This is a simple story of a simple family trying to slow down this crazy life and enjoy the "moments"...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hole Hearted....

Sometimes we have a LOT going on.

Sometimes it's all fun and hectic and busy and crazy and good.

Sometimes it's nothing but  MONSTER WAVES that aren't so helpful.

Sometimes maybe it's a combination?

I believe that the "not-so-good" things are often-sometimes-always the things that I HAVE to thank God for.

Those are the things that grow me.
Sharpen me.
Refine me.

And...believe it or not (insert self-depracating smile here)...apparently I need some serious refinement.

There's a song my friend Tiffany introduced me to called Blessings.

(such an amazing worth your time to click on it and check it out...)

The chorus says:

What if your blessings come through teardrops?
What if your healing comes through tears?

What a beautiful poignant idea.

Sometimes it's only when you're bowed over....
Sometimes it's only when you can't even see through your tears....
Sometimes it's only when you truly realize what can be lost...

...that your faith and dependence and love for God can fill you and go all the way through you.

when we can truly find that eternal perspective....
those painful thorns can become amazing blessings.

SO I choose to see my procedure this Friday as a blessing.

This procedure is one of those "never-thought-it-would-happen-to-me" kind of things.

But hey...didn't many of use experience that last May?

(((Note to self....whenever I hear the phrases: "slim possibility" or "small chance" or "very low probability" I should automatically brace myself for what's 100% DEFINITELY coming my way.)))

Anyway....Friday morning I have a hot date in Kansas City with a highly respected surgeon who is going to close a pesky little hole in my heart.

Once this patch is in place (and it will be done via my femoral vein) I should have a waaaaay lessened risk of a recurrent stroke.

Yeah, that's right.
Mini one.
Called a TIA.
Back in August.

Apparently it's not a normal good thing to loose all feeling in exactly one half of your body while making your bed.
And it's surely not normal to pay an emergency visit to a neurologist at Memorial Hall (which was partitioned off by shower curtains) because your hospital was attacked by a tornado.
And it's definitely a rare experience to have an MRI in a tent MASH unit.
Then follow all of that up with many many many tests (in 3 different states) in which you are told "it probably isn't....we doubt we'll's very rare that...." and give everyone a good old fashioned surprise.

It is.
It was.
Get me a lottery ticket please!!

My dad and stepmom are coming in town this week.  My dad will go with me to KC and my amazing stepmom will hold down the fort here.

I've told my kids that I have to have a little patchwork done and tried to get them really pumped up about their grandparent's visit.

I'll stay one night in the hospital and be home some time Saturday.

Then we'll see what the recovery is like.

The nurse said that I couldn't do housework for a week.
I'm sure she meant to say a month.

So....what have I learned from this latest season in my life?

(Besides brushing up on my knowledge of cardiac circulation, patent foramen ovales and Amplatzer devices?)

Any semblance of control in this life I once thought I had is an illusion.
My house,
my home,
my children,
my finances,
my health...

None of them are really under my control.

I have to let go.
I have to stop grabbing for them.
I have to realize that only God
only God
Only God
has control over all of this.

And you know what I'm so happy about?

He is SO MUCH better at EVERYTHING than I am.

At the risk of making a huge understatement:
it really truly is better for Him to be in charge because He really knows what He's doing.

The lot is cast into the lap,
But it's every decision is from the Lord.
Proverbs 16:33

"The horse is prepared for the day of battle,
But deliverance is of the Lord."
Proverbs 21:31

These verses bring me such a sense of relief.
At the end of the day....
He's got it under control.

So I've got a hole in my heart.
So my blood really likes to go through the hole.
So it likes to flow both ways.

None of this is a surprise to God.
He made me like this....
He gave me tests and doctors and a father who know a way to fix it...
He knows what's best for me and my family...
He knows how to love my children better than I could ever even try...

It's all good.
It's all going to be good.

Giddy up.

Remember THIS SONG??
(go ahead, click it, you know you want to!)

It's become my (Ally McBeal-ish to date myself)  in-my-head-constantly-personal-theme-song.

It's funny.
Admit it.
In a twisted sort of way.

But hey....if the hole shoe fits......


Friday, January 20, 2012

Empty Spaces...

So here's an interesting story.

There is a house in a galaxy far far away our old neighborhood that was pretty severely damaged by the tornado.

It still has some walls standing....but you can't tell by looking at it if it's "total-able" or repairable.  

It's still full of all the furniture (and everything else one fills their home with) that it had before the tornado.....although most of that is probably ruined by now.

On one side of the house is a home that sustained minor damage and is now fixed with a family of 5 living in it.

On the other side is a home that was demolished but is now close to the dry-wall-stage of completion so the family can move back into it soonish.

But....there in the middle....sits the smashed up moldy nasty ugly stinky shell of a house.

Yes....almost 8 months later.

Word in the 'hood is that the owners collected their insurance money and wiped their hands of the whole mess.
(and it a mess!)

Now no one can find them and therefore no one (inlcuding neighbors and the city workers who are supposed to make sure that all the tornado junk is removed and fixed) can determine what their plan is for this property.

(And as an aside....why didn't anyone tell me about THAT option of coping post tornado????  You're sayin' that my family and I could be living in a beautiful straw hut on a white beach with umbrella drinks and fresh scallops for dinner?  And not have to deal with any insurance/home finding/clean-up/cookie cutter locating junk?  Seriously?  How did I miss that memo?!?!  Dang.)

Word in the 'hood is that a group of people have moved into this destroyed house.

Apparently they occasionally pose as "builders" and stick their heads out of a tarp and hammer something for a few minutes, then duck back in.

But there is no building permit on the house and not a whit of demolition or reconstruction has been done.  
Just occasional random hammering.

Neighbors have called the police on a daily basis but nobody answers the cops' knocking and since it's "private property" the police can't go inside.  (Apparently even walking over the knocked down wall rubble is considered "entering".)  

So....this group of people is just....
living there.

Harmlessly from what I've heard.

Now this post isn't being made to say that this kind of habitation is right or wrong.
Really I just find the story interesting on several counts:
1.  People actually exist who can just walk away without any sense of responsibility or closure.
2.  The city (who has cracked down HARD CORE in so many areas) is allowing this obvious health hazzard to stand.
3.  These people try to look like builders instead of just hiding.
4.  The uncanny parallel it has to the story in Matthew 12:43-35.

More on #4. 

In a nutshell, a guy was possessed by a demon.

By the power of Christ, the demon was expelled from this guy.

This guy left the "place" that the demon had been staying (you could consider it his heart or his mind) empty...just perhaps being grateful that the nasty thing was gone, but not necessarily trying to find something good to take its' place.

Then the demon wandered back to this dude to see how he was handling things.
This demon took a peek inside our guy...and saw that the place was still empty and quite ready to be inhabited he grabbed a big 'ol group of his buddies and set up an awful demonic commune inside this guy's heart.

How very easily bad yucky and nasty things can seep in and fill our empty spaces.

(NOTE:  I have NEVER met the people supposedly living in this house....they may or may not be mean and yucky....this is NOT a commentary on that group of folk who have taken advantage of a situation and don't appear to be causing any harm.  Disclaimer understood?  Great! :))

Think about it though.

You finally break ties with a person you KNOW wasn't good for you.
Now you're lonely.
If you can't quickly find a good solid person to spend time with....
It's pretty easy to just fill that empty spot with the next available person (or same old person) who gives you attention.

You finally give up a bad habit.
Now you're bored or antsy or jittery.
If you don't find something new and good and solid to do with your time....
It's pretty easy to just slip back into the habit that filled your time and gave you satisfaction in the first place.

You finally let go of a grudge or hurtful memory.
Now you're trying not to dwell on or think about it anymore.
If you don't find good new solid experiences and create new memories....
It's pretty easy to find yourself digging up the old feelings you thought you'd buried deeply away.

It's a fact.
If something stays empty too long....
It will be filled.

(Might be a scientific vacuum theory regarding that too...)

Think of that one kitchen cupboard you were SO excited about because it was EMPTY and you've NEVER had extra space before.
Betcha it's filled now.
With junk, if you're like me.

And if it's not filled with something useful and organized and good (still going with the kitchen cupboard analogy here...) then you just throw some random tupperware tops or corn-on-the-cob-holders in "for safe keeping" and before you know it it's nothing but another "junk cupboard".


Fill the space.

Joplin's doing it.
Look at all of the amazing new buildings  literally popping up all over this flattened town.

Let go of a grudge....
And pray for that person instead.

Let go of a bad habit....
And read that novel you've always wanted to.

Stop reliving bad memories...
And go call an old friend.

Don't give into the temptation to call "The Jerky One" because you're lonely....
Call me and we'll go for Shake's.

I realize that those people moved into that half-house because it was somewhere that looked available and appealing to them.

I am going to try and look closely at myself...
Find the parts that are broken or unhealthy...
Try and let them go....
Then work to find the things that God wants me to fill those places with.....
....and do it.

Being empty doesn't last.
Eventually we will "fill up"....
And I for one choose not to waste my time cleaning spaces out just to have them fill up with more "junk".

Life's too short.

Let the good times roll.

Heck...MAKE the good times roll....

...and choose to fill up on those good things.

And stop the random hammering.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tiny Bubbles...

Remember this song?

It was a good one.

I actually (and please don't laugh at me when we run into each other later) put that song on my "EF-Faith" songlist compiled after the tornado.

Life happens.

You fall down.

Or maybe you get the living snot whacked out of you when you are unsuspectingly walloped in the back of the head knocked down.

Either have to (eventually) get up again.

You'd get pretty wet and cold and dirty if you just stayed laying there on the ground.
You might even get stepped on...or run over.

Gotta get up.

And for the most part, we do....right?

Something happens that takes our legs out from under us...and we regroup....pull ourselves upright...and go on.

And those little "knock-downs" can happen all day every day.

Somebody cancels on you or shows up late and your carefully to-the-minute scheduled day goes down the drain.

Two out of your three kids walk into school teary-eyed because you forgot to pack their lunches.

Your spouse calls to tell you of an IMPORTANT event you HAVE to go to and so you cancel the coffee/lunch/dinner/ with your friend that you've been looking forward to for weeks.

Your washing machine literally explodes sending waves of water, plastic and weird metal springy things across the laudry room.

(ok....maybe that last one is just me.)

All minor things, really.
Nothing salvational or life-threatening.

You stand up, brush off your knees, wipe your hands and go on with your life.

Sometimes the "fall" is a little more treacherous.

You get knocked down by a much bigger force, and the weight of it on your back and shoulders makes it harder to just spring right back up again.

But still we do...
...because we are alive
...because we have people who need us
...because it's just what we do.

And then there are those times that kind of remind me of going to the beach when I was a little girl.

You skip out into the ocean to frolic about in the lovely surf.

Then you meet Mr. Monster Wave.

After that wave takes you down, you get your feet secured in the sand and stand back up...
...only to have another (maybe bigger) wave send you crashing to the bottom again.

So you use your knees AND hands to push yourself back to an upright position just to have another wave send you sprawling.

Now it's hard to figure out which way is up and which way is down but you have to breathe so you feel for the sand and just as you are pushing your head almost above water.....

Well....I think you know how this little allegory ends.

Sometimes the things that "knock us down" seem unrelenting.

Sometimes you feel that you really can't get a full breath in between crises.

Sometimes it's maybe hard to even get the energy to TRY and get your head up high enough for a full breath.

One of my favorite bible verses is Philippians 4:6-7.

Be anxious for nothing,
but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds thought Christ Jesus.

This is something I've prayed about for myself and for other people SOOOOOOOOOOO many times.

Wouldn't that be awesome???  To be in the middle of something horrible and still feel peace?


I have been able to feel peace before during a time when...had God not done His thing....I should NOT have.

(for instance....when I couldn't find part of my family during and right after the tornado and I knew they were in a truck somewhere nearby...)

But to be honest (who me?)....there have been many times I haven't felt even a teeny tiny smidgen of that peace.

I will get knocked down...and all I can think about is how this is the FOURTH (or third or fifth or seventeenth) monster wave that seems to be directly aimed at me and (seriously) how flippin' much can I be expected to take?!?!?

I've read that when you get disoriented underwater, you should stop moving, open your eyes, and see which way the bubbles are going so you know the direction of the surface.

When you are freaking out--well, you make a LOT more bubbles and there 'ain't NO way you can tell which way to go for air.

But....if you can make yourself calm down...
(be anxious for nothing)
Ask for help....
(by prayer...let your requests be made known)
And watch for the bubbles...
(the peace that surpasses all understanding)
You can find your way to the surface again
(your heart and mind is protected).

So it that easy?
Stop, ask, watch and find?

Yes and no.

Easy in theory (and reality!) but really really hard in action.

Sometimes life is so overwhelming.

Sometimes all we can do is sit down and cry.
(but hey...there's a season for that too...even Jesus cried!)

And I'll be the first to tell you that a good cry
(and by good I mean that shoulder shuddering throat hurting snot dripping chest heaving kind)
can really truly give your brain some relief.

It's like a release valve.

So if you just want to sit down and mope....
Call a friend and vent...
Eat 3 Shake's concretes all by yourself...
Lock yourself in a room for a few hours....
Go for a 7 mile run...
Scream into a pillow....

Go ahead.

It does NOT mean that your faith is weak.

It simply means that you are human and have to let off that steam....
and then your "internal pressure" will be low enough for you to pause and search for bubbles.

My hope is that with enough practice I can "pause" after only eating 2 concretes.....
and maybe,
ONE day,
even after only eating one.

(But that one concrete is probably always going to be pretty important.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


A friend of mine posted this today....

Just goes to show that the
things you don't want to remember
are often the same
as the things you don't want to forget.

Susan's Blog

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Don't Get Stuck

I am certain that New Year's Day brings about TONS of declarations and posts and tweets and heaven only knows what other kinds of statements regarding resolutions and things everyone wants to do in the coming year.

I don't really want to do that in my blog today.

(Happy New Year, anyway.)

Sure....we did our family resolutions before going to bed at 10:15 ( we told the kids....we celebrate New Year's on Berlin time) and drank sparkling apple juice and ate gooey butter bars....we aren't total grinches.  

One thing we did do that I thought was cool was kind of Ethan's idea.

You see...a few years ago Ethan asked to make two cakes for New Year's Eve.
He wanted to decorate one that was a "good-bye to 2007" theme,
and make the other a "hello to 2008" cake.

So we did.

This year he asked to do the two-cake-thing again.


But then we sent one of the cakes to my sister-in-law's get-together and ended up with only one cake at the house.

(And in all honesty....I really didn't want to mix frosting and do intricate time-consuming memorial decorations.)

So we switched it up a bit.

The kids, RH, my mom and I made little paper flags.

Then everyone drew or wrote about what they were saying good-bye to in 2011 on the first side, and what they were looking forward to in 2012 on the other side.

With a little scotch tape and some chopsticks the pieces of paper turned into flags.

We took turns explaining our drawings for both years....

....then ate cake (yes....before we ate the gooey butter bars) and moved on.

(You might notice that while most of the flags include a tornado theme for 2011, only Bennett's includes a political commentary as well.  Again....who is this kid?!?)

Moving on is good.  
It's nice to move on.

But...( and you KNEW that a "but" was going to be coming here...)

isn't it strange how even when you REALLY want to move on....
you also don't really want to let go?

Kind of like....if you really and completely move on and get past something....
you might somehow forget what it is you're getting past?

And while no one wants to become totally enmeshed in and re-live tragic points of their lives....there exists a very real fear of forgetting the true enormity of the event that has contributed to the person you are (and the world you live in) today.

I am reading a book my mom gave me for Christmas called The Beach Trees by Karen White.  

It takes place in New Orleans and there are many references to Katrina and what she did to the city.
The main character is from out-of-town and is having a hard time understanding why...6 years later... residents are still talking about the storm and have memorial pieces of "Katrina trees" and debris all over the city.
She thinks that people would be happier just getting rid of all the "left-overs and scars" and just focusing on the good things and the future.
A lady from New Orleans takes her to a memorial site, and this main character is very uncomfortable being there and asks the lady why she brought her there.   

The lady explains: "I wanted you to understand that moving on doesn't mean forgetting."


Don't forget.

Don't let the events of May 22nd....and the months following....lose their meaning.
Don't let the memories control your life...but don't be afraid to remember them.

I don't think God makes beauty  out of disaster so that we can forget the disaster.
I think He does it to show us how high He can make us rise after we fallen to a rocky bottom.

And if we forget how low and bad and hard and scary that "bottom" was....
then how can we realize how magnificent and amazing our new heights and perspectives truly are?

Last night, between the flags and the butter bars, Bennett shared something with us.

He has a devotional book called Jesus Calling which has a little "note" that Jesus might have written to you for each day of the year.

On May 22, here is what the "note from God" said:

When things are not going your way, don't panic--accept the situation.  Feeling sorry for yourself can easily spill over into feelings of resentment and anger.  Thant can cause you to push away from me.

Remember that I use all things to work together for good in your life--even the things you wish were different.  So accept your situation, and then look around you for what I am doing.  Keep your eyes on Me--no matter what is happening around you...

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  But sometimes it can be hard for you to understand My way of doing things in this life.  It's easy to get your mind stuck on your own idea of how things should go.  Just don't get so stuck on your idea that you forget to look for My way.

He has a way.
He doesn't say forget...He says trust Him.

It's a new year.
A symbolic new start.

I think I will choose to move forward....and focus on how good things well as remembering (with utmost gratefulness) the things He's lifted me up give me such beautiful perspective on my life.