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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

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My First Year of Marriage (My Turn for 10 things)

usA candle lit dinner, the scent of rose petals, filet mignon… These are all things that one should think of when they celebrate their wedding anniversary right?

Well, my husband and I celebrated one year of marriage a couple of months ago. Instead of the typical wine and dinning we went to a gun range with smiles on our faces. My husband picked up a couple of shells to give me as a reminder of our special day; I still have them and look at them often. (No this is not a joke, we really did this, also we are not part of a crazy gun militia we just like the sport) That night we got all fancy and I put on heels for the first time after the pregnancy. I proceeded to teeter totter the rest of the night at our local salsa club, we danced the night away to a live band jamming Tito Puente!

You see, we are not a normal couple, so a normal celebration just wouldn’t do… That’s the first lesson I learned in my first year of marriage!

1. Know thyself and allow room to be you!

You should have seen the looks we got when I told my colleagues that we were headed to the gun range; but it meant a lot to us. We are on a strict budget, as many are in their first year, and for just one day we decided to do the fun things we had been putting off. I thought about reserving a table for two at a nice bistro but the truth is, that seemed a bit boring to us. Over the year I have learned to love My Marriage. It is unlike any one else’s and we enjoy different things. It’s much easier to just be you instead of trying to fit into a mold.

2. Men have an inherent finding deficiency. 

I am not sure what was left out of men that inhibits them from finding even ordinary things. His wallet, His socks, His glasses, His phone, pots and pans, you name it! He calls on me to activate my womanly super power locator and… boom just like that it appears in the last place he left it… I tease, finding things for my husband and making sure he starts his day off well makes me feel needed and helpful. He keeps my head on my shoulders in other areas of my life so it is a fair trade.

3. Sex makes babies!

Did I mention my little 5 month old Jude? Well our special little guy was born 9 months and 3 days after our wedding date! And NO there was no flubbing the conception date, my husband and I waited. You learn in school that sperm fertilizes egg but you don’t truly know until it happens to you. I remember talking to my dad soon after we heard the good news. I was in shock! His response to me…. What did you think would happen?! Sex makes babies so don’t forget it folks! 🙂

4. Make love well…..

Since we are on the topic of Sex. Has your mom ever called you up to talk to your about your mojo in the bed? Well mine has!  As awkward as this talk was I am grateful for her sage advice to make love well! Spice it up, do things differently and most importantly do not lay there like a lump on a log which is most women’s signature move.

5. X box can be a good thing

I have more than once attempted to found of the national wives against  X box club. We would host support groups for the millions of women who go to bed with their husband not by their side or even eat dinner while staring at the back of their mates’ head. I have a love hate relationship for My husband’s gaming, it is 60% hate and 40% love, but over the last year My husband and I have learned to work this out. I had to learn to communicate my needs and expectations about his gaming. Marriage changes things, it just does. So there are no more 24 hour marathons for him but I can’t always expect to lounge wherever I want and OD on wedding shows either. We have to make compromises and leave time for each other to do things solo.

6. Forgiving my husband is a part time job.

Before marriage I thought I was good at the whole forgiveness thing; it turns out I had never really had anything that needed to be forgiven! I lived a pretty sheltered life, I had tons of friends a great family and was well liked. The fact is people weren’t mean to me very often. But marriage is a tricky thing, the greater you love someone the more power they have to hurt you, and hurt you they will. So I have been learning that when the bible says forgive 70 X 7 thats a real thing! The amount of forgiveness the Father gives us is endless, so how much more should I be able to forgive my husband. Now this is not a one sided deed I am sure I have hurt him too… I am glad that God’s grace teaches us grace.

7. My husband thinks I am the hottest Women Alive! 

If only years of body image issues could be washed away by an adoring husband! My husband thinks Im gorgeous! I know it because he tells me often, he desires my fiercely and he is proud to have me on his arm. But yet I still don’t like everything I see when I look in the mirror. And since the baby it still looks like an all terrain vehicle rode over my mid section, so its gotten even more difficult to love the skin I’m in. But I have learned this year to accept my husband’s admiration and know that through his eyes I’m the bomb.

8. I know its old fashioned but I love to cook for and serve my husband.

In this post female liberation era, women are taught that traditional gender roles and servitude are bad. But I have found joy and comfort in these things. I love the fact that my husband can’t get enough of my cooking! I like finding new recipes he likes and making him pancakes on saturday mornings. And oftentimes I make his plates and bring it to him. I can hear the gasps now! How dare I serve my husband! Don’t get me wrong I am happy that women are breaking barriers and being empowered but there is something special about pleasing my husband this way and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

9. Celebrate even little ways you put God first.

I am in seminary and everyone seems to think that means that I have piety figured out. The truth is sometimes I go a week without reading my bible, or my prayer life takes a nose dive. My husband and I have tried about 5 different times to start a regular devotion together. We’ve tried scripture cards, phone apps, couple’s devotionals, small group material. I am embarrassed to say that we have NEVER stuck to one. However at the very beginning of the day we huddle up as a family, we put our arms around each other and ask God’s blessing for the day. We pray that we can be a light for Christ in our workplace and that God protects our home! It seems like a small thing but we celebrate it as a daily reminder that God is first in our family.

10. Have Fun Together! 

I am embarrassed to tell you some of the absolutely ridiculous things my husband and I have done together. Some, but not all include: throwing eggs off the balcony, dub step dance parties, TV marathons, climbing trees, and tickle fights.

I have a hard time truly understanding this last year of my life. Even while writing this list I have sweet memories that make me smile, and dark memories that bring up fear. As confusing as this paradox may be, I am committed to enjoy  this journey and never give up. Heres to another year with you love!

 

You can also go visit my husband’s blog and check out his list of things that he posted

http://tinyurl.com/m47vjb6