Health

Blessings by Laura Story

Have you ever heard the song Blessings by Laura Story?  If not, click on it, above, and listen to it before reading on. I’ve always loved that song. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’ve always liked the “sad” songs since I was a kid or maybe because what she is singing about resonates with me. But even though I love this song, I didn’t really understood it for the longest time. What blessings could possibly be found in our worst pains and losses?!

Then one day, a couple of years ago, I was in the car, this song came on the radio, and I immediately thought of Janet (not her real name). God connected the dots for me right there and showed me an example of what blessing could come out of Janet’s cancer and her family losing their child, sister and mother.  Before receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis, Janet did not have the most positive attitude. She was not happy with her situation when she compared it to others’. Sometimes she felt others had an obligation to share their blessings with her because she didn’t have what they had. She focused on the things she didn’t have instead of the things and people she did.

When her cancer was discovered, it was pretty progressed and doctors were not optimistic.  But you know what?  Janet didn’t wallow in self-pity, didn’t wonder “Why me?” or get angry at God.  She had an amazing transformation in attitude, spirit and heart after her diagnosis.  She realized every moment on this earth and all the people in her life were precious and she wanted as much time as possible to let them know that and to show God she could praise him in the storm. She wasn’t going to accept defeat and die without a fight.

It took the knowledge that her time left on earth had an expiration date of months, not decades, to change.  Janet had a love of life and appreciation for each day and those with her like she’d never had before.  She praised God in private and out loud to whom she came in contact.  She went through ugly treatments and terrible side effects saying, “God is good!”, being grateful for medicine that helped her fight.  She turned it all over to God and trusted Him to get her through this.  And, oh boy, did God do amazing things in Janet! Her tumors started shrinking.  Doctors could not explain what was happening, but Janet knew. She was given more time to enjoy life since she was finally enjoying it they way God wanted her to. She lived so much longer than any doctor expected! And when the cancer started progressing again, quickly, she made sure she said everything that needed to be said to those she was leaving behind.

Her inspiration to all of us for having joy in her heart while going through treatments was a blessing.  Her example to her daughters of how to face fear, illness and the unknown head-on, with God, family and friends by her side was a blessing.  Her girls memories of their mom’s final months were of joy, love, believing in and receiving God’s healing, not the negative, unhappy woman she was before, and that was a blessing.

I wish she could have lived longer to do all the things she wanted to with her girls, and see them grow up and become moms of their own. Even though her life was cut short, at the end of her life she was blessed with an inner peace and love, something her family had wanted for her for so long. She was a wonderful example of hope, the power of prayer and how God is always waiting with open arms when we are ready to turn to Him.

Why am I writing this post now?  I was doing housework today with music on in the background and this song came on.  And them another example of a blessing came into my head.  Shortly after turning 2 yrs old, B became very sick. After he was released from the hospital, he was still ill, but we were sent home with diagnoses, medicines and machines and we had to learn to care for him. He was too sick to go to daycare some days and when he was well enough to go, they could not administer his meds per their policies.  I don’t blame them!  I asked my parents to watch him while I worked and they graciously said yes. Then, after a month of watching B, my mom sat me down and said she and my dad could no longer care for B. It was too much.  My dad had recently retired and they wanted to travel. They wanted to enjoy their grandchild and his needs needed to be met by me, his mother. She told me I needed to quit my job and take care of my son.

We were still paying medical bills from his hospital stay and now we had to go down to one salary?!  How would we make ends meet?! But it was the right thing for B so we did it.  And it was tough!  It’s still tough, 10 years later, to make ends meet on one salary. But they always do meet. We don’t have everything we want, but we always have what we need.  And the best part? We have a healthy, happy young man whom I’ve had the privilege to homeschool the past 5 years. That’s our blessing.

A couple of other examples popped into my head and then a voice said, “You should go blog about this. Others need to know, too.” Yes.  I heard a voice.  And I know Whose it is. He’s spoken to me a couple of times in the past few months and gave me instructions. Things I didn’t want to do because I was scared.  But after the fact, I knew He was right and I should have done them. I believe my fears would not have come to fruition because He put the opportunity there to begin with. He was going to hold my hand through something to show me I could do it but I didn’t want to trust Him. So today, I’m listening to Him and acting on it.

Have you received a blessing from tragedy, loss or pain? A heart attack could scare someone into changing their eating and exercise habits. Surviving a car crash, even though months of hospitalization or physical therapy is needed, could stop someone from ever texting and driving again. Did you ever see the movie Mr. Mom? Dad losing his job and staying home with the kids while his stay-at-home wife reentered the work force. Dad got to get to know his kids, make memories with them, and both parents got a greater appreciation for what the other did. A terrible accident or illness to a child, forcing a “super mom” to admit that she can’t do it all and a workaholic dad to get into the parenthood trenches and help, instead of just being the paycheck.

“The song Blessings really came out of a redefining of the word blessing that’s been going on in my life for a few years now. I grew up hearing that word blessed…I think subtilely I began to see blessing as something that was centered around health or prosperity. Which was hard these passed few years when I was facing a situation with my husband’s health. We were praying for healing and God, for whatever reason, wasn’t answering our prayers the way we wanted Him to. So, was He blessing us? That was our question….It’s just us investigating this idea of, could God possibly be blessing us through not giving us the things we’re praying for…Even though we do have more questions than answers at this point in time, I do know this: that there is a blessedness that comes through waiting on the Lord. There is an intimacy in our walk with the Lord that comes through walking through that valley. There is a reliance on His Word that we only know when everything else in life fades away. And so, in that sense, I truly feel like I’ve been blessed.” Laura Story

Cooking Turnip Greens for the First Time

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We went to the local farmers market this weekend for the 1st time this year.  One of the stalls was selling bunches of 3 turnips for $2.50 and I’d never seen turnips that big!  I like to put turnips in my Fall and Winter stews instead of potatoes, so I bought a bunch.  I’m going to peel, dice and freeze the turnips until I’m ready to use them later this year.

Unlike just the turnip bulb I find in the grocery store, these turnips came with their above-ground leafy stalks.  I knew I’d heard about turnip greens in certain Southern movies, books and ladies circles so, being the frugal Southerner that I am, I went searching for a recipe.  Cuz, let’s face it: once your north of 40, like I am, you can never have too many greens in your diet!  However, I didn’t want a recipe that took an ingredient and boiled it to death or smothered it in so much butter or bacon grease to mask the taste that it was no longer good for us.  So I asked The Google to find me a “healthy turnip green recipe”.   The second recipe to pop up in that search was Gina Neely’s Turnip Green Recipe.   I had all the ingredients, I liked the cooking method, so I went for it!

Once the hubs realized that I was actually going to cook the turnip greens, he felt the need to make a declaration: “I’ve had turnip greens before and I don’t like them.  Just like I don’t like turnips!  (Note to audience, he gobbles them up in my stews!) No matter how you’re going to prepare them, it’s not going to make a difference to me, because I. Don’t. Like. Turnips!  Therefore, I will not be trying yours.”  I gotta say, I totally admire the man’s courage for standing up to me.  ;o)

Well, I just loved these turnip greens!  I asked B if he’d like to try them (let him know he didn’t have to) and he did.  He loved them as much as I did!  The hubs was in the other room and called out, “What did the boy think?!”  I replied, “He liked them alright.”

The hubs came stomping into the kitchen with a duck face.  He looked at the pan of greens and his expression changed to disgust.  “Did you put vinegar in them,” he asked.  “Nope,” I replied.  “Hm.  Maybe I’d like them if they had vinegar.”

I said nothing; he continued to eye the greens like they were gonna jump up and bite him.  I turned back to the computer so he didn’t feel and pressure and saw out of the corner of my eye him grab a green out of the pan with his fingers and put it in his mouth.  His face was pleasantly surprised at the taste, but once he saw me looking at him, the duck face was back.  “Just like I thought,” he said, and walked into the front room.  I wonder if the leftovers will “mysteriously” end up in his lunch pail tomorrow?  ;o)

Recent Measles Cases Spark Vaccine Debates Again

I recently wrote a post about the complexities of the abortion issue in Does Roe v. Wade stand another look?   Watching the news and reading lots of chatter online regarding whether or not children should all be vaccinated, reminds me so much of the abortion debates.

Abortion

  • One side states that no one else has the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body.
  • The other side can agree that a woman can do what she wants with her own body but the child is another, separate body inside of her, who has rights.

Vaccination

  • One side states that no one else has the right to tell parents what is or is not injected into their children.
  • The other side can agree that you have the right to decide for your child, however your decisions can, and sometimes do, affect other parents’ children.

Where is the “right” or “wrong”?  These issues, just like life, are not merely black or white; they are full of grays!  No one is out to harm innocents; everyone is just trying to do what is right for their children, for their family, based on their own, very personal, situation.  I do know that, as with religion, politics and abortion, no one will will be open to dialogue and there will be no progress as long as the anger and insults continue to fly.

 

Does Roe v. Wade stand another look?

Legalized abortion in America has been a heated topic for decades.  After attending Catholic schools for 12 years, I never wanted to discuss the subject again!  We’d debated it enough in school and I felt no debate nor argument would change someone’s stance on the issue.  When I was young and naive, I saw the world as black or white/right or wrong, and I was Pro-Life.  I always wanted to be a mom and was saving myself for my husband, so I was against abortion, even pregnancies that resulted from rape and incest as.  “It’s not the child’s fault,” I would insist.  “They should put their innocent babies up for adoption!”  Then I lost my virginity at 18 when I was raped.  I couldn’t properly take care of myself for 2 years and cannot imagine having to be responsible for another life inside me at that time.  I am thankful I didn’t get pregnant, and learned my first, very hard lesson in judging another without having walked a mile in their shoes.

For the past 20+ years, I have been Pro-Choice.  I wish with all my heart that we lived in a world where abortions were not wanted nor needed.  But they are so I want them legal and regulated.  If women chose to have one, I want them to be able to hold their heads up high and be law-abiding citizens, not looking over their shoulder, forced to slink around and go to someone who could possibly harm them.  I also wish that an equal amount of all the time, energy and money put into protesting outside abortion clinics and lobbying to overturn Roe v. Wade be used to help the non-aborted babies and their mothers after they are born.   Mentoring the parents, bringing them food, helping them with housing, adopting or fostering the children who were abandoned by or taken away from ill-equipped parents.

Earlier this week, I watched a Law & Order rerun from season 20, called “Dignity”.  Executive Assistant District Attorney Cutter was prosecuting a man for the murder of an abortion doctor.  He was doing his job and saying the right things in court, but he had the following conversation with his boss back at the office.

EADA Cutter: In its day, Roe v. Wade conformed to what we knew then about human life and Science. Contraception was limited, most birth defects were untreatable. Thirty-five years later, birth defects can be corrected, disabled children are protected by a Bill of Rights, contraception of every kind is available–
DA Jack McCoy: Yet people who don’t want to still get pregnant.
EADA Cutter: So their rights should reign supreme? My God! Cats and dogs have more rights than the unborn! Roe v. Wade wasn’t written in stone. It could stand another look.
Wow. Cutter brought up valid points, in my opinion, about the advancements in medicine and the availability of contraception.  Points I’d never thought about.  You know what else he said?  He compared the murder suspect to John Brown and abortion to slavery to prove his point that our laws are not set in stone and “…could stand another look…” as times change.  That really made me think.
I don’t know what the answer is.  I don’t know the statistics, but I would think more abortions are performed because the pregnancy is unwanted than for birth defects or pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.  I don’t believe that employers should refuse to provide their female employees with contraception under their medical insurance because of the employer’s personal religious beliefs.  I don’t believe the men (and I say “men” because most of the politicians in this country are men) running our state and federal governments have a right to tell women what to do with their bodies.  However, I also believe that a baby is a separate body, a human, temporarily residing within another human.  Doesn’t that tiny human deserve rights?  And who should makes the decisions for those babies – parents or the state?  I see the pros and cons to both sides but can only come up with more questions, not answers.
However, I do believe that EADA Cutter is right: some laws are not set in stone and could stand another look.  Does that mean arguing the abortion issue before state or federal supreme courts?  Does that mean putting the issue on voting ballots?  I just don’t know what the answer is, or even if there is one, because the world and the people in it are not just “black or white”/good or bad.

Unexpected News

I had a follow up appointment yesterday morning to the surgery I had in March.  The last time I saw the doctor, months ago, the surgery was a success, I was healing fine and it was up in the air if I would be able to get a hearing aid to make up for hearing loss in my left ear.  My ear drum was barely moving at the time, so it was not transmitting much sound to my brain.  The doctor said he wanted to recheck it at the end of the year and if my ear starts popping again, that’s a good sign that the drum is moving.  I have good hearing days and bad hearing days but I was encouraged by the fact that my ear was popping once a month.  I went into my appointment yesterday with the expectation of discussing a hearing aid – is my ear ready for it? is he going to refer me to an audiologist to test the drum’s movement? or will I just have to live with my hearing as it is (which is an outcome I was prepared for and could live with)?

I was not prepared for what he said after examining me.  The cholesteatoma has not come back.  However, I still have negative pressure in my middle ear.  This negative pressure is what sucked my ear drum into my middle ear last year.  During surgery, my doctor removed cartilage from my external ear and used that as reinforcement when reattaching my ear drum to prevent it being sucked back in, and it is still working.  Since the negative pressure cannot suck the ear drum in, it is sucking the fluid out of all the surrounding tissue in my middle ear.  The middle ear is filling with this fluid, causing the bad hearing days and some pain.  Then occasionally, my ear drum will pop, releasing the fluid and allowing me to hear better for a bit.  But the negative pressure just starts sucking liquid out of the tissue and it starts all over again.

He wants to put a tube in my ear drum.  Creating a permanent opening through the ear drum will eliminate the negative pressure.  Any fluid that is in there will drain out and the middle ear will be unsuccessful in sucking anything else.  The procedure to put in a tube can be done in his office.  It’s a 30 minute appointment  – 25 minutes of which is spent numbing the ear drum and then 5 minutes to put it in.  He says there is no recovering time; I’ll go back to whatever I was doing and if there is any pain, regular headache medicine will take care of it.  The tube can and will fall out but he can put another one back in.  After a few years of coming back into the office for replacement tubes, I can have another hospital surgery to install a permanent tube.  Once the (temp) tube is in, I can pursue a hearing aid, but a hearing aid will not help me now.

This isn’t earth shattering news, by any means.  It’s just that I went into this appointment expecting to discuss the next step, only to find out that the last step still didn’t solve my main problem – years of hearing loss – and I need more procedures.  I had to spend yesterday processing this and readjusting my focus.  The hubs is positive about the doctor’s plan.  I’d like to be, too, but I’m done with curveballs right now.  I’m not going to do anything until next year.

I should have known things weren’t going along the path I thought, or wanted them, to.  I’ve been having problems again with my memory this past month.  I messed up 3 things and then the embarrassment of messing those things up caused me to pile more stress on myself.

  1. I’ve been in a Bunco group for 2 years now, and my favorite lady in the group always hosts in November.  She puts on a full Thanksgiving spread!  I didn’t go last year because a couple of days before, I’d received my cholesteatoma diagnosis from the ENT and he referred me to a neurosurgeon to remove it.  It was a lot to process and I wasn’t ready to talk about it.  Plus, being around a crowd of people was painful to my ear.  So I stayed home.  She asked me at this October’s Bunco get together if I was coming to her house this year and I promised I would.  I wouldn’t miss it for the world!  Well, I was sitting at home one night and got a text from one of the other Bunco ladies, asking if I was alright.  I thought that was strange and replied, that I was, asking her why she was worried.  She replied that Bunco had started half an hour before and I hadn’t shown up yet!  I was mortified that I’d forgotten!  I couldn’t go then, though.  I hadn’t even showered that day and the hostesses house was a half an hour away.
  2. Two weeks ago, a friend offered to let me me borrow something.  I told her that I had this ear appointment the following Tuesday and I’d pick it up after the appointment.  Last week, I got a message from her that she put it on the front stoop for me because she had an appointment and I had not shown up for it yet.  I freaked out, thinking that I missed my doctor’s appointment that day.  Nope!  The appointment was the following week and I told her the wrong day.
  3. B is in a 4-H Club this school year and really likes it.  Since day one, he had been looking forward to one particular activity starting and constantly bugs me with, “When is it starting? When is it starting?!  WHEN IS IT STARTING?!?!”  After last month’s 4-H meeting, I entered the first meeting of this activity he has been awaiting into our calendar.  B was so excited, counting down the days and then the hours until this activity.  He could barely contain his excitement this past Saturday as we drove over to the host’s house.  When we arrived, I got a sinking feeling because there were no other cars.  Where are all the other attendees?  As we walked up to the front door, I repeated in my head, “Please don’t tell me I messed up AGAIN!”  But when the family came to the front door with confused looks at seeing us there, it was confirmed.  B handled the disappointment well on the outside.  I think he was trying to make me feel better because I was so embarrassed!

    I hate that this shit is starting again!  But now that I am aware of it, I just need to be more careful and very deliberate.  I need to confirm things with people and not assume that I have my info straight in my head or even on my calendar!

Spring Forward, Fall Back? What’s That?

As parents, our homes are usually disrupted twice a year when the clocks change, and battles ensue.  But no longer in this house!  I decided last Fall that I was not going to do it anymore and I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner.  We change our clocks, yes, but not B’s natural sleeping schedule.  We have the luxury of doing this because he doesn’t have to be up at any particular time.

We like him in bed around 9pm, although he may go early if he’s sick or tired or go later if we’re out or doing something special.  So, when the clocks sprung forward in the Spring, we didn’t force him to go to bed when the clock said 9pm, because it was only 8pm according to his body.  He went to his room at 10pm and, although he awoke later according to the clock, he got the same hours of sleep.  His own body adjusted over time, and with the changing daylight, and we did not fight that.  After a while, he was going to his room between 9 – 9:30pm.

This past weekend, when the clocks fell back, I did not keep him out of his room an extra hour; he went into his room at 8pm.  All of us went to bed earlier (according to the clocks, but right on time for our bodies) and woke up earlier, but we all got the same amount of sleep.  And we’re happy.  😀

Once again, WHY did I torture all of us for so many years?!  *shaking my head*

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