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2013 Reflections

It’s hard to believe that this is the last day of 2013, isn’t it?

When I think back to this past year, I am amazed at how many things happened…the gamut of emotions involved…the roller coaster ridden with every high and low.

Teaching monopolized most of my energy and time.

I completed my Reading Endorsement and began ESOL Endorsement coursework (which I will finish when I complete one more class in January).

I went through a very difficult professional experience and learned how low people will stoop to further themselves at the expense of others.  It wasn’t fun being someone else’s punching bag.

I grew professionally…in confidence and relationally…both with students and fellow co-workers as I earned their respect and gained new respect for them in return.

I read 45 books…most of them Young Adult.  It’s wonderful that I can recommend books to my students that I’ve actually read…something that is integral to helping students develop a love for reading.

Click to view a larger image

I moved one child out of my home permanently while the other moved back in, filling the void that had been left by his sibling.

I watched as Chicky began her final season of college soccer and cried when it was cut far too short due to injury.

I witnessed the loss of a beloved family pet and the matriarch of our family…both so sad in nature.  Tears still come quickly to my eyes when I think of the special personalities embodied in each precious soul.

I made a Booga Bag for Mama Dot, per her request. This was her reaction when she opened her gift that Christmas…my favorite photo of her…pure joy!

I joined the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup on Ravelry and began knitting more often…making new online friends in the process.  This was the catalyst I needed to partake of my beloved hobby…something I had denied myself because of “work.”

The Mr. and I joined a small group at church and began to stretch ourselves socially within a Christian context.

Ultimately, 2013 was a year of growth.

When I look back, I see how God stretched me.

He chose not to remove difficult circumstances from my life but, instead, made Himself a very real presence in those difficult days.

He showed me His plan for Chicky’s life when He granted her the dream job she’d longed for…mere days after hurting her knee.

He took a bit longer but still showed grace when I read the book Unglued and healed from the hurt from the end of the 2012-2013 school year.

God allowed my relationship with Chicky to mature; she and I are closer now and quicker to forgive one another.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t like to break promises…especially those made to myself.  However, what I would like to do during 2014 is to continue the growth made during 2013.

Every single thing…every person I meet…every experience I live through is a part of God’s plan.

There is NOTHING that He allows that isn’t for a reason.

I know that my ultimate purpose in life is to bring glory to God.

I pray that I do a better job of that in 2014 but am thankful that the Lord has forgiven my lapses in 2013.

Headed Home

I arrived at Chicky’s house twelve days ago.

It’s hard to believe that nearly two weeks have gone by so quickly.

During that time, she had her ACL surgery.  Life, for a few days, passed in four-hour increments…the amount of time between doses of pain medication…

I spent more money at CVS in a five-day span than should be allowed.  Chicky now has a fine assortment of stool softeners, anti-itch medicine, and Advil tablets (for the inflammation in her knee).

By the way, I think some of the above was a bit TMI.

Oh well.

We celebrated Christmas…

Puppy sitting for one of the athletic trainers…

I received lovely gifts.  The earrings were from Super Sis and her family.  They also gave me the jewelry stand.

I got to love on lots of fur babies, including Cali and the others Chicky’s roommate brought home with her on Saturday…

Cali was concerned about Chicky, sensing that things were off.  She has stuck close to her side ever since we got home from the surgery…

Chicky and I tried to get out to stores on the 26th; however, she became too ill from her pain meds, so we had to turn around and go home.

I was determined to get her moving, so we tried again the next day, after she’d quit taking her pain pills, and she fared much better, even riding around Target in a motorized wheelchair.

The 27th was a big day for Chicky; she had her follow-up with the surgeon and her first physical therapy appointment!

The PA in the doctor’s office got her leg to 80 degrees…

This was a huge step and vitally important to achieving full range of mobility again.

Some of the best news was that Chicky could take the immobilizer off and walk with one cane for support.  This made our shopping excursion the next day a lot less cumbersome…especially while we tried on shoes and fun leggings…

Those are my legs in the center picture, and no, I did not purchase the pants, showing great restraint. Had the Little Mermaid pair been available in my size, I would have bought them.

We had a bit of an adventure when we took Chicky’s laundry to a place that did everything for us.  At ninety cents a pound, with a minimum of nineteen pounds, we thought it was a great deal…

Until the woman weighted Chicky’s stuff…

And discovered that she had over thirty-six pounds of dirty clothes and linens.

I went halfsies with her, and we killed four hours of waiting by doing the above shopping.

We also ate a free lunch, courtesy of Tijuana Flats…

Chicky held up like a trooper.  I was extremely proud of her.  Neither one of us napped that day either!  It was a victory all the way around!

Our twelve days together found us watching a LOT of TV.  We decided to watch Prison Break, which I’d watched when the series originally aired and had gotten a hankering to watch after my nail salon played the pilot the last time I got my nails done.

Chicky was hooked from the first show, and we spent hours, end-on-end, watching.  We made it to Season 2, Episode 13, I think.

Our addiction was so bad that as we killed time on Saturday, we would look at each other, smile slyly, and admit to wanting to be back at the house watching TV.

Something I did not do much of during that twelve days was work.  I just didn’t feel like it, despite taking all of my lesson planning stuff and a bunch of grading.

My focus was Chicky…even on the days when I wanted to go into the bathroom and cry because of the way she was lashing out at me…a lot of it because of the pain and sickness from the surgery.

These last twelve days have been about servitude…giving when it’s not easy…forgiving when the hurting is more than physical…compromising when needed but standing your ground at certain times too (“Yes, you have to take these pain killers,” said on the second night home from the surgery).

These last twelve days have been about patience.  I did, after all, invade Chicky’s world…the microcosm of existence that she has created for herself as a bona-fide adult.  I didn’t always do things like she would have done, but I tried.  We both had to bite our tongues more than one, or three, or twenty times during these last couple of weeks.

These last twelve days have been about watching my little girl…not so little, really, this go-around with the ACL surgery (the last one was eight years ago)…fight for independence over the daily tasks that I won’t be here to help her do when I leave today.

While it’s going to be hard not to be with her, protecting her from puppies that might run into her in their exuberance (ahem), reminding her to ice her knee after doing her twice-daily exercises, and dispensing her Advil, I know that God continues to hold her in the palm of His gentle hands.

It’s been such an honor, and I do mean that, to take care of her…tending to her needs…being there when she called out for me in the middle of the night.

We will return to our busy lives, but I’ll never forget this time with my girl…a hidden blessing bestowed upon me by my gracious heavenly Father.

Christmas Is…

What is Christmas to you?

Is it a holiday in which a man in a red suit delivers presents to boys and girls?

It is a time of “good feelings” when people do nice things for each other?

It never fails to amaze me how many people celebrate via cultural traditions with scarcely a nod toward the ONLY reason for the holiday.

Christmas is a time of remembering the One who came down from heaven, in human form, to grow up among the people He had created.

He came to be with us, a world composed of people condemned to die because of sin, so that He could pay the ultimate price…be the final sacrifice for sin.

Christmas is a time of receiving…not giving.

We receive God’s gift to the world…Himself.

If you take away the man-made traditions, that’s all that is left…God and His selfless love for us.

I pray that we (me included) never fail to remember what Christmas really is about.

I hope you enjoy the day with loved ones.  Merry Christmas!

Humbled Gratefulness

It’s a unique Christmas Eve for my family this year.

Chicky opted to have her ACL surgery right before the holiday so she could use her two weeks of Christmas vacation to recuperate without having to take time off…something that would have been frowned upon at the school she just started teaching at.

Normally, Christmas Eve finds us doing the mad dash around town, picking up what really are unneeded items…stopping off at Starbucks for treats and laughter.

This year, I started off the day coaxing Chicky into the car for what we hoped would be our first foray into the real world since Friday.

We had to turn around because she got so nauseous that she was going to be sick, and she proceeded to throw up when we got back to the house.

It wasn’t the ideal start to the day.

I called the doctor’s office, and we changed her pain medicine.  The nurse also called in a prescription for the nausea.

What a sweet lady the nurse was.  She commiserated with Chicky’s troubles and offered a unique way to take the pain medicine…speaking from her own personal experience with the stuff.  She talked to me for at least fifteen minutes before we hung up.

Poor Chicky.  Her body just cannot handle pain medicine.  She’s rarely had to take them over the years, so the foreign chemicals wreak havoc in her body.

While she dozed off on the couch, I drove to the doctor’s office, showed my ID to the clerk, and was given my script.  The clerk was one of the nicest women ever…especially given that this is Christmas Eve.

I took the prescription to CVS, and though the pharmacy was a mad house, the pharmacist patiently answered all of my questions, and the clerk entered Chicky’s information quickly.  Her nausea medicine was already ready for me to take home, and the new pain meds would be ready in an hour.

This is completely unheard of!  I’ve been in pharmacies almost every Christmas Eve for the last twenty years.  Someone in my family ALWAYS gets sick on this day.  I’ve always had to wait three or four hours.

When I returned an hour later, the gal who rang me up asked if Chicky was feeling any better.  Her sympathy was so sincere.  She was patient, even though there were other customers waiting.

I left with a smile on my face despite my heart that was hurting for Chicky.  I cannot stand when my babies are unwell.

I went straight from CVS to Publix to pick up more fruit.  I’ve been making my famous apple/orange/pineapple juice for Chicky every day, and we were running low on supplies.

The store was c-r-a-z-y, let me tell you, but once again, I encountered patient employees who wore honest smiles.

Even the lady in the McDonald’s drive-thru window had eyes that twinkled when I picked up a Happy Meal for Chicky (she has, as of this moment, eaten the whole thing and kept it down).

Chicky is sleeping as I type this.

I spent some time thinking while I straightened my hair, taking advantage of some down time.

I reflected on the spirit of Christmas, which I just haven’t felt this year.

This season is all messed up for me.

I’ve found myself doing last-minute shopping at Walgreens and CVS.

Desperation and convenience seem to be the order of the day.

As I reflected, I thought of each person I encountered today…each so giving though they had to work…each taking an extra moment or two to make me feel like they were sharing my burdens with me.

Isn’t that what Jesus came to earth to do?

He humbled himself to the point of becoming a baby and came to earth so He could make a tangible difference in our lives.

He sacrificed His seat on the throne of heaven to touch the lives of those who needed Him.

I felt the Christmas spirit today…in each individual who crossed paths with me.

I am humbled.

I am grateful.

It’s been a tough few days, but God’s Spirit is alive, just as it was that first Christmas Eve.

One Tough Cookie

Sorry I haven’t posted in a few days.  The days have passed by in a blur since Friday when Chicky had her surgery.

We drove down on Thursday and met Chicky and her roommate for dinner.  Chicky was in a very chipper mood despite knowing that she would soon be having her knee cut open and a new ACL constructed from her patella.  Her Tweets reflected her eagerness to get the surgery over with.

After we returned to the hotel, I caught up on reading my emails and found a couple from my students (they also attached the essays that had been due the day before)…touching thoughts wishing my Chicky well…

We spent Friday morning shopping for groceries at Sams and Publix.  We knew that we wouldn’t be in any shape to put a lot of effort into cooking, so we wanted to be prepared.

We were told that her surgery was scheduled for 1:30.  Showtime at the surgery center was 12:30 for prep work.

We arrived as told, given a pager and instructions on how things would proceed, and then waited.

Chicky was taken back by herself first to get an IV set up.  Once she was prepped, we were called back to wait with her until it was her time to be taken to the operating room.

We were very nervous, but once again, she surprised us with her winsome smile and easy laughter.  She even allowed me to take a picture of her giving a big thumbs up.

Her roommate arrived at the surgery center and went back to talk to her for awhile.  She left soon after so we could spend the rest of the time with Chicky.

We noticed her appointment time come and go without her being taken back.  It turned out that her actual surgery time was between 3 and 5, and the doctor was running a bit behind.  He had twelve surgeries that day.

Whew!

Finally, he stopped by, and we got to meet him…a very soft-spoken, calm man who, it turned out, hails from a town not too far from us.  Chicky showed him her right leg…the one she was being operated on…the one she had to write the word “Yes” on…the one that her roommate had a bit of fun with and wrote the word in various languages…

We got to ask questions, much to Chicky’s chagrin (she’s all grown up at nearly 22 years old, don’t you know), and we were left to wait some more.

Hurry up and wait seems to be the name of the game when you’re talking about anything medical related, eh?

Still, the staff was very kind and accommodating.

The dreaded moment came when we had to part with Chicky.  It was hard to watch her walk away, but she was laughing as she did, flanked on both sides by animated surgical assistants who, it wound up, were playing rap music in the OR.

We had been told that the surgery would take an hour and a half…two tops.  I set my timer, and we began to grow anxious as we watched the time creep past one hour forty-five minutes.  When it passed two hours fifteen minutes, our stomachs started flip-flopping.  At 2:20, our pager went off.  It was time to have a consultation with the doctor.

He met us in a private room and assured us that the surgery had gone very well and that there was no other damage.  Praise God!  I had been concerned that there might be extra stuff he’d have to fix.  MRIs don’t always show everything.

We were sent back to the waiting room for another twenty minutes before our pager went off for the final time.  It was finally time to be reunited with Chicky.  I was nervous.  The last time we’d visited her in recovery had been bad.

To our surprise, she was sitting up…very groggy…but in a pleasant mood!  Her head kept hanging over, and she kept dozing off, but she was smiling.

She made me take a picture of her leg with the immobilizer on it and post it on Instagram.

Modern technology, eh?

I was shocked when the nurses had her get up and walk, without crutches, to the bathroom to get dressed.  She was on so much medication that she couldn’t feel any pain, and she was able to dress herself, with me standing with my back to her but still in the room with her.

It wasn’t long before we put her in the car and headed to her house.  Still in a good mood, she joked the entire way…albeit slurring her words a bit.  She settled on the couch and had a lucid conversation until the Mr. left to return to the hotel.  I was staying with Chicky.

Chicky watched TV for a while, got up to potty…all the while walking without crutches…and even tried to clean up the house!  She did a bit of a dance before heading to bed.

Ahhh…the effects of anesthesia.  How very deceiving they were!

The Mr. returned the next morning and found a cheerful Chicky.  She’d had a good night and was still motoring around fairly easily.  When he left to return home, we were both laying on the pull-out couch set for a day of watching TV and me waiting on her hand-and-foot.

The rest of the day passed by without too much trouble.

It’s pretty hard to complain when your day looks like this…

Beggar!

Creepy movie…reminded me why I don’t watch these things…

Dog-sitting for the athletic trainer. This little girl has adopted me.

Toward the end of the evening, her pain started to get worse, and her leg started tightening up as the original pain meds worked their way out of her system.

Things turned ugly on Sunday when she woke up barely able to move her leg, in a lot more pain, and feeling very nauseous.  She was also unable to use the bathroom…an unfortunate side effect from the pain medicine.  She finally quit taking her pain meds…simply refused…and I wasn’t about to pull a defensive lineman move, pin her down, and force her to swallow those pills.  She paid the price late that night when she woke up in more pain than she could bear.

She took the pills after that.

God had been gracious, though, and helped her body start doing what it was supposed to do, if you catch my drift.

Poor girl.

That takes us through today, which has been up and down with a lot of aggravation on her part…unwrapping her immobilizer to let her leg breathe…unwrapping and re-wrapping the ACE bandage (I should have taken lessons pre-surgery…seriously)…and still more nausea.

I’m hoping that Christmas Eve will find her able to get out of the house for a few minutes, inhale fresh air, and feel a bit of holiday spirit.

I’m sure looking at my face is getting old by now.

I will say that despite the circumstances, we’ve managed to have some fun.

Our TV time has consisted of episodes of Say Yes to the Dress and Toddlers and Tiaras…both shows I’ve never watched before.

By the way, I find it disgraceful that kids are given sports drinks and such sugar snacks like Pixie Sticks to be able to “perform.”  Sorry to be judgmental, but what are people thinking?!  This show, while funny at times, makes me mad at the way kids are coddled and “beauty” that comes across as fake is applauded.  Sheesh.

Back to this post…

heehee

Please continue to pray for Chicky.  She still has a long road ahead of her.  She will return to work on the 6th.  She has a long way to go before she’s ready.

She’s shown me, once again, what a tough cookie she is…determined to lead life her way, push through obstacles, and come out on top.

I love her to pieces and am grateful that I can be here to take care of her during the toughest days.

All glory to God for the healing He is working in her body and the way He will use her trials to bring glory to Himself.

Going Under the Knife

Today, Chicky is finally going to have surgery to repair her torn ACL.

Because she tore her left one eight years ago (wow, it seems like only yesterday!), we know what to expect this time.

That doesn’t make it any easier though.

She goes under the knife at 1:30 Eastern time, and we sure would appreciate your prayers.

She’s a tough young lady with a high pain tolerance, but this is brutal surgery to recover from, so there will be some long days (and nights) ahead of us.

She’s a very mobile young lady.  Being limited by an immobilizer and a knee that will be painful to bend will not be her cup of tea.

She’s resilient, though, and determined to come back as strong as before.

I know she will.  She the type of girl that champions are made of…full of grit and stubbornness.

Ultimately, it will be the Lord who restores her…of this I am sure.

3 John 1:2

English Standard Version (ESV)

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.

Only We Could Make Things So Difficult

Today began my Christmas vacation.

Although students won’t get out until tomorrow, the Mr. and I took off early to drive to south Florida to be with Chicky when she has her surgery.

I left meticulous substitute lesson plans.  I am a bit of a control freak sometimes.

My to-do list when I got home yesterday was longer than legally allowed, I believe.

One of my tasks was to pick up couches that had been ordered when they were on sale on Black Friday.

Barb’s husband graciously met us at the store with his truck and helped the Mr. get them into the house.

What a nightmare of a home…FOUR couches spread out between two rooms…

Those are Harbor Town faux leather couches…from the Simmons furniture line.  We bought them at Big Lots.

They came with triangular plastic pieces that were supposed to be screwed into the bottoms of the couches.  I didn’t think to take a picture of one of them.

We quickly discovered a problem.

There were no pre-drilled holes to screw the long screws into.

We called the store, and they advised us to, “Do the best you can and screw them anywhere.”

Yep.

I ran next door and borrowed my neighbor’s drill because we couldn’t find our rechargeable batteries.

We tried everything but could not get the pieces attached.

We were stressed from the bajillion things we still had to do, so we took a break and went out to dinner.

The couches didn’t magically fix themselves while were out, unfortunately.

I was determined not to leave things undone, so the Mr. ran to Walmart to find something…anything…to set the couches on.

He found round things…furniture sliders, I think…and brought them home and installed them.

Voila!

The good thing is that the couches sit almost completely on the floor, so dog hair won’t be able to collect underneath.

Of course, I still have to find someone to pick up the other two couches…seen in the background of the next picture…

I’m telling you…we can make the simplest tasks way more complicated than they need to be!!!

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