Saturday, November 18, 2017

Worthiness and Brain Chemistry


My second video in my series on surviving chronic illness is up! This week's topics are worthiness and brain chemistry.

This is my second video on depression, and although I had my fellow chronic sickies in mind when I made it, it's really for anyone struggling to manage and overcome their depression.

Click HERE if you're having trouble getting the video below to play.

 Hopeful, glorious weekend, my friends!


© by scj

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Our little life

Boy have things been busy 'round these parts!

Jay has been leaning into the many roles related to his ministry: shepherd, organizer, developer, fundraiser, accountant, teacher, mentor and a whole bunch of others. He is a faithful servant with serious hustle. I love watching him respond with fervency and intentionality to the opportunities God has put before him. I also love watching him unscrew stubborn pickle jar lids, because BICEPS. Also triceps. Also deltoids. Also whatever muscles make up the forearm.

In this season, I have stepped out of my teaching role and am on leave from my PhD program so I can continue to rest and heal. I have been craving this sort of rest for many years, and I'm so thankful for the many ways that God has made this possible!

My free time and healing body have made it possible for me to more fully support Jay in his ministry. I am surprised by how much I am loving this support role! I always thought I would enjoy a rich, permanent career in academia, should my health allow it, but I'm so happy to be doing traditional wifely things.

I cook, clean, run errands, and when I can, I help Jay brainstorm and develop leader training and club activities. I think this work is so satisfying because I'm excited about how God is using Jay to build the Kingdom of Heaven, AND I have never had anyone champion my gifts the way Jay has. He is my number one fan, and his support makes me want to lay aside many of my ambitions to come alongside him. It's just so special.

Jay and I are living in Little Saigon, in the heart of Orange County. Our neighbors are primarily hard-working immigrants whose dinners send delightful aromas dancing through the apartment complex. We also have a handful of neighbors in their late teens and early twenties who have transitioned out of the foster system. The businessmen who own our complex offer a cluster of the units at a very reduced rate to these young adults to help them get on their feet, and we will be developing a mentorship program for them in the near future. I can't wait to meet them!

In the meantime, I'm enjoying getting to know the neighbors nearest me, particularly a group of young gals I've been doing a fair bit of baking with. We've made cookies and, most recently, rainbow waffles; and our next project is French macaroons.

You guys, I have never made French macaroons, but I watch the Great British Baking Show, so I know they are, quite possibly, the hardest cookie on the planet to make. When the girls and I were making our macaroon plans, I suggested we keep our expectations very low. They were game, and so we are forging ahead.

In other news, my niece Aria is still the Cutest Baby in the World, but ONLY because I haven't met my second little niece or nephew. That's right, my littlest brother and his wife are pregnant with their first!!!

I am so happy. And I wish I lived closer to these babies.

Thankfully, my brother and his wife were in southern California a few weeks back, and Jay and I were able to join them.

We camped next to a water ski lake and spent our days doting on Aria.

Can you read Jay's shirt? "This is what an awesome uncle looks like!"

It was wonderful, and we are scheming to see her again soon.

We're also celebrating the limbic system retraining victories I experienced on that trip! Eighteen months ago my vertigo and nausea were so bad, I could not have fathomed getting on a boat, but I hopped right on a water ski boat on this trip, and my body did great! I daresay, it felt almost normal! It is such a joy doing things I thought I'd never be able to do again.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: if you're on the fence about doing DNRS, do it! It'll be the best $200 you ever spent.

And with that, I'm signin' off.

Happy fallish Tuesday, friends.

I'm cheering for ya, Home Skillets.


© by scj

Friday, November 10, 2017

Overcoming depression when you have Lyme disease, POTS, CIRS, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Part 1: "First Steps"

My friends,

I've got a new thing in the works! As I heal, I'm able to collect and compile so much of what I've learned on this gnarly, glorious journey. At first, I planned to put everything in a chronic illness survival handbook as a resource for my sick friends. But as I've prayed, I've decided that the best way to put this information into the world is via Youtube.

And so, today I've linked the first of many videos in this series.

Today, I share some of my journey with depression, and I share some practical steps you can take to confront and manage your depression.

Although this series was born out of my desire to help my friends with systemic illness, this video is for anyone who is dealing with depression — for those who have other illnesses and those who don't.

In the latter half of the video, I describe three activities that can help you confront and manage your depression. One of these activities requires a handout that I have linked HERE.

Find the video HERE, or watch below.

I hope this video is helpful, my friends!

I'm cheering for ya, Home Skillets.


© by scj

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Our Home

Today is the day: our couch was delivered! We love love love it. And now the living room lounging possibilities feel rather luxurious. 



Jay is so excited to have living room furniture big enough to lie on.

Lying on couches is one of his specialest pleasures. Along with blending green smoothies, playing beach volleyball, and going barefoot.

I'm lucky I've married such an easy-to-please guy. His happiness makes my life so much happier.

We are both so thankful for the generosity of our friends and family whose wedding gifts have helped us make our home so cozy!

Now that our new couch is safely home, I feel ready to tackle some projects. The guest room is piled with boxes, the back patio needs some major TLC, I have a fair bit of decorating I want to do, and we want to make and hang floating shelves on the wall opposite the dining room table.

When we first got married I vowed I would not undertake any large DIY projects that required an electric sander and varnish, such as refurbishing furniture. But then we started looking at furniture, and I have just one thing to say: INFLATION.

The nightstand I bought two years ago has DOUBLED in price. The mattress I considered buying two years ago is almost 33% MORE. I've been known to walk around the house muttering about inflation; and if you've been a guest in our home, I've likely regaled you with facts about inflation.

We were delighted to find our allergen-proof couch on double clearance last month; and since we weren't having the same kind of success with a dining room table, we determined to make our own farmstyle table. The upside of this decision: we were enthusiastic and committed. The downside: we are not builders. We don't even own an electric drill.

But enthusiasm has accomplished great things throughout history, so we proceeded with our DIY dreaming.

Within days of deciding to take on this rather monumental project, we had committed to making three more tables — one for the patio, a coffee table, and a side table.

Our list of projects only grew as we got more settled into our place: a wood plant stand, floating shelves, a rocking chair.

Just kidding about the rocking chair. I just wanted a good laugh, and imagining us trying to make a rocking chair gave me one.

And then we discovered high grade pine is quite expensive, because INFLATION; and we realized we were so busy there was no way in the world we were going to make one table, much less four. So we have settled on making wood floating shelves, a bench for our dining table-that-seats-8, and a plant stand.

We have borrowed a drill from a friend as we look toward beginning our projects, but it has sat in our guest room for two weeks. So, baby steps.

And also: our farmhouse table from Craiglist is just beautiful, and procuring her was approximately 27 times easier than building our own.

It's so fun to watch everything come into place.

And now: on to the drilling. But first the sawing. Anybody have a saw they want to lend us?!

Happy Wednesday, friends.


© by scj

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS) Video Series

My friends,

As I have blogged about the healing I've experienced using the Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS) throughout the last 14 months, I have had many people reach out to me with questions about the program. There has been so much interest that I have been unable to engage everyone's questions.

And so, I have made a video series answering the questions I get asked the most.

My hope is that you can share these videos with your friends and family who may benefit from DNRS.

The series contains four videos.

The first describes my health history; the second explains what DNRS is; the third describes my progress using DNRS; and the fourth answers frequently asked questions.

I hope these will be helpful to you and your loved ones with Lyme, POTS, ME, fibromyalgia, chemical sensitivities, food sensitivities, mold-related illness and more!

I also hope you can ignore my tendency to make up words in these videos. It turns out making up words is one of my special gifts. Talking is still difficult for me — my brain still has trouble with word recall and word scrambling — so dear friends, please overlook words such as "coinsisting" (consist + coincide = coinsist!). Or, if you are feeling spicy, begin implementing them in your daily life.

Come to think of it, conisist could be a helpful addition to your vocabulary!

Click HERE to watch part 1, "My Health History," or watch it below:

Click HERE to watch part 2, "What is DNRS?" or watch it below:

Click HERE to watch part 3, "My Progress," or watch it below:

Click HERE to watch part 4, "FAQs," or watch it below:

A very hopeful, light-filled Tuesday to you all, my friends!

I'm cheering for ya, Home Skillets.


© by scj

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Weekend Getaway

My 4-month old niece is, to put it plainly, the most adorable baby in the world. I cannot fathom any baby being more beautiful and engaging and responsive and brilliant and advanced. My family agrees with me. There are nine of us adults*, and that's a lot of consensus, so this is obviously a fact of the universe.

Please do not apply this logic to anything else. Like recently-founded religious orders with strange rules. Or suspect political schemes. Or basically anything outside the general category of "Adorable Babies."

Half my siblings and my parents live in the Pacific Northwest and get to enjoy my niece regularly. They often text our family new photos and videos of her being The Cutest Baby in the World, and after awhile it starting gnawing at some deep part of my soul. I do not like being 1,000 miles away from the Most Adorable Baby in the World.

And so, when I discovered my husband would be out of town for work this last weekend, I bought a ticket to Portland.

It has been auntie heaven.

I have actually visited the Pacific Northwest every year at this time since I left home 14 years ago. I crave the crisp fall air and flaming colors this time every year, so I soak up as much of fall as I can when I'm here.

It also happens that my parents have the Cutest Puppy in the World. This is a fact I am certain of because of the aforementioned logic.

Logic has always been my friend.

So basically I've been surrounded by cute babies and autumnal color all weekend, and it has been glorious.

We've gone on walks, picked apples in my parents' backyard, and snuggled up by the fireplace.

I've had some limbic system retraining victories, too.

Most notably, I felt well enough to go on a 3-mile hike while carrying my niece!

The endorphins were so plentiful that I felt as if I'd just enjoyed a long, deep belly laugh in the hours after the hike. I love the days when I feel like I'm heading toward physical normality.

The only downside of all these upsides is wishing my husband were here to share them.

I cannot wait to see him today.

I'm comin' for ya, Panther!

Happy Tuesday, friends o' mine.


*My sister-in-love, Jaime, is auntie to two brilliant babies on her side, so we are letting her award Baby of the Universe to all three babies, in a nice even tie.

© by scj

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Our Wedding

We got our wedding photos back! We got our wedding photos back!

And oh, I love every last one of 'em.

My friend Kayci, who was once my student and is now an incredible wedding photographer, took our photos, and I am so excited to share some of them with you! (Check out Kayci's Instagram HERE and her Facebook Page HERE).

Our photographer, Kayci

The ceremony was at Glenwood Community Church, the church I grew up at in Vancouver, Washington. We had the ceremony in the wooded area on the church property, and the reception in the sanctuary.

I have always wanted to get married under a banner of blue sky, surrounded by trees. About 50 of our friends and family made our forest wedding feel just magical. They made chalkboard signs and brought a vintage dresser; they crafted an arch and decorated shepherd hooks; they made music and arranged flowers. Literally every single detail of the wedding was made beautiful by our loved ones. 


Our guests arrived to harp music, and my bridesmaids walked down the aisle to "For the Beauty of the Earth," played by a harpist, cellist, and violinist. I walked down the aisle to the string trio playing "Be Thou My Vision."

Jay and I saw each other for the first time that day when I walked down the aisle. I'm so glad we decided to do it that way!

When I was a girl, I did not plan the little details of my wedding; I only ever knew I wanted a ceremony among the trees, performed by my dad. Because he played double duty that day — he walked me down the aisle and performed the ceremony — my two younger brothers welcomed the guests and opened us in prayer. They got us off on a light-hearted yet meaningful note. I can always count on them to do that. 

When Jay and I were planning our wedding, we decided on three non-negotiable ceremony and reception goals: 1) to get married (we like setting very reachable goals); 2) to rejoice in the good things God has done in our lives; and 3) to celebrate the glorious news that we can know God — that his love doesn't have be some distant, pie-in-the-sky idea; but we can know it in a real, personal, I-will-commit-to-you-forever-and-I-would-die-for-you-and-I-will-also-bring-you-coffee-in-bed kind of way.

My dad did a beautiful job sharing a wedding message that reminded us to always fix our eyes on Jesus, the only One who can truly satisfy our souls. 

My college roommate, Rachel, has a beautiful, soulful voice that sounds like a cross between Lauren Hill and India Arie. She is my favorite singer forever and ever, Amen. To my great delight, she sang "What a Beautiful Name" while Jay and I took communion, and then led us and our guests in singing "In Christ Alone." 

Early in our dating relationship, Jay told me he did not want to kiss me until the altar, should we get married. After Jay gave his life to Jesus in his late twenties, he worked hard to learn how to treat women like children of God and how to honor God with his body. He told me he knew chastity was the result of dozens of formative choices, and that for him, not kissing was one of those choices. He said he also thought that building a friendship foundation, without the distraction of kissing, could be wise.

And so we waited until the altar for our first kiss.  

I'm so thankful we did. The decision gave us so much freedom to enjoy each other as our friendship grew. I would do the same thing all over again!

With that first kiss to seal the deal, we were man and wife and ready to party!

 I love the look of joy on our siblings' faces in this photo:

Before we could head to our reception, we took posed photos. We invited our guests to stay and watch the group photos, and many of them did. It was fun to share the process with them!

From left to right: my sister-in-law, my friend and fellow survivor of chronic illness, my college roommate, my sister, my mom, my childhood friend, another childhood friend (the childhood friends are sisters!), my sister-in-law
My niece, Aria — the sweetest flower girl in all the land!

Jay's extended family
Jay's nuclear family
My extended family
My nuclear family

Our reception was so joyous. We ate beautiful, delicious food and enjoyed all sorts of entertainment. My sister-in-law, Jaime, made a slideshow of Jay and me through the years; and my brother's friend performed a hilarious song about me and Jay. The song was written by another family friend to the tune of the Princess Bride theme song, and its performance had a Napoleon Dynamite flair that made us roar with laughter.

Our dessert table was absolutely epic:

The reception flew by: my sister and Jay's brother gave toasts, we cut the cake, and then we danced. A friend teaches group dancing, so she taught us to do the Virginia Reel and Marie's Wedding Dance. Every one who could dance, did. I thought I would pop from the joy of it.

If you've ever seen a Jane Austen movie, then you can imagine that the group dancing was like the movie's ballroom dancing, but with a southern twist.

We danced the Virginia Reel to "Bless Your Beautiful Hide" from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

It delighted me to watch Jay's people and my people mingle. What wonderful people God has given us!

After the last dance, our guests gathered with the party horns we gave them, and they honked to the high heavens as Jay and I exited. It was just the most perfect, playful ending to a truly celebratory day — a day made perfect by our friends and family who labored to make every detail glorious, and who have long prayed this day would come.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you who have prayed God would heal me and bring me a life partner. I am so thankful for this new season of marriage and continued healing.

Happy Saturday,


P.S. To read about how I met my best guy, click HERE!

© by scj