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My boy wanted a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Birthday Party. Now, if you know me, you know I am not a fan of big birthday parties :) I like to keep things simple. Partly because I am not crafty and second because I am cheap.

I started by perusing Pinterest for ideas. After about 10 minutes I thought "I need a ghetto Pinterest" like a Pinterest for moms who don't really want to go all out.  Moms who don't have time to make glitter lame costumes for 9, already too spoiled, kids.  LOL

But seriously, I thought that.

So here is my "low ball" of a party which was perfectly over the top for me.  It was a hit.  It was easy. I was able to plan it in less than 2 weeks all with a little help from my friends. 

Decorations:

Plates for the kids only, and covered a box of straws with wrapping paper

Most expensive decoration was a poster from Target.

I also had this pack of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Swirl decorations. Which IMO was a great purchase because they were cheap, and added punch! Did I mention they were cheap? I somehow didn't get a good pic but here you go
The hangy swirly things



Here is where I went all out...lol but really it was super easy for me.  You may have time to do this yourself...I didn't so I bought them from Etsy :) Don't tell. 
 
I bought the water resistant labels at Office Max (on sale 2 for $20) but you could totally print them on paper and cover with packing tape to protect them.  I went for easy and not cheap on this one.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/175369497/tmnt-water-bottle-label-for-ninja?ref=listing-1

I was impressed with the quality of the work.  However communications broke down at the end when I was trying to change the size to match the labels--but that is my fault for doing it last minute!!! I was doing it on the weekend and I am sure they weren't working. 

iVentureParty also did the cupcake decorations to match the water bottle labels.  (they can do just about any kind of party just fyi)  I just needed cardstock to print them on. Skewers and tape to affix them. Then stuck them in premade cupcakes from Sam's Club.  I didn't even special order-but these were perfect!

I kept the food simple

PIZZA party is a duh for a Ninja Turtle Party
stolen pic downloaded from the internet

Sewer Lids lol
Alternative and possible for my dairy free granddaughter to have a treat

Fruit

Salad for Weight Watchers like me


Games and activities:



Tattoos-so easy and cheap

I wanted to create a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Training Activity where the children were transformed into ninja turtles! I got the idea here: Life is About Using the Whole Box of Crayons
However, I really did my own thing.

I had them roll through "mutagen ooze" (roll on green table cloth) and get sprayed with "mutagen slime" (silly string)
Then sling "sewer lids" (pie pans 3 for $1 at Dollar Tree) int the NYC man hole ($1 oil pan from The Dollar Tree)

Stolen pic from the internet glued to pie pan

Here is where the Pizza Man go there and I forgot to ask someone else to take pics and MISSED EVERYTHING

They had to Sword Fight (used my adult volunteers {technically they were voluntolds} to help train the ninjas)

Then battle with nun-chucks (managed a pic)




 Then they got their mask and shell
There were more kids than this invited but a few were freaked out
by the activities and one family was late 

The masks were my big splurge! I wouldn't normally spend a lot but I looked at this as my gift. 

The person that made then was AWESOME to me!  I am grateful for how quickly she got them to me!

HIGHLY RECOMMEND

Here is the link to the MASKS I purchased.

Some of you crafty folks with time and creativity could make something easily I am sure.

All my supplies
see the baby turtle shells :)
The shells:
to do 9 large shells and 5 baby shells it took
The pans (all from the Dollar Tree)
2 cans of green spray paint
Burlap ribbon (from Hobby Lobby) about 1.5 yard per big kid 1 yard per babe

Thank God I started on the shells early--I spray painted one day. It took several coats with dry time in between.  So give yourself a day on this alone.

Then I took an knife (exacto) and cut a slit (very easy to do) for the ribbon to slide through

I have been dealing with a lot making the party planning difficult.  So thank God for freinds and family that came to help. Cutting cupcake things, sticking labels, finishing the shells.  They were LIFESAVERS!


OVERALL it was a HUGE success!
Nonni & Declan
I bought Declan a TMNT shirt from Wal-Mart. I also bought me a plain green T-shirt from Target to go with the theme.

Happy 5th Birthday Declan! We love you! 
For years I had this verse on my microwave...only taken down because it was worn out, corners curling, finger prints with food from where I just had to touch it, soak it in, wrinkled from much love...
This could be me speaking...it's not...but if you were to talk to me--this is what I'd say:

Interview with Sarah Bessey: In which these are the unforced rhythms of grace

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”   Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

On second thought: Though I'd probably say something silly or sarcastic at the end... she is and INFJ and I am an ENFJ...if you don't know what that means...it really doesn't matter.
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Is this Jenni?

"This is grandpa. Patricia isn't doing well; she is in the hospital and I am not sure how much longer I am going to be here?"

This is one way to start your morning that I would NOT recommend. 

I am so conflicted. 

Now this isn't the first call like this...so it's hard to know the true gravity of the situation.  He sounded bad though. 

He wants me to come get the things he wants left to me and my family. 

One positive is that his wife, my step-grandmother,  won't be there. I know, that's horrible to say.  However, I can be nothing but honest when I say "that is a difficult relationship."  I love her. I really do. I have learned a lot about grace and mercy and forgiveness in our relationship...but that doesn't mean I want to hang out with her.

How do you do that? How do you go and take things from the living knowing they are dying.

Are there things I want? Sure. More than any thing I want a RIGHT relationship with my grandfather. I want to hear stories again...I want to sit in the shade and listen to military stories...stories of my grandmother, and his youth, and his life, joys struggles, and pain. 

April 2013
His granddaughter with her granddaughter.
I truly feel like the worst granddaughter in the world.  How has it been over a year since he has seen his greatgrandaughter?

I am sad. Conflicted.
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"Do I have a mother like what's in that song what we singed at school?"

"What's a mother?"

They were questions out of nowhere, questions I wasn't exactly sure how to answer.  I bumbled out something like "mother is another name for your mommy, mother is also something people do that love you...like Nonni (me) mother's you. Takes care of..nurture...love, like how your mommy loves you too."

I had to know about this song...what in the world was in the song? So, I called his school.

"Tell me about the song about mothers, Declan has some questions and I don't know what he's talking about"

The director of the school sang the song for me and I began to cry...it was emotional to know that the questions were starting already. I knew it would happen, I just wasn't ready for this this soon.

Here are a few lines "What's the nicest thing about your mother?  She cooks and she sews and she washes all my clothes...She bakes cookies just for me and she helps me climb a tree..."

No wonder he was confused, I don't bake, sew or help him climb trees ;) LOL

Then the end said "what's the nicest thing, the very nicest thing... is that she's always there!"  (tears)

I wept with the director on the phone. I asked that she ask the teacher to help the class to know that some people have other people, like grandparents, or other family member that take care of them.  I don't want him to feel like his "family" is wrong.

Declan has a mother. He also has someone that mothers him. He also has grandmothers, neighbors, teachers, and friends who will mother him.      

I feel one of the greatest sacrifices a mother can make is to allow someone else to raise their child.  His mother loves him so much, sacrificially in fact.

Mother's Day has got to be tough for her.  Pray for her, please.

Mother's Day is tough on a lot of people.

Pray for all the moms that made the sacrifice of adoption...and those trying to earn their place back through the foster care system and those that have lost that right.

Pray for those mothering the ones without mothers, step moms, foster moms, aunts, grandmoms and single dads.

Teach your children that there are all sort of families, and there isn't anything "wrong" with someone who is being mothered by someone else.  Teach them to extend mercy not judgement in situations they don't understand.

Pray for those who have lost their mother. Death, illness, separation.

And lastly I think about those who desire to be mothers...and for whatever reason...aren't. Pray for them. That is a very painful situation that makes this holiday extra tough.

Declan and his mother Jan 2014
*picture chosen to protect privacy

Declan & me (Nonni) Feb 2014

This was a card my daughter gave me when she was about 18...I loved the sentiment! It sums up how I feel about Mothers!



I had all kinds of MOTHERS... the beauty of their lives, drives me to live my life beautifully! click the link to go to a blog about them.

I pray that as Declan grows, he will see the beauty in the lives of ALL the different women who love him; appreciate all the different ways he's been mothered and know he is a better man because of it!


***BONUS*** Here he is singing the song!

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Over the years I have written many blogs about the joys and difficulties raising my son.

I tell you we just went through a really tough week in our household.  It was one of the most painful things we have ever had to do. Necessary, but hard.  I truly don't know what the future holds...but right now I am relieved and hopeful. As a woman you think through the 99 possible worst case scenarios. Happy to say, none of them came true (yet).

I want to write this because I am feeling strongly convicted to share my struggle.  Mostly because I had bought a lie. I want to dispel the rumors and give hope.

See, I was not raised in a Christian home. I always felt I had a relationship with God, but as a teenager I accepted Him in a traditional churchy sense and walked an aisle and was baptized in the Atlantic Ocean. It was a church youth camp and when I went home from that camp literally nothing about my life changed. I went on the get pregnant as a teenager, enter bars with a fake ID and get pregnant out of wedlock again. I eventually married and our marriage was tumultuous at first. Now here's the thing: I still felt like I had a relationship with God through all those times. A literal, palpable relationship where I felt like He showed me things. Was I following His ways, no.  Did I love God, yes. I wanted God, but didn't know how to be a follower.

Fast forward...God RADICALLY changed my marriage. He changed me. It was crazy I tell you. 

So my son was very young when the change happened. He was too young to remember any of the bad; though he grew up hearing about it because we are very open with our kids about our life.  Our son was in preschool sunday school, children's church, Kids ROCK, youth ministry, started his own ministry, and then was in the worship band.  He is your basic church kid.

So why all the background? Well, to set the stage.

The lie I bought was believing that if you raised your kids in church they would grow up to be mature Christians.

Sometimes does that happen...yes.  I read mothers share about their devoted children and I sigh and think... what if.

Will it happen with my son? I believe so...just not yet.  Scripture promises Train them in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it.  I think I believed old, old like not a kid, I think it's OLD. lol  Would I want my son to be a 100% devoted follower, of course, but THEN I would miss getting to walk out this true, authentic, beautiful, painful process with my son. It's as much a process for me as it is for him.

My son has basically bucked all the values we have raised him to have.  I am shocked at how well I have taken it.  I mean at first I thought I was going to die. Weeped and sobbed. Then I realized it was Godship for me to try and control my son. He was about 16 at the time. (side note-you can click the "Son" label on the side to see past posts)

He is now 19, soon-to-be 20...and he has done many things. He feels like he is the worst son, which breaks my heart. He says, I am not like your perfect daughter. (oh he doesn't know) What I do know, he will understand it more clearly when he's older. We do not see him the way he sees himself.

As I share, please know I am sharing to empower and give hope to other parents. I am NOT knocking what my son is going through. I absolutely believe it to be part of the process.

I haven't shared with many people what I have been going through because I believe they look at situations through the same distorted lenses I once viewed life through.  I do not want people to judge him for what he's going through. I don't want the pity. Ridiculous.

See the more I think about it...the great men of God, David, Paul, Peter, to name a few...were not model citizens. lol

I mean really think about it.

My son has a calling on his life. We all do.  Living the nice little Christian life we have lived has not driven my son to have a need for God. I believe that God has a plan.

As hard as it is to warn, teach, talk through, share experience and then watch you son do the VERY thing you told him not to do is...he will learn the lessons on his own. The hard way.

God needs all kinds of people for His kingdom. I am thankful for the hope that Christ has given me regarding my son.

I am thankful to have the past I have, it's easy to look where he is and understand.

We are trying to live grace for him. Show mercy. Be an example of patience and love. We are taking this opportunity to be the gospel to him.

I can't just say "he should know better" because I know better and still fail God on the regular.

This is SO much more about me, and my response to him...than about getting him to act in acceptable ways.  I can't change him. Can NOT!

He has holes, hurts, and heartache. He doesn't know how to move forward and feel stuck. He feels rejected and abandoned. He has so much anger it is ridiculous. 

I HIGHLY recommend reading the following article: 12 Ways to Love Your Wayward Child

Excerpt-

5. Welcome them home.

Because the deepest concern is not your child’s actions, but his heart, don’t create too many requirements for coming home. If he has any inkling to be with you, it is God giving you a chance to love him back to Jesus. Obviously there are some instances in which parents must give ultimatums: “Don’t come to this house if you are...” But these will be rare. Don’t lessen the likelihood of an opportunity to be with your child by too many rules.
If your daughter smells like weed or an ashtray, spray her jacket with Febreze and change the sheets when she leaves, but let her come home. If you find out she’s pregnant, then buy her folic acid, take her to her twenty-week ultrasound, protect her from Planned Parenthood, and by all means let her come home. If your son is broke because he spent all the money you lent him on loose women and ritzy liquor, then forgive his debt as you’ve been forgiven, don’t give him any more money, and let him come home. If he hasn’t been around for a week and a half because he’s been staying at his girlfriend’s—or boyfriend’s—apartment, plead with him not to go back, and let him come home.

This is in no way a deep theological blog. It's just thoughts (the ones I have time to write) from a struggling mom. 

Mostly I want my son to be able to look back and know we loved him through his struggle with life. We trusted God more than ourselves. We love every thing about our son because it shows us how to love ourselves. We really do love him. Every thing we do, is for love.

Pray for us.
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Sometimes when you say the least it is when you have the most going on.

I hate that I haven't blogged more. I would really like to look back and see how far I've come.  However, I can't.

There is a lot going on in my family. Quite frankly, it's private. However, I want to jot down a few thoughts before they escape me.

1. God is in control.
2. I am trusting God.
3. I trust life to make it abundantly clear the path that should be chosen.
4. I look into the future and imagine worst case scenarios, I need to stop.
5. One day at a time.
6. Grief sucks.
7. Worship is life.
8. Repentance is necessary .
9. Redemption is real.
10. Love covers a multitude of sins.


Something I am focusing on for myself:

If you are a Christian and you are dealing with enslaving habits, it's not enough to say, "Bad Christian, stop it." And it is not enough to beat yourself up or merely try harder and harder and harder.

The real reason that you're having a problem with an enslaving habit is because you are not tasting God. I'm not talking about believing God or even obeying God, I'm saying tastingtasting God.

The secret to freedom from enslaving patterns of sin is worship. You need worship. You need great worship. You need weeping worship. You need glorious worship. You need to sense God’s greatness and to be moved by it — moved to tears and moved to laughter — moved by who God is and what he has done for you. And this needs to be happening all the time.

This type of worship is the only thing that can replace the little if only fire burning in your heart. We need a new fire that says, “If only I saw the Lord. If only he was close to my heart. If only I could feel him to be as great as I know him to be. If only I could taste his grace as sweet as I know it to be.”

And when that if only fire is burning in your heart, then you are free.~~TIM KELLER

More can be found here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/fighting-sin-with-worship

Thinking about WORSHIP makes me think of my son, I love when he leads me in worship---someday again soon I pray.




)
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This year all I wanted was TIME!

Time with my entire family under the same roof.
One-on-one time with my son.
Time with individuals I love.
Time is flying and I am thankful for each and everyday!
Things you may fail to appreciate:
1. I got every member of my family in one or more photos at a family function.
2. I believe Chris was fake-picking his nose in the photobomb. My head ruins it.
3. Can you find Chris?
4. My grandkids (of which I count Declan as well) are the freaking cutest kids ever!
5. Even blurry photos are awesome when they are of people you love.
6. My life is good.
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I was asked to guest post for Sweet Tea, Sunshine and Serendipity's blog.  They are doing a series this month called Love in Words.  Head over there and check them out.  It is really neat to read all the different love stories.  They are doing a giveaway, so you definitely want to see what that's all about.

I was humbled and honored to participate. I spent yesterday, when "A Greater Love Story" premiered, blubbering as I got responses from women in all walks of life that identified and were grateful for our love story.
_______________

Oh! Who doesn't love a good love story?

When I think about my love story I can't help but compare it to some romantic comedy's out there and think: no way would anyone think it's worthy of their time.  lol

No one would watch a movie about an underage teen mother, in a bar, who falls in love with a bartender and they live unhappily, happily ever after. Makes me laugh.

The truth is, my story is worthy.  It's a story of redeeming love. A story of a couple of lost and wayward souls who find each other, create a family and fall in love with God and fall in love over and over and over again.  Our God gets bigger and closer with each tragedy faced. He triumphantly blesses us when we should be flat on our face!


It's difficult to know where to start and how much to share. I have been married almost 20 years. Together 22. Most people want to know the looooove part. The love parts, are different depending on perspective.  Yes, I could tell you about the first time Trent told me he loved me and I told him he was just drunk.  The next morning he assured me, he wasn't too drunk to know he loved me. I could tell you about the proposal.  While on a dinner date I announced I was pregnant and he said "Well, I guess we will get married." yeah, not so warm and fuzzy. We look back on those times and laugh now.

I absolutely can say that I didn't know what true love was when I got married. I thought I knew; I was 21 and knew everything. We married and played house and it was fun at first. Then it wasn't fun at all.  It was hard. We had kid issues, money issues, issue issues and divorce was likely and threatened regularly.   It was not pretty.  We tried church hoping it would fix us. It didn't. It actually made us feel worse.  So much happened in that few years that nearly ruined us.  The amazing thing was, looking back, I can see a Savior. I can see how events were orchestrated to SAVE us.  Save our marriage, and give hope, not only to us, but to the many who would hear our story.  You can read our VOWS here and see how God used His people and His church.  Church went from being where we'd go to being who we were. 

I got a text this week with a friend asking for prayer because she was getting ready to go on a date to work on their marriage because their love had grown distant. I immediately had to call her.  I had been there done that (many times).  It wasn't pretty and I wanted to warn her.  "Listen, when you go on this date-it may not be romantic-it may be hard-and you may fight more than you ever have-fight...-then DO IT AGAIN because your marriage is worth fighting for!"  You see, I know that marriage is hard work.  I wanted her to know that it is not unusual to fight, especially when you've both been silent for a long time. I wanted her to know she isn't alone. Often we think everyone's marriage's are fine and ours is the only screwed up one. This is not TRUE! They are all a little screwed up-at least the ones of people I love.

I was grateful for that text and that time of conversation and even more grateful for my love story.  You know the saying "It takes a village to raise a child"...well  it takes a village to survive in marriage.  You have to know and be known. You have to bring the hurt out into the light.  I tell you the truth I would not be married today were it not for the people who loved, and hurt, right along side of us.  Helping us weather the storm.  


I want to say don't judge a love story by how pretty it looks from the outside. When I look back on who I was 20 years ago I can't believe my-then-to-be-mother-in-law didn't run me off with a gun. She likely wanted to.  Though she's never been anything but gracious to me.  You don't know what the future holds. I will tell you this though, if you are not prepared to extend a TON OF GRACE and mercy to yourself and your spouse then you have a tough road ahead.


Our love story has infatuation. Laughter. Silliness.  Death, life and renewal. Our love story has tales of heartbreak, hard times, and heroics. There are times of family picnics in the square.  Times where we couldn't stand the sight of one another.  There are times of silence. Separateness.  A marriage of mission.  Sweet looks where I know he loves me. There are times that I would like to just go back and say to myself "it's going to be alright" and warn myself "it's about to get worse."  You know what though, I wouldn't trade a moment. Okay, maybe the moment where my husband puked on people and blamed it on me.  Nah! Even that moment!  I'll take it. It has made for a beautiful love story. 

This looks like a whole lot of love:

2012
When I think about our love story, I could have NEVER imagined it would turn out like this.  Dancing in a bar, with shorts that showed my cheeks, wearing boots and a cowboy hat I wanted someone to sweep me off my feet.  I use to say "I am not that girl anymore" but the truth is I am.  I may have the sense now to cover myself, but I still want to be swept off my feet.  Now, I have learned that I must look for those things that my husband does that only he can do because he KNOWS me: THAT'S LOVE!  

You see my perspective on looooooove has changed. When you are skinny, get fat, get skinny, get fat again and all you ever hear is how beautiful you are-that's love. When you awake nearly every morning to a warm cup of coffee prepared just how you like it-that's love. You see, when your beloved sees you at your worst and you confess to him how you've wronged him and he takes that sin upon himself-that's love

My love story turned into GREATER LOVE story.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
John 15:13 in context

Photography by J. Halstead Photography
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I promise I am trying to make time to write! In the meantime--READ THIS

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/01/how-to-get-through-the-dark-places-thejesusproject-2/
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Yesterday. While sitting and enjoying my morning coffee I had a precious little 4yo soaking up some early morning cuddles on my lap.  All of the sudden, the handle on my coffee mug broke and the coffee spilled ALL over.  The preschooler was covered, I was covered and so was my phone.   

I went and took a second shower, used a towel to swab up the mess, took my clothes, though I had half a mind to try and wring the coffee out of them, and threw it al in the wash.  

I went and posted this to facebook:

Hope this isn't an indication of the direction of my day. Coffee handle broke spilling an entire hot cup in my lap.

Now I am not a superstitious person.  I trust the Almighty God.  However, I must admit it creeped into my head.  


See last night I heard from the preschoolers mother.  If you are unaware, I foster a relative of mine and have for 2.5 years.  The mother has had all different levels of contact but for the last year it has been spotty at best.  She has been through a lot and I am sure she IS going through a lot.  

So, as I was trying to drift off.  I as thinking "what if" 
what if the coffee spilling on us was a sign
what if she is going to try to take him back

Now here is where I cry.  This is NO easy thing to explain. I probably won't do the explaining here anyway.  

You see there is a lot I don't know about the future of us and this little boy. People ask me all the time and I can't give them an answer.  See, I want restoration.  I want his mother and father to be healed, healthy, stable and ready to raise this precious little man.  I feel that will not be an easy thing.  

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I sit. Desiring to help. All I get in return is grief.

Great grief that is heaped on a woman's soul as she watches her son verbally flip her off.  It's worse than when he was 10 and actually flipped me off.  He thought my back was turned.  Oh he ran from me for his life fearing death was eminent. What came was the loss of everything he had in his room including blankets.  Every privileged, every perk of being a kid, GONE! I would have thought lessons over the years would train the disrespect out of him. It's almost as if as he grows, it's worse.

NOW, the verbal disrespect is gut-wrenchingly painful.Often there are curse words. I feel helpless.

I picture God. I do the same thing to him. So I am patient with my son. There are times though, like tonight, where I must weep.  He breaks my heart.  I know he was raised better. I know he knows better. I know he will be sorry. 






http://rawforbeauty.com/blog/grab-a-plate-and-throw-it-on-the-ground-okay-done-did-it-break-yes-now-say-sorry-to-it-sorry-did-it-go-back-to-the-way-it-was-before-no-do-you-understand.html

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This made me cry: HERE


  • This is for my friends who are not on Facebook. 

  • 1.      Growing up I wanted to be an airline stewardess. My grandmother made me “practice my job”  walking straight lines; only in adulthood do I appreciate how hilarious this is.

    2.      She also told me I was likely going to be too short. Remember back in the day there were “restrictions and discrimination” based on body type? This was also the reason I couldn’t do my back up job: Rockette

    3.      I once peed my pants in the back of Jennifer Richardson’s, brother Beau’s car. Don’t worry, I didn’t get it on the seat. I was a full-fledge adult-mom of teenage girls. How awesome to have girls that make you laugh till you pee your pants in a friend’s car.

    4.      I am an only child of a single parent.

    5.      When questioned at Blockbuster about authorized people on my account-I told them my mother was deceased. The cashier asked “She’s at sea?” and it’s now a joke in our family.

    6.      I don’t want to be buried. I do not want people to “visit” me, put flowers on a grave, feel guilt about NOT visiting me…I am dead.  I guess they can put me to “sea.”

    7.      I may have some unresolved issues about death. Bwahahah (I am imagining the people I have offended by my humor. I apologize)

    8.      I never thought I would get married. I didn’t see the point.

    9.      I am glad that my perspective on #10 changed. Though at the time of marrying, I didn’t think it would last. It nearly didn’t; I am glad Christ intervened; we celebrate 20 years next June.

    10.   I use to be offended when people said grandkids were better than kids. Now I know they are right.

    11.   I was 15 when I gave birth to my daughter. This is one of the facts about my life that truly astonishes me. Especially in the presence of other 15 year olds.

    12.   I do not “know” my left from my right.  I mean, I KNOW it…I just have to have a second to think about it. I attribute it to anxiety. Anything I have to know on the spot-I am struck dumb. Don’t even start with multiplication tables.

    13.   Wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men make me inexplicably happy.

    14.   I could eat a bag of Cheetos Puffs by myself.

    15.   I struggle with religion.

    16.   I am often redundantly redundant. (Just ask my son, he will confirm I say things too many times that didn’t need to be said in the first place)

    17.   I have traveled around the country, one summer, on a school bus, seeing historical and geological wonders. I was a teen so I didn’t know what a big deal it was. It was a HUGE deal. I have flown in a plane over the Grand Canyon! Seen Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful, and the Liberty Bell. Stood on the battlefield of Gettysburg. Fought giant ants in Texas. Also about a million more things. It’s truly astounding and I WISH I could have taken my kids on a trip like that.

    18.   I shop by touch. I care more about how things feel than how they look.

    19.   I wish I had known how good I had it when I was a younger so I would have been more appreciative instead being of an entitled little brat.

    20.   This was very therapeutic. Thank you random Facebook game creator.

    21.   The things I don’t like about myself are more upsetting when I see them come out of my children because I know the lifetime of issues they are going to have thanks to me.

    22.   Some of the things I’ve done “because of religion” are more upsetting to me than things I did when I did not live for God. I think God totally agrees with me.

    23.   Before staying home, I worked with children and adult with disabilities increasing their independence using assistive/adaptive technology. It was such a cool job! I miss it. However, I would never trade the opportunity to be home with my kids.

    24.    I have always wanted a tattoo.  Good thing I didn’t get it, because I have changed what I want and where. 
    25.   I am an open book. Have a question ask, but prepare for the REAL answer. Sometimes I fear I make people uncomfortable with how comfortable I am with sharing my life. It’s a life given to me by God, why wouldn't I want to tell HIS story.

    The last 5 things were ONLY posted on my blog. You guys are special!
  • It's starting.

    The excitement about Missional Halloween.  Much different than years ago where dread would creep over me about how we deal with avoiding the holiday, answering questions about why we don't participate. Sweet little waitresses saying "why aren't you dressed up and trick-or-treating?" ugh.

    If you are wondering how I got here: CHECK THIS POST OUT
    Or this one: HERE

    While I don't regret that season of life, it taught me a lot about being set apart.
    I am thankful for this new season of IN not OF.

    I still agree that Halloween is rooted and still associated with evils. It's foundations are pagan. My research tells me so is Easter and Christmas and I am not stopping those holidays (though we celebrate them a little different.)
    On Halloween; we serve our neighbors.  We spend our evenning taking pictures, delivering them, chatting with passers by and then awarding a lucky family a basket of treats.   
    Last year I didn't post so here are a few pics

    D 2012

    Son & Baby Grand 2012

    People lined up at the pumpkins. 
    I needed them LIT-so enter the Jack-o-lantern
    a little more halloweeny than I like
    It served it's purpose

    New this year, I used a tripod.
    When it is dark outside it is impossible to see in the view finder

    What it looks like from the road



    Here is what I LOVE!  Seeing our neighborhood kids through the years! (blocked faces for privacy)

    2009 baby sister was too little to be in the pic

    2010 with a little sister now

    2011 Getting bigger

    2012 So big!

    Look how our backgrounds changed.  LOL

    We are officially known as "Aren't you guys the ones that take pictures on Halloween?" Yep, that's us. Man, I hope to be known for more than that. I hope they know us by our love.

    Comments: (0)
    I just spent the morning writing a blog post I will never publish.

    Suffice it to say: Raising another person's child is a sacrifice and a privilege.The struggle dealing with other family members (or lack there of) is real, hard, and daunting.

    But HE is worth it!

    Comments: (0)


    He shared a deeply convicting, fictional story from Elisabeth Elliot taken from her book These Strange Ashes:

    One day Jesus said to his disciples: “I’d like you to carry a stone for me.” He didn’t give any explanation. So the disciples looked around for a stone to carry, and Peter, being the practical sort, sought out the smallest stone he could possibly find. After all, Jesus didn’t give any regulation for weight and size! So he put it in his pocket. Jesus then said: “Follow Me.” He led them on a journey. About noontime Jesus had everyone sit down. He waved his hands and all the stones turned to bread. He said, “Now it’s time for lunch.” In a few seconds, Peter’s lunch was over. When lunch was done Jesus told them to stand up. He said again, “I’d like you to carry a stone for me.” This time Peter said, “Aha! Now I get it!” So he looked around and saw a small boulder. He hoisted it on his back and it was painful, it made him stagger. But he said, “I can’t wait for supper.” Jesus then said: “Follow Me.” He led them on a journey, with Peter barely being able to keep up. Around supper time Jesus led them to the side of a river. He said, “Now everyone throw your stones into the water.” They did. Then he said, “Follow Me,” and began to walk. Peter and the others looked at him dumbfounded. Jesus sighed and said, “Don’t you remember what I asked you to do? Who were you carrying the stone for?”

    I had to make my husband stop so I could cry and weep for my soul and my selfish stone carrying.


    Reference:
    We were reading PRODIGAL GOD by Timothy Keller; I had written this blog several months ago and somehow never finished writing or publishing. Probably because I had more to say. Since I never said it; I decided to publish as is. 

    Image stolen borrowed from: Here

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    Okay, okay...I know that doesn't sound like me being positive, but I am trying.

    I think it is important to know the signs of stroke. I had no idea I was having a stroke, my family suspected but we did not act fast.


    The timeline follows:
    2008-Oct 26 Stroke
    2009
    2010
    2011-Oct 8 possible TIA, probable stroke, left with permanent effects
    2012
    2013
    I guess since I am a pattern girl I should worry more next year.

    lol

    Truth is I don't fear another stroke. I expect it. I trust God fully and completely so I do not fear.  Maybe it is just my way of preparing for the worst, hoping for the best...but it works for me.

    Because it is October, STROKE is brought to the forefront of my mind. I go back and read the blogs I have written. I rejoice in my life. I AM ALIVE!

    However, I will never forget. I will never forget that I could suffer greater permanent damage. I will never forget that I could die. Poof be gone.I will never forget that God spared my life and gave me a better one than I could have expected.

    There is something about facing a life and death situation that gives you a greater respect for life.

    For myself mainly (because blogger puts everything in backwards date order) I am going to list my blog in order.

    These tell the stories:
    5/8/2009 National Stroke Awareness Month
    10/28/2009 The HEART of it
    10/7/2011 Near Death
    10/12/2011 Seek Emergency Medical Attention & LACK of Emergency Medical Attention

    Reflection Oct 2012: Death, Stroke, and Blessings After

    Updates to my condition (aka boring):
    10/19/2011 Not Just a Headache
    11/14/2011 So It Cycles
    12/9/2011 Health Update (though it isn't much of an update)
    6/6/2012 Health Update
    9/24/12 30 Days of Juicing  & Before & After 
    3/19/2013 Reality

    What happens when I don't take my meds:
    2/9/2013 What's In a Name   Hemiplegic Migraine

    Well, if you held on to the end and read at least one blog...thank you. If you read them all, I'm sorry. ;)

    If you have any questions, ASK!

    For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
    Luke 9:24
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    My Grands




    Comments: (2)
    I have truly come to believe I live in some altered state of reality.

    I guess what it is: I have a *new reality*

    I can't believe I have a medicine container like an old person that separates my Rx to am/pm and contains a mass of pills for each day. I am diligent about my medication after February's event. I feel it helping and that means the world.

    I can't believe I have had to join support groups to deal with the reality that I am chronically ill.  I am EVER thankful that they exist.  Seriously, to not fight alone and to have others "get it" has helped immensely.

    I can't believe I wear a Medic Alert bracelet.  The thought of something happening when no one is with me terrifies me. This bracelet has a number that can be called and they will notify medical persons of my health, medications and contact my emergency contacts.



    I carry my diagnosis with me to explain it to those in the medical community that are unaware of Hemiplegic Migraine. You would NOT believe the stories and lack of understanding of this disability.

    I plan my day around MY nap. Yes, the toddler naps (so I blame it on him to most people) but reality is it's ME that has to nap. Not wants to, not because I am lazy, not because it would be nice if...no I full on pass out dead to the world.  From research I have come to learn that since my left side is weaker my brain works twice as hard to make me function normally.

    Most of the people "IN' my life have NO idea what I deal with on a daily, weekly basis to TRY and stay well.  It really requires too much effort to explain it to them anyway.  I did find a story, shared in a support group, that does a pretty good job: The Spoon Theory While I do not have Lupus, this is very much how I have to balance life.

    I wrote this more of an update for ME to remember.  In case you have come searching for help...here you go:

    Support Groups:
    Livingwithhm.com

    Facebook:
    HMers R Us Worldwide.. Hemiplegic Migraine

    I am fresh out of my 3 year old's room.

    We just did bedtime routine: clean up, story time, "What are you thankful for?" and prayers.

    During the thankful time we had the most unbelievable conversation, as it was happening I knew it was remarkable, I was so upset that I couldn't turn my camera on and record him for "proof" but my memory was full. 

    I am going to try to write it down as clearly as I remember.  I assure you it is close. It is unbelievable even to me that I had this conversation with my three year old, but I did.

    D: (touching my shirt) What does dat say?
    Me: Both ends burning
    D: What does dat mean?
    Me: Well, it's about a movie that is helping make sure kids that don't have a home can have one. (very simplified explanation)
    D: (wide eyes) They don't have a home?
    Me: No, not every child has a home. They need a family.
    D: I hab a famiwee
    Me: You do. Not every kid does though. 
    D: Dat makes me really sad. It makes me feel wike... (tears welling) I am gonna cry
    Me: (tears welling about to BURST) (Prayer) Don't worry. God will take care of the children.  See buddy, God purposes in people's heart the right thing to do. Then people are obedient to that feeling and act to make sure the children get a home. Make sure they have a family. (all the while knowing that it isn't that easy--but worth seeing relief on the 3yo face)

    D: (with a sense of power) We hab to change dis world! Wets change it. I'm gonna be Spider Man and go off and fight the bad guys and make sure kids hab a home and then (higher pitch) I will fwhy back to my home.
    Me:(astounded)

    We finished routine and had an extra special prayer time. I am so thankful for this little man teaching me about changing the world.

    I walked out of the room after prayer and BURST into tears.

    A three year old "gets it" why can't the world?"

    Our hero


    Please check out BOTH ENDS BURNING
    As well as the STUCK Documentary. HERE
    The Movie Premier is touring the country and I saw it last night and it was AMAZING!
    Comments: (0)

    Have you ever been just playing music in the background and then lyrics JUMP out at you?

    Well, it happend today.

    If I saw You on the street and You said come and follow me;
    But I had to give up everything; all I once held dear and all of my dreams...
    Would I love You enough to let go?
    Or would my love run dry when You asked for my life.
    I, honestly, don't know how I WOULD answer that question. I know how I should. There is a difference.

    Pondering. Reflecting.



    Here is the song: You Can Have Me by Sidewalk Prophets


    If I saw You on the street
    And You said come and follow me
    But I had to give up everything
    All I once held dear and all of my dreams

    Would I love You enough to let go
    Or would my love run dry
    When You asked for my life

    When did love become unmoving?
    When did love become unconsuming?
    Forgetting what the world has told me

    Father of love, You can have me
    You can have me
    If You’re all You claim to be
    Then I’m not losing anything
    So I will crawl upon my knees
    Just to know the joy of suffering

    I will love You enough to let go
    Lord, I give you my life
    I give you my life

    When did love become unmoving?
    When did love become unconsuming?
    Forgetting what the world has told me

    Father of love, You can have me
    You can have me
    I want to be where You are
    I’m running into Your arms
    And I will never look back
    So Jesus, here is my heart

    When did love become unmoving?
    When did love become unconsuming?
    Forgetting what the world has told me
    Father of love, You can have me
    You can have me

    When did love become unmoving?
    When did love become unconsuming?
    Forgetting what the world has told me
    Father of love, You can have me
    My Father, my love
    You can have me
    This post is long, and written mostly to document, for myself, the events in the last week.  Feel free to skim

    Last Friday, February 1st, I had the "trippiest" migraine aura. It was a beautiful moment in time, actually, and I hadn't had such a crazy beautiful cacophony of experiences in a long time and actually took a photo to remember the moment.


    See it's good I took a picture, because guess what, it was WEDNESDAY, January 30th . Around 2pm.

    If you are unfamiliar with aura, it is visual symptoms that generally indicate that a migraine is on the way.  Though not always. This particular day, the sun was warm, the wind was cool, and the sky was beautiful. I was laying on the back patio trying to get some sun to help with my depression. I was looking at the sky and noticed that a little shell shaped "thing" was flitting around in my vision, I started to see spots, (in my head I knew this was aura, which confused me because I had already had my monthly cycle which my migraine typically precedes) Well, the aura began to put on a show. So,  I just lay there wishing I could record it because it was beautiful.  The spots lined up and were layered from me to the cloud and then moved up and down, closer to me then closer to the clouds. Dancing spots. I was sad to see it go.  It was crazy.  I moved on about my business the whole show lasted about 10 minutes. 

    Flash forward to Friday. I had to run errands for our business.  While trying to get on the property at an exclusive resort, I had to wait for the computer system to register. The guard told me to give it 20 minutes.  He sent  me to wait in a lot next to the guard gate. While waiting, I felt it coming. First nausea and then intense pain in my head.  (my classic migraine is "dull", this was not) I describe the pain as "twangy", intense and coming out of the top left side of my brain. As the pain grew, I knew there would be no way I could do the task I was sent to do. So I headed home, well the pain and nausea were so awful I almost stopped to have someone come get me. However, I was too far away.  I had to drive. In my altered state, I got lost on my way home. Not totally lost, but went the wrong way and thankfully saw a road I recognized and realized I was going the wrong way. My phone was dead. It was a mess.  I couldn't get in the bed fast enough once I finally made it home.

    The next morning, Saturday,  I felt better.  Went about our day completing the task I failed at the afternoon before.  Well, buy 2pm the same thing started again.  Same cycle as the day before. Except I didn't get lost because Polk was with me :)

    Sunday, I awoke to worse weakness on my left side but no headache. (I am always sensory impaired on the left side-with slight weakness--I describe it as if on a scale of 1-10 the weakness and difference is a 1 {normally}) This was a 3. I could definately feel a difference. You could see a difference in my face. 

    Compare the sides of my face. Right down the mid-line.
    Most people look at the picture and say, you look beautiful. Thank you. I, however, see (and feel) that my left side (right side of picture) is different. You will see my cheek is not equal to my other side. My smile isn't the same if you compare side-to-side. I am grateful it isn't worse. However, its really weird and not fun. 

    Now, the entire left side is evenly impaired.   It's just you can "see" it in my face.  My whole side feels a little more difficult to move.  Like it's dragging (but it isn't visually)

    So, it continued like that Sun, Mon, Tues...then on Wednesday morning I awoke and thought "I can't move my arm" I was worried I had had a stroke and was paralyzed. For a second I thought "Oh no, I can't move" then as I rolled over I realized my arm could move it was just really really heavy.  So, the weakness and numbness had worsened.I was keeping my baby grand that morning.  When my daughter walked in, I said I am not sure if I can hold the baby let me try, well I could.  I was over compensating with my right side.  So...I kept her.  I noticed my head was hurting.  This isn't all too unusual but the worsening weakness was concerning. Well, as the morning continued I was googling and found Hemiplegic Migraine. 

    How had I never heard of this? It sounded just like me. 

    I was worsening, and I have to tell you, I feared a stroke was coming. Last stroke I was not near this bad and BAM! So I was terrified.  The scariest thing is feeling it in my throat, half is numb, and occasionally I would choke on my spit. My voice didn't sound like me (though others said they couldn't tell) I guess it was more a "feeling" too.

    Well, I knew I was in a cycle and needed to get drugs to stop it.  Due to insurance, or lack there of, I had to go to the ER.  My daughter works a Mayo Clinic and was getting off at 1:30 and said why don't you come to our ER? That would be the fastest for sure, as the headache was intensifying. So, I made arrangements for D. Packed the car and headed to the ER. 

    Aside--let me tell you- if you want top notch fast service in an ER-have a stroke and you are in! I was moved ahead of frail old people in wheelchairs. I felt bad, but a stroke is nothing to play around with. 

    They performed every test under the sun. 

    Here's the admission.  I did this to myself.  Not intentionally, but it's still my fault.  Remember that post about insurance-yeah-I don't even WANT to go there.  However, I have to briefly.  My medication is expensive. Especially expensive when you are self-employed and can barley keep your employees working through off-season.  So, I stopped taking my meds.  

    My line of thought "who knows if they are even helping. They put me on them after the last event, but I never took meds like this before so who knows if I even need them, I dang sure can't afford them, I'll just stop and see what happens, probably don't even need them, wouldn't that save a lot of money"

    I know I know!  

    So, they were convinced (as was I) that this was a (they said it not me) Complicated Migraine  and to take my meds and follow up with neuro. The nuerologist said that I should get genetic testing to confirm the diagnosis of Hemiplegic Migraine. 

    Anyway, to make matters worse the ER doctors were going to switch my meds to something more affordable and then when I was discharged said my meds were on the $4 list at Wal-mart so they didn't have to switch. Commence me flipping out and actually doing math, which I hate, to see how much moeny I could have saved had I had that little piece of information.  I left feeling so ashamed of myself. I had not only stopped my meds, but could have afforded them, I was sick and I could have been better. 

    About the rx: Well, that wasn't exactly true. The dosage that I am on is not $4 at Wal-mart but it's $85 so I have been saving money using the Walgreens Rx plan and getting it for $65.  However, I am going to see if my doctor can adjust is so i can take 2 or the 120mg which are $4 and stil save. Anyway. 

    So, now it's been a week.  I don't know how long this will last.  It takes patience with myself and patience from others. 

    I am trying to get into the Neuro ASAP-but that is no easy task. Don't even get me started on insurance believe me that is an entirely different post that I do not have the energy to type.

    To help others understand I figured out how to describe how it feels to accomplish tasks:

    You know those weights that you strap to your ankles or the little hand weights that women use for toning.  Light, 1-2 pounds.  Well, everything I do feels like my left side has a weight attached.  Like right now typing: It feels like I am wearing a weighted glove and my fingers on my left side have to work 3 times harder than my right to do the same task.  Holding up my phone, with my left hand,  feels like holding a 5 pound bag of sugar to my ear.  I can do it. It's just exhausting. 

    Yesterday, I wish you would have seen my folding D's laundry. It's like every little 4T shirt weighed 2 pounds. Sort of funny.  I did it though! However, the second load that needed to be folded had to wait. I was just too exhausted.


    Friday:I have a little more movement
    Again, compare side-to-side
    Chin line, lips, etc

    So, I feel like my condition has a name. HEMIPLEGIC MIGRAINE A confusing name. More frustrating because I am finding out from other migraineurs that many doctors have no experience with this rare neurological disorder.  I am sure my neurologist is familiar, he is the Program Director of the Neuroscience Institute. He calls it "complicated migraine".  I just wonder WHY he hasn't called it Hemiplegic Migraine yet. I will know soon enough.

    What's funny, is looking back at the time of my last event I even called it a Hemiplegic Migraine and still never really put it all together.  IT'S NOT JUST A HEADACHE

    A name is important.

    By having a name, I have found a community of support.

    By having a name I can tell people "Google Hemiplegic migraine" and they can read about it instead of just looking at me like I have 3 heads. 

    Oh, and back to juicing for me.   I need to do this with all that is in me!  I MUST JUICE!

    This morning my like-a-daughter posted a thing on FB by one of my favorite devotions "My Utmost for His Highest" I thought it was fitting for how I was feeling:

    Are You Exhausted Spiritually?

    Exhaustion means that our vital energies are completely worn out and spent. Spiritual exhaustion is never the result of sin, but of service. Whether or not you experience exhaustion will depend on where you get your supplies. Jesus said to Peter, “Feed My sheep,” but He gave him nothing with which to feed them (John 21:17). The process of being made broken bread and poured-out wine means that you have to be the nourishment for other people’s souls until they learn to feed on God. They must drain you completely— to the very last drop. But be careful to replenish your supply, or you will quickly be utterly exhausted. Until others learn to draw on the life of the Lord Jesus directly, they will have to draw on His life through you. You must literally be their source of supply, until they learn to take their nourishment from God. We owe it to God to be our best for His lambs and sheep, as well as for Him.

    Have you delivered yourself over to exhaustion because of the way you have been serving God? If so, then renew and rekindle your desires and affections. Examine your reasons for service. Is your source based on your own understanding or is it grounded on the redemption of Jesus Christ? Continually look back to the foundation of your love and affection and remember where your Source of power lies. You have no right to complain, “O Lord, I am so exhausted.” He saved and sanctified you to exhaust you. Be exhausted for God, but remember that He is your supply. “All my springs are in you” (Psalm 87:7).

    So, I am off to rest in HIM!

    If you care to know more about my journey through stroke and "complicated migraine" there are labels on my blog. So look on the right and scroll.  

    HELPS:

    Migraine aura video that also references HM (Hemiplegic Migraine) :  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-aura/MM00659