Halloween Hole

How I feel today.  Photo courtesy of mentalfloss.com

Boo! How I feel today. Photo courtesy of mentalfloss.com

Happy Halloween!

I should probably preface this by saying half my tongue is numb. The inside of my left cheek, too. So, if I were speaking to you, it’d be more like “Haffy H’ween!” Neither percussive nor plosive consonants need apply.

I got a filling today.   Our new dentist told me it was a small cavity, right in between some back molars.

“See, it’s right there,” he pointed it out to me on the screen.  A dark spot sat in between two back molars. How could something so small cause so much discomfort?

He assured me he and his able assistant would be in and out in no time. However, as he dug deeper, he found the damage more extensive than anticipated.  After his awesome assistant prepped my mouth and face  as well as the required shot in the cheek, he started drilling and scraping.  Then more drilling and more scraping.  And a bit more drilling and scraping.  The odor of burning dentin filled my nostrils. Amazing assistant applied air and then some water. I thought, When is this going to end?  Happy thoughts, happy thoughts.  Did I feel a twinge?  Yes, a little one.  Should I ask him to stop?  Nah.  Man up, woman! I should’ve said yes to the nitrous oxide.  I could be laughing now. Deep breaths now. Jesus, Beautiful Savior…I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Sigh. Are we there yet?!

After he finished, Dr. H. made a point to give me the skinny. He explained all about the old filling and what he discovered.  Apparently the fast-food dentist we used to go to did a crappy job putting in one of my six (!) fillings.  Decay had leaked *under* the last filling, wreaking even more havoc. Dr. H. admitted the tight squeeze between teeth made it hard to fix the damage.  He didn’t name names, but I knew.

He looked me in the eyes.

“We drilled pretty close to the root today, so you might feel some pain over the weekend.”

I nodded. Yes.  Made sense.

“The pain should subside by Monday.  You can take regular medication as needed. If the pain doesn’t go away over the next couple of weeks, you might be looking at a root canal.”

Nooo!

Dr. H. shook my hand and left to save another smile.

Can I just say how much I appreciate people who do a good job and give it to me straight?  He cleaned up someone else’s poorly executed work and made it right. These proud few I count among the grownups. I think about all the people who have given me the straight story over the years, showed me the error of my selfish ways and in the process facilitated inner healing. They got to the real issue, the internal decay crippling me They helped me root out self-pity, rejection, bitterness, despair and many more. Alas, I harbor no illusions about my own perfection.  I will encounter more seasons of “scraping”, I’m sure.

In the meantime, I learned something else.  I’m too old for this sort of tooth tomfoolery.  I didn’t even get to choose a reward from the treasure box. That  clinches it. My goal?  No more cavities. Ever.

 

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Overcomer

A young woman who attended our church died this past Sunday in a car accident.  It was a head-on collision as the other driver, also a young woman, crossed the double yellow line to pass the 3 slow poke cars in front of her.

The gal had just turned 20.  She had recommitted her life to Christ and walked away from some bad choices in order to start over. She had a new joy inside.

Our church held a sort of impromptu memorial for her last night in lieu of regular Wednesday night service.  Through a series of reschedules due to illness, I was part of the worship team.   Members of the deceased’s family, who found a wonderful new church home years ago, started filing into the sanctuary.  We kept on rehearsing. I thought, Oh, we’re one of the few churches who have a midweek service.  Guess they needed to connect with God. Great to see them again and hug their necks.

No.

Those of us onstage shuffled, filled with nerves.  When your kid/sister/niece/granddaughter dies unexpectedly, emotions roil.  We didn’t know that to expect; how could we serve?  Could we offer any kind of comfort? And anyway, where *was* God? How could he allow this to happen? My little girl is gone! She’ll never get married or have kids of her own.  The great defeatist, Despair, lingered in the room. I could almost see his enormous maw of pain, open and fangs bared, ready to swallow the grieving visitors.

I quickly scanned the song lyrics in my head.  Uh…yeah. The love of God.  His comfort. Wanting more of His love and passion for others.  His goodness.  Holding on to God’s word. Good, good. And oh, “death has lost its sting.”

Gulp.

I didn’t want to offend them.  Death, especially of someone so young, isn’t something to be taken lightly. I haven’t lost anyone very close to me – yet. I realize death waits for me on the horizon, hovering like a dark cloud.  I can’t avoid it.  I can’t dodge it.  We will all die, unless Jesus returns first.  Period.

We sing a lot of songs about death, frankly.  Most of our worship songs are peppered with references to Jesus’ death on the cross, the resurrection, overcoming death, etc.  Honestly, I reckon we sing them without thinking an awful lot about them. The words, that is.  Yes, Jesus died and rose again.  Yes, the last enemy of creation – humans in particular – is death.  We’ve all mentally assented to the idea of death as the last frontier in this life.  Did we actually *believe* it, that when this life ends, we’ll enter a glorious heaven and receive Jesus’ embrace on the other side?  When it came time for application, could my faith stand the test? I didn’t know. I don’t know.  I only hoped we could latch onto God’s truth and soothe the hurt of those marvelous people. We could usher in a place of peace and understanding of our eventual victory. We could, for a short time, close the gaping mouth of grief and place our broken hearts into God’s hands for mending.

The service turned out to be a great time to talk about the reality of death and how to handle it.  I pray the families received comfort and a sense of God’s presence, despite the painful circumstances. I know I did. We will see our friend again, in the sweet by and by.

This girl’s death woke me up.  I don’t want to waste any more time.  I will give Zac all the hugs and noogies I can.  He’s gotta know I love him.  I will tickle Ruby until she comes close to peeing her pants. I will love and honor Jonathon all the days of my life, preferring him above all others. I will listen more closely to the quiet, small voice that guides me into caring for others while I still can.

 

O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. – I Corinthians 15:55-57

 

Wednesday Wisdom

Fearing people is a dangerous trap,
    but trusting the Lord means safety. Proverbs 29:25

For starters, Rex believes the vacuum, refrigerator and dishwasher are all part of an appliance cult.  They’ve taken a blood oath to scare the bejesus out of him. He runs away and/or hides whenever they get too loud.

Ditto with the crinkling of plastic bags and string cheese wrappers.  Pulling out the chairs at the dining room table. Also doors closing and opening, unless he’s on the other side wanting in or out.  He detests getting trapped in a closet or the basement, yet ventures to both places often. He doesn’t like the printer.  Dr. Isham. He cringes at the sound of the ringing phone, ears bent back in peeve.  He hates small children with their tiny, sticky hands and unsteady steps. They tend to chase him with cries of “Nice kitty!” He tolerates the shuddering washer and thumping dryer on a reoccurring basis, but only because they’re parked in his food area.

When we pull into the driveway, Rex gallops into the carport, lickety-split. His golden eyes glow at us as he crouches next to the garbage cans. Even after living with us for about 7 years, he still thinks we’ll run over him. Or at least Pepper-car will.

The list of what Rex *isn’t* afraid of is much shorter.  The can opener, because, well, there could be an empty tuna can for him to lick clean.  Sunshine. Flames from the gas fireplace. He’ll plop down right in front of the fireplace screen, soaking it in. Warmth is Rex’s middle name. Fleece.  Blankets. Fleece blankets create Rex nirvana. Ahhh…

I tell you all this because Rex misses out.

Chloe, on the other hand, enjoys it all.  She sleeps whenever and wherever. When my husband started working from home again, she staked out the warmest spot in the house. It’s in the same room as Dr. Isham, on the spare bed. Chloe trembles at very little. Maybe big dogs? She purrs beaucoup. For this very reason, she gets more leftover cereal milk, dripping ice cream, physical affection and probably small game.

His fears, even though he’s just a cat, keep Rex from enjoying the rest of life. His numerous phobias have become a snare to him, knotted him up inside. They hold him back from some of life’s best things, like real cheese. Something to think about, even if the appliances are in cahoots.

National Chocolate Day

Photo from eofdreams.com

Photo from eofdreams.com

I hit a real low this weekend, getting a wee cold and a touch of flu.  When your sleep deficit stretches into weeks, you get worn down. It accumulates, like fallen leaves in a gutter. Your immune system can’t function at optimal levels.  You catch whatever is lying in wait to ambush unsuspecting human hosts. I say “a touch”, because by yesterday, I felt better. As in, do-all-the-laundry-and-fold-it  feeling better. Nothing like the flu of 2010-11 where I was down for a month.  Nyquil came to my rescue, facilitating peaceful sleep and amazingly vivid dreams.   Today I even managed a little workout besides taking the stairs.

This illness made me push the reset button.  My thoughts and attitudes have been stinky. I need more Jesus. Again. When you’re down with the ick, you have time to think. I reached the end of my  “goodness”.  I saw some – not all – of what’s wrong with me. Folks, it wasn’t pretty.   I’m digging into the Bible.  I’m not following any set plan, but I find I need the Word like a drowning man needs a lifeboat. I want to gain something tangible this time.  I’ve written before about how I’ve never felt like the Bible was for me.  It’s always seemed like it belonged to other people, namely my parents and other spiritual leaders in my life. Most times, I felt like it spoke at me but not to me.

Serendipitously, this is also National Chocolate Day.  Though if you’re anything like me, you eat chocolate regularly, dare I say religiously.  You don’t need a special day to commemorate this hallowed food. Nay, I say! I would eat it in the rain, and I would eat it on a plane…Yeah.  It’s that good. I plan on eating some today, in fact.

Yet even more than that, I want to taste the sweetness of God’s Word. I’ve functioned for a long time at low levels, picking up whatever bad attitude came into my thoughts or activities. My spiritual immune system has suffered for lack of spending time digesting the Bible and in the presence of Jesus.  It satisfies me more than a hunk of dark chocolate on a wet and wild day. I need its truth to go down into my innermost places and heal what’s broken.

Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! – Psalm 34:8

Friday Good Things

I apologize for not blogging yesterday – or the day before.  Something strange happened to my head.  It got all stuffy and I resembled Sneezy the dwarf, and well, I’m feeling much better today.  Today-only bonus:  You get 2 blogs for the price of one.  Yippee!

“I need to save my money.  I want to buy a DS,” Ruby told me over breakfast this morning.

I mentioned something about saving her money to use for presents for others.

She perked up.

“You mean, you’d buy me a DS instead?!”

“Possibly,”I hedged.  We (okay, I) already had a couple of things in mind for her…

“I know!  I’ll make a list.” She grabbed a piece of paper and a pen.

It’s still October, right?

You’ve heard of Angie’s List, the place to go for referrals for contractors and such. This is Ruby’s Christmas list (below).

Ruby's list

Note the absence of chickens. While I appreciate the great variety in price and provenance, I have concerns. So…please take the poll.  Help us decide what to give Ruby this year.

In other news, Mom and I went out to lunch today.  We exited out the back door. Rex, lurking in the carport, wove around the dry leaves and furniture, meowing at us all the while. He enjoyed the brief patches of sunshine on the concrete.

“What’s the deal, Rex?” I asked, stroking his silky black back.  “You haven’t killed anything in awhile.  Get on it!”

This is the season when rodents madly scramble for winter food stashes.  Ideal for killing, I say. We left and I thought no more of it.

When we returned from lunch, this greeted us.

Go, Rex!

Go, Rex!

Rigor hadn’t even set in yet. Mom cringed at the sight. She wasn’t impressed. But I was.

It’s gratifying to think *somebody* listens to me around here.

I used one each of Denny Heck’s and Irene Bowling’s mailbox fliers to scoop and toss the dead vermin. What a great team for this task. Thanks, politicians! No politicians were harmed while relaying the dead squirrel to the trash can.

While feeling icky the past couple of days, I’ve struggled with my thoughts and attitude.  I keep coming back to this scripture: And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. – Philippians 4:8

Ruby and Rex seem to get it, thinking about good things now and in the future.  There’s hope for me, too.

 

Day of the Wombat

This was supposed to be posted 2 days ago.  Guess I was more under the weather than I thought.  Enjoy!

I’m trying to get inspired today.  Outside, it pours.  It floods.  It’s very, very wet. Inside, it’s calm and dry. But not particularly motivating.

I thought I’d take a look at what happened in history on this day, October 22.  You might be surprised.

First, a little background.  October 22 is the 295th day of the year (296th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 70 days remaining until the end of the year. Better get to work on those 2014 resolutions, folks.

According to the Wikipedian whippersnappers:

In 451, the Chalcedon Council adopted the Chalcedon Creed, affirming both the humanity and divinity of Christ.

In 1746, the College of New Jersey (better known as Princeton), received its charter.

In 1797, André-Jacques Garnerin makes the first recorded parachute jump from one thousand meters (3,200 feet) above Paris. Sidenote:  Anything to do with Paris, I’m in. But you know this.

In 1844, The Great Anticipation: Millerites, followers of William Miller, anticipate the end of the world in conjunction with the Second Advent of Christ. The following day became known as the Great Disappointment. I’ll bet. They say those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.  Again and again, it seems.

In 1879, Using a filament of carbonized thread, Thomas Edison tests the first practical electric incandescent light bulb (it lasted 13½ hours before burning out).

In 1924, Toastmasters International is founded. I found this particularly inspiring, since the Great Depression raged on during this decade. 

In 1926, J. Gordon Whitehead sucker punches magician Harry Houdini in the stomach in Montreal, precipitating his death. Ouch!

In 1942, Annette Funicello, American actress and singer, was born (d. 2013). Future Mickey Mouse clubber!

In 1943, Catherine Deneuve, French actress and singer, was born. Ooh la la!

In 1962, Cuban missile crisis: US President John F. Kennedy, after internal counsel from Dwight D. Eisenhower, announces that American reconnaissance planes have discovered Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba, and that he has ordered a naval “quarantine” of the Communist nation. And so it begins…

In 1964, TobyMac, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actor (DC Talk and The Gotee Brothers), was born.

In 1966, The Supremes become the first all-female music group to attain a No. 1 selling album (The Supremes A’ Go-Go). I am woman, hear me roar…eh, never mind.

In 1978, Papal inauguration of Pope John Paul II.

In 1999, Maurice Papon, an official in the Vichy France government during World War II, is jailed for crimes against humanity. Better late than never. Wait, how old *was *this guy?!

After citing all these historically significant events, let’s not forget it’s National Wombat Day.  Inaugurated in 2005, the Australians had all but obliterated these “vermin” from their lives. They’re now endangered in most of Australia.

wombatCute, huh?  Turns out Aussies didn’t like wombats burrowing on their property and classified them as vermin, sort of like enormous moles.  Here’s more:

In general, Australian culture does not regard the wombat highly and it certainly has nothing like the cultural significance of other native animals such as the koala, kangaroo or the dingo.

In general, wombats are seen by many as being fat, slow, lazy animals, and are often mocked. Particularly common wombats are considered by some farmers as a nuisance due primarily to their burrowing behaviour. These things are reflected in many of their cultural depictions and also reflective of conservation efforts. A notable example is the tongue in cheek “unofficial” mascot of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, “Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat“. Despite this the wombat is endeared by some and noted for its toughness and fearlessness, qualities regarded by many as Australian. No professional Australian sporting teams have adopted the wombat as a mascot.

Since 2005, an unofficial holiday called Wombat Day has been observed on 22 October.

Every day has something worth celebrating, even today. We can move forward with joy and purpose. Let’s make it official.  What starts out as a nuisance, like rain and wombats, can be something to smile about. Happy Wombat Day!

This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24

Rainbow Connection

This morning, I got the first flood watch for fall on my phone.  A small strip of pinkish sky showed below the receding hairline of dark clouds.  Ruby and I went to the store.  The sky cleared more, backlighting flocks of small clouds in the sky.  We marveled at its beauty.

After I dropped Ruby off at school, I went out for a run. I haven’t slept well in several nights, so I knew today would be slow going. I’ve prayed several times about a task I must tackle. It weighs on me.  I need to do it, yet I keep putting it off.  I’m afraid I’ll do it wrong.  I don’t want to muck it up. And I am unsure where to start.

But I couldn’t resist drinking in the Vitamin D pouring down from the sky.  At first, all that poured from the sky was a light drizzle.  It soon stopped. The sun sparkled on the red and gold leaves strewn under my feet. I plodded along, in no hurry to get anywhere, only to be.

I watch the sky quite a bit when the weather is in…transition.  The dark clouds looming in the west crept ever nearer.  Suddenly, I looked up into a rainbow. I only saw half of it.  It arched over Ruby’s school and ended in the hills behind it.

From the geminigeek.com

From the geminigeek.com

I stopped to take it in.  We’ve had so much rain, with more on the way.  The curve of bright colors encouraged me. I turned around and headed home. As I peeked back over my shoulder, the rainbow evaporated. I focused my attention on hurrying back before the deluge.

I ran up our street and the rainbow was there in front me, again, waiting in the sky.  I could only smile at God’s audacity. Show off! This time I could see the entire arch, spanning at least a mile across the sky.  Amazing.

Photo by becuo.com

Photo by becuo.com

 

We had a guest speaker on Sunday.  He said, “Do the good thing. God gets into your good thing.  Make a good decision, and God is in it.  Keep making good decisions and doing good things. It becomes a God thing.” In other words, His blessing and favor breathe into your positive effort. To quote Nike:  Just do it.

The speaker also said to quit waiting for purple haze or green smoke to appear.  Or in my case, a rainbow.  I get it, God.  I’m on it. I might feel overwhelmed at the enormity of the task, but Your presence remains. Thanks for sending a sign anyway.  The rainbow reminds me of your enduring faithfulness and goodness.

I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. – Genesis 9:13