Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Mother's Day Post - in November!

I was scrolling through some of my posts on my wall over at Facebook, and I came across the post I wrote this past Mother's Day.  The topic is really more about forgiveness rather than Mother's Day  . . . and forgiveness is *always* a timely topic, doncha know.  :)

So, without futher adieu, I share that particulate post with y'all, here, now.

Mother's Day . . . For some, the holiday is a happy time; either because you're a mom and your kids are loving on you in special ways or because you're a child of a fantastic mother.

For other people, the holiday can be a very painful time; and the reasons range from infertility to unhappy memories of one's mom (and the reasons for the unhappy memories range from one's mother no longer living to having grown up with an abusive mom).

Personally, until a few years ago, I never even paid attention to Mother's Day. In fact, I often was unaware of it's approach unless someone made mention of it or I happened to be in a card store in the few weeks prior to Mother's Day. And, actually, it’s still that way, somewhat. Mother’s Day just isn’t naturally part of who I am.

My own mother was not a happy person. "Technically" my mother was actually my birth grandmother; she adopted me from her daughter (my birth mother) when I was still a baby. My grandmother had her own childhood and adolescent horrors from which she never really recovered, never really was able to make peace with her past and move on. Because of that, she also was a very angry person. Without going into detail, she vented her anger on me in, frankly, some pretty terrifying ways. When I was eight, she became bed-ridden with lung cancer. She remained that way until her death two years later. Even from her sickbed, I was truly frightened of her. I don’t refer to her as my mother (unless it’s for clarity in either what I’m writing or saying); instead, if she enters my thoughts or conversations, she is simply referred to by her first name.

I never met my birth mother. And, again, I’ve always referred to or thought of her simply by her given nickname. I spoke to her only once throughout my entire life. By the time such conversation took place, I was a young adult. The details of the conversation are not important; but at that time in my life, I was not prepared to meet her; I asked her to give me six months and then we could talk again. Six months later, she committed suicide in an women’s alcoholic rehabilitation center. The note she left blamed me. That’s some pretty heavy stuff for anyone to handle; especially a young adult (and such young adult going through her own trials at that time). Obviously, like her own mother, my birth mother had her own dark demons that she was simple not able to conquer.

It took me a few years to be able to come to terms with both of these women and how they influenced my life. I was in my early 30s when I learned the power behind asking Our Lord to help us see individuals as He sees them. I was able to do this with both my birth grandmother and also my birth mother. What I saw was great sadness and despair - in each of their lives. Emptiness. I also saw, in each of them, an inability to forgive those who had harmed them when they were young and vulnerable. It shaped their entire lives.

The brutality that each of them then inflicted upon me (as an infant with my birth mother and as a child with my birth grandmother) would also seem to be unforgivable. By all rights, I should be able to hold bitterness in my heart toward each of them every single day of my life.

Except. As a Christian, no, I can’t do that. In fact, I don’t even *want* to do that. Christians are called to actively forgive the people who have harmed them. We are also called to actively love everyone; *including* our enemies.

The cool thing about truly praying for someone is that one cannot sincerely pray for another human being while holding anger, hurt feelings and/or ill will toward them. Prayer and hate cannot coexist. Prayer and love is the correct combination. And, while, technically, I wasn’t praying *for* these women (both of whom had long since been deceased), I *was* praying that I would be able to forgive them; so they were definitely the subjects of my prayers.

I firmly believe that every commandment Our Lord gives us has a two-fold purpose: (1) to bring Glory and Honor to Him, and (2) to protect us. His commandments are not against us; they are so very much FOR us. They are given to us because He loves us so very much.

The commandment to forgive others . . . yes, obeying that will bring Glory and Honor to Him. It will *also* protect us in huge, huge ways. A forgiving heart is malleable; it is soft and capable of being molded and formed . . . and even reformed when necessary. A unforgiving heart is bitter and brittle, and brittle things tend to shatter  A heart filled with bitterness also prevents Peace and Joy from entering.

I had seen the effects of holding unforgiveness towards someone in how the ripple effects pervaded my own life at the hands of my birth grandmother. I had also experience, somewhat, those same ripple effects by observing some of my birth mother’s life.

I didn’t want to become that kind of person. Frankly, I thought I deserved better. And, I did - and I do. The sad truth is that so did both of these women, but they either didn’t know it or chose not to believe it; they deserved so much better than they allowed into their lives. Everyone deserves better than a living a life of unforgiveness, bitterness and hate.

And, that’s the clincher right there . . . we are the ones that make that choice. I make it for my life, you make it for your own life, and others make it for their lives, as well. We, each of us, can choose to either wrap ourselves in hurtful memories and bemoan, "Why me, Lord? Why?!" OR we can choose to wrap those hurtful memories up into a bundle and give them to Him and ask Him to protect us, to help us forgive, to help us heal . . . and to help us move on with our lives. 

I made the latter choice, and I’m so very glad I did.

I don’t do a lot of thinking about neither my birth grandmother nor my birth mother. There’s really no point in doing so. But, when they do cross mind, I try to remember to pray - that my heart would be protected and that I will be able to remember that what’s done is done, and it’s now all just historical facts; nothing more. The memories can’t hurt me. And, instead of becoming all embroiled again in hurt and anger, I allow myself, when necessary, to feel the pain of these two women not being able to reach beyond their circumstances. They were never able to flourish and know true Peace and Joy. And, that truly is a sadness; an empty, dark sadness. But, even though there’s pain in the realization of their choices, I am protected from that pain. It simply is what it is.

But. I also don’t stay in that place very long; life is for the living. My birth grandmother has been dead for almost 4 decades, and my birth mother, almost 3 decades.  There really is not any use nor good reason in getting stuck in all that old ick and yuck.  Besides, I’d much rather turn my attentions towards things in the moment, and I'd much rather focus on the joyful aspects of my life.

My hope, wish and prayer for each of y’all today is that if you are struggling with unforgiveness towards someone that you will be able to allow Our Lord to help you release that and to replace it with forgiveness . . . and also HIS Peace, HIS Joy.

May Our Lord bless you most abundantly.
Thanks for reading, y’all!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Let's Have an Update!

. . . A very quick update!
  • Currently seizure-free for 18 weeks + 4 days.  Yay!
  • Have been following GARD program for 13 weeks + 3 days.
  • The dizziness is almost completely gone.  This is AMAZING!  The dizzines had progressed to extremely severe and multiple times during any given day since the early part of this year.  Now, its occurrence is rare (and certainly not daily) and is nowhere near as severe as it used to be.
  • Fluorescent lights - those of y'all who know me know that fluorescent lights are *not* my friend.  Going anywhere with fluorescent lights often either proved not doable or would require that I wear sunglasses while under the fluorescents and then also be very mindful as to how long I was exposed to the lighting.  I still avoid fluorescent lights because they still can cause headaches; but this past week, I decided to "try" something and used the fluorescents lights in my kitchen for about 30 minutes - something I just *don't* do because of the severity of the effects (seizures, being one).  It worked so well, that I tried it again the next day!  I still had headaches after each "session", but not that sick, dizzy, disorienting feeling I would normally get when being under fluroescent lighting.  This is HUGE!!!  I still do not believe fluorescent lighting is healthy (for anyone), but being able to tolerate them certainly does open up my world (think about everywhere you go in a day's time that is fluorescently lit).  I still do not tolerate strobing or flickering very well (i.e., a ceiling fan rotating underneath the fan's lights or watching movies in a movie theater); and whether or not that will change, I don't know.  But, the progress I've made with just being able to stand in fluorescent lighting without having to cover my eyes with my hands or to put on sunglasses is absolutely stunning.  It's been years (decades, even) since I've been able to do that.
At this point, I would say that GARD is working.  :) 
Thank You, Lord!

I would appreciate your continued prayers that I am remain seizure-free and that all the other associated things mentioned above continue to improve as well.  As it stands today, they certainly seem to be doing just that!

Thanks for reading,
Y'all be blessed,

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cracked Roast and Other Things

. . . The other things, first.
First, nooooo talk of seizures today (well, I goofed that up already, didn't I?)  :) 
But really, there truly is more to life than seizures . . . however, since I did mention it and for those of y'all who are wanting a count, today marks just 4 days shy of 16 full weeks of being seizure-free.   The utter bliss of it all! WooHoo!  Yay!!  And thank You, Lord!  Let's keep those weeks turning into months, turning into years.
One more health "thing" for today; and then on with talking about cracked roast (are ya intrigued yet?).
I had a skin cancer check done earlier this week.  There have been spots popping up on my arms, legs and various other sundry skinful places lately ("lately", as in over the past several months) - and even more so than "usual"  I've had spots appear here and there for years (decades, even); that wasn't the unusual part.  The unusual part was the speed and prolification of these illustrious, uhm, friends.
Y'all will be glad to know (as was I) that none of the spots are cancerous; I'm merely going through an anomaly that the medical field likes to call "aging".  The nerve! 
Spotted Sharmies, by the way, are pretty rare, I hear.  In fact, I'm the only one that I personally know of.  I'm thinking of selling T-shirts to commemorate this new phase of my life.  Y'all can all wear them to help promote awareness.  They'll be fuchsia pink in color with pale brown spots splattered here and there.  The front of the t-shirt will proclaim:  "I spotted Sharmie today; have you?"  Whatcha think?  Pretty catchy, right?  I'm sure I'll need to order several thousand for the first printing.
Hmmm . . . :) 
So!  At any rate, I'm deeming myself healthy and am moving forward!
OK - on with talking about cracked roast.  Not "crack" roast; I'm not now infusing my dinners with drugs; let's be clear on that. 
Cracked roast.
This is a recipe that Tex and I created yesterday.  I'm pretty excited to share it with y'all.  I hope y'all like it!
This recipe needs to be followed exactly; it's pretty precise.
Oh - and you'll need a helper for this recipe; that part is crucial.  My helper was, of course, Tex.  Your helper can be your spouse, your significant other, your friend, your boss, your co-worker, your business partner, your client; absolutely whomever you choose.
When sharing recipes with y'all, I normally like to list the ingredients first and then the instructions.  Today, I'm going to list the recipes throughout the instructions.
Let's get going!
  1. Around noon, take the chuck roast that has been thawing all morning, and put it in the crock pot.  Add a bit of sea salt, some white pepper and some cloves of garlic (I used about 4 of them - we love garlic).  Add water, cover the lid and set the roast to cook for 5 hours on low.
  2. During all of this, your helper will need to be doing yard work in the front yard.  This is very important; do not skip this step.
  3. After you get the roast going, retreat to your studio for the next several hours to catch up on a few things.  If you don't have a studio, build one.  Again, this is a very important step that must be done if you want the recipe to be a success.
  4. About 5 hours later, go check on the roast.  It is at this stage of cooking that you should notice the lid to the crock pot is completely shattered.  Completely.  Every single millimeter of it.  It will take you a few seconds to mentally process what you're seeing.  Then, you will probably quickly offer up a prayer of thanks to Our Father that the crock pot lid was made out of safety glass; and that even though the entire lid is shattered into bits, it remained "intact and whole" and there were no bits of glass on the counter top or on the floor.  Better still, there were only 1 or 2 pieces of glass in the roast that is happily cooking in the crockpot.
  5. Walk outside to your helper (who is still doing yard work).  Smile sweetly to Helper Person, and inform them that you require their assistance inside for a bit.  I said something along the lines of "Sweeeettiiieeeee . . . would you come inside please; it's important and I need your help."  You may use this particular conveyance if you'd like; but do please be aware that depending on who your helper is, you might want to modify the nickname to something more appropriate for them . . . unless your business partner or employer enjoys being called pet names - that completely between y'all.
  6. This next step is VERY important.  The two of y'all should now stand in front of the crock pot and look at it, then at each other.  Repeat this a couple of times.  Think incredulous; that's the mood you want to project; and then speak that with your eyes and facial expressions.
  7. Helper Person will then lift the lid oh-so-very-carefully off of the crock pot so as to not allow any of the shattered glass bits to fall into the dinner.  You will then plate the roast, take it over to the sink and then wash it thoroughly to remove any particles of glass that may have fallen down into the crock pot and onto the meat.  I didn't consider it necessary to use soap for this task; but I'll leave that part to your discretion; it is, afterall, YOUR dinner, not mine.
  8. Then select your large strainer and hold it over a bowl while Helper Person  pours the liquid from the crock pot into the strainer.  Discard anything remaining in the strainer.
  9. Place meat and liquid into second crock pot.  Now would be an appropriate time to thank Our Father again; this time for owning two crock pots in the first place.
  10. Kiss Helper Person (again, this step may vary a bit with you; it depends on the specific relationship you and Helper Peson have with each other.  Tex and I thought a kiss was most appropriate at that particular juncture).
  11. This is the step where Helper Person goes out into the garage to air up your tires on your tri-wheeler, while you hurry to put on trike-friendly shoes so you can zip up to the grocery store before it gets dark.  One cannot have roast without onions and mushrooms, doncha know.
  12. After airing your tires (well, actually, your trike's tires), Helper Person can now go back outside and resume yard-working.
  13. While you're triking to the store, realize how incredibly windy it is and that the wind is definitely not at your back, but in front of you, creating a resistance.  As is the case whenever this happens, pretend you're at a Bob Seger concert and rock your best version of "Against the Wind."  Smile at the passerbys in cars as they drive past you; it will give them something to ponder for a few moments.
  14. Once you arrive at the store, respond to a phone call from Helper Person who tells you to call y'all's youngest daughter to chat with her about the ingredient measurements in your chicken and dumpling recipe (of which, does *not* require cracked glass).  Remember again (as if you could ever forget) how much you absolutely love, love, *love* cooking; even when glitches happen.  For this step, if you don't have a daughter, you may substitute any loved one your heart thinks of at the moment.
  15. After you arrive back home, throw some fresh onions, mushrooms, carrots and potatoes into the crockpot.  I like to chop or dice these goodies; you're free to skip this step if you so desire.  (But don't blame me if they don't cook thoroughly.)  Stare at the celery waiting to be cut, then change your mind because (a) you're over cutting up veggies at the moment and (b) the crock pot is full; there simply is no room left to add anything else.  Cook on low for a couple more hours.
  16. Eat your dinner.  Glass-free.  Enjoy!
See?!  Was I right?  Is this not the most fabulous recipe of all times?!

Do you think it will be featured on the Food Network?  I should probably start planning the outfit I will wear when they interview me . . .

As always, thanks for reading!
Let me know when you'd like to come over for dinner; I'll be sure to make the above dish for you.  You'll love it!

Be blessed,