Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Help Change A Life Today

Last November I attended the Women of Faith Conference in Pittsburgh with some friends from church. Not only did we enjoy a spectacular weekend of inspiration, praise, and worship, I also took the opportunity to become a sponsor for a child from World Vision. My little boy's name is Kiran. He is nine years old and lives with his family in India. The first time I saw his big, deep brown eyes on his sponsorship folder, my heart simply melted. I couldn't even see any of the other children's faces, Kiran captured my full attention and I excitedly filled out the sponsorship form...a little trepidation at the back of my mind wondering what my husband might say or think once I told him what I'd done, but knowing honestly, deep down he'd be as happy as me to be making a positive difference in this sweet little boy's life on the other side of the world. I scooped up his folder and held it tight to my chest--Kiran, I had a little boy named Kiran, a secret smile spread through my heart and across my face...
Just look at those eyes!!
Over the past few months, I've written and received a couple letters and cards from Kiran and a letter from his father, Balaram, which was pretty cool! He sounds so proud of his family and told me all about how well Kiran is doing at school and also how World Vision is working to help the families in their area have a better life. I love these letters and am really looking forward to getting to know Kiran and his family so much better over the years as he grows up, sharing stories and pictures, and most of all, love.

I was so excited about becoming a child sponsor, I wanted to do more to help other children around the world find sponsors so that they might have a better life and better opportunities that we too often take for granted. So I decided to become a Child Ambassador for World Vision and received my first sponsorship package literally the day before I went into the hospital for surgery...Sadly, I've had these five children's folders sitting in that same envelope, waiting as I recovered, hoping for the chance to still find sponsors for them when I was finally feeling better. And I finally am...

Meet my kids:

This is Shibru. He is twelve years old and lives with his family in Ethiopia. He has four brothers and one sister. His father is a farmer and his mother is a housewife. Despite their efforts, they still have difficulty trying to meet their family's needs. Shibru enjoys science and playing soccer and helps at home with doing family chores. Shibru is a Hope Child, which means he lives in a community severely affected by the HIV and AIDS crisis. In some communities, AIDS affects the entire social structure as a generation of hardworking adults is being wiped out. Frightened children and exhausted grandparents rarely have money for food, school, or medical care. Through sponsorship, you can help with these and other basic needs for Shibru and his family.
Meet Mpho. She is seven years old and an only child living with her mom and dad in Lesotho. Her father is a construction worker and her mother takes care of the household. They are struggling to provide for their family. Mpho is in primary school and enjoys learning foreign languages. She likes to play house and helps at home by carrying water for her family. Mpho is also a Hope Child, living in an area devastated by AIDS.

This sweet boy is Stefano. He is almost five and lives in Malawi with his parents and one sister. Stefano is not in school at this time but he likes to play ball games and helps to carry water for his family. Stefano is another Hope Child.

Meet beautiful Fatima. She is nine years old and lives in Mozambique with her parents, two brothers and one sister. Her parents struggle to provide for their family. Fatima is in primary school and enjoys studying the national language. She helps at home with washing the dishes and she likes playing traditional games. Fatima is also a Hope Child.
And last but not least, this adorable little guy is Nirmal. He is almost six years old and lives in India. Nirmal lives with his parents and one brother. His father is a farmer and they live in a poor community in India. A typical home there is constructed of wood with a thatch roof and a dirt floor. Plains, hills, and forests mark the land. Nirmal is in primary school and he enjoys drawing. He likes to play ball games and helps at home by being good.

Your sponsorship commitment to these children will help provide them and their communities with clean water, nutritious food, educational opportunities, improved health care and hygiene, and regular medical check ups. In addition, your support provides training for children and parents to help raise the quality of life in their community. Through sponsorship, you'll transform lives by providing real help and lasting hope!

A few quick facts:
Did you know every seven seconds a child dies from hunger?
Every fifteen seconds a child becomes an orphan due to AIDS?
Every twenty-three seconds a child dies from preventable diseases due to unclean drinking water?

If you feel in your heart that you'd like to sponsor one of these five children or would like more information about how sponsorship works, please drop me a quick line here. Or you can click over to World Vision below to see other children in need of sponsors, along with myriad other ways to help give support to families in need:
Famine no more
I thank you for taking the time to read about these children, please offer up a prayer that they would soon find sponsors so that they might begin enjoying a brighter future today...

Also view my World Vision Gift Catalog for more ways to help.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I just finished reading the book of Hosea and the accompanying Quiet Time Bible Study on Intervarsity Press. I had a few painful, eye opening moments during that course-some of God's 'A-ha', refining fire zingers. If you don't have those when you're immersed in the Bible, then you're missing something, I think.

One question that really hit a hard spot in my heart was this: "When do you find yourself focused more on what the Lord has blessed you with than on the Blesser Himself?" Ow. Joining the Joy Dare this year on Ann Voskamp's blog, I've tried to open my eyes to the multitude of simple gifts God showers on me and my family every day. With seizures and surgery, not to mention the mountain of medical bills to follow, it's not been the best start for a new year we've ever had. But I thought making this list of gratitude every day would help lift my spirits and keep me grounded positive as we muddled through the mire. But am I really, truly seeing what it is God wants me to see? Am I focusing on Him or just these gifts He's giving me?

In Hosea, God is fervently trying to get Israel's attention, to realize what a wasted effort it is for them to look for help and hope in aid from Egypt and Assyria. He simply wants them to wake up and recognize all they need, all they'd ever need, is Him, to trust and rely solely on their Father. But Israel is too blinded by fear, wrapped up in their own misguided self-salvation, to let go and instead, look up.

I realize that I, too, think I can get through this mess on my own. I plan out payments, relying on paychecks, expense reimbursements, and credit cards to cover the incoming charges for my medical care. I thank God for His generous provisions, for His continued care and healing, but I notice my heart is still not 100% invested. I still worry and fret--will there be enough? Then the expense of moving, our downpayment on the new house--how can we possibly do all of this? WE can't. HE can.

I pray for the strength and courage to let go of my reliance on my 'Egypt and Assyria', to fully acknowledge the only help and hope I need comes from the One who made me, who carries me through every storm...I pray that I would turn my focus on our Blesser and not so much the blessings, that in turn I might also be His blessing to others.

"Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?"
~Matthew 6:26

Monday, February 27, 2012

Jumping Back in to Joy

Monday at last! I know most folks aren't fond of Mondays and I suppose if you're out in the working world and have regular weekends off, the thought of leaving fun and relaxation behind for a week of work ahead, then Mondays might not be so appealing. I have a friend from high school who is now a minister, and every Monday on Facebook he posts these bright, happy, and encouraging posts, infusing a smile at the beginning of each week. I look forward to his Monday status updates as I share his enthusiasm for a fresh start and bright possibilities.

Mondays are typically my busiest day of the week as that's my "Home Blessing Day" for you Fly Babies out there--the brundt of week's household chores are done on Mondays, cleaning up after busy weekends and reorganizing and reordering lists and schedules, planning out our week ahead. Nothing feels so good as Monday afternoon, when all the chores are done, lists are all made, and I can finally sit down for a few moments of peace before scooting out to the bus stop to pick up Bug. This week, the added knowledge that I am capable of tackling that list of chores on my own is most certainly the icing on my cake!

I've also finally been back to tracking simple gratitude this past week, working on my Joy Dare for the new year, and what a week to be thankful for:
#106 Playdate with friends
#107 Beautiful warmth of late winter sunshine
#108 Friends home safe from vacation
#109 Beauty appointment later in the week
#110 Friend loaned her stationary bike for my PT
#111 A bountiful gift of pens from Missy and her boys
#112 A night out with the girls for Bible study
#113 Homemade hummus and stock
#114 Clearance from Dr El-Kadi--hallelujah! No more C-collar and I can DRIVE!!!
#115 Another showing
#116 Invitation to the Harbor Dinner Cruise later this fall with my honey in Boston and an excuse to buy a new dress and shoes!
#117 Bug all Steeler geared up for Wacky Hat Day at school

#118 Autographed bowling pin and shoe at Butler's Best for Bug, so happy about to bust!
#119 Feeling stronger every day
#120 Best hairstylist ever! (Plug for Shannon @ Shannon's Hair Hut in Chicora, PA!! Awesome!!)
#121 Sharing ear buds and singing Hey Ya and Soul Sister with Bug waiting for power to come back on
#122 Gas stove to scramble eggs for dinner
#123 Candlelit dinner with Grams and Bug
#124 Snuggying under blankets to keep warm (so much to be thankful for with no electricity!)
#125 Mom and Dad Cardinals at the feeder in the snow

#126 FREEDOM at last!!
#127 Avocado soft as butter
#128 Sauteed simmering scrumptious shrooms!
#129 Sharing Bug's Double Stuf Oreos from his Chicken Dunks Lunchables
#130 An awesome afternoon with Sissie and her mom, bowling and then a delicious lunch at Mama Rosa's
#131 Quote of the Day: Bug to Sissie, "So, what does your dad look like?" hahahahahahaha
#132 "THE" Mama Rosa loving on Bug and telling him what a beautiful boy he is--sweet!
#133 A full week of happy cleaning and planning ahead!

Always thankful...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

After the Storm

Can you believe it's almost March? I seem to have missed all of February. It's actually been over a month since all of this started: January 21st was the night I had the tremor at church that swept this past month away from me in a blur. Bill left for good for Massachusetts. Valentines Day came and went and I barely noticed. I've been simply numb in the aftermath. Partly from medication, partly from denial, maybe a little shock as well. How do you just lose a whole month? What hurts most is how Bug just got lost in all of this, too. My sweet angel, dangling on his own...I believe he's been wounded as deeply as my surgery cut into me. And I ache for his hurting heart. I'm so sorry...and I can't take it all back. I can't make it better. Make it disappear and erase his pain. What a life storm for a ten year old...

Hopefully now that things are starting to get back to 'normal'-as normal as things can be when you're preparing to pick up and move your life all over again another some six hundred miles away...we can both find each other again. A little stronger for weathering this storm, ugly as it was--we made it through. So a little beaten up and bruised, but still standing.

Today we get to spend the afternoon bowling with Ashlee, Michael's big sis! Our first day back on our own is blessed with a highlight of what we have to come: having Sissie close by all the time once we get moved--definitely a peek of sunshine through those dark and ugly parting clouds!

I'm looking forward to March and getting everything moving back in the right direction (north!) Finding our feet on solid ground. I love the smell of the air after a storm, don't you? Breathing deep...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gonna Be A Long Day...

Our power went out just before four yesterday afternoon. Fortunately it was an unseasonably warm February day so I wasn't overly concerned about a heating issue or the birds being chilled. And we have a gas range, so dinner was cooked in the glow of candles on the stove top--simple scrambled eggs and veggie sausage patties for a meatless Lent Friday supper, with buttered bread since I couldn't make toast. We dined by candlelight, then sat cuddled under blankets in the livingroom, waiting for the power to come back on--rather envious of the soft glow coming from the windows of houses the next street over that somehow had power while we didn't??

Just about seven everything came buzzing back on. The fan to the furnace whirred and soon warm air came coursing through the vents. The TV blinked as the DVR went through its resetting cycle. Bug and I reset all the clocks and then I headed to bed to read, leaving instructions with Grandma that Michael could stay up no later than nine since bowling comes early on Saturdays. It was too late to try to catch up on any of my recorded Thursday night shows anyway and blankets beckoned. I lured Tucker to bed with a peanut butter biscuit and climbed in for the night...I do love my bed!!

Midnight broke my sleep with the alarm clock's bothersome beeping--I blindly groped to shut it off and hoped I could get back to sleep. No such luck. I tossed and turned, shoving Tucker one way then another as I tried to find that spot, that magic place where sleep simply sucks you back under....Tuck thought he could still my stirring by pinning my legs under his weight, then apparently had had enough after a few unsuccessful hours and three o'clock had me on the back porch, letting all three dogs out and resigned to being awake for the remainder of the day...I need to remember to disable the alarm clock tonight so we don't have a repeat for tomorrow!

We were supposed to get some snow, two to four inches according to the WeatherBug, but there's barely a dusting outside. Just as well since we have to drive Grandma to the airport this afternoon and send her on her way back to sunny, warm Florida. She is no fan of Pennsylvania winter, even as warm as it's been during her visit. Snowbirding has thinned her blood too much. For now, though, I think I may go lie down for an hour or two until it's time to get ready for bowling...after I do my Sims, that is...Happy Saturday!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Healing Begins

This is what four in the morning looks like for me today:

Two Bibles, my planner, coffee (of course!!), a note from a friend updating our book swap list (which I've tried to do on Friday mornings but have missed the past couple of weeks while recuperating), yes, that's Facebook on the laptop--I was trying to fix a post for 1000 Gifts that I had messed up (not enough coffee in me yet...) before going to my morning study on Intervarsity Press...And that pile on the bench? More stuff that calls for my attention--soon, soon...And for a moment I feel overwhelmed at all I had piled on the table before me, but then...I smiled to myself and offered a prayer of thanks. This is healing, this embarking back into my daily life, getting things planned and organized, and no longer sloughing things off until I feel better or the house is quieter...I am ready to dive back in, and this mess that's been waiting for me feels oh so good! It's all so good!

Yesterday started off hectic and ugly. My realtor had called almost the minute we walked in the door from my follow up appointment with the neurosurgeon on Wednesday to schedule a showing for yesterday afternoon--seriously?? My house in utter disarray from not being cleaned the past three weeks and I have only a few hours to get all the mud and dog hair and layers of dust whisked away...Blood pressure skyrockets and I fume at the weight dropped heavy on my shoulders. I ran through the house furiously dusting and scrubbing and mopping, trying to restore as much order as I could, making a list on the fridge for all the last minute things I'd need to do before vacating for the showing. After Tuck decided three-fifteen was time to get up that morning and I'd stewed on what still remained for the day ahead, I popped a quick Ativan to calm my nerves and keep my head from unproductively exploding. Deep breath...hold...exhale...repeat...

Then things turned amazingly beautiful. I have said I have the best friends ever and again they poured their blessings on me on a day I truly needed lifting up--God is so good! I don't know what I could have possibly done to deserve the graciousness I've received this year at His hand, but it's incredibly humbling and I am so thankful...

Waiting for Mom and I to return from a quick trip to Aldi's while the house was being shown, was my friend, Jenn, and her hubby, Jeff, with their two sweet boys, JJ and Shane, delivering a stationary bike for me to use for physical therapy! So awesome! Jeff carried the bike into the basement for me and parked it in front of the TV so I can watch a little Harry while cycling my way skinny again--thank you Michels!!

Then after dinner, my other friend, Missy, picked me up to head to Bible study and a much needed night out with the girls, while Bug stayed home with Grandma. As I climbed into her car, she scooped an Office Depot bag from the back seat. While on a trip last weekend to visit her sister in Virginia, Missy had gone on a mad mission for me, trying to find the Ink Joy pens I've been unsuccessfully scouring stores for here--no one had the set I wanted! Not only did she find that set, her boys so sweetly decided I must need another set of twenty! beautiful color gel pens--a literal rainbow of happiness!! Now that is true ink joy!! Thank you Arps!!

How blessed am I?

So, this morning's study is done and I got hit with an owie of a question that I will post about next week...I love how Scripture is truly refining! I've got a good head start on the schedule for next week. Today and tomorrow are busy full of plans to whisk the days away. It feels wonderful to dig back in and find daily direction, set some goals and smile...Each day gets a little brighter, a little busier and I am thankful for love, kindnesses and generosity, strength, and hope.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Count Me Accountable Thursday

I opted out of blogging yesterday morning due to an awful headache that had me burying my head back under blankets until I had to get up and shower in time to go to my neurologist's appointment just before lunch. Aleve, the pain meds I was given after surgery, and even an Excedrin Migraine capsule did nothing to budge the gnawing ache all day...Some gracious strangers I'd encountered out and about while wearing my C-collar the past couple of weeks, who told me their stories about how they'd undergone the same spinal fusion encouraged the headaches had miraculously disappeared after their surgery. I don't seem to have that luck...But, feeling better today, other than being woken at three-fifteen by a whining, needing-to-pee Tucker, I am hoping to begin building on my blog structure that I've tried to sketch out over the past few weeks. And that brings me to my first Count Me Accountable Thursday!

I dug out the dusty scale yesterday morning from the bathroom closet and blew off a thick frosting of dog hair and dust bunnies, parked it in the middle of the bathroom floor. I's been months since I stepped on that scale. I stopped running in November. Fatigue and shortness of breath stole my motivation, along with crippling headaches that came on after a long run. Slowly, steadily, I've watched the weight coming back on, hating myself for every pound I could see accumulate.

I weighed in a day early (Thursdays are now officially 'Weigh In Day') but I wanted to bite the bullet and see just how bad the damage had become, find out how far I have to go to get back where I belong...The digital numbers glared ugly up at me: 172. About fifteen pounds more than I need. I don't like it, but it's a starting point.

I'm tracking my food again and water, too. That helps keep me aware of what I'm putting in my mouth so I can make better choices throughout the day. I've given up my caramel-vanilla lattes for Lent, less sugar is always a bonus! I'll start physical therapy next week and begin to build up strength and stability so in another couple of months I can hit the road running once more--that is a day I'm definitely looking forward to! Onward and upward...

The good news from the neurologist is that my x-rays looked perfect, he is no longer worried about me becoming paralyzed (always good to know!) I have to follow up with my regular doctor and neurologist, but I am allowed to drive and clean and get this house ready to sell, packed up and move north--hallelujah! Mom flies south again on Saturday, Sissie comes to visit on Sunday, and Monday begins a bright, new week of routine and structure--life is good!

Must Love God
Must Love God

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ready Eddy Eddy!!

I wonder if all post-surgical patients feel like this, so anxious to get back into life again? Tomorrow morning is my follow up appointment with Dr. El-Kadi and I'm a bundle of nerves...I've been Googling physical therapy protocols trying to figure out just what I'll be allowed to do and how soon I can start running again. That, sadly, looks like it's still another couple of months off for me, but I can walk all I want (avoiding black ice!) And I'm wishing I had a stationary bike since that's one of the earliest allowances--maybe I can find a spin class? Okay...that's probably not what they're suggesting...I so need to start burning some calories again!!

Hoping to get my weight back under control and fit back into my eights by summer, I've just signed up on MyFitnessPal. I've done SparkPeople for years and had great success with it, but I think I need to try something new to reinvigorate my motivation. Knowing how I obsess, I'll most likely end up tracking calories and fitness on both sites, just to see which works best--two is always better than one, right? I'm also joining up on another blog for 'Count Me Accountable Thursdays'.  I need some sort of accountability and that can be my weigh in day (after I dust off the scale that's been pushed to the far back corner of the bathroom closet...) I'm also thinking that'll be part of my new blog schedule that I've been trying to put together...It's been so hard to concentrate the past couple of weeks or to set any kind of goals-I am definitely READY!

More to look forward to this week! Thursday night Bible study with my girls and a Friday morning beautification appointment with my friend, Jenn--the roots are coming in too grey, too fast and the eyebrows are needing some attention...I have no doubt I'll be feeling lighter, happier, and more eager to tackle life again come this weekend. And Michael's sister, Ashlee, is coming for a visit on Sunday-I'm hoping to have a little gifty by my favorite local artist, Marcia Furman, for her before she gets here...I'll post pics later this weekend if it arrives in time!

One more day, my friends, one more day...

Must Love God

Monday, February 20, 2012

If You Can't Say Anything Nice

Did your parents ever teach you the adage: "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."?

One of my goals when I started this blog was to not post anything negative or complaining, which leads me to apologizing for the past week of posts. There's just so much life-draining negativity in this world, the last thing I want to do is add to that and make it worse.

Ephesians 4:29 instructs us to "...not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Whining and complaining certainly does not fit into this description. Not only that, it really doesn't make anything any better. Do we not listen to our own words? They're in our heads before we spew them forth into the world--we hear them first, and during, and often regretfully for long after they've been spoken. Or at least I do--maybe that's an OCD thing, obsessing over those details...Nonetheless, shouldn't we be more kind even to ourselves, by carefully regarding what words we speak?

Believe me, I know it's hard to be patient. Anger quickly bubbles to a boil. But if we can more diligently apply Phillipians 4:8, "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." to our daily thought processes, just maybe we can better keep that anger on a low simmer, remember to breathe, refocus on 'things above', and spare others and ourselves from our otherwise hurtful words. And wouldn't that make the world just a little nicer to live in?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blessings in Disguise

I know I've been a bit whiny the past week or so, complaining about giving up my freedom, independence, and serene solitude. Yesterday I got to see a little gift in our current circumstances: Bug and his grandma.

We moved away from family when Michael was only fifteen months old. He's grown up without his sister, grandparents, or cousins. Over the years he's kind of adopted other grandparents and extended family through church and neighbors. Kind, sweet people who've embraced him and loved him and made us all feel like family.

When we had the opportunity to move home again a couple years ago, I was happy that Michael would actually have the chance to finally get to know his grandmother and cousins. No longer would we have to spend birthdays and holidays with just the three of us. Still, there are only so many of those 'special' days, and we've not had as much time with family as I thought we would and now we're moving on once more. Fortunately, this move will take us to be with Bill's family, and Michael will have his sister and more cousins around, and a chance to know that side of the family now.

Yesterday was the first day of a four day weekend from school for Michael. We have bowling plans the last three days of the break, but nothing was scheduled for Friday other than a trip to our favorite Chinese buffet: the Fortune Star. We stuffed ourselves silly, full of crab rangoon, stir-fry green beans, egg foo yung and more...Michael couldn't wait to show Grandma his dessert concoction of pudding, chocolate cake, cookies 'n cream ice cream, all smashed up with fortune cookies. Yeah, it looks pretty gross, but he makes it every time we eat there, and you kinda have to admit--what could be wrong with a combination like that?

After we came home, Bug and Grandma played a few games, then cuddled on the couch, gabbing away. Michael is as much of a talker as Grandma is, and the two of them prattled on most of the afternoon. It melted my heart to see him so happy. As frustrated as I have felt, I'm really thankful that the two of them have this time together--this gift in the darkness, a light of love...makes the rest seem easier to bear.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ~Matthew 11:28-30

Pigging out at Fortune Star--such manners...

Friday, February 17, 2012


I don't do well with noise. I am a huge fan of golden silence. Probably half my problem these past couple of weeks...Even when Bill was still here, he'd get up and head off to work, Michael would go off to school, the dogs would all settle down for their naps, and I'd have beautiful, sweet silence. Not so much now with another person in the house...

Mom's a talker. A constant talker. And a fairly negative commentator. I grit my teeth and shoulders tense, bury my face in my book...I don't like noise. And I can't get away from it right now. There isn't an off button. Deep breath, try another paragraph...

I'm sure I sound ungrateful. She did fly up from Florida to help me get through my recovery time, and I am thankful for that. It's just everything else that comes along with it is a rather hard pill to swallow.

Michael is having a difficult time right now dealing with our upcoming move. Facing leaving all his friends once more, and heading into the great unknown of another school and having to make new friends all over again is very daunting. Daddy's been gone almost two months now. Then he watched as I lost control during the tremors and was rushed off to the emergency room in an ambulance, followed a few weeks later by a stay in the hospital for surgery. How much more can be piled upon his shoulders? I'm in my forties and it's a struggle for me to handle...I can't begin to imagine how scary all of this is for a ten year old!

So he's been acting out and having meltdowns. And I'm getting lectured about how my child isn't normal and he needs help because he's too out of control. Everything in his life is not normal and out of control right now! She broadcasts to her friends his bizarre behavior and my apparent lack of parenting skills, as if my family's private business is hers to share and I fume inside.

So I cherish my few hours of morning time in silence. Pray for peace, strength, patience. Wishing my husband was here, wishing all of this was over. I need to get back to my routine, and find the quiet within. Soon...soon...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Feeling Better

I went for a walk yesterday morning. A quick couple of miles around my usual running route. Made me really want to run, feel my heart pounding in my chest, cold air chilling my lungs, the beat of feet on pavement. But I contained my pace to walking, breathing deep of fresh, cool morning air. Waving as neighbors left on their way to work. It was freeing, being out on my own for just a little while. Restoring a tiny semblence of independence for just those few minutes away. Helped me hold on better the rest of the day.

The weekend will be busy, that will help. Bug has a four day weekend from school so I think we'll hit the Chinese buffet for lunch tomorrow to get us out of the kitchen. Saturday is bowling, and then Sunday he has a tournament--the first that Grandma has gotten to see. That's also our new pastor's installation service in the afternoon and I think I'm ready to brave church again, even with my choke, er, cervical collar--I'll sport my pretty purple paw-paw bling! Monday Bug is off for Presidents' Day, so we have a bowling date planned with friends and I need to get a couple quick X-rays done to take with me to my appointment on Wednesday with the neurosurgeon, hoping to hear I'm allowed to live again...please!! So close I can almost taste it...freedom!!

Who knew I'd ever really want so desperately to get on hands and knees and scrub my house clean again? Two weeks watching dirt accumulate has been as stressful as living with this collar strangling my neck. When did I become such a clean freak?? I need to get the house presentable for showing again, my realtor as anxious as I am to get things moving once more. The time is coming and I can feel it...Almost there...almost there....

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What I Miss Most

Freedom and privacy. You don't realize how much you take simple freedoms for granted until you no longer have the ability to go and do whatever you want, whenever you want. I'm not allowed to drive for at least another week. I'm not allowed to clean my own house. Never in a million years would I have thought that would bother me, but it is driving me insane this week! Watching dog hair and water spots accumulate and I can't do anything about it...I have surrendered my laundry to another woman who doesn't fold the way I do and she keeps putting my pants in the dryer even after I told her not to. I can't just pop in my car and zip over to Walmart or run to the mall, swing by Sheetz for a quick cup of coffee...I want my house and my life back.

And all of my life is under her scrutiny. Everything I eat. Everything I watch on TV. Every piece of clothes I wear. Every text I get. Everything I do wrong with Michael. And I have to hear about it. Or I hear her telling others about it on the phone when her friends from Florida call, or my uncle who she talks to daily. As if my life is her business to share. It's pushing me to the very edge.

Tucker wanted to wake everyone up at five-thirty this morning, growling victorious at the baby gate with chewies crammed in his mouth. I whisked him outside with Ruby and sent the people back to bed. This is my time--my peace. I can't run away but I'm trying not to scream. I'm praying for patience to make it through another week...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Me and Nebuchadnezzar

It's hard having my mother here while I'm recuperating from surgery. Growing up, I was a rebellious child and couldn't wait to get out on my own. Now here I am at forty-four, being chased after and chastized again, only in my own home this time-humiliating and frustrating.

My temper has been on a low simmer since the surgery. First of all, angry that something was actually wrong with me that I had to allow another human being to cut me open and 'fix' that problem. Then, angrier that I wouldn't be able to run or work out, not just for a few days, they're talking a few months! Physical exercise is my therapy, it's how I cope and burn off stress. The low simmer started getting a little warmer. Putting the pot on a full boil came when I had to accept having my mother come stay with me and look after my house and my child while I myself had been deemed incapable.

I like being an independent person. As much as I'm not crazy about my husband being some six hundred miles away starting a new career while Michael and I stay behind waiting for the house to sell, I know it's a situation we can manage. We've done it before and survived quite well, and I knew we'd make it through this time, too. Then came the tremors and everything changed...

I'm reading Daniel right now. This morning's chapter was about King Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the beautiful life giving tree being chopped down and stripped, the stump chained and left alone in a field of grass. God wanted Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge all that he had, his kingdom, his wealth, and his success had not been obtained on his own, but rather all had come from the hand of God. He wanted Nebuchadnezzar to swallow some of his pride and give proper credit and praise for all that he had been given. So God took away his kingdom, stripped him of all his power and wealth and left him to live on his own, wild, eating grass like an animal, until Nebuchadnezzar finally acknowledged God's graciousness and repented of his pride.

I'm feeling a little like Nebuchadnezzar this morning. All the time I thought I had the strength on my own to see Michael and I through this move. You know, that 'Been there, done that' attitude? It certainly feels like I've been chopped down like that tree and stripped of all my strength, in an attempt to make me see that I cannot do all of this on my own. It is God who gives me my strength, patience, and endurance. It is God who holds together my marriage separated by so many distant miles, binding my heart to my husband's when we're not even able to hold each other's hands. It is in God's perfect timing that He will send us a buyer and provide us the means to pack up our belongings and move on to our new lives. And it is God who will heal me and restore my strength again, when He is ready.

And it is God who humbles me and allows me to let my mother take care of me while I'm not able to do so myself.

Monday, February 13, 2012


I had been feeling sorry for myself that my husband wouldn't be home for another Valentines Day this year until I read one of my favorite blogs, Make Me A Mary, this morning. The author's husband killed himself last year leaving her to raise their four children on her own. That certainly put a whole new perspective on my little self-pity party. My husband may not be home with me to celebrate Valentines Day as I'm slowly recuperating from this surgery, but he is alive and well and we will celebrate another day when we can be together again once more.

Then I started looking for ideas to celebrate Lent and Easter here with Michael. Fat Tuesday fast approaches and Ash Wednesday is next week already! My other favorite website, A Holy Experience, had a couple suggestions I really like: a Repentance Box for Lent and planting an Easter Garden. The garden is especially appealing to me this time of year. As much as I love winter and snow, I also love bringing a little greenery and life indoors as a reminder of the coming of spring. This is a beautiful little container garden that I think Michael and I will both enjoy planting together.

I'm also already looking forward to the morning sunrise service at Lake Arthur again this year. We sat under umbrellas last year through an early morning sprinkle, everyone softly chuckling through the readings as two geese curiously and noisly swam closer and closer to our gathering, then boldly joined us on shore, hoping for a little communion bread as we celebrated Christ's resurrection. Best Easter service ever! Second best we hiked to a Tennessee mountaintop at five-thirty in the morning to watch the sun come up over our little town of Oliver Springs...

I'm not sure if I'll plan an Easter basket for Michael or not, we certainly don't need the candy or the calories. He always loves dying eggs every year, though I'm the only one who eats hard boiled eggs and I'm not sure I want all that cholesterol either...Maybe we'll have to come up with some other creative ideas this year instead....

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Gift of Friends

I truly have the best friends in the world. Yesterday morning as we were getting ready to head to bowling, two things bothered me: the snow covered roads, and having to be out in public with this ugly cervical collar.

It hit me how we unconciously stare (glare?) at people who are handicapped in some way--those in wheelchairs, crutches, slings, and, more so, cervical collars. For some reason, maybe due to too many TV shows about people trying to cheat insurance companies with fraudulous whiplash claims, I have associated people wearing cervical collars as liars and schemers. And here I am, stuck wearing this hideous thing for at least the next two weeks--liar and schemer screaming around my neck. Maybe God is trying to teach me a lesson about judging others by outward appearances?? He has quite the knack for teaching us humility...

He also has quite the knack for showing us love. As I was busy getting dressed, I received a text from my dear friend, Missy, telling me to have Michael or Grandma check the mailbox for a little breakfast and bling...Not what one typically finds in one's mailbox, but I sent Bug out into the snowy morning to find out what treasure she had left for us. Michael came back in bearing a Target bag filled with a variety of homemade muffins and an envelope containing the most precious gift: a purple knit cover for my cervical collar blinged out with paw prints in rhinestones--coolest thing ever!! I quickly slipped it on over my collar, grinning giddily--I couldn't wait to show it off at bowling!! How instantly my outlook had changed from shame to joy--that is a gift of love! And the muffins Missy made are pretty tasty, too!

We still had the snowy roads to contend with and my driver--my mother--hasn't driven in snow for at least the past three years. The last time she'd been home for winter was the year my father was diagnosed with lung cancer and they couldn't escape to Florida while he was undergoing treatment. My other dear friend, Jenn, came to our rescue in that regard. She and her boys, who both bowl on the same team with Michael, graciously offered to pick us up and bring us home, saving Mom and I both a huge amount of stress over Mom's lack of snow driving skills. And we even managed to squeeze in a Sheetz run for coffee, donuts, and free M&M's before heading to the bowling alley--definitely a bright way to start the day!

So, #94 in my counting of a thousand gifts, is love from friends, who I'm sure have no idea how much better they made my day yesterday with simple thoughtfulness and selflessness...I am truly thankful God has blessed my life with these women!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

She's Back

Well, it is five days post surgery. I've been home for two days and this is the first morning I hadn't woken up in the middle of the night needing pain medication and, in fact, haven't had to take anything since I woke up at four, a little over two hours ago! Progress! No doubt I'll need a little to get through the day but considering the previous nights' pain, today's outlook is already much brighter indeed.

So, unfogged by hydrocodone and muscle relaxers, I thought I'd take advantage of a clear brain to write a little before the rest of the house wakes up. And, actually, they already are awake--Bug and Grandma snuggled under covers in the office, talking and giggling, Tucker waiting patiently at the baby gate in the hall to be permitted into the little love party going on in the other room without him (how dare they!!)

I'm happily watching the snow accumulating outside. I confess I was disappointed when I awoke and was able to see the trees through the top of the bedroom garden window, it not being occluded by the snow I thought we would get overnight. I guess it was delayed a few hours as it's certainly coming down quite steadily out there now.

I have quite a bit on my plate to catch up on once again, especially after being indisposed for the better part of a week! Aside from the house being a hairy, dusty mess--which, I know! I'm not allowed to do anything about for another couple of weeks...But I'm trying to organize a regular outline for my blog; I did get a letter sent off to the prison ministry right before I went into the hospital and am waiting for my first inmate response; and I received my Child Ambassador package from World Vision with five beautiful little faces in need of sponsors and a deadline of the end of February to find said sponsors! I need to get on the ball! Easier said than done with my mom here 'helping', which also entails giving my time and attention that I would direct otherwise during the day...And! The best of the best, I got my first issue of Bible Study Magazine yesterday, which I've been so looking forward to--Ravi Zacharias is interviewed in this issue! I'm excited about new eyes into Scripture with this magazine!

But I know I have to take things slow and easy, even if I don't feel like I need any pain medication...I have follow up appointments with the neurosurgeon and my PCP, along with xrays and other tests to see how well I'm healing. I'd be much happier if swallowing didn't still hurt so much. All in time, all in time...At least I feel like I've got a foot back in the game today!

Monday, February 6, 2012

And Away We Go!

Today's the day...I woke up a little after one and the brain started racing with what lay ahead for the day. So I broke the doctor's orders and took a quick Ativan with a sip of water to help me get back to sleep for a few more hours anyway. Sitting here without coffee is the worst!! I hope someone will have a big hot cup of steaming sanity waiting for me when I get out of recovery--please!!

I got my pens and jammies yesterday. Everything is packed and ready to go....books, magazines, pens, tablet, notebooks, squishy socks, MP3 player, chargers, hubby's bathrobe (so I have something of him with me...) Phone and tablet are charged.

I just want to eat!!!

Thank you so much to everybody for your kind words of support and prayers--it really means a lot and has helped lift my spirits the past few days. If you don't hear anything for a few days, I left the laptop at home...still haven't decided...I could take my Harry movies....maybe....

Talk to ya'll soon!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Time for Today

I don't want to write today. There's so much jumbled up in my head facing the coming week, words all tripping, tangled. I will likely be taking a break for the next few days since I'm not sure if I'll bring the laptop with me to the hospital and I'd rather not try to blog on my tablet. Swype is fine for quick notes, not meandering paragraphs.

Surgery is at noon tomorrow. Bill flew home yesterday. Mom will arrive late tomorrow afternoon. I'm trying not to think about it, pushing it back out of the brain. Denial...

I want to shop. I used to be an emotional smoker. Squashing worries and anger and frustrations with cigarettes. Since I quit almost seven years ago, I waver between emotional eating and emotional shopping. Shopping is better than eating--at least it doesn't end up on your thighs. I want to shop. Buy pens and books and jammies for the hospital. Comfort in toys, things. Have you seen the commercial for Papermate's Ink Joy?? I need....I need....

I busy myself with packing, planning. Lists for home, lists for the hospital, rearranging my reading list, adding to the grocery list. Obsessing obscures worry.

Today will be errands and cleaning. Mess management to meet Mother approval. Super Bowl watching. Time snuggying with hubby, Bug, and puppies. Tomorrow will be here all too quickly.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here?

The house is a wreck. I've been running here, there, and everywhere this week having some test or other done, and I've managed to keep up with most of the cleaning. But it's been damp out and the dogs have tracked in quite a bit of mud. So it looks dirty. And my mother is coming. To my muddy, dog hair covered house. I'll have to run the vacuum this weekend and whip out my Swiffer and take a coating of dust off the shiny things, swap out sheets, and wash comforters when I figure out who's sleeping where and when...

Sweet Pea is going to be my problem the next couple of weeks. She is a brat. Okay, I've made her into a brat by spoiling her rotten and catering to her every need and whimsy these past five years, never thinking it would turn around and bite me in the butt...but bite me it is...

Our morning routine when I wake up, the dogs all get up, let them out for pee ventures in the dark while I get the coffee brewing and organize my morning goodies: laptop, Bible, journal, coffee. Let the dogs back in, issue treats, vitamins, and chewies, and they all typically chomp away on their nummies in the livingroom before finding their way back to bed until the other folks in the house wake up several hours later. Ruby tucks her great white head back under my bed. Tuck is content either on the couch or he'll jump up on my bed, toss around the pillows and rearrange the blankets, possibly bury a chewie while he's in there for safe keeping. Pea, however demands assistance to be put back up in bed. She can quite easily jump on the futon in the office by herself, or on the couch or loveseat as well. Even so, knowing I am awake and available, she will park herself in the hallway, facing whichever room holds the bed she wants to sleep on, stomp her fat, bow-legged Basset paws, and whine until I come whisk her up and put her back to bed. No one else is allowed to touch her. She even runs from Bill when he's tried to help. Nope--Mama's job.

After my surgery on Monday, I won't be allowed to lift anything heavier than five or ten pounds, including a certain spoiled brat Basset...I can just imagine how well this is going to go over! I can't have her stomping her paw paws in the hall, waking up Grandma with her tantrums--I may just have to quarantine her to the livingroom where she'll have to content herself with the couch or loveseat for my time of incapacitation. The poor will she survive??

Friday, February 3, 2012

Hanging On

I want to say I'm not scared of today's appointment. I want to be bold and proclaim I know God's got my back. Not that I think for a second that He doesn't, but there's, if I'm really honest, that small part in my heart that asks if He did, why I am going through this? I'm human...I was a spoiled Daddy's girl growing up. And I am a spoiled wife by a loving, wonderful husband. But I have this precious little boy sleeping in the other room that is my life blood to love and protect from all harm and worry and I don't know what darkness waits for the two of us on the other side of this appointment today. I kinda hoped God would simply carry us easily, peacefully, through this move...I certainly didn't expect to bottom out upside down in this chasm along the way...

Maybe I'm being melodramatic, putting the panic cart ahead of the horse. But I don't know of any other circumstance, if there was nothing to be worried about, that they'd cram an appointment in between the surgeries of a neurosurgeon. Surgery days are for surgery. If it was nothing to worry about, my appointment could wait until he had office hours. Maybe cram me in between a couple other patients, but between surgeries? Come on--that's not normal.

Of course they won't tell you anything over the phone. Rushed in prescriptions that I had to start immediately. Then we have to swing by the hospital to pick up my films from the MRI and the report from the EEG, head to my doctor's office and get those records to bring along--I thought they faxed all this stuff or could send it over the computer?? When did patients become messenger services??

I am thankful they've postponed my TEE this morning so I can at least have my coffee and breakfast rather than starve and suffer through another caffeine deprived headache, and that I won't have anything slipped down my throat--today, anyway. I am VERY, very thankful for my friend, Missy, and my uncle who have graciously made time to take me to all these appointments and all my friends who are ushering words of encouragement and praying over me--I definitely couldn't do all of this without you guys!!

I found this quote from Stormie Omartian's Just Enough Light for the Step I'm On:
"As you take one step at a time, holding God's hand and letting Him lead, He will get you where you need to go."
So, I'm taking one step at a time today...that's all I can do. And I'll let Him get me there, through His infinite grace and mercy. And I can still be scared....aren't we all scared of something? Just gotta keep hanging on...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Cup of Water Ministry

The Spirit had put on my heart a few years ago to become involved with prison ministries. I wasn't so sure this was something I'd want to do. Prisoners? Sounded a little scary to me and I put it off, thinking this really wasn't for me. Surely God had other plans and I would happily follow whatever that might be. But that feeling remained and I was continually prompted to reach out.

I finally gave in and contacted a few different agencies over the past couple of years but never received any responses. Again and again I felt the Spirit weighing on me to keep trying and in December I contacted one more agency, the Cup of Water Ministries I had found online. They were looking for pen pals for prisoners, and this was right about the time I had begun in earnest my snail mail quest last year. So, maybe some of those letters and cards could go to a prisoner...I sent one more inquiry to Cup of Water. And heard nothing...

Until last week. I received an email from the ministry's president finally acknowledging my earlier request to tell me how to begin writing as one of their pen pals for prisoners. Last week. In the aftermath of all this seizure trauma and the resulting follow up tests and worries, the heartache of Bill leaving, and stress of starting to show the house. Life couldn't possibly be more hectic--this is when I'm supposed to begin writing. God's timing really astounds me at times...leaves me sitting here shaking my head. Really? Now?

So why get involved with a prison ministry? Because we are called to do so in the Bible. "Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body." ~Hebrews 13:3. "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’..."-Matthew 25:35-39

Don't we all deserve hope? Don't we all need encouragement? I am scared out of my wits right now, as so many prisoners are as well, I am sure. But at least I'm in the comfort of my home, surrounded with people I love and the freedom to come and go anywhere I want, whenever I want. All of us make mistakes. It's not up to us to judge but rather to offer hope, love, and to share Christ's peace. We are all forgiven in Jesus.

So I sent my first letter this morning. It's an email system so I can't really count it toward my snail mail goals. But personal address information is protected, mine and theirs. Email addresses are kept private as well. I'm interested to see where this will lead and look forward to sharing lives and hope with another friend in Christ.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Love

Reading this morning's post on A Holy Experience about love and marriage made my heart swell. I have been through so many ridiculously bad relationships then God brought me Bill.

We are polar opposites. Him so bold, so unabashed--loud, out there, hungry for life. Me meek, quiet, longing to be invisible, happy to hide inside our comforting walls of home. People wonder how we ended up we fit. All I know is how thankful I am that we do.

He would (and does) do anything for me. He lives to make me happy. He works so hard to let me stay home to be here for Michael. To write, to paint, to take care of our family, our fur and feathered babies. Always he encourages me. Even, and especially, when my own courage runs low. I know without the slightest doubt that he would never let me down.

How lucky am I? My soulmate...I love you!! Thank you for all that you are, all that you do...

Now his head's all gonna swell...look out! Miss you baby...