Sunday, March 29, 2015

Goodbye, my sweet girl...

Today was a hard day. Today we said goodbye to our dog, Midnight. We found out that she had inoperable bladder cancer (TCC). She couldn't even urinate because the tumor was blocking her urethra. On the outside, she appeared fine -- totally the same. But she was dying. And it breaks my heart.

We rescued Midnight in September of 2008 when she was 5 years old. I remember when I first saw her. Not only was she my favorite type of dog (a black lab/shepherd mix), her name was Midnight -- the same name as the dog I had growing up. To me, it was a sign that she was meant for us.

When my son was born in November of 2009, I watched her mothering nature emerge. We had a cat then too, and Midnight would lay in front of the downstairs bassinet when Edmund was in it, making sure that the cat came no where near my baby or the bassinet. :)

In 2010, we discovered a large tumor on her front leg. Turned out it was cancerous and we had to make some tough decisions then. We removed the tumor, but to get the whole tumor and some margins, we had to treat it as an open wound. Every week I would take Midnight and my baby (only months old) to get her bandages changed. Her leg healed great and they were able to get all the cancer!

Five years later, she has another tumor and a different cancer and we are unable to beat it.

My kids have laid on, sat on, and loved her. From the time our daughter, Elise, was mobile, she would snuggle up to the dog. She has always cared deeply for her. In fact, this past week at one of Midnight's appointments, Elise sat next to her on the ground to calm Midnight, and pretended to read a book to her.

Midnight was an incredibly loving dog. She was an anxious dog, but she slowly got less anxious. She only barked when people came to the door and preferred to be inside or go on walks rather than play in the backyard.

I pray we were good owners to her. That she felt cared for. That she felt loved. That she understood that we had no choice. I never imagined how much I would miss my dog. I knew she was old and that her time with us was getting short, but it just seemed to happen so quickly.

We love you, Midnight, and we miss you!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Loved and Adored...Keeping It Real

Since I was a teenager, I have obsessed over my weight. I was a normal-weight child growing up. I was taller than a lot of my friends, which added to making me feel bigger, but I wasn't overweight. When I was in 5th grade, however, I lost 11 pounds and all of my "baby weight."

I've always played sports and exercised and it was around that time that I started eating healthier. Unfortunately, I was constantly critical of how I looked, comparing myself to others, and feared gaining weight. I have the most amazing, supportive, and loving parents -- this was totally from the things I heard in the world around me. I was a perfectionist and this was just a piece of it.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7b-9, the apostle Paul talks about the thorn in his flesh: "So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." For so long, I considered my body image issues to be the thorn in my flesh -- something I would always deal with, but that God would use to keep me relying on him.

I eventually went to counseling to work on my perfectionist issues and my first heart-to-heart talk with my husband (we were just starting our friendship) was about my struggle with body image -- something that I never confessed to anyone (although I'm sure they all knew it). It was a sign that God was working in me, but I continued to struggle to see myself as God sees me.

Fast forward 6.5 years...November 20, 2011, my second child, my little girl was born. I always thought that I wanted all boys, but God knew that I needed a girl. I realized immediately that I never wanted my little girl to struggle with body image issues like I had. I stopped criticizing myself every time I looked in the mirror and, instead, chose to the beautiful ways God had made me, marveling in the new curves left from carrying two children, remembering that I was in my 30s and not 18 ;), and thankful that I was fit and healthy.

My journey has brought me to a place of truly understanding what it means to be healthy and be strong. On those days when I don't feel my greatest, I pray to God to change my heart and see through his eyes, and I push the negative thoughts out of my mind before they can take hold of me.

And I never talk about my looks or weight in a negative way to anyone. I am thankful for how God has made me. I am his child. I am adored. I am loved.

My husband loves me and adores me as I am and so does my Lord. That's all I need.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Traveling Essentials

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my family went to Disney World for vacation. It was such a wonderful time! And I made sure that just because I was on vacation, I didn't stop keeping a healthy and chemical-free life.

First of all, I brought my Nutrimeal shakes and blender bottle with me. Every morning, before we left for the day, I had my Nutrimeal shake (with peppermint oil) to get my day started off great. Not only did it set me up to succeed for the day with eating well, but it also kept me "regular." Now this may be a little TMI, but I'm sure many of you can relate. Often when I travel, things get a little backed up (I get constipated). Nutrimeal contains a lot of fiber, so not once did I have any issues. Woohoo!

Secondly, I brought my oils with me. Which ones? Peppermint, Lavender, Raven (for my asthma), Xiang Mao, Sclar Essence, Progessence Plus, Thieves (along with my Thieves spray and Thieves hand sanitizer), and Aroma Siez. I carried them with me to every park. I had every thing I needed to keep us free from germs and feeling great!

Finally, call me crazy, but I brought my Norwex body cloth and makeup remover cloth. Yes, I brought my own wash cloths with me. Why? Because hotel soaps are the worst and I don't even use soap at home. What?! Yep, I use the body cloths with just use water to clean me. They are imbedded with silver that kills all the bacteria. I feel incredibly clean and don't have to worry about any weird soap residue or chemicals. Same with the makeup remover cloths.

So, it is possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle while on vacation as long as you plan ahead and pack accordingly. We had an amazingly fun vacation and I can't wait to go back!

How do you keep things healthy when you go out of town?

Monday, March 02, 2015

And I Thought I Loved You Then...

Eight years ago today, I married my soulmate and best friend. Back then, I had no idea how amazing my life would be. Back then, I had no idea how being a parent would grow my heart to a new level and make our marriage even deeper. Back then, I had no idea how rich and fulling marriage could be. I had no idea what love was -- I love this man more with every passing second.

Brad Paisley's song "Then" says it perfectly: "Now you're my whole life, now you're my whole world. I just can't believe the way I feel about you, girl. Like a river meets the sea, stronger than it's ever been. We've come so far since that day, and I thought I loved you then...what I can't see is how I'll ever love you more, but I've said that before." You can listen to it here:

Our marriage has shown me what grace and forgiveness is all about. I am a better person because of my husband. He has shown Christ to me and pointed me to Christ. He respects me, honors me, cherishes me, cares for me, and loves me continuously.

Thank you, Father God, for blessing me with this amazing man. There no one else with whom I would rather spend the rest of my life.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Making Memories

This past week my parents took my family (Walter, Edmund, Elise, and me) to Disney World. We had an amazing trip with so many wonderful memories and so many firsts. In many ways, it the first real family vacation my little family has taken (outside of going to the lake every summer). It was my kids' first time on a plane. And it was my kids' and husband's first time at Disney World.

We returned late last night, and I think I'm the one having the toughest time returning to reality. ;) I loved being able to constantly be outside in the warmer weather instead of stuck inside with the cold and snow. I loved the constant busyness/movement, which I love so much more than just sitting around and doing nothing. I loved having the majority of the people I loved most surrounding me and experiencing everything together for the entire week (we all stayed in a two bedroom condo). But mostly, I loved watching the pure joy, delight, and excitement in my children's faces as they met another character, went on another ride, saw another park.

I am so thankful for the wonderful family that I have -- not just my husband and kids, but my amazing parents who treated us to this trip and showed such love, grace, patience, and endurance during the trip. Mom and Dad, you are the greatest and I am SO thankful for you!

I'll post more about the trip later, but here are some fun photos for your enjoyment. ;)