Saturday, July 31, 2010

door opener

so, the other day i drove myself to the doctor's office. this was a big deal because my neurologist's office is 14 miles away from my house. i am pretty sure that is the furthest i have driven in MONTHS!! that was quite an accomplishment for me. not only because it meant not having to get ryan to pack up all the kiddos and do it for me, but because of the amazing freedom i got from it too. i had no idea how God would use it, too. (more on that in a minute)

the freedom, (or lack thereof) is something that comes to me in waves. most of the time i don't even know that i miss it. but, then i get in the car and start to drive, and i realize that i haven't been alone in weeks. well, not for more than a few minutes. i guess i drive myself to my chiropractor's appointment pretty much every week now, and so i am alone then, but that is only like 4 miles away, so does that really count? i guess in my world, it does. i don't ever get to run errands on my own. i am just never alone. i don't do grown up stuff, like go to work.....pick up the dry cleaning ( i always think of this as being a grown up thing...still something i have never done! :) laziness really, if it can't all be washed and dried together, i generally don't buy it. wow--i have veered off big time this time......

and....we're back. point is...that, here i am, driving myself to the doctor.....sitting in traffic...looking around at all these people in their cars...all these other self-sufficient adults...wondering what their stories are. do they have any idea this is the furthest i've driven in months? do they have any idea how fortunate they are to be healthy? to be able to just drive around all day and live a "normal" life. see? this taste of freedom sometimes comes with a price. it sometimes reminds me of how much i miss having a "normal" life. oh how the enemy tried to sneak in here and tell me things like "you are not going to get better"..."you will never be the same"...."there really is something still wrong with just think this is almost over".....ugh, he is nothing if not persistent. he also has a way of wanting me to think that i have it so bad and that no one understands and i am all alone in this. this is where getting out among the "real world" can be tough, because i am reminded of all of these other people who do seem to have freedom....freedom that i have missed so much. fortunately, i am listening to klty on the drive there and God has a beautiful way of bringing me close to Him through song, and so my selfishness is diffused during that 14 miles and thankfulness seeps back in to where it belongs. i have so very much to be thankful for. so very much.

so, back to the whole point of this post......

i arrive at the doctor's office. i am a bit flustered because i am a tad late. just a tad, but enough to almost make me have to miss the appointment. my body doesn't handle stress well at all right now, so i was able to get to the office, (don't get me started about finding a parking spot and the loooong walk to the front door) and take a seat in the waiting room.

sit. calm down. relax. deep breaths. ah, sit and read about carrie underwood's wedding. she loves Jesus, read about that.

i took stock of the waiting room. i was, as i have often been these last few months, about 45 years younger than the rest of the patients waiting for their turn. i can't tell you how many times i have sat in a waiting room with me, my retired parents who have had to drive me everywhere...and then a number or elderly people waiting their turn and their young relatives waiting to help them. it's me and the old folks. it's almost become funny. not really though. almost.

so, after a few minutes of reading about carrie underwood, and her precious pink wedding, an elderly lady was entering the office and i jumped up (as much as i can "jump" up, mind you) to help her with the door. she smiled and nodded at me to thank me and i smiled back and said "you are more than welcome, ma'am"
then, within just a few minutes more, a sweet man came out of the doctor's office in a hover-round (which, over the last few months, i have learned to maneuver better than you would believe!) and as i saw that he was ready to exit, i hurried (again, perspective here) up to open the door for him. you wouldn't believe how hard it is to grab a door for yourself that opens inward if you are driving one of those bad boys. anyway....he smiled and thanked me and i, of course said "no problem, sir, have a great day, God bless you!"

after these two back to back door opener jobs, i went back to my seat and as i was headed back, a sweet older woman who was seated waiting her turn said kindly, "well, aren't you being so helpful today, young lady!" she sounded so very surprised and happy that i had helped these people. mind you, all i had done was open the door a couple times. but still, you could just tell she was impressed. i smiled and without really thinking, i said, "well, thank you ma'am, yes, well, i know how hard it can be to get around, i am happy to help!" we smiled at each other and then i sat back down to read. i looked up at her a few times, seeing if we would make eye contact, because i am always happy to carry on a conversation with a complete stranger, anytime, anyplace. but, she stared quietly at the floor and i respected her silence. besides, i was a busy girl, with two more door openings in the next few minutes. the sweet lady just smiled.

i was a little surprised at my response, and i am sure she was too. after all, i was the "spring chicken" in the waiting room. i am sure she thought "what in the world do you know about it being hard to get around?" sigh. boy did i.

the waiting room cleared out and it was just myself and my new "friend" and what i assumed was her daughter. then her name was called. they both stood up and the daughter gathered their purses. as they began to leave, i noticed that the older lady had forgotten her bottle of water under her chair. i stopped her and said, "ma'am, wait, you forgot your water." she thanked me and said, "you are just so sweet!" i smiled and said "no problem at all".

i couldn't believe it. it really struck me. what had i done?? honestly, it somewhat bothered me a bit. ok, so i opened a door for a couple people and i reminded a sweet old lady not to forget her water? is that not what anyone would do? i know i have been very much out of the loop lately...i have spent most of my days at home, in a doctor's office, in church..and, well, that's pretty much it....but has the world really gotten that much worse?? are things really that bad? i couldn't help but sit and wonder why this sweet old lady was so taken aback by these simple things i had done. it made me sad. but then happy too. happy that i was able to make her happy. thankful that God let me make her smile. oh how i pray that so many more people are kind to her. how hard is it to be kind? really?? it drives me absolutely BONKERS that people can't just be kind. in traffic. to their waiters, regardless of the service they receive. at the pharmacy. to telemarketers just doing their jobs. it really that difficult? answer: NO!

as God would have i was leaving my appointment, i walked down the hallway and got to the elevators and guess who was standing there waiting for the elevator? that's was the sweet old lady and her daughter. i was sooo excited! i hurried (as much as i could!) to make sure we rode the elevator together. when she saw me, she smiled. the doors opened and we all stepped in. her daughter was giving her instructions and as we all got out, she told her that she was going on ahead to get the car and for her to wait right outside. i asked my new friend if she wanted to brave the "turny-roundy-door-thingy" (not sure the technical name for those types of doors, but you get the idea) because they can be tricky, or if she'd like me to just open the other door for her? she said, "young lady, you are just so kind!" i said "ya know, ma'am, God tells us to be that way, i'm happy to help you!" she said, somewhat somberly "well, i guess He does, doesn't He?" and i said, "yes, He does!"

i asked if she wanted me to wait under the shade with her until her daughter came, and she said, no, that she was fine, she would just wait and lean against the column. to be honest, i was feeling pretty wiped out myself, and without even thinking i said, "you know, i know all about having to lean like that!" she looked shocked and said "YOU?" and my face dropped, and i said "yes. me. ok, then, God bless you, take care."

with that, i was gone. i began my looooong walk in the 156 degree heat back to my car and before i had even hit row one in the parking lot- i lost it. i started crying. ugly cry, too. i passed two cute little pharmaceutical reps walking by, pulling their briefcase thingys that must have thought i'd lost my ever-loving mind. oh well, i probably have.

all of a sudden i felt all sorts of emotions.

still upset that such small acts of kindness had meant so much to this lady, why weren't more people kind in this world? i'm sure they are, in fact, i know people are, but i guess, not to least not lately.

and dangit, i am kind, but what does it matter, i am stuck at home all the time, with no end to this ridiculous medical drama in my life in site...(just being honest)

happy that i blessed this lady in some small way

sad because i am stinking 31 years old and honestly, this lady moved better than i did

mad that i knew i drove that hover-round better than the guy who had clearly owned it a long time

why should i have to go through all this?

why should i look at this sweet 85 year old lady and be able to tell her i know what it's like to have to find a column to lean against??

frustrated that i am about to turn the calendar on yet another month and i STILL feel this way

so blessed to have gotten to be a part of talking about God to this lady and His loving kindness

thankful that He used me, even in such a tiny way

by the time i got to my car and my phone was ringing and i saw it was one of my best friends, i almost didn't answer it, but i did. boy, did she not know what she was getting into by calling me right then. but, then again, she is my friend, one of the best. so she's knows there is always a chance. :)

overall, i am good. i am thankful. so grateful when i look back at how very far God has brought me over these last ten months of this trial. i still cannot fully function in my normal life. so not even close. but He has brought me far. i must remember that. but sometimes i just can't help it when the emotions rush in like that....anger, thankfulness, gratitude, worry, joy, frustration, uneasiness, peace, faith, seems unlikely that they'd all come together, but they do sometimes, one huge melting pot of emotions, and thankfully God knows them all. and loves me still. i am committed to stick by Him through this. it's really more of a hanging onto Him for dear life, clinging to Him, the only thing that can get me through....that is a more accurate picture.

and before you think i am "tooting my own horn" for being such an amazing person on this day. c'mon seriously.....i opened a door for a few people. you can't honestly think i would brag about that. if you think that is worth bragging about, then seriously check yourself. for real people :)

and while i have you....please go be kind. please. just do it. obey Jesus and act like Him. it is that simple. seriously. i will never forget what it used to say at the end of an old dc talk song, back in the day..."the greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians. who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyles. that is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable!" get out there and prove that wrong!!!! amen and amen.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

ms. ississippi it has been almost a month since i have written anything. what is that about? i'll tell you. travel. busy. no time to sit and have cohesive thoughts. i love my kids. so very much actually. sometimes, too much. sometimes, i allow myself to put them and ryan waaay before myself and then don't let myself have time to do things like this that i want to do. plus, i have been waaaay tired lately, thanks to my not-friend (aka - steroids i am tapering off of) so when i do get time to sit and be with me...i sit in a semi-vegetative state in front of the tv watching my guilty pleasure - gilmore girls - and turn my brain completely off. yes, i am feeling convicted.

but this is not good. lately, i have really been missing out on my true, genuine QUALITY time with God. i'm still doing my morning devo...i'm still doing my homework for my Bible study on tuesday nights...but my heart is still missing something. interesting isn't it, that a person can be "doing" all that and still not "feel" like they are as close to God as they were a month ago. proof that it isn't about the "doing", huh? gee, i bet the pharisees would beg to differ. and i'm just being honest here...when left to myself, i tend to go back to "my old ways". don't know about you....but my "old ways" sound a little like this...WORRY, fear with a c-a-p-i-t-a-l "F", selfishness, pride, controlling nature, jealousy, that enough for now? unfortunately, i could go on. do you still like me? still think highly of me? ah yes...add people pleasing to the list. sigh.

so i've been thinking a lot lately about the most adorable story that happened on our recent marathon trip to florida. (i will get to the story in a minute) i know that i can't really complain about this "marathon" trip as i'm calling it. i mean, my dad and step-mom came with us to help with the kids, which in my current medical condition was a must. soooo thankful for that. and my sweet dad rented a 12 passenger van, which was an absolute LIFE-SAVER because i got to ride in the very back row and basically lie down the entire trip. that was HUGE! what a blessing!! i can't complain because now-a-days travel with kids is sooo easy thanks to portable dvd's, the silly games on ryan's iphone, numerous books and games that make noise to entertain baby abigail, coloring books, cd's with fun sing-a-long songs, ipods for mommy and daddy's sanity....who can complain about that? the days of license plate bingo and I-spy as the only games to play are long since over. but, with three children five and under in a van for hours and hours and hours....yes, the long and winding road can seem just that...looooong and winding.

but, back to the cute story.... we had prepared the kids for a while that we were going to see "maka", (ryan's adorable 93-year-old grandmother) in florida....and even though they had met her a few times, they are little and didn't remember her very well. so...we talked a big talk about this trip and did our best to get them hyped up. it worked, they were stoked! but, a few hours into the trip, we realized that we had accidentally misspoke because we were technically going to be stopping in mississippi to stay overnight and break the trip up into two days (oh, my oh my, what a wise move) so...we had to begin again with the pumping up...."hey guys...we forgot to tell you something fun....we are stopping in mississippi for tonight to stay in a hotel and then we will wake up tomorrow and see maka, ok?!!!" we talked about how cool a hotel is, since they really didn't know what that was - we don't travel much. and how nice mississippi was...and so on and so forth. it worked ok, no one was too sad about not seeing maka. whew.

this would be a good time to tell you that we require our kiddos to use "good manners" as often as humanly possible for three and five year olds. please and thank you, and yes and no ma'am. and of course, they call all adults by using mr. and ms. they are used to it and honestly do a great job!

but it still took us by surprise when our sweet benjamin said what he said on our road trip. we had been driving for most of the day (remember, looooong and winding) ....and then we switched gears on them and said we weren't heading to see maka after all, instead we were going to mississippi. so...sweet benjamin asked innocently and tiredly after being such a trooper the whole trip, "mama, are we almost to mississippi's house yet? can she throw me the ball real high?" sweet boy. he thought that we were going to see "ms. ississppi", some lady he didn't know, but who hopefully had a strong throwing arm. we all laughed at his innocence. his darling, but incredibly detail and factual-oriented big brother responded somewhat out of frustration, "no benjmain, mississippi is a state!" well, he might as well been trying to explain cold fusion to the kid, because at age three, benjamin has no concept of what a "state" is...which was obvious to his response "oh ok, well, can she throw the ball?" :)

they went back and forth a few times more, with jacob growing a bit more frustrated each time that benjamin still thought ms. ississippi was someone we were going to see...he really wanted his little brother to "get it" and benjamin just wanted to have someone throw him the ball. and in true benjamin fashion, his joyful ignorance just got better. as we got closer to our destination for the night (aka - heaven! :) benjamin asked again, "mama, how far are we?" i checked the gps device and told him "we are almost there...only 17 more miles, buddy" to which he joyfully told his brother (even though jacob heard me too :) but he just LOVES to share good news...

benjamin: "jacob, we are only 17 miles away (no, he doesn't know really what that meant either), we are almost there, to see....wait...what is the name of the lady at the hotel, mama??"
me:"what lady at at the hotel, buddy?"
benjamin: "the lady at the hotel"
me: "we're not going to see maka tonight buddy, remember?"
benjamin: "nooo, mama, the lady at the hotel"
me: remembering which "lady" he was talking about..."you mean, ms. ississippi?"
benjamin: " YA! jacob, we are almost there to see ms. ississippi at the hotel, jacob!!!"
jacob: rolls his eyes again and replies "b-e-n-j-a-m-i-n mississippi is a STATE!"
benjamin just smiles and ignores that last comment. unaware that he is wrong. unaware that he has annoyed his brother. unaware that he is completely misinterpreting what is going on, "who" we are going to see and where we are headed.
and as we pull into the hotel, he unbuckles his carseat and shouts joyfully, "oh, i can't wait to see what she looks like!!"
"she" of course, is ms. ississippi.


fortunately benjamin has a fairly short attention span and is somewhat easily distracted, so a large fountain in the foyer of the hotel, coupled with the "cool" hotel key cards distracted him from the fact that ms. ississippi wasn't actually there. :) not only is this story just precious because of the way that his sweet little mind works. but i love that it shows how different my two boys are. how God took two boys from the same two parents and made them so very, very different. but as i sat and stared at the back of his sweet little dusty blonde head for those last 17 miles, i thought a lot about God. and it has been something i have been throwing around in my fake highlighted blonde head for weeks now.

i am benjamin. or at least i should be. so often i am not. so very often. what do i mean? let me see if i can explain.....because it hit me so hard all at once.

i have such a tendency to worry. it is not something i am proud of at all. really, i'm not. ashamed actually. i should be over this stupid thing by now. but i'm not. God is still working this out in me. so thankful He hasn't given up on me. and it is times like this one that i THANK HIM for showing me how i should be. i sat there, like i said and stared at benjamin....happily strapped in his carseat for this trip. safe. secure. protected in so many ways. his loving and strong daddy behind the wheel, in complete control of where we are going. benjamin has NO CLUE where we are going. he isn't even sure that the "where" we are going isn't a "she" instead. we have gone to great lengths to ensure that this trip for him would not only be safe and secure...but, because we love him sooooo much....we wanted it to be comfortable and enjoyable...we planned and planned ahead of time to make it fun as well. he is surrounded by those he loves and who love him. and he just sits there...all strapped in...just happy to be along for the ride. he doesn't fully understand what is going fact, he is dead wrong about ms. isissippi, but boy he can't wait to see what she looks like. :) such pure joy! and ya know what else??? not once, did he ask to drive. he never looked up at ryan and said, "dad, i know i am too small to drive this thing, too unwise to operate this van, too immature to handle it, but i want to anyway, i think i can do a better job than you!!" not once did benjamin ask if the route we were taking was the best route, or did he offer a different route that HE thought was best. he just sat there.....the whole ride. happy to be there. COMPLETELY TRUSTING THAT HIS DADDY WOULD GET HIM WHEREVER HE WAS SUPPOSED TO GO.


oh, if i could just be like that. if i could just trust that well.

God, you have loved me and known me before the foundation of the world. you know exactly what time i will go to bed tonight. you know the number of hairs on my head. you know the names of my great-grandparents and the names of my great grandchildren. you were. you are. you will be. why, oh why do i act like such a fool sometimes??? why can't i just sit back in my perfectly safe carseat and enjoy the scenery? the multiple things you have provided for me to enjoy on this ride? the loved ones you have placed on this ride with me? i cannot even fathom all you have going on right now. in my life. in my kiddos' lives. in ryan's life. in everyone's lives around me and not around me. why must i worry about the future? worry is sin. and i am sorry Lord, for you are good and perfect and i love you and desire to please you. i thank you that you never tire of me and that you have a plan for me. your plan is best. your plan for me, and my family. help me God, as ONLY you can, to enjoy this wonderful ride i am on with you. may i shine YOUR joy so that others' lives may be touched by YOUR joy. may i bear MUCH fruit and may you receive the glory. no matter how i'm "feeling" that day. no matter if i get well when i want to. no matter what. because you God and i am not. whew. sooo glad about that one. thank you for your grace. it is unending and i am so undeserving. i love you. amen.

just so you know....we had a wonderful trip in florida. and our sweet benjamin...on the way home...once again through mississippi touched my heart again when he said with joyful expectation, "maybe this time we will see Mr. sippi, mama?!!" so sweet. just so sweet.