It’s All About Me

 

CREDIT: narciejeter.wordpress.com

“I was praying about you and the awful situations you are going through,” she said sincerely, leaning over to grasp my hand, “With this level of spiritual warfare, you must have a great destiny in the Lord!”

I wanted to say, “If this is a war I am losing.  I would trade destiny and everything else to have a husband not die, to be able to walk, to have children free from fear and anxiety and to live anywhere but here.”

“Thank you for praying.  I appreciate it,” I said and then walked away.  I wish I could have as easily distanced from the fury her comment inspired.

baconwrappedmedia.com

baconwrappedmedia.com

So all of this is supposed to be about my destiny?!?!?!  It’s supposed to be preparing me for some great work for the “Lawd”?  Burying my parents, crippling poverty, nearly losing my husband and parenting kids who watched their Pappy die are all part of a plan to prosper ME?  If it is-count me out!!!!

My friend recently preached a sermon called, “It’s All About Me” and it’s really messing me up.

Messing me up by challenging the comfortable martyr status I’ve settled into.

Messing me up by ripping the band aid covering an ancient wound of mistrusting God and His promises.

Messing me up by reminding me it was His people who used and abused me in His name-it wasn’t Him.

Messing me up by raising the level of accountability to life and death levels.

Messing me up by taking scripture and applying it to the reality of what it means to “take up our cross” daily.

Messing me up by taking me out of the equation and making it about something so divine, so deep and so loving it will take me a lifetime to fully experience it.

If you have time today, will you listen to her sermon?   She will HATE that I am sharing it with you, she doesn’t know how much her life, her witness and her heart mess me up.  It’s one of her best character traits.

Listen   then please share if it messed you up.

To quote lyrics from the musical RENT, “I’ve got baggage.  I’m looking for baggage that goes with mine.”

Bring yours in for a bit.  Let’s set it on the side of the “It’s All About Me Highway” and journey forward, eyes on the horizon rather than ourselves.

 

 

 

Designed to Mend

“It makes no practical sense for me to be here,” I shared with my grad school cohort, “I should be home, resting, taking care of my husband and kids.”  I gave voice to the guilt which, like a rash, crawled on the skin of my psyche.

“He’s doing so well,” I went on, rationalizing away the guilt…for the moment,”and the kids are troopers.”

12 hours later fever set in and we again made a frenetic dash to Hopkins.  He was fighting an infection.  And sometimes, I knew, infections win.

On my way, I had an appointment with a surly orthopedic surgeon.  He was prickly, abrupt and announced I probably wouldn’t need surgery and certainly didn’t need the scooter.  I told him to navigate the miles of Hopkins’ halls I would keep it.

No ankle surgery?  A surprise and a beginning of the mending.

Something happened in the kids.  The first trip was scary, overwhelming and they made me crazy.  This time, as we all piled into the king sized bed like a litter of puppies, their presence was comforting.   There were far less whines and far more, “Can I help you?”

Waiting rooms weren’t buzzing with nervous energy as before.  In fact, with the right book and atop a pile of coats they could be quite cozy.

IMG_3048With enough tech and Starbucks, anywhere could be home.

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“The pancreas is a mean organ,” the surgeon told us, “This infection is common.  He will make a full recovery.”

Common.  Full recovery.  It seems ankles and abdomens are designed to mend.

That was the prayer of my sardonic grad school professor after I told him our story.  He thanked God He designed us to mend.

I’ve been in the battle so long I forgot there is an end.  I’ve been limping so long I forgot what it was to walk.  It’s been a long, long season.

Yet, from the very beginning, my husband, my kids and I were designed to mend.  We were created to uncover beauty from ashes.  Wisdom from mistakes.  Life in the midst of death.  It’s the scripture promise that we are given life abundantly even if it takes place on surgical wards, atop scooters or sporting an ankle cast.

Mend.  Even the word is soft, as the promise it whispers. There are miles to go before we sleep, but sleep we will and mend we shall.

Share with me where you are mending.  Where are you walking where once you stumbled?

 

Look for the Little Moments

Eight days ago, at 5:30 a.m., my husband was loaded into an ambulance and taken to Johns Hopkins hospital.  He was to receive treatment for a 1:1,000,000,000, rare pancreatic tumor.  Our family’s Christmas gift?  Major surgery in a city four hours away.

As we traveled, I chronicled how cool my kids are with unexpected trips.

Leo's First Trip

Courtesy K.Robertson

Courtesy K.Robertson

I received a Facebook message from a member of my church.  Her daughter has serious health challenges and this mother shared of a holiday she spent in the hospital.  One idea stood out from her simple message.  Look for God in the little moments.  

I did my best to create little moments of joy for the kids and the family.  I decorated the hotel room.

IMG_3018IMG_3019

My brother and his fiancée joined us to entertain the kids.  Soon we were joined by Pap and Uncle Ryan.

We took this photo on the way to his surgery.  We joked we should send it out as a New Year’s card with the caption, “Hope you have a healthier NEW year than we had LAST year!”

pre surgeryMy prayers were whispered, gasping attempts at faith in the face of cold, hard reality.  My husband was undergoing rare and complicated surgery.  The only certain outcome?  Pain on recovery for him and pain for me as my ankle continued to shred within my cast.

The first little moment? Surgery took half the time and went ‘textbook’ according to the Boston Reds devotee’ of a surgeon.  We could all see him in the ICU, two at a time.  They even offered to sneak in the children for a quick visit.

As we left the waiting room, buoyed by the good news, I noticed a young father cradling his infant close to him.  I offered to give him the room we had used for waiting so he could have a quiet place.

As he settled in, I felt a familiar nudge. I knew this was another of the little moments I was to look for.  I asked him if I could pray for him.  Turns out, Jonah was holding his 11 week old son as his mother, Meghan, was undergoing surgery.  I prayed Psalm 138:8 and asked for a miracle for his wife.  We hugged, tears in our eyes.  As I slid away on my scooter, I prayed Meghan would hold her son again.

Following this little, powerful moment, was the hell of ICU.  Somehow I managed to stay calm as I watched my husband gasp in pain.  I told him how strong he was and how great everything went.  When he cried and apologized, I hushed him and kissed him.  I smiled as we left him there, full of a peace I knew was supernatural.

Later we had Christmas.  We were silly and giggly on the outside.  I drank wine as I was far from smiling on the inside-the earlier peace eluding me.  Pap dressed up in the gifts the kids bought him, and my brother celebrated the 7th plastic fish he received.  If you closed your eyes, it could have been any other holiday celebration.

IMG_3032The next day, Ron was moved to a room.  I waited for him to be settled in his room in a family waiting area.  In the corner was a terribly thin woman, a tracheotomy in her throat, IVs in her arm.  I watched as she visited her children.  A toddler, her grandchild, climbed up and around her while playing on an iPad.

The nurse brought Ron down the hall.  He looked terribly gaunt, pale and obviously in pain.  I told him I would meet him in his room where we could sit and rest.  As he walked away, I started to cry.  The tears kept coming despite my stubborn insistence to my heart to suck it up.

I felt thin arms encircle me.   “He’s going to be just fine,” a hoarse voice whispered.  I looked up and realized it was the patient from across the room.

“Thank you,” I whispered back.  “I hope you are at the end of your journey here,” I said as I blew my nose in my sandwich napkin.

“I’ve been here three weeks and I’m not done.  I’ll never be done,” she replied.  “It’s not about me anymore,” she went on, looking at her grandson,”It’s about him.”  With another hug she shuffled back across the room to play.

Tonight as I look back on the past 15 days, I can recognize the little moments where God showed up.  I’m thankful for them.  I pray for more.

I don’t know what you are experiencing in your life.  However, I pray you too would find the little moments where God shows up.  Share them in the comments.

 

 

 

My Kryptonite List

 Photo Credit: mypixbox via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mypixbox via Compfight cc

{CONTENT WARNING: Strong language and raw subject.}

In my little world, I had a list.  It was a list of things I was convinced I could not do without.  My Kryptonite List contained what would destroy me if it was taken away or was harmed.  The list included people and situations.

Once I was defined by my work.  I sacrificed everything for years before realizing work is a means to an end.  It’s not the means or the meaning for life.  Scratch that from the list.

Church was my end all and be all.  Who I was in the pews or on the platform mattered more than anything.  That is until it didn’t matter as much as marriage, sanity and safety.  Check that one off.

My children were everything.  Identity, self-esteem, self-worth all wrapped up in little wiggly bodies gnoshing on mac-n-cheese.  Until mental illness, insidiously connected to mothering through postpartum depression, taught me I was still a distinct human being from these creatures.  They needed me whole and my job was to help them remain whole.  Check.

My dad was my safety net, my rock, the mirror in which I could peer and see good things every time.  As he took his last shuddering breath, he left my list.

One of the only pieces of kryptonite remaining for me was my husband.  Big, goofy, funny, smarter than anyone, and a good guy, that’s my husband.  He stayed on the list because he chose me.  When we were dating and I went through a dark time, he stuck around and married me anyway.  Postpartum, situational poverty, job loss, death, he was there.  Until now.

A few days ago the kids called me at work and said dad wasn’t moving and was on the stairs.  They were trapped upstairs.  I raced out of the building to find him there, the kid’s terrified eyes staring at me.

I called 911 when he couldn’t make eye contact with me or respond.  I called a friend who is familiar with medical emergencies to get the kids.

His blood sugar was 28.  Normal is 70.  He was minutes from a coma.  The doctor said I saved his life by calling the ambulance.

Three days later, he is still in the hospital.  They have theories on what is wrong, but they can’t confirm anything.  We simply don’t know why his body produces so much insulin that he needs to be on two IVs with glucose to be close to normal.

I’m alone with the kids and I don’t know from day-to-day what will happen.  People keep asking, “How are you?”  I can’t say what I really want to.

I’m pissed off.  Seriously? After EVERYTHING we have been through?

I’m scared.  What will I do to get through the days alone?

I’m sad.  I recently was praying for a breakthrough in our lives.  I got an ambulance.

I literally can’t walk.  How can I heal my ankle when I have to navigate a two-story house and two active little fellas?

My husband is now off my list.   There is nothing left on it.  I need to figure out how to get rid of my Kryptonite list.  I’m thinking I need to replace it with something a little more positive.

Tonight here is where I am starting.

James 1:2-4 (AMP)

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.

Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.

But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.”

I want to lack in nothing.  I don’t want to stand in the way as these times do their thorough work for my full development.  Though I am angry, sad, scared and most definitely alone and hurting, I refuse for this to be for nothing.

Tonight as I ache at this life which has chosen me, I make a choice.  I’ll take God up on his offer from James 1.  I’ll let this situation do it’s work.  I’ll pray more than I ever have.  I’ll love God more even though I am mad at Him.

Maybe soon I’ll have a different list, one with miracles on it.  Earlier I saw my first entry.  Tonight I stood in the corner and watched my husband with our sons.  Though tired and uncomfortable, he was giggling with them at goofy YouTube videos.   Love and laughter might be the antidote to my kryptonite.

Hospital video giggles.

 

Big Boot to the Backside

12 weeks ago I sprained my ankle.  I doctored it myself.  “What would the doctor tell me to do I didn’t already know?” I thought.  Unfortunately, I re-injured it.  Like tree sap flowing down the side of a pine tree in winter, I slowly continued to tear apart my ankle by walking on it.

Finally I went to the doctor when I couldn’t bear weight on it.  MRI was nasty.  To me it looks like I have spaghetti instead of muscles in my ankle.   Vertical split tear…partial interstitial tear…tenosynovitis…inflammation into the bone…that, dear one, is one class A, super-stupendous ankle injury.

Now I have been told there is a s-l-i-m chance I can avoid surgery if I am ‘compliant’ and don’t walk on it.  I have a boot cast which I’m allowed to remove for the shower only.  Now I am stuck in the middle of having a very busy life and not being able to move through it, save for crutches and a wheelchair.

Coincidentally, I have embraced a new way of eating and have lost 10 pounds.  I couldn’t wait to ‘heal up’ so I could add exercise to my new commitment to health.  Cue flushing noise as all of that goes down the toilet.

Or does it?

This past weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving in New York City.  We borrowed a wheelchair from church.  While my husband braved frozen rain and sleep deprivation to share the parade with the children, I was on the couch in the apartment.  Depression settled on my shoulders like a heavy, wet, cold blanket.  My Doxie was my companion for bad movies and endless napping.

Even Frank knows the Big Boot needs some love.

Even Frank Knows the Big Boot Needs Some Love

I put on a brave face as my husband hefted me through Manhattan.  I even managed a smile for the lovely Scottish tourists who chatted me up whilst the kids skated Rockefeller Center.

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Big Boot at Rockefeller Center

As they ‘parked’ me in various corners to get coffee, I attempted to shrug off my all too familiar companion-failure.  Of course I wouldn’t be able to continue the eat less part of this journey.  How could I? Four slices of Ray’s pizza and three diet cokes later, I fell into a carb, fat, sugary slumber as the car made its way home.

Big Boot Needs Caffeine and Yes That’s An Angry Bird Blanket

I have a choice.  I can, once again, do what I have always done and give in.  I can agree with the destructive self-talk of defeat, blame and pain (physical AND emotional).  Or I can take this boot into the backside to push me forward.

The boulders in front of me are HUGE.  I have to trust those in my life to care for me when I barely know how to care for myself.  I have to stay committed to filling my plate and my heart with good things.  I have to choose, minute by minute, not to give up.  I have to stand up to the challenges before me and decide to go through, over or around because standing still is no longer an option.

So, in what areas of your life is standing still no longer an option?  Share in the comments.  We can climb the boulders together!

Ain't No Mountain High Enough to Keep Me from Me!

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough to Keep Me from Me!

 

 

 

Rolling Up the Quinoa, Rolling up My Sleeves

I’m awake, refreshed and coherent-BEFORE my alarm goes off.  I quietly sneak downstairs, a plan has already formulated in my thoughts for Bible Study-which isn’t for another 3 hours.  This blog is sitting on my shoulder and demanding to be written.

I can’t recall a time when I didn’t as much get out of bed but fall out of it, dragging myself to the nearest coffee pot.  Planning through the morass of thoughts/insecurities/fears/pain was more like trying to run through a wall of cobwebs-sticky and binding.  Writing was an abstract, a luxury, a passion I had to steal from my other ‘worthier’ causes to spend time creating.

Photo Credit: demandaj via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: demandaj via Compfight cc

Why the drastic 180 degree change?  Did I suddenly find the will power my mother and others have always said was the only reason I was fat and unsuccessful?  Did I suddenly discover a pill to take away all the stresses, strains, pains and peeves which kept me under their thumbs?

Nope.  I simply started to eat real food.

Seriously, I’m a clean eater.

This blog is based on the premise of “Eat Less.  Pray More. Love Abundantly.”  A topic I rarely explore is eating.  The reason?  It’s hard to write about addressing your drug of choice and secret shame.  It’s an invitation for judgement when you say you are eating well and then reach for a cookie at an event.  It’s hard, disciplined work with moments of failure on display for all to see in your too-slowly changing sizes.

I wish I could say I had an epiphany towards health and eating.  I would love to have one of those inspirational stories where I suddenly realized I was worth it (cue instrumental music and images of people running through ocean surf).  I didn’t have one of those.  Instead it was more mini-moments of clarity which strung themselves together into one of those rope bridges across a cavern.  I simply chose to walk across the bridge and deal with the height, the wind blowing the ropes, and the churning waters beneath me.

I didn’t tell anybody except those I knew who were solidly in my corner.  I just shopped differently one week.  I cooked differently.  I ate differently.

10 pounds later (coincidentally the weight of spinach I’ve eaten AND the amount of weight the scale has gone down) I sit, in the early morning writing this blog.

When I hit publish, I’ll go and make special Sunday breakfast.  I’ll roll up quinoa and sausage in a lower fat, higher nutrition version of breakfast.   I’ll roll up my sleeves and package up a week’s worth of breakfast/lunches and dinners all made with mostly clean, whole ingredients.  I’ll bake with the apple sauce I made yesterday in my crock pot (I felt like a modern day Pioneer Woman).

Another thing I’ll do?  I’ll write.

Today, what will you do?  What’s one minor or momentous thing you can do to take  step towards health and wholeness?  Share with me.  Together we can take this journey to eat less.  Maybe share a recipe or two.

What Happens When I Play With A Food Processor

What Happens When I Play With A Food Processor

 

Gossamer Parachutes

A tiny silver flash caught my attention on my car.  These silver splotches were everywhere.

K. Robertson

K. Robertson

I looked it up and found these are how baby spiders release from their nest.  They leap into their future, riding the breeze of destiny with nothing more than gossamer parachutes.

Recently, I’ve written so much about grief and loss.  Time to write about their cheerier cousin, hope.

Hope says the glass is half full and the sun will shine again.  Hope stands beside loss and reminds us tomorrow is another day to live.  Hope tosses aside broken umbrellas and lifts her face to the rain.

My hope was sorely lacking.  In fact, if I stumbled over it and stepped directly in it, I wouldn’t recognize it.

Hopelessness is a pretty dark and lonely place.  It’s poorly decorated with uncomfortable dreams too broken to sit upon.  The mantle has photos of people long gone.  The mirrors have cracks shaped like accusing fingers.

Photo Credit: purpleslog via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: purpleslog via Compfight cc

Hopelessness, for me, is a choice.  Minute by minute, second by second, I can choose to step into that space.  Or I can choose hope.

Choosing hope means listening more to the giggles of my boys than the accusing voices in my head.  It means seeing possibilities instead of problems.  It means looking at the road rather than the roadblocks.  It means focusing on the miracle in the midst of the mess.

Hope is a gossamer parachute, delicate, spun from the depths of ourselves.  I’m spinning mine from the threads of smiles from friends, my husband’s cologne, a snarfy kiss from my ancient doxie, a texting connection with my future sister, hippie soul sisters in my office and crushing hugs from my sweaty boys.

I’ll jump into my life.  Not sure where I’ll land, yet knowing I will land.

What is your gossamer parachute of hope spun from?  Share in the comments.

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