Friday, January 28, 2011

A Little Bit of Panic!

Last night was the first, of possibly many nights to come, where I lost sleep over my daughter's upcoming wedding.  For some reason, I woke up in the middle of the night and my mind started churning out lists of things that suddenly needed immediate attention!  My gosh, what have we been doing the past seven months?  This wedding is only two and a half months away.  Did you hear that?  Two and a half months! 

How do people pull together all of the details for an occasion like this?  It certainly wasn't as complicated back when my husband and I tied the knot.  We managed to get guests to our wedding by simply sending out an invitation.  Nobody needed to get a reminder in the mail to "save the date." 
And once we got the church booked, we were good.  There was no search for the perfect "venue" for the reception.   No catering calls or need for DJs to keep the reception moving along.  All we needed was a fellowship hall at the church, a cake, some mixed nuts (and I'm not referring to any of the guests), some pastel mints and we called it good.

But last night I started trying to figure out just how we were going to manage to get the church decorated, hold a wedding rehearsal, have a rehearsal dinner and decorate an entire reception hall all in an hour and a half. there's a little more time than that, but in the darkness of night, it didn't feel like it.

And then there are all of the special details that need to be tended to for the reception.  My daughter would kill me if I divulged details at this point, but last night the list seemed overwhelming.  So much to remember; so easy to forget.  The ironic thing is that my daughter has been doing a great job taking care of all these things.  But what kind of mother would I be if I didn't worry myself sick over things that aren't my reponsibility in the first place.  And I'm very, very good mother!

I don't know.  I'm sure that, somehow, everything will come together just fine.  Brides...and mothers of the brides have been pulling off these events for years.  I may just need to stock up on a few sleeping aids to help me sleep like a baby.  Baby?  Wait a minute, I have a grandbaby coming any day now! Aw heck.  I might as well just plan on worrying my way through the nights for the next two and a half months. Really, it's not that long.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ordinary Heroes

Ordinary heros.  Perhaps that sentence is an oxymoron. We tend to think of a hero as someone who is larger than life, beyond the ordinary.  But actually, the Merriam-Webster dictionary says that a hero is simply someone of great strength and ability.  And recently, I've been sharing my space with people of great strength who are an inspiration to me.

On Friday night, my husband and I spent the evening with some friends from church.  One of the women has a disease that, for the past few years, has been stealing her eyesight.  It is quite likely that eventually she will be completely blind.  So, on Friday, I asked her what she sees when she looks at me.  My friend began to explain that, depending on the light, she mostly only sees outlines and shadows and light.  She can no longer make out features clearly. I was stunned. While I knew that she was losing her eyesight, I didn't realize how bad it had become. Yet this friend of mine goes through her day with a graciousness and optimisim that I would find difficult to muster.  I'm sure she has her moments of fear and loss, but her courage in facing her everday challenges inspires me.  In my life, she is an ordinary hero.

I have a sister who has been in an emotionally abusive relationship for many years.  But over two years ago, she decided that she wanted out.  Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as simply saying she was done.  The manipulation and control that she had been under for so long, made it extremely difficult to just walk away.  So she fought her way out.  She sought counseling, she read and educated herself on the subject, she had many failed attempts to get out, but she didn't give up.  This past fall, she put an end to a 22-year relationship that had stolen her joy and self esteem for too long.  With the help of family and friends, she is starting over and her future is now filled with optimism.  In my life, she is an ordinary hero.

I have a friend who went through a horrendous year last year.  Along with caring for elderly parents whose needs are great and a constant demand on her time, she experienced the loss of a child.  Not through death, but through the actions of that child who betrayed her love and shattered her heart.  She finally had to turn her back and say "no more" because to do otherwise would only have contributed further to that child's downward decline.  But as a mother, that decision was heartbreaking.  Yet today, she chooses to see hope for better days in 2011.  In my life, she is an ordinary hero.

These are not the only people of great strength in my life. I am fortunate to be surrounded by many others. Some are heroic in how they exhibit integrity, forgiveness, compassion or a determination to simply keep going in difficult situations.  They are the blessings that encourage and inspire me each and every day, when I take the time to notice them.  You might want to take a moment to recognize the heroes in your life too.  I'm sure they are there, living ordinary lives in heroic ways.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


I hear you talk about taking childbirth classes.  I read your blog where you give excellent advice about parenting, gleaned from observations from your years in children's ministry, and  you speak about the kind of parent you want to be.  I see the nursery that you and Monika have been working on for months now, ready and waiting for little Ella.  You plan and prepare for the extra expenses a baby will bring.

And I know you are ready. As ready as any first-time parent can be.  Because in a matter of a few weeks...maybe days...your life will be transformed.

That's when it will be hard for me to believe that this little guy, who first transformed my life, is a...


Thursday, January 13, 2011


I heard this on the radio yesterday and have spent a lot of time thinking about it.

"Pain is inevitable; misery is optional."

It was shared by a woman, who while facing another difficult chemo treatment,  heard this saying and decided to choose joy. And it changed her life.

These words are empowering and true.They are a reminder that no matter what we are facing, we have options. And those options come in the form of how we choose to face the pain and trials of life. It's my desire to start making better choices because I'd much rather live with joy than in misery.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Triple Dose of MRIs

Yesterday I had an MRI.  Well, to be accurate, I had three MRIs.  It's what happens when you start getting old(er) and all the joints in your body start to protest for no discernible reason.  Hence, the MRIs.  One for each shoulder and one for my knee.

I've had an MRI before, but it was several years ago.  I don't remember it being any big deal.  A bit noisy but they let me listen to music and tucked me in all snug while the monster machine did its magic. 

Fortunately, I'm not claustrophobic.  But when the technician said it would take about an hour and a half, it did give me a moment's pause. The technician wasn't a bad guy, but he really wasn't all that warm and fuzzy either.  He whipped through his instructions on how to undress/dress and then position myself on the MRI machine for the first go round. As he handed me a tiny pair of earplugs, he said the first two sessions on my shoulders would each take 20 minutes and that I had to remain absolutely still.  I quickly shoved the earplugs in my ears and off we went.

Did I mention that I'm not claustrophobic?  Because I did have to remind myself of that, as I was slowly fed into the tiny cannon-like opening where the ceiling was only a few inches from my nose.  All I'm saying is it would have been an tight squeeze for Cyrano de Bergerac. So I figured it was best to just close my eyes and think of other things.  Which I did until the first explosion happened.

Okay, it wasn't really an explosion, it only sounded and felt like it in my right ear.  My first reaction was to  reach up and push that tiny little earplug in farther...which of course, I couldn't do.  Remember, I had to "remain absolutely still." The first explosion was followed by the incessant pounding of a jackhammer (or maybe it was a machine gun being fired) and then some obnoxiously loud clicking noises.  After that, there was a lull.

That's when I knew I needed a distraction if I was going to get through this thing.  Think about something else.  Focus.  But all I could focus on was how dang cold my feet were.  Somehow during the technician's instructions on undressing I missed the fact that I could have left my socks on!  Oh well, a little late to be worry about that.

What else could I think about?  Bible verses!  I've been memorizing Bible verses since I was a little girl.  What an excellent time to review them in my head.  Wait a minute!  I know that I know more than four Bible verses!  I won prizes in Sunday School for scripture memorization.  C'mon, think! see with my family history, it's not good when you start forgetting things that you've always known. I mean, was I even going to remember how to get home once this was over?

That's about  when my little bed gave a jerk and suddenly moved a bit.  And then the noise began all over again. This same cycle when on for twenty minutes during which time I fought the urge to cough, sneeze, scratch and hiccup.  Why my throat began to close up while I was in there, I'll never know, but I swear, that for awhile, I couldn't swallow or breathe.

At one point, I heard the technicians voice come through a little speaker asking if I was okay.  When I told him, yes, he immediately said that I had about 11 minutes to go and then he was gone and I was left to pass those 11 minutes as best I could.

When the first MRI was finally over, the technician came in all business-like and shifted things around on the machine to start on my other shoulder.  That's when he told me that they don't usually schedule so many of these at one time because people have a hard time staying still for that long.  Couldn't he have told me that after the last MRI instead of after the first one when I still had two more to go?

So we repeated the process on the second shoulder.  But this time when I came out of the machine, I was deaf.   No kidding.  When Mr. Technician started talking to me, I could barely hear him over the ringing in my ears.  That lasted all  last night and into this morning.  It's finally gotten better, although I still hear a humming in my ears when everything else is quiet. 

During the third MRI, which was on my left knee, I was so cold that I could barely keep from shivering.  The only thing that kept me still was the fear that I would mess up the MRI and they would have to do it over and then they'd charge me for another one.  I'd already freaked myself out over how much all of this is going cost.  I finally just resigned myself to living retirement on the streets.

So now I wait.  I'm hoping that the MRIs will reveal something minor and easy to fix in both my shoulders and my knee.  So far, anti-inflammatories and physical therapy haven't done it.  I moan and groan and hobble around and think that I'm too young for all of this.  And now, thanks to the MRIs I'm also going to need a hearing aid!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Stress Be Gone! Time for a Little R&R!

I got a text from my daughter today that said, "I have my slippers on and I'm lying under a big blanket on the couch. I plan to stay like this most of the day and I'm REALLY excited about it."  I texted back my enthustastic support!

It seems like lately, life has gotten crazy, and trying to find a little down time has become nearly impossible.  Between increased stress at work and at home, I felt like I barely made it through the holidays.  That's why I determined to take a couple of extra days off over the New Year's weekend.  The thought of a few unscheduled days was what got me through some otherwise stressful times.

But it wasn't easy.  It's hard to say "no."  It's hard to not feel guilty about needing and taking some time for yourself.  But I realized, that in the long run, everyone around me would benefit if I could just carve out a little down time for me.

I needed some time to not only rest my body, but also my mind.  For too long now, my mind has been racing and stressing over all of the things that I'm responsible for, even when I can't to do anything about in the middle of the night.  What a waste of my energy! 

Yesterday, my sister sent me this quote, "The greatest weapon against stress, is our ability to choose one thought over another." I loved that and it immediately reminded me of one of my favorite scriptures.  Philippians 4:8 says "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things." It really is all about mind control, in the most positive sense.

I don't know how my life became this never-ending series of responsibilities.  When did I lose the ability to simply rest; to immerse myself in the beauty of the moment without worrying about the next thing on my to-do list? I long for a slower-paced life where I take the time to cherish those things that are precious to me.  It's up to me.  No one can do it for me.

So, I'm working on getting better at choosing the thoughts that bring peace and rest.  Combine those thoughts with a little guilt-free time reading on my couch while sipping a cup of coffee and life looks a whole lot better. You might want to give it a try too.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

All Boxed Up and Ready to Simplify

I took a day of vacation today and used a big part of it to take down and box up my Christmas decorations.  I usually like to leave my decorations up just until New Years and then I want it all gone and my house back to normal.

But I was a bit slow to getting the packing done this year.  However, as I was putting all of the decorations back in their boxes and bringing out my "normal" things, I suddenly was overwhelmed with the desire to clean out my house.  I've been feeling it lately... an almost suffocating feeling of too much stuff!

So while I am not one to make New Years resolutions, this year, I really do hope to make some serious progress at cleaning out closets, drawers, boxes and any place else that is harboring stuff that I no longer need or want. 

I feel almost giddy at the thought getting out from under all of this stuff.  Not only am I ready to let go of things, but I'm ready to release some "traditions" that no longer have meaning for me or bring me joy.  Instead, they fall into the category of "one more thing I have to do."  Who needs that?

So, while I won't be renting a dumpster for my driveway (although I could probably fill one!), I am going to start doing little projects that will clean out and free up spaces in my house. I'm feeling more optimistic just thinking about it!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Year Ahead

This morning, I was reading in the new devotional book that I bought on New Years Day.  As I flipped through the 365 writings that I will eventually read throughout this year, I paused long enough to wonder what this year will hold. 

We never know what events we will face as we start the journey into a new year. Looking back at what my life was like last year at this time, reminds me that change awaits me at every turn in the coming days.  That thought brings a mixture of anticipation and apprehension because this past year has had some wonderful, joyful moments. Most recently, however, it has had its times of struggle and deep pain.

As I walk through the next 362 days, I expect to embrace joys as well as face struggles just as I have in years gone by. And by the time I have finish reading the final writing in my devotional for 2011, I'll have added one more chapter to my life.  And it will have been as unique as each one that came before it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

In My Mother's Shoes

The older I get, the more like my mother I become...especially in the area of shoes.  My mother loved shoes!

Mom never bought cheap shoes because she knew the value of spending a little more and getting good quality. And she always got her money's worth out of them.  Mom kept her good shoes in their boxes.  The shelf in her closet was stacked with rows of boxes that housed her best shoes.

Wedding shoes!
Over the past few years, I've begun a love affair with shoes that would make my mother proud!  The problem is, I like my shoes to be cute, but I also want them to be comfortable. And that's not always an easy combination for me since I have very narrow, boney feet.  

I think I made an exception to my rule when I bought a pair of three-inch heels to wear to my daughter's upcoming wedding, but they were just too cute to pass up and they match my outfit perfectly!

I know lots of women think I'm being unreasonable in my shoe-buying demands since they are more than willing to sacrifice comfort for fashion. But I usually hold out for shoes that I can actually walk in.  So that means that when I find a pair of shoes that I like and they actually fit (and they're on sale because as I've said before, I'm cheap), I better buy them or I'll end up regretting it. 

So yesterday, my sister, Linda, and I hit the mall for a little post-Christmas shopping and I found TWO pairs of shoes that were cute, comfortable AND on sale.  The first pair I was actually looking for. I've kind of re-thought the idea of walking  around in three-inch heels all night long at my daughter's wedding and I've been on the lookout for a pair of comfortable flats that I can slip on for the reception.  Yesterday, I found them...cute little black flats with bows on the toes that will be perfect for my tired feet.  The second pair that I bought was totally an impulse buy.  But I could just hear my mother say that they were such good deals...

Anyway, these shoes were made for walking and as I walk into a new year, I need to be walking away from all shoe stores for a while!