The life-rule that makes all the difference

We can all think of a person/or people in our life who are just plain difficult. They might include a neighbor or a co-worker or an acquaintance or even a family member.

They may be self-absorbed or thoughtless or just flat-out mean. They’re real stinkers and more often than not they don’t even know it. (My experience has been that these people often think quite highly of themselves—ironically considering themselves the most wonderful person around! It’s so odd.)

And, frankly, our natural inclination is to run and hide or become confrontational when dealing with them. Or, at the least, secretly hope they pay for their selfish misdeeds with a life that falls apart or gossip about them with our friends.

But what if there was another way of dealing with these kinds of people? One that would free us and potentially repair the broken relationship? One that would stop poison from being injected into our OWN hearts and the hearts of others.

What if, instead of allowing the actions of these people push all of our buttons and drain us emotionally, we responded in a healthier way— with LOVE?

What if we decided to treat other people the way we want to be treated—regardless? Stinkers included.

Regardless of how they treat us.
Regardless of how they respond to us.
Regardless, regardless, regardless.

It is called the Golden Rule by some and has been around for centuries (check out Matthew 7:12).

It is one of the most important rules I was taught as a child by my parents who have modeled it beautifully for me through the years. And while I don’t practice it perfectly, the times I do it has literally transformed my heart and life.

There really is nothing quite so freeing as truly believing, embracing, and practicing the Golden Rule. Where we release those expectations of others and focus solely on your own actions— choosing love by treating others the want we want to be treated.

And regardless of how others receive or respond to that love, in the end, you win. Because embracing this rule really does set YOUR heart free!!

With love for you all (stinkers included ;),
Lauren

Children—a gift

Standing in line at Home Depot last week, I heard something that caught my attention.

There was a group in front of me with two moms and a couple of kids. One of the moms was handing the clerk paint, wood, and tools for some project. The other mom was managing the chaos that comes with precious littles. They were doing a fine job. Especially considering there was at least one baby and a 2-year-old in the group!

As they finished up and headed out the door, the clerk, who was probably also in his 30’s, turned to me and said with disgust, “THAT is exactly why I don’t have kids.” He motioned to the families as they walked out the door and continued to talk about his dislike for children as he rang up my items. (I happened to not have my children with me, so I can only assume he thought I would sympathize with him.)

I was so taken back by the words that poured out of his mouth (especially as I glanced down and noticed he was wearing a wedding band) and his disdainful attitude towards children, I didn’t know what to say. I just kind of stared confused and dumbly at him.

I left the store feeling sorry for this guy. He didn’t have a clue about what he was missing!

Although parenting requires sacrifice and hard work at times (ok, a lot of the time), the blessings you gain in return are innumerable . Being mom to my two precious daughters is one of the most amazing privileges I have experienced in this life. With it comes an abundance of love and joy and just plain fun that I would have missed out on otherwise.

Sure, without kids, perhaps I would have more vacation photo albums and stamps in my passport. Brance and I would likely have gotten more sleep and our house would have stayed cleaner and our laundry baskets less full. But none of that holds a drop in the bucket to what we have gained as parents. For the overwhelming love and gratitude we feel for these two little souls we’ve been blessed to raise.

After Homeschool today, for some reason the girls and I started looking through family pictures and videos from when they were smaller. Tears sprang to my eyes as I watched them totting, and dancing, and talking to their mama behind the camera. Oh man. THIS is important—these years with my children—THIS is what beautiful memories are made of. Not the nice restaurants or new clothes. Not trips or new vehicles, or even a clean house and peace and quiet.

Seeing those pictures and videos reminded me that when I think back to all the meaningful things I have experienced in this life, the things that fill my heart to overflowing, my children (and people I love) are what come to mind.

Regardless of what others or culture may tell us, children truly are a gift from God.

P.S. As I wrote this, my heart went out to those who for whatever reason have not been able to have children despite their desire. Please don’t feel I am saying here that you can’t have a meaningful life. I also believe there are ways for you to still experience the gift of children—whether it’s nieces and nephews or at church etc.

Cure Ulcerative Colitis

Cure Ulcerative Colitis
While technically you can not Cure Ulcerative Colitis, it IS possible to experience remission and to live symptom-free with little to no medication—for many of us. (When I say cure, this is what I am referring to! We’ll call it cure with a little “c”.)

I can say how wonderful it feels to no longer struggle with UC!  Getting here has been a big, big blessing for me and my little family of four.

I know what it is like to be in the bathroom over a dozen times a day, completely embarrassed to leave home. I know what it is like to suffer from autoimmune related fevers and aches and swelling and joint pain. AND I know what it is like to feel like my normal, healthy self again NOT constantly having to scope out the nearest bathroom. Oh man, there is nothing like it!

For me, it had everything to do with food, despite my gastroenterologist’s claim at diagnosis to the contrary. Thankfully I was skeptical and began experimenting with my diet almost immediately. What did I have to lose?

Desperate to feel better, I have tried all kinds of diets from gluten- free to paleo to the specific carbohydrate diet, with varying results. But NONE of them has worked nearly as well as what I have settled on. Which is SO simple by comparison and super effective. My doctor is very pleased at how well I am doing (I am currently on little medication and in remission to boot!).

Not only did those other diets NOT stop all of my symptoms, they made me feel all kinds of awful in the process… low blood sugar, exhausted, foggy-headed and dizzy, etc. Plus I am thankful to have discovered something that works and allows me to live a relatively normal life. Some of the diets I tried were so extreme I had to carry my food with me everywhere in a cooler—I could never eat out or pick up something quickly at the store or even have dinner at a friend’s house. It was very complicated and NO fun!

In case these may help you too, here are the 5 simple things that I have done with my diet that have helped me cure Ulcetative Colitis (with a little “c”)…

Continue reading

Sweet Marriage

I’m a total romantic but it is my husband who loves poetry.

It was one of the things I was surprised to learn after we married. There are so many things you discover about the other person in marriage and not all of them pleasant (well, at least where I am concerned). But this was one of those sweet little surprises.

Right now Brance is combing through a used bookstore with the girls while I wait in the glorious outdoors. I never last as long as he does in a bookstore. He’s certain to have found his way to the poetry section by now. After browsing for an old copy of Pilgrim’s Progress first, of course.

For me, this is one of the beautiful things about marriage, about growing old together—learning all the facets of another human being. Discovering that your martial arts and Star Wars watching fellow finds joy in crafty meter and beautiful rhyme and soaring language.

Don’t get me wrong. Marriage is work. It’s flat out hard sometimes. But most everything good in this life involves work or sacrifice of some sort. And being on this journey together and growing together through the shared experiences of marriage—for years—well, there really is nothing like it.

Yeah, so I just wanted to say that marriage is a sweet, sweet gift full of surprises. That’s it, you guys. Have a wonderful weekend!

You before me

I called my mom, a little over a month after Haddie was born.

In a sleep-deprived and perhaps tearfully hormonal voice, I told her how thankful I was for ALL that she had done for me. For all the beautiful sacrifices she had made over the years, that frankly, I had no clue about before becoming a mom myself. And for all the ones that I had yet to experience.

She laughed humbly and graciously accepted my gratitude. I have a wonderful mom!

Ah… the life of a mom. Words can not fully describe how it changes a woman and brings to light both the oh-so-wonderful and the not-so-good bound up in one person. There really is nothing like it.

And in my humble opinion, few connections in this life have the capacity to display love better than that of mother to child. The real kind of nitty-gritty LOVE that puts another person first– the “you before me” kind that seems so rare these days.

It’s a love that sacrifices on a daily basis. That sets aside its own desires to read another book aloud or change a dirty bed or clean up a spill. Love that even delays its own needs for another– I am talking showers, and meals, and sleep (for years folks!) and so much more. That willingly takes on every hurt and sadness and joy and success of the child.

It reminds me of the biblical love Christians are told to have for one another in 1 Corinthians 13. One that is patient and kind and self-controlled. One that is never rude or irritable or resentful. It’s a “you before me” kind of love.

In other scriptures we are told love shows concern and care for even one’s enemies! And of course Christ was the greatest example of this when he laid down his very LIFE—for those of us like me who counted Him as their enemy.

What an honor that as a mother we get to reflect this beautiful, sacrificial kind of love. Love that looks to the needs of others before ourself. And leads us to teach our children to do the same and hopefully make a difference in this world.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there, both physical and spiritual! Your job is SO very important.

With love for you all,

Lauren

P.S. You may be interested in this post on love. Or this Mother’s Day post.

8 important nutrients for fighting depression

Did you know that there is a BIG connection between mental health and nutrition? That nutrients and depression are often intertwined?

And that if you are someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, there is a good chance that your symptoms would improve if you addressed nutritional deficiencies. Maybe even drastically so as it has for me!!

The crazy thing is that you may feel like you are eating well. Really well. Or maybe you’re not. Either way, it’s easy to accidentally miss a piece or more of the nutritional puzzle and suffer when it comes to your mental and emotional well-being.

I used to constantly struggle with depression, anxiety, brain fog, exhaustion etc. It was miserable. One of the reasons I started this little blog was to share the amazing transformation I have experienced as I have made changes to my diet and lifestyle. I feel soooo much better, I just had to sing it from the “blogosphere” in case it could help another soul.

Here is a list of 8 important nutrients that research has shown can affect the mental health of those deficient.

Continue reading

From obsession to a sustainable life

I just read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for a book club I am part of.

At the close of this thrilling tale, Victor, the creator of the “monster”, warns a sea-captain who is on a risky expedition to the North Pole to “avoid ambition”.  You see, Victor’s misled obsession in the story came at a terrible price— moral failure, fear, exile (as he pursues the monster), the death of those most dear to him, and ultimately his own premature death.

While Frankenstein is a piece of fiction, I believe the author hits upon a universal truth. The truth that obsession comes at a terrible price. While it probably will not kill us and those we love, thank goodness, obsessive ambition (any obsession, really) leaves us unbalanced and has the potential to wreck our lives.

Brance and I were chatting yesterday about Netflix’s CEO’s recent comment that their main competition is not Hulu or Amazon Prime or any other streaming service, but rather SLEEP (this is my paraphrase).  I kid you not. In other words, they are building their business on the back of obsessive behavior that causes us to opt to bing-watch rather than sleep.

And I think we all have fallen prey to their ploy to get us to skip sleep to watch the NEXT episode!  Oh man, it’s a chore to get one of these streaming services to STOP playing and NOT load the next one. While binging on too much tv really might pose a problem for some people, for most of us it is a funny example of where an obsessive, weak moment can lead us ocassionally— a  bing-watching hangover.

In all seriousness, I really do think Netflix’s CEO, like Shelley, has tapped into something big here. And that is our tendency to Continue reading

Loving and surviving motherhood

Ah, motherhood!

Motherhood is simultaneously the most wonderful and difficult adventure I have embarked on in life. There are moments where you are filled with ecstatic joy and fulfillment and others where you crash on your bed at night in utter exhaustion and dismay.

Motherhood is something I am grateful for–for the amazing opportunity I have to watch my precious children grow and learn and for all that it is teaching and doing in ME. It is something I hope to become better at over time.

I have found that motherhood demands a lot. And to be the best mom I can be, focusing on certain things really helps give me an edge. Or, perhaps, keeps me from falling over the edge!

I thought I would share a couple of the things that help me keep my sanity as a mother. That help me be the best mom I can be and enjoy this crazy adventure of motherhood. Continue reading

hooray for goals! and some of mine.

Do you set goals for yourself?

Research suggests that working towards goals can boost happiness and wellbeing. And we don’t have to wait for a new year to roll around to make a new goal and reap the benefits!

Even a goal as “small” as a vacation can provide a huge boost. So much so, that the planning and anticipation are known to increase happiness even more than the actual vacation itself. And don’t think that the vacation has to be exotic or require a lot of money (although, at times it may). A camping trip or weekend away can have the same effect, as long as you are planning and looking forward to it.

Brance and I were talking about this “phenomenon” over dinner tonight and he said something insightful. He thinks that it boils down to Continue reading