What would you do?

I saw the picture below and the following post in a Facebook group that I am a member of and thought that it was perfect for what I wanted to write about today. Here it is:

A very dirty fish tank showing unhealthy fish. It asks the question: What makes the most sense?

“This is a dirty fish tank. [A really dirty fish tank.] These fish are sick. What would be your first suggestion to help them get better?

Here are two theories…..
Theory 1: Medicate the fish
Theory 2: Clean the tank and put the fish in fresh water.

When most people look at this scenario they quickly determine theory 2 OBVIOUSLY makes the most sense. So, why don’t we apply this logic to our own lives?

We have health issues and go to a doctor and get medications. Then we get additional medications to help with the side effects of the first medications. Most of us are just living our lives addressing the symptoms of an illness and not the cause. We don’t go to a doctor to find the root cause and heal our bodies. Why is that?

Whether you struggle with eczema, acne, UTIs, headaches, anxiety, fatigue, autoimmune diseases, reproductive issues, cysts, chronic pain… You need to clean out your tank and add fresh water.

From the foods we eat to the products we use. Clean it up. 
[Author Unknown]

On Friday, I had a doctor’s appointment to discuss some recent blood tests. She pointed out my Thyroid Peroxidase levels. They were at 114 when the normal range was listed as somewhere between 0 and 34. She said the high levels indicated inflammation and what was called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. My doctor did tell me that it could be treated through medication, but she actually recommended a gluten-free diet, which should reduce the levels and the inflammation. Yay for a good doctor.

What did I do? I went home and ate some Bagel Bites. Crazy huh? I guess I was thinking that if I was going to have to give up so many things I liked to eat soon, that I’d just go ahead and splurge on something that I knew was bad for me. I am quite sure I have a lot of things in my pantry right now that are full of gluten, but the truth is, I don’t even know enough about it yet to determine what I should and shouldn’t be eating. All I can think of is no carbs. 😦

This is the list my doctor gave me of carbohydrates and refined sugars to avoid: breads, pastas, flour tortillas, cakes, cookies, pies, cereals, and crackers. Of course, I love all these things. There goes my everything bagel most mornings, my sandwich at lunch, my homemade banana bread, crackers and cheese, and pasta! Oh man! I do know that there are a lot of alternatives out there these days; I’ve just never had to study ingredient labels so closely or figure out my options before. Looks like I have a lot of research to do.

Of course, I realize that this is an opportunity for me to make some wise choices and clean my tank before things get too bad for me health-wise. I take ibuprofen or Aleve almost every day for neck and back pain, and I’m quite sure the pain and stiffness I experience all the time is due to inflammation, so why wouldn’t I give this dietary solution a try? It’s a natural approach, which might alleviate my need for the medications I currently take.

As soon as I told him about it, my husband was asking me about what had gluten and what did not. He wanted to help me. I really couldn’t answer him yet. But we did specifically look for a restaurant to go to that night with gluten-free options. We found a poke bowl place that specifically listed on their menu only four things they had that did contain gluten. Everything else was “on my diet.” It turns out that sushi rice is gluten free so I didn’t have to give that up. Yay! I was able to build a bowl that I enjoyed without feeling like I was missing out on anything.

And, of course, I know I’m not alone. There are a lot of people who have to eat gluten-free or who have soy, wheat, cinnamon, fruit, or peanut allergies. I actually have a friend who told me a few years ago that she had Hashimoto’s, so I texted her right away asking for info, suggestions, recipes, anything to help me get started down the right path.

No matter your situation you are not walking alone.

So, I wanted to put a reminder out there at this point for anyone reading this, that whatever you are currently going through in your life, whether it is food or health related or something completely different, you are not alone. Just as there is no way I could jump fully into this new mindset without the help and guidance of others who have already walked the same path, you don’t have to go it alone either. Thankfully, with the Internet, we have access to so much information and to related communities all over the world. And, of course, God’s got your back as well. He has likely placed people along your path who can provide the support and encouragement you need to face your issues.

It’s time for me to practice some self-care and treat my body right. While I may crave processed foods that are bad for me at times, I know (with some help and in time) I can find healthy alternatives that nourish me and allow me to feel my best and be my best self. If anyone has some good links, recipes, suggestions, advice on my thyroid issue and eating gluten-free, I welcome them in the comments below. Thank you, and remember whatever you do, and wherever you go, be kind to yourself as well as to others.

Give yourself the same care and attention that you give to others and watch yourself bloom.

[Just to clarify, for those who know my husband has fish tanks, that really dirty tank in this post is not ours. The one in the featured photo is though.]

NOTE: I have another post that I have been working on for the past month that I hope to share with you soon. The topic is “letting go.” I have so many different sources that I am pulling information from and lots of ideas still brewing; I just haven’t had a chance to put it all together. But I promise it is coming soon. 🙂

Broken … but Loved As Is

As the slender needle slipped into my wrist, I felt an electric jolt travel through my palm and up into my thumb.

“Feel that?” the doctor asked?

“Mmmhmm.” I got out through clenched teeth.

I thought you weren’t supposed to feel the needles going in with acupuncture. At least that’s what I had read and what I had heard others say. I discovered for myself that this proved to be true more so for my back, but not so much for my hand and forearm.

Acupuncture Treatment

I was at the acupuncturist’s office because my carpal tunnel and arthritis in my right hand/wrist had started getting worse. Numbness had begun affecting my thumb and two fingers while working on the computer during the day, and numbness in my whole hand had started waking me up at night. I was also experiencing pain in my palm with various movements throughout the day.

The cortisone shots that the hand specialist had given me had worn off after only a month. The last shot I got from my orthopedic doctor had helped for a good six months. On top of that, my fibromyalgia was flaring up again (my shoulders and lower ribs felt tender and bruised). I knew it was time to try something else to alleviate the pains I was experiencing. So I thought I’d give acupuncture a shot.

Although, technically speaking, Chinese Medicine doesn’t treat “conditions,” it treats “patterns,” the doctor thought that she could help with my carpal tunnel. And the brochure said that acupuncture could help with arthritis and fibromyalgia as well. However, after half a dozen visits, I didn’t feel like it was making any difference, so I have decided not to go back. I plan to talk to my regular doctor as well as the hand specialist within the next couple of weeks to determine a new course of action. It’s possible that surgery might be on the agenda in the near future, but I don’t even know what my other options are at this point, so I will need their input to make that decision.


So … besides sharing a specific experience in my life, why am I writing this? How is it connected to the topic of spiritual whitespace that I have been writing about lately? Well, in Chapter 8 of Bonnie Gray’s book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest, she shares her experience with insomnia. Some of her thoughts and words resonate with me and I think they might be useful for others who are currently experiencing various health issues as well.

Xxxxxx [insert your specific issue here] “is a soul’s journey to find rest. Self-care is one movement in that journey to make room for whitespace and fill it with rest. Self-care is a step of faith to take care of our body and soul.”

Sometimes we feel guilty or selfish focusing on ourselves; sometimes doing so requires us to make major life changes; sometimes we find that we have to ask others for help on our path toward healing.

“Every movement that gives your body a chance to heal gives your soul room to breathe. Prioritizing self-care is an act of faith to tune your heart with God.”

Nurture Your Voice

“When we care for our well-being, our hearts become tender. We become moveable. God can prompt us. Without whitespace, we become emotionally disconnected. …  Because the focus of God’s heart has always been your heart, self-care is really a soul’s journey to fully receive his love.

Here are some of the things I have discovered while reading this book and/or through my own personal journey:

  • I need to be kind to my body.  I need to begin taking my supplements more regularly again. I need to nourish my body with better foods. And I need to get back to exercising, even if it is just stretching and walking at first. (Bart tries to remind me of this, but ladies, you know how it makes you feel when your husband does this. Not good.) I found out about a yoga class that meets twice a week at the library; I am going to try to go to this, starting Monday.
  • I need to take time for friends and fun. Sharing our stories with others and allowing them to share theirs with us brings us deeper connections and friendships.  Surface friendships may help you get through the day, but “in-the skin” friends (those who can handle the weak, tired, or troubled you) help you get through life. Luckily, I have been able to make more time for friends and fun lately. So, I’m already on the right path there.

Reach for Joy

  • I need to remember to ask for help. I’m a pretty self-sufficient person most of the time. I enjoy helping others, but I don’t always feel like asking for help myself. Especially with my hand in a more sensitive state at the moment, I need to quit trying to act like there’s nothing wrong with it. Until I get more feedback from the doctors on what will help or hurt it, I have to stop lifting, turning, and gripping things as if there’s nothing wrong. I don’t want to make the problem worse. (Don’t worry Mrs. Avis, if I end up needing your help, I will call and ask you to come up.) 🙂 [ And thank you Bart for steam-cleaning the living room rug tonight.]
  • I need to seek the expertise of professionals and the will of God. Sometimes I try so hard to figure things out on my own when I really don’t have the knowledge or background to do so. I also forget to seek God’s answer and/or lack the patience to wait on a response. I read somewhere that sometimes God invites us into an encounter with Him and other times He waits for us to extend the invitation. I need to remember to ask and then to be still enough to allow God to speak to my heart. I am working on this, and will also be calling my primary care doctor this next week to get in to see him and consult with him.

“Even in the storm … God is alive and faithful to make something beautiful out of us. We don’t need to understand how it will happen, how he can carry us through … It doesn’t matter. … God won’t abandon us. … He’s carrying us in his arms, no matter how bruised or broken we feel. He’s planting beautiful seed for our journey … That seed is Jesus. Alive in us.”

Every time we invite Jesus directly into our situation, whenever we allow the seed of rest to grow in our lives and hope to triumph over despair, we are caring for our hearts and bodies and creating spiritual whitespace: space for self-care … space to be loved. As is.

BookArt4_brokenbeauty-300x300

“Hope is secure when it is aligned with God’s desires,
which are revealed in the Bible. However, our expectations
are often based on wishes, feelings, and personal preferences—
we yearn for job promotions, good health, or quick solutions
to problems. Such desires can be strong, but we have no
sure promise from God that they’re part of His will for us.
… Ask Him to clarify and direct your desires to coincide with His way.
Then rest in His goodness and keep your hope in Him.
(Dr. Charles Stanley)

Bonnie Gray is the writer behind FaithBarista.com. She wrote about her own heart-breaking but inspiring journey to find rest in Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest. I have found so many nuggets of insight and words of wisdom in this book. I invite you to read it and join me on the journey to rest.

You can get your own copy HERE.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace