life in the middle of a sandwich…

I remember the first time I ever heard the term “sandwich generation”. Since I am always interested in all things food, I was instantly curious. As I began to read the article, I quickly realized it had nothing to do with food, and everything to with life. The “sandwich generation” is the generation that had their kids late in life and thereby still has children in the home when they begin to deal with the concerns of aging parents. I did the math. I would definitely qualify.

Here I am several years later living life smack dab in the middle of the sandwich. I have graduated one from our homeschool, but I have 2 more still here at home. My folks have been fine until just a few months ago. A fall, a broken hip, surgery, rehab, another fall, another surgery…

Now mom and I are looking at long term care for my dad. His condition continues to deteriorate. It is heart wrenching, overwhelming, and yes, sometimes it even looks hopeless. My mom is lonely, tired, and I am sure a little afraid.

So here I am living the “sandwich” life and I must say the internal pressure can be intense. I am continually learning what it means to “lay it all down”. The reality is that I can’t be enough. I am powerless to really make a difference, we all are. But God… grace, strength, peace, hope, discernment. He is the difference maker. He sees me, he see my dad and my mom. He sees my children and my husband. He is not caught by surprise at our situation, for this I am thankful.

If you feel like it, please say a prayer for my folks.

the blog post I shouldn’t ever write…

If I were brave enough to type the words that are running through my mind, it wouldn’t be pretty. That’s real life though. We all have days and series of days where our emotions, physical limitations, and our humanity get the best us and we crumble into a heap of ugliness. The cool thing is that it doesn’t have to last forever… Learning to give thanks and looking for the gifts in my life can help lift me above myself. So, maybe I should write this blog. Maybe, just maybe, this is the healing process. Sharing my thoughts without writing them down. I think we all can relate. No need to give the nitty gritty details. The details and names change, but the story is the same: we are a people in need of a savior… Grace is our only hope, and grace is all we need.

how can I keep silent?

Most of the responses to my blog come in the form of emails or private messages on facebook. I am blown away by how people relate to my struggles and are encouraged. When I read words like I received this morning in response to “The Long and Winding Road” I am the one who is encouraged…

“Does He still love me and accept me. (of course He does, but internal dialoge can be brutal) But, over and over you and your words would just pop to rememberance like a life line about God’s grace. I’m serious…God was using you, girl, to be a blessing to others in the midst of your own struggles. Grace. sometimes I could “feel” that word push through all the static and I would force myself to just concentrate on it and what it means and not let any other voice steal it away. Why do we like to beat ourselves up so much? lol, of course it would take God allowing me to be stuck in the hospital to get my attention…but, I heard and I’m listening, medically speaking I have no choice now. Trying to get off as many meds as I can. I’m so very happy for you that things are working out better. May God’s grace continue to abound in your life and bless you with good health! Love you, girlfriend.”

Wow, God is a God of grace…

the long and winding road…

June 2010 I started my fat to fit journey. Greg and I committed to set aside the funds and the time for me to work with a personal trainer for one year. I had no way of knowing what that year would bring or where I would be at its end. For 12 months straight, without fail, I worked out 3-5 times a week. I took workout clothes and swimsuits on trips. I worked out, swam laps, and watched what I ate even on an anniversary getaway. I had a year to do this and I was determined to make it work… I hadn’t ever been that committed, I hadn’t ever faced a harder task. Don’t misunderstand, the physical part was hard. I had more days with sore muscles than I had days that were pain free (no pain, no gain), but the physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional angst I experienced. See, I failed. My plan didn’t bring about the results I wanted; in fact one year to the day, I weighed exactly the same as I did on the day I started! What? How can this be?

I’ll never forget how back in February of 2011 my weight loss came to a screeching halt, and then I started to gain… Each time I would step on the scale I weighed more than I did the time before. I began to workout harder, eat less, go gluten free, protein shake fasts, whatever I could think of. I was in panic mode. I was tired, but not your ordinary every day tired. I was, face plant at any moment, tired! I began to deal with depression… how can I be failing again? In the past I knew I had failed to lose weight because I wasn’t consistent. Well, I was consistent, and it wasn’t working.

I finally found my answer in a simple blood test, my thyroid had stopped working. I was anemic, I had hormone imbalance, and I lacked vitamin D. Great! Now we can fix this and get back on track. Did you know that it can take months to regulate your thyroid? It can, and it has. But, 6 months later after starting medicine, my thyroid is functioning and I feel like I have my life back. I returned to my workouts and felt like finally it would all come together. Not yet, let’s take another detour on this journey. This detour is called knee surgery! I injured my ACL and my meniscus. I am happy to report that less than 3 weeks after my surgery I am walking with only a slight limp and I am riding a stationary bike.
Even though the road has been long and winding with many detours, I can say I am stronger and healthier than when I started.

I have started to lose weight again, but what I have learned is so much more important:

I am strong
I can follow through with commitment
I can’t make things right, and that’s fine
I have a God who uses the winding roads to take us on detours of grace
I really do care more now about being healthy than being thin
I know the journey is more important than the destination

how did we become so numb?

It has troubled me lately that we just keep rolling along seemingly oblivious to the crisis all around. I plan parties and trips, shop for new clothes, search home decor ideas, and go out to eat; all the while our land is dying. The earth is suffering from drought that shakes me to my core. Everywhere I look I see the signs of drought and unrelenting heat; ponds dried up and completely gone, grass and plants shriveled, cracks in the yard. Shouldn’t we do something? Store water, pray more, something…
The spiritual state of our land is no better. Families are in crisis. Our bodies suffer from overstuffing ourselves with nutrient empty calories. We search for the perfect pill, the newest fad, the easiest surgical procedure… anything to make it better. Yet what we really need, we refuse to do. Turn off the TV, go to bed on time, take a walk, talk to our families…

God forgive me
God help me
God save us

This is the starting place of grace, realizing our own helplessness; our powerlessness. Only God, only grace, only love. This is what I need to do. Accept his peace, experience his grace, practice contentment, express gratitude, and share his love. He truly is our hope and our source of joy.

words that I can’t shake…

savor
slow down
be comfortable with the mystery of Christianity
rest
intentional
look hard
really listen
simplify
passion
peace
priority
live fully
live in the now
don’t wish this away
find the joy in the moment
be content

I’ve been really busy lately; play practice added to all my normal mom things. Yet, I am determined to still enjoy life’s little pleasures and the comfort they bring. The picture above was my feeble attempt at tea time. I was letting my Yerba Mate steep on the way to play practice and then I drank it out of my Red Cup cup. Not exactly what I dream about, but it served the purpose. It was a joy moment, a gift of grace in the hurry of my life. I’m looking for those moments intently, praying I don’t let this summer rush by. Thus, the list of words and phrases I have felt stirring inside. They are bringing me focus and restoring my joy.

gifts are everywhere… we just have to notice them

I’ve been counting my way to joy. Learning that truly the only way to true joy is a heart tuned into God’s grace and His limitless love gifts. Grace, contentment, and gratitude lead to joy… glorious undeserved, fulfilling, life sustaining, strength producing JOY! Join me as I count my gifts

#76-#91

#76 rain
#77 covered patio
#78 peppermint tea
#79 love of my life

#80 sounds of laughter as my kids wash dishes
#81 watching my oldest make a mature, selfless, and wise decision
#82 inside jokes
#83 words of encouragement whispered in my ear
#84 unconditional acceptance
#85 another homeschool year put on the books
#86 grace
#87 dreams that overshadow doubts
#88 weeding the garden
#89 florescent green life poking through rich dark soil
#90 clean folded laundry
#91 guitars around the campfire

a song of hope…

what does it mean to trust,
to sing when you can’t find your voice?
how do we walk this long road,
how do we make faith our choice?

we sing when it doesn’t make sense
we sing when our hearts are weighed down
we lift up a song to our God
our hope, our trust, our King

broken and humbled we come
depending upon your great grace
feeling the weight of our sin
thankful that love took our place

we trust
we hope
we wait in faith

grace… but I have to do something!

I think I finally have a glimmer of hope in understanding grace. My husband and I have been on a journey learning about grace for over 2 years now. While I fully embrace the concept of grace for salvation and grace in forgiveness, I have failed to grasp how I can allow grace to be enough to right the wrongs in me and those around me. I mean really, I know I can’t “fix” situations, but what about the wrongs inside of me? If I don’t make a plan and work that plan I’ll just slip further down the slippery slope into the abyss of my own selfishness and sin. I have to do something! No, I don’t. These words have been resonating in my heart ever since I heard them spoken by a friend earlier today, “We need to trust that God will put the right desires in us. We must stop putting more stock in the power of man, than in the power of God.” Inhale deeply and exhale slowly … yes, that’s it. I no longer say that I NEED to read my Bible to be close to God, I now say that I trust God to place the desire in me to WANT to read my Bible. Is this a matter of mere semantics? I think not. I think it is this refocus of my heart that sets me free from the frustration of impossible standards I place on myself.

God, you do it all
You created me
You love me
You long to lead me
You are everything

I rest
I learn to listen
I breath in your peace
I walk in your grace

In Him we live and move and have our being…

my word for the year…

I have been hearing people talk about their word of the year and I began to seek out a word that might define the vision for my life in 2011. I kept thinking of a particular word that I felt surely couldn’t be my word. Maybe I was intercepting the word of the year for someone else. I have often manufactured this word in my mind, chastising myself about needing to be more of this. But, I was kind of depressed when I realized that yes, truly this was the word for me…

QUIET

Now, after you pick yourself up off the floor from laughing, let me explain. I shared my word with Greg today and his response was classic, “oh great, so this means I’m gonna have to do all the talking.” We had recently had a conversation about how in most of his relationships he is the one who listens while the other person talks. I have learned to wait and give him the time he needs. I used to often mistake his commas for periods! He has always impressed me with his ability to think through his words before he speaks. (a skill I am still trying to develop) Of course we both quickly realized that while I could stand to keep my mouth shut a little more often, that wasn’t the real reason and meaning of the word “QUIET” for me.

I have longed to have a gentle and quiet spirit, the one that the Bible teaches is precious to God. I mean who doesn’t want to be precious to God. I have also been longing to quiet the negative talk I play over and over in my mind, the voices of perfectionism screaming out their accusatory lines of condemnation. I want to quiet the fear that can so easily overwhelm me. I want to quite the bickering between my children. I want to quiet the “noise” of busyness and clutter… Yes, this is the word for me.

It became profoundly real in my life that I needed to meditate on this word and all that it holds just this morning. I took a phone call from my mom that had the potential to cause feelings that were completely opposite of quiet. She spoke that word that causes fear, helplessness, dread… the word, cancer. My mom has been diagnosed with cancer. After the initial shock and sadness, I began to feel God work this precious word of quiet in my spirit.

It is what it is
I can only do what I can do
God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness
God didn’t give us a spirit of fear; but of power, love, and a sound mind
Be still (quiet) and know that I am God
Peace I give you…
God’s grace is sufficient

So I think on those things… I quiet the voices of the negative, and I rest in His peace.