February 17, 2015

Family Valentines

With Valentine's Day falling on a Saturday this year, I thought it would be fun to make a family day out of it.  And honestly, all I really want on any Valentine's Day is some pretty flowers.  I'm easy like that.

Lately, Todd and I have been in pretty major get-out-of-debt mode so we are watching our expenses more closely.  We opted out of a big fancy date this year and decided to save what we might have spent on dinner.  I knew though that if I wanted to do something for the boys, I couldn't go too crazy either.  So, I went to the store, spent about $20 on paper hearts and candy and cups and made a special Valentine's breakfast.  I was proud of myself for being able to create something fun and exciting for the boys and have it be so cheap!
Conversation hearts as a filler for a candle holder is a total Pinterest hack.  Also, do people even actually eat them?
Tommy's valentines included candy, new markers and a drawing pad.  I think he has drawn on every single page already.
And Jacob got a cute monkey since stuffed animals are his favorite thing in the universe.
Holidays are the only time I ever even think about letting my children consume candy at the start of the day.
For breakfast, I cut out hearts with a cookie cutter and made french toast.

Super cute right?!

We also had bacon and strawberries and cinnamon rolls since cinnamon rolls were the one thing Tommy had asked for.  I had some questions on the table too for us all to answer while we ate breakfast together - and Tommy thought it was the best "game" ever.  What do you love most about Tommy/Jacob?  What do you think it means to love someone?  How do you know Jesus loves you? What things do you love most?  It was fun having love-centered conversation around the table that morning.   Jacob wasn't into it though seeing as he started throwing conversation hearts at us and needed a bath after consuming lollipops and chocolate and syrup and frosting - oh goodness, he had a sugar fest.  But it was a sweet, chaotic, lovely time.

And because we all had some sugar to burn off, we spent the afternoon at the park. 

Tommy finally learned how to pump his own legs on the swing that day.  His smile says it all.

And next to stuffed animals and eating sweet things, swinging is his favorite thing to do.  The kid basically had the best day of his entire short life.  Sugar, stuffed animals and swinging all in one day?!

We ended our day with homemade burgers on the grill and watched a movie together.  It ended up being one of my most favorite Valentine celebrations ever.  So, so much love and sweetness to go around.

February 16, 2015

Foolishness, surrender and rheumatoid arthritis

It's easy to feel foolish.  Like when you make that one mistake that leaves you feeling like an idiot.  Or when you assume something to be true and it ends up not being that way.  We can make asses of ourselves and say dumb things.  (I do this frequently).  Or in my case, thinking that this thing had gone away forever - when it hasn't.

I guess you could say, I am feeling foolish.

When pain consumed my entire body head to toe, and then suddenly disappeared, I decided a miracle happened.  And whatever my blood-work had said before or whatever the diagnosis had been, I claimed that something miraculous took place.  And maybe it did.  It was miraculous that my Rheumatoid Arthritis, diagnosed as a severely aggressive case, went dormant. 

Well, until now that is. 

I've been in denial for months.  It started in October of last year.  I remember waking up with that familiar feeling, though at the time, was only a slight discomfort and stiffness in my fingers.  And as the months progressed, pain came with it, spreading to knees and elbows and ankles.  I was keeping it "at bay" with over the counter pain relievers and after the morning time, I was fine again.  I guess I kept hoping it would go away as miraculously as it had before.

But, it hasn't.  It's only gotten increasingly worse.  And I've been left sitting in my foolishness.

The last two weeks have been especially terrible.  My hands were taking longer to stretch out from their deformed state in the morning - these frozen, stiff fingers curled under.  And the pain was so bad in my hands that it would wake me up at night just shifting in my sleep or adjusting my covers.  And I realized that it was my choice to be feeling this pain - all I needed to do was go see my doctor.  But in going, I would have to admit that something was wrong again.  That my body needs help.  That there is damage happening in my joints and I need to have all of this checked out again so I still have a chance to live and thrive even if it means medications and treatments that, honestly, scare the hell out of me.

Calling my doctor felt like surrender and defeat.  Like this thing has beat me and I lost.  I couldn't heal myself enough or do something right enough to make this auto-immune thing go away forever.  As if I had made it go away on my own the first time.  But I've been beating myself up, going to shame and self-contempt.  Feeling broken and diseased.  And again, feeling foolish.

I recognize this pattern.  I do the same thing anytime I feel the need to see my counselor.  Or when I need to go back and rehash a piece of my story that is making my heart bleed out all over again.  I have these expectations of myself to have my shit together all the time because somehow I believe I should have arrived and have all of the answers for all of the things and be able to live fully and whole and alive all the time. I hate asking for help.  And I have a love-hate relationship with the feeling of surrender that comes with it.  Both great fear and great relief at the same time.

In the last few days, when I've allowed myself to slow down enough to be still, I have found myself spinning in anxiety.  Traveling down the what-if roads of my past and future, and afraid of what will be diagnosed in the present.  It is always hard to fight to stay present in these moments instead of jumping into the next season prematurely. 

When I can quiet my heart enough, I hear Him though.  He is faithful to speak to my heart even when I've done nothing but doubt and question and distance myself from Him.  His sweet, soft voice that whispers the familiar truths - My grace is sufficient for you.  My strength is made perfect in your weakness.  Be strong, be courageous - for I am with you.  I will never leave you or forsake you.  Don't worry about tomorrow.  Come to me with your heaviness and heartache and I will give you rest.  I love you.

He never calls me foolish.

I go in on Monday and in the meantime, she gave me some meds to help with the inflammation and pain.  Tonight, I am sitting in that middle ground of surrender where I am greatly afraid and so incredibly grateful for some rest and relief.