Being Mimi

When Saleem was about four or five years old I can remember, people always asking, “do you want any more kids” or “when are you having another one?”  My response was always the same, “if God wants me to have some, he better send me a man with some because I’m not having anymore!”  It was a joke to me until Saleem was about ten or eleven and I decided that I really wanted to have another child.  Around that time I’d met my love.  Although he already had five, we thought we’d try for one more or maybe two since he was a twin and twins were known to run in his family.  Either way, we would be happy with what ever God decided to bless us with.

Unfortunately, we were not prepared for the news we’d receive a few months later.  Turns out, I had uterine fibroids and my doctors doubted that I’d ever be able to have another child.  Under my doctors’ care, I decided to put off having surgery in order to try to get pregnant one more time.  After about eight months, I had not gotten pregnant but my fibroids had grown so large they were pressing on other vital organs.  My doctor was afraid my kidneys would be dangerously affected.  When tests revealed just how much damage my fibroids were doing to my body, my doctor gave me two weeks to get things in order so that he could perform my hysterectomy.

The day I left my doctor’s office was one of the saddest days.  Not only was I faced with not being able to have another child but I struggled with having to have such a major surgery at thirty-two years old.  Needless to say, the days leading up to the surgery were some of the most difficult.  I didn’t want my parents or Saleem to worry about me so I put on a brave face, said the most positive things when anyone asked how I was doing and tried not to cry.

The surgery went well.  I recovered with good friends, family and my love taking care of me.  I returned to work and life moved on.  At the time, only three of my love’s children lived in the area and we were able to see them regularly.  So between his three and Saleem, we were often pretty busy having family movie nights, vacationing in some small town in Florida none of us had ever heard of and hanging out with the kids at one of their extracurricular events.

Time seems to have flown by.  The picture above is of me and who I refer to as “The Last of the Mohicans.”  These are my love’s youngest two…the twins and the last two at home.  They were three years old when their dad and I met.  I was blessed to be Saleem’s mom and to be apart of his everyday life and upbringing.  Even though God decided that having another child was not in the cards for me, I have been truly blessed to be Mimi to my love’s kids, especially these two.  I have been blessed to share in many firsts with the twins…their first day of kindergarten, their first day of middle school, their first day learning to drive, their first “unofficial” date and today, their first day at their first job.  In a few years, we will be dropping them off at their first day of college.

Prior to gaining full custody of the twins and their older sister almost four years ago, my love and I were weekend parents along with giving as much support during the week as needed.  Granted our lives have changed quite a bit now that the kids are with us full time and I must admit, I was not at all prepared as Saleem was out on his own by then.  I was enjoying being a semi-empty nester.  I understand now that even though all those years ago I joked about God sending me a man with kids, He has actually answered my prayers.  I am so grateful to have had this time with them.

 

Be careful what you ask for…:)

To Sleep or Not to Sleep

After my son was born, I began experiencing pain in my lower back.  I had no idea what was causing it or what to do to make it stop.  When the pain got really severe, I had to be taken to the hospital where they would inject medication into my back.  Over the years, I guess I kind of got used to having this pain.  At my worst, I had difficulty getting out bed, driving and getting in and out of the car.  My doctors would tell me there was not much they could do outside of shots, prescribing pain pills and muscle relaxers.  I am not one to take a lot of medication just to be taking it so, I began simply living with this dull pain in my lower back.  I’d take an aspirin or two if the pain got too bad but for the most part, I just dealt with it.  By the time I started teaching full time, I had no idea how I’d live my life with this constant pain in my back.  I found new doctors who basically recommended the same treatment as my previous doctors, cortisone shots in the area, which I extremely opposed or surgery which was completely out of the question.  I was not able to wrap my head around having back surgery when none of my doctors could pinpoint where the pain was coming from or how the surgery would help.

During my second year of teaching, during Teacher Appreciation Week, my principal at the time had hired a massage company to come in and give teachers fifteen minute massages on their breaks.  Prior to this I had never had a massage by a professional.  During the brief session, a nurse was also there to talk to about spinal health and to ask questions about whether or not you were experiencing any back pain or joint discomfort.  I jumped at the chance to tell her about the lower back pain I’d been experiencing since the birth of my son some ten years prior.  She invited me to come to the chiropractic office where she worked and meet with the doctor.  Chiropractic services were never on my radar as I worked with other doctors to find a solution to my lower back pain.  None of my doctors recommended chiropractic services or any other physical therapy services for that matter.

A few weeks later I met with this doctor, who turned out to be a very nice, kind and knowledgeable guy.  I had x-rays done on my back, met with the rest of his staff and was given a tour of his office where he explained his work and what all of the machines were used for.  A few days later I went back to review my x-rays and talk about treatment options.  Turns out, the pain I had been experiencing was due pressure on my nerves from my spinal cord being a little inflamed and pinched.  I’m sure there is a scientific term for it but I can not recall what he called it.  I began having treatments at his office and after a few weeks, I began to feel better.

I started seeing Dr. Brown about ten years ago and I still see him for treatment maybe about once every other month or so.  I, honestly feel a lot better.  After my car accident five years ago, he was the first person I called.  With no medication or surgery, he was able to help my body heal the three bulging discs, two tears and whiplash I sustained from the accident.  Whenever I have issues with my health, Dr. Brown is usually the first person I call or go see.  So when I recently began experiencing pain in my neck, shoulders and back, I went to his office to talk with him.  His first question, “how old is your mattress?”  My response, “12 years.”

This conversation set me on a journey that taught me even more about my health and listening to my body.

 

More to come…:)

Granting Grace

After nearly thirteen years together sometimes he just works my last nerve!  Last night I was frustrated to no end with my Love so I decided to leave the house to get some air.  I needed to go to Wal-Mart anyway but then I figured since Chick-fil-a was right next to Wal-Mart I deserved a cookies & cream milkshake…heaven on earth!

At the light while waiting to pull out of my subdivision, still fuming, I was going over the events of the past few minutes.  Even though I was in the car by myself and no one would have known, I was silently praying to God to help control my anger as to not start cursing that man out verbally or in the quiet corners of my mind.  

Sitting my anger at that light I clearly heard God say, “grant him grace.”  Ugh!!! God has been doing that a lot lately.  Just jumping into my thoughts, reminding me that in order to complete my circle not only do I have speak my faith, I also have to act my faith.

Grace is one of those words we hear so often that we tend to brush it aside when we are frustrated or angry.  In general, we all know what grace means but in all things Christ-like we have a choice in whether or not we use it.

Like I said, I know generally what grace means but I decided to look it up anyway so that I could make sure it was really grace God wanted me to extend in this current situation with my Love. (Won’t we try to find a way not to do what God tells us to do?  The flesh is weak!)

By definition, grace is the unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.

In reading the definition, it was the word unmerited that stood out the most so, I looked it up too.

Unmerited – not adequately earned or deserved.

I meditated over that word for quite sometime before I started this post.  No one and I mean no one, not even I, deserve grace.  If I were totally honest I know without a doubt that I sometimes say, do, think and act in ways that anger or frustrate God yet, even though I did absolutely nothing to earn or deserve it, I EXPECT God to grant me grace.  To forgive me, bless me and love me no matter what.  So who am I to not give to others what God so lovingly and freely gives to me each and every moment of my life?

I had the most enlightening drive to Wal-Mart! I also enjoyed my milkshake but then went home with a better attitude, helped my son with an online exam, hugged my Love and peacefully went to sleep.

Learning how to listen so that I can listen to learn.

 

Past, Present and Future

Normally, it takes me all of a few hours to write a post.  Once a topic, thought or interesting conversation comes to me, my juices start flowing and I just start writing.  However, I’ve been pouring over this post for about a week.  I knew what I wanted to convey but it was coming to me in weird pieces and I just couldn’t get the wording to make sense.  Anyhow, I’m going to give it to you the best I can and hopefully it will make some kind of sense 🙂

My mom used to say that the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Of course as a child I had no idea what that meant but as I’ve gotten older I think I have a little bit of an idea as to what my mom’s sentiment might mean. As adults we live and hope that we can learn from our mistakes in order to do better.  However, what happens when we don’t learn from those mistakes? I guess this is how things can actually stay the same.

I got permission from my friend to tell this story because my mom’s little saying popped right into my head as she and I met for breakfast to talk over a week ago and I thought it was absolutely the perfect way to describe what she’s dealing with.  So, this friend has been married for over fifteen years.  She and her husband have three children all under ten years old.  Her husband, as far as I can tell and from what she says, is a cool dude.  Works hard, tries to spoil her as best he can and provides her with a pretty good life.  For the most part, she’s happy.  Unfortunately, she has a penchant for having male friends. Sometimes these friendships have been more than just friendships.

This has obviously caused a serious strain on her marriage which is what we were discussing over breakfast.  Although they have been to counseling, at her husband’s request, she has not made much progress in seeing how her “friendships” are effecting her marriage or what she needs to do in order to cut those ties.  I’ve known this girl for years.  I love her dearly but she’s as wrong as two left shoes and I had no problem telling her that.  In knowing her and talking to her that day, I could clearly see how situations she dealt with as a child are affecting her relationship with her husband and as long as she refuses to shed light on and talk about those issues she will never be free to be the wife her husband needs.

Her life and her story also puts in my mind generational curses and how they can impact so many lives for so many years.  If no one ever stands up to acknowledge what’s wrong in the family and talk about those family secrets they will inevitable eat away at the very fabric of all those involved.  Because I’ve known her so long, I know that this situation didn’t just start with her.  Her mother had the same exact issue in her marriage and story has it that her grandmother had the exact same issue in her marriage.

I almost can’t feel too bad for my girl though because as a grown woman she can make the decision to make a better choice so that this doesn’t continue to carry forth to impact her children.  Instead of being afraid of what may come out as a result of her talking about and dealing with the issues of her past, she can make a lifetime of difference for herself and her family by openly and honestly taking on that challenge.

 

Love yourself enough to take on the challenge… 🙂

 

 

Morning Drive – Part 2

So a few days ago I posted about my struggles with my morning drive to work and the subsequent solution to my problem.  Now that I am having an extended quiet time as I drive to work listening to positive people discuss positive things I must say that not only is my attitude better but I am learning a ton.

I totally agree that Smartphones can be so very annoying in that they seem to be all up in our business based on things we search and apps we use.  Of course, YouTube does the same thing and posts in your feed videos that are similar to those you’ve watched and searched for.  My go to morning inspiration person from YouTube is Pastor John Gray.  Every now and again when I want to switch it up a bit I listen to Joyce Meyer or Priscilla Shirer.

Then last week as I was scrolling through YouTube looking for a new message for the day I came across this Pastor named Michael Todd of Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Man, have I been encouraged on my drive this week!  When I began listening to Pastor Todd he was beginning an eight week series on what he titled Relationship Goals.

In this series he talks about all aspects of relationships; friendships, dating, engagement and marriage relationships.  I have learned so much from this series. I am currently on Part Five and plan to finish the series and maybe even listen to more from him later on.  I think the most important thing I have taken away from this series so far is that relationships of any kind will only work best when God is in the middle.

I can definitely see how that can be true.  From personal experience, I notice that the more I grow in my relationship with God the more I feel disconnected from the relationships/friendships I have with others who do not have a personal relationship with God.  I’m growing and changing in a way that is different from theirs.  Of course I’m not saying that I am in anyway better and they are less, it’s just different.

The more I learn about God and myself, the more I want to do better.  It’s kind of hard to grow and do better in relationships with those that don’t hold you accountable or encourage you to to better.  When those around you don’t grow in away that promotes the best of God it can be difficult to maintain a positive and successful relationship with them.  If they are still hanging out in the same places, using the same language, behaving in the same way you both did before you decided to build a relationship with God, then it stands to serve that your relationship with them will not be the same.

I know that I am much different now than I was prior to my relationship with God. I still have some of the same friends however the friendships are different.  I have to set boundaries not only for myself but for them as well.  However, those friendships that attempted to hinder my relationship with God had to be severed. I still love them and wish them the best but my relationship with God was much more important.

Moving on…:)

Finding My Way

Over the past few weeks I have had many great ideas to blog about. However, so much has happened over the past few weeks that I am not quite sure where to begin. When I first began this blog it was meant to be a place where my friends and I could gather to discuss books that we had chosen to read together, an online book study of sorts.  I think we may have gotten through one book together and then, as with life, we all got busy, schedules changed and we could no longer do what we set out to do. But since I’d already started the blog I didn’t want to just shut it down and as a natural-born writer I decided to use it as a place for simply sharing my thoughts, ideas and encouraging others based on my own experiences. The goal was to post at least once week, no less than three times a month. But as my life got busy I wasn’t able to post/blog as much as I would have liked.

My experiences in the past few weeks have been good, great, not so great and some just simply the worst.  As I sit here now thinking about it all I’m drawn to how I felt about each experience during and after.  Sometimes I was angry, sometimes I was hurt, at times I was confused, at times I was scared, and sometimes I was just plain numb. It’s funny that in the middle of it all I just wanted to say, “ok, life…you win. I quit.”   Then just sit on my bed never to move or leave the house again.  Of course, I couldn’t do that because in order to have a house to live in I had to have money.  I had to eat while I was in the house which meant I had to go to the grocery store and that meant I had to drive my car and therefore I needed gas.  All of which tied into the fact that I needed to take my behind to work.  In all of this I’ve learned one thing and that is change happens but we can never, never, ever give up.

To be perfectly honest, after looking over my life and the things that I’ve been through, the experiences that I’ve had, it used to bother me something terrible when someone would say to me “don’t give up, everything will work out, just keep pushing forward.”  I know that people, especially those who have been through some things in life, really feel that those words are encouraging and maybe to some people they are but in that moment, when you are dealing with real life, that real struggle, in the thick of things, in the middle of the drama, the madness, the chaos, the busy life, the crazy schedule, the differences of opinion…giving up is exactly what you feel like doing.  Just not wanting to be a part of the rat race period. Not wanting to deal with another issue, another problem, another setback nor another week of praying that the gas you have left in the tank will hold out until Friday, nothing.

However, what we don’t realize is that really the only way to give up or quit is to simply stop trying, to stop wanting better, to stop hoping, to stop praying, to stop wishing, to simply stop moving. And I think that as long as we get up each and every day, put one foot forward, move toward that front door, get in that car we know is ready to break down and head to that job we don’t like, by just moving we are essentially not giving up. Even though we don’t feel it and we may sometimes not think it, by simply moving along in our lives we are actually holding out hope that things will get better.  So instead of trying to find some cliche or some philosophical saying, I will just leave you with this…

Jeremiah 29:11 🙂