Category: Spiritual

Week 3: keeping it simple in 2014 fitness challenge

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Bad habits die hard. It takes time, patience, endurance and perseverance. Be patient with yourself. Two weeks in, the end is in sight. Keep your eyes on those two short-term goals. Great work! #livefitin2014

(Don’t forget to jot this memory verse down and your short term goals and place them where they are visible to you)

Blessings, Michelle

Smiles and thriving in a season of challenge

I’ll never forget while our stay at the PICU as we left the hospital to get in our car one night we were able to see the air bear land on it’s landing pad. During our over stay at the hospital I had heard it take off multiple times and my husband had saw it land from our window at the Ronald McDonald house. On this particular night it really became real for me. This whole new realm of extremely ill children. I started kissing Ava and Amelia ten times more at night, praying constantly thanking God for such healthy children. We take it for granted, our children’s health. I stood watching as the hospital staff rushed out with a bed to get the Child off the helicopter.

Did you know that Akron Children’s is the home of the air bear the only pediatric helicopter in the state? No, I didn’t either.

It became real, sickness, heartace, and parents who have been through some of the toughest things they have ever endured in their lives. We have never been exposed to this world. The things that we used to worry about in life seem so minute in comparison to the things I have witnessed in the last 3 months. Would I change a thing, absolutely not.

I often have found myself during this time wanting to make it to the next land marker so to speak. When Angie was born it was (does she have downs syndrome, to oh I hope she can drink her bottle, to her gaining weight, then it was things will be so much easier at home, to I can’t wait to her next appointment(maybe we can have a surgery date in mind), to I hope she has the surgery as soon as possible, so we can start to move on).

I feel like I often have this mentality. Always wishing for the next thing, apparently the grass is always greener when X, Y, Z happens.

This past week we found out some news about Angelina’s heart that was heart wreching. Throughout this process she receives what is called an ECHO. It makes sure her heart is functioning proper with the defect, no leaking in her valves, and helps measure pressures in her heart. With the specific heart defect she has, they like if the babies can make it to have surgery between 4-6 months. They need to be between 8-10 pounds. The longer they wait the better, less risks, less chance for more surgeries down the road. When Angie was in the PICU they added in one more medication for her heart to try and help her heart function so they can prolong her surgery.

Angie’s last ECHO was showing that her heart was still functioning fine with the defect. (In time if the defect is not treated blood can flood the lungs causing permanent lung damage).The ECHO we had last week showed hypertrophy in her left ventricle. Hypertrophy is normal with this type of defect to some degree. Her’s is also moving up in to her septum. The heart a muscle can become enlarged and more muscly when a defect is occurring or it is not working properly. Just like our muscles in our body hypertropy(grow) when we lift weights. This can change the rhythm of the heart and block blood flow.The cardiologist told us that he has never seen this in the fourteen years he has been working with heart patients. He didn’t know if it was caused by her defect, which oftentimes is reversed after surgery or if it was something occurring genetically within her genetic make-up. What really caught him of guard was how fast it occurred between each ECHO. He went back and reviewed the previous ECHO and it wasn’t present.

He told me he was going to present Angie’s case to the 12 other cardiologists and surgeons on staff and call me back after they had a meeting of the minds.

I was sick, I mean when I look at her she is thriving. Eating well, growing slow but steady (it’s hard for them to gain given the amount of calories they burn while eating because the heart has to work extra hard). On I drove home, I was crying calling out to God don’t you dare take this child away from me.

SO, we waited for the phone call. Two days of wondering, analyzing, talking about the tough stuff again. I was enlightened, before I was just wanting to move to the next thing but I didn’t realize then we had a direct diagnosis and plan. It was way easier then moving on. Why can’t I just thrive in this season that I merely want to survive in? Why can’t I be content, with what God’s handed me from each moment to moment. WHY IS THIS SO UNBELIEVABLY HARD, if I could only count how many times I have cried out “GOD PLEASE TAKE THIS.”

The dr.told us that what is occurring one of the 12 other doctors have only seen one other time. Genetic testing needs to be done, because they think Angelina has a metabolic disease. Ya, don’t google it because it doesn’t help me understand it any better. Basically, this is how God has genetically engineered her. The Dr. told us that sometimes they have all the medicine in the world and can’t explain why things happen the way they do. He said that surgery might be completely out of the question because if it continues to grow the surgery might not even help. That the large hole in her heart will actually help them have some time to figure out what is causing this to occur.

I’m not sure how I have been able to move on from that phone call. This time I decided I am SO done wishing my life away. It’s not about survival anymore it’s about thriving. Using this season to grow, to embrace every single second with my children. To show my children the unabundant love of Christ.God has handed this to us for a reason and I refuse to merely survive. I want to glorify his name and thrive in a season that is so painstakingly hard.

I am striving for contentment. Praying that either the doctors find a different route or that on Tuesday her left ventricle hasn’t grown anymore and surgery is still on the table. We named this little girl Angelina Hope for a reason, to sprinkle hope to all of those around her. Hope to thrive when they merely want to just survive.

On Monday at approximately 9:35pm Angelina Hope lived up to her name. Words can’t describe what I felt that moment she looked directly into my eyes and gave me a grin. I can truly say their must have been an angel in the room because I just got a little glimpse of heaven. Then again on Tuesday, except this time it was a little laugh and giggle. She is still figuring out the whole smile thing, but I feel like it’s her way of saying: “hey mom, Jesus ya he’s got this, and just relax and enjoy the itty bitty stuffy you always have over looked.”

I came across this except from Billy Graham in my bible and God truly confirmed that it’s time to pray, wait, to be still, to thrive on what he is trying to teach, and to listen.

“No matter where we are, God is as close as a prayer. He is our support and strength. He will help us make our way up again from whatever depths we have fallen. We don’t consider that sometimes jesus is our strength simply to sit still.

Be Still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Our natural tendency when we have a painful happening in our lives is to go into action-do something. Sometimes it’s wiser to wait and just be still. The answers will come. … We may be sure that God is true to his word and answers all sincere prayers offered in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ. His answers may be yes, or it may be no, or it may be wait. If it is no or wait we cannot say that God has not answered our prayer. It simply means that the answer is different then we expected. When we pray for help in trouble, or for healing in sickness, or for deliverance in persecution, God may not give us what we ask for because that may not be his wise and loving will for us. He will answer our prayer in his own way, and he will not let us down in our hour of need.”

From Hope for the trouble heart By: Billy Graham

I know that God has a plan for little Angie’s life. I see alittle more of his plan as each day unravels and I praise him for finally helping me slowly learn contentment and to thrive in seasons of challenge.

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned whatever state I am in, to be content: I know how abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned to be both full and hungery, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.Phillipians 4:11-13

I hope that if you are traveling through a tough season that you to can be still and know that you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.

Blessings, Michelle

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Week 2: Keeping it simple in 2014 fitness challenge

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Week 2 scripture verse: “apply your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge.”-proverbs 23:12

How did week 1 go? The first week of any new change is difficult. Set backs often pop up and this is how we learn how to get back on track (instead of giving up or thinking you can’t do it, BECAUSE YOU CAN!) Creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself at first isn’t going to be easy but over time it will become routine and your will thank yourself three months from know!

Think small victories this week. Last week was all and all rough for me. Things came up, my plans often altered and I had to adapt quickly. I was still able to squeeze in 4 workouts and I am slowly eliminating my sweet tooth. Don’t be overly hard on yourself. I often clung to last weeks memory verse, looking for The Lord for help when things were spiraling out of my control.

Small victories could include: cutting back on the coffee(tough for me, but creamer has a lot of sugar), taking the stairs instead of the elevator(with a baby car seat is pretty intense:), drinking 8 glasses of water, eating the color of her rainbow and fitting in 3-4 days a week of cardio.

Lifestyle change takes time and to make these healthy habits part of our daily routine focus on the small victories.

Physical and spiritual fitness requires discipline. We can all understand that we need discipline but to actually put it into practice is hard. I found this quote in Food, Fitness and Faith: ” life’s greatest rewards usually require lots of work, which is perfectly fine with God. After all, he knows that we’re up to the task, and he has big plans for us.”

Challenge on challengers, I have loved hearing about your progress. Don’t forget to put this verse somewhere were you can see it along with your two goals for this month. #livefitin2014

Blessings, Michelle

Week 1: Keeping it Simple in 2014 Fitness challenge

Week 1 Scripture Verse:

“I lift my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” -Psalm 121:1,2

Evaluate yourself this week. Pick two goals that you want to work on throughout the next month. Write them down and put them along with the week one scripture verse where you can see them and are reminded of them often.

Share them with your spouse, best friends, sister, brother. We are much more likely to hold ourselves accountable to goals when we have shared them with loved ones and written them down where we can see them.

How crazy is it that only 8% of Americans who set a New Years Resolution follow through and actually achieve their resolution.

I am defiantly convinced that living a healthy and fit lifestyle is more then fitness. A fit life is having a fit relationship with God, fit relationships with those we are close with , with our finances and our career. These are all things in which unfortunately we are never going to arrive in!Oh how I wish we could! We have to keep working at them each day on a continual basis. Your goals may be more related to maybe fitness in your finances or a relationships, we all are going to be a little different on this journey. When I fall into a good workout routine(I feel confident, physically able to tackle any task, accomplished) most of all I find focus. I then see other area’s of my life become more consistent and overflowing with vibrant life. I say this often:” you have to plan your plan and then you have to work your plan!!”

Good Luck, When you are feeling weak or have fallen of path don’t throw in the towel. Be reminded that ultimately we can’t do this life on our own. Look up to the hills and ask the Lord to give you help. The first week in any type of fitness program or  lifestyle change is that hardest. Be reminded of that. I am giving up sweets, because they are my biggest weakness and they become a false sense of oh, I think they will make me feel good in this situation. Usually I end up thirsty, sick, and realizing I was eating to run away from my problems when I should have looked to the lord for Help!

Don’t forget to #livefitin2014 and post your goals this month on Live Fit’s Facebook page (like button is on the sidebar) for accountability and support throughout Week 1! We are on this journey together friends!

Blessings, Michelle

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Coping mechanisms

I’ll never forget that cold snowy January morning. It was two short weeks ago but seems so vivid in my memory still. I told Dennis something seems off. Angelina didn’t seem herself. For two days on and off she was acting weird and not eating as well. The dr. Told us it would be a pattern of three days if Angelina were to go into heart failure at home.

I called the cardiologist and rushed Angie to the ER at Akron Children’s. They knew we were coming. The heart center gave them the heads up.

On my way to the hospital I can honestly say I didn’t know how bad it was. Missing my exit because of my nerves and Angie’s cries of distress in the backseat. She never had let out this type of cry.

Getting their I made the mistake of parking in the parking deck. I was on the total opposite end of the hospital. Racing the stairs with the car seat and running down the long tunnels to get to the ER.

The nurse took us directly back she took Angie’s vitals and looked nervous. She called the nurses right away. They took her back to a room. Two different nurses came and and I literally turned to take off my jacket and as I turned around they were all gone.

That moment for the rest of my life I can honestly say I’ll never forget it. Standing there helpless I lost it. A moment were I realized how fragile life really is. I had always knew God was in control. At this moment it became so tangibly real and heart felt.

Angelina was taken back to a room where if I could count maybe if not more 8 dr.s, respiratory therapists, nurses, and staff started accessing her. Big lights, fancy equipment, big terms, and a fast paced environment that would cause any mother to feel total terror.

I kept asking them: did I bring her soon enough, was it my fault, and telling them she has been doing so well at home. Do they get this bad this quick?

A dr. Came up to me and said: you did the right thing bringing her in. You didn’t do anything wrong. They called in a chaplain to offer me support.

Once stabilized and on a vent they took Angie up to the PICU. I forever will never forget my nurse that day. She was something special. I could not hold Angie and she was sedated on the vent. It was so hard to see her like that. My perspective on parents who have experienced this and have much sicker children then Angie had radically changed. My heart literally hurt as I would walk up and down the hallway seeing numerous children on vents.

Tests were done and it turned out that Angie was in acute respiratory failure that morning when we arrived at the hospital. The grunts we thought at first were her trying to poop were her protecting her airway. Crazy enough it was her way of surviving as her lung were filling up with fluid.

The vent was to help her heart know enlarged and lungs have a break, they set her up on lassix’s to get rid of the fluid. They found that Angie had hypothyroidism which could have been a big contributor to why everything happened as it did. The thyroid slows the body down and affects heart function.

That first night Angie was in the PICU Dennis and I left to grab a bite to eat. We went to target and each bought a pair of comfy pants. Why, I’m not sure because if you know us well enough we love our sweatpants and have a million pairs. We were coping, that night was long as we slept next to Angie’s crib with her pulse oxygen count buzzers beeping and the vent machine buzzing as they were trying to keep her settings low so she didn’t become to dependent on the vent.

I felt God’s hand on Angie that night he provided us comfort. I had a dream that night envisioning angels alongside her bed easing whatever pain and suffering she felt. As I laid on quite possibly the most uncomfortable pull out bed my face sweating on the plastic sheet covered pillow.

The next few days were rough. I ran the stairs, walked the halls, painted my nails some really rad color as we celebrated New Year’s Eve sleeping next to Angie’s crib on the hospital floor. Dennis was doing a push-up routine with a deck of cards he brought while I was trying to rehab my hips as they have been so sore since Angie’s birth. We were coping the best we could.

My sister in law sent a text: “how are you doing?” That’s when it hit me. I
Told her: ” I have my coping mechanisms. Doing the best I can.” I thought this could be so much worse. We know what the problem is and we are treating it with therapies and medication. I watched countless parents walk the hallways, sit next to their children on their iPhone, or one lady who tried to bum a cigarette off me after I have just did my 8 flights of stairs workout. They were all coping the best way they knew they could.

It strikes me now that we are home hopefully until surgery that everyone has struggles,seasons of pain, sorrow and we all cope some how some way.

My biggest coping mechanisms: being with Dennis and the girls, one point it was food, one point it was shopping,then the working out once I was able, was huge to the coping process, and of course a lot of trips to the coffee cart at Akron children’s. Writing on my blog and my fitness challenge in 2014 which you can find here: 2014 keeping it simple in 2014 fitness challenge . Right now I know going back to my workout regimen will be hard with the season I am in, and just taking small steps to attempt to get back to my healthy lifestyle seems like a simpler less overwhelming goal. After seeing a lot of sickness and health issues at the hospital that are out of many children’s and parents control, a lifestyle I am even more passionate about.

Once home I began praying over Angie all hours of the day and night. It struck me in the middle of a prayer.

The coping mechanisms they are all natural and they do help, but the help is temporary. It seems like the Coping mechanisms they start to fade after a while.

But:

Jesus, his love ENDURES forever. He provides comfort at all hours, he is there to listen, to give us the might to move on through the next minute, he helps some how some way get us through really extremely tough stuff. He forgives us, he never leaves our side, and his mercies are new as we wake each morning.

Jesus is how we cope and the only way we have made it through this season.

“Even when I walk through he darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

These lyrics from Hillsong “All I need is You Lord”: Keep repeating through my head this week

Left my fear by side of the road
Hear You speak, won’t let go
Fall to my knees as I lift my hands to pray
Got every reason to be here again
Father’s love, that draws me in
And all my eyes wanna see is a glimpse of You

All I need is You
All I need is You Lord, is You Lord

All I need is You
All I need is You lord, is You Lord

One more day and it’s not the same
Your spirit calls my heart to sing
Drawn to the voice of my Savior once again
Where would my soul be without Your Son
Gave His life to save the earth
Rest in the thought that You’re watching over me

All I need is You
All I need is You Lord, is You Lord

All I need is You
All I need is You Lord, is You Lord

You hold the universe
You hold everyone on earth
You hold the universe
You hold, You hold

‘Cos all I need, is You
All I need is You

All I need is You
All I need is You Lord, is You Lord

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Fitness challenge 2014 | Keeping it Simple

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Don’t you get tired of hearing the slogan new year, new you?

We all are in completely different places in both our physical and spiritual journey.

Currently I am in a season of challenge, change, and caring for a newborn. You can read more about my precious new babies condition on this post: life with my new baby girl

This challenge isn’t about a diet, weight loss, or setting yourself up for vigorous goals you will be unable to achieve.

I’m a firm believer that we expect results to fast, we set our expectations extremely high and in the end give up on ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong weight loss done healthy, cutting calories when the are unnecessary are each equally important. Setting up a fitness regimen is just as important, but before all that and stressing yourself out lets think habits and lifestyle change.

Creating a healthy lifestyle is about setting yourself up for lifelong Success, one tiny step at a time. Setting short term goals for yourself that you are able to achieve will help build the confidence you need to give you energy to chase after your next goal.

How this challenge works:

I have never done a challenge specifically like this on my blog so I’m excited and nervous to see how it works out. It may be messy but together we will figure this out.

1. Like live fit women’s fitness page on Facebook here is the link: Live Fit Women’s Fitness

2.Follow Live Fit Women’s Fitness blog via e-mail to receive updates on how to form healthy habits all year long, get yourself out of your rut, reach your goals, nutrition tips, recipes, simple fast workouts, inspiration and accountability.

3. Write two short term goals you want to tackle by the end of this month on a piece of paper. Take a picture and post them on either live fit’s Facebook page, my instgram or twitter account. (Hashtag #livefitin2014) (Hang them in a place that you will able to view them often)

Example of a short term goals:

Work out three times a week for a month, drink 8 glasses of water a day, no eating after 8pm, no sweets only on the weekend, eat fruits and vegetables everyday for a month instead of chips and pop.

Example of long-term goals:

Loose 20lbs, train for a half-marathon, start a weight training regimen to build more muscle mass.

4. Each week I will feature a scripture verse for you to jot down on a notecard, memorize, and keep in mind for the week. Think about your two goals for the month and on Monday I’ll feature the verse of the week.

5. You are able to share(Facebook, instgram, twitter) throughout the month how these simple short term goals helped you form healthier habits that you can carry out throughout 2014. People who participate and send me a short story on how this helped them get on track both physically and spiritually for the new year will be featured on my blog in February.

I will be documenting my journey on all of my social media outlets. Let’s start by taking tiny steps together and achieving two short term goals together this month!

Don’t harp on yourself if you have a bad day. Pull yourself back onto the road to sucess. The sooner you start, the sooner the results will start to show! Let’s have fun! Ready. Set. Go!

Blessings, Michelle

A Season of Change

I’m not sure what this film is on my teeth, oh wait. I need to brush my teeth. Good thing my brother-in-law is a dentist. My hair looks like I took some olive oil to it instead of gel. in this season a shower is liquid gold. Crumbs always stuck to my feet, I’m not sure the last time I saw the bottom of my sink, piles of laundry, and if I nearly break my ankle on a toy one more time in the middle of the night!! 

I am just in the newborn season. A season were I feed, change diapers, get the baby swaddled back to sleep and three hours later, Repeat. Countless nights of interrupted sleep has left me with cloudy out of sort thoughts.  

What I love about this season: The smell of a new baby, How Angelina looks like a burrito every time I swaddle her, snuggle sessions, sitting on the love seat with my husband and all the girls, the squeals of each of my daughters as they crowd me every time Angelina is awake to see and admire her. They pat her head like she is a small kitten and Amelia is constantly touching her ears. I love the way they nicked named Angelina “Sqeaks” within the first five minutes of us all being home together.

The day they came home after being separated from them for twenty three days they ran in the house to the pack in play where Angelina was laying and they were staring as she was grunting and wiggling around, she made a loud squeal. 

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Amelia mimicked her, laughed and said: baby “Sqeaks”. Angelina’s nickname was born. You see in our family we all have nicknames. Dennis is Len, Den, or Lenape. My nickname is Ralph. Ya, my father-in-law even calls me Ralph. God bless my niece who was learning how to talk six years ago and when trying to say my name Ralph just came out and it stuck. Ava goes by Av, peanut ( she was a premie) and Stinky. Amelia has an array of nicknames. She is your typical middle child beating to her own drum. Her names are: MOO MOO, Mooski, Moo Moo monster, moody moo, and millie. 

I love being in my robe and slippers all day, I love that it’s winter and peppermint mocha’s.

What I don’t love is the endless phone calls. Calls to doctors, various appointments, figuring odds and ends that I never thought I would ever have to face with any of my children and a feeling of uneasiness about how Angelina’s condition could change quickly. Right know she is doing extremely well. She has wowed the doctors. Taking a bottle has been huge for her. Children with Downs Syndrome and who require open heart surgery often are unable to drink bottles and go home on a feeding tube. Our little Angelina continues to show such positive signs for both her current heart condition and her downs syndrome. The drugs  she is taking are working. They are helping her to be able to grow and become stronger before surgery. When we saw the cardiologist last week he was extremely happy with how we are caring for her and the weight she has gained. He would like to wait as long as possible to have her open heart surgery because her being bigger and stronger is best for her recovery. 

I met with a program called “Help Me Grow” that helps montior and set up therapies for Down Syndrome children. Her evaluation went well, she is picking her head up and turning her heads toward sounds.

I remind myself that with each child we have gone through a season of change. Eventually it gets easier, they grow up, and life becomes a new normal for us. The memories of Ava and Amelia being infants seem so long ago, distant. The third time around it’s just a little different, a little more involved and it’s ok if it takes us a little longer to fall into the swing of this new phase of life. This new normal for us is just beginning and like with the other children we aren’t quite sure what is in store for us. Am i angry, somedays yes. Am I sad, somedays yes. Am I scared, absolutely. Do I get down, because I have a lot of strange feelings and feel guilty because I have this beautiful child God has blessed me with, yes. When I look around my house everything reminds me of our life before Angelina and I often get upset because things seemed so simple and easy then. Am I Excited for her life, yes. I am excited to see how she develops and grows. I am excited to see how God uses her to perform “Hope” in people’s lives and just little miracles. She makes me  have more of a love for simple moments and just the little things in life that I took for granted. I love that about her. Well really I love everything about that little grunting, farting sweet Angel of ours. It’s those moments of “hope” that I cling to in this season. When the phone calls, sleepless nights, dr. appointments, and stresses seem to overwhelm me I am comforted by this verse:

” To everything there is a season, A time for a purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

In this season I am going to hang onto not I worrying about tomorrow for it has problems of it’s own. I am just taking it moment to moment. One step at a time. Clinging to Jesus, my family and friends, and embracing every single moment. Thanking God for all the good he has blessed us with. 

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

To the countless people who have messaged me in some way, sent cards, gift cards, money, dinners, offered time and support. Thank you truly isn’t enough. You have helped us along the journey and we are forever grateful. Even If I haven’t gotten back to you please know that nothing goes unnoticed .To our families you truly are amazing. I feel closer then ever to our families.  To my sister-in-laws I would truly be lost with out each of you. You don’t know how much you have helped me on this journey. I wish I could repay you but know that I will always be by your side in this life. The same way you have come alongside of me during this time. We love all of you and again are so appreciative and thankful we are blessed. 

Blessings, Michelle 

PS: On a lighter note, Live Fit Women’s Fitness is getting a 2014 challenge together. Who is coming with us? stay tuned 😛