Sunday, April 30, 2017

Noiseless, Patient Spiders

Seems like lately Bart's sermons have been so good that I am writing a blog post about them every Monday!  Yesterday he talked bout love -- and how we are all connected.

He started by reading a Walt Whitman poem that my friend Michelle shared with me yesterday called a noiseless, patient spider.

A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d—till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

I know that is pretty heavy stuff, but it is good.   Our souls, like a spider, are casting out filaments hoping that they will reach others to make a connection.

He also read this quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.:
 “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be ... “ 
I'm not sure that explaining those two things further would make them more meaningful.  In fact, I think they would have less than an impact if explained.

So read them again :-) 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saturday Summary

Wow.  It has been a week.   I can't and won't go into detail about work, but it was sure challenging.

Home life has been pretty stable.  Tony is still living with Jimmy and Rand but he got a job at Culver's and starts Monday.  We are working on a permanent housing situation for him.  Bart's neck is getting better by the day.    Salinda's week has been fine other than car trouble and Wilson continues to go to work regularly without complaining.

 Dominyk is in Brookneal this weekend and worked yesterday.  He will work again Monday and Tuesday and then comes back for his last class this week.  Then he will be moving up to Brookneal and plans to spend most of his summer up there in the apartment.   We'll see how that goes.

Probably the highlight of my week is that I wrote a couple of blog posts that I thought were pretty good.   I seldom think that they are anything special, but I thought they were borderline inspired.  If you missed them, check them out.    Monday I referred to Bart's sermon Sunday about Joy    Wednesday I tackled the topic of what it means to be wrecked.    And yesterday, I asked the question Why do we keep taking it back? when we give things to God.

It seems like this has been a very very long week, but really there isn't much to report!   Hope your week was more interesting but in a good way :-)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Why do I keep taking it back?

Are you like me?  Do you give things to God and then take them back?  My mother and I have been talking about this being an issue for her all of her life and she is about to be 88.   "Relinquish" is her favorite word.  And yet it is so hard to do.

Remembering that God is God and I am not seems to be a recurring theme.   Here are some ways that we as humans can forget that God is God.

1)  We try to control things.  Our minds spin from one thing to another in an attempt to make things happen the way that WE think they should happen.  We manipulate and position ourselves and others to make things turn out a certain way.

2)  We think we know best.   Without consulting God we decide what the best thing is for us and we want that ... we seek that ... we do everything we can to make it happen (see #1).    The problem is that we want what is easiest, what is comfortable, what causes us the least amount of pain.  But the reality is that God has one goal -- and that is to make us like Him.  And that seldom happens when everything is easy, comfortable and pain free.

3)  We worry about the future.   We forget that God knows the end from the beginning and that He can see not only our present but the future as if it was the past.  

4)  We tell him that we trust Him, but we act like we don't.   Read that again.

Putting things in God's hands and then taking them back is what we do as humans.  But it is my prayer that as we all mature we will leave things in His hands more often than not.

This song speaks directly to this so I need to share.  It's brought me to tears this morning.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Here Comes the Sun!!

Thanks to those of you who have sent encouraging texts and emails.  As you can tell, I use my own life as a frame of reference when I blog.  Not because I want to make it all about me, but because on any given day, there is someone out there who is right where I am and can be helped our encouraged by my words.

Yesterday I posted the above picture on Facebook and wrote "After two days of cold and rain I walked outside to birds chirping loudly, blinding sun, and soothing warmth. God's metaphor."    

Since the day before it looked like this it was especially meaningful.

Just like I have been blogging the past few days about how God brings us through things to the other side and joy comes after suffering, the sun comes after the rain.

Just thought you'd like to know.  The sun does come back.  

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


What wrecks you?  What takes you to a place where your biggest emotions are completely present?  What takes you to the very end of yourself and your strength until you have no words?

I read this awesome blog post called Foster Care Will Wreck You this morning that a friend put on my Facebook timeline.  I had never seen the blog before but the article is well worth the read.

It got me thinking about the word wrecked.  Wrecked is different than ruined ... and being wrecked, in the light of the gospel, is not a bad thing.

I have several friends and some coworkers who are going through some really tough stuff right now.  I guess we have been too.   I know that they feel wrecked, like we did last week at our house.

You know the feeling -- it is that "sit and stare into space for a very long time because I have no idea what to do" place.  Those "there are no easy answers and this seems impossible" thoughts rushing through our minds.  Emotions scream "I can't take this any longer.  Please make it stop" and our bodies physically react to the stress.  We find tears just behind our eyelids wanting to escape for days at a time.   We can't see the answers and we know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that we cannot in our own strength handle our present circumstances.

But that is where being wrecked leads Christians to a new place.  There's a line in an old song that says, "When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, the Father's full giving has only begun."

Because, my friends, there is a timeless truth that none of us want to embrace, but it is true regardless.

If we never get wrecked we will never be rescued.  And during the times when God steps in to rescue us we experience new levels of joy and blessing that can never come without the wreck.  It also gives us the ability to recognize when others are wrecked and step in to help them as well.

I love the line in the blog post that I linked above that says.

"because your heart has already been shattered into pieces, it has made it easier to share."

So if something is wrecking you today realize that God is working.  Good things will come of this, even if you can't see it now.

If you're in a good place, listening to this song may not have an impact on you today.  But if you are in the process of being wrecked as God prepares for your rescue, it will bring you to tears.  It did me today.

Monday, April 24, 2017


Yesterday's sermon was on joy.  It's kinda funny because there was hardly anyone there to hear it.  Bart was preaching to the smallest number of people I think we've ever seen at this church since we moved here and they looked pretty glum.   But, if you've read my weekly summary, you know that we were pretty glum too.

The thing about joy is that it isn't how we envision it most of the time.  I think we see Joy as skipping through the daisies happy, but it isn't always like that.  Sometimes joy, like in the movie Inside Out, is in the background fighting fiercely with fear, anger, sadness and disgust.   Sometimes joy is at the forefront of our emotions, but sometimes it isn't.  Sometimes we have to go through the hard times in order for joy to prevail and, when it does, be even more meaningful.   In 1st Peter we are reminded:  
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
or, as it says in the message:
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.
So Bart's point yesterday, and mine this morning, is that there can be joy in the midst of all of life.   I don't know that I have ever quoted him before in my blog, but John Calvin said:
"Christians rejoice even while they truly sorrow - - because their rejoicing is in the hope of heaven....While joy overcomes sorrow, it does not put an end to it." 
So today, even when I don't feel like joy is winning, I know that joy will prevail.   We have been promised this -- that when we share in His suffering, we will also share in His joy.  

Looking back on my life I have realized that without the pain of suffering, joy is meaningless.  And I've also learned that even in the midst of all of the stuff that life throws at me, joy is just around the corner.   It comes in the morning after a long hard night.  Always.

And it will this time too.

Saturday Summary on Monday

This weekend I just crashed.  I had zero emotional energy.   Maybe it's because my week was hard.  I won't go into details about work, though there were some things that happened in that context, but life at home has been difficult.

First, I had to figure out what to do with Tony who got kicked out of job corps.  I can't even go into details here, but the combination of Job Corps doing EXACTLY the opposite of what I begged them to do, Tony is in Minnesota temporarily living with Rand and Jimmy.  I have some awesome friends that are trying to help me figure this out, but meanwhile there is a lot of stress for me.

In the process of deciding that he could not come home, I asked the other children who live here and they all voted no because of the stress he causes the family system.  They are not wrong, but it seems that since then they have gotten worse in regards to helping around the house.  Bart and I are in physical pain (though Bart's is decreasing by the day) but the kids here seem to be helping with housework less than they ever have.  They all managed to sleep through church yesterday.   It's discouraging.

Salinda did not get the job she applied for so she has been fairly depressed and the situation with Tony had Bart very discouraged for a few days.

We also have some very good friends going through a very hard time right now and I have been trying to support them in my own weird ways.  

So this is a week I don't ever want to repeat, but I figured for those of you who check for a summary you should get one.

There's your summary.  :-)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

If I title this post "Brain Neurobiology" will you even read it?

How much do you know about brain neurobiology?  Some of us who have adopted kids from hard places are learning way more about it than we want to know.   On Tuesday, Brenda Benning from Minnesota was here to train my staff about attachment disorder and it had to have been God's timing to help me personally.  Because that night and all day the next day, the amygdalas of several people in our family were hijacked.  If you are interested in knowing all about what that means, I need to point you to this blog post that I wrote over a year ago.

If you don't have time to read the post on the amygdala hijack, let me explain in very simple terms so that I can tell you about life in my world.   The limbic system of our brains is basically the emotional center of who we are and is responsible for forming memories.  Memories, as you may have figured out, are triggered by our senses and that input comes directly into our limbic system and causes an INVOLUNTARY emotional reaction.

Why is this important?  In being caregivers to children who come into our lives at an older age it matters because we see crazy behaviors and have no idea where they are coming from.  A great example that Brenda gave in her presentation was a child, walking through a department store, with their caregiver.   Suddenly the child is completely dysregulated for "no reason."   Except that, at the counter she just walked by, the cologne that she smells is exactly what the uncle who sexually abused her wore every day.    That child has NO IDEA why she is suddenly freaking out and can't control or stop herself.

It is also important because we have it happen to us all the time.  A situation that is similar to another situation that was traumatic brings it all back.  A song, a smell, a place, even another person can bring back memories that are either frightening, painful, or stressful.     Those sensory inputs are called trauma triggers.   And they come at us all the time.

When the emotional part of our brains receive input that awakens a negative emotional memory -- we head into a "flight, fight or freeze" mode.  Our cognitive brain shuts down and we have to recover and regulate ourselves before we can make any rational decisions.

The trick is knowing your body well enough to know when you have been "triggered."  I know exactly what happens to me.   My extremities get cold, I feel nauseous and my heart rate goes up.   This can happen to me multiple times a week or even a day depending on what is going on in my world (I have experienced a LOT of trauma and secondary trauma in raising my kids and working in child welfare).

There are many times when I am not even recognizing what has happened that has triggered an emotional memory -- but I do know that I am experiencing those physical symptoms and that I need to call it for what it is, breathe deeply, and work my way through it.  I also know that I should NOT have emotionally laden conversations, respond to an email, or make a decision during a time when my body feels that way.

Wow, that was a long explanation to what I'm trying to tell you about yesterday.  So I came home after a great lunch with Brenda to discover a situation that would take a lot of paragraphs to explain.   It involves Tony being kicked out of Job Corp, us not allowing him to come here, and him convincing them to send him near Bart's family, which we had BEGGED them not to do.     We ended up resolving it by asking a couple of his brothers to take him in for a week in the Cities so that he doesn't end up near people who should not have to deal with him, but I have a short window to find him some stability.  He won't last at Jimmy and Rand for long. (Ideas welcome).

I cannot even begin to describe the layers of trauma that are associated with this situation for Bart, for me and for the other kids here who lived with him for 7 months last year.  But having just been reminded of all of this brain stuff, I was at least able to remain calm when others were not.   I'm grateful for that, because typically I am NOT the calmest person in this house.  :-)

If you have not heard about any of this stuff, it's fascinating.  There are a ton of resources out there about trauma and how it affects the brain   Check out Bruce Perry or the work of Karen Purvis.  Transformational stuff.

I wasn't intending to write all that, so if it was for you -- I'd love to hear about it!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Do Overs

Over the twelve years that I have blogged, I have tried to be realistic and authentic.  I have tried to "tell it like it is" in regards to my children, their issues, and the way that I parented.   I still aim to do that, but as I get older it gets more difficult.

Lately I have been doing a lot of learning about trauma, the way it affects the brain, and how to parent kids with that history.   Yesterday, my friend Brenda Benning from Minnesota, was here teaching my staff about Reactive Attachment Disorder and what happens when that is part of the mix for a traumatized child.

Last night we had to make the decision to not let our son, who apparently is being discharged from Job Corp, come home because his presence in our home causes so much chaos and stress.   It was a very hard decision and Bart and I are very sad.

Those things combined have led me to a land that I wouldn't necessarily call regret, because I don't believe in wasted emotion -- but there certainly is a level of grief that we didn't have the tools that are available now.   The way I parented  (I say I instead of we, because Bart was intuitively better at doing the right thing than I) was not what some of my kids needed.   I know it is impossible, but I sometimes wonder how it would turn out if I could have a do-over.

But also over the twelve years that I have blogged, I have tried to be hopeful and positive and faithful to what I believe God is saying to all of us.  I've also hoped that my stories are once that you can relate to and find things in your own life and that my authenticity can help you figure things out, ending up at a place of hope and believing God to keep His promises.

I'm sure that you can name a situation in your life that you would like to do over.  Whatever that is, I want to encourage you that what you learned in that situation was part of God's plan to form you and change you.  We are a constant work on in progress.

Two things have been a big encouragement to me in the midst of all this.  One of them is Bart's sermon illustration on Easter.  He closed with this illustration:

When the house lights dimmed and the piano concert was about to begin, a mother returned to her seat and discovered that her child was missing.Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage.  In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out "Twinkle,Twinkle Little Star."  At that moment, the great piano master Ivan Paderewski made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy's ear, "Don't quit.  Keep playing.  Don't stop."  Then, leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obbligato.  Together, the old master and the young novice transformed what could have been a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was  so mesmerized that they couldn't recall what else the great master played that night. Only the classic," Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." 

If you want to check out the commercial based on this story it's awesome -- just click here.

Bart concluded his sermon with the words, I hope that you can hear God's whisper in your ear.  "Don't quit.  Keep playing.  Don't stop."    Those words have been in my head hourly this week as I picture my mediocre efforts as those piano notes but also picture God's around me turning my feeble attempts into a masterpiece.

The second is this song because I could have written the lyrics.  No matter how old I get and no matter how hopeful and positive I try to be, I still have those times when I don't FEEL like an overcomer.

I trust that this song will help you as much as it has me this week:

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What Do You Wish For?

One of my favorite jokes as a kid goes like this:

There was a man walking down a beach and he saw a bottle.  He picked it up and rubbed it and a genie came out.   She said to him, "You can have three wishes!"  He thought carefully and decided to test and see if it worked.  First, he said, I'd like to have a million dollars.  Instantly he was surrounded by stacks of bills.   Desperately looking around at his situation, realizing he was on the beach in the middle of nowhere, he wished for a Maserati Gran Turismo Convertible (after all, he needed to drive the $1,000,000 in bills off the beach in style).   Sure enough it appeared right there on the beach.  He then had so many ideas for his third wish that he couldn't make a decision so he asked the genie if he could save it.   She said, sure, as soon as you're ready, say it out loud and your wish will come true.

He piles the bills into the Maserati, let the top down, turned the key and off he went down the road.  He was so elated he felt like singing, so he began singing the song that had been stuck in his head all day.  "Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener......"

If you had one wish, or one request that you knew was going to be granted, what would it be.  I thought about this of and on for several hours the other day.  My first thought was a new, healthy 25 year old body.  (Wouldn't want to go any younger, because I would want my brain fully developed).  Then I thought about wishing that all of my children were financially and emotionally independent, but then that took me to the idea of it I wished to be a billionaire it wouldn't matter if they were.  But both of those wishes seemed a bit shallow.

The reason I had been asking myself that question because I was reading 1st Kings 3.  Verse 5 says:
  "At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon replies in verse 9:
"... give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong."
And God's Response (in the Message... I like the way it reads here):
God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon’s response. And God said to him, “Because you have asked for this and haven’t grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I’ll give you what you’ve asked for—I’m giving you a wise and mature heart. There’s never been one like you before; and there’ll be no one after. As a bonus, I’m giving you both the wealth and glory you didn’t ask for—there’s not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark."
That whole interchange is amazing.  God says, "What do you want?"  Solomon basically says, "I want the tools I need to serve you better and lead your people."  And God says, "Done.  Plus I'll give you all those things that you didn't ask for too!"

It is my prayer that my number one request of God is for wisdom to serve Him well.

The whole interchange reminds me of something that Jesus said in Matthew 6:33:
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
That's my plan.  I hope it's yours as well.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Saturday Summary for April 15th.

Well... it has been a week.  I am having a hard time getting going this morning and it's been an exhausting week.  At least it's not been exhausting because of major drama though so for that I am grateful.

One of the reasons it has been tiring is that I decided to commute every day rather than spend a couple nights up in Brookneal which is usually what I do.  I didn't want Bart to be here alone trying to watch the grandchildren when he couldn't lift them and for the first part of the week he still needed help getting socks and shoes on, etc.

But commenting every day meant that twice this week I spent 3 hours on the road, making for very long days.  I'm not complaining about the drive though because it is SPRING in Virginia and gorgeous.  There is one spot coming up 29 where I literally gasp at the beauty every time I drive through there.

Bart is healing nicely.  He is so happy to be pain free in his arm and neck -- first time in about 2 and a half years.  He still has post-surgical discomfort, but he is getting closer to being completely well than he has been in a long time.  That makes me happy for him.

I scheduled a steroid injection for my back on May 4th.  I can't imagine a life free of back pain, and I'm not sure this will do the trick, but it's to the point that doing the dishes takes over an hour because I can't stand longer than 3 minutes.  (Translate -- I seldom clean the kitchen).  Since I can't exercise, I can't take weight off very easily, thus more back pain.  Vicious cycle).

Other news this week:  Dominyk's truck broke down which caused great stress and turbulence, but I was very proud of him for fixing it himself.

Salinda heard back from the prison where she applied and they are wanting to run her background checks so we are hoping this means they are going to hire her.

I tried to do our taxes by myself yesterday and it was an epic fail.  I emailed our accountant to file and extension so that she can do them again.

Carlos starts speech therapy Monday.  He had an evaluation and it has been determined that he should have some assistance there.  We are hoping it helps.  

Gabby remains awesome.  Helpful, pleasant, fun, polite.   She's an amazing kid.

We are making huge progress at work towards doing something REALLY cool, but I can't announce it until it's official.  Today I am working on a very important presentation that I will give on Tuesday that may take us where we need to be.  I'm also going to watch a baseball game on TV.  Long story.

I'm still bullet journaling but I've gotten really thrown off in April.  Wish I could report differently.  It's still useful but I'm not using it to it's full capacity and thus feeling off.

Wow, I feel like I'm blogging the way I used to blog back in the day.  Just for  the fun of it, I found a cute little post from over 10 years ago ....   This is the way my blog used to be.

Check it out here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Those Crazy Emotions

Do you have a situation in your personal life or at church that troubles you?  Or maybe even at work?  One day you are SURE that God has told you to do something, or that you have recovered from a past hurt and forgiven, and suddenly the enemy rears his ugly head.   Doubt, indecision, anger, anxiety all come crushing in and you wonder if you’ve made any progress at all.  Or maybe you can’t even put a finger on why you are feeling anxious or stressed, but you can’t shake it.   I’ve been there for sure!

Yesterday I listened to a leadership tips video that talked about the ambivalent feelings that happen during a transition.   He mentioned that during any good process of change you have days where you feel the adrenaline of the new, and then there are days when there is self-doubt and questioning about everything.  I have certainly had those feelings during the past few months. 

A couple of the keys that I have found is that my “Deep Work Wednesdays” often turn into “Frantic Freakout Fridays” where my head is spinning about how to implement the ideas and then I go until I drop.   I’ve never been great at pacing myself, so I think maybe God is trying to help me learn the discipline of being deliberate.  

There is a new song out by Mercy Me that talks about times when emotions run crazy.   I won’t tell you any more, cuz I want you to listen to it!  Enjoy!  

Monday, April 10, 2017

I'm Going to Bless you!

"Is there anything we can do?"   Those are such great words!  We have heard them so many times during Bart's hospitalization and surgery.   I have realized that we should say them more and do more.  Not just in times of hospitalization.

But I almost always said no.  But there were others who didn't ask.  They just said, "We are going to bring you dinner at such and such a time."

Let me tell you this -- I could get used to this.   Having dinner delivered warm at supper time is AWESOME.   The food has been delicious and there is virtually no clean up.   I'm hooked.  Trying to figure out a way to make this last a long time :-)

It also got me to thinking that maybe we shouldn't wait until someone is sick or someone dies to do stuff like this.   I was looking over our lives and realizing that there were times that were tougher than these -- but because nobody was sick or dying, nobody thought to reach out.   But then again, people probably didn't know.... It goes back to us not being authentic in sharing our needs with others. 

So, at the risk of forgetting someone, THANK YOU to Margaret Milam, Martha Jo Hodges, Sam Newell, Michelle Larking, Dave and Nikki Parish, Charley and Carol Majors for bringing us meals this week.  And thanks to Joyce and Tom Underwood and Cathy Hawkins who have said they are bringing some soon.

You are a blessing!

I'm thinking that maybe, out of the blue sometime, I'm just going to text someone and say, "Bart and I are bringing dinner."   Not because they are sick or in the hospital, not because somebody died, because maybe they're just having a hard day and nobody knows.

We're Being Summoned

Jury Duty anyone?  It seems that the word summoned is now only used in reference to court.  Now, I'm not being summoned and have only been once, but being married to a pastor in a small town got me off the hook.

But the word summoned can be used in other contexts.  Yesterday this word was sung during the story of the life of Christ by he children at our church (including my beloved granddaughter who represented La Raza well (sorry, inside joke) by standing very still while the boys around her weren't.

During the section of the story where Jesus calls His disciples, they sang this song.  I think that it is a song that is so appropriate for our lives...for all Christians really... but especially for foster and adoptive parents . I've bolded the lines that really speak to me.
Will you come and follow me if I but call your name.  Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?  Will you let my love be shown?   Will you let my name be known?  Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me? 
Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?  Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?  Will you risk the hostile stare should your life attract or scare?  Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me? 
Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?  Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?  Will you kiss the leper clean and do such as this unseen, and admit to what I mean in you and you in me? 
Will you love the “you” you hide if I but call your name?  Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?  Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,  Through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me? 
Lord your summons echoes true when you but call my name.  Let me turn and follow you and never be the same  .In Your company I’ll go where Your love and footsteps show.  Thus I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.
What great words to start a Monday.....

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Sunday Summary

Wow.... This has been a crazy week.    It seems like a year ago that I did the last weekend summary email.  But no, it has only been 8 days.  It's kind of a blur but I'll see what I can do in recounting it for you.

Monday I drove up to Lynchburg for a couple meetings and MY orthopedic appointment about my back.  Found out that I have a slightly herniated disk and a lot of arthritis in my back.  She is suggesting a steroid injection.  So I will be scheduling that tomorrow.  My back has hurt since 1989 and it has gotten worse instead of better to the point that I can do very little that requires standing or walking.  My life has become all about avoiding pain and it's really no way to live.  So I'm hoping that the shot will at least allow me to have relief enough to make some lifestyle changes.

Tuesday I worked in the morning and then we left to head to Bart's surgery.  It was scheduled to start at 3:30 with a 1:30 checkin.   That's not quite how it went.  We were 15 minutes early.... and so we were shuffled around the hospital signing stuff and getting Bart prepped for surgery.  He finally was rolled back into surgery around 4:30!  The doctor had said a 90 minute surgery, but at 4:30 he told me 2 and a half hours.  So around 7 I started to panic.

Fortunately I had suggested that my friend/coworker come have our weekly meeting at the hospital.  Mary Beth was awesome as we waiting until 8 to hear that he was finally done.  She "held the emotional space for me" (whatever that means) and I survived.  I also had a severe other friends texting me which helped time go buy faster.  It was almost 10 before he was settled in his room.

That night was a long one.  The bed was broken so Bart had to stay in one position.  His oxygen thingy was loose so it kept beeping.  The "couch" aka rock that I  was supposed to sleep on was awful, but we made it through the night.  The next day I was exhausted and Bart was not that coherent so that is a blur.  We were waiting for a "mid-afternoon visit" from the Dr. that didn't happen until 7:15.   It was supposed to be news of the discharge, but instead it was "you need to stay another night."

Since I had nothing with me and Bart said he'd be fine without me, I decided to drive to Brookneal and spend the night in my apartment there.  I slept so well!  Was back at the hospital by 8 a.m. and Bart had already been told he would be leaving soon.  We were discharged around 11 and home by 1.

I then began playing "nurse" and you can imagine how well that went.  I think I did better than Bart anticipated, but there were still times when it wasn't pretty.

Friday I went to an all day training which worked out fine... We paid Dominyk to assist Bart and to leave him alone.... so they made it through that day.

By yesterday Bart was ready to go for a little drive and he thinks by tomorrow he will be able to go to work for a little while, but he is laying low today.

Other news at the Fletchers:   John had his court hearing.  It was rescheduled for the 17th and he has a bed at MN Adult and Teen Challenge if they can get court over with.

Wilson worked a lot this week and poor thing was so tired on Friday night he laid down on the couch and fell asleep -- Olive Garden outfit, apron, and all and stayed there until morning.

Salinda had her interview at the prison.  Please pray that she gets the job.

I'm still excited about things at work, but feeling a bit disjointed right now.

Not sure that anyone cares about any of the above, but I'm now finding that my blog is a great history of our family that is searchable... .what blogs were intended for -- web logs.  Get it?   Many times when I am trying to remember an event or something funny that happened or a picture, I can search here.

So when I am thinking about Bart's neck surgery three years from now and wonder how it went.... this post is here :-)

Tuesday, April 04, 2017


The day has come for Bart's neck surgery.  We will be glad to have it behind us.   There's always stress caused by surgery -- the idea of someone you love being unconscious is unnerving.  And there's also that thing where the anesthesiologist has to remind you of the possible complications including death.   That's always fun.

I was thinking today of how much we pray for each other when we are in need of physical healing.  For some reason, this seems to be an acceptable prayer request.  "Can you please pray for so and so?  He's having surgery today" would be something that most of us feel comfortable doing.   But physical healing isn't the only thing out there.

I've often wondered what it would look like to be in a place where things like this could be said.

  • Please pray for my son who is in jail right now.  He's supposed to having court soon and is hoping to get into Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge as an alternative to prison; or
  • Please pray for my son who is begging to come home after Job Corps, but who cannot live with us because of his mental health issues; or
  • Please pray for my daughter today as she has to file for child support for her youngest child.
Those three things are all true in our family today.   But I would not feel comfortable having those things on the prayer chain at church or putting those as prayer requests in the bulletin or even mentioning them to many of my acquaintances.

The reality is that sometimes physical healing is  the simplest kind of healing that we ask for.   Emotional healing, spiritual healing, and psychological healing is way more difficult and can take a lot longer.

I wonder if we could be more open about the other kinds of healing that are needed and if more people prayed about those things, if we would see results?  Or feel more supported?  Or ... the possibilities are endless.  

Today I'm reminding myself that yes, I will pray for healing for Bart's neck, but that I need to pray more about other kinds of  healing that my friends and family need that I know that are more complex.   

Because Jesus is the healer -- not just of our bodies, but our hearts, souls, and minds as well.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Hmmm.... What Should I Do Today

Do you like lists?  You probably can tell that I love them.  I like writing down what I need to do and then having the satisfaction of crossing each of those things off the list one by one.

Yesterday in early service, our little choir sang the song "Grace Alone."  I was inspired by two thoughts:

1)  Everything good that we do is by God's grace.  We are alive by His grace.   We are given our circumstances and our families and our jobs by that same grace.  And grace is what compels us to do the good things we do for others all day long.

2)  We have a standing daily to-do list:
  • Make promises.
  • Pray.
  • Take steps of faith.
  • Make a difference. 
  • Climb mountains.
  • Shine hope.
  • Leave blessings behind.
  • Reach souls.
  • Teach.
  • Share His peace.
  • Say loving words.
  • Wipe away tears.
  • Turn sorrow to praise.  

Not a bad list for today.   As we do these things, let's realize that it's all because of God's grace.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Today's Sermon Illustration

This morning Bart spoke from Luke 14 about the Great Banquet.   And he told the story of what happened to our family way back in Thanksgiving of 2005.

I realized he left out a few things this morning, so I went back to my blog to read what I wrote.  It remains a powerful story that still brings tears to my eyes.  I wrote this on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving:
Bart came home from our ecumenical service with news that one of the local legends, a 40ish mentally ill man in our community approached Bart directly at church last night with a question. A little background: he had lived with his mother all his life and then a couple years ago she died. He has a county social worker and if he is on his medications he is doing fairly well. When he gets off them, he forgets to bathe and has all kinds of interesting behaviors. Right now he seems to be in a pretty good place, but he still has interesting behaviors.    
Apparently, in front of the other pastors before church last night, this man asked Bart if he could come to our house for Thanksgiving Dinner. He said, “if you are going to be here, could I eat dinner with your family? I’m so lonely and I don’t have anywhere to go.”
Bart told him he would talk to me, so when he got home Bart told me the story. Bart had preached from Matthew 25 on Sunday, one of our favorite passages. Bart shrugged his shoulders after telling me the story and then said, “Jesus has asked if He can have dinner with us tomorrow.” 
Tears came because yes, this is indeed the case. This man would definitely be referred to as “the least of these.” And tears also came because I married a man who so completely shares my passion for reaching out to the least, the lost, and the left out. And tears came because he is so able to clearly see this truth  And because we will be very stressed out worrying about how our kids will respond.  And because it will involve more pressure for him in preparing the meal.  But he is still said yes.
And then I wrote these words the next day, after we had finished our Thanksgiving dinner.
I was so incredibly proud of all my kids today. They were appropriate at the meal and treated our guest with respect. They expressed to him that they were glad he could be with us. They used all the manners they had and really did well. And our guest was so very very grateful. Said thank you at least five or six times before the meal, another 10 during the meal and four or five more times on the way home. He even called an hour later to say thank you again.   He showed our kids what it means to be grateful.
This was probably the calmest and best Thanksgiving Dinner we’ve ever had. 
Guess good things happen when Jesus comes to dinner. 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Saturday Summary

Since I didn't write my Saturday Summary until Tuesday last week it seems like it's been a short week!

Here's the latest:

Wilson started his job. He has to dress in all black and he looks super cute.  He worked Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and seems to be doing well.

Bart's surgery is Tuesday.  It all happened super fast.   We went to his pre-op appointment yesterday.  He spent time looking up the risks of the surgery online last night.  Probably not a good idea.  He's anxious and a bit crabby and I'm supposed to be really nice right now and that pressure makes me super crabby.

Work continues to go well, though I'm slowing down the pace a bit so people can recover and/or catch up with me :-)  Bart's surgery will help me do that.

And we bought an Instant Pot.

How's that?