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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Feeding the funk

In my old neighborhood there is a mockingbird.  I have always loved to hear that mockingbird singing in the mornings.  I knew that when we moved from that house, I would deeply miss hearing his song.

Cody and I, along with help from my father and mother-in-law, have worked to provide quiet the attraction for a mockingbird in our new yard. And recently, as I left for work, I saw one perched in the tree in my front of my house.  I rolled my window down so I could hear him sing, and I was not disappointed.  His song was a little different than the one the mockingbird on Hemlock sings.  It was a little softer, and a little more soothing.  I text messaged my father-in-law to tell him about my mockingbird. This is how the conversation went:

  Me: “I have a mockingbird in my front yard!! He doesn’t sing the same song as the one at our old house. But he sure sings a pretty tune!”

  Wayne: “Your attitude has changed so you’re not singing the same song either. Ha!”

  Me: “You are probably right about my attitude.  Although it has kinda sucked the last 4 days.”

  Wayne: “You sound a little happier lately.”

Which is true…since we have moved, my attitude has changed. And I am happier.  However, the week the mockingbird appeared I had fallen into a funk…

I was pretty sure on Monday that my hormones were organizing an attack on my already unstable emotional and mental state. I was easily irritated, did not feel like smiling and everything was getting on my nerves or making me want to run away and cry.

Tuesday- I woke up with a raging migraine headache and could not get out of bed.  When I was able to get it under control, Cody told me to stay home for the rest of the day. (Nice, you say? More like self preservation, I say)

By Wednesday everyone in my house, including the animals, were scurrying out of my way like cockroaches. I did not care. One morning, I actually got mad and went to my room and shut the door and laid on the bed until I heard the front door close and I knew everyone had left for the shop. I knew I was being ridiculous, but I did not care.  In fact, I was actually enjoying wallowing in my funk.  I refused to try to look at the good things…I was only focused on the negative.

As the week turned into the weekend, my attitude pretty much stayed course.  Although I really just wanted to be alone, we spent Friday night and Saturday night with friends and family.  And then came Sunday.

I love Sundays! There is church, which is always such a blessing. And then we have Blue Bloods Family Lunch (a tradition started by me and Karen Luckett- I will explain at a later date) and just general relaxing on Sundays. On this particular Sunday, we had been invited to our friends who live across the street from our old house on Hemlock to celebrate their son’s birthday.

 We met the Harwell’s about 10 years ago, when they moved into the house across the street from us on Hemlock…They have become a part of our family.  It is always a party at Ledia and Clinton’s.  Ledia is from Honduras and has the most amazing accent! An accent many have tried to imitate, however, so far, none have succeeded.  Being with her just makes me happy.  Their house was filled with people and music.  They listen to Spanish music which makes everything seem even more festive.  And the wine…they always have the best wine!  When I drink wine with Clinton and Ledia, I  think I must feel like the guests at the wedding where Jesus performed his first miracle. The people who were served the wine Jesus had just created; the wine that was described by the master of the banquet as “the best.”

Although I was having a good day…I was aware that my funk was still in control of my emotions and it was strange parking across the street from the driveway I have parked in for the last 11 years. The driveway and the house are still empty, and I was fighting the urge to just walk over…eventually, in a moment when I was left alone, I lost the battle.  I walked out the front door completely unnoticed and across the street. 

As soon as I looked in the front window and walked around the house, I knew I was not fighting the funk…I was feeding it…in all honesty, I had been nurturing it all week.  I just stood and looked at the empty house that was my home for so many years.  I allowed myself to remember what it was like when we first moved in; how excited we were…I sat on the porch, and I remembered.  Even though, while I was sitting there, the house definitely did not look or feel like my home, my home is a small red brick house in the Westwood Addition, the view across the street of my neighbor’s, no, not just my neighbor’s, my dear friends’ house- that view felt like home. And the mockingbird was singing. He was singing the song I am so familiar with.  That mockingbird’s song felt like home.

I gathered my emotions together and walked back across the street- leaving the old house behind me.  I did not even look back towards it.  I walked in the front door, sure that no one had missed me. But I was wrong.

Cody asked me where I had been; everyone had been looking for me.  I tried to casually say that I walked across the street…but when the look on Cody’s face turned from slightly irritated to sweet concern, I felt my eyes fill up with tears.  As he hugged me, he said, “Why? Why would you do that?” And I knew I had been caught feeding my funk.

When we left the party, I did not even glance at the house. I was glad to get home. I had cried on Ledia’s shoulder for a bit… I have to admit I felt a little guilty for bringing the funk to the party…but I guess every party has to have a pooper; I just never have been one.

I believe that pooping the party was the beginning of the end for my funk…I was still not back to my normal craziness…but I was fighting it more and more. 

I bought some flowers to plant. Digging in dirt always makes me happy.  So I spent one afternoon planting.  I was on my patio, listening to praise music, singing and planting! Now here’s the deal- I am a terrible singer. The.Worst.Ever. But, my dogs don’t mind it, and none of my neighbors were in their yards- so I felt free to sing as much and as loud as I wanted. In the middle of “Here I am to Worship” my mockingbird landed on a branch and began to sing too.  The mockingbird was singing in tune and along with “Here I am to Worship.” It was one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.  I knew that it was a special concert, orchestrated by my God, just for me!! What an honor it is to serve such a powerful and personal God! He never feeds my funk; and I don’t think He honors me when I am wallowing in the pit of one…But He is always here. He is always ready and willing to show me the way out of the funk.  He is God and all of creation sings His praises!

Yes, “my new” mockingbird does sing a different song than the old one.  But my heart is singing a new song as well.

Sometimes a funk is unavoidable… but they are not forever.

4 Sing praises to the Lord, you who belong to him;
praise his holy name.
5 His anger lasts only a moment,
but his kindness lasts for a lifetime.
Crying may last for a night,
but joy comes in the morning.

11 You changed my sorrow into dancing.
You took away my clothes of sadness,
and clothed me in happiness.
12 I will sing to you and not be silent.
Lord, my God, I will praise you forever.

Psalm 30: 4-5; 11-12

Friday, March 2, 2012

I am get out of here...

March 1, 2012

Here to get out of here

I have an Uncle Paulhe became my uncle in a very peculiar way, and I am not going to go into that story.  However, I think my Grandma summed it up years ago when she said something like, He is our kin folk. We will just claim him!  And so it was!

Several years ago, he and my Aunt Debbie (Uncle Paul’s wife, and the main reason he became my uncle) moved to Temple; and Cody and I were blessed with the opportunity to really claim him as our Uncle!  Over the years he and my Aunt Debbie have been some of our dearest friends, and closest family. They did not live here long, maybe 3 years, before they moved back to Lubbock for a couple of years.  But then about 3 years ago, they moved to Rockwall.  My cousin, (their son) Brent and his family live in Rockwall, so it was a great move for them!  We loved it because they are a little closer to us; and a bonus is that I get to see my cousin, Brent, a little more as well!!

Over the years we have spent some great time with Debbie and Paul.  We have helped each other move; we have shared pets ( by sharing I really mean that we actually we gave them our cat, and we gave them a dog we dont want them back); we have spent countless hours on each others patios talking and laughing; we have catered (quiet professionally, I might add) several weddings, including their son, Justins and our daughter, Lynnsays; and we have enjoyed many good meals together! Debbie and I have started and completed more DIY home improvement projects than I can count.  Debbie gave me a love for gardening, and helped me get the hang of it (FYI: Watering is key. Who knew?)  Paul has coined phrases like, “Nice buns” always referring to the bread being served at dinner; and “smoke a beer” referring to time on the patio with a cigarette and an ice cold beer…He can talk just like “Shrek” and does a great impression of a Jewish New Yorker. He introduced Jimmy Buffet to our family and now we all love “Margaritaville”! And Brian Regan. Paul also introduced our family to him, a clean cut comedian whose act David can recite on demand! Oh~ and I can’t leave out Karaoke time… we have all sang until the wee hours of the morning.  They are no longer just our “kin folk”~ They are our friends.

Sometime in September, Paul and Debbie were taking vacation because Paul’s cousin, Dick, and his wife, Sharon, were coming for a visit from Kentucky.  I had spoken with Debbie on several occasions and I knew they were really looking forward to the visit! Debbie called me on Sunday, I assumed to tell me about their trip, however, the voice on the other end was not filled with happiness, it was filled with fear and it delivered shocking news.  Paul had spent their entire vacation time in the hospital. And at the end of the story she was reciting to me she said, “They diagnosed with him with lymphoma.  We will have to wait until next week to find out the details on what type of lymphoma we are dealing with.  Marleea, Paul has cancer.” Her voice broke, and I felt the air knocked out of my lungs as I began to wrap my mind around this news.  I told her that we would pray, starting now!

For me, it is a pretty helpless feeling when all I have to offer is prayer.  I want to DO something.  I want to FIX EVERYTHING.  But at times like this, prayer is all I have available in my “bag of tricks”.  Immediately I got on the phone and called my parents and told them to pray; and I asked them to call the rest of our family and ask them to pray…

Debbie called me the next week to tell me what the diagnosis was, and she said that it was not as good as they had hoped for… it was rare, and while it is treatable, it is not curable.  Paul asked what would happen if he just chose to not have any treatment…and the doctor’s prognosis was not very desirable.  He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Mantle Cell Blastic Lymphoma…

The treatment?  Let’s just say it is harsh, quick and aggressive…the treatment matched the cancer.  Paul’s attitude?  Positive, strong and full of faith…his attitude matched the cancer…what could the rest of us do?  Pray…that’s all…

Paul’s treatment would end with a bone marrow transplant…his brothers were all ready to volunteer.  One of them, Andy, was a perfect match (an answer to prayers…)

Paul went into war mode against the cancer.  Weeks in the hospital taking chemo… side effects? Minimal to none…Doctors could never believe it…(an answer to prayers…)

Paul ‘s attitude has remained strong and positive.  He shaved his head and looks  adorable.  He always tells everyone that he is doing gooood...and he is… “I am telling you right now, I don’t have anything to complain about.”(an answer to prayers…)

On Tuesday, Cody and I, along with Lynnsay loaded up and headed to Dallas.  Paul’s treatment was now down to his bone marrow transplant…

Two weeks ago, his brother Andy was here and donated his bone marrow to save his brother’s life.  According to Aunt Debbie, this donation was hard on Andy, but he gladly suffered and donated … (an answer to prayers)

Paul entered the hospital last Friday… he has had massive Chemo treatments and massive radiation treatments…side effects? None.  (Answer to prayers) We saw him yesterday between his last two radiation treatments…he is a living answer to prayers.  He was going to receive his transplant which would begin sometime after 4 p.m. and could last up until 10 or 11 p.m. He was done before 6:30 p.m. (an answer to prayers).

Paul is fighting for his life.  He is sticking it out and fighting a good fight…I am helpless in this fight for him…

All I have had to offer is my prayers first and my support second…

This morning we went to visit Paul (who had a bone marrow transplant yesterday and toasted his own bagel this morning…)Again, he was amazing… an answer to prayer… Bone marrow transplant yesterday… toasting his own bagels this morning…he even got to come out into the waiting room (with a mask) to hug us all and tell us goodbye…In a very “Paul” manner he said, “ I am here…to get out of here….”

Pretty deep words from a man who is in the last battle for his life.  He is there…on the 11th floor of Dallas Medical City…the floor where bone marrow and stem cell transplants take place…he is there to get out and live his life, cancer free. 

When Paul was diagnosed with cancer, we were all helpless… all we had to offer was our prayers…I now ask that you join me in praying for Paul… and in thanking God for what He has done for Paul…it is very easy to do, and the best thing you could do. Happy “Birthday” Paul!! I am not helpless in this fight with you- I have the strongest thing to offer… I have prayer…