Day 61 – September 30, 2014

My mother-in-law is not doing well at all. Kelly is with her now, and it’s one of those situations where you know it could be any time, and you walk out of the room fairly certain you will never see her again – each and every time you walk out of the room. You fear the phone call – maybe in the middle of the night – and you certainly don’t want to say goodbye, but you also want the suffering to be over for her.

We took the boys over to visit her this evening. By all reports she had been pretty much unresponsive for the last 24 hours or so. She didn’t say anything to anyone for the longest time while we were there. Kelly spoke to her, her brother spoke to her, I spoke to her, Noah spoke to her – and it didn’t even appear that she heard us, much less understood us. A couple of time she uttered things to Kelly, but with his ear as close to her lips as he could get, he couldn’t understand what she had said.

And then Ethan spoke to her. Everything he said, she responded. Clearly, loudly, and with complete lucidity. Only in response to him – her 3rd grandchild, 1st grandson. After a while we had to go. We hadn’t had dinner and it’s a school night. Kelly, Noah, and I said our good nights, and there was no response. Ethan said good night, and she said it right back. As we got to the door to her room, on the way out, he called out, in a normal volume, “Bye.” And she replied, clear as day, “Bye.” She’d heard him, from across the room. Honestly, even before this critical illness took over, her hearing wasn’t always the best, so that was odd.

But as we walked away, it all made sense. “I prayed she would understand us,” Ethan said as we walked down the hallway. “Well,” I smiled, holding back the tears, “I guess it worked.”

“Well, she understood me,” he said, and then he giggled – just a bit – as if he were in on a delightful inside joke only meant for God, Ethan, and his grandmother.

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Day 60 – September 29, 2014

I’m toying with the idea of self-publishing again. And, truthfully, I kind of hate that I am toying with the idea of self-publishing again. I have nothing against self-publishing, of course. In fact, it’s all I know. But I really didn’t think I would do it again. But I wrote a book, I feel like God blessed the writing of the book, I am proud of the book, and I want people to read it. And I can’t get an agent to save my life.

So what are my options?

I feel as if Middle Ground is my light. I think that as much as I love the Abigail Phelps books, and as much as I am sure I will love other things (if I ever finish them…), Middle Ground is special. Middle Ground can maybe make a bit of a difference in people’s lives, while still entertaining them and, hopefully, making them laugh. So if Middle Ground is my light, what am I waiting for?

It makes me think of the song so many of us learned in Sunday school or VBS.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…

With power and authority, little kids all over the world (I don’t have any proof that this statement is true, but you get the idea.) shout out, “Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine!”

That sure is a lot more meaningful than, “Hide it under a bushel? Well, maybe. I can’t quite make up my mind.”

Day 59 – September 28, 2014

Okay, enough with the pity party. No circumstances have changed since yesterday, but I’ve got to change my approach. The current series at church is about love, and today focused specifically on “Love Does Not Envy.” Honestly, I didn’t really expect to feel too “targeted” with this one. I won’t claim that I never feel envy, but I certainly wouldn’t have thought it had anything to do with the way I have been feeling. The negative way I have been feeling. So why did I walk out of there with a whole new take on things?

Today’s message was built around the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, found in Matthew 20. If you aren’t familiar with it, you can click the link to read it, but here’s a quick summary: A landowner went out early in the morning to hire workers to work in his vineyard for the day. He promised them a certain wage, and they got to work. Several times throughout the day, he hired more people to work the land, and to them he promised to pay a fair wage. At the end of the day, the landowner arranged payment for all of the workers, some of whom had worked a long, hard day and some who had only worked an hour. But he paid each of them the same amount – the amount which he had originally promised to the first workers of the day. Those who had worked all day didn’t think that was fair, but as the landowner pointed out, he had not cheated them. He had paid them what he had promised. What was it to them if he paid others the same amount for less work?

Yikes! Can you relate? I know I can. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? In the context of the story Jesus was telling, of course we see the eternal ramifications. We understand the deeper meaning. We are each unique, as are our blessings from God. As well as our mission from God. Sure, sure. Yep, got it.

But do I really get it? When I only sell one book in a month, even when I’ve poured so much time and effort into promotion, do I sit back and say, “Thank you, Lord!” When other authors are getting book deals and rising up the bestseller lists, do I “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15)? Or do I say, “That’s not fair.”

Well, as much as I would like to be able to say otherwise, I definitely say, “That’s not fair.” Maybe I don’t say it to anyone else, but my heart says it. And I say it to God.

I haven’t done much book promotion at all lately, partially because I just haven’t had time, but partially because, as I’ve said before, I don’t like the way it makes me feel. But I thought I was being all noble about that. I don’t want to focus on me! Well, that’s true. But I also think I didn’t want to admit how envious I was of the success of others, and it was easier just to avoid the situations which made me feel that way. I have to change that. The situations won’t change. I just need to change the way I feel about them.

I am envious, and I am asking God to forgive me for that, and also help me to walk away from that emotion. I need to stay focused on God’s plan for me. God has not cheated me. Although I may not receive the same as others – even some who do not work as hard – I just need to focus on God’s promises to me. I have to trust in His plan for me when I don’t understand it, and it doesn’t seem fair. And I need to be grateful for what I do have.

Enough with the pity party.

Day 58 – September 27, 2014

I was going to say, “I’m trying so hard.” That’s what I typed, and then I deleted it. Because it’s not true. Today it’s not true. I’m not trying at all, and if I really wanted to dig deep, I would probably say, “I’m trying not to try.” So let’s start over.

I have been trying so hard. When things have been rough, and people around me have been skeptical or fearful, I have tried so hard. I’ve been ready with an optimistic speech and a relevant Scripture reference. I’ve been ready with a million reasons it would all be okay. And I have believed it every single time. Truly I have.

Today, I’m tired. I still have faith, of course. My faith can’t and won’t be shaken that easily. But I’m tired.

I’ve had opportunities to be a ray of sunshine for others, and to make situations better – or at least more bearable – for those around me. And today, I just haven’t had it in me. I don’t really want to talk about it, and I don’t really want to look on the sunny side. Not today. Today I just want to sleep and cry.

I’m fine. Or, rather, I will be. Life is good. My God is good. My faith is strong. But today I’m tired and I just don’t have it in me to look on the bright side.

Of course, this could all just be depression over George Clooney getting married.

Okay, maybe not.

Regardless, I hope that tomorrow we will return to our regularly scheduled ray of sunshine.

Day 57 – September 26, 2014

Ethan is on his way to Albuquerque on a field trip, and he calls every few minutes to say nothing at all. Remember a couple of days ago when I was talking about how different my husband and I are from each other? Well, Ethan is a strange, fascinating blend of the two of us. Having said that, he is obviously very much just Ethan, also. In school, Kelly never would have even considered going on a field trip (especially one to see Wicked on stage…) if the choice were his to make. He’s not very social. He does just fine in social situations, but it doesn’t come naturally to him. And he doesn’t always enjoy it. Hanging out with friends, having a guy’s night, going to parties…not his thing. We have friends, and once he is close to someone, it’s different. But in general… I, on the other hand, tend to be a bit of a social butterfly. I love spending time with friends, truthfully I sometimes love being the center of attention, and I usually find a way to make myself “belong” in whatever social situation I find myself in. Kelly is in radio broadcasting – people know his voice, but he sits alone in a room to get it out to the public. And he loves it that way. Just him in a room. I’m a theatre person. Acting, directing, customer service, working with others…that’s the way I operate.

Ethan wanted to go on the field trip – with the drama club – and I have little doubt that he will be glad he made the decision to go. But right now he isn’t talking to anyone except his mom and dad, whom he calls every few minutes.

He is so Kelly, and he is so me. Yet neither one of us understand him. He’s just so…Ethan.

Day 56 – September 25, 2014

I have nothing to write about.

Okay. That statement was ridiculous. I have tons to write about. So much that I can’t figure out how to do it.

My mother-in-law is very ill, and the prognosis is not good. The family is rallying around, and there is a lot of sadness and uncertainty. But I don’t know how to write about that. Not yet.

Today I attended parent/teacher conferences for my children. Ethan is struggling in middle school, as we knew he was. I have my frustrations and concerns there, and I could fill pages with my thoughts and emotions. But I don’t really want to write about that. Not today.

The money is still a concern, and the clock is ticking. But I have to talk to God about that. I can’t talk to all of you about that. Not right now.

I have a new book idea which I am just about ready to get excited about. I could easily get excited about it, but then I would want to work on it. And I don’t have time. Not this week.

I’m homesick. For a few hours, I thought maybe I would get to go to Kentucky soon. Or they would come here. But it wasn’t meant to be. Not this time.

Ethan leaves tomorrow for a weekend-long field trip to Albuquerque. I’m excited for him, and so thankful that he gets this opportunity, but my heart is breaking, because he is worried that something will happen to his grandmother while he is away. I’ve told him that all he can do is make sure nothing is left unsaid, and to make every moment that he is with her count. I don’t know if those words are enough to comfort him, but I just want him to enjoy his trip and focus on life. Not the possibility of death.

So there you go. I say that I have nothing to write about, and then I blabber on and on. Not that that should surprise you.

Day 55 – September 24, 2014

We all know the first eight verses of Ecclesiastes 3, even if we just know the version implanted into the public consciousness by The Byrds. In fact, we all know it so well, that I don’t think we really think about it any longer. We read it, we recite it, we sing it…we think of Forrest Gump. (Surely that’s not just me…) But do we let it soak in? Do we take time to think about it? Do we feel its relevance to our lives?

Today, I feel it.

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
     a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Day 54 – September 23, 2014

My husband and I don’t have much in common. I mean, we agree on the big things. The eternal things. We share the same faith, the same values, the same truths. When it comes to our marriage and our family, we are completely on the same page. But the little things? Movies, music, food? We couldn’t be more different. He hates The Princess Bride. (Sorry, but how can anyone hate The Princess Bride??) In fact, more often than not, if I watch a movie and didn’t like it very much, I will go to him after and say, “Hey, I saw this movie you might like.” There are a few TV shows we watch together, but in each case, one of us is just tolerating it in order to spend time with the other. And sports? Don’t get me started on sports. On March 30, 1998, Kelly’s beloved Utah Utes lost in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship to arguably the greatest college basketball team of all time – the Kentucky Wildcats. Four months later, he had the great misfortune of meeting me. Just before I began my sophomore year at the University of Kentucky. That truly set the tone for our marriage. The team to whom I am more loyal to than any other, ever, just happens to be his arch nemesis. Yep. Sounds about right.

But we have Fleetwood Mac.

Now, let’s not dwell on the fact that I am all Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, while his loyalty is to Christine McVie. That doesn’t matter. Small potatoes. We both like Fleetwood Mac, so I have held on to that for many years. And for years, I never bothered trying to get us tickets to a concert, because Christine McVie wasn’t touring. He wouldn’t have had much interest.

Well, they’re touring again. All of them. Even Christine. And they’ll be in Phoenix (about 7 hours from us) on December 10th. And the concert is sold out. But we have tickets!

And I don’t think we’ll be able to go.

I bought the tickets back when we weren’t quite as, um…financially destitute as we are now. For about 6 months, I have been looking forward to it so much. First of all, Fleetwood Mac is the last musical act on my concert bucket list. I’ve seen everyone else who I would say I needed to see before I die. Paul McCartney a couple of years ago was, I thought, the last great concert I would go to. And then in May I put a cherry on top by seeing Billy Joel for a second time. (At Madison Square Garden, on his birthday, no less!) Fleetwood Mac? Well, Fleetwood Mac was just the dream. The one on the bucket list with the asterisk next to it. (*Not likely to ever happen in this lifetime.) But then I thought it would.

And I thought my husband and I would have this awesome, romantic trip away – just the two of us (no offense, kids…) – and for the first, and let’s face it, only time ever, we would go to a concert to see someone we both wanted to see. (No offense Tom Jones, Blink 182, James Taylor, and Celtic Woman.)

But now we’re looking at it, and it just seems frivolous. We just can’t imagine being able to afford the hotel, meals, gas, etc. Not to mention…when we are still short on October’s mortgage payment, it seems silly not to sell the tickets and get a little help with that.

I’m just so sad. Genuinely sad. I don’t  know how to adequately express that. It may seem silly. It’s just a concert, right? Well, no. To me it’s a lot more than a concert.

But it is going to be an amazing concert, and if anyone out there would like to go…let me know.

FM

Day 53 – September 22, 2014

Way back on Day 25, I promised to, at some point, hit on just how excited I am that Scott Bakula is returning to television. Today seems like a good day. This, of course, has nothing to do with anything. More than likely, there is no great revelation or insight to come from today’s blog, and this really has nothing to do with my year of spiritual journey. But I have a commitment to fulfill, as promised 28 days ago, so I will do it. Because it’s the right thing to do.

Scott Bakula is, perhaps, the celebrity for whom I have the most sincere love infatuation crush respect. I have loved respected him since the Quantum Leap days, when he spent each week leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap would be the leap home. (Yep. Totally have that memorized.)

Bakula

And here’s the thing. I wasn’t just obsessed with him an admirer of his talents because of Quantum Leap. Yes, I can sing every word of “Somewhere in the Night” and yes, I can explain, in very scientific terms, Sam Beckett’s string theory. I know why he had a Swiss-cheesed brain, and I know which one was Ziggy and which one was Gushie. But I also knew – even then – that Scott Bakula was a Tony-nominated (for Romance/Romance) Broadway star.

Bakula2I knew that. My entire family knew that. And yet Rosie O’Donnell did not know that. Remember back in the good ol’ days when Rosie had a delightful talk show during which she slung Koosh balls, raved about Drake Cakes, and participated in delightful, non-political conversation with John McD and the McDLT’s? Well, in those days, she was also sort of the patron saint of Broadway. She did a lot of good for Broadway, and brought a great deal of mainstream attention to the Great White Way. She knew everything about Broadway musicals, she would have us believe. So imagine my family’s dismay when Scott Bakula appeared on Rosie’s show, and she said to the Tony-nominated actor, “You have a beautiful singing voice. Have you ever done any theatre?” Yep. My love professional consideration for Scott Bakula was so great that I stopped watching The Rosie O’Donnell Show, right then and there.

And now, the man whose poster has been on my wall talents I have admired since I was 9 years old is back, in a big way. A highly-promoted spin-off of one of the biggest shows on television. And he’s the lead. He’s the name. He’s the star. And I am positively giddy pleased to see this positive development in his career.

Bakula3

Day 52 – September 21, 2014

Yesterday, after I completed the blog entry for the day, I sat at my desk to begin the dreaded task of paying bills. If you read yesterday’s post, you know how worried I have been about it all, and you know that I’ve just been looking at the numbers, knowing that God is going to have to throw some mercy and miracles my way, or we just won’t make it.

(ENTER MERCY AND MIRACLES, STAGE RIGHT)

I was beginning to slip into a bit of a faith funk. Not a major crisis of faith, just a bit of a funk. On top of all of the stuff with the bills, I made the mistake of choosing that moment to look at my book sales for the month of September. I haven’t sold a single book. Not one. Now, of course, I have also spent zero time promoting my books, so of course I haven’t sold any. But there is no place for logic in a pity party, so I just used the big fat zeroes before me to beat myself. I poured my heart out to Kelly and I poured my heart out to God. I cried – a lot – and then I got back to paying bills.

I grabbed the invoices from the utility companies. Usually, I open the envelopes as soon as I receive them, but this month I had just set them on the stack unopened. I couldn’t do anything about it anyway, so I decided it was better to not even think about it yet. But yesterday I finally had to open them. So I did. And here was what awaited me on my electric bill.

EmpireElectric$375.00 in refunded deposits, plus a little bit of interest on each of those deposits. We won’t have to pay a dime on our electric bill again until 2015. Our God is so good! It is so overwhelming! There I was, praying for money, because that’s all I can comprehend. Meanwhile, God just goes straight to the source and takes care of one of our bills for us. Honestly, I can’t help but wonder if it is a little bit like how we sometimes feel when wanting to help someone in need. Forgive me if this sounds judgmental, but when someone holds a sign which says they are in need of food, and our heart wants to help them, our human skepticism still sometimes makes its way in. We want to help them, but are they really going to buy food if we give them a few dollars? So sometimes, we go buy them a sandwich and a bottle of water. It’s not that we don’t trust them but…okay, we don’t trust them. But that’s not a statement against them, really. It’s just the way we have been trained to think in this modern society. Whether that’s good or bad, I really don’t know.

I know that God is not skeptical about giving to me…only because skepticism involves doubt, and doubt involves a feeling of uncertainty. Well, God is absolutely certain that I am not wise, responsible, and mature enough to handle His gifts properly. I’m getting better, and I am continually seeking that wisdom, but let’s face it: if God had delivered $375.00 to my doorstep, I would have paid several bills, or stored it up to get a bit closer to the mortgage payment. I don’t believe I would have spent a single dime of it frivolously – I don’t even remember how to spend money frivolously! – but I would have taken it and figured out how I thought it could best help us. But God already knew. So He just took care of it for me.

The $81.27 that I don’t have to pay on the electric bill this month does not give me enough to pay the mortgage, of course. But after that, how could I have any doubt that He will provide in His way, in His timing, in the way He knows is best?

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24