Social media has given us the opportunity to observe our friends more carefully... at least through their status updates and relationship changes and photos. A quick scan of my news feed has replaced phone calls... just as phone calls replaced the coffee klatch...There was a time as a young mommy that I would start my day with a coffee klatch every day. There were a group of about five of us who were stay at home moms with kids in elementary school and middle school... who also had preschoolers at home... we would drop the big kids off and then stop off at our friend Laura's house for a cup of coffee before going on with our day. We would catch up on all the local gossip over a cup of coffee every morning. That was fifteen years ago... and I can't imagine the same thing happening today.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Posted by Heather at 5:35 AM
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Yesterday I went to Walmart on lunch. This is significant because I jealously guard my midday break for resting my back so that I can make it through the rest of the workday... and because I really don't like the tiny little Walmart that is right around the corner from my office. They're building a new one a mile down the road, maybe I'll like it better. At any rate... at some point in my travels over the weekend I managed to lose my cellphone charger. No worries... I thought... I'll just pop into Walmart and pick up a new one. Except... this little "wannabe a Walmart when it grows up" didn't have my charger. The nice man who helped me look said it would be hard to find. Great.
Posted by Heather at 6:16 AM
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Do you pray?
Posted by Heather at 6:21 AM
Monday, March 28, 2011
This is my Aunt Ginger with her older daughter, Christie, Christie's husband Nathan, their baby Cole and my cousin Amanda's son Rowan...
Christie is expecting a baby... don't know yet if it's a girl or a boy...
This is a mass of cousins... my Aunt Linda's three sons, my brother Jim and Cousin Christie..
and of course this is my Cody... and daughter in law Marquee...
We thought this was hilarious... looks like that cellphone commercial...
more cousin pics...
I spent some time with my cousin Rik figuring out who was who in his family. His sister Tammy (far right, in the pink) is the oldest grandchild... I'm gonna try to name these folks while my memory is fresh... Uncle Bill is the one wearing the hat... beside him is Aunt Connie, My cousin Rik's wife Vanessa... then Rik, his son Erik, Cousin Tammy and her husband Jim.. then the front row is Tammy's daughters Jennifer and Hannah, Rik's son Chase, and Rik's daughters Rachel and Mikalia
This is just a fraction of our family... I think you know most of us ... my three younger brothers and their families were not there.
My favorite photo and it's a bit out of focus... Driving down on Saturday was fine for me, pain wise but yesterday I started the day in pain and by the time I spent two hours sitting on the hard metal picnic benches, I was in agony... with the drive home still ahead. Somehow... I managed to forget my bag with all my clothes, makeup, meds, laptop... everything... at my parents house. I remembered when we were about 45 minutes from their house. I called Jim and he had left but was much closer so they went back and got my stuff.
Posted by Heather at 5:14 AM
Sunday, March 27, 2011
the family homestead... my parents house on the left... Cody and Marquee's house on the right. As usual... my mom's car is parked in Cody's driveway because any chance he gets, he prefers to drive hers!
Posted by Heather at 9:20 AM
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Pole dancing for Jesus. I was sure I misunderstood what they were saying... but, no... they said it. Pole dancing for Jesus. I googled it. Apparently... it's stripper dancing to Christian music. Anybody want to take a class with me?
Posted by Heather at 8:56 AM
Thursday, March 24, 2011
"You don't look a day over fabulous"
Posted by Heather at 8:01 PM
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Posted by Heather at 6:20 PM
Behold, you have instructed many,
and you have strengthened the weak hands.
Your words have upheld him who was stumbling,
and you have made firm the feeble knees.
But now it has come to you, and you are impatient;
it touches you, and you are dismayed.
Is not your fear of God your confidence,
and the integrity of your ways your hope?
That's from Job, chapter 4.
Blogging a little bit later this morning. I really felt the need to have my quiet time before I blogged... was searching for a word of encouragement or wisdom.
Ok. The truth is... I feel like I'm a lukewarm Christian. I'm strong on faith as far as believing that God can and will, there's no doubt about that ... but I'm weak on doing the things that God wants me to do. My relationship with God isn't as reciprocal as it should be. I'm a work in progress. I don't know that I could call my life "devout". I do know... that I have a gift for encouragement... which is why I write, why I send cards... I know it's not because I'm such a great, compassionate, merciful person. The truth is, in my natural self, in my worldly self, I'm very catty and sometimes mean. I'm very southern. I know how to keep up appearances.
The paragraph above was part of what Job's friend Eliphaz, the Temanite had to say to Job. This is the cool thing that I find about the bible... you can debate all day long about whether it's the actual Word of God... whether the men who translated it had their own personal agenda... whether it's literal, etc, etc. Say what you will... that passage was a powerful encouragement for me today. To me it says, "follow your own advice"... and it's a beautiful example of how a Godly friend can help lift you up...
I am hurting. I'm scared, truth be told. I'm afraid that it's going to come down to me having surgery to relieve the pain. It gets worse every day. I'm tired.
There is another passage in the 5th chapter that talks about how God disciplines those He loves. I am acutely aware that God is "correcting" me. I asked for it... I asked Him to draw me closer to Him and He has. I struggle with the concept of a God who "corrects"... we want Him to be this benevolent Santa Claus who gifts us, blesses us, gives us special powers... it's a harsh reality that the more you love someone, the more extreme measures you'll take to make sure they're on the best path. I asked for it... and it is transformational. I can't count on my own financial strength. I can't count on an earthly partner. I can't even depend on my own physical ability. I need Him.
I'm battling waves of nausea this week. Had to break out the anti-nausea meds last night. Not sure if it's a side effect of the steroids or just ... who knows. Usually that kind of nausea comes from my sensitivity to medications... but the only new meds in my system are the steroids. I'm having tons of muscle spasms, tingling, numbness... and the hits just keep on coming. Yesterday's post sounded more lonely and pitiful than I meant for it to... there are definitely some loyal, loving people in my life who are faithful to lift me up in prayer... And there are people who are just over it. Either way... I know that God does put people in my path who are willing and able to minister to me and I'm so grateful for their support.
Posted by Heather at 7:35 AM
Monday, March 21, 2011
I arrived at a conclusion on Monday: when people stop asking how you're doing, it's because they're tired of hearing about it. Like that commercial of the woman with the obnoxious arm cast who rattles on through the whole commercial about how miserable she is. I have become that person that people are afraid to ask, "how are you?" It's almost as if ... if we just avoid talking about it, it will go away. Reminds me of the nurse at my regular doctors office who called and said, "we have the results of your MRI. it shows two bulging discs. if you're still having pain..." IF?
Anyways...It is what it is. I worked all but two hours yesterday. The pain was washing over me in waves along with some pretty strong nausea. Couldn't take it any more and left around 3:30pm. Someone said to me the other day that I'm a strong woman... I don't feel strong. I feel afflicted. My nerves are so raw. I'm so tired. How do people live this way? What do you do when you run out of sympathy? I mean... whether you ask me how I am or not, I'm still in pain. It's like on an award show when the applause ends before the recipient of the award reaches the stage. Awkward silence... are you still appreciated without the applause? If the pain outlives the sympathy, is it still legitimate?
It makes me wonder how long it will be before people avoid me altogether because they don't want to hear any more about it. Will people stop reading my blog... or skim over the parts that talk about my back pain? There are already people in my life who have drifted away. I don't know how to be anything other than my authentic self. I'm simple that way: whatever is closest to the surface is what is most likely to come up in conversation. The bottom line is that things are getting worse... not better. I have more muscle weakness, more muscle spasms, more pain... and now more nausea than I did on the very first day this hit.
I've been reading Job... you know how they say, "misery loves company"? When you're miserable... you read Job. Here's a passage from the third chapter:
24 For sighing has become my daily food; my groans pour out like water. 25 What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. 26 I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”
If God permits in His wisdom what He could have prevented with His power it is for this purpose: that we would bow our knees and say "yes lord, your will be done."
I haven't lost sight of the fact that this pain began on the same day I prayed, "Lord, show me your power"... not that I feel that God has afflicted me. Honestly, I believe my human condition, my finite, mortal body has failed because I didn't take care of myself. I asked too much of my back.
However... I will say this... a friend of mine from childhood, a breast cancer survivor, passed along a prayer request yesterday for a young lady who has been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. My friend noted that this woman was in good health, a vegan... almost as if she didn't deserve to have cancer and implicating that people who have a poor diet and don't exercise "deserve" it. We have that tendency, don't we? To look for "reasons" for an illness. I know my friend doesn't really feel like anyone "deserves" to get sick... it's just a matter of trying to make sense of it all. I think it's our human response to try to claim power over sickness by rationalizing that people who eat healthy, exercise, keep a healthy weight couldn't get sick... and those who abuse their body by carrying too much weight, eating poorly, not exercising "deserve" to get sick.
We want to feel like we have control over things that we really have no control over. I feel guilty for my pain. Literally. I feel bad that I'm not as good of a mother, employee, aunt, friend, etc... I feel like I need to apologize for being unable to do the things that people want/need/expect me to do.
Yesterday I saw this quote and it stopped me in my tracks: suffering doesn't create your spirit, suffering only reveals your spirit. I am doing everything in my power to mitigate the pain in my back... being my own advocate, eating as healthy as I can, following doctors orders, getting whatever tests/treatments are recommended... but the pain is still there. So... while I'm in this season of life, for however it lasts, I have to structure my response to that season of trial to be a Godly response. I prayed that He would show me His power and He has. He has carried me. I'm not strong but God is. I don't have the energy or mental fortitude to handle continuous frustration and limitation but I know where to find the energy. All that I am NOT... He is. I have to make sure that the spirit revealed in me is what God intended.
I'm not one to suffer in silence. To quote Lady Gaga, "I was born this way"... I'm vocal. My 9th grade cheerleading sponsor once said about me that at first she thought I was a complainer... but the longer she got to know me, the more she realized that I was just a spokesman for people who don't speak up. I live out loud. No way around it. I believe it was by Divine Design. AND... I believe that every situation that I have given voice to, has been a blessing to someone somehow. So... this is the topic that is most prevalent in my heart and mind right now... and if you'd like to join me on this journey from survival to revival, I'd love to have your company. IF it's too much... if this topic doesn't interest you, that's ok too. One day when you're suffering (because we all will, at some time in our lives)... you may want to check back with me and learn from what I've learned.
Today I'm asking God for strength in my arms and legs... I'm so weak and shakey. I'm asking for enough relief from the pain for long enough that I can be productive at work. I'm asking Him for a financial blessing for myself and my employer. I want to be the best me I can be... and I'm asking that He bless Austin while he's taking some really important tests this week. Like the old hymn says, "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow"... that's what I'm asking for... and if you're someone who has lived with long term pain... let me know what has worked for you and how I can pray for you!
Happy Tuesday, y'all!
Posted by Heather at 6:55 PM
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Worst back pain yet. Muscle spasms that won't stop. I'm over it. I know you're tired of hearing about it. It's just my new reality... like being single... I'll get used to it. The numbness in my feet is worse. I'll confess... I'm discouraged. I thought that once I got to the Pain Clinic, that they would be able to resolve this. I'm no better than I was a week ago. Definitely dreading a long day at work and the pain it's sure to bring.
More from The Shack to start our week... a little background... The Shack is about a man whose family has suffered a Great Sadness that turned their world upside down. The central character, Mack, is drawn to the scene of this Great Sadness and when he gets there... he finds himself face to face with the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All three are in human form allowing him to have very real conversations with them and get to the bottom of his Great Sadness.
This is an excerpt - a conversation between Jesus and Mack.
"so why don't you fix it," Mack asked, munching on his sandwich, "the earth, I mean."
"because we gave it to you"
"can't you take it back?"
"of course we could but then the story would end before it was consummated"
Mack gave Jesus a blank look.
"have you ever noticed that even though you call me Lord and King, I've never really acted in that capacity with you? I've never taken control of your choices or forced you to do anything, even when what you were about to do was destructive or hurtful to yourself and others"
Mack looked back at the lake before responding.
"I would have preferred that you did take control at times. It would have saved me and the people I care about a lot of pain"
"To force my will on you," Jesus replied, "is exactly what LOVE does not do. Genuine relationships are marked by submission even when your choices are not helpful or healthy.... submission is not about authority; it is all about relationships of love and respect."
NOW... this book is, of course, fictional and Jesus and Mack didn't REALLY have this conversation but.. I can imagine such a conversation taking place. My viewpoint is that I do serve a living God and that he walked among us here on earth in human form so it's not outside the realm of possibility to have a face to face conversation with him. I believe the disciples did. BUT... more than anything, I believe it could happen because I do believe that our relationship with Christ is built on love and respect and choice. Also, I believe that my relationship with God is built on grace, mercy and forgiveness. I would have preferred to never have made a mistake (I'm a bit of a perfectionist)... but I know that so many of the wrong decisions/mistakes I have made over the course of my life have served to make me a stronger person *in spite of myself*. AND... there is no greater security in a relationship than knowing you can mess up and still be loved.
I always try to approach things on my blog from my position of faith yet also respecting those who have different beliefs, who maybe don't feel as strongly as I do about there being one God, one path to eternal salvation. I'm not a great evangelist. I wasn't gifted that way. My responsibility - my purpose - my "mission", if you will, is to tell my story in my way as best I can. So I will tell you this: I talk to God... just like Mack talked to Jesus... I have those same conversations. And I'm willing to risk being accused of talking to myself or having an imaginary friend because I know that when I talk to Him, I feel better. I feel comforted. I find my path. I find mercy and grace and forgiveness. I even find healing (although you wouldn't know it from the past two months).... but I do find it. I don't mind praying out loud in a group because I talk to Him so much, it comes naturally for me.
Having said that... my heart is heavy for a few ladies in my life who are in transition, who are making big decisions, who are feeling overwhelmed and under prepared... God's divine design meant that we were created to need someone to stand in the gap for us... a strong shoulder to lean on... and there are those of us who by chance or happenstance ended up without that big, strong man to lean on. Here's what I do: I talk to God. I tell Him what I need. It's not news to Him, of course, but I believe that He waits until I ask for help... in the same way that I don't intervene in Ryan's life or Cody's life now that they are grown and independent. I mind my own business. I stay out of the way. I respect their ability to handle their own problems until they call and say, "Mommy... can you help?" and I do whatever is in my power and resources for them. Until they ask for help, I'm just interfering. My Abba Father does the same thing... He watches and waits until I'm in a place of humility... until I look up and say, "Father, God, I need you..."
I don't believe it's by accident that God has brought several women into my life who are in similar circumstances to my own. I don't believe it's coincidence that God has made me uniquely able to relate to their special challenges. The world sometimes seems to be divided between the Haves and the Have Nots as far as a life partner is concerned... and I am painfully aware of how difficult the journey can be for those who are in the Have Not camp. Just know, sweet sisters, that I am praying for you... and you... and yes, you too, and I believe that the Creator of the Universe is deeply concerned with you. I believe that He knows your heartache, He knows the loneliness, the fear, the frustration... He knows how your heart breaks for your children, He knows the limits of your budget, He knows the physical pain and emotional pain that you are suffering.
All of us have some Great Sadness in our lives... and all of us have the opportunity to go to The Shack and meet with the Great Healer who can ease the pain from that Great Sadness.
That's my reason to love Monday this week.
Time to glam and dash. Please pray for me... love and hugs!
Posted by Heather at 6:32 PM
Hard to believe this is my fourth day of rest in a row and I'm still barely able to move. I'm trying not to get discouraged but... every time I move, muscle spasms set in and the pain is unholy. I'm already praying about Monday because there is no way I can NOT work and I know it's going to be difficult. I'm too young to feel this old.
Other random topics tripping through the dark and dusty corridors of my mind:
watermelon for breakfast is awesome
the plateau is over... unfortunately, I've gained... i know it's partly the side effect of steroids and partly the fact that I've over-indulged in the past week
seriously, hardcore, back on track
if I could just get over my addiction to redhots
the weather has been perfect here... warm and sunny
i went into austin's room to turn off the tv last night and realized this kid has serious hoarding issues. i honestly think i need to get him psychological help for it. it's that bad.
even in the kitchen... he canNOT throw out an empty container. don't know what he's saving for.
watching lots of basketball over this extended weekend
battling a headache
not sleeping well, muscle spasms wake me up
will try to nap today in the recliner... seems to be the only comfy place
made an abbrieviated grocery run yesterday with austin's help
excessive news coverage of Japan has been replaced with excessive coverage of Libya
what a sad, scary, violent world we're living in right now
i have no room to complain about my light and momentary troubles with all the true misery in the world today
and I can't help but think that some of this is prophecy coming to pass
i tried watching some preaching and teaching on tv... but they all end up being an infomercial for whatever book that particular preacher or teacher is hawking
money changers in the temple
been trying to figure out what has my blood pressure up... if it's the stress of the chronic pain or if it's a medication that i'm on
i plan to have it checked again next week at my regular doctor, they'll do it for free
i worked so hard to control my blood pressure with diet. ugh.
Interesting question from The Shack:
Where do you spend most of your time in your mind, in your imagination: in the past, in the present or in the future?
I would say I spend a fair amount of time in the present, blogging, recapping, writing cards and letters about what's happening in my life right now...
I spend a lot of time reminiscing about the past, I think anyone with children who have left the nest can't help but remember those precious (and some not so precious) memories you made with your kids. Being on facebook also encourages me to flash back to remember the people I have reconnected with online. And there are truly some people who may have been more of a casual acquaintance than a friend at some time in the past who I have been able to get to know much better through facebook...
I don't think about the future much. I'm a little frightened of the future... not terrified, as I once was... but just handling today's issues is overwhelming for me right now... I think if I COULD focus my imagination more on the future, I'd feel a bit more inspired. I think one definition of "faith" would be to have courage about what the future holds. So... from that aspect, I'd say that my lack of focus on the future indicates a lack of faith. OR... you could say that really all I have is faith... I can't depend on a life partner or on financial security... I can't even depend on the strength of my own physical body because that has started to fail me... the only really secure thing in my future is my faith.
At any rate... hope you have a wonderful Sunday... love and hugs!
Posted by Heather at 8:47 AM
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Well... third day after the cortisone injection and I'm not finding any relief yet. I am still only comfortable when I'm reclined and on the "heating pad" (aka electric blanket). I tried sleeping in my bed last night and after a few hours had to get up. I kept waking up with horrible muscle spasms. I'm sure it will get better. Right?
At least my crazy appetite returned to normal yesterday. I got past the munchies without causing any major damage. I did a little cooking - chicken sausage with peppers and onions and spinach over orzo. And I think eating healthy food helped me beat the cravings. I've developed an addiction to red hots... which are not that bad in and of themselves but the sugar is such an appetite trigger for me... have to steer clear.
I'm getting a little stir crazy... I may get out and about a little later today.
One thing that has me wondering... I noticed that I have four refills on my neurontin and flexeril. If the pain doctor thought the cortisone was going to work, why give me that much of those meds?
Anyways... I'm enjoying watching lots of college basketball, playing lots of farmville, frontierville and cityville and reading The Shack. I've saved a few passages that I wanted to share with you...
"We are not three gods. and we are not talking about one god with three attitudes, like a man who is a husband, father and worker. I am one God and I am three persons and each of the three is fully and entirely the One."
"You can't share with one and not share with us all. Remember that choosing to stay on the ground is a choice to facilitate a relationship. You don't play a game or color a picture with a child to show your superiority. Rather you choose to limit yourself so as to facilitate and honor that relationship. You will even lose a competition to accomplish love. It is not about winning or losing but about love and respect"
This says a lot to me about Jesus' time on earth... how although he was God incarnate, he humbled himself - just like when we participate in games with our children that are far below our ability level and intellectual capacity, we want to commune with them and relate to them. Jesus related to us in the same way.
"Relationships are never about power and one way to avoid the will to power is to choose to limit oneself - to serve."
Aren't the BEST relationships in our lives the ones that are built on mutual respect? Where there is no power struggle, no need to determine who is subject to whom? Even if possibly we might be in a higher position, based on earthly standards, aren't we more fully fulfilled when we humble ourselves?
(about the trinity) "we have no concept of final authority among us, only unity. We are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command, or 'great chain of being' as your ancestors termed it. What you're seeing here is relationship without any overlay of power. We don't need power over the other because we are always looking after the best. Hierarchy would make no sense among us. Actually this is your problem, not ours. Humans are so lost and damaged that to you it is almost incomprehensible that people could live or work together without someone being in charge... this is one reason why experiencing true relationship is so difficult for you, once you have a hierarchy you need rules to protect and administer it, and then you need law and the enforcement of rules and you end up with some kind of chain of command or a system of order that destroys relationship rather than promotes it. You rarely see or experience relationship apart from power. Hierarchy imposes laws and rules and you end up missing the wonder of relationship that we intended for you "
I love this whole concept of relationship being a circle instead of being a chain of command. I love that we have the priviledge of entering into that circle with the trinity of God - father, son and holy spirit. But we miss that priviledge because we are so deeply programmed to have rules of order and chain of command imposed on every relationship in our life. We simply can't comprehend. This was the big deal about the temple veil being torn in two at the time of the crucifixion... the sacrifice of Jesus Christ made it possible for us to enter into the Holy of Holies. We have the priviledge of communing with God himself. Huge, huge priviledge.
"Creation has been taken down a very different path than we desired. In your world the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system- whether political, economic, social or religious - any system actually. First one person and then a few and finally even many are sacrificed for the good and ongoing existance of that system. In one form or another this lies behind every struggle for power, every prejudice, every war and every abuse of relationship.... as the crowning glory of Creation, you were made in God's image, unencumbered by structure and free to simply 'be' in relationship with God and one another. If you had truly learned to regard each other's concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy."
This passage strikes a chord with me because I have such strong feelings about how many churches have become more about the organization and rules than what the organization was designed to do. We become so interested in the rules and boundaries that we forget about the PEOPLE involved in the organization.
Don't misunderstand me... there are awesome, Godly churches out there (and I think mine is among them) but there are many churches - and entire religions that have become more concerned with tradition than with spirit. And God, definitely is spirit. How can you relate something spiritual in the context of something finite and dictated? The church is designed to minister to one another, that's why we all have different spiritual gifts. Because NOBODY is given all of the spiritual gifts, there is always a need for a Godly fellowship so that you are able to fully connect with a BODY of believers.
I have always felt the presence of God more completely when I'm walking in the woods... or driving my car with the windows down, singing at the top of my lungs or praying out loud... because I'm not concerned with rules and am free to worship him in spirit and in truth. I don't have to be concerned with the rules of etiquette that we have set forth in our churches... I have the freedom that God intended for our relationship to have.
And if you go a step further and apply this to human relationships, you understand why it's so important that we respect one another and love sacrificially. If you love someone so completely that you always want what's best for them - and vice versa - then there is no need for a power struggle or for a chain of command. Everyone is doing what's best for everyone else, therefore no one loses out.
This is definitely a very deep book... it really makes you think...
I'll share more as I get further into it.
I think I'm ready for a nap... hope you have a great Saturday! Love and hugs!
Posted by Heather at 10:44 AM
Friday, March 18, 2011
Thought I'd wake up this morning feeling ten feet tall and bullet proof... instead... I feel like I've been hit by a train. I can't sit up... I gave a little trial sit on my comfy couch and made it about thirty seconds before the pain was too intense. It feels like all my nerves were plucked... much, much more pain than I had ever been in before. Dr. Google says that it takes a few days for the meds to work... oy. Last night I was dizzy and headachey but that's not as bad today.
Posted by Heather at 6:02 AM