A WHISPER

I have had a difficulty with my voice for over a year now. Since I have a paralyzed right vocal cord there is too much air escaping when I try to talk. All I can do currently is whisper.

This is quite the predicament to be in when you work with the elderly. Most of them have lost quite a bit of their hearing. When they tell me to speak up it is impossible for me to do.

Yet my company still keeps me employed and the dear old folks I go to visit suffer my weakness with great kindness. Somehow I always get through each day even though my voice does present a challenge.

As I continue to struggle with this I have sought God to see what I am supposed to learn from this trial.

Within the past month I think I have found my answer. In James 1:19, God says, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

I have found that when all I can do is whisper I measure my words very carefully. lol

THE BACK STORY

Usually I write inspiring posts for this blog but sometimes feel as if I need to lay a foundation for a post. This piece is kind of the back story for the post I will release tomorrow. So, as the story goes…

Last year I got a horrible sinus infection while coming back from my parents place on an airplane. I responded to it as I respond to most health problems. I ignored it.

It kept getting worse. I happened upon a patient who had become disabled when a sinus infection had transposed the blood brain barrier. This poor man had suffered several strokes as a consequence of his sinus infection and was now bed bound. I was starting to get headaches which I NEVER get and after seeing this man I made an appointment with my doctor.

I was prescribed LEVAQUIN which knocked out my sinus infection but also took my voice. Instead of going to my doctor and demanding a blood test to check to see if I had infection, I did what any other nurse who is well connected does. I called a friend of mine who was a doctor and asked him to throw some more antibiotics my way. He is a good friend and did just that.

My throat was in such agony I could barely swallow for three to five months. I finally went to the ER and had them do some testing on me and they said I did not have an infection.

My next step was to go to an ENT doctor who told me that I had a paralyzed vocal cord and he needed to “beef” it up. He couldn’t tell me what “beefing” it up meant, nor would he say that “beefing” it up would give me back my voice.  At times I could talk almost as if I had never had a problem but most of the time I just whispered. So I didn’t go for the surgery.

Then my voice got much worse and all I could do was whisper.

This year I decided to try a different ENT. I told her straight off that I needed more information about the procedure if I was going to do it. She explained that my left vocal cord was enlarged and my right vocal cord was paralyzed. Apparently the two must touch each other to make sound. My right vocal cord had atrophied to the extent that my left could not meet it.

She was even sweet enough to send me to a speech therapist who actually showed me pictures of my vocal cords.

Then she explained that “beefing” up was injecting a filler such as collagen, or hyaluronic acid into the right vocal cord to build it up. Then the left could actually touch it when trying to make sound. (Kind of reminds me of some kind of sick romantic story.)

With all of this information I could make an informed consent on my surgery and that is now scheduled for October 12th. For those of you who feel led to pray for me I would greatly appreciate this. There are dangers associated with this surgery; such as bleeding, or too much filler, which could lead to my airway closing up. So prayers are needed.

I do believe that God is in control and if you are so kind as to read my post tomorrow you may understand what I have learned from this trial. (wink, wink)

MY INNER JOY

I used to be so happy when I was a little girl. I would wake up just bursting with joy. There were many times as a single mother I could barely contain my joy when I saw my children in the morning.

My joy had nothing to do with my circumstances.

I was raised in a home with a mother who was depressed and angry due to bitterness over the way others had treated her.

I was not popular in school and when I was in junior high and high school I was the victim of horribly bullying. Yet I still had an inner joy.

Anyone who has been a single mother can tell you it is not easy. Raising children and having to do everything without a partner is a very difficult road to travel. My ex was not able to provide a large child support check so I had to work a lot while also raising my children. He did remain very involved in their lives though and still provides great counsel to them when asked. So thankful for that.

Yet, when I think back on those years I do not remember the nights that I cried myself to sleep. I remember it as being the greatest amount of fun I have ever had in my entire life.

Over the course of the years though, my joy has diminished. Lately I have missed it more than I can say.

It was a surprise to me when I felt it creeping up in my Spirit last Sunday. All I had planned was church and then to go to a Celebration of Life service for my friend that had passed away.

I woke up that morning with joy springing forth. I had to go to church early to help set up the coffee. We meet in a warehouse and have to set up and take down each Sunday.

I arrived a little late and I don’t want to do that again. I also could not stay to tear down and I hope to do that next time I have the privilege of serving. Yet just being with that church family is like being hugged by God. They are so very welcoming.

I still  had the Celebration of Life service for my friend  though. I thought I would be a mess of tears but I wasn’t. It was such a beautiful memorial to her. Everyone was talking about what a loving person she was. She had so many friends and family there who had all been touched by her amazing life.

I still miss her like crazy but when I think of that service I find comfort.  She was such a loving person and, in turn, was so loved by others.

When I think back to where my joy originates, I believe it may originate in serving and loving others, in addition to worshiping God. I am still trying to discover the mystery of my hidden joy.

Where does your joy originate from?

ELVIS

I have some bad news to share.

My cat, Elvis, has passed due to kidney failure. He was named that because he had the most stunning black fur I have ever seen on a cat.

My boyfriend has been caring for Elvis over the past few years. He had taken him because some horrible person had lied to the city of Fort Worth and told them I had thirteen cats.

Although that person meant to do harm, God meant it for good.

My boyfriend and that cat became best buddies. Where there was one, there was the other. He would send me pictures of them watching sporting events and movies together without a millimeter of space between them on the rocking chair.

My boyfriend put Elvis on a diet and he lost a good amount of weight. When he was at my house he never used to run because his favorite activity was eating and laying in the sun.  At my boyfriend’s house he would sprint the length of the house.

He was happy and he was loved from the minute he was born to the very end of his life. My boyfriend’s vet even took him home during the night when he was in kidney failure.

When I went over to my boyfriend’s house I always gave him treats and he would always be so excited to see me. Or maybe he was just excited about the treats because he was so happy there it didn’t faze him when I walked in the door.

My boyfriend had also taken Elvis’ sister. Elvis and his sister were always loving on each other.

If all cats and humans could be loved the amount that Elvis had been, the world would be one of peace and contentment. His life was shortened due to undetected Diabetes and the corresponding kidney failure. But I believe his life was lived to the fullest due to the love he received and gave back.

I would encourage anyone who reads this post to love their family, friends and animals to the best of their ability. I have lost a best friend, Kathy Raney, and an amazing cat, Elvis, all within the span of one month.

I take comfort in knowing that God has both in heaven and that I loved both while they are on earth, yet the tears still explode down my cheeks whenever I think of them.

I Corinthians 13:13 “13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

If those of you who pray could keep me and my boyfriend in your prayers I would be grateful. September has been a difficult month for me and the passing of Elvis has been heartbreaking for my boyfriend.

 

THE GIRLS

I had met the first of the three girls several years back. She was in her 90’s.

I came to love her when I was her home health nurse. She was bed bound at the time I took care of her. Even though she had a pressure ulcer and C diff she was still so pleasant.

Her husband was still living and he did as much as he could but he wasn’t in good health either so the amount he could do was minimal. She also had a cute little lady friend who lived with her and she was in her 90’s also.

We became so close that I was invited to her birthday party. We had so much fun together.  Each time I left her we said we loved each other because we did.

Soon she moved into a facility and I lost track of her.

When I started working for my current company I was asked to fill in for another nurse on some of her cases. I did so without knowing that I would be taking care of the little lady friend.

The first girl had passed on and now the lady friend was rooming with her husband. I enjoyed reconnecting with her.

Just a few weeks ago I had another patient of mine whose daughter refused to give her the antibiotics that the doctor had ordered. I kept telling her that if she didn’t give the antibiotics her mother would not beat the Cellulitis that had infected her legs. She said a friend of theirs had died of C diff and she was not going to let that happen to her mother.

We got to talking more and I found out that she was referring to my former patient who had passed away. Apparently these three girls had been friends for quite a long time and had a history of having a blast together.

I don’t know how on earth I got the privilege of taking care of three wonderful friends which were all in their 90’s. I think it had to be orchestrated in heaven by the first girl who passed away because I had changed companies and I didn’t even know that the first two were acquainted with the third girl.

I know that they all loved God and I am so honored that He has allowed me the privilege of taking care of “the girls.”

 

The loss of a friend

I lost a friend last week. She passed on. I am sure I have told you about her because she was a one of a kind sweetheart. She was physically disabled but more alive than most people I know.

My friend couldn’t walk. She had some rare form of Muscular Dystrophy. She also had had Breast Cancer and Diabetes. She kept telling me that she was getting tired. I encouraged her to limit her activities.

My friend didn’t. It wasn’t her nature to say “No” to anybody. In fact, most times when I called her she would ask me if there was anything she could do to help me.

My friend and her husband took me to the rental care place  when I needed to rent a car for trips and out for dinner many times. They refused to ever let me pay because I had been a nurse to her husband at one time. I guess they felt as if they needed to pay for my meals. I tried to be sensitive to their financial stress and not become a burden to them.

My friend was my greatest cheerleader as far as my novel went. She is the only person in the entire world that has ever read any of my current manuscript and she raved over it.

My friend was at home when she died of a heart attack.

I can’t even begin to tell you how broken-hearted I am that my friend  is no longer here on earth. I keep missing her. I keep crying. I keep wanting her to be there for me but I know she is with God. I know she is happier with Him.

As I view my life I realize how much I learned from her. Even though she had to use a scooter to get places that rarely stopped her from going anywhere. Although she had been a type A person, when she became handicapped she accepted the curve ball that life had thrown her with amazing grace.

I stopped in to see her many times and I don’t remember her ever being discouraged or depressed. She loved others with her whole heart and I realize now that she is gone home how deeply I loved her.

There is to be a celebration of life memorial for her in a couple of weeks. She wanted to be cremated. I hope I can stop crying by then…

I know there will never be another Kathy Alexander Raney. She was one of a kind amazing. I miss her with my whole heart because she was one of the best friends I have ever known. I love you girl, to eternity and back with all of my heart and soul. You were the best!

WHY GOD?

Have there been times in your life when you don’t understand how a God who loves you could allow you to be so heartbroken and not step in to stop it?

I had a time like this several years ago.

It was when my two boys became convinced that they should go live with their Dad in Florida. I was so hurt by this that I refused to listen to their reasoning.

My lawyer had told me that they had said nothing bad about me behind closed doors but they missed their Dad and wanted to live in Florida.

Why Florida?

In addition to the beach and Disney world; Florida has an awesome system of education, not only for their high school students but also a program for college. I had taught all of my children the importance of education and they saw Florida as an open gateway to better education.

Their Dad had been very involved in their life, even though our divorce happened when they were young. When he was living close by me he took them every weekend. So it wasn’t like he was an absentee Dad who decided he wanted to step up to the plate of parenting when the children were almost grown. He had been a present “coach” in their lives all along.

Yet, I was heartbroken. My children were the essence of my life. Every decision I made in life took them into consideration. Why would God allow this to happen?

The answer came to me one night. It is interesting to me how God can flood my consciousness with His reasoning and it all makes sense in the flash of a second.

The reason my sons were allowed the privilege of living in Florida with their Dad and Stepmother, was because my daughter needed me .

She had moved away at about the same time the boys had. We hadn’t been close for several years. She had graduated early from high school and decided to pursue a career as a sales person. This job moved her to Kansas City, Baltimore, Kansas City and then back into my home.

She had always been a social butterfly while in Texas. Unfortunately, when she moved to the Midwest and Baltimore it was like she lost her wings. She called me, as if to seek the shelter of the cocoon which had nurtured her through her youth. We had some heart to heart talks and there were plenty of care packages sent her way.

Then she moved back into my home, for which I am grateful.

When my boys left to go live with their Dad it began the healing process for my daughter and I. If my sons had been home I may have not had the same level of compassion for her. God needed for me to be totally committed to loving her.

I am still healing my wounds from this time in my life but I know that God sees the future and He is a God of love. I know He loves me but even more than that… I am certain He is crazy in love with my daughter and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

FOUNDATION ISSUES

I must admit when I had my home built in 2007 I had no idea that ten years later I would have significant foundation issues. Yet with each passing day, cracks in my walls seem to propagate like flies on honey.

I have needled the construction company from the first year about the issues I was seeing with my foundation. They proceeded to have 3-4 different surveys of my home done by different Structural Engineering firms. Each time they said there was some movement in my foundation but not enough to warrant intervention by them.

I became very upset over this and tried again and again to get them to remedy the situation. As a woman who has been a single mother for 20 years, I really have difficulty with men who assume that ignoring me is an OK thing to do.

So I asked a friend of mine for an attorney. I was intending to sue the construction company.

Yet, as a Christian, the Bible says I should not sue, if at all possible. So I prayed about this and sought God.

The Holy Spirit told me it was a water, not foundation issue.

It took me awhile to get off of my soap box of emotion and indignation. My indignation did not lead me to call a lawyer.  However, I  did look into different foundation repair companies and was not impressed.

Then I went back to God and prayed some more remembering that it was a water, not foundation issue.  When I looked at the diagrams and the measurements of my home I noted that my garage was sinking. My garage is in the front of  my house and doesn’t get much water. The backyard is almost always a bit of a swamp because I am on the bottom of a gentle slope. So I definitely needed drainage in the backyard but I didn’t want to take any water away from the garage area. So I was going to have to design my drainage system and see if a drainage company could understand what I was trying to do.

I got three bids on the job and only one of them fit within my budget. I liked the guy who was inexpensive a lot better than the other men. I told him I wanted a french drain through half of my back yard and then a regular drain (pipe) on the side of my house and then another french drain turned on its side so that the water could seep out, not in, coming next to my garage.

I had to explain it to him a couple of times but he finally understood the design. I do intend to drop in and out on both days that they are doing the work to make sure the installation is what I want but I don’t think there will be a problem.

This has been a ten-year journey for me and at times I have been very indignant. I have decided to turn away from wrath because as it says in James 1:20 “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness which God so desires.”

I am kind of patting myself on the back just a little because not only did I turn away from wrath but I, with the Holy Spirit, also custom designed a drainage system for my yard. Who would have thunk I could every do something like that?

 

DISAPPOINTING THE HOMELESS

I had to go that way anyhow. I might as well call my homeless friend and ask her if she needed some food.

She did. She said she was starving. So I started to prepare a lunch for her.

Then my phone rang. My son needed some information to apply for financial aid.

He said he needed it immediately. So I scurried to my bedroom, got the information, packaged it quickly and took it to my nearby post office.

I called my friend and told her I was sorry but I was gonna be late with lunch. I apologized profusely to her because I thought this poor lady has probably not eaten much all day long.

She said, “It is ok.”

I said, “I am so sorry, I don’t want to disappoint you.”

She said, “You could NEVER disappoint me. I love you.”

That statement dropped like a bomb into my consciousness.

Here is a woman who lives out of a tent in the woods. She has such a dynamic personality that people are drawn to her. She uses her vivacious personality to minister to others and her church building is the neighborhood Starbucks.

She has absolutely nothing but yet she has absolutely everything.  She has to live every moment relying on the kindness of others and having faith that God will sustain her and those who minister to her.

Every time I provide something for her she prays over me, and each time she prays for my prosperity.

I have never mentioned to her that I was having difficulty financially. She sensed that from God. Yet my financial difficulty is a joke compared to where this woman is at. She is at the bare necessity level and I am at a level which is nowhere near that. Yet she is full of God and can not be disappointed when my chaotic life delays her lunch.

After having this conversation with this awesome woman of God I realized how many times I have thought I disappointed God. But how could I? I have accepted Jesus into my heart as my savior. When God looks upon me he doesn’t see my sin but instead the perfection of His love through the transforming power of his Son, Jesus Christ. That is a pretty awesome lesson to learn from a daughter of God who is currently without a home.

So thankful for her.

My mother’s gift of gardening

My mother has spent countless hours in her garden. She used to have our house littered with house plants. Many times she would not go on trips because she did not want to leave her plants. I frankly thought she was a little nuts in the gardening department.

She encouraged me to start gardening when I moved down to Texas. I told her “Absolutely not! I was not going to get my fingers that dirty. After all, I was a nurse and hygiene is important to a nurse.”

Then I got a divorce.

After my divorce I redecorated my son’s bedroom. I used to change the decor in my house for every season. It was such a fun house to decorate but it needed more. I needed to do something in the back yard…. So I started planting flowers. A patient of mine had given me a beautiful plum-tree and my husband had planted a live oak in the back yard, so I had to learn how to work with shade loving plants and work it I did.

My backyard was amazing at my old house. I didn’t garden just for the aesthetic effect though. One of the main reasons why I gardened was to have a common connection with my mother. Something which she could take credit for and be proud of me for doing.

I have texted her numerous pictures of my beautiful flowers and have spent long, hot, sweaty days baking in the sun tending the “connection to my mother”.

As I have gardened I have gained knowledge. There have been plenty of plants that have died from my lack of knowledge so I try my hardest to learn about a plant before I take the step of putting it into soil. Many times I throw out my nuggets of wisdom to other unsuspecting gardeners at Lowe’s or Calloway’s. The other gardeners are always thankful for the knowledge that I have gained.

There has been an unsuspecting benefit of my work to find a common thread with my mother. I now have learned that the same thread that binds me to my mother, can also bind me to other women who love to garden. All of my close confidants love to garden. We are not yet at the point where we are sharing roots but I can feel that is coming soon in some of my friendships.

As a writer it is at times difficult for me to spend days on end pulling weeds. I would rather write. I remember reading an interview about Nora Roberts and they asked her how she could write so many books. Her answer was,”Well, I don’t garden.” How funny!

So my solution to that predicament is to hire out some of the weeding. That way I can have both my writing and my gardening but more importantly I have a connection to other women. That connection brings me so much joy because it has paved the road for a friendship with my mother as well as other women.

What a gift my mother has given me…