Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It is all Good!

Yesterday I received a phone call - no writers, it wasn't that call - this one was even better! This phone call helped my breathing and made me feel a zillion pounds lighter! Omg - I still think I will take off floating any minute now, I feel so light.

A month ago - I had my first mammogram. Obviously, I was told to go at age 40, but pushed it off. But my 44th birthday is approaching, so I decided I need to subject myself to the squeeze.

I've heard horror stories about mammograms (seems like the women that told nasty childbirth stories have now moved to mammo stories) It isn't as painful as I thought it might be. It's cold and uncomfortable - some pain, but nothing that kills.
Before I leave, the nurse says, "You are young (aw, thanks) so your tissue is more dense (ah, is that a compliment or insult?) and since this is your first mammogram, we might have to call you back in for more images, so don't worry if you get a phone call."

I leave there, happy to be done and not worried that I will get a call. There is no breast cancer in my family and I hardly give it another thought.

Two days later, I get a phone call saying, "Don't panic, they don't think it's any big deal, but you need to come back so they can take more images."



"Are you serious?"

"They want to take some enlarged digital images. Can you come in tomorrow?" she says.

"Tomorrow, so soon?" I'm not liking the sound of this.

My denial instincts kick in and I want to hang up the phone and pretend I never got this call. Let's go back and redo this moment - without this phone call!

But she's still on the phone, asking me questions about when I can come in. She wants me to come in the next day, which is Friday. I have plans for Friday and I don't feel like messing with them, so I ask if it can wait until Monday. She says that would be fine - Monday 8AM it is.

Now this I give more thought to - all weekend long! It's all I can think of. And I think about it alone, because I haven't told anyone about the call. Not even Jerry. I don't feel like talking about it because that will make it seem too real. (can you say denial!) Plus, I know my emotions will be on a rough roller coaster ride and I don't feel like having company. I figure when I get the results from the second images, when they tell me all is fine (optimist!) then I will tell Jerry.

Monday 8AM - This photo shoot is slightly more painful, because there's more pressure applied to get a better image - but at least it only has to be done on one side. The nurse takes two shots, studies her screen, leaves the room, comes back in and takes another shot. As she escorts me back to the changing room, she says, "When you are done, the doctor will see you in his office."

"The Doctor? See me now?" I manage to squawk. "Here? I didn't know I will see a doctor."

"Yes," she softly says, avoiding my eyes. "Open the door when you are dressed."

I numbly proceed. I stare at my face in the mirror and realize that my life might never be the same again. Part of me never wants to leave that little room, because of the dark unknown that lies beyond it and part of me wants to find that doctor and force him to give me good news.

Ah - yes, that's it, I think, he's just wants to tell me that everything is fine. The images look great!

No wait, why won't the nurse just tell me that? Doctors don't see you when all is well, they see you to say "all is not well."

I open the door a crack and try to breathe. The nurse soon arrives and escorts me into a small office with a desk and two chairs. I hate the room immediately. It's too small, too drab, too cold and WHY THE HECK AM I HERE??

The nurse leaves and comes back with a doctor. He is kind and gentle and explains everything thoroughly. Calcification found. Looks like it will be benign, but need a biopsy to know for sure.

DARN!! Is this really me having this conversation? My mind has a hard time catching up to the fact that I'm sitting here, hearing words coming from this man's mouth that I don't like. They are changing my day, my world, maybe even my life!

I leave there planning to call Jerry, then I remember I saw his phone on the table after he left for work. Oh, what a great day to forget his phone!

I see a surgeon that afternoon and he repeats the same words. My optimistic brain had almost talked me into believing that he will say that nothing has to be done after all.
But no - he says a biopsy is needed to determine what the cluster of calcification is. The good news is that he thinks there's a 90% chance that it is benign. I like the sound of 90!

That evening, I tell Jerry that I've been sneaking around on him, going to see other men. He says, "What are you talking about?"

I tell him what I'm talking about.

He is surprised - surprised at the news and surprised that I’ve been dealing with this solo. He thanks me for saving him from some of the ride, then quickly adds, "but you could have told me earlier, I would have been okay with it."

Sept 28, Monday 8AM - Now it's my turn to tell nasty personal stories. No, I won't give too many details other than to say - IT HURT LIKE HELL! (sorry mom)
Stereo-tactic biopsy is the official term for what I had done. But "car repair" is what kept going through my mind.
I lie on my stomach on a table, correctly positioned over a hole.
They tell me no moving at all - "lie still and don't talk."
The table is raised a few feet into the air.
The doctor and tech wheel around on stools - from under the table to their monitors and back again.
There are machines that blow air, provide pressure, cut slits, whirl, probe and sound like a sewing machine.

Supposedly a local anesthetic is used, but I think half of it didn't show up for work this Monday morning, because it hurts!

When the probing succeeds in capturing the needed cells, the nurse helps me turn around on the table, so I'm laying on my back. As the doctor glues the probe site, he asks if it hurt.

Excuse me? Yes, it hurt! That's a dumb question!

"No, it shouldn't hurt," the nurse joins in. "You should have told us and we could have given you more anesthetic."

"Told you? How was I to tell you when you told me not to talk."

They both say that if I was having pain, I should have said "ouch" and they would have taken care of it. They repeat, "Biopsies shouldn't hurt you."

Well, that's great to know now!

When finished, the nurse escorts me back to the waiting room where Jerry is. One look at my face and he knows it was not a pleasant experience.

The nurse gives me a small firm pink pillow to prop under my arm on the ride home, along with a list of instructions - take 2 pain killers when you get home and take it easy today. No exercise for 48 hours. “We’ll call you in 24 to 48 hours with the results.”

I go home - glad that’s over, but anger at how much it hurt. I spend most of Monday and Tuesday on my recliner with my pink pillow positioned properly. I’m really annoyed at this pink pillow - no offense to all you pink lovers out there, but I don’t like pink, never really have. Now I really don’t like it because I’m also concerned that “breast cancer pink” will now be a part of my life.

The nurse calls on Tuesday - I hold my breath. “No report yet.” she says, “Just calling to see how you are doing.”
“Much better today than yesterday,” I say. “I have some tenderness and soreness, but it feels better.”
My emotions are fairly level on Tuesday - thanks to the peace of God keeping me steady.

Though as I see the doctor’s number on the phone Wednesday morning, I hold my breath again. This is it, Janet. This is it. Are you ready? God, help me!

“Hi, Janet. This is Kathy. We have your report and all is good.”

Thank God, she spoke everything fast and clear, so my hyper heart could beat normally again.

“Good?” I ask. “As in good-good? Nothing there? Not even pre-cancerous cells?”

“Nothing there,” she repeats. “It's all good!”

Yes, it is good - it is good!

I can breathe again. Praise God! I hadn’t realized how heavy I felt until I heard the words - IT'S ALL GOOD!

Winning Wednesday

Too many books ... too little time.

I love books and want to share some with my readers -
so each Wednesday you will have a chance to win a book.
Sometimes it will be one I review for Thomas Nelson -
other times it will be one I love and want to share for the joy of sharing.

Today you could win "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years"
by Donald Miller, which I wrote a review about yesterday. This is a book I want to reread (I rarely say that!) so I won't want to give my copy away, so thankfully Thomas Nelson gave me an extra copy to give away.

Leave your name in the comment section today - up to midnight. I will put all the names in a hat, I mean bookbag, and blindly select a winner. If you are comfortable leaving your address, do so - if not, check this site on Friday to see if you are the winner, then you can email me your address privately.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review of "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" by Donald Miller

Wow! Excellent. Great read, I want to keep using words like that to describe this book, but that's boring, so here's some details.

We have one life to live and Donald Miller does a superb job in "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years" helping the reader understand that life is boring and meaningless if we sit by and "watch the parade." He reminds us - live your life, try new things and tackle difficult issues. He asks the readers to imagine how boring movies or books would be if the characters never tried new things or if they gave up when they faced obstacles.

And I like, really like, the balance he provides by also writing about the fact that life won’t be perfect - there is no utopia. Yes, we need to be in the parade to enjoy life, but stop looking for perfection - enjoy and be involved in the life around you and you will find meaning in your story.

I rarely want to reread a book - I’ve just finished this one and I want to reread it already!

In "A Million Miles," Donald Miller talks about taking the chances or making the changes in your life that you keep talking about, but don't do anything about. Think about what you wish was happening in your life story that is not happening right now - is there anything you can do to make it happen? Probably not all at once, but one step at a time, can you make changes to your day that would make your life more meaningful?

New feature starting tomorrow - WINNING WEDNESDAY!
Will be happening every week.

This week you have a chance to win a copy of "A Million Miles in a Thousand Years." The publishing company, Thomas Nelson, sent two copies when I received my copy to review - one to read and one to share!
  • So leave your name and address as a comment (I won't send you any junk mail :)
  • I will randomly select a winner on Friday morning.
  • I will mail the book to the winner on Friday or Saturday

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Sayings

"Julia (Child) taught me what it takes to find your way in the world. It's not what I thought it was. I thought it was all about - I don't know, confidence or will or luck. Those are all some good things to have, no question. But there's something else, something that these things grow out of. "

It's joy.

- Julie Powell in Julie & Julia

What's your joy?

What do you enjoy?

And are you spending any time of your life doing that?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday's Story - Roadtrip #1

Every Saturday, I plan to post a portion of my stories from the once-in-a-lifetime roadtrip we took in 03/04. I'm working towards writing/publishing a book in the future that would include these stories, plus many more.

December 4, 2003 was a cold, snowy night in southeast Pennsylvania - temps dipped down to 22 degrees. By choice, my husband Jerry and I, along with our three boys, Joshua 15, Joseph 13 and Jonathan 11, were homeless and unemployed.

We slept in a 40-foot motorhome (with heat) in the driveway that night. No one complained, because the adventure of a lifetime was about to begin. Over the previous few months, we sold our house, property and Meadow Gardens, a garden center Jerry and I started eleven years earlier. We then sold,
gave away or stored everything else we owned. We were hitting the road - excited to experience a totally different lifestyle for about nine months! Waking up to Pennsylvania’s first snowstorm of the season had us rushing to head south before we were snowed in.
We didn’t have a detailed itinerary, but a general idea of where we planned to go. We like warm weather, the sun and the beach, so our tentative thoughts were to spend Christmas in Florida with a friend, make our way west through the southern states in the winter, travel up the west coast in the spring and probably see Alaska in June. Then we planned to travel east through the northern states and come back to ‘real life’ in August 2004. We had family and friends in a few states, so they were on our list of stops. We had some contacts at volunteer organizations that we planned to work with a few weeks. Obviously, the boys needed to continue their educations with books and lessons. We also wanted to see museums, parks and do factory tours to ehance their education.

We spent the first weekend in Virginia seeing my sister and some friends. The weather was cold and they had about an inch of snow, so we were anxious to head further south. We wanted to see some of North and South Carolina, but the temperatures stayed in the thirties, so we drove until we reached Florida.
We had our first weekend of warm weather and sunshine in St. Augustine State Park in northern Florida along the east coast. The lush, green foliage surrounding our campsite was a pleasant contrast to the barren trees of Pennsylvania. After a weekend of bike rides, building sandcastles and running on the beach, I began to realize how much I was going to enjoy this trip. Leaving a life where my schedule had been bursting with all the duties of a business owner - to looking at not just days, but weeks ahead with nothing scheduled was a glorious thought! As I looked in the mirror at the end of that weekend, I hardly recognized myself without my normal creased brow.

“Nine months of this!” One of us would randomly shout throughout the weekend and the other four would response with an assortment of, “Yeah! Hooray! This is life.”

Driving south further, we set up camp at Sun and Fun Campground near Sarasota, FL for a week. The boys promptly disappeared for a time and then came flooding back excited with the options of the campground - shuffleboard, pool tables, miniature golf and an Olympic-size swimming pool were among some of the things I heard in the chorus of voices.

“Keep your eyes open as you explore," I announced, “your lesson on Friday will be to draw something you saw this week.” One of my goals was to have the boys draw a picture weekly. I figured this could be an interesting ‘travel log’ of their trip, along with providing them with a needed art lesson.

When Friday rolled around, I pulled out the sketchpads and pencils, “What did you see or what impressed you this week,” I asked.

“The swimming pool,” Jonathan promptly said.

A branch of small, purple berries on a tree right outside the motorhome window intrigued Joseph and he set up a lawn chair directly in front of it and began sketching.

Joshua took my comment of “what did you see” literally and after thinking a moment or two said, “Guess I’ll draw an old person.”
He had quickly discovered that ‘snowbirds,’ older people from the northern states that spent a few months in Florida during the winter months, occupied most of the campsites.

Our goal was hot weather and it was only around 65 degrees on the mainland, so we decided to head as far south as we could, without buying a plane ticket. The Florida Keys are made up of multiple islands that stretch 130 miles southwest of Florida and are connected by one road (Route 1) with 42 bridges, the longest being 7 miles long. We promptly fell in love with the area and the perfect weather - temps in the upper 70’s everyday. Obviously there was water everywhere - it was crystal-clear and blue-green in color. We stayed at a campground in Marathon, one of the middle islands.
“Dad, lets unload the bikes first,” Joseph said as we began setting up our campsite. “I want to see what all is here.” A few minutes later, the boys dispersed to explore their neighborhood of the week. Jerry continued the outdoor setup - hooking up the necessary hoses and putting up the awning. I put a rug inside the door, a doormat out and set the trash can outside the door. I knew I would still be cleaning on this trip, but I was trying to save myself as much work as possible. I really wanted to go sit by the water, but figured the boys would be hungry soon, so I made dinner first. (Giving up eating while traveling would have saved us work, but no one liked that idea)

After an hour or two passed and the boys didn’t returned, I became concerned. Jerry didn’t seem to share my apprehension - maybe because he was quite comfortable in a hammock at the moment. I pulled out the campground map, saw there was a large arcade and headed in that direction.

“Hey, what are you guys doing?” I called, as I spotted Jonathan riding my way.
Skidding to a stop beside me, he's excited, “Hey, it’s not just old people here!”
“Shh-sh,” I look around hoping no one heard him. Snowbirds are generally kind and gracious, but I didn’t want to take any chances insulting one.

“We met two other children,” he continued, “They are also homeschooled and are here on vacation. They’ll be here all week!”

“Great,” I said, thrilled that the boys had other children to connect with. And yes, envisioning all the hours I would have to myself that week! They had a blast all week - swimming, biking and playing games with their new friends. We did a few hours of schoolwork a morning or two, but already my planned schedule was slipping. Because gosh, it was hard to keep them (and me) in the motorhome when the beach was only a short walk away.

We took the Jeep for a day trip down to Key West, the last island. From there, we took a boat ride out to Dry Tortugas National Park, on an island 70 miles west of Key West, that holds Fort Jefferson, part of our countries defense plans in the 1800's. As we boarded the boat, I knew it would be an excellent day. I didn’t have to plan anything - breakfast was served on the boat, lunch on the island and snorkeling equipment provided. Air and water temperature were around 85 degrees. We spent the day swimming, snorkeling and photographing some of the unusual fish and underwater creatures. It was a day that in hindsight seems almost surreal because it was so perfect.

Next Saturday - the boys direct us to one of the largest paintball fields in central Florida, because they NEED to play paintball.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What CAN you do?

I've liked this quote by Theodore Roosevelt for a long time ... "Do what you can with what you have where you are."

That thought helped carry me through many seasons -
  • Finding a spiritual identity outside the boxes of my past
  • Begin walk/running at age 28 (never exercised before) after the birth of my third son in four and half years.
  • Progressing to run a full marathon (26.2 miles) two years later
  • Starting and managing a seasonal business for eleven years
  • Waking up in a hospital in California, finding out I almost died twelve days earlier
  • Walk again - after the doctors said I might not
  • Climbing out of the black hole of depression
  • On to running again, along with biking
  • Now I'm hanging tight to that thought - as word by word, I try to write a book.
This morning I was motivated again when I read this in an interview.

People need to stop thinking about what can't be done and start thinking about what CAN? - Gary Vaynerchuk

100 years ago or today - the truth is still the same.
How much time do I (and you) spend focusing on what we can't do rather than on what we can do?
Any area of your life at a standstill until you switch your focus?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Writer's Write

"Writer's write."

This is one of the pieces of advice Donald Miller gave today. He gave a speech, followed with a question/answer time at the Abilene Christian University Summit. It was streamed live online and I watched most of it. During the Q&A time, one question was, "What advice do you have for new writers?"


"Writer's write."

"They sit down and they write every day."

Okay, let me dissect this advice for my own sake and anyone else that wants to be a published writer, but has a hard time making it happen.

Write. Every. Day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Saying - Uncertainty

Ever have uncertainty in your life?

Generally uncertainty is seen as a negative - what would happen if we saw it as a positive instead?

“Uncertainty and mystery are energies of life. Don't let them scare you unduly, for they keep boredom at bay and spark creativity.” ~ R.I. Fitzhenry

Maybe certainty is overrated.

To be uncertain is to be uncomfortable, but to be certain is to be ridiculous. ~Chinese Proverb

So have you ever found yourself in a situation where uncertainty was better than certainty?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Chocolate and God

God gave us...

God gave us the sun and the stars and the winds, and people worshiped the sun and the stars and the winds, instead of the God who made them.

Then God gave us the Law (in the Bible) and people worshiped the Law instead of the God who spoke it.

No matter what God gave people, eventually they were worshiping that thing, and not God.

So God gave us himself instead ...
- Author Unknown

As people, we seem to have a need to worship something other and/or bigger than us. Worship means "great or excessive love, admiration, and respect felt for somebody or something."

As humans, when we love/worship something, we like to be able to see, touch, and even smell the object of our love. I love chocolate. I like to read descriptions of chocolate and how it is made. I even like to look at pictures of chocolate. I like to hear someone else talk about a great piece of chocolate they’ve enjoyed. I like to smell chocolate, but those things alone would never satisfy my love for chocolate.
When I am blessed to be standing in front of a display of chocolates, especially homemade, I am a happy girl. I take time to select just the right piece. Am I in the mood for nutty, fruit, milk, dark, salty? I like to consider all the choices. (Dark is my preference of late) After holding up the line way too long, I make my decision. I slowly, almost reverently, open the bag and take a deep breathe - ah, life is good! Then I enjoy the taste of it - on a good day, it is everything I want it to be. Then and only then is my love for chocolate satisfied ... until the next time.

Ancient words say, “Love God with your entire heart, with your entire soul, and with your entire mind.” So what does that look like? How do we love God? Do we walk around looking upward, reciting Bible verses, hugging holy statues or maybe we send God cute valentine cards? Is a certain church or program that is right? Is there a correct formula to follow - steps 1, 2 and 3?

I have not found the formula for finding perfect chocolate ever time. Sometimes the displays of chocolate that look the best end up not tasting all that great. Other times I am in the mood for chocolate in the midst of an ordinary day.

On day, I had a bite of Dove dark chocolate as I headed out the door on an errand. I’ve had Dove before (often) its a good chocolate, but not 'out of this world' good. But that day, as I stepped outside, the sun was shining, my son was in the car on time, and driving down the road, one of my favorite songs came on the radio. With all that, the chocolate in my mouth tasted superb - the moment was priceless. 

I’ve been finding my walk with God to be similar to that. Some days when I am in a so-called ‘perfect setting’ to worship God, I feel flat, lifeless and empty. The 'formula' that works for others (or that seems to work for them) doesn't do anything for me.

Other days in the midst of life, in a moment when I least expect it, I become aware of God in a real way - the moment is priceless.

I’ve discovered if I’m intentional about looking for God, those moments can be anywhere, anytime. Guess when God said he is everywhere, he really meant it! It might be when I’m out for a walk, having dinner with my boys, interacting with others or even doing laundry. And of course, when eating chocolate.

Where/how do you connect with God?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Do you ever interrupt someone in a conversation? Please say yes, because I don't want to be alone.

If you've ever had a conversation with me, you might know that I interrupt at times, especially if it's something I feel passionate about - can be either positive or negative.

Sometimes the interruption is like an unannounced volcano, the words jump out before I realize they are even forming, which means I've forgotten all the instructions I've ever given myself about thinking before I talk.
Some times, my tongue bleeds. It's a good thing, if the other person is finished talking and my bloody tongue is still under control. It means I bit well and didn't interrupt. But at times the biting is too hard and the slow-churning volcano spills over, spewing words where they don't belong.

Every time I do it, I get really annoyed at myself. And I promise myself I won't do it again. Never, ever again!!

If I realize I interrupted, I apologize to the person promptly and hope that my apologize will give them memory loss. (won't that be nice) Most times, the person is gracious and says no big deal and the conversation continues as normal, with my tongue now severely bridled. (hopefully) Other times, the interruption has messed with the other person or the moment to the point that the conversation fizzles out soon after. Hate when that happens!

Then there are times, I'm replaying a conversation in my mind later - might be hours or days later - and I realize I interrupted. Ugh! Then I begin a conversation with God about whether or not, I should take a few steps backward and talk to the person about it. Sometimes my answer is clear and I act on it. Some days, everything within me is saying I need to address it, but I don't want to. I argue with myself.
I needed to get my point across and how was I supposed to when 'they' didn't give me an open!
Janet, this needs an apologize - do it!
But ... but ... but ....

The good news for this ugly part of me is that when I recognize my interruptions and ask God to forgive me, he does. And according to what I've read, he does have memory loss about it - yes!

If I'm lucky, the other person will forgive me also and our relationship will continue as before.

I've never interrupted in the public way that Kanye West did on the VMA awards - but after seeing him on Leno last night, I assume he's feeling some of the same things I do after I interrupt.

His apologize was not perfect. It was awkward.

Walking in, he appeared very nervous and anxious. To tell you the truth, I was concerned what was in the rolled-up coat he carried in. And the ideas that went through my mind were not kind and showed me how much I've judged him. I felt stupid when I realized it was only a coat that he then wore to sing.

Kanye seemed at a loss and didn't know what to say, when Leno asked him what his late mother would think of this situation. That question seemed almost cruel to me - not sure that it was kind or necessary.

But Kanye's interruption, Leno's questions and the awkward apologize - none of that is mine to control or judge. What am I to do?


Pray for wisdom for everyone involved.

And thank God for classy women like Beyonce that can teach us all something about taking the high road. (now, if she would just find some pants for some of her outfits)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Sayings

I like to reserve Sunday as a day of rest, so my Sunday posts will be sayings or quotes that I've read that make me laugh and/or think.

"We are created in the image of God, and he modeled for us a way of life that makes sense for how we are created. Here's how to dance the dance of life, he said: work, be creative, use your imagination, throw yourself into it, whether you are washing dishes, reading to your kids and running a household, or trading stocks, reading corporate reports, and running a business.
At the end of each day, stop.
Take a rest, eat a good meal, get enough sleep, and refresh yourself.
Take time to think about your day, to notice where God was in it and where you were blessed, and to say, "It's good."

Then go back at it the next day. And after six days, take a whole day off. And say, "It's really good." Spend a whole day just pausing, just reflecting on how really good it is, and then start the dance again, at a sustainable pace."
- Keri Wyatt Kent, author of Breathe

Photo of my collection after a day of rest

Friday, September 11, 2009

Time Heals?

When a tragedy happens, the popular saying "Time heals" is heard many times. I used to say it myself. But I've come to the conclusion that saying is incomplete. Time alone does not always heal.

My expanded version is - "Time heals, along with proper care to yourself and love from others and God."

We know that minor injuries or disease can heal with time alone. But many physical issues need rest and some help from bandaids, doctors, medicine, surgery, etc. or they worsen and can even cause more issues.

The same is true for emotional damage, which is harder to see and therefore easier to ignore. As time passes after a personal or national tragedy, we might be doing "okay" or at least, convincing ourselves and others that we are doing okay.

e've healed. We've moved on. We've gotten over it.

Healing is possible. Moving on is possible. I'm not sure what "getting over it" means. If it means living life as if it never happened, then that's (almost) impossible, because one doesn't get over a tragedy, one learns to live with a 'new normal'. If we don't process how the trauma of a tragedy affects us, our life could easily spiral off track (maybe years later) in small or big ways, even to the point of adding more tragedy to our own life or to others.

911 is one of those national tragedies that time alone didn't and won't heal.

Along with time passing, we all needed to take care of ourselves by checking the priorities of our own lives. We needed the love of others, especially to hear us talk about our fears in this new, strange landscape. We needed the peace and comfort of God to still our scared hearts and minds.

The people that lost loved ones needed to lean on others to process and grieve their loss. And they continue to need the love and understanding of their loved ones and of their fellow Americans, especially each year on the anniversary.

Songs, events and books showed support and gave strength to us, especially those affected the most. Monetary donations from across the world helped bring a measure of healing to individuals and businesses.

each following year - remembering those lost and sharing memories remind us that we aren't alone in reflecting on the tragedy of 9/11. Time alone does not heal, but with each other and God, healing can come.

We remember those lost and those who lost.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Speck of Dirt

I ignore the vibrating phone in my pocket as I chat with two friends. Thirty seconds later, I feel it again. I don't want to interrupt the conversation, so I multi-task and pull it out while staying focused on what my friend is saying. A quick glance tells me its my husband, Jerry. I touch the ignore button and put the phone back in my pocket. (oh, don't act shocked, you've done that already too) He calls most days when he's eating lunch, usually just to chat, and he knows if I don't answer right away, I'll call as soon as I can.

The phone vibrates again.

I steal another glance at the screen ... Call from Jerry.

I know three calls in a row means business. Excusing myself from the conversation I say, "Hello."

"Where are you?" A soft voice asks. Jerry is a quiet person with a soft voice, but it usually has energy. Today it sounds weak.

"I'm at church, finishing up iMoms." (an event for moms of young children I oversee)

"When will you be done?" The same quiet voice asks.

"Soon. Are you okay? Something wrong?"

"Guess I have something in my eye," he says. "A piece of dirt or roof shingle. It burns like crazy and I can hardly open my eye."

That sets the activities of the next few hours in motion.

A twenty mile drive brings me to the house under construction with his truck parked out front. He gets into my car with a hand over his left eye. "Any better?" I ask wistfully.

"No, it hurts like hell," he says, putting the visor down. "Yes, thought you have a light and mirror in here. Now let me see if I can find something." Two seconds later he says, "Darn, I can't even keep it open long enough to see anything."

And me, "Miss No-Nurse" - the only help I offer is saying, "Which hospital do you want to go to?" Jerry does all he can to avoid emergency rooms, plus he had lasik eye surgery a year ago, so his first choice is the eye doctor that performed that surgery.

Except - this is the day, no one is in that office.

Second choice is Dr. Pearson, the eye doctor he saw pre-lasik when he wore glasses. Her receptionist says the schedule is full today, but come on it, "We'll squeeze you in." During the twenty mile drive (almost back to church) Jerry's eye continues to feel worse. I multi-task again - driving and praying.

Dr. Pearson is exactly what you want an eye doctor to be - calm, steady and thorough. Drops to numb the eye give Jerry some relief as Dr. Pearson prepares her attack. Then lights, equipment and action - which includes flipping his eyelid inside out (no, I don't look, remember Miss No-Nurse here) and ten minutes after sitting in her chair, Jerry is all smiles as the pest is gone.
Dr. Pearson shows us the culprit. My eyes are good - but I can hardly see the tiny sliver of 'something' on her swab. It is just a speck! I'm amazed that tiny thing caused Jerry so much pain. His vision is fine, but she orders a nap (he's a happy man!) and says in a day or two the scratches will be healed.

As I watch the process - I can't help but think of other specks. Specks that annoy me in life, but instead of getting someone to help me, I try to fix them on my own and/or I stuff them. Jerry didn't have that choice today. He tried briefly to deal with the speck on his own by blinking and rubbing his eye - probably causing a few more scratches in the process - but he soon realized he couldn't fix it. The speck was only removed after he asked for help. Yes, he still needs some recovery time (snoring on the couch as I type :) but the culprit is gone.

Do I have any specks that are annoying me? Specks that if removed quickly won't cause much damage, but if not removed, could cause me more pain ... or worse, to lose my vision?


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Day by Day

I groan as I head to physical therapy - again. Following surgery on my foot, I'm only two weeks into a two-month process and the exercises are already tedious. Forty times left, forty times right, up and down, around in circles - I won't bore you with all the details of the exercises that I need to do day after day. (ever try picking up a towel with your toes? 40 times in a row!) Most of them feel insignificant and puny. No outward change is evident right away. I want a strong ankle ASAP. I'm not enjoying this day-by-day process.
Then it dawns on me - this is like my relationship with God. I want the result - having a strong connection to my creator and the change that can bring about in my life. But too often, I'm impatient and so busy looking for that result, I forget about the day-by-day choices that will get me to that place.

While doing physical therapy, I can't see the muscles and tendons in my ankle gaining strength. Most days, when I finish, it doesn't feel any stronger than it did an hour earlier. Actually, some days my ankle is tired and feels weaker than when I began the exercises. I have to go by the knowledge of how the body works and what my therapist tell me - these daily exercises will make my ankle strong again.

It is the same way with my connection to God - most times, I don't see anything happening in myself. It is peaceful and calm to read, pray, journal or be still and I often feel refreshed when I take time to connect with my creator, but I'm not holy when I finish. I am still a messy human. There's been no amazing change. No halo floating over me. I can get discouraged or I can choose to believe what God, pastors and others I trust say. Day by day, choice by choice - something is happening in me. I am getting stronger and becoming more the person I was created to be.

That promise helps me discipline myself to do exercises for my spirit - day after day. What exercises do you do for therapy for your spirit?

(Repost ... about an experience a few years ago)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Review of "Fearless" by Max Lucado

A few weeks ago, I signed up to review books for Thomas Nelson - the website describes the company like this ... "From humble beginnings in a village in Scotland 200 years ago to a modern-day publishing enterprise employing over 600 people, Thomas Nelson's goal has been to Honor God and Serve People."
Recently, I received the first book to review - Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear by Max Lucado, which is released in stores today. As I type that, I realize I am fearful about posting my first review - guess I better go back and reread the book.

Can we live our lives without fear? In Fearless - Lucado's wise and easy to read writing helps us understand how that is possible. He doesn’t take a Pollyanna approach and deny the realities of this world. He covers a range of subjects - money/health/doubt/personal and global disaster/etc. and “the stampede of fear out there” about them with logic, personal stories and Biblical truths. Because Fearless is realistic, it’s helpful and encouraging. He’s honest about his own fears. Yes, he has some, but he doesn't allow them to control his life.

I’m generally not a fearful person, but after a horrific accident, fear threaten to control me. Thanks to wise counsel, I’ve been able to process the trauma and not be controlled by fears. (most of the time) Fearless will help me continue on the journey of living fearlessly.
One of my favorite lines in the book is “Fear has never been famous for its logic.” (page 107) I know that when I make a decision based on my fears, it is rarely good. I’m also challenged by his thoughts that talking about fears brings them to light and helps dispel them. I will recommend Fearless to others.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Power of Words - plus Actions!

Tonight I was reminded (again) that words alone aren't always enough. Most times, they need to be accompanied by actions! Just saying I'm sorry can be easy - backing it up with actions, that's harder.
I had a time (words/actions - it was ugly) with a loved one that I should not have had. I know better. It was wrong. I should have taken a higher road.

It's so stinking hard to look at my own 'ugly' and then once I've see it, to know how to deal with it.
"I'm sorry" helped - but my following actions (or lack thereof) spoke louder than any words I said.
God - I'm so sorry!
Thank you that I can continually learn and grow. Thank you that I can ask for wisdom from you. And God, please help me recognize wisdom when I feel/see/hear it.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Use of Time

The average life expectancy worldwide is 67
Macau (in China) is 84

United States is 78

The lowest, Swaziland, is 39

There's an enormous gap of 45 years between the highest and lowest countries. Wow, people in Macau live over twice as long as people in Swaziland. Interesting - but that's a post for another day.

The point is everyone's life will end - this time we have will end. Depending on the day, that is a good thought, other days it makes me a little sad.
Each person in the world, whether they live to be 35 or 85, have 24 hours in a day - no more or no less. What am I doing with my time?

There are a zillion time management books out there and some are good. I do need to manage my time because there are many things in life to be done - so I need to be actively productive some hours every day. So do you ... no excuses allowed, managing time is a skill that can be learned.

As I wrote in
part 1 about Time what I call being productive with my time has and continues to change.
Years ago, thinking about time would make me want to do something to make my time count in a tangible way. Get up earlier, put more hours in at work, clean a room, make a meal, plan an event, organize - all good things that need to happen. But when that is all my life is about - I burnout or get depressed.

Time is not tangible
- I can't touch it, hold it or box it up and give it to you for your birthday. So some of what I do with my time isn't tangible either.

I like the lines that start a few verses of one of
J.R.R. Tolkien poems ...
"I sit beside the fire and think
Of all that I have seen ..."

Sometimes I sit and think. I am still. You see no activity. Not even a book in my hands. Sometimes it happens
spontaneously after reading or hearing something that needs pondering. So I stop what I'm doing and think about it. Other times, I plan it out. I read or listen to something challenging or thoughtful and then give myself time to sit and think about it. A warm afternoon in my hammock seems to work good for this. And I'm realizing if I go too long without some thinking time, I feel discontented and annoyed with life.

After these times, I
have nothing tangible to show for those minutes or hours. I doubt that I know more than I did before. I don't think my IQ went up. And if it was a question I was pondering, I rarely have an answer.

No answers. Nothing productive accomplished. What's the point? At times, I feel guilty for not 'doing' something with that time. Then I realize that I am more content with my life, I'm not depressed, I have hope and suddenly the things I could have been doing don't seem as important. After all, an organized office is overrated and the flowers hide almost all the weeds.

Another area of spending time is relationships. Meaningful time spent with others cannot be given a price. This is an area I am and need to learn more about.

Guess I'll go see if the hammock has any wisdom for me about that ...