Monday, November 23, 2009

It Happened...AGAIN!!!!!=(

So, let me begin at the beginning...hang with me, I promise every word of this will entertain you=)

I'm not sure when my neurotic fear of snakes began to develop, but my earliest memories come from living back home on Paul's Way with our very woodsy backyard. I remember the day my dog Princess was fervently slinging her head back and forth, playing with a stick. I go to grab the stick out of her mouth to throw it for her, and low and behold, the "stick" wraps around my leg mid-sling. I proceed to head straight to the top of our old-school swingset, where I clung for dear life at the metal corner post screaming and crying at the top of my lungs for help because Princess, being the excellent dog she was, had decided to follow me to the swingset and was continuing to shake the snake to death right underneath me. My parents soon rescued me--I might have been five when this happened?--and to this day, I can still feel that snake wrap around my leg when I recall this story.

It seems like after that earliest memory, everthing snake, particulary black snakes began to creep me out. I remember looking out the back windows of our house at the blueberry bushes our neighbors grew next door and being petrified to go outside because they placed fake snakes in the top of the bushes to scare the birds away. It didn't help that when my littlest brother, Mark, became old enough to go through his snake-fetish phase that all boys must, he thought it was hilarious to place his black rubber snake under my pillow or in the bottom of my bed, so that I would inevitably scream and cry and try to beat him up. He was always a glutton for punishment. I finally got so mad one time, that I took the snake out to the garbage can and proceeded to cut it into itsy-bity rubber pieces while he cried and begged me to stop. Needless to say, I was fifteen when he started doing this and some permanent damage was done.

So when exactly the dreams began is hard to pinpoint. I'm almost certain they began in high school because I can remember nights where I woke up in cold sweats, scared to death staring at my bed from across the room, or my doorway, or from the top of my desk chair. I never remembered how I got there or why, but I do know it happened. It was only after I got married and that the stories began to emerge because now Joey was there first hand to experience them.

The first one occurred within our first or second week of marriage. I screamed bloody-murder in the middle of the night, ripped the sheets back off the bed, as I ran to hop on top of the nearby desk chair--all the while pointing back at the bed screaming, "Snake!" Joey is freaking out, ripping the covers off the bed at 3am before he comes to his senses and realizes I was dreaming. A little disturbed, we both crawl back in bed. I fall back fast asleep, while Joey spends the rest of the night staring at the ceiling due to his adrenaline rush.

Enter Chattanooga. These dreams seemed to happen more often for whatever reason while in Chattanooga. Maybe it was being by myself more often at night, maybe being in a strange new place for the first time in my life, I don't know, but I'm amazed our town-home neighbors who shared a wall withus never called the cops in three years because the screaming has to be disturbing.

Let's see...there was one night I ran screaming up and down, back and forth down my side of the bed in my long silk nightgown. Joey tried to grab me to stop me, but only succeeded when he wripped my nightgown all the way up to my arm pit before I woke up. Then the night I ran full speed toward my closet to hide from the snake, only in my dream the closet doors were open--not so in real life. Joey was able to grab me and drag me to the floor before I hit the doors at a full run. I'm sure the huge rug burns on my knees were much better than the head injury that could have been. But the one that takes the cake, is the one I remember most vividly. In my dream, I remember being carried by my dad and brother Matthew, one on each arm, toward a pit with a wooden lid. My whole family was there, standing around the pit singing happy birthday. They opened the wooden door only to reveal an anaconda size, slithering black snake, and they were trying to throw me in the pit with it!!! (Disclaimer: I LOVE my family. I have absolutely now grounds or ideas for why I dreamed they did this to me. I will leave that to a professional to psycho analyze.) real life, I had sat up in bed, stiff as a board (because my arms were being held), and I was screaming at the top of my lungs, I mean screaming like my last breath was about to be taken from me--I even remember being a little hoarse later on. Joey is now awake, trying to wake me up, and he says he literally took me by both arms and shook me so hard, he was afraid to hurt me, but I was not waking up, and by now, he was simply imitating what I thought was the feeling of trying to be shoved into this pit. I struggled big time, throwing elbows and trying to get away. So, I closed both my fists, reared back, and punched as hard as I could to escape, and Joey ended up with a black eye. I woke up when he let go and shouted, turned over and went back to sleep, while he once again seethed all night long. His eye looked bad the next morning and was unfortunately very noticeable to all his employees.

It didn't happen again until soon after we had moved into our current home. I woke up one night and began running down our hallway to get away. Joey was over it by this point in our marriage. He simply soccer checked me from behind, taking my legs out from under me before I fell down the stairs. I woke up on the floor in the middle of our hall in time to turn around and see him crawl back into bed. Guess I can't blame him. After that, it really hasn't happened for a long while. Sure there have been nights here and there where I jump out of bed scared and panting, but I don't make enough noise to wake Joey up, so he doesn't even know it's happened.

The problem with these dreams is my reaction continues to take more and more of a toll on me physically and psychologically as I get older. The last instance occurred while I was in New York on our Girl's Trip. This time I was five months pregnant with Weston, and my sister-in-love, Emily, was the lucky one who had to stop me from running full throttle into my hotel door because I was simply running for the light in my dream, there was no door. She was able to stop me in the nick of time before I really hurt myself and Weston. This was the first time I woke up so terrified I thought I was going to be physically sick and vomit. Once I regained my stomach, I went to lay in bed and all I really wanted to do was sob uncontrollably, I was so freaked out. But I made myself stay calm because the adrenaline rush was causing me to have contractions, which scared me even more. An hour of slow deep breathing, and I was able to fall back to sleep. Unfortunately it was Emily who had the sleepless night this time.

So last night, it happened again! This time I was dreaming I was in a small tunnel, somewhere dark I couldn't stand up, and this huge head of a black snake was coming after me. Joey said I struggled for several minutes, tangled in the covers, so he couldn't get a hand on me before I began to dig and crawl on my hands and knees across him over the bed because remember in my dream, I couldn't stand up. He tried grabbing my arms, but the best he could do was try to keep my from face planting on the floor before I hit the ground and continued to crawl hysterically into the bathroom. By the time he turned the bathroom light on, I was awake, panting, disoriented and almost in tears on the bathroom floor. He left me there to go back to bed while I hesitantly slipped back under my covers, fighting off pictures in my head of the dream, hoping that when I closed my eyes again, I wouldn't be back in the same place. My arm throbbed so badly from my shoulder to my elbow--I mean it hurt to the point where I cried a little. Joey can only figure I must have landed on it wrong when I scrambled off his side of the bed. Needless to say....I think I need help.

I no longer can even set foot in the snake house at the zoo. Snakes on a Plane TV commercials give me the willies and can send me over the edge. Discovery channels must be carefully, quickly screened before I sit and watch them, and the idea of running across snakes in the woods petrifies me to the point where I'm almost afraid to go hiking anymore, and this is one of my all time favorite things to do! I want to get over this phobia, but I'm really not sure how. It won't be long before Weston enters his boyish snake-fetish phase, and I seriously don't know what I'm going to do. I don't want my children to inherit this same irrational fear, but I'm not sure I can stay composed in front of them in the presence of a snake. Any suggestions would be helpful and much appreciated, but in the meantime, maybe you at least enjoyed this snapshot into our lives. Fun times at the Durham house=)

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Run

So, let me preface this post by emphatically and persistently insisting that I in no physical or mental capacity am a runner. I have always hated running. My body is a bit sturdier than most, and I definitely weigh more than I look, so I don't exactly skim, lightly across the ground. It's more like a slow--probably painful to watch--plod of a jog. There is nothing lean, slender, or fast about my appearance or my performance. I hate every moment of the labor that goes into propelling yourself across the ground. I am a swimmer, so running literally makes me feel like a fish out of water. Actually, I think if you imagine a fish trying to run out of water, you get the perfect picture of how I am feeling.

So why do it? Well, there is a lesson in life that so many young adults and teenagers need to learn. A lesson that I only really grasped when I began to run. There are some things in life you do not because you like or want to do them, but because it's what is best or right for you to do, and unfortunately, these are the things you usually must always work the hardest at accomplishing.

Not everything in life is instant and microwaveable. As a matter of fact, the things you HAVE to do or NEED to do are often the very things, that in the end, after hours of sweat-rendering labor and emotional pain, you end up thoroughly enjoying the most because you are personally invested. A piece of yourself is in the outcome, the product. Your satisfaction and pride is justified and well-deserved at this point. So many people these days are unfulfilled and dissatisfied with their lives or uncertain because they are afraid to personally and physically invest themselves this deeply into anything. They see the risk of failure or disappointment as not worth the effort, but sadly this means they will never know the joy and fulfillment that only comes on the other side of doing something wholeheartedly, dotting every "i" and crossing every "t", leaving no stone unturned, and every other expression that means to complete a task thoroughly and to complete it well.

Now, that being said, I am fortunate that God blessed me with a personality that enjoys setting and completing a goal. I hate to run, but I love the discipline of a training workout that slowly, ever so slowly, builds you up to race day. I hate the air of anticipation and nervousness on race day because I am probably the only one running (NOT racing) to simply finish. I am not there to beat the clock or someone else. When it comes to running, competition is NOT a driving force. The goal is to finish, and to finish strong, not begging for an oxygen tank or IV fluids at the end.

On a more practical level, I run because it's what I have time to do. I don't have to leave my house and go to the gym or the pool or somewhere to take an exercise class; therefore, I can run on my own schedule from my own home in any amount of time I can squeeze in. Sometimes this means running at 6am or 2pm or 4pm or most often 8pm, but the point is, running is accessible anywhere I go anytime. The ability to run and get my exercise in for the day travels with me wherever I choose to roam--on a visit to Macon, or Florida, or Arizona, or even to my mom's house in another neighborhood. No matter where I go, I can never give myself the excuse, "Well, I just won't be able to make it to the gym today. Oh well."

Running is also the only thing I have ever done, health-wise, that gives you immediate results. Now, I'm not talking about weight. I've vowed not to look at a scale until I've been working out and watching my diet for at least a year. However, with running, I literally see my stamina increase every day. For example, I started by running for only five minutes the first three days or two iPod songs=) Day one, I was huffing and puffing after thirty seconds. Day two after sixty seconds, and by day three, I was running through two songs without feeling like I was going to die. Now, that's pretty instant results if you ask me. Did I lose any weight in three days? Absolutely not! But I started sleeping deeper at night, having more energy during the day, and now I'm on week three and looking forward to pushing myself to run 18 minutes tonight. It took me three weeks to work up to 18 minutes, but every day I saw results in the amount of time I was capable of running without being winded. Now that is encouraging. When you can see the progress, no matter how small, it's worth every moment--or my case, minute--of pain you had to put into the process. And by February, I will be marveling that it took 3 months to build up to 3 miles, but when I cross the finish line of that 5K, the exuberance of accomplishment and joy of just finishing the task cannot be explained. I challenge anyone to try it for yourself=)

So...I run. And God teaches me something through my training every plodding step of the way. He reveals different lessons about life and how He works. It never ceases to amaze me that God can use any circumstance in our lives to teach us about His ways, His character, and how He wants us to live. He wants to commune with us so badly, and He wants us to really know Him so much more. Jesus used parables to speak to the people for a reason. He used what they knew to help explain how He help them better understand. I feel in my life right now, the process of running is just one big parable He's using to speak into my life. I'm looking forward to sharing these ideas with you over the next months of my running journey=) Sorry to leave you hanging, but I think I've written enough for one blog. Don't you? =)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Home Is....

To me, home is family, and I use the word family in every sense of the meaning: my nuclear, immediate, and extended.

Home is watching my daughter kiss her baby brother on the head. Home is thrilling in Weston's little chubby cheeks as he smiles from ear to ear at recognizing my face. Home is curling up to watch your favorite TV shows in bed with one puppy curled behind your legs and the other curled up in the crook of your lap. Home is waking up at 6am in the morning only to roll over and spoon with the man you want to spend every morning with for the rest of your life.

Home is Christmas Eve or birthday parties or family vacation or anytime we can get all my brothers and sisters and cousins together to laugh our heads off at anything and everything. Home is relishing the warmth of my parents new home and watching Savannah's granddaddy chase her around their cozy house. Home is thanking the Lord that my children's great-grandparents are still around and capable of thoroughly enjoying them and spending time with them when possible. Home is feeling so comfortable with your aunts and uncles that you enjoy every word of a quiet conversation with them about anything at all. Home is the contentment that comes from watching Savannah absolutely love playing with her cousins on Joey's side of the family. Home is having parents-in-love that feel like your very own.

Home is holidays and catching up with second cousins and aunts and uncles you rarely see and hugging the necks of extended family you love not because you know them all that well, but because they are family, and that means something. Home is attending Bible studies, baby showers, and gatherings at the park with friends. Home is feeling wrapped in warmth when you sit through your Sunday morning church service even though you may not see a single face you know personally, but the air of community and fellowship you feel is the signpost of home.

Home is family. Nothing more and nothing less. I love my home.


Jamie's friend, Elizabeth, had the idea to do a "blog carnival" and got a group of friends together to write about HOME today. Check out her blog here, along with other posts (at the bottom) by others on what home means to them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Too Many Thoughts

I have so much I want to mind is too cluttered to write...I actually just deleted a five paragraph rant because my brain couldn't figure out how to express what I've been feeling lately. (Deep breath...sigh...) So, I will simply give you some pictures to enjoy, write some snippets here and there, and be back when God clears up what He wants me to say=) Enjoy!These are from our day trip to Dahlonega. Could Savannah be any cuter? I tell you, I'm pretty sure I'm biased, but there is just something about this little girl, a spark, a spirit, a something that just endears you to her. I have a sneaky suspicion we are in for some VERY social middle and high school days with this one. Latest Savannahism: We were in the car on our way home. I turn on my praise music CD and start to sing along, really enjoying myself. From the backseat, "Mommy, no sing! No sing, Mommy." "Ok, Savannah. Then you sing." A few seconds of silence passes. I look in my rear view mirror to see her little hand raised in the air, "Praise the Yord! Praise is nane. God!" And she continues this in the sweetest, sing-songy voice. My heart could have burst in wonder. Oh praise Him for the God-shaped hole we have from the time of our birth. Even a two year old knows how much she needs Him without really understanding who He is yet.


She is really starting to play with her dolls now too. It's so much fun to watch her burp, rock, feed, wrap, and change her baby doll. Sometimes I peek in on her in her bed to watch her sitting there reading a book to the baby doll in her lap. My favorite is when she sings songs to her baby. "Jesus Loves Me", "Jesus Loves the Little Children", and the "Hallelujah, Praise the Lord" songs are her favorites.Weston is really coming into his own lately. Even though he was vaccinated for six different things last Tuesday, including Whooping Cough, then came down with Whooping Cough on Thursday--awe the catch 22 of vaccinations--he still has settled into a pretty good routine, and I can't get enough of his smiley, chunky self. He definitely recognizes my face and voice now, following me across a room and giving me the sweetest smiles. I love it! As you can see, he's holding his head up good now and sleeping through the night as well. He coos and gurgles and grunts to join in on conversation, and I feel he's going to be a lot of fun. I can't believe three months has flown by so quickly! We'll be starting the transition to solid foods in only a month! Geez! I don't care for the first three months, but I wish they could just slow down for a bit once they reach three months. Some family pics below from Dahlonega. We had such a good time just being a family this day. It was the first time we really got out, enjoyed ourselves, and just felt this is what having two kids is suppose to feel like. Children are the greatest blessing and deepest joy God can give us on this earth. I don't understand people who can contemplate hurting, abusing, neglecting, abandoning, or aborting these little ones. They come straight from the mind's eye of God, from His own creation as He knits them together in our wombs. They enter this world and inherit our sinful nature, but when they are so new, so green, so untainted to the realm of sins out there, you really feel a closeness to the heart of God, the tenderness He must feel for us all. The love.
Let's see...I starting training for the Seminar 5k the first of November. I accept the fact that it will take my body at least a year to regain some semblance of my old self, but in the meantime, I know I have to work really hard to get to that one year marker. Please pray that God gives me the strength and perseverance to meet my goals for the next post-baby year. 5K in February, 10K in May, and Sprint Triathalon in August. That's what I'm hoping for anyway. I could use all the encouragement and accountability anyone cares to offer! I have many thoughts about running and being a runner--because really I'm not--but I will save all that for another post.I leave you with a Halloween pumpkin picture. We had bought a VERY Joey struggled to pick it up large...pumpkin from Burt's, but lesson learned now, we left it to sit in the dirt behind our house, and when we went to pick it up to carve, the entire rotten insides fell out the bottom. Lesson: Always store pumpkins out of direct sunlight on a hard surface such as concrete. So, fifteen minutes before trick-or-treaters started showing up at our house, we carved our Chick-fil-A pumpkin. I will probably give this a go again next year just because there was more I wanted to do with the emblem that I just didn't have time to do. Love to you all!