What a Month

Let’s start with a caution warning. It is going to get a little real around here today.  I’ll also be talking about my current physical health and it could be a bit TMI for you guys – be warned. This post contains affiliate links. 

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The month of June 2019 just might go down as the month that really resonated with my word of the year, COURAGE. At first, I thought it was going to be rough because of some physical stuff I was going through, but oh I had no idea what was to come in that first week.

Let’s start with the physical – I might circle back to the mental/emotional struggle this month has been soon, but it’s not exactly my story to tell. No, it is not my knee. On May 28, I found out I just have a big wad of arthritis in it. Surprise, it hasn’t really been bugging me now that this has happened…

I have an ovarian cyst.

Okay, so ovarian cysts are actually very common in women – most women won’t even know that they have them and they usually cause no harm. In my case, I have one that started to cause some issues on May 29.

It began as a cramp in my right side about 30-40 minutes after eating, so I started to think that it was something with my gallbladder. I stopped eating the Keto diet and the pain didn’t go away – it just got worse. On June 3, I started spotting (3 days after my last cycle had ended) and by Tuesday was having one of my heaviest periods ever (hello, KotexU AllNighter Ultra Thin Pads in bulk) that lasted for eleven days. And by Tuesday night,  I was in so much pain that I could barely walk or talk – so we headed to the ER and waited for some tests.

Although a CT Scan showed the important results, the ER couldn’t find the source of my pain and sent me home with a diagnosis for an enlarged spleen. I was back the next day – so cold, the pain had moved to a focused area on my left side of my lower back, and I could barely breathe. This time I was told that my CT Scan showed a 5.7 cm ovarian cyst and that I needed to talk to gynecology – discharged again.

By Friday, I was done and needed to get more attention so we went to West Penn’s ER where they told me I was constipated (duh, I’d been on percocet for four days) and oh BTW have endometrial polyps. This was said oh so casually on my discharge that I lost my cool and begged to see someone from gynecology to tell me what that meant.

When you go back to my original report, you would see that I have an 11.5mm endometrial lining and polyps + an ovarian cyst that was measuring between 5.7 and 6.7 cm on the two different hospital machines. The next a gyno could see me was July through AHN or late June with ABC Women’s. Through prayer, I got in last Friday (6/13) and was told we need to get surgery scheduled + a D&C (that procedure was recommended at the West Penn ER but they wanted to wait for the cyst to grow or burst).

At this point, the soonest I can be seen in the OR is July 18. That’s another 29 days of pain. And when I tell you pain, I mean this 10,500+ steps a day mama is struggling to get 3,000 steps a day. I have to hold back tears on hour long conference calls. I can’t pick up the twins without feeling strained. And did I mention that I am tired. Super tired. Sigh.

I know that God is in control and is fighting for me – would you have a prayer or two for me throughout the next few weeks for healing?

Another March 6

I promised I would never forget her, that I’d keep doing what I could to be sure the legacy and her faith would live on. And today, another March 6, is a day I’m going to talk about her.

Wendy might only have been days shy of 17 when she passed, but this woman had a huge impact on my teenage heart.

We were in first grade together – finding clay on the playground, mixing food dye into icing to test color combinations, and writing our first spelling words. Years later, in tenth grade, we were reunited by a work of God that was just in time for her diagnosis. I got to watch my best friend go through hell on earth with a smile all over her face and strength that never wavered.

It was her faith that got her through the cancer treatments. It was her faith that got her to remission. It was her faith that we clung to when she got that final diagnosis and said her final goodbyes.

Wendy was a true example of faith, hope, and love. When people ask me why I keep trudging on even when the going seems tough, I need to remember to tell them about her. She is the reason I move forward on the bad days – because I can’t imagine that what I am “going through” could even touch what she did and she did it with a smile.

She went back to high school even when she was sick. She lived a pretty darn near normal teenage life. She dated. She was a staple in our youth group and made us laugh, laugh out loud.

And if she did all those things while fighting her battle, I sure can get up and face my “tough” days.

I’ve lived a whole extra lifetime and am two years into the third since I lost her on earth. I’ve been given the chance to have a family, a career, and pretty good health. And I’m going to make sure that every day is a tribute to her strength and her faith and take each day as a blessing from God.

Here we are, Wendy. Another March 6 without you. You’re free of pain and I sure hope you’re smiling down on us. We love you – even the “we” that didn’t get to meet you.

2019 Word of the Year: Courage

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting

Source: Take Courage, Bethel Music

2019 has been ushered in! For the Willis house, it happened quietly, just like any other night would. Except nights around here have been different – the mister and I go to sleep at the same time (by 11 PM) and most days he is out of bed before me. This new reality (as I’ve lovingly joked) is actually quite blissful. So we were asleep by 11 and woke when it was time for him to be at work. Bliss.

Each year, I like to proclaim a word of the year to set on my heart. It helps me to focus my thoughts, my prayers, and my decisions. This year will be no different.

2019 Word of the Year: Courage

Whoa, right? Courage. This coming from a woman who has conquered quite a few things – worked her childhood dream job as a teacher, survived two years of a mentally and physically abusive relationship, was a single mom, fell in love, had more babies, lost many pounds, fell into a true dream job, ran many miles, speaks about her faith – this woman needs courageYup. I do. 

You see, the last quarter of 2018 threw us some curve balls that we didn’t see coming. I mean, God had been planning something big but we had no idea that would mean me failing the test that would have made me a wee bit more advantageous out on the job market and then coming back to work to find out I needed to be on the job market. But God has plans and this was a blessing and a half of a plan.

Greg dove in head first to a complete career change when we got this news. He saw it as his time to step into something a little uncomfortable and will test next week to become a CNA (he’s working now as a Nursing Assistant) at a care facility in Kittanning which means we have our evenings together and slashed a good $400 a month out of our gas budget. Glorious. And not just the money – this man is motivated to wake up and serve for his family and the residents he works with. It is truly a blessing to watch him grow.

And me? I’ve joined M&S Consulting (based in Morgantown, WV) and am a Salesforce Consultant which means every day there could be something new and different on my plate, depending on my client’s needs. But I get to work from home or on-site with my clients which is making for some changes for the kiddos – we’ll be hiring a mama’s helper to get the kids on the bus and to pre-k starting at the end of this week. Travel starts soon and we’re all a little nervous about the changes but excited.

It will take courage to make all these wheels turn, so I figure what a great word to set as my word of the year for 2019.

Oh, But There’s More

The word doesn’t stop at needing courage for the changes, because truthfully we are about six weeks in (how did time fly?!?!). Courage is going to come into play in many ways…I’ll be running at least one more half marathon this year (watch for a BIG announcement on that) and now that I don’t commute I feel all these words will come out of my brain and onto the computer. Not sure what that means yet – more blog posts? a book? more speaking? Not sure, but there is something that is going to take courage to put on paper and this is the year. I feel it.

And it doesn’t stop at me. Courage is going to flow through our family – courage to step up in sports, at school, at work. Courage to be bold about our faith and our love for all people. And that means all of you reading this. Yep, there are already some special prayers on our hearts for some of our friends and family who need 2019 to be an amazing year and then some.

Take Courage

That song that I started this post out with – “Take Courage” – it proclaims that God is in the waiting. I watched a video interview with Kristene DiMarco, writer of this song and she mentioned 2 Chronicles 20:17 where Jehosophat was told he did not have to fight the battle, that God would deliver. She goes on to say that this is a language of hope, and goodness, isn’t it? Courage in the waiting is big, that triumph that is unfolding is even bigger!

Exodus 14:14

It confirmed a verse that’s been on my heart since October 4 – “The Lord will fight for you, you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:14).  And He is. He rescues us so that we can rise to victory, if we just lean in and let Him unfold his plans. If we don’t let our words and thoughts get in His way. And I am standing just a little taller here on January 1 to tell you that yes, He does and He will.

So will you join me and take Courage this year? Will you make 2019 a year that you are waiting and standing still for the victories about to come to you? I pray you will.

Love and peace!

My Front Door

I’ve been participating in a photo challenge on Instagram this October. When the prompt for Monday came up, I found myself writing and sharing some things that were too long for an Insta caption. Thus, this post, My Front Door.

The 8th day of the #everydayphotoaday challenge brings you to my favorite place, home. Lately, it has been a respite for me. This front door signifies so much. My front door is a window into our life as a family. It isn’t picture perfect or a new build. It is a beautiful piece of old architecture begging to share some stories.

It is the door we walked through and •knew• we had found the place to raise our kids. It is the door we shoved two 27′ trailers worth of life belongings through. It is the door that our dogs run out of a few too many times. It is the door that we carried our twin daughters through on a sunny Easter Sunday three years ago on their first day home. It is the door so many of my runs start and end with. It is the door that has welcomed friends for home group and family for birthday parties.

It is the door that my brother and husband picked out and replaced so we were sure it was fire safe and blocked out the winter wind and summer heat. It is the door our kids stare out when the Grands go home to Pittsburgh and Myrtle.

It is the door that slams when The Bigs are running off to the bus. It is the door that welcomes them home from a busy day at school. It is the door I will keep walking in and out of until I get to walk teens out to prom pictures, daughters to bridal dress fittings, and usher grandbabies into at Christmas. At least that is my prayer.

It is the door I walked out of when I was retreating to the hammock to decide to leave Giant Eagle. It is the door I walked through after my first day at Excel4apps, feeling so connected and welcomed and excited for possibilities.

It is the door I walked through when I came home from finding out my Company had been acquired and my time with my work fam is short. It is the door I will walk out of every day until I find a new job that I love as much as I love this one. 

Yes, this is the post where I tell you that I am on the hunt for a new job. It has been a stressful week and I’d love your prayers and support as we lean into God to see what is next. I’ve loved 99.9% of my moments at Excel4apps and unfortunately that 0.1% had to happen last week when the HR team of our {new} parent company came to the office I love so much and delivered the news.

Join me in asking God to open front doors and remove obstacles as this next chapter in our story begins?

The Grasshopper

I’ve been working on some personal stuff lately, and as I scrolled through some photos from the summer, the photo of the grasshopper caught my eye. I’d forgotten about this bug probably since the moment my friend Jenn put him back into nature, but something about this picture made words start to flow.

I’ve never been one to stop and enjoy the tiny details in life, but that is going to have to change. My husband has been trying to get me to do this for nine years, but I wasn’t budging. Look at those eyes, the antennae, the color, and the legs of the grasshopper. All intricately made and on something as small as a bug. I stare down at my fingers typing this post and realize the wrinkles, the knuckles, the veins – they’re also intricately and beautifully made. Time to start appreciating these things more.

You see, I want to stop thinking about what to do in the future and start to live more in the moment. That might mean a few bumps along the way, but it is time to start truly enjoying the present so the future can be just as awesome.

Normally I would have flicked this bug off my daughter’s extra outfit and gone about my day, but something prompted me to enjoy it and take a photo just in case my husband and son wouldn’t get to see it. And seeing the grasshopper in my phone’s photo feed was exactly what I needed in the middle of a weekend spent not feeling like the world was just right.

As a person of faith, I’m one to believe in signs and messages and that we might not understand them until later when we think about them. The grasshopper appeared in our lives on a day that seemed so perfect – the weather was great, we were with friends, and I was looking forward to a holiday off of a job I loved. To anyone else, he might have been a nuisance, but to me, he was something I needed to see down the road – fast forwarding to this past weekend. You see, grasshoppers are symbolic of taking leaps of faith and that you are able to move forward from whatever you are facing.

This particular grasshopper popped up in a mindless photo search while I should have been doing 100 other things but was avoiding them because I am just not ready. I paused and thought about the details of this bug and the love that God put into making even the little things. God hasn’t forgotten me. He has plans for me and wants me to thrive in them. He made me intricately and wonderfully and holds me even in the darkest of days. I just need to lean on Him then jump with faith.

What are you facing that you need to take to God? Are you ready to step out in faith with me and jump like the grasshopper?

Our Baptism

Two months ago today, the mr and I took a big step in our faith. We had our baptism in front of our church family at New Life Center!

our baptism

Our church does water baptism in a pool on the altar area. It symbolizes dying to the old self and rising up out of the water new. While baptism isn’t necessary to go to Heaven, it is a pretty big step in faith. Letting that old self go and be made new is a pretty incredible feeling.

I’ve been a Christian since 1995 and had been sprinkle baptized as a baby – I can tell you that nothing felt like it made me feel that day. I was the last to be baptized of nine and my husband went right before me. There have been a lot of struggles in my life with relationships, comparison, weight, single motherhood, stepping away from my faith, and more. When I went under the water, many of those flashed before my eyes then a dark to light flash happened and I was up and out of the water, feeling fresh and new and whole.

After the service, I was away from my family a few days for work but couldn’t stop smiling and thinking about what all God has done for us. That day was awesome and will be a pretty brilliant memory for the rest of my life.

Want to know more? You can check out the video of our baptism here on our church’s Facebook page!

 

Kindness Is Contagious

In a world where there is so much hurt and hate, will you remember that kindness is contagious? I’m passing this onto my kiddos and hopefully will remember it myself.

I’ve been sort of silent in all bits of my life, not telling anyone but Greg the full story of what’s been going on in this overthinking head of mine. You’ve heard bits and pieces here in my running round-ups or maybe you follow me on Instagram and have seen my admission to some struggles. But today? Today was hard, you guys.

I’m still not ready to talk about it, but will be soon. The day felt very unkind. There were not enough hugs. There was not enough air. There were no amount of songs from my 2008 playlist that were going to help. Life really changed today and now it’s time to see what the next chapter brings for Team Wills (and ~55 or so other families). Sigh.

Get to know the people around you. Get to know people who are not just like you. If you are a faithful person, pray to be able to love people without conditions and love them right where they are at. Do the right thing. And remember, kindness is contagious.

kindness is contagious

This box is a snack box I started getting for my work’s snacks – if you are interested in the service (Snack Nation), please let me know and I’ll refer you – cooler stuff for you and me both if you let me know! 

Monday Momfession: Comparison

I’m trying to get my bearings following a week “away” in my city for work. All the plans were there for me to rest and read during downtime but I am a relationship builder and couldn’t make the time I needed for me. Unfortunately, that started to spiral into something that MOMFESSION has me in a funk, comparison.

It started with worrying that I was holding back the other morning runners. No matter how hard I tried to tell myself that this was an awesome moment for me [to be able to run “with” my boss, our CEO, and others from the company], I just got down on myself for making them shuffle through the runs. Maybe someday I will feel fast enough to run with a group, but even cutting 45 seconds off my time from Saturday to Wednesday didn’t push out those voices.
Then there were the photos where [omg] my [big] white arms made an appearance.  No one else has bingo arms, do they? Or if they do, they know better than to “show them off”. Yeah, getting a smaller than I am used to t shirt and sweater didn’t even change my mind. I saw myself as a blob!

Not to be all woe is me, but I got some blog related news today that made me just want to quit this whole thing. I’d been given advice about how easy it was to do something and then after two weeks of anticipating the end result, I got my news. I started to compare numbers that I can see (Twitter, Insatagram) and wonder why them and not me. I wanted to throw in the towel and never try for opportunities again. Because…comparison.

You’re starting to get it, right? I was falling victim to comparison and it hurt. Heck, it still hurts…

But you know, I’m sure I send others in comparison spirals unintentionally. And that’s the thing…I can’t feel guilty. We are responsible for our joy and comparison is the thief of it. God made us all unique with different running paces (or the desire NOT to run), skin colors and the size of the skin that holds our greatness, and skills. I’m working on trying to embrace my differences in the same way I cherish others.

I’ve got to figure out my way to deal and start to turn my ship around. Will you help me by not comparing yourself today?

Washing My Face with Rachel Hollis

This post, Washing my Face with Rachel Hollis, contains affiliate links through my relationship with Amazon. I purchased this book on my own and wanted to share my opinions (which are 100% my own) with you. 

Girl. I just cried all the ugly tears as I finished the last two chapters of Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be. I’d had all these intentions to share posts with you here that were all book club-like, chapter by chapter, sharing my summaries but I had to stop that thought and just dive right into chapters 19 and 20 and talk about them right now because I’m over here washing my face and praising God for giving Rachel (and me) the talent to write for our hearts.

Image: Amazon.com

Why I Need to Wash My Face

It’s barely 7:00 AM on a steamy Pittsburgh summer day and I am driving down 28 with tears in my eyes. My heart and head have been so torn up lately after getting some gritty, heartwrenching truths about how people feel about my life (and my loves).

I’ve been struggling with wondering what my purpose is and if I should keep blogging, keep staying so laser-focused on weight loss and another Half Marathon PR. I’ve been wondering if all the things I say yes to are taking away from my kids and husband – and realizing that they are absolutely changing relationships with other family and friends.

I’ve been struggling with division, especially as our city has been plagued with a shooting that is so senseless and so confusing that it hurts. I’ve been struggling with my position – a white, Christian, and a fairly conservative girl raised in a sandbox full of kids and adults that were just like me who ends up marrying a bi-racial man who was raised in another faith and is raising four extremely beautiful and unique babies with me. My whiteness and my affiliation with the church are often lumped into the firey coals of division that the people like my husband and kids deal with every day – I’m not seen as an ally in dark times like this, but often an enemy because my response to pray is never enough for either side – I’m stuck in the middle of a war where being Switzerland just hurts so bad. I don’t understand why EVERYONE can’t just love like Jesus does.

Washing My Face with Rachel Hollis

So back to those tears. I was crying because I was overwhelmed with all these lies I’d been telling myself and I didn’t even know it, not until I snagged the Audible version of Girl, Wash Your Face and plugged it into my car’s sound system. Once I started, how I wished I’d grabbed it back when my friend Tabatha posted it on her Instagram, but I know now that God’s perfect timing came into play as I got to the last two chapters.

If you don’t have this amazing book, stop what you are doing right now and go get it – Amazon has it available on audio (how I took this book in) and in hardback and you can be reading it by the weekend! 

Rachel Hollis tackles the lies that she’s lived with in hopes that her readers will break free from those lies and live a life full of passion and exuberance. I’ll tell you what, I wish I could grab a coffee with her and tell her how much she spoke to me.

Yinz might think I have it all together, but that’s far from wrong. My faith and my family anchor me in the midst of the chaos that comes with being me, but there are just some days when I just can’t do life. There are days when I wonder if I am worthy of the blessings. There are days when the blessings (particularly 1, 2, 3, and  4) are just too much for my body and brain to manage. There are days when work has to come before family and days when family has to come before work. And through each of those days, I’m telling myself lies that hold me back from the big dreams and goals I have, the things that I know God’s made me for.

Listening to Girl, Wash Your Face brought to light so many of the things I feel like I struggle with and made me realize they aren’t as big as my worrying brain makes them out to be. It ended with two pretty big boom chapters that are helping me in the here and now, the two big reasons I need to be washing my face and moving forward, to stop lying to myself.

19. The Lie: There’s Only One Right Way to Be

I almost feel like my thoughts on this one should come last, but since this comes first in the book, I think I’ll start here.

While Rachel Hollis was raised in California and I call Pennsylvania home, it sounds like our upbringing was pretty similar. Both PK’s (preacher’s kids) growing up in worlds that were all white. Stepping outside the sandbox had a little bit of a scare factor to it at first, but once we realized that the lie of growing up in a world that is cookie cutter and all the same, oh did the beauty of the world our Lord made shine!

For me, my first memory of meeting someone who was black was in third grade. My dad was going to seminary in Dayton, Ohio where being white was a minority. We lived about three hours away in lily-white farm country where the churches still had big organs and dusty hymnals. Dad took us for a visit and I met one of his best friends, Walter. This man amazed me, and I’d sit for hours having theological discussions with him. I could feel God’s work overflowing from his heart and knew he was going to leave that seminary and go on and do great things.

What my Dad hadn’t told me and my brother (and probably mom) in advance? Walter was black. Dad, you gave me an incredible gift right there on that day. You didn’t tell me what lines to draw in my sandbox. You let me and my innocent 9-year-old heart decide how to act in God’s love. And you told me time and again from there out how God made us each different and unique and that you’d love me no matter who I chose to love. You let me decide what to do in my sandbox, and I thank you.

My stories of getting to know people who are different (whether race, faith, love, etc) could go on for days. I’m so thankful God opened my eyes to love as he does, to love people right where they are and that there is not just one right way to be. Even when I’m hearing opposition about the person I chose to love. Even when I’m watching other moms like me wonder if their brown sons and daughters will come home. Even then. Because my faith and love are so much bigger than my fears.

Remember, you can grab our own copy of this book here

20. The Lie: I Need a Hero

8 years ago, I was at my heaviest weight. I never really had a strong desire to do anything about it, but being pregnant at 300 pounds and not getting gestational diabetes spoke to me. I needed to get healthy for my kids. I needed to be their hero.

Throughout this journey of weight loss and running, I’ve done it all for me and for them. I look back at the changes and sacrifices I’ve made and never once did I wish that someone else would change with or for me. I knew that I had to do it all myself. Those miles. Those dietary changes. That was all me and my choice.

These eight years have been somewhat of a roller coaster, but it’s not one I’m ready to jump off. While I don’t think anyone needs a hero to swoop in and do it for them (because they can’t), I want to be that person that people look to and say, “if Becky can do it, why can’t I?”.

That’s not to be egotistical. I’m as competitive as the next runner, but I know that I am only competing against myself. Everyone has their journey, but if we can inspire each other along the way, let’s do that. I know I have plenty of people I look to when I’m having days where a Diet Pepsi looks so refreshing and I forget that I’ve gone 19 months without one. They aren’t going to fix that craving for me, but they’re going to make me remember why I started this journey.

What’s Next?

There are so many more thoughts I have on this book, and thoughts I have on life in general. One thing became abundantly clear to me while listening – I have goals to write and I need to be over here and there writing more than I have been. Hold me to this, friends. And even if you don’t make it back here, know that I’ll be writing. xoxo