Finding the Magical

My dear reader, hello!  I have glimpses of the magical things when I look.  Almost two weeks ago the labs came back showing I’m depleted of: dopamine, serotonin, epinephrin, norepinephrine, glutamate, and cortisol. 

Whew!

Then more labs came back that I have iron deficiency anemia again.

And yet….

little by little

I am finding the magical.

Day by day I pour over the word of God in the Bible. Day by day I take the supplements my doctor gave me for adrenal dysfunction and neurotransmitter support.  Later this week I will get the first of 6 iron infusions to resolve my anemia.

Oh did I mention I have bleeding stomach ulcers to boot?

I tell you all of this not to discourage you but to ENCOURAGE you because through all of this God is my provision.

Have you looked at Instagram or a photographers’ beautiful work & caught yourself thinking it was magical?  You see something so lovely and seemingly unattainable.

Goodness knows that in the past months with how awful I’ve felt at times these images proved unbearable.  When you see those lovely things your brain releases dopamine and you feel just a little touch of bliss. However fleeting you do.

For a while I just didn’t.  Even now with my labs as they are it seems impossible that I could.

But today I did.

It snowed buckets for our part of the globe.  I peered out across our backyard and noticed our frozen hummingbird feeder topped with a lovely whip of snow.

Huzzah! The magical is here. Right before my eyes. I saw it. Truly I had that happy moment where I knew God is healing me because that little moment came over me like a warm lovely wave.

Perhaps you haven’t walked a mile in my shoes. Perhaps you have.  Either way, we can all relate to that surreal blog post somewhere with perfect photographs in idillic lighting.  We just need to slow down and see.

Really look.

Look at the little things in your part of the world; your little plot of land you call home.

He’s there if you look.

Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”IMG_0066.jpg

Dear Lord,

Truly it is as the Bible says.  You are our provision and all-in-all.  Praise be to your glorious name.  I trust you Lord and praise you for the healing you have done and the healing you are going to do.  You are wonderfully faithful, positively perfect and the everlasting hope for all mankind.  Thank you for helping me to experience you by the magical things you put within my reach.

Amen.

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Depression from Nadalol: life is full until it’s not.

Hello! My sweet reader. It has been so very long since I’ve sat down to write.  You see, life is just so full…

  • Homeschooling 7&8 year old boys is amazing and surreal
  • Keeping our chickens and frogs and dog is wonderful and stinky work.
  • Making a house a home takes CONSTANT attention as the gardens go wriggly and birds dig up my seeds!
  • Homeschool co-ops are a blessing and a commitment.
  • The continual search for myself beyond the words “wife” and “mother” proves a God size task.

 

Life is wonderfully full! I apologize as this just afforded me no room to write, for far too long.  I hummed along with my health conditions still buzzing in the background of life.  Doing the daily duties while working in endoscopies and appointments with this specialist and that.  Well, about a year ago I was assigned a hepatologist because I was informed my portal vein thrombosis (PVT) is a type of liver disease and I should be followed in case I may develop complications.  The first endoscopy revealed indeed, I had.  They found 3 very large esophageal varices.  They’re like varicose veins in your esophagus (the part that connects your throat to your stomach).  The protocol for this is to place rubber bands around them so they will slough off.  Then, start a blood pressure medication.  The medication is used in a sort of ‘off label’ fashion for me because I have low overall blood pressure… but, not in what remains of my portal system.  There the pressure is too high causing the bulging veins.  If the veins break, a life threatening bleed can result.  So, of course when the director of hepatology suggested I start a beta blocker called Nadalol I did just as he said.  I have two sons to raise and a full life to live. If Nadalol lowers my risk of a dangerous bleed then great!

I was told Nadalol relaxes vessel walls lowering the pressure.  I was not told the mechanism by which this happens.  Let me tell you what I know now. Nadalol blocks dopamine and norepinephrine.  Over time the receptors become dulled… and fewer in number.

But I didn’t know that then…

The first day on Nadalol I noticed I was exhausted and a bit down.  I told the director of hepatology and he advised me to give it time as my body would adjust.  The days went on and for 6 months I continued to take Nadalol 20mg once a day.  I developed migraines for the first time in my life and blurry vision.  Daily life became more and more gray.

Life was full until it just wasn’t anymore…

Depression and blurred vision are two common side effects of Nadalol.

But the prescribing doctor would not admit to this… I found this only after speaking with a pharmacist as I attempted to leave no stone unturned.  I used to be a joyful “doer” type.

Suddenly, I was just listless and joy eluded me.

I became withdrawn little by little until one day the spiritual attacks started. While standing in my kitchen chopping bell peppers the thought came over me like a storm, “You could end it.”  I was horrified. “What is wrong me?” I began to plead with God to make the cloud lift and to bring me through it. I could not understand how I would be in the grips of such an awful thought.  Just 6 years ago I fought to stay alive. I plead and prayed and begged to live.  Now the exact thing I vigilantly avoid for fear of a bleed is going through my mind as if it’s even an option.

In that moment, I knew I needed help!

Well, scripture says that God is faithful to provide a way of escape.  And He did.  Just then, my husband came through the door returning home from a long days’ work with no idea the assault I was under.  Praise the Lord the door opened.

I cried and told him what had happened. I told him I thought it was the Nadalol and I didn’t want to take it anymore. We talked about how that would be a huge risk. You know the bleed!?!

I prayed and prayed.  I contacted my hepatologist’s office. The original doctor had left the practice and a new one took over but I hadn’t met her yet.  I wrote to her anyway explaining the situation and by God’s grace she replied advising me to stop the medication.

She also never admitted the Nadolol causes depression…

We agreed the risks were outweighing the benefits.

At the next endoscopy they found not only more varices but new clotting to boot! The explanation I received for the clotting was that any time blood flow is slowed the conditions are favorable to clotting. I can only conclude the Nadalol also made the environment more suitable for clotting! Why? Well, it slowed my heart rate reducing the pressure and flow. As well, this is the first and only time I’ve developed new clotting since the sepsis that started this whole mess back in 2012. Now I cannot prove my assertion but I feel the circumstances point to the medication.

When I stopped Nadalol I experienced a week of 1-2 hour long anxiety attacks as the once blocked norepinephrine flooded my system. This went in combination with the weighty depression, blurred vision and spiritual attacks.

Thankfully, God provided a few very dear friends to come along side me through this dark night of the soul. I clung hard to the Scripture and saw every doctor I have in my care.

I was validated by my Naturopath who told me Nadalol had depression and blurred vision listed as possible side effects. I will tell you I was afraid to tell her I was struggling so. I had this notion she’d deem me unfit and send me to the hospital to be inpatient. Instead she simply said the medication caused my symptoms and she’d put me on supportive therapy to rebalance my system and stop the scary thoughts of doom and gloom.

I am more and more myself every day. I am following God’s perfect promises and resting in His care. Daily I try to create beauty in some small way and replace every fiery dart from the devil with the living word of God.

I will leave you with this great wisdom a dear friend gave me…

I am not my own. I was bought at a price.

Because of this I’m free from the bondage of sin and a servant to the almighty God. He will never leave me nor forasake me.

My friend, the same is true for you.

love,

Erica

Dear Jesus,

I’m beginning to understand why you allowed this suffering to come. You’ve shown your perfect love to me again through this awful time. I rejoice that I love myself in a new way I couldn’t before because I better understand how you see me. Oh Lord God almighty thank you for carrying me through the scary times and anxiety and fear. Your word tells us not to fear more than anything else. You know our weakness and thank you for helping me to understand your strength more and more. Amen.

2 Corinthians 12:8-10, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

 

The Significance of 6! Jesus and Lego’s

There’s something very significant about turning 6! Who knew?!? I anticipated planning a party, buying supplies and singing “Happy Birthday” to our boy. What I didn’t know was that he would become a Christian and learn to build Lego sets alone.

Just a week before Hank’s 6th birthday we went through the Roman’s Road with him:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation of everyone that believeth…” Romans 1:16

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…” Romans 3:23

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans: 623

“But God commented his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13

As I read each verse and paused, looking up at Hank to see what he thought, he professed with his own words that he believed.

I have both joy and trepidation for my son. He will live the rest of his life with the perfect intercessor. He will have the Word of God to rely upon. But, he will also be guaranteed suffering by which the Lord will proof his faith like silver in the fire.

Dear Sweet Hank,

As your momma, I cannot be more proud of your acceptance, belief and confession of faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Don’t take it lightly, you will need your savior dearly at times of suffering and even in times of abounding joy. Your daddy momma and brother are here for you no matter what, to point you back to Jesus. I pray you will read the living Word of God and from it draw strength for the great purpose God has for you.

love,

Momma

On Hank’s 6th birthday, March 15th 2016, we went to Barnes and Noble bookstore and purchased The Action Bible so Hank can begin his daily discipline of reading the Word of God. I am proud of him.

IMG_20160315_142944_edit
Hank holding his new Bible on his 6th Birthday

The following Saturday, Hank had his birthday party as planned (despite my having recently recovered from pneumonia and three of us fighting head colds). He had a wonderful time celebrating with 10 of his good friends at the Dojo where he takes Karate. I must say I really enjoyed it too. There’s a cool joy that comes from watching your child having fun. It trumps almost every kind of joy I can think of (beside the Joy that comes from the Lord, that one wins hands down). Hank received wonderful gifts too. Among them were three lego sets.

Pardon my tangential backstory for a moment:

Several months ago, I asked Hank how he and I can connect more and he said he really likes building Lego sets with me. I took that seriously and decided I would purposely help him with his future sets. I want to do whatever I can to foster meaningful life giving relationship with my boys because I know the benefit will be more than I can measure with regards to their sense of assuredness in life. Plus, I really Super Duper love them and want to enjoy them as much as possible.

After the party we went home and started building legos. To my surprise, Hank was doing them all on his own! I was both excited for his new skill and nostalgic.

Have I missed my chance to build lego’s with him!?!?!

Thankfully, he still enjoyed me sitting by his side as I sat in awe of his ability to follow the instructions step-by-step to completion. I love him so much.

6 is significant! Hank has been maturing right before my eyes. I’ve seen him choose to be generous with his brother. When I ask him to do something, without complaint, he helps me (more and more often). He is becoming a light in this world as he learns more and more how to reflect Jesus.

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for the gift of faith. Thank you for bringing Hank to you. I am so very thankful that he will have you to rely upon all the days of his life. I pray Lord for his future family too. Please bless Hank as he grows. I pray he will one day marry a woman who loves you too and together they will see their children love and serve you. Thank you for the gift it is to be Hank’s momma. In you I am delighted and humbled. Amen.

If I was the Devil…

I just listened to this video today.  My heart is heavy for mankind.  We HAVE to get right with Jesus. Before you brush this off as one more Bible thumping, consider what I stand to gain by telling you, you need Jesus.  If I wanted to get for myself, if I were purely evil in motivation, so consumed by my own agenda

well

If I was the Devil…

I’d tell you your “Universe” talk and blatant disregard of God’s commands were good.  I’d support you and sit by smiling and watching.  I’d revel quietly in your agony.  I’d stand by and let you destroy yourself with your ‘new truth’ and your pride.  Then, when you were ruined, you couldn’t blame me because you did it to yourself.

Jesus the God of the Bible, is the way the truth and the life.  Not one of us will get to God except through Jesus.  I cannot omit this from my heart or withhold it from a world so desperately wallowing in filth and ignorance.  So many are completely blind to the perfect completed love of Jesus.  So many are striving for diety’s that do not exist or are constructs of Satan.

From the bottom of my heart I emplor you to get right with Jesus.  Lay it all at his feet and seek Him for what He comnands is good.  Every other compass will not sustain you, will not fulfill you.

God SPOKE all of creation into existence.  What evil has God ever caused you?  Search your heart, why do you hold your hurts against your creator?  Take it all to him, he can handle it.

It is Finished.

Dear Jesus,

I pray for those who wander lost, especially those who think they’ve found their way without you.  I pray for your protection and peace.  Please rescue our nation.  Amen.

ULMas 1st Anniversary, Let’s Have a Happy Hour All Day!

I am the designer and owner of ULMas brand Beautifully Practical Breast Pads!  I designed them a few years back because I felt truly discrete, leak-proof, absorbent and pretty nursing pads should be a reality.  But, when I searched high and low I couldn’t find any that fit the bill.  Perhaps I had a high standard but I figured with a little a lot of work I could make just the solution come to fruition.

Once I got the design ironed out and tested thoroughly, I obtained a business license and launched Undercover Leaky Mommas on Etsy.  Well, that was a year ago already.  I can hardly believe the year we’ve had too.  I have learned a TON about on-line sales, tax codes, sourcing, time management, pr, marketing and SEO and inventory. I’ve learned how to do my own invoicing, how to anticipate sales and trends in fashion.
I’ve just been flying full speed into a huge market and the best part?

I get to do what I set out to do:

Help other mommas!

I love that other mommas don’t have to drive somewhere with their newborn or settle for whatever’s on the shelf at their local chain store.

All they need to do is visit my shop purchase the pads they like and soon thereafter they can have Nursing Pads that Really Work!

ULMas "Zebra" Print

ULMas “Zebra” Print

Along with having our first anniversary, Today Marks the beginning of National Breastfeeding Week.

As a way to celebrate these things, I have decided to give everyone a Happy Hour all day!  With this event every ULMas customer gets BOGO on all ULMas brand nursing pads all day today! ❤  Head over to ULMas on Etsy and Enter the code: “HappyHour” in the coupon code field at checkout to Buy One Get One Free on all ULMas Breast Pads!

Thanks for reading and thank you for your support!

Erica, ULMas

LogoBrownFill

Check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Etsy

Dear Jesus,  Thank you above all for sustaining me each day. Thank you that I get to do something that helps other mommas out.  I love raising my boys and being a homemaker.  I love the life you have given me. Amen.

Gideon Dinosaur Wrangler

We bought an rc dinosaur second had a while back.  It turns out our friends had donated it!  Well, at least we know he came from a good home. 😉

We paid a fraction of what this $600 dinosaur originally cost so I don’t feel as bad when I see it being used this way.  I love every moment of this cute little dinosaur wrangler!

buckin dino don't fall off riding looking down riding the fierce dino standing over dino

Dear Jesus,  thank you for the little years.  Please help me to keep my sanity despite all the chaos that comes with small boys.  Lord make me a better Mom and give me courage to do what you have for me, boldly.  Amen.

We actually got snow!

Last weekend we actually got snow!  It was perfect.  It fell Saturday evening and lasted through Sunday, with clear roads Monday morning.  I cannot ask for more. 🙂  Our boys both really enjoyed it too and Gideon finally got a really clear understanding of what snow is.

I even managed to take a couple of photos before we headed in for hot chocolate.

BnE Gideon smiling Hank in trees Hank smiling big Snowman snowmanfront

Dear Jesus, thank you for a fun snow day and that we had snow just long enough to get out and enjoy it without having to deal with it for very long.  Thank you also for a couple of shots of Hank smiling!  Amen.

Grieving Alongside, Miscarriage

Last week while picking blueberries with my husband and boys, excitedly awaiting ultrasound results, I received a text message.  Just a few weeks ago, my sister-in-law told us she was pregnant.  They were trying to avoid pregnancy, so everyone felt this was evidence that God does whatever he wishes. 🙂

Well, the text message, didn’t say what I had hoped.  I hoped to hear that the baby was growing beautifully and strong.  Instead, it said that miscarriage was impending because the baby had passed away.  I was taken aback.  I stared tearily at my phone wanting to yell, “WHAT?!?!?!”  Then I composed myself.  I realized I couldn’t respond with my own upset.  That wasn’t what Lacey needed.  She doesn’t need to comfort me!  She needs Jesus’s peace, and support from loved ones.

On the way home from blueberry picking I told my husband that his sister was facing miscarriage.  We both sat in reverent silence.  My eyes heavy with tears.  Hank asked why I was sad.  I explained, “You know how auntie Lacey was making you another cousin?  Well, Jesus decided to keep that one.”  Hank replied, “Oh no that’s bad.”  I said, “No buddy that’s good.”  He said, “Then why are you sad?”  I replied, “Because now we will have to wait a whole lot longer to meet the baby.”  Hank said, “Oh.”

As I write this, I realize I haven’t even spoken to my sister-in-law yet.  Just a few brief messages.  I realize that when I was so sick last year and didn’t hear from some loved ones, maybe it was because they were grieving alongside, quietly.

I am so thankful I am not Lacey’s savior.  That her joy doesn’t rest in my ability to take this pain away.  But, oh how I wish I could.  I wish I could just pray hard enough to make this all better.

My heart is heavy as she walks through this.

I keep thinking of a song, “Where does my hope come from?  It comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth!”

Here’s a link to Lacey’s blog: From Joy to Sorrow

Dear Jesus, please give Lacey your peace and comfort as she walks through miscarriage.  Please give me the right words to speak and the right timing.  Jesus, I know you are faithful and you will work all things together for your glory and our joy, even though its hard to see right now.  Amen.

I Started A Business- Undercover Leaky Mommas

Three years ago, when I began nursing, I found out many washable breast pads are bulky and are hard to hide under your shirt.  For a while I settled for disposable pads but over time the cost added up.  So I decided to make my own and settled on a design that worked REALLY well.  So well that I thought to myself, “One day I’d like to sell them.”  Well friends, that day has finally come!  Hooray!

Here’s my latest batch.  I made these up for my buddy, Susanne’s, baby shower.  In the pictures you’ll see two pairs laying side-by-side.  The left pair is for overnight and the right pair is the regular absorbance set. I made the washable gift bag too.  I sure hope she loves them as much as I did. :0)

custom bag overnights and regular in baby pink-top view overnights and regular- side view in baby pinkULMas is short for Undercover Leaky Mommas, the brand name of my washable breast pads.  These pads are leak-proof, discrete, no-fray, and absorbant.  If you or someone you know would like to buy them visit my site:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/ULMas

“Nursing is beautiful and now washable breast pads are too!”

Have a great weekend!

Dear Jesus, thank you for the opportunity to make something that worked for me, available to others.  It’s fun to be creative and help others.  Amen.

Pray For Sherrie

Dear Readers,

If you pray, pray extra for Sherrie.  I received a picture of her yesterday from my Mom.  She is my Mom’s cousin.  She is battling cancer right now.  I saw a picture on her Facebook page from last November and the comparison from then to now is stark.  I think back on last November and that was the beginning of recovery for me from severe illness.  For her it was the time leading up to a discovery of cancer invading her digestive system.

Sherrie is a Christian and is clinging fast to Jesus.  Even in her recent photo she is smiling.  Though she looks so different now, she is finding joy in the Lord.

My heart breaks for her suffering.  Please pray that God works a miracle and heals her.  The doctors offered the option of not treating it so that she could live her last days without the horrible side effects of chemo and radiation.  She decided to take on treatment and is an incredibly faith-filled woman.

Here is her public Facebook photo (for privacy reasons I won’t include her current picture since she hasn’t made it public):

Dear Jesus, I know you do miracles.  I know that you healed me and many have seen the joy of your hand wiping away every tear.  Lord miraculously heal Sherrie.  May her story be one that brings you glory and her joy.  Please make your presence known to her that she may never feel alone.  Amen.