Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Who Put My Life on Fast Forward?

Today is somewhat of a continuation from yesterday's post. Remember how yesterday I was writing about how I had no idea where time goes? Well, today I need to discuss the time sucking vortex that I'm fairly confident I have fallen into. Some of you might know that I am an obsessive list maker. I LOVE to make lists. In fact, I make lists about the lists I need to make. Think I'm kidding. I'm not. Just ask George. He'll tell ya. So, anyway, it probably goes without saying, but I make many to-do lists. I have a to-do list for work, a to-do list for George, one for W., and three or four for me. You know, one for each personality--Mom Heather, Studious Heather, Super Chic Heather. (Hey, I never said all my personalities were sane.)

So, anyway, now that it is finally starting to feel like spring up here in the tundra (well, OK, it sometimes feels like spring), I decided to start my spring cleaning. And, all I can say is scary, very scary. I started my spring cleaning by cleaning my office at work. After all, that's just one room. How difficult could that be, right? Let's just say that I'm very thankful no one dropped a lit match in there because with all the paper, I probably wouldn't be sitting here right now. There was lots of paper, lots and lots of paper. And, among the debris, I ran across To-Do List that I had made for myself several months ago. The scary thing was that there were several things on that list that I still, many months later, haven't completed. For example, I still haven't gotten the dent in my car fixed, and I still haven't rescheduled the dental appointment I had to cancel. These are all things that I had planned to do. I figured I'd get around to them, and to be quite honest, I hadn't realized that so much time had passed since I had placed these tasks on my list. How does this happen? Does this happen to anyone else? Is this why I feel like I am perpetually stuck on fast forward?

And, it's not just tasks, it's other things, too. Like keeping in contact with my friends. Sometimes I'm on top of it, and I'm great about keeping in contact. Other times, not so much. For example, I had dinner last night with my friend Sara. Sara and I have been friends for almost a decade, which is not an insignificant amount of time, and we've been through a lot together. Today is her birthday (oh yes, she will always be X days older than me--see the use of roman numerals? I'm practicing!), so we went out for some Mexican food last night. It dawned on me as I was driving to the restaurant that I hadn't seen Sara since Christmas. Christmas!!!! What!!! I thought to myself, "There must be some mistake. Surely, I have seen her since Christmas." But, no. I hadn't. How does that happen? I mean, how does life just get in the way? Is it just me, or does anyone else out there have this problem, too?

Maybe it's that I am not intentional enough? Maybe I just kind of let life happen? And, that's very out of character for me. Any of you who know me well, know that I am not a passive person. So why am I passive about this? Or maybe it's because I'm over committed? Maybe I am so "tightly" scheduled, that I cannot possibly fit everything in?

In reality I think both are true. I think that I need to be more intentional about doing things that need to be done. I also think that I am over committed, and I'm primarily over committed with stuff that, when it comes right down to it, doesn't matter. Like the 900 hours of T.V. I DVR every week. I mean, seriously, do I really need to watch every episode of Law and Order 100,000,000 times? I think I know some of the episodes by heart, and that, my friends, is just sad.

So, I think that my next step in my spring cleaning will be to take a long, hard look at my life and my schedule. I think I need to clean out a few things. Then, I can have more time for the important people and things in my life. I have many friends that I haven't spoken to or seen in quite some time that I need to touch base with. I also have some precious friends that I do see often, but that I would love to spend more time with, so I could be there for them even more than I am now. And, I think that would be the best birthday present I could wish for. Well, right behind world peace and universal map distribution.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Where Does The Time Go? A/K/A I'm Getting Old

It occurred to me this morning that it is April 29th. April 29th!?!? How did that happen. I mean, is it just me, or does it seem like it was April 1st yesterday? I really don't know where the time goes. The days all run together into weeks, and I am increasingly having trouble remembering when events occurred. I say things like "Just the other day..." when "just the other day" was probably at least a month ago. Does anyone else have this problem? Why does that happen? And, does that mean I'm getting old? On second thought, don't answer that. I do have a birthday coming up in less than two weeks.

And, about that birthday. The good news is that it is not a divisible-by-five birthday. Those birthdays are the worst and are accompanied by much crying and rending of garments. So, thankfully, I (and George) still have 376 days before I have to deal with that. (I would have done the calculation in minutes or seconds so it seemed like a much longer time, but sadly, I can't do that kind of math in my head.) And anyway, I think I'm going to officially adopt my friend Renee's philosophy. She just stopped counting. Instead, we celebrate the __ (fill in the number) anniversary of her 29th birthday. I like that idea. And, when it becomes my tenth anniversary of my 29th birthday, I'll start using roman numerals, because, come on, who knows their roman numerals anymore? And, on the off chance that you do, keep it to yourself. Because there will be no, and I mean NO, mention of my age on this blog. I'm not kidding. Don't test me, either. I'm a master at Chinese torture techniques. Seriously. I mean, I watched every episode of Alias. Just call me Sydney Bristow, or that creepy Chinese doctor guy, but I'd prefer to be called Sydney. Anyway...

I don't know about you, but I love celebrating birthdays, sometimes even my own. So, I guess it's time for me to start thinking whether or not I want to have a par-tay. I'll have to give that some thought, but, never fear, I'll get back to you. After all, that'll give me something to blog about for at least a couple of days. Maybe I'll even post my wish list for my birthday...Hmm, you never know...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Our God is An Awesome God!!!

As we all know (if you're still reading my blog), I have been writing a lot about some of the things that are happening in my life right now, some struggles. And, I know that I am not the only one. Some of my dear friends are going through some very painful struggles of their own right now, and those are just the ones I know about. I would surmise that many more of my friends and acquaintances are struggling with things; things that I am not privy to. And, that's OK. I understand that sharing our struggles with others, or posting it on the internet, is not for everyone. The point is, though, that people are hurting, and it's difficult to watch people you care about and love hurt. And, maybe it's just me, but I think that when you see such suffering, it is easy to start to question God. Why is He allowing this? What possible good can come from it? Why is He not answering my prayers?

And, not that God owes me any explanation for why He does what He does or any confirmation of His holiness and goodness, God is faithful to answer our questions. He is faithful to help us work out whatever it is that we need to work out with Him. And, that is what God has done for me over the last few days.

On Saturday, I took my grandmother to the women's tea at my church. During the tea, four women from the African women's choir sang to us. You see, our church opens up its facilities each week to a pastor from Africa. Pastor Bomett leads approximately 100 African emigrants in worship each week. The women who sang were some of those African emigrants. What was amazing about these women was not the beautiful songs they sang, although they were definitely beautiful, but instead, it was their love for Jesus. Let me just tell you, these women glowed; their love for Jesus radiated from them. When they sang, they were praising Jesus with everything inside of them.

And, what was most amazing was these women's love of Jesus, despite what they had been through in their lives. These women were from Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo. They had been captured, beaten and abused during the genocidal conflicts that have ravaged that region of the world. Some of them had been forced to watch their spouses and children be murdered by enemy soldiers. They had traveled from refugee camp to refugee camp, not knowing if they would make it to the next camp. And, now, here they were in West Des Moines, Iowa. These women speak very little English, which makes it difficult for them to find work so that they can support their families. But, despite all of that, these women love Jesus. And, we were told that they know Jesus protected and saved them from harm when they were in Africa.

How amazing. I cried when I heard them sing on Saturday, I cried again when I heard them sing on Sunday, and I am on the verge of tears again, just writing about these wonderful women. What amazing examples of faith. And, what a wonderful reminder that God does protect us, in His own way, and according to His plan. And, not to diminish what I or anyone else I know is going through, but what a reality check and a reminder of how blessed I am. Praise God!

God not only reminded me of His protection of His people, but He also reminded me twice that He does answer my prayers. First, I have been praying for my friend's house to sell. I knew they were on a deadline to get their house sold, and PTL, it sold last week! I am so happy because I know how much they wanted to move (even if it means that they now have to pack!!).

And, finally, just this morning, God reminded me that He hears my prayers. Over the last few months I have been praying for several women I have "met" out here in blog world, and some of the women I have been praying for have been struggling with fertility issues. Even though I have never met these women in person, I have felt very led to pray for them. In fact, I feel so led to pray for them, I almost feel like some kind of stalker. I think about them often, and if I forget to pray for them, I dream about them. Seriously. (I feel very compelled to tell you all that these were not bad dreams. Just weird. Like we were skiing and stuff.) Anyway, suffice it to say that these women have become very dear to me over the last few months. (And, they all just seem so sweet and funny, and, well, just people you would want to be friends with.) So, as I was checking blogs this morning, I realized that one of the women I have been praying for had posted yesterday that she is pregnant!!!!!! Needless to say, I am extremely excited for her. It has been an honor and privilege to pray for her. But, most of all, I am so humbled. I am humbled and amazed that God answers prayers!!!
And, I don't know about you, but that gives me the hope to keep on keepin' on. It gives me the hope to keep praying for all my friends, family, and myself. And, hope is priceless. I love each of you who reads my blog. I hope you have a wonderful Monday!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I'm Baaack

So, I had been really good about blogging. Then I had my downer post, and to be honest, I've kind of been scared to write anything else. But, after our book club discussion about fear last night, I felt I needed to push through my own fear. And, here I am. Did you miss me? (Please only answer that if you are going to answer in the affirmative. I mean, didn't your mom teach you, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?) So, I figured I would give you a recap of where I've been for the last several days.

Friday. Friday night Melissa, Sarah and I headed downtown to see Anne Graham Lotz. I really liked her. She spoke about salvation, and it was amazing to see how many people accepted Christ that night. And, the music was really good. I hadn't heard of Fernando Ortega, so I didn't know what to expect. But, I thought he had a really nice voice. It was good. And, after the conference concluded for the night, I got to spend some quality time with my girlfriends, and I loved that!
Saturday. I got up way earlier than normal (we sleep in so late at our house on Saturdays) because I had to meet my friend Kristin downtown for day two of the Anne Graham Lotz conference. And, can I just say, Saturday was even better than Friday night! Once again, there was a lot of music, and it was very good. They primarily sang traditional hymns, which was fun for me because I don't know very many of them. In the morning, Anne spoke about the resurrection. Specifically, she looked at the resurrection through the eyes of Mary Magdalene and Peter. I had never heard the resurrection story told that way before. What she said about Peter was really interesting to me. She said that Peter was so overcome by his guilt that he had denied Christ that he had returned to his old way of life. But, when Christ appeared to him and the other disciples, he ran to Christ and focused completely on Him. Anne challenged everyone who attended the conference to focus completely on the cross, surrendering everything to Jesus.
Saturday night, George and I went to see the movie Exposed. If you haven't seen it, you should. I think it is still playing, and it was very interesting. Exposed is a documentary by Ben Stein (Bueller, Bueller, Bueller). The movie basically follows Ben Stein across the country as he talks to scientists on both sides of the intelligent design vs. evolution debate.
Sunday, was a very relaxing day. I spent most of the day doing Bible study and relaxing.
Monday it was back to work. I worked all day, cooked dinner, and we had our very own nightly version of "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" as we helped W. with his homework.
Tuesday was more of the same. George and I did find time to go on a 45 minute walk. I am so happy that weather is finally nice enough to go on a walk outdoors. I have to admit, though, that this winter hibernation has taken its toll on me. I was way more worn out by our walk than I should have been. Needless to say, I need to exercise more. I'm working on it, so we'll see how it goes.
Yesterday was more of the same. Except, on Wednesday nights I get to go to book club. I LOVE book club. I am so blessed by each of the women who attend book club. We are just starting Praying God's Word by Beth Moore. I think it will be an awesome book to read, discuss, and pray with these women.
And, that brings us to today. Tonight W. has an orchestra concert, and then I have Bible Study. W. doesn't have school tomorrow so I told him we could go out to dinner after my Bible Study was over. He gets to pick the restaurant, and I think there is some Outback Steakhouse in our future. The jury is still out on whether Heather can resist the cheese fries, but I'm guessing that will be nearly impossible. I love those cheese fries!
Anyway, that's been my week. Nothing too exciting, but pretty busy. I'm still waiting to hear back from mom. She still doesn't have her test results, but she goes to the doctor tomorrow.
How about you? How is your week?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Steppin' Up and Airin' It Out

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I really can't thank you enough for praying for me! I felt so much better yesterday and today. I know it was because of your prayers. And, thanks so much for letting me vent. I so hope I didn't scare anyone off by airing out my dirty laundry on the internet. It means a lot to me that you come by and read my blog, and I hope you'll keep reading. My intention was not to bring anyone else down in the dumps with me. So, I truly hope I didn't do that. Thank you again for your prayers. They mean the world to me.

We really don't know any more than we did about my mom's condition. She had a CT scan done of her brain, and that, PTL, came back clear. Her primary care doctor thinks that she is most likely suffering from a condition called hepatic encephalopathy. (Try saying that three times fast...) We really won't know for sure if this is what is causing her symptoms, or what her treatment options are, until she sees her hepatologist next week. As I understand it (if her doctor is correct), toxins in her liver have migrated to her brain and are causing things to malfunction up there. The good news, however, is that this condition is generally treatable. So, we're hopeful, and I'll update everyone when I know more.

Like I said earlier, though, I feel so much more at peace with everything. Not only the situation with my mom, but with all the stuff I'm going through in general. Your prayers must have caused a breakthrough for me because I feel like God is speaking to me again. And, I feel He is clarifying, at least a little bit, what is going on. For example, last night our church started Beth Moore's newest Bible study, Stepping Up. I really felt that God wanted me to go to this study, and am I ever glad I went. Beth said something that really spoke to me. She quoted Psalm 84:5-7:

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,

who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

As they pass through the Valley of Baca,

they make it a place of springs;

the autumn rains also cover it with pools.

They go from strength to strength,

till each appears before God in Zion.

And, she used those verses to say that we are all on a pilgrimage; a pilgrimage to heaven. Wherever we are today is not where we we will stay forever., and whatever we're going through right now won't endure forever. We're just passing through. That really gave me hope. Hope that something better is around the corner. Hope that my situation will change, and hope that I won't be here forever. The point of the study is to step up to the next level with God, and that's definitely what I what. I really, really do. Despite everything that's going on, I do want to get closer to Him. I know that He is working everything that has happened, and everything that is happening, in my life for good. And, even though I may not be able to see what He's doing or the purpose behind it, I know He has one, and I don't want to miss it.
Needless to say, but I was feeling much better after I got home from Bible study last night. But, God wasn't done with me yet. My good friend Melissa recommended Max Lucado's In the Grip of Grace to me awhile back. I finally found a copy and I've been reading it. (If you haven't read it, you should. It's a wonderful book!) And, last night part of what I read dealt with the sufficiency of God's grace. In the book, Max Lucado writes about a time when he was praying and thanking God for protecting one of his children. And, he writes that the Lord spoke to him, asking him some questions about his prayer. Primarily, God asked him (and this is a paraphrase from memory), "Would I be any less God if I had let your child die?" And, "Would I be any less loving or deserving of your praise?" The point was that God has given us grace, and His grace is sufficient for us, no matter what is happening in our lives. As I was reading that chapter, I felt God was speaking to me, too.
And, that's what I want. I want to live like I know and believe that God's grace is sufficient for me. No matter what is going on in my life. So, I think it is fitting that Anne Graham Lotz is in town this weekend. She is leading her event Just Give Me Jesus. That's what I want. I want Jesus. More than anything. So, Melissa and I have a hot date tonight to go see Anne Graham Lotz and to get us some Jesus. And, I can't wait!!!
Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Spirit is Groaning

Do you remember that Stevie Wonder song "Superstition?" It has that line, "Thirteen month old baby broke the looking glass; Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past." Well, I'm not superstitious, but sometimes I do wonder what proverbial looking glass I shattered somewhere in my past. And, before I write anything else, I want to apologize to you in advance. I am feeling down in the dumps today, and I admit, I am on the pity pot, so to speak. Please know that I fully recognize the fact that the world doesn't revolve around me or my problems. I also know that there are many, many people out there who have it much worse off than I do, but I need to vent. And, if you are reading this, I would appreciate your prayers.

The last five years have been really rough for me. Every time I turn around, it seems like something is going awry. Things started falling apart about five years ago. At this time five years ago, I was getting ready to graduate from law school. I should have been excited about it, but I wasn't. I had a job that I liked OK, but I lacked any type of direction in my life. I mean, I had never really thought about what I wanted to do, or what I was supposed to be doing. I just kind of pushed forward, grasping on to the first opportunity that presented itself, primarily because I could, but also because it seemed like the easiest option at that time.

Right around that same time, my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer. You see, I hadn't been close to my dad for some time. My familial dysfunction is far too complicated to detail out here in blog world, but I guess some background is necessary for context. At this point, I guess it will suffice to say that my parents were addicts. They weren't able to take care of themselves, let alone their two children. They dumped my brother and I off with our grandparents at a fairly early age. The problem, however, was that they continued to pop back up from time to time, sometimes taking both of us back, sometimes just one of us, only to dump us off again, and always perpetuating the cycle of dysfunction. Despite all the pain they had caused, including moving away without telling their then teenage children, I tried to continue to love them the best I could. They were, after all, my parents. When my dad got my little brother hooked on drugs, I couldn't deal with it anymore, and I cut off contact with him. But, when my dad was diagnosed with colon cancer, I tried to mend our relationship.

My dad had surgery. The doctors thought they got all of the cancer, and things went back to "normal" for awhile. The very next year, however, we lost nearly everything we owned in a fire. We were living in an apartment building at that time, and one night we came home from work only to find flames shooting out of our apartment windows. But we dealt with it, regrouped, and went on with our lives. And, again, for awhile, things went back to "normal."

In the midst of normalcy, however, everything was shaken up again. My brother, who had gotten himself into a serious mess with drugs, decided to steal from his family members to support his drug habit. We changed the locks, and once again, things went back to "normal."

Seven months later, however, my maternal grandmother had a stroke. To have any relative have a stroke would have been traumatic for me, but my grandma, that was devastating. You see, my grandmother was the one who took care of me and my brother when our parents didn't. She was the person who was the closest to me in the entire world. Now, we were very blessed. She didn't die. In fact, she made a remarkable physical recovery. But, mentally. Well, that's a different story. It's been three and a half years, and she still isn't the same. Her personality has changed, and not for the better, and she needs a lot of attention. And, since we live together, most of that responsibility falls to me. (And, in addition to having my grandmother, we also have my grandfather. Thank God, he is relatively healthy. But, he has his own health problems.)

During this same time period, I switched jobs. I've blogged about my issues with my job before, so I'll spare you the details again. Suffice it to say, I get myself into real trouble when I fly off the handle and make decisions on my own.

So, while we were still working through issues with my grandmother and I was getting acclimated to my new job, my dad was diagnosed with liver cancer. I've previously blogged about this as well, but apparently, despite what the doctors had said two years earlier, they had not gotten all of the cancer. Instead, it had spread to his liver. When they found it, the cancer was at Stage IV, and there was nothing the doctors could do for him. He passed away three months later.

I so wish I could end this little vent session there, but I can't. Over that next year, my mother had a very invasive surgery, W. had recurrent problems with his asthma, my paternal grandmother passed away, and George's grandmother passed away. And, that was 2007.

Unfortunately, 2008 hasn't proven to be much better. Already this year, both my mother and my brother were diagnosed with liver diseases, my maternal grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, and W. has been sick, too. Now, once again, I know that in the midst of all of this, we've been blessed. My grandmother's prognosis is excellent, and we're hopeful that my mom and brother will respond to their treatments.

But, it just keeps coming. In just the last couple of weeks, W. has been showing signs of stress. I feel that I need to spend more time with him, but I don't know where to get the time. I'm completely swamped at work. And, I can't get anything done at work because I can't stand it there and feel guilty for not being at home.

And, now my mom is really sick. She is having symptoms that mimic a stroke and has such severe headaches, she can't get out of bed. Right now no one was what is wrong with her, but it looks serious. And, to tell you the truth, I can't handle it. I have no energy left. I'm empty. Completely empty. In fact, I'm so empty, I can't even pray. I try. But, I don't know what to pray. I have no words. I find it slightly ironic that I can't pray now. I'm still really new at this Christian thing. Up until recently, I dealt with all of these problems the only way I knew how. With my own power. But, now I'm trying to give it to God, and I'm trying to pray. But, I can't. I have no words. So, if you read read this, would you say a prayer for me? I obviously could use all the prayers I could get. And, if you're still reading this, thanks for letting me vent.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fear, Control, and the Art of Delegation

Well, it looks like spring may actually be here. It's going to be almost 60 degrees today! I'm excited about that. This winter has been brutal, and I am ready for it to be over. I'm ready to get rid of anything that reminds me of winter, including my now overgrown, winter hair-do. That's right chicas, I have a hair appointment tonight, and I am thrilled. And, if you have had to sit near me recently, I know you are thrilled too. I admit it. My hair has been looking a little scary these days. Kind of like a cross between a skunk and Sasquatch. See, I told you. Scary. Very scary.

Anyway, if you know me well, you know that I change my hair, including its color, approximately once every three months. When someone asks me why I do that, I generally respond with something like, "Because it is one of the few things in my life I can control."

Ah, control. There's a concept. And, once again, it is no surprise to those who know me well, I like to be in control. I mean, generally speaking, my attitude is usually, "Let me do it. Because if you're going to do it, I'm just going to have to do it again anyway." Because, obviously, I am the only person in the whole world who can do it right. ( e.g. when I want it done and exactly how I want it done.)

Over the years, many people have benefited from this attitude. For example, when I had to do group projects in school, people clamored to be in my group. Why? Hello, because I'm so cool. OK, or maybe because I would do all the work. After all, they might mess something up, and my GPA might suffer. Unfortunately, however, this attitude didn't stop when I got out of school. Oh, no. What about W.'s school projects? After all, if I didn't spend hours "helping" him write his one paragraph, fourth grade English papers, making sure that there were no grammatical errors (split infinitives are our enemy), wouldn't that reflect poorly on my parenting ability?

If you would have asked me then, I would have told you that the only person who didn't benefit from my attitude was myself. After all, I was the one who was doing ALL the work. After all, I was the martyr. What I didn't realize then, and what I still don't always realize now, is that while I was correct, I was not benefiting from this attitude, deep down, I sure thought I was. I mean, I was "in control," right? And, isn't that exactly what I wanted?

Unfortunately for me, and for those who live with me, I still haven't completely learned my lesson. I am, with God's help, however, making some progress. For example, recently He has been showing me why I feel the need to always be in control. For me, it comes down to two things: fear and pride. Ultimately, I am afraid that everyone else will let me down. I fear that the only person I can count on is myself. If I don't look out for myself, no one else is going to. But, for me, there is more to it than just fear. My pride also craves control. I want everything to be done, and I want it done as perfectly as it can be. I don't want anything to reflect poorly on me. After all, I need to have it all together, or at least look like I do, don't I? (Yes, I know how silly that sounds, and, yes, I know how ridiculous those thoughts are, but that somehow doesn't stop me from having those thoughts. Delusional, I know.)

I really am in a season right now where I feel completely out of control. And, the more I try to "take control" of any given situation, the more out of control I feel. Right now, I feel out of control in just about every area of my life. And, for someone who needs to be in control, let's just say, that's not pleasant. It's kind of like having a permanent anxiety attack.

And, it's not just me. It seems that my prayer list keeps getting longer and longer these days. All around me, I see people who are in pain, people who are struggling, people who aren't in control of things going on in their lives. I find myself asking God, "why?" Why can't these women I know, or in some cases women I wish I knew, be free from these struggles? Why can't they just be in control of their lives so that everything can be exactly the way the want it to be? Why can't they be free from heartache and pain? And, why can't I have a magic wand to waive over my life and their lives? I mean, I would say bippity-boppity-boo and make everything better. I really would .

So, as I was whining to God about all of this, I felt Him ask me a question. I felt Him ask me, "What do you think you are controlling in your life now?" So, I started thinking. Well, my to-do list. I control my to-do list. But, then God reminded me that I neither control what is on my to-do list nor what actually gets accomplished on that list. And, He is right. When I tried to take control of my to-do list at work last week, I ended up leaving work early two days because W. got sick. So, I tried to think of something else I control in my life. My child, nope. My family members, nope. (Well, maybe George, but shh, don't tell him...) My boss, nope. Other drivers on the road, definitely not. But, come on, there has to be something I control, right?

And, then it hit me: my hair! I control my hair. But, I was shot down there, too. "Really, you control your hair? What do you plan to do to it tonight?" Um, well, good question. Whatever my stylist decides to do to it. She makes all the decisions about my hair. So, I guess she's in control of that, not me. And, as I thought about it, I realized that I do delegate control over my hair to my stylist. I do it because she is the expert when it comes to hair. I do it because I trust her. I do it because I know her. After all, she's been doing my hair for almost a decade.

And, then the light bulb slowly flickered on in my mind. Although Nicki is the one who styles my hair, God put those hairs on my head. He even knows how many there are. So, while Nicki may be my earthly hair expert, God is my heavenly "me" expert. And, while I'm not in control, He is. So, I guess the question is, "Do I trust Him, and do I know Him intimately enough to know His plan is best for me and for those I love?" On an intellectual level, I do know those things, but I have to admit, I'm still a work in progress. It is still is so much easier for me to rush ahead with my plans (you know, just to help Him out) than it is to wait on God. Patience, if you haven't already guessed, is not one of my best character traits. But, I'm trying to be patient, and I'm trying to relinquish my desire for control.
Most of all, however, I'm thankful. I'm thankful that Ephesians 2:10 tells me that I am God's masterpiece, even if I am a work in progress. I'm thankful that God doesn't give up on me no matter how many times I attempt to be in control. I like to think that God's up there in Heaven, sculpting me into something good. I like to think that he is sculpting me into someone who each day is a little more trusting, a little less prideful, and a little closer to Him. And, since God is the master artist, maybe He'll even give me some really great highlights while He's at it. *wink*

Friday, April 11, 2008

Random Shallowness

Disclaimer: If you are looking for a deep, intellectual post, you have come to the wrong blog. It's Friday, I'm tired, and as a result, my brain is not functioning at full capacity. If you are in the mood for complete, random shallowness, however, please continue reading.

In no particular order, the following random topics have entered my mind this morning.

1. Vanilla Ice was arrested yesterday. Now, for anyone who has been reading this blog commentary on my life for awhile, or for any of you who just know me all too well, you know that I have a strange fascination with Vanilla Ice. (Well, I have a strange fascination with a lot of rap music in general.) And, "Ice, Ice Baby" is my karaoke standby. Well, that, or "Bust A Move", or anything by the Beastie Boys, or, well, whatever. The point is that I like to sing "Ice, Ice Baby"...a lot. I know all the words. And, I have to wonder if Ice got arrested on A-1-A Beachfront Avenue? Yes, I did just call him Ice. That's my nickname for him. What? In my world, we're peeps. Does it matter that he doesn't know that? I think not.

2. The evils of Prednisone part 1,000,000. I'm still on Prednisone, and I still am having hot flashes, or "sweating" as the Internet called it. Yep, I looked up the side effects of Prednisone on the Internet, and sure enough, on one of the websites, it indicated that Prednisone could cause "sweating." And, Honey, let me tell ya, that there Internet article was written by a man. Sweating does not begin to describe the misery of Prednisone. Simply put in fifth grade math terms, sweating is not equal to HOTFLASH. But, really, I'm not complaining. I like looking like I haven't showered in a month. It's a good look for me, really. It kind of reminds me of when Nirvana and grunge were "in." So, I guess you can say, I'm bringing grunge back. Maybe you should try it, too. Just don't throw your neck out of place trying to headbang. I've heard that is painful.

3. The evils of Prednisone part 1,000,001. Apparently, in addition to inducing a menopausal like state, Prednisone also makes your face break out with a hundred million zits. OK, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. The point is that Prednisone is obviously a miracle drug. I, mean, what other drug can make you become a thirteen year old, menopausal woman? And, that girls, is priceless. Anyone have any Clearasil or Sea Breeze they want to share? We can have a slumber party and paint each others nails with Cutex nail polish. And, we can walk around with Noxema on our faces while giggling over the latest issue of Tiger Beat. If we get bored, we can TP the boy up the street. Because, after all, he's dreamy.

4. Since I have been having all of these skin issues, I've busted out every skin care product in my bathroom cabinets. And, wow, I have a lot of skin care products. In fact, I think I have something from nearly every skin care brand. I wish I could tell you which ones actually work, but I can't. You see, I suffer from a disease called SCADD, also known as skin care attention deficit disorder. I like buying skin care products, and I don't even mind using them. Once or twice. But, if I haven't seen results by then, well, it's over. I mean, after all, I should have seen results when the nice sales lady swiped my debit card and put my purchase in the bag, right? Instant results, isn't that how it's supposed to work? Imagine my surprise when I found out that you actually have to use the products in order for them to work. They tell me that's a delusion caused by the disease. I'm trying to get help, but I could use some from you, too. What skin care products do you use that actually work? Preferably ones that work quickly. You know, like yesterday.

5. The joy of Prednisone. Well, with all the undesirable side effects, it's about time I can claim a positive one. Apparently. Prednisone can cause weight gain. Rapid weight gain, even. Like several pounds in a few days. That's great. I thought it was all the cookies I ate. But, now I know, it was just the Prednisone. At least that's my story, and I'm stickin' with it.

6. Personal trainers. I've been meaning to hire a personal trainer for awhile now. But, it takes a lot of energy to interview personal trainers, especially when I could just eat cookies. Don't get me wrong. I do want a personal trainer. One exactly like Jillian from the Biggest Loser. She's amazing. And, maybe if I find a trainer like Jillian, I can look like Ali, too. Can we just say "girl power." I'll be tuning in Tuesday to see who is this season's Biggest Loser. And, maybe if I've found a personal trainer by then, I'll be able to watch it without eating cookies. I guess we'll just have to see. Because I'm watching Miss U.S.A. right now, and I'd definitely be eating cookies if I had them (or cookie dough, if someone would share.)

Well, that's probably enough random shallowness from me for one day. I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

God Stop

"Heather will do anything for a t-shirt," is a common saying in our house. George tells me that every time I come home with a new t-shirt from some event I've been to, or when "mysterious" charges to non-profit organizations appear on our bank or credit card statements.

For example, I rode this ride at the Iowa State Fair last summer so I could get the t-shirt that proclaimed I had survived my ride on the Skyscraper.

I rode it when a thunderstorm was moving in, so I think it is safe to say that I have some issues. And, even though I wasn't in Tennessee (where this video was taped), I'm pretty sure you could have heard me scream in Tennessee. But, I survived, and I got my t-shirt.

Now, I've also been to many, many concerts in my day. And, yep, you guessed it. I always get a t-shirt. I have so many t-shirts that I have an entire dresser devoted to them.

But, I don't get just get my t-shirts at the Fair or concerts. I have also gotten t-shirts by walking many, many miles for a lot of different charitable organizations. I have also gotten t-shirts by serving at many different events for myriad organizations. And, when I walk to raise money for cancer, or I volunteer at an event to raise awareness and to help the refugees from Darfur, I obviously get more than a t-shirt. I get the wonderful opportunity to be a part of something that is helping others, and I love that.

So, while I guess it is true that sometimes I will do anything for a t-shirt, other times the t-shirt is just the added bonus I get for helping someone else out. I mean, I'm the type of person who will order something from every child who comes to our door peddling something. Even if that means I end up with several Entertainment books or more cookie dough than I should eat. (I was going to say could eat, but that really wouldn't have been true...I can eat a lot of cookie dough!) And, I will donate to your cause, especially if you catch me on the telephone. I think I am totally incapable of saying "no" to cute children, or, even worse, cute old people. (I also like the Home Shopping Network, but that's a post for another time...) In other words, I'm an easy mark. You can see me coming from a mile away. I have a capital "S" tattooed on my forehead. Which, as my friend Cindy told me, obviously stands for "saint." *wink*.

Now, you are probably wondering, "Why is she rambling on about this stuff?" Well, that's a very good question. You see, you need to understand this background information, so you can understand my latest God-Stop.

When we walked into the Women of Faith conference a couple of weekends ago, I had said that I really wanted to buy a new tote bag and a water bottle. But, I was too lazy to stand in line right then, and I thought I'd come back later during a break. While we were sitting in the conference, Mary Graham started to give a presentation about World Vision, and she asked that everyone consider sponsoring a child. Now, we already sponsor one child through Compassion, so I wasn't exactly listening. But, then this happened. Mary Graham said to the audience, "If you sign up to sponsor a child this weekend, you will receive a World Vision tote bag and a water bottle." WHAT?!? A tote bag and a water bottle? You have to be kidding me, right? And, I immediately thought to myself, "Are you there God? It's me, Heather." I mean obviously God was there, and I thought He was trying to tell me that I needed to sponsor a child.

So, the next morning, I decided I would go "look" at the World Vision table. You know, just to see. Because, after all, maybe I was blowing what had happened the night before out of proportion. Maybe God wasn't really trying to tell me that I needed to sponsor a child. Maybe it was all in my head. So, I went to the table. And, who came rushing up to see if I needed any assistance? The cutest older woman I had EVER seen. She called me "honey" and patted my hand. Clearly, she was too much for me to resist. I was completely overwhelmed by her. All 90 pounds of her. And, while this may seem silly, it was confirmation to me that I was, indeed, supposed to sponsor a child.

So, we are now the proud sponsors of Yvonne, a seven year old girl from the Congo. And, I think that is exciting. But, I'm even more excited that the God of the universe would show His will to me by speaking my love language. Even if that language is a water bottle and tote bag wrapped up nicely by the cutest old woman I have ever seen.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Stricken and Afflicted

Alright, ya'll. I'm STILL sick!! I'm trying very hard to maintain a good attitude, but it is getting increasingly difficult to do. The good news is that, for the most part, I can breathe out of both nostrils. My sinuses are less bad Botoxyish, which that is good. But, my throat is still sore, and it still hurts to talk. But that's not the worst. I mean, hello, get a load of my new symptoms. Last night I was trying to sleep, and we all know how much I like my sleep, when I was rudely awakened by a pain in my left foot. Well, at first, I thought that it was just a cramp, and I tried to ignore it. But, obviously, hell hath no fury like a left foot scorned. And, I'm not even Daniel Day Lewis. Instead of going away, though, my foot started to throb. It also felt like it was on FIRE. Seriously. Like it was burning from the inside out. So, I did what any other sane, sleep-loving person would do. I rolled over and went back to sleep.
Remember that scorned thing? Yep, you guessed it. The pain only got worse. I woke up two hours later to a throbbing, burning feeling, moving further up my leg. And, the pain, girlfriends, was EXCRUCIATING! I was freezing cold, and the pain was so severe, I had the shakes. (And, truly, I am not exaggerating. At all.) In fact, the pain was so bad, it rates right up there with the pain I experienced giving birth to W. And, don't forget, I had a C-section without an epidural. So, I think you get the point. So, what did I do? I headed straight for the Vicodin. And, then I tried to go back to sleep.
The Vicodin helped a little, but I figured I probably should go to the doctor. So, I did. I guess viruses can do strange things, including causing nerve problems. Hence the leg pain. And apparently, this pain can last up to a week. Great. Just what I wanted. (Trying to have a good attitude...) The doctor put me on Prednisone to help with the pain.
Which brings me to part two of this little saga. The evils of Prednisone. I took my medicine exactly as my doctor ordered, and let's just say, it had some, um, undesirable side effects. Side effects that were not listed on the insert. I mean NO WHERE on the insert did it state that Prednisone causes early onset MENOPAUSE!!! Uh huh, laugh if you want to, but homie ain't playin'. I had all the symptoms. Headache, fatigue, irritability, and hot flashes. HOT FLASHES!!! Seriously. Well, it was really like one, six hour hot flash. I mean, I turned the air conditioner on in my office and turned it down to 60 degrees. My secretary wouldn't even come in my office because she thought it was so cold in there. And, ladies, if I would have guessed, I would have said it was at least 120 degrees in there. Alright, 85 degrees might be more like it. But not a degree less. Not one degree less. I was sweating so much, I looked like I had run the Boston marathon. And, if I would have have burned the million calories I would have burned if I had run the Boston marathon (assuming I would have survived the marathon, but we won't talk about that), I wouldn't be complaining. But, I didn't. Instead, I only burned approximately 60 calories. 20 by repeatedly fanning myself with my legal pad, and 40 from repeatedly picking my pantyhose off my sweaty backside. Someone, please tell me menopause won't be this bad!!!!!
Guess what? I'm so excited. I have eight more days of the Prednisone. I can't wait!! I'm thrilled. Can't you tell I'm thrilled? And, I really am trying to have a good attitude. Really. Obviously, I could use some prayers. Lots and lots of prayers! And, for those of you wonderful women I will see tomorrow night at book club, I could also use some chocolate. And, some Secret, preferably clinical strength.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Why I'll Probably Never Succeed at Blogging

Well, I'm alive. My sinus infection hasn't killed me, and my nose isn't running any more. So, I guess that's saying something, and I would guess it had to do with your prayers. Today, I suffered through another day at the office. I prayed really hard all the way to work this morning, asking God to help me have a good attitude today. And, he is faithful. I made it through the entire day and only thought about leaving germs on my boss' stuff once. A major victory, if you ask me. And, I'm hoping to be able to breathe out of both nostrils soon. I know you were waiting for that information.

Anyway, other than my little health update, I really have nothing to blog about. My weekend, as I predicted, was filled with Kleenex and TV. Very exciting. Really. During commercials, I would talk to myself in order to ascertain if my voice still sounded raspy. You know, a la Sophia Loren. My friend from college didn't end up visiting, so on Saturday I made comfort food. And, if I can ever figure out how to link, I might even share the recipes. (OK, I definitely would share, especially since I got them from other, wonderful blogs!)

Ladies (and George), that was the extent of my weekend. And, as I am sitting here trying to figure out what to blog about, it dawns on me. I will probably never succeed at this blogging endeavor. My life is just too boring. I read a lot of wonderful blogs; blogs with witty and engaging posts. But, here, you get a yawn. Seriously. You don't believe me. OK, this was my day today. Got up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. (Sorry, I couldn't resist). I was in my office by 7:00 a.m., and I spent the majority of my day arguing about what the words "other than" mean in the context of an exclusion contained in an insurance policy. (Yes, I'm serious. Bored yet?) Drove home. Debated dinner options with George for what seemed like an eternity. Helped cook dinner, ate dinner, and cleaned up the kitchen. Spent an eternity with W. solving for X. Yelled at W. to finish his homework, to brush his teeth and to get to bed. Tried to watch the end of the NCAA championship game. And, now, here I am. Exciting, isn't it. And, tomorrow I get to do it all over again.

So, since that's all I have to say (because there is no more to say), I will leave you with pictures of my monkey. Remember, Grand Master Monkey? I told you I have a stuffed monkey. And, you thought I was kidding. Ha! So, here is Grand Master, hanging out with Melissa's monkey at Women of Faith. Judge for yourself, but I think they were having a lover's quarrel.

"I love you."

(That's Grand Master on the left. Doesn't he look fierce?)

"I can't believe you!"

"Let's talk about this."

"Hmmph. I'll just eat chocolate."

Well, with that wonderful monkey skit, I bid you all a good night. If my sinus infection hasn't killed me by tomorrow, and if Priscilla Presley doesn't ask for her face back, I might be back tomorrow. Maybe I'll have something to blog about...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Alright, That's It. I'm Moving!

OK, I've had it. I am SOOO sick today. My sinuses are so swollen, I look like I've had some bad Botox injections! And, my throat hurts and my nose is running. I tried to call in sick today, but I was told I needed to come in anyway. I guess that's the bad part about having a job where you have no established sick leave policy. Please pray for me today. Not just because I'm sick (although that would be awesome), but also because I'm walking around my office, doing my best to leave germs all over my boss' stuff. Yep, that's right. I have a rotten attitude. In case you are wondering, I'm blaming it on the fever.
Oh, and I'm also blaming it on the snow. Yes, that's right, it snowed here yesterday. Last time I checked, it is April, right? Now, I know that we occasionally get snow in April, but come on. Hasn't it snowed enough this year???? This weather is enough to drive me crazy, and depending on who you ask, some might say it already has driven me crazy.
And, if I can whine just a little bit more, I was supposed to have a good weekend. I had plans to go out with a couple of my friends tonight, and tomorrow my best friend from college was coming from Illinois to visit me. But, oh no, not now. Now the only plans I have are to sit on my couch with a box of Kleenex and watch re-runs of Law and Order.
So, I've made a decision. We're moving. Where, I don't know, but I can tell you this. It'll be somewhere where it doesn't snow in April. Or, ever, for that matter. We'll start packing just as soon as I can effectively delegate that task to my boys. But, right now my throat is too sore to talk....

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Women of Faith and Bodily Functions

Whew! I survived a busy weekend and a VERY trying Monday. And, the nature of my Monday accounts for the tardiness of this post, but more about that later. Right now, I'm going to do my best to tell you about my weekend, but please be forewarned. I am having one of those days where all my thoughts are jumbled together in my head. It's kind of like someone hit the fast forward button in my brain, and now my thoughts are flying through at record speeds. Unfortunately, I can't interpret them at those speeds. Instead, they sound an awful lot like Alvin and the Chipmunks. And, I could never really understand them either. Well, other than the fact that they wanted their two front teeth for Christmas. And, I always thought that was a strange request from Santa Claus..But, as usual, I digress.

So, where do I begin? I went to Women of Faith last weekend with two of my girlfriends. And, can I just say, I loved them both before I left, but I love each of them even more now! They really are two awesome women, and I had a wonderful time. Oh, and in case you are wondering, I apparently neither talked in my sleep nor wandered off. Of course, that may have been because I never made it to REM sleep. We stayed up until 3:00 a.m! But, isn't that really what you are supposed to do when you have sleepovers with your girlfriends?
I think I mentioned before that I had never been to a Women of Faith conference. I'm not sure that I had any clear idea of what to expect, but it wouldn't have mattered. The conference was better than I ever expected it would be. I knew who was going to be speaking and performing at the conference before I got there. For example, I knew that Max Lucado was going to be speaking, and I knew that Nicole C. Mullen was going to be performing. And, it was their presentations and performances that I was looking forward to. Other than reading some of Sheila Walsh's books, I hadn't heard anything about the remainder of the Women of Faith speakers. And, to to be honest, I wasn't sure any of the rest of the speakers would be able to hold my attention or "speak to me." After all, they were older women who had white hair. Hello!!! Sometimes, I can be so dense, and I make my own, very poor, very inaccurate judgments about others. (And did I mention that the Women of Faith theme this year is God's grace. How appropriate, especially since I need A LOT of it.)
They were the best! They were all very joyful, very funny, godly women. There was no question about it; each of them spoke to me. I could go on and on about their funny stories and their messages, but I don't want to ruin anything for anyone else who might be going to see the conference. Suffice it to say, it is my prayer that when I get to be an older woman myself, that I be just like them. Well, with the exception of the white hair. I'm not quite there yet. But, I definitely want to be as joyful, funny, and godly as each of those women.
Of course, I thoroughly enjoyed Max Lucado and Nicole C. Mullen. I know I've told you before, but I'll tell you again, she is my favorite!!! I had never seen her in person or heard her live before, but she was even better than I imagined she would be. Oh, and she is so cute! Awesome.
But, it was over all too soon. Back to reality. Back to dealing with things mothers have to deal with. Back to dealing with dunanuhna...bowel movements. (Yes, that's my best attempt at writing out that scary music they play in the movies. You know, the music that played before the sharks appeared during the Jaws movies? Come on. Work with me here, people!)

WARNING: The following content may not be suitable for people who are eating, people who have recently eaten, people with weak stomachs, and/or people who never read the book Everyone Poops. You know, those people who will only poop at their own home, in their own bathrooms, when no one else is around. You know who you are...

Yes, I said bowel movements. You see W. has been having some problems with those over the last couple of weeks. Ever since he was really sick with the stomach flu, which apparently was the root of this problem. Anyway, we had taken him to the doctor because he was vomiting in the mornings. Who knew that constipation could cause vomiting? Well, anyway, we thought the problem had resolved itself, but Saturday morning during praise and worship I got a phone call from W., informing me that he had thrown up again. So, we followed the doctor's instructions and made an appointment to go see him on Monday. Monday came, and W. and I went to the doctor. The doctor examined W., and the good news was he didn't have an impaction. But why is it that with every bit of good news, there usually must be some bad news? And, in this particular case, there was some very, bad news.

The bad news was that I had to give him an enema. A what???? You have to be kidding me, right? Now, I understood that when W. was born, I received my badge to be an honorary member of the Poop Patrol. Like all mothers before me, I watched W's bowel movements, and proudly reported their characteristics to the doctor when he asked about them. I know, I know, just call me Sergeant Heather of the First Poop Brigade. But, I've got to tell you ladies (and George), I thought I got the opportunity to retire from the Poop Patrol after potty training was completed. But, alas, your Poop Patrol duties are never really over. So, that's exactly why I called in the reinforcements: General Great-Grandma of the First Poop Brigade. Well, that and I'm a big chicken. I had never seen an enema up close, but I knew she had. And, I knew that she still carried her Poop Patrol badge with pride. I mean, why else did she always ask if I was regular? And, she did not disappoint. She took hold of the enema situation with great authority. Well, as much authority as one could have when one is attempting to give an enema to a 100 pound ten year old. A ten year old who is as tall as you are. A ten year old whose feet are bigger than your feet. A ten year old who does not want to get into a modified version of downward facing dog pose...So, really no one had any authority over this situation. At all. Except for maybe W.
Fast forward TWO hours. Two hours later I was really wishing that Fleet Enemas came with a shot of vodka and a sedative. (What, don't act so shocked. You try to give an enema to a ten year old, then we'll talk about it. Desperate times call for desperate measures. And, I'm just kidding anyway...) But, since they don't, I settled for one Diet Coke, two Advil, and three Rice Krispie bars.
And, that, my friends, is why I didn't post last night. By the time the whole ordeal was over, I felt like I had been through the war. (Have you ever wondered what war is referred to in that saying? Anyway, I suppose it doesn't matter. Any war would do, but I felt like I had been through a big one, possibly even World War III...)

But, here it is. My long awaited post about poop. I just know a Pulitzer Prize is right around the corner. And, when it arrives, I will hang it on the wall, right next to my honorary badge from the Poop Patrol.