Friday, December 9, 2011

It Truly IS a Wonderful Life!

I LOVE fall, Thanksgiving and CHRISTMAS! My favorite movie of all time is Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" with James Stewart and Donna Reed. On the off-chance that anyone of you has not seen this movie, it's a heartwarming story that illustrates how our perspective and our priorities can use a little adjustment sometimes. Things don't always happen the way we expect them to happen. Our plans are not realized. Then, by the grace of God, we are allowed to see our true blessings in a different light! 

First, let me apologize - this post is a long and wordy, but there is a point to it. 

I should confess, I'm not a huge movie fan. I enjoy a good movie, but I usually see them on video. I rarely see a movie more than once. 

It's a Wonderful Life is the exception for me. I never get tired of watching this movie during the Christmas Season. It's a little sentimental. It's not full of amazing special effects. It doesn't have an award winning soundtrack. My kids get a little bored when I ask them to watch it with me. They play games on their I-phones or peruse Facebook while watching it with me. Often, I watch it alone, which is fine. 

This year, I have identified with my favorite movie in new ways. The past two weeks have not been the "usual" holiday season around my home. Let me explain a few things, using the movie to help illustrate!

Identifying with Mary Bailey

Like Mary, I like old homes. I bought a fixer-upper on purpose. I enjoy the process, and I like making things nice for my family. I've done plenty of painting and projects during the past 8 years. Some of them were in need of a little freshening up! 2011 was the year to begin. Instead of doing one room at a time, I wanted to do everything! My tastes are evolving, and nothing suited me anymore. Looking back, it wasn't the best way to proceed, but they say hindsight is always 20/20. 

To begin with, my home is in the kind of disarray that comes with change, redecorating, painting, and revising. I've told you before, not ONE room in my house is finished or in a state I'd be proud to post, let alone host a holiday party for anyone but close family.  

I had worked to restore order to my construction mess, organize my "blog project" mess items, and to shop and plan for a lovely Thanksgiving dinner. 

I had cleared the construction materials out of my daughter's old room, along with the future garage sale items I've been stashing in there over the past year. My daughter arrived on Tuesday afternoon, and I made a nice dinner for her, Mason and myself. I was excited! We planned our usual recreational shopping activities and cooking for the next day. 

We went shopping on Wednesday, and I was tired when we got home. We decided to eat late, so I planned to get up early and brine my turkey instead of doing it overnight. I woke up feeling terrible with flu symptoms. 
When the kids got up, I broke the news to them, suggested some things they might cook for themselves, and uninvited the poor guest I had invited to join us for dinner. 

Identifying with ZuZu

I stayed on the sofa all day, listening to my children as they enjoyed spending time together, cooking some of their favorites: Ham, corn pudding, dressing (with turkey "borrowed" from sweet friends) sweet potato casserole. It was an edited version of the meal I had planned. They brought me a plate, and I ate it eagerly.

I didn't WANT to be sick with flu. I wanted to do the things I had planned - baking, decorating, hanging light fixtures, etc. I know, the light fixture thing is not the usual holiday activity, but it seemed like a good thing to get my kids help with!

My daughter ended up returning home early. I stayed on the sofa watching sappy Christmas movies on TV - the kind that focus on relationships and "saving Christmas" with Santa and all that stuff. Where was Jesus? Still, I watched, searching for whatever Christmas spirit I might find.

By Monday, I felt strong enough to return to work, though I still had a nasty cough. I felt pretty well on Wednesday, but Thursday found me on the sofa again after work. Friday morning, I forced myself into the shower and headed to work. I almost fainted while checking in. As the day progressed, I felt worse. I called Mason to bring me some Gatorade and meds. By the time he arrived, I asked him to drive me home. I almost fainted again checking out. My coworkers asked a nurse to check me out. She was there preparing for an Angel Tree party the next morning. She insisted I go to the Urgent Care clinic. Mason drove me there, and they discovered I had pneumonia. I received a heavy-duty antibiotic shot and a steroid shot, and went home to rest.

By Monday, my cough had gotten better, but I still felt weak. I stayed home from work. I was hungry so I went to the kitchen to get a bottle of water and put a potato in the microwave. Before I could get the potato, I fainted. 

Mason was getting ready for work. He came in and picked me up off the floor. I leaned against the counter and fainted again. He called the ambulance, and they came to take me to the hospital. It was snowing, and the high temperature was 10 degrees. 

When we arrived at the ER, they ran tests and found my hemoglobin was 4.4 - alarmingly low. Normal is 12-15. The lowest it has been before is about 7. 

The reason I was fainting was so blood could flow to my brain while I was horizontal! I was transfused, receiving 3 units of blood, and tested to determine the cause of the blood loss. Most often, the cause for long term, slow blood loss that results in low hemoglobin is something in the gastrointestinal tract - an ulcer, a polyp in the colon or something else. Mine was due to a hiatal hernia, which causes my stomach to bleed. I've had trouble before, but this one caught me by surprise. I'm usually a very healthy person and the anemia is the only thing I have to deal with on an ongoing basis. 

Appreciating the Clarence-types in My Life

The Bible tells us God sends his angels to watch over us. I had many - both heavenly and earthly ones!
  • Many prayers had been going up on my behalf. Thank all of you who prayed for me!
  • My family had been praying for me and checking on me. 
  • My co-workers had been lifting me up in prayer. (It's good to work at a church!)
  • God placed a nurse just outside the room where I almost fainted. She insisted I go to Urgent Care. Even though they didn't find out the main problem, the meds helped.
  • Mason was still at home when I fainted. Five more minutes, and he would've been at work. He called the ambulance in spite of my rejections. (Sometimes it's good to disobey your mother!)

Identifying with George Bailey

Clarence gave George Bailey an opportunity to see what life would be like if he had never been born. By the end of the experience, George wanted nothing more than he already had - his wonderful life. His priorities had been re-ordered. His attitude had changed. 

Like George Bailey, I have been given a gift! I have felt surrounded by so much love and support; my parents, my children, my co-workers, my friends. Some of you I know only through blogging, but you are dear to me. Others I have known since infancy. Some of you I relate with through electronic media. Others I see on a daily basis. Some of you are neighbors. Others live far away. But, I have felt your love and known the uplifting peace provided to me through your prayers.

  • My parents came to take me home from the hospital. 
  • Mason spent time cleaning while I was not able to do it.
  • My daughter Hannah is with me now, cooking, cleaning and spoiling me rotten!
  • My co-workers have brought delicious meals and have called to check on me. 
  • Family, friends and neighbors have called, texted made me aware of their love and concern for me.

This Christmas season will not be the most "blog-worthy" in some ways. This Christmas is about the most real thing I know - LOVE. It is about the love of our Father in Heaven for us, and His plans for us. It is about the love of family. It is about the love of friends and neighbors, and the community we all share when we care for each other. 

I have been the blessed recipient of all that love, and it is humbling and heart-warming. Like George Bailey, I feel like the RICHEST WOMAN IN TOWN!

Word for the Day:

Psalm 91:11
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;

May you be aware of all the angels around you today and during this Christmas Season!