Saturday, September 24, 2011

Remembering 09-24-01 Part Two

In my last post, I told you what I remembered about the night three of my friends lost their lives on the way home from preaching Jesus to a group of youth in Bristol, Florida. What I didn't tell you was my dad's side of the story.

You may wonder what my dad has to do with this since he wasn't there, but a few days after the accident occurred, he told me a story that to this day still sends chills down my spine.

Remember that I told you I had the sense of foreboding for days before the accident happened but I thought it had something to do with my mom? Well, my dad had that same feeling too.

That night after David and I left, my dad said that the sense that something bad was going to happen was strong. As he and my brother sat down to eat dinner, my brother was about to say the blessing over the food when my dad told him to pray for me, David, and my mom.

After dinner, Dad decided to take a shower before finishing up his homework. He said that while he was showering he was overcome with a sense of dread and the feeling that if he didn't pray right then someone he loved was going to die. Immediately, he called on God to protect his family. Not knowing which of the three of us it was going to be, he prayed earnestly for our protection. After he prayed, he was filled with peace.

Later after his shower, he was doing his homework when my brother gave him the phone and it was me on the other end telling him that we had been involved in a terrible accident and that while we were fine others in our group had not made it out alive.

I strongly believe that I wouldn't be here right now if my dad hadn't listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and prayed that night.

I'm sure that he can explain his side better than me and if you have questions about his story, you should ask him but I cannot remember this day without remembering how he prayed for me, David, and my mom. I also can't thank my cousin David enough for having the presence of mind to tell us to put our seat belt's on. Without getting that seat belt on in time, I'm sure I would be being remembered today as well instead of the one telling the story.

Remembering 09-24-01

Ten years ago today, I literally saw my life flash before my eyes. But before I get to what happened on September 24, 2001, I need to back up a little bit.

Only a few weeks before, the USA had suffered a terrible act of terrorism and we were in mourning as a country. Countless people had lost their lives in an unspeakable act. I didn't know anyone who had personally been affected by the 9-11 tragedy but I still felt a great loss as a citizen of the United States. Little did I know, a few short weeks later I would experience a tragedy of a different magnitude. One that would hit too close to home and would dramatically change my life. 

On September 20, 2001 my mother left our new home in Graceville, Florida where my father and I attended The Baptist College of Florida. She was traveling alone on her way back to our hometown of Claxton, Georgia where she would meet up with the ladies from our home church and attend a women's conference at Callaway Gardens in Georgia. I can only describe the feeling that I felt when she left as a sense of foreboding. Everything within me shouted that something bad was going to happen. I prayed for her, I worried about her. I was positive that something was going to happen to her. I remember feeling tense every time the phone rang. But the weekend came and went and everything seemed to be just fine. 

When we moved to Graceville my cousin David moved in with us. He had already been attending BCF for a year and to help him save money my parent's offered to let him live with us. He was a part of a BCF's Baptist Collegiate Ministry team called JAM (Jesus and Me) Teams. The teams traveled around the area preaching Jesus through drama, music, and the written Word of God. I loved drama so I figured that this would be the perfect ministry for me to be a part of. I went with David the first night to sign up to be on a JAM Team. I was later put on a team with my cousin David, his former roommate Jeromy Leary, Jeromy's new wife Amanda, Joe Hall, David Hoffman, Jody Mierop, Jeremy Gault, Frank Everson, Treeva Burris, and a few other people whose names elude me at this moment. 

The week before we had gone out for the first time as a group to do ministry. It had gone well. I was enjoying getting to know the others in my group, not realizing that by the following week, I would forever be connected to this group of people in a way I could not imagine. I have incredibly fond memories of this group of people before and after. The tears come today as I remember these people and what we endured. 

September 24, 2001 was a Monday. We were scheduled to minister to a youth group in Bristol, Florida later that day. My mom wasn't scheduled to come home until a couple of days later and I remember sitting in class that morning still feeling that sense of foreboding. Once my classes were done for the day, I went home to get ready to leave with the group. I packed my book bag with some homework and grabbed my cell phone. I remember that my dad was sitting at the kitchen table when I was leaving. I told him that I had my cell phone with me in case I needed it or he needed to call me. He told David and I to be careful and we headed up to the college. 

The running joke during that time was that Strike Force, a singing group at BCF, always got the good stuff. They had the best van and equipment. I remember looking at the 15 passenger van that we were going to be traveling in and thinking that it didn't look so safe. One of the guys, Joe Hall, repeatedly said that every time he got on that van he prayed for his life. On the way there, between all the goofing around, joking about the van we were on, and playing a game called Green Glass Doors, I forgot about the feeling that I had been having for the last several days. 

We arrived at the church in Bristol, Florida. The praise band that was a part of our team led the group in some worship songs. We performed some skits and then Jeromy Leary, our group leader, got up and spoke to the youth. I can't remember what his sermon was about but something none of us will ever forget is that he told those students, that he didn't know if he'd make it home that night but that was OK because he knew where he was going. 

Later we loaded up the van and headed back towards Graceville. On the way home from ministering we always each spoke about what God had said to us during our time. This night after we were all done sharing, Jeromy, who was sitting directly in front of me, was turned around towards the back, telling us of this great opportunity that we had coming up. We were going to be a part of an area church-wide youth lock-in at the Playground (a skating rink, laser tag, arcade type place) in Dothan, Alabama. We were all so excited. That is what we were talking about when I heard this awful noise.

To me, it sounded like a machine gun. I literally covered my head with my hands and ducked. It was terrifying. My cousin David sat to the right of me. Since we were small children he has always been the voice of calm and reason in stressful situations. At this point, the van had started to fishtail and he realized what had happened. One of the tires had shredded on our van. You know how it is on youth trips. Hardly anyone  wears their seat belt's in those vans. I'm not sure if anyone besides the driver and the front seat passenger had theirs on. I know that David and I didn't. Calmly he told the group that we all needed to put our seat belt's on. I looked down to see if I could find mine. Often those seat belts are tucked under the seats because of how rarely they are used. By God's grace my seat belt was lying right where it should be. As I went to grab it, I looked up at my cousin and he was trying to hand me his seat belt. He didn't realize that I had mine and wanted me to put his on. That's what I call love, my friends. I assured him that I had my own and we both snapped our seat belt's quickly. I'm not kidding. As soon as our seat belt's snapped the van started flipping. We flipped two and half times before we landed on our left side. 

During those moments I was terrified but peaceful at the same time. It's really hard to describe. They say that in moments like that, your life flashes before your eyes and mine did. I remember thinking that this was it and that I was going to die. I wondered what it was going to be like. In my mind I saw my family. I imagined what life would be like when they found out that I was gone. I wasn't afraid to die. I kept waiting for that moment when I could no longer feel and hear what was going on around me. All the thoughts that I had made it feel like a lot longer than it really was. When the van came to a stop, I was genuinely surprised that I was still alive. I remember saying that over and over in my head...I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive. 

Because of the way the van ended up, I was sort of suspended in the air by my seat belt. After the initial surprise of being alive, anxiety sat in. I desperately wanted to get out of that van. I can't remember but I think it was Frank who was sitting to my left and he unfastened my seat belt for me. I had blood dripping all over me and in my hair. I climbed my way out of the van and what I saw changed me. I won't describe in detail for you because what I saw was so traumatic that I didn't sleep alone for weeks after it was over. I ended up having to see the counselor at the school and having a treatment done to me that is often done on war vets to help with PTSD. It will suffice to say that I saw four of my friends laying on the highway and in the grass. 

I had blood on me, I was missing a shoe, and I remember looking around thinking that surely I was sitting in a theater somewhere watching a movie about someone elses life because surely this couldn't be mine. Behind us traffic was backing up. I was paralyzed by what I saw. I watched as my cousin David tried desperately to help his friend Jeromy. David was bleeding pretty badly from his head and I was worried about him. This also reminded me to check my injuries. I couldn't really find anything that was wrong with me other than a bump on my hand and some gravel in my arm. I later realized that the blood on me had not been my own but David's as it had dripped on me from his head while we were suspended by our seat belt's. 

A man came up to me and asked me what he could do for me. There was no way I was going back in that van so I asked him to find my shoe and my book bag. Once he retrieved those, I called my dad. Back then, we had dial-up Internet and I remember praying that my brother wasn't on the Internet so that I could get through to him. My brother answered the phone and I told him to hurry up and let me talk to dad. When my dad got on the phone I told him that we had been in a bad accident and that David and I were fine but I thought we had lost some of them. I know he didn't want to believe it because he asked me what I meant by that. "Dad some of them are dead." Six of the worst words I have ever had to say in my life. I assured him that I was fine but a little worried about David since his head was bleeding pretty badly. I found out where we were and he said he was on the way. 

I remember others in the group doing the important things like calling officials from the college. I sat down on the side of the road and tried to pray. I was so overwhelmed. No words would come. Ambulances came and carried my friends to the hospital. The least injured of us stayed behind. Eventually they made us get in an ambulance and go to the hospital as well. One of us stayed behind to let school officials know what had happened and where the students had been taking. I made sure that he would tell my dad where I was when he arrived.

My adrenaline began to decrease during the ambulance ride and I felt nauseous. Even though I wasn't injured they made me sit in a wheelchair once we got to the hospital. While everything was being done to try and save those seriously injured the rest of us were put out in the waiting area to wait to be seen and to give our account of what happened to the state troopers. I remember sitting in that wheelchair in the waiting room and my body violently shaking. A nurse had to help me to the restroom. As she wheeled me back into the waiting area, I saw my dad, our next door neighbor, and my brother. Only then did my tears come. I started shouting for my dad and wailing. 

I have many other recollections from that night. Memories of being cared for by a nurse, being left alone in a hallway on a hospital bed waiting for x-rays, being asked over and over what happened, being asked to identify a friend who didn't have any ID on him only to be whisked away at the last second. I am still thankful for that. I remember being anxious over what was happening with my cousin, being visited in the hospital room by school officials, but most of all, I remember the overwhelming peace that I had. I knew that I would never be the same but I also knew that God was good and He was in control. 

Knowing that didn't erase the pain and grief that I felt over the loss of those three men of God, Jeromy Leary, Joe Hall, and David Hoffman. It didn't erase the trauma that I had been through and the subsequent issues that I would have because of that night. It didn't erase the feelings of guilt that I had because I had been spared while others had died. But God used that moment and time in my life to shape me into the person I am. I learned more about God and His character through that one experience more so than any other. I learned of His love, His sovereignty, His grace. There are times when I begin to take life for granted and I forget how short this life really is and in those moments I am once again taken back to this day.

Those three men will not be forgotten. I think about and pray for their families always during this time of year. If God had not chosen to spare my life that night, then I wouldn't have the privilege of being a wife and mother. I am thankful to be alive today and I am thankful for the lives of my friends He also chose to spare that night. We were all changed. We all dealt with the trauma we had experienced differently but we all came  away from that experience with the same truth...God is good ALL the time.

I recently posted a link to the only article I could still find online about that tragic night on my Facebook page. In it, a quote by Dr. Kinchen, the president of BCF, stuck out to me and summed it up best, "some people live for 100 years and don't make much of a difference, but some live but briefly and change our lives."

You can view it here.

*Look for part two soon. I want to share with you my dad's story from that night. Feel free to leave comments and your thoughts and recollections.  Love you all!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sit and Spin (Not the Toy From Your Childhood)

I did it...

I went to spin class today!

First of all, let me say that my butt is SORE! Holy guacamole! I even had the gel padded seat cover on my bike and it was still brutal on my bum!  I'll probably be sitting funny for a few days. :)

Overall, it was a great workout. The instructor was great as well. I arrived at class early since I was a newbie. I knew nothing about the bikes or what to expect in a spin class other than a good workout. She helped me adjust the bike to fit my needs and gave me some pointers. She also advised me not to go as high impact as the rest of the group since it was my first time and I needed to get used to the workout and the bike. She still wanted me to push myself though.

Have any of you out there taken a spin class before? I've got a few questions. Is there a trick to turning the knob for resistance? I turned the knob when she said to turn it but most of the time it didn't really feel any different. Maybe I was doing it wrong. I'll be sure to ask the instructor before the next class. Also, how long before the seat gets more comfortable? To me, that was the hardest part. My booty was so sore that it was hard to concentrate on pedaling.

My legs were super shaky when I finally got off the bike. She had us get off and then put our right leg over the bike seat to begin stretching. I seriously thought I was going to fall down! Ha!

I will definitely be back for the next class. Trying something new definitely gets me excited about working out.

On another note: I am over the 5,000 page views mark. Whoop! Thank you all so much for your support and encouragement and taking the time to read what I have written.

I also get to take the splint off my finger today! I'm totally looking forward to doing that later. However, I'm still not supposed to grip anything too much with my right hand for another couple of weeks so I'm still going to have to hold off a bit longer for strength training. But the gym is going to be a part of my daily routine from now on. No more excuses.

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Thursday, September 22, 2011

My "Duh" Moment

September was supposed to be my month. In September, I was supposed to meet my first weight loss goal of 30 pounds down. Instead, September has been a month of setbacks.

I started off the month breaking my finger and having my arm in a sling for a week which resulted in no exercising and so-so eating. The next week my daughter ended up at Urgent Care and the ER due to a severe ear infection and a touch of bronchitis. And you guessed it...little exercise and just "OK" eating. During all of this you can toss in a tropical storm that dumped tons of rain in our area and I lost my job (after only two weeks). So for the better part of a month I've dealt with all of this and I noticed a common thread...lack of consistent exercise and too many poor eating choices.

While I did manage to get in some exercise and ate well a portion of the time, I was not consistent and dedicated like I have been. It's been a hard month. I have beat myself up for losing my momentum and my mojo. I've felt like I've let you all down by not having it all together. I've given advice that during this month, I didn't take myself. I gave myself excuse after excuse. I just couldn't figure out what was going on with me. But today I had a "Duh" moment. I give all the credit to my friend Clara. You all know how much of an inspiration she has been to me. I discovered her and her blog at just the right time in my life and I am thankful for that. I am so thankful that she shares her struggles and her triumphs because more often than not what she has gone through helps me in tremendous ways. Just like tonight.

I sat here staring at a blank blog post page. I had started and deleted an entry. I was tired of struggling and wanted to be back on the right track. I have so far to go in this journey and my health is still more important to me than a number on a scale but I needed to be reminded of that. I wasn't having any sort of epiphany about getting back on track while staring at the blank screen so I switched tabs on my computer and went over to Facebook and that's when I noticed Clara had posted a link to her new blog post. So of course I clicked the link to see what she had to say. And that's when I had my "Duh" moment. She made a comment about how when she was consistent with her exercise her eating was right on track but when she wasn't she often made poor food choices. You can read her post in more detail here

It all made more sense to me. I can look back and pinpoint that I started making more and more poor food choices when my activity level decreased. I allowed my circumstances to get in the way of my health instead of making my health a priority and doing whatever it took to ensure that my body was getting the exercise and nutrients it needed. I have felt more sluggish, tired, crabby, etc this month than I have felt in a while and I don't like it. 

So, what am I going to do about it? Well, I'm going to be more consistent in exercise and activity and I'm going to make it a priority. While I'm doing that, I'm going to watch my food choices get back to where it was before, if not even better because I am positive that the two are connected. 

And tomorrow, at 9:00 AM I am going to get my money's worth at the gym. I'm going to take a beginner's spin class. I've been wanting to do this for a long time but no excuses, I'm doing it tomorrow. Be on the lookout for a post all about it!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Friday, September 16, 2011

I'm No Ernest Hemingway but...

When I started my blog several years ago it was mainly a way to keep family and friends connected with our lives since we didn't live near most of them anymore. I was never very consistent in blogging until recently when the theme of my blog became more about my journey to lose weight and be healthier. The number of followers picked up and I'm nearing the 5,000 page views mark. I get excited over the little things so that sort of gets me pumped! :) But the truth is, I've always liked to write. I was never much into keeping a diary or a journal although that never kept me from starting one or two but putting words together on a page just came natural to me. Maybe it's because my mom cultivated a love for the written word in me from a young age or maybe it's just a talent, I'm not really sure, but what I do know, is that I love it. Most of my friends complained when we had to write essays in high school but I relished it. I actually loved doing research papers but that didn't stop me from procrastinating. I'm not sure what it is about coming up on a deadline but the night before a paper was due the words flowed like milk and honey for me. The worst paper I ever wrote in college, I wrote two weeks before it was due. Call me crazy but that adrenaline rush that came from trying to beat the clock helped me write some pretty good stuff. I had one college professor tell me I should send in some of the papers I wrote for his class to try and be published. I had another professor keep one of my papers to use as an example in future classes. But for me, writing has always been an outlet. I was never one to voice my opinion in class unless it was something I was extremely passionate. I really couldn't stand those people who always had an opinion about everything and they thought it was important enough to express in class. I wasn't paying all this money for a college education to hear some persons opinion. Let the professor do his job, please. Save it for your paper dude.

Blogging has offered me the outlet that I needed since I've been done with college for six years. There are days when I pull up my Blogger account knowing that I have no clue what I'm going to write about but that I just need to write. Sometimes the words come and sometimes they don't. I've been working on a different post off and on today. It's about something that I feel passionate about but it's also a subject that is making me think so I'm not ready to publish it until I'm confident in what I've written and that I've not only offered my opinion but backed up what I say I believe with the cold hard facts. However, I still needed that release today. I still needed to put some words down and clear my head. Today was one of those days where after I put aside the other post I was working on and pulled up a new one, I had no idea what I was going to write about. I just started typing and the words came to me. But apparently, I needed to tell you why I write.

I had a conversation with a girl in the church parking lot a couple of weeks ago. She asked me if I liked to write or if I had a degree in English or something. I'm assuming she's read my blog a time or two because she said I was good at it. I've had family members or close friends tell me that they enjoy my writing but never someone I didn't really know. Yes, I go to church with this girl and she seems totally cool (I love her style) but we've never hung out or had more than a few sentences conversation. She seems lovely though. We chatted a bit and I told her that I'd been writing a novel...for several years. I don't usually tell people I don't know well that sort of information and to be honest every time I hear myself say those words out loud it just seems weird coming out of my mouth but it's true. I've started and stopped several stories over the years but this one has really become more than just a page or two. At one point, I had typed over 70 pages worth but then I got stuck. Call it writers block, call it whatever you want but the fact is that in the last two years I had barely written two pages. I thought I'd be finished with it by now but I'm not. The world of fiction is a very different world. Just like there are days when I feel the overwhelming desire to write there are times when the story just comes to you and you have to get it out of your head.

That's how this novel really began. Like I said, I had started and stopped several different stories over the years. I had a desire to write a book and it was something I knew that I could do and be good at but nothing I wrote ever felt right until this idea for a story came to me. It was actually something that I heard on the news that gave me the idea so I went with it but 70 something pages later, I was stuck. Now, these 70 plus pages didn't come all at once but over the course of a couple of years. I would write for a while, leave it for a while, come back to it, etc. Over the last year, I have had this burning desire to get back to it, to finish it but my characters, my story line wasn't going anywhere. It needed something but I couldn't figure out what. I even printed it out, read it, made changes, outlined the whole book so I could start again, and still it just didn't feel right. But a day or so after I talked to the girl in the parking lot it came to me. I was actually out for a run when it happened. Since my conversation with her I had been thinking about the novel and wondering what to do with it but near the end of my jog, inspiration hit. I mulled over the new ideas, the new characters and subplot, and the next day I couldn't wait to put it down on paper. The more I have written, the more the story has come to life for me. I go to bed at night dreaming about the characters and where they are headed and what's going to happen next. There is still a long way to go with it but for the first time in a long time, I'm excited and ready to see it through to completion. I have no idea where to go or what to do when I'm done with it but I'll cross that bridge when I get there. For the time being, I'm going to enjoy the ride.

You may have read this whole post and wonder, OK, so what's the point? The point is that I felt the need to write something today and this is where that led me. I feel refreshed and excited when I write. This is why I write. What refreshes and excites you? If you are a writer, why do you write?

"My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way." - Ernest Hemingway

Monday, September 12, 2011

Taking Back Control

My life has been far from normal over the last month. I thought that after I got back from my stay with my parents I would be able to get back on a good routine.

It didn't happen.

On my third day back, I started a new babysitting job and broke my finger. All in the same day. For four days I wore a huge splint that made performing the simplest of tasks almost near impossible. I finally saw a hand specialist, got a couple of smaller splints, and tried to get on with things.

It didn't happen.

On the second night after I had seen the specialist, my daughter wakes up crying with an earache. After a sleepless night that consisted of her crying, moaning, running fever, and eventually vomiting, I called the pediatrician's office early the next morning. It was Labor Day and they were closed. We quickly got dressed and went to Urgent Care. After a long ordeal she was diagnosed with an ear infection and a touch of bronchitis. We loaded her up on medication and tried to get on with things.

It didn't happen.

On the third day after her visit to Urgent Care, she woke up from her nap running a high fever and complaining that her ear and head hurt. I gave her some pain medication and things went from bad to worse. She went from whining to hysterical, slapping at her head and screaming at the top of her lungs that her head  hurt. Panic set in. I had never experienced her acting like this so back to Urgent Care we went. Before she was even seen there they told us to take her to the ER. In the end, she wasn't responding to the antibiotic she was on and so her ear infection had gotten worse and the pressure behind her ear drum was causing the severe headache. Off to CVS we went to get yet another prescription and to hopefully get on with things.

So far so good.

In the midst of all of this, I have really struggled with keeping to my healthy living path. My exercise has been severely lacking and my food intake has been less than ideal. It's really been hit or miss. I allowed my circumstances to dictate how I ate or if I exercised. I've gone to bed late every night for over a month now. I still want the same things that I wanted at the beginning of this journey but instead of taking control of my life, I've let my circumstances take control of me.

Not anymore.

I haven't come this far or worked this hard to give up. Being healthy and fit is a lifelong journey. Even when I hit my goal weight, it won't be over. I'll still have to choose to eat right and exercise often.  Life has been a little bumpy lately. It's sort of like running hills. Where I live, there isn't many. So when I was training for a 5K, yes it was difficult because I wasn't a runner but it was a smooth path. I didn't have to dig in too much. But the course for that 5K was extremely hilly. It started off smooth just like my path at home but when that first hill came along, I had a choice to make. I could give up, walk, or I could dig in and fight for it. My only goal for that race was to finish without walking so I kept my head down, dug in, and kept going even when everything screamed at me to stop. And there wasn't just one hill, there were multiple hills, and each time I had to make the same choice over. My persistence paid off and eventually the finish line was in sight. So yes, life has been a little bumpy. Instead of digging in and fighting for it, I sort of slowed down to a walk. I haven't quit but I haven't given it my all and it's time to change that.

It's happening.

Today I got up and put together a healthy pot of chili for my family for lunch. After I put Abigail down for a nap, I popped in my Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD and did part of it. I'm not beating myself up for not being able to finish it. That is one hard DVD. But I have a plan to get up that hill. Each day I'm going to do a little more until I can complete the whole workout and then I'll work on doing that same workout every day for 30 days. Tonight, I have a plan to go for a walk with a friend and then I am going to bed as early as I can get there. And if in a few days from now something else comes along that wants to push me off course, I'm going to make the choice to not let it.

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Life Happens

Remember when life was simple? When your biggest concern was what outfit Barbie should wear for her date with one of the Ninja Turtles? Yes, you read that right. In my house Barbie did not date Ken. She dated Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo, or Donatello. It was the only way I could get my brother or other guy cousins to play. But, life was simple then. Mom and Dad made the important decisions, they worried about the bills, and my job was to be a kid and clean my room.

I couldn't wait to be a grown up. I thought I knew more than my parents and my life would be perfect if I could just make my own decisions. I was going to marry rich or not marry at all. But first, I was going to be Miss America. I was going to have a big house, a fancy car, and go shopping whenever I wanted. Those were my childhood dreams. 

In reality my life looks nothing like I imagined it would when I was twelve years old or so. I competed in pageants but never in anything that would get me to the Miss America level. Plus, you had to have a talent for those types of pageants and I just didn't have one. My dad liked to say that I sang like I was in prison...behind three bars and couldn't find the key! :) He was joking of course but trust me, no one is asking me to sing a solo. And I'm just fine with that. Meeting the right person changes your views on marriage. I NEVER thought that I'd have been married for eight years already and have a kid. I honestly figured that I'd still be single at 28. Marriage sort of decided for me about the big house, fancy car, and shopping trips. I got married while I was in college so you can imagine what kind of money we had then. 

Today, I live in a small apartment. I drive a 2005 KIA Sorento, and the only shopping trips I go on are to the grocery store. Yes, life was simpler when I was younger but life is sweeter now. I no longer think I know more than my parent's. I only hope to be as smart as them someday. My husband is my best friend and NOTHING is as rewarding as being a parent. It is the hardest thing I've ever done but I wouldn't change it for the world. 

Life happens. Dreams change. 

I'm not saying that I don't still hope to one day own my own home. I've decided that I despise cleaning so there  is no use in having a huge house unless I can afford to pay someone to clean it. I don't see that happening. What kind of car I drive is no longer a big deal to me. I'm more concerned now with gas mileage, leg room, and trunk space more than what make or model it is. And as long as I can put groceries on the table and clothe my child, shopping trips aren't that important either. I would love to splurge on some new clothes or books or a new laptop but really things are just that in the end...things.

I am thankful for a husband who works hard to provide for us. I am thankful to the Lord who provided the job for him. I love my life and if someone told me that I could trade it all in for the life I dreamed about when I was twelve, I'd tell them to take a hike. No amount of money, fame, or material possessions could make me walk away from my life and family. I won't lie. There are times when I wish we had a little more money and that things weren't so hard at times but who doesn't. 

A guy at church today sang the song, "His Eye is on the Sparrow." I've always loved that song but as I heard it sang this morning, I honestly didn't give it much thought. But later today as I found out that I no longer had a job, the song came back to me. I was caught by surprise but God wasn't. At first, I wanted to stress and worry. I don't make a lot per week but what I do make puts the food on our table and allows for a few extras or helps pay for unexpected things. I remembered the lyrics, "His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me." If God takes care of the tiny sparrow how much more so will He take care of His children?!

I've gone from the little girl who played Barbie and Ninja Turtles to a woman with a husband, child, and major responsibilities. I'll say it again, life was simpler then but it's sweeter now.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 09-11-01

I was just a few weeks into my first semester in college. My whole family had moved to Florida just a couple of months after my high school graduation and my dad and I started college at the same time. I remember walking home after my last morning class. It was Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I walked into the apartment that I lived in with my parent's and brother. My mom sat on the sofa staring at the TV. "You won't believe what just happened," she said. "A plane just flew into a building in New York." I remember asking her if she knew why. Terrorism never crossed my mind. I just imagined that something had gone wrong with the pilot or the plane. We sat there, together, watching live news coverage when we saw a plane fly into a tower. "Mom, I don't think that was a replay." "Sure, it was. It didn't happen twice." But it did. It was more than we could imagine. We sat there in stunned silence as mayhem and madness erupted on our TV screen. 

I'm sure the majority of you have a memory of that day similar to my own. I remember being a kid and hearing adults say things like, "I remember where I was and what I was doing when I heard JFK was assassinated." We won't forget 09-11-01. We will forever remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard or saw the terrible acts of terrorism on our country that day. So many people lost their lives. Children lost their fathers and mothers. Wives lost their husbands. Husbands lost their wives. Parents lost their children.  We learned the true definition of a hero, whether it be a group of people on a plane who took matters into their own hands or the men and women who risked their lives in the hope of saving others. 

I can't remember a time in my short life when people were more patriotic, more kind, more "spiritual." We said the Pledge a little louder and stood a little straighter whenever the "Star Spangled Banner" was played or sung. We had been sucker punched but we were never more proud to be Americans. Toby Keith summed up how we felt best (in my opinion) with his song "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American):

Thank you to the men and women of the military forces of the USA. Thank you for serving your country, ensuring our safety and freedom, and for the sacrifices that not only you make but the sacrifice your family makes. I am forever grateful! 

911-01...We Will Remember

Monday, September 5, 2011

My Scariest Moment as a Mother and My Greatest Relief

I remember laying in bed with my mom one Friday night when I was a kid. We had been watching something on TV and a commercial came on for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. The commercial was quite long for a young child who wanted nothing more than to get back to the TV show we were watching. I happened to look over at my mom during the course of the commercial and I noticed she was crying. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what was so darn sad. I mean, those weren't her children so what did she have to cry about?

It wasn't until I had a child of my own that I could understand her tears. The tears were happy tears and sad tears all at the same time because she was so thankful that it wasn't her child and her family going through something so awful and because her heart broke for the child and families who were experiencing that pain. Every time I hear of a child with cancer or some other horrible disease, my stomach hurts and I want to hold Abigail just a little bit closer. We think it won't happen to us but I'm sure the parent's of sick children thought the same thing at some point too. I just couldn't and don't want to imagine what life would be like if something like that happened to Abigail. But today, I had to...

It was the absolute scariest and worst moment of my life thus far. Abigail has had a nasty sounding cough for a couple of weeks now. I know you're wondering why I hadn't taken her to the doctor sooner but it was just a cough and she had no other symptoms. I figured it would run it's course and it would be over with. I had already planned on calling the pediatrician's office this morning to make her an appointment (forgot that it was a holiday and they probably wouldn't be open) but in the middle of the night she woke up crying with an earache. I felt for her. I had terrible earaches when I was growing up and have had several since I've been grown. They are the worst and there isn't much you can do for them. Anyway, she was up most of the night, as were we, in pain, running fever, and eventually throwing up. So, first thing this morning I called the pediatricians office and was notified by the answering machine that they were closed for the holiday. I quickly got myself dressed and ready and did the same for Abigail. We made it the Doctors Urgent Care of Slidell just after they opened.

We were taken back pretty quickly. They initially did a swab of her nose and throat, checking for both strep and the flu. Not long after that the doctor came in. After discussing what had been going on with her and my concern that the lymph nodes in her neck have been swollen for some time now, I noticed a slight change in the doctor's demeanor. This was not Abigail's first time at DUC and she had also seen this particular doctor on a previous visit so I knew him to be a easy going, goofy, but professional doctor. He was saying things that I didn't really understand, that was until he told me he wanted to draw blood and have it tested. He wouldn't even say the word cancer but we both knew what he was talking about. He also ordered two chest x-rays.

Fear gripped me causing my belly to ache and my hands to shake. I was still sort of in a daze when the two nurses came in to draw my baby's blood. I kept thinking, "what are they doing? She's way too young for this." I didn't have my own blood drawn, that I can remember, until I was 13 and getting ready to have my tonsils out. She is only three for crying out loud. One nurse drew the blood, while the other held her arm still, and I stood beside her rubbing her head for reassurance. Let me just say that my child is AMAZING! She didn't flinch, she didn't cry. She laid there as calm as can be. Even the nurses were shocked and amazed. They let her get two toys out of the toy chest in addition to the stickers she already had. But as they stood there, taking my baby's blood from her body, I had to turn my head away. One because I can't stand the sight of blood and two because tears were falling and my lips were quivering. The one thing that I NEVER wanted to think about, I was being forced to think about.

I quickly dried my eyes and put on a brave face for my brave little girl. We went down the hall for the x-rays. Same thing. She did awesome. Going back to her room and sitting there waiting on the results was terrifying to say the least. As the doctor entered the room I tried to search his face for a clue. Were our lives about to change? Would I have to face one of the biggest fears we have as parent's?

The answer was NO. My relief was great. It never tasted sweeter or felt so good. The doctor went over the results with me, showing me numbers, explaining their meaning, and reassuring me that my daughter was OK in the greatest sense. Of course there was still something going on with her little body which was diagnosed as an ear infection and a touch of bronchitis. Nothing a trip to the pharmacy, some rest, and TLC couldn't fix.

And this is how my scariest moment as a mother and my greatest relief was experienced and felt in the same day.

Trip to Urgent Care = $35
Prescriptions and OTC Medication =$30
My daughter not having cancer or some other horrible disease = PRICELESS

Thank you Lord!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rain, Rain Go Away...Seriously!

I LOVE a good rainy day. Rainy days are perfect for slipping into your most comfortable clothes, watching your favorite movie or TV show, reading a book, sipping some coffee or hot tea, or playing card or board games with your family. Rainy days can give you the perfect opportunity to relax. Even with an almost four year old, this still proves true for me on a rainy day. It's like she feels it too. She'll play quietly in her room or snuggle on the couch to watch a movie. I absolutely, positively, LOVE a good rainy day.

I however, DO NOT love rainy days that do not end. Two rainy days in a row is about the max that I can enjoy. More than two and I start to go crazy. My daughter might enjoy the occasional rainy day with me but she definitely does not like the second day in a row and we are currently headed towards our fifth rainy day. Can you say "cabin fever?"

At about the third day I begin to get antsy. I have all this nervous, pent up energy that just wants to get out and that's kind of hard to do in an apartment. So, if I feel this way on the third day, imagine how my child is acting at this point. It's like she's lost all sense of proper behavior. She's tired of being cooped up and I'm tired of hearing myself get on to her over and over and over again.

On the fourth day, the weather begins to affect my mood. I am so very thankful that I do not live somewhere where the sun rarely shines or it rains most of the time. My mood is very much affected by the weather and Tropical Storm Lee is reeking havoc on my emotions. I started out this morning in a pretty decent mood despite the weather. We decided to not go to church this morning since we weren't really sure what to expect road wise and plus when I woke up this morning it was raining pretty hard. I made Abigail and I breakfast. I am NOT a morning person so I rarely actually cook breakfast unless you count brinner (breakfast for me some Scrubs). We are a cereal, toast, granola bar type family when it comes to breakfast. But this morning I scrambled some eggs and made some toast for Abigail and toasted an English muffin for myself. Even at lunch I was still feeling pretty good. But, somewhere between nap time and bed time, I got the "ho-hums." And I can't stand them! I'm pretty sure that if I could just scream at the top of my lungs for a minute, I'd feel better but I don't want the neighbors banging on my door or calling the police. I also don't want to wake up my daughter! :)

So, tomorrow starts day five of the rainy days. I am praying that it's not so bad because I HAVE TO GET OUT OF THIS HOUSE! I plan on going to the gym tomorrow to work out some of this aggression too! :) That's part of my problem...I haven't exercised in over a week because of the crazy week I had last week and my body knows it needs it.

Tropical Storm will not be missed!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cleanse-Day 5

In the spirit of full disclosure...I did not do day five of the cleanse. I have lost a total of 4 pounds this week so far.

As many of you know the area in which I live in Louisiana is dealing with a tropical storm. Being the crazy person that I am, I did not even know this until yesterday. I heard via Facebook yesterday morning that there was a tropical depression but it wasn't until late last night that I was informed that the depression had been upgraded to a storm with a name and everything. I probably should have watched the news at some point during the week. I normally do but I somehow managed to go the whole week without seeing a snippet of the news or weather. I also did not go to the grocery store yesterday thinking that the weather was going to be no big deal and that I could go Saturday morning. Oops!

Thankfully the weather so far hasn't been too bad. A little wind, a lot of rain, and some tornado warnings is what we've had to deal with today. The cleanse was the LAST thing on my mind this morning. I am extremely terrified of bad weather. It's my biggest fear. So, this morning I begged my very tired husband to get out of bed and go with me to Walmart. As we neared Walmart, I realized that I was starving so we swung through McDonald's and I had an Egg McMuffin for breakfast. Going to Walmart in Louisiana is an "adventure" on an normal day. Toss in a tropical storm and things get crazier. We didn't have too much trouble getting the things we needed but the lines were ridiculously long and the people in front of us had four, yes four, buggies full of food! Not sure what they think is going to be happening over the next day or so but at least they'll be prepared! :)

After finally making it back home and getting the groceries up, it was time for lunch. Again, not thinking about the cleanse so we had turkey sandwiches. I had anticipated having a lazy day but I realized that with the possibility of the power going out before this is all said and done that I probably should get some things done. So I spent a better part of the afternoon cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. I made some homemade salsa and guacamole and we had turkey tacos for supper. Not cleanse approved either.

Even without completing day five of the cleanse, I feel great. I'm hoping to see at least another pound down before I weigh in on Monday.

Really hoping that the weather isn't too bad through the night and tomorrow. I am also happy that Ryan had off all day today. He helps keep me calm and sane!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Friday, September 2, 2011

Cleanse-Day 4

Can I just say that I am so glad this cleanse is almost over? Because I am. My philosophy from the beginning of this lifestyle change has been to not make certain foods off limits. As soon as you say you can't eat cheeseburgers anymore the more you want one, until a cheeseburger is all you can think about and the golden arches mock you every time you drive by. At least that's how it is for me.

So...when you declare all things off limits for five days except what is on your cleanse menu, the thought of what foods you can't eat consumes you. Which is even a bigger struggle for food addicts. Right now, all I can think about is sushi. I want a spicy tuna roll so bad! Hopefully we can find a decent sushi place around here once I'm done with this cleanse.

Other than that, things have been going well. And even though it's been difficult, the cleanse was just what I needed to give my weight loss a little jump start after being gone for three weeks. I am down three pounds as of this morning! :)

In case you were wondering, I got a pretty good report from the hand specialist today. No pins, no surgery. I did get a much better splint...hallelujah! That other thing was just to big for a clumsy person like me. I totally felt like Buster from Arrested Development with his hook! Ha ha! I have to wear a splint for three weeks. Then if I don't have full use of my finger after six weeks I have to go back and most likely begin physical therapy.

And football starts tomorrow! Whoop! Technically it began on Thursday but the DAWGS play on Saturday evening. So excited! Hoping for a good year. Either way...GO DAWGS!

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cleanse-Day 3

Things are going nicely. I was down another pound this morning. Really hoping I reach the five pound mark with this cleanse because that puts me only five away from my first weight loss goal! :)))))

On the other hand (not the injured one), this was probably not the best week to do a cleanse because this injury has me stressed to the max. Everything is so much more difficult. I have no patience for things when I know that I should be able to do something but can't. I have been very frustrated. I've always been an emotional eater so this week has definitely been a challenge. But...I'm doing it because I'm committed to it and I'm committed to changing my lifestyle and my health.

I'm seeing the specialist about my finger tomorrow. I have no stomach for pain or anything remotely gross. I worked for a podiatrist for two summers in my teens. He once asked me if I wanted to watch a hammer toe surgery so I said yes. Boy was I wrong! I almost passed out...TWICE! I left the first time because I felt dizzy and nauseous. I thought it might be from the surgical mask so I left the room, cooled off because I break out in a sweat when I'm nauseated, and came back. It happened again. And I was almost physically ill when I had to watch Ryan pull out his pain pump a few days after his hernia operation. I have no idea what to expect but if she pulls out a drill and wants to drill into my finger while I'm conscious, I can't be held liable for how I might react!

Only two more days to go...

Peace, Love, and Healthy Living,