Friday, April 18, 2014

Managing with One Arm

Wow, it's been entirely too long since I have sat down and blogged. Life just gets busy and time goes by faster than you realize! I guess you could say this is a "busy season" for us. We have something going on every evening Sunday through Thursday, and then the weekend is, well... the weekend! Hence why I haven't found time to sit down and do a little writing. I don't really even know where to begin!

Work has been going well. We are moving into our busiest time of year... Summer! We've got all kinds of events coming up and trips to plan, interns to prepare for, "my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped." (1,000 points if you can name that classic movie!) But really, lot's of stuff going on!

So since I wrote my last post, I think a lot of people have been afraid to ask me how I'm doing... which wasn't my intention at all! I don't mind being asked that question. I just don't like that question when it's used in passing and you don't have time to hear how the other person is actually doing. I hope that makes sense! And I'm even trying to break myself of the habit of tossing it out without thinking. It's a hard habit to break!

I'm going to go ahead and answer that question here, mainly for myself so I can someday look back on this journey and remember things, but also for those of you who care about me :)

So, how am I? Okay, so this is a hard question to answer. It's strange when you have to think so hard about how you're doing... And I think the reason it's so hard is because I think I'm in a transitional period. I think I'm between "not okay" and "starting to become okay." Which is a really strange place to be. Oy, notice how many times I say "I think"..... I'm so unsure of how I'm doing!

But here is what I can relate it to. When my mom was in the midst of this long battle with cancer, the first year of her fight was "a breeze." What do I mean by that? That first year, it was so easy to answer the question, "How's your mom doing?" My response was always something along the lines of, "She's good! She feels good. She looks good. Not really having a lot of side effects from the chemo. Honestly, if you didn't know she has cancer and if she wasn't bald, you wouldn't know there was anything wrong. She's doing great!" But then as we entered into the second year of the fight, things slowly started to change. The doctors were switching her chemo around, trying all different avenues which all had different effects on her body, and I remember there came a day when someone asked me, "How's your mom doing?" And for the first time, I had to really stop and think about that question, and I realized.... "Um, she's actually not doing very well right now." I remember one of the first times I answered that question differently than the usual, "She's good." David and I were over at our friends' house, and I was sitting in the kitchen with Natasha. It was so strange to have to really think about my response before answering.

The following paragraph took me about 20 minutes to write. I'm sitting here at my kitchen table doing some major soul-searching, looking out the window, racking my brain about how on earth to answer this question...

And now, I find myself in sort of the same kind of situation. When asked, "How are you doing?" I have to really think about my response. Because for so long I haven't been "good." I haven't been "okay." For the past year, as I watched my mom's health decline and as I watched her enter into eternity, if I'm being completely honest, I've been angry. I've been bitter. I've been sad. Just completely sad. And now... yes those emotions still linger. I can still taste all those emotions. (pause for a few minutes) But I think things are starting to change. (pause for what seems like forever) Even as I typed that last sentence - "things are starting to change" - there is a tiny sense of guilt, no, not guilt... (pause for...however long) but something that feels like I shouldn't be allowed to start feeling "okay" or "good" again. Which I know is a total lie from the enemy. But I don't think you understand what I'm saying unless you've also walked this same road. Unless you had the relationship I had with my mom. It seems so wrong that a day could come when I could say that I'm "okay" without her here. Because the fact is, I don't think it will ever be "okay" that she isn't here. I will always want her. I will always miss her...(paaaaauuuuse)...

Okay, I think I'm getting somewhere. I think life is moving towards "manageable." I think I'm getting to the point where daily life is becoming somewhat "normal." But a completely new and different and gross sense of normal. I never wanted a "normal" without my mom. But these are the cards I've been dealt. And I can choose to cling to the reality of my past or the reality of my today. As much as I want to cling to the past, I know it won't do me any good. I've got to move forward. She would want me to move forward.

So, in a nutshell... How am I doing?

I think I can say that I am doing better,
and daily life is becoming more manageable.

But man, I miss her like crazy. More than words could ever, ever say. The grief and the sorrow hit me in waves now. In fact, I almost collapsed on the floor last night. Losing someone is like losing a limb. I feel like I've lost an arm. Not a day goes by that I don't notice my missing arm. In fact, it becomes more and more apparent and more real everyday that it's gone. But each day, I learn how to manage and get along a little better than the day before. The routine of daily life gets a little more manageable. I learn how to tie my shoes and drive my car. But there are days and events that come when I realize, "I really need both my arms for this." And it's those times that hurt the most. They don't come everyday, but when they come, it hurts. It causes my existing arm to become stronger, though that's not even what I really want. What I really want is just to have both arms back. I also realize that I will never be the same again. No matter how much I want to be the same or others want me to be the same, it's impossible. Everything I do is done differently now. I think twice about things that I never noticed before. I view the world through a different light. Not a bad light, just a different one. I will never be the same "Jordan" I once was. I will never have two arms again. But I will continue to learn how to manage with my one arm, and how to manage and live well.

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Fresh Start

Last Tuesday I took a deep breath as I walked back into my workplace into a newly decorated office which kicked my day off to a great start! The physical change brought a sense of newness and I feel has given me a fresh start. A new beginning. My dear friend Maegan (who I've talked about before) tackled the project, and it looks amazing! Another sweet friend, Ashely, painted the verse on my wall - one of my favorite details!

I love my fresh, new, cheery little office!


I also had a few surprise flower deliveries!

There were so many people who sent me texts saying they were praying for me and asking how my day was going. I really felt the Lord's favor and grace all over me through the love and care from the people around me. It was such a blessing!

However, Thursday morning started out a little differently. It was just one of those days where my mind was not in a good place. I was spiraling downhill quickly and couldn't get myself back up. As I pulled up to the office, I sat in my car for about 10 minutes trying to talk myself into walking inside. I finally pulled myself together and went in. It only took about 3 minutes, though, before I cracked and burst into tears as I talked with Dawn (our new assistant - who is really great by the way!) and another dear friend Kristy. It was a moment when really all I wanted was to be able to talk to my mom. I wanted to hear her voice. I wanted her advice. I wanted to feel her arms around me. I just needed my mom. But I am so thankful for the opportunity and for the conversation I was able to have with these two dear ladies. It was a beautiful moment of openness and fellowship that isn't often shared among believers. We held hands and they prayed over me, and in those moments of sharing and tears and prayer, the Lord brought a little bit of healing to my heart. He turned my "bad day" into a good one. He gave me the mercy and the grace I so desperately needed in the very moment I needed it.

So I would have to say that Week 1 back at work was a very good week! And so far, Week 2 has started off on the up side as well!

Thank you for all the prayers and encouragement that were sent my way!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Monday, March 31, 2014

How are you?

"How are you?" is probably the hardest question for me to answer right now - which is horrible considering it just so happens to be the question that gets tossed around out of "politeness" without actually wanting to hear peoples' genuine response. It's the question you ask people as you pass them in the grocery store without stopping to actually carry on a conversation. It's the question you ask that you really don't want an honest response to - if we're all being honest here.

And can I keep being honest? It's the question I wish people wouldn't ask me unless they're prepared to carry on at least a 5- or 10-minute conversation. I hate lying when I answer this question. And I try not to lie, so I typically answer with, "I'm okay," or "I'm alright," which is kind of true because if I'm in a position where I'm out in public running into people it must mean I'm "okay" enough to be standing there carrying on a somewhat normal conversation. What I'd really like to say is, "Well, I'm really struggling to keep a good perspective on life at the moment. I'm really struggling to try and not focus on things that are seen, but those things tend to blind me and suffocate me at times. I miss my mom more than I could ever put into words. Nothing seems right without her here, and I'm still pretty angry that she isn't here. There's a huge gaping hole in my heart. But.....I'm still getting through it. So I guess I'm okay." So instead of saying that mouthful because I know people don't really want to hear it or they would feel awkward if I spouted all that off, I settle with the last two words - "I'm okay." It just makes things easier I guess....for whoever is asking.

I'm not trying to sound cynical. I realize "how are you" is just part of our culture. I'm guilty of throwing it around, too. But when you're in a place where you can't easily answer "good," you just notice it more.

So anyway, today is the last day of March. Which means tomorrow I head back to work.

This has been a good month for me. I have enjoyed having the freedom to do with my days as I please. I have loved going to the gym and taking care of myself physically. Zumba is a new favorite of mine! I have enjoyed sitting down and listening to sermons about God's purpose in suffering. The Lord has begun to speak some beautiful truths into my spirit.

But as March has been coming to a close, I have felt anxiety bubbling up inside of me, slowly creeping its way into the corners of my mind and sucking away the joy that is so desperately trying to peek through. My mind is like a war zone. I know good is coming. I know joy isn't just reserved for the happy times in life - I can have joy now, but it's still so hard.

Each new day requires so much effort...
mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
And for that, I still feel so tired.

I was talking to my husband the other night, sorting through some different thoughts and emotions. It was one of those moments when all I could see were all the things I currently hate so much about life - which, honestly, is a really long list... Through talking to him, I realized how much I loved the approval of my mom. She was my biggest fan. She was my motivation for so many activities in my life. She was the one I wanted to show all of my latest projects. I was such a momma's girl. Was... No. I still am a momma's girl.

My mom was the person I loved most in this world. And when the person you love most is taken from you, it makes it really hard to want to stay here. I've never wanted heaven more than I do now.

I don't know how to end this post. I'm having a hard time gathering all my thoughts today.
I could talk about how I'm struggling to be content in this season.
I could talk about how I'm still struggling to fight for joy.
I could talk about how I'm afraid people are going to think, "Okay, she's had a month off. She should be good now," and forget that I'm still so broken and fragile.
I could talk about how my mind feels completely blank and yet frazzled at the same time right now.
I could try to wrap this all up in to a pretty package and make things seem a little better than they really are - which I honestly was hoping I could conclude the month of March with a great uplifting post. But reality is, she's only been gone for 3 months, and I don't have to be okay right now.

But if I wrote about all those things, this post would turn into a novel.
And I don't have the energy to do that.

I still need time, and I still need prayers. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for me. I will say this month hasn't been for nothing. It has been very good and much needed, but I'm not ashamed to say that there is still a lot of healing that still needs to take place. And I guess, as much as I hate to say it, the only medicine for that is time. More time and more grace.

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

20 Years Ago Today

20 years ago today, God began crafting a beautiful story for my family.

This is the day my Mom said, "I do" to Tony Pate. I was only 5 years old at the time (I have a hard enough time remembering the details of last week, let alone to details of something that took place 20 years ago), so my memories of that day are very vague. But I can tell you that God set our family on a track that has reaped blessing after blessing after blessing.

My Mom and Tony have such a beautiful love story. It's one that I have adored with all my heart. As I watched their love grow over the years, I could only hope that God would bless me with such a precious love between me and my own spouse one day.

I remember sitting in the back seat of the car watching them hold hands. I remember watching them stand in the kitchen and hug each other. I could see their love overflowing by the way they looked at each other. I never heard them fight a single day in my life. It was obvious they both esteemed each other as better than themselves. They loved serving one another. The loved taking care of one another. There was never a day I questioned their love. It's the kind of love you read about in storybooks, and I got to watch in unfold right before my eyes for nearly 20 years.






 I couldn't have asked for a better man to step into our family after losing my Dad in 1993. Since I was only 5 years old, Tony really is the only Dad I have ever known. He is the man who has raised me and taught me so many lessons. He is the man who has prayed for me and fought for me. He is the man who I thought was "so mean" when he wouldn't let me date certain boys in high school and even college. But he is now the man to whom I say "thank you" with all my heart for protecting me and helping me wait for the man of my dreams. He is the man who has given me so much more than I deserve - so much, that I don't even know how to begin to repay him. He is the man that loved my momma with all his heart. He is the man who gave of himself so unconditionally and took care of my Mom until her final breath. He stayed by her side to the very end. I saw their love grow deeper than I ever thought possible in these past 2 years.

I thank God for placing Tony in our lives 20 years ago. I write this with tears streaming down my face. I don't know how to convey how blessed and how truly thankful I am. God knew what He was doing when He gave us the most kind-hearted, gentle, giving, self-sacrificing, loving man to step in and lead our family.

I want to close by sharing a paper that I wrote as a 17-year old senior in high school. Even now, as a 25-year old college grad, I don't think I could write or get the point across quite as clearly as I did then...

"You're the best, Dad!" "Happy Birthday, Dad!" "I love you, Dad!" Everyone has someone to call "Dad." Not me. I was the little girl who had straight blonde hair, was on the skinny side, wore big t-shirts, and had no one to call Dad.

Growing up, trying to adjust to a new step-dad, and still coping with the loss of my dad at age five was a difficult thing to do. I had to listen to all my friends referring to their fathers as "dad" and longed to be able to say that same word. I tried countless times to start calling my step-dad "Dad," but it just never felt right. I finally grew to realize that this desire would never be filled and learned to get past it.

I am no longer envious of my friends when they say "Dad." Just because they have someone to call "Dad" doesn't mean they have a better relationship. To them, "Dad" might mean "the man who is never home," or "the man who is never nice to me," or maybe "dad" is just "the man who works, eats and sleeps." Why was I ever jealous that my friends can say, "Hey, Dad!" It took so long for me to realize exactly what I have. I have Tony. Not "Dad" like everyone else. I'm the one who gets to say, "Hey, Tony!" And to me, Tony means "the man who loves me probably more than I'll ever know." Tony means "the man who would do anything for me." Tony means "the man who took our family under his wing and gave us the best possible life we could ask for."

I finally came to realize that the title you give your father is meaningless.
The man who is your father means everything.
So now, I'm no longer the little girl who has no one to call "Dad."
I'm the lucky girl who has someone to call, "Tony."

  









Tony, I hope you know how much I love you and how thankful I am to be your little girl. You are one of the greatest blessings God has given me, and I don't know where I would be without your widsom, your prayers and your love. Thank you for stepping into our family 20 years ago today. Thank you for teaching me and guiding me along the right path. Thank you for praying for me and for fighting for me. Thank you for leading our family. And thank you for loving my Mom with a passionate, unconditional love. You have set a beautiful example that I want to follow in my life and in my marriage. Thank you for everything. I love you with all my heart!

Love,
your Jordo

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Saturday, March 22, 2014

eMeals

Okay, so in my last post I mentioned I was going to blog about eMeals soon...
so here it is!


I feel like it's so easy to get stuck in a rut cooking the same things over and over and over again. Also, meal planning can take hours if you like to plan far enough in advance! My husband and I used to sit at the kitchen table and rack our brains on high gear trying to figure out what we want to eat 2 weeks down the road. It can be really hard coming up with a main dish PLUS two or three sides for each meal! Holy cow!

And then along came eMeals like a majestic white stallion!

First of all, some of you may not know what eMeals is... So what is it?

4 words... Meal Planning Made Simple.

 

Each week you get a new meal plan delivered right into your inbox, and voila!

It's
all
planned

I just go through and choose two or three meals per week (out of 7 options), and I'm on my way to the store.

It
really
is
that
simple

 

They even have different types of meal plans to fit your lifestyle...
Classic Meals
Clean Eating
Paleo
Low Calorie
Slow Cooker
Portion Control
and so many more!

Seriously, I love how eMeals has simplified my meal planning, and it even has been good for our budget. I've noticed that when we "plan our meals" (aka choose pre-planned meals from the eMeal plan), we are more prepared when we head to the grocery store and make less impulsive purchases.

Amazing.

So what do you have to lose?!

Here are a couple sample recipes...



Right now, eMeals is running a special discount offer:
15% Off Your Order at eMeals.com with Bonus Comfort Foods Brochure! Use code Dinner15

Hope this helps some of you out there! Happy planning!

(This post contains affiliate links to eMeals, I will get a percentage of the sales if you buy through my affiliate link. But the opinions of it are my own.)

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Friday, March 21, 2014

March Update

I thought I was going to blog a ton this month! Well..... Looks like I've done just the opposite, which I think is actually good for me. I've tried to allow my mind to rest and soak in the things I have been learning.

I have continued to exercise consistently this month, and I've really enjoyed it. Zumba has been my favorite part by far! I never knew a day would come that I actually enjoy going to the gym!

I have continued to listen to a lot of John Piper sermons during my free time. I think this has been the best thing for me. If you are walking through a season of grief, or if you know someone who is, I would highly recommend the following sermons by John Piper:

Today's Mercies for Today's Troubles
This one is actually really great for anyone! If you find yourself worrying a lot about tomorrow... THIS ONE IS FOR YOU - regardless if you are grieving or not. Please check it out!

Called to Suffer and Rejoice
There are four sermons in this series. For some reason I have only listened to the first two so far, but I am going to listen to the rest very soon. I give this one two enthusiastic thumbs up!

Do Not Lose Heart
This is probably one of my favorites! Just listen to it already!

Job: Five Sermons on Suffering
LOVE this one! If you don't want to listen to all five, I would beg you to at least check out the first two! Awesome!

So besides working out and listening to John Piper, I haven't done a whole lot worth mentioning...  I have cooked a little bit more than usual I guess. I am actually using Emeals right now and will be posting about it soon, so be on the lookout for that!

We visited David's family this past weekend and had a really great time! We hadn't been back to his hometown since before Thanksgiving, and the visit was long overdue. I was so thankful and very blessed by our time there. He has four older sisters and four nieces and nephews which makes for a very full and noisy house, but it truly is a lot of fun! We played croquet, pickle ball, skittles (a new game I had never heard of which involves a lot of frantic running around the pool table - very fun) and a slew of board games. I also got a lesson on some new painting techniques on using Annie Sloan chalk paint (which if you are into refinishing furniture much, you've got to check this paint out! I think I will have to post about it at some point - it's nothing short of awesome!) So yeah, it was a great weekend! I really enjoyed getting to spend more time with David's family!

March is quickly coming to a close, and I have very mixed emotions. I don't even know what all I'm feeling. But I do feel anxious. I don't want to feel anxious, but I just do. There have been days that I have felt refreshed and joyful this month, but now I feel like anxiousness is beginning to overshadow some of my progress. I still need lots of prayer. I am so thankful and grateful beyond words for all the prayers that have been lifted up on my behalf this month. I do know that God is doing a work in my heart, but I still have such a long way to go.

We aren't even three months out from Mom's home-going. Part of me feels like it has been forever and that I should be "okay" by now. But at the same time, hardly any time has passed at all and my heart is still so broken and grieved. I still have a gaping wound. I miss her more now than ever. Her absence is so real and so thick. There is no one like her on this earth. No arms that feel quite like hers felt around me. No hands that feel just like hers. No voice that soothes and calms like hers. I want to hear her call me her "little girl" again...


"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

12 Days In, Acts 27, and Steal of a Deal

12 days into March, and it's been so far so good. I have been exercising regularly and trying to take good care of myself. I feel better than I've felt in a very long time. I feel like my soul is coming to life again. I feel like I can finally feel again.

For so long, I have just felt so numb - not really sure what I was feeling. But today I can tell you, I am so thankful for the Truth He has been pouring into my life. I do feel like I am being refreshed. I do feel like I can breathe again. I feel like I am learning to walk again - in uncharted territory. I've never been in this place before, and I don't have a choice but to learn to find joy in this place. I feel like He is giving me moments of joy and, surprisingly, moments of "normalcy."

The biggest Truth that has been spoken into my life these past few days is to not focus on what is seen, but to focus on the unseen. For what is seen is temporary. This life is but a breath. This is not the end. I will never find satisfaction here. My heart will only be fully satisfied in Christ. I can't put my hope in things or in people here on earth. Everything here is finite. Death is part of life. I am not alone.

I really loved what I read today, and that's what I want to share with you. My counselor (also a long-time friend of my mom's) told me to read Acts 27, so I did, and here's what I learned...


Sometimes on our journey from Point A to Point B
(a journey ordained and willed by the Lord)
a storm will blow us to a land we weren't expecting.
We will find ourselves shipwrecked.
God has a purpose in the storm and in that unknown land
where you find yourself broken and torn,
and He will eventually lead you to Point B.

That's the summary of the lesson He taught me today. I'll break it down with specific verses from Acts 27 and 28...

27:1 - a journey ordained by the Lord (see Acts 23:11)
27:14 - the storm
27:20 - losing all hope
27:22, 25 - take heart in God's promises
27:39 - shipwrecked in an unknown land
28:10 - equipped with everything we need to finish the journey
28:14 - finally at Point B

I love verse 25, and I inserted my own name in it:

"So take heart, [Jordan], for I have faith in God
that it will be exactly as I have been told."

So then I had to ask myself, What have I been told? What are the promises I can cling to?

If you need a reminder of God's promises today, here are just a few...






And to really seal the deal, let's top it off with this one:


Beautiful! I would encourage you to spend some time reading Acts 27 for yourself. I am sure you will be blessed! Also, would love for you to share what promises you cling to in the comments below!

Okay, and now I want to end with something totally off topic but am super excited about! I went to Goodwill today and SCORED! Somehow, before I even walked in, I had a feeling I was going to find something good, and boy howdy......
Check
this
out....


Yeah. That's a La-Z-Boy love seat for only $50! Oh yeah! Oh yeah! I don't really love the red, so I'll probably recover at some point in (hopefully) the near future! But seriously, what a steal! And it's so comfy, I'm sitting on it blogging right this very moment!

Thanks for all your prayers and words of encouragement!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."