Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 - "Not Even A Taste!"

Several months ago, a good friend of ours came over to visit with my husband and I.  During the conversation, he mentioned that he was doing some marketing for a man by the name of Ron Williams (who had been named "Body Builder of the Decade"). They were going to be doing a 6 week program specifically for business owners.  He asked if we would like to participate.  Jumping at the opportunity, my husband and I completed the 6 week course and then went on to participate in another 6 week course after that. We fell in love with Ron and his wife, Tonya, and we knew that we would all be working together in the future in some way.

Last night, when the clock struck midnight, my heart sank.  We had not reached our goal with our business and I had not reached my fitness goals when so many others had done so.  I felt like such a loser!!!  My heart ached as I tore down the sign that was taped to the back of the door that celebrated as if we had already accomplished our goal by Dec. 31st 2015.  I felt so guilty that if I had been able to help out more, over the past few months, and if I could have used more self-control and not lost sight of my goals, I could have made both my personal and business goals! In an effort to not fall into a cycle of depression, I tried to focus on the blessings and remember how amazing this  year has been...

1) I am alive.  At the beginning of 2015, I was barely able to make it to Mexico in a last attempt to save my life. Answers were found (documented on this blog).
2) I am still married after 15 years of some really tough trials that could have torn us apart.
3) We have 5 beautiful, healthy children.
4) We live in an incredible neighborhood with so many incredible people.
5) We have access to organic and non-gmo foods.
6) I work with incredible human beings and my clients are out of this world amazing!
7) We are in the top 3% of our company despite how I wished to be in the top .01%

I could go on and on and on....

Last night, after the strike of midnight, and after all kids had wandered sleepily up to their rooms, I pulled the comforter away from my pillows on my own bed, to find a very adorable little 5 year old there. When I lifted my sweet little daughter from her uncomfortable position, I found a gluten-free sugar cookie, incredibly preserved - that my daughter had smuggled upstairs, underneath her back.  I placed the cookie on a nearby bookcase and we all went to bed.  In the morning, the first thing I saw, was that beautifully preserved gluten-free sugar cookie.  We only buy them on special occasions (like New Years Eve) and they are so addictive to me that I have to use major self-control while at the store to not buy them. (They are the local Charlotte Bakery brand for those of you who know how incredible tempting they are.)

As I looked at the sugar cookie, the first thought that came to me was "I will NOT let a sugar cookie be the first thing I taste in 2016".  I then thought about my sweet daughter who had that cookie.  I thought of my other children.  I wanted so badly for them to make healthy food choices so they could have all of the physical, emotional and mental strength God desires them to have. I then thought of Ron Williams.  He told me once that he was offered a dessert from a friend and he declined the offer even when the friend pleaded for him to just take a little taste.  Ron Williams responded with "not even a taste".  He is one of the most decorated Natural Bodybuilders in the world. Ron achieved the highest honor ever given in Natural Bodybuilding by becoming the sole recipient of the “Natural Bodybuilder of the Decade” award. He has won over 250 titles in the Natural bodybuilding arena, including being a 7 time winner of each of these top bodybuilding titles — Mr. Natural Universe, Natural Olympia, and Mr. Natural World. It is incredible to make just 1 of these titles, but he has won all three 7 times!  He was inducted into the International Natural Bodybuilding Association’s Hall of Fame in 2008.  (Yes, and he is OUR coach.)

As I thought of Ron, the idea came to me to make it a goal to truly be a REAL FOOD's WARRIOR! "Not even a taste!"  What if I could go an entire year without even tasting an unhealthy treat once?  I smiled at the thought... What if I could actually do it?  Doubts began to swirl around my mind but then I thought, I will fight ONE DAY at a time.  I can do this!

I went downstairs and looked at the food choices in front of me.  What foods did my body need to heal and be strong? I ended up making a drink from a fresh pressed lemon, cayenne, raw honey and ecinacea to be the first thing I tasted in 2016.  Oh how I want to be healthy, and oh how I want my sweet children and husband to be healthy as well!  My children and I juiced some apples together.  It made me smile to see that sweet little 5 year old drinking more than her fair share. I wanted her to be as smart and talented as God wanted her to be.  I did not want to put destructive food  in the way of God's goals.

So, dear friends, my husband has joined me in this challenge.  I want to be a TRUE REAL FOODS WARRIOR! Will you join us?  If we are going to help our children make healthy choices then we must lead the way.  If we want them to bring healthy alternatives to parties, to school, while traveling etc. then we need to show them how by example.

Here's to an incredible 2016.  I know that my husband and I will meet our business goals.  We may have had some bumps in the road over the last few years, but I am so grateful that the journey has not been smooth and I am so grateful for all that we have learned.  Yet again, difficulties have refined me in a way that I can look back on 2015 and say "thank you".  When I started working out with Ron Williams (8 months after returning from Mexico) I was just starting to be able to drink water normally and I was unable to do a single push-up.  When Ron Williams saw my feeble attempt at a push-up he laughed and said "I've never seen that before".  6 weeks later I was able to do 50+ girls push-ups in a minute and 6 weeks after that I could do 26 guy push-ups and another 30 girls push-ups before needing to quit.

Bring on 2016.  Ron has reached out to us to continue mentoring. I am going to do this!

It doesn't matter how many times I've failed, it just matters that I get back up every single time to try again.  I will only lose if I quit. Here's to never, ever giving up. Giving up unhealthy food choices will have a ripple effect in other areas of my life.  As we learn to dance differently, others will follow.

In ending, I would like to end with a quote Ron starts and ends every conversation with...

"Praise the Lord."

Details coming soon...


With much love,

Steffi

Friday, December 25, 2015

2015 - The Year Our Family was Saved





My husband, Shane, and I. 
15 years of marriage.


       
The kiddos. 


Our five beautiful, healthy, children of God gifted to us to care for, teach, and love.

We believe...


THE FAMILY

A PROCLAMATION TO THE WORLD

WE, THE FIRST PRESIDENCY and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
IN THE PREMORTAL REALM, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
THE FIRST COMMANDMENT that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.
WE DECLARE the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan.
HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
THE FAMILY is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.
WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
___________________________________

We have FOUGHT to save our marriage.

When Shane and I received our family pictures back from the photographer, I stared, literally, for hours at the images.  It was a miracle.  Months prior, when I had booked the appointment with the photographer, I had planned on taking the pictures with me and my children alone.  I had fully planned on divorcing my husband.  I had secured employment, I had a lawyer, my extended family had been notified and my husband was no longer living with us.  

The problem...

We were permitting a toxic dance to occur in our life.  

In order to heal I had to separate from my husband for a time. 

The miracle and the change...

 I made the decision to dance differently with my partner.

My husband recognized the dance he was doing was hurting me.

God and incredible earth angels stepped in to teach correct 'dance' technique. 

My husband and I made the choice to dance differently with each other.

Angels seen and unseen continue to come to our rescue to teach, to mentor, to give encouragement and to show us the next step.

When I looked at the picture (shown above) of our family, I felt a very profound sense of gratitude towards our Savior.

Jesus, lover to my soul, I pray that I can ALWAYS be faithful to you.  

This Christmas, I pray that YOU will listen very carefully to the directions you are given from the Lord and from the angels that surround you. Every answer is different and only God knows your particular situation.


The above picture is one that Dr. James gave me when I was in Mexico.  The top picture says "Your Plans" and the bottom picture says "The Plans God has for YOU".  

God knows my goal was for my family to be together and He wanted that for me too, but He asked that I trust Him enough to "LEAVE".  I did eventually leave after so many failed attempts to do so.  

In the time my husband and I were apart, we learned to dance differently.

Stress affects our health and makes us vulnerable to illness!

Several years ago when I confided in my grandparents about the toxic dance I was in, their advise seemed so cold-hearted.  My grandfather's message was simply to "forgive". The next morning Grandfather approached me humbly with a sorrowful countenance and a bowed head.  He told me that he had been praying the night before and the words came powerfully to him that "It was hard to forgive a horse if it is STILL STANDING ON YOUR FOOT".  

Granddaddy asked for my forgiveness.

To those of you who are dancing with someone who keeps hurting you, I want to shout out to you to "GET THAT HORSE OFF OF YOUR FOOT" and PLEASE take a good look at yourself to make sure YOU are not that horse stepping on someone else's foot.  (I had a mentor ask me if I was the horse standing on my own foot - something we all need to ask ourselves).

I took an incredible risk. I stopped dancing, for a time, with my husband - not knowing if we could ever be a family again.

Prayers have been answered.

I am so grateful for the movie The War Room.  All of us, children included, have been praying to reclaim our family and to cast out  the devil from among us and we are choosing to dance differently.

It has taken time to adjust, but as a mother and as a father, we have the solemn responsibility to learn dance steps that compliment others, are easy to follow, do not cause injury and the best dance teacher in the world is the one who knows us perfectly - the Lord.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

May the Spirit of Christ penetrate your hearts and homes deeply. 

May we all keep our eyes focused on the Savior so that we will not perish.

We must always choose to face the pain...look into the Savior's eyes...have faith.. walk on water when He asks us to... and never lose faith in your Lord and Redeemer. 



We must all choose to take His outstretched hand - again and again.

With much love,


- Steffanie and Shane (who also read this post, contributed and gave his ok to post this very personal post in this forum.)

Friday, June 26, 2015

For the Children


A couple of years ago, a friend told me about what was happening to two of her sisters. Both sisters had tough things happen to them.  One decided to face the pain and work through it humbly with the help of the Lord.  The other sister was crushed by the disappointment and turned to destructive methods to cope and her children suffered.  This friend talked about how lost one of her nieces was at this crucial time in her life.  The girl had been taught all of her life to avoid certain things and now she was watching her mother destroy her life with those very things she was taught to avoid.  Children learn how to cope with heartache by looking at how their adult role models choose to cope. 

We all cope differently.

I try not to judge anyone.  I know what heartache can do to a good person. 

We all reach for something to ease the pain, numb it, take it away, or make it a little more bearable in different ways.

I am grateful for...

Good Friends. Divine Help. Essential Oils. Prayer and Scriptures. 

There is always the option of reaching for the alternative despite knowing the destruction and the dead end it would bring, however, it is important to be an example of facing hard things and then working through whatever it is with the help of something that will add to the healing vs. masking the symptoms and digging the problem deeper.

Due to my own experiences and seeing the positive experiences of others, I always thank God for the opportunity to teach anyone about more natural, safer and more effective ways of coping with pain (especially if that teaching will benefit children directly) using essential oils.

Despite my health issues, with God's help, I was invited to Israel to teach.  I thought that it was going to be the last class I ever taught.  

ISRAEL - The Miracle

While teaching in Florida, two of the women who had planned my trip, started talking about their upcoming service trip to Israel.  Surprisingly, they said "you should come with us".  Butterflies. The thought created incredible excitement in my heart, mind and gut! I was told the group officiators had been going over to Israel almost every year for the past 10+ years and they (the ministry) had been supporting a Children's Home there with monthly donations as well as yearly visits and special donations. They were going again and they were serious about my coming with them. I could hardly believe what I was hearing!  It all seemed so surreal.

Could I make it? Nobody knew of the internal battle I was fighting. In my heart I knew I needed to go despite the struggles.  Perhaps God would give me answers in Israel to the health issues I was facing. 

When I learned about those we would be serving, I reached out to my essential oil lovin' community to see if anyone would like to donate something to the 'Children's Orphanage'.  $4000 in donations later, I was crying happy tears.  I could not believe the outpouring of love and the generosity of so many. 

Here is a picture of me bubble wrapping the donations to be sent to Florida so that the individual in our group, who was an Israeli citizen, could take them through customs. 


My husband dropped me off at the airport...



When I got on the airplane that would head towards Tel Aviv, a flight attendant announced before
departing "if any of you would like to de-plane (run away while you can), now is your last opportunity."

My stomach tightened. My chest felt tight. What on earth was I doing?

I felt very real fear. 

When the airplane landed in Tel Aviv, I could feel my legs trembling.  There were many times, prior to leaving, that I had thought of canceling the trip, but the thing that kept me moving forward with the plans was when I thought of 'those children' - the children from the orphanage.  The children were from 3 separate countries who had been brought to the children's home for various reasons.  I thought of them and they gave me strength. I also felt that strong internal pull that comes from God.  I knew He wanted me to be there for whatever His reasons were. 

The group I was traveling with, although somewhat experienced with using essential oils, were still young with their knowledge of how to use them. I knew I needed to be there personally to help teach those caring for the children how to use the essential oils properly. 

I arrived in Israel an hour prior to the rest of my group.  The thing that surprised me most was the incredible feeling of peace that I felt once I stepped foot into this area of the airport in Israel.  Prior to that moment I had only felt that peace in special places of worship. 


An hour later, the rest of the group would greet me.  All of the essential oils had made it through customs. Hooray!!!

Graciously, these were the individuals who donated...

Andy and Natalie Goddard,
Jerry and Laura Jacobs,
Steve and Rachel Loth,
Josh and Jennifer Vaughan,
Dr. Michael and MJ Mutchler,
Mr and Mrs. Laura Shull,
Steve and Dawnette Nardini-Nelson,
Dr. West and Glenda Garrison
Leslea Bower-Miller
Healing Hands Foundation (who matched up to $500)

I felt so much love and gratitude for the above listed individuals when I met the children and when I taught the class.  A big thank you to each individual listed.   

The primary oils chosen were...

Lavender
Peppermint and  
A Protective Blend of essential oils.

 When we pulled up to the "Children's Home" (I was corrected every time I referred to it as an "orphanage"), I was concerned.  The area we ended up at seemed to be fitted too tightly with lonely buildings, and narrow streets. Everything seemed so dry and dusty.  Little by little I began to see Jewish people and children walking the streets happily.  I wondered where the 220 children were able to play.  Where was the grass and trees?

I was reminded to never judge by what I see on the outside.

  Once we walked into the Children's Home, I realized it was filled with incredible organization, cleanliness, peace, the place was incredibly beautiful and modern and there were many areas, (safe inside and outside the walls of the home) where the kids could run freely, play and be free.  

The children walked with confidence, they looked like they worked there vs. being someone who was a resident. The children radiated so much self-confidence and they were very happy and friendly.  Some even seemed a little conceited which surprised me but I was impressed by it. 

When we met with the Father of the Children's Home, he explained why it is his home is different and why it is not called an orphanage.  This is not a place where children are adopted out.  These children have been adopted IN and they are part of this enormous 200+ children family for life. 

Individuals come from all over the world to learn from this Children's Home organization and philosophy.

Here the father explains...



I fell in love with the children.  

Several of the girls migrated over to where they could be close to me.  One girl sat by me and then little by little one young girl placed herself closer and closer to where she was sitting on my lap.  I wasn't sure if this was ok or not and so I tried not to put my arms around her like I wanted to.  I just let her continue to sit on my lap.  She would look up to my face and smile. My heart about burst.  She would later take my hand in hers. I felt a strong desire to be one of her sponsors. Individuals do not adopt the children, but they send financial contributions each month so the children can reach their dreams. 

We painted picture frames with the children and then we all ate together.  The ministry I was with had purchased pizza and ice-cream for all of the kids.  Imagine the cost to feed 220 children?  Yes, it was over $3,000 that the ministry donated so that these children could have this fun memory.  It made me smile to watch how happy the kids were and to hear the laughter in the room.  

Here is my dear new friend from the Children's Home...


Isn't she beautiful?  My eyes well up with tears as I look at her.  If you would like to sponsor a child, or find out more about this organization, please go to www.elazraki.org.il.

As you learned from the video, the children do well in school, they have personal tutors, they have group youth and children leaders, they all have their own little 'houses' or areas where they live, each of the children have responsibilities, and they are the ones who raise their hands to answer questions when asked by their teachers at school, and they get the best grades. 

There was a need to have a medical room built so that the children would not have to go to school (no matter what) when they are sick due to not having a medical note from a Dr.  

Once we were all back home, the For Zion's Sake Ministry told their members of the need and they were able to raise an additional $5,000.00 for the Children's Home so that the medical room could be built, and the in-house medical professional could give the mandatory medical note so that the child would be able to stay home to rest and recover. 

I cannot wait to go back to Israel to see the completed room and to see the essential oils lining the shelves along with all of the other typical medical room supplies. 

Father Yehudi Kohn is like no other person I have ever met.  He seems as if he walks and talks with God.  How could he possibly care for so many children in such a miraculous way without the Heavenly guidance and communication?  He does give God the credit for all he is able to do for the children.  He said that he prays daily and receives answers as to what to do in a particular situation.

Beautiful example.  

When we arrived at the Children's Home, I was told not to expect a handshake.  For some Jewish men, that particular greeting is only reserved for women who are family.  I had learned this days earlier when a man shook his head and looked embarrassed when I offered to shake his hand.  I was really confused at the time and asked why two others had shook my hand but then this man couldn't.  I was told "he is religious".  Apparently the Father of the home was also the type of Jewish man who only shook hands with women who are family members. 

At the end of the day, when we were leaving - after the class was taught and the donations were made, and we were saying our goodbyes, surprisingly Father Yehuda took both of my hands in his and said "NOW, YOU ARE FAMILY".  I fought to hold back the tears.  He went on to explain how grateful he was for our service.  

Before leaving we were given a tour of their home.

The house was filled with so many books...


When I saw the fish aquariums, it reminded me of the built-in wall aquarium that was at my friends home from back home - they had 12 children.  I had a lot of respect for that family of 12 + 2 foster children + the 2 parents. Now with seeing how well run a home can be with 220 children, I was in complete awe...

I had a lot to work on once I returned home. Here is their lobby area with the fish aquariums...


A place to dream and laugh...



I loved seeing the young girls laughing together on the swing when they were gifted home-made dolls from one of the members of our group. 


Absolutely amazing how all the kids are required to make their beds each morning, put their clothes away and their toys away after they play. 


Donations made this possible...


and this...


 and this...


and this.


Boys sleep on one end of the building, and the girls the other end...


There was a music room... 


 A place to study... 


This is where the essential oils class was held in Be'er Sheva, Israel.  I sat next to my friend who helped and translated parts of the class in Hebrew as I taught it.  


This is where the food is prepared.  Thanks to generous donations from others the kitchen is now more modern...


This is where we had the pizza party... 

  
Ice cream was also served... (non-dairy due to Jewish religion)


This is where the tutors come to work with the children...




The bathrooms were incredibly clean... 


Each child's needs were being met.  (One girl was going to be going to FL to compete in a marathon).  The Father adopted all of the children and many people all over the world have adopted these children into their hearts and due to their generous donations, these children are able to have an extraordinary life. 

The father of the home said "we cannot change the past, but we can change the future". 

Father Yehudi Kohn showed me how his HUMILITY and FAITH, TRUST in GOD and the GOODNESS of OTHERS, and his willingness to opened his arms  has allowed God to bless these children abundantly through the donations of others - a lesson we can all learn from. 


Beauty and accomplishments in so many places...



Individual chore charts and achievements acknowledged...




Scheduled times for homework and play...





 The fundamental principle of the Torah is the commandment, "Love thy neighbor as thyself". 

Yehuda Koh (the Director of the Children's Home) raised 5 children of his own.  Now, he is raising and has raised over 200 more.  His children (all of them) continue to be his children even after they have left home.  He said that they each need someone to attend their weddings and be there for them when hardships come unexpectedly later in life.

There is a waiting list of over 2000 young adults who hope to serve at the Children's Home when their military service time comes.  In Israel, youth (boys and girls) are required to serve their country for three years when they turn 18.  This Bet Sabah (Elazraki) Children's Home is one example of one of the ways in which they serve their country.

Yehudi is changing lives once child at a time. 

Children feel loved.  Children feel safe.

Children are given the opportunity to develop their talents.

Children know they are part of a family who cares for them.

Children are taught to love God and to obey His law, but are also given the choice to worship as they want to.

Children know their parents will ALWAYS be there for them - no matter what. 

Beautiful. 




Thank you Mike, Bracha, Beth, Cindy and For Zion Sake Ministries.  My life will never be the same.  There were so many other ways in which this amazing ministry served Israel and her people while we were there. I was fortunate to be able to join them and hope that I can brush shoulders with them again - in Israel. 

With much love, 

Steffanie








Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fatherless

Fatherless

Happy Father’s Day to all of you amazing men out there who have contributed to the birth of a child, or adopted a child into your heart and have been a good steward, a protector, a safe haven and an inspiration to your child. 

Some of the last memories I have of my Dad are as follows…

The very last day I saw my Dad, I had planned on just saying hello and then driving the 1.5 hours back home.  Instead, I decided to stay the night and then leave in the morning. Being a new mom with my little newborn baby, I hadn’t planned well, and so I ran out of diapers.  My son had a “blow-out” and in the interim of going to the store to buy more diapers, Dad helped me make a little make shift diaper using one of his old shirts and a plastic grocery bag.  He was pretty proud of himself and we laughed at our accomplishment and even took a picture.  The old t-shirt was cut to cover my son so that it looked like a shirt and matching diaper. There was a turkey on the front of the plastic bag that matched the colors in the shirt.  "Grandpa" had made sure his new grandson was taken care of, we came up with a fun solution, and a wonderful memory was made – not realizing it would be our last.

A couple months prior to Dad's death and the birth of my son,  I had been stressed about the workload my husband and I were carrying as we were running our own business and I had mentioned to my Dad how absolutely stressed I was about my ability to clean the basement apartment where we were living, by myself before the baby arrived.  Without being asked, Dad had recruited a cleaning crew.  Everyone came over and started cleaning.  Dad detailed all of the windows; he wiped everything down, vacuumed etc.  He brought me a big bouquet of balloons and a gigantic bunny that we still have to this day nearly 14 years later.  I felt SO loved.  I get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I think about his service.  He always came through for me – always.  I miss him so very much.

The earlier memories I have were of our walks around the reservoir by where he lived, the 4-wheeler rides, his random cards given for no reason other than to say “I love you. – DAD”. 

Dad would become silent when the depression would hit.  He had always been able to pull through those dark episodes in the past… but not that last time.  In college I remember bringing him a rose and putting it on his doorstep… I didn’t understand what it was like to experience severe bi-polar depression, but this was something that Dad understood all too well.  "It" (the depression) was his "greatest fear". He had struggled with depression most of his adult life and it would eventually lead to his death.

As I think about him, I ache inside.  Nobody on earth was like him.  He reminded me so much of Robin Williams the comedian.  Dad could make anything anyone said become something that we would all laugh and laugh about.  I’ve said it before and I’d like to say it again, that this life doesn’t have all the bright colors and light that it use to have when Dad was in it.  Yes, we still get together as a family, yes, my siblings remind me so much of Dad, but…. Dad is gone, and nobody could ever take his place.  Still 14 years later there is a huge void in my heart and a pain so deep that I still cry from time to time when I think about him and so I cope by trying not to think about it too much.   Every Father’s Day is a tad gloomy for me.  I can be happy for my kids as they celebrate the time with their father, but part of my mind, body and spirit is still melancholy… I miss him so much.

To focus on the positive and the happy, let me tell you about the man my father is/was…

Even though my parents divorced when I was five years old, my father continued to be a very active part of my life.  When we were little, Dad would call us EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I remember one particular time; I looked at my younger sister (4 years younger than me), talking to Dad on the phone.  She still had the chubby little baby arms and dimples and she still wasn’t able to carry on a very two-sided conversation other than her babbling.  Mom eventually handed the phone to me.  I’m sure I wasn’t a very good conversationalist as I impatiently listened to Dad wishing I could go and play.  I would hand the phone to Mom and then skip off to play.

Several years later, I remember being old enough to go bowling, to go roller-skating, play softball, travel to Texas to visit my Dad’s parents and I remember many times going to Port Aransas, Corpus Christi and so many other places in TX.  I loved spending time with my Dad, as we would travel in the motorhome.  He was always so tired and so it took us longer to get places and he would often stop to rest – usually somewhere outside on the grass under the shade of a tree while us kids (three of us then) would play nearby.  Dad loved the water and so did I.  During the summer months we were at the community swimming pool almost daily.  Dad would laugh, as he would throw us up into the air so we could land in the water.  We frequently had picnics together and would go fishing together as well.  Dad seemed to always have a tackle box and a fishing pole in his car wherever he went.

During High School Dad would come from SLC where he lived, to simply teach me a little bit about the sport I was in…. In college I would frequently get a visit and we would go fishing (primarily to talk) or go on walks up the canyon. 

I could go on and on and on…

Father’s.  Love your children.  I ALWAYS felt loved, adored, and like my siblings and I were Dad's greatest accomplishment.  He loved us so much and would literally go without at times so that we could have what we needed.  He believed in us.  He loved us unconditionally; he made us laugh and helped us to feel safe despite how others may have worried for us whenever he would come to visit.  I have NEVER heard him say a single word that was negative about my mother.  I could tell by how he looked at her that he still loved her, but he understood her decision. 

Mom has told me many times that she would never have divorced our Dad if she had understood his depression.  He had crazy highs and crazy lows. Bi-polar depression.  There had been moments so scary that Mom eventually decided to divorce him out of fear for us kids.

When Dad died and took others with him, my Mother cried and cried.  She wished that it could have been her that went with him.  She said that she knew that she had “enough love to forgive”.

I tear up thinking about her words…

Two people who loved each other very much who were torn apart due to mental illness… and a lack of understanding as to how to deal with it.

Now in our day, professionals are beginning to understand the gut/brain connection.  My Dr. in Mexico told me over and over “we heal the gut, we heal the brain”. 

When I was unaware of what was causing my health issues (lack of ability to absorb nutrients) it affected me mentally.  Even when I was back from Mexico (see previous posts) and healing, it still took a lot of time for my brain to heal.  A stranger had looked at me while she was thinking something to herself.  It had scared me and I had asked her to “back away…far away” and told her to “stay there”.   After I had time to reflect on the situation, embarrassment flooded over me.  I apologized over and over.  I explained to the store attendant helping me about how I had just returned from Mexico, how I hadn’t been able to absorb nutrients, and had got to the point that I wasn’t even able to speak English, how the surgery fixed the issue and how my brain was still healing.  The woman said, “I can completely understand… I was anorexic in High School… I definitely understand what lack of nutrients can do to the brain”. 

We do not know what causes various health issues, but we do know there is a big correlation between gut health and brain health.   Better absorption of nutrients, a fuller range of macro and micro nutrients, essential amino acids, healthy good bacteria levels, digestive enzymes, correct levels of hydrochloric acid, water content, fiber etc.  The list goes on and on…. the better the gut health, the better the brain health.

Could Dad have benefited from real foods, whole herbs and essential oils?  I believe so.

In memory of my Dad, I want to say to any of you who may be suffering… 

NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!!!  Your answers may be just around the corner.  Diet changes are sometimes tougher to change/give-up as it is for people to change a religion.

I pray that when you pray, you will pray that your eyes will be opened, your heart and mind will recognize truth and that it will have a “familiar ring”. 

Truth DOES have a familiar “ring”. 

May the Father of this universe guide you to the answers that you seek.  May you feel His love, His protection, and His guidance.

Many of us may be “FATHERLESS” right now for various reasons.  When you need to be held, I know you can always turn to your Father in Heaven to fill any void that you may feel.  There are many unhealthy alternatives to mask your pain, but there are many things that can support you in a natural, effective and much safer way. 

Happy Father’s Day.  Even in all your imperfection and weakness... you are still able to make the life of a child absolutely amazing.  I do not care about wealth or earthly possessions, but simply knowing that I am loved by my earthly father as well as my Father in Heaven.  

When you feel "Fatherless"... remember you do have a Father in Heaven who atones for everything you may lack.  Trust in Him. Turn to Him. Let Him surround you with His love and embrace Him... everything bad, ugly and hurtful and the feeling of being lost will melt away...eventually.





With much love,

Steffi

Note:  The next day, after I posted this article, I noticed a post that a friend had made that was regarding him being "fatherless".  What he said was powerful.  With permission, I am sharing what he wrote...

My father was not present in my life as I was growing up, as a teenager I struggled with father issues, only those who grew up fatherless can understand father issues, the others guys probably have no idea what that means. Having father issues is like having a boil that just wont go away, you try all you can to get rid of it but it remains in place. Growing up without a fathers presence is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to anyone. Now, many of us have learned to move on, we learned the hard way, the painful way and our vow should be to always be there for our kids, to offer our support throughout their lives. And to also step-in in the lives of other kids who need a father figure. Sons can only be mentored by fathers or father figures. I appreciate all the women who try their best to mentor their sons into responsible men but majority of them only succeed in turning their sons into sissies. Get a man who can mentor your son, get a father figure because no matter how much you try you will never raise a man because you ain't one. A boy needs the affirmation of a man same applies to a daughter. Daughters are more influenced by their fathers. In other words, society thrives where men thrive, nations are stable when its men are stable. With that I Thank all those who have become father figures to me. Have a wonderful FATHERS DAY." - George Kinyanjui (Pastor George)

Amen to the above.  Thank you, Pastor George.  Your words caused me to reflect on my own life. I'm so grateful for the father's of my friends, my teachers who were like Dad's to me, and the Bishops and counselors of our church family who stepped into the role of a father when I needed one.  I appreciated all of their love, service, council and example.