I’ll Tell What I Want, What I Really REALLY Want

Unless you were born yesterday, you’ve probably heard the saying, “Be careful what you wish for!” Or if you’re a devout Christian, it’s more like, “Be careful what you pray for!”

The day I decided to begin taking my new anti-depressant medication was April 1st. I have said and done a lot of foolish things in my life, but I’d like to think I’m no fool. Like most people, I didn’t just wake up one morning to discover I was suddenly 60 pounds overweight. I don’t ever remember waking up thinking, “oh gee … I think I want to be depressed today.” Realistically, I’m smart enough to know that both weight loss and treating depression is going to require a certain amount of time. Pretty much every thing good worth having in life takes an investment of time.

I began seeing a pain management doctor for my knee pain a month prior to my son’s wedding. Because of the usual insurance company runaround, it took some time to get approved for any type of treatment. Once seen by the doctor, he prescribed a round of injections in both knees to help with the pain.

We started with Cortisone, which I’d previously tried, with little success and this time was no different. We moved onto hyaluronic acid which could provide relief for up to a year. It bears mentioning that I have an intense dislike and pretty significant fear of needles. I needed four rounds of shots times two knees. That equals eight needles. During the first round, the doctor accidentally hit my bone which only reinforced why I hate needles. He said it was a million to one shot for that to happen since he used a fluoroscope to guide the needle. Go figure. I certainly didn’t feel lucky!

I was scheduled for my second round of shots about four days after beginning my anti-depressant. My appointment was scheduled for late afternoon and I could feel myself getting all worked up in a fearful, frenzied state as soon as I got out of bed. I tried to do a simple workout on my stationary bike to take my mind off my appointment anxiety.

 

The worry that I’d have another bone-piercing, painful appointment was very real. About 15 minutes into the workout, I started feeling very winded and my heart began pounding at an unusually fast, hard pace. At first, I just assumed it was exercise exertion, but it quickly became apparent that I was feeling something I’d never felt before. I was feeling slightly dizzy and light-headed on top of everything else.

As I called my husband in a panic, I couldn’t catch my breath and thought … “Holy crap … this is it … I’m having a heart attack!” Now I know that just a week and a half ago, I’d been begging God to take me quietly in my sleep. It was never my idea though, to be fully awake when the death knell tolled. Like most people, I’d really rather have death come swiftly, painlessly and preferably while asleep or unconscious.

As much as I thought I wanted to die – when faced with the very real possibility that I was having an actual heart attack and potentially staring Doctor Death in the face, I freaked. “Lord, this is not what I had in mind at all!” My overactive imagination (or perhaps the accusatory voice of the enemy in my head), had all but convinced me the anti-depressant had caused this heart episode. This was my fault because I never read the warnings or side-effects of the medication.

In my desperation for this medication to work, I was afraid my overactive imagination would manufacture any warning symptoms. A classic ignorance is bliss mistake on my part. Perhaps I really am a bigger fool than I gave myself credit for.

My husband works quite a distance from our home, so he called my youngest daughter and she called her siblings. Within a very short amount of time, both my daughters arrived. My son called me, as well as my new daughter-in-law – who is a registered nurse. After describing my symptoms, everyone agreed that I should go the ER, just in case.

I checked in with the triage nurse, explaining “I’m 60 pounds overweight and almost 60 years old. I think I’m having a heart attack.” That was enough information to get me seen very quickly.  I explained my anxiety regarding my upcoming pain management appointment and told the nurse about the new medication I was on. After a few hours of heart tests and blood work, I was diagnosed as having had an acute anxiety attack. I’d never felt so stupid in my whole life.

The nurse who treated me said it was in fact, smart of me to get my heart checked out. She confessed to me that she also suffers from depression and anxiety. “I couldn’t do my job – probably wouldn’t get out of bed, without the help of my anti-depressant and anti-anxiety meds,” she admitted.

She reassured me that depression and anxiety are very real mental illnesses and there is no shame in taking medication for them. Both my daughters agreed with her and reinforced to me that it was smart for me to be on medication. Apparently they all could see that I was not okay with taking medication for depression.

This incident may have been triggered by my “needle anxiety,” but it revealed my underlying issues about the depression meds. While I had prayed for peace about taking the medication, my “episode” showed me that I’d secretly been feeling very ashamed and conflicted for needing medicinal help. The ER visit made me face the fact that I really hadn’t fully released my worry and “shame” to God.

Once the doctor gave me a clean bill of health and sent me on my way with a chill-out drug coursing through my veins (and one that he recommended I take before every knee injection), I made a decision that enough is enough.

Either I believe God’s Word and trust Him — or I don’t.  I have an illness that requires medical intervention, but this illness does not have to define me and it does not have to control every aspect of my life – especially if there are medications that can alleviate my symptoms.

Insert my standard: the devil is a liar, proclamation here!  One sure way of knowing that the voices in your head ARE NOT God, is simple. If everything you’re hearing in your brain is negative or self-destructive … THAT IS NOT THE VOICE OF GOD! That is the voice of the enemy!

God’s Word tells us in Jeremiah 29:11:

Did God give me depression? Emphatically … No! BUT, God can certainly use depression to help draw me closer to Him. (*SEE: Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28.) Because God never wastes pain, I like to think that anything that He teaches me through depression and anxiety, will be something I can use to help someone else someday.

If you are suffering with depression on any level, I urge you to talk to someone. It can be a friend, relative, trusted professional, crisis hotline, etc.  God does not want you to suffer in silence. Jesus died for me. Jesus died for YOU.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday. ~ Author Unknown

 

My daughter’s attempt to distract me from worry while I was in the ER was to steal my phone and change my wallpaper settings! I LOVE her sense of humor!

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Tearing Down The Wall

Residents of the desert southwest like myself, have come to expect a myriad of wild weather conditions during our monsoon season. During summertime, the Phoenix metro area frequently experiences a remarkable weather phenomenon known as a Haboob. (YES, that’s a real thing!). A Haboob is a dust storm of ginormous proportions that moves across the city usually from horizon to horizon and can be as much as a mile high.

These dust storms move quickly and generally are followed by intense thunder, lightning, wind and rain. The weather trailing the Haboob is always a mystery. We never know what’s behind the wall until it hits our area. These storms are dangerous if you get caught in one while driving as visibility is reduced to nil. The wind currents or amount of precipitation can vary drastically depending on your area of town. The winds are pushed or pulled by the jet streams and it can be tricky to predict an exact Haboob trajectory.

haboob 2

If you’ve ever suffered from any type of mental illness – especially depression or anxiety, sometimes your brain and emotions can feel just like a giant Haboob. When an “episode” hits, it’s oftentimes hard to predict what emotions are behind the wall of depression. For me, an episode can mean I’ll be sad and weepy one minute, only to leap frog to intense despair the next or a dark anger that scares even me. Just like an unpredictable summer monsoon storm – I never know which way the wind will blow my emotions.

Following my son’s wedding in March of last year – I had fallen into a pit of depression and despair that was so deep, the only way out seemed to be to “check-out.” I love my family and was happy for my children’s marriages — but for me … life as I knew it, no longer felt like it was worth the effort. I went to bed for many nights praying that God would come and take me quietly in my sleep.

Unfortunately for me, depression runs deep in my family DNA. My siblings and both parents suffered with depression. Having battled depression since childhood, I knew the signs … but truthfully, I’d never been that bad before. This was depression and despair on a whole new “lower level.”

As “luck” would have it, the week following my son’s wedding, I’d had a pre-arranged doctor’s appointment for a blood pressure check-up, which was running pretty high most of the time. (Go figure, since I was 60 pounds overweight.)

stetho

 

Days of “death prayers” were enough to let me know that I’d slipped into the deep end of the depression, pity pool and I needed help. Badly. I was anxious to talk with my doctor. Although, “talking” was a relative term, since I let loose with a full-on crying jag and emotional meltdown the second she walked into the room.  She was so kind and somehow gleaned through my sobbing that I was struggling with abnormal depression.

We discussed medication options, but I’d tried medications before and hadn’t experienced great success. The medications shut my emotions down completely until I literally cared about nothing. I felt dead inside. Very Walking Dead zombie-ish.

I just assumed medication wasn’t for me. In part, I believed for many years that while medication was great for everyone else, as a strong prayer warrior, I felt terribly convicted – almost guilty, for resorting to medication. As a Christian, I felt ashamed that I couldn’t just pray away the darkness. I’ve since amended my opinion and now admit that God is capable of healing us (ME) in whatever manner He sees fit – be it medication, therapy or prayer.  After all, it is God who gives people the intelligence to create lifesaving treatments and medications.

My doctor finally prescribed a medication that she promised did not a have a “weight-gain” side-effect. Obesity was part of my depression so the last thing I needed was to pack on additional pounds.

pills

Once I filled the prescription, I waited a full week before I began taking it. I prayed for the entire  waiting period until I felt a peace from God. I sought the wise counsel of several trusted friends and eventually decided that if an anti-depressant is what it would take to help me, then God could certainly work through medication.

**SIDE BAR NOTE:  As mentioned previously, the devil is a liar who will work hard to interrupt God’s plan for us. If you are struggling with depression, my prayer for you is that you will seek medical help and/or counseling. I was foolish enough to let the enemy get in my head and convince me that my faith in God was subpar because I was putting my hope in pills rather than God.  After praying for confirmation and peace, I believed quite the opposite. As soon as I started the medication, I prayed every day that God would work through the pills. I was sure to tell Him daily that my hope and faith were in HIM and not the pills. I was fully trusting the Lord to work through the medication.

We have courage in God’s presence, because we are sure that he hears us if we ask him for anything that is according to his will.  1 John 5:14 (GNT)

Trusting God for healing is always difficult and takes an incredible amount of faith – especially if we are struggling with a long-lasting condition. After living with chronic pain in my knees and feet for the better part of a year AND lifelong depression … I WANTED to trust God completely. To “let go and let God” is a tall order for someone who positively hates to wait for anything and struggles with major trust issues.  That “impatient-waiting-on-God-to-move” thing … that my friends, is a club I could be president of!

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  Mark 9:23 (NIV)

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.  ~Thomas à Kempis, Imitations of Christ, c.1420

 

 

 

 

The Last Straw

Remember, if you’re headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns!
~Allison Gappa Bottke

People can be quite funny sometimes. When someone discovers you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, they suddenly want to rub up against you hoping weight loss is something you contract like a skin-to-skin infection or an airborne virus. Oh, if only. If it were in fact possible to infect yourself with a fat-eating superbug by mere touch, I’d likely have been arrested decades ago for inappropriate fondling and/or serial stalking.

People don’t like to hear that losing weight, is now — and always has been, about eating less and moving more. Oprah at one time commented, “If there were some sort of pill you could take to make weight loss easy, don’t you think I WOULD have bought it by now!” Or, something to that affect anyway — because let’s face it, Oprah has more money than she can spend in one lifetime. If such a pill existed, she would have bought an entire factory of fat-flushing pills by now. What she did do instead, was buy stock in the Weight Watchers® organization, so that should tell us something.

Weight loss usually comes down to what I call, “the last straw moment.”

Years ago, when I was at a “normal, healthy weight,” I worked for Weight Watchers. I worked mainly as a receptionist, but did a short stint as a leader, as well.

At one of my classes, I gave each member a plastic straw as a sort of reminder. I wanted them to think back to the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.”  You know what I mean … that one humiliating incident that resulted in their joining the program.

The last straw … everybody who’s ever started a diet or weight loss program seems to have their own last straw moment. I’m sure if you’re reading this, you could probably identify your own last straw. Seat belt extender required on an airplane? Lap bar won’t close over your belly on that thrill ride? Some unfiltered stranger laughs at you jiggling your way through the mall? Your pants split bending over to tee up your golf ball or throw a bowling ball? High blood pressure … diabetes? Pick your poison.

I’ve had MANY last straw moments. Over the course of my dieting career, I’ve gained and loss somewhere in the neighborhood of 400-plus pounds. (That’s a rough neighborhood by anybody’s standards!) Unbelievable as that may sound, I’ve gained and loss the same 20-40 pounds over and over during the course of the last 36 years. Like so many others, I’m a classic yo-yo dieter.  Sadly, those gains and losses all transpired AFTER I received my Lifetime Achievement at Weight Watchers. That didn’t happen because the program didn’t work. MY downfall has ALWAYS been in thinking I could maintain my weight on my own without the benefit of outside help. Clearly, that’s not worked out so much.

My most recent last straw moment (and Lord willing, my LAST last straw moment), started the day my youngest daughter married in November 2016 and ended four months later when my son, married in March of 2017.

My latest 60-pound weight overage began shortly after my mother passed away years ago, which was followed up by a lengthy courtship with Mr. Menopause. It’s no secret that weight loss becomes increasingly more difficult with age. Being in my 50s and battling a Thyroid disorder stacked the deck against me making weight loss a bazillion times more difficult.

Knowing that it was impossible for me to skip out on wedding pictures (times two weddings) motivated me to push myself to unrealistic expectations to “get serious” about losing weight. (As if that never occurred to me before!) Try as I might, I only managed to lose 5-7 pounds prior to the upcoming weddings. My lifelong battle with depression intensified as the first wedding drew nearer.

To make life more difficult, six weeks before my daughter’s wedding, I suffered a nasty fall while walking my dogs. I messed up my “good knee,” which aggravated an ongoing problem with my “bad knee.” Already suffering from hip and foot pain due to excess weight, the added injury destroyed any hope of walking normally. That fall resulted in months of chronic pain.

I somehow managed to survive my daughter’s wedding but enjoyed very little of it because I could barely walk from the knee pain. I had to wear ugly flat shoes under my gown because high heels and knee/foot pain are a horrible combination. There was no dancing, very little mingling – just a whole lot of sitting around feeling sorry for myself because I felt like the fattest mother of the bride ever. I watched the festivities from the sidelines, sulking for the most part, certain everyone was judging me and comparing me to a party-pooping, giant slothful toad who was unable to participate.

November 12, 2016

*SIDE BAR here: When will we ever learn that people don’t focus on us and talk about us as much as we seem to think they do! The enemy likes nothing more than to convince us that we are the object of much ridicule … when in fact … people are all the same. We tend to focus more on ourselves, rather than spend all of our efforts picking apart someone’s character or physical flaws. Learn this phrase … THE DEVIL IS A LIAR! Ephesians 6:11 confirms this: “Put on all the armor that God gives you, so that you will be able to stand up against the Devil’s evil tricks.” (GNT)

My “straw” blew up into a million pieces at my son’s wedding the precise moment I had to step onto the dance floor for the requisite mother and son dance. As my son led me to the middle of the room, I was secretly praying a giant sinkhole would open up and swallow me whole before I stepped out in front of 200 people. As the beautiful song we’d selected played, I buried my head in my son’s shoulder and sobbed. While most people thought my tears were for the ritual of passing off my parental duties to a man now fully grown who was embarking on his full-fledged foray into adulthood – I was crying alligator tears because I’d never hated myself and the way I looked more than I did at that moment. I’d never felt fatter or uglier in my entire life. And trust me when I say, my life has been peppered with much self-loathing. But this … this was self-hatred on a brand-new level, as 200 people – family and friends alike, were witness to my self-disgust. I was certain everyone was judging me, laughing at me and likely feeling sorry for me because I’d “let myself go” to such an extreme.

My undoing and LAST STRAW MOMENT, March 18, 2017

My depression was as bad as it had ever been and I wanted to die. Literally.

All I can say is, praise God that we serve a gracious, merciful Lord who doesn’t give us what we ask for or what we deserve. He gives us what we need, when we need it most … His love.

I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. Psalm 40:1-2 (NLT)

Beginning Again … Again

For many months now, I’ve been living without my personal website – which as a writer, that’s pretty much career suicide. (Please disregard the above reference, http://www.kathleenkurlin.com. The person who designed my website is no longer available to me and I’m technologically challenged and don’t know how to remove it!)

Life without my web page is a long, boring story involving an ongoing battle with Go Daddy who basically decided to delete my website because it was designed through an old service program that is no longer available. Go Daddy happily agreed to restore the site for me but they wanted a lot of money to “fix” my site. Therein lies the problem … they wanted money and I have none.

With few other (inexpensive) blog site options, I’m hoping to continue my vision for writing a weekly blog featuring Diet Nuggets and Wisdom Appetizers through this new format. This is not a brand-new concept but one that was previously featured on an old web page that eventually led to the publication of my third book of the same name: Diet Nuggets and Wisdom Appetizers 365 Days of Encouragement for Dieters.

I hope you’ll come along with me as I offer up tidbits outlining my journey through my recent 55-pound weight loss. It’s been a tough, but eye-opening year in which God taught me many things about myself, my body, my addictions, my unrealistic expectations and much, much more.

So, let the journey begin …

I am your God and will take care of you
until you are old and your hair is gray.
I made you and will care for you;
I will give you help and rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4 (GNT)

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.

 

My BEFORE Picture – March 18, 2017

My AFTER Picture – January 22, 2018

(55 pounds lighter!)

 

Close Encounters of the “Furst” Kind

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 English Standard Version (ESV)

My husband and I have two pups, who I’m ashamed to admit, nightly share our king-size bed with us. There are times throughout the night that both dogs will snuggle up so closely to me, it’s impossible to even roll over. One dog is usually sleeping by my head (occasionally sharing my pillow) or curled into my stomach; while the other dog tucks himself into the curve of my legs.

In spite of the fact that these two fur babies hog my space,  I’d still rather have them with me throughout the night than not. There’s something very soothing and therapeutic about rolling over and having a sweet little fur ball nestled next to me.

Research has shown that people who sleep with dogs or frequently pet dogs are more likely to live longer than those who don’t. Okay, I probably read that on Facebook – which we all know is the source of all wisdom — but who knows? It could be true. I hope it’s true.

The great thing about being a dog person, is the satisfaction I get knowing that these two pups love me wholly, completely and totally without reservation. I’ve never doubted their love for me, not even for a moment.

I wish I could say the same thing about my relationship with Christ. I’ve walked with the Lord for a few decades now, yet there are days when I still doubt His love for me. I blame it on the fact that I’m a “feeling” person, even though the Bible speaks repeatedly about the dangers of following our emotions or “feelings.”

Other than the fact that God’s Word tells me repeatedly that nothing can separate me from God’s love and that He will never leave me and is with me always – I still struggle with “feeling” loved. In fact, there are days that I “feel” utterly and completely abandoned by God – even though I KNOW that is a lie straight from the enemy.

Because life can be challenging and stressful sometimes, there are days when I wish I could cuddle up to the Savior the same way my dogs cuddle up to me. When I have a particularly trying day, I want nothing more than to crawl up onto Jesus’s lap and let Him love on me and hold me the same way I love up on my fur babies.

Since there’s no chance that any of us can “cuddle” with Jesus this side of Heaven, are there ways that we can fulfill the longings of our souls and FEEL the love of Christ?

What I fail to realize is that God is speaking to me and telling me how much He loves me DAILY, if I bother to listen. It starts very simply each day with those morning cuddles with my dogs. God created these loving creatures and they’ve proven to be loyal, affectionate and trustworthy friends.

Watching the sun rise with my morning cup of tea, listening to the birds singing their wake-up call, the sweet smell of spring flowers, a hug from my husband, one of my kids or my grandkids, a kind word or a smile from a stranger … the Lord reminds me daily that He is in all of these things.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. Psalm 19:1-4 (NLT)

Because I’m an emotionally needy person, I sometimes still desire more. The longing of my soul is to know Jesus as intimately as is humanly possible. It’s been said that God created each of us with a God-size hole in us. And while many try to fill this unexplained void with material substances and earthly pleasures, I’ve always known that it’s only God that will fill my void.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17 (ESV)

Because I believe the Bible to be true and the inspired Words of God, I need to immerse myself in those words — especially on the days when I’m feeling the most emotionally vulnerable. Admittedly, it’s not a hug for my flesh, but it can serve as an emotional salve for my emotions. As for the physical hugs, I think that is surely why God created dogs! Thanks be to God …

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD. Psalm 36:6 (NLT)

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.

 

Falling on Unanswered, Answered Prayers

Have you ever had a prayer that you’ve been praying for soooooo long, that you are tempted to give up on it altogether thinking that God is NEVER going to answer it? I’ve had many such prayers over the years. Praying for the salvation of unsaved loved ones tops that list. With these prayers, I am confident that God will answer them … eventually. After all, He loves my loved ones more than I ever could and He’d like nothing more than to bring salvation to all of the unsaved. So, while the prayers for salvation are taking their sweet time, I know those prayers will be answered in God’s timing sooner or later and not according to my timetable.

This past year, however, I did see the fulfillment of a prayer that had gone unanswered for many, many years. Every January as I prayed this prayer, I felt certain God was sitting up in Heaven laughing His head off at me because I’d prayed this prayer so many times without results. This prayer was starting to feel like an impossible request.

My prayer has always simply been to weigh what it says on my driver’s license.

Where I live a driver’s license is issued for up to 25 years. In my defense, I DID weigh what it says on my license when it was first issued nearly 20 years ago. Since that time though, I’ve lived a lot of life. As many can attest to, when life happens, it usually shows up on your face or your body.

The 50 pounds that I gained beyond my ADL (Arizona Driver’s License) weight began shortly after my mother’s death 14 years ago. Rather than seek a doctor for treatment of the depression caused by that major upheaval in my life, I self-medicated with Double-Stuff Oreo’s, Ice Cream, Cheese Balls and all manner of assorted junk foods. The slide into obesity led to depression that coincided with a simultaneous and very long, slow courtship with Mr. Menopause. Factor in some major Empty Nest Syndrome depression and before long I’d become unrecognizable to myself. I loathed my very reflection that mocked me every day, reminding me that I was out of control with a serious eating disorder.

During this time, I sought help in group therapy sessions for my emotional eating issues. I attended church and prayed like a Sister Woo-Woo mad woman. I begged and pleaded and played “Let’s Make a Deal” with God and only made minimal progress. Years of yo-yo dieting had all but crippled my body’s fat burning system. No amount of therapy, counseling or prayer could fix what was broken inside of me. There were moments during this long period of darkness that I felt it nearly impossible to climb out of the black abyss my self-esteem was lost in. Overwhelmed to the point of self-harm, I felt scared and abandoned by God. So much so, that prayer became forced, difficult and fairly pointless over time.

And then one day … God set a series of unfortunate incidents into motion that would eventually lead to His answering my long unanswered prayer.

I fell. Literally. Flat out on the asphalt while walking my dogs one night. At first, I laughed it off. My daughter’s wedding was six weeks away; my son’s wedding a few months after that. All I could think of was thank goodness, I didn’t hit my face when I fell! (I was more worried about how my face would look in upcoming wedding photos rather than my body.) Because I was walking with two other people at the time of the incident, my ego and pride suffered more injury than my body. Or so I thought.

Slowly over the next few days I realized that I’d done some serious damage to my right knee and right hip. I already had a bad left knee from minor surgery years ago, but suddenly my bad knee became the good knee and I had a brand new bad knee. Because it was nearing the end of the year and I was light-years away from meeting my insurance deductible, I opted to forego any exams or treatments because it simply wasn’t in the budget at that time. Hopefully time would heal all wounds.

Fast-forward to my daughter’s wedding and I was still in considerable pain. Walking, sitting or standing were new adventures in pain. I missed all of the wedding dancing which only fueled my mounting depression. I ended 2016 battling chronic pain and the worst depression I’d suffered to date, which carried over to the first few months of 2017. I was finally able to schedule a doctor’s appointment which was scheduled for two days after my son’s wedding in March 2017.

At my doctor’s appointment I was referred to a pain management doctor and prescribed – at long last – some much-needed depression medication. I waited nearly a week before I began the anti-depressant. I wanted to give God ample opportunity to heal me supernaturally, but eventually felt like God was telling me that it was time. Time to fight my way out of the darkness. Time to shake off the shackles of food addictions, low self-esteem, pride, obesity and time, at long last, for healing years of grief and self-hatred.

I began a course of injections for my knees and trusted God to work through the medication I was taking. The depression meds worked quickly in the fact that one of the side-effects was an appetite suppressant. I was eating less and with my knee pain starting to subside, I was able to start working out again. I quickly began feeling the effects of a unique domino principle as everything lined up.

Falling and injuring myself was the first initial domino, which forced me to see a doctor who not only referred me to a pain management specialist, but also recognized serious depression when she saw it. The medication helped me to make my way out of the darkness as well as deal with eating issues, which led to weight loss, exercise and a new outlook on life.

As 2018 gets under way, God accomplished more in the past year than I ever imagined possible. As of today, January 3rd, I am officially at my driver’s license weight and I’m mostly pain free. (Hey, I am 60 years old, so there’s bound to be some age-related aches and pains!) I’m still on the depression medication, although my dosage has been cut back. My appetite has returned so now I’ve got to do the work to keep from overeating and putting the weight back on.

Without the chronic pain now, I work out every day. Not because I HAVE to, but because I GET to. Some days, the exercise is harder than ever and I definitely don’t feel like pushing myself. What motivates my exercise obsession is the possibility of waking up one day and the knee and hip pain will have returned making exercise difficult again. I’m taking every advantage of being able to work out now without pain. For now, exercise is a blessing.

Through this unexpected journey I’m reminded every single day that we serve a BIG God. Every day that I wake up and put on smaller sized clothes, I want to weep with appreciation for all that God has done. At the beginning of this voyage I prayed for God to keep me grounded in the fact that I would recognize that HE, God alone, was responsible for my good health and weight loss. My faith was, is and always will be in God – not medication, doctors, injections, the foods that I eat, exercise or anything else tangible. God has certainly used all of these outlets to bring about my success story, but it’s to Him that I give all the glory for making all of these things available to me.

The question begs to be asked … did God allow me to fall in the first place to set the wheels in motion? Or was that dumb luck? Was it merely coincidence that I fell or me just being clumsy? Perhaps it was the enemy who tripped me hoping to make me miserable — but God intervened and used my fall for His glory.

Only God knows.

What I DO know is that God hears our prayers but chooses to answer them in HIS timing … even if that timing may take 14 years and even if He answers those prayers in an entirely different manner than what we would like.

But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

Blessings in Christ … Happy New Year … and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.

BORROWED TIME

You blink … and before you realize it … 30 years have passed. It seems as though just yesterday my husband and I said our vows, pledging our undying affection and devotion for one another, but yet here we are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary!

I can remember so many details of our wedding day in perfect clarity as if it just happened, yet I can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday. (Did I even eat lunch yesterday? Who knows.)

“The days are long but the years are short.” ~ Gretchen Rubin

In my head, I don’t feel 30 years older. I feel much the same now as I did in 1987. I have many of the same insecurities, doubts, fears, hopes and dreams — but I know in reality both my husband and I have changed – a lot.

One look in the mirror and there is no denying that a considerable amount of time has passed since we said our “I do’s.”  There are the obvious changes in our bodies and hair color, of course. (What’s left of my hubby’s hair has silvered. My hair, while somewhat thinner, has retained its “natural” color since I learned I can achieve the perfect blend of honey blond and soft brown by squeezing it out of a bottle every 4-6 weeks.)

We think differently now about so many things than we did 30 years ago. And how could we not? We are completely different people now at 60 than we were at 30. Thirty years – that’s a lifetime!

There are times that it would be nice to fire up a time machine and go back to the beginning of our marriage and do things a little differently. I would have savored the simple things and not made mountains out of mole hill problems that in the end, always seemed to work themselves out. I would have exercised more and eaten less junk food. I wouldn’t have bought many of the things that plunged us into debt that ended up not being worth the money spent.  I would have dropped the vacuum cleaner more often in order to play Legos with my son, or Barbies’ with my daughters whenever they asked. I would have spent more time with my parents before they passed away.  I would have worried less and trusted God more.

They say that with age comes wisdom and I certainly don’t disagree. But, the relentless “if only” dialogue playing on an endless loop in my head serves no purpose other than wanting to kick myself for the string of bad decisions made long ago. And at this age, with my bad back and bum knees, I’d likely break the one hip that doesn’t hurt all the time and end up in traction.

Now that we are 60, we are embarking on a new adventure into a whole new decade. (I still haven’t gotten past the overwhelming urge I feel to throw up in my mouth every time I think about how old I actually am. In my defense, I’ve only been 60 for 12 days. I’m not fully acclimated yet.)

There are of course, senior discounts to look forward to. My bank no longer charges us a fee to run spare change through the coin machine. Our date night movies now cost us 50 cents less – per ticket. There are first Wednesday senior days at the grocery store, free coffee at McDonald’s, a senior menu at Denny’s and … the countdown has begun for Silver Sneakers free membership at the gym, filing for social security and applying for Medicare – so there’s that, at least.

With age comes the ability to recognize that material things no longer hold the appeal they once did. Rather, it’s the little non-material things in life that should be cherished. Suddenly there’s a race to soak up as much time with our kids and grandkids as possible. Realizing that you are beginning the last third of your life makes you want to try that much harder to be the best version of yourself you can be; and to right as many wrongs as you can. It’s the people and relationships that matter most now. (*For the record, all of these things have always been important, but when you’re 30, you think you’ve got lots of time to work it out. Statistically, at 60 you’ve already lived more years than you’ve got left.)

The best gift we can give one another at this age — is TIME. TIME to turn the TV off and actually talk about our day. TIME to offer encouragement to one another and to others who are struggling with life challenges. TIME to visit someone who is lonely. TIME to hang out with our kids for a game night or movie night. TIME to invite friends and family over to share a meal. TIME to watch the grandkids at their swim meet, baseball game or dance recital. TIME to visit an aging parent and glean all that you can from them before they are gone. TIME to say “I’m sorry” and move past old hurts. TIME to thank the Lord for life’s blessings. TIME to say “I love you” to loved ones  as much as you possibly can.

There are a million other things we could and should be doing with our TIME – besides just wasting TIME or killing TIME. We cannot borrow TIME. Once you spend it – it’s gone and you can never get it back. If the last 30 years is any indication of how quickly TIME passes, it’s likely only going to speed up from here on out.

Each day is a gift. No one knows how much TIME they have left. Are you living on borrowed TIME? TIME is of the essence, so make TIME for loved ones in a TIMELY fashion before your TIME runs out.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
  a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time for war and a time for peace.
 a time to love and a time to hate,
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Blessings in Christ … and as always … happy reading!

Kathy K.

A Ton of Fun and a Pound of Perservance

If you’ve ever been on a weight loss program or know someone struggling to lose weight, you’ve probably heard this statement before … maybe even said it yourself.

“Oh my gosh! You’ve lost a ton of weight!”

I’ve been on a weight loss journey for the last few months (okay — my entire adult life) and have managed to shed nearly 30 pounds in the last four months. I’m at a crossroads of emotions that waffles (Mmm, yes please, with maple syrup – maybe a side of bacon while we’re at it) between annoyance that few people have noticed my transformation to irritation at those that exclaim the above-noted phrase.

Oh thanks! You think I’ve lost a ton of weight, do you? To have lost a ton of weight implies that I had to weigh considerably MORE than a ton when I began my weight loss journey. I started thinking about that phrase and quite frankly, it really chaps my buns (make it a Kings Hawaiian with lots of soft, creamy butter) to be given such a back-handed compliment.

So … just how much is a ton of weight, you ask? Check out this list of what is in the neighborhood of a ton:

• An African elephant
• A rhinoceros
• A walrus
• A hippopotamus
• A fully-grown giraffe
• A barnyard cow
• A Smart Car or 2 Golf carts
• A fourth grade class

These are but a few animals or things that weigh roughly one ton – give or take.

Being called a fat cow in middle-school was a crushing blow to my ego, to be sure, but surprisingly, those comparisons still sting, even at my advanced age. I’m smart enough now to know that all of that sticks and stones stuff of childhood is a whole lot of bologna (not a favorite, but sliced thick, sandwiched between wheat bread toast and crushed wavy potato chips slathered with a layer of mayo, and hey — we’re in business). I’m human after all, and words still hurt.

 

I know I should have thicker skin by now (yummy potato skins served with a generous dollop of sour cream — you betcha), but alas, I still find I’m a tad bit sensitive when it comes to any weight related issues.

While it is nice to have people notice the fruits (most especially all things strawberry, blended up in a nice thick shake), of my weight loss/exercise labor – I really don’t want to be compared to a ton of anything.

If you feel the need to compliment someone who is working hard to shed a pound or two (maybe just a slice of pound cake wouldn’t hurt), why not compare them to something a little less offensive. Try instead … “Oh my gosh you’ve lost the equivalent of weight to that of a fully grown Shiu Tzu or a large sack of potatoes!”  (Best when sliced Julienne and fried to a golden brown, generously sprinkled with salt and served with a ton of ketchup. Oh wait, I digress – not a ton per se, but rather, about 12 little packets from the fast-food place.)

Whether we’re working hard or hardly working to maintain our girlish figures, we gals NEVER, and I repeat – ABSOLUTELY NEVER AND UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES, do we ever want to be compared to African mammals or barnyard beef stock. (You’ve got to try it reduced down to a lovely au jus served as a complement for thinly sliced roast beef.)

So, the next time someone says, “Wow, you’ve lost a ton of weight,” stand up for yourself and remind them that losing weight is not a piece of cake (Cake? Did someone say cake? I could go for a piece of red velvet covered in mounds of Buttercream right about now).

(Me thinks this weight loss thing is for the birds — specifically if it’s drumsticks and wings in a large bucket of the Colonel’s extra crispy).

The struggle is real. All calories are not created equal. It’s not about what I’m eating … but rather, what’s eating me! And right now – what’s eating me is the fact that life isn’t the same without the fun foods. The reality however, is that I’m a little more fun without carrying around a ton of extra weight.

I may have lost some weight, but I pray I’ll never lose my sense of humor …

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading … and maybe try a little healthy eating while you’re at it!
Kathy K.

Happy Father’s Day 2.0

*This is from a blog I posted many years ago. I updated it and am re-sharing …

Father’s Day is one of those “iffy” kind of celebratory days. If you were lucky enough to have a Leave it to Beaver or Brady Bunch type of father growing up, then Father’s Day is most likely a happy day filled with warm fuzzy memories. If however, you’re like so many people who grew up with a childhood swathed in dysfunction – then today is oftentimes a day spent suppressing buried pain.

I grew up somewhere in the middle with a father that didn’t fit the mold of either Ward Cleaver or Mike Brady, but leaned more towards a Don Corleone or Archie Bunker type of father. I knew my dad loved me … but he parented with fear and yelling rather than hugs and praise.

My father issues date back to my parent’s volatile ugly divorce when I was six. Growing up is hard enough for the average child, but when you throw in a nasty divorce, custody battles, feuding parents, weekend parenting, remarriages, step-children, half-children … woo-wee, you end up with a recipe for scarred, emotionally handicapped children. Oh wait – maybe that was just me.

Like so many people with father issues, entering into a relationship with the Lord of the universe came with its own set of challenges. God is supposed to be my Abba Father; my daddy; my protector, an ever-present help in time of trouble. That’s quite a leap of faith for someone with daddy issues. The image of a Heavenly Father that thunders from the mountain tops and wants to smite me for my disobedience is easier for me to identify with because I grew up with thunder.

My dad wasn’t a horrible dad, mind you. For most of my childhood he was simply an absentee father, which left me with rejection and abandonment issues. The time I did spend with him was often stressful as I lived in fear of his unpredictable temper. The saddest thing about our relationship was I don’t think I was ever able to share an honest opinion or emotion with him. I was very guarded with him until the day he died. I regret not ever being confident enough to truly share my feelings with my earthly father.

It’s taken a lot of years, but I’m happy that I’ve finally reached that comfort level in my relationship with my Heavenly Father. There is nothing I can’t share with him. Once I was able to get past the fear of the thundering and smiting Father – the loving, protective Father surrounded me.

Rather than dwelling on the negative memories of my relationship with my dad, today I celebrate my father and hope he’s enjoying his Father’s Day in Heaven celebrating with the angels and his Heavenly Father.

I still miss my dad — especially today.  I’m comforted by the knowledge that my father developed a deep relationship with God before his passing, so I know we’ll be reunited someday. I look forward to our reunion knowing that all those painful memories of my early childhood will be long-forgotten and we can spend our eternity enjoying our heavenly relationship.

Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.   Psalm 27:10 (NLT)

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I hope you’re flying high!

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading!

Kathy K. 

Get Past Your Triggers

I am most like Jesus when I am silent under attack. ~ Pastor Rick Warren

Her words cut deeper than a serrated hunting knife. Her verbal barbs and subtle innuendo disguised in false humility wounds more than physical blows. She’s someone from my past that knows my stories and manages to always push my buttons. Somehow a few unkind words from her and I instantly become that 14-year-old ugly duckling with a mouthful of braces and a face full of acne.

She’s a distant relative which makes it difficult to eliminate her from my circle of influence. Each time I talk with her (which is becoming less frequently these days) it takes everything within me to hold my tongue and not retaliate with snarky responses.

It’s likely that most of us have at least one toxic person in our past (or present) who has the ability to trigger painful childhood memories that effectively suck us into an abyss of unresolved emotions and/or juvenile insecurities. Oh wait … maybe that’s just me.

I recently saw a program featuring acclaimed Christian speaker and writer, Beth Moore. When asked how do we completely rid ourselves of poisonous roots of insecurity and fears stemming from childhood dysfunction that refuse to be vanquished, Ms. Moore quoted Matthew 15:13: “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted …”

God is not the author of fear, insecurity, low self-esteem or any other childhood hurts that haunt us. He didn’t plant those destructive roots in us. That was Satan’s doing. They can only be destroyed by using the proper tools. Practical tools such as prayer, reading the Word of God and then applying it to our lives is the best means to start with.

Refuse to isolate yourself or “eat your feelings,” (which I’ve been known to do in the past). Neither of those things will help; only compound the problem. Join a small group, talk with a trusted friend or pastor. Don’t let your hurts fester inside you. Let it out and talk it out.

There are any number of Christian books that can help you to work through any unresolved childhood issues you might have. I highly recommend Joyce Meyer’s number one bestselling book, Battlefield of the Mind. This book is as helpful and relevant today as it was when it was first published 20 years ago. Visiting with a trained counselor may be necessary for some of us who are unable to process our dysfunction any other way. The road to recovery will look different for every one of us.

Once you’ve successfully dug up all of those destructive roots from your life, you need to plant something more substantial in its place. If you don’t replace a negative influence with a positive one, you’ll continue to be vulnerable to the enemy who will easily swoop in and attack your mind and emotions all over again.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. Ephesians 3:17 (NLT)

The only thing you want to have rooted and grounded in your soul, mind, will or emotions is the love of Christ, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

Don’t let painful triggers shoot you down … arm yourself with all the weapons of God’s arsenal and defend yourself like the warrior that God created you to be.

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Ephesians 6:10-11 (NLT)

Blessings in Christ and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.