Strength in the Face of Adversity

strength in weakness

*****I sit here at one of the most difficult moments of my life.  Each day as I help my ailing father, I face a reality that many have faced before me.  The pounding headache, the tension in my muscles and the sick feeling of dread are my constant companions.  I finally made the phone call to the hospice chaplain to relay my physical and mental state.  She reassures me my exhaustion is typical.  I cannot concentrate or focus on anything for very long.  Symptoms made worse by yet another disappointment.  I reach out to those who I know will pray on my behalf.  My strength is failing.  I need a break from all of this.  The nursing assistant comes just in the nick of time.  Her presence means I can have a whole hour to myself worry free.  I dress and head out of the house.  In the span of a short hour, I transform from a tired basket case and began to appreciate the beautiful August weather.  As I walk through one of my favorite stores, I lose myself in the moment and I have permission to be me if only for a few stolen moments.  I reflect this evening as I sit at my father’s side.  The sting of him not recognizing is beginning to wear off.  I am still for a moment and realize I am not unraveling.  The phone call that ended badly was sobering, but I am still standing.  My prayer warriors have done their job.  God has honored their request.  I am living proof of that.  The Lord tells us His strength is made perfect in our weakness.  Thank you Lord for your strength this day.

Advertisements

Funeral Arrangements-Part 2

father daughter-top banner

*****It won’t be long now.  I knew that as soon as the hospice nurse checked my dad’s oxygen levels.  He didn’t recognize me or the nurse.  His words were unrecognizable.  I leaned over my father and kissed his forehead.  I thanked him for being my father.  I thanked him for passing on his work ethic.  I thanked him for providing for me and my siblings.  I thanked him for everything he did for me as a child and all things he did for me as an adult.   I glanced down at my watch to check the time.  It was a gift from my father.  As I walk around my house his generosity is everywhere.  All of the really nice things in my house were gifts from my father.    The hall table, the sideboard, the dining room table and matching chairs, the curtains, the bookcase, the TV stand, the media cabinet with the flat screen TV, and the curio cabinet to celebrate the big 4-0.  It’s not the material things, but the expression of love and the desire to see me have the things I wanted.  It’s so easy to say, “I love you”, but those words must be coupled with complimentary actions.  It’s staying in a bad marriage to preserve the family unit.  It’s getting up and going to work every day to keep food on the table.  It’s setting aside savings to send kids to college.  It’s paying bills on time to show the example of responsibility.  It’s all of those things and many more.  It’s why I am the woman I am today.  It’s why I value hard work and sacrifice.  It’s why my word is my bond.  It’s why I value education and hold two degrees.  I am my father.  I am an extension of his hopes and unfulfilled dreams.  I hope I have made him proud and why I am proud to call him my father.  I love you Daddy.

father daughter-bottom banner

Funeral Arrangements

Letting Go

Letting Go

           A week that started with a night of camping to catch the Perseid Meteor Shower got progressively worst.  Thursday morning, I awoke to find my Dad lying on the bathroom floor.  I had no idea how long he had been there.  After much effort, it was clear I would not be able to lift him back on his feet.  Thank God, a fire station is located within our subdivision.  A brief chat with one of the firemen and minutes later they were at my home assisting me in getting my Dad back to bed.  It was his third fall in a matter of weeks.  There was no denying the reality of his illness.  It was time to do what I had been putting off for weeks.  It was time to make his funeral arrangements.  Luckily, I had already done my research and I chose a funeral home that had serviced my family in the past.  I retrieved the folder from my office desk and made the phone call.  Nina, our pre-need advisor was great and faxed me the contracts and within a matter of hours the arrangements were made.  I still had one more phone call to make.  It was to a local funeral home that would handle shipping my Dad back to our home town when the time came.  Anthony was great and explained the transport process and the items I needed to provide.  As I drove home, mixed emotions pulled me back and forth.  I was glad that everything had been finalized and grateful that I had the presence of mind to be proactive, but my heart was heavy because I knew the end was near.  I had several other appointments after my visit to the funeral home.  I knew I had to carry on as I will have to carry on in the days ahead.  Scripture tells us that God will not put more on us than we can bare and that His grace is sufficient.  I know one day I would look back on this time and marvel at my composure, but for now I must walk through the fire to reach the other side.

hand

        


Keep It Moving

Lulu Lake Clouldland Canyon 057

If you are not familiar with Murphy’s Law then see the refresher below:

“Anything that can possibly go wrong, does.”

This could not be more true than at the most inopportune moment for something to go wrong.  Admittedly, I’ve been guilty of more than one meltdown when something has gone wrong.  The expletives, the spinning in circles, the hands thrown in the air…yeah, you know the routine.  When I’ve exhausted myself from my emotional outburst, I catch sight of the calmer head that immediately regroups and formulates a plan despite the setback.  They know how to “keep it moving.”

I’d love to say this is my first reaction, but it’s not.  I migrate to it later, but there is something to be said for those calmer heads.  Recently on a waterfall hike, I witnessed someone else’s meltdown.  It wasn’t pretty.  Emotions were running high.  It was definitely a frustrating situation and the whole group got caught up in the emotion.  The key take away for me is that negativity is contagious and is an impediment to progress.  Looking up at the beautiful waterfall helped me put it all in perspective.  The water never gets upset for going over the edge.  It lands at the bottom of the pool and keeps moving!!

The X-Hiker Wife One Year Anniversary

Shoal Creek Church

Tent packed.  Check.  Sleeping bag packed.  Check.  Water packed.  Check.  I head downstairs to my pantry.  Food packed. No.  I grab at least six cans of various foods items and head out my back door.  Backpack on back and I decide on the same four and half mile trek I take on my runs.  Not on a trail, but right here in my neighborhood.  I am conditioning for my upcoming backpacking trip on the Pinhoti Trail in Alabama.  I do this several times leading up to the actual trip in order to get ready for the ten mile through hike on the trail.  Within 30 minutes my shoulders and feet begin to ache.  I am not used to carrying an additional thirty pounds of weight and my body is rebelling.  I push on and I make it back to my back door.  Thank God that’s over with.

The big day arrives.  I meet my fellow hikers at the assigned meet up spot and we head over to the trail head in Alabama.  Temperatures hover in the mid-forties for most of the morning.  I secretly wonder if this is what it will be like tonight.  Before we embark upon our journey we make a stop.  Our car creeps up to very old structure in the middle of a wooded area.  Later, I would find out it was the Talladega National Forest.  At first glance, anyone could tell this primitive structure was built long ago.  As I stepped inside and looked at the bare interior, I wondered about the lives of early settlers in the area.  This was Shoal Creek Church.  The structure was in built in 1895.  No doubt this church has been site of an untold number of celebrations and gatherings.  That was precisely the reason I was there today.  A couple on our hiking trip were married in that church and was there to celebrate their one year anniversary.  Needless to say, there aren’t many structures remaining from the 1890’s and this is one of the few remaining hand hewn log churches. The craftsmanship and quality of construction allowed this building to weather many storms.  Buildings constructed after it had fallen, but this still stands as a testament to the determination and will to survive of the early settlers.

The serenity of the woods, the gentle flow of water and this church gave me a new perspective on life.  I had to ask myself, what I am building that will stand the test of time?  Is it a friendship, a marriage or some other life’s work?  I don’t know the answer, but I am willing to find out.

Downton Abbey Withdrawal

Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey

 

             The third season of Downton Abbey on PBS has ended and much to my dismay with two beloved characters:  Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley meeting untimely deaths.  Both departures left me saddened by their tragic ends, but also left me wondering why Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens would leave a popular show where the audience grows every year.  I am guessing they wanted to capitalize on the popularity of the series by exploring other roles while their stars still shined brightly.  Jessica Brown Findlay is starring in new movie with Russell Crowe called Winter’s Tale and Dan Stevens recently starred in a play on Broadway called The Heiress.  I wish them all the best and I am eager to see them in new roles.  However, the series continues on with compelling story lines of the upstairs and downstairs characters.  I love watching the machinations of conniving lady’s maid O’Brien and tortured valet Thomas Barrow.  Lady Edith’s evolution leaves us wondering where her new role as magazine columnist and modern women will take her.  The third season pulled out all the stops from Lady Edith being jilted at the altar by Sir Anthony Strallan, the death of two characters, fortunes won and lost and the ultimate move from downstairs to upstairs by former chauffeur Tom Branson. 

Change in many forms have touched Downton as it moves into the post-war era world of the 1920’s, but now that the series has ended its third season we have to wait a whole calendar to get the next installment.  I, on the other hand scavenge the internet for episode spoilers when broadcasting begins in the UK  My appetite is insatiable when it comes to Downton Abbey and I can’t wait until next January for the new season to begin. I don’t feel in any way cheated when episodes finally air in the US. For me, it fills in the gaps and spoilers never give all the juicy details. 

Downton Abbey is a wonderfully written series and was like a breath of fresh air when I discovered it halfway through the first season. I have been hooked ever since.  I am not alone as the series is popular in countries spanning the globe.  Against the backdrop of so much reality TV, it’s nice to see compelling characters with dignity and grace as they bring us the world of a bygone era.  I wonder if that’s part of the appeal.  Maybe our shock value nerve has been overexposed to what’s offered on both network and cable TV.  Maybe the viewing audience was ready for a well written drama sans nudity, profanity and all the others elements that would give the show an explicit rating.  It’s also exposed me to the valuable asset of public broadcasting and I have become a financial supporter of my local broadcaster.  I am thankful for Julian Fellowes for creating Downton Abbey and grateful for PBS for bringing this show to viewers like you and me.

A Product of My Environment

Image

 

          I am a product of my environment.  Unopened mail on the floor, a mound of clothes in the bathroom and a layer of dust thick enough for me to write my name in the mirror makes me feel like a loser.  The bigger the mess, the harder it is for me to get motivated to do something about it.  I call it my slippery slope and I avoid it all costs. 

After having lived in apartments for most of my adult life, I crossed the threshold of home ownership a few years back and I took it to heart to maintain my investment. Day after day, I would walk around my new home being very proud of what I now owned, but as the months passed and the bare walls looked back at me I knew something had to change.  The flat, eggshell paint that came standard in new homes was slowly eating away at my happiness.  The bare walls and the lifeless color did not reflect who I was.  I needed some color and I needed it now.  A visit to my local home store was the remedy I was looking for.  My eye examined each paint sample hoping to find a color that inspired me, a color that filled me. I found the perfect color for the living room and in subsequent trips I would select colors for my dining room, hallway, bedroom and finally my office. 

Each painting project turned an uninspiring canvas into a warm place I call home.  The earth tone colors were an outward expression of my inner spirit and visitors to my home always comment on the colors I’ve selected.  I am sitting here in my office now.  It was my most recent painting project.  Prior to painting and organizing my office, I was unable to get anything done in there.  I had to go downstairs to my dining room to be in an environment that gave me inspiration.  The color I selected for my office is called “Gentle Rain.”  I am soothed by the silvery, gray color and every time I enter, I am inspired by the neatly organized book collection.  As a writer, I need my mind to be unencumbered so my creativity can flow with ease.  I am glad to be back in my office doing what I love to do.  My home reflects who I am and inspires me to live in harmony with those around me.  To someone else, it may seem trivial that a gallon of paint can be this transformative, but to me it’s a balanced approach to life.  It’s creating an environment I can thrive in and that has made a world of difference.