Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dead Squirrel

We cut down two trees in our front yard. One was way past dead and could have fallen on our house at any given time. I’m glad to have that eyesore gone! The other was hidden under a canopy of other trees so it has been reaching to the west for sunlight since it sprouted. As a result, it was leaning excessively and not looking all that healthy. We made the decision to cut them down and what had taken decades to bring into current form, only took less than 30 minutes to bring down to the ground and cut into small pieces. It’s amazing to think about how one decision can drastically change everything.

The next thing we had to do is get all the debris out of the yard. We hauled the small pieces to the wood pile in the backyard to be used in the fireplace next winter and we cut and bundled the brush so we could leave it on the curb to be picked up by the trash company. Thirteen very large trunk pieces remained and littered the yard so we had to figure out what to do with them. They were too big for trash pick up and too big to burn in the fireplace. We didn’t have the tools needed to split them and didn’t have a vehicle to haul them in. My husband rolled them over to the side of the yard and made a neat pile, hoping we would figure out a solution quickly.

The next day when I went out to get the mail, I was startled by something I saw in the pile of huge trunks. A squirrel tail was poking from between two trunks on the bottom of the pile. I took a closer look and saw the squirrel tail was connected to a very dead squirrel. It was strange. It was like he just crawled into that nice little spot to die… he wasn’t stuck under anything and didn’t appear to be injured… just dead. Poor little guy. I have never gotten rid of a dead animal on my property before and I was really hoping my husband would take care of it… bless his heart, I think he was hoping I would… we both ignored the squirrel in an effort to wait for the other to take care of it (sad, but true.)

A few days later, I had worked out a deal with a landscaping company. I paid them a few bucks to come and pick up those trunks and get them out of our yard. After lunch, my hubby decided to take the dog for a walk… off they went while I cleaned up the dishes from cooking eggs, bacon and hashbrowns (a Sunday favorite at my place).

A few moments after he left with the dog, I hear the garage door open and in a slightly alarmed voice, I hear Ryan say, “Babe… we have a problem!”

I walked over to the door to see what was the matter. My eyes fell on my husband and thankfully he looked fine. I felt a little relief. I then looked down towards the dog, she walked into full view… cute little Goldie, the Golden Retriever, proudly hauling… the dead squirrel in her mouth.

I screamed “GROSS!” as loudly as I could. Then heard my husband explain, “I can’t get her to let it go… what do we do?” I began laughing in between my loud “GROSS” screams. I grabbed the training tool I have that makes a buzzing sound that only dogs can hear. She hates that thing and usually just picking it up makes her do anything I ask her to do. We went out into the driveway and I pushed the button… five times… and it became obvious that she had no intention of giving up her new toy. Her jaws were clamped tight and we could not budge her. Now, imagine for a moment, trying to open a dog’s jaws to get a dead squirrel out of its mouth… while trying desperately not to touch the dead squirrel… not easy I tell you. By some crazy miracle, she finally gave it up… and the squirrel’s limp, lifeless body hit the ground.

Hubby dragged the dog away from the carcass and that left me as the leading candidate to do away with the body… lucky me. He (yes, the squirrel was a he) was gently placed in a hefty bag then triple bagged for safe keeping until tomorrow, trash day.

I can’t get the image of my dog standing proudly with a gross, disgusting, three-day old dead squirrel in her mouth out of my head. It is totally cracking me up! Here’s the sad part though… I don’t think we humans are all that different than my dog in matters like this. How many of us have our jaws clamped tightly on something that is so bad for us that everyone around us is trying their hardest to get us to let go? They are buzzing us or maybe even commanding us to put it down. We know it’s because they care for us, we know that it’s probably the right thing to do… but because of our sinful nature… we just can’t part with it. I believe 100% that it takes a miracle to pry it from our grip. It’s only God’s power that can remove the stinking carcass from our mouths.

I’ve been working so hard for over a year now to make God’s current plan for my life come to fruition. He tasked me, along with my sponsor Jerry, with starting a Celebrate Recovery group at Community of Hope in Mansfield TX. We have been so blessed to have 10 of the most awesome people ever created, all special in their own unique ways, all people who have let God’s power free them from their own personal dead squirrels… come into view to partner with us on this project. Opening night is April 7th and I am filled with anxious energy… most of it good. I can’t wait to see how God is going to use the obedience of myself and the rest of the leaders to help others open their jaws and release the stinking carcasses that are literally ‘reeking’ havoc in their lives.

If you are reading this and you have thought that perhaps you might be interested in Celebrate Recovery… but you are trying to talk yourself out of it, maybe you don’t think you really have a problem, maybe you don’t want other people to know your struggle, maybe you’re too embarrassed, maybe you think we’re just gonna sit around and complain… or maybe you don’t think your issues is “big” enough to go to a group like this over… I ask you to loosen your jaw a little. I ask you to set your excuse to the side and just make the decision to come if for no other reason but to support me in my venture… I really hope I won’t be standing up front looking at 100 empty chairs on opening night. Come… support me… check it out… however you make yourself get there, make the decision to come. It’s amazing! One decision truly can drastically change everything.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Say "Cheese"

It’s been a little while since I posted my last article. Have you missed me??? Just kidding. It’s been a very interesting last month and a half. This story will give you an idea of what I’ve been up to... thankfully, it’s all over!

It was Friday night, I had been sick with one of those stomach bugs so I hadn’t eaten anything for a few days. My son had enjoyed the most expensive Valentine candy in the whole world earlier that day… Fun Dip. Why was it so expensive? Oh, because we found out he was allergic to it the hard way. I rushed him to the doctor at 4:00 then stopped off at the pharmacy on the way home to get him the steroids he needed to not scratch all his skin off before morning light. Now 6:00ish, I was getting dinner together for my hubby and son, but I wasn’t going to eat since food still wasn’t terribly appealing to me. Out of habit, I stuffed a piece of sliced Colby cheese in my mouth as I prepared my son’s dinner plate. Oh how I love cheese! In only minutes, a pain begin at the base of my sternum. I thought maybe it was a hunger pang, so I ate another piece of cheese. It got worse as I handed out dinner and tried to do a little living room clean up from the busy day. Before long, I couldn’t stand up straight… the pain grew and grew. I tried everything I knew… antacids, sitting, lying, I even tried to make myself throw up with the wrong end of my toothbrush, but the pain got worse and worse.

I felt like such a wimp. I mean, normal people don’t writhe around in pain when they have a little heart burn, why was I almost in tears. It got worse and worse to the point I felt I might actually explode… in fact, explosion would have been a nice relief. In probably the worst pain of my life I broke down in prayer, praying the prayer God always responds to with immediacy when it is spoken from my heart…

“God, I am in so much pain. I know I deserve this pain… I deserve worse pain for being the filthy sinner that I am. The pain Jesus endured for me is so much greater than this… help me put this in perspective, help me Lord… Help me!” a few seconds later I added, “Tell me what I’m supposed to do!”

I managed to go to the living room and fell at my husband’s feet in pain. I was in tears, and writhing in pain. He didn’t know what to do. I repeated in my head to God, “Tell me what to do God…. I don’t know what to do.” At that very moment, my body began to go into shock. I was hyperventilating, and the blood rushed out of my arms and legs so they curled up became rigid. I began to feel numbness all over my body and I couldn’t speak normally… I was speaking very slowly and stuttering. That was when my husband called 911. The beauty of going into shock is that the pain actually seemed to subside slightly, so as scary as it was to be “in shock” it was a relief, at least from the pain.

The ambulance came and two very kind paramedics took very good care of me. Shoeless, they strapped me to the gurney and put me in the back of the ambulance. They hooked me up to an IV then offered me some morphine. As a recovering alcoholic, morphine is a dangerous drug for me so I had to think about it… but ultimately I said yes. The pain was incredible.

Once at the hospital they kept pumping me with more and more morphine, but no matter how much they gave me, the pain was incredible. I became nauseous, no doubt from all the morphine and they eventually gave me an additional drug to take the edge off the nausea… they basically knocked me out and the rest is fuzzy. Although I do clearly remember the devil women who gave my a sonogram, jabbing her sono-gun into the areas that hurt the most while it hurt the most. To her I say… I know you were just doing your job but… REALLY!!! It hurt. I will try to forgive you.

It was almost midnight and I was released. The pain had subsided (or the drugs had finally worked, not sure) and I slowly walked, shoeless, to the waiting room to wait for my hubby to pick me up. I was high, still in some pain and felt like a little kid, helpless and wandering in the desert waiting for salvation. I held a single piece of paper in my hand that said, “Follow up with your doctor for elevated liver enzymes.”

The emergency room had sent me home with drugs… Vicodin and another kick-ass nausea/anxiety medication that supposedly worked well with Vicodin. The instructions were to take them as needed for pain. In the morning, I was groggy and afraid the pain would return full force so I took the meds right away. By late afternoon the drugs were beginning to wear off and I felt another panic…what if the pain returned? I took another round of meds and went back to sleep. I awoke as my husband began to get into bed. I felt the addictive part of my personality taking hold of me as I saw the Vicodin bottle and thought, “I better take another one, just in case.” I realized I wasn’t in pain at all and thought about lying. I weighed the “high” feeling against my integrity and by pure instinct I grabbed the bottles… and handed them to my husband and said, “Take these… hide them… I don’t trust myself!” He was a little shocked but did as I said. He would become my drug dealer for the next few weeks.

The next morning was Sunday. I got up out of bed determined to go to church. I felt I needed confession and prayed it was a communion day. Guilt was washing over me… I was questioning my sobriety and I was close to tears every second. I recalled my old AA days when some of the AA nazi’s would pound on the table vehemently saying use of any drug nullified their sobriety. I didn’t believe that crap… but I did believe that inappropriate use of a drug was grounds for sobriety interruption. I was about to celebrate 3 years of sobriety and I was wondering… had I used the drugs inappropriately… had I abused them and thus interrupted my sobriety??? We went to church, I had communion and I cried and begged for forgiveness and clarity.

I tortured myself for about two days over this… was I still sober… had I crossed the line??? Here I was getting ready to launch a recovery ministry in Mansfield, Texas on April 7th 2010 – a ministry that has been in the works for over a year and… was I, the ministry leader a fraud? Had I let everyone down… my husband, my kid, my sponsees, my sponsor, myself… God??? Finally it hit me… the devil would love nothing more than for me to question myself and my sobriety to the point of breaking down and quitting the ministry and life style I have grown accustom to. Who cares! My new life is a life of GRACE and LOVE… and in the very moment I recognized I didn’t need the meds for pain, I did exactly what I was supposed to do - I gave them to my husband. I told him I didn’t trust myself. I asked for help.

Well, it turns out I had a bad Gall Bladder. I had it removed on March 19th and everything went perfectly. I have released my husband from his drug dealer duties because I believe with God, I can be okay dealing with the pain and the pain relief.

Before my Gall Bladder surgery but after my 3 year sobriety anniversary, we had a family photo shoot done with SGLY Photography. The pictures turned out INCREDIBLY. Tiffany, the photographer, took some extra time with just me and she captured a great shot of me with my three year sobriety coin. It seems every year right around my sobriety anniversary, something big happens in my life as if the devil were trying to trip me up. I think this whole experience was part of that little idiot’s plan. To me the photoshoot was a celebration of getting through one more of the devil’s schemes. An irony hit me… saying ‘cheese’ is what got those pretty smiles captured on film; a record of joy and achievement. But cheese, Colby to be exact, was also the catalyst to all of the trouble. That’s right, that little piece of cheese I put in my mouth that day was what made my gall bladder finally totally freak out. The pain that cheese caused me makes me wonder if I will ever eat cheese again, but how about I just take it one day at a time instead of swearing it off completely. I am so very thankful for the ability to walk through life one day at a time... with sobriety and with cheese. Thank the Lord, my King!!!