The Loss of my Mom

30 07 2018

November 4, 1995 was a day that changed the trajectory of my life in ways that I wasn’t prepared to deal with.  Three days before, the Lord blessed us with a blessing that we didn’t plan for but are very grateful to have received.  November 1st was the day our fourth child was born.  On November 2nd, we were allowed to take our beautiful new daughter home.  Before we went home, we took her to see her grandmother.  My mom held her newest grand-daughter for a few moments and then gave her back to us.  Two days later my mother passed away.

Her passing was not unexpected.  Several years earlier she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  She had a mastectomy along with chemotherapy and radiation.  After all of that she was cancer free for almost 5 years.  This time when it came back it came back with a vengeance.  It got into her lymphatic system and then metastasized below the knee and into her brain.  At the time those were very rare places for breast cancer to attack.

Prior to her cancer returning, I was the designated executor of her estate and each of my kids, along with my sisters kids were to get $10,000 from her estate.  When the cancer returned, she decided to get married.  As I remember, and I may not be remembering correctly, a major reason for getting married was the medical benefits that he had.  This would mean that all of her money would not be spent on her cancer treatment.  After she got married, she changed the trust and put everything in her husband’s name. She did not have a will and based on what my sister once told me, I think she was coerced into making the changes.

While her cancer was in remission, she worked for a very famous financial advisor who also had an attorney working for her.  I went and talked with them as this whole thing about my mother making this radical change from providing for her grandchildren and children to leaving it all to her husband was not like her.  Unfortunately, I got nowhere with this meeting.  What really upset me is that they knew my mother and this was a radical change in behavior that I would thought they might have reached out to my sister or I and at least asked if everything was ok.

Two days after my mother held my youngest child, I got a call from my sister saying that our mom had passed away and that they were waiting for hospice to come get her body. I decided to drive up and wait. Not sure why I did that, it just seemed the right thing to do.

Before my mother passed away, she felt her current husband would not give my sister or I any of my mother’s money. She and my sister had cashed in a couple of her CD’s and given the cash to my sister. She had pulled a couple for me but didn’t/couldn’t cash them as she couldn’t remember my social security number. Within 2 days of my mother passing her husband called asking if I knew where two of the CDs were. I didn’t have them yet so I honestly answered no and to check with my sister.  Shortly after this my sister gave them to me and I tried to cash them.  However, it turns out I needed his signature to cash them and he wasn’t going to let me have both of them.  My mother’s fears were confirmed.

I wanted to have a memorial service for my mother and tried to set something up for a few weeks after she passed away.  I got lots of pushback from my sister and my mother’s husband.  With counsel from my church family, I went ahead and while my sister attended, it was very obvious that she was not at all happy that I had the memorial service.

I didn’t, or maybe haven’t grieved in ways that would seem normal.  Yes her passing made me sad and I miss her greatly.  However, I never really cried for her.   It just seemed a natural part of life and while I had a great loss in my life, life just seemed to go on.  Many years later, I sensed God prompting me to attend Grief Share.  This is a ministry for those that have suffered a loss as they try to adjust to the new season of their lives.  I learned a few things but I didn’t get the healing or closure I was hoping for.  I don’t know that there was anything wrong with the program or even wrong with me.  I just don’t know how that was supposed to impact my life.  About that time, we were preparing to adopt our foster daughters.  I thought that maybe God wanted me to go through this to better understand the grief my soon to be daughters would be going through.  However they were reunited with their mother.

Not too long after the memorial service, my sister moved to Idaho with no warning.  She left pots and pans she had borrowed from our mother on the doorstep and left with no other discussion.  It took me awhile longer but with no family ties to the San Francisco Bay Area and with the cost of housing being unreasonable, I found a job in Chandler Arizona and we moved to Gilbert, Arizona in August of 1997.

Living in the desert has definitely been different from living in the Bay Area.  However in the desert I have formed a much deeper relationship with God that I don’t know would have happened if I had continued with my life in the Bay Area.  Obviously I don’t know what would have happened had my family and I stayed in the Bay Area.  I do know that I would not have met the friends I now have.

Until next time…

Paul





Weight Loss Journey

9 07 2018

I have been on a journey for over a year now.  Actually I have been on this journey for many years but was finally in a place where I was finally ready to admit I needed God’s help about a year ago. 

I have been “chubby”, “heavy”, “large”, “a big kid”, which are all polite ways of saying “FAT”, almost all of my life.  I remember when I was 8 or 9 I would stand with my arms folded at the top of my stomach.  I remember my mother telling me not to cross my arms above my stomach because it pushed my stomach out.  I was teased in school and was always part of the “last kids picked” when it came to choosing teams. 

I married the woman of my dreams in 1986 and if my memory serves correctly, I was about 180 pounds.  I remember that I was working out at the gym prior to the wedding to look my best.  After I was married, I think I lost interest in maintaining my weight.  When I got married I was working a retail job where I was on my feet for a major part of the day walking around.  A few years later, I was hired for a job that would use my computer science degree.  With the hour or so commute and a fairly sedentary job, my weight started to increase. 

So I was fat, and I knew I was fat.  Years of the doctor telling me I needed to lose weight and my wife telling me that she was afraid I was going to die early and my dad telling me I needed to lose weight didn’t cause me to get help.  I tried a trainer at the gym and spent thousands of dollars without a lasting effect.  If memory serves correctly, I managed to go from about 300 pounds to 270 pounds.  My wife and I tried a “well known” weight loss program in 2005 and that worked while I was paying to go to meetings and paying for their snacks.  However when money got tight and I could no longer pay for the trainer and when my wife reached her goal weight and we stopped going to those meetings, I gained all the weight back.  With the weight loss program I actually  managed to get down just under 246 pounds.  245.8 to be exact.

In 2010 I had three business trips traveling to Eastern Europe for work.  We always had a lay over day each way in Vienna, Austria for two trips and Amsterdam, Netherlands for the last trip.  Putting my 290+ pound body into a coach seat for a transatlantic flight, and not being able to walk around Vienna and Amsterdam got me to the point that I was finally ready to give Celebrate Recovery a try.

For those that don’t know, Celebrate Recovery is a Christ based 12-step program similar to the better known Alcoholics Anonymous.  One of the major differences is while Alcohol Anonymous refers to a “higher power” as a source of help, Celebrate Recovery specifically names the higher power as Jesus/God.  Anyway, a pastor at the church my family was attending was “heavy” and lost quite a bit of weight.  He told the congregation that the 12 steps of Celebrate Recovery is what helped him to lose the weight.  His testimony and my business trips to Eastern Europe were enough pain to overcome the fear of walking in to Celebrate Recovery.

Given my past failures with the gym and the nationally known weight lost program I knew that my weight issues were more than simple behavior modification would fix.  There were deeper issues that needed to be addressed.  I went though the doors of Celebrate Recovery and started to work the program.  I started watching what I was eating and trying to drink more water, in place of snacking.  I actually lost 30 pounds in the beginning.  However this was my doing and not what God was most interested in helping me overcome….at least not yet.

I found this walking app for my iPhone and started tracking my sporadic walks back in December of 2014.  My walks got more regular in 2016 but still not consistent. 

Back in February of 2017, I got an Apple Watch and started tracking my exercise.  As of April 1, 2017 I weighed 300 pounds.  I have been as high as 321.  This is not something that I am in any way proud of but it is worthy to note how far I have come. 

With the purchase of my Apple Watch, I decided to start walking regularly and tracking my walking progress.  I figured out the workout app on my watch and in March of 2017 had 1 workout.  In April there were 15, May was 24, June and July there were 20 each and then I started to get serous in August of 2017.

I consider my official start date of this journey August 1, 2017.  We had recently booked a family cruise to the Western Caribbean and I was looking at some of the excursions.  What took me somewhat by surprise was the fact that some of them had weight limits.  Now this wasn’t the zip line or scuba diving where I know there are weight limits.  This was playing and swimming with the dolphins.  This sounded interesting but there was a weight limit.  Those above 240 pounds could not participate.  Since I was currently close to 300 pounds, it meant that my weight was going to be what limited me on this excursion.

I didn’t want my weight to be the reason I didn’t do the excursion.  As I mentioned above, I had tried the gym, I had tried a nationally known weight loss program.  Both worked, sort of, until I couldn’t afford to pay for them.  I had gotten just under 270 pounds while working with a trainer.  I had gotten down to 245 with the weight loss program.  Neither of those were below the 240 that I needed to be under to do the excursion. 

I knew that there were deeper issues behind my weight that simple behavior modification would solve.  I decided to pray about this and ask God if this was the time for us to work on my weight.  I started walking and trying to watch what I ate.  The weight was starting to come off.  In November my prescription for blood pressure medication ran out.  I called the pharmacy to refill it and it was denied.  It turns out that my medical insurance was now insisting that I see the doctor every 6 months while on long term medication.  There was no way I was going to get in to see the doctor before Thanksgiving so I decided to start recording my blood pressure daily and see the doctor after Thanksgiving.  I took my record of blood pressure measurements to the doctor and he was concerned.  Not because my blood pressure was too high but there were several readings that were too low!  With that my doctor decided that I could be off the blood pressure medications and we would check it again in April when I had my annual exam.

In January I was going to the gym because walking when the outside temperature was below 50 was causing my hands and feet to be cold to the point of pain.  I also got an app to start tracking what I was eating.  The combination helped me break through the plateau!

I had my annual physical in April part of which was the usual blood tests.  The doctor was thrilled with the amount of weight I had lost.  When he got the results of the blood tests, all my results were excellent.  Where I had been on both blood pressure and cholesterol medications in the past, and had even had a liver biopsy in the past to determine I had a fatty liver, I am now off all prescription medications.

As I write this I am 56 pounds lighter than I was in August!  As I shared in my travel post, I was finally below 240 and my weight would no longer be the reason for not playing with the dolphins!  I am also down two pants sizes since I started in August and actually 4 pants sizes down from where I was at my heaviest.  At my heaviest, XXL shirts were tight, actually very tight.  Now large shirt are tight but with God’s help, they won’t be for much longer.

I continue to work at losing weight.  My next goal is to break through the 225 pound barrier with my ultimate goal to see if I can get back to about 180 pounds which is where I think I was when I got married. 

Until next time…

Paul





The Second Foster Placement

9 06 2018

Our first placements included one who was medically fragile and that brought a whole new level of care that while we weren’t trained for, with prayer and help from lots of folks we completed.

Our second placement we requested out of a group home. She was good for a few weeks and then the defiance started. Having raised 4 kids we knew a little something about defiance but this young lady took it to levels we were not prepared for. Some of that I think was due to influences from her mother who was very vocal about her rights. I am all for peoples rights but for me that isn’t the first argument or comeback when things aren’t as they should be. The other thing that made this somewhat difficult is that this placement had court ordered phone calls with her grandparents that we had to supervise. The last thing I really wanted to do was listen in on another conversation that had nothing to do with me.

We had to fight to get her services. Removing her from a group home where there were lots of other kids to our home where she was effectively and only child was not a good move for her. We ended up asking to have her moved out of our home. Part of this was the fact that she was defiant beyond what we could handle and our support team didn’t have any suggestions that worked. Part of this was failure on both sides in regards to our licensing agency. Only when we were at the point of disruption did they mention services that they had for us. Because this was having a very negative effect on my wife and myself, though to a lesser degree, we ended up disrupting.

Thankfully our licensing agency was able to find another home within their agency to place her and she did much better there with other kids. She finally ended up be reunited with her mother.

Until next time…





Our First Foster Placements

6 06 2018

I realized when I read my previous blog posts that I stopped blogging before we got our first placements. Shortly, like within a few days if I remember correctly, my wife got a call about 10:30pm for an emergency placement of a 10yr old. Her parents had taken her to the doctor for a distended abdomen and the test results indicated she was pregnant. We talked for a few minutes and agreed we would take her. Then CPS asked if we could also take her 8 year old sister. We said yes and after we got off the phone with CPS immediately texted our licensing worker. Amazingly he was still awake and called. We told him what we knew and prayed for the girls and the situation.

About 1:30am the next morning, two scared little girls with the clothes on their back and little else arrived at our home. We didn’t run to Wal-Mart then but we were there later in the morning to get them some clothes.

We took the 10 year old for some tests and they determined that she had an ectopic pregnancy. With her father’s permission, she was scheduled to remove the mass of cells. It was during this procedure that she wasn’t actually pregnant but had a large cancerous tumor. The scheduled another procedure to remove the tumor and start treatment. This meant that every day we were driving to Phoenix Children’s Hospital to visit her as by court order her parents were not allowed to see her yet.

I am so thankful for my “bio” daughters who treated the both, but especially the younger one, as sisters and helped immensely with care while we visited with helped the older of the two with what she was going through.

The older girl was not eating enough so they decided to put in a feeding tube. It was during this time I was able to see just God had been bringing all the necessary people into our lives. It “just so happens”, I believe it was by God’s plan and design, that one of the folks in our bible study group was a pediatric nurse at Phoenix Children’s hospital. When the older girl coughed up the feeding tube, we were able to call on our nurse friend who knew exactly how to put the feeding tube back in.

These two were with us for several months and then were moved to a friend of their mother’s. There mom had passed away a few years before. My wife still saw them at school the next year so we were able to kind of keep track and know the court had still not come to resolution on the reason why they were removed from their home in the first place.

I am so thankful for all the prayers and people God put in our lives for just a time as this. Our foster care support group, or amazing licensing worker and our friend the pediatric nurse were all people God knew we would need to help us with our first placements.

Until next time…





A Little About Paul…

8 10 2012
Welcome to my blog. If you are still here by the end of this post, please be sure to leave a comment so I know who I am writing to.
My name is Paul I was born a long time ago in a land far away. Not really THAT long ago but I will qualify for AARP in 2013. And whether I was actually born in a land far away depends on your definition of far. If you had to walk it you would think it was far away but you can get there in about 14-16 hours by car. I never tried getting there by horse so I have no concept of how long that would take.
I found God, probably more accurately God found me, when I was in high school. There was a evangelistic meeting and this girl I would have done almost anything for, invited me to attend. I did. I believe the speaker that night was Tony Campolo. At the end when he did an alter call, I felt a stirring in my soul that I needed to go forward. I looked to my friends who I THOUGHT indicated they would go up with me. However when I stepped into the aisle and started walking, there weren’t there. I went up anyway. My walk with Christ was sporadic at best. It wasn’t until I was desparately trying to study for a Calculus test in college that my walk started to have direction. These two guys from a campus ministry wanted to share the gospel with me in spite of my protestations that I had to study for a calculus test. I let them talk and recommitted my life to Christ on that bench that day. I know something miraculous happend as that was the ONLY calculus test I ever got an A on.
Shortly after that this stunningly beautiful young lady started hanging out with the group of folks I hung out with. After a couple of dates, I created an “application” to be her boyfriend. Thankfully she said yes! We have been married since 1986 have four awesome children. One boy and three girls.
I have been very involved with the church ever since we were married sometimes burning myself out because I just couldn’t say no.
Many years and tears later, I started attending Celebrate Recovery (CR) as I was sick and tired of being overweight and all the challenges that come with it. As I have been working the program, I have felt the urge/guiding/leading to start writing a blog. If you want to learn more about the Celebrate Recovery program, feel free to ask me or go to the Celebrate Recovery webiste.
This won’t be all about CR, nor will it be all about my walk with Christ. Though those topics will come up. I have several topics in mind such as my review of iPad apps, my surgeries, foster care and my love of things pumpkin.
If for some bizarre reason you want to keep up with me between blog posts you can follow me on Twitter @pfrogers63 or facebook facebook.com/pfrogers
Since you made it this far, I would appreciate you letting me know you were here by leaving a comment.
Until next time . . .







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