I am somewhat a creature of habit... Classic business suits with trendy tops and shoes in seasonal colors, favorite entree selections at restaurants, house decor placed in the best arrangement and left for years, the same menu for Sunday lunch guests. My philosophy borders on "if it works, why invest time, energy, and money just for change?" There are more important things that demand my attention. Sure I want to be in style and experience new opportunities and adventures, but not at the expense of what I consider near and dear to my heart. I have three rings I wear all the time. One was a gift when I was sixteen, one was a Christmas present from Jeff in 1985, one was my wedding ring. When I say I wore them all the time I mean all the time. Whether working in the yard, wiping down my kitchen with "a little soapy water," (the phrase in parenthesis is an inside joke I should write about another time!), water skiing at the lake, kneading dough for yeast rolls, all three rings on like a permanent fixture. I had to have the dome ring repaired once because I clapped so much at one of Joseph's football games that I knocked the diamond out! So you can imagine how I felt when Jeff lotioned my fingers in an attempt to take them off before my fingers swell to the point they wouldn't come off. He was successful with two but not with my wedding ring. I have a high threshold for pain but after several attempts to get it over my knuckle, I threw in the towel! That circle of gold had to be cut in two and pulled apart by two pair of needle nose pliers, Jeff on one side and my nephew, Adam, on the other. (It's nice having a doctor in the family)! It's just a ring, right? I try to keep my emotional attachment in check where material things are concerned. Things are going to break, be lost or misplaced during the normal course of events in life. This one was different for me. I had never taken my wedding band off since Jeff placed it on my finger as a symbol of our love and commitment forever and ever amen! After the deed was done I noticed an imprint in my finger where my ring had been nearly thirty-four years. Not only that finger but my pinky that held the heart shaped dome ring I sported since 1985! Funny thing is my pinky had been ring free for a month and the imprint looked like I had just removed it. Later that day as I looked at the imprint side by side on my left hand, my mind took me through a different thought process. I thought about the many imprints that have shaped me in my life. I can't begin to name them all but will list a few: my parents who modeled gracious hospitality, unwavering faith, commitment to our extended family and church family, and unsurpassed work ethic, family friends that showed the fun and value of relationship, summer sessions at Camp Wyldewood where I was introduced to college age counselors that blew me away with their true love for Christ (and Coach Groover who I was convinced was an angel God sent to earth!), college years that taught me so much more than book knowledge, the acceptance, influence, and love from Jeff and his family, and a vocal ministry with people that stretched my faith and loved me warts and all! (I wish I had time to write a book about the Joyful Noise years! It would be a crossover of comedy, therapy, theology, relationship, musical theory...which is a fancy way of saying multiple opinions!) There are too many individuals, situations and circumstances to name and I'm sure after I post this I will be miserable about what I neglected to mention!
Imprints can fade through time and distance. In the beginning stages of this dilemma I prayed diligently for healing. As the scripture instructs "without ceasing." Praying, begging for God's intervention, and eventually telling family/friends so they could join me in prayer became critical as my speech continued to plummet. I, in my adult life, have been able to direct my thoughts while sleeping so I know heaven was busy transcribing so many prayers! During this, I looked forward to waking up, hoping healing had taken place. If not complete healing, even improvement would suffice. After a morning run, if the house was empty, I would lay face down on the floor and cry out to God to deliver me! That is the prayer He has answered to date. Through the assistance of many, I and my family are being delivered! As more symptoms have lead to more weakness which leads to more challenges and changes, I have become consumed with myself and what I feel compelled to accomplish while I can! In this process I think my Jesus imprint has faded, and been replaced by my approach of devising a plan to complete what I think is important. I know this isn't smart for me. Having a terminal disease is not license for ignoring the imprint that has given me life! I am examining my thoughts, motives, and prayers and encourage you to do the same, making certain the right imprints for our lives have the deepest grooves!