Friday, June 4, 2021

The Gift Of Life

 35 years ago today, I was driving from one summer job to another on 635 in my mom's Cadillac. It was raining, and the last thing I remember was a car in front of me swerving. It was a Corvette.

I woke up to someone pulling on my arm, a bright light and PAIN! When I opened my eyes, I saw a lot of glass and a lot of blood. I could faintly hear someone calling to me, and in a foggy haze; the light turned into a firefighter. The first thought that entered my mind was "THANK YOU JESUS FOR SPARING MY LIFE!" The second thought was "I hope nobody is dead".
A cement truck had plowed into the back of my mom's Cadillac pushing me into the car in front, through 3 lanes of traffic and into the median wall. There were 10 cars involved in this accident.
As I was being wheeled into the ER, my mom was there. I remember wondering how she got there so fast, but it actually took a while for me to arrive at the hospital. She was walking beside the gurney, and the first thing I said to her was "Did I kill anyone? Was it my fault? I'm so so sorry about your car." She reassured me that it was not my fault and nobody had died. I was the one with the most injuries. I had severe head trauma but was very lucid, and I remember thinking things could have turned out very different.
There were a lot of stitches....a lot....and a lot of recovery. My body has not been the same since that day. There were a lot of facial gashes and injuries, head trauma, glass removal, dislocated shoulder. My nose was sliced completely in two (I'll spare you the photos), and there is a piece above my right nostril that is still missing resulting in two different shaped nostrils.
I slept on the couch for months, so I didn’t have to get up the stairs. One night I remember waking up in the middle of the night and seeing my dad sitting at my feet. He was crying softly, and again I just felt so thankful that my life was spared. Things could have turned out so different.
It took almost a year before I was finished with physical therapy and surgeries, and recovery was hard; but I was so GRATEFUL!! That day changed my perspective. I don’t know if I really appreciated the gift of life until that day. I don't think God causes bad things to happen, but I think there is an opportunity to see light and glean goodness. I’ve seen this through my own loss but also other people’s loss.
I've been praying for a family for a long time with a precious little girl, named Indy Llew. She has Down Syndrome and also cancer. That little lady is a bright bright light in the world while suffering most of her little life, but you wouldn’t know it. She is pure joy! Her parents have shared her story asking for prayer but also because she is changing the world. Through her, God has worked some amazing miracles in people's hearts. Today Indy passed, and my heart has been so so sad for us all. I cannot imagine the pain her family feels. I kept thinking about how things could have turned out different for her too. I don’t know why some people survive and some don’t. What I know is that time is a gift....make the most of it. You have one life to live...mend things that need to be mended, be kind, generous, encouraging, share your gifts, laugh a lot, keep learning; and LOVE like crazy!




Wednesday, April 14, 2021

FREEDOM

To say this last year has been a struggle for me would be an understatment. My mental health, the mental health of many I love, overall health, work, finances, church, missing people, all of it has been hard. I've felt like a fish out of water floundering around for the last few years, not sure where I belong or fit in, but this past several months have felt like I'm gasping for air and further away from finding solid ground or a fish tank, ocean, lake, etc. I have not been sure how to move forward or how to move at all. At the beginning of 2021, by many things I read and heard, expectations were high for a more "normal" year. To be honest, that did not provide comfort for me but more anxiety. I have never dealt with anxiety like I have over the last year. Sure, I've had moments of anxiousness and some legitmiate moments of panic; but I have not dealt with this consistently until this 2021. This past Sunday was our first in person contemporary church service inside of our church in over a year. Our pastor delivered a very meaningful and impactful sermon regarding the topic of worry and anxiety. It spoke to me as I'm sure it did to many. Because The Bible tells us not to be anxious does not mean we automatically flip a switch and are feeling peaceful and calm. What this scripture does provide for many of us is hope and the truth that we are covered by the love of Jesus. A few years ago, I decided to be intentional in reaching out to people when God laid them on my heart. I've done a fairly good job of sticking with that, but there are sometimes when I thought to myself...I'm not ready. But the more I opened my heart to Him, the more I realized that it wasn't about me being ready; but instead about being obedient. In 2021, I've reached out every single time God has led me to do so. I've had many wonderful responses of gratitude from people....some who I have not been in regular or any contact with in several years. Sometimes it was hard and uncomfortable, and sometimes it was easy and felt like second nature. But it has been a blessing every single time....no matter the response....because it was something I knew I was supposed to do. Something I've learned about myself is that freedom lies in obedience,even if it is hard and uncomfortable. I don't know what this year holds, but I know that Jesus is our hope! He is steadfast, and He walks with us through everything, even if we don't feel it. 

 Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 
Phillipians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
Matthew 6:25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Vaccine

 I am a teacher, and I'm so proud to be a teacher.  What I do is extremely important.  Until a few weeks ago, teachers were not considered essential workers; although I don't have the choice to work from home. We were not valued enough to be prioritized to get vaccinated for Covid in Texas. I go to school, Monday-Friday, with hundreds of other teachers and thousands of students in the same building.  We wear masks, sanitize, use desk shields, social distance; and I can attest that our school has done a remarkable job of keeping people healthy.  I had not done a lot of research on the vaccines, because I knew I was way down the list.  Honestly I wasn't sure if I was going to get vaccinated at all.  A few weeks ago, the President ordered every state to prioritize educators for the vaccine.  The day after that was put in place, teachers were getting called to get their vaccines.  My co-workers were excited and relieved....some who are very high risk but not allowed to work from home.  In a matter of days, they were all getting their vaccines.  I still wasn't sure.  I started doing some research and decided I would wait until the right time to decide, and I would know when that was.  Thursday of this week, we received an email from a parent in our district who is a pharmacist, offering a vaccination clinic on Friday.  I decided that was my sign, and I signed up.  I was positive I wouldn't get chosen, because I was kinda high maintenance on the form:  I wanted a certain vaccine, I take blood thinners, I could only come at a certain time, etc., etc., etc.  But I was chosen.  In fact, everyone who signed up was chosen.  Yesterday afternoon at 2:00 pm, I walked into a middle school filled with teachers waiting to be vaccinated; and I was overcome by emotion.  I have been fortunate enough not to have gotten Covid.  I have never even been tested. But what I saw in so many faces there as I walked in was relief and weariness.  I made the decision to get vaccinated to protect other people, who are at risk. The side effects and risks from the vaccine are minimal for me, but the risks from Covid for some are extremely high.  I don't want to be responsible for making someone else sick if I happen to be asymptomatic or happen to get Covid.  I know some don't believe Covid is a big deal, and some believe it is.  This time last year, I was becoming afraid of the unknown.  But as the months turned into a year, I am no longer afraid; and I still feel like it is very much an unknown.  Millions of very healthy, not at risk, people have died from Covid while other high risk people have barely gotten sick.  What I know is this....I don't know much more a year later. But I don't want to be the cause of someone else getting sick.  I will never ever forget watching all those teachers before me get their vaccine and feeling relieved that I might be making the tiniest difference.  

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

March 3rd! The Best Day of 1997!!

This is TWENTY FOUR!!! Happy Birthday Addison Jo! I adore you!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

No Power or All The Power!

 Today is Ash Wednesday.  It is also the middle of one of the worst winter storms Texas has seen.  The roads are dangerous, and millions of households are without power.  Due to these circumstances, our first in person church service since October, has been moved to virtual.  As disappointed as I am, I completely understand why.  Not only is it dangerous to drive, but we are being asked to conserve energy to help get power back to the millions who are without.  We spent 45 hours over the last 2 days with no power...not even a flicker. Because we don't have gas stove, fireplace, etc.; our house was 28 degrees inside...which was a lot warmer than outside, but it sure didn't feel like it.  We made the decision to vacate....it wasn't safe for us or our pets.  We were so blessed to have many reach out and offer assistance:  food, showers, hot drinks, groceries, generators and places to stay.  We ended up at some friends' house, who live not far from us, but never lost power.  We met them a few years ago, when Addi was nannying her twins.  So although we know her and call her friend, Neil and I don't know her that well.  We humbly and graciously accepted the invitation.  She fed us, let us shower, provided each of us a bed to sleep in; and she let us bring our dogs.  In a time such as this, it was a gift.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude especially when there are people who have lost their lives and have no place to go.

Our power came on late last night, and we headed home this afternoon.  I think she was going to open up her house to others who are doing without as soon as we left, and she made sure we knew we were welcome back to shower (we don't have hot water) or if the power went out again.  I promised we would pay it forward.  God took that promise very seriously, and on our way home; Addi received a message of a friend in need.  A pipe broke leaving her house in 6 inches of water, while she is out of town, and her husband is home alone to try to figure out how to get all of their stuff out of the house in freezing temps and 3 feet of snow.  Neil and Addi loaded up the water pump and headed over as soon as we got home.  

  Through the last 24 hours, I have been frustrated, frightened and angry.  It is 2021 in one of the richest countries in the world, but people have died due to lack of electricity and preparation by our state.  It makes no sense.  However I have also felt deep to my core gratitude and witnessed the amazing beauty of service.  God reminded me that we are not in control of much, but we can control our reactions.  So earlier as I began to share an article, that pointed out all the ways our state has let us down during this time, I felt the nudge in the direction of gentleness instead.  I do believe there needs to be some accountability for  those who have suffered loss of life and property, and I will support them.  However I don't think adding fuel to that fire will make it any better for them.  I believe my role is to encourage, love and offer assistance in the best ways I can; as well as, continuing to pray for our state and country.  It's been through a lot lately too.  So yes Jesus, I hear you when you say we are not in control, we don't always understand why you allow things to happen, but we know the ultimate power comes from you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

God At Work!

 Do you feel unseen, invaluable, insignificant? Do people always seem to make plans that don't include you?  Does it seem nobody notices when good things happen for you or bad things?  Do people turn up the music or turn on the garbage disposal when you're on a zoom call? Do your dreams seem unimportant? Do your needs go unnoticed?  Do your loved ones forget to tell you goodnight or goodbye or good morning?  Do your co-workers turn out the light at the end of the day not noticing that you are still sitting at your desk? Do people tell you their goods and bads but walk away without asking about yours? Does it seem nobody has time for you?

I've been in a time of deep reflection and self care and something I've been working on is remembering that I am a treasure to Jesus.  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with the elephant of anxiety sitting fully on my chest, and I'm not sure why; but I think I'm figuring it out.   I think God is at work telling me that He sees me, and I am important.  I don't think God causes this anxiousness to happen, but He uses that time of unease to bring me to a place where I have to consciously force myself to regain peace.  Sure I've been anxious from time to time in my life, but I've never experienced it like this.  So when it happens, I get up, take some deep breaths, get a cool drink of water and remind myself that I am okay.  I am okay.  And then for the first time that I can ever remember after waking up in the middle of the night, I am able to fall soundly back to sleep.  God at work! He is good! I am a treasure!

Friday, February 5, 2021

February 5th, the best day of 2001!

                            THIS IS TWENTY!!!!  Happy Birthday to my Drewby Lou!!

                                                                            I adore you!









 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

CELEBRATING SUPERMAN



 Yesterday was Superman's Birthday.  He's not usually big on birthdays, but he was a little more into it than usual.  Birthdays are my favorite thing ever, because celebrating another year of life is a gift.  The kids got him gifts, a cake, balloons and ice cream.  The girls wrote him Happy Birthday posts on social media, and of course I did too.  I'll admit that sometimes I envy him, because he is obviously their favorite. But I'm also really really grateful they treasure their dad as much as they do, because he is one to be treasured.  

Thursday, December 3, 2020

No Words

 I love words, and I've had many lately.  But for this time in life, they have been just for me; so I have not shared publicly.  

For years, I have included a Christmas letter with our Christmas card.  For a few years, Addi wrote it and did a wonderful job.  When I sat down to write the letter this year, I had decided to try to share positives from 2020; because 2020 has been A LOT!!!!  As I started writing some of the positive things that have come out of this weird, sad, crazy, scary year; I quickly decided to abort the letter writing.  For everything I was going to write, that I saw as a positive, I knew there would be many that might be affected in a negative way.  My first positive was the extra family time we had during quarantine, but when I started to write about things we did; I immediately thought of those who have suffered loss of family through isolation, separation and death.  So my letter writing was abandoned.  

I have been able to write Christmas letters in some of my hardest and saddest times, because I am very intentional on gratitude and finding things to be grateful for. I'm not really a glass half empty or a glass half full kinda gal, but more of a "Why didn't someone put this glass away?" kinda gal. 😜 But this year is different.  Writing about the good things I've seen as a result of this pandemic didn't seem appropriate at all.  It didn't feel genuine, not because it isn't....I have seen a lot of good....but because I have also seen so much of other people's pain.  Living during this pandemic hasn't been difficult for me, but it has been so much more difficult for others. The overwhelming amount of people who have suffered financially, physically, mentally, spiritually and had their hearts broken wide open is daunting and astronomical.  Sometimes no words are the appropriate response and this year is one of those times. 


Monday, October 12, 2020

Thinking Out Loud: A Blip in Time!

 So it's been a minute, since I've written a post that wasn't a birthday post.  I usually write every day.  It is my therapy, but lately I've been quiet here, in my journal, my book, everywhere except in my head and my own thoughts (and occasionally on instagram stories 😐).  There has been a lot going on....in my personal life, as well as, the world.  Obviously if you are coherent and old enough to understand (although I rarely understand, and I'm 53), you already know this.  

As for the world, it's an election year; and that's really all I need to say about that part, except that I will also add...WHAT THE HECK?  In addition to it being an election year, there have been countless tragic, life changing things going on in the world for people. I won't get into it all, because to be honest...it is a lot, and I don't think I could adequately describe what people are suffering through.  I've been trying to educate myself more and be intentional with my thoughts and approach.  I don't think I can "sum up" what others are experiencing in one post and especially without talking to people first hand and walking in their shoes.  Also I am not a confrontational person AT ALL....Hello Enneagram 2 with a 3 wing....so this has played a huge role in my silence as well.  

The one thing I can speak on is pandemic, because I think it would be reasonable to say 99% of the world's population has been affected by Covid-19 in some way or another.  When we were first quarantined back in March, Neil and I were discussing how we were sure we would probably know someone who got sick.  At the time, I thought it may be a handful of people.  Seven months later, and it has been so many more.  Some have lost their own lives, and some have lost people they love dearly to the virus....directly and indirectly.  The mental health of so many has been affected.  I've been struggling and so many others I know are as well.  One of Elli's classmates took his own life early in the school year....he was thirteen. I have cried all my tears for this boy and his family.  I cannot imagine that pain.

In my own personal world, I moved into a teaching position from a teacher's assistant position this year.  This has been so HARD!!!  The work itself is A LOT, but the hardest part is seeing so many of our students suffering due to pandemic.  Many of my students are failing.  They are not showing up for school at all.  These are good good kids who cannot do school remotely.   They are too overwhelmed,  they cannot understand it, they don't have working technology, they have to work to help their families survive, or they are at home watching younger siblings and helping them with school while their parents work.  I lay awake at night thinking about what to do for them.

I've read a few posts on instagram that I can relate to 100%.  I don't really read Facebook anymore, because 😳😡😢😲!!!  This morning I read these words that Brooke White posted.  They were written by David Brooks, "Many of our society's great problems flow from  people not feeling seen and known...this is a core trait that we all have to get better at, and that is the trait of seeing each other deeply and being deeply seen".  I feel seen about a smidgen of the time.  Granted some of this is by design, but a lot of it is my reality.  The other post I read was written by Sarah Nicole Landry, and it said this: " Do you miss it?  Life before?  I do.  I think I discover another thing I miss every day.  I know we are supposed to always find ways to be grateful and stay positive.  But for me, this is how I do that.  By acknowledging. Processing. Understanding. To say: I miss it, life before.  And I'm grateful for what we have now, too.  I think it's ok to miss it.  To say it out loud.  To be selfish with our true feelings.  Or even just to acknowledge that they're there, amidst the understanding of how lucky we are too...."  I miss it. Life before.  I want my girls to go line dancing and have movie nights and YOUTH group at church IN PERSON!!!  I want them to have homecoming, winter formal and Halloween dances.  I want them to go to college in the building, have coffee dates and dinner dates.  I want Cal to go to work, play baseball and have special olympics.  I miss concerts and restaurants and traveling.  I miss retreats, church, date nights and watching some of my people in praise band.  I miss it!!  I miss HUGS!!!  A LOT!!!!  I miss teaching students in person face to face and being able to walk around the school freely, waving and talking to teachers and kids.  But there are also things I appreciate that have come from pandemic:  cleaner everything.  Honestly, shouldn't stores have been wiping down carts and checkouts long before pandemic?  I also appreciate the flexibility remote learning offers...really you can do it from anywhere, and that's awesome too.  I appreciate the game nights and walks and baking we did during quarantine.  I really appreciated the quiet and lack of traffic in our neighborhood....that was simply grand!  But I do miss life before. 

 In the grand scheme of our lives, this time will be a blip in time.  During this blip, many many things will have occurred:  families will grow closer, exercise will increase, pets will be adopted, house improvements will soar; but also, businesses will be lost, relationships will be broken, millions of people will have died, history will be made. Some will survive the blip and come out stronger, some will survive the blip and come out barely hanging on, and some will not survive.  

This is what I've realized: It's okay to miss it....life before....and it's okay to feel gratitude and sorrow at the same time.  It's okay to feel overwhelmed and choose quiet.  It's okay to have a wide array of feelings and emotions.  It's okay to turn off the TV and avoid social media and process the way that works best for you.  It's okay to ask for help and to offer it.  The world is chaotic and sometimes feels hopeless, and we are part of it.  We do the best we can in the best way we can....sometimes that's for a few minutes, a few hours, a few days; then we take a break, but we pick ourselves up and keep going.