Tag Archives: family

30 Memories of 1978 …

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Recently I’ve contemplated simpler times.  I must be getting old or something …or just need to

de-stress.  At any rate, that line of thinking brought me back to my childhood; so here we go:

30 Memories of 1978:

  1. My best friend was Kim and we shared every minute together that we weren’t in school.  We played kickball, softball, hide-and-seek, Barbies, paper dolls, caught lightning bugs, played Monopoly and Pay Day ’til the cows came home and watched Dukes of Hazard every Friday night.
  2. You had to get up and turn the t.v. dial to change the channel or control the volume!
  3. We had no microwave and wouldn’t for eight more years!
  4. We went to church every Sunday.
  5. Back then, we really got snow!  How thrilling it was to go sledding down a huge hill in the power lines that ran behind our houses!  Of course, it was a long way to trudge back up the hill … to do it all over again … but so worth it!  🙂
  6. I was in 3rd grade and it was my last year at a public school.  Little did I know how difficult the next school year would be when I would be immersed in a rigorous educational program at a private school!
  7. My 83 year old grandmother made us pancakes every morning before we headed down the hill to catch the school bus.  She also nudged us awake each day with her cane.  I always wanted more sleep!  🙂
  8. I remember thinking how neat it was that President Jimmy Carter had a little girl, Amy, living in the White House.
  9. We rarely got new clothes outside of beginning a new school year at our private school or Christmas.  We didn’t expect anything otherwise.
  10. Hand-me-downs and used toys were very common.
  11. I loved family trips to the beach when we visited extended family in the summer.
  12. My younger sister and I were always outdoors!
  13. Even back then, I loved to write letters. (and receive them!)
  14. Mrs. Jones was my 3rd grade teacher and I loved her.
  15. School papers were mimeographed.  I still remember that blue ink & the smell.
  16. I had a lot of friends at school.
  17. I was a Chatty Cathy!
  18. I deeply admired my neighbor’s vibrant, red tulips each spring!
  19. We had a huge, wood paneled station wagon. It was a boat!
  20. If you wanted to speak to family out of state, you better make it brief.  Long distance was expensive!
  21. When the phone rang, it was seldom for a child.  Phone calls were more for grown ups or teenagers.
  22. Phones had this crazy cord attached.  Most phones were black.
  23. No one I knew had a computer.  I don’t think I knew what one was.
  24. You didn’t talk back to grown ups.  Most had respect for their elders.
  25. We weren’t allowed to chew gum in school.
  26. We had to do our homework before we went out to play.
  27. I hated spinach, brussel sprouts & stuffed peppers.  (still do!)
  28. I helped with household chores, including laundry and cooking.
  29. Greatly admired my older sister, who wore clogs & vests.
  30. We just knew our future would be very bright!

….. I hope you enjoyed this little snippet of my world way back when!  What are your fondest memories of simpler times?

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Waiting for Surgery

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Surgery is such a common occurrence these days that it is possible you or someone you know will have surgery in the near future.  As I find myself in that category, I thought I’d offer some useful tips for both the patient and friends and family.

To the patient first – 

  •  My best advice is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible regarding the type of surgery you will undergo.  The more you know, the less you will worry.  The fear of the unknown is a terrible thing.
  • Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • Prepare your household (stock up on groceries, make sure things are taken care of in advance that usually rely on your efforts.)
  • Pay all bills and make sure spouse knows where important papers are.
  • Pamper yourself a little.
  • Pray and leave the surgery in God’s hands.
  • Relax.  Before you know it, the surgery will be history and you’ll be on the road to recovery!

To friends & family –

  • Ask your friend or family member how you can best offer assistance.
  • Plan to prepare a simple meal to drop off after surgery. (Don’t linger.  They need rest and are likely in pain.)
  • Offer to do light grocery shopping.
  • Write a thoughtful get well card.  (Everyone loves to be thought of, especially when they’re not feeling up to par.)
  • Give a little thinking of you gift. (lip balm, lotion, word search puzzle book, etc.)
  • Pray for their healing, comfort and peace during this time.

 

I hope this was helpful.  If you’d like to add any tips, please leave a comment.

Here’s wishing all of us a healthy year!

 

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When Heaven is Silent

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Have you ever prayed about something near and dear to your heart for a long time and all your spirit hears are crickets?  Yeah, me too.  It’s times like those that it is easy to believe two lies:  1.)  God doesn’t hear us.  or 2.)  God chooses not to answer.

When I’m feeling spiritually weak, I am prone to believe one or both of these lies.

The Bible says that we walk by faith, not by sight, right? I’m so glad our spiritual walk is based on what the Bible says and not on how we feel or what we see.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” ~ I John 5:14-15

Over the course of my life, I have prayed countless prayers.  Some have taken years before I saw the answers come to fruition.  That just makes the answer that much more sweet.  Ah, the delays.  Why the delays?  We may never know this side of heaven but what we do know is that God wants us to pray, expecting that we will receive.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” ~ Hebrews 4:16

Probably my favorite parable of all is that of the widow and the unjust judge.  She kept beseeching his help and finally because this widow was relentless – She would NOT give up – The judge granted her request!  (lest she weary him)  I love this because it illustrates the power of standing firm in prayer, never giving up – no matter what!  Tenacious praying!

“And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:

And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.

And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;

Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.

And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.

And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” ~ Luke 18:1-8

Now, God does not have the attitude of this unjust judge, but rather, Jesus was drawing a contrast to our heavenly Father.  If this was the response of the unjust judge, what do you think the response of our Abba Father would be when one of His children calls?

I recently received a glimpse of the beginnings of an answer to one of my heart’s cries and I was indeed humbled once again.  Humbled because it showed me that despite my faith, maybe sometimes I doubt whether God is working behind the scenes.

Just because we cannot see the manifestation of the object of our prayer does not mean there isn’t movement!

It is possible that some answers to prayer may not be visible or made known to us during our lifetime.  It may be that future realities will be born out of today’s prayer.  And these realities may be birthed long after we are gone.  That should give us cause to pray even more fervently because I do not believe that prayers die.  I believe that God remembers our petitions to throne of grace and that He will cause His perfect will to be accomplished.  But the vehicle for this to be carried out is prayer.  In this regard, I believe prayer is a great legacy.

So, don’t give up on those prayers that are near to your heart, my friend.  God knows.  He hears.  He sees your tears and knows the cry of your heart.

“Rejoice evermore.   Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” ~ I Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” ~ James 5:16

 

 

 

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It’s Less About Us & More About Him

The message of the Cross is more about Jesus and less about us (in terms of qualifications or assets we may bring to the table).  The central theme of the Cross is God’s overwhelming and extravagant love for humanity. Hinged on that love, Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice was displayed for all of the world.

The compelling truth regarding the Cross is that you or I do not have to be “good” enough, as if that were even possible, to become sons and daughters of God.  In fact, we know that the Bible says that our righteousness (if there’s anything remotely good about us) is equal to that of filthy rags.  Wow.  Way to deflate the human ego.  But it’s true.  I think most of us already know that, if we are honest with ourselves anyway.

No, the message of the Cross is less about us and all about Jesus.  His character is compassionate, loving, kind, good, thoughtful, patient, longsuffering.

“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.”  ~ Psalm 103:8

If we can just grasp those attributes and dwell on those for a moment…It’s overwhelming to consider that the Great God of the Universe thinks about you and me … and prays for us daily.  The Bible says He daily makes intercession for us!  (Romans 8:34)  That is a humbling thought right there, my friend.  He has time for me?  Well, the reality is that God transcends time and space.  His reality is not the same as the confines we, humans, operate in.  He is All Powerful and His power knows no limits, no boundaries.  That is something that is difficult for our finite minds to process.  We must simply believe.

The truth is that none of us are qualified to become followers of Jesus Christ.  Equally true, God calls the unqualified.  That right there should be a liberating thought, my friend.  Grace beckons to our soul to receive such an unattainable and unearned gift.  And because of this great gift, we are then able to show others such grace.  Not that we would become hoarders of God’s gift, but a sieve for it to then flow through.

There is room at the Cross for you today.  It doesn’t matter what your past is.  God can rewrite your life story and create a brand new future for you.  That’s what I love so much about God and the redemptive power of the Cross — It is transformational!

If you fully accept God’s gift of grace, it is impossible to remain the same.  Once you’ve accepted God’s love and understand the sacrifice of His Son, it makes you want to change!

The message of the Cross is all about the love of our Heavenly Father, poured out through Jesus Christ, to reconcile a lost world back to Him.  His message is still the same today.  He is Jehovah, “I Am”, the One Who is the Self-Existent One.  He never changes.  His promises never fail.  When we are faithless, He is faithful.  (Psalm 102)

Rather than focus on your own shortcomings, set your eyes on the unchanging character of God through His Word.  When we study God’s Word, it causes things to fall into the proper perspective.  It sheds light on our darkness.  It gives us wisdom to know which path to pursue.

No, we are not the message of the Cross.  We are merely the objects of God’s unending affection.  In that regard, it makes us kind of special.  But, it’s all about Him.  We are God’s creation and He is the Creator.  May we never allow pride to confuse the two.

“God saved you by His grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.  For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  ~ Ephesians 2:8-9  NLT

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Before Goliath, a Lion & a Bear

David conquered a lion and a bear before he ever faced the greatest challenge of his lifetime – Goliath.

And prior to governing all of Egypt, Joseph ran Potiphar’s household.

Have you ever considered that previous battles in your own life were preceded by similar ones?  Battles that we survived and ones that we developed stronger faith through.

As I contemplate my own health challenges at the moment and my role as a health advocate for my daughter, Sarah, I am reminded that there were former struggles that prepared me for such a time as this.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I used to take my father to all of his medical appointments and have helped him during his recovery on a number of occasions.  I am his medical power of attorney and have advocated for him countless times.

And, of course, being a parent of three children predisposes one to seeking the best treatment for another.

Prior to this, after the premature death of our mother twenty-three years ago, my younger sister and I became chief health advocates on behalf of our 98 year old grandmother.  (Yes, our maternal grandmother survived our mother by two and a half months!)

Life has a way of revolving in cycles, doesn’t it?  If you live long enough, cycles repeat themselves and you glean important lessons and wisdom.

I am thankful for the lessons of faith, courage, patience and compassion that I have learned over the years.  When we are facing the storms of life, it is very unpleasant and we look for the nearest exit.  But, if we keep our eyes focused on the God who calms the seas, our faith will grow and we will be stronger because of it.

When we were rear ended by a drunk driver in May 2014, I determined very early on that I would focus on the positives.  I was keenly aware that my children were watching my responses to the situation and that by highlighting the pain and negativity, it would only serve to prolong our healing process.

Sometimes we need to reframe a situation, to step back and focus on the unchanging truth of the Bible and God’s promises to be with us.

During difficult times, it is helpful to keep a “Thankfulness” journal.  It is hard to remain discouraged when we keep our sight on God’s blessings.

Each of us have much to be thankful for.  Sometimes it’s a matter of perspective.  We need to realize that while we may have needs and wants, most of us are more wealthy than a large percentage of the world.

Often, the feeling of being out of control is a seed of discouragement.  To counteract this, concentrate on what you can do to improve the situation.

Yes, you can’t change your spouse, but you can work on you.

Yes, you may not be able to avoid surgery, but you can occupy your mind with positive things in the meantime.

Yes, you can’t make the neighbor turn down their loud, obnoxious music, but you can turn on your favorite music and work on a hobby that brings you joy.

Yes, you can’t make your co-workers like you, but you can invest your efforts in being the best employee possible.

I’m not suggesting mind over matter.  I’m suggesting changing your focus/mind in order to change your reality and future.  Life’s realities often begin in the mind.

I am reminded of a story I heard a while back:

A lady who happened to be blind was being relocated to a new room in a retirement home.  A nurse asked her how she felt about this change as she was about to be taken to her new living quarters.  The blind lady replied, “Oh, I absolutely love it!”  The nurse was astounded.  How could you love it already?  The blind lady said, “I already made up my mind that it’s going to be wonderful.”

Her situation hadn’t changed.  She remained blind.  But she was not blind to the fact that she should have a positive mindset in order to be happy.  I think that’s where many of us flub up.  When bad things happen, instead, we tend to focus on all the negative things and lose sight of the possibilities of a positive outcome.

So, if you find yourself in a raging battle today, friend, remember that, “This too shall pass.”

I think that’s another fallacy we often believe.  Life is ever changing.  Bad things come and go.  Good things come and go.  Ebbs and flows.

We will be in a better position to face today’s battle if we remember, like the Israelites did in the Old Testament, all of the previous battles along with their lessons.  They would build monuments in the desert where God performed miracles in previous battles.  We, too, should do the same.  Remind ourselves that the same God who delivered before, will again, deliver us!

“Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.”

 ~ Psalm 107:6

 

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I did 20 Years…and so did he

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A rather persistent, mutual friend insisted that I meet “this guy” that would be just perfect for me.  I brushed her off a couple times as I’d recently come out of a hurtful relationship and besides I preferred things to happen naturally.  Nonetheless, I humored her and agreed that she could give “this guy” my phone number.

He called and in a matter of a few conversations, we fell in love.  We had many subsequent, lengthy phone calls in the evenings after work.  Each of us couldn’t wait for the next time we could speak!  I agreed to attend a Christian concert with him and some other mutual friends.  After the concert, we all went out to eat.  I was starving.  Literally, I could hear the acids in my stomach raging but I was too nervous to eat.  I opted just to have a Coke and upon “this guy’s” insistence, a few of his fries.  I was so hungry, yet I wouldn’t eat.  Ah, young love.  Well, we talked all night and our love story was sealed that June evening.

We were engaged on Christmas Day and married the following June, 20 years ago.

What is the secret of staying married until death do you part?

I like the quote I’ve seen around, “We were born in a time when divorce was not an option.”

or this one:

“I was born in a time when if something was broken, you fixed it.”

There’s something to those sayings.  It’s called removing the option of giving up, of throwing in the proverbial towel, and pushing up your sleeves and working on it.  A little elbow grease.  Effort.

Marriage is hard work.

There are no two ways around it.  But did you ever have a relationship that wasn’t?  We are all enshrined in this flesh called humanity, and as such, we have tendencies of failure.  We also have huge capacities to love.

And in my Bible it says that love conquers all.

Love hopes.  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not boast.  Love places the other before self.

That’s what love looks like.

Yes, love is hugs, kisses and all the physical trappings that accompany the marriage relationship and make it one of the most beautiful unions.

Sometimes life requires more than mere hugs and kisses.

Sometimes it demands forgiveness, forbearance, time, selflessness.

The demands of family, work, finances can be absolutely draining.  And sometimes one can feel like you have nothing left to give.  There are certainly seasons like that, especially when the kids are young.

We are happily at the stage now where our kids are nearly grown.  The two younger ones at home are 16 and 18.  Our oldest left home quite a few years ago and is 27.  So, the physical demands on us are fewer than they were years ago.  But during the years of great demand, that’s when dating your spouse really is important.  Carving out “couple time” is crucial to staying on the same page emotionally.

Twenty years now.  This June it will be 21 years!  God sure has been faithful to us.  We’ve weathered some fierce storms, times when throwing in the towel sure had its appeal.  If we succumbed to giving up, we would have forfeited the most precious love we share today.

When we were newlyweds, our euphoric love seemed incredible – like Fourth of July fireworks!  We thought it couldn’t get any better than this!  We were so young and naive.  Weathering the storms of life together creates an undeniable bond and deeper love than one could have imagined.

Am I thankful for the storms?  Well, maybe I am.  Strange as that sounds.  Without them, I would not have seen the sweet expression of love and care when my husband has brought me soup when I’ve been ill.  Without the challenges, we wouldn’t realize how desperately we needed one another.  Without the adversities, we would not know the grace and mercy of God as displayed through the other.

You know, friends, when we love our spouses, we are honoring God.  And when God is honored, there are blessings!

One of the most meaningful things my husband and I do together is pray.  When our hearts are overwhelmed, we invoke God’s presence and power into our lives.  When our hearts are full of thankfulness and joy, we express that, too, in prayer.  God is such a vital part of our relationship and He has always been.  I encourage you to pray with your spouse if possible.  God truly honors the unity of prayer.

Not only that, but I believe there is power in prayer.  Sometimes the most spiritual prayer is – “Help!”   God is close to the brokenhearted, my friend.

My husband and I are testaments of God’s grace and His power at work in our hearts.  The beauty of being married for a while is that before long, you know the other’s heart.  My husband knows what I will and will not do and vice versa.  Our hearts trust the other.

So, love begets trust.  And like a garden.  If left untilled, weeds will grow.  Don’t neglect your most precious relationship.

The grass is not greener on the other side.  There are weeds over there.  Till your own garden and your marriage will flourish.

What you invest in, you will reap the harvest.  Invest well.

 

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Is Creativity Lost?

Why is it that everyone wants to be like someone else?  Have you ever noticed that once a fad begins, everyone falls all over themselves to copy it?  As if by doing so validates their personhood or makes them one of the group.  As if by not doing so excludes them from the club.

Does anyone have an original thought in their head anymore?

I must be on social media overload or something with all this bed rest, but I can’t help but notice the clone like tendencies we, Americans, tend to gravitate toward.

Has anyone else pondered this?

Maybe I’m too stubborn or hard headed.  Or maybe I take the verse literally:

“Ye are a chosen generation, royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people.”  ~   I Peter 2:9

As Christians we are supposed to stand out, to be different in our faith, in our lifestyles.

I believe we should be some of the most original, authentic, salt of the earth folks around.

But how does this relate to originality?

Instead of looking to emulate the ways of this world, we should seek wisdom from God as to how to lead our lives.

I think Christians should be some of the most creative minds because God is our Father and He is the author of all creation.  He spoke the worlds into existence and they came into being.

Ask God today to give you creative ideas to solve life’s challenges and to be a blessing to those around you.

The Bible says, “If any man lack wisdom, he should ask of God that gives to all men liberally…” ~ James 1:5

You were designed by God to be different in order to make a difference.

If we lose our originality, aren’t we then just mere clones, shells of existence?

I challenge you to be the unique creature that God created you to be.  Don’t worry about fitting in.  Don’t worry about approval from others.  Just be you.

The world will be a better place because of it.

 

 

 

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American Excess & Balance

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I’ve often contemplated this seeming disease that plagues us.  I love to organize and clean things and have since I was a kid.  Definitely a “Type A” here.  Just for fun, I enjoy watching YouTube videos on organizing or cleaning, and I’m amazed by the glutton of household items average people possess!

I will preface any further observations and opinions by saying – we have moved many times in our twenty year marriage, which forces evaluation of one’s “stuff”.  That said, after our recent move back to sunny Florida a year ago, it was incredible the stuff I’d deemed so valuable that we paid money to move it 1,000 miles.  Since our move and settling into our home, we have had Salvation Army come out twice with their big truck to haul away many boxes, Christmas train sets, set it and forget rotisserie oven, faux ficus trees, brick-a-brack, clothing, china, etc.  In addition to that, we’ve taken bag after bag to Goodwill almost weekly for the past year as we continue to sort through boxes.  Incredible the volume one collects over the years!

So, I’ve been forced to handle every item and evaluate.  I can only imagine the challenge for those who’ve lived in the same house for twenty plus years and how quickly things can get out of control.  Tastes in decor and furnishings change, fads come and go, the kids outgrow toys and clothes, hobbies move on, etc.  And if you have an issue with excessive shopping, especially as a means of therapy; well, then, all bets are off!

What is one to do when our “stuff” overwhelms us?

I think it’s easy to become completely overwhelmed if the chaos fills your entire home.  I would strongly suggest enlisting the help of a good friend or family member who can help you evaluate things and offer perspective.

When sorting through a room/box/dresser, I always ask myself three questions:

1.) Have I used it in the last year?

2.) Am I currently using it?

3.) Will I likely use it in the next year?

The task of letting things go can be so difficult.  Even a “Type A” like myself has found it hard putting some items in the donation box because it may have sentimental value or because it once cost a good bit of money.  The consequence of holding onto these items that we are no longer using and serve no purpose is that they seem to multiply and therefore occupy mental space as well.  They bog us down and we are hindered from letting our creative juices flow and general happiness from a tidy room.  They are “non-value added items”.  Now, I am not suggesting in any way, getting rid of all sentimental things or counting your household goods, etc.  But, I am offering a method to consider applying to our excess, which seems to be an epidemic.

I recently read a statistic that said 10% of Americans rent a storage unit outside their home!  Wow!  That’s staggering and in my humble opinion, a huge waste of money.  If we do not have room to house said item, then maybe we don’t need it.  I understand there are causes for short term leasing, such as military personnel, etc.  But, we’re talking long term here.  Why do we have so much stuff?

I often tell my kids that when I was their age, we didn’t have Walmart to run to for whatever item we thought we needed at that split second. There were grocery stores, hardware stores, department stores, etc.  And things were pretty expensive so we did not often get new things outside of Christmas, birthdays and the beginning of a new school year.  This must be a foreign concept to them as now we even have the all-too-tempting Amazon and internet shopping in general.

The stuff is so entirely accessible.  Add to that the “in your face” marketing that envelopes our society and there seems to be no escape!

On the flip side of consumerism, we have this new trend of minimalism.  Interesting.  While I think there are merits to this idea, I personally do not think it is for me.  But, I do wholeheartedly agree with keeping our “stuff” to a minimum but in a more balanced way.  For instance, I don’t feel like our family needs seven bottles of shampoo and conditioner, nor do I feel the need to count our toiletries.  I don’t believe we need three sets of everyday dishes, nor do I feel like we should count our plates and bowls.  To every area of life, there should be balance.  So how do we achieve this balance with our stuff?

I would say that we have to nip it in the bud.  Deeply evaluate items before we purchase them.  Do I really need this?  Do I already have something that could work just as well? Do I need “another” one?  Will it add value to my life?

It seems that once an item enters our homes, it takes up permanent residence and eventually reaches the point of excess.  I like the “one in – one out” idea.  If you purchase one item.  You put one in the donation box.  Simple idea but effective.

And now to address our current glut of stuff…

I love the old adage – “How do we eat an elephant?”

One bite at a time, right?

That is my suggestion in this regard as well.  Forget that the entire house may look like a tornado came through last night.  Forget that it’s been years since you’ve done anything with the basement or storage room.  Forget the cobwebs, the dust bunnies, the space invaders that have taken over your house!  Forget them all.

Today is a new day, my friend!

Writing things down has always proven effective for me when tackling tasks, especially undesirable tasks.  Make a list.

I would start your war plan with the rooms your family utilizes the most frequently.  This would be the kitchen, the family room, the living room, etc.

Outline the major tasks that require attention in each room.  Checking tasks off a list yields tremendous satisfaction and is very rewarding.  It propels us naturally to the next item.

Enlist the help of all the troops!  Even the smallest of soldiers can lend a hand.

One of the most common reasons for accumulation of things is that they do not have a home … OR … the soldiers did not take the extra steps necessary to take said item to its trusty home.

“A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Taking a room by room approach will inspire you to continue your war path to the other affected areas.  It doesn’t matter how long this takes.  The point is that progress is being made.

“Begun is half done.”

I think the greatest purging/organizing/cleaning tool is your attitude, frankly.

“Attitude determines altitude.”

If you have a sloppy, couldn’t care less attitude, then your home will reflect that.  If you are disciplined and focused, your home will reflect that also.

“Input yields output.”

Put on some happy music.  Whatever that is to you.  Sometimes I prefer classical, sometimes contemporary Christian music, sometimes easy listening.  Depends on my mood, I guess.  Whatever will inspire you and bring happy feelings, put it on.  Music has an amazing ability to carry us away from our present tasks (mundane as they may be) and take us to a joyful place in our soul.

Give yourself a pat on the back during each step of your progress.  You deserve it.  As long as your feet keep moving in a positive direction, you are one step closer to the environment that you desire.

Just think of the joy you could bring to someone less fortunate as you place unwanted items in the donation box.  And, next time you feel the urge to place that Amazon order or hit the mall, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a war plan to develop regarding the glut in our garage.

 

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My Recent ER Visit

I had my Land’s End red, flannel pajamas on and had settled in for a long winter’s night. My blue eyes had been asleep for about an hour and woke up as my husband was brushing his teeth, preparing to go to bed himself.

A gnawing pain in my abdomen grabbed my attention, along with the fact that I was now shivering uncontrollably.  And it wasn’t because I was cold.  It seemed my body was really going through something.  I wrestled within myself as to whether or not I should go to the emergency room.  I really didn’t want to go.  However, my then 17 year old daughter just had an appendectomy last year and I was worried it may be my appendix!

My husband discarded his green and blue plaid, flannel pajamas for jeans and we proceeded to the hospital at 12:30 a.m.  I had to literally hold my jaw closed on the ride there just so my teeth wouldn’t keep chattering.  I had never had anything like this to happen before.  I’m the healthy one.  I generally don’t get sick.  Mom has to stay strong for the rest of the bunch, right?

Fortunately, once I completed the necessary registration paperwork, the nurse called me back to triage.  It was pretty miraculous that the waiting room was completely empty!  From there, once she took my vitals, she got me situated in a room in the ER.  She had me change into the hospital gown, which, by the way, is entirely frustrating to wrestle with!  Upon shifting in the bed, this gown literally could choke you.  I pondered a better design…maybe an elastic neckline?  After all, the patient is already encumbered by a plastic tube in their arm, otherwise known as an i.v.

The cheery nurse brought me morphine for the pain and a medication for the nausea. Interestingly enough, despite the morphine, I could still feel the pain.

My poor husband was restlessly attempting to nap on two, hard chairs beside my bed in the midst of all the circus.  I don’t know if he ever got more than two winks.  He was up all night and still went to work!  I felt so bad for him and prayed for strength.

It took a couple hours before the doctor came in and then more waiting for my blood work to come back.  Depending on the results, she would order an MRI if it was my gallbladder or a CT Scan if it was my appendix.  I was also feeling nauseated, so I think everyone concluded it was likely my appendix.  I even was preparing myself mentally for the possibility of having emergency surgery.

Around 4 a.m. the male tech wheeled me down to radiology to have a CT Scan.  The nice tech noted that we shared the same birthday.  He injected a dye in my i.v. for the scan and I forgot the odd sensation one receives along with that.  Glad when it was over.

Well, we finally got the news from the doctor that it was, in fact, not my appendix.  Everything looked fine.  For a split second, I felt a little silly there, laying on the hospital gurney, having abdominal pain for nothing.  Until the doctor explained…

There were some “incidental” things noted on the CT Scan.  For one, apparently I possess a “fatty liver”.  I thought there must be some mistake.  I don’t drink, never have.  It’s called “Non-alcoholic fatty liver” and from what I’ve subsequently read, 1 in 4 Americans have it.  They likely just don’t know.  It’s when more than 5-10% of your liver is fatty.  The heartening news is that it is completely reversible through proper diet, lots of vegetables.  But it can take over three years to rehabilitate.  Untreated, it can lead to sclerosis of the liver, which can lead to liver failure.  Well, that’s good news in the wee hours of the morning, isn’t it?

I thought I was having appendicitis… But, wait, there’s more …

I also have Diverticulosis, small holes in my colon.  If those holes become infected, then it becomes Diverticulitis.  Both, not good.  But, with a proper diet, can be treated.  Well, looks like a more stringent diet is on my horizon…  But, wait, there’s still more for this 45 year old body…

Gee, apparently, I’m not as healthy as I thought!  Ironically, despite the fact that I am overweight, I eat very healthy.  Probably the most healthy I ever have.  My now 18 year old daughter preaches, lives and breathes healthy living to all of us.  How can I not?  No, the truth is, because I lost my Mom to breast cancer when I was 23, I have been on a quest for optimum health ever since.  But, I digress…

So, the third bit of good news this ER doctor shared was that I have a sizable fibroid tumor.  Upon further research online, this explains so many other symptoms I’ve been experiencing, but I had no idea.

So, I have three doctor’s appointments scheduled for next week: the G.I. Dr., my primary care physician and the GYN.  I’m looking forward to having many questions answered.

My husband and two children have been wonderful, taking care of me as I try to rest in bed.  Even my daughter, who has POTS, has made hot tea for me and brought me snacks when she’s up to it.  Today is not a good day for her, so hubby and my son are filling in.

Now that I’ve given hubby instructions on how to operate the dishwasher, he loads and our son unloads.  Last night, the kids collaborated on dinner.  Part of the time I heard fussing and the other part was mutual laughter.  It’s always interesting how things come together when mom is out of commission.  I call them kids but they are 16 and 18.  I’m thankful they both know their way around the kitchen very well and are very kind and thoughtful.

I’m so thankful for my family, for good health care, for our home and for the hope that I have in God.  The hope that He is with me every step of the way, even if that includes upcoming surgery.  He is a God who walks beside me and that gives me great comfort.  I also know that He is working ALL things together for my good and His glory!  I will not fear the future, but will rest in knowing that God is already there, for He transcends all time and space.  Nothing catches Him by surprise.  And all my days are planned by Him.

 

 

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P.O.T.S. & Our Struggle

You may ask, “What is POTS?”  It’s an acronym for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a disorder of the autonomic nervous system.  This medical term was coined in 1993, however has been around for hundreds of years under other names.

Our world changed last August when our daughter, Sarah, (17 at the time) began experiencing seemingly random, debilitating symptoms.  Her symptoms began as daily migraines, feeling like she’d pass out, severe fatigue, sleep disturbances, joint pain, muscle twitches and g.i. issues.  They have now evolved into cardiac symptoms, such as heart palpitations and heart racing even when at rest, brain fog, memory issues, slower speech and being primarily home bound.

Before I go any further, let me back up the train to state what I think were contributing factors to our daughter contracting POTS.  If you’ve read my blog, you may recall our family was hit by a drunk driver back in May 2014.  We were involved in a traumatic 4 car accident at a red light and rear ended at about 70 mph.  We all endured four months of physical therapy subsequently.

Sarah had an appendectomy in February 2015 and then had all four wisdom teeth extracted in August 2015.  We also moved five states away and Sarah was under pressure to perform well on her ACT test.  It has been said that surgery and major stress on the body can be triggers.  I definitely believe this to be true.

She’d been seeing her primary care doctor regularly post appendectomy, primarily to address her raised white blood cell counts, who referred us to a hematologist to further investigate.  We saw the hematologist a number of times, who referred us to a neurologist concerning Sarah’s massive headaches.  During this time, she was tested for Leukemia, Lymphoma and other markers in the blood that may indicate disease.  I cannot tell you the intense stress our family endured waiting for the blood results when a hematologist is concerned about potentially deadly diseases for your child.  Our stress level was off the charts.  We are strong believers in God’s healing power and the fact that He walks beside us, but our faith was greatly tested and tried during these hours.  It wouldn’t be the last time either.

Praise the Lord, those tests came back negative!!  While we were greatly relieved, it still remained a mystery as to why Sarah’s white blood cell counts and lymphocytes were elevated beyond a normal range.  Our hearts and prayers go out to the parents whose children are battling cancer and other diseases.  It is the worst feeling in the world for your child to be sick and you can’t do anything to make him/her better.  But pray.  And pray we did.  Sarah is on so many prayer lists at so many churches.  Our friends and family have remained faithful in prayer on her behalf and for that, we are ever grateful.  We are convinced that it is due to their prayers that we were sustained during the darkest of hours.

In September 2015, the neurologist diagnosed Sarah with POTS and prescribed Florinef.  As with any new diagnosis, we were overwhelmed with questions.  So, we studied.  Between Sarah and I, I’m pretty sure we could write a small book.  Sarah is a bright girl and curious by nature, so she immersed herself in articles online.

The Florinef helped a great deal in the beginning, but by November and December, Sarah’s symptoms were worsening by the day it seemed.   I felt like I’d lost my baby girl.  Sarah turned 18 in November and could hardly make it out of bed for dinner.  This was our new reality.

She would have begun attending the community college in September 2015 but was not well enough to do so.  She wants to become a nurse, which I think suits her personality and gifts very well.  We’re looking forward to the day she can begin classes.

We switched primary care doctors after we received news that her former doctor was no longer participating with any insurance.  She saw the new PC in early November, who referred us to a GI doctor for her stomach issues as well as a cardiologist for the racing heart symptoms.  By now, our heads are just spinning because we’ve seen more doctors in 2015 than imaginable!

We saw the GI doctor who recommended a colonoscopy and upper endoscopy, so she had that done at the end of November.  The results were very good.

Side note:  Sarah eats a very clean diet and is very disciplined.  She’ll be the first to say not to applaud her too much on that note because she does so more so out of necessity than discipline.  She knows what upsets her stomach and which foods sit well and has learned over the years to adjust accordingly.  Sarah primarily drinks water and occasionally herbal tea.

We finally saw the cardiologist (took a while to get in with this pediatric cardiologist) last week.  I finally feel like we are on a good path!!  Praise the Lord for that!  Because Sarah’s symptoms revolve greatly around the tachycardia, I believe the cardiologist is in the best position to treat her at the moment.  He prescribed Atenolol (which, ironically, my father also takes…for other reasons, of course) to regulate her heart and after being on that for 6 days now, I have to say, it has helped greatly!  She is able to get out of the bed more and I feel like we’re getting our Sarah back.  It isn’t a miracle drug, however.  She still feels the extreme fatigue and other symptoms, but it has helped the tachycardia (rapid heart rate).

Sarah is still unable to do much of anything, aside from lay around and fix her meals.  Part of the treatment for POTS is to increase salt intake and water consumption.  So, she does that.  Even prior to the diagnosis, she drank a lot of water.  She drinks probably 2-3 times the amount she used to.  The reason for the larger salt intake is it helps to increase blood volume and blood pressure, which aids in treating the symptoms.  The underlying issue with POTS is lack of blood flow, which is why she often feels like she will pass out.  (lack of blood flow to the brain)  This is also why she feels so poorly after eating.  Apparently, after you eat, your system is hard at work digesting and diverts extra blood flow to the digestive system.  This is terrible for POTS patients as they need all the blood flow they can get under normal circumstances.  Sarah would have to promptly lay down after eating and fight not to pass out.  As if the symptoms could not worsen, a woman’s monthly cycle exacerbates  the situation.  Again, it all goes back to blood flow and its affects on the entire body.

Because POTS is a disease of the autonomic nervous system, it affects all the body’s systems one cannot control, such as: sleep, heart rate, digestion, respiratory, etc.  In the beginning, we questioned how Sarah could be experiencing the myriad of symptoms she was.  I must admit, I often thought she was a hypochondriac and we tired of hearing about all of her woes.  What a blessing it was to receive the diagnosis, so then we could work toward treatment and hopefully her full recovery one day.  We have heard that others with this illness go undiagnosed for years and that is heartbreaking.

Where are we now?

The cardiologist referred Sarah for physical therapy, which was a godsend!  Physical exercise is very useful.  Strengthening of abdominal and leg muscles is beneficial to the POTS patient because it helps the body effectively and efficiently pump blood upward toward the brain.

Sarah begins meeting with a sports therapist this week and we will keep you posted.  Sadly, she strained her wrist while exercising last week and has it wrapped in an ace bandage, applies Arnicare gel regularly and soaks it in Epsom salt.  Hopefully, she’ll be okay to do the therapy.

One of Sarah’s POTS’ symptoms is “exercise intolerance” and that means that if she exercises, it can wipe her out for days afterward.  It’s awful.  Even a short walk exhausts her for days.  So, the idea with the therapy is to build her tolerance slowly.

I plan on writing further about POTS and how Sarah is doing, so check back for updates if you’d like.  Do you know anyone with POTS?  They say over 500,000 Americans have it.  Not sure how accurate that really is since often it goes undiagnosed.  Many doctors have no clue as to what it is.  How can one expect a diagnosis if they have no knowledge of it?

We covet your prayers for Sarah – that the Lord will touch her body and restore her health.

We know God has great, big plans for her!

 

{Medical Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor.  I don’t even play one on t.v.  I am a mom.  A very loving and dedicated one at that.  The information contained in this blog and any other article on my page are based on our experiences, what we’ve read and our opinions or understanding of POTS.  Please consult a licensed physician for advice and conduct extensive research on your own.}

 

 

 

 

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