Saturday, December 29, 2012

Brush of Angel's Wings

I had a hard time going to sleep last night. Earlier, a neighbor's dog decided to chase my stray cat (well, he adopted me) off the porch into the darkness. I was able to run the dog off, but the cat was nowhere to be seen. Now this cat will NOT come in. I've tried several times to get him in. Touching him is NOT an option. If you touch him, he will take your face off. So I've opened the door and called him, but he comes to the threshold and walks away. Today I spent thirty cold minutes playing this game with him. No luck. I put out a large plastic bin on the porch and filled it full of blankets which he seems to like to sleep in at night, although It think he preferred that old box more. Today he just refuses to sleep in the bin at all but wants to sleep on the porch on an old fleece throw. I'm freezing and I know he is, too. But he's stubborn and won't come in. Even though I know my face is getting old (will be 52 next month) and has wrinkles and age spots, I'd kinda not like to add cat scratches and gashes to it right now. So I let him do what he wants to do. He has an option with the deep bin filled with blankets. 

Last night he didn't come back. So I worried about that dumb cat.I had gone out earlier walking around looking for him fearing he had been hurt by the dog. No sign of him.

  I was sitting up reading the news online. I heard "birds" fluttering their wings. I wondered why birds were in the feeder at midnight. Then I realized those wings weren't in the feeder but were behind me. Those were bird wings. I didn't see anything, but heard the loudest flutter of wings right behind me. Then the room warmed up. This room the one of the coldest rooms in the apartment. NEVER has been warm. But at that moment the room was as warm as toast. My first thought was, "Are you hear to take me home?" After realizing that was not the case, I just sat there enjoying the moment and remembering God takes care of His own, even the creatures He created. The worry stopped and I crawled into bed falling asleep immediately. When I woke up around 4:00 a.m., thanks to Rascal, I looked out the front window and there was Buddy snug in his blankets sound asleep. He was fine. And there was a beautiful, white pristine snow on the ground. 

I've never heard wings before. Obviously there are no birds in my apartment. And at midnight there are no birds in the feeder. The sound of those wings filled the room. I remember the day my brother died. The Hospice volunteer told me just before he died, he opened his eyes and smiled saying he saw an angel. She said the moment he passed, she heard wings. Last night I believed her even more. I look forward to the day God sends His angels to take me Home. What a wonderful escort that will be! 

New Snow and Doctor Woes/Where is Kevin Spacey When You Need Him?

Woke up this morning to a fresh, clean, beautiful ground full of white snow. Was the first snow that has stuck in Wilmore this winter. Beautiful. Reminder how each day changes

I had planned to walk down to the grocery store today, but since I have no feeling in my legs past my knees and have to concentrate when I do walk, taking any kind of walk is dangerous. Walking in slush and snow is a huge "no, no!" A friend saw my post on Facebook and offered to pick up some things for me. I haven't seen her since I've moved back. Today she brought me a few things and I saw her and her grown son (who was a baby the last time I saw him). They only stayed long enough to drop things off, but I was so thankful for that short amount of time and the gift of groceries. She refused to let me pay for them. That, too, was a huge blessing. 

 When I opened my mail today, I thought I had received a huge blessing! Inside were two deposit slips from my bank. One I had dropped off before Christmas. The other one was a huge amount, over $1200.00. Knowing I did not make a deposit so large (that would be a miracle!), I searched my account hoping that it was somehow a gift. No. After searching the deposit slip again, I realized the account number was different. They had put someone else's slip in my envelope.

For the past few years, I have been so blessed by two very dear "angels" at Christmas. Their gift has helped me get through some very tough times. I've missed it this year and will now be back counting pennies. With it being so cold in Wilmore, the heating will be much higher, electric bill, water, cost of living etc. Doctor bills, medications, so many things are expensive as well. That gift helped me get through the years.  Beth Metcalf and Cam Metcalf, thank you both for being so good to me in Christmases past! You'll never know what a huge difference you made in my life :).


Had it not been for Lenore and Isaac, today would have been the fourth day since I've seen another person. Most of the time I can handle being alone, but days in a row make me lonely. If I were back in Alabama, Sandy and I would be heading down to Panama City Beach today to stay until New Year's Day. I miss the beach. So healing and soothing. Not being alone. But this year I would also have been in the process of having to move again because my lease would be up. I noticed on a friend's Christmas card that her address had changed again. Seems she has moved from the place where we lived. It was growing so unsafe as each week passed. The management didn't care as long as they collected the rent. A brand new complex going down hill fast. I'll bet they lose the rest of their one yr lease renters this month, too. They lost many who just broke the lease and moved to better places, if there are better places in Dothan.  

Each day I still read the news there. More and more robberies, drugs, burglaries, attacks. I don't miss feeling scared all of the time. But I have traded the old problems for new ones. Now I can't find a good internal med doctor and will be without my meds until the end of January until I have an appointment with a new doctor. The rheumatologist will not renew my meds because he "doesn't want to be responsible for them." Dr. Pratt would not have given it a second thought. Why can't doctors just care about the fact this person will be without her meds for a month? Doesn't he realize how much damage that will do to my health? Caught between a rock and a hard place. If I were a "somebody," I'd have no problem establishing a new doctor, getting meds transferred, etc.

The stress of the doctors alone is causing more and more systemic lupus flares. I guess I need someone powerful in my life who can go to bat for me. Where is Kevin Spacey when you need him? :) I could just see him marching in there in charge, telling those doctors what kind of care I needed and WOULD be getting with no problems from them, and there would be no problems with my medications. I'd also have the top of the line doctors, too, not the ones who have talked to me like I'm stupid, or a waste of their time, or could care less if they gave me my test results or not. It is so hard to do this on my own, especially now that my health is bottoming out on me and I don't have the strength to fight like I used to. I need a "super hero" like the one in "Inseparable." (If you haven't seen that movie, watch it! Most is in Japanese, but the parts with Kevin are in English.) 

The Friday before Christmas my cardiologist's office called telling me they think I have blood clots in my lungs and didn't want to wait to do a catscan. It is Dec. 29th. I haven't heard from them since. I'm still having problems breathing. I could have died by now. What happened to "didn't want to wait?" Talk about needing someone to go to bat for me! 

Sometimes I think it would be easier to give up. Then I remember God has me here for many purposes. I don't believe we are put here for one purpose. If that were the case, I'd been dead a long time ago. Each day offers new opportunities to touch another life. With me it seems the internet is my widest opportunity since I'm more bound to the apartment. No matter how crazy, frustrating, upsetting all of this gets, I'm thankful I have the peace only God can give. It fills me up. The world can't give that peace. No matter how rich you are, healthy, how many children you have, if you've been married 20 plus years, etc. All of those things can go in a blink of an eye. The peace God gives lasts and so does His promises. When all of this stuff beats me down, I go to Him and cry out for His peace, mercy and understanding. He never fails. Great is His Faithfulness.  

  

Bush in backyard
Trees in Backyard

My next door neighbor's tree

My neighborhood

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Cold Winter's Night

It has been a long week. I haven't posted until now because quite frankly I just didn't have anything in me. I'm back to being alone again and hating every minute of it. I can't believe I've moved over 700 miles to be alone. The only positive point is I left the crime, abuse and fear behind. That is huge indeed, but the loneliness can really draw you down, especially in a place known for loving and kind people.  

If I were still in Dothan, I'd see Sandy and that would be wonderful, but I'd still be alone most of the time. If I moved anywhere else, I'd still be alone. I'm tired of being alone. I'm sick and tired of being alone. I know there are things I can do to occupy my time and I do them. But then systemic lupus kicks in and puts me back into bed. The pain has been horrific the past few days since the wet and cold weather has set in. I'm exhausted, the lupus exhaustion, the "wet rag" exhaustion that does not get better with a nap. I've had high fevers. My joints hurt so badly that I can barely use my hands. The "two finger" type is all I can manage tonight. I LOVE the snow, but it seems the rain loves to visit here more this month. 

I had planned to make a walking trip to the grocery store tomorrow, but since the flare has increased my pain, that doesn't look possible. The smallest of tasks so many take for granted I long to be able to do. As I watched the Kennedy Center Honors last night, I was mesmerized by the ballerina. Taking ballet was something I wanted to do as a child. Coming from a poor family, we just could not afford such luxuries. As I grew older, that was not an option either. As I watched the poetry in motion through the ballet, I longed to dance, too. They moved so gracefully. I barely walk. They glide. I stumble. They express. I cry in pain. So that is one thing I want to do when I reach Heaven....to dance down the streets made of gold. I know I will be freed from this torchered body of pain, freed from the prison I live in, worship God in song and dance. In my mind I dance, gracefully, gliding across the golden streets. 

Today I am burdened with loneliness, pain of suffering from a disease I never asked for, and wondering if I did the right thing when I moved. Tomorrow will be a new day filled with hope, new beginnings, God's faithfulness. He has always provided for me and will never let me down. People come and go, but He remains my constant.   

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thankful

I'm thankful today that I could spend Christmas with two good friends, Chris and Julie. Chris' son, his girlfriend and roommates were also part of dinner today. But it was time spent with Chris and Julie that made the difference. I didn't feel as though I stepped into someone's family or invaded someone's private family Christmas. Instead I felt welcome into a home where we ate good food and played games afterwards. I finally made a dish that was consumed completely! For the first time in years I didn't take home leftovers from the dish I prepared. Baked Mac and cheese seemed to be a winner this year. 

The weather is turning cold and it seems as though snow is heading our way. Even though I would loved to have had a white Christmas, I just might get a white New Year. I'd be thankful for it as well. I promised Rascal I wouldn't put him down in the middle of snow anymore. He had plenty to say about it the last time I did. I don't think he's a fan of snow. 

It has been a long day and I'm tired. My mind shut down a long time ago along with my worn out body. I'm thankful to have not been alone today and pray more days like this will fill the new year. I've been alone far too many days in the past. 

Remembering the reason we celebrate today...the Birth of our Savior....Jesus Christ.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

It is another Christmas Eve and I've not seen a living soul except for Rascal. I think this Christmas has been harder than some from the past. Not knowing many people in Wilmore, it is hard to be alone at this time of year. 

For anyone who doesn't see a purpose in animals, let me tell you with out Rascal, I'd been so deeply depressed I could not have pulled myself out of bed today. He's been a far better friend than most people I've met over the years. That goes for most animals. I'll never understand why some people feel the way they do about God's creatures. 

Almost 4:00 p.m. and I'm just "enduring." I know this is the birth of Christ, but I miss my family so much. Being alone this time of year is the hardest thing in the world to me. 


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

Steven Curtis Chapman has always been one of my favorites:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHehVzl42kM&feature=relmfu





Being Alone at Christmas

My dear friend from Ohio just called me. She is tired, frustrated, and just finished wrapping her presents. She wanted me to know sometimes it is so much easier not having a family than being alone.

I beg to differ. I'd rather have someone to wrap a present for, fuss over, love, encourage when they're spirits are low, just be there. I'd rather have someone to be my family than to be alone in the world any time of the year, especially at Christmas. I know she was talking out of stress and frustration, but if she traded places with me for just week and felt the emptiness of not having your family brings, she'd appreciate those people she just wrapped presents for this Christmas. How I wish there was something I could do to make her see this precious gift she has.

My family is dead. They will not be picking up the phone to say hi or ask me how I'm doing. They will not come through the door on Christmas day nor will I go home to a kitchen of my mother's home cooking. I will not hear my brother's light-hearted jokes or watch my daddy pile on citrus fruit, apples, candy and nuts in the middle of the kitchen table. Those are just memories to me now. 

Whoever reads this post please remember to be thankful for your family members. They will not always be here. Love them this Christmas. Remember them now. Forgive whatever stupid angry mistake they made. It won't matter in a week

Also remember there are so many people who have no one at Christmas and throughout the year. Take time to knock on their door and tell them you're thinking of them. Time is a priceless gift.    

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Beautiful Flowers!

Today I received beautiful flowers from a dear friend! Thank you, Liz! I can't remember when I received flowers last! The thought behind them touched my heart deeply. 

I would rather have flowers than anything on this earth!

It is cold here even thought the sun is out. When I walked out this morning to put seed in the feeder for the birds (the other was frozen to the pan), the ground was a solid piece of ice.  It is colder INSIDE than it is outside. With block walls, seems the cold lingers longer. What a beautiful sight to see and smell living beauty of flowers. They're my favorite reminder of what a wonderful artist God truly is! Such a beautiful creation He has made on this earth. We don't take time to notice just how beautiful it is.

My cold apartment is filled with the scent of carnations, white roses, and cedar sprigs. I close my eyes and am reminded of Spring and its time of renewal and promise. Hope once more.





Friday, December 21, 2012

More Test Result News

My cardiologist's office called today. They are concerned with my lung test. Want to send me for a catscan to make sure I don't have blood clots in my lungs before sending me to the Pulminologist. Also want to take blood to see if I'm anemic. I told them to call my thoracic surgeon because he's also making appointments to see a Pulminologist because of HIS concerns with the test results. They need to get on the same page. 

So the tests I had hoped to put off until mid January have been pushed up to late December. They don't want to wait. Fear? Yes. Concern? Yes. Alone? YES! Something new to deal with. Most of the time doctors blame Everything on lupus. At least this time they're looking past to find another solution. The sad thing is I've never smoked a day in my life, but I am having a hard time breathing if I walk two blocks. Pain in my lungs is sharp. 

Here's where faith comes in. Putting it all in God's hands.  

Thank you, God, For SNOW!

And it SNOWED! It was just a dusting, but it snowed! Oh so beautiful! I'm so tickled to see the beautiful white snow this morning. No two flakes alike just like people. We're all different with different experiences, feelings, gifts. No two alike.

There's something cleansing about snow. It is so pure and pristine. It brings everything to a halt outside. Watching it fall from the sky is magical for me. A kid a heart? You bet I am! On rare occasions when it snowed in Alabama, I was always blamed. "I hope you're satisfied. This is all your fault!" I was satisfied thank you very much. And yes, I'll take that blame because I was the one who always asked God for the snow. I would stand underneath the falling flakes and feel the magic come with them from Heaven. 
Last night, I stood on the back porch in the snow holding on for dear life because the wind was terrible. It didn't matter because snowflakes were falling and I felt cleansed. God answered my prayer close enough to Christmas. He sent me snow! 

Rascal had never seen snow. So I took him outside and held him so that he could feel the snow on his face. He looked up trying to find out where that white stuff was coming from. This morning I put him outside so that he could feel the snow under his feet. He just stood there motionless. When I brought him back inside, he walked across the kitchen floor shaking off the soft beautiful snow from his feet. 

I breathed in fresh, cold SNOW air and today I feel so much better! Thank you, Father God, for the beautiful gift of Snow!



Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cold Setting IN

It is Thursday and the cold has returned to KY. Wet cold! Chill to the bone cold. Rain has set in again as well. Not good for people with severe arthritis and systemic lupus. Not good for people who are depressed from the season. I keep wondering where the snow is. Thirty years ago when I graduated from Asbury, snow hit the ground before Thanksgiving. I have only seen a few snow sprinkles since I've been here. Still have hopes for a white Christmas even if it is a white "snow in the air" Christmas. If you have to be alone at Christmas, at least have one wish come true!

All I want to do is crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head, but thankfully a friend has invited me to her house to bake cookies. Freedom! A person! I haven't been out of this house since Saturday! I haven't seen another soul since Monday! Oh how I long to get past the front door!

People who are mobile, can walk right out the door, get into a car and go where ever they want take so much for granted. When you're chronically ill, have no feeling from your knees down and have to be careful when you walk, can't drive, and can walk no more than two blocks without severe breathing problems, it is a full day's chore just to accomplish a trip to the grocery store. Sad thing is people in general just don't care. 

My wish today is that more people would care about those they come in contact with who have a disability of some sort. Not see it as a bother in their busy lives. Seems Christians are the worst. I'm a Christian and see it all of the time. The kindest people have been those who do not claim the faith. What a horrible witness to the Lord. When someone invites you out and then walks 20 paces ahead of you because you just can't keep up, how you do think that makes you feel? For me, it says "You're just a bother. You slow me down and I don't have time for you." Happens a lot. 

I've been told I'm such a good listener. Sometimes I wish God would send someone to listen to me. Just once. Since I have no one to talk to about all the feelings and events bottled up inside, I turn to my blog. After all, Rascal, my faithful feline, can't really talk back in an audible voice I will understand. He can, however, show more love and understanding than any human has shown.

Today I am thankful to be up and moving. I could get out of bed and walk across the room even though the pain is so great. Thank you God for your grace.   

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Day

It is early morning on Wednesday. New Day. Lord, please let today be a better day! I've been inside since Saturday night. Sick since Monday. Haven't seen another soul since Monday. 

I'm starting to think sleeping through Christmas isn't a bad idea after all.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Remembering My Family at Christmas

There's not a day passes I don't miss them terribly, but at Christmas my loss is magnified tenfold. This is in memory of them.



This is my mother. Her name is Lois. The day I graduated from college, I became her full time caregiver until she became so ill that severe diabetes placed her in a nursing home a few short days after Christmas. She died two days before my 24th birthday, January 18, 1985.





This is my father. His name is Elbert Calhoun, Sr. My brother lived with him to make sure someone was in the home at night. I took care of him on weekends while teaching during the week. Together we watched over him until he could no longer live on his own. Then I moved him in with me. My dad suffered from emphesemia and an enlarged heart. But the greatest pain he suffered from was the loss of his wife and son.

He died two years after my brother on April 30, 1996. He was the last member of my family.




This is my only brother. His name is Elbert Calhoun, Jr. We always called him Junior. My only sibling. He never married. Instead he took care of everyone! When my mom died, he took care of her funeral. Until I took in my dad, he looked after him until I could do so. His time to have a life of his own was to be when my dad moved in with me. That time was not to be. Just a few weeks before we moved into the house, my brother went in for surgery. When he came out, he was diagnosed with cancer. It has spread. He died Oct. 27, 1994. He was only 46 years old. I miss him terribly and the pain is still as great as the day I lost him. I cherish the opportunity to take care of him during this time of illness, but how I wish I had all of the years that have passed. 



I lost my entire family by the time I was 35. I lost my own health by the time I was 40.




Tuesday Morning

I've been sick for the past two days. Yesterday I could barely move, swollen joints, nausea, fevers repeatedly. The rain came in like an old friend and stayed like an old enemy. It was a bad day for lupus. Today isn't much better. Breathing has been hard. Will be so thankful to see the specialist my doctor sends me to in January. Since the diagnosis is my body can't mix gases properly, I'm eager to find out what illness is causing this and if they can do anything to fix it. Until then it is a time of suffering. 

I haven't been out the door since Saturday. My spirits are low. That comes with being sick, especially when your illness is life long. The college and seminary have gone home for the holidays. It is very quiet here in Wilmore as I knew it would be. But the quiet gives me too much time to ponder the loneliness in my own life. 

Again, I pray for two things this Christmas. One is for SNOW - that is always a given. Just once in my life I'd love to have a white Christmas. Two is for never to be alone again. The hope on that one has waned so much over the years, but I still hope.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Just a Reminder

Through the rush of shopping and parties and gatherings, and all you do to prepare for spending Christmas with your families, please remember there are so many people who don't have anyone. They will spend Christmas day alone. Take time to visit ONE person, to make a difference in one life, send a card, drop off a gift, send flowers, do something. Coming from someone who is alone, it does make a HUGE difference. 

Think of someone outside your family this Christmas and do one thing for them. I guarantee you pass one person on your way to work or work with someone, or live near someone who needs to be loved.

A Late Sunday Night

You know it is a sad thing when you're searching Facebook because you need human contact. That being said, when I'm sick and can't function I'm more alone than ever. It is so much easier to fall into a state of loneliness when my physical defenses are down. And I'm down there today....in the deepest canyon you can imagine.

I try to keep my mind on positive things. Fill my heart with hope. It is still hard when you're feeling so bad physically that you'd give anything for another human being to be in the same room with you. 

How do you explain to someone who has a husband or siblings, children, grandchildren, etc. how it feels to be alone? They cannot begin to imagine the emptiness that envelopes and swallows you whole, especially during Christmas. It is an unbearable stress that wreaks havoc on a body much less a chronically ill one. 

I've asked myself and God so many times what I did wrong to inherit a life of no one, no family, losing my own immediate family members by the time I was 35 yrs old. Most days I can handle it. Some it becomes so overwhelming that I beg for answers that never come. But it never changes my faith in God. I know He loves me if no one else on this earth ever will. 

And so the emotional stress...it affects lupus tremendously. A flare sets in, fever of 102 once again, swollen joints, pain so bad I can barely walk across the floor. This pain is so bad my hair literally hurts! I remember my rheumatologist in Dothan always said, "No stress!" Sure. Never figured out how to accomplish that one. When you have a chronic illness for 17 years and continue to decline, when you have to deal with all aspects of it including the doctors, hospitals, tests, medication side effects, costs when you don't have the money, how do you take the stress out of the equation? Add to it no emotional or physical support. 

My doctor's nurse always said, "It is a miracle you're still alive," when I walked in the door. Sometimes I wonder why I'm still here. God must have a purpose. He must have many. That's the thing about our lives. We touch other lives without even knowing how He will use us. Whatever good can be used from this broken body, somewhat shattered soul, I hope it will bring help and hope to someone. If it does, then I have a purpose. Then the stress, loneliness, suffering, and struggles I've been through will be worth it all.   

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pass on the Love

This time of year always makes me so sad. Most of the time I close up and hope the days pass quickly. Then something good happens and reminds me what this season is all about. This is the birth of Jesus, the Savior sent to this world from God himself. It isn't about presents, trees, Christmas parties. It isn't about arguing with those who decide to take Him out of the season. If they are so unhappy they need something to argue about, let them. 

It is the season of the greatest gift God ever gave to this world....His Son. It it the gift of LOVE. 

A friend posted this to her Facebook page today and it reminded me to pass on the love. 

I hope you, too, will pass on the love. Copy and paste it to view.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151211016113780


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Dreams and Wishes

My mother always told me I'd waste my life wishing it away. But I've always wondered what life would be if we didn't have a wish or two every day. And what would there be if dreams didn't fuel our existence? Too many parents throw water on the fire of dreams. "If it doesn't pay money, give it up." "You'll never be any good at that." "Get a job and don't fool yourself. You're just not good enough."

So many times I heard those very words from the time I could understand. My mother ground them into my very being. As an adult, they still ring in my ears when I try a new project or attempt to express myself in a different way. The child comes out and hesitates. "You'll never be any good at that." 

I spent my teaching years trying to embed good and positive encouragement into my students reminding them each and every one had a gift. No matter what anyone else told them, they were created by God for a reason and someone believed in them. They knew this teacher was there for them, cared for them, believed in them and her door was open whenever they had a problem or needed a shoulder.

 There are some pretty cruel people in this world who continue to pass along the "You're ugly!" "You'll never be anything!" "Who do you think you are?" bully mentality. You find them behind the counter in the post office, standing in line at the grocery store, sitting in a movie theater as they disrupt your enjoyment with their loud talking and obnoxious behavior. You even find them working in the most unlikely places like a church. I worked in two and some of the most hateful people I've ever met I met while working in the church. 

It is hard to heal from hateful remarks, but giving them to God and asking for His help forgiving seems to do the trick. But when it comes to your own parents, that's the one that cuts the deepest. Those words guide your every action, decision, and choice in life. It affects the most intimate relationships you have or don't have. When you've been destroyed inside by your parent, it is next to impossible to let someone else in past the wall of destroyed emotions and to trust someone with what they might see there. When you've never felt loved, it is hard to see it when it comes.

I have struggled my entire life with the destructive words my mother used on me. Some have healed, but the scars left behind have been reminders to shield myself from more hurt. I've prayed to God to heal the pain that still tears inside me. It is an ongoing process and will be a life long one.

For parents, I hope you tell  your kids you love them every day. The words ARE important. If a child KNOWS they are loved, there is nothing they can't do. I have thought many times if only I had been loved....what could I have accomplished in this life! Tell them.

I still wish and dream. Sometimes at night I enjoy the dreams God gives me that bring smiles to my face, especially the continuing ones that connect like a story. We all need to wish and dream. And HOPE. When you have a chronic illness that has robbed so much of your life, one that you never in a million years dreamed would be your present and your future, you hang on to hope...hope for an abundance of blessings, a beautiful day, good surprises you never saw coming. Every day is new. Great is HIS faithfulness.