Finding Joy in Him

Through Every Season

Month: July 2011

Ratatouille

I made some Ratatouille last night.  It was our first time to have any.
I always wondered what the fuss was about in the movie with mouse.
It was awesome!
It even got four stars.. meaning all the kids liked it.
Each kid gets a star (an up or down vote).  
If I make something and it gets 3-4 stars, I keep it in our family recipe stash.
 I found the recipe on All Recipes while looking for something
to do with the eggplant I got at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday.
I love eggplant; need to buy it more often.
Love,
Jenny

“Two Month” “Recovery” Reality

I am starting to understand what the doctors meant by a “Two Month” “Recovery. ”   At first, I thought they meant that in two months I would be recovered. That’s not it at all. They meant I wouldn’t be able to do anything but recover for at least two months. After that, I would slowly get back to my new self… (I hope. )

When preparing myself mentally for the surgery, I referred to my post-surgery self as “Frankenstein’s Bride. ” When Judi saw me for the first time in the doctor’s office, she said I looked like a zombie. I refused that label because I still had a brain (most days), and insisted that I was more like Frankenstein’s Bride. She consented to my logic.

What I could never conceive was how much healing a body needs to do after it’s been taken apart and put together again, how much of a toll 11 hours of anesthesia takes on a body, how much work it is to recover from all that blood loss, and how long a body can continue to swell. Although I never read the books or watched the movies, I am pretty sure Frankenstein’s Bride got right up and did whatever she wanted the moment she woke up.

Tomorrow is my two month anniversary and I am still not up to doing whatever I want. I am definitely not my old self that could walk 5 miles in a day. I have to plan out my day so that I can do the bare minimum and not wear myself out. I still have to rest up between breakfast and shower… etc. I am letting the puppy in and out more for myself (she only wants out 50 times a day). 🙂

Last week, just warming up my meals in the microwave was challenging. This week I am stir frying my meals from scratch again (Yay!), but I have to sit on a stool while I sir and it’s still a challenge to do all the walking it  takes to gather up all the stuff I need from around the kitchen. Last week, making in and out of the store was a huge challenge. This week it’s a little easier. I can unload the basket onto the conveyer belt now. Last week, one of the baggers offered to do it and I was happy to let him do that and carry my groceries out to the car. I am still doing only a little shopping at a time. Some things on the higher shelves are a challenge to reach and I am still not up to pushing the basket or carrying the heavy groceries or putting them all away.

I started driving again a couple of weeks ago. At first, I hated seat belts and right turns really hurt  (I guess more than left, because they are tighter). This week, I still don’t like seat belts, but I don’t mind driving as much. Honestly, just riding in the car tires me. My top half doesn’t do well at following my bottom half around the curves. Maybe when I am driving, holding the steering wheel helps? Now that Joel and Judi both have jobs, and Joel is preparing to get his license and start school, driving instructor/chauffeur is my job. I am doing the best I can.

A couple of weeks ago, I was REALLY struggling with the pain by the end of the day. I can block most of it out during the day, but when I am trying to rest at the end of the day, it still bothers me some; muscle soreness, twinges… I don’t know what to call them all… ouchies? Truthfully, it’s 9 am now, and they are bothering me now… it’s just by the end of the day, I am so worn out that I can’t deal with the pain as well.

I haven’t taken anything for the pain since my day of vomiting except the daily aspirin  I have to take as a blood thinner and some Arnica which does seem to help a little. I try to reserve taking other stuff for emergencies because of their side effects. I figure my liver has plenty to deal with as it is. I am glad I have a high tolerance for pain and don’t need more.

Although, all last week my body kept asking me, “Why did you let those mean doctors do this to me?” and my only answer was, “I don’t know??” I don’t regret doing the surgery. If I had chosen the other main stream, American option, I might doing radiation now and have radiation fatigue for the next 4 plus years, and who knows how I would have done on the tamoxifen.

If some brave soul is ever able to get the American Cancer money making machine to concede that there is a better way to cure cancer, I’ll be happy for the patients that follow and don’t have to choose between the two very destructive options I had.

I am glad I studied up and chose not to let them take my lymph nodes even though “Expert doctors, like me, think it’s the best thing to do. ” After a logical discussion of all I understood about the non-existent benefits of taking a few lymph nodes, that’s all my breast surgeon could come up with. She did get part of one during surgery, but warned me that sometimes it just couldn’t be helped.

They try to make your lymph nodes out to be such small things… no big deal… Your eyes are small, too!  Your lymph nodes are an important part of your immune system. And even though the doctors don’t have to be concerned with your lifetime struggle with lymphedema afterwards, you do.

I am still dealing with swelling daily. May still be a long time before it subsides. Went for a dental cleaning last week, and my arms and hands swelled up while the hygienist had my head lower than the rest of me. Most of the time it’s only my core that’s swollen. I am hoping that it’s still too early to be worried about lymphedema.
I still have a lot of healing left to go… and prayerfully with that the swelling will improve.

When I first had to tell people about my diagnosis, just getting the words out was difficult. I know how hard news like that is to take, and no one ever knows what to say. Most said, “I am so sorry. ” or “I am so happy we caught it early. ”  I loved it when “they were so happy” because I could rejoice with them and it made it easier for me to have shared the news. I wasn’t up to comforting the ones who were sorry… and couldn’t afford to be sorry with them… it would have been a long, slippery slope into a deep pit.

If someone had told me last week, that they had just been diagnosed with breast cancer all that I would have been able to do is cry and say, “I am so sorry. ” This week I am feeling a little stronger and think I could be a bit more of a support. 🙂

I am still positive that cancer is from the devil and it baffles me how he curses anyone who believes on Jesus.
We are free from the curse… free from sin… free to love Him freely. He became sin for us, taking the curse on Himself. It is finished. All we have to do is believe. And I am so thankful for my for my Healer and for the season of healing He is allowing me to walk though, however long it may be.

Love,

Jenny

Amazing God Thing #2 Acupuncture

I’ve been continuing to go for acupuncture every other week now. And I am so glad I went yesterday. I’ve been having a hard time standing up for very long. The kids are still having to do most of the shopping, laundry, dishes, cooking etc. for me. I’d really like to be able to do more for them when they go back to school.

It will be a really challenging year for Joel and Josh. They share a room and Josh is always losing stuff. You can not make someone be organized. They will both be working and going to school this year; Joel’s first time for either. I am praying for lots of wisdom for Joel especially.

Anyway, after about 25 minutes on my feet, I’ve been having this overwhelming desire to sit down.  Gravity is not my friend. When at the store, I am not sure if or not I will make it through the checkout lines. I actually sat on a low shelf at Walmart one day while waiting to check out.

I mentioned it to my surgeon at my last visit. He understood what I meant and asked if I felt like my abdomen was dragging and said it was still early (6 wks.). I wanted to know what was wrong.. I couldn’t find anything in any of the recovery accounts on line that talked about what I was experiencing (they are usually way more informative than the doctors have been), and I was still “dragging” a week and a half later. Next Wednesday is my 2 month anniversary and I am supposed to be ready to go back to “work.” If I had a job where I had to be on my feet all day, I’d be quitting now.

So when my wonderful acupuncturist, Dr Paula Gilliam, asked if I had any concerns I told her about them. She said we could try a womb strengthening technique. Nothing to loose right?  I so like that there are no negative side effects. She put 5 little pins in my tummy.  I felt the usual surge of energy. It’s amazing to me how she knows when a pin is in the right place and how my body responds to them but, I didn’t expect much in real results for this.

On my way out, I spoke to the receptionist and she asked how I was doing.  I told her, too.  She said that she’d had several surgeries and that it just took time, and that my body was telling me that I need to rest more.  I felt better after talking to her, except that my standing up minutes were ticking away and I was starting to feel the need to sit again.

On the way home, Joel (driving practice) and I stopped at Earth Fare. I can usually get in and out of Earth Fare in just a few minutes, but this time I was already tired; shower plus appointment doesn’t leave much time for shopping.

After about 10 minutes at Earth Fare, I started getting that feeling again, but instead of being overwhelmed by it, my muscles kicked in. It was amazing!  Like they had woken up out of a coma. They tightened up so tight that it felt like I was wearing a corset. They were holding everything in, instead of letting everything fall victim to gravity.

I still felt tired and plan to keep “listening to my body”and get the rest I need to heal, but I am so happy to have those muscles again. I called Dr. Gilliam right away to tell her about the miracle she’d worked. And I felt them working several times later that day and today, too.

Thank you, Jesus!

Jenny

Two Amazing God Things in One Week (part 1)

I love when I have great God stories to share.  
I have two this week.  Yay, God!
The first is
 Joel got a job!
All four kids have jobs now!
With a 30% unemployment rate for young people their age
and our lack of connections in our new town it is a real miracle.  
God is so good!
Joel just recently started applying for jobs,
because I was just recently well enough to drive.
He’s applied at 6 places so far.
Josh applied at many more places this summer before
landing a job at Pizza Inn a few weeks ago.
He is very happy with his job by the way.
He’s been making good tips delivering pizzas.
And even found the right house to deliver one pizza 
that had the wrong address and phone number.
One day last week, a local pizza place called and asked for Josh.
I handed him the phone then thought too late, 
“Oh, they are probably calling to offer Josh a job.”
As Josh was on the phone saying, 
“I’ve accepted a job at Pizza Inn.”
I thought, “Oh, no!  I should have told them about Joel.
If there’s a next time, that’s what I’ll do.”
On Sunday, during lunch, we had a family discussion over
if or not Joel should apply there.. it’s 20 min. from our house
and we weren’t sure if the commute would be worth it.
On Monday, the same pizza place called again. ??
Has to be a God thing.  Right?
This time I was wiser and asked if they were calling
Josh about a job.  When they said yes, I told them about how
Josh had a job now, but that I had another, younger
son who just graduated from high school who was looking for a job.
We talked for 20 minutes about homeschooling 
(he and his wife homeschooled a few years), where Joel 
was going to go to college etc. before he was ready to talk to Joel??
Joel went in the next day for an interview and was offered the job.
His boss told him to tell me that he liked my resourcefulness.  🙂
Yay, God!
Joel had prayed that he would find a job fast, so he 
could focus on school and not be as distracted by looking for a job.
God was so kind to answer his prayer.
Joel is getting some driving practice in now.  
Driving me crazy.
He started improving a little yesterday.  
He’s learning how to get to work and school and back on unfamiliar roads.
It’s a lot to learn; speed limits, which lane where, and when and which way to turn.
Once I am comfortable that he’s comfortable, he’ll get his license. 
We are waiting to see if Judi is able to stay
on staff as a lifeguard during the fall before we
decide if or not we need another car.
I am not sure the three of us can share my van
if Judi has a job.  We’ll see.  We have 5 cars in the 
drive way now.  It would be nice if we could have James’
one car towed before we got a 6th car.
Love,
Jenny

Christmas Ornaments in July

For the last 12 years I’ve been buying the kids 
each an ornament at the after Christmas sales.  
For a while they enjoyed receiving them and hanging 
their individual ornaments on the tree, but the last couple of years 
they’ve decided that that decorating trees was a waste of time
and can’t understand why I would even buy them any. :-/
So last December, I decided that it was time to put away their ornaments 
and collect some ornaments for myself and have a more grown up tree.
I got 20 of these ornaments at Trees and Trends 80% off on New Years weekend.
I like the colors because it goes with the soft colors in my home.
I knew I wanted to make some ornaments that were centered around Jesus;
 nativities and/or had the names of Jesus on them, so I started looking ideas on how to 
make them and started studying my collection of lists of His names.
I decided to make quilted ones because I love to hand sew 
and thought they would last a long time (maybe survive the pets). 
At first, I thought I would embroider His names on them,
but quickly decided that it would be faster/easier 
to print them on the computer.
I designed 5 different styles of ornaments using Photo Shop on my computer.  
I am making 5 of each ornament shape with different names 
so that I will have 25 in all and around 150 of Jesus’ names.
The kid’s first reaction was, “They are so big.”  They are about the size of my hand.
I wanted the print to be easy to read standing a few feet from the tree.  
And I’d found so many names that I loved, so they had to be big enough to hold them all.
I’ve completed the first 5. I pieced the first 10 together before
our trip to Alaska so I could work on them on the planes.
It’s taking a lot of fiddling to decide on how to embellish them.
I am not sure I am in love with how they turned out.  It will be strange 
to see them on the tree this coming December (I hope I get them all done).
I am working on embellishing the second set of 5 now.
They are more centered around Jesus as the Lamb of God and have a little lamb 
at the bottom instead of a cross that I am trying to decide how to embellish.
 Maybe they won’t survive the pets.  🙂
 Maybe I should be looking into getting some cat/dog repellant.
Love,
Jenny

Church and Moving Friends

I made it back to church today. Yay!
It was such a great service, too.  I am so glad I didn’t miss it.
Worship was awesome!  Sitting during worship wasn’t too weird.
Pastor Carol’s sermons are always awesome.
She preached about fixing our eyes on Jesus so we can see clearly with eyes of faith.

I had wanted to go all week;
missed a women’s meeting Thursday night
because I was wiped out from shopping at Costco
and took a nap instead.

It only takes me about 25 minutes to shop until I drop.

I had a hard time finding something that fit comfortably
other than the maternity shorts that I’ve been wearing.
My stretchiest pants fit way more snugly
than they did a couple of weeks ago.. swelling.

Later, I realized that I could have worn a dress
with no waist and been more comfortable.
Good idea for next week.

I got to wear this new necklace that my friend Tonya gave me yesterday.
Thank you, Tonya. 🙂

She is one of two of my homeschooling friends
who is moving away this summer.
I’ve don’t have many friends here so
I am taking the moving news pretty hard.

 

Tonya made this necklace from a smashed Tinkerbell penny.
She is crazy about collecting smashed pennies from her travels.
 

She has a blog called the Traveling Praters, where she writes about homeschooling and her traveling adventures.

Most of the field trips we’ve attended since moving here, Tonya put together. She has the coolest ideas and I have yet to find out her secret for  finding such great places to visit.  Maybe she’ll tell us on her blog soon.

She and my other moving friend, Lee Ann, and I have similar homeschool/parenting philosophies, and have felt very blessed to have each other’s support and friendship. Lee Ann and I met while living in Florida and I eventually followed her here, where she introduced me to Tonya.  🙂

I am so thankful to have known Tonya and Lee Ann; my life is so much richer for it.  I guess it’s like the saying, “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”

It has taken a long week to be able to say that.  Just yesterday, I was thinking about how I still haven’t fully recovered from our last move and haven’t really been fully sharing my heart with the few friends I do have here.. and how that didn’t do me any good because my heart was still broken to see them go.  I know better, but knowing and doing are two different things.

I am very thankful for all the ways we have to keep in touch these days; free long distance, e-mail, Facebook and our blogs all help to take away a little of the sting. And these two are moving to states we’d like to visit in the next couple of years, so maybe we’ll even get to see them in person before too long.

Mostly I am thankful to know that God is with them wherever they go and will lead them and guide them And has a great future planned for them and their families.

Okay, I am crying now.. but glad to have my eyes fixed on Jesus and to see more clearly with eyes of faith and not be as focused on my loss/pain as I was yesterday.

Now you know, I write so I don’t have to pay to see a therapist.

Love,

Jenny

 

The Law: Nailed to the Cross

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I love Pastor Prince because he teaches what
most pastors will not; what I believe to be the true gospel;

the gospel based on the Word, on Jesus’ finished work,
on grace and freedom from condemnation;
the gospel that really is good news.
My DVR is full of Joseph Prince teachings.  
Every time I watch an episode, I come away mouth gaping; 
feeling full and excited about Jesus,
about how much He loves me,
and how much grace God has provided for us.
It still blows my mind that GRACE is the MEAT of the Word.
One thing I love about Joseph Prince is that 
I almost never catch him taking a verse out of context. 
When it sounds too good to be true,
he will show you from the Hebrew/Greek 
exactly what the words mean/say.
I love it!
This week I saw this verse in a new light.
(Pastor Prince’s teaching was much better/fuller than I can share here,
but I’ll try to share just a tidbit of what Holy Spirit 
is helping me to understand from this one verse.)
Colossians 2:13-14  (NKJV)
13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us,
which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way,
having nailed it to the cross.

A. We were dead; He made us alive with Him.
B. Wiped out the “handwriting of requirements” – Whose handwriting?  
His own handwriting; the law; the 10 commandments written with His finger.
C. The law was “against us”, “contrary to us”.  It does not help us.  
The Holy Spirit alone is our helper.
D.  “He has taken it out of the way”.. The law stands in the way of our relationship with God; it condemns us (Jesus does not).
It makes us feel either guilty or prideful (when we fool ourselves into believing we are keeping it).  
We run from God when we feel guilty.  
God stands against us when we are prideful.
E. “Nailed to the cross,”  “forgiven”.. both past tense.  
We live in the present!  Hallelujah! Where we are forgiven and where 
there is nothing left between us and God.  
We are free to draw near in boldness.  The only requirement is: believe.
Part of the reason I never “saw” this verse before is because other versions
have translated it differently.  True grace is so beyond our comprehension that 
translators think it must mean something else than what it actually says.

I still love this verse from Galatians.

Galatians 3:1-2 (MSG)

  1 You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken 
leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it’s obvious that 
you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. 
His sacrifice on the cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.
2-4Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin?
Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding
to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness?
For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts
what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough
to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through
this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss,
but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

I am so happy to be free from the law;
from condemnation; the power of sin and death;
To have the Holy Spirit leading and directing and perfecting me;
To have the Sabbath Rest that He promised;
the rest that leans on, believes in and trust fully in Jesus and His work;
to have the true JOY of my salvation.. and so much more.

James’ Guide to Car Ownership (x2)

Day 1: Spend 8 hrs. shopping around town with Dad for a used car.
Buy great car with all the extras and 170,000 miles.
Arrive home with new car; watch engine light come on.
Week 1: Spend close to $1,000 on repairs and new tires.
Week 2: Have fancy car stereo put in.
Week 3: Total new car on the way to church.  🙁 
Thank God that no one was hurt.
Wait for the police and tow truck; fill out reports; deal with insurance.
Get an awesome raise at work for being such a wonderful employee.
Week 4: Shop with Dad for another used car.
Find a newer car with fewer miles and fewer gadgets.
 Hope that the title for your totaled car comes in soon so you can sell it to the junk yard.
 Tell your mom that if she blogs about this, 
that she better mention that she totaled her mom’s car when she was his age.
Sorry, Mom.
J

Making Strides

I am feeling more energetic now that I am off antibiotics
and 5 weeks into my recovery.  Yay!

Moving from feeling happy to be alive to mad at the kids for
leaving my laundry in the dryer to wrinkle.. is a good sign.

My pet peeve meets their lack of training.. 🙂
Last week I was too weak to be mad.

I am still having to be careful not to do too much..
Trip to Birmingham and back on Tuesday
wiped me out and left me sore yesterday.

My stretches/exercises are coming along slowly.
Judi has her first real shift at the YMCA this week.
I am looking forward to going in with her
sometime soon and using a tread mill.
Not sure how long I’d last.. but at least I can get started.

I am still afraid of people bumping into me in a crowd,
so we’ll see how that goes.

Love,

Jenny

 

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