Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Top Ten of 2010

The myriad of lists recapping the year are my favorite distraction between Christmas and New Years. They're everywhere, all shapes and sizes, and I get sucked in every time. :)
So to end the year, I decided to make my own list, of:
Things That Inspired Me In 2010
Here we go. :)
1. Blog reading-What a treasure trove of goodness is waiting to be uncovered in the blogworld. I'm so happy I've found it. Reading my favorites is what I most look forward to in the long hours I have to rest my back. And I almost always leave either being inspired, feeling more hopeful, or having just plain old laughed out loud. And I must add that it's helped me get over myself too. :) I started out secretly judgmental of those who had "no life other than to comment to bloggers they don't even know." But the more I read the more I realized that being too cool to engage in some of the conversations, I was only hurting myself-- and that my "too cool to comment-ness" was also giving in to my tendency to worry what others think of me. So, I've stopped that. And comment if I want to comment. As a result, I'm getting to know some really great people. How silly to behave otherwise.
2. Blog writing-I'm not a great writer. I'm much more gifted in other areas. But the discipline of writing consistently has made me better at it, and it is nice to see that progress. I'm also thinking, THINKING about telling more people I write here. Because I'm trying to be more brave like that. But we'll have to see about that one.
*side note-now that I've gone on about blogs, will you allow me to share some of my favorites?
--enjoying the small things-everyone should read the touching birth story of Nella Cordelia. Beautiful.
--A Love Like This-Mike and Dana Ritter bravely chat about their first year of marriage. Dana also works at the White House an shares fascinating tidbits. These two are deeply in love, funny, and not afraid to be real about the tough stuff.
--From Harlot to Handmaiden-my friend's Katie's posts are thought-provoking and from the heart.
--Stuff Christians Like-hilarious. Just plain hilarious.
--The Lettered Cottage-fabulous, cost-effective decorating tips.
3. Get Out of that Pit- This Beth Moore book was a crucial turning-point. It placed tools in my hand to help me really and truly get out of the pit that crippling disappointment had thrown me in. It reassured that in Christ, pain has a plan and it doesn't have to destroy me. It also showed me the power of praying Scripture.
4. Christ in me-I know this one sounds strange, but let me explain. I am the biggest scardey-cat I know. Always have been. Since I was a kid I've stood in awe of the naturally thick-skinned. Because I'm so not. I'm usually the one melting down when things get tough. Not so great under pressure. And I've always feared the day when something really horrible would crash into my life, because I didn't think I could handle it. But it's been three years since something really horrible did crash into my life. And I didn't fall apart. It didn't crush me. I survived and proved that I'm stronger than I ever dreamed. I've had my struggles, yes. But I'm still here. God and I have wrestled, it's true. But I'm still trusting Him. And I'm utterly amazed. Or I should say I'm amazed at the God in me that has made me more than I am. And I'm not as fearful anymore. Because I know now that with God, even if the worst happens....I'll be alright.
5. SaraRose-there is something magic her smile, and in her sweet childhood need for me. On the mornings when I think I absolutely can not do it, I see her little head at the kitchen table and know that somehow, I absolutely can.
6. Weight Watchers-Gave me some power back. My 20 pound weight gain seemed to be the physical proof that all the freaking pain was winning. I felt defeated without the option of being active. But Weight Watchers was my whispered answer to prayer. And I'm so thankful.
...AND I'm starting up again Jan 1 (wink :).
7. Aunt Carol-my super cool aunt lives in LA and has her own fair share of back problems (runs in the family). She has been my #1 encourager. She faithfully writes me handwritten letters, sends gifts and has amazingly shipped a movie and a funny card every. single. WEEK since my last surgery! Count it! That's 2o movies. Amazing. Such a smile inducer!
8. Books-I loooooove to read. And while blogs took over a bit of reading time this year, books continue to be my happy place. Because of them, I'm rarely bored, and am continually inspired.
*And I might as well share books I read this year too ;)
--Little Women (after you read it, you'll understand why it's so cherished.)
--Get Out of that Pit (nuff said :)
--The Harry Potter series (Do it. Just do it.)
--Hugh Sidey's Portraits of the Presidents (surprisingly the most inspirational book of the whole year)
9. Joni Erickson Tada- since Jr. High she's been my greatest living hero. And this year, on top everything, faced breast cancer. She is a warrior and I love her. Here's her blog too. Can't wait to hug her neck in heaven someday.
10. Talks with Andrew-My health problems are a burden on him too. But he has never once complained or made me feel guilty. As panic attack as I can be, he's as equally level-headed. When my fears reach a breaking point, he always seems to know what to say to put me at ease. I always leave our talks with a burden lifted. Thanks, honey.

Well, that's it, folks.
2010, it's been real. You've brought much goodness, but I'm not sad to see you go! Even so, thanks for the things I've learned. I'll never be the same.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Christmas

I just said "Happy Christmas" to sound a little British. Because ever since my 6th grade report on it, I love all things England. I'm definitely one of the ones getting up at 3:00am April 29th to watch the Royal wedding.

But that is neither here nor there. ;)

I really just wanted to post our Christmas picture and say thanks for sticking around and reading my silly thoughts and tear-stained posts this year. It's nice knowing you're here.

Hope you have a beautiful Christmas!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Looking up

Well, after my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day on Wednesday I feel the need to update.

I had a really wonderful Thanksgiving.

We sat all jammied that morning and watched the Macy's parade. SaraRose kicked her legs and twirled with the Rockettes as Andrew and I chatted over coffee. And we ate this for breakfast:

Monkey bread. One of my favorite flavors in the whole world. Very fattening. Very good.
And we had a laughing good time at family dinner that night.

I also got out on Black Friday. Which was a biggie since I haven't been up to it for 3 years now.

And SaraRose came along to complete the fabulous girls only shopping day. Here she is with her glassy eyed bed head at 5:00 am., what a good sport!

It all really was terrific.
There is so much goodness and joy.

It's just switching my attitude and actions that's the tricky part.

Looking up instead of at my circumstance.

Because in my circumstances,

I'm coming to grips with the fact that really and truly my life may be lived with chronic pain.

And wrapping my mind around all that means.

It just makes me so

sad/discouraged/jealous/about 100 other feelings.

And many times I don't handle things so maturely because of that looming burden.

I am still praying for a miracle.

But I'm also aware of with the fact that it just may not happen.

And clinging to the hope that that really is OK. Because there is a plan for me, and it is perfect.

Even though I never ever expected crippling pain to be a part of that just may be.

But there are still losses I'm grieving and questions only God can answer.

I am back to living one day at a time, and looking for blessings in spite of it all--

because that is the only way I can manage my fear,

and it's how I'm supposed to live anyway. ;)

--and praying He'll show me what in the world He has for me next.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Before Thanksgiving

Have I been down today, or what?! Since you haven't been here with me, I'll just fill you in that yes. Yes I have. It's one of those days I absolutely cannot snap out of it. And that coming from a gal who, if I do say so myself, has learned quite bravely to live with a smile while in constant pain. And it's even worse that it's right before a holiday that's totally all about being THANKFUL. Everywhere I turn there are chipper lists of happy things.....
and I feel like a louse for feeling a bit miserable!
There are several reasons I'm in a funk, but they all pretty much stem from my back pain which hasn't changed since my latest surgery. It's hard to describe the disappointment something like that brings. You put all your hopes in this one horrible basket and then.........nothing. And then there's the other considerable losses chronic pain brings with it. Today, it's all just felt a little too much to handle (in a mature fashion). So I've cried. Alot.

I think I might run out now and buy the 7th Harry Potter book, maybe that will help things. ;) I'm just now reading thru the series (and loving it, I might add) but I just so happen to be on the last book the same week the last movie came out. So, at the library every single HP book was checked out. So, of course Miss Sensitive Today cried about that too! Seriously. It's been an emotional day.

I'm sure tomorrow will be better. That's the great thing about a new day. There is always the promise of fresh starts and a rested spirit.

And at least I don't have it as bad as poor Harry. ;) What with all the grown-ups he loved dead and Voldemort on his tail. Sheesh. That's one thing I can be thankful for! :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

The good, the hopeful part

This morning it was just SaraRose and me.

For a mother who has very few moments alone with her little girl, to me, each one is sacred.
This is the first time we've gone out, just the two of us, in two months.
As I breathed in the fresh air with her little hand in mine, my heart could hardly take in the gladness the simple act of running an errand brought me.
We got in the car and SaraRose quickly said "Turn it up, I like this song!" as she lifted her arms and (very cutely) acted out playing a tiny violin along along with the intro.

And as we drove, I too was drawn into the beautiful melody and calming words. I smiled brightly as my little one sang along loudly from the back seat.
"I want to hear it again!" she said, and so did I. So I hit repeat, and we both sang along over and over again.
I don't know if there is much sweeter than looking in the rear view mirror to see a tiny little mouth singing about the deep, deep love of Jesus. And watching a chubby toddler hand raised in praise as she copies what her mommy's doing in the front seat.
And, heck, there is not much better than singing praises to Him for that deep, deep love yourself.

Regardless of what the truck driver next to you thinks. ;)

When life takes a jagged turn and to your story is added chapters you never wished for, it's hard to take for granted those perfect moments when your story looks just like (or even better) than you imagined it would.
And as we got out of the car, I sent a prayer into the blue sky that there would be more, many more glimpses into the good, the hopeful part of my story.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My favorite time of day

My hubby, bless his heart, does alot.

He doesn't stop
From the moment he walks in the door

And has a toddler clammering for his attention.

He helps with supper.

And then it's my time to rest

(A-GAIN). I'm sick of resting.

But that's a post for another day.

Then he plays with the munchkin til she drops.

Then he helps her into pjs, brushes her teeth

and I join them for family devotions.

...then back to bed I go....

As he loads the dishwasher

(while rockin out to his ipod),
takes out the trash,

staightens up the house,

irons his shirt,

and hops in the shower.


Then its my favorite time of day.

(At least til things with me get better????)

But that's a post for another day too.
Yes. My favorite time of the day.

When he finally can relax.

And I love that for him.

When there's not one more thing he has to take care of.

And I sigh relief for him.

My favorite time of day.

He climbs on the bed,

and I massage his sore neck.

(Uh don't worry. This isn't getting kinky.)

Finally something I can do to help him.

And we watch TV.

And we laugh

About the ham-bone guys we secretly love on American Pickers.

And the spookiness of Keith Morrison's voice on Dateline.

About how Michael Scott is a crack up

....and when is Holly coming back already?

And I tease him that Man vs. Wild is so fake,

but he's a total sucker for it anyway.

And we chat.

About how cute SaraRose was that day.

And about how Corey and Kat just need to talk it out on LA Ink.

And what tattoos we would get, if we were tattoo people.

And about how things went that day at the bank.

And how Glee is so great, but the raunchiness is a total fail.

And about how my mom and I are getting along.
And that we just don't get what's so fantastic about 30 Rock.

And how it's crazy that Antique's Roadshow sucks us in every. single. time.

And how if I were ever on a gameshow

It'd be something like "Are you smarter than a 5th Grader" or "The Price is Right."

And what we'd do with the money (or grandfather clock) if I won.

Yea. It's not exciting.

But it is good.

It's not what our evenings used to look like.

When I was well and up and buzzing around.

But it's still a blast.

We still have fun together.

And, well, that's really what it's all about anyway.

And I love it.

Monday, October 18, 2010


So the one thing I asked for during this recovery is a scale for the bathroom.

Yep. I knew I'd need to keep my eye on things since my mom's favorite way to keep me happy is stuffing our cabinets full of my favorite foods. Asking her not to is pointless. I swear the woman wants chubby children. ;)

Hello Doritoes! White cheddar popcorn! Donuts! Cupcakes! Totinos pizza! and oh so much more. Walking in the kitchen is like walking into my own custom made Willie Wonka heaven.

I won't say I haven't enjoyed it. It was all very yummy and exciting for like the first month when I was all still at my Weight Watcher goal weight.

Fast forward eight weeks, and enter the new scale.

All I can say is UNFORTUNATELY the scale is not defective. The numbers are sliding up in perfect sync with my tasty little eating spree. Boooooo.

And so, also unfortunately...I'll be chanting inspirational quotes with the old ladies again in no time. ;)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

She's older, I'm sentimental

Today is my little girl's birthday.
She's 3.
And full of imagination, hope and wonder.
She lights up my world.
The embodiment of the beauty, love, and goodness in my life.
My SaraRose Joy
Her eyes are bright, her spirit is bubbly, her heart is tender.
And I get to be her mom.
The one who holds her tight and listens to all she has to say.
There's only one, and it is me.
My heart overflows.

So now on a lighter note, I'm kinda laughing at myself...but I'm also very teary today. Why? Because I keep thinking of this song. SaraRose hasn't even lived long enough to do half the memories mentioned, and I'm already sad they'll be over someday. So I cry....then I laugh because I know it's a little ridiculous I'm crying. My sentimental heart can wear me out sometimes! ;)
Either way, I kinda love this song. And Meryl? Well, she's just AWESOME.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What I Know For Sure

The surgery is over.
Here is a before pic of my spine (L3-S1)

and an after:

They took out the lower hardware and fused the top.
Aren't "before" and "after" pics usually of your outsides? sigh. Maybe someday!

I'm relieved that the horrible hospital part is behind me, but there are still a lot of questions. I did not wake up pain free.
Nevertheless, here is some of what I know for sure:
*I am still at peace that it's absolutely the procedure that needed to be done.
*I am happy to be home soaking in the simple pleasures of my little family.
*Toddlers look older when you haven't seen them (in even a little) while.
*I am more in love with my husband than ever.
*I still have nerve pain in my legs. No, I don't know why. Yes, it is deeply discouraging.
*While I planned to wax intellectual during recovery reading books and watching deep movies, instead I give a special shout-out to People Magazine and TV, my closest companions ;)
*A fabulous new nail color adds some fun as I tap tap tap away on the computer.
*Make-up helps me feel pretty even just hanging around the house (didn't realize how many mirrors we have hanging around. yikes. ;)
*I am way stronger and braver than I have ever given myself credit for.
"Never, never, never give up."--Winston Churchill

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Here's the rest of Lee Woodruff's suggestions on best ways to be there for a loved one in a crisis:
"5. Avoid overmothering
Certain physiological things happen as a result of stress or grief. The normal circuits in the body are altered. The caregiver, as well as the patient, is damaged, in crisis, and sometimes things inside their brains don't work they way they normally would. Do not repeatedly tell the caregiver to eat or sleep. They cannot. There are operating on adrenaline, especially in the early stages. Food is only fuel, and sleep is hard to come by. And don't try too hard to pry the care-giver away from the patients bedside for a bite or a walk around the block. They may not ever want to leave their loved ones side, and that's just fine. But also remember that if they say they don't need help with anything, they DO. Don't be afraid to take charge in non-threatening ways to ease their daily burdens.
While I was camped out during Bob's stay in the ICU, my friend Lauren knew that I liked decaf lattes, sushi, brownies, and the special corn and crab soup from the hotel room service. In the early days of our own crisis, I would return from the hospital, shattered and in shock and find these items waiting for me. She didn't nag me to eat or urge me to care for myself; she just took care of me quietly, because she knew I wasn't thinking about food.
6. Be sensitive to what they need to hear
Don't be afraid to acknowledge the person's pain. It's okay to say "This really stinks, but I'm here every step of the way." The most helpful comments you can make involve letting the patient or friend know they are heard. This is a delicate balance because you don't want to minimize things with trite greeting-card philosophy, but nor do you want to underscore the dire nature of the person's situation. This is where you need to use your sixth sense and assess where that person is, emotionally, at any given moment. It may sway from hour to hour. Take your lead from them about what you think they need to hear. It's always comforting to be told, "Let's talk about you for a moment--I'm here to listen if you feel like unburdening."
7. Think practically about what people really need
Stuffed animals, large objects, and flowers in the hospital are cheery, but they often translate into things that just need to be moved from room to room, or take up space in already cramped quarters. Consider practical gifts instead, like pajamas, a luxury soup, thank you notes, a new toothbrush, or slippers. Also, don’t tell the patient or caregiver to call you if they need anything. That puts the burden of asking for help on them. Instead, suggest something specific you can do to help out: a ride for the kids or a sleepover, a dinner brought to the house (without dishes that need to be returned), grocery shopping, cutting the lawn, or walking the dog. Make decisions on the details as much a possible. This includes whether or not they like chicken or fish. Just do it!
8. Choose your words and actions wisely
Don’t expect the patient or caregiver to immediately return your phone call or email. All of their energy right now is on themselves and their immediate family. With each concerned phone call I got from a friend who told me they just needed to hear my voice, I felt more inadequate. “Call me!” well-meaning friends would plead into my answering machine. All that did was pile one more ounce of guilt and failure into my shoulders and add to my to-do list another thing I knew I wouldn’t be able to accomplish. If you need to reach out in the middle of a crisis just leave a message that starts with “you don’t need to call me back, just wanted you to know I was thinking of you."
Also, don’t approach the patient with tears in your eyes or what I call the “sympathy face” (the hangdog look that says, "you poor thing bless your little heart”) This makes the person feel as though they have to use precious energy to buck YOU up.
9. Be there for the long haul
In the first days and weeks of a crisis, people come out of the woodwork, flooding with offers to help. But the real work begins when all the neighbors have gone back to their own lives, and the patient and family still need occasional support. Think of sending a thoughtful gift then, at a time when the family or patient can focus more fully on the beauty of the item. As the weeks pass it is also a time when the patients feels as though many people have retreated; there is no one gathered in the kitchen anymore, no one answering the phone. Simple gestures thru the long haul will make a big difference after the crush of the crisis and will let them know you are still thinking of them. To be needed in that way is perhaps the greatest honor of being a true friend."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Thoughts on how to "be there"

This advice is terrific. It was written by Lee Woodruff (wife to ABC News journalist Bob Woodruff) after her husband's near death in an Iraqi roadside bombing. As soon as I read it, I wanted to share them here. Lee now speaks to families in crisis, and helps direct their friends to the simple acts that are the most helpful when some one you love's world has been turned upside down.

Of course, the words resonated with me since I have been the one on the recieving end these past few years--excepting and heavily relying on friendship and encouragement to guide me thru overwhelming stress. I only hope someday, I'll be able to return the favor.

I'm going to condense them a bit, but here the list's the general idea:

"1. Don't Hang Back -- Make contact
Most people who haven't experienced a tragedy or serious illness at close range have no concrete idea of how best to approach the person who is suffering. They don't know exactly what to say or what to do. Everyone wants to get it just right, but it's frequently hard to gauge what is appropriate. Sometimes these emotions can be paralyzing. But it is crucial to not hang back: the bravest and most wonderful thing you can do is to be there for someone else, even if this takes you completely out of your comfort zone. It is essential to acknowledge what is happening. Call people or reach out when you learn they are ill or going thru a difficult time. Don't give up on them if they try at first to push you away.
When Bob was injured, I was surprised by some of the people who stepped into the void in amazing ways to help. In many cases, they were not necessarily the people I had expected. For the people in the vortex of the crisis it's important to keep in mind that just because some folks don't raise their hands to help doesn't mean they don't care. An inability to cope with what you're going thru could simply mean that friends are nervous or anxious about how best to approach you and tackle the situation.
2. Help them feel "normal"
When Bob was in his coma, one of the many fabulous gifts of help came from my friend Kitty. We were trying to convert family videos to DVD format to play in Bob's room so he could hear the children's voices, but we were having trouble. Kitty just showed up took the tapes, didn't ask pointed questions or demand information about Bob's condition. She told me about her kids and her husband. She entertained me with stories about her workplace. She just came and helped. Two days later the tapes arrived at the hotel desk all transferred onto DVD's.
My friend Colleen sent me a certificate for a massage, which I ultimately did use (even though I worried about Bob the whole time.) Rebecca arranged flowers near the bed, and organized and prioritized all the mail. She never asked me one prying question. Instead she waited til I was ready.
These simple, calming acts and my friends' way of treating me as "normal" were exactly the tonic I needed. In the midst of the tornado raging around my family, I loved it when people talked to me about their aging parents or the fact that their child needed glasses. My world was so unimaginable. I had lost the language of reciprocity. Sometimes when a person's life has changed so much, they want to hear what normal sounds like; they want you to treat them as if their world is just like it used to be.
3. Recognize the power of the human touch
Don't be afraid to make physical contact. Most illnesses or injuries are not contagious. Touches and hugs are one of the most healing things one person can do for another. Everybody wants to feel like a human being. A loss, illness, or injury gives people a sense of being exiled from the herd, so do whatever you can to make that person comfortable---overlook tubes and machines, get down on their level and look them right in the eyes-- just focus on that loved one or friend as an individual. Simple acts can go a long way toward restoring dignity.
4. Establish a healthy information exchange
This means three things: 1) Not demanding information from a patient or caregiver 2) Sharing information that may help and 3) Knowing what to keep to yourself.

When you're visiting someone going thru a difficult time, don't ask questions that make them recount the whole ordeal, the facts and statistics and the road ahead. They may not want to talk about it at all. Just take their lead when it comes to conversation. Resist the urge to share your own stories about similar illnesses or diseases. Many people think that comparisons are comforting or helpful, but these stories can actually be terrifying or insulting. More general expressions of support such as --"I know how hard this is because I watched my mother struggle with cancer"--may be a better way to let the person know that you understand some of what they are going thru. Ultimately, the best thing you can do is to simply listen to the person you wish to comfort. Be sure to let them know you are here whenever they need to talk, anytime. You don't always have to have a solution or good advice; sometimes people just need to unburden themselves, or simply say things out loud."

by Lee Woodruff from Perfectly Imperfect

#5-9 coming next......

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Tomorrow is THE BIG DAY.
Surgery begins at 9:30 am.
Praying for a miracle.
No matter what, I know God's got it.
I have a peaceful heart.
(I think the prayer below WORKS ;)

So hear we go.....
plugging my nose
jumping in.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lord, give me today the things I need for today.

That will be my prayer before my feet hit the floor each day this week.
Because we are there.
The last weekend before my parent's anniversary party.
Wednesday is Sept 1st. (My stomach just knotted up.)
There's a lot to do.
Two doctor's appointments, blood work, signing scary papers, explaining, planning,
Combined with--
Family flying in, happiness, hugs, jokes, laughter, decorating, celebrating, living.

It's gonna be a weird week. It's probably good to keep my mind occupied. But the mixture is making for some crazy roller coaster emotions.
I hope I can hold it together.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Wink and a Smile

Since I am quickly trying to fulfill as many things left on my checklist that I can before Sept. 1, I decided to squeeze in a trip to this awesome public pool/slide extravaganza place I saw just down the road from us. I had driven by it once, thought it looked like so much fun and have had going there stuck in my mind for over a year now. I mentioned I wanted to do it within the next few weeks so my friend, Summer, met to go with me yesterday morning.
Of course, I’ve been all talking it up to SaraRose like “on Friday we’re going to the funnest pool ever! There are slides and waterfalls and all sorts of things to explore!” And I, myself, am getting pumped just picturing this dream checked off my list while she and I have a blast with the few other toddlers and moms who might be there.
So as we drive around the corner yesterday, I see it--the massive pool and the silly slides......
…..and it is not the vision of my dreams.
But rather an enormous waterworks filled to the brim with big, loud, crazy campers and kids with their yelling chaperones. It’s so jam-packed I can’t even spot water, just bathing-suited masses of humanity. And pumping loudly into my car window I hear “Who-Let-The-Dogs-Out?-woof-woof-woof-woof -woof” from the massive pool speakers.
And then.
Then I hear the life-guard announce, “Little girl’s bathing suit contest starts in ten minutes!”
Oh. my. word. Get me the heck out of here!
I whipped the car around and started laughing.
Because I crack myself up. This is not the waterpark of my dreams. In fact it’s quite the opposite. And I’m so amused, because this is one of my quirkiest habits: I have super high expectations when I’ve wanted to do something for a long time. I get a perfect picture in my imagination of the way all of it is going to go down.
And I know that every once in a while it’s really, REALLY good for me to get a big old dose of reality. It’s almost like God looks down, winks at me and says, “Kristen, you ain’t missin as much as you think you are!”

So back to our sweet, quiet little condo pool we went with no “little girl bathing suit contests” in sight.
and we all had a fabulous time. ;)

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Check List (full of blessing)

My next surgery is scheduled for September 1st. It seems soooooo close and there's a lot to do in the mean time. And even though I am a little sad we decided to move the surgery date up, I am still unbelievably grateful for every single moment I've had in between. It's been a much needed rest, and I've treasured it by the minute.
Since I've known for a while I'd be facing this, I've had a mental check-list of things I hoped to enjoy before it happened. And God has given me them and then some.
So be thankful with me as I share some of the list of blessings I've been able to check off before heading into this next hurdle.

*Iowa trip: check!

*Awesome new camera: check!
*Photography class: check!
*Being a happy wife again: did-my-best-check ;)
*Family Disney trip: check!

*and double check!

*Grocery shopping: check!
*Going to the movies: even-made-it-to-a-Broadway-show check!

*Growing closer to God: by His grace...check
*Weekend away just me and the hubby: check!

*Consistently involved at church/small group/activities: check!

*Potty training: check!

*Cultivating friendships: check!
*A few updates around the house: check!

*Spending time at home just me and SaraRose (there are a lot that have to do her so bear with me here ;) *Library time, *picking her up from Sunday School, *rocking her, *riding a carousel with her, *hanging together with other moms with toddlers: all-that-and-more-check!

and last but certainly not least...
(drum roll please)

*Losing post-surgery weight gained: 2 pounds-to-go-check!

Woo hoo! Thank you, Lord. Of course maybe there is more I wish I could have done or whatever. But God's sovereignty is perfect. And I rest in that. And in the fact that He owes me nothing. And yet, He gives because He loves me.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

5% and a laugh

Y'all. I so wish you could have been with me today at the Weight Watcher meeting. Because I had no one to joke with about standing there chanting "EATING IN PRIVATE SHOWS UP IN PUBLIC!"
I end up stifling a laugh thru most of the hour! I wish you were a fly on the wall to enjoy it with me. ;)
HOWEVER~ I also met my 5% goal today! I got a sticker and a few grudging claps.
Laughable or not, I gotta give WW major props! 8 pounds down! SU-weeet!! because as we at Weight Watchers like to say (or chant, if you're in meeting mode) "NOTHING TASTES AS GOOD AS BEING THIN!" (grin).

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy Post!

I'm relieved and elated to share a miracle in answered prayer. Our friends' precious 5 year old daughter, Kate McRae, has been battling aggressive brain cancer for over a year now. Kate's mom, Holly, keeps a beautiful blog written from a mother's heart chronicaling their family's ordeal thru this nightmare. Thousands have followed along and even more have prayed. And yesterday evening....the McRea's got the call they've been waiting for. Kate's latest PET scan came back negative! Had it been otherwise there would be little more to do. Praise God! What a blessed reminder!

A reminder I need this night. Life is hard. This world is not our home. I look around and so many of my friends are dealing with huge, HUGE stuff. It's easy to forget that there is Someone much more powerful than all of it. But there is. There is!

Friday, July 30, 2010

There is just so much pain.
Sorry to talk about it ad nauseum, but any given day it consumes about 70% of my energies and thoughts. So it's hard to ignore. Not that I don't try my darndest. I do try to live, breathe, talk, laugh in spite of it all, because life is just better that way. But it still clouds my mind. Sears thru my hip and down the front of my legs. Burns the tops of my calves. Unbearable at times. It makes it impossible to sit, stand or walk without constantly thinking of when I'll next be able to lie down. And there has been no relief for years now.

It's probably exhausting just reading that! And sorry....I'm not quite done yet either (bear with me here.... ;)
When my body, my mind hurts, and when my mind hurts, my heart hurts. And perhaps the heart hurt is the worst of all. The word weary best describes the way all it makes me feel. So, so weary. Like 70 years old.
Ok, you got the picture. Overwhleming. Unbearable. It stinks.
So yesterday I made a phone call. The one I've been dreading but also looking forward to with hope. What an aweful juxtaposition.
Another surgery scheduled. There are no words.

And yet there is peace. There is hurt and deep sadness but wildly, there is also peace. I'm moving forward with a decision I HOPE is the right one, I THINK is the right one, but I'm just having to TRUST THIS PEACE that it really is the right one. Don't you hate decisions like that??! Especially one this life-altering. I've layed it all out there before the Lord. And I've heard no answer except a kind of rest in taking this path. So I'm falling back on that and trusting God will move as only He can thru it all. Thru the body hurt and the heart hurt. And somehow make it better.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Here's to us.

We're back from celebrating our anniversary at the Don Cesar on Pass-A-Grille Beach. Just love that place. We stayed there on our wedding night, so it's extra sentimental. And let me just say I was able to enjoy the place with way less presssure than I did the last time as a virgin bride. whew! ;)

We both agreed it was good we decided to stay in town rather than travel somewhere, especially since I've been feeling so badly lately. The view from our corner room in that big pink palace was amazing....the Gulf from one window and the inter-coastal from the other. Panoramic! And the views turned out to be a big blessing since I wasn't able to be out and about as much as I'd hoped.

We were 7 floors up
This tower was just outside our window and watching the birds fly to and from was so fun. Dontcha want to go up in there?

The first evening there was a rainbow out our east window.
We are way more Bubba Gump's and Candy Kitchen than we are Don Cesar, but it's fun to pretend for a few days anyways. Crab legs at Bubba Gump's mmm mmm good.And this town staple never disappoints:This was the first time we've been away just the two of us in over 3 years. Exactly what we needed in the scheme of this crazy life. Because let me tell you, things have not been easy for us--these past several years especially. And as much as we love each other, our marriage is far from perfect. We are both fallible people. Satan's knows our strongholds and is ruthless in using them against us. He's battered each of us, both individually and as a couple. We've had to fight hard to keep our union commited, growing, alive. There's been lots of give and take, forgiveness, choosing love when we don't feel like it, and holding our personal expectations with an open hand. It ain't easy. But it is worth fighting for. I'm convinced Satan works hardest to erode our lives by undermining this sacred union. So when he sees two people commited from the start to doing it right, he goes after it with gusto. Such has been the case with us. But God is good and so much stronger! And for that I am thankful.

So, here's to us.

and here's to nine years thru it all.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Some kind of wonderful

The story of how two people met and fell and in love warms my heart. When I'm getting to know someone, it's one of the first things I like to hear about them. And an older couple who'll share their story with me? Don't even get me started. Love it! You throw WWII into the mix and the romance always goes up a few notches. ;) It never gets old. What's even funnier is that I never forget a love story either. Years later I'll mention to Andrew “don’t you remember they told us they met on the top of Splash Mountain during summer camp of '99?”
“uh, NO”
Well I do. It's the hopeless romantic in me, I guess.
So since I have you as my captive audience (and because the anniversary of my own love story is tomorrow) I thought I’d share. From my perspective, of course. A little over 10 years since our first meeting and counting.
It all starts with my back pain. Isn’t that fitting?! We should have known! And Andrew should have run fast when he had the chance! No, my hubby’s so sweet, I’m sure even if he had known he would have stuck it out. ;)
But for real. I was in massive pain on our first date. But let me start from the very beginning.
My senior year of college two friends and I decided to do a triple blind date, each setting the other one up. Since I was a senior and let's face it, had dated a lot of guys already, I said I'd go for the fun of it but figured he'd probably end up being someone I knew already anyway.
But come to find out I'd never even seen the guy around campus before. All I knew about him was that he was a 22 year old transfer, tall with dark hair and that he sang on a singing group. Making a group at Liberty kinda makes you a mini-campus celebrity. So I was impressed, I gotta admit. And definitely excited to meet him.
However, in the weeks before the date my back health got worse. My leg started hurting so badly I couldn't really walk and I had to stop going to classes all together. Little could any of us imagine I was dealing with something as complicated and huge as a shattered L-4 disc! Yikes.
So I'd been lying in bed for days and days. When the evening for the big date rolled around, I was totally bummed I still felt so lousy. But I really didn't want to miss out on this too. So I gritted my teeth against the pain, dragged out of bed, splashed on some make-up, grabbed my now infamous pillow (I think this just might be the first time I ever took a pillow with me to sit on; now it's a given I don't leave the house without it!) and went. I still don't know exactly how I got thru the evening and was able to act like myself, but somehow I did. And I actually had a blast in spite of the everything! Looking back, I'm sure God had me covered!
It was a fun night. We all went for dessert, then hung around taking silly pictures in downtown Lynchburg (and can you even believe I can't find those pictures right now?!? Ahh! So sorry! No first date pic for the blog. boo.) . It wasn't necessarily love at first sight, but I instantly knew he was my type. And as the night wore on, I was more and more impressed. He was so conscientious about my back, totally cool with the pillow, and opened every door for me. (And the opening doors thing could make me cross a guy off my dating list quick. I know...picky. But I figured if a guy's not going to be curteous on a first date, it's only going down hill from if several doors hit me in the face....seeeeeee ya, dude.)

But Andrew passed that little test with flying colors (and can I just say he still opens every door for me?) Yep. He's a keeper.

Perhaps the moment that stands out the very most from that night may seem insignificant. But it made quite a difference in the way I viewed this Andrew guy:

For dessert, the resteraunt had this kitchy thing where you can make S'mores at your the table. They brought us little canteens of fire along with all the fixins. Now, when it comes to making s'mores, I'm a catch-the-marshmallow-on-fire-to-get-the-job-done-fast kind of girl. I noticed Andrew went about making his differently. He rotated it ever so slightly over the fire creating this perfect bronze color, slowly melting the insides to gooey perfection. And then he pieced it together.

Now little miss turbo (me) had already made and eaten TWO in the time I watched him make his ONE.....

.....and then without a word, he leaned over and set it on my plate. He didn't make a big deal about it, just set it there and started making another one for himself. I was taken back. All that time he'd been making that perfect s'more....for me (who'd already eaten two!)

I just might have KNOWN in that moment. ;0)
That this guy was some kinda special.
OK, OK, I know what you cynics are thinking! He was trying to impress me. But I really don't think so. In the nine years we've been married Andrew's proven over and over to be one of the kindest people I've ever known, thinking of others when everyone else is rushing around busy with their own stuff.
By the end of that first blind date, Andrew says he knew too--that we just might have something. Not that I did anything sweet and endearing like make a perfect smore for him or anything, but I think he liked my spunk. ;0)

Shortly after that date I went home for surgery. I loved that he called to check on me (and we have a hilarious story about our first phone conversation while I was under the influence of pain meds. Let's just say I gave him a little TMI.) And he still wasn't fazed!

Within just a couple of months, after I got better and went back to school, there was no parting us. From the very beginning, everything about being with him was just easy. It was easy to talk, easy to laugh, easy to have fun, easy to get to know him. We were on the same page of the same book, he and I. And the fact that he was so cute AND had a great voice was I'm not gonna lie, awesome. There's been no parting us since.

We got engaged on a Christmas sleigh ride in Iowa a year later.
Could I possibly be smiling any bigger here?

and married July 21, 2001. I'll always remember how we were so excited to be "husband and wife" we practically sprinted down the aisle (and I left the altar without my bouquet)

Nine fabulous years full of memories!

And now we got this little cutie out of the deal too.... Some kind of wonderful!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I was looking over the last few posts and noticed they've all been very heavy and deeply sad.

Hee hee! :)
Not that I feel badly about pouring my emotions here. I don't. In fact, I find powerful relief and comfort in it. Many times when the pain is even too deep for tears, I'll find solice writing it out. And even though I write for myself, I do like knowing you are here. So thanks for listening.

And I wanted to let you know that I'm beginning to feel a little bit better....finally. The leg/hip/back pain has subsided & for two days now I've been able to sleep & think of something other than what might help me feel better. I even went for a walk down our little cul-del-sac tonight. Sweet fresh air! I feel like I can breathe again.
The major problem is still present, and we're still planning another surgery sometime (ugh.) But things are at least at a manageable place again.
Hopefully a happy post or two is in my near future....

Monday, July 12, 2010

When I'm down
and out
(like right now)
There are several things
That help bring water
to my parched
and weary soul.

One is believing
with every fiber of my being
that there is a plan.
That God is good
and that He never
wastes a pain.

Two is praying
from the depths of me.
Speaking scripture out loud
to claim His promises.
Because I know

my Jesus answers.

Three is noticing
when He provides
(even a little bit of)
If not exactly what I desire,
It's still something.
And it's enough

to reassure me He is watching

to comfort me He is listening
And to remind me

He is indeed

always here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Another weary week

This week was not any better. I have had to rest in bed while my mom and Andrew do everything around me and for me. And I've had to give precious time with SaraRose away to others, because I can't take care of her when I feel this badly.
And it all gets me down. The physical pain burning my back and legs brings with it this emotional turmoil that sits heavy on my chest.
Because there are a lot of scary/sad things to think about. And I have nothing but time to think. The inevitably of another surgery. The horrors that brings with it. The strain on my family. The pain. The worthlessness. The medication. All I'm missing. All I'm losing. The hows, the whys. My future. My family. My LIFE.
Heavy heavy stuff.
I think I need a good book. :0) Just threw that in there to lighten the mood. But seriously. If you know good one, help a girl out. :)

ANY-way...I'm beat. Totally over this. Searching for direction, needing relief. I can bear it (and praise God at this point even thrive in it) when the pain is manageable. Not that it takes away the fact that there's still a major issue. But it does help me keep things compartmentalized.
It's just times like tonight, when the pain level has been high for days and days, and I don't know where the end is, that it's hard to see clearly and not let depression have it's way with me.

So dear Lord, please have mercy on my very weary soul. I am poor and needy this night.
You tell us You "give power to the weak and to those who have no might You increase their strength. " Let it be with me, Father. Let it be.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Beware: whining ahead!

Remember that very happy, peppy post from a few days ago where I laughed and shared about my weight loss?
Yea. So I wrote that and then slipped into bed. And as I tried to sleep my nerve/back pain started to spike. I thought I'd just sleep it off, but couldn't. Those of you who've had labor pains know all about the kind of pain you can sleep thru and the kind you can't. Mine got to be the latter; close to unbearable.
The pain has somewhat subsided, but we still had to cancel our trip to see my sister to celebrate The 4th this weekend (two plane tix for me included).

I feel like it has been this way for SO LONG now. I say I'm going to do something, be somewhere, people are counting on it, and then I have to cancel at the last minute. Everyone says they understand and all that, and I'm sure that's true. But it's still a disappointment on both ends.
Sometimes it's so hard to comprehend.
If someone where to ask me what I want most out of life my answer would be this:
To be living and serving freely in the fullness of all God created me to be.
So here's the question I wonder.
Wouldn't I be more fully alive and useful, more dedicated and involved, using my gifts and talents for Him if I didn't have pain and constant weak back issues? If I wasn't having to always univite myself to events? Or leave half way thru? Having to stay holed up at home with people serving ME, when one of the greatest commandments is for me to serve OTHERS?
Then there's this other issue. An issue there is no way around, but that absolutely brings out the worst in me. And it's primarily because of my physical condition I have to deal with it at all. Day after day, I'm faced with it....and personality flaws I long since thought I'd conquered are brought front and center again. I won't go into detail but it wears me out, tears me down and it's just one more thing that makes me ask....really, Lord?
Can you tell I've had a rough weekend? And the rain yesterday didn't help things at all.
(I warned you to be prepared for whining, knew what you were getting into! ;)
Things really weren't a total wash this weekend. I mean, even though it was rainy I got to go to the movies, hang with my little family, watch Anne of Green Gables (while Andrew watched Green Zone ;0)
...and I still lost 4.4 pounds, right?!
So onward and upward to a better week this week!
*I need it* ;0)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On the counter of the Weight Watcher meeting today....

....was my CHIN!


I lost 4.4 pounds this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (yes, I meant to type that many exclamation points)

The first thing that came out of my mouth was what Stacy from "What Not To Wear" yells at the sight of her newly "done-over" participant --

"SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!! Are you serious?!" (I've never before used that expression, by the way. Gut reaction for ya!) The lady weighing me in blandly relied, "Yea. That's what it says. Good job."

GOOD JOB is RIGHT!!! Pat on the back, Kristen! (even if I have to do it myself!)


I'm shocked, but very pleased.

Holy toledo! (I'm running out of suprised expressions to use!)

But I thought I'd share it here, since no one but my family knows I've joined ;)

We'll see if I can keep it up going into next week. At this rate I'll be go to go! Ha! But I can't imagine ever duplicating this loss again. It actually seems a little extreme without excercising. And they say you usually lose the most in your first week. But the guy sitting next to me had lost 11.1. lbs. this week too. Wow! So maybe there is something to this WW/Points countin thang.

We'll see how it goes next week....I'm heading to my little sister's house for the 4th of July weekend so there will me a lot more food temptations, I'm sure.

But for now, I'm happy in my accomplishment.

Thank you, Jesus!

This is the picture I've had on my Faith Poster that

represents getting to and maintaining my healthy weight.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A song for my soul

I'm not going to lie. It's been a rough week or so.
My back pain has been off the charts.
And I have a pivitol doctor's appointment coming up on Tuesday. Just seeing it on the calendar has given me sores in my mouth for a month. Sorry if that's a little too much information! But I know I'm really feeling the heat when that happens. Some people break out in hives, I do the former. Oy with the poodles already. (A little Gilmore Girls reference for ya ;)
ANY-way. This song has been a sweet encouragement. I've listened to it over and over and it hits me right where I'm at.

God bless and have a good weekend.....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Between you, me and the blog...

I admit things on here that I don't talk about too much in real life. There aren't many people that are "in on" the fact that I blog, so it's a nice buffer between my emotions and the real world.
But I'm also the kind of person who just has to get stuff out, and then I feel better. So the blog's been a terrific place to put my rants, raves and private thoughts.
So since you're here, lean in closer....I'm going to tell you a little secret.

*I joined Weight Watchers yesterday.*

OK.....go ahead and giggle!
or scrunch your face and say "huh?"
I know the name conjures up images of the old ladies at Curves discussing their POINTS, and no--I don't have an eating disorder where I think I'm heavier than I actually am.
Here's the deal--
Over the past two years, I've gained 20 pounds.
Two failed surgeries, the subsequent recoveries, bouts of despair, loads of meds, and living in pain will do that to you.
I've been able to lose 7 lbs. of it since last October by just starting to watch what I eat and weighing myself. But I've been at a stand still now for about 5 months. The same number keeps showing up on the scale over and over again (and lets just say it's higher than I'd like). I'll lose some of it and then, family'll come into town, or we go on vacation......
and there's that number again.
My great nemesis in this process is not being able to work out.
And I'm used to being active. I've always had a gym membership and was faithful for years at doing core PT exercises. Not to mention the sense of freedom and purpose exercising gave me. I actually enjoyed it (most of the time!)
But since this last surgery I can barely walk thru the mall, let alone on a treadmill.
So I've started feeling sorry for myself.
About the fact that I don't have control over anything anymore. I've indulged in self pity that other people don't know how easy they have it. Or bemoaned the fact that I can't even burn the calories it takes a normal person to unload the dishwasher or do the laundry. Thinking, oh if I could just work-out.....and knowing I can't. Crying that everything in my future is up in the air, and feeling like the fact that my clothes don't fit any more is just physical evidence that my back problems really are stealing away important parts of what makes me me. Feeling that all the pain is indeed winning.
I've been praying about it.
And I've just gotten more frustrated.
I didn't know what to do--so I'd just have another piece of pizza (Greeeeat...)
Then something brought to mind the big double W.
And ya know what?
When I walked thru those doors yesterday, I finally felt a little bit of Spirit-breathed control. Like for once I was the one holding the cards my back problems have dealt me, not the other way around. God had provided a tool to help me, even though it wasn't the perfect "able to work out tool" I had desired.
So I'm thankful.
I know it won't be easy. I am aware that just going to my first meeting (so weird I'm talking about Weight Watcher "meetings," isn't that something just Mom's do?) didn't make 5 pounds drop off. But the accountability and focus is going to be good. It actually felt a little like it used to feel when I walked into the gym. A sense of purpose, healthy goals, and the tools to get the job done.
We'll see how it goes! I'm sure I'll keep you posted.
Talk to me in a month when I'm dying for an Outback Steak and a bloomin' onion!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our own talk bubble someday

Just got done putting together the invitation to my parents 40th Anniversary:I really like the way it turned out. Fits the party's groovy theme perfectly.
Looking thru all my parent's old pictures I couldn't help but wonder......
What in the world will Andrew and I say 31 years from now about how we looked during our first year of marriage?
Not TOO bad YET...
but what with Andrew's spiky hair and three-piece suit, and my growing-out "Rachel" 'd0 and leapord print...
I can see it comin!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

pardon the brag....

...but I'm just going to do it anyway :0)

Do you remember in school how awesome it felt when you had worked really hard on a project and then the teacher used YOURS as an example of how everyone else should be doing theirs? Or when you saw that great big "A+" on a paper and you know you deserved it?

Sweet validation!

Well, I can't help but feel a little bit of that healthy pride this morning--

'cause I just got a great reaction from the teacher of my photography class on my latest entry.

And it sweetens the pot that I shot this picture on MANUAL!! The mode I've been intimidated by because it looked so complicated. Well, I am now officially in love with it, and am determined to practice, practice, practice til I get it right.

Sidebar: I've learned that taking good pictures with a DSLR is kind of like playing an instrument. A teacher can show you the ropes, but it takes determination and practice on your own to really become a maestro.

So, Ansel Adams I am not, but here's my photo none-the-less, and the teacher's critique:

"Very cool shot Kristen. Awesome! Great background - the book shelves really add texture and help tell a story here. They are soft enough that they aren't distracting in any way.

The mood of the shot is very dramatic-love that! The composition, exposure, closeness, etc. is all dead on. You nailed it!!!

Way to go girl! Keep up the incredible work. I love the artistic look about this.

Thank you for being in the class and participating all four weeks. Please let me know should you need anything in the future. Blessings, Angie"

Yup. Even at 32 years of age (and that would be 32, as of today--my b-day), that kind of confirmation still feels fantastic!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

More Beth Moore!

Ok, I'll come out and say it. I'm a Beth Moore fan.
It took me a long while to admit since it makes me just like thousands upon thousands of other women out there.
And I tend to roll my eyes at hype. Especially Christian hype.
So for years when people (even those I admired) gushed about all they were learning thru her studies I remained a little rebellious, sluffing it off like "c'mon....what could she possibly have to say that I haven't heard before?" And excuses like "I think her Texas accent will get on my nerves."
Then a few years ago, I kinda commited to doing a Bible Study before I knew it was a Beth Moore one. And let me tell ya, that was of God. Because digging in my heels against the status quo was robbing me of a blessing. The study was life-changing. And I've been on the Beth Moore band-wagon ever since. She really is THAT good. Not her, of course, but God working thru her is just what so many of us weary souls need to see and hear testimony to. There's a reason her ministry is called "Living Proof," because she is living proof to all God can do when you give yourself in abandon to Him.
Having said all that, you'll understand my delight this afternoon when I came across her blog! And since I just learned within this past year what a blog even IS, I'm happy and encouraged to be following along.
And speaking of Beth and blogs, here's a funny little post from the satirical and HILARIOUS "Stuff Christians Like" about "Trying To Explain To Your Husband Why You Love Beth Moore So Much."
True, very true. And exciting to see so many women talking (even gushing) about becoming all God intends us to be.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In the garden

Have you ever had one of those CRAZY moments where there's a profound need in your life, then all of a sudden certain details intersect forming the perfect answer to that need? Much more than coincidence could ever create. So extraordinary, in fact, that there's absolutely no way to explain it other than to say it was God? And even saying "it was God" sounds trite, because you know it really WAS Him....the Most High Almighty come down for you alone? And later, when you try to explain it, words are so----not enough? So you end up just hiding the magnitude of it in your heart for always.

Knowing Heaven came down, just for you.

Right when you needed it.

And you'll always be thankful.

Well, that is the story of my garden.

Words can't describe what God did for me there. But I'm going to attempt to put at least some of it in writing. Because I am so thankful and I never want to forget.

Here's a little background:

It'd been an exhausting year for me already after a failed operation, and other painful procedures that led to the conclusion that I now needed an enormous surgery I'd been dreading. (I just deleted where I wrote out what the surgery entailed because it's a tad too violent for this little blog. ;0) Suffice it to say that I now have a 10 inch scar down my stomach and my back. Yikes.

ANY-way, the months leading up to that procedure were an emotional roller coaster.

And the week right before....I completely lost it.

One morning in particular, I woke up claustrophobic with panic. I couldn't stop crying. I quickly called my mom and she came over to help with SaraRose. I knew I needed some space; to get away and go.........somewhere. As I headed out the door I grabbed some info Andrew had about a local Catholic church's prayer garden.

I glanced at the directions, saw it wasn't too far, and decided to drive there not knowing what I'd find or if it was even open to the public. I just knew I needed to get away, even if it was just the corner of a parking lot where I could sit in my car (what I usually ended up doing when I needed to be alone. Not ideal, let me tell ya!)

But when I got there.

Oh, when I got there, I knew this garden was where I was supposed to be in that moment.

I knew God had guided me.

It was freely open, with no fences, no "No Trespassing" signs, no locked gates.....and it was gorgeous. Filled with paths and trees and edged against the open water. It was spacious and peaceful. It was secluded and idyllic. It was just the kind of place that for years I'd been hoping to find.

And best of all, not one other soul was there.

I got out of the car, walked to a stone table overlooking the water and sat down. And then a miracle happened. God came and sat next to me. In my time of greatest need He was there.

I stayed for three and half hours. Just me, God, the blue sky, and the garden. I prayed out loud and cried deep tears. There was no worry of someone hearing. I told Him every fear, hurt and disappointment. The guilt about the burden I was putting on my family. My concern for little SaraRose Joy. The pain that because of me, Andrew was struggling too. The anger, the fear of my health in the future. I talked and cried til there were no more words and no more tears.

At times I sat by the water. At times I laid on the grass. I swung on a hanging porch swing. I walked thru the paths and gardens. God didn't answer my questions, but He was with me at this beautiful place and it was enough. He didn't take away what I was having to face. But He made me able to bear it.

And the beauty of that day in the garden stayed with me. The rest of the time before the surgery, I felt peace. Not because everything was better, but because I knew He knows my deepest needs and that He's able to do the supernatural.

Makes you want to go, doesn't it?

It's been a year since that surgery. And I've since gone back to the garden many times. It's always lovely and fulfilling. But nothing compares to that day. That terrible, perfect day when God Himself guided me and was with me when I needed Him the most.

PS. And I'll never listen to this song the same again....yep, you know the one. ;0)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Time on my hands thoughts....

I've had a long week this week. I good one, spent with out-of-town family and making new friends from church. I love meeting people and hearing their stories! But I forget how tired my back gets when I try do lots of "normal" activities.....whew. It doesn't just hurt in my back and legs; it wipes my whole body out. Like I've run a marathon or something. So tonight, I'm relaxing. And as a reader you're going to have to endure listening to my very random thoughts this evening. That's one hilarious thing about blogging. I can talk and talk about myself, and you just have to listen ;0)

Thought #1.
I have to admit it. The blogging world I discovered thru this crazy outlet--that I tried only because I was going a little mad and had to put my thoughts SOMEWHERE--is way bigger than I ever knew. Holy cow. Let me tell ya, there are some serious, hard-core bloggers out there. A whole sub-culture I had NO idea existed. I still don't completely understand it and I do have a hard time admitting (even to the FEW I let know about this place) that I BLOG. It just seems so cheesy or something. I don't know. But having said that, I really love following along. Some sites are encouraging or inspirational, some funny, some informative, some dealing with the hard stuff of life-like me, and others just chronicle life's simple pleasures. Many are a little strange, but it's fun none the less. It's so crazy that absolutely ANYONE can create a site, get on and talk about themselves all day. But to those who do it well, my hat's off to you and the energy you must spend being consistent and coming up with fresh ideas.

Thought #2. I started a photography class!! It's online and that couldn't be a better fit for me! I can lay down, move at my own pace, ask questions any time, chat with other students, and see their work too. And did I mention I get to lay down to do it?! PERFECT. An answer to prayer and another check off the Faith Poster! Already with the first week I've learned a TON. Stuff that's pretty basic, but still stuff I didn't know when it comes to the composition of shots. It's helped my pictures already. I'm super excited to move forward, and learn about putting the"lingo" (aperture, white balance, and f-stops, OH MY!) into action. And of course, to unleash the potential of my new camera.....and if I'm lucky maybe even a little bit of my own, as well?! ;0)

Thought #3. Dontcha just love it when you have a good book to read? I don't think there is much better than that sweet spot of a great book and a long chunk of time to read it. Add a cup of tea and you've got yourself one fabulous evening. The only problem with being a book lover is that finding a new *really* good one can be a challenge. And I don't ever read past the first few chapters if it's a mediocre book. Why waste my time? But in the past months I've come across two that I've really enjoyed. And when I say enjoyed, I mean the kind of book you kinda can't stop dreaming it about when you're not reading it, and you feel a twinge of loss when the end comes. ;0)

  • The first is from my fav Christian fiction author (and I don't have many of those!), Francine Rivers. I La-La-La-LOVE her Mark of the Lion series, and Redeeming Love. SaraRose's name is partly inspired by the main character of that one. Both are classics in the Christian realm. But her newest is called Her Mothers Hope. It's a saga that beautifully traces several generations and the unique relationships between mothers and daughters. It took a chapter or two to really grab me, but I soon grew to care so much about the characters (and identified with so many of the emotions described) I can hardly wait to read the next one that comes out in the fall.

  • Then I read an easy breezy book, but I could hardly put it down. It's the true story of a small town library cat, titled Dewey (yes, he was named after the Dewey Decimal System, how cute is that?!) He was found as a kitten almost frozen in the library drop box one winter morning. Let's just say that, Dewey became so popular and touched the world so greatly with his gentle ways and survivor spirit, that when he died it was on announced on CBS, MSNBC and in The Washington Post. Great story; the author (and Library director) wove her own life story in with the town's and explained how Dewey helped to save them both. And it all happened in Iowa, where my husband's from. So it also provided interesting insight for this city girl into the hard-working ways of practical, no-nonsense Iowans. I really liked it, and I'm NOT even a cat person, people. ;o)

Alright, that's all I got tonight, folks. If you're still reading this, wow. I'm suprised. Hope I didn't bore you. :0) Nighty, night!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This post is going to be a nice antidote to my last one....because despite several disappointments this past month, this weekend brought with it a dream fulfilled.

It's no secret I'm a Disney fan. I've dreamed about taking my own child to the Magic Kingdom way before I ever even had a boyfriend! ;0)

After one difficult pregnancy, and two surgeries since she was born, Andrew, me and little SaraRose finally made it!

And it was everything I hoped it would be.

I felt God's love for me in every little moment---it wrapped around me, tangible and real. My Lord knew that this was a big deal to me. He knew I'd waited and prayed for it. He knew I wanted it to be perfect. So when it finally happened, He made it extraordinarily beautiful!

See God's wink in the sky above us?

Just look at her little face!

Meeting SilverMist and Tinkerbell was the highlight of the day. So sweet and special I couldn't hold back my tears as we turned to leave. They gave her "pixie dust" she held tight in her little hand the rest of the night.

The Disney fireworks are nothing short of fantastic! They NEVER disappoint.And our very favorite spot to eat (a tradition Andrew and I started on our many journey's to Dowtown Disney just the 2 of us), Wolfgang Pucks. MMMM, I can taste it now! And the ambiance is delightful! Check out the SilverMist doll SaraRose scored too! ;0)

See? Beautiful. Dare I say, even MAGICAL?! ;0)

And being able to sense God's particular love for me thruout the days was refreshing. Just what this down-cast spirit needed. And it made me wonder....why do I get so easily offended at Him? Because in the end He always comes thru! Somehow. It's just hardly ever in the sweeping, epic, way I want Him to. Most of the time it takes a while. So long in fact, I begin to wonder if He's forgotten my dreams and desires completely.

But this weekend?.....this weekend WAS epic. He was there, giving me all I wanted and more. It was His way of saying, "Kristen...HELLO! I see you, I hear you....CALM DOWN! ;0) And I DO come thru for you in big ways sometimes, just stop complaining and let me show ya....!"

And when you take that and mix a little bit of Disney pixie dust with it?! Well, it just doesn't get any better than that in this girl's opinion ;0)