Honor, Courage and Duty

Philippians 1:20

My deep desire and hope is that I shall never fail in my duty, but that at all times, and especially right now, I shall be full of courage, so that with my whole being I shall bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.

From the New Life Study Bible: To those who don’t believe in God, life on earth is all there is, and so it is natural for them to strive for this world’s values; money, popularity, power, pleasure, and prestige. For Paul, however, to live meant to develop eternal values and to tell others about Christ, who alone could help them see life from an eternal perspective. Paul’s whole purpose in life was to speak out boldly for Christ and to become more like him. Thus, Paul could confidently say that dying would be even better than living, because in death he would be removed from worldly troubles, and he would see Christ face to face. If you’re not ready to die, then you’re not ready to live. Make certain of your eternal destiny; then you will be free to serve- devoting your life to what really counts, without fear of death.

St. Paul has some awesome words for today’s devotion. He’s praying that he will never fail in his duty. That he’s full of courage and brings honor to Christ, whether he lives or dies. He’s clearly unafraid. His words are truly inspiring and although they were written thousands of years ago, we can still use them today in our daily lives.

We can pray that we never fail in our duty – Our duty to others, our duty to God, our duty to live a Christ-like life.

We can pray for courage – Courage in all that we do, courage to stand up for what we believe in, courage to be brave in the face of illness or adversity.

We can pray to bring honor to Christ – Honorable acts of kindness to others, honorable words to our family and friends, and to make Christ proud of our efforts to honor Him in all that we do.

If we pray for all of these things, we can help others become more like Christ. Although it’s not easy to be Christ-like every minute of every day, we can pray like St. Paul. We can pray for the courage he had. We can pray for the honor he showed. And we can pray that, whether we live or die, we have lived a life worthy of being called Christ-like.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do you honor the worlds values of money or social status or power? Or do you honor God? If you struggle to follow God and are tempted by the world’s pleasures, pray for the courage St. Paul had. Pray for unfailing love to the Lord and the ability to turn away from the things the secular world considers valuable.

You have a Purpose

Jeremiah 1:5

“I knew before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

From New Life Study Bible: God knew you, as he knew Jeremiah, long before you were born or even conceived. He thought about you and planned for you. When you feel discouraged or inadequate, remember that God has always thought of you as valuable and that he has a purpose in mind for you.

At times, many of us must wonder what our purpose in life is and how can we figure it out? How do we discern what that purpose is?

We’re all called to something, some kind of role in life. Many people feel a pull, or even a PUSH! from God in a certain direction. More often, I think we know when we are NOT meant to be in a certain role (like a job, or living in a certain city, or in a relationship). Sometimes you can feel that it’s wrong, or just not meant to be.

We should be careful not to obsess over this. Pray about it, of course. But a better way to go about finding our purpose might be to choose to become the best version of ourselves in every action we make. If you wake up everyday attempting to live your life in a godly way – choosing good over evil, choosing hard work over laziness, choosing smiles over sadness, how can you not say you’re not living your purpose?

Fit in your Faith Today: Are you constantly searching and discerning what God’s purpose is for you? Recognize that this is something we all wonder about. But spend more time in prayer asking God to open your eyes to your purpose so as not to close your eyes to other things around you that require your attention.

A Little Help: Listen to this Podcast from Busted Halo as they discuss this exact same question.

Don’t be a Jezebel

2 Kings 9:36

“But when they went out to bury her, they found only her skull, her feet, and her hands.”

Jezebel’s skull, feet and hands were all that remained of her evil life – no power, no money, no prestige, no royal finery, no family, no spiritual heritage.

In the end, her life of luxury and treachery amounted to nothing.

Power, health, and wealth may make you feel as if you can live forever. But death strips everyone of all external security. The time to set your life’s course is now, while you still have time and before you heart becomes hardened. The end will come soon enough.

-From The New Life Study Bible

 

Fit in You Faith Today: Do you appreciate life more than power and money and social status? If you stripped away every material thing in your life, would you still consider yourself to be “rich” in your life? As the study guide suggests, it’s never too late to set your life’s course. Our time on earth is never guaranteed.

A Personal Creed

I promise myself…

I will not use the color of my skin, my gender, my job, my level of education, or my abilities to exploit myself in any way for profit, for likes, for clicks, for jobs, or for promotion.

I will not blame others for my circumstances.

I will treat every stranger I meet with respect.

I will look everyone in the eye when speaking to them.

I will ask myself one question after I meet someone new for the first time: “What can this person teach me?” OR “How can I help this person?”

I will watch my language and my choice of words around my family and friends knowing how I speak can influence them, sometimes without even realizing it.

I understand that no human being is perfect, especially myself.

I will look for the good in every stranger I meet.

I think the word “respect” is not used enough and will show respect to every person I meet, regardless of their social status, their job, their appearance, their sexuality, their religion, their age or their gender.

I will donate my time when I am not able to donate money.

I will take full responsibility for my actions, even if I hurt someone because I made a poor decision.

I will forgive those who have done me harm or done my loved ones harm.

I will not use social media to spread false information; I will research the truth and the facts.

I understand life is precious.

I believe my actions speak louder more than my words ever could.

I will use my time on earth to live a positive life and not let others bring me down.

I will start everyday with a prayer for people who don’t pray.

I will never boast about any good deed I do.

I will say thank you when I am given a compliment.

I will listen more than speak.

I will stand up for myself to those who try to tear me down with words or actions.

I will not believe everything I see on TV, everything I see in print,  and everything I hear on the radio. I understand in this imperfect world that there are dishonest people and sometimes their voices are louder than the honest ones.

I will be honest in all things, even if the truth hurts myself or someone I love.

I will not judge those who are different than me. I will not assume what I don’t understand. I will not ignore what I wish I didn’t hear or see.

I will laugh and smile as often as I am able.

If I wake up everyday able to smile, even if I have lost the ability to speak, or walk, or hear, or see, I will do my best to fight to keep smiling as long as God gives me time.

I will encourage all young people to live their dream, no matter how many times they are told NO.

I will tell everyone who has a voice that although their voice might be small, they can make a big difference.

I understand positive and good and wonderful and joyful are not words that make headlines. But positive and good and wonderful and joyful events and people live in this world and do great things everyday. It’s just small number of people who insist on spreading negative and bad and evil.

I believe if violence can spread, that means the opposite action can happen. And that means there is more opportunity for GOOD to overcome the bad. And set the world right. And maybe one day the bad will be conquered and good will prevail.

I believe at the end of my life, I will think “I could have done more. I should have done more. I would have done more…”.

I know in my life now, I can do more. I should do more. And I will continue to do more.

I believe if everyone wrote their own personal creed, and lived it, there would be better days ahead.

36 Life Lessons

Tuesday is my birthday and I’ll be 36.  Since I’m big on numbers (and low on blog ideas) I thought I would babble share 36 things I’ve learned. But we are always learning aren’t we? I suppose we never stop until the day we take our last breath.  So here’s what I believe to be true. Some are funny, some are serious, some are fitness related, but most are not. All are very random.

1. When given the choice, I will always eat my calories instead of drinking them. Gimme a cheesecake over a Mojito any day of the week.

2. Cleveland is the best and the worst city to live in during football season.

3. Friends are temporary, family is forever. Treasure them while they are here. Don’t decline or ignore their calls and messages. One day you won’t hear their voice anymore and you’ll wish you had listened more.

4. Speaking of friends, let go of toxic relationships. The people that claim to be friends with you unfortunately will disappoint you and maybe even hurt you. Once or twice is understandable. But if they mock what you do, or don’t understand you or gossip about you or just plain bring you down? Time to say goodbye. And it’s okay.

5. Spend time alone. 10 minutes or 10 days or 10 weeks. Read alone. Go the movies alone. Have your morning coffee alone. Too many people spend so much time joined at the hip with someone (spouse, partner, kids, co-workers). How can you really get any downtime if someone is always in your ear? Oh and before I get accused of being Sad and Lonely Single Gal, alone does not equate lonely.

6. Weighing yourself on the scale everyday is a quick path to obsession with your body, and weight, and numbers. It’s not a representation of what’s on the inside. And if teenage girls (and boys) learned this from a very early age, it would save so many tears. And years of therapy. Seriously.

7. Don’t do things just so you can post about it on social media as a way to brag and boast. This is not to say all status updates and tweets and IG photos should be profound or inspirational or serious. But I always (TRY) to think before I tweet “Is this something anyone is even going to CARE about? Will it bring a smile to someone’s face? Will it make anyone think differently perhaps?” My point? Make it mean something. If you want to babble about mundane things, start a blog.

8. Creamy Peanut Butter trumps Crunchy Peanut Butter every day. Don’t even try and get me to like your crunchy crap. It’s basically WHOLE PEANUTS wrapped in Peanut Butter! What is the point???

9. You can live off PB and J on white bread for 18 years everyday for lunch and still be okay. I’m living proof.

10. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I was afraid of raising my hand in class when I was in grade school. I don’t really know why or how it started, I just remember faking stomach aches more times than I should have at a young age. I was petrified of asking something stupid. I was afraid of being called on for answering any questions too! I should have asked more questions. I was a big coward and it really messed me up academically.

11. Be selective and picky about major purchases as well as relationships. I’m talking everything from a car to a husband. Do research. Read reviews. Choose…wisely.

12. Forgive those who do you wrong. And don’t hold it above their head. You may not forget very easily, but forgive people who don’t even forgive you.

13. Don’t wait for a certain age or time in your life to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Do it now. Why wait?

14. Money doesn’t buy happiness. I don’t know this for sure, however, since I have never had a lot of money. But I know it doesn’t buy happiness because I’m happy now and have been for quite some time. I’m probably the poorest I’ve ever been in my life…but I’m quite content. Weird!

15. People say don’t be afraid to fail. I think that’s true, but I don’t think you should ever AIM to fail. I think you can have miniature failures in order to be hugely successful. And by the way, what you think and define as successful, is probably way different than someone else’s definition. I’ve already had 3 mini successes in the past 24 hours. 🙂

16. If you say it, you become it. If you’re always telling yourself that you’re unhappy, or ugly, or fat, or angry, guess what? You ARE that person. You BECOME unhappy and fat and ugly. But if you wake up and say “I’m not thin now, but I’m going to be” or “I’m not super happy at this moment, but I’m not doing too bad.” I think people start to SEE that in you. I’ve seen it myself and I’ve been there myself. It’s a fact. There is power in the words you use to describe yourself. Use the good ones, stop saying the negative ones.

17. Social Media is a time suck. I’ve had a love/hate/love/love/hate/hate/love relationship with it for what seems like almost forever. On one hand, we can’t seem to live without it to get our news and stay in touch with people. On the other hand, it can really damage our REAL relationships. Someone posted recently: “If social media ceased to exist, how many people would lose their identity/their business?”  Food for thought.

18. Speaking of food, take time to learn how to cook 3 good dishes. 3 things that you cook REALLY WELL. They don’t have to be extravagant or something that would be found in Epicurious. Just something you do really well and that you are totally proud of. Then tweet it out. 😉

19. The DVR is the best invention of my lifetime.

20. The Smartphone is the second best.

21. When someone breaks your heart it’s the worst feeling in the world. But that feeling when you wake up knowing you have moved on and you are over them? Damn that feeling is so good. And then the feeling of being HAPPY for that person because you realize you were both meant to take different paths? That’s the BEST feeling!

22. There are no such things as coincidences; everything happens for a reason.

23. Don’t speed. Don’t text and speed. Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive. Just don’t. If you’re tempted, picture the youngest relative you have crossing the street in front of you and not being able to stop in time. Sounds horrific doesn’t it? That’s the point.

24. Back to social media – If someone posts something you disagree with, you can either skip over it and ignore or it start to debate. If you’re going to debate, debate. Don’t ever mock someone or make them feel small by ridiculing what they are saying. I guess it goes back to #10. No one wants to feel stupid, so don’t do it. Take the high road. Every time.

25. Skinny jeans are the worst invention of all time and while every BODY is different, not every BODY should squeeze into those. I’m just sayin.

26. Try not to judge. You really don’t know what someone else is going through. Why are certain people just plain jerks? Who knows! But maybe they have issues that you can’t even begin to understand. Give them the benefit of the doubt.

27. Don’t knock it before you try it. I did this recently with golf. I hated it. I hated watching it. I thought it was stupid and boring and I couldn’t believe people got paid millions to play this silly game. Then I tried it. Then I started watching it. Then I started practicing. And now I love it. I still hate it, but I love it. And I appreciate it.

28. Don’t give gifts unwrapped. Presentation is everything. I’m a horrible gift wrapper so I resort to gift bags usually. Giving a gift as is says “I don’t really care.” Wrapped gift says: “This gift might not be too expensive, but at least I wrapped it in pretty paper to make it look expensive.”

29. If you ever want to feel old, watch re-runs of Law and Order when they had to call the precinct from a Pay Phone. And they refer to the internet as the World Wide Web. It’s…hilarious.

30. Speaking of Law and Order, you can never watch too many episodes of L&O. If there’s a marathon of that show on, settle in because you are going nowhere for hours!

31. Do your dream job. I’m a big believer in doing what you love. The best book I ever read was “The 4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss.  I quit my job 6 months after reading it. I loved it so much I gave it to two other people, who quit their jobs less than a year later and are now totally happy as well.

32. Stop worrying about what people think of you. I did this mostly in my 20’s. It’s such a 20’s thing to do isn’t it? Care about what people think?! Nah. Not anymore.

33. Cursing is not an attractive quality. I have a hard time with this one but I notice how much I curse when I hear others curse and I think “Oh no, that doesn’t sound very good at all. Shit, is that what I sound like? Oh shit I just cursed!” Yep, it sounds bad. It doesn’t make us bad people, but, we should try and cut back, ya know?

34. Timing is everything. It can be the right time for you, but the wrong time for someone else. That’s just how it goes.

35. Write more. Real writing, like, by hand. And send them in the mail. Like the real mail. People love getting mail that isn’t junk. Don’t they?

36. Always hit the SAVE button when writing a long blog post. I had to re-write this all over again because I forgot I wasn’t logged in to my site. And my first reaction?  Laughed…a lot. Which is a great way to end this:

Laugh more. At everything!

Mom Comes Home

Momandme1

My mom passed away one year ago today and ever since, I have been adding a little bit here and there to this blog post, knowing I’d want to publish something on the anniversary of her death.

At first I was going to write about her life.  And maybe someday I will.  But now right now.  Today I want tell you the journey she took to her final resting place.

She was diagnosed in August of 2009 with a rare type of T-cell lymphoma.  She had already been displaying strange symptoms since March of that year but it took months of tests to finally diagnose her.  After 6 rounds of chemotherapy, she was declared to be in remission by her oncologist.  We celebrated that Thanksgiving.  It seemed it was a miracle, although we were warned this type of cancer could come back in a few years and chemo might not work.

That news did not deter my Mom from living her life as “wild” as a 62year old could.  She spent as much time doing things she enjoyed and said YES a lot more than she said NO.  She would babysit my nephews more often.  She would attend my nephews baseball games and come with us to Cedar Point and went to every wedding and graduation party she was invited to.  Lots of lunches and dinners with friends and family as often as possible.

justmom1

In June of 2012, she started having symptoms again.  This time, all the tests came back negative for lymphoma.  But it was obvious to all of us, and her, that something wasn’t right.  This time instead of a cough and a rash, it was stomach pain.  And back pain.  And loss of her voice.  Although her voice never completely went away, it was probably one of the worst things to happen to her.  See, she was quite the gabber.  She talked to my sister every morning over the phone for years!  She’d chat with friends over lunch, she’d chat with her customers at the bridal store she worked at.  That was all gone once she lost her voice.  Not to mention the pain she was in was heartbreaking to witness.

Now, I’d come downstairs to see her in the recliner, sleeping, or trying to sleep, and in pain.  The worst was the feeling of hopelessness as you watch someone in pain and there’s nothing you can say or do to help.  Too sick to go to work.  Too tired to go anywhere.  Too weak to even move off the recliner.  This went on for most of the summer until August when removal of her lymph node confirmed that her cancer was back.  It had been a frustrating time since every other test did not show the cancer.  But her oncologist said it was the type that hides.  Well, it stayed hidden for months.

The chemo this time around was changed slightly to treat the cancer.  And after a few treatments it seemed to be working.  As anyone who knows someone or is on chemo will tell you, it’s like a rollercoaster.  She had her good weeks when she was able to have enough energy to shop and visit with friends and she had bad weeks when it took many days to recover from the chemo.

momsleigh

By the time Christmas came around, it seems as though she took a turn for the worse.  It became harder for her to breathe and she seemed weak.  She didn’t want to sleep for fear of not waking up.  She slept downstairs in the recliner and there was always someone with her at all times.  A few days before Christmas she went into the hospital and it didn’t look good.  We weren’t sure she would be home for Christmas at all.  But she was determined.  She knew the situation wasn’t good but she also knew she didn’t want to die in a hospital.  She insisted to her doctor that she was going to go home.  I believe his initial reaction was, “We’ll see.”  But my Mom was quite stubborn.  There was no way she was going to miss Christmas.

The situation was so grim, that she actually sat with me in the hospital and told me her final wishes.  It wasn’t really a conversation.  It was definitely one-sided as she spoke and I cried.  She told me the dreams she had for me, she told me how she knew everyone would be okay but that we should look after each other.  She did say something quite funny actually:  “Michelle, oh you don’t need any man in your life so you’ll be okay.”  🙂  Thanks Mom, ha!

But she also said some sad things like “I don’t think Sean will remember me.”

“I don’t have any regrets in my life…but I do feel like I’m being cheated a little bit.   I really wanted to watch Matthew play baseball one more time.”

“I’ve never been afraid of dying and I’ve always been a faithful person…but I’m wondering where is my faith right now?”

“I know this last round of chemo won’t save me.  But if I could just have a few more months…”

Well, God heard her prayers, all of our prayers.  Because the next day she got the all clear to come home.

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The first thing she insisted on doing when we got her home was to finish wrapping the Christmas gifts.  She could barely lift the scissors and the tape but she insisted.  She was adamant about celebrating Christmas.  It was always her favorite holiday, especially to see the look on my nephews faces as they opened up their gifts.  And us too.

As we celebrated Christmas that year, it was clear this was going to be her last.  You didn’t want to think about it, you didn’t want to believe it.  But you knew.  And you knew that she knew.

January and February of 2013 were pretty good.  We actually had hope for a little bit.  The best was when her voice came back.  I came down the stairs to the sound of my Mom on the phone with my Aunt.  I said, “Your voice Mom!!! It’s back!”  She was glowing, she was so excited.  It was the first REAL evidence that there was some hope here.

But, most of the time, you could tell she didn’t want to get her hopes up too high.  None of us did.  I always prayed for her to be healed.  To be cured.  I couldn’t help but think, “Are my prayers just being ignored?  What gives?”

Mom had one more GREAT day.  She got to spend it with my aunt at the casino downtown and eating Paczki on Fat Tuesday.  She said to my Aunt,  “This was the best time I’ve had.”  She took this picture of her in the car, with her paczki of course.

Fat Tuesday with a Paczki!
Fat Tuesday with a Paczki!

It was literally a week or two later that she was fine one day and bad the next.  You always hear about how that happens and you always think, “Oh I’m sure they’re exaggerating.”  No really, she was really okay one day and the next day she couldn’t breathe.  She went in to get the fluid drained from around her lungs and her heart and while she was there she sent all of us a text that said: “Hospice worker coming at one. Can you come?”

Well that pretty much knocked the wind out of me.  It was one thing for one of US to think about hospice.  But when SHE is initiating it…that changes the ball game.

Ironically, when we all walked in around the same time, my Mom looked better than ever.  She looked like she never had cancer.  It was the strangest sight.  The hospice worker even looked at her like, “Ummm…are you sure you need hospice?”

But that was our Mom’s gift to us.  She knew none of us would ever recommend or even say the word hospice unless she said it first.  It had to be her decision.

It was clear from talking to hospice that Mom wasn’t quite there yet and she had options.

She came home the next day though and we thought, “Okay maybe she has more time than we thought.  Maybe this isn’t so bad.”

About a week later, she was back in the hospital again.  This time she couldn’t breathe again, and needed to be drained, again.  But as soon as they drained her, shortly thereafter, the fluid was back.  It was getting to be too much and they couldn’t keep up with the drainage.

She needed to be put into a wheelchair to get back into the car.  And when she came home we needed to help her into the house.  That’s when she changed right in front of my eyes.

Her voice became tiny and high pitched, and she said her legs felt “weird” and she said she was ashamed and embarrassed that she needed a wheelchair to get into her own house.  We told her not to worry about it but you could tell the life that was inside her was diminishing.  I looked at her for the first time and she looked like she aged 20 years in that minute.

Two days later she asked for hospice.  She sat there with me and told me “This is no way to live.  Call hospice, it’s time.”  I didn’t argue with her.  I don’t think I even cried.  I was more just in shock  that this was happening.

I stopped praying for healing or a cure.  I knew it wasn’t because God wasn’t answering my prayer, He was trying to tell me I was praying for the wrong thing.  This time, I prayed for her to go home.

3 days later, she took her last breath with my Dad at her side.  Those three days were quite possibly the most beautiful moments as well as the most awful three days of my life.  No one should have to see a loved one dying in front of them.  But there were moments from that weekend I will never forget and some day I will write a nice long post about it.

Until then, I take comfort in the memories I have of my beautiful mother.  The notes she left us that we found at Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The pictures of her around this huge empty house.  The sound of her voice and her laugh that I still have on saved voicemails and videos.  And of course, the look on people’s faces when they speak about her.  I have given up trying to tell people how amazing she was.  They simply will never know her and as much as it hurts and pains me to know that YOU will never know who she was, it’s okay now.  She lives on in me and my sister and my brother and my nephews.  So if you ever want to get to know her, just ask me.

I could talk about her forever.

zoofamily

Finding the Spirit

A few weeks after my bodybuilding competition, around Halloween, my sister Nicole and my nephews, Matthew age 11 and Sean age 5, came over to hang out.  My sister all of a sudden had a desire to decorate the house like our Mom used to.

My mom was beyond festive.  She decorated the house for every holiday.  It was adorable and sweet and so fun to walk into the house, even around St. Patrick’s Day, and see little shamrocks everywhere and the house decorated in green decorations.  You know how most people just have boxes in their basement labeled “Christmas”?  Yeah, we have ones labeled “Easter” Valentine’s Day” “Memorial Day” “Halloween.”  You get the drift.

So Nicole started bringing up boxes from the basement and in the closets that were labeled “Halloween/Thanksgiving.”

She opens up the first box, reaches in…and sees a little note with my Mom’s handwriting on it.  “Take care of each other, Love Mom” was written on it.

We were just in awe.   It was of course a bit of a shock to see my Mom’s writing on something in a decoration box of all places.  But we assume she must have thought “Well, they’ll have to go through this box at some point” to ensure that we found it.  It was such a last-minute decision to even decorate the house, knowing we couldn’t do it justice like Mom did, that I almost thought it was luck that we even found it.

Nicole took the note home and rightfully so.  None of us thought we would find any more…until…

Fast forward to just after Thanksgiving.

My sister and I decide we are going to try to bake my Mom’s dessert bread.  This bread is very special.  It’s a recipe my Mom found years ago when we were little and she made it for her friends for Christmas and she made it for Easter too.  This was HER bread.  And it tasted amazing!

Nicole and I baked 4 loaves and they turned out just like Mom’s!!! They are a little gummy in the middle but I recall she had that problem too sometimes.  No big deal.  Slap some butter on that and you don’t even notice.  My nephews tasted it too and they agreed: “Just like G used to make.”

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While we waited for the bread to rise, I asked my sister if she and the boys would help me put ornaments on the Christmas tree.  It’s been kind of hard to get in the festive spirit but we put on some Christmas music and started opening up the ornament boxes.

Guess what we found in the first box?  Yes, another note from Mom!!  She actually wrote it in 2011, just a quick little line about “I’ll always be near you.”  Then she wrote underneath that note in 2012.  “I miss all of you.”  At first I thought she just got the years wrong but Nicole and I think she just wanted to write notes even when she wasn’t sick, just in case.

We hung up the ornaments and I went through some other boxes of decorations to see if I could start to put things up around the house.

I immediately started looking for this mailbox she had.  It has a snowman on it and it’s pretty big but small enough that she kept it on our island in the kitchen.  She would put little toys or pieces of candy in there for the boys.  So everytime they came over, she’d say “Check the mailbox!”  She always had two of everything she bought – one for Matthew one for Sean.

Well, I found the mailbox.  And you know of course I thought to myself “There’s gonna be a note in here.”

Of course there was.  🙂

And it was intended for Matthew and Sean.  It was dated January 16th of this year and it says “I’ll always love you.  “G”

I quickly put the mailbox on the island so the boys wouldn’t see and I went back into the family room and said “I found the mailbox, why don’t you guys see what’s inside?”

So they walked over and opened it up expecting to find candy or something from me…Sean can’t read of course but Matthew saw it and started to smile.  I told them “Go show your Mom.”  So they went over to Nicole who didn’t even know I had found the mailbox and they showed it to her.

Poor Sean asked “What does it say??”  None of us, not even Matthew, could get the words out, we were so choked up.  I finally blurted  out “Do you recognize that letter?”  And he said “Yeah it’s a G.”  I said “That’s right, that’s from G.  It says that she’ll always love you.”

And of course my sister just kind of cried and I started to tear up but I didn’t want Sean to think I was sad and it was interesting because his reaction was sort of joyful.  Almost as if he thinks “Well duh of course she misses me.”  My mom’s big concern was that Sean would not remember her and I assured her he would.

He probably mentions her more than any of us at really random times. I think my Mom speaks to him through him.  I wouldn’t doubt it.  He dreams about her a lot too.

Since that night I have found one more note in a wreath box that was dated in 2011 as well.

It was so nice having this little treasure hunt of sorts around this time of year.  It’s obviously the first Christmas without her so it’s been a little difficult. But knowing she left these notes for us to find after she was gone has helped ease the pain.

This Christmas, as my family and I sit down to dinner, we’ll attempt to make it as festive as we can.  It won’t be the same but now we can tuck these notes away and take a look at them when we miss her the most, and see that she’s still here.

Watching, making sure we’re taking care of each other, knowing that she will always love us.

gsnote

Looking for the positives in a sea of negatives

Feeling a little strange writing a post after such a violent and morbid week in our country.  But someone on Facebook mentioned “In times like this it’s really easy to just give up…with everything.  Not just fitness but life goals in general.  But now is the best time to exercise your mind and your body.  A time to heal.”

My pastor put it well this morning too in his homily…”Find the joy, even in times of evil and tragedy.”

On a lesser scale, we do tend to give up in times of struggle don’t we?  An injury will sideline us and leave us feeling like it’s just easier to give up rather than try to heal quickly or correctly.  A bad weekend of food bingeing or drink might make us feel like throwing in the towel and just buying all that processed food that we so adamantly swore off not too long ago.  A loss of life or a big life event might make us reconsider finishing up a project because we just don’t have the drive anymore.

But the time is more perfect than ever to get back up and try again.  To not give up…and not be a quitter.   Friday was a particularly difficult day in my own personal life after I got some discouraging news about a family member’s illness.  Obviously not trying to compare two events but this past week seemed particularly depressing for numerous reasons.

So this post is about the positives I have found in my little life this past week:

1.  I got to hang with my best friend and update her on all this figure stuff last night.  She even volunteered to make “Piccolo Supporter” t-shirts when it’s competition time. Too cute. (Of course I’m considering her letting her do this because lets face it, who WOULDN’T want their own cheering section with t-shirts!?)

2. I posted my progress pics with no serious side effects.  This was a hard thing for me to do, self reflection sucks.  But necessary and I’m very happy that I did.

3. I’m enjoying this global warming 60 degree weather today.  As I walked out of Yoga (yes Yoga) today I couldn’t help but smile and feel like after a tragedy like this, comes a re-birth.  I’m such a yogi. 😉

4. My nephew celebrated his 10th birthday on Saturday and he is such a thankful child. I’m very much the proud auntie.  Grateful I have not one but 2 adorable nephews to spoil.

5.  I still FEEL good.  I explained to my friend last night that although it was just 10lbs, I feel like I’ve lost more and never realized how much it was, literally, weighing me down.  Feels good to fit in clothes like they were meant to fit.

Time to go prep my food for this week and keep on truckin along on this fitness journey.

If you have a goal (and you know you do) don’t give up.

Don't give up!
Don’t give up!