(joyful mysteries note: I met Meredith at a retreat I spoke at. She was everything I like in a person- kind, real, creative. Her Real has been an absolute game of trust, and I am amazed at how brave she is. She has the best smile and she is incredibly intune to who God is calling her to be. I am grateful for the gift of her words and real today…also today is her birthday- Happy Birthday beautiful Meredith.) 



I am up to my elbows in peaches.
We live near the Harry & David peach orchards, and every year they host “Peachapalooza”, where they sell their seconds to the locals for twenty cents a pound. It’s a crazy, wonderful day—hundreds of people gather bright and early in the parking lot, where they have crates upon crates of peaches. Then, at 7am they yell “Go!” and everyone runs to the crates and fills up their boxes of peaches. The limit is 200 pounds per person, and plenty of people hit the limit for each person in their family, including the infants. This year, we took home 150 pounds, which is more than we’ve ever ended up with before, and seems like a deceptively small amount while they’re packed neatly in boxes and sitting on a wagon.

Let me tell you though, four days later…150 pounds doesn’t feel like such a small amount. I’ve made freezer jam. I’ve made peach margaritas. I’ve dehydrated peaches. I’ve frozen peaches for smoothies. I’ve made fruit leather (I’ve done it successfully before, but this year it failed). I plan to make cobblers and bread and my grandma’s peach-almond pie.

Yesterday though, I decided to try to can peaches, because I know my husband likes them. I have canning equipment from my mom and grandma, but have never done it before because frankly, botulism scares the shit out of me. But for some reason, yesterday I decided to give it a go—all by myself, on a day when my kiddos were particularly crazy. Of course.

Four hours later, every part of my body was covered in peach juice. My fingers were so wrinkled that they looked like I’d been in the shower for hours. My youngest daughter Becca was screaming that she was ‘too tired for a nap’ while at one point my oldest daughter asked me what “T-E-Q-U-I-L-A” spelled. A jar inexplicably exploded (but did not break) while in the canner, and peaches were floating everywhere. Literally every surface of my kitchen was sticky. Finally, the last batch was done, and it was time to clean up, make dinner to eat in the car, and run off to t-ball.

Our sink has one of those hose sprayers that you can pull out, and I’d been using to help wash out the various bowls, pots, pans, and utensils that you end up needing to can. It had worked fine all day yesterday, but when I went to use it for the last time, I could NOT get the sucker to come out. I pulled. I pulled harder. I slammed the sucker back down and tried to pull again. I just kept pulling and pulling, and swearing up a storm, but nothing was working. Finally, it occurred to me to wash my hands, open the cabinet under the sink, and take a look. The hose was wrapped around something, and it was stuck. It just needed to be unwrapped.

And if that isn’t an illustration for my life, I’m not sure what is.

Anxiety is something that I’ve struggled with for a while, but for a long time I didn’t know what it was called. Once I realized that there was a name for what I felt like, and I met with my doctor and created a self-care plan (and actually followed that self-care plan), it was better for a long time. Until suddenly, it wasn’t.

Around late-spring of last year, my anxiety felt pretty out of control. I went to the Mom’s Retreat where I met Kristin, and I felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest the entire time, because I wasn’t with my husband and daughters, and without me there to be vigilantly watching, they weren’t safe and would probably all die. I hadn’t been following my self-care plan very well, so a few months later, I started doing the things that are important, for me, to keep anxiety at bay. And it helped some, but not as much as I remembered it helping the first time around.

Months later, in a really scary series of events, we found out that I had a giant thyroid tumor, along with a genetic mutation that predisposed me to thyroid cancer. The biopsy showed that the tumor was likely benign, but because I’d previously had a different form of cancer, the immediate recommendation was surgery to remove either half of my thyroid or my entire thyroid, depending on what it looked like during surgery.

The next few months until the surgery were a constant battle against anxiety. I worked hard at implementing all aspects of my self-care plan, daily. The fellow moms that I met with weekly for Bible Study were huge blessings in that way—praying for me constantly, checking in with me, not letting me isolate myself and shutdown.

But I was still—secretly—a little mad at God. How could he let me go through this again?! WHY?! What could possibly be gained from another surgery, more medical bills, and possibly another cancer diagnosis?!

I woke up from the thyroid surgery, and felt warm for the first time that I can remember in my adult life. I also didn’t have an elephant sitting on my chest. I kept waiting for that elephant on my chest to come back, and for me to resume the daily battle with anxiety, but five months later, it still hasn’t.

I didn’t know it at the time, but later learned from my endocrinologist that your thyroid is hugely influential when it comes to anxiety. The tumor that was sitting on my thyroid must have been depressing my thyroid function, and we just didn’t realize it because my levels were still all considered “normal”. Now, the half a thyroid that I have left is functioning better than my whole thyroid was before, and I feel like a completely different person, in every way. It was like God reached into that cabinet under my sink and untangled something that I hadn’t even realized was stuck until He un-stuck it. And I am so thankful.

I’m Meredith. I’m a wife to Justin, Mom to Lizzy and Becca, Lutheran, Native Oregonian, photographer, aspiring cook, and big time lover of books. 

I like Bones. Non-fat Caramel Lattes. Purple Iris’s. Phillipians 4:6. Cherry Coke. Top Chef. Justin playing the guitar. My Family. Knitting. Chicken Piccata. Wakeboarding. The Ocean. “Mumford and Sons.” Turquoise. Matt Maher…to name a few. Learn more about Meredith at her blog… http://www.vivalabuenavida.blogspot.com