5 Ways to Survive the Holidays with Chronic Illness

surviving-the-holidays-with-3If you live with chronic illness you know normal days can take extra effort, but if you throw in an extra holiday wild card  you can have a massive meltdown on your hands that requires weeks of recovery.

Here are a few things I’ve gleaned over the past twenty years of holidays (please share your ideas in the comments):

  • Take an extra rest before the day arrives. (I can hear you laughing now, especially if you have kids). This doesn’t have to look like a long nap, but every little bit of going to bed earlier makes a difference.
  • Plan ahead. For someone with fatigue, Christmas starts well before Thanksgiving. Making a list, doing your shopping online, and wrapping one present when you get a minute can keep the work from overwhelming you at the end.
  • Scale back. When I was hurling over the sink in-between chasing a toddler one Christmas, Ifound myself depressed at the thought of not making our family’s traditional cookies. We dragged ourselves to the store, purchased pre-made dough, and added M&M’s. She didn’t care. Those photos are some of my favorite ones we’ve ever taken because the grin on her face was pure bliss that mom wasn’t micromanaging.
  • copy-of-wh30-ways-toCut the family drama. If your family even remotely resembles the Griswold’s (Hi Mom! I’m speaking hypothetically here, I promise), there’s plenty of emotion to go around the whole year. Walk away. Take a break. Take a nap. Whatever it takes to recharge your body and your soul. Do your best not to engage or take sides.
  • Hydrate. This is probably my favorite one because it has made quite possibly the biggest difference for me. (I have low blood volume so results may vary). Drinking an electrolyte beverage and lots of good, pure water leading up to the event makes a huge difference. Also avoiding stimulants (other than my coffee) helps minimize my recovery days.

This list is far from exhaustive and I’d love to hear from you. How do you do the holidays with chronic illness?

How to Shop for Your Kids’ Christmas Presents

14976328_10154696771657556_6468493716713906075_oWe do it honest lazy around here. The kid doesn’t believe in Santa.

I asked for a list. Turns out she doesn’t want much.

#herowncastle #aflyingunicorn

What do your kids want this year?

You are Strong


I live in the south where sometimes people break into random conversations with strangers.

(We do that here. It’s called “being polite”. For introverts, it’s called “being assaulted”.)

It can happen anywhere, any time, and recently it happened to me.

A stranger asked me what I do, and I said, I write books for teenagers. How ironic, she said, because she teaches school to teenagers.

There was that awkward silence that happens when you’ve been assaulted, and so I blurted, “What do you want to pass on to your students most?”

And she said, “Respect. There’s so little of it these days.”

Then she got on her phone and cussed out her husband for being late to pick her up.

(True story.)

That wasn’t the only assault that happened that day. A few minutes later I stared at a TV screen and heard another stranger say, “Do you see those two lines right there? YOU’RE HAVING ANOTHER GIRL!”

And my husband’s eyes got big and my three-year-old shouted “NO!” and I thought Heavens To Leah, what are we going to do?

Don’t get me wrong, I am crazy about girls. I am one. I wrote a book for some. Because hey, I navigated some strange teenage years while trying to figure out the most important thing, which was, ironically, what that school teacher said I needed most—respect.

For myself.


Let me tell ya, sometimes when you have two X chromosomes, you’re going to get the wrong message. You have to coach yourself that you can do anything a man can do. That you are gifted and talented and intelligent. That beauty is overrated.

And so as I stared at that giant television screen with no penis staring back at me I thought, how in the world am I going to teach TWO innocent little girls what I struggled for so many years to figure out? I mean, I could hand them this newspaper column, but somehow that lacked the motherly touch.

And then, out of the panicked silence, my inner voice reminded me… you have to learn to respect yourself. Again.

So here I am, and this is my declaration: I refuse to yell at myself inwardly for not being “man enough”. I refuse to tip-toe toward my dreams while thinking I can’t accomplish what’s in my heart. I refuse to sit by while others do what I have always wanted to do.

And I refuse to forget that part of what I’ve always wanted to do is love two little girls—little girls who are relying heavily on me to show them what respect really is.

New Release!

9780310749691_imageWe’ve had our own brand of crazy over here at the Martin house (more on that soon), but I wanted to make sure you know about this–

I feel super blessed to have shared my thoughts in the study notes for this Bible! Have you picked up your copy? Not for my sake, but because Zondervan has just done an awesome job compiling so many useful tools in this version.

Pick it up for your group or for yourself today!


I Believe in You


I see you wandering there…

When you think you’re all alone.

Can no one else see the ocean that threatens to swallow?






How did you reach this empty place?

I want to hold you. 

To hit the brakes, grab your hand, and grasp it until you know…

You are not alone.

I believe in your story.

I believe that those who visit the barren places will not return empty.

I believe anyone who ever changed the world first visited the wilderness.

I see it in your eyes–that you are about to spring into a depth you never knew existed.

Dear Friend,

I believe in your story.