Category Archives: Miracles do happen

C is for cookie

I have always loved baking. When I got sick and lost vision, I stopped. It broke my heart, really. But patience and courage prevail! Every day I’m improving, and every day I’m taking tiny steps toward regaining some independence and enjoyment in life.

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Hence, the cookies! Chocolate chip cookies, made with love. Yesterday’s batch using old secrets was terrible, so today I tried something new. And you can see from the photo, I couldn’t wait to try one. It was perfection. Simply perfection. Got milk?!

Leftovers

The kids are at Grandma’s, and we have had a glorious time relaxing after the holiday. Yesterday after we dropped the kids off we stopped at the indoor shooting range. This is our idea of a date, because we both enjoy shooting. Mike is good at it, and has done well in competitions. In fact, I think he won the last one he competed in. I, on the other hand, am not so great. I just don’t get enough practice, but also the impaired vision doesn’t help. Though I surprised us both yesterday. I did a lot better than we expected. My reward? An early Christmas present purchased from the gun store, registered in my name.

After our time at the range, we headed to the local Italian restaurant for a good, Chicago-style pizza. Mike had been craving it, and I am always up for pizza. Even the day after Thanksgiving. We always like to order the largest sized pie and bring the leftovers home. Mike and Luke both just love cold pizza for breakfast. Silly boys.

So, this morning I had pizza for breakfast, and now I am enjoying the turkey day leftovers for lunch: pumpkin pie and coffee. We haven’t even touched the leftover turkey yet.

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Thankfully the house wasn’t destroyed from the festivities, so it didn’t take much to clean up. Dishes are done, extra table and chairs packed away, floor mopped. Mike even got his voice back!

I have to say I was quite amazed and pleased to see so many people giving thanks on Facebook this year. And not just any thanks, but thanks for the simple, genuine things like family and friends and God’s blessings. There was a bit of a trend of hard times for many of my friends and family this past year. Many of us were struck with extreme challenges like major illness and even death, some happening on this very week of Thanksgiving. I honestly believe the devil was trying extra hard this year to bring people down, but if my personal Facebook feed is any indication, it didn’t work. People are still seeing the good in life, and thanking God for it. I pray that continues, and that we are all able to see God’s hand at work in our lives.

All in all, it was a pretty perfect holiday. I am still learning to cope with change and enjoy every moment of life I am given. I pray the same for whoever is reading these words. Now… on to Christmas!!

The most thankful post yet

This morning I had a wonderful, realistic dream that our family was sitting around waiting for Thanksgiving dinner. Mike’s aunt and grandparents were there, and we were trying on hats, comparing head sizes. We were just talking and having a good time. Like the old days when I was a hearing person. In reality, that was only a short time ago. I lost my hearing quickly, but almost as quickly I was given the gift of a cochlear implant. I remember the fear of complete silence, and I still experience that in bits and pieces (bedtimes, showers, etc.). So while it will never quite be the same, dreams like I had today remind me that it’s possible. It is on the horizon.

Almost literally.

My husband’s family, my adopted family, will be here tomorrow for the food-filled holiday of Thanksgiving. My dream – or memory, perhaps – will become a reality. Laughing together, sharing stories, making new and wonderful memories. Redeeming last year’s Thanksgiving when I ran crying from the dinner table. Last year was the first year in over a decade that we had not hosted turkey day, and I am proud and nervous to be reclaiming that tradition after such a challenging year. We have always felt blessed around this time of year, but this year I think more than most. Last year I was such a mess, but over time God has picked me up and held me, and given me peace and patience and hope. When I had nothing to give, and barely the strength to ask for help, He rescued me. He rescued all of us.

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found;was blind but now I see.”

Let me introduce you to a friend of mine

I started this post last night, but it was while I had the television on, so I was distracted. I scrapped it, because when you want to share an important message, “distracted” is a crappy mindset to be in. This morning I’m trying to go with “honest” and “clear minded”. Here goes…

I saw Jesus yesterday. Not literally, of course, but real enough. I hesitate to write publicly about this because I want to be respectful of others’ privacy and personal lives, but I hope she will understand the underlying desire to share the powerful message her life is speaking. Who is she? She is a dear friend from my church. Someone who I felt a connection to from the beginning, because when we met two short years ago, she was having difficulty walking, as I do many days. It looked like MS, though doctors were still working on a diagnosis at the time. After many months of waiting for more testing to be done, a diagnosis was made.

My friend has ALS. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, ALS is a debilitating, incurable, fatal neurological disease. The nerves that tell her body to do the most basic and necessary functions are quickly dying. In a very short amount of time she has had to deal with loss after loss after loss. She is dependent on her husband and countless others for everything: eating, bathing, dressing, sleeping. Not only that, but she is an extrovert. Being stuck at home has to be one of the hardest changes for her. Amongst all the rest.

But rest assured, there is a positive message here. You see, I never leave her house feeling sorry for her. In fact, I always leave feeling more blessed and amazed. Not because she is a great woman, though she is amazing, but because I see something – someone – shining through her. When I see her, I see Jesus in those sparkling eyes. She is living in one of the most tragic of situations, and she still wears a smile and true light in her eyes. She is confident that this is not the end for her. She is looking forward to an eternity with her Savior. When her physical body breathes it’s last labored breath, she will be in heaven, dancing with her Jesus.

This is a woman who has devoted her life to serving Christ by mentoring others, and she hasn’t let ALS stop her. She continues to mentor others from her wheelchair using the telephone, computer, and voice commands. She still accepts visitors at her home, even though it may be uncomfortable for some to see her in her present state. Her body is dying, but her spirit is still very much alive. Of course, she has her bad days, but she lets herself have them and moves on. Every day is a gift, and she knows this with all of her heart. She chooses to life live to the fullest, every day, with all she’s got. And it may look to the human eye like that’s not much, but I know the opposite is true. She has Jesus living within her, giving her strength and peace and courage and hope. By letting Him shine through her, she is a true inspiration.

My hope here is a sort of “pay it forward” wish. I know that Christ’s strength and power is made perfect in our weakness. It’s true for my friend, and I want it to be true of me. I was dealt a crappy hand this past year, but I am determined to make the best of it. With strength I didn’t know I had, I am overcoming. I am 100% confident that that strength comes from knowing Jesus, and I want everyone to know Him too. So I suppose that’s the message. I’m not an evangelist. I’m not trying to be pushy. After all, you could have stopped reading this at any point, and you still can. But if you’ve made it this far, let me ask you this: have you met Jesus? Do you want to? I know He wants to meet you, and I would be glad to introduce you 🙂

Today was a good day

I feel like someone should throw me a party, or buy me a congratulatory latte. I did get a high five from my audiologist and a fist bump from my husband. Why? Because at my last appointment I scored 21% speech recognition and today it was a whopping 79%! And that’s after only four months with one ear! Imagine how much better it will get with time and possibly a second ear implanted!

This is so exciting, to put a quantitative figure on the improvement until today I had only speculated was happening. Praise God!

Removing Distractions

I’ve been feeling numb lately. Uninspired, lacking passion, boring even. And as I sit and contemplate why that is, I come up with a train of thought. The first car on the train being that I have not been praying on a consistent basis, and that leads to shallow prayers lacking meaning and purpose. Inconsistent and shallow prayers lead to inconsistent reading of Scripture, so I’m not talking to God, and He’s not talking to me (or I’m not listening).

Now, my main desire for starting this blog was to encourage and inspire people. I can’t do that if I’m only writing about the mundane details of life (though I know you love hearing about my housekeeping habits).

But, I digress. Back to the train. There is no meaningful conversation happening between me and God, and I am uninspired. Why is this? Because I am distracted. What is distracting me? Stupid Facebook games. There it is. I confess. And if I were truly, honestly confessing to you, I would share that today I spent a solid three hours playing Candy Crush and Farmville 2. Without getting up. And it didn’t end there. I did manage to get some things done, but always came back to the games. Because, “just one more” is a lie, folks. It never happens. This is an addiction, and the only way to beat it is to turn away. I have decided to stop playing altogether as of just before I started writing this post, but I’m honestly still arguing with myself about whether I “need” to un-install the damn things. And I think that’s the proof right there. They need to go.

What will I do to fill my down time? I don’t know, read, crochet, de-clutter the junk hiding in my closets and drawers? Or I could walk, practice hearing on the phone, write a note to a friend. That’s quite a list right there, and all of those things are things I would be happy to do. Correction: WILL be happy to do. Because starting tomorrow, the games are gone. Yup, I need to un-install them. Going to do that right now…

… okay, I did it! Wait, gotta remove Candy Crush from the phone and Kindle…

… okay, now I’m done. Games are gone.

I hope you know I’m doing this for you. I just hope it’s worth it. I’m gonna go cry myself to sleep now.

Healing the blind

Matthew 9:27-31: “And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, ‘Have mercy on us, Son of David.’ When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, ‘Do you believe that I am able to do this?’ They said to him, ‘Yes, Lord.’ Then he touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith be it done to you.’ And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, ‘See that no one knows about it.’ But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.”

I read a lot of these stories in the Bible, the stories of Jesus or his disciples healing the sick. And I have to be honest, it especially pains me to read the stories of the blind being healed. In some ways it’s jealousy, that that type of healing hasn’t happened for me (yet??), but in other ways it serves as a good reminder that Jesus CAN heal me. Believe me, I know it’s entirely possible (if not more likely) that complete healing may not come until I am ushered through the pearly gates. But that doesn’t seem to provide much reassurance. I have moments of peace about my crummy vision, and even my hearing loss, but they are just that: Moments. Some last longer than others, and I am thankful for those. Those are the times I am either really focused on connecting with God, or focused on the people I am with. Sometimes it’s both.

Today I am kind of in the middle. A little melancholy, a little at peace, but very thankful to be alive. Someday my day will come, and my eyes will be opened. Here’s to the hope that it will come sooner rather than later.

Psalms and asides

Oh, how I love the Psalms. I like how my thoughts follow interject as I read them. Today I read Psalm 13. I’ll tell you how it went, but for reference I need to point out that I have severe nerve damage in my optic nerves, and struggle with partial vision loss. The doctors at Mayo Clinic said it would not get better, yet I have shown slight improvements ever since. It’s been a journey within a journey. So here we go…

“How long, O Lord? (Yes, I’m impatient at times)
Will you forget me forever? (No, no, no.)
How long will you hide your face from me? (Okay, I’m sorry, I know you are here. You are not hiding from me)
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? (Do you get tired of the same old pleading, every single day?)
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (He will not win this battle)

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
Light up my eyes, (YES! PLEASE!) lest I sleep the sleep of death, (Ok,I suppose death would be worse)
Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” (Negative.)
Lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. (Shaken, not stirred. I’m standing firm in the knowledge that Jesus is fighting for me and He – WE – will prevail.)

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; (Oh, I have, over and over and over)
My heart shall rejoice in your salvation. (I’ll keep doing this too)
I will sing to the Lord, (Deaf ears don’t lend well to this, but I don’t think he minds, do you?) 
because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

Bountifully. What exactly does that mean? According to the dictionary, bountiful means abundant: liberal in bestowing gifts, favors, or bounties; munificent; generous. God is a generous God, liberal in bestowing gifts. Generous as in He wants to give us gifts, good things, and lots of them!

Here is where my doubt lies – does God want to heal my vision? He has given me so much, and I am thankful for all of it. I am truly happy and know that I am blessed. That fact is not lost on me. However, deep in my heart I guess I still want to pick and choose the gifts. I’m like an ungrateful child at Christmas, who didn’t get that Cabbage Patch Doll she was so hoping for. That girl, sitting on the floor amongst scads of toys and gifts, lamenting that there is no doll. This woman, sitting here in a comfortable home, with her beautiful children and husband, wondering when her vision will be restored. IF it will be restored.

Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful. And I know I am human and that God has plenty of grace for me. Grace to cover my ungrateful tendencies. I don’t know what God is doing with my vision. I know He keeps me in the dark on that point for a good reason. He wants me to trust Him.

Here’s the thing: I have a hard time with grace. I have a hard time accepting gifts. I have a hard time believing that I deserve. But you know what? I don’t. None of us do. That’s what grace is all about – the free and unmerited favor of God. I don’t know if my eyes will be completely healed this side of heaven or not, but I know God wants to give me good things. And who knows? Maybe that’s one of them. I did get that Cabbage Patch Doll, after all.

Gainfully unemployed

I had a disturbingly realistic dream this morning. I dreamt I was leaving my job. As I did for real last August. All the same people were there, but the office looked very different. More like the office in Nine to Five. Do you remember that movie? Anyway, in the dream I was packing up all of my stuff (which in real life I did not do) and saying my goodbyes. In the dream I was sad and frustrated, but when I started to wake up, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and relief.

I never admitted this while I was there, but I hated my job. Yes, I was doing accounting, but it wasn’t the kind of accounting I enjoyed. I started out at the firm six years prior doing monthly statements and reports and setting up new files, but by the end I found myself in the role of debt collector. Trying to collect from clients who had come to us for help getting out of a financial mess was like getting blood from a turnip. A losing battle. Every. Single. Day.

I still have the box of my stuff my coworkers had packed up for me. It’s been sitting, rarely touched, since the day I picked it up last September. Framed pictures, my iPod speakers, my candle (coffee) warmer. I even have my framed IRS Enrolled Agent certificate, which as of this week is now invalid. I did find my notary public stamp, which is still good for another five years, so that’s useful. The coffee mugs were the first things to come out when I brought the box home. However, I just realized today that my Einstein mug was never there. It must still be back at the office. My sister gave it to me, and it was a favorite. However, I’m hesitant to contact anyone from the office. I am afraid they would not understand my need to retrieve a silly coffee mug after all this time. After all, they’ve never contacted me. I worked there for six years and no one has asked me how I’m doing. Strange, but typical I suppose. Just goes to show a bit of what I hated about working there.

Oh well. The bottom line here is that some pretty crappy circumstances caused me to lose my job, and for that I am super grateful. In a way, becoming deaf rescued me from a life I was afraid to let go of. So, in God’s great power and graciousness, He plucked me out. He knew better than I, what I was afraid of and even more importantly, what I and my family needed. This all still amazes me. Can I get a hearty Amen?

Progress

I went to see my neuro-ophthalmologist (I finally mastered spelling that word) yesterday for my three-month follow-up visit. Wonderful news – as I suspected, the tests show that my vision has improved. It’s a small improvement, but it’s movement in the right direction, and that thrills me. We asked Dr. Kaufman what he thought about me driving again, if only for short distances. I feel close to comfortable getting back behind the wheel, but I trust his opinion, and was anxious to hear what he had to say. I was pleased with his response. For one, he didn’t laugh at me or show any indication that he thought the idea was absurd. However, he thought it was too soon for me to be safely behind the wheel. He did, however, suggest we talk again in another 2-3 months and see how I’m doing then. He believes my vision will continue to improve, and thinks eventually I would be able to look at driving in a wide open lot, with Mike’s supervision. He said my vision won’t ever get back to normal, but I didn’t really expect that anyway. I’m just happy that it’s better than it was. The doctor at the Mayo Clinic last January said that it would not get better. Since then, I have been praying and believing that God knows better, and that He is healing my eyes. He invented them in the first place, so I know He can do it. And look! He IS!!