Thursday, January 30, 2014

Photography

I like having a good camera.

I like taking pictures.

I like that I see things differently through the lens.  I gain a new perspective.

And I want to know how to better use my camera.  I want to better understand lighting and lenses.

I think I want to take a photography class.

But classes are expensive.

I've tried learning from online sources, even sources that claim to make it easy to understand.  But somehow it just doesn't click.

I want to focus by hand instead of by the auto focus on the camera.

I want to understand aperture and composition.

I want to know how to take indoor photos without using my flash.

I've done a couple of photo projects for friends, for community theatre and it has whet my appetite.

I want to do more and do it better.  I don't want to be a pro, I don't want to start a business.  I just want to feel like I know what I'm doing instead of getting lucky when I click.

Feel free to share your favorite online resources - I might need to sit down with my camera and some good websites and try again.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's Your Blog: Christy

One of the things that I love about blogging is that it's this perfect opportunity to share important stories with others.  I've been able to talk about my survival story and about parenting a bully.  Friends have guest posted about being a parent of a child with autism, escaping an abusive spouse, overcoming drug addiction.  I want this platform to be a place where we can share our stories and our journeys and inspire others. 

So I'm going to start an ongoing series called "It's Your Blog."  It basically just means that this space is yours.  If you have a story you would like to share, use the form to the right to contact me by email.  Or contact me in any of the ways you can (Facebook, Twitter, email, face to face, whatever).  I can help you write it, I can help you edit it, most of all, I can give your story a voice and an audience.  Need to be anonymous?  I can work with that, too.




Today's blog is from Christy.  She's someone I met years ago through Indy Moms.  We've stayed connected on Facebook.  She's an amazing and compassionate woman.  She owns a laundromat in a small town and when there was flooding, she provided laundry service for people who needed it.  She has a lot of life stories and experience that we can learn from - but this is an important one that she wanted to share.

***
I can breathe...

Literally for 2 months I have had a feeling I was going to suffocate.

Today, I am going to share a story with you and if you read it in its entirety, thank you. I promised myself and God 2 months ago that I would share this. If this saves even one person’s life, changes one mind or eases one's mind and moves them in the right direction, then my story was worth it.

A couple of months ago, I realized that I had been living a lie for the past 7 years. October came and everywhere I looked, I saw pink. Pink ribbons, pink shirts, pink socks, pink banners... the world turns pink in October. And as I do every year, and have done since my Breast Cancer diagnosis 13 years ago, I wear my pink ribbons, I tell my story, and most importantly I tell woman how important it is to get your mammograms. "Early detection can save your life, it saved mine" is what I have said over and over, year after year.

And it's true.

This is where the lie comes in, the lie, my lie, is that I had actually not had a mammogram in 7 years.

YES, you just read that correctly, for 7 years I have avoided the test that I claim will save your life. I just stopped going one year. Why? I got busy, I have been taking care of others, I forgot, I just didn't want to go, I just didn't want to know, I just... didn't go. So there I sat, at yet another "pink event", standing up and smiling as they recognize the survivors, living my little lie. But this time it was different, I broke, I broke this bond that I had made with myself and I approached the table with pink pens, pink balloons and even a cheerful lady wearing pink who was scheduling mammograms.

At that moment, that very second, I broke.

I made an appointment and I told myself that I had to do it, I had to step out of this zone I had sunk into and I HAD to keep this appointment. The best way to commit to something so fragile, something that you know you can "always cancel" is to confess the truth to your best friend and then make her promise you that she will in no way let you cancel. I did just that. That evening I cried as I sent the text to Melissa. I made her promise me that no matter what, I would make that appointment. She called me, stalked me, drove me insane, and it worked, I made it to that appointment.

On my lunch break, I drove myself there, registered, changed into the comfy robe, and I was on my way to putting this feat behind me.

Two hours later I was devastated to find out that 4 lumps had been found in my left breast. I wanted to run, I wanted to break the promise, I wanted to go back to not knowing...I wanted to go back to the lie.

The fear set in, the feeling that your body is on fire, has been with me since that October day. Of course I instantly thought to myself that no one needed to know, in particular our kids and my parents. They would be devastated. I chose wisely who I would tell. Some were obviously going to have to know- Jade, Melissa, my employer, and a handful of friends that were sworn to secrecy. I have spent sleepless nights wondering if this was my last Thanksgiving, my last Christmas, would I really make it to Florida for Spring Break, all of the questions that go through your mind when you face Cancer.

A lot of raw emotions that came back from 13 years ago.

But one feeling kept sneaking up on me, the one that haunted me in my sleep, that caught me in the middle of a giggle with the kids, the one that stopped me in my tracks, and the one that caused me to make crazy choices about work, life, and in general...

WHY DID I WAIT 7 YEARS?? It was like playing Russian Roulette with my life. Would these 4 lumps have been seen earlier? Of course. Did I just seal my own fate? Possibly. Since that day I have spent a lot of time thinking, praying, crying, and being angry at myself. I also spent a lot of time having scans, tests, aspirations, biopsies and finally surgery. Again, only a handful of people knew, per my wish. Not being able to talk to my mom and dad was probably the hardest. I hated not telling them, but I hated more the fact that this would only cause them heartache and fear, so I did the selfish thing, I kept it from them. I finally told them what had happened, and needless to say they were furious with me, I may even be grounded!

On the day of my surgery, my Doctor, who I adore, told me she would call me as soon as the pathology reports were in. At this point, three of the areas were clear, and the last one had been biopsied once and was still suspicious, so it was completely removed during this surgery. So we waited all weekend, me, Jade and my small select group...we waited for the results. At 3:57, Dr. Kennedy called to let me know that the news was good, there was no Cancer! Thank God! I quickly started calling and sharing the good news and I cried, I cried a lot. As I mentioned, I told my parents that evening, and I cried. It felt so good to tell them, and it felt even better to reassure them that I am okay.

For those of you that have read this far, you may wonder why I felt compelled to share this story. It is simple. I made a promise to myself and to God, in the wee hours of the night, in the dark rooms, at my kids’ ballgames, when I heard of another life lost to Cancer, I made a promise, a promise to share my lie.

 I share it with all of you in hopes that if you need to have your mammogram, if you are finding every reason why not to do it, that if you need that one reassurance to go do it, I AM YOUR REASON! My lie could have cost me everything. We can only learn from our mistakes, and we can lead by example.

Please let me lead you in the right way.


I also wanted to take this time to thank those that helped us during this time. From praying, taking me to appointments, keeping my ice packs frozen, picking the kids up from school, taking them to practices, feeding them, picking me up and dusting me off, ignoring my madness, dropping off food, keeping Jade sane, excusing my madness, reading this very long post, listening to me cry, handing me Kleenex after Kleenex, helping with our business, dealing with my madness, all in all...just being there... I say "Thank you, thank you so very much"!


- Christy

***

Thank you, Christy, for sharing this message.  And it's such an important reminder.  I have to confess - I haven't been taking care of myself.  As I am approaching 40 this year, I need to suck it up and make my appointment for a mammogram and also get back on track with annual visits to the gynocologist.  My confession?  I haven't been since the follow up post-birth visit for Zach.  6 years ago.  It's time and your story is such an important reminder of that.  

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Praying

From time to time, I like to offer to pray for people.

All the time, I like to pray for others, with others.

I believe in prayer as an important part of my faith, of my relationship with God.

I believe that my purpose is to love others and one of the greatest ways I can love others is to pray for them.

Sometimes, when I ask, I get a few people who have prayer requests.  Sometimes the requests are very serious.

Yesterday, I asked.  I usually just post on Facebook and send out a text to some close friends or family members.

The response was almost overwhelming.

I wrote down all the requests so that I can carry them with me.

More than 40 people responded.  And I had some of my "regulars" on my list, too.

When I say I am going to pray for you, I mean it.

It might mean I stop right then and lift you in prayer.

It might mean I set aside time and sit with my list and pray over your name specifically.

It might mean I pray over the list and then take time to read Scripture as I stay connected in prayer.

Sometimes I take prayer requests to some of my other prayer warriors because more is needed.

I maintain confidences, of course.

You know what else?  Even if you don't believe in God or you just aren't sure about faith... you can still ask me to pray for you and the concerns or the joys that you are facing.

One of the best ministries in our church is our prayer ministry.  One of the things the prayer partners do is a monthly opportunity for people at church to come into a private and quiet setting and sit with a prayer partner so that someone else can raise up their prayer requests with them.

Maybe you've been praying about something for a while now.  And maybe you're struggling to hear, struggling to be still so you can listen, struggling with the answers you think you're getting.  And maybe asking someone else to step in and pray with you, to help you carry the burden, to simply be another voice can make a difference.


Please don't ever be afraid to ask me to pray for you.

And please don't ever be afraid to ask if you can pray for others.


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Thursday, January 23, 2014

These Are the Women in Your Neighborhood



This weekend is the annual Women's Retreat at my church.  I am really, really looking forward to it.

The retreat is a newer thing for our church.  We've had a beach theme one year, a cozy lodge theme the next, and this year's theme is chocolate!!!  The retreat will have a Scripture based theme and fun activities and interesting conversation topics and a missions project.  A group of us will connect to our teen years and have a sleepover at church.  And I'm sure there will be ample amounts of chocolate!

But here's what I have loved best of all about the retreat the past 2 years and am hoping for this weekend...

The bonding, the intimacy, the connecting with the women in my neighborhood (aka my church family).

Who are the women in your neighborhood? In your neighborhood? In your neighborhood?

Oh she sings with the Worship Team.
And I think she's really keen.
She's my friend named Tiffany!
And she's pretty and funny and sweet.

Oh Tiffany's a woman in my neighborhood! In my neighborhood! In my neighborhood! 
Tiffany's a woman in my neighborhood, a person that I love each day.

Eh, you get the idea.  The women who are part of my church are important to me.  I have some close friendships thanks to my church.  One of the greatest gifts I've received each year at this retreat is the opportunity to deepen existing relationships and also connect to women that I've not been able to spend time with before.

And there's one other thing I'm expecting... lots of hugs.  Some of my favorite moments in retreats past are the moments where you could simply reach out and hold someone's hand, put an arm around someone, get a hug.  Or maybe even hold on to someone and weep uncontrollably through insane laughter when you're supposed to be singing a song about friendship (you know who you are).

The bond between women is an important one.  I truly believe that we feed one another in a way that is hard to describe with words.  Care and attention and compassion must be given to these relationships because they are truly so important.  A strong network of women can make an incredible impact.

Oh the women's retreat starts tomorrow
And I leave my family with little sorrow
Because I know they will be fine
And I really really need this time

I need this time with women in my neighrborhood, in my neighborhood, in my neighborhood!
It keeps me sane this time with women in my neighborhood, the women that I love each day!


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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Oh, But I Do

From time to time, I have the honor of being able to share someone's story of struggle and survival.  It might be my own or it might be someone I love and sometimes, it might be someone I have met but don't know well.  That's today's post.

Many years ago, there was a magical part of the internet called Indy Moms.  Our local newspaper, owned by a national company, started this online community.  It was a place where we could post about nonsense, get advise on serious problems, share stories about our kids.  And the coolest thing happened.  Real friendships were formed.  A community developed.  We came to truly care about one another.  Even those that you maybe didn't get along with - you still cared about what happened to them.  Real life meet ups happened, real life friendships formed.  And a lot of those friendships carry on today - even though the site no longer exists and the community only has Facebook to use as a conversation forum.

One of the women that I knew from Indy Moms was Amy.  I didn't know her very well.  But she was funny and smart and adorable.  She became friends with some moms that I was connected to so I knew her in a roundabout kind of way.  She loaned me a dress for Teagan once.  She was a single mom with an adorable daughter.  When the site shut down and we all stayed connected on Facebook, Amy was one of those moms.  And then she disappeared.

People have asked about her, remembered her, wondered.

So imagine how thrilled I was not so long ago when I got an email from her.  She's continued to be a blog reader (staying connected, even if it was one sided).  And when I last put out a call for guest posts?  Amy wants to share her story.

And I honored that Amy wants to share her story here on the pages of Eternal Lizdom.  I hope you read it, learn from it, feel inspired... and leave her some love and support in the comments.

*****

As I sit here and write this, I have company.  Eighteen homeless women and two homeless children to be exact.

I work for Wheeler Mission Ministries in Indianapolis as a Winter Contingency Monitor at the WMM Center for Women and Children.  Our shelter is the designated winter overflow site for Indianapolis.  During the winter months, women and children come and stay in our building when it is too cold for them to bear it outside.

Some of the women who come to our shelter do so every winter; they are chronically homeless - and they are content with that lifestyle.  Some women come through our doors completely shell-shocked.  They have been evicted, put-out, or are escaping an unsafe situation.

We feed them, clothe them, and give them a safe and warm place to sleep.  We also connect them with resources we offer at WMM or we help them connect with resources that are a better fit for them and their situation.

Once in awhile one of them will "go off" on me.  I don't take it personal; some of these women have very tough personalities from time spent on the streets.  They will tell me I don't have a clue about them or their struggles.  And that is when I say:

"Oh, but I do."

You see, a little over a year ago I wasn't far removed from these ladies.  I was one of them.  In October 2012 I walked through the very same doors utterly broken--I was a drug addict with no place to go.  In the days before, I had signed over custody of my daughter to her dad and called up friends to tell them what was going on.  I had been a drug addict for years.  Pills, mostly.  Whatever I could get my hands on, I took.  I was a typical addict.  I lied, cheated, stole, manipulated, and lied some more.  Later on I learned that I was addicted to other things--being the victim, for instance.  Holding resentment.  Whining and complaining.  I was a mess, and though I had done a fairly decent job of hiding it, what was done in the dark came to the light.  It always does.

As I entered into Wheeler Mission's long term addiction recovery program, the thought of being there for a year plus scared the you-know-what outta me.  I wanted to quit more than once.  There were times I felt as if I were living under a microscope (and in a sense I was) and wanted to go out on the streets and try my luck there.  But I stayed put.  And slowly I began to heal.  It wasn't a steady climb.  It was more like long plateaus followed by realizations that I hurt less.

I faced my demons and slayed them.  My relationship with my family is being restored.  My body is being restored (I have slept better this past year than I have in the previous five years combined).  I learned that I can both enjoy and face life's trials without pills to numb me.  My daughter, Holly, is thriving in her home with her dad and soon-to-be stepmom.  Holly is so smart and beautiful and she is restoring her trust in me.  As I write this she is one week away from turning 9 and I thank God everyday that He delivered me from addiction so that I will be able to be part of her life as she grows up.

As for me personally…I am humbled every single day to know that the place (Wheeler) that literally saved my life had faith in me and offered me a job.

These ladies that I work with constantly remind me of Jesus' commandment to love the Lord your God with all your being and to love your neighbor as yourself.  I am thankful and honored to be able to give back what has been given to me.

I truly love "my ladies" as I call them.  They give me strength to keep loving (difficult as it may be sometimes) and serving for the glory of God.  I believe God also has me in this position to help me be vigilant in remembering how desperate I was when I walked through these doors.  Desperate to live.  Desperate to live free of addiction.  Desperate to heal.


A lot has changed for me in the past year.  Some dreams had to be let go.  But that's okay.  Because right where I am is where I need to be. And it makes room for even bigger dreams. 

- Amy 


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Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Child Shall Lead Me

I've been reflecting a bit this afternoon.  About learning important things.

For me.

From Teagan.



This girl can sure put me through the wringer.  She can push my buttons like nothing else.  Sometimes her choices leave me... embarassed.  Frustrated. Uncertain of my parenting.  That doesn't happen often but it's been a big part of parenting to learn that lesson so early in this job.

Most days, I enjoy her humor and her thought process and her energy and her need for affection.

Recently, she has impacted my life in 3 big ways.

First, a random little comment.  But it meant so much.  I was getting ready for work.  Actually, I was looking in the mirror in the bathroom, trying to decide if I really had to go through and take the flat iron to my hair or if I could somehow make the sticking out parts pass for stylish.  I'm a low maintenance mama so if I can skip a big to-do over my hair, I'm all for it.  Teagan walked in to the bathroom, looked at me and said, "You're so pretty."  And then walked out.  A simple compliment that meant a lot.  She and I have been talking lately about how people have seen a picture of me from when I was around her age and they say she looks just like me.  And I've been an advocate before - if you tell your child they look like you and then you criticize how you look, you are criticizing your child.  Her confidence has been boosting lately and I felt like her compliment to me wrapped around to also be a compliment to herself.

Me and my mom, circa... 1983, maybe?

Second, I had a major proud mama moment and I have gushed to her about it privately because I wanted her to know that I was happy with her.

Today, Teagan and I went to my sister-in-law's baby shower.  We made friends with 2 women at our table - one a friend of my sister in law's and one a co-worker of my sister in law.

The games started.  The third game was a word un-scramble.  The friend we were sitting with and I (with Teagan as my helper) both tied and won (candles were the prize).  A couple more games go by.  Teagan, being a rather competitive child, is enjoying them.  I remind her, gently, once or twice, that we already won.  Another game comes up and Teagan and the co-worker end up talking through it, working together.  Teagan wins the game.  Another candle.  She passes it to the two women so they can smell it.  She then asks the co-worker which one she likes best... and then gives her that candle.  The woman tried to run it down and Teagan said, "Oh no! You and I worked together on that game! And my mom and I already won something.  I want you to have it!"

I don't know that I could have felt more proud.  And humbled at the same time.



Third.  Gulp.  This one is going to require some big changes.

Teagan's class worked on New Year's Resolutions at school.  From what she has told me, they each set a resolution for school and for home.

Her resolution for home?

She wants to start running.

Just like Mommy used to do.  Hard to believe it's been 3 years since I peaked.  And then quit.

So we're formulating a plan.  She wants to start running in the evenings 3x per week after winter - say, in March.  Which is ideal for me to do Couch to 5K.  But I'm so out of shape now that I still won't keep up with her.

I need to start now.

So it's time to get organized.  Time to start hitting the gym on my lunch hour.  Walking on the treadmill.  Riding a bike.  Hitting the elliptical.  It's time to go through my workout clothes, evaluate my shoes, pack a gym bag.

Because my daughter wants to run.  With me.  And she wants to do a 5K in June.

My child shall lead me.



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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Let's Read A Book!

I love to read.  There is something magical about getting lost in someone else's life, in another world, in another time through the pages of a book.  I love falling head over heels into the life of a character... and hating to see the end of the book because it means my relationship with them is over.

Few things in life are as a lovely as a hot bubble bath, a glass of red wine, and a good book.

Or a weekend where I can tear through a book in a day.

Those things don't happen too often anymore.

I enjoy reading but don't seem to have much time for it.

I also know that one of the best ways for kids to become readers is for kids to see their parents reading for their own enjoyment.  Reading to your kids and with your kids is important - but one of the biggest influences is parents who have their nose in a book.

I am currently reading "What Alice Forgot" by Liane Moriarty.  It's about a woman who hits her head and suddenly forgets the last 10 years.  And her life is very different than she had imagined it would be.  So the story is kind of working backwards... how did things get to this point?  I'm enjoying it and am about halfway through.  I have a small stack of books to read... "Overextended and Loving Most of It" by Lisa Harper, "Starter House" by Sonja Condit, and there is a book club at church that I would love to be more involved with so I will have to review their list for this year.

On my list of "want to read or reread:"
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
The Ocean At The End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon
Her: A Memoir by Christa Parravani
Give Me Everything You Have by James Lasdun
We Are Water by Wally Lamb
After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse by Charlaine Harris
Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld

And actually... my list of "want to read" on Goodreads is 60+ (some for me, some for Teagan).

Teagan is a reader and tends to have a couple books going on at once.  She is a big fan of Geronimo Stilton (a series of chapter books about a mouse detective) so she almost always has a Geronimo book somewhere.  For Christmas, she received "The One and Only Ivan" by Katherine Applgate.  It's about a gorilla who lives at a small circus in a mall and is friends with an elephant and a dog.  Ivan, the gorilla, enjoys art.  That's about as much as we've learned so far.  We're reading this one together simply because this book has been on my list for a while so I was thrilled that she got it for Christmas from a family member.

Zach enjoys being read to and is getting stornger in reading on his own.  He likes to deny his reading ability.  He will read something on a sign or on the TV screen and if we say "Zach! Did you read that?" - he claims he just knew or he guessed.  But he is steadily moving through the reading levels at school and is starting to share that more and more at home.  I'm hoping that Teagan's love for Geronimo Stilton will pass along to Zach - they are books that can easily be enjoyed by boys and girls.

Jeff is currently reading "Divergent" by Veronica Roth.  It's been made into a movie which comes out in a few months.  I'd like to read it when he is done since there is a chance we will see the movie.  I almost always prefer to read the book prior to seeing the movie.

What are you reading right now?  Or what have you read recently that you recommend?

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It Could Have Changed My Life

Sometimes, there are moments when I look back at my childhood and I can see exactly where a different choice would have changed things drastically.  Typically, I'm looking at things I could have done differently.  If I would have said this... if I would have spoken up then... but of course, as a child, I can't take responsibility for those things.

In case you aren't aware - I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

Last night, I went to a parent meeting for an upcoming program being presented in some of the grades in our elementary schools.  It's presented by Chaucie's Place - Smart Steps Body Safety Program.

This is an advocacy group that goes into schools and teaches kids that their bodies are in their own control, how to say no, what private parts are.

They showed a video of a recorded presentation done a few years ago in a 4th grade class.

I watched it.  And tears leaked from my eyes through most of it.  Not sad tears, necessarily.  Not "having a break down" tears.

But the message being given to kids is powerful and important.  These are the private parts of your body, this is a good touch vs a bad touch, you are empowered to say NO, tell an adult and keep telling until someone listens, it's never your fault.

The presentation is very high energy and the kids are engaged from the start.  The presenter was friendly and knew exactly how to handle the giggles when body parts were discussed.

And I watched.  And I thought... I wonder if things would have been different if I'd heard this in Kindergarten?  Maybe not.  There was still a lot of fear and threats at that point.  But the presentation to 2nd grade?  Maybe.  Or the presentation in 4th grade?  Which includes an opportunity to privately express if someone has ever touched you?  Yep.  I think by 4th grade I would have said something if someone had directly asked me.

This program might have changed my life.

Can't say it would have been for the better.  No way to know.  My abuse ended around 5th grade when we moved to a new city, away from my abuser.

My past is what it is.  Nothing can change that.  But seeing that presentation and knowing the potential power, knowing what it could possibly do in a child's life...

It could have changed my life.  And it could change a child's life now.

If you have kids and you haven't talked to them about this very difficult subject, please do.  There is a great book by Gavin De Becker called "Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)."  I highly recommend it.  Teach your kids the correct names for their body parts.  Teach them what private means.  Teach them ownership of their private body parts and empower them to say no to any kind of touch involving their bodies (yes, this might mean not hugging a family member when we feel shy).  Being touched on private parts without a good reason or because of a game... is not ok.  And programs like Smart Steps Body Safety can be an important tool for kids - along with the teaching and guidance and support of their parents.

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Oh, the Drugs

I feel like I've lost most of the last 5 days.

On Thursday, I underwent oral surgery to remove 4 wisdom teeth.  I had "laughing gas" and an IV drug to knock me out for the procedure.

I was given Penicillin and ibuprofen to start taking before the procedure.  And I filled a scrip for demerol and phenergan.

I was nervous.  I have high dental anxiety.  Some people don't like the dentist.  I've had to work my way to simply not liking going to the dentist.  I spent years avoiding the dentist because of my anxiety and fear.

I remember being impressed that the surgeon invented the gas mask - instead of a mask that simply flows the gas into your breathing space, this has little tubes that sit just inside your nostril to direct the gas and oxygen into your nostrils.  In addition, there is a tube that sucks out the stuff you exhale.

I rarely have good IV experiences - my veins can be kinda funny.  But this woman knew her stuff.  I told her about my tricky veins and she responded by giving my arm a massage.  I thought that was a pretty sweet deal.  I didn't even realize when the needle went in!

I had my trusty old teddy bear with me.  I had joked about bringing him when I went for the consultation and was told I actually could.  So I actually did.  My old bear has been through everything with me so he may as well come along for this journey, too.

I did wake up once during the procedure.  Apparently the lower left tooth was a "bugger to get out."  All I remmeber is this intense ripple of pain that shot down my spine and woke me up.  Then I was aware that someone was hodling my hand.  I looked over and it was the nice lady who had done the magic IV in my arm.  I smiled and went back out.

I don't remember walking to the recovery room.  I just remember sitting there and Jeff was there and my friend Lisa, the surgical assistant, was talking to him about the procedure and about taking care of me.

I remember she sent him to pull the car around to a back door and I remember thinking it was a really good thing not to send post-surgery patients out through the lobby where we would most likely terrify other patients.

I remember waiting by the back door for Jeff to show up.

I don't remember getting in the car.  I don't remember the drive home.

I remember Jeff refreshing my ice packs, leaving to pick up the kids, Jeff having to buy more ice because the ice maker wasn't keeping up with my ice pack demand.  I remembering feeling glassy and melty all at the same time.  I remember eating ice cream and it felt all wrong.  I remember waiting for soreness as my numbness wore off but I had gotten ahead on my pain meds so it never hit.

I have learned that demerol is a strong drug for me.  I took it every 4 hours the first day or so and then stretched it out to every 5 hours and then 6.  When I took it, within an hour, my hands and feet would feel very far away and heavy.  If I closed my eyes, I could feel my face get softer and softer until it felt like it might just melt right off.  And then I'd go to sleep.  For hours.

And once the demerol ran out, the soreness kicked in.  Thankfully, there is no pain or discomfort in the sockets.  But that pesky bugger on my left side... that jaw feels like it got pnched in a bar fight.  So I'm continuing the ibuprofen at a higher dose for another few days.

I'm still scared to eat really solid, chewy foods.  I'm sticking to soft and swallowable stuff and using chewing gum a few times each day for jaw strengthening work.  I've got this terrible ick fear factor of getting food out of the holes in my jaw.  So I think I'll just wait a few more days before I rush too far ahead of myself.

One of the best things was the tenderness I experienced from my daughter.  With the ups and downs of her attitude these days, I wasn't sure how things would be.  But she was tender and sweet with me.  She got me water and such when I asked.  And just last night, when all the drugs had worn off and I was overcome with the soreness and had a bit of a meltdown on the floor... my sweet little girl took my face in her hands and encouraged me to "Breath, breath, breath..."

So we're not done yet.  There is still a healing process ahead of us.  I think I've gotten through the hardest days, though.  And I had the love and support of family and friends - that's the part that always makes healing the best.

Me and my old brown teddy bear, right after getting home.

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wisdom Teeth

I am having my wisdom teeth removed today.  All 4 of them.

Prayers are appreciated.

Dentists and I aren't big friends.  I've had a lot of dental anxiety over the past 20 + years.  So the idea of going in to have surgery done on my mouth is pretty scary.

One thing that definitely helps is that a friend of mine is the assistant.  So she was there for my consultation and that alone makes me feel better.

And she told me it's ok to bring my teddy bear.  Which I actually will.

Jeff will be taking care of me.  He always does a great job taking care of me in these situations.  He will take me to my appointment, be the person who waits on me, bring me home, and stay close as I rest.  I'm hoping he won't have the video camera out when I'm all doped up!  I have no intention of being the next YouTube sensation.

I've made up a medication schedule so that Jeff will be fully prepared to medicate me over the next few days.

I'm getting suggestions to be ready to live on melted ice cream, jello, soda, juice, and pudding.

One of the teeth is causing pain which is why this is happening very fast.  And I think the pain will be relieved after the surgery - replaced by the pain of healing!

So if you can spare a few good thoughts and prayers for me over the next few days, I'll take it.  Hopefully there won't be any loopy blog posts going up in the next couple of days!!  But if I seem to say something totally out of character, we will blame it on the pain meds, ok?

Feel free to share your stories of wisdom teeth removal and your best advice for recovery.  Jeff will share your comments with me and your well wishes.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Frozen In

I haven't been outside of my home since Saturday evening.

On Saturday, we joined the masses and bought up necessities at the grocery store.  As a family that eats outside of the home regularly (restaurants, at school, at work, etc), we had food but we didn't have full meals.  We planned for chili, tacos, lasagna, pizza, chicken, eggs and bacon, cinnamon rolls, sandwiches, baked potatoes.

It started snowing on Sunday morning.  Church was cancelled.  I enjoyed taking pictures of the accumulating snow throughout the day.  In the end, we got around a foot of snow.


Then came the temperature change.  The temp stayed around 30-32 on Sunday.  Then it started to drop.  By Monday morning, it was -10 with a wind chill of -40.  School wasn't going back until Jan 7 so that wasn't a concern.  Both of our workpalces ended up staying closed as all the area counties were under travel warning - meaning don't be on the road unless it is a true emergency.

I haven't been outside of my home since Saturday evening.  My husband and kids haven't been outside of our house aside from a little playing or a lot of shoveling on Sunday.

We are on day 3 of being locked in, snowed in, frozen in together.  Just the 4 of us.

We did fine for 2 days.  Not much drama or snippiness.  Some.  But not a lot.

Today might be different.  Today we might be tired of the movies and video games and barbies and action figures and games.  Today we might be done with cooking and washing dishes and folding laundry and cleaning out closets.

Today might be the day we turn on each other.

Which makes me wonder about other families.  Families that have been on the verge of falling apart... does this situation make it worse?  Or do they find something of value in their family and find a reason to forge on?  Do people find that they have a will or desire to help people that they didn't know they had before?  Do neighbors show their true colors by snow blowing the sidewalks for everyone - or by snowblowing for everyone except one or two?  Or only snowblowing for themselves?

These are the kinds of situations where true colors come out.  Do we open our homes and businesses and such in order to help others?  Or do we seal in?  Do we stay indoors and out of the way of emergency responders and road crews?  Or do we brave the elements and make ourselves go to work?

I'm blessed to be able to just watch from my window.  To be indoors.  To have a furnace and pipes and a water heater that are functioning without issue.  To have a home filled with food.  To have movies and games and books and entertainment.  To be safe and warm.


By this weekend, there will be 40 degree temps and rain.  Which will mean flooding.  Which will mean a whole new round of issues and troubles.

But for now... we're frozen in for another day.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Gratitude Jar: Round 2

Last year, I was excited to start a Gratitude Jar.

I found my jar, buried in some junk mail (it was a big pile), a few days ago.

And I enjoyed the slips of paper I had put in.

All five entries.

Oops.  Guess I forgot to keep it going.


A friend is "challenging" me to try again.

And this time, I think I can do it.  My mind is in such a better place than a year ago.  Last year, I had to focus on gratitude to survive.  I was in such a low place.  This year, gratitude flows more freely.

Here's my goal - to take time each week to focus on gratitude for the week behind.

My friend and I will be helping to keep each other accountable.  How about you?  How would your life be different if you focused on the events and happenings in your week that fill you with gratitude?

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: Verse and Word

In previous years, I have selected a word of the year.  Something to focus on as the year went along.  And I'd focus on it for about a month and then forget about it until the New Year would roll around and I would see the old blog post from the year before and laugh about how the word did or didn't apply to the year that had past.

Whew.

This year, something different has been on my heart.

I blogged recently about a little boy in our Christmas program at church and the fantastic way he read a specific Bible verse.  And that verse has come up a few times since then.

I started thinking that I should determine a Bible verse for the year.  And that one verse kept coming to mind.

Even this morning, I was thinking I would sit down and spend some time in the Bible, looking for "my" verse for 2014.

First, I checked my email.  I get a daily devotional from The Upper Room.  And the Bible verse that the day's devotional is based on?  Yep - it's that specific verse.  And specifically, someone who was dealing with depression.

Today's Devotional

Last summer after a lengthy hospital stay, I struggled through a deep depression. After listening to a recording about eliminating fear, I got out an index card and wrote out Philippians 4:6-7. I stuck it up on my bathroom mirror and soon had it memorized.

Right away, I noticed a difference in my thinking. When I began to worry, the words of scripture came right into my mind as if God were speaking to me: “Do not be anxious about anything,” followed by the admonition to pray. Right then, I’d pray about my worry; and almost immediately, it would vanish. Over and over again, my prayers were answered. Wow! It was all true, just as the scripture said. God’s peace has helped me to keep my mind and heart focused on Christ Jesus.

My depression finally lifted in the autumn. I used many methods to work through the depression, including counseling, medication, and exercise. It all helped, but nothing was more effective in lifting me out of the darkness than God’s clear words in Philippians 4:6-7.

Christina Friberg (Colorado, USA)

Now, I am not trying to suggest that prayer is going to be a magical cure all that will make any worrisome situation have the outcome that I desire.  Prayer doesn't work that way.  But turning to a conversation with God as a first response... that is always the best choice.  It doesn't have to be 30 minutes on my knees.  It can be a quick moment of simply calling out to Him.  Prayer has many forms.  And my worries?  Well, they aren't always just for me.  I worry about friends dealing with in-laws and ailing family members, I worry about family members with difficult relationships, I worry about friends in financial difficulties, I worry about friends who have pulled away, I worry about trusting my friends.  Yes, I pray for them.  But I usually worry and mull it all over first.  Instead, I need to pray first.

Pray and be thankful.

So my verse for 2014 is Philippians 4:6 and my word for 2014 is Prayer.


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