Friday, July 1, 2016

Just Keep Moving!

Two months ago I was riding my bike.  I decided to take a short cut to get back to the main road.  This short cut involved some dirt…and my bike got stuck…I went to pedal forward and my bike wouldn’t move. 

As I tried to pedal but couldn’t move I found myself starting to tip over.  I knew that I was going to fall over if I didn’t put my foot down to prevent it.  As I placed my foot on the ground my ankle immediately twisted and I heard and felt a snap.  The pain was intense!  Immediately I could feel it start to swell.

As I lay there on the ground with a wounded bleeding hand and a painful massively swollen ankle, I realized that I was going to be unable to ride home.  I was only about two miles from home…but there was no way I could do it. 

My first feeling was panic and this intense feeling of being alone.  There was no one around me on the path…I was by myself.  My husband was dead.  He couldn’t come and help me.  Now what?  Quickly though I felt prompted to call a dear friend for help.  Cell phones can be such a blessing!  She was about 20 minutes away but willingly agreed to come and pick me up.  I was so relieved to see her beautiful face arrive!

As my friend got me home and helped me in to my house, she immediately began to address my wounds.  She propped my ankle up and put ice on it.  She got hydrogen peroxide and started to work on my hand to get the gravel out of it…not sure which hurt worse my ankle or the digging at my hand to get out the debris!  

Because of the immense swelling in my ankle, my friend felt that she needed to have our neighbor look at it—he happens to be a P.A.  He was concerned and had me go for x-rays.  The x-rays revealed a fractured fibula in my ankle…and I had severely sprained tendons on both sides.  I was sent to an orthopedic surgeon.  Fortunately, my injury did not require surgery.  I was placed in a boot and had to limit usage of the ankle.  Gratefully, I am no longer wearing the boot and am finally able to start using it more…it is just going to take some time for it to be completely healed.

I would like to share a couple of the things I have learned from this experience. First, we are not alone even if it at times it feels that way and there is no one visibly around us.  As I mentioned, I felt so alone after I was first injured, then I felt a calm come over me.  I was prompted as to how to get help.  I was guided from the other side of the veil…we are being watched over by a loving God and His ministering angels—both heavenly and earthly angels.  

Even if you don’t feel the calm or recognize the help you are receiving from God…it is there!  I love this statement by Jeffery R. Holland because I believe it is true, “On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal.”

The second thought I would like to share is that we must keep moving forward.  As I learned, in order for a bike to remain upright you must keep pedaling and moving forward.  If you become stuck and/or stop pedaling, you will fall.  Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”

There will be those moments that you simply feel you can’t move forward and you may find yourself falling into deep sadness, regret, loneliness, despair, or any other myriad of emotions.   Don’t just lay there if you do fall down. Get back up! You don’t have to nurse your wounds alone. Turn to God, and allow others to help you.  You are never alone!

And remember there are always angels among us!

And don't forget to Move (Keep Walkin')!  This song will inspire you to get up and move!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Embrace Your Potential

Recently, a friend sent me this quote, “Chinese philosophers would say: don’t discover who you are, let alone embrace what you find. Instead of choosing self-acceptance, choose self-cultivation. Instead of embracing yourself, overcome yourself. This is not just how you become a flourishing adult. It is the best way to create a flourishing world.” –Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh

As I pondered this quote, I reflected not only on the past five years, but more specifically on the past six months of my life.  In November 2015, I decided I wanted to find joy in my life again.  I wanted to truly live instead of merely exist.  But what needed to change so I could experience this?

During Paul’s illness, I was a caregiver for both him and my children.  I was exhausted most of the time and barely took any time for myself.  As a result, I neglected some of my basic needs like eating healthy and exercise.

Obviously, if you eat crappy and don’t exercise you gain weight.  After Paul’s death, I was experiencing the many ups and downs of the grieving process.  I spent hours praying to God, reading the scriptures, serving other people and expressing my gratitude, but something was missing. I needed to lose weight and I didn’t feel healthy.  BUT… I had decided to accept myself for who I was.  However, acceptance of ones self does not equate to self-love.

My life changed for the better when I realized that eating unhealthy and lack of exercise was a crutch for me.  It was not something to embrace, but something to overcome. So, I started to eat healthy and exercise. 

Here I am 6 months later, 30 pounds lighter and a whole lot healthier and happier! In this journey, I have discovered I can do more than I ever thought possible.  And, yes, I have even learned to love vegetables!

A few weeks ago I had an accident on my bike that left me with a broken ankle.  I was devastated, not because of the pain, but because of the inconvenience.  Exercise is for my mental therapy as much as it is for the physical aspect.  I started to cry when the doctor told me no exercise on that ankle for at least a month. Fortunately, the fracture is not in a weight-bearing bone, so I was given a lovely boot to wear for the next month or two.

Right after I had my accident I felt such frustration! I had worked so hard to achieve success…I was feeling a joy and happiness that I had not felt in a long it felt as if it was being ripped from me.

After having a few pity-party moments, I realized just because I have a broken ankle, it didn’t mean I can’t exercise. I just have to do it differently.  After all, I had experienced worse things, like the death of my husband!  And I already knew it was possible to learn how to do things differently.  So, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and look for new exercise routines.

What is the purpose of a trial?  It doesn’t push you to do more of what you love or are already good at.  It pushes you to do things you don’t think you can or want to do.  If God only wanted us to do the things we love and are comfortable with, we wouldn’t need trials.

So with this new trial, I have discovered that I am learning to focus on the areas of my body that were not as strong--my upper body and abs.   I am unable to do the exercise I was already good at and loved.   And, oh I how miss it!  I see people out riding bikes or running down the sidewalk and I ache to participate.

When my husband died, all the dreams and plans we’d made were shattered.  Once I started to pick up the pieces, I realized that I can do more and be more than I thought.  I have decided not to embrace widowhood, but to overcome it!  I don’t have to embrace my broken ankle either, I can overcome it.  When we embrace something that means we just accept it, but when we overcome something it means we have achieved success!  

So, what is helping me to overcome widowhood?  I have learned to intentionally seek out things that are new to me—things that may even scare me.  Not long after Paul died, I bought a UTV and a trailer to tow it on.  The first time I towed it I was scared out of my mind—mostly because I am not good at backing it up.  I absolutely love riding the UTV and am happy to say I’m getting more comfortable with the trailer. 

There are many things I have been able to try and successfully do.  And some of those things were out of necessity, such as fixing broken toilets, edging my lawn, and fixing broken sprinkler heads, and the list goes on…

I believe life is not about discovering who you are but about discovering who you can become.  It is when you learn to embrace your potential, rather than embrace your situation that you become your best self.  It is easy to do the things you love and are good at, but more satisfying and growth promoting to discover that you can do things you didn’t know you could.

As mentioned in my previous post OVERCOMER, the first step to overcoming is turning to God through prayer and scripture study.  The next step is to trust that He will help you find the different ways you can achieve and grow from your experiences—in essence helping you to achieve your highest potential!

Friday, April 29, 2016


It was October 2009.  Life was good—no it was amazing!  And then...everything in our life started to change. I remember when it happened. It was the day after we had these family pictures taken...  

I ended up at the hospital with severe pain and a diagnosis of diverticulitis.  After a few days in the hospital and 10 days of IV antibiotics I was finally on the mend.  At the time I was really surprised that I had this situation arise.  I had been eating really healthy and exercising—I was in the best shape I had been in since before I had my children.

Isn’t it funny how, often as we look back on life’s experiences, we see those painful trials really prepare us for the next situation that is headed our way.  I was stronger because of what I experienced and had a new understanding of pain and overcoming.

Just a couple months after I had my hospital stay, my husband reinjured his back while helping someone move.  He’d already had two previous surgeries from a broken back and this just proved to be more than his back could handle.

With surgery finally scheduled in May 2010, we were hopeful that we might start to get our life back as we knew it.  But no such luck.  He was that “less-than-1% chance” something would go wrong.  While moving his iliac artery over, a vein ripped and he bled out on the table.  Yes, he coded.  No pulse.  No blood pressure.   Miraculously, by the grace of God, and with the help of two vascular surgeons and 15 units of blood, he lived and had no brain or any other apparent damage.  Just one problem…a big problem…his back still was not fixed.

So, two months later we went back for another surgery. Obviously, since the attempt to perform the surgery the first time going through the front of his abdomen didn’t work, they opted to perform a spinal fusion through his back.  This was successful.

After a very painful and stressful six months, my husband was finally able to return to work.  Little did I know at the time--those surgeries were just more stepping-stones in preparation for the next obstacle about to hit us.

On November 28, 2011, we received a phone call that forever changed our lives.  My husband, was told the horrific news that he had stomach cancer. It was a moment of sheer terror and disbelief.  Within two weeks of receiving that phone call, he had surgery to completely remove his stomach.

The surgery was only the beginning of our 14-month battle.  There were issues with eating without a stomach, strictures forming in the esophagus, chemotherapy, scans, pain, vomiting, and severe weight loss.  The list goes on and on.

In July 2012, my dad had a massive heart attack.  About three weeks after surviving a quintuple bypass surgery, he was finally allowed to go home.  Four days after his return home my mom was rushed to the hospital with breathing issues.  It was discovered that she had pneumonia. Two days later she died.   My mom had been suffering beforehand from a weakened lung condition--the doctors figured she caught the pneumonia while visiting my dad in the hospital.

On February 25, 2013, just six months after my mom died, my husband lost his battle with stomach cancer—leaving me a widow to raise our two young daughters.  In September 2015, after feeling like I was getting my feet back on the ground, my father died. 

I have been pondering my life’s story.  I am discovering life is about overcoming the pain…the fear…the sorrow…the disappointments…the loss.  But how does one overcome these things?

As a grieving person you have probably been provided with to-do lists to help with the grieving process through books, social media, family members, etc...  But, how often do you actually DO what is written and/or prescribed?  Grieving requires more than a mere written to-do list.  It requires ACTION.  It is in the action that we heal. 

Someone who is grieving tends to feel overwhelmed easily and often times forget the simplest of words or tasks.  So, for someone to give you a long to-do list it can become daunting.  There is one word that best describes what has helped me the most in my grieving process.  God.

For today I am offering you this challenge.  Throw away your current to-do list and write a two-do list.  One, turn to God in prayer.  Two, read His word through scripture study.  Voila, now you have your two-do list!

I have tried grieving both ways—with God’s help and without.  And it is much easier to do this with His help!  With God's help you can overcome your trials.

You are an OVERCOMER!