more for mom book review

Book Review: More for Mom by Kristin Funston

Books

I enjoy reading books that flow like a comfortable conversation with a good friend over a cup of tea. Real, open, and leaving me challenged and encouraged when I leave that quiet and all-too-brief time in a place of friendship. I found “More for Mom” to be one of those conversational reads.

**I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review to share with my readers (that’s you!). All opinions expressed are entirely my own. This post does contain affiliate links, through which I may make a small commission at no added expense to you. Thank you for your support!**

“More for Mom” reads like a cheerful greeting filled with upbeat wisdom for women (especially moms). Kristin weaves her message of helping moms find more out of life from a solid foundation of scripture and a Christian worldview. That is crucial for women in a culture that is very much all about “me” and “self”. Let’s face it, social media has brought us together in powerful ways; but I was thinking while reading this book that our way of living today has the same potential to isolate people, and in this case, women, from real supportive relationships. Kristin’s timely thoughts are shared from a place of “we’re in this together” vs. saying that she has arrived at the pinnacle of All-Figured-Out way ahead of me as I muddle my way along. She shares from a place of walking with women (and isn’t that what we all should try to do for one another? How many of us have true mentoring relationships to lean on and invest into?).

Early in the book I liked this excerpt:

Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that God, as our Creator, is the One who brings us happiness and joy — both external and internal. And the only way we can get to Him is through His holy Son, Jesus.

My girls are grown but I still wrestle with many of the same challenges in my walk, in my work, and in the pursuit of dreams God has placed in my heart. My happiness and joy come from my relationship with God through his son, Jesus. I appreciate the suggestions Kristin gives about managing priorities, praying over to-do lists, and offering it all to God. It’s about embracing our life right now without every detail needing to be perfect. I like that.

“Do what works best, or do what merely works. Jesus will work out the rest.”

Kristin doesn’t harp on the how-to’s and she doesn’t shy away from direct application of truth. She gives specific helps on ways to draw closer to Christ in the daily burdens of life without ridiculous expectations for perfection. I mean, let’s be real (she is). I’m an introvert at heart and love (need) quiet to recharge. Jesus took time for quiet, too, but as this author writes, Jesus treated people as inclusions, not interruptions. “Jesus reminds us this (people) is why He and we are here.” Point taken by this quiet-craver.

Women need to be reminded that “His wholeness and His holiness take the place of ours. Because of this salvation of ours, our lives are whole and complete, holy and set apart from the world we live in. This life — because of Jesus — doesn’t need more from moms. It gives more for moms.”

Wondering what living this life with Jesus means? Kristin talks about that beautifully, and in particular at the very end. More for Mom will help women discover how our wholeness and holiness both come through Jesus Christ.

PS: I’m giving away one copy of “More for Mom”! If you’d like to be in the drawing here’s what to do: 1) Like my Cancer Smarts Facebook page; 2) Like my post about this review; 3) Comment “Done!” on the FB post.

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I’m a wife, mom, and stage 4 colon cancer survivor who has been NED (“no evidence of disease”) since 2013. I’m happy when I’m enjoying coffee, reading, writing, and spending time with my family. I’m really grateful for wellness support strategies and good books that support living abundantly in the “new normal”.

lilacs in bloom may blooms lavendar natural plants essential oils

May’s Little Black Bag

Cancer, Encouragement

“You know those are kinda strong, right?” said Tom. He looked straight ahead at the road. I grinned and watched him drive. I continued layering on essential oils from a little black bag I carry in my purse.

“Yep. I know. They’ll wear off a bit before we walk into the building.” Maybe.

I do a 30-second nutritional scan every 4-5 days. It’s sort of like a fitness tracker – it uses scientific technology to match up frequencies in my body with frequencies in essential oils. Once the personalized scan report shows me the top essential oils and supplements my body is responding to at that moment, I load up my little black bag for the week and then I layer those liquid gems on my skin each day for wellness support. It takes just three seconds for essential oils to get into my body and they reach every cell in the body within 20 minutes. They release emotional trauma. They are capable of passing the blood-brain barrier. They are a key part of my journey at this time to remain above the wellness line. Most empowering scan for this cancer survivor, ever.

We parked and walked a short distance into the building where my annual CT scan results lay waiting. Ready to pounce? Or ready to send us happily on our way?

“You smell really good, what is that??” asked the receptionist when I checked in at her desk.

Today, friend, my little black bag holds Coriander, Dill, Cardamom, Copaiba, Black Pepper, Frankincense, and Tangerine essential oils that are all rubbed on my wrists. Joy and Aroma Life go over my heart. That doesn’t include what I researched and chose to use at home most of this month such as Sacred Frankincense morning and night on the soles of my feet, over my lungs, cupped in my hands and breathed gratefully into my lungs; alternated nightly with Exodus II on my feet; Thyme and Oregano alternated daily in the morning on my feet; JuvaCleanse in my water and over my liver; Forgiveness over my abdomen; Hope on my ears; Release in the diffuser at night with Lavender; immune support blend rolled on my spine before morning mineral makeup… and Progessence Plus, Lady Sclareol and Sclaressence for support for menopause courtesy of chemo and radiation seven years ago…

“Oh, thanks!” Those were the words I said out loud. Tom had mysteriously moved to the far side of the waiting room. “The scent is from a few (cough) essential oils I wear for wellness support.”

The lab tech took my blood pressure. The reading was higher than usual. That’s how I roll in the oncologist office.

We were led into an exam room. Silence sat with us for a few moments. 50/50 chance of sun or shade. 100 percent chance of God’s love and care.

The oncologist entered with a slight smile on her face.

“I’m happy to tell you that your scans remain stable.” We exhaled. She went over a few more details.

“You mentioned the benign lung nodule when I saw you before the scan a couple weeks ago; has that changed at all from last year?” I asked.

Over the past two weeks, between the pre-scan consultation and the actual CT scan, I did all I knew how to do for a “spring detox”. I went back to the basics of moderate juicing and mostly plant based foods. This is good to do periodically throughout the year anyway, and to be truthful, I feel best when eating this way. I had also been consumed with researching ways to support healthy respiratory and lung function using specific essential oils. A fearsome thought had taken up residence in my head after the consultation. What if, after being clear five years from cancer affecting my colon, the little sleeping lung nodule she keeps talking about could become a new problem?

“Oh, yes, the lung nodule. Let’s see.” The oncologist studied the report on the screen. “No, there is no change. Wait. Actually… it did change.” (Angst.)

“It went from 2 cm down to 1 cm.” (Joy. Whoa.)

We discussed a couple more regular tests she wants me to have. I won’t need annual scans going forward. We’ll just do annual monitoring.

At the checkout desk the staff members were still commenting on how nice whatever I was wearing smelled. I know, right? It’s the best. Simply, the best.

“Thank you! I’m glad you like the scent.”

Tom and I walked out of the building. We looked at each other.

“It could have gone either way. 50/50. People hear a different outcome than we just did, every single day.” He said exactly what I was thinking.

We know and love some of those people.

We’ve been those people.

We could be those people again someday.

Green trees, bright May sunshine, and fresh air.

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me,
    for in you I take refuge.
I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings
    until the disaster has passed.Psalm 57:1


A week after my fifth annual “all clear” visit with the oncologist in May 2018, I was using my oils and thinking about something my dad used to mention. He said there was a lady in his family that used to carry around a little black bag. He thought perhaps she used herbs. This intrigued me because I was trying to support my body in a similar natural fashion through the good gift of essential oils. I asked different family members if they knew whom my father had meant and each person said I needed to call my Aunt Maybelle. She is my dad’s older sister, and she patiently listened to my questions on the phone.

“Of course! That would have been your great grandmother, May Emily Morgan Burd. We called her ‘Ma Burd’. She was a midwife, and she carried a little black bag with herbs in it to help people.” I was grateful to my aunt for sharing her knowledge about my great grandmother.

I have a whole new fondness for my little black bag. I don’t have Ma Burd’s knowledge of nursing people and helping them with herbs; but you’d better believe I will keep right on filling my own little black bag with the herbal goodness from essential oils. They are one key blessing among many things I do to try and stay above the wellness line.

may emily morgan burd daniel ferris burd

May Emily Morgan Burd, seated with my grandmother, baby Verna Burd, on her lap; daughter Vera, Daniel Ferris Burd, and their son, Robert. Thanks to Aunt Maybelle for her help with my questions. Thanks to my mom for forwarding me this photo.

 


stage four colon cancer survivor

Sharon O’Connor is a wife, mom, and stage 4 colon cancer survivor who has been NED (“no evidence of disease”) since 2013. She loves coffee, writing, and taking walks with her husband, Tom, and their adopted Pug-Maltese mix, Ace. Sharon is grateful for wellness support strategies that work and that have helped support her personal journey with cancer.

[ More about Sharon ]

Sharon’s Note: As always, information I share about my personal journey with cancer is never intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. Only your awesome doctor can do that kind of stuff. I DO intend to share strategies that have given me hope in a hugely hopeless situation. I started using essential oils in Spring 2017. God puts the things we need in our paths at the time we need them and oils have been a game changer for my life as a cancer survivor. You can see different resources I’ve used along the way since 2010 on the What I Did That Helped page.

 

 

psalm 103 forsythia praise yellow green perennials spring flowers

He’s Concerned About You

Cancer, Healing after Treatment

The local oncology office was quiet last week when I checked in for my pre-scan appointment. I sat and watched rain trickle down the window.

“Sharon?”

There were two other people in the reception area and no one moved. I guess that would be me.

The lab tech smiled and walked me into the room where phlebotomy chairs wait for cancer people to have blood drawn. Her scrub top had a Marvel Comics theme and we talked about the finer points of Marvel vs DC Comics. I asked her what the difference was and she explained with great enthusiasm. I don’t think I can explain it back to you. She cheerfully checked my vitals and asked a few basic questions before another assistant led me down the hallway into an exam room.

“Have your medications changed?”

She showed me a list from 2013 and we updated it to show no medications in 2018.

“Okay! The doctor will be with you shortly.” The door closed quietly.

The oncologist asked a few questions about how I’m feeling (fine).

“Are you breathing okay?” The stethoscope moved methodically across my back and I was told to breathe in. Breathe out. Wait. Shouldn’t I be breathing okay?? I mean, I don’t run marathons, but I don’t need an oxygen mask walking up the hill behind our house, so…

I left the office with lab work completed and instructions to pre-register for my fifth annual CT scan since being NED (no evidence of disease) in 2013.

The visit made me feel stressed and anxious. I struggled to pinpoint the reason.

Why do they seem to *expect* you to be feeling bad physically and then act puzzled when you’re doing pretty decently well?

Why does scheduling an annual CT-scan make me feel like I have PTSD?

Why do I even need to have this scan? Ah. There it is.

My “new normal” body works differently, but it works well. Me and my current inventory of organs get along pretty okay together. What if the test inadvertently causes more problems than it solves from, say, too much radiation? The oncologist even brought that up as a long term concern. What if the scan finds a new problem? Like that stable “benign lung nodule” thing they have brought up the past two years that I never even knew I had in my possession during the entire previous six years?

Maybe I don’t need to know my current status. I feel fine. I’m not even sure I would go through more standard medical treatment if cancer were to return. Let’s leave well enough alone. These are the frantic thoughts in my head one week each year.

Actually I think this way almost every week in the year, but there is only one week when I have to decide how strongly I really feel about the potential ramifications of medical procedures. This is why personal blogs are useful so one can write the words they don’t want to be heard shouting out loud to kind medical professionals doing their jobs.

And who, in the medical world, cares about my cancer-recovery-related concerns?

I left the office determined to eat more plants, juice more carrots, and to earnestly examine my stash of essential oils for ones I know may specifically support my efforts to stay above a particular wellness line.

Well-being – in spite of our physical circumstances – is a conversation that starts inside of us. Me. You.

I’m learning through this continuing process to speak praise from my inmost being to God. HE is the one who satisfies my desires with good things even when I may want to fear the worst. He is always concerned about me in the big frantic obvious things and the little quiet subtle things of life.

Psalm 103:1-5 says,

“Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Read Psalm 103 Here

I’ve been listening to CeCe Winans on Pandora and last week I heard this song for the very first time. God cares enough to send unexpected gifts that minister to us on a very personal level.

God is concerned about me.

God is also concerned about you.

Click the image to play this subtle and beautiful reminder of God’s loving concern:

Lyrics for “He’s Concerned” by CeCe Winans:

God is, just a prayer away
All you need to do is call
He will hear, your faintest cry
He’s concerned about you

So while your tears are flowing through
Your time of mourning
He is here to lift your heavy heart
‘Cause He’s in love with you

He knows
He cares
He sees
He’s there
And He’ll carry you
He’s concerned about you

Weeping may endure for the night

But the morning will bring joy
He won’t give, you more than you can bear
He’s concerned about you

He loves you, oh yes
He loves you, ooooo
He loves you, I know He does, He really does
He’s concerned about you

He knows
He cares
He sees
He’s there
He’ll carry you
He’s concerned about you

He knows
He cares
He sees
He’s there
He’ll carry you
He’s concerned about you


stage four colon cancer survivorSharon O’Connor is a wife, mom, and stage 4 colon cancer survivor. She loves coffee, writing, playing piano, and taking walks with her husband, Tom, and their adopted Pug-Maltese mix, Ace. Sharon is grateful for wellness support strategies that work and that have helped support her personal journey with cancer.

[ More about Sharon ]

stress and cancer

Cancer Smarts: Twelve Things about Carrying Stress (and how to not let it break you down)

Cancer, Cancer Resources, Encouragement

“It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.” – Lou Holtz

The truth in this statement is a little painful to acknowledge. I’ve been good at some things in life. Carrying heavy loads has not been one of them. The context for every person is different but the problems from stress are very real! Since I can’t quite tell you how to keep from getting cancer allow me to share some things I’ve learned about dealing with the stress-load of life as a cancer survivor.

1. You can’t do it all.

2. Let people help.

3. Do work that you love.

4. If you don’t love your work and a change is not feasible, do things you love outside of work to recharge and refresh and protect your sanity and joy.

5. It’s OK to be angry. It’s not OK to not deal with anger properly.

6. Know your personality. Are you energized by being with people, or away from people? I unashamedly make it a point to do things that nourish my body, mind, soul and spirit. Therefore I purposefully avoid things, people and places that sap my body, mind, soul and spirit. I recharge in quietness. You can actually take a free personality test right here to gain insight into your personality: https://jacobadamo.com/personality-colors-quiz/

7. Take care of yourself. Eat right. Exercise gently in a way the helps your body and doesn’t hurt physically. Sleep plenty. Get fresh air. Soak in natural sunshine for 15-20 minutes without sunscreen. Walk barefoot. Be grateful.

8. Take care of your soul. When I don’t spend time with God through scripture reading and prayer I notice a difference in my outlook and the way I handle stress throughout the day. When I stop and start the day with time talking to the God who created me and knows every detail of my past, present, and future, I’m grounded. Settled. De-stressed. Focused. Loved.

9. Simplify your life.

10. Get things right with God.

11. Get things right with the people you love.

12. Show kindness and respect to the people you don’t love.

12a. Cheery fresh flowers make burdens lighter.

It’s all connected.

Cutting out a tumor can remove the cancer. What about the environment in the body that allowed the cancer to grow? Perhaps we need to find ways to nourish and heal the body beyond the standard cutting, poisoning and burning approaches of cancer treatment. I speak respectfully from personal experience. I went through treatment twice. The first time we were flat out running through a gauntlet of fear. The second time I was angry and I tried to use that anger to arm myself with knowledge. I felt less stress about the situation; I felt like I had some control in the chaos after I prayed with my husband. We did our best to make decisions armed with faith and good information. We were confident that, no matter the outcome, God was (and is) in control.

I am not telling you to not go to your oncologist (I did). I’m telling you that you’ll need to accept responsibility to really understand the impact of treatment upon your body. What are the pro’s and con’s? Are there ways to protect the body during chemo and radiation while helping standard medical treatment approaches to work better? What are you, the person who will go through this treatment, comfortable with, in conjunction with your doctor?

Once you pray and consider all options, you go forward one day at a time.

“Stress has a profound impact on how your body’s systems function,” says Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D., professor of General Oncology and Behavioral Science, and director of the Integrative Medicine Program at MD Anderson. Health experts are still sorting out whether stress actually causes cancer. Yet there’s little doubt that it promotes the growth and spread of some forms of the disease. Put simply, “stress makes your body more hospitable to cancer,” Cohen says.” The article goes on to share information about two kinds of stress – short term stress, and chronic stress, which is long-term and more damaging. Read the article here: https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/december-2014/how-stress-affects-cancer-risk.html.html

I believe there was not just one single thing that allowed cancer to thrive in my body. There were many little and big things combined that tipped the balance towards disease over a long period of time. It has taken time to tip the balance back to current wellness (by the grace of God). Stress is real and so are strategies to help cancer patients and cancer survivors manage the business of living well during our remaining time on earth.

Verses that help me cope with stress:

2 Timothy 1:7 NIV, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

Psalm 20:1 NIV, “[ Psalm 20 ] [ For the director of music. A psalm of David. ] May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.”

Proverbs 18:10 NIV, “The name of the Lord is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”

Psalm 90:14 NIV, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

How do you find help to deal with stress as a cancer patient or cancer survivor, or supporter?

PS: Something I love to do is take photos of nature. Here’s a fun picture from the countryside near where I grew up. Enjoy!

Racoon

[ See more photos ]


stage four colon cancer survivorSharon O’Connor is a wife, mom, and stage 4 colon cancer survivor. She loves coffee, writing, playing piano, and taking walks with her husband, Tom, and their adopted Pug-Maltese mix, Ace. Sharon is grateful for wellness support strategies that work and that have helped support her personal journey with cancer.

[ More about Sharon ]