Category Archives: Funny Stories

Strengthening exercises

Yesterday, I had a short appointment to meet my new primary family doctor. It is necessary for me to have a local physician to cover the basic grounds of needs that I may have, like getting my ears cleaned or lab work done. Most importantly, I needed a local doctor to regulate my blood thinner levels when I take an INR test at home. Because I am now at a certain age and new health care policies, some of the doctors from my team of specialists at Children’s can no longer see me as a patient. Not that they don’t want to see me (as I was told last Fall when I had my long day of seeing the team in rotation,) but I would soon be out of their age of expertise. My birthday early Spring marked that I am now too old. ūüėČ

The local family physician will now be, in terminology, my hematologist (regulate INR levels) and my Genetics doctor (regulate my thyroid level and others like Vitamin D, etc.) I am very thankful that Children’s has an adult program for patients with extreme rare diseases like myself and that I am still under their quality care; but for the basicness, I must admit…having care so close to home is a nice aspect.

Going to the doctor’s office usually means paperwork. Even though I have been a patient before at this facility in town, due to new regulations (no doubt) and the fact that it was a new doctor/first time visit for me, we had a questionnaire to fill out before we got into a room and then had lots of conversation questions between the nurse and the doctor. I have been to my fair share of appointments, so I knew the typical routine: height, weight, vitals. Then medicines. Not to say that I am a genius, but somewhere along the way, I finally typed out all of my medicines with their full prescription names and doses. I even alphabetized them. (Genius!) haha. ūüôā

Next you cover the basic family tree: paternal and maternal–parents and grandparents. Because my disease is genetic, my two older sisters also get looped in the information. Then it’s me. Where do you begin? We already covered the one sentence definition: I have NF2. I tend to talk too much and too detailed, so usually Mom or Dad give the basic rundown of history, starting freshman year of high school–the basics of treatments and how they affected my body and what doesn’t work in my body anymore. i give my two cents when needed, make corrections or answer questions.

I usually get asked three main questions: Do you smoke? Drink alcohol? Any chance you are pregnant? No, to all the above. So yesterday when the nurse started asking me questions, I was startled by the first, due to–what I considered–the randomness of the inquiry: “Do you drink caffeine?” Now understand, the past week there had been extreme late nights, awakening with early mornings and a bustle of family activity. Even yesterday, after an early morning farewell to Marcia as she heads West for the summer, Mom and I decided to do all our errands in Xenia before the doctor appointment. I like checking off my errands lists, but it leaves me exhausted..especially when in a hurry (my body doesn’t hurry.) “Do you drink caffeine?” Even after my two morning cups of Tim Horton’s coffee, obviously, my mind was not functioning.

I look at Mom with the, “I am quite confused!!” facial expression. “Caffeine,” Mom says. Reading Mom’s lips, the brain solves the equation: Caffeine was your morning cups of coffee. My eyes widen with energy, “Oh yes! I drink caffeine!” I get the reassuring nod and as the nurse continues to look at the computer screen, she asks the next question: “Do you exercise?” Fully awake and comprehending the question, I chose my reply wisely–“Define ‘exercise.'” ūüôā After a pause, I add,”because if you’re looking for running or crunches, then my answer is no. I do neck stretches, but things like walking up the stairs is an exercise for me…everyday living is an exercise.”

It’s true. Trying to stand with good posture or keeping my head upright is an exercise. Bending down to pick up something off the floor is an exercise. Folding my laundry, helping with the dishes or pouring milk from a new container is an exercise. Today, it was walking on the grass with my walker from the parking lot to the circus tent. These daily exercises may not be adequate enough to re-strengthen what the tumors have destroyed–in fact they’re not. But there is still a hope beyond the dwindling physical strength and it is more than adequate.

This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!

Nehemiah 8:10b, NLT

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I was Needed

This probably will sound absurd. It probably is. However, this morning I was¬†needed.¬†It wasn’t anything urgent and could have waited (I suppose), but at the moment, I decided to take action myself. I wanted to be depended upon. I needed, for myself, the reverse psychology thinking–being the giver..instead of the dependent. One small gesture gratified this. This is Muffy. He’s my cat. He’ll be ten (in human years) this Fall and has used four of his “nine lives.” He’s pretty special. When we lived in Colorado, all our cats were outside cats, making their home in the back of the barn. I never saw any mice! When we moved, Muff and his brother cat, Tux, had to do major adjusting as we had no barn. We tried purchasing a small dog house and placed it on the patio. It wasn’t appreciated at first (although Muff finally started using it, but prefers the cushioned lawn chairs.) As for Tux, he discovered the shed across the street. I always thought it funny as I referenced them in parallel to the personalities of Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25), because they certainly acted like it.

Now that it is just Muffy in our family, he has had to make more adjustments. He still loves the outdoors and when the grass grew so tall at the unoccupied neighbor’s house–Muffy was living in a jungle dream. I now have seen many, many mice (more left-over version, sad to say.) The Winter months were harsh, so he spent a lot of time indoors; in the summer, sometimes he comes in on extremely warm/humid days. Outside, he claims one specific patio chair that we placed a green blanket on like a basket-shape. Inside, he now claims my bed; or his newest fancy–the “underworld” between my mattress and the floor.

Taking care of Muff used to be a cinch. Now, I not only depend on my family to help with my own needs, but also taking care of Muffy…even something as simple as placing his food dish out on the patio. And that is where my morning story takes place:

Muffy has now, too, discovered the coolness (in literal terms) of the shed across the street, so it was no surprise to me that he didn’t come when I called his name out the screen door with a short, “Here kitty, kitty.” I ate my own breakfast and when I decided upon a piece of toast, my eye caught a whiff of black on my turn to the pantry. “Hi, Muffy!” The main door being closed, he somehow sensed my talking to him, because he started the “cat dance”: tail swishing, head twisting, rubbing his nose against the screen door. “Are you hungry?” My obvious inquiry is answered with another cat dance.

I push my walker to the laundry room and get a dish of food. I had noticed Marcia’s hallway light to her upstairs bedroom was on, as well as the basement. Figuring that she was awake and in either one of those two places (she was gone–unknown to me), I text her and ask if she can help get Muffy’s food to the patio. As I wait for a reply, Muffy’s cat dances are getting pathetically cuter and I just decide–“I’m going to do this! (somehow)” Even though it is only two steps down, there is only a side handle, so logically, it is not safe for me to try to hold the food dish and screen door open with one hand and try to backhand grab the handle–it is complicated and doesn’t work…I already tried it numerous ways.

To avoid a Lifeline escapade, I open the door and stick my right foot out to avoid Muffy running inside. He just rubs his head against your foot regardless. I quickly set the dish on the first step just out of reach for the closing door line. Muffy is thrilled and starts munching away on his bland, dry breakfast food. I close the door and smiled. I just fed my cat his breakfast. ūüôā

I often forget that God desires to be the Giver. He gives, even when I don’t ask, and I take the blessings for granted. He gives because He Loves. When I receive that blessing and share it with others, God too receives the glory.

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.

Isaiah 30:18, ESV

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A “Pick-Me-Uppy”

During my parents ten-day absence, my Lifeline was set so in the case I fell, triggering the sensor or needed help, thus personally pressing the button–if no one answered with the communicator over the intercom, the Lifeline representative would automatically dispatch emergency personnel instead of calling my parents cell phones, which is usually the prior action in normal circumstances when they are home.

Knowing this, I took extreme extra caution as to my watching my balance (although I could not fully control that aspect) when standing up from sitting at the table or the times of bending over to retrieve something off the floor. I also made certain that I tried my best not to accidentally bump my necklace and set off the sensor without my knowledge. Last thing I wanted was for an emergency squad to come barging in finding me perfectly normal or otherwise startled by their presence. I only had to concern myself with this thinking when I was home alone.

I had an immense!! coverage of helping, encouraging, loving, giving hands during this time. Actually, it is not something new; I just felt the impact of everyone’s generosity and concern more being here alone. And I am grateful…so blessed. There were hot evening meals, invites to get coffee or help me with errands, if needed; there were those who offered to be “backup” plans just in case and one to be available to help with outdoor needs, such as in the event we got snow. I got texts and emails from friends out-of-state making sure I was doing well and had the chance to make a few Skype video chats and call my grandpa as well. The week was anything but the dull-drums! ūüôā

Because I do need more help these days–and just for a safety factor–we did ask two girls my age to help me on a regular basis. One came for a few hours in the afternoon and the other stayed with me late evening until mid-morning. They helped me get to the basement so I could paint, walk to get the mail or take me for errands/church; dishes, folding laundry, cleaning Muffy’s kitty litter and taking out the trash; even getting my compression stocking on in the morning! Things I can no longer do well or if at all on my own. Marcia was around often too, but it was nice not to lay all responsibility on her shoulders; my family does so much already.

However, it was Marcia who saved me from a Lifeline emergency squad experience. The day after my parents left, my friend had invited me over to her house to be with her family and stay for dinner. I had roughly about an hour between my evening helper leaving for the day and my friend coming. I finished getting ready and then decided that I had enough time to quickly check my email. I pushed my walker into the study room to use my parent’s computer as it was more convenient (or so I thought.) I parked my walker to the right of the office chair and was in the process of swiveling the chair around so I could sit when my shoe hit the floor mat and sent me off-balance.

I blurt out, “AH!” and since the chair is also moving, I have no composure–only the downward decent to the floor. Now keep in mind this all happens so quickly, as like my thoughts–and as my head is swarming with perceivable outcomes (emergency personnel, being stuck on the floor, my friend coming), I suddenly feel a pair of strong arms trying to ease or prevent the rest of my fall to the floor. I am Deaf and my position to the computer left me with my back facing the study room door; plus I was home alone two minutes prior.

One would think that this would have at least startled me or caused another blurtation, “AH!”–but instead I am thinking thoughts of an angel. I finally land on the floor sort of siting awkwardly cross-legged and see a whiff of hair out of my right peripheral¬†vision. I tilt my head up and see Marcia’s smiling yet concerned face peering down at me. “Oh! Hello!”…the first words out of my mouth. The Lifeline sensor finally sets off the intercom; Marcia goes to correspond with the representative and then returns to help me off the floor. I would say “impeccable timing,” but my friend that evening declared, “Hand of Providence!” Indeed, it was.

“Thank you.” The two-worded phrase doesn’t seem to circumference the gratitude I have for all that is bestowed…whether in meeting my physical needs or upholding my name in daily prayers. To each of you–may you be richly blessed. ‚̧

You Tube video: (you can click on the song title to be directed o the page)

More Than You’ll Ever Know.”¬†Watermark.¬†All Things New.¬†Rocketown Records, 2000.

 

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Selfies

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not tech-savvy. I still use a flip phone, none-Mac laptop and a digital camera. My social media world consists of this blog (I know the basics), a Facebook account and a Twitter (I¬†had to ask my cousin why people wrote with #hashtags as I was clueless.) It was only two weeks ago that I joined, what I consider, the elite ranks of e-readers, as my parents helped me pick a Nook that met my needs now that my hands are starting to change and holding books is not always an easy task. Considering all this, it should not surprise you then if I told you that it was only at the beginning of this year I learned a very important word in the world we know today. The word: Selfie.

By now you have probably regained your composure from having fallen off your chair in laughter, but think me not of being a complete hillbilly, because in my defense, I was taking “Selfies” longer than the word has even been around. And I did it with film camera and it’s timer. It was only this past weekend that I placed the two key facts together (my own pictures and term definition) to realize this discovery:

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This is me–fresh high school graduate about ready to leave for my first year of college. It was a Sunday and when we got home, I decided to try taking a few “artistic” photos before lunch. I grabbed my golden 35mm Kodak camera and went to the barn where my eye had distinguished a few candid areas. I placed my camera on the third and final step that led to the upstairs recreation room, set the camera to timer mode, and quickly sat in the weeds smiling in the direction of the parked Honda. I didn’t move until I thought there had been plenty of time for the camera to “click.”

When I developed my film, I had no idea if my “Selfie” had even turned out with me actually in the picture; other past pictures had been out of focus, too far away or too close, cheesy, or vain attempts to remember my long locks of curled hair. And so as I sat this past weekend sorting my pictures, I thought of how we see pictures today: Instant. There is no waiting for the film to develop or anticipation of seeing the pictures while waiting in line to pay for them. No strenuous task of ordering reprints by holding the negatives to the light or frustration of even having bad pictures as we simply delete what we do not want before ever ordering prints online anyway. We share our pictures on social media then comment, like (or dislike), and tag each other.¬†Everything in an instant.

I am not condemning “Selfies,” social media or even modern technology, because even I enjoy these and take part in them. It’s more the combination of having found my old pictures and then having to face my life in a new aspect of the “Selfie” living with NF2 that this past weekend caused me to slow down. Even just for an instant and face reality, choices. Life is about choices, change. And one day, it will be set for eternity.

It will all happen so fast, in a blink, a mere flutter of the eye. The last trumpet will call, and the dead will be raised from their graves with a body that does not, cannot decay. All of us will be changed! We’ll step out of our mortal clothes and slide into immortal bodies,replacing everything that is subject to death with eternal life.

I Corinthians 15:52-53

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Beauty Sleep

I always thought the phrase, “Beauty sleep” was a figure of speech. That is, until I experienced beauty sleep first hand. Beauty sleep is real.

Now, what I am about to tell you may come to you as a shock. You may find it unbelievable or just plain weird; I doubt this scenario ever reaches Psychology 101 classes. If it did, I would love to participate in the discussion. However, since it is just me and you, I want to offer a little pre-reading advice: after seeing my family’s reaction as my story unfolded the morning after my beauty sleep, I highly suggest that if your mouth is full of food or liquids that you first swallow before continuing to read. I’ll wait… (pause)

Like most stories with a good plot, the reader benefits from learning about the character’s setting and pre-existing events that might factor in as the story progresses. A general synopsis of myself: I drink 2 cups of coffee in the morning and herbal tea in the evening; I just renewed my gym pass and Thursday walked a half mile around the indoor track, resulting in the realization that I am very out of shape and it is harder to hold my neck in good posture. Friday, we embarked on a whole day out visiting various shops in an outlet mall for some necessities and a day of being together. I walked the whole day (with my walker) and by the time we grabbed Chipotle for dinner, I was so hungry, but almost too tired to eat. I am not sorry for overdoing myself though as it was one of the best times out that I have had in a long time.

Saturday morning, we left for the Victoria Theatre¬†in Dayton as we attended a lightwire production of¬†The Ugly Duckling¬†by Hans Christian Anderson and a modern twist to Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare.¬†As evening gave way, we set our clocks forward an hour for Daylight Savings and Sunday morning seemed to arrive too quickly. I didn’t have time for my first cup of coffee before leaving for church and just planned on having it when I returned home again. After church, I had a few errands to run on that side of town, so I ended up coming home around noon. Deciding Sweet tea would taste better with our tuna lunch, I then went the whole rest of the day with only one other cup of hot Vanilla Almond black tea. As midnight rolled around, I finally concluded my weekend and headed to bed most exhausted.

It is all hazy memory from that point on until 9am Monday morning. I can’t tell you much details. I don’t know what my intentions were, what time in the morning it actually was (I am guessing around 3am or so), or how long I was in beauty land. One thing’s for sure–I am quite talented in my sleep. Yes, beauty sleep. And if you need me to enhance the already laughable tale…let me tell what I remember. I was standing at my bathroom sink. I had my powdered foundation in my left hand and had somehow managed to retrieve the circular pad from the bottom of the foundation container but it had dropped in the sink. I remember seeing the sink, but thinking the pad is on top of the foundation, so I start trying to “grab hold” of it. Frustrated at my hands, I start digging my fingers into the foundation, but then realize the pad is not there. I am not sure what happens in my train of thought after this, but I do manage to get the pad from the sink and swipe it on the foundation. It was as if I was explaining to someone how to smoothly apply your makeup, because I was saying something as I started applying the powder to my face. It was then that I broke into a better state of consciousness.

I put down my foundation and sort of mumbled, “What am I doing?” and then giggled as I turned to leave the bathroom and back to bed. I didn’t get up again (at least to my knowledge) until 9am. I didn’t get up thinking or even remembering beauty land, until I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. My counter-top was messy with my makeup sprawled out and powdered foundation remains near the sink. You need evidence? My foundation bears trench lines where I had aimed to retrieve the powdered foundation pad but to no avail. Best part is when I opened the middle-cupboard drawer to put my makeup back in my makeup bag, I found it full of non-makeup items, one being a travel sized Vaseline container. I have no memory of any kind in this re-shifting/organizing process. As I get everything back in order, I try to think of a plausible explanation. I come to none but laughter.

Extreme physical fatigue, Daylight Savings and lack of my normal caffeine levels are all intermingled in this strange experience…although a higher emphasis in the caffeine withdraw is most probable. I also wondered why my makeup? I only wear mascara anymore, and it is usually only on the days I am headed out around town or other occasions. Even mascara takes me long to apply, so I just have gone back to a natural, no makeup face and have had no regrets. I have only kept my makeup otherwise for very special occasions, such as weddings or upcoming graduation ceremonies. I suppose I will never know or understand–not that it matters–but one thing’s for certain: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,”regardless of whether or not you are fully awake.

For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 5:14, NASB

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I didn’t finish…

I have to admit that while I am a Summer Olympic Games fanatic, the Winter Olympic Games definitely have a few personal highlights: figure skating, luge, curling (which was never aired this year at normal hours; I could never get myself out of bed at 3:30am to watch the event…sad) and a new fascination for Slopestyle skiing. Not being naturally talented at any of these, or any other events for that matter, my most common response while watching the performances went as such: “That’s INSANE!” Yes, pretty much insane, but this is what these athletes train for–the dream, the passion, the Olympic moment.

During these games, I realized that I sympathized with the athletes who had a hard time performing in their events–not being able to land their jumps and twists, coming in a split second short of being on the medal podium, the emotions of personal background stories of their own family losses…these moments remind you that even the greatest athletes are human. And while there were many memorable moments to celebrate in outstanding performance victories, I believe the greatest victories were evident from the athletes who struggled. They fell down, yet picked themselves up to finish their performance. It showed true determination. True victory.

I was most impressed by the figure skating performances. Now, I have a hard enough time standing and balancing on my own two feet as it is…so if shoes consist of having attached blades, wheels or anything that causes movement–such as skis or snowboards–I don’t touch them. But this was not always the case. Growing up, I did enjoy skiing (I learned to ski at age six and skied through high school years), a little snowboarding (until mid-college days when my balance turned for worse), rollerblading, ice skating (we had a frozen pond out in the back field or we used the ditch across the road), and roller skating (except the last memory, in which I took a fall at the YMCA center leaving me unable to get up on my own and a trip to the ER: thus, it confirmed that my days of moving feet business were over!)

ice skating

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Being somewhat a helpless romantic when it comes to either ballet or figure skating–and maybe combination that this Olympics, due to deafness, I couldn’t hear the figure skating music–I started to think of songs that I would perform my routines to in the event that I was a figure skater. For a short program, because judges score on technical activity, I thought fun songs, such as “I have Confidence” from the Sound of Music or “Linus and Lucy” from The Peanuts would be lively. And the long, free skate program: “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven! It is a deep emotional song…a performance could be so lavishing.

I did perform “Moonlight Sonata” my senior year of high school; not in a free skate performance, but for my senior piano recital. I had been playing piano since the first grade. I had memorized pieces of Bach and Beethoven in the past, but “Moonlight Sonata” was my last. I memorized the music, practiced until I felt secure in the music, and set out for my performance. I am not one for audiences. I tried to calm my nerves. The piano faced the wall. I was staring in white. I started to play with shaking hands. ¬†“Moonlight Sonata ” is not a fast tempo music. It is a slow tempo…deep emotions. I let my mind wander for a split second in which I lost my concentration. My mind went as blank and white as the wall I faced.

I stop and turn to the audience. “I need to start over.” I get nice reassuring smiles. By now I cannot get my mind and thoughts to relax. I restart the piece, but struggle in mid-way…again my mind goes blank. I feel a flush flow to my face turning my cheeks red and stinging tears about to drop from my eyes. To avoid crying on stage, I simply get up from the bench, take a slight bow, and return to my seat. My dad whispers, “Don’t cry. They are going to take group pictures,” and gently puts his arm around my shoulders. Too late. Tears abound. No one mentioned my performance. People understood. But I held it against myself: I didn’t finish.

There are days when I ask God how I am to finish the task set before me, when I feel as if my physical body simply is just staring into a blank white wall. Circumstances seem too difficult, uncertainties leave room for doubts and questions of my abilities. I still struggle with wanting to be doing bigger things, but was reminded graciously that if I am faithful in the small, God will reward with more when I am ready. Olympians are not made overnight. They train in the small daily tasks for years…with the reward of a bigger performance than they ever imagined.

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.

~Pierre Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee; “Father of modern Olympic Games.”

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Until the New Year

Typical middle school years are normally the worst for most people, but for myself, it was the best three years. I enjoyed all my classes, excelled playing my flute in band,¬†secured amazing friends (a few I still keep in contact with to this day), blossomed from buck teeth and huge glasses to fancy braces and better shaped lenses, let my hair grow long and curled it every morning (yes…days of self-discipline!) and got involved with a few “behind the scene” jobs for Student Council during my eighth grade year since I was a library aid¬†and often had the time to help. (Yes, LIBRARY AID! And I gave good book recommendations!) ūüôā

It was in my eighth grade year that I took Algebra I. Besides English class after lunch–no one could make diagramming sentences or Sherlock Holmes more interesting than Mr. Peoples–Algebra was my favorite class!¬†It made sense…your equations had to balance. Simple. Then freshman year of high school I took Geometry. What a nightmare; I have never been a shapes and dimension person, although I¬†thrived in Algebra II/Trigonometry. Maybe I am just odd, but none-the-less, first year¬†Algebra¬†was the best.

Our teacher, Mrs.¬†Elderidge, sat next to her over-head projector and faced the class when she began to teach or helped us work out our homework questions. I had only just failed one hearing test, so hearing loss was not a huge issue at the time, but this set up in¬†a classroom is¬†ideal for deaf people! I only had a handful of teachers in high school who taught the same–I really probably should have started interpreters for my classes even then.

Teachers can have a great sense of humor. I heard this comment a few times in high school, but it was Mrs. Elderidge who said it first in my memory. Scenario: Last day¬†of school¬†before¬†Christmas break and everyone (students)¬†is anxious to¬†go home and enjoy¬†days of sleeping in, skiing, and no homework. I don’t even know how teachers got their classrooms to concentrate! Anyway, we are in¬†Algebra¬†class¬†and¬†had just finished grading our previous day’s assignments,¬†then start to¬†load¬†our backpacks. Mrs. Elderidge, in¬†ever-cheerful spirits, pipes¬†in, “Good job, everyone! No more homework for the rest of the year!” Our class gives a “Yay” with clapping hands, totally forgetting the obvious fact that we would be returning to school on January 3rd. Mrs. Elderidge brought us back to reality and then the dismissal bell rings.

After our relatives left this morning, I started scrambling around to see how¬†much I could finish before the end of the day…something with the non-stop reminder from the world that it will be a last day of 2013, tomorrow is starting over–the time factor, the ticking¬†clock.¬†“It’s the end of the year, I have to finish everything and start new!”¬†was the first mind-set…then I scratched all those plans and just acted as if it were a typical day. I think I accomplished more in doing so, but there was moment where I thought of eighth grade Algebra: I paid an¬†online¬†bill–“Yay! No more bills for the rest of the year!” I had a little laugh in memory of being brought back to reality.

Tomorrow is a new day of a new year, but that fact will not stop¬†life from being lived in the moment just as we are at this present time. I think the season of the new year is special, because it gives us a chance to reflect back on the year past–the blessings and the hardships, the old friends and new friends, the expected and the un-expected.

Thank you for being part of my journey.

Happy New Year!

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Mel’s Twelve Memories of Christmas

Today is December 12th. It is not a significant date for me personally, but it does remind me of the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I am sure you all have heard this melody. One of my favorite versions of this song is actually an ice skating performance by Olympic medalist, Scott Hamilton. I was obviously too young to remember watching this on television, but Mom taped to VHS the 1990 Disney’s Christmas on Ice performance that year. We watched it probably every year growing up, as ice skating was a something our family enjoyed…not only watching during the Winter Olympics, but also trying our own talents on the frozen pond out in the field. Let’s just say, I never¬†landed that “Double Triple Axel.” ūüėČ

Pulling out the Christmas DVDs and VHS tapes last week, I found this recording. Exciting! Even better is that captions played too. I was shocked! In watching some of the performances, I got to travelling down memory lane and complied some of my favorite Christmas memories:

12. Caroling: Whether it was with the youth group (the van rides were memories in themselves), my family (we sang at the nursing home), or friends in Denver (we went around the neighborhood, to the fire station, and¬†then sang at the town square by the lighted tree¬†in Arvada)–singing carols and giving¬†baskets of fruit was something I always looked forward to each year.

11. Family ski trips¬†at Wolf Creek: It’s true–

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10. Handel’s Messiah: Last December, we attended a performance at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton. It was just the orchestra and¬†the four soloists: a soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and baritone. Beautiful. If you’ve never listened to the entire oratorio,¬†I recommend¬†it.

9. Coming home¬†for Christmas breaks¬†in college and on Christmas Eve (post-grad): The song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” took somewhat a¬†literal¬†meaning.

8. Calling the grandparents: It was really sad when my hearing no longer permitted me to¬†talk to my grandparents at the same time as my family. (I had to call separate using the internet captel.)¬†But that won’t be the case this year!!

7. I am not sure where the tradition started, but after the Christmas Eve service, we drove around town to see Christmas lights, then came home to watch¬†Jim Henson’s Muppet Christmas Carol. When it finished, we sang Christmas carols by the lighted tree.

6. The gingerbread candle family: When I was about 7 or 8, Mom purchased a candle making kit and we made gingerbread candles for Christmas. (You would not believe how many years the gingerbread scent lasted!) Since there were four of us sisters, we each took a different mold structure and when they were set as candles, we painted them. Best part is that Mom still has the candles and sets them out each year.

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Guess which one is mine–

5. Christmastime by Michael W. Smith: It was the most anticipated album of the season!

4. Community performance of the Nutcracker held at Adams State College: It took place every other year and was always very well done! The youngest ballerinas in training made¬†the cutest mice…how could the Mouse King be intimidating¬†after being associated with them?

3. Decorating my room with Marcia: Sharing a room meant sharing the fun in decorating for the holiday. When we finished, we liked to fall asleep with the Christmas lights twinkling throughout the room.

2. Dad’s French toast: Christmas brunch! Bonus, we got¬†“cutie”-sized oranges¬†in our stockings.

1. “The Little Drummer Boy,” Whiteheart version: 1993. Pure rock, drums…best ever.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions or memories?

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A Christmas without Disappointment

Needless to say, last night I was a bit disappointed.¬†Although I was pretty excited to wear my new¬†mustard yellow fuzzy-knitted winter hat!¬†But I am not so certain it was worth the long haul of pushing my walker¬†on¬†slushed-iced sidewalks in 20 degree weather. I take that back…yes, it was worth it for the memory–Oh, the memory!!¬†But since it was dark and slushy-ice,¬†I could not go into town on my own. Let me just say one thing: I have the coolest parents!

I have been looking forward to this weekend for quite sometime. The first weekend of December and it has been filled with Christmas cheer. Friday night we attended a concert at the university. I planned my outfit of a fancy red shirt, my green polka dot sweater and fun red earrings that resemble gift bows. The concert? The one and only Denver and the Mile High Orchestra. They are just about the jazziest, craziest modern horn band that will make you laugh and worship all in one evening. Believe me, my polka dots fit right in with the college campus fun!

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I first saw Denver and his band perform on¬†my Make-a-Wish cruise my senior year of high school. The radio station, K-Love, was hosting the cruise that took place the first part of January 2005. It would sail from Las Angeles to Catalina Island, and to Ensenada, Mexico before returning to the states. K-Love had been a great source of music, encouragement and fun during my radiation days in Denver (the city.) Mom and I could laugh along with radio hosts–John and Sheri Rivers-during early, cold, rush-hour drives to the hospital; Mom could sing and stay awake on drives home while I slept; and once we attended a movie they were promoting for¬†Third Day’s¬†Come Together album. Jokingly, I put my name in the box for a chance to win concert tickets–guess whose name got drawn? ūüėČ

When the conversation about my qualifying for a Wish first came about, it shouldn’t be a surprise then that I would choose the cruise: a week full of concerts by my favorite bands! I see now that it was God timed, because after my freshman year of college, my hearing started to decline. By junior year, I was using interpreters for chapels and classes. Although I could still hear music, I usually played it loud and started keeping to “oldies,” basically no more K-Love as they played songs that I didn’t know.

Like I’ve said, this year at Christmas is different without music. On Friday, it is not that I didn’t know¬†the songs (minus one or two), it is that I didn’t hear¬†them. Nothing.¬†I knew this,¬†and went anyway: the performance and atmosphere was the reason I went.¬†From what I remember on the cruise to what I saw Friday night:¬†the band¬†hasn’t changed much. ūüôā

So why the big disappointment last night? Maybe I was expecting too much considering the weather and cold. Or maybe it was remembering how fun last year’s Parade of Lights had been and I just assumed the same for this year (without taking my current¬†physical state into any consideration.) The best part about the town’s Parade of Lights is that all the little shops are open;¬†between Beans-n-Cream and¬†Stoney Creek Roasters, you are bound to¬†get in a free hot drink outside their doors; and just about all of town’s residents and college students flood the streets. It’s like a movie moment.

And there we¬†all were–ready for the parade. You can always tell when a parade begins as you see police car lights flashing. Since we were¬†standing on the “end” part of the parade route, I saw the flashing lights approach very slowly, but they finally came.¬†The police car was suburban style and it was pulling a trailer on which Santa and Mrs. Clause were seated on a sleigh, pulled by two model reindeer. I waved as they passed and didn’t think much to the fact that they were followed by a regular police car, with flashing lights. I still am not registering the fact that after that police car¬†there was¬†a huge line of regular cars.

Mom looks at me, “That’s it.”

“THAT’S IT?”

Haha, yes. Disappointment.

The truth is, the Christmas season can be disappointing-could be the weather, not finding “the perfect gift” for your friend, or even something as silly as a one-float parade through a whole town of people. Santa may have been the beginning and end to¬†our town’s¬†parade, but Jesus is the beginning and end of everything. The same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)–in Him there is no disappointment.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Revelation 22:13

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Jingle Bells [translated]

Dashing through the snow [Taking a brisk stroll]
In a one-horse open sleigh¬†[Mel’s walker made the day]
O’er the fields we go [Down the street we roll]
Laughing all the way
Bells on bobtail ring [Pushing Basho was exciting]
Making spirits bright [Passing cars saw quite the sight ]
What fun it is to ride and sing [But in doing all these things]
A sleighing song tonight! [It gives me a blog post entry to write!]

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(chorus)
Jingle bells, jingle bells, [Come on, Mel! Come on, Mel!]
Jingle all the way. [Work off all you ate on turkey day!]
Oh! what fun it is to ride [Family greatness you cannot hide]
In a one-horse open sleigh. [Is something I would say]
Jingle bells, jingle bells,¬†[Click, click–taking pictures on a cell]
Jingle all the way; [It can turn out to be a deceptive display]
Oh! what fun it is to ride [So notice any¬†strange appearance in Melissa’s stride]
In a one-horse open sleigh. [Rest assured she is okay] ūüėČ

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