Sunday, August 22, 2010

A witness to God’s grace

Over the past week or so I’ve had the opportunity to witness God’s grace first hand. It has been beautiful and excruciating at times.

To understand I’ll have to take you back to middle school. That’s when a new family moved in to our neighborhood. The Butlers had two girls, Robin and Jill. Robin was my age. Jill was two years younger than us.

Robin and I became fast friends. We had a so much in common: a love of sports, dance, music, even some mischief. But Robin was different from many of my friends. Even at that young age, I could see her love for Christ. Little did any of us know back then that love and faith would carry her through this week.

Robin and I lost touch after high school. We kept up with each other through our parents (our moms both did the neighborhood walk in the morning). That was how I found out about Jill’s brain tumor.

It didn’t seem real. Jill was always so full of life. She was always smiling, laughing, in to something. And she was Robin’s little sister – it just didn’t seem real or fair. I remember being upset and angry that someone so young, beautiful, and Christian had to go through something so horrible.

But Jill beat the odds for six years. Thanks to facebook – I got to keep up with Jill and Robin first hand. Jill would make posts about praying to keep the chemo pills down…. and how she couldn’t wait to have dinner at Rosie’s. I don’t know why I remember those things. I have 500 friends on facebook and Jill’s posts always stayed with me. Maybe it was because she was always upbeat. Maybe it was because I knew one day we would lose her and I wanted to hold on to what I could.

This weekend I learned something truly amazing about Jill. Robin told me she was never scared. Not when the doctor told her she had a tumor. Not when she realized her time was getting small. Jill truly had no fear. What a testament! I What a wonderful way to glorify our God!

And her family is just as faithful. In the days before Jill passed, I left a note for Robin on facebook letting her know I was thinking of her and praying for her. She responded by saying the coming weeks would be hard but “God is so good.”

Her faith was just as strong at Jill’s visitation Saturday. She was hurting – no doubt about it. But there was a calm about her that you can’t get from anything but faith. And that calm didn’t stop with Robin. Her sweet parents had the same serenity about them. You could feel their trust in the Lord and their faithfulness.

I thought about closing by telling Jill to rest in peace. But that would not be fitting for Jill. Jill, have a party in heaven tonight – show them how its done. Those of us here on earth will do our best to watch out for and love your family.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I want to write

I want to write. I realize those who know me best are probably thinking, "duh, you already do". I want to write something else.

I write news copy everyday. It is what I am paid to do. I proof read copy turned in by anchors and reporters. I decide what stories are presented everyday at 5:00. Truth be told, I'm pretty good at it. I'm not sure where it comes from - but it comes naturally because I've never had any schooling for it.

But something else I mean I want to write something that's actually read - not spoken. There's something about words on a page - if written well they can reach deep down inside a person and touch that person's soul.

I want to write something other than a script. Something that I don't have to time. Something that can potentially leave the page and touch someone's soul.

Here's the thing... I have no idea what to write about. I don't know if I should write fiction. Maybe I should try non-fiction. After all - I've had some amazing experiences. I've met major political figures, I've been to a women's prison to interview a woman convicted of hiring a hitman to kill her husband, I've seen towns leveled by severe weather - and seen members of the community come together to help each other, and I've seen first hand the process of dealing with old age - and the frustrations that come with losing abilities and having to depend on others, and I've experienced REAL friendship - probably more than most, definately more than I deserve. I've seen the worst of mankind, I've seen the best of mankind, and I've seen the people who slip through the cracks.

I want to share these things with anyone who's interested - I just don't even know where to begin... or if anyone's even interested :-)

Blogging is a great outlet for me... but I want to go bigger.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I think I can, I think I can

Today I did my first real workout with a real personal trainer at a real gym. Holy Cow! I thought I was going to keel over more than once... and the sad thing is my assessment tests show that I'm reasonably fit already (I about keeled over when I saw THAT too).

Here's what I learned today. A 30 minute workout in a gym with free weights and machines is MUCH more difficult than a 1 hour ballet class.

Today I did things I've never contemplated doing during a workout. I used free weights - that was actually kind of fun. And I used a pull up machine. It helps you do pull ups so you aren't just hanging from the bar. Believe it or not that was SO much fun.

My goal is to do my current workout circuit 2-4 times in one session. I cannot even fathom doing 3 right now - much less 4.

My other goal is to work out every day. I'm only going to do my workout routine 3-4 days a week, the other days I plan to swim. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy that. I love shutting out the world - no noise, no distractions, no stress. Just me and the water.

If I accomplish those goals at the end of the first two weeks I get a massage. Once I get to the point I can do my circuit 4 times in a session I get a hot stone massage!

On a side note, after my workout I shared the whirlpool with a bunch of Vipers (our arena football team). They were HUGE - and I was way to sore and tired to be self conscious. It made me feel better that they were in just as much pain as I was!

So wish me luck - hopefully I'll be able to sport a bikini in a couple years when me and my college girls go on our cruise!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The big C

I got home from work today - rushing to put up groceries and get supper fixed for me and Novie (yes it was pizza, no not delivery). I preheated the oven, put the pie in to cook and began washing strawberries and blueberries for desert.

I sat down and turned on the computer while I waited for the pizza. When I opened my facebook account I found a truly gut-wrenching message. The third one I've had in recent years.

A dear friend just learned he has cancer. He is my age. We've known each other for close to 10 years. We've seen each other at our best - and at our worst. He is newly married and just learned that he will be a father for the first time after the first of the year.

And as it always seems to happen - this is not someone I would picture when hearing the word cancer. Being hurt in a car wreck, yes. Falling off the porch and breaking his neck, yes. Accidentally shooting himself in the foot, possibly. But cancer, no. Not this one.

And I don't know why I'm so floored. As I mentioned -this is the third time I've been floored in the past year or so.

The first was Stacey. And girl if you're reading this you are the poster child of strength, class, and most of all faith. Stacey has taken that cancer and shown it who is boss. It was a shock though. I was in her (first) wedding. We stumbled our way through college together. Stacey - I'm so proud of you. I gain strength from you everyday.

Second came Susie - another punch to the gut. It just didn't seem real. Susie is honestly the strongest and bravest person I know. She's also one of the funniest people I've ever been around in my entire life. Just like with Stacey - it makes me angry and sad. How dare that disease try to deprive this world of such an amazing spirit. And like Stacey, Susie is fighting with every ounce of everything she has - she won't let anything get to her.

I'm a better person for knowing both of these women. Their fights have strengthened my prayer life. I'm praying everyday for both of them - meaning I'm praying every day.

Now I'm adding a third dear friend to this prayer list. And I ask each of you to do the same. This man has so much to offer.

People wonder if the devil is real - watch someone you love battle the big C and you won't doubt anymore. The same can be said though about the Lord. Watch someone you love beat the big C and you'll never doubt His power.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A thorn in my flesh

40 million people in the U.S. suffer some sort of panic disorder. I'm one of the lucky 40 million. Like most I've had it some form or another my entire life. I worry more than most. I remember being extremely young (in our first house) and sharing a room with Becky. I had to have some sort of physical contact during the night - holding her hand or touching feet. Without it I worried someone would snatch her and I wouldn't know it - that she'd be gone in the morning.

My most extreme panic attacks hit me right after college. About the time I should have been focused on my career, getting a place of my own, and enjoying life as a young adult. Those panic attacks were brutal - and affected every single person around me. Honestly - that's the part I hate the most.

I somehow (through the help of some a Imazing friends and family) conquored the panic - or so I thought. I now know I never conquored the feelings - I just pushed them aside and LIVED. Such a simple concept - but one that evades me from time to time.

The panic attacks reared their ugly heads again one year ago. I don't think any one thing brought them on. I believe it was several things. As my counselor pointed out - I have a stressful home life at times due to the care of an aging loved one AND I have a high stress job.

For the past year I've been struggling to learn to live with panic again. Some days are better than others. Today, for example, I'm about 2 breaths from a full blown melt down. The thing is I know why. I'm on a new medication. Not a medication for my panic attacks, just a simple anti-inflamatory. Basically I heavy duty tylenol. And part of my brain is CONVINCED that I am/will having/have an adverse reaction. Every little strange feeling is the medication doing something "bad". In the rational side of my brain I realize just how rediculous that sounds. The problem is getting both parts of my brain to talk.

I've spent the better part of my day trying to distract the part of my brain that senses danger. That's the part that mis-fires. While most people are only on alert in truly dangerous situations - mine rarely shuts down.

I got pretty upset about it all this morning - and on the way to church I told Paige that I was frustrated and wondered why God didn't take away my panic disorder. After all I've prayed and prayed and prayed - begging Him to lift me from this burden. Paige reminded me though that EVERYONE has that thing - that one ailment or situation that never goes away and that one never quite understands why God allowed it to stay. AKA Paul's thorn in the flesh.

So, I wonder now if this is MY thorn in the flesh. I can't honestly say that makes them any easier. And I'm certainly not going to quit praying for God to deliver me from this burden.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What to blog about???

I have to admit, I have (on more than one occasion) started a blog only to delete it. Sometimes I think it's too heavy - and will bring people down. Other times I think it's totally boring and nobody will read it.

So this is my official disclaimer blog. I'm going to stop worrying about being heavy or boring or too goofy and just write what's on my mind.

I don't get to be opinionated pubicly. My bosses frown upon that sort of thing. But this is a place I get to be whatever I want. I can be the hard-core republican. I don't have to be fair and ballanced! Freedom!

So this is going to be my rant in the future. I'm going to blog about politics, about my city, about my family, about my faith, about my therapy and panic attacks, about my friends, and even about my pets! None of the opinions expressed here reflect the thoughts or beliefs of my employer or coworks - and if you don't know who my employer is, even better!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Well I'll be a dirty bird

I'm really not sure how I'm going to use this blog. Probably to relay funny stories and sound off truth be told. Because of my job I have to be careful about being too opinionated too publicly. That's why you won't see any long rants on my facebook page - not good for business.

Our household is different to say the least. I help Shawn take care of his great-aunt - my great-aunt-in-law. She turns 85 in August and I couldn't love her more if she were my own blood. She's blind, a cancer survivor, with two fake knees, and fusions in her spine. Novie is also the most devout Christian I know with a quick wit and an even quicker temper (at times).

So how did we end up like this? Shawn came to live with her when he was 2. She never married and never had kids of her own. When Shawn and I began dating he made sure I knew this was a package deal - and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Don't get me wrong - things have been tough. There was a time last year that I didn't think we'd get through - when Novie went to sleep on us and didn't wake up for 5 days. She opened her eyes on the morning Shawn and I were going to the funeral home. I've never been so thankful.

Novie's a funny thing, with an amazing life, and some crazy sayings. She grew up in one of Huntsville's mills. Only her dad made her get an education so she could get out of the mill. She took courses at UAH and became the first female accountant for NASA. She's retired from Marshall Space Flight Center. She lived during a simpler time - when boys courted the girls, when families went to church, and when strangers really were the only danger to children.

She also has some of the funniest sayings I've ever heard. When we have something big to tell her Shawn and I will take bets about which one she'll say. They include, "You tell lies", "Well, I'll be", and my personal favorite, "Well I'll be a dirty bird".

We don't have kids of our own yet - and honestly it will be a few more years before we can consider it. But I already have my first born - she was just born 50 years before me!