Death…but wait there’s hope!

Death is something we all have to face. We all have an appointment with it and we all will deal with it taking a loved one.

It is okay to be sad, to cry to grieve. It is natural. Jesus himself cried over the loss of his friend. (John 11:35)

I’ve seen my father cry, my uncles, both of my grandpas and many other men and women cry over the loss of someone they loved.

I never experienced what it was like to lose someone I was close to until 2011. I lost 2 people within 5 months of each other that I loved more than anything.

I got married on November 27, 2010. I was originally going to get married on June 11 of 2011. In 2009 my Grandma Nickels found out she had brain cancer as well as the lung cancer. In August of 2010 my Grandma got a report that her cancer was spreading and she decided not to take chemo or radiation. My Dad told me that with her condition and my Grandpa Wagoner’s failing condition that if I wanted them to be at my wedding I needed to have it before the end of the year. So we did. It was stressful putting a wedding together in a few short months but we did it. Both sets of my Grandparents were there. We got family pictures with them and as far as I know it is the last family picture that we have with them.

In January my Grandma’s health took a turn for the worse. June 8, 2011 she passed away peacefully with most of her family around her. My Grandpa was devastated. However, as soon as she passed away, my Grandpa started praising God! He lifted up his hands and said Thank you Lord for taking her home. He knew he’d get to see her again someday. He still misses her and I know that he cannot wait to see her again in Heaven.

October of 2010 my Grandpa fell in his bathroom and suffered some serious injuries. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital. He didn’t get better. His kidneys and other organs began to shut down. He was taken out of ICU on Monday night. He was supposed to go to Hospice but they didn’t think he would make the ride. They transferred him to another room where all of the family could be. My cousin and I went and got donuts for everyone from his favorite donut shop. We also got milk and OJ. All of us talked about the impact he had made on our lives. We said our goodbyes and I love you’s. He made it through the night, so Hospice came and took him to a nice room where he could be comfortable. All of his kids went home to take showers and get some rest. My Dad, my cousins Jennifer, Emily & Kammy and myself got to Hospice before anyone else arrived. Something told me to tell him it was okay. So I leaned over whispered in his ear, “Hey Papaw. It’s Whickemwhacker. I love you. You’re the best Grandpa a girl could ask for. It’s okay for you to go home. We’ll take good care of Grandma. I promise. Do you see all the angels? They’re here to take you to Jesus.” He took his final breath moments later. It was hard to say goodbye but I knew that Heaven was his home.

I became really depressed after he passed away. I felt alone. I had too much death too quick and I had no idea how to handle it. I hadn’t gotten over my Grandma Nickels passing away and now my Grandpa Wagoner was gone too. I dwelt on my sadness and sorrow. I became distant and unhappy. My Mom was staying with my Grandma Wagoner because she couldn’t be alone. Alzheimer’s has a way of taking independence along with many other things. I tried to help where I could with my Grandma and with my parents’ house. It was hard and it was hard seeing my family hurt.

One day something that my Aunt said after my Grandma passed away hit me. We need to pick up the mantle that she left. My Grandma was a prayer warrior. She prayed about everything! Everything! Big or small! She left it in God’s hands because that was the best place it could be. She loved everyone. She helped whoever she could whenever she could. She fed people, clothed them and loved them unconditionally. My Grandpa Wagoner helped people all the time. He gave people jobs, confidence and hope. He loved unconditionally as well. He stayed alive through the hurt and pain just to take care of my Grandma because he didn’t want to burden any of his kids with that.

Both of my Grandparents didn’t let sadness or problems doom them. They got back up and kept going. They wouldn’t want me to let sadness take over. They were true examples of what Christians should be. Now I try to love everyone unconditionally, even when it is hard and when it hurts. I try to show love instead of anger. I try to see situations through others’ eyes so I can understand. I believe that is what my Grandparents would want me to do. It is also what Jesus would want me to do.

I said all that to say this. Take time to grieve. However, don’t stay in that state. When someone you love passes away, pick up that mantle they left behind. Follow Jesus and love unconditionally. I have hope of seeing my Grandma and my Grandpa again someday. They were born again Christians and so am I. There is so much hope in that statement. Being a follower of Christ, we should try to live like Christ. It is easier to do if you have good, Godly examples to follow.

I pray for those who read this blog. I want you to know if you are hurting, God can help you. He can give you strength and carry your burdens.

Love in Christ!

Iva Mae

nickelsMamaw Nickels, Me, Kyle & Papaw Nickels

Wagoner

Memaw Wagoner, Me & Pepaw Wagoner

On another note I’d forgotten how much weight I’d gained before I got married! I’m down like 30lbs from that pic haha

Mirrors, Relfections and God

We all have days where we feel bad about ourselves and we pick ourselves apart piece by piece when we look in the mirror. That’s why I hate mirrors. If we aren’t careful we can lose all vision of who we truly are and only focus on the outward appearance. I’ve been guilty and getting back is hard!

mirrordistorted reflection

All of my life I’ve struggled with my appearance, my weight, my height and my identity. It all started in middle school/junior high. I was tall and skinny. My nose was too big for my face and I was awkward. I never quite fit in and always felt out of place. It’s funny in a way because at times I still feel like I don’t fit in. I can be in a room full of people and still feel alone and out of place. (That’s another story for another day)

I felt like maybe if I was skinnier that people would like me. I would eat lunch in the cafeteria and then go to the bathroom and throw it up. Sometimes I’d use it as an excuse to go home because I didn’t want to be at school. I hated it that much. I used to be embarrassed by it but it’s a part of my life. Throwing up so much damaged the enamel on my teeth and I still deal with getting cavities easily today as a result of that.

Once I got to High School I just wouldn’t eat. I had gone from a size 3 to a 7 from my Freshman year to my Sophomore year. I felt like I was too fat and that I needed to get the weight off. The worse part of it was that years later when I told someone about it they didn’t believe me. The next year couple years of school I ate. What I ate was not so healthy. I had bagels 2x a day with fatty cream cheese and 4-6 cookies from the cafeteria. I drank tons of soda and didn’t walk or get in any exercise. I started packing on the pounds. I’ve never been athletic and I didn’t play sports in school. I was basically a couch potato.

bulimia

I’ve never really enjoyed eating meat growing up. I never really liked the taste of it (Something I still struggle with today). When I would eat it in high school it would be at fast food restaurants like Taco Bell or it would be deep fried at Wendy’s or KFC. My friends and I would frequently go to Taco Bell after school and hang out. I would then go home and eat dinner again. It was a vicious cycle. I was diagnosed with cancer at the end of my Junior year. I had a couple of surgeries and the last one they removed the tumor along with the small bone above my ankle bone. Thank God, God healed me and I didn’t have to go through the chemo or amputations. This added to me being sedentary. I couldn’t walk anywhere far and if I had to go far someone pushed me in a wheel chair.

I was in size 11’s and 13’s by my senior year. To add to the weight gain from being sedentary and from eating so poorly I was on prednisone for my asthma for an entire year. It added to the weight gain. I had no idea how much weight I had gained until I watched a video of me from a class assignment and I was mortified! I had a gut and a roll hanging over my jean skirt. It was shocking and embarrassing. It was near the end of Senior year. My friend and I had our picture taken in our graduation outfits and it was posted in the year book. My face was so large I was unrecognizable to myself. I saw the picture and thought that the girl in the picture couldn’t possibly be me.

That summer I went into depression and didn’t really leave the house much. I started college in the fall. The campus was spread out really far and all my classes were in different buildings and different floors. I walked everywhere and walked up and down 3-4 flights a stairs several times every day. Before I knew it, I had lost a lot of weight and was healthy again. I started eating in moderation and had a sensible lunch every day. I was so happy and proud of myself! My entire time at school I always took the stairs over the elevator. I was doing great. I met a guy we dated for a couple years and eventually it ended. I was devastated over the circumstances of it and quit eating. I thought I was too fat and that is why he didn’t love me. I lost 30+lbs and at one point weighed 120. I am 5’ 7 ½“ and should weigh around 145 or so. I went from 8’s and 10’s to 6’s and 4’s. I was unhealthy. When I chose to eat, my body rejected it from not eating. Eventually I got better and unfortunately started in this pattern of fast food again. I also got a full time job where I sat down all day long. I was used to walking all over downtown going on errands and such. I started talking to this guy and we hit it off. We started hanging out after my night classes and would go by McDonald’s and grab some food. I started packing on the pounds. We got married less than a year later! I was so happy to marry this guy who was my best friend and the love of my life. (We are still happily married 4 years later!)

meandkylewedding

I looked at myself in my wedding dress and was shocked at how big I had gotten again. My husband and I lived with my parents because he lost his job right before we got married. He was having a hard time finding anything. 7 months after we got married, my Grandma passed away in June. Then in November my Grandpa passed away. I was devastated by both but more so after my Grandpa died. We weren’t expecting it. He fell and 2 weeks later he was gone. He was my best friend. I thought the world of him. I spent every day of my childhood at his house. Almost every dinner was at his house. I didn’t know how to manage that. My Mom had to start taking care of my Grandma. She has Alzheimer’s. She spent the night at her house almost every night. She eventually had to quit her job to take care of her full time. I started helping more around the house. The car my husband and I just bought had the engine blow, and then a few months later the transmission went. Needless to say it was stressful. I turned to desserts and food for comfort.

At my heaviest I was 190lbs. I am not sure my current weight but am guessing it is somewhere in the 160lbs range. I am currently trying to get healthy and get the rest of the weight off that isn’t healthy for me. I need to lose about 15lbs to get to where my doctor wants my BMI to be. I take long walks every day with my dog. I am trying to kick soda and fast food. I would like to get down to 145lbs this year and do it the healthy way. No more not eating and no more throwing my food up. I know I need to eat healthy food and exercise to be healthy. God gave us life and bodies. Our bodies are our temples. We should take care of them and love them. Both of those are hard to do sometimes.

meatheaviest

1 Corinthians 6:19 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

I’ve struggled with loving myself but until I did I couldn’t love my husband the way God intended me to. I still struggle some days with my appearance but at the end of the day what matters is that God loves me for exactly who I am and he sees me for who I am. He sees my soul and knows my heart.

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

Romans 5:8 “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

1 John 4:10 “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

The above verses tell us God formed us, he loved us so much even when we were sinners that he sent his only son to die for us so we could go to Heaven and live forever if we accept his son and believe that he is God’s son and that he died for us and rose again on the third day. We also must confess that we are sinners and ask for forgiveness.

I invite you to examine your heart and ask God to help you love yourself and see yourself in his eyes. For you ladies, if you are going through any of the same things I have please get help. I was lucky to get through it on my own. I am not going to lie, there are days where I honestly consider not eating to get the weight off or eating whatever I want then throwing it up. No matter how much weight is off sometimes I can’t see myself as looking any different and all I see is me being heavy. Don’t let anyone convince you that it is normal. It is not healthy and can be super damaging to your health. I still have days where I don’t want to eat and days where I want to make myself throw up my lunch. (It feels weird just admitting that because I’ve told no one that) Anorexia and Bulimia are eating disorders and you can get help. See the link below.

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/find-help-support

It’s hard to see yourself as you truly are when your body image is distorted in your mind. I know. I feel that way a lot of days. It’s getting easier but it is a process. Know if you have an eating disorder you are not alone. There are people who will support you to help you get through it and to get healthy again. I am one of those people! Don’t let anyone make you feel that you aren’t beautiful for being heavy or being too skinny. Be healthy and your body will look the way nature intended it to. We are all beautiful no matter our story or the way we look. God sees us as beautiful and he loves us.

anorexia

One of the best things is to find a hobby. Find something you love doing and do it! Read, bike, walk, run, cook, bake, sing, dance, knit, crochet, craft, write stories, get a journal and write your feelings, paint, take up a musical instrument, take classes at your local community college, draw, collect rocks, collect stamps… you get the point. It helps relieve pain and gives you an outlet for your energy and for your mind to focus.

I love to cook, bake, craft, read and take walks with my dog. Doing all of those things, helps me to feel like me and to feel happy. Finding happiness is so important! Another important key to happiness is having a relationship with God. He can carry your burdens and pick you up when you fall. If you don’t have one, I encourage you to have a relationship with God. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. My life hasn’t been free of problems but God has made them easier when I let him take them for me.

I invite you to follow me on my journey to health and happiness! I am going to try to start posting recipes and workouts and tips. I hope you will join me on my journey!

Love from above!

Iva Mae