Thursday, August 30, 2018

Dates

Photo credit: Bright Beginnings Photography


Why are dates so important?  Dates make up the past, present and future for every single person on this planet. We remember birthdays, anniversarys, graduations, dates of loss (death) and to memorialize events in history.  

Do you know when you wake in the morning and for about 30 seconds everything is perfect? You are still in a fog and then suddenly your brain clicks into gear and you start processing thoughts? Today that happened to me and then it hit me...today is the anniversary of the day Seth walked for the last time.  Four years ago today, at 2:30pm our lives changed forever.  

I can remember almost every detail of that day.  I remember waking up to my phone ringing and looking at my clock (8:00am) and it was Seth telling me he was driving down from Cloud Croft to pick me up and he would see me in about 30 minutes.   I have vivid pictures of me arriving at the campsite, eating breakfast with our friends, Will, Audrey and Jimmy and then napping because I was exhausted from the late shift I work the night before in the recovery room.  I have vivid images of seeing a beautiful canyon and trail during our ride on the ATVs that afternoon. I remember thinking "life is perfect today."  I was about to start a new job and finally have weekends with my husband.  

Then, as we came back towards our campsite, Seth raced off in front of me and I didn't see him when I arrived to the area where we should turn left to up the hill to our campsite. I drove a little further and then I saw his ATV on it's side, in the ditch and then the image that haunted me for several months. My dear husband laying in the ditch with his jeans, dirty white T-shirt and brown lace-up boots. I carefully drove down to his flipped ATV and then ran to his side and the words that I never, ever want to hear again "I can't feel my legs. Go get help."  

I have tears streaming down my face remembering this day and the events that occurred after this.  I remember getting help.  Will, by the grace of God, got a signal on his cell phone to call 911.  I remember the ambulance crew getting Seth on the backboard and loading him in the back of the ambulance, waiting for the helicopter to land. I remember borrowing a medic's phone to call my mother-in-law. And her and Amanda were immediately booking flights to come be at his side.  I remember frantically packing up our campsite and calling a friend to drive me down to El Paso. I remember trying locate Seth in the hospital but he was listed as "Hummer" and not his real name and how it took me nearly 2 hours before I was at his bedside. I remember Maggie booking the last hotel room available in El Paso that night because of a music festival and not sleeping at all that night. The next morning we went to the hospital and later that afternoon, Vicki and Amanda arrived from the airport.  The rest of the events are a complete blur.
  
Isn't it crazy the details that are imbedded into our brains when we have something traumatic happen to us?  I remember it like a movie reel. And that image of Seth in the ditch --  it was the first thing I saw in my head every morning for about 2 months.  

That day, I remember being scared and wondering what the future held for us. Little did we know that he would in fact never walk naturally again, that we would have a beautiful son named Ethan (May 21, 2017) or a group of church family that care for us deeply.  Never did we know, he would retire from the USAF at 15 years instead of the planned 20 year mark.  Never did we know, we would inspire other couples.  Never did we know, that I would be asked to share my testimony and how easily the words flowed from me that day (March 25, 2017) and again in April.  Never did we know, that Seth would be a stay-at-home Dad.  Never did we know, that we would have to plan our trips based on availability of ADA accommodations.  Never did we know, we would have the Lord provide for us every single day. And last, but not least, never did we know, we would put ALL OF OUR TRUST in the Lord like we did for those 11 months in Texas and continue to do every single day since then.  

Today, August 30, 2018, as my family grieves this loss, we will also praise the Lord that Seth is alive, well, independent and currently working in the garage doing what he does best (woodworking). 

Tomorrow, August 31, 2018, will be business as usual, but today, as he does what he does best, I chose to shed some tears as Ethan naps peacefully in his cozy crib while listening to Christian songs on the stereo. 

-Jenny 
P.S. Ethan decided to learn how to officially walk very close to the date when his Dada stopped walking. God definitely works in mysterious ways...

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Giving Up


I had it ALL planned. 
I took a hypnobirthing class with Seth. Learned and practiced hypnobirthing breathing techniques. Had mp3 files to calm me and put me to sleep while pregnant. Then week 36 arrived and the US showed he was breech. I did it all— yoga, chiropractic care (webster technique), pregnant lady inversions using an ironing board. I was desperate to get him turned. Then the night before week 38 my water broke and we went to the hospital. Still breech. 

Ethan was born 4 hours later and it was a whirlwind of a week dealing with his blood sugars , murmur and failed attempts of breastfeeding. I had plans for a serene birth experience, the Golden hour with my newborn son (I didn’t hold him until he was 24 hours old), but God had more important plans for me. I was forced yet again to give up my control over everything that was happening and just trust that I would heal, Ethan would recover quickly and that I would learn once again that I am not in control of this life. 

Thank you Lord for your never-ending, relentless, powerful love for me and Ethan. I look down at my scar and sometimes I am self-conscious, other times I feel strong. It just depends on the day. Thank you Lord for the breath I breathe everyday and for allowing me to wake up on this planet every single morning.

-Jenny
 #ceseareanawarenessmonth #csection #csectionawareness #giveupcontrol #godisgood #godhasbetterplans

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Stop It, Right Now


My friend soaking in the views at White Sands National Monument in January 2017.
Photo Credit: JennyPennyAho


The saying "just do YOU" has come out of my mouth several times when trying to encourage other people.  But practicing what you preach is hard! As much as I know I shouldn't compare myself to others and just be me --I do it on a regular basis. 

As a teenager and young adult, I compared myself to of others who got better grades than me and performed better in sports. I was jealous of others having nicer clothes or a fancier car, etc, the list goes on. In the last few years, I was jealous of woman who were mothers because I wanted a child so badly. And now in recent months, I have been envious of other mothers who had a beautiful natural delivery, jealous of those who are successfully breastfeeding their child or envious of the first official car ride home from the hospital with their hubby and adorable son or daughter. 


Seriously, when does it end? Why do we do compare ourselves to others? Why are we jealous and envious of what other people have? Do we do it just to torment ourselves?  Is it evil playing with our mind to make us feel bad about ourselves?  

In the past couple weeks, I came to the conclusion I am tired of feeling jealous, envious and comparing myself to others. I'm just OVER it. I reminded myself when I have these feelings or thoughts, I am telling the Lord what He created (me) is NOT good enough.  And it makes me sad that I am disappointing my God, so it prompted me to research scripture to remind myself I AM everything the Lord wants me to be. 


      But let each one test his own work, and then his reason   

      to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.  Galatians 6:4



     Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. 
Galatians 5:26



      A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, 
but envy makes the bones rot.      

     Proverbs 14:30



     But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish 
ambition in your hearts, do not boast and 
be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom 
that comes down from above, but
 is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 

     James 3:14-15



     Keep your life free from love of money, and 
be content with what you have, for he has said, 
“I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 

     Hebrews 13:5

This past week, I attended my women's Bible study and we decided on a study that will help us explore the everyday issues (control, insecurity, comparisons, fear and anger) that hold us back from our full potential as women of Christ. I arrived home that evening and couldn't believe the timing God had and I thanked Him for it. I am seriously in awe of His timing. He simply amazes me. 

So my plan is to stop it, right now! I am going to keep those scriptures handy and attend the Bible study and be vulnerable with other Christian women who most likely have the same struggles as me. If we can encourage and love one another instead of comparing ourselves and being jealous or envious, we can all be better daughters and sons to Him.  


I would like to say thank you Lord for putting this on my heart. I love you and can't wait to be a better daughter to You because I am good enough. 

-Jenny


*If you are interested in the Bible study and you live in the Alamogordo/Tularosa area, please email me, so I can give you details on when and where we meet. 

The name of the study is:  She's Got Issues by Nicole Unice



Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Finding A Purpose


Photo Credit: JennyPennyAho
Location: Alamogordo, New Mexico

I was recently asked to speak at two women's events to share my faith journey.  One is next month and one is in April.  It is a bit nerve wracking knowing I am speaking in front of at least 40 people per session.  
Over the past year, I have been sharing my faith journey, but it's mostly been shared with those who followed Caring Bridge posts and those whom I see at Bible study and Small Group on a weekly basis.  
On Valentine's evening, as Seth worked out in the garage, I sat at my laptop reading through the first four months of Caring Bridge posts I wrote in the fall of 2014.  I even downloaded the PDF and thought about printing it, until I saw that it was well over 500 pages.  Can you believe that?!  Since September 4, 2014, we have had 12,454 visits to the Caring Bridge site. It was truly an amazing way for me to share his progress and give tid bids of my thoughts and emotions through the journey we took together.
  
Back to Valentine's Day last week...
I sat at my desk for about two hours reading the journal posts and locating the scriptures I pulled from good 'ol Google in those first four months post accident.  I was in tears because it brought me back to those emotions I felt not that long ago.  Those scriptures truly helped me find comfort in a terrible situation and helped me sleep better at night. 

In the past year, I have shared bits and pieces of my faith journey and I am just starting to realize this may be a part of God's purpose for me.  I think I was meant to share our story and my faith journey.  Our story and faith journey prove there is light at the end of the tunnel, as long as we put our faith in God. A month or so before we left Texas to make our trek back to New Mexico, I recall telling people "there is light at the end of the tunnel and it's not an oncoming train!"  I chuckle at it now, but it truly was exactly what I felt back then.  

As I begin preparing for my "official" sharing of my faith journey, I would like to thank my small group members, close friends and family who took my phone calls during that season of my life and those who have helped me dig further into my faith. I would appreciate positive thoughts and prayers as I prepare to share my faith journey to these two groups of women.  I pray it flows easily and most of all, I pray it encourages others. 
  
This post was written after seeing what a friend posted on Facebook today.  She shared a YouTube video of a song that I love listening to, but tonight reading the lyrics brought emotions back to that hard season I experienced not long ago.  I wanted to share that song with you and hope it helps you find comfort if you are going through a rough season right now.  
Tell Your Heart To Beat Again

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Forever Changed

Photo Credit: JennyPennyAho

As many of you know Seth and I went through a traumatic event nearly two years ago.  We lived in a Fisher House for 11-months and we literally lived each day as it came.  We couldn't plan ahead because we truly had no idea what the future held for us.  

A couple weeks ago, I saw someone I hadn't seen in over two years and I was nearly brought to tears when they gave me a huge hug and stated how much they are inspired by us as a couple and how happy they are for us after all we went through. 

The truth is, I wouldn't be where I am today without my wonderfully, optimistic husband.  For the first three months after the accident, I was depressed and every single day, I asked various versions of "Why us?".  I couldn't understand what we did to deserve such a horrible, life altering experience.  One evening, I was crying at Seth's bedside while he rested after a long day of physical therapy.  I was blatantly honest with Seth and told him how I was feeling.  Among those feelings were being mad, sad, and confused.  The many questions I asked were: "Why did this happen?....Is this why we miscarried a few months ago?...Why us?...What did we do to deserve this?"  Seth's answer in summary:  "What's done is done and we can't change it.  I have to live with it and there is no reason to be mad at anyone else, but myself."   From that day forward, my outlook was different.  It was as though a light switch turned on. I didn't cry myself to sleep anymore and wasn't depressed about what life had dealt us.  I was proud of Seth for being positive despite the life changing events that had happened and ready to tackle the challenges yet to come.  I simply couldn't continue to ask "Why?"   

Instead, my train of thought changed to thanking God for Seth's life and being blessed with caring friends and family, nurses, doctors and therapists.  We thanked Him for putting a roof over our head and for the military supporting us through the entire process.  With Seth's positive attitude, I realized we couldn't change the past and I began to put my faith in God.  I became more patient (a virtue I had little of prior to the accident) and realized I must put everything in God's hands because He has control and I do not.  This was very difficult because I am a type A person.  Several days a week, I searched the internet for scripture that described my thoughts and feelings.  I found comfort in the scriptures and my friends and family saw a change in me. 

Early in his rehab process, we made a promise to start going to church together.   After 11 months of being away, we got settled back into our home, found a church that suited us and starting going every Sunday.  We went for about two months and I decided I didn't want anything for Christmas, but instead, wanted to renew our wedding vows.  We chose White Sands National Monument and nearly froze our butts off while our photographer snapped gorgeous photos of us.  Our pastor informed us he never cries for ceremonies, but found himself getting teared up when we said our vows.  He generously invited us to join a small group to support other people and learn and grow closer to God.  We agreed and started going in January.  These past seven months have been a blessing and we have learned about God, ourselves, other believers and we have strengthened our marriage with one another.  

I don't tear up every week at church while singing the songs*, but today was different.  Today, I found myself tearing up for all of the songs we sang.  It inspired me to write this post.  Every song had special meaning and made me think of what we have been through.  Every song made me remember God has a plan and we must put our faith in Him.  I am so thankful to be where I am today.  I am forever changed. 

*Songs:  "It Is Well" and "10,000 Reasons"

Friday, July 8, 2016

Makers Gonna Make



Since late May, Seth and I have traveled quite a bit.  We explored Seattle and La Jolla and in the next couple months we will be traveling to Las Vegas, Albuquerque and in the fall I'll be heading to Kauai for a friends' wedding! 

One of the items I always have in my luggage are shoe bags.  My mom made some for me a few years ago.  Over the years, I've used them and even given some away leaving me with only one bag.  I have small feet (size 5.5, sometimes 6) and I use one bag for 2 pairs of sandals or 1 bag for a pair of heels. I finally decided with all the traveling that I will make a couple more, so I don't have to use the ones that came with my Cole Haan heels.

A "fat quarter" is a quilting term, which is a piece of fabric cut to: 22"L x 18"W . When making the shoe bag, you will fold it lengthwise to maximize the fabric.  My mom informed me it costs about $1 in a retail fabric store.  I went in search of some and I paid $3/each. I didn't mind paying more since: 1) it supports a local small business and 2) so I didn't have to drive over an hour to the next closest fabric store.

Note: I recommend measuring your shoes and determine if a fat quarter is appropriate for your shoes.  The length shouldn't be an issue as it is appropriate length for my husbands shoes (sz 10.5), but you could go up to 21"W.  In that case, a fat quarter would not be appropriate and you would just have to choose a fabric and get it cut at the store.

I took measurements of my "fat quarters" when I arrived home and found they weren't the same size.  Since my feet are small, I decided it would work just fine especially after placing them on the fabric. 
22.25" L X 18"W (teal fabric)
(Both are folded in half lengthwise)


Fits a pair of high heels with extra room to spare.

22" L X 19.25" W (green/blue fabric)

Fits 2 pairs of sandals. 
Since I don't have a serger to finish the edges quickly and easily, I started by folding the edges under and then once more to create a rolled hem.  It helps to press it with an iron, but I didn't feel the need to do this, so I just folded as I went.  I decided it was best to use a rolled edge hem to prevent loose threads from getting tangled inside the bag.   

Rolled hem (fold once and then once more to create this hem). 

Once I sewed the decorative stitch on three sides, I folded it lengthwise with the fabric design on the outside.   Then I sewed a straight stitch just below the decorative stitch on the long side and one short side of the bag, leaving the top open.  

Teal bag with decorative stitch and straight stitch.
Green/Blue bag with zig-zag stitch and straight stitch.
Here are the finished products!   The teal bag looks slightly smaller because the fat quarter was a tad bit smaller than the blue/green fabric.  The blue/green bag has my 2 pairs of sandals in it and the teal bag has the black high heels in it (as seen in previous pictures).



Lastly, I put my hand on the bag to show you how much room is left in the bag.  So if you have bigger feet than me (which most people do), the fat quarter should be big enough to fit your shoes. FYI:  Since my shoes are small, I typically fold the extra fabric under the shoe bags when placing in my luggage.  

Sandals in shoe bag with plenty of room to fold the bag when placing in luggage. 
Happy Friday!

-JennyPennyAho

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Rules of Engagement



This post is for those who want to take their dog to the dog park, but aren't sure of the "unwritten rules."   


As many of you know we have a dog named Hugo.  He got when he was 3.5 months old.  Now, he is just over 3 years old.  He is a crazy, lovable, adorable, soft and fluffy dog who loves chasing me in the back yard, chewing on kong toys and bones, going for walks/runs and going to the dog park to sniff and play with other dogs.  Many people say "what kind of dog is he? He looks like a fox!"  He indeed looks like a fox and we love him to pieces.  

When he was a puppy we introduced him to the dog park, so he  could expend his puppy energy and also to socialize him with other dogs.  We have learned what to do and not to do at the dog park from our trainer and also from experience.   

It is best to get to know your puppy and work with an experienced trainer to get obedience training completed as soon as possible.  We took Hugo as soon as he was up-to-date on his vaccines.  His obedience training was once per week (1.5-2 hours) for six weeks.  I only have experience with Hugo and do not have any experience with rescue dogs, but working with a trainer is never a bad idea.  The trainer may be able to help you with some behaviors your dog is exhibiting that you thought you just had to "live with" (i.e. destroying toys, dog beds, growling when a toy is taken away, just to name a few).  

Hugo doesn't necessarily need to go to the dog park to expend energy anymore, but once a day he will come to us and bark and let us know "com'on it's time to go to the dog park!"  We enjoy taking him 3-4 times a week.  After all, it keeps makes him happy, tires him out and we get to socialize a bit with other dogs and people. 


Hugo at 3.5 months old.
Photo Credit: JennyPennyAho

Hugo
Photo Credit: JennyPennyAho

Rules of Engagement {at the Dog Park}:
-do not take your dog to the dog park until ALL of their vaccines are completed. We waited another week or so before taking him just to be sure he was protected.
-scope out the park BEFORE you bring your dog for the first time.  Look for shaded areas, water fountain, small gated area at entrance/exit, dog bags for clean-up, trash cans.  Typically the dog park hours are posted at the gate. 
-never bring treats -- period! Training and/or rewarding dogs with treats should be done at home, not in a dog park. Leave the treats at home or in your car.  If you forget to leave at home, don't get mad if other dogs follow, bark and sniff you -- they have good noses and they will smell it whether it's in a bag or not.
-always bring poo-bags (if not provided at the park)
-always clean up after your dog immediately (goes without saying)
-don't play or talk on your phone. This is extremely annoying! Watch your dog.  Especially when they end up "taking care of business" and you don't see it happen or where it happened. Last evening, I saw a perfect example of someone glued to their phone and not paying attention to when his dog took care of business. We have one lady who typically speaks up and says: "your dog is pooping!"  It gets everyone's attention, that's for sure! 
-do not keep your dog on a leash while entering or while in the dog park.  There is a reason there is a small gated area at the entrance/exit. The small gated area allows you to enter, close the gate and gives you time to remove the leash and introduce your dog to the other dogs through the fence.  The dogs can sniff through the fence. This will allow you time to determine if you dog should even enter the park.  When exiting, the small gated area will allow you time to put on the leash. Typically, everyone prefers to be in the gated area with their dog only.  If you see someone in the gated area, wait 10-12 feet away from it, to allow the owner to leash or unleash their dog and enter or exit the area. 
Gated area at entrance/exit.
Photo Credit: JennyPennyAho

-if you have a small dog or puppy and it's getting surrounded by big dogs, stay calm and do NOT pick up the dog.  The other dogs are just curious and want to sniff, it's how they say hello.  If you pick up the dog, it informs your dog you are scared and then your dog will sense your behavior and will get scared.  Dogs can sense your emotions.  Stay calm! Freaking out and picking up your dog will cause the other dogs to get even more curious and begin jumping up on you (whether well-trained or not).  If your puppy is small, it would be best to introduce when the dog park isn't busy (don't go at dinnertime or when you see it's crowded).  Scope it out and go when it's not busy, so your puppy can be introduced to a couple dogs and then gradually progress to being around more dogs.  It worked for Hugo and before we knew it he was enjoying the big dog park more than the small dog park because he could stand his own ground. 
-don't bring a toy unless you are alright with these simple facts: another dog may steal it, dogs may play tug-o-war with it and/or destroy it some way or another.
-spay or neuter. If you choose not to, please don't bring your dog or if you do bring them, be responsible and watch them closely. 
-don't feel bad you only remember the other dogs' name and not their owners' name 
-accept that fact that there are cliques.  Some people take the dog park very seriously and will ask you to leave if you bring treats, don't pick up after you dog, don't control/take responsibility of your dog.
-do not wear nice clothes or shoes.  You will most likely end up getting dirt and slobber on you, or sometimes worse!
-if you choose to bring your children. Remember the dog park is not a playground.  Screaming, shrieking noises and running around are not actions that should be done around dogs you do not know. You never know how other dogs will react to your children.  To keep your children safe, go when it's not busy and inform your children to ask before petting another dog.    
-Pay attention to your dog and looks for signs that your dog needs to go home. You will learn your dogs cues. When we first arrive, Hugo typically runs around sniffing, taking care of business, running and playing. When he comes over to us and sticks around or lays down near us, we know he is ready to go home.  He knows what "go home" means and will walk to the gate if he's ready.  Typically 45-60 minutes does the trick for expending energy. 
-Look for signs that your dog needs water.  Hugo's tongue gets bigger and more pronounced when he is overheated. Most dog parks provide water fountains, but not all.  Scope out the dog park prior to taking your dog, so you know whether or not you need to bring water with you.



Photo Credit: JennyPennyAho

Photo Credit: JennyPennyAho

Photo Credit: JennyPennyAho

Photo Credit: JennyPennyAho

Validation:
Last evening, I was at the dog park and Hugo had a blast as usual.  We were about to leave and some woman had obviously never been to the dog park.  She started walking towards the fence, where I was currently putting on Hugo's leash.  Her dog was obviously excited.  He was barking and pulling on the leash (literally yanking her arm in all directions).  I noticed she was walking straight towards the gated area and I had to stop her and ask her to wait until we exited.  She didn't say a word to me, but she obliged and just stood on the other side of the gate only 2 feet from the exit.  Her dog's tail was wagging (good sign), but as soon as Hugo and I exited, the dog immediately started growling and tried to snap at Hugo.  I kept walking towards the car and she entered through the gate. Almost immediately all of the dogs in the dog park ran over to greet her dog and all of them were jumping and barking.  This immediately got the attention of the owners and they all were walking over to their dogs to move them away from the gate. The only good move she made was that she realized was she was losing control of the situation and her dog was too aggressive to enter the dog park.  So, she exited back out of the gated area and went to her car to leave.
My recommendation to her would be:  She should have scoped out the area and brought her dog when it wasn't busy.  There were literally 20 dogs there and she obviously isn't the alpha in the relationship.  After this instance, I knew I had to post this even though it may offend people.  The truth is, you need to take responsibility for your dog and determine what is best for you and for them.