Monthly Archives: August 2014

Ordinary Days of grace . . .

It’s been a day when I should have been counting my blessings, I suppose, but it has been quite a day.  Actually, my week has been less than wonderful.  Blind Linda has been sick, coughing until it sounds like she is going to drown herself with whatever it is in her lungs.  I had an order for a chest X-ray, blood work and urinalysis in her big black book, so I took her in yesterday morning and got that all done and scheduled an appointment for today.

So she has been home, sitting in the sun room, listening to music and to the sounds of the open windows; birds chirping happily just outside on the feeders, Jays screaming their protests at the passing cat, traffic going along on the road, and even cicadas and crickets making their noisy addition to the late summer sounds.  I go in and out, making one sided conversation, and worrying a bit about how sick she seemed.  Then last night, I suddenly had a vicious sore throat of my own.  I decided to see how it was when I took her to the doctor today.

The good news was that she didn’t have pneumonia, didn’t have anything our of line on her bloodwork, and didn’t have a urinary tract infection.  She sat miserable and hot and silent in the doctor’s office while he listened and thumped around.

Dr. Wilson was his usual cheerful self.  He praised all that was good, then said that she had an acute bronchitis infection and that he was going to write her a prescription different from the ones that she has had over the last six weeks.  I hate to give her antibiotics so frequently, but this particular individual has behaviors that lend themselves to infections.  She won’t cough unless she is overcome by one and then she tries to squelch it.  She sits compacted together and nothing seems to induce her to breathe deeply.  Of course, this lends itself to pneumonia.  And she has perfected the art of not going to the bathroom completely while on the toilet.  Instead, she holds it until she is in bed, then she can soak through her protective underwear, down to turning the protective pad into an almost dripping mess.  She has been a little out of sorts, anyhow, though I’ve thought it was from not feeling well.  Of course she never says, and I can only guess.

I had a terribly long wait in the doctor’s office today, with my appointment being at 2:45 and not getting back into the examining room until 4:20.  Because everything was so late, I almost didn’t mention my sore throat to him, but it was hurting “worser and worser,” so I decided I would at least run it past him.  I told him that I would pay for an office visit on my way out, and he did a quick exam.  Pronounced me sick as well, and wrote out a script for Amoxicillin.

It is somewhat of a circus when I take Linda anywhere, but it is especially difficult when I go to the doctor.  I have my purse, her big black book and any instructions that the doctor gives me plus HER.  And she has been stumbling more and more lately so that I need to be especially careful when I am walking her anywhere.  But I organized myself after this office visit, paid my co-pay for my “appointment” and then maneuvered Linda through the corridor, around a corner, through two doors and got her into the van and strapped in and we were on our way to the pharmacy.

Excepting that, when I got to the pharmacy, I couldn’t find Linda’s prescription.  I looked and looked and looked, through my purse, through her black book, in between the pages of her book.  Nothing.  Come to think of it, he had written the prescription on my paperwork for the state, he had written it on her record, but I honestly could not remember him handing me the actual prescription.  I couldn’t say that he hadn’t, but I certainly didn’t remember ever receiving it.  By now it was five o’clock, and a good bit past closing time at the doctor’s office.  But then, there were still at least four patients after me, still patiently waiting.  So I dropped off my prescription and flew back to the office.  One of the office gals was leaving.  One was emptying trash, the office nurse was going over charts.

“Is there any chance that the prescription for Levaquin get left in Linda’s chart?” I asked breathlessly, as I spread Linda’s black book out and continued to riffle through the pages in search of the elusive script.

They were not impressed.  Unfortudiously they never seem to be impressed by any of my desperation.  “I wouldn’t know,” said the one.  “She would have to look it up.” And she nodded in the direction of the nurse.  The nurse handed her the chart and she looked over it.  “Nope,” she said.  “It isn’t here.  It wouldn’t have been here, anyhow.  He always hands that to the patient.  We never see it.”

“I know, and he usually does, but when I got to the pharmacy, I couldn’t find it, and I don’t remember him handing it to me.”

“Well, you can just wait and when he comes out, you can see if he will rewrite it for you.”

So I stood in the long corridor again and waited.  Eventually he came out and obligingly rewrote the script.  “I’m sorry,” he said, “I must have just –”

“I’m sorry,” I interrupted him.  “I may have misplaced it somehow.   I just can’t find it anywhere.”

“Well,” he said then, “I’m pretty sure that I remember writing it.  When you find it (and I think you probably will) just throw it away and use this one.”

“You got it,” I said, “and thanks!”  I took my precious prescription and headed out to my car.  I looked again through my purse, in my planner and organized a few things before taking off.  Suddenly, I was aware of the office nurse standing at my car window.  She was holding Linda’s precious black book.

“I think you might want this,” she said cheerfully.

“Oh, yes,” I breathed gratefully.  “I really need that.  Thanks so much!”  I headed out again for the pharmacy, hauled Linda in with me and waited for it to be filled.  It took hardly any time at all.  And then I came on home.

When I walked in, I noticed that Our Girl Audrey was shelling lima beans for all she was worth.  I had picked a very full five gallon bucket this morning and I wondered briefly if she would be able to shell them all this evening.  She did!  I was so happy.  I decided to go ahead and get them into the freezer.  Audrey had said that a great deal of them were “no good,” and I had noticed a larger amount of discarded beans among the empty pods.  Ever the snoopy gal, I had checked them and found them to truly be less than “Grade A” so I began to sort the ones that she had kept.

It’s a funny thing about beans.  Sometimes you can put a picking that looks pretty good into the blancher and it comes out looking rather sorry.  And sometimes I will think, “These beans don’t look the greatest!” and then they come out looking pretty good.  But tonight it was one of those times when the beans went in looking rather inferior and came out clearly defined as needing a heavy handed sorting.

This morning in the patch, I listened to the many sounds and felt like fall was coming on.  I wondered how many more pickings I was going to get off the 2014 patch.  An early hail storm had set things back a bit and the stink bugs are sneaking around and wreaking havoc.  I had close to a half a pound of discards in my batch tonight of five pounds for the freezer.

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If it wasn’t so disgusting, it would be interesting, A bean can look almost perfect, but sometimes I will notice a small irregularity in shape and if I tear off the thin skinned outer covering, this is what the inside looks like.   While other gardener’s beans have broken records this year for production, I can honestly say that this has been my least productive year by a long shot and the ratio of misshapen “I should probably not ingest that” kind of  beans to the pretty ones  is disproportionate.

Does this mean I am going to give up?  Not pick?  NOPE!  I’m so grateful for the beans I’ve been able to get into the freezer. (21 lbs. as of tonight) and if Our Girl Audrey can shell them, I can sort and wash and blanch and sort and bag them up.  I will be so glad next winter.

And now, I’m taking this sore throat and achy body to bed.  It’s about time.

And in spite of this disappointing day, My heart gives grateful praise.

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Missing Church

I didn’t get to go to church this morning.  Blind Linda is ailing again, and when her fever was 101 last night, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to go.

Can I just say that I HATE missing church?  When I came out of her bedroom last night after taking the final temp for the day, I said to Certain Man, “It’s a hundred and one.  I hate to think of not going to church tomorrow!”

“Why would that be?” He asked, half absentmindedly.  He was working on a sermon and this negates lucid conversation at least part of the day while he is putting the finishing touches on the message.

I was more than a little vehement.  “For one reason,” I said, “This is the last sermon you are preaching before your sabbatical.”  (Certain Man is taking a six month leave of his position on the leadership team beginning September 1st.  He will continue serving as deacon, but he has asked to be relieved of all the other responsibilities.)  “And the other thing is,” I went on, “every single time I miss church it seems like something important happens.  I’m afraid to stay home for fear I will miss something!”

He didn’t say much.  He is used to his wife going off on such tangents.  His way of dealing with it is to neither agree nor disagree.

This morning the fever was still hanging around 100 and Blind Linda was coughing a deep, troublesome cough.  I resigned myself to staying home and sent my good husband off with promises to pray for him while he was preaching and settled in for a quiet morning.

But boy!  Oh, boy!!!  Did I ever miss important stuff by being home.

The service started off with an announcement of an engagement.  Our very own Amy Jones is going to marry that Tyler Schrock.  Not that we are surprised, but I really wanted to HEAR it for myself, see the shining faces, rejoice with our church family at the good news and congratulate them for myself.  I am so happy for them.  Tyler and Amy make a good team, and I am always glad when young people embark on the sea of life and love with some moorings.  They have them.

But then, after church, there was another engagement announcement.  Mary Beth Sharp is marrying Preston Tice!  Mary Beth and her family were absent, so there wasn’t the chance to do the congratulating, but it still would have been fun to be there when the message came through.  I missed it.

In addition to all the excitement, I missed the good, good fellowship of our “older” women’s Sunday school class.  I draw strength from these women, beloved sisters.  We listen to each other, laugh together, cry together and seek to encourage each other.  It is a precious time and I look forward to it each week.  I missed hearing what was going on in their lives and the easy camaraderie that we share in the forty-five minutes we have on Sunday morning.

And then, in addition to missing Daniel’s sermon, I missed the singing before the sermon and the sharing period that follows.  There is just much feeding for my soul that goes on and when I have to miss, I feel out of sorts, out of sync, out of the loop.

And I REALLY hate to miss good stuff like engagement announcements.

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Poured Out

I was standing in my sunny kitchen. It was the morning after our family reunion. It had been a glorious weekend — lots of good exchanges, wonderful food, incredible singing and familiar faces. It was well planned and things went smoothly. I had reasons to rejoice, but I felt so incredibly sad.

Most of the weekend had been colored by my Sweet Mama’s nasty fall, with ensuing concerns about her coumadin blood thinner and the ever increasing bruising that kept showing up on her face. I had made decisions to the best of my ability and tried to be as careful as I could to not miss anything — but her trip to my brother’s house in her beloved Pennsylvania mountains had to be scrapped.

I wondered at the depth of my sadness, and thought about the many things that were tugging at heart. There are difficult faith journeys of several people whom I love deeply that keep me on my face before The Father. There was my Sweet Mama’s fall, of course, but there are also the difficult questions about her care and ongoing aging issues. There is a precious sister in law who is dealing with serious health issues and a brother whose melancholy temperament and tender heart is suffering, too, as he watches his beloved’s pain. Youngest Daughter’s internship in inner city Philadelphia has been stretching and wrenching in so many ways. And though she cannot tell me the stories, she lets me pray, and it is despicable the crimes that adults commit against defenseless children. Sometimes I hear snippets from other avenues and it feels as if my heart will break for the children. And I know my girlie. Her heart is not hardened. Yet. And though things hurt her so deeply, I still pray that she will not allow the sin she is exposed to daily to harden her heart against all that is pure and good and right. There are others who are making life choices that make me sad. There is grief and conflict and fractured families. And this old world is “hell-bent for disaster” on too many fronts.

I stood there in my kitchen, praying against the darkness in my soul. I knew that there was more going on here than the proverbial “Yoder Blues,” but I felt powerless against the magnitude of it all. It seemed there wasn’t even room for my favorite weapon of grateful praise. Maybe if I would take each thing that was troubling me and bring them individually to The Father, it would help. And so, I began, but it wasn’t long before I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of my task. The broad expanse of need (both mine and others) was so great. And then a strong impression overwhelmed my conscious thought.  “Pour it out!”

“Pour it out???”  The thought was so full of hope. I wondered what would happen if I could envision taking this heart, so full of negativity and pouring it all out into the love and joy of The Father. The mental picture energized me and I picked up the largest tumbler I could find and filled it to the brim. I imagined that tumbler, full of all the things that were making me so sad, and I held it over the sink and prayed as I poured it all out and watched, weeping, as it went down the drain.

Unbidden, Psalm 51 came to my mind in song.

v. 10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a right spirit within me!”

(Yes, Lord Jesus, A clean heart! A right spirit!)

v. 11 “Cast me not away from thy presence;
and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”

(Please, Father God!)

v. 12 “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free spirit.”

(Ah, this I need, I need!!!)

v. 13 “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways;
and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”

(And may your strong arm be seen in this weakness in such a way that others will be attracted to you and come to know you and love you!)

“Pour it out!” I looked at my empty tumbler and turned to face the day. There were still things to pray about, things that concerned me. But the sadness had retreated and no longer overwhelmed me.

And my heart gave grateful praise.

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Oh, Bummer~

So my Sweet Mama took an awful tumble yesterday morning. It was face first, down the two steps into the garage, right on her face, onto the cement.  She looks terrible.  It really hurts, too.  We’ve been keeping close watch and, as of now, she seems neurologically sound, but a lingering headache has been troubling her somewhat, and she really wanted her doctor to have a look at her.  I feel like we’ve done all that we should have — someone with her, making sure she woke up during the night at intervals and checking pupils and such more than is probably necessary, but finally decided to send a picture of her damages to her doctor and ask if he would stop over to see her when he comes to the Country Rest Home — hopefully today.

Today, I was out at Sweet Mama’s house, working on her medication planner, checking over the mail, and trying to make sure all would be well if she decides to go home with Brother Nelson and his good wife, Rose for a visit after our family reunion this weekend.  I sent the doctor the text and then sorta’ waited around, hoping to hear from him.  When I hadn’t heard back for quite some time, I decided to betake myself home.  It is Certain Man’s birthday, and I have things to get ready for this weekend, and I had already spent the day on Tuesday with her, so I needed to be getting on home.

When I left the house, I paused for some minutes at the front flower bed where Middle Sister, Sarah, her youngest daughter, Edie and niece Holly were industriously removing the weeds from the petunias that were bravely trying to bloom there.  We discussed what we should do with our dear Mama/Grandma, made some plans for someone to spend the night with her and then I got on my way.  There are two ways for me to go home from Sweet Mama’s house, but today, I needed to put some checks in the bank, and that meant that I needed to go through the town of Greenwood.  So I made a right turn at the end of the driveway, and headed on out.

Greenwood is famous for a very infamous reason.  They have very mean traffic cops.  I do not speed in Greenwood.  I learned this a long time ago.  I’ve never been ticketed there, but people I love have, and I have been exceedingly careful.  Accordingly, today, as I came into  the 35 mph zone that precedes the 25 mph zone, both strictly enforced, I even braked a bit to make sure I wasn’t speeding.  Good. 23 mph, coming into the zone.

At that very minute, my cell phone beeped.  A message from Dr. Wilson. I flipped open the phone and read the two sentence text.  I did not talk on my phone.  (I don’t need to — my mini van has “in-house” wireless.)  I did not text.  I did nothing but hold that cell phone in my hand.

“Huh!” I thought.  “Dr. Wilson is on vacation, but he is still is going over to see Mama tonight or tomorrow.”  I was so relieved, so weary, so numb from the weeks adventures that when I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the cop behind me with his lights flashing that it didn’t register.  I kept going down the street.  Suddenly I looked again at the rearview mirror again.  Yikes!!!  He was after me!!!  ME!!!  Who wasn’t speeding!!! What in the world???  Oh, dear.  That stupid cell phone.

He got my license and my registration.  I offered a bit of protest, and he wasn’t rude.  But he didn’t listen.  Went back to his car.  Wrote me a ticket.  $106.00.  I decided that I didn’t need to go to the bank.  I didn’t want to explain why I was crying.  I rounded the corner at 36 and 16 and thought about stopping at my Daddy’s grave for a few minutes.  I’ve shed a lot of tears there and when I’m troubled, it is so comforting to go there, but time was short and I needed to get home.  Besides, I could cry all the way home if I wanted to, and I could talk out loud between my sobs to my Heavenly Father who is the healer of broken hearts and the Friend who will not fail me.

And so, that’s what I did.  Sobbed all the way home,lowered my sun visor, and turned my face from oncoming traffic so they wouldn’t see my tears.  Somewhere around Fitzgerald’s Road the tears abated somewhat , and by the time I got into our home, I was no longer crying.  Certain Man and Middle Daughter were profuse in their sympathies and their general indignant outcry against the powers that be.  If the language of the paper telling you how to contest wasn’t quite so acrimonious, I might try contesting this ticket.  But reading through the small print makes me feel like it isn’t worth it.  Certain Man says that is their point — that they try to discourage you from even trying to get out of it.  I don’t know.  Sweet Mama is so upset that she is vowing to pay the fine.  Again, I just don’t know.  Somehow it isn’t as much the money as it is the principle of the thing.

But then I saw this butterfly . . .

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. . .  enjoying himself in the afternoon sun on my window box flowers and I went out to capture that moment on my camera, and I felt better.  There is so much beauty in my little corner of the world that lifts my heart and makes my spirit sing.  There is much to be somber about, and sometimes I think that old saying should be, “God’s in His Heaven, and all’s wrong with the world!”  But looking for joy and beauty and reasons for gratitude are not just something I do, it has to do with who I am.  Negativity and a critical spirit changes us inside — in our very souls somehow, and dwelling on the injustices, real or perceived is something that I have been encouraged not to do — for physical and mental health, yes, but for my soul’s sake.

And so, for this day, with all the twists and turns, for hummingbirds and raucous jays, for bees on the bird feeder and a clean refrigerator, for a Sweet Mama whose pulverized face makes me want to cry and for brothers and sisters who help to bear the burden, for traffic tickets on busy streets in small towns (embarrassing!) and butterflies on verbena flowers.

For all of these . . . and more! 

My heart gives grateful praise

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On Hummers and Conflict and OGA

The air is warm and damp with the recent rain. All the birds are busy at the feeders around the farmhouse at Shady Acres. The hummingbirds have been fighting all day. I hung one of the four feeders closer to the one that has the feistiest male and hoped for some peace in the hummerhood, but it has been to no avail. The dominant male now dominates both.

I know, I know. Never hang hummingbird feeders within sight of each other. I have four and they have never been within sight of each other, but the fighting going on at the busiest one was getting next to my peace loving heart, so I thought “Maybe!” . . .

Our Girl Audrey has been fighting with herself this week. Pneumonia, new meds and general living has combined to knock her shaky props askew. She came in last night, clumping up the ramp in a way that I thought there was something wrong.

“Well, Audrey!” I greeted her brightly, hoping for the best. “Did you have a happy day?”

That was the wrong question.

“Tell ya’ troof, NO!” and she pushed by me without so much as a glance. “I di’n’ do cups today.”

She usually washes up the cups from the morning coffee break at center. She seesaws between being proud of her accomplishment and being cross at them because they won’t pay her. Sometimes she complains of backache so much that they tell her not to do it, but that doesn’t really please her either. I wasn’t sure whether this was her choice or their call.

“Why didn’t you do the cups?”

“‘Cause I was too depwess!” She said with great aggravation.

“What???” I wasn’t sure I heard right.

“I was too depwess!” There was a hint of defiance in her voice.

“What were you depressed about?”

“I ‘on’t know. Sumpin’. I ‘on’ know. I tole Areefa (her health aid at the center) to take me a jail.”

Of course we redirected this conversation immediately. But today she has had her moments and between her and the hummingbirds I’ve done some ponderings on what it is that makes conflict in our souls and our world. What makes hummingbirds (and humans) fight their own kind when there is more than enough to go around? And what causes us to tell ourselves lies until we are fighting with ourselves over things that are forgiven or are merely a figment of our imagination?

Some of our conflicts come from our sense of entitlement that looks as ridiculous to the ONE who is watching over the universe as the behavior of the dominant male hummingbird outside my kitchen window appears to me.

And some of our inner conflicts come from reasoning that condemns us to a jail of our own making that is every bit as restrictive as the bars and locks of the jail that OGA is convinced she deserves.

The thing that comforts me on this warm Saturday evening is that God has a plan and He wants to help. There’s not much I can do to bring peace in the Hummerhood, or even to change OGA’s mind about the state of her guilt. But God has a plan in place for peace in my heart as I choose HIM and HIS WAY of living. He is strong and wise and good and ABLE.

But the choice is my own.

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