A Work In Progress

A Work In Progress

Sunday, October 27, 2013

PeriWHAT???????? Navigating This New, Unexpected, and Uncertain Time of My Life!

     *****MEN -  if you don't want to read about issues related to a woman's monthly friend please stop reading NOW!  :)  WOMEN - The purpose of this blog post is not to scare anyone, just to raise awareness.  It's ok to talk about hormonal imbalances ladies, this is a fact of life!  We don't need to suffer in silence.*****

     Before October 7th, 2013 I had this very inaccurate view of what I thought happened in Menopause. First of all, I thought Menopause was something that happened to women when they reached their 50's and 60's.  I am 39 (for another 67 days).  So naturally, this was something I didn't need to concern myself with for at LEAST 10 more years, right?  I seriously thought Menopause consisted of occasional hot flashes along with some missed periods.  Then, all of a sudden it was all over, and that was that!  Simple? Yes!  Naive?  Absolutely! I mentioned my former views about Menopause to some women who have gone/are going thru it and they laughed!  Yeah, I should know by now that things are rarely as easy as they appear to be from the outside looking in! LOL 

     So naturally, when my monthly friend came to visit just 2 weeks after the last friend showed up, I thought I was dying.  Cuz, you know, that WAS the most logical conclusion after all! :) LOL :P  We went to Immediate Care at the South Bend Clinic that evening. I was pulled aside by a Nurse and told that they could see me, but that there was probably nothing they could do for me.  Her next words will stick with me forever! She said "Honey, this is normal for a woman your age".  Huh??? WHAT??  This sure as heck was NOT normal for me!!!!  I am only 39 years old!! In all of my 25.5 years of having this monthly visitor, she was like clock work and within a few days of her expected arrival! Her visits were very predictable! She certainly never appeared 2 weeks early!!! That afternoon I had already called my OBGYN's Office and made an appointment with a Nurse Practitioner, but I couldn't get in to see her for another 9 days. No one seemed to think this was an emergency, except for me!  Although my Husband was quite concerned as well!
     In the meantime, I did some online research and learned about "Perimenopause", which is something that can begin anytime between the ages of 35 and 55. Why hadn't I been warned about this?  Upon describing my situation to some girlfriends, I realized that they had never heard of this happening either.  I hadn't been the only one kept in the dark! They all assumed, as I did, that as you neared menopause, your periods would be fewer and farther between, not that they could come more often and could sometimes WAY overstay their welcome. They all said they too would be concerned if this happened to them! 

I was relieved to find this blog site: http://www.theperimenopauseblog.com/.  The slogan is "Yes, It's Real & No, You're not going Crazy!" Phew!!!! :) That's good to know! :)

You may be asking What IS Perimenopause? 
Perimenopause, or menopause transition, is the stage of a woman's reproductive life that begins several years before menopause, when the ovaries gradually begin to produce less estrogen. It usually starts in a woman's 40s, but can start in a woman's 30s or even earlier. (WebMD.com).

Here are 35 Possible Symptoms of Perimenopause (These symptoms were taken from Healthline.com, written by Magnolia Miller on Feb 23rd, 2012):
  • Hot flashes, hot flushes, night sweats and/or cold flashes, clammy feeling
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings, sudden tears
  • Trouble sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats)
  • Irregular periods; shorter, lighter periods; heavier periods, flooding; phantom periods, shorter cycles, longer cycles
  • Loss of libido
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Crashing fatigue
  • Anxiety, feeling ill at ease
  • Feelings of dread, apprehension, doom
  • Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental confusion
  • Disturbing memory lapses
  • Incontinence, especially upon sneezing, laughing; urge incontinence
  • Itchy, crawly skin
  • Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons
  • Increased tension in muscles
  • Breast tenderness
  • Headache change: increase or decrease
  • Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea
  • Sudden bouts of bloat
  • Depression
  • Exacerbation of existing conditions
  • Increase in allergies
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss or thinning, head, pubic, or whole body; increase in facial hair
  • Dizziness, vertigo, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance
  • Changes in body odor
  • Electric shock sensation under the skin and in the head
  • Tingling in the extremities
  • Gum problems, increased bleeding
  • Burning tongue, burning roof of mouth, bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor
  • Osteoporosis (after several years)
  • Changes in fingernails: softer, crack or break easier
  • Tinnitus: ringing in ears, bells, 'whooshing,' buzzing etc.
"The hallmark of perimenopause is the erratic, unpredictable symptoms which literally seem to come out of nowhere. As a result, women often feel confused, powerless, and overwhelmed which, unfortunately, only exacerbates the symptoms and intensifies the feelings of losing control. 
If you are having a difficult time coping with the symptoms of perimenopause, it is very important that you understand it is not a sign of mental weakness or a lack of self-control.  And though it may seem as if the symptoms will never end, they do.  And if you’re still feeling crazy after that, just remember what George Carlin said, “It’s because men are stupid.”  (Magnolia Miller - Healthline.com - June 18, 2012)

     I went to see the Nurse Practitioner the morning of October 16th.  My special visitor lingered on and was still there when I went to see her.  At this point, it was day 10 of her visit.  The NP said they could do an endometrial biopsy to rule out uterine cancer, they could do an ultrasound, or we could wait and see what next month would bring. Wait and see what next month would bring???  I wanted to end this months visit first!!! :)  I chose to have the endometrial biopsy done to be proactive and/or to ease my peace of mind. She also did an exam, and said everything was as it should be, and that there were no fibroids or anything. I was told they would call me with the results in 5 days or so.  Thankfully, just two days later I was told the results of the endometrial biopsy were normal.  Phew! I did not have Uterine Cancer.  Praise Jesus! :) That was a huge relief!  I was still concerned though, I mean my friend was STILL visiting and it was day 12.  What was going on?

     The next week I was exhausted and it was heavier than it had ever been.  I felt weak and it was a struggle just to get thru my normal days of work.  My NP had me get a blood test on Tuesday evening, so they could see if I was anemic.  My NP Appointment was also moved up from Thursday to Wednesday.  When I went to my Appointment my friend had now been visiting for 17 days, yep you read that right, SEVENTEEN DAYS!!!!  My NP told me I was not anemic.  When I asked her if she thought I was in Perimenopause she said she thought it was probably too early for that, i.e. that I was too young.  She did suggest I start taking a low dose birth control pill to even out my hormones and therefore make my period go away. It was around this time that my theme song became the song by "The Band Perry" which is called "All I Want To Be Is DONE"! LOL Jonathan laughed at me when I started singing it and calling it my new theme song after I heard it performed on The Voice last week! :)

     Before this point in my life, I had always been against taking a birth control pill for myself.  However, this now became a completely medical decision for me. It was affecting my energy and my daily life.  My hormones were obviously completely out of whack!  With all of the research I have done over the past 3 weeks, I am now convinced that I have started the "Perimenopause" phase of my life.  I still am surprised that I had never heard of this before and was so ignorant about this phase of a woman's life.  Why isn't it discussed?  Why don't older women give younger women the heads up about this? If they did, would we even believe it? Probably not because it's just so CRAZY!  LOL  Some women (like my Mother, sail thru Menopause).  She NEVER had any of the symptoms I am experiencing, therefore she couldn't warn me about them!

      I obviously don't have all of the answers, but I do know that I want to raise Perimenopause awareness and warn those my age and younger of things that could  affect them in the future.  Granted, I am on the young end for it to be happening to me.  From what I read it seems 45 is the average age for the onset of Perimenopause.  But, I am a woman and I know my body and I know that something has definitely changed! I've learned that perimenopause can start earlier in women who have never been pregnant.  I have never been pregnant.  I also have learned that the age at which a woman's Mother went thru Menopause is a determining factor in predicting when you might go thru Menopause. My Mom was completely done at 47.  Therefore it stands to reason, that with my Mom going thru Menopause earlier than the average, along with the fact that I have never been pregnant, that I would go thru it sooner than the majority of my peers.  FYI:  It isn't considered Menopause until a woman has gone 12 months without a period.  "The average age of a woman having her last period, menopause, is 51. But, some women have their last period in their forties, and some have it later in their fifties. - See more at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/menopause".

     I hope and pray that "Lo Loestrin Fe" will help to balance out my hormones. What I've learned from my research about Perimenopause is that it is a very unpredictable and uncertain time in a woman's life.  That's exactly how I feel!  It's quite unsettling, although not nearly as unsettling now that I've realized this is "normal", whatever that is! LOL :) I have a feeling, that like it or not, I'm in for the hormonal ride of my life!  I can't change it, so I might as well roll with it!  In case you were wondering, my visitor finally left (for now at least, after her 19/20 day unwelcomed visit!).  I'm so blessed to have such a caring, wonderful, supportive, and encouraging Husband by my side!

     Oh, and one more thing.  I've read that Perimenopause is like Puberty in reverse!  Oh JOY of all JOYS! LOL :)  Women, we don't need to suffer in silence!  It's nothing to be ashamed of!  It's ok to talk about our female issues!  Let's warn the next generation! If something changes with your body, get it checked out!  It's always good to rule out the worst case scenarios, but I just wanted to make you aware that if something like what happened to me, happens to you, it really could be "Normal", as CRAZY as that may seem! :) 


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Weight Watchers Plus Determination Equals The Incredible Shrinking Couple! :)

1.  He Loves Me!  My Husband loves me so much that he started walking/losing weight with me after my pre-diabetes diagnosis in February of 2012.  He said he knew that it would be easier for me to change my habits if we both changed them together.  That is love!  In January of 2013 when I decided I wanted to join Weight Watchers Online, he decided to also join Weight Watchers Online the very next day! Even though he gets to eat more than me, it is SO MUCH easier navigating this weight loss journey with both of us being on the same page!  We are Blessed! :)

2.  We Are Determined!  When we say we are going to do something, we usually do it.  I am typically a woman of my word and he is typically a man of his word!  My Goal is to reach 135 lbs by my 40th Birthday!  Jon's goal is to reach 190 lbs and be below 200 lbs for the first time in his adult life!  Jon is currently 78 lbs lighter than our wedding day (July 8th, 2011).  Wow!  He is amazing!  I am currently 52.4 lbs lighter than I was on my 38th Birthday (January of 2012).  Jon has 21 lbs to go to reach his goal and I have 21.6 lbs to go to reach my goal.  We can and will do this!
Top: Jen on Jan 2nd, 2012 at 209 lbs/Jen on Aug 31st, 2013 at 156.6 lbs
Bottom: Jon (243 lbs) & Jen (189.1 lbs) on Jan 4th, 2013/Jen (156.6 lbs) & Jon (211 lbs) on Aug 31st, 2013

3.  Our Success Is SO MUCH More Than A Number!  Yes, It's true, the number on the scale tells us how much we weigh.  It is a good guide to go by when trying to get healthier, but it's not the only guide.  We are eating healthier, we are fitting into smaller clothes, we have gained some muscle, and we feel so much better about ourselves!  Partly, because we are accomplishing something we didn't think we could accomplish before.  We know we are getting healthier, and losing weight the right way. We LOVE FOOD.  We LOVE food that is bad for us!  We are REAL people who have real struggles.  We don't have a personal chef or personal trainers.  If we can lose weight, anyone can!  I kicked pre-diabetes to the curb, and THAT FACT is more important than any number the scale tells me! :)

4.  My Husband Goes On Hikes With Me!  I love him!  I married him for love.  I married him because I knew God made us for each other.  Did I ever think he would go on hikes with me?  No.  I honestly didn't.  Did I want him to?  Yes.  God is SO GOOD.  He has blessed me with more than I could have ever imagined!  I believe God is making us even more compatible with each other though our weight loss journey.

5.  I Will Be Extra Fabulous at Forty!  I seriously am looking forward to this next decade of my life!  I will be starting it off in ARUBA with my HUSBAND, at my goal weight!  I never would have thought I'd be at this point in my life (Married AND going to ARUBA!) if you would have asked me 6 years ago.  God's plans are always Best!  Even if I look good enough to wear a bikini, I won't wear a bikini.  I have 5 surgery scars from my gallbladder removal just 6 months ago.  I'll wear a Tankini and look just as fabulous!

6.  Weight Watchers Works For Us!  Weight loss is one of those very personal issues that a person has to want to do on his/her own.  Did people tell me I should eat healthier and lose weight before?  Yes!  Was I ready to listen?  No!  But when I decided I WAS going to lose the weight and get healthier, nothing could stop me!  Well, I've had hiccups...like gaining 7.6 lbs on our Anniversary vacay.  It's not always smooth sailing.  We are human.  But we just keep on keeping on and persistence and following the Weight Watchers Points is giving us results.  Sometimes not as quickly as we'd like to see them, but we are seeing results.  I can now see pictures of myself and say...I sure look good!  I have gained confidence and pride in knowing that I am doing what I said I would do.

I'll post again when we get to our goal weights.  In the meantime, if you have any questions, about Weight Watchers, just let me know!  I will always need the boundaries of weight watchers.  I love food too much to not have the boundaries weight watchers provides in our lives.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Facebook Is My Crack - My New Plan Of Attack!

Hello, My Name Is J-La-Sta and I am a
I'm sure this admission comes as no surprise to the majority of my FB followers.  Before FB, I was addicted to Internet dating.  Yes, I am now a Married woman.  No, I am NOT still addicted to Internet dating!  I don't think that would sit too well with my Husband, and understandably so! :-) 
  • I am a very social person, so it is not surprising that I would be addicted to social media.  However, I've come to realize this about social media and in my case, Facebook:
In doing research on social media/facebook addiction, I've read that FB can be more addicting than drugs and alcohol.  I believe that, because it is for me!  But just as stated in the pic above, FB makes you feel that you're connecting with people when actually you're just not.  I agree that it is a form of connection with people you probably do know, or have known in real life, but it is no replacement for real human interaction, real human relationships.  
We've become a society that's so reliant on technology we've forgotten how to communicate with each other.We need to be not ruled by social networks. We need to go out there and actually connect to the world around us. Technology has made our life easier, but it's stopped us from connecting.We've become a disposable society; a society where relationships are no longer important. We basically use people as we use phones. We have one year contracts. It's time for us to really connect again because the world is becoming a disconnected place, right when we need each other most.  David Wygant

For the past few years now I've felt as if many people know what's going on in my life, without much effort on their part, because I post a lot of status updates on FB.  However, it takes more effort on my part to find out what is going on in their lives because they don't post on FB.  I have no one but MYSELF to blame!!  I think b/c I post on FB frequently, people may feel they know what is going on in my life.  Yes, they may know what is going on (although I don't post everything on FB believe it or not!), and that is the great thing about FB.  It keeps people up to date about the happenings in our lives in this very busy world.  But I miss real relationships.  Do I socialize outside of FB.  Yes!  Do I socialize enough outside of FB? No!  I want to get more connected at our Church and hopefully we will get plugged in to a Small Group soon!   
  • I think one of the reasons that I'm addicted to FB is that I have a fear of missing out!  Who likes the feeling of missing out?  No one that I know!

          It's not facebook, its crackbook - and we all suffer FOMO. 
Summary: FOMO -- fear of missing out is keeping us addicted to our social networking sites according to a new connecting and communicating study released today.
Eileen Brown

  • I think another reason that I'm addicted to FB is that I'm an approval addict as well.  Come on, admit it, does anyone else check FB to see who or how many people have "liked" your status update?  I have! Many times!

Not until I learn to remind myself of how little the opinions of others matter in deciding who I become in life will my social media addiction be entirely cured. It's not my use of the websites that trouble me, but my dependence on them to make me feel whole. Feeling complete should never be reliant on someone sitting at a computer pressing a button and accurately reflecting who I am online is impossible because no digitized photo album or self-aggrandizing "About Me" section will ever do me justice.
High School Senior
Jonathan Jacob Moore

“Our desire for approval can only truly be met by receiving God’s acceptance and approval of us.”  Joyce Meyer 

I've put FB above my relationship with God for FAR too long.  So what am I going to do about my addiction?  With HIS help, I will overcome my addiction.  Here are the steps I've taken/will take to wean myself of this addiction.  Do I think people should quit FB altogether?  No!  I believe that when used in moderation, it can be a very handy tool for communication, encouragement, etc. 

  1. Last night I created a new FB Password.  It is 15 letters/numbers long.  There is no way I could possibly remember it.  I then logged off of FB on my cell phone.  I deleted my FB and Twitter Apps on my phone. 
  2. I will only use FB on the laptop, which we moved out of the living room and into our guest room.  I will have the password written down there.
  3. I will start off by limiting myself to 20 minutes on FB in the morning (AFTER showering and my quiet time with God!), and I will allow myself to use FB for an hour and a half in the evening.  This is FAR FAR less time than I had been spending on it!  I will not have limits on yahoo, google, etc for now b/c I am not addicted to the Internet.  I am addicted to social media.

It’s like an eating disorder. You can’t eliminate food. You just have to make better choices about what you eat.” She added, “And what you do online.”  Katie Hafner

Please pray for me as I begin this weaning process!  I need all the prayers and encouragement I can get!  Just like I gradually weaned myself off of overeating via weight watcher's.  I will now wean myself off of FB gradually, till I reach a healthy amount of FB time for me!  I'm sure I will now have so much time that I won't know what to do with myself, but I'm sure I'll be tons more productive outside of work!  (Thankfully we can not go on FB or the Internet at work for personal use!)

I feel this is the last addiction (that I know of) that I need to confront.  Baby steps!

Here is a tool if you are curious to find out if you are addicted to FB or not:

Rate yourself on the Facebook Addiction Scale.
Record your responses -- very rarely, rarely, sometimes, often or very often -- to the six following statements.
•You spend a lot of time thinking about Facebook or plan to use Facebook.
•You feel an urge to use Facebook more and more.
•You use Facebook in order to forget about personal problems.
•You have tried to cut down on the use of Facebook without success.
•You become restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using Facebook.
•You use Facebook so much that it has a negative impact on your job/studies.
Now count up the number of times you answered "often" or "very often."

Quick Poll
Did you respond "often" or "very often" to four or more statements?

Yes -- Congrats! You're a Facebook addict like the rest of us.

No -- Woohoo! Your Facebook dependency hasn't reached the level of addiction.

Sara Gates


Saturday, July 20, 2013

My FPU Story

     There is FREEDOM in being debt free! But it hasn't always been that way for me! There is always hope! I'm hoping my story can give people hope to keep on keeping on! In September of 1998 I went to a consumer credit counselor b/c I couldn't pay my credit card bill...I was only paying the interest. I had 10K on a credit card. I had Student Loans. I had a car payment. I lived alone and had to pay rent. I had other bills. You get the idea! I was 24 years old. I was probably making 22K if that?? Life was tough! I didn't really budget and I will say that I wasn't the most responsible with my money...eating out (fast food) a lot, etc. The consumer credit counselor helped me, but would only work with my creditors if I cancelled my credit cards and no longer used them. It took me 5 years to pay off my CC.

     I have not used a credit card since September of 1998. 15 YEARS of not using a Credit Card and I've only had a second income (Jonathan) for 2 years. It was scary! I had no one to fall back on. But I needed to learn how to handle my money first. While Jonathan and I were dating he took Financial Peace University and I started Budgeting and working on the first few baby steps. We paid for our wedding without incurring any new debt. We came back from our 1 year anniversary vacay and paid off our last debt.   

     We just celebrated our 2nd Anniversary on July 8th! We were both single with no kids and had never been married. God is good! We now have a fully funded emergency fund and our goal is to bless others with what we have been given, travel a bit, and buy a condo in a few years. Jonathan just turned 38 and I will be 40 in January. We are very Blessed! So yes, I'm in a really good place right now, but I haven't always been. Just wanted to encourage those who get discouraged trying to make ends meet and get debt free. It IS possible. VERY Difficult, but it is possible! Keep on keeping on! You never know what tomorrow may bring!

     The hard work it takes is worth the FREEDOM that being debt free brings!

Friday, July 5, 2013

I Can't Believe This Is MY Life!

God has Blessed me with FAR more than I ever could have asked for or imagined!
I am overwhelmed with awe and thankfulness for the life I am living right now!  Is this really MY life?  Had I not gone thru years of challenges, difficulties and loneliness, I KNOW I wouldn't be even half as appreciative as I am today!  God is GOOD Now and He was GOOD Then!  It's just easier to see when life is going very well!

What I'm Thankful For
  • Undeserved and definitely unearned GRACE from my Savior Jesus!
  • MY HUSBAND.  I was single for 37.5 Years!  We will be celebrating our 2 Year Anniversary on July 8th and I couldn't be happier!  I am Married to my perfect match and now all of my single years make sense!  There was a purpose!  God was strengthening me thru the tough times.

  • The fact that we are DEBT FREE.  Yes, we worked very hard to get where we are at, but it was only because we are both Blessed with jobs.
  • VACATIONS!  We have this coming week off of work and get to spend it in Northern MI enjoying each other, and the beauty of God's creation!  We get to rest and get rejuvenated from our challenging start to the year (FIL passing and my hospitalization the same week - This was our last "vacation").  In  September we get to visit my MIL in WV, and in January we get to go to ARUBA where we will spend 7 nights at an all-inclusive resort.  It will be a nice break from the Indiana winter permacloud and  we will be celebrating my 40th Birthday.
  • HEALTH.  I am so very thankful for my health and the health of my Husband!  I had my dead and gangrenous gallbladder removed in March.  I was hospitalized for 3 nights.  Between my Husband and I we have collectively lost 123 lbs since February of 2012.  That's a whole person!  We are eating healthier and also walking.  We LOVE Weight Watchers Online! :)  We both feel SO much better and it's an Amazing feeling to be fitting into smaller sizes of clothing that we haven't worn in years!  I was prediabetic in Feb of 2012 and I am proud to say that I kicked prediabetes to the curb! :)
  • FAMILY & FRIENDS.  We have wonderful family and lots of wonderful friends.  We LOVE being "Aunt Jenny & Uncle Jonathan".  We are blessed to have lots of little (and many not so little anymore) ones to love and spoil!  What an Honor to be in these influential roles!
I know that life can change in an instant, but right now I'm thoroughly loving and enjoying this life that I am Blessed to live!  Thanks God!  :)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Live & Love With URGENCY!!!!

Life is short!  You may be thinking, "Yes, I have heard this many times before...blah blah blah!"  I know we have all probably heard this saying hundreds of times in our lives, but do we really believe it?  If we do really believe it, are we living like it is true? 
"Learn to live life with a sense of urgency, because even if you get to live a long one, it's still incredibly short.  Don't save things for a special occasion.  Go out and do the things you want to do, tell people how you really feel, and stop wasting time and energy on things that really don't matter."  AwesomeLifeTips.com

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a saver.  Friends gave us a bottle of chocolate wine as a Thank You gift in April.  I'm saving it for our 2 year Anniversary in July!  :-)  If it weren't for my Husband, I probably wouldn't have a whole lot of fun.  We really balance each other out!  I help him save more and he helps me spend more.  We make a great Team!  I think saving for Retirement is a very good and responsible thing to do.  However, I also know many people who never made it to Retirement age before they were called home to Heaven.  We are taking the advice of my late Father-In-Law and, while being financially responsible, we are planning to travel now, while we are relatively young and healthy.  There are no guarantees in life.

The following portions of Scripture also point out how short life is:

"Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom." Psalm 90:12 NLT

“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is. " Psalm 39:4 NLT

     Our days are numbered!  Two weeks ago a 6 year old girl was murdered by her father in our apartment complex.  This week I attended a visitation for a co-worker who was in his 20's.  A 22 year old son of a lady from my former Church died this week as a result of injuries suffered when he was shot 6 months ago.  A friend's Brother died at age 41 last year.  My Dad was 59 when he passed away on 12/8/1999.   My Husband's Dad was 67 when he passed away this February 26th.  You get the idea.  Not everyone lives to be 90 years old!  I've heard friends say things like "I'm not ready to lose my Mom/Dad yet!"  No one is EVER ready to lose a loved one!  However, when we will lose loved ones is completely out of our control.  It is up to God.  Loss hurts and it stings deep.  You never "get over it"!  But God is Good and He will heal your heart and enable you to comfort others with the comfort you have received.

     Those who know me, know that I am a Numbers Gal!  I love dates and numbers and countdowns! :)   I was blessed to have 25 Years 11 Months and 5 Days of having an earthly Dad.  That's 9,470 days!  My Dad has already been in Heaven for 13 Years 6 Months 1 Week and 1 Day.  That's 4,939 days!  A new Chapter of my life began when I started getting to know my now Husband.  That was 3 Years 8 Months and 1 Week ago!  That's 1346 Days!  My Husband and I were talking about what we miss about his Dad who passed away 3 Months and 3 Weeks ago.  Only 110 days ago.  He then asked me what I miss most about my Dad.  I told him I miss the fact that my Dad was analytical and the most like me, and the one person in my family who "got" me.  I've been thinking about my Husband's question a lot.  After 13.5 years, so much of my adult life has been lived without my Dad, that it's sometimes hard to remember what I miss about him.  There are now so many memories that don't include him.  This makes me sad.  No one can ever take his place, but last Father's Day was Awesome!  For the first time since my Dad passed away, I had a Father figure in my life....my Father-In-Law.  He loved me to pieces and always told me how great I was and how Jonathan and I light up a room when we walk into it, etc. etc. etc.  I miss him so much!  This is my Husband's first Father's Day not having an earthly Father.  Please keep him in your prayers.

I want to live my life as if everyday will be my last, or the last of those around me.  I am FAR from perfect, but I know if I look at life in that light, that I will treat others better.  I want them to see Jesus in me.  I want others to know that they are loved unconditionally, with an everlasting love!  I want them to know that there is life, hope, laughter, love...both here and in Eternity!

Will you do it?  Will you Live and Love like today is your last and/or the last of those around you?

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sudden Death vs. Anticipatory Grief

     Loss sucks!  Grieving sucks!  It's some tough stuff, and far from easy!  Death is very final.  It isn't fair!  Life isn't fair!  Yes, as Christians, we have peace and comfort in knowing that we will see our loved ones, who also love Jesus, in heaven again someday.  But we carry the pain of the loss of our loved ones with us for the rest of our earthly lives.  As time passes, the waves of grief grow fewer and farther between, but they still come.  These waves of pain come on our loved one's Birthday, on the anniversary of their death, and on important and meaningful events in our lives, like weddings, or the birth of a child..  It's not like just because we know they are in heaven and we will see them again someday, that we don't struggle with the loss and the void that is forever left in our lives, that no one else can possibly ever fill.  That's just completely unrealistic.  Even the Bible says "Jesus wept".

     I dealt with grief from a sudden death when my Dad passed way 12/8/1999 at the age of 59, from complications related to his Lupus.  I was 25 years old at the time.  My parents were still married at the time.  My Mom was a 47 year old widow and 2 months later was diagnosed with breast cancer.  She has now battled cancer for 13 years.  She is the strongest woman I know!  My Dad wasn't at my wedding.  No one else could fill that void.  No one is ever ready for the loss of a loved one, but with my Dad, I didn't see it coming.  A lot of deaths are like that.  No notice, no time to say good-bye, or to say the things you wished you had gotten to say.

     Recently I've been reading about a form of grief called "anticipatory grief".  "Anticipatory grief" is when you know the grief is coming, but it just hasn't arrived yet.  Per Edward Meyers, in his book, When Parents Die, "A sudden death hits you like an explosion," Myers explains, "and sends you into shock, whereas a slow decline arrives more like a glacier, massive and unstoppable, grinding you down."  My Husband and I are in the midst of anticipatory grief.  Eleven days ago, my Husband's Dad's Dr, called him to let him know that his Dad's lung cancer had spread to his brain.  His Dad is 67 years old.  He has a large tumor on the left side of his brain.  He was hospitalized for 10 days.  He is now back at the nursing home.  There is no cure.  He wouldn't survive surgery.  He is halfway thru his radiation treatments.  The radiation will not cure him, it will only help decrease the symptoms.  He is getting progressively worse.  Having experienced the grief from a sudden death, and now experiencing "anticipatory grief", I found Myers description to be extremely accurate! 

"Anticipatory grief does feel heavy, and it is unstoppable, dragging you down. But that quote from Myers made us stop and think. The alternative to a slow death is a quick death. What if mom had died suddenly in a car accident? Or had a massive, fatal heart attack? We would have missed these past months of closeness. The time to say the things we wouldn't have had time to say, to give the hugs, to share in one more meal, one more picture, one more smile. We have had the time to say good-bye. There will be no regrets on that frontier." via this blog
It is very hard watching Keith's health decline.  We are exhausted, both physically and emotionally, but we will have no regrets.  We have had almost 5 months of "closeness, hugs, telling him we love him, showing him we love him, visiting with him, calling him, etc, etc."  I had regrets when Dad died, I still do.  But, I also didn't have to watch him slowly decline, and didn't have to see him suffer.  I am in a much better place in life now.  I am more established.  I am older.  Yes, loss is hard at any age.  But a 25 year old doesn't expect to lose a parent that early in life.  I am thankful Jonathan and I have each other to lean on for support during this difficult time.  I am also thankful that we will have no regrets when God calls Keith home, and that we heeded God's calling to step up and care for Keith.  We love Keith because God first loved us.  Thank you to those of you who sent him a Christmas card or any other type of card!  He was overwhelmed by your outpouring of love and support!  He knows he is loved, by God and by us, and that is all that matters.

Please keep Keith and our family in your prayers during the days, weeks, and months ahead. 

Thank you! :)

Lamentations 3: 21-26:

21 Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.
26 So it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.