I’ve been devouring devotionals by Os Hillman today. Everything he says is just making sense.

Let me explain. A couple weeks ago, my sister brought home two copies of Os Hillman’s The Upside of Adversity. As I write this, I couldn’t be more sure that God placed this book in her hands for a reason.

The book is about what Os calls the “Joseph Calling” and the “Joseph Pit” – a phenomenon where basically God calls us to do great things for Him and then leads us through a period of adversity to mold us and shape us for the life He has planned for us.

I’ll admit right now that even as a nearly life-long Christian, I’m not well versed in the Old Testament. I love memorizing verses and doing my best to apply them to my daily life, but when it comes to context and characters, I’m sorely unfamiliar. I’ll also admit that I’ve felt like God has been telling me “now is the time to get familiar with my Word” for months. I made a halfhearted attempt at it a couple weeks ago, when I asked my pastor if I could borrow any good books about the Old Testament. He lent me a book, but I never got around to reading either it or the Old Testament.

So of course when God tried to talk to me about Joseph, my first response was “who?” I mean, I knew the name and that he had a multi-colored coat, but that was about it. And now God was pointing to Joseph and telling me to learn from him, and I was sorely unprepared.

Being the loving God that He is, He basically hit me over the head with Joseph stories for the next few days. Steph began to explain the Joseph Calling and the Joseph Pit to me. A woman at Barnes & Noble randomly pointed out a Joseph themed book she thought I’d like (not even knowing for sure that I was a Christian). And some children I was babysitting were watching the story of Joseph on DVD. (Seriously, could He have made it more obvious?)

Even then I resisted learning more because I was afraid of what I might read. What if Joseph’s life was hard and ugly and not at all what I wanted for my life. And what if God was telling me to read Joseph for a reason?

But finally I did decide to obey. I started reading Genesis (which is way easier to read than I remembered by the way… Thank God for the NLT) and I cracked open The Upside of Adversity to see what it was all about.

Let me summarize it for you: It’s about my life. I mean, technically it’s about Os Hillman’s life. His own struggle through adversity and trials, tough times, divorce, financial collapse, etc. And it’s also about Joseph’s life. His calling as a child, the adversity he faced between then and adulthood (you know, like being kidnapped by his brothers and sold into slavery then being falsely accused of a crime and being imprisoned for years) and how God uses adversity to shape us for the great plans He has in store.

The crazy thing is, everything I’m reading in The Upside of Adversity hits home. And much like Kay Warren’s Dangerous Surrender, which helped me get the courage to answer the call I very clearly heard God place on my life, I truly believe God placed this book in my hands right now for a reason. I wish it was easier. I wish when I said “I’ll go, Lord. Send me” it lead to an easier assignment where I could just go to school, get my degree, marry my hunky boyfriend, move into a pretty house, and help sick people get better.

But even Kay had warned me that surrender isn’t easy. It means completely dying to self. My old ways and ambitions and interests and desires. It means a “ready, set, stop” moment where I say “yes, I’ll do it! Let’s go!” and God says “hold on just a minute. There are some things I need to show you first.” before proceeding to strip me of everything I’ve ever relied on for security or a sense of self until the only thing I’m capable of doing is holding out my hands to help and realizing it all came from Him in the first place.

That’s the tough thing about the Joseph calling. And that’s exactly where I stand right now.

The good news is I’m not the only one. And this period of adversity doesn’t mean God doesn’t love me. It doesn’t mean He’s abandoned me. It doesn’t mean I made up this crazy calling in the first place so now He’s punishing me. It just means He has more in store for me than the pretty little picture of life I’d painted in my head and He’s hard at work getting me ready.

I’m probably going to blog about this a lot for the next few weeks (months? years?) because as hard as it is, I believe there is work to be done in me and God is doing it. And in some sick way I’m actually excited about what might come out of this even if right now I feel like the first car of the roller coaster just before it plummets from the top of the 450 foot hill. Wish me luck and say a prayer that I hold on tight. And hopefully one day I’ll look back and say “that wasn’t such a scary ride after all.”

Talk soon!

stephanieSteph joins Every Lil Step with a new column entitled In Search Of, where she puts her shopping on a budget skills to work in finding her latest wants and needs for the home, the closet, the kitchen, and more.  If you’re In Search Of something yourself hit her up and she may just live vicariously through you for her next entry.   Yes, she likes digging for a deal that much…

Black Boots

One good pair of black boots is practically an essential for cooler weather in NYC, and bonus points if they transition from weekend to the office to a (fairly casual) night out.  I scored a pair of gently used Etienne Aigner riding boots for under $50 recently on ebay and in the process came across some other swoon-worthy finds I just had to share.
Sept 12 - a steal
A steal at just $50, and real leather at that!  I’d snap them up myself if I was size 7.
Sept 12 - classic black
So classic, they’re just beautiful. Size 8, ladies.  If I could buy 2 pairs I’d add these to my collection.
Sept 12 - fryeGuaranteed quality – Frye always makes a good boot.  And they’re brand new.  At $150 not a bad deal at all for this kind of quality.  Size 7.5.
Leather Ankle Booties Leather ankle booties have graduated from last year’s trend piece to full on seasonal staple.   And like the riding boots, totally practical in that they can transition from weekend to office to, if they’re sleek enough, night out.   I love them with skinny jeans or dresses a la Rachel Bilson…

[image via Who What Wear]

…or Sheena Matheiken of The Uniform Project. And Kim of course:


They’re perfect for upstate apple picking, fall picnics in the park, or weekend trips to the green market.

sept 12 - grunge bootieLoving these.  Size 8.5 and with the current bid of $36 well worth snapping up.

For a slightly more polished look I’d totally grab look-a-likes of these Top Shop cuties

Sept 12 - topshop booties… for less with this pair on ebay.  $50 for such a versatile pair is seriously tempting.  I’d rock them with thick black leggings and a long sweater or skinny jeans and a blazer.  Polished in no time.

sept 12 - topshop lookalikes

Sept 11 - chips and salsa

Last year, my cardiologist told me to up my salty foods intake to counteract episodes of lightheadedness I was having from low blood pressure. I’ve been eating half a bag of sea salt potato chips a day ever since. Recently I cut the daily chips out of my diet though as something that wasn’t “necessary” while times are tight. But this morning an integrative nutritionist acquaintance of mine suggested my recent bouts with dehydration could be caused from not getting enough healthy salt in my diet. Totally interesting considering I’ve only had this problem since I cut the daily chips out. I don’t know for certain that my breakup with chips is the one and only cause, but I do know that I must be craving salt for a reason. So I’m renewing my vows with my potato chips and taking our relationship public. To celebrate, I bought a new bag of 365 Everyday Value Organic Classic Sea Salt Potato Chips from Whole Foods with their matching Thick and Chunky Salsa. A match made in snacking heaven.

Why this is healthy: The chips are made with organic expeller pressed sunflower oil and not corn or vegetable oil. Also, sea salt is a healthy way to get your daily salt intake, which helps you absorb water. The salsa is a super delicious, medium, chunky salsa with no sugar added unlike some popular brands on the market. Win-win.

What it Costs: Both the chips and the salsa were $2.99 each. Not shabby, Whole Foods. Not shabby at all.

Sept 11 - pic of the day
Between Houston and Bleeker on my way to work today.

I have so much planned for Every Lil Step this month, including my first two new columns: Healthy Me and Wishlist. I’ll continue to share some of the fun things I’m making in the kitchen with my Meal Plan series, and I’ll be back on track with my The Life You’ve Always Wanted updates next week.

And more new stuff is on the way!


A reusable water bottle has been on my wishlist for a long time.  While it might seem like a fairly easy purchase  to make, it’s been a while since I’ve thrown down even $25.00 dollars on an actual “purchase” for myself other than food. But after my recent bout with dehydration, I decided it’s time to do one better than my giant Smart Water bottles washed out and reused and invest in the real deal.

Right now I’m eyeing this Sigg bottle, which is now not only BPA free (a major concern for me) but also benefits the Jane Goodall Institute. So according to the website, $5.00 from each purchase of this particular bottle will be used to “provide funding to build rainwater harvesting tanks that will deliver clean water to students in Africa.”

I didn’t know anything about the Jane Goodall Institute until now, but I like doing good with my purchases, so this makes my very first Wish List post. Since I’m a budgeting girl, I’m going to have to hold off this month until I work the actual purchase into my October budget. But soon I’llbe sporting my new fave accessory of Fall 09 – a reusable water bottle.

healthy me header

Up until this point, I haven’t been one of those bloggers who puts it all out there like some of the other bloggers with Lyme who I admire. But yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting in my favorite hospital in a cold sweat on a bed of bloody sheets in one of the classic living with Lyme episodes I can’t wait to put behind me. So as much as I prefer to focus on the positive, I feel like it can’t hurt to acknowledge those less than bright moments that come along with living with and overcoming any chronic health condition.

Today I ended up at the hospital because the kidney pain I’d had for weeks had escalated to the point where I felt like I couldn’t honestly care about Rapper X’s upcoming album feeling the way I felt and the only responsible thing to do would be to finally get it checked out. All the taking it easy, detoxing, cranberry juice, yogurt, and lemon water hadn’t done anything to ease the pain, and  my daily calls to my general practitioner’s office had yielded only a Sept 17th appointment. I was doing my best to hold out until then, but at this point I’m so over living for the next doctor appointment the way some people live for the weekend. It’s one of the many times I’ve had to make the call on which symptoms/potential infections warrant the doctor and which I can treat at home, and I only wish I had the successful track record of someone of average health to make me more confident. As it stood, I gave in and made my way to the hospital to have it checked out on my time.

Say “Lyme” and half of the doctors you talk to will immediately shut down. Either they know nothing about it (“that means you got bitten by a bug, right?”). Or they’ve heard too much of the debate going on in our nation’s courts to want to get involved or make any decision that would look like they’re taking sides. All understandable reactions and all indicative of the place Lyme holds in the medical field right now. But difficult nonetheless when someone who has no choice but to live with this condition gets caught in the cross hairs. Once she saw Lyme listed in my records, the doctor that had been assigned to me decided there was no reason to look for any additional cause of pain. So we did the basic pee in a cup and take some blood routine in which a basic IV insertion went so wrong that both me AND the nurse nearly passed out. It was not pretty.

It’s episodes like these that finally made me want to learn as much as I can about the human body and health in general, if anything to be able to look at things objectively enough not to freak out but to remain calm when everything else is going haywire. Researching Lyme has helped me ask better questions, take more control, and offer better advice to those in the same boat. But as far as understanding it all goes, I still have a lot to learn and most of what I know is based on simple experience. Which is why I had to find out the hard way that I can drink at least 8 cups of water a day and still land in the hospital with “dehydration” (their diagnosis). And why I had to go through the aforementioned rogue IV episode and dirty my fave pair of jeans just to figure that out.

A lot of living with Lyme is acting as your own advocate and nurse rolled into one. How much pain is too much? How often do I need to check my own kidneys, liver, and chemical panel while taking all these prescription drugs? What side effcts do I put up with? What interactions do I risk? And of course there are the more frequent “smaller” decisions that take just as much mental energy: can I get on the train today when I’m feeling like this? Can I smile and fake feeling great in that big meeting today? Can I sit through this presentation without having to excuse myself at least once? Sometimes it’s these decisions and the little things I have to do to compensate for my choices (yes, I’ll take that meeting and I’ll wait until afterwards to have  lunch just in case I don’t feel well when I eat) that leave me mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day and which make the idea of marrying wealthy and retiring young so appealing. (I kid, I kid. But it totally is tempting, right?) 😉

Right now I’m nearing the end of my treatment, and all in I’m doing better than I’ve ever been. But just reaching this point has been a two year uphill battle through diagnosis,treatment, herxes, backsliding and forward climbing that has left me in major need of some time off to do nothing but mentally recover from what feels like a war to win my health. I have no doubt that I’m emerging victorious here, but as as the saying goes, I think a change could do me good.

This summer I’ve been finding my escape in daycations, staycations, lazy weekends, and the inspiring blogs of others who are doing all they can to live their healthiest lives possible. Which is why, on Every Lil Step, I break things down into manageable goals and take them one step at a time. Happiness, health, and spiritual wealth are possible if we just keep on keeping on. This blog entry is the first of my new “Healthy Me” column in which I’ll check back in, talk about my own progress in healing, and keep it real so to speak.

For those of you with no interest in reading about the small victories and minor upsets along the way, look for the Healthy Me header and skip right over. But for those of you reading who know what it’s like, maybe we can inspire each other. Until then…

Oh, and the kidney pain… that reached its peak (I hope) last night before bed after I’d downed probably 8 cups of water in the last two hours of the day. I woke up with sharp abdominal pain around 5:30 AM, continued to down glasses of lemon water and flush myself out as I tossed and turned for the next three hours, and felt better by the time I finally decided to start the day around 8:30 (late as usual these days). Was it just dehydration? Who knows. But I’ll be following up with my family doctor in that September 17th appointment to make sure it’s all good.


Link of the Day: I Heal Myself on All Levels by Louise Hay [via Eureka!]