* I'm HOW old???

When I was four years old, I thought 14 was so OLD! I adored a neighboring teen who was kind enough to teach me how to wash dishes. That might not seem very special, and I prefer the dishwasher today, but she was patient and sweet to me, something I didn’t experience at home.

I always loved my ‘old’ teachers. One day, I was talking about how old my third grade teacher looked. I remarked that her skin was so browned and lined because of all the kids who had been talking to her; I assumed their ‘hot air’ burned her face. (My face burned when my mother repeated that anecdote to her!)

As I approached my 30th birthday, I struggled through each day. Seriously depressed, I had this belief that I would die at 30. I certainly tried to make that a reality. But my dearest teaching widower was patient, loving, and praying for me, and at 38, I met Jesus and was set free from depression. My life was forever changed, as was my view of aging.

A couple of years ago, my extremely talented sister and brother-in-law surprised me with a birthday cake. And there I was, a youngster on top of it, with real icing on my face!

Today I am 70 years old! I still think I’m relatively young, perhaps just past middle age?

* Christmas Fibbing

Caution: SPOILER ALERT

I love Pesnsitivity’s blog and she was hosting Fibbing Friday last week. I’ve missed every Friday since I first heard about this silly blogging challenge, but maybe this week!

There is a fib, though, and it has to do with Santa Claus. My dearest teaching widower (DTW) was talking to me about the impact of that fib lie on many children. As a curious child psychologist, he has often asked folks how they felt when they learned the truth that Santa wasn’t real. Many adults can tell you the exact time and how deceived they felt.

I remember feeling a great sense of betrayal as I read about that sham in the newspaper. (I was four years old and it was part of my father’s “I-hate- that-you-can-read-but-prove-to-me-that-you-can-read” endeavors.) I tried to protect my younger sister from finding out, so I played along for years. I think she already knew but I hated to see her suffer. Of course, we had so many other dreadful things happening at home that Santa Claus was a mere blip on the radar of betrayal.

As parents, my DTW and I resolved never to tell our kids that Santa lie. We explained that it was a belief for some families. We said it wasn’t okay to tell other kids what to believe since that was the responsibility of their parents. As a teacher, I always took the same stance, especially not allowing kids to torment others about this societal fibbing.

My DTW, who is always thinking about deep stuff, worries that if kids can’t trust their parents about Santa Claus, can they trust them about God? To me, the bigger issue is that my parents were supposed to represent God to me. So I grew up believing that my heavenly Father is deaf, cruel, powerless, and untrustworthy. Now I know the truth about him, how he chased me down with his love. And I still believe we should ditch the Santa lie.

* Victory before the victory

What on earth is ‘victory before the victory?’ Is it systemic cheating as featured in the movie Bad Genius? Is it positive self-talk? A new type of name-it-claim-it hysteria?

No, no, and no. Thank you, Kendrick: victory before the victory is a faith-based moment (or even years) when I praise God without knowing the outcome. For me, it’s giving over but not giving up. Praising Him no matter how miserable things look.

I had a serious knee injury at school that left me in a wheelchair for years. I HATED being in a wheelchair (although I did love racing through the hallways). I couldn’t walk more than 20-30 feet on my own. After the first year of despair and much prayer, I said, “Jesus, you bought my body with your own. This is your knee so it’s your problem. I want to be healed but if I must live this way, it’s up to you to keep me. Keep me from bitterness and angst and despair.” I should have added, “And impatience!”

Despite knowing that this was His knee, I perpetually complained about the school wheelchair and grocery store wheelchairs and being below eye level and people staring at me and people asking me how I was doing and people thinking I was healed because I could walk a short distance. I was bugged by relentless kids who said said, “Aha! I saw you standing up!” And I was bugged when I got my wheelchair stuck between tables in the cafeteria. Duh!

But I was content with the disability, even if getting around was a hassle. If this is how things were going to be, God was still in charge and promised to work it for good. Not my problem to fix.

My dearest teaching widower (DTW) and I made three annual trips to the beach after my injury and surgery. My DTW tried to pushed me through the sand the first time and was smart enough to realize that wouldn’t work the next time.

On the third trip, I decided to make it to the stairs by myself. He asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I was a bit grouchy as I explained that I couldn’t go too far! Duh!

So I made it to the sand. Very slowly. I walked 30 feet, then 50. I called my DTW and said, “Uh, I can walk!” He asked if I wanted him to come with the wheelchair. He cautioned me to call immediately if I collapsed. I kept walking. I called him back after I’d walked a quarter of a mile and over his objections, I walked another quarter mile with a big smile on my face. Miraculous!

Yeah, God is still working on my impatience. Duh!

the ultimate love. — Song Bird Songs

There was one that loved once. Loved enough to leave all and come, begrimed and dirty, into this world. To venture to an ancient stable, to know dirt, and cold, sickness and pain. Yes, lots of pain it cost him, one who had never so much as pricked His finger before that day he lay, […]

the ultimate love. — Song Bird Songs
Thanks to Claire for her inspirational posts!

* TToT- bloggers plus

I am thrilled to join the Ten Things of Thankful folks once again. I really need to be grateful for all that I have in this life and the one to come. Here we go!

My dearest teaching widower (DTW) has been so incredibly patient as I’ve gone through one-handed weeks after my shoulder surgery. I could not have survived this without his love, wisdom, and encouragement to take pain pills!

I am grateful for our pastor at Grace Church, Kendrick Vinar, who shares his journey and inspirations on his Enjoy More blog. Not only is he an amazing leader, he lives what he teaches. Kendrick was recently diagnosed with cancer and is celebrating the victory before the victory!

Last night in our movie group, we showed a powerful documentary (“Last Train Home”) on migrant workers in China. It was filmed across 3 years, with a focus on a couple who left their kids with grandparents and migrated to a city for factory work. Let’s just say that all of us were deeply moved to be grateful for the abundance of our lives.

I appreciate so many bloggers, including Barbara at Teleporting Weena, where you will find all kinds of lovely and mysterious writing plus photos. Her post on Fibbing Fridays is absolutely hilarious!

We’re having a cold spell, which makes me grateful for Shari’s post on the Weekend Coffee Share. She writes about all things Christmas: hot chocolate, snow, sledding, Christmas cards, and the old Sears Christmas Wish Book. Jingle, jingle!

My dearest teaching widower and I went on a short train ride with some friends! It was my DTW’s idea that we take up train riding as a retirement hobby. So neither of us has actually retired but we’ve made our first trip! Yay!

I’m grateful that it’s pomegranate season! Stained teeth and fingernails don’t bother me at all.

I’m grateful for the ‘purple pill,’ as my DTW calls it. Yes, Cadbury milk chocolate comes in a sparkling purple wrapper. And it makes my brain so happy.

What wonderful kiddos I serve! How they light up my life!

Finally, I am grateful to Clark (well, perhaps Roger or Scott) for the rule that allows me to stop at #9! Hope you feel encouraged to be grateful today!

* Weekend Coffee Share – Eeyore’s buddy

I’ve been drinking a lot of Tetley’s tea this week. It’s soothing and balances out the ice I’m keeping on my shoulder. I’m fairly not really patient about this painful process of healing, trying to keep my eyes on the prize: being able to swim again.

BUT there is a potential glitch with swimming again. It’s been 3 years since I had Eustachian tube surgery that left a tube in my ear. How many times I’ve prayed for that tube to fall out so I could swim! That prayer was recently answered, rather unexpectedly, when an audiology intern accidentally ripped it out. Ouch. I still have a pesky hole so I may need a graft….

Apart from my body falling to pieces around me, I’m enjoying my part-time work schedule. Yes, I am officially abandoning my third retirement. But I now have time to clean the house! And cook! I’d be decluttering if I could properly lift anything. I like to think I’d be extremely productive if I weren’t hurting so much. Probably not.

Yesterday my physical therapist asked me about my weekend plans. I said I was getting my hair cut. Seriously? My life sounds pretty edgy, right? I tell you, though, her EQ is really strong. She looked blank for just a fraction of a second and said, “Well, getting a haircut can often make you feel better.” I could have told her I was getting my legs amputated and she’d say, “There are some cool prosthetics these days.” She’s used to working with Eeyore’s buddies.

This little babe is a great cure for the blues. I’m teaching her to say, “Aunt Katharine.” Thankfully, I’m sooooo loved by Jesus! I’m his favorite, actually.

* I am loved

I wept my way through church yesterday. It was inevitable, because I had lost sight of how loved I am. Losing sight of His love was inevitable because my mind still compartmentalizes pain.

I grew up in a nightmare home where physical, emotional, and sexual abuse were nuclear weapons, blasting my heart and mind into shreds. I only ‘survived’ in compartments, in little and bigger places where memories could be ‘lost’ and pain could be controlled.

After these recent uncertain and painful emergency room events, my mind did what I perfected years ago: tried to seal off the pain. I had told my dearest teaching widower that it felt like his heart was a nuclear device, ticking to some unknown timer. I didn’t know I had activated my own device, losing faith in God’s provision for us, for His perfect timing, for the marvelous eternity that awaits us. I started to feel numb, even as laughed my way through outlandish interactions and sleep deprivation. I tried to take control by being good and brave. Instead, I became numb. I forgot that my righteousness is a free gift.

We have a very real enemy and he whispered lies and condemnation. Religious accusations told me I wasn’t praying enough. I had failed the kiddos who need me. In fact, I was reviled for not feeling enough. That should have been a dead giveaway.

So today is a new day. My heart has been washed with healing tears, with a renewed knowledge of just how precious I am in His sight.

I am loved. So is she, the sweet babe.

* TToT: miracles

Ten Things of Thankful is a great weekend post, a celebration of the good stuff. I have a lot of that good stuff, so let’s go!

  1. I’m able to walk! I was in a wheelchair for 2.5 years and could not stand for long and could walk only about 30 feet. God answered prayers while we were at the beach in 2011. I enjoyed a walk just now. On my own two feet! I don’t take that for granted anymore.
  2. I have two ugly feet but as a PT told me, the folks with prosthetics for feet would give anything to have my ‘ugly’ tootsies.
  3. I could have chopped off my finger or hand last week while cutting hedges. Or worse. I’m grateful for all 10 fingers.
  4. I could be paralyzed (or in heaven) after a serious horseback riding accident. I only suffered some mild brain damage, which is less evident with spell check and word suggestions.
  5. Our son helped us with taxes today, exhibiting patience that he did not inherit from me! My dearest teaching widower is sooo patient!
  6. through 9. We have air conditioning, hot running water, a wonderful house, and a peaceful neighborhood.
[While we were at the beach, my dearest teaching widower and I had these “opposites” for glasses. That’s a reflection of how we are, with me always tilting off in some direction and him always steady. (But that’s his margarita!) I love him dearly.]

10. We are saved and loved by Jesus, so our lives are in perfect hands. No matter what happens, this is the worst it gets for Christ-followers. One moment with Him is worth a trillion of anything else. Christopher likes to play the “What would you do for all the money in the world?” game. I used to think all the money in the world was a great idea. Now I realize there are so many other, better things! What about you?

* Tuesday writing prompt

It’s my turn to get a writing prompt after years of providing them to struggling writers. I am trying out Devereaux Frazier’s weekly challenge. His prompt is the word ‘crucified.’ I certainly never came up with this one for my students!

I imagine most people think of Jesus when ‘crucified‘ is mentioned. His was the most publicized torturous death ever. As a Jesus follower, I am forever grateful for his death and resurrection, but I hate to linger on the details of crucifixion. I won’t watch The Passion or read about being crucified. What creatures we are to devise such things!. Yuck.

I wonder what the Romans would think of millions of us wearing crosses out of gratitude. It’s not what anyone expected. I used to think it was a myth, until I met Jesus myself. Wow.

Thanks to Bob at Of Cabbages and Kings for leading me to this prompt!

* Father’s Day

Like Mother’s Day, this holiday was long a source of anguish for me. Growing up in an abusive home, my Hallmark greeting would have read, “How much do I hate thee? Let me count the ways!”

Over time and much healing, a lot of it from the hands of my dearest teaching widower, I have come to endure these celebrations and rejoice with others who have had a different path. After today, I have a joyous and unique new memory: my dearest widower winning a smoker at church!

I laughed because we typically never win anything. And we have been trying to decide whether to continue our movie group in the fall. I think this is a sign: Movies and a Smoker. Who would have guessed? The One who loves us and constantly surprises us with many good things. A Father who is worth celebrating every day!