Nearly 36

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My birthday is coming up, and I’ll be turning 36.  I’ve been thinking about my age a lot this year, because my sister Sheri died from cystic fibrosis just a few weeks before her 36th birthday.

My perspective on her age has changed as time has passed.  After she died, people would say, “She was so young!”  I knew that to be true, but at the time, I was more focused how she had far outlived her life expectancy and pulled through so many serious illnesses.  I felt comforted by the triumph of nearly 36 years of a full and happy life in spite of her ongoing struggle with cystic fibrosis.

But now, at nearly 36, I realize how young she was.  Because I feel so young.  I feel a deep sadness that her life was cut short.  Now that I am here, I can better imagine what she must have felt like when she realized the end of her life was near, that her time had already come.

Reaching Sheri’s final age has brought up some surprising emotions.  Although she will always be my big sister, suddenly I’m older, “bigger” than she ever was.  I feel like I’m in uncharted waters with my CF.  I haven’t seen CF at age 36 and beyond.  I wish I could still have her years as a reference.  Knowing she had walked through those years of life ahead of me was a comfort.

There have been moments this year when I’ve felt panicked, afraid that like Sheri, my life on this earth might be cut short.  I’m no longer naive to the disease that lives with in me, the force that can consume and destroy. There was so much I didn’t understand about cystic fibrosis when Sheri was still alive.  I hadn’t started to deal with my own CF in a significant way yet.  I wish she was here so I could tell her that I get it now; that I understand more of what her life was like.  I wish we could cheer each other on through the battles.  I wish I could hold her hand.

Sheri wrote these words a few months before she died:

“[W]e are all grieving.  Grieving what we know is to come; grieving the time when my earthly days will be gone; and the grieving will continue…I grieve for what I will miss – all the events in your futures of which I will not be a part.  I grieve for the grief I know you will experience.  And I grieve at losing what I have: my husband, my family, my life.  I enjoy the package that makes up my life so very much.  I have been so richly blessed.  And even though I am headed for heaven of all places – perfection of glory and beauty; the habitat of my Lord and His children; no more struggles and pain; no place more wonderful – still I grieve…But God still has all things under His control.  I’ll be okay – better than okay.  And you will be okay.  Because we have been knit together by the Father, we will always have part of each other as part of the fiber of our being.”

When her life was nearly over, when she was experiencing more pain and struggle than ever before, still she clung to life.  I love that about her!  She was thankful for the blessings, and still she wanted more days, suffering and all.  She was full of life, love and hope to the very end.  So now as I’m about to reach 36, uncharted though it may be, that is my aim.  To cling to life.  To fight for life and health.  To be full of love, hope, and grace.  To reach out and take hold of God’s hand.  He will show me the way.  He will guide me with His counsel, and afterward take me into glory (Psalm 73:24).

 

Father’s Day a Few Days Early

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With Father’s Day right around the corner, I’ve been thinking about the dads closest to me–my father and my husband.

There are many things I admire about my dad.  He always took his role as father and provider very seriously.  In spite of a demanding job he made time to spend with each of his girls and made family time a priority.  I do remember him relaxing sometimes–reading the paper when he got home from work, or sitting on the porch talking with my mom after dinner.  But he was active in most of my memories–playing with us, washing the cars with the hose, helping with the dishes, mowing the lawn, grilling and baking on the weekends, cutting our hair, cleaning, pitching in to make our home run smoothly.  He was never wrapped up in who should do what, he just completed whatever tasks he saw that needed to be done.

Everyone said (and still says) that my dad had the nicest yard in the neighborhood.  He is conscientious and takes good care of what he has, including us.  He is kind and generous.  He is a great model of unconditional love.  I’m sure having six girls tried his patience at times (thus rules like no slamming the doors, no singing at the table, and no screaming were born), but I don’t think he’d trade us in.  He was and is an excellent father.

Dad and newborn me

Dad holding me, 1978

The whole family, 1979.

The whole family, 1979.

Dad and I at the beach when I was three

Dad and I at the beach when I was three, 1981

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Horseback riding, 1985

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Dad showing me his big fish, 1981

My dad showing Lucas some freshly caught fish

Dad showing Lucas some freshly caught fish last week

My husband Jaime is a great dad too.  Lucas and I invade his office space multiple times a week for lunch.  This has resulted in applesauce, yogurt, pen and highlighter on his work clothes I don’t know how many times, but he still lets us come.  He has traded weekends on the couch watching soccer for weekends of chasing a little boy all over the place.  He takes Lucas to the park, to the museum, to the pool, out to run errands, and on the bus. He has put Lucas to bed almost every evening since Lucas was 15 months old.  A once good night’s sleep has turned into a 2 am (ish) wake up call and then several hours of sleeping with a little boy sprawled all over him.  But I don’t hear him complaining.

Jaime uses silly voices when he reads stories and makes boring books fun.  He wrestles with Lucas and tickles him to make him laugh.  In spite of a full time job and a part time job coaching, he always finds a way to have quality time with his boy.  And like my own father, he does dishes, he folds laundry, and he cleans to help keep things afloat, showing that he cares about the kind of home Lucas has and the kind of mother Lucas has (the not-so-frazzled one 🙂 ).

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Brand new Daddy

Reading together

Reading together

Watching the cars go by

Watching the cars go by

Lunch in Daddy's office!

Lunch in Daddy’s office!

Early morning walk

Early morning walk

My cuties

My cuties

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, and a heartfelt thank you to Dad and Jaime.  You have enriched my life and Lucas’s life so much.  I love you both!

Operation Up Scale – Calorie Counting

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I’m a little over a week into my quest to gain some weight and things are going pretty well.  I mentioned in my first Up Scale post that I have to count calories in order put on weight.  I hate counting calories.  However, I found something that has made it so much easier!  A friend of mine told me about MyFitnessPal (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/), a free online tool and smartphone application that tracks calories and exercise.  Most people use it to lose weight, but it is possible to adjust the settings in order to make a weight gain goal.  I added a target number of calories I wanted to consume each day and I was on my way.

It’s a really cool app.  I can scan bar codes off a package with my phone and the nutrition information will come up.  From there I can edit the serving size and it modifies the calories for me.  I can also search the database for foods that don’t come with bar codes like fruits and vegetables, and all the nutrition info is added in.  I can input recipes that I make regularly and it calculates the calories for each serving.  Each day, I simply enter what I eat under breakfast, lunch, dinner,  and snacks.  It deducts the calories consumed from my target amount of calories, and even adjusts for exercise.

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It shows me what percentage of my calories are consumed in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. I can also see some of the major vitamins and minerals.

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I found out that I wasn’t always getting the recommended daily amount of sodium (adjusted for the higher calorie intake) which is especially problematic for me since I need extra salt.  This is because when a CF patient sweats, the sodium and chloride (salt) that carries water to the surface of the skin are not reabsorbed into the body like they should be (this is part of the basic defect), so I lose lots of salt, especially during the hot weather months.  In fact, you can actually see grains of salt sitting on my skin on the hottest summer days.  Low salt levels lead to weakness, dehydration, and other problems so it’s important for me to be aware of how much I’m getting.

With the help of this application I’ve been able to consume roughly 3200 calories each day for about 10 days running now.  I’m not going to lie, I’m sick of eating.  (Anyone else out there lose their appetite in hot weather?)  But I have gained more than a pound already which is motivating.  I’m happy to be on my way, and thrilled to have found a way to make it easier!