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Thank You to My Community

For the last two weeks, Gregg and I have been battling Type A flu and pneumonia. He started feeling bad on a Monday night, and I started feeling bad on a Wednesday morning. By Friday, I nagged us both to urgent care. Come to find out, we not only had flu, we had pneumonia, and he had bronchitis as well.

We were totally flattened by this. Fevers, aches, coughs, no sleep, headaches. Early this week, I developed a sinus infection and added more medicine to my daily arsenal. It’s been a rough ride.

I posted about it on social media, and within an hour, I had a friend text me and ask if she could bring us dinner. I was a little overwhelmed by the request. Why, you ask?

I’ve had three babies, two of whom were in the NICU for a combined 38 days, two pregnancies that required bed rest, a husband who was in Afghanistan for 2 1/2 years when the boys were toddlers, lots of life happening in those years, and through everything, Gregg and I have never had a meal brought to us.

I’ve been actively involved in churches, delivered countless meals to new moms, new residents,  people recovering from surgery, for funerals — and with all of those meals delivered, I’ve never received one.

I have to tell you – not having to think about what to make for dinner, having everything just show up — I have a hard time creating the words to explain how much stress was relieved for me. It may seem like a small thing. It’s not. It’s a big deal.

Topping that off, every single day, I’ve received a text or phone call asking if I need anything or need any errands run. Here’s a character flaw of mine: I don’t ever ask for help. I’ve needed help lots of times, but I don’t ask. Part of it is a fear of rejection (I’m not kidding). If I don’t ask, I don’t have to deal with the emotions of not receiving help. Part of it is a stubbornness. I can do it. I’d rather be the helper than be the one helped.

But, when I got the first text asking if I needed anything, I thought about the empty milk carton in the recycle bin and knew that going out with Type A flu and pneumonia would likely be frowned upon. Assuming I’d even make it to the store without passing out. So, I asked for milk. An hour later, I got a text saying it was on the front porch.

I sent friends for bananas, to pick up Jeb, to bring more milk. I made myself consider every offer and forced myself to accept the help because I needed i

Gregg and I have regularly proclaimed how much we love living here at Fort Knox. We have good friends. We have a great chapel. I have an amazing women’s Bible study group. But I don’t think we totally understood the level of community we have here. Until it was there for us.

Now we understand.

A friend texted me about it and I told her that I’ve never really felt loved and accepted in a community before. I know I have friends, I have had good friends wherever I’ve lived. But I’ve never had a true community. She replied with, “You are treasured here.”

(sniffle)

It’s us who treasure this community. I am so very thankful for all the help we’ve received, for all the prayers given up for us, and for the support we have.

My plan today, other than trying to get a grip on a household that has received only cursory cleaning for two weeks, is to write thank-you notes. I feel blessed to have so many to write.

If the opportunity is available for you to bring a meal to someone, to send a text to check on them, to write a card, to run an errand — understand that you will be doing so much more for them than you can ever comprehend. Seriously.

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New Keyboard Makes Me Happy

I go through a keyboard about once a year. I’ve bought really expensive keyboards and really cheap ones. It doesn’t seem to matter what I pay for them – they wear out, or a certain key loses its sensitivity to my touch, or whatever happens that makes it a stumbling point for me in writing.

I tried a different brand last time — a gaming keyboard designed to take the impact of a gamer, and the keys lit up in a neat way. It had wonderful sound when I clicked the keys. They were a little less sensitive to touch – I had to press a little harder – and in the last year I had it, the pain in the joints of my fingers has increased. I don’t know how much of that has to do with my age and my profession, or the keyboard.

I went back to my old brand for my new keyboard. I paid a fraction of the cost, but it feels perfect as I type on it. It’s like my brain remembers exactly how to press on the keys. The clickety-clack is what my ears is listening for.  The longer I type on it, the more familiar it becomes and the faster my fingers can fly.

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We’re Moving!

20151109_162017_resizedI’ve been quiet of late. I’d like to say it’s because I’ve been buried under writing A Harmony for Steve, but that wouldn’t be true. My husband was offered a new job in another part of the state. We’ve traveled there twice in the past several weeks for interviews and preliminary planning. We’ve talked to schools, looked at houses, talked to movers, and arranged home inspections with a Realtor.

Then, the two of us went away, alone, and spent the last week praying about the decision. When we came back home, Gregg put his resignation notice in at his job and solidified the arrangements.

Now, we’ve started packing. The kids’ last day of school is December 18th. At 8:30 that morning, the movers will arrive and load our household up, then cart it across the state to our new home on Fort Knox Army post, near Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

Gregg and I are both Army brats. I’ve lived in this house for 8 years, and it’s the longest either one of us have ever lived in the same house. We brought our youngest son home from the hospital to this house, and he’s 7 now. Despite the ties to church and community we have here, we are thrilled to be moving onto an Army post, where Gregg will work 2 miles from our home and our children can grow up in an environment similar to the one in which we grew up.

Despite our excitement, nothing about this move will be easy. We have an 18-year-old college Freshman at a local college whom we’re moving into an apartment. We have a 9-year-old autistic son whose OCD tendencies make him absolutely terrified of something “different” or “new”.  And our 7-year-old is very social and already mourning the thought of leaving his friends and classmates behind.

cover-front_9781939603-4ah4s_640I should have finished A Harmony for Steve by now. I’m about 10 chapters away from finishing it, but haven’t spent any time on it in a few weeks. I’d promised it before the end of the year, but I’m positive that I cannot make that deadline now. I have a million details to see to, and the more that I pack and manage, the more chaotic my environment becomes. I have a hard time creating in chaos, and I have I hard time focusing on fiction when there are other things overwhelming me. Instead of stressing it, I’ve made the decision to just put it on hold until after the move, after Christmas break. Once we are settled into the new home and the kids go back to school, I’ll be able to refocus on my writing in my way.

20151109_155400_resizedIn the meantime, I’ll be penning a series of articles on moving with a child on the autism spectrum. I may pen a few articles about how our nest suddenly became 1/3 lighter as we settle our daughter into her new home. And I’ll be digging up articles on decorating and organization as we empty this house and fill another.

I saw a sign once that absolutely resonated with the Army brat inside of me. It said:

Home is wherever you are.

My prayer is that this new home will be a place of security and comfort for our children, that the walls will be bursting with laughter and prayers, and that we grow to love our schools and community.
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Worst Trip Ever

Last week I traveled from Lexington, Kentucky, to Phoenix, Arizona, for Arizona Dreamin’. It was a fantastic time. I hope to be invited back next year.  But, the week I went, on Wednesday our 6-year-old had a stomach bug, and on Friday, sitting at the gate to fly out of Lexington, the school nurse called to tell me that our 7-year-old was sick as well. I got him picked up and taken care of and we flew out – we were only there from Friday until Saturday night, then flew a red-eye to arrive home on Sunday morning.

The entire trip, I was paranoid about getting sick. I’ve always been susceptible to stomach bugs. But, as I’ve gotten older, I don’t *always* get the anymore when my kids get them. I think it’s just because I’ve had every possible strain I could ever have *heh*. But, every twinge in my stomach, I’d think, “Oh no. I’m going to be Typhoid Mary and send this stomach flu all over the world.” It never did happen, though (thank you, God.)

This weekend, I’m at the Southern Christian Writers Conference in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It’s about a 7.5 hour drive for me. When I woke up Thursday morning, my stomach was upset. But, I chalked it up to the fact that for the last 5 weeks, I’ve been on  a strict vegan/no refined sugar diet. But, on Wednesday night, we had company for dinner and I made beef stroganoff and strawberry pie. I thought my body was rejecting the idea of my over-consumption of red meat and sugar the night before.

I lied down for a bit in the morning, and around 11 felt much better. So, I packed and left the house.

I started feeling lousy again about an hour into the trip. I actually called the hotel to cancel the reservation, but I was beyond the window of being able to do that, so I decided to go ahead and plug forward since I was going to be charged for the room, anyway.

Not the best decision.

About three hours into the trip, I was very sick. Thankfully, I’d made it to a rest area. I had about 4.5 hours to go in one direction, or turn around for 3 hours to get home. I felt a lot better, so I decided to keep going. I never got sick again, but I started running a fever that made my body ache, and I had to drive through this horrible, horrible storm that was hitting the Huntsville, Alabama area with 60-65 mph winds and heavy rain.

rain

I have never been so happy to get to my hotel.

I’m a big proponent of letting a fever do it’s job in the body. Consequently, I didn’t want to take anything for it, even though my muscles ached. Instead, I ran to a store and bought some organic soup and lavender bubble bath. I soaked in the tub until I just couldn’t stay awake anymore, then went to bed.

I had a very restless night due to the fever, but woke at 4AM feeling better. My fever was down to low grade, I was hungry and have been sipping on soup while I type this, and just have a faint headache — which I’ll chalk up to the lack of coffee yesterday.  I have several hours before the conference starts, which will give me more time to monitor that the fever is truly gone and that I’m capable of withstanding a 9-hour day of writerly things.

My husband suggested I skip this conference and stay home. I almost did, but I truly felt better after spending the morning lying down. At one point while driving during the hellish storm, I thought, “If I get swept away by a tornado, Gregg is going to be SO mad at me or not listening to him.” HA!

Last night, apparently one of the boys was running a high fever as well, and complaining of a stomach ache. Clearly, whatever bug hit LAST week isn’t the same as this one. And, while I’m incredibly thankful to not have flown to Phoenix with a stomach bug, whatever this is isn’t the same thing. I just pray that I haven’t gotten anyone sick while I was having as minimal contact with people as possible.

*UPDATE* It’s now 9AM local and I feel perfectly fine. I’m so thankful it was a 24-hour thing, and just pray that I got no one else sick while traversing my south-bound route.
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3 Days of Thankfulness Day 25

I often post a list of all the things for which I’m thankful on Thanksgiving. But, in an effort to get back into the habit of daily blogging, I’ve decided to do a post a day for the month of November.

25. Four Seasons

four seasons

When I was 13, we moved from Oregon to Eglin AFB, Florida. At 16, we moved to Ft. Benning, Georgia. I spent January through May in Ft. Drum, New York my 18th year, and moved to St. Augustine, Florida, when I was 19. I didn’t leave Florida until I was 35 years old.

I now live in Kentucky. Kentucky has the most picture-perfect four seasons for which you can hope. Leaves turn brilliant colors in autumn and fall from the trees as the weather cools and nights become crisp; winter snow and ice cover the landscape during the winter months and the temperatures are take-your-breath-away cold; daffodils and tulips break through the frozen ground, fruit trees bloom in a beautiful array, and days begin to warm in the spring; fireflies light up the evening skies, everything is green, fruit trees bring forth their abundance, and the days are oh-my-goodness-hot in the summer.

I LOVE having four seasons. Love it. I’m thankful to live in a state where they are so picturesque.

 
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30 Days of Thankfulness Day 14

I often post a list of all the things for which I’m thankful on Thanksgiving. But, in an effort to get back into the habit of daily blogging, I’ve decided to do a post a day for the month of November.

14. My Siblings

siblings2

Out of four children, I’m the second oldest (and at 5’11” the SHORTEST!) My brother, Jim, is 16 months older than me, my brother, Ty, is 3.5 years younger, and my sister, Misty, is 5 years younger.

Our parents encouraged us to follow our dreams, to create, to imagine. We lived in a household where movies were adored and discussed and dissected. A household where books were consumed with equal passion.

My older brother has a degree in cinematography, and is an accomplished hip hop DJ with a weekly radio program. He lives in Sydney, Australia, blogs with amazing beauty and insight, and freelances as a writer on the music scene.

My younger brother has an art degree and is an amazing cartoonist. He does everything from a series of super heroes that he dreamed up as a child to a comic strip that battles culture woes and Christian worldviews. Some of my favorite work of his are his collaborative drawings with his 6-year-old daughter. I’ve never really seen anyone so patient and so loving with kids, and remember him drawing with Kaylee when she was that age.

My sister has a degree in journalism and English. She’s the managing editor of an award-winning newspaper and teaches college classes part time. She does this while juggling married life and three very active children. Her columns are so brilliant, and her writing draws readers in and makes them feel like she’s talking directly to them.

When we get together, it’s as if we were never apart. Conversations come easy and we are loud and rambunctious, talking over each other to talk about the last movie seen or share a recent experience. It’s comfortable and our kind of normal and full of love and mutual respect.

I’m so thankful for my siblings and look forward to seeing them whenever I can.
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