Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Karen Touched Me Deeply

Karen's body was so broken physically by the disease she was born with that she laid in her wheelchair. The only movement she had control over was in her two weak, crooked hands. She was able to  feed herself if her family members placed a cupsized bowl in her hand with a child's spoon. Not only did she endure her lack of independence with grace and a smile but she chose not to complain while thanking everyone for meeting her every need.  Karen didn't even complain that along with all the other things she contended with her tongue twitched all the time. That just seemed like a cruel joke to me.

Karen was 16 when we were in a high school math class together. She became my friend and encouraged me to pursue my dreams of being a special ed teacher. Her brain worked brilliantly and her wit and compassion surprised me. During the next eighteen months before her disease took her home to be with Jesus, she impacted my life with her sense of humor and positive outlook on life. Karen convinced me to work at a camp she went to in the summer for teens with physical disabilities. What a powerful experience and eye opener to the challenges these brave young people had. The thing that was the most impacting is how we, as a society, dismiss physically handicapped people. Somehow we believe that if their body is broken so is there mind. So many are locked in these bodies that don't work but have minds that are sharp and ignored.

Karen went to homecoming with Ron and me our senior year.That night before the dance she and I got ready together laughing as I did our make up and fancied up our hair.  She looked beautiful and so happy as we twirled her wheelchair around the dance floor. It was one of the best nights of my life. I had no idea that in a few short weeks she would be gone. She told me that when I got to heaven it would be hard to recognize her. Her body would be restored and she would run up to me and throw her arms around me. I can't wait!

Karen still reminds me of all that I don't see. That I get busy in my own life and ignore those around me who somehow become invisible. There is a certain scent that I get a gentle whiff of now and then that reminds me of Karen. I have never been able to pinpoint what the smell is. That is really not the point. I don't know if it is Karen touching base or just something in the air but it always brings me back to her smile. Life is hard, harder for some than for others. How we embrace our path is what makes us bitter or inspiring. Karen still inspires me over forty years since she got her new and improved body and left this broken one behind. What a gift she has been in my life.

In Him,
Joyful
1-10-16

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

To Do List Addition~Find My Phone

Tis the season to multitask. We all have a multitude of things on our 'to do' list. Our minds are chewing on several while we are getting on with one to check off our list. Last week I went to the post office to mail that last present that didn't make it in the box with all the others. It was a time saver to get there ahead of the crowd. So I brilliantly parked right out front, waited for the 8 o'clock open and ran inside to get an envelope to stuff Cameron's gift in. Now I know his address, well all except the zip code. But it is on my faithful iPhone. Oops! I didn't bring my phone in~~~or did I?

When I got back to the car my phone was nowhere to be found. Ugh! I went back inside, talked to my friend at the PO, seacched all through my car (even the trunk). Where the heck did I lose it in the last 10 minutes? Now my mind was raising with how to get along without my phone, how to find my phone, am I losing my mind, and why don't I even know one of my kids phone numbers?

It was a long day. Work, Christmas to do list, and I didn't have time to think about where my phone was. I have a work phone so I called Ron and Jenn and got a few numbers, went to the Verizon store only to discover that you have to turn on the Find My Phone app for it to work.

After a stressful day Ron and I went to my work Christmas dinner. On the way I told him about my phone. "You mailed it to Cameron." Why didn't I think of that? It makes sense. I hope it is what happened. Now I have to wait patiently for my package to make its way to Washington and see if this phone mystery is solved or if I am getting a new phone for Christmas. To be continued.........

Hope you all can get through the next few days leading up to Christ's birthday party without too many unexpected surprises. We all have enough to do without extra drama. Guess the lesson is to slow down and focus on each task as we are checking it off our incredibly long to do lists.

In Him,
Joyful
12-20-16

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Back To Being Me

I have to admit something here. In the past month or more I have been retreating. No blogging, calling out to friends, or even doing my daily routines. It is like I don't have the energy or umph to get through the day. The little pep talks that I give myself usually work to snap me out of it. Count my blessings not my heartbreaks. But I have just been in a mode of 'no'. Yes is the word I want to say whenever there is a chance to get out and about. It is not like I have fallen off the face of the earth. I do enough to keep up appearances. My work with little people has been my saving grace. It gets me out and with people.

This is not new for me. Losing Ryan was the hardest thing in my life. Trying to move back into a social life after my son died was painful. I just wanted to curl up alone under the covers. Eventually, I began to be around friends and even find a way to enjoy the times together. Lately, I have fears of losing another child. No one can comfort me with their 'it will be okay'. I know all too well that it is not always going to be okay. People make bad choices. Accidents happen. Hearts break.

Sometimes I try to list all the ways others have it worse than me. Think of those who struggle with much worse circumstances than I live with. It helps me to put my pity party away for a bit. But I don't want to isolate. Connections and engaging with others is what makes life rich and fulfilling. Recently, I talked to my doctor about this and I hope he has some fixes for me. I know I have to do something to get the old me back.

This week seemed to be the last straw. My eye doctor confirmed I have the beginning stages of macular degeneration in my left eye. It doesn't mean I will ever go blind but the thought of blindness kicked the wind out of me. I had to allow myself to grieve the possibility. This morning I decided need to look at all the ways I can be proactive to fight even the possibility of this progressing. I feel empowered.

Today it occurs to me that I am not feeding myself with the positives that I know empower me. So I am sharing my heart with you and will start my morning Bible studies again. Baby steps to positive thinking and back to being myself.

In Him,
Joyful
12-6-16

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016

It is that time of year when we each share our hearts and our lives with those we love through our Christmas cards and letters. With technology, most of us stay connected throughout the year liking each other's posts and praying when a need arises. I am more than grateful for the connections that online has given us. But I still am thrilled to receive beautiful cards with a recap of the lives of those loved ones in my life. So from Ron and I to you and yours~Merry Christmas and a glorious 2017.

This has been a busy year for Ron and I. I left teaching at the middle school a week before we left for Peru on a mission trip. We were so blessed that our Natalie and Ron's sister, Debbie were able to come along. Her pink hair was a big hit with the locals. This trip opened our eyes to the need for sanitation in the poorest of places. At home we condemn people who litter but littering is the only option when their are no garbage cans and no one to pick up the garbage. There are so many little things we take for granted. We were able to go to Machu Picchu for a couple of days at the end of the trip. What an incredible place!

Our summer was filled with a road trip to see all the kids along the Pacific Coast Highway. We picked up Elissa and started in San Diego visiting Natalie, spent time around the pool with Tanner and Bethany in Los Angeles and ended up just south of Seattle with Cameron and Brittney and their three cuties Makcnzie, Makayla, and Timmy. The highlight of the trip had to be going to the animal park in Washington. We had zebras, yaks, buffalo, deer and even elk eating bread out of our hands. The idea was for us to hand it out the car windows but believe me they stuck their heads inside the car to snatch their treats. I don't think we have ever laughed and screamed more in our lives. Brittney was extremely patient with me as I dropped bread on her seat when I got a bit scared of the massive tongue coming at me. Of course, this meant that buffalo used his tongue to grab the bread off her car seat. Oops!

This fall we checked a couple off our bucket list. We spent a week on a houseboat on Lake Powell and Ron and his brother Paul delivered a 44 foot sailboat from Rhode Island to the Bahamas. The houseboat was the perfect mixture of relaxing, swimming and exploring on jet skis. The guys adventure on the Atlantic was more of a survival trip. From the videos and stories it is clear they learned a lot and had an incredible time.

Ron continues to work part time in retirement at the lab and I started a new journey this fall. I am loving working with the FIT program. Families, Infants and Toddlers. This is a federally funded support program that works with wee ones with developmental, environmental or at risk concerns. My role is to go into homes and encourage and support families as they encourage and support their children. It still feels like I am skipping school as I drive into remote communities singing along to the radio. They are paying me to play with adorable kiddos. I have found the right FIT in this FIT program.

Our prayers are that each of you has a peaceful 2017 and that each of us keeps building connections with those that mean the most to us. Life can be so busy but our family and friends are what truly matter. Guess I had a moment. Ron and I both reached our 60th birthday this year and next June will celebrate our 40th anniversary. More and more we are recognizing how working to stay connected to each of you is our most important gift.

In Him,
Joyful

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dr. Jim, Yes I Am 3 Days Older!

You know you have the right doctor when you have to get out the Kleenex box at least once during your physical. No, he wasn't scolding me for my pudge. After 20 years of being his patient, teaching with his wife, and raising our kids in the same community, we have shared each other's lives. Our boys wrestled together. Dr. Jim came up to check on Tanner when he fell 80 feet off the cliff just to check for himself that Ron and I were okay too. When we lost our son, Ryan, to suicide Jim called us and told us to send someone to pick up a RX for anxiety. He just knew what we needed. When Ron had an appointment that was right after I got misdiagnosed with macular degeneration Jim assured him I was way too young and diagnosed it as droozen. He was right even though I wasn't even in his office.

The first time I went to see him was just over 20 years ago. I know this for a fact because the first thing he ever said to me was, "You will be 40 three days before me." Well we both turned 60 this year. Our kids are all grown and starting families of their own. Along with going over health concerns we share how our families are doing. There have been tears in most of my physicals over the loss of my son or the concern for my family. Jim listens and hands me the Kleenex. After years of avoiding it I was ready this year to try something for depression. Life is hard. I find myself more and more avoiding social situations. There is a trust that has built over two decades and he assures me I can get back to who I was. He called it getting back to my base. This first step was hard for me and it won't be the last. We will get together more often now to make sure dosage and drugs are the right fit. One thing I know is this man I trust. Not just as my doctor but as a caring friend. I came out of his office after an hour or more had passed with a new hope that I can go back to a better place. There's hope too that he will find the answer to my old, creaky knee. Glad Ron and I are growing old with Dr. Jim leading the way. Okay, I know. I am leading~by 3 days. Geesh!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

For These And So Much More~I Am Grateful

I have not posted thankful days. But I am thankful Ronnie B. is enjoying an adventure of a lifetime. I am enjoying Marco Polo with Cam and Britt and their kiddos. Natalie is moving forward in life and chasing her purpose and dreams. I connected with Tanner in a wonderful, lengthy conversation last night. Bethany loves my son. Dorothy celebrated her 30th birthday with her incredible family. God has given me a family through my years at Los Alamos schools and Young Life. My new path with Las Cumbres touching the lives of families with wee ones. Work families that support and nurture each other. The love and support of my mom and sister. Phone calls over coffee early in the morning. The generous hearts of each of you who share hearts in every form and your hearts with me.
Faith that I never have to face the heartaches or gifts of life alone. Friends that are my family and have just come into my life and those of you who have shared my path for a lifetime. Kylie dog who stays beside me while I blog and share my stories. Los Alamos for being my home and my family. Living on a park where happy noises of children, teens and families waft into my home and fill it with life and joy. Jesus who is always just a whisper away. Ronnie B. my best friend and hubby. Water to swim in, to float in, to pour into my soul. Lissa for her adventurous spirit and heart. Kenzie for her drive and empathy. Kayla for her dancing, style and kindness. Timmy for his adorable smile and Lego passion.  Amalia for her toothless grin and joy. For God allowing me to be a mom and Noni in a life where adoption was the fulfillment of my heart. For birth moms who generously shared their most precious gifts with me. I am so thankful for my relationships and connection with my nieces and nephews. You all make my smile. I am so thankful for my relationships and connection with my nieces and nephews. You all make me smile.I am grateful.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Sunshine and Cloudy Days

Oh what a day, oh what a day.
My baby brother ran away.
And now my tuba will not play.
I'm eight years old and turning grey. 
Oh what a day, oh what a day.
Shel Silverstein

We all have days like that. Days where just about everything seems to go wrong. Our thought is that it would have been so much better if we would have just stayed in bed. But facing life with all the bumps in the road is what keeps our journey moving forward. There is also the idea that we can look at the bright side, silver lining of even the toughest days. Hmmmm.

The thing that gets us through those dark, cloudy days is the hope for the sunshine and everything is going right times in our lives. Letting the warmth spill onto our faces as we stand in the light head held high. It can't be all sunshine and rainbows. Life has seasons, disappointments, wrong turns. But how we react to and move past the gloom gets us through. 

Last week was dark and disappointing for me. This weekend was filled with hope and light. Will everything work out as I hope? Perhaps. Or perhaps life will take a different path that is so much better than I imagined. There is also the real possibility that disappointment will come. Whatever the outcomes, heartbreaks, fears in life, it is best to remember that it is not all about us. It is not all dependent on us and our choices. Somethings are in our control and others simply unfold. 

I am determined to enjoy the sun and grab a warm blanket, cup of hot coffee and get through the storms. 

In Him,
Joyful
11-7-16