Christine Duncan

Precepts & Life Preservers

Category: Tools To Cope (page 2 of 18)

When You Want To Hide

There’s a small part of me that likes to hide and always has.

Cosy nooks, quiet spaces, shady corners, secret gardens… seclusion and shelter.

When I was a child, there seemed to be nothing better or more fun than building a fort. Giant boxes taped together with various doors and hideaways. Sheets and blankets held up with a broom stick and a half a dozen chairs for added stability.

Outside was even better. A tent or fort with sleeping bags and pillows, loaded with snacks and juice because you were determined to stay in there all day with your books and marbles and sticker collections, Barbie and Star Wars action figures, and a friend or two or little brother. A flashlight and a radio if you were gonna go all out!

There’s just something about a hideout.

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Taking That Internal Dialogue Captive

It was doing it again.

Blocking out everything.

Interrupting everything.

That infernal internal dialogue just doesn’t stop.

It doesn’t break for pedestrians.

It doesn’t slow down after peak hours.

A running commentary that becomes the white noise in the background of life.

It can be the reason for our lack of focus. It can be the reason for our lack of sleep. It feeds anxiety. It feeds worry. It feeds defeat before we even get going on our day.

The internal dialogue.

It’s a powerful thing, isn’t it?

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Eating My Way To A Better Life – A Guest Post with Lauren Gaskill

I’m so thrilled and grateful to have a special guest with us today!
I’ve become a recent fan of this talented and God-filled woman, and her writing and her story are pretty inspiring for someone like me, and I know as you get to know her, you’ll be inspired too. Writing and blogging about the whole spectrum of health and life, the physical and the spiritual, Lauren Gaskill is joining us today from MakingLifeSweet.com and sharing just how powerful one change can be when living with a chronic disorder.
Pull up a chair with me?

“When I think about the most influential, memorable moments of my life, most of them revolve around food. From Sunday dinners at Gramma’s and Friday night pizza parties, to baking cookies with my mother and making ice cream runs with my best friend Devon, my adolescent years were full of countless connections between food, family and friendship.

Eating Your Way To A Better Life

 I believe food has the power to transform lives.

Not in the same respect that I believe Jesus can transform a life of course, but I think it can still inspire change. That’s why half of my blog is devoted to recipes, while the other half is devoted to faith.

I should mention that while I have many fond memories surrounding food, I haven’t always had a healthy relationship with it. When I was a competitive swimmer in high school I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I didn’t care if food was processed, loaded with sugar, high in trans fat or sodium, or nutritionally void. I would eat Cheez-Its and Skittles for a snack and wash it down with a glass of orange soda without batting an eyelid. But I would also fall asleep in class or collapse on the couch after school from having no energy.

Now granted, as a competitive swimmer I often had two practices a day. So I needed all the fuel I could get my hands on. And yet, while I was never overweight I wasn’t eating healthy. To make things worse, I often lacked the appropriate amounts of energy and struggled to sleep at night.

Fast forward to my sophomore year of college when one fall morning I woke up with lockjaw, a migraine and full body pain. Nothing was ever the same after that day. Headaches became a daily occurrence, my body felt like it had been hit with 2x4s, and my neck, jaw and back were in a constant state of semi-debilitating to unbearable pain.

In addition to several visits to the doctor, I began to research the effects of food on the body and discovered the link between eating well and feeling good. Over the course of a couple of months I ditched processed foods, started eating more whole foods, specifically fruits and vegetables, and decreased the amount of sugar and sodium I was consuming. It was a slow process, but eventually the full-body pain became less intense and I had more energy to get through the day.

Fast forward once again to 2014. From the outside looking in, it was a very happy year in my life: I landed two jobs fresh out of college; I became engaged and married my high school sweetheart; And we bought our first home in Minnesota. But on the inside my chronic pain was worse than ever.

After more doctor’s office visits and tests, I received an official diagnosis of fibromyalgia and hypermobility in March 2015. “You should take Gabapentin”, my team of doctors told me. But after much research my 23-year-old self was not ready to resign to drugs. Don’t get me wrong — I think medicine is great and drugs definitely have their place. But I don’t think drugs should be the first defense if we have the option to try something else.

So I went back to my doctor and told him about my lifestyle habits: how I exercised, slept and ate healthy most days. “Well there is one thing you could try,” he told me.

“Anything!” I replied.

“You could try eliminating gluten and dairy, which, like processed foods can also cause inflammation and other problems in the body.”

 At first I was skeptical. As a food blogger, baker, and chef, my spirit did not want to believe this. But then I talked to other fibromyalgia sufferers and listened to their stories. And you want to know something? Every single one of them had benefited from cutting gluten and dairy out.

That’s when I recalled the first time I started to eat healthier back in college! I remembered how it made me feel, and that encouraged me to give this elimination thing a try. Friends, I cannot even begin to express what a difference this change has made in my life.

I can honestly say that making changes in my diet has drastically reduced my overall pain levels and increased my overall energy levels.

Eating My Way To A Better Life

It hasn’t cured my fibromyalgia, but it has made living with it more manageable. I also no longer suffer from nightly acid reflux like I used to. I thought I would be popping Tums for the rest of my life, but with diet changes I have been able to get rid of that almost completely.

All of this is not to say that you should cut gluten and dairy out of your diet. Every person is unique and no two people react to all foods in the same way.

 We are fearfully and wonderfully made by an awesome Creator, and our bodies respond to things differently. What is fine for some is not fine for others and vice versa.

 The key is to understand that food impacts the way we think and feel. What we put into our bodies has a tremendous effect on what we get out of life, and eating healthier can truly lead to an enhanced quality of life.”

Have you experienced life transformation or overcome an illness by making a few diet changes? I would love to hear from you! Comment below or visit MakingLifeSweet.com to contact me.
– Lauren Gaskill

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It’s a great day to be linking up with Holley Gerth’s #CoffeeForYourHeart!
Click on the hashtag and join us?

An Irritation Transformation

We all have these days.

At least, I hope beyond hope that I’m not the only one.

We start out as fun, happy, motivated, generous people.

And then somehow and without warning, a transformation hits.

Where we used to be easy-going, we’re now difficult. Where once was a happier outlook is now a massive attitude. Where we had a smile we now have this look of the inconvenienced and agitation.

I call it the Irritation Transformation.

And it’s never pretty. Worn by us, or aimed elsewhere.

Somewhere someone is getting ready to let someone else have it, and a little conversation bubble pops up with the words “Thar she blows!”

I know we’ve all been there, but I’m forced to come at it from a different perspective than most.

When you live with Dysthymic Disorder, also known as chronic depression, irritability isn’t just a fluke reaction of annoying circumstances that flow in and out of your day . It’s a very real medical symptom. It’s the warning signs of a flare up. The inkling of an oncoming episode. A bout of low-grade depression about to sweep in and try to stay awhile.

Can I be honest? I wish I weren’t robbed of the ability to shake it off like your average person. For the mood disorder sufferers, this is something your brain would like to trick you into believing has settled right down into your bones, and that everything around you should be interpreted as unpleasant and unwanted. Dramatically so.

And so the Irritation Transformation begins.

And we’re not just talking about being irritable due to unpleasant situations that arise through the day. We’re talking an irrational irritability that might not have any rhyme or reason, just a reaction borne out of your body’s inability to process all the things it’s working overtime to handle.

And all sorts of people wind up receiving the brunt of your symptoms.

And you wind up saying sorry a lot.

Like. A lot.

In any case, this is not what a child of the King wants to display to the world, even within a normal capacity. And there are so many of us that are bravely navigating the seas of varying types of depressions and disorders and wanting to represent the Father but what are we to do with the influx of symptoms threatening to take us from healthy to heartless?

As a believer, I struggled with this for the longest time. I was supposed to be a light in the dark. I was supposed to represent His great love, not an un-holy and feeble attitude. I was supposed to be a beacon of His grace, not constantly requiring it.

“Lord, what am I to do about my transformation into irritation? How do I battle a disorder that doesn’t care who or what I’m about to encounter? Or how many times something small has caused a meltdown or caused a snap response that doesn’t even sound like me?”

I’m still learning how to manage this particular  behavioural symptom, but I’ve realized a couple things that are key to moving past it even when I’m still not feeling a hundred percent.

– I Promptly Hand It Off –

Everything starts engaging the wrong part of my faulty wiring, and I don’t really have the capacity to deal on my own when an episode begins. But I still know who does. He is very, very, capable, and will cushion the onslaught of irrational thoughts and reactions and words, and invites me to give it to Him.

And in those moments, this is not like I’m capable of a big flowery, theatrical, deep prayer where I “submit” everything, including my disorder (which I do daily when I’m able) but this is a simple hand off. It’s a prompt and frustrated and desperate “Lord! You take this! I’m so done. I can’t be here inside this anymore.”

And He does.

1 Peter 5:7 doesn’t dress it up or make it complicated, and thank goodness. “… cast all your anxieties, difficulties, and concerns on Him, for He cares for you.”

We serve a God who anticipates exchange. We can hand it off. Whatever it is. The greek word for {cast} actually means transfer. I can transfer all my agitated flare-ups to God and then walk away.

But it gets better.

– Walking Away And Taking Peace With Me –

The next step is to step out of whatever environment is causing the stress and that irritation transformation. I tranfer my anxiety to Him, and then the smartest thing to do is immediately change where I am. And I mean physically, but also emotionally, and spiritually.

And because God is a God who anticipates exchange, and holy transformation, He exchanges my irritation for His peace. In my leaving the place where I was bombarded by chaos, I get to be impacted by His provision of peace and rest if I ask for them.

This is no small thing.

Transformed in Him, I can be released from those negative synapses trying to fill my head with static and find peace again. He wasn’t joking when He said, “My peace I give to you.” He said it for a reason.

And this doesn’t just happen overnight, this is a process. Much like the way God works in all of us, it’s a constant reshaping and transferring and transforming.

This is why we read “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

My transformation from irritation to peace and ease and rest might take the rest of my life. A gradual adjusting to constantly handing off the difficult and trading up and being fed His constant and never ceasing goodness. And because He promises it, I’m good with it.

All the while, we’re to have this conversation with Him, “search me, Lord, know every thought, even the disconnected and irritable ones. And see what I need to transfer over, and how I still need Your transformation, and direct me with Your upstanding and everlasting ways.”

The Irritation Transformation

You may not be struggling with irrational irritability. You may be struggling in a completely different area. But He’d love for you to make an exchange with Him, trade sorrows for joy, trade heartache for abundant love, trade disappointment for His security.

Trade your symptoms for His measures of restoration.

He waits to make an exchange on the inside, that will affect the outside.

I’m ready for the next transformation. You?

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So thrilled and glad to be linking up today with some amazing bloggers! Hit the following hashtags and join us for some nourishing words of encouragement?
Joining Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup now and Jennifer Dukes Lee’s #TellHisStory linkup at 5pm est.

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