06.01.2017

Time to prepare for Mayo Clinic

Hi! Its time to let you all know what I have been up to since March. After a snow ball of events that took place in Colorado, I decided it was time to move back home to Minnesota. My new apartment was not working out and my immune system was suffering big time. It was time for support and a familiar environment (a.k.a home and family).

The sinus struggle

There was still the big question as to why my sinuses were not healing quickly from the January 24th surgery I got to open up my sinus cavity. My surgeon was beyond wonderful, but my symptoms post surgery had stumped her. She would not give up and continued to encourage me to get to the root of it.

It was a necessary surgery because basically my sinus structure was too narrow (post surgery was 1 mm) to allow anything to flow through. It was hollowed out to 1 cm and immediately I noticed less pressure, but the tissue was not healing which was alittle abnormal.

Presynope gets worse

Then when I moved from Boulder to Denver I started to experience more episodes of almost blacking out (presyncope)  and was “seeing stars” almost 24/7.  Since I have been through alot and had alot of strange symptoms in the past- I decided to brush it off and push through, hoping it would get better. It wasn’t until I couldn’t even stand through mass on Sunday without my knees buckling and my vision going grey that I knew I should reconsider my coping mechanism. I think I was afraid I was making it up in my head, so to cope I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening.

But as weeks went by, I got worse. The doctors took tests and treated infectious. Then they ruled out typical ailments that would cause this, but sent me home with no concrete answers or help for this constant state of feeling like I’m half consciousness.

Abnormal tests

The testing and scans that came back abnormal started to create a general picture of my health, which was not looking to good. My hormones were off, I was starting to become hyperthyroidism, my liver enzymes were elevated, my nerves were numb on one side of the body, I was constantly bloated and not digesting food or even getting it past my stomach, the sinuses were not healing, and my immune system markers were below normal (wow thats quite the list!). I was told to go to this doctor and that doctor, but the big question was “How do I get there if every time I stand, I almost black out?”.  “How do I continue working as a nanny like this?” “How do I even do basic errands in this state?” Almost everything seemed like a marathon to my body.

My heart rate was almost always over 100BPM and I felt like I was always shaking on the inside. Most of the time I could not comprehend a full conversation because I was just trying to concentrate on keeping myself vertical and breathing.

I had been referred to a gastroenterologist and he basically said we can first do an endoscope, but if that comes back normal, I need a liver biopsy. In his opinion a 23 year old should not show inflammation of the liver. But his last words were- I think its all connected and you need to get to the bottom of it.

An outsiders perspective

As the days went by, I could barley get myself to the doctors appointment without blacking out, but I pushed through again, because I didn’t know where else to turn. I was the one living in my body and it is hard to be a barometer of yourself. My roommate and I did not see each other often because of our schedules, so this made it even harder to have a constant outsiders opinion on my condition. I only talked to my mom and dad over the phone on a regular basis (though after I came home, they admitted they could see a decline in my health, and was happy with the decision I made). The last thing I wanted was to go backwards in health, it was my worst fear, so I tried to cover it up with all my might, until it was no longer possible.

Eventually my therapist (who is a wonderful Christian lady) looked me in the eye and said that this is a “for real condition”. She was not sure what it was, but after hearing that my family was in Minnesota, immediately suggested I try to get into Mayo Clinic. The Holy Spirit was speaking through her and it actually stuck with me.

God works in wonderful ways and takes hard situations and turns them around for the better. I finally decided to accept that my body is weak and yes indeed I am getting worse. I was emotionally and mentally strung out because I was constantly pushing my physical limits and I had no break. I knew the right decision was to sublease my apartment and move back home until I could recover and get the necessary testing and procedures to figure this out. Its times in life like this that family is not only helpful but necessary.

God knew what He was doing when he planned our family and I was welcomed back home with more hugs and love then ever before. I was showered with unconditional love and despite a hard journey ahead, given encouragement and support to find answers. Its easy for me to doubt myself, but when someone I love and trust looks me in the eye, I find it sinks in a little better.

We agreed I could use 2 weeks of serious rest. To be honest, it was very hard to allow my body to rest after constantly ignoring the signals of exhaustion. I was almost numb and still not sure what to do next in my life. “Would I go back to Colorado and continue where I left off or would I stay here?” Everyone was asking me this question and I was asking myself the same thing.

It’s God plan

It wasn’t until pieces started to fall in place that I realized God wants me here in Minnesota. Over the next 2 months I had spurts of energy in between doctors appointment to do things that gave my life purpose. I connected with new wonderful people in my church community, I am helping start a young adult group, I got my license again, and I stood up in my older sisters wedding (it was a dream wedding and yep I did catch her wedding bouquet!)

To the outside I may look normal. But on the inside I don’t feel or function normal. I wanted to understand and not have to live with so many unanswered questions. Even though I got my license, I quickly realized my neck was in a lot of pain and I got lightheaded quickly with turning my head. I would constantly need hour long naps after quick errands so I decided its best to save it for special occasions. But making goals for “normal” life, that is not medical related, is healthy and much needed to keep my spirits up. It’s a daily balancing act.

Starting the process for Mayo Clinic 

My primary doctor found I have lymes disease after doing a more extensive test. So I started on antibiotic treatment for that. It definitely made me more tired, but I have a lot of trust in this doctor, so I decided to stick with this treatment. Over the next few weeks I slowly started to transfer all the medical records from Colorado doctors to Minnesota. I also started the process of getting an appointment at Mayo clinic with Internal medicine and neurology. There were a lot of discussions between my mom and I, and it just seemed best to start the process sooner then later and be prepared to go in July (this was their soonest Internal Medicine appointment). I was not allowed to make an appointment with their neurology department because it goes by a case by case basis and its quite hard to get into. She has a few friends at church who go to Mayo Clinic and they gave her great advice about their system and how it works. They also passed on that there is such Hope and doctors at Mayo will not stop until they find an answer.

I filled out extensive applications, got doctors referrals, and transferred pages and packets of records for both departments. Then we waited.

Not accepted!

Mail came on Friday but I was not feeling too well, so it was after Mass on Easter Vigil that I spotted this envelope from Mayo Clinic. I opened it, but was shocked to find that they said it would not work out to be seen by their neurology department. The only way was to get an Internal Medicine appointment, which was scheduled for the end of July. I was confused and somewhat upset that on all days, Easter, God would allow such hard news. “How could I cope until then?”

My mom (being the wonderful mother she is and seeing clearly I needed to get in sooner) decided to make a phone call bright and early Monday morning April 17, asking if there is any possible way I could get in sooner. She explained I was only getting worse each week and my heart rate was constantly racing and the numbness had spread to my face.

Perfect timing

It was by Gods perfect timing, that the receptionist said they had a cancellation and I could get in on April 24. My eyes bugged out when she said she took the appointment for me and it was a week away. I was not sure if I was nervous or excited, but I knew one thing: this appointment was chosen in Gods timing and my job is to accept it with no question and of course thank my mom big time 😉

The week before my appointment I fought back countless fears like “what if they don’t find anything?” But its in times like this, that I put complete trust in God and His hand in my life. So I put one foot in front of the other and followed His lead.

to be continued “Mayo clinic week 1”

disclosure 3
02.10.2017

Take courage and do it.

Dear God, whats wrong?

For weeks and months I had this funny feeling something was wrong. You know that feeling deep inside your bones. It’s an instinct you can’t shake but can’t find a solution for. I was smiling and going about my day on the outside, but on the inside, I was in pain and did not know what to do.

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My nightly prayers felt they were not being answered. It did not seem like God was listening or guiding my step to the solution. Next step: I took my questions to my priest. The great thing about being Catholic is that we receive graces in the sacrament of reconciliation. Not only that, but the words a priest speaks can reach the very depths of your heart and soul. It’s necessary for life itself.

Honestly all I wanted was to know why I was still struggling with bits and pieces of my health (specifically my sinuses). I just wanted my immune system to kick in and kill my never ending sinus infection. It was a mystery to me. I wanted to believe that God made the body so it can heal itself when given the right tools…but why was mine struggling? I did not want to live on antibiotics for the rest of my life because I was beginning to feel very tired and run down. Why did it feel like I could never get a full breath? I was getting winded walking up the stairs to my apartment (I started thinking “am I THAT old?”)

My sinus anatomy

I knew my sinuses were very inflamed and infected and could not drain. Sinus problems haunted me since high school. I knew I could not breath through my nose. A year ago my doctor brought up the possibility that my reoccurring infections were due to an anatomical problem. The words flew past me because I was not ready to hear it. I was scared and stubborn of “giving up and giving into surgery”. God had more work to do on me obviously.

Once I moved to Colorado, the problem did not get better. But the newness of starting over was just what I needed. I was quickly led to skilled doctors, sinus specializing chiropractors, infectious disease specialists and nothing worked. I honestly was loosing hope the pain in my head would never go away. But I still held onto wanting to know and make the decisions.

The same words

When we want to control our lives, that is not good. God wants us to trust in Him.

I remember the day I saw a priest at a visiting church, he asked me if I was ok. I told him I was getting impatient and sicker by the day that no one could figure out these crazy sinus infections. Calmly he said that “God is willing this to happen, there is nothing I can do just yet.” Ouch! I was not crazy about this answer but I kept it in my memory.

Fast forward one month and I ask a different priest what he thinks, and the answer was almost identical. “There is not much you can do about this condition, but trust God has given this to you as a “gift” to change you.”

Fast forward one week and for the 3rd time I bring up this pain to my priest. He looked at me deeply in the eyes and said that he “thinks God has given me this sinus problem, not as a punishment but out of love. God only wants me to let go of what I am holding onto most in life…control”.

It finally clicked.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

All along I wanted to control this situation. I wanted to know the answer and just get better…all in a time frame. I was still scared of too much medicine. I was scared I would never get better.

I remember this day clearly and I sat down in the church pew and told God that I was ready for him to help and I would step down and let Him do the work. It’s when we become meek and humble that God can start to work within us. This is exactly what happened.

It’s time to listen, take courage and just do it

I got referred to an ENT weeks before Christmas break. I put it on the bottom of my list because I had been to one in MN and he basically did nothing. So then I go to MN to visit my family and was almost bed ridden with sinus pain for some of the time. I get home and spend New years eve in the ER with a worse infection. I guess I learned my lesson. My thought process was ” if it did not help before, why would it be any different now.” This is where I started to lean on my own understanding and figured I knew the answers.

But I could not shake a conversation my mom and I had when I first moved out here. She casually said “what if you find that one doctor in Boulder that actually can do something big, and give your body what it needs to recover.”  After everything I had tried already, I thought why not and scheduled the ENT appointment.

I found myself sitting in the office of a skilled surgeon who simply pointed to the scan of my skull. She showed me the grooves and hollow spaces in my sinuses. I was fascinated..but there was one big problem- there was no passage way left for air. It was less then a mm between the bones.

It was not all in my head, finally an answer. Some people take it as bad news, but for me, it was a relief. The infections never left because there was always a pool of fluid stuck in my sinus cavity. The bones in my head were formed in a way that did not allow fluid to drain. I remember a time in high school where my sinuses felt “tight”. Over the years it slowly got worse, but I slowly got used to it until my normal. That “normal” transformed into a inkling something was not right. I went about my day obsessing on how others could breath so easily, and I could not!

Next step was to stick the scope inside to see whats going on. Kinda an intimidating gadget. I asked for no anesthetic because of the side effects it gives me. So I grip the sides on the chair, she injects the decongestant liquid and tries to maneuver the scope inside my sinuses. But no luck- it was pretty much swollen shut even with the strongest decongestant/membrane shrinker. At that point I knew there was no more thinking or pondering..there was one answer that I had to take the risk and just do it. Time to jump right in.

Time to let go

When I got the news sinus surgery was in my future. I asked the surgeon, how soon? She said we can try a few things…but I blurted out. “No please, I have tried so much, I just want to breath.” After going through the list of things to try before surgery (most of which I had already tried) we set a date 2 weeks out for the surgery. She completely  agreed, I needed a change and relief from infections.
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Wow that was quick! But she wanted to make sure that I did not have to go another month of antibiotics (I was already on month 7 of those bacteria killing pills.) Everything after that went smoothly like it was all in Gods hands. The paperwork, the phone conversations, the dates…it all just worked out. This kind of situation reminds me of how Gods timing works and feels. It’s almost too easy to be true. God never wants us to stress over the little things. All it took was my “yes” and becoming weak so God could do his work.

Bless me please 

I asked for a blessing before my surgery, and my wise priest said a good will come of this. Not only will I get better physically, but I will get a chance to let go and trust God even more. It’s a scary thing to hand over your life to a surgeon and anesthesiologist. But he was right, its an opportunity to make peace with whatever control that fights inside.

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When any of my friends of family heard of this upcoming surgery they all had the same response. “You will be so much better afterwards.” I did not believe anyone through all my fear and pain. So I was still trying to control the outcome, kinda silly, but I think this was my coping mechanism. I honestly think I was in more pain the months before the surgery then the weeks after.

The pressure inside was unsettling and suffocating. I felt numb. The numbness was just a sign that my body was tired of fighting this endless infection and it needed a helping hand. It was in this numbness that God worked deep inside my heart. He taught me its ok to let go of this fear and control. Its time to stop running from it, but take courage and do it.

Trust

After this, I did not hesitate. I made the appointments, took the bottles of pills and fasted before the big day (thats just part of the procedure before anesthesia.) I told the family’s I nanny, I would need time off since there is a limit to how much physical activity I’m allowed after. The week before I even went to confession.

I felt ready for the big day. I went through all the motions and slowly Gods will for me started to sink in. I finally chose to trust the unknown. I chose to trust that surgery was good. I was trusting help was on the way.

“Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it.” Ezra 10:4

caroline

disclosure 3
01.07.2017

My step in the deep snow.

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The first glance I got of the steep incline from the train window set my heart on fire. I honestly have no explanation for why a snow covered mountain gives me this joy and peace. Courage was in my soul. My adventure was just about to start and I knew I was going to love every second of it.

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It started weeks before I boarded the mountain train. I was on the phone with my mom talking about Christmas break and the typical question came up “So…what do you want for Christmas?” I had always dreamed of taking my own adventure someday and I felt like the time was now. So I asked for a train ticket and an air bnb room in the mountains. It was not the typical gift, but my mom got just as excited as I did and said the experience I will get from this trip will last a lifetime. So the plans started forming…

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Before I knew it It was 5:00 am and time to get out of bed to catch the first bus. I was so excited to know the day had come to have my adventure. The adventurous side of me often got squashed by my fragile health but today I was thanking God that I actually felt good. A big part of me wanted to find out what I can do and who I really was at this point in my life. I’m only 22 but I have gone through a lot with the ups and down of a chronic illness. I felt like God was tugging at my heart asking me to do something spontaneous and be ok with no knowing what comes next.

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I took a few buses to get from Boulder to the Union station and it was quite fun hauling around a weekend bag through the big Denver city. God has a lot of fun things planned for me. The first was my train buddy. This 80 something year old grandpa who shared his story about life and his perseverance through a hurricane and his wife death and how he never lost his faith. I really do love getting to know older people because they have so much wisdom to share.

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As the train slowly chugged up the mountain, my jaw started to drop out of awe and amazement. God created these mountains and the closer I got to the top, the closer I felt to Him. After the 10 minute long tunnel the view was pure white. Snow was piled high in Fraser and as I stepped of the train, I felt the cold pass me by. It was awesome because I love the cold. The snow was exactly what I needed too because Boulder was still sunny and warm. I was craving a cold snowy adventure. I quickly looked at my list of what I wanted to do up here in the mountains. Here is what I wrote: 1.) have a spontaneous adventure 2.) try something new 3.) make a snow angel 4.) make friends with random people 5.) listen to God’s voice 6.) eat snow

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I was dropped off the train at the “station” which was basically an outdoor platform. I never considered a bus from the platform to the air bnb because I wanted the adventure of the mile walk in the snow…with my suitcase. Little did I know, the sidewalks were piled with snow so I ended up dragging my suitcase in the snow. I took a few stops to unload all the snow gear and put it on, to make the bag lighter. I’m sure people were wondering where exactly I was going. But the big question was.. did I know where I was going?

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Eventually I made it and ended up getting a 5 second ride form a handy man up the very steep hill to the airbnb lodge. He wanted so badly to help, so I let him (don’t worry he looked like a nice stranger!) and he gave me a high five as I got out of the car. This little act of kindness gave me the security that this town was sincere and friendly, which indeed it is.

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I was exhausted and took a nap right as I got in the door. Oh, but before that I found a spoon and bowl and filled it up with fresh snow to eat. Then when I woke up, it was time for exploring and finding food so I walked to the grocery store down the road and decided to pick up some things for the weekend. I got to know the friendly air bob hosts. The husband and wife showed me around the kitchen and made me feel very at home. They thought it was quite funny when they found out I ate snow. They told me they normally hand wash dishes and I turned around and quietly unloaded my bowl and spoon from the dishwasher. They asked if I ate dinner and I said “kinda…it was actually a bowl of snow.” They broke out laughing but I guess it was not they typical first meal their guests eat :). I decided to go to bed semi-early so I could wake up for church feeling refreshed. The snow was just starting to fall and I excited for the morning.

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I woke up to big thumps on the roof. The snow was getting heavy and sliding off the roof. Kinda a fun way to wake up. The first thing I noticed was how clean mountain air is (It felt so good to breath!).

So sometimes there are those people you meet in life that really make an impression on your life. I got to spend the pink Sunday (the 3rd Sunday of Advent) with the best Catholics in the Mountains. A friend picked me up and we ended up driving to get another young guy and girl. We are all about the same age and share the same faith so it was really fun to talk and get to know each other.

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As we entered the beautiful church of Our Lady of the Snow and found our pew, the priest opens the confessional door with a young girl fainted in his arms. I had met this priest when I came to this town with my mom on our little trip to this mountain town a few months before. It was a simple look as he darted his eyes to our pew that he wanted our help. I offer water to the young girl as my friend checks her pulse.  Her mom runs through the door to see what is going on with her daughter. It ended up being little bit of dehydration.

I remember the mom looking up at me and asking “who are you?” This moment was imprinted in my memory because it was a question I have been asking myself for a while and partly the reason why I wanted this adventure…to understand better the person God is forming me into. I explained I am visiting from Boulder and my friend goes to this church. But that question really got me thinking inside about how God is shaping me.

Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Community is a foundation of daily life. It’s not that I have not found great people in Boulder, but I feel like I’m searching for my community still. This unsettled feeling is God trying to tell me to push a little further and keep seeking until I find the people He wants me to be surrounded by. This small mountain parish gave me a glimpse of Gods Love.

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People need each other and there is no way around it. I sometimes try to force myself to be ok in certain situations, a big one is feeling lonely in a new environment. I crave a familiar face or a voice but all that is familiar is back in Minnesota. A phone call to family helps, but I know Gods is opening a door in my life to new people and opportunities.

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The rest of the day was filled with witnessing unexpected goodness of these new Catholic friends. Its always a relief to be sitting around people where you can watch a movie about John Paul 2, talk about God, your favorite saints, pray the rosary and listen to Catholic music. Allowing God into your day is so natural and fulfilling when you are surrounded by people who Love God with all their heart and mind. The 4 of us made a fun breakfast together, did random walks in the snow, and I even got my snow angel in :).

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One memorable thing was pulling out a rope rosary I had been carrying around with me for 2 weeks. I had a feeling I was going to give it away to someone and it was one of the young Catholic guys I met that weekend. He is discerning the priesthood and liked to say the rosary. So I found it fitting and he could wear it on his wrist like I saw my brother and friends back at home do. I like how God prepares us in random ways like that.

I find that true friends help each other grow in their faith. It does not always matter how long you know the person or even how much you know about them. Sometimes you just get the opportunity to be friends easily and conversation comes naturally. Those are the friendships and people God had planned from the beginning.

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The 3rd day (Monday) was a strange day. I felt like I had not gotten closure to the questions in my heart. I walked around the town and got some coffee. But the day felt empty. I was scheduled to board the train at 5:00 and honestly I didn’t want to leave because I think I fell in love with the mountain town. I decided to meet my friend before he had to go to work. I had no idea I was in for a hike in the deep snow, but its exactly what was missing from my adventure.

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It was a bit of a struggle, one foot off the path and you got buried up to your thigh in cold fluffy snow. So this is what hiking in snow was like! I was stepping in deep snow and taking the plunge and risk of freezing my toes off. But I didn’t care really about being cold. All I wanted was to hear Gods answers to the questions I had holding inside. It was silent so I just kept walking.

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Thats how life is sometimes. You just have to keep walking, one step at a time. It may be a desert you are walking in, or a rainforest or on a beach. But for me, its stepping in deep snow. Blindness to if the step in front of me will lead me to get buried in snow or if I will actually keep my balance. A friend walking behind making sure I don’t freeze me toes off helps too.

I willingly jumped on a train to lead me here. I opened my heart to the unexpected. Why? Because honestly I felt like I was running from something inside. I wanted to find out what and I wanted to let God dig me out of the snow and reach out his hand. It was time I let go and trust God.

“Wherever You Go”

There’s a train leaving your heart tonight.
There’s a silence inside your head and you’re running you’re running from it.
But I’m coming for you, coming for you, wherever you go.
I’m coming for you, I’m coming for you wherever you go.
Open your hands and look into my eyes; all that you see here,
you’ll soon leave behind, so open your hands and look into my eyes
’cause I’m coming for you, coming for you wherever you go

As I fell over and over again into the deep snow, the fear of sinking slipped away. Before now I was very scared of the deepness of life. I was scared of more pain. I avoiding making mistakes. But all of this blocked off the love God was trying to place into my life. He was coming for me, wherever I was going.

Stepping into the deep can be scary but fun too. There is joy in getting buried in snow even if the cold stings. Sometimes we can’t hear God, but we can only see and experience what He is doing in our lives.

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I left Fraser ready to start a new chapter of my life. I was ready to accept any pain and deepness in front of me. But I was also ready to experience joy in every step I take. I knew I needed to trust God would bring me good catholic friends (close by) to guide my step or simply walk along side of me, because we are not meant to live life alone.

Life is about sharing Gods love. Having joy and willingness to help guide our friends on the path to God and also let them help us too, is the best gift.

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So a week goes by and I repack to leave for Minnesota. I was a bit nervous going back home for the first time since I moved here. So much has changed, but it was time to get on that plane to go meet my family back home for Christmas. The trip was filled with love from my siblings, parents, friends, and Coopers slobbers and hair. It was exactly what I needed. A big dose of love and support. Only pictures can describe how fulfilling this trip was.

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I did not know that my leaving the hometown of Minnesota can become the source of talk among families. I honestly don’t mind people talking because its a good story. “A sick young Caroline gets better and decides to follow Gods will and leave to the mountain state. Not knowing anyone or even any street but the call in her heart got her on her feet.”

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I do miss my big snuggle bug. I got used to sleeping with orange rubber toys and waking up with dried up slobber on my face. I found myself sneaking into my sisters room to snuggle up next to them at night. I sat at the top of the stairs listening to my parents conversations as they cleaned up the kitchen. As much as I dreaded the drilling/pounding for the kitchen lights, stove, countertops, faucets, etc. (aka project make-lunger-kitchen-the-heart-of-the-home), I eagerly awaited seeing the handy men from my church that I grew up at. I cherished the familiar voices, the many hugs and kisses and the cold winter icy snow and the howling wind across the Minnesota lake. The nonstop dinner conversations and banana split therapy for a down day are only a glimpse into the love my family has for each other. Never before have I appreciated home as much.

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I knew it was going to be hard to leave, but remembering that God brought me to Colorado gave me the reassurance that I will survive once I got back. It took a lot of willpower to convince myself I will be OK. Knowing I had no family or good friends waiting for me, gave me a feeling of emptiness. I did not realize this emptiness was being filled with sadness instead of joy and excitement for new opportunities.

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God has allowed this emptiness and I decided it will only be filled with His Love. All I needed to do was lift up my eyes to Him and reach out my hand. Trust.

I got to the Denver airport exhausted and feeling like I left something. The feeling was very truthful becasue I did leave something behind me. I cleared away any lie that I had told the person I used to be when I was very sick. I had shown my home town its possible to change, its possible to do the impossible if God is your guide.

My childhood friend in Minnesota told me that every hardship I have endured while living in Colorado was necessary and it ultimately got me to the path that God has planned for me. It’s here, and I feel it with all my heart, but the feeling is emptiness. It’s emptiness that is going to only be filled with Gods plans for my life that only He knows right now. What’s left for me to do, is be patient and keep walking in the deep snow, unafraid of sinking. I have learned that control only fills the heart with sadness and fear. Emptiness can be scary but it can be so good.

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Feeling broken is ok. Its part of Gods plan to rebuild us. Stepping in the deep snow and doing what I am scared of, breaks down the walls of lies and fears of the past. Something is needed to break the cycle for each and everyone of us. We all get weary and need a friend to walk along side of us, and its ok to sometimes reach your hand out so they can pull us out the deep snow when we fall off the path.

I love these lyrics of Audrey Assad’s song…
“You’ve been let down, it’s true
Your pain is so easy to see
You’re haunted by your history
And it feels like you’ve got no escape

Lift up your head
Help is on the way
And it won’t pass you by
You just gotta reach out your hand

Lift up your eyes
Love is on the way
And it won’t pass you by
You just gotta reach out your hand”

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Not much time has gone by and I am already seeing Gods love fill this emptiness I once thought was bad. Catholic families I never knew before have let me care for their kids. Being a nanny and caring for Gods children gives me joy. Each day something new happens and you have to tackle it right on the spot.

I don’t fear being lonely anymore but instead I pray for the people in my life and the people I will meet in the future. I want to show them that once they are broken down and have that hole of emptiness, it can be filled, but only with Gods love. Even if its only a smile, the light inside of them has been lit.

A person once told me that when I feel unsettled, its God trying to speak to us so we do something about it. Peace is what God wants for us and its what we should seek. We should not settle but always seek for a true and honest life.

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It was about 5:00pm mountain time and I was watching the horizon as I got closer to Boulder. I was tried from the long day of travel and was already missing home. I was lacking courage. But a glimpse of the snow filled mountains lit me heart of fire once agin. I took a deep breath, it will all be ok. I forgot that feeling and instantly the emptiness inside was filled with hope and courage. God speaks to each of us in different ways and he was speaking to me at that very moment.

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Deep snow is beautiful because its there that I find Gods helping hand waiting for me. It’s in the deep snow I find happiness.

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“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.

It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”

― Pope John Paul II

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To complete this season of my life in one blog post I want to wrap up a few things. I’m still studying to be a catholic doula.  I get antsy on my days off that are set aside for studying so I bounce around on my exercise ball/chair, listening to Audrey Assad, eat spoon fulls of brain food (coconut oil) and sniffle through boxes of tissues (aka 4th sinus infection in 6 months!). So that left me bringing in new Years eve with an unexpected visit to the Dr. and getting prescribed antibiotics and sinus surgery soon to expand my ever beautiful sinus bones that God designed a little too narrow. Please pray for me, I’m a bit nervous.

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I met a great Catholic friend who loves saying novenas and also eats paleo. I’m keeping myself occupied nannying cute little ones and enjoying getting dumped in snow this past week in Boulder. I picked my patron saint of 2017- St. Gianna. I find it fitting because this year I am nannying and studying to be a Catholic doula.

God is calling me to live each day and breathe each breath to the fullest. It’s good and I’m thankful.

 

 

caroline

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11.27.2016

God’s love from the mountains and back

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I caught myself saying one day “If the seasons didn’t change..I don’t think I would change.” Sometimes words just come out of my mouth, but I stopped to think about this for a second. One thing about me…is that I don’t take small steps…I just jump. I like it when one day I wake up and can smell the cold snow and I know the day is going to be very different. I’ll have to take different walks, eat different food, pray different prayers, have different conversations, and so on.

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So far it only snowed one day here in Colorado and then it melted a few days later. I guess it snows more in the mountains, but here in Boulder the sun gets pretty warm during the day. As the weeks go by I am finding myself discouraged that the snow will not stay like I am used to. So much has changed since I moved here and sometimes I hold onto consistency and routine, past what is necessary. The priest at my church kindly warned us that if our routine will not eventually lead us to heaven, then it is a dangerous routine.

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I remember the day God spoke to my heart and told me it is going to be ok but things had to change. He reminded me that I got through the first “storm” of my life which was recovering from a neurological health condition back in Minnesota. But there is a new season in my life I will not know anything about until I truly open up and start living it. I have to let go of  fear of not knowing if I want to fully receive the gifts God has in store for me here. I did not end up in Colorado by accident. Only time will show what I am doing here 🙂

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I typically don’t look forward to surprises (I’m getting better at it though!), but I knew God was going to uphold me through any new storm. I’ll never forget the relief I found the weekend my mom and I went on a trip to the mountains. God knew I needed new faces, new scenery, new smiles and most importantly a renewed  trust in Him and peace in my heat. The amazing mountains were a sign of God’s greatness, and with Him nothing is impossible. I did not realize my peace was slipping away and my routine I had set up in Boulder was not bearing fruit. It was a hard reality to accept, but that is why breaks are necessary in life- to refocus our life so we can get on the right track

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After this mountain trip, it was time to meet my dad at the airport and show my parents the little area of my town that I have started to call “home”. I am seeing how change can bring so much happiness to a family. Space away hurts, but it is also allowing me to grow into the person I am supposed to be. It is taking 1,000 miles away from everything familiar to mold me and shape me into what God wants.

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But still, moving across the country and leaving everything I ever knew, was taking a toll even if I did not want to face this reality. It really hit me after family left and I realized that connection is priceless. Getting to share the beauty of the mountains with my mom as we drove up the steep slopes are something I will never forget. There are few people where I can look into their eyes and just simply be myself and be happy. It’s the kind of love we hold onto and will always lean back on when things don’t go right. But for me it was not tangible/reachable anymore, it was only a voice on the phone or a text before bed.

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I realized I had this hole in my heart I could not even face to acknowledge…loneliness. It cut me so deep I had a day my hands and head felt numb and all I longed for was a hug, from anyone. My family was 1,000 miles away. The people and places I knew since I was 5 were not reachable. I had taken a jump out here to Colorado because I truly (and still do) feel like God called me here. I had the courage to follow this voice and I never looked back until the loneness became so real. God knows this hurt very well, but He did not want me to seek out a human hug. He wanted me to search for the love that only God can give when our heart has this giant hole. Yeah a hug will still help fill this hole, but everyday through continuous prayer, surrender to Gods will, listening to those who have no-one, and trying to be the light of God in my community is showing me the gift God has given me. He has given me courage to do His will and following God is worth the loneness I am feeling. So now I have hope.

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The storm of change started when I was not expecting it to. I thought I had a good plan set up that consisted of nannying, colon hydrotherapy school, and moving into a good location of town . I was biking distance from the colonic school. A bus ride to work. A walk around the road to a good grocery store, coffee shop, bus stop, my chiropractor, a pretty park. It all seemed good.

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I remember one day I was lying in my bed in my new room. There was a feeling of comfort, of consistency and of safety beneath my head. God had provided so much and I was thankful for this but something inside told me that the “plan” I had was not His. I instantly got unsettled and asked God to show me, if this was not His plan, then what is? I was battling letting go of my plan and it was a tug-a-war with what I wanted and what God wanted.

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I knew my stubbornness was strong and decided to start adding daily prayer in to my routine. I am not sure why I got out of it, but what matters is the now and that I’m trying again. The day I surrendered and asked God for guidance to follow His Will is when it all changed. One thing after another started unwinding, until the whole train of my plans actually fell through. I knew it was time to start a Novena. I scanned several saints and eventually ended up picking the Novena to out Lady Undoer of Knots. I knew I had knots in my life that only prayer could undo…so I started it. During this time I found that my struggles were only going to be fixed with the help of God and I had to listen to his Will. I took many leaps of faith and found that I had to try things and let go of a lot of pain I was holding onto. I learned to trust in Gods safety.

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I first got a bad infection that put me in bed for days (still on the weaker side but starting to come back to normal with the help of medicine). Then the family I was nannying decided they don’t need me anymore and I finished my last day with the 2 little girls I absolutely adore. Lastly, after some thought and prayer I decided to change my course of schooling. Something was not looking right about the colon hydrotherapy training and I felt God was intending me to put my effort somewhere else. So yep! My life hit a stand still. Now what? I moved all the way from Minnesota to Colorado to just not know what to do next.

This is where God can work best in our lives.

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The one place I go to when nothing makes sense is church. I still don’t have many close friends here but I do sure know the priests at my church and they know a lot about me too. I got a feeling of relief when I stepped inside the church, I always do :). I told them my plans had changed and I needed guidance. The prayer “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference” was literally staring me in the face when I came home and I knew God directed my eyes to this.

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So things started to change for the better. My doctor told me my infection needs a month of antibiotics and I started it with no questions. Instead of being very upset and the nanny job ending, I took it as a sign that God has another family in mind for me to care for. It took me longer to get over the change of plans for the colon hydrotherapy school, but I got over the hump. Because of several circumstances, the program was not a good fit anymore. It was not easy to accept that the future I had all lined up was now gone.

Looking back I am thankful God drastically changed my plans, because I am starting to see what He has in store for me instead.  Slowly but surly God is shedding light and giving me wisdom to make new plans according to His will.

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Through all of this, I found that my true passion is kids and babies. Everything about being a nanny feels right and it’s where God is clearly leading me. I have decided to start a few extra classes to help with getting certified and informed about babies. CPR, first aid, infant massage, and also classes to becoming a Doula! I have thought about being a Doula for years but never considered it until this open door of what felt like “stand still” and “nothingness” opened. Sometimes its in the “nothingness” that God speaks to our hearts.

1 Kings 19:11-12

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:

And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

 

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I used to have my whole stack of nutrition books for moms and babies, because ever since high school I found whole foods and nutrition for growing babies and kids to be fascinating. I decided to spend a weekend afternoon at the bookstore looking though the section I once was glued at. It’s funny how life happens and our passions that we once had a young age get buried under everything. For me, I think that having several health conditions stopped me from allowing this dream to be real.

I was a baby that was born at home and grew up with a mom who told stories of my natural childbirth. We shared a love for babies, getting to know pregnant moms, nutrition for kids, and everything in-between. Before I moved out here, I had lined up several meetings with midwives to see if that was something I was interested in. But for some reason, God allowed me to go through this trial to understand that to follow His will, I have to let go of alot inside.

So now I am excited to announce that I am officially training to be a doula! I am still nannying on the side but my focus has changed a bit. I have finally gotten to the point of retaking driving classes (fun times!) because I truly believe I will drive in the near future. Yes my autonomic neuropathy may have caused me to have several health challenges, but I am not longer letting my disease take control of my life. Only God is in control of my life!

Oh, so back to that Novena. On the last day of the Novena (err.. took little longer then 9 days..but thats ok) I remembered God gave me so much hope. Hope of open doors. Confidence that knowing the plans I have in front of me are His plans. Trust in the unknown, the things I can’t grasp or expect will still be good–not only good, but amazing. I am one to be afraid of making wrong mistakes but if I never try, I will never know what lies ahead.

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Even though it still has not snowed, I’m ok with it. The new season came today- Advent. I don’t feel that chill in the air, but I do feel a great love from God. After mass there was a visiting priest I went to go meet. He asked if I was a student and I told him my plans about being a doula and that I am a nanny. He had this huge smile and said “You would be a great missionary-we need people like you-people who love babies and kids.” I still don’t know what to think about this, but he went on to say how abundant Gods love is during advent and its a time of change. It is a time to open our hearts and prepare.

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I feel like whatever God is shaping me into…He is setting the foundation right now. He is using this time in Boulder to allow me to grow in my faith, gain confidence that I can do anything with Gods strength, and find the gifts He has given me and allow them to bear fruit.

He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. ~John 15:2

 

caroline

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10.31.2016

Stovetop Cinnamon Apples

 

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When you have apples overflowing in your fruit bowl and some of them are well…too soft eat (because soft apples are never as good as the crunchy ones in my opinion), it’s time to cook something! Stovetop cinnamon apples turn any kind of regular apple into a sweet and healthy treat.

For an easy topping on yogurt or ice-cream its nice to have them cubed up and bite size. I have gone back and fourth cooking whole apples, 1/2 apples, apple slices and now apple “cubes”. It’s fun that apples can be made into a variety of shapes and sizes.

I had my 2 year old helper that I nanny, chop with her plastic knife along side of me. We ended up snacking on the apples that were on the crunchier side because crunchy local apples here in Colorado are amazing!

Stovetop cinnamon apples are a simple recipe for kids to help with too. It is a super easy recipe and can be done in basically 10 min (awesome for short attention spans!). The clean up is minimal but the finished apples are warm and yummy! So here is how you do it.

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Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Wash, peel and chop apples into 1/2″ in cubes.
  2. In a saucepan (I use an amber glass one) add water, salt, cinnamon, butter and maple syrup (optional) and stir to combine.
  3. Add chopped apples to the saucepan and turn on med-high heat and cook for 10-15 min with the lid on. (It may bubble up so I always find that cracking the lid to side helps release the pressure so it doesn’t make a mess and overflow.)
  4. Let cool for a few minutes and then serve! Leftovers can be saved in the fridge for a few days too. 🙂

 

caroline

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