Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy 14th Anniversary!

14 years ago today, I married the love of my life. I, a very young 19 year old, junior in college and he, a still pretty young 23 year old, senior in college, joined our lives together in our college church on a weekend early in the fall semester of another year of college. 14 years have come and gone and I pray that we have 14 more years many times over still ahead of us.

I thought it would be fun to put together a list (of 14 of course) of things that have happened during or about our 14 years together.
#1 - We've lived in 13 different houses/apartments since we got married (the crazy thing is the 4.5 years in one of them and 2.75 years in another one, too weird!).
#2 - We have earned 5 degrees between the two of us (Russ has a BA, MA, and MDiv and I have a BA and an MDiv).
#3 - We have one beautiful daughter Damaris who is about to be 12 years old (we aren't old enough for that to be true!!!!!!) and three precious children, Jordan, Micah, and Noah, in Heaven waiting for us.
#4 - We both were ordained to the ministry in a joint service about 2 years ago. I guess that makes us "The Revds Almon".
#5 - We've come to a place where simplicity is important to us. We were able to go from needing the biggest Uhaul truck available to fitting everything for the 3 of us into a 17 foot truck. We have truly learned that possessions are not the most important thing (I'm sure you'd argue for your books though LOL!).
#6 - You are a much better cook than I am. Give me a crockpot and I'm ok, but anything else that would take me ages to figure out and probably wouldn't turn out so well, you can do without batting an eyelash.
#7 - Our marriage is one of mutuality. The respect we have for each other is a big part of what makes our marriage work even after 14 years!
#8 - Who knew that when we vowed to have and to hold in sickness as well as in health, that sickness would be such a huge part of our lives. Thank you for your constant care of me regardless of the state my body is in.
#9 - Reading has remained as important to the two of us as it was 14 years ago and we have passed our love of reading on to Damaris. She can devour a book almost as quickly as I can!
#10 - On this day 14 years ago, we could never have imagined the grief we would experience in our years together. Our three precious children, grandparents, my uncle, your mentor, and many others. God, please keep giving us strength to endure the loss we feel in our hearts daily!
#11 - Who knew how much we would love sci-fi and fantasy and that we would pass that on to Damaris. Stargate, Star Wars, Star Trek, Chronicles of Narnia, Eureka, Warehouse 13, Sanctuary, just to name a few.
#12 - Even though we keep leaving, we keep ending up back in the West Texas area. Even though we're in SE New Mexico now, I won't be surprised if we go back to West Texas in the future. Unless we end up in Colorado or Canada!
#13 - Even though you are outnumbered 2 to 1 in our house, you still keeps things in a state of semi-balance with your books and football versus my pink, pink, pink! :)
#14 - So many of our hopes and dreams have come true and we still have so many that we are still hoping and dreaming of. I can't wait to look back in 14 years and see where we are then compared to where we are now and what has happened with our hopes and dreams!

My love, I cherish every day with you! Happy Anniversary Bubba!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Top 10 Things NOT to Say to Someone With Chronic Illness

I ran across this image this week and could really relate because I have heard many of these things since being diagnosed with my illnesses. I'm posting this in the hopes that one less person with a chronic illness has to be hurt by someone saying one of these things to them.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

September 12-18, 2011 is National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. This annual event, started in 2002 by Lisa Copen, features a variety of ways to get involved. With nearly 1 in 2 people living with a chronic condition, about 96% of those people are suffering silently with invisible illnesses.

As a part of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, there is a meme, 30 things about my invisible illness you may not know, that many people participate in. Here is mine.

1. The illness I live with is:
not just one illness; fibromyalgia, polycystic ovarian syndrome, migraines, hypothyroidism, depression

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year:
fibromyalgia - 2009; polycystic ovarian syndrome - 1998; migraines - around 2002; hypothyroidism - 1998; depression - 1999

3. But I had symptoms since:
fibromyalgia - 2007; polycystic ovarian syndrome - 1997; migraines - around 2001; hypothyroidism - 1997; depression - 1998

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is:
having to use a power wheelchair and/or cane to get around

5. Most people assume:
that there is nothing wrong with me because I do not look sick

6. The hardest part about mornings are:
being in such bad pain that it is difficult to even get out of bed

7. My favorite medical TV show is:
I'm a long-time ER fan. It was part of the reason I became a hospital chaplain.

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is:
my cell phone; I use it to call doctors, find out information about health issues no matter where I am, and to call my husband, family, or friends when I need help

9. The hardest part about nights are:
waking up so often; I rarely get any restful sleep

10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please)
17 but that doesn't include if I need to take additional pain pills or pills for when I have a migraine

11. Regarding alternative treatments I:
have tried massage and acupuncture. Massage is helpful for up to 48 hours but I can only get massages when I find someone affordable (like the massage school in Houston). However, here in Carlsbad, I have not been able to find an affordable massage therapist. Acupuncture did not work for me at all. I tried, I really did, but it was very short-term relief and did not improve long-term as I was told it would.

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose:
visible, because then people would be able to see what I was going through versus always wondering or being unsure.

13. Regarding working and career:
I would love to be in ministry again, but the stress and hours that I endured during my 2 years as a hospital chaplain almost killed me. I am continuing to recover and rest and have Sabbath. Will I ever be able to go back to work? I don't know at this point.

14. People would be surprised to know:
how much it hurts to have people who I thought were friends disappear because I am not the person they think I was before my disease. I'm still the same person, some things just have to change because I cannot do all the things I used to do. Please continue to be my friend! I need people to walk this journey with me.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been:
not being able to do things I used to do, like running or taking a long walk or spending the day doing fun stuff with my family, because I'm in so much pain, because I don't have the energy, because my stability is so bad, because I am so stiff I can barely walk or sometimes cannot walk at all

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was:
fight through two years of 60+ hours of work per week, surrounded by stress, surrounded by illness, surrounded by pain, surrounded by death, surrounded by hate but also surrounded by love, surrounded by joy, surrounded by friendship, surrounded by hope, surrounded by grace, surrounded by peace; I honestly cannot believe I made it through those two years; there were days, many days I wanted to give up, but I didn't and I'm so grateful

17. The commercials about my illness:
are ridiculous; you cannot just take a pill and be all better; if only it were that easy

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is:
running, I would give anything to be able to go for a run, right now!

19. It was really hard to have to give up:
my mobility, yes I can still walk (some days), but I have to use a cane to do it and some days I have to use a power chair; I would love to be able to leave the house and walk around without having to use my cane, with the ability to use both of my hands versus having to figure out how to balance things with only one hand because the other hand is holding the cane; I am not truly mobile because I have to rely on something else to help me remain stable

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is:
none that I can think of. I have continued my hobbies of knitting, reading, blogging, drinking coffee/tea, watching tv/movies with my family. I think my plate is pretty full with these ones without adding another hobby. :)

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would:
be in the mountains at a great b&b, get up early, go for a long run, have a big breakfast with Russ and Damaris, go for a hike in the mountains, have a picnic lunch, come back down the mountain, have some alone time sitting beside the river with my journal, have a dinner date with Russ, and then back to the b&b to cuddle up in front of the fireplace

22. My illness has taught me:
to be more grateful

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is:
but you don't look sick

24. But I love it when people:
ask how I am really doing and actually take the time to hear my response and walk this journey with me

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:
Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT) - For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them:
surround yourself with people who love you and will walk this journey with you regardless of what happens

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is:
how much it impacts every part of my life; there is nothing that I say, do, think, or feel that is not impacted by my illness

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was:
bringing a meal for my family

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because:
I want others to realize that just because you cannot physically see an illness, does not mean it is not there. Please don't make assumptions. Please don't turn your back on someone because they are ill. Please keep walking the journey with me and others like me!

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel:
that you might want to understand what my life is like; that you care about me; that you want to be a part of my life; that you want to walk this journey with me

Monday, September 12, 2011

Action, Reflection, New Action

My friends and colleagues who have been in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) will get a kick out of the title of this post. Action, reflection, new action was a huge part of the CPE method. We put it into play with Damaris' schooling these last few weeks. We had located an online public school that is free that we thought would work for us. After about three weeks, we knew it just wasn't working at all. There were rules that were just too stringent that we struggled with. And it was miserable around the house as Damaris tried to find work to fill the hours after completing the daily assignments but not the hour requirement.

So, Russ and I talked yesterday and decided that homeschooling was still the right thing to do, but we needed to make some changes. Ultimately, we want to purchase the curriculum we used previously before she went to public school. However, that curriculum is going to cost us about $400 plus whatever it costs for a Spanish course (haven't decided which one to get yet). We just don't have that right now.

So I went searching online and was able to put together a curriculum that costs us almost nothing but covers everything she needs to be learning. We'll be able to include fun outings and I've reached out to the homeschool group here in town to try to get connected with them. Damaris is really excited about the change.

Already today, we are feeling much less stress and it has not been a fight to get her to do school. She is taking advantage of the fact that her G-Pa is off work today and she is going with him to pick up her cousin Lola and have a fun outing with them. If we were still doing the original curriculum, she would not have been able to do this because of the time requirements.

As I sit here typing this, there is such a sense of peace and calm in the house. This is what the homeschooling I remember (we homeschooled originally through the middle of 4th grade) was like. Sure, there were times when things got stressed or frustrating because of the struggle to learn and/or teach a particular concept, but overall, it was like it is this morning. So, we put into place action, reflection, new action and this new action seems to be working for us. Thanks CPE! LOL!

Until next time,

Some images are from Homeschool Boutique

Friday, September 9, 2011

Just Some Sentences

It's tough being a parent sometimes.

It's interesting to share a house with Russ and Damaris plus my parents and sometimes my sister, brother-in-law, and almost 3 year old niece. Things are certainly lively most of the time.

I have really bad self-control when there is candy in the house.

I am devastated that there is no Starbucks in Carlsbad. I really want a pumpkin spice frappuccino. Going from a place with a Starbucks on every corner to the nearest Starbucks being 75 miles away is tough!

I can't figure out why I'm struggling to get the same amount of stuff done in more hours than it took me when I worked full time.

I am anxiously waiting for the arrival of the Dish Rag Tag - Team Knit 1, Win 1's box. That means I have the USPS website up and I refresh it very, very, very frequently.

Russ sent me this blog entry Becoming Weaker & the Power of Powerlessness. Very moving! I encourage you to watch it.

There are at least 3 clocks in this house that play music on the hour. One of them is very confused because it plays Christmas music all the time.

Sleep is still not going well for me. Last night, I woke up pretty much every hour on the hour from midnight on. Took a nap this afternoon. Hope that doesn't mean I won't sleep at all tonight.

I lost almost half a pound this week. I just need to stay out of the candy (see above).

That's about all I can think of. Until next time,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thrills, Chills, and Spills

I'm writing to you now from the well known town of Carlsbad, New Mexico. Well, I thought it was well known until I ran into several people in the couple of weeks before our move who had no clue where Carlsbad is. I thought that the Caverns were more well known, but maybe not. Who knew? Anyway, we're here, we're unpacked, we're settled in.

And then came the thrills, chills, and spills!!!!!

The thrill, it looks like Russ has a job. He had a long interview this afternoon. He has to "jump through the hoops", but as long as that goes ok, things should go positively. We'll share more details as soon as we can.

The chill, well, it's quite literally a chill. The weather here in New Mexico has been so much cooler than Houston. And the humidity that was so oppressive in Houston is pretty much none existent here in Carlsbad. And the rain we got over the weekend made it chilly enough that Damaris and I needed sweaters. I'm holding onto hope that I'll be able to wear my long sleeved shirts and my scarves soon!

And finally, the spill, was also quite literal. I went to the store with my mom yesterday morning to pick up a few things we needed to have tacos for lunch with the whole family (that is, my mom and dad, Russ, Damaris, and I, and my sister Carrie, brother-in-law J.R., and niece Lola, and my nephew Wyatt but he won't make his grand debut until December). We had finished shopping and were headed out to the van. One of the store employees was helping us out to the van because neither my mom nor I could lift the flats of water we had purchased. I was walking just behind them towards the front door. Next thing I knew, I heard a crash and realized I was on the ground. We figured out that there was a good sized water puddle on the floor that no one had seen. I must have stepped right into it, slipped, and fell right to the ground. It took me a few minutes before I could get up. The store took a report and I declined being taken to the hospital via ambulance. I still am pretty sore. I thought I might have fractured my wrist but it seems like I just tweaked it a bit as well as a mild sprain to my left ankle. Other than that, I have bumps and bruises. I definitely do not want to repeat this spill.

Thanks for joining me for this episode of Thrills, Chills, and Spills. Join me again next time.... LOL! OK, I had to do it. Doesn't that sound like one of those old superhero shows where they have the *crash* *bang* *pow* on the screen? :)

Until next time,