Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Bittersweet Season

Since Joel and I have been married, we've been separated plenty for important dates and events...(I started to list them and then got depressed seeing them glaring at me, so I deleted them)...   But with all the birthday's, anniversaries, and holiday's, Joel's always been in-country for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Now, that's not to say that we've celebrated every Thanksgiving and Christmas together - but we've at least seen each other for a bit during those days before he had to go work at the base.  (No, civilians, military bases do not shut down on holidays...  but that's a rant for another day)  *sigh*

I knew that this Season would be hard.  I knew that I would have to be extra cheerful for the girls, so that it is special for them and so they don't feel that there's a big Daddy-sized hole missing.  The word that keeps popping in my mind as I think about what I'm feeling during this time is bittersweet.  This season, for me, is both pleasant yet painful. 

After 8 years of Thanksgivings and Christmases together, Joel and I have our routine, our traditions and our roles: 
- I make the stuffing that he loves. 
- He bakes a pumpkin pie, because I hate to bake. 
- He grumbles as he pulls all of my Christmas stuff out of the garage and asks me every year, why I need so many decorations.
-I drag him to store after store to look at more Christmas stuff
- He sets up the tree while I decorate the house
-We listen to Christmas music as we decorate (his pick is Bing Crosby while I have to fight him to let me put in Josh Groban)
- I watch him from the window as he sets up our deer outside
- I then listen to him rant as he has to fix a broken deer and replace bulbs on said deer
- After the decorating is done, we sit on the couch and cuddle with just the light from the tree
- He watches Grace so I can wrap all the presents at once
- Grace and Joel decorate a gingerbread house together
- I look forward to seeing what ornament Joel ordered from New Hampshire with all of our names inscribed on it

I love our holiday routines.  And this year is obviously different.  I got all the boxes out of the garage and got things set up as the girls napped over a 3 day period.  Then Grace helped me to decorate the small tree this year, because the big tree was too much for me to do without Joel here.  The house looks as cozy as it always does around this time of year, but it feels different. 

I promise you that I'm trying to be cheerful.  I love Christmas - it's my favorite holiday.  I love that I get to see Autumn's eyes grow big as she sees the lights on the tree and her stocking hanging from the mantle.  I love that I get the chance, once again, to tell Grace about a tiny little baby that came to earth to do great things for us.  It's still a magical time, because the meaning of this season didn't change because Joel's overseas. 

So, I'm focusing on Christ and trying not to focus on the emptiness that I feel with Joel being gone during this time.  We have much to be thankful for, and I'm thrilled to spend this time with my two girls, who help me to find joy in the simple things that Christmastime brings.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In

I've intentionally ignored my weekly Wednesday Weigh-In post.  There hasn't been anything exciting to update you all on as I haven't lost weight these last two week.  I still have four pounds to go in order to meet my 25 pound goal.  I even had the stomach flu this week and yet, the scale didn't budge.  The stomach flu.  Hello?  That's frustrating.  I was sure the stomach flu was going to at least have one positive present for me.

So, tomorrow's Thanksgiving - my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are cooking this year, so I can only imagine that the food will be amazing!  My plan is to enjoy everything, but not to over-indulge.  We'll see... I'm a sucker for mashed potatoes.  And pie.  And bread.  Uh, I'm in trouble.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Surprise Homecoming (Not Ours)

Ellen did an amazing thing for Thanksgiving by reuniting a soldier with his family for Thanksgiving.  Make sure to have tissues on hand if you're anywhere as emotional as I am.... This was really touching and I must admit that although I'm completely thrilled for this family, I still kinda wish I were in her shoes.

Oh, and if you're wondering, yes, I did just discover how to embed video.  That's why we have this going on in the last two posts.  Don't judge.  Just love.

Monday, November 22, 2010

My Anthem

1.  a song, as of praise, devotion or patriotism
2.  a piece of sacred vocal music, usually with words taken from the Scriptures

There are times in life when a song does the best job of summing up the state of my heart.  I have a list of songs that over the years, have had a place to help me celebrate, mourn and heal.  Just a few days after Joel left, I head a Bebo Norman song on the radio that I've enjoyed in the past, but suddenly it rang true to my heart.  I've been listening to it over and over again - often in tears - and sometimes, in the backseat of the car, I can hear Grace singing along.

So, for those who feel broken, empty, tired or afraid, maybe this anthem that has helped me, will ring true for your soul, too.

I'd love for you to share an "anthem" of yours either past or present!

Friday, November 19, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Thanks Wife of a Sailor!

1.If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs – such as food and water – were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?

1) My ESV study Bible & 2) Chapstick
2.If you were a salad, what kind of dressing would you have?
Ranch.  Everybody loves it, so therefore, everyone would love ME!

3.If you had to live on a ranch, what kind of animals would you raise/own?
Sheep.  They are so cute!

4.If your life was was portrayed as a movie, who would you choose to play you and your significant other?
Wentworth Miller would play Joel, because he has the Joel-scowl down pretty well.  And for me (only because I've been told a bunch that I kinda look like her) would be Angelina Jolie.  Of course, Angelina would have to put on about 40 pounds.

5.What was the last thing you put a stamp on (envelope, duh, but what was in the envelope)?
Oh, I wish I could share... but it's a bit of a surprise and some of the people who read this will be receiving it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My Body Battle

There is a reason why I only pull out the scale once a week before my Wednesday Weigh-In posts.  My desire to be "healthy" can become unhealthy and very compulsive without much warning.

Control is the name of the game for me.  It still is.  When life seems out of control, there are a few things that I can easily manage, and food is one of them.  Somehow knowing that I have self-control with what goes in my mouth helps me think, believe and feel that the craziness of life is a little bit more manageable.  Every time life gets tough, I turn to food either as a way to seek comfort or a way to "manage" things that are unmanageable.

College became, for me, the time of constant transition.  Starting school, beginning new friendship, forging an identity outside of my family, deciding a career path...  Everything was new and different, and hard.  I mean really hard.  I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I found myself suddenly playing the part of adult.  My parents weren't there to make decisions for me.  My friends were hours away and I felt out of my element.  So, I jumped head first into controlling my food - not with the intention of losing weight.  Eating as little as possible made the worries and stresses seem a little less difficult.

Over the next year or so, I would go back and forth with periods of hardly eating and then whatever weight I lost during that time, would quickly come back.  During my sophomore year, I was feeling alone and depressed after transferring to a new college and food, once again, became my means toward finding normalcy.  I remember that for about a month, all I ate was iceberg lettuce with a bit of ranch dressing for flavor and cereal bars.  To wash it down, I'd drink Coke.  Lots of Coke.  So, without much in my stomach except for Coke, I had constant heartburn and I would wash down Tums, with well, more Coke.  When I wasn't doing stuff for school or busy with other activities I would run at night.  And not just a jog around the block, but a hard run, until the world started to spin.  It was my way of beating myself up for the fact that I felt out of control.  I dropped about 20 pounds in about 2 months during that time.

The summer that Joel and I met was a stressful time for me.  My plan was to finish my Senior year as a part time student so that I could work more and save up money.  So, the summer before my senior year, I had signed up to do a full-time internship as well as two independent PE classes.  I would work 32 hours a week and then have school work to turn in for my internship as well as many hours of workouts and homework for my PE classes.  If I wasn't working or hanging out with friends, I was running.  I started losing weight quickly because I had to put in about 7 hours of workouts a week just to fulfill my class requirements, and I was working out more in addition to that.  I felt overwhelmed with the amount of responsibilities I had during that time - exercise was no longer making me feel as in control, so I started to purge.  Purging somehow made that overwhelmed feeling go away for a while.  All the stress, anxiety and feeling not good enough went away when my stomach felt totally empty.

Toward the end of that summer, I got really good at purging and could do it within just a few moments of trying.  I would lie to my roommates  when they'd ask me what was going on and just tell them that I had a nervous stomach.  But one day, my best friend came into the bathroom while I was getting sick and asked me why I was doing this to myself.  I said something to the effect that I couldn't help it.  But with her persistence I finally told her it was the only way that life felt better for me.  All of my stress and anxiety over not doing well enough in my studies, disappointing my professor and realizing that my college experience was ending soon - it all felt better when I dumped those feelings into the toilet.  Somehow.  Twisted logic, I know.

So, exercising and purging became my medicine.  It cured my anxiety and my stress. I got thin - probably the thinnest I had been since junior high.  I felt great, in control and ready to finish college strong.  Joel and I started dating during this time and I struggled hiding what was going on.  Soon he found me hunched over the toilet and asked me what I was doing.  I told him the same lie that I told my friend and I think he bought it for a while.

I felt empty and ashamed.  I knew what damage I was doing to myself.  It was reckless and unhealthy.  I knew who God made me to be and I knew what I was doing couldn't fit into that plan.  Not only what I hurting my body, I was hurting my relationship with God - because as long as I took "control", God couldn't have the place in my life that He deserved.

"For your formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works;
my souls knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, everyone one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you."
 - Psalm 139:13-18
God made me perfect.  Nothing I could do could ever add to that.   He wanted to be Lord of my life and for years, I had taken that role upon myself.  I controlled everything and I could finally see the damage from my work.  My compulsive need to control food, purge and exercise to beat myself up had made me worn and tired.   Perfection is hard to maintain and the mask it requires you to wear is burdensome.
So, over a period of time, I stopped wearing that mask.  I realized that those who were supposed to love me the best would love me even when I wasn't perfect.  I needed to love me even though I wasn't perfect, too.  And most importantly, I had to remember that God never expected perfection from me.
"But he said to me,
'My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.'
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 
- I Corinthians 12:9
I still struggle with control.  Ask my husband... he could go on and on about this one.  And I know I will probably always, in some way, be tempted to take my weight to the extreme with hopes that it will make me feel like I have it together.  But, see, I have these two precious girls in my life.  They will someday notice how I talk about food, my weight and exercise.  Those two little girls will either see their momma talk about those things and treat them in a healthy way or in a destructive way.  I hope Grace and Autumn never go down the path of self destruction like I did.  I hope they learn, at an early age, that God made them perfect.  It's my job as their mother to help them understand that truth and it's a job I take very seriously.  Those two little girls are my accountability - and I'm so thankful for that.

Friday, November 12, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Thanks, Wife of a Sailor!

1.Were you named after anyone?
I only have a completely foggy memory of this.  But, yes, my parents named me after a Jill they knew through church-connections from the Chicago-area.  I remember that I met her once, briefly, as a child, but I can't say I really know anything about her.

2.What color, if any, are your toenails usually painted?
I usually go for a variation of red - either really bright in the summer or really dark during the rest of the year.

3.How do you flush a public toilet? Hands? Feet? Something else?
Feet, as often as possible.  Except for those tricky bathrooms that have a round push button on the wall.  I've nearly fallen over on the floor trying to manage those with just one foot.

4.When you were a little kid, which TV character did you have a crush on?
I thought Ricky from Silver Spoons was so cute!

5.Let’s say you had to lose one of your five senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell). Which one would you choose? Why?
Smell.  Only because it seems that it would be the least life-altering. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

By His Heart

Joel deployed 126 days ago.  126 mornings without his girls to wake up to.  126 days without being able to hold his two little ones.  He is thousands of miles from a life he left behind so he could serve.  Joel and so many other soldiers are thousands of miles away from those they love.  They eat, sleep and sweat war and a mission that is bigger than any of us could imagine.  They fight so that we can lay our heads down at night in peace.  They fight so that we can go about what we consider to be busy and stressful lives.  They fight so that their loved ones will have a secure future.  They fight so that people who are strangers to them can be free.

Thousands of miles away from home, Joel is at work with a tiny flag in his breast pocket.  The flag is close to his heart, and he serves, like so many thousands of soldiers today, to maintain the freedom that our flag represents.

To those who serve today and to those who served in the past - thank you.  Thank you for your sacrifice, your unwavering commitment and your drive to keep us safe and our future secure.  We honor you today and we pray for you always.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Retailers Cheapen Tomorrow's Meaning

I'm not going to rant tomorrow on Veteran's Day - so I'll do it today instead.

I know I'm a bit biased, being a wife of a veteran...  But I HATE Veteran's Day sales and advertising.  Seriously, I have to change the channel every time a Macy's Veteran's Day sale pops on TV flashing images of shoes, jewelry and coats with the U.S. flag streaming in the background.  A few years back I was shopping at Macy's on Veteran's Day and asked the lady who checked me out if they offered a Veteran's discount.  She looked at me like I had just asked her if they sold llamas or something.  Like it would be so absurd to assume with all the red, white and blue balloons and streamers all over the store, that they were actually acknowledging that Veteran's Day meant something more to them than a discount and their bottom line.

Joel and I never expect to get any advantages because of his military status and his deployment history.  His service is just that, a service.  I love that some companies like Disney and Applebees, honor veterans and their families with a free meal or discounts on vacation packages.  I think that's really thoughtful and even though we've never taken advantage of those offers, I respect those companies for reaching out to those who've served in a tangible way.

I wrote Macy's and told them what I thought about their advertising.  I didn't get a response and I didn't expect one.  But tomorrow, on Veteran's Day, I will write them again and next  year, I'll do the same. 

Wednesday Weigh-In

Happy Wednesday to you all!  Another kinda sad day of weight gain for me - just one pound, though, this week.  I know everyone has a bit of weight fluctuation, so I'm trying not to to beat myself over being up a pound this week.  Trying.  So, I now have 4 more pounds to meet my goal.

I know I said last week that I intended to talk this week about some of my body image struggles.  And I absolutely intend to!  It just seems that this very broad and very personal topic has been hard for me to write about.  Every time that I've sat down to write about it, my thoughts are all over the place.  So, I just need another day or two (I hope) and I'll try to get back on it and write again.  I promise!  Honestly, my past body image struggles completely affect how I deal with my current goals toward health and weight loss, so I really want to talk about it!

Friday, November 5, 2010

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Thanks, Wife of a Sailor for another great list of questions.

1.A different twist on last week’s question. This week, the first question is: what’s the nicest thing a MILSPOUSE has ever done for you? (brought to you from navy_smurfette)
Honestly, I've been really touched by the unique ways that military wives have come out to support and encourage me.  One particular MilSpouse comes to mind, however.  A sweet lady that goes to my church is a "retired MilSpouse".  A few weeks ago, she gave me a newspaper clipping and this is what it said:
"Although my husband's status has changed, I still consider myself a military spouse, and I must say this: Military spouses are not government-issued, and they are one of a kind that never goes away or ever fades away.  Our love does not come once a year on Valentine's Day.

To all the readers of Stars and Stripes around the world, may you be comforted as I have with these words.  'Fear thou not, for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.' - Isaiah 40:10.

With courage, purpose and devotion from the depth of our hearts in supporting those who serve our country, I know we'll continue.  May God's grace and unfailing love comfort you day by day."

2.How often do you drive faster than the speed limit?
Well, I'm from Chicago where speed limits are really just treated as suggestions.  So, there you go.

3.Did you have a nickname in school? If so, what was it?
Thanks to a classmate if 4th grade, Kitty Litter stuck around for a while, from a play on my maiden name.

4.If your life was a book, what would the title be and how would it end?
"My Journey Toward Contentment"
I would hope the book would end with my will finally submitting to God's.  And I know that's an incredibly broad statement, but as I look back and what I've gone through at this point in life, my struggle has always been contentment and I hope that someday I will let go of that struggle and rest, I mean really rest, in God's perfect plan for my life.

5.Look back (in your planner if you have one) to September 14th… what did you do that day?
September 14th was day 68 of this deployment and I had a stress echo scheduled at 12:45 pm.  Yeah, that was a fun day.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Baby's 6 Months!

Autumn turned 6-months just a few weeks ago.  My baby's growing up!  She's now rolling over from both her belly and her back.  She's holding on to toys better and is for-sure a mommy's girl.  Autumn's such an easy-going baby and I'm so blessed by her.

Here are a few pictures I had done last week.  She's currently working on four teeth, so she wasn't thrilled to be there and she wasn't giving smiles that day.  But she's even cute while grumpy.

My friend, Stephanie, made the tutu for Autumn.  She has a fan page on Facebook called Cutie Pie Accessories.  Look her up!

Wednesday Weigh-In

This week was just so-so with eating for me.  I managed to share one brownie out of an entire pan with Grace and I think I've eaten my weight this week in hummus.  Seriously, that stuff is good.  But, I did manage to still lose one pound this week.  That makes the total weight loss since Joel deployed (118 days ago) to 22 pounds and I have 3 more to go to make it to my goal weight.  Woo-Hoo!

A few weeks back, I saw my doctor about another issue and asked her about what she think my ideal weight would be... Well, as of today, I'm at that weight!  It feels great to know that I'm healthy and I do feel so much better about myself.

On my next Wednesday Weigh-In post, I want to share some about my own struggles with body image and how I try to keep that balanced now with my venture toward personal health.  So, be on the look-out for that.

Happy Wednesday to you all... cute baby pictures are coming soon!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Go Vote!

It's Election Day and I hope you either plan to vote or did so already!!!  I remember how excited I was the first time I was able to vote and I still love the feeling of getting in the voting booth and pushing the button for my candidate.

This is an important election, and I hope that you get out and make your vote count today.  So many have fought and died for our freedom to do so.  We honor them by taking a few moments each year to help decide which direction our great country should go.

Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be.  - Sydney J. Harris

Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason. - Author Unknown