Monday, July 29, 2013

what I'm not doing this week

I think I've now read/skimmed/observed a hundred Facebook/blogger posts about getting ready for school.

I'm not.

I have family coming to visit next week. So what I am doing this week is scrubbing cobwebs and fungus off the back porch, laundry, mopping floors, cleaning out the garage, and sewing.  Other than the back porch and the garage, it's just life as usual.

Well, not totally. Tomorrow is an exception.

And I'm starting a new project today (as opposed to the uncountable unfinished projects I alread have going).  Three years ago several friends and an out-of-state quilt show (I'll tell more details later) prompted the crazy idea to enter a quilt at the state fair. I did start a quilt that year, and decided there was no way, no how that quilt would either be finished or acceptable for the state fair that year. And I was write. (I did finally finish it last month, though.)  Saturday night I sketched out a few things, and Bobby helped me measure stuff and figure out dimensions. And today? I'm ready to start cutting. My goal is to spend 30 minutes to an hour every weekday until this thing is finished.  I need to double-check, but I think the entry deadline is the end of September. I'm more than a little excited.

And that's how my "end of summer" routine is shaping up. :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013


This past Saturday Cordova High School Class of 1991 lost its second member.
Jermaine Cook was 40 years old, has two children, and served our country in the US Army for 15 years.We knew him as "Wormy".  I don't know how he got that name, whether it was because he was short and wiry, or from his football skills, or from constantly moving, but it stuck.I remember him laughing, the group of guys he hung out with, and his rap performance in the school talent show (he did quite well).And those days still seem like yesterday.So this Saturday while I'm at a family reunion in North Carolina, my heart and thoughts will be in Alabama with my classmates as they cross the tracks to Mt. Zion church and weep and reminisce. I wish I could be there with them, to chat, to hug, to speak to his Mom. The night of our graduation, our principal challenged us to look around the room at everyone before we marched out, for that night would most likely be the last time we saw some of our classmates. We thought that was just dumb. But Mr. Cooper, once again, you were right.  We started out that school year with 55, by graduation we had 52. And since that night, we've lost two more. I guess sometimes ignorance truly is bliss. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I was going to blog about gardening and time and whether or not it's worth it today, but about every three minutes I hear a noise here in the study. I don't know if it's paper's settling, a bird outside the window trying to build a nest, or a mouse, but it's really starting to creep me out. I think Bobby might get the computer early today.
And having said that, it's on to housework and errands! No more creepy noises for me!

Monday, July 22, 2013

the little things

In all of the media (both news and social) hoopla surrounding the Zimmerman/Martin case, my mind keeps going back to the simple truths my parents instilled in me as a child.  As adults, we tend to focus a lot on theological doctrines, but I'm finding it's those small, simple truths that truly alter how society functions. 

Truth #1: the Golden Rule
Do unto others as you would have them to do unto you.  Or the modern paraphrase of that, "Treat others the way you want to be treated."  As Mom loved to remind me, it's not "treat you sister the way she treats you" or "treat her in a way that protects your interests"  but the way you'd like for her to treat you.  And when we apply that to our neighbors, a waitress, a sales clerk, DMV workers, the teenager messing up our house, it radically alters a situation.

Truth #2: Be KIND, Tenderhearted, Forgiving one another LIKE CHRIST FORGAVE YOU!
The being kind part is probably the easiest of that statement, but having a tender heart towards the people who broke into my house or flipped us off because we were driving too slow in their opinion is not easily done. But there are no exemption clauses here, and our treatment of others, even the less honorable of society, still remains as a reflection of Christ's treatment toward us. I fear too many times I'm a poor reflection of Christ in this category.

Truth #3: Life is sacred.
There are few times in Scripture when God allows life to be taken.  One is in retaliation for murder that wasn't self-defense. The second is during a time of war.  The third doesn't apply to us in America, as it relates to the theocratic state of Israel. (Priests were often commanded to kill those who violated the laws of the land that dealt with issues of allegiance to God.)  Sometimes I think those of us in the south who were raised on a steady diet of God, family, country forget to focus on the sacredness of life. We're all about guns and gun safety, but we don't drive home how sacred blood and life is.  Without this balance, our actions, words, and behaviors are often a bit skewed.

Truth #4: Perfect love casts out fear.
The Apostle Paul's admonition to Timothy covers a multitude of areas. While my Mom used this verse, along with others, to make me evaluate just how concerned my 5 year old mind was about my poor bear left in the van in the dark (if I was that concerned about it I would go out there by myself and get it), as an adult I've realized it applies to so much more. When I'm truly viewing others the same way that Christ sees them, my fear of bodily harm diminshes greatly. I don't/won't see people as thieves or beggars or drug dealers, but as humans created by God who greatly need His healing touch.

I have a lot of opinions on the trial and gun ownership and race relations in America, but the more I think about them, the more I realize that those topics of conversation would not be necessary if people actually lived out their faith instead of just talking about it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

the little things

It's funny how little things can remind you of a loved one.
Being in the kitchen, sewing, laundry, fishing...those things always remind me of my Mom and Granny Rea. Working in the garden or listening to someone talk about their family...Ma White.
This past week it was the oddest thing that took me back.. a simple scrambled egg sandwich.

The first one I ever had was from Granny Rea's lunch bag.  We were helping Dad clean and start closing out the Home & Auto store he managed for several years, and Dad was busy with a customer when it came time for lunch. We normally went next door to the Handy Dandy and bought a hot ham and cheese sandwich, but as the customers kept streaming in and the phone kept ringing, Granny offered me half of her sandwich. I had never heard of an egg sandwich. She opened it up to show me what it looked like. It had pepper on it.  To my four year old mind, that was an instant no.  But as time passed and Dad still wasn't free, and Granny kept insisting I not be a chicken and "try it" matched my hunger and I gave in.  And it was good. 

And several decades later, I make them for myself. And as I liberally sprinkle black pepper on it, I think of a blue-eyed niece who reminds me so much of Granny Rea but who thinks pepper will burn her mouth and stomach to pieces, and I smile. I guess history is definitely bound to repeat itself.

Monday, July 15, 2013

matters of the heart

A few months ago, a girl who sat beside me in high school band and is my sister's age (they were actually born on the same day!), had a massive heart attack. I haven't seen her in years, but I remember her as very petite. I don't think heart problems ran in her family, so I was quite surprised.

I was even more surprised to read that she had another attack requiring three more stints this past week. She's only 38, and yet she's had two serious heart attacks.

She's the second person from home to have a heart attack while in their late 30s. And that scares me more than a little.

I had to do my labwork this morning. I know next week my Dr. will be most unhappy that I've gained all my weight back from six months ago. Changes are ahead for me. I know that. But for some reason starting this fight AGAIN seems even harder. It's more frustrating this round, more discouraging.

I'm hoping for good numbers when I see the doctor next week, but I'm not really holding my breath.  Well, my blood pressure has been good (although after watching a toddler hit his 80 year old grandmother and then throw his shoe at her and it coming near me while his mother TOTALLY ignored him in the waiting room this morning certainly had it soaring!), so hopefully next week won't be all bad news.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking through foods I like and meals we eat and trying to figure out how to modify things once again. At least this part is a little bit easier the second time around.

Friday, July 12, 2013

say WHAT?

Because Bobby graduated from NC State, we're always getting stuff in the mail about trips you can take with the alumni association. (About the only thing we get from Wake Forrest or my alma maters are solicitations.)  Usually I just toss them, but the one this week actually looked interesting, so I was reading through the details (aka the fine print) in hopes of finding accessibility information (for which there was zilch).  But I did find this under the Advance Travel Information:

"Homeland Security laws require that all guests travel with government-issued photo identification (ID) (such as a driver's license) at all times. ID must be presented at the time of boarding. Guests without proper ID will be denied boarding. AQSC is required to provide all guests' ID information including ID number, expiration date, and place of issue to the Coast Guard and/or other government entities prior to the vessel's departure. Guests must provide this information to AQSC in advance. Travel documents will not be released until received..."

The last time I had to "register" with the government was in the People's Republic of China.  As a foreigner, I had to submit my work card and my passport every time I traveled, checked into a hotel, or bought something.  Then I came home in the late 90s and fumed at the grocery stores who required you to register to get a card so you could get the sale prices. And now we have to register with the government before we can buy a ticket to travel on a cruise that does not leave US boundaries. Am I the only one who find this a horrendous overstep of government authority?  I feel as if our freedoms are quietly being stripped away, and no one is protesting in the least. Or if they are, they are being ignored and nothing is changing. And it bothers me greatly.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

fashion questions

We've been reading this week in Exodus, where God has given Moses, Joshua and the 70 elders directions for making the temple. These passages always both excite and frustrate me. It's exciting because I realize something new every time I read them. It's frustrating because I WANT PICTURES!

I have a tendancy to start mentally chasing rabbits while Bobby reads, and some mornings he can tell that my mind is a million miles away when he finishes. I shocked him the other day by not only answering his questions, but drawing an example on the napkin of what I thought the candelabra might look like. I WAS daydreaming, but it was possible designs of what he was reading. :)

And (in addition to the realization there were 70 people on the mountain with Joshua and Moses), I never realized God gave DESIGNS (aka PICTURES) to them while he was giving them instructions. We have our first Biblical recording of a design/trade school. How awesome is that?

Which leads me to today's reading about the clothes for the high priest. (Exodus 28) And I have the following questions for you:

1. The high priest's onyx engraved shoulder you think they hung off the shoulder like Napoleon's or were they tiny strips
like the shoulder pins our military people use?

2.  The Urim and the Thummim (the two dice?)...where did they go inside the breastplate? Was there a special pouch made on the outside, on the inside, or was the breastplate so thick (because it had to hold the 12 jewels with gold casings) that the U&T could bounce around inside it?
3. The rings that held the breastplate against the ephod...were they ropes like the cadets in the above picture are wearing, or rings like we'd have on our keychains?
4. The bells attached to the bottom of the high priest's robe...which do you think they were?

I can see either one being sewn on, but it also makes me wonder if they didn't have a bell that was more jewelry-like.
5.  The embroidery work - beside each bell was an emroidered pomegranate using the colors of blue, silver, and scarlet (on a blue background).  I'm thinking the blue embroidery color had to be a different shade of blue, but I'm also wondering was this variegated thread (where the colors run one into the other), or was each part of the fruit done in a different color?  Did they show an open pomegranate, or just a whole one?
6. Linen breeches from the waist to the thigh - boxers? And for this had to be spelled out in such detail, what did the men wear before that? (and I've always thought it cool that God required the altar to be low to the ground to protect the decency of the priest, and now even requires them to wear extra clothes to proect their purity.)
7. Hats - We have a turban with a gold enscribed plate, sashes, and caps (or bonnets, as the KJV reads).  Do you think the caps of the regular priests resembled the high priest turban (minus the gold enscription), or was it more like Seiks or Arabs wear?
And now I'm wanting to try and make a bell that's small enough to be sewn on clothes and yet still look majestic, as well as an almond branch with blossoms candelabra. Unfortunately, I have way too many other projects to be tackling at the moment.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

it shouldn't but it does

Many years ago I was sitting in fast-food kid's play place with a child whose older sister was up in a crawl space with some other children. We could hear two other children talking with her, and as they began to ask questions about her disability, I could feel her brother bristling beside me. Had he been one of my chickens, every single one of his feathers would have been fluffed out in anger.  Granted, the children weren't asking anything inappropriate nor were they being rude, but it still greatly bothered their sibling. At the time I thought it was precious, and it reminded me of the old saying, "No one but me is allowed to say things about my sister!"

I was reminded of that scenario today. While visiting a friend in the hospital, we passed a woman with her elderly mother. The mother was using a cane and barely moving, and as we passed on our side of the hallway, the daughter turned and said, "Oh, Mom! Wouldn't it be nice if you could have one of those! What do you think?"  And I cringed and bit my tongue.

Yes, that woman's pain would be made a lot more bearable with a wheelchair or scooter. I don't envy her pain or exhaustion. But there are days when I long for my husband to walk beside me, even if it were slow and cumbersome. Nothing rises my ire like an old person saying to Bobby "I wouldn't mind having one of those" while nodding to his chair. And nothing makes me feel guiltier for being angry than realizing someone in pain  is only trying to figure out an easier way to maneuver. Isn't that what we're all trying to do? Without his chair, Bobby is bed bound. Without an electronic chair, Bobby is spatially stuck in one spot. For us, it's not a matter of what is nice or luxurious. It's a matter of existence.

We met a couple a few months ago whose young son suffered an incomplete spinal cord injry as a result of a gun accident. He's now learning to walk with the use of walking sticks, and his last three years have not been easy ones. His father was telling us how much it hurt to see him struggling to swing his leg and move one stick down the rehab hallway, and how he was trying so hard not to cry as he hurt for his son when he heard a voice behind him softly say "I so wish I could do that."  He turned to see another teenager sitting in a wheelchair. For that father, it was a turning point, a moment of gratefulness and some chagrin.

We talk about those feelings sometimes in a support group I belong to. Everyone struggles with their lot in life, but there's always a sub-group below them who looks upward and longs to be there. And maybe that is why I struggle to keep the ungodly, angry person subdued when I hear such comments as I did earlier today - the people who make those comments are not physcially below us on a chart. They can do more and feel more.  And yet, my head has to continuously remind my heart that the ability to feel and do can sometimes bring more pain and discomfort than the inability to feel and do. I should know that better than anyone.  So such comments shouldn't bother me. And yet, they do.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What's in a name?

Thirty plus years ago, something happened to Mom.
She came to the breakfast table and couldn't sit down for the pain. She couldn't turn, she couldn't bend, she couldn't move.
I think it's an understatement to say we kids were concerned and scared.
And our family slowly morphed into a new normal.

Mom would have "flair-ups" periodically after that. Sometimes they would last 2 days; sometimes a month. We learned that extensive housework (washing windows, mopping all the floors) made them worse, though we never quite seemed to convince Mom of that. Sometimes we were awesome children and would try to beat her to some of the chores to spare her back. Sometimes we didn't.

The doctor's treated for rheumatoid arthritis, though the bloodwork consistently showed she did not have it, and their treatments often helped. But not always. With no proper diagnosis and Mom's low tolerance for medicine, we had more than our share of interesting experiences at our house.

Fifteen years passed, my parents moved to SC, and a doctor filling in for Mom's regular doctor was NOT happy when he saw her huge chart. He began grilling her about her health, asking very specific questions that no doctor had ever asked her. He then asked her if she would be willing to undergo a round of tests. He suspected an auto-immune disease in the rheum-family, but wouldn't know until tests were done. He was right. For the first time we had a diagnosis (sjogren's syndrome), and as we read and researched, many things started clicking and making sense about her health that had puzzled us for years. He referred her to a rheumatologist, she began treatments, and for the first time we saw her health improve in many areas. The craziest part of it all? When her regular doctor came back, he was FURIOUS, told her this was all in her head, and chewed out the other doctor for trying to "take over" his practice.

Sadly, this reaction became norm. With every pastorate came a new doctor. With each new visit, she would hear "Oh, you don't have that. I'm sure you really have x,y, or z." And the bloodwork would be done again and again and again. Each time, her numbers would come back off the charts for sjrogen's. But more often than not, she would hear, "Well, you also have this, so let's focus on it."

Yesterday, she met with a rheumatologist who specializes in several auto-immune disorders that are in the same family. And for the first time since that first doctor, Mom felt like she got answers. And I think he was the first doctor not to say "Who told you had sjogrens?" or "You don't have that..."

At this point, we don't know if it's totally sjogren's or lupus, but we do know the treatments are the same for both disorders. He actually took the time to explain to her what many of us have been trying to tell her, that medicines have multiples uses. Just because a medicine says "anti-depressant" does NOT mean that is all it can be used for, nor does that mean it's being used to treat depression. He actually explained that to her in terms she would understand, and agreed that if it caused emotional changes then she needed to stop taking it.

And like Mom said last night, "I really don't care what this is called. I just know I need help."  I don't care if they name this illness cookie breath, I just want her to find something that will help alleviate some of her pain. Realistically, I know she will never be totally pain-free again on earth. But I would like to see her have more than two good days a week.

It's been over thirty years. The fear doesn't grip me like it did then.  But my heart still aches for her.