Mid-March Update, or “where have you been?”

First, let me add a few public thank you bullet points as at some point each day I am truly overwhelmed with gratitude.

  1. for my husband and the way he goes to refill our water jugs with reverse osmosis water without my ever having to ask (or even hint)!
  2. for daughters (even the teenager) that sometimes just want to hang out together
  3. for a community of caring neighbors, classmates, professors and more
  4. for the call God has given me to serve at the borders of the church and the world, and for how that call is nourished here at Wartburg Seminary

When we met, Shawn had a mug that says “So many books, so little time” and it’s still one of my favorite mugs. It’s still true, but in a different way now that most of the books are listed on a syllabus with deadlines. I also have many blog posts and other items I want to get done … and yet I have to somehow do it all and prioritize within the time given in a day, week, semester. This remains my biggest challenge. I keep thinking I am getting better at it, and then something else is added to the mix and I have set backs.

The something else in this case is extreme headaches. I am used to a host of symptoms related to my auto-immune illness, including, at times, chronic pain; however, I had learned good ways to control the symptoms both through alternative therapies and eliminating certain foods form my diet. I won’t go into the whole history of my health nor of how food relates to that right now, I will say that although I thought I was still avoiding trigger foods appropriately, my diet changed a bit when we moved here and started seminary. I started having more muscle tension and some headaches last semester, but thought they were simply due to sitting in auditoriums and classrooms, as well as spending many hours in less than ideal positions reading and working at the computer. I continued to find some relief by treating them that way (including chiropractic and massage care). But instead of getting better the muscle tension was worse and the headaches became much much worse. Even now that the muscle tension has eased due to some wonderful alternative chiropractic care and massage, I am still dealing with headaches more days than I am not.

To make a long story short, this has gotten in the way of doing much “extra” beyond my family time and study time. Additionally everything seems to be pointing to some type of connection between food and the headaches (and some other symptoms but I can function through everything but the headaches which are only helped marginally, if at all, by traditional pain relievers). So, I now am trying to become educated, and yet not obsessive, about how to properly do an elimination diet so that we can find the groups of foods that trigger them while praying there are not too many groups of foods (or that I can properly heal and then include those foods in limited amounts again) — likely it is natural food chemicals (I already was avoiding added chemicals and preservatives due to known sensitivities) — such as salicylates (think aspirin, and sadly many fruits and veggies), amines (and other phenols), glutamates, sulfates, and oxylates. I am using the Failsafe diet as a guide (Sue Dengate‘s term for the diet formulated by allergists at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia). Unless I try to get in somewhere sooner, I see my doctor “back home” in a few weeks. My decision will likely be based on how I can manage between now and then anyway. I have been trying to do the elimination diet for over a week now but it is a learning process, so I have made a few mistakes, and hope that this week to be fully on it — and to not have to wait long for full relief! On the few days where I could tell things were changing in the last week it was wonderful not not merely have no headache but a truly clear head, so I am looking forward to the change and the chance to once again put an auto-immune flare-up behind me and live (and exercise!) fully.

So there is a bit of an update for those that have just caught things on the edges (facebook, etc.) or have been wondering if the semester just swallowed me up with the intense reading load.

I am thankful that in spite of the headaches, I have been able to do well in my classes — which have all been interesting and inspiring!

I have always said that I feel closest to God when I am feeling my physical best (think marathon training and running) and ALSO when I am feeling at my physical worst (too many examples here). The headaches continue to be an interesting part of this journey and reflection.

I am also thankful for this gorgeous weather (70s and 80s in March in Iowa! … with a nice breeze so not too hot) that is encouraging me to get out there and walk even though I cannot run yet (chiropractor will hopefully clear me on that in the next week or two if things stay going in the right direction).

One of my goals, not related to this blog or school, is to get back to doing weekly yoga this month. I will also plan to prioritize several blog posts by making them short and quick (please let me know if there is anything in particular that you would like to know about my Seminary education, life here at Wartburg, or Diaconal Ministry and I will do my best; otherwise, it’s whatever I find interesting 🙂

I always appreciate hearing what your goals and challenges are as well. I think that when we share our challenges as well as our accomplishments with others we can better share each others burdens — and we can better pray for and with each other. Please, let me know how I can pray for you.

My prayer request — for accompaniment and guidance through this journey to better health and less pain.

Love and belief,


Thankful for at this moment

1. The wonderful conversations with my small group this afternoon for Religion, Anthropology and the Human World. (This is the first time the small groups have met instead of having lecture from 1:30 to 4:30 on Mondays … I was not looking forward to it … love having expectations turned on their head! Engaging discussions and totally energizing!)

2. Gorgeous weather!!!! Could early Oct. get any more beautiful and sunny? I need to go soak some more of it up as soon as I publish this!

3. Nessa is off to her first “Acting Class” this evening (what she calls it … 1st grade level class at the local Bell Tower Theatre … I hope her expectations are exceeded and not the other way around)

4. That our daughter is confident enough in her own choices that she thought it was the coolest thing in the world to where pajamas under a sun dress to school this morning — well, really the insists the pajamas are really “an outfit” and will likely never wear them as pajamas but still I love when she picks out her clothes simply because she likes them for whatever reason and I pray she does’t ever lose that! (and better yet both the pajamas and the sun dress are “new” from the Clothing Swap held here on campus last Friday.)

5. That my CPE application was finally turned in complete (little printing glitch first thing this morning so I had the opportunity to enjoy the sun on a quick walk home after chapel to get the correct file and spend lunch printing and making a nice PDF of the 3 different files) … for some reason the extra little challenge did nothing but energize me as well today … reminds me of he nice adrenaline rush I would get writing on deadline in the past.

6. That all three of us get to go back to spend a couple of days at the farm (and a bit of time with Megan!) at the end of the week — Nessa is off of school Friday so we will all leave Thursday afternoon and likely be back in Dubuque Sat. evening. It will be nice to be all together as a family again, even if just briefly.

7. Reading days are getting closer!!! (Next week there are no classes on Monday and Tuesday as they are designated reading days — woo hoo a couple of days to come close to catching up!)

8. The blessings of community — wonderful classmates and wonderful neighbors!

9. That Shawn is the one that took Nessa to her class so I can have some alone time to process (and make dinner) … well that isn’t the reason he volunteered (I don’t think) but that is the result, and I am thankful!

10. And this just in — Megan just reported another personal best for running times in Cross Country (this time in a one mile time trial I believe) — so thankful Megan is discovering a sport she can enjoy and thankful that we can share this sport in a way even if when we next run together she will leave me in the dust!

What are you thankful for at this moment?

Wholeness Wheel: Life In Process

Last Thursday we had a convocation after Chapel here at Wartburg Seminary. Our focus included looking at the Wholeness Wheel, and discussing how we personally as well as the larger community can work on balancing all aspects of wellness.

The discussion was interesting, and I have been thinking about how to do this without becoming obsessed with “balance” which I have found to be a bit dangerous to my overall health in the past. The following Martin Luther quote shared at the event is something I have been meditating on. I invite you to read and ponder the quote as well, and let me know some of your thoughts.

Martin Luther said:
“This life, therefore, is not godliness but the process of becoming godly, not health but getting well, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not now what we shall be, but we are on the way. The process is not yet finished, but it is actively going on. This is not the goal but it is the right road. At present, everything does not gleam and sparkle, but everything is being cleansed.”

Today, I am using my free hour to ponder, walk, pray, and meditate while I move my body. I am also focussing this week on sleep as a spiritual practice, and will reflect on that here later in the week. I am evolving my thoughts from “what do I need to get done” to “what is the best use of my time” … this time stewardship within the practice of life is very much an evolving practice for me —

How do you steward your time?

What spiritual practices help connect the various parts of your life?

Thankful at this very moment

OK with no pondering ahead of time, here is my list of 10 at this moment:

1. Nessa gets to start taking hot lunch at school tomorrow!!!!
2. Federal Govt. (Yep, you read that right) for making it clear that Gluten Free lunches for Celiacs is important
3. Nessa’s school (Bryant) and the staff that cared enough to make this happen
4. Facebook so I can network, share and publicly give thanks!
5. Amazing classes here at Wartburg Seminary
6. That I get to see Megan tomorrow!!!!
7. That I get to see my Acupuncturist tomorrow!
8. Venison steaks from a friend in the crock post (along with lots of veggies)
9. For the amazing people that smile at me everywhere I go around here!
10. For Wartburg’s after-school room that opens in about one minute … Nessa LOVES being there and I love another 2 hours to focus on reading (because I have quite a bit to do before tomorrow … and a LOT to do in the next few weeks!)

If you are still reading, what are you giving thanks for today?

Thanks be to God!

Love and belief,