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Accepting the Challenge

Yesterday, I became one of many that have accepted a challenge to live healthier for the next 90 days, knowing that if I can make the change in the next 90 days, I can turn it into a new lifestyle.

For someone who is considered “morbidly obese”, I knew that to be truly committed to this challenge, there had to be accountability. That is why I love that I am part of a group of Christian women that love the Lord and seek His guidance daily. They are a great group of ladies from all walks of life and have challenges ahead of them just as I do. Our challenges may be different, but the opportunities that God has placed us all together is not a coincidence. His plans are always perfect and purposeful.

So, one of the challenges I have faced even before this challenge officially began was learning to love water, instead of soda or some other high-calorie beverage. A week ago, I was lucky if I drank even 8 oz of water a day. Now I am drinking 120 oz a day.  My goal is to reach 200 oz a day (if my doctor approves that amount).  Along with drinking all the water and choosing to eat healthily and losing the extraordinary amount of carbs that have become habits for me, I am trying new supplements from Plexus Worldwide. I will take these supplements daily along with moving more.

healthy eating

I am gaining new insight into the world of chair exercises. Right now my balance isn’t great and standing for more than 10 minutes at a time, causes pain and serious discomfort. My hope is that as I move more, even in small increments, I will notice a difference for the good. I am praying that as I embark on this journey, I will not only become a healthier me, but I will be able to share my success stories with all of you.

Once I learn more about the supplements and how they will help to heal my body from the inside out, I will share what I am taking and how they are working for me.

God dropped this opportunity in my lap because I chose to be real about my pain and discomfort. Other people reached out to me and asked me to come along for the ride.

Jeremiah 29:11  International Version (NIV)

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

I know there will be times that Satan will try to discourage me and distract me, but I am committed to making a better life for myself. I am tired of writhing in pain and feeling so fatigued that sleep never comes. I want to enjoy life, not from the chair I sit in daily and look at the four walls. I want to be able to walk without pain, play with my grandchildren, dance with my husband and love life.

And the best thing about this new challenge is I am making friends I will have for life.

God is good! All the time!

May you know how much Jesus Loves You!

Blessings to all!

Love Is A Choice

My mother’s life started out rocky, but she learned that love is a choice. My grandparents adopted my mother at the age of 10. They chose to love her and I am so thankful they did.

My mom had her own family, 2 sisters, 1 half-sister and 2 half- brothers, and she was the oldest of them all. Their life was hard and very tumultuous and scary. The details are hers to share with those she chooses. It was not the type of life anyone would want a loved one to be in, but it was her life. And she was the luckiest of all her siblings because although she did not grow up with her siblings and her mom and stepfather, she did grow up in a home of love, laughter, and joy.

She grew up in a home with parents that loved and honored the Lord. She learned about Jesus and forgiveness and she learned about being loved. She learned that life is full of choices and every choice has a consequence. She learned that she was free to make mistakes and with mistakes came lessons that would guide her along the way in her life.

She often wondered about her sisters and brothers and what happened to them and even her mother. She was able to connect with her siblings later in life and build lasting relationships. As I said she was the lucky one. My heart breaks for my aunts and uncles and the hardships they endured, and I continue to love them as if they have always been a part of my life. They are family.

Fast forward 10 years to my parents tying the knot with their own dreams of having a home and starting a family. My parents were blessed with four children. Myself, a sister two years later, another sister four years later and just when they thought they were done with diapers, my brother appeared 8 years later. He was definitely a surprise.

The story could stop there.  It could be they had four children and lived happily ever after. Well, they did have a great life. They remained married and in love with one another until my father passed in 2015-51 years with each other.  That fact alone would be enough to inspire you.

My mother is more than a daughter, sister, mother, wife, grandmother or aunt. She taught me what selfless love is all about. My sister, born two years after me has a hearing impairment.  There were no support groups or local organizations to reach out to for a special needs child. She helped to form a local group for parents of deaf children. She took my sister to weekly speech therapy appointments, while still raising 3 other children and running a home, plus being a volunteer fire dispatcher (before 911 existed) and being the chief cook, laundress, bottle washer, and confidante.

As we became older, she shuttled all of us to our various extracurricular activities, made sure we had hot meals and lots of love.  And she instilled in us a kindness and compassion for others that came from her life as a child. To love others is a choice. A family is family and family is first. It doesn’t matter if you have been thick as thieves with your cousins all your life or if you just laid eyes on them as a teenager. The love is the same.

She worked for child service agencies to help protect children from the horrors of the world because she understood that better than anyone what is was like to be hungry, hurting and alone.

She chose to not live as a victim. She chose to live a life of love and she shows that love every day to her friends, family, and total strangers. She embodies the heart of Jesus. She shows grace in all situations. She prays daily and gives her worries and concerns to the Lord. She is my hero because her heart always has room for compassion and kindness like I have never seen.

She has mended many of my broken heart moments, she has given advice that has carried me far in my life and although there have been many times, that I have hurt her heart and been less than stellar as a daughter, she hasn’t loved me any less.

She is the rock in our family.  She is the glue that keeps us all connected when we lose touch with one another. The sad part is she lives thousands of miles from all of us, but she is only a text, video chat or call away. It’s not the same as being with her in person, but it’s the next best thing.

I only pray that someday, I can be half the mother she has been to me and my siblings. I strive daily. She isn’t just my mom, she is my hero.

Mom, I just want to thank you so much for choosing love. Thank you for choosing to love others unconditionally and to always show grace under pressure. Your forgiving heart and spirit have taught me more than I could ever express. I am very honored that God chose you to be my mother. I love you so very much! Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

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Our Mom

 

 

 

The Pink Purse

My friend Sherry was a lover of the color pink, not a vibrant, bright pink, but a pale subtle pink. She was a romantic at heart and loved with all she had. She would share whatever she had if anyone needed it. I miss her so much.

I remember, about a year before her death, I took her on a “Bucket List” trip. She wanted to go to the mountains in October to see the changing of the leaves. When the fall colors burst forth, and all you can see in every direction are hues of purple, pink, yellow, red and beautiful colors the mind can’t comprehend.

Prior to the trip, I had purchased a pink handbag from a local Goodwill store. It wasn’t anything fancy and was under five dollars. It was one of those open the bag and throw everything in it, no compartments and no zipper.  Just a simple snap at the top to hold it all together. For weeks, she pestered me to give her that purse. And for weeks, I said no way.  She had always told me that she could never use a grab bag, she needed it to have compartments and pockets and zippers and this bag had none. But her love for the color pink won out.

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One day, I found a nice box, lined it with tissue paper and carefully wrapped the purse in the tissue paper and found gorgeous pink wrapping paper and tied it all together with pink ribbon and a pale pink bow!

We went to our weekly Bible Study and then made our weekly trek to United Dairy Farmers for a Peanut Butter Sundae with extra peanut butter. A treat to ourselves, and while we sat and devoured those sundaes, I presented her with the package.

She questioned what was this big gift box for. It wasn’t her birthday or any special date she could recall and I said you’re my friend; that’s enough of a reason for the gift. She ever so delicately tried not to rip the pink paper (which is near next to impossible because I love using tape when wrapping gifts) and finally I told her she needed to rip it open, she could find more of that gift wrap at the dollar store if she wanted it so bad.

When she opened the box and gingerly peeked in the tissue paper, this bright smile beamed from her eyes. And she hugged me tight and told me she would take really good care of it! She took that purse on our trip and made sure that I took a picture of her and her pink purse.

That’s what friends do for each other. We lift one another’s spirits, it could be the gift of an inexpensive pink purse, it might be a nice note or a phone call. It might just be sharing a cup of coffee. Whatever it is that you do with your friends to brighten their days, do it with love.

I know she carried that purse until it finally fell apart, but the small amount of money spent on that handbag does not compare to the joy it brought my friend.

May you know how much Jesus loves you!

Blessings!

Bucket Trip to the Mountains 057

 

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Pink

What Do You See?

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When you see me, can you see the pain I am experiencing with every step? Or do you see the fake smile and laughter I display so you don’t know how bad I hurt?

When you see me, can you see the numbness and tingling in my lower spinal area and the burning pain sensations it causes?

When you see me, do you know that I struggle to breathe when I walk any great distance?

When you see me, do you realize that I struggle to hold my emotions together at times? These are moments I am praying asking God to help me hold it all together.

When I comment that I am exhausted-even though I haven’t done anything to get that way-do you think I am exaggerating? In these moments, I am usually so exhausted and fatigued that the feeling of nausea sweeps over me and laying down becomes paramount to my well-being.

 

I do my best daily to put on my happy face; some days I struggle just to be pleasant. Days when I am not so pleasant and grumpy, please realize, it probably has nothing to do with you, but the pain I am in and I am tired of always being in pain. But I will continue to push through it because I was taught giving up or giving in is not an option.

 

When my attitude is out of whack, gently remind me to get back to a nicer me. We all have days that we struggle. Some struggles are physical, some may be mental and some may be ones we have no idea why we feel the way we do. Love me just the same as when I am not struggling.

 

Between the pain that is associated with fibromyalgia, the degenerative disc disease in my spine, the osteoarthritis in my hips and knees, carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands and the chronic meniscal injury to my left leg, some days I feel like I am just going to collapse. Jesus holds me up. He carries me in the palm of his hands. And now on top of all these lovely issues, if this constant aching is not enough, now my lungs are giving me problems.

 

I smoked menthol cigarettes for over 30 years. I breathed in silica dust and plaster dust for 12 years. I knew the risks associated with the cigarette smoking, but I was addicted to the Nicotine. So much so, that even though I knew and understood the risks of continuing to do so could ultimately harm me, I still did it. I saw my grandmother succumb to lung cancer and my best friend die of COPD and watched my father struggle to breathe as well.

 

I was diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea is 2007. I have always relied on a CPAP [Continuous Positive Airway Pressure]

to keep my airway open at night-time and allow me to sleep.and get rest. For many years, the CPAP alone was enough. Not anymore. It has come to my attention as well as one of my physicians, that the CPAP alone is not enough. I experience low levels of oxygen while sleeping. A normal oxygen level is anything above 90% and during my sleep times with my CPAP machine, I am showing oxygen levels of 60%. According to my doctors, anything under 90% oxygen level is dangerous to me and requires interventions. In reading some information I have found out that continued drops in oxygen levels will cause damage to cognitive function, short-term memory, stroke and heart attack during sleep and many other problems if not treated. I will be doing an overnight testing within the next week to determine if oxygen therapy will be required along with the CPAP usage.

 

And last but not least, I have been diagnosed with COPD[chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]. I have had asthma since childhood and suffer with Chronic Bronchitis and breathing problems.

 

I normally don’t share this with everyone. But it is my belief that the people in my life that God has blessed me with, which are friends that I call family, need to know what is happening with me.

I take it in stride. I know God has a plan for me and I also know that He helps me every single minute that I breathe. I am not sure what that plan is-I know he will tell me more when he is ready for me to hear it.

 

I am thankful. I can still walk. I might be as slow as a tortoise, but I am not in a wheelchair, without use of my legs. I may be able to feel every tender pain point on my body, but that’s okay because that means I am not paralyzed.

 

I may have to wear prescription glasses, because without them I struggle to see, but I am still thankful,because I am not blind.

 

Many mornings, I feel like I have a pharmacy in my medicine bag, 13 pills to take and two inhaler devices along with one to two breathing treatments a day. I am still thankful that there are companies that make these meds to help me function and live a fairly normal life.

 

Muscles spasms and incessant itching are the biggest pains in the neck because they just happen and you just have to get through them the best you can. Headaches, tummy troubles, dry skin, fatigue that always is and never seems to leave your body, Emotions that are up and down like a rollercoaster, but you learn to hold those in and only let those tears out with people who love you and understand why. When you have to explain why the tears, sometimes you are just too tired to even do that.

 

Edema and poor circulation issues. Weeping from your legs because the skin just won’t stretch anymore. My legs cry on a regular basis. My legs (calves/ankles) swell all the time. The only thing that stops the swelling and edema is to keep them elevated 24 hours a day-not likely considering I have a two-year old to care for, plus taking care of the home and myself.

 

Even in all of this grief I experience as I see my body and organs deteriorate from time to time, I am thankful because I know that each day that I awaken means God isn’t ready for me yet. He still has work for me to do here.

 

So when you see me, and you roll your eyes because yet again I am in pain and don’t feel good-understand this. I am not saying this to gain sympathy or do I want you to feel sorry for me, I just want you to understand that I have a lot of days when getting out of bed and getting dressed is a victory. Days when I not only get up, but take care of a 29 month old child who has endless energy, do housework and laundry and possibly cook dinner, those are wins for me too.

I miss being able to be outdoors. Taking hikes and nature walks spontaneously. It seems everything must be planned these days..Do I have my walker/cane? Do I have medication for my breathing and what happens if I need to go to the bathroom?

 

I would love to go to the park and play on the playground, run and jump-but my body won’t allow it right now. So I stay in most days and have found alternate way to spend with my grandchildren ( all four of them). I can’t run and chase them and play like that, but we draw and color and make and bake cookies and goodies. We play games and read stories and just spend time loving each other.

 

I know there are so many people in this world that face far greater trials than I have .

 

I am blessed by a God that loves me unconditionally, a family that does the same. Friends that treat me so special and make me feel very loved, A roof over my head, food in the fridge and clothes on my back. And a vehicle to get me where I need to go.

 

I am blessed and loved. I am alive. I am breathing and I am hoping that one day a cure will be found for Fibromyalgia. Until then, I will continue to do my best to educate others on what it is like to live with this disease. I have only shared the highlights. It’s too depressing to continue to dwell on it.

 

My mother always says, “You can’t always judge a book by its cover.”

And she’s right. I hope that when people “read” me, they see someone who loves Jesus and can’t’ imagine her life without him in it..

 

Jesus loves you! Blessings to each of you that read this!

~Carlene

Woo Hoo!!!! It’s Friday!

So many people get excited when Friday comes, because that signals the end of their work week and make plans for the weekends to get away with family and friends or do projects around the house, or if they are smart, just rest up and gain strength and energy to make it through the next week.

When I was still working outside of the home, Friday was just another day for me. My days off were Sunday’s and Tuesdays. I didn’t have the same pleasure as most of my other friends when Friday’s arrived.

I think it’s great that there is one day a week that people are jubilant about; but what about the other six days? We should be just as excited for Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Shouldn’t we?

Do you think when God created everything, he had it in mind that only Friday’s should be celebrated? More than other days? Doubtful. If we only look forward to one day of the week and miss out on the other six, what does that say about us? We just trudge through the rest of the week until Friday rolls around and then we start all over again, looking forward to just that one day?

I look forward to Saturday’s and Sunday’s now, because that is when my husband will be home and we can have quality time with one another. We can laugh and be silly, lean on one another, share our hopes and dreams and concerns and I am once again whole. For the past month and who knows how many more weeks or months, he spends the week with his father, taking care of him, due to Alzheimer’s and the distorted reality that he lives in. EVERYDAY is precious because you see glimpses of the man he was before the disease reared its ugly head. And we are thankful that when those glimpses come out, he can laugh and not be fearful of something his brain has conjured up.

Sunday is day celebrated in my heart because that’s the day I get to go to church and worship and enjoy the presence of the Lord with my church family. I become refueled for the week ahead and am encouraged by others and the testimonies they share of how Jesus has changed their lives! However, worshiping the Lord is a daily event for me. I sing his praises every chance I get, every day. I sing for him and he still loves me~I imagine he hears perfection when others hear an off tone, loud, obnoxious voice. My grandmother used to say you couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I didn’t care.  Jesus loves when I sing for him. That’s all that matters.

Monday is a day to start fresh, wipe the slate clean from the previous week when things didn’t necessarily go as you planned and pray this week will look better than the last. I will admit most people I know frown when Monday appears, it means back to business, no more playtime- except for the DSM team at my church, (Dayton Street Ministry) -this is when they gain joy and not only bless the homeless and hurting in the city-but are also blessed. Rain or shine, freezing temps or sweltering heat. Every Monday. No exceptions.Lives our touched.  We all seem to forget, that God’s mercies are new every single day.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are days set aside for Therapy and Medical appointments. Tuesday is for me, my appointments, time with friends, running errands, grocery shopping and all those other “fun” things that we must do to make sure our family is taken care of and the house gets taken care of. I used to be able to dust, wash walls, clear the pesky cobwebs and so many other things to give me a feeling of job well done! Now if I get the dishes done, it’s a win.

Wednesday and Thursdays are devoted to Tyson’s speech therapy inside and outside of the home, along with the Play Project which we will be starting soon. Although daily therapy is done, he isn’t aware we are “working”, like he does with the structured therapy appointments.. I am working on teaching him simple signs (American Sign Language) to request his wants and needs along with PECS, a communication system using pictures exchanged between Tyson and others so he can tell people what he wants or we can tell him what’s next in his day.

I am trying to celebrate every single day. Yay! I woke up, I can breathe, I can walk, I can laugh and I can cry. Yay! That means my work here on earth is not done. God still is willing to use me and stretch me and mold me to carry out the plans he has for my life!Jeremiah2911A

The moral of this story, is live life to the fullest. Enjoy every day as a gift. Trust that if you are still here, than your work is not done. And don’t take it for granted, it could be gone in a split second. Tell others how you feel, love on them, encourage them, hold them up, ask for help when you feel overwhelmed or lost or alone. Don’t wait to tell someone something that they need to hear, because you are waiting for the right time~you may not get the chance. Be someone that embraces each day with an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude. We all have at least one thing to be thankful for. And if you adopt this practice, you will see how very blessed you are and in turn can be a blessing to another human being.

And yes, I am excited it’s Friday. Tonight my husband comes home. I can’t wait!

Celebrate your life; your losses and your wins. They make you into the person you are right now. A great place to start celebrating is using the 100 Days Gratitude Journal from iBloom!

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy EVERY day! May you know that Jesus loves you! Blessings, Carlene