Day 122 – November 30, 2014

I love Christmas. I honestly feel a childlike joy this time of year, and I think it’s because Christmas was always very special in my home growing up. It was treated like the big deal that I still consider it to be. I touched on that in a previous blog – I love the music, the lights, the trees, the smells. And I’m desperate to instill that love of Christmas in my children. Gifts are great, of course, and I love getting gifts for my children, but I don’t want them to love Christmas for the gifts. I want them to remember the reason for the season, and to keep their focus on that.

I go out of my way this time of year to be as kind as I can be in the most difficult of situations and locations – when shopping. It drives me nuts that people are so cranky when they are Christmas shopping, so I try to be almost obnoxiously cheery. Maybe it won’t make a difference, but maybe – just maybe – one person will snap out of their bah humbug mood when they hear me whistling Christmas carols and smiling from ear to ear. But not while whistling. It’s difficult to do both at the same time.

Kelly is not quite the carrier of Christmas cheer that I am. He’s always preferred Thanksgiving, and seems to just be annoyed by Christmas at times. (Just another way we are polar opposites.) But today Kelly said something which I thought was very insightful. And sad. He said that one of the things he finds sort of depressing about this time of year is that come January 2nd, it all goes away. The positive attitudes, the generosity, the caring, the sharing…gone.

He’s right. In general, he’s right. But what if each year we tried to extend it a little longer, and then a little longer? What if we didn’t go back to our self-centered selves after the New Year? What if we celebrated the reason for the season, even after the season had passed? After all, the reason for the season is the reason for every season. So isn’t it up to us to keep the spirit of Christmas alive?

Day 121 – November 29, 2014

I’m blogging now because there is a very good chance that this is my one window of lucidity today. And when I say lucidity, please know that the room is currently spinning and the screen in front of me is all wavy – so clearly my standards are a bit lowered today.

Yep. I’m sick. I just can’t avoid the truth any longer. And it’s so frustrating, because apart from this horrible, life-overtaking cough, I really don’t feel all that bad. Well, I do…but in most cases as a direct result of the cough.

I’m just so disappointed. The Christmas tree is supposed to be going up. Not happening. I was going to try to take the boys out. Not happening. We were going to all go play football together. Not happening. And then I was going to try to, you know…get out of bed today.

Not happening.

Day 120 – November 28, 2014

I’ve been very confidently declaring for several days – about a week now, actually – that I’m not sick. Then what about the cough? Oh, that? That’s nothing. That’s just leftover from the cold or sinus thing I had a few weeks ago. Or it could be caused by the dry air. Change in the weather? Yep. That’s probably to blame.

But then I slept about 10 hours last night, got up for a few minutes, coughed myself silly, and then went to bed and took a nap. I wanted to get the Christmas tree up today, and instead I’ve done nothing. I hate that feeling. Every time I stand up for a few minutes, I end up having a coughing fit, and that wears me out, and I go back to bed.

But I’m not sick.

Day 119 – November 27, 2014

Baby EthanTwelve years ago today, it wasn’t Thanksgiving, but Wednesday – the day before Thanksgiving. I had been in the hospital since early Monday morning. I was being induced due to high blood pressure, but from the very beginning, Ethan was stubborn strong-willed. I finally went into labor Tuesday evening, and Ethan was born at 9:41 on Wednesday morning.

His first Apgar test, he scored a 1 out of 10. Just in case you don’t know how the Apgar score is determined at birth, here is a chart. Yeah…he got a 1. He was a 0 in every category except for Pulse. He had a pulse, but it was slow.


Apgar Scoring

Apgar Sign 2 1 0
Appearance
(skin color)
Normal color all over (hands and feet are pink) Normal color (but hands and feet are bluish) Bluish-gray or pale all over
Pulse
(heart rate)
Normal (above 100 beats per minute) Below 100 beats per minute Absent
(no pulse)
Grimace
(“reflex irritability”)
Pulls away, sneezes, coughs, or cries with stimulation Facial movement only (grimace) with stimulation Absent (no response to stimulation)
Activity
(muscle tone)
Active, spontaneous movement Arms and legs flexed with little movement No movement, “floppy” tone
Respiration
(breathing rate and effort)
Normal rate and effort, good cry Slow or irregular breathing, weak cry Absent (no breathing)

I had just given birth to my first child, after 13 hours of labor during which my contractions were never more than 90 seconds apart, and I had done it naturally – because once I went to labor, it began so intensely that it was too late to do it any other way. But none of that mattered in that moment, when Ethan was born. Because my baby wasn’t crying. Or breathing.

Obviously, he rallied back. He’s one of my two miracle babies, and on February 6th, I’ll talk a bit about the miracle of Noah’s birth. But for today, I’m just so grateful that God chose to bless Kelly and me with this handsome, brilliant, goofy, strong-willed stubborn, compassionate, frustrating, overwhelmingly kind child. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
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Day 118 – November 26, 2014

Today was a good day!

My dad is out of the hospital. Thank you for all of the prayers. I know he is super relieved to be out in time for Thanksgiving. I tried telling him that if he had to be there longer, it was the perfect way to celebrate Ethan’s birthday. After all, twelve years ago on Thanksgiving, was in the hospital. That didn’t seem to make him any less anxious to get out…

But, yeah…Ethan turns 12 tomorrow. That’s insane. I know that I’m not old enough to have a 12-year-old, so there must be some mistake.

I’m sure I’ll have much more to blog about tomorrow, so until then, Happy Thanksgiving! Hopefully you are feeling an overwhelming sense of thanks and gratitude this year. Focus on that. And just in case you are having difficulty feeling thankful – because, let’s face it…sometimes that is more of a struggle than others – dwell on 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Day 117 – November 25, 2014

John F. Kennedy, Jr. would have turned 54 today.

Umm…okay…why should we care?

I only bring that to your attention because I keep thinking about how weird it is that I don’t care. If you don’t know why I would care, you clearly haven’t read my books. And that’s okay. (Of course that’s okay. I don’t mean to imply you need my forgiveness or anything…) The Year of Blogging Faithfully is not about selling books, and it never will be, but for the purposes of this blog entry, here is the very minimum which you need to know:

I wrote a trilogy about a fictional character surrounded by real-life celebrities. The stories seem to be nothing but delusion, but as the story goes on, you learn that you’re not dealing with delusion so much as a psychological scavenger hunt. And one of the major characters – one could even make a case that he is the major character – is JFK Jr.

For a while after I published, I was very dedicated to continually blurring the line between fantasy and reality. As such, Abigail Phelps – my fictional character – regularly blogged. She regularly reflected on her famous loves and well-known friends, as if it were all reality. And as of a year ago, JFK Jr.’s birthday was a big deal in my literary world.

This year I just can’t muster up the energy to blog as Abigail. The thought of it is exhausting. Life is busy, and full of important things. And that doesn’t feel important.

That – having my priorities in order – is wonderful for my mental state, my family time, and a million other things. What it’s not good for: book sales.

Happy birthday, John-John. Maybe I’ll care by next year.

Day 116 – November 24, 2014

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all of the prayers and well-wishes for my dad. I’m able to tell a bit more about it all today. As I said, he got very sick yesterday. Apart from actual sickness symptoms, what was the most worrisome to my mom and sister, who were with him, was that he was very out of sorts. But then a little later in the day, it got a bit scarier because he wasn’t able to sit up. He could get to a sitting position, but he wasn’t physically able to hold his body up and stay there. My mom called 911 and an ambulance went to get him.

Now, you should know that through all of this, my dad was fully coherent and vehemently insisting that my mom should not call 911. It wasn’t worth all of that, he argued. Thankfully, she ignored him.

He has pneumonia, and the flu too, I believe they said, and he was completely dehydrated, and had a fever of more than 103 degrees. They admitted him at a different hospital, and there he remains for the time being.

I don’t mean to turn this around so that it’s about me, because it’s not – although, in fairness, it is my blog! – but times like these always make me a little less certain that we should be in Colorado. (In case you don’t know, my family is in Kentucky.) While I wish I could just be focused on praying for my dad, I can’t help but have this little internal monologue going all the time:

Okay, should I go? I mean, I shouldn’t go now, because we don’t know anything yet. But what if it’s something major and I do need to be there? Then maybe I should just go now. And if it doesn’t end up being too major, well, at least I got to see everyone. But with weather everywhere, where could I fly out of? Couldn’t afford a local airport – that’s for sure. Don’t want to drive to Denver, through the mountains, right now. Guess it would be Albuquerque. But booking a flight on short notice is never cheap. Well, what am I talking about? I can’t afford it anyway. I’ll put it on a credit card. Hooray…more debt. Sheesh, when are we just going to move closer? I’ve been here 14 years…it’s MY turn to be near my family!

Yep. I’m a crazy lady. I can talk myself into bitterness and resentment quicker than anyone I know.

The thing is, I don’t really feel that way most of the time. I like it here. I love our home, I love our church, Kelly and I have the jobs we want, we have great friends, our kids love it here… I want to be here. But I miss Kentucky. And times such as this drive that home. Ultimately, I don’t even think I want to move back to Kentucky. Not really. But I would love to be rich so I could visit whenever I like. Is that too much to ask?? Well, yeah…I guess it is.

Anyway, back to what matters…

Thank you for the prayers for my dad. Would you please continue to pray for healing for him and comfort and rest for my mom? Thank you so much.

Day 115 – November 23, 2014

Anyone who is willing, would you please pray for my dad? He got very sick earlier in the day, and what first appeared to be just a stomach bug or food poisoning now seems a little more worrisome. We really don’t know much more than that at this point, but my mom is justifiably concerned, and he’s just been taken to the ER to find out what’s going on.

That’s really all I want to say at this point, but if any of you would be willing to pray for him – and my mom – it would be so appreciated. And I look forward to Day 116, when I’ll tell you he’s fine, and he’ll fuss at me for talking about it on the blog.

Day 114 – November 22, 2014

Well, pay no attention to my little wait-until-after-Thanksgiving-to-decorate-and-shop-for-Christmas tirade from earlier in the week. As of today, we’re very nearly done Christmas shopping. Of course, shopping certainly goes faster when you don’t have money, so hurray for poverty! One of the perks which is often not mentioned.

Anyway, yes…we’re just about done. And I’m exhausted. I felt so old when all was said and done, and the rest of the day was wasted. Well, not completely wasted. Kelly and I sat down with the boys and started showing them 1776 for the first time.

Yep. It’s one of those days. Nothing to blog about.

Meet you back here tomorrow?

Day 113 – November 21, 2014

I’ve made the determination that I am damaged goods.

That’s all. Good night!

No, just kidding. I can’t just say that and then go away, I suppose. So…here’s the thing…

When I was at the bank, rising up through the ranks, I was pretty doggone confident. Oh, not regarding myself personally, of course, but when it came to my job performance, you bet. I was good at what I did. When new positions opened up, I applied for them. Why? Because I wanted to advance, in order to have a more impressive title or make more money? No. I mean, all of that was nice, but honestly, that wasn’t why. I applied for everything that came along because I knew I could do it, whatever it was. I don’t mean for that to sound smug. It wasn’t really about my abilities, even. It was about how hard I was willing to work. I genetically inherited a need to be punctual and have an amazing work ethic. No, that’s not true, I don’t think. I don’t think it was inherited. It was just the example set before me as I went through life. Our family was laid back, goofed around, and laughed a lot. My room was never clean – at least not by my hand – and I was horrible about getting homework done and studying. (Where does Ethan get it??) But you know what? I also knew that we had to leave super early for church each Sunday and Wednesday, to make sure we weren’t late. By the time I got my first job, I think I instinctively knew what it was to deliver good customer service and how to be a valuable employee. That mattered. That still matters. I want to be the best at what I do. Always.

The meaning of that has changed, however. Once, that meant that I needed to stand out among others. I needed to be the one my employers relied on. I needed to be the one they raved about in board meetings. I needed to be the one getting offered promotions. I needed to be the one other companies contacted regarding open positions they had, even if I knew I wasn’t even really considering leaving my current position. I needed to be in demand. And I was.

None of that makes me damaged goods. At least I don’t think so! I am proud of my work ethic. I am proud that I’m usually not late unless I have a really good reason. I am proud of things I’ve accomplished.

And then I went through a career crisis. Well, then it felt like a career crisis. Now, of course, I recognize that it was a rescue mission, staged by God. Things got nasty and I walked away – but not before I realized that being the best at what I did wasn’t always going to be enough. Sometimes, even when you’re the best at what you do, there are people who don’t like what you do, because you don’t do it exactly their way. Sometimes people are out to get your job. Sometimes people are just trying to be who they think they need to be in order to secure their employment, or secure future advancement. And sometimes people are willing to do whatever it takes. And it’s not that they don’t care about what they are doing to other people – it’s that they don’t even think about it. And sometimes you’re left in dismay as your employer sits there and tells you what you have been doing, and what you haven’t been doing, and that you’re not working hard enough. And it doesn’t matter that you actually didn’t do what they said you did, and that you did do what they said you didn’t. And it doesn’t even matter that you’re working harder than anyone else. None of it matters. Because they believed the wrong people.

But, hey…no big deal. Because at the end of all of that, they tell you how awesome you are, and how important and valued you are. They tell you that you’re the future.

But it’s too late. The damage is done. You know that it’s time to walk away, because you know that you’re giving everything you have, and it will never be enough. They can’t let it be enough, so it never will be. So you hold your head high and get out. Actually, you run. As fast as you can. And you never look back. There is no regret, not even for a moment. You’re free, and you’re happy, and you’re so very blessed. Everything is better. Well, the money isn’t better, but you honestly and truly do not care. And everything else really is better.

Except the confidence has been shaken. Not shattered, but definitely shaken. You gave everything you had, and it would never be enough. That wasn’t even your fault, and you know that, but you still can’t help but think you’ve lost your edge.

And then, miraculously (and I’m not using that word lightly), you end up in your dream job – before you even know it’s your dream job. You’re working with friends for God’s glory. You love your job. Every single thing about it – even the tough things – you love and are able to see as blessings from God.

But there are these moments – tiny, insignificant moments – when you doubt yourself. You never doubt God, or the calling, or the people you work with, but you doubt yourself. You cry because you get frustrated with yourself, because you’re not picking something up as immediately as you think you should. As you think you should. No one is pressuring you or pushing you, or making you feel anything less than loved and valued. And yet you have this voice in your head which says, once in a while, “You didn’t do this. You did do that. And you’re not working hard enough.” Even though you are, and even though everyone else knows you are. And then you feel like a crazy lady, and you’re mad at yourself for crying, and you’re frustrated. You’re not frustrated with your job performance. You’re frustrated that people in the past who were only saying what they said in an attempt to control you actually seem to have some control over you now. After you walked away, with your head held high.

Damaged goods.