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Joni Anne

15 Aug

It turns out that when I thought I was pregnant on Mother’s Day, I was right and the test was wrong. 

But I didn’t doubt the test for even a moment. Why would I? Years of negative tests in the past… I know now that I never really believed it would ever say anything different.

But there I was, on the 2nd day of June, blinking at a positive pregnancy test for the first time in my life. I took the test after a relaxing Memorial Day weekend with my Memaw who found my symptoms “suspicious”. And then my next two days at work, I was utterly exhausted for absolutely no reason. So I decided to take the test that was left over from Mother’s Day… And then another cheapo from the Dollar Store.

  
And when they both said yes… I was amazed. Shocked. Excited. And terrified.

I didn’t want to lose this baby. Part of me said that it was going to be ok, but part of me said this was never supposed to happen for you. Don’t get too attached.

Fast forward a few weeks to my first OB appointment and ultrasound, and I discovered that I was due January 14th (which meant I got pregnant in early April as I had suspected). I also got to see the baby for the first time and that’s when it got real. But when I heard the heartbeat for the first time… I cried. I loved. I ached. I don’t really know how to describe what I felt. It was the moment it all became real to me.

  
About a week later, I did some lab work including NIPT and took the option of learning the sex. Just after the 4th of July, we learned we were having a girl and that she was clear of the genetic issues they tested for.

As far as I’m concerned, this pregnancy has been ideal. I haven’t been sick much. I am tired, but that’s ok. I have a family that’s made this so much easier and wonderful. Everything is progressing just as it should. I even bought my first pair of maternity jeans this weekend for my newly formed bump.

  
We have been talking casually about baby names, and had a few names we liked but nothing we loved. I felt early on that I wanted her to have a J first name or middle name. Jake, Jami and I all have J names. Since we are a blended family, it just felt like a sweet way to tie us all together. 

We had pretty much decided on Emma Jean, but something told me to keep looking.

Jake has an older sister named Toni who passed when he was 4. He wanted to name Jami after her, but his mother said no. And I can understand that. 

The other night, I was looking at a list of girl names that start with J, when I came across the name Joni. I went to school with a couple girls named Joni, but had forgotten the name. When I saw that it meant “God is gracious”. I knew it was perfect.

My mom suggested Ann for a middle name (her late mother’s middle name) and her initials would be the same as Jake’s… Which was an idea he totally loved. And it’s what he has called her all weekend. My only tweak is the spelling of Anne, which is a nod to my English heritage. Jami’s middle name is Lynne, and I like that they are similarly spelled.

But please know that I might take one look at her and change my mind! ūüėā Seriously.

The big sonogram is in a couple weeks and I cannot wait to see this little girl and how much she has grown!

I can’t wait to meet you, Joni! Momma and daddy and sister love you so much!

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Ready

10 Sep
via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Back in early 2009, a little over 2 years into my marriage, we were headed for disaster.¬† In an effort to save my marriage, I completed The Love Dare and blogged the whole thing.¬† It was a life-changing experience for me even though it didn’t do much for my marriage.¬† I gained a testimony of Jesus Christ through that experience.¬† I learned about the pure love of Christ through that experience.¬† And I eventually learned that I cannot control someones choices, only my own.¬† I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a few months later, I met missionaries and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Two years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a special stake fireside in Amarillo.¬† The topic that night was Christ-like relationships.¬† The speaker was a church-employed counselor for that area, and I appreciated his honesty and frankness.¬† At the time, I hadn’t dated in a little over 6 months.¬† I had decided to focus solely on my spiritual health for a time.

I went by myself, having only been in town for a week.  I took fervent notes and hung onto every word.  That night, I was looking through the lens of a recently-divorced woman who felt very confused about how my marriage had gone so wrong.

I was looking for answers, for understanding.¬† For peace, but also for hope that I could keep from repeating the past in future relationships.¬† As I listened with an eager and open heart, I was humbled to realize mistakes that I had made and just how unloving I had been at times…¬† Just how selfish I had been at times.¬† How demanding.¬† Yes, I felt sorrow, but more than that, I felt resolve to change.

To truly have a Christ-like relationship, you have to be able to be selfless.  You have to be willing to love unconditionally and sacrifice for your family.  You have to be willing to trust that your partner will do the same.

This has been my greatest concern…¬† Was it possible for me?¬† Could I be that trusting?¬† Could I be that selfless?¬† Could I love unconditionally?

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been working on overcoming my issues.¬† When you don’t have your needs met as a young child, you learn how to meet your own needs.¬† You learn how to protect yourself from harm.¬† In some ways, these are really good things.¬† In some ways, they can hurt our relationships with other people.¬† For instance, it can lead you to be a pretty selfish person.¬† You are more concerned about protecting yourself and taking care of yourself than you are others.¬† It’s a survival skill that helped you when you were young, but you don’t need it anymore.

It isn’t something you can just turn off, but with work and faith it can be changed.¬† With the help of our Heavenly Father, we can access the gift of the atonement.¬† We can overcome the sins that have been made against us.

Recently, I’ve wondered, am I ready?¬† (Which really means, am I capable of creating and maintaining a Christ-like relationship)¬† Honestly, I haven’t been sure.

This weekend, I was able to visit the San Antonio Temple and took the opportunity to pray in the Celestial room.¬† When I asked if I was ready to be married, I received an answer that was full of love and promise.¬† “You will be.”¬† Then this lesson from The Love Dare came to mind.

It’s amazing how some things in our lives come full-circle.

I realized that I’m ready to make the choice to love. I’m ready because I’ve made peace with the past.¬† I’m ready because I understand that Christ-like love is not something that comes very naturally or easily to us.¬† It takes humility and prayer and effort, but it is possible.¬† I’m ready because I know there will be tough times, no matter how righteous I am.¬† I’m ready because I have faith in His plan for my life.

I can do this.

Week 1 Recap

8 Dec

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Completed week 1 of Dr. Fuhrman’s 6-week challenge:

Starting weight: 289.8

Today’s weight: 279.0 (down 10.8 lbs)

Total weight loss: 10.8 lbs

Um, wow.  I weighed myself at least 5 times this morning just to make sure.  Shocking results Рespecially when you hear about my week.

Day 1-

Started the morning with a smoothie and apple and was pleased.¬† Then lunch happened.¬† I made myself a GIANT salad of mixed greens, lots of raw veggies and some Mrs. Dash and Pomegranate vinegar.¬† I also heated up some black beans, added some Mrs. Dash and pico del gallo.¬† The salad was yummy at first, but the beans weren’t.¬† The no salt thing is a big hurdle when it comes to beans for me.¬† But I also didn’t spice them very well.¬† I started out by eating a few bites of salad and then a few bites of beans, but I was hating the beans, so I ended up adding them to the salad.¬† A few minutes later, something flipped and all of a sudden, the salad was disgusting.¬† I got to the point where I was taking a bite, chewing it up and then taking a big swig of water to wash it down.¬† I wanted to cry.¬† I wanted to die.¬† All I could do was think about how I would go through this everyday and I was going to fail!¬† I finally had to give up and throw out what was left:

salad

I was so upset.  You have a goal of eating a pound of raw veggies and a pound of cooked veggies a day and I was so focused on making sure I ate it all and at that point I just felt like I would never be able to do it.  Yes, I overreact.

I got home and ate a few bites of pumpkin cheesecake.  Then I called Cassandra and confessed.  She whipped me back into shape and I decided to press forward.

I started eating my soup for dinner, and once again, it was delicious at first.¬† About halfway through, all of a sudden it was disgusting again!¬† I couldn’t finish it.¬† Once again, I was so dejected.¬† I called Cassandra again and afterward, I felt so much better and had made some decisions:

  1. I’m not going to focus on making sure I’m eating a certain amount of anything right now – just that I’m sticking to the things I can have.
  2. Going to eat salad and soup for lunch, beans and veggies for dinner so I can add more flavor to the beans.
  3. Calm down because I’m still eating much healthier than usual!

Day 2-

Lunch went SO much better.  Made myself a smaller salad and alternated between bites of salad and soup which seemed to help with flavors.  I finished everything and was super satisfied.  I also added orange to my salad which made a HUGE difference.  I was feeling like a million bucks.

I had plans with a friend that night and when I got home, I just didn’t feel like eating yet.¬† (Really, I didn’t feel like eating what I had to eat)¬† So I decided that I would just wait until I got home that night and I would be too tired and too hungry and I would just eat what I had then.¬† DUMB!¬† I totally just grabbed fast food on the way home.¬† Once again I felt like an idiot.¬† Lesson learned-

  1. Don’t wait until you’re hungry and tired to eat.¬† Zero self-control.
  2. Dinner is going to be the hardest time for me because it’s when I want to be comforted the most.
  3. Fruit makes everything better.

Day 3-

Started the morning with a phone call to Cassandra.  More confessions made.  She asked me if I had weighed myself yet.  I stepped on the scale and was down 4 pounds.  Even with screwing up!  It motivated me to keep going.

Breakfast and lunch were great, but when it came to dinner, I ended up screwing dinner up again.

Day 4-

Same story – breakfast and lunch were great, didn’t stay on plan for dinner.

Day 5-

Woke up late, didn’t get my smoothie made.¬† Didn’t get to take my lunch.¬† By the time I was able to eat, I had no self-control at all.¬† I totally gorged and was hating myself.

That night, I had a moment of clarity.¬† My food issues were ringing loud and clear.¬† Addiction, Compulsion, emotional eating…¬† I knew I had these issues, but at that moment it was undeniable.¬† THIS is why I needed to do this.¬† It isn’t about the weight – is about not being a slave to food.

I made a plan for Saturday and Sunday.¬† I am LDS and we fast for 24 hours the first weekend of every month.¬† We do not eat or drink for 24 hours (two meals).¬† There are several reasons we do this, but it’s a time that we can use to pray about specific issues we want clarity/help with.¬† I decided to dedicate my fast to this issue.

Day 6-

Another green smoothie for breakfast (I thoroughly enjoy them!!).¬† For lunch I water saut√©ed onions, mushrooms and spinach with some cumin and smoked paprika.¬† I put that mixture into a low-carb tortilla that I had toasted.¬† (thank you for the suggestion Cassandra!)¬† It was the most satisfying thing I had eaten all week.¬† Supper yummy.¬† I had two “burritos” and some soup and felt stuffed.

I started my fast with a prayer.  I asked for help overcoming my addiction to food.  I asked for guidance on what I needed to do to help myself.  I asked for greater understanding.

Normally, I really struggle with fasting.¬† This time I wasn’t very tempted at all.¬† I definitely felt strengthened spiritually.¬† I even went grocery shopping Saturday night without incident.

Day 7-

Started the day by reading DC 89 and a few other church resources on the Word of Wisdom.

I went to church and felt inspired by the testimonies and lessons Рseveral of which were directly about the Word of Wisdom.  During RS, I shared a little bit about my experience this past week, and I felt confirmation that I am on the right track.  I need to press forward and I will achieve what I need to.  I also received direction to focus on scripture study and prayer right now to help me.

I finished out the day (lunch and dinner) on the right track.  My sister made an amazing dinner for her bunch and it was pretty tempting, but I made my own pot of Golden Austrian Cauliflower Soup (YUM!) and was grateful.

It was an abnormally tough week in general for me (issues going on not related to food) and I made it through.¬† And I’m over 10 pounds lighter!¬† The weight loss is great, but I care more about the spiritual breakthrough that happened.¬† Hopeful and happy!

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My Miracle

18 Jul

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I don’t think it was a coincidence when I discovered that my ex-husband was getting re-married just a few days after I went to the temple to receive my endowment. ¬†It was designed to throw me off course, and sadly it did.

I’ve been struggling with happiness and peace for months now and mostly blaming it on work, but knowing that it was more. ¬†It’s funny how you can know something and yet not understand it at all.

I hit an especially low point back on the 4th of July.  I was feeling particularly lonely.  I had plenty of options that day and many people that I could spend time with, but all I could think about was the loss of family.

Holidays were a time, in my former life, that I was surrounded by family. ¬†We would barbecue and invite everyone over to celebrate. ¬†It was “our thing”. ¬†And now, well it’s just not that way. ¬†And I realized, once again, how much I’m still mourning my marriage. ¬†Not my ex-husband, but the marriage. ¬†And how exactly do you get over that? ¬†I just haven’t figured it out yet.

I shared all of this with a close friend and she frankly told me that it was time to pray and ask Heavenly Father to remove the pain and loss from me. ¬†I’m not sure why, but I had never thought of that option. ¬†Would He just remove it for me?

This past Sunday, I felt so low and decided that I had to try.  I prayed with all of my might and asked Heavenly Father to remove the pain and the burden of the difficult marriage and subsequent divorce.  I told him that I trusted He would.  And I went to sleep.

I remember feeling well-rested Monday morning, but honestly forgot all about the fact that I had said this prayer. ¬†It has been an amazing week for me. ¬†I’m feeling a level of peace and happiness that has eluded me for a while now. ¬†I have so much more hope and drive. ¬†It’s night and day really.

Driving to work this morning, a song came on the radio… ¬†A song which should have constricted my heart like it usually does and made me remember how broken my heart still is… ¬†Only, I felt nothing. ¬†Surprised, my prayer came flooding back to me and I wondered if it could be true! ¬†I made myself think of memories I have dared not remember, and once again… ¬†NOTHING.

Tears started streaming down my face as gratitude washed over me.  I nearly sang a prayer of thanks for this very personal miracle my loving Heavenly Father gave to me.

Finally, I’m free.

Patiently

25 May

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This may not be much of a surprise to anyone, but I’ve been frustrated for some time now. ¬†I’ve been struggling personally with a number of issues from the stress of my job to my lack of personal progress since going to the temple back in early February. ¬†I’ve been fully aware that I shouldn’t be feeling the way I feel and at the same time unable to change.

This past week, there’s been some significant changes at work and church – new callings. ¬†And I’ve been praying specifically for help in being happier and understanding exactly what’s going on.

This morning, I was listening to the Mormon Channel app while I got ready for church.  A program called Music with a Message came on.  This specific episode was about Patience.  For 30 minutes, I heard song after song and message after message about waiting faithfully.  There was one particularly poignant moment in the program:

Patience isn’t passive resignation. ¬†Nor is it failing to act because of our fears. ¬†Patience means active waiting and enduring. ¬†It means staying with something and doing all we can, working, hoping and exercising faith- bearing hardship with fortitude. ¬†Even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. ¬†Patience is not simply enduring, it is enduring well.

I taught my last lesson in Primary today – Prayers are Answered in the Best Way. ¬†In the lesson, I taught the story of Zacharias and Elisabeth, John the Baptist’s parents. ¬†They were both righteous people who had prayed for a baby for many years. ¬†They were older and still had not had a child. ¬†An angel appeared to Zacharias and told him to fear not, that his wife would bear a son and he would be named John.

What the angel promised did happen.  John was born at this time so that he could prepare many people to believe in Jesus Christ and follow him.

Obviously this story is especially poignant to me.

Finally, I went to my Single Adults Family Home Evening tonight and we did an exercise out of Preach My Gospel where we had to rate our Christlike attributes.  While I scored well when it came to Charity and Love and Hope, it became quite clear that I am struggling with patience and faith.

I don’t think God has ever given me a clearer message. ¬†The answer isn’t “no”, but rather “not now”. ¬†I need to be patient and have faith in my waiting, but most importantly – I have work to do. ¬†And I know exactly what that work is. ¬†I’ve known for so long, but I have yet to do it.

I have been failing to act because of my fears. ¬†I have been resigned to the situation. ¬†I dare say that I’ve been slothful. ¬†But that is changing right now. ¬†Just watch me.

I am.

2 Jun

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For those of you who don’t know, I’d like to officially proclaim that I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. ¬†In other words, I am a Mormon.

I converted in late 2009, but had two periods of inactivity during my first separation and then divorce. ¬†In fact, I’m pretty sure if you added up all the months since I was baptized, I’ve been inactive longer than I’ve been active.

About a year ago, I guess my files were finally transferred and I met some sisters who came to visit me and then my VT companion.  Over time, their kindness and concern softened my heart.  The desire to live the gospel stirred in me once more.

I knew I still believed the church was true. ¬†I could still feel the truth of everything I’d learned in my heart. ¬†I knew I had a Heavenly Father and that Jesus gave his life for me. ¬†I just felt that in my hurt and confusion, I had strayed too far from the path. ¬†I had behaved like a child, self-centered and emotionally immature. ¬†How could I ever overcome the damage I, myself had inflicted upon my life?

I had a desire to return to church, but I was afraid. ¬†What would people think of my divorce? What if no one liked me? ¬†Would it feel the same as I did in my old Ward? ¬†I realize now that these were silly worries, but at the time it was just enough to keep me from making that step. ¬†I finally got the courage to ask for help. ¬†I told the sisters that I really wanted to go to church, but that I knew I’d never go alone. ¬†That was in January, and I guess the rest is history!

I met with the Bishop not long after General Conference to discuss repentance. ¬†Best decision I’ve ever made. ¬†That process has changed my life in a way that I didn’t even imagine possible. ¬†I know now that I’ve been forgiven of my sins, that my Heavenly Father loves me, and it’s given me greater hope than I’ve ever known.

I was called about a month ago as Ward Missionary. ¬†I love it. ¬†The happiness I feel when I get to talk about the Gospel is overwhelming. ¬†I feel useful. ¬†It forces me to focus on others and I don’t have time to be lonely or wish for things I don’t have. ¬†I pray that I will be able to help others like the sisters helped me.

I love my Ward family. ¬†Everyone I’ve met has been so kind and welcoming to me. ¬†I don’t know why I was ever worried about it. ¬†I’m so grateful for the divinely inspired organization of the church. ¬†I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to partake of the sacrament every week to renew my covenants.

Mostly I’m grateful for my trials. ¬†I know they are teaching me everything that I need to know. ¬†They are making me stronger and wiser. ¬†I pray that I will keep that in mind when hardship comes back around. ¬†I’m not promised a perfect life, I will be tried, but with faith I will make it though the storm.

Darkness Within

25 Apr

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I was first diagnosed with depression and prescribed anti-depressants toward the end of my Sophomore year of college.

I had gone to the Doctor complaining of always being tired and after some questioning, he decided I was depressed. ¬†I didn’t take it very seriously. ¬†I took the medication for about a month and when I didn’t feel any different, stopped taking them.

Less than a year later, I had to withdraw from school and move to Corpus Christi because I was suicidal.

I spent the next year in therapy. ¬†I worked hard to get to a good place without the use of anti-depressants. ¬†I really thought there was no way I’d ever find myself in such a state again. ¬†While I’ve never found myself in that kind of suicidal state again, I’ve struggled off and on with a deep depression and the struggle of what is the root cause of these issues.

For me, depression really isn’t about sadness. ¬†I would describe it as a numbness. ¬†Over the years, I’ve found that a period of depression usually comes when I’ve experienced a very stressful situation or prolonged periods of anxiety. ¬†It’s more like being completely overwhelmed and my emotions shutting down. ¬†I withdraw from interactions with family and friends. ¬†I become unproductive because I have no drive or energy. ¬†All the while, I’m aware that this is happening, want it to change, and feel like a bit of a prisoner within myself.

It takes time and effort to overcome those periods of depression. ¬†I’ve tried numerous anti-depressants over the years and I’ve yet to find one I like. ¬†What I’ve found that helps more than anything revolves around my spirituality. ¬†Being involved in my church and everything that entails brings the swiftest relief I’ve found, but it still takes time and effort.

I’ve been struggling lately. ¬†The past few weeks were the worst of it, but thankfully I seem to be crawling out of my dark place. ¬†I don’t understand exactly what the root cause is, but I’m grateful I know how to combat it.