contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Daily Conqueror Moments

Daily encouragement and inspiration for the warrior in all of us. You can be a winner, a victor, and a CONQUEROR every day of your life. Lisa's posts will help lead the way on this cadence we call life.

Bad Moon Rising

Lisa Williams

I see a bad moon a rising….

I remember in 1981 being deeply affected by the John Landis movie An American Werewolf in London. Although it was a comedy-horror flick at which I laughed, I had horrific nightmares for several weeks afterward. It was then that I learned, most profoundly, that I am much too sensitive to watch horror movies.
Maybe it was because there was something beyond realistic about the transformation which the main character, David, went through during the full moons phase. It's no wonder the movie won an Academy Award for best makeup and special effects; it indeed was brilliant work. One of the things that struck me the most, was that deep-down David was a good guy. He had no desire to be so sick, twisted, and evil. He never wanted to kill dozens of people or wreak such havoc wherever the creature in him went.
Once he finds out what he is, he loathes himself and desperately seeks a cure, even attempting albeit, unsuccessfully, to kill himself. At the end of the movie, we find David has transformed yet again into the hideous werewolf. He is appeased momentarily by the voice of his fiancé and calms down long enough for police to shoot and kill the creature, killing him as well.I may be nuts, but I understand David much more than I wish I did.

I see trouble on the way…

A change comes over me when the moon is full. It wasn’t a werewolf’s bite which caused my affliction, but that of an infected deer tick carrying Lyme Disease.

I try to hide away during the full moon’s phase so that no one will see me in my altered state.

The transformation is painful. My body is wracked with such pain that my cries resemble howling. Unexpected groans escape my pursing lips as my limbs quake, cramp, and tremble. My muscles feel as though they are burning, or what I imagine it would feel like to be on fire anyway.
I am taking on a metamorphous. I no longer look or feel the same.

Invisible ropes pull my body in different directions, making me clumsy and slow. Unlike David, super strength is not part of this deal. Quite the opposite. My body grows frail and numb, except the regions that are writhing in pain. I feel as though I'm dragging thousand-pound cinderblocks from my ankles when I move my legs, and my wrists are somehow tied down to my sides. Lifting my arms proves an impossibility.
My senses of hearing and sight become heightened to the point that I hide from the light and cringe at loud noises. I begin to wonder if I will ever again feel normal or if I’m always to be a shameful creature marked by sweaty bangs plastered to my flustered, rash covered skin, and glazed over eyes void of light.

Don’t go around tonight, it’s bound to take your life…

My mind moves in a fog; I rock back and forth like an insane woman; it numbs the excruciating pain that is swallowing me alive. At times my thoughts are savage. I am easily angered, and the least infraction can cause inner rage. I am like a zombie for whom there is no known cure, searching for my burial site.  I can't think straight; can't remember what I said or did mere minutes ago. In my head, it's night, and the moon only serves to highlight and thicken the murk so I cannot find my way.

Claiming that a moonlight metamorphosis is responsible for ungodly pain levels sounds mad to those who have never experienced it. It doesn't matter. Those of us who have suffered this fate are accustomed to being accused of mental and emotional instability. We are used to being thought of as attention-seekers, but we know the truth.

There are two apparent similarities between the full moon and the reproduction cycle of Borrelia Burgdorferi. First of all, they both occur on an average of every 30 days. During this phase, NASA scientists will tell you that the gravitational pull of the earth increases. In turn, this alters our bodies internally even though we may not notice it, much like the ocean tides. We can't feel the gravitation pull, however animals (including bacteria) certainly can. Many mammals only mate and reproduce during a full moon cycle.
 Secondly, the full moon changes the atmosphere around us. This has to do with the electromagnetic field around Earth which has a subtle, yet tremendous impact on our bodies at the cellular level. Electromagnetic energy increases and animals migrate and mate. So does Borrelia bacteria. It’s during this time that Lyme bacteria are rearranging and reproducing in one’s body around the full moon.

There’s a bad moon on the rise…

So, I'm not crazy or rabid. I'm just fighting, like so many others with this hideous disease. I'll keep fighting. To educate others, to help impact prevention, and to live unencumbered and free of the transformation that the full moon does to my body. Maybe someday I’ll be able to sing a different song about the moon, a song about flying among the stars, love and kissing.
I hope. To the moon and back, I hope.

Two thousand and nineteen

Lisa Williams

Welp, for better or worse 2018 is over. Here’s a few things to ponder and apply to your life so that you can walk right in to 2019 better prepared.

2019 won’t be drama free, but it can contain less of it.

Life contains drama now and then. It doesn't mean you caused, invited it, or associated with it. It's likely that none of it is your doing. Life can just be that way sometimes. You can't always control that.
What you can control, though, is the amount of drama that you attach to the drama itself. 
You have the power to calm yourself. You really do. 
Talking to everybody and their brother about drama gives it more power and drains you of yours. 
You can choose not to stir things up by not talking about it. A lot of life's drama is really at a volume level of a 1 or 2 and we pump up the volume and blow out the speakers on that thing by talking about it too much. 
Have you prayed about it as much as you've talked about it? 
What's in it for you if you attach drama to a dramatic situation or circumstance? Rather than allowing yourself to get drawn into stressful, whirlwind-ish emotional upheaval, let today be the day that you decide not to panic. Begin to choose to quiet your soul and practice good self care for your own well being. 
Take a walk, listen to music. Sing! Work out, dance, drink more water, breathe deeply, eat healthy. Get more rest, hug your children, volunteer. Get a manicure, go the beach or the mountains and if there’s nothing like that where you live go to your favorite place. See a funny movie, volunteer, visit a friend, talk to a horse, read a good book, laugh a lot, speak your love. 
Talk with God.
In so doing you will build your own strength while starving the drama of its. 
You will feel better and you'll thank yourself later. Really. 

2019 will require you to love deeper and bigger than ever before.
Why? Just watch the evening news for that answer. My mother used to sing a lot around the house when I was growing up. Her favorite song sums it up quite nicely.
What the world needs now, is love sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.
Love means including everyone, no matter how different from you they happen to be.

2019 might mean walking away from toxic people.
What? Didn’t you just say to love everyone? Why yes, yes I did. However, you can’t love others effectively if you don’t love yourself. Loving yourself means drawing boundary lines and not allowing toxic people to steal your peace of mind or happiness.
Loving some people means loving them from ————————————--> way over here.

2019 holds new beginnings for you.
New beginnings can happen to you no matter your age, economic status, religion, gender, or a million other things. If opportunity isn’t knocking down your door, go knock on it’s door! If your ship hasn’t come in yet, what’s stopping you from swimming out to it?
If you have a dream, it will remain a dream until you take the steps necessary to turn it into a goal and walk that goal out to it’s fruition. Writing it down helps.

2019 can be as happy as you make it.
Happiness really is a choice and once you learn that you hold the power to your own happiness, you’ll start to see your life change for the better. Don’t wait for “someday” to be happy.
Break out the good china now. Wear that special perfume just because it’s Tuesday and you’re alive. When life throws you a curve ball, use a different bat. Decide to look at the positive. Decide not to panic. No, we can’t control everything, but we can control our own reactions. Practice self-control and listening to the voice of reason within your mind. Build sand castles, fly kites, breathe fresh air, be child like but refuse to be childish. Life is too short not to be happy, so find your happy and live it each day. If you wake up sad, combat it with beautiful music and make the decision to let go of the negative and focus on what is going right in your life. You can either reflect on two thousand nineteen reasons to be negative or two thousand nineteen reasons to be glad. Your choice will affect everything.
Most of all, don’t forget this one very important truth: You are so very, very loved.

May this be the best year of your life! Happy New Year!
#DailyConquerorMoments

Shine

Lisa Williams

 While most of my friends are getting ready for Christmas soon, I'm getting ready for Hanukkah. While I have nothing against giving gifts and eating together with my family on December 25th, pondering the miraculous birth of Emmanuel leads me to believe that Jesus Christ most likely was not born on that day.
History tells us otherwise. Common sense says that If the shepherds in Israel were out in the fields watching their flocks by night, it would not have occurred in freezing cold winter, when no grass grows in the fields.
The birth of Jesus Christ was most likely in the springtime, around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. I will wish Him a happy birthday anyway and be grateful that He was born and that pure Love came to Earth but I won't participate in the frantic, materialistic greed that often accompanies it. I can do without the commercialism. To me, this time of year is about family, friends and celebrating that love and I know they feel the same way.
Hanukkah means something different to me, yet, it too is about a celebration of a miracle that occurred. It’s about a military victory that still affects us all.
Some people think Hanukkah is “The Jewish Christmas.” Nope.
Hanukkah marks the Maccabees' long-ago defeat of the larger-than-life Greek-Syrian army that had invaded Israel. The Maccabees were just a small group of Jews led by Mattathias Maccabee and his five sons, including Judah Maccabee. They organized themselves into a guerrilla army and, with God's help, proved stronger than their powerful enemy.
Following the Maccabees' victory, the Jews rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and, once again, were able to worship freely.
I once knew a Christian pastor who said he thinks that Hanukkah is really a critical holiday for Christians, too. “Why?” I asked — I knew about the reference in John chapter 10, but nothing more. He said that if the Jewish Maccabees had not risen up against their oppressors, then secularism and paganism would have controlled the Jewish people. And if it would have controlled the Jewish people, Jesus would not have been able to be born as a Jew, to live a Jewish life, to see the Temple, and have the Bible. Judaism would have been wiped out.
He's right. Hanukkah is an important holiday.
There is an attempt in every generation to rid the world of the Jewish people. Then there are those who want to accommodate, negotiate and be flexible. Still there are those who say they can do that sometimes, but there are times when you must draw a line in the sand.
When they try to take away my faith I cannot accommodate, I cannot adjust.
I cannot, I will not- compromise.
The Maccabees drew that line in the sand, and they triumphed. If not for their triumph, Judaism would have been gotten rid of by those authorities, and Jesus the Jew would not have been around 165 years later.
Hanukkah is an eight-day holiday because we see in the Bible that anytime there was a dedication of the Temple, it was an eight-day celebration. So, when they regained the Temple and took out all the impurities and idols, they had a celebration that lasted for eight days. And this is more than just the celebration of victory in a physical battle. Zechariah 4:6 says, "'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty." This became an important verse for Hanukkah, and is in fact written on the menorah in Jerusalem that stands across from the Knesset, Israel's parliament. It serves to remind us not just of the military victory, but of the ultimate triumph of God and the spiritual victory of the Jews over their oppressors. 
Although Hanukkah celebrates a military victory, its major symbol — the Hanukkah menorah, or Hanukkiah — reminds us of the miracle of the oil. As the Jews purified the Holy Temple, they found only one flask of the oil for the eternal lamp — enough to keep it burning for just one day. But a miracle occurred, and the oil lasted eight days and nights until more oil could be brought from afar.
That miracle explains why we celebrate Hanukkah for eight days and also why Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights.
The Hanukkah menorah holds nine candles, one for each of the eight nights and an additional candle that’s used to light the others, called the Servant Candle. One candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, two on the second night, until all eight candles are lit on the eighth night. 
Hanukkah is a time to celebrate with family and friends, to eat yummy holiday treats, to give gifts (especially to children) and to play fun games such as the dreidel game.

 For me, it’s a time of re-dedication to God, a time to celebrate for eight nights all of the miracles he has done in my life and to thank Him for the gift of life, love, family and friends.             
The Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication is mentioned John 10: 22-23 records, "Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the Temple area walking in Solomon's Colonnade." (NIV) As a Jew, Jesus most certainly would have participated in the Feast of Dedication.
The same courageous spirit of the Maccabees who remained faithful to God during intense persecution was passed on to Jesus' disciples who would all face severe trials because of their faithfulness to Yeshua HaMashiach . (Jesus, the Messiah) And like the miracle of God's presence expressed through the eternal flame of God burning for the Maccabees, Yeshua became the incarnate, physical expression of God's presence, the Light of the World, who came to dwell among us and give us the eternal light of God's life.
This season, shine your own light. Shine your kindness, your love, and your truth. Not just for 8 days, but for every day.
Just shine, in that you’ll find your own victory.

Ninja Gnat Returns

Lisa Williams

A few minutes ago in a galaxy close, close nearby…
The adventures of Ninja Gnat continues.
“What?” you ask. “What is this Ninja Gnat you speak of?”
(Cue dramatic music for effect. Which effect I’ve no idea, but people are reading so cue it please. )

Here’s the 411.

It all began many years ago in the Midwest, when an otherwise normal looking gnat was found in our humble Ohio abode. Thinking he was a box kicker gnat, I smacked him and thought that was the end of it. I should be so lucky. It turns out this was no ordinary gnat. They say cats have nine lives? If that’s true, this gnat has 9,000. He’s come to be known as: (Is the dramatic music cued?)
Ninja Gnat.

He’s the Army Ranger of gnats.
In revenge of my attempt at smackage, Ninja Gnat began stalking my then thirteen-year-old son.
It followed him to school one day, which was against the rules. The drama-trauma of that event had caused us both to block it out of our otherwise normal minds. Until this year.
Yes, children it was one fateful day in late September of aught ‘18 when my son, the former Army Ranger (whom I’ll simply call Ranger in order to protect his identity) and I experienced a new encounter with the gnat from he’ll.
The time had come for us to talk it over and one day, when he happened to be at my house, we did.

Me: There's a flipping gnat that's been in the house all week! Every time I try to kill it, it disappears. 
Mike: Yeah, that's my gnat. (Oops. I guess the cat’s outta the bag on concealing Ranger’s identity)
Me: What?
Mike: It's been haunting me since middle school. I think it found me when we lived in Ohio and it's pretty much been stalking me ever since. I tried to beat feet and escape his wrath but it followed me to boot camp and overseas. When I returned to the USA, I got off the plane and there he was to greet me. No, not my Grunt brother. The gnat. 
Me: Kill it!
Mike: Impossible. Believe me, I've tried. It's useless. He'll outsmart your every move.
Me: A ninja gnat?
Mike: I'm afraid so.
Me: Well, darn.
Mike: *In the most somber tone ever* I know, Mom. I know. (Dun dun duuuuuun!)

Welp, over a month had passed by and pretty soon we thought maybe we’d seen the last of Ninja Gnat. Until this morning while drinking my Black Rifle coffee. There he was, in the cup sipping it like he owned a franchise. Now, I’m tryin’ not to get wrapped around the axle but this gnat had it comin’ and I don’t mean a day at the spa. I tried to kill it, but the sally flew out of the cup and up my nose. I lost my coffee and a good deal of snot. I’m not sure he’s even been blown out. No telling what this gnat will do up there.
”Gnaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!” I screamed in fury as I opened a package of bug juice.
I’ve made it my mission to destroy Ninja Gnat. If it’s the last thing I do.
Meanwhile, I’m off to purchase stock in Raid and Kleenex.

(No xoxo this time. I can’t appear soft. Ninja Gnat may be watching.)


Warrior

Lisa Williams

It’s you.

You’re fierce yet fragile. You see open doors of opportunity within your grasp but you navigate them carefully and stealthily. Not every door is for you. You know this because you’ve stepped through a few before that you shouldn’t have.
What’s behind door number three? you wondered. Only to find that behind that door was no prize. You won’t waste your precious time like that again. You know your value now, so you demand better of yourself.
Now, you understand the prize of patience. You believe that waiting is pro-active. Why? Because within a season of stillness, there are treasures to be found.
Clearer thinking.
Fresh vision.
Strategic planning.
Preparation for soaring like an eagle.
Deeper fellowship with comrades.
All of these are brought to the table in the midst of the wait. It’s in the quiet that you drink deeply from the well of creativity and peace. The noise of the world’s demands are silenced and you can breathe fresh, clean air— and that freely.
The stale is gone, the new has arrived. You can smile at the sky above and earth below as you walk forward. You have no fear of the future, because you know who holds it.
The warrior knows that in every grown-up there remains a child. Therefore, time for play, laughter and fun are paramount. The warrior cannot live without it.
Remember that love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, humbleness, kindness, and self-control are really battle tools. Wear your armor. Not to keep love out, or to harden your heart but to enable you to take your stand. You don’t even have to fight. You just have to stand. You don’t require any other weapons. Having done all that is required of you, just stand strong in the strength which is a gift to you. With that, you will win.
Warrior, don’t forget to love yourself as much as you love others. Know where you belong for that is enough.

The warrior is you.

xoxo

Heaven's Asphalt

Lisa Williams

What do you love?
What causes freedom to pulse within your veins? Where can you go to hide away from this world’s noise, to decompress?
Since I was a girl, for me it’s been the great outdoors. Give me the mountains, the ocean, the countryside and all the animals that they contain. They call to me, they cause me to think clearer, and breathe deeper. I believe that nature by it’s very existence heals people and animals. It’s a glimpse of the beauty that abides in Heaven, which, I believe is a real, live place.
I’d be content on this earth to be continually barefooted and fancy free. Give me shelter under a gazillion stars, a garden, animals, and a simple life. That’s enough for me and it began when I was a child.
Ours was a middle class family of six, whose vacations involved camping, hiking, and swimming in oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams. Back then, we never could’ve imagined the hidden dangers lurking within the grassy meadows and trees of the forests we visited. Yes, way back in 1971 there were ticks which carried Lyme Disease in those California woodlands. Neither my parents, their friends, family, or doctors knew a thing about Lyme Disease. So, when a tick that was carrying Lyme bit my arm when I was twelve years old, we didn’t sweat it. When the bite mark grew and resembled a bulls eye, we still didn’t worry. When I came down with flu-like symptoms, my parents thought I had the flu. The fact that nobody else got it was attributed to luck.
The years that followed brought with them a host of health problems for me. I had difficulty concentrating, and learning. I experienced headaches daily. Participating in sports for any length of time was next to impossible due to severe fatigue. I didn’t dare try out for the track team, when running one lap winded me. I rarely slept through the night. Insomnia was quite common. I didn’t know that it wasn’t normal not to get strep throat every six months. My back often hurt and I developed stomach issues.
How in the world I lived to be 46 before a correct diagnosis is beyond my realm of understanding. At the time, I was dying.
Maybe I lived that long because after that fateful camping trip to Mammoth Pool, California, I was on antibiotics every 6 months or so. Or maybe there is a greater power at work here.
Often times now, test results regarding my condition are bleak. They say things I wish were not true. I do everything the doctors tell me to do, but, according to the test results I have not progressed. If that is true, I ought to be dead.
But God…He has another plan. He has kept me alive against the odds. I’m convinced that I won’t breathe my last breath a second sooner than I’m supposed to and when I do, He will take me Home.
Home, where they pave the streets with pure gold. Home, where gates are made of pearls. Where we will only know happy tears, and peace uninterrupted.
Think about that for a minute. The materials we use to pave roads here on Earth are the cheapest we have; cement, sand and crushed rocks. The materials used to pave the roads in Heaven are pure gold.
That’s Heaven’s standard. Pure gold for streets. Pearls for gates. (Revelation 21:21)
That gives me hope like nothing else. God has prepared a place for me and spared nothing for its beauty, and that includes divine health. No more sickness. No more dis-ease. We will know ease, peace and love so divine this writer cannot find the words to describe it. We will know God face-to-face. That’s the real beauty of Heaven, the One who created it. That’s what makes life on Earth worth living, too. His love is all over this planet. I take that love with me, along with the love of friends and family.
That’s how I’m going to win. That’s the medicine that saves me.

Dear God,
Please pave my soul with love as transparent as the gold in heaven. Purify me as such. Walk the streets of my heart and own every cobblestone and grain of sand. Help me to love as Heaven loves, and to abide in You always.
Amen.
xoxo

Choose Love

Lisa Williams

The other day I visited my son and his family. I actually felt strong enough to watch my grandson for awhile. Before I drove back home, my son and I sat and talked awhile. We spoke among other things, about how much we both miss my dad. It's hard to believe he's been gone over 8 months now. We talked about how we are both like him in some ways and how neither of us can bring ourselves to delete his number from our phone contacts. We agreed that Sam Elliot's character on The Ranch reminds us of my dad; the veteran, the cowboy, the legend.
What I wouldn't give for 5 more minutes with my dad and mom. They were married over 32 years when mom died. I can't wait to be with her again. She was so amazing!
It seems like they did everything well. Cooking, gardening, fishing, and a million other things. They made the best homemade blackberry jam ever, and Sunday morning breakfasts were the best. They went all out. Biscuits and gravy, sausage or bacon, waffles and fresh fruit. It was "Here's the funny papers, girls." and "Kmart is having a sale on fishing lures." Sometimes we'd go on over to Kmart and he'd buy me a large bag of popcorn for a dime that I didn't have to share with my big sisters.
Sometimes we'd go fishing on the weekends and God knows with four daughters it's a miracle he caught any fish at all with all the chatter. He'd always offer a dollar for whomever caught the first fish. Then we'd buy 100 pieces of penny candy. Great googly moogly, the sugar rush!
These memories are so sweet they make me cry. Partly with gratitude and part with longing for just one more day with Mom and Dad.
I wonder what they're doing up there in Heaven tonight. I wonder what they saw the first 5 minutes they were there. I wonder when I'll see them again.
For those who have perfect health and for those who don't, take it from someone who has experienced a great deal of loss: Choose love. Choose it every time. It doesn't mean you have to allow toxic people into your world but...
Remember to hold tight to your loved ones. Forget petty offenses. Forgive. Love big. Be mushy. Say words of celebration and appreciation for who they are. Don't shy away from the words "I love you." Always hug hello and goodbye.
Cherish every moment.

xoxo

Just forget it

Lisa Williams

When my tired is someone else's version of "I'm dying", it's really tempting to fall into despair. I mean, it would be so easy to allow myself to become so passive or distracted that I could 'forget' to fight. It would be simple, that is, without the physical pain to remind me.
Truth is, I want to forget.
There. I actually said it out loud.
I. Don't. Want. To. Fight. Anymore.

My son is a 10 year infantry combat veteran. Ten years. A freaking decade of fighting.
Let that sink in for a moment.
When he returned from his last deployment he rented a really nice condo, bought some new furniture and household items and created for himself a peaceful sanctuary to live in.
I was in the hospital doing my own fighting when his feet landed back on American soil so it took a while for me to actually go over to his place. Upon visiting him for the first time, I remember feeling such a sense peace in his home. When I mentioned it to him he said, "Mom, I've been a man of war for 10 years now. I just want peace. I don't want to fight anymore. Not ever. I guess that's why you feel peace here. Number one, I'm home, so there's that, but in addition to that I've tried to make a peaceful place for myself here. I have coffee out on the balcony every morning. I look through the trees. I don't hear bombs or bullets. It's nice. I don't have to try not to get blown up today. I can't ever forget the wars I've been a part of, but I don't have to live there anymore."
He gets it, and I understand a little bit about that part of his journey.
We understand that some things are worth fighting for. Freedom from terrorism, tyranny and oppression. Freedom period. A future for the children. Living life. Yes, some things are worth a fight. So, I always will. I'll fight until the day we find a cure or the day I die, whichever comes first. I don't have the time or the luxury to retreat from the fight. Every morning my body wakes me up and it reminds me, in no uncertain terms, that I have this enemy- Lyme Disease- vying for complete control of my body. Lyme is stealthy, relentless, and pernicious but I am not afraid. Fighting it has become the norm, I'm accustomed to it now. The plan is to win the battle against this foe, but what does that look like in reality? Is there more to it than lab work, shots, IVs, medicines, antibiotics, vitamins, and a countertop that resembles a pharmacy? Yes, God, yes. There's more to this life than that!
It may not look like I'm cured in this lifetime. But, what if I can forget the pain, forget the hopelessness and forget the sadness? What would happen if, like my son, I choose on any given day to remember the joy and refuse to take for granted the little things that really matter?
Oh the simple joys of living! How many times pre-Lyme did I take coffee and a sunrise on the balcony for granted?
A walk through a Colorado meadow at dusk. The smile of a friend and hugging them tight. Riding on a horse or a Harley and feeling truly free as the wind whips and tangles my hair all around. The scent of new rain on thirsty fields of alfalfa. Being curled up under a blanket, squealing over a scary scene in a movie. Watermelon. Camping. Boat rides. Hot cocoa in the winter. Bobbing for apples in the fall. Christmas morning. Laughing so hard your sides ache. Inside jokes that will always, always make you laugh no matter how many times you've heard them. The scent of jasmine in the summertime. A farmer's market. A starry night. A slow kiss. The little pink belly of a new puppy and how their breath smells.
Then there are the innumerable other moments so special and alive with promise that you want to live them over and over again until your last breath. All those little things are what make life so very beautiful and special, God forbid we take them for granted ever again! 
So, Dear God, please make my last breath on this earth arrive when I'm old and gray with laugh lines a-plenty on my wrinkly, smiling face. Please let me live to see my grandchildren's children playing on my kitchen floor with some new-fangled toys that surprise and delight them. 
I just want to live. Please God, let that happen. 
So I will remember the blessed, sacred moments that some would deem ordinary. I will remember God's goodness and grace towards me. 
The pain, the despair, and agony Lyme has caused? I'll just forget it. 

xoxo

My List

Lisa Williams

Today while deep in the throws of discouragement I began counting. I counted and I typed up a list. It includes a lot of numbers and statistics. It's very impressive, my list.
Take the number fourty-seven.
That's the number of years since the initial tick bite with bulls-eye rash on my arm, ignored due to lack of public education on Lyme and tick-borne illnesses.
Then there's lucky number 13. Here we are 13 years post correct diagnosis. I'm still positive for Borrelia Burgdorferi, Babeosis, Bartonella, and Chlamydia Pneumonia. (Not the sexually transmitted kind- this is a common co-infection of Lyme.)
I've seen 32 doctors, including a Psychologist (Because, you know, Lyme Disease is "All in your head".) Infectious Disease specialists, Ophthalmologist, Cardiologists, Neurologists, 10 different Lyme specialists, OBGYN, General Practitioners, ENT, Rheumatologist, Endocrinologist, Homeopathic physicians, and Naturopathic doctors.
(Why all these? Because Lyme affects every single component within the body. Every. Single. One.)
3  Physical Therapists.
4 Lymph Massage Therapists.
1 Nutritionist.
3 in-home nurses.
21 protocols.
3 central lines.
Approximately 527, 984 lab tests.
7 MRI's.
4 CAT scans.
2 Brain Spect scans.
7 hospitalizations.
Countless ER visits.
Heart stress tests, lost count.
CD-57 tests, lost count.
Enough blood drawn to feed the Cullen family for all eternity.

Results? Many treatment failures and I'm still fighting to live.

My list goes on.

I just want 1, count them, one, normal life.   
I want to wake up on any given Tuesday at 6am and get ready for work, like I used to.
Casual Fridays.
Clients who want to exchange recipes or send you a gift basket after your project for them is completed.
I want to run out of mascara faster because I use it every day. 
Bad hair days, runners in my stockings, driving in the snow. Grocery lists, burnt toast, phone ringing, dog barking and "Honey I love you, see you tonight."
Normal-everyday-crazy-beautiful-life-stuff. 
I want a 40 hour work week and occasionally go in early to get a project completed on time.
I'll make our lunches and scurry out the door hoping all the lights are green and swear under my breath at some joker who could quite possibly give me road rage if my office wasn't just on the left. I'll drink really strong coffee and talk too much during early morning conference meetings. I'll discuss IT stuff again, and understand blade servers and actually remember what I used to know that is now lost somewhere in the abyss of the damage that Lyme did to my brain.
There are memories I'll never get back. Things I once learned that are completely gone now.  
In my normal life, I won't forget to stop by Sprouts on my way home to pick up some cilantro and lettuce because we're having tacos tonight, that I will make because I have the energy of a normal, healthy woman. 
I'll greet my husband with a slow kiss that makes him remember one of the reasons he married me. Then I'll serve a scrumptious meal and we will talk about our work day together. Maybe we'll watch NCIS later and afterwards I'll iron my blouse and skirt for tomorrow. 

A normal life. Normal. What does that even mean?
After thirteen years Lyme Disease is normal for us. We don't have the luxury of not thinking about it every single day. If we forget, I'll die. It's that simple and that complicated. I am now a disabled woman. Some mornings I wake up and I can't feel my legs. I need help making it across the room. Many doctors have told me working full or part time could cause me to severely decline. I don't get a choice in the matter, I can't work anymore. I miss it. 

While I was counting, I decided to count my blessings, too.

Inner circle of friends who've seen me fighting Lyme at it's absolute worst.- 6.
Number of people praying for me- Innumerable.
People who love me and prove it with actions- Innumerable.
Times I've laughed and smiled in the past 13 years- Innumerable. 

So that settles it I guess. My blessings really do outweigh the other stuff I face daily. So, I will look defeat in the eyes and tell him to get lost. He'll hang out for a little while longer before he scrams, but he'll go. He'll probably try again another day to rattle me to my core. He won't win, and for that, I thank the immeasurable amount of love surrounding me this very day. Love so great, there's no room to count it on any list. There'd never be enough paper or ink for that list.   

Thank you, friends. Thank You, God.

xoxo

Why I fight

Lisa Williams

There are days (Like today) when I don't want to fight anymore. Yes, they happen. I feel anything but strong today.  
I'm beyond exhausted, just so tired of it all. I experience moments when I feel I may lose it if I see so much as one more shot, pill, or MRI machine. I'm not saying I'm a hero by any means, but even prize champions can get wounded in a fight. Even special forces teams have to rest once in a while. It's part of the job.

I didn't sign up for this. I was drafted against my will for this war. I went to boot camp dragging my heels and inwardly griping the entire time.

One day, thirteen years ago, a very wise Lyme specialist said to me, "Lisa, when Lyme has gone this long without treatment and gotten this much of an advance against you, it's next to impossible to beat. We have an arsenal of antibiotics against this beast, but you're going to have to be diligent. You've never seen a war like this one. You're going to have to buckle down and fight like your life depends on it. Because, it does. And you do not have the luxury of forgetting that fact. I want you to remember, daily, why you fight. Why do you fight, Lisa? That question may very well keep you alive."

I fight Lyme for moments like:

Holding my grandchildren for the first time and watching them all grow.

Being bundled beneath the covers while watching snow fall outside the loft window.

Laughing so hard with my best friends that my sides hurt.

Hearing the same jokes over and over again but you laugh anyway.

Inside jokes.

Colorado thunderstorms.

Good movies.

Kissing Chuck.

Slow dancing in the kitchen.

Harley Davidson motorcycles. ( I do not own one but, I mean, come on!)

Being there when my sons returned from war.

Sister trips to the coast.

My Aunt Jean's fried chicken, which I swear could bring world peace.

Baseball games.

Cousins.

Making lasagna dinner for my besties.

Karaoke!

Horseback riding.

Hay rides.

Aspens.

Christmas time.

Texas.

California.

The possibility of swimming with dolphins, seeing Paris and touching the Western Wall in Israel.

Crème Brulee. (If it's made right it's worth fighting for, y'all.) 

I love what the character Rocky says to his son in the movie Rocky Balboa:

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place, and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that! I'm always gonna love you, no matter what. No matter what happens. You're my son and you're my blood. You're the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain't gonna have a life.”
Sylvester Stallone, Rocky Balboa

Truth is, there are a googolplex of reasons why I fight. Life is worth it, and there's so much I don't want to miss out on. I want to live to see my grandkids get married and hold their children. I want to live to help other people who have Lyme and to someday see a cure.
I want to live, for living's sake!
So, even when my body is battered and the pain is indescribable. When it feels as though I am absolutely losing and will not survive the week. When discouragement sneers at me. Even when hope is all but gone and I just want to go, I'll hold on, and I'll fight Lyme for moments like these; when I get to tell you...I love you.

 xoxo

What I've learned

Lisa Williams

 

I’ve learned that life goes on.

When tomorrow arrives with its coffee and routines more often than not none of the people in your world will take thought of your plight. And it’s not their fault.
They open their eyes to the sounds of a new day; morning news, phones ringing, subway musicians, social media, children rushing, dogs barking. Their busy lives might contain unwanted battles, too. 
Most people don’t have to think about whether or not their limbs will move, their brain is operating correctly, or if the pain will prevent them from otherwise manageable maneuvers. But for the Lyme warrior, you can’t afford not to think of it. You don’t get to have a day without Lyme. If you forget, you neglect to take premium care of yourself and that could lead to your own demise quite quickly.
I’ve learned that I have to budget my energy like I do my bank account. Otherwise, I’ll be overdrawn before morning is over.
Let’s say my energy is measured in dollars. Some mornings, I wake up in the red. Others, I have just enough to make it through the day alive so I have to purpose not to bounce checks. Then there are those rare instances when I find myself with extra. It’s so unlikely that I know this type of energy may never come again. So, like a kid who never gets allowance but just found a 10 spot, that energy is burning a hole in my pocket. What to do, what to do? Do I spend all that energy window shopping? Cooking? Go out all day? Take a drive? Go horseback riding? Oh, the possibilities seem endless!
I’ve been known to go-go-go until I crash and burn. I don’t mind. I know that tomorrow I will pay for playing today but, my God it’s been so long- just let me live!
I’ve learned that compassion towards myself goes a long way.  That includes things like allowing myself to sleep late without shame, setting limits and saying “no” to things I can’t do without guilt or trepidation.
I’ve learned that good health includes body, soul, and spirit. My mind and emotions must be cared for, too. I’m careful what I allow my eyes to see and ears to hear because they largely determine what my heart feels.
I’ve learned that having a chronic illness such as Lyme is dramatic enough all by itself. Even with the best of health, I wouldn’t allow drama instigators to be a part of my life, and with Lyme I’m even more protective of my peace. There’s occasionally going to be that one dude or dudette who’ll try to schlep into my world carrying their own drama. They’ll try to drag me right smack into the middle of it. My drama radar will sound the alarm, though, and before they can say “I want an Oscar,” I will kindly change their role in my life.
I’ve learned that laughing, kissing, hugging, and a good cup of coffee contain medicinal properties and that an occasional piece of dark chocolate won’t kill me.
I’ve learned that there’s a stark difference between being childish and childlike and the latter is life affirming. Building sandcastles, flying kites, and playing with puppies makes you feel better every time. Allowing your mood to dictate your manners doesn't.
I've learned...
Horses listen better than psychologists. Dogs love you if you cancel their walk or not, and secretly watching baby birds learning to fly can teach you more than any self-help book ever written. Some people will try to take advantage of your weakness and try to sell you anything from Aardvark chromosomes to Zebra pee to “cure” you of your disease. Yes, I’ve pretty much heard it all and I’ve had people actually become angry with me when I wouldn’t buy their magical "cure" for Lyme. I just “must not want to get well.” Um hum, sure.
Real friends show up when you’re going through the darkest time of your life and fake friends step out. It’s wonderful and sad simultaneously. Prayers keep you alive, simple love keeps you strong. A simple text or phone call can change your whole day and make it a million times better. Love means giving and receiving. Real friendship is a two-way street and lifetime friendships are what makes life worth living. Old movies are the best, bath bombs cause happiness, and the beach is better for your health than a hospital.
Most of all, I’ve learned that I’m always learning and the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know much at all. Except, perhaps, that no matter the question you’re seeking the answer to- the answer is love.

xoxo

 

The Worst Part

Lisa Williams

Today someone asked me, “What’s the worst part about having Lyme Disease?”

I paused as a galaxy of thoughts shot through my brain like a meteor shower.

The worst part?

You mean besides being in extreme pain 24/7 and having to learn how to hide that from the public eye? Could it be the constant migraine headaches, or the sensation that my muscles are literally on fire? How about the inability to concentrate?

Imagine searing bone pain. Feeling like you’ve got the worst flu in the history of ever. The inability to have a normal body temperature. You either feel hypothermic or like you're living in the twelfth realm of Middle-Earth Mordor.

Then you have unexpected weight gain or loss because your own immune system has turned against your thyroid. There are lumps just below the surface of your skin that burn like a bee sting if they are touched. Hugging someone can be excruciating. Your internal organs ache as though you’ve been brutally beaten.  

Imagine exhaustion such as you’ve never experienced before. It’s like cement blocks, weighing down your limbs. Mere walking is exhausting. Now imagine that feeling when you’ve just come out of surgery and the anesthesia hasn’t worn off yet. You struggle to focus, think or remember. Yesterday is a blur. Otherwise simple activities; reading a book, cooking a meal or driving a car prove impossible for you. 

Don’t forget that you are suddenly allergic to nearly every food and chemical out there. Going into public places poses a risk to you. God forbid you should run into anyone who is sick, because your immune system's function is no longer at full capacity. 

Now picture another 10-20 symptoms on top of that.

Then, imagine losing your job and your ability to make a living. Your home, and everything you once loved about your life is all at risk—because you can no longer function. Imagine being isolated and confined to your house, for years. Imagine no longer being able to go anywhere except an occasional trip to the grocery store; attend gatherings, parties or events, travel or essentially “have a life.”

Then there’s the emotional aspect of Lyme disease. Feeling so misunderstood and judged that you want to disappear. I’ve actually had people say things like “Well, there must be some hidden sin in your life that is making you sick.” One woman, after asking me if I was cheating on my husband went on to say, “Well, if you don’t know the sin that is making you sick and making God punish you, you’re just not looking hard enough.”
Seriously?
Some people don’t want to hang out with me for fear they will “catch” Lyme. Rather than educate themselves, they choose to shun me.  I’m rarely invited anywhere, to anything. Most people have stopped visiting. It’s easy to feel completely forgotten.

After my initial diagnosis in 2005 I remember thinking, This is great. I have an infectious disease and there are antibiotics to treat it. This could all be completely reversible. There’s a name for it. There’s a treatment for it. In a few weeks, I’ll get beyond this!

Here I am 13 years later and I still require treatment to stay alive, and after all this time, some of my own family members and friends still don’t believe me.

“You’re not sick,” they glibly say. “All that’s happened is you lost some hair and gained some weight. Big deal!”

You may drop your pride and ask for help, hoping against hope that if you just explain yourself better, they might understand your desperate plight. Yet because you haven’t been diagnosed with cancer or some other horrible disease that is widely understood, coupled with the fact that you don’t “look sick”, they don’t extend a hand to help. They are committed to misunderstanding, making you feel even more alone if that’s even possible. Some people even tire of your battle and abandon you. Those that don’t, may insinuate that you’re depressed; that you need to exercise or get out more, or just take a pill and "get over it". Occasionally, you can go out for a social event; or maybe you are well enough to get on a plane to visit friends or family in another state. You’re even heard laughing sometimes, so, what’s the big deal? Everyone gets tired now and then and has a bad day, right? Right?

Except you now have a bad day, every day of your life. And your bad days aren’t just about a sore body from working out or getting over a cold or the flu. Daily, every organ and system of your body malfunctions and affects basic bodily functions that others take for granted. Things like, being able to breathe, go to the bathroom, or stand up for more than a few minutes at a time are...like climbing Mount Everest.

True some days are better than others, but symptom-wise, none of your days are great. You seldom, if ever, awaken with energy; pain is your daily companion, and trying to remember yesterday is impossible. Other symptoms come and go, and they vary from day to day, or month to month, in their intensity. But they never go away. Never completely.
So, you’re left in this war and you’re praying to God you’re not alone in it.

Thankfully, most of the people in my little world have shown their love and support in amazingly generous ways. I have an awesome support system, but many just like me do not. I pray for them and I hope you will, too.

So, what’s the worst part of this evil disease? For me, it’s none of the above.

The worst part, for me, is trying to convince another person that they could be just one tick bite away from getting Lyme.

Try telling the scoffer that Lyme is the fastest spreading infectious disease in the USA. Try not to lose your mind when your loved ones won’t, for whatever reason, use tick repellent when they go into the woods or grassy areas. It’s like believing that car accidents only happen to other people and the foolishness of that thought process is of grandiose proportions.

Lyme disease is a tsunami and it’s heading your way. I’ve got a higher view than you. I've got experience with these storms. You’re at sea-level and I’m a helicopter pilot. I’m lowering the craft and reaching out my hand to you. I’m pointing out the impeding danger. I’m offering you an escape, trying to save your life and you’re in denial that it’s even there much less that it is going to mow you down. You and your children can be saved but you behave as if it’s all some sort of joke.

 In my mind, that’s utter hell because I can prevent you from going through the infectious equivalent of Cancer, but you’re ignoring me. Please, I beg of you, stop the madness!
It’s not that hard. Just use tick repellent. Check for ticks and know the warning signs.

And please, listen to the Lyme Warrior. Stop judging that which you don’t understand. Simply standing with the broken and saying “I believe you.” can change everything for someone like me.

Thanks for reading. xo

 

 

Love is enough

Lisa Williams

Ask anyone who knows me well, being still is not my forte. My parents had my big sisters and I doing chores and pitching in at young ages. We didn't get allowance. We were made to understand that this was simply part of being a family and it took all of us to make it operate well. I worked in the large garden we had, pulling weeds and gathering our little harvest in the hot summer sun.
Us girls painted the picket fence each summer, fed the horses, groomed them, fed the chickens, and gathered eggs. Mom taught me to cook at around age ten.
Work was (is) a part of who I am and it's always made me feel better about myself.
Back in 2005, when a team of four Lyme specialists told me I would have to leave my job at Hewlett Packard and go on disability- it was hard to let go. It wasn't enough for me just to stay at home. 

"Lisa, if you don't rest through this process, you could die." they said.

Shortly afterwards, I resigned from singing on the praise team at my church in Denver. I missed it so much! It hurt because I felt utterly useless. Not being a part of ministry meant I wasn't contributing anything at all to my church.
God must be disappointed in me.
It wasn't enough. 
No. I wasn't enough.
I was "less than." Just fill in the blank. I was less than whatever or whoever you could think up.
Then in 2017 just 3 months after being crowned Mrs. International Elite with Today's International Woman Pageant, I had to relinquish my title due to this illness. I felt embarrassed, guilty, and lost. (They broke the rules and let me keep that gorgeous crown though!)
Recently, I was admonished to step down temporarily as CEO of Little Glimmer of Hope Foundation, the charity I co-founded with my husband in 2014. 
I'm letting everyone down. My clients. My board. Everyone, I thought.
Saying all of this has been difficult for me is an understatement. I would've never thought of it this way, but I've been in a grieving process over it. I simply could not let go.
I've felt tidal waves of worthlessness because a great deal of my worth was tied up in what I did or did not do. Resting just felt wrong. Whatever, "enough" was, I wasn't measuring up.
My board told me, "You have one job. Get well." My husband reasoned with me. My pastors counseled me. My best friend convinced me. Yet, I still couldn't let go and I couldn't figure out why. I mean I prayed and said "God, I'm letting go." I soon learned saying it and doing it are two entirely different paradigms.
Then, today while reading a book that a friend suggested entitled God's Best Kept Secret, I read this simple, yet profound truth.
"God does not determine who you are by what you do."
Whoa. Wait. Really? He doesn't? You mean to say He loves me just because I'm His child? I don't have to try harder, do better, make a difference, or go-go-go for Him to be my Father and adore me anyway? 
"His mercies are new every morning," my husband said. 
"You don't have to do anything for Him to love you. Lisa, you must let go! You'll only get sicker if you don't!" my best friend stated factually.
"You are loved unconditionally. You are safe." my pastors encouraged.
That seems too good to be real. But, please, God, let it be real.
"He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." Titus 3:5
My worth is determined by so much more than what I am capable of.
When I wake up in the morning, it's often not up to me as to what I am capable of. If I have to be somewhere by 9, I make sure I'm awake several hours ahead of time. I've showered the night before. I've got to give my body time to let me know what it will and will not do that day. It's not unusual to have no more strength than to simply lay down all day.
This is my world now, and although it's 100% harder than life pre-Lyme, I am grateful for air in my lungs and the ability to still be capable of doing what I can do.
What can I do though?
I can write. I can read. I can laugh and give a listening ear to a friend. I can talk with my grandchildren on the phone and hear their giggles. I can be a loyal friend to many. I can be a good wife to my husband.
I can choose joy.
Most importantly, I can love. I still have that ability and no person, no hardship, no challenge, no sickness, disease, or demon in hell can take that away from me.
When I buy into the lie that I am what I do, I live in a state of identity crisis. There's so much more to every single one of us than what we can or cannot do.
"And now abide faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love."
I've lost the ability to do a great many things, but I have not lost the ability to love. As long as I have this heart beating, I still have the ability to love on this earth.

Giving it away, receiving it, basking in it. I have learned, Love is enough. It is the foundation and cornerstone of all that we are, because God is Love. Love overcomes obstacles you didn't even know you had. Love has enabled me to accept myself the way I am right in this minute, weaknesses and all. To love is a hard quest at times, but God's Love is a Comrade who will walk this life's cadence with you to a rhythm you can understand. And when you're worn thin and cannot walk, Love will carry you. When you're alone and lonely as if you're on the outside looking in, Love will invite you in with open arms and give you a seat at the most elaborate banquet table you've ever seen. Love will show you that you're accepted and worthy.

My fragmented heart is being made whole because of Love and it is enough.

xoxo

Full speed ahead

Lisa Williams

My sons had just left for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Special Forces. Infantry. Front lines of war, boots on the ground.
That's when the diagnosis came. Late Stage Lyme. I didn't know how serious it was until a team of doctors explained it to my husband and I in great detail. 
I was shell shocked to say the least. I had two wars to fight now. Theirs and mine.
A young man never goes to war alone, his family is in a war, too. His mother will pace the floors at night waiting, wondering and hoping for the safe return of her child. She will freak out and have nightmares. She will weep. A lot. She will tremble with each news report but she will never give up.
To think of them, the very reasons for my heart beat, to be fighting over there, for the freedom of another country. For freedom from terrorism and oppression. Good God, how do you get through a single minute much less a day- wondering if your only children are dead or alive? I'm still not sure how any of us did it.
My sons, they are the pulse within my veins, the reason I breathe. Better women than me have prayed for the return of their sons just as hard as I did and yet, theirs came home in a box. It seems so wrong for me to be happy that mine came home, when theirs didn't.
Thirteen years later, it still seems wrong and unjust. There are just some questions that have no answers I guess.
How do I explain to my sons that I may not make it? That this disease has run amok in my body and is taking over my brain? How do I tell them that they could come home to no mother?
I refused to say it. I refused to allow my words to cause them one nanosecond of stress which could've been a reason for their concentration to shatter. They needed to focus on the task at hand. My news could've been their undoing.
No. I wouldn't. I didn't. 
The thought occurred to me that while they were fighting terrorists over there, that I was fighting one no less stealthy. I had to win, for them.

“Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!” yelled Admiral David Farragut, who had latched himself atop the mainsail to see above the smoke.
His fleet of wooden ships with hulls wrapped in chains, and his four iron-clad monitors, were attacking Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864.
When one of his ships, the Tecumseh, sank after hitting an underwater mine and called a torpedo, his fleet faltered in confusion.
Farragut rallied his troops, chose to fight harder than ever before, and drove them on to capture the last Confederate stronghold in the Gulf of Mexico.
Today, thirteen years after my initial diagnosis, I am still in the trenches. I have not advanced. All that has happened, according to test results and doctor's reports is, they've managed to keep me alive. 
Alive. It cannot mean just to fight to live another day. Alive has to mean to really live life! There's more to this life than merely being in a fight all the time. Even Special Forces teams get R & R.  Rest and recuperation. Yes, please and thank you. 
No military man is required to fight 24/7 with no break. Nobody can do that. When my sons were on leave they would often write home more than usual. They would try to have some fun. They would sleep more. They would find solace and peace in the company of their comrades.
Superman rested, Wonder Woman rested and they aren't even real! Their creators knew that it would seem too unrealistic to the reader to dismiss the need for rest even for a superhero. 
Even God rested on the seventh day. He is real.
Did He need it? Not likely. However, He set an example for His creation, saying to us, "It's OK to rest."
When my sons came home from physical war, it wasn't over for them when their boots landed on friendly soil. It's not that easy. They were more like eagles who flew back to the safety of their nests, only to find a hurricane was approaching. PTSD is a __itch of a war to fight. I saw my father contend with it. He once told me that although he returned from the Korean War in his early 20's, the flashbacks and nightmares continued well into his 70's. I guess my war isn't going to be over very easily either.
Dad once said, "That's just a part of war, a price you pay for freedom from tyranny. War is hell. No man in his right mind wants a war...but it's part of what must be done to keep terrorism and tyranny from our shores. Yet, terrorism is here. We must be vigilant. In your war against Lyme, you must be vigilant. I know you're afraid sometimes, but you've got warrior blood running through your veins. You have what it takes. You can win."

I believe him.  So, I fight. Daily. And, I rest, which is not a passive event when you must do it in order to live. I'll do every single thing, big or small, in my power in order to win. Live or die, I will cultivate joy, friendships, and show forth love to this hurting world. I'll try my best to educate civilians (Non-Lyme Warriors) so that there are less casualties from this Goliath called Lyme. 

I want to shout it from the rooftops; "I am not afraid! Damn the torpedoes, Love is my battle cry, so full speed ahead!" 

xoxo

Dear Daily Conqueror

Lisa Williams

Dear Daily Conqueror,

Who are you? Do you know? Do you sometimes forget? Or, do you sometimes remember, who you are? Friend, it's crucial that you know. Otherwise, you're in danger of believing any little old thing about yourself that isn't based in truth.
So many times, you're the brave one who is fighting something bigger than you are, and you're not quite sure if you can win. You can, if you don't give up, you really can.
Maybe you're the mother, the father, the child, or the caregiver of someone who is going through a severe trial today.
Sometimes, you hurt. Some days, your emotions are spent.
Anyone who is fighting for anything worth fighting for, well,  you know you just have to take one thing and one day at a time in order to conquer, so that you can forge through in this cadence called life.
Be encouraged, Warrior. Life holds good and bad for all of us. It's how we choose to walk through life that matters. We can choose to hang our heads low or hold our heads high. Looking down will surely cause you to get tripped up because you're not watching out for what's in front of you. If you forget to look up, you could miss your blessing! 
Look up! In looking up, you will see clearer. You'll be able to express your gratitude easier because you'll see your blessings a whole lot easier.  See, when we fix our gaze on the prize before us rather than the problem at hand, we gain the ability to gaze into the eyes of the end result; the victory. The end of the tunnel is not always an oncoming train. There's help and hope to be found. Reach out to help someone else, too, because more often than not that's where the joy is.
Beautiful Conqueror, you are special. You are needed here on this earth and you are worth fighting for. So don't forget to remember that you can adopt the attitude of a warrior. Oh I don't mean you're ready for a fight all the live long day. Living life as a daily conqueror doesn't mean being hard hearted. You've got to find out what it means for you though. Consequently, you'll learn to fight your own battles with dignity and consistency until one day you can look back and shout your victory cry. Or, maybe your victory will light upon you so gently that you'll reminisce with quiet wonder of last year or last month or yesterday and how you made it through. You'll say to yourself, "I'm winning." And you will be.  

I want to remind you that even in the midst of the battle, you are loved deeply and cared about.
Even if you feel there's not so much as one person in this whole wide world who loves you, rest assured that there is a God who does. Maybe you've heard that God loves you but you find it hard to believe because of all you've been through. What if...in spite of all that, it's true that He does love you? What if He loves you more than your mind can comprehend? Friend, He does. He's so crazy about you! If He had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. He's not some ogre waiting to bop you on the head for every little thing you might get wrong. He's gentle, He's kind, and He's powerful and mighty all at once and one does not diminish the other.
I hope you'll remember that and let it sink in as you walk forward.

xo

 

 

Love is alive

Lisa Williams

Since my dad passed on December 10th, I simply haven't been myself. Occasionally, I've been short tempered, weepy, and often extraordinarily fatigued. You know, normal grieving stuff.

My mom died when I was much younger, for that and other reasons, I've always been a "Daddy's Girl".

My Dad and I had a jagged relationship when I was a child, on through to my early adult years.

That is, until I finally understood what P.T.S.D. is.

Through no fault of his own, my dad carried a mountainous weight from serving in the Korean War. He saw atrocities and experienced horrors the likes of which no human being should ever have to be a part of. After he was honorably discharged, he experienced nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, survivor guilt, and deep seated hurt and anger for many years post war.
War had left it's mark on him. How could it not? It would've done the same to any one of us.

As a kid, I just thought he didn't love me. He couldn't explain what he was going through, heck he didn't even understand it himself. How do you articulate the realities of war to a civilian who has never seen a battlefield? Much less to your own children? There was no diagnosis back then, and no help to be found.

When I was thirty-two, Dad shared with me certain parts of his story. I was horror-struck and yet honored that he would trust me enough to invite me into that part of his world. That place of agony. That hidden precipice, behind the wall he so diligently built and dutifully maintained all those years. He was the weary watchman on his own walls. He tried so hard not to let anyone in. He was so afraid. He wondered who in their right mind could possibly understand and love his fragmented soul? Then he found out that God did. And his family did.

One miraculous day, he let his defenses down long enough to tell me. I'm still not quite sure how it happened. He must've felt safe somehow.  He asked me to forgive him for the pain of my childhood. He took responsibility for his part of that pain. I did forgive him and I never took it back. He told me parts of his story that helped me understand why he was who he was.

We wept together and it was the beginning of healing for both of us. He told me that the prayers of his mother and the grace of Almighty God were the only reasons he had any sanity left at all.  

Since that day, we grew closer over the years. The same man I had run away from as a young girl, became a safe place I ran to as a young woman. My father became one of my best friends.

Now, I've learned that grief is just love with no place to go.

I want to call him. I still have his number in my phone and I can't bring myself to delete it. I want to tell him the funny thing that my grandkids said the other day. I want to tell him that I made his baked salmon recipe and ask him how much brown sugar and butter I'm supposed to use for the glaze, even though I know the recipe by heart.

More than anything I just miss hearing his southern drawl. Phrases like "fixing to" and "pert' near".  I even miss his grouchiness at the paper boy for missing the porch. I miss...loved, our father-daughter talks. They went on sometimes for hours before his mind began leaving us.  We'd talk about anything or nothing and he would always, always offer encouragement whether I needed it or not. It seemed every talk circled right on back to when we lived on the San Joaquin river in California. Horseback riding and barrel racing. Merle or Johnny Cash playing on the radio. Playing horseshoes in the warm summer evenings, eating watermelon right off the vine from the garden, and hearing the river rush by when the water was high. God, I miss those days.

I remember in the early 70's when he got a CB Radio. It was all the rage. So modern! I can still hear him call out, "Breaker, Breaker, one-niner. Good buddy, ten-four come ahhn." What I wouldn't give to skip back in time. Even for just a few minutes to hear him try to be wall-to-wall-and-tree-top-tall on that Citizens Band.

Greif comes in waves, and today I'm swimming in these bitter sweet waters. I was crying a lot this week. Not only is he gone, but at times, it feels as though his love is gone, too.
Then my husband, Chuck, reminded me; that would be impossible. 

"Father love never dies, Lis," he said, "The love is never gone."

If you've lost someone, if they have passed on- please let me remind you of that truth.

Real, pure love is always alive. It is the one thing that never dies. Real love... it's more powerful than you realize. It's really and truly always alive. Always. That means it's never, ever, ever, ever, gone. Love lives on.

My dad and mom, they live on. They're in my heart. Their love is never gone.

Love never dies. People do, but love lives on forever.

So, don't forget to remember, you are so very, very loved.

xoxo

The Fresher the Better, and Real is Best

Lisa Williams

I once was in a relationship with an aristocrat...er...man who was handsome and, at first, very charming. Spoiler alert: it ended badly. However, all was not lost because I learned some very valuable lessons along the way. During the course of our association, we were asked to a dinner party one evening.

"Can I bring anything?" I asked the hostess over the phone.

"It would be lovely if you could bring some sort of dessert," she replied. 

The Baking Force runs strong in my family, I thought with a smile. I have it and my mother had it.
 

I laughed to myself as I decided to make my not-your-everyday chocolate chip cookies. My very French mother, who had passed away just two years prior, had been an unbelievably magnificent chef pâtissier. She started in her mother's kitchen with recipes handed down through the years. Years later, from her own kitchen she created treats that would've rivaled Chef Pierre Hermé ‘The Picasso of pastry’. When I was still a teenager, my mother was called upon by local restaurants who wanted to purchase her delectable pies and cookies. In my memories, I can still see her in the kitchen with her apron on and powdered sugar floating in the air all around her.
I had many of her recipes and I knew these cookies would be a hit.  Nestlé Tollhouse had nothing on me! Mom used only the freshest and finest ingredients in her confections. She was often heard saying "The fresher the better" and "Real is best". Which is probably why she raised her own hens and grew a gigantic garden each year.
The aforementioned (ahem) gentleman offered to run to the grocery for my ingredients which included real butter,  Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate chips, fresh eggs from the dairy, pure vanilla extract, vanilla beans, cake flour, dark brown sugar, and white sugar.
I gave him two twenty dollar bills from my purse because those ingredients tend to be expensive. I thanked him for his help and he was on his way. About an hour later he returned and I began to unpack the goods he bought and placed them on the countertop.

Wait. What?
Margarine? Whaaa..? Imitation vanilla flavoring? Imitation chocolate chips. Do they even make these? Regular flour, not refined. Generic sugars, both dark and light. No vanilla beans and egg substitute? What in the actual history of the world have you done?

"Just what in the Sam Hill am I supposed to make with this pile of garbage?"  I challenged.

He handed me my change, his eyebrows imitating Spock.

"Aren't you glad I know how to shop better than you? I mean, come on! Cake flour is almost twice as expensive than regular plain old flour. And vanilla beans are like seven bucks just for one. For one! Don't even get me started on the cost of pure vanilla, and there's no way I was driving all the way across town just for eggs laid this morning! Eggs are eggs, but egg substitute isn't so fattening. Neither is the margarine. You don't really want all that fat in your recipe do you? Geeze! Ingredients aren't going to matter that much and believe me, nobody will notice the difference. Besides, I just saved you a lot of money! At least one of us knows how to shop! And don't worry, I can teach you how to shop the right way."
Although I had plenty to say, in silence, I quickly stuffed the sewage he had just purchased back into the brown paper bag, marched out the door, and returned everything to the store. I then proceeded to get everything on my list for the cookies.
Later on at the party, the cookies received such accolades I felt like I was at the Oscars! Between complements, I observed him. He smirked and slightly cringed every time someone gave me kudos. Throughout the evening, I saw things clearly. The blinders had come off. Way off. I saw that not only was he shallow and pompous; He was as phony as the imitation ingredients he had purchased. The jaunty, forced laughter at jokes, that knowing him, he would not find funny in the least. How his voice suddenly became deeper when an attractive woman joined his little clique. However, the deal breaker was when he didn't know I was on the other side of a wall, close enough to hear his every word. It was then that he told another dinner guest there how much he wished he could sleep with her that night, but doggone it, he was stuck with me.
I informed him in no uncertain terms that he was hereby "unstuck", and left the party.

That night, I learned that what my mother always said wasn't only true for pastries.

The fresher the better. Life is too short to waste your time in staleness. If a river doesn't run, it becomes lifeless and stagnant. Life is too beautiful not to enjoy it's sweetness. I won't allow myself to become stuck having to settle for milk-and-water love, work, activities, friendships, or food for that matter.

Real is best. Oh Mom, you've no idea how right you were! The fakers, the phonies, and the counterfeits, I've come across them all. Mom taught me not only to be transparent, honest, open, and genuine, but to never accept anything less from those I allow into my world.

I've taken these life truths into every area of my life, including how I fight for my life due to having Lyme disease. I choose to be completely open and transparent regarding this battle. Not for attention or pity, but because Lyme is the fastest spreading infectious disease in the world. It's highly misunderstood and often misdiagnosed. There are countless people walking around sicker than sick, some are dying as I type this. They are without answers, having no clue what in the world is the matter with them. Maybe, just maybe, being vitreous about it all will not only bring awareness regarding prevention, but save lives as well.

Sometimes being this open is risky. There are those who will choose to misunderstand. Others will hate on you for no earthly reason. Let them. I will stay true to the love and passion in my soul, to just be me, to be fresh and real. 

For me, living authentically has always been worth it. Just like the cookies were. 

 xoxo

To the ones who do not have Lyme

Lisa Williams

 

At Little Glimmer of Hope Foundation, both my husband and I work with people who have Lyme disease in one stage or another. Many of these people are fighting for their lives.

Fighting and fighting and fighting. Through the excruciating physical pain, through the emotional fallout. Through the darkness and brain fog. Every. Single. Day. 

It can be...traumatic.

Did you know that Cancer and Lyme disease have quite a bit in common? Lyme should be regarded as seriously as Cancer. Yes, really. 

None of these precious human beings whom we work with asked for Lyme or did anything wrong to make them get Lyme. It's just something that happened to them against their will.

Being diagnosed with an illness that turns your entire world upside down is emotional to say the least. A large percentage of my job at Little Glimmer of Hope Foundation is to be someone who just listens to people who are hurting, and to offer them some hope and a prayer. Sometimes I'm on the phone all day talking people down from the rafters.

People die from this disease. Horrible, slow, painful deaths. It isn't a joke. It's not like a cold or the flu that you can just "get over".

One precious lady told me that never in her life has she felt so misunderstood. If you have Lyme, you get it. 

Someone close to her told her to "Stop being so emotional about it."

To those people who are not fighting for their lives and who do not have Lyme, may I respectfully say this on behalf of my clients: 

Every human being is born with emotions. Emotions are a part of your physiological makeup. We cannot simply "dismiss" them.  If you could, you'd be a robot. If you feel something; love, joy, peace, anger, grief, frustration, glee, sympathy, horror, compassion, trepidation...these don't make you right or wrong. They are simply feelings. It's okay to express them, even anger and frustration; as long as you're not hurting yourself or anyone else.

For example, I can say to a person, "That makes me angry", without being disrespectful, name calling, or behaving in an abusive manner. Having feelings, or expressing emotion does not make you weak. In fact, not expressing them and holding everything inside can make you physically and psychologically sick. Having strong emotions after being diagnosed with a life threatening illness is normal.

Please, have compassion. Offer help. Step up to the plate and do whatever you can to make this person's journey easier. Make a meal, do some dishes, clean a house, bring some groceries, donate to their fund raising because Lyme is flat expensive. Tell your friend that you believe them, for pity's sake. How about reading a book on Lyme so that you can relate to what they are going through? Knowledge is power.   

There is no cure for Lyme. Yet. And the journey to wellness is a long and arduous one. Some of us will be fighting this for the rest of our lives. It's beyond hard. We are not faking it.

Don't tell your friend or loved one with Lyme, “Oh, I know somebody who has Lyme, I’ll give you their phone number and you can talk to them!” That reply right there is just wrong on so many levels. It makes a Lyme victim feel even more alone because they just needed you to hear and accept them right where they are today.

I can guarantee you that the person who just found out they have Lyme is terrified. All or most of the things that they used to be able to do are gone now. Their entire life just changed. They need you to do more than say you care. They need you to prove it. Today.

When I was first diagnosed with Late Stage Lyme, some days I wondered if the tears would ever stop. Some days I was just angry at all the things going on within my body that were completely out of my control. It was the people who would just love me anyway that helped heal my broken spirit.
If your loved one has Lyme and they are crying, just let them. You've got to learn to be okay with how horrible this is. Just sit with them in loving silence if you don't know what to say. Asking if you can stay with them means the world to them – you have no idea how much your simple presence means. One of the best things you can do is to verbally remind the person with Lyme, why they should keep fighting.
Speak your love to them. Speak your strength. Speak your compassion. You are their link to normalcy.

Lyme can last longer than sympathy, but only if you let it. Please, be kind.  

xoxo

When Truth pays a visit

Lisa Williams

Here we are ten days in. Drinking coffee in my loft, I was contemplating these two words: New Year.

New. Year.

What's so new about it? I thought.

Then, something occurred to me. A truth occurred to me. So simple, yet, it snuck up on me like an unexpected friend who pays you a surprise visit from out of town.

You hear a faint sound and wonder what it could be. You turn, and there is your dear friend, suitcase in hand, come to pay a visit. She's smiling this big goofy grin. You embrace. You may even shed a tear or at the very least get misty eyed over this unexpected rarity.

Truth visited me. I just love it when she comes over!

Truth, sweet Truth, what have you to teach me today?

Your New Year doesn't feel "New" because you have yet to release the old.

I quieted my soul and listened as Truth wrapped her arms around me and continued to speak.

Every past year of your life is gone. Whatever did or didn't happen within that time frame is out of your control now. You are older than you've ever been and younger than you'll ever be in this very moment. Every defeat is over, every victory archived. Every year has it's laughter and tears but you've got to relinquish it all if you want to move forward. Look ahead rather than behind you. There's a reason why all cars have huge windshields and small rearview mirrors. You are not meant to look behind you in order to go forward, and forward you must go. 

You feel as though you should be further along in your journey by now and you chide yourself for not being stronger, braver, healthier, and more alive. Yet, you've forgotten something very important and that is why I'm here.

I want to remind you that you are still becoming who you were meant to be. That you are beautiful right in this moment, and you are enough. You've got some areas of your life that still need attending to, sure. The truth is, everyone does. No, really. Everyone. None of us have "arrived", no, not even one. But, Dear Warrior, no matter what you have or have not done, no matter what has happened to you….yours is a radiant soul worthy of love and respect.
Nothing that you have done can make your Heavenly Father love you less. Nothing you do now can make Him love you more. You see, He is Love. He thought it up. His love for you is already perfect, whole, immeasurable, and everlasting. Contained within His love is everything you need for your joy and peace of mind.

You're feeling discouraged because you're still clinging to yesterday's "What ifs".  Let them go. Some "What ifs" are harder to let go of than others. Some you'll be able to pitch away like a baseball, with a quick and powerful release. Some will require a more delicate dismissal. It's alright to go slower. Like a child with a kite. First you must wait for wind. Then you release first the kite itself, then you'll let out the string. When it's out of your sight, when you've stopped focusing on it alone, then you'll have the strength to let go of the tail and bequeath it to the skies. 

It's all okay, as long as you are willing to do what is required to surrender that which is no longer meant for you.

Haggard thought processes. Hurt feelings. Unforgiveness. Expectations. Settling. Resentment. Disappointments. Fake friendships. Cast those things off of yourself into His hands. Walk away from it all, and go where the peace and love are. Look ahead and watch God's promises unfold. Because nothing that you've experienced in yesterday has the power to nullify any of His promises for you. His plan for you is still there; active, alive, and always good.

When God designed His plan for your life, it was never dependent on your ability to be perfect. Your mistakes are not a shock to Him and He will often use them as a launching pad for your greatest calling.

Relying on God is not a once and for all type of occurrence. It begins again every day, remembering and receiving His mercies. Don't forget to remember that they are brand spanking new every single morning. When you opened your eyes today- yesterday, with all it's pain and glory was gone...and His mercy is new.

Let your footfall land upon His mercies as though they are stepping stones to a fresh new beginning. You don't need to fight for this, it is His gift to you. Even if there've been times in the past when you've been out of His will, you've never been out of His care.
Go forward, Beloved. You are so very loved.

Thank you, Truth. Thank You, God.
 

 xoxo

The Power to be Sensitive

Lisa Williams

 I contracted Lyme disease when I was 12 years old. I didn't know what was wrong with me, my parents knew nothing of Lyme, therefore it was never treated.
I fell into depression some four years later, due to fatigue and physical pain. The depression lasted about a year. During this time, my parents took me to a psychologist. He told all three of us during one appointment, that I was a normal sixteen-year-old girl, except for one thing.

I was highly sensitive.

Great. Just great. Why can't I be tougher?

If you've ever been criticized because of this, you know how it goes. You're told that you are too sensitive, that you need to "Toughen up". Your sensitivity is seen as a curse by others. If that's you, then read on, this blog is for you. 

Not really knowing what my Highly Sensitive "Condition" was all about, my parents asked questions. As it turns out, there is actually research on this innate trait, high sensitivity. The scientific term is “sensory-processing sensitivity" (SPS). People who are highly sensitive are born that way; it is not something they learned.

As children they might be described by teachers as shy or inhibited, especially in Western countries. As adults, they might be described as introverts. It is important to note that not all sensitive people are shy or introverts. In fact, 30% of HSP are thought to be extroverts.

I fall into that 30% category. However, although I am an extrovert, I possess many qualities of an introvert.

A HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) : 

Has a rich and complex inner life

Is deeply moved by the arts and music

Gets easily overwhelmed

Has difficulty performing a task when being observed

Easily startles

Is sensitive to pain, caffeine, and hunger

Is attuned to inner bodily sensations

Readily notices sensory change

Is highly intuitive, especially with parental intuition which is often termed psychic

Has sensitive skin

Is highly sensitive to chemicals

Is empathic- that is they can literally, physically, feel the pain of others.

May have premonitions in dreams and visions that come to pass days later. (Yes, this happens to me, often.)

When an HSP first enters a room, they are the first to notice odors, subtle sounds, and "feels" if there has been a recent argument in that room, and they startle easily.

When an HSP watches a movie or TV series, they immerse themselves in each of the characters. It takes them days to recalibrate their sense of self after watching a horror or scary movie. For these reasons, they usually refuse to watch these types of shows.

They are easily affected by others’ moods and stories.

Here's the thing: The brain of a HSP is different! They cannot help how they were born!

There are biological reasons for all the components of this trait. A HSP’s brain is wired differently and the nervous system is highly sensitive with a lower threshold for action. This hyper-excitability contributes to increased emotional reactivity, a lower threshold for sensory information (e.g. bothered by noise, or too much light), and increased awareness of subtleties (e.g. quick to notice odors).

There are also changes at the macro brain level. The areas associated with this trait greatly overlap with the brain areas that support empathy! Also, they have a hyperactive insula, which explains their heightened awareness of their inner emotional states and bodily sensations. This hyperactivity explains their sensitivity to pain, hunger and caffeine.

There is also some recent evidence that this trait is related to the infamous 5-HTLPR gene (serotonin gene).

HSP's are:

Loyal and dedicated

Independent, need little supervision

Able to deeply process and think about problems

Great listeners

Detail-oriented

Organized

Fair

Sensitive to the needs and emotions of people around them

Observant to nuances, like the body language and tone of clients (therefore, intuitive)

Among other careers, HSP's are often found in the following fields:

Artist

Writer

Musician

Nurse

Massage Therapist

Veterinarian

Naturopath

Botanist

Forest Ranger

Photographer

Makeup Artist

Child care provider

Farmer

May I repeat; Highly Sensitive People DO NOT need to "toughen up". In fact, they cannot "harden" because they cannot rewire their brains.

These types of people are just as worthy of love and respect as those who are not HSP. They can learn from you, and you can learn from them. They often make excellent leaders, due to their compassion towards others and attention to detail. They are not weak, flaky, or wishy-washy.

They will often be open and share their troubles as openly as their victories for the purpose of helping others. They are often misunderstood as being weak for these reasons.

If you are an HSP, be encouraged! YOU are a treasure and this world needs more people like you! After all, you make up only 20-30% of this world's population. You are NOT a mess, you're a Highly Sensitive Person. There's POWER in that, such as the rest of the 70-80% of the population does not have.

Refuse to be offended when people call you "Too sensitive".  Feeling things deeply is your Super Power!
You're an empathetic superhero!

xoxo
 

References

Aron, E.N., Aron, A., Jagiellowicz, J., 2012. Sensory processing sensitivity: a review in the light of the evolution of biological responsivity. Pers. Soc. Psychol. Rev.16 (3), 262–282.

Pluess, M., Boniwell, I., 2015. Sensory-processing sensitivity predicts treatment response to a school-Based depression prevention program evidence of vantage sensitivity. Pers. Ind. Differ. 82, 40–45.

Homberg, J.R., Schubert, D. Asan, E. & Aron, E.N. (2016). Sensory porcessing sensitivity and serotonin gene variance: Insights into mechanisms shaping environmental sensitivity. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 71, 472-483