Making Records: of the not-so-good kind

I’ve taken quite a break from blogging as I’ve moved and have focused on settling into life and work and school. Learning from last summer, I’ve been working on balance – which means less writing for the moment. However, I thought I’d check in with my “record-breaking” news. Unfortunately, not of the good kind.

I have Mononucleosis, a.k.a. Mono. While most of the world contracts mono in their teens-twenties, I made my doctor’s record for being the oldest person she has diagnosed with mono – at age 33.

As unhappy of a diagnosis as it is, I’m grateful to know what-in-the-world is going on with my body. Oh, and I’ve also made it into the rare 5% of people who end up with a mono rash as of yesterday. Hurray!?

Technically, I’m starting my second week of mono since diagnosis but I’m on my third week since symptoms have appeared. It started with a painful neck that I thought was muscle pain, until a swollen lymph node appeared the next day. The following day I had “electric skin” and the slightest brush felt painful. Five days after the first symptom I ended up with a fever for two days and out of work for most of the week. The first doctor thought I had a sinus and ear infection, but when I wasn’t getting better (yes, I cried and called Doctor Mom) I ended up at a CareNow clinic. Finally diagnosed, the doctor gave me a steroid shot to help with the worst symptoms.

Researching mono can be a discouragement as the length of time to get over it is 4-8 weeks, but then the virus stays active/somewhat contagious in your system for up to 18 months later. Plus, you’ll always have the EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus) in your system so you could contract it again and you’re a carrier. Bodily fluids (saliva, sneezing, etc…) are the main way it’s passed on, and no, I didn’t get it from kissing as the boyfriend has never had it. Which means who knows how I actually contracted it (plane flight, grocery store,…?…). Also, for your information, it takes 4-6 weeks for symptoms to show up and get a diagnosis so you’re actually the most contagious when you don’t realize you have mono. Sorry to everyone I might have passed it on to.

Fighting mono basically means rest and lots of fluids. I’ve been scolded multiple times by people for not resting enough, but I’ve already spent one week in bed and I can’t handle more rest! I am working on resting more and have left work early several days. I also work from home on days I have new symptoms, like Friday when the mono rash appeared.

The weird part about mono is that I’m rarely hungry so I’ve already lost 2 pounds. I have to eat small meals, and if I’m craving something (like Sonic cherry limeade and tater-tots) I indulge as it means I’ll actually eat something! Part of the reason for this is your spleen (and liver) can enlarge which pushes on your stomach. No contact sports for me – ha! that’s the one easy thing to avoid in all of this.

One thing that seems to come up for natural “remedies” for mono is the intake of coconut oil. Apparently the folic acid in coconut oil helps you recover faster so I’ve been putting 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a smoothie every morning. My advice: don’t put it in yogurt as it turns chunky and don’t eat it plain as you’ll gag. Truth. Smoothie is best! It seems to help as I’ve felt much better this week (week one of diagnosis and coconut oil) and physically have more energy.

If you want to know more about Juice Plus I can connect you with those who can help

If you want to know more about Juice Plus I can connect you with those who can help

This week I’m adding the Juice Plus trio (berries, vegetables, and fruit) to my regimen as those finally came in. Since I’m not eating as much, I’m not getting as many nutrients as I need so being able to get them via Juice Plus is a benefit.

I’ve already been drinking lemon water to help with the liver and spleen function thanks to Young Living essential oils. Hopefully next week I can start on NingXia Red (waiting on delivery) as that has helped me tremendously in the past when I’m low energy and in transition, or sick.

If you want to know more about essential oils, let me know and I can connect you.

If you want to know more about essential oils, let me know and I can connect you.

The good news is that week three is apparently when lymph nodes start reducing; which has held true as the one in my neck has reduced in size, which means less of a “sore” throat.

The hard part in all of this is trying to keep others, like my roommate, from getting it. So, I have a separate sponge for washing dishes and ALL my dishes go in the dishwasher to be decontaminated. Thankfully, I already used my own coffee mug, silverware, and dishes at the office so all I had to do was toss the community sponge I had used for washing them.

Well, now you know more about mono and symptoms as well as why I’ve been quiet of late. At least I’ve done some “record-breaking” to make life more interesting.

*Sigh* I’m really starting to like the idea of a quiet, uneventful life – it only took thirty years.

Posted in Life Lessons | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Materialism and the Missionary Complex

As I prepare to move to another state and am slowly packing boxes, I am amazed at all the “stuff” I have. My mom put it best when she asked me the other day “You used to be able to pack your life into two suitcases. What happened?” As I stand back and look at my things, I realize that a lot of it holds memories for me – of friends, places visited, things I’ve collected to remind me of ‘that one time’… And some of the items are from my missionary complex of “it’s still good” or “it is/was free” or “it’s not that much out of style” or “it might be useful in the future, etc…

Before I move somewhere I purge my belongings. Coming back to the US, I purge again as I bring some new things with me, and a lot of things are now out of date or have lost their temporary sentimental value. Yet I still feel like I have a lot of “stuff” in my childhood bedroom that holds all that I own. Some people may think that a 33-year-old fitting all her earthly possessions in a small bedroom is pretty impressive, yet despite having saved items for that “one day I’ll have my own house”, I still wish I could downsize.

Some things I just can’t get rid of, such as my 435+ book collection, and before you ask – yes, I do have an e-reader (and I’m not counting the e-books). If you’re a book nerd (aka book dragon) you understand! I’m packing about 70+ books to take with me this time compared to the one physical book I allow myself to pack when moving overseas.🙂

As I ponder through the “why” – Why can’t I move with just a little? Why do I have this amount of stuff? Why do I hang on to this or that? – I think part of it goes into a materialistic way of having roots. By having these things I have something that I come back to when I’m returning from overseas, because I don’t have a place that’s “mine” or a family with whom to return. When I have to say goodbye to so many dear friends, taking a material gift or remembrance of them (or their country) helps me process and later remember them. Sometimes I think it’s the “that could be useful in the future” and the creative repurposing overseas mentality which gets me in trouble. And honestly? I think sometimes the constant getting rid of possessions and packing to the barest of minimums makes me unreasonably cling to things that should have long ago been let go.

As the Tiny House Movement has swept through the country, I find it resonating with me. A place that’s permanent, small, and can be all my own while having the freedom to up and move. Granted, part of that is scary considering I need roots and not the mobility it offers! But the simplistic, minimalistic lifestyle it offers as well as having a home to call all my own is something that part of me craves.

Watching an episode of Tiny House Nation is what brought on my most recent closet purge (as well as this post). The show helps me to evaluate what is necessary, what is sentimental, and how can I creatively reduce what I have or minimize the bulk.

What are the tips and tricks you’ve found to help you reduce your possessions and let go? What are the “must haves” you always move with?

Posted in Life Lessons, Missions | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Breaking the Silence

This isn’t an easy post to write, and it’s been siting in “draft” for a while – both in my head and on my blog. Some people have heard bits and pieces of this story, some people have been trusted with the depths, but I’ve not openly shared the depth and pain of the journey that God has taken me on as He’s brought me through the desert over the last year or so.

Perhaps the background to this post should be Hillsong’s “Thank you Jesus” which was sung in my church recently and promoted the overflowing grace to break open my heart and let you see inside it.

Last month was the first time I opened up and shared about my journey in front of a group. When I was praying about what topic to share about with the ladies, God prompted me with the word “Rest.” I laughed (a somewhat terrified laugh) as I knew I was being asked to be open, real, and honest. This journey towards rest that God has taken me on has included breaking me in many ways, but has brought me to a place of being held in my Heavenly Father’s arms, resting in peace and comfort. So here we go….

My breaking point from cultural stresses, daily sexual harassment, loneliness, constant travel, and a lack of deep community came the end of 2014. I found myself curled up on my bed, sobbing, trying to keep myself from packing my bags at 1am to take a taxi to the airport and get on a plane to the USA. Burnout had hit me HARD. It took a lot of counseling, advice, and wrestling before I could admit that I needed to return to the US and reevaluate where I needed to serve (which God confirmed by changing visa laws –  AFTER I made the decision).

That, dear Readers, is the starting point of this journey of rest. I won’t go into all the details, but I want to share three areas in which I’ve been learning to rest.

The first area is Spiritual Rest. Having spent so much time away from the church I attended in Ethiopia (which I barely understood as it was) meant I didn’t have restful Sabbaths often. So I would download podcasts when I was out of country (when I had reliable-ish internet) and would sit and listen to my church’s podcasts on Sundays, playing my music as I just sat on my bed, trying to connect with God. But He still felt distant.

When I returned to the US – thinking I was only staying three months – I decided to drive an hour to what I considered my home church. I found myself burnt out, wrung out, and poured out with nothing left to give, so I slipped into church most Sundays while refusing to serve and fought the guilt of that. I spent months in “hibernation”, not able to draw up the emotional energy to be around people. My devotional time consisted of a simple devotional book I had found as reading Scripture just sent me into crying fits. Or, I would sit on my bed with songs I had picked out for my “Sweetly Broken” playlist, imagining myself curled up in God’s arms, and crying.

But in all that pain, doing minimal other than showing up in church, listening to music, and sometimes reading, I found God’s comfort and healing. Taking away the guilt I had for not serving, He helped me see it was my time to be served – something I never really allow myself to receive. He had me stumble upon a book called “The Contrarian’s Guide to Knowing God” by Larry Osborne. I discover that spiritual disciplines are like tools in a toolbox – and at that moment I needed worship more than anything else. Ultimately, I learned that what I was able to give was a sweet-smelling aroma to Him; that I could rest in His provision and comfort and find the rest and peace I needed.

Secondly, I learned about Physical Rest. Our 2 a.m. water runs to fill our multiple water barrels in order for us to have water until the next time it came back on were exhausting. The constant travel never allowed me to establish an exercise routine to continue to strengthen my back. I had had a car accident six months before leaving for Africa and then another one two months after returning. Chronic pain was just “a part of life.”

My sabbatical was in part medical leave as I struggled to get out of bed each morning, sometimes not succeeding until the afternoon. I remember the day I was so excited that my shuffling was fast enough to keep pace with a 14-year-old dog! God blessed me with a Christian chiropractor who worked with me to find healing. I also learned it was okay to move slow, take naps, and rest. I struggled past the guilt and found it was okay to let my body dictate my needs. I learned to say “no” to things I was asked to do, or even wanted to do, but knew that it would create further damage. I learned to let go of my pride and let others help me.

Perhaps the hardest to learn about was Emotional Rest. Admitting you regularly saw a counselor seems like it’s a “taboo” within Christian culture but it is such an amazing resource to allow God to work through someone else to help you find healing and wrestle through issues. There is no way I would have been able to work through my anxiety and PTSD and loneliness and everything else without my counselors. I find myself ever so grateful that Wycliffe provides licensed counselors for us who have walked the same paths we have as missionaries. My counselor in the US understood from personal experience what unexpected leaving felt like and could understand what the daily stripping of dignity and safety due to sexual harassment did to one’s self.

But it’s not just the counselors, but my family, my Wycliffe mom, and my prayer team (though they didn’t know it) who were also lifting up my arms like Aaron and Hur. It was the understanding of people who would answer questions for me, at the same time speaking life into me, as I was asked questions about what life held for me in the US and what was I going to be doing. The trips to spend weeks with my siblings and a trip with my LifeGroup to just “be” brought peace to my soul as I laughed, read, sat outside, and had no pressures or expectations placed on me. I started to find life again, to enjoy being around people and finding the energy to initiate.

Then one Sunday, during an altar call, I went up front to just pray and release all my worries about what I was supposed to be doing next even while knowing I wasn’t 100% but on the path to wholeness. There, on my knees, one of my pastors’ wives found me and prayed healing over me. Words fail me to describe the physical and spiritual presence felt, but God broke chains and released me from my negativity and brought healing and peace, while finding myself able to trust and rest wholly in Him.

So I’ve learned over this journey that it’s ok to be selfish and take the time needed to heal and rest. Most importantly, I’ve learned how NOT to serve; to identify what my needs are in order to effectively serve others. I need community, less travel, balance, and safety. I’ve learned to set boundaries – something most people proclaim is good, but do not enforce and often try to step on your own if they don’t align with their own.

And here concludes this telling of a painful (literally and metaphorically) journey as I am stepping into a new season. A season of resting in God Almighty while going on an adventure with Him, because He is in control; He is guiding; and He is continuing to heal.

So I ask you – In what ways do you need to rest? In what ways do you need to relearn how to serve others? What boundaries are lacking in your own life? And how is Almighty God brining you into rest and communion with Him?

Posted in Family, Life Lessons, Missions, Trust | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Going “natural” – L’Bri Cosmetics Review

So, I’ve been searching recently for more natural cosmetics since it’s one thing I can do to treat my body better after putting it through the wringer (so to speak). I’ve used some Arbonne cosmetics, but, while I have loved them, they’re a little more pricy for my budget (although I LOVE their mascara and the creaminess of their eyeliner).

Recently, I heard about L’Bri ‘Pure and Natural‘ and after a recommendation and a tiny bit of research I decided to take the plunge and get rid of my 5+ year old makeup and go a little more natural. The plus side is that they’re having a makeup sale this month and everything was 25% off.

While there are still chemicals in them, there are less on the ‘Top 10 Toxic’ list than my current makeup.

The consultant I connected with was super sweet and sent me some powder and foundation samples since I wasn’t in the same state and helped me with recommendations for colors. I ended up with Naked Rose blush, Light Amber concealer, #28 powder, the Hazel Eyes compact, Tea Rose and Pale Pansy Frost lipstick, and some free samples.

Naked Rose Blush – A little goes a long way! It easily went on my brush and I quickly had to use it on both cheeks as the color went on strong. The color is nice though and goes for a more natural brownish-pink than my current blush (which has sparkle and I don’t mind not having sparkle).🙂

Light Amber Concealer – The color seemed to work well, although it’s a little more thick in consistency than the Maybelline I currently use so I’ll have to get used to that.

Hazel Eye Shadow Compact – They have different consistencies with the colors as some are matte, creme, or something-or-other. I found the Smoked Khaki color went on thick as I only put a little on my brush and found I had a very dark grey on my eye. Having put only a little on the brush, I was surprised and used the rest on the other eye. However, it blended in well. Ultimately, the colors worked for a natural smokey-ish eye (if you can call my makeup prowess that – ha!) although I probably would have chosen a darker brown than the Creme Glow/Nude (whichever is their middle shade).

#28 Powder – I hate foundation and since my skin tone is very even, I just use a light powder dusting. The foundation sample I tried didn’t work so well but then, I probably have no idea how to apply it and that could have been the problem. The powder seemed to go on like my current powder and blended well.

Tea Rose Lipstick – I chose this one because I thought it would be a little more brown and fit with my skin tone. It actually ended up being more coral on me than I had anticipated and I’m not quite used to such a strong color. The lipstick went on very smooth. I later tried the Pale Pansy Frost color and it was pinker but not super light.

Brown-Black Eyeliner – It’s definitely a dark brown and while it goes on fine, it’s not as creamy smooth as I’d like it.

Overall, I had a slight tingling sensation on my cheeks (This is why I go for more sensitive skin and natural makeup) that eventually went away. The consultant mentioned that sometimes when you mix cosmetics lines this happens. I’ll have to try it all again tomorrow and see if the same thing happens.

Here’s a picture for you to compare. The first one is with Tea Rose lipstick, the second is a couple hours later when I decided to try the Pale Pansy Frost since I had no color on my lips after lunch. I also gave you two lighting (indoor/outdoor) so you can tell the difference in that as well.


Update: So, I’ve decided that I really do like the makeup and managed to make this frugal gal toss her ridiculously old stuff. However, what is selling me is their skin care. With all my travels and harsh exposure to my face, while some people think it’s still baby skin, it’s not! I was quite impressed that after a week of using the sample my face looks better and after one use of their facial mask my enlarged cheek pores reduced! I’ve been using coconut oil with essential oils for months and that hasn’t happened. If you want to order samples yourself, go to

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Happy Anniversary, friends

It’s hard to believe that one year ago I was standing on Ethiopian soil. Well, technically, at this time I would have been in the airport and drinking the last good macchiato I’ve had since then, waiting for my flight to the US. But for the sake of this post I was still there.

The memories of that day are still clear as I watched B and her now-husband pledge their love and life together. To describe an Ethiopian-American wedding to you is difficult as I just want to sit and remember, not use words to describe the day – the expectation and moment as F made his way into the house to recover his bride (and all us bridesmaids blocking the way per tradition); the looks as we drove around the round-a-bout in our wedding cars, honking the horns on the way to church; the joy of seeing our landlady and daughter along with our masseuse included and helping us walk through the cultural traditions of the day…

What most people know about the last day is that B got married and I functioned in four languages that day. Hmmm, come to think of it, I wonder if I spoke Romanian with Dani and Johnny as that would add a fifth!

But in reality, they don’t know the bitter-sweetness of that day as I treasured each moment with my friends, new and old, from around the world as many made their way to celebrate B’s wedding. Weddings are happy times, filled with the anticipation of the future and love and joy…but each moment had a little tear drop dripping from it as I realized these were also last times for me.

Sometimes you don’t realize how dear a friend is until you are forced to leave them. These are the times when I’m grateful for technology and What’s App giving me the ability to regularly communicate and share in life with B & F. Their story of perseverance, patience, grace, and love would inspire anyone as they look past differences and find commonality in Christ, their Rock and Foundation.

B and L weddingSo, to you two dear friends – May your day be blessed as you celebrate a year together and so many more to come. You are loved and missed!


Posted in Friendship, Missions | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

When God says “Stay.”

Two and a half years ago, before I left for Africa, I felt in my spirit that this day would come. And, it has. God’s saying “Lisa, stay.” As in, stay in the USA; stop traveling and relearn life in the USA; learn what it means to have roots; serve Him here.

The hard part about staying? Expressing to my ministry partners why my staying and serving from the USA is just as important as those who are going overseas. In an organization whose majority are linguists and technical workers, finding someone who enjoys administration and is gifted in it sometimes seems the rarity.

But by serving in administration, I can let someone else stay in their role they are gifted in. I’m able to take some of the burden off our already maxed out missionaries and use the gifts God has given me. Sure, I could do administration in a foreign country, but that’s not what God’s showing me. Plus, with my added back problems, I need access to chiropractors and to lessen my travel.

So I’ve found a way to have a global impact, learn a new role (I love a new challenge in something I haven’t fully learned), and have my adventure – by moving to Texas and serving as assistant to SIL’s Associate Executive Director. While I’m sure about working with our “VP”, I’m still wondering about the Texas part sometimes. This Floridian has a lot to learn about how to integrate into Texas culture. Good thing I like Dr Pepper and bar-b-que!

I would appreciate your prayers as I continue to build a financial partnership team so I can be at the budget Wycliffe sets for me for living in the US. I’m not sure how God is going to make ends meet, but I know He is faithful and has always provided.

Posted in Missions, Work | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Impatience = Chifles!

I bought plantains to make a Pinterest recipe, but they’re green which means waiting until they ripen. I’m not always patient, especially when I know I can make a yummy treat from green plantains. 

Having lived in the Peruvian jungle which has a plenitude of banana varieties, this is something I miss in the U.S.  Thanks to Cuban heritage, fried sweet plantains are pretty easy to find. But fried green plantain chips, aka “chifles”? Nope. 

So here’s how you can make chifles, which are awesome because I don’t like potato chips. I’m also trying to do Whole30 and I think these fit in for snacks. 

First, peel your plantains. This might be the more difficult part as it takes a knife to cut the skin and slowly work it off with your hands. Once they’re peeled, slice them as evenly as possible. This will make it better for even frying. 

In a large pan heat your oil for frying. I used grape seed oil at medium heat. Place the pieces in a single layer as this makes for even frying. Try not to let them stick together because, well, it makes more for eating!
Let them fry for a couple minutes and then flip them. They usually don’t want to flip and its sometimes difficult to differentiate which have been flipped or not, but you notice subtle differences. The idea is to fry them evenly but they’ll cook different depending on thickness. 

Fry them another couple minutes until they start turning a very light golden brown. I used my metal spatula to tap the centers of the thick ones to see if they felt hard and done. Don’t fry past this point as they’ll turn darker once out of the oil. Too dark makes them taste burnt. 

Place them on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil and cool off. See, they look darker. 

I tossed them with a little salt to make the flavor pop. All these yummy chips from just three plantains. Enjoy! 

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment