Monthly Archives: December 2013

What She Found in the Closet

Personality. My daughter has it. In fact, she has so much personality she has little time for things like cleaning her room on her own. Personality people love group activities and let’s face it: cleaning your own room isn’t a group activity. Greta loves to help in groups and will be the first to volunteer and she’s great at cheering on the team. That’s why we love personality people.

But her room is still a mess and the boys don’t wan to make it a group activity that Greta will love and help their little sister out. So we bribe them. Matthew is paid to work in the room for a while. Greta is thrilled to have company on doing a chore and the room gets cleaned. We gloss over the arguments and chalk them up to simple sibling rivalry.

The next morning, Greta came out with a huge smile and one of her recently rediscovered treasures, found deep in the recesses of her previously hideous closet. It was an envelope full of homemade cards from the kids at her school – from when she was in the hospital. She came out waving the envelope and shouting to the world:

See mommy, people do love and care about me.

Of course I responded that I never had any doubt and smiled, and tried not to cry, as Greta read card after homemade card from different schoolmates expressing that she get well soon and how much they loved and missed her. It’s been two years since our lives changed and ADEM came to our home, but those words of love and encouragement still found loving reception in Greta’s heart, and mine.

I told my class at church – I wish everyone could go clean their closet and find an envelope full of the love and encouragement folks have given them when they went through a difficult time – and remember that people still love and care about them. Go ahead, right now. Go clean out the closet of your memories. Don’t dwell on the obstacles and hurts. Remember the love and support of those who stood by you and perhaps even carried you through that time. Like Greta, hold those precious memories high and say to yourself that it’s true! People still love and care about me!

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Filed under ADEM, Community, Family, Parenting

Focus Woman, Focus!

We hit a muskrat with our Toyota Camry. Estimates are it has done about $800 worth of damage. Not fun. Christmas, taking a youth group to a big event in Florida in January and still trying to get a son through his senior year of high school – now isn’t a good time to cough up some of that green stuff to fix the car.

And while we are at it, why do we always get stuck with used cars? How come we had to get a real winner, a Camry with a damage title, and the stupid key fobs won’t work unless we invest hundreds of dollars to replace the car’s computer system? I could go on and on, but God stopped me.

It was like He was waving His hands up and down and jumping for emphasis. “Focus Woman, Focus! Look at what you do have.”

When our family needed a second vehicle and there weren’t many affordable options, someone hooked us up with this Camry for a very competitive price. The mechanic we usually take our vehicles to gives my husband a ministerial discount. I could go on and on – and this time God probably won’t stop me. I’m much happier when I’m counting my blessings instead of focusing on a few trivial bumps in the road.

It’s really simple, but it’s sometimes very¬† hard. Choosing to count our blessings instead of dwelling on what’s going wrong at the moment isn’t the natural choice for us folks. But that’s okay, because I happen to know Someone in the supernatural business. Through God’s grace, He can transform my life and give me a character like Christ’s. The car will get taken care of eventually. Perhaps most important is taking my heart to God’s garage for a tune up.

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Filed under Community, Spirituality

Information Overload

It doesn’t happen very often, but I saw my oldest son go through information overload this weekend. Perhaps it comes from being a senior in high school and having in less than two months time the following: SAT, ACT and semester final exams. The finals start tomorrow. I’m hoping Michael recovers from the ACT in time to switch gears to finals.

There comes a point where you’ve pushed yourself too much, too far, too fast and you have to disengage. We tried all sorts of things to help Michael relax from the test so he could get back to regular homework assignments due Monday morning, but it was laughter that finally eased the tension. As the wise man said, a merry heart is like a good dose of medicine!

Overload is easy to experience, especially around the holiday times. Before your natural instincts to shut down and disengage go into autopilot – make sure you take some time to laugh. Watch some kids playing at a playground. Read a corny joke book. Watch one of the “Thou Shalt Laugh” presentations or post a joke on social media and ask others to keep it going.

The people around you want to stay connected, so take a moment to laugh instead of having to disengage. Enjoy the holiday season. Laugh!!

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Filed under Community, Family, Parenting

You’re Thankful for WHAT???

Long. Difficult. Discouraging. My Crohn’s journey has been all of this and more. But this week, I actually thanked God for my Crohn’s Disease.

Trust me, I know you’re thinking “what in the world?” right now and I get that. I was too at first. But I’ve been studying and praying a lot about issues in life. I’ve seen how being weak and having to depend on God’s grace has taught me to not be so much thinking that I could do it all myself. That’s my personality. Just tell me I can’t do something and I’ll prove to you that I can!

I came to the realization that the convenience and comforts of this life were far more important to me than I wanted to admit. I was so focused on having a “dream come true” life right here and now that I wasn’t really planning on the eternal life spoken of so much in the Bible.

Do I wish I get could get through a day without pain? You better believe it! No more fatigue, anemia induced hair loss or plaguing side symptoms of Crohn’s Disease? Of course! But I already have that promised to me. There are a lot of other folks out there that don’t have any hope whatsoever. They look at the crazy mixed up world around us and think this is all there is. And that’s a pretty pathetic outlook on life.

So I’m going to quit spending so much time praying for healing and understanding why I have to suffer with Crohn’s and focus instead on the fact that I know of a future without Crohn’s. I know of a future without death, suffering and pain. And it’s about time I shared this hope with others who need to hear it.

Pity party over. Time to spread some good news. This isn’t all there is. You can have more. It’s yours free because of something called amazing grace!

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Filed under Crohn's Disease, Spirituality

The Forgiven Restaurant

There is a saying that goes something like this: You fool me once, shame on you; you fool me twice, shame on me. No one likes to be snookered. Those who have been burned once often make sure they can’t be burned again. Who can blame them? I was determined not to get burned twice – at a “terrible” restaurant.

I have been a vegetarian for more than 20 years. I can assure you, that unless you lived in some “pocket” of vegetarian population, there just weren’t many options for vegetarians 20 years ago in restaurants. Grilled cheese or Mac&Cheese are good fail safes for most, but since my body can’t process cheese (thanks to Crohn’s surgery), I had even less options than other vegetarians. The last thing I needed was to eat at a restaurant that insisted on penalizing me for getting my dish without the meat.

That’s exactly what happened one day at lunch with my coworkers. I asked for a salad without the meat. I’m willing to pay the full price still, I just don’t want the meat. The server told me I would have to pay an upcharge for the change. Seriously? You guys can use that meat for something else and I’m going to pay you to do that? I bit the bullet and ordered the salad so my friends and I didn’t have to find another restaurant on our already short lunch break. But the restaurant made it on my list of places never to return to service.

About a year ago, a “Get Healthy Marshall” program came to town. Many experts came talking about the health benefits of a simpler, plant based diet. The Mayor of Marshall, Texas, was all for it as he had seen his own health issues improve after adopting a more healthy lifestyle. Several restaurants in town went public with offering special menus to be in accordance with the new “plant strong” lifestyle. And it is very popular in Marshall, Texas!

Karl and I went for lunch today. To the “terrible” restaurant as they are now on the list of establishments offering a healthier fare. I went with full knowledge that a “better” restaurant down the street was available if this terrible restaurant still tried to penalize people for being vegetarians. The options were few. Other restaurants have a lot more plant strong offerings, but it was delicious! The atmosphere was perfect for our lunch and the service was spot on. When paying for our meal, I told the owner about giving her restaurant a second chance and being glad that I did.

When she heard my story, she admitted that whoever had insisted on charging me extra for leaving off the meat was probably someone without much food service experience and who didn’t work for her for very long. She was grateful that I had given her restaurant a second chance and thrilled that we enjoyed our experience there today.

I walked out of that restaurant having no desire to carry a grudge about what had happened in the past, and thankful for grace. I gave that restaurant grace and a second chance. But God had given me grace, extended forgiveness to me when I was unforgiving toward others that had harmed me. God reminded me that I’ve had my share of second chances.

Was there a risk that I would have gotten “burned” again? Of course. Life is full of risks. But God risked everything to extend grace to me. I’m glad He prompted me to extend grace to this restaurant. Besides the beauty of forgiveness, I tasted one of the best veggie sandwiches ever!

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Filed under Community, Health & Wellness, Healthy Lifestyle, Spirituality

When Heinz 57 is a Good Thing

There was always one answer missing. No matter how hard I looked on those multiple choice forms, there was never a “Heinz 57” on the list. So I grew up filling out Iowa Tests of Basic Skills forms with resentment each year (as well as many other forms) with the plain old “white” or “Caucasian” because I don’t have enough of any one thing in me to be predominant. But then again, that’s a good thing. Like last night.

Last night was our church’s annual International Christmas Festival. We celebrate all of the cultures represented in our church as well as this special time of year. Folks are invited to dress in a way that reflects their heritage, if they so desire, and bring a food dish representative of their culture. Last year, Karl and the kids went as the Germans they are (I have a little in me) and I went as a Native American. Karl took Streusel Kuchen, and I took Native American Fry Bread. But because of our varied heritages, we were able to choose a different culture to represent at this year’s festival. Last night we went with the English-Welsh side of the family (Karl’s mother and who knows where it comes from in me).

We dressed in lady and knight costumes and served English scones with preserves and tea. Evidently English scones are hard to come by in East Texas. The leftovers were claimed, with quite a bit of demand, actually. Even the peach/apricot preserves were victims of kidnapping by the church media director. We also got to enjoy guacamole made by our Honduran friends and cassava cakes by our friends from the Philippines. What a night!

What culture will we represent next year? Well, since my DNA test came back 19% sub-Saharan African, it might be time to represent the soul side of me. This is what makes being a regular Heinz 57 of races and ethnicities so much fun. I want to proudly celebrate each and every part of my heritage. Why limit it to only one? Things have gotten better over the years on those dreaded forms demanding to know my race and ethnicity. They haven’t figured out “melting pot American” yet, so I click the best answer I can which is finally now available. “Prefer not to answer.” If I can’t claim every single part of my ethnicity then I’d rather not say anything at all.

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Filed under Community, Family