Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The pressure is on

The pressure is on.

If the Texas Aggie women want to be the best, they have to beat the best. The road to the Final Four goes through the Baylor Bears tonight, at the NCAA Southwest Region championship in Dallas.

Last weekend I heard commentators say all the pressure is on 1-seed Baylor since they've won the two teams' first three meetings this year. How terrible would it be for them to lose now, when it matters the most. And because of those three previous meetings, the 2-seed Aggies know all about the Bears, according to the commentators.

But I think there's just as much or more pressure on the Aggies. Baylor's players know they can beat the Aggies. The Aggies won't know for sure they can beat Baylor until they actually do it. So I guess there's a lot of pressure on both sides.

For me, the pressure is whether to record the game. It seems teams I follow are less likely to win when I record the game. But I know I won't be able to watch it at work, and if it's as good as the first three games (except for the final score on those), I would like to be able to see it. And especially if/when the Aggies win. I would love to watch that team and coach cut down the nets!

Good friends assure me that my decision to record or not will have absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the game. In fact, the main effect it would have is the positive one of me not being as distracted at work tonight. So, I'm going to record.

The pressure is on. Gig'em Aggies! You can do this!!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Random observances, perhaps with some similarities

It's blog deadline day, and I have some time while I wait for a phone call to be returned. So I'm just going to make a quick post about some seemingly random occurrences and observances, perhaps with some similarities. There's a pretty good chance I'll revisit some of these thoughts later.

-- Habits 1: My husband and I went to On the Border for dinner Saturday. It's not a place we usually go, but we had a $30 gift card and decided to use it. For some reason, when I go out to eat, it's become second nature for me to find the least expensive thing on the menu that I think will satisfy me. At Mexican restaurants, that's usually the tortilla soup. It works well, because it's the right amount (coupled with chips and salsa) and I like it very much. But when I looked at the menu, some of the combos really sounded interesting, including one of the fish tacos. But I ended up going with the soup and a house salad. When we got our bill, it was just a little over $22. That didn't leave enough on the card for another trip, but it seemed like too much to leave for a tip. After some discussion, my husband and I decided to leave all of it as the tip. After we left, I wondered why I didn't go ahead and "splurge." As I was feeling a tinge of regret, the thought occurred to me: Maybe the waiter needed that extra bit of cash. That thought makes me smile. And I liked what I had, so why even give it a second thought?

-- Habits 2. Whether it be chewing too much gum or some other reaction to stress that I know will make a situation worse (overeating, procrastinating), sometimes I think I'm the only one who does crazy stuff. But then I think a little more and realize everyone seems to have various kinds of habitual weaknesses. But when I finally confess to someone one of my deep, dark weaknesses, it seems like it's still easy for the other to say just don't do it. That really aggravated me when it happened Saturday, but I can't shake the idea that it really is the answer. Just don't do it. If eating/drinking/chewing when I'm stressed makes the stress symptoms worse, I've just got to find a way to stop. I may have made a tiny step of progress toward this today.

-- Singing breakthrough? When I sing, I really want it to be about the song, not about me. I just want to share the song and not get in its way. As with so many things, that's easier said than done.

-- Heavenly awareness. On Saturday night, while thinking of a relatively young friend (couldn't be too much older than me) who died unexpectedly Saturday and also thinking about how grateful I am for my Dad's resilient health, the thought occurred to me: Am I looking forward to heaven? When people die, I'm one who, so far, pretty quickly can accept that they are at a better place. But I had the awareness that I don't feel eager for me or my family to be there. In the face of some Bible study I've been doing, and maybe just growing older, I have to wonder about that. So many things I read suggest that people of great faith really have such great love for Jesus that, even while they enjoy their family and friends and time on Earth, they really do have a sense that they are just serving here and waiting for that glorious day. After Bible study Sunday, I mentioned my thoughts to the leader and asked if she's thought about that. She said she has, and she's ready. We had a good conversation. I think this is may be part of a very significant spiritual development for me. I'm not at that point of spiritual maturity yet, but I think I'm getting closer.

Monday, March 21, 2011


My Dad turned 85 yesterday (Sunday), and he's scheduled to get a pacemaker tomorrow (Tuesday). I'd say for someone with an irregular heartbeat, that apparently can get real slow sometimes nowadays, he's done a great job throughout life of keeping on keeping on and setting a good example for those who are watching, such as this daughter. And Mom's right there with him, day by day showing that life's too short not to stay active and treasure each moment.

I feel so blessed when I get to spend time with them, such as this past Saturday and Sunday. Mom had a get-together with some of the family Saturday at their house. Not all of the kids were there right then, but all had been by to visit in the past week. We all enjoy visiting each other, but it also seems good for Mom and Dad when we space out our visits rather than all come at once. Saturday was nice though. The weather was warm enough for people to sit around outside, on the north side of the house, shielded somewhat from the brisk south wind. As darkness fell, there was even a super moon to provide atmosphere! The dry weather and north Texas burn ban meant no candles on the cake, but that was OK, too.

Sunday brought worship with Mom and Dad, my brother and sister-in-law and one of their daughters, and a sister and brother-in-law and their daughter-in-law at the church we grew up in. I'd planned to be there ever since I realized Daddy's birthday was on a Sunday. I planned far enough ahead that I was able to provide special music, singing "His Eye Is on the Sparrow," filling a request for a church member who is also a relative. I may have even had a breakthrough singing there this time. It's where I grew up singing and wanting to sing, but somewhere along the way, I lost confidence. And even as I gained confidence singing other places, I'd become aware that when I sing during worship at Whaley, some of the old nervousness and doubt kicks in. But I prayed about it and really tried to just get lost in the words: Let not your heart be troubled/ His tender words I hear/ And resting in His goodness/ I lose all doubt and fear .... I sing because I'm happy/ I sing because I'm free/ His eye is on the sparrow/ And I know He watches me. I truly felt the joy and blessing of the song, and I'm grateful for that.

Besides the words of the song, I also was encouraged by another example from my pacesetter mom. She had set her mind to having Daddy's party at their house, even though it's not as roomy as some others that are pretty easily available. Even on Saturday, as the crowd grew, a comment was made that this could have been somewhere else. But Mom said she wanted to have it there, so Daddy didn't have to go anywhere. And she said she knew it would work. And it did. How I love that faith and spirit. I'm trying to hold onto it.

As for my Dad, in some ways he seemed as strong or stronger this weekend as I've seen him since his lung surgery last fall, and maybe for some time before that. The thought crossed my mind: Does he really need a pacemaker? But I do understand the need. And I appreciate that he and Mom are willing to do things to keep them as healthy as they can be. I'm still working to learn from that example for myself.

So, soon my pacesetting parents will have a pacemaker to help them out. (I say help them out because if it's good for Daddy, that's good for Mom.) Now I'll never be able to keep up! But I feel grateful and blessed for the pace they have set and my willingness to keep trying.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What it takes

Psalmcat 52:3.14.11

During two weeks of what seemed like futile efforts in battling a cold, sinus congestion, allergies or whatever, I sometimes found myself wondering: What's it going to take to get over this?

Well, I finally feel better, and a few thoughts come to mind.

Time. This was probably the most crucial thing. Lots of experts say this, but people including myself often don't accept it. I drive myself nuts trying to find the right combination of rest, food, over-the-counter drugs and wondering whether I should go to the doctor or just let it run its course. I did the best I could with those things, but I think it was the passage of time that contributed the most to healing.

Hope. Many, many mornings, afternoons, evenings and nights I found myself thinking I was feeling better. I was so determined to keep a good attitude. And I think that does help in the long run, even though it also may have hurt in some short terms, as I kept heading on to work ("I don't feel THAT bad") instead of staying home to rest the fourth and fifth days. Instead, I waited until the weekend, and I ended up spending three days in bed. In those days, hope dimmed noticeably, but it didn't fade away. And now what I had hoped for has come to fruition.

Rest. I always know this is essential, but I try so hard to work in the adequate rest for healing while still being able to go to work. Maybe this time I will learn. On Thursday at work, I was sure I shouldn't be there, but I didn't go home. The next day, I thought I felt better and went back to work. And within a couple of hours, I knew I shouldn't be there again, but I still kept working. That's what led to a Saturday through Monday in bed. And I think that was essential to eventually getting better. And I also think I might have gotten better sooner if I'd stayed home in bed sooner.

Water. I typically drink a lot of water, but when it comes to clearing this congestion up, I needed to drink even more. And now that I'm better, I need to keep drinking plenty of water. I'm reminded of this when I feel little residual sensations in my nose or throat. (Time for a gulp now!)

Encouragement. I feel like a wimp when I'm sick, and I'd prefer people not even know. I don't want to draw pity. But I cannot discount the healing power of the prayers and encouraging words and support and unconditional love of family and friends when I'm honest about what's going on with me.

Prayer. Pray without ceasing, in the good times and the bad, even when answers don't seem forthcoming. And of course, I couldn't just pray for myself. All that time in bed, much of it unable to sleep, gave me many opportunities to lift up family, friends and concerns at large to the care of the Almighty God.

Faith. Between my Disciple Bible Study readings and my daily readings from Beth Moore's "Praying God's Word Day by Day," I've been reminded of an element of answered prayer that I'm not sure I'd ever even realized. As Beth put it on March 1 (day 2 of my misery), "Whether or not we like the concept, Christ loves to respond to us according to our faith." And then she included examples in the Gospels where people expressed their faith before they were healed. As Beth says, "Lord, I want to be like the one to whom You said, 'Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.' (Matt. 15:28) Flourish this kind of faith in me, God!"

As usual, there are more things I could add, but I'm out of time. I'm just grateful and relieved to finally feel better. I continue to praise and thank God for His many blessings, including the love, support and encouragement of so many people in my life.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Birthday blessings and lessons

Psalmcat 52:3.11.11

I really wanted to post something on my birthday, and my mind is blank.
I am blessed, and my mind is blank.
I was going to post about birthday blessings and lessons, but my mind is blank.
So I guess I should just go to bed. (It's much later than the time stamp will show.)

OK. I can't quite let it go ...

One of the thoughts/lessons: There's a fine line -- and a huge difference -- between being self-aware (good for me) and self-absorbed (bad for me). I've been venturing too close to the side that's bad for me. I think it may be part of a process as I come to terms with some of the things I'm becoming aware of about how I am and possible reasons why. I want to learn and grow, but I guess this, like everything else, will take time.

One of the blessings: The love and support and encouragement of family and friends, no matter what.

The greatest blessing: God's great love, on my birthday and always.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Cold facts

I finally accepted that what I was experiencing was a cold when I realized its effect on the common-sense part of my brain: It froze!!!!!

I struggle with decisionmaking in many areas of my life, but one of the biggest struggles is in the area of sickness. The good news is that I'm not sick very much (thank you, God, and praying for continued health!). The bad news is that when symptoms start to appear, I don't seem to respond very well. The problem with my response typically isn't that I overreact and hibernate. Instead, I tend to discount the symptoms and rationalize that I'm not really sick. I self-analyze my symptoms and their onset, and I come up with what seems like a logical conclusion to me that it's probably just drainage resulting from pollen, that I'm not contagious, and I might as well go to work anyway. By the time I can't deny I was really sick, some of the gunk from the drainage has settled into my upper chest, and I feel worse than ever, with a nasty cough, runny nose, watery eyes, congestion, sore throat but somehow not much of a headache or other pain.

This time, the first symptoms showed up on Sunday, as I was unexpectedly very tired as I prepared to drive home from a weekend trip to Arkansas. But being tired made sense after a busy weekend, so I didn't think much of it. And even when I started to have a runny nose and drainage the next day, I truly thought it was sinuses or allergies, not a cold. I didn't have a cold or a fever. I didn't feel that bad. I might as well work. So I worked Monday. And Tuesday. By Wednesday, I was glad it was a short workday, thinking that if I skipped choir practice, I'd probably feel fine by Thursday. So, I'm not sure what happened Thursday morning, but looking back, I can tell that by then the common sense part of my brain had frozen. Because even though I obviously wasn't getting any better, I rationalized that I might be, and that I didn't want to leave people in a bind at work. And I didn't feel THAT bad, did I? By time I left work, I was pretty sure I felt pretty bad! But when Friday came, for some reason I decided I should work again. Same thought: I don't want to leave them in a bind. And even though midway through the 10-hour shift I knew I'd made a mistake in coming to work, I didn't leave, even as I could see they would have been OK without me.

So I reached the weekend hoping that by staying in bed except to eat and medicate on Saturday would turn the corner for me, so I'd be able to go to church. But I was wrong again. By Sunday morning, I could tell I didn't feel enough better to have any business going to church. So I'm still at the house. I hoped I might feel better by 4, so I might shower and go to my Bible study anyway. But I don't think that's happening, either.

So many issues. Among them ....

-- Why don't I go to a doctor? Because whenever I have gone, it hasn't seemed to help. Or that's how it seems from experience. But in this case, it occurs to me now that I probably should have gone when I wasn't better by Thursday. Now, however, I think I'm on the getting-better side, so I don't think I need to go. (Will I NEVER LEARN!!!!)

-- I have a good work ethic, and I'm proud of that. I don't miss work without a good reason, and I try to give reasonable notice. But there's a warp in my ethic when it comes to sickness, apparently. I don't want to leave people in a bind. I don't want to be a wimp. And I just never have a good feel for whether I really am sick.

-- Work is not my God, but when I look at the past week, I don't like the pattern I see about what I attended to every day (work) and the many things I let go, including recovery meetings, church, choir practice, Bible study, exercise and routine chores. My rationale is that everyone else has to fill in the gap at work if I'm gone, and church and everything else seems to go on fine without me, and that I'm the only one who suffers.

In hopes that this won't have been a wasted week, I'm trying to find some lessons in the experience. What is that line for me when I should recognize that I'm really sick and should stay home? How do I know when it's time to go to the doctor? What's the deal with my warped sense of priority toward not missing work? And where do I go from here? I feel some better, and think I'll be good tomorrow (hope springs eternal!!!!), but how will I ever catch up from getting so behind on everything except work?

I don't have answers right now, but this stuff (thoughts, not just the drainage) has been going on in my head all week, and it continues to be helpful to write it down. It's also crucial that I continue to pray and trust in God. Even in what seems like a wasted week, I can't forget to pray to know and do God's will, to His glory. I have to admit I think I did forget to pray along the way some. There is always so much to be grateful for. Writing about it, including the parts where I'm a bit embarrassed about how I deal with things -- and being able to put it out there for anyone who wants to read it -- keeps me moving forward. May I remain hopeful, grateful and faithful.