Monday, September 30, 2013

Seeing With New Eyes

The other day my daughter made a new friend. She's a few years younger than my daughter, but they get along great, and played the entire day through. My daughter invited her to church, and this little girl got very, very excited!"I'm tired of babysitting my brother- I wanna go see God!"

I couldn't help but chuckle at her enthusiasm. I know part of it was she was getting out of babysitting duty, but there was a genuine excitement about going to go see God. And here I am, wondering sleepily about what we'll do after service was over.
Where was the excitement? The joy? The happiness that we were all 'going to go see God'? When did going to church stop being fun and more like an obligation? I wanted to see through her eyes!

I know I'm not the only one to feel this way...right?

So my prayer for me (and those like me) would be- 'Lord, please break my heart and let Your joy shine in so much that I am like a kid at Disneyland when Sunday comes around!' 

We told her what time we were leaving, and that we would pick her up- after asking her mother for permission.

Sunday came and we went to her house- but she was still asleep. My daughter was disappointed, but we told her that she can invite her friend again next week- at least until my husband saw her riding her bike past the church an hour later! He told her she could still come, and she raced home to change, and even brought her sleepover guest with her! My daughter was so happy to see them coming through the door I thought she would burst.

They stayed through the entire service and said they wanted to come back next week. Her mother was out the entire day, so we kept an eye on her (and her other friend) and let them play at the house for the rest of the day. They had never experienced a fire-pit cookout, so we broke out the hot dogs and fire-pit forks and had them over for dinner. We had a blast!

It was fun to see these girls experience new things, taking joy in all of it. I want to see more through their eyes- and I wonder if God does the same with us when we take joy in His work!

Take a look around and try to see everything with new eyes- it might just bless you in unexpected ways!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Flesh Isn't Willing

My body is plotting against me.

I look in the mirror twice now, because parts of me don't fit in there anymore.
I have to catch my breath when I blink too much.
That platinum blond hair is multiplying, looking an awful lot like a grey blaze on my head.
When I move things either hurt or make sounds like bubble wrap.
I can only see words five miles ahead of me if I'm driving, or twenty feet ahead of me if I'm reading.

The Spirit might be willing, but the flesh wants a nap. The Spirit keeps poking me to let me know I have things to do.

I'm fighting an epic war between my body and my spirit. The body has ways of prolonging getting to work, like the bathroom (again?), allergies that blur vision and fuzz up the mind, fat to make gravity a stronger force, and a mind that loves to be distracted by Facebook and computer games.

My spirit knows I have work to do, and does it's best to get me motivated, sometimes by dangling something shiny in front of me to get my attention. 'You can take a guilt-free nap after you're done!' it says in a persuasive tone, or 'When you get this finished, you can go on Facebook!'

Once it tried to tell me 'You'll get a great sense of accomplishment when this is done!' but I ignored it- the spirit learned that bribery works- at least in my case. 

The flesh is definitely not willing- unless chocolate is involved. Of course I'll have more gravity to deal with later on if I waddle down this road too often! Most of my bribes are spent killing off brain cells on the computer. 

One day the Spirit will win the war. On occasion, I even hope it'll win. Until then, the Spirit has a lot of nice shiny things to make me keep the house running and family fed. 

And yes, even make a blog post!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Which Way Do I Go?

Life choices are worse than driving with my husband. 

When I'm driving, he's the wing-man- he tells me where to go because I have no concept of where we are. He, however, knows his exact location at all times, which drives me crazy.

But this time all he can do is suggest where to go, because this decision has to be my own. Why? Because I'm at a crossroads in my life and need to figure out where I am on the stupid map.

Think of it as a big sign at a crossroads. It has all kinds of arrows pointing to new places, but you just can't decide which way you want to go. I'm sure you have one of these too!

Writer, speaker, humorist, comedian...all these as well as mom, wife, and domicile technician. Years ago I asked what God wanted me to do and He answered, but now I'm wondering if I should ask again- not for confirmation of what was asked, but because the choices have now changed.

The original request was this: 'If You want me to be a writer, please show me a cardinal (the bird, not the religious guy). If You want me to start a sewing business, please show me a blue jay. If You want me to do some thing other than these, please show me a white dove.' Two days later God showed me a cardinal. So I wrote. A lot.

Now I have more questions because writing is not the only direction I'm being lead. It was suggested to me by many (by both professionals and friends) that I do a series of YouTube videos or stand-up comedy. Stand-up is something that I've always thought would be fun, but I know better. That is not a job for an at-home mom, unless she stays local- and I want to reach millions. I'd like to do what Chonda Peirce and Ken Davis do. And Mark Lowry- I'd like to be his little sister!

I think me and The Big Guy need to have another chat.

My second rejection from an agent was also one of the best- she said if I wanted to write better humor, get a humor coach- I need a better way to get my personality onto the page- either that or do stand-up.

I understood what she meant when she said 'stand-up'- Stand up in front of people and let that personality of yours shine. But I don't want to do a series of one-liners and jokes- I also want to teach people and show them that if God loves a screw-up like me, He can love you too- and missing teeth is sexy. 

Not sure if the latter can be accomplished, but I can definitely do the former!

Now if I only knew what sign to follow....

Do you have a crossroads sign? What is yours showing you? Go on and tap God on the shoulder and ask Him where to go- He likes that. Probably better than my husband does when I'm driving (but not by much)!

Monday, September 9, 2013

His First Healiversary!

It's hard to believe a year has passed since my husband's accident. I never did tell you the full story.

Last year on the ill-fated anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, my husband was working with a chemical called caustic soda or sodium hydroxide- otherwise known as lye- but in it's almost pure state. He had been working overtime for weeks, and was physically and mentally worn out. A fact that came to light only when he had gotten distracted and mixed the chemical with the hot water instead of the cold.
In cold water, the chemical heats the water to near boiling- but when added to hot, it becomes super-heated and vulcanizes...which means the temperature shoots to over four-hundred degrees and spouts up like a rocket. Luckily my husband had the forethought to use the bucket in his hands to deflect most of the chemical from his chest, throat and face, but enough still shot up to hit the twelve-foot ceiling and rain down into his hair and scalp and into his eyes. The bulk of the spray splashed onto his thighs, belly and forearms.

Thanks to a crack team of co-workers, he was shoved under a spray of water and stripped down so his clothing wouldn't melt onto him. Ironically, my husband was giving directions through it all, telling them where to spray and what to do until help arrived.
The EMT's came within five minutes, dousing him with eye wash, and getting him ready for the best burn center in the country- that just happened to be less than five minutes away. Within thirty minutes of the accident, he was bandaged from head to foot and medicated within an inch of his life.

That's about when I received the phone call.

He had been in work less than two hours, and I had just sent the kids to school. His co-worker (and cousin) came to get me. I'd called everyone I knew to pray for him before I sped off to the burn unit.

Those who know me know I tend to think of the worst possible situation first, to ready myself just in case. it's a comfort for me to do this really, because it prepares me beforehand so I'm not shell-shocked when the news comes. I knew if I imagined the worst, anything better than that is a good thing. It's much better (at least in my twisted little mind) than thinking everything will be okay and seeing that it really, really isn't.

By the time we got to the hospital (and I was assured he would live), I had visions of my husband looking something like a Mummy and a Zombie. A Zumbie. Anything better than that and I would be a happy camper. He was going to live and that's all that mattered.

When I entered into his room, I could not see anything but bandages from his toes to his nose. He had special lenses that kept his eyes closed and rinsed his eyes constantly. I could see fingertips but not much else. He wasn't a zumbie- he was a great big Q-tip.

And by day two he was a pumpkinhead. Second and third degree burns on thirty-five percent of his body tends to make a guy swell up some. At this point they weren't sure about his vision (or loss thereof), and he would definitely need a set of skin grafts. Maybe two.
The problem was that the areas they usually take from (the front of the thighs and the belly) were gone. Both thighs, belly and both forearms needed to be covered with new skin, and the only large enough surface skin left was on the side of his thighs.

He told me later it was like getting rug burn times a hundred, and hurt worse after the skin grafts were done, because no skin meant no nerve endings.

They had the eye wash lenses in for thirty-six hours.
They had the grafts done, then had to staple pig skin on top of that.
He needed to bathe daily and get a bandage change twice daily.
He was in the hospital for eighteen days.

We went home with two bags of medical supplies, medications, and salves. He was home for a month, with me wrapping his wounds twice a day, washing him and wrapping him in sheets at night. They even gave me my very own staple remover, because I did a better job removing them than the doctors did! 

He was back to work on light duty a month and a half after the accident. Then the real healing began.

My husband's vision wasn't the best before all this- 550/20 and 650/20. The big concern was that his vision had worsened. Test after test was done and every time they tried on his old lenses, he just could not see well in his left eye. In fact, his vision was worse when he put them on. 

When the eye specialist left the room, my husband looked at the eye chart out of curiosity. He was surprised that when he covered his right eye, he could actually read the letters. He could never read the letters without help before.

He called in the doctor and told him what happened.

The doctor gave him a new set of tests, as if he was a first-time patient. Then he looked at my husband's chart, then at the new test results. His vision had improved. A lot. And with each visit, both eyes kept improving. By the time six months had passed, the vision in his right eye had improved to 525/20. 

His left eye? 20/10. Perfect vision. 

It's not even a year since his accident, and the burn doctors have released him. He still has a little healing to do, but the scarring is minimal. None of the docs can explain why he healed so fast, and how he remained so positive throughout the entire ordeal.

But we know. God was with us through everything. My husband's faith in God kept a smile on his face, and hope in his heart- and no matter what happened, God was going to get him through it.

Happy Healiversary, Sweetheart!

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Good Hate

In most circumstances, hate isn't a good thing. But on occasion, hate can help you make changes in your life- as well as help those around you.

How? Let me tell you about my most recent adventure.

My family and I went for an overnight visit to a writing friend of mine. We had a blast playing cards and chatting with them while the kids played and played and played. My husband and I did all the cooking in exchange for beds for the night, so we brought a carload of fresh ingredients and made meals for all ten of us, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We ate like kings, and made enough leftovers to fill their freezer.

Life was good until I heard the words 'Let's go for a little hike'. My heart sank.

They live near the mountains, and having been on a hike called the Appalachian trail before with my own family (years ago when I was really stupid), I knew what 'going on a hike' meant- it meant I was going to hold everyone back, or be walking the trail by myself.

In the entire group of ten, I was the only one who was overweight. I didn't like being fat, but I was content as long as I had a sturdy chair under me and didn't have to move a lot. Everyone wanted to go, so off I went, already embarrassed and a bit angry because I knew what was going to happen.

Understand that I wasn't angry at my friends or family, I was angry at myself for being fat. I could have done something months ago, but my complacency mired me in my own muck- and now I was paying the price.

We started up the trail and already the guys were making a beeline for the next rise. My friend was pushing her toddler in a walking stroller, and wasn't even breaking a sweat as we made our way up.

Now my friend is a pretty classy chick, because she didn't complain about all of the others leaving us behind (yes, I said us). I knew she could keep up with them, but she held back and walked (and occasionally stopped) at my pace. 

She could have tried to coax me to go faster. She could have huffed and puffed because we were going so slow, or became impatient when I had to stop to nurse a hip beginning to suffer from bursitis (also in part because I was too danged heavy). What did she do instead? She admired the forest, thanking me for allowing her to slow down and enjoy the trail in a new light. 

And when we stopped so I could rest, she let her little one out to explore a pretty flower or a passing butterfly.

What amazed me is that she really was enjoying herself. She wasn't just being polite!

The hate I held in my heart could have easily turned to self-hate. I'm so very good at self-hate! I still felt horrible about holding her back, but the energy I put into the hate began to change. The hate turned to a hate for my sin, and not for me. Oh, I'm still not thrilled with myself (not by a longshot!), but the fire in my heart was becoming a fire for change.

I contemplated this on the drive home. I started thinking about ways I could make small changes, while setting goals for bigger ones. I also thought of ways we could do more active things as a family. But first I had to change me- and my attitude about myself.

I'm a sinner- other than that I'm just about perfect (not to mention modest)! 

And if the hate is a good hate, it will help me make better life choices because I hate the sin, not the sinner!