Sunday, December 5, 2010

Giving Thanks, 2010

This year on Facebook I noticed everyone doing the "25 Days of Thankfulness" status game. Instead of posting a status for 25 days in a row, I just typed it all out in one big note. 

1. MY SAVIOR: the author and perfecter of my ever growing, ever increasing faith. I'm thankful for my God. (Hebrews 12:2)

2. MY JORDAN AND OUR MARRIAGE: the man made solely for me, who loves me unconditionally and makes me feel like the queen of our Dawnville kingdom; My lover is mine and I am his. I'm thankful for my husband. (Song of Songs 2:16)

3. MY LILLI: what would life be like without seeing God daily, as if with new eyes, through this baby's eyes? Because of her I now understand even more the sacrifice my Father made in sending my Savior. She plays with me and loves me unconditionally. I'm thankful for my daughter. (Matthew 19:14)

4. MY HOME: So many times people say, "It's not perfect, but it's home." Well, mine IS perfect. It fits us to a T. We have walls and a roof, lights and heat. We have running water and floors, beds and a place to sit. It's inviting. It cools in the summer and heats in the winter. It shelters from the rain. (Even the mice like it!) When I walk into my house my husband's and daughter's mark is everywhere. Their messes, their projects, their dishes, their smells, their stuff that accumulates...it reminds me there is LIFE in my home. And there is the presence of God. I'm thankful for my home. (Joshua 24:15)

5. MY GIFTS AND TALENTS: to sing, to write, to paint....my God has blessed me with these to use for His glory. I thrive on art. I find myself in it. I'm thankful for my talents. (Matthew 25:29)

6. MY CHURCH: I love the local body of believers I belong to. They strengthen me, they uplift me, they make me accountable, they worship with me, they pray with me and for me. I have the privilege of serving our Creator alongside them. We are SO blessed to have a Spirit filled and driven pastor, and choir and youth director. Their wives are pretty awesome, too! I'm thankful for my church. (1 Corinthians 12:27)

7. MY PARENTS AND BROTHER: They taught me everything I know that helps make me who I am today. They love me unconditionally and for some reason, they keep asking me to come over and visit..... I'm thankful for my parents and brother.(Proverbs 17:6 and 17)

8. MY MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS: It's only PART of God's plan for my life and it strengthens my faith in Him. I'm thankful for my Multiple Sclerosis.  (Philippians 1:6)

9. MY HUSBAND'S JOB: In a time when so many are out of work, my husband is blessed with TWO jobs. He works 4 days at Shaw and 1 day at Southeastern Latex Sales....WOW. He's off by 5:00 everyday and makes it home for dinner with Lilli and me. How awesome is that?! We pray for full time at Shaw but in the meantime, we trust God's plan and praise Him that there's a job, period. I'm thankful for my husband's job. (Ecclesiastes 9:10, Proverbs 22:29)

10. MY FRIENDS: When life is NUTS, or GREAT, I have my friends. They love, care, entertain, uplift, and tell me the truth about my hair color and makeup. They're the only ones I allow to tell me the TRUE answer to the question, "Does this make my butt look big?" They're the ones I count on when life's messes turn me upside down and I need perspective. They hold me accountable in my Walk. "It's all in love!" I'm thankful for my friends. (Proverbs 18:24)

11. MY FLAWS: They remind me of how PERFECT GOD IS and how I'm made in His image, placed here to glorify Him and further His kingdom. They remind me of how unconditionally loved I am by the One who created me and all of those imperfections that HE sees as PERFECTIONS. I'm thankful for my flaws. (Psalm 139:14)

12. MY LIFE: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE: I've come a long way....as a baby we were financially poor, but spiritually and emotionally RICH. I had the best childhood, as if it came straight out of a Little Golden Book. I was blessed to be raised by Christian parents. I married my best friend and we live together....HAPPILY. We're healthy and we've been blessed with a child. I LOVE my life. I'm thankful for it. (Job 12:10)

13. THE FOOD: Yeah, chunky chicks should probably not be thankful for food, but this one is. I see starving children and parents and can't imagine what it's like to go hungry. What a blessing to have cornucopia of groceries in my pantry and fridge! God is great, God is good. Let us THANK HIM for our food. By HIS hands we all are fed. Thank You, Lord, for daily bread. (Matthew 6:25-26)

14. MY MAKEUP: I know, it's trivial, but I'm thankful for it. It's FUN and it makes me feel HOT! ;) However, I know that when I take it off, despite how I see myself, God sees only beauty....with or without it. (Proverbs 31:30)

15. CHS: I can't say enough how blessed we are to have Lilli at CHS. It's the atmosphere, the ability to mess up also accompanied by the grace shown in learning from mistakes; the teachers, the education, the parents, the friends...the way it feels like home. (Proverbs 1:7)

16. PRAYER: Sweet conversation with God is what prayer REALLY is. Speaking and listening. (Matthew 6:9-13)

17. MY IN-LAWS: They gave me my husband! I better be thankful for them! I love them and for some reason, they love me and have made and accepted me as part of the family. (Ruth 1:16-17)

18. THE LAND AND FARMING: We LOVE the beach and the mountains. Jordan LOVES the land, period,  and LOVES farming. I'm starting to think it's just a part of who he is. When he's in his element, he's one with it....the Great White Farmer. ;) It keeps him out of trouble and gives him extra time with God. He makes a little cash and feels a sense of accomplishment when he reaps what he's sown; he likes to watch things grow and have a hand in it.  His PawPaw taught him everything he knows about farming and when he's on the tractor, it's like he's with his PawPaw again. (Genesis 1:12)

19. MY YOUTH BABIES: Jordan and I have learned so much from these kids. They're bright and talented; they have hopes dreams and fears that they're willing to share in order to further the Kingdom. Their hearts are aflame with a burden for the Lord and they cease to amaze me with their faith. I LOVE our youth babies! (1 Timothy 4:12)

20. PRAISE AND WORSHIP: I love to praise and worship my Savior all the time, but I'm specifically talking about when Jo and I get to lead it for the kids. Jordan's playing and singing ALWAYS bless my heart! It's AMAZING! We immerse ourselves in the music and focus totally on the Father...what an amazing time and what an amazing opportunity He's given us to bring His message through song! (Psalm 101:1)

21. MEMORIES: I have SO many memories of my childhood, my relationship with God and my family, Jordan and Lilli, my friends....these precious stones are what have built the foundation of my life and my person. Each and every memory I have stored in my gray matter makes me thank God for all that has passed and all that is to come. (Philippians 1:3-6)

22. THE PROMISE: One day I'll be going home to be with my Savior and all the ones I love. (Revelation 22:20)

23. THE WORD: It's my love letter from Father. (Psalm 119:105)

24. THE SEASONS: Not only are they beautiful and captivating, but they remind me even when my world is upside down that God is STILL on His throne, directing everything as a symphony. He's pretty awesome like that. (Genesis 8:22)

25. THE AIR I BREATHE AND ANOTHER DAY: It's a pleasure to be alive. I kinda like it and am reminded of it with every breath I take; every morning I open my eyes and think, "I'm alive. Inside and out. Thanks, God. I'm your walking miracle of life." (Genesis 2:7)

I have so much to be thankful for, and so do YOU! Enjoy your holiday and have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Week From Hades

Can this week get any worse? I'm usually all about optimism. A glass half full kinda gal. But not today. I'm all out for the week. I'm not giving up, just taking a nap on it. So here it is:

  Friday morning this chick backed her Beamer into the side of my precious baby, Charlotte the Chevy. Oh, the humanity! Now Charlotte has a dent in her door. High note: It's going on Beamer's insurance, not mine.

  The next couple of days are normal, only my shot was late arriving in the mail. See, the drug company sends me a three month shipment in the mail, every three months. I got a little behind on what day I take it. I told them this and that I'm trying to get it back on Mondays however, the drug folks waited to send it on Wednesday because that's when I've been taking it lately.....because I've chickened out. Hey, needles are NOT easy. It's Friday. I still haven't taken my shot. Why? Well, here's the rest of the week from Hades. This should explain everything.

  Tuesday I woke up with a visitor. Urinary Tract Infection just made herself at home in my bladder. How nice of her. Now, I know some of you don't wanna hear about this, but I'm venting today. Go with it. Have you ever peed razor blades? Yeah, that's just, in a word, awesome. (I can't curse; it would cause problems with Jesus and me so we're gonna go with *awesome* today in the place of what I really wanna say.) What did I do to evict this tenant from her new found residence? I paid a visit to my hero in blue scrubs, Dr. Calfee. He prescribed a little rust colored pill for pain that turns my pee glow-in-the-dark-orange and an antibiotic that gives me the New England Fox Trots. Fun.

  Wednesday I locked Lilli and myself out of the house. It gets worse. My truck keys were also locked in the house. Lilli had dance. In Chatsworth. In 10 minutes. My mother in law had to come to our rescue. Then my dad had to rescue me from the dance studio as I was wearing NO makeup. Shhh....don't tell.

  Bless Lilli's heart. Thursday at 5:39 am she woke up with a stomach virus. She puked....and puked....and puked....and did I mention puked? I had to arrange for the grandparents to keep her while I ran to CHS to speak to the FCA girls at 7:15am. This went fabulously until I decided to say "the devil sucks" and got a couple of looks from a mother or two. My bad. I picked Lilli up after about 45 minutes and we ran home to start the "Gatorade" trials. This is where you have your kid drink 1oz of Gatorade every 10-15 minutes and see if they can hold it down. This worked. We napped. And I woke up. Puking. Puking. Puking....did I mention puking? Did I also mention that it lasted WAY longer than Lilli and then FINALLY at about 1:30am it was over? (However, I am VERY grateful that Lilli's didn't last that long.)

  This morning my weak body pulled itself out of bed and got my kid ready for school. She was bouncing around like nothing had happened the day before. Her appetite and color had returned. Me? Well, let's just say Mary Kay can't help this mess out today.
   I made her lunch and packed it but we couldn't find her book bag. We assumed it was still in the truck. On the way out to my truck saw that Jordan had parked the van behind me. I said, "I wish he wouldn't do that, I'm afraid I'm gonna back into that thing one day." I ran back in to get Lilli a blanket for the ride to school because it was colder than what we expected and it takes a minute for the heater to heat up; in the process I found the book bag...hidden in the toys in the closet. I ran back outside, plugged up my phone, and buckled us in. We were ready to hit the road. I checked my mirrors. I even rolled the windows down to get condensation off of them so I could see better. My truck was in reverse. My foot was on the gas. BOOM!

  I backed into the van.

  Today, me, my dry heaves and my UTI will stay INSIDE the house. We will come out for no one. 

 

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Clampetts at the Marriot (2)

  Oh, the woes of the teenage home life...wait....WHAT WOES? Yes, I was one of those kids who had "cool" parents. They did it all and NEVER missed a beat of our lives. They were always there for a shoulder to lean on and good whipping when we deserved it.
  Mom and Dad kept us in church and expected us to never miss a service unless there was vomit, watery stool, a very high fever, or possibly blood involved. However, said blood had to be shed from the ears as the result of a violent head injury, you had to be "puking" from both ends and that fever better be causing grand maul seizures or by crackies you were NOT missing the sermon taken from Romans and the choir special that would no doubt bring the congregation to their knees not only in worship but utter repentance. We rarely missed; if we did there was a phone call from a deacon asking if someone in the immediate family had passed on to Glory. My parents took the verse "Train up a child" to heart perhaps more than any other in the red lettered book....and I'm more than grateful to them for it.
  Any extracurricular functions to be had by Chase and I were never missed. If they happened to occur at the same time, well, that's what two parents were for. And when they showed up, they pulled out all the stops.
  I'll never forget my momma wearing that hideous "diamond" "GO INDIANS!" pin to every cotton pickin' football game for SIX HOCKIN' YEARS. She was always covered in Murray County green and her "spirit buttons" of Chase and me....from head to toe. My dad all but painted his bald head green and white. To this day I'm convinced that my momma screamed the loudest for her beloved number 82 Indian son and her band nerd Indian daughter. After every ballgame on football friday nights we'd congregate by the field house and wait on my football hero baby brother to appear, sweaty, worn out and back then, a Murray winner.
 Chic-fil-a provided sandwiches for the team and their families; we'd eat, talk about the game and every now and again Chase and I would head to the post game dance then on home to hang out with our parents and usually bring spend the night company with us. It sounds lame, but some of the best memories of my life, if not all of them, are from just "hanging out" with my parents. They were awesome; everyone wanted parents like mine and everyone loved my parents.
  As cool as we and our friends thought my parents were, they still had their quirks; why was I so surprised when they showed their true colors on this vacation to beat all vacations?
  Being awarded only one night at the infamous Marriot Bay Point Resort for the rich (now monitoring who and what makes a reservation from then on) we had to pack it up and head to our new place of rest for the remainder of the week in Panama City Beach. Welcome to the Ramada Inn, complete with a lagoon setting of a pool (enjoy the waterfall but no jumping) and a roll away bed for the extra person in your party. That would be ME. Yes, we were no in a hotel room. No longer a suite with precious privacy, but a room....with two queen beds....and a trundle. The only place for that dern trundle was right beside the backdoor that led to the beach. This spot was also about a foot and a half away from the bed my brother and Kris would be occupying. Every night I would wake up with a large smelly foot in my face. I never knew if it was Kris' or Chase's, I just knew it was BIG....and GROSS....and how the heck did it get that far over to me? The snoring was insane. All four of them. I'm just glad my parents found something to do every day to wear us out.
 We had been in Florida for a couple of days or so when Mom and Dad got a wild hair.
  "Let's take the kids para sailing! They'll LOVE it!!!" I heard them saying. For those of you who don't know, I am terrified of heights. Para sailing was not on my list of things to do before I died, which I was pretty sure would happen if I participated in it.
  "It's over the water, you won't crash," Chase had said. Really. Coming from the one who stood right beside me at Six Flags and watched while our daredevil parents rode the Ninja. Yeah. Right.
  "You're just as afraid of heights as I am, goober," I retaliated. We stared each other down and without words, the duel was set.
  OH, IT WAS SO ON.
  "I betcha I can do it, dufus" he proclaimed. 
  "Go for it, butt head," I retorted. So we immediately began looking for the best deal on para sailing.......ALL of us. 
  As I said earlier, we were vacationing with three other families. First we had the Loves: Curtis and Vicky (the parents) and their two daughters Holly, who was Chase's age, and Kelsey who was five. They too had brought along a BFF: Melinda Peeples who coincidentally happened to be Chase's flavor of the month. Next were the Ridleys: Ralph and his wife (parents, but I can't remember Mrs. Ridley's name to save my life!) and their two sons. Joch was in mine and Kris' graduating class at school and Jeremiah was also Chase's age. Again, a friend, Aaron Osborne, tagged along. There was another family whose names I can't recall, however, I do remember the son's name: Tyler. I remember Tyler because he would be the lucky duck to parasail partner with me and make sure I didn't barf on the sea life miles below my flailing feet. 
  I would never admit it to Chase but I was beyond scared; however, nothing could have ever prepared me for what would take place on the hunt for the "best para sailing deal." 
  "Hey, check out this add for Club La Vela," Dad piped in while we were eating breakfast at the Shoney's. "They've got para sailing.....looks like they might have a good deal.....???" 
  The boys and I just looked at each other, our mouths stuffed with bacon. Crap. Everyone knew that Club La Vela was where we watched every teen in America party till they passed out on MTV's Spring Break. Hot bods and loud music. I really hoped that my parents were not going to go there. It was no use hoping. They sprang their idea onto the other parents, while my crew and I cringed at the thought of being caught on camera and broadcast to the world. Please, God....let there be editing. 
  We all hopped into our cars, the Pritchetts in the used vulva of course, and drove on down the Strip to the Club La Vela. I held my breath but not for long; thankfully when we arrived not many cars were in sight. The giant parking lot was almost empty. A desert asphalt island. 
  Everyone in our party was bathing suit and sandal clad, all carrying beach bags stuffed with towels and SPF 1-50 as we climbed out of our vehicles and headed toward the entrance. 
  The club wasn't at all like what I had pictured. It was more or less like an over-sized tiki hut only there were actual 2x4 planks which made up the "walls" and floors rather than straw. The entire place was open and quite inviting, if a club can be so. At first it was dark then an explosion of light burst through the bar area which was in essence the foyer of the club. Laughter and the sound of water splashing came rushing from outside in the pool area. The salty air clung to my skin as I breathed in the smell of it and the sweet damp aroma of wood. In no time at all we were inches from the pool and feet from a very chiseled and HUGE body builder in a Speedo. I couldn't believe my eyes.
That should not look like....well, what it....looks like. 
  I'll leave the rest to the imagination, but I will say this much: I was mortified, especially being that close to my dad. Ick. As I scanned the pool and tore my now blinded eyes from the steroid machine I caught Chase and Kris sprouting chin hair at the wondrous sight they beheld. A long leggy brunette made her way past them, clearly aware of their gaping mouths and bugged eyes. She just grinned, knowing they were lusting after her huge........personality. The hot pink thong she sported, if you can even call it a bathing suit, was enough to grab the attention of everyone in the place; however, it left nothing to the imagination much like the Speedo covered protein shake in the corner of the blue watered pool. As she rounded the corner, in slow motion, and we all watched her slink into the chilly water, I noticed that nothing on this woman moved. Nothing. She was all plastic and proud of it.  And her hair and skin were perfect.
(Record scratch!) Okay, hold it! Why on God's beautiful green earth are we HERE?! Aren't we the "church" family? Aren't we now viewing what's NOT even allowed on daytime television?! Does my self esteem need to take a nose dive?!?! NO!!!  
  I'd had enough and I was ready to vacate the premises. Who cared about para sailing deals anymore, I would do whatever they all wanted me to do if we could just find a more family friendly atmosphere with NO half naked Barbies and GI Joes. I turned to my parents to express my opinion and the WORST sight I've ever witnessed stood right next to me. There, for all the world to witness and see, were my "cool" parents. 
  Mom stood at the entrance next to my dad holding the beach bag and shooting invisible daggers at the cheeky wonder in hot pink butt floss. She had a blazing white sun visor on her head and a pair of sunglasses covering her eyes.  At this point in time, Mom was PRE lapband so she was still wearing the "granny" bathing suits with skirts. Lord, help us. It was black, "Because black is slenderizing," she always told me. The bodice was splashed with tropical flower designs and from the waist down was that "slenderizing" black skirt, gently blowing in the breeze. On her feet were a pair of rubber leather and bamboo design sandals that Melinda's mom had brought her from Hawaii only a few weeks before. Her toes were painted that never changing Cajun Shrimp by OPI Nail Laquer which matches every shade of pink, orange and red any female carries in her wardrobe. Heavenly Father, can this get ANY worse?! Yes. And it did. I leaned forward for sympathy from dad but he was of no help, and, God love him, was worse off than my mom. 
  Dad, who doesn't tan very well, stood there white as a ghost, with sunburned pink forearms and the video camera in hand taping the famous Club La Vela. The place known for it's seaside location, sand and surf, overflowing alcohol, and beautiful people was now going to be known as the place where parents showed up to cramp everyone's style and kill their buzz. I don't drink and I never have but I would've given my right arm for a shot of whatever was on tap at that moment. I raked him over. He was wearing a straw hat, the kind that retirees wear on the golf course so they can avoid sun stroke. On his nose he bore the shame of all beach goers: a bright white stripe of SPF 50. On his back he wore the dreaded tropical button down short sleeve shirt, complete with flowers and his red swim trunks. It was almost as if he and my mom were trying to match. His albino looking feet were strapped with a pair of brown leather Birkenstocks, a gift I'd brought back from Germany for him three years earlier. To complete this walking fashion faux pas was a fanny pack wrapped around his waist.
  They were both a tourist cliche right out of the "worst dressed" section of the Enquirer; the only thing missing was a scrunchy and a road atlas.
  I don't know if it was the club, the blistering heat from the sun or the fact that I was in the presence of Zeus and Aphrodite, but I had never in all my days been so utterly humiliated. It was a live sitcom. The real National Lampoon's Vacation was my family, my story, my life. I stood and stared at the two fashion wonders and pondered how to kill myself should anyone ever see me or find out. Chase and Kris had already jumped into the pool and were plotting a way to make "friends." 
  I took a deep breath and turned to face my parents and express my need to leave. They looked back at me and smiled with sheer unadulterated happiness. I stared into their faces and in an instant I couldn't have been prouder of my two incredibly cool parents. There we were on a real family vacation for the first time since I was in the 5th grade. They were proud to be my mom and dad and overjoyed to see their babies so happy. Gosh, how they wanted the world for us, and just to see us free as birds that week was enough to make their hearts soar higher than any cloud in the sky. It had always been about us; "us four and no more." My family was intact, happy and we loved each other unconditionally and regardless. Regardless of fashion dos and don'ts, regardless of differences in opinions and attitudes. In an instant I saw just how blessed I really was and I was already para sailing. 
  I put my arm around my daddy. "What?" he said, a half smile stretched across his sun kissed face. 
  "Thanks for bringing us here, Daddy. I love you." 
  He squeezed me back with one arm because the other was still holding the camera. Mom smiled and said, "Let's head to that place down from our hotel; they're cheaper." So, we packed it up, against groans of longing from Chase and Kris, and headed back down the Strip. It was the third day before we went para sailing, but we had so much fun that second day we didn't really care. And yes, Chase and I both did it and lived to tell the tale. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I can't wait to do it again. 
  My family's always been very vocal and passionate; as much as we loved each other we argued from time to time. But that week we didn't argue a bit. I watched as my parents stood in the surf together or laid on the beach side by side, holding hands. They would always take time to look at each other in the eyes as if to say, "I love you and I'm having the time of my life with you" even if they couldn't vocalize it right then.
  We took pictures and we ate out. Bacon was its own food group every morning at breakfast that week. Chase and Kris would literally pile one plate six inches high with nothing but bacon. We played, all of us, until we couldn't play anymore. We gooney golfed, road the banana boat, swam, ran, went sky coasting, had chicken fights in the pool, rode go-carts, and even went to a haunted house....you name it, we did it. There were more activities that we took part in than any family could have fit into a week, but we somehow did it. 
  While playing gooney golf one night my dad was videoing and narrating as he always did. He zoomed in on Curtis Love's face and asked the question "What do you have to say to the folks at home, Curtis?" as if he were a reporter hitting hard on the story of a lifetime. As cliched, as tourist corny and as southern as he could possibly sound, Curtis replied with two thumbs up on either side of his hearty red cheeks and summed it up better than any of us ever could, "We're having a great time here in Panama City Beach!!!"   
  At night we'd lie in our beds and the whole family would talk in the dark....well, Chase and Kris would fart and we'd all laugh until our sides hurt and tears of joy stained our pillows. As busy as we stayed, every single night before my eyes looked their last at the evening sky my mom and dad's voices would ring out, "We love you, kids. Hope you had fun today." The three of us would smile and fall asleep to this last thought before we'd awaken the next morning. Oh, the excitement of wondering what blessings the sunrise of a new day with these wonderful and amazing people would bring. 
(L-R) Curtis(who was unaware of the photo op), Tyler, Kris, Chase, Jeremiah, Me, Melinda, Holly, Aaron and in front: Kelsey
 
  
  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Clampetts at the Marriot (1)

  Instead of a vacation every summer growing up like other families, my family and I went to church camp. We never really had the extra money to go on a vacation. Church camp in and of itself was outstanding and my family and I looked forward to it every single summer. But the summer before my senior year in high school Mom and Dad decided, What the hey! Let's *splurge!* This was only the beginning of the best vacation EVER.
  I don't know whose idea it was for us to take this wild and crazy vacation but, as always with my parents, it was very spur of the moment. Somehow Kris Rogers who was and remains Chase's BFF was roped into this party of sorts. Since then, we've just adopted him as our "brother from another mother."
  For a week, or there abouts, we were headed to Panama City Beach...because hanging out on the "Miracle Strip" with your parents at 17 years old is TOTALLY cool. There were two other families with whom we would be vacationing. Now that I think back, they were responsible for inviting our family and I will forever be grateful to them for these amazing memories.
  At that time my dad worked for Carpets of Dalton as a flooring salesman. As incentive to "bring in the business" (aka cash) the salesmen were awarded "points" in which they could use for items in certain magazines, clothing stores, electronic stores, etc. and of course, vacation accommodations. This particular summer Dad used his points for a night at the Marriot Bay Pointe Resort in Sand Destin, Florida....the upper class part of Northwest Florida. (well...it was upper class to us)
  We packed up the family truckster and hit the road. Now, my mother had a used Volvo station wagon....which just shot my "cool-o-mometer" sky high when you thought of me riding down the Strip in that thing......with my parents. We called it, as perverted as it sounds, "the used vulva." It was white with red leather interior. It also had air conditioning............that didn't work. There we were, 2 adults and 3 semi adults, crammed into that used Volvo......sweating like two rats loving it up in a wool sock on a sunny day. Please keep in mind that Kris was every bit as large as Chase: Both 6'4". Both around 250 pounds....on an empty stomach. Both sweaty football players. And I was stuck between them.....for 6 hours....with no air conditioning. We rolled the windows down on the drive south, but it rained. And the windows had to be rolled up.
  It was a sight watching that mess drive down the road, I'm sure. Our luggage was strapped to the top and covered.............by a camouflage tarp. The gas cap had broken free from the car so it appeared we had a huge hole in the side. The Volvo also had a problem with backfiring very loudly.....Again, with the cool-o-mometer. Again with the sweating.This was going to be GREAT.
  My parents knew little of Sand Destin as this was when it was fairly new and not many people knew about it period. We followed the map closely and when we arrived, well, let's just say we were in for a surprise. Not only was Sand Destin its own little community, but so was the Marriot Bay Pointe.
  By the time we entered the Sunshine State it was living up to its name. There was no rain; not a drop of moisture in sight. The windows were rolled down, the tarp was flapping, the gas cap was still missing, and we were all still sweating. We found the Marriot....and pulled in. Much to our surprise, this place was pretty swanky. And everyone there drove a Mercedes or some other European car that was worth more than four of my momma's Volvos.
  We could not believe our eyes, this place was GORGEOUS! .....And rich....unlike us. The resort looked almost brand new it was so perfectly kept. The grass (all around and on the golf course) was a vibrant green, the kind you only see on television because the weather is never perfect enough anywhere for grass to stay alive and so stuffed with chlorophyll. Any shrubbery was shaped as if someone went over it with a pair of sewing scissors to cut every branch and leaf so precise that they seemed like overgrown green balloons. Tropical flowers indigenous to the warm salty Florida climate added just enough color to complete the beautiful picture.
  We rolled into the resort slowly as to soak everything in.
 "Quick roll up the windows," Mom said quietly.
  We knew not to ask why. We were the ONLY car like this on the whole of the resort....with that camo tarp.
  "Moe, get out and fix the tarp. Put the gas cap on...QUICK!"  Excitement set in. We acted like 5 year old school girls so much we could not believe our eyes. We were laughing hysterically at Mom and Dad putting on airs as we inched closer to the valet at the check in breezeway. The men on the golf course looked up to see the camo covered desecration pulling in, at the "big sweaty people" and....What is that noise? A catalytic converter rattling? 
  The Volvo came to a hault in front of the valet, all decked out in his little "I'll park your car for a fat tip" uniform................................BANG!!!!!! He was almost knocked out of that dorky monkey suit when our used Volvo backfired and blacked smoke billowed from the muffler. Dad rolled down his window. Through the hot salty sweat pouring from his bald head and in his most southern red neck accent asked, "Do ya'll get the luggage or d'we?"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

*Uncensored 2

  MS is ugly.
  Physically: You see me with my makeup all "perfect" as some people will say. Nothing is "out of place on the face!"  ;)  My skin isn't too bad; every now and then I get a little red visitor but it's nothing a battle with Proactive can't fix. A cute outfit from the TJ Maxx tops me off, because I'm uber cheap and I *love* the TJ Maxx. (Yes, I say "the" before names of places...I can't help it. I guess I'm an old lady in that way. Go with it.)
  I love shoes especially high heeled ones. The higher the heel the closer to Jesus...and the thinner the cankles will appear. How do I walk in those? Simple: Wear them to functions in which I will be seated. It's not like I go for a hike in heels. 
  I like for my hair to be the "perfect Brandi blonde shade" that, no, did not come from Jesus however, He's totally responsible for the gift of highlighting that my hairdresser bestows. My natural color is a darker blonde...kinda boring for me and it washes me out. Bleck! BUT, we don't go platinum...um, no. Just, no. 
  I don't think I look too bad without the assistance that Mac and Mary Kay offer, (though you might differ in opinion here) but I LOVE, LOVE , *LOVE* makeup....it makes me HAPPY! To me it really is like painting a canvas. Makeup is an art. ;)
  I'm a little chunky, to say the least; or, I'm curvy....better yet, rubenesque. Jordan refers to me as his pin up girl....I can TOTALLY go for that. (Thanks, babe!) So I'm not exactly fit, but not quite a candidate for the lapband either. (Sorry, Mom.) I'm skirting around it, though. I gripe about my weight and there are some things I could tweak, but overall, I've learned to accept myself. If I lose a few, great. If not, well, I'm not gonna harbor on that one right now....I've got bigger fish to fry AS LONG AS I'M NOT GAINING. That part seems to be pretty easy.
  I've already told you about the "bling things." So now that you've got a pretty clear mental image of who Brandi is physically, let's dig a little deeper and, as Jeremy (our pastor) says, "unpack."
  My testimony is posted, or will be shortly if it isn't by the time you read this, so we've established that I'm a born again Christian. Jesus lives in me and I couldn't be happier about that, thank you. Yeah, the heaven part is pretty dern amazing: I've got fire insurance! But the joy of having Him here, inside of my very heart...the walk with Him...that is what makes it so awesome to be saved by grace through faith. That is what keeps me going and gets me up, onto the floor, every morning, even when I think I can't. That is what gives me the strength to "move it" as the NMSS encourages us MSers to do.
  As I said, MS is ugly...it doesn't come in a pretty package. In fact, it comes in a mangled one full of junk and uncertainties. I'm still in the beginning stages of it: Relapsing/Remitting or RRMS. However, there are many "what ifs" and "Oh, crap, I wasn't prepared for thats" that happen here and there. 
  So aside from the chairs and walker issues, aside from the blindness and lack of writing skills, aside from not remembering what you told me yesterday (we're talking totally blocked out....as far as I know it never happened) and aside from being tired....a LOT, there are other parts to MS you may not know about.
  First, when MS blips on my radar, it can bring some friendly depression with it. My weekly injection Avonex can also cause depression. These two mixed together make for a not so happy trip over the edge and some "bad thoughts" in a person, therefore, I'm constantly being monitored by my doctor and the Avonex people. Every three months I go in and he asks me the same question: "Are you depressed?" Every three months when Avonex calls they also ask that question...only they dig: "Do you *feel* depressed?"
  So, define depressed. If you think I'm shut up in my room crying every day, not eating or talking, not bathing and "thinking unhealthy thoughts" then NO, I'm not "depressed." I'm being honest here, though, some days....I'll have one like that, minus the suicidal thoughts. Some days, I've just got to be alone and work on ME. Or I'm just too emotionally drained to do anything. If I don't call you or write you, it has nothing to do with you, I just can't make myself that day. I'm allowed it every now and then.
  I have had a little problem called pseudobulbar affect. This is where I'd just burst into tears or laughter for no apparent reason. Initially we thought it was just Brandi being overly emotional. Let's face it, I'm a girl. Sometimes I'd just be sitting and I could feel it welling up in my throat....that scream before a cry that's so painful and I didn't even know I was sad. I had no sad thoughts or happy thoughts, I'd just cry or laugh hysterically. It was really weird. As we learned more and more about MS we learned about this strange phenomenon. When my symptoms and blips were spiraling was when this would come about. It never really caused any problems it just felt strange....again, like I was losing control of ME. On top of that, I was emotionally unstable...my PMS mood swings are enough, but good grief, let's NOT add MS mood swings to that. Something else was taking over. 
  As we get a little heavier and intimate with this, I ask that you be patient with me. It's hard enough facing my fears, but to share it....I have NO idea why God wants me to do that part. Why can't I just leave the link at the side? They can read, they're bright people! His reply? They'll understand better coming from a *person* not an article written by someone who, to them, doesn't have a face and doesn't have MS. 
  Please remember that my cognitive function is a little off compared to what it was a long time ago. Along with forgetting things and having a hard time putting "sense" into dollars, I also can't remember a lot of words and my vocabulary has diminished....so I think for Christmas this year I want a thesaurus! Problem is, I'll not be able to think of words to look up....hmmm.....okay, a DICTIONARY!!! I'll just read the whole thing and try to maintain something.
  In the beginning we were told there was no pain with MS. Well, needless to say we later discovered there is. Some doctors believe it can be brought on psychologically so they don't tell their patients about it. "All MS cases are different; just make sure you tell me about every little thing that happens to you physically when you come in," is what Dr. Chander had told me.
  I never had a problem until the day I did yard work last spring. My left arm had been aching for about two weeks; again, Brandi ignores everything and sucks it up thinking it's a pulled muscle. After the yard day, I figured out otherwise. My arm was out of control! It felt like it was on fire and I couldn't even wear a shirt. Then it spread down to my legs. MS can cause or worsen RLS (restless leg syndrome) or as I like to call it, "crazy legs." I was pretty used to this when I had a blip but this was out of control...my legs would pull as tightly as they could all the way up to my chest and they were also on fire. My  body would stiffen and release all while my legs were kicking and jerking at different intervals. I'd think all was calm and then SLAM!  It was uncomfortable to say the very least and incredibly painful.  Now, I can totally handle some pain; I've given birth, I can conquer the world, but this was NUTS. I finally caved and took a hydrocodone. NOTHING. It didn't even phase it. Then I took benadryl, against doc's orders, because I knew that would calm my legs down. (I remembered it from pregnancy.) I finally fell asleep and was "jerk free."
  The next day I called and went in to see my doc. He called it neuropathy and put me on a neurontin which is an anti seizure med. It helped loads but it also helped to load on 14 pounds in a month. I came off of that mess. I'm not in any pain now. Every now and then I'll get RLS so I'll get up and walk around the house for a few minutes. Sometimes my legs ache or my arm will act up, but I can handle it. 
  There's a slight bathroom issue with MS. (Yeah, this is risque, wohoo!) We're talking about bladder dysfunction and peeing now. YAY! When I've gotta go, I've gotta go. There's no waiting. And sometimes, because it's happened in the past, if something's really funny...or maybe I'll sneeze or clear my throat...well, let's just say those nerves are effected by MS, too. And sometimes they're not finished when I think I'm finished. Praise God for liners. Some MSers have it worse than me. They can't control their bladders or their bowels at all. I'm very fortunate to not have any problems in that area. I think I can handle a little drip every now and then. I get up a couple of times a night to head to the porcelain throne. That's part of it, too. I try to hold off on any liquids before I sleep and always go right before I tuck in, but it never fails. This is called nocturia. Sounds like a fairy name! Wonder if she has pixie dust.....
 Avonex is my weekly shot and a GREAT medicine. By far, it's the best on the market and the best for me. However, I have to be careful with it. Not only can it cause depression and I've talked in the past about my "flu day", but it can also cause miscarriages. It's not FDA approved for use during pregnancy OR breastfeeding. So many people ask "Why haven't ya'll had another baby yet?" My husband is a college student and has a two jobs, and yeah, we could probably have another baby, although it would stress him out to NO end more than he already is. But in the state I'm in right now, it's not exactly the right time for me to get pregnant. I'd have to come off of my shots for three months before we could even try and with the blips still in full swing I don't think that would be wise.
  During pregnancy it's almost as if an MSer gets better with the progression of pregnancy. However, after delivery is when things can spiral again. My neurologist also doesn't want me to breastfeed the next one; as soon as it pops out he wants me to literally, while on the delivery table, take an injection. Avonex cancels out breastfeeding, I guess you've gathered.
  I'm having to pray a great deal over the pregnancy and breastfeeding issues. Does God want us to have another baby? We want to, but right now, it just doesn't seem like the road to head down. Like Hannah, I'll wait and when it's my time, I'll know it and I'll be blessed. Even if I never have another baby, look at what I do have already! What a blessing our Lilli Bug is!
  Speaking of pregnancy, (yes, we're headed further south) there are sexual issues with MS. A few people have asked me about this; I think the rest are scared. Think about it: your brain controls every single function of your body. The tiniest hair may fall on your skin and you know it because of the signals sent back and forth between your brain and the place that tiny hair has touched. If it can control your bladder and bowels it's got a handle on anything else in that region as well. Did you really think that the way you work in the bedroom just fell out of the sky? (Aside from the God part.) This is common with any normal person just as with MSers, so the same advice is given when a sexual problem may arise. Thankfully, we haven't had any severe problems in this area. (Whew!) MS fatigue can be a not so sexy roadblock, but we climb over it. Having a blip isn't very hot either, but we work around it that, too. My outlook on this sensitive subject: where there's a will, there's a way. I love my husband very much and we're firm believers in spending that intimate time together. That's a gift from God, folks! Rock it and keep it hot, MS or no MS! As my friend Dr. Rick Marks (Marriage For Life) says, "God was having a GREAT day when he designed sex." There is NO way I'm gonna let MS take over.
  Well, that was by far the most personal paragraph I've ever written and shared with complete strangers....but I know I'm not the only one. And I'm not the only one who worries about these things happening to their body.
  This brings me to my final MS fear....it's been all about how I'm affected, but what about how Jordan and Lilli are affected? Jordan is holding his own, so is Lil. They are my rocks and they know that no matter what comes our way, I'll always be theirs as well. What haunts me the most is Lilli's future. Even though MS is not inherited, the chances of getting it are higher if you have a direct relative with it. Her chance of ending up with it: 1 in 40. No big deal? Mine was 1 in 750....actually, 1 in a million. I beg the Lord to NOT let her end up with this...to save her from it. If I have to suffer 10,000 times over to keep it from her, I will. But just as I trust Him with her food allergies, I have to trust Him with this.
  I saw a woman sitting in her car recently. She was attractive and looked pretty normal to me. An older woman was sitting in the driver's seat next to her, watching her as she watched me walk by. I smiled but she didn't return the smile. She looked as if she was struggling with her mouth. I later found out that this precious soul has MS. The older woman in the car with her was her mother, and she was feeding her because she could no longer do it herself.
  Two weeks ago I watched a woman in a wheelchair give an interview on medical marijuana. Her legs and hands were distorted from her battle with the beast. She wore coke bottle thick glasses.
  I think to myself of how blessed I am that we caught this thing early. Some people wait months, years and even decades due to the many uncertainties surrounding this mysterious disease. It can also live actively in the body and the body will show no signs until it's gone far enough and finally pandora's box pops open. I only waited a couple of weeks for my diagnosis.
  I think of how blessed I am that I'm not cane, walker or wheelchair bound. I can open my mouth and tell my family I love them. I can kiss my husband with lips that move, wrap my arms around him and squeeze him and can feel him in return. I can play and laugh with my daughter. I can walk...sometimes it's with a limp, but by crackies I'll do it in glittery shoes and make it look like it's my swagger. And I can sing....I can sing my little heart out and praise my God. I have SO much to be thankful for. But in the end so do the more "unfortunate" MSers who are suffering even more than me. Perhaps they're more fortunate in a sense....they probably see God even more clearly than I do.
  I keep my God and His words so close to me, but my memory fails me more often than not. There was a verse I kept hearing from God....but I couldn't put it all together. It was too cloudy. All I remembered was "when I'm at my weakest He is his strongest." I didn't know if it was even worded correctly but I knew that's what He was reminding me. Then yesterday I got a message from my friend Haley....what a gal. She's been listening to God. She sent me the very verse I'd been looking for and trying so desperately to remember all through this turbulent week.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
(Thanks, Haley.)

  These two women whom I spoke of above, whom I don't even know, are such an inspiration to me. No, I didn't talk to either one of them, but I know their pain. I know their fears. They fear it could get worse. But they haven't given up. I fear it could get worse. But I haven't given up, and I won't. Over the past two posts I've shared my heart, my mind and the reality of my multiple sclerosis with you...the reality of what could happen to me. I war with MS knowing that through it all, He is being glorified! My faith is being strengthened every day. I knew God was real a year ago, I've never doubted that fact. Now....now is different. I see more of Him and his hand than I ever have.
  I can't lie, I have days where it's too much and keeping my chin above water level is more than I can bear. I feel myself sinking and as the water crashes over me, the air is nowhere to be found. But I find my strength to "just keep swimming" when I lift my eyes to the hills. (Psalm 121: 1-2) It's in your prayers and encouraging words of wisdom. I find it in the scripture you send me. It's in the blessings God is pouring out on my family and me every single day and the constant reminder that he is with me always. (Matthew 28:20) From there I'm able to stand on both feet, walk on the water with Jesus in my sights and breathe in and out again. So why do I worry?  I've got all the help I need backing me up and pushing me forward. I'm human...I'm weak...That's why. But in this frail and weak body is a soul so on fire for God and his will for me. It's stronger than the body and mind. Stronger than the MonSter. It's not about physical strength anymore, but spiritual.

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-2


  Now you see that I'm not as brave as I may seem. The "bravery" you see is Christ, not me. I don't wear a cape or possess any supernatural powers; but I fight this thing with my Father in front of me every single day, bearing HIS supernatural powers, knowing that I may not win against this MonSter on earth, but I will in heaven. One day I'll walk with Him, disease free....No shots. No pain. No worries. No fear.

 

My Christian Testimony

Hey, my friends. I have to share something with all of you that has taken me way too long to do it. I wrote this a couple of years ago and posted it to FB....I'm just now getting it to the blog.

A few weeks ago we had a little seminar type deal @ my church called "Every Believer a Witness." It was all about fulfilling our duty as a Christian: sharing Christ and the gospel with the lost and being brave about it. The speaker challenged us to write down our testimony and share it with at least one person the next day, by reading it to them. Well, being a homemaker, all I had was the cat, therefore failed miserably. I'd been feeling mighty poorly about it...conviction is great. But I prayed for God to set up a divine appointment for me. Then God said, "Why don't you email it."....since it was 1:00 in the morning and I probably didn't wanna go on visitation since I might've gotten shot and met Jesus, in the flesh, quicker than I expected. Not to mention, most of my peeps were asleep.

Anyhow, most of you "know" that I'm a Christian but have never heard my testimony, as I may not have heard all of yours. I still plan to share it in person with my "divine appointment" and many more after that but I want my friends and family to know the details of this very special moment in my life RIGHT NOW. So I not only emailed this to my entire email list, but now I'm posting on Facebook. If I catch you in person, we can always talk further, but my heart literally can't wait for that slim to none chance meeting. If you have any questions, please feel free to email, FB message or call me; I'm always available for prayer and will answer any questions you may have to the best of my ability.


(I thought I was saved when I was 6 years old, but I don't remember what I prayed, and not having the understanding of what a real relationship with Jesus was, there wasn't much of a change.)

My life BEFORE I met Jesus:
I walked the walk and talked the talk but I was still missing something: the deep, personal relationship with Jesus. He wasn't my best friend just yet...There was no growth. I was just that "sweet kid that never missed church." I loved Jesus, but didn't really know WHO He was and is. He was more of an "acquaintance," not my friend.

How I came to accept Jesus into my life:
I was at revival at Holly Creek Baptist and during the invitation felt that gentle tug of the Holy Spirit. I leaned over to my friend, Heather and said, "I'm not saved and I want to be." She led me in a sinner's prayer and I asked Jesus to come into my heart. I distinctly remember asking him to "befree me" of my sins. A lot of weight and burden was lifted off of my chunky little 12 yr. old shoulders. I now had a special RELATIONSHIP with my Savior, one just for the two of us. He was my new BFF&A!!!! Praise Him!!!

My life since Jesus came in:
I have a burden for sharing Jesus' message through music and He has given me opportunity after opportunity to do so. I couldn't sing about or for him without him, let alone just sing. And what a blessing to be able to share his message through this wonderful gift He has so graciously given to me. I'm humbled and so unworthy, but also very thankful. I've had ups and downs in my Christian walk and I'm certainly not perfect, but He has never left my side. I know who to go to when it seems all hope is lost. I'm secure in his unchanging faithfulness-just like his word says! I have a BFF for eternity. Besides all this, I now have a spot reserved for me in heaven!


*When all else fails, my Jesus is always there!!!*


Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this. I pray God blesses your day and that you have the opportunity to share your testimony with someone also. I love you all!

Jeremiah 29:11

Lord, bless this note and have your way through it.....For your glory, my Precious Father....

Monday, September 6, 2010

*Uncensored 1

 I love holding Jordan's hand. It seems so 6th grade, I know, but it still gives me butterflies when he reaches over and takes my fingers in his. They tingle and I look to see whose digits belong to whom...I never can tell. Even though his are clearly much larger and darker than mine.
  As hard as he works when he farms or busts bags on his "Friday job" they're still so soft. His nails are always clean and trimmed. I try to keep my hands neat and clean as well, not just for me, but for him. When he holds my hand I want it to be warm and inviting, soft and welcoming. He holds mine as if they're precious gifts made of gold, just like he did the very first time he ever held my hand.
  I used to wear acrylic nails but that got kinda old...expensive, really. I'd rather spend my money on makeup, ya know. ;)  Plus, I was always popping one or two off doing laundry. Ah, housewifery is a dangerous business.
  I like big gaudy rings on my fingers; the bigger and flashier the better. But nothing ever takes the place of my wedding set...those are the most special of all of my rings....and the only real ones. I'm not a materialistic person, I just like to play dress up, I guess. Jordan gets tickled at my rings.
  I have my daddy's hands. If you measure them up against one another they look like carbon copies, only mine are feminine and much smaller than his. Yes, I keep mentioning the size of my hands...they're pretty small, and my fingers are chubby. They still look like baby hands with dimples in place of my knuckles. They get the jobs done that I need to accomplish. A homemaker is nothing without her hands.
  Have you ever looked at your own hands? Not just with your eyes, but have you REALLY looked at your hands?  Have you thought about what all they do for you and help you achieve in your every day life? Hands and fingers. I think we take them for granted. I know I did....until recently.
  It's been almost 4 months since I had my last blip. Early April. May. June. July. Total freedom...............Aug.......<blip>......ust.......here we go 'round the mulberry bush! Oops, I stepped in dog poo. Yep. It had been coming on for several days. I could feel it, but I ignored it and chocked it up to symptoms. Then I kept getting sleepier....my brain foggier.....my face numb....my eye blind.....my hearing muffled........my leg more and more weak and tired....my hand weak....numb.......my foot hanging on the bed at night, seeming lifeless............
  Saturday I woke up unable to put all of my weight on my right leg and I couldn't hold myself up with my right arm or hand. Well, here he was. The beast had again regained his strength and reared his ugly head.
   I hobbled down the hall to the bathroom where Jo was in the shower. (I call Jordan "Jo" sometimes for those who don't know.) I tried so hard to be brave.....I really did. I used the bathroom and could barely pull myself up; I had to hold onto the door in front of me and pull my pants up one side at a time. Still, they're just symptoms, Bran. But after a few minutes of denial, I got a good look at myself in the mirror and realized that there was no denying it. Three months or 3 years, Bran: You've got MS. This thing is with you forever.
   My heart was crumbling into a thousand pieces and I was so broken, well, let's just be frank here, I didn't FEEL like praying or praising God. (I'm not perfect, ya know...I don't have all the answers and sometimes I get a little down about turning into an old woman before my time.) I felt alone. I felt like I'd been betrayed. I got angry and then began to cry uncontrollably as I limped back to the bedroom, leaning against the wall so I wouldn't fall. I didn't want to upset Jordan and I needed some time. I was hurt and I wanted to cuss REAL bad. (But I didn't.)
  "I can't do this. I just can't. I'm tired and I can't anymore.....I just can't." I could hardly breathe my heart was aching so badly, my stomach was in knots and I was calling dinosaurs any minute. Then I heard Him......
  "Yeah....you can. I'm here, I haven't left and I don't plan on it. I'm teaching you. I'm strengthening you. Just have some faith in me, Bran. I've got this."
  Every single morning since this demon of a disease entered and took over my body, and I've been aware of what's going on, I've had to remind myself of that. I look fine, I don't look sick. I don't act sick. People think I'm perfectly normal and when they find out what's really going on they say, "Oh, how brave she is! Look at her faith! She is so optimistic!" Yes, I'm optimistic. Yes, my faith is unshaken, that one is for sure. But I'm not brave at all, friends. Truth is I'm more scared than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. This is not exactly easy.....in fact, it's the hardest thing I've ever been through. Worse than when my great grandmother died, although, part of my heart still grieves for her....it's been 4 years.
  Blips don't promise a visit every day of the week, every week of the month or every month of the year. They also don't promise the opposite. They're not wrapped up in a pretty package with a big red bow and tag reading, "Happy BLIP Day! Open when ready!" though they do come unexpectedly they're not a surprise; they're unwanted.When they arrive, they're right the opposite of a neat little package.
  I've explained what blips entail, but over the past few months I was starting to forget, I guess. I remembered what I went through last year, who could ever forget that! Being a little skittish was putting it lightly about how I felt in May. Initially my blips were coming about once a month or just lasting almost the whole month. So when they ceased, I started to gain some confidence. I even thought remission was in sight, though that can take years....again with the unshaken faith. I still believe God can do what He wants. ;)
  As I said earlier, this blip has been coming on for a couple of weeks, but I've been ignoring it. I'm taking my shots faithfully, I thought. It's nothing, just some symptoms. I'm good. I tried to brush it off when I couldn't make a fist one of those days.
  Saturday was my Nanna's 74th birthday. Mom, Lilli and I were taking her to Cracker Barrel. Oh, how that woman loves her CB! I woke up about 9am. Still in a sleepy stupor I swung my feet over the side of our high king size bed. I scooted until my feet hit the cold hardwood floor. But my right foot didn't feel the tingly cool that my left foot felt....and my right hand didn't clutch the bedspread to keep me from falling. I slid until the left side caught all of me, before my whole body ended up on the floor, instead of just my feet. Even then I was in total denial until I hit the bathroom.
  This is what multiple sclerosis is. This is what I do with it. I open my eyes in the mornings and wonder if I'll be able to feel that floor beneath me. Sometimes I feel like I'm miles above it it's so intimidating. And will the hands that have never failed me in the past catch me if I fall? So this is where leaning on the "unseen hand" comes in...this is where my faith kicks into overdrive.
  I worry (though I'm not supposed to) about what is inside my head. These lesions growing on my brain, eating away at who I am, are they going to destroy me altogether? How in the world can this not kill me? Am I going to end up a crumpled mess? I wonder if my hands will always be able to hold Jordan's.....if they'll be able to touch his face and actually feel him. Will I be able to hold my sweet Lilli's hand and fix her hair today, and what about the next baby? Will my arms be strong enough to carry it?
  I'm afraid of wheelchairs. If people are in them they don't bother me, but an empty one? That's another story. I feel like it's just biding it's time until it can take over my life. I get a little sweaty around empty wheelchairs. My heart races and my stomach turns. When I get really nervous about things my hands actually ache...it's weird, but I've always been like that. The walkers and canes are just as bad. I see myself, in flats (ugh!) pushing a walker with little green tennis balls. Fold it up and sit it up against the wall because when I get up I'm gonna have to have that thing or I'm just gonna have to stay put.
  This is what YOU see in MS, the things YOU worry will happen to me: YOU see me with a cane, walker or wheelchair. But there's so much more that I worry about, so many questions that fly around my ever so slowly deteriorating brain. 
  Am I gonna remember the words to the song I've gotta sing? Can I paint you a picture or an ornament? Will I be able to hear music let alone sing it....because without my hearing I can't sing for my God, the One who gave me this talent that I SO love and NEED to just be able to BREATHE in and out. My voice.......will I get to keep it? I tell my husband I love him, and my child and family and friends with my voice....and my God........I sing to my Father with it.......How do you praise God if your body and voice don't function? Oh, I'd find a way. Sometimes I'll hum and touch my throat with my hand just to feel the vibrations in the incredibility of the voice and its box.
  Will Jordan be okay with reading to me when I can't see anymore? I know he would and when I was diagnosed and he knew all that we could possibly go through he said to me, "I promised you 'in sickness and in health' and I meant it."
  So I threw it out there for him: "What if I have to wear a diaper and YOU have to change it?" He didn't miss a beat, "I love you don't I? You'd do it for me. I'd do anything for you." Now, really, who wants an almost 30 year old baby? This is NOT what he signed up for....but he disagrees. "I signed up for all of it, Brandi. Diapers for babies OR you." Again, he always reminds me of our vows and the promises we made to each other that will never be broken.
  There are so many other aspects to MS. I've kept them to myself until now.  I'm gonna give you all of it; it's painful and scary, but the best part is where the Father's blessings are all in it and my hope and prayer is that you'll see HIM covering the face of the MonSter. So if you don't like "raw" don't finish reading anything with a star. There's my fair warning.
   




 

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dawnville Dollar Days #5

DDDay5: Directions to Dawnville voting precinct: Turn left at the sign reading "Ham Shoot, Saturday @ 11:00 am." There are NO words, friends.

Dawnville Dollar Days #4

DDDay4: (I'm skipping a few)

   A couple of weeks ago I was gracing the Dawnville Dollar, yet again. While in line to purchase my Mayfield's and Milo's with Splenda, I noticed the clerk, we'll call her *Marla* (This IS the great Whitfield CO...and TRUMP is our claim to fame here) and her tattoo........upon her neck. Oh, this was no ordinary tat, friends. This was, you guessed it, a pair of VAMPIRE BITES, blood drain and all! (Cue the Twilight theme.) As I gazed at the artwork on her neck which looked like something Lilli had done with Crayola Magic, my eyes panned up to her makeup...white eyeshadow up to her brows, dark lipstick....yeppers, she was die hard. "Ehem, are those...uh, *vampire bites*, uh, a *REAL* tattoo on your neck?" I asked her. I wasn't making fun of her, I was being serious. I was curious. "Or are they a rub-on?" With every ounce of serious Marla had inside her stumpy Dollar General uniformed body she replied, "Yes. They are." This was so flat and silent I thought for a split second she was a REAL vamp herself. "Neat," I said. "So...are you a Twilight fan?" BECAUSE I *HAD* TO GO THERE.Well, THAT one broke the ice. "Oh, the biggest," she said, still in her very flat voice while scanning my items. Her eyes never broke from mine...and for that matter, neither did her character. I can beat that, I thought and replied with, "I'm having a party for the Eclipse Premiere."  "I saved up $1000.00 and went to a 'conviction'," said Marla. The Dawnville Dollar was silent. Was it the grammatical error or the $1000.00 remark? No one will ever know. MY POINT: Most of you know these are CONVENTIONS....Twilight, Star Wars, Star Trek, what have you, they are not *convicting* at all. But again, this is Dawnville. Marla almost chased me out the door, the line at the register a mile long, still telling me the story of her tattoo and how she got it on Halloween in a Twi-tribute. Again, this was WEEKS ago...my memory is BAD....but somehow, this incident REFUSES to leave me.

Dawnville Dollar Days #3

DDDay3: While driving down the Dawnville Rd.....again....the very same woman who was seen bikini clad sunbathing in the back of her pickup, booty facing Dawnville's finest, was spotted cutting the grass around her mailbox. Literally. With a pair of scissors. No doubt she purchased those from the Dawnville Dollar Store.

Dawnville Dollar Days #2

DDDay2: I just saw another one of Dawnville Dollar Store's finest laying out in the sun....in the bed of her Ford.....feet facing Dawnville Rd......in a bikini.....in all of her sunburned glory....and I mean, **ALL** OF HER SUNBURNED GLORY.

Dawnville Dollar Days #1

DDDAY1: While visiting our neighborhood Dollar Store, I stood in line in front of a young girl wearing INCREDIBLY short shorts. On her *upper* thigh she sported a tattoo of a garter, complete with gun holster and gun. The cashier asked about it, as it only made it about 1/2 way around her drumstick. She explained and then very matter of fact-ly stated, " I'm gonna get it finished all the way around so it won't look tacky."

*Remembering Philippians 4:13 (6/10/10)


Due to the loveliness of MS my memory is ever failing...it's fabulous. Sometimes we laugh hysterically...today, not so much. While saying my morning prayer for Jo and Lil, I was reminded of one of my favorite verses which also happens to be one of my life verses, Philippians 4:13. Nobody EVER forgets this one! It's a staple for southern football games and anyone that's ever attended any sort of church youth function...it's like salt and pepper for Christianity! I sat there in my bed completely blank...."Help Jordan to remember what your word says in Phil. 4:13, Lord.......what it says......oh, what it says.......what........what???? What does it say? Huh? WHAT DOES IT SAY?!" I was racking my brain and I started to panick....then Jordan walked into the bedroom, bustling around because, God love his little pea-pickin' heart, he's always running late. "Jordan....I've got a question." Huffing and puffing due to the bending, searching and running through the house he replied rather quickly but politely, " 'Sup, babe?" "Um...Okay, I know this is gonna sound REALLY stupid, but you know how I forget things sometimes...." I asked. "Yeah....?" I could hear the nerves rattling in his voice. Any mention of MS and its many cohorts and Jordan is sent into a silent rage only Jesus and the angels are privy to. "What's the verse that goes along with Philippians 4:13?" 

TOTAL SILENCE. 

There went that rage against MS. I hid under the bed covers absolutely HUMILIATED....then Jordan's warm encouraging voice chimed in: "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Then he said, "I wanna stop and comfort you but I'm SO late!" I just giggled; I was ok with his words; and that's when I realized that what I'd been praying for all week in a new Bible study had come to fruition: I'd been asking God to help me to remember that through life's toughest times, as much as I love Jordan and Lilli, my parents, extended family, and friends, they can't meet the deepest needs of my heart, ONLY HE CAN. He's the one I count on, HE is where my help comes from. Jordan told me he loved me and gave me as much comfort as he could before he left, but I knew where my ultimate comfort came from this morning and every morning...when I'm unsure if my legs will work or if I'll be able to see, I know that my God is unfailing. My husband and my family love me, no doubt, but my strength is renewed day after day in the One who gave it to me to begin with.

The Mysterious North GA Tater Log (written by Dad...7 years ago)

My daddy....the intellectual, of course. Or, as I call him: Indiana
Jones. "Indy" for short. 

An Opinion by Moe Pritchett


Just the other day my 21 year old son and I were watching some little league baseball at our local recreation center. It was great to see all of these little boys doing the same thing my own son did just 10 or 11 short years ago. I am sure that the memories filled his senses just as they did mine. The only thing not filled were our stomachs as it was well past supper time and the hot dogs and nachos just weren’t up to the task of quenching the appetite of two very adult red necks. My wife’s earlier mention of chicken, beans, and corn bread beckoned to us both, but there was something amiss on the king's menu and my son reached deep into the annals of his culinary mind for the answer -- Tater Logs. Now I am not quite sure of the origins of the tater-log but my suspicions do run deep and as you will read on I will expound to you my reasoning.

I cannot recall my earliest encounter with what I can only assume to be this regional delicacy called the tater-log, as I have long been associated with its unique flavor but I can only suspect that it was in my middle teens that I discovered this giant “French Fry.” I hesitate to group this delectable little tuber with the French fry as I would not want to insult the good people at the Favorite Market stores, but upon first impression as a teen that is what I thought it was. Now, as an educated adult I know and respect the vast difference. Yankees will still peer curiously at our carved spud and call it “a big French fry”, oh but my, ignorance is bliss.

The tater-log, I am sure will never be featured on Emeril LaGasse as a main dish or even an appetizer but that would only be because Emeril has never had the pleasure of walking into a Favorite Market and letting that concocting aroma of lard and potato skins fill his nostrils. It can be quite refreshing. I am not so sure if it is the enticing aroma of TL’s or the mechanic behind me in the line, but tater-logs have a scent that is all too much their own. Made of a combination of quarter sliced , unpeeled Irish Potatoes, flour, butter milk, too much salt, and a sprinkle of black pepper, the long canoe shaped potato has proven to be a lunch staple for hundreds of brick masons, carpet installers, and mechanics in the North Georgia area for 20 years or more. I myself have found that on more than one occasion while deer hunting, that the T.L. has proven to be filling and satisfying as well as affordable. At only .99 cents for a neat dozen even the most spend thrifty sportsman can eat like he was at the finest hunting lodge in the south and I am sure that will be great news for the female financial manager in any deer hunter’s home.

I have never really looked closely at the internal parts of this mysterious gift from the convenience store wizards but I may have been afraid that would border in heresy or even blasphemy, so tonight I decided I must cross the line into the unknown and really look at the internal organs of the Mysterious North Georgia Tater-Log.

The tater-log is not really a log contrary to the name. I have heard some of my hunting buddies question if it was really a tater but I have never had any question whether or not it was a log. It is not a log but it is in fact a tater. To be exact the tater-log is an Irish, or as my aunt Mamie would call it “arsh tater.” After washing the potato it is then quartered, not peeled, rolled in batter, and then deep fried in oil, and I am sure it is the same oil used to deep fry gizzards and livers; if you inspect your box closely I am sure you will find one or the other therin. Now it may or may not be company policy to age these carbohydrate nibblets, at least one half a day, I don’t know but I can tell you this; no matter the time of day, you can always find the hopper full.

Tater-logs can be eaten in a myriad of ways and I am quite sure you have found your own special way of ruminating these little tubers but I enjoy mine right out of the box. Ketchup can be added for the faint of heart or you can grab a side of livers if you need a little more protein. You must accompany a tater log with the required Vienna Sausage as a meat for your dining pleasure and it can be followed with a Little Debbie if your are a true practitioner of dining purity. There are those souls who have purposely demented these meals by adding a Honey Bun , but it is not recommended. And to ensure your dining is complete a true Coca Cola, not diet nor Pepsi, would be the finishing touch befitting a tater log meal ( Coke in a 12 ounce glass bottle is preferred )

The potato is a versatile food and has been prepared in a thousand ways in a thousand countries around the world. It brought Ireland to her knees in the 1840’s yet today is still her number one crop. Over a billion bags are harvested each year in Russia alone and in China nearly that many, yet there is only one place in the world that I know where you can find the truest and best use for the potato; The Mysterious North Georgia Tater Log; a taste Emeril will never enjoy. Bam!

The SAHM and the WM (written about a year and a half ago)

I've noticed, as of late, that a lot of my FB friends are stay at home moms, or as one friend put it, SAHMs. Love that, by the way, Selena. Sometimes we're looked down on because we stay at home. Other times, we're lifted up on a pedestal, paraded through town, given a banquet with the apple gagged pig shebang and then crowned Queen of the Playground! "Vote for the SAHM!" they shout....confetti flying everywhere as we leave a trail of glitter and retreat to our giant feather bed where gorgeous Dwayne 'the Rock' Johnson looking men will fan us and feed us seedless grapes. Yeah...that happens at my house. Here's a look into the life of what SAHMs do. We're not griping, simply educating, and hoping that today, you'll thank your mom for all she did and does for you. After all, it's ALL out of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.......


1. Walk with God daily, which I have to work on constantly! This is most important to being the best wife and mother one can be. Without Him, she can't do it.......and she won't.

2. Love and be loved.

3. Run errands, ie: pick up husband's check, deposit into the bank, go to the grocery store, with a HUGE list, mind you, and make sure everything my family needs to live for the next 2 weeks is on that huge list.

4. Schedule appointments: medicals....and with a kid with allergies, that's not easy. We have, as follows: The Allergist: allergy tests, ie, skin tests and nut challenges, asthma appts. and checkups; Pediatrician: well baby checkups which include shots and sick appts; Dentist: cleanings and praise the Lord, so far, no "problem visits." Parent/teacher conferences...haven't gotten there yet, but will be soon, school meetings; hair appointments. Let's not forget that Mom has to go to the doctor yearly too, and so does Dad.

5. Be the Housekeeper: organizing: can't find anything without Momma organizing the toys and drawers; laundry: make sure the dryer doesn't eat the sock mates, gotta be able to find my daughter's favorite Tinker Bell panties in a hurry and know EXACTLY which ones she's talking about..."The ones, Momma, you know!!" all the while making sure they both have clean clothes for work/school/church/dance/play dates/etc, not to mention washing all of the bed clothes once a week in scalding hot water because Lilli is allergic to dustmites; dishes: gotta eat, scrubbing: counters, tub, toilet...inside and out and around where sometimes the target is missed, sometimes the floor if it's really icky, dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, windows, puke, pee, and poop, make a comfortable home for my family to live in and be proud of.

6. Guardian of the Barbies and "Family Lovehouse"...'nuff said.

7. Peacemaker: there are many wars over who is egging whom on when it comes to Jordan and Lilli...this is a democracy we live in, for now anyway, but my house is under a dictatorship. I, being the dictator...sometimes. We rotate. :)

8. Taxi driver: since I'm still Barbie, we're gonna refer to the job as "chauffeur." Dance, school, Sunday School, Mission Friends, Awanas, children's choir, did I say dance? I drive back and forth from Dalton to Chatsworth, in any given week, at least 2-3 times a day with the exception of Wednesday...just once on Wednesdays. I'm helping to "fuel" the Dawnville economy. You're welcome, B. Hussein Obama.

9. Giver of the best kisses, hugs and unconditional love to Jordan and Lilli that any human possibly can.

10. Pets: gotta eat or they will die, henceforth, Lilli will "just die, Mommy."

11. Meds: this is tricky. Moms have to know dosages, when, where and what NOT to mix this or that with lest their child be rushed to the emergency room. Seriously, Moms hold everyone's lives in their hands; this is just one of our missions from God. Ok...Lil has once daily Singulair, one puff daily Symbicort, one dose daily Zyrtec. Again, gotta keep up with the dosages for that. Always keep the Benadryl and Epi-Pen Jr. on hand for allergic reaction emergencies, not to mention the eye drops and separate Elidel from Protopic bc Elidel is facial and Protopic is NOT and will cause scarring.

12. Where: Because of Lil's allergies to nuts we have to avoid certain restaurants. I have to keep a mental list of this in order to keep her out of harm's way.

13. Clothes/shoes: what sizes do your family members wear?

14. Home Remedies/First Aide: burns, cuts/scrapes, bloody nose, colds, puking, diarrhea, headache, soar throat, cough-asthmatic or due to cold, fever...gotta know how to take the temp....BOTH ways, bug bites/stings, CPR, Heimlich, Epi-Pen Jr. usage, and Crisco cures any form of eczema.

15. Don't lose anything!!!: This one speaks for itself. Moms have to keep up with the bills so Dad can pay them. We also have to keep up with permission slips, the appointments, homework that's due-just til they get old enough to be responsible for themselves, invitations, our keys, and our sanity.

16. Establish a routine/schedule: a household isn't run anarchist style. There have to be rules and regulations, discipline and responsibility on each individual's part. We have bedtime for a reason...well, for a few reasons. Kids need sleep and so does Mom....Mom also needs quality time with her man. <3

17. The Checklist: I carry a mental checklist with me every time I leave the door....and I usually forget and have to go back, but at least I eventually remembered. What's on my List?
Meds:
Epi-Pen Jr.
Benadryl
eydrops
rescue inhaler
Pocket Book/Purse
Lilli's bookbag, if needed
dance clothes/shoes, if needed
KEYS

18. Quality time with children: Just love them and play with them!

19. Quality time with THE MAN: There's a plethora of definitions for "quality time with your man"......and they ALL fit into this category. Not only do children learn from Mom in everyday activities/jobs, but they learn how to be a spouse from Mom, too. It's important to be a good "wife" role model for your daughter AND sons. It's equally as important to give your man the love and respect he deserves. he works hard to provide and keep you happy...he loves you. Love him back, in all the ways a wife can love her husband: spritually, mentally, emotionally, and of course, physically. <3

20. Eat/Healthy Food: Moms make sure you eat....not just animal crackers, goldfish and juice. Gotta have your meat and 3 AND your fruits, breads, milk, whole wheats....Do you know just how regimented your diet is because your momma loves you and doesn't want you to have high blood pressure? We have our mental list of what you've had all day long and that's how we know what to prepare for supper. Did you really think that Momma pulled the dinner menu out of her butt? Kids can't have too much sugar, they'll get fat, and let's not forget the hyper factor. They can't have too much bread or they'll stop up, and when they blow....you guessed it, WE clean it up. Gotta have their protein or their iron gets low and they get too tired. Gotta have carbs or they can't concentrate; gotta have vitamins so they can grow; gotta have the calcium for strong bones...we make sure you get all of this, every day.....and THREE times a day. Until kids are old enough to take care of themselves, to an extent, who fixes the food? YO MOMMA

21. Wake Up Call: You know as well as the rest of us that if Momma/Wifey didn't wake you up in the mornings, you'd never make it to work, school, church, or any other function on time. We are the Keeper of the Mornings, the Drill Sargeant of Alarms, the Military Bugle Call, and there is NO snooze button provided. Mess with us, and we'll squirt you with a water pistol and pull you out of the bed by your ankles.

22. Shoulder Lean: Mommas are great sounding boards. We listen and give advice, but only when advice is needed...you can cry on us, and please do. We're strong towers that aren't shaken by raging winds. We're here for comfort, shelter, and help at all times.

23. Jesus: We bring Him to you as soon as you are conceived and as soon as you leave the comfort of our womb to join this cold dark world. Every mom wants their child to be the best they can be for Jesus. Moms have a ministry...to go into the world and preach the Gospel. That includes their families. We are witnesses to our husbands and children. THEY are our ministry.

24. Break Time: After all of this, Moms need breaks....away from the kids, away from the husband....and it's OK to take them. But the whole time we're taking our break, be it at the beauty shop, in the tub, at a movie, with our girlfriends, shopping, or whatever, OUR FAMILY is what is at the forefront of our minds.

25. Working Moms: They do it ALL...EVERYTHING above AND a job outside of the home. My mother was a working mom, and we should give due thanks and praises to these women. Without some of them, we wouldn't have teachers, doctors, lawyers, nurses who care for you when you have a booboo and your own mom isnt available or can't help what ails you, secretaries who answer your annoying questions when you call for their bosses, judges, politicians, community workers, military women, etc...they do it ALL.

Moms and wives are super heroes whether you like to think so or not, whether you believe in that kind of thing or not. We have the power to heal a wound with one kiss and somehow get you to clean your room with the promise of a new toy or fun place to visit. We rule with an iron fist, yet our hands are as delicate and loving as rose petals when our child or husband is hurt, sick, tired, or stressed. We love with all of our hearts, sometimes forgetting our own needs....A LOT OF TIMES forgetting our own needs. But don't feel sorry for us. We made this choice and we don't regret it. Love IS a choice and being a wife and mother is love. What we sacrifice for our families is out of love and devotion to the wonderful blessings God has given us in them.

I'm certainly not a perfect wife and mother. I'm always losing my keys and sometimes I get in bad moods. Who doesn't? I don't love to clean my house everyday and sometimes I'm really tired...sometimes I need a break! But when I wake up in the morning and roll over to see my beautiful, wonderful, loving, and caring husband, then I hear my Lilli yawn and yell for me, I can't think of anything that would make me happier than to serve my Savior AND them!

You may look at this list, and I know I'm missing quite a few points, and think, "Good grief, how do they do it?" By the grace of God, friend! And for those of you who are saying, "Good grief, that's nothing!"...I'm praying for you. You may work 40 hours a week, but we work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Our job never ends and we don't get vacations. But that's ok, because we like.

Motherhood and being a wife is a calling. And what would life be like if we weren't heeding to our call?
Psalm 31
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