I’ve described my mother as a “defiant non-compliant diabetic.” She ate what she wanted, when she wanted, blood sugar be damned. After decades of neglect, her body began to deteriorate and finally shut down completely. I found a receipt in her wallet dated just days before her death. She had driven through Burger King on the way home from dialysis and ordered a BK Stacker (22 grams of fat, 700 mg of sodium.). She was suffering from congestive heart failure, taking 14 different medications and on dialysis 3 days a week, but she wanted a BK Stacker, so she got one. There were more fast food receipts in the pockets of her clothing and on her desk.
Time and time and time again she chose immediate personal gratification and a comfort zone, over long term goals, discomfort and inconvenience – and not just with food.
She bought what she wanted when she wanted it, even if she didn’t have the money.
She wanted a warm, inviting home, but she focused on the house and its contents more than the people who lived in it.
She wanted passionate relationships, but was controlling and plagued with pride.
She wanted to travel and experience new things. But instead, she booked the same vacation for years.
She loved to play the piano. But she didn’t make time for it.
She loved to sing. But she only sang in the house. And rarely.
She wanted to write. But she didn’t.
She wanted so much, but she settled for so little.
Her desire for the things she wanted made it challenging and sometimes impossible for her to recognize, much less appreciate, the blessings she had. Her inability to see that she had power to change her circumstances if she stayed true to her long-term goals kept her firmly rooted in mediocrity and the status quo.
I paid attention. And I learned quite a bit about what I want for my life by watching her choices.
I still pay attention. And I look for consequences – good and bad – so I can learn from other people’s choices. I learn a LOT about what I want as a result of my OWN choices and their consequences.
My mother had a stroke and blamed her doctors and her medication. She had a stroke and I got a personal trainer. Before and after her stroke, she relied on medications to make herself feel better and to lengthen her life. Before her stroke, I was following in her footsteps. After her stroke, I began relying on exercise and lifestyle changes to make myself feel better and to lengthen my life.
I had a choice. I could continue to go with the flow and eventually find myself at risk for a stroke or I could intentionally and consistently walk backwards against the current. If you know me, it shouldn’t surprise you that when I’m floating in a lazy river, I will at some point, become bored and walk backward against the current. It’s a metaphor for my life. I intentionally choose to view every experience God has allowed in my life – good AND bad – as a blessing. Together, these blessings fuel me with determination.
I’m a big believer in benchmarking. When I want to learn how to do something, I find people who do it well and I copy them. But I also learn what not to do by watching the things that people, myself included, do poorly. I pay attention to choices and consequences – good and bad. I call it opportunistic learning and it helps me discover what I want in my life.
I want more than immediate gratification and a well worn spot in my comfort zone.
I want MORE than the comfort of air conditioning, dry, pleasant smelling clothing, a good hair day, less laundry and an extra hour every day. I don’t consider a handicapped sticker on my car to be a well deserved ticket to a great parking space and the inability to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded scares me more than a hurricane warning. The inability to walk up a flight of stairs at all scares me more than an actual hurricane.
I want a stronger body, even if it needs two showers in one day, generates smelly, wet laundry, “wastes” 30 minutes or more of my day and requires a longer walk from the parking lot. I want to get stronger as I get older, not weaker. I want to be a good steward of this body God has blessed me with. I’ve experienced the limitations of a body that won’t do what I want it to do and I hated it so much I NEVER want to experience it again. I’ll do anything I can to make sure that my body doesn’t deteriorate due to neglect.
I want MORE than a 6 inch high plate of nachos with a phenomenal cheese sauce or the most decadent, melt in your mouth chocolate lava cake in the world. I want MORE than the thousands of milligrams of sodium and double digit grams of fat in the restaurant food that saves me from cooking dinner when I don’t feel like it. I want MORE than a bedtime snack of ice cream or a Grand Slam breakfast from Denny’s. I want MORE than a BK Stacker.
I want unblocked arteries, normal blood pressure and stable blood sugar. I want my 7 day pill case to be filled with vitamins and supplements instead medications. I want to model good nutritional choices for my children, especially my daughter. I want to live a longer, healthier life than my mother did. I’m not swayed by spoonfuls being shoved in my face along with an exasperated voice telling me to “just taste it.” It’s not that I secretly want it and am just denying myself. I really don’t want it. I’ll never be convinced to abandon my long term nutrition goals just because someone belittles me for not eating something they want to eat. I’ll never belittle them while I watch them eat – but I also won’t sanction their choice or cave to middle school level peer pressure by picking up a fork and joining them.
I want MORE than a good marriage. I want MORE than candy and flowers and jewelry on Valentines Day and my birthday. I want MORE than a husband who handles car maintenance, toilet repair, heavy lifting, jar opening and high shelf reaching. I want MORE than a “good” sex life and a husband who does what I want in order to get it. I want MORE than a husband who agrees with me to avoid conflict and who spends time with me because he’s supposed to.
I want a GREAT marriage to a man I can’t go a day without talking to. I want to be the person who respects my husband more than anyone else in the world and I want him to know it beyond a shadow of a doubt. I want to come to the end of my day and be confident I didn’t say a bad word about him to ANYone. I want to be the kind of wife he wants to come home to and I want to be genuinely happy that he’s home when he walks in the door. I want a partner – a LIFE LONG partner – who tells me the truth in a gracious tone of voice, motivated by love. I want us to share EVERYthing without holding back: our thoughts, our ideas, our weaknesses, our fears, our passions and our bodies. I want to share household and parenting duties and I’m thankful that I figured out early in our marriage that different isn’t wrong. I want us to be able speak in idioms and always understand each other. I want us to be able to communicate with facial expressions and eye contact. I want to stay married to my best friend for the rest of my life and I’m thankful that we are both willing to run to a marriage counselor the minute our relationship can be described as “fine.”
I want MORE than compliant children who make good grades, keep their room clean and behave appropriately at all times. I want MORE than happy, safe children. I don’t want my children to do what they’re told because I say so.
I want to hear about everything that interests them, because I know that if I don’t listen with interest, they will stop telling me. I want to be challenged by their mind, fascinated by their discoveries, respectful of their ideas, convinced by their reasoning, inspired by their passion and exasperated by our differences. I want to always strive to respect them as individuals instead viewing them as extensions of myself. I want to be comfortable with their potential to embarrass me for the sake of their (and my) learning curve. I want my children to learn life lessons from remorse and disappointment as well as from pride and achievement. I want to equip them, not protect them. I want them to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, even when nobody is looking.
I want to be debt-free. I want to own my home, not hold a mortgage. I want my car to start every time I turn the key, and if it does, I don’t care how many miles are on it. I want to be a good steward of my financial blessings. I want to save and pay cash for the things I want. I don’t want to pay interest. I want to teach my children the value of a wise financial choice. I want to teach them that delayed gratification ultimately makes them happier and more secure than an impulse or convenient purchase. I want to give God MORE than 10% of what he entrusts to me and I want my kids to want to do the same.
I want MORE than to help lead a “good” praise set on Sunday morning. Lukewarm makes me restless. Holding back makes me unsettled. Trying to please everyone is deeply discouraging. Settling for fine wears me down. I don’t want to give God less than my very best. No one is drawn to mediocrity.
I want to work my butt off to prepare and when Sunday morning comes, I want to block out all the logistics and make myself open and available for God to equip me for service. I want to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, not the body language of someone in the congregation who is missing His presence because they are preoccupied with what someone else thinks. I want to allow myself to be saturated with the Holy Spirit, so much so that Satan doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hell of distracting me from my goal of bringing as many people with me as I possibly can while I abandon myself to authentic, consuming praise. I want to go all out and see what God will do with my all.
I want to use everything God has given me – the good and the bad – to serve Him. When I write, I have no idea if the result is a cathartic purge or if someone will identify with something I say and be encouraged or changed by it. It’s just as possible that what I’ve written will alienate or discourage someone. I have no idea if God will use it to reach someone, but I pray He will. I don’t want the words I write to be in a vacuum.
I. want. MORE.
Do I always get it right? Not by a long shot. I do not find all this to be intuitive. These are determined choices I make, over and over and over again. And when I screw up, I start over, even if I have to start over multiple times a day. But I’m not going to stop striving. And I’m willing to wait for whatever God hasn’t entrusted me with yet. I’m willing work for it.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness,knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 5-8
“Never neglect what you’ve seen God do in your life. Take a careful look at these things from God’s perspective, all the way from your birth to where you stand right now. They’re all significant.”
Experiencing the Spirit
Henry and Melvin Blackaby
Watching Mythbusters on DVR tonight and that was one of the questions.
FirstHusband: “Oh, DEFINITELY a man.”
Me: “You know why?”
FirstHusband: “Spacial relationships.”
Me: “nope. it’s because we don’t care.”
Once I get the suitcase closed, my job is done.
Me, to FirstHusband at Home Depot: “I know that guy. How do I know that guy?”
One minute later, staring at the guy: “WHERE do I know him from?”
And again, this time staring blankly at nothing, watching a clouded memory play back in my head: “He’s a doctor. Whoever he is, he wears a white coat. I know I’ve had a conversation with him while he was wearing a white coat.”
And again: “What doctors do we go to? This is going to drive me nuts all day.”
30 seconds later: “I’m going to wake up at 2am and tell you who he is.”
FirstHusband: “I hope we’re not in the middle of anything.”
Me: “at 2 o’clock in the morning?”
(he got the “yeah, right” raised eyebrow look)
FINALLY: “He’s our VET! ahhhh.”
A few seconds later: “Well, that was five minutes of crazy.”
FirstHusband: “Five minutes. Yeah, we’ll go with that.”
I don’t know what he’s talking about.
FirstHusband came home & I went to the top of the stairs to talk to him.
Me: “I’m up here.
FirstHusband: “What just started?”
Me: “Me. Doing nothing.”
FirstHusband: “Go for it.”
Me: “It’s not the same.”
FirstHusband, sympathetically: “Did you throw away your sick pants?”
Me: “no. (sigh) They’re just too giant. I have to hold them up when I walk.”
FirstHusband: “that’s a GOOD thing.”
Me: “I know. (pause) But these aren’t the same.”
FirstHusband: “I’m sorry.”
I’m not the only one who has “sick pants” right?
are were plaid flannel. You know, that really, really soft flannel that comes from decades of use? But. They are XL. and I wear a medium now. and the elastic waistband is as old as the flannel. Warning: I’m not sure I’m done mourning them yet.)
I need to go into the sauna again and burn some germs. die germs. die.
A little tutorial for men, in preparation for Valentine’s Day…
If you’ve got time to hang out for a few minutes, check out what else makes me laugh: Pragmatic Compendium’s “laugh!” category.
I posted this as an audio clip and wrote a dedication to FirstHusband on our 20th wedding anniversary, August 11th, but here’s a youtube version.
Peel Me a Grape is one of “our” songs (really, after 20 years, how can we have only ONE song?). The lyrics are so completely opposite of the mini-van driving, pragmatic woman I am and the kind of relationship we have, that they make us laugh. And laughter all wrapped up in sultry? That’s romance for us. We both loved it from the moment we heard it.
If you’ve got time to hang out for a few minutes, check out what else makes me laugh: Pragmatic Compendium’s “laugh!” category.
20 years today. One of the best decisions I ever made!
FirstHusband gave me a cruise for an anniversary present. I gave him this: (the vocals are all me)
Cause anyone who knows me, knows how much I need mink coats, cashmere and bon bons. umm. hmm. I must admit. I do love the line “never outthink me.” And tonight the line “chill me some wine” will work.
We first heard this song 8 years ago in a little piano bar on the Disney Wonder. It stuck with both of us – in a “this is our song” kind of way. But then again, we have framed lyrics by Jimmy Buffett hanging on our bedroom wall:
“It’s those changes in latitudes,
changes in attitudes nothing remains quite the same.
With all of our running and all of our cunning,
If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”
We are some kind of romantic, huh?
We relied on PinkGirl set up our romantic anniversary dinner in her own special way and then she invited us to the family room for a dance. She played the CD and since the accompaniment sounds exactly like the Diana Krall version, FirstHusband didn’t know it was me till the vocals started. He asked two questions: “Who is this?” immediately followed by “Is this you?”
Happy Anniversary, babe. Today you are FavoriteHusband. Maybe even tomorrow too.
Our Cupid is a nine year old girl with long blond hair. She was all about serving dinner to her dad and I tonight. He and I went out for a few hours this afternoon and she spent the time preparing a romantic “restaurant” in our dining room. She also prepared a salad. With dressing tossed in. FOUR hours before serving it. She called us no less than 5 times to ask when we would be back and to tell us the salad was ready.
Finally, FirstHusband and I arrived home. We had to enter through the garage and laundry room because we weren’t allowed into the kitchen and there was a curtain in the laundry room that FirstHusband had to hang over the entrance to the kitchen so we couldn’t see anything and spoil the surprise. Finally, we were banished to the upstairs to wait. We were sprawled out on our bed, chillin out, listening to the kitchen noises. A little impatient bickering between the chef and her recruited kitchen help (her brother), a crash, an “uh oh.” You know, stuff like that.
And we are TIRED. Her expectations are extremely high. She’s got a plan and we don’t dare deviate lest we ruin all her hard work. She’s trying to “make up” for the fact that our Valentine’s Day was spent driving from east Orlando to Tampa and back to see the musical “Wicked.” (It was a GREAT show – the tickets were one of PinkGirl’s Christmas presents.) This romantic dinner is a big deal. We will be expected to order from a menu, even though there’s only one entree to choose from. We will be expected to eat that salad.
Did I mention we’re tired? Face down in the comforter, I say: “Cupid is bossy.”
FirstHusband: “yeah. (pause) but she makes a mean soup and salad.” (pause again) “too bad they are one and the same.”
But it was really very sweet. She had costume changes between characters. We met the first server, the restaurant masseuse named Mary who gave us each a shoulder rub, the manager named Stacy, and a second server named Emma (because the first server got off work.) We got a $10 coupon with our reservation and FirstHusband got to pay with the money from PinkGirl’s Pooh Bear wallet. By paying for our meal, we got free admission to the ballroom (the family room). Dancing to Ray Charles and B.B. King singing “Sinner’s Prayer” (aka Have Mercy) she only cut in to dance with her dad once. Very sweet.
Clean up was fairly minimal. In the end, we only had one water spill, a long blond hair in my saladsoup and red candle wax on the table.
Happy Valentine’s Day. Part B.
It has been suggested to me (more than
50 a few times) that I should confess the “real” reason I was not discharged from the hospital until late Sunday afternoon.
I, of course, choose to believe that had I NOT spiked a fever on Friday night, all would have gone much more . . . smoothly.
(FirstHusband. Are you happy now?)
In all fairness, here’s what a great guy I have:
1. He has been THERE for me, really THERE for me, through everything. A CONSTANT support. EVERYTHING I need. Random doctors and nurses said things like “He’s a keeper.” and “You’ve got a great guy.” to which I replied, “oh, I KNOW I do.”
2. He and I have developed an excellent system to get me out of a hospital bed when my gut is full of stitches. Easy and relatively no pain. This system is borne from experience. He’s been there for me before, more than a few times.
3. He ordered all my “food” in the hospital and turned my cream of wheat into choco-wheat every time. Brought me good coffee from home every day and successfully doctored the one cup of Starbucks I had to drink with a packet of hot chocolate mix.
4. Made sure my water bottle always had room temperature water in it and kept my ice chip cup refilled, AND got me to the bathroom on time, every time. Painlessly.
5. He read aloud to me for days.
6. He walked and walked and walked with me as I pushed my IV stand around the hospital floor.
7. Made me the homemade coughing splint Linda told us about.
8. He helped me take a shower, helps me empty my drains, and rubs my back in just the right spot.
9. Is tracking every single medication I’m taking on a computer spreadsheet because there’s just too much of it and some of it makes me forget things – like what I took and when.
10. Called me last night to ask what color nightgown I wanted when he was out at Target, picking up a few things.
11. Selflessly and immediately released any claim to his bonus this year to finance my tummy tuck add-on surgery.
12. Keeps telling me how good I’m going to look and how happy I’m going to be the the results – and how happy HE’S going to be with the results – when I’m healed, stitches-free and walking upright.
So, ten things I love that start with (the letter she assigned me) the letter “H” are:
I love my HUSBAND. He’s my best friend. The bonus? He loves me back.
I love my HOME. Because it is within our means and a cozy, memory making, safe, happy, comfortable blessing. I am SO thankful, that a few years ago, when the real estate market was going crazy, we didn’t buy a house we really couldn’t afford. Our daily lives would be very different. Our house would own us.
I love The Hallelujah Chorus. Every year, I have to go to EPCOT for the Candlelight Processional and get my annual Hallelujah Chorus fix. I try to go when Marlee Matlin is narrating. The year before last, we sat in the front row, near the musical sign language interpreter. Marlee, front and center, signing the Christmas story and an extremely talented sign language interpreter practically right in front of me, signing the music. INCREDIBLE.
I love the song “Hip to Be Square” It’s my ringtone. It’s my motto. What’s a motto? Nothing. What’s the motto with you? (movie trivia again. where’s it from?)
I LOVE the sound of Happy Children. Especially my own. My daughter. Singing at the top of her lungs. Her own made up songs. Without a care in the world. My son. Singing to whatever is on his itouch. When he thinks I’m not listening. If you are out somewhere trying to shush a loud child, don’t ever do it on my account. I knew kids were loud before I had them myself.
I love my Honda Odyssey. Because it’s paid for. And it starts EVERY time I turn the key. Do I want a different/new vehicle? No. And again NO. Because I would have to pay for it.
I love strong, tight Harmony. The harmony that comes when people are perfectly in tune. When they know and sing their own unique part, smooth and steady, while at the same time, they listen and adapt to blend . . . just right. I LOVE harmony. Musically and otherwise. I prefer harmony over unison. Musically and otherwise.
Heat. DRY heat. Specifically, the 6 x 4 foot cedar sauna in my garage. I bought it on eBay over 6 years ago. Someone won it at a home show and didn’t want it. I was digging my heels in at the expense, but FirstHusband strongly encouraged it. I haven’t gotten tired of it. I used it today. And I’m already planning on using it tomorrow.
Health. I’m so thankful for it and I’m not taking my health or the health of my family and friends for granted. I do NOT want a handicap sticker for my car. NO THANKS. I’m getting stronger. I’m walking. I’m eating healthier.
I got stuck here at the end. Do I cheat? Something like, “Honkin Big Pile of Books” or “Huge cup of coffee?”
I asked FirstHusband what he thought. He immediately said “Hope.” I asked him what he meant and he said, “Whenever you run across someone who is in, what they believe to be, a hopeless situation, you don’t accept that the situation is hopeless. You encourage them to consider an option or a path they hadn’t considered before. You love hope.
He’s right. I can be annoying that way. I was talking with FavoriteSon just yesterday about a problem he had and I clearly remember saying:
“I’m not saying I know what you should do. I don’t have the answer right now. I just believe there IS one.”
Hope. He’s right. FirstHusband is my density.
Want to participate in this meme? Write about ten things you love that begin with the first letter of your MIDDLE name. Then come back and comment on this post and link up to yours!