Author Archives: Kristin

About Kristin

I blog in my little corner of the www here in SW MN. I used to journal as a young girl and ever since I first heard about blogging I have been hooked! Thanks for stopping by and sharing with my journey of faith!

What’s Seen and What’s Unseen

We had a busy weekend. I spent my Saturday doing more laundry than I thought was possible in a day. I washed blankets and sheets until the hot water ran out! I spent time in both Karlena and Elijah’s room helping them clean and organize their spaces.

I don’t know about your kids, but clutter happens quickly in my home and things escalate and pretty soon there are piles everywhere and their rooms are a disaster. The aftermath of Christmas had exploded in their spaces and something needed to be done.

So we sorted and threw away and donated and found the floor again! It was a beautiful thing. I almost took a picture of it and then decided not to. It is easy for me to take a carefully crafted picture of how tidy my space or my life looks and share it with the world.

It is a lot harder to share those places that I would rather remain hidden.

Thus the reason for choosing to share a picture of our horrific “craft closet” space instead. The picture above doesn’t even do the full space justice. I couldn’t capture the entire mess in one shot. It is BAD.

This closet is a large walk-in closet that is in Elijah’s room. Last year we converted it into a craft space, a place where the kids could go and create and make a mess. It has the worst, oldest carpet in it…so I am the least worried about this area getting destroyed over other spaces in our home. But as you can see, things have gotten out of control in here.

I can, for the most part, close the door and ignore what is happening in here if I want. But the reality is unless I am willing to get in there and work through the mess….the clutter will remain.

Several weeks ago we had our new Pastor’s kids over to our house for a few hours. Their kids were hanging out with our kids and in preparation our kids had cleaned their rooms (as best as they were able) and I had straightened up the main living spaces that I thought might be seen. Again thinking that all those places we didn’t want “exposed” to our new neighbors/friends…we could easily hide away.

When our pastor came back to get his kids I said to Dominic “don’t take him on a tour of the entire house…especially not the basement.” I had this fear that he might do this and knew that I would be HORRIFIED if these people, who were new to our family, were allowed to see the real us.

Sure enough a full on tour ensued. Dominic said, “my wife told me not to do this, but….” All I could do was shake my head and laugh. Of course this was happening. You see I am THAT person. The one that wants to look like it is all good on the outside when inside my “mess” is out of control.

And exposing others to who I really am is risky. What if I am rejected. Isn’t that the age old fear? Putting ourselves out there and then being judged as not worthy?

But this weekend I was again reminded that community is SO important. And community with people who will love you in your mess, even more so. I need to be able to not be “fine” when I am not fine.

Life is HARD. I bet if you searched the pages of this blog you would find I said that very statement time and time again. It hasn’t gotten any easier. The Bible even promises that we will have trouble, why are we always so surprised by it?!

So knowing that this is going to be a world full of difficulties, how do we want to walk through this life? I personally need to be surrounded by people who will let me be real. Who will hold me accountable for those things that need to be addressed and will reassure me that my worth is more than my darkest closet secrets.

Of course there are things that I would rather you not know. Like the fact that I lost my temper this morning at my youngest son. He was being disrespectful and rude and it made me so angry. Instead of being an adult. Instead of pausing and praying for even a small measure of peace before I reacted I just did what I always do when I am faced with disrespect and I got mad.

It was an AWFUL way to start my morning and even worse, his. Fortunately I was able to pull it together before he had to go to school and I apologized to him. I told him that he was a lot like me. I told him that I HATED having to take responsibility for myself when I was wrong…especially when it came to disagreements with Dominic. I myself fought saying I was sorry and I told him that it was something that I too needed grace for and needed to be better at.

As he got out of the car to go to school I reminded him how much I loved him, but my heart hurt over the unnecessary damage that I caused only moments before. You see I will share the pretty Bible quotes and memes and do my best to be an encouragement to someone else, but the reality is my heart inside is yucky. I am in desperate need of a Savior every day. Every moment.

I know we all have these moments, these parenting “fails” and I am not going to wallow in self-pity over my mistakes. But it is important that we are willing to be honest about those areas where we struggle, to remain accountable to others and to praise God when we see small changes and victories that are a direct result of His work in our lives. I know that I have so much growing to do, but today I am willing and able to be more honest about my messes than I was even a few years ago. That is a praise!

We don’t have to be ashamed about those areas where we struggle. We can see them as opportunities for God to work in and through us.

My hope is that I can be an encouragement here, to show you that I don’t have it all together and while I am not super thrilled about sharing my messes with the world…I am committed to walking the road of transparency. God continues to use my junk and transform it into something beautiful.

It is incredible to me that God does this. That a holy, righteous, perfect God could use us in our messes to share His hope and light with a dark world. I have made so many mistakes in my life. And yet His unending grace and abounding love is available to me. I just am so so grateful – how can we not share that?!

Fixing My Eyes on Jesus

It is an interesting thing this life. The start of a new year brings the opportunity to pause and reflect, to have hope for the coming days.

I shared last week that because of some bad choices, after what was an incredibly difficult year….I chose to embark on a discretionary spending freeze for the first quarter of 2019.

I wanted to take some time and not only look at establishing a budget and an understanding of where our money goes each month, but I also wanted to get at the root cause of why it is that when I feel bad (or sad, angry, hurt, frustrated etc.) that my impulse response tends to be to do something to make myself feel better and that “something” for me has been buying things.

It is humbling being confronted with your sin. Let me be clear here too…for me, spending in this way, as an emotional response without pausing, without going to God, has become a sin in my life. It has become something that I have done in secret, I have hidden it from my husband, I have justified my actions. THAT makes it a sin for me.

So I knew that sin nature needed to be addressed. I also knew that in making a public admission of my faults and my intentions for this quarter, put me at risk for enemy attacks. We are only 8 days in and it has come as no surprise that these first several days have been filled with difficulty.

I have taken some proactive steps and started a spreadsheet to start tracking our monthly budget. I admittedly have no idea how much we spend each month on things like groceries and household items. We use Amazon subscribe and save for many things, which is handy and convenient, but when the bill comes at the end of the month I just pay it. I haven’t ever realized where the products purchased were being used, in regards to a budget.

Tracking those things is a start. Making a list of those required monthly bills was also important. As business owners, we have monthly expenses that come each month for the business as well as expenses that come each month for our personal family. Listing them all out so we could see them was good for us.

I also took some time to start cleaning out various spaces in our home. My closet was the first place to start. I was humbled (and horrified) to find several gifts that I had purchased for Karlena and Elijah, some maybe even 3 years ago, that I had never given them. Buying in advance can have its advantages, but when the gift goes ungiven in your closet for years….that is a waste. I will find a place to donate these, but it was another eye opener as to why this process is so important for me.

And then today I got a call. It was a call I didn’t want to get and honestly came on an “anniversary” date that carries with it a lot of heartache. I am absolutely broken for this loved one and this enemy attack feels like a personal one. And quite honestly I am ticked. I am angry that these difficulties have to come. As a fixer, I just want to make things better. And as much as I want to, I honestly can’t fix this.

I remember the desperation I felt last year, the worry and anxiety and hopelessness. I have been reading the book “It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way” by Lysa Terkeurst. It has been such a gift to me, speaking to me in advance of this moment today. She says this, “Every time we face anything that causes us to cry out to God, let’s declare that this hard time will be a holy time, a close-to-God time.”

So that is what I am doing. I read through 2 Corinthians 4:8-18 this morning (I am sharing it below) and it speaks such hope to us. I don’t have to like trials that come at me or those I love, but I am not without hope because of who Christ is in me. I am trying to pray that God would just be present and not pray MY will in this situation. Trusting that God knows the best outcome and that no matter what God will not abandon us. I am holding on to that today.

My response in hard times has been to run out and get something to make myself feel better. Today I am going to seek to find my peace and contentment in prayer and praise of who God is. All I have is Christ….


2 Corinthians 4:8-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

13 But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”[a] 14 We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus,[b] will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 15 All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[c] being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

A Fresh Start

The last time I sat down to write on the pages of this blog was almost a year ago. There were many times throughout 2018 that I wanted to come here, to share my heart…but the reality was I often found myself unable to adequately express exactly what I was going through.

Some of the stories are not mine to share. I think there may be a time that God will use those stories for His purposes, and maybe I will have a part in sharing them. But for now I can just say that going through this past year was painful in many ways. I leave the year changed. I spent more time in desperate prayer than ever before. I saw God answer prayers in ways I hadn’t expected and felt that He was stretching me in ways that made me very uncomfortable.

I am grateful for my family, especially my husband who was that strong tower that I needed multiple times. I am also thankful for two of my best friends who with the wonders of Voxer encouraged me and prayed for me daily. Each of us had our own unique struggles this past year and their voices cheering me on every day were a lifeline for me.

But I walked away from 2018 with some “baggage.” And I started to feel very convicted that the causes and conditions related to that baggage needed to be addressed. You see I am a pretty emotional person. I shared this on FB recently “I am a “feelings” person. I feel big and love big but it also means I get angry big and resent big and get sad big. There is always a good with the bad it seems.”

When I am not addressing my feelings in a healthy way I start to make poor, emotional choices. I made a LOT of those choices this year and mostly in the way of my spending. It is hard for me to admit that, but it is true.

A little backstory for you…when Dominic and I got married we were broke. Just all the time broke. We lived paycheck to paycheck and our parents always had to help us and we just never seemed to get it together. Early on I racked up some credit card debt, mostly due to necessity items like food and diapers we needed, but I only ever made the minimum payments on those cards. (I know OUCH!) I cringe now realizing how much in interest we must have paid over the years.

Tax return time would come and instead of saving the money, that was the one time we could buy something big…and often we did. We spent years making very poor financial decisions. I even worked for a bank during some of those years and it wasn’t until I was there a few years that we started to see the value in contributing to a 401k and paying off debt each month. So many mistakes!

When we moved to MN we were in a better financial position than we ever had been. We were finally able to start giving to our church a little, being charitable was something I always wanted to do…but never seemed to be able to manage. We left SD with no debt except our house, cars and some student loans and had a plan to work at those.

Many of you know our story, what we thought God brought us to MN for ended in a way we had not expected and we faced the reality that we might lose everything. But Dominic trusted God’s calling/leading and started his own business…and now we do this thing together. God has blessed this business from day one and I am forever grateful. But sometimes I take that for granted.

I think I have gotten in a habit of justifying my actions. I love to be generous and now we can be and that brings me such JOY. But when I use that as a reason to justify spending on things for myself (or my kids) that we really don’t need….well that isn’t right. {Like we gave big to XYZ Charity…so now it is ok if I want to buy this sweater for myself right?!}

And that is where I have found myself this year.

I have always been the one that handles our checkbook. I balance the books at the office and manage all the bills etc. at home. A few weeks ago Dominic and I were talking and he made some comment about that he trusted me and how I managed things and that if I bought myself something from time to time it didn’t bother him.

But you see, his words of trust..they bothered me. I was super convicted and called my best friend to share that something had to change. She and I had done a 40 day fast a few years prior before Easter and “fasted” on spending on clothing for ourselves. I thought maybe I should do that again.

She came back with something even more challenging. “I think we need to fast from all discretionary spending for the first quarter of 2019.” UGH. And she told me that I needed to return something that I had purchased on impulse the day prior. She said if I was serious…it was the right first step.

I knew she was right and so the next day I made that return. I canceled a recurring monthly subscription I had that I didn’t really need. And I unsubscribed from about 30 emails from retailers that bombard my inbox each day with their best sales and offers. Too tempting for me!

Even though I could have spent prior to the New Year, I really didn’t. I was thoughtful about each purchase I made. Was this something we needed, or something we wanted? I told the kids no more Minecraft mod downloads, or movie purchases for a while. It has become too easy to say yes and not even think about it. It may only be a couple of dollars…but is it necessary? And will they ever learn to respect finances well if I am always saying yes?!

And then I had the hardest conversation of them all. I shared the challenge with Dominic. You see, not telling him about where I spend our money has become second nature. I don’t discuss purchases with him, or ask permission, and as a result I have given myself WAY too much leeway. I am not accountable to anyone and that has led to poor choices.

And even more truth for you….I really just wanted to get through the 3 months and not tell Dominic what I was doing and then proudly show him how great I did. But the reality was keeping it a secret would just make secrets later easier too.

So I am coming here and being way too honest, to remain accountable and to maybe encourage someone else who might be struggling in the same area. Buying new things isn’t bad. I love to treat my kids and I am always looking for great deals. Most of what I do purchase is with a fantastic deal. But they aren’t always necessary purchases.

My friend and I talked about how we both want to be able to be more generous in our giving, and to save for more experiences with our kids. Being thoughtful about our spending helps reset our view on what matters most and where we want to use our money. How can we best honor God with our finances?

I know this will be a challenge for me. But I believe that God is leading me down a path to learn more about Him in this process. My prayer is that He will continue to refine me so that my choices going forward will bring Him glory.

Discovering Who I Am

It is my 43rd birthday today. A few years ago that age may have freaked me out. When I turned 40 my dearest friends surprised me with a getaway weekend and the transition into what felt like would be a tough life change was made beautiful. Yes I am aging but I am finally coming to that place that I am ok with who I am.

The last several years have been ones of extreme changes. 2015 into 2016 were, admittedly some of the most difficult days emotionally that I had walked through. I was a woman that really struggled with being perfect. Some days it can still rear its ugly head, don’t get me wrong….but in those days it was BAD.

I spent all my time worrying about what people thought and trying desperately to keep up appearances so that I looked like I had it all together. I would go to church on Sunday all prettied up and smile at people and talk about how great God was and then come home and be a monster to my husband and my kids. I was angry and bitter and broken inside and I basically wanted to run away from my life.

I believed in God, I believed that He could redeem and restore my broken pieces but I was also so stuck in myself, so full of pride that I was unwilling to admit that my attitudes were a huge part of the problems we were having. I fought seeing a counselor, but when I did things started to change.

It was a sacrifice I had to make. Weekly I drove almost an hour and 1/2 to meet with the Christian counselor that had been recommended to me. We talked about a lot of different things and I did a bunch of recommended reading. I had to deal with some things that were really painful and let go of other things that could not be “fixed” at that time.

I found a freedom during those 12+ months. As I began to be more honest about what was going on, things inside of me started to change. My circumstances had not necessarily changed, but I was able to see them with a fresh perspective. I share this because we all have things that we may feel ashamed of. Things that threaten to hold us down, tell us that we are not good enough.

But one thing that I have learned deep in my soul is that I don’t need to be “good enough.” God has always been there for me, standing in the gap when I am too weak, lifting me up when I am not strong. He gives me strength to keep going and a passion to encourage others who may be feeling the same.

A few weeks ago a couple of my girlfriends and I went to see The Greatest Showman at the local movie theatre. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet – go today. Make it my birthday present to you. Seriously it is a must see! We left the show and I immediately bought the soundtrack to have on my phone. Like so many, one song, in particular, has spoken volumes to me.

The words to This is Me go like this…

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

 

Who can’t relate to those words? How often do we feel like we can’t present our broken, bruised selves to the world. Because if we do we will be judged. People may talk about us or cast us aside. How often as an adult have I felt like I was right back in middle school? Worried about what I said, or analyzing what someone else said…trying to put on appearances because gosh darnit I just want people to like me.

But as This is Me suggests, we don’t have to be afraid anymore. We are warriors. Yes we are broken and bruised but we are strong and we don’t have to apologize for not being perfect. This is a truth that I have learned slowly over the past few years. It is one that I have grown into but it feels good.

To finally be in that place where I feel happy with who I am. I am 43, I am aging. I am a wife and a mother. I make mistakes all the time but I am loved. I am a child of God and I am forgiven. I am learning what makes me laugh and discovering deep friendships that are the true gifts during this time in my life. I will probably always take a shower and put on makeup before I go outside. I am vain yep, absolutely. I work hard at our business and care about the clients we help, I have a heart of mercy and would probably donate to every tear-jerking cause I come across if I was able. I can be passionate and outspoken and also quite shy. I will share my heart with those I trust and have difficulty trusting again those who have betrayed me. I am a sinner saved by grace, sometimes that grace is needed minute by minute. I trust God with my life and believe He has given me freedom in areas where I suffered extreme bondage. I am ever grateful to be His daughter. This is me.

The You Tube video below was shared on FB by a friend of mine with the backstory that when Keala Settle showed up to perform this when they were trying to get the show funded, she believed that she would not get the part…that it would be cast by someone more famous than she. But after she sang her heart out below, after she got out from behind that stand and stepped into the center and sang her heart out…the producer came over and hired her on the spot. I love that don’t you? Step out, start discovering who you are…stop being afraid of being judged and just be you!

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Link to video

Photo Credit: via

My Hysterectomy Surgery – Part Three

Hello friends! I thought I would do a quick update for you on my surgery recovery since I am now {almost} at the 4-week mark! If you want to catch up on my past posts you can read here about Part 1 and Part 2.

So it has been a couple of weeks since I shared an update and it is mostly because there wasn’t much to report. I felt pretty normal during the days but fairly tired by dinner time. I was so grateful to have all of those freezer meals prepped because I am usually to tired to think about cooking once I get home from work. We did have 1 night in 2 weeks that I was exhausted and Dominic was working late and I didn’t have a meal thawed, so the kids did cereal and fried eggs. But in 4 weeks we haven’t done too bad!

I hadn’t started exercising yet, I was waiting for my follow up appointment to get the all-clear for that, and I was afraid that even 20 minutes of hard walking on the elliptical might wear me out too much….so I gave myself grace to let that go for now.

I saw my doctor yesterday for my 4-week visit and got the good news that everything is healing even better than she expected at this point! I still have 2 more weeks of all the typical restrictions, no lifting over 15-20lbs, no hard exercise (light, slow walking only – no resistance) etc. But it was nice to know that everything was healing as planned. I am so grateful that I didn’t have any issues.

When I first decided to consider this surgery I found a website called HysterSisters. It is a website that offers information, forums etc. for women going through this process. You “join” by entering your email address and anticipated surgery date and then each week I would get an email with links to information about what to expect either before the surgery (how to plan, prep for it) and then after the surgery. Other women share their experience and offer support and encouragement.

One thing I had to be careful about, and would caution anyone else considering this, is that every woman is different. Every case and doctor and treatment plan is different. Some of the experiences I read about could have filled me with fear. Not every surgery goes as well as mine did. Many women have experienced difficult recoveries and complications. I will say that I didn’t allow myself to read too many of the negative stories because I know how fearful I am prone to get. I said it before that I felt such a peace about this surgery the entire time. I decided to trust God with this surgery and stopped researching all the what-ifs.

I guess the bottom line is, pray about it, seek counsel from your doctor (I really trust mine!) and make the decision that is best for you!

My surgery notes say that my uterus was enlarged and sharply retroverted, something I shared in a previous post that my doctor commented on, saying she hadn’t seen one that twisted. Several of the symptoms that come with having a retroverted uterus are issues that I dealt with for YEARS. I didn’t know it was likely the cause of so many of my problems. I don’t know when the uterus became so retroverted, it can happen with pregnancy, as a result of endometriosis (which I have had) or it can be genetic!

In addition, my doctor shared that my pathology report showed several fibroids (which I didn’t know were there!), all benign thankfully, but that she believed would have continued to cause me problems in the next several years. All those issues have been removed. No cancer risk, no fibroids, no pain caused from the retroverted uterus. And because my one ovary looked very healthy and remains intact, no hormones and hopefully a typical transition into menopause when that time comes.

I know that my story may not be typical. My doctor said I was the perfect candidate for a vaginal hysterectomy. And everything went as planned and I am so grateful for that. I hope these posts have been helpful for anyone considering this type of surgery. Again if you have any questions please feel free to email me at kasmith03@gmail.com and I would be glad to answer them!

Happy Wednesday!

Waiting in Anticipation for What God Will Do

Last night I tried to capture the beauty of the sunset. What I saw on my drive home and what I was able to capture with my phone just minutes later was not what I was hoping for. I shared the image on FB with the following caption…

“I had to trudge through melted dirty snow and dog poop in my backyard to try and take this picture. In the end it didn’t turn out like I was hoping. You can’t quite see the beauty of the cotton candy pink skies that I was trying to capture.The big, barren trees are blocking my view. It’s there, I saw it on my drive home but it eluded me. Isn’t that a lot like life? Those times when we struggle to see the beauty because of all the Brokenness in front of us…. when we trudge through the crap of life. Those times when it’s difficult to see the light because the darkness is so overwhelming.

Today I am certain of two things. 1. The enemy has come to seek, kill and destroy and he wants to see people hurt and families crushed, he wants shame to rule and Truth to be buried. 2. My God has already won! It doesn’t matter how dark it seems, His light will always shine in the darkness. He is never more present than in those moments when it seems He is far away. He will never leave us or forsake us.

The sky reminded me tonight that His light has overcome any darkness the enemy may try to put on my path or on the path of those I love. No it will not always be easy, sometimes it is downright hard. But I have more hope in this momemt than I have in a long time. God is good. All the time, He is good.”

I have commented before that I am a negative person by nature. It is much easier for me to see what is wrong with a situation well before I can see what is right. I have a tendency to get bogged down in worry and what-ifs. Fear has long kept me in bondage.

But it isn’t a place I can afford to live right now and quite frankly I am tired of it and I am saying no more!

A few days ago I saw a post shared around FB about a young woman, I think from Australia, who was dying of cancer. She wrote a challenging piece about how we all need to stop complaining, stop getting upset over the little things and start enjoying life. As a woman who was facing her last days she knew full well all she was going to miss out on, all the things she wished she had not done and the things she would do differently.

It challenged me. How often do I find myself complaining about little annoyances? My kids do it too. Yesterday morning one of my kids had a boot that kept slipping off their foot. I get why it was bothering them but it was threatening to ruin their whole morning and it was ridiculous!

So I shared a little with that about what this woman had to say. How we have SO MUCH to be grateful for. We have a warm home filled with so much stuff, they have their every want met. They do not go hungry, we are warm and full and happy. But it is a choice! Life isn’t fair. There will always be someone who has it better, easier. There will be times that things happen that are cruel and not right. Sometimes we don’t have a choice in what happens to us, but we do have a choice on how we respond!

Trust me, it is easy to say these things when life is going along perfectly. It isn’t so easy to walk that walk when the road is hard. I know because we are walking it. There are some things that are really hard for us right now, not fair things, discouraging, worrisome things. I could start comparing our situation to other families’ and saying how unfair it is. Or I can start counting my blessings.

I can’t afford to do anything but count my blessings. I have no idea what will happen in the coming months but for once in my life, I am not filled with fear. Instead, I am waiting in anticipation of what God will do.

God has done some pretty amazing things in our past. He has restored and redeemed some incredibly broken places in our lives and made them whole. Some may say that our lives and our marriage are a miracle….I would agree with that. God is in the business of redeeming our broken places. I believe that for me, and for my family….and I believe it for you too.

I don’t know what you might be facing today, what hurt or fear or worry that is weighing you down. It is easy to run away, easy to believe in lies, to be consumed with shame instead of His Truth. Sometimes fighting to see Truth is the hardest thing we can do. But it is there. And so in those moments where I am uncertain about what is next, I will trust my God and wait in anticipation for what He will do. I have seen what He is capable of and it is pretty incredible. Don’t miss out on the miracle friends!!

My Hysterectomy Surgery – Part Two

Hello friends! I am back again with part two of my surgery and recovery story. And first can I just mention the beautiful flowers pictured above?! My sweet grandma sent those to me on Friday to brighten my day and it was such a nice surprise!

So I shared about my surgery and the first few days in the hospital, now I thought I would share a little more about my recovery at home. It is funny because as I sit here now over a week later and try to think about what I have done it feels like a lot of nothing! I suppose that was to be expected though.

For those that don’t want the TMI details you can stop reading now…but I said I would be honest about my experience, so here goes. I have given birth vaginally 4 times. I remember what it was like those first few days recovering. I remember sitting on ice packs because everything down there was so swollen. Going into this procedure and knowing that everything was being done vaginally, I honestly expected the same kind of response. But this was not the case.

One of the things the Dr. warned me about that I didn’t fully understand was that with this type of procedure people often feel too good too soon and then over do it. I woke up and besides the terrible cramping in my abdomen, I had no other physical symptoms of having had surgery. No swelling, no pain – nothing. Because there are no outside stitches, one may not even know that I have just had a major surgery.

The cramping was deep inside my stomach/abdomen and felt a lot like labor pains. When my Dr. stopped to check on me we asked about it. Why would I have cramping pain in what felt like my uterus when it was gone? She said that there is a lot of connective tissue that had to be separated from around the uterus to remove it. The pain I was feeling was likely the brain sending signals down to those nerve receptors, just like it does in labor. So it was like the phantom pain that someone who has lost a limb often experiences. Crazy right?!

So for the first few days I did need to use the pain meds almost every 4 hours or so. I don’t like the side effects of using narcotics (constipation) but tylenol wouldn’t cut it for the pain. I spent the first few days mostly on the couch watching Netflix and sleeping. It is tough for me to stay so still. I can get bored pretty easily. But even just taking a shower was exhausting.

I think that is the part of recovery that has surprised me the most. How incredibly tired I am. I didn’t lose a ton of blood so I guess I don’t understand why I feel so drained. Someone explain it to me please?! My doctor said that my recovery would be a lot of walking and then resting, walking and then resting. And she was right. I can handle small tasks for a short time. I can walk for a little bit but then I have to rest for what seems like even longer.

I begged Dominic to take me to Walmart to get groceries one day (I just wanted out of the house) and he said he didn’t think I was ready and took the kids instead. He was right – that day it would have been too much. Three days later I did get a short trip to the store because I needed an extra pair of comfy pants and that 30 minutes was enough to land me on the couch for over an hour. It felt good to walk a little and then it felt really good to rest. If you are having this procedure done don’t push it. It is hard for me to do too, but I can see why so many people tell me to take it easy!!

I have about three different areas that I spend most of my time. Our bedroom and then two different couches in two rooms. One of the best things I did was purchase this Heating pad/neckwrap set from Amazon. I have the heating pad on our bed and the neck wrap on one of the couches. Having a heating pad over my stomach has really helped with the pain and it keeps me warm too! On the other couch I have a heated blanket that I use. Not having to move these from space to space has been really nice. The set from Amazon is unavailable right now, but I believe I paid $40 for the set, best money I have ever spent.

For the first several days I didn’t have much of an appetite. And the only thing that tasted good to me was fruit. Thankfully Dominic went to the store and picked up several different kids of {highly overpriced} fruit for me. Everyone responds differently to surgery and medicines etc. So my diet has consisted of a lot of toast and fruit and small meals. I don’t have my full appetite back yet.

Thankfully I had several weeks to prepare prior to my surgery and I made a bunch of freezer meals in advance. I think I had 11 pre-made and today we are using our second one. The first one was jumbo stuffed shells and it provided at least two meals. It will be nice as I have to start working again to be able to come home and have a meal to throw in the oven when I get the kids from school and it will be ready by dinnertime. If you can prep ahead I recommend it! I think as I try and get back to a semi-normal routine I am going to be exhausted by the end of the day and cooking dinner will be the last thing I would want to do. Having pre-made meals ready will be perfect!

I think that is all I have to share this round – as I get into the full second week of recovery I will come back and share more details again. I don’t see my Dr. for a follow up visit until January 23rd so at almost the 4 week post surgery mark. I will be interested to hear how everything is healing because I really can’t feel anything at all!! Again feel free to comment/message me with any questions you have and I will do my best to answer them!!

My Hysterectomy Surgery – Part One

Hello friends! I wanted to start by thanking everyone for their prayers. My surgery is over and I am now home. Today it has been over a week since my surgery and I thought that I would sit down and try and write out some of the details of my surgery and recovery. Like some of my prior procedures, I have found that sharing honestly about my experience might be helpful for someone else who is planning on or considering a similar procedure. So if you do have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me and I will answer any questions you have!

My surgery was scheduled to start around 11:45 am on Thursday the 28th. We had to be at the hospital 2 hours early, and our drive to the hospital takes 2 hours so we left the house right away in the morning. We got checked in and they brought us back to a surgery prep room. I changed into a gown and then they put this awesome heated air blanket over me. It was glorious. Apparently there are studies that have found that  patients that are warmed before, during and after surgery have less chance of infection. I am always freezing so this blanket was wonderful! We waited and waited and then found out that my surgeon had been delayed at another hospital that morning and had another surgery before mine…so my surgery didn’t start until almost 1:30pm. The worst part about waiting was that I was SO HUNGRY because I was unable to eat after midnight.

I was having a vaginal hysterectomy. Thankfully everything was able to be done vaginally and my Dr. didn’t have to use a scope to assist, which saved my belly from being blown up with gas. In the past, that has caused me the most discomfort, so I was grateful that she wasn’t needing to use that method. Prior to the surgery I googled and watched a vag. hyst. surgery on You Tube. I know that probably seems weird, but I wanted to have an idea of what was happening to me. I always felt at peace about having the surgery done. I wasn’t worried about it and knew that medically speaking it was the right choice for me. I will share how my Dr. confirmed that for me later.

I have a history of getting really nauseous from the  anesthesia, so we had a plan in place to use the same meds that had worked during my October procedure for this one. Unfortunately the several hours after my surgery are completely lost to me. I am not sure what happened this time but I remember getting on the table in the operating room around 1:30 pm and then next time I was aware of time was after 8 pm that evening. I have no memory of getting to recovery, or my hospital room or the multiple hours into the evening after that.

I do remember waking up in incredible pain and being SO TIRED. I could not stay awake. I remember hearing the nurses ask Dominic if my reaction was typical after a surgery. They had me hooked up to a pain pump of Dilaudid. It gave me a pump of meds on a scheduled time, but I also had a pump that I could use to give myself an extra shot of meds if I needed it. I would use the meds and I was still in such terrible pain. I would wake up writhing in pain and fall back asleep and repeat. Finally I was awake enough that they were able to ask me if I could stay awake to try a pain pill of a different medicine and they would shut off the dilaudid. Apparently some people can have very negative reactions to that medicine and I guess I am that person! It did not bring me to a fun happy place! Once I was given a new medicine and it kicked in, everything changed. The pain was much more manageable. It wasn’t great, but it was manageable.

Interesting fun fact, I came home with rug-burn like sore spots on both of my elbows. I don’t know how I got them, except that in those first hours I must have been using my elbows to move myself and put so much pressure on them that I hurt them enough to rub them so raw that they eventually scabbed over! Ouch!!

I can’t speak highly enough of the nursing staff that helped me during my stay. I always try to be so grateful for everything that they do. I am sure that first several hours were difficult for them as they tried to figure out how to deal with my pain.

My Dr stopped in at some point, I couldn’t even tell you what day that was! She said that the surgery went just as expected. She was able to leave my one ovary so I will not have to be on hormones at this point. She said the ovary looked perfect so that was wonderful news! She removed the cervix and the uterus. She said that my uterus was “profoundly tipped.” I knew it was tipped, thus the reason I was unable to to do the in office biopsies, but she said it was almost twisted on itself. She hadn’t seen anything like that before. She said the way that it was positioned, it was no wonder I was having pain issues.

Hearing that report just reaffirmed that having this surgery was exactly what I needed to do. Not only did I remove any possible cancer risk, but hopefully any pain issues I was having should be gone once I am fully healed!

Typically with this type of surgery you only get an overnight stay. Crazy right?! I guess years ago it was 4-5 days, but with insurance these days it is now a single night. The test to be able to go home is the ability to pass gas. Again doesn’t this seem crazy to you?! It isn’t how your pain is managed, or if you can move around well etc…no if you can pass gas you go home. I don’t know if it was all the pain med mishap or if my digestive system is just slower than normal, but I wasn’t producing “results” like they needed so we ended up staying a second night at the hospital.

Honestly I was so grateful for this because the difference that I felt the evening I should have gone home and the next morning was so much different. The next morning I woke up and felt ready to take a shower and walk around a bit. So we were able to get checked out after the Dr. stopped by later that morning and were back in Marshall before dinner time.

I have lots more I want to share about my first few days at home, and some of the things that have been so helpful to me but this post has gotten SO LONG already!! So I will come back in a day or two and share some more then! Again, if you are considering this type of surgery please feel free to reach out. Everyone will have a different experience, but it was helpful for me in the beginning to be able to read a couple of first hand reports.

2017 Year in Review!

I can’t believe that the end of the year is almost here! Since I am having a major surgery tomorrow afternoon and will probably be a little out of it for several days, I thought that I would share some thoughts about the year today!

Last year at this time we were wrapping things up and planning our escape to Tybee Island in January. While it was colder than normal the few days we were there, it was such fun to get away together as a couple and explore a part of the country that we hadn’t ever been to before! We really enjoyed exploring Savannah, GA and hearing the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach from our VRBO rental! We came home with full hearts and lots of lovely shells too!

In February we took some extra time to love on one another. I had seen someone else share on FB that they were going to do a  week of daily affirmations for their kids. So I ordered these foam hearts and every morning the kids came down to search for their newest heart. It was fun seeing them light up at the truths we were speaking into their lives. {I should do it more often I think!!} On Valentine’s Day our Elijah had a CRAZY situation happen where our dog knocked out not one, but two of his loose teeth! You can read all about my warrior boy here!!

In April our daughter made a very important decision and asked Jesus to be the Savior in her life. It was a special moment that Dominic was able to walk her through and we are all so proud of her. It is my hope that all of my kids would grow to have a deep relationship with God, and while we can’t force that, we do pray for them and do our best to show them how it looks in our own lives!

The rest of April and May ran together as I worked on a secret project that would become a gift for my mother and grandmother for Mother’s Day. A friend from church helped me to publish a large number of my old blog posts into a book format so that I could give them something to hold and read! It was really fun to do and exciting to have so much of my writing in one place!

In late May we anxiously awaited the end of the school year and I got to help plan for one of my favorite weeks of the year – VBS!! We always have fun doing the decorations and then I also help to lead the worship time and it is just a joy every year!

Oddly enough, I didn’t write a single blog post in the entire summer! Sitting down and writing at the computer just didn’t happen. Life did, that’s for sure but I didn’t document it here well. We did take a trip up to Northern MN in late June and loved exploring the beautiful country there!


We became die-hard agate hunters and had to fight Elijah for the best ones. He could spot the biggest best agates from a mile away!! Here were a couple of my biggest and best ones! It is addicting though, once you find one you want to keep looking in hopes of finding the true beauty!!

We spent a lot of time in July taking care of our garden and canning. We canned hundreds of quarts this year of tomatoes, salsa and refrigerator pickles!

We bought an outdoor cast-iron stove that has made the process so easy, we set everything up in the garage and then we don’t have to make a mess in the house!

In July/August we started a little home renovation project. We did work in two of our bathrooms and our kitchen and laundry room. We did a lot of the initial demolition ourselves to save on costs a bit and joked that a family that reno’s together, stays together!

In September I saw my doctor because I was having some issues and discovered that there was a cyst on my only ovary that was concerning. It was a scary few weeks as we waited for the surgery in early October. While the chance of cancer was only 30%, I found that I had a lot to learn about my faith during that time of waiting. Thankfully everything came back negative from that scare.

October 3rd was my surgery and my recovery was hard on me. I don’t rest well and found myself on quite the pity pot. It makes me chuckle now as I am hours away from a more serious surgery and one that will keep me even more “at rest.” We will see how this goes!

For those that don’t know, I am now having a total hysterectomy. During the surgery in October a D&C was done of the lining of my uterus and the results of that showed that I have pre-hyperplasia. While now it is not something I have to be super worried about, it could become something later if left unchecked. The only way to check is by doing a biopsy…which due to the way my uterus is tipped, is impossible in office and would require surgery each time. Having the hyst. removes any possible future cancer risk there and because I will be able to keep my one remaining ovary, I won’t be put into menopause early. So I have really felt at complete peace over this decision.

I have 11 freezer meals prepped and frozen and know that my family will take good care of me!

Right before Christmas, I had the fun opportunity to take a trip with Karlena to Houston to visit my best friend Gindi. It was such a gift to get away even for a few days and to laugh and see our girls connect. I can’t tell you how much I needed that before the end of this year!!

Christmas with both of our families went by too quickly and I didn’t take a single family picture. Every year I think I will stop and do it, and I forget! We had a wonderful time with both sides of our families and even if it was a fast trip, it was a blessing! We came back home to try and get a little more work done before closing down the office for a week and 1/2 for my surgery! And last night as a last hurrah, I met with some of my best friends here in Marshall for a ladies night out where we laughed and ate wonderful food! They even gifted me with some goodies to keep me warm and cozy while I recover! I am so fortunate to have good friends!!

I would so appreciate your prayers for tomorrow and will be praying for you as well as we say goodbye to 2017 and look with anticipation to what 2018 will bring!!

Calendar Photo Credit: DafneCholet

Merry Christmas from the Smiths!


“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9: 6

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! May you be filled with an understanding of the true meaning of Christmas this holiday season!

Photo Credit: Stephanie Nicole Photography



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