A Work In Progress

A Work In Progress

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Vera Victim

I know someone who tends to "play the victim".  "Playing the victim" is her default mode in dealing with life's inevitable problems.  When she is overwhelmed, stressed and/or depressed, she tends to be "Vera Victim".  Vera Victim is similar to Debbie Downer, but instead of being negative about everything, she just thinks her situation is harder than everyone else's situation, and that she has no way of making things better,  She believes life just happens TO her, and that she has no choice but to get thru it, instead of taking control of her life, and making the most of the situation.  Most of the time Vera Victim is buried, but she can be quite annoying when she reappears and  falls back into her old way of thinking/being.  I'm really good at recognizing when people are playing the victim.  It gets really annoying sometimes and I often have to bite my tongue, especially on Facebook!  It's the "woe is me" mentality.  We all know people like this, but the reason that I'm so good at recognizing when someone is playing the victim, is that I AM Vera Victim!  Yes ladies and gentlemen, my name is J-La-Sta and I am the queen of playing the victim! 

I'm not proud of my Vera Victim mentality, but I am proud that I am being real about it!  I first learned this about myself when I took a "Boundaries" class at Church 5 years ago.  I've worked hard, with God's help, to overcome my Vera Victim mentality.  It's natural for us to fall back to our "default mode" of being during stressful times.  Right now is one of those times for me.  It's December, it's dark, my Dad passed away in December, it's just my toughest month, and my thinking tends to be more negative.  It may be my default mode, but I don't have to STAY in this mode.  I have a choice!  I want to choose Joy!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 5:13 NIV
Fact:  On Christmas Eve, Jonathan works 9:00am-5:15pm and I work 9:45am-1:45pm.  On New Years Eve Jonathan works 9:00am-5:15pm and I work 9:45am-6:00pm.  We only have Christmas Day and New Years Day off for the Holidays.
Vera Victim Mentality:  This really sucks!  I SO need time off! Many people get the whole week off and all we get is Christmas Day and New Years Day!
Silver Lining Mentality:  We are blessed to have jobs!  While many people are unemployed, we are going to make our regular pay PLUS time and a half on Christmas Eve!  We get to have Christmas Day and New Year's Day off AND get paid for these days.  Many people who work in hospitals and nursing homes, etc, will be working on both of these days.
Life has been challenging for us the past 3 months, but I don't have to be Vera Victim!  There will always be people who have things better/easier than us, but there will also be people who have things much worse/more difficult than we do! 
So, Farewell Vera Victim, Joyful Jen is coming back!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving 2012!!

I hope you all had a very blessed Thanksgiving!  Ours was wonderful!  We got to spend it with loved ones, and were blessed with a 60 degree sunny day!  Happy Holidays from our Family to yours!

Monday, November 19, 2012

We Have Been Married For 500 Days Today!

J & J - 7/8/2011 - Clearwater Beach, FL
Those of you who know me, know that I am a numbers girl!  I love dates and numbers!  Well, today we have been married for 500 days!  In my opinion, that is blog worthy for sure! :)  I also find it interesting that our first date was 1,137 days ago.  We have almost been married for half of the time we have been together! 
Looking back, we realize that our 1st year of marriage was a breeze!  We are thankful that we could just be Newlyweds for a year and not have any other major life events happen during that year of adjustment.  Marriage is an adjustment (especially for those of us who have been single well into our 30's.), but it is a happy adjustment.  Change is hard, but good change is MUCH easier than the changes the past few months have brought us.
We are learning more now about some of the "worse" parts of our "for better or worse" vows.  Life has been anything BUT easy for us the past 2 months.  The things we are dealing with, most people wouldn't expect to have to deal with until well into their 40's, 50's and even 60's.  Jonathan's Dad is only 67, but he has had Stage IV lung cancer for 2 years and 3 months.  He also has COPD.  My Mom is only 60, but has been battling cancer for almost 13 years now.  Emotionally, that's a lot for us to handle in and of itself.  But it's not just dealing with the emotional part of it.  We had to put Jonathan's Dad in a nursing home and Jonathan is now the Power of Attorney for his Dad.  We are his only weekly/twice a week visitors and the nursing home is 30 minutes away from us.  We both work full time outside the home.  We may not have children, but we (especially Jonathan) do have a LOT of responsibility!  Jonathan has learned A LOT (more than he ever thought he would have to know at age 37) about Medicaid, Medicare, Nursing Homes, Cemeteries, Funeral Insurance, FMLA, etc, the past few months. 
This has been a very stressful time for us.  We have been flying by the seat of our pants. Uncertainty is hard to deal with.  While we don't know what the future holds, we do know that God has been with us every step of the way, and will continue to give us His strength.  He saw to it that Keith was approved for Medicaid the FIRST time, and for that we are very thankful!  Jonathan has said he wants to use the knowledge he has gained to help friends when/if they have to go thru this stuff with their aging parents.
Jonathan and I are extremely grateful that we have each other during this dreary time in our lives.  I think overall we are doing as well as we can be doing given the circumstances.  Things have settled down a little bit now that Keith has been approved for Medicaid.  We are looking forward to 3 nights away for my Birthday after the New Year!
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that Keith has accepted Jesus.  I'm also thankful that Jonathan is my Husband and that we are a team...for better or for worse.  I'm thankful that we are blessed to spend another Thanksgiving with my Mom and with Jonathan's Dad.  Life is short, but life is precious.  We are learning to live in the moment.  None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. 
We know this too shall pass, but for now, we cling to Jesus and to each other.
Our Marriage verse was "God sets the lonely in families".  We may feel weary and overwhelmed, but we are not lonely. 
Thank you Lord for my 500th day of being married to the love of my life.  I waited and waited, but you were faithful, as always!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  Savor every minute you are blessed to have with your loved ones this Holiday Season! :)



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Random Thoughts By J-La-Sta

  1. My husband and I need a break from life.
  2. It's been 7 weeks today since Jonathan's Dad went into the hospital and J started the process of becoming POA for his Dad, which changed our lives dramatically.
  3. I will never again say "this is a piece of cake compared to what I went thru alone as a single person".  As soon as I said that, God started to challenge us!
  4. I hate the end of daylight saving time.
  5. I hate these short days.
  6. I know that I start to feel better after the New Year starts.
  7. Only 36 more days till we start to gain daylight instead of losing it.
  8. I am thankful that my my mammogram came back normal! 
  9. I'm thankful Jonathan's Dad was approved for Medicaid.
  10. I HATE cancer.  I hate what it does to my Mom and I hate what it is doing to my FIL.
  11. I can't believe December 8th it will have been 13 years since my Dad passed away.
  12. I got an email from parents.com informing me my baby is the size of a cantaloupe at 21 weeks.....UMMM.....Really???  Do they know something I don't?  Our plate is already quite full!
  13. It's a challenge to stay positive when there is so much negative going on in the lives of those we love.
  14. I know God has a plan and will work things out for the good of those who love Him, but it doesn't mean we don't get weary, stressed, and sad.
  15. Speaking of SAD, I hate Seasonal Affective Disorder and what it does to me.
  16. There will always be people who have things "easier" than you, and there will always be people who have things "much harder" than you.
  17. Sometimes life just sucks and is incredibly overwhelming.
  18. My Vitamin D levels were great, much to my surprise!
  19. We are both looking forward to having 4 very much needed days off in a row for Thanksgiving!  Only 5 more days of work for me and 6 more days of work for Jonathan.
  20. We plan to treasure time with loved ones over the Holidays.  Life is short and we need to savor the memories.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Happy 13th Birthday In Heaven Dad!

November 3rd, 1940 Herbert William Latzke, who would later be my Dad, was born in Eagle River, WI.  Yep, he would have been 72 years old today!  He spent 59 years on this earth and passed away on December 8th, 1999.  So much has changed since then, in the world, and in our family.

November 3rd, 1999 (Dad's 59th Birthday):

  • I was 25 years old. 

  • I was living in Cudahy, WI.

  • I called you to wish you a Happy Birthday.

  • I was working 2nd shift and overnights, with at-risk teens, at Calvary Academy in South Milwaukee, WI.

  • I was single and thought I'd never get married.

  • My Nephew Trey (Dad's only Grandchild at the time) was 5 years old

  • Bill Clinton was President of the United States.

  • We couldn't have comprehended that less than 2 years later, 9-11 would terrorize our Nation.

  • Mom was cancer free.


November 3rd, 2012 (Dad's 13th Birthday in Heaven):

  • I am 38 years old (yet somehow I haven't aged one bit!) 

  • I have been living back in South Bend, IN for 5.5 years (Yes, I know I said I'd NEVER move back to South Bend! I am older and wiser and have learned to never say never!)

  • I can't call you to wish you a Happy Birthday, but I will be thinking of you all day.

  • I have been working at an Insurance Company for 4.5 years.

  • I have been married to an Amazing man named Jonathan for 16 months.

  • My Nephew Trey (Dad's 1st Grandson) is now 18 years old!  There are now 4 more Grandchildren that Dad never got the chance to meet.  No, I did not have quadruplets! LOL :)  Lexi will be 10 tomorrow,  Hannah is 8, Tyler is 6 and Myles just turned 3. 

  • Barack Obama is President of the United States.  The Presidential election is in 3 days and I cannot wait for it to be over!

  • We are living in a post 9-11 world, and the world seems to be getting more and more violent.

  • Mom has been battling cancer since 2 months after you passed away (February, 2000)

Life has changed since you went home to heaven Dad, in wonderful ways, and in some not so wonderful ways.  But one thing that won't change, is that I will always love you and miss you!

Happy 72nd Birthday Dad!  See you soon!
Jen Jen

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Day We Were Called To Step Up

     Life is full of changes.  I'm getting better with change, but I still don't like it, and I still have a hard time with it.  Change is even harder for me during the fall/winter months, as Seasonal Affective Disorder does affect me, no matter how many steps I take to prevent it and make it better.  We have been married for 15 months, and our first major life change as a married couple, began on September 26th, 2012, just 18 days ago.

"Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts."
Arnold Bennett

"The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance."
Alan Watts

"The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance."
Nathaniel Branden

  My Mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2000 (2 months after my Dad, her Husband, passed away).  She has been battling this disease for almost 13 years.  She continues to work full time on her feet while receiving daily treatments.  My Mom turned 60 this Summer.  I'm thankful she has her Husband Don of 11 years, to care for her.  Jonathan's Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer August of 2010, but we weren't made aware of it until March of 2011.  Jonathan's Dad turned 67 this Summer.  I hate cancer.  It sucks!  Even more, I hate that the fact that the word cancer doesn't really phase me anymore because I've heard it SO much over the years in regards to family and friends. 

The newly married couple with my Mom 7/8/2011

Jonathan & his Dad Father's Day 2012

Me & my FIL Father's Day 2012

   Jonathan's Dad was hospitalized for approx 6 days before Father's Day of this year.  He was hospitalized again for approx 8 days in August.  We didn't find out until that time, that when he was first diagnosed, he already had stage 4 cancer.  When he left the hospital in August, he went to live with his daughter in Elkhart.  On September 26th, 2012, Jonathan got a call from a nurse at Elkhart General Hospital asking him to call her back in regards to his Dad.  We were of course concerned about Keith, but it also struck us as odd that Jonathan got the call, since Jonathan's Sister who lives in Elkhart was the contact person for the hospital.  To make a long (and extremely sad and complicated) story short, Jonathan's Dad's living situation suddenly changed.  We had no clue!  From the moment we arrived at the hospital that Wednesday evening, we knew we would need to step up to the plate and be there for Keith.  He had been living in his house for a week with no utilities.  He had lost 30 lbs since we saw him last. He needed us more now than ever.  We are the only 2 people he has who live in the area.  From that day forward, Jonathan became the contact person for the hospital. 

     During Keith's hospital stay, Jonathan worked with the Social Worker to determine where Keith would go after he was released.  Jonathan has learned so much about the ins and outs of Medicare and Medicaid.  Fun stuff!  NOT!  Keith was hospitalized for 9 days.  During his hospital stay Jonathan and I searched his truck and house for necessary paperwork to get him applied for medicaid.  It was then that we became aware of the horrendous conditions he had been living in the past week.  We were determined to never ever ever let him live there again, even if he needed to come live with us.  We had planned to go away to a bed and breakfast for the weekend of Oct 5th/6th, but cancelled the Tuesday before.  We knew we needed to be there for Keith. 

     Monday, October 1st, Jonathan stayed home because he caught the cold I had.  I decided that instead of going to Bible class at church, that I would go to visit Keith, because he needed me.  I am SO thankful God lead me to make the right choice. I didn't know until I got to his room that evening, that he had almost passed away overnight.  Keith told me that evening that he "asked Jesus to accept him today" and said "I hope He can forgive me!".  I told him that "He already has".  I also asked if I could pray with him before I left.  Wow!  I will never forget that evening as long as I live!  It was very special!  God certainly put me in the right place at the right time! :)

     It's been an emotional and exhausting 18 days for us.  Jonathan has been using most of his breaks/lunches at work to take care of getting his Dad applied for medicaid, getting him into a nursing home, etc.  The hospital released Keith on Friday, October 5th, 2012.  They transported him to a nursing home.  He is not well enough to live anywhere else.  We are both SO thankful to Jonathan's Sister Sandy and her family who were in town when he was transferred to the nursing home, and helped him get settled, and made sure he got the things he needed from the store.  It made us be able to focus better at work, knowing Keith had them to help him with this transition.  We are convinced Keith was well enough to leave the hospital because Sandy, Joel, and their 3 boys came to town to see him.  He needed to go to the Nursing Home. We both work full time and would not be able to be here to give him the 24 hour care he needs.  After coordinating it and finding wonderful people who were willing to help Notarize and Witness for us, Jonathan's Dad made him his Power Of Attorney on Wednesday.  This is a huge responsibility!  But one that my Husband knew he had to take on.  I am so proud of him for taking on this responsibility.  God truly has called us to serve Keith. 

     I found the following information on this website in regards to what being a POA entails: http://www.sbshlaw.com.

"It is always a good idea to discuss your expectations and wishes with whomever you plan to name in this important document, before you sign it. First of all, that person is going to have a lot of responsibility in the event of your incapacity. They may be responsible to write your checks, pay your bills, balance your accounts, manage your investments and file your tax returns among other things. It’s not so much an honor to be named in a durable power of attorney document as it is an immense responsibility."

     Yes, we both had full time jobs, and we both have our apartment to keep up, but we don't have a house, we don't have kids, we were planning on going to Hawaii in February, but we didn't have any HUGE responsibilities.  Our life has changed.  That is ok.  We will have the rest of our lives (God willing) to travel, etc.  But the important thing is that we are here for our parents when they need us.  Now is one of those times.  Keith needs us more than anyone right now.  He is adjusting to the nursing home.  We live in South Bend, and it is a good 35 minute drive for us to get to the nursing home.  Our goal is to go 2-3 times a week to visit him.  We want him to know that he is not alone.
We haven't really had much time to focus on each other, but we realize this needs to be a priority in our lives.  If we don't take care of ourselves and spend time together, we won't be any good for Keith.  I found the following information on this website:  http://life.familyeducation.com:
"Praise your spouse often when he or she is dealing with an aging parent. Let him or her know how difficult it is and how well he or she is managing things. Your praise will go a long way when your spouse is handling such an emotional issue. It's especially important to keep your relationship with each other strong. You might be feeling overwhelmed by time and energy commitments to a parent, but don't forget each other. Keep doing nice things for each other, treating each other nicely, and spending time together. Even if you cannot spend as much time together as you used to, make every effort to spend at least a reasonable amount of regular time together. You will best be able to support each other if you continue investing in the relationship."
     We want to put God first, our relationship second, Keith 3rd, but we also have jobs that we need to keep! :)  Yes, we won't be able to spend as much time together as we did before, but we are choosing to make it a priority in regards to our "New Normal".  Jonathan and I are incredibly blessed to have each other for help, support and encouragement during this difficult and challenging time.

     Keith asked Jonathan the other day if he could read the Bible with him.  That, my friends, makes all of this crap worth while! :)  We don't know how many days Keith has left on this earth, but we are convinced that God called us to serve Keith in this capacity right now.  I have to remember that God is in control of Keith's life, here and in heaven, and that I can do my best, but need to let go and let God. 

Please keep us all in your prayers, especially Keith!  Please pray that we will remain strong and will serve Keith in the way that God has called us to serve him.  Thank you!  :)

"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him."  James 1:12

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our Entry For Stafford's Hospitality Memory Contest!

Dear Stafford's Hospitality,
     Wow! Where do I begin? We stayed at Stafford's Bay View Inn from Sunday, July 8th, 2012 through Thursday, July 12th, 2012. We purchased the Summer Memories Package which was a GREAT deal!
     This was the most romantic, relaxing and peaceful vacation we have EVER had!!! We both agreed it was better than our Honeymoon, which was in Clearwater Beach, FL. July 8th was our 1 Year Wedding Anniversary and July 10th was my Husband's Birthday. We were so blessed to be able to stay in Astor Suite #7 for our celebration. Astor Suite #7 truly is THE BEST room at the Inn! It was incredible! We had our own deck with an amazing view of Little Traverse Bay, a private sitting area with a Fireplace, a beautiful and comfortable King Canopy Bed and last but not least, a 2 person Whirlpool Tub. 
     We both waited a very long time to find each other! When we got married I was 37 years old, and Jonathan turned 36 two days after the wedding. We had both been single, never married, with no kids. We don't believe in luck, and know it was meant to be. We thank God everyday for giving us His best in His perfect timing. Given how blessed we feel to have found each other, we wanted our 1 Year Anniversary trip to be very special. When we chose Stafford's Bay View Inn, we had no idea just how special our trip would be. We both had never been there, but we found it on the internet and made our decision after viewing the website and calling the Inn. It far surpassed all of our expectations! We felt like royalty! Room 7 was AMAZING and every single staff member was very friendly and willing to help take pictures for us, answer questions and asking if there was anything they could do to make our stay more enjoyable. We loved getting away from it all and not having a TV or phone in the room. It made the trip all about us, free from the distractions of the media and daily life.
     We had our Anniversary dinner on July 8th at Stafford's Perry Hotel. We loved the atmosphere of the Restaurant! The food was excellent, and the service was just as stellar as at the Bay View Inn. Our server went above and beyond what we expected to make sure our anniversary dinner was a night to remember. I've attached a picture of us with our delicious dinners.
     My Husband's favorite memory of our trip was the afternoon and evening of the 9th. We had a before dinner drink at the Bay View in the sunroom, followed by dinner at the Restaurant. He loved the ambiance set by the music, and the beautiful sunlight pouring into the sunroom accentuating the decor. It was so romantic! I've attached a picture of us experiencing that day. After dinner we looked for Petoskey stones across the road at the beach and watched the sunset. I've also attached a picture of us in front of Little Traverse Bay. We met a lady there who also got married on July 8th, 40 years ago!
     Who needs Florida in July when we have Stafford's Bay View Inn on beautiful and scenic Traverse Bay? I had never been to Northern Michigan and had no idea how blue the water was up there, and how the beautiful sunsets add to the romance! We have decided that we want to celebrate every Anniversary at Stafford's Bay View Inn Astor Suite #7, and we cannot thank your staff enough for making our 1 Year Anniversary vacation so special!
     We look forward to our second visit (along with more delicious cookies) next July! :-)
Jennifer and Jonathan Stanley
South Bend, Indiana

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pure True Indescribable Joy

Have you ever experienced pure true indescribable Joy?  I have!  Easter Sunday, April 8th, 2012 is the day I experienced pure true indescribable Joy This was my Baptism Day!  Yes, I was baptized as an infant.  If you want to know why I chose to get baptized as an adult, you can read that blog by clicking this link. For about 2 weeks afterwards, I was on what I called a "Baptism high".  It's been exactly 4 months today since my Baptism, and even now I have such Joy in my heart when I think about that wonderful day!  It truly was one of 2 of the happiest days of my life!  That day changed my life and my heart forever!  I say indescribable because there are no words that can accurately describe the joy my heart felt that day and continues to feel because of that day.  I found this description on a blog by John which is the closest I'll come to describing it:
"During a baptism something happens that is very difficult to explain. In a single moment - everything changes.  One enters the water purposeful, ready and willing to surrender everything to God.  And in a single moment, they rise with a radiance that rivals the brightest sunrise."
I was SO excited and smiling so big before my Baptism that Dr. (Pastor) Bob (the guy on the right who baptized me) said "I'm not worried about this one!" I'll let the pictures and video speak for themselves, but I do know that God used my Baptism to open my heart to love more deeply and to feel His Joy more completely! :)

My friend and co-worker Brandon caught my Baptism on video! :) It's only 53 seconds long, and my baptism starts at 38 seconds.

I thought the 2nd to the last picture was so awesome!  It's like I'm holding up the words.  My desire is "forever to bring Him praise, forever to lift up His name"!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

J-La-Sta's 3rd Thankful Thursday!

Here are the people/things I am thankful for today:

I'm Thankful That My Friend Mary Moved Back To Michiana.  Mary and I have been friends for over 5 years.  We first met each other at a Church group on June 4th, 2007.  I had just moved back to South Bend from Milwaukee on May 1st of that year.  Mary was my first friend I made in the area after moving back.  We have been there for each other thru some pretty tough times, and we have been there for each other thru some pretty awesome times as well!  Mary got married in August of 2009 and moved to a suburb of Indy, about 3 hours away from here.  A few weeks ago Mary, her husband and sweet baby girl moved back to the area.  I am so happy to have her close again!  I often call her "daughter" and she often calls me "mom", you can read about that and see a picture of us here

I'm Thankful That I Am Almost Done Writing Thank You Notes.  I am so thankful for how much people blessed us at our Wedding (7/8/11)/Wedding Open House (8/20/11) and gifts that were sent between and after those events!  I have been wanting to write thank you notes, but have been putting it off because the task seemed overwhelming.  Yes, I procrastinate when things seem overwhelming to me.  Well, I am determined to get them done before we leave on our vacation!  I have 16 more to write! :)  My hand and my shoulders (heavy weight) will be thankful when I am finished as well! :)

I'm Thankful That I Have 1 More Day of Work Before Our Vacation.  We are so excited to head to Northern Michigan to celebrate our 1 year Anniversary!  We haven't had a full week off of work since our honeymoon.  We are very much looking forward to it!  As of 7:15pm Eastern Time on Friday, July 6th, I will officially be ...wait for it...

Last But Not Least, I Am Thankful For An Amazing First Year of Marriage With My Mr. Right.  I was single for the 1st 37.5 years of my life.  Now that I've been married to Jonathan for a year (July 8th), I completely realize that I wouldn't change a thing about my many years of singleness!  He was worth the wait and God knew EXACTLY what He was doing! :)  I love you Jonathan and I look forward to many more wonderful years together! :)

This pic was taken on our honeymoon in Clearwater Beach, FL

Thursday, June 28, 2012

J-La-Sta's 2nd Thankful Thursday!

I have so much to be thankful for today and everyday!  Here are the people/things I'm especially thankful for today:

I'm Thankful For My Friend Christy.  I first met Christy going on 4 year ago.  Wow!  Time sure flies!  She ended up being one of my roommates for a time when I was living at my friend Alaina's house.  Over the years we have grown to become really good friends!  I'm thankful that our conversations always center around how God is working in our lives!  Christy has such a kind and giving heart!  Tonight we met at Panera and it was great to catch up with her!  Even though many many months had passed, it felt as though no time had passed at all!  Thanks for a fun evening and great conversation Christy!  Here is a pic of us which was taken at our friend Alaina's Wedding which was Thanksgiving weekend in 2010.

I'm Thankful For Central Air Conditioning.  It was VERY HOT and humid in South Bend today!  Our high temp today was 100 degrees!  We live on the 3rd floor.  I left the AC set at 78 degrees when I left for work this morning, knowing that if I set it any higher than that, we wouldn't be able to cool off when we got home.  It was 79 in here when Jonathan got home.  79 and humidity free is something to be extremely thankful for when it is so hot and humid outside.  I feel for those who don't have any air conditioning and all and pray for their safety.

I'm Thankful The End of The Work Week Is Near.  It's always a long work week for me when I work the previous Saturday and then only have Sunday off before the new work week beings.  Tomorrow is FRIDAY and for that I am Thankful!  Yay for rest and relaxation and time with my favorite guy! :)

Have a Great Weekend Everyone! :-)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Weight Loss Journey

     I've always struggled with my weight, but when I do decide to lose weight, I do it!  I lost approximately 35-40 lbs in 2000.  Most of you know that I am very "all or nothing".  Either I don't step on a scale or try on new clothes (cuz in my mind denial is better than actually knowing how much I weight or that I need to go up yet another pant size!), and continue to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, or I follow a fairly strict regimen. I lost weight before the wedding.  I had motivation!  I had a wedding dress I needed to fit into, and gosh darnit, I was going to look good in those wedding pictures which last forever!  I did fit into that dress and I looked and felt amazing! :) 

     The wedding came and went and I lost my motivation.  I no longer had a wedding dress to fit into, the gorgeous pictures had already been taken by my wonderful SIL, I was comfortable being married, my Husband loved me regardless of if I was fat or skinny! So for the first 6 months of our marriage, I gained 20-25 lbs.  Jonathan actually lost 10 lbs!  December 8th I bought the best Pedometer ever, and started walking about 6,000-7,000 steps a day.  In the past year I have had Cellulitis 3 different times.  Cellulitis is a nasty bacterial infection.  I have Venous Insuffiency (a vein disorder in my legs), which makes me more prone to Cellulitis. The last time I had Cellulitis was the end of January of this year.  At that time I weighed 207-209 lbs!  I am only 5'3 inches tall!  I realized my weight had gotten out of control!  That was the most I had ever weighed in my life! 

Here is a pic of me which was taken on January 2nd in Chicago. We were celebrating my 38th Birthday which was the following day:

     I went back to my Dr. in early February.  I wanted to get to the bottom of why I kept getting Cellulitis so frequently!  She said that "Once or twice having Cellulitis in such a short period of time, we can chalk up to fluke things, but 3 times, there is probably something going on".   So about a week later I fasted for 12 hours and had blood drawn and tested.  The results were mailed to me.  On February 8th I got the results.  I wasn't prepared for what I was going to read.  When I read the words "Pre-Diabetes" I instantly panicked and felt anxious!  My impaired fasting glucose was 108.  I had never heard of pre-diabetes before.  I later found out it used to be called "impaired fasting glucose, but those words didn't communicate just how serious the condition is, and people weren't making the changes they needed to make.  Reading "Pre-Diabetes" on that paper, was the motivation I needed!  I was determined NOT to let this turn into Diabetes! I DO NOT want to have to give myself insulin shots!  I had a choice to make!  Either I would continue down the same path, which wasn't looking very good!  Or I would make the necessary lifestyle changes.  Here is the range of fasting glucose numbers and how those numbers are classified:
     Here is the the definition of Prediabetes according to Wikipedia:  "Prediabetes is the state in which some but not all of the diagnostic criteria for diabetes are met. It is often described as the “gray area” between normal blood sugar and diabetic levels.  There is a 50% risk over 10 years of progressing to overt diabetes. A recent study cited the average time for progression as less than three years."

     Thankfully I had started the First Annual "J-La-Sta 10,000 Steps Walking Challenge" on January 8th and was walking 10,000 steps a day!  Had I not been walking for those 2 months prior to my blood test, I probably would have had a higher glucose level!  My husband also realized that we needed to eat better for my health and for his health.  In February or March we started making dietary changes. We weigh most of our food, so we know exactly how much we are eating.  I am SO thankful we are doing this together!  It would be so much harder to do without the support and encouragement of the one you are living with!  We do not keep sugary cereals in the house, etc.  We are both on board with these lifestyle changes!  The walking challenge ended on March 30th, but we continue to walk at least 10,000 steps a day for 6 days out of the week.  I am happy to report that Jonathan has lost a total of 50 lbs since the wedding and I have lost 30 lbs since the end of January! (See pic below which was taken on June 23rd, 2012.

     I go back in 2 months to have my blood checked again.  I am confident that because of my walking, healthier eating, and weight loss, my glucose level will be much lower than it was!  What is my new motivation for losing weight?  I love my God, my Husband, my Friends, my Family, and last but not least, I love ME! :)

I have 42 more lbs to lose to get to my goal of 135 lbs.  I can and will do this with the strength I get from God, and from the support and encouragement I receive from my Husband, Family, and Friends! :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

J-La-Sta's First Thankful Thursday!

"If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get."   Frank Howard Clark

If you are anything like me, it's sometimes hard to be positive in a world filled with some "not so positive things"!  For me at least, it doesn't take work to dwell on the negatives, but it does take effort to count my blessings"!  While I was walking at the Mall today, I decided that I would start a new thing on my blog called "Thankful Thursday".  This week I had thought about keeping a daily journal of blessings.  This is kind of right along the same line with that idea.  I want to cultivate an "Attitude of Gratitude"!   This is just one of the ways I plan on doing that.  I am trying to live life in the present rather than in the past or future.  So when I list the things I am thankful for on my blog each Thursday, I will focus on things I am thankful for today and this week, not what I'm going to be thankful for next month.  So, here are the things I am thankful for (in no particular order) on this first "Thankful Thursday":

I'm thankful that this Father's Day was the 1st Father's Day I had a Father-In-Law.  This Father's Day was the best Father's Day I've had since my Dad passed away in 1999.  It wasn't that I didn't miss my Dad this Father's Day, cuz I did.  I think anyone who has lost a Mother or Father feels the loss much more acutely each Mother's Day or Father's Day.  It's completely normal, no matter how long it's been since your parent passed away.  I decided to honor my Dad's memory by going to visit his grave.  This Father's Day was different than the past 12 Father's Days, in that this was the first year I had a Father-In-Law.  My husband and I took him out to eat and celebrated the fact that he was out of the hospital!  Not only do I now have a Father-In-Law, but I have a Father-In-Law who thinks I'm awesome and who has told Jonathan numerous times recently, "She is a gem!  You couldn't have done any better!  She is a real pleasure to be around!" It feels good to be valued so highly by an earthly "Father figure" in my life. 

I'm thankful for so many hours of daylight.  Yesterday was the Summer Solstice, which means that it was the longest day of the year!  I love light!  I love the long days!  Summer is my best time of year and I'm thankful that it's here!  I plan to enjoy it!  I have much more energy this time of year!

I'm thankful my Mom is a fighter and I'm blessed to still have her in my life.  I saw her today while I was walking at the Mall.  She was working.  She continues to work full time.  She has battled cancer for 12.5 years.   She was first diagnosed at age 47 and she is now 59.  She is a Survivor! :)  She is currently getting 10 chemo shots a day for 5 days a week.  That's 50 shots a week!  They are very painful for her!  Yet she still works full time and continues to smile and have a positive attitude.  Continued prayers for her are appreciated!

I'm thankful my husband and I have the opportunity to work overtime at work.  While so many people are without work, we are blessed to have the opportunity to work more hours, which means more money, which means we can pay off debt faster and have extra money for our upcoming vacation.  We both have job security! :)
I'm thankful I have had today all to myself.  I work on Saturday so I had today off work.  It's so great to have a day to spend by myself!  I love my husband and I also love having some alone time once in a while!  I'm blessed!  I went to the BMV to renew my plates, I walked at the Mall, and now I'm hanging out at home.  It's been a great day off!

I hope my "Thankful Thursdays" will encourage you to also have an "Attitude of Gratitude"!  :)

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Want To Live Like That!

"I Want To Live Like That!"
by Sidewalk Prophets

This song has really touched my heart ever since the first time I heard it! The lyrics are incredibly powerful and thought provoking! I've been meaning to blog about it for months, and decided to finally do just that this evening! This song really makes me think about how my words and actions can either show others the love of Jesus or possibly turn those who are searching for truth, away from Jesus.  If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to watch the video/listen to this amazing song!

Here are the lyrics:
The lyrics are bolded and my comments are in Italics.

Sometimes I think
 What will people say of me
 When I'm only just a memory
 When I'm home where my soul belongs

What do I want to be known for when God calls me home?  What Legacy do I want to leave here on earth? 
Was I love
 When no one else would show up
 Was I Jesus to the least of those
 Was my worship more than just a song

I want to be known as someone who loved others well, even "the least of these", like Jesus did!  I want my worship to be a way of life, and not just an hour on the weekend!

I want to live like that
 And give it all I have
 So that everything I say and do
 Points to You

Yes, I really do want to live like that!  I want to be intentional about loving others and pointing others to Him!

If love is who I am
 Then this is where I'll stand
 Recklessly abandoned
 Never holding back

GOD is Love!  I am human and therefore imperfect, and cannot give pure unconditional love, but I plan on giving it all I've got, with the help of my Savior!

I want to live like that
 I want to live like that

Am I proof
 That You are who you say You are
 That grace can really change a heart
 Do I live like Your love is true

I want to live like His love is true, trusting boldly in his promises!  Grace can and does change hearts everyday!

People pass
 And even if they don't know my name
 Is there evidence that I've been changed
 When they see me, do they see You

I can and want to tell others about Jesus, but I don't have to use words.  People notice those who are "different from others in the way they live their lives".  I honestly do believe that actions speak louder than words.  I want people to see Jesus in me without me having to say a word!
I want to live like that
 And give it all I have
 So that everything I say and do
 Points to You

I want my life to point to Him!
If love is who I am
 Then this is where I'll stand
 Recklessly abandoned
 Never holding back

"Never holding back".  Never is a tough act to follow, but all I can do is pray for strength to love others well and be a witness to others simply by the way I live my life.

I want to live like that
 I want to live like that

I'm going to need lots of help!  I do know that His strength is made perfect in weakness.
I want to show the world the love You gave for me
 I'm longing for the world to know the glory of the King

Life is short!  I want everyone to know the love my King gave for them!

I want to live like that
 And give it all I have
 So that everything I say and do
 Points to You

It's easy to judge and find fault with others, but it takes a lot more effort to just love them where they are at!
If love is who I am
 Then this is where I'll stand
 Recklessly abandoned
 Never holding back

I want to live like that
 I want to live like that

I want my life to be a testimony of His AMAZING Grace!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

After Years of Searching, I Found My Home!

All 3 Pics were taken by my SIL Sandy of Sandra Ellen Photography in Grand Rapids!

My Moves During College (6 times if I'm counting correctly):
August 1992 - Moved from South Bend, IN to College in Milwaukee, WI - Lived in dorm.
May 1993 - Moved back to South Bend, IN for the Summer
August 1993 - Moved back to College in Milwaukee, WI - Lived in dorm.
May 1994 - Moved from dorm to an apartment on campus for the summer.
August 1994 - Moved from summer apartment to another apartment on campus for the school year.
May 1995 - Moved to another apartment on campus for the summer and following school year.

My Moves Since College (Yep, 15 times in 15 years)
May 1996 - Graduated College - Moved to an off campus apartment in Milwaukee, WI with a friend.
August 1997 - Moved to Greenfield WI to my own apartment when roomie got married.
May 1998 - Moved to South Milwaukee, WI where I lived where I worked.
September 1998 - Moved to Cudahy, WI where I had my own apartment again.
July 2001 - Moved to Denver (Aurora), Colorado for a job and lived where I worked.
February 2002 - Moved back to WI and lived in Oak Creek, WI with a family who are friends of mine
November 2002 - Moved into my own apartment in Milwaukee, WI.
March 2004 - Moved into another apartment in West Milwaukee, WI, which was right across the street from where I worked at the time.
October 2006 - Moved to West Allis, WI by New Berlin, WI border.
May 2007 - Relocated back to my hometown of South Bend IN and lived with my Grandma in Granger, IN.
September 2007 - Moved to Autumn Lakes Apartments in Mishawaka, IN with a friend.
March 2008 - Moved into a house with 2-3 other women in Mishawaka, IN and rented a room.
June 2009 - Moved into a Condo in Mishawaka, IN that I shared with the Owner.
July 2010 - Finally got back on my feet and moved into my own Apartment at Irish Hills Apartments in South Bend, IN.
July 2011 - I moved from my 1 bedroom apartment into a 2 bedroom apartment with my husband, at the same apartment complex in South Bend, IN.

Wouldn't you if you had moved so many times?

  • Moving is the third most stressful event in life, following death and divorce. (from: Employee Relocation Council).  Moving is trauma, ranked right up there with getting a divorce, losing a job or burying a loved one.

  • I dealt with the loss of my Dad alone and have moved SO many times by myself, that with all of that stress, God must be preparing me for something huge! :)

    "For the two of us, home isn't a place. It is a person. And we are finally home.”
    ― Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss

    This is my favorite Engagement Pic!  Sandy is a very talented Photographer! :)

    I'm so thankful that we are staying put for a few years!  The only reason we would move, is to buy a condo or a house!  It's nice to have some consistency and stability for a while! :)

    All of this moving really has taught me that
    "Home Is Where The Heart Is!"

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012

    We Are Content Being A Family of Two!

    Yes, my Husband and I are a FAMILY of two!  We believe that our family is complete! :)

    Our First Date As a Married Couple - Clearwater Beach, FL

    We are not planning on having any children.  However, we also know that the Creator of life may have other plans. (In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9)  We are 100% Pro-Life, so if God chooses otherwise, we will be happy with His plan and embrace His gift of life.  That being said, my life just hasn't been the "get engaged in college, get married right after college, have kids right away" type of life that many of my friends have had.  I haven't followed the typical"/expected" path.  That hasn't been God's plan for me.  I used to not like being different,  but now I love it!  I'm Jennifer Stanley, not Suzie Homemaker. Neither do I consider myself to be a "Career Woman".  I work to live, not live to work.  Anyways, there will most likely not be a television show called "Jon & Jen Plus (Insert any number here)".  It's more like "0 Kids & Not Counting"!  I will be 39 in January, not 22.  Some days I hardly have the energy to work full time and take care of myself and be a wife, so I don't know how I would have the energy to be a Mom at this point in my life!.  I do know that God never gives us more than we can handle.  Which is why my best friend has 4 boys, and I don't.  He knew she could handle it and be a great Mom, too!  I also am on medications that are working that I could not be on if I were pregnant. 

    What people might assume about us (or others) because of our (their) choice to not have children:

    1. We are selfish.  Yep, we are human and we can all be selfish at times.  However, I wouldn't consider us to be selfish people.  I don't believe our reasons for not wanting children are selfish.  We love to serve God and others with our time and money, and we can do that in ways that we couldn't do if we had children. 

    2. We don't like children.  Wrong!  We love kids, and they really do love us too! :)Have you seen pictures of us with our Nephews/Nieces?  We all have fun when we are together!  They especially love to climb on Uncle Jonathan!  We get to enjoy our Nephews/Nieces and (hopefully) be good examples for them.  Just because we love children, doesn't mean we want to raise some of our own.

    3. We want to spend all of our money on ourselves.  I would be lying if I said we didn't have things, such as traveling that we want to do!  However, we love giving of our time and money to God, family and friends!  We are very Blessed!  We want to get out of debt (which we will be very shortly!) so that we can continue to give and be a blessing to others.  We are choosing to live well beneath our means in order to do so.
    Some "not so great" reasons to have children (in my opinion):

    1. In case we might someday regret not having children.  Not a good reason to have kids.  It sounds a bit selfish, because it's all about "us". " I'll have kids so I don't feel regret later in life". 

    2. To have someone to take care of us when we get old.  There are no guarantees in life.  Having children just so there will be someone to take care of us when we are old, would not be fair to the kids, nor is it necessarily realistic.  In this day and age people relocate more now than ever, and families often don't live in close proximity to each other.  In my opinion, having children for this reason is more selfish than choosing not to have children.  Plus, I'm the type of person who will be talking with everyone and having fun even when I'm in a Nursing Home!

    3. Because many of our friends have children/are having children.  We've all heard this one:  "If your friends jumped off of a cliff, would you jump off of a cliff too??"  Umm, NO!  Not a good idea to do something just because everyone else is or is not doing it!  Many of my friends got married in their early to mid 20's.  Did that mean that I should have settled for any guy that came along just so I could "be married like everyone else"?  Absolutely not!  I'm SO glad I didn't do that and waited for my Mr. Right!  God has been So Faithful to me and to us! :)

    4. To get unconditional love.  First of all, God is the only person that can give pure unconditional love!  Second of all, if we want unconditional love, we can get a dog!  Having kids is about the kids and what we can do for them, what we get from them is just an added bonus!

    *****We <3 Being "Aunt Jenny & Uncle Jonathan"!*****
    We Are The Coolest Aunt & Uncle Ever, and Humble Too! :)