Thursday, September 30, 2010

Make a Joyful Noise

About the age of ten I could sing harmony, mostly alto sometimes tenor. I took piano lessons so I could read music but I didn't have to read the notes, I heard parts in my head. I loved to sing! One of my favorite things at the summer camp I attended from age ten through seventeen was the daily event of hymn time. I always wanted to sit near the front, even when I was in my teens and had a camp boyfriend who was way too cool to sit near the front of hymn time! My dad always picked me up from camp and my sisters and I would sing every new song we had learned during the camp session on the drive home. Dad could whistle like a bird sings and it was a good thing because he could not remember lyrics! He was always impressed that we remembered the words! I loved the " Sound of Music " and my piano teacher ordered me a book with all the songs from the movie. With that I could accompany myself singing and did I ever love that! Sometimes I was goofy enough to sing in my room with the door closed using a hairbrush as a microphone! I took chorus in high school but even with this passion for singing I didn't really consider myself a singer. I was the cheerleader/athlete type which shaped the identity of myself more than music. That identity kept me from participating in one of the choruses in college which I regret to this day. But during that phase of life I started dating this guy whose single most important love was music. On one of our early dates we were in the park and he brought his guitar along. He wanted to hear me sing and I asked if singing was like a prerequisite or something? I finally gave in but said he couldn't look at me while I sang! That afternoon opened up a part of me that led to some of the best and most rewarding moments in my life! Singing did become part of my adult identity, ministry, and fulfilled the passion I had felt all my life! I sang with Jeff and friends, I sang to our babies, I sang backup in a recording studio, I sang as part of a western chuck wagon dinner/stage show we were part of starting, and I eventually sang with a contemporary Christian group which committed to weekly rehearsals, recorded several albums ( yes albums, then cassettes, and eventually CD's, and I know many of you reading this remembers that order! ) and traveled frequently on weekends to sing in multiple settings. In my pharmaceutical tenure we sang Christmas carols in three part harmony to doctors, staff, and patients in the waiting room
which was as fun as being Santa Claus! I have spent countless hours rehearsing before any presentation was made. In December 2009,
while singing on the worship team one Sunday morning, I noticed my voice seemed different. This was in the beginning of experiencing an occasional speech mishap and while driving home that day I realized my speech/singing ability was in jeopardy and I began weeping. What had been as natural as breathing to me is now gone. That is like telling a bird not to sing, a dog not to bark, a rooster not to crow! Take away those traits from each creature and what is left? Psalm 96:1 says " sing to the Lord a new song " and in one way that is definitely what I do now. Really, it isn't so pleasant to hear what comes out of my mouth these days! But in Psalm 95, 98, and 100 of the English Standard Version Translation the phrase, " make a joyful noise " appears which is great comfort for me because " noise " is exactly what comes out of my mouth! Occasionally because singing takes place in your head as well as your vocal chords I can think myself to hit a certain note but other than that it is noise! I have found that my noise will eventually hit/blend with the melody/harmony for a note or two and I have to admit it makes me giggle inside! Never before has the scripture in Ephesians 5:19 that says " sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord " been such a comfort to me! I mean what if my ability to sing was the only way to worship God? The goal of singing is not to be heard or to sound pleasing to others but to praise the creator of our voices! I am so thankful that worship takes place in my heart and mind, not totally through my ability to sing. Because of this my worship has not changed at all! Consider how we greet someone we love. We get excited, embrace them, and exclaim words of joy because of our feelings for this person. Our approach to our Lord and Savior should be the same! I hope this encourages anyone that holds back because of their lack of singing ability! Verse 20 of the same chapter says to " always give thanks to God the Father for everything.". I am still working on that part but when I consider these words from this song I am inspired to try! " Our God saves, there is hope in Your name, mourning turns to songs of praise, our God saves!"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sugar and Spice and All Things Nice...

She was sitting on the porch waiting for us to arrive and as soon as she saw us she ran into the house to tell her mom. As we walked toward the house I saw traces of chalk on the sidewalk, just one of the signs indicating a child lives here! One would have thought we were someone special by the excitement on her face and the wiggling taking place! It was the first time we had visited her new house and she could barely contain herself! She was dressed in a new, long sleeved pink shirt with a caricature of a little girl applicayed on the front. From my experience I could spot a new, long sleeved shirt that had been purchased in the summer just waiting for the first cool morning so it could be worn! She had a pink with white polka dots bow in her hair and it was a bit lower on her head than it had started out to be in the morning I am certain. There were a few loose curls framing her sweet face, an indication of a day full of play activities and maybe even a few minutes "rest" on her pallet at preschool. After a tour of the house we decided to eat on the deck since the weather finally had cooled down bringing us a hint that fall was finally here! She wanted to help expedite the whole meal process of course and asked for our preference of drinks. She actually made it from the kitchen to the table outside placing each filled glass correctly and without spilling a drop. How that happened is short of a miracle! During dinner conversation she interacted like she was one of us, the four adults exchanging news from the day and even showed us a few tricks she knew about her mom's iPhone! She recalled names and places like she had lived here forever instead of the short two and a half month tenure. After dessert we went back inside and I requested that she share with me one of her favorite books. As we sat on the sofa side by side with my arm around her so as to scoop her as close to me as I could get her, in an instant that posture with her made my mind race with memories of the countless times, minutes, books I had shared with my own girls dressed in a pink long-sleeved shirt and a pink with white polka dots bow in their hair. It felt so natural to me and I knew just how to giggle at the right places in the story even though I was reminiscing as I listened. ( God made moms able to do that, you know! ). I can't begin to count the number of pink, girly items I have purchased or made during that time in my mom life! The hair bows to match a specific outfit or season of the year alone was monumental! From hair bows to smocked dresses, ballet shoes, tights and tutus, to back packs and lunch boxes our house was filled with pink indicators that girls were on the premices! I loved every minute of coordinating outfits with shoes and bows so that my girls looked like a doll come to life! I didn't spend a lot money for them to have the look but rather accepted the challenge of accomplishing that by shopping for sales, garage sales, passing around items with friends and family, and working at a local specialty fabric store as my mother's day out two days a week for fabric instead of money. Our house reeked of pink with three daughters to dress! I'm not sure who had more fun, the girls or me! I do know that I cherish the memories of all the challenges that accompanied that stage of my life. It doesn't require much for me to be back there in my mind. Just the appearance of a little girl sporting a little pink and I'm there!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

How Do Those Words Taste?

Do you remember a time in your teen or young adult years when you declared to yourself you would NEVER do something the way your mom and dad did? If you just thought "no" then I feel pretty sure you aren't being honest! I definitely remember thinking that on more than one subject and about to admit three! I don't remember exactly what age I was when I noticed my mom's bra had three or four hooks as compared to mine that had two. When I asked why mom said because it was more supportive than a bra with just two. All I could think was I would never wear one like that because I didn't like the way it looked! I don't remember exactly when but I think it was sometime after baby number three that I stood in front of the dressing room mirror at JC Penny's in University Mall ( which is no longer there but has become a new Super Target ) when I actually allowed myself to try on this bra style the sales clerk brought me that had three or four hooks in the back! Really? Did she not see how young I was? What would make her think I needed a bra like that anyway? But being the polite person that I am I decided to try it on since she was being so helpful and by then had probably brought me twenty different bras to try on! ( picture how many of those little hangers are lying everywhere! ). Then it happened! I stood quietly for a moment, moved my arms a bit to see how this harness felt, and said, " I have become my mother! " It wasn't that I didn't like my mother, I just didn't think I would ever wear a bra like she wore! One of those rare nights that Jeff and I actually had a date night with no kids, we were at the movie and I was miserable because I thought the theater was freezing! Then it spurred my memory to a few other times I was cold in a restaurant or in the church building. I remembered my mom always wanted to have a " light jacket " just in case she got a little cool!". I began either wanting to wear a top with a long sleeve, three quarter length sleeve, or have a "denim jacket " with me. That was different than wearing a "'light jacket," right? Wrong!
Now for the third confession. When I was a child my dad's car dealership was right across the street from the hair salon my mom went to every Friday. You have to understand, when I say every Friday I mean every Friday no matter what! I remember so well that salon with seated hair dryers lined up all along the wall and the smell of perm solution in the air! I loved to go with mom and hang out between dad's dealership and Miss Kathleen's salon! When I became an adult I thought how did mom get her hair done every week when I washed and dried my hair every day? I knew my mom didn't run every day like I did so she didn't really get hot and sweaty. In fact my mom made it a point not to ever get hot! Air conditioning was used at our house any day of the year the Texas temperature was above eighty degrees outsde! Lately I have a difficult time blow drying and styling my hair. I am not into fake nails that require biweekly attention or regular facials or message therapy but I have always liked to have a good haircut, style, and mascara! So I am miserable trying to do my hair to my standard, it's not just happening! So I did something I never thought I would do. I made an appointment to get my hair washed, dried, and styled yesterday! It was a Friday and I found myself in the hair salon. Once again, I have become my mother! Because my parents were smart I know there are more than these three things I mimic but these are the ones I remember that make me laugh! What about you?

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Thing About Pride

Proverbs 16:18, Pride goes before distruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. This post is an exercise in admitting a prideful spirit. Actually I should be even more honest than that and claim that I have a strong dose of pride. So I am confessing. I don't have the kind of pride like Naaman, an Aramean general with leprosy who declared, "I thought he (Eliisha, a prophet) would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy.". No, I don't have that type of arrogant pride at all. Mine more mimics Hezekiah who had a prideful heart and did not respond to the kindness shown him. So I feel compelled to lay it all out on the table and be done with it! This whole ALS thing is totally cramping my style. Not only has it taken away one of my true joys in life, the ability to speak at a race car pace, but it has placed me in a position physically of not being able to do anything I want. I am amazed at how quickly it has sapped me of strength and coordination. Needless to say that means I need help often. ( it pains me so to admit that I am having to force my fingers onto the keys! ). On Monday I had my first appointment at the ALS Center at UAMS and the occupational therapist informed me that I needed to use a walker most all of the time. And he had the audacity to say it in front of Jeff and Rebekah! Of course they were snickering in the background which made this piece of instruction worse! I had already allowed them to bring in our house the kind that has two wheels on the front and most of the time they have two tennis balls on the back. I said no way to the tennis balls even if it meant my wood floors might get scratched. The only tennis balls I wanted were some to cram down their throats ! ( Not really, but the thought came to mind and I thought it was funny!) When the doctor echoed the need for a four wheeled walker with a basket and a seat I thought I would just fall apart! Then we had to talk about the color! For the first time I thought I might want something camouflaged, as if people can't tell something is wrong just by my not so smooth walk! It gets worse. After having birthday lunch on Wednesday with two of my daughters, four nieces, one sister-in-law, one great niece, and my two grandsons I crossed paths with a real grandmother using her walker with tennis balls on the back! The only difference except that my walker didn't have tennis balls on the back was that she was probably in her eighties, had completely gray hair, and was totally wearing a grandma outfit! But now the new, blue walker with four wheels, a seat, and a basket has been delivered to my house. Last week my children, sons-in-law, and one of my nieces met to come up with a plan that would provide some assistance with meals, laundry, and someone to be with me part of the day so Jeff won't worry as much while he is working. Can you believe they didn't invite me to that meeting? I begged to wait awhile longer before we started accepting help but I lost that battle. ( it is really difficult to argue your point when you cant be understood much and can't type as fast as you think! ) I'm sure you can see where this is going with the whole pride thing. The truth is we do need some help occasionally since I cannot begin to operate at normal Nancy capacity. Those cleaning/ cooking fairies haven't found our house yet! And since I have fallen several times I do need to use a walker to do all I can to prevent any possible injury. It's just not an easy thing admitting and giving in to the fact that for the first time I need this kind of help for this type of reason. Except when I had my babies and my mom and dad would come for several days to help and friends would bring food, I have always been on the giving side not the receiving one. I like being able to help others so why is it so hard to admit/accept that I am in a position of needing help? Proverbs 27:1 says, Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Nothing could be more true in my life! Last September I was living life never considering that by my next birthday my body could experience such an about face. Never a thought of not being included on the fall schedule for worship team, resigning from work, having to consider how I use my energy for the day, and for sure not needing to consider help from family and friends! Now for a really hard confession. This morning I used my new blue walker with four wheels, a basket and a seat to take my coffee cup back to the kitchen, take birthday cards/presents to my bedroom from being displayed on the kitchen bar, and piled a load of towels on the walker and took to them to the laundry room and started the washing machine. I would not have been able to do that as easily or effienctly without the walker. Ouch, that hurts! I am more thankful and grateful than I have words to express for family and friends willing to do whatever we need to survive this life change. Even if it means going to the degree of admitting a prideful spirit!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More Manners, Please!

I grew up in a family of six, two parents and four children. Our household operated like most with lots of laundry, chores, laughing, fussing, crying, disagreements, disappointments, school activities, piano lessons, sports, jobs...the works! Every family has their own set of how to do certain things and ours was no different. And like most parents, mine set out to have a home that operated smoothly and somehow landed in the middle of their goals. I think that is called life! But there was one area where the middle just wouldn't do and that was with regard to our manners! We were taught to say "yes ma'am, yes sir, no ma'am, no sir, please and thank you." We were expected to use those phrases on a regular basis. When I went to college I had friends from different parts of the country that did not understand why I used those terms to college professors or any other adults. Are you kidding me? Why not use those phrases, I always thought! That is just what we do! While I thought I was showing respect, their thoughts were the opposite. They would say it was being sassy. It didn't stop my use of the terms that were so ingrained in me, I still use manners every day. Actually I say please and thank you 100 times a day since I have to ask for help doing certain tasks! In fact I think I say those words more than any other in my vocabulary! Jeff and I taught and required our children to use polite ways to address us and other adults. I won't mislead you into thinking it is any easy lesson, although you would think it might be. It should be easy to teach them to put their clothes away without being told, or not wait until the last minute to start a project or paper for school, or never ask if you can have a friend spend the night in front of the friend in case you want to say no! The list could go on, right? I have experienced endless conversations with my kids that ended in, "ma'am ?" or " excuse me what should you say?". Multiply endless by four kids and that equals countless! But somehow I determined it important enough to stick to it and see it through! Eventually you will begin to see results that are worth the investment of time and energy. There's just something about a twelve year old that has disobeyed and is smart enough to remember to say "yes ma'am" or "no sir" in the heat of battle that makes you think maybe they are really good at heart and you won't kill them this time! Seriously! I can remember our children beginning to say " thanks, mom for dinner" or "thanks dad for taking us to the movie." Oh the feeling that accompanies the right response! Success! You are getting somewhere with your kids and both parties know it. They won't always like it, but they know what to do, how to behave and respond and it is good! I have had the opportunity this summer to listen to Joseph on the phone with recruiters or possible employers and have been impressed with the way he communicates respect! I guess i will never tire of the use of good manners! Will you please commit to staying the course of teaching a life lesson that will benefit you and your child? THANK YOU!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Not Always Positive...

The last full day of our trip to Estes Park was picture perfect! We left the lodge early, stopped to get Starbucks, and headed to Rocky Mountain National Park! ( even a morning meant for some back to nature time is better with a tall bold with steamed breve! ). The beautiful day had already drawn long lines of cars at the park entrance but with Winston's newly purchased Golden Park Pass we were able to get ahead of the crowd. Not too far into the park we saw several cars pulled over by the side of the road which meant one thing, wildlife spotted! We could easily see the huge elk not far from the road enjoying his morning feed and wasn't at all bothered by the tourists snapping photos and seeing just how close they could get to this monster buck! What a thrill! We continued to drive to all the places we specifically like to see each visit there and as always the sights were stunning. We stopped and got out of the car again to look closer at a waterfall that turned into a flowing stream over rocks and trees that had fallen. With Jeff and Winston on each side of me, we walked up to a fence to watch and listen to the sights and sounds of nature at its best! In an instant I was overwhelmed with the beauty of the moment, it took my breath away and I burst into tears. In this setting of God's creation I was taken back by the beauty of nature untouched by man, an area landscaped by God. Suddenly my thought process changed to the possibility that I might not see this place again, and worse than that I might not see it through the eyes of Hudson and Hamilton for their first visit here! I already felt robbed that during the summer I wasn't able to play with them in the water like I did with my kids when they were little, that our gardening together consisted of me watching them dig in the dirt as opposed to last summer when Hudson and I planted flowers together, that I have to watch stories on my ipad with them instead of read to them, and worst of all that I can no longer sing to them or with them! Why couldn't this have happened to another " Nan " that didn't really want to be so engaged with her children and grandchildren? I know they are out there, always meeting their grandchildren at Chucky Cheese so their house won't get messed up and they won't have to cook, or going to the movie so they can ease their conscience that are doing something with their grandchildren but don't really have to exert themselves much! The more I thought the louder I wailed and the
madder I became! Why wouldn't the God that created all this for me not want to rescue me from this nightmare that has taken over my
body? I have things I want to do and they don't include building a bigger house or driving a more expensive car or having Botox or a facelift!
( I will admit to coloring my hair! ). Those things have never controlled my life so why start now? One of my dear friends and I use to talk about how we and our husbands could be a four member team in missions after our children were grown. Last summer Jeff and I started "Nan and Papa J Camp" for our grandchildren. We had Hudson spend four days with us and our theme was how God made our food, since Hudson didn't embrace all types of scary veggies. We cooked together and cut out pictures of different foods to eat and learned Genesis 1:12, paraphrased for him to memorize. I envisioned grandchildren counting the days until it was time to fill our house for camp with a scrapbook full of pictures capturing each summer. I imagined a period of life past being a pharma rep just being available to whoever for whatever. And speaking of work, did I say I was finished because I was not ready. I always thought I would get to choose when it was time to step down. I could even handle not being able to speak or sing if I could just have the physical strength and coordination I had before.
Back in the car, I was exhausted from such a roller coaster ride emotionally. Taking in the fresh air as we drove, I pondered how I could
simultaneously experience such opposite emotions, how could my thoughts travel from one extreme to another in an instant and how could I deal with such disappointment if God chooses not to intervene in the way I want Him to? And this was one of those times when even I didn't
want to think of the typical answers we try to tell ourselves day at a time, the best way I can, praying continually, with the help of others, or staying in the Word. This was a time when I allowed myself to be angry, feel sorry for myself and my family/friends, and not try to
determine an answer. This time I allowed myself to feel the full weight of disappointment with no positive come backs. This time I faced the
possibility I have avoided giving in to. How could what started out to be such a great morning turn on me so fast? The answers I know I don't seem to like so much! Ok, enough complaining. Time to move forward with what I can do but reserving the right to revisit the not so positive side if it comes up again.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Right Message

Jeff and I attended our first Grandparent's event this morning at Hudson's pre-school! He was so precious wearing his 2nd Presbyterian Preschool T-shirt along with his blue eyes and and great smile! Hamilton wanted to be part of the excitement so he carried Hudson's lunchbox and knew just how to " sign in " for the day. Another piece of preciousness! This is the same preschool Anna Grace attended which started a whole line of Chandler kid attendees. ( 10 to be exact with more to come! ) After taking in all the sweetness we could stand, Rebekah, Hamilton, and I traveled to Harding University an hour away from LR to visit Anna Grace and take her to lunch. The return for making the trip was a guarantee that she would make us laugh and we were not disappointed! When we were coming back, I remembered something funny Anna Grace had said to her teacher, Ms. Libby, when she was an excited preschooler in the art center one day.
The class was coloring and Ms. Libby noticed Anna Grace's work to be more outside the lines of the object on the page than inside. She said, " Anna Grace, you can color inside the lines and then you will see the picture better." Anna Grace replied, " oh my mom loves scribble scrabble!" The truth is I don't like scribble scrabble! I mean you always act like your child has colored a work of art but never would I prefer scribble scrabble to coloring in the lines for a neatly colored picture! I would rewrite a paper before turning one in with a crossed out word when I was in school! ( Of course with every child I bore I released some of those high expectations in several areas of my life. I always thought that was why God blessed me with a big family! ). Sometimes we assume our children know or understand what we think about all kinds of topics. I mean they do live with us, hear our conversations, and should just by osmosis take on all the characteristics we deem worthy and important, right? Wrong! Just because they are part of us doesnt mean they will " get anything " without being told, coached, explained to, and told again! That is why they have us, their parents, to continually communicate to them without questions or reservations what we want them to know. In our family we believed in the theory that over communication was better than under communication, never hoping or assuming they know what our expectations are, but making certain they fully understand why we do or don't do whatever. Does this mean they will follow our every teaching 100%.? Not at all, our children do have their own mind and style and should be allowed to carry out those ways appropriately. This is not a petition for turning our children into mini me's, just an encouragement to be totally involved in communicating so there are less misunderstood assumptions.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Making Changes

Sunday was our last morning in CO and we enjoyed one more Starbucks with the view of mountains and blue skies from our room while taking in every moment of the cool breeze coming from Lake Estes. We spent some time looking at pictures of family/friends and the precious capture of the day our son, Joseph, proposed to our future daughter-in-law, Bethany! Technology allows for so much to be recorded and placed for all to see! After leaving the lodge where we were staying we made one last stop in town to purchase salt water taffy and caramel corn that taste better if you buy it Estes, of course. Then we had to make a decision about where to eat lunch and we agreed on a local place where you can sit outside or inside, have breakfast or lunch, but guaranteed not to be disappointed! In fact we liked eating there so much that we hit it 5 out 7 days! The staff practically snickered when they saw us! The name of the restaurant is Claire's and I highly recommend it if you make a trip to Estes Park! When it was time to leave I wanted to say something to the three waiters that had served us. That is a very natural thing I do frequently in many situations and is just part of my personality. It isn't something I plan, it's spontaneous.
They had done a great job and I like to compliment people whenever I can. Everyone likes a high five and I love to pass them out! To me, praising people for a job well done or acknowledging simple things such as a dress or shirt and tie that enhances someones's eyes, a sweet baby in the cart at Kroger, or a new haircut is one of the easiest opportunities we have to brighten someones's day. It's free, it only costs a few words and the acknowledgement that someone other than yourself is worthy of a compliment! I still naturally want to do that but it is harder based on the fact that my speech is getting more difficult to understand. I know I can type whatever I want to say but by then the moment has passed or it is too awkward to open up my iPad to the right place quickly. The only thing I do quickly is think! So far that hasn't changed! Being spontaneous isn't created, it just happens as a result of the situation you are in or because of the people you are with. I still participate freely, but have to be cautious when I laugh too hard because I sometimes can't get enough air. It is still so worth it! It is life's best medicine! I plan on continuing the behavior of giving compliments that I think important because it is part of who I am, but since I can't do it as well, some of you may need to pick up the slack!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Remember When...

Jeff and I are in Estes Park, Colorado this week. We flew to Denver on Monday, and drove up the curving road to a place we love to visit. We lived and worked here the first two summers after we were married. Jeff had already spent two summers here while in college playing guitar and singing baritone at the Lazy B Ranch, a chuck wagon dinner and western stage show ranch. His family visited Estes when he was a child and working there was something he always wanted to do. The first summer we both had three jobs. I had one more year of school and Jeff thought since we were married it was his responsibility to pay for my tuition. My dad fought him on it but lost! I waited tables at the Holiday Inn during the breakfast and lunch shift, and worked in a gift shop on the ranch in the evenings. Jeff worked at Ripley's Believe It of Not Museum along with his duties of serving brisket to the folks before the show began. We both sang for tips and a free meal at an outside cafe called The Mustard Seed downtown Estes in between our other daytime jobs! We were so rich!! We lived on our tis and saved the rest for tuition. We didn't work all the time. We played tennis, hiked in the Rocky Mtn National Park, we to the late movie after work, and watched Star Trek every afternoon along with other activities before going to the chuck wagon seven nights a week! We had to have some rest and relaxation! Did I mention we had lots of company? That's what happens when you live at the base of a national park! What a great adventure we were having! As we drove outside the city of Denver and the landscape began to change, I watched for so many landmark places that I had memorized the many trips we made together on the drive from Denver. I know there are certain rock clusters I recognize! Can you imagine how many times we have said, " do you remember " ... I bet at least 50 times and our trip isn't over yet! It doesn't matter how many times I visit this place, I am amazed at the majesty of these mountains, evergreens, wildlife and the bluest skies ever! The lack of humidity isn't bad either! It isn't unusual to see an occasional dead tree or even a patch of trees that have been attacked by beetles. But I have never seen so many as I looked along the countryside and even more in the national park this evening at dusk when we went to check out the elk. As I considered the rows of dry, brown trees and the different appearance it presents, I still had the same feeling of amazement at the creation of such beauty. My mind tends to have application moments and tonight was no different. I thought
about the differences Jeff and I have experienced since we were young adults living a dream summer 33 years ago. We are still pretty cute, but we have made some changes just like the view I saw as I looked at the mountains! ALS aside, we have a few weathered scars and broken branches. But just like the mountains, we are still standing tall and ready to face winter. That's what they do and that's what we have done in our life together! We haven't questioned if we could face changes rather how we would face them. I wondered as well, how will
all those trees get replaced, there are so many, how would that actually happen? There is no way to have all the answers to life's challenges, but somehow it all comes together one answer at a time!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A New Image

As long as I can remember I have had a compassionate view toward people. I know that sounds too generic so let me give some examples.
Kids being corrected out loud by an out of control parent in public, an obviously very sick elderly patient waiting to see the doctor by themself, someone driving a car that is so banged up and taped together in places you wonder if it is legal to drive, a woman eating alone with her head in a book trying to make everyone around her think she wants it this way, the physically handicapped part of our population, people we know who always seem to have one crisis after another in their life, and what in the world do we do with the men and women that stand at certain intersections holding a sign and in need of more than name a few. My children have been irritated at my attempt to defend someone, even if they don't really need or deserve defending. I don't mean to try to make me sound like a great person, I have done my share of being critical! But I know I attempt to make eye contact that seems genuine, or speak to or open the door for anyone I think might need noticed in a kind way. It probably helped that my parents were very involved in the lives of a family in the community where I lived growing up of a mom and four children, three of whom were retarded. I cannot begin to guess the times I rode with my mom or dad to pick them up and carry them home from church. My dad was a car business owner and I knew many times he was given homegrown vegetables because he had helped someone with a car payment or repair. Whether it is because I was born with a compassionate heart or because it was modeled before me or some of both, all I know is how relieved I am that I have been kind and not rude to people that may be different than the norm because now I know how they feel! Starting with a difference in my speech and now adding a choppy walk with Jeff hovering to catch me if I lose balance, I feel eyes lingering just a little longer like they are trying to figure it out. I remember the first morning at the drive through window of a Starbucks after struggling through my order, I thought, they probably think I am drunk and it's only nine o'clock! Determined to still be able to use the drive through I began to drive directly to the window so that even if we had to work through my order they could see by my appearance that I was alert! Jeff and I recently stopped to get some dinner to go for me and as we went to pay I said something to him and the lady taking our money asked him if I was deaf! Really! Jeff said, no she's not! We laughed when we got outside at her logic or lack of to ask such a question right on front of me! Everything we experience provides an opportunity to learn. For me, losing some of the " normalcy" of my physical posture or verbal ability has placed me in a position of developing a new image of myself. It isn't quite as easy or as comfortable in situations where people don't know me and a great reminder of the need everyone has to be accepted as normal. We don't live in a perfect world but we can make a better one by just treating everyone as normal, no matter their circumstance.