Monday, September 26, 2011

Almighty...

Consistency... it's the rarity of life. Take, for instance, my exercise attempts; they are rarely consistent. Last Monday, I woke with a vigor to work my muscles. Tuesday morning, I was so sore I could barely move. My vigor turned sour in 24 hours time... I had over done, and that led me to under do. I find it difficult to maintain a steady pace in most everything I do in life, from exercise to Bible reading. But that's my humanity shining through.

When I think about consistency, I think God. He's right as rain all the time. He simply is, but His being a far greater than simple. The depths of God's existence are beyond comprehension, but they are steady. He was, He is, and He will continue to be. Before I was, He was. While I am, He is. And after I am gone, He will still be. There's joy in that for me, especially in this crazy modern world. We use a cup or a plate once and throw it away, so longevity has become something that can only be understood through God.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. {Genesis 1:1-2}

This is what the LORD says - Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God. Isaiah 44:6

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13

There's comfort in consistency. There's comfort in knowing that a being far greater than my comprehension was there in the beginning and will be there in the end. In fact, He was there before the beginning and will carry on past the end. Before there was structure, God was. He created the structure. He has overseen the advances of culture and society. He will call it all to an end one day. He will continue past His designated end of days. He will reign forever more. In that belief lies hope. Just to believe it, accept it as Truth, bubbles up a feeling of joy within me.

And maybe that's what we need a little more if these days in our world. Simple belief in God's magnificence. In His existence. To believe that He is who He says He is. That He can do anything. That He is alive. Many of us say that we believe, but do we really? Do we really stop each day and consider how He is in control of this big rock we are spinning on? That in one millionth of a second He could call it all to stop? Do we really soak up the power and glory that is God? I don't... but I can only speak for myself.

This week, I really want to pause and think about God. Not about reading my Bible and praying for all the sick and struggling people I know of. I want to see Him in all that's around me. I want to think about His power and strength and majesty. I want to consider Him as the Almighty. What a beautiful term... almighty. It's defined as having absolute power over all. Absolute. I don't know of any absolutes on this crazy earth other than God. Do you?

Lord... I want to know you as Almighty. I want to feel it in my imperfect self and put it to work. I want You to work your absolute power within me so that I can be closer to the person You want me to be. Amen.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Perspective

I have a long list of errands to run today. My house is a mess. The washer and dryer are both spinning right now. My face is broken out. My hair looks unkept. I am twenty pounds heavier than I should be. I am less than what I want to be.

But I am trying to keep the right perspective.

Yesterday gave me all the perspective I needed. I sat in a crowded waiting room observing those around me, taking in the many faces of sickness. There was one young man, looked to be in his 30's, bald head, red around the eyes, mask covering his mouth and nose. He and his wife passed an Ipad back and forth taking turns amusing themselves with the most modern toy. He had a thick book from a library as well, choosing to read it when his healthy looking wife monopolized the gadget. Cancer.

There was an old woman, thin and frail in stature but for a distended abdomen. She was alone and confused about her appointment time when my mother and I entered the lab for blood work. I noticed her again when she came into the large waiting room and sat beside me, still alone. Alone. Cancer.

There was a middle-aged man wheeled into the waiting room by one of the friendly red-shirted escorts seen all over the hospital granting rides to patients across the floor or to the parking deck. He was weak and stood with the assistance of a cane to get close enough to the chair to sit down. His wife carried a sick pan, rose colored plastic, the staple of every hospital room across America. She handed the pan to him, and he placed it on the floor in between his black Under Armor athletic shoes, resting his head on his knee and covering his face with the hood on his fleece jacket. Every so often, the man would spit into the pan. He raised up to relax, and I caught a glimpse of him resting his head on his wife's shoulder, eyes closed and appearing almost at peace for a minute. Cancer.

A woman sat with her back to me. Her hair caught my eye, and from my shopping excursion the other day with my mother, I could tell it was a wig. It just sat too perfectly, and the color didn't look quite right even for a salon color job. It was pretty, but it wasn't natural. Cancer.

If there's anything that will put the laundry pile and to-do list in perspective, it's sitting in that waiting room taking it all in. Taking in each face, each family, each loved one touched by this wretched disease. Cancer knows no boundaries and shows no favoritism. It doesn't care how much or how little you have, how old or how young. When it attacks, it goes at its victim in full force, no holding back. Cancer doesn't care if you've got a laundry basket full of dirty unmentionables or a backseat full of children or a life ahead of you. Cancer has no feelings, no mercy.

Cancer has made me realize what is important in life, and it has nothing to do with how many errands I can run in two hour's time, how clean my kitchen floor is, or how perfectly coordinated my wardrobe looks. It's about the laughter with loved ones, the shoulders I have to rest my head on when I'm weary, and the people I want to lean on me when they need a break. It's about people, relationships, and the miraculous love of God that's inside us all. It's about spreading that love, that hope, to as many as we can in every opportunity available to us.

So let's all try to keep it in perspective today.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A whole new kind of shopping...

Yesterday, my mom and I took a little shopping excursion.

Several days ago, she told me that it was coming out in hands full. Her hair, that is. She knew that it would all be gone in not much time, so she wanted to go ahead and find a wig. I told her I could take her, so off we went.

I didn't know until yesterday that cancer patients can visit their local chapter of the American Cancer Society to pick up a wig for free. My mother purchased her last wig for several hundred dollars, but it was never very comfortable. So she decided to take the one she had and trade it in for another.

We were led to a little room with a lighted mirror and several different styles and colors displayed. The lady that helped us pulled out bins full of options organized by color and length and style. After trying on several different wigs, my mother settled on one, a style and color a little more spunky than what she's been sporting. It's more red and the style is a little sassier, and her whole face lit up when she saw herself in it, so I knew it was the one.

I remember when I went bridal gown shopping (the first wasted time around) and I walked out of the dressing room in the gown I would eventually choose... her face lit up at the sight of me in the gown, and that's really what led me to choose it. I liked the way she thought I looked in it. I liked her reaction to me in it. It's how I wanted to be seen on that day, and so it's the one I picked. When I saw that same look on her face in the wig she selected, I knew it was the one for her. It's how she wants to be seen... a little spunkier, sassier and more red than what she was losing. She looks beautiful in it.

I had the pleasure to see a gorgeous human hair wig as well. I had never seen one, but boy are they different! It's like a real head of hair that you can run your fingers through and style with curling irons or other heated tools. I have been growing my hair out to donate, but until yesterday, was uncertain of which company I would be sending my locks. Pantene Beautiful Lengths takes donated hair and turns them into FREE human hair wigs for women fighting cancer! FREE! The Montgomery chapter of the American Cancer Society only had one wig while we were there yesterday, but she said that a lady had just walked out with the other one they had a few days before. She told us that they never really know what they'll have or which styles or colors will come in, and the patients that happen upon the right color, length, and style of human hair wig are incredibly blessed. It certainly reignited my passion to donate my healthy head of hair and keep it growing!

So, is anyone else out there interested in donating? Click here to read the details... watch the video. It's several minutes long, but it's more than worth your time. And grow, grow, grow that hair to make some one's recovery and battle against cancer a tiny bit better.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Miss Merry

I just deleted another email in my spam folder. This one was different, and I almost opened it just to see what it was all about because of one thing... it was from Miss Merry.

I could use a little Miss Merry in my life.

Things are settling down in my life for a little while. My mother got a good report on Thursday at her oncologist's office. The chemo is working, and my dad said that the oncologist actually smiled when he said the words significant improvement to my mother about her liver functions. I think that's the first time we've heard the word improvement at all in our second journey through the cancer battle field. She will have another treatment this coming Thursday, and we can rest a little easy in knowing that they have found a medicine to keep her cancer in check for a little while. That means more time with my sweet Mama, and that is precious news.

But I still find my emotions in overdrive. In the midst of the obvious issue of my life ~ my mother's illness ~ also comes a job change for my husband, battling through fifth grade homework and attitude, and fibromyalgia overload. My brain cells are whirling and twirling at various speeds in my mind, and I honestly feel like I am going nuts. I am not spending enough time with God, and it shows.

I know all the verses about not worrying and not being anxious and prayer and petition to God, but when you try to play it out in real time, sometimes things don't go as planned. When you carry the weight in your heart instead of on your shoulders, things feel different. Try as we may, there are times in life when letting go and letting God is more difficult than we anticipate. My level of anxiety has reached an all time high in the last few weeks, and rightfully so. And in the wake of good news, it's taking some time for my insides to slow down, for the imaginary propeller to slow itself down after the motor has been turned off.

What I have learned in the past few weeks is this... no matter what I am doing in life, I need my time with God. When I skip out on that quiet time with Him, I suffer. And then everyone in my household suffers. I bubble and boil over, and it's not pretty.

So this morning I am pondering this verse in a different light...
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139:23-24

See if there is any offensive way in me... that's the part I am pondering this morning. Slow me down, Lord, and lead me. Maybe I will find Miss Merry.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Well, here goes...

I'm not much of a blogger lately. Every time I sit down to write a post, I just can't finish it. But here's my attempt to catch up all of those on the edge of their seat for an update on my life!

My mother had an impromptu appointment with her oncologist last Thursday. She was scheduled for her second round of chemo, but with all the problems she had been having, he wanted to see her. In fact, he made a special trip to the office to do so (she was scheduled for lab work at 9:00, and he doesn't see patients until 1:00 in the afternoon). He's a pretty amazing doctor. Her liver functions had improved, and the doctor decided to put the treatment off a week to give her a chance to rest a little and in hopes that some of her negative side effects would diminish. As of yesterday, she is still in a lot of pain. She's experiencing sores in her mouth, under her tongue, and some in the upper part of her throat. Please continue to pray for her... even if the chemo is doing its job, if she's in as much pain an discomfort as she is, it makes every day difficult for her. She will have her 2nd round this Thursday, and prayers are greatly appreciated.

We took Madalyn to her first Auburn game this past Saturday. We scored eight free tickets from a friend of ours, so our family and Scott's brother and his little boy made the trip. That left us two extra seats and plenty of room to breathe. On the way to the game, Madalyn seemed to be most excited to see Aubie, which surprised me a little. I figured she'd be most interested in the cheerleaders. We sat pretty high... perhaps the highest I have ever sat at a game. But we were able to see everything, and don't forget the word FREE. Madalyn had a great time and didn't really complain until the end of the 3rd quarter, at which time a trip to the concession stand for a $5.50 funnel cake and a sit down in the shade to eat it calmed her spirits and put her back in the mood to cheer her Auburn Tigers on to a nail-biting victory.

Yesterday afternoon, I went and picked up my mom and brought her back up to Alabaster to watch Madalyn cheer. I was so glad that she felt up to doing it. The weather was perfect, which is rare in Alabama ever, much less this time of year. It was warm, but not hot or humid, and the air cooled off nicely as the sun went down. Madalyn was so excited to have her Gammie there, and I was able to get her a chair in just the right spot to see her well. It really ended up being the perfect experience, and Scott was able to tend to the kids while I picked up and dropped off my mother. Seeing both my mother and my daughter smiling because of one another made me smile on the inside. There really are no words for that...

I'm working away on my necklaces, and coming up with some new ideas. I've been tossing one idea around in my head for a very long time, and I think I have finally come up with a way of bringing it to fruition. We'll see. The ideas aren't the hard part... putting it all together is. But that's also the fun... I really enjoy using my creative spirit and my hands to make something beautiful, and I am so grateful to have it as a diversion right now. Beyond grateful.

Okay... not my typical post. But I am not my typical self right now. I can't explain the things going on within me, and I wish I could wax poetic on some random topic, but it's just not in me right now... hoping it returns soon. I miss me. Well, you know what I mean...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Crazy kind of lovely...

I have a love hate relationship with leaves. Yes... leaves. Seems strange, I know, but if you lived my life, you'd share the passion for the leaves that hovers over the invisible line between love and hate. I promise.

Tropical Storm Lee breezed through on Sunday. It rained, and rained, and then rained some more. And the wind ~ my word, the wind gusts were amazing! The weather man said our gusts topped out at 35 miles per hour, but I think they were a little stronger than that. Street signs were blown off their posts and healthy branches knocked from their trees. And there were approximately five billion leaves in the pool. No exaggeration... five billion. A lot. In the top, in the bottom, in the skimmers. They were all over the pool deck, stuck to the side of the house, and covering the grass. It's not even officially fall, and I would guesstimate that between 10 and 15 % of the leaves are already down.

Here's where the hate part of the relationship with the leaves comes in; it's all about the pool. I love the leaves when they are turning colors on the trees or when they are blowing in the breeze an making that pretty sound that only leaves can. But when there are 5 billion of them in the pool that have to come out, I am not so fond of them. Their beauty and purpose takes a back burner to my aggravation with them.

Yesterday afternoon, I arrived home around 2:40 from a day at my mom's house. She's not well. That's the best way I can phrase it... she's just not well anymore. I did a few things there, and we had lunch together, and I came home and sat in my chair in complete silence until my kids walked in the door from school. When they went to play with friends, I got out the blower and set to work, bad attitude about the stinking leaves in tow. Step one of the removal process was to blow all the leaves off the pool deck and the patio areas. As I blew, the sound of the gas motor lulled my mind into this weird state of consciousness, thinking about everything but nothing at all. I began to notice little flickers of color here and there. Gold. Bright orange. Deep red. Stunning greens. And then I heard this little voice say to me...

There is beauty in everything.

Amidst a sea of annoying leaves were these bursts of vivid colors. They stood out so much though they were infinitely smaller in number from the brownish dying ones. And so I thought about my mom, about her hurting, her struggling for air, her fighting this horrific fight that no one should have to battle through. And I realized that I can find little specks of beauty throughout it all. They are small... minute in comparison to all the ugly she's dealing with... but they are there. Bits of color. Bits of crazy beauty. Bits of brightness and boldness.

I can't explain this feeling, this mourning and pain that comes along with watching a loved one suffer. There is no word in the English language to encompass it. But one piece of beauty that streams forth from it is letting go of my own selfishness. Learning to be of service to someone you love. Learning to pray differently. Learning to let go of my will and truly seek out His. Learning to literally set out blindly in faith that He will take care of her needs, my needs, my father's needs , and my brothers as He has promised so many times in the Word. Learning that the depth of my pain is equal to the worth my mother has brought to my life. Amidst all these ugly bits of brown and fading green pop forth the little specks of brightness. My battle is to hold on to those somehow... to keep my focus on the beautiful and not the ugliness. By no means is this an easy task.

And, so, this will be my prayer...

... See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If this is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Matthew 6:28-34

I used to think this Scripture applied more to worrying about financial needs, but now I see it in a different light. It's worrying about earthly needs, which is much broader than just clothing and food. I long to let go of my earthly needs and lean more on the Father. He has everything under his control, right down to the minute wildflowers that burst forth in bright color amidst the grasses and weeds of the field. And if that's not a crazy kind of lovely, then I don't know what is.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Saturday Song

I have this memory.

My tiny body fit perfectly in her lap, feet dangling over her knees. One hand reached for the warmth of her coffee cup, the contents smelling better than they tasted. I had tasted Daddy's coffee one morning in the kitchen when no one was looking, and it made no sense to me why anyone drank it.

No one else was awake. My two brothers were still asleep in the second bedroom on the left down the hall. A wall separated our color schemes... mine all girly yellow gingham bedding, one wall of tiny yellow flowered wall paper, complete with green and white shag carpet, theirs red, white and blue with bunk beds and dirty clothes on the floor. My daddy was probably asleep, too; he worked a paper route and would often crawl back in bed after throwing countless numbers of rolled papers out the window before the sun came up.

In that moment, it was just me and her, the girls of the house, with our matching brown hair and brown eyes. We probably talked about what we'd do that day. It was Saturday, a day different from any other in the week. A day of nothingness with no work or school or hustle or bustle. A day to spend any way we saw fit. And she had a song about it... we called it the Saturday Song. So she sang it for me as I sat in her lap, and we relished in the promise of the beautiful Saturday ahead of us.

Today is not Saturday at all. It's Friday. But I woke with the Saturday Song on my mind. I woke with my mother on my mind. I woke thinking of her, who she is, who she has been for me, who she makes me want to be.

I'll have the Saturday song stuck in my head all day long.