Showing posts from 2018

What The Heck Is Celiac Disease?

Hello, my name is Laurel, and I found out today that I have celiac disease.

So ... what the heck is celiac?

"Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine" (Celiac Disease Foundation). Gluten is a protein in wheat, barley, and rye. Basically, my body sees gluten as a threat and creates antibodies against it, which ends up damaging my small intestine. Fun, eh?

So, how did I find out I am part of the 1% worldwide who have celiac?

Well, out of the huge range of symptoms associated with celiac disease, I experienced these:
- fatigue
- anxiety (read more about my anxiety issues here)
- headaches
- lactose intolerance
- missed menstrual periods
- abdominal pain
- abdominal bloating

After googling the heck out of my symptoms, I requested a celiac panel blood test at the doctor's office. The results showed that my celiac antibody levels were very elevated ... m…

Extreme Gratitude

The following clip is super funny, but it also got me thinking...what if we were all this grateful for the blessings in our lives (in a non-drug induced state, of course)! Think of how differently we might perceive our stresses and difficulties if we kept gratefulness at the forefront of our thoughts.

Why I Quit Lexapro & How I'm Coping Without It


I started taking Lexapro for my Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) more than 4 years ago. At the time, I was experiencing debilitating anxiety that left me feeling worthless and unable to cope with daily life.

Suffice it to say, I was in a very dark place emotionally and mentally. I thank God for my caring and understanding husband, Dave -- without his encouragement, I'm not sure I would have been brave enough to seek the help I needed. Because people, hear me when I say this: it is BRAVE to admit you need help, especially when it comes to your mental health. Dave sat next to me as I wept at the doctor's office, hardly able to answer their questions because I was so emotionally distraught. I started therapy and medication (the aforementioned Lexapro) and, little by little, began to feel more like myself.


First, a disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. If you are taking any medications, please consult with your doctor befor…

Super-Easy Bento-Style Lunches!

We tried something new! Dave and I are having fun creating Bento-style lunches! Here's a look at what I've been putting together for my dairy-free self:

Veggie straws, whole grain fruit bar, chicken salad (one rotisserie chicken cut up, one cucumber peeled and diced, cashews, sliced grapes, and vegan mayonnaise)
Crackers with peanut butter, veggie straws, peas, and dried pineapple slices
Baby carrots, trail mix, crackers, and salami
Cashews, chicken, lettuce, and dairy-free cheddar style cheese
Chicken patty, green beans, honeydew melon, and trail mix

Do you make Bento-style lunches? Share your favorites or ideas below!

Letting go of the shame of being overweight

This post is for my lady friends.

I was inspired by this TedTalk from Whitney Thore, who suffers from PCOS and has learned to embrace her size in a culture that shames women for being overweight.

As women, we face so much pressure, don't we? We have messages thrown at us all our lives that thin=pretty. And that if we're pretty, we'll be happy.

I have struggled with my weight over the years, and have gained a substantial amount of weight since starting four years ago on the medication that helps me manage my Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Even though losing weight isn't all that likely right now, I have managed to stabalize myself at about the same weight for a year now, which feels like a victory in itself!

If you look at the charts, I would fall under the category of "obese", not just "overweight". I would like to lose weight to take some pressure off of my joints and so forth, but my weight is not the end-all-be-all of who I am. I would like…

Shoeboxes for Boys Ages 2-4

We packed our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes early this year! We went shopping as a family today to pick up the final items. I'm looking forward to carrying this on as a tradition as our little boy grows. Our plan is to pack shoeboxes for boys "close" to our son's age, and at this point, that's the 2-4 year old category!

Here's what we picked and packed in each box for boys ages 2-4:

- beanie baby
- two toothbrushes
- bandaids
- toy car
- sticker book
- three plastic dinosaurs
- shirt (size XS 4/5)
- washcloth
- bandana
- 24 count pack of crayons
- sketch book

We're looking forward to getting these shoeboxes shipped out later this year, and we are praying that these simple gifts help show the love of Christ to the boys who receive them. Learn more about Operation Christmas child here.

Reverse Bucket List

I've made reverse bucket list: a compilation of some of the amazing things I've had the opportunity to experience! Making this list was a great exercise in gratitude, and maybe I'll keep adding to it as I remember more things down the road! What would you have on your list?1. Learned to make paper cranes.
2. Saw the Taj Mahal in person.
3. Observed a surgery in the Dominican Republic.
4. Got married.
5. Adopted a child.
6. Read all of Jane Austen's novels aloud with my sister.
7. Started a blog.
8. Played violin in the Grand Rapids Youth Symphony.
9. Acted in multiple plays.
10. Adopted a rescue animal.
11. Volunteered in the dementia ward at a nursing home.
12. Taught English and shared my faith in Poland when I was a teenager.
13. Trained for and kept up with everyone on a 4-day backpacking trip in Manistee Forest the summer before my senior year of high school.
14. Paid off my car and student loans.
15. Participated in writing a pilot sitcom episode with other coll…

My Little-Known Talents - Part 2!

I have some leftover "talents" that I acquired while in elementary school. Really it's just a bunch of memorization that stuck with me for decades! ;)
Do you have anything memorized from a long time ago that's still easy to recite to this day?

Reciting the alphabet backwards
Reciting the books of the Old Testament in one breath
Reciting the 50 states in alphabetical order

My Little-Known Talents - Part 1!

I have a small, random assortment of talents that just don't belong on a resume. And they're not things I generally show off to family and friends in person ... because let's face it ... that would be a little weird. Haha!

But I've decided to be brave and do a little blog series honoring these little-known talents that I possess. I'm starting off with a couple of odd things I can do with my fingers! Let me know if you can do either of these, or if you have any strange talents of your own you'd like to share.

Bending my thumb to my arm

Triple crossing my fingers

50 Things That Instantly Make My Day Better

Dairy-free chocolate (this is my fave)Weightlifting at the gymWorking out on an elliptical machineHearing my son laughSoft blanketsHearing people I love say "I love you"Reading a good novelSpending time with GodExploringGlow-in-the-dark stars and planetsShoweringBeing an encouragement to someoneSinging, especially in harmonyListening to Owl City musicWatching Ellie and JaredHugsWritingCatching up with an old friendMaking a new friendHaving a meaningful conversationThunderstormsBeing at the beachWalking, especially in the woodsVideo chatting with family/friendsJane Austen moviesEating a healthy breakfastSnuggles from our dogs, Molly and BellaWatching not-yet-trampled-on snow sparkling in the sunShoulder massage Date with my husbandSleeping in Going to bed on timeChecking things off my "to do" listThings with bright colors, polka dots, or sparkles (or all of the above!)Eating at my favorite restaurantLove's Ice Cream. The best.Dancing!Using Pilot G-2 PensAttendin…

Missing Creative Writing

Well, friends, my creative writing has fallen by the wayside for a couple of years with the busyness of the adoption process and welcoming our little guy home! It's been a joyful and busy and exhausting and exciting time. And I wouldn't trade it. Our son is an absolute treasure, and I'm finally living out my dream of being a mama.

But truthfully, I've missed expressing myself creatively through writing. Tonight, I was fondly remembering the fun and challenge it was to write a poem a day in April. I accomplished my goal two years in a row -- 2015 and 2016 -- right here on this blog. Not all of the poems are very pretty (okay, some are downright horrible!), but there are still a few gems in there that I'm pretty proud of. And it felt good to accomplish a creative goal that I set out to do.

With this in mind, I was inspired reading up on NaNoWriMo, and boy, what an incredible project that would be -- writing an entire novel in one month! But who am I kidding? I don…