#3, 2, 1 The Gift of Life

DonateLifeLogo Color PMSToday is my last post in this recent series of posts about Thanksgiving.

This post was originally drafted in three short posts, but obviously I’m having it in one go, and I will try not to make it too long.

The Gift of Life.

As I draft this, it’s very early Monday morning, and I will be going to work soon. But I’m sitting here reliving for about the thousandth time all that’s happened in my family this last year. SO is asleep beside me as I type, and when I look at him, big tears come into my eyes and roll down my cheeks. I think it’s a Knowshon moment. That’s when the magnitude of something seemingly mundane on most days hits like a wave. The wave is passing over me to such a degree I can barely type this. Emo? Yep. Very emo.

And I have such gratitude for a man named Mike. He gave a kidney to SO, and it changed our lives. He put himself through hell for almost eleven months to get this done, and all because he was grateful to God and wanted to give something in return. Through it all, Mike was always at ease and confident that it was going to happen, and he gives God credit for that peace and confidence. How can I do any less.

But saying thank you for this magnificent gift seems paltry. It’s the very minimum, and in the weeks after the surgery, I thought about what I could do to really show my gratitude. I would love to say I knew quickly, but honestly, I was so tired physically, I couldn’t think straight. My first inclination was to throw a party and praise God and Mike, and I did praise God and Mike, but eventually, the answer came to me so clearly I laughed. That’s my usual response to an epiphany. I chuckle because the answer has often been right in front of my face. And in this instance, what a lovely answer it is and the response God wants above all others.

I have also been given the gift of life, as we all have been given this gift. And it’s an absolved life. That’s a hard concept to grasp, but it’s there and not going away. I forget this more than I should, but thankfully, I’ve been coming to it more and more as I get older. It’s taken circumstances making me move myself out of the way in order to understand and keep understanding that it’s not what I can effect but rather passing on what’s been effected and continually effected by the Almighty. Specifically, grace. For me, I’ve been loved and forgiven and encouraged so many times, even when there were countless things I’ve done that I shouldn’t have or things I haven’t done that I should have. That grace has sustained me through it all. Without it, I wouldn’t be here, or at least not here with any semblance of a person. I would have been a shell acting like a person. Right now there is such a need to pass on that comfort, and I don’t ever want to forget to do it!

A few months ago I said I was a fighter, and yes, there are parts of me that are like a warrior. Those parts of me wanted to fight the people who seemed to be threatening SO’s life. But I don’t really want to fight people. I don’t think David really wanted to fight people. At least he didn’t start out that way. And Christ did not fight people. Told the truth? Yes, but fought? No, he didn’t do that. And I don’t want to do it either. I want to give what’s been given to me — a second chance at life myriad times.

And I know Mike will also appreciate this more than any words I could offer up.

Does all of this put me on the hook to be held accountable as some will see fit to do? You bet, and that’s okay.

note: When I decided to do this series of posts, I knew I would lose some followers. The subject matter in several of these posts is not what readers came for initially, so I did lose some followers. I totally understand that. But frankly, I lose and gain followers everyday and don’t put much stock in that ebb and flow. What I didn’t expect is that my gains would be much more than my losses, and that I would receive so many lovely notes from people who have no need to thump their chests nor a Bible but who love God. Thank you to all of you who have sent me notes and thank you to all of you who have deigned to follow my ramblings. And be forewarned I’m returning to the snark later today. :D

#4 Richard Armitage and His Hair

This is part of my series of posts counting down to and through the Thanksgiving holidays and expressing my thankfulness for something I’ve received, experienced or participated in.

Richard and His Hair.

Richard Armitage has excellent hair. I’ve thought that ever since I saw this:

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It was a vast improvement over the extensions:

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But back to the luscious locks:

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Is that seriously awesome looking hair or what? Women would kill to have hair like this. And if those are extensions around his neck, I don’t want to hear about it! That looks real.

And I’m going to stay off the topic of his sideburns as I absolutely despised long sideburns until I saw them on Richard. I’m not kidding when I say that. I cannot stand long sideburns. They look awful to me, but Richard can wear them, and I’m thinking about a wolf whistle.

About the time I got used to the magnificent mullet, I was hit with this:

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That’s the mother of all razor cuts. I mean all razor cuts are or should be defined by it, and when their barbers are suggesting razor cuts, men should aspire to this cut. Not 6’2″, don’t have beautiful blue eyes and a great jaw? No problem. There’s a cut that fixes all of that. I can hear the thinking now.

And then there was this which created a backlash in RA Universe. A significant number were saying ewwwww to Guy’s new do. Me? I loved it. Even when it was unwashed the first few weeks, but man, he cleaned up well:

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Then it was back to the sleek look:

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Where he stayed until this came around:

press_conference_screencapI’m a beard person, so this was fantastic to me.

And since then, I’ve been treated to all types of styles to please any appraising eye.

A little bit of a pompadour going on in this one:
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Not much hair shown; this was the brutally short look:
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Okay, so it’s not all of his hair, but Thorin’s mane is fantastic. I had to show it, and you get some chest hair thrown in:
Richard Armitage Thorin bloody

Back to the tailored look, and I’m talking the hair:
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This one is the I don’t give a rat’s ass how I look ’cause I’m considering that prisoner of war role:

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And finally the pompadour is perfected:

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That particular photo still packs a punch.

Heck, it’s just been more or less a thrill ride to see what he would come with next, and it occurred to me that there is no need to get antsy about his next project and every reason to be thankful for being entertained by his hair. To wit:

Richard Armitage curly locksIs there enough going on here to make a ponytail for Poldark?

And if I get bored with this, I can go back to some old photos.

Here’s a favorite:

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See what I mean about the sideburns?

#5 Popcorn

3405289_786d806078_oThis is part of my series of posts counting down to and through the Thanksgiving holidays and expressing my thankfulness for something I’ve received, experienced or participated in.

Popcorn.

I’m absurd about popcorn. It’s been my snack of choice since I was a very small child. No candy or cookies for me. I wanted popcorn, and I learned very young how to make it on the stove top, which is how I still do it today. No microwave popcorn at my house.

My children are also big popcorn lovers, and my 13 year old has made it her snack of choice after salads. I was very similar as a kid. If I wasn’t eating popcorn, I was eating a salad, and water was my drink. Same with her, and now for the part that makes me so thankful.

Eating popcorn is cheap. It’s really cheap even when it’s cooked as a healthy snack. And it’s already pretty darn healthy with its fiber content and the newly discovered anti-oxidant benefit. So why am I making such a big deal out of popcorn? This year we drastically cut back on everything, and I’m so glad we could still sit down with a bowl of popcorn while watching a movie or show via Netflix and have a marvelous time. No one in the household felt they were being cheated out of something. It was all good.

By the way, when I do splurge on popcorn, my favorite brand is Black Jewell. Just thinking about that stuff is a temptation. Truly the best popcorn made!

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons on Flickr

#6 A Good Day

This is part of my series of posts counting down to and through the Thanksgiving holidays and expressing my thankfulness for something I’ve received, experienced or participated in.

A Good Day.

Yesterday was a good day. I would love to say I never took good days for granted, but until several years ago, I didn’t let myself fully bask in good days. Whenever I got close to basking, I would feel guilty. There was always too much to be done and too many people hurting. How could I be gleeful at a good day? How could I let myself forget all the troubles of the world around me?

To add to that, I was a perfectionist. My need for things to be the way I thought they should be was violent. And when I say that, I mean order in things I could easily control. Things that don’t matter. Like the carpet or the dishes. What helped prolong it is I effected a demeanor to coworkers and friends and most of my family of being easy going. Sometimes it’s laughable to me that people thought I was so cool about living life and often commented on it. But then the violence was mostly internal.

Having a mental breakdown cured that, and no, I’m not going to rehash it here. I’ll just say I ran out of gas and all that angst had to go away. I’m sorry it took that kind of upheaval for me to wake up. And if there is one regret I have in life (and I have several), it’s my stubbornness to not see what I was doing. I thank the Lord for His infinite wisdom and how He helped me see it, which is a whole ‘nother story not for this blog.

All I know today is I’m way past the control freak girl who would have squirmed uncomfortably at the dinner table yesterday because her daughter placed big, fat, red salt and pepper shakers covered with smudges from being on the stove, onto the elegantly laid dinner table done in burgundy and white. I’m way past the control freak girl who would have looked at that sweet daughter’s smiling face and said harshly, “No! Where are the crystal shakers?!” Or she would have done everything herself because she didn’t trust anyone else to do it “right”. That girl was incapable of fully enjoying the talking and laughing during the meal and certainly wouldn’t have let herself enjoy the food she cooked. Thankfully, that girl is gone.

The new girl was there and having a great time, and for one brief moment when she spied the red shakers, was aware of how far she’s come in the pursuit of life and happiness.

By the way, a good day today means I will not be out at the stores shopping on Black Friday. :D

#7 Perspective

Getting PerspectiveThis is part of my series of posts counting down to and through the Thanksgiving holidays and expressing my thankfulness for something I’ve received, experienced or participated in.

Perspective.

For most of my life I’ve tried to put myself in someone else’s shoes to perhaps understand what motivates them, makes them happy or makes them sad. I’ve also tried to understand why I see things as I do, why I believe the things I do, what makes me happy or sad. When I was in high school, I began to do rigorous self-examinations of my thoughts to the point of excruciating mental pain and maybe some of that was because I was deficient in some areas. Whatever the case, there was and still is an insatiable need in me to know the truth, to know reality. It is such a quest in my life that I’m more than willing to throw away a thought that doesn’t square with truth.

The obstacle is that I don’t always know the truth. I don’t always know who I am or why I think what I do. Oh, sure, I know some, and I do think there is a definitive truth because to me, truth is a person. But I don’t believe any of us can know all of Him or know it all (whatever that means) — at least not in a reasonable amount of time. Then again, maybe I’m wrong and we can. But today, I’m not completely knowledgeable of God or fully conversant in my identity — not fully aware of all that being someone who believes in Christ is or can be. And that’s just fine. It has me on a journey to find out, and I love the adventure.

It was always my nature to go out exploring as a child, and the Bible hero I identified with most closely was David. I used to feel guilty about all of that as if somehow it was wrong to want to find out about other worlds, but I’ve long since gotten over any guilt. I’ve long since come to peace with the part of my identity that wants to go exploring. And God gets credit for that peace. The only time I ever really felt guilty about it was when I listened to the world. When I’ve listened to reasons from others who didn’t think it made sense for me to do it.

I don’t want to denigrate being sensible. It has its place, but sometimes it can kill a person. “If there is no vision, the people perish.” Taken out of context? Probably, but the fundamental truth is there. So called “sensible” talk can kill a dream. And if someone cannot dream or aspire to go beyond themselves, what do they have? Certainly, this takes many forms. Sometimes going beyond oneself is to never leave a place, and the exploring occurs in their interaction with others and/or in their mind only. Some of the greatest writers never went anywhere of note. But that is not to say someone has to produce something for others to consume before it’s considered great.

I’m thankful I realize all of these things about exploration, but mostly that I’m free. “When the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” I’m glad I’m aware of that at times. I’m glad that bitching about life is not my way of life. Yes, venting has its place. People get frustrated and need to talk, but that’s not what I’m referring to. I’m talking about the continual chatter in the world that’s about all which doesn’t go well. At some point there are diminishing returns on it. And then you have to move on and do something productive for yourself if no one else, or this too will kill you. When is the point to move on reached? I can’t answer that for anyone else. I only know when I’ve reached it and oftentimes, it took Someone not of this world, Someone beyond myself, Someone with a larger perspective than mine to show me that life is not nearly as small as I can sometimes make it.

#8 Being Cut Down to Size

This is part of my series of posts counting down to and through the Thanksgiving holidays and expressing my thankfulness for something I’ve received, experienced or participated in.

Brought down.

Defeats or setbacks, as I like to think of them, are what make us who we are and are a key part of being victorious. And how fitting that the dynamic is pervasive in nature. For example, if some plants of the same variety, age, size and living conditions are treated the same except one plant is pruned, the plant that’s been cut or “stressed” will eventually be much stronger and more productive than the one which was untouched.

Several years ago I was so curious about this phenomenon that I tried it with two rosebushes in my yard. These plants were about four feet apart, had been planted at the same time, taken care of the same way, and were about the same size. At the end of one summer, I whacked one of them down to about six inches. When I was done, I stood back to look, and the drastically pruned bush looked rather forlorn if not desolate as it stood in the shadow of the other bush. I felt I had gone too far, and during the winter, I fretted over killing that bush every time I looked at it, which was every time I pulled into my garage. There were a few times I was so irritated at what I’d done that I just wanted to dig it up and throw it away so it would not be around to remind me of my stupidity when the spring came.

Then spring came, and the little bush began to grow. A friend of mine who was the county agent at the time told me in order to really see the full effect stress can have, I could not give into the temptation to “baby” the pruned bush. It was hard, but I didn’t given in. The little bush got the same food and water the other bush received, and not long into the growing season, it was a foot or less shorter than the other bush. By the time the growing season was in full swing, the little bush was not only taller than the other one, but it was bursting with blooms. The other bush had about a third of the blooms.
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One day when I was out in the yard, a neighbor came over and asked me what kind of food I was giving the bigger rosebush. I had to laugh when I told her what I had done, but there were also tears in my eyes. Not because I was so attached to a plant but rather I felt that little bush took what I gave it and made the most of it. That somehow it was grateful for just being there and getting fed and watered, and its response was to bloom!

This year SO and I have been been cut down numerous times. And it happened again the other day, but we have both been reviewing the purpose of this, and it’s not just because someone was thoughtless or mean and we suffered as a result. It’s worked more than that in us. We are grateful to be here, and despite the hardships and the touch and go existence at times, we are blooming. Maybe if I didn’t know God, I would still be in the same place. But I do know God, and it seems in His infinite wisdom He knows what He’s doing when hardship happens, and it can always produce something good even when things look like hell.

I can honestly tell you that if it weren’t for God, I would have done myself in by now from some of the things I’ve seen and experienced in the whole of my life. I look back on some events, and I can’t even believe they happened. Some will say I’ve created God as a coping mechanism. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. But I know all of the hardships that happened when I was younger have done nothing but prepare me for what I faced this last year and also created a firm belief there is something greater than myself. So I’m glad for the cutting. Mostly, I’m glad to know that when stress is present, I still have hope, and that there is not only life after the stress but life while in it.

note: I realize this is not the subject of this blog, but I never promised to always talk about Richard Armitage. Maybe when I’m done with this series, I’ll go back to my insanity and we can all have a good laugh. For now, I’m hanging with this. :)

#9 Email Correspondence

This is part of my series of posts counting down to and through the Thanksgiving holidays and expressing my thankfulness for something I’ve received, experienced or participated in.

Email.

Email is still such a wonder despite its existence to the general public for more than a couple of decades. I Know I have never gotten over the thrill of being able to converse with anyone from anywhere. And may I never. It is such a joy to be the recipient of someone sharing their thoughts and their feelings and their experiences. If there is one thing I could pinpoint as the most rewarding in being a blogger, it would be that correspondence.

I knew on some level this dynamic occurred with bloggers, but I don’t think it was more than a fleeting thought to me until I started blogging and received notes. This morning I got a note from someone who is a kindred spirit, and this happens quite frequently and is probably the most encouraging aspect of blogging. Not so much to continue blogging but to know that the initial decision I made to publish my thoughts about the madness of being a fan was a good one. Good in that it’s facilitated so many fulfilling relationships for me personally. I can never express my thanks enough for knowing all of you. It’s also good to know I’m not really insane. Unless of course we’re all insane. LOL!

And certainly there are people who send me notes which are criticisms, and I also consider those beneficial. It doesn’t matter what’s said, I love to hear from people. (Gee, I’m sounding like an extravert. :D) And maybe there are criticisms I need to hear. It’s a hard thing for anyone to take criticism, but I’m learning to listen more and more no matter if I initially like what’s being said or not. I do think about what someone takes the time to tell me personally.

The only thing that’s a real pain is all the junk mail. Currently, I have 22,000+ unread notes in the rafrenzy mailbox, and I’m fairly certain most of it is junk. Yep, you read that right. Yes, it’s embarrassing, but hey, I’ve been a little busy the last year. Yes, I’m steadily cleaning it all away!

And occasionally, I miss some personal notes in all that junk, and I did recently. I received a note from someone earlier in the month, and this person had emailed me almost a year and a half ago as well, but I didn’t see that one either. I was mortified when I realized I had ignored not one but two notes from this person — or at least that must be what they’re thinking.

To this reader, if you’re still there: I did not ignore you! I was asleep at the wheel. Reply coming!

I’m going to use this experience as a spur to finish cleaning that mail backlog, because who knows what other lovely notes I may find! :D

And for those who may be interested, most of the personal correspondence I engage in has nothing to do with people being upset by another. And I’m thankful for that being the case.

note: email is actually passe’ to the younger generation, and there is talk that email as we know it may go away one day soon. But until it does, I plan to enjoy it to the fullest.