Thursday, November 10, 2011

These last few weeks until D-day


9 months ago, this word made me excited.  It meant there was a package coming to my door, disguised as something I bought off Amazon or a piping hot pizza.  Then I got pregnant, and it was a word that had a far-offness to it.  Oh sure, "delivery" of a baby would come sometime, but there was SO much time!  Then we found out we were having twins, and then "delivery" would be in an OR instead of the posh labor room with the nice pictures and the comfy beds.

Now we're looking at T minus 14 days, tops, until that day arrives, and I have mixed feelings.  Half of me says, "I'M READY!"  Every time I stand up, I feel like an iron wedge is pushing against my pelvis, the pain is so bad, especially at night, that a trip to the bathroom is reminiscent of my grandpa before his stroke, only I don't have the walker.  I can't even stand up.  I'm giving myself shots of blood thinner twice/day now, and my stomach is black and blue all over.  To kiss Jason, I have to suck in a gasp of air, because I can't kiss him and breathe at the same time anymore.  To get out of bed requires a 6-point maneuver, that half the time results in me kicking either Jason or Pancake in the face.  I'm done being pregnant.  I'm ready to exercise again and feel like my body is more than an incubator.  I'm SO over riding the motorized cart around the store.

But then, the other half of me is scared to death.  I'm scared of the day itself.  Do I get an epidural?  I have scoliosis- what if they miss and I am paralyzed?  What if they miss something in the blood count and I either develop blood clots that kill me from lack of a blood thinner, or I hemmorage to death because I have TOO much blood thinner in me?  And then- oh- sometimes life with Jason the way it is right now is perfect.  Two babies are going to muck all that up with their neediness of our time/energy (and those of you reading this, judging me for feeling this way- you are obviously the perfect woman.  I am not.  Don't rub it in).  We have a good life, my husband and I.  It's relatively easy and free of drama.  We come and go as we please.  Our biggest decisions tend to be about whether we'll have chicken or steak for dinner.

Oh, but then that first half rears its head again, and I feel these boys kicking me, and I see their little faces on the ultrasound monitor, and I get SO excited to meet the little men that God, for some reason, let us have 2 of.  I feel their kicks and am excited to see what kind of faces have been growing in me since March.  I'm excited to smell that baby smell and feel washed in that motherly love everyone raves so much about.  BUT-, just as quickly, I get overwhelmed thinking of how tired I'll be.  Of how tired Jason will be (and he can be a little cranky when he hasn't slept).  Breastfeeding scares me...even though we're determined to make it work...I'm scared of failing at it, or moreso, failing my boys (again, if you breastfed great....a round of applause for you.  If you want to tell me it's okay to use a formula, know that I appreciate the support, but we're saying "no thanks" to formula, so no need to share). 

For every excited thought I have about D-day, I have an equal and opposite moment of terror.  I will say hello to 2 new loves in my life and goodbye to life as I know it with Jason, forever.  We both will have multiple and countless opportunities to mess these kids up for life.  *sigh*  It's all changing in 14 days.

Or less.

Maybe until then I should order something off Amazon and have a large pepperoni from Papa Johns make its way over to our house.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My little Sams

Sammy has arthritis.  It's in his front, right leg, so it makes walking hard for him...since dogs put the majority of their weight on their front legs.  If you don't have a dog, then you won't understand.  If you do, then you know that they are a part of your family.  Sammy has been my boy for 8 years now.  He's been with me since I started nursing school.  He moved with me to El Paso.  He was with me when I was lonely, and he was with me when Jason came into the picture.  I LOVE him.

Anyway, he keeps exacerbating his condition, which he's had a for a while now.  He'd have troubles, we'd do some treatment, he'd feel better and then try to act like a puppy again.  Or he'd jump on our bed (or jump off) and hurt his leg all over again.  A few weeks ago, he hurt it pretty bad.  I took him to the vet.  She gave him an anti-inflammatory to take for 5 days, and it seemed to help immensely.  We stopped the medicine, he tried to jump on the bed, and now we're right back to where we started.

Last night, at 1:30am, I tried to get him to go outside to potty, and he took a few steps, and then just stopped.  He wouldn't move, and I heard him wince from the pain.  He was shaking from it.  I sat down and called him, but he wouldn't come to me.  Jason had to carry him to the yard to potty (and he weighs 75 pounds, so this isn't easy), and then carry him back in.  Then, for the next 2 hours (and I'm going to partly blame crazy pregnancy hormones for this), I cried.  I bawled for my puppy.  I envisioned us having to put him down and not knowing how on earth I could ever make that decision.  I pictured our house without him in it, and I couldn't stop crying.  I finally wore myself out and fell asleep around 3:45...only to dream about him.

We just had to go to the vet this morning.  He was started on a pain medication to help, and we discussed using the anti-inflammatory along with heat/cold therapy and light exercise.  Sammy is petrified of the vet, so he was willing to walk (to try and get away)- but now, this afternoon, he won't move.  He wouldn't even beg for some of my lunch or come and eat a baked cheeto I dropped on the floor. That is not like my dog.  He's a world-class "beggar"!

Here are his medicines now- hopefully they bring him some comfort sooner than later.

Here are the new rugs we bought to help him get around.  His front legs slide on the hardwood floors, so hopefully these will help give some traction in the spots where he most likes to nap.

Here he is, getting some cold therapy this afternoon.

He here he was this morning...after Jason carried him to the grass to potty, he just didn't want to move anymore, so he laid down in the wet grass.  He's still so gorgeous, isn't he?

I love this pup.  He's worth extra effort and money to take care of.  He means so much to me, and I hate seeing him hurt.  Oh, I just love him!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On to #4

I know Jason loves me.  I have never questioned this...ever.  But I sometimes wonder if he has some latent hostility towards me.  Let me explain.

When we got married, we bought each other pretty simple wedding rings.  His was just a white gold band.  I think it cost me around $170, and I purchased it at an actual jewelry store. It was nothing exciting, but it would last, and in an emergency, it could be cut off.

However, about a year and a half after we were married, we were in Mexico building (you know, where it's sandy), and Jason took off his gloves, tossed them into the truck, and we left the worksite.  About 20 miles down the road, he realized his ring finger was bare- and Mexico was now the proud owner of our symbol of committment.

Well...that's to be expected, right?  I mean, things like that happen all the time, and he had lost some weight, so it was a little loose.  Instead of spending another $170 dollars, we opted this time to head to JC Penny, and we bought him a $70 stainless steel ring.  It still was a symbol of our marrige, and it could still be cut off if he should ever get hurt.  OR- about 4 months later he would do the exact same thing as before- and yet another ring was forever lost in a foreign country.  *sigh*

Okay- so this time, we'll make it simple.  As we passed by a kiosk in the mall, I said, "hey, let's get you another ring."  There it was- the only one in his size...a sterling silver ring with little chains engraved in the side(you know- symbolizing how he's chained to me, right?)....and it only cost $14.99.  Excellent.

It wasn't the best ring.  Soap was always getting gooped up in the engraving, and the little chains snagged our bathroom hand towels.  But, there it was still- on his finger to keep all those other girls from oogling him.  He's taken.  Chained to me.  Yep, the ring was tacky, but at least it was there- claiming he was mine.

So, to make sure he didn't lose it again, this past weekend, he took it off and put it on his caribbeaner (where he keeps his keys in Mexico).  And then he forgot to take it off the caribbeaner, so it was left in his truck.  Today he remembered to get it.  Uh-  This is his ring:
It really took a beating, hanging there against his hip.  Guess that's what you get with a ring from a mall kiosk.  So, we're moving on to ring #4.  So- is it latent hostility towards me that makes him lose/damage the symbol of our marriage?  Or, is this just destined to be the never-ending story of our evolving relationship? 

Of course it's the latter- but at this point, I'm thinking I'm either going to encourage him to get a tattoo on his finger, or I will just crochet him thousands of little rings, and he can lose them all he wants!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Starting a new journey

Well, here I am.  Almost 14 weeks pregnant, and at home. Because of changes at Casas, I went ahead and left my position there early.  Although I won't be offically done with work until June 30th, I'm using up almost all of June with vacation days- so I've had a lot of time at home.

I'm not dealing with it well.  I get antsy when I'm not busy.  Never in my life have I not been a provider for myself- so being at home with no children yet- well, I feel like I'm sponging off Jason.  It's not a good feeling.  I feel bored and unproductive...I've cleaned all I can clean.  Cleared out all I can clear for a garage sale.  I've worked on projects, I do my exercises and take care of the animals, and I still have 4-5 hours every day where I feel "lost" in this transition.  Jason encourages me to "play some games.  Enjoy this time to yourself", but it doesn't seem right to me.  If he's working, I should be working.  I've never been good with "free time".

This is not to say I don't love being pregnant or the new phase of life I'll enter in 5 months.  I've been ready to be a mom for a long time, and it's been my heart's desire (whether I recognized it or not) for as long as I can remember.  Being pregnant has brought with it both joys and worries, which I think is pretty common for all first-time moms.  I love watching how my body is changing and adapting to grow, but at the same time, I get a little sad every time the scale inches higher (which it has a little faster than it should, to be honest).  I'm excited to do all the planning to prepare for children, but nervous that without my job, our income is going to go down, so I get nervous about how we're going to pay for everything.  That actually makes me not plan too much- the cheapskate in me won't buy things.  I'm looking forward to the time when I actually "show" and look pregnant, but that's coupled with the ever-growing fear I have about my darn propensity for blood clots.  The further along I go, the higher the risk I'll develop them.  And although I take a shot of a blood thinner every day, that doesn't guarantee I won't get them.  *sigh*.

And then there's the fact we're having twins.  Whew.  I always, my whole life, said I didn't want twins.  Always.  I was dead-set against it.  Just the day before we found out we were having 2 babies, I wondered what I would think if the doctor told us we were having two, and I actually got teary...with sadness!  But then the next day, when that ultrasound showed two little sacs and then two fluttering heartbeats- well- I was in love, of course.  God knew all along that my head and my heart in this matter weren't in line.  It's still a lot to take in.

Baby "A" who's farther down.
 So much money- I'll need double of everything.  I'd like to use cloth diapers- that cost up front will be huge.  We'll need a different vehicle.  All the clothes, supplies- and then....breastfeeding two babies instead of one!  Oh- the first few months scare me with how tired and drained I will be.

Baby "B" who'll be by my ribs and was very squirmy!
 I know. I know....all my Christian friends will jump at the opportunity to tell me that we have double blessings and that God's got it all in control...and I know that too.  That doesn't stop the very real worries from creeping in.  Thankfully, God knows I've got the brain of a human and not His brain, so He can deal with my fears and doubts like a Father does with His children.

Such a weird trasition I'm in- saying goodbye to the old and hello to the new within a 5 month window.  5 months.  And then there's part of me (a BIG part) that's already ready for them to just BE here- selfishly- so I'll feel productive and functional again- so we'll be over the blood clotting scares- so the new chapter will just start.

Don't misunderstand- I am thrilled that we have two little miracles growing in me.  I was amazed at our 12 week ultrasound when we saw those babies kicking and punching and turning!  I'm just struggling to find my place in this very weird transition time. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My recent lesson

Last Saturday, we at Casas went to Juarez to serve a Christmas meal to all the families whom we've built for in one colonia on the south side of town.  To be honest, earlier in the day, I didn't want to go.  I wanted to be selfish.  I wanted to stay in my house with Jason and just be lazy with him.  But, I work at Casas, and ministry is not a 9-5 job.  And frankly, it didn't matter what I wanted to do!  All the same, I wasn't looking forward to going.

Driving over there that day, I thought back to Christmas as a child.  I loved it!  I still do. I love the lights, the gifts, the songs, and the tree.  I love the food and the celebration.  I love that for a little while each year, people are encouraged to reach out.  I love that ultimately, we celebrate this season because the greatest gift any of us will ever receive was born!  My mom loved this too.  During Christmas time with her, we would make all sorts of holiday goodies and fill boxes with food items she'd collected, and we'd deliver them to the widows in our little town who my mom knew from her childhood.  She helped these ladies all year long, but she liked to make it extra special at Christmas time....who doesn't want this time of year to feel special?  I know it was my mom's spirit of giving that instilled a love of giving in me.  Truthfully, one of the top 3 greatest joys in my life is getting to give people in need something for free and letting them know Jesus loves them.  (In case you're wondering, the other 2 are:  knowing and experiencing real, unconditional love and....finding crazy low clearance deals!)

But what good is giving one meal to a family for one afternoon?  Is that REALLY helping them in the big picture?  Was there something better we could do?  I kept thinking this too as I was driving.  All the time at Christmas, people are in the giving spirit, and then forget about it for the other 11 months of the year.  Sometimes that irks me.  We should be pouring out all the time!  So, by serving this meal, are we falling into the same trap of just giving during one season?  It wasn't making me any more excited to be there.

We served chicken, rice, and menudo.  For those of you who don't know, menudo is a special Mexican soup that is made with hominy and tripe.  Yes...tripe.  That would be cow guts.  It doesn't look good....and it smells even worse.  If you're Mexican though, this is a very special meal.  In most restaurants, it's only served on Sunday and often on special occasions.  When the people started arriving, I was on menudo duty.

I ladled close to 500 bowls of this...enough to make my wrist ache.  At least I was used to the smell by this point! The people were pouring in at a very steady rate, and I realized that my internal criticism of whether or not we should be just serving one meal was overtaken by joy of getting to give something to someone in need.  I was so happy to see so many smiling faces that day.  I was humbled to know that all those people we served had received a home from Casas por Cristo.

When we got back that afternoon, I was ready to start putting together our annual bags of Christmas gifts for the families Jason and I have built for through the year.  I was ready to start baking treats to send to them, and to our neighbors on our street, and for my friends here at the office.  I simply love to give.  I'm not saying that because I want accolades but because it is just part of who I am.

Then earlier this week, I read someone's status on facebook asking "if we give and give and it a hand-up, or a hand-out?"  hhmmm.....I've been asked this often about working for Casas.  "Isn't it just a hand-out to give them a house?"  And I believe that it isn't.  Casas uses a house to ultimately share God's love.  The gift of Christ is completely free...we cannot earn it.  We just accept it, and in turn, we are changed by it.  We give the house to proclaim this message.  The house is free.  Accept it.  Hopefully it will help change the status of the families' lives, but more importantly, we want each family to know that God LOVES them enough to even give them a here, and one in Heaven.  What they do with the gift of the home...that isn't for us to control.  God gave us Christ, and He gives us the decision about what to do with that gift too.

Why am I writing this blog?  Because the nagging doubt I oftentimes get about just being used by people who want things from me has somehow been calmed over these last few days.  I realized that it does not matter if someone abuses a gift from me.  I am called to give.  We all are.  Christians especially are called to reach out to others with the same love that we ourselves have received from Christ.  Will one meal change someone's life?  Probably not.  It didn't stop Jesus from feeding thousands from a few loaves and some fish.  A hand-out or a hand-up?  I don't know.  I simply know that when I'm called to give in some capacity, I will.  It simply doesn't matter if I think I will be used just matters that I answer that call because God can use the gift any way He sees fit.  It doesn't hurt me to give....but how much would it hurt if later I find that by not giving, I denied God an opportunity to move.  I don't even know if I'm making any sense on here!

So, today at the gas station, when a man approached Jason and asked him for some help with his gas, my gut reaction was to think, "he's just using us."  But, as I did a double take and thought of my recent lesson, I smiled. And then I heard Jason tell him, "sure, no problem." 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I am a triathlete

Those words haven’t really sunk in yet.

4:30am rolled around faster than I would’ve liked this morning, especially after having trouble falling asleep- what with dwelling on all the thoughts of potential disasters that could happen during the race. I was packed and prepared, but when I woke up, there was a little knot in my stomach I didn’t have when I went to sleep. I got dressed, and looked at myself in the full-length mirror…dressed in my swimsuit and tri shorts (which I believe are only flattering on people who have less than 5% body fat). I turned sideways, and what’s left of my tummy was there for all the world to see. I turned forward and my thighs were bisected by the tight band of elastic from the shorts, giving the appearance of each thigh having 2 parts…a top and a bottom. The knot in my stomach got a little bigger thinking about many of my coworkers and friends seeing me like this. It was too late now. I’d worked really hard, and I still have weight to lose….but this was my outfit, and I was going to have to suck it up. So I did, but that knot decided to make his home right in the pit of my gut.

all set up.  make note of the huge pink bag
We arrived at the race with our bags and bikes and found a spot to get ourselves ready. I kept my travel outfit on; hiding what I believed was the disaster underneath. I found my friends who were competing too, and we chatted. The wait was long, and it gave my mind all kinds of time to think about all those pitfalls I’d dreamed up the night before. "What if I have a flat on my bike…I can’t change the flat….I will have trained for nothing! What if I have to go to the bathroom during the race? It’ll take forever…oh please, colon, just be my friend and do your job before the race begins! I have to wear the swim cap they gave us, which is latex….I’m allergic to latex. What if my head reacts while I’m in the pool?" What did all my thoughts get me? Just a bigger knot.

Time to line up, which meant it was time to get rid of that traveling outfit. Ugh. Here we go….all my friends getting to see all the parts of me I can’t stand. Thankfully they were kind enough to not say anything.

almost through with the swim
Waiting for my turn to swim was an exercise in balancing nerves with anticipation. In the end, the nerves won. The knot in my stomach was so big, I felt like I wanted to throw up. Someone told me that was the adrenaline. I think it was insecurity. And then, I was in the water. I was officially competing in the first athletic event of my life. The first lap and a half was the worst. I still felt like throwing up, while at the same time trying to push forward with everything I had. All the training in the swim? It didn’t matter. I lost all sense of form. All the strokes I’d practiced….I forgot them all as I focused on who was passing me, who I needed to pass, when the end was coming, and if I’d see Jason when I turned around. And then, I was done. It went by faster than I’d thought. And hey…no itchy head from the latex. I swam the entire time, which was my goal. Accomplishment #1 done.
Transitioning to the bike took a few minutes, and I caught my breath. My tank top went on, finally ending the humiliation of the swimsuit shenanigans. And we were off for 12.4 miles of biking, the first half of which, unfortunately, was into the wind. I supposed that was better than the last half. My quads were screaming for the first 2 miles. I’d never practiced the swim-to-bike, so I wasn’t prepared for how tired my legs would be. Suck it up, Janette, and keep peddling! Spectators screamed out encouragements, the most common of which was “you’re almost there!” The spectators were a bunch of liars. They were screaming this at mile 3. But I appreciated the encouragement, even if it was clouding the truth.

And then we were back. I only coasted 3 times when I lifted my tookus off the seat to relax it a little. Otherwise, my legs never stopped pedaling. Accomplishment #2 done. I dismounted the bike and thought for sure I’d left my leg muscles somewhere out on Socorro Road. In all my training, they’d never felt this heavy. Park the bike…oh wait….someone took my parking space. Guess they must’ve thought that giant pink vinyl bag next to the space was theirs. I still have a little resentment for racer #237 for this. Grab some energy gummies and a few big gulps of Gatorade, and then it was off for the run. 3.1 miles.

starting the jog and still annoyed at racer #237
For the first half mile, I could think of nothing but how on earth I could possibly keep my legs moving forward when they felt like they wanted to melt off my bones. Goal #3 was to finish the run in under 40 minutes, always keep my pace somewhere below 12:59 minute miles, and run the entire way…no walking! But at about the half mile mark, my leg muscles caught up with the rest of me, and I realized…I was tired. I was breathing harder than I ever had during training. Every time my left foot fell, I was either inhaling or exhaling. For the next 2 and a half miles I chanted with every left footfall: “I. Can. Do. All. Things. Through. Christ. Who. Gives. Me. Strength.”

“Head down. (I can) Don’t look up. (do all) Keep moving forward. (things through) Keep breathing! (Christ who) Don’t land on your heels. (gives me) Oh I’m tired! (strength)” For those 3 miles, this was the internal monologue on repeat in my head. I heard the lying spectators telling us we were half-way or at 2 miles (which was actually another half mile away…thanks for the false hope, buddy). I was aware of the little girl who threw the water in my face, who I’m sure thought I found it refreshing. Good thing for her my ability to speak was lost back in the transition area (where I believe I also left my sense of humor).

just about to the end!
And we were coming upon the end. I could see the finish line. Amy told me to give it all I had, which I was trying to do, but it felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. I looked at my GPS watch. It said I was doing a 9:54 minute mile at that point. I heard one of our friends shout something, and then it was so close…the end of the race. Somewhere deep inside, I found a little more to give. Maybe that knot in the pit of my stomach finally gave birth to the adrenaline the others had promised, and I sprinted. I don’t think I’ve ever run that fast in my life, ever. It wasn’t for long or for far, but it was literally all I had, and then we crossed. I doubled over to catch my breath, breathing like an asthmatic… in a field of ragweed… surrounded by thousands of kittens. A race volunteer tried to offer me water. I had no time for that as my lungs constricted tighter and tighter in defiance to my little “sprinting tomfoolery” there at the end. Amy hugged me. Friends were giving their congratulations. And then I saw Jason, coming towards me with icy cold diet Mt. Dew, just like I had requested. I hugged him as I gasped for air. More than anyone, I wanted him to be proud of me. And I had accomplished goal #3

1 hour. 47 minutes. 52 seconds. That was my time. I wanted to finish in under 2 hours….Goal #4 accomplished. It’s just a little surreal. I looked around, and still, after losing almost 150 pounds by nothing more than the shear determination of my own will….I was still one of the biggest women there…and my insecurity was trying to steal the joy of my victory. But, 150 pounds ago, I could barely walk. I mean it. I remember going on a walk those many pounds ago and getting winded walking up a hill that seems elementary to me now. A little over a year ago, I almost died when blood clots settled in my lungs, killing a portion of both of them. Today, the biggest ruckus my lungs could raise is that they were irritated that I sprinted. The former “Fat-Janette” lived a lifestyle worthy of an early grave. But today, crossing that finish line, I knew the only thing that’s gone to the grave is the battery of poor habits and emotional coping that once had me held hostage to a life of misery and trapped in my own body. To me, that last sprint to the finish represented me fleeing, forever, an old life content in my weakness. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

So, did my thighs still look like they had 4 sections when I crossed the finish line? Yep. Did the underside of my arms still jiggle? Uh-huh. Did I still have an obvious tummy under those spandex shorts? Very much so. Was I still one of the biggest competitors there? Yes. Did a different person cross the finish line than the one who entered the pool? She did. Will I live tied to my insecurities and the possible judgment of others anymore? No. And do you know why?

Because today, I am a triathlete.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Weighing In

I watched a show with my friend last night called “I eat 33,000 calories a day”. Wow. I was so intrigued, and we couldn’t wait to see what that looked like. The show highlighted 4 people. 3 of them were well over 600 pounds. One woman wasn’t though. She was very large, but she wasn’t that big. The thing that struck me most was that….she looks like what I once looked like at my heaviest.

She explained how food has so much control over her. She would eat when no one was around to watch her. She would eat before bed. She would always feel guilty afterwards, but she would push that guilt aside with some more food. She shared what a typical day’s worth of eating looked like. She thought she was eating around 3,000 calories/day. Actually, she was eating over 13,000.

What struck me was not only that her body was similar to what mine once was, but her eating habits…it was like looking back 3 years ago and seeing myself. I always struggled with eating in secret. I didn’t want people to know what I was doing to myself. I would eat SO many calories and always feel guilty. The diet would always start “tomorrow”, and I would do okay until 5pm, and then I’d give in and feel like I’d ruined everything. I always took something in to eat before I laid down to sleep.

But as I watched her, I realized how much has changed in me. I’m not the woman who hides when I eat anymore. I haven’t eaten before I went to bed in so long….I’d forgotten I even did that until I watched the show last night. Something changed in me 3 years ago. A switch flipped, and for some reason, the taste of a greasy pizza bought after I’d already eaten dinner didn’t matter as much as living a healthy and long life. A box of doughnuts wasn’t as appealing as putting on a shirt in a smaller size. The satisfaction from a pan of brownies didn’t come close to the satisfaction of fitting into the seat at the movie theater.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still love food. I do. I’m a foodie. I think it’s wonderful. Sometimes, my greatest delight would be to have an entire bag of Sour Patch Kids or 4 slices of pizza with some breadsticks on the side. That all still sounds wonderful, but somehow now….it’s different. I might indulge once in a while. Everyone, even the thinnest of people, go overboard occasionally. However, now when that happens, my mind doesn’t assume I’ve ruined everything. It just means that I enjoyed the moment, and the next moment is back to “normal”. Now, normal for me is eating a healthy diet full of whole foods, fruits, lean meats and eating for the sake of “fuel” 95% of the time. Now, exercise is part of every day of my life. Taking 3 mile walks and swimming every morning is just part of who I am.

I saw the me from 3 years ago on the TV last night. But, I’m a completely different person now, and I’m so thankful. This morning I weighed myself. I’ve lost 125 pounds. I lost the equivalent of an entire person. I lost pain in my knees and back. I lost the terror of going shopping for clothes or flying in an airplane. I lost the baggage of guilt and poor self-esteem. I lost that monkey on my back.

My journey isn’t over. I have another 55-65 pounds to lose (so I think..I’ve never been thin. I don’t know what I should weigh), but I can do it. I know I can, because I’ve come so far. It’s a good feeling.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


The wind is gusting outside. The gusts have reached 70mph. In some areas, they've been as high as 90mph. That air is around us all the time, and yet, we only notice it when it's affecting us in some way. I notice it when it's blowing too hard. I notice it when it's too hot or too cold. I notice that air when my lungs can get enough inside of them.

Faith: Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.

"We cannot see the wind, but we can feel the effects of the wind. Likewise, we cannot see God, but we can feel the effects of His presence.

When I feel the effects of the wind, how to I respond? When it's a refreshing breeze on a hot day, I respond with joy. When it's a 90mph wind gust, I curse that wind. When God breathes His breath onto me, how do I respond? When He blesses me, I rejoice. When He allows hardship into my I curse Him or continue to praise Him?

Roofs, sheds, buildings, power lines and street signs were destroyed today in El Paso. I can't imagine how much more destruction has occurred just minutes away in a city largely made of cardboard. But, I know the people of Juarez and the families for whom we build. I know that today, in the midst of hurricane force winds, that they are praying to God. They are praying for His rescue and security when the world cannot offer it. They rest in Him in a way I don't know if I'll ever truly understand. It's my prayer that God will teach me that lesson and humble this old heart that often falls into the ridiculous belief that I can do things on my own, without His hand guiding me.

And as I look back today on the past year of my own life, I can see both the refreshing breezes and torrential gusts of God's breath. I felt that pleasant breeze the day I married Jason and the day we welcomed Pancake into our home. I felt it when the Family Outreach Program overflowed with donations, and I felt it when Francisca & Jose received their new home because God broke people's hearts for them. But the gusts were there too. I felt the gust of God's lessons when blood clots blocked the breaths I could take. My spirit was blown over in grief at the loss of my mom.

The roofs blown off the houses today were not on tight enough. The sheds blown over were not secure to a foundation. The power lines were weakly connected to the poles. The street signs were poorly installed. The gusts of wind today tested the strength of these things, and the weak did not survive. I believe, God allows the gusts of in our lives to test how firmly we are secured to the One who cannot be moved.

Today, while outside the winds are blowing, my heart breaks for the people of Juarez who are not safe from it; but at the same time, I am overwhelmed with humility knowing they are relying on their faith in an amazing way.

When the air is still, both outside and in my heart...will I remember to be thankful? I hope so.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Leaving her mark

Many, many years ago, my grandpa was fixing the plaster in my house.  It wasn't my house then.  The house I grew up in was also where my mom and my grandma grew up.  My grandpa was fixing that plaster when my mom was just 3 or 4 years old. He pressed her hand in the wet plaster, and after it dried, covered it with wallpaper.

Over the years, the wall paper was removed and replaced a number of times.  I remember the last time we replaced it.  I was in high school.  My mom and I pulled the pieces off, and she showed me her handprint hidden beneath the paper.  And then we covered it again, forgetting that a moment of her life was hidden under the flowered paper.

My sister was staying with my mom over the summer, and while she was there, she tore down the paper hoping to replace it.  Then my mom's health spiraled down, and re-wallpapering the stairwell wasn't a priority.  When Jason and I went home in early September, I made a point to show him my mom's handprint.

My beautiful mom passed away on October 18th, and I couldn't be more thrilled for her.  Oh...I miss her. Please don't misunderstand me.  My heart has been breaking every day since her death.  I am selfish.  I, of course, want my mom to be here.  I want to hear her stories.  I want to get her advice.  I want to hear about the newest clearance deal she found, and I want to know about who she helped, because she was always pouring out her life to help others.  And I want her to want to know about me.  She always wanted to know about my life, and it made me feel loved to know someone cared about the details of me.  The lump in my throat and the tears in my eyes right now are the physical manifestations of my grief for time lost with her.

But, I am still thrilled for her.  The pain she experienced here over the past 2 one should have to endure that.  Life in her last days was boiled down to simply trying to make it minute-by-minute, waiting for her next pain pill.  She knew Jesus and lived her life to honor Him.  She was ready to see her Father.  I'm thrilled for her that she is freed from the body that held her back.

All around me, I can see where my mom left her mark...the impressions of her influence.  There are families in Mexico who are warm and clothed because of her.  There are unwed mothers who have received care because she gave.  There are mentally and physically handicapped people who have been blessed by her generosity.  Everyone who knew her respected her.  They liked her.  Most everyone, after spending more time with her, loved her.  The impressions of her love are everywhere.

Mostly though, I recognize them on my heart.  She's made such a lasting impression on me.  She is the example to me of living a life as we're called to live...pouring ourselves out to love others, even when we don't feel like it.  She sacrificed so much in her life in order to make someone else's life better.  I want to do the same.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Learning about Bob and Darlene

So, my heart broke a little bit tonight.  I'm watching Katy's two kids while she takes a much needed break away...some Katy time with her friends to go see a movie.  I love these kids.  Mia is full of ideas.  Jax is restless and inquisitive.  We've played some games.  They've attacked me on the floor.  We've had our evening snack, and they were enjoying Curious George...well...Mia is more than Jax.

Jax just didn't want to sit still.  I can't blame him.  If I could muster up energy at 9pm, I wouldn't want to sit still either.  I snuck away to the "game room" (so they named it.  It's actually our study, but also where Jason stores his wonderland of a game collection) to put something away, and Jax followed me in....and he was followed by Sammy and soon after, Pancake.

He played with the animals and got excited about every game he saw.  Then, he noticed a picture up high on a shelf.  It's a picture of my mom and dad.  It's at Christmas time, and my mom is standing behind my dad, laughing the biggest laugh I've ever seen from her.  It's my favorite picture of the two of them together.  Mom was healthy then.

"LOOK!" Jax screamed.  "It's Mike and Pat!" (which are the names of Amy's parents, who were just in town.)

"Nope, those are my parents."

"Can I see?"

So, I brought the picture down to his level.

"Who are them?"

"That's my dad.  His name is Bob."

"Who's the pretty grandma?" Jax asked.

And this is where my heart broke.  My mom is so sick right now.  In the last stages of her battle with stage 4 renal-pelvic cancer which has spread to her liver, she's no longer walking, lives in pain constantly, and is very, very confused.  The doctors have given her 1-2 months to live, and that diagnosis came a few weeks ago.  She is no longer the laughing woman in the photograph, but a shell of the mom I know.  She does, however, remain my hero and the most beautiful person I've ever met.  Even Jax noticed it.

"That's my mom," I said, through a choked up voice I was trying to hide. "Her name is Darlene."

"I like her," Jax said.  And then he was off to admire another game.

Potentially the greatest desire of my heart which will never go fulfilled is for my children to know the beautiful soul and heart so full of Christ's love that dwells inside my mom.  They'll never get to know that "pretty lady".  They'll just have my stories.  I miss her already, and she's not even gone yet.  She'll be so much happier in Heaven, where she'll be freed from her pain and suffering.  That doesn't mean I don't selfishly mourn, in advance, the opportunities I'll never have with her.

She is pretty...and her name is Darlene.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Let's give it a whirl

I have a lot of thoughts in my head lately.  Maybe it's time for me to join the rest of the online world and write a blog.  I generally feel like my thoughts aren't of much interest to others, but then again, I love reading about the lives and thoughts of my friends.

And this blog says "Jason and Janette", but judging by the background and colors, I think we can all agree on who's managing this thing! :)