The Dissociation Aspect: Living with and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

Background

This is the fourth part in our series of “Living with and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis”.  A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the triggers aspect.  Today, we will be discussing the disassociation aspect.  Due to the response that I received from my ex-husband years ago, I started stuffing my feelings.  I can remember very clearly the exact moment that I decided that I would not cry anymore.  I was on the middle level of the townhome, not realizing I’d been heard.  At this point, I had been crying for almost an hour.  He told me that I should quiet down or the kids would possibly wake up.  He kept asking me for the reason behind my crying.  I refused to tell him because I had already figured out that the knowledge didn’t transfer over to things getting better.

healing, trauma, triggers, dissociation, grief, crying, mental health

Handling the Pain

Fast forward several years later to 2012, when it became clear that we were heading for divorce, the pain, crying, and feelings came on with full force.  I hadn’t cried for so long, that I had to relearn how to feel the feelings, if that makes sense.  Grieving was difficult because I was afraid of being out of control, and the crying not stopping.  This was due to stuffing my feelings for so long.  I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

What happened before, during, and after the divorce, including now, is that I have been living with managing trauma on a daily basis.  When I finally felt safe enough, I was able to start grieving a little at a time.  I quickly realized that the more you grieve, the less trauma that is stored emotionally, mentally, and physically in your body.  The less you grieve, the more trauma that is stored emotionally, mentally, and physically in your body.

The Dissociation Process

What I didn’t realize is that along with living with trauma on a day to day basis, you are still constantly having more trials, bringing more compounded trauma, and your brain gets on overload.  This is like a computer that has too many processes running at one time.  What ends up happening is that everything locks up, and you can’t do anything.  You have to reboot.  It’s the same way with trauma.  When you are so overloaded with compounded trauma, the one thing, no matter the intensity of it, becomes the straw that broke the camel’s back.  You start numbing out, and then dissociating.  Dissociation is a mental process of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity.

Prayer for Relief

You are probably going to laugh at this one.  At first, I started feeling out of control because my feelings started coming back on line, and then I start feeling out of control when my brain starting disassociating from the feelings to protect me.  I can remember one time in particular when the kids and I were living at our last residence, I was loaded up on trauma.  It was so bad, that I started dissociating.  Back then, I didn’t realize that dissociating helps to protect your mental state in these cases.  I prayed real hard, because I starting feeling out of control in the state that I was in, asking God to get rid of the dissociation.  He answered right away, and then all of the feelings came flooding through, with no bottom to ground me.  That’s when even in this bad state that I was in at the moment, I laughed, and told God that I guess I’d better be careful for what I pray for.  Now, I know that I just need to ride it out.  Everything happens for a reason.

 

Please feel free to send an email or respond with a comment down below if you are so led as to how you deal with the dissociating side of trauma.

Hope you have a blessed night!

 

Katina

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.

New International Version (NIV) Proverbs 34: 18-20
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4 Things That You Can Do With Picture Frames

I don’t know if you are like me, but I love pictures of all different shapes, sizes, and colors.  To me, pictures change the entire tone of a home.  Pictures and Jesus have two things in common: they give life to a room.  There is something about pictures of people that make our homes have that homey, cozy feeling deep down.  Of course, if we want to display pictures, then we need picture frames.  To be honest, they can be pricey.  I want to give you four tips on Picture Frames.  Maybe they might spark an upcycling idea or two.

 

Some of the best selection of picture frames are at the thrift stores.

When you have a tight budget, it forces you to change your selection options really fast.  I have found that I like the selection of picture frames from thrift stores better than the other stores that I used to frequent.  When Michael’s has their lowest prices of the season sale, you can get great frames for $5.  I have about four of them that I bought three years ago.  Goodwill has frames anywhere from $.99 to $3.99, which is great.  I try to give myself a $2.99 budget there.  There was one thrift store that I visited two years ago, and I thought that when I saw the $.50 tag on the frames, that is was a misprint.  The owner told me that they get so many new frames everyday, that they are able to offer them for such an inexpensive price.  The two frames below were brand new Pottery Barn picture frames when I bought them.  They even had an extra set of matting inside the frame in case you decided to change things up.  I painted these two frames with chalkboard paint and a medium brush to give them a washed-out, distressed look.

 

pictures, picture frames, thrift stores

 

 

pictures, picture frames, thrift stores

Picture frames give an interesting layout when they are different colors, shapes, and sizes.

The thicker frames give more depth and dimension, while the natural colored frames make any colored wall look great.  I think the most fun that I ever had with picture frames was trying to come up with a pattern and color scheme for this living room wall.  This was also the first time that I displayed so many pictures on one wall.

pictures, picture frames, thrift stores

 

These are two of the frames that I found at Michael’s for $5.00 a few years ago during their lowest prices of the season.  These are pictures of my son performing at a radio station during a one-on-one interview.

pictures, picture frames, thrift stores

 

Your pictures and picture frames tell a story about your family, your home, and your style.

They should be carefully selected to reflect who you are as a person, and as a family.

pictures, frames

Picture frames can be painted.

It took me several years to figure this out.  Years ago, I was watching a diy show on HGTV, and the hostess made the point that if you find the perfect frame for a great price, then buy some inexpensive paint to paint the frame the color that you’d like.  Now, I can’t even begin to tell you the number of picture frames that I’ve painted.  It’s all about personal preference.

If you feel inspired, send in a picture of a wall in your home with the history behind the pictures and the frames.

 

Have a blessed night!

 

Katina

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

 

5 Things That You Can Do with Crates

If anyone knows me, they know there are certain things that I love.  The top of the list are crates, jars, baskets, cutting boards, dishes, and aprons.  Whenever my daughter and I are looking around in stores with any of these items, she knows me.  I have to take a look.  I stand there and look at all the wonderful neutral colors.  Not only do I love seeing them in stores, but I love to decorate with them.  When it comes to storage, crates are at the top of the list for me.  They add a natural look and feel to the home, and can dress up any room.  Today, I am going to be discussing different things that you can do with crates.  Maybe you would like to adopt some ideas, or it might spark some interest as to what you can do with your own.

 Crates can be painted, or left plain, so that the natural pine makes a statement.

When we were living at our last residence, I bought my daughter four crates to help organize the belongings in her room.  I decided to paint them a mustard yellow to make the room pop.  When we moved here, she decided that she didn’t want them.  I painted one crate “Ponytail”, and I painted the other three crates black.  Ponytail is somewhere in the beige to tan family of colors.

Crates can be used to house magazines.

I was so happy when I thought about this idea.  However, it meant going through all the magazines that I had collected over the past couple of years, and thrown in piles on the floor all over the house.  I gave some away and I recycled some.  I made myself pair down to about 10 magazines, and decided that this was a sufficient amount to keep inside a medium sized crate.

crates, laundry, magazines

crates, laundry, magazines

Crates are great for displaying vases and candle holders.

A couple of weeks ago, I ran into my neighbor outside, and she told me that she was rearranging her cabinet, and that I could pick out some things that I wanted.  This was such a blessing!  The candle holders added just the pop of green that I needed for the living room.

crates, laundry, magazines

Crates can be used for sewing supplies.

I have a small hallway upstairs on the second floor.  In one corner, I keep a bag of pieces of material for upcycling, and then a crate filled with sewing and manicure supplies.  The safety pins are housed in clear jars.  Sewing needles and thread are housed in open plastic containers.  The picture on the right reminds me of my grandmother, because she loved sewing and wearing scarves on her head.

crates, laundry, magazines

crates, laundry, magazines

Last, but not least, crates can be used as storage for laundry.

You can use a couple of crates for the clean clothes, and a couple of crates for the dirty clothes.  I have a system of using one large crate for the towels, and then either dumping the dirty clothes into the washing machine, or in another crate or basket.

crates, laundry, magazines

Feel free to share your many uses for crates down below.

Blessings,

Katina

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Isaiah 46:4

 

God’s Timing is Everything

Reminders about God and HIs Timing

flowers, God's timing, beach, reminders

flowers, God's timing, beach, reminders

Ecclesiastes 3:11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

flowers, God's timing, beach, reminders

flowers, God's timing, beach, reminders

Today is a dreary, damp day.  However, I can look at these pictures and be reminded of how beautiful the last two days were.  The weather was perfect for hiking, walking, bicycling, picnicking, you name it.  There were about four different times on yesterday in the midst of my crazy, busy day, and long list of things to do, that I kept telling myself that it was time for me to take a walk, stretch my legs, decompress, get some fresh air, and just bask in God’s goodness.  It was also a day of struggles with perfectionism trying to reign, and me talking myself down, taking deep breaths, and reminding myself, “Rest in God. His grace is enough.  God will give you the grace to get the things done that you need to get done, and then everything else is tomorrow’s grace.”  My mind and spirit knew this.  However, the trauma started talking, and wanted me giving in to the overall shaky feeling that my body was having.

flowers, God's timing, beach, reminders

I took three books to the train station library, and then grabbed one to bring home.  My new rule is that if books are coming in, some have to be going out.  When I left out of the station, I decided to do what I had been planning for two weeks now:  take pictures of the flowers.  After taking these pictures, I decided to walk to the beach, and the water was absolutely beautiful.  Of course, I couldn’t just enjoy the view.  It was so pretty out, that I had to take some more pictures.

flowers, God's timing, beach, reminders

As I walked home, eager to do my last thing on the “To Do” list, I heard the screech of a door behind me.  I jumped.  Someone called my name.  It was a friend of mine from my Mom’s group, who happened to see me walking past as she was talking to her children.  She invited me to have dinner with them, and then I walked on home afterwards.  God’s timing is perfect.  If I had gone to the beach any earlier or later, I would have missed this fellowship and blessing of dinner.  I also needed the reminder from God to slow down, and take a deep breath, and really, truly smell the flowers.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

flowers, God's timing, beach, reminders flowers, God's timing, beach, reminders

Blessings!

Katina

Vegan & Ground Turkey Slow Cooker Bread Casseroles

Why the Slow Cooker Casserole?

Well, as you have probably figured out by now, there can’t be any cooking going on in this house without a little bit of drama attached to it.  A couple of weeks ago, my daughter called me while I was over my friend’s house, and she stated that the oven had been on preheat for 40 minutes, but still didn’t come on.  Hmmm.  Okay, breathe.  She proceeded to tell me that she didn’t realize we had just ran out of oil, so the meal that she tried cooking stuck to the bottom of the skillet, and she had to end up throwing it out.  Okay, breathe.  I definitely had to take a few minutes to process this one.  This became number 4 on our list of repairs that needed to be done, and will have to wait.

 vegan, ground turkey, bread casserole

Fast forward, my son and I were in the grocery store early last week, and I decided that I would make two breakfast bread casseroles.  They would last for a week, and the kids could heat them up in the microwave and head out to school.  After getting all of the ingredients except the tin foil pans from Dollar Tree, I thought, “Wait a minute.  The oven doesn’t work.”  This is when Plan B went into effect.  My grandmother used to always say, ” There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”  Although I don’t think anyone would do that.  Back to the story.  I kept thinking to myself would it be possible to make a bread casserole in a slow cooker.  I checked Pinterest, but their slow cookers were rectangular shaped, and their casseroles were not like mine.  Well, you know me by now.  I decided that the worst thing that could happen is that the casserole didn’t come out right.  Praise God!  It was delicious!  I hope you feel brave enough to try my concoction.  My kids loved it.  I made a vegan one, and then the next night, I made a non-vegan one.  Please feel free to email me with your favorite slow cooker recipes with permission, and I will post it for others to see.  Have a blessed night, and happy cooking!

 

Activity:  Making a Vegan & Ground Turkey Slow Cooker Casserole

vegan, ground turkey, healthy eating, bread casserole

Total Prepping and Cooking Time:  2.5 hours

vegan, ground turkey, healthy eating, bread casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack of hash browns
  • 1 pack of ground turkey
  • 1 pack of Lightlife Meatless Mexican Crumbles (vegan casserole)
  • 1 can of fire-roasted salsa style diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of cut-leaf spinach
  • 3 tablespooons of oil
  • 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups of low sodium vegetable broth (vegan casserole)
  • 2 cups of unsalted chicken broth
  • 3 teaspoons of onion powder
  • 3 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons of cumin
  • 3 teaspoons of turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons of marjoram
  • 3 slices of vegan bread
  • 3 slices of non-vegan bread
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 cups of milk

vegan, ground turkey, healthy eating, bread casserole

Directions:

  • Make a layer of eight to ten hash browns for layer 1.
  • Add the layer of uncooked meat, making sure to even distribute across.
  • Add half of the can of spinach.
  • Add half of the can of tomatoes.
  • Break up three slices of bread into cubes.
  • Add the water, broth, nutritional yeast, oil, and all the rest of the seasonings.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups of milk.  (I used oat milk.)
  • Cook on high for 2 1/2 hours.
  • Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

vegan, ground turkey, healthy eating, bread casserole

I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. Psalms 122:1, KJV

vegan, ground turkey, healthy eating, bread casserole

Devotion: 3 Things That We Can Learn from Strongholds

The Soap Opera

I loved watching the Brady Bunch as a kid.  I think every kid in the 70s and 80s watched The Brady Bunch.  There was always some drama going on.  I also used to watch soap operas starting in my teens.  It was one of the many ways my grandmother, Mudear, and I connected.  Some of the stories had you so caught up, that you couldn’t wait till the next day to see what happened.  Praise God that in my 30s, God delivered me from watching those soap operas.  The scenes got to be a little too much at times, and I was totally convicted about needing to give them up.  It’s funny because when one of the scenes came on, my grandmother would say, “Oh shoot!  I wish they would get to the other scene so that I can find out what happened.”  Some of the scenes in the bible play out like a soap opera.  The story that we are going to discuss today, should be sang to the tune of “The Brady Bunch” theme song:  “Here’s the story of a sin called deception……”Strongholds are hard to break and they run through like cancer in our families.  Let’s take a closer look at how the stronghold of deception took place in this particular family.

strongholds, sin, coping mechanism, trauma
Photo by Creative Vix on Pexels.com

ACT 1:

Isaac and Rebekah had twins: Esau and Jacob.  Esau was Isaac’s favorite, and Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite.  Rebekah decided to pull Jacob into the game of deception so that he could steal Esau’s birthright.  Scene 1 plays out with Rebekah helping Jacob setting up the stew and clothing to trick Isaac.  Scene 2 shows us a distraught Esau, who has missed his blessing.

Scene 1:

Go out to the flocks, and bring me two fine young goats. I’ll use them to prepare your father’s favorite dish. 10 Then take the food to your father so he can eat it and bless you before he dies.”

11 “But look,” Jacob replied to Rebekah, “my brother, Esau, is a hairy man, and my skin is smooth. 12 What if my father touches me? He’ll see that I’m trying to trick him, and then he’ll curse me instead of blessing me.”

13 But his mother replied, “Then let the curse fall on me, my son! Just do what I tell you. Go out and get the goats for me!”

14 So Jacob went out and got the young goats for his mother. Rebekah took them and prepared a delicious meal, just the way Isaac liked it.15 Then she took Esau’s favorite clothes, which were there in the house, and gave them to her younger son, Jacob. 16 She covered his arms and the smooth part of his neck with the skin of the young goats. 17 Then she gave Jacob the delicious meal, including freshly baked bread.  Genesis 27:9-17

Scene 2:

As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and almost before Jacob had left his father, Esau returned from his hunt. 31 Esau prepared a delicious meal and brought it to his father. Then he said, “Sit up, my father, and eat my wild game so you can give me your blessing.”

32 But Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”

Esau replied, “It’s your son, your firstborn son, Esau.”

33 Isaac began to tremble uncontrollably and said, “Then who just served me wild game? I have already eaten it, and I blessed him just before you came. And yes, that blessing must stand!”

34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a loud and bitter cry. “Oh my father, what about me? Bless me, too!” he begged.

35 But Isaac said, “Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has taken away your blessing.”

36 Esau exclaimed, “No wonder his name is Jacob, for now he has cheated me twice. First he took my rights as the firstborn, and now he has stolen my blessing. Oh, haven’t you saved even one blessing for me?” Genesis 27:30-36

ACT 2:

Act 2 plays out in that Jacob leaves his homeland, never to see mommie dearest again.  Instead, he is heading towards her brother’s home, Good, Old, Uncle Laban.  Uncle Laban isn’t as nice as he seems because Jacob makes a deal with him to work seven years for his daughter Rachel.  However, like his sister, Laban is filled with deception.  At the end of the seven years, Laban gives Jacob Leah instead of Rachel.  Leah gets to appear as the passive one, although she fully participated in the scheme, as Jacob did with Rebekah in tricking Isaac.  Scene 1 showed the end result of how this played out.

strongholds, sin, coping mechanism, trauma
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Scene 1:

Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.”

19 “Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than to anyone else. Stay and work with me.” 20 So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong that it seemed to him but a few days.

21 Finally, the time came for him to marry her. “I have fulfilled my agreement,” Jacob said to Laban. “Now give me my wife so I can sleep with her.”

22 So Laban invited everyone in the neighborhood and prepared a wedding feast. 23 But that night, when it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her. 24 (Laban had given Leah a servant, Zilpah, to be her maid.)

25 But when Jacob woke up in the morning—it was Leah! “What have you done to me?” Jacob raged at Laban. “I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?”

26 “It’s not our custom here to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,” Laban replied. 27 “But wait until the bridal week is over; then we’ll give you Rachel, too—provided you promise to work another seven years for me.”

28 So Jacob agreed to work seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel, too. 29 (Laban gave Rachel a servant, Bilhah, to be her maid.) 30 So Jacob slept with Rachel, too, and he loved her much more than Leah. He then stayed and worked for Laban the additional seven years. Genesis 29: 18-30

strongholds, sin, coping mechanism, trauma
Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

ACT 3:

Act 3 plays out in that Jacob’s boys are out and about, and Joseph comes in his coat of colors to tell them about his dream.  They decide to do something about daddy’s favorite, but not without deceiving their dad into thinking Joseph is dead.

Scene 1:

When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. 19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. 20 “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”

strongholds, sin, coping mechanism, trauma
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

21 But when Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. 22 “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.

23 So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. 24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.

26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime.27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother—our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty piecesd]”>[d] of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.

29 Some time later, Reuben returned to get Joseph out of the cistern. When he discovered that Joseph was missing, he tore his clothes in grief. 30 Then he went back to his brothers and lamented, “The boy is gone! What will I do now?”

31 Then the brothers killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood. 32 They sent the beautiful robe to their father with this message: “Look at what we found. Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?”

33 Their father recognized it immediately. “Yes,” he said, “it is my son’s robe. A wild animal must have eaten him. Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes and dressed himself in burlap. He mourned deeply for his son for a long time. 35 His family all tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “I will go to my grave mourning for my son,” he would say, and then he would weep. Genesis 37: 18-35, NLT

Scene 2:

Scene 2 plays out in that after Joseph is sold as a slave, he is put into high command in Pharaoh’s house.  Pharaoh’s wife falsely accuses him of assault, and Joseph is placed in prison.  Joseph is released from prison after being able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream.  He is promoted just in time to save Egypt from a famine, and wouldn’t you know, his brothers have to come to his town to get food.  Instead of Joseph deceiving and punishing his brothers, he chooses to forgive, and redeem the stronghold of deception.

strongholds, sin, coping mechanism, trauma
Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.

“I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.  Genesis 45: 1-8, NLT

strongholds, sin, coping mechanism, trauma
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What does this crazy soap opera of events teach us?

  1.  Strongholds are sin.

Sometimes as Christians we feel that calling something a stronghold makes the sin sound better.  Once we are able to handle the truth that our strongholds are indeed sin, then we are able to start doing something about the sin before it gets out out control.  I struggle with the sin of perfectionism.

     2. Strongholds become coping mechanisms.

I was born with an imprint of trauma on my brain due to slavery from my ancestors, a slavery-style caste system in the South that my family had to endure, and the continuing oppression of slavery “wrapped with a bow” in the city of Chicago.  Trauma has by-products of criticism and perfectionism.  Perfectionism became my coping mechanism.  It has been a part of me since I was a little girl.  However, it is still sin.

    3.  Strongholds are passed down when they are not resolved.

The hardest thing for us to realize is that our sin gets passed down when it isn’t addressed.  God has spoken gently to my heart recently to deal with the sin head on so that my kids can see me walk in this freedom.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  Romans 8: 1, KJV

 

Healing: Lisa Allen’s Weight Journey

Today is the debut of our new weekly series entitled “Healing”.  This is Lisa Allen’s Weight Journey.

My name is Lisa Allen. I live in Lake Villa, IL, and have been a single mother for the past 16 years. I have two kids: my daughter is 17, and my son is 21.  Just to let you know, I am a pastor’s kid too! My dad was a Methodist pastor.  He passed away in 2015, due to a myriad of health issues such as diabetes, heart issues, high blood pressure, and gout.  I have struggled with my weight since as long as I can remember.  If I had to think back, 9 years old is what comes to my mind.  My parents were divorced when I was 9 years old.  This was really painful since my dad was a pastor. They had been married 23 years.  My mom, brothers, and me moved to a new town and started over. My oldest brother hated apartment living, so he moved back with my Dad. We had a two bedroom apartment, and my brother and I could not share a room, so I had to share my mom’s king size bed. It was awful not having my own room.  This even went on in my middle and high school years.  I watched my mom emotionally eat after her divorce, and gain 100 plus pounds, and so my brother and I picked up her poor eating habits. I was always trying to lose weight and very insecure.  Another thing that was difficult is that I was bullied over my weight.

church, Methodist, weight loss journey, Lisa Allen
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Fast forward to the time I got married, I had worked hard to lose weight for my wedding day.  I gained a lot of weight with both pregnancies.  Then after I had both of my kids, I struggled to lose the weight. My ex-husband made me feel bad about the weight I had gained. I did find out it was related to my thyroid.  It did not matter.  He still did not like that I had become overweight.  He eventually cheated on me and asked me for a divorce. Then I repeated the cycle that my mom showed me.  I emotionally ate with the stress of becoming a single mom.  My daughter was 22 months old and my son was 5 when their dad left.  I felt worthless.

I was so overwhelmed and so depressed.  I just ate and ate, till one day I reached my all time high of 354 pounds. The weight on my knees was so horrible that it hurt to walk and get up off the couch. I felt so old and wondered if this was how I was going to live out my life.  I had no energy, and was exhausted all the time.  I was on high blood pressure and anti-depression medication.  I prayed so hard.  I begged God for a solution, so I could get the weight off, and get healthy for my kids and myself.  My kids are also overweight.  I just felt like I was a failure as a mom.  I had started Weight Watchers and lost 10 pounds, but I still had no energy, and I felt so bad.  I was up 4-5 times per night.  Filled with exhaustion, I was falling asleep behind the wheel on the highway on my way to work . I needed something, but I just did not know the answer.  I just kept praying.

church, Methodist, weight loss journey, Lisa Allen
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One day, a friend of mine posted information on a weight transformation program.  I liked her post.  She reached out to me, and asked if I wanted to learn more about this health and wellness system she and her husband were using.  I agreed to listen and learn more.  I had tried so many things in my life and failed them all.  I was not confident in myself.  I kept thinking to myself, “If I tried something else, would I fail again?”

I listened to my friend, and then I understood how the system worked. I told her I was headed out of town to my father’s house in Wisconsin for our 4th of July family reunion.  I needed to pray about this and get back to her after my trip.  While I was at my dad’s home in Wisconsin, I prayed about it.  What is so sad is that my dad would have lived so much longer had he taken care of his health.  I miss him so very much, and just wished he had led a healthy life so he could still be here with me today.

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I was so worried about failing again. I just asked God, if this program is right for me, then let me know, and I will trust in you and go ahead and do it.  I woke up in the morning with this incredible peace that came over me.  I knew I needed to move forward, and get my body healthy again.  So I called my friend and told her yes, and I asked her what my next steps were for getting started.  I began this journey on July 14, 2017, about 6 weeks before my BIG 50th birthday! I was headed to Vegas at the end of August to celebrate my birthday with a high school friend who had moved out there.  I was feeling amazing just after 5 days of this system!  I had energy again!! For the first time in my life, I felt really alive!

When it came time to leave for vacation, I packed a suitcase with all my healthy products! I did not want to blow this on vacation.  On my past vacations, I ate poorly, and I would cheat, cheat, cheat!  I was determined to stay on course.  I even taught my friend and her daughter how to healthy food prep while I was there.  We had a couple evenings where we did eat a meal out, but I kept it to moderation and made good choices.    We went out on my birthday, and I even enjoyed two glasses of wine and a nice seafood dinner.  All the other days, I stuck right to my program. I  returned home from my vacation maintaining my weight.  It was the first time in my whole life that I succeeded on a vacation! So I just kept going when I returned  home.

church, Methodist, weight loss journey, Lisa Allen
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When wintertime came, I think my body was hitting a plateau. I was not losing pounds, but I was still losing inches. So I just kept pressing on.  In the past, I would have given up if the scale was not moving.  I knew that the system was still working because the inches were still coming off!

At this point, I was taking high blood pressure, anti-depressants, and thyroid medications.  My health insurance was awful.  In January, I needed to refill my prescriptions, and I could not afford to go to the doctor.  I went off of them cold turkey.  I knew this could be dangerous, but I did not have a choice. I decided to start exercising in January with a friend.  It began with three days a week, riding the bike for thirty minutes.  I wanted to make the exercise into a habit, so I made the small goal of three times a week.

Once I made that a habit, then I would increase my goal.  I was doing 3 x a week, 30 minutes in the evening after work.  It was a struggle because I worked 10 hour days.  After working out for two months, I decided to ask my friend if we could change our workout time to 5 am, before I started work.  Honestly, I could not imagine working out this early, but I knew it was the best time to get the workout done!  This now meant that three days a week I need to get up at 4:20 AM.  I was really stretching myself!! So I started working out three times a week at 5 am! Then one day my friend could not work out with me.  I panicked, and I had anxiety walking into the gym by myself.  I knew I did not want to miss my workout, so I prayed.  I asked God to give me the courage to walk through the doors by myself.  I need to do this for myself! After all, it was up to me to succeed in my new lifestyle.  So I walked in with my head held high, and went into the gym and did my workout.  When I was riding the bike 🚲, I listened to “Overcomer” by Mandisa(Christian song). I felt God’s presence with me as I did that workout alone that morning.  Little by little, my confidence in myself was coming back! Praise God! I would say I kept this three times a week going for 3-4 months, and then my body was asking me for more! Now my friend could only do the three days. So I started working out 5 days a week at 5 am,and two of the days were by myself!  Again I was stretching myself! I listened to upbeat music and got those workouts done! This was a huge accomplishment for me! I know God was walking along side of me through this whole journey.

church, Methodist, weight loss journey, Lisa Allen
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Meanwhile, the scale was still not moving, so I knew that being off my thyroid medication was most likely messing with my metabolism.  I called Lake County Health Department and scheduled them to do blood work on me so I could get back on my medications. They took my blood pressure, and I was nervous because I had been off the medication 3-4 months cold turkey.

The whole time that I was off the medications, I just kept praying to God.  I said to him, “God protect me while I am off these medications. Please protect me from any health complications over being off the high blood pressure medication.  It would be devastating if I landed in the hospital with any complications being off these medications, because I don’t have good health insurance.”  I said “God, I will continue doing my part with this great nutrition. I am using and continuing my exercise routine.” So I just kept saying,” God’s will, my effort! I will be healthy, and no health complications will come from being off these medications.”  I was sitting in the doctor’s office, and the nurse said, “Wow, your blood pressure reading is really good”! I was so over the moon happy! I told her I was so concerned being off the medications, but I also told her that I had been on a health journey since last year, and I had lost 50 pounds and 69 inches! She said,” WOW, that is so awesome!! Keep that going, that is awesome!!  The doctor came in and said, “Lisa we don’t have to put you back on the blood pressure medication anymore.  Your healthy lifestyle is paying off.” I seriously did a happy dance in her office.  She also asked me if  it was safe to say that I didn’t need my antidepressant anymore.  I said, “No I have felt great and happy”!  So the only medication I have to take now is my thyroid.  This was HUGE news for me!

The lesson here for the ladies is that it’s NOT all about the scale.  There are so many victories over my one year journey! 50 pounds gone off my aching knees, and 69 inches lost.  Getting off my blood pressure and antidepressants were HUGE victories!! So I continue with my journey of my healthy living.  My goal this year is to lose 60 pounds by August 2019, which will give me a grand total of 100 pounds lost! Then, I can cross the stage at the company’s Celebration Convention, and enter into their 100 pound club!

It’s a HUGE  goal which I know I will do!! God’s will, my effort! I am a work in progress. I remind myself to love myself right where I am! God made me in HIS image! I am beautifully and wonderfully made! I pray that God will use me to help others who might me in a dark place praying for a solution to get themselves healthy.  I hope and pray I could inspire someone else to make the decision to get healthy, and live in the body God intended you to live in! I thank God everyday for this journey! It is never too late to re-write your story! I am living proof at 50 years old.  I made a decision to get healthy! God is so good! He answered my prayer! My journey is still going and I now have the confidence and belief in myself to see this through! I am so blessed and grateful!

 

Praise God for Lisa’s story! Every week we will feature a new story, a new woman who overcame struggles, and exemplified God’s faithfulness.  If you would like to share your story, please email us your story at thorton479@gmail.com.  Have a blessed weekend!

The Triggers Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

Triggers

The “Triggers” aspect of living with and healing from trauma on a daily basis can be daunting at times.  There are days when my brain, emotions, and intuition are right on target.  It is almost like nothing ever happened.  Reality check!  However, there are other days when I am going back and forth trying to decide whether my intuition and the Holy Spirit are trying to tell me something, or if I am just being triggered.  In the beginning, almost everything was a trigger.  Now, I am more evened out where most days are decent, but then other days my symptoms are running rampant, and I have to remind myself that my identity is in Christ, and it is the trauma talking and trying to take over, and to just ride it out.  What I noticed is that with trauma triggers, the more you feed into it, the more your anxiety gets worked up, and thus, the more intense are the triggers.  It can become a vicious cycle.

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Dissecting the Trigger Cycle

One of the hardest things about previously being in a relationship with someone emotionally abusive, and having that person gaslight you almost every day, is that initially it makes you think that every person you talk to who is lying is trying to gaslight you.  Because of the fact that our brains have been through so much,  and is trained to react to certain patterns, it takes a while to get out of this mode.  Full disclosure to help people out  who have teenagers, and live with trauma on a daily basis:   This can be some of the hardest times for you, as it has been for me, because teens take words and change them around from what it is that you are actually saying.  This is part of their development.  However, again, for someone who was in a relationship where they dealt with emotional abuse, and you were gaslight, and everything got turned around and twisted to make it seem like you were the problem, this can be rough.  Reminding yourself that this is a trigger, part of their development, and will get better was essential for me.  My therapist even reminded me, with these words:  “This is going to be a hard time  for you.”  She wasn’t joking.  Initially,  I was discouraged.  However, after time, things got better with this particular trigger.  I pray that it will for you as well.

I hope that this series is helping someone who is needing encouragement as they live with PTSD and trauma on a daily basis.

You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

Isaiah 26:3, NKJV

Blessings,

 

Katina

The Inner Critic Aspect: Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis

The First Part of the Critic

Today we are discussing another part in the series:  Living With and Healing from Trauma on a Daily Basis.  It took me a while on this healing journey that I have been on to realize that there is what is called an inner critic of trauma.  The first part of the inner critic aspect of trauma is the critic that is someone else’s voice.  This someone else may have been a parent, a friend, a relative, stranger, or someone else who said something in your childhood that rocked you to the core of your being.  Their comments of criticism and negativity caused you to internalize what they said, and then live out what they said as if it was the truth coming from the bible.  As a child, I was abandoned by my father, and because of this abandonment, I felt rejected.  In a child’s mind, there has to be some reason for this, and oftentimes fault themselves for the situation.  In my mind, since my father was no longer with my mom, and I felt rejected, then I concluded that my mom had rejected me as well.  This set the stage.  I was standing outside of my childhood church, when I overheard a comment said by one teenager to another: “Oh, her mom is so beautiful.  I wonder what happened to her?”  This became the first part of my ruling critic.  It “sealed the deal”  on my already low self-worth and insecurities about my appearance.  The second “other voice” of my inner critic was that of my ex-husband in his brokenness, who used my low self-worth to keep me under his thumb.  He would purposefully say and do things that would reinforce my low self-worth and insecurities.  I had to begin the process of deprogramming my brain from everything that was said and done, and look to the truth of who God says that I am in order to regain my identity and self-worth in him.  This process is one that is tedious, because you have to keep asking, “Are these words really reflecting who I am as a person, or is the “Other person inner critic”, and then telling yourself, ” I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.

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The Second Part of the Critic

The second part of the inner critic is yourself.  Yes, yourself.  This is a hard pill to swallow.  After being able to distinguish whether the critic voices are true to your sense of self or not, then comes the hard part of dealing with the lies that you have formed about yourself that the enemy convinced you of from day one.  There are no fingers to point at this stage because the mirror is only reflecting us.  These lies force us to deal with things by using coping mechanisms to get through life.  The coping mechanisms are byproducts of trauma.  Mine is perfectionism.  This perfectionism starting off as overachievement in school, but by the time my brokenness met up with my ex-husband’s it went into every area of my life.  However, there gets to a point on life, when God says, ” Enough! I freed you, and I want you to walk in it.”  Our coping mechanisms only work so long before we are faced with walking the path of freedom from them, or having them to stunt our growth in certain areas.  When we get rid of anything, it has to be replaced with something else.  I have found that if I am not striving/perfecting/overachieving/then I need to be resting in God.  I am not sure what your coping mechanisms are, but God can handle them all, one day at a time.

Blessings,

Katina

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.  Psalms 139:14

 

Rejoice in the Lord

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.  Philippians 4:4

Dissecting Rejoice

What does the word rejoice mean? Joy is one of the fruit of the spirit.  The fruit of the spirit are all independent of our feelings, although when we are going through things, it definitely doesn’t seem like it.  When we have joy, it is when we focus on God’s goodness, grace, mercy, and all the things that he has blessed us with.  So, when we are rejoicing, it is doing this over and over again until it gets contagious to others.  Sometimes when I listen to praise music, and I bask in God, and who he is to get centered, I get so filled, that I am just beside myself, literally having worship service in my kitchen or living room.  It’s not that my circumstances have changed at all, but God is using the praise music to steer my heart close to him.  So even though nothing has changed, everything has changed.

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Reality

When we go through trials, and unfortunately, this summer has given me my fair share, we will know beyond a shadow of a doubt what Philippians 4:4 means.  It isn’t going to be easy, and it hasn’t been for me.  Sometimes I have to air out my feelings and tell God that I know what he says in Romans 8:28, ” And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”, but right now I am just upset by yet another trial.  After I get it out, then I can praise him.  What I notice is that when I don’t get my feelings out, then there is internal conflict, and when our emotions are split, we can’t be in the present.  I also have to remind myself that God already knows my heart, and since he already knows, what better time to air my frustrations, so that I can move on.  So that I can get to the rejoicing part.

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I have a saying that I like to tell my kids all the time.  They laugh, but it is true:  Every morning we get to hit the reset button on God’s mercy.

 

Blessngs,

Katina