(Photo cred: Kirk Slusher. Love it, Kirk!)
This is a picture of my dad, David Harris, from a few weeks ago.
He took a couple of guys from his church (father and son, Kirk and Cody Slusher) to climb at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia. Dad texted me this picture that Kirk took and it warmed my heart.
When I was a teenager, my dad and his friend, Joel Harbarger, led a week-long trip to W.V. each summer to go rock climbing, rappelling, and white water rafting (the 3 R's trip). It was a trip for teenagers and young adults. I was forced to go as a (crabby, anxiety-ridden) 15 year old and somewhere in the midst of adventure and crushing on a kid I met on the trip, what I really fell in love with was those rocks and how they taught me to persevere.
I'm gonna say more on that, but can I get to the obvious point that when my dad took me to Seneca Rocks previously that he and I were MUCH, MUCH younger? He's been there since, but I probably haven't been there in at least 16 years. And I KNOW that I would not rock those rocks even remotely as well as my dad is rocking them in that picture. I'm really impressed with my Dad for being so healthy and strong, but also for how he continues to hang on to adventure year after year. I didn't ask, but I don't think he'd mind me saying that he's 65 years old. Talk about perseverance!
So, speaking of perseverance...
I've faced some challenges through my life- all of us have. Some of mine have been pretty major, but some have been mountains made out of molehills. When I was a freshman in college at Ohio Northern, I was having a really rough time with [insert college girl drama because I don't remember] and I went to my dad to help get me through it. He told me to "Hang on and keep climbing."
When you are rock climbing, it's very likely you'll get to a spot that seems like the end, even though you aren't at the top. There you are, clinging to the face of the rock. All you can see is what's in front of you. Your foot and hand holds start to feel smaller and smaller. Your hands start to sweat and you get "sewing machine leg" (you know how the needle goes up and down on the sewing machine really fast? it's like that). You start to doubt everything about yourself. "Why did I think I could do this? I'm not strong enough, brave enough, or skilled enough. I should give up."
The great thing about rock climbing is the belay line. There's an encouraging and patient person at the bottom of the rock, holding your ropes and keeping you from from falling to the ground if you happen to fall off the rock.
That person can also see things that you can't. "Hey, Rach, right to the left of your left knee there's a foot hold. You can't see it, but it's there. Trust me."
It's the story of every climbing trip. There's at least one person who thinks they can't make it, but they hang on and they push and they get there. And, when they reach the top, there's an overwhelming sense of relief, gratitude, and strength....and the view is beautiful.
This is life.
When my dad told me to hang on and keep climbing, I wrote those words on a little piece of paper and taped them to a picture of my dad and me at Seneca Rocks. I kept that picture in my room all through college. I can't find it now, but I do have a copy of it.
Here you go...
As you can see, since I'm still kickin at 36, I made it through the drama I faced that day in college. And, I've made it through all of the other dramas, too. So have you.
And, if you're in the midst of a challenge right now, hang on. Who is holding your belay line who can help you see something that you can't see on your own? Take a deep breath, try to calm your nerves, and hang on. When you're ready, make your next move. For me, God is my steadfast rock. Just like when I'm climbing, God is rock solid, doesn't move, will hold me.
This world is a crazy and unpredictable place. It seems like every day, and sometimes every hour, we are shocked by the headlines. Our concerns grow deeper, our hearts grow heavier...but we need to grow stronger.
When you start to hear those voices saying "Why did I think I could do this...I'm not strong enough, brave enough, or skilled enough...I should give up," tell them to get out of town! You and I both are created in God's image to do amazing works on this earth.
For me, I'm going to love my family and try to raise my kids right. I won't let go of God and I'm going to hang on and keep climbing.
"So then let's also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let's throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith's pioneer and perfecter." (Hebrews 12:1-2a)
"Mom, were you bullied when you were a kid?"
I was asked that question last night and I wasn't prepared for it. I always want to be able to relate to my kids, but all of a sudden I was faced with a moment when I didn't think I could.
Bullying is a huge problem for all ages, but it can really hurt when you're a kid trying to find your place.
*This isn't a post requesting sympathy or even well-wishes for my kid. We are handling the situation and getting help to resolve it. This post is to bring this type of bullying to light.*
Bullying hasn't been an ongoing issue for my kids. It's fairly recent and (so far) it's not at school or at social events, it's on the iPad.
So, in response to the above question, I thought for a second and responded something like, "You know, I don't think I really was bullied as a kid. But, if we had the devices that kids today have, I probably would have been." We went on to talk about it more, of course, and we continue talking about it.
The type of bullying that is happening is through a texting app that we set up so the kids could text their friends when they have WiFi and also through the app "musical.ly." We all have experience with seeing adults bully each other online. It happens all the time! Hiding behind a screen makes it incredibly easy for people to say/type things that they would never say to someone's face. However, the words still sting and, unfortunately, remain on the screen for us to read over and over- unless we delete them.
PARENTS/CAREGIVERS, I encourage you to check your child's devices regularly without warning that you will be doing so. Yes, this does invade privacy. But, in my opinion, it's better to be safe than sorry. My kids are welcome to express themselves privately in a journal and I won't touch it. But, if my kid is having conversations that are hurtful to themselves or others, I need to know about it. I would like to think that my own kids are innocent and wouldn't say/type hurtful things, but that's been proven wrong.
When someone says hurtful things to another person, online/text/face to face, it's easy for the recipient to begin believing that the things that were said are true, even if it was completely untrue. I'm trying to keep this in mind while we deal with this bullying situation-that just because it isn't currently happening anymore (thank you, app developers, for the option to block people) it doesn't mean that the words aren't still swirling in your mind feeling more and more true each moment.
Parenting is hard!
I'm about to make this long post even longer, but I really want to tell you about our topic last night at Crossroads (the youth group I lead at our church). We just started a 4 week series about school and last night's focus was on belonging. We talked about how everyone wants to belong and that we put a lot of time and energy into trying to belong- even those people who seem to "wake up like this" or whatever....they put effort into it, too. We looked at how during Jesus's ministry on earth, he accepted and loved absolutely everyone, even people with terrible pasts and people with terrible intentions. Jesus was an example to us that our goal should be to love and accept people. If we took the time and energy we put into trying to make ourselves belong and, instead, made efforts to look around us and help other people belong and feel loved and accepted, how amazing would our schools (workplaces, etc) be?
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 says "Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things."
I'd like to point out that little bit near the beginning "it doesn't seek its own advantage."
That's what I'm talking about...instead of seeking our own advantage, how can we show others this kind of authentic love and acceptance? I think it's contagious and if we each tried, the world would be a better place.
Last night's lesson was from the Groove series of youth Bible studies. www.youthministrypartners.com/studies/groove
Please let me know how you are showing love and acceptance to others!
Did you know that chicken nuggets are vegetables touched by God?
When she finished her breakfast, Lilly sneezed and screamed, "Mom! I sneezed with my eyes open!"
Everyday miracles, here at the Burns house.
Hey, friends! I've been inspired to write again and one of those inspirations was my daughter. She wrote a really cute story a couple of nights ago and asked to read it to me as I was chatting with a friend about blogging. Coincidence? God-incident?
It seems like this is a great place to share her cute story. If you know me, you'll catch how similar we are through her writing. I think we both need to pick something up. Lilly, the paper (& more). Me, I think it's writing. I need this creative outlet. Oh, and I could also maybe pick up the pile of clothes on my floor. Maybe.
What do you need to pick up? A cup of coffee with a friend? A good book? A hobby?
So, here it is, a story from Lilly, who is 10 years old and couldn't sleep...
Sometimes I'm up at night (like now), writing stories (like this one), but then I have to throw something away. But, since I'm in a loft bed, I crumble it up into a mini ball and throw it.
Now, everytime I walk in I see it and think, "Should I pick that up?...Nah." Then, usually I'll just leave it there until my mom or dad tells me "No IPad until your room is clean."
The last thing I pick up is the little paper balls all over my floor.
I couldn't believe it when Chris and I agreed to move to Columbus. He found a great house for us with lots of trees and lots of space. The kids and I went down to check it out and loved it. We sat around the kitchen and I grabbed some butter cream frosting and ate a spoonful while we all talked and laughed. Oh no. I stopped in my tracks, replaced the lid on the frosting, and hung my head in shame.
"I'm on the Whole30!" I exclaimed. "Why did I do that?!"
I had completely forgotten. It slipped my mind. I screwed it up.
When I woke up from that dream, I was so relieved. I had NOT screwed it up!
I told Chris and we laughed. I haven't been craving sugar during the day, at all. When I had that dream I'd been sugar free for over a week....but my mind had not forgotten.
The next night, I had a similar dream but it was slightly more screwy.
I was going to town on some more butter cream frosting and throwing sugar covered starburst in mouth like a crazy kid on Halloween. Yes, sugar covered starburst. I don't think they exist, but I must say, they were DELICIOUS!
So, in this dream I, once again, suddenly realized what I was doing and shamefully put the sweets away. I was so bummed out as I tried to decide if I should just give up on the Whole30 or pick up where I had left off, then I woke up. Oh boy was I relieved....again. Then, I woke up....again!
What was that!? A dream about a dream about a major sugar screw up? My dreams are crazy!!
Of course, I felt the need to analyze my dreams. I explained to Chris that the pastor in Mexico knew I was a "dreamer" when he laid his hands on my head in worship. I like to connect that experience to a lot of my dreams. It's one of my special powers! ;-)
So, I decided that I doubt my own self-control and that I fear being unsuccessful. (& moving is connected to that, I'm sure.)
Here's the good news....I have NOT screwed up. Sugar is not tempting me and I am in control of myself and I am going to be successful in the completion of the Whole30. If I can do it, ANYONE can. Seriously.
In closing, on this day 15, I leave you with these words from Bon Jovi......
"Oh, we're halfway there!! OhhhOH living on a prayer!! Take my hand, we'll make it I swear...Oooh - living on a prayer!" Oh, I love that song.
Energized Lively Healthy Spirited
These words describe how I feel this morning, on day 13 of the Whole30 thirty day food plan. I expected to feel better, but I didn't know I would feel this much better. It's like a breath of fresh air for my whole body.
As planned, Chris and I read It Starts With Food while we were on vacation. The more I read, the more I wanted and craved whole foods. I also started looking at my favorite junk in a new way. I still ate what I wanted, tho, until day one, 2 Mondays ago.
The food plan hasn't been difficult for dinners because we just had to change a few things. We look forward to dinner because it's so delicious. Our favorite right now is baked chicken and vegetables. It is really good and the kids love it. It's actually a lot like the veggie bakes I used to do when I was a vegetarian. Now, we just throw some chicken on top!
The most challenging part of this process is learning to plan ahead for meals and taking the time to prepare them. Like I said, the food is amazing, so no complaints there, at all!
My worst moment was day 2 when my body was adjusting to the lack of sugar/grain/dairy. I learned that I probably also did not have enough fat in my foods that day. I had a horrible headache starting in the early afternoon and thought I was going to barf. When I got home, I had a banana with almond butter, 2 Tylenol, and a 30 minute nap. I felt fine when I woke up. The lesson: make sure you have enough healthy fat in your meals. That should help.
I'll be back with more updates and to tell you about my crazy dreams I'm having! Lololol!!
This post is about my curiosity around the Whole30 program and inviting others along on my adventure. If you're interested at all in the Whole30 program, making food changes, whatever...I will be posting my progress here.
I learned about and got curious about this program while observing some close friends do it. I thought it was crazy (so much dedication....so little sugar) but I'm seeing amazing results in their lives and I want to check it out. Chris, too.
This "whole" thing comes from the book It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig. They have a website where it's all laid out. You can find it at www.whole30.com.
I've learned some things from my friends. So far, here's what I've got:
It doesn't sound like much fun...except the eating as much as you want part. I really like that part.
This really sparked my interest. This weekend, my aunt and a friend were talking about sugar. I guess that it can affect your memory. My aunt thought it was age but found it was related to sugar. The way she described the memory loss was identical to what I experience. Not being able to come up with the word you want to use....not remembering names of people and places. It's been a problem for me for a couple of years so I assumed it was related to the anti-depressant that I take. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I guess I will find out. Aunt Lynda says that cutting out sugar has helped. I'm eager to see if it works for me.
So, this morning, for the first time in my coffee drinking life, I drank my coffee black. I thought about putting almond milk in it, but I'm not sure how old the carton of almond milk in the fridge is, so I thought screw it.
I survived and it wasn't that bad. Isn't that crazy? Well, I think it's crazy. I had 2 cups and have lots of energy for things like blogging and I have zero sugar/cream guilt.
I decided to keep going through breakfast so I chopped up red pepper, onion, and a little arugula and spinach and cooked it with scrambled eggs.
It was good. Really, it was. Then, guess what I was craving. Water. Yeah, it made me crave water so I'm drinking water as I type this. Miracles, I tell you!
I read the 1st chapter of It Starts With Food, texted my friend to see if my food this morning passed Whole30 inspection (it passed) and decided to blog this adventure.
2 reasons....to keep track of what I'm doing & to invite others.
So, here's the deal. I may do some blogging on it this week as I try some things out and start reading the book. BUT, Chris and I plan to have the book read by August 10 and we want to officially start the Whole30 program that week.
If you want to do it, too, let me know and we can support each other. I've found that community is one of the most important parts of my life and that life goes better when we live it together.
Let me know what you think.
Check it out- this works. Mom, I hope you read this!
Here are the simple steps:
1. Get Borax (from your laundry room or from the laundry aisle at the store)
2. Get Sugar (I used powdered because it was all I had)
3. Mix equal parts sugar and borax
4. Mix in water
5. Put it where ants are
6. Tell whoever shares your kitchen so they don't wash it off
7. Watch the ants enjoy their dinner
8. Wake up the next morning to no ants
9. Be amazed that they don't come back even when you leave dirty dishes out
Here is what's up with the pics above:
-Obviously, borax, sugar, and water mixed in a small dish
-Ants moving from Lillian and my jelly experiment over to the borax experiment
-Ants lining up and calling dibs
-My sink the next morning
Try it and let me know how it works for you and if you have any other fun experiments to share!
Note: I do not support killing innocent creatures without reason. Lillian was concerned about this. I explained that ants do not belong in our house. I don't really want to talk about it past that.
Note 2: There was no ant clean up. They must go home to die.
I gave up my super delicious breakfast smoothies and spent some time with bad habits that made me feel sad. Yesterday, I was at the grocery store and almost passed by the frozen fruit and then thought twice. So, yesterday I loaded up and today I blended up, and now I am sipping the smoothie you see in the image above while I blog to you about it. I know that it looks like a mud puddle, but it's really good, really easy, really healthy, really filling, and really natural. Really. I kept track of what went in so I could send it along to you. Please let me know if you try it and like it or if you have a yummy recipe that I should try or share here on my blog.
4 Frozen Strawberries
20 Frozen Blueberries
1/2 cup Frozen Cut Pineapple
1 cup Frozen Cut Spinach
1 cup pure Coconut Water
Dump everything in your blender (no, it does not need to be a smoothie maker or other fancy gadget). Blend until smooth. Poor it into a cup. Drink it. You will feel better and look better than you did when you had 2 bowls of sugar cereal like I did yesterday.
I had an appointment with Dr. White a couple of weeks later and Chris met me there. My mom stayed home with the kids. At the time I wasn't thinking much about what my mom and dad might have been thinking or feeling during that appointment, but looking back, I hope I am never in the same situation as they were that day...my child getting biopsy results.
Dr. White explained the biopsy results- that I did have skin cancer and it was melanoma. He gave me a plan...another procedure followed by another biopsy, to see if it had spread. If it had, I was going to need some type of dye which would travel to my lymph nodes so the doctor could see where to work next. Then, maybe chemo. He told me that my chances were great. He said that it was more likely that I would get in a car wreck and die on the way home from the appointment than that I would die from melanoma. That seems like a weird thing to say now that I think about it, but you would not believe how slowly and carefully I drove home from that appointment. I know that my survival from skin cancer was in no way related to how carefully I drove home, but it seemed like it did. What Dr. White meant was that my chances were really, really good. I get that now.
On that seemingly long 10 minute drive home (Chris and I drove separately), my brain went to some crazy places. Like, what it would look like for my kids to grow up without me? I just prayed over and over that God would let me raise my kids.
I completely broke down emotionally when I got home. Chris was really good about it. I told my mom "It's cancer." That's all I remember.
I'm an introvert. There are times when I like a lot of attention, but mostly I don't want people to look at me or make a big deal out of anything that has to do with me. I told my dad who was my pastor and boss that I didn't want to tell the youth or the church. I kept it a secret and only talked about it with my immediate family and very few friends. I was okay with my extended family knowing, but I didn't want to discuss it. I also didn't want to scare the youth who I worked with. I didn't want them to automatically assume something more tragic than what was actually going on. So, for those of you who are reading this and had no idea that I was going through this at that time, I'm sorry. I know now that you would have given me my space and been a huge prayer support. I just couldn't deal with sharing any more than I had to.
I had the 2nd procedure and waited.
That Christmas Eve was very memorable for one reason. We sang Silent Night and lit our candles and I was praying it wouldn't be the last time I experienced that service.
I started doing a very early morning devotion where I read from a book and then journaled and prayed. I woke up before anyone else in my house and just sat there. I found a deep peace and a much stronger faith because I gave it all over to God and accepted whatever might happen. I chose to be faithful in a desperate place.
In January, Chris and I had another appointment with Dr. White. The cancer had not spread. I would have checks every 6 months. That was it.
My parents were at my house when we got home and shared the news. My dad and I looked out the back window where there was a rainbow and he told me it was a promise from God. He was right. No, it doesn't mean that I will never have cancer again, but it does mean that God will not leave me in my darkest time and that I have no reason to fear.
Lilly was born on April 4, 2 weeks early and beautiful and healthy. I was healthy, too. Today, she is 7 years old, David is nearing his 9th birthday, and Chris and I have been married for 10 1/2 years.
A few months before the first visit with Dr. White, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I will blog more about that later. But, it relates to this story because I was haunted by melanoma for a very long time. I would wake up to panic attacks that it was back and would make appointments with Dr. White for re-checks. I couldn't listen to anyone talk about cancer and when I watched "The Bucket List" I went through intense anxiety. I am better about all of that now.
And I do my best to remember that God will never leave me and that I have no reason to fear.
You are God's creation and you are deeply loved. No matter what you are going through in your life, whether you are in a dark place, a joyful place, a confused place, or a place of doubt....God is there and will not leave. God loves you even if you scream at, shrug off, or ignore God's presence. God has not forgotten about you.
The next time you see a rainbow, breathe deeply and be thankful. I will be doing the same.