Thursday, September 22, 2011

Memories & Vision

I remember having a conversation with my sister and one of my brothers about which ability we would lose if we had to choose one.  My sister has already lost her legs and my brother is losing his voice. I think I said I just didn't want to lose my sight. At the time I didn't know about my impending sarcoidosis. How things change!

The sarcoidosis has really impacted my eyesight and my memory. I have to see an ophthalmologist soon to get a prognosis on my vision, but in the meantime, I am really having struggles with my memory.

I can't tell you how frustrating it is to have memory problems. I have one of those weekly pill sorters with slots for morning, noon, evening and bedtime. Believe me, I couldn't manage my meds without it. Yesterday, I had to call in some refills and, so, I left a couple of days worth of meds unsorted. Just a minute ago, I was taking my noon meds and could not remember if I'd taken my morning meds or not. I'm pretty sure I did sort the ones for today. I'm pretty sure that the reason I got confused is because I thought today was Friday and not Thursday... At any rate, this is just another one of those memory flubs.

Whenever I park in a lot, I hope the rows are numbered so I can remember where I left the car. Unless I take mental note of the row number and then forget! (I'm starting to write it down these days.)

There are so many times when I can't remember the smallest thing. I've been doing some sewing projects. If I stop to go to the bathroom, when I come back, I find myself looking to see where I sat the needle and thread.

Some days (or moments) are better than others. Sometimes I have no trouble remembering my phone number or zip code or year of the car I drive. Some days I do.

The most inconvenient thing is when I am driving to a familiar place and forget how to get there.

Going to the clinic where I have my appointments or to the kidney center where my sister gets treatment - these should be imprinted on my brain. I have had several instances when I start driving and get lost in my mind. I usually just keep driving until the memory of directions kicks in. I think the only reason I don't forget how to get to Walmart is that it's a straight shot! Unless I have to go the other location in a different part of town.

My eyesight is still decent. I have my glasses and they still work. I worry about the feeling of pressure behind my eyes though. If you've ever had your eyes dilated, you might be familiar with what I'm talking about: a tightness and a sense of muscle fatigue just around the area. I'm not sure I want to know what the eye doc is going to have to tell me.


So, eyesight or memory? Looks like I might be losing both.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unseen Blessings

I was just thinking about the many blessings God grants us throughout our day that we don't even notice:

  • The sickness we didn't get.
  • The step we took and didn't fall.
  • The car wreck we almost had.
  • The money that didn't get delayed or lost in the mail when we really needed to have it.
  • The job we didn't lose.
  • The breath we did take!

So many things that we missed and that could have just ruined our day or that could've changed our life. Things that did or didn't have to happen.

Whenever I have to take care of business and get a really helpful and courteous customer service rep, I make sure to let them know that I appreciate them. Sometimes, I report their good service to a higher up. I usually tease them that no one minds reporting bad service very few take time to report the good. That's they way it is with our blessings.

So often, we get rushed by everyday life and forget to stop and thank God for the times when he saved us from doing something stupid or dangerous or careless. Many times, we don't think about what He has saved us from going through.

The other day, I was checking my meager and dwindling funds and worrying about how broke I am. I am really living a little on the edge - what with doctors' bills, hospital bills, upcoming necessary medical tests, prescriptions... I don't know how I did it, but I kept going and going until I had really worked myself into a state of anxiety and despair! I was in the car, idling at a red light, with tears about to fall, and I looked over and saw a homeless -looking alcoholic. How much worse off are so many people, I thought. That poor man probably was estranged from friends and family, lost in his disease and maybe not even caring that he is in that awful situation. Yet, he was smiling.

Wow. The Devil is smart.

I shook myself and remembered all the blessings I do have. I had to remind myself that I was going to be sleeping in a bed that night, loved and surrounded by family. The bills aren't keeping me from getting at least some medical help. My disease doesn't have me living on the streets. Somehow, with the help of family and friends, I am able to get my prescriptions. I am not (for the most part, yet) out of my mind. I even had to remember that I was driving a car and not having to walk to where I needed to go.

Blessings too many to count!

But, see, one of the tricks of Satan is to keep us focused on what we think God isn't doing for us. What we need to remember is that, because we are His children, God knows us and our needs. He has seen the beginning and the end of our story. He has His reasons for what he does. (Now, we make trouble for ourselves at times, just by trying to go our own way! And, still, God forgives and loves us.)

So, the next time I feel sorry for myself, I hope I can remember how much I have to be thankful for. One day, this race will be over and we will be Home. For now, let's remember to count those unseen blessings.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Living Ourselves To Death

Life could be so much simpler than it is. Mankind seems to thrive on complicating things and creating chaos.

That's the thought that came to me while I was having to scurry to take care of some crucial business this morning. In a better world, I would have gotten up feeling rested and read my morning Bible verse with a prayer before getting on with my day. Instead, I woke up feeling overwhelmed and rushed.

We live in a world where everything is truly a race to be won. I think of it as "living ourselves to death."

You take something as simple as clothing. Clothing is there to cover our nakedness. Simple, except we don't see it that way. We've made an industry of it. You can't just cover yourself, you have to wear certain colors and textures to suit the occasion. Instead of all clothing being decent and acceptable overall, we've made it almost socially mandatory to wear certain things for certain occasions.

We can't just have transportation. We have to have a certain type of car or truck, in  a certain color (which changes from year to year like some kind of "fashion statement.") Even if you have a certain model, you might have the less desirable style... Really? Isn't the whole point of transportation is safely getting from one place to another? Why should it matter so much what kind of status or fashion statement we are making? It's so silly.

We humans are such strange creatures. We can't have anything without trying to up the ante.  We can't just have soap to be clean, healthy and less offensive. Couldn't stop there. Nope. We have to add other smells and additives. We don't want bodies that are simply clean. We have to have skin that feels one way or another. And in the end it's still just skin. With all the smells that add to lotions and soaps these days, I don't remember what a real piece of fruit or spice actually smells like if I haven't had it for a while. My nose is confused! LOL

Hair is just hair if you have it.  It covers the head. I don't know how we got to the point where we will sew it into our scalps, weave it onto what we already have, spend thousands of dollars and so much time into beating it into our will.

We have to make an industry out of everything.

I know that we need some of the things we have made. We want to be comfortable and clean and healthy, but we just have to take everything from the simple to the extreme to the silly.

We take everything & put man-made standards on it to complicate it, put out of reach of some or make it into a status symbol. We don't know how to be content and comfortable for long before we start dreaming up ways to give ourselves something else to worry about.

And the result of all of it? We create stress for ourselves. We create self-esteem issues. If you are too poor to keep up with certain "standards," or born with the odd color of skin or hair or body type, you end up in counseling and therapy.

The saddest thing is that we have forgotten how to put the brakes on. We get so caught up and carried away by the stream of social movement that we don't stop and wonder why. All the time and money and effort we waste on the silliest things would be better used in our being courteous to fellow human beings and good stewards of what we have.

We have forgotten to use our hearts as much as we have learned to use our heads.

We could just be simply living, but we invent ways to keep busy with being complicated. It's such a cycle of "enough is not enough."

A big effect of all this is that we adjust ourselves to the messes we make. For instance, instead of having people who are brutal, jerks, rude or dangerous meet a more decent standard, we just accept it and try to learn to protect ourselves from them. (And if you think people can't learn to be decent, just think of how easily they have learned to be the way they are. It's all in what is accepted and tolerated.)

We reward the wrong things. We reward the greedy and ruthless by calling them "ambitious" and "go-getters." We've stopped rewarding honest hard work because we'd rather reward anything that makes the most money.

We think of ourselves as being "modern," "progressive," and "forward thinking." We talk of looking to the future and "the next big thing." What we have forgotten is the simple pleasures in personal joy and contentment. I'm pretty sure that "contentment" is not a word that we want to think about if we have to give up "ambition."


Sunday, September 04, 2011

Unanswered Prayers

Now that I am older, I tend to do a lot of reflecting on my life. I think back on things I've done or not done and can see now the results I live with. There are good things and bad things, but what I notice most are the results of unanswered prayers.

When I was young, I, like so many, hoped for shallow things: more money, better looks and popularity. I wanted to "grow up" to be well known and well liked. I had dreams of being a famous author. Of course, I had the fantasies about the very handsome husband, the large and amazing home, fabulous clothes and cars... Those were things that almost everyone I knew wanted.

These days, even though my finances and health are both in a fragile state, I have to just thank God that He didn't answer my greedy prayers! I don't know where I would be spiritually if I'd gotten all that I wanted. I don't think I would have grown in my faith and I'm pretty sure I would not be as thankful for what I do have.

When I look at people who did get what they wished for, I imagine that that's only a good life for the young who will live to make it out. But not all the young ones who do live that life make it out.

Had my prayers been answered, I might have had the material things while missing out on the grace of the Lord. So, when I reflect on what could have been, I have to think of Psalms 139, especially verses 13 through16.  He has known me and is with me through it all.

Those things I longed for and didn't get are just reminders of eternity. I would not trade my salvation for any of the comforts or luxury this world has to offer, though that's tempting sometimes. I have to remind myself that this world is not my home. I don't want to get too comfortable because my time here isn't promised from breath to breath. While I am here, I am praying for my family and friends - for everyone - to accept the Lord and hold out until we do get Home.