peanut butter cookies are NOT a solution. . .

peanut butter cookies
peanut butter cookies

I admit it. I eat when I’m depressed and right now I am not seeing my life very clearly. I’m not seeing how truly blessed I am. I’m not seeing that God is providing even as I stamp my feet and demand answers.

But He is. And I’m being a poothead child.

Folks say how lucky I am not to have cancer. I am grateful I don’t have cancer. I know people whose families have been devastated by that disease. My brother-in-law is one of those people. He is clear of cancer now, but our prayers and thoughts were always going up the God super-highway.

So. . .I’ve got arthritis, and it is doing a number on my cervical discs. My white blood cells are hyperactive and just love to munch on my joints. I picture little pac man figures munching greedily through my joints. Yum yum. They salivate in anticipation.

I’m having surgery in two weeks to fix the damage.

BUT THOSE STINKIN’ PAC MEN are now munching their way through my lumbar discs. I’ve been told that the discs are like jelly donuts between the vertebrae. Well, my little pac man figure has munched away on the disc material in order to get to the delicious jelly. Result? Jelly is running into epidural cavities and irritating my nerves. Literally.

I didn’t know nerves could hurt so badly—aren’t they the  transporters of pain to the brain? Seems like they should have some sort of nerve protection which would prohibit them from hurting just because a little jelly leaks out of my disk donuts! Oi Vey!

Nerves are very sensitive.

Bly me, now I can’t walk well. As my daddy says, “Cindy Lou, you have a hitch in your get-a-long!”  Yep. My get-a-long is long gone. I walk like Frankenstein’s creature.

I can handle the pain stuff. It gets to me and my hands shake all the time, so I take a light-weight pain-killer; I flushed all the Percocet down the toilet. No thank you. I’ll take a peanut butter cookie.

But I also have to take this nerve pain medication. I think it may be evil because my hair is falling out. My hair is short anyway because it is really thick and bushy and coarse. But now, it’s thinner. And it has receded at my temples and my bangs won’t grow to cover it.

My mom suggested a wig. No way jose. No wig. I wear headbands as a disguise and eat peanut butter cookies. And mope.

Oh, did I mention that sections of my eyebrows are falling out? Thank goodness for Smashbox and their eyebrow powder. it’s terrific.

This week, deep, round and red, sore bubbles broke out in random places on my face. If my face were a map and my right eye was Maine, then I have these red bumps (one at a time—not a group) in Florida, Arizona, Mexico, Washington, and Quebec. I think they may be (gulp) pimples.

Another peanut butter cookie.

Can I be blunt, please? I’m vain. I’m not, nor have I ever been beautiful, but I have always been cute. Ok looking. Not special, but I hung together pretty well. But now—I won’t look in the mirror except to put on make-up.

I have to wear glasses and I’m now a good 30 pounds overweight because I can’t walk or ride my bicycle. Walking kills foot and makes me cry in pain for a while and wish I hadn’t flushed the Percocet down the toilet. Doctor doesn’t want me to ride my bike because I could fall and crack some of my fragile discs that the Pac Men have been attacking.

What now? Locusts? Boils? (I actually think pimples count as boils.)

This too shall pass.

It will. I read Psalm 27 last week and several parts of it spoke to my heart and eased my soul. The last verse was better than a peanut butter cookie.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Sigh. To everything there is a season. This is just a season. I can wallow around with peanut butter cookies or I can be strong and take heart and wait.

I’m trying. I’m praying. God is moving, and I just need to wait and apply Clearasil quite liberally.

. . .and avoid peanut butter cookies.

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red lipstick bravery

origin_199185257 Romans 8 always confounds me. 

Today I woke up and the pain hit me all over again—not emotional pain—physical pain. It is the physical pain that defeats me and makes me angry and frustrated.

*I consider that my present suffering are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in me. Romans 8:18. (I change the pronouns all the time to make it more personal).

It’s morning and I go to the Lord. Everyone’s morning God time is different, I’m sure. When I was teaching high school, my time with the Lord was a quick reading of My Utmost for His Highest while I dried my hair, and then listening to a good word from a favorite podcast while driving to school. During the twenty-minute drive I practiced developing a prayerful attitude. For me, a prayerful attitude means  calming myself and centering my mind on the truth and presence of God. That He was my creator God. A God that cared for me with all my idiosyncrasies and past, present and future failures. I centered my mind on the truth that I was NOT going to teach the kids by myself. I didn’t have the intelligence or quickness of mind it took to teach. I had to keep God in my pocket, so to speak, so I could reach down in that pocket and feel his hand grasp mine as reassurance of presence and love. Sometimes I have a stone cross in my pocket or a rock with “strength” engraved on it (given to me by a wonderful young woman).

*Many times, I don’t know what to pray anymore. I’m find I’m repeating myself. I have a list and it’s the same list. How and why? How and why, Lord? Help Lord! Please, Lord! And then I remember my access to the Spirit. Why do I forget that? His indwelling in me. Oh Holy Spirit—I pray—moans and groans too deeply implanted to be verbalized. The Spirit translates.He gets it. 

 And then comes verse 28. God works all the yucky, painful stuff for good—His good. His good in me. Shaping and forming me to be more like Jesus, but oh what a stiff, cold piece of clay I can be.

So today, in pain, I read these words and reflect and write. Looking at red and gold and brown trees reflecting the morning sun. Wishing I had another cup of coffee  and could sit a while longer until my hands quite shaking. And the pain passes.

Slowly, slowly it does. The shaking becomes a vibration. I run the dishwasher. I eat my oatmeal.  I take a shower, and even though I know I will be working on my computer today and may not even leave the house, I put on red lipstick. Red lipstick is brave. I will be brave in my hope today. I will be brave in my trust.

 “So what do you think? With God on our (my) side like this, how can we (I) lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us (me), embracing our (my) condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us (me)?” Romans 8:31-32 The Message Bible

A Poem by Wendell Berry—for my daughter-in-love, Renee

A Homecoming

One faith is bondage. Two

are free. In the trust

of old love, cultivation shows

a dark graceful wilderness

at its heart. Wild

in that wilderness, we roam

the distances of our faith,

safe beyond the bounds

of what we know. O love,

open. Show me

my country. Take me home.

a fire, a chair, a meal and Jesus

In his introduction to Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis describes his book as a “hall” that readers enter and then begin to open doors–it’s all a metaphor for finding the true church–an actual place of worship. But I love the picture this sentence creates: “But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals.” I love the idea of a room with a fire and chairs and a meal and Jesus. Of course, being an Anglophile, I picture the front room of a cottage with diamond-paned windows and worn, pale floral-covered arm chairs and a faded Aubusson rug (I didn’t ever know what an “Aubusson rug” was when I was devouring Maeve Binchy and Rosamund Pilcher’s warm and fuzzy novels. Oh, looked it up—it’s French).

In that warm, friendly room where the fire is real so it crackles and spits, I would serve fragrant coffee and just made scones. My friend, Isabel—I don’t have a friend named Isabel, but I’ve always wanted one—serves her famous pumpkin dip with pretzels and cinnamon-sugar pita squares. My hubby, Steve, sits on his manly worn, leather chair while the two other men sit—with a pillow between them—on the squashy leather sofa. My lovely friends (one of them is Isabel) sit in the faded arm chairs, while I sit by Steve’s feet on a giant floor pillow. My black cock-a-poo, Moby, snuggles with me (I don’t have a cock-a-poo named Moby, either). We sip and munch and talk about our grown kids and our grandkids, while the men talk about college football and the trouble with leaves.

Someone leads in prayer and out come the Bibles. It’s Isabel’s husband’s turn to take us through a chapter of 2nd Corinthians. It’s so still and quiet. Our voices speak God-words and we laugh together softly. After almost three hours, we pray and Steve and I walk everyone to the door. The porch light reflects off gold and red leaves lining the stone path to the driveway or still clinging to their parent trees. We all wave goodbye and plan to meet at Isabel’s house next week. Inside my cottage, Steve is cleaning things up while a finish another cup of coffee by the fire, Moby firmly on my lap. God’s presence still lingers.

. . . Back to reality. Right now I can linger over coffee. I can spend hours on the Bible and other books (currently I’m reading some short stories by Alice Munro. I figure I should keep up with Nobel Prize winners even though I don’t teach literature any more). I can make great spaghetti and file my fingernails. And I can work on my master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Adolescent Literacy. I have the time. I have a wonderful husband named Steve who takes care of me because now I can’t walk very well.

I’m having surgery on my neck due to ruptured disks (due to arthritis and other stuff floating around my body thanks to DNA). It’s scheduled for the 25th of this month. My lower back has been deteriorating for over a year, and now it’s in full rebellion. Making great spaghetti last night had me in tears while I was draining the pasta. The pain is really, really bad.

And then my feet swelled up and my toes feel broken so I cry a bit if I step on them the wrong way. I had to quit teaching this year, and I had to quit tutoring last week. It’s been a Job (as in Job of the Bible) kind of year.

That’s why I like my dream. The cottage and fire. The friends who also have grown children. The kind of friends who make pumpkin dip and pray for me and I pray for them because I’m tired of thinking about me. The squashy arm chairs and a cuddly dog sounds wonderful, too.

Then it hit me this morning: why don’t I ask Jesus for them? (The friends, not the cottage, etc.—but I do want Moby!) So I did ask Jesus.

And while I’m waiting for Isabel and Moby,  I found a great recipe for pumpkin dip. I think I’ll try it; I know Steve will like it!

Here’s the link to the pumpkin dip! http://www.shugarysweets.com/2013/09/pumpkin-pie-dip