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Lessons Learned from my Back Surgery

black wonder womanThere is nothing like 2 months spent flat on your back to give you a new perspective on life. My world quickly went from vertical to horizontal in a matter of days when I discovered I had a collapsed disc in my lowest lumber. I found myself deeply impaired, lacking the ability to walk, drive, pick up my kids, cook or do much of anything else. I was stunned. My initial response to this news was to just keep pushing through. I treated my acute back pain like anything else in life: If I just give it the old college try I will eventually conquer it, right?

So that’s what I did!  I just kept trudging along waiting for deliverance from my pain but changing nothing about how I operated. I would rally my entire might to lift myself out of my car. Once I found myself upright, I would stand there with my head lifted to the sky for a moment, as if to beg God for one more ounce of strength.  For any normal woman, this would be a sign that somethings gotta give but not for me! Besides Wonder Woman had just come out and I was ready to defy the odds with sheer willpower.

Have you ever tried and tried and will power just wasn’t enough? I finally came to a point that putting one foot in front of the other was not sufficient and it was there that I broke. I was scheduled to make a presentation that morning and my only focus was to get there and make it happen. But the fatigue of chronic pain and the emotional toll of being totally helpless, finally had it’s way with me on the side of a road in South Dallas. I sat there in my car crying big ugly tears. There was a man parked in a black truck and I could tell he was looking but I didn’t care. My tears came from the depth of my soul where I usually store them away so no one can see. But this time they erupted from my hiding place and I couldn’t quite figure out how to turn off the faucet.

It was in that state that I cried out to God pleading for him to answer. It’s not that I hadn’t prayed for God to alleviate my pain before, I said my prayers and asked for relief every day, maybe even every hour. Even still, it was a passing prayer, maybe one in which I just spoke the name of Jesus as my prayer. This time I came to God exasperated from not hearing his response. I couldn’t take it any longer and the veneer of self-sufficiency that had masked my prior prayers fell off as I sat and wept that day.

Discerning the voice of God can be a tricky thing sometimes as He speaks to us in many ways and primarily through his written word. But it was this moment in that still small voice, I could hear the Lord say- “Go to the doctor RIGHT NOW, emphasis on RIGHT Now.” that was all the permission I needed to let go of the helm I was so desperately trying to steer. I crumbled like a toddler held in her father’s arms. I needed God’s approval to stop trying to fix my pain and get help. It took several days and 2 failed attempts to return to work for me to accept my superior’s approval to let go too, but I eventually got it there. From then on it was a whirlwind of diagnostic tests and appointments. Soon enough I found relief through surgery and I couldn’t be happier that I stopped when God told me to stop.

Maybe you are going through something, where you feel the weight of the world crashing down on your shoulders. Sometimes our trials feel like a boulder that we fight to push uphill; with every passing second and each slip of the foot its possible, that boulder could overpower you with its great force. We often wear our hands to the bone while making little progress. When someone steps in and says “let me help,” we cling to the success we’ve had; we point out how far we have come with the bolder and with the end in sight we feel that a victory may be cheapened by accepting a helping hand.

What I learned from my back surgery was this… accept that hand. Help does not make you weak, help signifies that you are strong enough to realize your own limitations.

 

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A day in the life of…

So I decided to do some picture journaling to show the different facets of my life. I am a Believer, a Wife, a mom of 3 under three a Minister and the list goes on. Don’t get my wrong I don’t think that droves of people are biting their nails waiting to see what I fed my children today, but I always get questions about how in the world I manage to raise these kids work full time support my husband and write on the side with a smile on my face. So I figured I would chronicle the reality of a day in my life. Granted I don’t think it makes for life changing journalism but I do have some pretty cute kids and some life hacks you may find helpful soooooo drum roll please here we go… enjoy

6:00am- the hubs is getting ready for work I’m off today since I worked Saturday and Sunday (#ministrylife) I am faced with the choice to send the kids to pre school or keep them with me to redeem some quality time that I’ve spent chasing down ministry partners to give them commemorative pens.

The verdict is in I’m keeping all three today!!!! So we feast on cookies bananas and peanut butter in my queen sized bed and watch far too many episodes of Ninjago!


This is Lily 2 years old 20 pounds and a force of nature! This pic pretty much sums up the tude she’s been giving me all morning.


Meet Jude 3 years old and he thinks he is a Sithlord he walked around like this saying “look mommy I’m a Star Wars” this boy is silly and brilliant and refused to follow directions!

Ok it’s about 11:00 I’m feeling pretty good about myself by now. Why not start dinner #crockpotlife as a busy mom family 5 on a budget I cook  a lot to save money and I enjoy it. But I’m not going to lie gone are the days of roasting a rack of lamb with mint jelly all while wearing pearls. I do have my go to meals; I try to make them all quick or fix and forget so my crock pot gets a lot of mileage. Today I was super lazy about it and didn’t want to make gravy which I usually pour over he chuck roast while in the slow cooker. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best

Dishes done (check) stare at the rest of the house and pretend I’m going to clean it (check) Note to self why are there so many toys! Like way too many!



My kids are not veggie eaters so I’m always looking for ways to hide them in their food. I made this homemade tomato soup a week or so ago with lots of pureed carrots. I make it in bulk, pre seasoned with onions and portion it out in freezer bags. I throw it in my spaghetti for added veggies or defrost it for the kids’ lunch like I did today. I’ve got lots of little baggies of what nots in the freezer and none of them are labeled so actually putting this practice to good use is like a fun game of hide and go seek! It’s like my Pinterest side meets the real me and we all just close our eyes and hope for the best!!!! 

Enter stage left my newest addition Joey! He’s adorable and cuddly and honestly I am self conscious about how much time he spends in this rocker. Managing everything else in this life I find myself wondering if I’m short changing the youngest I only hope I don’t mess him up and that my friends are real mommy thoughts unscripted. (Yes my carpet is terribly stained! Between potty training spot cleaning, spilled apple juice and water bottles I think I may have given up)


Ahhh Mommy’s gotta eat too!!! I made myself a grilled cheese on the side figured the kids had enough carbs that day. Lol really I had enough carbs too but something special just for me gives me moments to hold onto where I feel like an adult. (Yes that’s a kid’s spoon don’t judge me)


I try to take time to enjoy the little things. My soon started meticulously staking his toys in the dinning room I would typically tell him to stop but both he and Lily were captivated by their new task. (New rule never interrupt a captivated toddler) this random pile of things including my shoe and a war tank my son called a birthday present for me! He was so proud so I took the bait and paused to enjoy him a bit.


One huge poopie 2 baths and three breast feedings later we find ourselves on an adventure to the doctor. All three kids and myself have been suffering the wrath of winter colds. After doing everything I’ve been told to do I figured I better just take them in to the doc to be sure. I’m worried they will see this mom of three as a newbie and wonder why I brought them in for a viral cold. Why do I even care about their opinions anyway (By the way #teampetty came out during our drive, this is a pic of a new QT which was built recently my husband and I argued about if the new gas station was a QT he said no I said yes I win! What what lol real life marriage goals include rubbing things in your spouse’s face)


At the doc with the three littles is it just me or does everyone stare at us wherever we go. Maybe I’m just making it up out people look at me with half pity and half elation. BTW this was before they got the flu shoot, notice the smiles 🙂


Cup number 3 of coffee today this time in ice form. Honestly I didn’t feel like I would make the drive home the exhaustion is slowly encapsulating me.


Overall the kids do a pretty good job while I’m out. This is not a coincidence but it’s the result of intense prep. First we have a come to Jesus meeting in the car before we get out about how they will be on their best behavior and not embarrass me. I come fully stocked with medium sized toys not small ones! I repeat not small ones! They will be every where. And most importantly I try to communicate with them about where we are going and what will happen next. A lot of acting out by toddlers is caused by not being able to control their environment every moment is filled with surprises and new discoveries so I try to cut down on over stimulation by over communicating. In this case I kept going over why they were getting flu shots what would happen 1st 2nd and 3rd and it worked like a charm!


3 sick kids 2 shots and 2.5 hours later we shut it down! Parking lot of the doctor’s office is empty!

7:30 a little late for dinner time guess the lazy gravy I made was a hit as you can see clean plates. Although we did bribe Jude to eat his food with the promise of a cookie they say you’re not supposed to do that… I say who ever made this rule is clearly not trying to feed a toddler on a regular basis

My hubs makes bomb homemade cookies it’s a simple joy and probably one of the reasons I have yet to loose the baby weight! lol I grab two after dinner I have now lost count of how many I’ve had I’m headed to sit down and relax for one of the first times in hours while the hubs preps the kids for bed and folds laundry.


Getting in some time with the lord is tough with three littles but a pre bed praise break with the kids gets my focus back on Christ! This is Jude praising as we watch CCM videos on YouTube.


Screen shot of article I scrolled through during my sit down break. This one caught my eye because I’m always wondering if my relentless coffee addiction is ruining my liver! Turns out according to this article which may or may not be a reasonable source, it’s not!!!! What what via le cafe!


Bae makes the kids fly before bed!

Hubs brushes their teeth I nurse the baby, he gets them in their pjs, we pray we sing or goodnight song, and Tuck them in bed.

The Hubs and I go from kissing each other tickling and whispering about the night time events to transpire to being a little bitter at each other because I thought he insulted my cleaning (which by the way I haven’t been doing very well-but hey don’t you dare say something about it lol) he says he wasn’t. We are still a little distant he goes to bed I plop down besides him and nurse to the office a moment of peace and quite in the dark after a busy day

4

My sin is not sexy

After much pondering, denial, and justification I have come to the fundamental understanding that I am LAZY! I even googled it, I wikihow’d the title “How to stop being a slob”

Ok I know you may be laughing now but this is not a joke.You know you are dealing with slothfulness or laziness as a sin when it burdens you. I procrastinate. I dream about accomplishing things I never start. I miss timelines, I am often late.  I know I have a problem. Waking up is the WORST! My I set my alarm 30 mins early I hit snooze a couple of times but somehow I get wrapped into the ultimate time waster-Facebook! Next then you know I have lost 30 mins of prep time.

I am sure right about now you are trying to come up with a way to give me a pass just as I often do. I have been fairly successful. I have completed multiple degrees, I have a family and being in full time ministry I have plenty of reason to need rest. But rest is not the issue….

God has no problem with rest; he often demonstrated it himself as a necessary means of replenishing to ready yourself for Kingdom Work.  Yet Ephesians 5  says do not be unwise! MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME! Why? Because there is there is work to be done! The days are evil and we as Christians are the only salt and light in the world. What a job that is. But yet when there is work to be done how often do we employ ” A little sleep a little slumber a little folding of the hands to rest.” Prov 24: 33
Making the Most of my time… I don’t think that is a biblical mandate to pound the pavement and spread the gospel every second of the day. But I do think it means to live intentionally,  live relationally, and it certainly could not mean that you should spend 25% of y our day on social media and scrolling through the journalistic mayhem of Yahoo front page.
There are times with the cloud of slothfulness lays so heavily on me I become even bored of my laziness. I think…. Hey You! Get up and do something. And even though I may want to get up alas, I go back to wasting time. I push up against deadlines, I am good at what I do, but I hurt myself and others when I so selfishly put things off until the last minuet.
My own procrastination has even caused financial strain when the idea is to just pick up the phone and pay a bill then I get stuck in a Friends marathon and forget the whole thing ever existed.
I write, speak and teach a lot which means that I have tuns of prep and study that I do. My husband is gracious in taking on the kids while I do this. But no lie I have had to say out almost have the night in prep for a class I knew I was teaching at least two months prior. The hubs was livid and I understand. My lack of diligence put the whole family in a bind.
This is sin. Its not pretty, Its not cute, Its not funny, Its not sexy its sinful. A sinfulness that typically rest in self indulgence of all kinds.
Its easy to hide a sin like this because no body ever talks about it. There are no support groups and celebrate recovery groups about the sin of lazy. I have no clue if there is a book on the topic (light bulb!)
I say sloth isn’t a sexy sin not that any sin is sexy, but it’s not popular. It’s not the one people stand up and say yes I have found victory over being a shlub.
Here I am being honest, Its not cool to say have I am naturally lazy but it is cool to seek help seek change and take sin seriously.

2

Oh great another team building thing at work

team-building-580326You know the drill, they call in a consultant and you meet up with your co-workers for bagels and coffee. You throw around colored feeling balls with emojis on them. You do a personality indicator test and your are told that you’re a mole or a rabbit, an lion, a D, I , or L M N O P.  You have a box lunch and you end the day writing a letter to your future self about professional goals.

Most of us have been there with any organization right? Well our number came up yesterday and I was expecting a cookie cutter version of Kumbyya, instead what I received was mind blowing, face melting, awe inspiring collaborative training! I have to remind myself not to judge a book by its cover!  My team had the honor of being trained by a highly talented consulting group (no I am not getting paid for plugging them). J. Spooner Consulting  the same organization that has done team building for NASA’s Orion Mars mission! (How freakin awesome is that I have been trained like an astronaut so that kinda makes me one).

If you are anything like me you have a great experience one day and learn a lot of things and then you forget them all. So I write in order to not forget. I am really writing this for myself but if you’d like to come along with me that’s cool.

Here are some major takeaways I must remember to apply in my personal and professional life I learned at my astronaut training yesterday:

  1. Be a Trust Builder! Relationships in business, ministry and all of life cannot function without trust. Show yourself trustworthy and be willing to take the risk of trusting others. If you are building trust you may have to take a hit but true trust builders can handle it. You continue to extend trust and typically break through to a person once they have let you down and you give them another chance to prove themselves.
  2. Self-Confidence and Self Esteem! These are paramount for collaboration! One’s ability to produce has less to do with what their management thinks of them, and more to do with what they think of themselves. However management can reinforce how one negatively views themselves.
  3. In light of #2 be a confidence and esteem builder! Be careful to not undermine the confidence and esteem of your team members. It is so easy for us to unconsciously cut down one another.
  4. Don’t be Hitler, Be Martin Luther King! You may have heard that both Hitler and Martin Luther King had the same leadership and personality profile in most systems, but what made the difference is their motivation. One focused on self aggrandizement and one focused on the collective building of all people. Motive is key!
  5. 80% of the Work force is underutilized and underdeveloped! People who have been labeled average typically produce average work and never push to the next level. The difference between a sub par worker and an exceptional worker is typically building self esteem, confidence and trust. Almost anyone can be taught skills, but its harder to teach self worth.
  6. Don’t Hold your Cards Close to your Chest! It is counterproductive to work as a team while practicing secrecy and hidden motives. Over communicate your intentions and needs so as to not leave room for misinterpretation. Ask questions and be truthful. If you decide on a plan of action do not hold a secret plan B behind your back because people can smell dishonesty.