Thursday, March 31, 2011

Built in Breather

Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.
                    -St. Francis de Sales

I used to read this quote and think that wasn't a big issue for me. I know my limitations. I know who and what I will never be.

Like, you know, I will never be in a career that involves math.

But when I read this quote today I looked at it from another angle. Because what I am is not what I used to be.

And I like who I used to be. So it's a bit hard not to wish for that back.

I'm not talking about things like going outside or singing at church or attending events or running around a track. I'm not talking about the big, obvious things. It's the little things.

The ways I used to be there for people even after I was homebound. The way I used to keep my inbox at zero and get back to people in a timely manner. The way I used to drop people notes in the mail for no reason and check in on people through Facebook and spend evenings talking with friends on Twitter. Checking in. Making sure everyone was well and knew they were thought of and cared about.

The little things that require energy and stamina and the tiniest bit of health.

Those things, the energy things, are not who I am anymore. And it's frustrating me because I'm still trying to do them and not doing them perfectly.

One way I've tried to hold onto that version of me is to show up here every day. To not worry you guys when I go missing. I don't lie and say I'm well, but I certainly do my best to try to appear as strong as I can be. I like the me I used to be who never struggled to sit up and type, who painted canvases to raffle off to you all and who doodled little freebies every week. I used to be the girl who created no matter what.

And while creating still gives me joy, it's not helping my health situation. And that means I'm not being perfectly who I am.

Because the truth is that my health has been on a downhill slide. Infections that used to clear up after a couple rounds of antibiotics are now getting worse instead of better after weeks of treatment. And breathing actually requires concentration. And exhaustion hits in ways that means more than being crazy tired. Exhaustion means my brain screams at my arms to move and nothing happens. There's just no energy there.

I'm not good at admitting that. But I'm admitting it anyway. Because I need to be a little kinder to myself.

I'm going to start by giving myself a break on Thursdays… because I'm finding by that point in the week I'm pretty spent. Don't worry… I'm still going to blog incessantly all the other days. I'm just going to see how it feels to give myself permission to not have to sit up and create one day of the week. And if I randomly doodle something I think you'll like, I'll just give it away on a different day. :)

But that means we're done with YOU:create on here, and I have LOVED the way some of you have started to bring creativity back in your lives. So I hope you keep creating on your own… taking that time that fills the space inside you where you find who you truly are.

I'm finding who I truly am, too. And trying to be perfectly me. In the here and now. Whether I like it or not. :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Praise :: Trust

"Prayer without ceasing is only possible in a life of continual thanks."
          ~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

I was talking about prayer with Susie the other day, and I told her that - at some point - my prayer life changed. Now, every one starts with "thank you."

I don't know how else to pray because I stopped knowing what I wanted to pray for.

As much as I want parts of my life to change, I don't want it to change if it's not in the best plan of God.

Sometimes I don't want things to be this hard if I live a long life, and sometimes I want to fulfill this road but want Him to promise me it will be a short one. I want people protected and to feel the peace they so need, but I don't want them to be protected out of living and loving in His will.

For me, it all comes down to wanting to ask Him for His will to be done. Not mine. It comes down to trusting Him with absolutely everything and everyone.

So my prayers sound more like this:

Thank You for knowing how all of this plays out each day, so I can be content in living each day of it for You.

Thank You for keeping me open so I can see what is in front of me that you need from me today.

Thank You for covering my friend in your protection. For allowing her to feel the love and peace that I am sending and that You provide.

Thank You for never leaving my friend, even when He doesn't feel You or believe in You; thank you for waiting for Him with open arms when he's ready to see You again.

Thank You for loving her enough to make a clear path in a time when she needs to know how to travel.

Thank You for the gifts you've placed everywhere around me, in the hard places, so I can see You in it all more clearly.

Thank You for healing her in Your time and in the way You know she needs. For protecting her body and her spirit as only You know how to do as she walks this road.

I don't know if I'm right or wrong, but I trust that everything that comes from God is good. I trust that everything that comes from God is an already answered prayer. I trust that everything that will come from God is exactly what I need.

Even if it's hard.

Because He's sees what I can't. So I count it all as gift. And I thank Him… not for the pain and the difficulty… but for the faithfulness He gives during all of it.

That is how I have learned how to Praise.

Even in my weakest places, even in my hardest moments, even in the depths of pain and sickness, I thank Him for what I know for sure is true. Beyond the distraction of the hard. Within the hard.

I praise Him for Him.

As Ann says in her book, all is gift. All is grace. And I praise Him because I trust Him with all of it.

My praise and my trust go hand in hand.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gitz Bits: Week 12

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Monday, March 21, 2011


My friend Jennifer sent this to me, and immediately it became one of my favorite things ever. I pray the rosary every day, usually more than once, and having this decade ring is just amazing.

I had one once that I gave to a friend's dad when he was in Hospice, and I forgot how much I used it until I got this one in the mail. It was a beautiful and thoughtful gift, and it's very well used.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I don't feel great during storms, but I was so thrilled to see rain instead of snow that it didn't even matter this day. Hearing thunder is a welcome sound when it means there is no white stuff falling!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I am so in love with this little dude. I can think of few things in the world better than looking over and knowing Riley is there hanging out with me. He's usually completely snuggled under the covers so it's always fun when he peeks out and lays his head on the pillow… checking in to see what's happening out in the world.

As you can see, he's usually pretty unimpressed. :)

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Thursday, March 24, 2011


My mom is a well-practiced Ole and Lena joke teller. She has the accent down pat and gets pretty animated… so when Candy brought me a bottle of "Ole Made Lena Blush" wine, I knew I had to open it with Mom. She came on Thursday, so we enjoyed the bottle and decided it was surprisingly delicious!

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Friday, March 25, 2011


Riley is great at a lot of things, but we have to work on him putting his toys away.

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Saturday, March 26, 2011


Ask and you shall receive… the recipe for Texas Caviar! Here is the original combination that Nicole gave me:

2 cans Rotel
1 can black eyed peas {drained}
1 can black beans {drained}
1 can of corn {drained}
4 to 6oz. Italian dressing

{oops! I forgot to get the dressing out for the photo}

Between my sensitive stomach and the sores in my mouth, this proved a bit spicy for me so I replaced the 2 cans of Rotel with 1 can of mild Rotel and a can of drained petite diced tomatoes. It still has some flavor but is much easier on the mouth.

And I think Tostitos scoops are the most brilliant thing ever for eating this with… totally worth it!

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Sunday, March 27, 2011


I took pictures of my cabinets on Sunday for yesterday's post, and left this one out since I had a ton of pictures. And then I laughed because everyone kept asking where Riley's treats were…

So here's the missing picture should any of you worry that Riley is not taken care of. He has his own section in my utility closet complete with bones, grooming supplies and treats upon treats upon treats.

He has a bad habit of never eating his dog food because he knows there's something better in that cupboard, so he goes over to the door and beats his tail on it until I open it and give him a treat. S.P.O.I.L.E.D. R.O.T.T.E.N.

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Thanks for once again sharing my week with me! Click on the button below if you want to go to Jessica’s site and check out the other participants showing off their weekly photos as well:

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Love Language

There is a book in existence that talks about people's love languages. I've heard people refer to it here and there… talking about the things that people do for them that make them feel most loved.

I, of course, have no idea what mine is since I've never actually read the book, but when Nicole was here I promptly declared my love language to be the simplicity of organization.

Because she lovingly made that happen to my cupboards.

I am a bit of a freak about organizing things. If there is something in my home that can be stored away and alphabetized, you can be sure that it is. I am all about utilizing space, living in such a small condo, and am almost giddy when everything lines up perfectly in my drawers.

Now that I'm less mobile, however, my organization has suffered for it. The lower cupboards in my kitchen and bathroom are mostly inaccessible for me, as are some of the higher cupboards in the kitchen. Truth be told, I wasn't even sure what was on the shelves that I couldn't reach.

It was a bit of a mess.

And Nicole, bless her, made it even messier so we {she} could make it better.



The girl literally took everything out of my cupboards for me, and then I got out of bed and told her what to keep, what to throw away and what to give to Goodwill.

I'm honestly not sure there is a better feeling than throwing things away. Especially things I didn't even know took up residence in my cupboards.



After all was said and done, I now have a food cupboard that looks like this:


And my dishes line up like this:


Even my refrigerator looks shiny and happy:


And much to the delight of Nicole's daughters, I am now the proud owner of a snack cupboard:


But to make things exceptionally easy, I have a few often-eaten snacks in a basket on my counter for those days when reaching in a cupboard is more of a challenge than I want:


I would show you my bathroom cupboard below my sink, but there's really no need… since I can't get under there, we aren't storing anything there.

Brilliant, eh?

I'm not going to lie... I hugged her with actual tears in my eyes when she was finished and I saw all the well organized and space-utilizing cupboards she crafted.

So, apparently organization is my love language. Which means I'm a very happy girl. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

5 minutes: waking up

Today I'm linking up to Lisa-Jo aka gypsy mama, who chooses a topic every Friday and writes for five minutes.

Only five minutes.

And the rule is that whatever she writes about in that five minutes is what she posts. No editing her thoughts.

Today, her topic choice is "Waking up…"

So I'm going to set the timer, write some thoughts, and then I'm going to stop.

Ready? Set. Go.


Waking up seems to be what my family is in the process of doing right now. Almost nine months that we've been without Dad, and it feels like we just gradually wake up from the fog.

It's funny how, through every step of this, I thought I was awake. I mean, I remember the moment on the phone with my sister like it just happened. It is seared into my memory. I remember the conversations that happened. The people who came. How I felt. What I wore. Who I spoke to. I was cognizant and intentional.

But I wasn't awake.

There is a fog that overtakes us. That protects us from ourselves and a life that we don't know how to process. Our bodies took over. Mom says she felt less pain for a long time… old aches in her joints disappeared, and as she wakes from her fog, the aches return.

Being sick made it different for me. My sick body took over, and while I felt calm in my head I did nothing but throw up repeatedly, every day for months on end. Shock was not so kind to me.

Mom has been here, laying in bed with me this afternoon, and we talk about him now and I see it in both of us.

A waking up.

Some people say it will get easier. Some people say we should expect it to keep getting worse. That the second year is harder.

I can't really imagine anything but the ache of missing him as we wake up without him every day, except for the day when we all fully awake together in Heaven.

That will be the perfect waking.

Easter is coming. I want to spend my days awake so I don't miss Him when it counts.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

YOU:create … for Vicky

"All Shall Be Well" is the phrase my friends Vicky and Robin and I have been constantly typing to each other this past week.

In this one week, Vicky's life changed on a dime. Breast cancer just aren't words a person is ever prepared to hear. "Invasive" and "aggressive" and "stage three" are ones you never want to hear behind them.

In this one week, Vicky has gone from an ultrasound to mammogram to biopsy to diagnosis. Today she will have a PET scan to be sure it hasn't spread further than they think, and tomorrow she begins chemotherapy.

One week.

A whole new world.

A whole new language of medicine and stages and treatments.

But she will have the same people who love her, standing with her and beside her. Loving her and praying for her and supporting her every step of the way.

Vicky was one of my very first blog friends. She has peppered me with questions that have challenged me and prompted me to look deeper and write deeper. She held me up when I felt weak, and when our Dads died within days of each other, we grieved together.

Now, we are going to fight together.

Will you join me in praying for my friend?

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For my project this week, I created the blog button you see above. That's our smiling Vicky… all shall be well is her motto. If you want to visit her blog and leave her a comment of support, just click on the button. If you want to add the button to your sidebar, right click within the box underneath to select all, copy and then paste it into your own blog. It will remain available on my sidebar under "Blog Buttons."

Thanks in advance for supporting and loving on Vicky. She is one in a million.

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I can’t wait to see what you guys came up with this week! Just click below and follow the instructions to link to your project. When it asks you to choose the web or a file for your thumbnail, choose web. Then it will take you to a list of the images on the page you are linking to and you’ll be able to choose a photo to represent your project.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


"learning that homebound doesn't limit
your life, just your location."

That's a section of my bio over to the right, under my picture. And it's been taunting me a bit lately.

Of course, the way I meant it is still true. I still mean, through this blog and the internet and the phone and the mail, I get to touch people's lives and they flood mine with beauty and grace. You all have made sure my location doesn't matter when it comes to community.

I am so grateful for that.

It's not the homebound part that feels like it's limiting my life these days, it's life itself.

A few months ago, my nurse suggested we have physical therapy start coming to the house again for a short period of time. I had to stop doing any sort of therapy when Cushing's hit, and my abilities have changed fairly drastically since then. I thought it would be a great idea to have someone come in and refresh me on what I should be doing.

They key here is that I thought I'd still be able to do it. Do something. Do anything.

I can do nothing.

I joke about it a lot, but my physical therapist went from talking about exercises to saying that my goal should be getting out of bed periodically and walking to the kitchen and back.

I was ready for stretches and lifts and maybe some stretchy bands. Turns out, I can barely move my ankles without them swelling. Forget about the rest of me.

I was in shock. Everything he talked about I would respond with, "Oh, I can do that…" and then I would try, and I couldn't move. I have fused and been made limited in ways I never dreamed. I thought I could move my neck, until he held my shoulders still and I realized I had been moving my whole body.

It's all about our perspective. Mine was skewed until someone came along, put their hands on my shoulders and said, "Wait. Look. Realize."

Physical therapy no longer comes to the house because there is nothing for them to do. The little ways I can still move, I do repeatedly to make sure I don't lose it… but if I move too much I enflame the joints and am worse off.

It's a balancing act.

A perspective-shifting balancing act.

I had the same "wake up" moment when Nicole and the girls came last weekend. I knew I would be in bed most of the time, but I thought I would at least get up and sit on the couch a little or sit at the table during a meal here and there. I thought I would still be a participant in their visit.

Until they came on Saturday, and after I sat at the table with them for all of 15 minutes I was barely able to make it back to the bedroom without passing out. By the time they left for the hotel that night I was shaking and vomiting from trying to be "active" earlier.

It broke my heart. It broke my spirit. It was in that moment I came face-to-face with something I knew to be true but was trying so hard to make false. I had moved from feeling like a sick person to feeling like an invalid.

And I hate it.

I stayed in bed the rest of their stay, only getting up to use the bathroom. I got up once to go through some of the stuff Nicole was throwing out of cupboards and I was so weak I could barely sit on George.

Admittedly, I am fighting an infection… but fighting infections has become my norm more than a random event. When I am here alone, I do nothing but stay in bed, rest, do little bits on the computer here and there and try my best to exist with a good attitude. I can get by on my own, get to the kitchen and back, bathroom and back. I am safe and capable.

But that is it.

Throw some people and activity in there, and I can't accomplish even that. Activity for me is now defined as sitting up in bed and talking and being animated.

Talking now requires a nap.

I have no stamina.

It's like a dagger to my heart every time I have to make these realizations. Every time I see myself physically slipping to another level. The invalid level.

But I have to look at it, otherwise I constantly set my sights on things higher than I can achieve, and I end in failure. I have to recognize my limitations so I don't end up making myself worse because I'm trying to make my life into something it isn't.

It's a balancing act.

Just like my physical therapist put his hands on my shoulders to give me perspective, God is putting His hands on my shoulders and telling me to live the life He's given me, not the life I'm trying to wish into existence.

My perspective has to come from a still space in this bed. It has to come after long rests and acceptance of where I am. If there is a purpose for me on this earth, and there must be because I am still here, then I need to keep my eyes open to the here and now and find it where I am.

I am feeling like an invalid these days. And I hate it. But I know He sees more in me than my location. He will not let my life be in–valid.

Wherever you are in your life, take a moment to let His hands rest on your shoulders. Don't let life get so busy with your own ideas and vision that you miss His perspective for you. Because I promise He has one.

Just for you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gitz Bits: Week 11

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Monday, March 14, 2011


Look what Nicole brought to my house! Ok, so I think I've told you all that it's just been within the last few years that I have tasted fresh pineapple. I never knew what all the fuss was about… I just figured pineapple from a can was the same as fresh.

OH MY WORD was I wrong. Now, the fresh pineapple that I have had was already cut by the grocer… so having a full-on pineapple in my house was kind of exciting for me.

I know. I totally need to get a life. But at least I can still find joy in the little things. :)

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011


This is an awesome bowl I got through the Dayspring site that I love having in the center of my table, but I had yet to figure out what I wanted IN the bowl. Nicole got some groceries while she was here [hence, the real pineapple], and she put the potatoes and fruit in the bowl for safe keeping.

I realize most people would think… "Hey, great place to store produce!" Instead, I thought, "Hey, I should totally buy some fake fruit and veggies for that bowl!" I'm all about the cheaper option that can't rot. :)

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Anyone who has known me for any length of time is going to be shocked when they read that I have been eating what is in that bowl.

It's called "Texas Caviar," and when Nicole was here she talked it up like it was the best thing on earth. She told me how much her girls love it, that it is full of protein and so good for you. She said her twin baby girls literally eat it with a spoon.

I looked at her like she was nuts because it has things like black beans and black eyed peas in it. I don't eat those kinds of things. I mean, the only beans I like in my chili are pork 'n beans. Kidney beans seriously gross me out. I was super super super doubtful about this, but I know how picky Nicole is so I thought if she was talking it up I should at least give it a try.

When I ate it – and liked it – I offered a chip to Nicole so she could scoop some up, too. She looked at me like I had three heads and said, "Are you nuts? I don't eat food that touches each other!"

She totally hoodwinked me. She is so lucky I liked it.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011


This is Riley, performing a Harry Potter intervention on me.

And I admit, I may actually have a problem. I mean, I own the first six movies [thanks to my brother, Hoody] and can watch them at my leisure. But on Thursday night, when ABC Family started a four day weekend event of Harry Potter movies, I literally didn't turn the channel for four days.

I can't pass up the chance to watch a little Harry. And I'm ok with that. Riley, not so much.

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Friday, March 18, 2011


Friday I started my second round of antibiotics for this latest infection. I have moments of thinking it's a little better, and then I have moments of thinking I'm delusional because I'm not really any better.

I have this habit called "wishful thinking" and it makes it really hard to tell what is from what I want to be. But for now, the infection is still stronger than my positive attitude.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011


This, my friends, is the last little bit of snow that can be seen out my window.


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Sunday, March 20, 2011


Aren't my girls cute?

Meg, Susie and Jenny all got together at Suz's house on Sunday afternoon and skyped me in for a little chat time. My voice is barely audible these days so they had to turn the volume way up, but it worked.

Now I just need technology to figure out how to let them pass me a glass of wine through the screen…

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Thanks for once again sharing my week with me! Click on the button below if you want to go to Jessica’s site and check out the other participants showing off their weekly photos as well:

Monday, March 21, 2011

Riley's Weekend

Remember how Nicole and the girls came to visit over spring break?


Remember how they came to see *ME*?


Yeah, somebody by the name of Riley didn't get the memo and thought it was all about *HIM*. Which is probably why his head popped up like this in almost every photograph.


As a dog I'm sure he'd find this insulting, but doesn't he look like the cat who ate the canary in this picture? :)


He's such a schmooze. Nicole is a non-dog-lover, but he had her rubbing his belly in no time flat.


Miss Anna was ready and willing to shower him with belly rubbing attention as often as he'd let her [and was very brave when she petted him again AFTER he nipped at her. He's so lucky he's cute…]


Sophia and Riley began by loving each other from afar, as Sophie carries more of her mama's cautious demeanor.


But he turned her into a belly rubber, too.


Me? I didn't care one iota about what Riley wanted all weekend because I got what *I* wanted. My strong friend bullied those signs in the front yard until they came up… which means I now have a SIGN FREE ZONE outside my window!

That's better than a belly rub any day. :)