Tag Archives: being thankful

Thankful for Today

I didn’t take much notice of the blue skies and appearing sunshine when I first woke this morning. Remembering the days of summer when waking between 6:30-7 A.M. was pure joy (and total spontaneous…), I groggily pull myself out of bed around 7:40 after smacking my snooze button at least three times prior. Stanley Steemer was coming between 8-9 A.M. to spot clean the carpet, in which my room was one of them. I text Mom to tell her I am awake (though not desiring to be out of bed yet) and get ready.

As I enter the kitchen, Mom has the coffee brewing and I grab a quick bowl of cereal for breakfast. “I could be more awake if I went to bed earlier,” my thoughts conclude. This past week, I have had many late evenings. If I did not want to blame myself, I would put blame on the authors who write incredible novels. I started one Saturday evening and simply could not put it down! Last night I had about eighty pages left and knew if I didn’t conclude the story, I wouldn’t sleep anyway. I am known to finish good reads such as this at the wee hours in the morning, but last night, it was just until 1 A.M.

Blue skies and sunshine were not highly celebrated by my family or I while living in Colorado. In fact, like the mountains, I simply took the combination for granted. After moving, the skies proved very different! I can handle the long streaks of rainy days, but what gets me is the days where the sky is just white: no clouds, no sun, no blue. Just white, as if a drywall has been placed between earth and the heavens. Not so today! Blue skies and sunshine. As I reenter the kitchen a few hours later for lunch, I tell Mom: “These kinds of days give me energy!” And sort of pump my arms in cheerleader fashion.

Last week I called my good lady friend for a chat. Gayle is more like another grandma as she has known my family and I even before I was born. Her godly wisdom and sense of humor are something that encourages me every chance we get to talk (or when I visited her during Denver days.) She is the only mid-eighties woman I know that can chat more about football than even myself! No offense to my family, but I don’t get very far when discussing the topic with them (except for my brother-in-law!) 🙂

So when I called her, our first order of talk was indeed football, seeing as the Superbowl is approaching this coming Sunday and we are both Broncos fans! We talked about family and the holidays; current news, weather and a few fun things coming up. Eventually we got around to discussing health–she has Diabetes and myself with NF2. About the only thing we have in common is bad balance and occasional falls (but no broken bones!) We near the end of our conversation and I briefly mention the dates for my upcoming MRI/doctor appointments. I share a few thoughts on the matter and tell her that there is nothing I can do at this point besides take life one day at a time and live it to the fullest and to the best of my abilities while I can.

She listened then responded, “Well I’ll tell you…I am just so thankful that you are still able to get yourself around and take care of yourself and not confined yet. I am happy to hear that.” I got a few tears in my eyes, “Thanks Gayle.”

When I commented to Mom about the sunshine, blue skies and energy, my mind flashed with thoughts of Gayle. She was thankful for my health, though we had discussed even the changes that are spiraling downward. How often do I get out of bed and pray simply, “Thank you for this new day,” or “Thank you that I can still get myself out of bed and prepare for the day.” In honesty, I don’t…especially on the white days. But I desire to start a new praise habit…one of thankfulness in the morning, no matter the colors of the sky.

Blue skies that take me back to being a child
Trees with leaves that turn the colors I love
A heart that’s beating to Your melodies ringing
And I am a miracle ’cause heaven is a part of me
And You are the song that I’m singing

“All Things New.” Watermark. Rocketown, 2004.


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Family Times

My Father’s House

Last night I was finger-poking a few emails at the kitchen table. Mom was gone and Dad had gone out back to his workshop. I was not surprised to hear his footsteps come in a while later, but was caught off guard by his excited bounding around the kitchen entry way and motioning me to follow him with a big smile on his face. Doing my best to make haste in following him towards the garage door without falling, I still am clueless as to what is going on or what I should be expecting to see.

Dad motions to go down the garage stairs and then does so himself. As he nears the bottom, I start to make my first step and grab the railings out of instinct. “OH WOW!!!”, I blurt out as I look at Dad who is all smiles at the bottom of the stairs. I look back at the new railings (attached to the old ones which are just huge wooden, flat beams). The new smaller, circular handle railings were perfect! Fixing the railings on these stairs has been on the top of my OT list, as for starters…I am serious I have “stairophobia”: my own terminology for, “Mel is afraid of falling down the stairs.” I even freak out on curbs. Going up is not a problem…just down. So the garage stairs ending in concrete…I just loathed.

Back in high school or college, if you asked me where I saw myself in five or ten years, you would never have heard an answer such as, “I can see myself  being a disabled and unemployed single adult living with my parents.” I also don’t think I would have ever mentioned living in the Midwest, painting or writing a blog either. Everything I said (because I know I did have the dreams like being married and having a high status corporate job) or would have said–would definitely been the extreme opposite of what I live today. I still have dreams and hopes for the future–they are now just different…and it has been a long road of acceptance to finally realize that home is where I need to be.

After my first DVT, I moved back in with my parents: and I was NOT co0l with the situation. I tried everything to help my helpless case but to no avail. After a few months, I decided that if this was going to be “home” until I bounced back on my feet, then I had t0 make my room as “my room.” We got my bed in and Mom helped me arrange so I had a bookshelf. It felt more cozy and life went on…about the time I have a few good possible apartments to tour, my second DVT hits. It all went down from there. It wasn’t until June of this year that I talked with my Dad: “I guess I should stop apartment hunting, huh?” One look from him confirmed my answer and somehow that is when full acceptance of “living at home” settled in…and I had a peace about the situation.

The typhoon that recently struck the Philippines, leaving horrific conditions and deaths, has been on my mind and in my prayers for those it has affected…for those who lost everything that was considered “home.” My heart goes out to them and it has caused me to see, yet again, the many blessings that flow into my life each day. I have never experienced a typhoon or hurricane, flood, fire, earthquake, robbery or forced to leave my home. The most I deal with is the privacy boundary line between my parents and myself–but to scale of the others, it seems so small.

As I made my decision about no more chemo and putting the AFO braces on hold, I mentioned to my Mom that I just wanted to live with no extraness until that was no longer possible (i.e. when I really can’t drive on my own, need OT help in getting a shower or having to use a wheelchair.) As I continued to talk, I got some tears, but was not sad. They were reaffirming tears: My physical body is temporary, just like this home in which I live…it will one day be made new. I have accepted that just as I accepted the fact I know live with my parents. The future is unstable–ask me where I see myself in five or ten years and I think you would just get a blank stare. I don’t know my future plans, but I know where I am headed–where my real home is…and that gives me hope. Yet another reason to have a heart filled with thankfulness.

Don’t get lost in despair; believe in God, and keep on believing in Me. My Father’s home is designed to accommodate all of you. If there were not room for everyone, I would have told you that. I am going to make arrangements for your arrival. I will be there to greet you personally and welcome you home, where we will be together. You know where I am going and how to get there.

John 14:1-4 (The Voice)


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Family Times, Uncategorized

Appreciate the Hands Day

There seems to be a “day” for everything. My favorite part of the lounge at work was the huge calendar posted on the wall with different events for the week or special days, such as “National Marshmallow Day”; “Chips and Salsa Day”; “National Crossword Puzzle Day”; “National Peanut Day”…I mean literally–the list is endless! The only one that I have never been a fan of is “National Talk like a Pirate Day.” Our brother dorm during my freshman year of college literally took the day into full effect, some with costumes even. It was fun but after a few “Argggg Matey !” I had heard enough. But they did it ALL day–gruffy accented pirate talk–I just found it annoying. 🙂

There are days of fun, days of remembrance, days of randomness, days of awareness. Even this past Sunday was National Coffee Day, in which I took the liberty of enjoying a second mug of our freshly brewed Seattle’s Best. This post has been long time in the making…in other words, I have wanted to do this post for a long time but I believe that the timing was delayed….because God was bringing me to this point where I would learn from this post experience…where my physical body would be at a place to where I fully understand the significance of being thankful. It is the season of the soul.

Therefore, I now take a new liberty and declare today as my own, “Appreciate the Hands Day.” (In part celebration of the last OT session this morning, in which we finalized my list of things needed to order on my own and also received a few new helpful tools for my finger function).

Take these hands and lift them up
For I have not the strength to praise You near enough
See I have nothing, I have nothing without You

Bebo Norman. “Nothing Without You.” Try. 

Around my birthday, my grandpa sent me a card with a beautiful picture on the front. It was one of those reprint cards where it was an artist’s painting…in this case a watercolor. Curious of the painter–figuring it was someone famous like Monet–I flipped it over and the first thing I notice is how sloppy the artist’s signature looked. My mind is not fast to pick up on these things, but it took me a few minutes to make the connection (and also reading the description of the author) that this particular watercolor was not an ordinary watercolor. It was designed by this artist who painted it with his mouth as his hands were idle. My mouth just dropped. I would have never known if it had not been for the signature and description on the back. Come to think of it, up until that point, I don’t think I had ever known about that type of art work…only one exception would be Joni Eareckson Tada.

I googled a bit and found the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists website and soon found myself reading through the list of artist bios and pictures. Just astounding talent and artwork! http://www.mfpausa.com

The thing is at that point in time, my hands–although starting to weaken and numb–were very able to function “normal” (to borrow the term.) The thought came to mind that I should try a painting by using my mouth only, but never put the full effort into the idea as I was painting other canvases, especially for the show. Now that my hands have come to a point in major lack of motor skills and function, the mouth painting idea came back to mind. To fully appreciate  my hands, I wanted to “have none” for a painting. It was an eye-opening experience. (Although I did ‘cheat’ a tad, because I was home alone and had to set up, choose and squirt my paint using my hands, but the painting itself was all by mouth. Even my ‘Mel’ signature. It really gets to your neck after a while!)

I still say “good grief” in frustration tones at certain times during the day when my hands just become frustratable (yeah, I just made up a new word! 🙂 ) But in this season of learning to give thanks for everything–joys or trials–I am now seeing that my feeble hands are still strong enough to help me, so I can’t give up on them just quite yet.


I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Psalm 16:8


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Paintings

Honest thoughts.

Praise Him for the unexpected and the unlikely, for the daily and the difficult. The more you count, the more gifts you will see.

~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.

My initial blog intentions for today’s post was to write a “follow-up” from my last post about painting. I was going to write why I love painting versus writing with a pen or even typing…leading into the new struggles with my physical conditions in my hands. I have a few blog posts that I have been putting off for a few weeks now, because I was a bit upset by a comment I received about my blog posts. In a way, the comment made me think of my writings…as a form of “checks and balances” to see if what they were saying about my blog were true; but it left me with more wounded thoughts than anything else. I don’t even think it wounded my pride. It just hurt.

There are times when writing a blog about your physical conditons is emotionally difficult. Ok, maybe not–“at times”–it is hard to write about my physical conditions. I desire to be honest about what I experience and try to relate to the readers the best I can what I live with everyday. I cannot write all details or even describe fully how my days are filled, because some are just inappropriate to write about for a blog and others are just unexplainable. I even have a hard time describing different pains to my doctors. I have to get creative–if you will–to describe something. Like this new obnoxious ringing in my ears. I finally started describing to my family what the different simutaniously ringing noises sounded like by describing them in terms of instruments and rhythms. Then the annoyance seemed more light-hearted and I laughed at a few that I described.

So this morning as I started to think of how to start writing these posts of “updates” on my physical health, my thoughts took a turn when I read Ann Voskamp’s quote; then I finished reading my friend’s non-profit blog about their trip to Rio, the work they did there and the people they grew to love; then I read a bit of updates on what Bethany Hamilton is doing in Morocco and that Nick Vujicic has a new devotional book out (his first book, Life without Limits, is an inspiring read; I recommend it!) I started to think about my looming blog entry I had not even started yet and decided, “Today I am not going to write about my physical conditons…my limitations. Today I am going to count my blessings.”

I think it is easier to count your trials more than your blessings. Indeed, our trials can be our blessings should we choose to persevere through them. I still desire to write about my life with NF2. Afterall, it is the biggest aspect of my life in every way. As I ate lunch with my dad on Friday, I said, “My life would be boring without it.” I try not to focus on the negative aspects, but I am human and in all honesty…there are days when persevering takes all the effort of my energy. There are some days that I do not feel like counting my blessings and just mope around the house. But today is not that day. As I finish my Matcha Madness Green tea and step out from my favorite coffee shop back into the daily routines in life, I am a humbled. God continues to show me that yes, I go through rare physical conditons that leave me with accumulating limitations, but He is greater than my limitations. He shows me through others who have persevered through their own physical limitations that God can still use me right where I am. And for that, I truly can count my blessings.

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Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies, Paintings, Random