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Surrounded by Love

December 28, 2012 — Leave a comment

Christmas might be over but we are still celebrating all that this time of year can bring… family members visiting, naps in the middle of the day, snowy mornings, the glow of the fireplace,

Just a little excited to open his present!

Just a little excited to open his present!

game nights and new toys scattered about the house. Right now it is quiet in the house. Eli is taking his nap and Chase went to see The Hobbit with his parents. I gladly stayed behind to get a little “me” time. So what do I choose to do during my free time? Laundry and writing, what a good combo, right?

This Christmas was a little different though, not only was it my first one since being diagnosed but Lupus also made an appearance! That’s right, I was in a flare up! I went to bed Sunday night and tossed and turned all night aching and then Christmas Even morning my flare was in full swing. I have to say it was pretty upsetting to feel like poo during all of Christmas. I had my usual hip, knee and back pains, along with fatigue. But this flare was different, I had a new symptoms… my ankles were so achy I could barely stand to put weight on them. So with that I found myself on the couch with a heating pad around my ankles. It was definitely a little disappointing. I even got a little emotional about everything on the drive home. I didn’t want to be a downer let alone spoil anyone’s fun. But, then I think back to the last couples of days and think about how incredibly blessed I am! Not once during my flare up did I have to worry about cooking, doing the dishes or any of the clean up. The amazing women in our family took charge as I rested on the couch. And speaking of that… no one cared that I was sprawled on the living room furniture! I may have felt bad but I didn’t want to miss any of the excitement that Eli was having over his new toys! And let me tell you he was having a ball! I can still picture his face as he was opening presents!

When I think about the past few days all I feel is gratitude. I might have Lupus and sometimes it might make an appearance on a special day that I so badly wished it wouldn’t. But, my God has given me more than I could imagine! He has given me the love and support of my amazing family! I don’t have to let my bad days define me! Instead I can take joy in knowing that on those bad days God has given me people who I can turn to for help. Wow, what a blessing that is!

December, oh how I love you! It brings colder weather, Chase’s birthday, snow on occasion and the Christmas season! It really is my favorite time of the year! The joys of bundling up with a good book in hand while the fireplace sends off it’s warmth, decorating the Christmas tree, shopping for loved ones in wonderfully decorated stores that are playing those catchy Christmas tunes. And you can’t forget all the fun Christmas movies that are always a great addition to this time of year! There is only one thing that puts a damper on this glorious season… STRESS! We all get stressed from time to time. Those packed shopping malls can be the cherry on top of a stressful sundae. You all know what I am talking about… the crowded walk ways that no one can ever get through without feeling squished. Then there are all the other stresses that can come around this time… budgeting for presents. We all want to be able to afford to give everyone we love something nice for Christmas, but on a nice fee-sable budget The last thing anyone wants is to give a gift that screams budget.

While most of these things are never really that big of a deal, when the moment comes that we feel overwhelmed the stress has finally come and everything is a big deal! Here is a confession… when I am stressed chocolate and I are best friends-especially Reese’s peanut buttercups! I know, this is a terrible habit to form. It’s either the chocolate or crying. Well this month I am attempting to tackle this issue! Month two of my Searching for Simplicity began this week and I am doing the stress fast. Yes, I am well aware that I can not prevent from stressful situations coming my way, but that is not the point of this fast. This month is all about being intentional in how we respond to stress, making it a habit to run to God in prayer instead of our typical responses.

This fast is all about setting aside seven times in my day for prayer, praying over specific subjects during each prayer time. Currently my alarms are set for midnight, 6:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.! Yes that’s right, my alarm is set for midnight! It won’t be easy, but already in the first week I am amazed at what I have begun to learn about myself, but that I will share with you another time!

 

Photo Credit: Allie Caulfield

Month one, the clothing fast has now come to a close. I can’t believe how quickly it came and went. I’m looking back on those four weeks at all that God taught me and I am thankful. I honestly wasn’t really sure just how much I was going to get out of a clothing fast. I thought that I would only be revealed that I have more than I need. While this was definitely a point that was brought to my attention He didn’t stop there. I learned a lot about myself and I was reminded of points that I had allowed myself to forget. Here are a few things that I learned during my clothing fast.

  1. Tic-Toc Goes the Clock. I did not realize until this fast that I spend WAY too much time deciding what I want to wear. I will stand in my closet just staring at my clothes (confession, sometimes I get tired and I sit on the closet floor). My problem is that I over think it– I might get cold in this… I just wore that last week… that shirt just isn’t that comfortable… and on it goes. During the fast you know what I did? I got up, grabbed one of my seven designated clothing items and BAM! That was that! No fuss, no wasting time, just quick and to the point.   

    photo

    My closet overwhelmed me the first day after this fast!

  2. Cha-Ching. Many items in my closet have been passed on to me, but not all. The point that came to me is just how much money I wasted. Think about it, I am sure that I am not the only one who has multiple pairs of jeans, several cardigans and numerous pairs of shoes. Every item has a price tag. Some might have been on sale… maybe $5 and others more pricey. No matter how you look at it, every item in my closet was money out of my pocket. (This isn’t to say that new items can’t ever be purchased, just put a little thought into it and make sure it is an item that will be used many times and the money would be worth spending.)
  3. The What If’s. I have countless items that I have not worn for at least a year just hanging there, taking up space and getting rejected every morning  Why do I keep these items that I know I have NOT worn and probably will NOT wear? I admit I tend to hold on to it because maybe, just maybe I will wake up one day and want to wear it… it’s the clothing “what ifs” that lurk in my closet! I’ve decided that if it has been at least a year and the clothing has gone unworn then it is time to part our ways.. no more what ifs!
  4. Dress to Impress. When I find myself having trouble picking out something to wear I realized, am I dressing to impress…. myself or everyone else? Does it really matter what other people think of my outfit? No, all that matters is what I think of myself and if I put together an outfit that reflects my style and personality then that is what is important.
  5. Use and Reuse. Confession: I re-wear my jeans a couple of times before I wash them. Yikes, I said that out-loud! I did this even before the fast. But it never occurred to me that this was remotely possible for shirts/cardigans. Apparently it is. Does anyone notice? Nope. Now obviously clothing does get dirty and smelly, but unless that is the case people have no idea. I’ll be honest, I do not intend on continuing this with my shirts now that the fast is over, but I definitely learned that this was possible and the world won’t end.
  6. Just a little Stain. I’m messy! I learned this about myself early in life but it was definitely amplified during this month when I continued to spill food on my very limited wardrobe. I think it is time for me to face the facts and make a conscious effort to be more careful when I eat.
  7. Take Notice. I think it is human nature for us to think that other people think about us more than what is actually true. The fact of the matter is that people think about me and my wardrobe far less than I would tell myself is the case… like when I am picking out clothing for the day and I tell myself that I just wore that last week, the truth is i am probably the only one who will remember that! And honestly if people do notice your clothing it’s not very often someone is going to tell you that you just wore that item… no one said that to me and I had bright, pretty obvious shirts that I continued to repeat.
  8. Less IS More. I survived an entire month on seven articles of clothing and you know what I realized? The world continues, nothing fell apart, and I am satisfied with far less than what I have. The closet full of clothing is a blessing that I do not take lightly anymore, but I can live on a fraction of what is in that closet and be satisfied.
  9. Give More. With this new realization that I can have a wardrobe made up of far less than what I actually have and the numerous items going unused in my closet I want to give away these items more often. Why hoard my clothing for the what ifs? Instead give them to someone who needs them more than I do. I am also finding myself wanting to simply reduce my wardrobe to find a more simple closet not filled with excess. This closet will be purged!
  10. Carry on Luggage. We went on vacation during this fast and you know what I figured out? I always OVER pack! There is simply no reason for me to bring as much stuff as I usually do. Toss a few items in a bag and be done with it! Hand washing an item in a hotel sink if it gets dirty is not the worst thing and it certainly will not ruin the vacation. Less luggage is very freeing on a trip!

Month one has come to a close and now it’s time to begin the next fast of this journey. Month two- the stress fast, spending seven times a day in prayer and reflection to focus less on stress. This begins on Monday!

Little guy watching cartoons while sick

The stomach bug has made its appearance in our home. It all started on Wednesday when I got a call from Eli’s preschool saying that he was sick. I picked him up and decided that since he had this bug it would be good to have some pedialyte in the house for him. With us being a one car family and Chase was already at work I figured now was the best time to go get it because we were already out and what if he got worse later in the day and it wouldn’t be practical to get back out. So with that I pulled into the neighborhood Wal-Mart that was on our way home and headed inside. I didn’t make it two steps inside before he started throwing up, yes I am aware that this might be to much of a painted picture for some… but hey, we are all moms so we all deal with this. Anyways, I managed to keep everything contained and not get any on the floor, you’re welcome Wal-Mart! I darted for the bathroom where he could finish throwing up, because yes it was still coming. After that I cleaned up the mess we made and cleaned us up the best possible and then decided that although I seemed to be a little like superwoman just then, I would like some help. This would be when I called Chase explaining to him everything that happened and asked him if I could swing by his office, grab him to help us get home and then he could go out and get the pedialyte while I cleaned Eli and I up. The awesome hubby that he is was watching for me out his office window and came right out as soon as I pulled up. He then managed to help us get inside, cleaned up and went to the store and back all before returning back to work. What a blessing that man is!

I call my Wal-Mart trip my worst decision ever! I mean it seemed like the best idea at the time, what else was I supposed to do? Being a one car family and I had the car this was the most logical idea, or so it seemed to me. I know that I can’t be the only one who made a similar terrible decision that at the time seemed so great. If you are reading this and saying how crazy this entire situation is then you probably have never been puked on, well your day will come. Trust me! Every parent will get this experience, mine just happened to be in public. For the rest of you, your probably reading this with a slight chuckle in your throat because you have experienced something very similar yourself. Then there are probably some of you reading this that do not have kids yet and I totally just grossed you out. Don’t worry, puke is puke, it is gross no matter what, BUT when it is your kid the gross factor is secondary to their helplessness and their need for you. So if you don’t have kids yet, don’t fret because when your day comes you will be able to handle yourself like superwoman, that is just what moms do in these situations!

And just to add a side note, in the time it took to finish this post Chase has now come down with the stomach bug as well, I guess it’s only time before superwoman gets it too…

I have so many wonderful memories of my childhood… vacations, church camp, sportting events and the like. Those are cherrished memories that I have and now as as mom I love knowing that each day is an opportunity for me to make those memories with my family. What memories are you making today?

“Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.”  Oscar Wilde, “The Importance of Being Earnest”

“We do not remember days; we remember moments.” Cesare Pavese, The Burning Brand

“God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.”  J.M. Barrie, Courage, 1922

“Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.”  The Wonder Years (TV Show, 1988)