Faithful Friendship

Good friends; good times. Do we take them for granted or do we recognize the precious gift from God that they are? Yesterday I spent time with dear friends our family has known for almost 25 years and was immeasurably blessed! We currently live an hour apart and between our families’ schedules, health, and life in general I had not been able to be with them in their home for two years. They had moved last year and it was a treat to see their new home and how perfect it is for them! As usual, I was bathed in their solicitude for my well-being while there for their 21 year old son’s birthday party and was awed, as always, at their incredible gift for hospitality. I felt just at home in their new digs as I always have in their previous homes and the only good thing about having to leave was looking forward to our next time together! If you have received the gift of awesomely good friends please don’t take them for granted. I hope I don’t. Time goes by more quickly now that we’re middle-aged and yet some of our memories of good times together seem like just yesterday. I pray there will be many more memories to be made together, precious and sweet as all the others. They truly exemplify that “a friend loves at all times” (Prov 17:17). May I strive to be a better friend to them and with all the other dear friends I’ve been given.

New Every Morning

Yesterday was a stinker. Pain wracked my body and kept me from being able to enjoy the day, much less be very productive. Last night wasn’t much better and I found myself getting up in the night to take my strongest pain pill to help me try and get some sleep since the pain was doing such a great job at creating insomnia. I don’t like writing about the times when things aren’t going well because I don’t know how it could possibly be encouraging–not to mention I don’t have the mental energy for blogging when I’m in a lot of pain.

Still, I got up at my regular time this morning and ended up poking my head out the front door to see if the FedEx delivery I was expecting yesterday had arrived last night and the guys just missed it during the football game. Instead of a dreary cold morning I was met with a glorious blaze of colors and crispness in the air that boosted my spirits enormously. My day may have not started off the greatest but here was a very clear and present reminder that God was in it and His mercies are new every morning. So this morning I’m grateful not only for my new, more powerful medication to help me cope with the pain but also for the simple reminders that each day is unique, and God’s grace is uniquely suited to each day’s needs. I may not feel great and have low expectations of what can be accomplished today but as my friend James says, “God is always good, and we are in His hands”–and for right now that is enough.  As Elisabeth Elliot would instruct me, I’ll just work on “doing the next thing” and do my best to observe “the sacrament of the present moment” (Jean-Pierre de Caussade) that gives meaning to all I do–or don’t do–today.

I hope your day is not stinky and that you are having a wonderful first day of December! But if you’re not, remember, you’re not alone. Many of us are suffering in one way or another and we will get through this day, one thing at a time, and ultimately “all shall be well” (St. Julian of Norwich).

Monday Musings

This a.m. I took the offspring into town for some doctoring as he was too sick to attend school. On the way there, as we were pressed for time, I stopped by a major fast food chain to get something completely non-nutritious but yummy for me as I was feeling peckish after only a few slurps of coffee and a tiny bowl of granola with which I’d taken my meds. After arriving and checking in at the doctor’s office—a first come, first served establishment with multiple patients ahead of us—I began to unpack the bag and handed over the two hash brown orders to my teen, who promptly wolfed them down (even a fever and extreme fatigue hadn’t dampened his appetite for a treat!). Looking forward to my sausage gravy w/biscuit I pulled out my order, napkins, and nothing else. That’s right. No utensils. Now I don’t know about where you come from, but both my mom and my grandmothers taught me to eat biscuits and gravy with a fork (and knife, if desired), and I’ve even been known to use a spoon in a pinch, but I definitely was not going to play a game of fondue with my food in the doctor’s waiting room! I’m already known for having a “drinking problem” (spilling drinks on myself, surfaces, others, etc).

So I called the fast food place and they apologized profusely and said they’d replace the entire order. I said all I really needed was utensils, especially since my son had already consumed the hash browns, but they insisted, saying they wanted me to have a fresh, hot order when I picked up the utensils. After a short while of my stomach grumbling and feeling grumpy from low blood sugar, I checked with the receptionist about the wait and explained my caffeine dilemma to her and she said it was perfectly fine to leave a teen in the waiting room while I basically went a tenth or two of a mile back to the food establishment. I said I’d like to add a coffee to my order this time, especially in gratitude for their generosity (but hey—let’s be honest: I needed my full fix!), but they wouldn’t even let me pay for that. Since their coffee is basically unpalatable, I was grateful they let me specify the number of half and half containers I wanted (six).

I returned back to the clinic and ate some of my breakfast and drank some coffee and suddenly I was able to see how nicely how things had turned to be. My son had the extra hash browns (again, a rare treat for him) later in the day and I had a nice breakfast treat for myself to look forward to tomorrow—complete with my own utensils! 🙂

Of course once I got home I dropped my remaining coffee and spent five minutes proving the quicker picker upper is not necessarily quick, followed by the discovery that the pharmacy had filled a 21 count tablet Rx with 12: oopsie! They, too, were very gracious, so I finished my breakfast with the leftover coffee in the carafe here (vastly better tasting) and a glass of milk for lunch. After making sure my son had everything he need I told him I was going to take a short nap—probably 20 minutes or so—since I’d gone to bed late and gotten up early. The next thing I know it my phone is buzzing on mute with the calling tone so I check and it’s my husband so I answer. I couldn’t believe it was two whole hours later, but some days lots of little stress after a long previous (which was very lovely but we were out later than intended) really wears me out. So I booted up my brain with a snack and the DVR’d episode of “Call the Midwife,”which was mostly depressing this time, so I followed it with “Mr. Selfridge,” which likewise barely redeemed the time spent watching it. Sigh. But then I was able to eat some more, get out—for some reason I was still extremely fatigued from the morning’s outing—and pick up the rest of my son’s Rx. There was no waiting in the normally gruesomely long line at that discount store where so many of us find ourselves obliged to do a lot of business, although I do really value their pharmacy staff as they’ve been so good to me over the years. I just went straight to the consult window and got profuse apologies although it seemed perfectly understandable to me: 12 vs 21; after all, it is Monday.

I got in and out of the store and parking lot in record time and was finally able to see how much there was to be grateful for in all of today’s blunders, oversights, unintended events (mega napping), etc. My body just can’t do things like it used to, nor can my brain. I’m grateful that I’m learning to accept my limits and lose some of the shame of asking my husband to get us a pizza and more string cheese on the way home as today I couldn’t handle the overload of the noise of the grocery side of the store when I was in there.

And I’m so appreciative of small town employees who are genuinely sorry for life’s goof-ups and frequently go above and beyond to make up for their mistake. It’s one of the many treasures of rural living’s slower, more personalized pace.

Well, that’s all for now…time to wind down so I can call it an evening and hopefully not need another long nap tomorrow—most days I don’t need a nap at all, but I suspect some planned resting before I wear out—like I used to do when my fibromyalgia was worse—is not a bad idea.

Here’s to learning and accepting one’s limits and learning to live within them with gratitude for what we can still do!

A Simple Life

My Faith in Rural Living is Restored

Every year our little town, population of 700 and something, puts up its ancient but nonetheless comforting Merry Christmas lights in front of our tiny downtown’s train tracks. Of course they go up right after Thanksgiving–which is way too early for my celebrating Advent before Christmas preference–so I just try to remember to rejoice that we actually live somewhere that keeps Christ in Christmas! In previous years I always remembered the various aging Christmas decorations around town going up at the same time, so it was much to my dismay that there was no life size Nativity scene next to our town’s quaint gazebo, which, unlike everything else around town, is of quite recent vintage. I felt really let down and considered talking to our mayor, a neighbor, about its absence.

But then, voila! As I drove home in the dark last night my eyes were drawn to it in all its lit up glory and there was great rejoicing; I actually burst out into Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” (This no doubt would have mortified or at the very least annoyed The Teen but probably amused The Husband, who has withstood my quirks for almost a quarter of a century.) Ahh, the balance of celebrating Advent in a society that begins the Christmas frenzy earlier every year was restored with this simple return of the most special family to ever live, the Holy Family.

As Bilbo says in the movie version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring,

“It is no small thing to live a simple life.”

Join Me in Glad Adoration

Thanks to the encouragement of readers of this blog—and you know who you are!—I am rebooting my writing here as of this present moment. It has not been for lack of desire or material that the page has lain fallow. I am grateful anyone would even come back to check and see if there was any activity as sporadic as it’s been since the blog first appeared five years ago, especially during the past two and a half years, which have been especially turbulent for our family.

Today I received very good news. Among the myriad of health screenings in my life, today I had to return because of abnormal findings on the most recent one performed. Not very fun news, but I wasn’t particularly stressed after the initial shock as I then remembered I’d had a similar issue several years ago that turned out fine.

But then yesterday I started to freak out. This morning I was a wreck because I hadn’t slept well for multiple nights—hubby just returned to work this week after a lengthy medical sabbatical—and so my body clock was out of whack, among other issues. I barely got ready in time—my ride arrived on time and I still hadn’t put on my makeup or done a thing to my hair but she told me that latter looked fine (thanks to yesterday’s haircut and getting it styled so nicely—thank you, Mom!) and so I did the five minute minimal “fake up” that allows me to fake like I have my act together and we were out the door, laden with our bag of snacks and beverages—a must have for a 90 minute drive and 2-3 hour appointment—and a couple of odds and ends to keep us busy while waiting.

We alternated catching up, as my chauffeur was my dear friend who lives a little over an hour away, God bless her, and me resting—since I easily get overstimulated when stressed, even with good stress, darn it! Then there was the waiting, the poking and prodding, and finally the visit with the doctor who gave us both the All Clear news which resulted in a big high five as soon as we got shepherded out of her office and resulted in each of us joyfully texting the glad news to our chain of prayer partners.

And so now, I am reminded of the hymn I walked up the aisle to, going on 25 years ago, to marry the love of my live. I think it very appropriate for giving thanksgiving here. I’ll share the first stanza here as it’s time for me to get ready for bed after a long, but good, day. Thank you, Lord!

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near;
Join me in glad adoration!

Can I get an amen?

Home Sweet Home

After a week’s absence from the hubby, the teen and I have returned to the family nest and it is a profoundly comforting sensation to be reunited with your beloved spouse and have everyone where they’re supposed to be…for now. With the graduation of the teen just two years away and every day being so precious to me because of that, I love being in my nest and getting to spend the extra time with him when I can, especially with school starting back tomorrow. He also now volunteers with the adorable felines at a wonderful place called The Haven of the Ozarks.

I don’t know who enjoys his time there the most: the furry, purry creatures or him! And next month he plans to take his driver’s license exam and so, D.V., will be able to be more independent and pursue whatever activities he previously was dependent upon us for, which some times meant, due to our life’s circumstances, he couldn’t do some of the things he wanted. So for me, our time spent on the road trip was a nice way to wrap up the summer with some extra time with my extra special teen.

And now that I’m back with my hubby, I breathe a sigh of deep relief knowing all is right with the world because I’ve not left my better half somewhere while I’m enjoying the wonderful making of memories with family and friends. When you live out of state and your health and other circumstances (or theirs) make travel infrequent–even impossible at times–it leaves an aching in your soul for closer proximity and/or fewer health issues that would make regular, ongoing memory making that one takes for granted when they’re younger (or at least I did) an ongoing thing one must accept as a limitation that can be offered up to God or something that causes ongoing frustration. But we all make our own choices based on a myriad of factors, ultimately guided by the hand of Le Bon Dieu (“the good God” per Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s novels), “who never has problems, only plans,” as Corrie ten Boom reminds us. I’m grateful for where I live at this point in my life. I also wish I could be closer or my family would move closer. We’re all where we’re supposed to be at this point for a reason. At any time that may change, as improbable as it may seem.

In the meantime, it’s good to be home.

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