Friday, January 20, 2017

The Choice

I've seen some really good movies lately.

There was a thread in each of the movies that connected them.

I'll explain more later.

Don't Think Twice



This movie is about an improv group in New York. It's all about "group think" and having each other's back while on the stage but clearly it's about way more than that.

It's about how they act as a group off stage. 

Two of the members of the group get an opportunity to try out for "Weekend Live" which is essentially SNL. The reactions of each of the members is soooooo interesting when one of the characters actually make it onto "Weekend Live."

I won't spoil if for you but it's such an interesting study in human nature and the way we react when jealous, hurt or faced with a challenge.

Great quote: "I feel like your twenties are about hope, and your thirties are about realizing how dumb it was to hope."

I loved this quote because clearly all of the characters in this movie were living with and in the hopes of being discovered one day. They had cruddy jobs, worse living conditions, all in the hopes of something more.

This movie was wrongly rated as R. We don't usually watch R-rated movies and feared the language would be distractingly awful but it wasn't--thankfully.

The improv parts of the movie were very funny.



La La Land



You've probably seen this or heard of it or watched the Golden Globes to see that it won big.

We saw this movie the very next night after seeing Don't Think Twice.

It's so different than what I thought it was going to be. We saw it early after it's release and I'm so glad we did.

We went with friends and didn't really let Monte know it was kinda/sorta a musical until right before we left.

Monte likes musicals when we are in a pretty theater watching it live.

Or an animated movie made by Disney.

But nothing else.


He's complex.

We got to the packed cinema and saw trailer after trailer of the most emotional, heart-wrenching movies ever.

I think I cried 3 times.

Monte loudly whispered to his friend next to him,

"I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a musical!"

La La Land is about an aspiring actress, Mia, who works as a barista in between auditions and a jazz musician, Sebastian, who dreams about buying his own club while he works odd jobs.

They start to date while they encourage one another in their careers.

Again, I don't want to spoil it but the movie becomes an interesting view into how we handle watching someone succeed when the other doesn't.

It's a visually beautiful movie and I listen to the soundtrack all the time.

Great quote:  Mia singing:  "Here's to the ones who dream/ Foolish as they may seem./Here's to the hearts that ache./Here's to the mess we make."



Hidden Figures


This is a movie about the African American women who worked for NASA as engineers and mathematicians in the era of segregation and the race to be the first country to put a man into space.

It's such a phenomenal movie because it's true.

It makes me wonder how many more stories this amazing haven't been told.

And why Hollywood keeps making dumb superhero movies 
when there are true heroes in our history that have MUCH 
better stories to tell than anything with a cape or spider web.

The conflict of this movie is the appalling racism and sexism.

These women were doing important calculations for NASA in a basement in a building far from their colleagues.

There were separate bathrooms, cafeterias and coffee pots.

And salaries.

NASA wanted the works of their minds but didn't want to include the women in important meetings.

As the pressure to get a man into space increased, the need for these women increased too. Old laws and traditions had to be broken so progress could be made.

But it was the beauty of how these women supported one another that I was struck by.

I can't say enough about this movie. Go see it!

Great quote:  "Any upward movement is movement for us all."

The thread in each of these movies was the choice.

Each movie listed above, put the characters in a position to choose selfishness or support.

In Don't Think Twice, the characters had to choose whether they were going to be happy and supportive for their friend who won a spot on "Weekend Live" or jealous and angry.

In La La Land, the characters were offered the chance to choose to focus on themselves or their relationship.

And in a musical montage, you get to see how each decision plays out.

In Hidden Figures, the characters were in the same position, waiting to be noticed for their skills and efforts. It wasn't until Octavia Spencer's character said, "Any upward movement is movement for us all," that the theme for each of the movies really gelled for me.

When we feel left out, ignored and overlooked, what do we do?

When someone close to us is included, highlighted and invited in, what do we do?

Do we give up hope because all of a sudden we feel foolish?

Do we ignore relationships because we are too busy licking our  own wounds?

Do we miss the opportunity to support each other because we are too busy sizing each other up?

Do we miss the blessing of seeing someone blessed?

Do we turn our backs on joy because it didn't choose us first?

It's that choice that has me thinking.

If you've seen any of these movies, what did you think?

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Top 5 for 2016

Not to bore you, but I decided to look back at what posts were most visited in the past year.

It's always interesting to me to see what gets the most views.

Here's the top 5 for 2016:


I reported on Monte's nose cancer procedure.

Youch.


My Christmas hernia story.

Youch!


Our college journey with McDaniel.

And black squirrels.



On missing Jesus when he's right in front of us.



How NOT to become deadwood.


So…

in conclusion, you all like 

medical issues, 

Jesus 

and a little college thrown in the middle.

Interesting.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Happy HIGH HOPES New Year!

Hope everyone had a great holiday.

December is crazy without having surgery but you know what happens when you throw in a hernia to the mix?

Nothing.

Even though Nigel and I spent 3 days laying on the couch staring out the window in between long naps,

he had surgery to remove a benign tumor 5 days before I had surgery,

everything got done.



The girls and Monte did the grocery shopping.

Monte helped me wrap presents.

Everything got done.

I was WAY more tired than normal but oddly not stressed at all.

I think there is something to this "Ho Ho Hernia" idea.

Maybe it isn't just the possible title of a Hallmark movie as Monte suggested,

but a new perspective on the holiday season.

It's like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas but it's actually a hernia and it wasn't Christmas that was stolen but all the excesses like stress, not enough sleep and overdoing.

I didn't hurry.

I got plenty of sleep.

I watched a lot of movies.

I wore slippers instead of real shoes 
because I didn't leave the house.

And I still did my annual jigsaw puzzle as a reward for taking down the tree and other decorations.

It was "fahoo fores dahoo dores" glorious.


Or "ho ho" hallelujah.

I'm pitching this idea to Hallmark.

We didn't even allow a for real Grinch to ruin our season.



 On the last day of finals, McDaniel's car got broken into (in BROAD DAYLIGHT) while she and her friends were celebrating with lunch at Waffle House on the big university campus by our house.

When McDaniel discovered the broken window and the fact that her school-issued laptop had been stolen (along with my FAVORITE leather thrifted bag I found in Florida),

the university police were absolutely NO HELP to her.

You know why?

It happened on the wrong side of the street.

How loud and sarcastically can we 
all say "NO DUH" at once?

She called the city police and, get this, they told her to file the report online.

She explained once again that it was HER WAY TO GET ONLINE that was stolen.

Anyhoo,

we are glad this happened now, while McDaniel was still home, 
so we could help her realize that the world isn't all like her.

She told us that we AND our town have not properly prepared her for reality.

She's got me there. 

I grew up not only keeping my car unlocked at school, 
but the car keys on the floor mat in case anyone 
needed to borrow it during study hall.

Yes. 
I made it easy for people to take my car.

This was a good lesson for McDaniel to learn before she heads off to college:

keep your guard up 
and your valuables locked in the trunk.

It was a few days before the window could be repaired so we broke down a cardboard box to tape up the gaping hole where a window used to be.

McDaniel decided to decorate it in such a way as an extra-deterrent to anyone thinking of trying to break into her car again.

HBD is teenager for Happy Birthday.


McDaniel was taping up this masterpiece when the guy Monte hired to rake our leaves showed up.

I explained what had happened to McDaniel's car and he said he'd been broken into as well, in the same area of campus.

But since he raked and cleaned out gutters for a living, he decided not to replace his window since it was easier to haul his ladder around without an actual window in the way.

So there you go.

When life gives you lemons, throw your ladder in your car 
and get to work.

I love it.

Right after Christmas I went back to the doctor for a post-op appointment.

The surgeon said RIGHT AWAY that he had read my "Ho Ho Hernia" post.

I immediately apologized.

I know I was no longer on pain meds when I wrote it but I'd taken A LOT of naps since then and could barely remember what I'd written.

He laughed.

He took off the surgical tape which meant I could shower actually FACING the running water and I could also take baths again.

Oh, how I love a hot bath.

He told me no squats or lunges until mid-February.

What?!

I explained that my thunder thighs weren't going to fix themselves.

He laughed.

He asked how my pain was and I told him I couldn't sit criss-cross-applesauce without a fair amount of discomfort.

He asked if that was super important to me.

I over explained that it was.

That it 
really, 
really 
was.

As I was leaving his office he told me to think of him for any future surgical needs and I reactively said, 

"Of course!"

Wait.

What?!

No!

No.

Nope.


2017, I have HIGH HOPES for you.



Friday, December 16, 2016

Ho Ho Hernia

I was contemplating calling the doctor a few weeks ago hoping to get an antibiotic and some relief from a nasty cold-like flu that had hit our house.

I made mention to some friends that I also had this weird swollen lymph node in my groin and it had been there for some time.

Like, 3 months.

I know, not cool.

Julie offered to take care of it herself 
if I didn't seek medical attention immediately.

And she has a lot of tools.


I mentioned the mystery groin lump to the nurse when I made the appointment and I swear, she lowered her voice and was all,

"Oh, really?" 

But it got me an appointment.

When I went in, I felt silly.

My doctor is a friend and it ALWAYS seems like I'M THE ONE sitting on the paper-lined table telling her I'm having heart trouble only for her to tell me it's a Wii Fit injury and to lay off the side planks for a while.

Worked like a charm.

Or to ask if my neck mole is ok and she said yes DON'T MESS WITH IT and then I went and burned the holy heck out of it with Frankincense oil because I saw it on the internet.

The mole is still there, by the way.

I just really wanted to go in with a legitimate, honest to goodness flu, get my antibiotics, mention on the way out, "Hey, what about this swollen groin thing?" hear her say it's part of the flu and wish her Merry Christmas and be. gone.

She went right to the groin.

She poked on it once and said,

"You have a femoral hernia."

Wait.

What?

Who?

Me?!

Basically, my intestines were squirting out from a weak area in my muscle wall and causing the lump.

It would not go away on its own.

In fact, it would continue to get worse.

Much. Worse.

I explained how I was NOT a body builder and she said it didn't matter and it probably had something to do with me dressing up in an inflatable dinosaur costume and jumping on a trampoline.

Of course she was kidding.


She referred me to a surgeon and said it had to be surgically removed because problems could arise when your intestines are squirting through a hole it isn't supposed to.

Then she printed out some information for me to review at home.

The nurse handed me the information as I was leaving and said to be sure to look over it.

It included pictures.

Sorry. But I have to share. 
Look away if you don't like graphic things. 



Basically, this was my possible future if I didn't get the surgery pronto.

IN HORROR, I told the nurse it looked like Barbie was turning into Ken.
(Sorry, that was graphic too!)

She almost fell out of her chair.

Now, here is the point you know you've been married a long time.

Monte and I had met our insurance deductible for the first time in our married life so this surgery was basically going to be completely covered.

And we were excited about that.

Newlyweds could not appreciate 
or celebrate 
a free hernia surgery.

I was able to get into a surgeon right away through the wonderful contacts of our friend, Mark.

He was lovely.

My friend Mark told him about my blog.

I prayed he didn't go into the archives 
and read about the Frankincense incident.

We scheduled the surgery for Tuesday. I had to be on the east side of the city at 6:10 am.

It was in the same surgical complex Monte had his colonoscopy/endoscopy.

We were becoming regulars.


Monte sent this pre-surgery picture out and he showed me this one with notes from Julie to show the surgeon.

Except that is the wrong side.
Luckily, the surgeon came in and marked me with a blue marker which side to operate on.

I still can't get that marker off.

I really don't remember a whole lot after that except telling someone I couldn't feel my face.

I don't think I could feel my face here either.

We got home just before it started snowing big, beautiful flakes.

I was very content to lie on the couch, semi-sedated, watching it snow.




I mentioned it was like a scene from a Christmas Hallmark movie.

Monte decided it would be called,

"Ho Ho Hernia."

I'd still watch it.

I figured out that it hurt LIKE A STABBING KNIFE when I laughed.

I told Monte to stop being funny.

He said he could not NOT be funny.

I also learned that the pain of a cough made me lose control of my bladder just a teence.

The first time I showered, I noticed that half my abdomen looked like a Sneetch from Dr. Seuss.



Lots of swelling.

So the last few days have been filled with lots of couch time, pain pills, ice packs, elastic-waisted pants and avoiding funny people.

Which hasn't been easy.

They keep finding me.

And sending me pictures.


Today is our 21st wedding anniversary.

Who would've thought all those years ago that we'd be spending this anniversary eating Italian takeout while listening to Bruno Mars and then folding laundry in our bedroom while the girls clean the house because I'm recovering from Ho Ho Hernia,  for the love of Pete.

I wouldn't have it any other way.






Monday, December 05, 2016

Gladness of All Time

I have been reading and listening to a bible study on gladness.

The word "gladden" in Hebrew is the word "samach."

It means to rejoice, be glad.

There are several verses in the bible that speaks of some version of the word glad.

Sometimes it's mentioned along with the word heart.

"Therefore my heart is glad…" 
(Psalm 16:9 & Acts 2:26)

"… to gladden the heart of man" 
(Psalm 104:14-15)

Other times it stands on its own.

"For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD;  I sing for joy at the works of your hands."
 (Psalm 92:4)

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
(Psalm 118:24)

The phrase we think of at Christmas the most, "glad tidings," means to "tell good news" or "preach the gospel."

We sing about it in "Angels We Have Heard on High" 
and "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

The word "tidings" means news.

It needs the word "glad" to make it good news.

We sing of tidings of comfort and joy in "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen."

I know I've sang that song a million times but it struck me hearing the lyrics of comfort and joy.

It really was news at that time.

And still is today.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came,
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our dear Saviour lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay,
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace,
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

What a gift. The gift of gladness. The gift of comfort. The gift of joy.
This gift can be given to us in the midst of mourning.
This gift can be given to us in the midst of discouragement.

Believe me, I know what it's like to be "struck" 
with the funny of something in the most inopportune times.

This study of gladness revealed that sometimes it's that gladness in the midst of sadness or madness that is not only our push to help us through, but encouragement to someone else who is watching.
Beth Moore put it like this:
"There may be no greater, more visible and conspicuous gift we believers have to give in this world full of sadness 
than the hope of our gladness."

It's that gift that helps us laugh at a memory while we grieve.
It's that gift that keeps us smiling instead of sinking into bitterness or despair over our circumstances.

But it's a gift we have to unwrap.

Haven't we all seen or felt ourselves, 

the pushing away of the gift of gladness in the midst of sorrow 

because, 
well, 
it felt out of place?

Inappropriate 
or disrespectful
almost?

Leave it to the world to make gladness and joy a negative.

That Hebrew word "samach" that means gladden is also the same origin for the word "gloat."
Gloat is just an arrogant version of gladness.
It's used in Micah 7:8-10:
"Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
The Lord will be my light.
He will bring me out into the light;
I will see his righteousness.
Then my enemy will see it
and will be covered with shame."

But God never intended our enemy to gloat over us.
To be so glad that we are not enjoying our gift of gladness that we give the devil the last word.
The gloat.

And nothing makes the devil smirk more 
than when we bypass the gift of gladness 
in our sadness.
God meant for us to gloat over our enemy.

It we don't choose gladness, the devil will. 
Don't let him gloat in the gladness of 
keeping us from gloating in our gladness. 

God meant for us to have the last word. 
The last gloat.
He intended for the gloating rights to be ours.
To be confident in our joy that comes from the Lord.

My girls are always calling people a "GOAT."
It's an acronym for the "greatest of all time."
It made me think of a good reminder for gladness:
GLOAT:
"gladness of all time."

God is our source of gladness, our joy.
Our GLOAT can only come from Him.
Not happiness, that is tied to this world, but the true GLAD TIDINGS.
The good news that this world has been conquered.
We have a savior.
And for that, we can gloat.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Are You Ready For Some Christmas?

I'm not sure why, but it seemed like there was a long gap between Thanksgiving and December this year.

Once we returned to Ohio from the Thanksgiving holiday and threw away all the pumpkins and packed up all the Fall decorations,

it was still November.

I am not one of those people that can put up a Christmas tree during the Thanksgiving holiday.

I just can't.

I may change one day.

But for now, I need December to actually be here before I think of hitting a Christmas tree lot.

I actually did something somewhat brilliant this year.

I printed the addresses of my Christmas card list out on labels.

It was so fast and easy!

And I only did 30 cards at a time so I didn't have that dread of killing a whole night addressing cards.

Depending on where you fall in the alphabet, 
you may have gotten a Christmas card from us while it was still November.


Yeah, I was that person.

Clearly, my Christmas tree rule 
isn't a hard fast rule 
for all things Christmas.

Monte is leaving soon for an out of town conference so he took today off to help get the outdoor Christmas lights hung up.

Of course, it's windy and cold.

It's been quite balmy most of the week.

I have been trying to fight off a cold all week with all manner of Zicam, Emergen-C, Echinacea, clementines and homemade soup.

This morning, I woke up with clogged ears, crusty eyes and the general feeling that I had been run over by large machinery in my sleep.

I felt like I screamed through my prayer group and was either super hot and sweaty or just downright freezing.

I was still pretty hard of hearing and full of brain fog when Monte came in muttering he couldn't figure out baby Jesus.

Before I had a chance to present the gospel to him

or more realistically say, 

"WHAT?!"

I noticed he was holding the plastic baby Jesus of our nativity scene.



I'm so excited we bought a plastic set from the hardware store in my hometown last year the day after Christmas.

Monte went in looking for a bargain and came out with a full price nativity set.

He said something like, 

"I bet you don't want to store that until next year 
so let me make you an offer."


Their counteroffer was they didn't mind at all storing it 
so it was still full price.

Either way, I got my nativity set.


Mary and Joseph required us to purchase and install 60-watt bulbs, but baby Jesus came with his own special light.

Of course.

Monte couldn't understand why it wasn't coming on very well.

He finally figured out the bulb was covered in plastic to keep it from breaking.

Can you imagine if Monte left it plugged in 
and baby Jesus caught fire?!

You know we'd have to call the fire department 
and it would be our now friend Alan 
who answered our earlier call about the noise coming from our fireplace 
and he'd have to use the big fire hose to extinguish baby Jesus 
and we'd be left with Mary and Joseph looking lovingly 
at a charred piece of burnt plastic.

But alas, 

Monte figured out baby Jesus 

and none of that happened.


Although he did have an uncomfortable moment installing the light inside of Joseph.


He said he now knew how our friend Mark, 
who preforms colonoscopies, felt.

For many reasons, 
Monte made me install Mary's bulb.

They are now resting calmly under our lilac tree.




Tuesday, November 22, 2016

From the Recesses of My Brain

I'm getting ready to fold my 112th load of laundry so we can start packing to head out of town for Thanksgiving.

While I've been taking care of errands and a sick kid home from school, I caught myself humming a song.

I recognized it, but couldn't place it.

It wasn't until I was humming it again later that I realized it was the theme song from The A Team.

Now that is a blast from the past.

It's amazing what decides to spit out 
from the recesses of my brain 
from time to time.

The A Team.


The only thing I can think that possibly dislodged that deeply embedded tune from the back of my memory is that Monte and I did discuss last week how someone he knows had a van painted to match the one in A Team.


And if I have accidentally caused you to hum The A-Team theme song,

don't even THINK about getting it out of your head.

It's locked in.

I can kinda see where the tune came from.

I watched the show as a kid.

It was a big deal.

But that wouldn't explain the dream I had the other night about McDaniel and I sitting in the backseat of a car with a little goat that we were goat-sitting and it got all nervous and started kicking the holy heck out of my stomach with both of its hind legs like a donkey.

I could FEEL it kicking me.

Realistically.

We finally got the goat home and all the neighbors came by to pet the goat and it got nervous again and started giving my shins the kicking business.

Again, I could feel the pain of its little goat hooves whacking my shins.

I told my prayer group my dream.

One of the moms in the group has a very sick daughter who explained her feverish dream of goats and having one as a pet.

My friend thought to herself,

"We can never ask Karmen to goat-sit!"

So that's something to be thankful for as we approach Thanksgiving,

a brain/memory that still surprises you with 
what its stored and retrieved

and friends that know your dreams so well 
they'd never make you goat-sit.

Happy Thanksgiving!