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Showing posts from July, 2019

True Love: Finding beauty when we choose love

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Twenty-two years ago, on Shawn's twenty-second birthday, he proposed to me. I was eighteen. We had been dating only a few weeks, but both of us knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.


Eight months into our engagement, I had a stroke, and once in the hospital, I was diagnosed with a heart condition. At one point it looked so grim as to prompt my doctor to advise a transplant and predict I had less than ten years left to live. I was told I could never sustain a pregnancy.
Everyone looked to Shawn for his response. He solidified his commitment to me by standing tall and absorbing the news as if he were already my husband. He held my hand and reassured me that he would be there forever.

We were married five months later. Despite our young age and quick engagement, I was confident our marriage would last because it was built on a choice.

I recently read a book called All About Love by bell hooks. She uses a definition for love that moves beyond our feelings, quoting M. Scot…

Your Pain is Real: The beauty of abandoning the Suffering Olympics

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I have a rare form of muscular dystrophy. It's a progressive disease that slowly affects my heart, lungs, and overall muscle strength. It also causes varying degrees of soreness and pain, depending on my activity level and positioning.

Several years ago, I met a woman who experiences severe pain on a daily basis. Her multiple health issues combine to make a vicious cycle of agony which she manages with a complex cocktail of drugs and therapy.

And I thought to myself, who am I to complain about my pain? 

I expressed this idea in a small group of caring friends, and they challenged me with this loving statement:

Her extreme pain does not make your pain any less real. Pain is not for comparing.

Their insightful wisdom was uplifting and gave me the freedom to acknowledge and accept my own suffering.

Last week, I visited with a friend about her emotional pain. She confided that she felt guilty for her distress in light of my struggles. I recalled the vision my group had given me, and I passe…

Quiet Retreat: The beauty of getting away

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Yesterday, I woke up on a mountain top.


Almost two years ago, we bought two century-old mining claims in the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest. The road accessing our property is rough, limiting travel to only four-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicles.

We've been there many times with our side-by-side UTV, but only for brief scenic views or short lunch stops. Last weekend was our first time staying the night.

Shawn and I typically go camping in a self-contained trailer with all the luxuries of home, but the only shelter we can feasibly bring into our land is a large canvas tent. It had been years since we'd been tenting, so we had to remember how to judiciously pack just the basics. We pared down in every area including food, clothes, and entertainment. We only planned to be away for about twenty-four hours.

Since I have physical limitations, Shawn did all the work of loading and unloading the truck, putting up the tent, and setting up camp. A storm was blowing in, and just as…

Imposing Daily Limits: Finding beauty in mandatory restrictions

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As part of my recovery from my hospital stay and to prevent more bloating, I've had to restrict the amount of fluids I drink.

Each day, for the last six days, the doctor has set my limit at 1200 milliliters (about 40 ounces).



This may seem like a reasonable amount at first glance, but when you start to measure every drop, you realize how quickly the target can be reached.

I take medicine five times a day, so I need six ounces of water in the morning and another six at bedtime. Then I use about three ounces each for the other three doses. This brings me to twenty-one ounces, about half of my allowance, just for swallowing pills!

The remaining nineteen ounces gets divided among meals and snacks, about five ounces each. That's less than half a can of soda, or a third of a tall glass of water.

By the end of the day, I look longingly at juice, milk, and water with a thirst I can't quench. I question why I'm following my doctor's advice, and I'm tempted to drink more than…

Beauty on the Bad Days: What forced stillness allows us to see

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For three days and nights last week, the hospital was my home.



I'd been dealing with severe bloating and fluid retention, a consequence of my heart condition, and had met with my cardiologist about it. He gave me a "super-diuretic" to quickly get rid of the extra fluids.

However, my body responded a little too well, causing a five percent weight loss in two days. This dramatic change caused my sodium levels to plummet, leaving me dizzy, unable to concentrate, and literally seeing stars. 

Off to the emergency room I went.

Apparently, the body's relationship between fluids and sodium is a delicate balance. Treatment that is too much or too fast can have serious effects, so I was admitted for careful restoration of this system and constant monitoring.

As my body tried to regulate itself, my heart rate and blood pressure were affected. One day I had a pulse of 45 in the morning and then 158 in the afternoon. Both extremes made me feel sick, lightheaded, and weak.

Ashley, my nu…