Gratitude Within The Storm

Storm

Thanksgiving is a time that we look at life and contemplate what we’re thankful for. When life is going well, this is a fun and an easy task; however when life brings us challenges, acknowledging what we are thankful for can be difficult.

The second half of 2018 was particularly difficult for me. Hiking is one of my favorite pass times and for years, I have enjoyed hiking at least a couple of times each week. On the week-end I challenged myself to long, strenuous hikes and loved every minute of it! In May 2018, I began feeling tired. I thought that I was fighting some sort of flu bug. This feeling increasingly became worse and worse to the point that it was difficult for me to even walk up my stairs. My Fitbit recorded my heart rate and I noticed that my resting heart increased from an average of 65 beats per minutes to 125 beats per minute, while lying in bed. To my dismay, I quickly watched my muscles disappear.

After running a series of tests, the doctor informed me that I had an autoimmune disorder and that there is no cure… She said that I can expect to continue to lose muscle, I may lose all of my hair, and I may not be able to work…ever.

It took a little time for me to process this information. At first, I was in shock. I kept replaying the doctor’s quotes over and over in my mind. “There is no cure.” I thought, Is this my new normal? Will I ever hike again? Will I be able to work? What will my life look like? Do I need to shift my hopes and dreams to match the “new normal”?

After the shock wore off, I found that I was a little angry. I have always been an active person and I had so many things that I wanted to do in life, but my physical body yelled back, “NO”! The anger turned to sadness and I went through a time of mourning the loss of the future that I saw for myself. This was a dark time when I focused what I CAN’T do.

Through self-reflection, I realized that I wasn’t being very kind to myself. I thought of what I might say to someone else who was going through this. After some time, I realized that I needed to accept myself exactly where I was. This wasn’t my new normal, but this is where I was on that particular day. I vowed to stop comparing myself to others and to stop comparing myself to myself 2 months ago. Instead of looking at what I could NOT do, I started looking at and celebrating what I COULD do. I stopped saying things like, “I only did….” Or “I just did….” Because the words only and just really took away from the accomplishments. I started to get excited and to be thankful for the little acts that I could do. I accepted myself 100% and honored myself exactly where I was each day. As I celebrated and acknowledged the small stuff, I noticed that I started getting better…getting stronger. I began swimming because swimming is a gentle exercise that strengthens all of your body. Initially, I could do 2 laps. I fought my mind that wanted to say, “I ONLY could go 2 laps. I used to climb mountains and now I JUST did 2 laps. Instead I celebrated, “Yesterday, I did nothing. Today is the beginning. I swam 2 laps!” 2 laps increased to 4, then 6, then 8, then 10. Today I swam 40 laps. There were ups and downs and I had days that I was tired and felt that it would be best if I didn’t exercise. I have taken on the mindset to except myself each day, no matter what; to never say statements that would make me feel bad that I didn’t do something. I will be a loving cheerleader for myself.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8)

Re-building my strength has been challenging. This experience has highlighted to me that in order for us to overcome any challenge, we must become the master of our minds. What we think matters. We can’t be overcome with negativity. We can’t wallow in the doctor’s words and give up. (i.e., “There is no cure.”) We can’t judge ourselves and compare ourselves to others or compare our abilities to what we used to do.

I noticed that as I began to acknowledge my small accomplishments and feel gratitude for where I was in the moment, I started to see new possibilities. I felt empowered and this is where the healing began!

I found myself stumbling upon many natural healing solutions. I changed the way I ate and cut out gluten, soy, and dairy. I increased my fruit and vegetable intake and bought organic, non-GMO, everything. I begin each morning with 16 ounces of celery juice. I replaced my home products with natural products to eliminate as many chemicals as possible.

I’m pleased to announce that to my doctor’s surprise that I am healing. I have been quickly weaning myself off of medication. The doctor said that I may be off of all medicine in December! If I am not off of the last of the medicine in December, I will continue to celebrate the milestones and focus on what I CAN do and how far I have come. I accept myself unconditionally throughout this journey!

Looking back, I do not think healing would have been possible without first finding gratitude within the storm. Without feeling gratitude, it would have been impossible to celebrate the small steps (which were actually huge) and then to build on that to become stronger and stronger.

I’m grateful for my healthy body and for where I am today.

What are you grateful for?

Katherine

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***For those of you who may not have heard yet, Through The Fire is now available on Amazon. I wanted to give a special thanks to so many of you who have already purchased the book and I really appreciate all of the thoughtful messages. I’m so pleased that the book has had such a positive response. If you know someone who may be struggling and may benefit from this story or someone who may enjoy the book, please share. Thank you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Through The Fire ~ On Amazon Today

Book Cover

After nearly a lifetime of preparation and years of writing, re-writing, and going through the grueling steps of the publishing process, I’m very pleased to announce that my book, Through the Fire, is available today on Amazon. For years, I have had this project in the back of my mind constantly. I was always working on an aspect of this process. It’s such a strange, silent, and still feeling to be at this stage of this project. I hope that in sharing my story that others who have experienced struggles in their lives will find greater peace.

Kidnapped and left to die- this was the headline the kidnapper expected to read after abducting twelve-year-old Katherine. However, God had a different plan. Join the author as she recalls the inspiring true story of suspense, survival, and miracles. You will be amazed as this determined little girl works side-by-side with the investigators to stop the kidnapper from hurting others in the future. The bravery she revealed at the trial as she stood face to face with the man who swore to kill her if she talked was extraordinary.

Have you ever wondered where God is in our suffering? Katherine shares numerous miracles, including a near-heaven experience. Through this story, she shows how God is with us in our darkest hour. God doesn’t cause the struggles in our lives, but He is there to help us through the fire. You will be on the edge of your seat as you witness these miracles and Katherine’s description of how she finds her way to freedom.

After a traumatic event such as this, are we really free? Is it possible to forgive the unforgivable? You will be inspired to see how this young girl found strength beyond her own to survive and move past this traumatic event. Read how it is possible to break the chains of yesterday’s suffering and move forward into a life filled with love and happiness.

Thank you for sharing! Happy reading!

Struggles are Part of the Journey

Butterfly 2

A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were Life’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Remember nature needs no help, just no interference. There are processes of life, things we all go through. The struggles are a part of our journey and are preparing us for what awaits. They are preparing us to fly.
-unknown

#throughthefire

Walk a Mile in His Moccasins

Walk a mile

This week, I had the opportunity to attend CABA which is an autism conference for my work. My favorite part of the conference was listening to talks from amazing women who are mothers of children with autism. These woman were at the forefront of fighting for services for their children. They gave up successful careers to take care of their families. The most heartbreaking part of their stories wasn’t the fact that they gave up their careers, have dealt with daily tantrum behavior, aren’t able to go out to eat and vacation like the rest of us, the lack of sleep, or even what it feels like to have therapists in their home daily. The most heartbreaking part of their stories is when they share the reaction from the community. The hurtful quotes that people have said to them and the lack of support shown by neighbors, friends, and family was shocking. Despite these difficult situations, these woman have great lives and love their families. One of the moms shared this poem and I wanted to share it with you.

The poem Walk a Mile in His Moccasins was written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. The original title was Judge Softly. Here is the original poem.

Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps, Or stumbles along the road. Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears, Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt Though hidden away from view. The burden he bears placed on your back May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today Unless you have felt the same blow That caused his fall or felt the shame That only the fallen know.

You may be strong, but still the blows That were his, unknown to you in the same way, May cause you to stagger and fall, too.

Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins. Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain. Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own, And it’s only wisdom and love that your heart contains.

For you know if the tempter’s voice Should whisper as soft to you, As it did to him when he went astray, It might cause you to falter, too.

Just walk a mile in his moccasins Before you abuse, criticize and accuse. If just for one hour, you could find a way To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.

I believe  you’d be surprised to see That you’ve been blind and narrow minded, even unkind. There are people on reservations and in the ghettos Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.

Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I. Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions And see the world through his spirit and eyes Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.

Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders. We will be known forever by the tracks we leave In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.

Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.

 

 

Every Person Needs Kindness

Rose 2

Over the course of the last year, I have had the privilege of meeting many inspiring people through social media. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to message me and share personal stories. I am both honored and, I must admit, a bit overwhelmed by the number of people who endure such difficult life situations. They have inspired me to look at statistics of those who are touched by trauma. Here is what I found:

1 in 4 women are sexually abused before the age of 18. 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. 1 in 5 women are raped. 1 in 4 marriages have at least one episode of abuse.

Human trafficking is out of control! According to a September 2017 report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Walk Free Foundation: An estimated 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern day slavery.

The cruelty that exists in the world today is inconceivable. Millions of children are being bought and sold as a commodity with no concern for their life, happiness or fulfillment. TV shows joke about pornography and attempt to “normalize” it. This is BIG business and many traffickers are becoming wealthy because society is saying this is okay. If there were no consumers, pornography would end and traffickers would lose money. Let’s boycott everything that benefits traffickers.

I have had parents of children who were murdered or missing contact me. Some children have been gone for months, some years, and some have been found murdered. The worry and stress that these parents endure daily is unimaginable. They love their children so much.

I remember how strange it was when I first came back home after being kidnapped. I imagine this strange feeling is similar to how others who have experienced any kind of trauma may have felt afterwards. One day, life is going along smoothly. Everything in life is moving like a fine tuned clock… and then the trauma occurs. The world around you continues as usual; however for those involved life is anything but usual. Instead of life being like a fine tuned clock, it feels more like you are frozen and a freight train is headed straight for you, but you can’t move.

Think for a moment about the statistics of those who have endured trauma. Then, think of the parents, sisters, brothers, friends, co-workers, school mates, neighbors, etc. If you really think about it, we are all effected by trauma. I think we are safe to say that at least half of society is deeply suffering. Wow! Even though they are suffering, life goes on. They have to get up every day, get dressed, and go to work, the store, the bank, and so on. So, if you are driving down the freeway and another driver isn’t focusing on the road and may cut you off, think twice before reacting. You don’t know what is happening in the lives of everyone you pass so it’s better for us to choose to be compassionate. Looking at the statistics shows us how important it is for us to be a little kinder to each other. Every person needs kindness. It takes strength to be kind. It’s easy to yell at someone and justify why they deserve it. But remember that we don’t know the story behind the people that we meet throughout our day. For some, it took all the strength they had within them to get dressed and out the door. Meet them with compassion. Be strong. Be kind. A simple smile or encouraging word can give hope to a hurting soul. Give love without hesitation.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain

Be the light!

Please follow my Instagram and Facebook for inspiring quotes. Links may be found on the right sidebar of the blog. Thank you

 

 

Love is a Verb ~ Without Action, it’s Merely a Word

 

Butterfly Love.jpg

This is a repost of an article that was posted several months ago. Since it’s Valentine’s month, it seemed like a good article to repost. Love is a Verb-

Hiking through the hills after being kidnapped, was probably the most difficult time in my life. Having severe injuries, a blood soaked dress, covered in bruises from beatings, and being emotionally and physically exhausted, each step took extreme effort. One thought that kept me going was that I knew that if I kept walking that I would soon run into caring people who would help me to make it back home. All I had to do was make it back to civilization. I was sure that the first person that saw me would pull over their car and help me. I just needed to find one person and I would be saved! This is what I thought; however I would soon discover that I was very wrong. I would soon experience a profound sense of disappointment as car after car passed me without stopping. By passers slowed their cars enough to get a good look at me with shock and then continued to drive on. Each time this happened, my heart sunk. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t stop and help me. As I came to a residential area, and passed people as we walked on the sidewalk, I felt that these weren’t “bad” people, yet everyone avoided me, looked away or sped off quickly. As disappointing as it was to experience how the kidnapper could be so cruel and thoughtless, the fact that others wouldn’t help me may have been even more disappointing. They looked at me as if I was “trouble”. Maybe they thought I was a runaway, homeless, or mixed up with the wrong type of people. Maybe they were afraid that if they stopped to help that they may be accused of hurting me or maybe they thought that the person who did this to me would hurt them if they got involved. Maybe they felt it was none of their business, not their responsibility; someone else will help me. Maybe they were just busy.  Maybe they never really thought about helping other people before. We will never understand why the people who passed me that day didn’t stop and help. There’s nothing we can do now to change the past. I hope by sharing my story that I can bring awareness so that we, as a society, will become brave and caring individuals and help people who desperately need our assistance.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta devoted her life to showing love to people who were dying in the streets. She picked them up, brought them to a home where they could die with love, joy and the peace of Christ. Mother Teresa spoke of loving with actions, rather than words. One time, she was inviting to a conference about ending world hunger. When she arrived to the conference, right in front of the door where hundreds of people passed to go into the conference to discuss how they would end hunger within 15 years, she found a dying man. Mother Teresa didn’t attend the conference that day, instead she brought the dying man home. He soon died – he died of hunger. Everyone in the conference talked about ending hunger, and the man that they passed on their way in died.

I wonder if one reason we don’t help others is because we judge. Did the people who passed the dying man judge him and is this why they didn’t help him? Did they feel their work in the conference was more important than the man? We are all precious to God. The man in the streets, those who are wealthy, those with disabilities, those who are healthy, all shades of skin color, you, me, and everyone – He loves all of us.

“A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Jesus spent his time loving and doing good deeds. If we are trying to live like Jesus then we need to put our love in action also. Just as our Heavenly Father sent Jesus, He sent us to love one another.

“We show love by thoughtfulness, by kindness, by sharing joy, by sharing a smile… through the little things.” Mother Teresa

Love is a verb and has to be put into action to have real meaning. We have all seen vicious arguments on social media where people are trying to convince others with their words to do good works. While many of the intentions of those arguing may have started with a good hearted intentions, talking alone isn’t enough. Instead of talking, we need to take action. We need to become comfortable being inconvenienced; to go out of our way to help others.

With all of the problems in the world, it can be difficult to know where to help. Mother Teresa has beautifully offered advice for us-

“I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I only look at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can only feed one person at a time. Just one, one, one. You get closer to Christ by coming closer to each other. As Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me.” So you begin….I begin. I pick up one person – maybe if I didn’t pick up that one person I wouldn’t have picked up 42,000. The whole work is only a drop in the ocean. But if I didn’t put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less. Same thing for you, same thing in your family, same thing in your church where you go, just begin…. One, one, one.

At the end of our life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how may great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me I was homeless and you took me in.’

Hungry not only for bread – but hungry for love.

Naked not only for clothing – but naked of human dignity and respect.

Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks – but homeless because of rejection.

This is Christ in distressing disguise.” Mother Teresa

Let’s be people who love with our actions – on earth as it is in heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

Love is…

Love is 2

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today is the day to celebrate and show those around us that we love and appreciate them. It’s not really about candy,  flowers and gifts. All though these extras are fun and we all enjoy them, they are meaningless without truly “being” love with one another.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight it evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

I hope you all have a fun Valentine’s day filled with love!