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The attempt to keep busy

Considering that Matt (my boyfriend) is in Jamaica for a mission’s trip, I’ve decided that unless I keep busy, I’m going to be moping around the house wishing I were with him.  Starting today, I’m not quite sure what has gotten into me but I’ve decided to start working out…again.  I go through spurts where I feel extremely motivated and ready to conquer the sit-up.  That feeling lasts for about four days and then I end up finding much more “fun” things to do instead of working out.  Normally after work, the fatigue that tag teams with my RA gets the best of me and I find myself napping on the couch.  Today, instead of that precious nap, I decided to get out the exercise ball and do some crunches.  Afterwards, I had the bright idea to ask my sister to join me in a dance workout-much more fun that working out by yourself, plus I love dancing!

We began the workout with the ever-so-classic “Sandstorm” by darude.  Then we had some nostalgia while dancing to MJ’s “The way you make me feel”, because for a while we had the Wii dancing game and we eventually got 5 stars on every song!  Lastly, we finished up the 15 minute workout with “Hey Ya” by Outkast.  We had a lot of fun and were definitely worn-out.

After that, I took a break and started “pinteresting” some ab workout ideas.  Of course that piled onto my already motivated self and I continued to do more ab exercises with the exercise ball.  Sometimes with RA, it’s extremely hard to stick with exercising because you normally don’t feel so great as it is, then to add sore muscles and worked joints on top of that equals a very miserable person.  However, today besides my right wrist, I have been feeling pretty good!  So, I took advantage of that and I believe that is truly why I was able to get such a long workout in.  Hopefully tomorrow I don’t regret all of this, and that I am not limping around.  Do me a favor and keep me accountable.  Ask me how my workout is going, that way the motivation I feel continues more than just four little days.  Thanks in advance!  Question for you: What motivates you to get fit?

Until next time, keep doing crunches!

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Posted by on March 12, 2012 in My battle with RA

 

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Tea for two

The top images are from a month or so ago, when Braden was in the nursery during church.  Jackie(one of my sister’s) and I had nursery duty and I snapped a few photos of Braden’s curiosity towards the tea set.  The bottom picture is from a few week’s ago when our new fridge was delivered.  Braden jumped right in and insisted on “helping”.  Hope you enjoyed your weekly Braden dose 🙂

(Braden is my nephew)

 
 

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Through my eyes

Well, I had another excellent day at work!  For those of you who are new, I work as Secretary at my church.  To my misfortune, I had the bright idea of changing the church signs this afternoon, which are located outside… P.S. the winds are crazy today.  Thankfully I didn’t lose any letters, but, the plexiglass window that covers the sign did bonk my head pretty hard and tried to close me in.  So glad no one drove by when that happened!  Below is a picture of my “nourishment” for the day.

Oh the weather outside is delightful!  I took advantage of this 65 degree sunny but windy day and took a walk with my mother.  Walking is such a simple and enjoyable form of exercise, especially for those with RA.  Too bad my ankle is protesting the walk.  My right elbow was also retaining some fluid this morning, but after using it to change the sign, the pain lessened!

TMNT!

Our first “reward” came in the mail!  My parents decided to use some rewards points that they earned by using their credit card, and mom chose this beautiful Crosley 5 in 1 entertainment center.

Until next time, keep walking!

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in My battle with RA

 

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Don’t you know, you’re beautiful.

Maybe it’s just me, but recently I’ve sensed the need to write about a topic that I suspect effects every single person, at some point in their life.  Actually, I know without a doubt that it does.  The belief in your beauty- feeling beautiful, and as for you men…handsome.  When I was at college, during the time when my RA was at its worst, I truly recognized how downright sickly I looked.  I was not comfortable with my body, and quite frankly my body wasn’t comfortable with me.  Losing 20 lbs without meaning to had such a negative impact on me, at the time.  It literally hurt to sit because I lost most of my cushion, AKA butt!  I didn’t feel pretty, beautiful, or stunning for that matter whenever I looked in the mirror.  I appeared gaunt, and was much more pale than I am now.  When my dad would rub my shoulders, he would always comment on how he could feel the bones.  Looking back at old pictures from that year, I shudder.

It’s important for each of us to NOT obsess over our image, though I realize that is MUCH easier said than done.  Yes, I am the first to admit that I spend plenty of wasted time on my hair and makeup each morning.  I pinch that stomach fat, spend a half hour each day using teeth whitening strips.  I do at times, but not that often, feel guilty after eating a large meal-that good home cooked meal where having second’s just seems natural.  However, despite all of that negativity, I am proud to say that I have a new approach to my self-image and respect for my body.

Often times, whenever I get discouraged over my appearance, God places something in my mind that snaps me back into reality.  I often refer to this verse found in Matthew 6:28.  “And why worry about your clothes?  Look at the lilies and how they grow.  They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you?  You have so little faith!” (NLT)  Each time I hear that verse or read it, I soak it in as if I’ve heard it for the very first time.  It speaks volumes to me.  I so often get caught up with shopping and the thrill of it all, get annoyed when a zit makes a home on the middle of my forehead(yes, I promise it’s that same spot each time), or how fit I could and should be that I forget how beautiful God has created me, and each of us to be.  I believe the verse says to me, “hey Becca…whenever you allow yourself to get so upset over your uniqueness…oh yeah, your body, remember this…when you really look at a flower, not just glance at it, but really observe a flower, it’s absolutely amazing how intricately detailed it is, and not to mention gorgeous.  If a flower is that gorgeous, then DANG you must be ten times prettier.  After all, we were made in the likeness of God”.  Just earlier this afternoon as I was cutting the stems of the flowers Matt bought me, I made a mental note to appreciate flowers more.  Funny cause I had not a clue I was going to be blogging about this topic.  And not only did I not know I was going to be blogging about this topic, I definitely had a “God moment” as I was searching for the verse I mentioned above.  Not even two hours ago, as I was cleaning my room, I found some old “17 magazines” under my dresser.  I noticed that I had written Matthew 6:28 on the corner of the magazine, but didn’t bother to look it up…until it literally presented itself to me just now, as I type this.  Someone out there needs to read this, I’m sure of it.

Why is it that we dwell upon that one negative, hurtful comment, and not the numerous kind compliments people bestow upon us?  It’s as if that one comment has the ability to completely ruin our day, and leave an unseen scar.  We often say that we don’t care what people think about us, yet find ourselves so hurt, so broken.  I have my faith, which drives me to love on others.  You may not agree or understand my beliefs, but I don’t have to prove to you that God exists, He can do that on His own.

I will leave you with this.  I may not know you personally, but I can tell you without a doubt, EACH and EVERY single person is beautiful/handsome.  Meaning, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL/HANDSOME!  Embrace the little freckles, big feet, and curly hair.  Most obviously someone may not be attractive to you, they may not have qualities that appeal to you.  But, who are we to put down others, crush their spirits with such harmful words, when we ourselves have our own imperfections?  We need to lift each other up, compliment way more often than we do, and most of all…love on others.  Not just by saying you love them, but by showing them that you do.

Until next time, make a list of all of the things you love about yourself and feel free to share them with me.  I’d love to hear how you are working on a better self-image.  I will share my list in my next post.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in My battle with RA

 

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talent and love is in the air.

Last year, on Valentine’s Day, about 3-4ish in the afternoon I was hiding in my bathroom, convinced a “killer” was in my house.  I literally climbed out of my bathroom window to escape.  No really, this is a true story, except in the end the noises I heard turned out to be the bathroom door (wood) expanding after I showered.  Oh a day in the life of Becca.  This year though, I was blessed with a beautiful bouquet of colorful flowers, delivered, with a cute note attached from Matt.  I’d say this year was more enjoyable by a ton.  However, last Valentine’s Day also happened to be the same day I had my first conversation with Matt, the night I actually met him…at McDonald’s…explaining the above story in detail.  He laughed and thought I was silly.  Good thing he didn’t think I was a lunatic.

This past weekend, Matt took me to see Aaron Gillespie sing(I mentioned this in my previous post).  We had a PERFECT night, worshiping and enjoying true talent.  There were only about 150 of us at the concert, so we had a chance to actually meet Aaron.  He couldn’t talk for to long since he had a flight to catch and because there were fans behind us waiting, but he was very kind and was more than willing to take a picture with us.

Whenever I have lots of plans, even remembering that I have RA seems to fade into the corner of my mind.  I don’t feel much pain when I am so happy with things to do.  Of course there are pains though.  Just last night, randomly my left elbow started to ache.  I was trying to bend and lift my arm and it would lock up and get stiff.  Today it seems to have gotten better.  It’s a constant roller coaster, up and down, never knowing when the next drop off hill of pain is going to attack.

I’ve really enjoyed the large amount of encouragement I have received from many of you because I am blogging.  I apologize that it’s been a little while since I’ve posted, I promise it’s only because I have been busy with many plans.

 

(THANK YOU FOR THE FLOWERS MATT!) Aren’t they gorgeous!?

Just for your information, there are only 34 days left until Spring officially starts.  The amount of giddiness I have is building because I miss seeing the sunshine and sitting outside reading!  Unfortunately, because of the medication I am on called methotrexate, I have to lather on plenty of sunscreen because I will most likely have skin sensitivity to the sun.  I used to love to lay out in my back yard and attempt to get tan-never worked because of how pathetically pale I am.  But, I can’t do that anymore…truly bums me out.

In my previous post, I featured Greg & Mary Hartman’s websites and since I know plenty of talented people, I will feature my brother Doug in this post.  Doug is 25 and he just recently moved to L.A. and lives with our older brother Ted.  Doug’s painting skills blow my mind.  I truly believe that once he gets connected with the right individuals and continues to network, he will go very far.  He would like to collaborate with Ted, because Ted is immensely artistically talented as well.  I’m telling you, everyone in my family has that talent EXCEPT me!  I know he would appreciate it if any of you would like something painted, he’s always looking for commission work(I do believe that is what it is called).

Lastly, also on the last post, I showed a preview of what my DIY Valentine’s Day gift was for Matt.  Well…TA DA…here is the final result.  He really liked it!!

Until next time, keep jumping out of bathroom windows?

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in My battle with RA

 

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The Challenge

Sometimes in life, challenges occur that inspire us to rise above them.  So with humility and a strength we didn’t know we possessed, we must accept the challenges for what they are, roll with the punches, and keep our eyes on what’s really important.  So this is me, rising above, accepting the challenge of battling a life long fight with rheumatoid arthritis.  This is my story, a combination of the raw feelings that I experience as I deal with the pains and weaknesses that try to bring me down, and the happy times when I feel like any common, healthy 20 year old.

Inspiration behind this blog:  Like so many others, I have passions that overwhelm me and inspire me to write about them.  A few of my passions include: God,  displaying love to those who mean the most to me, the ability to encourage, and music.  However, I never would have thought that a sore pinky would lead to the diagnosis that would rock my world-not in a good way.  I do not ask for or desire sympathy, I do not want you to feel sorry for me, I do not desire attention.  This is MY way of expressing my feelings about my daily struggle with a disease that does not care about who I am.  If it could talk, it would put me down, degrade me, humiliate me, but lucky for me I’m the one that does the talking.  In order to battle this disease, I have an army of faithful supporters who have my back.  A huge thanks to my family who is sensitive to my needs on my worst of days, to my friends who always offer an encouraging word of advice, to my boyfriend who is always willing to listen and care for me, but most importantly I thank God who constantly reminds me that He is ultimately in control of ALL things and will take care of me.  I truly hope you feel blessed by my blogs as I share with you details of my life that I normally keep hidden.

What exactly is rheumatoid arthritis?  Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA for short is an auto-immune disease that attacks both the good and bad cells in the immune system.  It causes inflammation/redness of the joints and surrounding tissues.  It can also attack your organs.  The cause is unknown-though many studies have been done that suggest otherwise, and unfortunately like so many other diseases and cancers, there is no cure.  There are different levels of RA, and it can arise at any age.  Normally, the older population feels the most effects from all types of arthritis, but there are those, like myself who get diagnosed at a much younger age.  (for a further explanation visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheumatoid_arthritis).

My story with RA: Thinking back, I suppose the first signs that I can remember started late 2008.  It was during Christmas, and my right pinky looked like it had been jammed-yet I had never actually done a thing to hurt my pinky.  It wasn’t until the summer of 2009 that I decided to get blood work done that would determine if I had any type of arthritis.  I remember that summer, as I was planning my college to-do list, that large joints in my body started to ache.  The kind of ache that was dull, persistent and annoying-similar to the after effects of an intense workout.  I figured it wasn’t a “big deal” and that a nice warm bath, massage, and a few lazy days would cure me of these pains.  I vividly remember being in New Orleans, in a hotel room with my friend Cassie when my cell phone rang.  It had been my mother and she told me that the blood work came back positive for having arthritis.  I can recall the tears that followed the phone call, the fear, the uneasiness as I was away from home.  Then the not so memorable times at college when my ankle would swell so you couldn’t see the ankle bone, dropping to a weight of 99 pounds, feeling as if not a single person could ever know what I was experiencing.  My knees would ache as I walked to class, I could barely carry my laptop and bag to class without being exhausted.  The times when I would take a nap after every class because I had no energy otherwise.  Feeling ill, feeling nauseous, feeling hopeless.  Flash forward to now.  Overall, my fight in 2011 was much more tolerable than 2010.  After seeing my brother become diagnosed with Lupus-another auto-immune disease within these past few months, I immediately jumped on the idea of finding a Rheumatologist for myself.  My initial appt. on Jan. 4th of this year was simply a reassurance that I was indeed correctly diagnosed with RA, but also I found out about my right wrist.  They did their normal testings and blood work, and requested that they x-ray my hands/wrists.  My right wrist, from a few years of damage is almost bone on bone.  Bone on bone means that the cartilage has been worn away, cartilage=cushion.  No wonder it hurts so bad!  My Dr. also explained that an x-ray of non-arthritic hands would display bright white finger bones, mine however in some areas looked gray-signs of weakening of the bones from RA.  My next appt. is scheduled for this Thursday, the 19th.  I believe I will be put on several different medications, and I will certainly keep you updated as I find out what my blood work has to say about my condition.

A few pictures that sum up my journey thus far with RA…

Unhappy Ankles-2009

I weighed a little over 100 lbs in this picture- June 2010

Curving fingers-July 2011

Swollen Right Knee- Jan. 2012

Comparison-Jan. 2012

Jeremiah 29:11- One of my favorite verses that means A LOT to me.

” For I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord.  “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and hope.” (NLT)

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2012 in My battle with RA

 

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