Books and Loss and Faith

I have been doing a lot of reading. Most of the stuff I read is purely for entertainment with a few informative non-fiction books thrown in that are almost always about parenting or healthy eating or both. I also belong to a book club, so I get my fix of the literary fiction that I find both beautiful and, lately, too emotionally charged. A friend on Facebook (of all places!) posted a link to an e-book she was going to be reading where the authors would also be conducting a weekly book club discussion of each chapter. So I have been reading this amazing book, Hope For The Weary Mom: Where God Meets you in Your Mess for the last few weeks. I finished it early just because I needed the support of the authors’ words and the hope offered in the title.

The chapter they are discussing this week is about loss. It is crazy how easy it is to access such raw emotion. Always the deep thinker, I have been doing a lot of “feeling” with my intellect rather than my heart. I tell myself all the right things to help soothe the turbulence that has taken up residence inside of me. I have relied on prayer and positive thinking and distraction to try and give myself time to scab over that raw place on my heart. But reading about another woman’s loss and her struggle with her emotions, her faith, just ripped me open again. Since writing about my own losses, I have had so many women in my life come forward and share their own story of loss. It amazes me how much we, as women, hide of ourselves. We hide our pain. We hide our worries. Sometimes we even hide our faith.

I have always believed in God. I grew up going to church as a child and learning about God in Sunday school. The churches I attended with my family were traditional, conservative churches where you sat, quietly, and listened and worshiped, quietly. My parents never really discussed their religious beliefs and I don’t remember talking openly about God. I knew they believed, but it was something personal that we didn’t talk about. My belief was strong, but personal. This is the first time I have ever spoken, or written about my own faith. A lot of that is because of judgment. I have found that people that openly discuss their faith or quote scripture seem to be judged by our society as close-minded fanatics bent on stopping the positive progression of society. This is not my own belief and I am neither close-minded, nor a fanatic trying to halt positive change in the world.

But I keep my most personal beliefs, thoughts and feelings close. I think most people do. One thing I did not write about back in March, when I was grieving so fiercely, was my struggle with my own faith. It is hard to have faith in a loving God when you are feeling so much pain. It is hard to say a prayer each night for the strength you need, for the hopes you have, when you feel let down. Faith is about trust. When you have faith in God and His plan for you, you are trusting in Him. You are vulnerable. You are helpless. And when bad things happen, it hurts you both emotionally and spiritually.

As I struggled with my grief and all the complex emotions that go along with the loss of a baby, I was also struggling with my faith in God. How could I turn, now, to the one who let me down? What had I done wrong? Was there some meaning in these losses that I hadn’t yet discerned? Was I not a good enough mother to my other children? Was I being greedy wanting more children when I had already been blessed with two healthy kids? Was I supposed to take this grief and use it to help other women in need? No one will ever understand God’s plan. I know this. That doesn’t mean I accept not knowing, but I understand that I will never understand the whys I keep asking myself.

After 7+ years of marriage, I have finally gotten my husband to agree to attend church with me. I have waited patiently (yes, I was patient about something for once in my entire life!) for 7 years, never pushing, never nagging, just occasionally sharing some of my spiritual beliefs with my husband. This summer, with no warning, he turned to me and asked me if I would like to check out some local churches. We checked out a church that I knew some friends attended and have been going ever since. It’s been interesting! I’ll tell you about it soon, I promise. But even though my faith seems stronger than ever, I falter. The anxious control freak inside of me struggles with trusting anyone but myself. Daily, I worry, I hope and I pray for the strength to just let go and accept that I am not always the only guide down the path of my life. I cannot always be in control. I will never be able to predict the events in my future and protect myself from them. Life is going to happen and I just have to have faith.

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The Gluten Free Family

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I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no, another one of those health food fanatics.” That is not what I am about at all. In July, I stopped eating gluten at the recommendation of my doctor to alleviate, of all things, arthritis pain. Yes, I’m 37 and already have arthritis. In fact, I found out 3 years ago that my knees and 3 discs in my back are arthritic. As I have spent the last few years discovering, arthritis can be almost unnoticeable, or it can cause unbearable pain. So, in the hopes of some pain relief, I started cutting gluten from my diet.

The idea of avoiding all wheat products was horrifying! The staple of the American diet is wheat. You know, those “amber waves of grain?” They are in EVERYTHING!! Or almost everything. And gluten free foodstuffs can be pricey. So no gluten free crackers or gluten free bread or gluten free cookies in my house because I just can’t afford them. Fortunately for me, the gluten free “craze” is pretty prevalent right now. There are tons of gluten free bloggers out there publishing their recipes for all to see. For a while, I was flying solo on the gluten free lifestyle, with the rest of my family just having a gluten free dinner. But soon, I started noticing some other positive changes in my health. My husband noticed too. He decided he would try it. Since eating foods without wheat can be a challenge that is exactly how it saw it – as a challenge he would rise to and triumph over.

Since my early 20s I have suffered from migraines. Turn-off-the-lights-and-sound-and-lay-as-still-as-you-possibly-can-or-you’ll-puke-from-the-pain migraines. I have also suffered from a flushing form of Rosacea, which I assume was inherited through my eastern European ancestry. It’s why I don’t drink alcohol, eat super spicy food, or do high intensity aerobic exercise in public. I turn a nice shade of beet red. I once signed up for a boot-camp workout class at the local gym and the instructor kept coming over and asking me if I was all right. The woman thought I was going to have a stroke because of my red face and ears and chest. I never went back. But as I’ve cruised along in my 30s, I have begun to notice a general ruddiness to my skin tone that I assumed couldn’t be helped. After a month of eating absolutely no products that contain wheat (or barley, rye and other grains containing gluten), my skin lost some of that ruddiness and looked clearer and younger. My headaches stopped. Not just the migraines, but also the general headaches I was getting here and there.

I started losing weight. My stomach stopped cramping after every meal. The canker sores that would randomly show up in my mouth healed and never returned. I started sleeping better. I wasn’t waking up tired. I had more energy during the day. My mood was elevated. My anxiety level, which had been at the on-the-edge-of-flipping-out level, went down. I felt rested, calm, happy, pain free, and even better looking.

Even after Mike and I were completely gluten free, I wasn’t as strict with the kids’ diet. I still served up the occasional fish sticks or chicken nugget meal for lunch. After a few months like this, my daughter asked for Mac & cheese for lunch. I happened to have a box in the pantry and cooked it up for the kids’ lunch that day. Both of my kids ate less than their normal serving of the pasta and went off to play. 30 minutes later, Caylie was crying that her stomach hurt. Chase told me his tummy hurt as I put him down for his nap. Bye, bye gluten.

Caylie’s pre-school teacher started commenting about how great she was suddenly doing at school. We had been struggling with some focusing issues during group learning time, but suddenly Caylie was at the top of her game. All my worries about a possible ADD diagnosis were over. Her behavior started to improve at home. Her sleeping regulated. Halleluiah! (Although, I should point out that we had also taken Caylie to see a pediatric sleep specialist and were implementing other changes with sleep as well.)

If you think I’m imagining all these great health changes, let me tell you, I started eating some gluten again around the holidays and everything in my body went to hell! Migraines, red skin, stomach cramps, joint pain, canker sores, restless nights, exhaustion, anxiety, depression, you name it, I was suffering from it. Back to gluten free and I’m feeling much better.

My hobby nowadays is Pinning recipes on Pinterest. I’m so addicted to Pinterest! My latest favorite is finding gluten free lunch box ideas for when Caylie starts kindergarten in the fall. We’ve already tried some out and they went over well. Mike lost 15 pounds and said he feels so good he is never eating wheat again. I have to agree. And the meals I’ve been making are tasty too. It’s a win for the Noyer family!

So now you know what I’ve been doing for the last 6 months. Do you think you could give up wheat? It’s not as hard as it seems.

Hide and Seek

As a woman, or a mother, have you ever just wanted to run and hide? I’m reading a book that asked me the question: have you ever felt like just walking away? Yes. I have.

I haven’t written in a while. Partly because I didn’t have anything new to say, but mostly because I just wanted to hide for a while. Keep my mouth shut and my emotions close. My writing may have stopped, but life never did. That’s the way of a mother’s life. Things never slow down or stop moving along. Kids grow, learn new things, astound you with new abilities, make new friends, start playing sports and mom just jogs along behind, trying to keep up. Well, that’s what I’ve been doing, jogging along trying to keep up and letting that run fill up all my days and thoughts.

It’s a new year and I’m hoping for a new beginning, both for me and my writing. My family has some new things going on. We have become a gluten free household after discovering a gluten sensitivity last year. And we have started going to church as a family. This may not sound like much, but I feel like they are huge steps with long-term benefits for all of us.

I rang in the New Year, not with a resolution, but with hope. I hope, this year, to be a better me, physically, mentally and spiritually. I have hope for a healthier, more joyful year. And I hope that I will feel able to write about it and to share it with you.

Do you make a resolution each year? What did you decide on this year? What do you hope for?