Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas Is Here

Christmas is typically my favorite time of year. I love the lights. I love the tree. I love the movies. I love the carols.
I love the Reason for this season.
This year I've had a tough time getting into the groove of things.
It really didn't hit me until this morning when we were singing in church.
I got this sudden 'goosebumps' feeling and it hit me like a wave.
It's Christmas.
I've been so focused on everything that needed to be done. There were so many presents to be bought. I needed to decorate. I needed to make this the best Christmas ever. I needed the perfect Christmas picture.

Perfect. In a year that was not.

2012 has been a roller coaster year. It seems like one thing after another has happened. Three surgeries - countless er visits - deaths - loss - pain - change.
There have been more tears shed in this year than in any year I can remember (by me at least).

But it is also the year that the second greatest moment of my life occurred. Second only to my salvation, is my wedding to Al.
How do you fully caption a year that has included such great joy in the midst of so many trials?


My pastor described it so well this morning. Anyone can find happiness. Temporary things bring lots of happiness. But there is something that is so much further beyond that.


And this year I found a depth of joy that I did not know existed. It's the joy that can only really been felt and understood in the midst of pain.

Joy that is unexplainable.

This year, as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I will remember 2012 for all that it has held.
And I will remember the joy that I have discovered.

Oh - and I am pretty sure I have settled on my One Word for 2013. I'm both excited and nervous about it.  :)  Expect to be hearing about that soon.

Merry Christmas to you all.
Be loved.
Find joy.

Luke 2
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to their own town to register.
 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Does God See? Does God Hear?

Ever go through one of those phases where you are just not sure that He is paying attention?
Surely if He was paying attention these things would not be happening?
There are some situations that persist for so long that we cannot help but wonder.
I think about the people who lived in the 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
After thousands of years of God speaking, represented by the OT, God was silent.

Can you imagine?
Can you imagine 400 years of waiting silence while Heaven anticipated and Earth groaned?
400 years passed without a hopeful message. 400 years passed with only the hope that Isaiah was right and a Messiah would come. 400 years of sacrifices, deaths, births, and life.

4 Hundred Years.

It seems hopeless. It had to seem hopeless at the time.

Looking back we know that something so great was about to happen. But those living in the silence had no idea.

Think about day 399. Hope was coming. But day 399 had to be just as hopeless as day 20 or 268.
Can you imagine?

Then Hope came. It didn't come as many expected. The Messiah didn't ride into Bethlehem on a big white charger.
He came via a teenage girl in a stable.

My point?
You may be on day 268. But you may be on day 399.
Do not give up hope.
Hope is always worth it. It may seem painful. But it is worth it.
When He comes, it will definitely be worth it.

Live in hope. Live today and tomorrow like it is day 399.
Oh - and don't be surprised if what you've been waiting for comes in an unexpected package. :O)


Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Post That is Not my 6 Month Surgery Post...

So I really wanted to do a 6 month post on how things have been going since surgery.
But I'm having one of those "difficult to process" mental weeks.  So I think I shall come back next week with my update and some pictures.
In the meantime, let's do a list.  :O)

0 - The number of times that I can look at a can of Pringles without eating at least one.
1 - (:00 am)The number on the clock when I finally laid down to sleep this morning.
2 - Number of times that I hit "snooze" this morning before my Dad called and woke me up.
3 - Number of fun people who ate lunch with me today (Dad, Gem, Kristy)
4 - Number of times that I considered exercising tonight before opting to look at tax forms.
5 - Number of times that I considered burning said tax forms.  :O)
6 - First number on our thermostat (64 degrees currently)
7 - Days in this week... even though it feels more like 14
8 - Number of numbers that it took before the word "number" started looking weird. :o)
9 - First number of total weight loss at 6 months out 93 pounds (WOOT!)
10 - Number of times I will probably look at this post for typos and stupid things being said and still manage to miss something.

Night folks.
Happy Friday-eve!!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Listening in the Silence

This morning was a powerful morning for me in church.
So many of you have walked with me through a journey of obedience from way back.
I can sing. I love to sing. My most powerful worship moments have almost always been either leading in worship or private worship with the piano.

Ok - that's maybe a bit off topic here but important to note.  :O)
I got the privilege to help lead worship this morning at my new church. It's a huge deal for me in so many ways. If you've "done life" with me for long you understand that. If you haven't... well it's a long story.
Anyhoo - also off my topic a little bit there.

I love being a part of a worship team. It was never something I saw for myself because of my issues with being up in front of people. But it is something I have worked hard to overcome and be obedient when the chance is put before me.

This morning was one of those mornings when God very clearly and distinctly spoke something straight to me that I would have missed if I hadn't been in just that place.
Then tonight in youth it was confirmed to me again. I love it when God repeats Himself for those of us who are slow. :)

One of my all-time favorite passages in the Bible is in 1 Kings 19:11-12 (HCSB)

Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the Lord’s presence.”
At that moment, the Lord passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquakeAfter the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.

So often in life, the challenge to hearing God's voice is to be truly quiet. Have you noticed how much noise surrounds us in this world? There seem to be fewer and fewer places that we can count on for solitude. Most often, we have to really seek a quiet place to find one.

The problem is that God rarely screams at us through the mighty wind and fire. He does that sometimes... but that's a whole other story. :O)
Usually we have to wade through those things to hear the soft whisper of His Spirit.

This morning, in the midst of my own whirlwind, there was a soft whisper.

It was a gentle reminder that I can trust Him. It was a firm promise that He is still working. It was an assurance that, in giving over a troubling situation to His control, I can also give over the thought that I can still control it.

And it was smack in the middle of something I could easily have missed if I was not paying attention.

I am thankful for the places that God has put me at this stage in my life.

If I am being honest, and I'm a fan of that, most of these situations are not what I would have chosen if you had asked me 10 years ago.

But I am so very thankful that God directs us to places that will make us into who He wants us to be and doesn't leave us in places that would just make us happy or comfortable all the time.


Friday, December 07, 2012

Things To Remember - Christmas Edition

So Al and I have spent several Christmases together but this will be our first Christmas together as a married couple.
When we got married our friend Joel got us these sweet little frog ornaments that are a bride and groom.
I could not wait to put them on the tree.
Our poor tree is a little tipsy. Every time I try to move it, or just because it feels like it, it starts to lean.
The other day I noticed that our frog bride has shifted as well. 
This is what she is now doing:
Isn't she cute? I love the way she just seems to be gazing at her man.  :0)

Tonight it made me think of how the way we see the people we love can shift.  When you first meet your "person" it's almost like they can do no wrong. You've got love blinders on. "Oh he smacks when he chews his food... isn't that cute?" But years later it can turn into homicidal thoughts. "Can't he close his mouth?"  :)

I've been reading this great book called "Love & War." One of the points that they make several times is that we can chose what we react to in our marriage. So he can't seem to get his socks in the hamper. So she can't seem to wipe the toothpaste out of the sink. These are only big issues if we make them big issues.
If we are in this together, if we are in this for life, then we will not major on the minor things in any of our relationships.

As for me, I hope I always remember to gaze at  my man with love in my eyes. He's a stud. I know realistically that there will be times when that is more of a choice than a feeling.
So when  that happens I want to make sure that I remember the right choice.


PS - thanks so much for those of you who have been praying for a job for me. I have one in the pipes now that I should start next week.  Keep praying for my brother, Gem, and so many others who need to find that same thing.

Monday, December 03, 2012

I'm Outta Control

Well we all know that I have spent the last few months trying to find a job right?
You want to know what kind of situations drive a control freak absolutely insane?

If you guessed "not being in control," you are absolutely correct.
Last night I mentioned to the husband that I felt like "waiting" was my lifelong topic.

I really think the main reason for that is because God knows the lesson that I will most likely always have some element of struggle with.


I spent a bit of time tonight wondering why that might be.
Why does the mountain I keep circling in my wilderness experiences always seem to have "Waiting" etched in stone on it?

I believe it is because waiting on others to do something causes me to realize my lack of control in the situation.

That's not just one situation in my life friends. That includes multiple situations.

Will they hire me? Not in my control.
Will I ever get married? Not in my control. I did FYI... but this was on my waiting list for many years!
Will I ever be a mother? Not entirely in my control.
Will I ever be fully healed? Not in my control.
Will I ever _____ (insert new waiting situation here)? Not. In. My. Control.

It's enough to make the control freak in me insane.
But I think I may be (I will not say this next sentence definitively... I know better) getting the hang of this lesson.

Proverbs 16:9
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps.

I don't determine what happens next in these situations. But I am intimately involved with the One who does. 

Most importantly though, I can trust Him.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths

And you can trust Him too.

Trusting and Waiting

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Dancing like Shaun the Sheep

So last night Al and I had the chance to have dinner and go to a concert with our sweet friends Rex and Becky.  Couple friends - who just happened to have been instrumental in Al and I meeting and dating. 
What a blessing to have couple friends!
But I am getting off of my topic.
Wait what was I talking about?
Oh yes, nothing yet.  :O)
Yesterday as I was getting ready I realized that it was the first time in this whole journey that I physically saw a major difference in myself.
Honestly after almost 6 months it is a little frustrating to not "see" these things for myself.
So I found it really encouraging that there was a "wow" moment for me last night.
There are a lot of things that I want to make sure I share here because they are shared moments that I see in reading other WLS blogs or checking message boards.
One big one that seems to be common is the inability to see these changes even when they are so dramatic to other people.
I think a big part of that is because we see ourselves in the mirror every day. Also the people who are around us every day - work, home, etc. are in the same boat in some respects because they see us every day.
But when you take a picture like this one:

And put it next to a picture like this one:

You really can't help but do a little happy dance.
Insert mental picture of Gina's Shaun the Sheep happy dance... here let me help you:

I'm going to try to be a little nicer to myself this week. I'm going to try to get some exercising back in my regimen.
Hopefully when I wake up in the morning that magical 1 lb will be gone and I'll finally be able to say I've lost 90 pounds instead of 89.

Also - hoping also to have a job soon.
I sure thing a schedule would help things greatly.  :O)
That's all I wanted to say really.
Plus wanted to show off a little teeny bit.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bouncy Castle Friends

Last night I did some thinking about the friends who have kept me rolling these last couple of years.
I have good friends. I have friends who have grocery shopped for me, brought me meals, done my laundry, and cleaned my house.
I've been so blessed to be surrounded, in all phases of my life, with good people.

Tonight I'd like to address a special variety of friendship that I am thankful for these days.
I call them Bouncy Castle Friends.  :O)
These are the people that I am certain would follow me even into the most insane scenarios "just because" we're friends.

I think of them as "Bouncy Castle Friends" because I'm certain the folks I'm thinking of tonight would happily toss their shoes and jump into a bouncy castle with me... you know who you are. I'd name a few, but y'all I have some crazy friends!

Some of my BCFs have demonstrated this kind of insanity. Some of them, well I'm just pretty sure we're going there some day. 

If you know me at all (and really... you should...), I like a good time.
I'm happiest when things are happy.  :O)
I can be serious, but who wants to do that all the time? Not. Me!

So here's to my bouncy castle friends and the many more years of insane joy that lie ahead.
I still plan on being a bcf well into my 80's... so stay healthy people.

Bounding and Bouncing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Not There Yet

I think one of the things that I am still really struggling with overall is my perceptions of things versus reality.
I consider myself a pretty positive person.

But lately I am fighting a daily mental battle that is so strong I am having to daily remind myself that God is bigger.

I think a lot of it boils down to all the "down" time that I have had over this last year.
But I have noticed that it has gotten progressively worse in the last few months.
What do I attribute it to?


Now hang on... I did NOT say my husband.  I said marriage.  :O)

Hubs is super-duper. Didn't we cover that in an earlier post?

I think I shall call this syndrome the  "aren't things supposed to be perfect now?" syndrome.

When you've lived the first 36 years of your life as a singleton it is easy to build marriage (or just not being single) up into the perfect scenario.
Life will be all roses and candlelight if I can just find the man of my dreams.
I won't still struggle with self doubt when I have someone who has chosen to be with only me.
I won't still have self image issues when he finally gets here.

Ladies (and gents I suppose) that is a lie, lie, lie.
Issues you carry with you before you say "I do," you will carry with you after.

And some issues that you thought you had "fixed" will rear up their ugly little head again.
I remember reading somewhere that God didn't give us marriage to make us happy but to make us holy.
So lately I've been thinking a lot about that.
Remember in the Old Testament when something needed to be purified how they managed that task?
Water, blood or FIRE.

Numbers 31:2
everything that can stand the fire, you shall pass through the fire, and it shall be clean, but it shall be purified with water for impurity. But whatever cannot stand the fire you shall pass through the water.

Living life in intimate, daily contact with someone can be like walking through fire. It is definitely like walking through a spotlight. Little things can be big issues quick when someone else is always there.

Tonight, despite this seemingly depressing post,  :O) I bring hope.

The one who called you to the life you now lead is preparing you for the life that is to come.

He. Is. With. You. 
He won't leave you alone to sit and soak in your "issue" of the day.
He is with you right where you are at this second even if it is a purifying fire or a drenching downpour of grief.

Isaiah 43:2
 When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

Be encouraged if/when you are walking through the fire of purification or water.

Singed but blessed. :O)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thankful for Much

As I sit here writing is is almost 9 pm on Saturday night.
It's the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
I've been doing my weekly Bible Study homework along with some other reading.
And I've also been thinking about the many things in my life this year that I can be thankful for.
We're coming into December very quickly.
In the past I have used my December prayer times to narrow in on the next year. That is where my almost 10 year habit of naming my upcoming year first came from.
Starting tonight I will start to focus in on what next year will bring.
Past year's have been "Joy," "Change," "Healing," and "Hope."
That's just to name a few.  :O)
I have no idea what 2013 will be. But I am really looking forward to finding out.
Tonight I am thinking about the new friends that 2012 has brought. Some of them I can already tell will be the friends that are more like family than "just friends."
I am so very blessed to have a both a biological family that is awesome and a friend family too.
I remember once hearing that most people could count their lifelong friendships on one hand.
I have a quiver full of friends who are not going anywhere... and I've pushed some of them to see. :)

This year has been one of great upheaval and change. There has been drama (and trauma... thank God for great hospitals and ER doctors). There has been new life. There have been new relationships formed.
There has been a new family created.

2012 was a year of untold joy and blessings with some emergency room visits thrown in.
And did I mention the many ER visits? I did. Oh good!

I have nothing else to add here really. But I did want to ask something of you. If I can pray for you, I would count it such a privilege. I've added so many of you to my little prayer binder and have loved it so much.  Please do e-mail me; use facebook/twitter, or comment here.

Finally I have to say that every single person who takes time to read what I rambling-ly write blesses me immensely.
Thanks for spending a little bit of time here.

Blessed  Much

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful for much - aka my husband rocks

Sometimes I have absolutely nothing to say.
This has almost been one of those days.
Then I realized that I am hitting some interesting days with the holidays coming up. There are a lot of firsts in my immediate future.
And I wanted to be all introspective and wise about it.
But I'm not feeling anything all that wise... mostly just introspective.  :)
These are some weird days for me.
I've been jobless since January. I've been out of school since August of the year before that (2011).
I've done just about everything I can think of to try and find a new job for the last two months or so.
Nothing is happening.
Well, lots of things are happening, just none that I can see and nothing job related for sure that I can see.

Like with most things in life I am getting to wait it out.
Hopefully, unlike most things I have waited for, this wait will be quick.

Anyhoo... I started this out to say this:
I have a husband that I love so much that love isn't a strong enough verb.
He was, without a doubt, completely worth the years of singleness that led up to him.

He is super.
Sunday at church I got to brag about how awesome he is. And I got to hear some other people brag on him.

Seriously - if you don't know him, I am sad for you! That's how rad he is.  :O)
So there's that.

I love that he takes the trash out. I hate taking the trash out. But I never even have to think about it these days. He rocks.
I love that he works hard and long at his job to provide for us. I am a well taken care of woman!
I love that he prays for people first. It's his default setting. I'm not sure I've known someone so quick to say "let's pray about it," or "let me pray for you."
I love that he is honest about his failings... they are few... but none of us is perfect. :)
I love that he looks for ways to serve other people. He actually does so much behind the scenes that no one ever sees. He has one of the truest servant's hearts I've ever seen.
I love that impish twinkle that comes into his eyes when he is teasing or pestering.
I love that he can make me laugh even on a cruddy day.
I love that he tolerates (and I daresay is learning to love) my obsession with a certain football team who are torturing me this year.
I love that he loves me.

Finally, and most importantly, I love that he loves God with a passion I never have to doubt or question.

I am thankful for much.
But this year, and hopefully many more years to come, I am especially aware of and thankful for my wonderful, handsome, Godly husband. I pray that I never take a second with him for granted.

And in my prayers for many of you (my single girls... you know who you are) I am praying for your "Biff the Biblical Stud" to come soon.

Happy Thanksgiving week!

Eating normal food is scary

Eating normal food is scary.
I first realized this a little while back. But I was struck more by it on Sunday.
It was the first Thanksgiving meal that I've come up against.  :O)
I'm 5 months out from surgery. So I'm eating a bit more normally.
My biggest concern has always been returning back to bad habits.
These kind of "eating holidays" were part of that concern.
So far, so good.
But it's weird to just get a tablespoon of the yummy treats instead of a cup. 
Ah well.
Life is good.
Food is actually more enjoyable in a lot of ways for me now.
I'm learning what I actually like.
I'm learning to savor and enjoy it.
And I am finding that some things I thought I liked, I really did not.
It's easy to like things when you're swigging them down with 32 oz of sweet tea.

That's my update for here and now.
I'm at 86 pounds now and pretty much holding steady there.
I figure once my body gets over losing that much, that fast, that I will start losing again.
Until then, I learn to like exercise and trying new things.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Right Where I Belong

I've been thinking a lot this week about purpose.
I found entries in an old prayer journal where I asked God repeatedly to show me: where I belonged; where I was called; what my purpose was. Yes, I know that's a terrible sentence. I just didn't know what else to do with it. :O)

I think many of us who earnestly seek after God's will for our lives have wrestled with those same thoughts.

Am I at the right job/ministry?
Am I pursuing the right degree?
Am I dating the right person?
Should I move?
Should I write?
Should I go back to school?

My pastor this morning preached a great sermon that managed to hit me right where I am living as I work toward the "next thing" in my life.
He talked about the qualifications for leadership.
But it was a specific example and verse that really hit home for me.
He said that a lot of people want a ministry of their own when they are not willing to be faithful while working within someone else's ministry/mission.

Luke 16:10 
Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much.

Am I being faithful to what God has called me to do in this second? If I am not, how can I expect that He would intrust me with more?

Um, ouch.

So yes, I am still working towards and praying towards what comes next.
But I am also going to focus on not overlooking where I am right now and being faithful right where He places me.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's Not a Call to Action.

In my quest to be more "here" I think that sometimes I try to be clever or profound when I should just start typing.
Tonight is one of those nights.
I don't feel clever or profound.
As usual, I have about a dozen things rattling in my brain for attention.
I bounce from concern to concern; thought to thought; never staying too long in one place.
I do a lot of solving.
But in most of these cases God has not called me into the solving business.
I'm a fixer.
So hearing a problem, or living a problem, that I cannot fix is just short of torture.
Often we are called upon to "do."
Many times God's clear direction is to step into a situation and bring healing, hope or redemption.

But sometimes we are left in waiting mode.

Sometimes God's clear direction is to listen, hug, be present or simply pray.
As I type "simply pray," I realize that somehow it seems deficient.
It is not.

Prayer is powerful.

Lately I have wondered a lot about how many of these situations would change if God's people would STOP just reacting to the situations of our world and our lives and start diligently praying.

Life without prayer for a Christian should be like like without air - impossible.
But I think we suffer a great lack of prayer in our Christian lives.

We take life too lightly. We value the power of prayer to slightly.

So here I sit tonight realizing that out of my dozen situations there is not one call to "do" but many calls to pray.

So I will.

How can I pray for you?


Oh - but something that totally IS a call to both action and prayer!  :O)  Check out the Compassion Peru trip that is happening right now.  This post by Angie wrecked me in a good way!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Things Normal People Wouldn't Tell You - I'm a Mouse Magnet

So it's time for some idiotic banter here on the blog.
Brought to you by my oddball past: :O)
There are basically three mice stories that my family love to tell tales about.

Mice # 1 and Mice # 2 stories are indistinguishable timewise so we'll pretend they happened in this order.

The houses that I grew up in are basically in the middle of the sticks - surrounded by fields and such you know.

If there is one thing mice seem to like it's fields. Well, that and my grandma's house. :O)

They just like to sneak their little sneaky selves up the basement stairs and invade the house. Most particularly they liked to do it when I was around.
Grandma used Decon (poison) to take care of the little guys. But what they don't tell you is that Decon is like catnip for mice. They go freaking NUTS!!!

So Gina is sitting in the tub relaxing and I start hearing this little squeaking noise following by something hitting the tub. Yep M#1 is trying to vault his way into the tub with me.
I start screaming... but the door is locked and I was too freaked out to move to open it.
Actually my mind has blocked out the ending to that story. Mouse trauma!

Mouse # 2 I stepped on - barefooted... in the DARK. Darkness... fuzzy squeaking... yes I still have nightmares about it.
Cept this time when I started screaming, Grandma and Gem (oldest brother) came running. Grandma had a broom. Gem, well he just stood there laughing at what came next.
For some reason Grandma didn't take the handle end of the broom to the mouse. She decided instead to flog it to death.
FYI - hitting a mouse with the broom end of the broom doesn't really work. mind has blocked out the demise of that particular little vermin as well.
I sense a pattern. :P

Mouse # 3 - I name thee stealthy.
Jeff, Amelia, Jonathan and I all lived together for almost 2 years when Jonathan was a little tyke.
We had some good times.
The most infamous of which involves M#3.
He really only liked to show himself when no one but me was around.
The little dude would hide in the laundry room until he knew I was alone and then scamper out.
No... REALLY. Once I swear he peeked out, saw them sitting with me in the living room and went right back into his hole!
So one night I headed into the kitchen to grab some grub and out he scampered.
Now I did what anyone in their right mind would do if a mouse scampered into their path.
I jumped.
I jumped right the heck up on the kitchen counter.
So when Amelia hears the commotion she comes out to find me on TOP of the counter.
Pretty much all I remember is her laughing.  :O)
Stealthy, the mouse, was no where to be found.
I swear - totally justified reaction people!

-Gina  the Mouse Whisperer. :P

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Finding a Way to Love the Old Me

So we got a link to our wedding pictures just a few days ago.
Since my first glance I've had one thought rolling around in my brain.
I need to find a way to love myself no matter what I look like.
I think this is going to be one of those posts that I hate posting.
But it falls under the realm of transparency.
I also think it's a disservice to someone who is considering weight loss surgery to pretend that all problems are instantly solved.
If you have issues with food (and if you're morbidly obese you most likely do), then you will still have to work through those.

Having the surgery is a tool that will allow me to work through my issues while I lose the weight.
But if I don't work through the issues I am 100% sure I can and will gain weight back.

Now, with that being said, back to the topic at hand.

I do not like 90% of the pictures of myself at my own wedding.
I had a great photographer. He took great, fun pictures.
But I hate seeing how heavy I was even that recently. I had surgery in June of this year. I got married a little less than three months later on September 1st. By that time, I had already lost around 50-60 pounds.

When I look at my beautiful wedding all I see are the flaws in myself.
It's where my eyes and thoughts automatically go.
It really hit every bit of self image issues that I could imagine.

And it blind-sided me.

I felt beautiful on the day. But looking now it's a different view.

It hits the heart of something that I think I have largely ignored in my journey so far.

At any weight I need to see myself as the same me.
I didn't lose weight to look good. I lost weight, had the surgery to lose weight, because my health was going quickly down hill. I staged an intervention to save my life. It was drastic. But it was necessary.
I think that if I had not had the additional issues, I would most likely have stayed right where I was - hiding.

Who I am has not changed one single bit. I'm still me - a goofy, optimistic, sarcastic, funny and nerdy girl.
But new me struggles with hating old me (and sometimes even the new melting me) very, very much.
Somehow, with the rapid shrinking, I've developed a weird-er relationship with myself.

Tonight I'm acknowledging that. I'm pretty sure that is a good deal of the battle fought in itself. I've got to come to grips with who I've been and be "ok" with her. I've got to recognize and admire that person and find a way to make old me and new me friends.

Going forward I need to begin to see myself much less critically and with much more kindness. I'd never in a million years let someone talk to my friends the way I talk to myself!!!!

This post may make absolutely no sense to anyone but me. But it's my reality right now.
Who knows, it may be a part of your reality to. I think many of us are way more self critical than we ever admit.

Someday I'm going to be able to look back at all the "'me's" and not flinch.

Someday will be soon; because I'm not stopping until then!


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Time Change is Eating My Brain

Okay seriously, I hate spring forward and fall back.
I. Hate. Them.
I hate both of them.
Because they mess with my internal clock until it looks like this.
It takes me much longer to adjust than it should.
Take tonight.
It's 7:30 and I am wiped flat out.
I could just curl up here on the couch and sleep.
Course I would only sleep for about 2 hours and then be up for the next 24 but still.
I'm just tired.
I'm trying to work some more energy into my life.
I take all  the vitamins I'm supposed to. I am getting my daily protein intake.
I think I may be missing the generous boosting effect of the caffeine I used to enjoy.
Sometimes I miss it badly.
Also sweet tea... I miss sweet tea very badly.
I know I'm rambling but did I mention that I am tired?

Anyhoo. I honestly cannot think of a single interesting thing to report to you except to complain bitterly about the offset hour that is messing with me. :O)
I know I'm not alone in this.
Until tomorrow, when maybe I'll be awake and interesting again.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Secret to Contentment

I'm 36.
I think I may just be starting to figure some things out that have eluded me my entire lifetime.
It's actually a little scary to "say" that out loud because it feels like I'm inviting a testing.
It's not that I have this deal totally licked. I'm not an expert (just like I'm not an expert in waiting).
I was thinking about this tonight because I realize that I am finally starting to be content with my life.
Things are not perfect. Are they ever really?
Things are overall good but there are many, many things that I want/need to change.
There are a couple of huge things on my heart that I have zero actual control over.
If you know me at all, lack of control is usually my gateway to discontent!
Still, I am learning to be content.

The verses I keep going to in my head are in Philippians 4:11-13
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

The picture I posted at the beginning of this post is a significant moment for me spiritually. It was taken at a location that is also significant. Actually I need to write about that moment, place, and time. But this picture in time was at the ending of a really deep depression. I had been sinking for months and months before my sweet friend Angela cared enough to say  "if you ever need to talk, I'm here." God used those words and my Godly friend Angela to begin to bring me out.

This picture was taken in November of that year. At that moment I was the heaviest I had ever been. The depression was finally starting to lift. I was beginning to see light.

I asked my brother to drive me out to this lake (a place where a prayer, in faith, had been miraculously answered when I was 16). I needed to go back to a place where I had seen God move powerfully.
Thankfully, that day He chose to move powerfully again.
So thankful that my brother took the pictures that I have to mark that time.

Tonight I am sharing with you my reminder for myself. It really is a lesson for me, but I pray that it's for one of you too.

The secret to contentment does not lie with me. It's not my attitude really. It's my choice to trust that God's sovereign plan is always at work.

In plenty or abundance; in hunger or need that plan remains.
He is working.
Even when I think I am in control, I am not. There is great freedom in that realization.
There is a release in contentment.
There is a freedom.

It is glorious.

- Gina

Monday, November 05, 2012

Waiting - Again

I distinctly remember my sweet friend Becky counseling me during one of my "singleness stinks" pity parties. She told me that we are always waiting on something. When you move from one phase in life to another you just shift your "wait" to something different.
I remember thinking at that time "but if I just had a boyfriend...." I didn't really get it!
Becky was, as she is so often, dead-right.
Each phase in life sees us looking to a different phase.

I wrote about that in my journal the other night.
Waiting - Guess we're never really done with it.

Luckily the waiting game has occupied much of my devotional life over the last ten years or so.
I'd often laugh about it - like I was some kind of expert.
I'm SO not an expert.

I'm just a really, really impatient person who has learned some valuable lessons in her lifetime.
Since I needed a reminder tonight I thought I would share some of them condensed. I wrote a daily devotional for 7 years... so I have a few to chose from.  :O)

1 - 1 Samuel - Hannah faithfully waited on God. God answered.

I almost always think of Hannah when I think of waiting because of her faithfulness during some painful waiting times (1 Samuel 1:7-8, 10). Hannah waited on God for YEARS to see the fulfillment of God's promise to her.  She wept and prayed. God answered.

2 - Psalm 27:13-14 - You can trust Him
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD ; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

3 -Psalm 33:20-22- Hope is worth it.
Pray as you may, some things won't work out as you hoped. But hope anyways.

4 -Psalm 38:15 - Not waiting on God always ends badly

I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God.

More often than I'd like God's answer to my questioning has been wait. Everyone can think of a story in the bible where someone pushed ahead of God. None of them went well. Know that God hears you and always answers. It may not be what I want to hear, but it will be an answer.

5 -2 Peter 3:9 - God is not slow in keeping his promises.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

This is key for me to keep in mind when I am praying for something specifically. My timing and God's couldn't be any more different. I want it yesterday. Remember, while we look at where we are now, God is looking at everything at once. He isn't slow or withholding anything from us. He is working it all out.
Trust him. He's had more experience at this then we have. : )

Ok. I'm thouroughly convicted for the evening.
Night friends.

Waiting in hope,

Sunday, November 04, 2012

It's Just a Number, Until it isn't

So, up until this very moment I am 99% sure I have never, ever, ever mentioned an actual number on my scale.  (I could search my blog and verify this... but I'm not in the mood!) :O)
Tonight that is changing for a very cool reason.
I debated about sharing this milestone when it came up. Even my hubs has no idea to this moment what that # is... till now. :P
It's a huge victory for me to see this particular number on the scale, because the last time I saw it I was 18!
Golly... that's a while back.
I hate scales still - even when the number keeps slowly shrinking.
But I think it may help someone else on this journey. It may help someone who is trying to decide where they are on their journey. It may help someone who is considering weight loss surgery.
I want to be transparent.
As ugly as the scale is, it has no power to hurt me.
So here goes.
I started this journey at 285 pounds.
Today, for the first time in almost 20 years, I hit 199.
I'm 5'8. So my goal weight is 150-160 as set by my doctor. I'm over 2/3 of the way there.
And I am feeling so much closer to it tonight.
I don't know what it is about finally getting below 200 that was my big hurdle. But it definitely WAS my big hurdle.
86 pounds gone. Hopefully, gone to never be seen again.

Now if I can just send this horrid cold packing I'm sure I will be doing cartwheels again soon.  :O)

-Officially in ONEderland

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Who The Heck Am I?

I keep starting and stopping different topics here.
In fact, the title remains empty.
I have no idea where I am going with this yet.
But as I was sitting down to journal, I felt the need to blog.
So here I sit. Here on the couch I sit, with no ideas.

I think I'm in a bit of an identity crisis.
When you move from one phase of life into another I guess that is normal.
Me - I've had a whole lotta change in a short amount of time.
So I suppose that crisis is normal.
I've had two major identifiers for the last several years that are either starting to not apply or are just gone.

1 - The single girl
So I'm clearly not single anymore. But the other night, when the pastor was talking about married stuff, I caught myself in the single-girl mindset. I can't figure out a way to explain that mindset. But if you're single, and you have ever sat through a sermon about marriage, you "get" me. I've been married 2 months. But I was single for 36 years. So I guess I can cut myself some slack there. It was a startling "wake up" kinda deal for me to find my single girl brain still so engaged. Oh I wish I could come up with better words here. Any of my "single for a long time" newlyweds feeling me here? Maybe I'll process through it and come back to explain.

2 - The fat girl
Even after the drastic weight drop I am still chunky. That's changing. But it's still there. I'm not the clearly obese girl anymore and that's a mental transition. I can fit places now that I didn't before. I'm different but haven't made some of the critical thought adjustments that I need to yet. This mindset hits me in some strange places - recently at the grocery store and a restaurant.
I've been overweight since my teens. Honestly, the thought of my life without that identifier is something I cannot seem to completely grasp.
The weight I'm at now is a 16 year low - 16 YEARS.
I'm not only not sure how to make that adjustment, I'm not sure who I'll be in the coming months.
In my entire adult life I have never been a normal weight. I have always felt like the "big" girl.

Who do I become when that label no longer defines me to myself?


Monday, October 29, 2012

I Really Cannot See It

Well, now seems like as good a time as any to address something that keeps popping up.
The other day when I posted my progress pics I realized how much I had changed.

In that post I mentioned that I do not see it in the mirror. If you've ever had a weight problem or an eating disorder this will ring very true with you. However, if you have not really struggled in this area, it may not have made sense.

As of this day, when I look in the mirror I still see every single pound that I have lost as still there.
83 pounds are gone. But they still reflect back for me.
It can be so discouraging.

I grab new clothes when I hit the stores and I never, ever chose the right size.  They look too small.
I have no concept of the change that has taken place.

That is pretty typical.

Thank God for online support groups where people who have gone through this journey can help each other out. If it weren't for them, I would think I was seriously disturbed.

Objectively I know that I have changed. I really cannot see it though. My mind has not made that adjustment.

Some day I believe that it will.
Until then, I will look at the pictures taken along the way.

I thank God for Dr. Roller and his incredible team. I thank God for the changes taking place in my life.

Some day my head will catch up.

Until then, I will do the best I can to see myself as changed.

-Skinny Minny  :O)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Progress Pics - Almost 5 months

Well since I'm a bit stalled out right now weight loss wise at 83 pounds (which is totally normal at this point in the journey), I decided to check my measurements. Those are definitely still changing.
Today is the first time that I have really looked at the before and after pics.
Woot!  :O)
Even I can see the difference here. Though, to be honest, I do NOT see it in the mirror. That is a whole other post!

Anyhoo... here is my picture from the night before surgery - 6/11/12

Picture from last night 10/26/12

Sweet!  :O)


Friday, October 26, 2012

Sometimes, It Is What It Is

More often than I would like to remember, the phrase that has best fit this entire year of 2012 is "It is what it is."

I'm not fond of it now. Mostly because 2012 has been the year of "... what it is."

Here is what I have chosen to remember instead.  :O)

Maybe it is "what IT is." But there is more to it than that.

Every morning that you wake up is another gift of a day that you have.
Some of us woke up this morning (as we do many mornings) with a great deal of pain.
For many of us that pain stretches back as many days as we can remember and forward as far as we can see.
it IS what it IS.
Even the painful days are a gift. They are a gift that many people would love to have.

Life, no matter how complicated and often painful, is such a precious, precious gift.

Do not waste it wishing that it was something different.

Do what you can to change your circumstances. Pray fervently about the rest.

Then leave it in the only Person who truly knows how many more gifts of days you have.

Right now I'm listening to a song that has helped me to focus in on living and Who I am living each of my "gift" days to serve.
Just in case you haven't heard it... take a listen.  :O)

It is what it is.
He is what He is!
So get out there and live!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What Life Looks Like Now

I need to have more things to tell you if I'm going to keep this blog going.
I realize that.
So far, my life has not cooperated with that desire.
I won't do another random list.
I think I'll say this.
Before I had my really bad back days I had started to lose weight. The exercise that I had chosen were these DVDs called Body Gospel.
I am 99.9% sure that I saw them on an infomercial late one night. Those things suck me in way too often. It's probably a really good thing that we don't even have local channels now.  :O)

The last few weeks I have started to slowly move around more but haven't ventured into anything too heavy.

Now I'm starting these DVDs. They actually seem to be a pretty good workout.  I can tell you that right afterwards I was super sweaty and now I'm super sore.
Those are usually good indicators. 

It's a good step up from just walking around and they are pretty uplifting.

I have pretty much the entire Richard Simmons library... a fact that my sweet husband is (I think) pretty embarrassed by.  :O)
Hey - I love me some Richard Simmons "Sweating to the Oldies." The first time I ever lost 50 pounds I did it with Sweating to the Oldies 2!  So there.

I actually met him in person once in Fayetteville in the lobby of a hotel - totally random.  He was so sweet to me and very encouraging.

So there was something to write about.  Woo! 

Hope you are all having a great week.
Thank the Lord tomorrow is Friday and I get to spend the weekend with my love.

Good times!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Random - A List Brought to You by the Letter "R"

So I can't think of anything profound or even all that interesting to write about tonight.
I have thoughts just nothing earth shattering.  :O)

So here are some of those thoughts in no particular order.

1 - Skinny Jeans are my current pet peeve. I believe they are a pox on humanity. No one needs to see that. Even really skinny people look ridiculous in skinny jeans. Put them back on the rack. Just walk away.

2 - Somehow I am both overqualified and under-qualified for most things I have applied for lately. I have a master's degree for goodness sake. Ugh... Praying that the economy will see some sharp up-turning sooner rather than later.

3 - It is 11:26 pm and I will have to stay up another hour to take my iron pill so it can be separated from my other vitamins. It's a hassle but I want to make sure it's not wasted.

4 - Today consisted of me being seriously cranky due to being up till 4 am last night. My body hates me and hates sleep evidently.

5 - I don't think there actually is a 5 but I can't have a list that isn't in multiples of 5. I'm weird like that.

Night Peeps

Monday, October 22, 2012

Farewell my Friend, Food, You Were a Bad Pal

My Mom asked me a question today that I have actually spent a lot of time thinking about lately.
How have I been dealing emotionally since the surgery?
I'm a big-time emotional eater. I have been since I was a wee lass.
Like everyone with an eating disorder, (Hi, my name is Gina and I'm a binge eater), food was a constant companion.
It was a false friend. But I didn't know it until it was way too late.

So what does a binge eater who has spend 20 something years eating their feelings do when food can't be their crutch?

She deals.
But she also grieves.

The grieving is a weird part of this journey that no one really explained to me.
I know that things have to change. Ok, they don't have to change.
In a few months I can go right back to some of the worst habits that got me to the morbidly obese category on the BMI scale.

But for me to live the life I want, things need to change.

So I have grieved.

I have moments of sadness when I go to get food and chose the salad over the cheeseburger and fries.
I can still remember the binge high vividly. Thankfully I can also remember the inevitable sickness.

But I still grieve.

My friend food is gone. Yes he was not a good friend. Frankly he was the worst friend ever. But he and I had some good times together.

So I grieve. 
I really wish I could find a better term for it. In so many ways though it feels like a death. I guess it is the death of the old me and how life was for me then.

I will still eat. One must eat to survive.
But food can never take that place in my life again.
Celebration, sadness, victory, defeat, life and death must be dealt with sans the emotional dulling my old friend provided. 

Some day I know that will not make me sad even for a moment. But "some day" isn't here yet.

4 months. 83 pounds. A lifetime of new lessons ahead.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Life - You Should Live It

I need to get over here to the blog more often.
It's not necessarily that I have all these important things to tell the 7 of you who read this blog... actually I think it may be 10 of you now.
But I digress.  :O)
So much of what I put here is for me.
I journal as well but somehow that is different.
There is something about having these words in cyber-land, along with some comments occasionally, that is important to me.
It gives me something to quickly go back to.
So, I'm trying to be more regular and disciplined about posting.
I've said that before so we shall see!

On to something else now.
This has been one of the most exciting years of my life.
It's been all about drastic changes, steps of faith, and life altering moments.
In between those, were about 1000 smaller things every, single day.
You know what never changes? Each of those smaller moments were just as important as the drastic and life-altering ones when all is said and done.
The little moments led up to or built up to the bigger ones.
Life is as much in the minutia as it is in the fanfare.

My "take-away" lesson from that:

Be faithful in the small moments. Be brave and wily. Don't be afraid to take the road that looks a little dicey and scary. (I totally mean that metaphorically. Don't go driving down some nutty "deliverance" road and blame me for it.)  :O)

Be IN every single moment.

It's your life.
Do. Not. Miss. It.

-Living This Moment to the Full - Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Change - Bring It!

I've already started to pray about my word for 2013. 2012 was healing. I should have known I'd need to get broken a bit more to get fully fixed.  :O) 
So far, so good.

Anyways... that's just an FYI for my fellow "One Word" people.

I've been thinking a lot lately about change - that was 2011's word FYI. That is what made me think of my word for this year in the first place.
Lot's of people are terrified by it. I've got to admit that it scares me a bit.
If I am being totally honest though I get a charge from it too.
I love stepping out into the unknown and watching what God is going to do there.
I think that goes back to the journey that God has had me on for years and years.

When you focus so much on God in the "waiting" times, you tend to jump on change like a hamster on a wheel.

Right now my prayer list includes prayers for drastic changes needed in several lives. They are changes that people are begging God for - healing, babies, jobs and much more.

Me - I'm in for some major change. I've been unable to work since January.
Now - cleared to work - I'm ready to hit it up.

But guess what change is not so easy to find right now?

That's right - JOB!

I told Al tonight that I know God has the right place for me.
I just have zero clue as to where that could be.

Change - I'm all about it.
Bring it.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Four Months - The Incredible Shrinking Woman

One of my sweet friends pointed out something the other day that I really appreciated.
She mentioned on my facebook wall that she knew this weight loss hadn't happened exactly the way I would have chosen.
It's something I've thought about a lot.
I've lost a little over 80 pounds now - that's like a 7th grader.
I'm now officially at a number that I never remember seeing on the scale. I actually think it is the weight I was when I moved away to college. But that was around the time I stopped weighing regularly so I'm not sure.
So very not my point. :O)
In 4 months I have changed insanely in many ways.
I'm off all medication except pain (back) and vitamins.
I've dropped 6 sizes at least.
I've changed the way I eat.
But so much of the struggle still exists with how I think.

I am well aware that many people who have gone through WLS gain weight back. Many of them re-start the habits that had gotten them to where they were previously. It is possible to eat way more than you should. It happens often.

4 months out I can tell you that scares me.
Because the surgery doesn't change your head. It only changes your body.
Yes, part of my rapid gain from the last two years came with the pain I was experiencing.
But before that happened I was at least 50 pounds overweight and had been for quite a while.
That did not happen rapidly. It crept up gradually by the choices that I made.
I won't get into the "how and why" of this because frankly - that's my issue.
As honest as I always hope to be in life, I am also always going to be protective of some areas because they just aren't public stuff!  :O)  Some things are just private.


If I had my choice (as my friend Kim mentioned) I'd have loved to take a bit of the slow road down. I would have chosen to try to work through my food issues while working through my other issues.
But that wasn't going to happen for me.
I had been there and done that and things were getting steadily and progressively worse.

At 35 I was on high blood pressure medicine, had sleep apnea, getting ready to start cholesterol medication, and was slowly destroying several discs in my spine.

I was a mess. I was in pain every second of every day.
I was miserable.

I do not want to head back that way.

So at just past my 4 month mark I wanted to get some things down "for the record."
I think this is probably mostly for me. If I ever think that the fight against "old me" isn't worth it, these words are here to remind me.
"Old me" spent a lot of time miserable and in pain.
"New me" is starting to remember what moments without pain can be like... and more will come.


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Love - It's Not for the Faint of Heart

I've been re-reading some of my old journal entries over the last few days.
I am so very thankful that I have been at least semi-faithful to journaling since 1994. I always wish I had done a better job. Thankfully I have many, many things written down.
For some reason I was struck tonight by the realization that over the years loving people has just not been a fun deal sometimes.
Ok so I know that it reads a bit weird.
"But we're supposed to love people Gina!" "God commands it."
Certainly He does. We love naturally most of the time because people love us back. God loved us first, so we love Him.
A few years back I wrote in my journal something that was a revelation to me at the time.
Many times for us to really love - we must chose to love.
We must chose to love people because sometimes, ok a lot of the time, we human-type people are just flat out unlovable.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I know me pretty well.
Grouchy Gina
Un-happy Gina
Tired Gina
Not getting her way Gina.
All of those are pieces of me that can be pretty dang un-lovable.
Love is a choice at some of the most critical junctures of our lives.
We chose to love when we look past the sarcastic answer and don't fight back in kind.
We chose to love when the person we love hurts us.
We chose to love when we look to the person behind the obvious hurt or the not so obvious hurt that they carry.
We chose to love when we reach out to the person that makes our stomach curl by their appearance or attitude.
We chose to love in a hundred different ways.
We chose not to love.

No matter the season or reason for it, our love comes down to a choice.
   And even though right now it may seem like an easy choice.
        It will not always be that easy.
So determine in your heart and mind at this moment.
    That when the moment comes
        You will make the choice to love.
No. Matter. What.

Love on

Friday, September 21, 2012

Marriage and Other Fun Things

I promise you that I will come back here soon and post some info about the wedding and life since.
As can be expected, the weeks leading up to the wedding were hectic health and other wise.
So I'm a wee bit behind.
I'll post one of my favorite wedding shots and call this puppy "updated" for a day or so.  :O)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

You've Been Through a Lot

So I just passed the 2 month date on my surgery.
But the first surgery has almost been overshadowed at this point.
Who am I kidding? It's absolutely been overshadowed.
I went to see Dr. Roller today for a checkup from my gall bladder removal.
When his nurse was checking me in she kept commenting on the week that I was in the hospital and the two ER trips. She said she just kept getting fax after fax and could not believe it.
For those keeping score - Gall Bladder removed. Kidney Stent placed. DVT in arm within 5 days.
It's a lot.
And in case I am tempted to try and forget that - every. single. doctor reminds me!
Tomorrow it looks like I will be calling my kidney doc again because of an ongoing issue that shall not be named.
In the mean time, I await a referral to a hematologist. We're hoping to get an "all clear" to get me off of the blood thinners... which may help the "issue that shall not be named" as well. :O)

So - for those following along at home still. I have lost almost 60 pounds. It actually might be a little quicker but my current issue (thanks to the gall bladder removal in great part) is an almost complete aversion to just about every food imaginable.

I thank God for the original surgery. Without it the week long hospital visit and the aftermath would have been worse.
The gall bladder (which wasn't the worst the doctor had seen, but was pretty ugly) and kidney stone episode would have happened. But I would have been a brand new patient for all the surgeon's involved.
Instead of that, I had a top notch surgeon ready to go and familiar with me.

So many things to be thankful for! 

Wedding is in barely over two weeks. This past 9 months of engagement has been nothing like I had planned. But on 9/1 I get to become Mrs. Davis. So all-in-all things are just grand.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

It's Been a Long, Hard, Weird Road

Yikes people.
My life since the last time I blogged has been a roller coaster both physically and emotionally.
I can't sugar coat it. It's kinda sucked. :O)

Sunday July 22nd went to the ER in the afternoon (about 5 pm) thinking I had a kidney stone lodged somewhere.
I had already been through several days of not being able to keep anything - food or liquid or meds - down so I was pretty sure that I was also severely dehydrated.
Multiple tests, pokes, prods and vomiting hours later they finally settled on a kidney stone and multiple gall stones.
My weight loss surgeon (WLS) does gall bladders too so he asked for me to be admitted.
I didn't leave the hospital until Thursday afternoon.
The gall bladder was removed on Tuesday.
I was still in a lot of pain (and not able to keep anything on my stomach). They were pushing fluids in me which is a part of the reason why I stayed in the hospital for this whole time. The problem was that my veins were shot and kept blowing and such (whatever that means).
They wanted to put me into surgery again and help my kidneys... but I thought they were getting better (and all tests seemed to point that way too) so I said no let's do medicine and see if we can avoid that...
I was out of the hospital on Thursday night.

I ended up back in the ER on Friday morning - different ER on the advice of my WLS.
Dehydrated again.
Multiple sticks and prods to try and get IV's in.
Call to kidney doc - surgery to put in stint.
Surprisingly they let me go home.
On the way home, my arm felt weird and was a bit swollen but I was so happy to go home I barely noted it.
About 4 am I awake to find my hand and much of my left arm swollen badly.

6 am - back to the ER where the doctor sounds the alarm bell quickly. But I still didn't know why!

Diagnoses - left arm has blood clots. One is on the surface. One is deeply embedded in my upper arm (DVT).
I'm actually thankful that, at the time, I didn't know how dangerous that was. Everyone was freaked out. I was (in the words of the ER doc) "oddly calm."
I think that was God's protection on me honestly.

So the last few days have been a blur of pain meds, self-administered blood thinning shots, and pills.

Every day gets a little better.
I am thankful for much.

Wedding in less than a month now - YIPES.
Pray with us that what needs to get done, get's done. And that my stress level stays nice and low. :O)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Things Normal People Wouldn't Tell You - The Sausage Ball Incident

So in my quest for protein I came up with the thought of trying sausage balls. Sausage, Cheese, Cream Cheese. Bisquick not the best.
But a girl's gotta do something.
So I get a recipe that my friend Melissa was kind enough to e-mail me. She is always posting something insanely good it seems like. These guys were no different.

Anyhoo.. the recipe was super but is besides the point of the story.
Let me start off by explaining some things.
I cook. But I tend to cook the same things over and over again. Right now, I can only eat about 1/2 cup of food at a time. So whatever I cook it either needs to work for me or be something that I can can give away.

You should also know that I've just recently discovered the wonders of cooking things on parchment paper. If you are cooking bread-less things it helps stuff not stick.

Now on to the sausage balls. Since I'm all in love with the parchment paper I decided to cook them on a cookie sheet covered with it.

An important thing to note is that parchment paper begins to get all crispy and burned at certain temperatures... one of which I found last night.

About 5 minutes into cooking the sausage balls I began to smell the paper burning.
No problem at all really. I'll just pop that out and take the parchment paper out.

The real moment of truth in most of my stories is the moment where my sense of humor and ingenuity meet. Such is the case with this story.

I decide that it would be easier/quicker/more fun to just yank the parchment paper out from underneath those cute little culinary delights. Certainly they will end up neatly on the cookie sheet.
Not so much

We could also call this the story of the flying sausage balls. Cause baby... that's what happened next.  :O)
Several of them ended up in salvageable places.
At least two of them ended up underneath the dishwasher. ewwwww.

Lesson learned and I now pass it onto you.
Never yank parchment paper off of a cookie sheet with  food on it.
Just. Don't.  :O)

Here ends the lesson.
-Gina the non-chef.

Oh - and for those of you who will most likely be asked to consume these guys. NONE of the next batches ended up on the floor.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

One Month - Surgerversery. :O)

Well we made it to the 1 month mark. It's been one month since my surgery.
We've had some interesting ups and downs.
I know some people will find these posts because they are considering having a weight loss surgery.
That's what I did. I scoured the web for people's stories.
So in all fairness I have to say a few things.
It's been a tough month.

Just days after I began eating actual food (about 2 weeks ago) I ended up in the emergency room.
When several things in your abdomen have been messed with, you decide pain of any kind is worrisome.
So extreme pain is not a good sign. After hours of intensifying pain I gave up and went to the ER.
Verdict - Kidney stone.
Oh. My. Goodness. Please merciful Lord let me never do that again.
I've lived with some pretty extreme pain over the last two years with all the back issues.
This little stone put those in their place.
What it also did was skew my eating experience.
Nausea is a side effect. So I soon discovered that a big part of those first few days of problem eating (and subsequent hurling) was coming from the stone and not the surgery.

I reminded myself tonight that today marks two weeks of solid foods.
I'd be lying if I said it hadn't been a challenge.
My body has changed. My stomach has definitely changed.
My tastes have changed.
I'm having to relearn some very basic things.

I think my biggest lesson was to slow down.
Now that I'm a ways into this deal I know to take a small bite - chew it for a minute. Then wait another whole minute before another bite. It seems extreme. But it is the only way to really pay attention to how much is going in.
My total volume at each meal is 1/2 cup. It doesn't sound like much to you but it's an overwhelming amount most times.

I'm sitting at around 31 pounds total loss still. While the scale has not moved much in 2 weeks my body has. I knew there would have to be some catching up.

I'm guessing I'll start losing again in the next week or so.

Meanwhile - I have a wedding dress to try and buy.
I have to find a new place for future hubs and I to live come 9/1.
I have a ton of things to get rid of to make way for my new life.
I have almost a wedding shower a weekend.

Summary - I have a LOT to do.

If I had it to do over again, I think I might have tried to space out the whole marriage and drastic surgery just a tad.  :O)

Live and learn people.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Two Weeks

Well it's been an adventure for sure.
There are lots of things that people can tell you to prepare for after a surgery like this.
Then there is the reality of what actually happens. That's going to be different for every person.
As for me, it's been rocky, but not too rocky.
I've had ups and downs. I've had mental breakdowns. I've wanted to hide underneath something and just sleep the days away several times.
Overall the best thing I can say is "I'm making it."
I saw my primary care doctor this morning to check my blood pressure out. At the beginning of the weekend (Friday) I realized that my bp was dipping pretty low and making me sick.  I couldn't stand long enough to even do something simple - like take a shower - without passing out.
Ugh - miserable feeling that. I do not recommend it.
By the time I saw my pcd my bp was back to a normal level. So that's the end of blood pressure medicine for me - woo.

As of this morning I've lost just shy of 30 pounds. The doctor kept saying things like "that's two weeks" "wow" over and over again. He was super pleased with my progress so far. Oh and he called me the incredible shrinking woman. :O)
I have to say I'm pretty pleased as well.
My body is definitely have issues adjusting to so much change so fast. That also helps account for the whoozy feelings. Also I have weird food cravings that smack me out of nowhere.

The changes are radical and hard to describe.
I'm trying to catch my equillibrium.
Mostly I'm looking forward to Thursday. That'll be my follow up appointment and the end of the "liquidpalooza" that my body has been enduring since 6/10.
Oh solid foods.... how I have missed you!  :O)

Well that's it from here.
I still need your prayers as I recover. There is still a long road ahead.
Plus - did I mention I'm getting married in like 60 days? What????



Monday, June 18, 2012

Surgery - Weight Loss Journey

I've always tried to be open in my life. There are some things that are clearly private. There are also some things in life that need to be shared for our own good.
This post is about one of those things!
I've been pretty open on this blog in the past about my struggles with weight.
My struggles started in puberty and just compounded themselves year after year.
I would lose weight and gain it over and over again.
I have done just about every weight loss fad, program and diet that you can imagine.
I've been very successful a few times.
About two years ago I started to have major issues with  my back.
Walking, sitting, and standing for any length of time became a struggle.
Gradually I put on weight... then more weight.
At the end, I was the heaviest I have ever been.
Those of you who lived through the last few years are aware I tried everything doctors recommended to get some weight off and take the pressure off of my spine.
I went to neurosurgeons, spinal specialists, chiropractors, and pain management doctors.
I managed some relief but there were no long term solutions.
I prayed and prayed for some kind of breakthrough that would end the pain that seemed to stretch out for years ahead of me.

In the process of all of this, one of the neurosurgeons suggested something that I never wanted. It is in fact on of the things I swore I would never do. It seemed so drastic. It was so permanent. It was so scary.

I told myself if one person, other than this doctor, suggested it again I would at least investigate it.
So when my specialist followed the same logic, I began to investigate.
About seven months ago I began this new journey towards Weight Loss Surgery.

I am very blessed to have in Northwest Arkansas one of the top surgeons in the country - Dr. Roller.
After a lot of prayer and questions, I began the process towards a Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass.

On June 12 I finally had my surgery. Many of you knew about the surgery but most of you had no idea what I was actually undertaking.

As of tomorrow I am at 1 week post-op.
The last week has been tough. I don't want to sugar coat this journey for anyone because this kind of thing is no 'quick-fix' solution.
It's a complete life change.

I think I've written enough tonight. After my first month I am going to start posting pictures and such so y'all can keep tabs.
As for now, I need some sleep.
Thanks for reading, caring and praying!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

When the "Not" Is Likely

Without going to far into my situation... let's just say that things still have not worked out as I expected.
Going back to my last post - We seem to be in the fire without the deliverance... YET.
It's easy to say that God is in control when things are going as you planned and wanted.
It's not so easy to claim that reminder when things are not.
And if I hadn't said it yet - I'm living in the "Not."
Things have not gone as I hoped.
They may still work out as originally expected, but that looks less and less likely.

Do I still believe that God is in control?
Without question - Yes.
Do I have a clue what is going to happen?
So what happens now?
What happens when the uncertainty continues?
What happens when the 'certain yes' starts to be a no?

Life. Goes. On.

I'm not into backup plans.
I am into God's plan.
So I will wait.
I will pray.
I will see God's provision in His timing.

Psalm 27:13
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

But If Not and Pray for Your Pastors!

I used to write a daily devotional. I have hundreds of devotionals that I have written on different passages in the Bible.
Over my adult life, one theme has been constant in my spiritual walk - waiting.
Much has been said on it in the Bible... so clearly I'm not alone.
In talking with a friend the other day I made a statement that isn't new to me but is hitting me fresh these days.
We live in a fallen and broken world.
There are many good things. There is a lot of joy to be had.
But there is also a lot of pain.
There is a lot of loneliness.
There are a lot of people devastated in ways that are unfathomable.
Tonight one of my old devotionals is on my mind.

It's the story of Daniel and a couple of guys you might have heard about facing certain death.
BTW - Daniel - Lions? Fire? Guy had some troubles huh?

Daniel 3:17-18
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

These three young men were getting sentenced to death for following God instead of men. They didn't know whether God would save them or not... but they knew that He was able. They knew that no matter what they were going to obey God. It's a powerful story. Tonight there is much on my heart. Personally I have a situation where God has to come through. What I've learned: God may act exactly as I hope in this situation... but if not... I know He has something better ahead.

These three guys in the furnace trusted God, literally, with the end of their lives. They really believed that God could rescue them from the furnace. BUT they knew enough about God to know that what we think is best for us (including life itself) is not always God's best for us. So what did these three guys say as they faced death? "But IF not..." God I still trust you even if this doesn't go my way. I still trust you if the person I love the most in this world is taken away from me. I know that you can bring about miracles and you can take death itself away. I believe you can do all of this . . . but if not . . . I trust You even still.

The important thing is to not turn away from God when He doesn't follow your calendar and plan. It is my challenge for all of you whose answer is just days away... but it is not the answer you were looking to see. It is also my challenge for those of you whose answer is many waiting days away.

 - Gina

PS - pray for my brother Jeff and other ministers who deal with heartbreaking situations so often. On my heart tonight because of something specific... but needed every hour of every day for our ministers.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Year That Flew

So once again I've got a little chunk of silence here in blog land.
I hereby apologize to my 3 readers.  :O)
2012 was dubbed the year of healing.

All along I've had an idea that this year was going to be full of surprises.
Marriage - Check - September 1st - hoping all my people can be there.
Major, Life-changing surgery - Check - June 12th
Did I mention living with a Man? - Welcome September 1st... you cannot get here soon enough. :P
Re-arranging and re-thinking how everything is done - Inevitable.

Today is May 25th, barely - 12:09 am.
Somehow this year has been the slowest and the fastest that I have ever experienced.
Since the middle of January I have been off work. Read that as zero incoming money since January 15th or so.
It's been a fight with our disability insurance as various people have drug feet and paperwork out.
It's been an incredible miracle to watch God stretch the savings that I had at the beginning of the year.
Praying that the stretch continues... but also that some money begins to draw back in!

The next few months will be a blur of pain, healing, wedding showers, moving, and wedding.

I cannot promise that I will write a word.
But I can promise that I will try!

In the mean time just know that life is moving. And if you're here close... come visit. Seriously  :O)