My People

My People
My People - Cosette, Austin, Oliver, Cody, me & Ryan. Just think, had I not lived, these people wouldn't be on the planet. They are my whole heart!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Whiny Wednesday - the long and winding road

I've got a few of my own things to whine about but the first thing that struck me this morning was a news report that 35 kids who were being supervised by DFCS in Atlanta have died since December 2011. In other words... a dozen kids a month murdered... parents or caregivers who were supposed to be supervised in their care of these kids... and the kids died.

Duncan Bridge Rd
And three kids who were killed at school this week. There is an expectation that when a kid climbs on the bus in the morning that he'll be getting back off that same bus (or a reasonable facsimile) that afternoon. It's incomprehensible to me that some random kid who is dealing with some mental illness or misplaced rage can get their hands on a weapon, take that weapon into the school and shoot other kids.

In my mind... childhood should be protected... the world is a tough place and people can be mean... but childhood should be the time that you feel most loved and sheltered and unaware of heartache and pain. All life is precious but children, in my mind, have a right to be safe. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and a safe childhood. Is that too much to ask?

Austin's high school with a tractor out front... made us both crack up!
This is all so much more poignant to me on this very last day that I will ever in my life be the parent to a person who can be classified as a minor... tomorrow all of my babies will legally be adults. By the Grace of God... I never had to bury a child... I never had to pick someone up from jail... God knows they've all done things from time to time that COULD have landed them in jail... but they've been lucky. Or smart. Or both.
Helen Highway... 


I now get to enter that phase of life where I smile and nod sympathetically to mothers of young children... where I can admonish them that these years will pass faster than you ever could imagine. You lose sight of that in the endless piles of laundry... the countless hours spent at the little league field... the feeling that you are no more than an ATM... THEY REALLY DO GROW UP EVENTUALLY. The road is long and the rewards sometimes far apart... but it is so worth it.

It was so hard. It was harder than I have the words to express. And even though I don't see my boys as often as I would like... I am so very proud of who they grew up to be. They are my three greatest accomplishments in this life... and forever, I will know, that the world is a different place because of the time I spent... from November 14, 1986 thru February 29, 2012... raising children.

Whiny Wednesday? I could complain about the broken underwire in my bra and the humidity that has my hair looking like Weird Al Yankovich and Roseanne Rosanna Danna had a child together...or the headache that won't go away... lots of selfish, inconsequential things. Instead... today... I want to just enjoy this last day of being a mommy. Hold them tight... they grow too fast.

Love and hugs, y'all.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Have you planned your funeral?

Yesterday morning on my way to work I was contemplating my funeral. Not in a macabre "I wont be around much longer" kind of way... from a production standpoint. I can promise you that if Purple Michael is involved there WILL BE a fog machine involved in some way... and I've always said that I want my memorial service to be casual dress because I don't believe anyone should have to wear stockings when they're grieving. Unless, like me, you need the stockings to hold things up and in... maybe a toga funeral? That would be awesome!

I also think that my brother should be the one to give the sermon but I hope he includes confession for the things he's done that pushed me closer to my maker... like the time he drilled a tiny hole in the ceiling over my bed... ran fishing line through the attic from my room to his... tied a plastic spider on my end and dropped that sucker on my face while I was sleeping. TALK ABOUT HEART FAILURE! I'm sure I lost ten years that night. And the time that he hid in my closet and waited for me to fall asleep and jumped out at me. Another ten.

Sometimes I think the fact that I'm still on the right side of the dirt is by sheer accident - because between four brothers and three sons and two temporary step-sons - I've had more than my share of  "just go ahead and take me, Jesus" moments. Most of them in jest, of course. Most of them.

Anyways... there are three songs... all of them "religious" that I want played... Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing... His Eye is On The Sparrow and Arise My Love. My friend Elaine used to say that since her church will avoid singing songs for six months or so after they're played at someone's funeral - out of respect to the grieving family - she was going to have them play one of those songs in the hymnbook that nobody really likes, something like, "God Give Us Christian Homes"... and I've considered that... but we sing based on what's put up on the wall - major media, you know? - not really out of a hymnbook. If I think of a song that we collectively dislike as a church, I'll add it to the playlist.

My funeral is also going to require refreshments in the vestibule for the Jehovah Witness family members who can't go into our sanctuary. And we'll have the wetbar set up in the pool area of the Ramada Inn next door for those family members (and friends) who are convinced that lightning will strike if they set foot in a church period. There really is a Ramada Inn next door to our church. Actually... the church is set between two hotels. I picked the Ramada because it has an enclosed pool area.

I don't really know what got me thinking about this funeral stuff. I don't think I'm likely to die soon. It's like we say in the insurance industry... women are sicker but live longer so their health insurance is more expensive and their life insurance is cheaper. Men are healthier but die younger - probably figuring it's their only means of escape. That joke was funnier before divorce became so prevalent.

Yesterday was fairly ok for a Monday. It was a longer day since we had staff meeting at 8am. I was dragging tail when I got home and then my upstairs neighbor was on her deck enjoying the warmer temps. Haven't seen her in awhile... they smoke out front under the covered porch when it's cold and damp. She asked how my surgery went and if it cleared up my back pain. I was puzzled... and then I realized she didn't know what kind of surgery I had. *that awkward moment when someone thinks you had back surgery when you really had hemorrhoid surgery*  I've been candid with those who I thought could keep a straight face or HAD to know... been vague with those who I thought would be uncomfortable or would make ME uncomfortable... she's a CNA or LPN or some sort of almost nurse so I told her ... and then endured about ten minutes of medical advice about the best way to poop, complete with demonstration of the proper position.

This is why I'm vague with some people. I really just don't want to talk about my bowel movements in a voice loud enough to be heard from my driveway up to the patio above us. I prefer discussing poop in whispers. I prefer to only tell people who are going to NOT expand the conversation beyond the absolutely necessary exchange of information. Like y'all.

So anyways... it's Tuesday. What's new in your world?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Reasons to Love Monday Again And Again And Again....

One day my Jamie girl was singing the days of the week, "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday... " then she said, "Daddy! It's like a circle!" and Bubba said to her, "more than you know, Jamie... more than you know"...

I think about Jamie's Revelation often on Mondays. It's back. With the heavy weight of a week stretched out ahead of us. My headache is mostly gone, it feels like it's moved on to just being a "bruise" where the memory lingers, not the raging pain in my brain that plagued me all weekend.

My kitty cat is curled up beside me. He likes to lay as close as he can and then put a paw on me somewhere to sort of mark his place... or reassure himself that I'm close by. He's such a doll.

I'm having the "all over" kind of pain that I think is the fibromyalgia. I've never really embraced that diagnosis because my pain seems -usually - to be concentrated in my spine and spreading out from there... but I have some tender points and every single movement is painful... even something as simple as petting the cat.

Looks like it's gonna be Monday all day so we might as well get to it. And no matter how wounded and weary I feel, I've got to drag my bag of bones to the office and be useful and productive.

SO... let's get to those pesky Reasons to Love Monday:
1. It may be basic but I've got to start somewhere: I'm thankful for a job, a car to get there, gas in that car and the ability to drive. We take these things for granted but at one point or another in my life I've been without one or more of these things and it's not easy.

2. Despite having bronchitis... it's manifested itself more in shortness of breath than in much of a cough. I hate coughing so although I'd rather not deal with bronchitis AT ALL... I'm grateful that the suffering has been minor. Not coughing is DEFINITELY a reason to love Monday!

3. My blood pressure is now 135/91... much better than it has been!

4. I can't wait to get home after work to see the Oscar recaps. I stayed awake for the Red Carpet but fell asleep before the ceremony even started!

5. Number five is The Five. I love that show. I get home in time to watch the last 5 or ten minutes of it and it cracks me up. It's my reward for a long day of work.

6. Three more days until my Austin's birthday. He'll be 18. Have I mentioned this before? Probably a thousand times. It's so surreal to me that I have raised my three babies to adulthood. This birthday is as much of a milestone to him as it is to me.

7. I splurged on a big container of fresh melon for my breakfast today. I can't wait! That... plus this new diuretic... should keep me dashing between my office and the potty all day... glad that I've got the office closest to the potty!

8. Neil Patrick Harris who I *heart* will be co-hosting Live with Kelly this morning. Obviously, I won't be home to see it but I'm sure I'll be able to catch a rerun of it SOMEWHERE. You can find just about anything you want to see (and a lot of stuff you DON'T) on the internet these days.

9. I bought the Sunday paper yesterday so I have coupons to clip! Woohoo! I'm also going to go to my trusty coupon clipper site to get more of the specific coupons - they charge a percentage of the savings - so if you want a $1 off coupon that they have... you pay 8 cents for it. You have to pay for mailing - a 45 cent fee - but you can get a bunch of coupons for that one fee and if you're getting coupons for the stuff you KNOW you buy every week... it's inevitable that you will save. That allows me to use coupons without having to be what Austin calls, "Coupon Crazy" because I don't drag around lots of random coupons... I'm just toting the ones we're definitely going to use.

10. Payday is Thursday! I'm still not getting as much in commission as I'd like to... and not as much as my boss would like to give me... but I'm working hard and I know that hard work HAS to pay off at some point. Otherwise... if hard work doesn't pay off... then I will know that God is moving me in a different direction. Either way... hard work... knowing that I did my best... that's an awesome reward in itself and I'm glad for the opportunity to go to work and push myself again today.

Hope wherever you are, whatever you're doing... that you will find LOTS and LOTS of Reasons to Love Monday!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

boring little quiet peaceful weekend here in the nest

Battling a miserable headache this morning... yesterday... I guess all weekend. Therefore I am less than my normally articulate self. Subsequently, any recap of my weekend would be miserably boring. However, I will attempt, nonetheless.

Yesterday morning I went to the gas station and filled up my car. The price at the Cleveland Ingles was $3.59 per gallon. My total was about $28. I have a small tank.

I then went to the grocery store and picked up enough groceries to get us through a few days. More than a few days. I'm trying to build a decent pantry and freezer full - not in that *coupon crazy* doomsday sort of mentality but just so that if I'm not up to going to the store, we don't end up eating ramen noodles. Not that there's anything wrong with ramen noodles or that we're above eating ramen noodles. It's just that ramen noodles are low on nutrition and high on sodium. I can't remember how much I spent at the grocery store but I can tell you that I stocked up on freezer items, ready to eat food (ugh. high sodium) and juice - because i was thirsty. I also stocked up on condiments because for some reason... condiments seem to get sucked into that great hoarding vortex of Austin's room. Every time I go on a recon mission in his room there is inevitably a half used bottle of ketchup and a jar of peanut butter among his diverse biological experiments.

After the grocery store I went to McDonalds and picked up Austin's 2 bacon, egg and cheese McGriddles, picked myself up an egg mcmuffin (because the last time I got oatmeal at that McDonalds they didn't mix it properly and it was stone cold) and a large sweet tea - for Austin. Not for me. I was drinking my usual grocery store treat of carrot/fruit juice blend that they sell in the produce section.

Next up... (still with me?) ... to Rite Aid to pick up my antibiotic for my bronchitis and the diuretic that the doctor thinks will help lower my blood pressure. I also had two refills waiting that I forgot were waiting. Not that I have skipped any medications... I just stocked up at the end of the year and therefore have a little surplus. I'm totally sounding like someone who lived through the depression with my surplussing. If that's a word.

THEN... to the library to return the books that were supposed to go back last week.
and... home before 9:30am, back into my pjs... groceries put away... spent my day surfing the net and watching tv. oh... and battling the effects of the diuretic and antibiotic. I'll spare you the details... just suffice to say that yesterday I was worthless and loving it.

And here I am again today... right at 9:30am... and once again... up before the sun... stupidly high blood pressure for having spent the day chillin' yesterday... insanely painful headache... sick from the antibiotic... battling random nose bleeds... miserable nausea... and thanking God with all my heart that I don't have to leave my house for the next 22 hours.

We were completely out of cat food so I had to drag the disgruntled teen out of bed to go with me to the dollar store where we buy our cat food - $8.50 for a 13 pound bag which will last us a month, give or take a few days. It's a shame you can't feed a teenager as cheaply as you can feed two cats. I also let Austin buy a new set of headphones and a big jar of cheesy poofs as a reward for tagging along so early in the day.

We drove through Glenda's and ordered two CHICKEN plates with scrambled eggs, grits, gravy and biscuits for breakfast... Austin noted that I never sounded more country than I did when ordering at Glenda's... I guess it's like ordering in Spanish at a Mexican Restaurant... I speak country at Glenda's... which apparently, I'm not that good at because we came home with two BACON plates instead of CHICKEN plates. And since my blood pressure is already high, I didn't dare eat bacon, so Austin had about a dozen slices of bacon with his breakfast.

I stopped off at the Exxon to pick up a Sunday paper... and now we are home again... settled in... finally able to take something for the headache.... and waiting for the purple unicorns to start flying by....

On a more serious note... Jim and I grew up with several sibling duos, you know, younger sibling in my classes, older sibling in his... apparently the two year spacing for children was popular in the sixties... well, yesterday Alisa, (who is my age) lost her sister Heather (who is Jim's age) after a decades long battle with lupus. I've never lost a sibling... but I know how important my older sibling is in my life and I know that even though Heather suffered quite a bit, I know that her family is grieving her loss. 45 is much too young... Please keep Alisa and her family in your prayers.

Also, a little bittersweet Daytona race today... Austin and I couldn't help but think of my ex-brother-in-law Tim who passed last May... he loved Nascar. He would be firing up the grill and blasting the surround sound until it shook the walls... Austin said we should get a six pack and drink in his honor... but of course, since I don't drink and Austin is too young to drink... we're just remembering him with love today.

Hope you all have a great Sunday... love and hugs...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Jehovah Shalom - Jesus is my peace

Friday just feels different from the other days of the week to me. I woke up at 3am because of a kitty kissing me... convinced him that we wanted more sleep... woke up again at 4:30 and realized my body couldn't stay in that horizontal position any longer so we got up. On Mondays there are heavy leg irons clamped on me... I drag my weary body to the kitchen on Tuesday... on Wednesday I'm bent and broken.... on Thursday it seems like it will never end... and on Friday... the cartoon bluebirds circle around me... I skip, float, glide into the kitchen while the Disney music plays in the background.

I love my job and I'm so grateful that God has blessed me with this career path... and I'm so grateful that my employer has been understanding about my health situation and hasn't fired me, because let's face it... I haven't had great attendance or performance lately... but I feel a heavy weight of stress because I know that I am the weakest link ... and in my mind... that makes me afraid to make any mistake.... to not use the perfect word tracks when talking to clients... to not have the same production numbers that the other team members have. It's a heavy emotional burden and yesterday, I felt the weight so greatly - for no specific reason - that when I left for lunch I was literally shaking. I prayed, I ate, I rested and I calmed down but still, I left work yesterday fearing that I had sent in the wrong police report for a client and I'm determined to get to work early today to make sure and fix it if I need to because I.just.can't.mess.up. That fear... it grips my heart at times...

But yesterday... I felt a spirit of comfort ... that peace that passes understanding... some of you know what I mean... and I remembered this passage... this is the passage that brought me here... when I was in the depths of despair in Jacksonville and so, horribly, unbelievably afraid of my future.... I couldn't comprehend what life would be like apart from Michael... not because I WANTED to be with him, not in the way that our life was going... but because I didn't know what the next season would bring. And my sweet sister-in-law shared this verse with me...


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

She referenced the first verse... and not long after I got here I put the whole passage in context... and a week or so ago I wrote it on a sticky note and put it on my desk for reassurance...and today, on www.biblegateway.com ... where I go every morning to get a verse to focus on in the early morning hours before I start my blog entry... that was the passage for today.  Out of all the verses in the bible.... reported to be 7959 verses (I didn't count for myself)... those verses are continually being brought to my attention.

Coincidence? Maybe. I don't think so. For me, again, to be in a season where it's difficult to comprehend the NEXT season of life. One way or another, there will come a time when I am no longer able to work. The future is blurry, the path is unclear. Even if I get approved for disability on my first attempt... which never happens... I'm going to spend a period of time waiting, likely with little or no financial resources... I don't know what happens while I'm waiting. I just know that He knows and that eases my fear.

In Jacksonville... when I felt like there was no way for me to have hope and a future... that's when I gave up. I'm determined to not give up, regardless of what happens... how it happens... when it happens. Yet, I will tell you that I am also determined to keep my focus on my Jesus who brings me peace me when I am afraid. I am determined to seek God with all of my heart so that I can know His plans for me and have no fear. My two rings on my "wedding ring finger" are a tiny little ring that says, "hope" and a bigger, more sturdy ring that says, "faith"... a little hope and a lot of faith... that's what will carry me through.

And of course... the way that God blesses.... Austin's mentor from his Catalyst class took him out to dinner at the new Western Sizzlin in town last night. Austin was excited and I was relieved that I didn't have to cook microwave dinner for him.  I had two basil rolls from the Thai restaurant that I saved from lunch so we were all set and I had a very peaceful evening. (Love Austin but he's still fairly high maintenance when it comes to my attention).

I went to the doctor yesterday for a re-check on my blood pressure. The doctor was concerned  and added a second medication and we'll look at my blood pressure for the next two weeks and then re-evaluate. He wants to keep close tabs on it and do fasting blood work when I come back. I also found that my shortness of breath and wheezing that I've been feeling occasionally over the last two weeks is bronchitis. I haven't had much of a cough so I just thought it was related to the high blood pressure and/or stress and anxiety. They want to recheck that in two weeks since for me, it never clears up in one round of antibiotics and more often goes into pneumonia. He's hitting it with a z-pack first... and then go to something stronger if it isn't cleared up.

Our tax return came in yesterday so I went ahead and paid as many of the bills that come due in March as I could. My goal is to NOT be in a situation where we're living paycheck to paycheck. I am determined to build us a small cushion. I'd love to be able to know that our bills are paid through the time of Austin's graduation. That's my finish line... if I can get us through to that point... if I can just keep working until his graduation... I can't let anything happen that makes him have to change schools again because he's so close. So close. When we moved here I promised him we wouldn't move until he graduates and I want so desperately to hold to that promise.

Well.... I've boo-hoo'ed through most of this blog entry. Sometimes putting my fears into words is cleansing and it's a big part of the reason I blog... and tears seem to be the inevitable result of seeing those fears in black and white.

I know these things to be true: God is good. He already knows my future and although it's all a great mystery to me, He has already gone ahead and made a way for me. He always. makes. a. way. He will for you too. Love and hugs, y'all!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thankful for a God who heals....

After yesterday's post about Lent and my determination to use it not to specifically give something up... but instead to use it as an opportunity to adapt more of Jesus' character into my own character... a lively discussion ensued on my facebook about the meaning of Lent, self-sacrifice, etc. spearheaded by my Uncle Bill. I love when something I've blogged about encourages others to share their opinions and perspective! Ever since my brother and I used to go to Rocky Horror on the weekends... 25 years ago... I have loved audience participation. It validates for me that there are real people actually reading my blog.

So, I'm thankful for that today... learning from others.... seeing different perspectives... what a joy!

I have a doctors appointment this morning to figure out what to do about my high blood pressure. I'm thankful to finally be able to see a doctor since I've been trying to get in for almost a month now. I'm considering changing to a different doctor's office. The two lady doctors in the practice that I had been seeing have left and it's just men doctors and ... I'm ok with seeing a man but with as much stuff as I have going on, I need someone who brings a little compassion and empathy to the "table". I'll see how it goes today. Also... this elevated blood pressure situation has been going on for a year and everyone keeps passing it off as being related to pain or one particular medication or another but nobody wants to take any action to lower it. Three months ago I saw the doctor for... strep throat, I think it was... and my blood pressure was up. I expressed my concern about continually high readings and they wanted me to wait until THIS check up to see if it got better. SO today... I've going in with a determination that they will either do something to FIX it... or I'll find a different doctor.

I'm weary. My pain has been off the charts and my blood pressure being elevated makes me feel dizzy, short of breath, tired, disoriented... and in the midst of all that there's added pressure on me to perform at work and I'm trying... I've worked harder over the past two weeks than I have in a long time and I'm still not getting the results I need to succeed at work. I trust God. I believe that whatever is going to happen is in His hands and I know that sometimes we fail at something because God is leading us to something else. I'm not giving up... I'm making sure that I do the best I possibly can. My efforts are never in vain... when we struggle, even if we don't receive the desired results, we still develop our character and learn just how far we can stretch ourselves.

In the midst of my own self-pity... I see these news reports of people who are truly suffering in a way that, by the grace of God, I doubt I ever will. The Christian man in Iran who is facing death for being a Christian. The people in Syria who are being killed by their own government. My brother is going to Haiti next week... where, two years after the earthquake, many are living in tents and battling disease and hunger. There are so many people in this country who are unemployed and have no immediate hope of finding a job. There are people who are facing losing their home. There are children who are being abused. People in abusive relationships that don't see a way out. People battling addiction and losing the fight. There is pain everywhere, some of it is like mine... physical... and some of it is emotional.

Today... I'm working on learning more about Jesus as our healer. Jehovah Raphe - the Lord our healer. I studied a bit in Matthew and Mark yesterday, absorbing some of the verses that describe Christ as healer. I tried to find something definitive that told how many people Jesus healed in the course of His ministry here on earth and I found no concrete answer. I guess we don't really know... but the fact is that He healed enough people that people followed him with the expectation of being healed.

There was an echo in my heart on that last phrase, "people followed Him with the expectation of being healed"... we still do that, don't we?

Modern medicine, despite all of it's advancements, isn't a 100% guarantee of healing. People still die.
Jesus' ability to heal and the willingness to heal didn't mean that every person He came into contact with continued in their mortal bodies forever. They still died.
There are times that people pray for healing and it doesn't come. It hasn't come for me.
Does that mean that I changed my belief that He can heal? No.
Does that mean that I am *less than* because He hasn't healed me? No.
I don't have all the answers. I don't know why some precious lives end far before "their time"... I don't know why some are healed and some aren't. In my life, I can say that pain has drawn me closer to Jesus. Dependence on Him for strength to get through the work day has taught me more about Him than I would have learned by never having struggled with my own mortality.
Just like with every other circumstantial crisis in my life... I wouldn't trade the struggle for what it taught me and what it brought me.
Divorce. Single parenting. Poverty. Fire. Health struggles. All of it draws me closer to Him. If I never had a problem, I'd never know that God could solve them.
I want to be healed but not if it keeps me from knowing Him better or accomplishing His Will and Purpose in my life.
I don't want to be a Crisis Christian or a Suffering Saint. But I do want to be able to answer those who are living with pain and say, "I know what you're going through" and it be sincere. I know that my life has given me a unique perspective for encouraging others. I want to be able to share the hope that comes from faith in God.

See... my healing... it might not happen here... but I am persuaded that in my life after my death... that I will be free of pain... and I want to convince others of this same hope. I'm thankful that He can heal. And I'm thankful that sometimes He doesn't.
Have a great day, y'all!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Whiny Wednesday meets Jehovah Jireh

In the wee hours of first waking up I was meditating over my blog entry for today, wanting to focus on Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. Kelly's Korner Blog entry discusses Lent and I'm sort of in the same boat she is... I'm Baptist, Southern Baptist if you want to get technical about it, although I generally describe myself as "home-churched" or "more spiritual than religious". I tend to work more on relationship than religion and although I see my salvation as faith based more than works based. I definitely believe that if you have a relationship with Jesus that people will see that in your character. We take on the character of those we spend a lot of time with... you know, just like how Madonna developed a British accent by living in the UK.

So with that disclaimer, I will say that I do see the season of Lent as a Holy time and a blessed opportunity to focus more on this Jesus that I so dearly love and the examples of His nature that I want to model in my own life. We don't have a crazy lot of luxuries in our life and I don't have habits that I see as something I could give up in a sacrificial manner. But there is no doubt that there is room for growth in my life... and if there's anyone whose example I want to follow, it's Jesus Christ... and I don't think I exhibit the fact that He is in my life as much as I should. And if I'm gonna exhibit more of Him in my life... I've got to focus more on who He is...

And since it's Whiny Wednesday, even if it IS Ash Wednesday... and so often I complain about what I don't have...I want to meditate on Jesus as a Provider.

Jehovah Jireh means our Lord who provides. I've got to tell you honestly that I am not comfortable with these preachers whose message is based on a "Prosperity Gospel" and how... you can "name it and claim it" and it will be. I do believe that He cares about our needs but I know that my testimony has been one of living with very little and having my Daily bread... not always my weekly bread and definitely not monthly bread. I live paycheck to paycheck and that requires a LOT of seeking God, a lot of faith... my whole adult life, just about, has been a Loaves and Fishes miracle.

If you haven't spent your life going to Sunday School... or teaching Sunday School... or being immersed in the stories of Jesus... I would encourage you to read through this account from John 6:1-15 - although I believe it's recorded in all 4 gospels, the only miracle of Jesus that is recorded in all four... at any rate... Jesus has a crowd following Him.... there's no money to buy food for them... and they find a little boy with five loaves and two fishes who is willing to share his lunch. Jesus breaks the bread and the fish and they are able to feed all of the people with 12 buckets left over.

I used to love having that lesson in Sunday School as a kid because inevitably, we'd have white loaf bread and fish sticks to demonstrate... and I loved both. (although it would have been awesome if my Sunday School teachers had thought to bring some tartar sauce)  It taught me that Jesus can take a very tiny sacrifice and make it into a huge blessing. He cares about us... he cares about our human needs. I believe Jesus had the power to make a feast appear - just like they did at Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter books. But instead of just manifesting something out of nothing... he took that tiny little sacrifice ... and blessed all those people. And there wasn't *just enough* there was MORE than enough.

I think it's also interesting that he doesn't take individual orders... did they want their fish grilled, fried or blackened? Did they want wheat or white bread? He gave them what they needed... until they were filled... and there was more than enough for everyone.

Would I rather have a fat bank account and a lot less stress in my life? Of course.... but having a life that continually presents needs that I can't fill myself... leaves me relying on a Jesus that I know really cares about what is happening to me. I see miracles every day... things that might be minor to others... things that others may take for granted... but things that I believe with all of my heart, happen because God is watching over me and protecting me from doing without. He takes my little bit of effort... and blesses it.

And because I have confidence in Him... it's easy for me to say to another believer who is in need, "I'm going to pray for you"... as I did on Monday when someone called me in tears about a financial crisis they were in... I don't know how it can be resolved, I didn't have any answers for them, but I knew that God was going to take care of them and meet their needs. I was faithful to pray.... sometimes that's the "loaves and fishes" that we bring... a small offering, a small sacrifice... that grows bigger through the touch of a Savior.

Phillipians 4:19 says, "and my God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus"  (NKJV)

I've quoted that verse hundreds of times and never noticed that it lists "need" singularly, not plural... and it includes the qualifier "by Christ Jesus"... if we had only one need... wouldn't it be salvation? and if we have only one way to salvation, wouldn't it be through Jesus Christ?  I have so much to learn. I'm going to dig a little deeper into this... and I hope you'll share with me your thoughts on the subject of Jesus as provider.

I think the inevitable conclusion, at least for me, is to have confidence that He will provide, accept what He gives and let it be enough for me.

My "whines" for the day? Here goes....
1. My back. Oh, my back. I know I often say that the pain has changed... and it does... just when I get used to it hurting one way or another... there's a new kind of pain. Maybe it's because I adjust my movements and the way I sit and so forth to adapt to how I hurt... and that puts strain on another area. I don't know, I just know it won't let me out of it's grip and I am weary of it. The past two weeks have been particularly painful.

2. Our dentist appointments went well... but... Austin has to go back to have some cavities filled and I have several things that I need to have fixed. We're going to do what we can, when we can on me...  but Austin is covered under the State for the next year and we need to get everything taken care of while he has good dental insurance. It's hard for me to miss work to take care of these things for him so I've got to work out some logistics that get him where he needs to be.

3. I've got a ton of upper respiratory congestion. It's aggravating and worrisome because these things so quickly turn into pneumonia or bronchitis and I just don't know that I can deal with something else draining my energy.

4. I couldn't get my doctors appointment for Thursday morning changed to yesterday so I will be late for work on Thursday. I can't NOT go, however, because my blood pressure has continued to be high on the medication I'm taking and it would be foolish not to get that under control.

I think that's it. Austin had a four day weekend so I imagine he'll be slightly grumpy when I wake him up but that's ok. I can handle him. It's Wednesday already! To God be the glory! Have a great day, y'all. Let me know what you're doing differently in your life between now and Easter. Love and hugs!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Celebrating Fat Tuesday...

"You can bake a cat in the oven but it will never be a biscuit" - Uncle John

Mercy. My mother has some interesting siblings. She's number six out of seven kids... all are still living... Al, Bill, David, John, Ginger, Norma and Linda... sprinkle in a couple dozen cousins and second cousins and first cousins once removed and we're a huge family. A huge... and very colorful family...Four of the elders are on Facebook and a bunch of cousins so I get to keep up with their various adventures. We didn't really spend much time with the brothers and their families when I was growing up so I don't know them as well as I do the children of my mom's sisters... with whom we spend most holidays.

I am even less familiar with my dad's family... he's the middle child... older brother, younger sister... Bruce, Jim, Claire... I've got three first cousins on that side of the family and about a dozen second cousins. I'm connected with a few of them through facebook.

Anyways... it's Tuesday. Monday was physically difficult but emotionally very peaceful. I had a couple of instances where I couldn't stand up using just my legs to support me... I had to brace myself with a hand on my desk and a hand on my window sill ... and push. It's a matter of time. Getting out of the car has been difficult lately too... I have to completely swing my body around so that both feet are on the ground and brace against the sides of the door to stand up. It's not pretty. There is definitely a "degenerative" aspect of this thing.

But today... Laissez les bons temps rouler! It's Fat Tuesday! Let the good times roll! I'm taking a vacation day today to take me and Austin to the dentist (something we have both neglected for the past three years....) we're getting him registered to vote... and I'm trying to move my doctors appointment that is scheduled for Thursday morning to this afternoon so that it's out of the way and I can go ahead and get any new prescriptions filled, etc.

I'm also hoping to get him motivated to do some job applications. I don't know how we'll manage transportation but I know we'll manage. One kid on his bus works at the new Western Sizzlin and the bus drops him off there after school. I'm hoping we'll be able to work out something like that. If nothing else, I'm just hoping to get him familiar with the process of completing an application, dressing appropriately for an interview, etc. Some of this will also be coming from his vocational rehab program.

Austin has set in his mind that he's going to college or technical school right after high school but the truth is... he hasn't taken the SAT or ACT... his GPA is barely passing... he doesn't have a lot of the absolutely necessary skills for further education... and he is in absolutely no way prepared to live apart from adult supervision. And he thinks that he won't have to work while he's going to college... I tried to make him understand, "whatever post high school education you receive... you will ALWAYS have to work... there's no way for me to support you for the next four years".

Sometimes the hardest thing about raising a kid with Asperger's is trying to change their perceptions of things to match the reality of the situation. Once he gets something in his head... he's violently stubborn. We had a blow up Sunday that was out of his misunderstanding of the order in which we were doing things. I try to give him as much information as I can so that he can understand why we do what we do... things like... "we're just picking up necessary items today because we only have X dollars in our checking account". So that he doesn't get upset every time I tell him "no" when he tries to put stuff in the cart. I also try to make sure he understands my physical limitations... which was a big part of the problem on Sunday. We had wet, cold weather which makes my back hurt so much worse.

Anyways... I don't know where I was going with all of this. I mean... when you start with the quote I used... what kind of sense can you make? So ... y'all have a great Mardi Gras... tomorrow we'll talk about Ash Wednesday and what we should give up for Lent... but today... have a great day! Love and hugs, y'all.

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Velveteen Rabbit Reasons to Love Monday

I'm having computer issues this morning... keeps freezing up on me. I think it's time to take this baby in for a tune-up. I have been wanting to talk to my computer guy about doing his business insurance so it would be worth a trip.

It's Monday. It rained all day yesterday... and I did a few chores that desperately needed to be done... and I'm feeling a lot of stiffness in my back. What's new?

I'm reading a book that Sandi Patty (Christian singer) wrote about her life and the struggles she's been through. It's "Broken on the Back Row" (I bought it on Amazon, used, for about $4, including shipping, not a bad deal). She's got an amazing voice... has had incredible opportunities... very successful in her career... and she has had some major issues. I'm drawn to people with cracks and scars and so forth... and I'm very much enjoying her book.

In her book she talks about some inspiration she received from the story of the Velveteen Rabbit which is a precious children's book ... if you haven't read it, you should... here's an excerpt:

“What is REAL?" asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day... "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?" 

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real." 

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit. 

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt." 

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?" 

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. 

"Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand... once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.” 
― Margery Williams BiancoThe Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become R


I am feeling very REAL right now. Droopy, limp, with parts that don't work as well as they should... and parts that aren't as pretty as they once were...  but I also feel like being REAL gives me an enormous capacity to connect with other REAL people. That's why Whitney Houston's funeral touched my heart so deeply. That's why I have been praying - and worrying - over a friend whose daughter is in a "crisis pregnancy" that is causing a rift in their family. That's why I can't be judgy and harsh to people in different lifestyles. I want to love them... with the same love that has been given to me.

There's another quote that I saw yesterday that really spoke to my heart...

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. - Albert Einstein

So much of our struggles in life come from trying to be something or someone we're not. I'm really meditating on that quote and what it may mean for the next season of life for me. Pain wise... health wise.. and for my mental well-being... I am a fish who has to stop trying to climb a tree.

My Reasons to Love Monday this week:
1. good coffee, good creamer, good start despite another high blood pressure reading
2. I think the rain has stopped. It's cold outside but hopefully the swamp outside my front door will dry up a bit before the next round of rain.
3. We don't have staff meeting this morning. woohoo!
4. I'm real. It took me a lot of tough love and hurt to get that way but I'm glad to be real and I'm glad to have people in my life who understand so that I'm never ugly to them.
5. I've had a great weekend spiritually and I'm entering into the week with optimism and encouragement.
6. Austin is out of school today and tomorrow so no before work teenage drama to deal with.
7. Speaking of the kid... he's been difficult over the past weekend ... we had a heated argument yesterday and I retreated to my nest. Later, he was conciliatory and although you couldn't quite consider it an apology, he extended an olive branch. That's progress.
8. I put away about half of the laundry that had become an increasingly growing mountain at the foot of my bed. It may not be completely done but it was progress.
9. I love Monday for the fresh start, the new opportunities that will come my way, hopefully I will have renewed enthusiasm for doing the things I need to do to be successful. I am trying.
10. We have dentist appointments tomorrow... a doctor appointment for my blood pressure issues on Thursday... we're going to register Austin to vote tomorrow... lots going on this week but I'm excited that I am facing a 4 1/2 day work week (due to taking half a vacation day tomorrow) instead of five full days. It makes a huge difference to my pain level. I'm also glad to be getting some resolution, hopefully, on my blood pressure because I have really been feeling poorly.

Hope you all - whether you're working today or not - I hope that you're entering into this new work week feeling REAL and not feeling like a fish trying to climb a tree. Love and hugs to all of you!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future - thoughts about Whitney's Home Going Service

I have a very deep blog entry lurking in my head but first I want to tell you that I have a massive zit coming up on the right side of my nose and it feels like it's taking over my whole face.

I also need to tell you that I ate an eggo waffle for breakfast. We made a grocery run yesterday and I bought some yogurt but I wanted an eggo. (wonder why I'm gaining weight? it's not just the meds.)

I also want to mention that the new Dairy Queen has opened in town which means that we no longer have to do what Austin and I refer to as "the walk of shame"... We had a walk up DQ... so you had to park, walk to the DQ and stand there on the main drag through town, ten feet away from the road, waiting to get your high calorie treat. Our plan today is to drive thru and get the biggest, most unhealthy, ooeyist, gooeyist DQ treat in the privacy of our car.

AND we now have a Western Sizzlin' that has opened up right near us. Matter of fact... it's in between Cleveland and Helen, just like we are... so if you don't count Wendells (which we never go to because Janie, who lives upstairs, works there and Austin and Janie have an extreme dislike for each other, even though I find her adorable and charming... but Austin is pretty weird about those things so we never eat at Wendells) If you don't count Wendall's, the Western Sizzlin' is the closest eating place to us, geographically. We went there yesterday at 4pm. Yes, the Senior Citizen time... I just knew I wouldn't want to wait and even then, at 4pm, even though it's off-season, the parking lot was almost full. I betcha, around 1pm today, after churches let out, that place is gonna be HOPPIN'!

Yes. Our little corner of the world is movin' right along. Still no Chickfila, despite two different false alarms that we were getting one. And I have to pay extra to get the Atlanta Sunday paper. But it's still the best place I've ever lived and I pray that the Lord will never move me from this place. Not this apartment, necessarily... but this town.

At any rate. What I really wanted to blog about today was Whitney Houston's funeral. I was pretty negative about her on my RTLM Blog this week... calling her a "Hot Mess".  It takes one to know one, I have to admit. I watched the funeral yesterday, almost the entire four hours... not because I am or ever was a huge Whitney fan. I've never been big into popular music... Country, Contemporary Christian and Showtunes are my preferences (not in that order). I watched it because it was the most uplifting and encouraging event that has happened in my life in a very long time.

I struggle. Y'all know that. I whine every day and God bless y'all... you keep coming here anyways, maybe skipping over the whiny parts to get to the heart of what I say and either way, I thank you. There are a lot of struggles that I'm not really at liberty to discuss. My goal is to tell my story without embarrassing anyone else or putting my job in jeopardy or hurting friends or family. I don't always maintain those boundaries as well as I should but the truth is... there are some deep, dark caverns in my life at times that I can't even begin to blog about.

So when Tyler Perry in his remarks at Whitney's Home Going service talked about having the opportunity to sit down with Whitney while she shared her story with him... and every time she would talk about her own deep, dark caverns she would say, "but Jesus..." and "oh, but my Lord..." and she ... in her times of desperation and depravity STILL felt the love of God... I felt like Tyler was talking about me. That's MY testimony! "She had a grace that carried her through"... he said and yes. I lifted my hands up in praise and shouted. I did. I had to. That grace that covered her... it's the same grace that covers me.

And over the course of those hours... as many people shared... I grew closer and closer to Whitney. I've never used drugs... never faced addiction... apart from the pharmaceuticals that keep the blood pressure down and the inflammation down in my back so that I can work and function and the muscle relaxers that keep my back from going into spasms and the xanax I had to use to stay numb from that tragic second marriage of mine and so forth. I haven't been through what she's been through but yet, really, I know where Whitney's been.

It was captured beautifully in song and scripture and speeches and I wouldn't want to leave anything out but there's no way I can make my experience, what those four hours did for me spiritually and emotionally... there's no way that I can articulate it in a way that it reaches you unless you have been there too. You know how I talk about how "our worst thing" is relative to your own experience... while my "worst thing" may be my back pain... there's someone out there, like Cissy Houston, who is burying her child. On the scale of suffering... she wins... but my worst thing is still... mine. I hope that makes sense.

Our spiritual journey is like that too. Even if you're atheist or agnostic or "Pasta-farian" ... wherever you stand with our Creator... you make a conscious decision every day about what He (or he) (or it) (or nothing) (whichever way you're going) means to you. You choose your path, you make your own way in your spiritual life. And I know that when I'm in those places that nobody else knows about... or knows how to reach me... or just doesn't care ... I know that My God is there. She did too.

And though you could look at the journey she took, through addiction and shame... and find her unworthy of the attention that was given to her yesterday.... it did my heart so much good to see that someone who had, at times, been so BAD could and did find redemption through Jesus. Because I could have the same accusers, for different reasons, to be certain... but all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Whitney did. I do too.

A friend posted a nice little encouragement on her facebook page yesterday repeating what her pastor frequently says:  Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. 

It was echoed in the service yesterday where we were given the reminder that the church is a hospital for sinners... not as some would see it... a Museum of the Saints. And I know a lot of people, some of you, even, have kept your distance, not just from the physical church but also from a relationship with God because you don't feel worthy... or maybe you're not ready to put down whatever that thing/person/circumstance is that in your mind separates you from God. Tyler Perry quoted this passage from Romans and I was (once again) shouting and celebrating...

Romans 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Make that passage personal to you. Instead of New International Version (which I most often use) put it in New Heather Version like this:

For I am convinced that neither poor job performance, nor poverty, neither chronic back pain nor high blood pressure, neither poor church attendance or that snarky, mean thing I said in my blog, nor the unpaid bills nor the sinfully high stack of laundry, nor my lack of discipline or any of the other things that I feel guilty about that I can't mention here for risk of embarrassing my family or myself... will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus MY Lord.

Insert your name and your own demons and disappointments. I know - we think that our "worst thing" is so off the charts that there is no way we can "hang with the Holy Homies" - but I want to tell you that Heaven is gonna be crowded with people like Whitney and me and even King David who spent our entire time here on Earth messing up, falling short, disappointing people, disappointing ourselves, lacking whatever the world thinks we shoulda/coulda/woulda done. There's room at the cross for all of us.

I hope to see you there. Love and hugs, y'all.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Philosophical Friday

I believe, help thou my unbelief.  (Mark 9:24)

I pass this little church in Demorest on my way home from work every day. It's a tiny church... room for about twenty cars, at best, in their parking lot... sandwiched in between an old mattress store and some homes. A simple little church... with a simple little thought posted on the sign out front that reads, "Eternity is a long time to be wrong". 

I found it witty and thought provoking so I posted it as my facebook status. I got a couple of "amens" and likes and so forth but my brother left an incredibly articulate argument exploring Pascal's Wager and Voltaire's response and you... like me... are probably saying, "whaaaaa? Who is Pascal?"  And because I can't stand to not be "in the know", especially with my little brother (who is a highly educated and extremely intelligent attorney, therefore much better equipped to make an argument than myself)... because I didn't know... I googled Pascal.

Basically... Pascal was a French Philosopher and mathematician who posed the theory that there was everything to be gained in believing that God exists and nothing to be lost... which goes right along with what I frequently say... that I'd rather get to the end of my life and find out I was wrong about God (Heaven, eternity) than NOT believe and find out at the end that there IS a God and I've been on the wrong road all along. Pascal, unlike myself, was an extremely logical person and applied his highly evolved reasoning techniques to the argument of whether or not God exists.

I'm never comfortable with having to present an argument to convince someone that God exists. I only know what I know. My biblical education is limited to a childhood of Sunday School and Vacation Bible School and an adulthood of seeking, searching and desperately needing a Higher Power. And although I can quote a lot of scripture... and have a lot of really great biblical knowledge... if your argument is with someone who doesn't accept the validity of the Scriptures... or take it literally as divinely inspired... then I might as well be arguing with Shakespeare or some other ancient text.

One miserable Christmas when I was married to Michael... we spent most of Christmas Day driving from Atlanta to Jacksonville. And we spent most of that drive arguing about religion. Finally, at some point Austin piped up from the back seat and said, "YOU. ARE. ARGUING.... ABOUT..... GOD!!"  We had our own little replica of the struggles in the middle east happening in Michael's car.

Voltaire's reply was something along the lines (and I'm oversimplifying here because it would take longer to explain than you would have patience to read and because I'm dealing with material that I was introduced to barely 12 hours ago and am therefore in no way an authority on the subject!) was that there were too many variables to narrow down which god, which religion, by which means within a religion... etc.

For me... I've always taken the existence of God as indisputable fact. I've never really prepared an argument because, from my perspective, anything that anyone has to convince you of - you haven't really accepted based on faith. You've accepted based on proof. I believe that you have to first and foremost have faith and without that... you might as well be reading Shakespeare. You've missed the point of Christianity in the first place. And while I certainly, without a doubt, would tell you that I  have seen evidence of God in MY life, many could (and would and have) argued that the "God things" in my life are simply coincidence.

I frequently have the argument with myself... that I can have a tendency to be a "crisis Christian"... who waits to seek a deeper relationship with God at the times in my life when I have run out of options... sort of like the college kid who doesn't write home until he needs money. Is my life an example of true Christianity or of Christianity by default... since nothing else is working for me, I'll try Jesus again.

Somewhere in the pages and pages that I quickly scanned yesterday about Pascal, there was the argument that belief out of fear of not believing wasn't true belief and... I don't know that I agree. IF you believe the Psalmist's assertion that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, then you have to believe that we were created to fear God... and fearing God (as I've discussed often) is realizing there is a God and at some point you will be accountable to Him.

Are you still with me? I'm sure I'll continue this discussion when I have more time to do it justice but I thought it was a great challenge and a great opportunity to explore MY relationship with God, especially since I seem to be destined to live my life "out loud". I hope that those of you who are more knowledgeable and educated in such matters will offer me your thoughts on the subject.

The thing is... all of us approach the subject of God based on our own unique view. While I believe that there is One God (in three forms... in the same way that water can be ice, liquid or vapor) even within myself, my perspective of God is ever changing... even though, I believe, God Himself never changes. Our belief in God (or lack there of) is uniquely based on our unique experiences and our unique characters which, again, I believe that we are fearfully and wonderfully made... the Maker understands far better than we do, the process by which we find our way to Him.

Deep theology for a Friday, I know. I love how life continues to be a learning experience, long after the formal education has ended. And while I am woefully inadequate to provide a logical argument ...I am eternally grateful to be a person of faith.

God is good, y'all. That's all I'm sayin'.
Have a great Friday! Love and hugs!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Things that have entertained me

Things that entertained me over the past twenty four hours:

Funniest cat moment EVER - my cat chased a red hot for ten minutes and kept trying to pick it up. Ha! No thumbs for you!  He's just so sure he's human. I can see the frustration in his face when he can't do what I do.

Austin drove for the first time. Ever. There was a family looking to rent the apartment next to ours and they blocked the drive to our apartment so I had to park at the end of the building and I jokingly told Austin to move the car once those people had left. I take a potty break...  look out... and he's trying to drive... our upstairs neighbor (and maintenance man) is in the passenger seat and the two neighborhood dogs are weaving back and forth in front of the car trying to see what is going on. Austin is lurching forward... wearing my brakes and my nerves... and I just tried to keep the dogs from running in front of the car and becoming a hood ornament. It was comical. It was only about fifty yards but he was quite proud of himself. We're getting his learners on his 18th birthday... two weeks from today. I've sort of stalled on him driving for a couple of reasons... one, I couldn't afford to add him to my insurance... two... he just hasn't been responsible enough. My mantra has been, "when I no longer have to remind you to take a shower, I'll know you're responsible enough to drive". We really aren't there yet.

Best How I Met Your Mother episode ever- the one where Barney and Robin try to TOUCH everything in the museum... well, then it gets out of hand and they're putting on clothes and ... it's just a really funny episode.

Sarah Palin was on The Five last night. It was great how star struck they all were. Even Bob Beckel - the liberal. Greg Gutfeld even blushed. I know none of y'all watch The Five but I'm tellin' ya... it's one of my favorite shows. This morning Eric Boling is on Fox and Friends... he's also on The Five. I love my Fox News folks.

I forgot to buy coffee. Again. I was able to scrape together enough yesterday for a decent pot. Today... I've got nothing. I'm going to be buying some nasty gas station coffee on my way to work. I guess that should be listed under, "things I've forgotten to do".

My blood pressure won't go down even though we've doubled my bp meds. I have only had one reading all week that was below 150/100. That actually didn't entertain me. Maybe I should change the title to "things that are remarkable". It's definitely affecting how I feel... and how I feel is affecting my blood pressure.

Payday today! Entertaining? Maybe not. Reason for an exclamation point? Yes!

I have one client/friend whose son is negotiating football/baseball scholarships... he's received two awesome awards here in the past few weeks... she's in that sweet spot of reaping the rewards for all those hours in a folding chair beside a ball field. I'm so happy for her and proud right along with her.

For me... with Austin... the fact that he's still alive, still getting up every day most days and going to school... the fact that he every now and then does a chore or performs an act of kindness, these moments for me are my football banquet/scholarship offer for him. I think any time your child performs beyond what you would have ever thought possible... it's rewarding to parents. If you had known Austin in preschool when he was biting all of his friends. If you had sat in on any of the dozens of parent/teacher conferences over the past 13 years where I kept being told that my kid couldn't/wouldn't succeed. We've come so far. You may see a kid in pajama pants and flipflops but I see a success.

I think - at least for me as a parent - whatever my kids do that makes them happy and isn't detrimental to society makes me happy. Seeing Ryan experience professional and personal success is my reward... Seeing Cody in a loving marriage is my reward...sometimes the pride I feel for these boys is overwhelming. And I think everybody needs somebody in their life who celebrates who they are... regardless of how it compares to anyone else. Everybody needs somebody to believe in them.

Two of my childhood friends with daughters around the same age have both found out that their girls are pregnant in the past few weeks. Neither one is the Norman Rockwell perfect situation. Both prospective grandmothers are already in love with that baby on the way. It's like the comment that my friend Gina posted on my facebook wall yesterday: Girl I am watchin "The Blind Side" for the very first time and I am just talkin' to myself outloud sayin' - "You know, there is just somethin' about Southern Mothers!" And I thought of you :)

And I thought... yep. It's true. We love with the insane intensity of Jewish mothers without the guilt. OR rather, I should say, with passive aggressive guilt. "No honey... it's ok... you take the car... mommy doesn't mind walking to work..."  Whether our kid is the Valedictorian... or a drop out. We love 'em. 

Another thought yesterday that entertained me greatly: I'm a grace dependent creature living in a works based world. If you're not an evangelical Christian that might not make as much sense but... let me try... I'm a person who is never going to have the obvious reasons for celebration. I don't make enough money. I don't sell the most insurance. I didn't have kids who were overachievers (although my daughter in law is consistently on the Dean's List). I don't drive the best car. The things that most people see as validation... it's a foreign language to me. Hugging my client/friend as she sets off for her son's award banquet... being able to encourage someone who is struggling to pay a bill... getting a few words of affirmation from a friend ... being happy for my friends who are becoming grandmothers... that's where I LIVE! Those are the sweetest moments in life for me... the things that matter most to me aren't things.

If yesterday was "Half Price Chocolate Day"... today is "I Got Out Of Bed Day"... it's not just a matter of having a day of gratitude, my Thankful Thursday... it's a matter of celebrating life. My life. Broken and broke. Battered. Discouraged. Painful. And beautiful. 

Love and hugs, y'all!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Whiny Wednesday... losing the party tricks

I'm too exhausted to make sense today. It's been a really painful week. I say that every week, don't I?

Sorry to be redundant. I'm having a redundant *season* of life right now. 
Of course, Ecclesiastes tells us that there's nothing new under the sun. It was true back then... it's true now.
I'm not the first woman to drag my creaking, broken down, overweight frame through middle age.
My grandmother, bless her sweet soul, at my age had three little girls ages 7, 6 and 4. 
You know I love the little girls in my life... but if I had to raise them... now?? All under one roof? 
She's a stronger woman than me.
We all have our cross to bear, though, don't we?
Mine seems to be getting bigger all the time. The cross, I mean. Not me. Well. Both. 
God has been good to me. I got into the car after work yesterday and exhaled, "thank you God for another day"...
And it occurred to me that most people greet the dawn that way... "thank you God for another day"...
I start my days imploring God to give me the strength I need for that day... and I thank Him at the end.
I suppose I could start with thanking Him in advance for what He's going to do that day... am I less faithful because I wait until it happens to thank Him for what He was gonna do anyways, most days?
I mean. Every day. So far, at least.
So many people in my orbit have been gone long before their time. Or. What we thought their time was.
It's no surprise to God, of course. 
What I don't know... at the dawn of each new day... is whether or not I'll beat the pain that day... 
Or if the pain will beat me.
Several times yesterday when I started to stand up... I didn't have the strength at first. It took a couple of tries.
I trust God. I surrender all, I truly do. 
But there is still that very HUMAN moment of recognizing for the first time that you are unable to do... what you've always been able to do, that grips your heart in fear. 
Every person goes through that at some point, I imagine. I mean... very few people die with all the same party tricks that they started life with... I could do a toe touch thirty years ago. I could still do a split just a little over a year ago. And I imagine there will be a time that I will remember fondly "way back when" I was able to stand up without struggle or pain. 
Last night I dreamed that my other grandmother - my Steel Magnolia - I dreamed that she was writing a letter and although she has never (in my lifetime, anyways) had what I would consider "great penmanship" - as she was writing, it was no longer her usual handwriting, it was mostly lines and dots and dashes that made no sense. As if she had lost the ability to communicate clearly. 
I said to her (in my dream) "Grandmother... I can't read what you're writing"... 
and she giggled and said, "my goodness".... or some sweet southern lady exclamation like that... and we went on with our lives.
They say that "only the good die young"... does that mean that all old people are bad?
Of course not. The older I get, the more I value older people. 
But sooner or later, our bodies wear out. I've carried more weight than I should have in this life - both literally and figuratively. My spine is about twice my age. The cold, damp weather we had yesterday caused me physical pain. It hasn't eased up yet. It makes me physically tired and mentally drained. I was asleep before 8pm last night. I fell asleep without putting away the leftovers from dinner. That could have been another meal for us. I forgot to turn off the oven. It was on until 3am when I woke up and realized the kitchen light was still on. Oh. And the stove. And I never fed the cats. And so it goes. Getting old.
My job is on the line. We have too many people producing too few policies and I'm the weakest link. While I may have more experience... I'm not a safe bet any more. It hurts my heart but it's the truth. I'm not as valuable as I once was because my body doesn't work like it once did.
I have this deep need to be in control of my destiny... There are people who I cross paths with every single day who have lost some of their "party tricks" and aren't able to take care of themselves completely any more, whether physically or financially... and a lot of those people don't really have anyone looking out for them. Some have lost jobs... some have lost their health... some are just lonely. 
It's my greatest fear. It's what I think about in those moments when I try to stand up and can't. 
It's what was so frightening before, during and after my surgery... if I can't, who will?
God has been gracious to me and has kept me going many, many days beyond what I thought I could do.
I know He holds the future. I just don't quite yet know what the future looks like. 
But... if you think about it... None of us do. Nothing is guaranteed. I may actually know more about my future than you do... because thanks to the pain... I spent the past year and a lot of money figuring out what was wrong with me. 
By the Grace of God I was able to figure out what was wrong.
And by His Grace, I will get a shower... glam up... go to work... do the best I can with what I have and at the end of the day... I will rest. And that cycle will repeat itself until it doesn't. 
So that's my Whiny Wednesday. 
Love and hugs, y'all. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Single and Proud.

Happy Valentine's Day y'all! Or... as I like to call it: Singles Awareness Day. Or... as my friend Matt calls it: Old Furniture Day.
I think I have finally accepted my singleness to the extent that a big old gooey made up Hallmark holiday no longer bothers me. Much.
And... I'm just glad that I'm at a point in my life where I've learned to accept things as they are instead of struggling to make my circumstances fit my preconceived notions of how the world should be.
In other words... I'm ok with not getting flowers or candy or jewelry from "the love of my life" today.
(although I will admit that I'm coveting one of those pandora charm bracelets and even went to all the trouble to build one online the other day when I was bored, knowing that I could never afford it...)
The world tells us that we should be coupled up... and I have spent way too much time and effort trying to fit that mold. I'm single and it's ok. I kinda like me this way.
And... if we're going to let the world tell us what we should do... most of the world doesn't believe in Jesus as the Messiah, who came to save us from our sins. I don't want to fit in - in that way.
The world tells us that abortion is a "choice"... not for the baby, it isn't. I'm ok with being contrary on that point.
The world - at least the media - tells me that I should be a size 2. I'm not.
I had a dear friend tell me once that as a poor, working, single mother that the last thing I should be is a conservative Republican. I'm ok with that. I was never meant to be politically correct.
While Jesus walked this earth he demonstrated His love for the sick, ugly, crippled, poor, meek, weak, friendless, mean, hateful, possessed... He even showed His love to a group of people who ran out of wine! Imagine that! Jesus did an awful lot of things that didn't fit the popular world view.
It's ok to be unique. Different. I'm ok with that.
Aren't I fortunate that I don't need a huge vase of flowers on my desk at work to feel loved?
I got flowers every (both) Valentines Day that I was with Michael and they were beautiful... but they didn't smell good enough to cover up the stink of our relationship.
There are a lot of women out there who are in relationships where they're getting STUFF today... but they're not getting the love they need.
I'm proud to be in a sorority of women who are strong enough to make it on their own. There is no shame in passing up bad, toxic, unholy and unhealthy relationships to say, "I'm going to wait to see what God has for me..." which is what I've done finally learned to do.
I've made a pact with God that He alone has my heart... and if there is someone out there who is worthy of us, Mr. Right will have to ask my Heavenly Father for the right to entertain me.
And if he isn't out there. If He doesn't agree. Then what an awesome time I'm having on my own in the mean time!
There are a lot of awesome relationships out there that I really respect and pray for daily. Marriage is the foundation of our communities and it's the foundation of our churches. I pray for there to be healthy marriages all around me... and I pray that I will always be a source of encouragement to younger women to respect what God has given them in a husband.
I don't ever want to be the poster child for "single is better... abandon your marriage and take a walk on the wild side with me!".
Being single is hard but God is good.
I struggle. That's no secret. But it's very, very rare for me to feel lonely.
I'm so glad that God has changed my heart from constantly pulling at the bit... looking at every single man as a puzzle piece and mentally trying to see if he fits in my life.
I'm just working hard at being the me God intended for me to be and being available to His will for my life, whatever that entails.
And if you want a laugh today... check out this HUH-larious blog entry by Jon Acuff about surviving church as a single. If you're single... you'll laugh at every line. If you're married... you'll see yourself in a few spots.

Time for me to glam and get ready for the day. Please continue to pray for me as I am struggling physically right now. God is propping me up something fierce and I have no doubt it's because of the ones who are so faithful to pray for me.
I want to leave you with just one thought: no matter how alone you may feel... you're not alone. No matter how unlovable you think you may be... there's one who will always love you. No matter how attractive the world's view of romance may be, it will never fill you up. No one man can ever provide enough love for you to fill the God sized hole in your heart. Married, single, divorced, widowed, whatever little box you check ... God is there for you. And I am praying that this Valentines Day you will feel loved like you have never been loved before!
Love and hugs!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Reasons to Love Monday - I'm not a hot mess any more!

Whitney Houston is dead and I don't feel so well myself.
Obviously, we have another celebrity who has succumbed to the abuse of pharmaceuticals.
I think xanax is the devil. It's too easy to take too many and then you convince yourself that you need that many to function.
When truly... they just lead you down the path of dysfunction.

In this picture... I had a horrible fight with Michael. I have no idea what it was about. He wasn't even living with us at this point, he had already gone to Jacksonville to work and the kids and I were living in Woodstock. He would come home every other weekend and I would have a housekeeper come in the day before he came home to make sure that there was nothing that he was going to get upset about with my housekeeping. Anyways... there was something else I did wrong... it ended up with hours of him  "coaching" me... I took a handful of xanax at some point during the argument to slow my racing heart and numb the effects of his abuse...and then he insisted that we go to little Zoey's birthday party as we had planned. He didn't want me to tell my friend the truth about what my day had been like. So this is me and Amy... who is one of my soul mates, a sister friend who understood me from day one... this is me faking it... although the truth is... I was a hot mess.

The last pictures of Whitney... I mean no disrespect... but it was obvious she was a hot mess.  She was definitely numbing the pain. I mean... girlfriend walked out of a night club at two am with blood dripping down her leg... her spanx had quite clearly given up because she had a paunch that comes from years of drinking... hair all sweaty... sweat on her upper lip. Some times it takes a hot mess to know one.

When I left Jacksonville, I gave Jim the xanax to keep for me. Our agreement was that whenever I needed one, I would just need to explain to him why I needed it. I never have... not once... since I've been here. Oh, there's been times of great anxiety in my life - raising a teenager - car repossessed - house struck by lightning - a half dozen chronic conditions that make life difficult. I've leaned heavily on prayer, there's no doubt. There are times that I've had anxiety but not once since I left Jacksonville have I felt the kind of fear and anxiety that being with Michael caused.

These folks who are dependent on xanax or other similar medications need to figure out what the situation or circumstances are that are making them feel that way. There is a better way. That is not to say that people who have legitimate medical conditions that require treatment should avoid treatment. They should, however, be careful to take medications as prescribed. When you take meds the right way, the way they are prescribed, and observe the cautions on those medications (like... don't take with alcohol)... you don't end up drowning in a bathtub. That's all I'm saying.

Despite the pain with my back I have been extremely cautious about the medications I take for it. I have refused any narcotic medications although, truly, there are meds out there that would numb me and during the times that I don't have to function (drive, work, etc) I could take them. But I won't. I take a medication that changes the way my brain receives pain messages and I take a muscle relaxer at night. I take blood pressure medication (obviously not enough) and I take a vitamin D supplement. None of those are medications you could OD on.

I know that I am always going to be one bad day away from a hot mess. I just have to make sure my relationship with God is strong enough that I know... that I always remember... that He is all I need.

And now it's Monday... if there was ever a day that could lead to being a hot mess, it would be Monday! Yet....there are a few reasons to love Monday...
1. I'm no longer a hot mess.
2. Prayer is more powerful than xanax.
3. God preserved my life during the time that I wasn't doing a good job of preserving it myself. He sustained me.
4. I have a brand new pair of brown tights. I've been looking for brown tights for a year. I wear tights during the winter because they're warmer and hold up better. The pair of tights I've had has been with me for several years. Ive actually sewn up holes in them! It was time for a new pair.
5. I bought groceries yesterday so there is no menu panic for us before or after the work day.
5a I'm working hard on the coupon thing. Y'all send me your coupons if you're not using them! Pass along any tips you have! We have to make up the difference for a $400 a month decrease in income when child support stops... at least until summer when Austin can legitimately start working. This is about three points in one so consider this extra credit!
6. I'm feeling better. I'm still a bit of a snot factory but not as bad as I was. It's hard to draw a deep breath but I'm better.
7. My blood pressure was scary high last night - 159/114 - I think that's the highest bottom number I've ever had. This morning it's 129/84. MUCH better.
8. I had a great night's sleep.
9. It's cold outside but not as cold as it was overnight Saturday night.
10. Until time to get ready for work, I'm cozy in my fuzzy grinch pj pants and two pair of fuzzy socks. It's been a long warm and cozy weekend and I needed it.
11. I have another two and a half hours before I have to leave for work.
12. My cough is better. I was a bit anxious that it would turn into pneumonia... any snot in my body loves to head straight for those growths in my left lung. This time, I think we were spared. The mucus isn't moving in.
13. Trouble the cat is an amazingly accurate alarm clock. He wakes me up EXACTLY at 4:17 am every day. He goes to the window to watch for me every day at 5:48pm... even if I'm already here... he goes to the window, sees my car, looks around to see me... and then retreats from his post.
14. This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it... Monday gives me a fresh slate, a renewed strength... reasons to keep on keeping on!

This is the passage of the day from www.biblegateway.com  -

John 3:16

The Message (MSG)
 16-18"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person's failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Snarkasm

Oh, the sarcasm that fills my soul at times...

Despite the fact that I grew up in a Christian home... I was the only girl out of five kids... and with four EXTREMELY intelligent brothers... intelligent and witty brothers, I should say... and so as a defense mechanism, in order to just keep up with the brothers, I have developed the spiritual gift of snark. Ok. Maybe it's not so spiritual. But it's there.

My dad is the king of the cheesy joke... things like, "Heather is the flower of our family... the stink weed." His humor is so distinctly defined that my kids have a tendency to respond to a bad joke with, "that was a POP joke".

And Jim... anyone who knows Jim knows that he loves puns and works them so effortlessly into conversation that people sometimes miss them. Our friend Misti sometimes has to go back over what Jim has said and replay it in her head... and then it cracks her up.

Bryan... has a very dry wit... delivers a witticism or two in that succinct way that lawyers have... and instead of a "toss your head back" belly laugh... he smirks. Occasionally he'll snicker. But it's a dignified, controlled humor.

Michael became a Jehovah's Witness about sixteen years ago. The jokes just write themselves.

David, as the baby of the family, does a lot of laughing with... and a fair share of laughing AT the things that happen in our lives.

I'm certain that my love language is sarcasm. I know it's not one of the ones that Gary Chapman outlined in his now famous book... but I'm certain that it's the fastest way to my heart.

I mentioned yesterday about a snarky blog I had been reading that counters and contradicts a certain high traffic blog. It turns out that there are more than one of these type blogs for more than one high traffic blogger because a couple of you guessed incorrectly... and I (of course) had to go check out the other Snarkers.

Boy howdy. There's a lot more snarkasm out there than I thought. (yes, I know that's not a real word).
Makes me want to google to see if there's someone snarking me... I think that's the new pinnacle of success as a blogger. It's a bit edgy. A little mean. The one I'm reading, though, provided some really important information that made me realize that this is not someone whose life I want to model. I say that not out of a sense of judgment but out of a sense of discernment.

I was shocked to find out the high traffic blogger I was discussing was making oh, about twice what I make a year working full time... FROM HER BLOG ads. I wish! My ads, when I bothered with them, made about  $.56 - yes, that's fifty six cents - over the course of a year.

Apparently my story isn't near so compelling. I'm not jealous or covetous, you understand. It just amazes me that kind of money can be made on the internet.... even though spam would have you believe it. Although I would love for this baby to be a cash cow, I also know that there would be a temptation to ramp up the drama to increase the clicks. I want to be my authentic self to the full extent that I can be and not hurt others.

At any rate... all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. That's what I hope to show and share through this forum. Blessings are all around us, sometimes we just don't recognize them as such. Sometimes you have to put on the rose-colored glasses  purchased by mail order from the Billy Graham Crusade, in Many-apples, Many-sodas, to see those blessings.

That's one of mine and Jim's first puns... it used to be that at the end of every televised Billy Graham Crusade (and we saw them all... if he was on, that's what we were watching)... at the end they gave the address to write for more information about salvation or to send your prayer requests.... and it was in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Or... mini-apples, mini-sodas... whichever... always made us laugh.

I never hear the phrase "pay-per-view" as it's intended. I always hear "paper view" which, in my mind, is reading a book. So that always cracks me up.

That family humor sustains us... one time I made mint chocolate brownies.... I'm really not a good cook. I mean... I can create some awesome salads and I can throw a roast into a crockpot and such but I'm not naturally gifted at it... and I wasn't really trained either... so... I tried my hand at baking and experimented with mint chocolate brownies which seemed like a good idea but... the first "feedback" I got about them was that they were... "different"... and so, from that point on... anything that anyone in our family deems *less than* delicious is labeled different.

The bathroom... the ONE little bathroom in the house I grew up in... which my dad would commandeer the minute he got home from work... and lovingly referred to as "the library"... because he kept a variety of reading material in there for... well, you get the picture. All my brothers could stand on the back porch and "relieve themselves" if that one bathroom was occupied. (the grass always grew greener right off the back porch for some reason) I was the only one who really suffered from the lack of available facilities. You had to laugh.

My joke is that my parents bought the house next door where Cody and Marquee now live because it was cheaper than adding a bathroom to their existing house.

Family humor sometimes crosses the line... Jim is heading to Haiti at the beginning of March on a mission trip. I reminded him of one of the first (totally inappropriate) jokes that came out at the time the Aids epidemic was first in the news back in the early 80's. If you are old enough to remember.... the first victims of HIV and AIDS were homosexual men and Haitians.  SOOOOoooo... the joke went something like, "what's the hardest part about telling your parents you have AIDS?".... "convincing them that you're Haitian".  Get it? Because obviously you... well, never mind. *crickets*...

Now why in the world would this (very bad) (and inappropriate) joke come to mind when my brother is preparing for a holy, important, mission trip to Haiti? I can't explain it other than to say... it's my defective funny bone. That's the thing about growing up around funny people. The world becomes your Sitcom.

Truthfully... the people in life that I'm closest to are the people who also suffer from snarkasm. I love being around nice, sweet, kind people and I try... Heaven knows... how much I try to be one of those gentle people who never says anything controversial but... it's just lipstick on a pig. Even if I'm not saying it (the inappropriate joke)... I'm probably thinking it. And frankly... anyone without a highly evolved sense of humor will just not last long in my world, no matter how nice they are. We don't speak the same language.

Purple Michael and I have several "routines" we perform for people - sort of a George Burns and Gracie - although I'm not sure which of us is which. We always tell the story of the time he forgot his name ...

We had spent two very full, crazy days auditioning about two hundred people for two shows that we were casting. The way our partnership works is that he is the face, the talent, the creative one, THE PRETTY ONE... and I am the one who keeps him fed, sane, organized... There are times that I have to give him gentle reminders, discreetly, of an administrative nature, so that things stay on track, especially when we're tired and overwhelmed. So... he's preparing to give this instructional speech to let people know how the audition process will go and what they need to know... and he really just can't gather his thoughts. I have a stack of visual reminders in front of him... forms that need to be filled out... etc... so he can simply pick them up and expound on each point of interest... and I am sitting at my desk with my back to the crowd, as he stands in front of my desk, about three feet away from me... by way of introduction he starts out with ... "hello... my name is..." long pause.
Terribly long pause.
Embarrassing long pause.
Dead air. 
Crickets.
So I feed him his line without moving my lips... like a ventriloquist, "Michael Vaughn".... and he takes the line (his name) and goes on with his speech. That's always worth a laugh when we remember it and it's always funnier when we tell it together.

We have another really funny EPIC story from when I was working with Rocky Horror the Musical but it's inappropriate for this format. Maybe one day.

And there was the time that Cody thought we were letting him drink vodka... but it was only water... and Cody kept acting  *drunker* and *DRUNKER* from drinking watered down cranberry juice. Cody thought we were laughing at his drunken antics... when we were really laughing at his SOBER antics.

At any rate... whenever we get together we make each other laugh. Those are the best kind of friendships in my opinion... the ones where your wit and sense of humor matches the other person. Otherwise... one of you is just mean and the other is just hurt. Or clueless. I've dealt with both.

Like I've said before ... you either *get* the joke.. or you ARE the joke.

Where was I going with this? Oh. The snarkasm. (made up word). I get the joke of poking fun at over the top narcissism that's required to be a blogger. Honestly.... if you don't think you have a story worth telling, you're probably NOT going to blog. But when you get right down to it... people who think a lot of themselves are sometimes just a Saturday Night Live skit waiting to happen.

Some of the stuff that happens in my life... I can either laugh or cry... and unless I'm in an over the top blue funk, I can usually find humor in just about everything.

My friend Amy (who used to work with me at my Uncle's office) used to say, "you can't make this stuff up".
That's what I said in my blog yesterday... truth is stranger than fiction.

My other friend Amy (who used to work with me in Woodstock/Holly Springs/Canton) and I used to connect with totally inappropriate humor over things like... a co-worker who was freakishly tall (I still laugh every time I see a giraffe)... and the tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith ("things just haven't been the same since Vicky Lynn died").

Dewayna and I have a whole LIFETIME of puns and location jokes (as in ... "you had to be there"). And we remember all of them... going back to 3rd grade and even earlier. We were funny way back then, too.

My boys all three have a highly evolved sense of humor... although when Austin makes a funny and I don't laugh because I'm trying to deadpan him... he gets offended. He doesn't get the comedic rhythm yet.

Even my little nieces, at 7 and 9, are really funny people...

I think the key is to not take yourself too seriously. I have had a ridiculous number of tragic situations over the past five years. I've had some crazy things happen. If anyone wanted to create a snark blog about my blog, I'm sure I give them plenty of material. I'm ok with that. I get the joke, even though I AM the joke. My life is legitimately ironic.

When I did a little biblical search about laughter the very first thing that came up was Abraham laughing at the thought of his 90 year old wife becoming pregnant. You've gotta love it... God gives him a promise... and the miracle ahead of them is so far beyond what the mind can comprehend that they LAUGHED! People laughed at Noah when he built the ark. People laughed at Moses about being led out of Egypt. It's all part of the process, I think.

I would never encourage meanness... but I will always encourage you to look for the humor or irony in everything you face. Snarkasm can change your life.