Life With Diabetes

Since it’s Diabetes Awareness Month I thought I’d share a little something about my experience with you all. My dad was diagnosed with diabetes when I was about 12 years old. I think back then we didn’t really know much about the disease. People still don’t know a lot about it – they assume you get diabetes because you’re fat, you eat badly, and it’s your own fault. Wrong! In some cases part of this may be the issue, but it is NOT your fault. My dad was actually very thin when he was diagnosed and was LOSING weight when he decided to go to the doctor to find out why. Often very thin people have diabetes – it’s a heredity thing for a lot of us.
Flash forward about 10 years later and I’M diagnosed (after a very badly misdiagnosed first baby and delivery) as having Gestational Diabetes with my second child. I was hospitalized and immediately had to learn to give myself insulin shots, check my blood sugars several times a day, eat regularly scheduled meals, etc. I had Gestational Diabetes with all of my pregnancies (four of them – one of them being twins) and thankfully for almost all of them the diabetes went away right after the baby was born. With my last and fifth child it did not. I still had Gestational Diabetes for about six months after he was born but thankfully it did eventually go away.(Often not the case for many women.) This Gestational Diabetes put me in a much higher bracket for the likelihood of ending up with Diabetes later in life – 60% more. Meanwhile, my mom also ends up diagnosed with Diabetes and many other family members as well. I had a very high rate of likelihood I would end up with Diabetes by this point.
Now, about 13 years later, my kids are in their teens and I am finally at a point in life when I can really begin to focus on me, and my health, and have been doing so for the last three years. I’ve slowly but steadily improved my health, working out at the gym regularly (with my family as well), walking often, and have worked hard to reinvent our favorite recipes with healthy twists. I’ve dropped 20 lbs. in the last three years by doing all of this.
BUT I hit 40 this year. I went to the doctor in July and was diagnosed with Diabetes. So frustrating because I’ve been working so hard and lost quite a bit of weight (I am not a large person, either) and here I am stuck with this dreaded disease! I now take medication that has helped me to lose the fat around my tummy that has always frustrated me. Diabetes – an increase in blood sugars/issues with your insulin not working properly in your body, causes this. The medicine makes me feel really tired and sick to my stomach. Some days getting out of bed and dressed is a chore. I know it will not always be this way as my body adjusts to this medication – but with five teens to care for, four of whom I am homeschooling, there are days that this feels like it will never end. There are days I want to feel sorry for myself and envy those who can just eat whatever they want with no visible issues. But I am a fighter. I will not let Diabetes conquer me – I am conquering it every day I eat healthy. Every day I exercise. Every day I get up and am thankful that today I am alive. I am thankful that I can teach my children by example how to eat healthy, how to exercise and learn to enjoy it. How to stand up and fight for the life I want to live.
My kids are teens and they love sugar (which we limit) so if they are buying a treat they want to offer it to me. Sweet kids! They have my best at heart – but they forget that I have to be careful what I eat. So I say to them now, “Hmmm, would I rather have that item, or lose my foot?” They laugh and know I am teasing them, but the truth is their grandpa has lost a foot and most of his leg from diabetes. It is a real problem and I truly have to think in those terms some days. I love to travel – and I want to be able to walk everywhere, so I think in terms of my future. I rejoice in the health I have now and plan for the future I want to have later. And I pray one day there may be a cure for Diabetes.
In the meantime, I want to encourage all of us to think about the judgment we often pass on to others when we do not understand the full picture. Diabetes is a result of health issues and not simply a fat person’s disease. We did not “choose” to become Diabetics. It often feels like I am part of a secret group because we are afraid to share with others our illness knowing the judgment we incur from others if we’re Diabetic and overweight; Diabetic and eating dessert or fattening foods – just like anyone on a diet we can plan for these treats and don’t deserve the judgment we often receive; or Diabetic and ….. Please help encourage those you know with Diabetes to stick with their health plans but be there for them – don’t judge them. Diabetes has a very high rate of depression. It’s a lonely disease and we need to get the word out that Diabetics need support and encouragement. Living every day pricking yourself, giving yourself shots, taking meds that make you feel awful, having the think about every bite you put in your mouth or plan to can be exhausting. Sure some of us do need to lose weight or change the way we eat, but there are many of us whom you would think are in perfect health from the outside. Everyone has something they’re struggling with – let’s start looking for ways to encourage each other and support one another instead of tearing each other down. You just might be the difference someone needs to keep on fighting for their health today!

Seasons In Life

It’s that time of year again! Time to get out all the winter clothing and go through everything piece by piece. What needs mending? Is it too big or too small? Is it missing a button, or does it need polishing? Every year I go through not only MY stuff, but my kids’ stuff as well. It’s gotten a lot easier as they’ve gotten older and can help me now.

As my kids are all getting bigger – I’ve been shrinking! LOL Both height (aging stinks!) and I’ve successfully dropped 20 lbs in the last two years. One puny pound at a time – but I stuck with it and it feels great to have clothes fit better or be too big – my pile of clothes to garage sale is pretty big! The pile of kids’ clothes to sell is ridiculously large! My kids are all teens now and growing like weeds.

One thing I hear often from people is how THEY’D never have as many kids as I do because it’s soooo expensive to clothe, feed, etc, etc. them. I have to say we’ve been blessed (and I hear we’re not alone in this!) to have clothes shared with us, or amazing finds in the clearance that I know are truly God’s way of blessing our faith that HE will provide for these children HE has blessed us with aisles (I once bought a full suit at JC Penny for one of my grade school aged boys for $2.97!). Sure, money’s tight a lot. We don’t get to do a ton of expensive vacations – but we’ve done a lot over the years. We pass down clothes and don’t care about name brands but rather quality – gasp! My kids have learned to appreciate what they have and take care of it. They are old enough now that they have jobs babysitting, doing yard work, or working at a grocery store, and they buy things they want themselves and extra clothing items as well. They’re happy to – not because I ask them (which I don’t) but because they feel pride in being able to provide for themselves, too.

People tell me all the time what great kids we have – so happy, hardworking, caring… I enjoy hearing it and agree, but I never take credit for that. My kids have learned great skills from a lot of people –including my husband and I. But their personalities – that’s all God. I’m blessed to watch them learn and grow on a daily basis since we homeschool and I get to watch how God fixes and mends my kids and myself through life’s different seasons.

This past summer has been a really hard one for me, personally, and my family as well. It all started out amazingly well – I turned 40 this last May and my husband and I were able to escape for a few days to Disneyland/California Adventure, just the two of us. We had a GREAT time and the kids had a great time back here as well with friends and family that so blessed us by helping in their care while we were away. Then, in July I got in a pretty serious car accident. Two days later I was told I have diabetes and had to begin meds that make me feel AWFUL. All my hard work eating healthy and losing all that weight was not enough to keep it at bay. So disappointing! I’d worked so hard and it felt like it was all for nothing. (I had gestational diabetes with all four of my pregnancies so my risks were very high on top of all the family history of it.) Then, I had an inconclusive mammogram, followed up by another inconclusive one and an ultrasound –again…. inconclusive. So while that’s hanging over my head for the next six months when I go in to have another test… we find out our car I was rear-ended in the accident in, is now totaled and they will be keeping it. Effective immediately. (We were “reimbursed the loss” but it didn’t begin to cover the cost of replacing it.) Wham! Bam! Pow! Hit after hit. Talk about a hard season. We only had one vehicle and were now essentially carless with a family of 7. Thankfully friends pitched in and loaned us vehicles – a total of 7 loaners and rentals over two months of constant car shopping. We finally ended up with a vehicle that is not nearly as nice as the one we had and cost us almost twice as much as what we owed. I am thankful in this season that God is mending my body (I am currently dealing with neck and back issues since the accident) and He’s restoring my families’ schedule and life. It’s all looking quite different than before – but it’s also much better in a lot of ways. Because of everything, we’ve had to scale back on what I do for schooling and found other avenues to cover the things that took me the most time. Less stress makes a difference in my diabetes. My kids have had to step up their independent work times – and that’s a good skill for them to be utilizing. The family has all been able to focus on prayer and thanksgiving. We are a closer knit family.

As I pull out my winter clothes and put away the summer ones, I realize I’m ready for a new season. I’m looking forward to watching God continue to work in our lives and teach us what HE wants us to see. I’m thankful my kids are growing in more ways than just up and enjoying the ride. I’m choosing to see His grace in my circumstances – because I know He has my best in mind!

A Little Something About Having Something (or NOTHING!) to Wear…

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I have a little different view on the scripture Luke 12:22-31 – not worrying about “your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.”  While I totally agree with this scripture and am definitely NOT saying I disagree with it – I do view it just a little bit differently than a lot of people do. If we are not to worry about it, then does that mean we are not to think on it? Or do something so that we no longer worry about it? My view is this – we obviously have to wear clothes. (Unless you are visiting a nudist beach which after having 5 kiddos will never be on my radar!) We are NOT supposed to worry about it. Check. If I haven’t taken the time to really look at my wardrobe and make it “me” so that I am comfortable in my own clothes as the saying goes – then I have a feeling I’m going to be worried about it. Okay, I KNOW I’m going to worry about it! So here are a couple tips about how to be confident in your own clothing options and how not to worry about “what you will wear”.

I will admit to being fashion challenged for awhile while having my kiddos. I loved clothes as a teenager, but having babies really messed with my head and body and I admit to living in sweats and un-flattering  jeans  for way too long. I finally saw the light though and began to care about how I looked because I wanted my kids to see their mom as a confident put-together woman and up til that point I truly was neither. Feeling put together helped give me confidence as a mom and a woman, and honestly helped rejuvenate my marriage as well. My husband was attracted to this confident woman that I had once been and was thrilled she was back! Please read my heart in this – if you are not someone who worries about clothes or styles then that is fine. I am not saying any of you may even have confidence issues like  I did – I’m just sharing what changed in my own personal thinking and how this helped me.

First things first: Decide what styles of clothing you like or enjoy wearing.

1. Look at magazines and ads for clothing that catches your eye. I have a collection of pictures cut out of magazines and ads of clothes and outfits I like. This helps to determine your own style of clothing and helps you focus on what you really would wear and weeds out those orphan pieces we all have in our closets. (It won’t eliminate those pieces that sneak in every once in a while but it will help! Closet organizing once or twice a year will help with that.)

2. Go shopping just to try on clothes – preferably similar to ones you’ve found in step #1. No pressures of buying or needing a specific piece – just trying on several different sizes and styles to see what looks good on you. You’ll be surprised how different things look on you than on the hangar. Don’t be afraid to try something new! Have fun with it and remind yourself (out loud if you have to!) if something doesn’t fit or look great you can put it aside and try something else. There’s nothing wrong with you – the item is just not your style. Be willing to go up or down a size if you love an item – all brand sizes are not created equal.

3. Once you’ve tried on lots of clothes and are starting to have a view of what your own personal style might be you can begin putting a wardrobe together. There are three general styles you might choose from: Classic = timeless /simple; Traditional = conservative /professional; Trendy = current.

      I took favorite pieces I owned and used them to start my base. There are basics everyone should own so that you can easily mix and match a few new pieces in each season and keep an updated wardrobe without having to purchase new every season or trend change. (Unless your style IS trendy and then… well you’ll just have to keep shopping ! J) The basic categories are: jackets, pants, skirts, tops, dresses. If you prefer not to wear skirts, jackets, or dresses feel free to skip these categories. In other words – pick the ones YOU would feel comfortable wearing.

Now that you have an idea what style you might be apt to like best on you – go through your own closet choosing pieces that best fit this style and YOU. Begin a list of what you will need to purchase to complete your wardrobe. You may want to enlist a friend who will be honest with you at this point and can help you truly see how these items fit you if you do not feel quite confident in doing so yourself. As you begin to pull pieces you like from your wardrobe , look to see what pieces you might be missing to make them into a complete outfit. For instance do you have a pair of black or dark blue pants but no tops that go with them? Then write tops to complete that specific color down on your list. It’s a good idea to have at least a dark pair of pants (or skirt if you prefer) and a light colored one as well. Same for sweaters and shoes – both flats and dress shoes (heals or otherwise). As you begin to make your list, relax. You have time to do this right so pick the most important pieces you are missing and begin looking for them. When I was first building my wardrobe I kept my list in my purse so it was always with me as I looked at clearance racks and such. I stuck to my list as much as possible and it really helped me stay away from those orphan pieces that don’t go with what I already owned or was looking for to complete my “look”.

A couple of things to remember as you begin shopping….

Pay close attention to how an item fits you. Are you comfortable in it? Is it snug, loose, does it need to be altered? There is nothing wrong with having an item tailored, but only if you really love the basic fit of the item to begin with. I always move around in the dressing room reaching my arms out, up , bending down. This helps me tell how comfortable an item feels and see what it looks like once I’ve left the mirror and began actually living in the clothes.

Another thing to pay attention to is what fabric an item is made of. Does it wrinkle easily? If you’re someone who hates to iron this item will inevitably stay in your closet and be a waste of your money. Maybe the fabric pills up easily – this can make an item look cheap and wear out easily so if you aren’t someone who wants to constantly be “shaving” your clothes you might want to opt for a different fabric. Really inexpensive items are always a draw for me (I admit I love a bargain!) but often they are made of cheaper fabrics that will shrink up or stretch out and I won’t get as much wear out of them as I might have with a sale on a higher end fabric that holds up really well. For this reason I love to shop more expensive stores’ clearance aisles. I get well priced items that will last me without paying a fortune for them.

Hopefully this will help you determine your own style and take the dread of shopping out of shopping for you! I used to dread trying on items because I let the way an item fit me determine my mood. Often things didn’t fit well and I left the store in a bad mood. As I’ve begun to view trying on items without the emotions I’ve realized that some items are just not going to fit my body type. The item is the issue and not me. This has taken a lot of the worrying about what I will wear out of my shopping and daily dressing and given me confidence to be just the size and shape God has created me. Some days this is harder than others – but I AM a woman and it’s just another opportunity for me to learn from my mistakes and try again. Happy shopping!

This is THE year!

This is THE year! 2014. The year we talked about for so many years and it’s finally here… the year my oldest will turn 18 right after I turn 40. The year my youngest baby turns 13 and I have FIVE teenagers in my house! (AKA the year I threatened I’d be moving out! LOL) The year my husband and I will have been married 20 years. HOW did it come so fast????

I think this will be a very busy year with celebrations and life moments but I also want it to be a year of intentions. I don’t want to just make New Year’s resolutions – I want to keep them. I don’t want to just resolve to want to do something – I want to plan HOW I will do it. I have a few resolutions in mind, but nothing solid yet because before I write it down I want to plan it out and write that down, too. So I’ll start with a few here and would love to have you add yours, too! I’d love to hear what is important to you!

I have been working on my health this past year specifically and plan to continue to do so. I want to lose those stubborn pounds that apparently are lonely and don’t want to leave me! I want to be even more purposeful about this – even though I did do a lot this last year. I turn 40 in May and want to lose ALL those pounds by then. I plan to keep drinking…. Lots of water. I plan to finally find a dr. and talk about my health with them. I will keep exercising and adding in even more during the week. Since my husband’s unpaid furlough I’ve made a concerted effort to cook almost all our meals at home – and make them healthy. I will keep that up. It saves us money and we are healthier because of it as well. It’s also been fun to take yummy unhealthy recipes and figure out ways to make them healthy and still keep the yum!

I want to focus even more on paying off our home equity loan. I hate being in debt. We’ve lived without it for so long and now we have a couple of things we have to pay off and I am determined to do so quickly. Water heater will be paid off by the end of March. Car loan is a 5 yr. loan and I’d like to figure out how to make that 2 instead.

I want to push myself to do new things and grow. Last year I went to New York on a missions trip – and LOVED it! I don’t know that I can go again on one this year, but would love to do so. In the meantime, I have been enjoying having my own quiet time each morning before my kiddos get up. I intend to keep that up. While I am growing spiritually, I also want to grow as a woman. I want to be more confident in myself so I intend to keep pushing myself to do things that make me uncomfortable. I’ve started a bucket list of things I’d like to do and have slowly been working on doing them. I truly enjoyed John Ortberg’s book If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat. In it he talks about fear being something we should be okay with feeling. That those times we truly step out in faith are the times we often grow the most. I am trying to do that.

So there’s a few of my resolutions. What are yours? I love that a new year can be a time of starting fresh. I feel the same way about fall, but there’s something about starting each year with a goal. Each day is a new day – a clean slate, a breath of fresh air. I love that God gives us this! We all have days that are hard (even months and years!) but He tells us joy comes in the morning(Psalm 30:5b), and His mercies are new every morning(Lamentations 3:22-23). May today be the start of something new and encouraging for you! Happy New Year!

 

Why I Love Fall….

I’m over here doing the happy dance today… It’s FALL! I love this time of year… I love the smell of a fall evening, the crisp air and sunny days, the new routines, the smell of a wood-burning fire in someone’s fireplace (unfortunately it’s not mine – mine is gas and it smells and gives me a headache so we rarely use it!), the baking … Okay, okay I’ll stop. You get my point.

I’m an organizer and having things to organize and schedule and plan actually makes me happy. (I know some of you are out there gagging right now!) I’m embracing my gifts and this just so happens to be something I’m good at and love to do. It’s a good thing, too, because God gave me a busy husband and five VERY busy kiddos to schedule and organize to my heart’s content! I’m not saying I enjoy the actual doing of all the busyness some days (or MOST days when I’m stuck driving everyone here and there all afternoon!) I just love the planning of it!

Another reason I love fall is the fact that it reminds me of Christ. Of new life coming out of death. Fall really is death. Those beautiful colors are because the leaves are dying. The crunch of the leaves under your feet as you walk is proof of the death. No one likes to think about death and certainly we don’t see it as beautiful very often, but truly many things have to die before the new can be. Often a dream or plan of our own has to die before we can accept the new dream or plan that is ahead of us. If we try to keep reviving what we want instead of letting go and allowing God to lead us to what we truly need  we suffer and struggle and sometimes even miss out on opportunities that are right in front of us because we are too busy looking down to see it. Just as Christ died and rose again on the third day, the process of death can bring about new life; things that cause us to grow and change and become more like Christ. He gives us abundant life – but we have to choose to accept it and look for it. To see the beauty in the change and sometimes in the waiting and flourish through the process of it. So that one day, just like in the spring, we will bloom with new life and abundant beauty like the flowers peeking through the snow – proof that new  life has arrived! Maybe it’s just different looking than we thought it would be, but maybe we’re different now, too- resilient, stronger, more peaceful, exuberant, joyful…Grateful for the new life we’re becoming and the personal growth we’ve had along the way. Finding beauty in the death and hope in the dreams is my prayer for you!

What’s In A Name?

    Just breathe! I love this phrase because it reminds me to take life one breath at a time. Life is so crazy and busy and even breathless. I strive to live in the moment and enjoy what life is bringing me – even the difficult times – because I know there is a purpose and plan for all of it. It’s not easy! I’m not saying I’m great at this or that I even DO this all the time – it’s simply my goal.

   That’s what this blog is really all about – the moments I breathe in. The things that bring me joy and encouragement, and the things that I’ve learned over the years. Wow, that makes me sound really old! I hope you enjoy sharing these moments with me and will share your moments with me as well! So many people have been an inspiration to me and I hope to be that to you, too.

    So when life’s getting too crazy to just sit there – come hang out with me on my blog! Have a cup of coffee or tea (or a soda – I won’t judge!) and be encouraged that we all need a moment to just breathe.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away”

Iustus inspiret: Just Breathe in Latin

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