A New Song

The kids and I are working on a new CD – “A Family That Praise Together”.  We haven’t gotten too far into the album, but we DID get one song down!  It drove Deana a little crazy as the kids were singing “do do’s” all week!  But it was awesome fun!

The song is “Jesus is Just Alright”, a cover of the classic Doobie Brothers song.  While I am NOT the guitar player they were, it was fun recording with the kids.  Josh, Zack, and Sophia make up the vocals.  Check it out here.

Blessings Abound

So, as often is the case with us stubborn and inadequate humans, we focus on the wrong things.  Our finances, our aches and pains, conflicts in our lives…..the list goes on.  Too often, we are so focused on these things, we lose sight of the beauty and miracles that surround us!  I fall within this area quite often.  So, today, I am taking the time to focus on all that God has done for me and mine………

  • I HAVE mentioned this before, but I will state it again – my current job was a direct answer to prayer.  It was miraculous how the timing was perfect, and I love it.  No amount of time goes by that doesn’t remind me how amazing God is when I consider this.
  • God provided a means to allow me, the kids, and Deana to have our current home.  This was a HUGE miracle and believe me when I say, if it weren’t for direct blessings from the Lord, it would not have happened.
  • Kirstie was laid off from CVS in April.  She also needed to find a new place to live.  She has no immediate family in California with her.  But we prayed and God’s response was better than ANYTHING we could have believed.  Kirstie found a new apartment, then received a call from a different CVS offering her a job.  And said job?  RIGHT next to her new apartment!  Walking distance!  And even more than that, her first week she got 40 hours!  THAT never happened at her other CVS!  Thank you Lord!
  • Deana finished her teaching credential program and is now certified to teach in Texas.  That is a HUGE blessing and a wonderful accomplishment.  Now, we are asking the Lord to provide the perfect job, JUST in time when her unemployment benefits expire!
  • We, as a family, have been blessed by our new church.  In the short time we’ve attended, we have received amazing friendships.  Further, we have all been fed spiritually, which has girded us up for the trials we have had to face in recent weeks.
  • One day this week, while I was driving to work, I was contemplating the issues with my health, the impact all my hospital bills were having on my budget, and such items.  Usually, these thoughts would create great anxiety in me and it would affect every aspect of my life.  And, not to minimize the concern – it definitely is there.  However, it hit me that I felt complete peace.  COMPLETE!  And that seemed remarkable to me.  And I attest that this can only be attributed to my God.

The list goes on and on, but suffice it to say, God is Good, all the time!

Recap of Fantastic

“Fantastic” – an interesting word.  Merriam-Webster has three definitions for the word:

1 a : based on fantasy : not real b : conceived or seemingly conceived by unrestrained fancy c : so extreme as to challenge belief : unbelievable; broadly : exceedingly large or great
2 : marked by extravagant fantasy or extreme individuality : eccentric
3 fantastic : excellent, superlative <a fantastic meal>

This WAS NOT a fantasy weekend – that would have included sunflower seeds, some wine and/or alcohol, more time with my family, and maybe even an ocean.  And, honestly, Justin Timberlake did NOT cross my mind.  So, one is out.

There WAS NOT lots of extravagance this weekend; I worked most of Saturday (alas, in my pajamas!), was lazy, waited for Deana to finish the last class of her teaching program, and ate in my comfy chair.  So, two is out.

Yet, even with no fantasy or extravagant influences, my weekend WAS excellent, superlative in that it surpassed other (especially most recent) weekends in my history.  And perhaps you will think it is a bit silly, but here is why:

  • I was surrounded by family for MOST of the weekend.  That included celebrating Michael’s 21st birthday on Saturday, adding my church family on Sunday, and including my extended family known as the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.  (Too bad the last didn’t include a win!)
  • My dog follows me all around, no matter what.  Not that THIS is anything new, but this weekend it just touched my heart.  She was especially attentive.
  • My church family is AMAZING!  We had a beautiful service and the kids even recited their memorized Bible verse in front of the entire church!  I was a proud mama!  Then we spent several hours fellow-shipping over lunch which was wonderful.
  • Apparently, Kenny made the All Stars on his baseball team!  That kind of rocks.
  • Although I had a few moments of pain on Sunday that made me nervous, and the bouts of fatigue I still experience on occasion, this weekend was a pretty “healthy” weekend!  Woohoo!
  • I always like when my Dad calls, which he did.

So, this might not define fantastic to you, but it sure does for me!

Gina OUT!

Learn from Me! End of Monday Humor

So, last Friday I had “a day”…..that ultimately led to another trip to the hospital.  And, as a 42-year-old, I had several perceptions of things that proved to be COMPLETELY WRONG.  So, being the talented, gregarious, and giving person that I am (not to mention, extremely humble!) I thought I’d share my new-found info with you, too!

The Shattered Fallacies no longer held by Gina:

  • If a doctor tells you a procedure should not cause pain, bring the pain meds anyway – you never know when the procedure will kick something else into play!
  • If you tell your doc that you’re allergic to Demerol. always ask if the meds he has prescribed is derived from Demerol OR ELSE THE RESULTS MAY BE VERY UNPLEASANT FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.  (But it DOES help if you’re trying to get sympathy from the ER Nurse who has the power to administer pain meds.)
  • If you are ever in pain and you think, “hey, it will be too hard to drive to the hospital – I will call 911 and then the paramedics can give me pain meds, STAT!”, don’t bother.  They DO NOT give you pain meds!  Even if you beg.  Even if you cry.  Even if you warn them that you’re Italian and THIS CLOSE to kicking some paramedic butt!
  • If you are ever in pain and you think, “hey,I can’t drive fast and through red lights – I will call 911 and then the paramedics will turn on their sirens and get me there, STAT!”, don’t bother.  They DO NOT turn on the sirens, or drive through red lights, unless you are dying.  And excruciating pain does NOT constitute dying.  Note to self – the Italian threats are not very effective.
  • If you are ever in pain and you think, “hey, I have heard paramedics and firemen are totally hot – I will call 911 and at the very least I will see some amazing eye candy!”, don’t bother.  At least for me, every one of the paramedics were, let’s say, “robust”.  No eye candy.  Seriously!  Not even a hint.  And, quite frankly, I think they just had Mongolian for lunch because, truth be told, every one of them had BAD halitosis!

Some things I appreciate learning:

  • Paramedics are TALKATIVE during the long, slow, mellow ride.  But they DO react well to, “can we cut the chit chat?!?!!?!”
  • They are also very receptive to, “Honestly, to me, pain level of 10 means I have to concentrate, so I can’t really talk right now.”
  • Those breathing masks that cover your whole face?  They are very claustrophobic, but EXCELLENT at distracting you from your pain!  Nothing like panic to mask things!  I never thought I’d admit this, but anxiety is great therapy!
  • Morphine is, how shall I say, FREAKING AWESOME!  I think I have a crush.  Marry me, Morphine.

Okay, lame I know, but I am on drugs and all.  Gina OUT!

Maintaining Focus and Declaring Dependence

Life has shown me over and over again that it offers many things, and apparently trials are part of that offering.  We seek from life acceptance, success, health, benefits, money, love…….no one really asks for or wants trials.  No one wants to fail.  Not many, especially me, want to NEED.  And yet, when I DO find myself in the midst of a failure, or thrown about by trials, where is my focus?  On whom do I depend?

Too often, I am immersed in the trial, or the failure, and begin to think that they define me.  I even let the situation(s) overwhelm me.  This often leads to tears, or anger, or the rising of my pride in obstinate assault against the fact that I have failed.  And yet, soon follows the acceptance of the failure, defining me in yet another light.

But do you see something here?  Where has my focus been?  What am I depending on?  Right now, all that existed in the mix was ME.  Me, such a broken vessel, drowning in my own efforts, or submerged in the mire of the trial – not quite knowing what is up or down or if there is even an end in sight.  But, my dear friends, THAT IS NOT THE TRUTH – FOR ME OR FOR YOU!

As a Christian, I often hold onto the truth, and I have been humbly but clearly reminded today that the truth is not defined by my circumstances.  The truth is not designed around my health, or my accomplishments in my career, or even by epic failures that are sure to occur in my life.

And I must confess, as a Proud American, I often demand my independence.  It is foundational to our country, and the freedoms afforded Americans feed that – and I suppose rightly so!  We are blessed by these freedoms, yet they often feed us the lie that we are dependent on no one, except maybe ourselves.

Both the view of myself and the view of my independence is flawed.

The truth always has been and always will remain this – I am a child of God, created in His image.  I must focus on Him, and declare my dependence in all things to Jesus.  I am not in control, He is.  And no efforts on my part really change that – or can conquer anything that happens around me.  Nor do trials that surround me diminish the fact that Christ blesses me over and over again in small and huge ways everyday.  Even when I am sitting in the hospital, or raging in anger, or sleeping peacefully.  Even my successes don’t take the place of Jesus……what a novel idea!  And the truth is, I need to rejoice and focus on the REAL truth!

I was reminded something today –  I often take the Bible for granted, even though it is a big part of my life.  I received a Minor in college in Biblical Studies, and although I am not a theologian by any means, the Bible has had an intimate part in my life and education.  Yet, I often forget it is a LIVING THING.  It can and should influence my heart and remind me that Jesus has “got this covered”.  Here’s some of those messages:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:  “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39 (NIV)

Why my dependence should be on Jesus (emphasis mine)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV)

May I be reminded – and remind you as well – when the winds of problems surround me, I am NOT in control, but instead depend on my Lord.  HE will not leave me nor forsake me.  I may have trials, yes, but I can and will rejoice in the fact that He is my Truth.  I am His.  He has me in His arms.  And though I might have scapes or pains or frustrations, He is right there with me.  And the blessing of not only KNOWING that but BELIEVING that, is amazing on my focus!

And, in closing, this truth also remains – even when I am deep in my own focus on suffering or self-pity, God is faithful.  For He supplies those who pray in my stead, lifting their voices to Him when I can’t, and intercede in my behalf.  If that isn’t amazing, I don’t know what is.  And look for more posts that reflect on how God has truly been blessing me, Deana, and the kids.  One such blessing has been our new church – Crossroads Community.  Thank you Lord!

Baylor Regional Medical Center – Take Two

So, yeah, back here again.  Not the ulcer this time – apparently I have colitis!  But let me not bore you with those muddy details, I really need to brag on this hospital once more.  And let me say, I have my computer with my this time, so this is fresh, written right from my hospital room!

I cannot truly express in words how really awesome the staff is here.  EVERYONE I interact with seems to love their job, or at least communicate in a meaningful way that they enjoy serving me or my needs.  I am not exaggerating.  And, amazingly, the nurses often seem more like friends then, I don’t know, nurses.  Special shout out to Robin on the 5th Floor – you rock!  (Not to diminish the efforts of or my interactions with my other nurses, who truly rocked too, but Robin IS left handed AND was born the same year as me!  :))  “Holla!”

Also, special shout out to Housekeeper Antonia R – we had such a pleasant conversation today as she was nice enough to clean my room.  I know she was “just doing her job”, but in doing so she was pleasant, shared stories of her life, her time in Georgia, California, Texas, and her home country of Mexico – I have to say, I truly feel blessed by our interaction.  My life was improved by our interaction.  That may seem silly, but it’s true.  Again, more than I can really put into meaningful words here.

But the amazement doesn’t end there.  I seem to be more awake this trip to Baylor, so I can better explain how non-hospital like this place is.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I have a hospital bed (the mattress ain’t bad), I have IVs in my arm, there is a pitcher of water, etc.  That part is very hospital-like.  But really, that’s where it ends.  You see, this room looks luxurious.  It has crown molding (not TOO fancy, but a nice touch), nice cabinetry, a very trendy looking sofa that pulls out to a bed (NOT like the kind your mama had!), a recliner, and a nice table.  Plenty of storage space (closet, drawers), and a safe for valuables just like Hilton.  And, let’s not drop the technology – I have my Mac here, using their free internet wifi, and that in itself is nothing to ignore!

But there is more!  I mentioned in my earlier post that food here is ordered like room service.  I have not eaten yet this go around  (you know, the whole “liquid only” drill), but I just can’t ignore this is a fascinating change from what I am accustomed to.  And my educational background also suggests it’s a great business plan; not only are patients served what they really want, when they want it, but it also saves the hospital from producing food that is wasted.  Or, having people deliver food a set times that may not even be needed/wanted/allowed.  I don’t really have the metrics or stats to prove this, but in theory it seems like a brilliant way to do things!  And as a patient, I personally love it!

More services – the concierge desk.  I had a bit of “drama” last night, which made me think I didn’t want just anyone coming here, asking where I was, and visiting me.  You know what?  Robin (awesome, left-handed and very youthful nurse!) said, “Well, I will tell the Concierge to not give out your name!”  What?!?!  That is totally cool.

But it doesn’t stop there.  Deana spent the night the last time – a fact that totally amazed me.  It was no big deal and the staff rocked.  However, this time Deana could not spend the night due to other commitments.  She WAS able to stay until about 11pm with no fuss, another thing I appreciated.  But then, she shared that she was nervous about walking to her car alone, so late at night.  She asked Robin if there might be a security guard that could escort her to her car – right away, Robin called security and arranged someone to DRIVE Deana to her car!

Tell me, is that not 5 Star Service across the board?  I say it is.

I have no other Texas hospitals to compare Baylor to, but to me, this is the place to be.  Not that I especially WANT to be in the hospital, but since I am, this is the place to be!

What I Learned on Memorial Day Weekend 2010

Here are some quick lessons I learned this past weekend:

  • Relationships can have (really!) bad days, but love holds it together for the long haul
  • Texas spring heat can kick your butt, and yet it’s “only the beginning!”
  • Short hair IS much cooler!  AND, easier to get ready!
  • Children have a way of making you smile, deep in your heart, like nothing else
  • Just a tiny bit of throw up can close a huge pool down for the rest of the day
  • God answers prayers, even the ones you hope for yet are too stupid to ask for verbally
  • Being a workaholic is way, way overrated.  Taking a weekend off FOR REALS is very cool!
  • Just because you’ve been a baseball coach for years does NOT mean you know how to deal with kids, have integrity, or are a good role model
  • Just when you think your designation of someone being a psychopath was perhaps a bit harsh, the truth comes out, clearly showing your exposure to that fact was “just the beginning”.
  • If you don’t like our President, it’s easy to find ways to bitch about him.  But that’s okay, because Freedom of Speech is more important than respect.  And I am NOT being sarcastic.
  • While criticism of said President is okay, I wonder how many people who are upset about his lack of honoring the unknown soldier actually physically did something beneficial to anyone in the armed forces this past year?  It made me realize I haven’t.  I am just blustering with words.  I need to change that.
  • Debating for the sake of the debate does nothing to change hearts or minds.  And it certainly doesn’t help a recovering ulcer!
  • Losing weight actually rocks.  Doing it the right way (for me – by eating fresh food and eating smaller portions) – takes away the fact that I am “on a diet”, but has actually changed the way I want to live.
  • It’s an amazing feeling to meet two wonderful women, spend several hours with them and get to know them, only to realize later how very famous they are!  Their humble, accepting love for others and their God left no room for arrogance!
  • Going down memory lane fills places in the heart that still beat with love, while also reminds me that the loss will always remain.
  • I have been blessed to be part of two amazing lives, filled with honorable people, honorable bloodlines, and amazing history.  Thank you Mom and Dad.
  • I am very proud to be an American!