It is Ok to not be Ok

Last night I realized that we are one day away from the yearly Walk to End Alzheimer’s here in San Antonio. As I listen to the song, “It’s gonna get better” by The Stars go Dim, I know that it will get better. Honestly between you and I, I have been trying to suppress most of the emotion involving Alzheimer’s and the walk. Each year I was always so excited and proud to go to the walk knowing that I had done by best to raise funds and awareness. Last year I was even on the committee for the Alzheimer’s Association to help plan the walk. I keep finding excuses not to go tomorrow. Usually by this point in the month of the walk I have posted something almost every day, gone live on Facebook, sent text, emails and a for few years I even organized fundraisers to raise money for the cause. Truth is…. Alzheimer’s has left me speechless for quite some time now.

The two pictures of my husband and I with my Mama during her last days will always be close to my heart. God sustained us. He kept us strong and faithful and even through the sadness, there was so much beauty in Mom’s passing.

8 years ago I received the news that no 30 year old should have to get. My mom was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s at 60. She would never get to be a Grandma (the kind she always was wanted to be) to my then unborn children. Alzheimers you see, has no cure. My world was shattered, yet I went into battle mode because that is what my Mama taught me to do. To fight. And I did. For most of those years I raised money, lots of it and awareness to show everyone what our fight looked like. How Alzheimer’s wasn’t an “old person’s disease” and that everyday people (young and old) can get it. That it is an EPIDEMIC and the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. That if the disease diagnosis keeps growing in the rapid numbers that it is, that it will BANKRUPT our economy! My mom’s monthly care was astronomical. Another tidbit I always like to tell people is that if your parents (or you) do not have long term care insurance, get it now! The cost and time associated with Alzheimers is almost impossible for the everyday person to handle.

With Mom – October 2012 at our gender reveal party for our first child.

Those years were long. The daily pain of having someone with Alzheimer’s seemed almost unbearable. Watching everything I knew of my Mom slowly slipping away. From her calling me “fat” when I became pregnant with my first beautiful Blessing (something she never would have done), to forgetting my Birthday, then later my name to lastly forgetting how to walk and talk. Every time I saw her I cried. Ugly cried. I begged God to take her somedays because my heart couldn’t take much more. I grieved the loss of my Mom for eight long years.

Four days after my beautiful Mama, Melanie turned 69 years old, she went to be with Jesus. Since that chilly afternoon in late February I have never been the same. Grief has resided in almost every one of my days since her passing. It seems as if it is an invisible layer underneath the surface. That at any moment, an overwhelming wave of sadness could take over. And it did. Often. Grief is a funny thing and even though I felt as though I grieved losing her everyday while I was still physically with her, my Mother leaving this earth is an emotion that I am unable to put into words. It is devastating.

Two days before Mom’s Birthday is when she started her slow decend to Heaven after she aspirated and was never able to recover. The night of her Birthday my friends gathered in her small room. With them they brought smiles, prayers, hugs and a cake and we sang her Happy Birthday.

This past weekend I attended a woman’s retreat through our church and I finally felt like I was able to release the anger and sadness to God. I have come to the conclusion that I will never be the same as I when my Mama resided on this earth. I thought I would be happier when she was gone. Knowing that her pain and suffering was over. Yet, when the day happened that she took her last breath as my brother, my husband and I held her hands, I wasn’t relieved. I was heartbroken and lost. My life was going to have to reset and have a “new normal” which didn’t include caring for my mom.

The great news is that I have a good God! One of comforts me in times like these and someone who gives me hope on the days when I think I can’t go on. Fast forward almost eight months and I am still sad, but God reigns supreme in my thoughts and actions. I know that this hard journey that Mom and I slowly glided through, was meant for His glory!

I have heard many times that you can’t control what happens to you, you can only control your reaction. I will not give up my fight against Alzheimer’s!! ! I will continue to tell her story and I know that someday there will be a cure. My prayer is that no other family will have to suffer the heartache of watching their loved one slowly and painfully slip away.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Please share our story and raise awareness to help END ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE once and for all!! We would also love if you could follow the link below and donate to our walk team, Melanie’s Memories Matter. Every little bit counts!

http:// http://act.alz.org/goto/Melaniesmemoriesmatter

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalms 121:1-2

Many Blessings,

Tk

My beautiful family. This was our last picture all together with Mom. Thanksgiving 2018.
My oldest daughter, Mom and I. Mothers Day 2016
Mom and my oldest daughter in 2013. She lit up when she spent time with her at the beginning stages of the disease.
How I choose to always remember my beautiful Mama, Melanie Sullivan.
At her happy place, on the beach.

The Lord’s Provision

This morning I had a pleasant surprise to have my favorite yoga teacher cover for the regular teacher at that time slot. I had not done yoga for over a month and honestly really needed it since my mom passed last week. There is something so restorative about yoga. It always puts my mind and body at ease. Keeping up with my fitness through this grief has been a challenge and I almost didn’t go because my favorite teacher wasn’t on the schedule, but I pulled up my big girl panties and went anyway. So thankful I did!

She started the class off with a Rumi quote that I can’t get out of my head.

This saying kept resonating in my head and I realized that in this season of grief how very thankful I was for how God has showed up in ways that I never thought possible. For those of you who know me well, I hope you would agree how much I love others. One of my favorite things in the world is to get to know people and find out their stories. My ability to connect with people has gotten stronger over the years and honestly it is like a muscle. Little by little, the Lord has been molding me into the woman I am today who values her relationships greatly. And in this time of need I have had amazing, beautiful people pour into me when I needed it most. Some friends have done things over the past few weeks that I didn’t even know that I needed! I have to give an example of my sweet friend Naomi who the other night not only fed my kids and I dinner, but then kicked me out of the house for a few hours so she could do the bedtime routine. Praise God! When I returned home, not only were my kids safe and sound in bed, but she had organized a cabinet that I literally hated to open because it was so unorganized. She was unsure if I would be ok with her doing it and the first thing I did was throw my arms around her neck and thanked her over and over. Community. My village is so amazing.

My encouragement to everyone out there is not only the importance of having a community surrounding you that wants you to win, but also realizing that we all have our own roads. Our own journeys in life to travel. My road will never look like any of my friends, but I know that by loving others, loving God will bring fruit that the Lord has in store for me. One of my gifting is connecting and I challenge each of you to ask God what your gifting is and how you can serve the Kingdom with it. I can almost bet that God will show up and show off and Bless you and others along the way!

“A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” 1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT

Life without my Mama

Hard to believe that it has been five days since my beautiful mother, Melanie went to heaven. I remember the day after she died I woke up thinking,” Well, this is the first day of what it feels like to have your mom no longer on this earth.” Such a heavy feeling.

Mom had been battling Early Onset Alzheimers Disease since her diagnosis over 8 years ago at 60 years old. During those very hard years with her having the disease I grieved many things. The loss of my own mother not knowing my Birthday, her not being present at the birth of our three children, forgetting my name, how to talk, how to walk and so much more. That grief was different than what I am currently feeling. That grief was a slow, long drawn out pain. This current grief has some relief and even though I feel bad saying it, it is true. My mom no longer has Alzheimers. She no longer has a brain that can’t seem to work correctly and a body that even though was only 69 when she died, that forgot to do the most basic parts of life. She is currently dancing in heaven and riding her horses. Watching her slowly die in front of me from week to week was almost too painful to bear. She had stopped walking and eating solid foods within these last 6 months and some days I had to make myself go visit her. It was just so hard and I ugly cried every single time I went. Not seeing her beautiful radiant smile when I saw her felt like a knife slowly pressing into my chest. I wanted my mama back and this wasn’t her.

Having my own small children at home: 5, 4 & 2 and then also caring for my mother with Alzheimers, had stretched me so thin. Even though I miss her more than I can even verbalize at this very moment, I have so much peace that she is no longer on this earth suffering.

So thankful for so many things including my strong faith in God. I know without a doubt that I would be in a much darker place without the strength that He has given me on this journey. At church last night the message was about Psalms 23 and I am clinging tightly to that word.

“The Lord is my shepherd. I have everything I need. He gives me rest in the green pastures. He leads me to calm water. He gives me new strength. For the good of his name, he leads me on paths that are right. Even if I walk through a very dark valley, I will not be afraid because you are with me. Your rod and your shepherd’s staff comfort me.” Psalms 23:1-4 Last year around this time I went through a very dark season in my life and the only thing that I could do was lean on Him to get me though. Little did I know that He was also preparing me for what was to come.

A friend told me that this grief would come in waves and it seems to be doing just that. One day I am fine and then something sets me off. A picture, a song, my mind randomly replaying me laying in bed with her for those 7 days as she glided into heaven. Then out of no where the wave hits and seems to almost knock me off of my feet and the tears fall hard and fast. Another hard part will be that I no longer have to take care of her. I am sure “caretaker grief” is also a thing. Not having to worry about her bills being paid, taxes filed, doctor appointments to get to, if her bed alarm is working, mats under her bed properly placed or if her food is being properly pureed. That part hasn’t hit me quite yet, but expecting it soon. Pretty sure this week I will have to clean out mom’s room at her facility and I honestly am not looking forward to it. Walking into her room without her in it will no doubt be terrible. Prayers for the days, weeks and months to come as we all grieve the physical loss of my mom.

Alzheimer’s Disease I hate you and will stop at nothing to find a cure! Please donate to our Walk to End Alzheimer’s team, Melanie’s Memories Matter to join us in fighting against this horrid disease!

http://act.alz.org/goto/Melaniesmemoriesmatter

Thank you Kay Harmon Photography for this photo shoot with our mom.
Mom, my brother Ryan and myself. 2015

Healthy Banana-Zucchini Mini Crumb Muffins

As a stay at home mom I find that most days are spend giving my kids snacks.  I mean, how many snacks can a kid have in one day?  When my kids are at pre-school surely they don’t eat this much right???
I digress… I am always looking for ways where I can give my kids a healthy alternative than just buying processed foods as a snack.  This recipe was a winner!  Easy, tasty and a way to sneak in a vegetable!  Enjoy friends!
Original recipe was found at: www.yummyhealthyeasy.com 

Healthy Banana-Zucchini Mini Crumb Muffins

Yield 24 mini muffins

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 zucchini, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp. Truvia sweetener (or 1/4 cup granulated sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (can replace with butter if desired)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp. melted coconut oil (can replace with butter if desired)

Instructions:

!.  Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Spray a 24-cup mini muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper liners.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

3.  In a large mixing bowl, combine mashed bananas and shredded zucchini. Beat in the egg, Truvia (or sugar) and 1/2 cup melted coconut oil.

4.  Stir in the flour mixture into the banana- zucchini mixture.  Don’t overtax!  Spoon batter into mini muffin tins.

5.  In a small bowl, melt 1 Tbsp. coconut oil.  Stir in 2 Tbsp. flour, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle crumb mixture over the tops of each muffin.

6.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until tips spring back when pressed.  Let cool on wire rack and then pop them out and enjoy!

*I like to put in a ziplock or airtight container for a day and then split up what is left (which there isn’t ever usually any) with a bag for the fridge and possibly one for the freezer.  Zap a cold one in the microwave for 10 seconds for a warm tasty treat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pregnancy after a miscarriage

Yep, you read it… we are pregnant!  It honestly was a gift from God and all in His perfect timing.  🙂
I found out on July 6th and the past three weeks have been surreal.  I am learning once again about faith and trusting the Lord in all that I do.
With our first pregnancy a year and a half ago I didn’t even have a thought of miscarriage when we first found out, I knew this was going to be our time.  Sadly, it wasn’t and a few short weeks later our dreams of being parents were shattered.
This pregnancy I am finding myself much more cautious because I have felt that loss, that pain of having that dream so close to your heart ripped away.  Even though the statistics are after my first miscarriage I am 80% likely to have a child with my next pregnancy, it is easy to doubt and put myself back into the darkness I felt after our first loss.
Our first doctors appointment is in two days.  I am praying for a strong and wonderful heart beat.
I have already thanked God for a healthy child, because I do know that we will be parents one day. Praying that that day comes in 2013.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
-Proverbs 3:5

Blessings,
Tk

Confessions of a Non-Smoker

I give up smoking tee shirt
I love when you have that feeling deep inside of you that the best is yet to come!  That incredible feeling of energy and desire that wells up inside of your gut and spills out of you at every moment of the day 🙂  Things have been amazing these past few weeks!  For those of you that have following what has gone on in our lives these past few months, I never thought I would be “here.”  At least this quickly.  It’s amazing how wonderful our God is.  I know in my heart I was able step past our stumbling blocks, over come and become an even better woman because of it, because of Him and the many prayers being sent our way!  And for that…. I thank so many of you 🙂  My marriage is phenomenal, I am actively building our business (and doing a bang up job…if I do say so myself) and am Blessed in so many other ways.  
Sitting at a traffic light today watching a lady who clearly thought she was too cool for school, smoke in her Hummer;  I realized that tomorrow marks my 6 month anniversary of quitting smoking!  Yes, sadly I have to admit  that I WAS a smoker.  Crazy coming from a girl who broke her mom(s) cigarettes as a child, (my mom and step mom still smoke), and would constantly fight and complain about them smoking!  The love affair with those nasty little “smokey treats” first started my Senior year of high school as my girlfriend smoked.  It then got worse my Freshman year of college at Texas Tech.  Outside of our dorms, Chitwood/Weymouth, it was the “cool thing” to sit outside and smoke.  You met people and created friendships.  Many of my facebook friends will very vividly remember this!   Then add in sorority/fraternity parties and adult beverages and I was screwed.  Even in the years after graduating college I swore I would quit every year and each year I didn’t follow through.  I hated being a “smoker.”  Society makes you feel like a leper..and in hindsight, I was!  With all that we know about how bad it is for you, being a smoker is idiotic!  I will always have to say I smoked for 10 years.  10 years!!  GROSS!  
Not sure where the turning point was.  I knew through our two years of trying to have our first child that I would of course quit when I got pregnant, but that day never came.  I realized that my step-mom who was a smoker before she gave birth to my younger siblings, went back to smoking after she had her children.  She quit because she HAD to, not because she WANTED to.  Plain and simple.  October 21st I decided I was done.  Just like that… done.  I still become amazed at myself when we are out somewhere or drinking that I don’t crave one.  I have not touched even one.  Firstly because I know how gross that first one will be (you smokers know what I mean) and secondly because I am sick of letting it run my life.  Now don’t get me wrong…. I miss the talks sitting outside that smokers have.  Smokers have a special bond when they are outside all night at a party or bar, but it isn’t worth it.  My health is the most important thing that I have in this world.  I plan on living a very long life and cancer does not fit into that plan.  
Now don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all me.  I do give MASSIVE credit to my love of Bikram yoga last year and the 60 day challenge that I did.  When you are in a hot room at 105 degrees for 90 minutes almost every day for 60 days… all sorts of changes happen.  Including the ability to DESPISE anything bad going into your body.  I have given up Bikram (I promise I will post later about this) and have now started running at the park for exercise.  Its funny because I could never run long distances before because my lungs just couldn’t handle it!!
A friend of mine has been asking me to go bike riding with her and last week I finally committed to going with her tomorrow.  Today I fought going all day in my head to find reasons why I should not being going tomorrow.  I’m TERRIFIED!!  I was praying all day she wouldn’t call me back tonight with details.  But she did, and I will be at her house at 8:30am tomorrow morning.  Lord help me.  23 miles.  
I’m learning it is the fear that actually makes you grow.  Turning into a new person by fighting that “little devil” on my shoulder and pushing through and overcoming and trying new things no matter how much it may scare me.  The funny part is that I know that this fear will probably turn into something I love.  I was this terrified before trying Bikram as well.
All I have to say is I am SO THANKFUL I quit smoking because the best really IS yet to come 🙂

“We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
-Romans 5:3-4 (NKJV)