29 January 2009

My Finger Woes....

... or should I say, my thumb!
CAUTION.....graphic content... if you get whoozy hearing about bloody medical problems, you may not wish to continue reading.

So....Last night I was using a very sharp serrated knife to level a still somewhat frozen cake. Usually I level a cake before freezing, but as you may remember from my last post, the afore mentioned mouse in my kitchen caused the sudden need for cakes to be placed in safe and secure places... like the freezer.

Well, before I knew what had happened, the sharp knife slipped somewhat and went flying up through the cake and right through my left thumb. I calmly called out to my husband that I had cut myself, and badly. We wrapped the thumb and headed off to the post clinic. Did I mention it was already pushing 9 p.m. and after the time he wanted to head to bed cause he had to be at work at 5 a.m. this morning?

So we head into the clinic, and a young soldier greets me with a, "Hi, what can we help you with this evening?" I announce my folly of trying to hack off the end of my thumb while trying to decorating a cake. The second guy says, "Cool, can I see it?" while the first asked me if the cake won, to which I said, "No, the knife did!" It was all quite the humorous start to an unpleasant evening.

I could tell that this clinic is not used to much evening emergency action. Although everyone was very nice and friendly, there seemed to be a bit of bumbling around. It actually took them quite awhile to figure out what even to do with my thumb.... stitches, Dermabond, or even just wrapping it tightly without doing anything at all.

It was decided to try the Dermabond, and they numbed the thumb so they could really move it around to see what was going on. Then it was determined that I had sliced through a chunk of nail, so that was removed. After that, they could not get the bleeding to stop and didn't think the glue method was going to work. But with the nail gone, there was a place (and room) to stitch.... so two stitches I got.

And a tetanus shot. YUCK! I thought they were good for 10 years.... but apparently the military clinic will give one to you if it has been more than five years since the last. And since it has been six years and one month, my file was red flagged to receive one. Of course I got that on the opposite arm as my hurt hand, so I was hurting on both sides. Made sleeping last night a little challenging.

Now my thumb is all wrapped up with bandages and a "gingerbread man", which is a five pronged, cushioned metal thingy that surrounds and protects my thumb, and it kind of looks like a blue gingerbread man hugging my thumb. I have to wear it for three days, and keep it completely dry for a week until I go in to have the stitches removed. When the wrapping comes off I will have some exposed nail bed, which I have been told will be the most unpleasant part of the experience/recovery. It has been throbbing a bit, but mostly it isn't too bad.

I got praises all around for being "such a trooper".... I guess some big guy had been in a week or so before me with basically the same procedure, and he did not remain so calm and put together. I just told them I try to keep things in perspective. If I can give birth to three children, the first an emergency c-section and the second a 9 pounder with an unmedicated VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section).... then I think I can handle some needles in my thumb... and arm. Yes it was unpleasant. Yes, it hurt. But it compared to childbirth and surgery? Not so much.

I am thankful that no greater damage was done... although I currently have a wrinkle on the end of my thumb.... the gal said to me, "you know how sometimes when you sew fabric together you get a little bit of a wrinkle at the bottom?" So you can guess the rest on that one. But the thumb will be fine, and may not even have much of a scar. And the nail will grow back eventually. I will have to be really careful in the bath for a few days. Paul will have to help me wash my hair in the kitchen sink. The girls will have to take over all the dish duties, and some of the cooking this week. And I get to take it a little easy.

But most of all, I am thankful this was a cake for Paul's work, and NOT for Picnic in the Park (where I make cake for 250 people). That would not have been good.

A friend of mine does a weekly post she calls "Not Me Monday" where she writes of all the things she "doesn't" do..... a confession of sorts. Personally, I have never felt the urging to post these myself. I often just fess up to said stupidities (such as in this post) with a, "Yup, I did it!" but I have decided this experience would be hilarious in a short UNofficial version of "Not ME".... so here goes.

It was NOT ME who was not paying atention while using a sharp knife. And of course I NEVER try to level frozen cakes because I am too smart for that. (And It was NOT ME who was so terrified of that little mousey that caused all this trouble to begin with!!!) And it was definitely NOT ME who then hacked the end of her thumb and part of her nail.

And it was certainly NOT ME who walked in my door and then picked up the same said sharp knife to finish leveling the cake that sat unattended on my counter while working around a hugely bandaged thumb. Of course I would NEVER chance cutting another finger off.

I know... pretty dumb, but quite funny! I hope the guys at the Desert Ship enjoyed the cake. Chocolate cake, plain white frosting. In fact, it was the worst looking cake I have made since I started decorating.... but I'm sure it tasted good.

Dear Lord, thank you for protecting me from further hurts and giving me strength through this experience. Thank you for a wonderful and supportive husband who loves me more than sleep. Help my thumb heal quickly, and help me be able to release control of my kitchen and get some extra rest. I love you. Amen.

28 January 2009

My Confession of FEAR...

Supposedly, the Bible says "do not fear" 365 times in the Bible. I tried to look them all up once, to see how many there were.... but alas that project never came to fruition.

But it is clear that over and over again the Lord tells us "do not fear"..... and I cannot help but wonder how we are supposed to do this (how I am supposed to do this) when I have a MOUSE crawling across my floor. AND IN MY BEDROOM!!!

I may have traumatized my teenager a bit as I hovered practically on top of her on the couch while crying uncontrollably. She's never seen this side of her mother before. But the fact is, I have an irrational fear of mice and rats that I had hoped I would never come face to face with. I had hoped and prayed I would never have to face the dilemma of "how to get rid of that mouse in your house", because I had always hoped to never see one.

Well, having that hope squashed, and spending an hour and a half in the fetal position crying on my couch because there was a rodent in my bedroom (and the living room, and the laundry room, and the kitchen...while I was in the kitchen, that little sucker went everywhere)... I began to feel a bit silly and ashamed for how badly and childishly I reacted. Coming to New Mexico, I thought my biggest fear would be the tarantulas.... but I stood a foot away from two different huge, black fuzzy spiders without freaking out at all. Nope, it was the mouse that completely unglued me.

My husband was quite sweet about it and chose NOT to make fun of me (smart fellow, that one). But he did ask me why I was so terrified. I said I guess it goes back to my elementary school days when they brought the whole school into the gym to watch this terrifying movie about how dangerous and deadly mice and rats are because of all the diseases they carry. I determined on that day walking home that I never wanted to encounter one. I guess you could say that school assembly scarred me for life.

So my sweet husband started researching about mice, and he has assured me that we have a pretty typical (but harmless) house mouse that is not disease infested. I guess knowing this has helped because the next afternoon when my mother-in-law announced, "Paul, there's a mouse under your couch... I just saw it crawl under there.".... I did not totally freak out. I shuddered a bit, and I left the room cause I did not want to see it again.

So Paul and his dad closed the pocket doors to keep it in that part of the house so they could try to find it. No such luck. It was MIA, at least for the moment. It was found a few hours later as Nikki came out into the kitchen to announce it had joined her in her room, presently residing under her bed. Although not completely freaked out like her mom (she was amazingly calm about the whole situation!!!), she did not like the thought of having said mouse under her bed.

So Paul and Tricia went off to get rid of the mouse. Nikki's room has a door that leads outside to the back patio, so they were able to close her bedroom door, open the outer door, jump on the bed while making all kinds of racket, and then ultimately chase the little critter outside. Of course there is no guarantee that it will remain outside. It did find it's way here in the first place. But I am happy to report that although our traps remain empty, I haven't seen any sign of mice. Regardless, Paul put us on the housing list for pest control.

So I am left to learn to turn this fear over to God, to let him comfort me when I feel terrified of this situation.... oh yeah, and to ignore the few who have thought it fun to tease me by reminding me that I am "so much bigger than a mouse... and shouldn't the mouse be more afraid of me, the giant, than I should be of it?.... blah, blah, blah".

Lord God, fill me with your peace, strength, and courage when I face things that terrify me... even mice in my house. Remind me that you are so much bigger than any fear I have. You are the ultimate comforter. I love you. Amen.

By the way.... for those who have known me a long time.... the complete irony of this situation is that in the last 2o years of my life, I have COLLECTED mice. Mouse stuffed animals. Mouse ornaments. Mouse statues and figurines. Anything cute and mousey..... JUST NOT THE REAL ONES!

16 January 2009

My Confession of Obsession

I have an unhealthy relationship.... with my bathroom scale. A day doesn't go by without my stepping on the thing several times, usually two or three times in a row. Each morning I wake up. Each time I take a shower after working out. Each evening before I go to bed.

Thin Within (a grace oriented approach to weight loss) will tell you to abandon your scale, only checking your weight occasionally. We know when weight is dropping by the feel and fit of our clothes. The author talks about how easy it is to use what number we see on the screen to affect our process of turning to God to heal us and allowing Him to bring us to our God given size. If our weight goes down, we may be tempted to "celebrate" by eating something. If it goes up, we may get frustrated and angry with ourselves, and eat something to make ourselves feel better.

Now I assert that these have not been problems for me. I have not celebrated decreasing numbers with food, nor have I eaten just because the numbers went up or stayed the same for long periods of time.

But I do admit that my scale has a pull on me so strong that I am now acknowledging that it borders on obsession. I have used it as an excuse to make sure that I am not getting off track and gaining too much. If the numbers go up, then knowing that will help me know to refocus. But if I am honest with myself, my clothes tell me without even seeing the numbers when I am heading in the wrong direction.

And now I am beginning to realize that maybe this is that one final step to complete surrender that has been holding me back. Because if I am always checking to see what my "progress" is.... than in those moments I am choosing to focus on my performance rather than my Lord's provision. I am thinking about ways "I can do better" rather than focusing on surrendering to the Lord.

My ultimate goal in this journey should be seeking God and His healing and growing in relationship with Him. Becoming my God-given size should be the joyous side effect of this.... not the destination of the journey. But each time I obsessively step on my scale, I am making my weight the destination, not God.

So this morning I got up, and while in my bathroom I ignored my scale. Let me tell you, that was not easy. I also did not weigh myself at all yesterday. I am realizing that it has been something I have "needed", and not in a healthy way but an idolatrous one. So the scale obsession must go. I know it will probably take me awhile before I don't hunger for those numbers.... staring at the scale like I used to at chocolate.... when choosing to walk away leaves you craving for the very thing you are denying yourself.

Ideally, I would like to reach my mind's idea of my weight goal.... about another 20 to 30 pounds. This places me right in the middle of my healthy weight range where I will no longer be characterized as overweight (I am only about 11 pounds away from no longer being considered overweight for my height).

However, more importantly I want to grow in my relationship with the Lord, allowing Him to heal me and make me healthy so that I can do His Kingdom's work that He calls me to do. I have tried to keep my focus on that goal.... not on how much weight I have or will lose. But it is difficult to NOT focus on weight, especially when I am worshipping my scale instead of my God.

Lord God, thank you so much for your grace and provision. Thank you for revelation You give to Your children when they are following the wrong paths. Lord, I surrender my scale to You. Forgive me for turning to my scale before You, and I now surrender it to You. Fill me with Your peace and comfort that I will never be able to find in the number I have allowed to define my identity. Let me find my identity in You instead. I love you. Amen.

13 January 2009

My Confession of Judgement

I had a very interesting conversation with a new friend today.

I walked by her house to thank her for her compassion that she had shown me during a meeting last week. I was upset but didn't want to talk about it there, and she apologized if she said anything to bring something up, and assured me with her words and actions that it was ok to not talk about it. Then she said something funny to make me laugh and put me at ease before the rest of the ladies joined us at the table where we were sitting. I felt the love and compassion in her gesture, and it touched my heart.

So I stopped by to thank her, and she invited me in for a chat. I then spent the next two and a half hours opening my heart to this new friend, this woman of God. She listened. She restated what she heard me saying. She encouraged me and opened my mind. I hadn't realized how much I was missing this sort of interaction.

As she sat there giving me hard truths to swallow.... accurate assessments of some of the things I was saying where I needed to change my thought patterns and attitudes, I looked at her with a very grumpy face. I really wasn't liking some of the things she was bold enough to tell me. I wasn't liking them because she was speaking truth that until now I wasn't wanting to hear.

I could feel the grumpy demeanor on my face and announced that I was not giving her that face because I was objecting to or not hearing or agreeing with what she was saying. I was giving the grumpy face because I was having to admit the truth behind her words.... truth that would cause me to reevaluate myself and make changes for the better. (She then told me she recognized the face for what it was... cause she, too, gets that same grumpy face).

As I listened to her tell me what she was hearing me say... (I was basically conveying the same message over and over in many different ways), I began to hear myself in ways I haven't before. I have had other friends, one in particular, who is quite good at this. I am just rambling on trying to figure out what is going on in me, but she could hear what lies beneath.... the message that comes out time and again that I was unaware of. She could connect the dots I couldn't see. But as I listened to her say "What I hear you saying is......", I was beginning to see those dots. And I have to admit that I did not like what I was seeing.

I have a judgment problem. I grew up in a very critical and judgmental home, and this way of thinking is so ingrained in me that it is second nature. But the Bible tells us to judge not lest we ourselves be judged. I try so hard not to judge people, but particularly in situations where I have been hurt or offended, this has been almost impossible for me to do. I may not necessarily act upon said judgments, or speak them.... but it is a sin in my life that I not only have little control over, but one I have not truly acknowleged, repented of, or turned over to God.

Case in point, the mother that came stomping over to my house when my son lost his temper and hit her child. I judged her harshly and want to keep my distance at all costs.... and there is no love for her whom I have set a grudge against in my heart. This is definitely NOT Jesus in me... this lack of love for what one might consider an "enemy".

I also know that I have harshly judged my family. I have not loved and accepted them for who they are. Instead I cling to our dysfunction that I so desparately want to be freed of.... and I use that judgement and the excuse of abandoning all dysfunction to stay as far away as I can. But if I am really honest with myself. This is not loving them or accepting them for who they are. And it is not showing them the love of Jesus either.

But dealing with my past is painful. The dysfunction is painful. Loving them is painful. So I have clung to my sinful judgment instead of working through my pain. And as I see it.... where judgment begins pride soon follows.

And I am now realizing that I have to take the same steps to conquer these sins as I have taken in my sin of overeating. I have to acknowledge the problem. I struggle with being prideful and judgmental of others. I have to repent. Lord, please forgive me for these sins. And I have to SURRENDER them to the Lord. Lord Jesus, please help me let go to love other people without judgment and criticism. Heal my heart, Lord God.

I walked away from my encounter this morning with wonderful encouragement.... and words of wisdom. My new friend told me today that I am way healthier than I am giving myself credit for, and I am holding on to a lot of garbage that I need to get rid of so that I can step completely out and be me. She also told me that when I can completely love myself, exactly who I am, faults and all.... that freedom will help me to love others the way Jesus desires me to.

So I guess it's time to take out the trash!

Lord God, thank you for placing someone here in my life in New Mexico that I was able to be real and honest with.... someone who was able to be real and honest with me. Please help me let go of this judgmentalness that has plagued me my whole life. I surrender it all to you Lord God. Fill my heart with your spirit and for your love towards all people. Give me guidance and direction to help me sort through my pain and emotions, and help me let go once and for all of all this junk that is bogging me down. I love you. Amen.

06 January 2009

Sad Day

I am having a sad day. I am grieving the loss of a friendship that meant very much to me. For months I have been trying to hide from grieving any of the lost or damaged relationships in my life. It has seemed easier to just push it all away and pretend it isn't real. But I live in the world of reality now. And I am trying to walk in it each day. And part of reality is feeling. And today I am feeling sad.

In reality. I am mourning the loss of two special women in my life (and their beautiful children that had come to mean so much to me). The first friendship I laid at the feet of Jesus. I must admit that in the aftermath, my human self did not handle the situation in the best way possible as I was barely surviving through that time. A lot of pain resulted, and I do not know if this friendship will be able to be repaired to begin anew sometime in the future. I pray that the Lord will be able to heal us both and repair the damage done. But only time will tell.

The second friendship, at least at the moment, seems to be a casualty of circumstance. I moved 2000 miles away. I love this dear friend so much, and I know she feels the same. But somehow, the sudden void of each in the other's life has been harder on each of us than we probably ever imagined. Kinda like that old saying, "you don't know what you've got until it's gone!"

We didn't really have a phone relationship/friendship in Virginia. We almost always interacted face to face..... and I have not made the transition well from close to long-distance friend. I have not been good about keeping in touch for a few reasons. For starters it seems her life is so chaotic with little ones that I am afraid to disturb her schedule.... along with a time change that seems to mess me up on good times to call.

But if I am really honest, I miss her presence so much that it hurts. I read her blog daily, hungry to know what is going on in her life. But trying to call is painful because it just reminds me that I cannot go see her whenever I want. We cannot hang out and eat Chinese food together and have wonderful conversations. I can't cry on her shoulder when I am having an absolutely horrible day, nor can I do anything to help her when she's having a hard time. And as she is a military wife who does not have a heart for settling in Virginia, I fear that by the time we make it back that way, she'll be gone. I wonder to myself if she will ever be a physical presence in my life again, and that thought makes me want to cry.

I haven't called because I haven't wanted to face the pain I feel.... like somehow talking to her will make me hurt more. Of course in reality this is nonsense. I was elated the one conversation we did have. I was so excited to hear from her and talk to her. But then time passes, and life goes on and the sadness continues. Then the guilt sets in because you can't help but think that a real friend would be calling. A good friend wouldn't just be silent for so long. And a whole new level of hurt and sadness settles in. And then paranoia.

See, my friend, she hasn't seemed to be able to call me either. And sometimes I can't help but wonder if I have done something wrong. Have I upset her? Is she mad that I haven't called? Is she not calling because she just doesn't want to talk to me anymore? I worry that I was too selfish at the end.... focusing too much on my own problems and being more of a burden than a friend.

But besides the fact that her life is just crazy and overwhelming right now, I know in my heart that the reason she is not calling has nothing to do with her being angry or mad at me. I do not think that I have done anything wrong to cause her to not want to talk to me. I think she is just feeling the same pain and emptiness that my move has created in me. Maybe the void that I feel in my life by her absence is mirrored in her life by mine. Maybe it is just too hard for her to pick up the phone for exactly the same reason it has been so hard for me. Maybe she is feeling the same guilt I feel by not actively staying in touch.

I know each of us has long time-long distance friends we are still close to from our school days. So there really is no reason to believe that we can't remain friends forever, until the end of time. I just do not want to jeopardize our friendship by foolishly allowing undealt with emotions to cause us to grow apart, all because I didn't want to face my pain.

So now, almost five months after I tearfully said goodbye..... I think I am ready to be honest with myself and allow myself to grieve these circumstances that has put 2000 miles between myself and one of the best friends I have ever had..... and want to keep, even if it means forever by long-distance and telephone conversations.

Lord God, please heal my broken heart. Thank you that You are a comforting God. Bring Your comfort to me, as well as to my dear friend I have left behind. Help us mourn the loss of the physical friendship.... of being there for each other in person, and help us transition into this new role of long-distance friendship. Help us learn to be there for each other even at a distance of 2000 miles. And Lord God, I ask that in your timing you would heal and restore my other friendship. Bring comfort to her as well.... to ease the pain of the current situation. I love you. Amen.

05 January 2009

Reflections from a Hungry Gal

I am hungry. I fasted breakfast. I partook in a yummy lunch. But now it's been almost five hours and my stomach is beginning to yell out for food. Unfortunately, it will not be receiving any until morning as I am fasting the evening meal as well.

This week I committed myself to a weekly fast each Monday where I choose the meal to eat, and the two to miss. I am seeking God's nourishment in prayer as I pray for my friends and family and their struggles. I seek ultimately to find that God's provision is enough, even in times of fasting.

This morning I was uncertain how this fast would affect my walk, and which meal I should eat. I wanted to make sure that I had enough energy to do my now two and a half miles. I tried to walk a couple of weeks ago with an empty stomach, and I barely had enough energy to walk home from the campground, let alone walk the two miles I was then used to doing. So of course I was concerned this morning. But I drank a little orange juice, and I prayed asking God for His strength to get through my walk and my day.... because I knew I couldn't do it on my own. I was pleased to not only accomplish the six laps around my block (almost two and a half miles), but I also had plenty of energy left over to clean up my kitchen before making lunch for the family.

I read in my Bible, and did my once a week journal entry for a more in depth study into God's word. I enjoyed some time singing and playing on my guitar. And I continued my cleaning by taking down the Christmas decorations and sweeping/vacuuming the floors of the common areas of the house. Overall, it has been a good day.

But as I sit here with a growling tummy that is begging to be filled, I am realizing something quite important to my journey. I feel this physical hunger right now for food and nourishment... but what I really want to feel is a hunger for God. I want to hunger for HIS nourishment of my soul, and not just on the days that I am fasting. I want to feel a hunger so strong that I just simply cannot wait to open up His Word to see what He will show me next.

I already have found myself looking forward to my walks each morning because I venture out with headphones and an Ipod playing praise and worship music, and I am fellowshipping with my Lord as I walk those six laps around my block each morning. I sing my praises, and I lift up my thanksgiving. I cry out my fears and worries, and I try to listen for the comforting words I know He is speaking to me. I have found a treasure in my morning routine, but I am hoping through this fasting to find myself hungering for Jesus more and more.

Lord God, You are so faithful! Thank you that you are so much better than any food I could fill myself with this day. I lift up my loved ones who are struggling with eating... those who want to surrender it all to you but do not seem to know how. Give them the strength they need to get through their days and keep their eyes on you. Thank you for the physical and emotional strength you are giving me as I surrender to you, Lord. I love you! Amen.

April 2005

April 2005
Justin, Kim, Nikki, & Tricia

October 2011

October 2011