Friday, January 30, 2009

Semper Fi

I went for a follow-up appointment with the doctor today about my wrist-thumb ailment, which, by the way, is WAY better. I am healed and don’t need to see him again unless I find myself un-healed. Yay.

A trip to his office is a 45-minute drive from our house. The office is also much closer to civilization than our house is, so when we make the trip through the swamp to get there, we make it worth the gas. We try to shop and eat and see as much as we can while we’re there. Today was no different.

After my brief appointment, we headed a little further south for lunch at a new restaurant we had heard about. On the way, we passed the entrance to Parris Island.

I forget I live close to the place where they make Marines.

Every now and then when it is Boot Camp Graduation Day, we sometimes see the young (VERY young) uniformed men and their parents having lunch at some of the fast food places in our little town. They stop here for a quick lunch on their way back home for their first and most likely brief visit as a bone fide soldier.

I never think about them again until the next Graduation Day when I see another class and their parents having hamburgers at Wendy’s.

It’s on those days that I realize just how unaware I can be. I mean, I think Parris Island is a big deal, isn’t it? I’m sure any Marine would agree. So, here it is practically in my back yard and I forget it’s there until I drive by it or see those brand new soldiers.

I’m so unaware. I have more proof of that too…

Apparently, yesterday there was an earthquake in South Carolina. The epicenter was only 30 minutes from my house. I had no idea. I only learned of it when I heard the DJs talking about it on the radio this morning. And, this is the second earthquake here in one month’s time. Who knew??

I know there is a fault line that runs through South Carolina, but like Parris Island, I never think about it. Ever.

I don’t want to believe that I am so unaware, so clueless, so insensitive to the world around me. I’d rather think of myself as on top of things, up to date, on the cutting edge.

Alas, I must admit I am not.

I want to be culturally relevant and technologically savvy.

I try, but it all moves so fast and I can’t keep up.

Marines. Earthquakes. There are powerful forces all around me. They move and shake and change the world, and there is not much I can do about any one of them. The only thing I can do is to train my mind to be more aware that they are really there. Hopefully that will at least mentally prepare me if I ever have to meet one of them face to face.

So, I’m chaining my way of thinking. Now, when the earthquake they’ll call “The Big One” rattles the South Carolina soil, I’m going to be looking for some of those strong, young Marines from Parris Island to come and dig me out of the rubble.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:11-13

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'll have what she's having

Yesterday was a really long day. Sundays always are. First, there’s all the stress of getting ready for church and trying to get there on time. Then, there’s church. After that, my afternoon responsibilities are scheduled in one hour increments. Part of what makes the afternoon so long is that I have several assignments in a row and not one of them is in the same location. I have to do what I came to do, get in the car, drive to the next place, do what I came to do, get in the car again, drive to the next location, on and on. All in an hour’s time each. It’s a beat the clock kind of afternoon.

By 7:30 p.m. I was pooped. And I had a wicked headache, which had been building all afternoon. All the meetings and such were over, but then it was time to eat again. Planning meals and making dining decisions is such an ordeal, especially when you’re trying to make healthy choices and you’re tired and you have a headache and nothing quick and easy is healthy. I can only manage to actually cook one real meal a day (if that much). The other two meals are usually something that come already cooked and packaged in plastic, paper, or aluminum can.

Since I cooked lunch yesterday, I wasn’t going to cook again. My headache was confirming that. And, my throbbing head was also confirming that I truly did really need to eat something. But it was almost already 8:00 p.m.

We finally scourged the food demons by scrounging through the cabinets and coming up with a can of tomato soup (which is my ultimate comfort food), multi-grain saltine crackers (which are surprisingly tasty), and peanut butter. Oh, and two Advil.

After that I just wanted to veg on the couch in front of the TV and wait for my headache to subside. Trouble is, there was NOTHING on TV that was worth watching. I flipped through all the channels. I stopped on a couple of movies, but I just couldn’t get interested in them. There are certain channels that I always go to first (Scott says those are the very ones he skips over – but that’s a post for another day). The ones I always check out first are the Food Network, the Discovery channel, A&E, TLC, the Game Show Network, the Travel channel, and sometimes Animal Planet. Even my favorite channels seemed dull.

I kept flipping by this one program, watching for a minute or two, and then moving on. I didn’t really want to watch it because it freaks me out a little. But finally, with no other options and considering that I didn’t want to get up off the couch and do anything else, I went back to TLC and the Duggars with 18 and Counting.

Good gracious. Do y’all watch that program? Usually, I can’t watch it. It’s just too many little children in one house. And they all seem to be so happy about it all. And they homeschool. I know their family mission statement probably says something about showing the world how wonderful it can be and to inspire others and I admire that. Admiration I have, but inspiration I do not. I’m just thankful that, well, there aren’t 18 children living in my house.

Good heavens, I can’t imagine if I had to feed 18 kids at 8 PM on a Sunday night after a day full of activities and with a mammoth headache on top of that. How many cans of tomato soup would it take? Now THAT gives me a migraine.

The thing that sucked me in to watching some of the program last night was the wedding of the oldest Duggar son. Their entire story is remarkable. Their commitment to Christ, family, and purity is rare these days, and especially for single 21-year olds. It seems like their whole courtship and engagement was based entirely on faith and following God’s leadership.

I thought about that young couple all night long. Part of me wanted to say to them, “You have no idea what you’re doing.” The other part of me wished I was more like them, trusting God absolutely and completely for their future.

I woke up this morning still thinking about them. I realize now that I’m the one who really has no idea what I’m doing when it comes to planning and preparing my meals, much less my future. So, I’m going to try not to take on so much for myself, and let God do more.

So, God, what’s for supper?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Word of the day: CHANGE

There used to be a commercial on TV (I can’t remember who/what it was advertising) where a couple digs underneath their sofa cushions for all the loose change and comments about how that is their retirement savings account. Scott and I both related to that commercial because neither one of us thinks we will ever be able to retire. We’re just going to have to keep on working until we die. I’ll probably be the little old lady working as a grocery store check-out clerk who is s-o-o-o slow and wants to chat about all your purchases. Scott thinks maybe if he ever gets out of church work, he might be able to get a job at a funeral home. That would make it convenient. You know, for the end. We will probably truly need the employee discount.


That commercial resonated with us so that we started calling the jar on our dresser our “retirement fund” and it stuck. We’ve been calling it that for several years now. It’s our loose change jar. It’s actually a tall, tropical drink glass with a round bottom and bell-like top. We throw all our change it there instead of carrying it around in our pockets.

It was almost full so yesterday I emptied it and began counting and rolling nickels, dimes, pennies, and quarters. I finished up today. The total dollar amount came to $78. I bet if we had let it go until it was completely full it would have held exactly $100. For some reason, I just had to get that change counted and summed up today. We can start over tomorrow with an empty jar.

On a totally unrelated note, it snowed in the South Carolina Lowcountry today. While it’s not completely foreign, snow is not all that common around here. It snowed lightly all afternoon. Most of it melted as it hit the ground, but some of it stuck. I had snow on my car when I left the office and headed home. When I got home, my roof was lightly covered with it. The white roof really brightened up the whole place. Our roof is usually always shadowed by trees. The clean, white snow was a pleasant surprise and quite nice for a change. The snow will most likely be gone before nightfall. We’ll wake up tomorrow to a sunny forecast.

And on a third not really related note either, I watched the live feed of the presidential inauguration today while I was at work. I was alone in the office. The postman came to deliver the mail and he stayed and watched with me a while. Honestly, I was so over the whole election thing long before I even was able to cast my vote back in November, so I just wasn’t in with all the hype of the ceremonies today. I must admit, however, that seeing all those people in the Capitol mall was striking.

There were an estimated two million Americans there for what I saw was one common purpose – to transfer power to a new leader. The amazing thing is that the power and authority changed from one man to the other without force, without military action, without gunfire, without coercion. That is really is no small thing. Regardless of who our president is today, or was yesterday, we live in a remarkable country.

Our sovereign God has allowed Obama to be placed in the position as leader of our country. Since God has allowed it, then He also has a purpose in it that can be used for His glory. Of course, President Obama’s key component for his campaign was ‘change’. Maybe it’s those changes that Obama envisions that will be used to fulfill God’s purpose. Or, maybe the change that will come will be in President Obama himself.

I’m going wake up tomorrow and the grey, snowy clouds will have changed to sunshine. I’ll take my $78 in coins to the bank and have the teller exchange them to dollar bills for me.

But I’ll still be the same person I was yesterday.

Maybe I should take my own words to heart. There are some things I could change to help make myself a better person. Who knows, maybe there are two million Americans out there waiting for someone like me to make a change that makes a difference.

A changed man can change the world. Especially if he’s been changed by the One who never changes.

I the Lord do not change. Malachi 3:6

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thumbs up!

It’s been one week since I went back to the doctor about my wrist /thumb problem.

He took one x-ray, saw something weird, and then took two more x-rays. And, I failed the Finkelstein test. Apparently my scaphoid is about twice the length of a normal one. Since I have no recollection of any trauma that might have caused it to heal abnormally, the doctor said he would classify it as a congenital deformity. That oversized scaphoid is most likely thrusting my other wrist bones into abnormal positions, which might be why my left pisiform visibly protrudes significantly more than my right one. And all of that may or may not be contributing to my DeQuervain’s disease, which is where the pain is coming from and the main reason I haven’t been able to use my thumb like I should.

Allrightythen. Are you impressed with my medical terminology?

I got my medical degree online. Thank you very much.

Anyway, at least I know what my problem is now.

The treatment? Well, the nice doctor prescribed a Cortisone shot. In my wrist.

The last time I got an injection to aid in the mobility of a small body part, that body part overreacted big time. Granted, it wasn’t Cortisone last time and I was trying to get something to stop moving so much instead of trying to make it easier to move. Still, I was a little leery.

I was, however, tired of dealing with a bum thumb, so I opted for the shot.

I’m not usually too much of a pain wimp, but OUCH, that thing hurt. He put some kind of analgesic on my wrist first, so the initial stick wasn’t bad. It’s all that moving around the doctor did with the needle once he got it in there that made me moan. Afterwards, I asked Scott, who had been sitting out in the waiting room, if he heard me scream.

As I started out saying, it’s been a week since then. Yes, I do believe that the injection helped. There is less pain and swelling and more mobility. How about that?! I do have a bruise on my wrist that looks a little bit like I have been abusing myself, but it is already in the fading phase.

It really was only just a few seconds of pain from a needle, and it’s made a world of difference for the better.

Sometimes it takes that, you know. Pain and suffering. To get to the other side where things are better.

My friend Ginger put it in perspective for me yesterday. She looked at my bruised wrist and winced at the thought of a needle in it. Then she commented about how much more it must have hurt to have a stake driven through your wrist and pinned to the wooden beam of a cross.

All for the glory of what’s on the other side.


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. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Oh, my word, the one word is the Word

Right after the New Year began, I read a post at Take 90 West where Lisa talks about not making New Year’s resolutions. After years of planning to wake up and be perfect on Jan. 1 and then, of course, failing, she’s given up making those resolutions. Instead, she’s chosen a word, one word, to focus on for the New Year. She picked a word that she believes will impact her life. She chose the word ‘forgive.’ (it’s a great post – you should go over there read it for yourself).

When I read her post, it immediately reminded me of something I had read in a book several months ago. Something about a “one word” kind of Bible study or prayer method or something like that. Trouble is, I could not remember for the life of me where I had read it. I couldn’t remember the book title. I couldn’t remember the author. All I could remember was the general idea of the one word study.

I spent the next two days driving myself crazy trying to figure out where I had read it. I wanted to go back and read it again. I looked through my book shelves at home. I looked through the book shelves in Scott’s office. I looked through my old orders. Nothing jumped up and said, “This is it!” Nothing.

In bed last Tuesday night, but not asleep yet, I prayed, “Lord, bring it to my mind.” I knew there was something to this whole one word thing and I wanted to go deeper.

The next day at choir rehearsal I noticed the lyrics of one of the songs we were practicing were written by Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin. The names caught my eye because we had just watched Louie Giglio’s Fruitcake and Ice Cream video with another group at church just a couple of days before. Giglio is not a name you just gloss over (plus, the video’s pretty much WOW and not easily forgotten either). So, when I saw his name on the music I said something about it out loud.

That prompted Scott to say something about I am not but I know I AM, which is a book written by Giglio. Which then prompted me to squeal with delight because God had answered my prayer right then and there. That was it. That was the book that talked about the one word study.

I could hardly wait to get back to Scott’s office and pull that book off the shelf. Sure enough, right there beginning on page 57. The scripture he studied one word at a time was John 1:14
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Giglio took one word of that scripture per day, studied, meditated, and prayed about that one word. All day long.

He started with the word and. By the end of that first day, he realized and was more than just a conjunction. Well, and is never the end. Something always follows and. There is more to come. We have so much more to look forward to in Jesus! Oh, that gets me excited!

Giglio’s revelation on the word became was even more simple and profound. As he studied the word became, he began to see it was a compound word. Two words: Be. Came. I Am – the present tense, active form of the verb, to be. The great I AM—became. BE. Came. I AM CAME!

That, of course, affected his study on the word beheld. Be. held. Be held. He did what?....He held. Do you see it? Can you feel it? The great I AM holding you? Arms full of grace and truth, holding you?

The one word study of that particular verse really gives me the perspective that God, the great I AM, truly is the one that has traveled the distance just to get me. And He’s traveled not just the distance between heaven and earth, but between life and death.

Sometimes I take that distance for granted.

Sometimes I think I try to convince myself (and unfortunately I sometimes I succeed!) that I’m the one doing all the traveling. I get so weary on the journey. My feet hurt. I get impatient with other travelers. I get so tired of trying to follow and understand all the road signs. The voice on my GPS gets obnoxious and repetitive so I turn it off. I close my eyes for just a minute and I miss a turn. I get distracted when I take rest stop breaks. I need to stop for a snack. I’m whining “are we there yet?” And what about this suitcase I keep lugging around everywhere??!

All this started when I read a post that resonated with me about not being able to wake up perfect and be a different person on January 1.

And that led me to the reminder that I am not perfect; I am not but I know I AM.

And that reminded me that the journey I’m on is headed home, not anywhere else. The Great I Am came and made that way plain for me.

And that in the end, He will still be The One doing the traveling. He's coming again. To get me.




There is so much more.

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Revelation 1:7-8

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The twelfth of never

When we first moved to this little, rural, inconvenient town our thoughts were that we would be doing good if we could stay here five years. After that period of time, we imagined we would be at a good point in our lives age-wise and career-experience wise to then move on to our long term goal of the bigger and better place where we wanted to spend the rest of our lives. We saw this place as the means to that end. A not-so-attractive-but-necessary step to somewhere else. Dues, I guess you could call it.

Plus, these days and for the job my husband has, five years is about the average length to stay in one location. Eight or nine years is exceptional. He’s a minister in a Baptist church.

Yesterday marked his twelfth anniversary here.

Wow. Twelve years. Have we really been here that long?!

How significant is twelve?

Well, there are twelve days of Christmas.

Doughnuts come in dozens. Scott likes doughnuts.

Eggs come in cartons of twelve. Scott likes eggs too, especially when they’re used to make cakes and assorted baked goods. (do you need eggs to make doughnuts?).

The number is used fairly often in the Bible too:

12 sons

12 stones

12 brothers

12 pillars

12 springs of water

12 tribes

12 disciples

12 years of bleeding

12 baskets of food leftovers

Just to name a few. There are more references to 12 cubits, 12 thrones, 12 stars, 12 angels; it goes on and on.

I’m not sure what it means that we have managed to out-last our plans for ths place. Some days I’ve felt the stones and the bleeding. Some days have brought bountiful leftovers and life flowing like cool springs of water. None of it was planned, at least not by us anyway.

God brought us here. He’s the one that has kept us here too. We certainly couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it on our own. So, I’m not really making any more plans conerning the next twelve years. I’m leaving that up to God. I’ll stay until He says go. We are, after all, less than an hour from the nearest Dunkin Donuts. A dozen of those every now and then will help sweeten the wait. I don't think there will be twelve basketfuls leftover, though.

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My thumb is opposed to being opposable

Sometime back in early November I hurt the thumb/wrist on my left hand.

So, you say, how did you hurt your thumb, Nancy?

Well, funny you should ask.

This is the same arm that I had a bad case of tennis elbow on a couple of years ago. I haven't played one single set of tennis since then. Never mind that it had been years since I had played tennis when I first developed the elbow problem back then. And even if I had, I'm right handed. Trying to blame tennis elbow on my mean left-handed power serve was a little bit far fetched.

Maybe my left arm was just a little weak to begin with.

What I have done lately is a lot of typing. I certainly spend more time at the computer than I do on the tennis court. Have you ever noticed, however, that your left thumb is the only one of your ten digits that you do not use to type?

(Texting aside, of course. I'm talking about full size keyboards here. No, I don't text. I opted out of the whole cell phone phenomena and choose to remain unreachable that way. And as far as texting goes, all the abbreviated words bother me. Learn to spell, people. It could prove very useful one day.) [UPDATE...did you know that spellcheck does not recognize the word "texting." How about that?!]

OK, so back to my ailing thumb and wrist. How did it happen? My answer would have to be, I took a nap.

I was reclining on the couch, laying on my left side with my head in my left hand, propped up by my arm bent at the elbow. I dozed off for a while, woke up with a throbbing wrist. I guess my head got too heavy for my hand.

It's been hurting ever since.

After a couple of weeks in pain, I did finally go to the doctor. He gave me some drugs to take and a brace to wear for 10 days, which I did. I don't think it helped any. Over the Christmas holidays the pain seemed to get worse and I just wanted someone to chop my arm off. Surely, that would stop the throbbing. I made a follow-up appointment with the doctor, but he can't see me until this Friday.

Anyway, none of that is the worst part nor the main reason for this post. The trauma for me in all of this is that I have not been able to wear a watch. It hurts too much to have something strapped around my throbbing, burning wrist. Worse than that is the pain and agony of not knowing what time it is. Plus, I hate to be late. Oh the misery and anxiety of being late.

On top of that, I keep a monthly calendar on the wall of the hutch over my desk at work. It's strategically placed where I can quickly glance at it no matter what else I'm doing at my desk. I use the Outlook calendar on my computer to schedule and manage appointments and such, but the calendar on the wall lets me count at a quick glance how many days until payday, or whether the 15th is on a Monday or a Friday. I can look at it and get a quick picture in my mind of how the days fall without having to stop what I'm working on, click over to Outlook, etc.

Without a watch, I haven't found the time to buy a 2009 calendar. Now when I glance over there where one usually hangs, there is just a blank space. Even though I really liked the pictures on the 2008 calendar, I had to take it down because it was confusing me. I can no longer see how many more weekends there are until Valentine's Day. I can't see how many more days it will be until my order arrives.

While I am lost without a watch and a calendar, I suppose there are those who would say that the absence of those things frees them. Not knowing or caring about the time or the day is really the way of a carefree lifestyle. Now, if only I could use my throbbing thumb to hitch a ride down the scenic highway out of town. Maybe then I could get used to the timeless, dateless, carefree lifestyle.

I'm looking for more freedom and relief and scenic highways this new year. How about you?

"But today I am freeing you from the chains on your wrists. Come with me to Babylon, if you like, and I will look after you; but if you do not want to, then don't come. Look, the whole country lies before you; go wherever you please." Jeremiah 40:4