3.31.2012

First love....


Look at the way he gazes at his mama.

There's nothing like your first love. <3

lurve you, xoxo v.

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Okay, so I FINALLY got a page for the blog up on Facebook!
Make sure you click the "LIKE" button!

lurve you, xoxo v.

3.28.2012

A woman's heart....



Porn.  I hate the stuff.  And whether or not they admit it, I believe most women do too. 

I was just glancing through my google reader list, and I saw the first (maybe only?) line of a blog that I often read saying that she found her husband's secret stash today and apparently he likes redheads.

My heart pained for her when I read that because I know what that feels like.  Even if she would deny it and try to play if off as if it didn't really bother her, I know that it did.  She wouldn't have written that blog if it didn't. 

I always reference one of my favorite books, Do You Think I'm Beautiful by Angela Thomas where she says that in the heart of every woman beats that question.... do you think I'm beautiful?  That's what influences every word, action, wardrobe choice or hairstyle that she has.  The heart of a woman craves acceptance, love and loyalty and every action that the man in her life chooses to make either reinforces that he thinks she is beautiful or it works to strike against her self-esteem by planting the suggestions that old shame-monster likes to whisper in our ears like, "Maybe he doesn't think you're beautiful anymore.  Maybe he likes her better." 

When a man has chosen a woman, he has an obligation on a daily basis to calm the questions in her heart and to reinforce his loyalty to her.  I've heard it said, "If you want to know the spiritual state of a man, look in the eyes of his woman."  There is so much truth to that because if a man is centered and grounded and has a compassionate, loving, committed heart for his mate, she knows it and feels it and her eyes will reflect that.  When a man chooses to ogle other women in the presence of his partner or when she finds out he's been looking at pornography, the light in her eyes dims.  Her sense of security and of beauty take a hit.  I wish men would learn this.  Instead, most of them make excuses that they're not dead yet, or it doesn't hurt to look.  It does.  It does hurt.

Although I have been there in the past, I would never again in this earthly life be with a man who I knew looked at porn.  I know what you're all thinking.... "they ALLLLLLL look at porn and they're lying if they say they don't!"  I used to believe that too, but I don't anymore.  I think the men that don't are rare, but they do exist.  And the one's who look at porn or would have a "secret stash" that their women could stumble across are the ones who are not worthy of my time or life.

I feel bad for her.  

lurve you, xoxo v.

3.27.2012

Benlysta....

So I had my third Benlysta infusion recently and things are seeming like their going to go okay being on this med (can I get a *woot woot*).  The day of the infusion as well as the day after are difficult.  It makes me SO. TIRED.  And tired in a whole other way than lupus/fibro tired, if that's even possible.  I get pretty nauseous too, but that has gotten a little bit less after every infusion.  

I wouldn't say that my hair loss has stopped (because it definitely hasn't), but I would say that it has slowed down.  And I actually have my little "lupus halo" around the top of my head where little baby hairs are growing in.  The chronic chest pain that I have has diminished and I'm slightly less achey on a regular basis.  The biggest thing that I've noticed, however, is the change in energy level.  My energy level and endurance are dramatically better.  Compared to a normal person, I'm probably still sluggish, but compared to my normal lupus self, I have energy for days.  

The downside is that my immune system is compromised and I am seeing evidence of that in various ways, which is a little scary.  Especially since I'm a nurse who is in the face of sick people every day.

I'm now done with the loading doses that come every two weeks and have moved up to the once monthly infusions.  Hopefully, this continues on a great course and I continue to see great things from it.

lurve you, xoxo v.

Do you know how COLD this water is?

CRAZY girls!
This water is still freezing!
But they turned the sprinkler on
and jumped right IN!
<3

lurve you, xoxo v.

Stillness....


Stillness.  This is something that I have craved for as long as I can remember.  I have never been one who likes a lot of hustle and bustle.  To leave the house and run a bunch of errands, or even to go to a party seems a bit like a punishment to me rather than a reward.  Some people thrive on busyness.  The more they are doing, the more alive they feel.  Paul, for example, loves a bit of chaos.  First thing in the morning (unless I'm still sleeping), he loves to flip on the radio and have music blasting through the house.  He loves the sound of a dozen kids playing, laughing and bouncing off the walls.  If there are 20 activities going on in the house, he is happy and at peace.  He feels alive and blessed.

I, on the other hand, wither and wilt in that environment. When I first wake up, if I hear that music flip on... or a loud tv, or kids being crazy... it's like a cheese grater running across my nerves.  The hairs on the back of my neck stand up and it instantly sets me on edge.  The first words that will pop into my head are "noise pollution" or "noise rape."  It can set the tone for the whole rest of the day if it starts out that way.  I struggle for the rest of the day to bring myself back into balance and have a peaceful attitude.  My soul craves stillness and solitude.

Don't get me wrong, I love that my kids are around and all of that, but when I get down to what makes me feel centered and peaceful in my own skin, it involves a lot of quiet.  Often, when things in life are a bit crazy and I'm feeling stressed, overwhelmed and out of balance, it is usually because I have not been kind to myself.  What does being kind to myself mean?  I suppose it's different for every person, but for me, being kind to myself means giving myself quiet time, reading my Bible, meditating, doing yoga, staying away from the phone or texting too much.  Those are the keys to a happy life for me and I can always tell when I've violated my own rules because I will be cranky and on edge, easily agitated, stressed, have a headache, etc.  It the Tylenol is disappearing way too fast, then I know it's time to get myself in line again.

I used to do yoga every single day and meditate twice a day.  I LOVED how I felt during that time of my life!  I easily lost 30 pounds and was joyful and peaceful.  People who were in my life back then sometimes still tease me because I was actually described by someone as being "effervescent" at that time and sometimes I still get my chops busted about it.  But there was truth to that.  I was my most authentic self at that time and was the most still, centered and happy.  And you can tell when a person is in that space.... you know, the God-space where they are as close to what He created them for as they can possibly be.... they kind of glow, don't they?  They are effervescent.

I am not effervescent at this point in time.  Trust me.  But I want to be, and I know that I can be.  And I decided today that effervescent is one of the goals I have set before me.  I watched one of the new Oprah shows today where she went to Fairfield, Iowa (I think?) where everyone in the town practices mediation twice per day.  While watching, I wondered why in the world I ever stopped meditating.  Seriously, when there is something that is so good for you, that feels good after you do it and has proven physical results of decreasing stress, improving heart health, improving quality of sleep, improving peace and decreasing depression and anxiety, etc etc etc..... WHY would I stop?  I think it's difficult when you live in a house full of noisy people to carve out a space twice a day where things are quiet, even for 20 minutes.  But I know that I have to try.  It's that important.  As soon as the show ended, I turned everything off and did my first meditation in a long time.... and I feel wonderful now.  I feel calmer, almost like a cat rolling around in catnip. This definitely needs to be a priority.

What do y'all think about it?  Anyone want to join in and meditate every day and compare results?

lurve you, xoxo v.

3.22.2012

Gah! It's moonface!


Prednisone...
it's the drug I love to hate.
Hate hate hate!

After about a year-and-a-half of being on it (again),
I have gained 45 pounds, gained a lot of weight in my belly & around my waist,
and am getting the dreaded "moonface."

Blah!

My face is SO round now!

The same thing happened several years ago when I was on it,
and my face went back to normal after being off for a while.
So, there is hope.
But look at these before and after shots of my face shape....

BEFORE....




AFTER....


Screw you Prednisone!
And screw Lupus!

lurve you, xoxo v.

3.20.2012

Vulnerability....



Uninspired.

That's how I feel lately.  Drained.  Numb.  Quiet.  Afraid to say too much or move too quickly because something may rock the boat even harder.  Waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I feel more resigned to the probability of it dropping verses waiting for it to drop.  Terrified.  Sad.  Oh so sad.  Grieving.  Baited breath.  On guard.

The upside?  Fears that I faced for years and years seem be gone.  A kind of peacefulness fills the fear-hole that used to exist.  Much of the time I'm grateful that I don't have time or ability to go to therapy because I'm afraid of rocking the peace boat.  I'm afraid that if I talk about past issues that it might disrupt this veil that has settled on me and those past issues might start trying to be current issues again.  Thoughts of that devil coming to hurt me or mine don't really register on my radar anymore.  At least not now.  Therapist told me that the panic and terror that I was experiencing would dissipate.  She said, "Believe me when I say in six months, maybe even three months, it's going to be okay." I didn't think it was possible, but out of nowhere it happened.  I was just okay.  When I think about it, a part of me tries to search for the fear.  I can't believe it's not there.  It has to be there somewhere.  But when I can't easily locate it, I stop searching and simply say "thank you".  God is good.  Amen.

Know what else I know?  That He won't give us more than we can handle.  Which brings me to the next chapter.  I think that perhaps if I had to handle that on top of what I have been brought to next, I just might crack.  As I typed that, I could feel my chest grow heavy, my eyes well up, my breath catch.  These past few weeks have been full of moments of  a grief I never saw coming.  It's been hard for me to talk about or put into words.  Hard to say the words out loud.  So, I avoid phone calls, don't respond to texts, don't update my facebook status, don't tweet, don't blog.  

How do you make yourself vulnerable and acknowledge things that you don't want to acknowledge?  Especially when you know that some people reading your blog root on a daily basis for your downfall and for bad things to happen to you?  Because let me tell you, the first sniff I get that anyone is happy about what is happening in my life right now, I just may come through this computer and cut a bitch.  On top of that, how do I respect my daughter's privacy and yet obtain support for myself of have people pray for her?  How much privacy does she deserve after the things she has done lately?

You all read a few weeks ago about how out of the blue she ran away one night and the anguish that came with that.  Fast forward a few weeks... a few weeks of happy times, smiles, laughs, what seemed like progress... until out of the BLUE,  I am awoken at one in the morning to let me know that now she has STOLEN MY CAR.  

STOLEN. MY. CAR.

She is 14.  And she was driving.  Guess where?  Yeah to the boys house.

At first, I had thought I was being told, "Someone stole your car!"  So I'm dialing the police and they ask which direction it was taken.  Brandon says, "She went that way!" and so I repeat that to the police.  "He says she went west!  It was a female!"  He butts in and says, "It was your DAUGHTER!  MADDIE took your car!"  Well that changes things.  *sigh*  So the police came.  They said that when they found her they had to arrest her.  Of course we knew exactly where she was going, so the police and Paul pretty much met her there.  By the time Paul showed up, she was already in the back of the squad car in cuffs.  She was then taken and booked in with all the hard-ass and gangbanging cholas.  Grand theft auto, curfew, trespassing and driving without a license. 

Yeah, take a moment to soak that all in.  One instant that may have ruined her life.

What I really need to get across though is the surprise of all of this.  Because if you spent 5 minutes around her, you would NEVER imagine that she would do anything like that.  Imagine the sweetest girl ever... all of a sudden, out of the blue, deciding to get out of bed and steal a car.  The next day she just looks at you with a bewildered look and says (I think honestly), "I don't know why I would do something like that.  It seemed like it was the right thing to do at the time.  Looking back I can see how crazy it is, but at the time it seemed right."

Looking back at the day that she ran away and then this last day, what grieves me and scares me to death is acknowledging what I see.  Let me give you a short list of events from her day and see if you see it too.  The girl who normally lays around and watches tv all day, who has to be forced to do anything..... was upbeat and giggly all day.  She begged to be allowed to go swimming and jump in the pool, even though it was chilly outside and the water is still freezing.  She spent about an hour swimming and laughing.  Then she grabbed the cleaning supplies and went outside and cleaned out my car (her own idea), then she did all of her laundry AND folded it.  Then cleaned the kitchen.  She hugged everyone goodnight, even her little sister, told us she loved us then skipped up the stairs.  Then she stole a car and went to jail.

Do you see what I see?

I have too much experience looking at this devil to not recognize it.

Manic.

I think my daughter is bipolar.

That about cracks me in half to say that.  I hate that disease so much.  How many people that I know and love have to suffer from this?  Now my little girl.

I am grieved.  I need prayer.  Support.  Love.  So does she.

lurve you, xoxo v.

3.07.2012

The view from where I sit....

I took this with my cell phone last week as I was sitting 
on the hallway floor trying to organize some of the linen closet bits and bobs.

I'll try to take some more actual pictures of the house and what I've been doing tomorrow.

I have to say, I think it's coming together nicely.
The front room (the one you're looking at here)
is a bit of a challenge for me,
because it is the one that most represents Paul.
It will have his old entertainment center in it and his big desk, etc. 
And it will be decorated more in a southwest/Indian theme
than I would ever like to admit is in my home.
I know, I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to this stuff.
I like what I like.
And I reserve the right to change my mind and like something new tomorrow.
And I believe (seriously, I do.  And firmly) that the woman is the heart of the home,
and that she should be the main source of inspiration for decorating.

But, because I love this man,
I have agreed to represent "him" a little bit in the front room.
Well, more areas than that,
but we'll start there.
Yesterday at Hobby Lobby,
me & my best intentions went inside and bought a few things that are more "that" style than I've ever bought before,  (But hey, how could you resist 50% off?)
and came home and put them up.  It's enough for me but I can tell he wants more.
What I want is to not be embarrassed when a guest walks through our front door and the first
representation of our home they get is his southwest bits and older furniture.
And not older as in cute and vintage or antique,
but just older.

We also have all of his older dressers in our bedroom. *sigh*
And older end tables throughout the home.
Most of them look ok,
I'm trying to make the best with what I have.

Then there is the downstairs guest bath that I am doing in a nautical theme
(because of him).
Now personally, I used to have my bath done in this cute theme...
and then it went out of style.
In like 1998.
Right?

So, I'm trying to do a little more of a modern take on it and make it cute again,
and he's hurt that I don't want to use his pastel framed seashell pictures from the 90's,
or his dusty basket of faded shells.
I sound like such a jerk.
The thing is,
I would like to compromise.
I would like to use his picture, but PAINT the frame and make it look nice.
But no.  He gets very sad and offended if I say I want to pain something,
like my rejection of the out of dateness of that item is actually a rejection of him as a person.
It's a sticky area.

But it's coming along.
It's not all together yet,
but it's getting there.

And I have to admit I'm kind of sad about it.
Because I love the new beginning and the unpacking and finding fresh homes
for everything.
I walk around looking for boxes to unpack,
ready for a new adventure,
only to find that there are no more boxes and that it's all done.
It deflates me and makes me sad. :(

Pictures soon.


lurve you, xoxo v.

3.03.2012

Heart outside of my body....


6:45 am I find the note on her bed telling me she has finally gathered up the courage to run away.  Away.  That means not here, somewhere else.  That means she has been alone out there in the night.  I am suddenly and sharply reminded that when you have kids your heart lives outside of your body.  The tears begin, police are called, searches are made.  Nothing.  No one has seen her.  I can't tell if anything is missing from her room because we're still moving in and who knows what is still packed.  I think she is at least wearing her coat...until one of the kids finds it.  Her gray hoodie is gone.  All she's wearing in this frigid 30 degree night is a hoodie?  My heart breaks even more and a fresh round of tears come.  She has no money.  Her phone is here because it was taken away from her yesterday for having a smart mouth.  She left with no money, no phone, no coat.  This is why the police aren't terribly concerned and think she'll be back quickly.  But they don't know her.  She thinks she is bulletproof and will be fine.  I know her.  And besides, just because she left the house as a stupid teenage runaway, doesn't mean she is still safe.  A little white, blue eyed girl with a backpack on walking the streets of Phoenix in the dark doesn't make her a target?  She could be across the border and sold by now... or dead in a ditch.  We harass him all day long.  That being the "him" that we know she will be heading toward.  It is the only thing that makes sense.  Nearly two years of fighting this battle and it's still going on.  She is forbidden from seeing him and so has turned it into some Romeo and Juliet type of situation in her head.  She has decided that he is her true love and that nothing, not even a 30-mile walk in the dark through the scary back roads will keep them apart.  Not even breaking her mother's heart.  Not even bringing anguish on the house and people who love her.  He denies seeing her.  Denies knowing anything about it.  He's lying, call him again.  He still denies.  He's lying, call him again.  I know he's lying.  Paul knows he's lying.  The police go question him at school and he lies to them too.  He says he hasn't talked to her in 7 or 8 months.  Liar.  Her best friend says they talk every single day from school and video chat during class.  She says they have been together and never stopped.  This makes me amp up my harassment of him.  Tell me where she is.  He doesn't know.  I say, even if she's not there already, she will be.  I know it in my soul.  And when she shows up, you'd better call us immediately.  He will, he's so sorry ma'am.  He'll do anything to help.  Liar.  He finally gives us his new address and his mothers new phone number.  I call her and convince her to keep her eye out for Maddie through the night.  She doesn't see the point because her boy says he doesn't talk to this girl anymore.  Yeah, but he's a liar so please check anyways.  Look under beds, check closets, check your back yard.  Paul and I drive the 25 or 30 miles to his house and comb the streets in the dark.  I sob uncontrollably.  I can hardly breathe.  My head throbs from 24 hours of crying.  I scream her name as loud as I can over and over, my voice cracking and distorted with emotion.  Every park we pass, every place she could be hiding.  I yell it over and over.  As I do this, I think about John 10:27, "My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me."  If she hears my cries, she will know me and come to me.  She has to.  She is my little sheep, my little duck.  She will come.  She doesn't.  Call him again.  He's lying.  She has to be here.  I feel her.  She has to.  We make the long drive back home.  The police have started taking this more seriously and have come back for photos of her to make "Have you seen me" posters.  She is in the National Database.  All I can do is cry.  I have no control.  I am helpless.  I look at her room.  I have to believe she will be back in it soon.  How can she be gone another night?  Another cold night with no food, no warmth?  Doesn't she love me?  How can she want to leave her home?  I decide to give up control as best as I can and go to bed.  I leave my phone on vibrate, sure that I will hear it if it goes off.  But no, I and everyone else in the house are so emotionally drained that we all fall into a God-sent restorative slumber.  A slumber so deep that we didn't hear the police at our door.  I found out later that they were out there for at least 45 minutes.  They tried to call me at least 10 times, they pounded on the door with their fists and their nightsticks.  They finally resorted to turning on their air horns and sirens at 3:45 in the morning, which finally woke up one of the kids.  I heard nothing.  I woke up to one of them knocking on our bedroom door yelling, "The police are downstairs!"  As I leaped out of bed and threw my clothes on, my stomach was dropping.  Is she home?  Or is this one of those, "I regret to inform you that we have found the body of your daughter" visits?  As I run down the stairs, my eyes are scanning for her.  I don't see her.  Only the officer.  Finally, he says the words.... "We have your daughter."  ELATION!  I am so happy all I can do is let out these guttural sobs of joy.  In she walks with the other officers.  Exhausted, eyes sunken, pale.  gray hoodie on, hood pulled up.  The mother actually did what I asked and checked her sons closet that night... and there she sat.  In his closet.  The girl that he claimed to know nothing about was in his closet.  What a liar.  I knew it.  Sore from walking so far, exhausted, bruised, starving.  She is home now.  She is remorseful, tearful, ashamed, sorry.  There's now been a day of healing at this point.  She is quiet.  She's seen a small glimpse of the people who have crawled out of the woodwork to support her and pray for her.  Humbled.  I don't know what happens now.  But she is home.  And I am so so grateful.

lurve you, xoxo v.
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