Fancy or Plain? Which Would You Choose?

Happy New Year, friends and followers! Welcome back! Here’s to the first post of 2015. (#370 since I started this blogging gig!) May the new year be peaceful, blessed and prosperous for us all. (FYI, I’m keeping my ‘Christmas décor’ up here a little longer, just like I’m doing at home.)

Not sure where I wanted to start this year, but I did just finish a little gem of a book during the Christmas break from school. This sweet, switched-at-birth story by author Cynthia Keller touched me, and I thought I’d share my thoughts on it with all of you. (Disclaimer: I borrowed the book from my church’s library. In no way was I compensated for this write up.)

A+Plain+&+Fancy+Christmas

The title, A Plain and Fancy Christmas, was a bit of a misnomer. The story doesn’t revolve around Christmas at all, which makes it a perfect weekend read at any time of the year.

The title does, however, suggest the backgrounds and backstories of its lead characters, 30-year-olds Ellie Lawrence and Rachel King Yoder. (I’m always good for stories involving an Amish backdrop.)

Ellie holds an executive position in a high-profile, New York City public relations corporate firm. Despite underlying dissatisfaction with her job and and her sort-of romantic relationship with Jason, she has slipped into a content-enough routine with the family she believes to be hers and the overall trappings of her life. (If I had to choose a protagonist, I’m thinking she’s Ellie.)

Rachel was raised Amish. Widowed three years ago and unable to manage the farm she and her husband owned, she and her 10-year-old daughter are back in her parents’ home. Although she often finds herself feeling at odds with her mother, this is the only life Rachel has ever known.

Respect, and the rules and ways that go along with having chosen to be baptized into the Amish faith and culture, keep Rachel from delving too deeply into her emotions. She has always felt dissatisfaction too, especially after having lived among “the English” during rumspringa, the period of exploration and/or rebellion Amish teens are allowed. Rachel returned to her faith, mostly because she’d fallen in love with Jacob Yoder, and couldn’t imagine her life without him.  

Long story short, Ellie and Rachel each receive a letter explaining the circumstances that led to the switch. Rachel buries hers in a drawer, but Ellie sets into play a series of events that will impact both these ladies’ futures. (Of course, y’all knew that, or there would be no story and nothing for me to write about! 😉 )

This story is nicely written, told from the points-of-view of its leading ladies, with one exception: a chapter told from the perspective of the nurse who was involved in the switch. I was readily transported to Rachel’s Amish farm in Pennsylvania and related easily to the go-go-go associated with life in NYC. My only beef is how the author provides backstory, in several-page-long flashbacks (?) of exposition. Mrs. Keller did this more often at the beginning, which made getting into the story a bit of a challenge–for me, anyway. Liking the premise, the Amish part of the setting–and the characters early on—kept me reading.)

I  to easily to Ellie’s intrigue with a simpler way of life; it reminded me how much I love spending time at my cottage. I could easily adopt—and adapt to—the choices she made as the story and her character’s journey developed. What Rachel learned about herself describes me too, but I don’t want to give anything away.

Finally, the story explored the themes of family, nature, nurture and what might have been had the switch not occurred. I kept wondering what kind of a resolution could possibly be reached–particularly for Rachel–as the tale approached its close.

I now turn the blog-mike over to you! Any books you’ve recently read you’d like to share about? How did you spend New Year’s Eve? (We wound up at a neighbor’s big family get together—unexpected and just a few houses down the street, so no driving necessary on a night I much prefer to NOT be in a motorized vehicle.)

I’m not big on resolutions but have a few (besides the standard lose-ten-pounds): to read books on a regular basis (and simultaneously redevelop my attention span); to launch a speaker business based on several workshops I’ve developed these past few years. Once the latter is in play, I hope to get back into writing fiction, which has really gone the wayside because of other projects. Do you have any resolutions? Would you rather live a plain (Amish) or a fancy (English) life? Could you find a balance between the two?

Have a wonderful day and week,

Joanna

 

Weekend Read: Beyond Tuesday Morning

Earlier this week I posted my thoughts on inspirational author Karen Kingsbury’s One Tuesday Morning. Feel free to read that article here. (But y’all come back now, y’hear?)

All I kept wondering as I neared the end of One Tuesday Morning was What about Jamie Bryan?

The protagonist of the prequel had been put through every emotion a woman deeply in love with her husband and faced with the possibility of losing him could experience. The author slammed her hard as I suppose any heroine could be slammed—and then gave her an emotionally-charged follow-up love story in which to star.

From the author’s webpage on this book:

It’s been three years since the terrorist attacks on New York City, but FDNY widow Jamie Bryan keeps waking up to the aching pain of that one Tuesday morning, the morning of September 11, 2001.

Determined to find meaning in her grief, Jamie pours her life into volunteer work at St. Paul’s, the small memorial chapel across from where the twin towers once stood. In the stream of broken, grieving people who make their way through the church doors, Jamie connects with two men—a firefighter forever changed by the attacks, and a Los Angeles police officer.

Unsure and feeling somehow guilty, Jamie opens herself to the possibility of loving again. But what she learns about one man sends her reeling. How can this be God’s plan for her life?

Now only the persistence of a tenacious man, questions from Jamie’s curious young daughter, and words from her dead husband’s journal can move Jamie Bryan beyond one Tuesday morning—toward life.

I enjoyed this book. Perhaps not quite as much as its prequel but the subject matter and story lines were poignant in a different way; relatable to many, especially those who deal in loss daily and even more so for those who suffered it because of the events of 9/11. Maybe the conflict wasn’t quite as strong as its predecessor’s; at times the conflict even felt a bit contrived. One particular point of view was not necessarily to my taste, but it was used sparingly. Despite those issues, the author did her job: keeping me engrossed, captivated and turning the pages by creating conflicts that kept story questions turning in my head. And there was simply no way to NOT like the story’s key players.

Not only did Jamie Bryan have to deal with her inner demons (primarily guilt), she needed to resolve external conflicts stemming from One Tuesday Morning that landed her in the situation she started out in. Clay, the man for whom she falls, is just the steadfast kind of guy I happen to love reading (and writing) about. And I also like stories in which characters take on a tangible presence despite not being physical entities.

All in all, the story conflict and developments were handled quite nicely by the author via dialogue and themes of trust woven throughout the narrative—themes that I found working their way into my day while I read and now that I’m done. A good reminder for me that no matter how dire a situation gets, hope keeps one going; and love—from more sources than we realize—gives fortitude to reach beyond the comfort zones to live life fully.

Have a great weekend, folks!

Joanna

One Tuesday Morning: Karen Kingsbury

Good day, friends. Hope all is well. Wrote this one a while back and kept looking for the best time to post it. I usually share my opinion of a book near the weekend but today seemed most appropriate. My thoughts and prayers go out to any/all of you touched in any way by the events of 9/11, especially since this 11th anniversary falls on a Tuesday.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

As has typically been the case whenever I fall in love with a book, this one found me, marked ‘Free’ in the library of the little church around the corner of my house. I’d never heard of this author, but the back-cover copy easily caught my attention:

I’m a firefighter, God, so I know I’ve been in some tough places before. But this . . . this not knowing the people I love . . . this is the hardest thing I can imagine.

The last thing Jake Bryan knew was the roar of the WorldTradeCenter collapsing on top of him and his fellow firefighters. The man in the hospital bed remembers nothing. Not rushing with his teammates up the stairway of the south tower to help trapped victims. Not being blasted from the building. And not the woman sitting by his bedside who says she is his wife.

Jamie Bryan will do anything to help her beloved husband regain his memory, and with it their storybook family life with their small daughter, Sierra. But that means helping Jake rediscover the one thing Jamie has never shared with him: his deep faith in God.

Jake’s fondest prayer for his wife is about to have an impact beyond anything he could possibly have conceived. One Tuesday Morning is a love story like none you have ever read: tender, poignant, commemorating the tragedy and heroism of September 11 and portraying the far-reaching power of God’s faithfulness and a good man’s love.

I’ve read many books. I’ve been touched and moved in so many different ways, but this one…a potent piece of (modern) historical fiction… The emotions Ms. Kingsbury evoked are the kinds I aspire to as I continue my own writer’s journey.

ONE TUESDAY MORNING kept me turning the pages—and putting pretty much all other life activities on hold to do so.

And I cried.

At the beginning, while I relieved the 9/11 tragedy through the eyes of someone inside the inferno and of their loved ones who had no way of knowing more than what came to them via the media. (I was blessed that day: being far enough away and having had no loved ones anywhere in that vicinity.) As I approached the story’s climax, I cried and cried more. I kept a box of tissues handy and had to take periodic breaks so that I could see. I stayed up into the wee hours to finish so that I could rest my eyes via sleep. (Shedding even one tear in the morning results in all-day irritation that rarely dissipates, even if I use eye drops.)

I went to bed thoroughly moved and even haunted by the story events. I wanted to email the author on the spot, but couldn’t begin to process the magnitude of what I’d read. And I woke up haunted more the next morning, almost the way I did eleven years ago, on the morning after. I couldn’t get the story hero out of my mind.

Yes, ONE TUESDAY MORNING had some formulaic components. What kept it so riveting though, were all the possibilities it could have taken; each a reasonable, relatable outcome that might have worked for all the major story characters. Yet, there was only one way it should have ended. That’s the way the author went, keeping it poignant and real; spiritual enough to transcend, in a way, the boundaries of our physical world.

Not that this was a paranormal in any way. Nor, as a Christian/inspirational book did it feel overly preachy. The author’s faith is obviously strong and comes through in the story. Unrelated real-life events involving another couple and at least one similar theme (about whom a feature film was recently released) gave credence to the story’s premise. Through it all, the terror and devastation of the day the WorldTradeCenter disappeared from the NYC skyline was treated with the respect and honor due those we lost and those who get to live with the memory.

I love too, that the author has a sequel to tie up the most important story question of all. (I won’t share that lest I give away anything about the ending.)

Ms. Kingsbury also inspired me with the direction she allowed her story to take—a huge risk—but doing what she had to do for the story’s sake.

Among the reasons ONE TUESDAY MORNING has found its keeper-place on my shelf, and this author due for a trip to my local retailer for the sequel, BEYOND TUESDAY MORNING.

Thanks for indulging me.

Joanna

Stress? Diane Lang Helps Tackle THAT Monster

Welcome to Monday, friends. I always like to post positive articles and/or tips to start the week off. Always a pleasure to have my wonderful friend Diane Lang in the house! 

          

Here are some of Diane’s ideas on handling stress. Hey. None of us are spared the stress-monster but we can equip ourselves to manage at least some of it, so…

Here’s Diane:

We all have times in our life when we feel stressed out and overwhelmed.  Unfortunately, we can’t live a stress free life BUT we can change how we react to stress. We can become more optimistic and resilient so when stressful events happen in our life, we can handle the stress and move forward.

1. Admit that you are having feelings of stress, anxiety, anger, etc. If you try to hide and deny the pain you will end up burying it deep inside with no outlet. The unfortunate part is it will eventually rear its ugly head. Admit to your pain and take control. This will allow you to move forward an feel powerful. If you stay in denial, you will end up feeling stale, stagnate and depressed.

2. Work on what you CAN control. Once you admit your painful feelings then you can move on to working on what you Can control and remove what you can’t. If you continue to work on things you can’t control you will become frustrated and set yourself up for failure. Write a list of everything in your life that you can’t control. Take that list and do a symbolic activity to show that your removing the can’t from your life. Take the list and put it through a paper shredder or throw it into your fireplace whatever will symbolize your saying goodbye to the cant’s in your life. Then write a list of everything you can control. This will be the list you work on.

3. Find the good even when things are bad. Always look for the positives in a bad situation. For example: I have a friend who has cancer. Even though she has a bad diagnosis, is going through chemo, radiation and paying off medical bills, all she can talk about is the new great friends she has made. That is true positivity and resiliency. Sometimes the positive is what you have learned in a bad situation or how strong you have become but there is always a positive. Look at the big picture and you will find one.

4. Free write – journal write. It’s very healing. Journal writing can help you:

– Look back to see how far you have come;

– Problem solve and find solutions;

– Really think and work through your feelings.

Questions to ask yourself when writing:

How do I feel? Write if your feeling upset, angry, hurt, etc

Write your issues and then ask yourself: What can I do now?

What did I learn?

5. When your stressed you feel emotionally and mentally exhausted but it’s important to remember stress affects you physically. Be in tune with your body. Use your physical signs as warning signs/red flags that something is wrong. Are you feeling fatigued? Stomach problems? Neck and back aches, joint pain, etc.  These signs will let you know it’s time to stop, refuel and relax.

6. Relax. Make sure to take some extra time in your day to meditate, deep breathing exercises, yoga or walk/exercise. Exercise is one of the quickest ways to relax and de-stress quickly, all we need to do is walk. Go walking 3-4 times a week for 20-30 minutes and feel your stress melt away.

Join me for one of my workshops:

Monday April 2 at 7pm – Baby steps the path from motherhood to career – moms re-entering the workforce; Parsippany Adult and Community education, NJ 973-263-7180 ext 4342

Tuesday, April 3 at 6pm – Retrain your brain to positive; Warren Community College, NJ 908-689-7613

For more information please visit Diane’s website.

You can e-mail Diane too: Lifeline36@aol.com

Thanks so much, Diane! 

So how do you take the stress-monster by the reins? Any tip in particular that you identified with or one you’ve tried that works for you? How about one that may not be listed here? Please add your wisdom–think how you’re possibly benefiting so many others by doing so! (And, if you like what you read here, please take it one step further and give a click on the share button(s) of your choice? Thanks!)

Fans of HAPPILY DIVORCED and/or Fran Drescher or John Michael Higgins or any of the zany cast members, Wednesday is your day!

Many thanks for stopping by. Have a great one,

Joanna 

More Thoughts on Angels: Tribute to One in Particular

I’ve written about angels before. (Faith and Angels: Parts One and Two.) I truly believe they exist, taking on all kinds of forms. They touch our lives and sometimes alter a given person’s life trajectory. At times we’re aware of their presence or the forces/events they evoke. Sometimes, we’re angels to others and may or may not know about it until ages later—possibly never.  (BTW, knowing is a humbling experience, but a blessing too. Just another reason I have to believe.)

Doesn’t matter whether we’re aware or not; kind of like that tree in the forest falling and making a sound. Sound waves happened. Just because ears weren’t around to perceive the noise doesn’t mean there was none.

Quick disclaimer: I speak only for myself, from MHO and my experiences. Take what you like and leave the rest.

Sigh. Almost three years ago, I was assigned to a child who received home instruction and related services (i.e., occupational therapy) due to a combination of significant medical conditions incurred when he was a little under two years old. Until I entered the home the first time, I didn’t realize he was my neighbor too. He was pretty-much wheelchair-bound, and I had already seen him being wheeled around by his nurse on many occasions in my neighborhood. One more thing: this guy was roughly my younger son’s age.

That day I showed to meet him, his dad told me to expect the boy to cry. He did not. We shared our first session, engaged in a couple of activities and set our schedule.

I saw him once weekly for a full school year and during our extended school year summer program. I’ll never be sure how much he looked forward to me in particular coming (I really believe he preferred my colleague who also saw him once/week), but we hung in there just the same.

During many of our sessions he did cry. But during others, he tolerated me doing things hand-over-hand. He put up with me getting him up to dance to my favorite on his I-pod, The Jackson Five’s Rockin’ Robin. (On one occasion, I hit REPEAT so many times, the boy’s dad came in, wondering if something was wrong with the device, lol.) We practiced dressing, getting out of bed with as little help as possible, then wheeling into his adapted bathroom to do grooming and hygiene tasks (i.e., washing face, brushing teeth, combing hair—you know, getting handsome.)

He didn’t speak but signed for me here and there: mostly yes/no via clapping (or not) to indicate whether he wanted to do a given activity. He never verbalized directly to me but loved one nurse in particular and engaged in “conversation” with her. She’d say words and he’d repeat them—always immediately after my session, while I prepared to leave. He also talked to his dad. (I didn’t get to see too many interactions with his mom, but he always cried when she left for the day. She works a day job while his dad stayed home as primary caregiver.)

I didn’t know then that his condition was already deteriorating. By last January, his oxygen levels had already started declining and he often looked very blue. I spoke to his dad about this; he stated the doctors were very aware of the condition and that only so much could be done to stabilize and/or improve it. (For confidentiality purposes, I’m not at liberty to disclose more details.)

My student hung in there and we switched more to activities and tasks I hoped he found fun. Although I believe he enjoyed at least some our sessions, he still cried often, so this past September I asked my colleague if she’d be willing to take on the second session. He rarely cried when she was there. (The running joke was I did the show tunes; my colleague went by Mary Poppins.) Since she’d become his all-time favorite kid, she went twice weekly and always stayed longer than the scheduled time. He wasn’t work.

This boy didn’t have functional speech. He had physical challenges and was cortically blind. His ability to use his hands and walk was very limited and he was dependent in nearly all aspects of self-care. Yet, he was very aware of those around him, knew what he wanted and how to communicate that in his unique way.

He loved music and signed for it. He preferred kiddy tunes but his dad slowly transitioned him to more age appropriate, contemporary hits. As per my colleague, he’d tug at his hair to be told how handsome he looked. He did a Stevie Wonder impression and indicated his desire to engage in his favorites of the activities my colleague brought to their sessions. I’d tease him about ‘defecting’ to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ camp (from my newly beloved NY Giants) after one of his nurses’ sons joined the former NFL organization. (I’m thinking he was big on Elmo too. The floral arrangement pictured here is the only image I could find to give an idea of the full-body one made of red-dyed spider mums (?)—it was amazing!

 www.babiesgottahaveit.com

Here are some of my colleagues thoughts on their interactions: “He loved his routine and would start signing or pull on his hair if I went out of order, or forgot his favorite activity.  He knew. He had the most beautiful smile I ever saw. As you mentioned he had a great sense of humor.  If I laughed with favorite nurse or his father he would join in.  I believe he sometimes understood what we were laughing about. Wanted his music on immediately and his water ready. Could be stubborn as well, when I was ready to leave and asked if he would miss me he always refused to sign.  I could go on and on.”

His parents obviously adored him and dedicated their lives to making his the best they believed they could. I’m thinking he was their angel and vice versa. Recently he took on the abstract form we associate with those spiritual beings. He took a very bad turn after a recent medical procedure and passed away. (He turned my younger son’s age a little over a month ago.)

At his wake, I met the physical therapist who’d worked with him longer than any of us. She gave me more background on how many things this boy had been able to do before his health started its downward decline. I marveled at how much I’d missed coming into this boy’s story late as I did. From what I understand, he had a pretty cool sense of humor. (Think he showed it to my colleague more.)

Why am I writing this? I attended his funeral the day before and found myself tremendously listless the rest of the day. I’m still can’t stop thinking about him today. He crossed my mind every time I passed his street and will do so even more in future days. I think of his parents and how they handled their trip to Holland when they believed themselves Italy-bound. I’m looking to write a tribute to give to his parents and hope the best words come as I explore my thoughts and feelings. I won’t tell you he didn’t touch me before. These past two days I realize just how much and very deeply affected I am with his passing.

I’ve worked in my current school district (where I reside, too) for a very long time. I’m sure other children have passed away during my stretch-in-progress, but any who may have weren’t my students, so I wasn’t aware. In the past fifteen months, five have gone on to become angels. Four of those five were mine in some shape or form.

Makes me sad.

Makes me think.

Teaches me to see this particular population of earthly angels in a completely new way.

Thank you for taking time to read this.

Joanna

Just in time for Super Bowl Weekend!

I’m celebrating my 200th post! To everyone who visits regularly, I so thank you for doing so. And to you first-timers, my humble thanks and a special welcome too!

So, friends, here we are on the Friday preceding the biggest Sunday of every football season.

  (Yes, I’m just a little excited about Sunday’s big game :D)

Photos courtesy of my older son and his I-phone–thanx! Love the Giants’ colors, too. Oh, and before I go further I’m adding a disclaimer: I don’t pretend to fully understand that whole (somewhat complex) wildcard and Rounds 1 and 2 progression parts of the Road to the Super Bowl. Please forgive any errors as I’m still learning a lot of how it all comes together on that first Sunday in February. 

Anyone out there been following NFL post-season play? Excuse me, but did somebody bother telling the NY Giants that they weren’t going to make it to Super Bowl XLVI?

Maybe it’s just me, but seems like Eli Manning and the boys missed a few memos, and those may have gone something like this:

You may not beat the Dallas Cowboys to win a wildcard spot.

Let’s see you get past the Atlanta Falcons to win the wildcard game.

Forget winning against the Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XLV winners and super-season record holders of 15-1.

You’ve got your work cut out to get past the San Francisco 49ers, those mega-aggressive guys who literally snatched the win from the Saints the week prior—now there was a nail-biter of a game—to become the NFC champions AGAIN.

Oh, and you could get past the New England Patriots, seeing as you upset the H-E-goal-posts-minus-the- crossbar last time y’all met? (I mean, has anyone been watching footage of the last 90 seconds of that match-up? Eli was Houdini getting out of the pocket—he had NO business not being sacked. Then David Tyree had even less business making that too-amazing-for-words catch to set off that final, victory-claiming, drive.)

  It’s a mother-son thing! We both turned down SuperBowl parties to watch the game together at home.

I mean, all I’ve been asking myself since the Sunday night they manufactured the 2011 season’s miracle is: How did they get here? Pull off what may be their most memorable run yet? And how do they continue to do it?

I wrote this as I watched Rafael Nadal walk off the quarterfinal court victorious at the Australian Open Tennis Championships. At end of the second set, Rafa was one set-point down.

As is true of most tennis champions, set and match points are simply something to get past. It’s a mindset. Rafa is frequently described as relentless, as he bats away ball after ball until he forces an error or hits a winner. (His forehand has this lasso-like action that’s so cool to watch, and I’m noticing current Number One Novak Djokovic using a very similar motion with his forehand. Hmm!)  Oh, and Rafa is also known for this quote: “Every point is match point.” (BTW, Rafa wound up rallying from 2-5 in the fourth set to tie things up in the final match against Djokovic, and take it to their first five-setter–wound up being one of those matches one wishes both players could win.)

Years ago, when I first got into tennis, my first all-time favorite player was Stefan Edberg. Like Rafa, he was a pretty humble champion and one who never gave up. During the 1992 US Open he was down three match points to hard-hitter Ivan Lendl.

Want to guess how that one turned out? I’m sure the little bit of rain that suspended play until the next day didn’t hurt, but Stefan fought off those match points and went on to win not just that match, but the whole darned thing as well. (Was I happy then. I had tickets to the final and got to watch my first mega-favorite win his last grand slam title.)

Brings to mind the Giants and their past five games. As I said, they don’t seem to have gotten the memo—or, like any great champion(s), they blew it off.

As a writer—and an occupational therapist, I’m a watcher. Observation skills were usually my forte on most of my evaluators’ write-ups. So, I watch Eli Manning’s game.

Now mind you, I’ve gotten highly annoyed with him at times. Not that I could coach or head up a team but I’ve learned a whole lot about the mental part of football this season. (Think I need one more season under my belt before I totally get the ‘running game.’) I am, however, starting to get Eli’s game—and his brilliance. And having watched the Giants these last five weeks—and even some old footage from Super Bowl XVII—the word relentless comes up over and over.

So do the notions of “progress not perfection” and “easy does it.”

Watch how, little by little, Eli inches his team down the field toward the red zone. He obviously keeps his eye on the prize (i.e., touchdown or field goal) but tends to use smaller efforts to get them there, as in one first down at a time, and of late, a third-down conversion (kind of that “never say never” attitude over and over until payoff).

Not only did the Giants not get the memo, but I don’t think they realized they weren’t going to be Super Bowl contenders this year, especially going in to play the Packers. (I hated seeing Aaron Rodgers roughed up, but his team kind of fell through a little on that one too. Almost a smaller-scale version of what the Patriots did to Tim Tebow and the Broncos—and there’s more fodder for that never-say-die attitude: what rookie Tebow accomplished with his flailing team this year.)

OMG, make sure you check out these photos: the best shot ever and another that show it all!

Yes, I’m done now. For now. Who are you rooting for and/or which teams would have made up your dream Super Bowl?

TTYS and go Giants!

Joanna

Faith and Angels–Part 1

Happy Tuesday everyone. I am a week behind when I originally planned on putting this one up. (Hope you found it worth the ‘wait.’ :)) The post is also a little longer than I would have liked, but the editing monster won’t let me cut it back any more so I broke it up into two parts. (Sorry, friends. God made me a chatty storyteller!)

Once upon a time I was a religious person. Not so sure about the dogma and discipline part, but I rarely lack for faith, primarily in a universal higher power I choose to call God. I try to practice many of the tenets taught by Jesus Christ. I also revel in the spirituality and peace-of-soul that comes to me via the philosophy and adoption (and adaptation to my unique needs) of the twelve steps.

Once upon a time, anxiety could get me up in the night, wreaking havoc with my mind while playing scary games with my heart. (During a particularly difficult period at my first hospital job, I’d go to sleep with music playing—crazy how I had to stop listening to Sting’s Nothing Like the Sun CD–after a few episodes of waking up in a stereotypical cold sweat and heart palpitations to  the cut Fragile. (Took me a long time to listen to that incredible song after that.)

This little recounting brings me back to my beliefs. I hold dearly to the idea that God gives me what I need exactly when I need it—not on my time, but on His—and yes, that may include an angel or two. (More on that in Thursday’s post.)

On one of those mornings when I was work-bound to that hospital where I felt I was losing my mind (I alluded to that time in this post), after one of those nights I’d awakened to Fragile, I remember tuning into a Christian radio station as I drove. I was immediately slammed with this Bible quote: “Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

I did a double-take at the radio. Coincidence? Maybe. But that was exactly what I needed and I’ve often fallen back on that moment or spontaneously called upon those words too many times since.

That’s one example and possibly a reflection of the way I choose to see how things happen in my life. Just the other day I was fretting about this month’s bills when hubby tells me we got an Escrow refund and our mortgage is going down. (When is the last time that happened–and exactly in time to help fund a fairly large but unexpected car repair?) Hubby also found a way to lower our auto insurance without losing coverage. We got an ALDI market in our neighborhood and now there is $$ left after food shopping. Need I go on?)

Uh…yes, but I’m saving that for the next post! Stop in Thursday for part two!

In the meantime, I’d love to read about your experiences with how you got what you needed exactly when you needed it. Take the floor folks. It now belongs to you!

Joanna