Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Defying Gravity

Vanessa Soper, the Director of Volunteer Services at Community Partners of Dallas, gave me a book to read during my recovery last month. 
I almost never read anything other than fiction (don’t get me started on Cleopatra – ugh), unless it is work related, so when Vanessa handed the book to me, I wasn’t exactly thrilled.  A non-fiction book about a football player is just not my kind of stuff. 
Well, thank God for Vanessa, because I read it over the last couple of days and I want to recommend it to you.
The book is by Michael Oher with Don Yaeger.  Michael is an offensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens and is also the young man depicted in the movie, The Blind Side.  The book is called I Beat the Odds.  It is the story of Michael’s life and it is truly inspirational.  His journey through childhood with a mother on drugs, his firsthand account of the CPS system, and his ultimate triumph of living his dream of being a professional football player, makes for a great read.  Here is just one tidbit from the book:
Martin Luther King, Jr., had a dream, and so does every kid in foster care.  Our dreams might not be as big as his were, but they are just as important.  Having some kind of goal is absolutely essential for kids trapped in poverty and bad family situations, because if we can’t hope that things might be better someday, then we basically lose a reason to live.  It’s a lot easier to fall down, or stay where you are, than it is to fight gravity by trying to pull yourself up. 
Having a dream can be the first and most important step in making it out of the system.
Isn’t that great?  I want to thank our donors and volunteers for helping CPD to inspire dreams – and for helping kids to defy gravity.
P.S.  Note the little Broadway reference.  I've gotta be me.  Oops, another one.  I gotta quit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Remembering the First Day of School

In two weeks from today, I am back at work.  It almost feels like I had a summer break – that is if your summer break has a major surgery and recovery involved – like back when I was in school.
I loved school – at least the first day each year.  My mom would take us to Hall’s Variety Store or Skillerns and we would get to pick out the supplies that we wanted.  I always wanted a super cool Trapper Keeper style notebook – I remember one in particular with a waterfall pictured – and Mom would always let me get everything on the list provided by the school, as well as a few extras like a big set of markers or a lunch box (I sported a Flying Nun one in grade school one year), etc.  We would also go to Sanger Harris and get a new outfit especially for the first day, in addition to lots of other new clothes and shoes. 
I loved the first day of school because it was so much fun to have all new things to use and wear, and also to see my friends after the summer break.  Of course another benefit to the first day was that no homework had to be turned in that day.  The first day of school was exciting and filled with possibilities.
Of course, the kids we help at Community Partners of Dallas (CPD) don’t have my memories of the first day of school.  For them, school is a painful reminder that they aren’t like the other kids. 
Nathan started 3rd grade in a tattered, too small uniform left over from the previous year.  His pencil was a stub and the eraser was almost gone.  His spiral notebook was torn up.  He didn’t have the other supplies that he needed.  The back pack that he carried was pink, one that his half sister had left behind when she went to live with her birth father.  Nathan was teased all year.  His teacher was the one who called in a report of suspicion of child abuse to CPS toward the end of the 3rd grade year.  A CPS Investigator went to Nathan’s home and found reason to remove Nathan and place him with his paternal aunt.  Nathan has had a happy summer and CPS is working to allow Nathan’s aunt to have permanent custody of the boy.
This year the first day of school will be different for Nathan.  He has already told his CPS caseworker exactly what kind of backpack he wants (blue, with black trim, and with a patch or sticker for the MAVs), and he has been excitedly talking about his new school and how this year he will be like all of the other boys.
CPD will help more than 2,000 kids just like Nathan to go back to school this year with new supplies and uniforms.  We could use your help.  Since we are able to bulk purchase, every dollar you donate provides 4 dollars worth of supplies for our kids.  Visit to donate or to find out more.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Are you a procrastinator? The advice I needed to stop it and get going!

I am not normally much of a procrastinator.  I make my bed every day.  My clothes are hung up.  If I need to change a light bulb, I do it.  My work projects are usually done on time or early.
I must give the credit for this to my mom.  If you happen to mention that you could use a new pair of black flats, she is in your driveway to go to Nordstrom about 5 minutes later.  If you move (and I used to about every 2 years – I flipped houses for about 15 years) mom will not only come over and buy the movers lunch, she will not let you go to bed with any closed boxes (I got pretty good at hiding a few as the clock approached midnight…).
You may have noticed the word normally in my first sentence today.  Since I am home recovering from my surgery, this has changed.
I brought home one big-ish project to complete for CPD.  I have felt well enough to do it for about a week, but instead I look at the project each morning and go back in the den and turn on the TV – hey, there are Hoarders and Interventions to watch, people – or open my book for book club (Cleopatra) and before I know it another day goes by.
Yesterday morning I was talking to one of my very wise friends on the phone and we were talking about my surgery, God, social media, the future of the world -- you know, just some light topics for comic fodder.  We were about to hang up and Dave asked me if I had anything else going on, so I explained the dreaded project and how I wasn’t doing it.  Dave said, “Well, I always say that if you want something done, give it to someone who’s busy.”
So, thanks, Dave.  The project is done, along with some extra stuff.  Now <yawn> back to Million Dollar Decorators and then a nap.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Power of Prayer and FaceBook

As many of you know, I had a planned hysterectomy almost 2 weeks ago.  Without going into too much detail, suffice to say that I have been having irregular (aka yucky) periods for a few years.  I wanted to have a hysterectomy, but my gynecologist Bob and many of my friends (Aren’t your friends doctors practicing without licenses too?) had suggested an ablation, so after a year or so of reflecting (aka stalling), I scheduled the ablation.  It is day surgery in the doctor’s office with about an afternoon of down time.
A short time before the ablation I went in to see my internal medicine doctor with an unrelated complaint.  While I was in with her, I told her that I was having the ablation.  Amy asked why I wasn’t having a hysterectomy and I explained that that was what I wanted but that my gyno felt like it was more surgery than I needed.  Amy said, “Oh, okay”. 
Well, this was all I needed to call Bob and tell him that I wanted the hysterectomy and not the ablation, etc.  Bob said fine and we set the date working around his vacation and so that I could be off work for the suggested 6 weeks recovery (Do NOT tell Bob that I am not taking the full time off – there are abused and neglected children that come before that for me!).
Anyway, the surgery went well and my stay at Baylor was glorious – what amazing people they have running that place and the nursing care was stupendous.  But the interesting thing was that Bob told me that when we went into to remove everything (this was another discussion where I told him I wanted him to remove all – apparently doctors like to leave the ovaries – but something told me to have him take it all), my ovaries were not healthy at all and one of them looked like it might have had a potential future cancer risk (Pathology reports all fine so far, though, whew!).  
I ended up spending one more day in the hospital than we expected because I felt so nauseous and just couldn’t keep anything down.  Bob broke me out on Monday evening and I came home, still unable to really eat (and even drink) anything without feeling sick.  This went on for several days.  Saw Bob, got new meds (no help at all), tried to get well, stopped all medication, but just kept feeling worse.  I was subsisting on about 1 glass of water a day.  My Mom (caregiver extraordinaire) and I were just at our wits' end.  Bob was thinking that my bowel had twisted and that I’d have to go back into Baylor.  Friday was our deadline to feel better or re-admit.
At about 5 pm on Thursday evening, I was about to give up – but not without a fight – a spiritual one. 
Now, the entire time since I had the surgery, I had my best friends and family praying for me.  Each morning I sent them a text with how I was feeling and asked them to keep praying.  But I was getting desperate.  With tears flowing down my cheeks, I sent messages to all of them to pray.  I sent messages to my friends with little children and asked them to have their kids pray.  I called the prayer tower at HPUMC and asked them to pray.  My Mom and I prayed.  And right then, over the next 30 minutes, I tell you I literally felt the healing come over me.  It was the most powerful thing I’ve ever felt.  God healed me as I sat there on my couch.  After not being able to even keep water down, I was able to eat chicken noodle soup and even a little Kentucky Fried Chicken. 
I see God’s hand all through this journey (Yes, I know the word journey is so Biggest Loser, but I am watching a lot of TV right now, so back off…).  Thank you for praying for me if you did.  I KNOW that God heard our prayers.
P.S.  You may wonder how FaceBook came into this healing.  Well, the only reason that I went to see Amy, my Internal Medicine Doctor, was that I happened to post on FB one night that I was chewing a lot of ice.  Several FB friends said I needed to have blood work done to see if I had low iron (I did).  If I hadn’t gone to see Amy, I would have had the ablation and Bob might not have found the sick ovaries for some time.  But most importantly, God wouldn’t have been able to show me just how much I need Him.  Halleluiah!