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Hello My friends.  Once again I come to you, apologetic for my absence. Summer just takes so much energy, that I can barely keep up with responsibility, much less find time to sit in the quiet and write. This summer is particularly crazy, and I know my myself well. I know that I have to honor my body to keep myself healthy, and when I see myself faced with months of endless activity, travel,  and guests, it can freak me out a little. Add a fairly new Celiac diagnosis in there and Summer fun becomes quite an overwhelming series of events. As Spring was winding up and my Summer calendar was getting more and more cluttered, I decided that this year, I am going with the flow. I will remember to give my body what it needs so that I can be my best me. I will remember that I do not enjoy the rat race, that I finally broke myself of that feeling “I wish life would just slow down some”, and learned how to apply it. That my friends, extended family, and guests are still part of that race, and that it is ok for me to tell them I need a nap, and can not fathom a fourth day in town this week. It is so freeing. So liberating, to honor my body even when people whom I long to please are going faster than me. But, what I found even more fulfilling, was that my loved ones accepted and respected my decision to honor my bodies needs despite a desire to run with them. After weeks and weeks of running and doing and hosting, I am refreshed, rejuvenated, and so full of gratitude that is overflows out my eyes daily. Yes, this is how I explain my big emotions to people who don’t really understand why I am crying. Look, I am a small woman, with huge emotions, and I just cannot contain them all. Love, Gratitude, Appreciation, they leak out my face in the same way that sadness, hurt, and disappointment do. I easily overwhelm with emotion, and I am thankful for that. I am thankful that I recognize that emotions are a gift we are meant to use, and I am especially thankful that the majority of mine are on the pleasant end of the spectrum anymore.

My brain feels like it is full of word soup. I have been overwhelmed with gratitude and such a peace in my spirit lately. I often find myself looking for a place to start when attempting to teach someone how to break the cycles of anxiety and mental unhealth. It is truth that happiness is our choice, but if no one ever taught you the skills to be happy, how can you possibly believe that? I have come to recognize that when we tell people that happiness is their choice, we have to be prepared to offer some guidance on how to make that choice. I often start by asking people what their passion is. We can’t get to an end goal if we don’t know what it is, and often, following your passion is what brings people real joy in life. I have found that my passion stems from things that at one point burdened me, and it is because of this, that I believe that our burdens are our blessings in disguise. Because the things that have been my biggest obstacles have all led me to understand my calling here on Earth. They have become the things that I am passionate about.

My in-laws were here last week, and my Father in law stated with a chuckle, that I was a passionate person. I doubt that he knows how greatly his simple comment impacted me. One of the greatest compliments of my life. I hope to live with passion and full of love every single day that I breathe. Lately, my passions have slightly adjusted the path that I am on. With the Celiac diagnosis, I have become very educated about food, and the state of our current food system. I believe that diet is going to be a major factor to overcome in order to see mental unhealth resolution, and I have become strongly passionate about the quality of the food our system is providing.

I have had to admit that I am a feminist. That one was hard. The term makes me cringe. I do not want to be lumped into that group. The word feminist evokes images of pink pussy hats, and leather strap wearing women grabbing their crotches publicly, and I just don’t fit in that category at all. In my brain, those images are the demoralization of femininity. So, I have learned to accept that I am a moderately conservative Christian feminist. I am happy to submit to my husband, because he honors me. Because we honor each other, and  to refuse to submit to him would be to refuse to compromise. He compromises, supports, listens, and submits himself to me at least as often as I am asked to do the same for him, and I gladly accept the role as his partner. That means we both submit. But as a woman, I am honored in this home, by this man, and by his family. Feminist is a hard word for me, but the fact is, I had to accept it, because I have developed a strong passion for teaching women that they do not have to live with these hurts and shame triggers. They are not condemned to a lifetime of depression and anxiety. Honestly, I am happy to help men too, I just find that less of them reach out. Maybe that is because I am married and don’t often strike up conversations with random men. I can’t be sure. I just know that if anyone, male or female, wants to heal, I am happy to start them down the path. The fact that 90% of the people I work with are females lumps me into that feminist category. That and the fact that I feel a strong sense of desire to help men understand how vulnerable women feel most of the time. As we grow in our marriage together, my husband, who is a good Christian man, has a beautiful relationship with Christ, and would never knowingly hurt or intimidate another person, has been a spotlight shining on the issue of female vulnerability. He showed me something that we are missing as women, in our quest to feel safe and respected with our men. His willingness to let me bounce ideas off him, and to share about feminine vulnerability, things would never have crossed his male mind, has shown me that we are failing to teach men what women need.

I speak openly about the hurts I have endured in life, the addictions, abuses, rapes and molest that had a part in forming the woman I am today. The shame that I had to overcome to heal them, and the blessings they turned out to be as I shed the shame that kept me bound to unhealth. I have a passion burning in my soul to help women see that they don’t have to live with this shame and lack of self-worth. That it is not their burden to carry, and that they may be able to use it as a gift to help another woman shed these chains one day. But, I am learning that we need to educate men. They need to be taught how to make us feel safe in their presence. That we live in a society where women drop f-bombs right alongside the men, and where women scream of being treated equally, and  somewhere along the lines, men forgot that women are sensitive, That we are the healers and nurturers of the planet. That this is why the old farmers took it to the barn. They knew their women were gentle spirits, and they wanted to keep it that way. Somewhere along the line, dads lost the skill of teaching their boys how to treat a woman. And the only way they can know what we need, is for someone to teach it to them. I speak openly so that we can heal hurts, but in the process I have come to see that most men are just blatantly unaware of how their words and actions are perceived so much differently in a woman’s mind, than from a male perspective. We need to learn how to communicate with the opposite sex. We need to grasp and accept that men and women are wired very differently, with skill sets that are meant to compliment each other, but we must learn to recognize the different ways in which we are programmed, in order to find healthy communication amongst ourselves. We need to recognize what we are doing to men as well as women. Feminism speaks to women being treated as equals. This is a matter of perspective. I never want to be seen as the same as my husband, but there is no question in his mind, or mine, that we are equals. We were brought together to balance one another. To use our strengths and weaknesses together to become something better, but we are far from the same. In the process of fighting for equality, it would do all of us women some good to step back and look at the way men are being shamed in this society. It’s possible that we would have healthier men if we spent less time calling them names and shaming them as the inferior gender, and more time helping them to understand why we feel vulnerable, and teaching them how we actually deserve and need to be treated for both parties to get their needs met in a healthy way. It is possible that our men would be better equipped to respect us, if we quit shaming them all day long, and started respectfully educating them.

This all started with passions. Like I said, word soup. What I have observed in myself in the recent months, is that my passions have changed slightly. I have developed this passion for food, and I have put clearer definitions around my passion to help others heal and grow into a life of gratitude and positive, love filled, thought patterns. I have become consumed with a passion for showing people that the government can’t fix this. We have to. And we have to start in our own backyards. I have developed a passion for teaching people about a peaceful spirit, a gratitude filled soul, and an ability to go with the flow of life, with arms open to opportunity and blessing.

Recently, I had a friend advise me to pray for what I wanted, and to pray specifically. While this is a common Christian thought, and I have heard it many times, I spent an incredible amount of time dwelling upon it this weekend, while I was being overwhelmed with tears of gratitude for the immense amount of blessings that I could never have imagined in my life, as little as ten years ago. I immediately told her that I disagree with her philosophy of praying specifically. After hanging up, I had to spend a good deal of time considering if that was really how I felt or a knee jerk reaction. I decided that I disagree with her. I do not necessarily think that it is in our best interest to pray for the specifics of what we want. Here’s why. I went through years begging God for a good man, convinced that I would never be anything without one. God didn’t give me that good man. I had to learn how to be happy and healthy without a man. Once I mastered stability without a man, I prayed to never have one again. I was so happy alone, why did I need a man to hold me back and cause undue burden and compromise in my life. Almost immediately upon reaching that place where I had no desire for a man to impede on my happiness, they started beating my door down, and I wanted nothing to do with any of them. But my best friend persisted. He stuck around and kept knocking when I shooed them all away. I finally submitted to dating him, after a very long discussion about whether our futures looked like they could go down the same path. I had my mission from God at this point, and no man was going to come between that mission and my future. I gave in. With much resistance, I slowly tore down that wall and let him in. So I prayed for a good marriage, one that would outlast time. What I got was a wonderful husband, one whom I just can’t even imagine life without. Through the years our connection gets stronger and stronger, and I wonder how I ever fought the notion of dating him. I have spent a lot of time this weekend considering that I asked for a good husband, eventually. I did not ask for excellent in-laws. I did not ask for aunt and uncle in laws who would think of me as they are traveling around the country in their rv. I did not ask for an extended family that would open their arms for me and accept me like they had known me all my life. God gifted me with so much more than I asked for. What if I had prayed specifically. And what if He answered those prayers? I would be missing out on so much. I would have limited the gifts that He could bless me with. I can think of a hundred times in my life when I asked God for one thing and He gave me more. I would be a fool to limit myself by praying for specificity, when He sees so much more for me than I do. I pray for my dreams, but not in a specific way. In a way that allows Him to give me so much more than I could dream of. That is how I spent my weekend. Overjoyed with tearful gratitude that I finally learned that God see’s more for me than I do, and that I need to be careful not to limit my prayers by being too specific. I stand by my original comment. I do not think that we should focus too hard on praying specifically. God knows the gist of my dreams, but I am open to whatever blessings that He see’s for me. If I am so busy watching for what I asked for specifically, I am likely to miss the real answer and gifts right under my nose. If I am filled with expectation about what that blessing should look like, I may find myself disappointed with something that I may otherwise accept with open arms and gratitude. This is why, I personally, do not feel compelled to pray with specificity, but rather to let God know the gist of my dreams,  keep my arms open to receive His gifts, and pray for His will in my life. The result is astounding. It’s not even so much that He gives me more blessings, just that my eyes are open much wider to recognize them.

This weekend, hubby and I went to a celebration of life in a town a few hours away. I went into it just completely open to adventure and blessing. It was a last minute decision, and I don’t necessarily prefer last minute overnight trips, but I was determined not to ruin opportunities for blessing with a bad attitude, so exhausted and overwhelmed, I just gave it to God. I decided to just go with the flow, let life happen, and keep my eyes open to opportunity. Oh the weekend that ensued was filled with so many blessings, I don’t even know how to begin thanking Him for it all.

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The hotels were full. We ended up in a slightly more expensive hotel than we normally might have stayed in. When I got there, you know how hotels are clumped together in certain areas. What I found was firetrucks. The hotels were full because there were firefighters from all over the country, and they gave up their livelihoods, the comfort of their beds, the warmth of their wives food, and the smiles of their children, to risk their lives for my home. They set it all aside to fight for us. I was immediately filled with overwhelming gratitude at the chance to witness that. It set the tone for my entire weekend. I spent my time dwelling on the blessing that is self-sacrifice to help us fight fire. I dwelled on this family, so much more than I ever asked for, and how they continue to surprise me with their loving support. Beyond my husband, beyond my Mother and Father in-laws, to my uncle and cousin in laws, they treat me as part of the family.  I am just overjoyed with gratitude at this point. The adventure unfolds. The celebration of life gets over fairly early and hubby and I head back to our room, where we decide that TV in a hotel room just isn’t what we are looking for. We decide an adventure is in order, and we decide to walk to the nearest grocery store for some fruit and yogurt for breakfast. Its only two miles. Nothing really. We wound through parking lots and back alleys. We hopped train tracks. While my husband has pretty much always been a country boy, I myself grew up in the city, and it was so fun to step back into it for just one night. The train yard was nostalgically comfortable for me. Walking on a bike path talking about my experiences on them as a child. It was just such a nice adventure. The next day we told our family about it, and my mother in law chimed in with the quip “adventure is what you make of it”. It is so true. We had so much fun on a simple walk to the store, dodging sprinklers and finding ways to stay off the main road. We got ourselves some healthy food for breakfast, and had a lovely walk back.

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The next morning was church. Lately, I get the same message every time I go to church, and it is something that I need to face but am intimidated by. I love this family so much that, at a busy restaurant, and through tears of intimidation and fear but recognition that ‘I got the memo, God’, I was able to tell them all about it, and they offered a solution that brought tears of relief! It felt so good to finally tell someone that I was struggling with it and confused at the same time. What a relief that they had a safe, simple answer. Another moment for tears of gratitude and acceptance. For a safe place to lay my concerns, and for a family that supports my desire to feel safe in Gods love. That has been a hard battle for me, and their support means so much more than they could possibly know.

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After Church, someone recommended a restaurant that I cannot safely eat in. No one was the least bit hurt or offended when the hubby and I both passionately declared NO! at the exact same time, they just picked something else. No biggie. Everyone was quickly on board and willing to accommodate my needs. I cried all the way there, at the family I had been gifted, and their giant, accepting hearts.  We ate a lovely meal together, I confessed my fear about the memo God has been sending too loud to ignore, we enjoyed family and fellowship, and then they invited us sapphire mining. Sapphires are my birthstone, and a rare type of Sapphire, called the yogo, is native only to Montana and very dear to me. I love this stone so much that we had diamonds replaced with yogo sapphires in my wedding ring. You can imagine my delight at this point, right? So of course we jump right on board that train. It is an hour drive, and hubby and I get some time to chat about the events of the weekend. I am a ridiculous, sobbing mess. I am so overwhelmed with love and gratitude at this point, there is just no hiding my tears. I cried most of the way there. When I got there, I wiped my sloppy face, took a deep breath, and told my in-laws that I was overwhelmed by their love and acceptance and to just ignore me, I am fine. I know that it is ridiculous, but I am so thankful for the ability to feel love and gratitude on such an enormous scale. Sapphire hunting was an absolute blast, I am pretty sure I am addicted. We had plans to drive the 72 miles south to see the eclipse on our anniversary, but we have decided we would rather spend the weekend in a mining town, digging for the little gems in life. The gems aren’t worth any money. Most are too small to bother with, but the time hovering over a table having quiet conversation with my husband, digging for shiny gems in a pile of gravel, was worth more to me than any gem I may ever find on a hunt. It summed up the entirety of the weekend for me. It extends beyond the weekend into all of life. There are a ton of gems in life, surrounded by dirt and gravel and mud. We can quietly seek the gems to be overjoyed about, or we can get distracted by the gravel and clay. We finished up our bucket of gravel as they were closing, gave our parting hugs, and went our separate ways. Hubby and I ended up making most of the trip home on dirt roads that ran alongside the freeway. A three and a half hour drive took us from 11 am till nearly 11 pm. We don’t regret one second of it. It is actually pretty normal behavior for us. We are in no hurry. Life will meet us where we are. On a past adventure of a similar caliber, we had found a gigantic nest. We had hopes of being able to find it again, and to our delight, we were not only lucky enough to find it, but to be able to spend some time watching the Golden Eagle family inhabiting it. We snacked on the food we had left in our cooler from breakfast, watched the Eagles for a bit, and then slowly meandered the rest of the way home. 20747608_10213727518244637_1199317062_o

I went to bed exhausted, emotionally spent, and so overwhelmed with gratitude and joy that nothing could have brought me down. I am still looking back in awe and thinking “What if I had simply prayed to survive this weekend?” “What if I had prayed for a specific chains of events?” I believe that I would have had a very different experience. I am convinced, that we need to open our arms to Gods will for us, without putting expectation upon Him. That we need to try to focus on what He would have for us, rather than what we want. He just has so many hidden gems that we may never see if we blind ourselves with expectation and specificity. I woke up to the first of my Heirloom Blue Berry tomatoes.

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