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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lil Slice of Heaven



One of the things on my bucket list is to go to a day spa and enjoy a whole day of soaking in mud, being wrapped in sea weed, scrubbed with sea salt and having every kink massaged away. Even now, I can hear the soft music and the soothing sounds of water in the background. The air is moist and warm like a blanket that wraps around you filling the air with the scent of lavender, honey and tea tree. In my dream, everyone moves with fluid motion, and never speaks above a whisper. Doesn’t that sound like a little slice of heaven to you? In fact, now that I think about it, God, forget a mansion on a hillside, just make mine a day spa and we’ll call it good.  A couple of weeks ago, on a 
particularly difficult day, I thought to myself that I would love to run away from reality to a fantasy spa. A whole day with no worries, commitments, expectations, or deadlines, just 8 hours of indulgent pampering which includes chocolate with no calories. I didn’t tell anyone about my dream, but I came pretty close to posting it on Facebook. Then I thought to myself…. “Oh suck it up! Everyone goes through tough days.”  So I didn’t post it and didn’t even mention it to anyone; I just put on my big girl panties and soldiered on. That doesn’t mean I’ve taken it off my bucket list, it just means I checked the prices and unless I win the lottery, it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. (Insert pathetically pouty face here). Then at lunch I got a card in the mail from a friend of mine. She must have read my bucket list cause in the card was a gift certificate for a ½ hour massage!! How sweet! In that moment I knew that my heavenly Father hadn’t heard my prayers, because my prayers never includes a massage or a day spa, but instead he saw the desire of my heart and used my earthly friend to make that desire come true. Just when I think he’s lost my GPS signal and I’m drowning in a sea of despair, he reaches down through a random act of kindness, to assure me I’m still on his radar. Knowing that is more than a little slice of heaven.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Celebrate Every Victory, Cherish Every Smile



It's 9 p.m. on a Sunday night. This week has been a mix of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, and the sharp knife of reality. Christmas fell on a Wednesday this year, so the work week seemed weird. Mom had surgery on Friday so the weekend has been a big blur. I've spent the weekend at Mom's bedside and caught some zz's here and there.  I feel like a baby who has her days and nights mixed up, barely distinguishing one day from next. I walked in this evening after having gone home to freshen up, and found her lying in bed watching football. I looked at the TV then looked at her and we both began to laugh. I know my Mom has reached a new level of boredom when she voluntarily watches football. Tonight has been one of her better nights, although she reported to me she thought someone had stolen her pillow while she was in the bathroom.  You just can't turn your back on anyone these days. After having her up, I asked if she wanted to go for a walk. I told her we could cruise the halls looking for trouble if she was up for some mischief. She grinned from ear to ear at the idea of breaking some rules.The whole idea took me back to my teenage years, when we would the hit the streets of Tulsa looking for some all night shopping. We made it all of two feet from her hospital room when her feet refused to cooperate with her brain. Still, we celebrated the accomplishment of the evening. I turned out the lights hoping for a peaceful night and taking comfort that we enjoyed a few laughs. Celebrate every victory, cherish every smile.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Flood

It's been a long day. After months of scopes, CAT scans and biopsies, my Mom endured another biopsy. To the doctors credit, they intimated from the beginning that there would not be a positive outcome to whatever was growing inside her. I tend to be a "just give me the facts" kind of gal. I'm not  pessimist, just more of a realist. I'd much rather face my giant head on, than to hide behind boulders of hope that may come crashing down. That being said, there are always opportunities to turn travesty into a a beautiful tapestry of life's little tangles and snarls. One side of life can be a knotted mess but turn the canvass over and you find a beautiful depiction of the intricacy of life God has turned the knots and snarls into. Each tapestry unique to the person it depicts and the grace found in his hands. The doctor warned me tonight would nit be a pleasant evening. The pain and confusion had her in literal knots.  I knew we needed a supernatural intervention. Many years ago, I faced a life wrenching crisis and could feel hopes and dreams of my fairytale life being ripped from my hands in a shocking turn of events. MOM and Dad had just moved to Duncan and were living with us until they found a house. I came home from work one day with the heavy burden of imperfection hanging over me like a cloud.  I was angry with God, and so hurt that I was being forced through a trial that was not of my own making. Mom sat me on the couch and flipped open her Bible and read me, "When the enemy shall come in, the Spirit of the against him."Isaiah 59:18-20.  Then she suggested to me to move the comma over so the scripture read..."When the enemy shall come in, like a flood the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." I have never read that verse any other way since. The enemy may come in, but never doubt that the Spirit of God can come in like a mighty flood, raising a standard against him, wiping him from the face of the problems you that threaten the security and peace of you,God's precious one. Flood us with your precious peace Lord Jesus. If she weathers this storm and comes out healed, we win. If she receives your ultimate healing and leaves this earthly walk, we will praise you still. We're looking at a win win situation and it's all in the masters hands.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Non-Traditional Christmas Tradition :-)


The holidays caught me in a bit of a panic this year. The stress of
all those years, intentionally creating family traditions, only to have the kids grow up, leave home and dare to have a life outside the traditions I created for them.... Well, it's an adjustment. Now, it’s a rare opportunity to have everyone home at the same time for the same holiday. When someone asked me what I was doing for the holidays, I did one of two things. I gave them a blank stare and shrugged my shoulders or I began to cry. I can’t help it, that’s just the way I roll. It’s not that I’m not okay with change; I’m just not sure where I fit into the change and the best way to make the change a happy place for everyone. This year was particularly difficult due to my Mom’s illness in addition to my brother’s injury. Finally, with the help of the kids, we came up with a plan which would include everyone. Christmas Eve day was spent with my parents. I cooked the traditional holiday meal and took it to their house. We had a great time reminiscing about old times. My Dad got out the old photo albums and we took a stroll down memory lane. Gosh, it's been a long time since I've traveled that far. By the end of the afternoon, my Mom was worn out, so we gathered our mess and headed to OKC to spend the night. We went to my Son’s apartment (I call it his hippie pad) and played games with Dad-in-law(he's my Daughter-in-laws Dad0, who was in the states form Afghanistan a few months before heading to Nigeria where he will be assigned for the next few years. It was nice to have a new addition to the family with stories we haven't heard and adventures that rival my Daughter's military travel. We had the opportunity to meet some of the families that live in the building with my Son. My daughter was mortified after she accidentally outed Santa Clause to a room full of small children, breaking the cardinal rule at our house to never, ever admit Santa isn’t real. As soon as the words were out of her mouth, her face filled with horror. Everyone, including my daughter-in-law assured her the Santa myth was not one that was revered or even acknowledged in the Refuge where the minimalist lifestyle reigns supreme, but still she felt horrible, probably because admitting it, makes it just that much more real in her own eyes. When we got back to the apartment, she told her brother what she had done and he just laughed; then he shattered the dreams her and I had about the Christmas fun we would have when his wee ones came along (if ever they do)…. “You’re not going to let your kids believe in Santa Clause?!” she shouted….. “No, I think will choose NOT to lie to our children” He said with a smirk. Of all three of the kids, he celebrated the myth of Santa Clause with the most gusto unless it included sitting on Santa's lap.  He spied and tried to hide to find the jolly old man in the act of bringing Christmas joy to our house every year and he darn near caught the old Coot a time or two. I still miss the sound of his little feet running downstairs in the wee hours of the morning to see what Santa had brought. Christmas day we woke and my daughter began putting together the Christmas meal and I was happy to sit back and let her. After lunch we
slouched around like 6 Java the Huts on Star Wars.  My daughter and I were tickled pink to find we had a gift from our Dad-in-law. He brought us each exotic silk scarves from his travels to India…. Man, that guy gets around! We left OKC and dropped by my brother’s on the way home. A couple of months ago, he shattered his leg in 20 pieces. That’s my brother…. Go big or go home, so home he has been since the accident. When we got in the car to come home, I told my husband that I had used my allotted words for the next several months. I conversed more in the last two days than I did collectively in the last two years. We got home totally worn out, but with the peaceful feeling I had covered all the bases, and although it wasn’t a typical traditional Christmas, it was probably one of the best Christmas’ ever.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Poinsettia Napalm


Mother of all Poinsettias
The other morning I looked out my window to see a delivery truck delivering a poinsettia the size of a truck…. Literally! I thought to myself…. “I hope that is going to the desk of the one who gifts us with poinsettias every year.” A giant poinsettia for him to tend to would be a very fitting way to end the Christmas season. As it turns out, it wasn’t going to the great giver, but rather the other napalm thumb of the office. I walked into her 

Still in ICU
office and found her starring at the ginormous explosion of red sitting on her table. I couldn’t help it, I started laughing and asked who had done that to her. She told me (in disbelief) that they were from her husband for their anniversary (we share the same anniversary date). That just made me laugh harder. She said…. "I guess he hasn't heard a word I've said about poinsettias!" It's just like a typical man to give you a gift that is known to cause stress and anxiety?  Later, when I thanked my husband for the purple roses he sent, I told him about her
Victim of Napalm
poinsettia delivery. He laughed and said that as he was picking out the roses, the girl asked if he would like the arrangement made with some poinsettia blooms mixed in. He told her…. “Oh no, I wouldn’t want to do that.” Maybe her husband wanted her to have more poinsettia experience in order to face the challenges of Christmas' to come.
Perfect as always


Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Sound Track to Our Life

Today my husband and I celebrate 32 years of being together. Just the sound of it makes me feel old.... If you've ever seen the movie Sand Lot, you'll remember the scene where the little kid says.... "Forrr Evorrr" love the movie, love the scene. I've tried the trick of saying I married when I was 7, but no one is buying it. In the day of disposable cell phones, drive through confessionals and streaming online movies, 32 years of marriage is the mother load of all accomplishments. Insert the part where I drone on and on about how perfect our marriage is, and how wonderfully compatible we are, but after 32 years there is no reason for me to be disingenuous. Yes, we do have a wonderfully marriage, and yes I have been wonderfully blessed with a gentle prince of a guy who is my soul mate forever, but in spite of that, no marriage is perfect and people who pretend they have a perfect marriage are disingenuous.  I suggest you stay far, far away from them. Why do I say that? I believe in reality. Marriage is never perfect because it includes not one, but two imperfect people. In spite of the personal imperfections, it is possible for two imperfect people to be the harmony to each others melody which makes for a wonderful way to spend your life. Sometimes marriage hits a wrong chord, sometimes it's a tad off pitch and it's always a work in progress. That being said, it has been worth the 32 year investment we've made and I love the soundtrack of our life together. Forever and always, so happy you're mine.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Excuse Me but Your Poinsettia's Been Hacked

Beautiful as always
My office door opened the other day and as my co-worker walked through, she immediately began sizing up my Poinsettia.  "Hey, don't be giving my poinsettias the stink eye." I warned, then we both laughed. Yesterday, not even a week since I had been given possession of the dang thing, I noticed it was looking a little sad. Dang it! I had gone so far to come into the office over the weekend and moved it away from the window afraid the cold would be too much. As we ended, break I noticed it was downright sick looking. I hadn't even had it a week for heaven's sake! I picked it up and carried it back to my co-workers office with whom I am in the running for the least green thumb. The other girls in the office were hot on my heels. I walked in holding my sad little plant and asked where hers was.  With a sly grin she refused to offer its location swore she had not done anything that was against the rules. I knew it! I just
Looking for pity perhaps
knew it, she had hidden it until she found a suitable replacement!  She assured us that wasn't the case and then mentioned it was in a better place. Had it already passed on to the great beyond? No, it was in ICU being cared for by another co-worker who is more poinsettias friendly and who reported it was already perking up. So now I guess we're just adopting our pitiful plants out to be maintained by someone else until all but one spot on the wall of shame has been filled? Foul, I'm calling foul.  Meanwhile another co-worker was putting out feelers for someone to give her plant some TCL while she took a long weekend off. I'm sorry sister but this is every gal for herself and by saying that I'm actually doing her a favor. Trust me, she does not want me babysitting her plant! It's amazing my three children made
No pity or mercy, you've been hacked
it to adulthood under my care. She placed her surprisingly healthy plant on a file cabinet in the hall with a pity note laying a foundation of failure should she come back to work to nothing but a tiny stalk with shriveled leaves scattered all around. Photographic evidence shows her note was hacked shortly after she left for her weekend. Hmmm. Friday we had the company Christmas party during lunch since the actual event got iced out. We were sitting shoulder to shoulder enjoying the opportunity to visit with some we don't come in contact with every day. My boss (the great giver) asked a co-worker sitting across from us if she had been in our department lately. Initially she looked puzzled, because she rarely has a need to come to our department, but I knew EXACTLY where this conversation was going.... "Oh don't you even get started on that I snapped!" She went from looking puzzled to sheer shock. She looked at me like my just split into, revealing the Jackie on the other side.
Needs something besides ICU
He shrugged his shoulders and tried to act benign then muttered something about if she had seen the lovely poinsettias. By this time, several people were tuned into the exchange as I explained the horror we face each Christmas. He shrugged his shoulders again and tried to defend himself by saying he thought it was a nice gesture... "It's not nice! It's a sadistic ritual that you take a lot of delight in." When I looked across the table at the shocked faces staring back at me, I decided to drop it because obviously there are some who just don't get "our" departments sense of humor. So here are the standings so far. Girl #1's poinsettia looks like it just stepped off a poinsettia runway. Girl #2 poinsettia looks much the same in
Could be worse, could look like the one  in ICU
spite of taking a long weekend. Girl #4 poinsettia actually looks worse than mine in spite of being in ICU and my poinsettia looks sad and droopy. I'm not sure the last two are going to make it to Christmas.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Poinsettia Hell


Jackie
Someone was in my office the other day, when I happened to look outside to see one of my bosses coming in with a box of Poinsettias. Whoever was in my office, could tell by the look on my face, that I was no longer paying attention to the report in question.... I had other things on my mind. It has
Shelley
begun.... Poinsettia Hell was here!!! It's a tradition for him to give all of the girls in the department a beautiful Poinsettia for Christmas. It's also a tradition that has turned into a fight to the death (literally) to make sure your poinsettia isn't the first to croak. Embarrassingly, my first Poinsettia only made it 1.2 days, before it looked like it had been torched with a welding rod. It's a brutal contest with accusations
Tiffany
of sabotage (insert shocked and horrified face here) and exploits of mad dashes to Walmart to stock up on look alike plants to replace the dearly departed. After
Dinah
the delivery, everyone was up and out of their offices vowing not to be the first one on the "Wall of Shame" which is a shelf in my office where we place them as they one by one go down. Let the games begin... Ready - Set - Protect your plant at all cost and remember "Tis the season" to play fair ya'll!

A Winter Wonderland Surprise


One night last week, I took a snowy walk. My walks are always special, but last night was special for several reasons. Since it had sleeted most of the day, it was a winter wonderland walk. I love winter wonderland walks, they are the best. Another reason, I was graced with the presence of Soxy the wonder dog. Soxy is my friend's rescue dog who is midnight black with the exception of one front lower leg that is white. When I walk at night, she will sometimes hide in the shadows and I won't see her until she starts bouncing around. It's easy to tell that Soxy is one of those special dogs that captures your heart and my heart is no exception. The problem with her is... She's a man's dog. She loves to walk the trail, but unless there is a guy walking, she won't go. Last night was the 2nd time she's walked with me. I don't know if she had been in the house all day and was bored, or just figured no critters that I couldn't handle would be out. Whatever the reason, I was happy to have her company, especially in the winter weather. She bounces around like a happy little seal when she is on the trail. Last night while she bounced and I took in the view we both saw a flash streak across the
pasture... It was a deer with it's white tail bobbed as it fled to a safe hiding place. It blended in perfectly with it's surrounding except the tail bouncing across our path. She was almost entirely invisible except for the tail. When she was out of view, Soxy and I looked at each other, I giggled for the both of us and clapped my hands. What a treat!! Yeah, you can tell I haven't been out of the City much.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Jesus went to the Garden to Pray

I spent the afternoon at the Cancer Center with my mom and dad. She had her first visit with the Oncologist. We're still not sure if it's Lymphoma or pancreatic cancer, but we liked her doctor. When I picked her up, it had just began to sleet. I sat with her as dad filled out her paperwork. She folded a paper towel over and over as we talked.  I don't want to be afraid to talk to her about what is going on, and in that moment, I had a handle on my emotions so I asked her.... "What do you think about it Mom?" She just looked at me with childlike wonder and asked.... "You mean, what do I think about having cancer?" I told her yes, then she said... "Well, on one hand you ask God why me? Then again you have to ask... "Why not me?" I just nodded. I'm not sure I've ever been more proud of my Mother than I was in that moment. When we finished at the clinic, I had to scrape my windshield, then worry about getting everyone into the house safely. Not willing to take a risk, I pulled over the drive way, across their lawn and pulled up as close as I could get to the front porch.  With everyone safely home, I checked my phone and found my office had closed for the day so I had a cold afternoon off. When I got home, I found my husband had the afternoon off as well. I wrestled with myself for as long as I could wrestle, then finally I put on my ski gear, ran to the basement and told my husband I was going for a walk in the woods. Some friends of ours bought several acres on the edge of town. They cleared a path around their land, making a great walking trail through the pasture around the pond and through a creek. It has become my refuge. By the time I left the house, the traffic had cleared.  Most offices had closed, sending their employees home to snuggle by a cozy fire... Not me! I want out in the middle of it all. When I got past town I kept a steady slow speed, ignoring all stop signs that might trip up my traction. With my fingers tightly gripping the steering wheel and my eyes dead ahead, I was realized I was intense about getting to the woods. I fight my emotions every day, all day long, sometimes hanging on by just the tips of my nails. I know, if I can just make it until my walk in the woods... I'll be okay. I rarely claim that God speaks to me, but when he does, there is no doubt it's him. I can count on one hand how many times I think I've actually heard a word from him... Today was one of those days. As I drove to the woods I could almost hear him say.... "Jesus went to the garden to pray." He did. Jesus did go to the garden to pray. I never really wondered why he went to the garden to pray, I just accepted the fact that he did. He was Jesus, he could have prayed anywhere and I'm sure his Father would have heard him. Why the garden? This is what my heart is telling me. There is healing in the garden. Maybe not physical healing, although there can be, but there is a healing of the heart found in the garden. When my heart is broken, when I feel torn apart and when I fill like my plate is as full as it's ever going to be without something spilling over.... I find healing in the garden. I look forward to my walks in the woods. I'm always at peace when I leave. During the day I hang onto the moment when I can leave for my walk..... If I can just make it until then, I can let it all go. I can cry if I want to cry, scream if I want to scream, pray if I want to pray, laugh, dance or just drink it all in, but there is no judgement in the woods. Maybe that's why Jesus went to the woods. Maybe he needed to get away from the noise of the city. Maybe he escaped to the garden because it was far away from all expectations, disappointments, gossip, rumors and the cold harsh fact that the end was very near. Maybe he was like me, and found healing in the quiet whisper of the evening breeze.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Invisible Warrior

The silence of the night swallows your screams
Nobody hears you
Every effort to move your laden limbs are futile
No one sees your struggle
You reach your hand to grasp one in danger
They slip right through your fingers
Cries of desperation echo back
They are swallowed by ears of stone
A flood of tears threaten to drown you
You cry alone
Instinctual fears cinch your heart
No one shows concern
               Pleas of urgent needs pour from your soul
               No credence given
               You are an invisible warrior
               The battle rages,
but your eyes are the only ones that see.
 There are people all around you, how can this be?
Every effort is made to make you doubt that which
cannot be explain... You. Just. Know!
Without the help of others, you battle on,
because that's what invisible warriors do.
              



Tempered Excitment


Yes, I am a snow freak. I wait patiently every year for 16 feet of snow that never seems to make it to our community. It's not unusual for the extended forecast to show chances of snow.... It's just unusual for it to actually happen past the extent of barely covering the grass. When we do get snow, it's usually over several inches of solid ice. I'm not sure, but I think we probably live in the ice capital of the world since we've had more than our share over the last 5 years. But in 1988 we hit the snow jackpot when we received around 13 to 16 inches of the fluffy white stuff. The forecast in our area made no mention of snow, much less 16 inches. It started snowing around 9:30 a.m. and by noon companies were telling their people to go home.... If they could get home. It was the coolest snow ever! That evening when the snow stopped, I opened my front door and actually had to step up over the snow. My youngest at the time could barely see over the top and my dogs got completely lost in it. We romped and play and fully expected to have a snow day. Oh no.... That was not to be. The office I worked for, which provided nothing that couldn't be paused for a day, still wanted all employees to come in. You couldn't use the excuse that you couldn't make it because the owner willingly picked everyone up in his four wheel drive. He even picked my babysitter up and brought her to my house. Needless to say, we weren't a chipper bunch, that was until it was time to go home for more romping. We haven't seen a decent snow since, I mean that was pretty hard to top especially given the fact that there was ZERO ice involved. Oh what I wouldn't give for a good deep snow day. I look at the forecast with tempered excitement because I hate the disappointment when it doesn't happen or is melts the minute it hits the ground. I know most people hate the inconvenience of snow, but I just love to play in it. I love looking at the intricate patterns of the flakes and of course, I'm the one in the parking lot trying to catch them with my tongue. I really haven't grown up my in the last 50 years, but you know what.... That's okay. A dear friend had to cancel her vacation plans because of the snowy forecast. To cheer her up from the let down of not getting her get away... I promised to come to her house and dance in the snow while singing "I Wanna Hippopotamus for Christmas". I have the lyrics printed out, now all I need is a good snow then the dancing will begin. Now tell me the truth... That in itself is something to look forward to.