Glacier National Park 2010

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Perfect Christmas

Christmas Day celebrations have come and gone.  There were happy moments and the prerequisite "family dramas" to round out the day.  This year we had the added element of severe weather. And by severe I mean tornado warning sirens going off at least six times between 3:30 and 7:30.....we were keeping a careful eye on the television weather reports and saw that a massive wedge shaped tornado had touched down in the Mobile neighborhood where my best friend lives. After several frantic phone calls and texts, she finally got a text through letting us know they were safe.

My daughter and I had a long conversation about Christmas celebrations.  I think there lies within a lot of women.....wives, mothers, girlfriends, etc. this deep seated need to make Christmas 'perfect,' the stuff of dreams and fantasies fueled by the constant influx of Hollywood films....."Miracle on 34th Street," both versions, "Its a Wonderful Life," "White Christmas," "Christmas in Connecticut," and I could go on and one. It was true for me for more years than I care to remember.....and I never accomplished or reached perfection. So I've quit trying....and I just take joy in whatever comes.

Because I've learned that I cannot 'create' happiness for anyone but myself......I'm willing to share my happiness with those around me, but their own happiness is their responsibility. 

And as for the "perfect Christmas," it doesn't exist....never has. Even the first Christmas wasn't perfect.....Mary and Joseph reached Bethlehem and found it full of travelers much like themselves. As a result, there were no vacancies at any inn.....then Mary went into labor somewhat unexpectedly I'm sure.  An innkeeper took pity and led them to a stable in the side of a hill....and as any woman who has given birth will tell you....a barn full of noisy animals is not an ideal place to give birth.

But thankfully, from those less than ideal circumstances came the birth of God's Son, His perfect gift to us in the form of an innocent maybe that Christmas was perfect after all.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Are You Ready For Christmas?

Christmas Eve, 50 degrees, cloudy with a chance of rain.......thanks to Pandora radio, Christmas music softens the quiet so that it feels more comforting than lonely. Having that first perfect cup of coffee and just thinking.

Looking around I note the chores I need to accomplish before everything is "ready for Christmas." There are still a few piles of clutter here and there and I definitely need to vacuum! And of course there are a few things to bake......nothing new or fancy this year.....just tried and true favorites.....Pecan Chocolate chip Pie, Blond Brownies, Wedding cookies, and Dark Chocolate brownies with Walnuts.  You see, the Christmas gathering is at my house tomorrow.

My three children, Michael aka Bubby, Melissa aka Sister and Lewie plus my sister and her two grandchildren and my daughter's fella, who is also named Michael, will all be gathered together. Thank goodness my son has been called Bubby since Melissa learned to talk! My apartment is going to be bursting at the seams on Christmas Day.  I'm glad.

As I ran my errands yesterday I was greeted with "are you ready for Christmas?" by several people.....people I didn't even know! It is a common refrain.....'are you ready for Christmas?' I'm guessing I was really being asked if all my gifted had been purchased, wrapped, and placed beneath the tree.....had all the food been purchased and readied for the feast?.....but this year it struck me differently.

Are you ready for Christmas? Are you ready to open your heart to that small baby whose birth brought light, joy and the hope of peace into the chaos of our world? Are you ready to take that joy and peace into your own life and carry it forward despite all the hate and fear and desperation which surrounds us?  Become a blessing in your own corner of the world.....those who are blessed will then bless others and on and a blessing and change the world.  That is my challenge to you.....and to myself.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lessons from Sandy Hook

I've been sitting and watching all the news clips, reading the posts on FB, and weeping for all the lives lost at Sandy Hook School.  When I hear the diatribe from both sides of the gun control issue I am angered that they use this tragedy to espouse their views. This tragedy should teach us so much more.

For one thing, the teachers and staff at Sandy Hook School are representative of teachers and staff at schools all over the world.  When students enter the doors of schools, they have individuals waiting for them who take their responsibility to these children is not just a "job."  Children, yours and mine, are loved and cherished and protected with every ounce of a teacher's being. 

Yes, there are standards which must be taught.....and teachers work hard to see that 'standards' are met.......but along with that, they teach our children about responsibility, citizenship, honor, and as was made so evident in Sandy Hook, they teach our children about courage. And they do so by example.

So instead of focusing on an issue no one will ever agree on......let us focus on those things we can agree on.  Beautiful, innocent children were sacrificed by a mad man for reasons we will never really know or understand.  Teachers gave their lives to try and protect those children. So I say, let us try harder to remember to show our love to our children before we do anything else.......and let us remember also that your child's teacher may be called upon, Heaven forbid, to protect your child with their own life...and would do so willingly because though you may not understand why....we teachers love your children and want the very best for them.

So I sit here and weep....but each tear is a prayer for those we lost, a prayer for each child I come in contact with every day at work, a prayer that goodness will prevail over evil......and a hope that I will never forget to be an example of that goodness.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Blogger's Block

It has been a while.....seems I've suffered from "blogger's block." Yes, I made that up.....just think "writer's block." There's been a whole lot of pain going on and quite frankly I wasn't in the mood to talk or write about any of it.

Just to catch you up......had a lovely Thanksgiving celebration with family at my parent's house. My traditional Sweet Potato Pie was a big hit with my Daddy and he even shared a small sliver with me! Was I honored or what? And I have to say it was pretty yummy!

Now it is December.....and the Christmas season is fast approaching.  It used to bring with it stress and anxiety and more feelings of inadequacy to my life.  There never seemed to be enough time nor money to make sure every one had THE perfect Christmas.....because of course I felt that was all my responsibility.  Let me say for the record....I have relinquished that responsibility. 

For me Christmas is not about perfection.....nor is it about gift exchanges.....nor being invited to Christmas parties......nor making tons of perfect Christmas goodies.  It is about the little enjoying a nice cup of ginger spice tea before bedtime.....humming snippets of Christmas carols as I fold laundry.....unpacking my collection of Santa face mugs and lining them up on the counter.  Each one brought memories of the fun MoMe and I had experienced as we found these treasures in junk stores and Goodwill stores throughout the southeast.

This year instead of a mad flurry of trying to decorate my apartment and patio and tree all in one day I'm savoring each step.  For now, my Santa face mugs smile at me as I contemplate what bit of decorating comes next.....and if I can figure out how to share photos of them on the blog, I will. I want to enjoy every moment of every day.

Hopefully, the "blogger's block" I've suffered has passed......because I do so enjoy blogging and sharing the every day ordinary life I live.......I am so blessed.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Sweet Potato Pie and Truth

The most amazing smells are wafting forth from my tiny kitchen.  Sitting here in the quiet of the moment enjoying my coffee, I savor the smells and the memories they evoke.  Later today the Sweet Potato pie I am baking will be served with love to my Daddy.  What has now become a holiday tradition began as somewhat of a challenge.

Long ago as a young wife and mother, I tried so hard to make delicious food items to take to the Thanksgiving dinners we attended at the homes of relatives.  Back then, my self worth was heavily dependent on the opinions of, not so much! For months I would scour magazines and cookbooks looking for the "perfect' recipe with which to garner praise.....and would inevitably be unable to produce the side dish or dessert which would have everyone clamoring for more.

I remember one holiday finding a recipe for a caramel layer cake that looked divine and which I was sure would be a hit. I gathered all the ingredients in preparation of Thanksgiving and studied the recipe until I had almost memorized it. My heart soared in anticipation as I made that beautiful cake, 'from scratch,' as we like to say here in the South.....this would be the year...this would be the dessert which would bring joy and satisfaction to all!

Thanksgiving Day arrived. We all gathered to enjoy all the traditional foods..a nice roasted hen because my mother doesn't like turkey.......Cornbread Dressing from my Grandmother's recipe, Giblet Gravy, canned Cranberry Sauce in slices, Green bean Casserole prepared by my now ex husband because frankly no one made it like him, my Deviled Eggs which my children loved, Potato Salad like my Italian Nonna made.......the table groaned with food....and after the meal did we all.

There wasn't much lag time as the table was cleared and my Mama started offering dessert.....and we had choices there as well......Coconut Cake.....Pecan Pie....Pound Cake......and this particular year, my Caramel Cake!  For those who aren't aware of how we do things in the don't choose just have to have "a little taste of it all."  There were oohs and aaahs all around as the 'sample' plates were tasted.....then I made the fatal mistake.  I asked how my cake tasted.  Amidst the general comments of how good it was I heard....."it was alright."

To say it was "alright" was to mean that slice would be eaten but  another would not be requested....I was crushed.  Then my Daddy said, "it sure would be good to have a piece of Mama Shaw's Sweet Potato pie right now." Mama Shaw was my Daddy's grandmother on his mother's side. She passed away the year after my oldest child was born and to my knowledge there wasn't a relative living who had a copy of her recipe. But in my mind, a challenge had been issued.....and if anyone was up to the was me.

I told no one of my intention but got right to work trying to find a recipe which would match in taste and presentation to Mama Shaw's Sweet Potato Pie. Recipe after recipe was read and compared and discarded.......then the week before Christmas I stumbled upon a cookbook I'd overlooked in my own collection.  The battered and food stained Auburn Cookbook given to me as a wedding gift had produced many wondrous dishes for our family through the years.

Reading the list of ingredients and directions for preparation, I thought, "Yes, I can see a Georgia grandmama putting this together for her family." So Christmas morning, after the children had joyfully begun playing with all the bounty Santa had brought......I made a Sweet Potato Pie.  And as it cooked and filled the kitchen with the smells of cinnamon and nutmeg.....I made my Deviled Eggs.

Fast forward through Christmas dinner where once again we all ate more than our bodies were used to dessert......there was Lane Cake, Fruit Cake, Pecan Pie, Chocolate Pie, Pound Cake and sitting humbly in the center of all the richness was my offering, Sweet Potato Pie. No one asked for a slice.....but I didn't care....there was really only one slice I wanted to serve.

I cut my Daddy a piece and quietly set it in front of him. "Try this Daddy. Let me know what you think." He took a nice healthy bite and chewed.  I saw it in his eyes first. "Where'd did you find Mama Shaw's pie recipe?" he said as he continued to eat the slice of pie until there was nothing left but a few stray crumbs left scattered across his plate. "You just have to know where to look I guess."
"Well, nobody else gets any...that is MY pie now."

With that pronouncement, a warmth stole across my heart.....because I knew he meant it. He has never been one to issue false praise just to make someone feel "good." He says what he really means.....and although it took years for me to appreciate that, I now treasure that part of my Daddy's personality.  All those years I craved "praise" to make me feel worthy are no longer important because now I know Truth is so much more valuable.....and every year when I make Daddy's Sweet Potato Pie I am reminded of that fact.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Praising God

My heart is so full! The week has been peppered with reminders of how much God cares about me.....unexpected blessings are the best, don't you think? I am so very thankful for life and all that it holds.......not just the smooth stretches but the bumpy bits as well.....really, I'm the most thankful for the bumpy bits.  Those tough painful times make even the tiniest of blessings magnificent...they grow and glow because they are come the source of all that is good ad perfect and loving....they come from the heart of God.

Of course I must share the shape and form some of these blessing took this week! Earlier in the week I stopped by the pharmacy to pick up some prescriptions before heading in to a 24 hour drive thru pharmacy! The prescription was for anti-inflammatory injections....16 doses and there was no charge for the syringes......usually I have to pay for I said a prayer of thanks! If you've read my blog before you know I'm on a squeaky tight budget so free syringes deserve a cheer.

Then the pharmacist said my daily anti-inflammatory med wasn't ready because it was now available in generic form and that they had to order it. Yay!  Because I have to take so many meds I'm always hoping for generic. My best friend put it in very concrete terms when she said the difference between a copay for a non generic and a generic med is equal to half a tank of gas! So here was another blessing in a span of 15 minutes. I drove in to work with a huge smile on my face and gratitude in my heart. And I kept thinking of the Doxology which says, "praise God from whom all blessings flow."

Another blessing came the next day......I was walking to my third class of the day and frankly, I was struggling a bit....the pain making me wonder if I could get through the day. I heard someone call my name and turned to see one of my older students walking towards me. He said he'd been looking for me because he had something to tell me. I thought it was probably a message from another teacher but was surprised by what he said.

 This gangly, awkward young man then told me how much he appreciated the writing projects I'd done with his class. He said that the things I'd chosen to do had really touched his heart and helped him express stuff he'd been thinking about. He just wanted me to know....gave me a quick hug....and went back to class. Wow! You cannot know how much his unsolicited comment brightened my day.

Then there's today.....yep blessings, blessings, blessings. At our school we have a Social Fund managed by the Social Committee. The fund is used for buying flowers for people in the hospital, sympathy cards, you know the kind of stuff I'm talking about. The faculty and staff pay Social Dues every year to fund it all...the dues aren't exorbitant.....but for me, especially now, the dues are a lot. I wasn't sure how I was going to do it. Then I remembered my emergency money. I keep a well folded ten dollar bill in my billfold "just in case."

I took that money and went to the office to pay my dues. The school secretary informed me that my dues had been paid. I said no I hadn't paid yet.....she insisted. Finally she took me into her office and said someone had paid my dues yesterday.....I cried. I found out who had done this kindness and thanked them and cried some more.....and thanked God for this precious person.....because I know God put the idea in the person's heart. I also know this person to be a humble servant and follower of God.

All day I felt this overwhelming sense of being loved and cared for.....and I know that I am. I may worry about being able to pay my bills....I may worry about how long I'll be able to continue working.....and of course I worry about the pain becoming worse and being unable to live the kind of life I want to live.................but in the long run I don't have to worry.....God has proven time and again that He will meet my needs.....He will take care of everything......I simply have to let Him do what He knows is best for me. 

Sounds like a good way to live, doesn't it?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Change of Plans

I had big plans for this 3 day best friend was coming in for the weekend and we were going to see a football game at the university which my youngest son attends. He also works as a videographer for the team....yes, I'm a proud mom! I was so looking forward to it.  Imagine my disappointment when a pain flare began early in the week and instead of fading managed to intensify. I held out hope until the last possible moment but finally had to call my son Friday and let him know because I knew he had to release the tickets in case some of the other filmers needed them.

I cried and would have been my first chance to see Lewie since he left in July.....and I miss my boy....but I cried also because it was another reminder of how my life must be lived differently now. Pain and fatigue now dictate my schedule, my activities, everything. I now find myself seriously contemplating the kinds of jobs I can do based from home. If anyone has suggestions by all means, share them....I am open to any ideas.....within reason of course!

Despite being unable to make the trip to Auburn, my BFF was able to make a visit.  We laughed a lot....talked....commiserated....and generally had a good time.  We've been friends since we were in first grade which was a very, very long time ago.....I've often said she sometimes knows me better than I know myself! God blessed me richly when he placed her in my life. We discussed my health situation and came to the conclusion that God must be preparing me for me for something He has planned....or which He knows I must face. Doesn't matter....because I am willing to serve Him anyway He needs me.

MoMe (my BFF) thinks my writing will figure into it somehow....I hope so because writing has brought me much comfort through the years whether anyone else reads it or not. There was a time when my writing was 'taken' from me so to private, intensely personal journals were read without my private thoughts were twisted and used to hurt was as if I had been physically assaulted. At that time in my life when I needed the comfort of "talking" through the issues I was facing by writing.....I couldn't write a word. Talk about writer's block...sheesh! I thought I'd never feel free to express myself again.

Of course, MoMe stepped in and encouraged me to write at every opportunity.  She said she missed reading what I wrote.  So eventually I did begin to write again....only now my blog has taken the place of my journals.....and anyone can read my every thought.....nothing is too private or personal.  For one thing....God is the One who works through my 'issues' with me.....what is too personal or too private for anyone else to hear or read I whisper in God's ear......and He responds with the comfort I need.

Even though plans often change.....whether plans for a weekend or plans for life......I'm so thankful to have found that God's love is unchanging and always available.....because I have a feeling I'm going to need Him more now than ever.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Election's Over....Life is Not!

Election day is over and life goes on.  The outcome doesn't change anything about the person I am nor does it impact the way I live my life.....election results seldom do.  I cast my vote after a great deal of prayer. Although I don't enjoy 'political' discussions.....too often rational people lose their manners when talking about their 'politics.' That is not to say that I choose to remain ignorant of the 'facts' bandied about by all the political parties.  I listen, research and form my own educated opinion. Then I pray...a lot! Once I cast my vote.....I turn it over to God....because my belief is that He is ultimately in control.

The day after an election there is always a bit of crying and gnashing of teeth from one side or the other depending on who is victorious. What a waste of time and energy! I choose instead to focus on trying to make the world I live in a better place.  To wait for our 'government' or any government for that matter to step up and correct mistakes they've made is a lesson in futility. Wouldn't it make more sense for each one of us to be a blessing in some one's life?

If we each treated the people with whom we come in contact with kindness and concern, helping without thought of gratitude or compensation imagine how much better this world would be. I know it sounds simplistic. I prefer to approach my life that way.....remembering to treat others as I want to be treated.

I've tried living my life another way......worrying that I wasn't 'good' enough, stressing over imagined insults, focusing on the negative......that way of life brought me only pain. Once God lifted me from the darkness that way of life brought, I saw that my simplistic approach was much healthier for me. And I like looking for the positive in every situation....I like knowing that because I am a willing servant God can use me to bring good to others....I like not worrying about the future because I know God is going to take care of everything one way or another.

So I really mean it when I say the election results don't impact the way I live my life....I live my life for my God and nothing changes that.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Favorite Holiday

Do other countries have a "Thanksgiving" day? I need to research that because I am curious. Of all the days on which we celebrate one thing or another, Thanksgiving is my favorite. As a child, any holiday which involved the giving and receiving of gifts was the favorite! Why wouldn't it be? But as I grew older that changed.

As a child, Thanksgiving meant traveling to see my grandparents in Georgia, which I already mentioned. My head is full of 'snapshots' of those holidays.  A variety of aunts, uncles and cousins always peopled the event and there was an abundance of all kinds of delicious Southern food....the tables and counter tops were covered with every dish imaginable....because that's just the way it was!

 Grandmama would have cooked and prepared for days.....and any family member who attended brought "a little something" to add to the feast.  Sometimes it was a tried and true recipe. Other times the more adventurous cooks in the family would bring a 'new' recipe they'd found in some magazine or tried at a 'covered dish' dinner at church. I remember when congealed salads first made their debut....the question of the day among the cooking contributors was, "do we serve it with the meal or is it really a dessert?" Didn't really matter because it would certainly get eaten by someone!

The day before everyone descended on 640 Greenwood Street there would be decisions to make about where to put everybody at mealtime.  The older members of the family which included my great grandmother, Mama Shaw, great aunts and uncles, and certainly the grandparents, including my Italian grandmother, Nonna, who came to live with us when I was 8 or 9......they sat around the big table. We children were stuck here and there. The other grownups sat around smaller tables or held their plates in their laps.  It didn't matter. What mattered was that we were least for one day....and we were thankful for that if nothing else.

Of course I loved being able to see and play with my cousins....Paula, Pam and Patty. Because their daddy, Uncle Allan, was in the Army they moved around a lot and weren't always able to be at family gatherings. But do you know what my favorite part of these Thanksgiving gatherings was? It was listening to the grown-ups tell their family stories.

After the feast was finished and the women had cleared the table, washed the dishes, and divided the leftovers to be shared......while the other children would find some sort of entertainment....I would often find a place  amidst the feet of the stuffed and somnolent adults and wait quietly until tale telling began.  It would usually start with "whatever happened to....?" or "do you remember when...?"

 For me it wasn't so much the stories they told.  It was a sense of being a part of the sharing of our family's history. It was learning from the mouths of my elders of the events which shaped and molded us into the people we were....the things which made us family...which still do make us "family."

I do not have the opportunity to see my extended family as much as I would like. Facebook has helped us stay more connected for which I am grateful. Sometimes I long for those Thanksgiving holidays from my childhood.....the thought that now I would be one of the 'elders' sharing stories of our family and its history makes me proud. The simple truth is that no matter where we are on Thanksgiving Day, we are connected. We are family.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November Memories

It has been a good week.....long, busy, tiring.....but good. And I am happy to report that while I have not been totally pain free, the pain has been the kind that is more like background noise than a big brass band! Background noise I can tolerate.  A big brass band kind of demands one's attention if you know what I mean.

Being able to walk into work and enjoy those spontaneous hugs children love to bestow was wonderful. Many days I have to avoid them or end up in tears. Most of the students I work with on a daily basis know about my fibromyalgia...or at least they know I have a condition where some days it hurts to be touched.  So they generally ask if a real hug is OK or not. If not, we share "finger hugs." A finger hug consists of both of us crossing our fingers and waving them at one another while smiling.

In case you may have forgotten......I love my job!! And I work with an amazing group of people!!

Autumn really is my favorite time of year. Every thing is changing. The weather....the color of the leaves on the trees....even the color of the sunshine seems different.  And there are so many activities taking place at school. For Halloween we always have a Trick or Treat Costume parade for our First, Second, and Third graders. They happily wear their costumes and go from classroom to classroom "Trick or Treating." This year after our school parade, the students rode school buses to our local community college where they were honored guests at a Halloween Concert.  Of course the children loved it!

Now it is November which has always been my favorite month.  I think it's because when I was growing up, November meant a special trip to see my Grandmama and Grandaddy in Barnesville, Georgia. We'd load up the car and make the four hour drive the day before Thanksgiving. Of course there was lots of bickering between my sister and myself about who got how much of the backseat. She usually stretched out and fell 'asleep' guaranteeing that I sat on the edge of the seat facing forward.

This was actually my preferred seat. From here I had a grand view of the road ahead and was privy to the conversation between Mama and Daddy. And sometimes Daddy would ask me brain teaser questions like, "if a rooster laid an egg on the pinnacle of a roof, which way would it roll?" Yeah I know....roosters don't lay eggs....but at 7 years of age I fell for it every time and racked my brain trying to figure out the correct answer with which to astound my Daddy!

I remember that Daddy would also irritate my Mama by honking the horn when we were in the middle of nowhere for no reason usually startling her out of her reverie. Or sometimes if we passed a house with a porchful of people he'd honk and wave. Mama would ask who they were and he would reply, "I have no idea....but I bet they're trying to figure out who we are right about now." And Mama would 'humph' and tell him he was crazy.

But the best part of the journey was always arriving at my Grandparents' house. We'd pull up in the yard...I'd look up and there was Grandmama.....holding the door open, waiting with a smile on her face for that first precious hug.....and I knew how loved we were.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Broken Road

It has been another week....I had two good...well, tolerable days...then I got hit with something like the flu. I know it wasn't the real flu because I had my flu shot earlier in the month....isn't that how it works? You get a flu shot so you don't get the flu....right? But I had flu-like symptoms and they made me miserable...I'm still "running a temperature" as we say here in the South...and I do not feel like eating....makes me nauseous to think about it! In fact....

My Southern Living magazine arrived and any good Southerner knows about all the amazing recipes contained therein.  I couldn't even look at my magazine and usually I read it cover to cover the day it arrives...turning page corners down as I go so I'll know what recipes I want to save. There was none of that today....and probably won't be for several days. And it is the Thanksgiving issue!!! Sigh...

I was listening to the radio this afternoon and heard that song, "The Broken Road." And it touched something inside me in a way it has never done before. It made me think of all the things that have happened in my life over the past few years....and especially the past six months....and I felt the song contained a wonderful truth in the lyric, "God, bless the broken road that brought me straight to You."
Because it wasn't the smooth road that brought me into God's was a road filled with pot holes and buckled with bumps and cracks. 

So I'm thankful for all the pain....physical, mental and emotional.....that I've experienced. Each one brought me closer to my God. It is hard to remember that truth sometime, especially when things are really tough and I have no strength left.....but anything, any experience, whether sorrowful or joyful, that makes my relationship with my God a closer one actually should be considered a blessing....and I'm going to do my best to remember that.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Wow....Just Wow!

I have to take a moment to share the most amazing experience! As you know, the past few weeks have been such a struggle for me.....and at times I have been terribly overwhelmed by, well, I guess you could say, life in general.

Yesterday I went to work even though it was difficult in the extreme.  Since Friday is assessment day for the students, my job would not take as much out of me as usual.  Most of the people I work with are very aware of my health issues and always try to be as accommodating as possible.....for which I am always grateful. Throughout the day yesterday, if I was not needed in my regular classrooms I went to help in the guidance office.

Our counselor is a caring and loving individual and sometimes she is pulled in a multitude of directions so her day to day duties....paperwork, filing, shredding.....sometimes pile up. I was giving her a hand with the shredding when the most wonderful thing happened!

She had to leave her office to direct a rewards event for 70 of our students who'd earned a "Popcorn and a Movie" party because they had reached the fund raising goal for our I was alone in her office shredding a huge box full of old folders and papers.

Because the noise of the shredder can be very loud and irritating after a while, I decided to put in my earphones and listen to some music on Pandora......which I am able to do on the phone I unexpectedly had to buy. I was listening to my "Chris Tomlin Station" singing along under my breath....I wasn't really thinking about it but of course the lyrics were ministering to my heart, when something wonderful happened!

I cannot tell you today which song was playing when it happened....but suddenly I felt enveloped in a soft warm embrace and I was no longer just sitting in an empty classroom doing a mindless hands were raised in praise and the words I was singing were directed to the Heart of God and nothing else mattered! And I felt no pain...none...all I sensed was the pure, unblemished love of God filling me up body and soul. The songs changed I'm sure but I was aware of nothing but that Loving Presence.

Not sure how long it lasted because I was unaware of time until the bell rang and I found myself sitting in that chair in front of the shredder with papers clutched in my hand. At least ten minutes passed before I was able to stand and clean up my work area.....and the whole time I kept thinking....Wow....just wow. 

My normal bearable pain is still with me but for that pocket of time yesterday I felt nothing but the wonder, the joy, the peace that being totally in God's Presence brings. And I know that one day when my time here on this earthly plain is complete that is the feeling I will experience for eternity.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Camel's Back....Part Two

Where to begin? Let's just pick up where we left off at the end of my last post because the craziness continues. No...I think I need to back up a bit because when I started thinking about EVERYTHING which has transpired through this saga.....I started laughing....yep, laughing! When you look at it all lined up it's just funny.

Those who've been following this blog a while know that I had thyroid surgery several months ago which requires me to take thyroid hormone replacement meds.....and you'll also remember that the pharmacy chain I use made a huge mistake when issuing those meds......what I didn't mention was this.....after the big pharmacy chain's mistake I decided to switch to a smaller locally owned pharmacy.  I had all of my prescriptions transferred which involved getting new scripts from doctors and so on.  I felt better dealing with a smaller pharmacy owned and staffed by hometown folks.

One week after I had my prescriptions moved and in place, there was a big ad in the paper revealing that my local pharmacy had been bought by the big pharmacy chain who would now be handling all the patients who'd been customers of said local pharmacy........yeah, I know right? That better explains why I had such a meltdown at the (big chain) pharmacy about the prescriptions being lost and co pays going up etc.

NOW lets rejoin the saga where my last post ended.....

Yesterday I was finally able to see my rheumatologist because there had been a cancellation by another patient.  Found out that the probable reason for the longevity and intensity of this pain flair was that my thyroid replacement hormones were more than likely not at the correct levels yet. Also learned that I had developed some secondary fibro symptoms....didn't even know there was such a thing..... the symptoms consisted of big knots in the ropey muscles in my back which caused a sensation of fiery painful itching. Lidocaine injections into the knots are supposed to help.....for me, not so much. Then I was told a Toradol injection could give me some relief, BUT.....they. did. not. have.ANY. Toradol!!  In fact, there wasn't even a pharmacy in the city who had any.  Well, that's just peachy! However, a pharmacy in a nearby town had 2 doses left......that nearby town just happened to be where I YAY!!

A prescription was called in. I could pick it up on my way back to work and have our nurse give me the first injection. I was so thrilled that I might actually get some relief from the pain which had been my constant companion for the past few weeks. But friends, apparently God has a weird sense of humor and He was trying to teach me a lesson I hadn't quite grasped. When I got to the the other big name pharmacy in my town, I was told to come back in an hour...I'm not joking. 

What could I do? I went to work for an hour, clocked out, again, drove to the pharmacy drive-thru. Yes my meds were ready, I paid, started to drive off and though, "Maybe I better check and make sure I have all I need."  Good thing I did......the medicines in the bag belonged to someone else! A man...whose name wasn't even close to sounding similar to mine........and I began to laugh! 

Sitting there in my car in the parking lot I laughingly said, "Really God? After the long list of of unexpected trials with everything in my life.....we add this little mix up?" But because of everything else which had happened, I slowed down and checked the meds before driving away.  And I realized that maybe God used all those trials to remind me to SLOW down....don't be in such a rush to fix everything myself....take the time to pray and find out how God will handle the hard stuff.

So I'm going to try and slow down.....take each moment, good or bad, as it comes.....and pray, pray, pray. I've no doubt God cares for me now I need to learn to let Him take care of me.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Straw That Broke the Camel's Back

Well it finally happened.....the straw that broke the camel's back.....and I am officially overwhelmed.  Had it occurred at any other time I might not have reacted as I did but IT did and I did. Sigh.

What? ! You may be asking. You will remember within the last 7 days I have had to buy tires for the car which was not in the budget....then my phone died and had to be replaced also not in the budget.....I had to make two unexpected trips to Dothan...think outrageous gas prices and you will know that wasn't budgeted either.......tomorrow another trip to Dothan for a visit to the rheumatologist about the out of control pain episodes.....and then "the straw."

I went online today to refill some of my most needed know, things like insulin and some other meds for my diabetes...and my all important antinflammatory.  My prescriptions had disappeared from my account! Tried calling the pharmacy to see what I might have done wrong.....I tried 9 times to get luck.  Drove to the pharmacy after work....waited 20 minutes at the drive thru window while they tried to correct things....told me to come back in a couple of hours to pick up the meds.   Gave them 3 hours before I went back.....and was told it would be another 15 minutes. No problem because they had chairs for me to sit in.  45 minutes later they called me up to the register and rang up the meds which is when I was told one of my $40 co-pays would now be $80!  That my friends was the infamous straw.

Tears began streaming down my face as I asked for an explanation of the increase which I'm sure made sense to them but because of my state of mind seemed like a bunch of gibberish.  I was getting double the meds at double the price BUT my money is so tightly budgeted that I had NO extra money for a double copay.  I was embarrassed because of my tears and my inability to comprehend the explanation.....and I'm sure the long line of people behind me wanted me to get a grip, pay the bill and let them get their own meds!

The people who work in the pharmacy were patient and kind but their hands were tied....they had rules to be followed....I just didn't have an updated copy of those "rules." I had to put my meds on a credit card because insulin is kind of important for a diabetic.

There is no moral to this story. I haven't had time to search the Scriptures for comfort....but I will. And my prayer has been simple...."Please God help me get through this and don't let me have a wreck as I drive home while sobbing like a baby..."and I kept praying that over and over and over.

It would be so nice to have someone just hold me while I cry....just for a little while......

Monday, October 15, 2012

Trials + Suffering = Patience

A sweet friend shared this Scripture with me yesterday and I have found myself reflecting on it more and more.

1 Peter 4: 12 "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed."

 Because my fibro pain has broken its usual pattern, I do feel as if something strange were happening as the verse says. Knowing that this "fiery trial" is necessary and a cause for rejoicing is hard to absorb.....but I will accept it as part of my growth as one of God's Children. I've also become accustomed to God giving me answers to my questioning mind through people and situations and of course, Scripture.

 Actually over the past three or four days, several verses have "popped" out at me so to speak. I'm certain they are God's way of reassuring me, of giving me comfort while this physical pain has me unable to function normally. Take this next verse for example.

James 1:2-4 "....count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

All that happened last week.....the pain, the fatigue....having to buy new tires and a new phone.....did "test" my faith....but not without positive results. As it says in James, the "testing of my faith produces patience."  And who doesn't need more patience?  Furthermore, if I let "patience" work, I will , eventually, become "complete, lacking nothing." That's what I long for, completeness in the Lord....and if I must endure these trials to reach that state of being, so be it.

Ironic isn't it? But the next verse was one that "popped" out of my quiet time reading this morning. God always knows what I need and when I'm going to need Him to restore the balance in my life.....He will always sustain me with the power of His Holy blessed I am to have found the Source of all that is Good in this world.

Psalm 51:12 "Merciful Lord, restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."

Saturday, October 13, 2012

His Answer is Enough

Interesting week....long week....full week....and now its the weekend. Two days to catch up on all the things I didn't get done during the week and to recuperate and try and build up the energy for the week to come. It's obvious to me two days is not enough.

Pain is a continuing issue for me. Historically I experience mild pain daily punctuated with periodic episodes of such intense pain I cannot function.  These generally last 3-5 days and on rare occasions 5-7 days. I experienced one of those awful episodes over a week ago and have yet to reach the ordinary annoying levels of pain.  To say it is exhausting doesn't cover it.

Couple that with several large unexpected hits to my already squeaky tight budget and you have a woman who is asking the God she worships and trusts, "okay...what is the deal here? Is there something You need from me that I'm not doing? Show me.....tell me to understand!"
Don't get me wrong! I trust God to get me through whatever this time in my life is....I would like to understand so it is easier to bear.

Having to make some unexpected big ticket purchase decisions on my budget is overwhelming on a good day.  But to have to do so this week when my body is pain wracked and fatigue fogs my thought processes makes me long for someone with whom to share the decision making process. Since there is no such person, I believe God used my good friends to help me make my way through. Ironically enough, they both share the same name!

One friend reminded me that even big decisions need to be made one step at a time. So I stopped mentally jumping ahead to a scenario where I had to sell  everything I owned in order to buy the new tires I found out were necessary NOW to replace the ones I had which were bald and beginning to split. My other friend pointed out that even the smallest of pleasures can be just as special as extravagant ones.....a good cup of coffee with a homemade chocolate chip cookie.....a chat with an old friend.

Even though I continue to wonder why pain must be my daily belief that God will always use whatever means (or people!) necessary to bring me some measure of comfort stands firm. As His child, it is perfectly all right to question and to long as I keep my heart and mind open to His voice and His answers......and I have no problem with that!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I'm tired.....physically, mentally, emotionally. So tired that were someone to call and inform me I'd won an all expense paid trip to anywhere wonderful.....I'd have to say, "thank you so much but I'm too tired." 

Isn't that sad? To be too tired to even contemplate doing anything wonderful or fun or exciting....but that is how I am at this moment.  My hope is that the current state of affairs passes....and quickly. I can only suppose the fatigue is a result of the latest battle with pain.

My journey over the past four months has made me realize how glad I am to be living as a child of God....last year when I experienced these pain episodes and struggled with fatigue I would inevitably end up depressed and weeping.  Now, when I'm dragging myself between classes with my rolling crate of supplies and feel that I cannot possibly take another step.....cannot form a coherent  thought or sentence.......I stop....take a deep breath.....and simply open my heart and mind to the strength available to me through my God and Creator. He has not failed me...ever.

Just that one moment in His presence is enough. I was reminded today that God has promised never to put more on us than we can occurs to me that this is true simply because God never expects us to bear anything without Him.......for that I am eternally thankful.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What's Normal Anyway?

I sat on my porch for a while this evening and true to form my thoughts rambled from pillar to post as the saying goes.  Fatigue pulls at me. One thing about these bouts with pain is the exhaustion they leave behind.  One doesn't consciously think of how tiring it is to fight pain...but it is.  Depending on the duration...and the intensity of the pain takes days to recover the energy one needs to just get through an ordinary day.....thankfully, this flare up is beginning to fade.  And now I try to regain some semblance of what is normal for me.

Back to sitting on the was soothing for a while.....just sitting, watching the cars drive in and out of the complex. It can be quite busy with neighbors arriving home from wherever they've been....and sometimes leaving again.....the racket of children trying to get in those last few minutes of playing before supper and homework beckon.  The weather is still quite mild...leaning more toward warm than of the things I still dislike about living in the South.....seasons sliding into one another with very little change in temperature.

As I said, my thoughts rambled.....that happens a lot when I'm not quite able to physically do what I'd mind goes into overdrive......which many times leads to insomnia. Anyway.....tonight, on the porch I thought no particular order, bulletin board ideas, Lewie away at school, Melissa killing a poisonous snake (which she did earlier this week,) Michael and his job search, my best friend, a variation on my yummy cheese wafer recipe, wanting to own a pair of cowboy boots, how I'd look as a red head and writing a book...oh yes, and how I wish I could travel places I've never seen but would like to.....places like the coast of Maine,Yosemite,England,the San Diego Zoo...and those are just the things I remember.

All that being said......Though I realize I may not live long enough to do all the things I dream of doing, I plan on enjoying all the things I am able to do......more importantly, my desire is treat all those I meet with kindness and respect and to try in my own small way, to make this world a better place. Apparently for me, normal is have lots of crazy, rambling thoughts and ideas...and to write about them.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An Ordinary Woman

Even though I've spent the last two days fighting the pain of a fearsome fibro flare up, I feel so blessed! God has reminded me of that in numerous ways......from the smiles of children as they show me the library book they brought to school to the coworker who, realizing how badly I was hurting, bent and whispered a prayer in my ear.

A flare up this intense used to push me right over the edge into a pool of dark thoughts and needless anxiety. Not this time. No, this time was different. I fell into the peaceful loving arms of my God who held me, cradled me and reminded me of all that is good about my life. Instead of bemoaning my fate and working myself into a state of endless weeping......I prayed.

First, my prayers were those of thanksgiving......for all the blessings I now see more clearly....then I prayed for my children......their safety, their place in God's plan.....I prayed for other family parents,my sister, my nephew, my aunts and uncles, my cousins.....and it was more than just a "God bless" litany of names.  After all, when pain makes one immobile there is lots of time for some in-depth praying!

Then I prayed about my 'failings' as a person.....except I don't see them as failings, I see them more as characteristics upon which I need to improve. God alone has the power to make those kind of improvements....thats why I pray! Because I want more than anything to grow and become the woman, the person, God has planned me to be.  At this moment I choose to see the pain I endure as a tool by which I am molded and shaped into an instrument of God's love. Believe me, when physical pain is a constant companion, it is better to view it as a positive than a negative.

Sometimes when I read over what I've written I worry that I sound like a "Goody Two Shoes." Believe me I am not! I am just an ordinary woman trying to find my way through life....thank you for letting me share my spiritual journey with each of you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

As Long as I Can Pray

It has been building for several days this particular pain episode I find myself enduring.  I never really know what's going to trigger a flare up but once in a while I can trace the beginnings back. Such is the case with this one. 

The awful stomach virus I contracted last week seems to be the origin of this flare.  The pain grew gradually more intense......I kept going, trying to go to work and just deal with it.  Most of the time I can manage it that way.  But then there are those other times.....and this is one of those times.

Trying to sleep or rest is nigh impossible because there is so position which doesn't bring its own discomfort.  Even breaking out the strongest painkillers I have bring no relief.  So, this morning I dressed in the softest clothing I possess, went to school and did my daily morning duty, talked with teachers and subs about the writing prompts for today.......and am now at home, waiting for a call from my doctor about the possibilities of getting a Toradol injection today.

But You know what? In spite of all the pain, the tears that accompany the pain and the fear that the pain will never lessen.........I feel so very blessed and loved.  My physical and emotional state has no bearing on God's love for me.....nor does it impact my ability to pray and praise God for all He's doing......because as long as I can think, I can pray and as long as I can pray, I can communicate with God and when I am still, I know I can hear God........and that is all good isn't it?

So today I will 'be still'.....I will reach out with my prayers to those God brings into my mind.....those who read these words know that you are being prayed for today especially.....and I will patiently wait for whatever comes next.........God is in charge and He takes care of all the details!

Monday, October 1, 2012


My alarm went off this morning and contrary to my normal routine, I hit the snooze thinking five minutes of gentle stretching might give me some relief from the fibro pain radiating through my body. Instead, within a couple of minutes the glaring sound of a tornado warning siren ripped through
my consciousness.

Its been five years since an EF4 tornado tore my hometown apart....leaving behind it death and destruction and a community of people forever changed. Every time I hear the sound of that siren....every single heart jumps into my throat and my mind races back to that the emotions.....the fears....the interminable waiting for news.  The siren pierces my heart and I am once again sitting on the floor at our elementary school with frightened children huddled around me. I remember my mind racing, thinking about my own children, wondering.....praying for their safety.

My oldest son was likely crouched in the hallway of the elementary school where he worked, my daughter hopefully sitting in a safe place at the community college she attended, my youngest son also waiting in another hallway at his school.  In the age of cell phones, rumors flew between the adults in our school........"a tornado was spotted at the airport"......"a school has been hit"...."we think its a junior high.....yes....Old Junior" heart sinks and I begin to shake.....Lewie is at Old Junior........then, no it isn't Old Junior......I feel tears on my face.......I begin to breathe again.

When the tornado finally passes, the truth of what has happened is revealed and the sorrow and anxiety begins anew.  Two schools suffered direct hits......our high school and the elementary school where my oldest son worked. It would be hours until I would be reunited with my children, all my children...... that night we dragged pillows and blankets into our living room in order to sleep huddled together, windows open to the constant sound of sirens from ambulances, police and firetrucks vibrating through the darkness. I remember reaching out and touching each of my children, weeping quiet tears of thankfulness.....praying for those families whose children had been taken from them....and hearing my grown son breakdown when the full realization of what he had been through finally hit him, cradling him until his tears ceased.......for me there was no sleep that night as I watched over my children, touching their hands, their hair....reassuring myself that they were least for that moment.

And so my day began.......and now as I recall and write, I realize that once again, there are tears on my face and I begin to pray.......

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Positive Thinking

I've experienced my first stomach virus of this school year and it was a doozie! For some reason it triggered a pain episode which just complicated everthing! Things had been going so well at work would have been easy to just sink into the "poor pitiful me" stage.....but I didn't.

I figured it would be a good time to think on the positives. So I did.

Looking back over the past year, two years.....I realized I am in a much better place than I was a year ago, even two years ago.....and it feels great. The biggest, most important change for me has been to let God be actively part of my life.....not just the nebulous distant God  whose love I felt I could never be worthy of. It is so much better to have Him lean on feel His strength and know His comfort is there for me, for all His people.

My job has become even more enjoyable....being able to share my passion for writing with the see them embrace their own writing abilities with is an answered prayer. For me there is no doubt, being in this job at this time is where God wants me. If it weren't so, I wouldn't feel this peace.  God's will for my life...His plan for is perfect for me. As for the salary.....well, I'm resting in the knowledge that I matter as much to God as the birds who are fed daily according to God's other words, He will provide.

Although I am very often alone...I don't feel the loneliness quite as much. Preparing for the writing lessons at school helps fill the time....writing for the blog is a pleasure and takes time....reading and studying the Scriptures helps me realize how blessed I am.....and how letting God in, means I'm never really alone anymore. And more importantly, having God with me in all parts of my life helps me know He will protect me from those who would deceive me as some in my past have done.

Am I still in pain? Physically, yes, and sometimes, like today, it takes everything within me to raise myself from the bed.  Am I in pain spiritually? Not anymore....God healed that pain just as one day I will experience God's perfect healing for my physical ailments. 

Looking into the past used to cause me such pain.  Now I know, seeing how painful life was without God's presence, that I am in a much better place because He is with me. And looking back makes me see how far I've come because of God's love.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Life is Good

This morning I was reminded yet again how glad I am to have found a church to attend, a church with which to belong. I was moving a bit slowly this morning and so was a bit late arriving at church wonderful to walk in and feel the presence of God so hear voices raised in joyful know without a doubt I was where God wanted me to be!

God lead me to Crossroads at a time when I was broken inside and still trying to figure out how to put the pieces back together. Through the music God began the healing I needed....through the messages delivered by the different pastors God showed me the way to live life fully. Of course, I still struggle....who doesn't?  But God always comes through, reminding me through songs, Scripture, and yes, through the lives of people around me, that I am an important player in His plan for us. As are we all.

As God's people we have the responsibility of sharing God's love and His perfect plan for each of our lives.  In Ephesian 4:2-3 we read, "Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of our love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace." Reading those words today I couldn't help but marvel once again at God's consistency in giving us guidelines for a good and happy life.  Just think, what a wonderful place this world would be if we all were striving to be humble and gentle....patient with each other....loving our fellowmen enough to make allowances for their faults instead of condemning them......and to unite ourselves in the Spirit of God so that we might experience His perfect peace.

Every day is an adventure and sometimes a struggle.....but I wrap myself in God's love and move forward to whatever He has in store. He is my Father and I am His child and He has made my life so much better.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Counting My Blessings

Sometimes weekends are hard.....especially after several sleepless nights.....and lots of working despite the pain.  Seems harder to fight off negative thoughts.....makes being alone, well, lonelier. During the week my mind is on my job....on the children...on the people I work with.....on pushing through the day despite the pain coursing through every inch of my body.

On the weekends, its just me. I will say I am handling the negative thoughts much better than I used to.....but of course, back then I tried to deal with everything on my own. Now, I have my faith in God's ever present love to help me, to sustain me, to remind me that my life is good.

For now, I will use this time to rest and rebuild my strength. I will "count my blessings and name them one by one" as the song says.  I will thank God for being who He is and for loving me despite my insecurities. I will be thankful for good friends who listen and comfort when I need it....and who laugh with me and at me when I do silly stuff.....unintentionally. I will be proud of the adults my children are becoming and love them fiercely.

My life is good because God is in it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lessons Learned

Its been a few weeks since I've had the time and the energy to write! And I have missed it so. Lots of things have been going on as well. I've had several doctor's surgeon released me saying I was healing as expected. The pain and tenderness I'm still experiencing will continue until all the nerves have healed which apparently takes the longest amount of time in the healing process. My endocrinologist says he's pleased with my progress as well.....blood sugar numbers are continuing to A1C has dropped significantly and is closer to normal than its been in years.....yay! Saw my regular doctor yesterday and he's trying to help me lower the cost of my meds by trying some new generic combos.....fingers crossed 'cause finances are really tight. Which leads me to my latest adventure in faith.

As you know, I'm a certified teacher working as an instructional aide but really need to find a teaching job....teachers don't make much....and aides make even less. Teaching jobs for English teachers are few and far between so I was surprised to receive a call earlier this week from a school wanting to set up an interview. I mean we are four weeks into the school year after all. But you know me.....I've been trusting God to provide and felt that maybe He was once again giving me an opportunity.

The thing is the interview was at a school nearly two hours away. I had to take a half day off work which meant loss of pay plus I had to buy gas for the car. That much money was not budgeted for this point in the month....BUT.....what if this was THE job? If I got the job, it would be a big move...lots of details to work out in a short amount of time....leaving the only town I'd ever lived say I was conflicted is an understatement!

The night before the interview I tossed and turned.....praying for a feeling of peace about this opportunity. I listened to praise and worship songs and prayed as I drove hoping for clarity about my decision to pursue this job.  As I sat in my car parked in front of the school, I asked God to make His will in this situation crystal clear.....and I went into the interview.

What happened next was both surreal and miraculous in a strange sort of way.  I've been through many interviews in my life so I can say with certainty, that interview was the worst I've ever experienced.  The three women(two administrators and one department chair) who conducted the interview were rude, condescending and thoroughly unprofessional.  I had gotten up before dawn and driven 2 hours for an interview which lasted less than fifteen minutes and during which I was treated as if I were a half wit with no redeeming qualities.  For half a second I wondered if this was some elaborate hoax....if I was the victim of a "Punk'd" episode.

But as I began the two hour drive back home, I began to laugh.  And I thought, "be careful what you pray for!" God had done as I asked....He made His Will for me crystal clear.  Even if I were offered the position, which I doubt....this was not the job for me! It was a humbling experience in many ways.....and a reminder as well.  Always treat people as you wish to be treated and never doubt that God watches out for those who love and trust Him.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Work in Progress

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him." Nahum 1:7

Not many people know this, but I have trust issues.  I haven't always been this way but over time I've been lied to by people I cared about and whom I trusted. Those situations made me a bit leery of believing what I'm told....made me build walls around my heart.....turned me into a sort of loner. Frankly I don't know if I'm totally over that feeling.....but I'm trying.

"He cares for those who trust Him." Funny thing is....I have no trouble trusting God.  He has always been honest with me.......He doesn't hold back....He loves me unconditionally.  If there are any problems in my relationship with God, those issues have come from me.  And I am working on those daily.

I've been told that having no expectations is the way to avoid disappointment....and for a while I bought into that train of thought.  But I'm beginning to think that having expectations can lead to good things. For example, by treating my students with respect and courtesy I can "expect" them to know they are important to me. By keeping my word, I can "expect" people to know I am trustworthy.

When I pray, my expectation is that God hears me and responds. He has never disappointed me....the only time I experience disappointment is if I tell God how I think He should respond! God always listens and answers.....sometimes the answer is "wait." Or as He often has to remind me, "be still."

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble." I am living proof of that. Sometimes we forget that God is with us in good times as well....and yes, I'm working on living that way as well! Do you know what I've discovered about that mindset? If I am busy praising and thanking God for all the good I see around me, my attitude is becomes easier to be be be helpful. In short, it becomes easier to trust God about everything.

So trusting in God is helping me open my heart not be afraid of being live life with hope. I trusted God to heal my heart....and He did.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mr. Sandman....Where Are You?

It's least for me. My day starts so early that by 10:00 p.m. I'm usually in bed beginning to drift off into sleep. Not so tonight. Oh I'm tired....never doubt that a week spent working with children while battling my ever present companion, fibro pain, has left me exhausted.  But sleep eludes me. My eyes grow so heavy that I just know sleepy time is on its way. Funny thing is my mind can't seem to reach that quiet place.

The thoughts tonight are as random as my ramblings! But mostly I envision my students bent over their journals writing...some hesitantly, as if unsure of which words to use in order to paint the verbal picture in their head......others writing quickly, full of purpose....and I feel a warmth steal over my heart.  I've been in that place, in a classroom with a teacher coaxing the imaginings from my mind onto a sheet of paper.....somehow validating the part of me she gave me courage to share. Who knew all those long years ago that I would be in the teacher's shoes? It is humbling to think that I have the opportunity to inspire, encourage, enable young writers to put their thoughts into words......words that are in turn humorous or poignant or illuminating.

At  the age of thirteen it became easier for me to write my feelings than to speak I began keeping a journal.  I've kept journals off and on through all these years......writing has always helped me to work through things.....a way to "talk to myself".....and always my writing was private and personal. At least until I began this blog........putting my writings "out there" for anyone and everyone to see has been one of the scariest things I've ever done. But it has also brought me so many blessings.

I think that is why I enjoy helping others find a way to release their thoughts, their imaginings, their ideas, their musings...... in some ways its my way of saying thank you to my eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. Henri Craig, for opening the creative writing door for me. Oddly enough I've never worried about whether my writing was 'good' or whether anyone else 'liked' what I wrote.  For me, writing is akin to breathing.....and we all know how important breathing is to life.

 I don't write in order to achieve accolades but there are times, I confess, when I wonder if anyone is affected by reading what I have written.  Is there someone else out there who has experienced or felt the same emotions I write about? Whether or not I am ever privy to that knowledge will not deter me from the joy I find in writing.

And now I think it is time I try, once again to sleep.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What A Day!

I don't usually do this....but my thoughts today are kind of tied to my last post. It's like I've mentioned before I struggle with fibromyalgia......was diagnosed years ago when there were still doctors  telling people their particular symptoms were "all in their head."  There isn't a day that goes by I don't have pain.....some days its easily managed because I'm so used to it being there.  Other days...not so much.  Some days it rears up like an angry fire breathing dragon refusing to be conquered or ignored. Such has been the case over the past couple of weeks.

Today the pain was a dragon. And I didn't know how I was going to make it through the day....not going to work isn't really an option anymore because I have NO sick days left....if I don't work I don't get paid. It would have been so easy to throw myself a good old fashioned "pity party".....and I almost did.  Then I remembered the song.

I had pulled into my parking place at was raining, of course....and I sat huddled in my seat trying to gather the strength to walk into the building.  I kind of muttered a prayer under my breath....something to the effect of , "help me God 'cause I just don't have it in me to do this." And then I thought of the song.

"This is the day the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."

This rain soaked, pain filled day was made by God.....and I needed to "rejoice and be glad in it?" Have I mentioned that I sometimes have problems with this part?  As I made my way across the parking lot and into the school I did some thinking about how I was going to "rejoice" in this day. The first thought which popped into my frazzled brain was....."I am alive so thank you God for that."

I can rejoice because I have a job I love.....I can rejoice because the people I work with make our school a great place to be.....I can rejoice because I get to interact with children every day.....I can rejoice because I know what I do can make a difference in someone's life.....and the list went on.  Every time the pain threatened to overwhelm me I would "rejoice" about someone or something. It didn't matter.  The bottom line became, I am where I am because God has a plan......and His plan for me IS perfect.  Before I realized it, my day at work was done....I had made it through.

The pain is still with me.....but now I know I can "rejoice and be glad" through the pain!  The dragon hasn't been conquered...yet....but I have learned I can be joyful regardless of my physical state. Now, I think I will curl up in my chair and enjoy some "quiet time" with God.....I want to tell Him about my day....and say thank you once again.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

This is the Day

As a child, when I went to Sunday School and Bible School my favorite part of each was the time we spent learning songs. Often those tunes will pop into my head bringing with them happy memories. All day today I kept thinking of one in particular.  Although I can't sing it for you, I can share the words.

"This is the day, this the day,  that the Lord hath made, that the Lord hath made,
We will rejoice, we will rejoice,  and be glad in it, and be glad in it
This is the day that the Lord hath made, We will rejoice and be glad in it."

This morning I got up, had my coffee and my quiet time, and began to prepare to go to church. Every move was slow and deliberate because of the pain I was experiencing. Some of the pain was a result of my recurring bouts with fibromyalgia but it was compounded by the fact I've been on the wrong dose of my thyroid medication for 5 weeks.....but that's another story.

  It would have been so easy to take a pain pill and crawl back into bed......but that little song kept going through my head.....and as I showered and dressed I had one thought.  God made this day and I'm getting to live it!  That is cause for rejoicing if nothing else is. My only responsibility is to be glad about whatever the day brings. Some days it is difficult and I don't do a very good job with the whole being glad part.

God is good to put people in my life to help with that......and He lets me experience things which remind me how blessed I am......and that just makes me want to share His love with anyone who has yet to experience that love for themselves.

As I write I am still in pain but that's okay too. I look at it as another opportunity to "be still" and let God do His stuff.  It gives me a chance to pray......for myself....for others....and to be thankful that everyday is a day "that the Lord hath made."  I will rejoice and be glad.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Calming the Storm

What a week! Dealing with the possibility of a hurricane, tornado warnings, anxious students and mood swings I couldn't explain made for an irritable me!  I even had difficulty allowing God to take care of me...the old habit of trying to take care of everything myself crept in and took hold before I was even aware. It seemed that every time I tried to pray my mind would wander into areas of anxiety and instead of immediately turning them over to God, I focused on the "what ifs."

From experience I know the what-ifs can cause chaos in my spiritual life.  And they did.  For the first time in months, I felt lost, adrift in a growing darkness in my soul. I found myself revisiting decisions I'd made in the past....questioning myself...wondering "what if" I'd chosen differently?  In the midst of all this my best friend called to share something she'd read on Facebook.....I wish I could remember exactly what it was because the words spoke to my heart and led me to Scripture, to searching for God's peace in His Word.

This verse reverberated within me, "Be still and know I am God." Psalm 46:10. Be still.  Stop aimlessly wandering through your fears and anxiety.  BE STILL. I realized that in my nervousness and agitation I was allowing my fears to drown out what God was trying to say to my heart, what He was trying to do for me.  So I stopped.  I curled up in my chair, took some deep breaths, and listened with my heart. I focused on what I knew to be true and unchanging.  God is with me. He loves me. He cares what happens in my life. I am His child. I do not have to "fix" anything because God is in control.

Gradually I felt peace sliding into the chaos, gently pushing the worries, the fears, the doubts out of my mind and my heart, replacing them with the knowledge, the certainty that God is with me and I will never have to face life on my own.  Do you know how comforting that is?  Especially in a world filled with chaos of ever sort and magnitude? I hope you do.  And if you don't, my prayer is that you will, because His peace can calm the storm in anyone.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Time for Everything

Ah Saturday!  For some reason this week seemed like the longest first week of school ever!  It wasn't a bad week but rather a busy and full week.  Despite the physical strain on my still healing body, I thoroughly enjoyed myself....and can hardly wait for Monday!  I know...I sound mental but I truly love where I work, the people with whom I work and the children that I teach.  Although I haven't always appreciated and rejoiced in what a blessing this is.

Back in the Spring I had the opportunity to interview for a position in our school system which would have allowed me to teach in my actual field of certification which is English and Speech.  In fact, there were three positions for which I interviewed.  I was so excited because it isn't often that English teaching positions open up in our city system....I had the support and encouragement of my current principal and many friends and coworkers. Because I had been waiting for years for this opportunity to present itself and had prayed so specifically for a teaching job, I felt that God was saying, "here ya go...your dream job!"

My first interview went so well I just knew God had come through for me!  Then I was offered an interview for another English position.....and my thought was "oh my now I'm going to have to choose between the two jobs."  I know, I vain does that sound?  But really what I meant was "God is more than answering my prayers!"  I could hardly sleep for the week and a half it took for them to contact me about the first job.......which I did NOT get.  Of course I was dejected.....but hey there was the other job I'd interviewed for, right?

I didn't get that job either....and I cried for several days about that as well. And I questioned God.  Because of the spiritual and emotional desert I was in at that time, I couldn't understand what was wrong with self-esteem took a big hit and I really began to doubt myself and my abilities.

Then I got the call for another interview!  I was so excited and berated myself for ever doubting that God was going to give me a teaching job I not only wanted but really needed financially.  For those not in education, an instructional aide makes half of a teacher's pay regardless of the degrees one might possess.....and in our economy.....that does not go far!

As you might have already surmised...I didn't get that job either!  That third "rejection" left me foundering in a whirlpool of doubt, depression and fear about the future. It was coupled with a sense of failure in my personal relationships.....and an anxiety about my physical short, I was a hot mess caught in a downward spiral.  That descent continued until the prayerful intervention I wrote about in "Out of the Darkness."

Looking back I can see the hand of God in every event.....He was working for my good in every was my faith that was in question....and my desire to control my life, to think I knew what was best for me.  I'm learning to let go. I'm working hard to let God shine in all areas of my life.  When I worry about how I'm going to pay my bills each and every month....I remind myself that God has promised to take care of every need.  I turn that particular fear into a hopeful anticipation of seeing God make miracles happen!

Meanwhile, I have the joy of working with people who bless me every day with their friendship....with an administrator who encourages me in the work I want to do with our students....with children who continuously amaze me with their resilience and their desire to make our world a better place.  In Ecclesiastes 3:1 we read, "there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven." Now is the time for me to be exactly where I am doing specifically what I am doing! Thank you God for showing me this truth!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes

My whole body aches....I can barely put one foot in front of the other....and my brain is like mush......but today was great!  I am enjoying the interaction I'm having with my students so much. For years I've worked with At-Risk students who struggle with all aspects of learning to read....and I'm still working with struggling students however, this year I'm targeting writing skills. And I'm having so much fun!

The students constantly amaze me with how hard they try to express themselves.  In order to make it easier and more enjoyable, I bend the rules a bit.  By this I mean, they are told not to worry about spelling or grammar or mechanics ......just write.  That stuff will come. My theory is that if they worry too much about being "perfect" the thoughts won't flow. Once they've gotten comfortable with the flow of thoughts then we add mechanics.

Yesterday the fourth grade students I work with were given writing "prompts" and given time to write.  I was astounded by the amount of writing they produced in just 20 minutes.  As I began to read their work I was struck by a common thread.  No matter to which prompt they responded, these nine year olds wrote about helping things to people who were "poor."  They weren't concerned with themselves but with how they could make the world they live in a better place.

Now you have to understand, a lot of these students receive free or reduced meals, have parents who are out of work, or are being raised by a single parent or a grandparent......they don't have an easy life. It made no difference.  One of the prompts was,"if I had a sack of gold I would....." and another was, "if I could fly I would." I was touched to read about the different ways the students would distribute the gold to other people "who needed it more." Those students who wrote about flying also talked about rescuing cats from trees or taking people places they needed to go.  It was never about themselves...only about helping others.

Kind of makes it easy to understand why Jesus encouraged His followers to become "like the least of these" when speaking to and about children.  If, like my students, we thought more about helping others than helping ourselves imagine how much better our world would become.  I can't wait to tell those blossoming writers how they've inspired me to be more giving, to look beyond myself and reach out to those in need. 

I love my job!    

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Back In the Groove

My goodness what a week!  For me, going back to work was a mixed blessing.  The biggest issue was having so little energy and dealing with the physical restrictions so necessary after surgery.  Instead of going out to eat every day with coworkers, I went home and took a quick nap...had to in order to get through the day.  Don't know what I'll do next week when the students are back and my day begins with morning duty at 7:15 and doesn't stop until after 3:00! Deal with it the best way I can, right?

There were times during the week when I felt overwhelmed by everything and began to doubt my ability to deal with, well, my life and all that it encompasses. I was afraid that I won't have the energy to stay healthy.  Then I was afraid if I had to deal with health issues I would have to miss work....and because of severe fibromyalgia episodes last school year I have NO sick leave hence if I miss work...the pay is docked and so forth and so on. THEN, I began worrying about being able to pay bills.....and if I can't pay bills then where will I live....and the litany grew and grew and grew.....and all because of fear and doubt.

Amazingly enough I was reading a book in which the author referenced several verses.  And of course there was one which totally spoke to my state of mind.  God has a wonderful way of reaching us in many long as we are willing and eager to listen......doesn't He?  Anyway, this was the verse; "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." II Timothy 1:7

Reading those words reminded me that if I have fear, it is not from God.  And if it is not from God I don't want it nor do I have to hold on to it. Just like any other negative thoughts or attitudes which might intrude on my frame of mind, I have to turn it over to God.  Let Him calm my fear with His peace....let Him remind me that He is in control and will take care of me. Of course the issue for me is to be as close to God as possible.....that is my journey.

I have to be honest the journey is not takes constant prayer.....makes the reading or meditating on Scripture the beginning point of every day.....and immersing myself in an attitude of total dependency on God's strength to get through the day.  And when I feel like I've failed God or means  turning to God is imperative.  In the past when I felt that way I withdrew from God, pulling further away every day.  I don't want to be in THAT place ever again!

So what if this spiritual journey of mine is difficult?  It is leading me to an attitude "of power and of love and of a sound mind." I've always been told anything worth having you have to work my life in an attitude of peace and love is most definitely worth any difficulties I may face along the way. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Loving Others

"A new command I give you: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13 :34-35

This is one of my favorite Scriptures!  It is clear and concise and tells me exactly what I'm supposed to do as a other people like Jesus loves me. Simple right?  Not always because I am far from perfect.  However, because I want to be a Godly woman loving others is my goal every single day.  But I can't do it on my own.

Every day I pray to see others as God sees look beyond the surface to the hidden hurts each one carries respond with kindness, caring and compassion to the things God reveals to me about the people with whom I come in contact. When I can't do it on my own....well, then I pray that God will love them for me.

Working with children as I do, I feel so strongly the responsibility to show each student God's love in action.  Some have loving parents who are ever present for their children......but many do not.  Others have loving parents who are having to work two jobs just to keep their family together.....that doesn't leave much time for nurturing those situations, both parents and children need to see God's love at work. And in my mind, it is crucial to show love and concern but never judgement.

You see, the new command in that verse is about loving one another, plain and simple.   It is not my responsibility to pass judgement on anyone......thank goodness!  That is not a job I want.  It says, love one how? as He loved why? so people will "know you are my disciples."I want to be known as one of His I will reach out to others as He reached out to me....and I will do it gladly.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Facing Temptation

Because of my recent surgery, I was unable to attend my church for the past two weeks....I missed it a lot. Although I prayed and meditated on God's Word every day, there is just something amazing about doing the same thing in a room full of others doing the same thing!  All those prayers being lifted up....all those praises for the things God is doing in each heart......all those believers asking God's Spirit to fill our hearts..........believe me when I say God was present.

One really important reason for being part of a body of believers became so apparent to me today.  Over the past few days my heart has been tempted......and it would be so easy to slide back into giving in to those temptations.  And honestly, it doesn't matter what my personal temptations are because we all have temptations we face daily. Only my best friend knew of my struggles with this issue.....or so I let myself think.

Imagine my surprise when our pastor began his lesson today with the following Scripture:

"Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away." James 1 :14

Another reminder that God knows everything about me!  He knows my weaknesses...and my strengths. AND He knows how to get my attention!  Sitting there today I realized there is nothing, nothing as important to me as being in God's Will for my life.  Yes, there are things I think I want or need, but if it takes my focus from God.....then it is not good for me.  If it is not something which glorifies Him then I don't want or need it.....period. I have lived away from God and I do not want to be away from Him again.

Our pastor went on to share the way we can resist temptation.  He shared Psalm 37 : 1-6 as a kind of blueprint I guess you could say.  The verse which resonated within my heart was verse 5 which says, "Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust Him and He will help you." That is my plan.  Whenever I am tempted.....I will turn that false desire over to God and He will help me.  Since we are all tempted daily.....I plan on taking more "delight in the Lord" because the closer I become to Him then the "desires of my heart" become more in line with what delights God.

Today God confirmed that He cares about me every-single-day, and He will use whatever means necessary to remind me of that fact.  I also know that if I do stumble, which is inevitable, He will pick me up, dust me off, and put me back on the path He has for me.

Friday, August 10, 2012

How It Began

I first began this blog as a way to work through mental and emotional issues.  For me, writing is like talking to a friend who always listens.....but doesn't necessarily respond.  I wasn't always faithful to write regularly. This summer I've made a conscious effort to be more regular in my writing because now more than ever I need clarity and focus.

I feel that I've come along way since June in that I now like myself......which is a big deal for someone who never felt "good" enough or "successful" enough.  That is not to say I think I'm perfect....not by a long shot. But...I can accept that I am a work in progress with faults and failings that only God can fix.

Most of my entries since June have included Scriptures, not because I am trying to "preach" to anyone. Rather, I want simply to share my journey to becoming the best person I can be......and for me that has meant looking to God for the strength and guidance to do so.  If you've been touched in any way by the things I've shared, its because that is my prayer every time I write.....that God touches you, not my simple thoughts......because although you are reading about my journey...this is not about me.....this is about what God is doing in the life of someone who is willing to be obedient and eager to serve Him.

Life is never is so much better with a God who loves me despite my failings.....a God who helps me bear emotional pain....a God who wants only the best for His followers.  I know that going back to work is going to be difficult so soon after surgery. I will be trusting God to give the extra measure of energy I know I'll need and if I know God, He's going to give me more than enough.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

He Cares

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares about you." I Peter 5:7

I spent today doing just all my anxiety to God.  For some reason  I felt overwhelmed by so much.....and by so many different things. The surgery was 2 weeks ago and I really thought I would have felt more energy than I do......and less pain.  School begins Monday and I really need to feel better than I do today!

Today for the first time, I thought to myself, "I wonder if God ever tires of my weeping and whining to Him?"  And I felt guilty for being so weak, for not being able to be strong, ........and many more negative thoughts kept on coming....and I felt like I was sliding into a place I never wanted to be in again. A place where I couldn't find anything about myself to like......a place where I couldn't imagine God being able to love someone like me.

But unlike times past, I stopped myself.....because God does love me.  I turned to Scripture for the comfort I felt I needed and there was I Peter 5: 7...."Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares about you." There was the answer. No, God does not get tired of hearing me weeping and whining.  It says in His Word I am to cast all my anxiety on Him.  Not just a little bit once in a while....all of it!And I am to do this because He cares about me....not just sometimes....always.

I am working daily on becoming a better person.....on following God's guidance in all parts of my life.  For too long I stumbled in darkness causing pain to myself and to people I love......but I'm not in that place anymore.  I am content to lean on wait patiently for His plan to unfold.....and to let Him love me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


"Many are the plans in the mind of a man but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." Proverbs 19:21

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I enjoy arts and crafts .....look in my closet and you will see numerous projects in various stages of completion.  Some have been there longer than others but they will all eventually be completed. The good things  about that are, I always have something enjoyable to work on and because my interests are varied, I'm always attempting to learn a new skill. On the other hand, not all my projects come out as they are intended because I've either lost the directions because its been so long since I worked on the project....or I'm too impatient to follow the directions correctly.

I'm the type of person who is always eager to learn new things and my mind is always racing with ideas. The problem is once I've implemented a plan...basically gotten things started....I'm ready to had the supervision over to someone else and move on to the next idea. Not a good habit to cultivate. And I realize that so I'm trying to change that part of my personality.

Instead of jumping into a project with both feet because it looks like fun......I'm determined to weigh the pros and cons.....decide if it is an idea that benefits others as well as myself......and make sure I'm willing to spend the time necessary to complete the project. The very first thing I'll do though is to pray about it.

That is the most important change in my approach to life. Short 30 second prayers were the way I handled things.  My painful metamorphosis this summer has shown me that prayer really should be without ceasing.....a constant dialogue with God so that He can keep me on the right track. If nothing else, the change in the way I approach prayer has changed how I approach others things in my life.

"Many are the plans in the mind of man" or woman in my case.  But my plans are secondary to the purpose of God. Prayer is teaching me to be talk to God about my ideas.  My plans may sound brilliant to me but if they don't line up with what God's purpose is for me then they aren't worth the energy.  Sometimes my plans and God's purpose do line up and when that! Things are amazing!  But sometimes they don't....and God helps me see that.....and usually I say to myself...."what was I thinking?" 

God wants His children to succeed and that is part of His purpose for us.  We just have to remind ourselves that God's idea of success and the world's idea of success are different.  As for myself.....I choose the "perfect" success God has planned for me no matter what shape it takes.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fulfilling God's Purpose

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands." Psalm 138 : 8

Sitting here this morning, enjoying that first cup of coffee, watching the rain clouds gather as a tiny hummingbirds zips around the feeder I hung just for him........and it occurs to me, that I've had no human contact for nearly a week!  No wonder I've felt a bit low. Of course, were I free to drive I would have gotten out of my apartment and done SOMETHING to allay this pressing loneliness.

Thank goodness for least I can play games, read the posts of friends (and comment when appropriate!) And I've used the time to read my read others books I've had on my Kindle work on my isn't that I don't have anything to do.  The point is I miss people... the exchange of ideas over a cup of coffee....the shared laughter....hugs of encouragement......all of that. Of course, once school begins next week there's no doubt I will be longing for these quiet times!

At any I sat here enjoying my "pity party," I remembered the above verse and I had to stop and look it up. And there it was.....another promise from the God who loves me unconditionally.

"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me."  Yes He has a purpose for a lonely middle-aged woman who lives alone and is currently recovering from thyroid surgery.  This place I find myself in is only temporary.....and it is okay to feel sorry for myself and cry and wonder what comes next....but only for a little while.  Because God has a purpose for me, a job He needs me to do and I won't let Him down.I don't have to know what it is yet because if it is God's plan for me then it is perfect. So for now, I will pray and meditate on His words and open my heart to His guidance and offer myself as a willing and obedient servant.

Why? Well, the next part of the verse sums it up for me.....

"...Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever." His love, His promises to His children never stop...if they do it is because we turn away from Him not because He forsakes us.....and even then, He is still waiting for us to come back.  I know because I once turned away.....and when I hit bottom, there He was.....arms wide open and a smile of welcome on His face.

"Do not forsake the work of Your hands." I can assure you from my experience that He doesn't.....and that is a wonderful feeling.