Monday, February 15, 2016

b e t t e r b e a u t y

Over the years, I've tried to learn more about health and how I can be taking care of my body. It began when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago. After a tedious bout with medication, my husband and I began researching more natural ways to go about treating my illness. If eating healthier could drastically (and positively) affect the way I feel, what other changes could I be making? What about those every-day, 'can't live without' products I put onto my body? Did that matter? 
"The average person puts 12-20 products on their body every single day." 

"The European Union has spent the past two decades banning or restricting more than 1,300 ingredients; the US has only banned 11 to date."

"Only about 10% of the 10,000 chemicals commonly found in personal care products have safety data."

"The United States has not passed a federal law to regulate the ingredients used in personal care products since 1938."

These statistics caught my eye. A friend started selling Beautycounter a while back and I was curious to see how the company and it's products were any different from products of A, B or C. No doubt these products work, but are they all safe? (There was a season, er, multiples seasons, where I would be gung-ho about consulting with a skin care company, but it would fall through. Trying to sell something scares me. No way.)

I was already convinced about the "you are what you eat" motto. Eventually, that started to shed more light on the other things I was putting into my body that could be affecting my health.

::insert 'ah-ha' moment::

::insert ALL 10-15 skin, hair, and health care products I use daily::

Beautycounter has banned over 1,500 ingredients from their products. Why? There are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today and many of them are without safety data. The FDA allows many of these products to be used in skin care and beauty products too - products that are proven harmful. There isn't an efficient way to monitor what goes into products yet.

It's easy to become frustrated and confused about why this would be allowed in a business industry. My experience with medications, doctors, alternative medicines and lack of options in the medical field have definitely fueled these frustrations with health in general too. So, why did I join Beautycounter? 

Walking with the Lord through difficult health issues has made me more passionate about pursuing healthier options. Something I admire about Beautycounter is their dedication to educating people and striving to make a change within the skin care industry. They go to great lengths to screen and research ingredients or chemicals too. The education behind the skin care industry is what intrigues me most, and it's encouraging to see the strides Beautycounter has made in promoting safer products. "Getting safer products into the hands of everyone" is their motto and that was something I could stand behind.

I'm always thrilled to see my friends and family investing in Beautycounter products, but it's not my aim to scare you into throwing everything in your house away and only buying Beautycounter products. I would encourage you to research more about what goes into the products you use and start small in making changes within your own home like I did. (Skin Deep is a handy app you can use to look up information on specific cosmetics and skin care products.) It might be swapping a certain lotion with coconut oil or a natural oil in your hair rather than a harsh conditioner. It might be cleaning out your medicine cabinet and giving essential oils a try. (Thieves and Peppermint do wonders.) Whether it's skin care, cleaning products or food, there are always healthier choices.

I do know that our bodies will fail us. I could be the crunchiest person on earth, but my hope shouldn't be in my doings or my body. We are far from perfect and that's all the more reason to rely on someone greater. I am challenged to be a better steward of the body God has given me though. I'm excited to be learning more about the industry and healthier options I can be making. 

"This is about progress—not perfection. Because every little bit counts." #betterbeauty #beautycounterdoesDC

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

no more heels

In college, I took up running as a pastime. I found it relaxing and helpful in getting rid of that "freshman 15" and those exam jitters. It was also an excuse to procrastinate studying and see the guy I had a crush on running on campus. Aside from a caffeine addiction and frequent visits to our dormitory cafe for cookies, I considered myself to be a healthy gal.

I graduated from college in 2007 and eventually married that handsome guy I had a crush on. We settled down in Fort Worth, Texas and I started teaching and working at a daycare part time. Many late nights were had preparing lessons and grading. I was a new wife who was learning how to encourage and know her husband better too.

In the summer of 2008, a tingling sensation in my left hand and foot began occurring on a regular basis. My foot and hand were "falling asleep" more often than normal, but I didn't worry about it. I was mostly just annoyed because I couldn't get rid of the tingling feeling by shaking it off like you normally would be able to do if your hand fell asleep. I knew I wasn't sitting on my limbs in a funny way either. All of the mental and physical "busyness" of this season was probably just catching up with my body. When stress strikes or when nerves are pinched or tightened, tingling can sometimes occur in your limbs too. Thanks Google.

Anxious to feel better (and get answers), I went to a chiropractor. An x-ray showed that a couple of discs in my spinal cord were slightly misaligned. It was possible that they were pinching one of my nerves and causing the tingling. After a few months of back adjustments and electrotherapy, my tingling sensations had stopped. Even though the problem was solved, my chiropractor suggested I visit a neurologist to monitor my body.

“My left hand and left foot seem funky. They tingled for a while, but that stopped. Now they seem to feel weak sometimes. They seem ‘floppy.’ I’m tripping and running into things a lot too. I went running with my husband and I hurt my ankle somehow. I’m not sure if that makes sense…?”

I felt ridiculous explaining these mysterious symptoms to my neurologist, but this is a pretty accurate description of the conversations we had. Over time, I began to notice new and irritating things my body was doing. Tod and I wanted to relive our runner days, so we began running around our neighborhood when we had time. As a new wife, I had to impress my new husband with hearty meals so he’d think I was the best, organized cook ever. Well, that was silly and needless to say, we had gained a few pounds. Running diligently was short-lived though because I had trouble lifting up my left foot and was tripping more often from weakness.

Hand and leg weakness became more frequent when I was stressed or certain tasks were more physically demanding. I felt weak after taking a shower and blow drying my hair. Raising my arm and hand to dry my hair was ridiculously difficult to do. I began to notice more tripping incidences at work as well. Walking up stairs or wearing heels to work was difficult. I found this out the hard way when I bit it in front of my students at school. I was wearing heels, and my left ankle rolled. I gracefully fell, but I managed to keep all of my school work intact. No more heels though. I felt no shame kicking off my shoes and walking limping to the car barefoot. Being barefoot seemed to be the easiest these days, but I’m still confused and frustrated at this point. On to more tests.

As I’m hopping up on the table to get an MRI, the lab technician asks me if I could possibly be pregnant. My husband and I share a bed, so naturally I reply, "Hhhm, yeah. It could definitely be possible, but I don’t think I am." The MRI and a diagnosis were postponed because it turns out I was pregnant with our little gal. We were thrilled, and I was anxious for a new, medical setting. On to my ob/gyn I went.

I honestly can't remember how my body acted when I was pregnant with Mae. I walked very carefully because I was afraid to trip, but I don't remember having many weakness "spells" in my limbs. Thankfully, there didn't seem to be much regression in the weird things my body was doing either and our healthy, beautiful daughter arrived in June, 2010. After our little gal was born, I continued testing and had frequent visits to the neurologist.

And finally the long-awaited (not really) results of a brain MRI and a spinal tap.

I frowned and nodded as my neurologist pointed out the lesions that were on my brain. He was confident that the lesions, or scars, proved to be symptoms of multiple sclerosis. My immune system was attacking and damaging the protective covering (myelin) around certain nerves in my brain and spinal cord. The lesions on my brain showed where the damage was done. Damaged myelin and deteriorating nerves caused miscommunications between my brain and the rest of my body. In this case, the nerves responsible for communicating with my left limbs were getting limited memos.

I remember sitting in the office with Mae, making sure she finished her bottle and hoping she’d take her morning nap. My mommy brain was racing through our schedule of the day and looking forward to nap time. My sleep-deprived self was not too concerned about a brain MRI. I wasn’t sure what all was entailed with multiple sclerosis either. Mentally, I was planning to Google it later now that I had a name for the funkiness my body was doing. I wasn’t crazy after all.

I didn’t expect a diagnosis of anything. Thankfully, I had not been worrying about what the doctor would say or what treatment I would take if they found something. I tend to overthink things and worry, so God was gracious to keep my mind preoccupied with caring for our little girl. It’s not that I didn’t care; I think I was just emotionally and mentally preoccupied. Our daughter Maevri is hugging my arm as I type this. I’m so grateful for God’s provision in caring for me throughout this pregnancy, and I’m reminded constantly of His perfection and faithfulness amidst the failures of my body.

I didn’t know how to react to this diagnosis, but I gradually processed it more as we discussed treatment options with my neurologist, friends and family.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Our little one turned one today. I say it every year, but golly, time flies. Bear has been one mellow dude, and it has been fun to see his personality come out more recently.

He loves throwing balls and being tickled (when he's not grumpy or tired), and his wide grins and loud giggles prove it. Lately, if music plays, he'll jump up and down or sway to keep a beat. The majority of the time (okay, maybe half) he's content with his siblings' hugs, kisses and tackles.

Bear, we are so grateful to be your parents and we pray that your life bears fruit that honors Christ.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Snow and 70 degree weather in March. Texas, you're crazy. Fifteen minutes. That's about how long the kids loved playing in the snow. [Almost 5, 3.5, and four months] 

Saturday, February 28, 2015


God said he shares his glory with no one: "I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images." (Isaiah 42:8)
God "shares" his glory with himself alone: Jesus. 
The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.  
Hebrews 7: 23-28