Sunday, October 23, 2011

Knit in the Womb

I have attended the same church for almost 16 years. The pastor is an amazing man who truly has a heart for Christ and our community. As long as I've known him, he has challenged us to be "Jesus in skin" for those around us, to make a "maximum impact for Christ" and to "do life like Christ." While his messages are always passionate and challenging, today's words were at such a level I felt like I should take my shoes off, because surely we were standing on sacred ground.

A young couple in our congregation found out they were pregnant with their third child this summer. The elation was soon replaced with the heartbreaking news that, while the baby was growing and viable in the womb, it would not live long after birth. After much prayer and (I am sure) heart-wrenching talks, they elected to carry this baby to term instead of having it taken earlier. They are adamant that the life within the mother's womb is a baby who was created "fearfully and wonderfully" (Psalm 139) by a loving God.

The due date is now upon this precious family. On Tuesday, the baby will be delivered and probably only live a short time out of the safety of the womb. Today, our church participated in a baby dedication for this precious little one that we will never meet this side of heaven. The parents stood before the congregation to give testimony to their decision and the grace that God has bestowed upon them during this journey. As our pastor noted, when you are "squeezed by life", you find what comes out of your heart. In their case, what came out was the love of an almighty, all knowing and all powerful God.

After a brief dedication time where the couple was surrounded by family and friends, we were challenged to give to a foundation that builds wells with clean drinking water in Uganda through an organization named Holden Uganda: These wells are named in memory of children, and we were encouraged to donate in honor and memory of this little one who will live briefly on this earth on Tuesday.

While we donated, prayed and hugged this sweet family, a song was sung called "I Will Carry You (Audrey's Song)" by Selah. It was by a sweet blogger I've read for years after she lost her baby in the same way. (You can listen to it here:

At the end of the dedication time, our pastor prayed for those in the congregation who had lost a baby in any way, and who were still feeling the effect of the loss. The number of people who responded to this call was staggering to me because I am sure that my congregation is a typical cross section of any church in the area.

Praying for this sweet family on Tuesday. And thanking God for His grace and mercy on their lives.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Choosing the Good Part

When I lost D, I designed a unique eating plan. It was called the "Put Whatever Tastes Good in Your Mouth" diet. It was wildly successful and caused me to gain 20 solid pounds. (Truth be told, it was a variation of a program I'd already been on for 7 years called "Eat Your Way Through Cancer Stress" diet, when my best friends on many long and lonely nights were sweet and salty.)

About 9 months ago, I had a wake up call when I lost a friend who was my age...which is far too young. I determined that I was going to watch every bite that went into my mouth, because it was time to get serious about a healthy lifestyle. Then, when I began my new job almost 5 months ago, I decided I was going to go to the gym before work every day from 5:00 to 6:00 am. (Please do not misconstrue that as a huge sacrifice: I am a morning person, and that is usually peak time for my energy level.)

The results have been a huge surprise to me. Because I am not very tall, I never really played sports. I didn't know the results of vigorous exercise could be more..well: vigor. Seems totally upside down to me, but all I know is I feel strong, awake and full of energy all day long when I exercise. Guess those endorphins really do kick in.

I've lost those 20 pounds, but realize the number on the scale is no longer the Big Deal. It is more about feeling strong and wanting to feel stronger by kicking it up a notch each day. (Which did result in a pulled back muscle when I "kicked up" too much weight on a machine. Note to self: you will never be a professional body builder. Dial it waaaay back.)

I realize how cushy going to a gym really is. The machines make the workout easier to track with all their bells-and-whistle displays, they all have ports for earbuds to listen to three televisions during a workout, and they shield you from the real world of pounding the hot asphalt during an outside run. (Outside in Texas is very hot most of the time.) But I show up every day, and that is really the victory.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't think I should just skip my workout and go to work early to get more work done. Reality check: the work will never all be done. I am a Type A, slightly OCD, organization freak. The biggest adjustment for me in this new job is realizing IT WILL NEVER GET DONE. Deal with it. And go to the gym every day.

My favorite day to work out is on Saturdays. For some reason, unknown to me, one TV is always set to HGTV on this day. I have found I can stay on the elliptical machine for two shows without feeling like it is too long. (Again: the gym is very good to me.) I looked down at the machine's screen after my hour today and realized I had racked up more "distance" (even though I had not moved) than a 5K. Almost 4 miles, and I was feeling pretty good. Googling local 5Ks today to see what it would be like on the not-so-hot autumn asphalt.

I would love to say that my eating is healthy every day, too. I do eat less, concentrate on fruits and vegetables and avoid the sweets. One major downfall is we have a wonderful lady who cooks hot lunches from scratch at school and HELLO: homemade chicken pot pie! But I do try hard to make wise choices in food selection. Enough so, that when friends hear me say I stopped for fried chicken, they know that my stress level is too high. Thankfully, Popeye's and KFC only see me about once a month.

I am learning that success is not a number on a scale; it is feeling physically strong and disciplined. A lesson learned...five decades in the making.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Life in Bullets...

  • Took Married Daughter and Loyal Son-in-Law to eat peppered bacon and gingerbread pancakes on the way to the airport. They were returning to their new home (in already frosty Wisconsin) after a quick trip home for a beloved grandfather's funeral.

  • Went to the wedding of former elementary school students. Groomsmen, maids of honor and singers were all former students who have grown into strikingly beautiful/handsome and wonderful adults. I was full of The Happy and shed a tear or twenty to prove it.

  • Went to my --th High School Reunion (we were the bicentennial class--you do the math). Somehow I had forgotten that everyone would ask about my family, and I would have to repeat the words "My husband died of cancer" approximately 6 million times. Clearly not the most magical of evenings, but I was accompanied by two precious friends who made sure I did not come or leave alone.

  • Back on the school front, my favorite "principal's office visit" yet: Kindergartner who filled his pockets with rocks at recess and then asked to go to the bathroom. On his little field trip, he deposited the rocks in the potty and flushed see if they would flush. When I asked if his mom would let him do that, he replied, "Not rocks...but I flush a lot of leaves and sticks at home and they work just fine."

  • I have been surprised to hear from people at work, church and states away who have cracked the identity code of thecrowdedwords at the end of my posts. To ensure privacy of others, I am going to have to stop writing about that part of my life. Butitsureisfun.