29 August 2011

Thinking of a New Theme

This morning I had to sit and and fill out multiple forms for my disability insurance. It's physically painful to sit and write, especially long hand. What was more painful was listing all the things I have lost the ability to do. Adapting to your circumstances and finding solutions to the problems of not being able to do what you used to do is important for your mental well being. I can't make the vertebrae in my neck healthy again. I can't make my sciatic nerve happy or the arthritis go away. I can manage what I do and how I do it. I want to be able to contribute to live and society and have to learn how to do that within my physical limitations. I have to learn to adapt my house to be manageable within my physical limitations.

I think I am going to start blogging about those tricks I am learning and hope to hear from others who have learned some simple adaptations that have helped them manage their lives. It would be nice to have a place to trade those secrets. If someone knows of a place that has already done this, I am not about re-inventing the wheel, let me know. If not I am really going to give doing this some thought.


16 August 2011

Kindling

The day before yesterday I reached down to grab my roomie's study bible and completely destroyed the uneasy truce I had with the pinched nerves in my neck. Zowie! I had electric shocks go all the way down one side of my body and instant muscle spasms. She and I were the only ones that knew that had happened.

Yesterday I got a call from Sue, the secretary at my church, and she told me that someone had made an anonymous gift to me and that I would love it. I had been talking myself out of going downtown to run errands but found the idea of someone giving me an anonymous gift way too intriguing. I went down and presented my perplexed and anticipatory self to Sue. Sue had a big grin on her face and handed me a bag which contained a Kindle. I was dumbstruck.

I have been contemplating getting a Kindle since they first came out. I kept telling myself to set aside some funds to make the purchase. My funds, like those of most in this economy, seem to be shrinking daily. Each time I had the money I couldn't justify spending it on something frivolous. Especially with all the doctor's bills I have and more coming down the pike. I am not complaining about them, just saying I have specialist schedule and know that even with insurance, I am going to be spending more money as we try to figure out why I am exhausted and having so much trouble. Determining what's wrong with me is a priority. I need to return to some sort of life. I am desperate to be a contributing part of the fellowship of Christ.

My reasons for wanting an e-reader had nothing to do with being a techno-craving consumer. Long before the gravitational assault I had at home that finished off my neck and back, even before I was rear ended by the young woman who was texting instead of driving, I lost 38.75% of the use of my hands by ignoring the carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms I had for years. Holding anything in my hands for more than a few seconds is chancy; I drop, spill and break things all the time. Holding anything requiring me to use thumb pressure to keep it in place is agonizing. Books generally require exactly the sort of handling finesse that causes me pain. I am an avid reader. I also avoid pain at all cost. You can see now why I thought having an e-reader of some sort would be advantageous for my reading abilities, right? Between the bi-lateral carpal tunnel, 3 bulging disks, bone spurs and arthritis in my neck all causing pain and numbness in my hands and arms, my reading appetite has plummeted. I have missed it.

So there I am standing in church with what had to be a stupid look on my face, staring at a smiling Sue. "I am dazzled, Sue. I don't know what to say." Sue laughed at me. My pastor, Bill, came into the office wondering what was going on. Being the godly man he is he first told me that he had given the gift to me. "I gave it to you! What is it?" I pulled the Kindle box out of the bag. "It's nicer than mine, I meant to say it was mine!" I looked at Sue and said, "Look at him, he's trying to steal the blessing of the folks that gave this to me and my blessing! Tell my anonymous benefactor(s) that this (my pastor's reaction) is almost as precious as receiving the Kindle!" Seriously though, my pastor was as excited for me as he could be and helped me set it up and gave me the list of must haves and freebies he recommends.

My BFF/roomie asked me when I came home what it was that I had received. I told her it was a Kindle and she smiled. Now, I wouldn't put it past her to buy me something as extravagant but I doubt she would do it anonymously. She said, "Heck no, I would want all the credit." Besides, she is purchasing a home and will need to furnish it. She's counting every penny these days. Her response upon seeing what it was I had been given? "It would seem our God has written your name correctly in the palm of His hand"

I am still blown away. I find it extremely endearing that someone thought of me in a kind way. Add their being so generous to that and you have to add completely amazed to my reaction. I hope that he/she/they are receiving in blessings in triplicate for their part in this. I am very grateful to him/her/them.


10 August 2011

Ambush Predators

Suddenly I find myself worthless. I was pretty much minding my own business, running some errands and without an ounce of warning the thought popped into my head that I am worthless and I can't shake the idea. The damned thing pounced on me as stealthily as any prowling mountain lion. I didn't see it coming. Some folks get to have brilliant thoughts. Mine are ambush predators. Tapes that play over and over in my head, coiling themselves tighter and tighter. Each time I try to take in a breath of hope, they constrict.

What is it about me. Do I seem to be the weakest of the herd? Do my thoughts turn on me because they see me as an easy target? Am I bent on self destruction? It seems if the right button is pushed I begin going through the index system of experience to find proof they are valid. I must be worthless. Abandoned as a child, unmarried, unloved, unwanted. Those certainly prove I am not worth having around. What have I accomplished? Nothing. What will I accomplish? A whole lot of nothing. What can I do to change that? Nothing. Self-pity breeding unchecked steals my want to. I don't want to hope. I don't want to believe that I am right and I don't want to believe that I am wrong. I hear every cutting criticism ever spoken to me. I feel every cutting remark. My soul bruises with opinions that don't match mine.

As quickly as the assault got started, the thoughts are gone. What did it mean? Do I think too highly of myself? Is my theology distorted? What is the purpose of feeling those moments of despair? Can they be meant to teach me something? Do they only have value if I play with them? If I try them on for size can I return them for a full refund if they don't fit? If they do fit, can I fix them?

Taking every thought captive and being captivated by thought are way different. The later will cause you pain, the former will return you to wholeness again.


06 August 2011

Going Forward is Back There

Ever notice that things tend to go wrong at the worst possible time? My dog never gets sick when I have a few extra bucks in my pocket that aren't spoken for. He gets sick when my check engine light is on, my semi-annual payment for car insurance is due, the bills for the endoscopy I had at the hospital are coming in and my kidlet is unemployed and could use some help with groceries for my ridiculously cute grandson. My take on that phenomenon? Sometimes the worst possible time is ultimately the best timing.

I have mentioned before that I love earthquakes. I love severe weather. I like it when lightning strikes so close by it makes the hair on my head and arms raise slightly. I love it when the rumble of the earth moving wakes me up in the middle of the night. I like to see the rain come down in sheets. I don't like it that people get hurt or lose their property. I am not sadistic. Having lost all I own in a flood I know the feelings of emotional bankruptcy that come with the destruction of every item in your home. You can replace a television but you cannot replace the letters your mom wrote you when you were a kid being raised away from her. Or the ceramic your child made for you in school. No, I don't like disaster part of spectacular natural phenomena. I like knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not in control when the earth is moving or the wind is howling. I cannot direct the lightning bolts to hit a little to the north where they will not disrupt my satellite signal or better yet spare my life. I don't chafe at the authority of the Almighty when these things are happening, I marvel at it the way I should all the time.

As I look back at the big events in my life that were difficult, I am learning to be as amazed by God's power in their timing as I am by how easily He sends the wind or moves the earth below my feet. Who but God could take me from losing my aunt/step-mother, being diagnosed with cancer, losing my father and being laid off from a job I loved, move me across the country and give me a home to own? I couldn't afford to own a home where I lived and worked in California but God could send me across the country and make me an unemployed home-owner. I never thought I would own my own home. It surprises me still. Once I realized it would happen I had great plans for what my life would look like. I didn't much appreciate that my plans for being here were thwarted. I planned to get a job to pay for work on the house to get it just the way I wanted. Jobs were scarce and when I finally got one I was injured and rendered unable to work. Certainly not my idea of a good time. In fact, I am just beginning to get over feeling sorry for myself.

I decided a few weeks ago that I didn't want to end my life as a bitter aging woman who lived holed up in her house. Was I really aspiring to be the cranky woman at the end of the road who yells at kids and refuses to answer her door when the bell rings? It may sound trite but I found myself saying, "If you want something different, you have to do something different." Of course that thought had no sooner been given credibility than the new challenges arrived. More medical problems. Already limited by neck and back pain that require constant monitoring, re-positioning and ameliorating with medication; the new medical challenges are a mystery and come with overwhelming exhaustion. I have been tempted to return to my pity party. What good is a useless old woman like me? What possible contribution can I make to the world..... it would be very easy to return to that old habit. So I've asked God for something different. Not different circumstances but a different way to look at them and maybe something different to look forward to. He answered that prayer by having me look back. Back to all the times He's been faithful and to recall all the ways His timing has been perfect. He has given me an incredible life. One full of circumstances most folks will never see. I have been a spectator, I wouldn't have chosen any of it had I known what was coming. And yet the sum total of all those things have brought me to a place of knowing Him in a way folks living ordinary lives never could. I survived all that occurred back there to bring me here. Considering this I realized that my going forward with confidence and doing something different was dependent on remembering and embracing God's sovereignty in all that happened back there.

I still have my moments of wanting to stomp my foot and shake my fist, but looking back at the tapestry of my life and seeing how He's stitched everything together is enough to stop even a hard core fit-pitcher like me from being arrogant enough to be testy with Him. I am learning to take a deep breath and to consider that maybe, just maybe, all these inconveniences happen at once so I can know that I am helpless to change them. I have no husband to rely on, no ability to rescue myself. I can't orchestrate when my check engine light will go on, but I can hope in the One who is meting out each circumstance. Suddenly the vet bill isn't too large and the check engine light isn't a disaster. It's my opportunity to depend on Him. He's the One who has placed me in Kentucky, a disabled woman with knowledge in disaster management and biblical counseling and has opened up a way for me to use both as a volunteer, able to contribute when my body cooperates and pray for folks when it does not. He's the One who has numbered my breaths and called me to His service. He's the one that will see to it I have a car if I need one. He'll see that my needed house repairs are done. Jesus did not willingly bear my sin so He could toy with me. God always equips all those He calls in time for the job they have to do. Esther can have her royalty, I have my own set of skills, wisdom and experiences to be used for such a time as this.

“For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come, it will not delay." Habakkuk 2:3






01 August 2011

Vexed and Conflicted

I am conflicted in almost every thought I have. Today I thought I would keep track of my contradictory thoughts and write them down here. Yes, this is a random post. Were you expecting profundity from me? Ha!

Today I was in a store and I was annoyed by the lack of service I was receiving. The only words spoken to me by the checkout person as I stood in line, purchasing products that ensure he will be employed I might add, "Thirty-two forty-seven." That's it. That's the sum total of conversation and acknowledgement of my existence. I slid my ATM card through and because it prompted me to press the keys indicated, I didn't have to say a word to the young man. He handed me my receipt and as he was walking away, I think, think he said "Thanks." I couldn't swear to it though. My groceries had been tossed into the plastic bags open and ready to receive them with no more care than the care I employ when I mindlessly toss something into a waste basket.

My first thought? "I hate checkers and cashiers." I don't, but I am sorely vexed by employees that don't realize that I, the customer, am the reason they get paid by the company they complain about as they are talking to their fellow co-workers and ignoring my existence. I know how to act in public. I am not demanding or crabby. I hate that our young people have become so impersonal- thanks no doubt to technology- that they cannot manage the slightest bit of polite small talk. Etiquette and social graces are almost non-existent. I hate that nobody has smacked these young people around and taught them some manners.

Next time, I told myself, I will go through the self-check lanes. I like my own company and if all I am going to get is robotic and machine-like contact from the humans employed by the store, I might as well do the work myself and bag my groceries as if I want to get them home in the same shape I purchased them. Then I am conflicted because I am paying the same amount for my groceries that Jane Doe is paying for hers and at least someone else is doing the bagging. I am pretty much saying that human contact is optional and that stores should become more automated and give less personal service.....which is my complaint in the first place.

OK, so now I am thinking I will be the crazy old lady that demands a conversation from the store employee. I will say outrageous things to get their attention. Perhaps I will find a fascinator just like princess what's-her-name's and wear it like a battle helmet each time I go into public places. That ought to spike a reaction. OK, probably not the reaction I am hoping for. I could probably just say, "Hi! How are you doing today?" and completely discombobulate most of the young people working in stores. I know most of them will roll their eyes at me, ignore me or roll their eyes then ignore me to my face but chat up their friends and coworkers about the wacky woman who comes through their line once I am gone. I would have the benefit of knowing I tried to find life, if not intelligent life behind the counter. Occasionally I will find a gem, though. I am certain of it. Every so often I will find someone who knows that people are not impersonal objects or to be viewed as obsolete keyboards with buttons to push only when you are desperate and need something from them. Those are the treasures I want to find and the gems I want to collect.

Newsflash! The Fed-Ex lady just came to my house. I know she worked for Fed-Ex because of the truck she drove and the uniform she wore. As I finished writing the last paragraph, my dogs alerted me to a stranger at the door. Next, the doorbell rang. I came out of my office to find a woman standing at my door. I shooed the dogs away, opened the storm door and without so much as grunt the woman shoved her inventory machine in my house and expected me to sign on the little line. "Mind telling me what I am receiving and to whom it is addressed?" "Huh?" Good thing I can read and have lots of tenacity. Sigh.