Friday, March 13, 2015

Thankful From A to Z

I've been inspired by the one and only Max Lucado to list some things that I am thankful for-- alphabetically. My hope is that, by passing this along, you will be inspired to do the same thing. Please know that this list is not exhaustive nor is it in any kind of order of priority- just some things that come to mind and start with that letter. Let's have fun this Friday thanking the Lord for just some of the blessings in our lives!

A: Appalachia. Those mountains, Lord. Thank you for making them and for letting me come from them and allowing me to see them from time to time. 

B: Birds. Ok, maybe I mention them too much. So I'll choose one more: Bacon. Perfect salty, smoky, kinda sweet. Bacon like JW fixed the other night. Yeah. Thank You for bacon. And for JW. 

C: Chocolate. Oh, chocolate, you make so many lists in my life. You and your smooth, creamy, comforting goodness. A day without you is like...not sure that I've had one so I really don't know...

D: Dogs. I love dogs. Bouncy, goofy, rambunctious, playful, loyal dogs. They need you and they love you. They want to play with you and protect you. Not many things on earth can boast all of that. Thanks for making dogs, Lord. That was really nice of You.

E: Erasers. Whether it's the backspace key or the rubber tip of a pencil or the prayer of repentance, I am thankful that there is a way that my mistakes can be erased from the screen, the paper, and the Heart that I wounded. He loves me so much he made a way for me to be

F: Forgiven. Praise 

G: God! Being thankful for forgiveness has to be linked directly to God for they go hand-in-nail-scarred-Hand. He is a God of love and forgiveness and He will forgive you if you ask. Trust Him to help you turn away from sin and toward Him. Oh, there it is! The Biggest Blessing!

H: Horses. The perfect animal-world combination of strength and beauty and grace. Want your heart rate to calm down? Watch a horse graze in a pasture. Listen to him breathe. See the breeze flow through his mane. Feel the power of the Creator. Thank you, Lord.

I: Ice. I really love a cold drink. With ice. But I am picky. I really like that pebbly ice like they have at Sonic. They sell it, you know. I haven't bought any but I've considered it for a special time. Waiting for the special time. 

J: Jesus. Of course I'm thankful for Jesus and you all know I am. So I am going add another- jewelry. I like jewelry. I like to see how artists take stones that only could be made by the Hand of God and metals that He made and put them together. I like things created by people who are working to free themselves in oppressive countries and who use whatever they have on hand in order to achieve that goal- and then give all the glory to the One Who inspired them. Jesus. 

K: Kool pops. They made them in the '60s- not sure if they're still around. My favorite was the blue one. It! Frozen sugar water in a flat tube. Snip the end off and run outside. Make sure you shut the door behind you. Be sure to be back by the time the street lights come on. All that. 

L: Laughter. The sound of hearts lightened even if only for a moment. The sound of children so tickled they can barely breathe. The sound of a soul so weathered and wise that the perspective of Truth allows for mirth. The gift of a giggle. 

M: Music. And every sort. Different times call for different types and aren't we glad there are so many combinations of notes to suit every mood? To create an atmosphere? To bring us right back to where we were when we used to sing along with a song on a warm summer night? Roll the windows down, turn the music up, and sing. And give thanks. 

N: Nice people. The kind of people who offer the kind word, the understanding smile. The gentle-voiced people who don't demand, don't take over, and who only want to be pleasant. I'm thinking of so many people right now and thanking God for them. They'd never think they made this list, though. That's just how nice they are. 

O: Owls. Again with the nature, I know, but how can you not be thankful for owls? I've been waking up at night a lot lately and my friend the owl is just outside my window calling out into the night. A voice as soft as his feathers carries across the fields and woods and soothes me right back to sleep. Thank you, fluffy friend, and thanks to your Maker. 

P: Plays. I love going to plays. Loved them from an early age. From the staging to the lighting to the acting and the music-- everything coming together at once to create a moment that needs to be unforgettable (because it cannot be rewound). In this era of the tiniest chip saving the largest memory, it's nice to have a mental image that is unique to my brain's interpretation of actions on a stage. Curtain. 

Q: Quetzalcoatlus. Because once my son chose this animal for a report and we both became fascinated. He marveled at the animal while I marveled at him. Still do. 

R: Red wagons. How much fun can a kid have with a little red wagon? There is no limit. Be honest. If we could we would still pull one around and beg someone to give us a ride. 

S: Sales. Don't you just love to get something for less than you were originally asked to pay? C'mon, saving money is a good thing!

T: Time. I have learned that, aside from the power of healing that God provides, the blessing of time is so very crucial to healing and moving away from hurt. If we rely on God to soften our hearts, He will use time to soften the blow of any pain we have had to endure. Amen. 

U: Uggs. The boots. Yes. Sound shallow? Not when you have a foot that hurts and suddenly it is surrounded by soft, warm fleece that comforts and soothes. Then it only sounds awesome. 

V: Virginia. The birthplace of this nation. The mother of presidents. My home. We have made our mistakes along the way, but no one can deny the role this Commonwealth played in creating and inspiring democracy throughout history. We were and are vital to the success and the very definition of America. 

W: Washers. I am so thankful for that machine. If you've ever been without one for a while, you know. Don't take it for granted just because it is an inanimate object. The Giver isn't. 

X: X-rays. Gracious, I've had so many lately it's a miracle I'm not glowing. How good it is that I am able to lie on a table and allow a doctor to see that my bones are healing properly. Or not. I'm also very thankful that, for the most part, they don't hurt. 

Y: Youth. Whether it is in real time or imagined, youth brings about a sense of bravery, of boldness, and energy. I firmly believe that we can still be youthful even when gaining years and wisdom. 

Z: Zip-up hoodies. The coziest jacket ever. On a chilly fall day- are you kidding? Wiggle yourself in for a cotton hug. And be thankful. 

So there you have it: my list for now. If I were to go through again and again, I could come up with so much more. Because there is infinitely more to be thankful for. Thank you, Jesus. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Frankenfoot 2: Return of the Pin (because every epic tale deserves a sequel)

You just never know. 

Well, at least I didn't give away the walker. And Aunt Betty's walker bag ( See post from Reflections... )  And the crutches.

And and the shower chair. Because you just never know.  You never know exactly what lies ahead for you. You never know what is going to be helpful in life, and you never know how God is going to use you. 

While walking zombie-like through Bed Bath and Beyond prior to Frankenfoot 1, I came across a shower chair. Lightweight, plastic, and portable. I just felt like I could use it. I felt that there was some way that this was going to be helpful to me in my recovery. So I bought it. I had NO IDEA. This thing. This chair has been crucial to my recovery, but not necessarily in the way you would imagine or in the way it was intended. 

But why am I surprised? Doesn't God use all of us in His own specific way? Even inanimate objects? There are at least 106 references to "stones" in the Bible. The most inanimate object there is. But God chose to use them to illustrate everything from a means of punishment to an altar to a welcoming committee for the King of Kings! (Luke 19:40)

You see, God has a plan for each of us. (Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 40:5)

For those of you who read this and who do not know me, I'll let you in on a little secret: 
I'm short. Really short. So going up the stairs using the walker or crutches is out of the question. Because really, stairs? With a pin? I don't do stairs well on regular feet, much less one good one and one whose only current function is to hurt and be needy. Last June,  my husband (whom I cannot possibly say enough wonderful things about so just KNOW that he is awesome ) and I developed a plan for getting in and out of the house and up and down the steps. Here's the routine:  I walker to the steps at night, sit down on the second step, and scoot up on my...bum. I have been watching SO MUCH British TV that I feel totally confident using that term. You know what I'm saying here. Scooting up to the top of the stairs, I pull myself up using the railing. 

I have tried the suggested PT ways using a walker or crutches. I even watched a few YouTube recordings. #notgonnahappen 
My stairs, combined with the lack of height, simply do not work. Trust me. 

Once at the top, I sit on the shower stool - yes, the shower stool. It's the perfect height, it's just a little smooth so I can spin, and it is small. I pivot around on the stool (with my back to the long, wooden staircase and all my trust and confidence in my husband),  and then I am able to walker into the bedroom because he has gone up the back steps and has met me with the walker. Hallelujah. 

In the morning, I walker to the edge of the steps, my EVER PRESENT AND BIGGEST HELP EVER HUSBAND takes the walker away, (once again I am facing the open staircase and marveling at my bravery),  and I sit on the shower chair and scoot off onto the step. I sit on the step and scoot/slide/surf down the stars to the bottom, where he meets me and I walker to the sofa. Hallelujah and amen. 

The chair helps us get me in and out of the house as well, and yes, I actually use it for its intended purpose. Thirty-five dollars of the best money ever spent on anything in this house.
 I want to name it and keep it as a pet. Here's its picture. Suitable for framing. 

I know, right?

But one of the most interesting things about the shower chair is this: most of the time I am only using it for a just few seconds. To sit on and twist around, or to sit on to step down. A split second, really, but still so crucial to my day. Using it for this brief moment, though, has allowed me to sleep in my own bed, to brush my teeth in my own bathroom, and to go downstairs in the daytime. Only a few seconds each day in these circumstances, but it has been so very useful. 

So what does that say about us? Are we making every second count? Are we allowing God to use us, even for a split second? The smile at the cash register. Allowing someone to merge in front of you. Saying "thank you." It's easy to think that, just because we aren't in full-time ministry we are somehow less useful to the Lord. We look at the public examples of Christians in our lives and think that we could never be that effective. We aren't on the speaker circuit. We don't have thousands of Twitter followers. Our blogs reach a very selected few. Okay, maybe we won't reach millions of people. But maybe we're not meant to. Maybe we are only meant to reach one. Or maybe that one we reach will reach a few and then, who knows? Because, well, you never know. 

God uses each of us in the way He knows will matter most for Him and for His glory.  And that's enough. Jesus used the one who touched His robe, the messenger who told of His resurrection, and the least likely of His creation: He used the stones. 

And He will use you. Even if only for a brief moment of the day. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.  Hebrews 2:1

My toe drifted. I had the surgery, did what I was supposed to do, the surgeon did what he was supposed to do, and my toe...drifted. 

When I first noticed the "leaning" I talked it over with the doctor. I remember him telling me,"You have very aggressive scar tissue!" It was said almost like a compliment and as though I had actually had something to do with the internal growth that was now crowding my toes. Maybe I did.

You see, I am good at "scar tissue." I am good at building "walls." Because of some painful things that have happened to me at an early age, I am really good at creating barriers that are very hard to break through. And I can feel it when it begins to happen. 

I feel myself closing off, shutting down.  Granted, sometimes it can be a very good thing. Some of the barriers that I have created have stayed, and will stay, in place. I know they're there for a reason and I am not ready or willing to spend time trying to take down something that is protecting me from pain, heartache, distraction, and emotional destruction. But there are times when we don't want the scar tissue to grow. There are times when we need to be soft, sensitive, and malleable. 

I tried massaging my toe. I tried exercising it, even ignoring it. (that was obviously NOT going to help anything, but I hoped it would just...pop back up) Physical therapy helped a little; the therapists did the best they could.  But any time there is a cut into the skin there is a scar. And that, my friends, is about the extent of what I know about scar tissue medically. I do understand from my own experience, that some people develop really strong scar tissue that can harden and become a real problem. The tissue can take over and undo any positive work that had been done by the surgery. It's as though there is a whole new problem because of the attempt to heal. 

So more work needed to be done to my foot, my scar, in order for it to be properly aligned. A new incision had to be made and thus a whole new wound! "How do you know more tissue won't grow?" I asked the surgeon. I thought it was a very good question. I mean, if I tend to heal rather radically, won't you just be throwing a party for the scar tissue to invite its rowdy friends to come and set up camp in my foot? How then, did the surgeon respond? He had a plan. His plan was to rid my foot of the aggressive, damaging growth and then to have me walking and moving it immediately, therefore not allowing any further development. Up and walking right away. I liked the sound of that. I liked it a lot. 

But then came the pre-op consult. I knew when two doctors entered my room that something was different. Upon reviewing my new x-ray, the decision had been made to insert a rod (they call it a pin) into my toe extending into the foot in order to hold it in place while it heals. The dreaded rod. Again. You see, there was more work to be done on my scar. I couldn't manage it all on my own; I needed the support of the rod to stabilize it. A rod to guide my toe in the direction that it needs to go in. Correction. Guidance. Stability. 

We are all familiar with the many references to the "rod" found in Scripture. The one I always lean on is from Psalm 23:4, "Even when I walk through the darkest valley I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me." The idea of a rod comforting rather than being used for discipline appeals to me very much. So along with the surgery has come several weeks of being non weight-bearing. Granted, this time there are no broken bones, fewer stitches and swelling, and much less pain. But I am still home, out of the loop, not driving, and not doing a million other things. But I am doing exactly what I am supposed to do. I am being obedient.   

For it's sometimes when we are not obedient that we find ourselves drifting. We allow the scar tissue of life to grow and to move us off the path that has been established for us by God Himself and onto a path designed by one who wants you to stumble. The enemy would much prefer you to have no ability or desire to follow God's plan for your life and he will make it seem very desirable to stray from it. 

I had second  thoughts about having this surgery. Doubts about the success of bringing my toes back into alignment. But I had to do it- you see, the one toe was causing the others to lean as well. Because it would be easy to hide behind the scar tissue. I could create a multitude of excuses to keep me from allowing this rod to correct me. But then I would be out of alignment and unable to function fully and with confidence. And because of my mis-alignment, others may suffer. 

So I am here, I am being obedient, and the rod is in its proper place. I learned yesterday that it will be removed soon and that the joint is clean and free of the damaging tissue. And little by little I feel that wall, that barrier, coming down. Just enough to let the light of the Savior shine in and out. Obedience has a way of doing that. 

Why I Choose to be Southern Baptist

These have been tough days for those of us who call ourselves “Southern Baptists.” I won’t go into all the details. I don't think it’s S...