Sophia Sunshine Vilceus's Blog: In His Will

January 11, 2019

For the last week, I have broken out in hives in all different parts of my body. Because I have never experienced this before, I had no idea these outbreaks were in fact hives until I went to my PCP, days after the initial outbreak. When I got there, the nurse practitioner who tended to me was dismissive, aloof, and simply unhelpful.

She prescribed me a topical ointment for the itch and told me to get over-the-counter Claritin. When I asked for some blood-work, she refused. Instead she said, “if it happens again, just come back.” I left frustrated and with the same issue that I came in with, and absolutely no answers. Over the course of the week, as my hives did not subside, I called the doctor’s office every single day, trying to get blood-work, to no avail. The only thing I got was a referral to see an allergist...that could not see me for another two weeks.

I was itchy and my skin was not the only thing irritated.

In one last attempt, I made an emergency appointment and made sure to not get the same nurse practitioner. The Physician’s Assistant that tended to me was caring, diligent, and thorough and had wonderful bedside manner. He paid attention to things that the other nurse didn’t even think of asking.

Then he left...for about 30 min to speak to the Doctor on next steps.

For half an hour, waiting in a doctor’s office mind began to go to worst-case scenarios.

Why was he taking so long?

What were they preparing to tell me?

My mind continued to go and go until it landed on my mama. Aha! That explained why my BP had been over the roof, and my pulse increasingly fast as they took my vitals. That explained my utter frustration with this situation. This wasn’t simply about some hives. This reaction is because I know the consequences of having a PCP dismiss and dismiss the legitimate concerns of a patient…

He did that to my mother until her cancer had spread too far and too wide, in spite of her incessant cries for help in the form of excessive doctor visits.

I carry that heaviness, that trauma, that reality with me somewhere in the depths of myself. And it shows up every single time I see someone in a white coat.

And so I acknowledged that in quiet prayer in that doctor’s office today and reminded myself again and again that I will not have the same fate as my mamma. I tapped into her strength and advocated for myself until my PCP agreed to do some lab work and a different course of treatment…

MY BP went back to normal. And I continue to call on Jehova Rapha until these hives and these hurts vanish.
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Published on January 11, 2019 12:24 • 26 views • Tags: doctors, healing, hives, hurt, patients, sophiasunshine, whitecoatsyndrome

December 29, 2018

It’s no secret that Christmas has undeniably been the hardest time of the year for me since my mother has passed. It was her favorite holiday. She had everyone’s gifts purchased, wrapped underneath her tree, behind the nativity scene, by Thanksgiving--that’s who she was: thoughtful, prepared, meticulous, early.

I have so many memories of us putting together our elaborate, artificial tree up together. Putting up the outdoor lights, freezing together. And making fresh potpourri for the bathrooms, as we changed the hand-towels to Christmas-inspired ones, together.

Every year, I’ve had to do something slightly nuanced for Christmas to survive, to cope. But this year was different--I was no longer in survival mode. There was an unexplainable peace that was genuine and not forced. It’s a peace that only God could give. A peace that is produced from reflection, growth, and acceptance.

I got a real tree for the first time ever. In many ways, it was representative of the space that I inhabit now. I decorated my home. I stopped waiting for when I have a husband or children to create the memories that matter. I just did everything that I hope to do then, now: made a lavish breakfast and dinner. Put up stockings. Had a wonderful Bible study with my brother in our matching pj’s. Was present. Cuddled with my dog. Placed my mom’s Gold Leaf Refresher all on my potpourri in every room. Talked to my best friend for hours until nightfall came.

Christmas wasn’t hard because I changed my expectations of what it ought to be. I zeroed in on Jesus more than my grief. That was a game changer.

I am thankful.
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Published on December 29, 2018 05:45 • 23 views • Tags: christmas, christmaseve, holidays, sophiasunshine, tradition

December 16, 2018

This weekend, we said goodbye to my sweet friend, Beatrix. I was so moved by how her life was one that has been characterized by simple, lavish, consistent, thorough, constant, unconditional, pure love. What a life.

My hope is that my life would be characterized like that. Not only when I pass away. But as I live.

Of course, being present for her wake, funeral, and burial naturally had me thinking about my own mother. As I drove back home in the calm of a rainy, dark night last night, I gave myself permission to fully meditate about all the things that I had been intentional about not thinking too excessively about at Bebe’s homegoing (in order for me not to spiral): the holidays...grief...the meaning of life, the sting of death, sweet friendship, among other things…

As I thought of Bebe’s three children who have lost their mother, I imagined how I would answer them if they asked me, “how does it feel to be a motherless child?” My answer would reflect a beautiful and Holy encounter I had with one of my best sister-friends this weekend...

My two best friends, I love for a million and one reasons. But one of those million and one reasons is that they and their family love me like I am their family. There is a refreshing level of comfort and familiarity that they bring to me, simply because they’ve been a part of my life since I was 12.

I stayed the weekend with my friend in her childhood home. Seeing portraits of her family, such a unit, on the walls, that I have seen since I was a teenager was special. Her ability to sleep in her childhood room, and have her parents pray over her, after slipping her a little gas money before she hit the road was so beautiful to me. Sacred even. Seeing how her parents kept hoping that she would stay just a tad little longer was sweet. Perhaps a typical experience for many. But a foreign one for me.

My friend and I spoke about how I haven’t slept in my childhood home, for roughly 8 years...Losing a mom is something like that. It’s knowing you come from someone, belong to someone, and that you belong somewhere...but no longer having a concrete place of reference about where home is: where your covering is. Losing a mother makes the world exponentially bigger, as you at times feel exponentially smaller. It’s scary, it’s lonely at times, it’s complicated, it’s sad.

God has given me a tremendous amount of peace this season… He has given me the assurance that He will gift me a husband who loves his daughter and wife so much that he will have the fortitude and love so pure that he will pray for them and over them.

He has given me the sweet reminder that my friends are also my home...that a Godly family has the aptitude to bless not only the kids that they’ve raised, but the kids from the neighborhood that still look to them.

God also reminded me that: no, I haven’t had it easy. And a lot of my close friends’ experience with family have not been mine. And there is no reason to feel sorry for myself because I have made it. And still am making it, despite of...

God reminded me that He has provided for me, covered me, loved me, reared me, parented me, mothered me, fathered me, prayed for me in the physical absence of my mother and the many absences of my father.

God is good even when the circumstances are horrible. His grace is the biggest marking of my life. That brings me to such grateful tears.

So, dear friends-- those of who you who are freshly mourning, or reminded of old wounds in this Holy but sometimes tough season...even if your feelings are at war with it, keep your faith. And when that gets hard, keep those around you that have some.

Stay well & be encouraged. Xo

Matthew 5:4
Psalms 34:18
Psalms 118:14
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Published on December 16, 2018 13:08 • 65 views • Tags: beatrix, bebe, comfort, gospel, grief, love, mothers, sophiasunshine

November 6, 2018

I’ve been sour all day. First, I attributed my mood to the gloomy weather, or the lady who hung up the phone on me when I was trying to make a dental appointment for my grandmother, or because my students bombard me with emails, asking me questions, I know I have patiently addressed a trillion times, or because I started my day off with lesson planning in my head, instead of sweet, quiet devotional time.

Yes, all these things contributed to me being a little grumpy and not like myself… but I know what’s at the root of all these feelings…

This morning, when I finally did get my act together and carved out time for my devotional...God led me to the book of John...the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, after he had been in his tomb for four days...I’ve read this story so many times, but today I really felt for Mary and Martha--Lazarus’ sisters… Their frustration about Jesus not coming soon enough, according to their watch, really resonated with me.

And then it happened. I was triggered to remember an ongoing dream that I’ve had so often. So regularly, for years. I haven’t had it recently. But it’s a dream of my mother. In the dream, she’s always either dead or in the hospital. But it’s always a mistake. And we literally, dig her out of the grave, and she’s alive. Or we speak to someone in the hospital, and tell them they’ve got her confused with some other patient. And then she goes home. Totally healthy. And totally whole.

Reading that scripture today for me, reminded me of the wondrous power of Jesus. Then, I got angry: wondering why He didn’t do for my mother, what He did for Lazarus.

Grief is heavy and weird sometimes.
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Published on November 06, 2018 13:01 • 41 views • Tags: grief

October 6, 2018

It's been a tough couple of weeks for me. While I was maneuvering through my rut, I just didn't have the energy or will-power to pick up phone calls: always a tell-tale sign I am not functioning at my best.

But as the clouds began to lift, though I wasn't feeling a 100%, I pushed myself to return a phone call of a loved one--glad I did. She was hurting. She was going through it, herself. Big time.

I sat on the other end of the line, mostly silent as she proceeded to ask some really tough questions. She cried. She was angry at herself. Her circumstances and her emotions had gotten heavier than what she could bare.

I didn't have eloquent words to say. I knew that it would do a disservice to her and our moment if I the Holy Spirit just urged me to sit with her, and let her weep. (A lesson I've gleaned from unpacking the Book of Job recently.)

As I climbed into her mess and her hurt with her...I had a clear picture of what God was doing for me through my own depressive episode... He just sat there. With me. For me.

And I am immensely thankful for that. Sometimes God doesn't seem like He's speaking or doing. But He is always, willing to climb into my mess with me Grace to eventually be pulled out.

Thankful for clarity. Thankful for the clouds that have lifted. Grateful that God always desires to sit with me.
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Published on October 06, 2018 11:27 • 48 views • Tags: youcansitwithus

September 21, 2018

Week two has been all about letting go. There is so much knowledge and awareness that I have about swimming now...I now know that we are more buoyant when our heads are under water. Our bodies naturally float in deeper water...It's all about how you move your legs...

I know more stuff now. But I couldn't do more stuff until I let go. Cuz I can be intellectual as much as I want, but if I don't allow myself to let go of the wall, of the flotation device or of my inhibitions, I just will not swim.

So after my first lesson, I went back to the pool alone and worked up the courage to let go...It felt so good to kick my feet up and just go for it.

This week, I learned how to free float. I can move in the water now.

I am not able to do a back float yet, but I could do more than I was willing and able to do last week. And that feels damn good,
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Published on September 21, 2018 07:18 • 12 views • Tags: let-go, progress, swimming

September 12, 2018

I've committed to working towards some personal goals within the next 7 months, as I enthusiastically approach 30. I am approaching these goals not in a "girl, you better get your life before 30!" condescending kind of way...but more like a gentle "gosh, you have become so much in your twenties...this is the perfect opportunity to do the things you've put off."

With that said, I've decided to learn how to swim, at 29. I wished my parents had put me in swimming-classes when I was a toddler--things would be easier now. But they didn't, so the onus is on me and I take responsibility for that.

Last night was my very first lesson. And I was a little anxious about it before getting there, if I'm honest. I don't have a fear of the water, per se. Actually, I love the water. Its more so that I have a fear of being out of control. I have a fear of having my feet not be on solid ground. The idea of floating in water is just scary to me, just like the idea of taking off in a plane is because I am not in control! Pre-lesson #1: I never really am in control. So I need to stop fronting like I am.

Learning how to swim is not just something to check off my bucket list, but I think it's a conquering of something deeper. It's me conquering the feelings of fear, inadequacy, doubt and even shame... It's me understanding that it's okay for me to feel "out of control" in the elements...

So every week, after my lesson, I will be sharing what I learned and what challenged me.

I did well for my first lesson. I really felt that. And my instructor also reinforced that for me. But what I struggled with? Back floating. Yea, I know! Who does back-floating on their first lesson, yo! I wasn't ready for that. Interestingly enough, I was decent with floating with my face in the water (with something to hold on to in near sight)...but floating on my back was just a challenge. I wasn't able to do it (yet).

I could react in two ways....the way I usually do and internally beat myself up and say something like this: I knew you wouldn't be able to do it...OR... I could be gentle and forgiving of I whispered to myself: you are doing great, will get it...The fact that you're here is brave enough.
My inability to get the back-float just encouraged me to want to practice and practice and practice. It lit a fire in me. I want to get this!

One thing my instructor kept saying to me was: you know what to do intellectually but you're tensing up. Whoa! What a word! Every time I had to let my body surrender to the water, I tensed up to "protect myself" because as my instructor shared with me, "I just don't trust the water yet."

Nothing happens until I surrender. But surrender is so hard when you don't fully trust...So I am working on trusting the water and trusting myself...and I'm excited to see how that will manifest into me trusting in other areas of my life.

So...I am not there yet. But I am making moves to get there. I cannot wait for the day where I am back-floating in the sea, humming "I Surrender All..." #Surrender
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Published on September 12, 2018 08:39 • 30 views • Tags: surrender, swimming

September 8, 2018

These last two weeks have been a whirlwind. Began the new semester. Acclimated to a new University. Traveled home and confronted lots of people and emotions. It was just a lot of movement and more than anything today, I wanted to be still..

I slept in till about 11:30, had some sweet Jesus time with my puppy and my hot coffee on the patio. I basked in the changing of seasons, as I relished in the brisk Fall air--I am beginning to think that Fall is my new favorite season. So much much vibrant.

I purposely didn't take any phone calls today. Just needed a day to refuel and replenish. Had a deep conditioner in my hair all day and I just laid on my couch, watching movies... I gave myself permission to mindlessly scroll through social media. I kept my candles lit all day....I was gentle with myself and didn't get hung up on not doing some of the writing, I anticipated on getting done.

Yes, today was a sweet day. A day to be nowhere and embrace the sweetness of rain. A day to just be and lavish myself with generous self care. Thank God for lazy Saturdays. Thank God for life.
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Published on September 08, 2018 17:42 • 18 views • Tags: fall, ladysaturday, peace, rest, stillness, writing

July 4, 2018

Last night, I stayed up like a giddy kid that had a snow day because I knew I didn’t have work today. 4th of July, and I was anticipating a day off.

I woke up this morning and wasn’t feeling giddy and wasn’t completely sure why. I didn’t wake up with that zest that I try to find every morning. Instead, I arose with an innate dissatisfaction. Some days are like that, I guess.

I made some coffee, took the dog for a quick walk in my pjs, made two eggs and toast, showered and went to the gym.... It wasn’t until I got to the parking lot of the gym that I realized what that hollow emptiness in me, was. In the middle of the parking lot, I came to my realization because there were what seemed to be tons of people, particularly families, doing last minute grocery shopping for the 4th together.

And it hit me like a ton of bricks, I so desperately want that too. More than anything, I wanted that day-- that kind of holiday. I want my fine husband grilling, while my children are sucking on popsicles and cannon-balling in the pool. I want to be looking at them in awe, wondering: “what did I do to merit this awesomely beautiful, full life,” in my form fitting-sundress, sipping some iced-tea. Yea, that’s what I want. That’s what I want most days, particularly days that are filled with family and fun. I want a family and I want tremendous fun.

So I let off some steam on my punching bags at my kickboxing class. I told God, yet again, what I desire. And I came home...and I cleaned my little apartment, barefoot. I swept my patio, as I appreciated the sun. I watered my plants, being mindful of all that is growing in my life. I straightened up my bathroom and I vacuumed and lit a candle. I treated my home as though it was filled with the people I have already prayed for. And I chose to be overwhelmingly grateful for what I have, while not dismissing what I want and also not meditating on what I don’t yet have.

Then Luke 16:10 came to mind: He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. So I’m opting to be faithful with the little that I do have in this season... knowing one July 4th soon...I will be wishing that I had the time and opportunity to sneak away, be still and alone because my family will be that consuming.

God. I just can’t wait for the day where I can celebrate my independence from having to be so dependent on myself. I can’t wait for when those tiny, amazing lives and that handsome man are dependent on me.

I wait in expectation.
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Published on July 04, 2018 14:40 • 116 views • Tags: alone, expectation, faith, holiday, love, prayers, singlehood, sophiasunshine, women

April 18, 2018

I came into 29, grateful to be alive and well, yet feeling overwhelmingly empty and lacking love. Not too long before my birthday, I decided to make peace with where I was, particularly emotionally and financially. I reasoned that 29 would be the year of acceptance. And I fully accepted that though I wasn’t going to be laid up on a beach for my birthday, like I had hoped, I would make the absolute best of the day, with what I had.

I woke up early and went running, did my nails and hair and basked in a little more self-care than usual. But somehow the day was not enough. Though I received a few sweet messages and gestures from loved ones, my mind kept wandering back to the people who forgot about me. Who didn’t call or text. The people that I have intentionally poured into with my time and my love--those people forgot. They forgot all about me. And it was a sobering realization that I am not loved at the capacity in which I love.

I was brutally reminded about this lack of love, everytime a “well-meaning” aunt shared her wish of me finding a man and not having to be alone next year. I wanted to retort back and let them know that being alone is not what I desired for myself either! I also wanted to remind them of all that I am and have done without a man. But I had to press on, with bruised feelings, as per usual. But I am not used to bruised feelings on my birthday.

So, my birthday came and went. I didn’t make a big deal of it this year and the ones I love didn’t either. It made me realize why I am often so intentional about celebrating myself--I am scared that folks won’t do it for me. I through grand celebrations for myself and folks take part. But this time, in not doing so for myself, others didn’t either. I came to very specific moment...I had to make a decision on whether I was going to let others not loving me in the capacity I need and want, deter me from loving them well. I chose to continue to be myself. And to love well. Because frankly, I think it makes me me. It sets me apart. And I like to be apart.

So...I am not exactly where I want to be. I want more out of my life. And I want more love. I won’t let my birthday dictate what this year is going to be for me. I am hopeful and prayerful that I am going to find so much love that matches my love-- in family, in chosen family, in a man, and in my crew. I am hopeful and prayerful that I will travel more and go on those trips that I’ve been itching to go on. And that I will find more financial stability, and stability in general, in my career. I am prayerful and hopeful that Jesus will show me the way and pick up these broken feelings and make something awesome out of them.

I came into 29 alive and well...but damn it. I’m gonna get to my happy too.
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Published on April 18, 2018 16:38 • 74 views • Tags: 29, birthday, love, sophiasunshine