Goals for 2019

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I am a very goal-oriented person.  I like to have goals, continually trying to improve and keep life challenging.  So, it is not unusual for me to have an on-going list of goals at any time of the year.  But, there is just something about January that kicks it up a notch, isn’t there!?

I have had a very productive (borderline manic & obsessive) several first days of the year.  I have been organizing everything I touch…so without even planning on it, I think one of my 2019 goals has turned out to be: I want to be more organized.

Another goal of mine for 2019 is to gain more Biblical knowledge.  I’m not saying that because it’s the “Christian-ese” answer.  It’s just something I know can always improve…literally everyone can.

One thing I can say with certainty is that New Year’s Resolutions rarely come to fruition without planning.  Here are a few tips to keeping your 2019 goals in focus.

  1. Write them down.  When you write it down, it becomes more permanent in your brain.  That, my friends is a scientific fact!  But, don’t stop at just writing your goals, continue with writing down what steps you will take each day to reach those goals.  It’s like mini-goals within the big goals!
  2. When it comes time to go into action, just do it.  Don’t make excuses, don’t put it off.  You don’t want your 2019 goals to end up being your goals again in 2020, right?
  3. Reward yourself.  For me that looks like buying a new shirt or book or colorful pens!  If I complete a handful of mini-goals, I allow myself a treat.  For you it will probably look much less shallow, like more prayer time or reading Numbers or Leviticus…but, whatevs!  It just has to be something that will help to motivate you!

What about you?  What is your biggest goal of 2019?  Have you already started? I would love to hear!

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The Bitterness Monster: How Big is Yours?

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Something that is commonly advised in Christian circles is to not allow bitterness to take root.  This, I believe, at least partially comes from Hebrews 12:15 –  See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.  It is good, practical advice anyway, but to know that it is a biblical truth and the warning that comes along with it, is compelling and reason enough for you and I to pay quick attention.  Many say that bitterness is like a weed that can overgrow and choke out anything that is growing and beautiful and producing fruit. (Also a biblical thought, see the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13.)

But, today I am visualizing Bitterness with a capital “B”, he is a monster.  He is literally Satan’s tool, or as John Bevere describes him, he is the Bait of Satan.  He is offense and hurt that takes that name: Bitterness.

Bitterness is an ugly monster.  It has a tendency to grow big if we don’t slaughter it with some serious work.  We have a very real enemy and he wants us to feed our Bitterness instead of slaying it.  If he can keep us distracted with anger, frustration, confusion and bitterness, then we won’t be actively seeking out others to tell about Jesus.  So, in essence, when you don’t deal with your Bitterness Monster, you help out Satan.  I don’t know about you, but I would guess that you don’t want to do that!  Neither do I!  We are supposed to resist the enemy and his schemes.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

1 Peter 5:8-9

Bitterness has the power to completely overtake you, affecting your relationships, your emotions, your thought life, your sanity, your health, and if not dealt with, eventually your character!  Bitterness left un-checked can divide families, friends, co-workers and churches.

Bitterness is also not simply black and white; either I have it or I don’t have it kind of issue.  It is much more complicated than that.  We can slaughter it and think it is gone, only to have it rear it’s ugly head again days, months, or even years after putting it to rest.  No, this is something that requires regular attention because it is rooted in our insecurities and previous hurts, it feeds off our past pain!  And as you and I know, new pain is often magnified by past pain, so sometimes we have to slay this monster over and over and over again.

Today I am doing a Bitterness assessment on myself and I thought I would invite you to join me.

First, I will let you know how I came to the conclusion that it’s time to assess.  I’ve been overwhelmed and frustrated.  That is unusual for me because I actually just returned from a beautiful, relaxing vacation.  Tim and I had seven full days of connection, just the two of us and it was truly wonderful.  I really love being with him, he is my favorite person.  So, I came home refreshed, or so I thought.  Within a day of coming back home, I was an anxious ball of stress.  And within a few days, I was a total mess.  This was my first indication that something was off.

Over time and through my relationship with Christ, I have learned that when I get anxious, I need to look inward and ask myself some questions to determine what is going on.  I begin by asking myself these questions:

  • Am I spending adequate time with the Lord? Probably every time, but at least almost every time I’m struggling with anxiety, this is an area where I have slacked a bit.
  • In my quiet time with God, am I zoning out or am I actually retaining what I’m reading?
  • When I am alone and it is quiet, what am I thinking about?  Am I hurt and thinking through that hurt over and over again?  Who am I thinking about?  Who am I mad at?
  • Am I feeling insecure?  If so, about what?
  • Am I praying?  Am I talking to God about what is eating at me?
  • Is there anything that I need to repent?  Have I messed up?   Do I need to apologize to God or anyone else?

Most of the time I quickly realize after asking these questions that 1.) I need to get over myself and 2.) I still need Jesus in a major way.  And that, my friends, is good to know!

But, knowing is only half the battle.  And quite literally, we are in a battle (Ephesians 6:12)!!  To know is good, but then it is time to take some serious action.

While it is a good illustration to imagine pulling the weeds of bitterness, today I like the idea of pulling out a sword and chopping off Bitterness’s ugly, foaming at the mouth, red-eyed, mean, hateful HEAD!  It’s a monster and today I am a warrior Warrior Princess (duh) and it is no match against me because Jesus is fighting with me and through me and for me!  Today I literally fight by making the choice to repent and apologize for messing up, I forgive, I spend more deliberate time with the Lord, praying and telling Him about who I’ve been upset with, and asking Him to take my burdens.  Today, I fight by remembering that my relationship with Christ is my priority.  And today that monster is dead, laying in a pool of blood and if he tries to rise up again tomorrow, or in a couple of weeks, or in a few months or years, I only pray that I remember to let Jesus fight for me again!

Please take a minute to ask yourself the same questions.  Have you dealt with your monster recently?  If you haven’t, I beg you to deal with it.  Please. For the sake of your relationships, your church, your sanity and health: Do it now.  If you need some help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Pastor or Christian Mentor.  Or, if you’d like, you can contact me: I am a monster slayer…I’ve killed many in my day, I’d love to help you kill yours.

Much Love.

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Memorizing Galatians

Happy New Year!

You may have noticed on the Gloss Facebook Page that I posted an invitation to join Beth Moore in memorizing the Book of Galatians.  YES, you read that correctly!  The entire book of Galatians!

Now before you think “impossible, I would never be able to do that”, I want you to know that IT IS possible and if I can do it ANYONE can seriously do it!  I have decided to go for it!  I immediately starting looking into some memorization techniques and I have found something that works well for me that I will share with you (keep reading).

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Now, my goal is to memorize the entire book of Galatians in 90 days.  That is 149 verses total, so I will need to memorize about 2 verses a day.

The technique that I found recommended that you read the verse 10 times, then say the verse out loud 10 times, then write the verse twice.  This has helped me tremendously!  After I follow these steps, I begin reciting the verse from memory.  Usually within another 5 or 6 times of saying it out loud, I am able to recite the verse without having to look at my index card.  Then, I add the verse onto the previously memorized verses, which helps it to come together.  I then repeat the verses together over and over until I have it down.  As of this morning, I have memorized 6 verses.  I am doing it!

You can join in as well!  If you decide to, please join us on the Gloss Facebook Page, so we can help to cheer each other on!

Another thing that I am wanting to do with this New Year is start a Bullet Journal!  If you haven’t heard of it, I recommend that you check it out.  Just punch “Bullet Journal” into your Pinterest search and scroll through all of the wonderful ideas!

As part of my new Bullet Journal, I created a page to track the Galatians verses as I memorize them.  I love it and I think it will be something that will help to keep me motivated.  I do LOVE to check items off of lists…I swear it releases some sort of endorphin, makes me HAPPY!  Good stuff!

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My Galatians Verse Tracking Page for my Bullet Journal. Love it!

Hope you join us!  YOU CAN DO IT!!!

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Chemo Begins and One of Many Miracles (Triston’s Story Cont’d)

Sometime after Triston’s surgery, he broke out in this severe body rash all over his body.  It was red and raised and so incredibly uncomfortable for him.  The Doctors were perplexed…they ended up calling in the Infectious Disease experts in!  Ultimately it was decided that it was an allergic reaction, but I got the feeling that no one was sure.  Poor baby suffered with that rash, and there wasn’t a lot they could do.  I remember laying next to him and rubbing the cream all over him to give him some relief.  I also remember a nurse becoming frustrated with me because I used to much of the cream (hydrocortisone cream – if I remember correctly).

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You can see the Rash in this picture. Hugging Daddy helped to make him feel better.

That rash was stubborn and difficult to get rid of, but eventually it did go away.

Triston started chemotherapy while we were in that first long hospital stay.  I remember his hair falling out onto his pillowcase, so I asked Tim to bring the clippers and we shaved his little head.  We got a picture of him in his navy blue polo onesie next to Tim in Tim’s navy blue polo.  They looked so much alike.  That made us all feel better.

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Bye Bye Hair. Now he really looked like his Dad!

During those days in the hospital, we were surrounded by family.  I have so many stories.  But here are a few:

My mom paid her hairstylist to come and cut my hair in the hospital because I couldn’t get out of bed and my hair was long and just too difficult to take care of with all that was going on.  He charged too much, but my mom just took care of it.

Tim’s best friend, Ryan came down from Fort Collins and offered some comic relief for Tim and I both.  At the time, I was in Labor and Delivery having contractions and the nurses were monitoring me.  Someone else in the family was keeping an eye on Triston on the Pediatric floor.  Ryan and Tim took office chairs, sat on them, pointed their feet toward the wall and pushed off of one end of the hospital hallway with their feet and rode the chairs until they stopped closer to the other end of the hallway.  I can remember giggling as I watched them move their legs like crabs on those chairs to try and push themselves faster, so they could be faster than the other.  I laughed so hard that my chuckles were registering as contractions and the nurses were getting frustrated with all of us.  It sounds silly now, but we all laughed and laughed until we couldn’t laugh anymore.  I think we just really needed that.  I’m forever grateful that Ryan took the time.

I remember our new friends Mike and Liz coming to see Triston in the ICU, offering help in any way, having so much compassion.

Our pastor came nearly everyday.  He walked right into the horrifying ugliness of it all and prayed for Triston.  Then, he would ask the church to pray for Triston.

The night we were told about Triston’s treatment plan, there was a room full of family and friends, all making a circle around Triston’s hospital crib and hanging on every word of the doctor.  Everyone wanting to know what they could do to help.  And every last one praying for our baby.

During this time, Triston was so sick and just wouldn’t eat anything but Cheerios.  The Pediatric floor always had Cheerios, so it worked out ok.  But one night they ran out!  Triston was really wanting some and when he wanted to eat, we made it happen because he wasn’t really eating much at all.  His grandpa (Tim’s dad) went to every floor of the hospital that night searching for Cheerios.  He searched until he found them!

My Step-Mom, brother and sister traveled from Texas to come and visit Triston.  My brother, Charlie would play with Triston and make him laugh.

When I needed to go to see my doctor and Tim was at work, someone was there to help with Triston.  I don’t ever remember having to call and ask someone to come.  They were always within arm’s reach.

Our entire family was there. They would continue to be there in the coming months to help with whatever we needed.  We had an incredible support system.  At the time, (and even now) I don’t think Triston had any idea how blessed he was in that way.  But, Tim and I noticed and we are forever grateful.

Toward the end of that first, long hospital stay, I went to see my doctor.  After weeks of bedrest, he was amazed to see that I had no signs of active labor.  In fact, for the first time in his medical career he observed that all signs of active labor had literally reversed.  I was no longer dilated!  I was told that this doesn’t happen…it’s impossible.  I was free to take care of Triston, no more bedrest!  This was just one of the miracles we experienced during this time in our lives.

After about a month in the hospital, Triston was allowed to go home.  As long as everything went ok, we would continue chemotherapy, out-patient through a clinic.

This was just the beginning of a very long, difficult, involuntary, amazing journey.

 

 

Concerns for Baby Number Two (Triston’s Story Cont’d)

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Rare picture of Triston hugging me. This is proof that he loves his momma.

When we received Triston’s diagnosis, I was 22 or 23 weeks pregnant.

At 24 weeks, due to the obvious stress, I started to go into pre-term labor…Yes, just when we thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse.

I was having contractions and labor had started.  My doctor immediately put me on strict bed rest.  I remember being so devastated because I desperately wanted and needed to be with Triston.  I wanted to be the one taking care of him.  The thought of someone, really ANYONE else doing that made me crazy.

I remember that while they were earnestly trying to stop the labor, I had to be on one floor of the hospital while Triston was on another floor.  All night I laid there worried about Triston, unable to rest.  It really is unbelievable looking back now.

By God’s grace,  we had already grown so connected to the nurses and doctors that they were on a mission to keep Triston and I together.  For a time, the hospital staff became like family.  So, in short order, Triston and I were in hospital beds next to each other in the same hospital room.  I remember having the impression that this was something the nurses had to push for…I remember being so grateful for them and that they were advocating for our family.

For weeks, Triston and I laid next to each other.  Triston went through so much discomfort during those days in the hospital.  He didn’t want to be touched, but he wanted me by his side.  So, that is where I stayed.  Day in and day out.  Tim would be there when he wasn’t working, family in and out all of the time, but the two of us didn’t move unless one of us had to go for testing or another procedure.

I was in active labor.  Some days the contractions were so bad that I was convinced the baby would come.  I was already dilated…it was looking like I would need to be on strict bed rest for the remainder of the pregnancy.  That was a serious problem.  Triston needed me able and ready to help with all that he was going to go through over the next several months.  I needed to be available!  So, we prayed…

Check back soon, there is so much more to share.

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There are several entries that tell Triston’s Story.  If you would like to start from the beginning, click here.

We Prayed (Triston’s Story Cont’d)

The next part of the story is really woven through the entire story.  We prayed.  We prayed the entire time.  We didn’t stop praying.

Today I will share with you how prayer took priority and how my husband, Tim led our entire family in that.

Tim grew up in church.  He was a church kid.  His parents were actively involved in church and his childhood memories are filled with stories about previous Youth Pastors and friends that he knew from church.  Throughout his life, Tim grew to understand the power of prayer.  He knew that praying is what needed to be done when Triston was diagnosed.

Sometime, early on in the learning that Triston had cancer I can remember Tim tracking down a phone book.  I watched him dig through the phone book, looking for churches.  As we sat in the hospital room with Triston, that man called one church after the next asking if they would please add Triston to their prayer list.  Over and over, phone call after phone call.  I was amazed by that.  I also remember being exhausted by that, in complete honesty.  The thought of talking to anyone was just beyond me…I didn’t have it in me.  I was holding on for dear life, but in looking back, I realize now that I didn’t even know what I was holding on to.  Before prayer entered the picture, I think I was relying completely on my instinct.  That is a really terrifying place to be.

There was a point in time when Tim walked toward the door to leave Triston’s room. I asked him where he was going.  He said that he was going to the hospital chapel to pray.  I remember being so surprised that there was a chapel in the hospital…wow!  I asked if I could come with him.  We left Triston with whatever family member was visiting at the time (someone was always there – more about the amazing support we had later in the story), and we went together to pray.

When I remember our prayer that day, my heart fills with so much love for Tim, gratitude for God and relief that our prayers were answered.  My heart also aches for those who likely prayed the same prayer, but received a different answer…to them I say, “I’m so incredibly sorry.”

That day, the two of us knelt between the wooden pews of the hospital chapel and prayed.  We thanked God for Triston.  We told Him that we trusted His plan for Triston.  We handed Triston over to God that day.  We asked for healing.  We cried.  We held tight to each other.  And it may seem unbelievable or maybe even cliche, but I really want you to hear me: I had a peace; I really did…that peace is what got us through…that peace was our lifeline, and it was because of prayer.

It was a very raw and personal moment.  It was probably the first time I realized what a ROCK my husband is.  I remember being so grateful that I had him by my side.  And nearly 16 years later, I feel the same way.  I believe in my heart that moment is a pillar in our marriage, cemented by the prayer we prayed.  It reminds me of the story Jesus told of the builders in Matthew 7:24-27.

I believe that because Tim’s first action was prayer, the entire journey is wrapped up in prayer.  When I would have a bad night, dreaming about baby coffins and Triston dying, Tim would pray for me and I would do the same for him on his bad days.  In the years since, we have heard of so many people who were praying for Triston from around the world.  People we didn’t even know came to our defense in prayer.  Families and friends prayed.  Our church family prayed.  Doctors and nursers prayed.

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Triston getting hugs from my niece Delaney, who is just a few months younger than Triston. Reese is also in the picture, creeping in the background. I sure love these kids.

Prayer works.  Just look at him now.

More of the story to come.  Thanks  for reading.

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This is just one entry of several telling Triston’s story.  If you would like to read from the beginning, click here.

ICU – The Tumor Grew (Triston Cont’d)

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Triston showing daddy something in the ICU.  In this picture you can see Triston’s broviac (the tubes).  This was installed for administering drugs (including chemotherapy) and withdrawing blood.  No more poking!  That was a good thing!

I’ve stopped numbering the entries about Triston’s story by parts.  From this point forward, I will do my best to go in chronological order (although, there is so much I can’t say with certainty that I even remember in the correct order), but each story is just one part of our journey and they don’t necessarily need to be read in order.

Triston, by this point in time had only been in the hospital for a short while, less than a week.  When they gave him blood, which he absolutely needed to stay alive, something awful happened…

The reason why Triston was critically anemic when this journey started was because he had a large tumor (Neuroblastoma).   That tumor came up from his left adrenal gland.  In order for that tumor to survive and grow (and it did grow, it was huge) it needed blood, so it stole Triston’s blood.  When Triston started to run out of blood, the tumor stopped growing  and likely even began dying.

But, when they gave Triston blood, the tumor grew some more and grew fast!  Neuroblastoma is an ugly, mean tumor (not that there are ANY nice ones, they are ALL JERKS).  It grows tentacles that reach out and wrap around internal organs, the spine, and anything else it can reach.  Triston’s tumor went from his left adrenal gland, up through his abdomen and began pushing up on his heart and lungs.

 Little side note: Triston was diagnosed with Stage 3 Neuroblastoma.  They number the stages from 1 to 4.  1 being the least dangerous and 4 being the most dangerous.  A diagnosis of 4 means that the cancer has spread.  Triston was diagnosed 3 because the tumor was large and aggressive, but the cancer had not spread.  At the time, a stage 1 diagnosis was unusual for Neuroblastoma patients (usually kids) because it was so difficult to find that it wasn’t usually diagnosed until it had grown into stage 2, 3 or 4.  One Doctor told me that Triston may have had Neuroblastoma since he was in the womb, but it was difficult to know for sure.

One day, Triston began struggling to breath and his heart rate sky-rocketed.  I wish I could remember the numbers, but I just don’t.  All I remember is that his heart was pounding so fast, it felt like it was going to burst out of his chest.  He also panted…he just couldn’t fill his lungs, so he would take short, shallow breaths repeatedly.  As a result, they put him in ICU.  His blood oxygen levels went dangerously low.

It was scary.  Very scary.

During Triston’s entire battle, death was hovering.  Sometimes it felt like death was standing at the door and would come in any minute.  This time in ICU was like that.  It was too close.  Our baby was so sick. I was afraid to leave Triston’s side.

I remember a conversation between Tim and I as we stood on either side of Triston’s crib in ICU, each of us holding one of Triston’s hands and holding hands with each other across the rails.  Tim said that he couldn’t imagine how I must feel, that he was so worried and terrified and he knew that I must really be suffering because I carried Triston, this baby grew inside me.  I remember thinking in the midst of all of this that it was so amazing to me that Tim was trying to imagine how I must feel and was concerned about me too.  I thought to myself how grateful I was that I had him there.  I would have told him, but I think I was just trying to keep it together in front of our sweet boy.  Don’t worry, I’ve told him since…many times.  He has always had my heart, but after what we’ve been through together, there is a connection between us that I consider a very real gift from God.

Triston was in ICU for some days, maybe up to a week…hard to remember for sure.

They needed to get him stable, so they could start his first round of chemotherapy and start to kill that tumor!

I don’t know what they did, but eventually he was stable enough to start chemo.  I will continue with the story soon.

Thanks for reading!

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This is just one entry of several telling Triston’s story.  If you would like to start at the beginning, click here.