My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Monday, April 30, 2012

Reasons to Love Monday - Ignoring the Elephant

Hello and Goodbye to Monday and the Month of April 2012! I decided I needed to do my usual "Reasons to Love Monday" blog entry because of no other reason than my own mental health. There's an elephant in the room in that I have this old, ugly unemployment appeal hearing to face tomorrow and as much as I want it to be decided... I'm not looking forward to it. I figure... it will be just like hemorrhoid surgery: I'll face it, it will be really unpleasant for a period of time and then, the healing will begin. Good/bad/ugly... it has to happen.

So ... here are my "ignore the elephant in the room" Reasons to Love Monday:

  • It's almost over, Monday, I mean. And the whole unemployment ordeal. 
  • We had a really good, safe, happy birthday visit with the fam. I got to visit with my sweet cousin who I haven't seen in ... gosh... over a year... and enjoy her babies and I got to see my Aunt and Uncle's fabulous new home and got to really spend quality time with people I haven't had much quality time with over the past year. 
  • I woke up this morning in the "Butterfly Room" which was delightful and peaceful and comfy and cozy... had coffee on the porch with my Aunt and Uncle before it got hot and I was able to get on the road after rush hour. 
  • We had chickfila for breakfast. And lunch. Because we always buy two meals whenever we go there. 
  • Austin was incredibly cooperative this weekend. That always helps.
  • We bought Austin's graduation outfit today with no stress or fuss. Shopping with him is not generally easy.
  • We had a great Starbucks visit courtesy of Mother Hen Linda who sent us a generous gift card for my birthday.
  • Austin decided that my new snow globe from Colleen is (and I quote) "the coolest snow globe" he has ever seen. High praise indeed!
  • I keep arguing that blog perks such as fabulous birthday gifts mean that I am a "compensated writer"... although Austin says that I can't possible be a "real writer" because I don't get paid for it (like Miss Natalie, he says). Whatever the case, it truly means the world to me that people who don't know me in real life are so generous. 
  • DESPITE the nasty gram from Austin's English teacher advising that Austin is currently failing English and therefore *might not graduate*... despite the fact that I've spent near about $150 of money that I can't afford to spend on his graduation attire... despite the fact that he copped an attitude with me (Austin, not the teacher) when I told him it was now or never... I'm still believing that he will make it. He just has to. 
  • Daddy made me some homemade pimento cheese... which, if you're southern enough to like pimento cheese, you're southern enough to pronounce it "puh-menna cheez"... and in either case... it's good eats.
  • It got up to 86 degrees here today and the house is still comfortable, thanks to the fact that we don't get direct sunlight. I imagine we will have to use the a/c in the next day or two but at least we made it all the way through April without a/c. That's never happened for me.
  • Someone cut the little patch of grass outside our door that has been neglected all Spring. I don't mind, other than worrying about snakes, but it's cut now so that's nice.
  • I have already paid all the bills (I think) for May. It's just a matter of living expenses at this point. 
  • I've got a printer/scanner combo deal now... it was a hand-me-down from my parents but I'm super excited to have it and I plan to do some photo scanning in my free time. The printer works but needs ink so I can print my own resumes and cover letters. 
  • I have done a lot of genealogy type research over the past couple of days and I have been working on this handy-dandy notebook with diagrams tracing the individual family lines back as far as they can go. I haven't covered all the various branches but each one is like a treasure hunt. I love this stuff! 

And that's the way it is... here in "Ignore the Elephant" central. I'm not allowing myself to get stressed or anxious. God is in control. He's been all along. Whatever the outcome, I trust that it will work out for my good and His glory (and I'd appreciate it if a couple dozen of you will be kind enough to remind me of this if things don't go my way). God is good.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Thoughts from the "Middle Ages"

So now I am 44. I think this qualifies as officially middle age.

I don't mind aging... the numbers don't bother me... not from a vanity standpoint. I don't envy the young because I know that wisdom, knowledge, understanding, gratitude all grow exponentially with each passing year. Youth only means that you still have many lessons yet to learn.

I don't worry about the random strands of grey hair, even though they are harder to tame. I don't notice wrinkles, even if my laugh lines are still there when I'm not laughing... and although my forehead looks like I'm in deep thought, even when I'm not thinking. I don't mind that my beauty, such as it was, is fading.

I'm not crazy about the aches and pains that have become my constant companions. I wish aging didn't cause so much wear and tear on this old bag of bones.

In some ways I miss the hectic chaos of being a single mother of three little boys... but in so many more ways I'm grateful that I have successfully raised three boys to be (relatively) independent young men. Quiet days are a just reward for the drought of silence in my younger years.

I'm not who I thought I'd be at this stage of life. Twice I've closed the book of my life at the page that says, "and they lived happily ever after" only to open it again and cross through the words "ever after" and put an expiration date on that marriage. I don't have the home or the job or the partner that I thought I'd have. The story wasn't written the way I thought it would be... but in so many ways it's been so much better than I could have imagined.

For every expectation I had that didn't play out the way I thought it would... I've had an unexpected blessing that far outweighs what I thought I had lost.

I've loved a lot. Laughed a lot. Been surrounded by friends I didn't deserve. Lost some family members that didn't deserve me. Encountered strangers who I'm certain were angels. Encountered husbands I was certain were of the devil.

I look up to my Sweet Steel Magnolias who are double my age and I know that they both have carried burdens that I couldn't begin to bear and done it with grace and dignity and beauty. I am encouraged that their blood runs through my veins.

I spent hours last night feeding my genealogy habit, tracing back in both directions and wondered about the names there... what heartaches did they face? What disappointments did life bring them? How did they survive? Faith? Gumption? Determination? All of that and more, I'm sure. Knowing what I know as a student of history about their various times on their planet, coupled with anecdotal evidence and even just the basics - born this year, died this year - I know that they set forth a legacy I can be proud of.

I'm far enough along in the journey to look back with pride at the roads I've traveled and look forward in anticipation to the beauty that still lies before me. I'm far enough along in the journey to realize that my life will someday, maybe, be a source of encouragement for someone else.

Last year my birthday treat for myself was a day off of work to enjoy the Royal Wedding and to take care of some details about my health. This year I'm taking a day off of my constant nest-resting to shake the cobwebs off and spend some time with the three dimensional people. It may be physically demanding but it will be a mental vacation from the stress of the nest. And yes, there is stress in not knowing what the future holds.

It's my birthday. I don't know why people think birthdays are less of a big deal as you get older... I think they're a WAY bigger deal as you get older because you can appreciate the blessing of surviving - and hopefully thriving - another year.

Time to glam and get on the road. Have a great day, y'all!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Updates, Random Information and All That Jazz

It's dark and stormy outside and the little tiny temperature icon on my computer is flashing red, meaning there is bad weather in our area.

I think I've mentioned before... I know that I'm addicted to the internet because if I see it raining outside, I immediately sign on to the Weather Channel website to confirm that it is INDEED raining... instead of, oh, I don't know... going outside to actually FEEL the rain.

I can also tell that bad weather is going through because the arthritis in my spine is awful in bad weather. It stinkin' hurts today.

I started the new blood pressure med and my blood pressure this morning was.... 144/85. Right now I am taking the following meds for my blood pressure:

  • hydrochlorothiazide 25mg  (this is technically to reduce swelling)
  • atenolol 100mg
  • losartan potassium 50mg
  • prevastatin sodium 20mg  (this is for cholesterol)
  • amlodipine besylate 5mg   (this is the evil drug that they think is causing all the swelling, we lowered the dose)

There are four additional medications I'm supposed to take to control the issues with my back/fibromyalgia. I have been trying to wean off two of those, however, as they cause weight gain and so its counter-productive to take medication to help my pain but cause me to gain weight which makes the pain worse.

At any rate, I'm up to the gills in pills. Pharmaceutical Industry, you're welcome.

The little weather icon has changed to orange. Perhaps the worst of the storm has passed. I don't think it ever rained, just got dark.

I've been eating much healthier this week, not counting the butter cookies I bought at the Ingles bakery. I bought a red velvet cupcake at the Country Bake Shoppe but it was, frankly, a little dry. Have you ever seen blue velvet cake? There's a recipe that keeps showing up on the ad section of my facebook. I've been trying to stick closer to whole foods/clean eating, which is usually cheaper and always healthier. I don't care how I look, I just want my back to stop hurting. Whatever will lead to that end, I'm willing to do.

I'm going to visit my parents, my kid and kid-in-law, my aunt and uncle and my cousin this weekend for my birthday. It's also my cousin's birthday. I'm excited! It will do us good to have a change of scenery and keep my mind off of things. The drive will not be easy but... heck... days like today, even just sitting isn't easy.

In the grand scheme of things, this is a source of stress but it is not what will ultimately define who I am. Although, as I mentioned yesterday, I'm not *exactly* sure who I am, I only know that it is changing. Change isn't necessarily bad.

I've been watching In Session a lot. Court drama fascinates me. I have a little crush on Vinnie Politan.

I've also been watching (as I mentioned last week) old reruns of The Waltons. I re-love that show!

I'm also playing a lot of Castleville. If you play, I've got a great tip for you: when you are visiting a friend, if you go to their little icon at the bottom of the page, hold down the shift key and click on the royal symbol in the upper right hand portion of their icon box it will automatically collect from any of their royal buildings that you are a member of. Saves you from having to go all over their kingdom to find the purple highlighted buildings to click.

I've got a half dozen projects started but not finished due to lack of motivation.

Today is a pajama/no makeup day for me.

Hope you're having a great day! Love and hugs!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Whiny Wednesday - Turning My Eyes Upon Jesus

Oh soul are you weary and troubled? 
No light in the darkness you see? 
There's light for a look at the Savior 
and life more abundant and free. 

I have learned, over the past decade of struggle to only allow myself to feel the things that I'm capable of handling. I intentionally remove myself from situations that will put me on a collision course with my reality. I can't tell you how many times I've blogged through tears, blown my nose and washed my face and let it go. 

Letting go is healthy, to some degree... but in my avoidance of feelings, I've shut myself off, somewhat, from the world. People call and I don't answer. People text and I don't respond. The simple question, "how are you?" is, most of the time, unanswerable for me, especially if I know that the other person truly cares because then, I run the risk of breaking down.

I am hurt. I am hurting. I am not issuing invitations to my pity party because (in my mind) people don't want to hear it and even if they do, I DON'T WANT TO SAY IT. I feel like Job. (not job -as in employed, Job, as in the afflicted character from the Bible). I feel like I have to offer up a blessed, "God is in control" or some other positive platitude to counter the reality of what I am feeling so that people don't feel sorry for me.

I had a job that I loved. I had a lot of pain there, without a doubt but I loved helping with our customers.  

For twenty six years I have been a mother. I have been dealing with the public school system since 1992. Even when my marriages have failed, I have always had the nonstop responsibility for someone under the age of 18. They were my constant companions. They rolled with the punches (and there were many "punches") and gave me a reason to get up in the morning. That stage of life is over.

I have no desire to meet a nice man and settle down. There are a few who are interested in me and I keep them at arm's length. I don't want to risk allowing someone into my life and them deciding that I'm not who they want. I can't risk another rejection. 

My body has failed me and I have failed my body. I indulged more than I should and carried more weight than my spine could handle and I am now weak and in pain and unable to do the basic things I need to do to provide a clean, safe environment for myself and my adult child (who still needs me). I don't want to be one of those people whose entire life is shaped by disability. I want to be able to walk in the woods, sit at a desk all day (if necessary), travel and shop and embrace life without having to frame it all in the context of "will this hurt?".

I have lost my financial independence. I have lost what little bit of security I had. I can't depend on my physical strength.  I have lost my definition of wife, mother, employee. I don't really know who I am right now. I don't know where we will live, where (or if) I will work. And despite my strong belief that God IS in control (I don't just say it, I really do believe it) I am wandering in the desert and don't really know how to find my way. 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. 

God has a unique way of dealing with me. Perhaps it isn't all that unique. When I am truly meditating, voicing my concerns and fears and frustrations, opening my heart to the One Who Already Knows what is in there, He never fails to give me something to hold on to. It may be a passage of scripture. It may be a song. It may be just a thought or something I've heard taught. But when I listen, He gives me an earworm. (something that gets stuck in your head, like a song you heard on the radio). 

I have to confess that over the last month or so, I haven't been talking to God as much as I used to. Odd, to think that in this time that I have needed Him so much more, I have been less willing to go to Him. It's the raw feeling of failure that I don't want to address, even with the One Who Already Knows. I don't want to go there. I don't want to say, "God, I'm disappointed. God, I'm afraid. God, I'm grieving the loss of the life I knew. God, I feel abandoned and alone. Please don't make me feel what I'm really feeling". 

His Word shall not fail you, He promised, believe Him and all will be well. Then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell: 

Turn  - don't ignore your pain, give it to Him

Look - don't be afraid to open your heart, He sees it already

And the things - things that are temporary, this too shall pass
of this earth
will grow 
strangely dim


Not by what I can see, not by what I already know, but by the grace of the One Who Went Before Me, who knows my pain already because He has carried it to the cross. He who has lovingly caught every tear that has fallen from my eyes and healed the hurts inside me, both physical and emotional, acknowledged or pushed aside. 

This Whiny Wednesday, I'm turning my eyes upon Jesus. Love and hugs, y'all. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

one man's trash is another man's treasure

One man's trash is another man's treasure.
This applies to more than just flea market and yard sale finds. It applies to people too.
Some can only see the diamond when it's polished up and placed in an expensive setting.
Some have enough imagination to see the diamond in the rough and the patience to transform it into something that has universal value.
I've always thought that young people are more physically attractive because they don't yet lack the maturity to see less than obvious beauty. 
You become attracted and fall in love with the exterior and if you're blessed, by the time that beauty fades, you have fallen in love with the interior.
This is why it breaks my heart when people cast aside the partner of their youth and move on to greener pastures.
Yes, obviously, sometimes there are good reasons to leave instead of cleave, I found two excellent reasons of my own. 
But don't we miss out on the opportunity to witness the metamorphosis of character if we don't commit to the long haul?
Becoming who I am has been - continues to be - a painful process. 
So many times I have had to look back in shame at the decisions I made. 
I try not to play the "what if?" game going backwards... like a Monday morning quarterback. 
I try to just play the "what if?" game going forward... accepting and embracing possibilities. 
I think they call that ambition. Optimism. Hope.
I pray that God will always give me the ability to see the hope in hopeless situations.
I pray that He will always allow me to see the beauty in the ashes. 
I want to be the kind of person who can always say, "hold on, it will get better."
And by His grace, I can say those words with the authority that only comes from experience.
There are many battles in life that I would not have chosen to fight.
Yet, still, I am grateful that the choice was not always mine to make.
I might have chosen to take the easier path and missed out on the opportunity to say with all sincerity and honesty, "I know what you're going through". 
The very things I have grieved in life - am grieving - are the very scales that needed to be peeled away from my eyes so that I could see beauty where otherwise there might have been none.
He gives beauty for ashes, strength for tears, gladness for mourning, hope for despair.
I am grateful to not be who I might have been had I taken the easier path.
I'm grateful that my life has been filled with three legged cats and non-honor roll students and small apartments and trailers instead of mansions and people who might not be as socially acceptable and perfect. 
I'm grateful for every person I loved who didn't love me back.
I'm grateful for everyone who loved me beyond what I deserved.
I'm grateful for the treasure I find where others might see trash.
And I'm grateful for those who see treasure in me.
God is good.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Reasons to Love Monday, halfway through Monday

I'm closing in on 100,000 blog views! I didn't put the counter up when I first started blogging here... and if you combined that with my first blog thru AOL, I might be closer to a million!
At least in my head...
And I will grant you that a good percentage of those views are me looking to see if I have comments... but still... for a girl like me who feels like the Queen of Incompleted Projects, having something so consistent in my life feels amazing.
SO thank you for your encouragement to be consistent in this.
Now... on with the show... although we're effectively halfway through Monday, I didn't want to miss out on my "Reasons to Love Monday" for this week.

1. I woke up this morning.
2. I went to the doctor this morning... and although the results were not good... I'm thankful to be able to see the doctor and to receive (what I can only assume is) appropriate health care.
3. My blood pressure was still high but not as high as it has been.
4. We added a fifth (yes... fifth) blood pressure medication but again, I'm thankful that I am able to have access to potentially life saving, or at least life extending medications.
5. It's cool and windy outside but the sun is bright and we're not having to use the dreaded "climate control" (heat or a/c) in the house today. We might have to tonight... going down into the thirties.
6. Austin didn't go to school (again) today. Will he graduate? I have no idea. Even if he does pass everything, I'm not sure he will walk in graduation. We have not been able to obtain a cap and gown for him. I didn't order when we were supposed to because I didn't have the money but I knew we could order online. When I went back a few weeks later to order online... it said to contact the school. Austin has been supposed to talk to his counselor for two weeks and hasn't. I could intervene but geez... if the kid can't do what he needs to do... at 18? Anyways... he's home and he's helping around the house. Sorta.
7. Stubby is loving his cat bed that I bought back before Christmas. Happy Cat = Happy Crazy Cat Lady.
8. I didn't have to have blood work again this morning. They want to wait another month. The downside was that I fasted thinking I was going to have to have blood work. The upside is that I can afford to miss a meal.
9. The Dove Awards are being broadcast tomorrow and for the first time EVER I have the channel that they're on as part of my satellite package. Chonda Pierce, who I LOVE, is the host. She is some kind of crazy! The Dove Awards are like Grammys for Christian music. I listen to contemporary Christian music and showtunes so the only awards shows that interest me are the Dove Awards and the Tony Awards. Random, I know.
10. I'm loving my cute new 'do. I've got to remember how much better I like my hair at this length and be less lazy about getting it cut.

So that's the happy, happy, happenings around here today. Hope whatever you're doing today, no matter how yucky Monday can be, I hope that you find a few reasons to love Monday, too!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

my new 'do and proof that I'm a cat lady

Just a few pictures for you... my new haircut which turned out better than I had initially thought... this is after blow drying and just quickly running the straightening iron through it... took about ten minutes which is the perfect limit for a glam routine for me!
The rest of the pictures are of my Trouble cat. He is such a little cartoon kitty! I especially love when he moves his climbing tree over beside his little box cave. The light isn't great but you can still tell what a goofy little fur-ball he is. In the first picture he's sitting on my modem which is in the corner behind my recliner. He's absolutely disgusted that he's not getting any attention. The next picture is a "look at me" picture. He gets so jealous of the laptop! 

And yes, I realize that makes me a true "cat lady". Just me and the cats. And you know... it's not so bad!
Hope you're having a great weekend!

My responsibility to you - Ephesians 4:29

I woke up just as the first light was beginning to shine through the woods outside our little nest. Gentle breezes are making rustling sounds through the trees and the birds are singing. My kid is still sound asleep and the kitties are in their respective perches, appreciating their lazy lives.

I'm having an awesome cup of coffee with amaretto flavored creamer. Battling a little bit of a headache and a good bit of pain in my back. Uncomfortable but not unbearable. I could easily go back to sleep but I hate to miss this beautiful morning. Sleeping is for the time when you can't look out and see the splendor all around you. I want to memorize this view so that I can treasure it the rest of my life, wherever life may take us.

Yesterday I applied for a full time job in Macon, Georgia. Who knows if I could get it? It's so far away from where we live - about three hours. I'm just going to open my mind and heart to whatever God has for me. In some ways, it's about restoring my confidence which has been more than shattered over the past year and a half. I need a clear, unclouded perspective of my value as an employee that is not influenced by someone who intends to cause me harm.

I wish that I had never heard the things I heard him say against others. It makes me realize that it is likely he will say the same - or worse - about me. I'm in such a place of insecurity already, knowing that physically, whatever I do is going to hurt. Wherever I go, I'm going  to struggle just to overcome my own limitations. Having to overcome the false accusations against me is another huge barrier for me. I'm truthfully, very discouraged about my prospects.

Therefore... whatever would have been difficult already in this economy... whatever would have been difficult due to my disability... whatever would have been difficult because of someone who seeks to destroy my career and livelihood (for what gain, I can't fathom)... these things together seem like an impossible situation. The good news is that I serve a God who specializes in hopeless causes. I know this because He continues to make a way for me when there seems to be no way.

The fact that it is such a bleak prospect gives room for God to show all of us who He really is. I have to keep my focus on the eternal perspective of all of this. The bigger my problem, the bigger the faith that is required, the bigger the blessings His solution provides, the richer my testimony becomes and the more that my situation inspires others.

I know that this page, this blah-g is my testimony. I've been reading a lot about another blogger who has held herself up to be an example and somewhere along the way lost her perspective. She was lifted up with many following her... and her change of attitude is now a source of great frustration and discouragement to others. Many question her faith and now use her as an example against Christianity.

My blah-g sees about 100 faces a day. It is such a small, small number of readers compared to what many bloggers have but I feel a sense of accountability for each and everyone who reads here. There are some who come because they care about me and want to know how I am doing. There are some who come because they wish me harm and want to witness my demise. That's ok. I'm responsible for them all, I will one day stand before God and answer to how I used my small amount of influence.

So I will say this to you: I don't know what my future holds. I pray that God will allow us to be HERE because I love it here so much. I am doubtful that will happen, hopeful but doubtful. God has been preparing my heart for a season of change. I only know one thing for certain: whatever circumstances I am in, God will be there with me. Wherever I go, whatever I do, it is my belief that He intends for me to live my life out loud so that others will be encouraged by my life.

If my struggles, disappointments, frustrations and ... ultimate victories...bring encouragement to anyone else that changes their ability to deal with struggles, disappointments and frustrations... then it will have been worth it. I am willing to be an example. I appreciate so much that you are willing to listen, that you are willing to come here. It feels sometimes like a one-sided conversation (like talking to my cats) but I know that you are out there and that you care and that you (most of you) are praying, wishing, hoping for the best for me.

May the love of God take root in all of your hearts. May you know Him better. May you find salvation through Him. May your life be an encouragement to others. Love and hugs!

(I had another passage of scripture picked out but this one really jumped out at me... it is my admonition to myself!)

Ephesians 4:29

 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

*yawn* my boring life....

You know you've been out of work too long when your definition of "dressed up" means that your fuzzy socks are in the same color scheme and your sweatshirt is on right side out.

Today... I'm... "business casual". No socks. Sweatshirt on inside out but at least not on backwards. I didn't put on makeup today but I did brush my teeth and my hair.

I made a quick grocery run at the crack of dawn this morning. Just a few ingredients because I was in the mood for taboule and my fabulous three bean salad. I'm not sure it qualifies as "cooking" but I did put the ingredients together all by myself. AND... I used my food processor that my parents got me for Christmas. Finally.

The process of food shopping (albeit brief), emptying the dishwasher, boiling the water for the taboule, chopping the tomatoes and cilantro, opening the cans of beans, mixing, cleaning up, etc took less than an hour and... by the end of that hour I already had cankles. When my legs swell they get red and hot and it makes my skin itchy and my joints ache. = Misery.

Doctor appointment on Monday. Finally.

It's prom day for Austin's school. He isn't going. No interest, whatsoever. He's just not one of those "traditional high school experiences" kind of kids. I'm ok with that.

Yesterday I had two junior burgers from Wendy's, one plain baked potato (also from Wendy's) (Wendy's was my reason to get out of the house yesterday, I try to find a reason to leave the house at least once every day. Seriously.) Anyways... Wendy's for lunch. A bowl of frosted mini-wheats for dinner. A bowl of popcorn for a snack. My eating is seriously unhealthy. Not that any of those things were BAD, per se, they just weren't really nutritious.Thus, the taboule and three bean salad. Must. eat. better.

Austin spent the night with a friend last night. I missed his occasional pop-ups. He'd still be asleep, even if he were home but it feels lonely without him.

Three hour "How I Met Your Mother" marathon this morning... Parking Wars marathon this afternoon. Then a new episode of "Welcome to Sweetie Pie's". Exciting, right?

Yesterday I watched about a half dozen episodes of The Waltons. I had not realized how cutting edge that show really was... if you think about it... they dealt with depression (a young widow was staying with them), racism (a "native american" was arrested for trying to burn down their barn because it was built on an ancient indian burial ground), Olivia, Jim Bob and Elizabeth got lost in the woods (made me teary when they finally found them)... there was an episode where John Boy was covering the landing of the Hindenberg... WWII drama... I mean, really, it was a lot more than just a sweet little depression era family.

Also... I had not realized that Grandpa (Will Geer) was an avowed communist and also bi-sexual. I'm not passing judgment on either, I'm just saying, Grandpa? Really?

It's raining. Poor girls with their prom hairdo's! But... I love the sound of the rain outside my open windows... makes everything really beautiful shades of green!

Our power bill for the past month was only $58! Makes me super happy to not have to use artificial climate control! I've already paid rent, power, internet/satellite, Austin's health insurance, trash pickup... everything I can think to pay... to get us through the end of May. The only thing I haven't paid is our monthly insurance bill for car, renters, life, etc. Just leaves living expenses (such as food) and medical expenses. I've stopped depositing unemployment checks because if they reverse the decision, I have to pay all of that back. Sad but true.

Anyways... so that's what's going on around here today. Hope you're all having a super Saturday!

Friday, April 20, 2012

A few verses and Peters Woods

Will you indulge me a few moments of inspiration this morning? My friend Sharon (whose dad and my dad have been friends for 30-some-odd years, we grew up in the same little church) sent me this passage last night and I said, "yes... thank you!... exactly! .... amen!" all the way through it. 

Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; 
Though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.
For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion:
In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me:
He shall set me high upon a rock. 
I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord: be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!

Psalm 27:3, 5, 13-14

I don't want to preach but I do want to just offer up that selection of verses as my themes for the day:

no fear
hidden... yet....exalted

At least those are the themes that reach out and grab me. 

I mentioned yesterday how exhausting it can be to stay positive when the pause button has been pushed. It's a season - a brief season - of uncertainty for us and we know that we can't continue to exist under our current circumstances, any more, truthfully, than we could have expected to continue to exist under the circumstances I was living and working in before. There is a quality of life issue involved. The constant pain... constant feeling of being unappreciated... inability to do even the basic things in life at the end of a work day... we were surviving but we weren't really living what I would call an abundant life. 

I don't know what lies ahead. As I was messaging with one of my dear mother hens this morning, there are many variables and moving parts and potential outcomes for my situation. Will I win the appeal over unemployment? Will I be able to find another job in this area? Will I be physically able to continue full time employment in perhaps a more conducive setting for me? Would it be better for Austin and I to NOT be living on our own? Should I pursue other passions and interests that, although they may not pay as well, would be more fulfilling? Should I file for disability? What means of income would we, could we have in the interim? 

I'm trying to reconcile the concept of being hidden yet exalted. "In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me"... and... "He shall set me high on a rock". It means one thing to me but I'd be interested to hear what you guys think. I see it as... being safe and secure, tucked away from harm (like when Trouble gets under the bed)... yet, although I'm not in the spotlight, although I'm not receiving fame and fortune and human accolades... in the scope of God's kingdom, I'm important and valued and, well, special. 

Can you imagine how easy it would be as an unemployed, single, almost empty nester with chronic pain to feel like you don't matter? Yet. Maybe I have a falsely inflated sense of self-worth but I do, definitely, one hundred percent, without hesitation or reservation, feel that my life makes a difference... that it has in the past, that it will continue to in the future, that even when I am alone I am not forgotten... hidden in the tabernacle, set high on a rock. 

And without getting too "theological" here... because that's not really my strong suit... for me, the "tabernacle" is the place where the Holy Spirit was. There are all these rules and regulations set forth in the Old Testament about how, when, why, who, etc can go into the tabernacle. It was portable - unlike the temple, which was a permanent place. It was only for the most special of Godly people. Jesus Christ, of course, by his death, burial and resurrection, I believe, granted us, as believers, entry into the tabernacle and even into the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place. Like the cat under the bed. 

And the rock... for me... is the firm foundation of faith. I'm 5'1 or 5'2, depending on whether I'm standing up straight. Not very tall. And since I've lost some of my mobility and flexibility, I can't really jump or climb like I used to. And... thanks to fifteen months of bad combinations of medicine and lack of movement and lack of discipline... I'm not exactly featherweight. That's a pretty big God to be able to haul my chunky self up on a rock, even if it is figurative and not literal. Even if it IS just figurative, the things that are weighing me down are a lot to drag up "high on a rock". I'm carrying a heavy burden, y'all. So it's precious to me to know that He can and will tote me up on a rock, exalted, even. 

I would have lost heart unless I had believed... this is all so overwhelming and could be, if I let it, discouraging and frightening and ... well, all of those things that we feel when we don't know where the pathway is taking us. 

When I was a kid there was this place near us that we called, "Peter's Woods". And in Peter's Woods there supposedly lived a colony of what we referred to as "water heads". I wasn't entirely sure of why "water heads" (a horribly, politically incorrect term for people with hydrocephalus)... why they were so scary or why they would be living in some group encampment out in the "vast wilderness" of south Fulton county / Fayette County, Georgia. I guess it was our version of zombies. Not really sure. At any rate... some well-intentioned but totally misguided youth pastor had this overnight "spook hunt" for us and took all of us out (riding in the back of pickup trucks, if I remember correctly) and made us get out IN PETER's WOODS! IN THE DARK! WITHOUT FLASHLIGHTS! Looking back... it was a liability claim just waiting to happen and it was during the time of the missing and murdered young people in Atlanta so it's not as if we were living in Mayberry!  

So this group of us is huddled together inching forward through the woods trying to figure out the path just by the moonlight. Maybe this was some evangelical effort to have us give our hearts to Jesus before our bodies were sacrificed to the water heads. I don't know. I just remember it was terrifying as we walked along. You would hear a scream from someone nearby and not know what they were screaming about. I should also point out that my sweet brother and his friends hid in the woods and jumped out and grabbed me and scared the dickens out of me. When I die before him, at least part of the reason will be because he took ten years of my life off that night.

That's what this season of life feels like for me. I'm surrounded by friends. None of us really know where my path is leading. It's dark. It's unfamiliar territory. There isn't a flashlight. There is just a little moonlight and a little faith. There are pitfalls and scary things out in the darkness but I have to keep moving despite my uncertainty. 

Time to get a shower, see if I can figure out how to style my hair. I wasn't thrilled with the cut yesterday, I think I could have done a better job with a bowl and a pair of my coupon cutting scissors. I don't really have any big, exciting plans for the day but I'm not going to lay around in my pjs with bedhead and no makeup. Hope you have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Dick Clark is dead and I don't feel so good myself.
I don't know what I'm always compelled to start my blog entries that way whenever someone famous has died.
I mean no disrespect, of course.
I spent countless hours watching American Bandstand. (does anyone else insert the pause between band & stand like they did in the theme song?)
Sad that he's gone but I know the past few years haven't been easy for him.

This has been the hardest week for me. I don't feel well. My joints ache so bad. It hurts to move and it hurts to sit still.  I mean, I could do a lot of things... I'm in a beautiful corner of the world... but it hurts so much to do anything and I'm still battling the swelling in my legs (and can't see the doctor until Monday). It's really painful for me to drive because my legs swell and the skin feels tights and they get hot and itchy. And... I'm just trying to be as financially conservative as I can, not knowing if I have to payback everything I've gotten so far from unemployment and trying to make sure I have enough money to handle bills until I go back to work. I am trying to avoid unnecessary trips to town.

I do have to go into town today to mail something (no outgoing mail receptacle here) and to get my meds refilled and to take some books to the library. I'm still on a quest to get some coiffing done - my hair is a frizzy mess. I need to stop by Windstream to discuss a discrepancy in their billing (again). Just lots of little stops while  keeping all my resources in perspective... knowing that I only have about an hour before the swelling gets bothersome... doing things logistically so that I don't waste gas. You know, trying to be responsible and all that. I feel like a tumbleweed.

I had no idea how mentally exhausting it is to maintain a positive attitude when you spend so much time cooped up. I mean... I will start to stress over things and I have to take a deep breath and remind myself of the truth of the situation:

Yes, you may have the unemployment decision reversed but you never thought it would be approved in the first place. You are prepared, you have done everything you could and it's out of your hands.
Yes, you may not be able to find a job here but that doesn't mean that you won't find a job. God has it all planned out.
Yes, it seems like time has stood still but Austin graduates in a month and six days. Whatever next season lies ahead is so very close!
No matter what happens, you have plenty of support. You will never be homeless.
You need to appreciate the break and take this opportunity to heal and rest.

All of this sort of self-talk. What's beautiful... and unique about this time of my life is that it's the only time I've ever truly been able to genuinely, one hundred percent, take time off and relax. I had a kid, a husband and a full time job from the time I was 18. Even during the times of my life where I've not worked... I've always worked and had responsibilities. The last time I was unemployed I was in production for three shows and working 12 or more hours a day WITH three kids still at home AND cleaning houses and doing other things to earn money. I've never really taken vacations. I've had time off here and there but it was always for a reason, other than a few short trips during the Darby Era and even then, there was so much stress and responsibility. To be able to get up in the morning and know that other than feeding the cats and making sure Austin gets home safely... there is nothing. NOTHING! I have to do and nobody to complain if I do nothing.

The thing is... I don't know how to do nothing. I mean... obviously... I've been figuring it out. What I mean is that I don't know how to do nothing without feeling guilty... like I should be doing something. But... yesterday, for instance... I swept the kitchen floor and remembered... I can't sweep the floor without pain. I ran into Helen with Austin and in that half hour, my feet were already swelling. It's like... if I'm doing nothing I feel guilty and if I'm doing something I feel like I'm being self-destructive. I swear... I've looked back on both sides of the family for hundreds of years and there's not a single Jewish ancestor but I own that Jewish guilt like it's my birthright!

This was totally not what I intended to blog about today... but apparently... that was all very close to the surface. I'm really coming to empathize with so many people! Every time I go through some trial or tribulation, I gain new perspective that, I hope, will make me a better person... a more compassionate, kind, caring, understanding and ... um, patient... person. I just have to figure out a way to get this new & improved Heather into a place where who she is makes a difference and is appreciated.

Hope you're all doing well. Have a great Thursday, y'all.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Whiny Wednesday

It's raining. And it's Wednesday. And I have never felt the full force of my various and assundry diagnosis'  in the way that I have in the past 24 hours. I ache so stinkin' bad. My joints ache... I was massaging my right wrist to alleviate the pain in the joint and the pressure of my fingers on my wrist was so intense. Imagine, if you will, a firm handshake... that hurts clear down to the bones. It hasn't been this bad for me before.

Other than that... it rained so hard last night that the rain came in between where the porch above us connects with the upstairs apartment and the rain soaked through the doorway and pooled up in the floor right inside, which fortunately, is linoleum for the first three feet or so. We no longer have a maintenance man on site so we have to submit repair requests in writing. Not that there's anything anyone could do in the pouring rain. Sounds like an insulation kind of problem... or a drainage problem... or whatever. In 9 months here this is the first time we've had this problem to this degree so I will just make the owner aware that someone needs to look at it.

Random, uninteresting events from the past few days:

  • I took Austin to school because it was raining so hard when it was time for his bus to come. 
  • I emptied the dishwasher and put in the few dishes from dinner last night. 
  • Last night's dinner was potstickers - the frozen kind - which were surprisingly very, very simple to cook and tasted as good (or better) than what we get when we order Chinese food which is very, very rare. My blood pressure + Chinese food? Bad idea.
  • The cats broke my lamp Monday night by fighting around it and knocking it to the ground for about the thousandth time. It was a tiny lamp, not really bright enough for my room (which is the largest room in the house). The overhead light in here is too stark... it gives me a headache... so I bought a floor lamp, one of those with the three bendy lights and I'm enjoying it very much. It was $20 at Walmart and I put it together ALL BY MYSELF!
  • I'm relieved that the rain washed my car for me. It was way beyond dusty. Dirt road + pollen - garden hose to wash car = mess!
  • Jennie Garth is on Fox and Friends and I love her to pieces. She's so cute! 
  • I had a little "blast from the past" yesterday who stopped by my facebook to give me a bit of encouragement. It was much, much appreciated. It's funny... it seems like *just* when I get discouraged and feel myself starting to slip... someone steps up and gives me an "attagirl". Coincidence? Maybe. I prefer to see it as Divine Intervention.
  • I watched the latest episode of 16 and Pregnant last night and wanted to drag the girl's mama through my tv screen and dot her eye! Your child is postpartum, homeless and distraught and you're going to yell at her about getting herself together? Compassion, much?
  • The patch of woods outside our Nest is the most beautiful shades of green right now! 
  • I made a big production of trying to solicit information on who could cut my hair last week and still haven't bothered to make any attempt at it.
  • Nor have I had my Muppet Brows waxed. 
  • I'm one frightening looking Yeti woman right now. I'm thinking of buying a pair of birkenstocks and just going with it. 
  • I haven't decided what to have for breakfast yet today. It seems like a good day for oatmeal but I also have some grapenuts that are calling my name. 
  • Austin has this thing for "eggo sandwiches" lately. He puts cream cheese in between two eggo waffles. It was his only request for grocery day. 
  • I think I will toss some chicken in the crockpot today. Good day for a crockpot. 

I'm doing some research on making money from my blog. There are some bloggers who make $20,000 a month from blogging - just from ads - but in that case you're looking at roughly 30,000 clicks a day. My blog gets about 100 hits a day so I am on a much, much smaller scale. There are some expenses involved in hosting, domain names, blah-blah-blah, things I don't quite understand and I'm not sure that it would pay for me to do the upgrades necessary to support potentially increased traffic. I'm also really, very reluctant to feel pressured to blog a certain way to try to appeal to any particular audience. I'm not *really* in the category of mommy bloggers... I'm not *really* a weight loss blog since I'm, well, not really losing weight... I'm sort of a survivors blog and I'm not sure that I could hold the interest of enough traffic to keep people coming back to see if I'm still unemployed, in pain, trying to get my kid raised, etc. I'm a blah-ger... not a blogger. I mean, how riveting is it to know that I washed the dishes and bought a lamp?

Guess I better stop blahgging and start glamming. A shower, a little makeup, some conditioner on my hair... gotta work on that immune system boost from liking the reflection in the mirror.

Happy Whiny Wednesday, y'all!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In every life... there's some reason for joy!

Adrian Burdick Biggs, born 4/16/12, 6lbs 8.8oz

I wanted to start the day with a picture of my new grand-nephew Adrian. His mom, Tiffany, is my younger brother Michael's daughter. They live in the Nashville area. Adrian is Tiffany's second boy (bless her heart!) joining Ethan James who just turned 4.

And so... now it's Tuesday. I got up early this morning, trying to stay on a "normal" schedule... ran a brush through my hair and put on a little makeup. My friend Barbie told me yesterday that when you look in the mirror and feel good about yourself, you boost your immune system for FOUR HOURs! I've been sort of living from the perspective of "why waste the mascara?" and I've decided that it's not a waste if it makes me feel pretty. I think I'm gonna glam every day, I mean, if it helps my immune system, right?

I've been working really hard at not dwelling on the whole unemployment appeal thing... reminding myself that I never thought I'd get it in the first place and if the decision is reversed, it just means that my suspicions were correct. I decided that I would devote a little time every morning to think back through things, review the documents again, brainstorm and make sure I have as much information as possible for my hearing. That's what I did this morning and it worked well for me. I thought of a few more details... was able to make some notes and when I was done... I closed the folder and put it away for the day. 

I'm no mental health expert (unless being crazy counts) but I know that for me, it's better that I not allow myself to become obsessed or overwhelmed with any one situation. I think when people get depressed it's because they're OPPRESSED by a situation that crowds out any joy from their life. I really have a good life and a beautiful family and a lot of really precious friends that have stood beside me for years. There are so many things that hold my interest, so much love and encouragement in my world. I'm determined to allow myself to be happy. It seems like people think they have to stay in a place of mourning when things aren't going right in their life. Any life - every life - will always have some reason for worry or stress or disappointment, if not today, then in the past or the future. You can flip that perspective around, though, and realize that every life has some reason for joy.

I was facebooking with a friend yesterday about how, as mommies, we tend to make our entire purpose in life be about our children. Now that I am a mom of adults (mostly) ... I've seen how flawed that attitude can be. In the same way that you can't expect a partner to be your entire source of happiness and well-being - nobody can live up to that kind of responsibility - you can't put that kind of responsibility on your kids. Think about how you felt as a teenager... who were the LAST people you wanted to hang out with? YOUR PARENTS! (not me, of course!) It's hard to lose the day-to-day interaction with your kids when they grow up but the pay-off is having well-adjusted, happy, adults that you have contributed to the world... your legacy... your pride and joy. I think from the time they're able to roll over and crawl and hold their own bottle... you start the process of letting go. I struggle with anxiety any time Austin is out of my sight. I just want to protect him from any bad decisions he might possibly make... but i can't. The umbilical cord gets cut at birth... it's not a slinky to pull them back to you if they stray too far. The best feeling in the world is when your kids spend time with you because they want to, not because you guilt them into it. 

I took the kid to school this morning and then made a Walmart run. I love Walmart in the early morning! I walked around for a bit and felt pretty good... then came home and picked up a little... and now I'm worn out! I can't seem to find that happy medium between being a slug and overdoing things. But I'm grateful that I can do whatever I want to do today! The bills are paid and there's food for the kid and the kitties and... it's just a good day to be me! 

Hope you're having a great Tuesday! Love and hugs!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Reasons to Love Monday!

I had another post halfway written and decided to get over myself for a little bit and see if I couldn't find a few Reasons to Love Monday. It may not be my best entry ever, but rest assured, it's heartfelt!

1. My niece Tiffany is having a baby today! Number two for her... another boy!
2. The headache that I've had off and on for the past few days is still here... but at least I have ibuprofen!
5. No matter what happens... no weapon formed against me will prosper. Whatever is supposed to be for me WILL be!
6. I am not cocky but I am confident.... which helps.
7. My initial reaction was to curl up in a ball and pull the covers over my head. I resisted.
8. I got a shower, did my hair and makeup, put on a cute dress and... even though I might not leave the house today, I'm feeling more empowered just by that very act.
9. Got a load of laundry done... working on the second...
10.  The weather is gorgeous, the house is still not requiring artificial climate control and it's great to be alive!
11. I have two new pens that write perfectly.
12. Austin went to hang out with his "married friend" yesterday afternoon and came home at the time I asked him to be home.
13. Austin went to school today. He's not been doing a good job of that but... today he did.
14. I'm learning (work in progress) that I am not defined by the perceptions of others but by the grace of God.
15. Not every story has a happy ending but every unhappy ending makes us stronger.
16. I have no regrets.
17. The stress and sadness that came upon me when I saw the appeal notice... gone. Nothing boosts your confidence  like staring into the face of a dragon. Compared to the other things I've faced in the past few years this is small potatoes.
18. I slept great last night!
19. I was really, really close to slipping into depression and... I realized that I didn't WANT to feel that way. Happiness really IS a choice.
20. These photos are dark but I wanted to show you how Trouble likes to "help me" when I'm on my laptop. He is just this big old fluffy ball of muppet fur!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Getting Past the Weeds

This is my yard. Not much of a yard, is it? We live sort of on the side of a mountain/hill/whatever you want to call it. 

When we first moved in... actually, for the first eight months we lived here... the "grounds" (so to speak) of our "apartment complex" (in quotes because it's really just a half dozen buildings with 4 apartments each owned by the same nice lady) were maintained by our upstairs neighbor. They moved and things are really looking unkempt and overgrown and... wild, in a way. 

This morning I had a bear of a headache... the kind that makes you want to take any and every drug in your medicine cabinet (except mine is a drawer) in hopes that something, anything, will make the headache go away. I didn't. Instead... I took a drive into Clarkesville and stopped by the Dollar General to buy some ibuprofen liqui-gels. I've tried just about every migraine medicine money can buy and nothing works as well as four ibuprofen. Always four. It's the equivalent of a 800mg motrin so it's not a risk to my liver or anything. Actually... my last blood test... oddly enough... showed my liver function was completely normal. Nothing ELSE was normal but my liver function is. Thanking God for small favors, right? 

Anyways... I drove into Clarkesville... about a ten minute ride from me... mostly just curvy, wooded roads... residential... no stoplights (just the one, actually) (wait... there's two.... anyways....) a couple of four way stops... easy drive, even with an ugly, bear of a headache. And, I decided to go ahead and drop off my power bill since I was *that close* to the place where you pay it. It was a pleasant drive and I cried the whole way.

I had to allow myself a little time to grieve. And so I did. I don't recommend this sort of thing with a headache because it takes you in the opposite direction from being "headache-less" but I just couldn't stand it another minute. Ultimately, because this is the way that I'm wired, God spoke some truths into my heart that brought me such incredible peace and encouragement. No weapon formed against me will prosper. That is what He has promised me. I believe it so strongly that I gave the very same encouragement to a friend who is engaged in her own battle-not-of-her-own-choosing against someone else who has abused their power for far too long. 

But in addition... He got me thinking on the beatitudes... you know, the "blessed are..." verses. I'll post them at the bottom of this entry for you to read, if you like. I believe with everything that I am that God didn't bring me this far to let me fall. I believe that there is nothing that happens by chance or circumstance. I would have written this story an entirely different way. My scenario, my plans were so very different. I tend to be a person who sees the path only through to the next bend in the road... and my next bend in the road was Austin's graduation and maturation to the point where he was no longer entirely dependent on me. I would have worked, Lord knows I would, as long as it took to make sure that he was settled and safe. 

My entire adult life, my entire career, every job I've ever had since 18 years of age has been because of my kids. I was a working mother because I knew that was the *only* way to guarantee that my kids had the things that they needed. 
I would never. ever. give up. on Austin. 

And then I pulled into our driveway... overgrown with grass and weeds and such... and remembered the tranquil beauty of this place when I first saw it. Yes, it's just a little basement apartment tucked away, down a dirt road, where the neighbors dogs come visit and if you hear tires on the gravel, you know someone is on their way to see you... nobody comes here by accident. Right now it's overgrown and weedy and forgotten and needy... but it's still quite a beautiful sight to me. It's home. 

And I realized.... that my life is a little bit lost in the weeds right now. Pain separates you from life. When you have to focus all of your energy on the very basics, it's hard to focus on much else. I'm paralyzed in a way... can't really get on with the next step until this season of life is finished. Can't really apply for jobs with other agents around here when I know that I run the risk of everything I say being funneled back and potentially used against me. I can't defend myself without accusing someone else and I'm not really wired that way. I can't see around the bend right now... but I'm trusting God and I know, that in His time, the weeds in my life will be pulled out, cut back, cleaned up... and I'll see the path more clearly. 

Matthew 5:3-10

New International Version (NIV)

   3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

4 Blessed are those who mourn, 

   for they will be comforted. 

5 Blessed are the meek, 

   for they will inherit the earth. 

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 

   for they will be filled. 

7 Blessed are the merciful, 

   for they will be shown mercy. 

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, 

   for they will see God. 

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, 

   for they will be called children of God. 

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 

   for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Night Special

Well. We knew this might happen. I got notice in the mail today that my former employer is appealing the decision to give me unemployment. I won't go too deeply into details until this is all settled because I don't want to give out too much information (first time for everything, right?).

Ultimately... I had held out no hope of receiving unemployment at the onset of this drama and the fact that I have, at least initially, been approved, shows me that my odds are much better than I thought. I can't wait until this is all over so I can share more... but in the meantime... I'm just going to make sure I've done what I can do and keep believing in good things for me and the kid. If I don't have a stroke between now and then, that is. Can't get the blood pressure under control.

So... other than that... we've had a pretty good day. The weather continues to be just absolutely perfect! Our house is still fairly cool because we don't get any direct sunshine and are in the basement... sort of.... and although I'm wearing the fuzzy socks and sweats in the house, outside I would absolutely roast dressed like that. I'm hoping it stays cool inside for not having to pay for "climate control" (heat or a/c). 

I'm having a hard time keeping anything on my stomach since the tummy bug the other day. Not for lack of trying... mind you... actually... I don't have much of an appetite and I don't feel good after I eat but it's probably because my friend Jen is having tummy trouble and I always seem to mirror whatever she's going through and vice versa. Last night we had yellow rice and green peas for dinner... I mean, it's a weird dinner and, no protein, and all that but it was what I wanted. And Austin... my weird little veggie eating kid... was mad that I "hogged the peas" (we had another can that he could have had). I woke up in the middle of the night with my belly just killing me and I'm thinking, "rice and peas? you're upset because of rice and peas? it's not like I had five alarm chili or anything". Just one of those things. I wasn't exaggerating about the viciousness of that virus. It was horrible. 

I'm relieved to know that my childhood bestie, Dewayna, is not at her home in Tornado Alley tonight. She's on vacay in Colorado... which is weird, because I would so love for her and my friend Amy who lives in Denver to hang out together. They would have a ridiculous time together! I was prepared to do the whole Jewish mother worrying about Dewayna but she's not in any harm in Colorado. I don't think. For those of you who are in harm's way... praying God's protection on you... 

My girls were in a wedding this evening... Sarabeth was a jr. bridesmaid and Jamie was a flower girl. As soon as I can hijack a picture, I'll post it. I had just a little peek and they were UH-dorable! They'll be in another wedding in May when Stasha and A.J. get married. Those girls have been in more weddings than Elizabeth Taylor! It helps that they're a matched set... and of course, since their parents worked with the youth group at church for so long... and teach in college... and work with the young adults at church now.... I mean, the girls are just in the right place. And so. durn. cute!

Austin allegedly cleaned his room last night. I haven't checked. I'm still missing a dozen pieces of silverware so I'm assuming he isn't finished... however.... the trash got taken out and the litter box was changed and the dishwasher was emptied (by me) and we still have plenty of food and the bills are all paid so I guess, what more can you ask out of life? Peace. Kitties. Internet. Life is good. Until further notice, anyways! 

Hope you are all having an awesome weekend! Love and hugs!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Can I Be Thankful on Friday Too?

With all three of my pregnancies, there came a point where I was no longer able to function at my normal level of productivity and I just sort of... well, nested. With each boy the amount of time differed based on my health and various complications... and I had many... but after the appointed time, each was delivered, safely, and I almost immediately returned to my normal level of activity. There is nothing that can compare to dropping so much body weight in such a short period of time! I nested, I rested and I was delivered (both literally and figuratively).  I can so vividly remember soaking in the tub the night before Austin was born and praying, "Lord, if you'll just let me deliver this child, I promise to NEVER get 'us' in this position again!" About 12 hours later Austin was born and I have held true to that promise.

That's *almost* what this current stage of life feels like for me: the quiet inactivity and nesting, waiting to be "delivered" from my afflictions. There is that same sense of anticipation. There is that same thought process of "if I can just hang in there for..." however much time.... I will be physically, emotionally and spiritually prepared for what lies ahead. The days pass slowly and conversely, fly by. I am so grateful that I am not laboring (literally) under a burden of pain that sitting at a desk eight hours a day was causing. I look back and I honestly can't imagine how I ever managed. There is still a lot of pain. If I forget, all I have to do is carry out the garbage or sweep the floor or do anything that involves repetitive motion or weight bearing. But the pain, mercifully, is lessened by the decreased demand on my body.

I don't exactly know what the next stage of life holds. I'm not anxious. I'm not afraid. God has provided so beautifully for us that this "season" of life feels so anointed! I'm both in a hurry to see what lies ahead and reluctant to rush through and cut short what God had ordained for me. I'm praying less but feeling more connected to a Greater Power, if that makes sense. I don't have the distractions that I have had for literally all of my adult life. I don't have the responsibilities of balancing work, motherhood, a significant other. I almost don't know how to act! I don't feel bored or lonely. I wish I was able to wander farther and have more faith in my own strength. Yet... I really enjoy not having the burden of doing more than I feel capable of doing.

We are still feeling weak from the ickies earlier in the week. That was a nasty, ugly, miserable virus. I'm so grateful to not have to rush back to work while I'm still weak and risk exposing others. From that... and from all the other things that I've been through in the last few years, my body needed a rest. I think back to the fact that I went from death's door to a psych ward to a situation where I had to be well enough - physically and emotionally - to get a job, find a place to live, resettle a very unsettled teenager in the space of literally two weeks... I can't even imagine how anyone could survive those circumstances! And then to be hit with a laundry list of physical ailments over the past four years that individually would have been a heavy load to bear but the sum of them... absolutely exhausted me. On the days that I sit here and just rest... I don't feel entitled but I do feel like it makes perfect sense.

I was perfectly happy to continue to work for as long as I could work. I loved the interaction with my customers, I loved making a difference but I also know that God's timing is perfect and that His hands are not tied by our earthly whims. I know that I am where I was meant to be for such a time as this and I am grateful that no weapon formed against me was able to prosper. Throughout the story of my life, time and time again, He has proven to me that what man means for my harm, God uses for my good. I'm so grateful to be *that girl*. I also know that whatever He has for me next, whether it's full time work, or part time work or... whatever... I know that it will be accomplished in His time.

This sounds more like a Thankful Thursday post than a Friday ... but that's what's on my heart today. Praying that you feel loved, blessed, chosen, called, favored, peaceful... in your own way as well. Love and hugs!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Thankful Thursday - Weakness

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

A facebook (and real life) friend posted this today and it jumped out at me on the screen and soaked into my heart like water filling a dry sponge. I immediately posted it on a friend's page who is going through an unimaginably stressful time. 

I've been blah-gging about things that don't matter so much, just to be consistent and to let y'all know I'm alive and kicking. I've got a few mother hens that worry if I don't post and I'm grateful! There hasn't been much going on in my life that I think would be interesting to anyone and honestly... I haven't felt particularly profound lately. I've been sort of blah - hence the blah-gging.

But that verse. That very concept. No matter what your concept of a Higher Power might be, the thought that in your weakness, you will receive power in a different way. When we are full of ourselves, ten feet tall and bullet proof, there is only room for ourselves. When we are humbled and brought low and desperate and weary... that is when there is ROOM for someone else to contribute to your life. And as the recipient of much, unbelievable generosity and blessings and love and encouragement that so greatly exceed what I can ever pay forward or pay back or even have words to sufficiently acknowledge... it gives me strength in a way that you can't possibly imagine. 

I want you to know that on this Thankful Thursday I am thankful for the things that make me needy:

I'm thankful that I'm unemployed.
I'm thankful that my spine is degenerating and compressing on itself.
I'm thankful for that stupid f word (fibromyalgia)
I'm thankful for the pain that makes me NEED to pray anytime I do anything.
I'm thankful for the fire that burned our duplex and made us need to move to a cheaper place.
I'm thankful for the men who should have loved me and didn't.
I'm thankful that I was once so distraught that I tried to end my life (and was, obviously, unsuccessful)
I'm thankful for the men who disrespected our wedding vows.
I'm thankful for the thousands and thousands of dollars of child support I never received.
I'm thankful for the weight I've gained and the clothes that don't fit.
I'm thankful for a night spent on the bathroom floor, too sick to move. 
I'm thankful for the nasty way that Austin snapped at me this morning.
I'm thankful that the litter box needs to be changed.
I'm thankful that I have a humble little rolling trashcan of a car. 
I'm thankful for distance, both geographical and emotional from loved ones.
I'm thankful that my mother and I were once distant... and now are reunited.
I'm thankful that I was brought up in a small house with four brothers and one bathroom and most of the time, one tv (a black and white, without cable until I was 12)
I'm thankful for every bill that's been late... every time the power or water was cut off.
I'm thankful that my car was repossessed (and returned, by the grace of God).
I'm thankful for every time the mortgage payment or the rent was late.
I'm thankful for every fight I've had with my kids.
I'm thankful for every friend who ever turned their back on me.
I'm thankful for every bad decision, every wrong turn, every regret. 
I'm thankful for every time I've lied. Every time I've done wrong. Every time I was sinner.
I'm thankful for my uncontrollable, curly/frizzy hair with streaks of grey.
I'm thankful for every bounced check.
I'm thankful for every time we ran out of money a week before payday with nothing in the pantry.
I'm thankful for every tear I've shed, ever disappointment I've felt, every time my feelings were hurt.
I'm thankful... y'all... are you following this? I'm so thankful that my life has been a life of need because it taught me that there is a GOD WHO CARES and who is intimately involved in the details of my life.

What does the Bible say? It's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to come to know God. Isn't it true that in our times of desperation we cry out to God? We may not darken the doors of a place of worship for years... we may not blow the dust off our Bibles... we may live like a sinner and act like our own god and yet, in the times of greatest need we CRY OUT! 

I'm going to encourage you to BOAST today about what is wrong in your life. I want to see hands raised and needs acknowledged and hearts humbled... and then, I so very much believe, you're gonna know the love of God in a way that you never have before. 

Happy Thursday, y'all!