Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Waiting

This has been a frustrating week. I am madly thankful for the glorious healing I have experienced using DNRS, but there are still a few lingering limbic system triggers that randomly swoop in and cause physical challenges to flare. They make eating and living really hard. Sometimes I find myself wishing I could ask Violet from the Incredibles to create a force field around my life to keep all triggers out. Surely this would make life feel more like hiking and less like rock climbing.

Today, I want to eat all the delicious foods. I am so hungry, you guys. I want rice. And lentils. And garlic. And cheese (goat cheese, cow cheese, I DON'T CARE, JUST GIVE ME CHEESE!). But when the lingering triggers show up and ignite physical challenges, it's harder to train with food. So today I am hungry and tired of limitations.

Jay and I have been praying every night before bed for my sleep. We ask God to make it calm and sweet, free of the PTSD dreams that make the next day so hard. Each morning, we ask him to restore my body completely — to make flare-ups a thing of the past, and to make eating easy, always. Sometimes God answers just exactly the way we want, and sometimes he doesn't.

I try to be honest with him when he doesn't — to raise my lament to the God Who Sees and Cares and delights in our honest heart-offerings. And then, at some point, I try to pivot and remember: this journey requires incredible patience on my part, but even more incredible patience on God's. Because he is using the sharp edges of every hardship as scalpels to do surgery on my heart-that-needs-healing.

The older I get, the more clearly I see the effect of my sin on my heart. My pride, jealousy, and unchecked fear lacerate and fissure my heart. Sin always maims good things. Sometimes my circumstances make my heart still more bloodied and deformed, and I know it needs deep, pervasive healing. But God is not antsy or frustrated with the work required to heal my heart. He is steadily and tenderly reaching in, again and again and again, to do the work of healing it.

It's the healing I want best of all: a heart that is whole and holy. And today I am remembering that this is healing worth waiting for.






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© by scj

Monday, April 9, 2018

The First Step

I often have people write me to ask, “How did you maintain your faith in God in spite of your ongoing suffering?” About six months into my illness, I began to see: my suffering could either feed my faith in Jesus, or it could devour it. And so I began a journey of learning to let my suffering grow my faith in Jesus. If you want to begin this journey, or if you have begun it but are feeling stuck in the quicksand of anger and despair, here is the best guidance I can give: start by being honest with God.

Tell him when you are angry with him, and tell him why. Share your grief, your confusion, and your questions. Don’t censor yourself as you pray; God can handle our most violent honesty — he even gives us permission to be ugly-honest through the gritty candor of the Psalms and Christ on the cross shouting to the heavens, “WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?” Your honesty is a gift God delights in. When you are honest with Him, you are stepping toward him instead of away from him; and you are offering him the most raw and bloody parts of yourself — your truest self. Vulnerability is always the first step toward intimacy.

It is never enough to just be honest, though, because honesty alone does not facilitate the mutual self-giving of relationship. So, when you are ready — when you have emptied your heart into Jesus’s hands — extend an invitation to God. Mine often sound like this, “Jesus, teach me your love; assure me of your goodness. Heal my anger and insecurities; please help me grapple with my questions.”

Because here is the deal: We cannot completely heal our own anger. We cannot clarify every ounce of our confusion. We cannot conjure up a full sense of God’s goodness. We cannot teach ourselves just how much we are loved by God. But God can do all these things in and for us, and he wants to. But first, he is waiting to be invited into your most tender heart spaces. When that invitation is extended, he will begin the work of building your faith. Just keep showing up, every minute of every day, with your beautiful, wounded heart, and wait to see what he does. He will surprise you, I promise.




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© by scj

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Taxes

This weekend, Jay and I prepared our taxes, and I am happy to report: we survived.

My head did not explode from confusion; I did not pass out from boredom; I did not run out the door into the great, sunny world whenever I was tempted (ten zillion times); and our marriage is still intact.

After we filled out the last form, we fell into each other's arms and said, "Never again." At least, not until next March.

And then we made grand plans to do the opposite of taxes: we would have fun running around at the beach. We hauled 8 volleyballs, a frisbee, smash ball, and plenty of fluids down to the beach, and then we got out of the car, walked to my favorite cove, and collapsed in the sand where we laid for almost two hours.

Taxes are hard, man.

And that is pretty much all I have to say. I just wanted to remind you: we can do hard things.

Happy, glorious Tax Season, friends.

I'm cheering for ya,

Sarah


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© by scj

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Banana Pecan Butter Ice Cream: Vegan and Paleo

For many years now, I have resisted making ice cream out of bananas, because it seemed to me it would take nothing short of MAGIC to make ice cream out of bananas, and I am fresh out of magic.

But then my husband bought me some banana ice cream from a food stand in Laguna Beach, and it was smooth, creamy, and sweet, just like real ice cream, and I was converted right then and there. I decided to make my own banana ice cream, with a twist: I added salty nut butter. And you guys, that salt is the ticket to pleasure town.


This stuff is so easy, and it's the perfect dessert for all you folks adhering to Paleo, vegan, and anti-inflammatory diets.

Here's what you need:


Except, I was spacey when I took this photo, and I included the wrong salt. I used sea salt instead of Morton's iodized salt. I love putting sea salt in dessert!

You'll notice my nut butter (on the far left) is homemade. I made it by first roasting the nuts, and then blending them, with sea salt, in the food processor. Homemade nut butter is a game-changer.

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 very ripe bananas (with speckles!)
  • 1/4 c. of nut butter, smooth or chunky (I used pecan, but peanut, almond, and cashew butter would be yummy, too!)*
  • 1 TB of coconut oil
  • A pinch of salt
Optional mix-ins:
  • Chopped nuts (I used pecans)
  • Nut butter (to create a ripple effect with stripes of nut butter throughout, in addition to the nut butter mixed in)
  • Chocolate chips (you can make your own if you follow a Paleo diet!)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Slice the bananas into 1/4-inch thick rounds, put them in a Ziploc bag in a single layer, and pop them in the freezer. Let them freeze overnight. These slices will make it much easier to blend your frozen bananas and will ensure a nice, consistently creamy texture.


2. Put the frozen banana medallions, nut butter, and coconut oil in your food processor or high-powered blender. Blend. Add the salt, to taste, and blend.


3. If you want to mix in nuts, chocolate chips, or extra nut butter, mix 'em in by hand.

4. I like eating the ice cream at this point, because I think its texture is ideal; but if you want to save it all for later, scoop it into a container and put it in the freezer. 


And there you have it! Easy as 1-2-3! Enjooooy!!!!!

A a very happy Sunday, Home Skillets!

-Sarah



Are we Instagram and Facebook friends yet?! Let's be!

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© by scj

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Inquiries about DNRS

Friends,

I have so many people reach out to me daily about DNRS that I'm  unable to respond to everyone's questions. I wanted to take a minute to tell you that if I don't respond to you, I'm so very sorry! I wish I could respond to each one of you.

I will continue to post content on Instagram (username @SarahJacksonPanther), Youtube, and my blog about DNRS with the hope that it will answer your questions. 

I'm so glad so many of you are looking into the Dynamic Neural Retraining System! It is life-changing. 

Happy Tuesday, friendlies.

I'm cheering for you.

-Sarah

© by scj

Thursday, March 8, 2018

An Update and Prayer Requests

My friends,

I am so thankful to have seen great success with DNRS — I have gotten so much of my life back with it — but I still have healing to do if I am to return to normal. Thus far I have not supplemented DNRS with anything, besides acupuncture and chiropractic, but as my body gains strength, I am ready to consider other healing modalities. I would love your continued prayers as I discern my next steps.

Here are some specific ways you can pray:

1. For wisdom as I look for doctors who can help my brain and body release stored trauma. I continue to be amazed by the impact of physical and emotional trauma on the body and brain, and I believe my body is strong enough to address it in some new ways, in addition to DNRS.

2. For sleep. I am still working to heal my PTSD, and my nightly PTSD dreams are hard on my body. I need calm, restful sleep as I heal.

3. For patience, peace, and hope during flare-ups. As I live more life, I am exposed to more triggers that can cause flare-ups. I am thankful that I do not have flare-ups as much as I did last year, but the flare-ups I do have wear on me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I am ready to be flare-up-free!

4. For a very long period without a flare-up, during which I can begin to recover from the trauma of the last seven years. It is very difficult to process trauma and grief with a body that is still laboring to heal and sensitive to certain triggers. The catch-22 is that processing trauma can cause a flare-up, so I sometimes feel like I am in no man's land: I need to process my trauma to heal, but processing it causes flare-ups that gobble up the mental and emotional energy needed to process trauma. DNRS has helped break this cycle many times, but I would like to break it even more often!

5. For increased capacity to invest in my husband while I heal. He is patient, kind, and gracious; and he has been my best healing partner and advocate, besides the Triune God, and I yearn for the day that he is not affected by my challenges. In the meantime, my body and mind still need a lot of attention, and I need increased capacity to care for both me and my dear husband.

6. For God's perfect love to cast out my fear. Healing is very hard, in all its glory, because exposure to more life can provoke so much fear. This is in large part because of the trauma my body has stored, but it's also because of soul wounds that need healing.

7. For complete and total restoration of my body and heart. This is the goal, and DNRS has helped me believe it is possible!

I am so grateful for your prayers, all you new friends and old friends. Over the years, you have been like the friends of the paralytic, tearing off the roof to lower your friend Sarah before Jesus. It has been such a special gift to experience so much healing with your support, and I look forward to experiencing so much more!

Hopeful, glorious Thursday,

Sarah

© by scj

Thursday, March 1, 2018

13 Things People With Chronic Invisible Illness Want You to Know

Chronic illness is the Great Censor. It is such a demanding, consuming, grueling battle that the chronically ill person rarely has the bandwidth to debunk common, painful misconceptions about her and her illness.

And oh my, there are so many misconceptions about chronic invisible illness. People think chronic invisible illness is fake — a ruse to get attention or spend "quality" time in bed; they think it's mental; they think Health Warriors are lazy; they think they're prone to exaggerating their challenges, and on and on and on.

It's stunning and crazy-making how often Health Warriors have to navigate these hurtful misconceptions. You guys, there were days when I was in such a dark place that the frequent, painful accusations and pervasive lack of understanding made me want to die. And gosh — I'm hesitant to write that because of the times people have chastised me for claiming my illness could actually be serious enough to make me want to give up. These wounds run so deep.

And here is the other thing: because Health Warriors and their illnesses are so misunderstood — and because they do not have widely familiar labels like "cancer" — they are not getting the help and support they need from their churches and other communities.

Now that I am healing — now that illness is not acting as a Great Censor — I am beginning to share, on behalf of all the Health Warriors, what it is like to lose your life to chronic invisible illness, with the hope that increased understanding will mitigate the suffering of Health Warriors just a bit.

In today's video, I share 13 things people with chronic invisible illness want you to know.

If you are a Health Warrior, I hope this video makes you feel less alone and can be a resource for your communities. I know so many of you hesitate to ask your communities to try to understand your battle because you don't want to rock the boat — to cause any interpersonal tensions. Debunking stubborn misconceptions can be a real boat-rocker, I know. I rarely challenged misconceptions about my illness for this very reason.

And yet, I wish I had. I wish I had posted resources on social media, helping people understand. I wish I had emailed resources to my inner circle. I wish I had asserted myself when others imposed their misconceptions on me. I wish had been my own best advocate.

If this video captures a bit of your experience as a Health Warrior, or if you have other resources that do, I encourage you to share them, to be your own best advocate. If we are going to change painful misconceptions, then we have to be intentional about educating our communities.

If you are not sure how to share helpful resources with your community, perhaps you could share from a place of vulnerability (vulnerability can be so disarming), like this (feel free to copy and paste this):

Here is the thing about chronic invisible illness: it can cause so much shame, so much isolation, so much misunderstanding. I have often wanted to share my experience of chronic illness, but my sense of shame and anxiety about what others might think has prevented me from doing so. However, being understood mitigates some of the suffering of chronic invisible illness, so today I am trying to be courageous, and I am sharing this resource that will give you a peek into chronic invisible illness. Thank you for walking this journey with me!

And now, my friends who do not have health challenges (but who are most certainly fighting other battles): would you watch this? And then, would you be advocates for all the Health Warriors you know — and the ones you don't know? Would you share this video, or other similar resources, in your communities? Trying to understand Health Warriors and their illnesses — and helping others understand — is one of the best ways you can love them. It is salve on their many oozing wounds.

And finally, I want to thank so many of you who have been exactly what I needed in my darkest moments. I had an extraordinary number of people interact with me out of their misconceptions, but I had even more people (YOU!) extend grace, understanding, encouragement, and faithfulness in prayer. You buoyed me under the weight of all the hard stuff, and I love you dearly for it.

Here is the video (click HERE to be rerouted to YouTube):



 Fight on, all you Warriors, those fighting health battles, and those fighting other hard battles.

I'm cheering for you, Home Skillets.

-Sarah


Are we Instagram and Facebook friends yet?! Let's be!

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© by scj

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

DNRS: A Day in My Life

Friends!

Somehow, I forgot to tell you that I posted another video blog for you DNRS warriors. I continue to have so many of you reach out to me with questions that I decided to show you what a day in my life looks like, including how I integrate the Dynamic Neural Retraining System, exercise, and eat.

Click HERE to be redirected to the video on YouTube, or watch below.


I hope it's helpful to you!

I also post a DNRS training tip on my Instagram every Thursday. I'd love to see you over there -- those of you who are training, and those of you who aren't! It's such a fun way to connect. My username is @SarahJacksonPanther

Hopeful, light-filled Tuesday, my friends.

-Sarah

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© by scj

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Baby Doll

In honor of my darling niece, Aria, I give you a poem, originally written for my littlest brother when I was six years old, and revised for Aria:

Aria my niece is a sweet little girl,

I like to play with her just like a toy [it turns out, this poem's rhyming scheme works better with boy babies, although we wouldn't trade our Aria for a million boys!]



She has brown hair [or, in some cases, blond];


She is so sweet;


And she really, really likes to EAT! 



Have you ever seen anyone sport a wig with so much fabulous charm?!!!

We sure do love our baby-doll girl. 

Happy Thursday, folks.

-Sarah



© by scj

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Very Beachy Weekend

My college roommate, Rachel, and her husband, Ryan, came to visit Jay and me this last weekend — our very first overnight guests. We spent three days living the beach life.


We started our weekend at the Laguna Montage Beach, where the waters are especially turquoise-y, the views atop the bluffs are especially breathtaking, and the dunes are especially tempting to my trick-loving husband:


We had grand plans to leave the beach just after sunset so we could get to bed at a decent time. When Rach and I were in college, our idea of a good time was sitting up late into the night eating cake and gabbing; but now we get a kick out of eating grilled vegetables and climbing in bed by 8. This shift happened much faster than we thought it would, but we are embracing it, mostly because our bodies make us.

But alas, our coveted 8 O'clock bedtime was not to be.

The problem: our beach tent would not collapse. For an hour, our husbands pushed, pulled, jiggled, and wiggled its hardware while winking stars perforated the sky. When their efforts were not successful, they sent Rach and me searching for tools. 


We went to a nearby restaurant, the maintenance door of a hotel, and a hotel lobby, before finding two flat-head screwdrivers. Success! Just as I began my tool-finding victory dance in the Montage Hotel lobby, Jay called to inform us that they had collapsed the tent and were ready to head home.

The next morning, Jay and his volleyball partner trained, and we watched. We buried our toes in the sand, snacked, and sunned, while they sprinted, jumped, and rolled through the sand; and when it was all over, we headed to the water.

It's been a bad year for sharks around these parts:



Obviously we are all very concerned about it.



The rest of the weekend rotated around more beaches and good food.



Jay likes to jump in the freezing cold ocean and then try to hug me. See that look on his face? That's his "I'm about to hug you face." I am poised and ready for resistance.



We indulged in French treats at a beach-side French bakery.



We played volleyball.





We watched some killer sunsets:


 
And we picnicked after church.









Rach and I tried to be athletic and impressive.


We tried very, very hard.



It was more fun than it was successful.






We asked the boys to enact their own balletic photos, but they preferred the ol' chest bump.







And of course we tried to get a group jumping photo.






We tried very, very hard.




It was more fun than it was successful.

Jay and I managed what my mom called a Sand Figure Skating pose:

We are ready for the Olympics.

Boy, did we have fun, you guys.



A weekend with old friends is about as good as it gets.

Happy Tuesday, my friends!

I'm cheering for you, Home Skillets.

-Sarah


P.S. Techy friends, please help: why do my blogs with photos always adopt a wonky mobile phone format? The photos almost always have weird spacing -- sometimes the text does too -- and I can't figure out why! Is this just the bane of Blogger?!!

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© by scj