It’s Micah’s Day!

26 years ago, I gave birth to a red, wrinkled baby boy. Oh my gosh! I gave birth to him around 2:20 or so in the afternoon. He already tried to come a month early- just couldn’t wait to get here, but he was only 2 days early. I had not wanted to have another baby yet – my daughter was almost 13 and my son was about 22 months. It was too soon! But, God knew something about this boy I didn’t know. I didn’t know he would become one of the most loved and beloved human I have ever known. I didn’t know he was coming to teach me and his daddy and everyone he was around things. I know it sounds weird- just bear with me. 

Every pregnancy is different. But this pregnancy was so different from when I carried David and even Amanda. They moved alot and they moved early. Micah didn’t move til he was about 4 montths along. I worried something was wrong. I’d never experienced a pregnancy where the baby wasn’t hyperactive. It scared me. I wasn’t as sick with Micah as I was with David and not even close to how sick I was with Amanda. Just nauseous. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was my time to rest and take care of myself. God was sending me someone special.

As I stated, I gave birth about 2:20 or so in the afternoon. I was worn out and there had been a bit of trouble during labor . When he was born, I heard someone say, “He’s blue.” He was whisked away and I barely even got to see him.  I asked repeatedly where he was and why i couldn’t see him. No one answered me. 10.30 p.m and almost asleep, the doctor came into my room and announced my little boy was sick after I asked him why i  couldn’t see my own baby. He told me his lungs had fluid on them and they were having to give him antibiotics. I can’t remember if he was on an IV or not. I complained I hadn’t even seen him and someone brought him to me immediately. He was red, wrinkled and his eyes were not clear.  I cried. Both my other children were blue eyed blondes and healthy weights. This one was sick already and even though I searched his face, I could not find the answers I was looking for.

Over the next few months, we were in and out of the hospital for “failure to thrive.” He couldn’t gain weight, he couldn’t breath and worst of all, even though he ate a ton, he was malnourished. Finally, the diagnosis. 
“It’s Cystic Fibrosis,” the doctor said- “there is no cure, he’s just going to die.” WHAT???? I just had this baby. And this man was telling me he was just going to die?? NO!

I began to learn all I could about CF (cystic fibrosis) . I was so afraid to bond with Micah because I knew how much it would hurt if I lost him. I couldn’t help but bond with him- he was so beautiful and tiny and he drew you in like a fish on line. There was something about the boy. 

When he approached his year birthday, I was told the doctors were surprised he had lived that long. He was pretty  sick the first years. Everyone prayed for this one. His brother wasn’t too keen on him at first, but he grew to love him and they were best friends and still are.  Micah was back in the hospital at 9 and then not til he was 20 years old. He is our miracle. He is our young man. And a fine one at that. 

He is 26 today. In those 26 years, God has used him to draw many people to Him. God has blessed him with the gift of spirituality. He knows who his Protector and Healer is. He knows where he comes from and he knows where he is going. 

God chose to  bless me and my husband and two other kids with a gift – a gift that has taught us all what it means to love each other and what it means to love God. I am proud to call him my son and my gift. 

Happy birthday Micah. I love you more than words can express!

Micah and me.
Micah and me.

getting old isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

I am sitting in my podiatrist’a waiting room to see what the heck is wrong with my right heel. Every time I walk on it, it kills me. I have had plantar fasciitis. That was something else! Now that was painful. Dang! He has not yet come back from lunch. I am really early.
Earlier in the day, I was at the chiropractor. My back feels like it is breaking in two most of the time. I have A disc that bulges backward- degenerative disk disorder , etc and so on.
So- these are the golden years eh? Hmm… The thing is I just don’t feel old. I was born in 1957- a near baby boomer,for heaven’s sake! A quasi hippie or maybe- more probably a wannabe hippie. At any rate, I never thought I would ever live to be almost 57. Since I found out I have bipolar disorder and take the meds the way I should, keeping relatively stable, I find my body wearing out already. This just doesn’t fit in with the lifestyle in which I have become accustomed to. I don’t have time for it. AND I do not like it one little bit!
Fat lot I can do about it. I hope not to be one of those whiny,complaining old women who only talk about my aches and pains. My poor,long suffering mom had a friend like that once, poor old soul. She didn’t have many people to talk about it to. It was probably why, too.
So, I hereby resolve not to be a whiny,complaining old bat to anyone who will listen- just to my poor old husband! Lucky lucky Stephen.

The Best Life is the Good Life For Me

There are times I feel like my life has been hard. I have had hard times- we all have. But, today, while riding my horse, I passed my husband who was riding his lawn mower, mowing the pasture. A wry smile came across my face as I realized, not for the first time, how wonderful my life really is. My husband mowing the lawn on his day off while I rode my horse. Amazing!

Some might wonder why I think this is such a big deal. Well, the reason is because we were, at one time, both city kids, both terribly spoiled, woefully oblivious to other folks plights, but struggling to stay afloat with our little family of a daughter and two young boys.  Oh, we knew there were other people worse off than us. We were sure of that. We had no idea who they might be, but  we knew they existed.

My youngest son, Micah, was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a lung and endocrine disease- so far without a cure. We found out when he was about 9 weeks old. My older son, David was about 22 months when Micah was born. My daughter Amanda, was almost 13 . We were in and out of Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas seemingly all the time. It had become like a revolving door. Micah’s CF was pretty well under control after he was about 5, I suppose. At 9, he was back in the hospital and then again not for 11 years. We have been blessed. Very blessed. It didn’t seem so at the time. Funny how time changes your mind regarding your circumstances.

I say all this to say to you- If you are in difficult circumstances right now- try to view it as a learning experience. We had many a heartache, heartbreak and despair. We had times we were on food stamps, CHIPS (before that CIDC), our doctor vistis for the kids were often write offs for the docs. It was quite embarrassing  to us. Both Stephen and I had been well off within our families, so we had no idea how to cope at this point in our lives. We flew by the seat of our pants and God’s grace. You can too. Prayer changes everything and sometimes situations occur in which God is the only  one who can help, who can understand, who can hear you. Stay the course, it works out- maybe not the way we want it

A ride on a hot afternoon. me and Licorice
A ride on a hot afternoon. me and Licorice

to – maybe it works out fine- but it works out how it is supposed to according to what God wants you to know. 

I feel as if I am writing to someone who needs to hear this right now. If so, I hope my message helps, because God will make your life the Best Life. 

 

 

Back to School … already

Well, here we are once again, Back to School in full swing come Monday morning. Even when I was a kid, it seemed school just started too quickly – and that was when school started in September! We would get out the last of May- generally the 31st. It seemed back then we had three whole months til we had to go back. I can remember those three months seemed like such a long time . Whoosh! Our summer vacation was already over and September was here. Now, folks go back to school the third week in August  and I know the kids must feel like their vacation was almost none-existant. 

My grandsons live in California and while their school year is longer, they get longer and more breaks during the year. Because of this, they don’t feel like they are shorted any amount of time. 

I will be praying for these kids this year.They deal with so many issues we never had to cope with. Not once did any of us ever have to worry about shooters in our schools, sexual abuse at the hands of some teachers or principals. Never did I have to worry about being kidnapped as I walked to school – something I seldom did anyway. Kids are our future. They should be treated as the special people they are. So, I’m entreating you to pray for them too. In this day and age, prayer is really all we have.

Back to School Pic

Preconceived Ideas? Better Think Again!

All of us have preconceived ideas about lots of things. Sometimes, our preconceived ideas have us refusing certain foods because of the color, the smell, but not usually the taste. What do you think when I say “Brussell Sprouts”? Does your lip curl at the smell of them? Do you shriek with terror? Or, do you lick your lips? What about when I say “Cops”? Does it conjure up a good connotation or a bad one? Fear? Anger? Compassion or perhaps, the phrase,

“They give their lives for our safety?”

So, then, what comes to mind when you think of homeless people? “Lazy?” “Crazy?” “Weird?” Do the words “Nice”, “Sweet,” “Funny?” ever come to mind? Have you ever taken the time to speak to a homeless person? Have you even looked them in the eye? Have you escorted someone to a restaurant and bought them lunch? Or does the mere mention of the word incite fear, anger and lack of understanding, fill you? 

I am asking because it seems we all have preconceived ideas regarding some topic or another- some words bring instant visuals to our minds’ eye. I am also asking because I used to have the same visual. I thought homeless folks were lazy, crazy, weird, scary and God forbid I ever look a homeless person in the eye. 

But, I had a change of heart when I began going to “The Gathering.” The Gathering, you may remember (because I write often about it), is a church for the “housed and unhoused” people of Dallas. Some of the most sincere, loving, funny, friendly, wonderful people worship at The Gathering with us.Some are ill, bipolar, mentally  ill, unable to get medications that might stabilize them, unable to get proper help for their illness. Most are so different than we think they are. Some made me feel ashamed I did not worship God with the fervor they did. But I learned and so can you.

“They” are us. “They” are what we might be someday, what the hidden part of ourselves could be. There is no “They” and “Us. There is,however, “We.” Because we could all be walking in their shoes. 

My challenge for this week is to start with a first step- make eye contact and say hi. How hard could that be, right? Well, it can be very difficult for some. Some folks have been taught negative things about homeless people all their lives.  It’s time to stop all of our preconceived ideas about the homeless and come to think of it, anyone else. So, practice… if you dare. Say hi, make eye contact. Maybe next week, you might have a smile. Choose one person. Make them your challenge. Step out of your comfort zone and walk in Jesus’ shoes for a day. Be kind. Love. Help someone else. I’d love to hear about your experiment.

When we help others, we forget our own troubles. Isn’t that worth it?

Happy Birthday Mother

my mother in the Holy Land
my mother in the Holy Land

Today is a special day for me. You see, it would be my mother’s birthday. I am especially teary-eyed as I write this since she passed away in 2004. It has only really been lately I’ve missed her hugs, voice, silly little sayings and phrases. Her  temper could flash when she was mad, turning her hazel eyes to green. My eyes do the exact same thing. She was more well known, though for her incredible laugh. She laughed most of the time. I laugh most of the time. She was everyone’s everything in our family. Mother, mentor, friend (as we grew older), teacher, everything.

She was a beautiful soul and beautiful outside as well.

She was a beauty.
She was a beauty.

She had a hard, but full life. Her immediate family had troubles while growing up. What family doesn’t. But she was so sensitive (at times!) to other’s needs and her heart so big, she had to hide the scars she carried with her.

She made sure her kids had everything we needed- ballet and tap lessons, piano lessons, God- first and foremost, lots of love, experiences, laughter, social graces. She taught us everything, loved us completely- sacrificing things she might have wanted to do or have for us.

Our dad was mentally ill after he came back from the war. She took care of him, loved him and sadly said “see ya later” after 44 years of marriage when he died in 1984.

Mother and I had a love-hate relationship during my teen years. Most parents and kids do. As I got older, with a family of my own- troubles of my own, we became closer and closer. She was the one I called on for advice , hugs, and comfort. When my son, Micah , was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, she was the one I shared my fears with.

After Daddy died, Mother began going to book clubs, going with the seniors at her church to the Holy Land and other areas of the earth. How she loved those trips.

I took her to the hospital three days after Thanksgiving.  I told her it was okay to let go. “We’ll be fine.” I whispered. She passed away three weeks later. I was relieved she didn’t have to suffer any longer . She had stage 4 ovarian cancer. We never even knew.

I miss her madly now. I find myself laughing like her, using her phraseology, and more. I’m convinced that is a compliment to her. Her daughters are her. That’s how indelible she was.

I love you Mother. Thank you for taking such good care of us . Happy Birthday , see you soon.

laughing came so easily to her.
laughing came so easily to her.

What Happens at Walmart….

walmart

It all started Sunday afternoon when my son and my husband set up a swimming pool at our house. It’s one of those pools with a pump – not very deep, but just about the whole neighborhood could fit in it. Kinda like a huge spa. “Redneck Riviera” – that’s what Stephen calls it. 

like he says, "Redneck Riviera"
“Redneck Riviera”

I wanted to try out our new toy, but realized I had no swimming suit. Grabbing my coin purse, my keys and my flip flops, I was out the door on my way to Walmart. My son and daughter in law coming toward me got a quick hug and kiss and I asked if she wanted to go with me. She declined. I would too. Who wants to spend a Sunday afternoon at Walmart ,of all places! 

I had a simple plan. Run in, get a swimsuit, run out, get home, jump in the pool and relax. But it was Walmart and a Sunday afternoon-school supply weekend, of all things. Anyway, I didn’t find much in the way of swimsuits. Picked up some swimsuit bottoms and a few pair of scrubs and I was off to the self-checkout. As I put my clothes down, panic ensued after realizing my coin purse was not with me anymore. Where could it be? Where did I drop it? I didn’t feel myself drop it. Did I lay it down somewhere? My debit cards were in it, over two hundred dollars was in it – farrier money for my horse’s shoes, my drivers license and donor card- my whole life was in it! I combed the store- went back to every place I had been -all to no avail. Customer service had not had anything turned in and the ladies I asked out on the floor- employees, you know- were less than interested in helping me look.”I haven’t seen a coin purse, but then I wasn’t looking for one either,” one said with a bit of a whine in her voice. Whatever. I called my husband, panicking and crying. “There’s over two hundred dollars in there for Rigo, ” hearing myself whining now. “Just come home – there’s nothing you can do now. It’ll be ok.”  I left the building, grateful I had my car keys at least and praying my coin purse would be found.

Once at home, I decided not to dwell on the whole thing. I felt stupid for losing it. I mean, how could I drop it and not know? Or maybe set it down somewhere and walk off? That’s just dumb. (I can hear my mother saying it now! )

The next morning, I had to get ready for work early and decided to stop by Walmart. I went straight to customer service, finding for once, no line. I explained my plight and one of the ladies went into the office to check for my coin purse. In just one minute, out she came with my purse! I was so relieved. I opened it immediately to see if anything was still in there and lo and behold all my money was there, my debit cards- everything! Tears filled my eyes as I looked to the woman and said, “My money is still there. ” She said, “See, not everyone is bad” and smiled a sweet, genuine smile. 

In a bit of a stupor, I was able to push the button on my telephone and call my husband. He was as amazed as I .  Normally, I might say “What happens at Walmart should stay at Walmart.” But, i think this time, it should be told.

Thanks to the lady at Walmart and thanks be to God for answering prayer. 

Growing Older Together

Stephen, my love, Happy Birthday!
Stephen, my love, Happy Birthday!

Today is my best friend’s birthday. My husband, my lover, my everything- is a year older today. It seems like yesterday when we met at Tom Thumb’s tobacco bar. Only wanting to buy  “two packets of Marlboro”, he ended up with a girlfriend and then a wife and then children and then grandchildren. I, on the other hand, ended up with a best friend, a husband, a father, a mentor, and someone I look up to every day. Who would have ever thought ?

We have had fun, sorrow, love, hate, joy, sadness and humdrumness together. And isn’t that the way it should be? We married- he adopted my daughter, loved her like his own always,  we had two boys. We divorced. We were terrible at it. We missed each other, loved each other , called each other, remarried. The second time around- bliss- not all the time- most of the time.Every day I am grateful this man waited for me to gather my craziness and marry me  all over again anyway. 

I look forward to the next year, awaiting new experiences, deeper love, laughter and pure -D silliness. I love you honey. Happy birthday. 

There But for the Grace of God….

would you help this man?
would you help this man?

Homelessness should be a crime. Not for the homeless, of course, but for those who let it continue. Those who vote against help for the homeless – those who disallow communities to be built for them or those who choose to disallow help for folks because they don’t want their property “devalued.” Wow. Really? Before you label me a bleeding heart liberal, follow through reading . 

I have epilepsy and bipolar disorder . In the last few weeks,my mood had crashed. In other words, I was so depressed, I could only sit and cry. That is what bipolar disorder does to you. Although I have been stable with it for a good long while, meds suddenly quit doing their job- in need of tweaking. I spent the last month in great despair because the meds quit working. I don’t choose that. It is a chemical imbalance in my brain that sometimes has a mind of it’s own. One might wonder why I was in such despair for such a long time. Well, the answer to that is because it usually takes about that long to find out if it is, in fact, a medication problem. Sometimes, depression comes about because of situations arising that we are not sure how to deal with. It does take time to sort out why one has crashed.  During that period of time, it is not easy to continue functioning. It is so easy to just stay in bed and sleep through it all. If one is asleep, no pain is felt, no tears, no hallucinations, no voices . It’s just easier. 

I called my doctor and she added a medication. She had samples for me, so I went to pick them up. It worked and for a change, it was a medication which worked quickly. I called to let her know it worked and could she call the prescription in. She did. When I went to pick it up, imagine my surprise when the clerk told me it would $262.00! And that was with my insurance paying part of it!  This is where it stops being about me .

Homeless people don’t choose to be homeless. Sometimes, it is because they  are mentally ill, sometimes because they are on drugs- addicted to some drug – maybe not for the high they get, but for the feeling of “normalcy” they get from it. Most people who are on drugs are on them because they are self -medicating. They want to feel like a “normal ” person. They don’t want to hear the voices that tell them to do bizarre things, or feel scared because there is something real there . 

Stay with me, please. I told my story to say homelessness is a vicious cycle. Let’s say someone has a good job, but has mental issues and  don’t really know or understand what is going on. Let’s say, then, our person tries a drug.. let’s say meth. From what i understand the meth high is a very short time period. But, meth is fairly cheap and may make someone feel “normal.” Therefore, he continues to take it over and over again to feel okay. Well, this person  may not know that meth causes massive paranoia, mini-strokes, tics and brain damage. He does, however, know it makes him feel right. All of this exacerbates his problem with his mental illness. Jobs are lost, relatives don’t want them because they are addicts. Where else can they go but the streets. Let’s say with their job, they had insurance. Even though they go to the doctor and get prescriptions for meds, the meds, like mine are so expensive our guy can’t afford to get them. Yes, there are generics- but not on all meds. The medications that do work well are third generation drugs- new drugs-expensive drugs. 

Yes, there may be addicts among the homeless. In most cases, the person has been through rehab many times and it can’t help because being sober means not feeling “normal.” How then, can we make mental help possible for people like this? There are low cost mental health clinics, but many times, one still has to pay something. How can one pay something if they can’t work? 

The cycle continues, cities are not willing to step up to help make the situation better, homelessness runs rampant and nothing is done.

People are afraid and shun the homeless folks. Why? People are afraid of what they don’t understand. That is why I write this missive. I want people to know there is nothing to be afraid of- say hi to a homeless person. If they ask for money and you don’t want to give it directly to them, why not take them to a sandwich shop and buy them a meal, a drink, a cookie? Treat them like they are human beings. Because that is what they are. They love and are loved. They get hungry,tired, sad, happy. Just do something out of your comfort zone. They will truly be grateful.

And there but for the grace of God go I.