Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Finding the WHOLE me...

If we're friends on facebook, or happen to do life together here in the midwest, you already know that I am well on my way to doing the Whole30 "detox".

 It's something my doctor actually recommended a few months back, and the timing just never seemed right...translated, "I didn't feel like giving up the comforts of my coffee the way I like it, the occasional pizza indulgence or glass of wine, and for goodness sake chocolate."  But here I am, on day 8, and feeling great.  It's basically eating whole foods - proteins, fruits & veggies.  I prefer to focus on what I CAN have, than what is "not allowed"....(dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol & all sugar/sweeteners).  The other thing that is not allowed is weighing yourself.  I was much relieved to break up with my arch nemesis "the scale" for the next 30 days.  Somehow between the last 8 months, among various other things I've adopted 10 pounds for temporary housing on my mid-section and high blood pressure.  Neither of which I am a fan of, but given the circumstances of the past 8 months (caring for & losing my mom to pancreatic cancer), my doctor said it was not concerning, but alas, recommended a resetting of diet & exercise.  I am happy to report my last visit showed I had EXCELLENT blood pressure, so I have conquered one milestone.  Praise Jesus!  Hopefully my new food habits will take care of the other, and I will be back to the "old" me...on the outside at least.

I'll be honest, on the inside I have struggled immeasurably the past 225 days.  My heart is still healing from the loss of my mom, and best friend.  I miss her voice, her smile, her touch, her encouragement, her unconditional love, the way she smelled, her hugs, her laugh, even the way she answered the phone.  Every single time it was exactly the same.  My brother & I used to imitate her, right down to the length of the pause..."Hello.  Uh-huh..(2.5 second pause) OH Hi!!" and then she would laugh, 3 times to be exact.  The first few months were a blur.  It was a combination of disbelief and wading through all the "must do" things, paperwork, and phone calls.  Then the next few months were me trying to put my grief in an emotional box and forcing myself to get back to "normalcy".  My three kids, husband, and our busy schedule did a great job of providing a distraction, but then the nightmares started.  Every night for months I would have the same dream.  It was reliving the night she passed over & OVER again.  It was so real, I didn't realize it was a dream until I woke up in a full sweat.  I am blessed and thankful that stage has now passed too, and the box that I tried desperately to close and shove away is back and I am finally finding time to open it, and accept and deal with the reality that she is gone.  I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that school is back in session and the amount of time I have to sit in quiet reflection has grown exponentially.  I want to be at peace, but getting there is a rocky road that I have had to travel. I am grateful for the grace and patience of others willing to walk beside me.  I could never do this alone, and thankfully I don't have to.  I was given a ring from a sweet friend with my mom's favorite verse engraved on it.  I wear it around my neck all the time.  "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  Philippians 4:13  Mom clung to that verse daily after we lost my dad almost 7 years ago.  She drew her strength from her faith.

My faith too is what carried me through the months of caring for her, and immediately after we lost her.  I literally felt wrapped in His arms and held together by His strength.  And yet, it is the one thing I am struggling to return to.  We go to what you might call a "mega church" where thousands attend on any given weekend.  I love it, I love the pastor (who happens to be from Texas), I love the praise & worship time, and I love that my kiddos feel Jesus when they are there, and they WANT to go.  I thought it would have been the first place I would have wanted to run to as soon as the dust settled. Honestly, when the time came, it was the last place I wanted to be.  I wasn't mad at God, I was just totally terrified of not being able to hold myself together in such a large public setting.  I have never been good at putting up a front, or faking, especially at church.  I cry at every wedding, funeral, and every church service.  There is something that just overwhelms my spirit.  But this was different.  There's a huge variance from shedding a few soft tears, to ugly crying on your knees in pain.   I was quivering with the latter the first time we set foot back in church just a few weeks after we returned home.  I knew at any moment that "box" was going to fly open like a jack-in-the-box.  So, we took a break.  I am embarrassed to say that last Sunday was the first time we have been to church in months (6 to be exact) for all the aforementioned reasons.    

Some people hold memories in smells, like my granny's cinnamon rolls, or in pictures.  I tend to hold memories in clothes.  Not materialistically, but it's just visual I guess.  I can still remember what I was wearing the first time I met my husband (red & white stripped shirt, denim skort & brand new white keds - hey! it was the 90's LOL!)  and the first time we kissed (black outfit with red roses), and I had just turned 16!  Sunday morning we were a little rushed so I grabbed an outfit that I knew I could quickly pull together.  Ironically it was what I wore to my mom's visitation.  It did not hit me immediately, but on the car ride to church, it was like an elephant on my chest.  By the grace of God, I did not completely loose it during the service, but there were definitely tears.  One of the other benefits of large churches is the "special effects" during worship, so thankfully I was able to collect myself without too much of a scene.  Then the sermon came... God is always so good and gracious in His timing.  The church started a new 5 week series on "Finding your way back to God" this past Sunday.

It was amazing!!   I think any one anywhere on their journey of faith would benefit from it.  If I can figure it out, I will post a link to it here.  In his closing comments, Pastor Dan extended a 30 day challenge (do you see a theme here??) to the congregation, by simply praying this prayer: "If you are real God, be real to me."  or if you are already firm in your faith, "I know you are real God, be more real to me."  You see, we were created with a hole in our hearts that only He can fill.  He wants us to want him, to seek him.  Some of us try to fill the hole with selfish desires, umm personal confession time... "retail therapy".  Others of us try to fill it with pleasing others...umm been there done that too, can you say "busy mom card, or over-extending the volunteer role in school, church & work activities".  Only one thing can fill that is a relationship with Him.  So along with the Whole30 food challenge, I am committed to a Whole 30 soul challenge.  It just fits together like an intricate jigsaw puzzle.  What a beautiful testimony of how He never lets go, and how He faithfully pursues me (& you too).


Looking forward to the healing of my body, mind & spirit over these next few weeks.  I'm always looking for accountability partners, so feel free to join me.