The Next Frontier: PODCASTING

A friend and I just released our first podcast! We have been brainstorming, planning, and working on the format, content, and ideas for a while. It’s almost like preparing for childbirth. We are excited about sharing our experiences with others, but the little, fearful voice in my head is afraid no one will listen–or like it. It is a GIANT leap of faith to put ourselves out there into the podcasting world.

Sheree (Day 8 — Sheree McMillen) and I both love speaking–teaching classes, providing support and encouragement, presenting to large and small audiences, etc. We also love listening to various media, including podcasts and audiobooks. We have both listened to a podcast and heard a “professional” describing our experiences from their clinical perspective, along with advice on how to cope and what to do. We felt they were dispassionate and detached. They could explain from an academic standpoint, but they hadn’t lived it. It was the equivalent of hearing someone tell YOUR story of TRIUMPH in a monotone voice.

Instead of fuming, we decided to take action. We decided to {figuratively} bare our chests, sharing our experiences–the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Life hasn’t followed the straight path either of us imagined when we were younger.

However, we have survived and are learning to thrive despite, or maybe because of, the challenges we have faced on our meandering paths. To honor the lessons gleaned from the twists and turns in life, our Podcast is called Meandering to Blessings and we will begin publishing regular episodes SOON!

At various times, we have all felt alone, yet we experience the same struggles, doubts, and fears. We share our stories, the lessons we have learned, and the blessings we received as we meander our path in life. Our podcast offers hope, encouragement, and laughter to equip us for the challenges we face on the next turn of the path.

Everyone faces adversity, but no one should face it alone.  Take a minute to listen to the first episode…while I teach the butterflies in my stomach to fly in formation.


I Failed, but I am NOT a Failure

A grade shows how you did on a particular test on a given day–it neither measures nor affects who you ARE as a person. However, most students don’t feel that way, and I got a painful reminder of that fact. I just received the results from two exams I took last month for Women’s Gymnastics, and I failed both.

I know in my head that I didn’t pass, but I feel in my heart that I AM A FAILURE! That’s what kids feel when a grade or performance doesn’t meet their expectations, or those of their parents, teacher, or coach. If I’m having trouble separating the fact of not passing from the feeling of being a failure, how much more difficult is it for young people who don’t have the depth of knowledge and experience to help them sort facts from feelings?

In my defense, I studied a lot for this test over the summer. I was familiar with the material, but hadn’t mastered it by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not even surprised I failed. I fully anticipated failing, and had already begun organizing and planning my studying in preparation for a retake.

If a colleague hadn’t passed, I would remind her that these are all new rules, and that she is very new to judging. I would remind her that most judges have years of experience and that many of them have to retake tests, so she is in good company. I would never condemn her for not achieving her goal on the first try, but I have no problem berating myself for the same thing.

The almost overwhelming sense of worthlessness that threatens to drag me under is unsettling. I am more than a score on any test. I am more than a grade on a paper, or a test, or in a class. My value as a Christian, a mother, a friend, a sibling, or a person does not hinge on any test.

I pray I can remember how personal this feels the next time one of my children is upset by a grade. I hope to help them separate the fact of the grade from the feeling of failure. I also need to learn to give myself permission not to be perfect. I don’t expect perfection of others, and won’t hold myself to a higher standard.

I know this is a good Life Lesson, but it doesn’t feel good. It reminds me how much I depend on my feelings, which can be so deceptive.

What Makes You Happy?

I love the time spent in the car with my kids. They feel more free to talk and ask questions where they can’t be overheard and there are fewer distractions. Recently, my youngest was in a talkative mood, and she loves to ask rapid-fire questions. If I don’t respond quickly, she moves on to her answer or another question or topic, but the question that stuck in my mind was this:

“What made you the HAPPIEST in your whole life?”

As a Christian, I know the answer should be when I committed to follow God. As a mom, I know my answer should be the birth of my children. I don’t “should” on myself, so …. what, when, where was I the happiest?

As a teen, I can remember flying across the Lake on a slalom ski and experiencing pure joy! On the best days, I got up before my siblings so I could be the first one on the lake. My mom or dad would wade into the water to throw me the life jacket, rope, and ski, then get all set to take off. When I was set, the engine would roar to life and then I would step onto the ski as the rope reached its limit. There would be a moment of uncertainty, wondering as I committed to the ski if I was balanced and had timed my take-off to glide across the water or would fall into the frigid water and have to shiver while the boat circled back for another try. On those early mornings, the lake was smooth and shone like glass and I could ski as long as I wanted before signaling to return to the shallow water where we began. On good days, I wasn’t wet above my knees. On other days, I was drenched from head to toe and the wind and water were chilly, causing my teeth to chatter, but it was a risk I was willing to take for the EXHILIRATION and JOY of skiing early in the morning on the smoothest water. (And bragging rights for the day.)

I remember those scenes so vividly. As an adult, it’s harder to remember the times when I’ve been deliriously happy. Maybe I’m so blessed and have had so many wonderful times that they blur together and it’s hard to distinguish ONE memory. My happy place is in nature, so snow skiing, camping, and the beach would be among the top collective memories. I can also remember the day I was awarded my first national certificate in sign language interpreting and spinning in circles with a friend who helped me celebrate!

As an adult, I also see the flaw in the question. No THING makes me happy. I choose to be happy. I choose joy even when my child is in ICU. I choose to be happy despite disease, illnesses, surgeries, divorce, death, depression, broken vehicles, money problems, etc… I can have hours, days, and sometimes weeks that STINK! There are more problems than hours, it seems. I can choose to be mad, angry, frustrated, sad and depressed. OR I can choose to tackle the problems without letting them steal my joy.

That’s the choice I have. It is to deal with the situation with grace and love and joy, or let the “problem” overwhelm me and steal positive feelings such as happiness. I’m so grateful to have learned that I can be happy even when circumstances aren’t great. I am glad I’ve had many chances to practice living joyfully despite the situation.

James encourages us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,  because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. ”  ( I wouldn’t have written this verse–why do I want to be HAPPY about the bad stuff? What Can I possibly learn from the struggles? But my Heavenly Father, who is wiser than me,  tells me to survive with JOY!

I’m still working on JOY, but I don’t fall into deep despair and gloom when trials appear. I’m practicing the joy. I feel like a grad student at final exam time sometimes–ready for the testing to be over, but the tests have produced good qualities in my life. And God sends people to help me through so that I’m not alone. It may be a friend, or a coworker, or a neighbor, but God has always blessed me with help and comfort during those darkest times. Jesus cried in the Garden because He was ALONE! God made us and knows we need each other. And He supplies all our needs.

So ask yourself, When have you experienced PURE JOY? When have you been the happiest? The question was eye-opening for me.

Acknowledgment: Depression is real. I’m so grateful for professionals and medications to help me through the deepest valleys. In fact, large percentages of individuals use medications to control their depression and to stabilize their moods. Some do it for a short time while others are on medications for extended periods or life. Prescribed medications are safer and have more predictable results than the “self-medicators” who use illegal substances, or legal substances in illegal ways. There is no shame or judgment for anyone getting the help they need.

I’ve Done it Again

I can’t believe I’ve done it again! Well, I actually knew it happened in Florida, but I was firmly entrenched in denial. The Podiatrist today told me what I DIDN’T want to hear–I have another stress fracture in my foot! So, I’m back in the beautiful orthopedic BOOT again—GRRR!

On Spring Break, we were removing things from the back of the car and something heavy dropped on my foot. It hurt so bad I couldn’t breathe for a minute, but we kept on going. My foot never bruised much, so I figured it would be fine. My feet hurt a lot that week, but I thought it was from wearing flip flops and walking barefoot on the beach, and not wearing my “old lady orthopedic shoes.”

One evening, my daughter wanted to walk to the pier. I thought it was a little over a mile away, so I agreed, and we set off. We loved walking along the seashore, admiring the condos, hotels, restaurants, and public beaches. We passed families taking pictures, children playing, a grandfather teaching a little girl how to find shrimp, and couples keeping each other warm. I saw a lot of driftwood, and I would have loved to sit on one of the big logs and enjoy the sunset, but my daughter was on a mission to make it to the pier. We got to the pier before sunset, but by then my foot was HURTING!

My son and his friend were fishing on the pier and I suggested she go up with them (while I sat and rested), but she was ready to go back. She and I had been on another beach before sunrise taking pictures that morning. We had taken an hour nap, then got dressed and had lounged on the beach all day, so we were both hungry and maybe a little tired, too. We walked as fast as I could tolerate, but she was frustrated at my snail’s pace. By the time we made it back to the condo, I could barely put weight on my foot, but thought all the walking on the hard-packed sand had caused the problem.

When we returned from our trip, I hoped a little rest would help. When it continued to hurt after a couple of weeks, I tried to schedule with a doctor, but I couldn’t get an appointment until today. He listened to my symptoms, pressed on my foot and diagnosed me instantly, but ordered x-rays to confirm. I also complained that my other ankle was weak, so he ordered images to investigate. img_7147

When the Doctor returned, he opened the x-rays on his computer and he diagnosed the stress fracture on my foot. Then he looked at the x-rays of my ankle and he got THE LOOK! I hope you don’t know what that means, but it is the look of slight panic that a medical professional gets when they are seeing something horrific and they don’t know what it is or how to break it to the patient. I saw it on the vision tech when she realized that my daughter wasn’t seeing anything out of her right eye. I saw it when the neurosurgeon looked at my son’s MRI, and when the ICU doctors couldn’t tell me why my daughter was so sick. I knew he was seeing something UNEXPECTED on the image.

He began asking questions about my leg, ignoring the ankle that was hurting. Apparently, my answers didn’t explain what he saw, so he wanted someone else to look at it because he had “never seen this before!”

I convinced him to let me see it, and we solved the mystery. He was so relieved and made up a diagnosis of Sequin Syndrome because the black band of jewels on the seam of my pants made a crazy pattern on the x-ray, but he couldn’t see the jewels in the exam room. Leave it to me to make a routine visit into a heart-stopping fright for the podiatrist.

So, I managed to sprain my left ankle, probably due to an abnormal gait from the fractured foot! I’m currently hobbling along with a boot on one foot while trying to protect the sprained ankle on the other leg. But a week on the beach was worth it!

My pride may be wounded, my foot is fractured, and my ankle is sprained, but my funny bone is intact! It’s what I NEED to survive my crazy life!


My {Not So} Glamorous Life

Some charmed individuals swan dive into the pool of life, and emerge with their hair smooth as silk to swim gracefully to the edge. Some are more like ducks that fly into the pond and look peaceful most of the time, but have those moments when they have to take care of business under the water and everyone sees their tail feathers in the air. I am more like a cat being flung into a pool. I will get to the side to escape, but it won’t be pretty and there might be collateral damage. (Yes, I admit to throwing a cat in the pool when I was young, but the cat learned to dig his claws into my arms after the first time, so it wasn’t pleasant for either of us.)

I am blessed beyond what I deserve. I have four amazing kids, a roof over our heads, a steady job, transportation, and a wonderful support network. However, I still manage to make a mess of things regularly.  Take today, for example:

I slept in a little, knowing that I didn’t have to be at work until noon, and I was totally prepared. I had written a list of what I needed to accomplish before work, and had mentally run through my morning, knowing it would be busy but productive.

First, I woke up a little earlier than planned since Son #1’s alarms were going off, so I had some extra time. You know how you have 30 minutes of time, so you try to squeeze an hour worth of work into it?  Yeah–THAT! I decided to wash dishes and make breakfast before my shower. We had delicious pancakes (if I do say so myself), and I washed dishes and cleaned the kitchen. However, everything was off schedule from that point on.

Since I was cooking, Son #2 jumped in the shower, virtually emptying the hot water tank. Knowing that Daughter #2 needed a shower, my hopes for even lukewarm water evaporated. Mentally, I rerouted my day to include a shower at the gym even though it would be a short work out. I got everyone out of the house, dropped my youngest at school then started on my list. First item: pick up moped that was ready. The kids’ father had graciously paid to get it running again so they have transportation when necessary, but I couldn’t find a time in the foreseeable future when the shop was open, I was in town, and a child was available to drive me to the shop.

So, I drove to the cycle shop, parked my car, got the moped and drove it home. I had to make two stops on the way (to order a corsage for son’s prom tomorrow and to get the last items daughter needed for a retreat this evening). I left the moped in the garage, and set out on foot to retrieve my car. This was my planned exercise for the day–a good, brisk three-mile walk from my home back to the shop to get my car. As I walked down the street, it started sprinkling. No big deal–I used to run in the rain, right? I walked faster, and the rain increased in intensity. By the time I got close to the half way point, it was a frog-strangler. (That means it was raining hard!)

In my mind, I had limited options: I could turn around to go home, get the moped and ride it to my car, or I could continue walking to my car. I considered calling a friend to come pick me up, but I would have to stand in the rain and wait for them, then slither  into their vehicle, where I would soak the seat and leave puddles on the floor. I kept walking, even jogging V-E-R-Y—-S-L-O-W-L-Y… I finally burst out laughing. When I ran in the rain, I always wore a hat to keep the rain out of my eyes. Today, I was only wearing a  light jacket over my sweats, and I was soaked from head to toe. I slogged on.

When I made it to the car, I had to think through my day. My list was in the jacket pocket and it was too wet to read, so I spread it on the seat and drove to the gym. I did take a shower there, but my clothes were too wet to work out in! I drove to work shaking my head at my own predicament. The list dried out at work and I have moved everything to Saturday, hoping I am able to accomplish half of it.

If today was an anomaly one, I would have a great story to tell, but I know ME. I know I jump into projects and then LIFE happens. (LIFE is what happens when you’re trying to do something else.) LIFE is fun and messy and frustrating and wonderful! Thank you God for blessing me with a sense of humor–so I can laugh at my own stupid self!

More Fishy Business

After cutting my koi population in half through a tragic mistake, I worked hard to take good care of them last summer, but….

The poor poisoned poisson survived my accidental poisoning. (Read about it here: Fish Fiasco ) You would hope that they would all be allowed to grow old and die in the aquatic version of rocking chairs, but that would be fiction. In reality, they only survived to fight for their lives again. This is, after all, MY Crazy Life.

The fish did really well last year, even producing several offspring that survived the predators drawn to the waterfall and pond. (Yes, we woke up one morning just in time to see a waterbird snag a fish and fly over the fence with it–the cycle of life in our back yard!) During the drought this summer, we had to add water to the pond quite frequently. The children were responsible for cleaning the filters most days, but I kept an eye on the water level and added as needed.

I turned on the water one afternoon and asked my son to turn it off a little later since I was leaving for work. When I got home, he was in the shower, so I went to bed. During the night, I heard water running, but one of the kids was taking a midnight shower, so I climbed back into bed. The next morning, I got up to get ready for work, but water was still running. I checked all the bathrooms, then the kitchen and laundry room.

Yes,  you know what happened. I went out to the back yard. Instead of turning the water off, my son had turned it on HIGH. Water was pouring out of the pond and pooling around the lower ground on the back, watering the entire back yard! I turned the water off, then surveyed the damage. None of the fish were in the yard due to the pond’s design, but a couple of the babies hadn’t survived the chlorine overload from the influx of chlorinated water.

I dug a small hole near my tomato plants, then retrieved the trusty crab net. Two of the four babies died, along with several of the larger, older fish. I don’t know if the older fish had less resistance–or if their systems were compromised due to the previous year’s genocide, but it was some of the oldest and prettiest fish that died.

Call me the Hitler of the Koi Pond–I kept the strong fish to combat mosquitoes, but unwittingly used chlorine to get rid of the youngest and the elderly.

Lamp Repair 101

I broke a lamp. Well, that’s nothing new. The exciting thing is that I FIXED IT! (Anyone with a Y Chromosome can skip this post–or shake your head and smack your forehead, but I am so excited!)

I broke the turner thing on a lamp the other night. You know–the knob you grab hold of to turn the lamp on and off–that’s the thingamajig I broke. It was a smooth, clean break, so neither superglue nor duct tape would hold. This was serious!

Mike, my stepdad, gave me a lamp socket and tried to explain how to replace it. I unplugged the lamp and took the shade and harp off. After that, I was going where this woman had never gone before! I unscrewed the socket thing, then took it apart. It was in three pieces. (Actually, I couldn’t figure out how to get the last one open, but a screwdriver wedged in a couple of places worked great. The bottom part was more oval then and the round piece came right out! See how the middle piece isn’t round any more?)

He had explained copper was ground and the other wasn’t, but I followed his last advice: look at it when you take it apart and put the new one together the same way. I unscrewed the ground (copper) wire first, then trimmed it, stripped the ends and wound it around the ground on the new socket. I repeated it with the other wire, which looked the same, but was on the other screw in the old lamp. I only used three tools–my son said it was the wrong screwdriver, but it worked just fine.

I put in a light bulb and pulled the chain (that’s right, I changed it from a knob you turn to a pull chain–FANCY!) and

              IT WORKED!

I did a happy dance (not pretty–be glad there are no pictures), then unplugged it again. I put the pieces of the light socket back together, then struggled a minute to get the long pole of the lamp tightened up again. For a minute, I thought I would have a lamp that worked but would never stand upright again. After I figured out which pieces need to be tightened, I replaced the bulb, harp, and shade and VOILA–I had a working lamp again!

I know the Winter Olympics will begin soon, but I am experiencing THE THRILL OF VICTORY right now!

Fish Fiasco

Fish are easy to care for, right? Wrong! Two years ago, I committed genocide in my koi pond.

Learning to do some things around the house makes me feel wonderful. “Fixing” the washing machine made me proud and was relatively easy. Learning to clean the filters in the koi pond and take care of that is a different ball of wax.

You have to understand that my ex could find a way to make anything work. That was a great skill because he could cobble together what he had or could find at a local store and make it work. However, it also means that nothing is really at 100% or in shape for a standard technician. The pump and filter for the koi pond are prime examples (no pun intended–unless you thought it was funny, then it was intentional). You have to stick your arm down through 18 inches of water into the pump box and feel for the debris that has been sucked into the intake and pry it out bit by nasty, disgusting bit. Then you pull out larger filters that are really intended for air vents and rinse them off. The net portion is a salvaged pool skimmer which isn’t the right size, but if you prop it up just right, it catches some of the debris before it is sucked into the filters or pump.

However algae blooms at certain times and he has always managed the chemicals to control it.  I did a little bit of internet research trying to find the best way to control it and they suggested adding a bit of chlorine bleach to control the bloom. So I followed the advice from the Internet.  After all, if it’s on the Internet, it has to be true, right?

I put a tiny amount in the filters when I cleaned them out, then fed the fish and went inside. My oldest daughter got sick that night, so I was up numerous times with her. The next morning, I staggered out of bed, got the two youngest kids up, fed, dressed and off to school, made a doctor’s appointment, called to cancel work, and cleaned up the kitchen. I had a little time before we needed to go to the Doctor’s office, so I decided to feed the fish and skim off any algae that was on the surface. I knew something was wrong as soon as I opened the back door and noticed a fish floating on the surface. I put the food down and grabbed the crab net by the pond as I walked out.

Dead fish littered the surface of the pond, while the survivors gaped for air with their mouths open. I ran inside for some anti-chlorine drops and poured them into the pond. If it had been one or two fish, I would have wrapped them in a bag and dropped them in the garbage, but there were too many casualties. And  it would be an entire week before the trash was picked up–not an odor I wanted lingering. I dug a hole in a flower bed about 18 inches deep then began scooping the victims into a net and dumping them into the mass grave. Fortunately, they didn’t smell like fish since their bodies were slimy from the  bleach that was in the water, so the dogs didn’t try to to steal them from the burial ground. I scooped over a dozen fish into the hole, then covered them with dirt and placed a large rock over the burial site to deter grave robbers–my two dogs or any wild animal that frequented the pond at night. Then I turned my attention to the survivors–the poor poisoned poisson. The April Fool chant of children in France rang through my head, “Poisson d’Avril!”  (It’s the cry they make when they successfully pin a paper fish on another’s back.)

I used a 5 gallon bucket to scoop out lots of water from the pond, but we had experienced almost 4 days of torrential rain, so I had to carry each bucket away from the pond to dump it in a place where the overflow wouldn’t run back into the pond.  Next, I grabbed the hose and angled it to to splash into the lower pond to add fresh water. Then I grabbed the bottle of dechlorinator and poured the remainder into the pond. The new soundtrack in my head became “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Maybe it was an encouragement to the survivors, or maybe it was to buoy my strength.

I scooped water out of the upper pond while the lower pond filled, then decided to clean out the filter before restarting the pump which channels water into the upper pond so it can flow down the waterfall to aerate the water. I pulled the filters out and, not surprisingly, found another victim. I dug a smaller, more shallow hole in a flower bed and scooped this one into it, rinsed the filters and replaced them, then pulled the strainer out. You’ll never believe what was in it–another deceased fish! I dumped it in the new hole and rinsed out the the strainer, replaced it and then gritted my teeth as I knelt down to do the worst part of the process–sticking my arm into the mucky water and cleaning the intakes on the pump. I’ve found lots of critters–live and dead doing this part of the process, so I fully expected to grab another slimy victim.

I reached down behind the pump first, pulling the leaves and debris from the intakes, then plunged my arm into the front part of the filter. Again, I found debris, leaf litter, and small sticks, but there wasn’t a fish there! I thought that might be the end of it, but as I watched the pump start up, I noticed a goldfish that stayed in the same place too long. I got out the crab net and had to pry him out of the rocks he had wedged into before bloating. He must have been one of the first victims and he had swollen into the crack between the rocks. That made 3 in the second grave.  Then I swept the net around the pond a few times, and found 2 more deceased that were hidden in the lily pads. I dumped them in the hole, covered it with dirt, then turned off the water to the pond and said a quick prayer for their protection against me before washing my hands and changing shoes so I could take my daughter to her appointment.

It was an embarrassing, nasty episode that I wanted to forget. But it didn’t end there. Two days later, I came in late from work, and I had to regroup, change clothes, and get to a quick meeting before settling the kids for bed. I barked orders at the son playing video games to take a shower before I returned, wondering why he hadn’t done that after football. I returned home for the evening about 9 pm and he was still playing video games! Exasperated, I asked him to take a shower and change clothes so I could stand to be in the same room as him.

He claimed he had showered twice–once after school and once when I asked him to shower again. I asked if he had put dirty clothes on, and he claimed he hadn’t, then blamed the dogs for the odor in the room. I told him to take his shoes to the garage and spray them with deodorizer, then changed into my pajamas. I returned to the front room and the odor lingered. He claimed to have disinfected his shoes and I asked him to make sure his clothes were clean. By this time, he was understandably fed up with me accusing him of smelling up the house.

“It’s not me–it’s the dog!” he protested.  “He smells like fish!”

I froze and sniffed, dread mingling with the stench that I now recognized. The largest dog was chewing on something, and I asked my son what he had given him. He reached down and yanked away what he thought was a toy, but was a fish head! He threw it across the room and wiped his hands on his clean clothes. The dog happily bounded over to retrieve it and began gnawing gratefully on his treasure.

It was time for an “All Hands on Deck.” I quickly assigned each child a task. One child was assigned to bathe the dogs, the boys were to gather & rebury all fish parts, then cover them with a rock to prevent grave-robbing. The other child was to begin the cleanup process. Fortunately, only one head and one tail were found inside. Within an hour, we had clean, damp dogs, freshly cleaned carpets, candles burning and our home no longer smelled like a fish market.

Day 19 — Melaina Elise Taylor

Thank you for working hard and having high standards! Thanks for showing me how to overcome adversity with grace!

My baby girl is now legally driving in preparation for her driver’s license! How have 14 years flown by so quickly? Melaina is talented, compassionate, hard-working, and a little bit stubborn.

Melaina takes injustice personally and feels personally affronted when she sees anyone being treated unfairly. Prejudice is incomprehensible and nonsensical to her as she tries to be loving and kind to everyone.

Melaina is a versatile, talented musician. A babysitter taught her piano several years ago. She doesn’t play often now, but is able to pick it up when she has time and does really well. She played violin for two years, making All-Region orchestra the first year she was eligible to try out. She was in 7th grade and competed against kids from 7th through 12th grade!

Melaina has an incredible talent for decorating, which she did NOT inherit from me! She spends free time on the weekends and summers cleaning and organizing. When I look around the house, I can see the difference between the rooms I have “decorated” and the areas where she has worked her magic! I admire her skill and ability in this area as well as her artistic talents.

Melaina’s athletic abilities constantly amaze me. She taught herself to ride a skateboard, then her brother’s ripstik. She has played soccer, volleyball, and competed in track and field last year. However, her passion since kindergarten has been gymnastics!

She fell in love with the sport in her first class at Sonshine Academy. After one year of basic classes, she moved to the competitive team. This year, she was chosen as one of the two captains for the upper level team. Despite experiencing mono this fall, she is back in the gym and competing.

Melaina is bright, but she also works hard to maintain straight As in all her classes. She studies hard to master the information in her classes. Her favorite subjects are math and science, and she always goes the extra mile for projects and assignments.

When she was seven, Melaina was struck by a truck. She spent a week in Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and had surgery the following week in a vain attempt to restore vision to her eye. The experience deepened her compassion for others. A couple of years later, she asked her friends to bring gifts for children in the hospital to her birthday party instead of gifts for her. She also cut her hair shorter than she really wanted it last year because it was long enough to donate to a group that makes wigs for children. These are just a few examples of her love for others and her willingness to sacrifice to help others.

Thank you for loving others and reaching out to them! Thank you for having a strong work ethic and not backing down from challenges! Thank you for forgiving people who hurt or disappoint you! Thank you for loving God first and making your faith a priority!

I Will Survive

My 17 year old just texted me from college.  “It’s not torn so it’s not surgical yet, however it is severely fractured so no weight on it for a while. Going to let me stay in the boot as long as the pain is tolerable.”

How does a 17 year old in her first semester of college crush the top of her foot so that it is “severely fractured”?  Like everything in my life, it’s complicated.

On the first evening in September, her father (my ex)was in a motorcycle accident and had to be hospitalized due to his injuries. He had road rash on his torso and arms, surgery on one hand, and was unable to move his other shoulder, leaving him virtually incapacitated. I waited until her classes were over the next day, then called and explained the situation, letting her choose whether to stay at college for her second weekend or come home. She chose to come see him that Friday evening, and spent the night with him in the hospital. At some point during the night, he had to smoke, which meant she helped load him into a wheelchair and take him outside to get his nicotine fix. In the process, they ran over her right foot while he was in the chair.

She limped the next day, but was so concerned with his health and stressed about her adjustment to college that we didn’t think much of it. The following week, her foot became more painful, and the nurse at Health Services on campus wrapped it, put her on crutches and made an appointment to see a doctor. The x-ray didn’t show a break, but it was extremely swollen, so he put her in a walking boot to support her foot and give her some relief from the massive blisters that had erupted across her torso.  A week later, she was hurting worse, so we made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor. He reviewed the x-rays and her symptoms, determining it was more serious than a sprain, suspecting a lisfranc injury to the middle part of her foot. He ordered a MRI, put her in a larger boot that isn’t conducive to weight-bearing, and prescribed a knee scooter to aid her mobility around campus.

The orthopedic office scheduled an appointment for an MRI at the local hospital the following week during a class, which would also require her to miss her first college Speech & Debate Tournament, and told her it was the only time available. I intervened, asking them to reschedule, but they weren’t able to accommodate her within a reasonable time frame, so I scheduled her with an independent MRI provider for this week outside of class time. It took four calls to the doctor’s office, two to the MRI location, one to the hospital and one to the insurance company, along with two emails and a stop at the local UPS store to fax authorizations to treat, but I did it. (SCORE!)

She had the MRI on Saturday, and we have been waiting on results.  This afternoon, I check my phone during a brief break at work and find out the orthopedic has called her to explain that they received the results and that her ligament isn’t torn, but there is a “severe fracture” that will require her to stay non-weight-bearing for a while and may still require casting later.

So my daughter will continue her first semester of college in a walking boot, using a knee scooter. Her second-story dorm room on the farthest end of the hall from the elevator is more challenging to reach these days, and the tiny space is crowded with the scooter she has to maneuver. She will have to make follow-up appointments with the orthopedic specialist as well as deal with ongoing pain from the injury while maintaining passing grades in her classes.  The car she drove to school is now useless as she is unable to drive it, and she will have to depend on friends and public safety for transportation until her foot heals.

I’m learning to turn loose more and let God control her life, and dependence on strangers to be His hands in her life. I guess she is learning humility, patience, and perseverance. I haven’t decided on the best soundtrack for this chapter: “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”  Or “I Will Survive.”  Either way, cue the disco ball!