Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mesh all a MESS

Another bout of insomnia...so I blog. Will ya pray for me? I love starting a blog post like this. I have this friend who is constantly saying, "pray for me!!” -always in complete desperation of her situation. Not that it is a bad thing to need prayer- I think we all need it daily. But still, every conversation seems to breed a whole new prayer chain- it has sort of been a bee in my bonnet for a while. I find it very amusing that I am now taking a feather out of her book. This may be the Lord providing an opportunity for a little growth in my heart...maybe an attempt to build a little more compassion a friend. Hmmm...so I humbly ask...If you pray...will you think of me? Here's why. Last May I had surgery to correct a pretty significant hernia in my belly. I have experienced chronic pain and several serious infections ever since. Last week, I woke up to another infection along the incision line. My entire lower abdomen was bright red and just plain gross. It really scared me as the last time it had gotten that infected; I ended up in the hospital for several days. This time, I wasted no time getting to an ER doctor for some antibiotics. I then made an appointment for my family doctor to see if I needed to get a second opinion about the whole thing. I mean really... how much more of this can I take? It has almost been 8 months since this saga began. My family doctor told me not to get a second opinion because doctors will play the blame game...it was the other one's fault... and then I may be in pain for the rest of my life. He said, "Go back to the man who did this to you and tell him to fix it". So that is exactly what I did. Yesterday, I saw the surgeon again. He is a very kind man and I respect him greatly. He looked at my belly and became pretty grave. This has to be the scariest thing someone could go through. You know that old expression- the eyes are the window to the soul. I totally get that! He basically told me that there may be an issue with the meshing they used in the hernia repair and that he may need to remove it and then use a biological meshing instead. Then he said some magical words... abdomen reconstruction...in other words a medically necessary tummy-tuck. He said that the excess skin around my abdomen may be causing extra drag against my incision and could be part of the issue. He said that if they did a new repair it would benefit healing to remove the excess skin. Clearly I have some serious skin issues on my belly. Let’s be honest here- after having bariatric surgery I lost a lot of weight and there is just no way around the skin issues. So I had pondered a tummy-tuck once or twice...ahem... But I guess I never thought I would really be able to afford to do it. So I put it into the "someday I wish upon a star" category. I never thought the decision would be sort of made for me in this way. Sort of a blessing in disguise but the reality is; it is still major surgery. So I went from just imagining life without the extra 30 lbs of hanging skin to facing the reality of weeks of pain and suffering that come with this kind of surgery. I'm not sure I am up for it. In a couple of hours I am scheduled to have a CAT scan on my belly to see if this mesh is infected and I guess to plan a course for my surgeon. And I cannot sleep- so I cling to the promises of God. If you are the praying sort and feel led to do so...will ya pray for me? I could really use it. 1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Philippians 4:4-9 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Insomnia and the thankful soul

Insomnia is not always the curse that it seems on the surface. I mean- it really does suck and all but there are some redeeming things about it. The first one that I can think of is there is some valuable alone time for me. It is rare that I ever have a moment alone so I will embrace this in spite of the fact that it really sucks. So on Sunday, our church had the once a month communion service. It is always a time that I personally cherish. It is really cool to have that time to just reflect on the Lord. I love it. Recently, Russ and I started going to the early service our church offers. It seems better for our schedule because our small group meets shortly after the second service but there is a little snafu- our church is very new and so there is no Sunday School or the older kids during the first service. This week our oldest daughter, Maddie, was with us for the first time during a communion service as there was no Sunday School. At our old church, communion was emphasized as a weekly thing (the Christian Church)and all of the kids were insturcted frequently on the meaning and importance of Communion (pretty cool!). So our Maddie knew exactly what to do. That was very comforting because I didn't need to explain anything... she had it. Awesome! So we prayed and went to get our bread and juice together. It was one of those special moments as a parent that we all love; seeing your child understand Communion, understand a part of the Lord. It is really amazing to me to see my children grow up before my eyes. One moment they are laying on my chest and need me for everything and the next thing I know they are making their own decisions and finding their way in this scary world. In some ways I celebrated this sort of rite of passage and in another I was shaken. How my girls are growing way too fast. What an incredible gift it is to be a parent. I am thankful. See, now this is what insomnia is all about for me...I have time to really reflect on what a wonderful life it is that I have been given. That's really something.

And so it begins...sourdough

Well I'm sure this post will be all kinds of boring. I mean really- who wants to read about sourdough? But here we are. So I promised that there would be pictures. I mean to deliver. I have been meaning to post this for a long while but life got in the way... C'est la vie... Now it is 2:00 in the morning and again I cannot sleep... so with a glass of wine in my hand and a cookbook on my lap- I blog. :) I have no pictures right now, but don't judge me... I am a Mom of three and it's 2:00 in the morning! It started out all well and fine. Flour, yeast, water...beautiful.It is important to remember temperature whenever dealing with yeast. Too cold will retard the yeast and too hot will kill it. So keep it warm to the touch about 105 to 115 degrees. I use a thermometer to be sure but I have been told by several different sources that you can just tell by touch. Well...I guess I don't trust enough. Ha! Here is the recipe that I used and surprise surprise... it came right out of my Southern Living Cookbook~Best wedding present ever!! Thank you, whoever you are! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sourdough Starter -1 pkg active dry yeast -1/2 C. Warm Water (105 to 115) -2 C. Flour -3 Tbs. Sugar -1 tsp. Salt -2 C. Warm Water -Starter Food Instructions!! -Combine yeast and 1/2 C. Warm Water in a cup. Let stand for 5 minutes. -Combine Flour, Sugar and Salt in a med sized glass or ceramic bowl (stir well). Stir in 2 C. Warm Water. Add Yeast mixture and mix well. -Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 72 hours, stir 3x a day. Place fermented mixture in fridge and stir once a day. Use within 11 days. -To Use: Remove sourdough starter from fridge and let stand at room temp for an hour. -Stir starter well and measure amount of starter needed. Replenish remaining starter with Starter Food and return to the fridge. Use within 2 to 14 days. Whenever you use the starter- use replenish procedure again. Starter Food 1 C. Flour 1 C. Water 1 tsp. Sugar -Stir all ingredients into remaining Sourdough Starter.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Love Blindness

Two years ago I had gastric bypass surgery. It was not an easy decision to make and there were many people in my life that were against it. Just moments before I went into surgery I met this kind of crazy guy who told me something I have never forgotten, he said, "You are no longer a fat person. When you leave this place you are no longer a fat person. There will be people in your life that will always think of you as a fat person and won't be able to stand the change. Let go of the people who only saw fat and embrace the ones that have always loved you for you." Although I thought what he said was so nice, I couldn't help but question. I mean, my friends all loved me for me. Right? Everyone was going to be happy for me as I began my life as a normal sized person. At least that was what I thought.
After a few months of weight loss, I would post pictures of myself onto Facebook. The compliments as well as the questions started flying in. I was loving it. People were happy for me. The resistance I had felt prior to my surgery was over and now I could enjoy my new journey to a healthy life.
Then Russ and I took the girls to the Happiest Place on Earth. Four months after my surgery, we were at Walt Disney World (WDW). I had dropped 50 lbs and was already feeling smaller. I was just under 300 lbs at the time but I was able to fit in my airplane seat without a seat belt extender and that was amazing. One of the days at WDW, we visited the Country Bear Jamboree. I have vivid memories of that place as a child and thought nothing of bringing our girls there. Once the show got started I noticed that there was a very large bear that the other bears kept making BIG jokes about. Oh boy, I did not expect that. I kept thinking of my daughters watching this and was imagining what they would be thinking. Did they know their mother was one of the largest people in the room. Would they be ashamed of me? How would this effect their own self image. It really bothered me and honestly, I lost a lot of respect for WDW.
As the months went on, I discovered that I was pregnant. This was happy but alarming too. What would happen to the baby? I was just at the beginning of my weight-loss journey and now they wanted me to gain 25 to 30 lbs. But I continued to grow smaller and my pregnancy was actually very healthy. My baby was born with no complications and was even over due! No gestational diabetes just Joy! An added bonus-with my other pregnancies, no one knew I was pregnant until I was just about to deliver. Not this time- I had a perfect little baby bump and I loved it. Here is a picture of me in 2005 with my first pregnancy.
Here I am in 2011 with my last pregnancy... wow. After I had my beautiful baby my body started to change into a normal sized person. I was wearing a size 16 and then a 14 and now a 12. Still, I look in the mirror and see a 350 lb woman. I have no idea what clothes to buy for myself or what would look good on my body. I struggle with this last 30 lbs that just won't come off while my husband tells me I am small enough. A little side note- My husband is such an encourager. Russ has never asked me to lose or gain a pound. He is my greatest fan and I am so thanful for him. His love for me is blind and my love is blind for him.
A couple of months ago, I attended a vow renewal for a friend who was married just days after I graduated from high school. There was a friend there who I had not seen in at least 15 years and I was very excited to visit with her. After the ceremony, she pretended not to know me. This was so upsetting to me that I cried for several days afterward. Why did she do that? We had been very good friends at one time- I was deeply hurt. A few weeks later at my 20th high school reunion, I discovered the reason. She was bothered by my weight loss and her own weight gain. What? I was floored. I had been looking forward to talking and catching up with a friend. But were we ever really friends? This is what that guy had warned me about. There would be people in my life that would always see me as a fat person and relish in it. Those people enjoyed being not as bad as that one. What a terrible thing to do. I started to notice comments of the people in my life. It breaks down like this; 1. Friends that do not notice you have lost any weight. 2. Friends who notice a weight loss but just say, "You look great" or "You look so different". 3. "Friend" that cannot stop talking about how much weight you have lost. The first set of friends, I think are the real friends. They are the ones who loved me and never saw the extra layers of fat they just saw me. I think that is kind of a special love blindness. The other two categories make me a little nervous and are the ones I find it difficult to trust. I think the world hates fat people. They look at a fat person and can only see the extra pounds and the heavy breathing. Or maybe they see something that they do not like in themselves and it is comforting to say, "At least I'm not as bad as her!". They rarely look at the person before them who is in a struggle just like they are-they just can't hide it because they are wearing it. I am so thankful that I was able to lose this weight but not just to fit into what society deems beautiful. I am thankful because I can breathe again, I can run up stairs and I can sleep at night. I chase my kids and can fit into small spaces without fear of getting stuck. It is a new life for me and for my family. That extra 170 pounds was killing me- slowly but surely. Losing so called friends...well there is a little bit of saddness there. I loved my friends in spite of their flaws. I'm sort of grateful for the experience as now maybe I will have compassion for my fellow man. We are all fighting our own battles and we are all venerable in our own ways. Love is blind they say...well, I have to agree. We could all use a little Love-Blindness.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Saga of the Sourdough Starter

I am a chronic suffer-er of insomnia. This hasn't always been true of me. It's only become a real problem in the last two years. It began when I was pregnant with my youngest daughter, Caroline. It's extremely annoying to me but I will say that I have used the time it allows for some serious thinking. So tonight is one of those nights where I cannot get my body to cooperate. I can hear snoring upstairs where my wonderful husband and three beauties are sleeping. Bless them all...but what to do? So I started thinking about my last post. I mentioned a Sourdough Starter that I learned to make when I was in my early twenties. I tried to remember the recipe but it just wasn't coming to me. I got out my trusty-dusty The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook (my absolute favorite wedding present from-I have no idea who!!). Sure enough there in the sticky pages was the recipe for a Sourdough Starter! I swear-this cookbook has everything in it! Don't you just love that! Actually, many of the pages are stuck together where I have spilled food on the page...messy cook! Cut me some slack people...I've been using this cookbook for 10 years! It has been my inspiration for countless recipes. To be honest, it is one of the only cookbooks that I will use because I'm not the best recipe follower-but I love to read cookbooks to get ideas for my own recipes. I think it is because I don't like over complicated recipes...or over complicated anything for that matter. I mean really-why do it to yourself? Get this totally over-priced piece of meat and this ridiculous slab of cheese that you will only use in this one recipe and then cook it for 15 hours over low heat stirring every half hour while balancing on one foot. Ok-maybe I exaggerate slightly...you get what I am saying! Some things in your life don't have to be so darn complicated to really enjoy. But here I have gone off my subject-Sourdough Starter. So now I am looking at this recipe and quite honestly, why was I so afraid of it? You can keep it in the fridge (not a science project on your counter!!) and you only stir it once a day. I can handle that. So tomorrow...I'm gonna make it and see where we go from here! I will post my picture and result in my science fair project Sourdough Starter! Wish me luck! I am planning a meal to bring a family in just a few weeks and they may be my next victims getting some awesome beef vegetable and barley soup with sourdough rolls. Pictures and recipes to follow soon...Maybe.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

For the love of soup.

A million years ago when I had just graduated from high school, I made friends with a Pastor and his wife. At the time, they had six kids, no money and therefore needed to make their meals go as far as possibly. So they had soup and rolls...a lot. If there was a roast one night, the next day there was beef soup. Whatever was on sale could be made into some sort of wonderful warm splendor. At the time, I was eighteen years old and knew absoultely nothing about cooking. But my friend (Elizabeth) loved me and was a very patient teacher. So we made soup and bread together, feeding hungry little mouths with this amazing warm stuff. Funny how the time flies and now I am making soup and bread for my (much smaller) family. What I learned is that most soups start with the same basic ingredients that most people already have on hand; fat (butter or oil), onions, celery, carrots and liquid. I learned that chicken stock was your friend and that a sour dough starter on your counter (with a little care and love) could last the rest of your life. Life lessons- I'm tellin' ya! Then about 10 years ago, I wrote a bucket list that included "learn to bake bread" on it. Well, it took some time but I accomplished that goal and make a pretty wicked yeast bread. Yum! I still love the idea of sour dough starters and stuff like that but I'm not big on having things growing on my counter...at least not at this stage in my life. If I am not eating at Panera Bread (ahem)...I love to make soup for my own family. When the weather turns colder and the leaves are falling from the trees I start thinking about all the soups I can make. There is just something so comforting about soup. My favorite soup is vegtable beef with cream of chicken and rice as a close second. This all leads me to wonder- what's your favorite soup? Would you want someone to bring that to you as a meal? And if you had a cookbook called "Can I bring you a meal"...well, would you like a soup and bread section? And honestly, I need someone to bring a meal to-so I can practice. Seriously people!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

what defines me.

I am very close with my sister and so it is not uncommon for us to say uncomfortable things to oneanother. The other day she brought it to my attention that I had been focusing on one unfortunate moment I had experienced. Someone had been unkind to one of my children and instead of forgiving that person- well, I was letting this one moment of unkindness define my opinion. I mulled it over in my mind for a while. How often do I do this? This pattern of unforgiveness. It seems all so innocent. I mean- who hasn't heard the expression- "I will forgive you but I won't forget". Oh man, that is wrong thinking...but isn't that just what I did? I follow several blogs of people that have experienced some serious life altering moments. Lately, I started to notice a pattern in their posts- that one moment finding it's way into every blog post, every conversation, every facet of life... Very defining. That one moment. Their lives are now circling around a new necules. That one moment (no matter how brief) is now defining their entire world. The other day, my daughter Maddie was crying. As I sat comforting her, I questioned her as to what made her cry. She said, "Why did God let that happen?". Wow...isn't that what we all want to know. The answer seems so trite, "I don't know, honey. God's plan is different from ours. I just don't know." While those words are so true, they seem empty. I wanted more from my own answer. God, why did You allow this to happen? That question seems to haunt my mind at both weak and strong moments. But what I think is that it all breaks down to forgiveness or perhaps our unforgiveness. We have been wronged and there is no denying it! We all want justice. We want the wrong-righted. The Bible tells us to forgive...and we shout to all that we are forgiving just not forgetting. Because we want justice and it in our opinion justice has not been served yet. But somehow I think it goes beyond just forgiving the person or incident that has wronged us...it's about forgiving God for allowing it to happen to us and trusting that His plan is good. But who is in control here? Truely. Am I trying to be in control and therefore do not trust the God who created me? Funny how my eyes began to see beyond my own hurt and my own anger...when I realized maybe God was trying to do something here. Maybe God was allowing these things in my life- not as a punishment or because He had forgotten about me but as a tool. A tool to shape me into the woman He wants me to be. These life altering moments...the ones that I have allowed to define the person that I am... Well, maybe they were meant to shape my life- not define it. Drawing me closer to the Lord as I realize my own fraility and His great strength.