Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Not my plans for the weekend!

I don't know how many of you know me from Facebook, but I've noticed that I've gotten a few more followers and sorry to say, I don't recognize all the names.  I feel so blessed that you have chosen to read my blog for whatever reason.  I do this both so that I can have an outlet and I pray that I can be an inspiration to those who read it.  I've said from the beginning, if I can do it, anyone can.  I'm just an ordinary woman trying to live a life in God's grace.

This past weekend was an absolutely beautiful weekend in Southeastern Minnesota.  Highs in the low 70's, clear blue skies.  One of those weekends where you just want to squeeze every ounce out.  Once of those weekends where you want to stay out as long as you can because you can smell Fall on the horizon and know that there are not going to be too many of these types of weekends left before snow starts to fly.  We had plans.  I had a meeting in Albert Lea that was supposed to be all day on Saturday and Mike was going to take Nate and Rachael with a friend back to New Ulm to bring a U-Haul truck back with the rest of the furniture from his dad's house so that we can be ready to close at the end of the month.  Sunday we were hoping to go on a long bike ride and enjoy the day before school started for Rachael on Monday.  Good plans right?  Not His plans!

Friday morning I went about the morning.  Worked on budget stuff (which I hate, HATE doing, but it needs to be done, right?) and about 12:30 went to make some lunch for Rachael and I.  As I was standing at the counter I felt a sharp, twingy pain shoot through the right side of my lower back.  I remember thinking it was strange and tried to stretch it out a bit.  Wondered what I had done to pull a muscle.  Finished making lunch and sat down to eat and got one bite and the sharp twinge turned into a shooting stab that took my breath away.  It hurt to sit, it hurt to stand, it hurt to pace.  I went and laid on my tummy on the couch hoping it would go away.  Laid there for about 30 minutes and it faded a bit.  Sat down at the table again and finished my lunch and it hit me again.  I went to the bathroom and lost my lunch and grabbed the heating pad.  Back to the couch I went again and texted my husband to tell him I wasn't going to be able to get to the store like I had planned.

This time, it didn't get better.  I was moaning and crying. I just couldn't help myself.  The dog was freaking out, my 5-year-old was kicking into "mommy"-mode and as much as I hate to admit it... I wasn't being patient and I wasn't being helpful.  I'm sure she was scared because I knew I was.  It kept getting worse and I finally went to the computer and texted my husband because he wasn't answering his phone.  He's been incredibly busy and this doesn't surprise me.  Being that he works on a computer all day, I knew he'd get the message.  I simply wrote, "I need you to come home and take me to the hospital."  He was home within 1/2 hour. 

In the ER, it was taking everything I had to hold myself together and not make a lot of noise.  Mike was trying to distract Rachael as I sat on the edge of my chair rocking and quietly moaning.  It was a busy afternoon at the Olmsted Hospital Emergency Room, but they got me back within 1/2 hour and hooked up to an IV with pain meds shortly after that.  Went back for a CT scan and suspicions were confirmed. I had a kidney stone. I got back to my area in the ER and the doctor came in to talk to me.  He said that he could send me home to manage the pain there (it wasn't being managed at this point) or they could admit me.  I told him he was the doctor, what would he suggest.  He suggested staying overnight until pain control could be established.  So Friday night, I was admitted to the hospital.

Now, it's interesting.  I have heard that kidney stones are one of the most painful things that a person can have happen.   I certainly know that they are the most painful thing I have had happen to me.  The pain never did become completely manageable.  I was on high doses of Fentanyl hourly.  100 mcg/shot and that only dulled the pain to a 3-4.  All night Friday, they were giving me shots in the IV hourly.  I didn't sleep, I'm sure those in the rooms around me didn't sleep.  I felt like a wimp.  I felt defeated.  Saturday morning, they gave me a pump so that I could self-administer the Fentanyl.  This helped!  10 mcg every 5 minutes as needed between oral doses of oxycodone seemed to be making it manageable.  Unfortunately, they can't send you home with a PCA pump so another night at the hospital it was.

My biggest fear was going to sleep and to wake up in agony because you can't push the pump when you're sleeping.  I was assured it would be ok and finally drifted off to sleep at about 8:30.  Around 10 p.m. I woke up.  It's funny when you wake up in that kind of situation because your brain immediately does an assessment.  "Ok.  In the hospital.  How am I feeling.... Oh yeah, there's' pain.  How bad is it?  Oh.. not good!" I started pounding on my pump and hitting the nurse call button for help.  Unfortunately, 10 mcg every 5 minutes doesn't put a dent in the pain and was not due for my oxycodone for another 45 minutes.  I was told until they could get a hold of the doctor on call, there is nothing that could be done.

So what do I do?  I'm curled up in the fetal position crying and moaning and I hear a small, quiet voice in my head.... "Call on me.  I am strong enough.  I can handle this.  Give it to me."

So that is what I did.  "Jesus help me.  God take this from me.  Help me through this.  Give me strength.  I give this to you. You are strong enough. I can't do this without you." became my mantra.  Over and over again.  Maybe not those exact words, but pretty close.  While He didn't take my pain from me, somehow, time seemed to go faster and it did get more bearable.  I wish I could say it was the only time it happened, but it wasn't.  I was in the hospital until Monday morning when I finally passed that little devil of a stone and the pain was never completely under control.  I think this happened at least three more times, maybe four, but I found that when I called on Jesus, the time went faster and it was easier to handle the pain.

Jesus was my Rock.  I could feel His arms around me as I sat and moaned and rocked back and forth.  He was my Comforter.  The funny thing is, is that He wants to be all these things when times are good, too!  He wants to rejoice with us as well as cry with us.  He wants dance with us as well as lay down with us.  He wants to be our confidante.  He wants to be our Friend.  How easy it is to call upon us when things aren't going so well, but then to turn around and forget when things are going our way.

Take a moment.  Take a moment and thank Him for all that you have.  Thank Him for the little things.  The things you take for granted.  Thank you for the things that trouble you.  Thank Him for everything because without Him, we would have nothing.

So as strange as it might sound, I thank him for the pain I had over the weekend as well as the soreness and tenderness that I have as I recover because it reminds me that I have life!  It reminds me that I do have so many things to be thankful for.  Thank you, Jesus, for it all.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Peace or band-aids?

Sometimes a Bible verse touches you in ways you don't expect.  This morning, Mike and I were doing our devotion and the verse was "They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. “Peace, peace,” they say, when there is no peace." (Jeremiah 8:11) and tears started welling in my eyes, because I understand.  This has happened to me and, unfortunately, I have done it to others.

People who are hurting deeply know when they're being placated.  Patting someone on the back with a, "There, there, it's going to be alright." because it makes you feel better isn't helping that person experiencing pain.  Yes, it is going to be alright.  With God's help, everything will be alright, but that pain, that hurt, and eventually, that scar are all real and they ache.  

I remember back when we were hurting so badly because it felt as though we'd been tossed out by our ear by the church we so loved we got lots of cards and a few flowers.  Because it was so sudden and quietly done, people didn't know what to do.  While we appreciated the sentiments, what meant the most was the few people that walked alongside us.  Those that lifted us up and let us lean on them for support. Those that lifted us up in prayer and prayed with us.  We were broken, shattered and limping.  We are still healing and sometimes, when it feels as though it's all better, a little reminder comes along to remind you of the scar that remains. 

Some wounds are serious.  Some wounds require more then a band-aid and pat on the back.  Some wounds have cut so deep that it takes a Healer to mend them.  They take time and they take love and they take forgiveness.  They take Jesus.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says it well, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths."  

Some versions say, "he will make your paths straight." but I tend to like the "direct your paths." because the path is not always straight.  It's not always even.  There is going to be stumbling blocks and side tracks, but He will direct it.  God will show you the path, He will put people in your path that will help you on your journey, but you need to trust Him instead of yourself.  I know the times that I've tried to rely on myself are the times I've been led down the wrong path. You have to have trust in the Lord.  Do you trust Him?  Are you willing to let Him direct your path?  Are you willing to let Him heal your heart?  It's not an easy choice.  It's not a choice that normally goes along with societal norms, but it us one that has great satisfaction.  When I have trusted God, I have known rest and peace.  It's a path that leads to restoration instead of band-aids.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

I want to ride my bicycle...

Like most people, I've grown up knowing how to ride a bicycle.  I don't even remember when I learned, that memory is gone, but, as a child, one of my best memories is going on bike rides after dinner with my dad.  We would bike all over.  Through the neighborhood, around the lakes, everywhere.  In the summer, it would be multiple times a week that we would go on a bike ride.  As I got older, my bike was my main form of transportation for 3 seasons out of the year.  It was nothing for me to get on my bike and go across town to visit a friend or to pack a lunch and take off for the day to wherever my bicycle would take me.  I had baskets over my rear wheels and a little dog who used to love to go on bike rides with me.  I'd line the basket with a towel or blanket and Sassy would go for a ride.  The looks we would get cruising around town!  Of course, this was the same dog that used to love to go to the park and go down slides!  She was an awesome dog!

So I digress.  After I went to college and got married, my bike got dusty.  My family grew and my bike sat neglected.  When we bought our first house, I got a new bike with the best intentions to start riding again.  I even got one of those little trailers for Nathan, but I don't think we made it further then around our little neighborhood.  The bike sat in the rafters for years and years until this past summer. 

In the past month, I decided I wanted to start riding again.  Mike had started riding his bike again, we had just bought Nate a new bike (he had outgrown his) and Rachael was learning how to ride hers.  It was time.  Down came the bike and we looked it over.  After hanging in the rafters for more years than I care to remember, we realized that it needed some TLC and off it went to Erik's Bike Shop.  It cost nearly as much as the bicycle to get it ready to ride, but it was ready.  Then, I realized I needed a helmet.  I suppose if we require our children to wear a helmet, I needed one too, right?  Bought a stylin' helmet, got a rack for the vehicles, and got the old hitches (that were rusted in!) out of the receivers. (Ask Nate about his THOR hammer!)  Nathan, the great big brother that he is, took it upon himself to get his sister riding without her training wheels and did a fantastic job.  We didn't realize how good she was until we went for our first ride together.

This past Wednesday was the day.  Nate didn't go, but we packed up Rachael's bike into the back (it's too small for the rack) and off we went.  Not knowing how well she was able to ride her bike, we decided we had better go on a path that was less traveled and wouldn't result in her careening into a body of water.  Mike decided that Mayowood was the bike path we were going to try first and off we went.  Rachael did fantastic.  She was able to keep up, she had great path etiquette, and was enthusiastic.  Her big fear had been going up hills, but she got past it and was having a grand time. 

Until.... until... well, there was a bridge involved and we all know how bridges go up and come down.  She ended up having to walk her bike to the crest of the bridge and as we were coming back down things were speeding up and all of a sudden I hear her start squealing.  Not a happy squeal, but an, "Oh no!" panicked sort of squeal.  Down the hill and around the corner I see that the trail is about to branch off and I holler to Mike to watch out (he's hearing her squeal too!) and poor Rachael, can't think fast enough continues to go straight squealing all the way.  I can't help it, I realize she's not going to get hurt (it's tall grass) and start giggling.  It was pretty funny!  She in the grass and topples to the side in the tall grass.  I have pictures, not of the actual careening into the grass, but the aftermath:

 But my little trooper got up and started going again.  She wasn't going to let some tall grass get in her way!  BTW, that unicorn helmet?  Her pride and joy!  It cracks me up every time I see it because it's so goofy looking.  She loves it, though, and her 5-year-old friends are all just a wee bit jealous of it!  Gotta love 5-year-olds!

The next day my legs hurt so bad!  I had muscles aching that I didn't realize were there!  Did I let that stop me?  Nope!  Mike and I went on a date last night.  Nathan encouraged it.  I guess I was a little crabby yesterday.  Oops!  We went out for dinner and went on a bike ride.  We were able to go quite a bit faster and further without Little Miss along and it was a blast.  We rode almost 6 miles and I'm realizing that I've missed this!  I've missed getting on my bike and feeling the wind on my face.  We're planning on going to Winona tomorrow after church to take Ty a few things he needs and we're taking the bikes along.  It's going to be fun to discover all the paths around SE Minnesota! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What have I gotten myself into???

I meant to write about this earlier, but it's been a busy week and I just haven't gotten around to it.  Finally have a few minutes today.  Well, I should be downstairs folding laundry or sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor or... well, you catch my drift!

So, before I wondered off on that little sidetrack, what I was going to write about!  Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook or actually know me in person, probably already know this, but I'm going to retell the story anyway.  You know, the whole "my blog, my rules" thing!

Sheesh.. back on track.  Ok, then.  BLARGH! Back in the beginning of July, my younger sister, Megan called me.  She lives in Miami (yes, Florida.  Much different then Minnesota!) and offered a trip down to visit her toward the end of January as a birthday gift.  Hmm... Florida in January with no kids?  Sounds like a little slice of heaven to me!  Except, she had a proposition (darned lawyers and their propositions... or is that English teachers?) She wanted to know if I would be willing to walk a 1/2 marathon with her.  In Miami and in January.  That's 13.1 miles.  THIRTEEN MILES!  For someone who hasn't been able to walk 2 miles in a long time, that seems like a LONG ways!  Heck.. it IS a long way!

This was before surgery, but I had already lost a significant amount of weight at this point.  Megan told me to think about it and get back to her.  Well, fast forward about 6 weeks.  I can walk about 2 miles comfortable now and still thinking that Miami in January with no kids is so very enticing and after talking about it with Mike and figuring out schedules, we figured out it would work.  I also figured it'd be a good way to keep up with the exercise to help continue the weight loss, so a win-win, right?   I wrote on her Facebook page last Monday night "I'm in".  Tuesday morning by 10 a.m. she had our registrations in and was asking me about flights.  *gulp*  She wasn't giving me any wiggle room to back out of this one!

So.  Yours truly is headed to Miami to WALK the ING Half Marathon on January 27, 2013.  I'm nervous.  I'm a little scared, but I'm pretty excited and I'll probably cry when I finish it.  Thank you, Megan, for the challenge! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A little of this, a little of that...

I've been thinking I need to update, but just haven't had anything to update about.  It's been a while though so bear with me.. this may become a bit disjointed and rambling, but it's my blog and I can do what I want with it! 

So a bit of an update since it's been almost two weeks since I last wrote anything.  I'm 2 weeks post-op and feeling pretty good.  Have a tender spot on my left, lower side but it's feeling better every day.  Kind of feels like a side-splint when you've been running or walking too much.  Otherwise, everything feels pretty good.  The port is in an awkward spot.  It's positioned right where I lean over a counter on my belly, so it hurts when I lean over something.  Another thing I can't change, just annoying and I'm learning. 

I can tell my innards are healing because my hunger is back!  I'm on "soft" foods now and have to chew everything to a mush, but it sure is nice to be able to chew food again!  Mike and I took Nate and Rachael out to one of our favorite Mexican places yesterday and I asked Rachael if she wanted to order off the "big" menu and share with me.  She was game and we ordered enchiladas. I gave her half and hate about 2/3 of what was left.  Before surgery I would've eaten the whole darned thing and not batted an eye!  It sure tasted good, though.  One thing that I'm really having a hard time with is not drinking anything with my meals and for 1/2 hour after I'm done.  I never realized how much I enjoyed drinking with my meals and I'm thirsty! As for my weight-loss, it has kind of stalled a bit, but I was told that was pretty normal in the weeks between surgery and getting fills.  I just keep chugging along, trying not to step on the scale and getting discouraged. 

Rachael is still asking questions, but she's so sweet.  We were having a conversation in the car the other day and she asked something about eating too much and my band.  It's so hard to explain to a 5-year-old that I had the band so I wouldn't eat too much and to help me lose weight so I can do more things with her.  She asked if she ate too much and I told her she was perfect and she didn't (and she doesn't!) It's such a slippery slope teaching her to be healthy and confident with her body image when it is a huge issue with me.  Explaining that we need to eat food to help our body grow and be able to have the energy to do things and not eat too much so we gain too much weight which is harmful for our body.  To make wise choices with the food that we eat and to keep treats as treats.  I feel blessed that, at 5 1/2, she makes pretty good choices with food.  She likes a variety of vegetables and is open trying new foods.  Now, she loves "the junk" as much as the next kid and would be willing to have fruit snacks for breakfast, but accepts the idea that they are a treat, not something to eat all the time. 

I just am so blessed with a supportive network of people surrounding me.  My husband, my kids, my family and friends.  Mike has this week off between jobs.  He's excited about starting next week at the new place and has been able to slow down a bit and breathe in this week in between.  He went up to Duluth camping over the weekend and came back on Monday afternoon.  I could tell when he walked in the door that a load had been lifted off his shoulders.  Thank you, Jesus.  He went camping with some friends from church including our pastor and his wife.  The rest of us were invited, but I just was not comfortable going being only 10 days post-op and not able to eat much at that point so I opted to stay home with the kids and told him to go with my blessings.  Had a good visit with my parents on Friday with Ty and Rachael and then Saturday, went to a friend's house and had fun at their place.  Sunday, I dropped off Ty at camp and picked up Nate in Cannon Falls.  He had spent the weekend with my brother and his girlfriend.  Monday we hosted the youth group with our study group for dinner and had a great time. 

This week has been nice with Mike home.  Just laid back and relaxed.  Still feels like the weekend!  Sometimes you need a week that feels like a weekend! 

Anyway... I want to start doing some photo-journaling and may try to do more of that.  Everything is better with pictures, right?

So here are a couple from the last week or so.  Enjoy!

 This one cracked me up because my beautiful daughter loves horses and when we flipped to the Olympics and saw the horses she got so excited!  She watched the equestrian events all morning and played on her little stuffed horse.  So here she is, on her horse with the riding events going on in the background!

I can't claim this one. Mike took it while he was camping this past weekend.  It's so tranquil and relaxing, though and I can close my eyes and imagine sitting there soaking in God's majesty.  It was taken on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  God is so good and He spoils us with the beauty He surrounds us with!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Passing it on...

Am I doing my daughter a disservice?  Am I teaching her that you need to lose weight to be accepted?  Am I teaching her healthy habits?

These are all some of the questions that I have struggled with as I have gone down this road towards bariatric surgery.  I winced today as she was playing with some toy and told it that it weighed too much and needed to lose weight.  I know my struggles have left an impact on her little psyche and I don't want this to be something that she worries about at the tender age of 5 1/2. 

Now, to back up some, I know this was something that I needed to do to get myself healthy.  Not only for myself, but for my family.  It is part of my journey that I have been called to go on and I'm ok with that.  My question is, how do I teach her to love herself in the way that God created her when Mommy needed to do something drastic to change herself?  I tell her that she's beautiful and perfect and God created her just the way she is.  She is an active, normal, soon-to-be kindergartener.  She does not have to worry about her weight.  I thank God that none of my kids have had the struggles with weight that I have had my entire life.  To be honest, when I found out that I was having a girl, it was one of my fears.  That she would have these same struggles that I have had.

I don't want her to have them in her head either.  I want her to own her body and not obsess about it.  I want her to know that one of the reasons that I chose to have this surgery was so that I could be around for her as she grows into adulthood and beyond.  I want that for all my children.  I want to be able to be there as they pass the milestones of their lives.  Graduation, college, marriage, children of their own.  I want to celebrate with them, I want to be able to shed tears and cry with them.  I want to watch them become the adults that God desires them to be.

So, when my precious daughter asks me I will tell her.  "Honey, I did this for me and I did this for you.  God did create us in His perfect image, but sometimes we forget that and abuse that.  Thankfully, He also gave us the technology and the ability to change that and I had surgery to help me get back to the person God desires me to be so that I can be there for you as you grow."

I need to remind her that she is also His child and she needs to take care of her body and treat it right.  That includes making healthy choices about what we eat and what we do.  That does not mean we're not allowed to have treats, but that treats are treats for a reason.  Treats are meant to be special and if we have those special things all the time, they are not treats anymore.  

I need to teach her to stand up for herself.  To not let anyone feed her lies.  Friends, classmates, the media, society.  She needs to learn to love herself as God loves her and not to doubt herself.  I'm finding that raising a daughter is so much different then raising boys.  I need to remind myself that her journey is her own, not mine, and I need to let her experience it for herself. 

On the other side!

Sorry for no updates, I was feeling kind of whiny and sorry for myself and didn't want to put that on the blog, so I decided to just stay quiet for a while.  I'd lie if I said that pre-op diet was easy because it was HARD!  Was it worth it?  Yup.  But it was not an easy thing to do and not something I would recommend anyone to do if they didn't have to.  800 calories a day just makes a person crabby!

Here I am on the other side of surgery.  I had surgery two days ago, on Wednesday.  It's always a little strange going in for surgery and I've been fortunate enough not to have to do it too often.  3 c-sections and my gall-bladder out as an adult.  Tonsils and adenoids out as a kid.  I remember walking back to the surgery suite, climbing up onto the table and them putting a mask over my face and then waking up in post-op.  I remember Dr. Chandra coming in and saying it went well and they were able to repair the hernia in my diaphragm and I vaguely remember being wheeled up to my room.  I had a lot of pain in my side at that point and once I was in my room, I remember getting a shot and going to sleep.

When I woke up again, it felt better, not great, but better.  Wednesday afternoon was a bit rough.  Got up a couple of times to walk the halls a bit, sat in my chair and dozed.  Mike left and my parents came up with the kids and we had a nice visit.  Rachael was girl of a million questions and Tyler just wanted to know if I was loopy coming out of anesthesia.  I think he's watched too many YouTubes of people waking up from having dental work done.  I didn't have that kind of anesthesia. Luckily, I don't wake up from anesthesia throwing up like some people do, so that was good!  I've been having to take anti-nausea meds anyway, because throwing up could cause the stitches holding the band in place to rip and the band to slip.  Don't want that to happen!

Came home yesterday afternoon.  Was up and walking quite a bit yesterday because I wanted to come home!  My swallow test was great and am able to drink a bit.  Not a whole lot. Just taking my meds fills me up!  It took me 90 minutes to drink about 12 oz. of chicken broth last night so the band seems to be doing what it is intended to do!

Haven't tried anything today.  I'm just not hungry.  Dr. Chandra said that was fine.  If I'm not hungry, don't eat.  I do need to drink, though and should probably go fill my water bottle and put it next to me as a reminder.  Between the time I checked into the hospital and before I went down for my swallow test, I had gained 6 pounds.  I know it's from all the fluids they pumped into me, but it was still a little disheartening to see the scale up like that.  The life changes really start now.  There is no turning back now!  As sore and tired as I am, I'm excited that this is bringing n a whole new chapter of my life!  I've said in the past that I can't even imagine myself as "thin".  It's never been a part of who I am, but I'm excited to start this new chapter of my life.  I'm excited to see where God is going to lead me and what He is going to mold me into.  I have to be patient, though, and that's a hard thing for me to be.  I need to be careful and follow this diet.  The band isn't a magical device that is going to do miracles, but a tool that I'm going to have to learn to manage and make work for me.  I'm ready though!  I'm ready to move forward and continue with this journey!

Friday, July 20, 2012

So you know I've been drinking four protein shakes a day for the past 10 days and still have about 4 to go.  Boring, boring!  So I thought I'd make it a little more fun for myself today and picture blog it!

 My lunch!  Yum, Yum.... Not only my lunch, but my breakfast, dinner and snack, too!
 And Rachael's lunch.  Mmm... How I miss being able to chew!
 The cast.  I decided on chocolate for lunch.  Sometimes I put in 4-5 oz. of cold press coffee or, if I'm making the vanilla, a couple of shakes of cinnamon to switch it up a bit.  Oh, and my Magic Bullet?  Love it!  Thank you Mike for such a thoughtful Mother's Day gift!
 1 cup of milk into the blender cup...
 1 level scoop of Slimfast High Protein drink powder...

 Now if that doesn't look appetizing, I don't know what would!
 Yup, I know the ice is sticking up over the top, but it's all good!
 Screw the blender bottom on and put it on the bullet and blend until smoothy!
 Rachael likes her lunch much better.  Who can blame her?
Creamy, chocolately goodness.  I really is not too bad, but is just old after 10 days and 4x/day!

Travel Companions...

Yesterday I went to a Bible Study that I haven't gone to in nearly a year.  They meet on Thursday mornings and when I started my job last fall, it just didn't work for me to make it since I had to be at work before the study would be finished.  Haven't went this summer for a slew of reasons.  They were finishing up a series and then doctor appointments.  It was nice to yesterday.  They're doing a light series about the Andy Griffith show and God's message in the clips from the show.

So after the study, Rachael and I ran around Rochester to get some errands done and to stay busy.  I've found that I don't get a case of the "mad hunger pains" if I'm keeping busy.  We headed down to Shopko because I wanted to wander around and I needed a car freshener in my car.  Walking past the women's section I spotted a really cute pair of jeans.  I've been having to buy my jeans at specialty stores for the last 10 years or so, but on a whim, decided to try them on, not really expecting to be able to button them, but would've been happy if I could get them up over my hips.  My hips are my biggest problem area.  Into the dressing room Rachael and I go and I pull on the jeans. Not only could I get them up over my hips, I was able to button and zip them without having to hold my breath!  Excitedly, I called Mike because I needed to tell SOMEONE!  I get off the phone and pull the jeans off and put on my shorts and hear a "Congratulations!!  You should go to Savers!"  from the next changing room.  I laughed because even though the jeans were super cute, I just couldn't bring myself to spend nearly $30 for something that might fit me a month or two and I had thought that same exact though.. I'm going to Savers!

In the car, after the visit to Shopko, I burst into tears.  Why?  Because I realized that I had just met one of my goals.  Something that I've wanted to do for years that has seemed unattainable and impossible for such a long time.  I was able to go into a mass retailer and fit into a pair of jeans off the rack.  Yes, they're jeans in the plus section.  They're jeans at the very top of the plus section, but it's not something I've been able to do.  Jeans in plus plus sizes are super expensive even on sale and I've always worn my clothes to threads because of it.  You also don't get the assortment that you can get in smaller sizes and I've always wanted to be able to wear the "cute clothes" instead of the huge clothes. Now, I have a LONG way to go, but to know that I'm getting there was so affirming!  My next goal?  Out of the 20's and into the teens!  I want to banish the multiple XX's from my clothing sizes!  

At Savers I was able to get 2 pairs of pants and a pair of exercise shorts for $20!  Score!  I'm so looking forward to spending LESS money on clothes and getting cuter clothes while I'm at it. 

By the time we were done at the Dollar Store, Savers and Aldi's, it was 2:30 and I had a starving girl (well Rachael was hungry, too!) and I told her I'd run her through McDonald's for a Happy Meal.  Uh oh.. McDonalds?  I can't tell you that the thought of getting a snack-sized Fire chicken poppers didn't go through my mind.  I can't tell you that my mouth wasn't watering at the thought of being able to chew something warm and meaty...
Drive-through: "Welcome to McDonald's! Can I take your order?"  
Me: "Girls McNugget Happy Meal, please, with chocolate milk." 
Drive-through: "Would you like anything else with that?"
Me: "....umm.... No, that's all thank you!"
Drive-through: "That'll be $3.75, please pull ahead!"
 I resisted!  I drank the last bit of my Crystal Lite and took Rachael home and had a protein shake!  
A good friend posted this on my Facebook wall yesterday.  It was a good reminder and stayed with me throughout the rest of the day.  Thanks Elaine!  It was exactly what I needed to get through the day.  He was with me when I tried on those pants at Shopko and rejoiced with me, He was with me when I burst into tears in the car because I had met that goal and He was with me when I resisted the temptation at McDonalds.  He is always with me and He will never forsake me.  What a wonderful travel companion we have in Jesus!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

He's Always Been Faithful....

Yesterday was a rough day.  Yesterday was one of those days that, 3 months ago,  I would've tossed up my hands, opened the fridge and eaten whatever was available.  I was frustrated and tired. I had gotten some not so good news and was feeling beaten down.  I would've eaten too much not so good stuff because of it.

Not today.  Not now.  I can't do that anymore.  I can't let the devil get to me like that.

It started out pretty good.  Rachael and I took Mike to work as the van was still at the shop and I figures since it was early, we might as well beat the heat and go feed the geese.  I've been stocking up on stale bread and it seemed like a good morning to do it.  It was a lot of fun!
As you can see, she had a good time, too!  I couldn't believe how bold the geese were that they would come up and eat right out of my hand.  I was waiting for them to gang up on Rachael and take her out for the bun!

We came home and the day kind of went downhill a bit. Called the new insurance company to make sure I wouldn't get stuck with the pre-existing condition clause since we will have a lapse of a week with no insurance and found out that it doesn't matter.  The new insurance company won't cover bariatric procedures.  Panic mode set in.  Yes, the surgery and the post-op visit will fall under our current insurance, but there is follow-up.  I'll have to continue meeting with my dietician, I'll have to go in for fills.  Those won't be covered.  So what did my husband say?  "Sarah, you worked too hard to turn back now.  We will make this work."  Tears.. I've been teary off and on all day.  I've been doing research on-line to see what it costs for self-payers and what I'm finding is reassuring.  Breathe, Sarah, breathe.  We can do this.  It's gonna be alright.

Had my appointment with my surgeon shortly after that.  It went well.  I'm down below my target weight for him to do the surgery so he was pleased with that.  Told me to continue with the liquid diet and continue to drop the weight.  I'm a week in.  Not going to stop now!

Then after my appointment with him, I went and had iced tea with a dear, dear friend.  We talked about life, we talked about kids, we talked about families.  We talked about church and how God brings good out of bad.  And He always has.

Sara Groves sings a song about it.  She actually sings a lot of songs that resonate deeply with me and more than one time I have found myself dissolving into tears while driving and listening to one of her albums.  This one has been going through my mind today:

He's Always Been Faithful
~Sara Groves~

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Morning by morning I wake up to find

The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I’m in need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me

I can’t remember a trial or a pain

He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I’m in need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me

This is my anthem, this is my song

The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I’m in need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me 

Great song and a good reminder. He's always been faithful to me.  He will continue to be faithful.  It is a promise that He has made to us.  It's easy to focus on the negatives in our lives and Mike and I have been bombarded with a lot of those in the past couple of years, but we've also been so blessed.  We have each other, we have a good roof over our heads (even if we do need to replace the shingles!), we have great kids who are healthy, we have enough money to cover our needs, we have good friends.. I can go on and on!  God has been faithful.  He has blessed us with His gifts and the verse from the song that says, "I can’t remember a trial or a pain, He did not recycle to bring me gain" is so very true and evident in my life.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I've lost a Rachael and I don't want it back!

Ok.. I didn't actually LOSE Rachael, but I've nearly lost the equivalent of her and that was a little mind-boggling for me to think of today.  By the time I go in for surgery next week, I will probably have lost more than what my 5-year-old daughter weighs over the course of the last 6 months or so.  

I had my pre-op appointment today with my primary and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I've dropped another 8 pounds since last Thursday.  That brings my total pre-op weight loss to 39 pounds! Rachael (for fun, because the scale talks!) weighed herself yesterday and tipped the scale at 42.7 pounds.   I haven't weighed this little (don't want to say much!!) in probably 10 years.  For the first time in my life, I wasn't panicky about stepping on the scale, but a little bit excited!

So what does 40 pounds look like?  Well.. I used the magical power of google and came up with a couple of things:  
This is 40 pounds of butter.  In case you don't want to count, that is 160 sticks of butter!
 And this is a 40 pound cat.  Well, actually a 39.1 pound cat, but it's a HUGE cat!

Now I have a LOOOONG way to go to get to a healthy weight, but my head is in such a different place now.  I have learned some self-control.  I have learned to make better choices.  I have learned to question myself as to what I'm actually feeling.  Am I REALLY, REALLY hungry?  Or am I stressed, sad, tired, etc... Any one of those would've triggered a snack in the past.  I no longer walk past the fridge and mindlessly open it because I know, when I do that, the chances of me taking something out and eating it are pretty high!

Like I said, an interesting journey and one that I would do over again, even if I weren't able to have the surgery.

So.. some may be thinking, "Why are you still going forward with surgery when you've done so well on your own?"  I've thought about that and I'm resolved to have this surgery as a tool to help me continue to lose and reach my goal.  This is a tool that will make it very hard to get lazy about my eating habits because there is going to be that constant reminder that my stomach will not be able to hold nearly as much as it did before and if I try... well, I won't like the consequences very much!

This is a path I will continue for the rest of my life.  I am so blessed that my family has embraced me during this time.  My husband is my greatest supporter!  He even bought me roses yesterday because he said he was so proud of me!  My 14-year-old son has taken over dinner duties since I've gone on the liquid diet.  He didn't even let a mishap from the grill (nearly lost his eyebrows!) hamper his enthusiasm!  My 5-year-old is always asking me how many pounds I've lost.  She's just been so sweet!  The 18-year-old isn't home much, but he's told me he's proud of me.  To get those affirming words from your teenage boys is pretty special.

My extended family have been supportive and my church family has been holding me up in prayer.  I'm overwhelmed with the support I have had.  It's absolutely amazing and has shown me that I have a huge support system out there!  I can do this! I will do this!  I'm excited about it, too! Now, I need to go make my before-bed protein shake!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It was good-I am good!

Yesterday I dropped my kids off plus two extras at Friendship Place over in Rochester to do some volunteer work.  Friendship Place is a house in an impoverished neighborhood where kids can come and be "safe".  It is a place where they can relax, do their homework (during the school year) and experience some genuine love from people that do care for them and want them to succeed.  The Youth Director at our church is the director there and it is a non-denominational place that is supported by many local churches.  During the summer, different groups take a week to serve there and the kids love it. 

Anyway, I digress.  After I dropped off my van-load of kids of teenagers (and one 5-year-old) I decided to take the opportunity to do some grocery shopping ALL BY MYSELF!  What a luxury!  While I was at Wal-Mart (yes I shop Wal-Mart, I'm on a budget!) I decided that I was sick and tired of sweaty hair on the back of my neck and got a haircut.  In the middle of the haircut, my phone rang.  Out of habit, I check the number and notice it's my nurse calling.  Asked the stylist if she minded if I took the call quick (she was very gracious) and I answered. 

MY SURGERY WAS APPROVED!  I swear I almost started crying right there and then!  Told my nurse I was in the middle of a haircut and could I call her quick when I got home. Nurse said do you have time to pick a Wednesday.  Ummm..... Ok... "How about the last Wednesday in July?" I asked.  "He's wide open that day, you're on the books! Call me when you get home to set up appointments" I was told.

Finally!  A light at the end of the tunnel.  An actual day to start working towards! I called my husband and he was nearly excited about it as I was!

Now I have had about 24 hours for it to sink in.  It's real now.  Kind of like getting a due-date for a pregnancy, or in my case with 3 c-sections, an actual birth date.  It's 3 weeks away!  My life changes permanently in 3 short weeks.

Mike an I went out for lunch today while the kids were at Friendship Place.  Had some delicious Ethiopian food at a new restaurant.  It was my first time eating Ethiopian and it was really good.  Anyway, we talked about the "What now's".  I teared up and confessed to him that I have no image of what I'm going to even look like "skinny".  I've never been skinny.  In fact, I was in high school the last time I was below 200 pounds.  Mike said, "Well, look at our wedding picture."  I was 6-months pregnant and overweight in my wedding picture.  Not a good comparison.  I could look at my senior pictures from High School, but I was overweight then, too.  The realization that I could very possibly get down to my Jr. High weight settled in on me.  JUNIOR HIGH!  I don't know.. can you ever look at the mirror and see yourself as you actually are instead of what you see yourself as mentally?  It's going to be interesting in the next several months watching my body change dramatically.  I'm excited and.... scared?

I'm sure these are thoughts that go through the mind of anyone undergoing change.  I've been asked what people can do for me.  "Please just pray for me." I answer them.  Pray for me.  Pray for wisdon.  Pray for strength.  Pray for fortitude.  Pray for me to see myself as God views me.  I look in the mirror and see all my faults, my wrinkles, my scars, my flabbiness. God looks at me and sees beautiful.  God looks at me and sees His creation. On the sixth day he created mankind.  Genesis 1:31 says "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning —the sixth day."

It was good.  I am good.  I'm about to wake up to a new morning of my life.   Philippians 4:13 reminds us:
Would you please pray that I keep this in mind as I move forward?  I still have a lot of obstacles to overcome.  The two-week liquid diet that I need to start next week scares me to death.  I love food.  I love the taste of it, the texture of it.  I have a couple of big picnic-type, potluck events in the next couple of weeks.  One of them that we're hosting.  No tastes... just my protein drinks and lots of water. Pray that I'm not tempted and I have the strength to get through these next few weeks.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Waiting, waiting, waiting...

I hate waiting.  It seems like I've been doing a lot of it lately in regards to this whole weight-loss journey that I'm on.  Last Fall, I decided it was time to take control of my weight for the first time in my life.  Sure, I've tried things in the past, but have always gotten overwhelmed and "fallen off the wagon" as the old adage goes.  Then, well... you know how it goes.  You mess up, you get frustrated with yourself and you give up.

Over and over and over again.

2012 has been a year of milestones for me.  I turned 40, my oldest son graduated from high school and will start college in the Fall, my "baby" will start kindergarten and my middle son starts high school.  2012.  My father-in-law passed away in February making my husband an "orphan" and, now,  he has been offered and has taken a new position starting mid-August. 

Yup, a milestone year. So, late last Fall, after years of thinking about, talking about and praying about it, I decided to pursue a surgical means to weight-loss.  I chose to pursue the lap-band procedure because it's the least invasive of the three different kinds of bariatric surgery AND if there are complications, it is easily reversible.

What a journey it has been!  Appointment after appointment.  Dieticians, sleep studies, GI procedures!  Now, six months after "officially" starting the journey, I'm ready for surgery and have been waiting a month to get the "OK" from insurance.  It's been a time of self-reflection, changing behaviors and learning to think in a whole different way. 

The hardest part has been learning to eat more consciously and intelligently.  Asking myself, "Is this what I really want?  Do I really need it?  Is it worth the calories?"  I have realized that I am an emotional and bored eater. I have also come to realize that my addiction is food.  It makes me feel good!  Unfortunately, although it can be as addicting as any other "drug", it's not one you can just give up.  It's a daily struggle for me to make wise food choices rather then opening the fridge and eating whatever looks good.  I don't keep ice cream or treats in the house anymore. I don't need them and, really, my family doesn't either. 

I said that this blog was going to be a peek into my life and my journey.  I try to keep Ephesians 5:8 close to my heart.  To be a light in the darkness.  I want to have that spark that people are curious about, that people ask about.  I want to inspire other people.  I want people to look at me and say, "Well if SHE can do it, I can to!" 

If I can do it.. so can YOU!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

18 years...

18 years.  Where did those years go?  18 years ago today I certainly was NOT thinking about graduation.  My baby was 4 months old and I was a young mom excited about the future and what it would hold for this little baby of mine.  18 years later.. This afternoon I watched that "baby" walk up on a stage and accept his High School Diploma.  18 years of celebrations, trials, laughter, tears, frustration, pride, and all the those other emotions I'm forgetting about.

I remember people telling me to hold on to him, these years go by so fast.  I didn't believe them.  18 years is such a long time to a young, 22-year-old mom.  18 years went by in the blink of an eye to this 40-year-old mom.  Can't I hang on to that little boy for just a little bit longer?  No.  I need to let him fly.  I need to let him feel the wind under his wings and maybe even hop around like the little robin that Mike and Rachael saw yesterday in the backyard.  It's mama was chirping encouragement, but was letting it stretch it's wings and learn to fly on it's own.  It's hard watching your baby leave the nest, but I know he's ready.  Fly, Tyler!  Stretch your wings and soar!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

God never you more then you can handle...

You know, one saying that I have come to hate is "God never gives you more then what you can handle."  On the outside, it seems like something nice to say to someone who is going through difficult times.  It's one of those bits of advice that I know I have been guilty of giving in the past, but after the last year or so, it's now out of my repertoire of words to say to a person going through a trying time.  You see, I challenge you to find, in the Bible, where it says that.  God has never told someone that.  Look at Job, Moses, David, Solomon.  Look at Peter, Paul, or any of the other apostles that died or were persecuted for their faith.  God does give us more then we can handle, but He then expects us to lean on Him for strength.  He alone gives us the strength to get through the trials that this life throws at us.

The last 18 months or so have been very difficult ones for our family.  It has been a time in the desert trying to desperately follow and listen to what God wants us to do and not hearing a whole lot from Him. I have felt His presence in my life, but not a whole lot of guidance.  It's been one of those periods in my life when everything has been picked up and shaken up and I've been throwing myself at God screaming, "Why have you done this to ME!  Can't you see how it has upset MY family?  What do you want ME to do?  How can I fix it?"

Well, no wonder God was quiet.  I was making it all about me.  Just like a little child.  Yes, I was hurt terribly.  Yes, because of what happened, my husband and my children were affected.  There was nothing I could do.  Nothing I could do to fix it and go back to how things were. I was too busy trying to hear what I wanted God to say rather than actually listening to what He was telling me.  Psalms 46:10 tells us to "Be still and know that I am God."  I wasn't being still.  I was restless, I was angry, and I wanted answers.

I think we're on the healing side of things now.  Things are settling into a new normal.  We have a new church family that we're trying to figure out where we fit.  There are still outbursts and sadness, but when I look back at what happened, I can see God's loving Hands in it.  I am still sad when I think back on the series of events, but I'm not angry anymore.  God has shown me why He allowed what to happen, happen and I am at peace with that.

I know God has a plan for my life.  He knew me before I was born (Jeremiah 1:5),  He knows the number of hairs on my head (Matthew 10:30), He will guide me (Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 37:4-7) and most of all, He loves me (John 3:16, Romans 5:5, Psalm 33:18-22)!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

When one flies the coop...

Well, I haven't kept up with this like I had intended to.  Isn't that life?  It just gets ahead of you and everything else falls to the wayside.

So I'm feeling a little sad and just a bit weepy.  Why?  One of my chicks flew the coop earlier this week sooner then we had been expecting.  I'm missing him and realizing that when he comes home, it will be for a visit, not to stay.  Don't get me wrong!  I'm happy for him and pray success and happiness for him.  I look forward to his visit homes and am glad that he is stretching his wings and learning to fly.

What happened, you ask? Well, there has been discourse in our house lately with him.  He's a senior and has had a bad case of senioritis.  We've been on his case about finding a job for the summer and he's just been haphazardly looking with a lot of outside, what shall we call it?  Motivation that didn't seem to come from him!  So last weekend, we hear through the grape-vine that a camp that is about 40 minutes from our house was getting a bit desperate for some male counselors. This perked Tyler up.  He LOVES camp, it was always a highlight of his summer and was sad that he wouldn't be going this year.  Now the camp we've sent our kids to for years is about 4 hours from here and this one is much closer, but still a Christian camp.  He jumped on it. Made the call Tuesday afternoon after school, got his application and references sent out the same day and got a call on Wednesday for a phone interview Thursday.  By Thursday some of his references had gotten returned (oh, the speed of doing things on-line!) and between his glowing references and his interview he got hired on the spot to be a counselor, barring a bad background check.

I took him to camp on Friday afternoon when he finished his very last day of High School.  No time to really process he was leaving.  Just a whirlwind of getting last minute supplies and getting him there.  I dropped him and all his gear off at the cabin he'll be staying in and awkwardly waved goodbye to him as he was walking away.  No hug, no.. well.. he was nervous, excited and forgot about hugging his old mom.

Now I realize that he'll be home a few weekends here and there between now and when camp ends on August 17.  He'll be busy with friends, packing up his room, getting ready for college.  College move-in is August 21.

So here I sit.. my chicks are growing.  I hold on to them as long as I can, but they struggle and fight against my embraces.  They want to grow up.  They want to fly and who can blame them?  That's what God created them to do.  I do rejoice in that.  I rejoice in their independence but I mourn just a little bit in the loss of their presence in our home.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Trying something new...

Wow!  I never realized what a hit my chicken sandwiches were going to be.  I just put them out on Pinterest as a lark and it took off like wildfire!  Thank you for all the wonderful comments.  They really are great sandwiches and we probably have them about twice a month when it's grilling weather! Maybe I should start sharing  more things that I make!

Here's what I made for dinner Monday night.  I was in the mood for a casserole and found this one in 365:No Repeats by Rachael Ray.  I adapted it to work with what I had on hand it was delicious! I'll try to post the recipe as I made it.

Rachael Ray's Southwestern Chili Con Queso Pasta Bake
1 pound penne rigate (ridged penne)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon ground cumin (1 palmful)
1 tablespoon roasted ground coriander (1 palmful)

2 tablespoons chili powder (2 palmfuls)
Coarse black pepper
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3-5 garlic cloves, chopped (we really like garlic so I put in more, the recipe calls for 3)
1 jalepeño
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (2 palmfuls)
2 cups milk
3/4 pound cheddar cheese (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (a generous handful), chopped
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (a few handfuls) chopped
1 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

Preheat the broiler to high and position the rack 8 inches from the heat.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta until slightly undercooked--a little chewy at the center.

While the water is coming to a boil, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the hamburger.  When the hamburger is almost finished, but still a little pink, throw in the garlic, jalepeño, and onions and finish cooking until the burger is browned and the onion is translucent.  Drain the grease from the skillet and mix in the cumin, coriander and chili powder.  Take off the heat or turn heat down low.

In a medium sauce pot (and you can do this while you're browning the hamburger), melt the butter and add the flour to it.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over moderate heat and then whisk in the milk. When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese, cilantro and parsley with a wooden spoon.  When the cheese has melted, stir in the tomatoes.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it back into the large pot.  Add the contents of the hamburger and all of the Cheddar sauce, and stir to combine.  Transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle with a bit more cheese if you wish, and place under the broiler to lightly brown.

It says it makes 4 servings, but with a salad, can easily feed 6!  It was another hit in our house!  I also think it would do well in a crockpot to take to a potluck.  Just add a bit more milk to the cheese mixture so it doesn't get too dried out.  I'm going to try it for the next potluck we have and we usually have plenty of potlucks throughout the year!

Oh.. and do you want pictures?  I hope so, because I took a couple!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Just a little slice of heaven!

It's Tuesday morning and I'm sitting here drinking my big 'ole cup of coffee and enjoying the peace and quiet of an empty/sleeping house.  The boys are all gone to school, Mike's at work and as a rare treat, Rachael is still snoozing.

Again, I have a huge list of things to do and I won't bore you with the details, but I can't help but enjoy this little bit of peace.  I have the window behind me open and the robins are singing as the cool, fresh, Spring air fills my house.  In the distance, I can hear the hum of the traffic on the highway, but it's peaceful and I don't get that too often.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of peace in such a hectic life.  Thank you for sleeping children and a quiet house.  It's little things like this that are so precious sometimes.  Thank you for coffee, Lord, and a chance to marvel at what you have created!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Our favorite sandwiches ever!

So last week, with the beautiful weather we've been having here in Southern Minnesota, I decided to make our most favorite sandwiches ever! Mike found the recipe in a magazine and asked me to make them and they've been in regular rotation ever since.  So I'm going to share and hope that whoever stumbles upon this little blog and decides to try them likes them just as much as we do!

Grilled Teriyaki Pineapple Chicken Sandwiches

I'm not going to give specific amounts because you can adapt it to however you need to make to suit your needs

Boneless, skinless chicken breast
pineapple slices (in rings)
Swiss cheese slices
thinly sliced red onion
Teriyaki sauce
crusty buns

Marinate your chicken breasts in the teriyaki sauce for at least an hour.

I like using fresh pineapple and slicing it in nice, thick rings.  You can use canned rings, but the fresh is so much better!

Next you want to slice your red onion nice and thin! If you slice it too thick, it's going to be too overpowering on the sandwich when you start to assemble it.

Now you want to assemble everything you need to go out to the grill so you can have it all close at hand as you put things together.

Put the chicken on the grill and and flip it over midway through the grilling process.

When you flip the chicken, it's time to grill the pineapple.  By caramelizing the slices, it really brings out the natural sweetness of the pineapple. You only have to grill it for a couple of minutes per side.

When the pineapple is done, take it off the grill and toast the buns.  While the buns are toasting, go ahead and put the onion on the chicken breasts of those who like onion.  Our kids pass on the onion, but Mike and I love it and I always make extra sandwiches for lunch the next day!

When the buns are nice and toasty, take them off the grill and spread the chicken out a bit so you can melt the cheese.  Mmm... melty, Swiss goodness!

Finally, when the cheese is nice and melty, transfer the breasts onto the buns and top each with a slice of the grilled pineapple.  The combination of all the flavors is amazing!  If you want a bit of heat on your sandwich, you can add fresh or pickled jalepeño slices.  Mike likes it like that, but I love it just like this.  Of course, Rachael wanted to be added in, so here she is posing with the finished sandwiches!

Hope your family enjoys these as much as we do!

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Sitting here today with lots to do.  Didn't go to church today, Nathan, my 14-year-old is home sick and miserable and I didn't want to let him stay home by himself. He's not sick often so he's camped out on the couch, buried in a mountain of blankets watching those dumb teen shows on Disney.  Poor guy!  I'm procrastinating though.  Got lots of things to do, but just don't have the gumption to start it.

  • Organizing
  • vacuuming
  • clean the kitchen
  • sweep and mop
  • budget planning
  • laundry (does this one EVER end??)
  • get dressed
  • the list goes on and on and on....
But here I sit.  I've checked Facebook, had my cup of coffee and tell myself to get going.  Alright, then.. here I go!  We'll see how much I get done today :)

Friday, March 2, 2012


So... another blog.  What makes this one so special that you should read it?  Nothing really.  How about that.  Nothing.  There is nothing special about me. I live in an ordinary house, in an ordinary neighborhood.  I have a dog, a husband and kids.  I work a part-time job, am not the best housekeeper and have joys and trials, just like every other ordinary person.

Maybe this is what sets me apart.  I'm ordinary.  It's ok to be ordinary!  It's good to know that there are other people out there facing the same issues I am. It gives me hope and it gives me comfort.

Why Living Light?  Well, when I first felt the tuggings to write, I thought I'd write about my journey in weight loss, but then what?  Well, I asked God to help me because I'm not very creative in thinking of titles for things and He put Ephesians 5:8 into my head and I went and looked...
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light." (NIV)
I thought, "WOW!" I can do this.  I strive to live my life in a way that God has intended for me and to let my light shine.  I don't consider myself a person who is going to chase you down, waving my Bible in your face, but I do try to live my life according to the teachings of Jesus and I fail every. single. day.

The great thing about that is that it's alright.  I pick myself up, dust myself off, say a little prayer and start over.  Again and again.  I'm forgiven and I find hope in that.  If I can find hope in that, I hope others can too.  So this blog is to pour out my jumbled thoughts.  To share things that amuse me or are just too good not to share.

I do plan on sharing about my weight loss journey, but this has the potential to be so much more.  So much deeper and meaningful.  If you decide to join me on the journey, great!  If not, that's alright, too.

So are we ready?  I think so!  Take a deep breath, hold your nose and dive in.  It might be kind of fun!