My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Long Lesson About Asking For Help

Living with my parents has brought me back to the first real sense of security that I've had in a long time. From the time I was an 18 year old bride, I've had some measure of financial burden on me and the majority of that time, it was mostly on *just* me. And it wasn't just that the burden was on me... despite my efforts to live frugally, things just happened along the way ... poor decisions... failure to plan... feeding three teenage boys... kept me constantly behind the 8 ball. It was a burden that kept me on edge. I always had something looming over my head, something that was going to be cut off or taken away... and at the risk of sounding like I'm taking advantage of my current situation... I am so grateful that my parents have room for me and are willing to let me live with them.

Whatever you may have thought moving in with you parents would be like, I can tell you... it's not that bad. We tend, as a rule, to be relatively non-confrontational people so there is rarely any weeping or gnashing of teeth. We're polite southerners... we prefer the pout and pray method of fixing our loved ones who have gone astray. "Dear Lord, I just ask that you give Heather the strength she needs to do the dishes after supper tonight. We know Lord that she has struggled mightily and we are believing in you for divine intervention and that our daughter will be healed of her inability to clean a dadblamed dish." Amen.

My dad. has been a hard working man his whole life. He has worked for the same company for 46 years and despite fathering five children and becoming the proud Pop to twelve or thirteen grandchildren during that time, and playing church softball and bowling and now keeping up with the Old cronies at the golf course.. and leading music at their church and taking care of grandma's financial affairs and maintaining the old homestead, the rental house/love nest next door and the mountain house... he has always done it all and probably will go at that same break-neck pace until he hears the trumpet blow and so on.

My mother had an in home daycare while we were growing up and she was dependable and consistent and really loved the children she cared for. She kept a clean house, even hanging clothes on the line every day until we finally got a clothes dryer when I was 16. (Trust me, I remember this, having had three brothers who were cloth diapered when cloth diapering wasn't trendy, and having been the one who had the chore to bring the clothes in off the line after school everyday.) We didn't take vacations. We didn't go out to eat. I didn't wear Gloria Vanderbilt jeans. They both worked awful hard all their lives (so far). They made a lot of sacrifices that have made things easier for them (and me) in our older years. They have been my safety net over the years but never more than now.

My adult years, the years of carrying this huge financial responsibility to raise three young men into something I wasn't - and couldn't be - good and Godly men - were difficult. I had to rely so heavily on a Higher Power for basic things that you just couldn't imagine. Praying that the water wouldn't be cut off before my paycheck cleared. Praying that God would put people in our path that would help me to mold my children into the men I hoped they would be. Praying that I would be strong enough to work enough to keep a job and to be able to provide for us until the children were grown. Praying I never had to knock the sense out of any of them hard enough to leave proof. By fate or faith, you can decide for yourself but in my heart I've always held tightly to the notion that a benevolent God provided for us. He came across for us in a big way and I always felt like the down payment on that blessing was made in the generations that came before me.

When you start with a foundation of faith and you build it up surrounded by folks who live by example and each day live an example of giving it all you've got, its hard to be a have not. Even beyond family, I can't even begin to list the people who have stood in the gap for me and my kids and done the things that I couldn't do: the Godly men who not only taught my kids the Word of God but modeled a righteous life for my kids, the hardworking men who taught my boys the basic skills that men should know, the men who supported me emotionally and financially and who counseled me when I was unsure and had my back when I was unsteady. I was (and am) surrounded by a great number of people who, for whatever reason, loved me and loved my kids enough to pour a little of their lives into ours.

Somewhere along the way my kids absorbed skills like knowing how to maintain their vehicles, things I wouldn't have ever been able to do. Last night Cody replaced my parents' mailbox that had given up the ghost and I watched thinking, "how does he know how to do that?".

Living apart from Austin over most of the past year has been difficult and many times I have had to trust God to provide for him and God has not let us down. I'm certain he has done things and done without things that are outside of my desire for his life but he is growing wiser and more mature. Last weekend he helped Pop with some work that needed to be done with the Homeowners Association in maintaining the dam at the lake. Pop was proud of him... and I'm proud of him. When we got here today, things here at Gant Hacienda Norte were bearable but we're going to have to go on a dish and towel recon mission. Austin needs a bit more supervision that has been applied lately.

For that matter, on Mother's Day, Ryan was able to fix dinner for us all - and not just hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill (although that would have been fine) he prepared a wonderful meal for us. I'm a good cook but he didn't learn that from me. Again, it was someone who stood in the gap imparting wisdom and knowledge - or perhaps it was a natural curiosity and desire to learn that had geared Ryan to develop his culinary skills - either way, knowing how wise, mature, self-sufficient and hard working he is just makes my heart swell with pride.

I got really sick this weekend, sicker than I can ever remember being. I can't remember being that weak and that distraught and that uncomfortable or in that much pain ever. And considering what a Sobby Sally I've been over the past few years, that's saying a lot. I woke up yesterday morning thinking that there was nothing left to do except dial 9-1-1 and know that my medical debt that I've been chipping away at over the past year was going to balloon out of control. I started to pray. I'll be honest with you, I've sort of accepted my lot in life as far as this disability is concerned. Not bitter, mind you, because no matter what my circumstances may be, I am safe and secure and I am not alone. I don't even care if it sounds weird to live with your parents because I know that this is what fits for this season in my life - in our lives - right now. So I've been praying in a non-chalant attitude of, "eh... it is what it is".

I've got to admit, it is depressing to not be able to even go out for dinner because of pain. I've just quietly accepted that I am where He intended for me to be and I've just stopped asking for anything different. Yet when I started to pray yesterday, that complacency dissipated and I started out rather demanding and... well, whiny. I checked myself ... and thought about how I wanted to approach my Deity... and I thought about the night before when I laid in the bed, too weak to move and how my parents asked what I wanted, asked how they could help and whatever I asked... they did it. At that time it was a glass of sprite and some gatorade... but they did it. There were several times during the course of those rough days that they asked what they could do... and I love that model of Christian parenting because with that in mind, I told God what I needed. I needed to be a completely different person. I needed to be restored to health. We don't have to get into the whole COPD, degenerative disc disease, nerve damage, granulomatic issues, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and all those other new friends of mine.

I just wanted, Jesus, if you please, to be strong enough to eat, to stop having the sweats and chills and vicious nausea and seeing things run through my body so fast that they didn't even have time to get warm. I've adapted to being practically shut in. I'm still on that same tank of gas that I put in my car on April 6th. It was like... what precious little I have left... I couldn't let that go too.

Slowly, a plan started developing in my mind. (let's call it divine intervention.)  I forced myself to eat half of a banana so that I could take the medication that keeps my heart rate steady (because the tachycardia was really getting to me). Once that got settled, I took some pain medicine. I got an ice pack and tried to stop the muscle spasms I was having from being off the meds I have to take every day of my life for the muscle spasms in my back and hips and legs. When you take thirty eleven different medications everyday to be able to function and then go off of them cold turkey because you can't keep things in your body, you get real sickly, real quickly.

Well, to make the long story not quite as long, within an hour my strength did start to return. I took it slow, had a popsicle, a quarter of a pb sandwich, a little yogurt... just a bite here and there to test it. I am still sort of sensitive to heat and light and my eyes are still swimming when I read too long... I've battled a headache for the past two days but I'm much, much better and I'm grateful... for parents who modeled faith and determination... who taught me how to ask for help by giving me the confidence to know that they would hear and respond to my needs and who extend grace in amounts that are beyond what we deserve... I'm so grateful to stand in need and even though that brief interlude with feeling like I'd been doing quaaludes (just guessing, I never have) put my misery in context for me.

If you're still with me... here's the takeaway:
Bad stuff is gonna happen.
Sometimes that bad stuff will get worse.
Take stock of who is around you.
Place your trust where it belongs.
Don't be afraid to ask.
Don't be ashamed to ask.
And be grateful. I am so grateful to be back to the normal pain level.
We've got this.

Goodnight y'all!