Aging Gracefully

Hi, there folks.

This is me through the years starting as a baby – high school graduation (last picture). A lot of life, love and laughter. I look at these pictures and wonder, where did the time go, and who is that ‘stranger’ looking at me in the mirror every morning and every night: Okay, okay…sometimes I look more often, but at my ‘age’, I see every line and wrinkle; perhaps against all odds, I’m hoping  that the latest ‘anti-wrinkle’ cream I am using is REALLY going to produce a miracle like it says it does. So far, no such luck. Nope. Not til Jesus comes to take me home will I be without ‘spot’ or ‘wrinkle’, says so right there in the Bible. 😉 Well, maybe I’ve taken it out of context…but sometimes if I don’t laugh, I think I might cry, and believe me, after the cataracts came out a couple of years ago, I came close. One day I thought I was looking  pretty good for my age, and the next day ‘bam’, right between the eyes…, I mean right between my eyes, those little crinkly lines, not to mention every crevice and spot on my face suddenly became much clearer! Of course, the up side was seeing colors and everything  more vibrant and alive…who knew that the ‘orange’ facial scrubber I was using, was actually ‘hot pink’, and the shirt I thought was orange was a ‘hot pink’. Thinking how many times I thought I was wearing black with matching black shoes, to find out one was black, the other blue?

Let’s be real here! In a few days I’m going to turn 64 years old. I’m trying to embrace who I am NOW, not yesterday, bite the bullet (we really don’t have a choice), continue to laugh, love and live. The Bible says there’s enough trouble today, so don’t worry about tomorrow (paraphrased), He’s going to be there for all my tomorrows as He was for all my yesterdays, and today! I think it is wise to plan for the future, but it’s never wise to worry (and this is something I have to lay at the feet of Jesus daily…some days I win, others I really struggle).

Forgive me for rambling just a little bit today (you know us ‘old’ folk do that from time to time, eh)? I got to looking at some of these old photos today of myself through different stages of my young life. I started out pretty cute; chubby and wrinkly…and I was thinking to myself, how ironic that I’m probably gonna end up that way too, yeah…chubby and wrinkly, though if someone calls you ‘cute’ when you get older, it’s usually more about your ‘behavior’, or some quirky habit you’ve picked up unknowingly as you’ve aged . Not too long ago I read a police report about an ‘elderly’ woman, 63 or 64 years old, whose car was rammed into by a desperado who was driving a stolen car. I thought to myself, “Elderly?”  What were they ‘talking about?’ I was 63, and that sounded so foreign to my ears! Never would I consider myself or call myself ‘elderly!’ I cringed at the mere thought of being called  elderly at the ‘young age of 63.’   NO WAY was I going to accept what the dictionary (and some of our society) labels ‘elderly!’

eld·er·ly
ˈeldərlē/
adjective
  1. (of a person) old or aging.
    “she was elderly and silver-haired”
    Synonyms:
    aged,
    old,
    advanced in years,
    aging,
    long in the tooth,
    past one’s prime;
    gray-haired,grizzled,
          hoary; in one’s dotage, decrepit, doddering, doddery, senescent;
          getting on,
          past it,
          over the hill,
          no spring chicken
         old people,
         the aged,
         senior citizens;
         geriatrics,
         seniors;
         retired people,
         retirees,
         golden agers;
         oldsters,
         geezers
 ∼

Hmm, Some of these descriptions I can accept, but long in the tooth? Getting on? geezer? decrepit, doddering? I think NOT! Doesn’t sound like me at all, nor most of my ‘elderly’ friends! Not yet anyway, and when that time comes, and I do see it coming, I’ll let you know, or as my sister once said to me, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you!’ 😀  In the meantime, I’m going to dance the dance of life, and celebrate everyday as a gift from God. As His Word says…I will rise up as an eagle, and my youth will be renewed as I wait on the Lord.

In all seriousness, though, aging gracefully is a struggle for many in our youth oriented culture, and has been for me too at times, especially when you feel ‘young’ but the ‘number’ keeps creeping upwards. Inevitably, we all age but one of the most beautiful of women I’ve ever known was my mother…she was graceful, her smile, the way she moved, gentle. She was always there for my siblings and I, and knew when to call and when to come. This is true ageless beauty; to love others and have a giving heart.   God’s word says it best in 1 Peter 3: 3-4:

 3 Don’t focus on decorating your exterior by doing your hair or putting on fancy jewelry or wearing fashionable clothes; let your adornment be what’s inside—the real you, the lasting beauty of a gracious and quiet spirit, in which God delights.

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You Are So Beautiful To Me

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The wrinkles on a time-worn face
Can be symbols of God’s grace,
If through our laughter and our tears
His love has freed us from our fears. —D. De Haan

“Even to your old age, . . . and even to gray hairs I will carry you!” (Isaiah 46:4).

Yes, we can be assured that God will always be with us through every season. My advice: Love Deeply, Forgive Quickly, Laugh Loudly, Be Thankful. In our lives things are constantly changing, but we can be assured that our God NEVER changes and that His love for us is not dependent on our performance, nor what we look like on the outside, or even the crud on the inside. He just loves us. God used this song, ‘I Am’, along with the picture of mama touching my heart gently, to reassure me when I was in the throes of grief, that He is always with me. He is the one constant in life. The words to this song say it all.

I Am

 

Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest
The tide can change so fast,
But I will stay
The same through the past,
The same in future, same today

CHORUS:
I am constant; I am near
I am peace that shatters all your secret fears
I am holy; I am wise
I’m the only one who knows your heart’s desires
Your heart’s desires

Oh weary, tired and worn,
Let out your sighs
And drop that heavy load you hold
Cause Mine is light

I know you through and through;
There’s no need to hide
I want to show you love
That is deep and high and wide

CHORUS(2x)

Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest

When The Struggle is Real

I haven’t blogged for a few days as it’s been a real struggle, not because of a brain freeze, or lack of oxygen (low blood sugar), or writers block …but mostly because of health issues stemming from Type 1 (insulin dependent) diabetes. I am on an insulin pump, and was actually one of the first 700 people at the time to get hooked up. The pump was huge compared to what I share in the video below (see the picture at the left of your screen, that’s me in the blue, and that SONY DSCblack thing on my side is my first pump). It was so big, people asked me if it was a pager (that’s a big pager), or some kind of radio. You can see in the video below, how much smaller the pump has become. I was thrilled as the size of the pumps began to decrease in size and the technology became more and more fine tuned.

I was probably about 28 or 29 years old when I first started on the pump; our eldest was about two years old (pictured on my husbands shoulders). Our first baby, born 8 lbs 4oz, was stillborn, which had left me wondering if I would ever be able to have a healthy child . In the video below, after sharing some humorous  idiosyncrasies about myself, I shared a bit about that time of loss in our lives. I had not expected to feel the emotional wave that hit me as I recalled the day of delivery. We had known for a week that our precious baby was gone before the scheduled delivery date at the hospital.  Needless to say, it was an extremely sorrowful time. Thank God, we did not give up, and we were finally blessed with two boys, albeit 7 years apart. I am ever so grateful to be a mom (for the most part, “she said with a wink and a smile”). 😉  Motherhood hasn’t always been easy or a ‘breeze,’ especially as they entered the teen years and beyond, but that’s another story or two, for another time. 🙂 Just being real here. Would I do it all again? 100 times over, “YES!”

So, back to why I haven’t blogged, and my own personal struggle…having used insulin pump therapy for about 30+ years, and having wonderful results, I now find myself plagued with all kinds of issues that I never really had before: Extreme highs, and extreme lows.  It started a few months ago, and my overall A1c (blood glucose average over a 3 month period) was hanging around 7.0, which is relatively good. I can’t even imagine what it is now after all I’ve been through these last months. I have never had to call the ambulance except once in all my 50+ years of being a diabetic, but at the end of last December my sugars dropped to 21, and knowing if it drops to 0 you are comatose, your out for the count, no longer here. I could feel myself blacking out, and as I looked up at the nice paramedic, I kept saying over and over…” Please don’t let me die.” He assured me I was going to be fine, but in the back of my mind I thought, he has to say that even if he doesn’t mean it. I have never felt so out of control and vulnerable.  I ended up in the hospital the next day for about three days. From that point on I’ve had trouble stabilizing my blood sugars. In January it happened again, and I ended up in the hospital as my blood sugars kept plummeting no matter how much sugar I had taken by mouth or how much glucose they stuck in my veins. Talk about a ‘sugar rush!’ Since that time, the blood sugars have been extremely high. Last night, my blood sugars reached 490, and target rate for my sugars, being I’m diabetic, are between 100 and 150.  Rarely has my blood sugar been lower than the 200’s since my last hospital visit. Long term health issues can result from poorly controlled blood sugars. I’m eating what I should eat, I’m testing several times a day, and still sugars are climbing,  though they tend to drop some during the evening. Night time is one of my biggest concerns if and when my sugars happen to drop while I’m asleep; this is what had happened the first time I called the ambulance. I can tell you from experience, fear can come in from such traumatic episodes, and it can rob you of your joy and peace in a very subtle way. That’s where I found myself lately…

This week I was so overwhelmed that I told my husband I would not be going to Mid week services at church. I knew what I had to do, I had to go to our room, close the door, put on worship music and cry out to God. I sat there with my head back and I sobbed all my frustration and grief out to the Lord. One of my friends had told me that she had felt God saying to me, let go, free fall, let God carry me through this time and just trust Him.

As, I sat in my room that night, A song by Bethel Worship, began to play called ‘It is Well With My Soul.’  As I listened, I continued to weep and pray. I told God, “I can’t do this by myself anymore”. I hadn’t even realized until that point, that I was carrying the weight of so many losses and unmet expectations from the last several years. All I could muster was, “Help me Lord, I Need You.”  I felt this ball of grief and sorrow come up out of my heart that I know had been stuck there for a long time. God began to bring to my mind those things that I had been holding onto; grief over my mother who had passed away two years ago, losses and unmet expectations, wounds that were still like arrows in my heart, concerns about my grown children and grandchildren, and so forth and so on. When the tears subsided a bit, I grabbed my ‘Passion Translation’, of the Psalms. I felt led to begin a prayer journal with at least one Psalm a day, where I can just pour out my heart to God. I am more than hopeful for what lies ahead. I already feel a sense of release from the burden of what I was carrying, but I know that it is one step at a time, one day at a time. I’m learning to ‘free fall’ into His loving arms; He will always and HAS always been there to catch me.

 

God has always used humor to help me through many difficult times. Learning to laugh at myself, to be transparent and real is a must for me.

Blogging as I Go! Lord, Help Me! lol

The last two weeks I was fighting a terrible sinus infection and am just now beginning to feel somewhat normal. What is normal for me? That’s debatable, and depends on who you talk too, some I dare say, have me in the ‘she’s really different’ category.  Suffice it to say,  in my ‘normal’ state it’s challenging enough for me to figure out the technical side of things: in a brain fog trying to get my thoughts organized and in the direction I want to go is excruciating. In fact, I am currently reorganizing some of my menus and categories which will be my main task today. It’s been helpful to me to view other seasoned bloggers and take note how they (or you) are organizing your blog site. Better I try and do this now, and backtrack a bit, than wait til I’m 100 blogs in or more! So, please bear with me as I continue to press in.

One of the changes I am going to incorporate is to change the Menu ‘blog’ (how original, right?) and relabeled it Heart2heart, because that is very much what I am all about; connecting with others. I have a desire to share my family history, but I also have many things on my heart and in my own life that I want to get ‘out there!’  It’s something that has been stirring within me for a long time; sharing my life experiences, my spiritual journey, and in doing so encouraging others along the way.

The label Vander H. Atwell, will host stories or musings and opinions my father has written over the years as a guest columnist for various local newspapers where he has lived, and lives currently. I would like to feature some of his ‘bluegrass’ videos, and blogs relating to this aspect of his life under his label also.

Precious Memories, will be mostly about my family growing up, family history; Atwells (daddy’s side) and Ramey’s (mama’s side), and the last few years after mama and daddy moved back from California to Arkansas. I have thousands of pictures and video’s…but I have to figure out how to do this in an organized way. Pray for me…;)

Well, that’s it in a nutshell, happy blogging everyone, as I can and time will allow me, I do like to come around and read what you have to share, and I have found some great and interesting bloggers. It’s beginning to come together! I’m still trying to figure this blogging thing out, but I’m closer to my goal than I was, and for that I’m grateful.  I just keep reminding myself, “You Can DO it!”

Addendum:

Just added a Love Lifted Me menu, which will feature scripture, encouragement, worship (I love to worship, and I have been and am currently a worship leader along with my husband).

Gallery was added also. I most likely will add grandparent pages to that as I go along.

 

Peace

Do you have peace? Do you ever wonder if true peace is even attainable? When I was a young teenager and a new Christian, I once said to my father, that we can have perfect peace. He just looked at me and said, “Perfect Peace,’ is not possible. Young and inexperienced, I felt a little deflated, and perhaps a little intimidated. Understand, daddy wasn’t much of a church goer at the time even though he had grown up in a strict Baptist household, his daddy being a preacher. I think he was skeptical and a bit disillusioned with the church overall from his own personal experiences. Walking away from my father that day, my heart sank, a feeling of hopelessness tried to overwhelm me. I NEEDED to believe that God would give me peace, and lift the oppression and depression that had settled on me a few years earlier when I was diagnosed with Juvenile (type 1) diabetes at the age of about 12 years.

Leading up to the diagnoses, I had all the tell tale signs of having diabetes. I drank lots of water and my thirst was NEVER quenched, I lost weight, dark circles under my eyes, and overall moodiness. I remember clutching my daddy’s side, probably leaving a bruise, as we went to the lab to have blood drawn. Little did I know needles, labs, Iv’s, hospitals, and doctors would become a way of life for me. Laying in the hospital bed that first night, my mom and dad and other family members staring at me, with mournful looking faces, I was hardly able to acknowledge them. The doctor said I was lucky to be alive. They shoved books into my face that talked about losing limbs, shorter life expectancy, blindness and finally at one point I just shut down. Fear gripped my heart and my life: fear of dying, fear of losing a limb, fear of going blind, fear of not being able to have children, fear of needles etc. etc. etc. The carefree days of childhood were essentially over and the stark reality was more than I could bear at times. It took years for me to walk in the freedom and peace that I walk in now. I haven’t totally arrived, but I thank God this was not and is not the end of my story…

At that time, though, the depression was getting worse, and I remember crying at the back of my maternal grandmothers house, unable to describe the unbearable pain that was in embedded deep in the hollows of my heart.  The tears were unstoppable. She took notice but did not press me, and even if she had, I would not have known how to answer.  I am certain, that once I had left for home, she got down on her knees and cried out to God on my behalf. How grateful I am to this day for those powerful prayers. A few years later, at the age of 16 years old, lonely, feeling isolated, angry and miserable, I came to know, through a dear cousin, the Prince of Peace, Jesus. She took me to a meeting in Redding, California, and for the first time in my life, I had a supernatural encounter, face to face, with Jesus. I felt His Presence physically and emotionally that day.  My spirit came alive! Joy came into my life, and I began to experience the Peace that passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7). I began to understand through the ensuing years, true peace was and is always about trusting in Jesus, through the good times and the bad times. My peace came by looking full into His face: staying focused or centered on Him, by talking to Him (prayer), listening to Him (quiet contemplation), reading His Word,  being obedient to His Word, and through praise and worship. Philippians 4:7 says it best: and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Isaiah 26:3…”You will keep the peace, a perfect peace, for all who trust in You, for those who dedicate their hearts and minds to You.”  (The Voice) Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc.

I decided many years ago, after our first child was stillborn (8lbs 4oz) due to diabetic complications, that when trials or tribulation came, I would ‘run’ to Him not ‘away’ from Him. I would choose to look to Him, to worship Him regardless of my brokenness. To surrender to His Love and Mercy. There is Peace in knowing Jesus, as John 14:27 says…27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
As I sat and listened to this video today (as I have many, many times over the years), I felt such a peace come over me. There are so many looking for peace today, for many it’s a false peace, some kind of Utopia, or perfect world. We will NEVER achieve that here on this earth, but as the darkness begins to get darker, we can be assured, as believers, if we KEEP our eyes on Jesus, He will never leave us nor forsake us, and we WILL walk in supernatural peace that the world knows not of. Much love and prayers…Karen

Mama

My precious mother passed on May 21, 2015. My last entry about her on Blogger was taken about a year before she passed. There is so much more to the story but this was where we were at, at that time. I sure do miss her and love her. Love my daddy too, he’s no spring chicken, but he’s busier than most youngins’ these days. Mama had Alzheimers, and this link to the blog is just part of the journey.  I love the pictures I posted too, and will probably rewrite and transfer that blog on here at another time. <a href=”http://www.pureheart2heart.com/2014/05/memories-here-i-sit-tears-flowing.html

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Not the greatest quality picture, but this was my mama at her best. She had the most beautiful smile, graceful hands and ways about her. In her younger days she was a bit of a tomboy, but you sure couldn’t tell in her latter years.  Daddy and Mama grew very close the last few years of her life. I would say they ‘fell in love’ all over again but it was a deep, compassionate love. Daddy would say, after she passed, ” I think I needed her, more than she needed me.”

 

 

 

Love Lifted Me: Life, Love and Laughter

I have spent the last few hours trying to figure out some of the technical aspects of this WordPress Theme. The technical part of this is a real challenge for me, but I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of it. I worked with the widgets again today and figured I was safe, that not too many people would see my Gravatar traveling all over the pages, up, down, center, right, left. I’m dizzy just thinking about it! The real challenge for me today came with trying to figure out pages. I thought I had really messed up big time, but then came that ‘aha’ moment, and voila, here I am (I think). We shall see. lol

‘Love Lifted Me’ is the underlying theme throughout my blogs and my life as I  share my thoughts, heart matters, funnies, poems, and other things, along with family memories. In reality, I’ve been putting bits and pieces of my life’s story all over the internet for awhile, and even have a Blogger site that I haven’t really blogged on since 2014/15 http://www.pureheart2heart.com/2014/05/memories-here-i-sit-tears-flowing.html , but it just never really felt like home. I also totally embarrassed myself as a YouTube Partner around 2010, raking in a whopping $100 dollars by the end of the ‘year’, after which they canned me, along with 1000’s of other YouTube ‘stars.’  See one of the video’s below for a good laugh, which my husband so graciously edited, and wonder along with me, ‘What in the world was she thinking!!?? God has always had ways of keeping me humble, and I’ve always been a more than willing participant. lol (can I use lol in a blog?) I have also journaled on Facebook,  with friends and family over a spattering of about 5-6 years as my mama battled Alzheimers. It was a difficult journey for all of us, especially my father. My hope is that I can use all these various places that I’ve scattered myself, my thoughts and memories and plant them here to take root.

Last but not least, I am a Christian minister, and I love to worship Jesus. He’s my best Friend, Savior and the Lover of My soul. My heart’s desire is to connect heart to heart with God and then with humanity: to laugh, to  cry, to bring a word of encouragement and hope, to be a light in a dark world. As you watch the video below, I hope it brings a smile to your face, may not be funny to you, and I myself am totally aghast, but my younger grand kids just love it. lol

God Bless…Karen

A merry heart does good like a medicine… Proverbs 17:22

The Door

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Deep in my heart of hearts there is a room with a special door, that oft’ these days I choose to open, full of precious memories.

Precious memories, unseen angels,
Sent from somewhere to my soul.
How they linger, ever near me,
And the sacred past unfolds.

Precious memories how they linger,
How they ever flood my soul.
In the stillness, of the midnight.
Precious sacred scenes unfold. Continue reading

Welcome

I’m learning how to navigate this WordPress site so bare with me while I try and figure a few things out.  I’m not a super techy like most of the younger crowd out there but I am hoping to have my first real blog soon. In the meanwhile, you can check out my About page. The picture of the door is one I took at my folks a few years ago and it fit perfectly with what I had in mind for this blog. I may make a few mistakes along the way, in fact, I’m sure I will as I’m no professional, but I hope somewhere out there in cyberspace, I will make a few new friends. See you soon.  God Bless…Karen