Monday, March 31, 2008

Advil Not Needed

Why is it that my husband worked 80 hours last week, yet I'm the one who winds up with a sore back?

Since my car accident, I've had to learn to be very careful with my back. Most days I succeed. But every once in a while, the slightest mis-movement can trigger several painful days.

Last Wednesday, I was helping Gabe stand up, and always mindful of my position, I thought I had my feet planted where they needed to be. Nope! Gabe didn't turn at the same speed I turned, so I managed to dislocate a rib. Fortunately it was during my chiropractor's working hours.

Saturday, I tried to lift a relatively light-weight Bissell carpet cleaner 2 inches over a threshold. Nope! Fortunately, the pain didn't last long enough to require a trip to the chiropractor, as it wasn't working hours.

Sunday, I'm getting ready for church and for NO reason, my back just snapped. Let's just say the breathing techniques didn't work, and if people perspire during heart attacks because of the level of pain, I hope I never have one! Naturally, our chiropractor doesn't hold office hours on Sunday.

This morning - ahhhhhhhhh...thank you, Eric! Sometimes, Mondays are great!

Here's to chiropractic care, heating pads, and people who don't blow through stop signs and re-arrange other people's life plans!

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Name Says It All

WARNING! Please read blog description - note use of words "spout, rant" - proceed with caution, take 2 aspirin and call your doctor in the morning.

Seeing as how my blog's address is nochurchsignsallowed, and I've been blabbing around here for awhile, it's more than high time I explained why I went that route.

Bear with me and follow my train of thought. (good luck!)

What first sparked my general discontent with signage was an incident known to few people, until now anyway. Several years ago, I was under tremendous stress of the vice-grip variety: miscarriage, birthing 4 children in 5 years, metabolic disorder and Angelman Syndrome diagnosis for Gabe, discontent with our church and non-helpful pastor, moving, extended family issues, marriage issues, depression issues, financial issues, basically I was one big issue!

In the midst of all this mess, my doctor was attempting to help me with medication, but we were having a hard time (issue!) finding the right med/dose, blah blah. I had been referred to a specialist, but it would be months before I could get an appointment. After one particularly screwy day, facing the possibility of months more of the same old stuff, I admitted my problems were more than I was willing to handle and admitted my problem self to a stress unit.

There you have it folks - I've been in the looney bin. Should I ever decide to run for political office, please refer all interested parties to this website so that there will be no question as to the presence of skeletons in my closet - I reveal those dry bones with no reservations.

However, let me point out - I did not do this because I was suicidal. I wasn't. I actually kinda like myself, when I'm feeling good. I just knew I couldn't wait for months of guinea pig-edness just to find out that...nope, THAT medicine wasn't working either. The result was, I wound up seeing the doctor I had been referred to, but much quicker. He figured out what I needed, and after some quite helpful counseling, and a few experiences witnessing what...ok, I have to stop here and tell you about a few of those, simply because I find humor in most situations...

Unless you've been in the looney bin (and I use that term with great jocularity, at my own expense) you can't fully appreciate what happens in such places. Once I had been oriented to the stress unit (they let you keep your own clothes, ya know! You don't even have to wear a bum-revealing stained hospital gown! Who knew!) I was presented with my first meal. With plastic ware! Having worked in a hospital that sometimes placed patients on "suicide watch", I knew what the plastic fork really meant! Hello! If I'm going to kill myself, it won't be by stabbing myself with a fork!! As I haven't planned out my death, I don't actually know how I'd kill myself, but it sure enough wouldn't be with a fork, people! That much I can tell you! But since I was in new surroundings where people might misinterpret my sarcasm as "threatening behaviour" and create an instant lock-down situation complete with leather straps, Haldol IV drips, and electrical stimulation, and that's all before the standard lobotomy, I bit my tongue and dutifully used my Special Cutlery to eat my tasteless macaroni salad.

Something else I learned while I was there was that it's pretty standard for many patients to be there more than one time! There were 3 other women about my age that I spent time talking to, and each of them had been in-patients more than one time, and utilized out-patient services numerous times as well. Amazingly, they didn't seem to make the connection that maybe, just MAYBE, watching Lifetime Television might have something to do with their depression! Hello! Lifetime TV = Children being molested, women being abused, sons wanting to be daughters, and how all men are all evil. If you watch that channel, don't whine about being depressed! You should firmly attach a sledge hammer to the television screen if that's what it takes to eradicate your addiction! It just might save your marriage, and your life. (puts soap box away)
I told one of the other women "It's no wonder you're depressed! Quit watching that crap!" - she didn't even stab me with her fork!

ANYway, obviously I survived the 4 day stay in the hospital, and the ensuing month long outpatient follow-up counseling. During the drive to counseling one day, my trip took me past a church that had a sign in the front yard. You know the type - "try to preach using one liners cleverly disguised as well-meaning uplifting messages intended to point out a truth while making you feel good about yourself because after all you're special to everyone you just don't know it yet so we're going to point it out to you in the hopes that you'll believe us and come see what all the hullabaloo is about next Sunday". Now I should point out that this particular church was occasionally attended by a friend of mine, whose mother, a judgemental, critical person in general, was a regular attender and quite possibly responsible for this sign.

This sign's message:

"We're too blessed to be depressed".

ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!! You have NO idea how close I came to doing an instant illegal U turn and hunting down this woman to personally put my new found "you really shouldn't contemplate plucking people's eyebrows as torture" skills to the test. Do these people not refer to the Bible, the Holy Word of God, before they put their stupid signs on display? Have they never heard of Job? Jonah? Paul? Mary? David? Do they not know that people sometimes have problems they have to struggle through? Life happens? Blessings don't equal no bad times?

I am fully aware that we often create our own problems. I have plenty of my own making! I can also attest to the goodness of a gracious God who forgives my biggest sins as well as the seemingly insignificant mistakes I make on a daily basis. But to glibly spout off Christian-ease and imply that if I would just "let God handle it" all would be ok is stupid at best and downright wrong at worst! And trust me, I have had numerous mis-informed Christians tell me my "depression is just Satan speaking into my head". Give me a break! It isn't Satan! It's the lack of sleep, poor eating habits, the last disagreement with my husband, the argument with my mother, my sick child, the unbalanced checkbook, the latest electric bill, the nasty clerk, the price of gas...

Sure I know I could change some of those things. IF I WAS PERFECT! Newsflash: I'M NOT!! I also know that while God gives us brains, He doesn't ignore us when we don't use them properly. So if I create a problem that was just plain dumb, God isn't going to say "Guess what, idiot? You can get yourself outta this one! Maybe you'll learn your lesson this time!" That's human tendency, not God's. I've had the BLESSING of learning much through being severely depressed, the biggest lesson being that God is with me always, and I can depend on Him when everyone fails me. I'd much rather just be able to believe that without the struggle, but God knows me better than I do, and apparently He sees things I don't.

So all this leads me to today - a church-sign dis-liker of great measure. Along the path of my resistance, I've seen some dandy lines:

EGO - Edging God Out
Have you downloaded Jesus to your heart-drive?
Join us to battle truth decay
This church is prayer-conditioned
God chooses what we go through - we choose how we go through it
God is madly in love with you
If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it
Ch__rch What’s missing? UR
Don’t make me come down there - God
Download your worries - get online with God

I will not give my opinion of each of these, but I think we have a problem when we start reducing Christianity to mere T-shirt slogans and catchy one-liners. God is Holy, and to try to fit Him into our lifestyle via the current most popular technology lingo, romantic notion, or various household appliance debases what He did for us on the Cross.

Don't get me wrong, I've had my share of fairly tasteful Christian-esqe T-shirts, because I'm not ashamed to let people know I'm a Christ-follower. I just think the idea of a drive-by sermon is questionable, especially when I can get the follow-up in front of the Donut Shop and the 3rd in the series at the gas station!

As for your fears that perhaps I should have stayed medicated longer, rest assured: I'm as much of a sound mind as I'm ever gonna get. I'm now drug-free. My down days are generally weather-related. I have never experienced road rage. (Considered it several times, but the idea of prison isn't as appealing as entrance to the sanatorium) And while I believe church signs should serve the purpose of telling the public the times of Sunday services, if your church participates in producing witticism from afar, I won't hold it against you - unless you tell me it's all in my head!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scarred Grace

I used to wish that I could rewrite history
I used to dream that each mistake could be erased
Then I could just pretend
I never knew me back then
I used to pray that You would take this shame away
Hide all the evidence of who I've been
But it's the memory of
The place You brought me from
That keeps me on my knees
And even though I'm free

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

I have not lived a life that boasts of anything
I don't take pride in what I bring
But I'll build an altar with
The rubble that You've found me in
And every stone will sing
Of what You can redeem

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

Don't let me forget
Everything you've done for me
Don't let me forget
The beauty in the suffering

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

Point of Grace, from their "How You Live" release

In a recent sermon, our pastor illustrated a point in a way that spoke volumes to me. He was preaching about the value of our lives. Removing a 20 dollar bill from his wallet, he asked who wanted it. Naturally, everybody did. He then crumpled and crushed it, threw it to the floor, stomped on it several times, spit on it, and picked it back up. Again, he asked who wanted it. Not as many people volunteered to take it, although a few still offered. After the initial "that's disgusting!" thought left my mind, I mused that if I had a big enough bottle of sanitizer, I could clean the money good and accept it.

Pastor Byron's point was that although people may see us as worthless, we still have value in God's eyes.

I've been thinking about this alot lately. How often do I think I need to sanitize myself for God? It will never happen. I can NEVER be clean enough to impress God. It's as if I'm trying to hide my human-ness from my God who knows everything about me. He knows my thoughts, my intentions, my hurts...He knows when I'm angry, and why. He knows that I really considered running the shopping cart into that lady at Walmart when she cut in front of me. He knows what I thought about saying when my neighbor gestured rudely at me. He knows that I'd like to tell the father of my son's friend what I REALLY think about his poor parenting skills. He knows! And yet He loves me anyway.

If I could be clean on my own, why would I need God? If I could forget everything evil that I've done, there would be no reason for me to depend on God. If I could erase the past, I wouldn't trust in God's mercy. If my scars weren't visible sometimes, I would think my own efforts could save me.

No matter how hard I try, I can never earn my way to God. I'm unworthy of Him. I don't deserve His love. God loves me anyway. Knowing that I'll mess up again, that I'll be hurt again, that I'll fail again, He still sees value in me. And because He knows what I need, He leaves the scars so I don't forget Who He is. Those are beautiful scars.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Annoying Little Creatures

This is Francesca Monet. All 10 pounds of her. She's a miniature Dachshund, chocolate dapple, with one blue eye and one brownish eye. (I tried to get Tom to see a doctor about having a particular minor surgical procedure reversed, resulting in a 10 pounder of another variety, but my speech(es) weren't convincing enough. He saw a dog breeder instead.) I digress.

We call her Frannie.

She's mine, and she thinks Preston is hers.

She guards our house from strangers, scary dogs, newspaper delivery boys, and our teenager's friends.

She also keeps the cats from escaping outside when we open our front door. She watches the cats, and when they get near the door, she tackles them. If one of them manages to slip through, she chases them down and corners them until we can get to them.

Yesterday, Preston took her out, and a strange cat was in our yard. She tried to chase it up on our porch. We have lots of squirrels and rabbits in our yard. She does not attempt to make rodents part of our family. Her fetish is strictly feline in nature.

Last summer, she spent some time at the cousin's country home, with our kids. The cousins are inundated with all sorts of cats of varying intelligence levels and stages of fetal development. (Is an unborn kitten a fetus, or is that term reserved for use in referring to unborn babies living in a world where humans see precious life as tissue easily discarded for convenience' sake?)

When I called to see how our kids were faring, Preston told me, "Mom! Frannie is so stupid! Every time I take her out to go to the bathroom, she starts running around like a chicken with her head cut off, herding all these cats into the house!"

I chose to see that as one very astute canine, not an obsessive-compulsive pet who needs mental therapy.

Please note:
Our cats chase bats.
Our dog chases the cats.
And you've probably never read a post that successfully combined psychotic animals and pro-life issues in one fell swoop.

Life is more fun with variety.

Humor is free.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pet Detectives and Sharp Sniffers

Why is my cat staring intently at the underside of the rocking chair?
Our cats have been known to kill bats.

This does not bode well.

Did I mention that while I was ill last month, at one point of my sickness, I woke up to find a bat head lying on the floor at the foot of our bed.

A head. Only a head. H-E-A-D.

The cats were so proud of themselves. (I was thankful they didn't decide I needed a close up.)

I would have continued to console myself with the myth that I had hallucinated the entire Draculean episode...

but Savannah sniffed a strange odor last week, and upon following her nose to my dresser, with flashlight in hand, she discovered beneath it...

...the body.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

An Attack on Freedom

As a family that chooses to home school for many reasons, this case is of great concern to me. Yet it doesn't just affect homeschooling families. It affects all of us. It is no one else's business how a family chooses to educate their children. The judge in this case has done a great disservice to families in the state of California. Please pray for the family, and for all families that home school. It is not a task that we take lightly. If the court depublishes this ruling, it would not be used against other home schooling families in the state of California but rather would only apply to the family involved in the actual court case. I do not currently know any of the details of the particular family, but regardless, this case certainly should not be able to be applied to all home schools. You can help here by signing a petition prepared by Home School Legal Defense Association that is requesting the California Supreme Court to depublish this ruling.

Does Trying on Clothes Count as Aerobic Exercise?

I've mentioned elsewhere around here that I hate to shop for jeans. I have a very hard time finding jeans that fit correctly, don't make me look stupid, aren't old lady-ish, are long enough (I'm 5'4-1/2" - just a bit too tall for petite and too short for regular length) for clothing is not a fun experience for me. For the past 3 years, since my car accident, shopping has been an even less fun experience for me, because my hips were dislocated and I've been working with the chiropractor to get them back to the way they're supposed to be. Try finding a pair of jeans that accomodate one hip being 4 inches higher than the other!


When you lose 20 pounds, something must be done about the sagging problem in the posterior region, so off to Kohl's I went this past week. I lucked out and managed to find a couple pair on the clearance rack that actually fit. (About 4 years ago, I was attempting to shop at Penney's, and was bemoaning my physical shape to a clerk standing in the dressing room. I told her I wished I could just lose my baby fat. She dutifully asked, "Oh, how old is your baby?" She got a chuckle out of my answer..."7".)

Now the whole losing 20 pounds can be attributed to a combination of things. Last fall, we picked up a new cleaning contract that requires two evenings a week of the family bonding via work ethic, so that's helped with the weight issue. Several months ago, we started making some health and food changes in our home, so I've discovered that not having a constant availability of brownies and no-bake cookies will aid in weight loss. Then ya toss in the illness, which will increase lost poundage by, apparently, about 6 pounds, and voila! Ya get me! Not svelte, but any stretch of the imagination, but at least I've dropped a size.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

5 Days of the Living Dead

I'm not dead. I really wasn't even close to being dead, but I like dramatics, so I considered dieing this past week. NO! Don't call your local police, mental health therapist or priest so quick! I just had the flu, and sorta considered wishfully pondering the notion of a contented non-violent demise of my human flesh. Then my fever broke, and I put the stage make-up away. I only THOUGHT I might die!

I spent 5 solid days in bed, temp up to 102. I have not been this sick in years.

Now I'm back to normal. NO! Don't go there!

So, other than the residual stuffy, runny nose (HOW?!? can those two symptoms happen simultaneously?) and the proverbial coughing up the lungs, and the lagging energy levels, I'm better.

Tom isn't so hot. What am I saying?? Of course he is! He's just quite ill right now. He told me he was craving chocolate. When I raised my eyebrows at him, he said "This is a female germ." Preston is sick. So is Gabe. Bucky is sucking down vitamins and volunteering to make his own carrot/apple juice to keep himself healthy. Savannah is gagging on her vitamins and doing her best to not get sick until at least Saturday, AFTER the Winter Jam concert on Friday! (Update prior to posting: Bucky only suffered one day, the vitamins must have worked! Savannah managed to not get sick, and the concert was a blast!)

I HATE being sick! I HATE it! I am not good at being sick. I don't have time to be sick. Things fall apart when I'm sick.

Laundry decides to imitate rabbits.

Toilets overflow because kids apparently forget that Dad's "How to Use TP" lesson, Step #1 is: Start with 6 squares

The dryer, which has been dieing for years, dies. Then resurrects itself when Dad uses it. Then dies again when a kid tries to use it. Then resurrects's like a cat with 9 lives! Maybe if I feed it Kibble...

"Dieing" doesn't look right. Oh well!