a solitary place (presumably) to mourn. And, He gets interrupted…
Read along with me to see how Jesus handled his plans of solitude going up in smoke.
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Can you think of a more frustrating interruption? Jesus is in the midst of mourning His cousin, attempting to get away to a private place, and the crowds are following Him, clambering at Him.
Inconvenient doesn’t even begin to cover it.
But how does He react? Verse 14 says that when He saw them, He had compassion on them.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not my first reaction when someone interrupts my plans for the day.
When I wake up early to read my Bible, and the moment I sit down with my tea I hear Finn scream from his room: “MAMA! MAMA!” My first reaction is not compassion. It’s annoyance.
When I have plans to get a lot of writing done during nap time and one (or both) of the boys decide they’re not going to nap, it’s frustrating.
If I’m trying to work through some deeper issues in my heart and mind, and my kids are clambering all over me, it’s overwhelming.
But I don’t see any of these reactions from Jesus in this story. So, why did Jesus have compassion on them?
Jesus considered the people more important than Himself
First of all, we know that Jesus is completely selfless. He was so filled up by God’s love that it overflowed to the people around Him. This is what God calls us to do as well.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Jesus truly values us as more important than Himself – that’s why He laid down His life for us. And He calls us to do the same for each other.
In many ways I value my time, my comfort and my own self too highly because if someone impedes any of these things I react with frustration and annoyance. If this is the case, it’s probably because I’m not overflowing with God’s love – perhaps because I’m not connecting deeply enough with my Father or because I’m so distracted with my own self!
In order to value others above myself, I need to value my time with God above all else.
We know that this was already a habit of Jesus’ – to get away early in the morning to connect with His Father and get filled up for the journey ahead (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16).
If you’re feeling easily angered, overwhelmed by others’ needs or annoyed at the prospect of doing anything outside of your comfort zone, it’s time to evaluate your time with God. Are you filling yourself up deeply with the Lord? Are you overwhelmed by your circumstances or are you overflowing with His love?
Another verse earlier in Matthew shows us what He saw when He looked at the crowds:
Jesus had compassion because He saw the people for what they were: distressed, weary, troubled, wandering.
They were like sheep without a shepherd. They needed guidance, sustenance, protection and comfort.
Does this sound like anyone in your life who’s prone to interrupting you?
Sometimes, we look at the shallow aspects of people’s needs and fail to see the deeper ones.
The disciples saw clingy, hungry crowds whereas Jesus saw people desperate for spiritual sustenance.
What do you see when your children interrupt you? Or when your husband messes up your schedule? If we just see a clingy, fussy child or a hungry, grumpy husband, let’s look a little deeper. Perhaps there’s a spiritual need that God is calling us to meet.
We know that Jesus always looks at the heart – He knows what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling, and what we’re going through. I think this is why He so often treats people with compassion, because He knows their struggles. And He knows our struggles.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, we are all being harassed by Satan – and we should be cognizant of that as we interact with others around us.
Jesus saw the crowds and knew that Satan was after them. And they were coming to Him. They needed Him.
So He allowed His plans to be interrupted so He could guide them, feed them, and love them.
As we move forward with a day that will inevitably be filled with distractions and interruptions, let’s pray to overflow with God’s love and to have the eyes of Jesus so that we can meet the needs of those around us.
If you’re looking for a go-to anti-inflammatory meal, this is mine. This simple stir fry is chock full of inflammation fighting foods, it’s easily customized and very versatile depending on what veggies you love in your stir fry. Also, it’s dairy-free, gluten free, sugar free and yet, it’s NOT taste-free!! 😉
There’s so many different ways to make this dish – and that’s what makes it my go-to weeknight meal that we don’t get tired of. You can swap out rice for rice noodles or even spaghetti squash as the base. You can utilize in-season vegetables along with tried-and-true veggies your family loves. I’ll also occasionally include chunks of pineapple or mango for a sweet surprise!
My guys love this stir fry – and what a great way to get loads of vegetables in them!! I make sure to include a favorite veggie of each of theirs. Snap peas for Tyler, broccoli and bell peppers for Finn, and well, anything and everything for Justus! If there’s something I want them to eat but they might not like, I just chop it (or grate it!) really small so it blends in. I always include onion this way – and they never notice.
Simple Anti-Inflammatory Stir Fry
This is my favorite simple, versatile stir fry recipe using inflammation fighting foods!
1/4tspturmeric powderoptional: can use freshly grated turmeric
1/4 tspyellow curry powderomit if you don't like curry!
1bell peppersliced or diced
8ozsnap peascut in half
Stir Fry Sauce
1/4cupsoy sauceor soy sauce alternative such as coconut aminos or "no soy" soy sauce
2 tbspspicy honeyor regular honey
1tbspcornstarchoptional; only used to thicken the sauce
Preheat large pan to medium high heat. Chop vegetables and chicken. Season chicken with salt, pepper, turmeric and curry powder. Once the pan is hot, heat up 1 tbsp olive oil and saute onions, garlic and ginger for 3 minutes. Add chicken and saute chicken until it's mostly cooked.
Add vegetables and saute. You may want to add another tablespoon of oil at this point and saute until the vegetables are lightly coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are steamed and brightly colored (you don't want to cook for too long or else they start to get mushy and your broccoli will turn a murky green).
While the chicken and veggies are cooking, make your stir fry sauce: add the ingredients together and whisk until the sauce starts to thicken. Sometimes, I heat my sauce a bit to help the flavors meld.
Once the chicken is cooked and the veggies are steamed and brightly colored, serve over jasmine rice with the stir fry sauce and some chopped cashews sprinkled on top!
You can use any vegetables you want for this recipe! Typically I use broccoli, onion, bell pepper and snap peas as a base and then will include other veggies that I have on hand or that are in season such as zucchini, summer squash, carrots, etc. You can also add some sweetness to this recipe by adding pineapple or mango tidbits! If you do this, I recommend adding some of the pineapple or mango juice to the stir fry sauce. Delish!
For today’s blog post, I’ll be sharing a letter from my dear friend, Mrs. Richardson. Mrs. Richardson is a second grade teacher in Cary, North Carolina. She has written an insightful and encouraging letter to parents about how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the 2019-2020 school year, what challenges teachers faced and how schools are fighting to overcome those challenges for the 2020-2021 school year. So, if you are sending your children back to school this year – whether virtually or in-person – I hope you’ll read this letter.
How COVID affected the 2019-2020 school year – and what will be different this year
During March of this year, teachers and students left school for Spring Break, not knowing we wouldn’t return for the rest of the school year. I have the last day in my classroom ingrained in my memory. I tried to make it fun for the kids. We did St. Patrick’s day activities, creative writings about what they would do if they found a pot of gold, Read and Feed, and watched the Bee Movie since we had been learning about flowers, pollination, and the plant life cycle.
These are the last images I have of my classroom. Everything frozen in time. Student work left on the walls, supply baskets strewn about as they had left them, countdowns on my board of things we would never get to. A time capsule of March 13, 2020.
Today’s devotional is about why you should read your Bible – and, more specifically, why you should read the Bible more often than not. I know that we are all busy mamas, but I hope you’ll grant me a few minutes to convince you why reading our Bibles is so critical. If you’re already reading your Bible daily, I pray that this will encourage you to keep going and to help others to do the same!
#1: Reading the Bible changes our lives.
Listen to this incredible 2-minute video from Messenger International about what happens to us when we read our Bibles four or more times per week:
When we are reading our Bibles more often than not, it changes us. When we open our hearts and minds to God’s powerful words, we are allowing God to transform us.
This is called repentance. And, no, I’m not talking about beating yourself up after you sin. Repentance comes from the Greek term “metanoia.” Meta = change. Noia = mind. Metanoia means a changed mind. A new mind. When we are engaging our minds in God’s Word, it transforms our mindset, our way of thinking. And when our minds are changed, our lives change, too.
In this post, I want to share with you how to do a DIY project with your preschooler. If you’re like me, whenever you’re refinishing a dresser or building a bookshelf, your first instinct when your little one comes around is to shoo them away. However, involving them in household projects is SO good for them and it can be a fun, bonding experience if we allow it!
Recently, Finn and I had so much fun with this DIY furniture painting project! We’ve had an unstained bench in our entryway for a few years now, but I recently decided to update that space. Originally, I’d planned to paint it white, but when I brought it up to Finn, he said, “Why don’t we paint it red? Like a fire station?” So, that’s what we did!
You might be wondering…Why in the world would you want to do a DIY project with a preschooler?!
If I wanted to get something like this done without my kids, I’d have to do it while they’re asleep or when someone is watching them. And I’m going to be honest, that’s just not how I want to spend my free time. Because of my chronic pain, I usually need to spend nap times resting/taking it easy or at least not doing something that would put strain on my joints. And sanding/painting/moving furniture is not very nice to your hands when your joints are prone to swell.
It’s good for him. It teaches him several useful, real-life skills. He has to follow instructions. It takes quite a bit of fine motor skills. It’s bonding. It’s fun. It builds his confidence in amazing ways. To be able to look at something in the house and say, “I helped put that together!” is a unique, wonderful experience for anyone – especially a child.
Yes, it did test my patience at times. There were, of course, things I had to do without him. But the end result was something we were proud of – and had created together! This is a big confidence booster for a kid (or an adult!).
So, if there’s a DIY project you want to do but haven’t done it because you have a preschooler sticking their nose in everything, maybe this will give you the confidence to let them assist you!
Here’s some tips for your next DIY project with your preschooler:
Prep in advance: lay down a drop cloth, get the paint and other tools ready, and get your mind ready! Ha!
Have an “obedience” talk: I typically have some version of this conversation before we do activities that could get messy or require him to pay attention more than usual. I make sure there’s no distractions, have him look me in the eye and say something along the lines of: “I need you to make sure you listen to my instructions and wait for me to tell you what to do.” I make sure he understands what we’re doing and if there’s anything potentially dangerous (or if there’s something I simply don’t want splattered across the house!)
Don’t do something that’s undoable: paint can be stripped, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend painting your front door with your preschooler!
Protect them: this goes without saying, but make sure you’re aware of what could be harmful or toxic to your child. Have them wear protective gear (mask, gloves, eyewear) if necessary. With most DIY projects, there are chemicals involved that children shouldn’t really be around. For example, I applied polyacrylic coating during Finn’s nap because I didn’t want him inhaling those fumes, even with a mask!
Give clear instructions and do it with them first: sometimes I’m guilty of assuming my kids know how to do things that I don’t remember learning. When I first handed Finn a paintbrush, instead of brushing the paint on the bench, he hit the bench with the bristles, as if he were hammering the paint into the wood. So I demonstrated how to paint and then took his hand in mine and showed him how to do it. He still wanted to hammer the paint in too, but I made sure he did it AWAY from me!
Trust them: part of the process of our children growing up is learning how to do things independently. Once we show them how to do something and then assist them in doing it, it’s time to let them try on their own. Most likely, they’ll “fail” in some way or another – but what matters is that they’re trying, they’re learning and they’re creating new neural pathways in their growing brains! At some point, we have to trust our children to do tasks on their own – and I think you’ll be surprised by how happy and confident this will make them.
Praise them: make sure you’re not just correcting them whenever they are learning a new task, or this will discourage them. Of course they need you to teach them how to perform the task correctly (or at least mostly correctly! Ha!) but don’t forget to praise them for their effort, their creativity, the fact that they’re being brave by trying something new, etc. It always surprises me how much my children bloom when they’re praised.
Take a deep breath: when you add children to most any project, it complicates things. It won’t go exactly the way you want it to go, and that’s OK. Take a deep breath, count to ten, take a break – whatever you need to do in order to be in a good mental space, do it.
Enjoy the process: relish the bonding experience between you and your child as you create something new! Not only is this an enjoyable memory, but you also have an “artifact” of that memory: your DIY project! This is so special and will make your child feel special, too.
I hope that next time you have a DIY project around the house, you include your little one in the process! Make sure you tag me on Insta with the end result. 😉
Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite anti-inflammatory diet meals: my Easy Mexican Cauliflower Rice Bowl. This is another crowd-pleaser in our house. The boys eat it up with a big spoon!
Reasons why I love this Easy Mexican Cauliflower Rice Bowl:
It’s sneakily healthy – swapping out cauliflower rice for white or even brown rice means that you’re eating lots of veggies in each bite…and you don’t even know it!
It’s a simple, quick weeknight recipe. I typically make a double (or even triple) batch of this during the week and it’ll take me less than 30 minutes from beginning to end. Cauliflower rice cooks so quickly and you can just throw all the ingredients together!
This is a low-carb, low-calorie option if you’re looking for go-to low-carb or low-cal recipes!
It’s versatile – I can easily make this meal with shredded chicken, ground beef or turkey, or vegetarian. I’ve also easily swapped cooked white rice for the cauliflower rice when making this for large groups (with people who may or may not like cauliflower rice!) and it’s so yum.
My boys love it – Tyler loves this recipe because it’s super filling while also being low-calorie. Both Finn and Justus will gobble this down as soon as I put it on their plates.
Toppings galore – this dish is easily personalized depending on what toppings you like. I love to put avocado, an extra squeeze of lime juice and more cilantro on mine. Tyler appreciates covering it in cheese and sour cream, and Finn does all of the above! Whatever your eaters like, this meal can offer it.
How to cook cauliflower rice
There are three options for making cauliflower rice:
Buy cauliflower heads, chop them and put them in a food processor to make the “rice.” This is the most time-intensive option.
Buy a pre-chopped cauliflower head. With this option, the cauliflower is already “riced” for you. Typically you can find this in the produce section where you would find other bags of pre-chopped vegetables. This is the simplest, quickest option.
Buy frozen cauliflower rice. This option allows you to save the cauliflower rice for longer – I usually buy a large bag from Costco so I can use it whenever I want to. However, it takes slightly longer to cook all the way through (about 10 minutes instead of 5).
Any of these options work – obviously if you want to rice the cauliflower yourself, it will take longer. Also, if you purchase fresh cauliflower (either a whole cauliflower head or a bag of fresh cauliflower rice) it will cook quicker than the frozen cauliflower rice.
This super cute and fun summer craft is from our resident arts-and-crafts director: my sister-in-law, Amanda! And, of course, her sweet daughter, Lily. This tissue paper craft doubles as sensory play because what kid doesn’t love playing with tissue paper?! It’s also fantastic fine motor practice for your little one!
Supplies for Tissue Paper Watermelon Craft:
Card stock/thin cardboard or paper plate
Green, red and pink tissue paper
Black material for seeds (tissue paper, construction paper, paint, etc.)
This is one of my favorite anti-inflammatory diet meals! This butternut squash Thai curry is so incredibly flavorful and versatile. It packs an immune-building punch with all of the inflammation-fighting foods in this recipe. This meal is one that I love to make for company or if I’m bringing a meal to someone – it’s unique and delicious.
Butternut squash is an incredible food – packed with vitamin A and vitamin C, which help with immune function and are powerful antioxidants. It also happens to be relatively low in calories, which is a double win!
If you’re battling with chronic pain or any kind of inflammatory issue, exercising regularly and eating an anti-inflammatory diet could help reduce the inflammation in your body. What we eat can either speed up or slow down the inflammatory processes throughout our bodies. That’s why I try to keep an anti-inflammatory diet regimen throughout the week – which can be tricky when you’re cooking for others, including a picky husband, a toddler and a baby!
My husband (a picky eater) and my kids (not-so-picky eaters) LOVE this meal. Even my one-year-old shovels this curry into his mouth. I typically add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to cool the curry a bit for them.
This recipe is versatile. It can easily be made vegetarian/vegan if you omit the chicken. The vegetables in here (butternut squash, sweet potato) can readily be swapped out with one another. For example, you could use 4 cups of sweet potato OR 4 cups of butternut squash if you only want one over the other. You could also substitute carrots or other squash in place of one of the vegetables.