One Month to Live: Day 7

Currently how connected do you feel to your dreams? Does your day-to-day life reflect an active pursuit of your dreams? What prevents you from such a pursuit?

What are dreams? Langston Hughes wrote, “Hold fast to dreams for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” That’s my first thought when I think of dreams.

What are my dreams? That’s a hard question. I could say it has gotten easier since yesterday, but it is still a hard dream.

I want to teach. I have wanted to teach since I was a little girl. Some of my teaching experiences would have been enough to scare a smarter woman from the field. But I still want to teach.

And yesterday, after reviewing 4YS’s website, I want to teach there. I love medieval/Old English literature. It is really the only literature I adore in general. (I do like Lewis Carroll and Jonathan Swift, but.. not whole genres that take them into account.)

I want, when I teach, to teach less than five classes a semester. I would really like to teach three. And I would like to teach literature on a regular basis, which means teaching somewhere there is a four year degree. And on top of those things I would like to teach somewhere I can do topics classes and just teach whatever my little heart desires. I hadn’t articulated this till yesterday.

Up until now and maybe now still I have not been pursuing my dreams, at least not the one I’m talking about here. I’ve been homeschooling. I’ve felt that is what God wants me to do. I think he has blessed me and the boys through that/this time.

How do you distinguish between your own selfish dreams and the God-given dream planted in your life? How has God revealed and reinforced His dream in your life?

Selfish dreams… Not sure. Was teaching a selfish dream? I wasn’t gifted with it to start with. I had to really work at it.

How has God revealed and reinforced His dream in your life? hmm. By having the job at 4YS available, even if I don’t get it, just so I could imagine a job I would be dancing around to get.

Pull out your “dream box”. What’s in there? Write out a description of one dream you have that you believe is from God. How has it “floated to the top” in your life?

Working full-time at a four year school. Teaching both literature and composition. Writing papers and doing presentations.

By having it show up. Same answer as above.

One Month to Live: Day 6

Make a list of the items, gifts, resources, and opportunities you are responsible for stewarding. Tell how they came into your life and how much control of them you have.

My brain. God gave it to me. I don’t have a lot, though I could help keep it well by working out and eating correctly.

My education. Part of that is a result of the government providing K-12 education. Part of it is because my family emphasized education. Part of that is because my parents supported me in college. Part of it is because I wanted to go to graduate school. Part of it is because my husband and sons supported me while I finished up the last of my dissertation work.

How much control do I have over it? A lot since it is finished.

My health. I was mostly born with it. I’ve done some good, getting a hysterectomy and thyroid medicine, and some not good, being overweight and eating nightshades. I have some control over it. I got the hysterectomy and quit having 100 day periods. I got thyroid medicine. Both of those last were only possible because of medical advances.

How much control do I have over it? Some. I can get and take the thyroid medicine. It is very expensive and is not covered by my insurance, but I can get it. I can limit my intake of nightshades. I can eat right. I can exercise. Not all though, because some things may get worse without my intention or even without my knowledge.

My family. Obviously I was born with part of my family. I am not responsible at all for being a part of them, though I am responsible for continuing to keep in touch with them, as Pastor Kerry keeps reminding everyone.

I am partly responsible for my family now. I saw R, laughed with him, asked him to a birthday party, and talked to him for hours. I wrote him. I went to see him. But he tried to make me paranoid, called me on the phone, and wrote me. He dated me cross-states. So, with God, we’re probably equally responsible for that. In my opinion, it was one of my better choices.

I am also partly responsible for the boys. Obviously I couldn’t have them by myself. And both of us wanted them. I homeschooled them. We took them to church. We moved them around.

In addition, I am also partly responsible for not having more than the boys. My life was endangered both times I was pregnant, so I got my tubes tied. But we could have adopted at least twice more. In fact, the adoption agency called us twice and offered to wave the fees. Both times I was pregnant and after that they quit calling. But we could have called them back. We could have adopted two more children. But I don’t think I could have taken care of two more children. Hopefully those babies got families who could take care of them.

How much control do I have over my family? None. I couldn’t stop my mother from going crazy. I couldn’t stop my father from having a stroke. I couldn’t stop my son from becoming an atheist. I couldn’t stop my sister from marrying a non-Christian. I couldn’t stop my other sister from marrying someone she had just met. I couldn’t stop my brother from being an atheist. I have absolutely zero control over my family. All I can do is love them and pray for them.

My three part-time jobs. Obviously my brain and my education were a necessity for these. And I had to attempt to get the jobs. Someone else had to decide to give them to me. I had to work at them in order to keep them.

How much control do I have over them? Ultimately, of course, none. But generally I could continue doing all three of these jobs as long as I work at them and apply for them.

My house. R worked to make the money to purchase it. We paid quite a bit for it. My dad paid it off. So we have no mortgage payments right now.

How much control do I have over it? Some. I pay the insurance and the taxes on it. I live in it. But not a lot. A fire could destroy it, so could a gas leak. R could decide we need to move. The government could become communist and take it away from me to give to someone else. (Okay, that is not likely, but it is happening in Venezuela right now.)

The stuff in my house. Most of the furniture was given to my by my parents. Some was given to me by my sister. In the whole house, we bought bookshelves, a table and chairs, a coffee table, nightstands, and two dressers. That’s it. The six couches were all given to us. The three queen beds were all given to us. The other coffee table was given to us. Two of the dressers were given to us. Two armoires were given to us. A desk was given to us. … Hm. We bought a desk, too. I forgot. Okay, so we have bought some furniture for our house. And looking at that list, it seems that we have way too much furniture.

How much control do I have over it? Someone could come in and steal it. Someone could break it. Someone could set it on fire. Someone could break the stuff too. So I can keep it clean, but I can’t keep it safe.

One Month to Live: Day 5

What’s the biggest physical challenge you face? What one step can you take today toward improving your physical health?

My biggest physical challenge is my health. Actually, that has long been a major challenge. I have lots of things wrong with me, though nothing clearly visible, like being in a wheelchair.

Thankfully I have been able to get help for some of my problems.

I had a hysterectomy and I no longer bleed twenty days a month (or more).

I take thyroid pills and I don’t have to celebrate the fact that I got up and cleaned a closet. (I still might not clean the closets, but it is no longer because I am physically unable to do that.)

I have sleep apnea. The CPAP machine helped me a little, but not a lot. I changed some of my sleeping patterns and I take melatonin. I dream again, which is good. I know I am not getting enough good sleep when I wake up in the morning and I haven’t dreamed anything.

I have nightshade allergies and although I give them up every once in a while for stretches at a time, and I no longer eat them for every meal in a day, I have not committed to giving them up long term except for special occasions.

I have other minor allergies that I have always had (caseine, chocolate, and cedar) and some new ones (latex), but these don’t give me too much trouble here. I don’t usually eat too much of the first two and thankfully the second is not a typical tree here in Houston.

Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit my dad’s body type, which is long and thin. I got my mom’s, which is curvaceous with a tendency to rotundity. And I haven’t worked on it and kept working on it. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t. I had been working on it really well and then my mother went crazy and I gave it up out of stress, which is silly. Giving it up just gave me something else to stress over.

For as sick as my body is, I am doing great. I would be doing even better, though, if I recommitted to being healthy by giving up nightshades, exercising, and eating right.

One step: I can think of lots, but I don’t want to say I’ll do something and not do it. What could I do?
I could give up nightshades.
I could exercise once a day.
I could limit my eating.

There, those are things I could do. Will I commit to one? No, I don’t think so.

How do you usually handle powerful emotions?

Irritation I give in to. I snap at people.

Anger, I usually don’t say much about. I try not to yell and scream and holler. (Remember that besetting sin I blogged about earlier?) I am trying to abjure anger.

Romance… I usually don’t deal with that much either. My husband doesn’t express his love like I do and sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmingly loving I just sit down till it goes away because I don’t want to irritate him.

I learned to eat to stuff down my emotions. I don’t really want to do that. I want to feel them and use them or let them go.

How would you rate your health in each of these four areas – spiritual, physical, emotional, relational – from one (terrible) to ten (fantastic)?

Spiritual – 8
Physical – 5
Emotional – 8
Relational – 8

If, then proposition

R said he was listening to some videographer podcast and the guy said all stories are if, then statements.

If the alien doesn’t find a way to call home, then the government will experiment on and kill him. (ET)

If the woman doesn’t get married, then she will continue to be an embarrassment to her family and limited in her ability to do things. (Big Fat Greek Wedding)

If the crew can’t act on the real ship as they did on the fake, entire worlds will be destroyed. (Galaxy Quest)

You get the idea, right? So I thought I would work on Dielli’s situation and see what I could come up with. I mean, I have written book one and I’m half way through book two. I have been sure I knew how to finish it, though I may have changed that just now. And I have a rough idea of book three.

Bk 1
If Dielli doesn’t keep her dreaming secret, then she will be taken away from her family.
Bk 2
If Dielli doesn’t get rescued, then she will have to live as a slave.
Bk 3
If Dielli doesn’t make herself useful, then she will never be free.

By making book two about her being rescued, which doesn’t happen, I find that the dramatic ending might ought to be when she finds out they are moving after Uncle Toban had left. I still think the idea of going to Belen or Salen entire would be good. She still won’t be rescued there because Ilshak can’t talk to her. I think that is a great scene. Maybe the book needs to be re-ordered. I will think about it.

One Month to Live: Day 4

In what area of your life are you struggling the most to change? Are you trying to change with willpower or God’s power?

I am struggling the most to get back to eating right and exercising. I have often asked for God’s help. I have never noticed receiving God’s help on this issue. So I am not doing it.

The next thing would be something that is new this semester, from having so many additional classes, and that is that I am not getting papers graded as fast as I used to. I feel as if I am constantly behind in grading. But as long as I grade for about three hours this weekend, I am caught up. I am not behind right now.

What are some ways you’ve seen God prune areas of your life? What has been the result of His cuts into your life? Where are you still waiting to see results?

My hubby said:

The teaching is based on John 15:1-5, where Jesus is talking about our being the branches and he the vine. The gardener prunes the branches that bear fruit. We don’t think about God pruning those that are bearing fruit. I’ve never grown grapes, but I’ve been involved with other fruit bearing trees and roses. In those cases you have to trim back perfectly good branches, even cut off buds, to ensure that the fruit that is finally borne is big and full.

So… where do I think God is pruning my life right now? In friends, maybe. The friends I have are a lot more precious than they might be because I haven’t made any new friends here in seven years. Is that pruning?

I’m not really sure where God is pruning.

I am sure God can prune. He might be pruning. I’m just not sure what that would look like in my life.

What are the current barriers to spiritual health in your life?

Doubt. Desire to read/study more. Lack of motivation. I know if there is a God he loves me. I know that I love him.

How do I love someone who might not exist? The same way everyone else does when they love that “perfect” person, who turns out not to be so perfect after all….

I am not being stretched to study or learn because I’m not hanging around anyone who knows more than I do. So I have become satisfied. And I know I’m in good with the boss, so I am coasting. Hate that when someone does it at work. So why am I doing it?

I do talk to God a lot, more than I talk to my friends. These days way more than I talk to my parents. Not as much as I talk to R though.

German chocolate cookies

1 pkg. German chocolate cake mix
6 to 9 oz. chocolate chips (or M & M’s)
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. butter, melted
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Heat oven to 350. Takes 8-12 minutes. Cool one minute. Remove from pan.

This is a slight variation from this recipe.

The cookies were good. I didn’t get as many as I would have liked because the dog got to the plate. And she loved them. (No, dogs are not all allergic to chocolate. Yes, Serenity is fine.)

123 meme

My hubby tagged me for a meme. I love memes, so why didn’t I do this one already? I don’t know.

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. No cheating!
Find page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.
Here’s the three sentences.

Jim licked his finger and leisurely leafed through to the right page. It took him a couple minutes to review the payment schedule- Jim could read, but it wasn’t a strong point- nodded, and looked up. The grocer was sweating now.

These are the sentences from I Dare by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. This book is the ending, so far, of their Liaden Universe series. I adore this book. Both my husband and I are re-reading it.

Not even one month to live

A friend’s mother fell and broke her hip almost two weeks ago. They had intended to have surgery right away, but she had an infection. So they put it off while they tried to figure out what to do to make the infection go away.

Today Anne told me that she was going to leave to go to her mother’s tomorrow and that she was concerned that her mother was not a believer, even though she has been a devout Catholic all her life. Why would she think that? It is because her mother told her that she thought “You die and that’s it. There is nothing beyond it.” I had brought One Month to Live to school to read. I offered it to Anne. She took it gladly.

Her mother died this morning, before Anne could even get to New Jersey.

Anne’s mother was in great health two weeks ago. Now she is dead. She didn’t even have one month to live.

One Month to Live music

I’ve been hearing a lot of music on the radio that relates to the idea of One Month to Live.

For instance, “Letter to Me” by Brad Paisley, in which the narrator is writing a letter to his 17-year-old self:

you got so much up ahead
you’ll make new friends
you should see your kids and wife
and I’d end by sayin’ have no fear
these are nowhere near
the best years of your life

And then there’s Trace Adkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This” about a girl/woman racing through the stages of her life:

You’re gonna miss this
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast
These are some good times
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this

In church last Sunday, a soloist sang “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney:

Don’t blink
Just like that you’re six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you’re twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don’t blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did
Turning into moms and dads next thing you know your “better half”
Of fifty years is there in bed
And you’re praying God takes you instead
Trust me friend a hundred years goes faster than you think
So don’t blink

Tim McGraw’s song “Live Like You Were Dying” isn’t new, but it says it well. The narrator was 40-something when he got the news that he might be dying and:

He said “I was finally the husband,
“That most the time I wasn’t.
“An’ I became a friend a friend would like to have.
“And all of a sudden goin’ fishin’,
“Wasn’t such an imposition,
“And I went three times that year I lost my Dad.
“Well, I finally read the Good Book,
“And I took a good long hard look,
“At what I’d do if I could do it all again,
“And then:

“I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing,
“I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu.
“And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
“And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.”
An’ he said: “Some day, I hope you get the chance,
“To live like you were dyin’.”

One Month to Live: Day 3

How much of any given day to you spend doing only what you do best?

I spend three and a half hours a day doing what I do best. (Or maybe 7-10 if we are talking about sleeping.)

In general do you agree with the 80/20 principle? What activities in your life to you consider wasted time? What keeps you from using that time in more meaningful ways?

People often say that I am wasting time when I read, which is really what I do best. But I enjoy reading. I am not sure I would do as well if I had no time to read.

What am I accomplishing in my life? Well, I am getting my kids to school. I am teaching about 170 students. I am making some extra money. (Although that seems to go to gas.) And I am working on getting a full-time job somewhere. I am or I have been serving God through teaching (old church) and hosting a challenge group (new church). I am doing the One Month to Live challenge. I’m not sure how that is for God, but it is definitely for church.

How would you describe your current season of life?

If the metaphor for my life is a car ride around the world, right now I am clipping along the Autobahn. I may be going too slow for some people, but I am happy and doing things I want to be doing.

Time journal

What consumes most of your time each day? What exactly consumes you at work? How much of any given day to you spend doing only what you do best?

I sleep seven to ten hours a day. That leaves about fourteen to do things.

I spend an average of three and a half hours each weekday teaching class.

I spend an average of an hour on the road each weekday. I listen to some music and some talk radio, but most of the time I am going over what I did in class, what I want to do for the next class, and how I can do better at teaching.

I read for about three hours a day. I read blogs and novels.

I spend about one hour a day grading papers.

I spend another half an hour cleaning the house and doing laundry.

I spend about ten minutes getting my books ready for whichever school/class I’m going to and making sure I have what I need.

That’s eight and a half hours.

Today what did I do with the other time? The other five and a half hours?

I loaded the dishwasher. I made cookies which took about forty-five minutes. I watched the the One Month to Live video for half an hour. And we did the questions before and after, which probably took half an hour, including the bonus video. I drove my kids to drivers’ ed which was ten minutes. I talked to one of my sons for about fifteen minutes. I picked up the bathroom, about five minutes. I took a shower and got dressed, about twenty minutes. I took a twenty minute walk with R. That’s another two hours and fifty-five minutes.

What did I do with the other three hours?

I ate, went to the bathroom, straightened the kitchen and the dining room. I wrote a blog post. I went to the grocery store. That took about an hour. I made the bed and hang up my coat three times, plus I got it out of the closet three times. I took some books up to the teen room and moved stuff around in there. I came up with a small basket to use for laundry in the laundry room. I helped Elijah clean the kitchen and got the garbage ready to go out.

But I’m not sure what the last hour to hour and half went to.

So far

in the One Month to Live challenge, my husband has said I am not ambitious and neither are our kids and they got it from me; that we are shallow; and that I am content with the status quo. He also said I approached the book like a Hatfield approaching a McCoy.

Here’s the deal. I am doing what I think I ought to be doing right now, except exercising some. I am not doing anything I don’t think I should be doing, except eating too much. And I don’t like that my being content with my life, that my doing the things I want to be doing, that my enjoying my life makes my husband look down on me.

Do I think my life is perfect? No. I have more doubts about God than I would like to have at this point. I’m thirty pounds overweight. I’m allergic to my favorite foods. I am teaching at three different schools. One of my sons is an atheist.

But my life is GREAT. I have a wonderful husband who loves me and puts up with me. I have two brilliant sons who love me. My parents are alive. My family is comfortable financially. We’re almost to the point where we don’t owe any money. I’m planning on going to North Carolina this summer and I know I can without breaking the bank. I have a nephew and two nieces who think Aunt Suzi is the best thing on the planet. I like my life.

I am not overscheduled. I don’t have too many things that aren’t related to my mission going on.

The only thing I really don’t like about my life is that I have no friends in a place we have lived for seven years. That stinks.

Other than that, I like my life.

I understand R’s situation. He’s done the same job for six years and he doesn’t like it anymore. It is not a challenge. So he wants to do something else, but he makes too much money to get a different job. He’s interviewed for two and they both turned him down for too much experience (money).

He wants to do something totally new and different. I understand that. I don’t, however. I am happy with where I am and most of what I am doing.

My husband

holds me to get to sleep
and holds me as he’s waking up.

laughs at my jokes
and listens to my rantings.

reads my blog posts
and comments too.

has been true for twenty years.
works hard to make good money so I can stay home with the kids.
wrote me letters while we were dating.
bought me flowers yesterday.

Thank you, honey. Happy Valentine’s Day.


Definition: a cherished desire; “his ambition is to own his own business;” a strong drive for success

My cherished desires have been:
go to college
teach school
teach middle school
teach college
be a missionary
go overseas
learn a foreign language
get a PhD
Somewhere along the way I added get married and have children.

I’ve done all those things. My husband is concerned that I have no future ambitions. I am happy with my life as it is.

If I could, I would:

learn to dance (so there, R, you have to do it with me)

go on an archaeological dig, preferably somewhere where it is not too hot. Maybe we could all go.

do a walking tour of the British Isles.

Hike the Appalachians. (I’ve wanted to do that for years.)

visit Australia and New Zealand.

finish my books and get them published. (I’m not sure I really want this to happen, but it would be nice if it did.)

get a full-time job teaching college.

Those are all things I want to do, but I am not sure R would think they were ambitions.