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My Battle…out in the open

It all began with a mirror. 

I’ve been “heavy” my whole life.  Never have I known a time when I was thin or “normal.”  Normal… what is normal? I come from a family of 8 children and 6 were “normal” and two of us were “heavy.” 

While I’ve always been heavy, my self perception has been okay. In my mind I’ve felt that I was just like everyone else. Then when I’d see a picture or see myself in a dressing room mirror I’d seem shocked and dismayed. Regardless, I’ve always worked hard to love myself no matter what.  After all, God created me and He made me pretty darn awesome! 

In the 35 adult years of my 55, I’ve tried every diet known to man. I’ve purchased programs, books, vides and everything in between. I’ve also joined and cancelled gym membership after gym membership.

I can picture myself eating healthy and exercising. It excites me! I can get myself motivated and ready to make a change… tomorrow. I may or may not get started on a new venture to only self sabotage and fizzle out. All the while still feeling okay about myself and this “burden” that I’ve been chosen to carry. I read once that if weight were not my issue to keep me pressed into God, then it would be something else. 

This past week I traveled to Colorado for a conference. This is where my current story begins. I left feeling very aware of my current situation. Clothes were tighter and it was tough to choose what to take. I’m dealing with plantar fasciitis and carrying extra weight does not help at all.  Traveling in the cheap seats on the plane was tough. I was wedged in next to my thin friend for two long hours. Luckily we chatted and that made the time pass more quickly. Upon arriving I could hardly walk from sitting for so long. Add insult to injury, I have to turn a bit sideways to get through the narrow aisles as I walked to leave the plane. 

Everything about the trip there was physically uncomfortable and my self esteem was very fragile. We arrived at the beautiful resort and headed to our room. First things first, I had to use the little girls room! I sat (or plopped) down on the toilet that seemed to be nearly on the ground. I let out a huge sigh and looked in front of me. There, hanging from the top of the door to the floor was a giant mirror. I was sitting on the toilet staring at myself with my pants down around my ankles. Needless to say, I was horrified! I had truly never seen such a sight. I mentioned earlier that in my mind I feel normal. Well, this confirmed my suspicions… I’m not normal. 

It took my breath away. I was astonished and shocked and immediately very sad. It all came together… in that mirror. 

My goal over the past 5 years or so has been to just be healthy. I’m learning to love myself and treat me like I treat those I love. I’ve had success and failures. For the most part I’m healthy… except for my weight. I am good at doing the wellness things I need to do to avoid doctors and medications. But my being heavy has gone too far. I’ve always been able to do what everyone else could do despite my weight and now that has come to an end and that mirror was the final straw. 

I guess I’ve hit the proverbial “rock bottom.” My prayers for years have been for me to be able to “wake up” and make changes before a major medical issue forces me to. 

Now as I sit on the bottom and look up, I’m deathly afraid. I need to make a major life change and I’ve never been successful in the past. This time it’s a matter of life or death. If I don’t turn my life around now I will go down the path of my dear sister Kate whose life was cut short due to morbid obesity and inactivity. 

No more excuses. No more tomorrows. No more. 

As I sit here typing this, I have no idea what path I’m going to travel to get out of the darkness I’m sitting in. There are a million options and programs and things I can do. I know what I need to do. I know how to do it. Now to “just do it.” 

Today I’m going to get on my knees before my heavenly Father and lay it at His feet. That’s step one. I need to stop projecting out how I want things to go. I need to take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time. I’ve experienced some hard things in my life but this for me is the hardest. It’s my battle and I need to put on my armor and begin to fight. I’m hoping by making my battle public that you might lift me up in prayer if I cross your mind. Maybe you are facing the same battle as me and we can encourage one another. Maybe you have another cross to carry and your battle feels impossible like mine. I’m going to lean in towards heaven as I travel this path… join me and we can travel together with God leading the way. There is still work to do on this earth and I’m not ready to be done. 

Lord, open me up and let Your light in. Today is a new day full of your mercy and grace. I’m waking up and need You. Amen

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Ready or Not… Pray

The first month of the new year is nearly done. This year I didn’t make any resolutions but I did start a bullet journal. I’m “tracking” some habits I deemed important to engage in each day.

Hmmmm… aren’t those resolutions?

My habit tracking consisted of two categories – health and spiritual. Water consumption, no sugar, morning stretching and quiet time (bible and prayer). 

Full disclosure… I’ve X’d out more boxes than I’ve filled in. 

 Quiet time each morning was my “spiritual” habit.  This has looked very different over the years and I’ve not always been consistent. I have a page in my bullet journey with my January prayer requests for friends and family. I keep adding names to the page and I know there could be so many more. 

I would sit with my coffee and pray all day if I could. I love to pray. That sweet time to be vulernable and lay it all at the feet of Jesus. 

I’ve struggled over the years thinking it had to be some grand event. There have been times when all I could do was say “change me, oh God.” There have also been times when I could utter no words… but I knew that God was right there and already knew my need. 

If He already knows our need then why pray? 

I’m reading through a couple quick 5 day plans in my bible app by Max Lucado. One is from his book anxious for nothing. Today, Day 3, was about prayer. Here is my take-away. Perhaps you need to hear this… I know I did. 

Prayer gives us chance to take what we know about God’s character and act in faith when we reach out to Him. When we pray for specific things and see God respond on behalf of them our faith is strengthened… it grows. His response might not be exactly what we prayed for so that’s where our faith comes into play! When we pray in faith it deepens and we trust that God is always present…no matter what. Even in those moments of our deepest despair, worriedness or anxiety, we continue to pray out of faith more than need. We rely on His promises… for they are many. 

Through prayer we are able to place our worries, fears and anxieties into His hands and them remind Him (and ourselves!) of those promises He made in His Word. 

Max Lucado said, “These prayers of faith touch the heart of God and activate the angels of heaven.” 

Let me say that again…

“These prayers of faith touch the heart of God and activate the angels of heaven.” 

So when we reach out to God in whatever way we do it, this is what is happening. Reach out in faith… even if all you can do is whisper “Jesus” … ready or not.

All heaven breaks loose! 

I’ll leave you with that…

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The Tricky Teens…

When young children are learning early number, they often struggle with the teens… the Tricky Teens. The teens seem to live up to their name. As children are learning, they have certain teens that are more difficult than others. One day 15 is tough and then suddenly it makes sense! After much hard work, repetition and effort they master their teens and move on to the 20’s.

Hmmmmm… life is a lot like those “tricky teens.” As I think back over the past decade (2010 – 2019), it has lived up to the title! As I think about our three children (my Bonus’s), they too have lived up to that title. Twelve and thirteen are generally very tricky for students as they learn their teens. Funny how those are also tricky years for people as they transition into their teen years. I don’t think I’m alone when I say we struggled through those as well. 2012 and 2013 were also two of our most difficult years as a family. It also brought the loss of my sister.

Tricky teens… I’m sensing a theme!

As students move up in the teens they get easier to learn because they sound like they look. Six-teen, seven-teen, eight-teen, nine-teen. As our children moved into their teen years things began to turn around as they grew and matured. For our family, the years from 2015 to 2019 brought renewed relationships, high school and post-secondary graduations, a wedding, an engagement and our beautiful grandson. Sadly, it also brought  the loss of my dad and my step mom. Life isn’t guaranteed to be easy and we struggled  through moments and events during those years.  But all in all, the second half brought less heartache than the first.

Tricky teens…

As we close out the teens we head into 2020. Young learners often call twenty, twelve. NOOOOO! Let’s all hope that 2020 is a strong year and we don’t confuse it with 2012!

There is a portion of our population that has already lived in the 20’s… The Roaring 20’s. Blessings on them as they venture into their second go around.. Most of us will only get one shot!

May the God of Hope… The Hound of Heaven …be beside you as you leave the Tricky Teens  and journey into the 20’s!!!!  Happy New Year one and all!

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Sweet Riley Bell…

Your name was S’mores and Auntie Kim found you and your sister Olivia on Craig’s List. You were a Calico.  I didn’t want a Calico. I wanted a tabby just like Abigail. You were being fostered by a wonderful family through Positive Outreach Spay/Neuter Advocates after being found in a barn on April 24, 2016… the very same day Abigail crossed the Rainbow Bridge. 

When I met you and your sister, you were not that in to me. Auntie was the first to hold you. She knew… but I was skeptical.  I had committed to getting the two of you so home we went. Your foster family was very sad to see you go.  For almost four months no one wanted to adopt the two of you and they fell madly in love with you. I think we were meant to be together and God knew that. When I found out you were born the day Abigail crossed I knew. Funny how things work out like that. 

You warmed to me faster than your sister did. Within hours of our new life together I knew you were not a S’more’s.  I named you Riley Bell.  It just came out of my mouth and it stuck. You were smaller than your sister so you quickly became Little Bit and RB. Riley Bell and Gracie Girl. You two were quite a pair. 

Our three years together were magical. You adopted Papa into your heart quickly as well. You were two peas in a pod.  Your little routines will forever be engrained on our hearts. Papa says he will need to rub my belly and scratch my head before he goes to bed at night as that was your evening routine with him.  

We loved watching you gain your confidence and security.  The first time you splayed yourself out on your back in the middle of the living room was a real turning point. We knew you felt safe and secure to expose your belly like that. It always took you longer to feel safe with outsiders. Auntie was your favorite visitor and you were just beginning to be more brave to be around Omari… on your terms of course!  I had such dreams of the two of you growing up together. 

Your playful spirit was the best!  You loved playing by yourself and when Sissy joined in you would sit back and watch.  I’ll miss watching you rub the little felt  catnip filled hearts and fish all over your head.  I’ll miss the sound of the silly plastic calendar bindings fling all over the house and playing fetch with them.  I think you might have been part dog! You would play and Gracie would sleep! So different yet so alike.

As I’m sitting here with my coffee thinking of you little girl, your sister is laying across my arms as I type.  She spent most of the night sitting in the bedroom window watching outside. She misses you… I miss you… Papa misses you… we miss you.   I’ve cried many tears in the past 16 hours and if you were here you’d me right by my side.  You would be up close near my face making sure I was okay.  Your sensitivity was like no other cat I’ve known. You would nuzzle my face and then I’d rub your head and the purring would begin instantly. 

I’m going to miss early mornings when you would decide to come into the bedroom and search for some loves… purring loudly… very loudly!  My little Purr Girl. Then I’d find you waiting near the end of the bed for us to get up. Then the begging in the kitchen would begin for your nummies! I’m going to miss waking up pined to the bed because you couldn’t lay in between us like Gracie… no you’d lay right on my legs or up against my legs and settle in! 

Oh sweet girl, our lives were filled with your big personality and your tender heart. I’ll miss our snuggles on the couch when you would try to bury yourself behind my arm and back. I’ll miss you sweet little head resting on my lap. I’ll miss our race up the stairs twice a day when it was time to eat. I’ll miss watching you walk through your green tube before heading to your bowl. I’ll miss you being where ever I am. Papa already misses you circling between his legs while he sits in the bathroom and your lap time before bed. My last memory of you two was coming out of the bedroom late Thursday night to see you laying peacefully on his lap getting your nightly rubs. 

Sweet Riley Bell, we miss everything about you. Thank you for teaching us how to love unconditionally. Thank you for bringing love and life to us every day for the past three and a half years. Your time on this earth was far too short. I imagined you growing old with us. There must have been something happening in your sweet body and now you are free to run and eat all you want! 

We love you Pretty Girl… until we meet again. 

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It’s a God Thing

Have you ever had times when things in your life connect? Things that are from different parts of your life? Times when the things you are investing in all seem to be of the same theme? All along the way you see where paths cross and the messages you hear all take you to one common place? 

You hear people say that this is fate… karma… coincidence.

I call it God! 

I call it God seeing my life as a beautiful mosaic that He is creating. A beautiful stained glass window for the world to look through and see Him. I see the roads I’m traveling slowly converging to one central location. I see God helping me let go of the past… old stories and beliefs about myself and others. I see God creating in me a new heart for myself and those around me… friends and strangers. 

I have let the hurriedness of life, coupled with an intense “need” for social media shape me over the years. It has left me exhausted, lazy and searching for thew approval from others. For me it’s been the approval that I have a “good life.” That I’m right on track with the “Jones’s” so to speak. 

I have led people to believe that I have all of my ducks in a row. Oh, I have ducks alright… but they are all scattered about running in all directions leaving treasures everywhere!  

My paths right now include reengaging in my faith community in a meaningful way, spending time with a beautiful group of women and going Deeper as we become apprentices to Jesus, and intensive work with a wonderful friend and health coach doing a 90 Day Transformation. Every day I’m blown away at how these are all connected. The messages and lessons and conversations all have a common theme. 

They have taken me to one central place and it involves me becoming who Christ created me to be. I am by nature a peacemaker and a “taker-carer” of others. My default is others first and me last… if I get to me at all. 

I’m learning that I can still take care of others but I also need to take care of me. A new me. A me that sees my value and worth. A me that chooses to make decisions that nurture my heart, mind, body and soul. A me that knows I am fearfully and wonderfully made… called to bring light into a dark world. A me that loves me.

The past year has changed me. I have an amazing grandson who has helped me see life through a different lens. I want to be the best version of me for him. He is a big part of my “why.” When I’m gone I want him to remember his Nana in a way that speaks to the legacy I left behind. 

His Nana who loved Jesus. His Nana who loved people and saw the world as a safe and wonderful place. His Nana who loved fiercely and had a gentle heart and soul. His Nana who could run and play… laughing until we wet our pants (it doesn’t take much for Nana to do that)! His Nana who had a faith as strong as Abraham. 

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Change takes work every day. Some days it’s easier than others. When my heart is directly connected to Jesus I know I can walk through the day with confidence. 

My goal is for this to be my starting place each morning. Sitting at the feet of Jesus and letting Him give me direction for the things that are to come. Standing in the gap on behalf of those who the Lord has entrusted me to pray for. After that I will put one foot in front of the other and try to be the best version I me that I possibly can.  I’m not done here on this earth and I want to make every moment count! 

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Healing Emotions…

Emotions are powerful. 

I’ve lived in a sea of swirling emotions for the past 3 months or so. Significant birthdays… anniversary… graduation… wedding… grand baby. 

All of these emotions are wonderful… memories made! It’s been quite wonderful! 

I’ve learned that sometimes new emotions can uncover old ones. That is my quiet space this morning.  An old emotion that I’ve worked hard to process and bury over time. 

Not quite…

When I held our grandson for the first time I experienced an emotion I’ve never felt before.  Watching momma with her new son sparked an emotion around something I’ve never experienced. I’ve been struggling to even begin to describe the feelings I am having or why they are so strong. 

This morning I woke after a restless night and it hit me. 

I, as a grand parent, have experienced something that is quite miraculous and beautiful. I now realize that the deep emotion in the depths of my heart and soul is my own personal lack of this experience. 

As people stood around the room talking about their own pregnancy and birth experiences, I sat quietly listening… as I’ve done most of my life. 

I have no children born naturally to me. I’ve not experienced pregnancy nor the miracle of birth. Along with that comes a host of emotions of things lost. I will never be “the mom” that birthed a child. I can’t compare my stories to others… the list goes on.  

I’ve processed most of these over the years. I have always hoped and prayed I’d at least get to be a grandma! My wish came true! 

Wow… little did I know the emotions I’d feel last Thursday when I laid eyes on this little miracle. I can’t compare my emotions with anyone else’s, but now I have a little more clarity as to why mine have been so strong and deep.

I stand in awe of God and how He orchestrates life. The miracle of how He created a woman’s body to bring life into this world. I’ve had the privilege to watch my bonus daughter as she progressed through her pregnancy and listen to her talk about how things have been changing. I’ve been able to take some beautiful photographs of her along the way. Now I get to watch the miracle of motherhood unfold. God has created her to be a mom and she is a natural. I’m witnessing first hand her love and nurturing of this little being that is relying on her and her alone for his life! I’ve tried to imagine what that must feel like from her perspective… it overwhelms me.

Yes, I can honestly say I wish I’d had the privilege of birthing my own child. To walk through the 9 months and experience the miracle of birth. To raise a child that has my eyes or my temperament. To know that when I die, I’ve left a little piece of me behind. God had other plans for my life and that’s okay. I’ve had this beautiful experience becoming a grandma and will have more before my time is up. I am blessed. 

So, today I grieve a little as I look forward with anticipation to our next visit and that sweet time to hold him and dream of the memories we will make with this precious little peanut! 

NOTE:

**This blog is merely a purging of emotions that I needed to process. It’s not a cry for sympathy for anyone to feel bad for me. I’m perfectly happy with my life and where God has brought me. It’s the circle of life and the layers that need to be dealt with along the way**

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#pbnj

Yesterday 

August 2

Twenty-one years ago it was a very important day of my life. Fourteen years ago it became a sad day to remember. Every year when the beginning of August rolls around I have a moment of reflection and a twinge of emotion. Yes, I’m one of those date-remembering people… drives my husband nuts! 

Yesterday

 August 2, 2018

Best day ever! The day our lives changed forever! A day that will now be filled with love and excitement with new memories to be made! The day we became grandparents! 

At 12:49 PM the sweetest, most beautiful little baby boy entered this big big world!    

Back in late December we learned that we would become grandparents in August. We were instantly filled with love and excitement and have anticipated this day since then. 

First thing on the agenda… names! Grandparent names! For reasons not worth mentioning, I did not want to be “grandma.” My sister has a cool grandma name… Jammie M! Since then I knew that if I ever became a grandma I had to have a cool gma name! Nana J…

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Papa B and Nana J

I’ve been excited for months, but until yesterday I’m not even sure I knew what I was excited for.  After hearing her water broke, the hours leading up to 12:49 PM on August 2 were emotion-filled with very little sleep.  All I could do was pray.  After getting to the hospital yesterday morning, the minutes seemed to tick backwards.

Anticipation.

Excitement.

Worry.

Tears as I met and talked with a family who welcomed their little Olivia Grace weighing in at one pound. Heart wrenching…

When we finally found out that our little grandson had arrived there were more tears. Papa B was able to go back and see momma and baby. I had told him I wanted my first view of baby to be in person. He felt bad I wasn’t able to go to the active labor room so he took a picture for me.  I resisted looking and then couldn’t help myself. 

That is the moment everything changed. On Papa’s tiny cell phone Baby O was perfect! Tears… so many tears. Now I HAD to meet him in person! 

I am 55 and have no children of my own. I have no schema for a birth nor the wonder of that experience. 

I’ve not had that moment when you lay eyes on that special baby for the first time… until August 2, 2018 as I held him in my arms.

My heart melted into his. 

Nana J holding sweet Baby O. 

Tears were falling out of my eyes! I’ve never quite felt anything like it. I didn’t want to let him go, but the room was filled with all of the stakeholders in his life that wanted a chance to have a moment in his first hours on this planet!                              

So today… August 3… 24 hours later… I still can’t quite wrap my head around it all. I’m struggling with words to describe how I feel.  I’m not blood related to this little man, but the bond I already feel with him is strong. He is the greatest gift for this Bonus Mom! 

I know that God has His hand of grace and protection on this little man and his parents… on all of us for that matter! Many prayers have been whispered for this special boy and I’m hopeful for the amazing life that he is going to have! 

Papa B and Nana J love him deeply already… we can’t wait for the memories we will make with him! We are thankful to his beautiful momma and daddy for letting us share the afternoon with them yesterday… August 2, 2018.

Welcome little man… we love you to the moon and back!