Monday, December 11, 2017

Real Christmas Joys!


Real Christmas Joys
By Beth Brubaker

Santa, sleighs and colors bright,
illuminate the dark of night,
but do not glorify the plight,
of the baby in the shadows.

Oh the glitter- how it shines!
From sparkling gifts and twinkling twine,
distracting us from the Divine-
the toddler in the shadows.

Songs are sung of snowman's tales,
of reindeers' nose and grinchy fails,
but no one hears His love prevails, 
from the child within the shadows.

Fam'lies gather, parties planned,
for feast of food and music grand, 
How can we see the pleading hand,
of the child within the shadows?

Did we forget what god did lose,
He spent His son to pay our dues,
and sent his son as a child imbued,
within a mangers' shadows.

The child when grown to man will give,
His life for us so we may live, 
When we believe and then forgive,
Blessed by the Man in shadows.

The lights, the gifts, lose their array,
inane songs fade when He comes our way,
and we can celebrate the day,
He brought us from the shadows!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

MEH-ry Christmas


I just can't 'Christmas' this year.
It's not a depression thing. It's not a Scrooge thing. It's the simple fact that I just can't physically do the things I love doing this time of year.
And I'm missing it terribly.
I'm usually somewhat ready by now- at least decoration-wise. And I usually have most of my shopping done.
I've not been working for several weeks now, and my odd jobs usually cover the extra costs. We've had years like this before, so I usually get creative and make something for everyone. I'm not remotely recovered enough to do any of my backup plans for gift-giving.
There is nothing like the feeling of giddiness you get when making something for someone else! 
I love real pine trees to decorate. Because we have cats, we usually put the tree on the porch. But my son withdrew from college and is currently a porch resident, so no real tree. We have a little three foot table tree that we decorate with cat-friendly ornaments and put on a side table for Christmas. But no one has time (and I can't lift things yet) to drag it out- at least not yet.
We usually get a Douglas fir- they smell so awesome, and when you rub the needles between your fingers, it smells like tangerines! I love the expression on someone's face when I show someone who has never experienced this. It's really awesome.
This week is usually when I'm in super cookie-baking mode. We have three traditional cookies we make- chocolate chip, sprinkle butter cookies, and monster cookies. Our record is 150 dozen, but I have yet to bake a single one. I miss the home-baked cookie smell, the scented Christmas candles, and the stereo blasting out Christmas music around the entire house. I miss the purposely off-key singing and sporadic funny change in the lyrics when my husband, kids and I are doing a baking day. Especially when Elvis sings 'I'll Be Home For Christmas' and makes the word 'mistletoe' sound so weird, we just HAVE to poke fun at it!
Things have been so chaotic, there isn't even an inkling of Christmas in our house. It feels more like October than December.
I can't lift anything, and I'm not supposed to be moving too much. I've already overdone it too many times that when I do move, I get enough glares that I know better than to move too fast or far. I feel like a tree stump amidst a flurry of bees. So I do what I can, and sit or lay when I must so I don't hurt myself...again.
It so frustrating to want to do stuff and you're not allowed!

I first expressed these feelings in Facebook- I don't normally like to post stuff like this on my blog, but I realize some of you might be feeling the same, and a friend encouraged me to share my thoughts with you. She also shared a blog post that helped me a lot.

Being Still

It's not easy being at rest in the world today. Gadgets and tech in our faces, people constantly bombarding us with needs, and schedules that are filled to the brim with everything but rest and peace. So sometimes God has to step in and remind us to rest and be with Him for a while.

Christmas isn't about all the hullabaloo. Inside I know that. But I still get so caught up in the busyness that I forget why we celebrate Christmas in the first place- to spend time with God. 

We celebrate His son's birth. 
Even most companies close so people can rest and spend time with their families.

So that's what I'm going to do. God gifted me with recovery time, so I'll use it wisely.

I don't need decorations.
I don't even need a tree.
Or presents.

The gift I've been given and supposed to share is time. Something that can't be refunded at the stores.

It's so much more precious that anything in this life we could ever acquire.

So this Christmas season, when no one is here, I'll read, pray, and recover. When they're home, I'll talk, laugh and enjoy my family, friends, and neighbors.

I still miss those traditional things, but now they don't seem as important as they did earlier.

At the beginning of this post, it was a MEH-ry Christmas. But now? It's getting a lot more Merry by the second!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Holiday Recovery

I have a problem that I just can't control.

Those that know me know I love giving to others. I like making things, baking, and the best time of the year for me to do this en masse is during the Christmas holidays. Every year we bake a bazillion cookies (okay, our record is about 150 dozen, not a bazillion, but you get the idea), and other goodies like pies and breads, and we enjoy giving most of them away. My husband even makes this awesome hot fudge for ice cream. 
We blast Christmas songs, singing at the top of our lungs as we move about the kitchen and dining room like a well-buttered machine for at least a week, and when the baking is done, I'm usually the one to create goody baskets for friends, family and other folks that surround us, like teachers, trashmen, and postal workers.



It's a lot of work, but so much fun to see people smile when they get one of our baskets!

This year is different. For many reasons, I can't do the things I normally do for the holidays- and it's driving me crazy!

I'm physically unable to make treats this year. I can't even go shopping! I took one little ride with my husband the other day- I didn't even get out of the van when he went food shopping- and it exhausted me. No shopping by myself, grocery or otherwise, for at least a few more weeks.
Despite the crowds, I love meandering about the stores looking for Christmas gifts. I love the music, the twinkling decorations, and even the cold weather as I shop. I don't fight the crowds- I just allow myself a ton of extra time so the experience is a pleasant one.

But not this year. Bah, humbug!

Note to self- never get major surgery before the holidays!

My husband usually makes and sells pies this time of year for our Christmas fund- but he had to turn down people simply because he's too busy taking care of me and keeping the house in order. He is one tired fella, and all I can do for him is hug him when he sits with me on the couch. Poor guy.

We are hospitality people. We were born to give. And it's irking me that we can't do that this year. It truly breaks my heart! People like us need to give to others, otherwise we're miserable- It's a hospitality thing.

That's why you'll never see conferences for hospitality people, because we'd be too busy trying to help each other run the darn thing; no one would attend the talks! Weird but true.

Let me help you...no...let me help you! To infinity and beyond. Yep, that's us.

Giving is a big part of out holiday, and when we can't give, I'm just not feeling Christmas-ish. So here I sit, wondering how I can get everyone to do Christmas in January instead. I guess that's the control freak in me, always trying to find a loophole to make it work.

But I have no control. God does. And I know He's using moments like this to grow me. 

Ugh. I don't want to be growing- I want to be shopping, and baking, and wrapping, and, and, and....

Maybe He has a point. That's not really what Christmas is about. But I don't need to tell you that- there are tons of articles online concerning 'The Reason for the Season' each year- you don't need me to preach to the choir. But sometimes I get so lost in the giving that I forget why I'm doing all of it in the first place.

So I'll sit and recover. I'll pray. I'll read my Bible. Maybe chat with a friend or two about God and His will for us this next year. Maybe ask my daughter to make me some Christmas cookies.

But most importantly, do a little growing as I heal. 




Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hystericalectomy- The Aftermath

It's done. I'm now sans uterus and a few other lady parts.

It's only been a few days since surgery, but I'm already feeling a hormonal change for the better. Why? Because my imagination has been taken off the leash and allowed to roam wild and free across the countryside- and boy does it feel good!

But there's also a little weirdness too.

I was watching cat videos yesterday when I'd realized I'd just had the human version of spaying. More than spayed actually, since they not only took my parts, they took a few lymph nodes as well.

I don't know what those lymph nodes did, but apparently when my uterus went bad the lymph nodes went along for the ride, and were charged for being an accessory, so out they went. Doctors have scalpels- they don't play. 

It also makes me wonder- Does this surgery make me a female eunuch?

Well, whatever I am now, I'm definitely a much more calm, cool and collected whatever. The brain fog is lifting too!

When the fog lifts entirely, what creative chaos will be under those misty folds? My imagination has been pent up for so long! Will it act like a dog greeting its master for the first time in a year? Will it be like a little kid taken to Disneyworld for the first time and be all over the place wanting everything in sight? Has the imaginational energy been gathering the past few years to form a tsunami of ideas and inspiration when the fog succumbs its tenuous hold?

Dearest heaven- What has this surgery released unto this world? 

My imagination is coming people...Run....RUN!

I can see it trying to break out of the hamster ball that is my mind, waiting for the right moment...Let it begin...Let It BEGIN!!

(thank you memegenerator.net!)

Am I the only one that's concerned here?

I hope it doesn't completely take over until I can sit at a desk for more than an hour. Maybe I should have my husband buy more pens and writing pads just in case. This is going to be one heck of a roller coaster ride!

Oh! Getting back on track here with the hormonal waning, I actually feel chilly for the first time in forever (you just sang that line, didn't you?)- I haven't felt cold in years! 
Of course I feel the cold now when winter is coming. Couldn't they have planned this for spring or summer, when the hot flashes are near combustible proportions?

NOOooooo..of course not.

So here I sit on the mend, everyone making sure I don't overdo it. I expect the hormones will swing like an ever- slowing pendulum, getting more and more steady as the days pass. 

I just hope I stay crazy enough to make people laugh, yet joyful enough to see God's sense of humor in all things!


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Ultimate Tinker

Have you noticed that God is the Ultimate Tinker?



He never throws out the good stuff, and always puts together something new from the usable shards.

He molds us, bends us, and sometime even breaks us- but the stuff He throws away- that we think is an essential part of us- has nothing to do with what He has planned.

He keeps all the broken parts that have potential, and remakes them into something awesome.

Or should I say someone awesome?

Being broken isn't fun. I've heard so many people say (and to be honest, I've quoted this myself) 'God will never give you a burden you can't handle'- and that's a lie! 
He often gives us more than we can handle, because if we can handle our trials on our own, we don't need Him; and being the selfish human beings we are, we'd give ourselves all the credit because we did it all by ourselves. God strengthens us bit by bit to make us stronger, but sometimes He needs to break us in order to see His will- but God only does this when He thinks we're spiritually ready.

When He thinks we're ready, not when we think we're ready. Big difference. Boy, have I messed up that perspective in the past!

When trials come, we're not alone. Oh, sometimes it feels that way, but we're never truly alone. Even if you have no friends or family, God sends strangers in to lend a hand or offer a word of comfort.

If God can make rocks cry out, don't you think He can send you someone in your time of need? Sounds like an easier task than shouting rocks! (Though I admit that would be pretty cool to hear!)

God doesn't want us to handle everything ourselves, He wants us to come to Him for help- but some of us (like me) are just too stubborn to admit it even to ourselves, so God has to do a little breaking to get our attention.

He's gotten my attention a lot recently.

No, I don't like being broken. I don't like that He's trying to take those useless yet precious shards of my sin away from me and make me into something awesome. I don't see the awesome yet- I just see a table full of shards, and I try to salvage as many pieces as I can before God slaps my fingers again.

We are His children, and sometimes we just don't understand we're getting in His way- we just want our stuff and we want it because it's ours. Tinkers can't tinker if the kids keep getting in the way!

Yet here I am still trying to 'help' God by scooping up what He wants to toss away, thinking it's valuable. I interrupt Him by asking why He's adding this or taking away that instead of just watching Him work and learning from Him. 

Sigh.

Maybe you do the same thing as me. Maybe you've been there, done that, and have conquered the urge to help God and have stopped snatching those shiny, discarded shards. 
Just remember that if you're struggling, there's a hand waiting for you to grasp it, and if you've been there, remember to offer a hand to those that aren't up there with you yet. 

And let's both help each other stay out of the Tinker's way!


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Let's Get Cooking!

We've done it.

We've taken the plunge. 
Jumped in with both feet. 
Gone where no sensible couple has gone before.

My husband and I are going to move into YouTube videos. The topic? Cooking.



We paid for a course so we wouldn't be completely lost in the dark chocolate abyss that is YouTube video creation and launches, praying it will literally pay off in the long run.

Personally, I'd love to see these videos go viral so my husband can retire and do what he loves to do- Cooking and expanding his men's ministry. 
As for me? I want to teach people basic cooking skills and eat what he makes!

The idea for the show is to make a series of videos for the month that have a soup, appetizer, or salad, then a main entree, and then a dessert. The fourth video will be bonus material concerning the last three videos (tips on types of foods to use, tips and tricks, types of table set-ups, etc.,) and we'd end with serving a full table of folks the entire meal. 

Two of our working titles are:

Plain and Fancy (a twist to the Amish theme, since most of our foods are based in Amish cooking- he's the fancy chef, and I'm the plain cook)

The Comfort Zone (my original idea for a food truck or cafe)

So far my husband likes the Comfort Zone- I'm on the fence, even though the second one was my idea..lol!

If we plan this right, we can hopefully get all the video we need in a single day and turn it into four separate videos, because until this takes off, we still have full and part-time jobs to do, with not a lot of leftover free time. 

It's not going to be easy, but success rarely ever is- But it's going to be fun!

Anytime our friends come over it's always dinner and a show- My husband and I banter with each other to make everyone laugh- so why not do what we naturally do on video? 

I'm sure you can guess who will be the serious one, and who will be the comic relief...

Let's just say my husband loves some of the quirky ideas I've come up with. But first we have to take the classes!

Since I'll be unable to make any videos until after the holidays (due to surgery), so we'll be taking the classes during that time, and I can start planning and writing video menus and outlines whilst I'm recovering. I've already got some great stuff in store for our first viewers!

And we get to spend time together doing what we both love- cooking and eating! WOOHOO!

The best part of all? We get to have fun teaching other people how to cook real food on a budget, do basic and fancier recipes, and teach people more about the differences concerning processed food, take out, and home cooking. We want to teach the world that, yes, you CAN make real mashed potatoes, and great tasting, low-budget meals for you and your family!

We ask God to bless this endeavor, and for you to enjoy the fruits of our passions. Jumping in with both feet is scary and exciting, and I hope our videos will make the world a better (and tastier) place- I will keep you posted!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Still Waters Run Muddy

Ever get so overwhelmed with life that your mind completely shuts down?

Been there, still doing that.

Honestly, it's a wonder that I still have two brain cells left to breathe, no less function as a human being. I feel like a frozen slug in molasses in January- at the North Pole.

Here are a few things on my mind at the moment:

Son might have to withdraw from college.
Starting a video cooking series with my husband.
Son has a court date coming soon (he's a victim and witness).
Hysterectomy surgery.
Writing a new book.
Ways to sell my other books.
Trying to book work (I do odd jobs) to keep ahead of the bills.

And this is on top of my regular thoughts- is it any wonder my brain wants to take a long nap?

Now people are talking about Christmas- something I don't have time to even blink over.

God is going to have to help me. Again. I'm tired of telling myself  'next year will be better', and hoping for the best. I need God to kick me in the butt and get my mind right. I keep sinking into my bad habits and need to break out of my muddy-minded shell.



The water that is me might look calm and still, but there's a lot of stuff churning under the surface to cloud my thoughts big time. Most times (I hate to admit) my thoughts turn to money. Why? Mainly because I don't have any. If the bank account is down and the bills are due, I go into a panic and try to find creative ways of staying above water.

Lucky enough for me, God gave me friends willing to call me on the carpet when I slip.

I focus a lot on funds, but it's not truly about the money- it's about security. If I won the lottery (that I never played), and received  millions of dollars, do you know what I'd do with most of it after paying off the bills and such?

I'd help people with it.

Big mansions aren't my style. I don't care about sports cars or gold-lined toilet seats or living in Tahiti. I'd allow myself a nice, modest place with a yard, a pool, and a cleaning lady, but that's basically it. The rest of the money would go to help others attain their goals. I don't know what form that help would take, but most of it would not go into a bank and sit there.

Even now when we're hurting, it hurts more that we can't give as much as we want to. We still give what we can (especially if someone is hungry!), but it kills us that we can't do more.

So my mind tries to find ways to do more, so we can make more, so we can help more. Does that make any sense?

Do your thoughts run the same road as mine? You know, the road so cluttered with thoughts that your brain can't run a straight line and has to dodge all of those thought obstacles? 

Maybe we should pray together for clear and steady minds as we wade through the chaos! 

Lord, please help us to stay on the right path. Help us to be people You are thrilled to bless, and give us the wisdom to use those blessings wisely. Clear our hearts, minds, and spirits so we can clearly see the road you've laid out for us. Amen!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Focus Failure

Ever notice yourself getting off-track from your goals without knowing how you did? You had a plan, a schedule, and your eyes were on the ball, but somehow  focus without ever realizing it until things went screwy.

Oh yeah- been there, done that a thousand times with you!

Often the focus isn't on the ball in the first place- or should I say the right ball. Let's take, for instance, the book fair I vendored this weekend. The ball I focused on was money. Definitely the wrong ball- especially since my new puzzle books didn't arrive before the fair. But even if they had come, I was still focused on the wrong ball.

I should have focused on God. He is the Provider, whether I make a ton of money or not. And frankly, that money-ball should have even taken a backseat to a secondary ball- connecting with people. God first, connecting second, and then money. But this juggler got the balls all mixed up, and focused on the wrong one.

And then I dropped the ball.

Financially, it was a loss. The travel time, the gas, the meals...all of it was more than a wash- I actually had less fundage than what I started out with before the trip. I sold a whopping three books. I might have sold more, but the ones they wanted were the puzzle books- which I didn't have.

I could have kept focusing on that, but I forced my eyes from that ball and began to focus on the people.


(This is me and my daughter at the book fair!)

When people visited me, I made them laugh. I showed them the positive aspects of each of the books they were interested in, and they took my flyers and business cards. Even if they didn't it didn't matter- just so long as they left my table with a smile. 

And when there was a lull, I prayed and I thanked God for the opportunity. 

Yes, my focus was the exact opposite of what it should've been, but I wound up focusing on the right ball in the end. And like my visitors leaving with a smile, I finished the fair with the focus that mattered most- my focus on God.

I learned a lot that day- and it had nothing to do with selling books. Thank You Lord for turning my eyes to the right ball!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mama-Bearin'

Hormones are strange things.

They can make us happy, they can make us sad, and they can make us one heck of a crazy Mama Bear- whether you have kids or not.




That's one thing the bible didn't mention in Ecclesiastes 3- a time for Mama-Bearin'. The other one the bible missed was a time to hide from said Bear. 

A happy camper I ain't.

Unexpected hormonal surges turn this semi-mild mannered woman into a raving lunatic, and even I don't know if it will make me turn into a protective Mama Bear or the Hulk hyped up on gamma rays. Being a Momma Bear might sound like a good thing, but the results are much the same as the Big Green Dude. 

The kids have stopped telling me about their days because if someone gave them a hard time, that someone's body might not be found. Ever. No one messes with my kids while I'm immersed in the Hormonal Pool of Doom.
Hot flashes don't help either. They hit like a hammer blow; much like going from an arctic, air-conditioned room to the outdoors during a heat-wave. They didn't used to last long, but now people can grill things over my head or do a little slow-roasted BBQ. I'm okay with that, as long as they give some to me.

When the Mama-Bear waters have ebbed, I'm a pretty nice person. Some who haven't seen me in Bear mode don't believe me. "But you're so nice!" They say. Or, "I can't imagine you acting like that!" They exclaim, doubting my tales. 
But those that have seen the Bear know better. There must be an expression I make, or a threat in the tone of my voice when the Bear waters cometh, because those who love me tend to nervously glance at each other and back away from me slowly- As they should.

I can't say that I like myself in this mode, unless there's someone or something to legitimately fight. My fights tend to be verbal, but because I'm as big as I am, I tend to paint a very intimidating picture. It's not pretty folks, but it does come in handy when there is a real threat. 
Let's just say you don't want to be the one I catch robbing my house in the middle of the night. Or trying to rob my house. You won't. You might even lose a few body parts in the process while trying to vacate the premises as expediently as possible, because 'the Bear don't play'.

Just sayin'.

I wish I had control of it. I pray every day for God to not let me do lasting damage to my family and friends relationships. Hormonal surges are like little bouts of insanity- you go crazy for a little bit, then when things calm down you have to do damage control because everyone is mad at you for something you don't remember saying- or don't want to remember saying. Ugh.

Sometimes I have to close my eyes and repeat "Your will be done Lord, not mine." over and over again until the surges pass. I'm just glad God made me a writer- most Mama-Bear moments happen when I'm home alone, for which I'm eternally grateful. So far no one has found the bite marks on the furniture.

Prayer does help. 

I'm praying the Bear goes into hibernation soon, but I really won't know until after the surgery. If the hormones are still running rampant afterwards, then God is going to be One Busy Guy, because there's going to be a lot of prayers coming from this house- and not just by me.

Can you imagine a wounded Mama Bear recouping from surgery? Egad- where's the chocolate and BBQ?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Changing Gears With God

I used to think life was a crazy triathlon. It's actually more like a polyathlon- because life has changed gears more than three times. Much more.

For me, life is beginning to resemble the tango!

Kids grow up.
Kids go to college.
I find myself looking for the woman I used to be, but I'll never be her again.
I'll be better.

I'll be better because I know more than I used to. Some call that wisdom; I call it experience. Your kids and husband give it to you, whether you like it or not. Just don't tell them I'm wise- they might not think you're talking about the same person.

Now life is changing gears again. Life has become more malleable, allowing me to make choices I could never make before. Or choices I wouldn't allow myself to make.

Like starting my own business.
Starting a ministry.
Helping my husband start his own business.
And help him expand his church ministry.

Yes, I know some people can do these things with babies in their arms, but I'm not one of them. I can multitask with the best, but only when focused on one aspect of life at a time. I just can't do the family/career/missions thing all at once- my head would explode!

Pretty soon I'll have an empty nest, and I don't want to sit there trying to hatch something that's no longer there. I want to hop off the nest, shake my feathers, and go explore the possibilities!

Except for one thing. I've been on the nest for so long, I've forgotten how!

Taking that first step into the unknown has to be the scariest thing on the planet. It was easier when I was a toddler, because I didn't know any better. Stepping into something new was awesome as a kid! As an adult, I have no problem thinking about how everything can go wrong, and though fear shouldn't have a grasp on me, it often holds me back with an iron grip. "What if" can be a very empowering motivator, but at the same time it can also be quite crippling.

But then I remember I'm not by myself in this. God is with me.

He gives me the courage to try something new.
He lifts me up if I have setbacks- and there are a lot of them.
He provides through the lean times, and at times blesses us with enough to share.
He did this throughout my time as an at-home mom.

So why should I fear changing gears? It's not like God went out to lunch...right? He's still here right beside me- And He's beside you too!

Life has once more changed gears on me. Once I get past the fear, the excitement builds. I wrote a little haiku about it.


Choices

Making life choices
Standing on a precipice.

I can fall or fly.

God is going to help me fly!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Puzzling Puzzles

Do you love puzzles? Me too!

I loved them as a kid. Usually it was puzzles that came in pieces in a box that I had to put together, and it took hours. I also loved puzzle books. I especially loved the puzzles in Highlights magazine; I'd never read the stories until I did at least three mind-challenging brain teasers first. That was a moral imperative!

As I grew into a teen my tastes changed. I still loved putting together puzzles, but I also bought puzzle books. Word Finds were my favorite, yet I hated crosswords; But when I found math puzzles, boy did I get excited! By the time I started writing articles for magazines as an adult, I was solving at least fifteen different kinds of puzzles.

I decided to start making them. I kept them simple at first- crosswords were a lot more fun to create than I expected (it's nice to know the answers beforehand!), but then I started getting into math puzzles and word logic, and before I knew it, I could create over twenty different types of puzzles.

Making puzzles was fun, but tedious. I had no programs to create them, and did them all  by hand- er...computer. I used a paint program and made everything from scratch; Not exactly efficient. But I didn't need to be fast- I was creating them for magazines, so i didn't need more than a handful a month. All was well with the world.

Then I found a neat little online program at www.crauswords.com to help me create puzzles without having to hand-make them anymore. Now instead of taking a half of a day to make one, I could create them in minutes! Wow!

Now it was time to create my very first puzzle book.

It took longer than I thought, yet went faster than I realized. Planning puzzles isn't the easiest thing to do, but once I had all the information down, all I had to do was type in the specs and create, create, create!

However, I forgot about formatting. Formatting can be a nightmare, especially since most of these were images. In fact, it was so much of a pain that I put the book aside for a bit and focused on the independent publishing of my journals. It was then I found another online wonder called www.Canva.com that allowed me to drag and drop everything I needed and to set the pages up the way I wanted. I had to do it in sections and that was fine- it was much better than trying to format everything!

After a lot of trial and error, I finally had not one book, but two!

I just sent them through createspace, and will be getting my proofs soon. How exciting! Not only can puzzle lovers buy the books on Amazon (Mind Play Puzzle Lovers Book Vol. 1 & 2 coming soon!), but I have links and an email address included so people can contact me with puzzle book ideas! That means if there's a puzzle book you'd love to see but can't seem to find, ask me- I can probably create one!

And I only say probably because I don't know all of the puzzle types out there- but I have a feeling I'm going to learn about new puzzles after these books come out!

I'm so excited about this new venture that I just had to share with you! And if you're a puzzle lover, join me on my Facebook page and I'll keep you posted on updates! https://www.facebook.com/Bethbrubakerauthor/


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hystericalectomy

One surgery down, one to go.

Yep. It's official. They want my parts outta there. I haven't gotten the test results back yet, but after talking to the resident doc after the first surgery, he had absolutely no doubts that I need hysterectomy.

And after speaking with the doc that actually did the surgery (younger doc- older one was observing), she said she found a polyp near one of my tubes. Whether it was cancerous or not is still in the hands of the lab techs, but a polyp isn't just an organic chandelier- it's an indicator of something amiss. Great.

I was in and out of the hospital within a matter of hours, and apparently I'm funny as heck when on anesthesia. I also become exceedingly mellow and cool, because I was giving high fives to everyone I wheeled past. 

I found that percocet is awesome. They only let me have one, and I was good for a nice, long time. Really good. I was glad they didn't give me a prescription- I can see how people get addicted to those suckers.

The next few days I was supposed to rest, but I felt really, really energetic for the first time in over a year, so I decided it was a good time to cut up veggies, then repackage the meat that my husband bought into serving sizes.

I felt normal for the first time in years. And by 'normal', I mean my old, happier, more jovial self. I laughed more, and found myself generally content with life. I really missed that feeling.

But oh, that third day! I was hurting and started to bleed. Yup. I overdid it. I remained flat as I could for the next two days, and allowed myself to heal. 
The down side to this healing process is the hormones, hot flashes and seasonal allergies returned, and there I was, back to being Jabba the Hutt's younger sister, Firesnot. 

My follow-up appointment is in the second week of October, when I get the test results. That will also be when I make the appointment for the hystericalectomy. That recovery time will be a lot longer, and I'm hoping to get some writing done between periods of being very, very flat. Maybe they'll let me have a few percocets to take home. 

I'm hoping to be completely back on both feet before Christmas, and work out new lifestyle eating and exercise changes for the New Year. My knees are feeling better (though I do have the occasional gimpy off-day)- but I'm not implementing anything concerning exercise until this surgery is over and done with. 

When this is all said and done? Look out world- I'm coming out to play!


Monday, September 18, 2017

PMS Institute

PMS can mean many things, but in this case, it means Peri-Menopause.

After this past two weeks I realized something. There needs to be a mental institute for peri-menopausal women. 

I'm generally a nice person- really, I am! But during this past month, the grasp on my emotions has been getting steadily worse, and I think it all started two to three years ago, when the peri-menopausal monster decided to rear its over-estrogenated, roller-coaster-emotioned head.

As of this weekend, I lost my grip entirely.

I was crying for no reason. Anything brought me to near-crying! The pastors' sermon was uplifting, but my eyes acted like it was an eulogy. He could have said the word 'the' and my eyes would blur with unreleased tears.

But that wasn't all folks- oh no! I went from an understanding, loving person to unreasonable shrew in less than 1.2 seconds- and all it took was a loving smile from my hard-working husband. 

He doesn't deserve that. My worst enemy doesn't deserve that! But on I spewed, ranting and raving about all the wrong in my life and the world, volcanic words erupting from my mouth and throwing ash all over the living room carpets.

When I was by myself, I cried that no one cared. When I was with people at church, I wanted to be alone. Does that sound like a sane person?

Well, this wasn't the first time this happened (though I admit it was one of the worst hormonal episodes), so I decided to get checked out. I'm still not sure if that was the right decision or not, because they found something.

Atypical cells.

So instead of an institute, I'm going to the hospital for an outpatient procedure called a D&C. Apparently I have a few layers that decided to stay put and they have to go in and do a little wallpaper removal. They have to check my innards to make sure those atypical cells were possibly an organic typo, or if I need to get some parts removed. The doc told me my estrogen levels were through the roof- and that was probably why I was a peri-menopausal psychopath, and that I was also a high, pre-cancer risk. 

Oh Joy and Rapture.

I go in for the surgery Wednesday. If things turn out to be atypical (or even cancerous), I will be having a hysterectomy. In my case, it will be a hystericalectomy. I'm not crazy about having my parts removed, but I'm also not crazy about being hormonally crazy either. 

(Wolfburgers, anyone? Been there, almost done that!)

After talking to a few of my 'ectomy' friends, it seems the hormonal roller coaster rides will stop, and the estrogen levels will level off, because I won't be producing it anymore. Since estrogen is stored in the fat cells (according to the doc), I'll get some of the estrogen back when I start losing weight, but eventually I'll have to start taking supplements. 

Eventually. Like when I'm eighty.

So the trade off is a calmer, happier and possibly thinner me (or at least thinning), no chance of having to support kids in college in my seventies, and no more monthly (or quarterly) mattresses in exchange for one uterus and a couple of over-active ovaries. 

I think I can handle that- at least until the next hormonal surge happens. Then I'll be in the bedroom drowning myself in my tear-soaked pillow. Sigh.

In the mean time I would ask for your prayers and positive thoughts as I go under the whatever-it-is they use for the D&C- and don't tell me, I really don't want to know. 
Just so long as I'm in a medical institution for less than a day and not a mental one for the rest of my hot-flashing, teeth-grinding life, I believe God's got this- but a lot of prayers sure don't hurt matters...right?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tis The Sneezon



Ah, Spring and Autumn, you delight me with your bright regalia of color, your special sweet smells of growth and defoliation, with your wild creatures running amok to either celebrate the end of winter, or scurrying to find food for their secret winter stashes. 

But your pollen laden air can go take a long hiketh off of a short cliffeth.

Those itchy eyes, that red and swollen nose is oh-so-attractive to my slumbering mate as he is startled awake by the thundering moose-like bellow of the wild that is the blowing of my very stuffed, yet runny nose. To this day it amazes me just how much can be forcibly propelled out of one's nostrils; so much so that I imagine there is some sort of miraculous measurement written in the vast pages of Guinness Book of World Records. 
Go back to sleep my love I gently croon in a very unromantic babbling cant (for one cannot utter certain letters when ones nose is so stuffed) , praying he will be in deep slumber before my next allergenic eruption.

Sometimes I manage to hold back the explosive utterances, only to find myself questing with quavering fingers through the darkened recesses of the bedding for my eyeballs. On occasion, I manage to sleep.

The morning alarm sounds, bringing me into a new day- or at least that is what I assume, since my eyelids are cemented shut. Nocturnal tears wept to relieve the itchiness apparently hardens overnight into an almost impenetrable crust, for which I need a minuscule hammer and chisel to remove the stubborn ocular barnacles so I can at last see the light of pre-dawn.

Mornings are fraught with frantic searching for fresh hankies as I sense the pre-sneeze tickling in the vast depths of my nasal cavity, often ending with a hasty toilet paper substitute when the needed eco-friendly solution to my carbon footprint can't be found; but when that swatch of soft washable nose gear is located, a cry of triumph and the thrill of glorious celebratory glee courses through my very being when said hankie is conscripted in time for the gust that even the Big Bad Wolf would envy.

Or should I say series of gusts, for you see, my body, having lain dormant for more than a few hours, makes up for time by sending me into convulsive, multiple sneezing fits that more than one hankie is required. This is especially appreciated when engaged in conversation or if consuming the morning repast.

If it weren't for the hankies, many, many forests would suffer decimation from my spring and autumn pollen perturbed proboscis. There aren't enough tissues in the universe to save my poor nose, not to mention we'd either be bereft of funds from the expense, or the earth would suffocate from the overfilling of our toxic waste dumps from my allergenic leavings.

Another happenstance that fills me with joyful exuberance is the unexpected spritzing of a non-incontinent yet neither leak-proof bladder. When in mid-sneeze, one has no control over ones intense muscular contractions of  the solar plexus, henceforth no command over the drips, drops, or complete loss of control concerning urinary release. This makes any outing delightfully more adventurous, even when one is wearing a washcloth, or mini mattress made for other womanly functions. 
Trips are planned carefully, in accordance to the location of bathrooms, or within a three foot vicinity of the domicile in case a sneeze occurs.

As for allergy alleviation, One can either be drowsy and muddle-headed all day, or choose the path of the overnight medication that would send one into an almost coma-like stupor; though either will send your body into a severe mode of dehydration, sending any and all fluids to the finite depths of ones bladder. As long as no fluids are consumed, all seems well- but the moment liquid touches ones lips, all symptoms come rushing back with an epic vengeance, bringing forth tear-blinded eyes and fits of sneezing that will alleviate the hydration-bloated urine-filled water balloon that ones so desperately tries not to loosen, because a lavatory is not within waddling distance.

But I digress. I neither wish to be in a stupor nor venture out into the wilderness that is my city with a trunk of clean clothing 'just in case' some allergens befall my sensitive senses.

So here I sit, in the safety of my enclosed writing sanctuary, grateful for windows that close and a place to hold two formidable stacks of hankies; Nary daring to open the door even to feline yowlings or family encouragers, content to be a hermit until the winter snows arrive, ensconced in an atmosphere gloriously pollen-free. 

At least until dinnertime. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Self(ish) Sufficiency

Self- Sufficiency. 

It's the ultimate goal for most of us. In fact, the world commends someone who is self-sufficient; this is a person that doesn't need to rely on anyone else to do what he has to get done- he does it all on his own.

I was taught from a young age to be self-sufficient. But my self-sufficiency was based all on me- not others. Doing it on my own meant that I was not only competent (which gave my confidence a boost), but the job would be done right.

Asking for help was a no-no. 

Sufficient means adequate or enough. Self-sufficient means I'm enough. I'm adequate. All I need is me to do what I need to do. But many, many times I find myself overwhelmed by life and drowning in chaos! 

Am I enough? Nope. not by a longshot. Anyone would consider a man a fool if he was drowning and didn't ask for help...right? So why do I pride myself on getting out of the chaos on my own? 

It's definitely selfish-sufficiency. 

I need friends. I need family. And most important, I need God. Only God can give me the strength to call out for help, and provide that help when I ask for it!

When I'm down, I talk to my cheerleaders. And they do the same with me. I am supported, and I in turn support others. I'm spiritually fed, and I spiritually feed others. And everyone is stronger for it.

Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't ask for help. Sometimes I feel like I'm whining- and to be honest, sometimes I am. But I'm blessed enough to have friends willing to tell me when I'm getting to that point, and they in turn appreciate that I don't pull punches either. 

Truth can sting, but it's better to rid yourself of those splinters of trouble before they fester and infect your entire being.

As for my gentler, less blunt friends, they are my comforters when I feel like the world is full of thorns. God has blessed me with an entire garden of different blooms to go to when I need help.

But I have to be willing to walk into the garden!



On occasion I still suffer from selfish-efficiency. But God reminds me that I wasn't meant to do everything on my own. And sometimes He has me remind others as well!

It's good to find more than one friend to tell your troubles to and share your concerns and sorrows. I'm lucky enough- blessed enough- to have a small group I can confide in for the harder issues. Some are sounding boards for ideas (in fact, I might have to stop telling her ideas because we are both creatives and we give each other even more ideas! :) ), and some are great for those ups and downs when I enter a new stage of life.

One thing I've learned was to give as well as receive. That was the hardest lesson!

I had to remember to listen as well as speak. To learn as well as teach. To follow as well as lead. And for this very stubborn, hard-headed woman, God had His hands full!

He still does.

Don't be afraid to find your own blossoms in your garden of friends. You might even be surprised when you find them! And don't forget to also talk to your Best Friend Ever...God!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Lights Out, Little Owl


Our son, my night owl, has flown the coop. As of Thursday, he's residing in college. 

We all were excited for our own reasons. My husband and I, because he's going to get a higher education, will be independent, and will learn to earn his daily bread for a lifetime. Our son, for getting out from the dubious parental thumbs of his parents and the tell-tale informative skills of his sister. His sister, because she will no longer have to put up with his teasing and his consumption of all her favorite snacks.
And for us three early birds, no more loud noises late at night, when our night owl leaves on every light- especially the one in the living room- and stomps about the house because he forgets everyone else is asleep.

We were all excited.

It wasn't easy getting him ready. The entire month was a tug-of-war on my nerves, because of shopping trips, packing (or so I thought was him packing) and other college roadblocks that are the very essence of joy for a first-time college parent. 

Once the road blocks were removed (or at least dealt with), all we had to do was take what he packed and put it in the van the night before, because, being the early birds most of us are, we have to leave at the crack of dark to do everything we'd planned. However, there was a problem.

Let's just say for the parent of an Aspie, his kind of packing wasn't our kind of packing.
His kind of packing was to put things in their own piles in his room and to go through every single thing, stacking it neatly in said pile. Then plan to throw everything in the van pell-mell at the last minute, sneaking in a few forbidden items while we were asleep.

We didn't find this out until the day before we were supposed to leave. 

He also has a gift to become scarce when chores are involved, so my husband, daughter and a family friend (who was helping because of my wonky knees) managed to get most of his important gear packed and into the van before bedtime. Whew! 
Of course my son helped some. And by some, I mean telling everyone what he wanted to take with him, which was almost everything. We parents knew better and managed to keep most of his valuables (and valued things like a plethora of desk toys) at home.

Oddly enough, our night owl was up with us at dawn, ready for the first leg of his lifes' journey.
This trip was an all day event because his college was a four hour drive one way, with side visits to make on the way there. And it was a perfect morning! All of the van windows opened as we all breathed in the fresh air of freedom.

College students greeted us with tubs to carry the new students' belongings to the dorms, and our son was stashed and settled in no time. Then it was off to our last dinner with him (at least for a while), and he was chomping at the bit for us to go. He didn't really want a huge farewell- there were too many things to see and people to meet. He is a very sociable Aspie. I taught him that. Maybe I taught him too well.

We got into the van soon after dinner and made our way home. I was excited for him, but a little sad as well. I expected him to be a bit more...loving. I expected more heartfelt hugs and instead received a brush-off. He was looking forward to flying out of the nest I had built.

No more yelling to get him to do chores.
No more trying to wake him up in the mornings and failing miserably.
No more calling for him, trying to find him while his earphones are on.
No more arguments over what he will and won't take.
No more stress, hoping he filled out the forms he needed.

I could breathe now. 

When we got home, we were all tired and ready for bed. Early birds don't fare well after a long day, and I was ready for a nice deep sleep. I wasn't worried about his safety or how he would do his first night- after all, he's a young man now. The first part of my job concerning him was done. Now I was entering a new phase of motherhood with my son.

We slogged up the steps with my husband turning off the lights as he went, including that light in the living room that never gets turned off- it's always on for my son, the night owl. It's left on all day as well, since the room is a bit dark. For years I had an issue with that light always being on, but now that wasn't going to be a problem anymore.

My husband turned out the light. 

That was when it hit me. My son wasn't home. He's trying out his wings in college.

And that was when the tears started.

Lights out, little owl. Your morning bird momma misses you.