Thursday, February 28, 2008

How Close the Call

I posted about my experience the night the tornado ripped through Union University on 2/5/08 here, but here is an aerial shot of the area showing the path the tornado cut, and how close it really was to me at work (in yellow). This is a scanned photo that was submitted to the Jackson Sun, that was the only photo credit.

Strep? No Strep? Strep? Pneumonia? Rheumatic Fever?

Katie's daughter, Tiffany, has been sick for a couple of weeks.

I just don't understand why many trips to the doctor failed to yield much of anything. One has to wonder sometimes about the medical profession.

Way back on February 14 or 15 (a couple of weeks ago) Tif ended up with a fever. She wasn't feeling terribly bad or anything, just had fever. Her mom gave her some acetaminophen but it didn't help. Her temperature kept rising, way up to 103.5°! So, off to the ER one night she went.

Here's a brief summary of the events/diagnoses in the days/weeks following:
  • Visit 1 to ER: no strep, no flu - treat the fever
  • Visit 2 to family doctor: no strep, no flu - treat fever with meds
  • Visit 3 to ER: strep and pneumonia - prescribed amoxicillin
  • Visit 4 to family doctor: amoxicillin NOT proper treatment, went to penicillin for strep and pneumonia
  • Visit 5 to ER: no strep, pneumonia gone - prescribed strong cough syrup/pain med because Tif now complained of aches and pains, especially in feet.
  • Visit 6 to family doctor: rheumatic fever - prescribed steroids to treat
Two weeks later, today, Tif returns to school, but I wonder if she will make it through the day.

One thing though, her suffering this week has seemed to make her more compassionate for others who suffer chronic pain. I pointed out to her that some people she knows suffer from pain due to illnesses with no cure and she was surprised by what I told her and by whom was afflicted. She said "I would kill myself" and asked how they do it. I don't know but for the grace of God.

Then she saw me limping about and asked "your feet hurt?" and I said "uh, yeah, that's why I've been seeing a podiatrist, he treats my Achilles tendonitis." She had no clue -- mind you, I've been limping around now for months! LOL

She also sincerely thanked her mom for taking care of her (which was NOT easy! Not easy for mom to take care of her, and NOT easy for Tif to recognize the efforts of a caretaker! LOL).

From better days, here's a repost of a humorous YouTube video by Tif and her friend Emilie discussing whether Brunettes or Redheads are better? This is Tif at her comedic best! LOL It's garners close to 150 comments so far, so join the fun!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Spanish Panic

Katie and I went to see Justin perform in Once Upon a Mattress, the school musical this year.

I was so proud of Justin this night, and I feel so blessed because Katie my dear friend, lets me share in these experiences with her kids.

This is just an excerpt of Justin dancing the Spanish Panic in one scene. He's so handsome -- watching him dance reminds me of Patrick Swayze!

Tiffany is also in the musical, but unfortunately she is very ill with "strep throat" (in quotes because I question the medical "professionals" working the overnight shift at the local hospital), and has also been diagnosed with pneumonia by the family doctor. She's not able to make the performances which is a drag because of all the time and work that went into it.

Great performance JCS thespians!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why Am I Up At 2:30 AM?

I'm so obsessed.

I'm trying very hard to get the printer to work wirelessly with the laptop.

It always worked before. Now it doesn't. I'm obsessed.

My eyelids are heavy.

And I still sit here.

Obsessed.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Transitions

Change is good, right? I sit here with tears in my eyes as I contemplate the many changes taking place in my life. Moving out of the comfort zone for me has been bittersweet, scary, fun, wonderful, mysterious, confusing, etc...

I have been so happy the last 7 years as a framily with my kids and Sue. Now, Justin is leaving the nest and taking with him all of my "adopted" sons who more than likely won't be coming around anymore.

In His loving provision, God has placed new people in both mine and Sue's lives...possibly taking us in separate directions. This, as beautiful a blessing as it is, is also a struggle for me. I think it's possible that I'm having separation anxiety. It's all happening so fast.

I have met a wonderful person who I have begun sharing my life with. It was all so exciting in the beginning. It still is. But, as I am seeing my life moving into a new direction I'm also spending more time away from home. The relationship I am in right now is somewhat long distance and takes me away many weekends. So, my heart is torn. When I'm away I miss home. When I'm home I miss Steve.

I have loved my life here in my Humboldt home the last 7 years. God has made such wonderful transformations in this family and in me. Now, I wonder, where is He taking me? Where is He taking Sue? Is Justin going to be ok? What will life be like for Tiffany and I? Will we finally become friends? Will she be happy without her brother? What is happening with my new relationship? Will it last or will my heart be broken yet again?

I feel so melancholy about all of this overall but at this very moment I am rejoicing. Tiff has been so sick and unable to rest for the last several days. It's almost time for her pain medicine and she is resting comfortably when usually she is counting down the minutes to the next pill. I am so drained. I have classes tonight and I missed work today. These are the times when God strengthens me. I wonder how it is I keep going, but I do. I haven't had a good night's sleep since Thursday. The last few nights have been especially difficult as I have been worrying about Tiff.

All of this time of focusing on getting Tiff well has left me the opportunity to contemplate the changes taking place. I am excited, and rejoicing yet I feel anxious and sometimes have doubts. I am afraid to step out of this wonderful comfort zone in my home with my framily. I'm afraid of making wrong choices. I'm hopeful in my new relationship. I am excited for Sue and her new friendship that God has provided during this time of transition. At the same time, I am somewhat envious of Ellen sharing the time with my life long best friend that I was once able to. I miss the times Sue and I used to have before I started working , going to school, and now dating. I miss framily nights. I miss God days *tears* and I miss having breakfast with my best friend on Wednesday mornings at Cathey's.

Sue, my precious sister, you will never know how God has blessed my life and the lives of my kids through you. You mean so much more to me than I can ever find the words to express. These have been the best years of my life...really. Some of the most wonderful memories I will always cherish have been the times I have shared with you. God sent you to this family before we even understood what was about to happen. He carried us through such a difficult time of transition and in the process gave us such beautiful memories.

I'm not sure where things are going at this point but I do know changes are happening and there seems to be no stopping it. I can see God working all around us and I marvel in amazement that He takes such time for us. I think I am at a point where I might be having a crisis of belief but I know He will provide for all our needs.

I remember when I first met you, you were studying Experiencing God and experiencing your first COB. Now, in this time of transition, you are studying Experiencing God again. What is God up to???? Will we be ok? I miss you.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Comfort Zones

In the Rollercoaster Tycoon game I play you can pick up a person, the SIM, and just drop them into another scene. The rollercoaster repair man is comfortably working on one coaster when I pick him up and dangle him near a broken down coaster on the other side of the park and drop him. Suddenly he's on the other side of the amusement park and heading toward another coaster to repair it. I took him out of his comfort zone and now he has to get his bearings in a new environment and get to work on a new task.

God does the same with me. One day things are rolling along, then all of a sudden, I'm picked up and moved to Tennessee. Eight years later, things are rolling along fine, secure in my home and new job. It's good.

Then, things start changing. I'm not feeling so "comfortable" anymore. The kids are growing up. Justin will be moving out, and he's joined the Navy! Tif will be driving soon and gaining even more independence. Katie has a man friend and sure is spending a lot of time with him. Life seems to have hit a couple of bumps in the road for me. I'm starting to feel a bit of uncertainty about the future. He's moving me out of my comfort zone.

Tonight I'm trying to be a good "not the mom" while Tif is sick with fever. I just celebrated the fact that it fell below 100°. But, caring for the sick is NOT in my comfort zone!

Speaking of caring for the sick -- I have a new friend who needs some help since she suffered a physical injury. That's really brought me out of my comfort zone because it is as though God is handing me some responsibility here. He's asking me to step out and serve someone. It's very awkward, but I'm doing it and He's blessing me. Blessing me BIG!

I've also been convicted about being more transparent in my Christian walk. God has provided me some people in my life to help me with this. It is definitely NOT an easy thing to do, be transparent, so again, I am way out of my comfort zone with this.

I am learning that there are wonderful blessings lurking beyond comfort zones. If I were to stay in my comfort zone, those blessings would remain hidden, but now that I am venturing out, I can see with new eyes, from a new perspective, and God then reveals those blessings to me. In fact, He is the source of these blessings and by stepping out, He is requiring me to trust Him. In doing so, I am experiencing Him in new ways, and will hopefully grow ever closer to Him.

I think God sometimes becomes invisible to us in our comfort zones so He moves us out. He can't stand for us not to be able to see him. I think it's like when sunlight shines in the window and you can see the air all full of dust -- that air always looks like that, but we don't notice it until the light shines through. We don't notice God unless we look out from behind the "zone" and into the Light!

We've got to move out of our comfort zones!

What is a Valentine?

According to Merriam Webster a "valentine" is 1: a sweetheart chosen or complimented on Valentine's Day

When I went to WalMart yesterday I saw a familiar face loading groceries into her car. It was the waitress that usually serves me at a local diner so I said "hello!".

She replied and greeted me with "Happy Valentines Day!"

That got me to wondering why this person would wish me a happy Valentine's day? She only ever sees me at the diner alone so she has no reason to believe I have a valentine. I am virtually a stranger to her, at most an acquaintance I know from the restaurant, so I find it bizarre that I was greeted with a "happy Valentine's day".

Why do people wish "Happy Valentine's Day" to people they hardly know? What is this Valentine's Holiday anyway? What good is it for single people? If you have no valentine there really is no reason to "celebrate" it is there?


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Steve

I met Steve this weekend past. I like him. I think Katie likes him too! LOL

So, as they develop in their relationship and learn about each other, I'm feeling melancholy and wondering about what changes in my life may be coming.

I'm excited for Katie as she revels in this new relationship, and at the same time, I miss my friend.

It's not a jealousy at all, it's just "different". Thankfully Katie and I have a very open and honest friendship, so these "adjustments" that are being made are going smoothly.

She introduced Steve to her kids and that went very well.

She introduced Steve to Northbrook, and that is very important to her, because she depends on the Body of Christ to approve. That seemed to go well. Hopefully he will be able to return and spend more time with NB so we can all get to know him better.

God knows what the future holds, and I know to trust Him.

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Ahhhhhhh -- The Aroma of Brewing Coffee

I love the morning! The wonderful aroma of coffee brewing permeates throughout the house. A soft rain is falling outside. Picture perfect.

Of course the plumbers working hard to remove whatever alien took up residence in the drain kind of ruins the moment.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Are We Close to God's Judgement?

I'm stuck on a question in my Bible study: How close do you think your country is to God's judgment? Check one:
  • I do not believe God will bring judgment on my country
  • I believe God's judgment is a long time off
  • I cannot understand why God has waited this long. I believe we are on the verge of a major judgment from God.
  • I believe we are already experiencing a disciplinary judgment like that described in Isaiah 5:1-7.
  • I believe we have already experienced part of God's judgment.
Now, once you choose and answer, you must state what evidence you can give to support it?

And what effect does your belief have on the way you live?

Looking for help here!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Special Pleasures

One of the special pleasures I have in life is a hot cup of cocoa on a chilly winter's night. I literally look forward to that time of the evening when the water in the kettle comes to a boil and starts to whistle. It automatically puts a smile on my face!

It's time for hot cocoa!

Not just any hot cocoa, but cocoa from Gloria Jeans specially prepared by my best friend Katie.

She tops it off with some deliciously sweet whipped cream and a dash of some red crystal sprinkles.

It just isn't the same when I make it for myself, so I really appreciate the extra effort she puts into it.

Thanks Katie!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tornado at Union

In the previous post I shared my experience last night when the tornado hit Union University. The store I work at is in a shopping center that is just across the street from Union. It was the first time I have ever heard a tornado and that 35 seconds of storm is one I won't forget for a long time if ever. I'm sure however that what the students at Union experienced was much more intense and frightening.

Here is a reader submitted photo posted on the Jackson Sun that shows the minimal damage to Jennings Hall. I have my Jackson Swing Orchestra and Jackson Winds rehearsals in this hall every Monday evening, but I believe that is about to change. About 80% of the Union Campus is destroyed or heavily damaged. This photo is like I said, showing the minimal damage to one building.

Some stores, banks and gas stations were heavily damaged across the street from where I work. We have been without power now over 24 hours which made work today very interesting -- and, well, dark.

Cars were tossed about, trees uprooted, utility poles snapped in half just behind my store and dorms utterly leveled. It is a miracle nobody was killed at Union last night.

For more reader submitted photos on the Jackson Sun website go here and here.

Here are some photos by a Union photographer on Flickr that really capture the devastation on campus and includes some aerial views, and here are some from the vantage point of a student.

Union University Tornado pictures on Flickr.

Students are in need of clothing and possibly long term housing. The temperatures were unseasonably warm yesterday so many students were wearing summer wear -- it is no longer warm and they are without winter clothes. Some also need places to stay and there may be other needs as well. Here is a website to visit for more information and to find out how to help: UU Emergency

Special Tornado Coverage by the Jackson Sun here.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I Heard "The Train"

Tornado Warning!

This evening I was in my store with three other employees. No customers as there was severe weather coming in Jackson, TN and people were staying home and safe. At one point I was in the office and the lights flickered so I stepped out to the sales floor to make sure we were still good to go with lights. I checked that flashlights were at the ready. Thankfully the security lights remained on like they are supposed to.

The lights were on and I went back into the office. The warning sirens were sounding, and the rain had started and we were all a bit nervous because the warnings affected our area. Suddenly I started hearing something, a really low-pitched steady hum.

I've heard that a tornado coming always sounds like a train, so over the radio headset I asked "is anyone else hearing a train?" And one associate questioned "a train?" and then said "Oh!". Then we all heard hammering beginning on the roof of the store. It's a steel and aluminum roof so it was extremely loud. Was it hail? What was that?

Then the lights went out -- for good this time. In that short period of time between power outtages two customers had entered the building. Another associate located the customers and we got the flashlights up and running. I gave a flashlight to the customers and to each associate.

The noise on the roof was a lot of loud banging and it was obvious that stuff was blowing across it and into the AC units and whatever else up there. I was growing concerned that my friends car that I am using was being pelted by hail and I was feeling responsible that her car was going to be all dimpled when this was over! (The car was okay! Yay!)

Once we had our flashlights I tried to have everyone move to the back of the store, but by that time the storm was already starting to settle.

One of my associates is a Union University student and learned via his cellphone that two dorms on campus were "leveled". All of a sudden reality started setting in and we were all a bit stunned and somewhat frightened. I also reminded people that rumors start flying at times like these and early reports are not always accurate and are frequently exaggerated and "sensational".

The storm seemed to be over and then the wailing of emergency sirens started. Sure enough, the vehicles were all heading to Union. That was so scary.

I had no power, no phone, and the cellphones sometimes worked, sometimes didn't, but I was unable to contact the people I need to to make the call to close the store. Finally I just decided "go home" and we did.

Katie is a Union University employee and she was contacted to get to campus and bring anyone she could in order to help evacuate campus. So I returned to the area with her to help in any way we could.

The "command center" was set up in the parking lot of the shopping center where my store is. Triage was set up in front of Petco. We helped how we could but there was mass chaos and nobody seemed to know what was going on. We were hearing reports though that there were no major injuries and that all the students eventually made it off campus, however the news is reporting that there are still students trapped somewhere on campus. Here's the link to the local news paper the Jackson Sun where there will be updates and more info about the storms and damage. Go here for photos.

Gifted with Singleness

I was talking with a friend last night and I had an "ah-ha!" moment of clarity. I didn't really put it all together until this morning, but when the light came on it was actually refreshing.

I am a single 41 year old woman. To many people this is a weird thing. To the Church (universal) it is a weird thing and sometimes the Church just doesn't know what to do with singles. I'm not talking about singles in their 20s who have yet to be married, but singles 30+ who are not married, never married, and don't look to be anytime soon.

I'm here to say singles are not defective or weird. Singleness really can be a gift.

Katie, my sister in Christ, longs to be a wife. She pines for a soul mate to share her faith in God with and to share a relationship with a husband that represents the relationship of Christ to His church. As long as I have known her, this has been true. She seems to have been created to be a wife. When she hears "singleness is a gift", it is something she can't comprehend.

My other friend and sister in Christ also longs to have a deep intimate relationship with a mate. As we talked last night it became apparent to me that this longing that people have is persistent and can be very frustrating. When she hears "singleness is a gift", it is something she can't comprehend.

Just because someone is single, it doesn't mean they are gifted with it. People really need to stop throwing that phrase around to "comfort" the single person who longs to be in a relationship with a mate. It can be hurtful.

You see, I don't experience a desire to be with someone. I do not burn with passion. I do not have that longing to be anything but what I am, single, and at one point last night I even said "I must be broke".

But, this morning I remembered this:

"I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion." (1 Corinthians 7:7-9)

People casually toss around the phrase "singleness is a gift" but what they mean is "don't feel bad you aren't married, God can use singles too, blah blah blah." This is a misunderstanding of what Paul is teaching to the Corinthians. It never made sense to me until now. I'd wonder why on earth, if God created us as relational beings, singleness would ever be a gift, but now I get it!

I can go to a restaurant and sit by myself totally content. Singles not gifted with singleness can find themselves less than content when the hostess says "just one?" Some attend church and feel self-conscious because they are seated alone, but not me. (Although, I am blessed to have many sisters in Christ who join me in worship and also couples who invite me to sit with them -- sometimes I may take them up on it, sometimes not.) Sometimes I wonder why other people are uncomfortable with single people sitting alone, maybe because it seems like such a foreign concept? People describe to me their desire to be "held" and be close to someone, but while I won't say I wonder what that might be like, it is not something that consumes my thought life. It really isn't a sad and pathetic thing to a person gifted with singleness!

Sometimes I think I want a relationship, but I think I "want" that only because that seems to be "normal". I even filled out a profile on Christian Cafe -- the lack of results just confirms my gift of singleness! Katie thought my lack of responses may be due to what I posted! LOL

In talking with my friends I have concluded that some people have a burning desire to be with that someone special. Sometimes that desire is so strong it can lead to temptations that are dangerous. One might say it borders on torment.

It dawned on me that many people "burn with passion". The gift of singleness is the fact that I don't burn with passion!

It is a gift to be single and not burn with passion. That is the gift of singleness.

If one burns with passion, and can't control themselves, the Bible instructs one to marry. If one is gifted to be single, praise God!

I am truly gifted with singleness. It is God's will and He invites me to join Him in His work. He uses my singleness to accomplish His work through me. My prayer is that I be obedient and moldable.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Staying Moldable, It's Too Hard

I am studying Henry Blackaby's "Experiencing God". Blackaby says that in our walk with God we will experience a Crisis of Belief which will require a Major Life Adjustment. When God reveals Himself to us as He pursues a loving relationship, it requires a response. He will ask us to respond and what we do next will reveal what we believe about God to be true. In other words, faith = action.

One of the women I am discipling with said "...if I am looking to God daily for His will, I am staying moldable in His hand, why would there need to be major adjustments?"

GOOD QUESTION!

I would say that the "being moldable" is the "major adjustment". If you are not moldable, you would resist any shaping whatsoever, therefore you would not make any adjustment at all.

An example: When I was moldable, God said "quit your job, leave your home, move to a foreign land". I literally was studying the Crisis of Belief (which came to be known as a "COB" in my Experiencing God class) when I was having a crisis of major proportions! A few months later I quit my job, left my home and moved to West TN. Now there's that MAJOR life adjustment! He then molded me and shaped me through those times for His work. His work was delivering one of His children from the bondage of abuse. He worked through me to do that. I experienced God in amazing ways because I allowed Him to TOTALLY MESS UP MY LIFE! *tongue in cheek* (truth in sarcasm).

However, somewhere along I had a few more COBs and started to resist them and any major life adjustments. It's too hard to stay moldable.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Cha-cha--cha-changes

"Changes aren't permanent but change is."

That's one of my favorite quotes.

Life for me is slightly different today than it was a few months ago.

Katie is busy enjoying a new relationship with a man she met a couple of months ago. That is making me feel a bunch of things: uneasy, melancholy, scared, excited, happy, sad, but mostly good because I really believe she is meant to be a wife. It's just obvious that God created her for that role. So far she is having a good time learning about him and they are really hitting it off well. Looks like a possible match.

Justin is no longer a civilian. He is signed on for the Navy and will leave in September for basic. He's growing up and will soon be out on his own.

Tiffany is growing into a beautiful young woman and although my relationship with her has been strained in recent years, it seems that is changing. She is maturing and it is really nice to watch and be a part of. I hope someday she understands how important she is to me.

Katie and her kids are my framily and all these changes and possible changes have me slightly frightened that they may be moving on to new lives that won't necessarily include me as they do now. Not that I will be dumped or anything, but that things will just be different. I imagine a pretty lonely house and it's a bit disconcerting.

Nothing will be happening in the near near future, but the prospect of Katie getting married off and moving on is starting to be a real possibility and just has me thinking.

While all that is going on I have been developing some new friendships as well. I think God is providing.

I have been deepening a relationship with a wonderful woman of faith who is very special to me. I meet with her every couple of weeks at her home which is awesome. I look forward to that time together with her as we do some Bible study, just talk and get to know each other better, pray and laugh together. We will soon be meeting to discuss our latest study which is Experiencing God. I'm very excited to share with her what God is doing in my life and I can't wait to hear how He is working in hers. So God has provided a mentor and a new friend for me. I'm learning to be transparent with her and she is helping to guide me in the faith. She seems to be enjoying time with me as well, so all is cool with that!

I have also been spending time with another new friend in recent weeks. Actually the circumstances surrounding that are rather unlike me, but then again, maybe not since there is precedent for me meeting people via the Internet (see "Friends"). Yep, met this person through blogging and it seems we enjoy each others company so it looks like I have a new friend! Yay! I am an introvert and I am normally not comfortable meeting new people, but maybe that is something God is changing in me. Who knows? We have our faith in common and have spent some time discussing things and experiences just getting to know one another. I don't really know where God is leading all this, but I'm having fun and enjoying it.

So, that's just a few of the changes that I am experiencing and/or may be coming my way!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Ever Have a Moment?

Ever have a moment when you wonder how a loving God can allow such a terrible thing, yet in that same moment as thoughts overlap, He's all you are hanging onto?