Monday, May 16, 2011

Ooops. Try Again Tomorrow.

Every morning when I wake up the first thing I see is a small sign which sets on my shelf with the message “Trust Me Always, Love God.” And I always try to make the first words out of my mouth be based on Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” It’s an effort to get my day started off focused on Christ and not on all the things that could potentially go wrong, be annoying, or get me off track.

Well, this morning, for whatever reason, I forgot.

And, please know, I’m not actually saying that things went downhill because of that lapse in memory, but….

I was running ten minutes late on my way to drop of Willow Grace with Mom this morning. And so I was distracted and was speeding which led to me getting pulled over and receiving a ticket. The officer was calm but also felt the need to tell me that he was annoyed with me. Did you know that you’re supposed to stay ½ a mile behind a police car? That’s what he told me. I was following him too close, apparently. He was speeding; I was behind him. He slowed down, got behind me, and pulled me over.

I shared with one of my classes all that I’ve just written and told them, rather tongue-in-cheek, that they could feel free to blame anything bad in their day on me today since I had forgotten to center my trust and thanksgiving on the Lord this morning. Happy to play along, so far, the students have blamed me for bad grades, forgotten homework, misbehaving in class, and a small assortment of other frustrations.

Ah well…. You can be sure I will be mindful to start my day off right tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In Thinking About Success

How do you measure the success of a day, a year, or even your life? Yesterday, I was quite productive. Being off of work, I managed to clean almost the entire house, take the recycling to the recycling center, go to the grocery store, take Willow Grace out to lunch and tend to her all day, make dinner, and finish a bit of laundry. I even started the day with devotional time. I did not, however, get the mid-month bills paid or work out. Was it a successful day? Partially successful? What even makes up the criteria for which this could be judged? I tend to be consistently optimistic and yet rigidly hard on myself. So while I feel buoyed by the fact that I accomplished so much, I also berate myself for not finishing all the tasks I set out to complete. My quest, as in all things, is to discover the correct response to this query and then to attempt to adapt that into my life. We're supposed to work diligently and to be responsible for what is put before us while making our lives be about God and others and not just ourselves. In examining myself, I must ask the question: Is this how I live my life? And that simply cannot be answered once and allowed to rest. It's an every day, every moment, kind of question.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Love, Nephrology & Play Dates

This morning I heard a preacher say something that I've been chewing on mentally all day. In dealing with the subject of judging, he said that God had shown him that it's God's job to judge, the Holy Spirit's job to convict, and our job to love. Love. Love. Love. That's what we are supposed to be all about. There's so much more that can be said to break this all down more, but I'm just mulling it all over and purposing to live it out.

Update on Willow Grace:
I can't believe that we've been home from the hospital for a little over a month! Yesterday we had our check up with the nephrologist (kidney doctor). Everything went well, except for having to have blood taken (oh, the wailing!) and the fact that the initial tests indicate that her little kidneys are having to work too hard. At this moment, I am actually waiting for a call from Vandy Children's to let us know what the further tests and labs indicate and what we might need to do to help her to fully recover. Really, we have two options. Either she'll need to take medicine to help her kidneys function better, or we'll just wait, monitor her progress, and check everything again in a month or two. I'm praying for the latter. The doctor also said that we need to keep her our of school for another week to allow her immune system to get a bit stronger. She's still so different than she was before this whole thing began. Her energy level is lower as is her appetite, and she still gets me up between 2-3 AM every morning. I really could use more than 4-5 hours of sleep a night!

We were blessed with two snow days this week. I know that many people here in Middle Tennessee have had most or even the entire week off, but working in a private school changes the rules on that a bit. On Tuesday, my friend Ralanna brought over her two beautiful little girls, Kassidy and Addy, to play with Willow Grace. When they first arrived, Willow Grace was overjoyed and seemed just like any other little girl her age. They all immediately put on princess dresses, and started playing with the tea set and Disney princess dolls and running all over the house. It was absolutely delightful watching those three little beauties dancing around each other chattering incessantly and giggling over all sorts of silliness. However, about 45 minutes into their visit, Willow Grace became increasing quiet. She wasn't interested in wearing her princess dress or playing with anything. She just wanted to be near me and to sit on the couch and watch her beloved Veggie Tales. They still stayed for another hour or so, and she was happy to have them there but just didn't have the energy to join in. When they left, it was time for dinner which I had to feed to her myself and wake her up in between bites. She was in bed for the night by 6 PM!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. And don't forget to be purposeful in loving others!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Fresh Perspective and Resolutions

This morning I stood just outside my mom's storm door watching Willow Grace wave to me and blow me kisses. After every summer, Christmas break, and spring break I have a hard time leaving her once again, and this morning I felt that familiar twinge, that wrenching feeling tugging at my heart. And yet, as I peered back through the glass and skipped off towards my little car, I couldn't help but smile. The fact that I was leaving her meant that she is well enough for me to return to work. She is well and getting healthier every day. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

In the last couple days I've heard several stories about other parents who have recently lost their children - to illness, accidents, and suicide. One of those families has a story similar to ours. They took their young daughter to the emergency room a couple weeks ago, and just like us they were encouraged to take her home. We were blessed to have an amazing nurse who was a strong advocate for us and enabled us to stay at the hospital, which was good because it wasn't until the next day that we found out how serious Willow Grace's condition was. This other family, they took their little girl home, and just a few days before Christmas she died. My heart grieves for that mother and father and for all those who love that little girl. As I go to sleep each night, I pray for them. In the middle of the night, I wake up praying for them, and I do the same when I wake in the morning. This could have so easily been us, and I am so very grateful that at this moment my dear girl is sleeping peacefully in her own bed just down the hall.

All of these stories have reminded me of what a great war we wage each day. This isn't all just happenstance; we have a real enemy who daily seeks to wreck our lives, ripping apart our families and stealing our peace in any way he can. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10 NKJV) We have to fight for each other. We have to fight for our children, our families, and others who do not yet know how to fight for themselves. The first and most important step in this is faith-filled prayer. It's the most powerful weapon we have. I'm committing myself to pray more for others this year than I ever have.

One other thing I've decided to do is start writing again in my grateful journal. I used to be quite faithful in writing down 3-5 things each day for which I was grateful, but somewhere along the line in the last few years I seriously started slacking in that department. I really want to live in gratitude, constantly aware of how God has blessed my life, and so, at least a few times a week I plan to jot down a few of those blessings.

Here's what I'll be adding tonight:
1. Shared a delicious breakfast at Lovelace Cafe with 130+ co-workers and some of my dearest friends this morning
2. Had a great conversation on the phone with a sweet friend whom I haven't been able to talk to in quite while
3. Woke early this morning and had good devotional time with my Savior
4. Was able to start working out again this morning. Love Pilates!
5. Had a fun trip to the grocery store with Willow Grace and enjoyed "oohing" and "ahhing" at the last of the Christmas light displays with her on the way home

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Odds & Ends (and a Peaceful New Year)

It's been a few days since my last post, twelve to be exact. However, I've been wrapping myself up in a cozy quilt of home, family, and Christmas. Sitting in front of a roaring fire that my husband has lovingly built and watching Willow Grace play happily with her new toys in front of the Christmas tree while I tackle a few dozen thank you notes has taken most all the extra time I've had, not that I've had much.

It turns out that Willow Grace has needed almost as much tending to out of the hospital as she did in. While most people might see Willow Grace and think that she looks close to normal, there are things a mother's eye do not miss. The pale shade of her cheek, the faint dark circles under her eyes, the lack of luster in her hair, the tendency to whine -- these all do not belong to my daughter. She's also been getting up between two and four o'clock every morning and staying up. We both are in desperate need of more sleep. Never has she been so clingy or so quick to cry. Since she was a newborn she was low-maintenance and seemed to have a near perfect balance of dependence and independence. However, that seems to have changed a bit since she became ill. The doctor assures me that this is quite common in recovering from HUS and an extended hospital stay and all will be back to normal in a few weeks. I had to take her back to the doctor last week. She was looking quite ghost-like, was coughing incessantly, and often threw up whenever she coughed too hard or cried too hard. It turns out that it's just a really nasty cold made worse by her compromised immune system. The doctor said it would be another couple weeks before her immune system is strong enough to fight off much, and so we've decided to keep her out of school for at least a week and maybe two.

Both Chris and I ended up at the walk-in clinic yesterday morning. It was kind of weird to be seen as a couple, but since we had basically the same symptoms, I guess they thought they'd "kill two birds with one stone" (the birds being the illnesses and not us). We had already sent Willow Grace to stay with his parents on New Year's Eve to help protect her from whatever was going on with us; she certainly didn't need anything more to deal with. It turns out that both of us were diagnosed with sinusitis, and I had also developed bronchitis. A pair of steroid shots and a couple of z-packs later, and we were good to good to go!

Upon arriving home from the hospital a couple weeks ago, I've been busily trying to get the house into some sort of organized state, a battle that I feel starts fresh every morning, complicated somewhat by tending to a recovering daughter and then falling ill myself. Of course I won't be taking down my tree until next Saturday. The twelve days of Christmas ends on Wednesday, and Saturday will be my first chance to tend to that task. That's fine by me; we were so late in getting it up. I really don't mind enjoying it a little while longer. However, perhaps after all the holiday trimmings are put away things will start to fall into place a little easier.

A new year. And so we begin again. The new semester starts tomorrow, and I am truly looking forward to being back with my colleagues and friends and to getting back into a normal schedule. This year, I am a full-time substitute, which keeps me quite busy but generally spares me taking grading or other work home. For the first month back to school, however, I'll be teaching eighth grade science. Yes, eighth grade science for a month! I'm a little nervous about this, especially since my natural talents tend to be in the humanities and not in the areas of math and science. However, I relish a challenge, and I am sure that I can meet this one. In the realm of new beginnings, I also haven't worked out since before Willow Grace fell ill, and so my plan is to start that back up again tomorrow. Yes, I know I've been ill and out of practice; don't worry. I'll start out slow. I think I'll kick it off with some Pilates and light jogging this week to get myself loosened up and ready for something more strenuous by next week.

One final note: This morning, I was listening to a preacher who said that Christmas was about reconciliation and peace, not between men and each other but between men and God. When the angels said, "Peace on earth," they meant between men and God. Either I had never thought of it that way before or it never really struck me as it did this morning. I had sometimes wondered why there wasn't more peace between men. In discussing this with Chris, he said, "Of course, there will never be peace between men.... A man must have peace with God before he can have peace with men." And so, this year, my wish, my prayer, for you, my dear friends, is that you may have peace in your home, with your family, and with all those you come into contact but most of all with Jesus Christ.