* 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!

* digging for gold (ten things of thankful)

I have been a terribly sporadic visitor to the Ten Things of Thankful blog, but every time I go, I’m rewarded by the words, photos, and humor from such encouraging folks. It’s a great place to share gems of thankfulness.

Gem #1: My dearest teaching widower remains at the top of my list. His tech skills are sometimes clumsy but always endearing. I got him a Fitbit for his birthday and it’s already destroyed! I think his inner distrust of all things tech has created some kind of deadly force field. He’s a powerhouse when searching the web, though! (See #4.)

Gem #2: The patient families of the kiddos I teach, who must wonder if my body is falling apart. Yes, it is.

Gem #3: The Bible in One Year 2019 devotional by Nicky and Pippa Gumbel. They are an amazing couple, perhaps best known for developing Alpha courses. OK, I am now 42 days behind in reading, but onward, ever onward!

Gem #4: Thanks to Cee’s inspiration and support, I have a REAL camera! It was a delightful Christmas present, heavily-researched by my dearest widower (see #1). I haven’t used it much but I look forward to the day….

Gem #5: Cadbury’s milk chocolate, which remains sweet and silky and mood-changing.

Gem #6: Faithful followers of my blog, despite my erratic posting. Thank you!!!!!!!!

Gem #7: Suzie’s kind support and encouragement. Check out her amazing blog (Suzie Speaks), her cat’s bottom, and her new job!

Gem #8: My own Fitbit, a birthday present from my fam. Fitbit and I love each other. It purrs on my wrist. It cheers me on, even as I feel like body parts will soon start dropping off.

Gem #9: Amazon Prime wardrobe, which means I never have to expose my feet to strangers again. No one fainting in horror at a shoe store.

Gem #10: A physical therapist who reminded me to be thankful I have feet (even if you can find them by googling “ugliest feet in the world”). That PT works with folks who have prosthetic feet and they would give anything for my ugly feet.

Freebie: Don’t search for ugliest feet in the world.