Monday, September 25, 2017

Mister

Inspired by the story written by a friend, I've decided to write out my own animal story. While I've always had animals in my life [from farm animals to exotics like macaws] I'd never owned a cat until 7 yrs ago when Mister [a starving abandoned by his previous family 'stray' black cat - aka 'ebony Siamese'] came into my life. Despite being afraid, he decided to 'choose' me. During these years, he has been patient with me, teaching me how to love him as well as to accept love from him - and I have found healing in/with/thru other relationships as a result of this sweet companionship which he has offered me. His fur has soaked up my tears and I have fallen asleep to the vroom-vroom of his purring. I have discovered an internal strength while dealing with his intelligent sass and love that I can hug him closely without worrying about squishing him. He has been here for me as I've experienced separation, divorce [with hope of reconciliation], and the agony following the death of my former spouse. I have kept going on because he depended upon me and loved me even during my worst of times. Because of this, I think of the beauty of how animals can be used by God to be companions and comforters is a small glimpse of the Garden of Eden before the Fall when Adam [and Eve] lived in peace with the animals there, and part of the pain which they would have felt after being kicked out and with the ground not producing so easily to then have to kill animals which he [Adam] had named and had once lived in peace with - but are now afraid of him. And it wouldn't surprise me if there are animals in Heaven [other than the white horses for Armageddon] as well as the New Earth which we will one day get to experience. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Holding Pattern

Stepping outside this morning, I notice a commercial plane overhead. Not so unusual, except that instead of being on an easterly path [final approach to IAH], it was on a curved path: west, southwest, south, southeast, then finally east and back towards the distant airport. I pause and wait for the expected second airplane to follow in the same path as these planes usually fly overhead in pairs -usually with the second airplane traveling in a parallel path, yet slightly more south and a few seconds behind the first plane - and was not disappointed.

Holding Pattern: that's what they were on.

I thought back to this morning's reading from "Grace for the Moment, Volume II" by Max Lucado:
"Love Is Patient" with its verse from James 1:4 "Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do."  The reading included an illustration of an irritating situation which was put at ease when an explanation was offered, and with such "Patience replaced impatience. Why? Because PATIENCE always hitches a ride with UNDERSTANDING [emphasis mine]. 'A man of understanding holds his tongue' (Proverbs 11:12 NIV). Don't miss the connection between understanding and patience. Before you blow up, listen up. Before you strike out, tune in."

It got me to thinking about my own life and this crazy, amazing, wonderful yet occasionally downright irritating path which God has me on. Patience - and learning to trust God - is an ongoing lesson for me. I have to put God and His plan for my life ahead of everything else; ahead of what people think, ahead of LOGIC and PRACTICALITY, and even ahead of my desire to not appear foolish or delusional to the world. That's just how it is. God first - always!

Thinking back to those planes (as I listen through the open window to another one flying by) and how the pilots must TRUST and OBEY the air traffic controllers if they are to SAFELY traverse the skies. When put into a holding pattern, it is because there is congestion ahead which needs clearing out (i.e. the timing isn't quite right) and so they must wait a little longer before moving onward towards their next destination. And it is the same way in our own lives as we trust God; for it is He who sees what is ahead of us and what mishaps can be avoided if we will just WAIT on His direction regarding the various areas of our lives.

We may not always understand WHY life isn't progressing more quickly, but in all truthfulness it isn't for us TO question the One who created us. We are simply asked to be willing to WAIT on His timing for our lives, knowing that it will work out for our GOOD.

"Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint"
Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV).

The King James version uses the words "wait upon" in place of "hope in" yet I see the beauty and purpose of both translations. As we learn to Wait, our Hope increases. Webster defines Hope as "to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment" and this is how we are to live our lives. The Psalmist so beautifully states it this way:

"Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God."
Psalm 42:11 (NIV).

Yes, it is so very true - "for I will YET praise him" [emphasis mine] - even when I am waiting for His direction while in a Holding Pattern.

Peace on your day,
Rachel >//<>

Friday, September 1, 2017

Waiting to Wake Up

It's the middle of the night and I can't sleep; my body is wanting to be in its 'creative up most of the night' cycle while also in a 'practical work while it's light out' sleep cycle. Not good for me. Of course me easing one more half cup of tea from the linen bag filled with Irish Breakfast tea and chai spices probably isn't helping... well, I KNOW it isn't helping.

There's so much going on in my head.

Two days ago - Wednesday - I bought groceries for the first time in a week. Not so unusual except that my previous grocery run had been to prepare for hurricane Harvey and was chaotic with people stocking up and stores running out of so many staples [bread, bottled water, toilet paper, canned goods, milk, eggs, and anything which doesn't need heating up in case power is lost]. This time many of those items were still not replenished, and I joined the throng which headed to the back of the store when an announcement over the P.A. said that they had gotten a shipment of milk in and were handing out one gallon per customer... and gratefully accepted the non-organic whole milk which was offered. I decided to try the other grocery store in my neighborhood and was able to get some items which the first store did not have... yet no one had eggs.

Yesterday, I had a similar experience at the hardware store as I searched for cleaning supplies [the 'occasionally leaking' skylight in an addition decided leak enough before buckets were put out - my fault for not checking on it - to necessitate a need to really clear out the room, including tearing out carpets, so I have another project for next week]. No one has bleach so lemon Pine Sol will work for now. But it's all ok... because I am learning how to do new things which are necessary in order to take care of MY HOME. Yes, I make mistakes, but that is all part of learning.

Yet it is all so surreal.

Earlier tonight [actually this morning]I looked at a slideshow showing various flooded parts of Houston. I looked at roads I've driven down [Interstate 10, Addicks area] and streets I've walked [downtown] and I feel like I am in a half-awake stupor. This city and county have been my home since November 1985 - nearly 32 years. I see the names of areas which have flooded and know that I have met people from those areas and I could try to contact them, but I don't want to. I don't want to know if the persons who bought the '40 LaSalle or the '65 Mustang, or who has the '28 LaSalle got flooded. I really do not want to know.

It still seems so... words just cannot describe. I think of kids who had been looking forward to the first day of school a week ago and now those schools are sheltering displaced people; and who knows when school will actually begin. People needing to work, and needing to repair their homes and needing...

Yes, this actually happened.

Tonight I am thinking about people I do not know, and all I can do for them is to PRAY. I am counting my blessings while also hurting for persons less fortunate. I check the weather and see the possibility for rain in 3-4 days and feel weary from the THOUGHT of more precipitation.

I am trying to be positive. Rain and water receding and thinking how Noah must have felt after the floodwaters went down and the earth was given an opportunity to renew itself and to begin again. So it is with Houston... and with Rockport... and with Beaumont, and Louisiana, and everywhere else affected by this storm. This is how life is!

Even when it feel like an unchosen dream.

RLR
>||<>


Monday, August 28, 2017

Weddings, Funerals, and Natural Disasters

This morning my phone chimed with a new message:
"Hi"
------ "Hi there!"
Can i call"
------ "Sure"

It was one of my cousins; a sweet person who I have sporadically kept in touch with over the years, mostly via the internet. He had been reading about all of the destruction going on in and around Houston and this morning it dawned on him that he had a cousin in the area so he called to see how I was doing.

We chatted and got each other caught up on our lives. I informed him that my brother was now in the area and shared the continued concerns for his part of town. And we refreshed each other on other family members. I then remarked how funny [sweet] it was that he called me today since it was yesterday that a beloved aunt had called me to see how I was doing with regards to the flooding down here. It was then that my cousin remarked how it is interesting that families get together for weddings, funerals, and [now] natural disasters.

It's kinda funny... but true. Big emotional events draw people together. They gather to celebrate, to mourn, to express concern, and to remind each other just how precious they are and how much they care for each other's well-being. But that is what families do. And that is what some friends do. And yet...

What if we decide to not wait for some big dramatic event to check in on people who we care about? What if we take time from our busy lives to actually SHOW that we are concerned about another person by contacting them - just because? Even though we know that the other person knows that we care, how about doing more than the minimum?

Love isn't love unless it is put into practice. Christ demonstrated His love for us and we are to demonstrate our love to others. People need to know that we care... in ALL times, instead of just during the dramatic or picture-worthy times.

Something to think about.

Rachel
[now under a boil water notice]

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Numb

I like to research. I like to know MORE about things in and around my life. I like to saturate my brain with information and options when working on a project. I like to think.

But sometimes I think too much. Sometimes I have a difficult time turning off the research button in my brain. And sometimes I exhaust myself by overloading my brain with so much information that I become...

         NUMB.

Two days ago, Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas near Rockport and I was prepared with supplies to last at least a week... or more. Food, water, charcoal, candles, batteries, and an alternative way [liquid fuel burner] to heat water for tea or to cook in a small pot were ready to go. And that was all fine and dandy.

But then there is my mind. And there is the temptation of technology which lures my mind to find out MORE. And there are plenty of justifiable reason to acquire more of that information.

Online, I have my list of websites to check:
weather.com for weather updates,
drivetexas.org for road conditions, and
harriscountyfws.org for current rain totals and to check flooding of bayous.
I also have Facebook, this blog, and various Houston news websites to check for more information regarding 'stuff'. Oh and I cannot forget email and Instagram and my phone to keep up with people.

With moderation, all of this information can be utilized in a healthy way. But what I didn't think about - these past 48 or so hours - was that with the ever-changing weather [I had 11 flash flood or tornado warning alerts sounding off on my phone yesterday and so far 9 for today] is that with each new cellphone prompted Emergency Alert I would want to go research, as per their advice to check local media for more information. And sometimes I would get distracted by OTHER information or updates on this ever changing atmospheric situation. The net result of ALL of this informational harvesting is that I am - somewhat - NUMB.

Perhaps it is a good thing. Perhaps it will allow me to sleep better tonight, even if more alarms sound off in the night. Perhaps it will get me to go rearrange bedroom furniture or go color or work on one of my crafting projects, or run another load of laundry, or...   :-)

I am BLESSED! I am SAFE! I am thanking God DAILY that He has me HERE, right now! Yes, my home needs repairing and updating... but it is standing. And yes, my lawn needs mowing and the beds some sculpting... but they are not under several feet of water. The rain continues to pour down outside but we are dry inside. I don't know what the future holds, but I know Who holds my future... and that, my friend, is enough.

RLR

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Battlefield

An invading army approaches, its job to expand and to conquer new territory.

Confronting it is a second army, whose job it is to defend that same territory.

And so the battle rages, and the temperature rises, and the land aches and groans because of the battle taking place.

The land itself tries to help the defending army, by drowning and by expelling members of the invading army or by limiting the use of resources in order to help the defending army.

Yet the battle rages on, and the land waits for a positive end so that life can continue on as it did before the battle began. Until that time happens, it rests.

I am a battlefield.

RLR
8/2/17
[sick with the flu]

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Confessions of a Heel Striker: Part 1 - (re)Learning How to Walk

I thought that perhaps it was yet another part of aging (along with this slow weight gain as my body becomes more pear shaped, and the increasing aches and pains resulting from misuse of certain muscles and joints over the past 51 years of my life) and so I put up with it. Intermittent heel pain - everyone has that now and then - right? You know, some people say that you can lose padding on the bottom of your feet and without that cushioning one could expect a little pain and so as long as it doesn't get too bad I shouldn't have to concern myself with seeing a doctor about it. At least that is what I told myself.

But the pain in my left heel came more often. I got used to getting out of bed in the morning and taking a few steps in pain (both feet, but stronger in my left foot). But then it got to where the same would happen after sitting down to watch a little television, even for only 15 to 20 minutes. I knew that I was a heel striker and chose to blame it on the ‘glide step’ from high school marching band (TB, reach out 22.5 inches with your foot, land on the heel and roll around the outside of the foot towards the toe, one foot in front of the other) which turned into a heel-striking one foot in front of the other reaching out in front of you style of walking. And so I thought that perhaps what I needed to do was to teach myself to land on my forefoot with each forward reaching step and I practiced it diligently. But the pain continued, and then the tendon on top of my left foot became enflamed, and I began SERIOUSLY CONSIDERING a visit to a doctor’s office and even posted the name of one in my room.


And yet... I had noticed that if I squeezed the sides of my heel the pain would fluctuate, and that massaging all around the foot would help, as would massaging the calf muscle and so I wasn't ready to go see a doctor when I felt that there was more self-help which I could do. It was at this time - almost 2 weeks ago that my daughter showed me information posted at www.xeroshoes.com relating to walking (incorrectly) and heel striking and of various foot ailments which could just be a result of walking and running incorrectly in shoes which don't allow the feet to freely move, and of bad form in walking and/or running. The information made sense and I was curious to at least TRY their Venture sandals and see if correcting my gait could lesson the pain I was in.


The shoes arrived May 8th. Within 3 days there was minimal pain left in the tendon on top of the foot, and I was no longer hobbling whenever I began to walk. Of course trying to learn to NOT reach forward with your foot (using your quadriceps and flexing your foot thereby creating a heel strike) and instead allowing your hamstrings and gluteus muscles to tighten and propel you forward (walking under and behind your body) is not easy and feels quite awkward and ungainly (although it really doesn't look as weird as it feels like it does). I had to teach myself how to relax my foot when taking a step, thereby allowing the toe to drop down (similar to how your foot is positioned before stepping UP onto something) and limiting the possibility of landing on my heel. Even the motion of my hips has changed in that I am no longer swinging one foot around and in front of the other but instead am stepping down and then allowing the hip to shift to the outside, thereby centering my body over that foot (using a SlackBlock helps with improving balance). The hips are still moving side to side, yet the movement is different. Yes, it feels awkward: like a little child tottering side to side while learning how to walk for the first time, but being able to walk around pain free makes the work worth it.


So here I am, having completed 8 days with the shoes. The tendon issue has cleared up. I am not taking painful steps when I get up in the morning. And despite needing to spend a couple of different days spending a few hours running errands, about 75% of the pain is gone from my left heel. Yes, there is still some pain, but it takes time for deep bruising to heal (and my doing a 1 mile ‘slappity-slap’ run/walk 4 days ago, before I had read HOW to properly run, probably didn't help but that is for part 2 of this post). Yet despite my own mistakes, there has been some DEFINATE improvement in my health! Yes, the first few days were TIRING since I had muscles (lower back, backside, calves, arches) which were out of shape but toning those muscles also improves one’s appearance, which is a good thing and thereby incentive to keep at this. I am learning to walk, and even to run fairly quietly (slap-slap means you’re probably heel-striking) and to really focus on my form and which muscles are tightening/relaxing at a given moment. And with all of this, I am amazed and thankful to God that He answered my prayer for healing (of my foot) by providing the information and resources I needed to correct the CAUSE of my foot pain. It’s going to take work and dedication on my part, but if I want to try running again it is what I will have to do... and the results are certainly worth it!

Blessings on your day,
Rachel ><>