Getting a Check Up

How long has it been since you have had a doctor visit?  I am not going to tell you how long it’s been for me, because it’s kinda shameful, but I can tell you that it was too long between visits.  Having younger kids – who require frequent visits for regular issues, let alone health issues – has kept me busy with medications and assessments and doctor visits.  I have definitely been putting my health last on the list of things for me to take care of and it is starting to catch up with me.

I have had chronic, ongoing, years-in-the-making problems with insomnia.  Both falling asleep and staying asleep.  I just chalked it up to being a mom with young kids.  But the truth is, I could wake up all on my own and be up from 3:30 a.m. – unable to fall back to sleep – until 11 p.m. that evening, and do it again for 3 or 4 more nights.  In fact, it was remarkable when I got a 6-7 hour night of uninterrupted sleep, and those have been few and far between over the years.

Anxiety and depression became “normal” for me to experience – and not just a tag-team version – but sometimes it was a double-team.  I have been able to find ways to alleviate some of the chronic stress that came with it, but truthfully, in the past 2 years, I have begun to experience bodywide aches and pains that were unresolved for days at a time.

Again – I chalked it up to aging and just kept trying to chug along.  I didn’t have time to be sick and kept telling myself we couldn’t afford another person in our family on medications every month.

You know – the typical “Mom” excuses one might put up because life is stressful.

But the pain increased and manifested itelf in ways that began to affect how I live every day.  What I can and cannot manage.  With the chronic pain came more problems with sleep, fatigue, brain fog and more.

But there are 3 kids and a husband who need me.  And I got to where I was not even functioning in survival mode.

So, I finally made – and kept – an appointment with a local nurse practitioner because of some of my symptoms.   She commended my ability to turn to writing / journaling / music meditation as avenues to deal with stress.  I appreciated that. =)  My weight – although still too heavy – was actually less than I anticipated, so I left the appointment feeling somewhat positive.  She ordered a blood panel work up including thyroid, cholesterol, metabolic panel, and a check on my Vitamin D levels.

And wouldn’t you know it?  Everything came back NORMAL – except my Vitamin D levels are pretty low.  She prescribed high potency Vitamin D, and I have been taking a daily multivitamin, a calcium-vitamin supplement, and finding ways to be out in the sunshine more to boost my D levels.

She also prescribed an anti-anxiety, anti-depression medication.  I was not surprised, and rather relieved.  I have tried multiple alternative options which have helped, but I think the boost – this temporary boost – will help my body get back on track and it has ALREADY impacted my sleep in positive ways.  I have made minor adjustments in the medicine because my first 2 doses – on a weekend – left me like a zombie.  I think I slept more than I was awake for 2 good days – and I think my body needed it desperately!

I have no intention of being on the medication forever -and my doctor even stated she wanted to see if it was beneficial and how things would be in only a few months.  So I am quite pleased with that!

I’ll go back and have another blood level check in a few weeks and already feel a bit more energetic in general.  A good night’s rest is an unbelievable luxury and I am enjoying my sleep so much for the past several days!

I wrote all this so I could say to you – if you haven’t had a doctor’s appointment for a check-up in awhile – I highly recommend you wait no longer.   Taking good care of your own health is like putting on your own oxygen mask first – we need to do it so we can be equipped for the things God has blessed us with, and the changes life throws at us!

 

The Summer Slide

[crickets]

Blogging three weeks ago about my new grandson was a real highlight so far this summer.  He is gorgeous and healthy and growing so fast!  Thankfully his tired parents are able to text and share updates with me in real time.  He & his family live a long day’s drive away from us and some days it is REALLY hard to be so far apart.  More days than I like to dwell on, really, but I am SO thankful for email, texting and Facetime so we can be in touch with family now the way we never dreamed of being in touch when I was still young.

I grew up far away from family.  With my dad being in the Air Force, we always lived quite a distance from any relatives – except for the rare blessing of having an uncle & his family who lived about 5-6 hours away from us in Alaska.  My mom had a cousin in Alaska, as well – but for the most part, I grew up far from grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins.

Being on the flip side of things now – wanting to see a son & his family – well, I’m not liking it so much…  But it is what it is, and we are making plans for me to go for a quick visit at the end of August.   I can’t even tell you how far away it feels…

In the meantime, we’ve hit the long hot days of the summer slide.  Y’all – since I was living as a preteen near Austin, Texas, I have NOT been able to tolerate a hot, humid summer.  Living anywhere without air conditioning has always been unfathomable.

I have to share this because it’s humorous in light of where I’m living now.  I have a cousin & her family who still live in Alaska. Her mom just posted a picture of her thermometer which registered 80 degrees in Anchorage -and she was NOT enjoying the sweltering heat!  It is unusual weather, so I chuckled as I read her post.  It’s been in the 80’s here with 80-90% humidity some days.  Blecccchhhh!

Didn’t grow up with sweltering heat – except in Texas – and I have never adjusted well to it.  Not when I lived in Southwest Missouri.  Not living in Ohio.  Humidity messes with my mind in ways I never imagined, and when it is hot and humid – I want. to. die.

I hate when it happens.  We retreat to our upstairs bedroom with our window a/c, and resort to playing tablets, watching Netflix, and sometimes even taking naps.  When there is shade and it doesn’t feel like walking through jello outside, we can sit out back and enjoy a breeze that might come along.  The heat & humidity drain me, and this wet summer has been a doozy!

My son & his family live in Louisiana.  I’ll be there at the end of August.  If it wasn’t for a grandbaby, I would not likely be visiting at the end of August!!!   If only I could melt off a few pounds in the process of sweating during my visit.  They have a/c, but I’m gonna melt like Olaf on a summer day…

One thing I have been doing while avoiding our swelter, is catching up on some reading.  I plan to share more about that soon, and some changes our family will be making with our eating.  Improving my health has been on my radar this year – doctor visit next week, planning to make some eating changes, and increasing activity.  It’s a slow road, but I’m gonna take every step in the right direction as a victory!

I not only have a husband, three kids to raise, and a son & daughter-in-law – I now have a grandson that I need to share lots of stories with, so I have lots of reasons to jump off the Summer Slide and try to take the stairs!

A Day in Your Courts

My verse for this blog is Psalm 84:11.  It reads: For the Lord God is a sun and shield.  The Lord gives grace and glory;  he does not withhold the good from those who live with integrity. (HCSB)

The Lord does give grace and glory.  Last night my son Mikhael became a father.  To a beautifully healthy baby boy with red hair and his mom’s nose.

I was in awe most of the day because I was kept in the loop by texts from Mikhael and Kendra and by messaging from his mom in a FB message group.  It was a lot of fun and I kept passing the info on to my kids and husband when I could.

As the time drew closer, and the decision to go with a c-section was made, Mikhael and I shared some 80’s lyrics to keep things light.  A little bit of “Final Countdown” and “Living on a Prayer” kept him smiling even though his nerves were acting up.  Hey – Bon Jovi was one of the only hair bands I even liked during the 80’s so it seemed appropriate to share at this time.

And, well, that’s how we roll.

I got a message “He is here” and then the pics & stats started rolling in. What a handsome little guy!  [Not sharing pics here to protect their privacy, but I can tell you that he is a fine looking little guy and I can certainly stare at pics of him all day long.]

As I was texting my mom all the news & info when he was born, we started talking about his name.  I won’t share his name here, but I will share that when I looked it up – it means “Doorkeeper”.

Last week, I started looking up Bible verses relating to doorkeepers and this is what popped up:

Psalm 84:10 – For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than in the tents of wickedness. (ESV)

Do you see it?  Do you see the thread of connection rolling around right there?  I didn’t see it at first and when my mom told me I about fell out of my chair!  It’s the verse right before my blog verse.

Coincidental to some, but extremely and profoundly meaningful to my heart.  When God decides to weave something together, let me tell you, He does NOT do it haphazardly or without purpose.  He knows exactly what He is doing when he is weaving all the themes, all the trials, all the incredibly breathtaking moments, all the people together into the tapestry of life.

On the day Mikhael was born, a Sunday, Cyndi bought a newspaper so they could have a memento from the town where he was born on his birthday.  One of the front cover stories featured an illustration of Moses in his woven basket.

Moses.  Who was also adopted.  Whose adoptive mother included his birth mother in the first few years of his life.

I mean, really!  I can still see the illustration when I close my eyes and remember that day.

I don’t know all of you in person.  I don’t know where all of you live or who you come into contact with.  But I want you to know that there is a God.  And not only does He love a young woman who made some bad choices and then had to make some hard choices – but blessed her so abundantly she is actually left speechless…

which is rare in case you didn’t know…

There is a God who listens to a young girl’s silent prayer about the kind of people she wanted to raise her baby – and then met EVERY. SINGLE. REQUEST.  Even down to a mom with long hair (as if that makes a difference in what kind of parent she would be?)

He didn’t have to answer my prayers.  He still doesn’t.  I’m just one measly human being on this spinning planet, no more important than anyone else.

But He is good.  God is good.  Life is hard – so very hard sometimes.  But GOD.

God is so good – despite life, despite defiance from the ones he pursues, despite cancer, despite hell.  And that’s what you should know.

God loves YOU.  He breathed life into me, into my son, and into his son.  And at any moment He can take the breath from any one or all three of us.  But He is STILL good!

So while I celebrate the birth of my very first grandbaby, I will continue to celebrate the amazing goodness of my God.  And I hope you do too!

Adoption, Birth and a Grandson!

No, I am NOT pregnant.  But at the time of this post, my son Mikhael and his wife Kendra are!  They still are, I should say, but won’t be for much longer as she is in labor at the hospital.

This is so exciting on so many levels.  One because, yes, I get to become a grandmother.  I have the gray hair (which is recolored of course) and some wrinkles, BUT I am a little bit leery of the “grandmother” term.

In case you don’t know, Mikhael just turned 29.  I was 18 when I had him, just 2 days after graduating high school, and he was adopted by the most wonderful woman and her husband.  Because she was so wonderful, I was privileged to be included in his life – even from a long distance – and now that he is an adult, he is including me in his life too.

I say that and inside I’m shaking my head in wonder. When I signed the adoption papers, I knew that I might never ever see my son again. I knew that it meant they could say that they wanted me to be part of his life, but could easily change their mind at some point and I might never see any of them again. I knew that my signature on the adoption paperwork ended my rights to the child I had carried in my body and labored to bring into the world.

But God.

Who is like God?  (that’s what the name “Mikhael” means!)  God is gracious and blessed ME with adoptive parents who loved me as much as they loved my child.  I have a very special relationship with Mikhael’s mom.  And I am as excited for her as I am for me to become a grandmother.

I was told by not-so-well meaning people that God would never use me and I had ruined my life when they found out I was pregnant as a Senior in high school.  I was told that no loving mother would ever give her child away to strangers.  I was told it would be better for me to forget having him and to never tell anyone about him and that no man would want to marry me and raise another man’s child.

There’s a lot of shame built into those words.  Directed to a young woman whose heart was already breaking for her son.

And while I learned to let go of a lot of that shame through counseling and the immeasurable grace of God, traces of shame lingered.  It has affected me deeply – not the pregnancy during high school, not the labor & delivery, not choosing adoption for my son.  But the words that shot deep into my heart and broke some of my spirit.

Last summer when Mikhael & Kendra came to visit – it was the first time in 28 years I felt WHOLE again.  Entirely whole.   Seeing him with Greg and our 3 kids – it blessed my SOUL to the deepest depths and the grace of God flooded through me.

And then a few months after their visit they called to share with us – as part of their family – that they were expecting!

I got the text this morning that the doctor broke Kendra’s water – and Mikhael & I and Kendra & I began furiously texting.  Bless their hearts.

Their life is changing – they are becoming a family in the next few days and it is exciting to be able to share in their excitement and joy!

At the same time, it is a remarkable dream for me, too.  And I am so thankful and excited that I will be a “Gigi”!

Talk about Grace and Glory!!!!!

Rolling in the Deep

I am a big fan of Adele’s music.  She’s got a hip vibe that I really like and sings with a lot of sass.  My dad has most – if not all – of her CDs, which is saying a lot where he’s concerned.  My kids even enjoy it – it’s like you KNOW she means what she sings.  At least that’s how she comes across, especially when she sings “Rolling in the Deep”.  Lady can WAIL!

The past couple of weeks – school ending, work schedules changing, temperatures rising rapidly – oh my goodness, things have been rough.  Choppy.  Uncomfortable.  Exhausting.  Combine that with not sleeping well, unsettled kids, and a rumbling preteen – and it has NOT. BEEN. FUN.

I always have high hopes for summer.  I really do.  I make plans – which are quickly derailed – and it gets discouraging.  But I haven’t given up!  I have dug in my heels and focused on my goals and decided that I was going to just take one step at a time, adjusting my pace as needed.  I didn’t have all my supplies to have my kids’ summer binders ready for our first full week of summer, but they still got started on their workbooks, albeit things have been mainly one-step-forward-two-steps-back.

Curly just doesn’t even want to THINK about schoolwork.  At. All.  She wants to be on the phone, or on her tablet listening to music.  I have been a little indulgent, but we have continued to move to a more structured schedule with each passing day, so she is slowly adjusting.

KitKat did a couple days’ work with much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Lots of groaning and crying.  She doesn’t want to work either but is quite vocal about it while she’s sitting at the table and figures if SHE has to work, then MOM has to work with her.  I’m still wrangling her situation out…

Little Man – well, I don’t have to say “workbook” more than once and he is flying through his pages.  In fact, he’s far ahead of where he “should” be and I am already looking for printable resources to boost his work through the summer.  He will do 10 pages if I let him, when I’ve only asked him to do 4 at a time.  He doesn’t need help per se, but has to be redirected to READ THE DIRECTIONS before starting…

Needless to say, I know for a fact that I was NOT called to be a school teacher!

But that hasn’t been my main challenge.  I have been battling some dark moments for more than a couple of weeks, and I had hoped with an easier work schedule and “Summertime fun” that things would have eased up.  But they didn’t.  They got worse.  They got hard.  They got deep.

I have been wrestling some monsters in my life.  It has been ugly.  I have been taken under a couple of times.  I have lost my footing.  I have regained my wobbly pace one step at a time.  This particular time of year – the annual remembering of my abortion – usually brings some emotional tension with it, but I find that even that is being overshadowed by my current wrestling.

I am reminded of Jacob who wrestled with an angel (Genesis 32) and I feel as though I am fighting with all my might for a Blessing.  I have some dry, cracked desert places in my life and I want these dry bones to come alive.  I may come out of this wounded in a new way, like Jacob was, but I do know that by His wounds I am healed.  I am holding out for some healing and some restoration.  And I know He goes into the deepest dark with me.

How do people go through life without the hope of Christ?  I mean, even in the dark when I FEEL alone, I am not because HIS WORD says He is with me.  But living life with an idea that God does not exist or that he is detached from us – even when I have felt it in recent moments – I am comforted by His endless pursuit and dogged determination to have a relationship with me.  Frail, weak, and broken as I am.  So thankful for Him.  So very thankful.

If you need a little get up and go this morning, check out Adele: