5 Ways to Survive Life Crisis: from my perspective

 Put Your Oxygen Mask on First  

I know it is said often, but it really holds true.  You cannot help anyone else if you are down and out.  It is critical to take care of yourself and the opposite of selfishness.  It has taken me a loooooong time to learn this.  During this last time of crisis I did a much better job.  I rested and only did what I was able to do and no more than that.   The laundry piled up, the toys became scattered, the floors got icky, the weeds got taller and multiplied by ten and the kids became needier for lack of attention.  Only the critical things made it on the “to do” list: read extra praise and snuggles for the kids.  The rest will wait.

Ask For Help

When I woke up unable to move except for a few inches, I knew I needed someone to take care of me.  My husband was not the person to ask.  He had six kids to feed and love on and a mile-long list of his own critical tasks.  Who is the next capable person?  Can I call a friend?  Well, my 11-year-old daughter is very attentive and loves getting texts.  So, I texted and asked her if she would like to be my nurse.  One minute later she was at my side and did an excellent job caring for me.  Also, talk with a trusted friend and let him/her know what you are going through.  For me, just sharing my struggle brought me great relief.  It somehow made it more manageable.  A friend’s empathy and encouragement can mean the world during a crisis.

I was able to make lists and do a little planning the next day, so I planned meals and helped make the grocery list.  Then, I asked my 18-year-old to do the shopping.  During the non-crisis times I had been teaching my kids to cook and this payed off big time in the times of  crisis.  The kids also began tackling the laundry a little at a time.  Mornings are my worst as far as functionality, so I asked for help in getting the kids to VBS.  Everyone will have unique circumstances, so think about the resources available to you, prioritize your needs in order of most critical and then ask someone for help.  It is much easier for people to help if they know you have a specific need.  And if you are the one being asked, the opposite is true: just offer to do whatever you are able.  When someone is in the midst of a crisis it is often difficult to make a decision of what you need.

Look for the Positive

Having a crisis is the very definition of things going wrong.  The key here is to recognize that EVERYTHING is not going wrong.  Something has to be right or you would not be here.  For me it was all the little things: my husband poking his head in to ask if I needed anything, the kids giving me snuggles, the flowers blooming amidst the weeds, the sun shining, my comfortable bed, my caring friends… Well, you get the idea.  Make a mental note of every little thing that brings you joy and thank God for it.  He is there in the suffering with you and is patiently waiting to pour out the grace and peace for just the asking.

Minimize the Negative

It is good and healthy to acknowledge all that is going wrong.  It sucks to be sick.  It feels crappy and you can’t do anything about it.  I have had 7 straight weeks of not feeling well beginning with a case of laryngitis and continuing through this last week of reacting to gluten.  It is easy to get discouraged.  And it seems to pile up.  Mom is down, Dad’s stress goes up, the kids’ stress goes up, the house starts to fall apart, the car breaks down, kids get sick, and the list can go on and on.  Name those crappy things and cry it out if you need to.  “God has big shoulders,” Fr. Jim used to tell us.  Pray and cry out to Him and name all those things that are burdensome.  Then ask God what you should do about it.  If you can take action without causing yourself more harm, then do it.  Otherwise, let it go.  The floors, the laundry, the weeds will all be there another day and it really won’t take long to get it back on track.  Don’t get bogged down by the negative. I know, easier said than done.  But, I can assure you that you will get better with practice.  God has been giving me lots of practice.

Give Others the Benefit of the Doubt

Feeling irritable when you are stressed is a normal response.  But, try not to alienate those closest to you.  In my personal experience, I would get upset when my husband seemingly avoided me, or was short with me when I was at my weakest.  I would take his absence as a form of abandonment.  In reality, he was doing double time taking care of work, house, kids, shopping and trying to deal with his own emotions and stress of seeing me so sick.  We can easily focus on our own pain and suffering and forget how strongly it affects others.  My kids are also affected.  It is frightening to see Mom so sick and weak.  Mom is supposed to take care of them, not the other way around.  My kids take on extra chores as well.  After a few days, it can wear everyone down.  Try to remember to say “thank you” for the smallest acts of kindness.  Praise the good that others are doing.  Don’t let guilt over what you cannot control spill over into bitterness and irritability towards others.  Another burden I often add to my baggage is to take on the added stress expressed by others.  If my husband gets short with the kids, or the kids start bickering with one another, I have to take great effort to remember that is not my fault.  I cannot control others and I cannot control my health.  So, I just *try* to speak gently and offer praise and encouragement where I can.  Everyone is just doing the best they can with what they have.  None of us are perfect.

I do hope this helps you when you are in time of crisis.  Unfortunately no one is able to avoid life crisis.  Yours will be unique to you, so my story and advice may not apply.  I pray for you all that God give you peace and healing, grace and joy as you walk your journey in sickness and in health.  And I thank you for your prayers and encouragement as well.

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Ego vs. Spirit

Much of my healing journey has been about acknowledging my emotions instead of shoving them ever deeper into my subconscious mind.  This has been the most difficult aspect of my healing by far.  To face my emotions is to face the naked truth of myself.  It is to strip away the facades that I have created in order to be presentable to others.  It is the lie of the deceiver that starts very young: you have to change who you are in order to be loved.  In fact, God loves me and sees me as I truly am and He is the only one I should be concerned with pleasing.

I have always been a pleaser: the good little girl who played quietly and stayed out of the way of adults, or the entertaining story teller when others wanted to be entertained, the quintessential teacher’s pet, the one who got along with anyone and everyone, the peace-keeper.  It is true that is the personality that God gave me, but it is also true that He didn’t intend it to keep me from living out His Holy will; an excuse from becoming the woman He created me to be.  I have always searched for outside affirmation for my words and actions.  The slightest judgment or criticism set me awhirl of distress and my joy was quickly lost.  As I started to recognize the gifts within myself to intuitively make decisions, I recognized that my intuitions were “right”, while others’ opinions of what decision should be made were often “wrong.”  At first, this new experience of recognizing truth within myself was manifested as a feeling of pride–my ego–saying, “See, I was right!”  I quickly realized that this satisfaction was misplaced; that the “right” I recognized was God’s truth manifested within me.

So much of our human disagreements and division are grounded in this very same experience of the human ego vs. Truth.  Because we feel so strongly about this issue or that one, we come to trust that instinct within us that we must be right.  The error comes about when we do not center our truth or filter it through God, through the Holy Spirit.  We either distrust the Holy Spirit whispering within us and search for human affirmation, or we trust our own ego so much that we overpower and block the Holy Spirit from directing us.  To find love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (the fruits of the Holy Spirit) we must be willing to put our own ego aside AND listen intently for the whispers of direction.

I know that I am not saying anything new.  I have heard it all before many, many times myself.  But, for some reason my journey to fully grasp this concept has taken me 46 years.  It is always simple, but rarely easy.  May the Holy Spirit dwell within each of us, may we let our egos submit to His Holiness, and may we have the grace and courage to follow where He leads us.

Enjoy one of my favorite new songs.  “…sometimes I gotta stop and remember that you’re God and I am not…”

The Brave New World: Living Gluten Free

Gluten was one of the first things to be eliminated from my diet when I started working with my Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.  I have a nephew with Celiac, so I was not foreign to the concept; but, that does not make it less difficult either.  In fact, I gave up gluten, soy, dairy, corn and beef.  What does that leave me to eat?  That was the same question I had! It turned out that I had plenty of edible choices.  It’s just that none of those included anything that came in a box, carton or package.  And it definitely meant that my shopping had to expand beyond the Neighborhood Walmart store.  The change was a challenge, but the results were apparent as well.  I took an 80/20- Better-Than attitude (eating clean and sticking to the restrictions at least 80% of the time and choosing options that were “better than” other options).  I plowed forward with my new lifestyle dragging my family with me.  I had the idea that I could still have gluten or corn or dairy sometimes as long as I didn’t eat it too often.

Eventually, I came to understand that gluten had a bigger impact on my body than I first thought.  Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis was showing up in my bloodwork and gluten is believed to trigger the autoimmune response similar to Celiac Disease, but the body attacks the thyroid gland vs. the digestive system.  So, I doubled down and began to really focus on removing all gluten from my diet.  I didn’t realize how critical this was until I caved in a moment of hurry and hunger and the overwhelming desire for a hamburger.  A few hours later my heart was racing, my anxiety spiked, and I was more irritable than a swarm of wasps knocked from their nest.   It took me three days to recover.  It was at that moment I truly understood food allergies and the severity.  I began to ask waiters about gluten in meals and having them double check with the chef.  I became that annoying person with the food sensitivity that we laugh at in YouTube videos (which I find more humorous now than ever before).  My mistake now was trusting the servers.

Even when the server says that a meal is “gluten free” or “gluten sensitive”, when the menu has those cute little “gf” indicators next to the items, it is still not a guarantee that it is not contaminated with gluten.  There are a couple of places that I have learned to trust in my experience: El Chico and Spring Creek BBQ–minus the hot bread ;-(.  But, eating the same thing every time we go out can be pretty boring, so occasionally we will try out a new place.  So far, I’m batting 1000 at new places claiming gf options and finding out the hard way that their claims were false.  Last week I had the worst reaction so far.   We tried a new Mexican restaurant and both the server and the manager assured me that I could eat the enchiladas espinaca.  At 2am they were proved wrong.  I didn’t sleep for the next 36 hours.  When I finally did sleep for four hours I woke up unable to move, my limbs feeling like they were filled with cement.  My sweet Angela became my nurse and gave me the supplements I needed to support my body through the reaction.  What started as a wonderful date on Thursday evening, would lead to the next 5 days in bed.

I am not happy about it.  Eating out and getting the break from planning and cooking a meal is a huge treat form me.  At the same time, playing Russian Roulette with my body is just not worth the risk.  So, I face another change of attitude.  It is a new reality that when I travel I will have to prepare my own food in advance for the length of my trip.  I will probably be packing my griddle and Instant Pot to cook in the hotel room.  And family gatherings will not mean a day of munchies and treats that I didn’t have to prepare.  It will mean extra preparation and planning to make sure that I have food to eat that is safe for me.  But, I’m no different than anyone else with special needs.  It is part of the reality and the struggle.  I’m puttin’ on my big girl pants and taking this challenge head on.  Last night we had our first date night since the incident.  I planned the meal, my kids cooked it and served my husband and I in our bedroom.  We ate at a card table with a candle.  The kids kept popping in out of newfound curiosity.  It was such a great learning opportunity for them.  It is important for kids to see their parents in love and on dates.  It was an opportunity for us to receive their service of love as well.  After dinner, we snuck out the back door and went for a swim undetected by the kids.  It was refreshing and relaxing and the first swim in years where kids weren’t on top of me in the pool.  I guess that is exactly what it means to make lemonade out of lemons.  And I’m happy to do just that.  After all, lemons are naturally gluten free.

The Healing Journey

I’m still climbing that mountain, y’all. It is actually getting a little easier to climb with each day. In fact, I’ve been doing so much climbing I failed to share my journey with you and for that I am sorry! Even if my story can touch one heart and encourage that person to keep going, well, I feel like I should share it. I left off last Fall and the new year brought lots of changes to my life.

My faithful friend who came daily from 9am-2pm to help with the kids was ready to move on to a new chapter in her life as her youngest began school. So, I hired two young women to replace her. The change of helpers from day-to-day and the struggle to keep everyone on the same page with homeschooling and kids’ schedules and needs was real. My helpers were great, but then one of them got a better job offer in January and the other was having a baby. At this same time, my oldest daughter went into super-achiever mode and graduated from high school 9 months early and started her new phase of life as a…wait for it…Nanny.  For other families.  And that was a great move for her, but it was another huge blow for me.  God was telling me that it was time to take the training wheels off and ride this bike on my own. I was scared. I just didn’t think I could do it.  Taking one day at a time, and sometimes one hour at a time we  somehow, someway (spelled G-R-A-C-E) made it. I was riding the bike all on my own again, a little wobbly and lots of huffing and puffing. It was very challenging.  And it was Lent.

One of the most fascinating aspects of my journey has been how it seems to follow the liturgical calendar and this Lent was no exception. The first week of lent was my first week without those training wheels.  And just to prove His point, all six kids and I caught a cold that week, so I didn’t have the option of bringing in help even if I could find someone to hire.  That first Sunday in Lent we went to Mass and Fr. Luke offered the Sacrament of the anointing of the Sick. My son looked up at me, his eyes locking with mine and the message came across loud and clear, “Mom, you better go up and receive this Sacrament or I will pull you to Father myself.” He didn’t even say a word and I knew what he was thinking–I was thinking it too. As I waited patiently for the lines to form and move forward, I felt that I would be healed. It was an interior message and my heart and my mind recognized it at the same instant.  After receiving the anointing of oil on my forehead and hands, I was instantly free from the emotional torment, the struggle with anxiety, depression, guilt was all gone. It was incredible.  I told Patrick when we got home, but I was reluctant to share with others.  I still had doubts and didn’t want to be disappointed if I fell ill again.  My body was still weak from the fight. Lent proved to be a time of rebuilding my muscles and my thought process. It was a time of re-learning who God created me to be. It was a time to rise again, pick up my cross and continue to move forward.  And it was a time to learn to trust the Lord.  To trust that He can and did heal me.  To trust that whether I fell ill again or regained 100% health, the Lord was, is and always will be in control–He created me, He loves me and He will never abandon me.

On Good Friday, we went up to Larryland (affectionately named by my children, Larryland is 70 raw acres of natural Texas beauty land belonging to my brother). I had mentioned to Larry that we wanted to spend Good Friday out there and hike while reflecting on the Stations of the Cross. Well, he and Julie arrived ahead of us and marked off the “Stations” with white tape.  The hike would take us down and through a deep ravine, climbing the hill at the 14th station, marked with a six-foot cross they had made from some cleared cedar wood. It was incredibly moving. It also marked the first mile-long hike I was able to walk in several years. Easter Saturday was at my sister’s ranch in East Texas with family, fishing, a pot luck lunch and the big Egg Hunt. Sunday was the highlight with Mass, followed by 8 of our 9 children and Patrick’s parents joining us for lunch and a day of relaxation and games. And I was still standing on Monday morning, praise God!  It was a true blessing and a small miracle for me when one considers that the March before I was unable to even leave my bedroom due to paralyzing anxiety.  Easter is truly the greatest miracle of all as Christ rose from the dead and promising us all new life in Him.  It is an incredible gift to share in even a fraction of His suffering and the experience of His resurrection.  Alleluia!  He is Risen Indeed.

Fear, Science, and Nature

One of my favorite Catholic bloggers, Simcha Fisher, wrote a piece over at the National Catholic Register entitled “Science, Catholics, and Fear.”  It was published earlier this week and upon reading it I walked away unnerved, irritated and a little defensive.  I took a few days to chew it over and I even had an in-depth conversation about the article with my husband.  I wanted to be sure that my response came from a place of charity and humility and not from wounded pride.

I think my irritation with the written words was that they seemed to speak a bias against natural living and alternative medicine.  But, when I re-read the article I read that Simcha is speaking of the EXTREME focus of natural living and alternative medicine, people who deny the need for medicine altogether.  She may or may not have a bias towards western allopathic medicine.  She may or may not have a bias towards homeopathic or holistic medicine.  I can only go by her words in this article as I have never had the pleasure of speaking with her in person, especially not on this topic.  And when we speak of extremes in almost any circumstance, we can be sure the Church cautions us to be balanced, instructs us to seek counsel, and implores us to discern before making any decisions.

As one who has struggled with chronic illness and found help lacking within the medical realm, I felt led to explore other options, alternatives to western medicine in search of finding the truth about what ailed me.  I will admit to my skepticism of doctors.  It was not always so.  My biggest trial came with the birth of my eighth child when the doctor physically violated me while I was in labor.  I was in such shock at what she had done that I remained calm as I questioned her actions.  I fired her, but she refused to get another doctor.  We left the hospital and I had the baby within 15 minutes of arriving home, despite the doctor’s condescending announcement that I was not in labor.  It is a long story, but one that illustrates well how some doctors can and do use power to coerce vulnerable patients.  My next birth was watched over by a very caring and respectful doctor who saved my baby’s and my life.   So, this was a very real experience that taught me to be wary of extremes and of labeling an entire group of people based on the actions of a few.

Just as Simcha pointed out that there are extremists who deny all medicine and science as bad, there are extremists at the opposite end of the spectrum who are just as quick to deny the alternatives.  In fact I have found very few medical doctors who will even acknowledge natural remedies or alternatives.  It took me a long time to find an OB/GYN who would even allow me to use NFP without getting into a verbal duel over its effectiveness.  Those doctors that supported and encouraged NFP and did not prescribe bc pills were Catholic doctors who had been trained in NaPro Technology. But when I wanted to have a home birth, the wonderful Catholic doctor who supported my use of NFP and didn’t harass me to get my tubes tied, was adamantly opposed to home birth and could only give me generic reasons based upon fear in his defense against it.   He offered no valid reason why I should not have a home birth with that particular pregnancy.

I hesitate to even mention vaccinations.  It is such a controversial topic these days, but only because people feel like they have to take a stance for or against.  Extremes and fear rule the discussions on both sides of the debate.  Fear of toxins, autism, or other side effects keep people from vaccinating their children while fear of Polio, Chicken Pox, and Whooping Cough with possibilities of hospitalization or even death drive people to vaccinate for every possible disease.  I’m over simplifying the debate to be sure, but I firmly believe that each parent should make the decision for each child.  Parents should not be bullied by family, friends or health care providers in either direction.  Information, education and facts should be given, but not threats of firing you as a patient or calling CPS because you don’t agree.  Neither should the provider dismiss the importance of vaccinations without backing up their claims with scientific fact.

Interestingly enough, I have never felt pressure from the holistic health care providers.  My midwife answered any questions I posed to her, but she never tried to talk me into any decision.  Even when I was struggling to decide hospital vs. home, she simply answered with facts while my medical doctor denounced home birth as utterly dangerous with no supporting evidence as to why it would be a risk for my situation.  My Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, my Chiropractor, my midwife—none of these people has ever pressured me to make a decision, but they educate and encourage me to take responsibility for whatever decision I do make.  To me this is the greatest benefit to holistic medicine.  You form relationships with your caregivers.  They are not just looking at one part of you, the part that ails you, but all of you:  your whole body, your family, your spiritual journey.    To be fair I have found an excellent medical doctor who also treats me with this same respect and he refers to the afore-mentioned holistic providers.  He is the only medical doctor that I have met who is open to holistic medicine and combines the methods to treat his patients (other than my nephew who lives several states away).

But I digress, my point is that fear should never be a deciding factor as fear is not from God.   As I read the comments after Simcha’s blog post, I was saddened by the ignorant rants against natural remedies.  One person wrote of his cousin’s battle with cancer.  She had chosen a natural route and died.  His wife had cancer, chosen the medical route and survived.  He surmised that medicine saved his wife, while the natural route was the cause of his cousin’s death.  Another used Steven Jobs’ death as an example of failed natural treatment.  Used is the proper word here.  Why do we get to condemn someone’s personal decision for healthcare treatment?  Would we dare to scoff at someone who underwent chemo and months of radiation and lost the battle with cancer?  Would we claim that medicine doesn’t work?  If so, then shame on us!  Just because a natural remedy did not work for some, does not mean it doesn’t work at all.  On the same note, we should support and encourage each other to discern the path God chooses for us be it medial or natural, or a combination of the two.

There is a much greater bias in our society against natural medicine than there are extreme views against modern medicine.  I have faced it personally and continue to do so.  In fact, I was once guilty of the bias myself.  It stems from ignorance.  Denying the natural solutions is as much an affront against science as the denial of modern medicine.  Simcha expresses worry for the loss of our “science and reason” roots as Catholics. But, for thousands of years, herbs and nutrition were the first defense against disease.  Essential oils were used by the Egyptians.  Oils are mentioned over 200 times in the Bible.  A recent article spoke of the benefits of aromatherapy and Frankincense.  You don’t get much more Catholic than incense!  St. Hildegarde, a Benedictine cloistered nun was known as a healer and wrote volumes on the benefits of plants and herbs.  She is sited several times in the Essential Oils Reference book that I use for my own family.  The bias also stems from fear.  It takes faith and courage to step away from the main stream way of doing things and follow the path less traveled.  One of the greatest risks in looking at alternatives is not the risk of life, but the risk of losing our pride.  If I had not improved after venturing down this trail, people surely would have shaken their heads and scoffed at my failure.  If I had continued to spend thousands of dollars on drugs and medical specialists and failed to improve, people would have probably shaken their heads in pity and then pointed me to yet another doctor or medicine to try.  Even in death, allopathic medical limitations are rarely blamed, but accepted as the human limitations that they are.  I’m just asking that we give nature the same respect.  After all, modern medicine’s roots stem from nature.  Pun intended.

Into Great Silence

I borrowed the title of my blog today from the documentary of the same name.  Into Great Silence is a documentary about the monks living in the French Alps who take a vow of silence, as in they do not talk. ever.  Well, they speak at prayer and they have recreation time one day a month or something like that.  But, I cannot comprehend living without talking and I am in awe of them.  If you have never seen it, it is well worth watching.  In any event, I have stepped into great silence this weekend.  Originally, we were going on our annual extended family camping trip.  My path was redirected when we were struck down with Salmonella poisoning from some undercooked chicken.  I had already had three late nights when the first child came in vomiting at 10:30 pm and didn’t finally settle down until 3 am.  My husband and I took turns tending to him as he fought his body’s natural instinct to rid itself of the poison.  Each time he fought it and then reacted with greater violence when it overtook him—and his pj’s, his blankets, and his pillow.  It was one of the most emotionally draining exercises I have ever partaken of. 

The second day was calmer, but nighttime brought the same drama and I wondered if an exorcism was in order.  So, when day three—or rather night three—came around I did not hesitate to grab a dose of phenergan for the poor guy.  He needed to sleep and his body needed the break from the constant contractions of his abdomen and stomach.  There was nothing left in the poor guy.  So, as he relaxed into a deep and restful sleep Patrick and I sunk into our bed praying for the same.  It was not to be.  It was the next child’s turn.  At least this time Sophia was a real trooper and didn’t fight it.  She recovered in less than 24 hours.  By Thursday Patrick and I had managed to get some sleep and were almost functional.  It was a difficult decision for me, but I decided that camping was not the best activity for me.  I also had Salmonella, but it never manifested as anything more than cramping.  I knew that my body was fighting it and, all totaled, I was running on a deficit.

Patrick stepped up to the plate.  He went to the grocery store, planned and packed for the weekend, loaded all seven kids into the Suburban, and headed out to the campgrounds.  Allison jumped into action as well and helped with the packing, loading, and kid management.  So, here I am alone in the quiet and comfort of my home loving every minute.  If you knew my history you would understand why this is a huge milestone for me.  I have never liked being alone in my entire life.

As a child I had horrible separation anxiety.  I have vivid memories of crying all day after being dropped off at a new Kindergarten, of being alone before and after school at seven and eight years old, and feeling alone and misunderstood as the youngest child that was always “too little” to join my siblings in their games.  I took this into adolescence and adulthood by dating at the tender age of 14.  If I didn’t have a boyfriend to validate me, then I must not be pretty enough, smart enough. . . fill in the blank.  Even after getting married, if Patrick went on an overnight trip I had to stay with my mom or have a friend come over and stay with me.  Having kids with me did not count as company by the way.  If it wasn’t another adult, I was alone.

My turning point came as recently as this Fall when my adrenals crashed.  I was terrified to go on my retreat, but I also knew that I didn’t have a choice.  For the full eleven days I never once felt alone.  In fact, I basked in the quiet and soaked in the rest and relaxation.  The truth is I was never alone.  God was with me the entire time and I was fully aware of His presence.  He was physically present in the Eucharist in the chapel down the hall, but he was also spiritually present to me wherever I was.  It is not that He was not present with me in Kindergarten, or my childhood home, or even now.  It was that I did not acknowledge His presence.  I did not search for Him, rather I searched for earthly answers to my feelings of isolation.  Now, in this moment as I sit in my living room alone I feel such a strong sense of peace and serenity.  It is a presence that lifts me up.  I can literally feel the healing in my body and soul as I contemplate God’s love and mercy for me.  For the first time I can understand the desire of the Carthusian monks because God is found in the silence.  Seek Him there.

Essential Oils Update

I promised that I would update you on Essential Oils once I got my feet wet, so here it is.  I am having so much fun!  They are my new favorite go to item for treating minor symptoms.  Of course, I must make the disclaimer that I am not a doctor or health care provider and essential oils are not regulated by the FDA.  I am just a mom with lots of health issues and am looking for alternatives to treat symptoms without adding more toxins to my already-burdened body.  I am definitely not anti-medicine either.  Like I stated in a previous post, I just prefer to start with finding natural remedies to treat symptoms before moving on to prescription medications or costly testing and medical treatment.

Essential Oils are “that aromatic, volatile liquid that is within many shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, and seeds and that it usually extracted through steam distillation.” (Essential Oils Pocket Reference, Life Science Publishing)   Because of the extraction process, one drop of an essential oil is highly concentrated.  A little goes a long way.   High quality oils can be used directly on the skin, internally or diffused into the air depending on which oil is being used.  I bought the pocket reference and utilize handouts that other distributors have provided in order to navigate this new world that is Essential Oils.  Yesterday my husband found a great app (Healthier Thymes) that also gave a basic reference for finding the right oil for the right need. Just learning which oil to use was my first hurdle and I am gaining more confidence every day.

My first use of an essential oil was about a year ago when Sophia (age 2) got an ear infection.  She hadn’t slept and was really miserable, but I couldn’t pinpoint any symptoms and took her to the chiropractor.  We have a great family chiropractor that I will tell you all about in another post.  Anyway, he adjusted her, checked her ears, nose and throat and listened to her lungs.  She had an ear infection and I was surprised–although the not sleeping for more than fifteen minutes at a stretch should have been my first clue.  Next he handed me a small sample of Lemon essential oil and told me to put it behind her ear (never use them in ears) on the lymph gland.  I was skeptical, but figured I could follow up with our general doc for antibiotics if necessary.  She slept through the night that night and never had an issue again.  I used the oil for about 3 days on her and then put the rest up in the cabinet.

It would be a year later before I would try them again.  In December when I returned from my retreat, Benjamin had an ear infection, fever, runny nose and cough. He was miserable.  I took him in to a medical doc and we did 10 days of antibiotics.  As soon as the antibiotics were done, he was sick again.  This time I took him to the chiropractor.  Double ear infections was the verdict.  I put Lemon oil behind the ears again and he was fine by the next day.  Now I took notice and decided that maybe I should look into them a little more.  I ordered a starter kit of 11 oils and the reference book and I began to dabble.  Here are the successes that I have had:

Lavender has helped calm me at bedtime, relieves the head congestion from allergies and helps my dry eyes.

Lemon behind my ears has helped reduce the inflamed lymph gland behind my right ear that is almost always inflamed and tender.

I use Nutmeg on my adrenals for support, but do not have a way to measure if it is helpful or not.  I just ran out, so I guess I will find out how significant or insignificant it is.

Frankincense relieved the pain of my ruptured ovarian cyst in thirty minutes.  I now use it twice a day to help balance my hormones and support my endocrine system.

My husband was snoring every night.  I put Valor on the back of his neck and he stopped snoring.  On the nights that he forgets to use it, he snores.

My best result is the use of Peace and Calming.  When it came in the mail I was in the midst of a severe allergy attack with constant sneezing, and irritation and itching in my face and head.  I put 5 drops in the diffuser and within minutes my allergies calmed down and I felt significant relief.  I use it to relieve allergies and have avoided the chronic sinus infections that I have been prone to for the last twenty years.  This has been a great substitute for the OTC allergy medications which can build up toxins in your liver.

Several kids had a stomach bug with fever this week.  Nutmeg on the back of the neck reduced the fever within half an hour.  Peppermint mixed with a carrier oil and rubbed on their bellies relieved the nausea.

Again, these were my experiences.  But, I am convinced enough to build up a basic supply in my medicine cabinet and replace the OTC medications that are just as costly, but come with more side effects and contraindications.  Essential oils can also be used in recipes for inexpensive household cleaners, soaps, and shampoo.  It is really getting back to the basics of the gifts God has given us in this beautiful world He created.

St. Hildegard of Bingen was a Benedictine herbalist in the early 12th century.  I happened to watch a movie about her while on retreat.  It is called “Vision” and is currently available on Netflix ™.  Watching this movie made me realize how dependent on herbal medicine humans have been since the beginning of time.  In fact, there are over 200 references to essential oils in the Bible.  We have simply replaced herbal medicine with chemical ones.  In doing so, I wonder if we have only succeeded in creating more expensive medications that end up causing more ailments than they treat.  I won’t argue that modern medicine and drugs are not helpful, however.  Many lives have been saved by the advances.  I am just proposing that we go to chemical medications to treat minor ailments oftentimes before their use is necessary, skipping over the process of home remedies as a first attempt to treat symptoms.  We do so out of fear and ignorance.  At least that is my experience.  Fear kept me from trying home remedies in the beginning and I was ignorant that other options even existed.  Now, I realize that it doesn’t hurt to try the home remedies and I can always go to medications and a higher level of treatment should the need arise. The more I use home remedies, the more confidence and understanding I gain.  I thank God for the freedom to learn, for His wonderful Creation, and for our excellent health care options.