PAIN

It started with pain in my elbow. My elbow would hurt if I lifted my briefcase out of my car. It hurt if I twisted my arm. Then it progressed to feeling as if a knife was slashing through the bone without any provocation at all..

The pain was infrequent though, so I did what I normally do with ailments. I ignored it. Pretty soon my shoulder was starting to hurt. Soon my whole right arm was getting to the point where I couldn’t lift things without pain. It started to hurt when I was sleeping.

At this point I totally freaked out because I knew what the problem was. It was the surgery I had several years ago to repair a shattered collar bone. My surgeon had wanted to take the metal out right after my bone healed and I didn’t know why. I told him I didn’t have the money for that and I didn’t do it. Now I realized why he may have wanted to remove it.

I have Obamacare and I pay quite a bit in premiums only to have to pay the full amount when I go to the doctor because the deductible is so high. It is in no way affordable. I believe it is the biggest con job that the government has forced the American people to swallow in the history of this great nation.

I don’t think the original surgeon is even on my insurance policy and no other surgeon would remove the metal.  So basically if I don’t have several thousand dollars to throw to the wind I am forced to live with the pain.  For the record I have no such money laying around and I prefer not to get into any more debt due to medical ailments. I am still trying to get out of the debt from the first part of the year, when I had all of the problems with my throat.

I was getting quite hysterical with these thoughts whirling through my mind. Finally I resorted to prayer. God is the only one in my entire circle of friends who can stop the Ferris wheel of hysteria which renders my mind a wasteland of chaos.

I told him I was hurting. I also told him that I didn’t have the money to do what I knew needed to be done to stop the pain. I also reminded him that I was still tithing even though I was hardly able to pay my bills. (A little guilt job there if I do say so myself) Then I said if He could please help me or heal me I would be very grateful because pain in my dominant arm was becoming a hindrance to me.

It is amazing what He did. He lured my mind back to the box where my S2 watch was in. A friend of mine had gotten that for me. I was a bit concerned when I opened the box. There was a pamphlet the size of a mini Webster Dictionary that had safety precautions listed in it.

God reminded me that before I started wearing a fit bit, or that S2 watch, I had no right arm pain.

So I stopped wearing the S2 watch and the fit bit. I wear them sometimes when I go for my walk but not all day. The hypothesis I formed was as follows:  the radiation from the S2 and fit bit was interacting with the metal in my collar bone to produce severe pain in my arm.

I stopped wearing the S2 or the fit bit a few days ago and the pain started to dissipate but I hadn’t exercised that arm at all, so I hadn’t really tested my hypothesis.

I tested my theory yesterday and swam close to 1/2 mile and didn’t have much pain. Today my elbow is still hurting and my underarm is  a bit tender but I have only been without the S2 for a few days. In addition to not wearing these devices I am going to move the charging station I have for all of my electronic devices to the room that is farthest from my bedroom. I will use the S2 and the fitbit occasionally but not if I am experiencing pain of any kind.

God may have not healed my arm but what he did do was guide me in a path to determine what I was doing to compromise my own health.

IDENTITY THEFT

I have been the victim of identity theft several times in my lifetime. I have a suspicion as to who is behind some of it but no evidence, so I have not pressed charges.

I have filed a police report for one occurrence. The government and credit agencies have me on a watch list so that I get special protection. Other than that I am at a loss as to how to deal with losers who steal from good people.

Recently I got a notification that someone was trying to use my name to open a credit card account in Florida.

This makes me angry. I work very hard to establish good credit and pay my bills on time. I have done without many luxuries in order to do so.  To establish a good reputation and a good name requires a lot of effort. I have put in the effort.

This person who is trying to ride on my good name has done nothing at all to deserve what I have worked for. They are a cheat and a thief and they are lower than a scum bag.

My identity is more than just my credit rating though. I carry the identity of Christ in my heart. That is why I find dishonesty hard to endure in my own life.  Although I have difficulty paying some of my bills currently, I wouldn’t think of opening up a credit card that someone else would have to pay for.

I may not always do the right thing but I know the importance of confessing and repenting of my sins.

A large part of my financial identity is tied to Christ because I have been privileged enough to be able to tithe to God. I attribute many of my blessings to this ability that God has given me. The ability to put God first in my financial affairs has rendered me many returns.

So when I think of this thief who keeps trying to steal from me I pity her/him because they have no identity in God. They must be a miserable failure to try to steal from a single mother of three children.

Interesting enough, the latest attempt to steal from me was shut down before it even started. Citibank did not allow the scum bag to open up the credit line using my identity. I have never heard of a credit card company being that smart and proactive. I applaud them.

More than that, I applaud God in Heaven who consistently provides for me. He keeps me safe from harm. He is my almighty redeemer.

PRAYER REQUEST

I have a prayer request this morning. My son is currently taking the entrance exam for graduate studies in Orlando. He has been studying for this test for quite some time.

If you could I would love for you to pray that the Lord’s will be done in this matter.

He is hoping to score well enough that he can get into a stellar doctoral program.

When he was just a child I had a dream that he was going to be a professor at Harvard and God has given him the intelligence to make that dream a reality. His goal is to cure cancer. I believe that God may be on board with that goal.

He is taking the test this morning and is probably already almost done. I usually don’t ask for personal prayers to be noted on my blog that is the reason for my late post. He said I didn’t need to put it before my audience but I believe that God is blessed when we share our concerns with each other.

Thank you to everyone who whispers a prayer on behalf of my son and the God who is so worthy of leading him down the best path.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

The other day one of my friends was sharing with me the plight of a young mother and I thought at the time I could help her out a bit financially. So being that I am the generous type I offered some assistance. I hit a brick wall with that offer. It was uncanny because I knew the young lady was in dire straights. I remained silent though and prayed about. The group of friends I was with was my Bible study group.

The very next week my son called from Louisiana. He was in dire straights financially and his father has refused to help him. I had a long conversation with my son and told him to stop asking his father for money. It only hurts my son when his Dad keeps refusing to help him. I don’t want my son becoming bitter when it is in relation to his father.

I have much less money than his father has but I have a bigger heart, so somehow I have always been able to do without something so that my kids can have what they need. I proceeded to send my son the money that I may have given to a stranger the week before.

Then the next week came along and now my Bible study friend was willing to take the money I had offered previously. I didn’t have it to give anymore. I had given it to my son. I think it was God who closed the door for me to give to that woman. I am sure there is someone much more wealthy than I who can help her out. I had to help my son out first. That is my God given responsibility and my friend was very accepting of this.

Lately I have been hitting the skids in my job. That is the way this business is. It is either feast or famine and lately my bank account has been very hungry.

I get upset when my paycheck is meager because currently I am in quite a bit of debt and I am wanting to pay it off and get ahead.

Then the last few weeks there have been numerous cases which have fallen through for me. This usually means I drive clear across town, wasting my time and my gas and don’t get a penny paid for it.

So I think I have quite a bit of reason to complain and whine and cry about my current situation in finances. But I don’t. I have vented to several people in my company and told them I need more work. I will give them a few months to get their act together and if it doesn’t happen within that time frame I will find another company to work for. No big deal. I think communication is important in a career and I have communicated my discontent.

However, I have done much more than that. I have also prayed and asked God for guidance. He has reminded me that I was very busy just a few months ago and was making very good money. I was so busy working I didn’t have much time to write in the novel He and I are working on. I also didn’t blog very much at all. I was a bit concerned about this. So he put the skids on my work so I could do more work for and with Him. God is pretty cool about me having some time to kick back a little. I mean after all He was the one who started the Sabbath.

But he didn’t do it without surrounding me with friends who help me out.I have two very wonderful friends who either take me grocery shopping or shower me with gift cards and I have a couple who also insist that they pay for every meal when we go out together. I have parents who love me very much and who help out when they can which is very hard for them because they are struggling currently in their finances. I have so many people who shower me with blessings, it is not just my company. If it was just my job I may be thanking God for a company. Because of my wonderful friends and family I am thanking God for a whole lot more.

DRIVING IN A STORM

I mentioned to my audience an unusual event which happened to me a few weeks ago. I saw the start of a rainbow in a field right off the highway. I have been meditating on that event for quite some time. Hoping I don’t forget the wonder of it all and looking to God for enlightenment

This morning I was thinking of how I felt as I was driving through the storm. I was scared, worried and anxious. I was driving a rental car and I was worried that it may start to hail. This dangerous storm reminded me of a time from my past.

Several years ago I went through a terrible storm in my personal life. Through this storm the feelings of betrayal, hurt and fear were daily companions to my every thought. It wasn’t just people who betrayed me, I also felt betrayed by God.

The thought occurred to me that maybe I should just abandon God. I mean after all, he hadn’t listened to my prayers and in this instance I was sure the evil party was winning. Why believe in a God who does not support justice right?

There was just one teensy problem with that idea. God has consistently been the one I run to when I am hurt. I didn’t have a whole lot of experience running to myself. I had wonderful friends during this time in my life but I didn’t want to call them at 3 am when the terrifying thoughts of betrayal came storming into my dreams. I would crumble into tears and call upon my God at that time, pleading with Him to take the pain away.

I am ashamed to admit that I didn’t think of looking for a rainbow. I was focused on the storm. The memories of that horrible time in my life still bring me to a point of tears. Now as I am looking back, I see the sunlight of God’s wisdom shining through my tears.

The reason why I started this blog was because of that storm. I have grown my closer to my adult daughter because of that storm. Those who attacked me and betrayed me are now the ones who are hated. I continue to remain loved. It has expanded the reach of my testimony because I can relate to other women or men who have gone through this same kind of storm.

When you are going through a storm with the wind of betrayal pelting your heart and hate beating on your back it is very difficult to see a rainbow. When evil wins the fight for justice and no one is in your corner, it can feel as if you are surrounded by darkness.

Yet I ask you to remember one fact about rainbows. There has never been a rainbow without a storm and sunlight. Rainbows are formed when sunlight intersects a raindrop.

I know firsthand how vicious a storm can be but I also have seen the beginning of a rainbow…

UNPACKING THE PAST

My mind has been tortured as of late. Trying to unpack my past and place memories carefully in the drawers, closets and boxes of my mind is quite an undertaking.

When I went back to my Grandfather’s farm recently, it seemed mystical in a way. When I grew up, my Grandfather and my Grandmother were very loving to each other. I had presumed they were always that way and I assumed that my mother had had a wonderful childhood.

The reality that she revealed about my Grandfather was that he was very mean. He was a self righteous Christian who was concerned primarily about appearances. By the time I was born, Christ had broken that icy cage around his heart and I remember him as being a loving and fun grandfather.

I considered my mother’s tendency to play the victim role a contributing factor to her failed memory. She got along just fine with my grandfather when I was at home. She had said she had been bitter and unforgiving towards her father but my own Dad had said something to her once that broke that stronghold. Unfortunately, I believe my Dad is now the victim of her bitterness instead of her father.

When I looked at the barn I could only imagine my Grandfather being a very hard-working and devoted father and husband. I knew that my mother cried “Wolf” a lot and could not imagine him beating her as she said he had.

After the family reunion I had blown up balloons of self-delusion and had let them wander through the clouds of my mind. I had allowed myself to believe that my mother had a charmed childhood. I began to suspect that somewhere in that little town I grew up in, there was a treasure chest of happiness. I just hadn’t been given the key.

Thank God I got to stay at my Aunt’s house on the way to and from the family reunion. She is a ball of energy and a wonderful lady to talk with. We both understand the idiosyncrasies of our extended family unit. I can talk to her about anything and feel safe. On the way back to Texas I spent the night at her house.

My aunt sensed my delusion. When I told her how wonderful it was that the cows were brought in the barn when it was cold outside, she said it didn’t happen that often. She also said she had been scared as a young lady due to the violent outbursts that occurred between my grandparents.

The knife of truth slashed through the delusional balloon of my grandparents fairy tale life, with the reality that their relationship had been fraught with conflict. Some of that conflict would be considered child abuse in this day and age. Not something I would ever consider a legendary trait to pass on to my children.

I quickly distracted the conversation to engage my Aunt in discussing one of my cousins. He was surrounded by his children and grandchildren and looked so peaceful at the reunion. The coziness of cousins and family that this man had embracing him was surely a fairy tale. I was certain that that delusional balloon could waft in and out of my thoughts with no danger of reality popping it.

My aunt said with a firmness in her tone. “He is an alcoholic, he has been in rehab. Your uncle has counseled him. My cousin admitted that every day was a struggle for him, in his battle with alcohol.”

I could hear the whooshing of the delusional balloon as it disintegrated into nothingness.

In short, my childhood home was not a fairy tale. Neither was the years that I had stayed in that little town. My mother was temperamental and unstable in her emotions. My grandfather had been abusive. The pretense that we put on every time we went to church or out in public was just that… a pretense.

Yet I am determined to block bitterness from my heart. I know it is a keen and close companion to disappointment. I realize that as a little girl I never felt at peace in that town or in my childhood home. I did not sleep well at all and I always felt on edge. It is different in the home I have in Texas. I don’t have people judging me nor condemning me. I have been able to live my life in a free and easy manner because I do not have family constantly around. I also don’t live in a small town where everyone is gossiping about everyone else.

I love my mother and my grandfather, even though they both were filled with conflict. I have learned the delicate art of forgiveness. I realize that my life has not been a fairy tale but those are few and far between in the land of reality and truth. I imagine that living with truth may be harsh, but it is not the trickery road of deceit that fairy tales so carefully spin to catch you in their web.


FAMILY REUNION

I drove back to Nebraska for a family reunion this weekend. It was a huge affair. My Grandfather on my Mother’s side of the family was one of six boys. Although all of the boys have passed away, their children have propagated. It was reported that 174 of us had decided to attend.

The get together was held at my Grandpa’s farm. His father had built the farm over 100 years ago. I was amazed when I looked at the barn. The barn had held twelve-sixteen dairy cows. When my uncle told me just how my grandfather had treated those heifers, I knew that they had felt loved. The barn had aged more than a century but it was still standing, without any signs of stress. I marveled that my great grandfather could build such a wonder.

My heart started yearning for a lifetime I had never known. The one which my grandfather had lived. A lifetime of hard work and hard play. With five brothers, there was always some fun going on. As my uncle told me how they would call the dairy cows in to milk, keeping them inside the barn when it was cold outside, the yearning grew. They milked the cows twice a day, first milking by hand and then by an electronic device. He said it could be ten degrees outside but when the cows were all in the barn, with the doors closed, it would approach 60 degrees inside.

I don’t remember seeing the cows in the barn. Soon after I was born my uncle and aunt started living in the house. I remember one time when I came over to visit, my grandpa had just come in from milking and he smelled horrible. He said it was because he had just milked the cows. Maybe that is why I never thought the dairy cows were worth investigating.

One of my favorite memories was when my aunt would call and say that they had gotten the baby chicks in. My mother would load me and my brother up in the car and we would drive out to see the sea of yellow fuzz. A few months later my mother would be butchering some of those chickens and I would try to hide during that time. I couldn’t bear to see their heads being cut off but I sure did enjoy the fried chicken my mother would cook up.

The location of my Grandpa’s farm was heavenly. It was situated on the banks of the Beaver Creek. I went walking a bit with my niece and we marveled at the wondrous beauty of the creek. Then when we came back one of my relatives took us on a short drive in his 1947 Fairlane Galaxy and we got to see his residence and his son’s house. Being that close to the Beaver creek was like stepping out of reality and falling right into paradise. It is the most beautiful place in the world. Driving in a classic car through paradise is an over the top amazing experience!

As I reflect on this weekend, I realize I had not appreciated my childhood in the years I was living it. The bullying I endured during junior high and high school and my mother’s ill temper stole a great amount of joy that was for the taking. As I look back through the window of my memories I try to enlighten my gaze with forgiveness. With each memory my heart grows more homesick, it is the first time I have missed my place of origin and my heart is tortured with the memories of what were and more than that, with the memories of what could have been….

THE END OF A RAINBOW

Today as I was driving through Oklahoma the most unusual event occurred. I had to drive through blinding rain and feared that my rental car would get pummeled with hail. I kept praying for my car and then expanded my prayers to those farmsteads along the highway. There was some pea size hail but nothing which would damage the car. I didn’t see any damage along the way happening to the farmers either.

In addition to my fear regarding the hail I was also concerned that my car would stay on the highway. The rain let up for just a minute when I saw a rainbow in the Eastern sky. I saw the full arc of the rainbow and started praising God for the beauty of it. Then something very unusual happened. It is like God picked up that rainbow and moved it right in the field next to me. I actually saw the start of a rainbow! I have never ever seen the start of a rainbow where it was almost so close I could touch it.

I pulled off the road trying to take a picture with my stupid cell phone which didn’t cooperate at all. I was still getting rained on so I finally gave up. Some things are just meant to be memories and nothing else I guess.

I thought at first it was crazy that this would happen in Oklahoma of all places. I never gave Oklahoma credit for giving birth to anything good. Then I realized that someone in my blogging audience may have been treated like they were not any good. They may be going through a blinding storm in their life and not know if they can stay on the right road or not.

All I can say to that person is “hold on tight honey because the start of the rainbow is about ready to be dropped down right next to you.” I can tell you one thing; it is the most amazing end to a storm. Not only will you enjoy the rainbow but you will also realize how strong you have become due to the storm you survived.

I must confess I have felt as if I haven’t been near devoted enough to God lately. I do pray but I have not studied His Word like I should, nor attended church on a regular basis. Then He does something plum amazing like this that totally blows my mind and I realize it isn’t at all about what I have done but about who He is. He just defies all sense of normality with His amazing self and this is only one of the many events He has placed in my life which drops my jaw to the floor in awe. I could go on and on about Him but I know what you all are thinking… where is that pot of gold?

Well, I didn’t see it anywhere. I didn’t really look to be honest but somehow I think to have a God who keeps His covenant even when we consistently and tirelessly fail to keep our end of the deal is greater than gold.

PLAYING THE MARTYR

The martyr role is such a stunning role to play is it not? I think of the people in my life who continually play the victim role. There is usually someone who has made them the victim. Most commonly it is a spouse, sometimes an ex-spouse and at other times an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend.

The martyr will go on and on about how horrible this person has treated them, regaling their friends with tales of woe. Giving the person who they are complaining about credit for all of the despair they are currently feeling.

If you listen long enough you will realize there is something in the dynamic of being a martyr which is wrong. Many of those who are martyrs long for the one who made them such. They say they miss the feeling of being with them. Either that or they don’t ever break off the relationship with the one who has hurt them. Some even continue to act as if they are married to the person when their marriage has ended several years back.

Many times they beg for the perpetrator to come back. Is it because they like complaining so much? Is it because they like being demeaned? Or is it because that is the only way they feel like they can connect with someone else because if someone pities them… then they are connecting.

My mother has played the victim role all of her life and I have detested that about her. It is interesting how so many of the men I date have that role perfected. I wonder sometimes if I am trying to fix her or are men just that mixed up?

God does not ask you to be a martyr for others. He does not want you to go back into a relationship which does not breathe life into yours. The only reason we should be a martyr is because of our Faith. To suffer and maybe even die for Christ is not being a martyr; it is taking the key of death from the devil to open up Paradise.


IS TINDER TENDER?

I never met the man. His picture on Tinder was interesting, not really handsome, just interesting. I am intrigued by interesting, so when we were a match on Tinder I decided to give him a chance.

It started with a message on Tinder. He had asked me out to dinner and I had accepted. The first time he called me I felt as if I was going through an inquisition.

The questions were thrown at me with velocity, almost as if anger were the driving force.

“What do you do for a living?” I replied that I worked in home health.

“Which church do you go to?”

“Well I used to go to Gateway but now I go to a neighborhood church that is much smaller. I like the smaller aspect of this church.”

“Are you a night owl?”

“Well, sometimes I stay up late but not always.”

He interrupted rudely. “This is a yes or no question. Are you or aren’t you a night owl?”

“I would say I can be a night owl on most nights.”

He replied with firmness in his tone. “I can stay up till one or two in the morning and then get up at five am and go to work and if I go to bed at ten pm then I wake up at three am. I don’t need sleep.”

I was tempted to say that he may need sleep more than he suspected because he was just a more rude than most chaps… but I held my tongue in check.

He asked me out to dinner the next night. It was a Monday night. Monday nights are my Bible Study nights and for the record I love hanging out with my group of friends as we study the Bible. I find that the comfort I receive from that family of God far supersedes any fun or excitement I have on most dates.

So we made arrangements to have dinner together on Tuesday night. He said he would call me when he was done with work.

I didn’t give it much thought on Tuesday. I noticed I had a voicemail at about 7-8 that evening and instead of listening to it, I just called him back.

He started to tell me what he had done all evening, as if we were old friends and this was a common occurrence. In the conversation he mentioned that he had already had dinner. Then he said “You can come over to watch television with me on my couch.”

Really?!!! Wow! This guy lives clear across town from me, it was dark, I never drive in the dark and he wanted me to watch TV with him. Golly Gee, how exciting! NOT!!!

I rarely watch TV at all. In fact the most glorious week of my life was last summer in the Dominican Republic where there was no TV and I was privileged to engage in meaningful conversation with my son.

The really hilarious aspect of this conversation was that his tone of voice suggested that watching TV was a magnificent way to spend the evening.

I paused for just a second then decided I may as well burst this guy’s bubble sooner rather than later. “Well, right now I am walking and when I get done doing that I will be going back to work. Most evenings I am documenting on my computer in my home and I never watch TV. I usually work most evenings because that is what my job requires me to do. (I didn’t mention to him that I have most weekends free because I don’t intend to waste them sitting on someone’s couch watching other people live their lives on a stupid black box.)

His response stunned me. “Well, then why are you wasting my time? Why are you even online? You are just wasting everyone’s time. You should take your profile down!” He was really angry and he hung up on me.

I heard a faint knock on my heart saying. “You know he meant to hurt you. You should cry a few tears at least. You really do work a lot of hours and it does make it very difficult for you to invest time in a relationship.”

The knock was the devil trying to get into the locked room of broken dreams and heartache. A room I have locked with Faith and Hope that God is in control and He will keep my heart within His hands until the man I am to marry finally meets me.

I kept walking and then busted out in laughter instead of tears. This man was merely not the one for me. I was so thankful that he had been honest and truthful right up front instead of wasting my time with manipulation. I hope he finds someone who really enjoys watching television with him but it wasn’t going to be me because as soon as I got home I was going back to work.