Tuesday, August 19, 2014

a greater plan

Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.    Acts 14:19-20
Can you imagine what it took for Paul to get up and go back into that city?  The very city where the people who had stoned him within inches of his life, lived?
Courage is defined online at merriam-webster.com as "the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous."
When Googled, courage is said to be "strength in the face of pain or grief."
Life often presents hardships, failures, vulnerabilities...
You put yourself out there and wham!  Out of the blue something hits you that you never saw coming.
Perhaps you saw it coming and you could not or did not swerve out of its way.
Or, just maybe, you opened yourself up to a new idea or tried something new and it feels now that people are just watching and waiting for you to trip up or fall flat.
There are going to be those around us that hurt us.
Questions we have go unanswered.
Mysteries of all the "whys" in life are going to remain unsolved this side of heaven.
It takes courage to pull ourselves up by our boot straps an go back to walking again.
But, we will and we do.
There is a greater plan than we can see or understand.
God knows it.
If we know Him, we can trust His plan.
I am reminded of another verse, Acts 4:13...
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Our courage to get back up and to keep on going is rooted in and established by our relationship with the One who gave us this life to live in the first place.
Jesus gives even the most ordinary an extraordinary life to live.
Whether we have it all together or not doesn't matter so much because He's got this...He has me...right where He wants.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

the unspeakable struggle


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Sitting on the couch watching the news and browsing fb at the same time, my eyes did not want to believe what the headlines were saying.  I really thought it was a cruel hoax going around on fb because the tv news had not reported it yet.
Then, it hit the screen as breaking news.
Robin Williams was found dead; apparent suicide.
That night, I sat numbed by the reality of it all; saddened by the disease that dictated this was his only way out. Mr. William's death has affected me deeply, unexpectedly.  I have been asking myself what has made his death different than, say, that of Andy Griffith, another of my all time favorite actors.
The answer most assuredly lies within this tragedy's cause itself...depression...or as I refer to it, the unspeakable struggle.  Not many want to talk about it and even fewer want to hear about it or believe it to be worthy topic for conversation.
If you have never suffered from depression, whether situational or clinical, stop right now and give thanks to God.
While I do not know the intricacies of clinical depression, I do know how situational depression and anxiety feels.
I did not talk about it much...most people would not even know if I were not typing this now. Mine was related to my cancer diagnosis and treatment journey that began last October.
As the weeks and months went by, my symptoms worsened.  Each week as I met with my radiology oncologist, she would ask the hard questions and I would say that I was fine.  I could handle it.
Until I could no longer.  Depression and anxiety handled me; they had all along.
I was in denial.  It's more than just a river in Egypt, you know.
Conversations in my head took place every day about how I believed in God and knew He was in control of everything, so these feelings surely needed to just be ignored.  I did not dwell on the negative, but the negative hung over me like a heaviness I have never known. I told myself and others that I have so much to be thankful for that I cannot let the negative dictate my outlook.  I told myself that I did not cry every day nor for long if I did, so it cannot be that bad.
But then...
Panic attacks.  Feeling overwhelmed in large groups.  Flat affect.  Sleeping twice as much as I normally do.
I was a psych major.  I know the danger signs.  I knew all along that I was in denial.  I knew I was suffering from depression and anxiety.  I knew what and how I was feeling was not me, but I was helpless at changing anything.
I broached the subject with a friend of mine who has also had cancer and a similar unspeakable struggle.  She wisely advised me to openly discuss this with my doctor.  To give myself grace through this time and allow myself to be helped were also good pieces of advice.  She told me the conversations I was having with myself about being strong and relying on God were good, but sometimes the strong thing to do is ask for additional help and to rely on God to send the right help.
To be okay with not being okay was tough.
Thankfully, my radiology team members were very understanding and supportive.
Thankfully, I actually went and filled my prescription that same day.
Thankfully, everyone around me in Kroger was too self consumed to notice that I was having a major panic attack standing there waiting on my medication to help stop my panic attacks.
Yes, that did happen.
Thankfully, I began to experience less anxiety and depression after a few days of taking my medication.
And, thankfully, once radiation ended, I was able to taper off my medication under my doctor's care and be free once again.
Many of us will never know the depths of depression as some do.  We may not live with it everyday like others.  This does not mean it does not exist.  It does not mean that we will never experience it to some degree.
Talk to someone if you are suffering silently.
I needed help and finally asked for it.
Once I spoke of my troubles with those who could do something to help me, I realized God was in control and at work in the entire situation all along.  He was working on me...stretching me, growing my faith, and providing for my needs unlike anyone else could have.
He is that good.
Then Asa called to the Lord his God and said, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on You, and in Your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, You are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”   2 Chronicles 14:11

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

#TransformationTuesday

"But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer."  Psalm 66:19

As one who has struggled with weight all of my life, seeing the ups and downs in jean sizes became my reality.  I would lose some pounds only to face a stressor in life and see them return and bring friends along for the ride.  I spent years believing lies, yet secretly hoping for a better reality.  Lies that I am not capable of overcoming my sweet tooth and that I am just not the workout type, topped the list.  I have never really lacked self esteem or self confidence; I know who I am.  However, I know from personal experience, others define me by what they first see.  Having been a plus-size lady for years, I was treated differently, intentionally or not, when I dropped pounds.
My health journey to where I am today began back in 2010.
It is amazing that things do not happen accidentally, even if they seem to in the beginning.
Actually, as the pieces of my story have come together, this story begins way back in high school and college and can be read in this post.
In early 2010, I slipped on a patch of ice and hurt my back.  Firecrackers shooting up and down my back, kind of hurt.  I could not stand up straight, get up and down from sitting/lying without pain, or simply breathe/laugh with ease.  Everything I did or thought was first filtered through pain.
After 3 months, I decided that I could go to the doctor/physical therapist and pay them $ to tell me that I needed to lose weight and exercise more or I could just go start doing that on my own.  I joined the local Y in early May of that year.  Off and on, I would go and walk the track and use the elliptical.  After my back began to feel better on a more consistent basis, I met a wellness coach and she set me up on some weight machines.  I fell in love with lifting weights.  When I went to the Y, I also found myself drinking more water.  I enjoyed going to the Y, but the problem was the inconsistency of my going.
In January of 2011, I began a morning routine and that continued until summer.  Summer changed everything and it was hard to begin again come August.
So, I was a member of the Y and exercising more than before, but not seeing many results.  I did feel better, though.  My back was less troublesome.  This cycle kept repeating itself.  Off and on...on and off.
In April of 2013, having put on a lot of pounds again and feeling so totally controlled by sugar/carbs, I whispered a prayer for help.  Now, I am a Christian and prayer is not a new thing for me, but this prayer was a desperate plea for help.  I was under the influence of something I could not overcome on my own and I was wearing myself out trying.
The next 3 months were filled with one event after another that slowly, but surely, were an answer to that desperate plea for help.  I was learning how to eat less sugar/carbs, losing weight, and feeling better about my appearance.  It was not until August, however, that my thought processes changed and met up with what reality really was.  I saw a friend from high school post a challenge to do 100 push-ups and squats a day for 30 days.  That first day of those push ups/squats were actually easier than I thought they would be.  I had been gaining strength with my trips to the Y, but had never really put myself to the test to prove it until the challenge.
I found myself changing the way I thought about working out.
I challenged myself to do more and do it more consistently.  That 30 challenge turned into an everyday challenge.  I was making time to go work out at the Y, not trying to find some time.  I put more weight on my machines and logged more miles.  It began to pay off to the point where others were noticing the changes and commenting.  Inspiration was born from people I know personally as I saw what they were doing in spite of life's circumstances.
Amazing things.
Against the odds.
This would serve to be very important.
In October, when things were going well and I was seeing muscles in places I have never had them before, a little curveball called cancer entered the picture.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Found by a routine mammogram; stage 0 DCIS.  Treatment: surgery and radiation.
I remember meeting my surgeon for the first time. Through all her information, prognosis, and treatment suggestions, I held it together. I had not once shed a tear about my cancer diagnosis until the moment I opened my mouth to ask her if I could continue to keep on working out. It had become so meaningful to me and I had come so far.
I did not want to give cancer the opportunity to steal this from my life.
I did not want to give myself an excuse to let it.
Encouraged to keep on doing what I was doing and taking one day at a time, I left feeling confident.  Through surgery in November, recovery in December, and radiation in January-March, I fell hard into my workouts.  They were there before cancer.  I felt most like myself when at the Y.  I only missed a few days after surgery and the final week of radiation due to pain/exhaustion.  My friend from high school, a Beachbody coach, gave me great encouragement and helpful tips through my recovery.  It was so hard not doing anything, but my body needed to rest and recover.  So did my mind, but that's a story for another day.
Through the months of battling and holding on, I knew the next step was going to be big and one of faith.  The final avenue to cross in order for my prayer to be answered in full was at my feet.  I borrowed P90X from a friend and ordered a sample pack of Shakeology from my friend, now my coach, who posted the challenge back in August.  I began P90X and drinking Shakeology in April.  I have not looked back since.  In fact, I have ordered my own copy of P90X and 21 Day Fix and look forward to my next bag of Shakeology to arrive each month.
Since April of this year, I have lost over 10 inches and almost 10 pounds.  Since my prayer in April 2013, I have lost 40 pounds.  My God supplied every person and every thing I needed along my fitness journey.  Some characters were indeed characters, but played a pivotal role, nonetheless.
I can do more than I believed possible.
I can work hard, feel good, and see results.
You can too!
Knowledge is power.  Encouragement is key.  Beginning is the first step.  Take it!
I did and will never regret it.  Find something that works for you and get moving.

April 2013 Me and July 2014 Me...Praise God for answered prayer!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Noah's Ark

Last week, we drove the hour over to Locust Grove to visit the animals at Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary.  We were hoping the cooler temperatures would lend to us seeing more of the larger animals, but alas, most stayed in or near their shelters in the shade.  It has to be tough being a bear living in mid-Georgia in the summer.  The animals we did see were worth the trip.
Olive, the emu
head and shoulders above the rest
Chelsea
Peanut Butter or Jelly
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pacing
Zuri
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friends

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Saturday in a Nutshell...

This is the first year since I began blogging in 2009 that I have totally missed posting during an entire month. What happened?  June happened.  And it was awesome...God directed...and totally on the go.  Someday I hope to catch up on posts with June's grand adventures, but today is about yesterday.
It can be summed up pretty well with a few words and a few more pics.
Early morning Walmart run to prepare for a new week...newness with the workout/healthy eating routine begins Monday.
Office runs...Atlanta and Byron. Business is going strong. God is good.
Me time: long overdue pedi for this gal while Scott was busy at the office.
Drive to and from Byron = traffic jams
Evening spent at Piedmont Park at the Atlanta Street Food Festival.
Once home, sat down to shell out freshly picked pecans from yesterday, which happens to be National Pecan Pie Day.
Which is why the final deed of my Saturday was baking a pecan pie with those newly shelled pecans.


driving into the city Atlanta Street Food Festival Best fried pickles EVER by Freckled & Blue my favorite decorated food truck The Fry Guy - voted best food truck 2014 williams bros bbq City view from Piedmont Park free food Happy Nat'l Pecan Pie Day!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Happy Birthday!

May 31st
Happy Birthday!
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Best blueberry pancakes in Atlanta @ Manuel's Tavern.
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Enjoying a surprise at Alex's baseball game.
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Birthday Pizza Pie
blue eyed gift

it's almost here

May 29th & 30th

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The daisies are showing off for my birthday.
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Cutest little towel monster ever!
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Never fails to rain when I am out shopping.
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What can I say...they had a sale.