Sunday, January 29, 2017

The right place

This was one of those days when I wish I could have been two places at once. 

Earlier in the month, I had marked today's date on my calendar because I wanted to go with Mom to attend the open house for longtime family friends' new ranch house in the Gainesville area.

Shortly after marking that date, I learned my home church's annual chili cook-off and talent show would be that same day in Norman. Gene and I enjoy the chili, and I also like the chance to sing in a less-formal setting than worship and support the chili cookers and the other performers. 

I decided to stick with my original plan, because it was a one-time thing, and the talent show happens every year.

Along the way, more things came up at my church in Norman that I didn't want to miss. And I was having doubts, as I often do, about whether it really was worth the time and gas to make a one-day trip to Texas.

Nevertheless, I got up early this morning and headed south from Norman. I hadn't been at Whaley United Methodist Church in Gainesville long before I knew I was where I was supposed to be. My sister said the choir could use me. They just had one soprano and wondered if I could be a quick-study on the anthem. I love to be asked to sing, so I was eager to give it a try. The anthem was a rousing number, "Move That Mountain, Lord." The fact that the rest of the choir knew it already helped me learn it easily. I was glad to sing along. Adding to my sense of belonging was that, besides my sister's encouragement, one of the other choir members made it sound like it was an answer to prayer for me to be singing with them, something she wished could happen regularly! (And I would love to sing with that choir -- but I also want to sing with the choir at my church in Norman.)

It just so happened that the pastor was out of town, so the choir director gave the sermon. And the message was on faith that moves mountains. All it takes is the faith the size of a mustard seed. He had prepared cards for each person with a mustard seed taped to it. The message was filled with joy and strong guidance for making sure we have love, joy, prayer, peace, Bible study and faithful action in our lives. And seeing as how he was doing everything else to lead the service, he did just a bit of a tap dance! Talk about inspiring!

From there I went to lunch with Mom, two of my sisters, a brother-in-law, niece and her four kids. Then Mom and I headed to the open house on a ranch in a part of the country that is very near and dear to my heart. I can't find words right now to  express the thoughts and feelings it evoked. Friendship. History. Memories. Families. Love. Heritage. Gratefulness. Spirit. Laughter. Smiles. Hospitality. I had instinctively known I didn't want to miss it. My instinct was right.

And then I headed back to Norman. Even though the cities are about 120 miles apart, I was able to make it back to Norman in time for the talent show at Goodrich Memorial UMC, where I met up with my husband, who was already there for the chili cook-off/dinner. He was just finishing with helping to put away the tables and chairs, so we headed to the show, which offered an interesting variety of entertainment. Conversations with people afterward again had me feeling I was at the right place!

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am blessed to have two churches where I feel loved and very much a part of the family. I had the hardest time deciding which place to be, but as the day unfolded, I knew I was at the right place. I thank God for that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

No laughing matter

I sure hope I'm done with dentists for awhile. My drug-enhanced journey via a root canal was not quite the trip I expected. I'm pretty sure my anxious mind was overthinking what was going on, causing me to resist the effects of the nitrous oxide, at the same time I was hoping and praying the gas would take me to a happy place of lightness and laughter. 
At age 57 and after a lifetime of receiving dental work -- including cleanings, fillings, crowns, removal of wisdom teeth and, most recently, a root canal -- this was the first time I opted for the so-called laughing gas.
I'd always managed to be calm enough for the injection of the local anesthetic and, despite the physical discomfort of having to keep my mouth open wide and all the various poking and drilling (and the drill's mind-wracking sound), I never experienced real pain. In fact, typically, the worst pain came at the site of the injection after the anesthesia wore off.  

However, my anxiety had increased noticeably after my two most recent major procedures: my original root canal on Nov. 15, as well as the prep work Sept. 13 to replace a crown (the procedure that seemed to have started the whole ordeal on tooth #19). Sure, I had endured both of those, but I recalled some extremely tense moments.
Unfortunately, I continued to have pain after the root canal, and after several follow-up visits to my dentist, I was referred to an endodontist. During my consultation Tuesday, the endodontist quickly ascertained that the dentist, with his level of equipment, had failed to get all of my damaged roots treated and sealed. He said I needed more root canal work on the same tooth. He explained it in such a way that it seemed like the right thing to do.

The only dilemma: I would have to go through that again.
I kept thinking back to the previous experience. I remembered hearing the dentist react to various "surprises" that caused it to take much longer than he expected. I recalled how tense I felt, wondering if it was ever going to end, and how uncomfortable so much of the procedure was. I hadn't panicked, but I came closer than ever before. But I made it through.

Could I do it again? 

One thing that added to my angst was that the endodontist said he would have to drill through the crown. In the overall scheme of things, I'm not sure why that concerned me so much.  But my mind kept sticking on him saying that. And when my active mind gets stuck thinking about something, I'm using headed for trouble!
I had contemplated using nitrous oxide during dental work in the past, but the truth is, at those times I had about as much anxiety about the gas as I did the dental work itself. 
I know the stereotype is that it's all fun and games and makes everything wonderful. But my gut instinct was skepticism. The added cost, which my research showed me might be as much as $90, added to my reluctance to try it.
I figured I could discuss it when I got to my appointment at 8 the next morning (today, Wednesday). I found out it would cost $100. I was talked through the process and decided to go for it. I could call it a gift to myself. Or maybe research.

Although I didn't know what to expect, I'm pretty sure it didn't go at all like I expected. And yet, without a doubt, I am glad I chose to go for the gas. 
Because .... 
As I wrote in a text when I was finished but before I drove home: "If I had not had gas I think I would be dead. Done now but may wait to drive." Yes, that was an exaggeration. I wouldn't have died. But I would not have been good. 

Among other things, it was harder for the endodontist to drill through the crown than he expected. (As he was trying, and while I was wondering if the gas was going to start working, I heard him say it took a record number of burrs/cutters to get through it.) And then at some point, I heard him say later, the crown popped off.
Afterward, he said what he found when then crown came off was very little tooth structure. After doing the root canal work, he had to build up the tooth and add metal posts to support the crown. He marveled that the dentist had been able to get the crown to stay on.
He assured me it's fixed now. But if anything goes wrong now, the tooth will need to be extracted. I asked what I can do to prevent that? "Be gentle," he said.
So, the visit to the endodontist was no laughing matter. As for the gas, I'm not sure what I think of the experience. I still felt some tension and discomfort (not relaxed!), especially in the first 30 minutes or so and a few times in between. But considering the whole process took more than 2 hours, I think I would have been in a world of hurt -- or at least major mental distress -- without it. I think I have no awareness of what was going on for about an hour. Some of the times I had awareness had the sense of observing from outside my body. Through it all I heard classic rock music, for which I was grateful. (I hope this doesn't forever taint my enjoyment of the tunes of the Eagles, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac and others that accompanied me on this strange journey.)  I was aware at various times of the endodontist talking about the surprises he had encountered, such as how hard it was to get through the crown, and what was revealed later when the crown popped off!! 
He seemed confident he got it all taken care of. I hope and pray and have little doubt he is correct. In other words, I believe him. 
Now I'm just dealing with the post-procedure discomfort, especially the FOUR or FIVE places where local anethesia were injected. I'm grateful for strong pain reliever and that I didn't have a job to go to. And I'm grateful that little trip is over.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Maybe tomorrow

Sweet music of life.

I MUST SING! So why don't I?

I thought these words from my First 15 devotion this morning would get me back on track:  

But you have a choice today. A radical life of wholehearted love for God awaits you. It’s waiting for you right now. It doesn’t mean you have to pack your bags and head out on the mission field. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to lead someone to Jesus today. It could be as simple as opening your heart fully to God and allowing him to fill you with his love to overflowing. Commit your life to him in full surrender today. Respond to his leadership with a continual “yes” in your heart. Give yourself to him completely that your life would be marked by a wholehearted pursuit of the perfect, pleasing and powerful plans of your heavenly Father. .... 

... Now ask God to reveal to you how he wants you to live wholeheartedly today. He has a plan each day for you; one that will give you joy, passion, and peace on a whole new level you’ve yet to experience. There’s more for you everyday. 

... Ask the Spirit to help you live the life God has shown you. Ask him to fill you with a desire to be obedient and wholehearted in response to God’s love. Ask him to help you be aware of what he’s speaking to you and to walk in full obedience to it. Take time to rest in the presence of God.

I wrote down four people I would like to reach out to and truly thought this would lead me to visit at least one of the four, all of whom have been in my prayers. One is a person I want to sing to. But at the end of the day, I hadn't even called one person or sent a card, much less gone to visit. Maybe tomorrow.

I did sing around the house. But that's like hiding a lamp under a basket. What good does it do? Well, maybe it did a little good, as it brought songs to mind. And singing does take practice. I haven't been doing much lately.

Maybe tomorrow .... 

Friday, January 13, 2017


I've been wanting to write that I'm well now, but even though most of my cold symptoms are gone, discomfort remains that makes that seem less than honest. 

The pain on the left side of my face is from a troublesome tooth and possibly sinuses. I've been referred to an endodontist and hope to have answers soon, even as I doubt I will like those answers. Possible treatments mentioned by the dentist include perhaps another root canal, or maybe have the tooth pulled and replaced with an implant. None of that seems desirable to me, but neither is this nagging pain. 

As much as anything, the toothache and facial discomfort are just one more area where I continue to work through a process. I remain confident the various steps involving fairly minor health issues and use of my time will be resolved in positive ways. I am grateful for circumstances that include the resources I need to be patient. 

Friday, January 6, 2017


I thought I seldom was sick with a real cold. The truth is I seldom took off work because I was sick with a cold.  It didn't mean I wasn't really sick. 

So, while I find myself wondering why I'm sick more now that I'm not working, the truth comes out: I'm not sick more. I'm just acknowledging it more.

The latest round of symptoms became apparent Monday. Even as I tried to deny it might be a cold, I got extra rest and took some over-the-counter meds. Despite my husband's concerns, I thought I felt good enough to go to choir practice by Wednesday night. But not long into the rehearsal, I was aware that I didn't feel that great. And adding to my discomfort was the realization I was probably spreading cold germs, even as I tried not to breathe on or touch anyone. 

So I canceled two appointments for Thursday. Now it's Friday, and I feel quite a bit better. I'm also glad I don't have to get out in the snow and go to work or anywhere else. Something I wanted to attend Saturday was canceled due to the weather. So maybe I'll really be well by Sunday!!

I hope somehow taking better care of myself -- resting, not going out -- when sick helps me be healthier in the long run. Right now, the verdict is still out on that, given that I've had two rounds of a cold in about a month despite this more conscientious approach. But I will remain optimistic and keep trying to make healthy, wholesome choices, even when that means missing things I really would like to do.  

Sunday, January 1, 2017


It's time. 2017. 

Today is New Year's Day, the holiday. Since New Year's is on Sunday, Monday is a holiday for many of the people who have jobs. 

But I've been on pretty much a vacation since Oct. 17, so I don't think I want to wait another day to get started on some important work. 

Nothing changes if nothing changes. 

If I really want to do something, I will find I way. If I don't want to do something, I will find an excuse. 

Starting tomorrow! (Ha!)

Guided by Scripture and prayer, along with expertise of professionals in my areas of need, and supported by family and friends. 

“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

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well." 
-- Matthew 6:33

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

-- Psalm 139:23-24