Tag Archives: Health

My Nest is Empty

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I’ve been raising babies for 31-plus years.  Many of those years there were 4 or 5 of them under our roof.  They were my life’s work.  I poured myself into motherhood.  It was my calling, my ministry, my redemption.  It was also where I made the most mistakes and how God uncovered my deepest flaws.  Nothing grew me more than being a mama…

Growing up, I remember some of the vows I made to myself, even as a young girl.  I vowed I would raise my sons to be sensitive and communicative, not afraid of deep emotion in themselves or others.  I vowed I would raise my daughters to be strong and confident, not needing a man’s attention or approval to feel good about themselves.  I vowed that my children would never let someone feel left out of anything as I always did being raised as the only girl in a family of 5 children.  And finally, as an adult, I vowed that I would show my children the unconditional love that I yearned for all of my life and that I would do all I could to nurture them just as God made them to be, not trying to make them fit into some proverbial box that the world said was “normal” or “better.”

My children are all incredibly inclusive and it makes my mama’s heart swell with love and pride when I see how much they all make the effort to ensure everyone feels a part of things.  My sons are sweeties, communicating their hearts and listening to others sincerely.  My daughter is probably the strongest woman I know.   She is more comfortable in her skin at 24 than most women are at 54.  For the most part, her approval comes from Her Father and she has the kind of healthy boundaries I only dreamed of at her age.  

Truly, they have grown up and into even better human beings than I could’ve imagined, both because of, and mostly, in spite of, me being their mama.

I remember when my oldest was born and I was neurotic about anything hurting him in any way.  I was just sure he was too wonderful a blessing for me to deserve and as soon as someone realized their mistake, he would be taken from me.  When my 2-year old stepson came into my life I remember doing all I could to be sure he felt like our home was just as much his home and that he belonged.  The birth of our only daughter four years later brought this confident peace that our family was complete.  Her big brothers adored her and we had a little girl to add to our precious family of boys.  It wasn’t my first time at the rodeo and I was much more confident in my role as a mama.  Life was good.  When she was just 9 months old we found out that we were pregnant and then, a few weeks later, we discovered the reason I was so, SO sick was that “there were two buns” in my oven, as our OBGYN so politely stated during our initial ultrasound.  It was a drama-filled pregnancy, financially, physically and emotionally.  After a pretty scary  emergency c-section delivery more than 6 weeks before our due date, having 3 babies under 18 months, two of which were premature, was a special kind of crazy.  Sometimes I can’t believe we survived those first two years.

Truth is, I’d go back and do it all over again, if given the chance.  I loved raising my children.  Those years were the best years of my life in so many ways.  I homeschooled them for many reasons, but one of them was because time goes so quickly and I wanted as many moments as I could get with them before it was time for them to leave.  It’s funny because I committed to savoring every moment with them and it still feels like it went TOO fast and it wasn’t enough.  Don’t get me wrong.  My children often drove me completely insane and I would think, “It’s okay.  They’ll leave soon and then you’ll wish you had this mess to clean up.”  Almost instantly my sanity would return and I’d realize that just because I’ll miss them doesn’t mean I should be thankful for their messes!  Right?!

As mad as the early years were when all 5 of our kiddos were young and living at home (when the older 2 weren’t with other bio-parents), it was a simple that I didn’t appreciate enough until it was gone and replaced by the teen years.  You haven’t really lived until you go through that time with 2 kids from previous marriages at the same time and then again with 3 full time offspring.  Seriously, surviving that with your mind mostly intact, is award-worthy.  

And still, I would do it all again. Differently, better, hopefully, but truly anyway I could get it.  I’d do it all again.  

But, I won’t because I can’t, and that’s okay.  Mostly… 

moreso in a month, maybe.

Because last week our daughter moved out of our house and she was the only one left in my nest.  After she walked out the front door with her last big load, our love and prayers poured all over her, I watched a movie with my Honey and went to bed.  The next morning my Honey went to the gym with our son and I piddled around the house, rearranging the pantry and cleaning out the refrigerator.  It was kind of glorious.  Then I walked into our bedroom, sat on our bed, choked out the words, “My nest is empty” and sobbed, not boo-hoo cried, but full body-sobbed for 20 minutes, hard. 

The most important work of my life has ended.  It’s okay, even healthy, for me to mourn that.  She tried to tell me that it wasn’t the most important thing I had ever done, but that’s because she isn’t a mama and she thinks that I’m hopeless if the most important thing is over.  She said that because she doesn’t want to feel responsibility for my sadness – and she shouldn’t.  She should know that I know that no matter what God brings into my journey, the thing I’ve completely poured myself into, grown the most doing, humbled myself the most before and feel that I was born to do and called to was being their mama.  This new season is for her to celebrate and simply make space for me to process and grow.

Being their mama is not all that I am and my life is certainly not over because I am no longer raising my precious children, but it was def the meat of my life-work sandwich.  And this is my mourning season for all that those years brought me, that I am only now able to slow down enough to reflect on with the self-forgiveness, wisdom and grace that I simply didn’t have when we were all living it.

I loved my children well.  I wrestled with my control issues for years in order for them to grow into who God made them to be.  We all made mistakes, but not one of them was because we lacked love for one another.  We were and remain human beings who make mistakes and need God’s grace, as well as one another’s.  As I watch my 3 youngest begin to take flight, I feel a sense of joy and pride that comes with a job well-done.  I have a confidence that they are all striving to be in God’s will and that is enough for this mama.  I don’t expect their lives to be without strife, but I am sure of His plan for their lives being more than I could ever hope for because they have chosen to follow Him with abandon.  I have this hope for my life as well.

I quit my teaching job last year for more reasons than you have time to read about.  I then nannied for several families for a little more than a year.  It has been hard and wonderful.  I’ve done several other jobs in the meantime, but my husband asked me to stop working for a bit and figure out where my next step should be.  He wants me to spend time writing because he knows this is how I best find my center.  Even my daily prayer time is journaling a letter to Jesus, rarely do I pray aloud.  My sweet husband has watched me go through a bit of a mid-life crisis and feel like I have been so busy trying to take care of everyone and everything that I’m not slowing down to hear My Father calling.  So, naturally, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks of semi-unemployment cleaning the house, rearranging everything just so and NOT writing nor slowing down. 

This is Day One of unemployment and I’m working on this blog I started a week or so ago. 

I’m writing.  

Here’s the great stuff…  My life’s work is pretty much amazing.  My babies couldn’t really “wow” me more than they do. 

My husband and I started this great journey of ours with a 2 and 3 year old in-tow, so, in 28 years, we’ve never just been “Us” without little ones or bigger ones to consider.  I have looked forward to this time of just the two of us for more years than I can remember.  There is something magical about those all alone times you have as a couple and except for an occasional weekend in the beginning, we’ve not had much opportunity to enjoy being just a couple.  We’ve worked really hard through the years to stay connected so that when this time came we wouldn’t be lost, we wouldn’t be unable to find “us” again, but here we are and there is a little bit of relearning who we are, who we’ve become and what we want to do with all of that.  Honestly, he is one of my favorite people in the world.  He is funny, protective, and works harder than any man I’ve ever known.  He’s a ESFP, a hard 7 on the enneagram, and his love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch.  He could not be more the opposite of me and I could NOT be more thankful for that.  He just seems to get more handsome as he gets older and that’s impressive and wonderful and also, just a bit irritating, as I do not suffer from the same condition!  He’s much easier to get along with than his younger self and I find myself both loving and liking him more and more as we grow in years together.  God willing, we are still young enough to enjoy each other for many years.  It’s blowing my mind that we are finally here!    

Our 3 youngest come to see us because they want to spend time with us now, not because they have no choice.  Well, they also come for food and gas money, but usually they stay and actually have conversations with their dad and me.  This is the stuff.  When your children grow up and you can see the best parts of you and your husband in them and you truly enjoy their company.  My children challenge me in my walk with God, in my relationships with others, in my personality junk that gets in the way of my being who He calls me to be.  Honestly, it’s humbling in the best way and so rewarding.  I just stand in awe of the humans they’ve become.

I’ve found friends (finally) who are real and that is a gift for a girl who searched high and low for far too long only to come up empty on too many occasions.  It’s also a blessing to not have to have your kiddos tangled up in your friendships because, let’s face it, we all think our kids are the “good” ones and while your babies are happily making up after a tussle with each other, we are usually still harboring that mama-bear resentment that is waiting to spring at any wrong move from the other side.  I am enjoying friendships founded on 2 women with their own personalities and not founded on our children becoming friends.  After homeschooling and working full-time for so many years, I am beside myself that I have the time to go to lunch with friends that I’ve made on my own, in a city that I love.

I have time with My Father like I haven’t had ever before.  I’m not having to wake up at 4:30 a.m. before my children stir, I’m not having to fit Him in when I can because my job sucks the life out of me, I’m not forced to rush through my time with Him like so many times in the past when I had so much on my plate.  I’m thankful for these extended periods of time so that I can be still and listen for His voice.  I’m thankful that I don’t feel the need to sign up for everything so that I can feel like people like me or I’m earning my keep, instead, I can wisely wait on Him to call me and serve where I’m called to serve when I’m called to serve and be comfortable in not being busy.

So, my nest is empty and this new way of living for this hard 2 on the enneagram is anything but comfortable right now.  I love my children with my whole heart, but I am more than a mama and a wife.  I am a woman who has reveled in and hidden behind her husband’s and children’s wants and needs for 31+ years.  All at once, I am terrified of what the future holds, while also waiting with hopeful expectancy for His direction.  There’s no place to hide and no time to waste anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Hearts

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I’m at this picturesque coffee house overlooking Lake Austin this afternoon, on the patio.  My Honey is driving the Duck (and will probably float by in about an hour, hopefully giving me a quack and a wave!).  Our kiddos are either at the gym working out or at their jobs working.  We’re all meeting later for dinner at a new spot called Unity Vegan Kitchen Shady Grove.  So, I have about 5 hours on my own.  I have my computer, my phone, a few bucks for an iced chai, and a view that is simply lovely.

For the past hour, since we walked out of church, I have been trying to figure out what to do with my time.  I had already decided to write, but the leading up to that is a little intimidating, to be really honest.  I do this thing where I impose a level of perfection on myself that simply isn’t possible for me and has the exact opposite effect on my writing than I would like it to.  My heart is to share my junk, in all of it’s glory  ugliness  humanness, with the hope that others don’t feel so alone.  I also pray that others will reach out and let me know that I am not alone in my junk.  Win-Wins are good stuff.

My life is in a good place right now.  I mean there is still SO much brokenness in my life, especially in some of my most intimate relationships, but I believe that this is what is right now and there is nothing for me to do about that at this point except pray and wait in love.  So, there is peace (as well as sadness) in that part of my life, but in the other, more functional parts of my life, there is so much good and I’ve waited for such a long time, so I’m a little bit ecstatic, on the regular. 

I’m setting aside time with my Father daily – okay, about 6 days a week.  It isn’t what I believe it’s supposed to be yet, but that’s okay.  It’s a relationship, it develops with time.  There is ebb and flow and all the while He and I are creating memories, knowing there is grace, love and an entire array of other ingredients that make our relationship sacred.  When I lived in Michigan, I got up and spent time with Him daily for years, but when everything fell apart here, little by little I lost my desire to spend time with Him for so many reasons.  I didn’t want to be transparent with anyone, because of the betrayal I had experienced.  I felt as if He chose not to protect me and then just watched me wallow in humiliation and brokenness.  I doubted His existence on some level.  In my anger, there was arrogance.

So many times over those first few years in Texas I would get up early and open my journal or my Bible and feel nothing but empty.  There were a few rare occasions when I felt His presence and I’d go on a 2-3 day roll before falling into complacency once again.  Each time my hope faded a bit more.  Hopelessness is an oppressive enemy.

I began to realize that this struggle reminded me a bit of my struggle with exercise over the years.  I’ve never been a big fan of the latest craze kind of exercise, especially when it came with a big price tag attached.  I found a long time ago, that once I am emotionally ready, I just have to put one foot in front of the other without a lot of thought.  If I consider things too much, I will talk myself out of exercise in a New York minute.  So, about a year and a half ago, I started setting my alarm for 5:20 and walking out to my chair in the corner of our living room and spending time with my Father.  It was not especially pleasant at first, but it began to feel familiar after a couple of weeks, and that was enough to make me continue getting out of bed without hitting the snooze button for the next few weeks.  It was probably almost a month before I felt like I was connecting with Him and His Word again.  There are times when I don’t follow through – like the first couple of weeks month of school because I’m absolutely exhausted, so I extend myself grace and choose to feel grateful that I managed to wake up early 1 or 2 days that week.  Because I don’t beat myself up, the guilt-monster doesn’t get the best of me, so getting back into my routine happens because I look forward to my special time with Him instead of because I feel guilty for not doing what I’m “supposed” to do.  The great part about that is that the barrier of guilt is not there, I will keep on keepin’ on because I want to and He really only wants me in relationship with Him because I want to be there, not because of that other junk!

Last summer it dawned on me that I needed to again apply this to daily exercise.  So, I started, but doing both in the morning before my 7:15 a.m. report to work time, was not going well.  I considered doing one or the other in the evening, but I was just TOO EXHAUSTED for this kind of commitment once I got home from 9 hours of mostly 6 year olds needing my constant attention.  Back to putting one foot in front of the other without a bunch of thought.  Now I set my alarm for 4:20 a.m. most mornings.  I learned that if I do my workout first, I somehow don’t have time for Him and that’s my priority.  So, I spend time with Him, do my yoga practice and then jump step on the treadmill while watching something awesome, like Bethel music on youtube.

I haven’t lost a ton of weight – and let me tell ya, I would love to, but I feel better every day.  I take my supplements, I eat pretty clean and I’m taking care of my physical heart. It’s taken me a long time to get here, but I’ve decided that instead of beating myself up and getting stuck in the should’ve’s, I’m going to rejoice in the now and the ripple effects all of that will have on my later.

 During this desert time in my life, I believed in God, but I didn’t follow Him.  I’ve felt a bunch of shame during the last few years because I wasn’t the example I used to be for my teenage children who are now young 20-somethings.  We weren’t serving at church, we weren’t including Him in most of our decisions, and my root of bitterness felt as if it increased exponentially at times.  But, here is what I did right:  I kept taking my family to church.  I kept trying to spend time with Him.  I kept looking for a small group or a way to connect with other believers.  I kept trying to be in relationship with Him.  When I was lost and almost void of hope, I kept on putting one foot in front of the other.  Sometimes obedience is the best we can do, and my life is proof that He honors that – my mustard seed of faith and my watering can of obedience were enough.

It took years before I found Him again.  He was there all the time.  My heart just wasn’t ready, yet.  I gave up a time or two, but He waited for me to be ready to try again.  I’m sure I frustrated Him now and again, but still He loves me without condition and He did the whole time I was a broken child.

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My desert time was almost 7 years long.  I often thought I would never feel the joy and fullness that comes with living for Him and knowing Him intimately, again.  I couldn’t fathom being grateful for those dark and empty years.  But I am.  I don’t understand the why of it all and I may not ever.  I just know that I am happier than I have been in what seems like forever and it has lasted a long time.  I  understand that I am blessed with a season of joy right now and that there will be more seasons of “not joy” in my life.  I am proof that He is faithful and sure that I am His.  

I know there are others walking through the desert right now and as much as I wish I could take their hands and walk them out to the beach or a lush, green field ripening with peace and joy, I know that all I can do is send some hope into their journey and assure them that He is walking beside each of them, grieving with them and loving them endlessly, no matter what comes.

Reality of a Girl’s Day at the Spa

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My hubby bought me a pretty pricey gift certificate for a posh Austin day spa last year for Mother’s Day.  It advertises as being unpretentious in a very “Austin” fashion.  They carry organic products to boot!  I was ALL IN!

Well, you know, until I started thinking about actually going to the spa.  Walking through the door in my clothes that make me feel chubby and not cool enough, saying something dorky, general fear of not fitting in.  Even worse… Having to remove my tacky clothes and be 1/2 (or more) naked, so that some young, beautiful girl 1/2 (or less) my age can see and FEEL how chubby I really am.  I’ve birthed a lot of babies and I DO love good food…  Also, premenopause has not been incredibly slimming.

So, I postponed as long as possible.  My Honey has been reminding me since last autumn to make my appointment before the gift certificate expired.  I just nodded and gave an appropriately enthusiastic, “Oh, yeah.  I’ll call next week.”  For months…  and then we were all out at this amazing new restaurant a month or two ago, on a SUNDAY, of all days, and the spa called me…  The woman on the other end of the phone was warm, sincere and ready to book my appointment.  She could not have been more accommodating.  Awesome…

I put on my fake happy voice and made an appointment.  She suggested I try one of their facials and since I had never experienced one, I took the bait.  We agreed I would be there the following Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

I rescheduled 3 times.  In my defense, I really have been sick with this lung junk, but if I’m completely honest, I have to admit I was relieved to have a ready-made excuse.  As I mulled over whether or not to call to cancel again this week, I decided that it was time to embrace this experience and I committed to savoring the good parts of my spa experience.

Last night I was preoccupied with getting to bed in time to have 8 hours of sleep so that I didn’t have such dark circles under my eyes – because, one good night of sleep makes ALL the difference.  I fretted that I ate a hamburger for lunch and potato skins with cheddar and bacon for dinner instead of my usual, healthy, organic fare.  UGH!  What was I thinking?!  My skin would look horrible now!  I could just see all of the gorgeous people at the spa rolling their eyes as my chubby “mommy-of-many” body in frumpy clothing, with my dark, sunken-in eyes walked through the door tomorrow…

As soon as I woke up I did my usual coconut oil pull, followed by warm lemon-honey kangan water, then a large glass of cool kangan water and I filled up two containers before I left – one with kombucha and the other with more water.  I covered my face with organic cocoa butter. My skin was going to glow,  Darn It!

My hair was uncooperative (which means it looked kinda ugly), naturally.  So, I grabbed a bandana, rolled it up and put my hair in a little makeshift headband.  I donned my Honey’s comfy black V-neck T with my denim clam-diggers and I was out the door. I arrived about 30 minutes early.  As soon as I got out of my car, I noticed there was lovely “spa” music being piped into the parking lot.  Ahhhh…  I just loved that.  There was a woman a bit older than me exiting the spa on the ramp as I walked to the front door.  She had a brace on her foot and she was squinting in the bright sun.  We exchanged pleasantries about the appearance of long-awaited sun.  She was kind, normal. It calmed me a smidge.

The girls at the front desk were anything but pretentious, offering cucumber water or tea with warm smiles and genuine tones.  I almost forgot about my lack of fashion-sense, obesity,  and overall absence of confidence.  I filled out the multiple info cards as I sipped my booch, requested only organic products be used, and slowly felt my self-doubt seeping in through the cracks in my wall of false confidence as my appointment time approached.

Once I was in the appointed room, my therapist (who was cute as a button, but not especially warm) asked me why I was there.  I replied, “I’m here for a facial.”  She smiled in that “no #*@! kinda way, and then clarified, “I mean, why are you getting a facial?”  I replied, “My husband got me a gift certificate.”  Now she was really trying to figure out if I had much of an I.Q.  “What I mean is why do you need a facial?  What issues are you having?”

I panicked!  Thinking, “Oh Great!  You’re supposed to have terrible skin to have a facial, aren’t you?!  I probably look like an idiot!”  So, naturally, I threw the girl who called me at the restaurant on that Sunday so many weeks ago right under the bus…  “Hmmmmm…. I don’t know.  Whoever called me originally, suggested I have a facial since I’d never had one before, so I thought it would be nice.  Should I….?”

“Oh, no!  That’s great!  Do you have any skin issues?                Do you want to do an extraction?            Okay, I’m going to step out, you can change into this (tiny towel wrap thingy), undressing to your comfort level, and we’ll begin when you’re ready.  Try to take several DEEP breaths as soon as you are lying down.  It will help you relax.”  – Well, if I’m undressing to my comfort level, we can get started immediately!… and oh, crap!  She noticed I’m not terribly calm…

Once I changed into the velcro washcloth she left for me to wear , I got my body under the sheets asap!  Those few minutes while I am waiting for someone to come in after I’ve undressed are among some of the most awkward moments in my life.  Thoughts that usually go through my mind:

“Oh.  Geez!  Remember when your tummy was a valley whenever you were on your back instead of an expanding little mountain range?”

“What should I do with my facial expression?”

“Do I have boogers?  Do I have anything in my teeth?  What about my breath?”

“Oh, no!  Is that gas I feel?  What do I do if it is?!”

Various thoughts while the therapy is in progress:

“Am I relaxed?  Are my butt-cheeks unclenched?”

“Oh, no!  Do I have to go to the bathroom?”

“I hope I smell okay…”

“I should’ve gotten a pedicure!”

“Oh, my word!  That feels heavenly!”

“I didn’t know they did that when you had a facial!”

“Hot towels on your face are delightful!”

“Her hands are gifted.”

“I didn’t even know my shoulders hurt that much.”

“I wish I could do this EVERY Saturday… or at least every few months…”

… it was one of the most lovely experiences in my life.  The ladies at the front desk were even more enchanting after my treatment.  I walked out of the spa feeling uber zen.  I put my Pandora on and tuned into a meditation channel.  I drove to Freebirds and picked up delicious veggie bowls to take home and eat with my Honey.  Then I went to Juice Land so I could get a Bambata smoothie.  I walked into both places with big, messy spa hair and shiny, pinkish, spa face and I couldn’t have cared less. I was one with myself – chubby, freckle-faced, no make-up, beautiful me…

My goal is to make another appointment in July and not cancel

more than once…

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Love Bears All Things

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I Corinthians 13 7

I’ve been struggling with several issues that seem to be connected.  I can’t get clarity on what the central issue is for myself, and when that happens, it usually means it’s time for me to put it down on “paper,” so to speak.

Vaccinations

Honoring one another – especially women

Motives

Our government

Priorities

Those are the things swirling around in my head – especially when I get in front of Facebook and see so many vicious and often arrogant posts.  We don’t have cable or any “regular” television.  We don’t get the newspaper on the regular.  We feel like we save a bunch of money not having these things, but more important to us is that we are no longer inundated with hyped-up negative and slanted news stories, nor are we overwhelmed with feeling like we have to keep up with the proverbial Joneses because of the endless commercials and television shows that reflect our consumerism society.  We have the internet and we do indulge in Netflix.  We’re way into LOST right now and I enjoy Downton Abbey a bunch!  I find myself doing a lot of my own research online and in texts – books, not the phone kind.  I know there are more garbage sites that just about anyone can post to, but there are also an abundance of legit sites with verified information.  There are sites that completely contradict one another and I am one of those people that believes there are several reasons for this phenomenon.  I believe science is often to some degree vulnerable to the scientist’s prejudice and interpretation.  Presentation is everything!  I also believe that sometimes things aren’t included that don’t fit into the desired result’s equation.  In college, while in the psych department at a major university I saw this on several occasions.  I also believe that slight variations can simply change the results.  That being said, I’m REAL tired of people who act and state that the only legit information sources for cancer, autism,  vaccines, food facts, etc. are governmental and traditional medicine.  Seriously, are we kidding?!

My stance on vaccines is not pro or against.  My stance is DO YOUR RESEARCH!  Your children are worth it!!  Be wise enough to look at information from both sides of the argument with an open mind and heart.  When the number of vaccinations has more than doubled in less than 30 years, we should NOT just blindly roll our babies’ sleeves up.  We should be asking questions without being treated like that makes us bad parents.  THAT is part of what makes us amazing and brave parents.  That is why God gave them to us.  We are supposed to protect them with everything we are.  Sometimes that may mean choosing to vaccinate your child, other times it may mean choosing not to.  NO ONE on Earth loves your child more than you do.  You should make the best decision for Your child, not the government, whose often greedy motives should not be trusted with the health of your child.  My goodness look what they’ve done with that trust thus far!

Again, I’m not anti-government.  I appreciate the amazing parts of living where I do, but I also don’t think that means I should blindly trust a body made of people who are constantly being lured into bad choices for the whole out of greed.  It’s the human condition and left unchecked, it will wreak havoc on all that drink the kool-aid.  We must advocate for ourselves and our loved ones.  We should advocate for all, but this isn’t usually a big motivator in this busy world of ours.

Here’s the biggie.  The one that makes my heart ache.  Why can’t we look through those “mama’s eyes” of ours and recognize other mamas?  – Mamas that love their children as deeply and sacrificially as we do?  Why do we act as though anyone who believes the opposite as we do is ignorant and loves their child less than we do?  Of course, there are crazies on both sides of any argument.  There are some ignorant folks in our world, to be sure.  I believe that the vast majority of mamas are just as amazing on both sides of this or any argument.

I had a discussion with a mama of a child with autism a while back.  She was visibly angry with me when we began talking.  I realized there was much more going on than what I was seeing on the surface.  Once I was quiet I heard her say that she was tired of people accusing her of not doing what was right for her child.  She thought doing what her trusted pediatrician said was the best way to love her child.  I told her that I thought I was the model mama with my first because I was on time with each of my firstborn’s vacs.  I did whatever the doctors told me to.  My son was lucky.  He hasn’t had any medical issues from his immunizations as a child that I am aware of.  Of course, he was born in 1986 and didn’t have twice the number like our babies born today.  She said she didn’t really want to know what caused it because then she might have to live with the guilt of it being her fault and the reality that it might not have had to be this way. 

I get that.  I have a child on the spectrum.  You may not even know it if you met my child, but it’s there and sometimes I wonder…  Mostly, I’ve decided that I have to educate myself from here on out – about vaccines, GMOs, our water, food, air, etc.  I can’t drive myself crazy with guilt or trying to control everything, but I do have a responsibility to find out and share what I know with others who are ready to hear it.

I did the best I could with what I had at the time.  I still do. So does my friend who’s little boy has autism.  I believe 99% of us do.  Guilt, blame and shame have NO place in conversations between parents who did the best they knew how to do for their precious children.  It just keeps us all focused on the wrong stuff and nothing good comes of that, ever.

I have a responsibility to honor others.  I have a responsibility to build younger mamas up and encourage them.  I remember what it was be that young mama.  I remember sometimes how disrespectful other (usually older) mamas were to me.  How dismissive doctors could be.  How impatient teachers often were back then.  It’s such a tough and important job to be a parent.  Most of us know that and still we don’t work to make things better for the next generation.  What would it look like if we all REALLY listened to each other?  What if we researched and shared and came to our own decisions with information that was gathered with human interest and concern?  What if we sometimes agreed to disagree or better, yet, what if we agreed that what’s best for some, may not be best for all?

We aren’t really talking when we throw insults at each other.  What is the priority?  If we really believe our choice is best and we want to protect others, then shouldn’t we speak in love?  People usually know when they are being spoken to in love with honor and respect.  If people choose to go a different path, then do we stop loving them?

Of course not. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.  (I Corinthians 13:7).  It’s not easy, believe me, I know, but it’s what love does.

On Being 50…

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I’ve been 50 for almost an entire year, and I have to tell you, that for me and for several 50+ women I’ve talked to, there is something life-changing about becoming this age.  It didn’t happen instantaneously for me at 5:22 a.m. (I think that’s what time I was born) on January 6, 2014.  But I did sense a change in my self in the months leading up to that day.

I know that our society tells us that getting older is something to be avoided at all costs.  We spend LOADS of money and time trying to appear younger and feel healthier.  I’m all for the feeling better and being healthier – and I spend a bunch of cash on organic food and time on making chemically free products for my family.  I believe while I’m here, I should honor my body and my life by putting the best I can afford and acquire into them and I want that for my Honey and our kids, also.  I think that choosing to live this way has far-reaching effects on our environment and our sense of community, in addition to our day-to-day health.  Beyond that, I think I’ll spend my money on helping others to be healthier and educated.  I’m not saying I like all of the physical changes that are happening to my body, but I understand and accept that this is the deal.  We aren’t invincible.  We are constantly moving toward death…

On that note, I thought I would make a list of the things I hate about being 50 and the things I am enjoying…

I hate that I received an AARP enrollment form in the mail.  –  Seriously?!   I thought this happened at 65?!

I’m mostly not crazy about all of the wrinkles around my eyes, on my forehead (that I’ve had since high school) and around my mouth.

Not in-love with the way my chi chi’s hang lower than ever when not racked up in an underwire bra…

Menopause is rearing it’s ugly head and I just want to eat bread and sweets all of the time, so the extra weight that is appearing around my middle is not something I’m thrilled to see in the bathroom mirror each morning.

I can’t seem to lose weight like I used to…

Men do not look at me the way they used to or nearly as often as they used to…

Things that do not suck about being 50:

I am taken much more seriously when I voice my opinion.

I don’t care as much about what I look like as I care about how most people feel around me.

My Honey loves me more than ever and he truly thinks I’m beautiful.  He sees me.

My self-worth doesn’t depend on others nearly as much as it used to.

My Honey and I don’t want new toys like we used to and because of that we actually have cash to live in the moment.

NO credit cards!

I care SO much more about being healthy and SO much less about being thinner.

I’m a Nana!

My children are becoming my friends.

Men don’t look at me the way they used to.

 

I spent SO much of my time trying to make other people hear me, see me, respect my opinions, and think I was worth something.  It took all this time for me to realize this one simple truth:  I am worth it to Him.  He sees me and loves me unconditionally.  He doesn’t care if my children are dressed beautifully or if my house is always in perfect order.  He doesn’t care if I am the head of every organization that my children join and 7 church committees.  In fact, He probably would prefer I wasn’t the head of more than one or two, if any.  He wants us to be more than we do

Doesn’t that sound simple?…  Our culture goes directly against this and we are often enslaved to this way of thinking, this way of doing.  I wish it hadn’t taken me 50 years to figure most of this out.  I’m thankful I have figured some of it out.  I think the best part about being 50 is that I feel more freedom than I ever have and self-acceptance is truly a reality.  It’s a gift to be okay in your own (wrinkly) skin…

 

Booch, Kefir and Good Bacteria!

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Recently I started making kombucha.  My Honey loves it and it’s great for arthritis and a myriad of other ailments.  It also costs about $4.00 for each 12-16 oz. bottle in stores.  OUCH! – So, I started looking into it, bought some cool bottles and one large jar to add to my first gallon sized fermenting jar and now I’ve got 2 batches rotating about 2 days apart so that we have a constant batch going and fresh booch all of the time.  I’ve made cherry, blueberry, mixed berry, lemon-ginger, pineapple ginger, lime-ginger, orange-ginger, and plain-old ginger.  I am also going to try a cranberry-ginger later today.

I don’t especially love the taste, as it’s a bit vinegar-y for me, but I’ve already noticed my knees don’t hurt nearly as much as I climb up and down our stairs, so I’m more than willing to suck it up for health!  The ginger varieties are definitely my favorites so far, which surprised me, honestly.  I was sure I would love all of the cherry and berry varieties, but the ginger mellows the vinegar in such a natural blending kind of way that is very pleasant to the palate.  My next batch will be one I blend with some good organic juice varieties.  I think I’ll let this booch batch ferment a bit longer since it will combine with the juice and I want the full benefits, in spite of cutting the amount of booch in each serving.

Initially, we spent about $40.00 for the glass jar and glass stopper bottles.  For each batch I think we spend around $3.50 for the ingredients to make one gallon of booch.  This includes 7 organic tea bags, 1 gallon of distilled water, 1 cup of organic sugar and whatever fruit or flavoring we use.  For instance, to make a gallon of booch we used about an inch of ginger root and then about the equivalent of a half of an orange in various fruits since you only need a small bit of fruit and/or ginger in each 16 oz. bottle.

I’ve been making kefir for a couple of years now.  This past August, when I went back to school (I teach 1st grade), I was so busy that I put my kefir in the fridge because i was exhausted and kept forgetting about it.  Well, then I forgot about it for over 2 months.  I had to order new grains a few week ago and they are beauties, I tell ya!  This time I’ve decided to do the double fermenting method.  It increases the growth of all of the good stuff and makes it even healthier for us!  I used to add it to our smoothies, but I think we’re going to start drinking more kefir with a little fruit in order to get more of this amazing stuff into our bodies!  Did you know that kefir has over 60 beneficial probiotics and yeasts?  Yogurt has only 5-6!  Now, we make our own yogurt (well, my daughter does), and it is SO much more delicious than any store bought yogurt we’ve ever tasted, so, I’m not saying don’t eat yogurt, just know that kefir has much more of the good stuff in it!!  I also don’t love the taste of kefir, but with some fresh or frozen organic fruit whipped in, it is truly delicious!

Fermented food is SO VERY good for us.  We have become such a sterile society in so many ways that we’ve gotten rid of the good bacteria that fights the bad bacteria in our bodies.  I heard an interesting, yet disturbing bit of information from Jim Dooley, Executive Director at the New Angela Foundation.  He says that the average person has 10% good bacteria in his/her body and 90% bad bacteria. The great news is that if we make kefir a regular part of our diet, we can flip those numbers around so that we can have a healthier body with 90% good bacteria & 10% bad bacteria.

We are now drinking kefir every morning and booch with lunch and dinner.  I’m really excited to see how much better we are all going to feel.  We are already noticing some improvement in our general health and energy levels.

I know some people are thinking that they just don’t have the time to do this kind of stuff!  Some of you are feeling like you could never do this right.  Well, I’m here to tell you that if I can do it, anybody can!  And as far as time goes:  I think it takes about an hour a week to do both kefir (every other day) and booch (once a week, 2 batches).  For the money we are saving, the amount of waste we are not contributing (buying multiple bottles at store each week), and the satisfaction we get knowing we are doing these incredibly healthy acts of kindness for our bodies and the earth for very little financial cost, there is really no question in our minds.

This is something I am very passionate about.  I get such a high every time I make something that makes my husband and children healthier.  It isn’t about living longer or looking younger, it’s about feeling better and taking care of the body He blessed me with.  I’m so thankful to the people who have shown me pieces of their healthier lives and patiently shown me how i can do the same simple and amazing things for myself and my family.  I’m also very thankful that we have the internet.  I don’t know how my family and I could do most of these things without watching 15 videos before we have the courage to do it ourselves!

Here’s to health and saving money!!

Kefir & Kombucha

A Rough Week…

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It’s been a rough couple of weeks, Sister!  Two weekends ago our youngest son, totaled his car.  Not a scratch on him!  For such a terrible incident, it couldn’t have been more perfect, really.  The accident happened right in front of the Austin Police Department and it was the other driver’s fault, so there was no argument about it, and from what my son says the other people took full responsibilty and were very nice.  Both parties had insurance – HUGE!  NO ONE was injured – all that really matters… especially after I saw the pictures of his car.  Aaron was completely focused on losing his car, the financial loss, the loss of freedom, the inconvenience.  I know this is somewhat normal for a 19 year old guy, but this mama understands how little stuff means and how much the people that you love mean!  I think the poor boy was in shock.  After a few days he seemed to understand how lucky he was and put things in perspective.

On Sunday my Honey started complaining that he felt like he was getting the flu and that he had pain on his abdomen around a little bump from what he thought was an ingrown hair.  I have to be honest.  I thought he was being a little dramatic.  He wasn’t running a temp and he was eating just fine.  We called our doctor’s office Sunday evening and the answering service took his information and assured him the office would call first thing Monday morning.  I knew he was for real when he decided to call in sick on Monday.  He NEVER calls in sick.  My Honey is a workaholic and he would have to be almost dying to not go to work.

I called him at 9:30 a.m. on Monday to see what the doctor’s office had said and he told me they hadn’t called him, yet.  He tried calling again, only to reach the answering service who again told him that they had relayed his prior message and would do so again.  They told him that it had been very difficult to reach anyone at the office for a couple of weeks.  UGH!!  So, I do a search on my computer, find four phone numbers for the office and begin calling all of them.  No one answers until I dial the last of the four!  I’m told that they can get him in next week and that they never got our message.  I explain to her how ludicrous this all is.  This is my husband’s health.  He called over the weekend, no one called back, no one is answering the phones, and no one seems to care.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

She then tells me that they just got a cancellation at the office closest to us tomorrow morning…  How convenient…

Tuesday morning:  Bob says he’s not feeling great.  He feels like he is running a low-grade temp and doesn’t want anything to eat.  He looks a little pitiful, tired and pale. I go to work (a mile up the road) and tell him to call as soon as he knows anything.

He calls me four hours later from the doctor’s office to say that they want him to go to the emergency room at Seton (in Austin) as soon as possible because they can’t tell if he has a hernia or what is going on and they don’t have any equipment to find out.  Again… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  Couldn’t they admit him?  I’m baffled, Jeffy…

Caleb and my Honey pull up to the school to go to the ER.  My husband looks terrible.  He is red, his head looks swollen,  much of him looks swollen, and he is in great pain.  We drive to the hospital.  We are told because of his diabetes, his risk of gangrene is very great and they need to remove the “mass” as soon as possible.  They don’t have any idea what the mass is from and don’t seem concerned with that part of it, just that we need to get it out, get rid of the infection, and get my Honey’s temp down.  They tell us that surgery will be in two hours or less.

After an hour they rush into the room, tell us by some awesome stroke of luck the surgeon has arrived early and will begin surgery at any moment.  We are relieved, mostly, but still overwhelmed by all of this urgency.  We talk about it, prepare to be separated, ask various staff members what is going on in my hubby’s body and wait…

and wait…

Four hours later, they take us to pre-op.  I’m terrified by the information they’re giving me about diabetes, infection, gangrene. Honestly, just the word “mass” has me a little concerned.  I know people who have lost loved ones with diabetes after an incident as seemingly insignificant as a cut on a foot.  I’m very much alone except for facebook.  It is like a lifeline.  My friends and family are praying for us and that is what holds me up.  I don’t let my husband see any fear, of course.  I just keep telling him how glad I am that he is getting such great care and I know that by tomorrow, he will feel like a new man!

They come for him, finally, 7 hours after we arrived that afternoon. They tell me the surgery will probably take about an hour and then he’ll be in recovery for a couple of hours. They will contact me on my cell, which is at 14%… I rush to my car, which is in the parking ramp. I charge my phone for about 20 minutes or less and then head back to the OR waiting room quickly so that I’m there when they call. Only I get lost. I’ve only been here one other time, in July, for Bob’s polyp surgery and I stayed in one place for a few hours and then we went home. I am panicked and it’s after 8:00 p.m. WHAT IF I’M NOT THERE AND SOMETHING GOES WRONG?!?!?! WHAT IF HE NEEDS ME?!?!?!?!
I somehow find my way up to the floor where he will stay after surgery. The ironic part of this is that we were there for a total of less than 5 minutes, but somehow this is what I remember. There are several nurses writing on charts in the hall outside his room, so I ask one of them if she can tell me where I can find the OR waiting room because I’m lost and if they try to contact me I won’t be there… She tells the other nurses that she’ll be back in a minute, puts her things down and takes me to the elevator… But, wait, there’s more… Then she gets on the elevator with me, takes me to the floor I need to be on and walks me to the waiting room! This is HUGE hospital and this was a journey… When we reach the waiting room, I begin to thank her and it comes out in lumps of incomprehensible gratitude covered in tears. I will carry this kindness with me and choose to honor it by passing it on as often as I am able. The other very kind woman at the desk then tells me that it will be at least 2 more hours before my Honey is out of recovery, but that he did very well in surgery.
My youngers call me to see how their dad is doing and I ask them to come and sit with me. I explain that I am having a hard time and I feel very alone in this big place. I need them. Less than 15 minutes later, my babies are hugging me and sitting by my side. We go to the vending machines, buy stuff I would NEVER ordinarily purchase, let alone injest. We even laugh a bit. I am blessed that they are so like their daddy in this way – making me laugh even when I’m miserable. It blesses me and amazes me and sometimes it drives me crazy! When we return to the waiting room, only 20 minutes have passed, but I decide to call about my husband’s progress in spite of being told it will be another hour. HE’S IN HIS ROOM WAITING FOR US!!!!
We zip around the halls to the elevator, take it up to the 5th floor and find our way to his room. I brace myself for how he will look because he looked so unwell before surgery and I assume he will look worse after going through the operation. I can’t believe what I see when I walk into his room. He looks better than he has in a week. His color is good. The swelling is gone. He is smiling… My heart is singing!!
Wednesday & Thursday: We spend the next couple of days helping him to heal and focus on getting his blood sugar levels down so that he can heal. They tell us every different thing depending on who we talk to and when we talk to them, but mostly it’s positive. When he finally gets to go home Thursday evening, he is doing well and will need homecare for his wound several times each week.
He is doing really well. His blood sugar is WAY down and his wound is nearly closed up. Smooth, I tell ya…

Aaron is supposed to get his check from the insurance company tomorrow. He didn’t get nearly what he put into his old car, but he’s coming to terms with it, I think. They gave him a rental car, told him that it was for a few days and then when we called the rental company to see what time to return it, they told us that we weren’t required to return it, yet, and we probably had 30 days or until Aaron received his check. A week later they called to say we owe them over $200! So, we will be struggling with that soon… UGH!

This past Saturday our neighbors house caught fire. It looks like the upstairs is completely gutted. No one was home, they have renter’s insurance and much of their belongings were in the garage and untouched, AND both of their pets got out safely. I know the coming weeks will be a nightmare for them and I understand that they lost their pictures and other irreplaceable items, but they aren’t going to the hospital and they aren’t having a funeral, so I’m praising Him for protecting them. Stuff can be replaced. People can’t be.

Yesterday my oldest brother texted me that our father is in the hospital. They aren’t really sure what it is. He had a terrible headache and has lost vision in one of his eyes. They’re doing tests and suspect Arteritis. I looked up what that is. Apparently it is the inflamation of arteries. His symptoms fit the medical defintions I found online. I’m so sad my mom is alone in Florida worrying about him with no immediate support. I hope their network of Florida friends has gathered around them. I’m praying for him… and her…

That’s a whole other blog…

Heck, that’s a trilogy…

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, I tell ya… But the one constant in all of this junk has been reaching out, asking for prayer and receiving support in exponential abundance. I feel emotionally exhausted, but lifted up so lovingly, that my faith is strengthened and my heart is full.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16

BLESSED…