Monthly Archives: August 2014

Top 13… Or Why My Childhood Home Is My Adult Home

Many years ago, as I was leaving my ex, I moved home with my parents because three kids under five was not ideal for being a professional working woman in the real world. As the kids’ needs were identified, the help was still given and needed. I happily negotiated to buy the house from my mom when we thought the time was right.

I never dreamed I’d grow weary and want to leave. Four years ago, I’d met my current husband, and we’d talked about selling both our places and buying something in between. As much as I love the little school that I grew up in, and as much as the teachers are “kick @55” professionals who exponentially maximize what little they have, I knew that the kids needed subjects and classroom techniques that were different (and more expensive) than the little school could afford.

I also never dreamed I’d be legally blocked. Check out this link, and then come on back for my commentary: http://www.jbmartinlaw.com/blogs/family-law/bid/101817/What-if-One-Parent-Wants-to-Move-Under-the-New-PA-Child-Custody-Law.

Now that you’ve read it, if you’re in the US, and considering divorce, you might want to check your state’s laws. I saw a figure that indicated that at least 80% of the states had similar laws.

Also, realize that what is so simply stated in the law becomes a 23-question form in which every aspect of the move is analyzed. The custodial parent has to prove that it really is good for the child. In addition, you have to exhaustively demonstrate that the move is not because you and the non-custodial parent don’t get along well. *begins giggling maniacally and darting eyes paranoidly*

It’s funny how as soon as something becomes incredibly difficult it starts to be incredibly desired. It’s worse when you have to get the equivalent of permission from someone you didn’t get along with enough to stay married to. And then there were the relationship issues (he was nasty at times and wouldn’t get help, but I digress…).

So how do you survive when you can’t fight and you can’t take flight?

Laughter… you find something funny in the situation and focus on the humor until it doesn’t bother you quite so much.

Now, I will warn you: I tend to go for the dark, gallows humor. It’s very dry, and it doesn’t seem funny until you’re living it.

So without further adieu, here is my attempt at laughter. I am going to do a critical, practical, earth mother analysis of the top issues with this law. Now, most people do a top 10. However, 13 has always been my favorite number.

So, I am going to copy the top 10 from a recent FB post I made to my friends, and then, through the magic of writing, add three more to expand it. And yes, I will block my kids’ account from accessing that post 🙂

13: Keeping connections where no connection exists anymore… except DNA… which may be no connection at all…

12: Assuming that laws can force the things that didn’t exist in marriage… you know, clear communication, considerate collaboration, and constant cooperation…

11: Presuming that the esteemed courts truly understand what children need..

10: Increasing a county’s profits by increasing the numbers of filing fees for custody related documentation…

09: Ensuring the future draw on social security is decreased through shortened lives due to chronic stress…

08: Creating even more work (and fees) for lawyers and their staff members… as well as child development professionals as both sides seek custody evaluations…

07: Building and sustaining a state’s and county’s tax base for about a decade (and possibly a town’s or school district’s)…

06: Decreasing the financial stability of the custodial parent through forcing court action and possibly preventing better, more gainful employment…

05: When relocation is permitted, ensuring the custodial parent’s every movement is tracked down to the GPS coordinates…

04: Enforcing continued long-term negativity and drag for a childhood…

03: Helping custodial parents achieve maximum spiritual challenge through a burgeoning number of opportunities for spiritual growth…

02: Inflicting a decade or more of cruel and unusual punishment for a decision made with a less wise decision-making process….

And the top item on the list

01: Making life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness meaningless…

 

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An Ounce of Prevention…

Life with food allergies or intolerances is never easy. We all know what an allergy is: the physical symptoms combined with immune cells trying to fight off the invader that is really not so bad. An intolerance is an allergy minus the immune cells; you get all of the reactions like an allergy, plus the joy of figuring it out on your own because your immune cells no longer react but your body does.

My nemesis is mushrooms in all their edible forms. I am so sensitive a drop of the stuff can send me wheezing and clutching my chest and gulping for air. Wisely, I carry injectable epinephrine and Benadryl to continue to enjoy life. It’s not that I willingly seek mushrooms; it’s more like I sometimes can’t avoid exposure because people don’t seem to get the level of sensitivity I experience.

I used to use the name-brand injector. It was beautiful in a garish sort of way. It was large and construction zone orange and yellow. It was wide at the top and tapered to the end where the needle pops out. The device was so wide the label listed the necessary usage steps in large pictures that anyone could use. It came two devices to a box with a practice device. And I did practice…ten times a day when I first got it. I actually used one (manufacturer didn’t clean machinery so well); the other aged out. You can actually practice to the point your hand knows what to do so you don’t have to think much.

When I replaced it, I had to get a generic device. I never really got them out of the box. The containers were sleek. There was no practice injector, and the containers didn’t seem to move easily. I guess I was afraid of opening them and wasting an injection due to breaking a seal of some kind. (Do you smell a story coming?)

Well, Tuesday this week was one of those odd days. Things didn’t go quite right. I got tired and stressed. My hubby, ever the sweetheart, offered to take me out to eat. Usually, I’m gung-ho for a dinner out, but we didn’t have enough time to get to a chain restaurant. I’ve learned chains are most accommodating of food issues and have enough knowledge to help their patrons avoid food issues. That said, I was too tired to argue.

So, we went to a mom-and-pop local business. We truly like local businesses; we prefer to support local businesses. However, local restaurants tend not to understand food issues. Reusing oil on food helps save money; they don’t understand the issue of cross-contaminating my French fries with breaded mushroom particles or how a tablespoon of mushroom juice in a big stuffing batch could do any harm.

And the one we picked was okay. It had a good atmosphere. We perused the menus and picked items. I was so hungry for fries and stuffed shrimp. I did my due diligence and asked about my issues. The waitress was short (probably the end of a long day) and assured me I wouldn’t have any food issues. I could see mushrooms on the menu and my gut was nagging, but I took her word for it.

The French fries were so good. They were the ones you dump into the oil frozen so they get all crunchy. The shrimp were good, but the stuffing was lousy. We paid and left (yes, I left a tip–wish it would have been instructions instead of cash).

About 10 minutes into the car ride, I felt that slight tightening. Of course, I told myself it was in my head and I should just ignore it. Within another five, I was gulping for air and rooting for my magic pocketbook–the one with the injector and Benadryl. Unfortunately, I’d left it at home from my weekend getaway with my hubby. My hubby did have Benadryl; I took those and laid back, focusing on my breathing.

Ten minutes from home, I started to feel dizzy and my face felt warm and hot. These were new symptoms, but I’m still cool–that injector is at the house.

I tore into the house and back to my bedroom (I couldn’t even unlock the door and the tearing was more a rapid-gaited stumble). I’m getting more dizzy, and my hands are shaking as I rip open the box for the generic devices. I fumbled the container open…and I stopped.

These devices were not user friendly! Everything was all about the same width. I picked what I thought was the end to inject and put my hand with my thumb on the other end. I took a deep breath, preparing to count to 10, and jammed the device against my thigh.

Time stopped.

I felt a sting in my thumb. I pulled my hand away. There was nothing on my thigh. The needle dangled from my thumb and swung off. I was stunned. Even my husband was stunned into silence.

So, I had to call 9-1-1. The operator was good, or at least he didn’t laugh outright at me. I laid on the couch with a stream of blood from my thumb. I was dazed and confused. Did I get any med? How much? What if I didn’t get any? What if I hit a blood vessel and straight injected instead of the whole muscle thing?

Well, I got my first ambulance ride of the year and spent hours in the ER. The needle was bent at almost a 90 degree angle. The staff were more worried that my thumb might be in danger. It was swollen and cold with no sensation. The injection site was black with a white ring. The bruising was spreading to other parts of the thumb where it could be felt. When the staff were sure that the damage was contained and would not cost me my thumb, I was sent home.

My dad taught me that no bad situation was wasted as long as I learned something and tried to stay out of the situation in the future. So, what did I learn?

Penny wise and pound foolish is just that: foolish… It may cost me 10 times more to have the name-brand injector, but my life is probably worth more to my husband and kids than the cost of the injector.

When you assume, you make a donkey’s butt out of yourself… I never dreamed the generic injectors would work so differently from the name-brand. I just assumed that everything would be the same. As a result, I made an error that could have really complicated my life. That said, the generic injectors are inexpensive. I could have just popped open the container and really investigated the device. I also could have used the trick a friend of mine with diabetes used. When she was learning to inject herself with insulin, she used an orange. I should have experimented with the generic injector and an old fruit or vegetable so that I knew how it would behave.

Opposable thumbs are beautiful things… I’d forgotten just how much I use my thumb to do things. My husband was happy to have me alive, but not so happy that I’m practically throwing a water bottle because I couldn’t get it open at 4 am. I also found texting difficult, as I was reduced to hunting and pecking with a pointer finger.

Knowledge is power… I can be more vocal in advocating for those with severe allergies. I was too stunned by the rapidity and bluntness of the waitresses answer to reply with the usual listing of consequences. In the future, I can do more to try to help people understand that it’s not about preferences or personal tastes, but it’s about how bodies function and how some foods, no matter how healthy, can be devastating for certain individuals. I can also contact the maker of the generic device; they may not change the design of the device, but they might be able to make the labeling more obvious. I’m sure if I panicked, others will too; a better design might prevent unnecessary negative consequences.

Life is precious and sweet… It’s funny. On the ambulance ride, as I focused on each breath, forcing my chest to expand and slowing my breathing rate, I wasn’t worried about the shabby state of my yard or how the month’s bills would get done or the chores at the house on my to-do list. I was thinking about whether I’d lived well enough that I would be well remembered; I was worrying about how my kids would feel if something didn’t go right; I was sorry I hadn’t hugged them when I left for work that morning; I was wishing my husband was with me instead of getting the kids placed and following behind. Life isn’t about the things; it about the people we love and the places we go with them and the life we experience we them. And maybe… it was time for me to have that balancing reminder.

 

Caffeine Charism… With Our Blessing

My current denominational pew has a coffee ministry. Every Sunday, some faithful souls brew pots of coffee, set up creamers and sugar and coffee pots and cups, and then tear down after the service. It’s provided great fellowship (as well as great opportunities for spiritual growth when there’s a miscommunication and the coffee doesn’t happen).

My angels and I work this one Sunday a month. Usually, it’s just me, and a child or two depending on who’s awake, who’s got a good attitude, and who needs mom time. We came up with something we like to do as part of our mini-service, and I’d like to share it with you.

We as a family thought that, if our meals could be blessed by saying grace, maybe we could bless the people who drank the coffee by praying over it as we brewed it. The prayer turned into a joint effort (and competition) as each child tried to remember from month to month not only what we prayed but the exact words of the verses we wanted God to remember He had said so He could apply it to the coffee ministry.

We based it on Galatians 5:19-23, James 3 loosely, Romans 1:28-31 loosely, and Philippians 4:7-8.

So, without further adieu, here it goes (feel free to share with your church’s coffee ministry if you like):

Jesus, when You created the world, You said that everything You created was good. This includes coffee. Even Your Jewish people consider coffee kosher and good to drink if it’s not too processed. Thank you for this good gift!

Please bless everyone who drinks this coffee. Let them have a good time together and enjoy being together.

Please let loose Your Fruit of the Spirit over the coffee area: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. There are no rules in most good societies against these things.

Please bind the following desires and acts of the flesh not only within the coffee area, but in the lives of those who drink the coffee: lust, impurity, partying for the sake of partying, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, anger, rage, prideful ambition, disunity, divisions, envy, and addictions.

Please especially help bind the sins of the tongue because these are so hard to tame: gossip, slander, cursing, boasting in anything but You, deception, and rebellion.

As we talk with each other, help us to focus on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

Finally, release a spirit of peace over all who participate in this ministry–giving and receiving. Not just any peace, but Your peace that passes all our understanding. Let it guard their hearts and minds in You.

We ask these things in Your Most Precious Name Jesus. Amen.

A Living Letter

Saul of Tarsus, in one of his epistles (AKA letters) to the church in Corinth, penned the words (NKJV):

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

I’ve been playing a lot in my head with the words living and epistle. I’ve been wondering:

  • If I were the only Jesus some saw, would it be enough? Or would they feel like Ghandi that they love my Jesus but not my Christianity?
  • Which of my personal “hall of heroes” would show up time and again as authors? Would it be the strong warrior chicks in my family, my “spiritual parents,” or sowers who left seed so deep it will not be until we all meet again on the eternal flip side that they and I will find out how much they impacted me?
  • Has my heart been fleshy enough to receive what the still, small Voice wishes me to know and learn at this point? Or is the ground of my heart stony, thorny, and full of clumps of clay, unable to have any good put into it on some area of disagreement with His will?

I could go on and on like this. The problem with questions is that the unanswered ones are truly not worth asking. In examining my heart and life, there are no rhetorical questions. Every question should be explored.

Sometimes, I love the answers; it’s been a gold star day, or I’ve been able to reconnect with my authors, or I’ve receive a thought so new, bold, and challenging that I’m blown away and can’t wait to apply it to my life.

Other times, I’m not real happy with what I see. I’ve blown it in a relationship so badly I want to burn the draft and start over; I’m sure my heroes would walk away, shaking their heads in bewilderment; I’ve not only hardened my heart, I’ve hidden in a bunker of denial and arrogance.

And finally, there are times when the answer is WAIT because there will be no clear answers until the eternal flip side. That is my constant struggle: Knowing that I will get to know but not for a while yet, waiting for answers to questions that hauntingly boggle my mind and heart, dealing with amorphous realities that I cannot analyze and quantify.

And that is where I have to begin to plow my faith…

 

Saluting Spiritual Fathers

I know. I am nearly two months late with this post. This should have been done back in June around Father’s Day.

I guess that’s because I’m conflicted on two counts. The first is that my relationship with my own father was rocky. As much as I’d like to lay the blame at his feet as being a conservative stick in the mud who couldn’t change with the times (and he’s dead so he can’t defend himself), part of the blame is mine as I could be difficult to handle and creative in finding unwise ways to test boundaries. In addition, I never kissed him goodbye the morning he died; I knew he was terminal, but I was helping mom deal with all the things that were going wrong and raising three special angels and working full-time, so I rushed to get to work so I could rush home to spell mom that afternoon. I forgot that life can be quickly snuffed out, and within six hours of my leaving the house, his was.

The second is that I find people with mismatched chromosomes incredibly confusing. Some seem to focus more on the physical than the intellectual, while the intellectual seem to come with a whole bunch of baggage that make relationships difficult. I’ve managed to attract my share of the hypocrites as well. And then there are the control freaks: the ones who think my matched chromosomes give them every right to tell me where to go and how to get there and what to say on the way with no thought for what I think or feel.

So, without further adieu before this becomes a misanthropic rant, let’s salute some of the men who, though not related to me, tried to take on the unenviable task of parenting the strong-willed woman-child I’ve been most of my life. (Funny, most of them are life partners to the women I mentioned as spiritual mothers; maybe I’ll explore that in a future post, but for now, I digress.)

Peter: Peter was Maria’s husband. He was managing kids, a career, and a church. I used to watch in amazement the close relationship he had with his kids. Now, over two decades later, I could see he used the same skills with me. Although he saw women in more traditional roles, he could see women like me needing something more and he often worked to try to challenge my intellect regarding faith. He also tried to challenge some of the more unwise decisions I was making; unfortunately, I just didn’t have the skills to verbalize all the emotions and logic (okay, illogic in this case) that I was going through. My favorite thing was watching him be so in love with Jesus that he would try to dance as he led worship with his wife and the rest of the worship team (and yes, he truly proved that even under the power of the Spirit, white men usually can’t dance). I lost touch with them shortly before I found out I was carrying my third child in two pregnancies.

John: John is the husband of Martha. I think in some ways he just sensed the lack of connection I had to my own father. I picked up common sense things about handling vehicles from him. I also watched the time management and division of labor in action that he and Martha used to manage church and jobs and extra-curriculars for seven in a family. As I grew, I saw him handle some pretty tough life events with prayer and courage and wisdom and humor and prayer.

Paul: Paul is married to Rose. Being an engineer before he became a pastor, he was the first male Christian I was insanely curious about because he came from a logical world that usually precluded faith, unlike medicine or teaching. I loved to watch him. He could humbly admit sin areas like anger, and then turn around and graciously admit “I don’t know” to some of the tough questions I asked because I didn’t follow a traditional path. He wasn’t afraid to show up and put in sweat equity helping someone move or put in an addition or clean for someone who’d been sick for a while. In watching him, I learned that it was okay for me to be a real human around my own kids and yet strive to look more like Christ.