Down in the Valley


All day heavy thinking
The thoughts weren’t quite syncing
Rusted, tired, and worn
Instead of rested I was forlorn

No need for anyone to fret

about my season of regret

My partner by my side

Thick as thieves for this ride

It’s time to take the reigns
And relieve the stress in my veins
In turn there will be an adaptation
And a focus on spiritual salvation

I trekked down to the valley
I heard God say stand by me
Then I rested in the garden
after begging to receive a pardon

Deep thoughts of reflection
Into a sinner’s lack of perfection
The heart and mind will need to lean
To regenerate their way through 2018



Running Dreamer

I had one of the most vivid and amazing running dreams. Maybe…. I will finally get back to it. 
I was running just for the fun and adventure of it. I did not care of pace but careful of the terrain. I was not running towards or away from anything. It relapsed several times and only changed in the small details. 

I started in a field with little around me architecturally speaking, but light green grass so tall it had fallen upon itself in waves. The path I was on was dirt like an old truck path. I ran up the right tire track. The left side was open but the median of the two tires was pressed down thick yellow green grass. Then the path became overgrown with weeds and grass taller than me and narrowed to only the right path. The path now appeared to be a present deer path and no longer a road. 

The trail turned into a wide open and mostly dirt road but this part was tricky because the dirt was inundated with thick white and overgrown roots. I had to watch my steps as I darted through the roots. After that obstacle, it went into mossy green rocks and a small stream that was easily and quickly passed. 

Once over a little embankment of the stream, I came upon a single deer path again. The deer path turned into sidewalk. The sidewalk of concrete went through a very open land and yet residential area. There was one large brick ranch home on the right and I had remembered this from previous dreams as the house where it was about to change paths. In front of this house the path changed because they had large tall grass like plants in front of the house and no room for a sidewalk. So in front of the grass began a slate sidewalk.

The slate was dark and damp and it was in a pattern and after following the path for a while it turned into a very urban area and I felt like I was at a hotel.

 I knew I could stop there and finish but I did not. I kept running happily. Friends found me along the path and wanted to run with me. We ran along slate pathways and then concrete sidewalks that alternated down the urban city center.

Then my memory of it fades and I awoke wanting only to run. 

I asked for earplugs- I got an ear infection.

I’ve felt this unnerving shift and a direction of change. I’ve felt this before and I listened to God’s direction so I thought it best I listen again.

I am still and I know that you are with me.

I couldn’t hear the message, because there was so much noise. So much I’ve been an overstimulated baby that’s taken to just being unpleasant and unhappy. I tried so hard to be still, but I could not. I could not be still. My mind would not be still.

My son is headed off to middle school next year. How did this happen so fast? I miss my old dog Luke. My daughter didn’t make the gifted program. Will she be okay? Will she be challenged enough? Should we consider a new private school? ::Puppy:: My dream job was dissolved because of budget cuts- now what? What do we do for summer vacation? Do I want to go to graduate school? When will I have enough time? ::Puppy:: When will my husband and I find time to just be still together? Who is willing to listen to all my thoughts and feelings? ::Puppy:: Should we just move? When am I going to feel better from my illnesses? The kids have to get all their checkups- have they been done? ::Puppy:: The animals need their check ups too! My teaching partner is leaving – will I be okay without her? ::Puppy:: Oh and the house – When are we going to pack up all the things from Christmas… Easter… last summer too? Will I be able to exercise again soon? ::Puppy:: When will I get to meet Chipmunk’s baby? When can I do all of these things? When? How? Why? Why not? ::Puppy::

Puppy – Fine God, I hear you! Mission puppy accomplished. The loudest noise of all was gone. If it felt sudden to get this puppy the noise is why…

All of the noises are gone. I haven’t settled them all, but I’ve found a solution to nearly everything.

Be still.

We named our puppy Jenny. After Jenny and the Summer Day by the Avett Brothers. The lyrics say, “The sun is hot, the wind is cool and we are finally out of school. I’m in love with Jenny and the summer day…”
Jenny and Benny

I am in love with Jenny and the summer day. What else can I say?

For the New Year

I have consistently written about my plans for a new year. This year it’s just a couple of days late.
I really didn’t like 2016, but not all of it was bad. I will have to focus on positive things. 

I went from 2012 not walking far to 2014 running half-marathons. Four in seven months actually. In 2015, I had plantar fasciitis and headed to the end of 2016 I was winded at a flight of stairs. I’ve made it back before and so I do believe I can do it again. To give you comparison in 2013- I would logged about 30 miles, in 2014 -I logged 440 miles, in 2015- I logged 275 miles and in 2016 – I logged 47 miles. It will take work, effort and time to get back where I was.

My health has been on a downhill slope. So my hope is I go up from here. I’d say I was at rock bottom, but I wasn’t. I was just in the depths of a great valley. 

My resolution of 2016 was to be kinder to myself in my inner dialogue. I put on 15 pounds with this illness and it’s okay. I will get back to where I need to be. It will take work, effort, and time.

My husband has been incredibly patient, hardworking, and kind. I’ve been so sick for so long. He’s been helpful and resourceful. He’s respected my privacy. 

Every year we get an ornament to symbolize our year. I got him a man on a kayak. All he wanted was to buy a kayak. He thought it would help us grow as a family and be adventurous. So we went all in and got the kayak. 

We went out on the kayak just the two of us one day. We went out onto the cove with a misty rain. It was supposed to be this amazing date where we got to just be alone out on the water. We nearly cancelled for the rain, but we grabbed our ponchos and went out anyways. We talked and relaxed our way around the inlets of the cove. That day- that date- might have been the highlight of my entire year.

My poor friends. I’ve been trying so hard as a wife, mother and teacher – my friend status has been hard to keep up with. I wanted to be with people when I couldn’t. I wanted to support – when I needed to be supported. As my dear friend says… I simply just couldn’t do “All the things”. 

It’s not that all 2016 was a wash in friendships. One of my best friends met me over the summer and I got to meet her husband. We went camping and to the beach with our good friends too. My twin from work and I sat by the pool watching our children play. Many porch sittings and shenanigans with another set of friends too. My bestie and I attempted dinner dates and play dates with our kids. I’m sure I missed several things, but sometimes a cup of tea and some long conversations can go a long way.

I love my job and as sick as I’ve been it’s been a challenge teaching. It takes a lot of energy. I’ve missed a few days and went a few days I should probably have rested. Some days I got up and went to work and upon returning from work I went straight to bed. It wasn’t all like that though. I ended last school year with great marks. This year I’ve given almost every planning period to go out of my way for someone else. There were a few days I shut the door and turned off the lights and just listened to music while I sat alone. Teaching is loud.. it’s noisy and overstimulating so it’s nice to just sit in the quiet for a while.

 My two favorite parts of my job are not required. I have been teaching two students how to sew and crochet in my free time. It’s been good to watch the boys learn how to relax. The second part I love about my job is that I get to mentor student teachers. I find it so fulfilling to help others find their groove with this profession. It’s become a running joke with the faculty about my obsession with student teachers. I love it though. I love the role as a mentor.

John and I set out to make 2016 great for us. We tried to get the kids out more. We took them sledding, hiking, kayaking, running, biking etc. We took them to Gatlinburg, camping, to a Lego event with my in-laws, my in-laws took them to Williamsburg too, and finally we took them for a full week at the beach. We signed them up for summer camps. Our son took archery and loved it – he doesn’t love much in athletics. He’s lazy or as his pulmonologist says his asthma keeps him from moving at a fast rate. So archery is perfect for him. Our daughter took soccer and gymnastics and loves them both. Our son joined Cub Scouts and also plays clarinet now. We got them both new bikes. We sent them to music camp. We kept our summer pool membership. We were really making an effort.

While I’ve been sick, I was afraid. When you’re that sick you begin to be very afraid of the unknown. You try very hard to be rational, but it’s not always easy. I prayed hard before my last procedure. I didn’t want to go under general anesthesia. I was very afraid. I was afraid they would find nothing wrong. I have no other response to that fear but to pray. I am thankful for this journey of my health. It makes you question all of your faults and weaknesses. It makes you try to explain your own shortcomings. Although, I banished shame talking in 2016- it doesn’t mean it’s an inability to be honest with yourself and others either.
I cannot say enough about Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace! I spent $3000 in the last three months of the year just on medical bills alone. We still have some work to do on the cars – which both decided to have trouble while I was sick. We had been looking for months for someone to rebuild our porch. We finally got to it and underneath the decking was a disaster so it took longer and cost us more than we had anticipated. We are not in a panic situation – we’ll be okay. We’re behind on a little savings, but it’s not digging us a grave of debt.

 That’s what financial peace feels like. 

Go get the book- take the class – and try it.

My mind is clouded. I’ve not been writing or running. It’s an onion. I will pull back one layer at a time. I’ve been slapping on a layer on top of a layer for a while. I lost myself in work, in trying  to help my kids see the world, in being selfish too, or in being sick mostly. Now it’s coming off. I’m shedding the layers- probably tearfully- The kind of honesty that happens here isn’t easy. Instead of processing things when they happen – processing them later makes them a “thing” maybe a thing bigger than they should be.

In 2017 – I’m going to have to write and run. I’ve got to go see the world myself and just breath for a while. I’ve got to peel the layers back to raw emotion. I’ve got to get to mile 7 again where my clarity begins.

Up Before the Sun

It’s a snow day. A glorious snow day for teachers. This day is envied by others who think they would spend it better… asleep. Some might say it’s a day wasted not sleeping in. My stomach was far too unhappy to sleep… I simply had no choice.

While I was sitting enjoying my coffee- surrounded by two cats and a dog, I rummaged through my draft box of blogs I never quite finished. Some of them were perfect. Some of them completely unfinished. Some of them too emotional. Some of them too honest. None of them were posted. I have been writing, but just not finishing.

For six months- I’ve felt different. For three months- I’ve been sick. It takes a toll on you and wears you down in so many ways. It hits your house. It hits your relationships. It hits your emotions. It’s all you have to talk about and it’s all anyone can talk to you about. In a sense, you lose all the other parts of who you are. You just become the illness.

For me, it’s taken a toll on the things that make me right in the head too. I’ve been too tired to write or have felt guilty if I did begin to write. If I had that much energy why wasn’t I doing something to help my husband? There was a lot of guilt there to begin to write again. There were days where just going up a flight of stairs would put me into a fit of belching and pain- “days” like 90 in a row. So I have not been running. I’ve hardly been walking. To get my mental clarity I need to write or run… one of the two if not both and I have been doing neither.

To get up before the sun is a quiet I don’t hear at any other time in the day. The children aren’t running around flipping, squealing, fighting, or tickling. My husband isn’t turning the football game up on the highest volume possible. I hear the snorts of my dog and the heat cranking out to beat this cold weather. This might be the darkest and yet clearest time of my entire day.

Goodbye 2016 – Onward to Good Health!

To update you medically –

My kidneys checked out fine. My right one just drains slower, but there is no damage done to the kidney itself. I have been told I am released from the urologist unless I have further problems. I had a big scan of my kidneys called a renal lasix scan. They inject you with a nuclear medicine and you lay perfectly still for over an hour. My kidneys worked find and then my doctor went back to worrying about the gallbladder. It was a nice long tangent.

I then went through a horrid test called the hida scan. Again you are injected with a nuclear medicine and you stay perfectly still for two hours this time. It made me terribly sick and still came back normal. Normal with an 82% ejection fraction (it spits out more than what is considered normal to some doctors). My doctor of course doesn’t believe this is the source so I went through an upper endoscopy. That’s where you are put under general anesthesia and they put a camera down your throat. They found some healing ulcers and a small hernia, but not the source of my pain. So more results come back in a few weeks. We shall see the outcome, but I’m in at least manageable pain. I just have to eat simple and I can’t exercise without burping for hours on end.

Next is just waiting for results to come in and see if the new medicines help me improve or get rid of my pain.

Before I go take a nap I should tell you…

For over a month…. I’ve been dealing with a mystery illness. I’ve gone through lots of testing and my doctor has decided that I’m just a puzzle that can’t be solved right away. In the meantime, I get to try to act like I’m functioning as normal when I’m really not myself. It’s been going on so long I have a new sense of normal.

I decided that I wouldn’t tell people until I had more answers, because I couldn’t explain what was going on necessarily and I have trouble keeping everyone in the loop. Now it’s gone on for so long that I’m not certain I can keep up with just being quiet. It’s hard enough keeping up with my job and being a wife and mother -much less being a good friend or communicator.

The truth of it is that at first they thought my gallbladder was quitting and while looking at that they found that my right kidney is not draining properly. They have not found any stones- in fact so far they have said my gallbladder and renal system all look great (other than the draining kidney part). There is no block or kink to be found. Nothing… thousands of dollars later and nothing. My blood work is completely normal other than low Vitamin D…. which is not a new diagnosis for me.

The problem is that my symptoms don’t match with the kidney problem. I’m mostly just sick to my stomach and survive on sprite and lots of medications. So there is something else wrong with me. They’ve decided it may still be my gallbladder. I’m still going through testing. I’m still not sure what is going on, but I figure it’s time I just say what’s going on so when I show up at your holiday party and fall asleep in your recliner you’ll understand. Or if I decline your offer for something you just know it’s not personal I’m not well.

I don’t want to leave my home for the most part and I am extremely tired. I could have an entire house full of wonderful friends I haven’t seen in ages and I’m in bed anyways.  I go to bed rather early so last night when I went to see my favorite band the Avett Brothers… I totally fell asleep sitting up during the second half of the show. My husband has been a trooper with the housework and caring for the kids and picking up my slack. My children know that I’m tired, but they don’t seem to really see me as sick… maybe this is their new normal too. My students have been caring and flexible and have shown me so much respect in that. My coworkers are helpful and understanding – constantly checking on me and praying for me. My inner circle that have known what is going on is a small group of people, but they have been amazingly supportive.

So in all my thankfulness I would sum it up with my husband and inner circle of support I’ve had the last month. My husband has washed nearly every dish, has done so much for the kids, pets, cars, and so on. He’s not a big fan of me being sick. We don’t get to spend a lot of time together. I’m not exactly a fun date or enjoyable company.

With the holidays here at my heels I declined any attempt to decorate for Halloween or Thanksgiving. I’m moving right on to Christmas. I can’t wait to deck the halls. I want my tree up and feel the joy of the season. I’m ready for cold weather, fluffy sweaters, and cozy boots. We’re not doing a normal Thanksgiving this year. We’re up in the air with little direction or decision as to what we want to do. So yeah I’m skipping right on to Christmas.

Also- I want a puppy, but I am in no shape to care for a puppy. I want a fluffy golden retriever puppy. I can have Christmas wishes that aren’t related to my health.

Wish me well and hand me a sprite.