Monday, April 11, 2011

MSG- What?

I now have the answer I've been looking for, it just isn't the answer I want.  I've been feeling really sick after I eat most days.  I knew I must be allergic to something I was eating, but I couldn't figure out what on earth it was.  I would eat things that seemed to be from similar food groups and one time I would get really sick, and another only slightly sick.  Yeah, believe it or not it was pretty much a variance of degrees of sickness, there weren't many times I ate something and felt great afterward.   Perhaps this is why I've never understood why some of my friends love food.  I have a love hate relationship with food.  It tasted good, and it gives me energy, but then most of the time I feel like crap after I've eaten it.  Doesn't really make you want to eat.  I have the luck of also being hypoglycemic, so if I don't eat my blood pressure drops and I become a zombie- no one wants that.  So not eating just wasn't an option for me- which meant finding out what I was allergic to was very pressing.

It was my dad or my sister who suggested MSG.  My grandmother Rolison is allergic to it as well.  So I did what any person would do.  I went to the internet.  I found a reputable site that had information on MSG and what side effects they could have on someone.  What do you know- every single side effect I had was on that list.  I was one step closer to diagnosing myself (I hate going to the doctors office).  Then once I read up on it- which was crazy and I highly suggest you do some research for yourself.  Did you know that MSG can cause brain damage and reproduction problems?  Yeah, kinda frightening.  Anyway, so now I had an idea of what might be wrong, so I did a test.   I looked up the things I had been eating that had made me really sick- every one of them contained MSG.  Then I had some meals with absolutely no MSG, and made sure I went without it for a day.  I felt great that day- well compared to normal anyway.   I didn't feel sick at all after I ate, it was fantastic!

So now I breathed a sigh of relief- I know what is wrong with me, and it's something I can fix.  I just need to not eat things with MSG in it.  Easy, right?
      Yeah... not so much.  Just about EVERYTHING has MSG in it.  Except they don't just say MSG, they have code words- lots and lots of code words.  "Seasoning", "Natural Flavors", "Yeast Extract" the list goes on an on and on and on.  I do not understand how something that can cause brain legions is allowed to not be properly labeled.  Someone is making a lot of money for looking the other way, that's for sure. 

But now I am off to an MSG free life- which is a healthier life and also a cooking life since pretty much everything that is prepackaged contains the offending product.  So now I am going to attempt to cook, and find a way to live and eat without having MSG.  It's daunting- let me tell you.  But my sister is a great cook, and she eats healthy and doesn't used over processed foods.  So I am going to try and take after her and see if I can come halfway to being as good a cook as she is (it's doubtful, people) 

Here's to a healthier life that is sure to be full of tons of FAILED attempts at cooking!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Angels Among Us

So I just took a slightly frightening undertaking.  I have officially signed up for my very first 5k!  I am not a runner (yet), but this is my first step.  I want some someday run a half marathon, hopefully by the end of this year.  So I figured a 5k would be necessary to complete before I started full on training for the half. I know, all of you are thinking I am crazy right now, and you're probably right.

This is how it all started- I had decided I wanted to do a 5k in maybe late May or early June.  I figured that would give me enough time to train up and be able to run 3 miles no problem.  But of course things never happen the way I think they will. 

I was studiously researching different races and looking for some 5k in my area.  So I saw one on the list in Durham.  I thought "sweet, that's really close to where I live."  So I clicked on it and saw it was a 5k and the date was April 30th.  Yeah, right!  So just as I was about to x out of that site I took a quick glance at what the race was for, and for that I am now signed up to run a 5k at the end of April.  Eeek.  I still haven't been able to run 3 miles.  I'm not sure if I've even pulled out a straight 2 mile run in the past month, but I'm working on it, and sloooowwwwlly but surely I will get there.  I am determined to finish the race and not "quit and sit down" as my Granny so graciously told me I could do without remorse, thanks Gran.  Haha.  But that's another story.  So the whole reason I am now in this crazy thing is because I saw that this race is a fundraiser for the Duke Tisch Brain Tumor Center research. 

As you know by now by my previous posts, my mother died of a brain tumor when she was 47 years old. So I am doing this for her.  But more so, I am doing it for all of the other families out there, so that hopefully they won't have to lose their loved ones, but can walk by them day to day throughout long lives. 

So now I am asking you, dear readers, to please donate.  Please help me fund research to find the cure for brain cancer.  You can check out my fundraiser page:

Thanks guys!  I'll keep you updated on how the race goes.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Winter Wonderland?

It seems like all I've been hearing about lately is the crazy blizzards people are having. Up north some people have barely been able to get out of their homes. Down south, the unusual weather is having kids put socks on their hands - I guess they don't see any need for actual gloves. Who needs fingers anyway?

I hear complaints from everyone about how cold it is. (Although, not from my sister who lives in Florida. When she says it's cold, I ignore her.) Weather can be a real issue. It's not always just the polite conversational piece for when you don't know what to talk about. For example:

Being without my own car for almost a month gives me great sympathy for these people. "So where is your car?" "Oh, it's on the interstate, most likely getting run over by a snow plow."

While everyone else surrounding North Carolina was getting snow. We were at a balmy 70 degrees.

True to my prediction, the very next day we were here:

Cold and rainy.

All this time I am sitting here wondering-
    Where is MY winter wonderland?

I admit I am not the average North Carolinian who loves warm weather and complains when it gets down to 40 degrees. Although I get cold easily, there is such a thing called winter clothing, it really is a fabulous creation. I want nothing more than to look outside and see white everywhere and it would be even better if that somewhere happened to be in NYC. But for now, I am trucking through the rain, dreamily transporting myself to my very own winter paradise.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

To Live is Christ, to Die is Gain

Today my mom would have turned 51 years old, and I would have made fun of her for being an old geezer. There is not a day that goes by that I do not miss her. But I am so thankful that I will get to see her again, and cannot wait to go give her a big hug.
My mom was an incredible woman, and I aspire to someday be even a little bit like her. She was always gracious and kind, caring, she had a servants heart. She was always doing something for someone else, and rarely did I ever see her actually do anything for just her. She was an honest woman, those of you who knew her know that you didn't ask her a question unless you wanted the absolute truth! (Liz, you know what I'm talking about) One of my favorite quotes "Preach always, and when necessary, use words" embodied my mother to a 'T'.
I am always running into people who give me little snippets of memories that they have of Cheryl (my mom). Just yesterday I was talking with Hannah Reeves and she noted that every time she started cross stitching she would hear my moms voice saying to always wash your hands before you pick up your needle and thread. Or Penelope recalling my mom freaking out a little because Penelope wasn't measuring the flour correctly. You never put the measuring scoop in there people! Although most people saw her servant side, and her sweet and demure kindness, I was one of those privileged to see her side of humor, (which was dry, btw. I mean, we ARE Welsh!) She always had a smile for us, and she would have hated the photo I just put up of her because it shows her gums, but that was her real smile, the one she gave when she was really happy, it was the one I treasured the most and always felt a sense of satisfaction when I got to see it.
She touched so many lives, but possible none more than her children. She gave us all of her love, and so much more. My mother had beautiful hands, hands that were always giving, always comforting, always working. She was a beautiful woman inside and out. I will always miss her, but I am so comforted to know she is in a better place where she is no longer sick, and will never be sad, but most of all that she gets to be with the love of her life, Jesus. I love you, mom!

Monday, October 25, 2010


So this is going to be a long one, I thought a lot about whether or not to post this, but in the end although it is very personal, I know that it just screams God and his amazing might and so I wanted to share:

I have a story to tell, and it’s a love story.

I have been dealing with depression for the past three years, some times were worse than others. It was something that I couldn’t shake. I’ve been on meds, and those helped, but never fixed the problem. Recently it got so bad that all I could really do all day was lie around in bed and do nothing. I felt hopeless, devoid of any passions for life or anything in it. Deonni, my dad’s wife, was in charge of heading up a series called ‘cleansing stream’ at her church which is a part of a larger organization. It consisted of going to the meetings on Tuesday nights, watching the video’s and then having small group discussions. My dad and Deonni suggested I take the course, and said that they would cover the expenses for it. I agreed, more because I couldn’t think of an excuse not to, and it sounded interesting. I went to the first meeting, and I hated it. I wanted to leave, to get out of there. The next week came and I literally begged, whined more like it, making excuses why I couldn’t go. It was too much for me, I couldn’t handle being around all those people, my depression and anxiety were my crutch and I waved them hoping to be able to plead understandably incapable of going. It didn’t work. While I could say no to my dad, I felt really bad about saying no to Deonni; she really loved this thing and I could tell she had a passion for it. I wasn’t about to be the one to tell her I thought it was dumb and boring. So I went, and again the next week, until I had made it to the meetings then suddenly the ‘retreat’ was looming in front of me. I kicked and screamed the whole way, and there was a big part of me that really didn’t want to go. I didn’t know anyone there after all, it wasn’t my church, oh I made up plenty of excuses. But I had also been listening during the meetings, and I had been doing some of my own praying and delving into the bible, and I knew that if I really wanted to get closer to God and be filled with the Holy Spirit, then giving up on an opportunity for people to pray for me was just plain stupid.
I made the drive down to Charlotte alone, because I was going to stay afterward to visit one of my best friends who I hadn’t been able to see in over a year and a half. I can tell you while driving down there I seriously contemplated ditching the seminar and just going straight to my friend’s place. But again, it had already been paid for and Deonni would be expecting me and I couldn’t really see a way out of it. I went the first night of the retreat and beforehand as I had done for the entire week I prayed that god might fill me with the spirit and I would get closer to him. I thought maybe we would delve into some of the issues I had with my dad and then maybe i could have a better relationship with him. That’s honestly what I expected and hoped to get out of the whole thing. The first night they talked about ‘the orphan spirit’ and I could relate, it was the message that I thought was going to be mind blowing for me, yet when I went up for prayer, I felt, well, silly. It was good, but after the first night I realized if that first message hadn’t blown any barriers for me then I wasn’t going to be able to get any help down the road, because that had been the one where it specifically talked about one’s relationship with one’s parents. I enjoyed the worship though, and so I figured at least I would get something out of it, and maybe I just needed a weekend worshiping God, and it would help - a little - maybe. The next morning I got up and sleepily made my way back to the church where the retreat was being held. One of the messages was about ‘Guilt, Shame, and Condemnation’. I thought it was a decent message, and figured it would probably resonate with some of the people here, good for them. Then we were led in a prayer and they asked us to ask god to give us a memory, I already had this one down I thought. I had my memory all ready, but I did pray and instead of the expected memory I was given a different one, one that I try to never think about. It shocked me; I already dealt with this, why was I thinking about this moment? Confused I relived the memory, and I tried to note the unbiblical beliefs that were held in that moment. I remembered it clearly as if it was happening right then. The moment I dumped out all my pills on my bedspread. Staring at them, wondering if it would be enough to do the job, because I didn’t want to be one of those ‘attempts’, I wanted to succeed. With it I recalled all my reasons, all my thoughts, oh those shamefully awful thoughts. ‘There’s no point. You’re worthless. You’re stupid. You’re better off dead. It will make everyone else’s lives easier. No will will miss you. No one loves you. You are unlovable. You are a hideous freak. Even your own mother would died because she didn’t want to fight to stay with you.’ Stop. Stop. STOP. Why am I having to relive this? It happened, it’s over, I don’t want to be here again. And then I heard a small voice, one I recognized vaguely as my own, say ‘but you never left’. That shot me bolt upright. I swallowed hard, accepting the truth, I may have left those pills that one night, but that moment, and those words never ceased to haunt me. I had just masked it so well, hidden it so deep I didn’t even realize it was there anymore. I had shoved it in the back of the closet under a pile of junk just as one does an unloved doll that you can’t throw away but you just don’t want anymore. All of those feelings washed over me like I tidal wave, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it up for air. And then they told us to ask God into our memory, I winced but did it anyway. I didn’t want God to see this; I wanted him to love me. When they asked us to listen for God, and try and hear what He had to say about it, I was overcome. I saw a face behind my eyelids, but it wasn’t sneering at me in disgust. Rather, I saw precious tears streaming down His face matching my own. He looked at me with those sad eyes, full of grief and told me ‘But I have so much more for you. I have a purpose for you, can you not see?’ Those words tore my already broken heart to shreds. When my turn came to be prayed for I went over to a woman who started talking to me about the message and told me to wipe the veil off from my eyes so I could see as the Father sees, she wanted me to see how much He loved me. And she asked me to raise up my hands and lift my face towards heaven and just feel his love. I did the motions, but as I raised my face up, there was no smile, I felt the traitorous tears seeping out and I shut my eyes because I couldn’t look up to Him, not like this. I just couldn’t do it. She encouraged me and repeated His love and asking me to feel it, ‘smile’ she said. I only made out a grimace. And then suddenly behind the lady praying for me came one of the team leaders in the retreat. He asked the woman to pause for a moment and as he looked I warily looked back. Then he said these words, ‘I am getting a sense that (pause) you don’t like the person that you see in the mirror every morning.’ Deer in headlights. How could this man see me? I could almost feel him looking at my true self, my inward soul. And I knew right then, that those words were not his own, and his eyes had been given light to my true deformed being by god. I choked back a sob, ‘You’re right. I don’t’. And suddenly I was saying out loud some of the things I had never let myself think in private. I was prayed for again, and the lady hugged me and told me that although she did have to continue down the line and pray for others, she was SURE by the end of the day I would be better, I smiled, not really believing her. I still felt wretched, but before I left she asked me if I still had any single thought similar to the ones I just shared at the end of the day to please find her and she would pray for me again; she said I would not leave here without feeling cleansed. As I walked back to my seat I thought to myself that if that was going to be true it was going to be one long night and there would need to be a whole team of people because I was just a hopeless case. I sat back down, knowing God loved me, but for some reason I was not all that comforted. I felt as though I had an infectious, deep, ugly wound and someone told me that a kiss would make it all better. I sat through another short message, and went up again to be prayed for, but it just didn’t help. I was trying to let myself feel numb, willing myself to let all of the feeling out of my body and be blank, it was my only tried and proved defense mechanism. The sad part is, I didn’t even realize I was doing it. It came so naturally to me. It wasn’t until one of the guys from my group sitting next to me said “Man girl, you are completely shut off.” I looked up questioningly at him. “Look at you. Every part of you is crossed, you’re legs are crossed, your arms are crossed, even your eyes are crossed. You sure are defensive.” “No, I’m not.” I answered quickly. “This is just how I’m comfortable.” Well that was true, I was comfortable that way, it was the only way to hold myself together. I closed my eyes and forced myself to slowly relax, made myself uncross my legs, and painfully brought my fists from my stomach to my legs. I breathed out slowly, ‘I can do this’ I told myself. The next message was on ‘the victim spirit’, and the whole time I was consciously making myself keep still, and had to stop myself several times from folding my arms to my chest as something was said that hit a little too close to home. I felt ever bit a victim in that moment, and the gun was aimed right at my chest. When my turn came to be prayed for I went up, knowing I was going to walk away with all the turmoil just as I had every other time. I almost just wanted him to say a prayer for me and just be done with it. Again, as the prayer started the same man as before came up and peered around at me, and shook his head a little sadly and said, “You have a giant target on your chest.” I felt the tears starting to rise. Why did this man have to see me so clearly? And why was he so right? I was a little surprised when instead of just praying for me and sending me on my way, my prayer member asked me to pray, in my own words rejecting any spirit of victimization. “Ummm. Spirit of victimization, I reject you.” I said lamely, and that's exactly how I felt, lame and silly. But obviously a one liner wasn’t going to do it for this guy. I shut my eyes tight and I said it again, but this time I kind of meant it. As words started coming out of my mouth I felt myself get stronger and stronger, but even more so I started getting angry. Angry because I suddenly realized that I had been lied to. And that it wasn’t just some depression feelings that were normal, and I was just cursed genetically. No, there were parasites, and they were feeding off of me, and even worse, I had let them. This wasn’t just a disease, this was a spiritual warfare. And I’d be damned if I sat there and let those sneaky little things creep around any longer. I was going to talk to the little vermin, “I reject you, and I reject your lies. I reject you telling me that I can’t do it. I reject you telling me every day that I can’t get up. Your time is up! I know your game, and I know you’re there. You may NOT torment me any longer. You are not allowed here. I will not listen to your lies any more. In the blood of Jesus Christ, GET OUT! I command you in the name of Jesus to leave now, and you may never come back!” I opened up my eyes to see the man before me nod, “You said that with quite a bit of conviction.” Almost shocked at myself, I replied, “well I felt it” As he laid his hands on my and began to pray I felt immense relief. When I had taken command in the name of Jesus, I had felt something seep out of my gut. As I walked back to my seat, I searched and searched, trying to catch any hint of those thoughts, and they weren’t there. I felt light, I felt happy, I felt loved. I wanted to smile at everyone and tell them I loved them, tell them how beautiful they all were. I felt free. My God, my God who saved me, had answered the prayers I didn’t even think to ask. Not only was I filled with the Holy Spirit that day, but I was rid of my depression. I was rid of those chains that had bound me. It was all I could do not to laugh out loud. For the rest of the day I kept that knowledge close to my chest like a precious jewel. Frightened that I might somehow lose it, and yet knowing that I never would. I rejoiced inwardly and praised outwardly. If only everyone could be as happy as me. I am a child of the King, I am my Beloveds and He is mine. To know, to truly know that you are loved, and you are purely clean because the Lamb of God died for you - well, it’s priceless.
The retreat was coming to an end and as Pastor Tim asked for a few people to come up and share their testimonies, I was excited to hear what God had done for others. Surely, there would be an overload of people wanting to share, I wasn’t going to. I marveled when I heard of the woman who had been healed of all her pain, and who once could not even bend could now touch her toes, but I fought as I felt that nudge urging me on. No, not me, please not me. I just want to enjoy this, I was to keep this precious gift all to myself. Another person shared. Where was everyone? They had asked for 7 or 8 people and so far there were only 3! No, no, no. Please not me. 2 more people came up, and still I felt as though I was supposed to be up front and let everyone know what God had done. I made a deal with God, hoping I would win. ‘If a 7th person doesn’t go up there then I will.’ I was pretty sure that at least a couple more people would make a move for it. I saw the 6th, but there was no sign of the 7th. God wasn’t giving me any slack, so I obeyed, albeit reluctantly and trembling might I add. As I briefly shared what God had done, I prayed silently that this wouldn’t be just to humiliate me but perhaps to help someone. But how good God is. As I breathed a sigh of relief on finishing my ordeal, the pastor (Tim) who was heading up the retreat gave me a prophesy. “I believe that God has a purpose for you, and that he will use you to help heal others just as you have been healed.” Oh if it may only be!
Before I walked out to my car a woman came up to me and thanked me for sharing my testimony. “I sat next to you twice, and I could just tell that there was something hanging over you. And I prayed for you. I prayed that God would heal you. And don’t you see, He answered my prayers!” She smiled with a tear in her eye. “And if He will answer my prayer for someone else, then He can surely answer prayers for me.” Oh sweet woman, I pray that God will answer your prayers.

Now can you see? Can you see how beautiful life is? Because I can. When God is put in His rightful place in our eyes, hearts, and souls, then how can you not but rejoice and be happy?

“Hello, beautiful.” I said to my reflection the next morning. I know it’s corny, but it made me laugh, and I just can’t stop, nor would I want it any other way.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Answers without knowledge

After my last post I have been doing a lot of inward searching, "what is it I want to do?" "Who am I really?" "What is my purpose?" And thankfully I found an answer, at the only place one can actually find a true and perfect answer.

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. " -Matt 6:33-34

I realized that I had been looking in all the wrong places, trying to figure out what kind of job would be best for me. Although those are still issues, and I still don't have the answer to them, I feel more at peace about it than I have in a long time. I realize I DON'T have the answers. And-amazingly enough- THAT'S OKAY. I don't need to know, because He does. And in time He will show me what to do and where to go, but right now all He asks of me is to seek Him whole heartedly and let everything else fall into place in due time. It's not an easy thing for one who likes to be able to be in control, but I realize that my hard-headed stubbornness is something that needs to be overcome and He is asking me to do what I have the hardest time doing- trusting. And so I have to overcome my fears, and do what I almost never do, I have to trust someone. Thankfully that someone is God, and I happen to know that he has my best interest at heart. Even though sometimes I don't agree with His methods at the time. :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

To be or not to be?

"Life is short", it's a saying I've been hearing since I was little. Normally it ends with "so do something." or other versions along those lines. But lately I've been wondering how people actually intend you to take that? Does it mean that they think you should follow in their example and lead a life like their own? Maybe they mean for you to be more adventurous and live the life of a gypsy (I have to say this one appeals to me). Or perhaps just that you should make the most out of each situation and not take a day for granted. Whatever they mean by it, it just got me to thinking about my own life.

I want my life to count for something, I want to do something meaningful, but what? Now here's where I get stuck. I could be a doctor, but I hate science. I could go into acting which I've always loved, but pretentious people annoy me. I could become a psychologist, but then I'd have to go through 8 more years of school and write and defend a thesis, not something I jump at I assure you. As I was thinking of my own dilemma, I began to wonder how many others feel the same way I do. We are all told to go to college, to finish high school. I uphold these ideals as much as the next person. But we were given this formula as though it would give you the key to success, and just go to college and everything will just fall into place for you. But it doesn't work like that. There are decisions you have to make along the way that make a difference in your future. What major, what minor, which classes to take, where to volunteer, who you meet. But even with all of these, it by no means leads you to happiness. How is it that I have met so many people who have finished with school but just have no idea what to do with their lives now. We completed the equation to find out that the answer is 0.

Its frustrating not having your career set out for you, not knowing exactly what it is that you want to do, not even sure what you're really good at. It makes you feel like the last kid picked for the dodge ball game. But even though its impossible to know the future, I know that I have an advantage. Although I may not know my career, or where I am going to be in 5 years, I know that while I do not know these things, there is one who does and He will help me along the way. So here's to not knowing what's going on, but walking ahead anyway, one step at a time.