Friday, March 23, 2012

Relax and Write or Write to Relax

It's been almost 3 weeks since I last wrote. So much for trying to do this on a daily basis, or even weekly! Life seems to get in the way of my plans at times, or at least I let it. I can't seem to make myself relax long enough to sit down and put words on piece of paper (or the screen). I do have a good excuse for not writing yesterday though....

After an unrestful night of worry, Marty and I drove 2 1/2 hours yesterday to a hospital in Bloomington, IL to see my stepdad of 30+ years, Marion. He'd been hospitalized the night before. He was dealing with a severe intestinal infection, extreme dehydration, along with complications from diabetes. It was discovered later, that he'd had a minor heart attack during all this too. When we saw Marion, he wasn't doing great by any means, but his kidney function had gone up somewhat; and by the time we left that day, his blood pressure was in the normal range without meds. His heart still pumped too hard due to damage from the heart attack so medication was needed to help with this, but I was thankful for the improvements, even though they were small. I knew also that Marion was in the right place to get the help needed to continue to get better. Thanks to the wonderful care my stepfather was given, and God's help, I felt peace when I left the hospital that evening. I was somewhat confident that Marion would be back home soon, though still needing care and possibly dialysis. We never really know how long we have with anyone, so I felt blessed too to have had the time with Marion yesterday. Though it was a stressful 24 hours, by 8:30 last night, I was back home and ready to relax. Not five minutes after slipping into my comfy pajamas though,  the phone rang. 

It was my older brother, Sonny, who called. He lives 85 miles away. He quickly let me know that he wanted me to hear from him that a man had just put a shotgun in his face (not sure who would have told me otherwise). It'd happened outside a friend's house who had called him for help. My brother went not knowing what kind of help was needed, till Wes jumped into Sonny's car and told him to get him out of there. As he started to leave, a drunk man hit my brother's car with the butt of a shotgun and then put the gun in Sonny's face.  My brother suggested that 'crazy guy' let him drive Wes out of there (it was Wes who this man had an issue with). Curse words spilled out in response, so my brother knew to just step on the gas and leave. Unfortunately, gun shots followed them. At the end of our short 2 minute conversation my brother added, "The police are here and they're being shot at now, but Wes and I are in the house, so we're OK. Just didn't want you to worry. Bye." Geez...I'm glad he didn't want me to worry!!! How was I supposed to relax after that call???

It's a new day now and though my stepfather still has health issues, he's being released from critical care, meaning he's stable and able to move down the hall from ICU. I don't know how my brother was affected emotionally, but he was not hurt physically last night. The crazed man that stuck the gun in Sonny's face is now in jail. Things could have been much worse for Marion and Sonny, but they're both doing OK today. I'm thankful for God's mercies. And with writing about my day yesterday, I feel myself finally relax. Writing is good for me...why do I let life get in the way of it? :-)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Yesterday wasn't the greatest day. I had to be at the airport by 4am and say goodbye to a good friend. Because of the early flight, the night before I didn't take the meds that would help me sleep. I was afraid I'd be in a haze and not wake up in time. Because I didn't get much sleep though, the fibro fog set in anyway. It had enveloped my brain as I rode to the airport, making it difficult to focus. The pain throughout my body was worse too.

To make matters worse, it was the first day of United and Continental Airlines merging. Their new computer system had glitches, so it took longer to check in. I felt relief when making it to security and it was my turn for a body scan. You know my head is messed up when I find joy in that! :-) My inward smile faded when I was told they'd need to pat me down; though as any good Christian would, I smiled and said, OK. Whoo hoo, more fun! I did request a private room though. I wasn't inclined to show by belly to everyone going through the security line. A girl needs some privacy! Before the pat down, security asked if I had any pain. YES...EVERYWHERE! I have Fibromyalgia! Of course I didn't say it in that tone outwardly. I'm not sure why the question though, they pat you down all over anyway. Thankfully though, the patting didn't aggrivate the pain, and no bombs or chemical residue were found on me. I was released to go to my gate...only to wait an extra 40 minutes before the plane flew out because of the ongoing computer problems.

I was late into San Francisco, but thankfully I had a long layover so didn't need to rush. I had plenty of time to get a simple (not so good) breakfast of eggs, sausage and toast for a mere $13. You really do need to be rich to travel! After sitting, walking, standing, walking and sitting again so as to avoid any additional fibro pain, it was time to line up to the gate to fly out...only to find the United computer problem still unresolved. The new system didn't accept boarding passes printed before the merge...anyone who'd checked in early had to check in again. I didn't let that get to me, though there was quite a bit of grumbling in the crowd. After another 45 minute delay, I was seated on the plane. In less than 2 minutes I discovered I was sitting next to grumpy pants; and within another 5 minutes, my airline attendant showed her foul mood as well. It was a  long 4 1/2 hour flight before I finally arrived in Chicago; but thankfully, we arrived safely and I'd not been snippy with anyone. Fighting through the emotions and dealing with fatigue and pain all day had taken a toll on me though.

This trip reminded me that there are so many instances in life which can affect us negatively if we allow it. Whether we are aware of it or not, our brain and heart are constantly making choices on how to deal with situations and people. We can make our day worse or better by how we respond to them. I believe that each time we make a decision to smile in the face of adversity...or at least, not outwardly scream...we are choosing a better way. It's our choice to be happy...or not. I didn't necessarily spill out with joy during my day of traveling, but I didn't bite anyone's head off either. That makes me happy. :-)

What stands out the most on my trip home was a young girl's smile. As I walked down the airplane aisle, I felt this tug on my sleeve and turned to see this small girl looking up at me. Her eyes seemed to twinkle as she showed me her sweet smile, and that one moment made me forget about the pain and fatigue, and had more impact than all the negatives put together. I believe when we allow the good feelings, however few, to outweigh the bad, God smiles too. Makes me think I should smile a little more too, so that maybe I might make it a better day for someone else...just like that little girl did for me.

Friday, March 2, 2012

It's my last day in Oregon. I've had a great time with Karen...lots of fun memories. There's no one in my life that can make me laugh more, and I trust Karen implicitly. I am so thankful for her friendship.

When looking back at my life, I never really had any true friends throughout most of it. I moved a lot growing up, and it became easy to walk away from people. In school, and as a young adult, the friends I had never really knew me. They might share themselves with me, but I never gave any part of myself to them. In the end, I knew they weren't really friends, because they were OK with just knowing who I was on the surface. In most cases that was just a face I put on to hide myself. It wasn't even really me.

It wasn't till I was near 30 years old when I became friends with Karen. I didn't go into it expecting much. She was a girl that grew up in the church...her dad was a pastor. I was a girl who more or less grew up in a bar. Many in my family were alcoholics. What could Karen and I have in common? Nothing that I could see. I'm sure Karen felt the same. God saw something different though. He used our differences to help each other grow. Through time our friendship blossomed and now 25+ years later, she has become one of the best friends I will ever have, and I am a better person because of her. I will forever be thankful to the Lord for bringing Karen into my life.

Thank you, Karen, for being someone with whom I can laugh, cry or be outright goofy. I never worry about what you'll think of me no matter what my mood. Thanks too for the free room and board the last 10 days. I'm leaving rested and more able to take on the world, because of having a friend like you in it!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I'm fasting today for good friends who are without jobs. I pray for them every time I think to, and then when I feel hunger or think of food, I pray again. I ask the Lord to bless Len & Gloria with work and the insurance they desperately need. I also pray that He give them the confidence to know that they do not walk this difficult path alone. Our God is with them every step of the way.

As I sat here feeling hunger pains earlier today, my mom came to mind again. It made me realize that during this time of fasting, I should pray again for God's help with my ongoing grief. I still can't think about my mother without crying. Tears fill my eyes as I write this. My dad died before Mom. I was very close to him too, but had a little preparation before his passing. He died from lung cancer after a two year battle. I was still struggling with losing him when Mom died a year later. Her death came without notice and I was totally unprepared for it. When she died something inside me broke. After a lifetime of being strong, in one blow I lost all my strength, both inner and outer. I collapsed into this darkness that enveloped my soul and was left with a void in my heart that no one could fill. Though on my own I scramble to find my way out of that hole I escaped into, I know that it's only God who can pull me through. So as I fast and pray for friends, I pray for me as well.

Praying for myself is something I don't do enough. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's a memory problem or maybe somewhere inside I don't feel deserving enough. It just seems easier to think about others' needs. It's been that way as far back as I can remember. I must remind myself though that I deserve the Lord's loving grace too. We all do. This road of life is too hard for anyone to drive through if not relying on God's support.

It doesn't have to be a fast when we look to God in prayer, but today I noticed that I went to the Lord more often with the needs of mine and those of my friends. Aside from the benefit of prayer, I believe this fasting time also brought me closer to the Lord. That void inside me doesn't seem so large and my soul feels a little brighter. I'm sure the loss of my mother and father will continue to have a grip on me, probably for a long time, but for now it's God's grip that I feel. I have His strength. Because of that, I see the importance of fasting, especially in the more difficult times.

Lord, I trust that you will answer my prayers...for my friends and me. I ask that along with jobs, you give Len & Gloria peace as they wait on you. I need that too. The pain of losing both parents still feels unbearable at times. At times I feel like an orphan, but when I pull myself closer to you, I know that I'm not. Mom and Dad will always be a part of me and some day I'll see them in Heaven. And I am your child now and forever, so never an orphan. Knowing that gives my heart joy. As you did today, Lord, continue to shine light into my soul so that I can shine your light onto others. I ask this in your son, Jesus' name. Amen.

Time to eat! :-)