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What I’ve been learning lately

Woman lying on upper back and holding her lower back in balance. Image Source: Istock

Beautiful woman lying on upper back & holding her lower back in balance. Image Source: Istock

Summer is here and it’s a good time to reflect on and reevaluate how the year is going. You and I may have had bodacious plans for 2020, such as traveling to another country, getting fit and losing 20 pounds, or becoming debt-free. We certainly didn’t expect to be in the middle of a global pandemic and seeing riots, looting, and violence over George Floyd and racism. 

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Blog, Faith, Family, Featured, Fitness, Parenting, prayer, Stress

The waiting room

Leah in waiting room at her physical therapist’s office

Have you ever been in a hospital or doctor waiting room or in a line for a long time? It’s hard. I am there now. So is our beautiful, precious daughter Leah.

As you may have read, near Christmas 2019, Leah fell on ice and snow in her driveway at her rental home and it broke the fibula in her right ankle, which required surgery. It is not an easy, quick fix for the fibula to heal, especially after surgery. The surgeon put a heavy, thick, black boot on her ankle during surgery and ordered her to elevate her ankle most of the time and rest as much as possible. He said that she could not work or drive for at least 6 to 8 weeks, maybe longer. 

Leah's heavy black ankle boot

Leah’s heavy black ankle boot

Initially Leah stayed three weeks with Ray and me after her surgery for us to watch over her (Ray has been a paramedic over 30 years) and to help her by cooking meals, washing her laundry, dispensing her pain medication as needed, taking her to her post-surgery appointments, etc.  She’s now back at her house, recovering.

Leah at our house with her ankle elevated, pre-surgery

Leah at our house with her ankle elevated, pre-surgery

I still help her as much as I can, taking her to doctor and physical therapy appointments, running errands, etc. She is still in her heavy, black ankle boot and she still can’t drive or work.

But yesterday she accomplished a major milestone: Leah is now at 50% weight-bearing on her ankle. She is on her way to walking again! Leah is doing amazing! Praise You, JESUS!

Leah at physical therapy, at 50% weight-bearing on her ankle

 

Leah at physical therapy with her therapist Sam, who rocks!

Leah’s physical therapist Sam rocks! When Leah’s surgeon Dr. Carroll ordered physical therapist as part of her post-surgery treatment, I began praying for God to hand-pick her physical therapist and I truly believe He did! Sam is so nice, very knowledgeable, and funny. He makes Leah and me laugh with his quick wit.

He is a very positive person who speaks LIFE over her, for which I’m extremely thankful. I always agree with him out loud, “Yes!”, when he encourages her that she’ll be walking in no time and just fine!

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:21, ESV)

Leah on one crutch, using 50% weight-bearing on her ankle

 Yesterday Sam had Leah walk with both her crutches and then one crutch, using 50% weight-bearing on her right ankle, as she walked along the indoor sidewalk with parallel bars and around the inside of the clinic. This is not easy after you haven’t been walking for months.

Leah at physical therapy, 50% weight-bearing

One difficult thing is maintaining your balance. She didn’t want to fall over and then put all her weight on her broken ankle, as that could re-injure her. But she did great! She was so excited to reach this progress of 50% weight-bearing.

Two other exercises Sam taught her how to do to strengthen her ankle was squats, rising from a sitting position and putting 50% of the weight on her right ankle (about 15 repetitions at a time, to be done throughout the day). She also puts a blue, tied elastic band inside a door (closing it) and wraps the other end underneath her knee. Then she raises up her ankle/leg for 15 to 20 repetitions at a time, doing the exercises repeatedly during the day.

Sam showing Leah how to tie the elastic band to raise and lower her ankle

Leah doing “squats,” standing up from sitting position

Yesterday before her physical therapy appointment, Leah and I met my daughter Heather at Panera Bread for lunch. It was so good to see Heather, as she works full-time, takes care of her two daughters and her fiance Andy’s three kids, and is always busy. I was so happy to spend time with my beautiful, precious daughters!

My precious, beautiful daughters! Leah, Heather, and me at Panera Bread for lunch

The broccoli cheddar soup and 1/2 turkey-bacon-avocado sandwich I ordered was delicious! Leah and Heather also ordered the “Pick 2” option. Heather ordered the Turkey Bravo sandwich and potato soup, and Leah ordered the steak and cheddar sandwich with mac & cheese. 

Delicious Panera Bread lunch

This week at Heather’s workplace (a convenience store), an armed man barricaded himself in the bathroom. Thank God that Heather had already left work two hours earlier, and no one was hurt in the incident. The man had intended to hang himself in the bathroom, but I think he may have had plans to shoot people first. The police managed to get the assistant manager and all the employees safely out of the store, and took the man into police custody. This is WHY I pray the blood of Jesus over me and my family every day!

Pray the blood of Jesus over you & loved ones daily

As we chatted, Leah talked about the annoyance of her numerous attempts to get state or federal government assistance for her rent, utility bills, food, and medical bills. The government websites are difficult to navigate and confusing. When you call the phone number, you’re on hold for sometimes half an hour or longer. Leah has already received one denial for assistance, even though she’s physically unable to work (on her surgeon’s orders), and has run into obstacles trying to contact other agencies. I’m praying God intervenes in her situation. He will provide for her!

I told Heather that I feel Leah is trying to rush the process of healing her ankle and is being impatient. She really wants her boot off (she has to wear it 8 to 10 weeks post-surgery to protect it) and to drive and to work again. Heather laughed when I said that I understand Leah is tired of her mom “toting” her around, as she puts it.

The waiting room is a difficult place to be. Yet how often God has us in that place to grow our faith in the dark and to teach us to trust totally in Him. 

Leah and Heather.
Leah feels impatient.

I know Leah is tired of using her little green “knee walker” scooter (which I think is an incredible invention! It has helped her to get around so much easier than her crutches!), as well as the crutches. I know she wants to work and drive on her own, and to do the things she’s used to doing. I’ve encouraged her that this is just for a season, God is going to heal her, and she will soon be walking again. Please continue to pray for Leah’s complete, speedy healing. 

Leah at Hobby Lobby on her green scooter

I know it’s hard for Leah. There are things that I am waiting on in my own life. Things I’ve prayed for years and I’ve been waiting a long time. I have felt impatient, too, and at times I’ve been very discouraged that it seems to be taking so long. God’s timing is not like ours. You wonder if your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling and if God even hears your prayers. He does. Don’t give up! Keep the faith in Him and continue praying to God. You will soon see victory through faith in Jesus!

me & our precious daughter Leah at Jose Pepper’s restaurant having lunch

*******

Are you in the waiting room? Don’t quit praying. God loves you and He hears your prayers, and will answer. Check out my book on prayer, Walking With God, available for sale at Amazon here.

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Blog, Faith, Holidays, Marriage, Parenting, Stress

Blessed: 5 Tips for Holiday Stress

family at Christmas

family at Christmas
Photo source: Shutterfly

The holidays are one of the most anticipated times of the year for families. But they can also be one of the most stressful for some people, with top stressors being lack of time, lack of money, commercialism, the pressures of gift-giving, and dealing with family. 

child opening gift

child opening gift
Photo source: http://www.naomisahlstrom.com/sahlstrom-christmas/

One of my strongest spiritual gifts is giving, and one of my struggles at Christmas is spending too much money on gifts for our kids and our grandkids. I’m not alone in this. Shoppers in the U.S. spend over $1 trillion; in 2018, Americans spent an average of $1,536 during the Christmas season! While it may give me (and others) great joy to buy lots of presents for our children and our grandchildren, other family members, and our friends to show them our love, it also causes us STRESS.

Dealing with family drama and strife, being busier and under more pressure at work, planning and cooking a big family meal, traffic jams, and crowded stores also contribute to our tension.

manger

manger scene
Photo source: Istock

Here are 5 tips to manage and relieve stress during the Christmas holidays:

  1. Bring it back to a Christ-centered Christmas. For Christian believers, Christmas is supposed to be about celebrating the birth of our Messiah, Jesus Christ. Yet how often we forget this in the hectic, busy season that retailers use to inundate us with commercialism. Buy this, buy that! More, more, more! Even when we set a budget, or maybe wisely start saving throughout the year to buy our family and friends gifts, we often blow it. A good way to focus on Jesus (other than staying out of stores!) is by reading the Christmas story in the four gospels. Each narrative is told differently. There are also many good children’s books to read at this time of year, which can become a family tradition. Decorating the Christmas tree and your home with an emphasis on Christ, lighting pretty, scented candles, baking cookies for your kids and grandkids (they can help, too!), listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, praying as a couple or a family, volunteer work, giving to those in need, and attending special church services or plays can all help with keeping the holiday Christ-focused.
sugar cookies. Source: Love Grows Wild

sugar cookies
Photo source: Love Grows Wild

2. Take care of yourself. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about the holidays that make me just forget all human reason and completely pig out! It’s like I go crazy temporarily, eating tons of those scrumptious, purple-, red-, and green-colored sugar cookies, chocolates, and of course, the big family meal. I also tend to put exercise on the back burner, forget to drink enough water, and stress myself out trying to buy just the right present for each of our 3 kids and our 6 grandkids, and then wrapping them all in the same night! The holidays are a great time of year to pause. Selah. Intentionally choose to slow down, pray, and reflect. Each year at the end of the year, I set aside time to pray, journal, and prepare for the coming year. Make sure that despite the busyness of the season, you’re staying hydrated with plenty of water (not just Starbucks’ yummy, holiday coffees!), eating healthy, moving your body to get exercise, getting enough sleep, and de-stressing, such as with a hot bubble bath with softly-glowing candles.

Amazon gift card

Amazon gift card

3. Give free or low-cost, but thoughtful, gifts. I have learned that buying presents at the dollar store isn’t always best. Some people will give or even throw them away! However, you can give gifts that are low cost or even free that people appreciate and even love! For example, my husband Ray has NEVER complained when I have put a “coupon” inside a gift box for an oil, back massage! Our daughters have deeply appreciated “coupons” for babysitting. Baking cookies, brownies, and Christmas goodies and putting them in those cute, decorative, holiday tin cans are always a hit. Buy a couple of movie tickets to bless your married kids or family members. Amazon, Kohl’s, Starbucks, Target, Walmart, Visa, and other gift cards can be great stocking stuffers or main gifts. There’s endless ways to give gifts that don’t break the bank and save you time and stress.

sweet potato casserole. Source: Delish

sweet potatoes casserole
Photo source: Delish

4. Simplify. To simplify means to reduce to basic essentials, diminish, or streamline. You and I can get all worked up, thinking we have to have the perfect Christmas for our family and our friends. We spend too much money, eat too many sweets, clean the house spotlessly until we’re exhausted, cook too much food (that often goes to waste!), and then when the holiday is over, we’re totally stressed out, exhausted, and maybe even resentful of others and mad at ourselves! It’s time to pare down and get down to the bones–the real meaning of Christmas, which is about Jesus and loving our family and others! Just one example is simplifying the family holiday meal. One Christmas we decided to skip the big meal and order sushi and Chinese. It was wonderful and we all loved it! Another holiday, we decided to go out to eat Italian at Cinzetti’s restaurant for their amazing buffet–delicious. (Anything where I don’t have to cook is a great idea, in my opinion!) If you don’t have the money to go out to eat or prefer having the meal at your home, just simplify your menu. It’s a shame that so much food goes to waste because people don’t like to eat leftovers, or they forget about them. Have just one or two side dishes, instead of four or five! Bake one, or at the most, two desserts. Choose one type of meat, instead of two. We don’t have to gorge ourselves at Christmas to be content!

Christmas decor. Tatianpages.com

Christmas decor
Photo source: Tatianpages.com

5. Try something new. One reason tensions build at holidays is that everything is familiar. You have the same foods, see the same people, do the same things. It can become boring. Strife and drama occur, with people fighting over the same ridiculous, stupid things. Adding something new at the holidays can lighten your heart and give you joy. If you normally stay home, go somewhere you’ve never been: attend The Nutcracker ballet, see the lighting of the Kansas City Plaza lights, watch someone at a shop make fudge (and sample it!)–or try making fudge yourself with grandma’s recipe. Drive in a new, affluent area with beautifully decorated Christmas lights. When my sister Maria and her family visited us several years ago, she and her kids tried ice skating in Kansas City, MO–fun! Her daughter Katie took to it right away (being a good roller skater!) and loved it! One year my daughter Heather and I shopped at her workplace at that time, Pier 1, and chose Christmas tree decorations, representing our family members. We picked a pickle for my husband Ray, because he loves pickles; a suitcase for me (I love traveling); a diamond ring for Heather (in hopes of getting engaged), an owl for our daughter Eden (she loves owls); and a snowflake for our daughter Leah (she thinks they are pretty and loves how unique they are). Each year I’ve added decorations to represent family members, at the birth of each grandchild. You can choose new things to do or traditions that will make Christmas more fun!

These are just a few tips to help you alleviate or reduce holiday stress. What are some things you do to help make your Christmas more joyful and less hectic and stressful? Leave your comments below.

 

 

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