Kitchen Crafting :: Thrifty Halloween Candy Bucket Home Decor

Repurposed Halloween decorations, creating candy from paper maché, and additions from the dollar store turned into a fun creative piece of home decor.

I finally succumbed and went to the attic to get my Halloween decorations out. While rummaging around I found things that I didn’t use anymore and got the bright idea to turn them into something new. Too old for the plastic pumpkin trick or treat bucket, my son now uses a pillow case. So instead of letting this item go to waste, I created a cute trick or treat themed basket that is adorable in my entry.

Oversized pieces of candy that would last for years would be awesome to stick in it. Hmmmm… How could I make them with what I have?

I had left over paper maché clay from another project, so I wondered if I could use it to make candy pieces. This was totally a trial to see what would happen. I used plastic wrap in kitchen bowls to serve as forms for a lollipop and wrapped candy. Using aluminum, I created a large triangle form for the candy corn.

Paper maché clay in a hand made aluminum foil form
Paper maché clay in a hand made aluminum foil form

Once I had my forms ready, I filled them with paper maché clay and put them in my dehydrator over night. In the morning, I took them out of the forms and set them back in the dehydrator for a few more hours.

Drying clay pieces in the dehydrator
Drying clay pieces in the dehydrator

After the pieces were dry, They are ready for to be turned into candy with paint.

Painting candy clay forms
In my happy place painting

After painting was complete and dry, I wrapped the smaller clay piece in a plastic bag and tied each end with bag ties. I had a wrapped piece of Halloween candy. Yay!

Wrapped candy finished
Finished wrapped candy

I used silver glitter hot glue to embellish the lollipop with a little sparkle.

Using glitter hot glue to add sparkle
Using glitter hot glue to add sparkle

Then, I hot glued sticks on the backs of each piece so they would stick in the basket.

Hot gluing sticks on the candy paper maché to stick in the bucket
Hot gluing sticks on the candy paper maché to stick in the bucket

Candy finished! Now it’s time to fill the basket with little goodies from the dollar store.

Dollar store bag of goodies
Yay for inexpensive stuff!

First, I cut and glued floral foam in the bottom of the pumpkin bucket.

Adding floral foam in the bottom of the bucket
Adding floral foam in the bottom of the bucket

Then, I added lights and taped them around the outer edge to get an eerie glow.

Taped LED lights to the inside of the bucket
Taped LED lights to the inside of the bucket

I covered the bottom of the bucket and lights with purple spider webs.

Faux spider webs fill the bucket and make the lights glow
Faux spider webs fill the bucket and make the lights glow

It was time to arrange and fill. From the dollar store, I bought a witch’s hat, little skeletons, green neon cord, large skeleton hand, a sparkly magenta floral twig, and green curly bows. I had left over spiders, rubber snakes, and a pair of plastic vampire’s teeth from the year before. Why did I save these things? The world may never know.

Arranging all items in the candy bucket
Arranging all items in the candy bucket

It was a lot of fun playing with all my pieces; moving them around until I was pleased with the arrangement. I used more hot glue to keep all the pieces in place.

Finished candy bucket in my entry way
Looks so cute in my entry

Halloween is coming soon and this piece screams trick or treat!

Close picture of finished candy bucket
Close up of lights and filled candy bucket
Glowing fun

Get thinking about what resources you have when you get out those decorations. What can you use to turn into something new?

Happy Haunting and Feed yourself,

Karen signature

If you enjoyed this project give me a like and comment below! Share this post with a crafty friend. Tell me if you got crafty this Halloween. I’d love to see what you made.

When life gets messy :: Vol. 1 :: It’s Not A Set Back

Learning to Trust God for growth

Have you ever thought back to your younger years and said, “I never thought I would be doing this for a career?” I can honestly answer a resounding, “Yes!” to that question. I have always loved art and anything creative. I went to college to become a graphic designer, but had my first huge set back when I was in my sophomore year.

I had always been good. I always received good grades. I had always been creative.  Picture

In the VCD (Visual Communication Design) program only a handful of candidates passed onto the next step to graduate with that degree. All students spent their second year creating a final portfolio. I vividly remember one of my profs talking to the class prepping us for our results. “Some of you won’t continue on, but,” he continued, “it’s not because you’re not good. Some of your peers just scored higher.” I swear I remember him looking directly into my eyes while speaking. I had always been good. I always received good grades. I had always been creative. People always praised me for my work and talent. That year, I did not pass.

I was absolutely crushed. I felt like I couldn’t go on

I was absolutely crushed. I felt like I couldn’t go on. No where else did I want to be; no where else made me happy. I wanted to be creative for a living. Nothing else filled my creative soul. A board of directors at a prestigious university told me I wasn’t good enough. What do I do now? My dad had spent lots of money to send me to a great school to be told, no, your kid just doesn’t have what it takes. I felt like a complete failure. I watched as some of my dearest friends went on in the program leaving me behind in their dust clouds of creativity.

My head and heart hung low as I met with my guidance counselor. Being one of my profs, he challenged me to think a different way. I refocused my attention on other forms of art. I took drawing, painting, sculpture, jewelry, photography, and art history. I completed a degree in Fine Arts with concentration in illustration and drawing and a minor in Art History. At this point, no where did I see decorating cakes and cookies in my future.

After graduating, I was still set on graphic design. I applied to many positions, but no one wanted me. I didn’t have the experience, nor did I have the VCD degree backing me up. I was determined to show the doubters I was good enough. I was going to build my own graphic business from scratch. I took a random unrelated job just to make a paycheck. When I wasn’t pandering for lousy pay. I found small businesses that needed help in branding and marketing. I taught myself web design, and to this day have a portfolio full of logos, business cards, magazine ads, and the like.

As I look back now, I see that God had other plans. He redirected my path to give me skills at many different things. Picture

As I look back now, I see that God had other plans. He redirected my path to give me skills at many different things.

Because of my son’s first birthday, I found my love for making and decorating cakes and cookies.

While coming up with my own recipe and researching how to decorate a cake, I stumbled upon an ad for a cake decorating position. I had only ever made that one special birthday cake. I sent my resume. Ehhh..what could it hurt? I was hired to do….marketing and office management.

God is good, all the time. He knew my previous experiences would get me in the door. He would show me what hard work was and open my eyes to a new form of art I am in love with.

I was put in the office managing emails, customer calls, website, advertising and social media. The bakery owner acquired a new location and was in process of launching a new catering and event facility.

One day, the bakery was put in quite a pinch. The only decorator quit. They needed someone that could draw. “You can draw, right?” “Yep” “Can you draw with icing?” “Dunno. Never tried. Why not?” And so, my decorating career was born. I will never forget that little dump truck I drew on a little boy’s birthday cake.

Since the bakery now only employed 3 people, my weekly schedule went something like this:

Sunday and Monday: off

Tuesday: Office work, help bakers wash dishes, wrap cakes, and clean up the kitchen from “bake day”

Wednesday: Decorate cupcakes until bakery opened, office work until noon, make icing (lots and lots of icing), decorate any occasion cakes ready for adoration, clean work stations, clean kitchen, wash dishes, icing tips, and supplies, sweep floors

Thursday: Decorate more occasion cakes all day, clean work stations, clean kitchen, wash dishes, icing tips, and supplies, sweep floors

Friday: Finish any occasion cakes, stack wedding cakes, decorate wedding cakes, clean work stations, clean kitchen, wash dishes, icing tips, and supplies, sweep and mop floors

Saturday: Come in before the shop opens, package orders, pulled cakes from inventory for the next round of orders, cover the shop for pick ups and make cake deliveries

Mind you, even the days I wasn’t behind a computer, I had to answer phones, check email, answer voicemails from the night before, and help walk-in customers as well.

When you work for a small business, just because you’re the office manager and decorator doesn’t mean you are above cleaning toilets, dusting storefront shelves, cleaning refrigerators, helping with the catering and serving at events.

This was an overload of work, yet I felt appreciated. Not only did I receive fair pay increases, but the joy my heart felt when someone picked up a cake I had decorated especially for them was very fulfilling. Customers loved my art work. I was proud to be the one with the icing bag in hand behind the well-known name.

I was the only decorator and office person, this pace continued for a few years. Before I knew it, I took on more tasks. I started coming in when the sun was peaking over the cornfield horizon and went home when the sun was low, giving it’s last few glimmers of the day gone by. From mornings where the summer humidity blasted me in the face as I loaded my baby in the car; to days where the fields, now full of snow, glistened in the rising sun, I worked day in and day out. I became tired and pulled every which way but up.

I saw my baby growing and soon school days would come. I had a burden on my heart. “I’m missing out.” My heart was proud of the skills I perfected, but what was the cost? Was I going to regret working so much away from the home? I was missing lots of moments with my toddler, who was being lovingly raised by my grandparents, while I was gone. With them aging and added health issues, I knew they couldn’t do this forever. A job I thought would be fun and creative turned into a burden.

Prayers for months and seeking Him, God redirected me yet again Picture

Prayers for months and seeking Him, God redirected me yet again. He presented me with a new job opportunity. I made a huge decision to quit working at the bakery to have more time working from home, raise my little boy, and be the wife I longed to be.

While working from home doing online marketing, I became depressed. Focused on my role in the home and a full time job, I realized the longing for creating was dying to be let out. I have always been an entrepreneur and go getter; I have always felt a call to make something for myself. I felt stuck between two worlds —-home life and a creative professional.

I started making a little extra cash creating cakes and cookies for close friends and family from home in the evenings. Soon, the word got out, I created a website and Facebook page to showcase my work. I began taking on new clients and in less then 4 years after leaving the bakery, I was back to working 12+ hour days (including the full time job) and over 100 cookies a week. Again, I became burnt out, and my talent became a burden.

I slipped back into my old habits. I piled even more then I should have on my plate. I had no time for family duties and no availability in my schedule to get away. I forgot to schedule time for mental and physical rest.

Calculating business numbers, the cash flow wasn’t enough to justify hiring a part-time employee or spending the profit on help to clean my house. I came to a point to make a HUGE decision. To make money work, I would have to increase my productivity and work load, even quit my full time job with steady pay and 401k. I was too scared to make the commitment to open my own shop. Building a business is supposed to give me more income and free me from being a slave in the corporate world. Or is it???

To those looking from the outside the choice was clear; to me, it wasn’t. They don’t see the hours, the labor intensive work, and shopping for ingredients. My time spent working with clients—designing, fitting budgets, arranging deliveries and/or pick ups. They don’t see the ugly side of business, when clients never replied, stood me up, or try to haggle pricing. I spent my time with continuing education, scouring the internet and magazines for new ideas and techniques, spending money on new equipment and classes. It was personal.

Quote from Julia Roberts in “Erin Brockovich” circa 2000
Quote from Julia Roberts in “Erin Brockovich” circa 2000

When 2019 came, I took on even more responsibility. In my marketing job, business was booming. In my baking business, I had a great amount of loyal baking customers. By spring, I was stressing over trying to keep up with wife and mom duties, along with changes in my family dynamic and personal life. Then, the diagnosis came.

Read Facing the Pain

God redirected me yet again. I had to tell my work team what was going on. I was in consistent pain and needed to slow down. I told my baking clients I was taking a medical sabbatical. I felt I let everyone down. My drive to create, please people, learn, and chase the almighty dollar was too much. My body and mind was at it’s breaking point.

My heart secretly ached, but I told no one. Yes, I was at home where I longed to be, but I was only there because it was my office. When I did have a small lull, I wanted out of the house. I wanted away from the “office.” I felt, I had neglected my son who was used to his mom always working. “No, I can’t play bubbles.” “No, mommy ‘s got a deadline. I can’t play video games today.” “Those socks were only wore a day, wear them again. I’ll wash a load tonight.” My husband was used to laundry in the mandatory 7 day holding pattern before it was out of the dryer and folded. Dinner was late, or we ate take out. The cleanest room in my house was always the KITCHEN. Everywhere else needed desperately to be swept and/or dusted. On Saturday’s, I would try to catch up on house work. Because of exhaustion and lack of motivation, I often failed. Sundays, I would rarely make it to church. If I had the chance, I slept ALL. DAY.

When God says, “Stop.” You stop. It’s only been 5 months since I was blessed with Trigeminal Neuralgia (TN2). Even though it’s a painful disorder, it is making me take a 40,000 ft. perspective on my life. I realized the need to prioritize my life. God, self, family, friends in that order.

You may ask, “Why did you list yourself as second? That order seems awfully selfish.” That is a loaded question. I’m a VERY giving person by nature, but if I am not in a healthy place; I am good to no one, not even me. On a plane trip, they tell you in the event your oxygen mask drops from the ceiling, place it on yourself first before assisting someone else. By taking care of myself, I am taking care of my family and friends. When I take time to cultivate my relationship with God, I am better at my job and more gentle with everyone I encounter. I am breathing “oxygen.”

I may not be able to serve my customers in the capacity I was used to. I have learned, I can only serve, so many people at one time. The blessing of TN2 made me stop filling everyday with everything. God is using it to call me into a closer relationship with him. Learning to trust his faithfulness, I am finding more and more peace with the craziness that is my life.

After much time in His Word and prayer, God revealed a stumbling block in my life. I don’t NEED money or praise for my work. He didn’t give me my spiritual gift and talent to covet. He spoke to my heart and told me to reach people; teach people; help people. My talent isn’t something to be concealed or grieved because my physical capacity is limited. I was designed to do something greater.

My ultimate goal is to now share the path that I am walking. My journey, with God’s providence, to a healthy place while managing my creative yearning coupled with responsibility. I want to share what I am learning about the importance of paying attention to your well-being while being productive. There’s pearls truth in my story for everyone to take away.

Are you are able to address some things in your own life that may be causing you to be “busy” but feel like you’re not getting anywhere? We all need to prioritize and take things off our plate. Don’t be good at a lot, but master of none.

What can you really live without?

I found I was very wrapped up in business and enjoying the additional income, but what was the price I actually paid? Investing in relationships—God, family, friends, even strangers is priceless. One of my business goals was to save for vacation with my fellas. I worked my tail off to spend a solid week undistracted. When time came to get away, all I wanted was to do absolutely nothing. I came to the realization that I wouldn’t be so worn down that I ABSOLUTELY NEEDED a break, and I could spend quality time EVERY EVENING with them if I just removed some unnecessary distractions.

Do you feel like, “I HAVE to do it?” Get over it, hunny. Assess what you can delegate to someone else to help or tell people, “No” without guilt. People CAN and WILL manage. Sometimes it takes a little tough self love, but teach yourself “it’s good enough” even if it’s not done YOUR way.

For example, I decided that my son was old enough to help with chores. He has a list now on small things he can do to be part of the family team. He’s not the best at mopping floors, but he’s getting experience and responsibility. My husband picked up dinner duty. He’s a better chef, than me. He does the cooking; I do the dishes. I’m better at loading the dishwasher anyway. 😉

I assessed the extra curricular activities. “Do I NEED to go here, do this, and fill my schedule minute to minute?” Our wants are often greater then our needs. What is a need and what is a want? Physical rest is important. Even though you may WANT to do it, do you need time for rest?

Are you a task master?

I always have a task list. I write down all the things that need to be accomplished and feel like I have to do them TODAY to feel at ease.

Stop, it. Having a list isn’t bad, but the anxiety is. Again, I stress the importance to delegate. Great leaders are those that can ask for help.

I have what I call “my rolling list.” I have trained myself to look over it and decide what has the most priority. Things come into the day that require me to take notice of experiences that feed my soul. Sometimes, I need to invest my undivided attention. If I do not get everything accomplished, God willing, there’s tomorrow. The dust on my shelves can wait.

Are you working more than one job? Do you absolutely need the money? In a society where status and the amount of tangible items means success, who’s standards are you living up to?

I evaluated my situation. I have a roof over my head, plenty of food in my tummy, a happy, healthy family (with the exception of my TN which is not life threatening), what more do I REALLY need? You know the saying, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like anyway.” My journey has taught me humbleness. My home isn’t magazine or show room perfect, but we live here and make memories. I don’t have a gourmet chef, but my grandma’s recipes are delicious.

Do you feel like a door has been closed in your life plans? Has a stumbling block been put in your path?

I suggest talking to God. He is the divine of all creation. He knew you before you were born; you are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Ps. 139:14)

You were made for a purpose. Look at my examples. Every time things didn’t go as planned, I persevered. I learned so much more then I imagined possible. I found a talent and love I never knew I had. I learned to work for many different types of people with many different personalities. I learned the importance of family. I gained experience. Relying on God’s strength and faithfulness, I endured the burdens that turned into blessings.

Ask yourself, “What did I learn from that?”

Write it down. It’s often we get caught up in the emotion of what seems like failure that we don’t see the beauty of actual growth. With some real thought and physically putting it before your eyes, you will see that you are indeed widening your horizon.

What are you are thankful for? Seriously, take the time to assess the positive in your life. You woke up today, you have breath in your lungs and you have something great to offer the world. When we want to consistently dwell on the negative that is what we produce. Training the brain to focus on the positive will give new perspective in everything you do. You will begin to pour out the goodness that fills your heart.

It’s often we forget to take joy in the everlasting and delight in the little, simple things that make life enjoyable. We consume our self with monetary things that we lose pleasure in after a short time. Our thoughts and life become cluttered with tasks that aren’t necessary.

Our set backs come into our life to make us learn. It takes rain to make seeds grow. We wouldn’t know the joy of gain if it wasn’t for loss. It’s time for redirection.

What struggles you are facing? Do you have suggestions of what you have learned when you need to redirect? Please give me a like and comment below. This messy life is all about learning and sharing with one another. Let’s collaborate!

Don’t forget to feed yourself!

Halloween Mummy -Front Door Decoration

Turn any door into a spooky friend this Halloween. Great to greet trick-or-treaters, party guests needing to find the little mummy’s room, or even work place shenanigans.

I tend to see the world differently than most people. Almost every second of every day I think, “What can I make now?” Inspiration comes from everywhere.

I wanted to decorate my door this Halloween, but I wanted something different from the usual hand made wreath I always put up for fall. I remember in grade school teachers wrapping doors and bulletin boards as presents. They would adorn their doors in bright, happy seasonal wrapping paper finished off with wide sparkly ribbon and a giant bow beckoning children in to unwrap the gift of knowledge. In fact, people have been turning doors into works of art for decades.

I’m a Pinterest lover! I look there to get inspiration from creative people A LOT. Sometimes, I just HAVE to make what I have seen on Pinterest.

Reading other’s blogs you find out what they did and sometimes they share what they did wrong. That’s a beautiful thing–to share mistakes so others can learn and be more successful in their attempts.

Mummy Door Close Up

When I stumbled upon this cute mummy door idea, I knew I wanted to make it. It’s an inexpensive, simplistic craft that my son could help with. To me, I enjoy involving him in projects, not only to teach, but to leave my creative legacy to live on in him.

If you’re looking for a beginner level project with a big impact, try making this delightfully fun portal to your home.

Supplies wording

This door decor cost me about $5.00 I found these supplies for CHEAP at the dollar store, dollar bin at Target, and at Wal-Mart.

Close up of eyes and tape

1 pkg. 6″ Googly Eyes

2 rolls white party streamers (more rolls are necessary if you want to completely cover the door)

Masking Tape

Patience

Directions picture

Fair warning-

The back of your door won’t be pretty. If you have OCD you may figure out a better way to make the ends and tape look tidy.

This project is super simple but don’t underestimate the time it takes. Once you get in a rhythm you’ll be good, so unpack your patience and let the fun begin.

I ripped off a bunch of tape pieces about an inch long and stuck their edges to my interior door trim. This just saved some time when I needed the tape.

Open your door.

Stick the googly eyes on the door approx 2 ft. from the top.

Take 1 roll of white streamer paper add a piece of tape to the starting end. Stick it to the left side (hinge side) of the door making sure it reaches around to the back. Press firmly to secure the tape to the back of the door.

Streamers taped to the back of door
The streamers are individually taped to the back of the door.

Then, unravel the streamer roll over the outside of the door (or the side you want the mummy face on) to meet the door lock side and around to the back of the door. Pull gently to stretch the streamer taught. Rip the streamer, add a piece of tape, and firmly stick to the back of the door.

Beginning of the Mummy Door
Everyone say HI! to Sophie who was curiously watching me.

Continue this process back and forth until you finish all your rolls or door is totally covered. (I only did the top half.)

Make sure you continue reading my tips below.

If you don’t have a black door like me, cover it in a black plastic table cloth, fabric, or whatever you have lying around.

OR

Use Blue Tack and cover your door with black poster board. If you have a dollar store, I recommend buying the poster board there to be thrifty.

Who says your background HAS to be black? Use neon colors and put a black light in your porch light!!! Make your whole door glow!

I found googly eyes on Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby. Prices vary depending on the store.

Instead of googly eyes you can use white poster board and a black marker. Choose a salad bowl or salad plate. Trace 2 circles on the poster board using your bowl and cut them out. Draw smaller circles inside your white cut outs for the pupils and color them in. Get creative and make your eyes scary and cat like or even bloodshot for a creepy effect.

You cannot just wrap the streamer around the whole door because the side with the hinges is too close to the door jam to squeeze the roll through. That’s why patience is needed.

Allow some strips to cross over the tops and bottoms of the eyes. Since a mummy is haphazardly wrapped, alternate streamer strips horizontally and diagonally for best effect.

Close up of streamers criss crossing

When putting on the streamer strips pull firmly AND gently making each strip taught. If you don’t, you’ll wake up the next day to a droopy mummy.

Enjoy the journey not just the end result.

Have fun, feed yourself!

Karen Signature

Suggestions? Creative additions? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Leave me some feedback below. 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻


Resources

Like to shop online? Get the supplies on Amazon below (but it’s not as cheap as the dollar store):

Darice 6″ Wiggly Eyes

4 rolls Solid White Crepe Paper Streamers

Scotch 3/4″ Masking Tape Roll

Want to see others mummy doors? Check out these links:

Recycled Crafts – How to decorate your door like a mummy for Halloween

Uploaded by Christina

Chic Better – How to make Halloween Door Decorations

Facing the Pain

Facing the Pain

Learning to Refocus and Redirect

The diagnosis came.

In May of 2019, on my left side my tongue and lips started to become tingly. I thought I ate something I was allergic to. A couple days later, it had not gotten any better — in fact it was worse. The doctor got me in right away. Initially, they thought I had the first signs of shingles. The chickenpox virus (Zoster Virus) that laid dormant in my system was raring up for a fight. After days of super strength antibiotics and feeling miserable, the pain had spread–knocking in my temple, the left side of my face felt like I was shot up with Novocaine. I burned and tingled. The roof of my mouth and back of my throat was numb. My teeth felt like they had rotted and exposed the root nerves. It was excruciating to put on makeup. Each brush of an applicator on my skin felt like sandpaper. When my hair brush slid over the left side of my scalp, I felt the pressure but dull and weird. How can I feel numb but intense pain at the same time?

I was referred to a neurologist and after monkey tricks like testing my balance, wiggling my tongue, smiling, running a needle over my skin, he called for blood tests and an MRI. Every time I received a health care portal result my heart raced – I’m sure I’m dying. Every blood test came back within normal ranges.

After a whole 7 days, that felt like eternity, the MRI results were back. My brain showed no signs of mass or possible stroke. I have a “great looking brain.” That’s wonderful news; however, I show an atrophy on the left side of my Trigeminal Nerve before it branches into 3 parts. For some unknown reason, the myelin sheath (insulating layer around the nerve that allows electrical impulses to the brain) has shrunk and is squeezing the nerve that runs all three branches on the left side of my face.

I have Trigeminal Neuralgia.

I was diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia-Type 2 (TN2). Highly debated, this rare nervous disorder has fewer than 200,000 US cases per year. It is known as one of the most painful afflictions in medical practice affecting women more then men and ‘typically’ people over 50 years old.

The difference between Type 1 and Type 2 is TN1 tends to have sporadic sudden burning, shooting pain like electrical shocks and TN2 is more of a constant, dull aching or burning.

I don’t know what classifies pain as “dull”, but mine is anything but dull. There are speculated causes—a blood vessel or mass strangling the nerve, yet no definitive treatment, and no DEFINITE cure. I read all about it while I was Google-ing my symptoms. (You can laugh. You know you do it too.) I though for sure, “no way – not me, impossible, too rare, I don’t fit the ‘typical’ mold.”

I cried and wallowed in sorrow when I read the results. There is nothing. NOTHING! that can be done to cure me. NOTHING can be done to fix this. I had 5 more days to wait to see the neurologist again for a plan of attack.

I hate this body I live in. From the high functioning depression, to extreme anxiety that makes my body physically sick, to now this! This is NOT now how I planned to live my days – in constant, sometimes debilitating pain. I have a household to manage, a child to take care of, a business to run, my customers to serve, my work team to take care of, part of my community’s HOA.

I was working hard at two jobs to build my baking business and clientele. I work full time for steady income and was working night hours to grow something for myself. I wanted to start my own bakery, doing want I love, bringing people a “taste” of happiness and creating for the rest of my days.

God has other plans.

The only thing that can be done is to cut my stress levels, take anticonvulsant medication used to block nerve firing and antidepressants to manage pain. Swallowing 600mg of Gabapentin every 5 hours, I became unsteady, my brain was foggy, I struggled with my fine motor skills.

Welp! There goes my business. No more decorating cookies. I can’t even hold a spoon without shaking. I had to cancel orders and take a hiatus. My heart was broken — I lost my function to do what I really enjoyed. Why had God blessed me with this? Why did He take my skill away from me? The only one that can give me answers and help me is God.

I began praying for him to talk to me, waiting for thunder or a whisper in the wind. “Give me something, God,” I thought to myself.

A couple months went by since the diagnosis, 60 days of pain, trying everything: medicine, heating pads, warm showers, not wearing makeup, not creating to try to get rest, sleeping, and praying all to make myself physically feel better. Only my close friends and family knew what was going on. My baking clients just knew I was taking a medical sabbatical.

I took a vacation with my husband and son to see my in-laws. While on vacation, I still was very sleepy from upping the dose of Gabapentin. I would lay in bed and dwell on my new normal. Dread hit me like a ton of bricks. I don’t want to be like this the rest of my life. I’m going to be like this forever. There’s no end. I prayed to God, “Jesus, help me. Talk to me. I don’t want to live like this. I hurt. And medicine multiple times every day. Please……give me something.”

Something came a week later when I was on the phone with my best friend, Jess. “Jess,” I said. ” I lost my joy. I don’t know what I need to do but I need to change. I have a stirring feeling to redecorate my house, maybe we just need to move, change my space, change my habits…something.” However stupid that sounds now, she gets me. You really need to have those people in your life that speak out of love and just get you. I am very fortunate for my Jess. That was my first undeniable gut feeling for change.

A couple days after that I was talking with my boss, my friend. I am fortunate to work for a friend I have known for 18 years. She asked how my vacation went and how I was feeling. “I’m pretty low to be honest. I don’t know what I am supposed to be doing. Something is stirring, but I can’t tell where I am supposed to be. I don’t feel that I can be as detailed and creative as I used to be. I keep praying, but I hear nothing. I feel nothing.” “Let me tell you a little story,” she says. She began to tell me how she was having a really tough time in her career. She was praying constantly, almost every moment of every day, for an answer —was she was supposed to give up on her own business. She said 3 or 4 times, at different random places, people said to her, “You just gotta stick with it.” It finally hit her! Boom! Light switch! She said that was God speaking to her. “My point is,” she continued, “you have to start paying attention to the world around you. God’s not always gonna talk to you when you have the time or you think you’re ready.” That was my second gut check- her words pierced my heart.

Four days later, I was sitting in a church pew waiting for service to begin. A couple I had known for a long time came in to sit in front of me. You know, we all have our unspoken assigned seats in church. He began talking to another person about Joy vs. Happiness. My ears perked up. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I thought, “the most practical place to hear from God–in church.” I text Jess in the middle of service. I told her what I heard and she rejoiced with me. After the message, I walked up to the couple and asked for a hand out that they had on the study. After explaining a little about my situation they directed me to a counselor that had been able to help with their daughter tremendously.

“Doctors, medicine, counselors….really?” All I want to just live and be me. What I didn’t realize then, is God is working on changing me from the inside out. He is calling me and making me seek him.

After a few days of hem and hawing over the idea—not wanting to let my vulnerability show, to even a counselor, I decided I best see if someone else can give me ideas, scripture, places to look, something to consider. I saw….. the counselor.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

— Ephesians 4:1

The first thing I have learned is that joy comes from God. That was a hard pill to swallow, even harder then the two capsules multiple times a day. I couldn’t figure out how, when physical pain was all I felt, to have joy and give my circumstances over to God. It is true my eternal hope is in Jesus Christ, but how do I feel better now and endure? Yes, the ultimate goal is pure bliss beyond understanding in heaven, but it’s so darn hard now! We’ll get into this subject on another blog post.

Time to refocus – learning about my needs.

I have learned more about self care now than I have in my entire life. It’s not massages and pedicures. It’s about taking time for nothing and enjoying it. WHAT?!?! Yes, I said do nothing. I filled every minute of every day with something. I didn’t take the time just to rest, not think about work, or dead lines, pressures, and appointments. I needed to give my brain and body rest with no guilt that I wasn’t accomplishing a “task.” My task is to take care of me and putting me first.

I learned to forgive myself. Even though I thought I had forgiven myself of sins in my life, I still carried the weight of them in my invisible backpack. I allowed them to have a foothold on my soul. Thoughts of, “I’m being punished by this disease. I’ve made too many mistakes. I don’t deserve to be healed,” kept creeping their way in my brain. I learned to let go and let God. If he can forgive me and put it as far as the East from the West, then I need to turn it loose and let it go. (Notice I didn’t say forget. We’ll tackle that another day.)

I learned the word, “No.” I had to start telling people No. I need rest. I need sleep. I need time with my husband and child. I need to be creative. I need time for me to do what I want. I need a unscheduled day to clean out my sock drawer or take a nap. I don’t have to clean the entire house, grocery shop, do laundry, bake a cake and have a baby all at the same time. It’s way to overwhelming and I have done it to myself. I am a task master. Give me my check list and watch me go. My need for physical and mental relaxation are just as important as everyone else’s.

I don’t know who this person is, but it’s completely accurate.

There has been a lot of soul searching and conviction in the past few months, but I am on my journey to a better place. I am not pain free, but I am learning not to look inside myself or someone else for the answers, but to God for guidance. My blessing with TN2 may cause me daily physical pain, but I have since learned that my spiritual, emotional, and mental health all needed fixed. I need to feed myself and I hope my journey convinces you that you do too.

The story of the Starving Baker made me realize that was who I whole heartily was. Outwardly focused when inwardly wasting away.

Are we in the same boat? Do you ever feel that way? Leave me a comment and let me know your struggles. Let’s feed ourselves…

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