Be Kind

This is Behcet’s Disease.

It’s often an “invisible illness.” Systemic inflammation, severe fatigue. It’s an autoimmune vasculitis. So it can cause lesions anywhere you have blood vessels. This most often occurs in soft tissue, like the mouth, eyes, genitals, skin.

For me, the oral lesions are most problematic. Sometimes I can look totally normal from the outside, but my tongue, the inside of my cheeks, the roof of my mouth, gums, and throat are a wreck.

And then sometimes I look like this. Fat lip, and loads of lesions along my jaw, chest, and forehead. But I’m actually fine. A little tired maybe, but this mini flare, though more visible than usual, looks worse than it is.

When people see me like this, they cringe and say stuff like “Poor thing!” I appreciate the concern. But remember, there are people fighting invisible illness all around you. They may look fine on the outside. They may have learned to hide their pain. Or their pain may not be physical- but it’s no less debilitating.

So always be kind. Everyone is struggling with something.

My Wellness Boxes

I’ve been riding wave after wave of flares recently, so I’m focusing on tightening up my diet and getting back to basics with my daily routines and supplements.

Part of that plan involves the goodness that came in these boxes. Join me and the munchkin as we open them up and dig in. Plus Olivia shares her favorite diffuser blend, titled “Unicorn Fart.” You don’t want to miss that. 🦄💨

If you want to learn more about how the Essential Rewards program works, check out this link…

If you want to join me on this journey to health and wellness, go here to get your starter kit…

And for a detailed description of the items I purchased in February and March, as well as all the stuff we got for free, and what it’s all good for, read on…

What I purchased from Young Living in February and March and why:

MightyPro- super yummy synergistic blend of prebiotics and probiotics with over 8 billion active, live cultures to support digestive and immune health. Olivia and I take this straight from the package, or sometimes add it to our smoothies and oatmeal (after it’s cooled so we don’t harm the bacteria). Contains the Ningxia wolfberry fiber as a prebiotic that passes through the gut and promotes healthy bacteria in the colon. Packaged in single serve packets that protects freshness and efficacy and totally taste like pixie stix. Specially formulated for kids, but just as good for grownups.

Ningxia Red- crazy powerful, whole-body supplement drink containing the superfood wolfberry, plus plum, aronia, cherry, blueberry, and pomegranate juices and vanilla extract. It’s also infused with lemon, orange, yuzu, and tangerine essential oils. All of that comes together to support energy levels, normal cellular function, and whole-body wellness. We usually do about 2-4 oz per day, but even just 1 oz can make a world of difference.

Ningxia Nitro- all the goodness of Ningxia Red boosted with D-ribose, Korean ginseng, and green tea extract to support alertness, cognitive and physical fitness. I’ve had serious fatigue issues recently, and the naturally occurring caffeine in this supports normal energy levels without the “too much coffee” jitters and crash.

Super B tablets- comprehensive vitamin complex containing all eight essential, energy-boosting B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, and B12). It uses a natural folate source derived from lemon peels, and methylcobalamin, a more bioavailable source of B12, combined with Nutmeg essential oil and bioavailable chelated minerals such as magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc. B vitamins are essential to maintain healthy energy levels, plus they’re critical for supporting mood and cardiovascular and cognitive function. Each B vitamin performs a unique and separate function, but they are not stored in the body, so MUST be replenished daily. Having this more bioavailable source is especially important for those of us with the MTHFR genetic mutations.

Inner Defense capsules- reinforces systemic defenses, creates unfriendly terrain for yeast/fungus, promotes healthy respiratory function, and contains the potent essential oils lemongrass, oregano, thyme, and Thieves which are rich in thymol, carvacrol, and eugenol for immune support.

Essentialzyme- a bilayered, multienzyme complex caplet specially formulated with tarragon, peppermint, anise, fennel, and clove essential oils to support and balance digestive health and stimulate overall enzyme activity, which helps me properly digest my food. It also supports healthy pancreatic function.

Lemon Essential Oil- so fresh and uplifting and inexpensive, so I can diffuse it 24/7. It’s also crazy good at removing sticky residue, like on my nails after removing my Color Street nail polish stickers, or when Olivia gets gum stuck in her hair, or slime embedded in her clothes. Lemon vitality is yummy in water and supports your body’s natural detox processes and lymphatic system.

Bergamot Essential Oil- The yellow-green peel of this orange-shaped fruit is cold pressed to produce pure essential oil. While Bergamot has a primarily tart and uplifting aroma, there are also sweet and relaxing elements, making it a popular addition to perfumes. Bergamot has attracted attention for its skin-cleansing properties, and its elegant scent makes it a popular addition to luxury shampoos, soaps, and cleansers. This is the fruit that gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive flavor, Bergamot Vitality™ essential oil has a fresh, complex citrus taste that makes it the perfect addition to many summer dishes. With a distinctly tart finish, it can also liven up sugarless baked goods. The taste of the Bergamot Vitality is somewhere between a sour orange and lemon, making it a distinctive, zesty addition to seafood recipes.

What I got for free from Young Living in February and March and why I’m super excited about it:

March Freebies

Cool Azul Pain Relief Cream samples: Provides cooling relief from minor muscle and joint aches, arthritis, strains, bruises, and sprains. Plant-based formula which combines the power of Wintergreen essential oil with the exclusive Cool Azul essential oil blend. With two powerful, synergistic active ingredients, this cream provides pain-relieving benefits in two ways: methyl salicylate found in Wintergreen helps alleviate pain deep in the muscles and joints, and natural menthol found in Peppermint provides a cooling effect.

Orange Vitality Essential Oil: fabulous immune support. We add a couple drops to our Ningxia for an extra boost, or to our toothbrush to help whiten our teeth! Orange is also calming for the emotions. It’s known as a “happy oil” because it’s so uplifting. And it supports glutathione levels.

Thieves Essential Oil: Immune system power house! We Thieves ALL the things! This is our secret to staying well over the winter months. I have enough health issues without adding on the complications of flu season. We diffuse Thieves daily, put it on the bottoms of our feet, and even make a Thieves tea (it’s a vitality oil as well) with honey and lemon. It’s also great for oral health, and has a numbing effect, which I appreciate during flares.

Thieves Dish Soap: plant-based formula, free from SLS, SLES, dyes, formaldehyde, phosphates, and synthetic perfumes, so it doesn’t add to my body’s toxin load when I eat off a plate or drink from a cup that has been washed with it. It is infused with the power of Thieves, Jade Lemon and Bergamot essential oils. Effective, smells amazing and doesn’t disrupt my endocrine system.

Thieves Foaming Hand Soap: plant based, gentle and power packed with Thieves, lemon and orange essential oils. Contains no sulfates, dyes, synthetic fragrances or harsh chemicals. It effectively cleans our hands, smells like Christmas, and doesn’t thwart my body’s ability to function properly.

Thieves Fruit & Veggie Soak: safely and effectively cleans produce with the power of three exclusive essential oil blends—DiGize, Thieves, and Purification, combined with the other naturally-derived ingredients. Even if we buy organic produce, a fruit and veggie wash will helps remove wax, dirt, and other surface impurities. And it’s critical to use on conventional product to help minimize our exposure to pesticides and chemicals.

Thieves Household Cleaner: The BEST cleaner, on the planet – HANDS DOWN. This stuff cleans better than your chemical-filled junk from the store. It is completely plant-based, and every single ingredient on the list has the lowest toxicity score on Infused with the incredible thieves essential oil, it can clean any surface absolutely beautifully! From kitchen counters, basins, mirrors, windows, toilet bowl, shower, floors, walls and even stains on clothing – it literally replaces every single cleaner under my sink, and smells AMAZING!

Kunzea Essential Oil: This is an exotic single that smells like a fresh and complex blend. The plant, which is native to Australia and Tasmania, contains constituents that are present in eucalyptus, peppermint, sacred frank, oregano, pine, and hyssop.

While native cultures have been using Kunzea for centuries, it’s modern signficance was rediscovered when barbed wire fences remained free from oxidation/rust where the Kunzea grew along the fences! Oxidation… rust…think “antioxidants”… If it can do that for a metal fence, imagine what it can do for my face! And all our cells!

YL Branded Microfiber Towels: Super cute way to get mirrors and surfaces streak free and squeaky clean.

February Freebies

Clove Vitality Essential Oil: This is the most concentrated antioxidant known with an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value of over 1,000,000. By comparison the ORAC score for blueberries is only 2,400. So loads of immune system support! Also wonderful to dilute and rub on the gums for oral health. Aromatically, clove encourages sleep, stimulates dreams, and creates a sense of protection and courage.

Marjoram Essential Oil: known as the “herb of happiness” to the Romans and “joy of the mountains” to the Greeks, it has been used to increase longevity! Wonderful to use on the muscles after a workout. And is good for the circulatory system.

Super Cal PLUS supplement: more than just calcium and minerals—it’s a true bone-health supplement. One of the main distinguishing ingredients are marine minerals from red algae grown in Iceland. This plant based calcium ingredient is delivered in a powerful matrix of 72 trace minerals naturally derived from algae. Unlike rock based calcium that contains little to no supplemental trace minerals, this ingredient has proven bioavailability due to its unique structure and spectrum of minerals. To support the route of calcium from the digestive system to the bones, it is crucial to provide Vitamin D, Vitamin K, and Magnesium. These co-factors work through complex biochemistry to deliver the calcium and other minerals as bone deposits.

Another unique and powerful ingredient in Super Cal Plus, is a fermented polysaccharide complex from a new strain of black yeast. This ingredient has been shown to support osteoblast function and the delicate ratio of bone remodeling. This supports bone density by potentially mimicking the function of estrogen. In clinical studies black yeast was shown to slow the process of osteoporosis.

Because of the powerful ingredients in this product, we can make strong claims about osteoporosis, which is actually listed on the bottle! “A daily recommended dose of calcium and Vitamin D throughout life, as part of a well-balanced diet, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.” BOOM.

Cypress Essential Oil: Calming and grounding, and is not only wonderful for releasing stored emotions, but it helps ease feelings of loss and creates a sense of security. It helps to heal emotional trauma, calms the body, relieves anger and just helps life flow better. Cypress is also one of the Raindrop oils which are always crucial to have on hand.

Purification Essential Oil: This blend is made up of six essential oils for the ultimate weapon against odors. Citronella, Lavandin, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Myrtle, and Tea Tree work together to create a refreshing, bright scent!

How we use Purification:

• Add a few drops to laundry to give our wash a great-smelling boost.

• Place a few drops on cotton balls and stash wherever necessary: the car, closets and drawers, air vents, or shoes.

• Use in the car with a car diffuser to eliminate lingering scents of road trips.

• Dilute with distilled water to make a linen spray. This also works as an air freshener.

Emotional uses: Anger, being alone, fear of rejection, fear of seeing, negative thoughts.

Palo Santo Essential Oil: a spiritual and grounding oil known for cleansing the air of negative energies and for good luck. Palo Santo means “sacred wood” so it is a beautiful oil to use for creating a more spiritual and sacred environment.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil: means Flower of Flowers. It’s the oil of LOVE. Balances male & female energies, combats anger & low self-esteem, can be used to battle stress, increases focus, and filters out negative energy. Also a great oil to promote thick and shiny hair. And a healthy heart.

Who Do You Think You Are?

A friend told me she kept hearing the phrase “Who do you think you are?” during her prayer time. She said, “I know it’s just the enemy trying to tear me down.” But to me, that totally sounded like God trying to build her up. Hear me out.


For those of us who think it’s our job to fix everything, to make everyone happy, to juggle all the balls and spinning plates… is this not a tremendously comforting phrase to hear? Who do we think we are?


Isn’t this where our worry and stress come from? Trying to control things, trying to do and be more than God is requiring of us in that moment. Trying to influence people who aren’t listening, trying to predict how things will go and avoid negative outcomes. Trying to avoid pain for ourselves or those we love. Who do we think we are?


{Who do you think you are? This is not your responsibility. I am God. I am handling this. I know you don’t like how it’s playing out right this second. But I have a plan. Trust Me. You can rest.}


Because, geez, don’t we all need more rest? If not actual sleep, just mental, emotional, spiritual REST. A moment of freedom for our exhausted brains. A split second where the balls and plates pause.


It takes humility to step back from #allthethings we’re convinced desperately need us to keep spinning, to step back and let God be God. But He commands us to not worry. Says He hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. Who are we to disobey?


So next time I’m stressed out and worrying over people I love, or things I can’t control, or stuff that I’ve screwed up, please ask me…


Who do you think you are?






#idols #worry #stress #fear #arrogance #worship #peace #rest #trust #humility #discernment #preachingtomyself #whodoyouthinkyouare #controlfreak

Your Joy Will Overflow

Growing up in the Bible Belt, it was cool to be Christian.  In fact, it wasn’t cool to NOT be Christian.  I’ve been back in my hometown for several weeks, and things haven’t changed much.  But I AM a Christian, so this should be awesome, right?  Except I believe there’s a great danger in religion that requires no sacrifice, danger in adhering to Christian culture because that’s what everyone does, and missing out entirely on the relationship and power of God in your life.  So, if going to church every Sunday, voting Republican, and eating Chick-Fil-A on a regular basis doesn’t make us Christian, what does? How do we know we’re saved? I’m certainly no authority on this stuff, and only God knows our hearts.  And I don’t believe this is something we can identify for another person.  We each have to work out our salvation “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).  But one question to ask ourselves is, “Am I currently and fully depending on Jesus alone for my redemption?” It doesn’t matter if we can remember praying a prayer in 3rd grade (I did, it didn’t stick).  It doesn’t matter if we had an emotional conversion experience.  What matters is the posture of our heart.  Do we BELIEVE He is enough? If so, then we know we can stop striving to earn heaven on our own, and rest in what He’s already done for us.

And when we’ve entered into this saving relationship, we begin to change, to be sanctified.  This process is excruciating, imperfect, downright ugly, and yet beautiful all at once.  Our desires change, because our heart has changed.  Things that used to be ok aren’t ok anymore.  And things that used to bother us are no longer a big deal.  I’ve experienced all that, and am secure in my eternity.  But what does this relationship with God mean for my life right now?  How do I guard against complacency and the tendency to just “go through the motions” in a culture where church attendance is just what everyone does? How do I know that my relationship with Him is growing and thriving, and that I’m not just learning how to be a “good Christian?”  Cause honestly, a “good Christian” is the last thing I want to be.  I want to be a disciple.  I want to be a warrior.  I want to live in the freedom that Jesus died for me to have.

So from my understanding, one of the evidences of the power of God working in us is the development of the fruits of the Spirit in our lives.  This is totally the work of the Spirit, and not something we can do on our own, no matter how hard we try.  But we can ask for it.  And we can partner with God, submitting to whatever it is He’s doing in our lives to develop this “fruit.”  To this end, I’ve been studying these fruits of the Spirit recently, and was deeply moved by a sermon in Pastor Michael Todd’s series “Fruitfull.”  What follows are my notes on his sermon, Your Joy Will Overflow.  And I’ll link the YouTube video of the sermon itself at the end.

The Holy Spirit is supposed to DO something in our lives. God gives us the Holy Spirit so that we actually develop these fruits in our lives.  He helps us to love those who hate us.  To have peace when everything around us is crumbling.  People freak out over politics or issues in the world today, and yes- things look dismal from some angles. But God is in control.  He is sovereign and He loves us.  We can rest in that and have peace.  We don’t have to get frazzled and messed up over the circumstances of our lives because the Holy Spirit is inside of us, working to bring us peace.

Do you act like you believe what you SAY you believe?

The JOY of the Lord is our strength.  Joy is the fuel to propel us through life when it’s hard.

But if we look at a lot of Christians’ lives, they’re not full of joy.  They’re full of worry and doubt and frustration. Happiness is dependent on circumstances.  We can never control that.  Joy is unmovable.  It’s so much deeper than happiness.  Your whole world can fall apart, and you can still have joy. So what is this joy? Let’s look at Webster’s definition…

A feeling of pleasure or happiness?  Nope, that’s not enough.  Paul and Silas sang worship songs while they were in chains in jail.  Something on the inside enabled them to have joy and glorify God despite their circumstance.  Job lost everything.  He didn’t feel good.  He wasn’t happy. But he said “Blessed be the name of the Lord.  The Lord gives and He takes away.”

The cross wasn’t a place of pleasure or happiness.  But Jesus was focused on the joy He knew was coming.  God is the One who can give us joy in the middle of the hardest situations.  Our feelings are fleeting.  How often have we changed our minds in our lives?  And what’s pleasurable for us is not always profitable for us. So what was the joy that Jesus was focused on, if it doesn’t line up with Webster’s definition?

Joy is not a feeling.  It’s a heart posture.  It’s not natural to us.  It’s SUPERnatural.  It’s a byproduct of the Holy Spirit.  That’s why when we spend time with God, when we pray, when we come into His house… He begins to work this out in us.

Joy comes from having a fixed perspective on Jesus.  You can’t have joy if your focus keeps changing.  We focus on whatever gives us feelings of pleasure and happiness at any given moment… a certain person, a group’s approval, an amount of money, a fun experience, drugs, food, relationships… and then when our feelings inevitably change, we’re unhappy again, and switch our focus to the next thing.

As the Spirit develops the fruits in us, this love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control… it shines like a light in the darkness. Others are drawn to it. On some level, they know that they, too, need this light to illuminate their lives.

This joy, this light, His joy, cannot be taken away from us.  The world didn’t give it, and they can’t take it away.  The reason they can’t give it is because they don’t have it.  Believers are no better than someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus, but He is working in us.  He came so that we would live life to the full.  That we would be fruit-FULL.

God’s got it.  And I trust Him.  This is our anchor.

When I lose my job, when I’m left at the altar, when my kids are acting crazy, when the economy implodes, when my kids are faced with sickness… God’s got it. And I trust Him.

When I’m faced with a lifetime of chronic illness, when my family falls apart, when my parents get sick, when life doesn’t feel fair… God’s got it.  And I trust Him.

A situation can come, and I’m chillin’. Cause God’s got it.  And I trust Him.

Are my feelings hurt? Yeah.

Am I uncomfortable? Yeah.

Is my happiness up and down? Yeah.

But I still have joy.  Cause God’s got it.  And I trust Him.

I don’t care what comes. Nothing is bigger than Him.  He’s got you.  He’s got your kids.  He’s got your job.  When you KNOW that, it doesn’t matter what comes. KNOW that He’s going to take care of you.

Joy is ONLY Jesus-generated.  It’s not external. It can only come from the work of the Holy Spirit inside you.

Some of us have got it twisted.  We thing WE’RE the source.  We don’t have any ability to make anything happen. We are just a RE-source. But when we remove ourselves from God, we cut ourselves off from THE Source. Whatever we do without God will not last.  Because then WE have to sustain it.

God’s like, “Are you ready for Me to step in?  Cause I can take care of this, you know? Easy. With my pinky.” But God is a gentleman. He only steps in when He’s asked.

Once a seed is planted, it has to stay in the ground and go through a process before it will bear fruit.  We don’t pluck it up every day and plant a new one. How do we expect to bear fruit if we won’t stay planted? Pull up an orange tree every day, every month, every YEAR… and see how much fruit it gives.  We can’t be in and out of our walk with Jesus.  We have to stay planted in Him to be able to bear fruit.

Jesus paid for a 5 star meal, and all we’re getting is bread. There’s steak waiting for us.  We have to take full advantage of the life God wants to give us.  Joy is ours.

It’s hard to be joyful naturally when we’re hungry.  Same goes for spiritual hunger. God’s word is spiritual food. We need to eat, so we don’t get HANGRY.  We’re so malnourished that we think this is normal. The word of God satisfies.

Joy is not an option.  It’s an outcome.  An outcome of the richness of our relationship with God.

You want joy? Get to know Jesus.

It’s an outcome of KNOWING Jesus. If you want that thing that nobody can steal from you? If you want that thing that’s better than happiness? Know Jesus. And in the face of hard circumstances and broken situations, you’ll be able to stand. People will see the power of God in your life and He will be glorified.

No matter how dark our lives get, He sends joy constantly.  No matter how long the night feels, joy is coming in the morning.  And many times, joy comes in our MOURNING. When we experience loss and tragedy. But God brings joy in the midst of it.  Unexplainable joy.

Because He’s got it.  And we trust Him.

The Body Systems and How to Support Them

If you know my story, then you know I’ve worked very hard to learn how to support my body’s natural healing processes. It’s been a long road, and there are lots of pieces to the puzzle, but in this post I will share many of those pieces with you, along with some education about the various body systems, which is important for you to have some general knowledge about if you intend to translate this information into something you can use for yourself or someone you love.

I’m so grateful to have found options to address my everyday issues that are simultaneously supporting proper functioning of my body systems. I’m not a scientist or a doctor, and most of this information was pulled from Wikipedia and a fantastic little book called “Now What?” that correlates the body systems with products that help them work properly, but many of these suggestions have played a huge part in helping me heal, and I’m praying they’ll help you, too.

First up, the Circulatory System…


The circulatory system, also called the cardiovascular system or the vascular system, is an organ system that permits blood to circulate and transport nutrients (such as amino acids and electrolytes), oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones, and blood cells to and from the cells in the body to provide nourishment and help in fighting diseases, stabilize temperature and pH, and maintain homeostasis.

Vitality Essential Oils that support the cardiovascular system include: Copaiba, Frankincense, Lavender, Cinnamon Bark, Marjoram, JuvaCleanse, and Longevity.

Supplements that support the cardiovascular system include: Longevity, Detoxzyme, Ningxia Red, Master Formula, MindWise, MegaCal, AgilEase, Super B, and OmegaGize3.


The nervous system coordinates our actions by transmitting signals to and from different parts of its body. The nervous system detects environmental changes that impact the body, then works in tandem with the endocrine system to respond to such events. It consists of two main parts, the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS). The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord. The PNS consists mainly of nerves, which are enclosed bundles of the long fibers or axons, that connect the CNS to every other part of the body. Nerves that transmit signals from the brain are called motor or efferent nerves, while those nerves that transmit information from the body to the CNS are called sensory or afferent. Spinal nerves serve both functions and are called mixed nerves. The PNS is divided into three separate subsystems, the somatic, autonomic, and enteric nervous systems. Somatic nerves mediate voluntary movement. The autonomic nervous system is further subdivided into the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system is activated in cases of emergencies to mobilize energy, while the parasympathetic nervous system is activated when we are in a relaxed state. The enteric nervous system functions to control the gastrointestinal system. Both autonomic and enteric nervous systems function involuntarily. Nerves that exit from the cranium are called cranial nerves while those exiting from the spinal cord are called spinal nerves. The nervous system is greatly affected by the digestive system.

Vitality Essential Oils that support the Nervous System: Frankincense, Lavender, Rosemary, Lemon.

Supplements that support the Nervous system: Ningxia Red, Ningxia Nitro, MindWise, OmegaGize3, MegaCal, Mineral Essence, Super C Tablets/Chewables, MutliGreens, Master Formula.

Complementary Products: Reconnect Kit, Melissa, Helichrysum, Clarity, Brain Power, Super B, Cedarwood, Sleep Essence.


The lymphatic system is part of the vascular system and an important part of the immune system, comprising a network of lymphatic vessels that carry a clear fluid called lymph (from Latin, lympha meaning “water”) directionally towards the heart. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system is not a closed system. The human circulatory system processes an average of 20 liters of blood per day through capillary filtration, which removes plasma while leaving the blood cells. Roughly 17 litres of the filtered plasma are reabsorbed directly into the blood vessels, while the remaining three litres remain in the interstitial fluid. One of the main functions of the lymph system is to provide an accessory return route to the blood for the surplus three litres.

The lymphatic system is one of the major detox pathways that must be supported when you are working to clear your body of toxins.

Vitality Essential Oils that support the Lymphatic/Immune system: Thieves, Frankincense, Lavender, Lemon, Digize, Oregano.

Supplements that support the Lymphatic/Immune System: Ningxia Red, ImmuPro Chewable, Inner Defense, Life 9, Super C Tablets/Chewables, Longevity, Digest & Cleanse, MultiGreens, Super B.

Complimentary Products: ImmuPower, AromaLife, Raven, En-R-Gee, Exodus II, Sacred Frankincense, Purification


The immune system is a host defense system comprising many biological structures and processes within an organism that protects against disease. To function properly, an immune system must detect a wide variety of agents, known as pathogens, from viruses to parasitic worms, and distinguish them from the organism’s own healthy tissue. In many species, the immune system can be classified into subsystems, such as the innate immune system versus the adaptive immune system, or humoral immunity versus cell-mediated immunity. In humans, the blood–brain barrier, blood–cerebrospinal fluid barrier, and similar fluid–brain barriers separate the peripheral immune system from the neuroimmune system, which protects the brain.

Pathogens can rapidly evolve and adapt, and thereby avoid detection and neutralization by the immune system; however, multiple defense mechanisms have also evolved to recognize and neutralize pathogens. Even simple unicellular organisms such as bacteria possess a rudimentary immune system in the form of enzymes that protect against bacteriophage infections. Other basic immune mechanisms evolved in ancient eukaryotes and remain in their modern descendants, such as plants and invertebrates. These mechanisms include phagocytosis, antimicrobial peptides called defensins, and the complement system. Jawed vertebrates, including humans, have even more sophisticated defense mechanisms, including the ability to adapt over time to recognize specific pathogens more efficiently. Adaptive (or acquired) immunity creates immunological memory after an initial response to a specific pathogen, leading to an enhanced response to subsequent encounters with that same pathogen. This process of acquired immunity is the basis of vaccination.

Disorders of the immune system can result in autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases and cancer. Immunodeficiency occurs when the immune system is less active than normal, resulting in recurring and life-threatening infections. In humans, immunodeficiency can either be the result of a genetic disease such as severe combined immunodeficiency, acquired conditions such as HIV/AIDS, or the use of immunosuppressive medication. In contrast, autoimmunity results from a hyperactive immune system attacking normal tissues as if they were foreign organisms. Common autoimmune diseases include Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus type 1, and systemic lupus erythematosus. Immunology covers the study of all aspects of the immune system.

Vitality Essential Oils that support the immune system include: Thieves, Frankincense, Lavender, Lemon, DiGize, Oregano.

Supplements that support the immune system include: Ningxia Red, ImmuPro Chewable, Inner Defense, Life 9, Super C Tablets/Chewables, Longevity, Digest & Cleanse, MultiGreens, Super B.

Complementary Products: ImmuPower, AromaLife, Raven, En-R-Gee, Exodus II, Sacred Frankincense, Purification, Clove.

Raindrop Oils: Oregano, Thyme, Basil, Cypress, Marjoram, Wintergreen, Peppermint.


The muscular system is an organ system consisting of skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscles. It permits movement of the body, maintains posture, and circulates blood throughout the body. The muscular system in vertebrates is controlled through the nervous system, although some muscles (such as the cardiac muscle) can be completely autonomous. Together with the skeletal system it forms the musculoskeletal system, which is responsible for movement of the human body.


The skeletal system serves six major functions: support, movement, protection, production of blood cells, storage of minerals and endocrine regulation.


The skeleton provides the framework which supports the body and maintains its shape. The pelvis, associated ligaments and muscles provide a floor for the pelvic structures. Without the rib cages, costal cartilages, and intercostal muscles, the lungs would collapse.


The joints between bones allow movement, some allowing a wider range of movement than others, e.g. the ball and socket joint allows a greater range of movement than the pivot joint at the neck. Movement is powered by skeletal muscles, which are attached to the skeleton at various sites on bones. Muscles, bones, and joints provide the principal mechanics for movement, all coordinated by the nervous system.

It is believed that the reduction of human bone density in prehistoric times reduced the agility and dexterity of human movement. Shifting from hunting to agriculture has caused human bone density to reduce significantly.


The skeleton helps to protect our many vital internal organs from being damaged.

The skull protects the brain

The vertebrae protect the spinal cord.

The rib cage, spine, and sternum protect the lungs, heart and major blood vessels.

Blood cell production

The skeleton is the site of haematopoiesis, the development of blood cells that takes place in the bone marrow. In children, haematopoiesis occurs primarily in the marrow of the long bones such as the femur and tibia. In adults, it occurs mainly in the pelvis, cranium, vertebrae, and sternum.


The bone matrix can store calcium and is involved in calcium metabolism, and bone marrow can store iron in ferritin and is involved in iron metabolism. However, bones are not entirely made of calcium, but a mixture of chondroitin sulfate and hydroxyapatite, the latter making up 70% of a bone. Hydroxyapatite is in turn composed of 39.8% of calcium, 41.4% of oxygen, 18.5% of phosphorus, and 0.2% of hydrogen by mass. Chondroitin sulfate is a sugar made up primarily of oxygen and carbon.

Endocrine regulation

Bone cells release a hormone called osteocalcin, which contributes to the regulation of blood sugar (glucose) and fat deposition. Osteocalcin increases both the insulin secretion and sensitivity, in addition to boosting the number of insulin-producing cells and reducing stores of fat.

Vitality Essential Oils that support the Musculoskeletal system include: Copaiba, Frankincense, Peppermint, and Lemongrass.

Supplements that support the Musculoskeletal system include: Ningxia Red, AgilEase, PowerGize, OmegaGize3, SuperCal, SuperCal Plus, Super B, MultiGreens, Master Formula, and AminoWise.

Complimentary Products: Copaiba, PanAway, MindWise, Deep Relief, Wintergreen, Cool Azul, Aroma Siez, Dorado Azul, Ortho Sport, Pure Protein Complete.


The human digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract plus the accessory organs of digestion (the tongue, salivary glands, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder). In this system, the process of digestion has many stages, the first of which starts in the mouth. Digestion involves the breakdown of food into smaller and smaller components, until they can be absorbed and assimilated into the body.

The digestive system is often the root of many seemingly unrelated health issues. Immune function, emotional health, etc. can often be traced back to dysfunction of this system.

Vitality Essential Oils that support the digestive system include: Peppermint, DiGize, Nutmeg, Lemon, JuvaCleanse, Tarragon, JuvaFlex, GLF, Ginger, and Tangerine.

Supplements that support the digestive system include: Ningxia Red, JuvaTone, Sulfurzyme, Digest & Cleanse, Cleansing Trio, 5 Day Nutritive Cleanse, ComforTone, Essentialzyme, Life 9, Detoxzyme, and Balance Complete.


The urinary system, also known as the renal system or urinary tract, consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and the urethra. The purpose of the urinary system is to eliminate waste from the body, regulate blood volume and blood pressure, control levels of electrolytes and metabolites, and regulate blood pH. The urinary tract is the body’s drainage system for the eventual removal of urine. The kidneys have an extensive blood supply via the renal arteries which leave the kidneys via the renal vein. Each kidney consists of functional units called nephrons. Following filtration of blood and further processing, wastes (in the form of urine) exit the kidney via the ureters, tubes made of smooth muscle fibres that propel urine towards the urinary bladder, where it is stored and subsequently expelled from the body by urination (voiding). The female and male urinary system are very similar, differing only in the length of the urethra.

1. Human urinary system

2. Kidney

3. Renal pelvis

4. Ureter

5. Urinary bladder

6. Urethra. (Left side with frontal section)

7. Adrenal gland


8. Renal artery and vein

9. Inferior vena cava

10. Abdominal aorta

11. Common iliac artery and vein


12. Liver

13. Large intestine

14. Pelvis

Vitality Essential Oils that support the Urinary/Renal system include: lemon, frankincense, Digize, GLF, grapefruit, and oregano.

Supplements that support the urinary system include: Ningxia Red, K&B, Digest & Cleanse, Inner Defense, AlkaLime, Balance Complete, Mineral Essence, ImmuPro, AgilEase, and Essentialzyme.


The respiratory system is a biological system consisting of specific organs and structures used for gas exchange. Gas exchange in the lungs occurs in millions of small air sacs called alveoli. These microscopic air sacs have a very rich blood supply, thus bringing the air into close contact with the blood. These air sacs communicate with the external environment via a system of airways, or hollow tubes, of which the largest is the trachea, which branches in the middle of the chest into the two main bronchi. These enter the lungs where they branch into progressively narrower secondary and tertiary bronchi that branch into numerous smaller tubes, the bronchioles. It is the bronchioles that open into the microscopic alveoli. Air has to be pumped from the environment into the alveoli by the process of breathing which involves the muscles of respiration.

Vitality Essential Oils that support the respiratory system include: Frankincense, peppermint, thieves, and lemon.

Supplements that support the respiratory system include Ningxia Red, ICP, MultiGreens, ImmuPro, Inner Defense, Life 9, Detoxzyme, Essentialzyme, Super C Tablets/Chewables, and Sulfurzyme.

Complimentary Products include: Myrrh, RC, Raven, Ravintsara, Breathe Again, Eucalyptus Blue, Eucalyptus Radiata, Sacred Mountain, Palo Santo, Dorado Azul, Thieves Kit/Line/Oral Care, Purification, Myrtle, Rosemary, German Chamomile, Melissa, and JuvaPower.


The endocrine system is a chemical messenger system consisting of hormones, the group of glands of an organism that carry those hormones directly into the circulatory system to be carried towards distant target organs, and the feedback loops of homeostasis that the hormones drive. In humans, the major endocrine glands are the thyroid gland and the adrenal glands. In vertebrates, the hypothalamus is the neural control center for all endocrine systems. The field of study dealing with the endocrine system and its disorders is endocrinology, a branch of internal medicine.

The major endocrine glands are the pineal, pituitary, thyroid, adrenals, pancreas, ovaries (in women), and testes (in men).


Vitality Essential Oils that support the endocrine system in men include: lemon, frankincense, longevity, GLF, and nutmeg.

Supplements that support the endocrine system in men include: EndoGize, PowerGize, Thyromin, Super B, Ningxia Red, Master Formula, and Prostate Health.

Complimentary products: Shutran, Valor, and Mister.


Vitality Essential Oils that support the endocrine system in women include: lemon, frankincense, SclarEssence, and sage.

Supplements that support the endocrine system in women include: Ningxia Red, EndoGize, PowerGize, Thyromin, CortiStop, PD 80/20, Super B, Master Formula, and FemiGen.

Complimentary Products: Progessence Plus Serum, clary sage, Dragon Time, Sensation, Lady Sclareol.


The integumentary system comprises the skin, hair, and nails, acting to protect the body from various kinds of damage, such as loss of water or abrasion from outside. It has a variety of additional functions; it may serve to waterproof, cushion, and protect the deeper tissues, excrete wastes, and regulate temperature, and is the attachment site for sensory receptors to detect pain, sensation, pressure, and temperature. In most land vertebrates (that’s us! Lol) with significant exposure to sunlight, the integumentary system also provides for vitamin D synthesis.

Vitality Essential Oils that support the Integumentary/Exocrine system include: Lemon, Frankincense, Lavender, Rosemary, Carrot Seed, JuvaCleanse, Basil, and JuvaFlex.

Supplements that support the Integumentary system include: Sulfurzyme, Master Formula, AgilEase, Super B, Ningxia Red, Essentialzyme, Detoxzyme, ComforTone, and Life 9.

And that’s the basics on the body systems. I pray this empowers you to do your own research, be your own advocate, and take charge of your health and wellness! You have options! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Daily Harvest Review

If you’ve ever clicked on anything related to healthy eating, I’m sure Daily Harvest has popped up in your social media feeds. You know how the inter-webs magically assess your interests and toss applicable ads your way. Well, Daily Harvest was showing up in my feed daily. The cute little paper cups, clean black and white marketing, and colorful fruits and veggies… throw in a video of a chick in an NYC high rise blending up a quick smoothie before she rushes out the door to go about her day in the city… and I was sold. (After 3 years in Chicago and 4 in NYC, I had my fill of big city life, but it still makes me nostalgic.)

All of this combined with my kitchen still being a wreck as we wait on repairs due to insurance issues after the mold fiasco, I decided I needed an easy, convenient way to get some veggies and superfoods into my system. So I ordered a box… a random mix of smoothies, soups, “activated” breakfasts, overnight oats, and harvest bowls.

Carrot + Chia smoothie = awesome! Kinda like carrot cake in smoothie form. Super yummy.

Apple + greens smoothie = yum! (Though if you don’t like the taste of kale or green juices, you probably won’t go for this one. I loved it though.)

Coconut + carrot curry soup= meh. A little too spicy for me, and was lacking depth of flavor. Would probably have been better if I’d added broth instead of water.

The chai + coconut smoothie has been my favorite so far. It was absolutely delicious, filling, sweet, and I never would have guessed there was zucchini and cauliflower in it! I’ll definitely get more of this one.

I’ve also really enjoyed the harvest bowls I’ve tried… especially the cauliflower rice + pesto. They’re filling and flavorful. The cup says to put in a microwave safe bowl before microwaving, but I just stick it in there in the cup. So far, so good.

I’m doing a sunup-sundown liquid fast right now, so I’m plowing through these smoothies. Decided to make my own version with ingredients I had on hand… bananas, raspberries, blueberries, and spinach, then threw in some Balance Complete and Super C. Throwing these pre-made smoothies in the freezer until I can get around to making (and affording) another DH order.

Bottom line, at $7 a pop, they’re expensive to have on a regular basis. But if you’re doing a detox or need inspiration for how to do the healthy eating thing without slaving in the kitchen for hours every day, this is a great option. If you want to try Daily Harvest yourself, here’s my referral code, and I think you can get 3 free cups.

Young Living Flash Sale

Y’all! The Starter Kits, full of toxin-free amazingness that has had such an impact on my healing journey, that are already so deeply discounted (over $350 of life changing goodies for $160) just went 10% off from now till this Friday, May 25! This is incredible! It brings the cost down to $144. Watch this 10 minute video where my munchkin and I break down the basics for you…

Hit me up with your questions, or click this link to enroll!

First He giveth, then He taketh away…

I’ve been going through some stuff lately. It started with something big (my mom’s cancer diagnosis), which I’ve had complete peace about. And she’s doing great. But then all these little unrelated things started happening… my dishwasher broke… pipe busted in the wall of my condo leading to mold, weeks of remediation, multiple failed air quality inspections… my brand new washer/dryer broke… my car is making crazy sounds and seems like it’s ready to call it quits… and, worst of all… I mean, this one’s horrible… brace yourselves… my WiFi isn’t working. The horror!

Now. My mom is doing well. My health is great. My kid is great. I’m surrounded by loving, sympathetic people who offer me their homes, cars, washing machines… these are all just minor inconveniences. And I’ve been through so much more in my life. Seasons of despair and devastation. Seasons of tremendous loss and grief. Seasons full of fear and uncertainty. This is nothing compared to that.

So why is it affecting me so much? Why do I feel like I’m in survival mode? Why do I feel emotionally drained and that I have nothing to offer those around me who are hurting and need encouragement?

I’m not sure. But over the last few years, I’ve learned that our emotions don’t always have a whole lot to do with what’s happening at this moment. They can be triggered by what’s happening now, but rise up from somewhere much deeper, emotion from some moment in the distant past that was never sufficiently dealt with.

I woke up this morning with a Queens of the Stone Age song in my head, First It Giveth.

It’s a song about drugs and how they influence the music creation process. Not helpful to my situation. So why could I not get it out of my head?

The chorus is a distorted fun-house mirror reflection of a verse from one of my favorite books of the Bible, and the one I identified with most during my first season of confusion and grief over the loss of my health. Job.

At this point in Job’s story, he has lost everything. He doesn’t know about the conversations that have taken place between Satan and God. He doesn’t know that he is being tested. That he has been chosen because of his faithfulness to endure this test for his own good and God’s glory. He doesn’t know that 42 chapters from this moment, he will be blessed with twice as much as he had before. All he knows is that God has taken everything that ever meant anything to him. (Well, he still has his wife. But she’s not exactly encouraging. “Curse God and die!” is her advice.)

Throughout the book, Job has some questions. He struggles. His friends aren’t always helpful. But in the end, God shows up and reminds Job who He is. (The omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Creator of all that is, ever has been, or ever will be!) And He lovingly puts Job in his place. (“Who are you to question me? Where were you when the foundations of the earth were laid?”) Job is humbled, continues pressing forward in faithful obedience, and ends up being an amazing example for his faithless friends, his hateful wife, and everyone who has heard the story for thousands of years.

So what does this mean for me? I’m not really mad that God has taken away my dishwasher, my washer/dryer, my entire kitchen, or my WiFi. I’m still mad about the loss of something much more important to me. A loss I’ve grieved, and fought to forgive. A loss I may not ever truly get over. But God is using these seemingly insignificant inconveniences to pull back another layer of the healing onion… another layer of unforgiveness, anger, and bitterness that needs to be peeled off and discarded.

Because He is good. He is good, and He is all the things He claims to be in Job’s story. He is all powerful and sovereign over EVERYTHING. He knows everything from the thought I’m going to think 7 minutes from now to what the mitochondria in the cell of the frog in my backyard was doing 20 seconds ago. He is EVERYWHERE all at once, and in every time. He can STILL affect my past, and He is already in my future. And He loves me. He loves me. This Perfect Creator. This Holy God. He loves me.

So if He took something away that I desperately didn’t want to lose… no matter how much it still hurts, no matter how much I want it back, no matter that I can’t make sense of it with my limited understanding and perspective. He is God. He is good. And He loves me. I can trust Him.

He giveth and He taketh away.

Now, if He’ll just give me my WiFi back so I can publish this post…

Inner Circle

I just finished watching (and fervently taking notes on) a sermon by Michael Todd of Transformation Church.  It was incredibly convicting for me, and also confirmed a lot of what God has been showing me in various ways over the last few years.  I’m going to relay some of my notes for you here, and it relates to the content of this blog because emotional and spiritual healing and continuous growth is vital to the healing of our bodies.  Jesus isn’t interested in healing our bodies and leaving us spiritually dead and in bondage to emotions and tendencies to sins that enslave us.  For me, facing serious illness opened my eyes to the reality of my need for Him, and He continues to use this illness to remind me of my dependency on Him, to remind me that I have limitations, but He does not.  And He has placed a purpose on my life that requires freedom from limitations, and I can only find that freedom in Him, through Him.

To make progress toward this purpose, this calling He’s placed on me, I need an inner circle.  A small, core group of people who know Him as well as or better than I do.  People who know the REAL me.  Everyone has blind spots.  Who do I have in my life who can speak things into my life even when I don’t want to hear it?  I have learned the value of having right relationships that will lead me toward purpose.  Not people who necessarily have the same interests as me, but people who point me toward the interests of Christ.

The goal for every person is to reach purpose.  To fulfill God’s will in our lives.

The Circle of Purpose

We need 4 things to live out God’s purpose for our lives…

1. God.  We need an active relationship with God.

We can do good things without God (charity, community work) but we cannot do God’s specific will for our lives if we’ve excluded Him from the equation.

2.  Gifts.  We need to discover and cultivate the specific gifts God has given each one of us.

Sometimes we get so caught up in a profession rather than purpose that we think our gift is our profession.  It’s not.  It may be related.  But it may not.  Gifts can be a tendency to be organized, a love of giving, an ability to communicate well… whatever our gifts are, it’s our responsibility to develop what He has given us.

3.  Calling.  We need to intentionally use our specific gifts to impact God’s Kingdom.

Your gifts are not for you.  They’re given to you because you have a calling to answer for the Kingdom.  God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips those who answer the call.  Once He has your “yes,” He begins to mold you, to change your desires, to shave off the rough edges.  Every day, we must wake up and say “yes.” Answer His call.

4. Godly Community.  We need an Inner Circle.

Adam had Eve.  David had Jonathan.  Jesus had Peter, James, and John.  Who gets to see the things that nobody else gets to see unless you show them?  Who gets to say, “Come here, your attitude’s bad.  You’re too busy.  You’re stressed out and that’s when you fall into sin.  And I know that because I’ve been your friend for 4 years and I’m in your inner circle.”  You cannot complete your purpose if you don’t have godly community.

If Jesus needed godly community, what’s your excuse?

“Well, I’m busy.” Jesus had to save the whole world.

“Well, I don’t like that kind of people.” Then that’s why you REALLY need godly community because you’ve had bad examples of what that really looks like and it’s a dysfunction in your heart.

“Well, I have community.” But what you need is GODLY community.  You need people whose direction is set toward Jesus.  Because if you don’t have those people, then we’re only moved by “our emotions and what we feel today and don’t feel today and the vibe is wrong…” Forget our vibe.  A vibe can be wrong at any time.  Jesus is the only thing that stays the same.  His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  He will be the One that lifts us up.  We need people that are set on the Thing that we are set on.

Can you name your godly community? Communication with those people must be regular, consistent, and honest.  This is God’s plan for expansion in your life and His plan for the church.

“There’s no I in TEAM, but there is an I in ISOLATION.”

And that’s where the enemy wants to keep every single one of us.  Yeah, you pray.  Yeah, you worship.  But you’re alone.  According to the Bible, you’re in real trouble.  Nobody even knows what you’re struggling with.  They don’t know how to pray for you.  And they can’t force their way in.  You have to let them in.  Jesus doesn’t pry Himself into your life, you have to invite Him in.

This is why pornography can get such a grip on people.  It’s hidden.  You’re fighting it alone.  This is why marriages suffer. Because we pretend everything’s perfect.  You need other couples who can stand back to back with you, see your blind spots, and watch your back.

But we want to stand face to face.  We want to be around people who agree with us, who see eye to eye with us, who are “like minded.”  But that’s not helpful.  We need people who see what we don’t see.  Am I dealing in pride?  Anger? Am I getting money hungry? What do I not see? Where am I vulnerable and unaware?

They completed each other in purpose.  There was no competition.  When you are living out the methods of Jesus in community, you don’t have to tell people about Jesus.  They see Him in your life.

The church has it backwards… you don’t need a pastor to pray for you.  Get your friend to pray for you.  Worship together.  Chill together.  Pray together.  Multiply.

God’s plan was never for you to be “me” focused, but “we” focused.

Who has access?  Who can come when you’re not expecting them? Who can call you out in love?  If you don’t have godly community, you are going to miss God’s purpose for your life.

If you want to check out this sermon for yourself, here’s the link. But get ready to be convicted and take a closer look at all your relationships.

Flare Nutrition

It’s so hard to stay fueled with decent nutrition when you have a mouth full of lesions. I haven’t had a bad flare in a very long time, but I also can’t remember the last time my mouth was completely sore-free. The last few weeks I have been struggling with a low-key flare that seems to rise and fall, but never quite leave me alone.

I’m grateful to have more diverse nutrition options now. I’ve been drinking tons of bone broth (chock full of protein!) Loving the LonoLife one when I don’t have the time or energy to make it myself.

And lots of smoothies, alternating between Young Living’s Balance Complete and Pure Protein Complete (Vanilla Spice and Chocolate).

I vary the ingredients I add to it, and often just do the protein powder and almond milk when I don’t have the energy to get creative. I add a splash of NingXia Red to the vanilla powders for an extra dose of antioxidants and a yummy berry flavor. Seriously- the vanilla on its own tastes like a vanilla Frappuccino from Starbucks. Add NingXia and it tastes like a strawberry one. So. Freakin. Yummy.

This berries and cream flavor is amazing in oatmeal as well. Oatmeal is another food that’s easy to eat during a mini-flare, and it satisfies my sweet tooth.

Balance Complete, Pure Protein, and NingXia Red have helped me maintain better nutrition while my body works out whatever is triggering the systemic inflammation causing these small flares. I know I really need to tighten up what I eat when I’m not flaring, and get closer to how I was eating in the earlier days of this blog. I know these flares would be even less severe and less frequent if I cleaned up my eating overall. I know this. But am I really ready to do something about it?

Basics of Essential Oils in 15 minutes

My condo is being torn apart because a water leak in the wall led to a mold infestation, my life is insane, I haven’t washed my hair in several days, but y’all need to know about essential oils, so I made a quick video to break down the basics.

Also, baby girl invents a genius diy diffuser in this video. Watch for the original prototype whizzing by my head as I try to teach y’all about oils.

You need this stuff. Contact whoever shared this page with you or click this link when you’re ready to ditch the toxic mess and switch it out for something that will support healthy function of all your body systems. This will change your life. I’m not even kidding.

An Introduction to Essential Oils: the audio version



My Story


The Toxin Free Life


What Are Essential Oils


Seed to Seal

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How to Use Essential Oils


The Starter Kit Oils

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Ningxia Red


Safety Tips


The Starter Kits

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Essential Rewards


Start Your Journey


Contact the person who shared this page with you, or Click this link to get started!  And congratulations!  These little bottles are gonna rock your world!

An Introduction to Essential Oils

Hey there! Welcome to my Introduction to Essential Oils. This post will introduce you to everything you need to know to begin experiencing the power of essential oils for yourself. I’ve been experimenting with essential oils for 6 years, and have been using Young Living exclusively for 5. There’s a huge difference in quality between different brands, but I’ll explain more about that later. First, let me tell you a little of my story and why this is so important to me.


In 2010, I was diagnosed with an extremely rare autoimmune vasculitis called Behcet’s Disease. This disease can be incredibly debilitating and destructive, as it causes inflammation in the blood vessels. That means lesions can form anywhere in the body, especially soft tissue like the mouth, eyes, and genitals. Some people have involvement in their organs and brain, causing seizures and strokes. Thankfully, that has not been the case for me. I’ve had several manifestations of the disease, but the most problematic for me have been the oral lesions. I almost always have sores in my mouth. These vary from small ulcers like a cold sore, to huge deep lesions that cover most of my tongue or lips and have made it impossible to eat for weeks at a time.

In 2013, I was hospitalized for a week with a bad flare that had moved into my throat and began to restrict my breathing. During that hospital stay, they saved my life by pumping me full of steroids, antibiotics, antivirals, and many other medications in an attempt to find something that would stop the inflammation. Eventually, something worked, though no one was really sure what it was that did the trick. Or even if the flare just subsided on its own.  Leaving the hospital, I was instructed to slowly wean myself off of the steroids. I followed their directions, but each time I tried to taper off the medication, my body retaliated by throwing me into another severe flare. After 2 months of unsuccessful taper attempts, my rheumatologist told me I needed to use a chemotherapy drug to assist my body in getting off the steroid. I said, “Ok, how long will I need to take this chemo drug once I get off the steroid?” He said, “Tamara, the disease you have is a chronic illness. It isn’t going away. You’ll need to be on this drug the rest of your life. You’ll need yearly liver biopsies, but otherwise should be able to live a relatively normal life.” Liver biopsies? Take a chemo drug for the rest of my life? I was 33 at the time with a small child, this felt like giving up. Giving in to a lifetime of clearly toxic medication that could destroy my liver among other things and no hope of ever being truly healed, just managing symptoms with band-aid solutions enough to live a so-called “relatively normal life”. I would do that if it was my last resort, but I didn’t feel I was at that point yet. There had to be another option. But when I asked, my rheumatologist told me this was it. Lifetime chemo was my only option.

I left his office and called the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine from my car in the parking lot. The next 8 months involved lots of dietary experimentation, tons of supplements, and some pretty major lifestyle changes to eliminate toxins from my home and environment. The Behcet’s Fighter blog emerged as a way to track my efforts at recovery, provide a measure of accountability, and, should I experience success and find significant healing, it would serve as a record of how that happened.  With the guidance of my integrative doctor (trained in both allopathic and naturopathic medicine) we did a lot of work on healing my gut and calming my immune system. It took 8 months, but I was able to get off the steroids without replacing it with the chemo drug. Since then, I have been able to avoid all long term use of prescription medications.  I am beyond grateful that God led me down a different path from the one my rheumatologist had laid out for me.  There may come a time when I have to take a toxic, but life saving medication long term.  But that day was not 5 years ago, and that day is not today.

One piece of the puzzle in my healing process involved eliminating toxins from my environment. This is where essential oils come in. There are so many toxic chemicals that we slather on our bodies, spray in the air, and shovel into our mouths on a daily basis. Many of these chemicals are hormone disrupters or carcinogens, and can trigger allergies and inflammatory stress in the body. When I found that these powerful, therapeutic grade essential oils could address many of my everyday issues without toxic chemicals, I was intrigued. As I began to learn and experience the “side effects” of essential oils- like if I use peppermint to support my digestive system, it can simultaneously be supporting my respiratory system as well, or if I’m using lavender to support seasonal discomfort, it’s also working to calm my emotions and prepare my body for better rest in the evening, I began to realize that these little bottles of awesomeness were actually supporting my body’s natural healing processes. So I began to make the switch and slowly trade toxic chemical laden products in my home for simpler, cleaner products and essential oils.

So how is this possible? Do these things really work? Well, let me begin by explaining what essential oils actually are.


In Genesis 1:29, God says, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food.”  He created the plants with us in mind before He created us.  He knew what our bodies would need to flourish and He made the plants to meet those needs.  Ezekiel 47:12 says “Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”  Essential oils are the lifeblood of these precious plants, and each plant’s special properties are highly concentrated in every bottle.

Because of this extreme concentration, it’s vital that the oil is pure, organic, and unadulterated with chemical fertilizers, solvents, or fillers that can make it less effective at best, and downright dangerous at worst.

I used other brands of essential oils for a year before switching exclusively to Young Living.  I thought I could do this natural thing cheaper and get the same results.  It just didn’t happen.  I began to think essential oils didn’t work for me.  Every now and then they seemed to make a little bit of a difference, and they smelled nice, but they didn’t work well enough for me to forego the toxic products I was using instead.  And then I had what I call my “conversion experience” with Purification, one of Young Living’s most popular blends, and I began to experiment more with these true therapeutic grade oils from YL.  That’s when things started happening.

So what’s the difference?  Why do YL oils work when other’s don’t?  It’s a matter of quality.  And YL ensures this incredibly high quality by adhering to the strict standards of their Seed to Seal promise and utilizing the expertise of those on the Scientific Advisory Council.  Check out this website for more details about what Seed to Seal is all about.


This system of checks and balances throughout the process of growing, harvesting, and distilling the oils provides assurance that what is delivered to your door is, indeed, therapeutic quality, and it’s going to do what it’s supposed to do.  Essential oils have various chemical constituents that affect it’s efficacy.  True, therapeutic grade lavender has over 187 properties (chemical constituents) while commercial grade (non-therapeutic grade) has only 4 properties.  No wonder my oils from the health food store weren’t working!

Now, once you’ve got some good, truly therapeutic grade oils in your hands, what do you do with them?


Being able to safely ingest essential oils is one of the reasons why I experimented with YL oils in the first place.  I had some issues I wanted to address internally, but all the bottles I got from the health food store said “not for internal use.”  NAHA, one of the top aromatherapy schools in the US, doesn’t advocate essential oils for internal use because most oil companies don’t carry oils that have been cleared by the FDA as GRAS (generally regarded as safe).  Young Living has a line of Vitality oils identified as GRAS by the FDA and labeled specifically for the purpose of being used as a dietary supplement.  This opens up a whole new realm of uses for these little bottles of amazingness!


So, what are the best oils to get started? Young Living has put together a collection of 11 of the most versatile and commonly used oils for their Premium Starter Kit.  Here’s a rundown of each of those oils and why I love them.

Peppermint is great for digestive and respiratory support.  It’s also a good substitute for coffee.  A few sniffs straight from the bottle perk me up when I need to focus.  Here in Florida, flip flops are yearlong attire, but I love to use peppermint oil on my feet when I’m forced against my will to wear some other type of shoe.  It keeps ’em cool and minimizes the sweat factor.


Lavender is one of the gentlest essential oils.  It’s great for the skin and has a lovely fragrance.  I like to add a drop of lavender to my clothing steamer to infuse my clothes and get a little aromatherapy while I get chores done.  Mixed with distilled water in a glass spray bottle, it makes a luxurious linen spray.


Citrus oils support the body’s natural detoxification processes, and lemon is no exception.  It’s also a very affordable oil, so I diffuse this in my home almost constantly.  It’s so fresh!


Frankincense is a powerhouse support for many body systems.  I use it to keep me emotionally grounded and to create a focused environment during prayer and bible study.  Everyone knows the wise men gave baby Jesus frankincense, so I figure this must be what heaven smells like.


Like frankincense, copaiba is distilled from the resin of a tree.  I love the amplifying effects of this oil.  When I need to stretch or intensify the effects of another oil, I layer copaiba on top of it.


DiGize is my go-to for digestive support.  Over the past couple of years, I haven’t been as strict with my diet as I was in my early days of blogging.  DiGize helps minimize some of the repercussions of a very imperfect diet.


Thieves is one of Young Living’s most popular blends and is AMAZING for supporting the immune system.  YL carries an entire line of Thieves home and body care products that are tremendously effective and non-toxic.  Now when I clean mold from my bathroom tile, I’m simultaneously supporting my immune system!  It’s awesome!


R.C. is fantastic for respiratory support.  During the fall and winter months, I diffuse R.C. regularly overnight.  With 3 different types of eucalyptus, it helps me breathe easy throughout the night.  PanAway is an amazing blend of powerhouse oils. Clove has tremendous antioxidant properties. Helichrysum supports healthy blood flow. Wintergreen supports the circulatory system. And peppermint has an amplifying effect similar to copaiba, so it drives them all in and creates a synergistic blend that’s even more powerful than the individual oils are on their own.


Purification was created to neutralize odors, and it does a fantastic job of that.  I use it in a diffuser necklace hanging from the rearview mirror in my car.  It’s also the perfect addition to any homemade cleaning solutions, and supports the immune system.  Stress Away smells like Tahiti in a bottle.  Palm trees, margaritas, and relaxation in fragrance form.  I use this one as my perfume most days.


NingXia Red is a delicious supplement that supports all the body systems.  I drink an ounce a day when I’m feeling well, and bump the dosage up a notch if I need an extra immune or energy boost.  My 7 year old munchkin also drinks an ounce each morning to keep her above the wellness line.


Over time, you may become more experienced and confident using essential oils, but in the beginning, go slow.  Less is more.  Always dilute with a carrier oil (coconut, olive, grapeseed, etc.) until you know your sensitivity level with each new oil.  Follow the guidelines below if you experience any discomfort.


This amazing Premium Starter Kit is $392.62 worth of product for $160 (with the Dewdrop Diffuser).  The Kits with the Rainstone ($205) and Aria ($260) diffusers are priced a bit higher, but are fantastic deals as well.  You get all eleven oils I described above, plus the diffuser, NingXia Red packets, samples, a roller ball fitment, and sample bottles you can fill to use on the go or to share with those you love who need oils in their lives!


The NingXia Kit is great for those who need this highly antioxidant supplement to support all their body systems, and the Thieves Kit is perfect for switching out toxic home and body care products for these much safer options.


Essential Rewards is the best way to make the switch to an oily, toxin free lifestyle in a way that’s affordable and sustainable.  I waited a full year to sign up for this autoship program because I didn’t really understand how it worked, it seemed complicated, and I didn’t want to commit to spending $50 a month when I didn’t even know what I would need to buy.  Biggest.  Mistake.  Ever.  I missed out on HUNDREDS of dollars worth of free stuff. Don’t be like me.  If you’re using your oils, you’re going to need to replenish them.  And if you’re serious about ditching the toxic stuff, this is the best place to get all your home and body care products.  Getting a customizable monthly box of products YOU choose just makes good sense.  Scents.  Cents.  Ba-dum-chhhhhh…


Here’s a rundown of some of Young Living’s most popular products beyond the Starter Kit.  In addition, I highly recommend the blend Peace & Calming for, well, peace.  And calming.  Oregano essential oil is also a staple in my home.  I make sure we never run out of that one.


Another thing I love about this oily lifestyle is that I never get bored with the fragrance of my body care products.  I just change up the essential oil I use when I make it.  I use Dr. Bronner’s unscented liquid castile soap as my body wash, and add whatever essential oils I feel like using.  For an all-over moisturizer I use grapeseed oil in a glass pump bottle and, again, scent it with whatever oils I’m feeling at the moment.  For my facial moisturizer, I use argan oil infused with frankincense and lavender oils to support the sensitive areas on my face and neck.  The possibilities are, quite literally, endless.


Not to be alarmist, but your and your family’s health and wellness are at stake here.  Don’t wait another second to make the switch to a lifestyle that supports your body’s natural healing processes.  I have an amazing team that’s ready to lock arms with you and support you on this journey.  Follow this link to get started, and find me on FaceBook so we can get you plugged in to our tight-knit community of oilers.

*If another distributor shared this page with you to help you learn more about these little bottles of awesomeness, it means they love you and want the best for you.  Connect with them to get their information and sign up with them.


Buffalo-ish Chicken Legs

I have a family reunion to attend tomorrow. These are hard core, Deep South southerners who are serious about their food. I guarantee there will be copious amounts of amazing fried chicken at this gathering, along with collard greens, fried okra, cornbread, banana pudding, and flowing rivers of sweet tea. My paleo buffalo chicken legs may not quite fit in, but I’m interested to see how my family will react, and if they’ll even know it’s healthy for them. 

I found organic chicken legs at Publix on sale buy one get one free. Score!  I got roughly 6 pounds. 

Here’s the ingredients for the buffalo-ish sauce. 

I generally don’t prefer spicy food, so my buffalo sauce is super mild. Feel free to add extra spice with cayenne or hot sauce. 

To cover my 6 pounds of chicken legs, I needed:

  • One 24 oz. jar of roasted red peppers 
  • One cup of cashews (makes the sauce thicker and kind of creamy)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. palm/coconut shortening (can also use grassfed butter if you’re not strict paleo)
  • Spices to taste:  salt, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin, and tumeric. 

Put all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend until smooth. 

Place chicken legs in baking dishes and cover them in sauce. 

Bake in a 425 degree oven for an hour, turning the chicken over and mixing around the sauce a bit about halfway through. 

And done!

As my munchkin says… easy peasy lemon squeasy!  
***UPDATE- We never made it to the reunion because we had a medical emergency. But now our freezer is loaded with individually frozen portions of Buffalo-ish Chicken Legs. 

No Excuses!

Focusing on physical healing has been a huge challenge, as the past year brought so many layers of emotional trauma that have required my full attention and left me with very little energy for anything beyond survival. I still find myself in that “survival mode” from time to time, but it’s getting better. I’m getting better. 

Finding Paleo On the Go was super inspiring and has motivated me to get back into freezer cooking. POTG is a service that ships single-serve frozen paleo (or even AIP) meals. As a single mom, the cost is too high to eat their meals on a regular basis, but I can invest in one of their meal plans every few months to have easy healing food available and for inspiration for making my own freezer meals. 

The results of this inspiration and 1 day of cooking:

All made with strict paleo ingredients (except a conventionally raised pork loin and some grass-fed butter):

  • Thai Coconut Chicken Soup
  • Sofrito Chicken Legs
  • Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce
  • Kelp Noodles with Meat Sauce
  • Maple Veal Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • Cabbage and Bacon
  • Herbed Pork Loin and Ranch Cauliflower
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes with Kerrygold Butter

They are all separated into single serve portions, so I can easily defrost and warm it up in a pot of water on the stove or in the microwave. So, when I am overwhelmed with life and craving comfort food, I’ve got a variety of meals available that will continue to lead my body toward healing. 

The next day, I knocked out some breakfast items. A yummy grain free granola and paleo lemon raspberry muffins. 

Now I have no excuses. Regardless of my emotional state or what I may be dealing with in my personal life, my food is taken care of. It’s healthy, healing food that will nourish my body, so I can continue to focus on nourishing my spirit and letting God heal my soul. 

Happy New Year! (Time for the whole world to jump on board the healthy diet train! Yay!)

I love this time of year. Everyone is excited about healthy eating and ready to make tough lifestyle changes to achieve their goals for the new year. The rest of the year often leaves me feeling obsessive and extreme. But for these first few weeks of the year, I’m just like everyone else. It’s so fun to see everyone’s plans for detoxes, exercise goals, weight loss, and overall health improvement. For those with serious health issues, the changes they make this time of year could not only improve their lives, but save them.

I’m not making any plans for this year, choosing instead to stay submitted to God’s plan. Since I’m not clear on what that is yet, I’m doing my best to be obedient in the moment and take steps as I feel led. I think I have an idea of things He has in store for me, and it’s really exciting, but I’m learning to be patient and not jump the gun in my overzealous enthusiasm.

And since His mercies are new every morning (and apparently I’ve only been taking photos of breakfast lately), here are some paleo breakfasts we’ve been eating.

Fried egg with raw, fermented kraut, uncured bacon, and strawberries.


Eggs scrambled in grassfed herb butter with ham and greens. (with a little cheese, a cheat that left me slightly congested the next morning)


Juice. My cells say, “Ahhhhhhhh.”



And a decent almost-paleo breakfast at IHOP. Garden omelet with sausage, bacon, and fruit. Got lots of nitrates in the breakfast meat, but keeping sugar levels balanced is more of a priority right now. Avoiding grains helps me do that.


I logged so much of my life in this blog throughout 2013. You can see how challenging that year was for me. Hospitalization and steroids and pain pills and bad flares and arguing with doctors and experimenting with healing (and not-so-healing) diets and the all the expenses associated with overcoming a serious disease. 2013 was the toughest year of my life at that point. I was so excited for the fresh beginning 2014 was going to bring. Then my personal world collapsed early in 2014 and the emotional fallout from that has been extensive. Whereas 2013 was all about physical survival and healing, 2014 also became a year of survival, though of a different kind. And 2014 was, by far, the hardest of my life. I had no idea it was possible to experience that much pain without dying. There aren’t words that are dramatic enough to explain the trauma my soul went through this year. But as 2015 approaches, I am stronger and more fulfilled and whole and (dare I say?) happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I’m also sadder than I’ve ever been, but I have a peace and joy in my soul that overshadows all of that. So I know that regardless of what 2015 has in store for me, I am going to be ok- more than ok. Because my peace and joy isn’t dependent on my circumstances anymore. It’s deep in my soul and it’s not going anywhere. So come on 2015! I’m ready for whatever you’ve got! Good or bad! Because my God is all-knowing and all-powerful. He is in control. And He loves me. What do I have to be afraid of?

Pre-Thanksgiving Prayer and Fasting Wrap-up

The final week of the fast went really well. I found it easier to stick within Paleo guidelines (though I wasn’t perfect) and was actually enjoying the changes God was making in my heart through prayer.

Here’s some of what I was eating during that last week.

Paleo egg salad on Bubbie’s sweet pickles.


Bananas with cinnamon fried in grassfed butter. Makes a great fruit topping, but I just eat it straight- as is.


Bacon! Uncured, of course. And eggs fried in garlic herb butter.


Paleo blueberry cobbler. I’m actually amazed that this came out delicious. I didn’t follow a recipe. Just melted gf butter in a loaf pan, threw in several handfuls of frozen blueberries, then poured in a mixture of eggs, almond milk, and coconut flour. Added coconut sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon to everything. I had to keep adding extra time in the oven to get all the moisture out, but it ended up being really good. We ate this for desserts and breakfasts for several days.


Peppermint hot chocolate. New obsession. Warmed up a mug of chocolate almond milk then added a drop of peppermint essential oil. Amazing. And with all the digestive benefits of peppermint oil. Love! (If you try this, make sure it’s a high grade oil like Young Living.)


Herbed pork loin and mashed cauliflower (with pan drippings for gravy). Munchkin picked the basil leaves to go on top, and then couldn’t help herself- had to get a finger full of mash.


Deviled eggs. Used homemade paleo mayo and chopped up a Bubbie’s lacto-fermented pickle for relish. Topped with paprika and the anti-inflammatory powerhouse, turmeric. I’ve included my daughter in a lot of my prayer time and devotionals over the past few weeks. In a lot of ways, she is just as mature, spiritually, as I am. We are learning together. When I told her the name of this dish, her jaw dropped. “No, Mommy, we can’t eat that!” Angel-ed eggs it is, then.


So, coming into Thanksgiving, I was feeling pretty good. I was able to get through a long travel day involving a car, train, bus, and plane while wrangling a small child and all our luggage. I was able to eat and enjoy several gatherings with family and friends throughout the weekend. But I could feel the exhaustion of an impending flare creeping up. It hit pretty hard a few days after Thanksgiving, and I’ve basically been in bed most of this week. Unable to talk or eat without intense pain. And the fatigue has been debilitating. I’m grateful that we are in a safe place, surrounded by people who love us and will take care of Munchkin while I rest and wait it out. This forced down time has allowed me to continue to develop my faith, reading, learning, and praying as God keeps making adjustments in my heart. I’m annoyed at being sick again, but excited that God is using it to do work in me. I hope He finishes up quick so I can get on with my life, but I’m learning to be patient and trust His process.

Worst Fast Ever, Day 11

Geez. It’s been pretty bad. In an effort to be positive, I can say that by ATTEMPTING to fast, I’ve eaten more healthy food than I would have otherwise. But I’ve also eaten nearly every unhealthy food that has crossed my path. Social situations are just impossible. Given my (improving but still extremely fragile) emotional state, I have no willpower to resist when someone else wants to feed me. It can be a full meal at a friend’s house, snacks at a play date, party food, or free coffee at the grocery store- if someone is offering me nourishment, it’s hard to turn down. It’s a totally ridiculous emotional thing.

And remember my plan to liquid fast sunup to sundown on Wednesdays? Yeah. I did, too. When I got to church at 7pm Wednesday night. Oops.

The prayer part of all this “prayer and fasting” has been incredibly productive. Proof of God’s grace, I suppose. Even as I am totally screwing up my eating plan, He remains faithful to meet me in prayer and gently guide me to grow in other areas. That growth has been emotionally taxing at times, and might be a factor in my failures with the fast. It’s all a process, so I have to give myself grace, too.

Besides, it hasn’t been ALL bad. Here’s some of the healthy stuff I’ve been eating.

My friend’s husband juices every day when he comes home for lunch. I love it when our play dates coincide with his lunch hour. I don’t know what’s in it, but it’s super healthy and super delicious.


Breakfasts have generally been really easy to stick to the paleo plan. Protein, fruit, done. I’ve started soaking my hard boiled eggs in raw sauerkraut juice. Not sure if I’m getting more of the good probiotics this way, but it makes the eggs nice and salty. And it’s a great use for the probiotic rich liquid that’s left when we finish off the jar of kraut.


Snacks on the go. I also eat a lot of Larabars. Most versions are paleo-friendly.


Italian sausage and peppers. I keep a bag of this in the freezer for a quick dinner in the skillet. Organic Italian sausage, bell peppers, garlic, onion, and herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, and Rosemary. Sometimes I have random leftovers of grass-fed hotdogs or uncured pepperoni that I’ll chop up and throw in the bag. Couldn’t be easier.


Another typical breakfast. Scrambled eggs with herbs. Finally got hooked back up with our “egg gypsy” so these are local, pastured, free-range, NOT pasteurized, etc. All the good things that come from getting eggs from someone’s back yard.


Paleo chili with grass-fed beef heart. I won’t go into the health benefits of eating organ meat, but there are many. And no one has been able to taste it in this chili. I top it off with a mound of sauerkraut instead of sour cream or cheese.


Praying for strength to balance my need for emotional nourishment with nutritional nourishment. Or to separate one from the other. Sometimes, I seem to need the fellowship more than the nutrients. We have a birthday party to go to in a few hours, and dinner with a friend tonight. Praying for guidance and discernment so that I can stay within God’s plan for my healing- whatever that may be.

Prayer and Fasting

After another long stretch of inconsistency with my eating habits, I am feeling the need for a cleanse. My health has been good (no major flares, still medication-free), but there have been enough minor struggles to hold me back from the healthy, vibrant, active life I want to be living. With the holidays coming up, this seems like the perfect time. Twenty-one days of prayer and fasting should leave me in good shape to indulge on Thanksgiving (which also happens to be my 36th birthday).

Here’s my plan: Strict(ish) Paleo for the next 21 days, with liquid/juice fasts sun-up to sun-down on Wednesdays (to coordinate with my church’s weekly day of prayer and fasting). Sticking to consistent paleo will give my digestive system a break from the destructive effects of gluten and dairy, and the liquid fasts will go a step further and give my gut time to rest and heal whatever damage I’ve done eating potentially harmful foods. I’m not sure how the prayer part is going to shake out, but I’m learning to leave that part to God anyway. My intention is just to spend more focused time in daily prayer and see where He leads.

I started today (a Wednesday, so liquid fasting) with a glass of chocolate almond milk. Not the healthiest choice, but I’m ok with that. It’s delicious and satisfies my sweet cravings in the morning.

Lunch is fresh homemade juice. I swear I can feel my cells soaking this stuff up.



Going out tonight with my girls, so dinner will be tricky. It’ll be after sundown, so I’ll be able to eat, but finding paleo options can be a challenge at some restaurants. It’s a German place, so I’m planning on sausage, sauerkraut, and applesauce. While grass-fed/pastured sausage, raw fermented (instead of pickled) sauerkraut, and applesauce with no added sugar would be ideal, whatever they have will be close enough. (Hence the (ish) on my paleo.)

I would love to have prayer and fasting partners over the next 21 days! Who’s in?

Grateful Flow

I’m in a much better place now. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Physically, things are moving forward slowly. I’m on day 2 of no fever, and my energy level improves a bit each day. I’ve lost most of my voice and it’s still extremely painful to eat and drink, but I no longer choke as I try to swallow. I nearly passed out from the pain after taking a sip of pomegranate juice this evening. I don’t know what I was thinking.

A bizarre physical side effect of something during this process (I think the high dose steroid injection) was the overnight disappearance of the baby belly I’ve been lugging around since my daughter was born nearly 3 years ago. Despite my overall lean build and relatively active lifestyle (when I’m not sick) I’ve had a protruding belly that makes me look about 3 months pregnant. It completely disappeared overnight. My husband noticed immediately. “Where’d your belly go? I mean- it is FLAT! That’s crazy!” I’m actually expecting it to gradually return as the steroid effects wear off. But it lets me know that there is, indeed, something going on in my gut. The protruding belly has obviously been a result of some sort of inflammation, rather than the baby fat/post baby lack of muscle tone that I thought it was. And, while a flat tummy is fun and all, I see this as a red flag that I have severe digestion issues that need to be addressed if I am to regain my health.

Emotionally, I received a lot of support this past week from a precious old friend whom God sent for a visit at just the right moment. She’ll never know how much our conversations helped to ground me and center me in the midst of all this chaos.

Spiritually, I gained a lot from church on Sunday. My infectious disease doc’s PA attends my church, and waited to speak with me after the service. She participated in my care during the hospitalization, so she knows my history. She asked how I was doing, and I just said, “Not good. It’s the same as before.” She hugged me and started praying in earnest for all the specifics that only she could understand about what I’m dealing with. The lesions, the thrush, for my throat to open up… She cried with me.

I’ve also been reading a surprisingly amazing book by the actor from Hercules, Kevin Sorbo, called True Strength. My mom gave it to me shortly after the hospitalization in January, and I just never got around to reading it. It’s about his battle and recovery from 3 strokes in his mid-thirties. One of the parts I like most is when one of the specialists he sees suggests he do something called the Grateful Flow. It basically entails thinking of a few things you’re truly grateful for until you feel that energy flow open up (sounds kooky- but I feel it quickly when I do this- it flows out of/into my heart chakra- again, kooky, I know). Anyway, once the energy opens up, you fight the urge for further thought and simply pray for wisdom and a quiet mind. This part has proven more difficult for me so far, but I think it’s the type of thing that takes practice.

I’ve been so enthralled by the book (and I’ve had a lot time on my hands) that I decided to look up those old Hercules episodes on Netflix. Yeah. I don’t recommend them. Maybe they were great in the early 90’s, but wow. Just wow. I’ll just stick to his book for now.

And in my grateful flow recently: I’m pretty sure I’ve evaded hospitalization on this one, I can eat and drink (albeit very little), my precious husband is a gem, my dad is alive and functioning quite well (all things considered), my God is by my side and offers me constant guidance and comfort, and He has sent me exactly who and what I needed, exactly when I needed them. Faith is belief in the promise of things that have yet to be seen. I’m still struggling to have faith in God’s promise for my healing. But He’s working on me.