Pillar 6 of Brain Health: Medical Health

“Every time you learn a new fact or skill, you change your brain; This is called neuroplasticity”- Lara Boyd, Ph.D

Welcome back Stand In Lovers!  It’s a gorgeous overcast morning in Las Vegas, and I am writing to you from a chic, local coffee shop in Las Vegas called Sambalatte enjoying a decaf espresso with a toothpick swirl of Italian-sourced lemon essential oil on the rim, European style! (One of many fringe benefits of running an essential oil business!).  The owner of the shop is Brazilian, and has incredible passion for coffee!   Enjoying some Balance essential oil on my wrists to keep me focused, grounded, and ready for the day!  My friend and memory expert Jim Kwik always reminds me: “When you win the morning, you win the day!”  

Congratulations for making it to the 6th Pillar of Brain Health!  Your brain is an amazing supercomputer, and my goal of sharing this 6-part series with you is to inspire you to think differently, challenge you to question the origin of your thoughts, encourage you to replace a habit that is no longer serving you, and to open up your mind to the endless possibilities this life has to offer right now if you simply allow your mind to accept the invitation.

Subconscious Mind

Did you know your subconscious mind controls nearly 90% of your thoughts?  I recently attended a mind-challenging Breakthrough Belief Training with master NLP practitioner Roger Webb  and this point stuck in my head:  Your subconscious mind is a genie who says, “Your wish is my command” to every thought we feed it.  Translation:  Be mindful of your thoughts, because your subconscious mind will happily and automatically capture them and respond with “Your wish is my command!”.  Make your thoughts work for you, not against you!  #yes #youcan.

If you are joining Stand In Love for the first time, welcome!  We are SO glad you joined the community!  Over the past 5 weeks we have been exploring the Cleveland Clinic’s 6 Pillars of Brain Health learning tools to support our 3 pound universe.  While today is the final post in this particular series, I challenge you to go back and commit to considering a tiny behavior change in any one of the pillars!

Risk Factors

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a variety of medical conditions are strongly linked to the decline of brain function.   Below is an overview of the 7 Risks to be managed for increased vitality and overall  health and wellness:

( For my essential oil tips, please note: The official FDA disclaimer states: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.” )

Hypertension

• Cut down on salt (less than one teaspoon a day).
• Check your blood pressure regularly.
• Keep active.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Take your medication.
• Aim to keep blood pressure under 120/80 mmHg.

  • Stand In Love tip:  Try using essential oils like Ylang Ylang to help reduce the affects of daily stress and provide antioxidant support. * Massage a few drops onto the back of your neck or rub directly over the heart.  Bonus: this intense and incredibly complicated oil is part of a co-impact sourcing initiative helping create capacity for farmers and distillers in Madagascar! My husband enjoys this oil daily!

Diabetes/Obesity

• Avoid white sugar, white flour and hydrogenated fat.
• Eat more fiber.
• Eat some protein with every meal.
• Control portion size.
• Exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week.
• Include aerobic, strength, flexibility and balance

  • Stand In Love tip: Try Slim & Sassy- the Metabolic Blend to help you manage hunger cravings, promote healthy digestion, and calm your stomach.*  I like to place a few drops in water daily to help manage undesirable cravings.  (I am an emotional eater, so this is SUPER helpful for me, and I think you will find the same to be true if you or someone you know struggles with this.) More on this topic in future posts, I can’t wait!

High Cholesterol

• Take cholesterol lowering medications when prescribed.
• Control other risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity as advised by your doctor.

  • Stand In Love tip:  Consider supplementing to get the proper nutrition, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and antioxidant support commonly missing in the standard diet–even one that is based primarily on whole foods.   My husband and I have been using the Life Long Vitality program for over a month now and are enjoying the multitude of health benefits including increased energy, and an overall sense of wellbeing.   Truly amazing how supporting your body from the inside-out effects everything you do!

Head Injury

• Protect yourself from falls.
• Prevent injury from vehicle crashes by wearing your seat belt.
• Wear a helmet when biking or playing sports.

  • Stand In Love tip: Roll on some In Tune- Focus Blend before a hobby or activity that may have inherent risk.  The mix of Amyris, Patchouli, Frankincense, Lime, Ylang Ylang, Hawaiian Sandalwood, and Roman Chamomile help sustain a sense of focus, and supports those who have difficulty paying attention and staying on task.  (confession: This is me 150%- I should really consider showering in In Tune- ha!)

Depression

• Stay socially connected.
• Seek medical treatment.

  • Stand In Love tip:  Try one of the Emotional Aromatherapy oils. I absolutely ADORE these oils as they contain proprietary blends that target emotional health benefits.  Safe for the entire family and daily applications.  The best part of these oils is that they help balance and brighten your mood and help you change your state of mind.  Available in a convenient roll-ons diluted with fractionated coconut oil for easy on the go application, or in pure essential oil 5ml bottles.  I like to wear Peace- the Reassuring Blend daily as perfume.  Once you try these oils, you will have a hard time returning to perfumes or artificial scents.  They are truly gifts of nature for our enjoyment! The collection contains Cheer, Motivate, Peace, Console, Forgive, and Passion: They are expertly combined blends to support specific emotional needs. (Did I stress how much I LOVE these oils?).

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Smoking

• Quit.
• Cut down with a goal of quitting.
• Seek medical treatment or group support.

  • Stand In Love tip:  try a drop of Black Pepper essential oil under your tongue daily.  Not only can this oil be used in cooking applications, it contains important antioxidants, helps maintain healthy circulation, and soothes anxious feelings when diffused or inhaled directly. *
    *The official FDA disclaimer states: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.”

Neuroplasticity Defined

Did you know that your brain actually changes when you learn something new or try something different?  Watch this super short 11 second video below to see for yourself!  This is neuroplasticity in action! How cool is that?  Simply changing a habit or finding a new way of thinking actually creates new neural pathways in your brain and is GOOD for you! Please allow me to repeat this:  Switching the way you think, the way you work, the way you eat, the habits you have allowed – can all be changed, AND are good for your brain!  Behavior change is a SKILL and you can acquire it!  Want to know your brain health, take this quiz to find out!

 

Thanks for joining the conversation Stand In Lovers!  It’s so great having this community available for all to connect around the world!   #standinlove #share #love #together

 

Jennifer Miller is a Las Vegas based writer, doTERRA wellness advocate, and business coach for global NGO BeadforLife.  Her passions include: serving people, inspiring ideas, and helping others live their purpose.  For more inspiration on beginning your essential oil journey, click here

Pillar 3: Food & Nutrition

Hello Stand In Lovers!

How was your week of Mental Fitness?  Anyone try Linda’s Tiny Habit suggestions from last week’s post? SO many nuggets of goodness in that video interview!  Today we are diving into the topic of  Food & Nutrition, the 3rd pillar in our 6-part series on Brain Health.

It’s important to remember there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to how and what we should or should not eat.   What we do know is that by integrating plant-based, whole foods into our daily routines, we are practicing Hippocrates’ sage advice, “Let food be thy medicine.”  

Primary Nutrition

According to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, it is vital to look at the full spectrum of our lives, outlined in the color wheel below.   Take a look at each area and see where you may be hungry for something deeper than you are currently experiencing.

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How to make your Circle of Life

Place a dot on the line separating each section on the wheel to see how satisfied you are with each area of your life.  The closer the dot is to the center of the wheel, the more dissatisfied you may be in that particular area.  Dots closer to the outside circumference of the wheel suggest you are more satisfied in that category.  After you have placed a dot on each of the lines dividing the areas, connect your dots and see what your Circle of Life looks like.  Perhaps a couple of areas are super awesome, while others may need a little TLC.  That’s perfectly ok… our lives are in constant change, and there is no right or wrong here, just insight.

Nutrition for Brain Health

Along with the Primary Food listed above, let’s take a look at some key foods noted for their support in brain health and function.

What To Eat

  • Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach–  Try this green smoothie recipe with a touch of Wild Orange essential oil!  It’s fast, healthy, and SO delicious!
  • Dark-fleshed fruits like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are loaded with polyphenols– antioxidants that help fight free radicals.
  • Sustainably sourced fresh fish rich in Omega 3’s like salmon, tuna, or halibut.
  • Walnuts, flaxseeds, and soybean are great alternatives for Omega 3 fatty acids if fish isn’t your thing.  Another great option is supplementing to ensure you get the required amounts.  Here’s a fantastic Raw Coco Bite recipe with walnuts and Wild Orange.
  • Whole grains such such as oats, barley, and quinoa, are rich in many of the B vitamins that work to reduce inflammation of the brain.
  • Avocado– try this amazing Lazy Avocado Sushi with Ginger recipe or replace your butter with avocado on your morning toast for something new! (mental fitness practice at the same time- way to go!)
  • Dark chocolate– a great source of antioxidants that potentially improve blood flow to the brain and reduce inflammation.  I like to mix a drop of Black Pepper essential oil when making my own for some spicy punch and extra benefits!

Spice Up Your life

  • Herbs and spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger are packed with antioxidants that may help decrease harmful inflammation in the brain and elsewhere.  I like using a touch of Ginger essential oil in my herbal tea, and add Cinnamon essential oil to my homemade granola recipe.  There are endless ways to incorporate the benefits of doTERRA’s gorgeous CPTG (Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade) essential oils into your foods for brain health.  Here are additional  recipe ideas using essential oils!

Hydrate

  • Water-  This is one of the simplest ways to keep your brain healthy and fluid. Need help drinking more, it’s simple! Try adding a drop of Lemon, Grapefruit, or Wild Orange essential oil to your next bottle (stainless steel or glass due to the volatility of the natural aromatic compounds).   I love using Slim & Sassy in my water to help fight off cravings throughout the day.

Tools are designed for use.  May these help guide you on your brain health and wellness journey!  Stand In Love is a community, and all are welcome to join!  Please feel free to share, comment, tag, or like this post, so we may help others on their path to wellness!

P.S.  For those of you following me on Instagram @standinlovejen,  as promised, here is my favorite breakfast bowl recipe:

Jen’s Breakfast Bowl:

  • 1 cup steamed broccoli
  • 1 whole egg + 1-2 egg whites scrambled with turmeric
  • top with grated purple cabbage and sliced tomato
  • drizzle fresh vinaigrette made with herbs and a drop of your favorite essential oil on top!

season with S & P. and ENJOY!

Jen's Breakfast Bowl.JPG

 

Jennifer Miller is a Las Vegas based writer, DoTERRA wellness advocate, and BeadforLife Community Partner.  She is the founder of StandInLove.org  ,a platform for sharing her passions: Serving People | Inspiring Ideas | Living Your Purpose
Do you desire more freedom, flexibility, and want to empower others? Join me today! 

 

 

3 Tips for Whole-Hearted Living

“The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.” – Julia Cameron

Hello friends of StandinLove!  If this is your first visit to the blog, I would like to welcome you!  So glad you popped in!
This is a creative place where people from around the world gather in connection.  It is about People | Ideas | Purpose.    StandinLove represents  3 words and 1 purpose.  The S from Stand is for Serving People.  The I from in is for Inspiring and Inviting Ideas.  The L from Love is Living your Purpose.    How do we SIL?  Connection, Engagement, and Encouragement.   On that note, I am beyond grateful for the group success of this weekend’s Share the Love connection event!

The purpose?  Invite friends new and old into the BeadforLife circle to share our hearts over good old-fashioned cups of hot Ugandan black tea.  The ambience was just right.  The rains descended from a cloudy desert sky, providing a much-needed shower to the dry and dusty landscape.  We filled our cups, and together, imagined we sat alongside the makers of the beautifully rolled recycled paper jewelry that brought us all together Saturday afternoon.   What I appreciated most about this particular small-group gathering is the realization that the women came together not just for the BeadforLife jewelry, but to connect with one another out of a deep desire to be a part of something larger than themselves.  It was beautiful to behold.  We collectively raised over $900 for BeadforLife, which will send 3.28 deeply impoverished women to the Street Business School– a 6 month entrepreneurial training program taught in mobile classroom environments in Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, and Kenya!

Sharing thoughts and viewpoints on subjects we currently enjoy, we practiced something friendship expert and author Shasta Nelson refers to as frientimacy.  I offered a few insights from inspiring writers who have influenced my passion for living each day with whole-hearted intention.

What does it mean to live with your whole heart? Let’s discover 3 simple ways we can start connecting with our whole hearts today, in honor of February 13th: Self-Love Day!

Live Passionately.

What makes your heart sing?  What makes it difficult to go to bed at night and makes you jump out of bed first thing in the morning?  Enjoying a favorite variety of coffee?  Spending time with friends and loved ones?   Refurbishing a well-loved piece of furniture? Organizing your ideas for a new business venture?  Checking a life goal off the bucket list?  Creating visions for future opportunities? Overcoming life challenges with bravery and courage? Learning something new? Influencing others with your creativity?

To live passionately is to live life creatively:  To unlock, unblock, and unleash your creative genius.    Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way has been a staple in learning environments around the world.  One of her many tips to rediscovering passion and creativity in your life is enjoying what she refers to as an Artist’s Date.  This solo rendezvous is designed to replenish your creativity bucket as well as connect you to the things you appreciate most in life.  A walk in the park admiring nature, a trip to your favorite shop, or maybe a drive to a remote location to experience peace and tranquility.  Cameron recommends choosing activities involving all the senses to maximize the creative potential.  Intentionally focusing on what you smell, hear, touch, see, and taste feels incredibly invigorating!

Love Compassionately.

Best-selling author Richard Bolles discusses more than just career transitions in            What Color is Your Parachute.   Whether you are embarking on a new career, entering retirement, or in the middle of a life transition, he takes you on a journey of self discovery, helping you identify your unique talents and gifts with the goal of sharing them with people at home, in the workplace, and in the world.   After completing the detailed, self-reflective  7-petal exercise he concludes with this thought-provoking observation, ” The more you ponder the mystery of you, the more you must ponder the mystery of all those you encounter; every loved one, every friend, every acquaintance, every stranger.” 

Incredibly profound if you stop to consider the implications.  The more we come to understand ourselves at our core, the better we will come to understand and appreciate others.   Why? Because if we truly honor and explore our unique preferences and creative talents, we will then create the opportunity to love others more deeply recognizing their specific talents and gifts.   This understanding of ourselves and others leads to increased compassion and allows our hearts to be full.   There is a reason this book has been a best-seller for over 45 years!

Give Generously.

In Rising Strong,  renowned author and shame researcher Brené Brown explores the concept of giving generous assumptions.  She looks at giving in terms of intangibles like forgiveness, empathy, and giving someone the benefit of the doubt.   The theory presumes  people are giving their very best at any given moment.  She says when we give someone the most generous assumption possible, we invite opportunities to connect on a deeper level.   I believe this plays a fundamental role in whole-hearted living, as it creates space for people to be human.  It grants permission to make mistakes.  It allows grace a seat at the table.  Giving generous assumptions about others helps quiet our own nagging, critical voice telling us to be perfect and releases others from expectations we have placed upon them.

When dealing with relational conflict she says, “What is the hypothesis of generosity? What is the most generous assumption you can make about this person’s intentions or what this person said?”

This notion of giving generous assumptions requires a little strength and a lot of courage.  It means we first have accept ourselves, so we understand how to practice with others.   It is difficult to give from a place of lack. When we give generous assumptions to ourselves, we silence the inner voice, we learn to trust ourselves, and we make room in our hearts.  Making room in your heart is a key component of whole-hearted living.  Creating space to love others.

Please share your thoughts in the comments on any of the reading selections, as well offer books you love that explore living and leading with your whole heart.  We all learn from each other in this beautiful circle of exchange!

Have a terrific week, and I look forward to connecting with you all again soon!

StandinLove,  Jennifer

PS.  BeadforLife is 50% off through the month of February.. if you have an idea or an event at which you would like to share BeadforLife, please let me know, and I’ll be happy to support you! 

 

 

 

 

Farewell Fare-thee-well

It is a gorgeous morning, clouds full of pre-purge precipitation in the desert sky as fresh fallen snow tops the higher reaches of the Red Rock mountain range standing mightily in the distance.  As we  prepare our hearts and minds to say goodbye to 2016, let us be encouraged by the joy that is found in farewells.

While enjoying my routine, mind-clearing, morning jog I was filled with excitement about the close of another year.  Today is like the joy of reading the final page of a book you’ve struggled so hard to finish.  Some chapters harder to read than others, but you pushed on, and made it to the end.  Well done.  With the next fresh book patiently beckoning, you muscle through anticipating that wonderful sense of accomplishment .

I am inspired to share with you a few things to consider as you cross the threshold into the new space that is 2017.  I believe these may soothe sore spots in your life, and provide an opportunity to create space for abundance.

Reflection

In an article entitled “Clear Your Clutter” featured on Martha Stewart.com, the author gives wise advice about making room in your life to receive what you desire.  She says “that space is a reflection of what’s inside”.  So simple and profound as we take a look around us at all of the spaces we inhabit.  Beginning with our bodies, what do our physical bodies say about what’s inside of us?  Move out gently to our immediate surroundings, and notice the spaces you frequent most often.  What do those spaces say about how you are feeling and what you are experiencing in life.  Do they line up with how you want to feel?  We can take a look at our work spaces, our relational spaces, even our mental spaces.  What is taking up space, using our energy, and do these things help us or hurt us?  Can you pause long enough to simply think about an area in your life that you would like to improve?  Do you long to make more time to read books you love?  Are you curious about making a special meal that requires an organized kitchen pantry?  Have you ever considered writing that book or taking that photography class, or maybe signing up for a session of Reiki you’ve always wanted to try?  What’s in the way preventing these thoughts from becoming realities?

According to the article referenced above, ask yourself the following question:  ” If eliminating things from my life would make space for something new, more important, what would I want? ”   This is a great starting point, because without a vision of what you would like to do or see in your life, you will likely remain stuck in the clutter.  We must decide that our stay in the land of in-between is up.

Decision Making

Best-selling author Tony Robbins opens his  500 page book  Awakening the Giant Within with a reminder of the power of decision-making.  Strength born from taking action.  Indecision is paralyzing, and when you become empowered by making small decisions more frequently, you set yourself up for confronting bigger decisions.  Most of the things we truly want in life are available to us, we just have to decide we want them.   Decide we will take action by implementing a plan that will guide us along the way.

Decide what you would like to get rid of in your life in order to make space for the things you deeply desire.   Do you need to get rid of self-imposed expectations weighing you down?  Maybe now is the time to purge yourself of hopelessness, bitterness, and powerlessness.   Decide and do it.   It is your choice.    Is this the time to donate your unloved material possessions to a favorite charity you have always wanted to support?  Decide to let go of those items.  Ask yourself, “Do I love them? Do I need them?” If the answer is not a resounding YES!, give them up.  You are practicing decision-making, and you are blessing someone in greater need who will benefit from your release.

Clearing Space

Tina Turner once said, “Sometimes you have to let everything go …purge yourself.  If you are unhappy with anything, whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. You will find that when you are free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”

Purging, de-cluttering, sorting, organizing, are forms of therapy.  Give yourself the gift of making space for the things you would like to attract and enjoy in your life.  In order to invite those things into your life, you must make room for them.   How do you want to feel in these new spaces?  Inspired? Productive? Intimate?  Creative? If the space is full of things that contradict its intention, take action:   Reflect, Decide, and Remove it!

C. S. Lewis leaves us with these wonderful words to consider on this final day of 2016:

” There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind. “

Stand in Love,  Jen xxx

To Those Who Grieve

 

“Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.      – C. S. Lewis

Whether it was Brene Brown’s well-researched discourse in her latest book Rising Strong, Mikki Wade’s thought-provoking insights during a recent Transformation Cafe podcast, or the courageous and contemplative journey of the Petit Prince, St. Exupery’s imaginary protagonist in the novel of the same title,  the subject of grief and how to navigate its winding path have been the source of incessant mental chatter over the past several days.

What do these three seemingly unconnected conversations share, and why do I feel compelled to share them with you? 

After contemplating the subject for hours on long early morning desert hikes,  I have come to the realization and appreciation that we all experience grief in one form or another, and with that comes the tendency to avoid it and the discomfort it brings.   Tony Robbins writes in  Awakening the Giant,  “people will go to further lengths to avoid pain in their life than to have pleasure”, pointing out our natural preference to avoid, deny, and bury grief right alongside the other uncomfortable emotions we would rather not feel.   I would like for us to peel the cover off grief, expose it, get used to it, and let it cultivate room for deeper love.  We can do this together.   You are not alone in your grief.

Exposing Grief

The holidays are breeding grounds for grief encounters, and according to Grief Recovery Method expert Mikki Wade, grief is a normal reaction to loss. Grief is experienced when loved ones move away, kids grow up, companions pass, and youth disappears taking health, vitality, and ambition with it. Grief is the loss of a career, an opportunity, or strength in deteriorating muscles. Grief resides in the ends of  relationships and is reborn in new ones.  We may grieve a new home, a new school, even a new leader.   Grief dwells in old memories, experiences shared with friends, even in thoughts we project in the future.  We grieve intangible things like poverty, world hunger, social injustice, as well as the rich feelings once entertained about love during our adolescence.  Grief’s messiness leads to its avoidance, yet its familiarity functions as a bridge connecting us through a shared sense of humanity.

We have permission to grieve and the process of grieving is completely normal and natural.  What a relief to know we can grieve, and that it is a process.   We can give ourselves the gift of grieving.  In other words, we don’t have to condemn ourselves for feeling grief.  Grief is not a common cold quickly remedied with a cup of chicken noodle soup and a couple of days in bed.  It is a process.

Last night while watching an episode of The Crown, a young Queen Elizabeth sat opposite  Edward VIII,  her uncle who abdicated the throne the same year of his coronation forcing Elizabeth’s father, George VI, into succession of the throne.  The scene takes place after King George VI’s untimely death making Elizabeth, the heir-apparent,  Queen of England at age 27.  When she asked him for an apology, he replied, “for what?”  Elizabeth courageously replies,  “for taking away any sense of normalcy in my life and for removing from me the ability to be a countryside mother and wife.” The young Queen Elizabeth grieved not only the loss of her father, but also the inevitable loss of a privacy now faced with royal responsibilities.

 

Getting Acquainted With Grief

A dear friend and mentor, Amy Lynn Frost, MBA and MA Spiritual Psychology, published a series of articles on what she refers to as  The Shadow Self.   She encourages us to invite our shadow-selves, described as “the storehouse of our physical and emotional losses, repressed dreams and intense experiences of all kinds” to dance with us.  By inviting these dark, secret, unpleasant, and difficult sides of ourselves to dance, we acknowledge them as partners which help make us a whole human being.

“People who genuinely love themselves have fear and dislike parts of themselves too. They have become self-loving because they have the courage to become acquainted with their shadow-self. After you work with the shadow and integrate it into your “whole self” you realize it’s not bad or evil, it’s just a part of you needing a voice.  The shadow has valuable lessons for us.  We must take the time to listen. ” – Amy Frost

Could simply identifying our own grief help us live more fully?  What if instead of burying the dark, hurting parts of ourselves, we joined hands with them and brought them into the light?  What if by waltzing with our grief, we were able to discover that which we long for?

“Longing is a vital and important part of grief, yet many of us feel we need to keep our longings to ourselves for fear we will be misunderstood, perceived as engaging in magical or unrealistic thinking, or lacking in fortitude and resilience.”- Brene Brown

Loving is Grieving

It is common for me to grieve time spent abroad longing for deep cultural connections with strangers, the chance to converse in foreign languages, and the rich shifts in perspective that occur upon returning.  I decided to satisfy this grieving by re-reading Le Petit Prince in French, dictionary by my side.   We traveled vicariously together from planet to planet in search of answers to life’s toughest questions.  He discovered he grieved his precious rose all along.  His grief caused an internal awakening, rendering him grateful for his love for her.  To love is to grieve, and to grieve is to love.

It was Queen Elizabeth II who said, “Grief is the price we pay for love”.

Thank you Mikki Wade, Brene Brown, and Amy Frost for your courage to explore this subject and share your research with us so we don’t feel alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chick-Fil-A-Eight

Lafayette welcomed the “Chick-Fil-A Eight” as they have been nicknamed, two days ago from Dayton, Ohio.

A franchise owner of two Dayton suburban locations took Chick- Fil-A’s official corporate mission statement to an entirely new level.

“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us.  To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-Fil-A.”

As her Miamisberg location, the nations top performing location in 2015, undergoes expansion renovation, her employees were given the opportunity to earn their normal wages while serving flood diaster victims here in Lafayette.

A team of 8 workers, including Dayton training director Samantha drove 14 hours Wednesday to serve while their shop’s reopening date was pushed back.  Ranging in age from 18-23 years old, the team of 8 joined leader Bob for the most difficult job assignment in this area to date.

The homeowner is a recently widowed man living with his pregnant daughter and son as well as his granddaughter age 3.  Next  to his home is his machine shop where he makes his living.  This property is still under water and the devastation has compounded leaving homeowner utterly hopeless.

Enter Samaritan’s  Purse team of 17, including the “Chick-Fil-A Eight”. 


Amidst the debris, festering mold spores, and dampened memories rested an American flag, soaked in standing flood water.

Dylan, a recently injured U.S. Marine now working full time for the Chick- Fil-A franchise outside of Dayton, respectfully folded the flag with  coworker Brittin and  presented it to the broken-hearted homeowner’s son, Trey, in a solemn moment at the end of the day.


Not only had Trey recently lost his mother, now his home and life as he knew it had been washed away in the flood.

The team will return to the site again today to continue the work as well as bring light, hope, and the message of the Gospel to this family hurting from life’s tumultuous storms.

This morning’s group devotional called us to ponder the reason for our volunteerism.  To consider the states of our hearts. Are we here for our own plans, or are we woven  into the tapestry of Lafayette for a purpose much larger than our current understanding?

The longer I stay here, the clearer that bigger purpose has become. It is in these moments of deep connection with humanity that we contemplate our true, meaningful existence on Earth.  These times of trials are Faith’s most glorious chance for refinement and reinvigoration.

I have fallen in love with the people of Louisiana, and Lafayette in particular is making what will soon become an indelible mark on my heart.


These are the moments I live for and I am on my knees in humble gratitude for God stirring my heart to come.

He always knows just what we need, right when we need it.

 

“For I know the plans I have for You declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ” – Jermiah 29:11

 

May the floods in your life remind you of what needed to be washed away, so that new beginnings may take root.

Share your thoughts in the comments if Louisiana has touched you in any way.  We learn from each other and take comfort knowing we are not alone in this life.

Stand in love, ❤️

Jen

@standinlovejen

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Jennifer DeBough Miller

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Love Survives Louisiana Floodwaters 

Love Gathers.

Each morning, the diverse group of volunteers working for Samaritan’s Purse, dressed in matching bright orange t- shirts,  along with the local congregation of Crossroad’s Church here in Lafayette, Lousiana gather for a time of meaningful reflection before heading out to a worksite.

It’s a time of welcoming newcomers, and enjoying a satisfying meal lovingly prepared by the volunteer kitchen staff on site.  I’ve met folks from all over the United States and while their geographical locations vary, their mission remains the same:  To show Christ’s love to those who are hurting and in need of community during times of distress.

Samaritan’s Purse operates in conjunction with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, a rapid response prayer team offering chaplain services to disaster areas where crisis management responders are needed.

Yesterday a combined team of 12 volunteers and two leaders, Lenny and Bob, headed a massive clean up project on Demanade Street, an area where standing flood waters still remain.   We arrived to the flooded street at 8:30am, assessed our work assignments for the day and began unloading the U-haul stocked full of the necessary supplies.

This was the scene when we arrived:

Burt and Erline’s front yard at the time of arrival

I was struck in particular by the soaked memories of this couple in their late 70’s and early 80’s.

Water logged photo albums floated in the home’s 4 feet of water.

Their single story home was inundated with 4 feet of flood water while they were spending the weekend near Lake Arthur about 50 miles west of Lafayette.

Albert, “Burt” as he prefers to be called, and his beautiful wife of 59 years, Erline returned home to find what Erline referred to as a mixing bowl of meatball ingredients swirling around inside her home.

After hours of cleanup inside the property, I was able to steal a few moments with the couple in their garage where they were salvaging photographs in albums soaked to the core.  The colors of the printed film swirled together like fresh tie dye.

Love Recalls.

We met in 1956“, recalled Burt when asked how he and his bride first met.

I was older than she was, and I remember the first time I laid eyes on her.  She had the best butt I had ever seen, and then I saw the face to match the body and I was well pleased!” 

Coming from a man in his eighties, I found this quite humorous, and appreciating his candid storytelling, let him share the love story of his life.

As Burt retrieved more warped photo albums tossed in the back of his pickup truck, Erline and I reminisced about her high school days and the beginnings of her infatuation with her dreamy husband who she claims, “was not just cute, but movie-star cute!”

I wasn’t allowed to go to dances, being a country girl and all…” Erline shared in a beautiful southern Louisiana drawl, “so I used my sewing skills to make up some of the prettiest skirts.  I remember the exact form fitting, white pencil skirt I wore that day that Burt noticed me.  It wasn’t polite for girls to accept invitations to go out on the first or second ask…. so I patiently waited for the third time, hoping he wouldn’t give up on me. ” 

As the Samaritan’s Purse volunteers removed drenched sheets of mold-infested drywall from the home, Burt removed saturated photographic memories of trips they had taken in the mountains in Colorado many years prior.  He loves photography.  She loves nature and animals.  Their love for one another in that moment was a testimony to the bond and strength of their relationship in light of the destruction surrounding them.

Love Endures.

I wanted to capture their essence and decided we would take photos under a big Oak Tree in the corner of their front yard.  To the immediate left stood heaps of crumbled drywall,  reams of moldy insulation, damaged furniture, swollen library books, bundles of soaked clothing, along with piles of soiled personal effects collected during their 59 years together.  But there, leaning on that thick tree trunk they were reminded of their roots, and felt the strength of their firm foundation rising up.  This tree stood majestically , symbolically, calling them to rejoice in their personal victory together.  The tears from the morning had turned to joyful laughter as they posed together rekindling the love they had for each other in their youth.

Burt, 80, with his wife Erline Daigle, 78.                                                                                  Photographed with permission

I thanked God for the opportunity to bear witness to this profound example of perseverance, and hope their story inspires everyone in the Lafayette community and in the world that there is hope on the other side of pain.

I recalled the words of encouragement shared in Wednesday night’s service at host church Crossroads,   “Pain leads to pursuit.  Pain leads to passion.  Pain leads to purpose.”

What is the pain in our life teaching us?  Is it a subtle reminder to go back to our roots, and take an introspective look at the things that really matter?

Faith, Hope, and Love.  And of these, Love is the strongest.

Going back today to finish  up and help restore a bit of their memories in the pages of the albums.

Stand in love, like Burt and Ernice.

Jen

 

When Disaster Strikes.

“Surrender means not giving in to another, but giving in to love.”- Deepak Chopra

A loved one lost.  Dreams withered away.  Hope faded.  The for-sure promotion suddenly  evaporated into thin air.

You notice the scale advanced a bit to the right despite eating what you believed to be a reasonably balanced diet.    You look in the mirror and notice that age and gravity have begun  to co-habitate in a couple of personal spaces.

What is your typical response when stressful situations arise?

Are you more likely to stay and look trouble in the eye, or is your preferred response to bolt?  …. Quickly escaping the situation and longing desperately to fall into the arms of comfort.

Routine checkups at the doctor tend to create a nerve-racking and humbling experience for me, especially when it involves the New Year weigh-in.  Anyone with me?   It’s important to know health is in order, but sometimes facing the reality that winter hibernation has caught up with you stings like frostbite.  You think to yourself, “Do I really have to give up my favorite habits?  I love those chocolate bars.   They do not serve me, but I don’t think I can give them up. “

While these examples represent varying degrees of stress, the choice of responses in challenging situations remains the same: We have a choice to bolt or to stay.

Bolting.

In Geneen Roth’s bestselling book Women, Food, and God, she shares examples of bolting which she defines as:

” Any engagement in mind-altering and body-numbing activities.  Shutting down and walking out the door when pain threatens to destroy me- which is any situation that involves another human being or whose outcome I can’t control. “

Paraphrasing key concepts, Geneen shares that our refusal to stay in the present moment robs us of the very things that can help sustain us.  

Examples of Bolting.

  • Walking out the door.
  • Distracting yourself from pain by doing things.
  • Thinking about something else.
  • Getting into a fight.
  • Comparing yourself to other people.
  • Dreaming about life in the future.
  • Recalling life in the past.
  • Never getting deeply involved.
  • Eating  and/or drinking.

Obsessions with eating she says, “gives you something to do, besides having your heart shattered by heart-shattering events.  Obsession is a way of organizing our lives so that we never have to deal with the hard part.  The part that happens between 2 years of age and dying. Obsessions are ways we leave, before we are left because we believe the pain of staying would kill us.”

Sometimes our thoughts provoke us to run away and hide.   This cleverly-masked escape (insert your escape of choice) feels like comfort and support, however the reality-if we are listening with our mind, body, and hearts-is that the escape actually uses us.  It is an imposter, providing us not only with false senses of satisfaction, but also feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse.  Hauntingly familiar, isn’t it?

We are faced daily with the choice to run away or to stay from difficult situations.  It’s important to remember that we have a choice.   We can check out, or we can stay and figure out solutions.  We can trust ourselves to make changes, and we can allow ourselves to feel our feelings instead of running from them.  We can pause and ask ourselves, what am I afraid of feeling?  What am I seeking in the escape to which I am running?  What do I think it will give to me? How will it make me feel?  

I welcome your insights.

StandinLove is a place of connection and community.  A place to learn from one another and to encourage each other on this lifelong journey in love.  It is in sharing honestly that we practice the art of imperfection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bulogo’s Banana Business Superstar

We pulled up the long rural driveway with Julius, our driver, coach Ritah- one of the compassionate and dedicated street business school trainers in Bulogo, and my BeadforLife colleague- coach Phoebe- to our final on-site business visit for the day in Bulogo village, about 45 minutes drive north of Kamuli town. What a wonderful surprise to end the long day of field interviews! Monica Mwesigwa was seated on a small wooden bench outside of her free standing outdoor brick kitchen with a thatched roof,  rolling out carefully prepared and mixed dough for her newly launched and thriving small business selling banana pancakes. These are not the traditional pancakes to which we are accustomed, light and fluffy golden colored cakes topped with melted butter and dripping with maple syrup, but rather a dense sort of croquette– a mixture of locally sourced and hand processed cassava flour, smashed bananas and a pinch of baking soda. Rolled out and cut into small circles with her multi purpose plastic cup and empty recycled glass bottle, she handed them to her daughter – 1 of 6 children ranging in age from 17 to 1 and 1/2 yrs- who was tending the indoor charcoal fire over which rest a pot of boiling hot oil to deep fry these sweet little snacks! As we talked with Monica, age 33, we could just sense her incredible entrepreneurial spirit! Waves of smoke escaped from the small outdoor kitchen, encircling our senses as we snapped photographs and filmed quick feature videos, highlighting her amazing success!

Bulogo Women’s Group.

Monica enrolled in November 2014 with the first class of Bulogo Women’s Group, consisting of 20 members.  Bulogo Women’s Group is one of the first partner organizations to replicate the business training curriculum and mentoring developed and introduced by BeadforLife’s Street Business School program- currently under expansion with the goal of  providing entrepreneurial training for 1 million women living in extreme poverty worldwide.  By December, only a couple short weeks after her first few business building training sessions, Monica had already launched her pancake selling business! She sold 1 chicken at the rate of 11,000 UGS (approx $3.25) to obtain the capital she needed to get her small business off the ground.  Monica shared with us that she used to eat chicken she raised until she learned in one of the trainings  she had the choice and opportunity to sell one instead- giving her financial means to save and invest for a business.

Sparked by these fundamental business lessons, one of which encourages women to “start  small” and understand the temporary nature of their present difficulties, Monica applied herself in earnest.   This takes wholehearted belief and trust, and Monica decided to embrace change and take that risk.  Investing the profits from her pancake business, Monica launched her second business – selling a homemade secret recipe banana juice. She sells these by the 400 or 500 ml cup in town. She shared with us that she earns about 2,500-3,000 UGS profit daily from her juice (approx .75-.80) as well as a profit of 3,000 UGS from her pancake business daily. She is now earning close to $2 a day and is continuing to expand. She has more than doubled her income and her graduation date is set for next month in Bulogo village! Like all entrepreneurs, Monica faces challenges. Currently, she told us she is challenged by lack of access to the specific variety of ripe bananas to meet her growing demand for the juice. Tending to her 6 children in addition to running her businesses proves challenging, but Monica is so passionate and driven we are unequivocally convinced she will have continued success!
I asked Monica what she is most proud of in her business and she replied,

” Now, I am able to afford things I couldn’t before- without the help of my husband- whom she called “boss” with a smile and laughed! …. ” if I would like a piece of meat, I can buy it… If I want to have my hair done or buy a special lotion for myself, I am able to do so and am not depending on my husband.”

As we left her bustling home workshop, we thanked her profusely for her time,  as well as her earnest efforts in English to help us film a short video of her tremendous accomplishments.  What a courageous and brave woman- so incredibly wise for her young 33 years.

I left home early July with a particular definition and understanding of the words  “courage” and “bravery”, and enjoy experiencing the evolution of this definition with each passing day shared with some of the most enterprising, and tenacious women I will have ever met in my life.  I am truly blessed for these encounters and for the lessons they have continued to teach me along this unimaginably profound journey.

xxx

rolling out Cassava flour, bananas, and baking soda to prepare her pancakes for sale.
rolling out Cassava flour, bananas, and baking soda to prepare her pancakes for sale.