Thursday Things: A Silent Retreat.

SHHHHHHH!

So this weekend I am going on a silent retreat.

I am excited.

And I am nervous.

We are talking (I mean NOT talking) Friday evening until Sunday afternoon with ZERO WORDS. I haven’t heard (or not heard) silence in:

4 years, 2 months and 3 days (when Ashton was born).

I am excited to heal, hear from God and rest, but I am nervous I will accidentally say something or laugh out loud.

I can’t wait to spend the weekend journaling and praying.  Lots of emotions going into the weekend, and I will probably have lots of words to share afterwards.

Whatever this weekend brings, I’m sure it will be fabulous!

Choosing “And”

A recurring theme of “AND” has been popping up in things I am reading, listening to and seeing online. We (me) too easily box ourselves, ideas, beliefs, God etc. in instead of being bold & free by accepting that things can and do coexist. This quote from Glennon Doyle really struck me yesterday:

“In life, the brutal won’t break us because the beautiful will sustain us.”

Life can be brutal & beautiful.

We can be brave & scared.

We can laugh & cry in the same hour.

We can have joy & have our heart can break for people/situations at the same time.

We can be messy & have moxie at the same time. (Jen)

We can be great moms & great at something unrelated to motherhood.

We can care about the suffering in our country & the suffering across the globe.

You better believe Jesus lived a life of “AND.” Can you imagine all the emotions he felt (at the same time) walking himself to his crucifixion? Jesus loved God AND wept. He also changed so many lives because he did life with so many different types of people. I want to live a big, bold, moxie-filled, Jesus-life of “and.” Who’s with me?

OH BOY, OH BOY, OH BOY!!!

Some exciting NEW things!

Oh I am SOOOOOO EXCITED to tell you guys about some fun things happening!!!!

 

But, you’ll have to wait another day or two before I can spill the beans…

 

I know, I know, that is soooo annoying, right?!?!  This is probably you right now:

I promise it will be worth it.

Aaaaaaand I might have a little sumthin sumthin just for YOU!

Stay tuned!

4 Years Ago: Scary Autoimmune Times

Why this time of year is filled with mixed emotions.

Fact about me: I do not like hot weather. There, I said it.

So when September rolls around I have always been happy that Fall/Winter and cooler temps are on the way!

But four years ago, my Septembers changed forever.

I know, the suspense is killing you, right?

 

Well, I am going to get a wee bit serious with you in this post.

Four years ago on September 11th (ugh, could that date get anymore gloomy? *Chandler Bing could say it) I went to the ER in the middle of the night (for the 2nd time in a week). You see, after my firstborn arrived my immune system went bonkers and started attacking my body, mainly my colon.

Here are some autoimmune cliff-notes:

There are TONS of autoimmune diseases, and they all look SO DIFFERENT.  But, what happens is that person’s autoimmune system (what fights off sickness and disease) is dysfunctional.  Instead of fighting off the things it is supposed to fight off, it looks at other “normal” things in their bodies as an enemy/enemies.  So in my case, when out of control, my autoimmune system thinks my colon and the food I put in my body are things that need to be attacked and rid of.  Fun, right? No.

When a person is pregnant, their body’s immune system is automatically suppressed so it doesn’t look at the baby as a foreign enemy that needs eliminated.  Pretty cool, huh?  But, after the person has the baby, the immune system returns to normal and then some.  This is when the problem happens for people with autoimmune diseases.

My autoimmune disease (Ulcerative Colitis) was diagnosed when I was 21.  I suffered a few flare ups, but could always get them under control with steroids (prednisone) and a couple other medications.

SAILED through my pregnancy with Ashton.  I didn’t take any medications other than prenatal stuff and felt great the entire time.  Now I know that was because my immune system was naturally suppressed due to the pregnancy.  So, within weeks of having Ashton things went south quickly.  Being a first-time mom, I assumed some of my issues were just regular old post-baby symptoms, especially since the birth was traumatic and I had a 4th degree tear.  Ouch times ten.

Those symptoms escalated quickly and soon became out of control.  I was well below my post-pregnancy weight, and couldn’t even eat a small dish of mashed potatoes without sever pain and it shooting straight through my body.  I was severely dehydrated, but I couldn’t drink anything without pain or needing to run to the bathroom.

All of this was while I had a 6-week old.  I would get up to feed him during the night and couldn’t make it 10 minutes without needing to put him in a bouncy chair crying as I ran to the bathroom.  I still have flashbacks and guilt over that.  It was awful.

My mom started staying at our place when she saw me deteriorating, and she demanded we go to the ER.  More than once.  Finally, September 11th, 2013 I was in such bad shape they kept me at Riverside and admitted me.  For 9 LONG DAYS.

 

I had to be in the hospital, away from my newborn for 9 days.  I still shudder thinking about it.

 

I was so blessed to get a private room.  I don’t think I could’ve dealt with a roommate in the hospital, especially considering I didn’t want anyone I knew to come visit me.  I was embarrassed, tired, ashamed, etc.  All of the stupid emotions/feelings the enemy feeds us.

I was pumped full of liquids, steroids, nutrition (I wasn’t allowed to eat food for a few days).  Nothing seemed to help.  I was up a few times every hour around the clock.  I was losing weight by the day, and my body was shutting down.

 

I didn’t know until my Gastro doctor told me after-the-fact, he and his colleagues were very worried.  How’s that for a wake up call?

 

Finally after about 5 days in the hospital without any improvement, we decided to try a new medication, Remicade.  It is given through an I.V. infusion and required extensive tests to be qualified to receive it.  So I had to get tested for 1.2 million things, some of them taking 2 days to get the results.  Finally day 7, I was able to get an infusion.

This medication doesn’t work for everyone, so there was a chance I would have to find something else.  I didn’t notice a change the first day.  I was concerned.  But (yay for buts), by day 2 after the medication (day 8 of my hospital stay), I was able to sleep through the night (other than the middle of the night vital stats taken by the overnight nurses).  The next day I was able to eat and I was feeling SO MUCH BETTER!!!!  Thank you, JESUS!

By day 9 I was able to go home late afternoon.  I was weak, I was frail, but I was able to get home and see my baby.  After a couple nights at home, I was able to feed Ashton (formula, obviously) in the middle of the night without any problem.  I remember that was such a huge step and gets me choked up just typing it out.

 

So, if you have read this far, thank you.  Thank you for reading to understand a little more about something you might not have been aware of.

While I still luvvvvv the fall and September, now you understand why I can sometimes  have a bit of sadness/grief this time of year.  But even though all of that horrible stuff happened, I am thankful that it has helped me appreciate my health and grow my faith.

Thank you for reading.  xoxo

Thursday Things: Things I’m Loving

Thursday Things: Things I’m Loving

I’m going to try a series on Thursdays called “Thursday Things.”  I know, I know, I am a creative genius.

Anyway, to kick it off I am going to tell you about some things I am LOVING lately.

First off is this tea:

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It is like a warm hug and is the perfect fall afternoon/evening drink.  Not only does it taste AH-MAZING, it smells incredible.

 

Next up, this book:

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This is a book that is hard to put down, I have been going to bed late because it keeps me quickly turning page after page.  She is a mid to late 30-something who is in the middle place (a mom of young kids, but still a daughter to her parents).  As she deals with some heavy circumstances, this book shows how she kind of floats in this middle place relying on her parents for strength while trying to be a mom and wife simultaneously.  It’s really resonating with me because sometimes I have to pinch myself that I am an actual adult with actual children, and not still a teenager living and depending on my parents.

 

Next up, this ghee:

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What is ghee, you ask?  It is clarified butter which contains ZERO lactose or casein.  So people who are intolerant of dairy can typically enjoy this without any discomfort.   But, what I’ve found is I like it SO MUCH MORE than butter, and it comes with many more health benefits (skin, hair, overall health).  It is great for people who eat paleo or have an autoimmune disease.  I got this one on Amazon months ago and still have plenty left.

 

Next up, this collagen peptide powder:

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Oh my gosh, this stuff is the best!  I put it in my smoothies (it doesn’t have any flavor) and it adds protein, helps with your gut health, joints, muscles, skin, hair, etc.  I think EVERYONE could use help with their gut health, it really dictates the health and function of the rest of our bodies.

 

Next up, this kombucha:

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Kombucha is definitely something you have to get used to, it has a “vinegar-y” taste.  If you take apple cider vinegar as a supplement, you will love this!  It is so good for your gut health (again) with tons of probiotics.  I find if I have an uneasy stomach, a few sips of kombucha really helps.  This flavor (and brand) is my favorite right now.  If you are new to kombucha, try – this flavor – first.

 

Lastly, this coffee:

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I’m all about everything autumn, and this coffee jumped out at me the other day.  It has such a full-bodied, but not heavy taste. I had mine black today, but I bet it would be insanely yummy with some creamer and a little sweetener!

 

Okay, I just realized this post was mostly food things.  I must be hungry or something.

 

What are some of your favorite things lately?

Oh, Hi! #namechange

Soooooooo, I had to re-name the blog due to unforeseen circumstances.  But you know what?  That’s okay!

At first when I got the news I was all #pityparty:

And then trying to switcheroo everything over to a new name had me like:

When I got it all set up and the content of the old site transferred, this was me:

So without further adieu, I give you Just Jac!

I’d love for you to hang out with me in this little space, and please let me know if there is anything you would like to read about here!

Books, Check ‘Em Out! (Books I’ve Loved)

This past year I have had a resurgence in my reading.  I think a lot of it is because my kids are at an age where they don’t chew/rip books anymore.  I’ve been a bookworm since I was a kid (hello, Babysitters Club), so it’s nice to get back to devouring books.

Since I am headed back to get my masters degree soon, my days of “reading for fun” are limited, so I am trying to squeeze in ALL THE BOOKS until then!

Basically, I am channeling my inner Rory Gilmore.

So all of this talk about books has got me thinking about some of my favorites.  I know I will forget some (hello, mom-brain) that I have loved, but I just wanted to throw a handful out there in case you need a good one!

(No particular order)

BLUE LIKE JAZZ, By Donald Miller

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I would recommend this book to EVERYONE.  Young, old, male, female, Christian, non-Christian.  I started reading this just a chapter every morning before the kids were up, but it was so good, I found myself picking it up throughout the day because I couldn’t get enough.  Donald is an amazing writer who makes you think about topics in a laid back, un-pretentious way.  One of many things that I took away from this book was how he talked about tithing.  Until reading this, I didn’t understand it.  But that is just a little blip in the big picture of this favorite book of mine.

 

FOR THE LOVE, By Jen Hatmaker

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Oh boy, this is seriously one of my all-time faves.  I have listened to the audiobook version a million times (rounded up).  I have also read the hard copy.  But honestly, she makes it come even more alive since she is the narrator.  She will make you laugh, cry, and inspire you.  If you are a mom, you HAVE to read this book. Now.

 

GONE GIRL, By Gillian Flynn

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This was an absolute page-turning shocker of a book.  It’s been a couple years since I read it, but I still think about it from time-to-time.  I don’t like books that are too scary (I can easily freak myself out in the middle of the night), but this one was just enough suspense and drama to keep me reading.  I have heard they did a good job on the movie, too.

 

Carry On, Warrior, By Glennon Doyle (Melton)

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I also listened to the audiobook version (Glennon narrates it) and read this.  NOBODY IS PERFECT (hello, blog title…) and Glennon writes beautifully, sternly, hilariously and emotionally about embracing our messy lives.  I have her newest book, Love Warrior, and I want to start it over soon.  I started it when I was in the thick of my divorce, and it was a little too heavy for me to read at that time.  I can’t wait to read it, because of how much I love Carry On, Warrior.

 

DISARMING THE NARCISSIST, By Wendy T. Behary, LCSW

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Oh boy, was this an eye-opener!  I am interested in the mental health field (that is what I am going back to get my masters in), so this was fascinating.  If you have a narcissist in your life, I recommend it 100%.  It isn’t a difficult read, but it can really help you figure out what is going on in the mind of the narcissist.

 

BOSSYPANTS, By Tina Fey  &  YES PLEASE, By Amy Poehler

Ok, these two go hand-in-hand because they are two of my favorite current actresses/comediennes.  I want to be besties with them both.  I read Bossypants and listened to Yes Please.  I would totally recommend listening to Amy’s because she has so many guest readers and extras in the audio version that you would miss out on by only reading the book.  Both are so entertaining, but also really interesting & surprisingly a tad emotional.

 

THE HELP, By Katherine Stockett

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I read this and also saw the movie (always book first, is my rule), and both were incredible.  I read the book years ago and couldn’t put it down.  It will make you cry, laugh, cheer and open your eyes.  They cast the movie perfectly to capture the dynamic personality of each character. So, so, good.

 

Well, there you have it.  A few books I have loved in the past.  Writing this, I realize my book-review skillz need some tuning up, but I wanted to throw these gems out there before I completely forget I’ve read them.

Tell me, what are you reading?  What books have you LOVED?