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 ><>

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Saying 'Goodbye' to an Old Friend

October 2016:
We first met her outside of an auction-house near Katy, Texas in the early spring of 1996. Her owner had asked the auctioneer if he could add her to the list of items being offered that Saturday morning [and said something about it being a matter of keeping her or keeping the furniture currently in lay-away... and that his wife had won]. While not looking to get into the antique automobile hobby, something about her shape - the sleek curves of her black body, along with all of that chrome - just touched a part of each member of my family and we mutually agreed to bid on her, as long as her price didn't go too high. As luck/fate/life/God would have it, the only other bidder was a teenager who wanted to hot-rod her and we were able to save her from that fate. A few hours later, I found myself driving our Honda sedan behind her while my husband steered her towards home with our daughter in the co-pilot seat. That same day we began to affectionately call her ‘The Tank’ and a sweet relationship began.

Once home, the work of researching and learning about her pedigree began. Prior to that day, I had never heard of a LaSalle automobile. I didn't know of its intertwined history with sister-marquee Cadillac, nor that it was created for and made by the Cadillac division of General Motors in order to bridge the price gap between Cadillac and Oldsmobile beginning in 1927. I had heard of Harley Earl but had not realized that he was hired by GM to design the LaSalle and just how innovative some of his design processes were. I was, however, familiar with the jingle associated with the television show ‘All in the Family’ but had not been able to understand the word ‘LaSalle’ from the phrase ‘Gee, our old LaSalle ran great. Those were the days.’ And I soon learned how accurate we had been by naming her ‘The Tank’ when I found out that it was the 322 cubic inch flat-head V8 engine [like the one used in the 1940 LaSalle, which she happened to be] which was utilized to power each of the two tracks in the military tanks which GM would be building during World War Two.

Meanwhile, Kent was busy researching the Cadillac/LaSalle automotive club and we had the privilege of becoming founding members of the Gulf Coast Chapter within a month of her purchase. Learning that the Grand National meet was to be in Dallas in June of that year, work to get her road-worthy began in earnest. New wide white-wall tires were located and sent to Discount Tire for installation [every employee had to help and they even painted the rims for us], a new gas tank replaced the one leaking from wear by the straps which held it in place, and replacement cork seals and gaskets were acquired and installed on the engine with only days remaining before we had to make that long drive through the Texas heat [without air conditioning and trying not to exceed 50 to 55 mph since we were not sure what she could handle]. We made it to Dallas, only experiencing vapor lock once on the drive up there, and our sweet girl actually achieved enough points to tie for third in the Primary class for her division.

But it was there at the National meet that we really caught the ‘antique car hobbyist bug’ and realized how much better she could become. So once back home, we set about getting her fully restored; down to bare metal and even having her full upholstery [including headliner] redone and allowing our restorer to take his time doing the work, thereby making the cost of it less taxing on our pocketbook, especially when it came to chrome work. Now while that aspect of the hobby was good, we had also started looking into getting a second toy to play with. Over the years, what that vehicle was changed with the final ‘garage sibling’ being a 1928 LaSalle roadster - and we collectively called them our ‘bookends’ [LaSalle was 1927-1940 and our cars were 1928 and 1940].

Our life as a family got busier. Kent’s occupation demanded more of him, we were active with the various sports our daughter played, and well... life just happened. Eventually The Tank spent most of her time waiting quietly in the garage and her last time being shown in a car show was in 2008. While not ‘flashy’, she [still] has a classic beauty and elegance of lines which endear her to me even today.

She deserves to be out in public, educating the world about that time in history [she has a paper bumper sticker in her back window for the person who ran against Roosevelt for president in 1940, and books and games from that year and/or era which stay with her]. She needs to be driven regularly by someone who is both willing and able to give her that time and to work on her as needed. She needs more than I can giver her, despite how much I still care for this dear car who has been a part of my life and my family for the past 20+ years. But in these years other things have happened; Kent has died, Lindsey has grown up, the ‘28 is with a new owner, and it hurts too much keep ahold of her while at the same time my heart is aching from the process of letting her go, despite knowing that it is what is best for her.

May 2017:
Now here I am, seven months later, and still in awe of what God has done with regards to The Tank since I wrote the words above. The pain of letting her go was replaced with a peace and calm, knowing that God would work things out. I didn't actively look for a new owner, but I also didn't sway from mentioning that I WOULD sell her (if someone were to inquire about her when they saw her sitting in the garage while I worked on the yard) - you know, ‘right person, right price’ kind of situation. Yet I also looked at POSSIBLE businesses (i.e. town car and limousine services) who I would consider contacting (when/if prompted by God to do so) to see if they would be interested in buying her. But that didn't happen.

Instead, God decided to show just how much of a ‘weaver of the details of our lives’ He actually is. It was on a Friday in late February that I was doing yard work (the plan HAD been to mow the previous day but I was ill and had to put it off a day) and  I had the garage open with my little car parked literally in the center of the 2-car driveway. I was watering the yard when a man in a pickup truck stopped and asked if the ‘65 Mustang (my daughter’s car, bought as a ‘shared interest between her and her dad’ vehicle and sitting next to The Tank) in my garage was for sale. I said ‘yes’ and he asked to take a closer look. Short story: he liked what he saw and made an offer which my daughter accepted. Now the INTERESTING part is that this man lives an hour’s drive away and had only happened upon my street because he had made a wrong turn while visiting a relative in the area. We agreed that he could pick up the car the next day.

Saturday, he shows up with his father-in-law (also living an hour away, but in a different direction, and also with an interest in and love of restoring vehicles) to pick up the Mustang. This second gentleman begins to ask about the LaSalle and I shared what I knew. He then makes me an offer for the vehicle which I accepted, after hearing how he feels about antique cars and how they need to be driven at least weekly, and after seeing pictures from another vehicle he had restored. I knew that this would be the right home for The Tank. By the end of Sunday, my garage was empty of (antique) cars and there was a calm and peace in the air.

Even now, I look out into the garage and am in awe of how God orchestrated the events to give those two cars new homes. The timing was right, the new homes were right, and God showed me - once again - how He has everything in control with regards to how He is planning and executing the timing of events in my life. “Patience, my child” he whispers gently to me while showing me how He is much better at answering prayers than I can even begin to imagine. And I am going to keep praising Him for it!

Rachel ><>

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Now I Wake Up

Now I wake up, free from harm,
a kitty's head upon my arm.
This 'kitty-ball' (adorable sight)
has stayed with me throughout the night
while You - my Lord - watched over me
just like you'll do for eternity.

Thank You for a Peaceful rest,
for that, I feel I'm truly blest;
and for a pillow under my head,
covers over my feet, and my very own bed.
Remind me, Lord, that these things too
are gifts to me (Your child) from You.

And now, before I start my day,
I take this time to stop and pray:
to Thank You for the things You've done,
to ask for strength for the race I'll run,
for protection of people dear to me,
and forgiveness of any sin you see.

Please guide me as I live this day;
the things I do, the words I say,
the thoughts I think - You know them too -
please keep them focused just on You
for Yesterday is in the past
and Today [some day] will be my last.

Rachel
May 3, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Little Man

For Miles... 1/7/17 - 3/18/17

Beautiful:
You reminded us how precious life is, and how beautiful a life is while it is still 'being formed' by God.

Obedient:
It was your job to arrive before your anticipated due date. Obediently, you endured all that God asked of you in order that the faith-walk of others might be strengthened while sharing in your journey.

United:
People, far and wide and otherwise disconnected from each other, united and prayed together for your healing and for strength for your parents. God answered, and continues to answer, both prayers.

Now:
God has now given you a new body in which you can now praise Him!

Trust:
Just as you - as a soul in an earthly shell - trusted God each moment of your life here, so we must follow your example and do the same.

Yearning:
While we miss you, and others who have gone 'Home' already, we know that this world is not our home and that by accepting the eternal gift of life offered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ we may be assured that this yearning which we feel inside will one day come to an end when we are all reunited in Glory and can then understand the Bounty of God's love for each one of us.

Rachel Leigh Rowald
3/21/17

Monday, March 20, 2017

Ten Days

Ten days of asking:
- "How much longer?" / 'Two days', or 'three days' being the answer.

Ten days of calculating:
- the timing for paying bills or preparing for taxes.

Ten days of wondering:
- "Why more time?" "What's really going on?"

Ten days of finding:
- other ways to pay bills so that I am not overdue.

Ten days of frustration:
- without a secure alternative for printing up documents.

Ten days of silence:
- no email [no smartphone], no online news, no updates.

Ten days of planning:
- how long I can afford to remain disconnected like this.

Ten days of waiting:
- and of learning to embrace the silence and isolation.

Ten days of realizing:
- how much time I've wasted, and will not in the future.

Ten days of internet disconnect:
- and the blessing which it became.

Rachel

Friday, March 3, 2017

Old Kitty

I go in to check on you - once again - as you snuggle up against Lindsey, under the covers, trying to keep your old bones and joints warm. Her room is the warmest, with its large east-facing window where you spend each morning after spending your night guarding me. Usually just sunning yourself there is enough, but not today. Today you need the extra warmth, but whether it is because of the change in air pressure due to the rain which is expected tomorrow or from your own aging, I don't know. Time may tell.

You've been an amazing gift from God to me. You came into my life a year before someone very dear to me would move out. You were patient with me as I learned how to reach out to you - how to make the initiative to love and to care for you - during a time in my life when I only wanted to close up even more. You were patient: kindly insistent in your directions while overcoming your own mistrust of people due to having been abandoned by your previous family - left behind with a collar still on your neck, for which people mistook you for having a home and not being in need of food. It wasn't until we could get close enough by bribing you with food [and ignoring your hisses] that we could see just how gaunt you were.

And then you chose me.

It's been an interesting journey, these past 6.5 years. The longer you are with me, the more the idea of you one day 'crossing the rainbow bridge' hurts. But as long as you do not suffer [any more than whatever you already have had to endure in your past] then I will do my best - with God's help - to provide the best home possible. You've been someone to hold and hug when I am hurting, comforting me with your purrs and chinning, and letting your fur absorb my tears. You've kept me in bed when I've been sick. You've been a 'chill out' buddy to watch movies with, begging for a little cheese from nachos or a chance to lick leftover butter from the empty popcorn bowl. And I have indulged.

But today... today is another one of 'those days.' Today is why I list my occupation as "feline masseuse" and why I do more than just 'pet' your fur in order to try to alleviate the soreness of your old joints. Today is another one of those days when I notice a few more white hairs around your eyes or in other places, the additional lightening of areas of your fur from black/brown to merely brown, and the thinning of fur in places where you lick excessively since it is your only way to massage the muscles. Today is when you are indulged to cuddle and stretch out under a blanket - so I can hum with my lips pressed against the back of your neck as my way of purring to comfort you.

And so... Meester, Old Man, Papa, Mister Belvedere, Little Buddy, Butt-head, Little Prince, Ninja Cat ... all I can  do is to Thank God for allowing you to be a part of this season of my life. You are the first cat which I have been able to call 'mine', you have surprised me with your intelligence and understanding of things [such as mirrors and laser pointers], and you have freely given affection and tolerance to the other members of this household. I don't know how much longer God has planned for us to share, but as long as you don't suffer or feel abandoned between now and the end of our time together, then ok.

Momma  >'x'<
[Rachel Leigh Rowald]