Thursday, December 31, 2015

Reflections of 2015

"I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." - Isaiah 61:10

We rejoice as we reflect on the significance of Christ’s birth, sinless life, selfless death, and victorious resurrection. We are grateful for His sacrifice for us so that we can have God’s great gift of salvation. We revel in the hope of living with Him for all eternity. While we long for that day, we also see God’s purpose for us right where He has us and are honored to be his instruments of His Gospel plan.

With the close of 2015 and the entrance into 2016, our hearts are overflowing with joy for the abundant answers to prayer we have seen this year and the countless blessings, and we eagerly anticipate all that God will do in the coming year in our hearts and lives and those He brings across our paths.

David, now 9 years old and in 4th grade, is becoming quite the violinist. He also started taking piano lessons at the beginning of the summer and is quickly learning that instrument as well. He was gifted with an incredible musical ear and a love for music. We love when he uses His musical gifts for the Lord! He started doing Taekwondo over the summer and just got his yellow belt with a white stripe completing the test by breaking 2 boards with a single snap kick. David has officially been off of antibody transfusions for a year and is the healthiest he has ever been! David, our failure to thrive infant has just recently moved into the same size clothing as his older brother who has always been at the top of the growth charts – truly a miracle! David loves reading, doing art, and loves building Legos.

Josh, now 11 years old and in the 6th grade, is finishing his last year in elementary school. He loves
earth science, health class, and gym class! He is finishing his second year of piano and voice lessons. This has been a year of transformation for Josh. He has come off of all but 1 of the original 10 medications he took in a day, and the last one he is taking is only 1/3 of the dose he was originally on. His doctor would like to wean him off of this last one starting in March if all continues to go well. This is a huge answer to prayer and one which we are still praying fervently about. Josh loves playing board and card games and is difficult to beat. Strategy games are his most favorite. Josh also loves swimming, riding his bike and scooter, reading, and building Legos.

I continue to work as a special needs pediatric trach/vent nurse for Bayada Pediatrics. I love working with my patients and their families. My business Balanced Essential Living is officially a year old. I get so much joy helping to educate and empower people to improve their health and well-being through the use of natural solutions in the form of essential oils. My business has allowed me to get out of the home more and meet all kinds of wonderful people I would have never met otherwise. It’s been a huge personal development opportunity stretching me well beyond my comfort zone and growing me as a person. I have also thoroughly enjoyed improving my own family’s health. It has been amazing to reflect back on how far we have come since using essential oils almost 2 years ago! My headaches and migraines are truly a thing of the past, and I only had 1 cold all year! I’ve taken on a new role doing quarterly partnership newsletters and monthly prayer partner updates for Asia Minor Partners (AMP), a partnership with a country in the Middle East that Tim and I have been involved in for 7.5 years.

Tim continues his position as financial advisor/wealth manager for The Life Financial Group. He
began his studies to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) this year and anticipates taking the CFP exam by next Fall. He does a great job balancing work, his studies, being a father and husband, and working around our house inside and out. He continues his role on the Leadership Team for AMP. Our family has been praying about the opportunity to go over as a family for a ministry trip to spend time with our brothers and sisters in Christ in that country. We had hoped to go this year, but God closed the door, so we are praying for an open one in 2016 or at the latest 2017. Tim continues to serve as a deacon at our church Grace & Peace PCA in Pottstown and is a leader in Kid’s Club.

We are so thankful that God holds us in His hands and that nothing that happens is outside of God’s will for our lives. We know that God does work all things for our good and His glory and pray that He will continue to shine His light through our lives to bring others to a saving knowledge of Him. We pray that each of you know this hope and trust in God in your own hearts and lives and if you don’t, we pray you come to know it even this year! May God richly bless you in this year to come!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Raising Sexual Abuse Awareness

I recently watched TLC's Breaking the Silence, a documentary on sexual abuse.  I was very impressed with how it was presented, and I liked the way they left the viewer with the urgency to take action to help prevent sexual abuse from happening in his own family.  I would encourage every adult to watch this video and take heed the action steps. 

As a victim of sexual abuse myself, I was nervous to watch the video because I was afraid of all of the bad memories it might uncover.  While it was gut-wrenching to hear the stories of the victims, I was surprised by how many things they said that I could completely relate to as a victim myself.

It seems that sexual abuse is a taboo subject that not many people like to talk about, but it's so important the people understand how common it is and know what to do about it.  Awareness goes a long way for prevention.

It's also so important that people be aware of how commonly a trusted family member or friend is the perpetrator.  Minimizing the opportunities is very important, and most people tend to be the most lax in their vigilance around those trusted family and friends.  For me, it was a deacon in my church who happened to be the husband of my beloved Sunday School teacher.  They had also babysat my siblings and me on more than one occasion.  You just can't trust anyone, and therefore it's best to never let your child(ren) be alone with any one person.

Talking to your children about sexual abuse even when they are young is really important.  Even if you don't use the exact terms, it's so important that your child understands the importance of private parts staying private and inappropriate and appropriate touch.  They also need to understand the importance of never being alone with just one person.  Help them know the importance of telling a trusted adult about any inappropriate touch or behavior no matter what they were told (keeping a secret or threats of bad things happening to them or their loved ones).  My abuser had been abusing his grandchildren, and the truth wasn't uncovered until my abuse had been reported to the authorities.  My abuser violated me twice, and unfortunately, the second time (most traumatic time) could have been avoided had I known the importance of reporting what he did to me the first time.

It is so easy to miss the signs of sexual abuse.  Everyone reacts differently to abuse, but often there is a significant change in behavior.  For me, I became shy and had low self-esteem and a low self-concept.  For a while right after the abuse, I used to rock, holding myself saying, "I'm dirty" over and over again.  I was desperately afraid of anyone of the male race and flinched if I came into casual contact with a male.  I would have panic attacks in the store if I couldn't find a female cashier because I was afraid to accidentally touch a male's hand in the exchange of money at checkout.  I struggled with flash backs of the events and would startle easily.  I shut down emotionally and didn't talk about my feelings and prevented myself from being able to feel emotions (sadness as well as happiness and all of the other emotions).  I stopped crying.

If someone trusts you enough to tell you about their abuse, please react responsibly!  Don't over-react or under-react. BELIEVE them!  Help them get help!  The investigators assigned to my case when I was 5 mistook my silence and lack of emotions to mean that I was "handling the situation well."  As a result, when they normally require therapy, they told my parents it would be optional.  My parents, not having a lot of money and trusting the experts that I was "fine," chose to not get me therapy.  For the next 12 years, I suffered in silent agony.  I had attempted to talk to my dad about it a few years after the abuse, and the look of pain and shock on his face when I brought it up was enough to silence me for many more years to come because I thought that I had said a very bad thing and should never say anything about it again.  I hit a breaking point my junior year of high school because of a male teacher who did not appropriately handle himself around his female students.  I was desperate enough to bring up my suffering.  I started working on convincing myself that I can live with the scars and not let my abuse continue to dictate my life, and things did improve somewhat.  My final breaking point was my sophomore year of college (15 years after my abuse) when I saw a man who looked and acted like my abuser, and I had an emotional breakdown.  Thankfully, I got professional help, and with trauma based, Biblical counseling, I learned that God could heal my scars completely and make me whole again, and that's just what He did!  I don't fault my parents in the least for what they did or didn't do.  They simply acted as best as they knew how.  However, I want my experience to help others not have to suffer for as long as I did.  I want people to realize the importance of getting therapy as soon as possible so that they can learn to live a happy and fulfilled life despite their trauma and abuse.

If you haven't had a serious talk with your children about appropriate and inappropriate touch and their private areas remaining private, please take time to talk to them today!  The information can be simplified even for a preschooler.  Don't let ignorance leave your child susceptible to sexual abuse!

  1. Learn the facts
  2. Minimize opportunities
  3. Talk about child sexual abuse
  4. Recognize the signs
  5. React responsibly

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

God is Still on His Throne

In the midst of all of the evil in our world, I find it helpful to remember that God is still on His throne.

My heart has been heavy over the past few months with how rapidly our culture and nation seems to be declining.  With the redefining of marriage and approval of gay marriage, the continued legality of abortion and the recent revelation of the selling of body parts, the discovery of so many respected people involved in affairs and sexual immorality, continued world-wide terrorism and persecution of Christians all so prevalent in the media, it's hard to not get discouraged.

It's not our place to judge - it's God's.  It's not our place to worry - we are to cast our anxieties on God.  It IS our job to pray - Pray that God's will be done. Pray for grace to continue. Pray for salvation of the wicked and/or for their justice. Pray for our leaders to act with wisdom. Pray that God's light would shine in this dark world.

It's also our job to remember that God is still on His throne.  None of this has caught Him by surprise.  He is working all things together for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28).

Read the following passages and be comforted as I have been that God's got this.  He will work all things out in the end, His justice will reign forever!
  • Deuteronomy 4:39 - "Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. 
  • 1 Samuel 2:10 - "Those who contend with the LORD will be shattered; Against them He will thunder in the heavens, The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; And He will give strength to His king, And will exalt the horn of His anointed." 
  • Psalms 29:10 - "The LORD sat as King at the flood; Yes, the LORD sits as King forever." 
  • Psalms 135:6 - "Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps." 
  • Isaiah 43:13 - "Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?" 
  • Isaiah 46:10 - "Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure';" 
  • Romans 1: 18-32 - "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,7 in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."
  • Ephesians 3:20 - "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,"

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Ability to Worship

When you have a child with a disability, it is so important, as his mother, that you reflect on his abilities instead of letting his disabilities cloud your view of the child God perfectly formed in your womb.

If you forget to notice the abilities, there aren't many people in the community who will help you to see them.  We live in an insensitive world where most people are quick to ask rude and uncaring questions or make inappropriate and ignorant statements.

When things are really tough, it gets harder to see the abilities because you feel as if you are drowning in your child's disabilities when they are screaming in your face.

Because of his Autism, Josh may not understand another person's perspective, he might get sensory overload from a few minutes in the community, and his motor skills may be a bit awkward, but he has a candid honesty about him and the ability to put himself out there not caring what other people will think.  He also has perfect pitch and loves music.  He loves God and has a personal relationship with him, and although at times when his Autism or Bi-polar overwhelms him making him doubt God's goodness, he always sees the truth that God really does care and gives him the grace to keep on keeping on.

These abilities give Josh one of the most important abilities - the ability to WORSHIP!  After all, God created us to worship!  The depth of some of Josh's prayers to God, his frank honesty about his struggles and doubts, and his pleas for God's help often catch me off guard and surprise me and challenge me in my own prayer life.

I also love the way that Josh loves to sing praises to God.  He takes making a joyful noise unto the Lord to heart and sings with all of his might - sometimes to our embarrassment (shame on us!) over the flat or sharp notes he sings as he tries to get his voice to sing the harmony note he hears in his head.  He sings with passion, fervor, and gusto to the glory of God.  I think we all could learn a thing or two from his example.

This Sunday, Josh had the opportunity to sing for special music at church.  It was a chance for him to let his ability shine and use it for God's glory.  The song he sang is taken from Proverbs 3:5-6, a passage we often turn to during the struggles with his disabilities.  It's a passage that everyone needs to remember, because if we don't trust God, life will be pretty miserable!  

I am thankful for the way that God can use a child with many disabilities to speak His truths to the hearts of His people and use Josh's abilities for His honor and glory!  In my opinion, there is no greater ability than the ability to worship!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Results to be Excited About

We have been concerned about Josh's triglyceride levels ever since we had to put him on a mood stabilizer back in 2012.  Within months of starting the medication, Josh's triglyceride levels increased.  At the same time, we were concerned for his LDL and HDL cholesterol levels.  Because of the harmful side effects of these kinds of drugs, we've had to get Josh's Lipid Panel checked about every 6 months to keep a close eye on his levels.  In January 2014, we went into crisis mode because Josh's triglyceride levels skyrocketed to 517, a level that is extremely dangerous for adults not to mention children.  Josh was immediately referred to a cardiologist to make sure his heart wasn't already suffering.  Not only he could have damaged his heart, but he was at risk for pancreatitis and other complications.

At the recommendation of the cardiologist, we started using flax in various meals and desserts to help lower the triglyceride levels.  The cardiologist also recommended that we switch from whole wheat bread to whole grain brain (Did you know that whole wheat bread is broken down in the body just like white bread?  The best kind of bread to consume is whole grain bread if you don't want fast sugars in your body) We also started Josh on a fish oil supplement and tried to get him to do intentional exercise a few times a week.  A re-test in April showed good improvement with the triglycerides in the sense that the severe cardiac and other organ risks were lowered, but his levels were still too high.  We were told that most likely, Josh's low HDL levels (the good cholesterol which help to keep LDL, the bad cholesterol, down) were a genetic issue even though both Tim and I have HDL levels in normal limits.  We were told it most likely will never improve.

In March, we began using essential oils to help Josh with his mood instability.  We had such great results that his psychiatrist started decreasing his mood stabilizer medication.  He went from 1.5 mg daily and did a 0.25 mg decrease at a time over several months until he leveled out at 0.5 mg daily this past Fall.

In August, Josh had a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotic he was put on for Lyme's Disease, and his body went into a heightened period of hives.  Taking his fish oil supplement each morning caused him to break out in hives, so we had to stop the fish oil.

In the middle of December, I started Josh on a trio pack of natural supplements (3 all-natural, bio-available supplements including a multi-vitamin, essential oil and omega supplement, and a cellular restorative supplement) with the hopes of helping his body be healthier, help with his Autism symptoms, and help with his triglycerides.  We saw a huge improvement in his Autism symptoms pretty much right away, but only time would tell if the supplements were helping with his triglycerides.  Due to the timing of Josh's follow up with his cardiologist, we just got his blood drawn last week.  I got the results on Friday and nearly cried out of pure joy!  Josh's triglyceride levels dropped by 200 points!  His HDL also increased by 10 points, and while still below normal, it's so close to being in normal range!

I am so excited about the incredible test results that I just have to share with the world - well at least my friends who read my blog!  Moral of this story - don't ever give up or let what a doctor says keep you from trying.  God is greater than modern medicine, and as I've found out through the natural supplements and essential oils, God's creation is powerfully beneficial for our bodies and health!  These supplements and essential oils don't cure or treat in any way, but they support our bodies to do what God created our bodies to do - Heal and repair itself!

I created a table to make it easy to see the progression of Josh's Lipid Panel results this past year.

If you think I am making this up, look at a few of his test results for yourself!

If you would like to know more about these supplements we have been using for Josh as well as the rest of our family, contact me!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

In discussing our sermon passage in Romans 11 this past Sunday, our pastor mentioned the hymn "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" by William Cowper.  I absolutely love the hymn, and since our pastor mentioned it, I have yet to get it out of my head and have been going through my days singing it over and over.  It's a good thing because it's a good reminder for me as I push through my days of being a "single parent" to our two special needs boys while my husband Tim is out of town.

I have seen the mysterious ways God has worked throughout my life and even just within this week:

  • In a week that was set up to be difficult with Tim out of town, I needed the reminder that God is sovereign.  Juggling my two days of work as a nurse without having Tim home to take care of the boys and our normal afternoon childcare arrangements for Tuesdays; caring for the boys without Tim's help when both boys struggle with anxiety and related behaviors from having Tim gone; caring for the household responsibilities on my own; continuing to battle with therapy services for Josh; etc. -- I am surviving, and so far things are going better than I had anticipated with only two more days of being alone to go.  Part of what has gotten me through is singing this hymn and remembering God's sovereign control over my life and our daily circumstances.
  • In  my own personal devotions this week, I have been reminded of God's sovereignty.  As I read through Job, I see it very clearly.  Bad things happen to good people.  Life can be difficult and full of heart-wrenching troubles.  Friends fail us. Our broken justice system acts unjustly.  Disasters lurk at every corner.  Job didn't curse God and kill himself like his unhelpful wife had suggested even after losing his wealth, his family, his means of income, his friends, and his health.  Instead he chose to praise God, ask God some deep questions from his heart, and conclude that when he comes through his trials, he will come forth as gold.  No matter what I face in life, God has ordained each and every thing - from the deepest, darkest trials to the mountain top experiences.  I can live each day confidently knowing that I remain in God's capable hands and nothing today will happen outside of God's control and plan.  I may not see His purposes clearly, but I know that He will work His sovereign will performing His wonders daily in my life.  I can put away my anxious fears and live in the moment all for God's glory!
Because I love the song so much and because I couldn't get it out of my head anyway, I decided to take some time for myself today, reflecting on God's sovereignty and glory, and record a video of this hymn for others to enjoy the truths of those great words!  Forgive the poor audio and the piano that needs to be tuned.  I recorded it on my voice memo app on my ipod while I played the piano and sang. :-)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Do You Want a Wellness Revolution?

In light of the fact that World Health is celebrated annually during the month of April, I have joined the efforts of the American Recall Center to spread awareness of medication education and help educate people so that they can make informed medical decisions as they work with their doctors in honor of World Health Day.

As a Registered Nurse, I have seen many adverse side effects from drugs, even those that were properly prescribed.  I have worked with patients who were on drugs to help control the side effects of other drugs.  As a patient, I have had multiple allergic reactions to drugs, so my allergy drug list is quite extensive.    As a mother, I have experienced the pain and frustration of dealing with drug reactions or harmful side effects of drugs as well as vaccines for my two special needs children.  I am not anti-drugs.  If I were, I would need to stop being a nurse.  I am, however, a huge advocate of people making informed medical decisions after doing thorough research on their own before starting a new drug or receiving a vaccine.  The pro’s and con’s need to be weighed thoroughly to make sure the benefits outweigh the costs.  In addition, I am a huge advocate of using natural means to promote a healthy lifestyle to support current disease and illnesses and preventing others from developing.  That is why I became a Wellness Advocate so that I can educate others to take control of their health.

In nursing school, I learned about the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet and exercising.  In practice, I am not seeing much of that being carried out nor proper education from doctors about this issue.  America is more about treating disease and illness rather than preventing it.  Doctors are quick to prescribe medications rather than help the person change their health habits.  In addition, it is becoming harder and harder to eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients because so much of the food available to us is either processed, thus losing its nutritional value, or has been genetically modified causing digestive issues, allergies, and decreased nutritional value.  Fresh foods are contaminated with pesticides, and meats are injected with steroids and antibiotics.  Our bodies are being filled with additional toxins that lead to disease and illness.  Also, in a technological era where we hide behind our smart phones and computers, we are not getting the exercise our bodies need or sun and fresh air to be healthy.  America needs a wellness revolution where we change the way we treat disease and start preventing it.

For me and my family, we have been on our own wellness revolution over this past year plus.
  1. We eat organic and locally grown foods as much as possible making sure we are balanced in our fruit, vegetable, protein, grain, and fat intake.
  2. We exercise as regularly as possible.  We really enjoy going on family walks or hikes together to not just exercise but strengthen our relationships with each other.
  3. We take all-natural and whole food vitamin, nutrient, and omega 3 supplements that were made based on scientific research for what our bodies need.  These supplements are bio-available which means they are already broken down so that the body doesn't have to waste time and energy breaking them down, and the body can use it in its entirety.  These supplements have given us increased energy and stamina, helped us stay healthy and fight germs, and increased our ability to focus and function because our bodies are getting the nutrients needed to function optimally.  For more information, click here and here.
  4. We take a pro-biotic that was ingeniously made to give us the maximum probiotic amount with a pre-biotic formula present to keep the probiotics from dying off.  In addition, they are a capsule within a capsule so that they get to the small intestine where they are needed the most.  Having a healthy gut is so important for disease prevention.  For more information, click here.
  5. We use Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential oils to support our health and bodies.  Extracted from plants grown in their natural environment and protected from pesticides and contaminants, we use the immune system of the plant to help our bodies be well.  Nature produces it, we use it, and our bodies are able to function and heal themselves.  Because it’s completely natural, we don’t have to worry about harmful side effects.
  6. We keep up with our routine wellness visits with our doctors to make sure we are staying on top of our health and addressing issues that may come up as soon as possible.  If a problem arises, and we can’t address it naturally, we will go to the doctor for recommendations but do thorough research before making a final decision regarding the doctor’s recommendations.  If the benefits outweigh the costs, and all alternatives have been considered, we then will take a recommended drug.

This is something that everyone can do for themselves and their families.  It’s time for YOU to make a wellness revolution.  Be empowered and take control of your health.  Start with yourself and your family then join me in educating others to improve health around the world!

If you would like my assistance in starting your wellness revolution or if you would like to get the all-natural supplements and probiotics or essential oils, contact me at or 610-286-6777.  When contacting me, use the phrase "Wellness Revolution" to get a free wellness consult.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Finding Grace Through Autism

Another year has come and gone, and here again, I am sitting to write a post in honor of World Autism Awareness Day (April 2) and Autism Awareness Month (April) as we Light It Up Blue for Autism.

Joshua is now 10 years old.  In some ways it's hard to believe that he's been alive for a decade, but in some ways, it feels like it's been forever.  This year has been an incredible year in some ways and a difficult one in others.  Through the good and the bad, I have found God's grace carrying us through.

It's officially been a year since we began using essential oils to help Josh with his Autism, Bi-polar, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and ADHD.  The oils have made an incredible difference in his ability to function, focus, and remain stable.  It's been an exciting year of weaning down on his mood stabilizer medication helping to improve his health and weight.  Because of the supportive effects of the oils, we have seen several aspects to Josh and his personality that we didn't realize existed!  We are thrilled to see and know our son for who he really is not what his Autism makes him appear to be.  It's been astounding and thrilling.  God's grace in leading us to choose to use essential oils has transformed all of our lives this year!

This year has been a tough year with Josh's wraparound services which provide him with a Behavior Specialist, Mobile Therapist, and Therapeutic Support Staff therapist (TSS).  We are currently on our 5th provider in 1 year!  We've had nothing but difficulties with consistent staff, proper support at home and school, and proper recommendations.  We just switched last month to the 5th agency and are still without a TSS which is the most critical therapist of the group.  As a result of all of the issues, Josh has been thrown off balance so many times.  His symptoms are all aggravated by the unrest and unknown and frustrating circumstances of providers not doing what needs to be done.  I have been at my wits end trying to negotiate things with the providers and the insurance company.  For once, the insurance company isn't the problem.  They have thankfully been wonderful through this whole ordeal.  Dealing with these issues since November has felt like another full-time job for me.  It's only God's grace that keeps me going during the difficult times when I just want to cry and give up fighting!

After 6 years of therapy to try to get Josh to recognize his feelings and emotions, use his words to describe his feelings and emotions, and then match appropriate coping skills to help him with those feelings and emotions, this year, Josh has finally begun expressing in words how he is feeling and telling us what he or we need to do to help him work through those feelings and emotions.  It's been so wonderful to be able to intervene before a melt-down occurs.  As a result, our home and lives have been a lot more peaceful.  Often, Josh will turn to essential oils to help him calm down.  I was certified in a specialized massage based on science that uses essential oils to bring the body into a homeostatic state, and Josh likes to have me do this massage on him when things get really overwhelming.  We are thankful for God's grace in bringing us to the point where Josh is independently identifying his feelings and asking for or using a proper coping skill.  It definitely makes parenting him so much easier.

Now that Josh is older and more aware of himself and people around him, he is really struggling to accept his Autism and other diagnoses.  We have had to deal with a lot of tears and tough questions: Why did I have to be born with Autism?  Why does life have to be so hard?  Why do I struggle with an angry mood?  Why do I always feel so fearful?  Why did I have to be born?  Why did God make me this way?  How come I keep praying that God will help me get over my anger but He never seems to make me better?  Why is everything such a struggle?  Often we feel so inadequate to have the answers to these hard questions.  We call for God's grace and wisdom to help us get through to our son's grieving heart.  We try to help him understand that God has an amazing plan for His life and that God made him perfectly - there are no mistakes in how God designed him.  We don't understand why some people's struggles are harder than others, but we can be confident that God will give the grace to keep on keeping on.  We call on God's grace to protect our son's faith as it often wavers during these doubting, questioning times.

Parenting Josh has made us stronger, more compassionate parents.  We are more understanding of others around us with varying disabilities.  I can be more sympathetic to my patients and their families because I get what it's like to deal with a child with special needs.  Dealing with a special needs sibling has made David a stronger person.  He is more compassionate, understanding, and patient with other children as a result.  God's grace molding our lives through His design for our family is evident.

Dealing with the times of crisis is extremely difficult.  Thankfully, we haven't had as many as we usually do because Josh is doing so well with the essential oils.  However, because we've had several months of calm and stability, when a crisis does happen, it makes it that much harder to cope with because we finally had a taste of peace.  David has been in therapy for a year now to deal with his trauma and anxiety symptoms related to growing up with a brother with Autism and other challenges.  It's been a tough year for him as he has a hard time talking about his feelings and dealing with the uncertainty and scariness of Josh's crises events.  David is learning to lean on God's grace to carry him through these difficult times just as we have to cling to God's grace to keep taking each day as it comes when we are so emotionally and physically spent.

I am so thankful that God's grace remains a constant when our lives never are.  God's grace sustains us through the good times and the bad.  Often, I find myself singing my favorite hymn "Day by Day" just to remind myself of God's goodness, grace, and strength to get me through each day.  "Day by day, and with each passing moment, Strength I find to meet my trials here; Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment, I've no cause for worry or for fear."

Day by Day by Karolina Sandell Berg
Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
Every day the Lord Himself is near me,With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.
Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till with Christ the Lord I stand.
To hear a musical rendition of this hymn, go to this youtube site.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

When the Shoe Drops

We have been enjoying increased mood stability ever since we started using essential oils for Josh back in March 2014.  Things have been going incredibly well, considering his diagnoses.  In December, we started him on all-natural supplements made with essential oils and saw an even increased improvement and a transformation in him that we never thought was possible not to mention a new side of him that we didn't know even existed.  We've been on an emotional high since December glorying in the calmer, less stressful, and peaceful days.

However, part of me has been continually looking around me waiting for the shoe to drop.  Knowing Bi-polar is not a disease that can be cured (not to mention neither are Autism or Generalized Anxiety disorders), I always knew it couldn't stay this good forever.

Well, the shoe has finally dropped, and it dropped harder than any of us could have imagined, and we are finding ourselves feeling as if we are drowning and struggling to come up for air.  On top of dealing with our son who is struggling with a severe case of rapid cycling in his bi-polar, I have been fighting other battles related to his services and supplies.  I am back to spending my days on the phone with doctors, supply companies, therapy service providers, case mangers, and insurance companies.  I am not getting the things done around the house and with my business because of the unexpected problems that come up on a daily basis.

The carpet has been ripped out from under our feet.  Our minds are spinning.  We are at a loss for how to handle our current situations.  We have lost our biggest support person due to a move.  We are back to that not-knowing-what-a-day-will-hold feeling that we had hoped was an ugly memory of the past.  Having known how awesome it feels to have things going so smoothly and better than ever before makes this set back sting harder leaving a greater bitter taste in our mouths.

It's hard to keep up the faith and not doubt God's goodness.  It's hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep our chin up.  It's hard to even pray when our hearts are anguished with sorrow.

Yet God remains our Rock.  His presence remains.  Each day, He gives us reminders of His love and promises and the strength to keep on keeping on.

Two days ago, I was reminded by Joni Earckson Tada in her Pearls of Great Price devotional, "In the midst of your own darkness, there is treasure and riches that could never be discovered in the light of ease and peace.  Needing God desperately will always make you wealthy" as she discussed the truth of Daniel 2:22: "He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him."  I feel in utter darkness, and having been there before, I know the truth of the treasure in the darkness is there, but at this point, I am still trying to find that treasure.

Yesterday, I was reminded about Psalm 23 and the truths that the LORD is my shepherd, that I don't need to be in want, that He makes me to lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters, and that He restores my soul.  I know He does these things, but it sure would be nice to feel them at this moment.

Today, I was reminded about Proverbs 3:5-6 and that I need to trust the LORD, not lean on my own understanding.  I need to acknowledge Him, and He will make my paths straight.  I feel as if I can hardly see the path just in front of my feet, but I know that I can trust God to guide my steps.  The reminder that God will make my path straight is encouraging because even if I can't see the path in front of me, I can still confidently take the next step because God won't let my feet slip.  If I keep my eyes on Him, I won't stumble.

Dear Lord, please continue to guide my footsteps.  Help me to keep my eyes on you.  Keep me from stumbling. Help my unbelief!  Thank you for the daily comforts and reminders from your Word.  Thank you for your grace and strength for today.  Help me to be a wise steward of it! Amen. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014 Year in Review - A Year of Answered Prayers

 "Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!" - Psalm 115:1 ESV

 "I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.  Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live."  - Psalm 116:1-2 ESV

Our hearts are full with awe at God's goodness to our family over this past year.  We have seen long-prayed for requests answered in wonderful ways.  Thank you to so many of you who have prayed faithfully for us.

David, now 8 years old and in the 3rd grade, is a sensitive, caring, young man who is becoming quite the violinist.  He has been playing the violin for 3 years and got to play his violin in a wedding this Fall.  David is also becoming quite the artist.  He was able to attend an art camp this summer and Saturday art classes this Fall. He is looking forward to continuing art classes this Spring.  As most of you know, David has Primary Immune Deficiency Disorder and has had a rough life of infections, antibiotics for his first 6.5 years, and weekly antibody transfusions the last 3 years.  This summer, his immune specialist trialed stopping the transfusions to see if David's body could produce enough antibodies on its own to sustain health.  David did extremely well and ended up with only one bacterial infection this Fall which was an infection many people were catching, and he fought it well with the help of essential oils and an antibiotic.  After reviewing David's blood test results this Fall, the immune specialist decided that David can remain off of the transfusions and be closely monitored because his body is producing some antibodies on its own, and while far from being within normal limits, it is sufficient enough for his doctor to continue to keep him off of the transfusions.  We are absolutely thrilled about this, and David is enjoying his freedom on the weekends without having to spend 1.5 hours getting his transfusions.  David has had 2 viral infections this Fall, and with the help of essential oils, he never developed a secondary bacterial infection like he usually does. In addition, David has been able to successfully wean off 1 of his 3 stomach medicines and is able to control his stomach pains with an essential oil blend instead.  We hope to wean him off of another by the Spring.

Joshua, now 10 years old and in the 5th grade, is growing tall and is a hard worker.  He is now on his third instrument - the piano - and is enjoying taking piano lessons as well as voice lessons.  He loves to sing in chorus at school also.  He is loving being in the second year at his new school and is thriving in such a supportive environment.  We have seen him make huge strides this year in dealing with his Autism, Bi-polar, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and ADHD.  We started using essential oils this past Spring in an attempt to get his bi-polar under control.  It worked wonders, and as a result, we have spent most of the year weaning him down on his mood stabilizer drug which has been causing terrible side effects. There is a chance that by this coming Spring, he will be completely off of the drug.  We are praising God for these oils and allowing us to find something natural and so effective in helping him to maintain stability and function better.  This is a HUGE answer to prayer.  Josh is growing socially and learning to understand his emotions, using his words to describe his feelings and starting to ask for  help with using coping skills. We are very proud of the huge progress he has made this year.  Josh loves animals and nature.  We are hoping to find an animal shelter where he can work with cats (his favorite animal) this summer.

I continue to work part time as a special needs pediatric nurse for Bayada Pediatrics.  I received an award in Bayada's Hero program this summer.  My migraines and headaches have become a thing of the past since using an essential oil blend in the Spring.  By using the oil blend, I have stopped 3 migraines before they fully began and have been able to instantly relieve the occasional headache.  I have never felt better and am enjoying so much more energy and increased health since using essential oils daily.  Because essential oils have so greatly impacted our family, I have begun teaching classes about using essential oils for various purposes to enhance health and have started my own business selling essential oils and making and selling various, all-natural, health and beauty products with essential oils.  For more information about the business, visit  Naturally Essential Health & Beauty facebook page or the Essential oils page on this blog.

Tim continues to excel as a Financial Adviser for The Life Financial Group.  He is growing into a leadership role at his office and enjoys working with his colleagues and clients.  He has continued to thrive in his professional coaching program that he has been a part of the past 2 years that requires multiple trips to CA.  Tim's business and influence has grown substantially as a result of this coaching program.  We are enjoying having him home more as a result.  He is excited about the continued growth God has in store for him in 2015.  I must say that it's also been nice to see his allergies under better control than they ever have been thanks to an essential oil blend he is using.

God truly has been so good to us!  We are definitely excited to be using His creation to enhance and support our health and wellness and look forward to another year of good health.  We are currently praying about taking the boys with us on our next mission's trip.  We are hoping to take one this year, if God opens the door and works out the details.  We were disappointed that the two trips we were thinking we would do this year didn't work out.  We know that God is in control, and He works all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

It is our prayer that each of you know and see God's goodness and faithfulness to you in a big way this coming year!

"Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!
Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!"
Psalm 150:1-2 ESV