Category Archives: Community and Relationships

Panic at the _______!

isaiah-26-3

A difference exists between panicking and having a panic attack.

keys-clip-art

Have you ever lost your car keys, and you were worried that would get in trouble for arriving late to work?  Were you frustrated, irritated, and upset that they were misplaced again?  Did you turn your entire purse or your entire house upside down looking for them?

You probably panicked until you found them and immediately went about your day.

keys-clip-art

Have you ever lost your car keys, and you were worried that you would be fired for arriving late to work?  And then worried that you would not get a paycheck, that you would get your utilities shut off, that CPS would take your children for not having electricity, that your house would burn down because you had to use a space heater for warmth in the winter when it got down to -25°F (because you know if you misplace your keys that each and every one of these things really will happen)?  Did you get dizzy, did your heart and pulse race, did you feel extremely nauseous, did your knees go weak, did you start shaking and shivering violently, were you unable to get your words into a sentence, were you looking for the escape route from the worst possible scenario?

Then you probably had a panic attack.

            …and I literally just now had to go make sure that my keys were where they belonged.  I almost sent myself into an attack by simply writing that scenario…

keys-clip-art

I cope with my anxiety on a daily basis.  It is a part of me, it is a part of my OCD (no, I am not so OCD – I have OCD), it is a part of my life.  Unless you have had a panic attack, a for-real panic attack, it will be difficult for you to completely understand what is happening.

My family and friends know that I get these episodes occasionally.  They do not know what is going on inside of me, however.  I am pretty sure that most of them just think I am weird.

panic-attack-letter

I am extremely thankful for a husband that loves me no matter what (pretty sure he got the worse of “for better or worse”…), and a doctor that understands and cares.  I am thankful for a diagnosis that I am not crazy, and for medications and information to help me function like a ‘normal’ person.

skin

I have been asked, “But I thought you were supposed to be a Christian?  Should a real Christian have these issues?”

I cannot decide whether to cry or overturn tables when I hear this type of statement.

Even when that statement comes from inside my own head…

Isaiah 26:3 tells me that God will keep those that trust Him in perfect peace.  Why then, am I not in perfect peace?

not-perfect

The Hebrew words for ‘perfect peace’ mean to be completely safe.  I understand this to mean that as I focus on Him, He will keep me safe within His plan.  I don’t know His plan, (As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9) but I know I can trust Him to stick to it and carry me through.  I am a human though, and my will to trust and have faith will falter sometimes.

That is why we have the Bible.  Think about it – if God knows everything, and He does, then He knows that we need reminding of His promises, and we do.

I will fail.  So will you.  The good news is that I am not a failure.  And neither are you.

So when I have that panic attack, and you just don’t get it because you see no reason for my distress, I hope you will remember what you have read here.  I hope that even if you cannot commiserate, you can be compassionate.  I hope that you will remind me of Isaiah 26:3 and help me focus and function.

I hope you will remind me that this too shall pass…

faith-is-not-a-feeling

Lessons Learned

Not everything that ends badly was all bad.

You can learn valuable lessons from even the worst mistakes and miseries.  Sometimes, you just have to look really hard to find the redeeming reward.

There is almost always one to be found.

beauty-for-ashes

Personal case in point:

Relationships and marriages (…or some of what I learned from my exes…)

Ex #1 – I learned how to be a mom.  I was young, I made many mistakes, and I discovered a love so big that I felt my heart would burst.  I also learned that sometimes it is better to remain friends than to get married, and that you can remain friends after a divorce.

Ex #2 – I learned how to shoot a gun, how to clean a fish, and how to ride a motorcycle.  I also learned what it feels like to be at the wrong end of a loaded twelve-gauge shot gun.

Ex #3 – I learned firsthand how illegal drug use and alcohol abuse (his addictions) can destroy a marriage, a family, a life.  That is a place I never want to experience again.

Ex #4 – I learned how to hang drywall.  I learned about the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the government.  I learned about how to study the Bible to find out what it really says instead of just believing what someone else says it says. I also learned that just because someone says they are a Christian and a patriot doesn’t necessarily mean that they live like a Christian or have the same definition of patriot as most people.  This is when I began to identify more than a little with Sarah Connor of the Terminator movies…

godly-good-man

            Example (not ex!) #5 – I learned that there are good, decent, honest, trustworthy, Godly, kind and loving men in the world.

davemy holy hottie!

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Another lesson that you may learn from your messes is how to make great meals!

From the mother of ex #4, I received this recipe for Hot Hamburgers.  It is spicy, but not too spicy (well, for most people – I still have to put sour cream on mine to calm it a bit).  It comes together quickly and cooks in the crock-pot as you go about your life.  It also makes great use of a beef cut that is rather difficult to prepare on its own, namely beef cubed steaks.  This dish comes out so tender and flavorful!

hot-hamburger-ingredients

Hot Hamburgers

5 cups tomato sauce

15 ounce jar of mild or hot pepper rings, undrained

3 medium onions, sliced or diced

1 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ cup Tabasco sauce

1 teaspoon chipped red pepper

3 pounds of beef cubed steaks

hot-hamburger-steps

hot-hamburger-serving

Combine all ingredients except beef cubed steaks in a crock-pot.  Stir well.  Cook on low for two hours.  Add beef cubed steaks.  Cook on high for two hours.  Serve beef cubed steaks on buns or with cooked rice.  Top with sour cream if desired.  May substitute chicken breasts for the beef cubed steaks.

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optimist-or-pessimist

What Were My Words?

Have you ever tried to literally ‘watch your mouth’?

After a teacher said this to me, I was soon trying to watch my backside due to a paddling.  Note to self (and anyone else reading this) – when you are already in trouble, don’t make it worse by being silly.  Ouch, ouch, ouch…

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Your words are the only thing in life you have absolute control over.

While we cannot actually watch our spoken words, we can watch our written words and we can listen to what we say.  It is even better to consider, and reframe, and perhaps refrain from our words before they are shared.

Do your words reflect your true self?

two-things

I did an experiment on my own word usage on a very social platform to put myself to the test.  I chose a random month, August of 2011, and I read every post I made.  (Granted, I did not include shares, comments, or memes/photos – I concentrated only on the letters my own fingers typed.what-were-my-words

These are the results this little analysis:

  • Out of 31 days in August, I only posted my own words 17 times on 14 days. All other posts (and there was a post almost every day) were photos, memes, shares, and Happy Birthday greetings on a friend’s page.
  • Of these 17 posts, 6 were questions or requests for assistance.
  • 4 posts were simply sharing information, some exciting and some not-so-exciting but still possibly helpful
  • 5 posts were just plain complaining.
  • 2 were random thoughts
  • 2 posts were about things that nobody really cares about, i.e. “I’m going to bed”

Yes, I realize this adds up to more than 17.  Some posts fit into more than one category.   I also realized that I needed to change.  So I set myself a challenge.

I learned a little lesson on words a while back, and it is still relevant. Just remember the word “THINK” and apply it to the words you are choosing before you say them or before you hit ‘send.’

think

When I apply the T.H.I.N.K. acronym to these posts, I am more than a little embarrassed at what I find.

  • Is it True? I can confidently say that I did not lie about anything in these posts.
  • Is it Helpful? Two were possibly helpful, announcing a neighborhood garage sale and available childcare in the area.
  • Is it Inspiring? Not. A. Single. One.
  • Is it Necessary? Admittedly, Facebook in itself is not necessary. Still, I applied this portion more to mean that what I wrote didn’t fall into the “Well, that was unnecessary” category.  And only one fell to that level.  One more than there should have been…
  • Is it Kind? This one hurts. Although I wasn’t really unkind (except for probably that remark about the golf caddy – see Necessary), neither was I kind or considerate or uplifting.

Ouch, ouch, ouch again…

I had a confrontation with my conscience well over a year ago.  I don’t remember the trigger, but I do recall the results.  I was convicted that although I wasn’t a mean, hateful or heartless person, I was also not living up to the hype.  I did not walk the talk I was teaching.  I needed to make a positive transformation in my world of words.

The first step was to wait.  I don’t mean I sat around and did nothing at all.  WAIT is another easy way to consider your conversation.

wait-why-am-i-talking

Why am I talking (or typing)?  Is it to make a particular point?  Is it to share some splendid insight?  Is it to offer comfort and consolation?  Is it to provoke thought or make a call to action?  Why am I talking?

The next move is to consider what you are consuming.  What are you putting into your head and your heart?

But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.                                                                                                                                     Matthew 15:18-19

I had to change some habits.  I had to unfollow some people.  I had to find places to feed my faith and feelings.  This was not difficult at all.  I simply changed my focus and found myself fulfilled.

mudslinging

The final footstep was to share my breakthroughs with my beloved friends and followers.  This can be accomplished in a variety of ways.  Since I am a weaver of words and a social media maven, I employ these as my platforms.  I created a Facebook page, Positive Post Pledge.  I manage my social media to uplift and encourage as often as I possibly can, and I watch my words carefully (most of the time – I still slip occasionally because, you know, humanness…).

…and I share the positivity repeatedly and persistently and purposefully.

Will you join me?

13 Ways to Better Your Days

camp is my happy place

I almost always come home from summer camp a different person than I was when I left.  I am not sure if it is the change of scenery, the change in schedule, or the change in my mental mood.  Whatever it is, I am changed, at least for a while.

I will let you in on a secret – I was privately worried that I would not make it all the way through camp without having to retreat from the retreat.  With my medical issues, life is hard to predict from day to day.  Surprisingly to me, I not only survived the entire week of camp, but I thrived!  I only had to take four pain pills, and two of those were during the same day.  I struggled a little, but way less than I thought I would.  Maybe it was combination of adrenaline and the power of God…

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Rabbit Trail  For insight on health and wellness

            Now why did I get through the week without major issues when I can barely get through a week at home without major issues?  Who knows?  I do know that I am willing to try making some changes that at least seemed to work during my camp week.  Will it help?  Who knows?  The least I can do is try it out for a while and see.

In adapting my church camp lifestyle to my home lifestyle, I thought of these thirteen areas that I handled differently at camp.

  1. Schedule

I had a fairly strict schedule at camp, and duties that had to happen at certain times.  I didn’t have just any old time that I could veg out playing a word game on my iPad or peruse Pinterest for hours.  I had places to be and jobs to do and people to see.

  1. Study

The first part of each day was devoted to Bible study and prayer for about twenty minutes.  This did come after a shower and getting dressed; otherwise, it was top priority.  Getting with God first thing in the morning – is there any more positive way to begin a new day?

Bible study

  1. Diet: Meals and Snacks

I ate.  I ate more.  I ate better.  This eating habit was an important part of the daily schedule.  Breakfast at 8, lunch at 11:45, snack at 3:15, dinner at 4:45 (that was a little tough), and another snack at 8. I paid attention to what I was eating and added what I needed to add (i.e., extra protein or iron, again due to my health issues).  Today, I didn’t eat anything until after I took a bath, which I didn’t do until 1:15.  An entire morning wasted away…

  1. Work

From 9:30 to 11:45, I taught lessons and led the campers in making a project each day.  At home, I equate this to my writing and my online income.  It doesn’t contribute much to our bank account, but it does contribute a little money and a lot of accomplishment.

  1. Service

Missions time was in a morning time slot, but we addressed it throughout the day.  At home, my main mission and service is to my husband, my home, and our house guests.  Housekeeping, community concerns, and my extended family and friends are my focus of ministry and service.

  1. Medications

This should be a no-brainer.  The problem is that sometimes, I can be a no-brainer.  If I forget to take my meds, I have difficulties and if I have difficulties, I forget to take my meds.  Since my medication are important to my health, I need to be sure I take them at the appropriate times.  At camp, I had my camp nurse that helped me remember to take them.  She never had to remind me; just seeing her hanging out would remind me.  I plan to figure out some trigger that will have the same effect here at home.

  1. Exercise

I did not have an exercise plan in place when I went to camp.  Just being at church camp tends to be an exercise in itself.  Walking, doing the motions to worship songs, just hanging out with faculty and campers gets me much more exercise than I am accustomed to getting.  Incorporating a walk and maybe a worship song or two into my day will go a long way.

  1. Nature

I am often saying or typing “Get out and play out.”  There are some very good books written on the topic of the nature deficit of modern children.  I tend to forget that adults need time in nature too!  Even if it is as simple as sitting out on my deck enjoying the outdoors, I need some nature in my life.  So do you.

Drake and Gertrude

  1. Friends

I was surrounded by friends this entire week.  At home, I tend to sequester myself inside my own four walls.  It’s not that I don’t like people.  I just don’t go out of my way to be where the people are. (Cue “The Little Mermaid”)  Everyone needs that human connection, including those of us who consider ourselves introverts or ambiverts.

faculty foosball

  1. Delegation of Duties

            Help!  I need somebody!  Help!  Not just anybody!

            Trying to do it all by myself is exhausting.  Doing this with my health is even more exhausting.  The past few years, I have started delegating more and dropping duties less.  At camp, I had others lead two nights of group games, others led campfire, others led meal time prayers, and others led all kinds of things.  This helped me then and it can help me at home.  Instead of leaving things undone because I cannot do it all, I will ask for help when I need or want it.

  1. Rest Time

            Naptime!!!

I will nap here

            A rest and relaxation time was built into the camp schedule after lunch.  I tended not to get much rest at this time because of other duties.  Instead, during the campers’ swimming time that followed, I was able to get an hour of rest, sometimes even sleep.  Recharging my battery is very important.  How can I help others if my own battery is running dead?

  1. Me Time: Creativity

“We were created by a Creator to be creative” was our camp theme this year.  During the day, I was able to get my camera out and practice using it.  I was able to doodle in my notepad.  I was able to write out thoughts.  I was allowing God to speak to me through my gift of creativity.

  1. Greater Good

I think the most important part of the camp week was that I was focused on the greater good.  I was there to serve, to lead, to show by example, to experience God and help others to experience God.  Sometimes, I feel my life has no focus, but that never happens at camp.  Maybe my camp mindset is one I should carry year-round.

camp confession 200

 

Tomato Talk

 

What did one tomato say to the other tomato?

tomatoes

Let’s catchup!

 

It has been 37 days since I last posted.  This was an unplanned hiatus that simply happened.  Each day as I woke up, I did not say to myself, “I am not going to write today.”  I just didn’t.  Oh, I had plenty of brainstorms and moments of inspiration (my notebook and my bathroom wall can attest).  Why the words were not written for the web, I do not know.  But…

Here I am!

the writing on the wall

the writing on the wall

Sometimes, a time of self-discovery is necessary.  Sometimes, debacles with family or with friends occur.  Sometimes, health or home issues must take the forefront to find a resolution.

Sometimes, the words must be written and anguished over and edited and rearranged, and after all the emotions and insights are put down on the paper or on the screen – the entire saga is deleted, stress is drained, and the world may be looked upon with fresh eyes.

Anne Lamott quote

Sometimes you need a break before you break.

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Here are some hints, goodies, and sneak peaks that I look forward to sharing with you in upcoming posts!

Advisory Warning – Waxing philosophic usually creates philosophic ear wax.

Beauty in a Bottle? – Gratitude and graceful aging

Commitments and Commitment – The business of busyness

Importance Issues – Sometimes you find that you are not as important in someone’s life as you thought you were.  Is that their fault for not recognizing your importance, or yours for ascribing/believing/considering yourself important?

Planning and Priorities – If you don’t determine what matters most, then what matters most tends to fall by the wayside.

Someone So Special – Are we sometimes too “smart” to be satisfied?

What Were My Words? – Your words are the only thing in life over which you have absolute control.

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[Well, of course they are in alphabetical order!  You know I have legitimately have OCD (meds and all), right?]

 

a touch of madness

🎼Me and My Fibro 🎶🎶🎶

When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia several months ago, I had a very strange reaction to the news.

I felt a huge wave of relief wash over me.

That seems odd, doesn’t it? You are diagnosed with a life-altering incurable health issue that no one really knows much about, and you are relieved? After years of fatigue and pain and health issues that didn’t respond to the treatments like they should have, at least now I had a documented reason for the way I was feeling.

And I wasn’t just relieved by the diagnosis. I wallowed in it.

Too tired to do the laundry? Well, I have fibro – what do you expect?
Too exhausted for intimacy? Have a little pity, it’s not my fault I have fibro.
Too sore to go to the gym? I have scientific proof backing my choice to not exercise.

Honestly, I do have many days where it is a sheer act of will to get to the kitchen for a cup of coffee after getting out of bed. I don’t like showers because they are too painful for me, so I take baths, which leave me wiped out for a bit. I try not to schedule anything in the mornings since I don’t really know how long it will take me to get moving.

But I was using my health (or lack thereof) to justify not even really living.

So, here is my new mantra: Live life to the fullest extent possible, without using a diagnosis to make excuses. Now, if I honestly cannot do an activity, I won’t. My point is to not simply let my multiple health conditions take over and take away my life.

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Here are some ways you can help (whether it is me or another individual):

1. Please don’t tell me I don’t look sick. I try to not look sick. Don’t most people try not to look sick? Many people suffer from invisible illnesses and are battling something others may never see.
2. Don’t ask me if I am getting better. My issues are not curable (yet) and they will not just go away.
3. Do ask me how am I feeling or how I am getting along. If I need to share my need for help or prayer in an area of my life, this gives me the opening to ask without feeling like I am dumping on someone.
4. Understand that when I use the valet parking at church or some other location, yet I walk in without any limping or other issue, I am not just being lazy. I am taking advantage of a service that is provided that, although I may not need it when I arrive, I may definitely need the assistance when leaving.
5. Don’t be afraid to invite me to do things. If I absolutely cannot, I will let you know. I would rather be asked and have to turn it down than to never be included.
6. Don’t feel sorry for me. Everyone has their own battles they are fighting, and everyone needs to be understood and cared about. Ask me questions about my health issues. If I can, I am happy to share with you what I know.
7. I am still me, no matter what my body is doing. You can still be my friend, and that is the most important thing you can possibly do for me.

Resources for more information (my specific invisible illness issues)
Fibromyalgia http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/fibromyalgia/
Rheumatoid Arthritis http://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Rheumatoid-Arthritis
Migraine http://www.americanmigrainefoundation.org/about-migraine/
Irritable Bowel Syndrome http://www.aboutibs.org/
Glaucoma http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-glaucoma
Chronic Depression http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-signs-and-symptoms.htm
Generalized Anxiety Disorder http://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad

Prism Problem-Solving Predicament

I have been heartsick over a situation for the past week.  Friends are hurting, I am hurting, and a serious lack of understanding hangs over the entire scenario.

My husband reminds me often that there are always three sides to every conflict: the plaintiff, the defendant, and the truth.  That viewpoint seems to depend on one person being right and the other being wrong though.  I prefer to look it that in a different way: side one, side two, and the truth.  Both sides can be right and both sides can be wrong at the same time.  Each side knows their version of the truth.

Perceived Truth Prism

Even when both parties are telling their truth, the actual truth can become a little muddy.

And this is the part where outsiders come in to play.

We really only ever know two things about someone:

What he or she says

What he or she does

That is it.  Even these will vary from person B to person C with person A.

ABC people

I have heard this saying many times.

If you are not part of the solution

You are part of the problem.

This is not always true!

Sometimes you are not a part of it at all.

solution

 

Sometimes the best you can do is stay out of it, and keep your own peace.