I Smell Worms…

On Saturday the girls and Rob surprised me with an early morning fishing trip.  As a Mother’s Day gift, our two oldest daughters pitched in to buy me a fishing license. Up to this point fishing had been between them and their dad.  But Saturday morning we were all up by 6:30 and headed to the lake.

I was grateful for the gift and their enthusiasm, because I remembered my own excitement at their age of going fishing with my Dad . It was less the act of fishing and more the time with my Dad that I cherished most. I have vivid memories of standing on piers fishing, and loving every minute – fish or no fish.

With memories in tow and 4 excited little girls, Rob and I headed to the lake.

Note: this weekend was the first time I have been fishing in about 15 years.

We had a blast! Between the 6 of us we caught 4 tiny fish, but the fish didn’t matter. Feet got wet. The girls laughed and grinned with excitement at each tiny fish. We watched turtles, a bass guarding its nest, and all the birds. And I surprised them all by cutting the worms and baiting their hooks for them (I did grow up in the South you know!). It was a blast!

As an added gift, I experienced a new, old smell. I smelled worms.  Now I don’t believe I actually smelled the worms.  I believe my brain generated a memory and caused me to think I was smelling worms.  I know this because, it wasn’t until  yesterday that I stopped smelling worms.  The smell started at the lake, but continued into the shower, meal times, house cleaning, bedtime, and every corner of my days. I even felt like I tasted worms, while eating my favorite chocolate chip cookie dessert this weekend. :-(

The brain is an amazing organ! It is trying to help me associate smells with my interactions in the world by recalling past experiences. I just think this time it was a little too persistent!

It sure would be nice to smell that chocolate chip cookie again. However, today I am grateful for the opportunity to smell worms!

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Life After 6 Months – Transparency Update

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers! Surgery was 6 months from today! I am so thankful to be healthy, and I praise God for each of you who have walked this journey along side me! Let’s celebrate!

Now for the update…

Smell
I am still unable to smell the world around me, but I have the ghost smells that I’ve mentioned before – floral, soapy, or chemical smells. The inability to smell doesn’t phase me too much unless I’m trying to determine whether something in the fridge has gone bad :-) The only other time it really bothered me is when we were vacationing in Alabama and I couldn’t smell the salty beach air or the nostalgic smells of my grandmother’s house. You really don’t realize the role smell plays in your life until you don’t have it.

Hair & Skin
Until just a week ago, I have been losing hair in large amounts. I have been taking Biotin and Multivitamins to strengthen my hair. I think the vitamins are finally working. I still have very thin and frizzy hair, but I’m not losing as much each morning. I also noticed an alfalfa sprout of hair about an inch long on my incision line. Although I think I will always have the trench along my incision, my hair is finally growing back.

As for my complexion, the acne has disappeared. Of course I still have an occasional blemish, but the drug induced changes in my complexion seem to be gone. Yea!

Weight & Fitness
I am thoroughly enjoying my exercise routine. My trainer, Jamie, from OneLife Fitness has made exercise fun again and is helping me reach my goals. I exercise about 3 times a week at the gym and 2 times a week at home. We’ve even developed together a Customized Fitness program for homeschool moms and their kids. It’s an amazing program for moms to train with a trainer and their kids to work on PE skills. My girls love their time at the gym, and it makes it easier for me to get another workout into my schedule,too
I don’t love dieting these days (although reluctantly I am still trying), but I have fallen in love with fitness!
The numbers on the scale are moving slower than I would like, but I am seeing a large difference in my muscle tone and the way my clothes are fitting. I’ve even made it back into my “skinny” jeans. Even when the weight numbers aren’t moving, I am seeing progress toward getting my pre-drug body back (and I’m going to have more muscle tone than I had before drugs).
So for the gory details… I have 19 lbs left to lose.

Feelings & Emotions
I still have days where I can’t believe I ever even had a tumor, and when I worry about what the tests in August will show. I even still have days where anger over the entire situation pokes its ugly nose, or when I can’t understand why I’m feeling sad or anxious. However, most days I am feeling great! I am thankful for how far we have come, my increased energy, and every moment that I get to spend with the ones I love! I am embracing new situations, like bungee bouncing 20 feet into the air on a trampoline at a car show, new relationships, and new ministry opportunities in my church and community. I have a lot of life left to live, and the events of last fall reminded me that there is no better time then today to live, love, and glorify God!

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Life After 6 Months – Busyness means Life is Better

In October and November life was slow. The days of waiting, doctors, medication, and healing dragged on for what seemed like an eternity. I longed for my days and nights to go back to normal. I yearned for my schedule, my life.

Now 6 months later, I have my schedule, my normal, my life back. What I forgot 6 months ago is my life is busy – a husband running 2 in-home businesses, 4 little ones, homeschooling, swimming lessons, photography jobs, client meetings, grocery runs, laundry, cleaning, calendar and meal planning… I get tired just typing it all.

But busyness means my life is better, right?

Is life really better when quiet times and Bible studies get crowded out,

Blogs go unwritten,

Conversations and words of life are left unsaid, and

Love left unshared?

(And, let’s be honest, sometimes the cleaning and laundry undone)

I AM better. I only have a few physical scars remaining. Most strangers would never even know I had brain surgery. But is life better?

Looking back, I wouldn’t say busy is better. I don’t want to just have a “busy” life. I want to have a “full” life and that life is found in the slow moments – the quiet moments, the loving moments, the life-giving moments.

I’ve experienced the slow life by necessity, and I wanted that life to change. Now I have to make a choice to slow down, to be quiet, to pause and reflect, and to be still and experience life in its fullness. And sometimes I am not always good at making that choice. These days I long for that slowness, because I know that life isn’t better when its busy or “normal”. Life is better when it is full and intentional.

Fullness comes from loving and being loved. Fullness comes from pouring into the lives of others. Fullness comes from being still and knowing I don’t have to get through my days alone. Fullness comes from Christ.

Today fullness, not busyness, is what makes my life better.

 

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Life after 6 months – Realization and Longing

Can you believe it has been 6 months since my brain surgery? I can’t…

Sometimes it seems like it was last month, while other times I still don’t believe it ever happened. When I touch my head and feel the trench on my scalp along the incision line or feel the scars on my forehead from the skull incision, I am reminded. It was real. I had brain surgery. I had a tumor. When I allow this realization to set in, I can feel the sadness and fear welling up. Then I remember the key word is “had”… its not there anymore and hopefully it never will be again.

I don’t want another tumor, but I do long for certain aspects of last fall. Life moved at a slow, intentional pace (at least for me). I was able to focus on life-giving conversations and the love of those around me. Most importantly, I felt closer to my Savior and Creator than I had ever felt before. I realized this longing a few weeks ago while watching the ending heaven scene of Les Miserables. It brought me to tears (and I’m not really a crier). After reflection, I realized my tears came out of a desire to be in God’s arms again, to feel the fullness of His presence.

I don’t want to relive last fall with another tumor, but I am sick. I am homesick, longing for the fullness of my Savior’s presence. I count this yearning as a blessing from my illness. I now know what it means to truly rest in His presence. He hasn’t changed since November, but I have.

 

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Words of Rest

In light of the events in Boston and in Texas, as well as some personal things on my own heart this week… I have very few words to say for my bi-monthly devotion. And so I feel called to share God’s words from scripture. When we don’t have words, God always does. And His promises are always true. Rest in His word today and always! I know I am.

When my heart is heavy,

When words seem miles away,

I look to the Psalms

For what only God knows my heart yearns to say…

Psalm 121 (NIV)

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

May your heart find rest in God’s Word “now and forevermore”.

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Devotion: A New Plan

A New Plan

I had a plan.

I had family meals, activities, and how I would carry out my weight loss goals all planned out before the week began.

Then Saturday we woke up to illness in the house. This wasn’t part of the plan. This didn’t fit into my goals for the week. To top it off Sunday was Easter and how do you celebrate God’s greatest act of love and worship with family and friends, when children are sick. Anxiety and disappointment started to creep into my heart.

Have you ever had one of these weeks? When no matter how well-intentioned your goals may have been, God says “not today, I have something different planned.”

I have to admit that on Sunday, I was reluctant to fully embrace this new plan. I wanted to worship together as a family, but instead my husband and I tag teamed our way to worship services. I wanted to have fellowship and celebrate, and instead we were nursing sick children and eating leftovers. Not to mention, I was worried about the upcoming week, and uncertain of how I would reach my goals with this new plan in motion. Have you been here before?

Looking back I am glad I found myself struggling with these new plans on Easter. Isn’t that the reason Christ died and rose again, to show us a new way? My husband and I have been watching The Bible miniseries on the History Channel. In the episode where the Pharisees feel threatened by Jesus’ “new” way, they chose to fight against his plan for Israel, instead of embracing the fullness of what Christ had to offer. We all know how that ended. Like the Pharisees when I place my well-intentioned plans before God’s will for my life, I am going to miss out on the fullness of blessings that he has to offer.

Although I started the week with a reluctant heart, I have been able to find immense joy in the new plans for my week. Leading up to this week, I was in great need of rest and a chance to catch up on life. God knew that. Through my children being sick, I have been forced to rest with them. I have had a chance to clean the house, snuggle, read to, and play games with the girls, and have in-home evening dates with my husband. When, based on my plans, I would have been at the gym; I have been able to minister through conversations, prayers, and action to friends and even strangers in need. Now I haven’t thrown my meal plans and exercise routines out the window, I just had to adjust to the days’ interruptions. By doing so, I was able to fully embrace the plans God has for me.

Aren’t His plans always greater and more fulfilling than our own? So if things aren’t going exactly as you had planned this week, don’t throw in the towel, embrace God’s new plan for your week. His plans are good!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

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Wednesday’s Devotion

I owe you an update, and I plan to write one soon. Until then here’s my Wednesday devotion.

Choices

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word “choice” lately. All day we make choices – What time to get up? What to wear? What to eat? How to speak to our family, friends, or co-workers? What music to listen to, if any? How and when to exercise? When to spend time with God, or if we’ll spend time with God? The list of choices throughout the day is endless.

Every second, every minute there are choices to be made. Some are easier than others, and most we don’t even realize we are making at the time. Of course, there are some choices that require more energy – Will we let our emotions drive our decisions, or will we do what we know is right? Will we chose to give into temptation, old habits and addictions, or will we fight to stand strong? Will we allow our human flesh to dictate our behavior, or will we look to God’s wisdom and strength?

If you’re currently on a weight loss journey with me, difficult decisions may be – will we eat the cookie, or chose a healthier snack? Will we exercise, or find another excuse not to? Regardless of what the choice is or how difficult it may seem to be at the time, I’ve been convicted lately to remember that we always have one.

We can’t always control the final product or outcome of our choices, but we do have the power to make the choice. We aren’t victims of our circumstances. We are children of the Almighty God!

Throughout our days as we face temptations, unexpected emotions, internal battles, or any other challenge, remember we can choose to give up, or we can choose to keep making healthy choices and claim the life God intends for us.

Maybe our lives are less about the final outcome, and more about the choices we make along the way.

19 “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”  Deut. 30:19-20

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Wednesday’s Devotion

A Choice Companion

On my own temptation overtakes me.

With my Savior I stand firm against temptation because I’ll never face more than we can bear together. (1 Cor. 10:13)

On my own the lies in my head are louder than the truth.

With my Savior my hope is in His word and I meditate on His promises. (Psalm 119:147-148)

On my own even my successes may feel like failures.

With my Savior my eyes are fixed on the author and perfecter of faith so that I will not lose heart. (Heb. 12:2-3)

On my own my energy runs dry, and exhaustion overcomes.

With my Savior I’ll soar on wings like eagles. I’ll run and not grow weary. (Isaiah 10:31)

On my own guilt outweighs grace.

With my Savior redemption is found in His sacrifice and gift of grace. (Romans 3:23-24)

On my own failure is inevitable.

With my Savior my confidence comes from the good work He will complete within me. (Phil. 1:6)

When my obstacles seem too big, my journey seems too long, and I feel on my own, I will choose to cling to my Savior, Immanuel, for God is with me.

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March 5, 2012

Smell

The world is a smelly place these days.  I went through about a month where I smelled very little, but as of last week the world has been full of odors. They still aren’t necessarily caused by environmental cues – although my time on the treadmill triggers an ammonia type smell, which I can only assume is my body odor!  Current odors consist of the soap smell, an ammonia smell, and an oily smell (maybe olive oil). This week I have had an odor in my nose over 80% of the time. Perhaps my sniffer is trying to start sniffing again. Only time will tell.

Energy Level

I’d say I’m functioning at about 95%.  If I could only cut back on the late nights and busy schedules with the girls, maybe I’d make it to 100%.

I am still trying to exercise everyday. The days I exercise are the days I feel the best and have more energy.An average week of exercise consists of 4-5 days of 30-40 minutes of cardio and at least 2 days of strength training at the gym (one session with my trainer and one class). I’ve almost gotten to the point where I experience withdrawals on the days I don’t exercise. I consider this a good sign. My body sees the benefit and is trying to tell me to keep it up.

Weight Goals 

Only 21.5 more pounds to go!

Mental Health

Life is good!

Still have down days, but don’t we all.

Overall, tonight I would say life is good!

 

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A Special Word

Gratitude

The word gratitude has been at the forefront of my brain lately as I think on the last 4 months. Gratitude being a spirit of thanksgiving, an attitude of appreciation, a posture of praising God the giver of blessings.

Over the last few weeks I have written many blog entries in my head, yet very few have made it online. Thank you for your patience, continued prayers, and understanding. The blessing in the lack of blogging lies in the reality that I am feeling better, working harder at home, and once again balancing all my responsibilities. I don’t want to see blogging disappear from my activities, but I am thankful that I am no longer up at 3 am writing them.

As I considered all the blog entries floating around in my head, the one that seemed essential to write today is my feelings of gratitude. I feel that I have not adequately expressed all the love and appreciation I have for you – my friends, family, and even strangers, who have helped carry my family over the last 5 months. I can not say thanks enough to my prayer warriors, meal providers, care givers, encouragement senders, and company keepers. We survived these last few months, and continue to survive today because of the ways you have served our family as the hands and feet of God. Thank you for lifting us up and encouraging us in our journey. I praise God for each and every one of you – the parents, the family, the neighbors, the friends, the friends of friends, the people where we do business, the churches… the list could go on. Your outpouring of love and prayers has been overwhelming, humbling, and healing. Thank you!

Gratitude to God got me through the darkness, fear, and pain of diagnosis and recovery. Gratitude is what carries me today as I look back on where we’ve been and where we are headed. And gratitude is what I owe each of you who have carried us on this journey. Thank you! I praise God for you today!

 

 

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