Monthly Archives: December 2016

Control I Admire

Being the youngest means always trying to keep up.  Your sisters are bigger than you.  They are faster than you.  Their books and tv shows are a challenge to understand.  Their games are tough to follow.  But…no self-respecting little sister is willing to be left behind.

Patrice is no different.  She tries hard, she pushes herself, she works at it.  Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.  When it all falls together, there are lots of smiles.  When it is just beyond your reach, there might be tears.

My little girl works so hard to be able to keep up with her sisters.  She does an amazing job.  She finds tasks that she wants to work at and does it with all her heart.  She loves the monkey bars, she does great on her rollerblades and scooter.

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2016-06-15 18.51.09She is always working on the next thing.  And some of those things are hard.  Her most recent thing to tackle is playing cards, Spoons to be exact.  The girls were introduced to it on Christmas last week.  She is doing great hanging in there with the big girls, and the grown ups too!!  We played it tonight as a family.  We chose to do numbers to make up 2017 instead of the word spoons.  Sue was pushed out first, then Caitlyn, next Mommy, so it was just her and daddy left.  They both had 201–it was down to just one hand, and daddy got the four of a kind first–he was the winner.  We told her she had done a great job, but her little face got bright red as she fought to control her emotions.  She escaped to her room just as soon as we stopped talking to her.  She went in, gathered her feelings and started quietly playing with a toy until she was ready to come out.

She stepped away to collect herself.  She has been doing that since she was about 18 months old.  You rarely, if ever, see her throw a fit.    She has always chosen to go to her room and calm herself rather than explode with anger, sadness, or frustration in front of a crowd.  She will come and cuddle with me sometimes when she is sad, but more often than not, I go seek her out to make sure she is okay after she has escaped to her room.

Honestly, her reaction is an enigma to me.  I am a yeller.  My emotions come out fast and furious.  Every emotion I ever feel is written all over my face.  It is very, very rare that I think to step away before it is too late.  Actually, my girls know if mama steps away, they better just give me space because I am trying really hard to react well.

And yet, I have this little girl that is so in control of her emotions and so wise in how to handle them.  I marvel at her and her wisdom and I truly aspire to be just a little bit more like this little girl the Lord has given me.


The Ads Again

I think I pay too much attention to random things.  Okay, okay, I know I pay too much attention to random things.  One thing that gets me is radio commercials.  I can totally tune out a tv commercial, by never watching tv, but the radio has to be on for me to function.  It is like air to me.  But the dumb commercials.   You’ve already heard my thoughts on the exercise/antidepressant commercial, now for the COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) commercial.

This commercial brings up lots of memories, wonderful memories.  Really.  Stick with me here.

I was exposed to a component of COPD as a kid.  My neighbor had Emphysema.  She had never smoked a day in her life, yet there she was, dependent on oxygen.

Cora was probably in her 60s when I met her.  She lived a few doors down from us in her white house that looked like a barn.

I headed down there once or twice a week to buy a dozen of her farm-fresh chicken eggs.  And she would chat with me.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved being an only child and I had great neighbor friends that I played with, but I was always looking for new company…and Cora was one of my victims.

She always bought wrapping paper from me when I came around selling it in order to earn some prize or another.  She helped me (okay, she basically did) with a sewing project that was well beyond my non-existent skills, she sold my mom her old secretary desk that sat proudly in my room until I went to college, she explained to me that the ice cream man, (Schwan’s) who finally extended his route to our part of the road, would have the ice cream my mom let me order that day and I wouldn’t have to wait another two weeks until he came again.  She let me just show up and chat with her for hours.  We would sit and watch soap operas, which my mom did not allow me to watch, and I would chat and chat at the commercial breaks.

I loved Cora very much.  I was so sad when she passed away when I was in late elementary school–I am not exactly sure how old I was when she passed away.  I missed her daily for a long time.  I just couldn’t believe my friend was gone.  My mom decided I was too young to go to the funeral, but I understood my friend was gone.  I sat and sat at her old desk.

And I still think of my friend often–anytime I hear one of the COPD commercials or when another friend posts on Facebook about their chickens (what is up with everybody getting chickens?!).

Cora is just one of the marvelous memories I have from growing up.  I hope my girls will look back as fondly at the memories we make amidst holidays, electronics, new puppies and the like!


A Christmas Visitor

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung on the plaster with care,

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of cookies danced in their heads.
And mamma in her nighty, and daddy in his boxer shorts,

Had just settled the disagreement on what to put in the stockings

When out on the porch there arose such a CLATTER at the front door,

Ma and Pa looked at each other, while in their nighty and boxers, with fear in their heads.

Away to the back door Pa flew like a sloth,
Grabbed up the tennis shoes and crept out the door in fear of someone seeing him in his boxers.

The moon on the melting, dirty snow
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects around.

When, what to Pa’s wondering eyes should appear,
But a red and green tote sitting on the front stoop.

Looking quickly to and fro, up and down the lane,
He knew not in the moment where the mysterious box appeared from.
More rapid than eagles he grabbed it and ran before the neighbors saw his boxers.

He ran into the house and called for Ma.

“Now, where did it come from, who would drop off a box?
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Who gave it all??”

And then, in a twinkling, we pranced and pawed through the green and red tote looking for a clue, oh who of who, had dropped it here.
We pushed and prodded well-wrapped boxes and candy canes still no clue, who oh who, had brought it here.

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And what to our wondering eyes did appear a wonderous and mysterious card and note tucked within the lid of the box…

With sweetness, it said “May God Bless you and your family. Merry CHRISTmas

and Happy New Year.” Yet it held no clue, who oh who, had given this bounty to this family.

It is with hearts full of joy and thankfulness, we say thank you to our mysterious person(s) who with a clank at our door, left joy and fun for us to explore.

Merry CHRISTmas and Happy New Year to you!!

When God Changes a Mind

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Back in August hubby and I noticed my heart rate had gone down significantly, like the low 40s.  It continued to be so at a number of doctor appointments–and this was all before I started running again.

Then a few months ago, my breathing started to cause some issues every once in a while.  It got more than a little bothersome.  And a little concerning.  One of my care providers took notice and the tests started.  I had an EKG on the spot–which showed the low heart rate–and then a slew of bloodwork.  This was followed up with another doctor appointment, another EKG showing a low heart rate, a heart ultrasound, a 24 heart monitor, another EKG, and a nuclear stress test.

In all of this, I had a lot of fear.  Not of what they would find, but that they would find nothing. I’ve had my share of opportunities to be a medical mystery and I was terrified that would happen again.  Really, really scared.  And scared of the shortness of breath.  My doctor had told me I could run if my breathing would tolerate it, but it ended up curtailed.  I ended up frustrated and scared.

All of the tests are now done.  I went today and got the results; it was a glowing report.  My heart is in great shape.  It recovered beautifully from everything done during the stress test.  The ultrasound showed the heart muscle is in great shape. Blood is flowing really well.

I had stressed my need to run at my first appointment with the cardiologist and did so again today.  He said it is absolutely safe for me to run.

Before the appointment, I had asked the few people who knew about the situation to pray for a solution to it, no matter what it was.  I was still so scared of getting no answers.  As I waited for the doctor to come in, I sat on the table begging and pleading with God for this doctor to know exactly what was going on.  I begged like crazy.  As I sat there pleading, I heard the Lord say, in my spirit, not out loud, “that may not be my plan, wait for it, trust me.”  I ignored what I heard.  It wasn’t what I wanted.  It wasn’t what made sense to me.  Plus, I was too worked up to hear that. And trust isn’t my strong suit.  Trust is too scary.  It takes too much out of my hands.  But I knew I heard it and it stuck there no matter how much I begged for my way.

As the doctor spoke, my brain whispered, “but you’re not getting any answers.  What happens now?”  But the bigger words were those of the doctor.  The words he was using to tell me how healthy I was–how strong my heart was.  I heard him tell me it was okay to run.  He told me my low heart rate was no issue, how it would probably get even lower as I train for my half marathon next year.

And I was okay.  Where there had been fear at not having an answer, there was now joy and even excitement and a knowledge that in a moment the Lord had reached down and changed my heart.  He had stepped in where I thought I knew best and put his best.  And it was amazing.  How many people get the opportunity handed to them as they are training for a half marathon to find out their heart is in great condition and can stand the work set before it?  What a gift I was given over the last six weeks.

Yes, there are still questions.  And I plan on following up with my doctor to get my lungs checked out, but for now, I have been given an early Christmas present and I am going to receive it with open arms.

Psalm 29:11

The Lord gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.


The Day Mama Marched

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.


My husband and I met over 14 years ago at our church.  We were both part of the singles ministry there.  I just visited at first, but as time went on I came to more and more of the activities.  At the time, the singles group took up two rows of seats (actually pews) in the service time.  For some reason, the group chose to sit way up front.  Like 3 rows from the pulpit.  It seemed a little close to me, but so be it…I sat up there too.  No biggie.

Hubby and I got married, moved to a different Sunday School class, started having kids, and along came Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, along with debilitating Social Anxiety.  Attending church became very, very difficult for me.  Sitting up front was out of the question.  I sat as far back as possible most of the time–if not in the foyer.

And hubby noticed.

He realized he could gauge how well I was doing in my head by where I sat in church.  When things were rough I either sat in the foyer or way in the back of the sanctuary.  On the rare good days, I would head much further up in the seating area.  I didn’t notice, but he sure did…and when he mentioned it to me, I started paying attention and he was right.

This weekend was pretty good for me.  Busy, but I handled most of it.  Saturday had some rough spots, where I have to admit I was afraid I was going to lose it, but I didn’t and by Sunday I was okay.

Sunday morning I walked into that church and marched up to the front.  Hubby said, “look at you going right to the front!”

“Of course I am, my babies are singing and I need pictures!”

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It’s Christmas time–time for Christmas programs and yesterday was ours.  The girls sang in both services and had a Christmas party in between.  And this year I was strong enough to be right up front–so close during the first service that Caitlyn could see us and tried to smile for the pictures.

All along, my fight to be well has been for my family–specifically my girls.  The last six years hasn’t been easy on any of us but yesterday was a victory for all of us…the day mama marched into the church to take pictures.

Enjoy What You’re Doing

Ten or so years ago, hubby and I rang a bell at a Salvation Army Kettle.  It is a chilly project, but low stress and high fun.  That experience was before kids.  I decided a couple weeks ago it was time to do it again–as a family of five!!

So, this afternoon we bundled up (glad it wasn’t as cold today as it was earlier this week) and headed out to the Post Office.

We sang, we danced, we said Merry Christmas and thank you!

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We had lots of comments from people saying we looked like we were having fun.  One guy, motioned over to hubby as he danced to Dominick the Donkey, and said, “you gotta enjoy what you are doing!”

And we did.

We were out there 2 hours and 20 minutes.  There were no bell ringers when we got there, so we just started our shift a little early.  People responded well.  Our bucket was completely full when we returned it to the Salvation Army Citadel this afternoon.

Our toes were cold, but our hearts were full from being able to do our part to help.

Retirement Age

Sixty-five.  Today my dad would have been 65.

But as you likely know, he only made it to 53 before we lost him to a car accident.  Like many, he worried about how to pay for retirement.  But, he never made it.  I think of that every time I hear someone fussing out when they are going to retire, needing to save their money to retire, putting things off until retirement.  I am in no ways saying we shouldn’t save for retirement, we definitely should if we are able.  But remember, retirement is not guaranteed.  We are only promised today.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matthew 6:34

Make wise decisions.  Do not live for tomorrow.  Remember to live today. Remember to love those in your life today.  Remember to be present today.

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A Bit of Pinterest for Christmas

A friend posted a picture of melted crayon ornaments today. I have seen this many times before on Facebook and Pinterest, but always forget to make them.  There is no other excuse, I mean, we have crayons coming out our ears, I have 3 clear ornaments just waiting for a craft, and there is always our trusty hair dryer that only ever gets used for crafts.

The time was today!

First, you pull the wrappers off crayons, who doesn’t enjoy doing that. then you break them into pieces, put them in a clear ornament and heat.

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Woo hoo, finally did a craft I’ve been putting off…and it took all of 20 minutes…

And Bipolar Does It Again

All to the Glory of God–that is why I blog and share my story so openly.  I want others to know it is possible to live and parent well with mental illness.  This, by necessity, causes my posts to be brutally honest, and that is not always pretty.
I have always endeavored to live by the verse 2 Corinthians 12:9
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.


I know I have talked a lot about what makes Bipolar Disorder difficult.  Want to know why?  Because it is.  Even when I am very, very stable, it is difficult.

Bipolar does not “just” make you happy or sad, it affects how you feel emotions.  For example, my daughters have been begging for a dog for MONTHS.  My hubby and I have both had dogs and love them, but we were enjoying not having to clean up poop, or take a dog out, or clean up dog hair, or find someone to take care of the dog when we are out of town.  So, we said no.

They kept begging.  Over time, I softened.  I remembered how nice and calming it is to have a dog curl up with you and to sit and pet the dog, and just that love you get from a dog.

I decided a dog was worth all the trouble.

Daddy still needed some convincing.

Then, out of the blue, daddy told me he was on board with getting a dog.

I went to work looking for one.  I visited animal shelters, I went to rescue events, I searched the internet by the hour.  I applied for a dog.  I called on dogs.  Nothing.  I was getting so frustrated with the process of applications, home visits, references.  All of it.

Until Wednesday.

I found this little gem and decided to try one more application.

2016-12-11 20.42.16I  had to provide info on place of employment, references, vet information–the whole bit.  I submitted it and we were approved about 20 minutes later!!!  Daddy and I got pretty excited as we kept our secret.  I told the girls we had to go shopping for a few puppy items to donate to an animal shelter since we didn’t have our own dog.
They bought it.  They even believed that the lady bringing him over was just a friend of mine visiting.  Daddy and I looked at him, asked our questions and decided he was the one.  We asked the girls what they thought and they were non-committal…until they figured out we meant to keep him.  Sue finally said, “wait–we’re getting a dog!!!  EEEEEEEKKKKKK”

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I had worked for months and weeks to make this happen.  The girls were so happy.  Hubby was impressed with the puppy, and I panicked.

My anxiety went up so, so fast!  I started crying and shaking.

I wanted to enjoy this so much.  Soooo much.  And what do I get?

Anxiety and sadness.  Lots and lots of anxiety and sadness.

Such an exciting fun thing.

And the Bipolar stole it from me.

I know it will be okay.  We are having a great time with him.  He is learning SO quickly, the girls are taking their new responsibilities very seriously.  He is already part of the family.  I am sure we made the right decision, but right now, I am just sad, and a little mad, that the Bipolar has stolen from me again.


Feeding Our Feelings

Last night I cooked a whole chicken for my family.  I bought it months ago and ended up throwing it in the freezer waiting for a good time to cook it.  But that time never came because I never remembered to take it out to thaw.

But then last week, I got an early Christmas present.  Amazon had an amazing sale on an Instant Pot, and electric pressure cooker, and I read you could cook frozen meat in it.  I pulled out that chicken, planning to cook it Wednesday night, but when it came time to cook it frozen, I got cold feet, and ended up waiting another day to let it thaw in the refrigerator.  So last night was the night…I was going to cook this chicken.  And it was going to be falling off the bone when it was done.  And everyone was going to love it.

It sort of turned out that way.  It was fall off the bone in no time.  The whole family ate it, which is close to loving it, and no one complained about it.  Thing is, I’m not sure how sold I am on the chicken.  Maybe I am just too spoiled by Costco Rotisserie chickens.  They can’t be natural, I mean look at the size of them, but they sure are yummy.  And literally no work at all.  Hmmmm.

But to be honest, none of that is the point of this post.

I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately.  Not about what I eat, though that is a constant battle as food is often the enemy for me, but rather, how we use food in our lives.

Recently, a dear friend and  her family were brought to a challenge.  A big one.  They are walking through the situation as beautiful beacons of Christ.  I am just trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus in their lives.  My first response to this new life event for them–can I bring a meal?  I’m bringing over some freezer meals for you.

And I wasn’t alone in my response.  Many people brought food…and we all keep asking if we can bring more.

It is that way when life is hard, it is that way when our lives are overflowing with joy–like a birth or adoption, family gatherings, church events.  Anything that brings us together involves food.

It is the essence of our lives.  It brings us together.

Sometimes when I bring food to someone, it is made from scratch, other times it is bought in the store, but regardless, it is my love and support in a tangible way.

What are your thoughts on food?  Do you take meals to other?   Are they homemade or store-bought?  Does your family have a particular food they eat at the holidays that doesn’t get eaten the rest of the year?