Monday, September 25, 2017

Move Some Furniture, Change Your Life

I've been moving furniture around. This weekend a sofa that was way too large to be brought into my bedroom spent the night there.  The next day it was returned to its original location.  I then moved an oversized chair into my bedroom that ended up being the perfect size.  I say "I" but in all honesty my son was the smart one who figured out how to get it through the door then around the bed to the location it was meant to reside. He is also pretty strong so a lot of the brute force in moving these things came from him. The boy is so kind and so willing to please, a trait that I'm certain he learned from his father.  His relaxed, easy smile, and quick witted personality is something I wish I could take full credit for.  I cannot.  The boy will make a good husband someday. He should as he has learned from the best.

Today while the men of the house are out however, I am moving the bookcases from one room to another.  Do not call them as I could get into trouble for attempting this fete on my own.  I'm pretty excited about this idea I have for switching things up in the house.  It might not work and I might hate it but....don't die wondering right?  I have tile floors they should be easy to move once I take all the books off of them and get them over the carpet in the room they currently reside in.  There are some that think that if you are scheduled for physical therapy this week you shouldn't probably be moving furniture around.  I'm pretty sure that is exactly why I should be moving furniture around.  It has to be good exercise and the point of physical therapy is to move the problem appendages around right? (Note: It's probably best to just agree at this point as I cannot be persuaded at this point.  Those bookcases are moving today.  Also as a non-athlete I don't really think physical therapy is necessary anyway especially considering the thing that is wrong can probably be attributed to the fact that I am middle aged. That's two years of medical assisting training from over twenty years ago talking. I don't actually remember a lot but I think I remember that part...or I made it up.  OK I made that up but to be fair all I ever did as a medical assistant was bandage toes and triage...which is why it didn't stick.)

Here's the thing: I might have psychologically flipped a switch at some point.  I read the private message from my doctor that said that I have some mild deterioration in my cervical spine and some arthritis in my left shoulder and the first thing that I thought was, "Well...I'm not sure how that can be cause I'm pretty sure that I'm getting taller."  The shoulder thing makes sense.  I have an old college injury that has pestered me for years.  I feel the pain when it's cold or especially cold and rainy, but deterioration?  I don't think so.  That's probably normal in the aging process too but I might just have some form that makes me taller.  I kid you not, as I walked on campus today to get to the student center to write this I felt SO TALL. I'm not sure they have it right on this one.  It is entirely possible that I'm growing up after all these years. I don't think we should question my theories.  I think this mindset is probably better than the alternative.  There are days when I think I'm getting taller than my husband.  I did get new glasses this summer though and I have my first pair of progressive lenses so it may just be a trick of the eye. (Oh stop!  I've never been tall.  Let's just agree to let me have this one.)

All of this has gotten me thinking about things though.  I'm not sure you've noticed but the world is kind of a mess.  I'm not going to get into a political rant or discuss football and taking knees here. What I will say is that I think that maybe we could all use a flip of a switch.  I have two daughters in college.  I also have a high school aged son.  It isn't as though they don't hear things or see things.  I can't even take a walk with my husband without my phone giving me an update from the news channel.  All I really wanted was weather updates.  I don't know how to turn off the nonstop barrage of updates from the media about how this is wrong or that is wrong.  It isn't for a lack of caring about the world around me. I do care. I do, but I do not have the time left on this earth to dwell on who has offended who.  I can't do it and nor should you.  To be frank, I'm not sure when or why we all got so worked up about being offended.  I mean, has no one ever had kids?  They are brutally honest and they really aren't concerned with offending you.  The last time I checked we don't go on rants about how wrong children are and spend our lives worrying about what was said.  That's a pretty simplified example I know, but life isn't really all that complicated.  It's pretty simple really.  We are the ones that complicate things.

Move some furniture around.  Think of it this way.  You have this huge sofa.  It blocks passage to the restroom and makes it hard to get from the kitchen to the table because of its location in the house.  That sofa represents your largest obstacle in life, be it your job, school, your dreams, or whatever.  The sofa is heavy though so that's why it has been in that same spot for so long.  The thing is if you just moved it to the other side of the room, you would change the entire look of the room and open up the passages to get to where you need to go.  That's life kids. Sometimes you just have to move some furniture around.  Move some outlooks around.  Move a way of thinking around.  Life is simple like I said.  It came with an instruction book.  We spend so much time looking at the huge sofa we can't see the windows.  We can't see our way to the restroom and we desperately have to pee.  We've lost our focus.  We look around and down instead of up.  I don't have to understand differences and neither do you. You'll make yourself crazy trying to figure it all out and it isn't really your job.  What you do have to do is respect that God made all of us different and thank God that he did.  How boring it would be if we were all the same. Love everyone like Jesus and leave the rest up to Him. In other words let the man do His job.  Move some furniture, move the obstacles that keep you from loving others or respecting others and watch the view of the window open up.  You might just change your life.

Friday, September 15, 2017


OK guys, listen....I have been worthless today.  Worth-less, less than worthy of oxygen.  I have actually used oxygen that someone worthy of life sustaining oxygen might have needed. I have literally wasted hours of today and I kind of feel bad about it.  Kind of.... Here's the thing yesterday I spent about three hours cleaning and organizing my garage and that is where I finally have come to get a different view to see if I could come up with something to write.  I'm sitting on a chair that is going in a garage sale next month with my garage door open just looking at the fruit of my labor and watching it rain when it occurred to me I could write here.

I'm still just exhausted.  A week ago tomorrow I woke up and the prediction was that Irma was heading for us.  It had shifted yet again overnight and I was just spent.  The ups and downs, the build up was just too much.  I'm not sure I've actually completely checked back into my life.  I mean, I think I have to an extent because the laundry is getting done, dinner is being served and my bed continues to be made by my own hand but the rest of it?  I'm not so sure... I went outside and pulled weeds today for an hour or so, I showered and dressed, and I have had breakfast and lunch.  My kids have been working on homework and I have been staring at a blank page and doing crossword puzzles and talking on the phone in my room with no stimulation from the television or Pandora or anything.  Just staring at this blank page thinking, "What on earth can I say?" I found the lightbulb moment while sitting in a clean garage watching it rain.

The thing is I feel like I spent an entire week running a marathon that I had not trained for.  I feel like I was running and running and running and the finish like just kept moving further back.  I was on a treadmill without the emergency shut off and it was run or die and now I've gotten off the track and I don't know where I was.  I don't remember what track I was on. It is like everything is either before the hurricane and after the if life has somehow been altered a bit.  Are you with me?  Have you been here?  Maybe some of you have.  I feel bad about it actually because we really lucked out here and it weakened before it hit us and as I said before we were locked down in a shelter and didn't actually see any of it.  Our home even came through it virtually unscathed and this makes me feel like I'm not worthy of my feelings.  As if I am not entitled to them because I still have my home in tact.  I don't know.  I'm on unchartered territory here.

I am so thankful for all the messages and phone calls from friends and family checking in and wanting us to be ok before the storm.  There were so many that it was almost overwhelming and while I appreciated the concern it almost furthered my fears as if people were now talking to me because they didn't think we were going to make it. The weather reports made it seem like we might not make it.  It was the largest hurricane to form in the Atlantic...ever.  It is a lot to process.  The thing about all those phone calls is...they have stopped.  The messages have stopped.  We're all good now...uncertain death has been averted so no need to check in.  Forget about the fact that I don't know what day it is and as I feel like I've lost two weeks out of my life I'll never get back and I still sometimes cry in the shower.  We didn't die so we're good.

It reminds me of when my mother was dying.  People came out of the woodwork to help and love on us and be there for us and then once she was gone they all went away.  A week or two later and everyone is back to their own lives and assume you are business as usual.  They don't realize that your entire life has been forever altered and everything is now before your mother died and after and you have no idea how life just goes on.  You can't seem to figure out why everyone else can move on but you can't.  Why it is so easy for others and not for you. What is wrong with you?

I have always thought there is comfort in being around other people.  I don't do alone well. Not that I don't have alone time and enjoy getting custody of the remote or reading without interruptions because I do but I'm a people person.  My mother would give me the silent treatment as a punishment because I need someone to talk to and it was effective.  I don't know how to handle awkward silences.  I can't even go to get a massage without talking which defeats the purpose because I'm incapable of relaxing so I just don't do it.  The thing is, I love my people.  I love all of them...even when I think they are nuts.  Sometimes it just makes me love them more.  I try to text and call and keep up with everyone and when I only hear from people because I might you know...go with Dorothy and Toto via hurricane it makes me sad. I don't comprehend it.

I'm over here like...."What. Just. Happened?"  Have you been here?  Have you had these thoughts?  Have you felt this way before?  Maybe it wasn't a hurricane, maybe it was something else, maybe it was a tornado, or a flood, or something else entirely.  Listen to me on this God is with you in the storm.  I think part of the problem is that we forget that He's with us AFTER the storm as well.  I can't tell which end is up.  I've gone so gray I think I'll blind people if the light hits my head just right. I've gone through ALL the hurricane cookies and I was already ten pounds up from where I want to be weight wise.  My shoulders are up to my ears with tension and I'm scared to take a nap.  Why?  I have no idea but I can't do it.  I look on Denis Phillips' Facebook page to check the weather like it's my job.  I have forgotten that God is with me through the storm and after the storm.  He's with me for the fallout.  When the dust settles and you are left to do life again God knows.  He's there.  He's in for it.  He won't leave you.  He won't forsake you.  He is the God who stops the wind and calms the sea.  He is the God who turns day into night and night back into day. Nothing is too hard for him. Are you going through a storm?  Have you just endured a storm in life and come out the other side?

Remember when I said I felt kinda bad about how I was feeling? Well I've decided to give myself permission to have my feelings and not feel bad about them.  If you need permission I'll give it to you too.  Have your feelings. Psalm 107:28-31 "Yet when they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, the Lord brought them out of their distress.  He calmed the storm and its waves quieted down. So they rejoiced that the waves became quiet, and he led them to their desired haven.  Let them give thanks to the Lord for his gracious love and for his awesome deeds on behalf of mankind." " Psalm 89:8-9 Lord God All-Powerful, there is no one like you.  You are strong, Lord, and always faithful.  You rule the stormy see.  You can calm its angry waves."

Deuteronomy 31:8 " It is the LORD who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed".  Do not fear of be dismayed.  Do you see that?  God went before us and He didn't leave us.  He had us and still has us.  Why do I always forget that part?  Do you?  Have you?  I'm not sure but I think maybe the aftershock of the hurricane is just as bad as the build up.  I still wouldn't trade the experience though.  A friend told me I was crazy for trading a maybe fifteen minute tornado for a week long hurricane.  Maybe that's so.  Maybe I am crazy for wanting this life.  All I know is that being here is making me stronger...even on days like today when I feel weak.  On days when I think I can figure it out on my own and I avoid the blank page because I'm scared of what God will tell me there. I keep waiting for the God who loves me to figure me out, to give up on me and walk away because I'm not worth it.  I'm not worthy but then...who is?  Yet he waits for me.  He finds me in the garage when I've hidden in my room all day.  Who does that?  God does.  So today I've been a mess, tomorrow I might still be a mess to be honest but who knows.  His mercies are new every day.  I saw there were some more disturbances they are keeping an eye out for but my running days are just about over so I guess I better stock up on know....for emergency use only.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


As the world is aware hurricane Irma set her sights on Florida this last week.  The predictions as to where her strike would occur and how strong of an impact she would have were all over the place.  First west then east no west again.  As the stereotypical woman, she didn’t seem to be able to make up her mind. You’d think she were deciding where to have dinner.  Memes of Irma took over the internet and after the destruction of Harvey we waited in anticipation for Irma who was to be the largest hurricane to have ever formed in the Atlantic.  My family potentially sitting in her path.

My husband as you may be aware works in the medical field as a pharmacist and the pharmacies were packed with people trying to get their medications early so they could flee the state.  The interstate became a parking lot and gas became scarce and we prepared to hunker down.  Then the report came Saturday morning that Irma had a real beef with us and looked to be making a beeline straight for us. Gas stations were closed and after retrieving our daughter from her college an hour away we were down to half a tank of gas. We didn’t have hurricane shutters and we didn’t have boards to put up to cover our windows and those who were not apart of the mass exodus had already bought all the plywood around.  I have always thought there was comfort in being around other people.  That said my husband and I left early and registered at the nearby shelter and went home to pack everything up. 

As you are probably aware we are from the Midwest, as you further are now aware we now live in the great state of Florida.  What you may not be aware of is that when the largest hurricane possibly ever is coming at you everyone in the Midwest becomes an expert on hurricanes.  They also, not understanding how it isn’t so simple to just pack up and leave when you are not on vacation here and you have jobs and responsibilities, think you’re stupid for not leaving. My inbox, private message box, and text box filled up with family and friends telling me to get out and drive 1100 miles back from whence we came.  We needed to come there to stay with every friend we had.  Fear and anticipation of what could happen and the idea of us not fleeing for our lives drove them to tell us how to handle the situation even though they had never been in this situation.  This did not help the women of the house. My middle child was filled with anxiety from the start and now she was on hyper drive.  I was crying in the shower.  My husband was at his wits end with scared women and trying to get us to calm down and we would be ok because we were together.  Where was our faith?

We have family here.  My cousin who lives on the other side of the state was very concerned and continued to call on us and check in, wanting to make sure we were taking this very seriously and that we were going to be safe.  When told we were going to a shelter I could hear her relief.  We have other family here that we never heard from.  They left the state and never once thought to call us to see if we were going to be OK.  I think that is one disappointment that has us the most flummoxed of all, especially when it is pointed out to us that they had left, hit the road, got out of dodge, without a thought to the family members who were new and had never experienced this type of storm before. I’m not sure how you make sense of that.  Maybe you don’t, you just realize where you stand.  Nevertheless, gas stations were closed and there was no way out by this point.  We prepared for the worse and hoped for the best

We arrived at the shelter just before 3 p.m. on Saturday and started carrying in our supplies and looking for our spot that would serve as our “home base” for our stay.  It was already getting full and by the time we were on lockdown on Sunday we were at capacity with 1700 people camped out and ready to ride out the storm together.  We had hours to prepare and pack.  We had our supplies pretty well put together.  Food, cases of water, important supplies like games and other forms of entertainment were near the top of the list. When you are camping in a strange environment surrounded by strangers it is important to have things to do for not only you but the kids no matter how old your kids may be.  The idea of going stir crazy didn’t sound appealing to any of us. My girls even brought homework to work on for school, desperate times and an overwhelming sense of responsibility drove that I believe.

I’m not sure what I thought this experience was going to be like.  Packing up my kids and going to a shelter to ride out a storm was never on my ‘to do’ list.  Had I to do it all over again…I wouldn’t change a thing and I’ll tell you why.  Jesus was there.  He was in the five-year-old little girl who was excited to be camping with her family in her school where some of her friends were doing the same.  He was in the woman named Miriam who said, “We are going to get through this Heather, we’re going to get through this together.” He was in the woman who came alone but was finally joined by her older neighbor that she had convinced to come too.  He was in the couple who are customers in my store who talked to me about churches in the area.  He was in the young guy (I say young guy but he literally could have been 35 as everyone seems young to me at this point) who brought his service dog and his laptop and set it up and invited all to join him to watch the weather to see how things were going.  He was in the service dog even because he never made a sound but somehow, I felt safer with him there.  He was in the officers and national guard who were there to protect and serve.  He was in the numerous volunteers who made food for everyone there three times a day.  He was in the young mother of that five-year-old and her one-year old who allowed me to dote on her children and her husband who I ended up knowing from work as he had been a student at my store.  He was everywhere I turned.  I saw the hands and feet of God at work in an elementary school turned hurricane shelter.

I never once saw any of the storm.  I heard the rain that sounded like rushing water on the roof.  I saw things on the computer screen showing the news and forecasts but I didn’t see anything of the storm and that helped me.  I think it helped all of us.  We could have been there for any reason at that point.  We could have been camping in a school not for survival but for a fundraiser or anything.  But survive we did.  The storm came and shook up everything but we made it to tell the story.  The next morning, we packed up and went home not knowing what we would find or if we would even have a home once we got there.  What we found when we arrived was leaves.  We surveyed the entire house and all we found were leaved and a plastic piece from the side of the house that covers wires that just needed snapped back on.  The neighbors on either side of me had damage.  A tree down that blocked entrance through the front door on one side and screen from the lanai and vinyl fencing that needed snapped back together on the other side. Another tree down the road was down.  We had leaves and a front door that now sticks for some reason.  It seemed to me as if God had covered our home with his hand as the storm passed by.  I was shocked at first but then I remembered all the prayer warriors we had praying for us and then it made perfect sense. 

We learned a lot from this experience.  First, our God is bigger than any hurricane. Second, we really can get through anything together. Third, God has plans for us.  I know this because HE calmed the storm.  He calmed a storm that was to hit our area at a cat 4 and it hit us at a cat 2.  Irma caused devastation on her path to us and there are parts of Florida that fared far worse than we did.  I urge you to see what you can do to help those in need here in Florida as well as in Texas.  Help a neighbor without power, help them with the clean up of the aftermath.  Offer a hot meal or shower.  From what I saw in the shelter people are still pretty good in a crisis. We as humans can still rise to the occasion and show the enemy that we stand with God.  Let’s do that.  Let’s live like that.  Neighbor helping neighbor.