My Annual Suffering Inoculation

The summer after I turned 30 I was stung by a couple of yellow jackets. And ended up in the emergency room with full-blown anaphylaxis. After seven years of allergy shots my doctor decreed that my resistance was, “as good as it gets.” Turns out they don’t give you a card that says, “CURED.” So, “good” or not, I still get a little nervous when I’m stung. As I was last Wednesday. It was just one, grumpy spring wasp. But still. Several co-workers hovered, watching to make sure I wasn’t reacting (much appreciated!). I took my Benadryl, grabbed an ice pack for the sting, and waited the requisite 30 minutes–the likeliest window for a reaction. That is a LONG 30 minutes. And I joked about how I try to see getting stung as God’s way of keeping my allergy shots up-to-date. Because during those seven years of shots? I was getting shot-up with venom every six weeks. And apparently my schedule now is to get stung every 12-18 months. Which made me think about how we learn to stand strong in the face of suffering. It’s usually by suffering.  I’ll confess that my goal in life is most often to be comfortable. Happy is good, joyful is better, but I’ll take comfortable any day. And when I’ve been stung by a wasp I am NOT comfortable. My first reaction is to reassure myself that I’ll be fine (as I swallow […]

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Stepping Into Another Time

This past Saturday I had a chance to travel to the 1700s French & Indian War at Ft. Dobbs near Statesville, NC. Friends of mine are reenactors who planned to attend the War for Empire weekend with their Dragonfly Traders tent. Lorraine offered to outfit me. Well, YES. I’ve been to living history events before, but always as a visitor. […]

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Mustard Seed Faith – At Last!

For a long time now I’ve assumed, based on Matthew 17:20, that my faith is pretty pitiful. Not even a mustard seed’s worth. That scripture suggests that if my faith were as much as even a BB-sized seed, I could move mountains or cast mulberry bushes into the sea. And I can’t. Goodness knows I’ve tried. It’s long been a […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Weeeeeelllll

A friend and I were talking recently about our families–mostly the senior ladies in our Appalachian families–and how they can take a single word and communicate a wide range of meanings. The perfect example is the word, “well.” Depending on the accompanying tone and expression, “well” can express a variety of messages. Here are a few: Well. (Short, clipped, with lips pinched.) An expression of disdain suggesting that you can think that if you like but you’re completely wrong. Weeellll. (Smiling, drawn out, sly sideways look.) I know what you’re getting at you devil, you! Well. (Blank expression, flat tone.) I never would have thought it of you, but there you have it. Well-ell-ell. (Laughing with a jolly expression.) Aren’t you the cutest thing I’ve ever seen? Well. (Downcast eyes, soft voice, a little breathy.) I guess that’s all there is to say about that. I don’t suppose this is exclusive to natives of our mountain region, but it’s surely been perfected here. And it’s one of my frustrations in writing. It’s so hard to share the full range of meanings on the printed page. I often end up editing out a slew of “wells” that really don’t convey what I’m after without the finer nuances of body language. Which is frustrating. But oh well.

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Live Like You’re Dying

You’ve probably heard the advice to live like you’re dying . . . because you are. And it’s true, so far as it goes. We’re all going to die one day. One day. You know it, I know it, we all know it. Or do we? I have a friend who has a fatal illness. She’s already lived longer than the doctors thought she would. She IS living like she’s dying. And it isn’t necessarily what I imagine when I think about living as though my time here were short. I visited her recently and she made an observation that really stuck with me. It  was about how we say we’ll do things, “for the rest of our lives.” As in, “You’ll need to take this medicine for the rest of your life.” Or, “I’m going to wear this ring for the rest of my life.” Or, “I’m going to live here for the rest of my life.” Well sure. But that assumes the medicine will be helpful right up until the moment you take your last breath. Unfortunately, medicines stop working. It assumes that the ring will always fit and you’ll always want to wear it. Grandma gave me her engagement ring when she could no longer slide it over her arthritic knuckle. It assumes you’ll be able to live in the same place until the end. Which would put a lot of assisted living and nursing homes out of […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Country Roads

Reader and friend Frances Sniatecki tagged me on Facebook yesterday with the most amazing video featuring a medley of country songs with Take Me Home Country Roads (Almost Heaven, West Virginia) leading it off. Turns out this amazing song was recorded two years ago for the 50th anniversary of the Country Music Awards. Somehow I missed it. It brings tears to my eyes. Amazing performers, fabulous lyrics, and a reminder that I still miss John Denver. Check it out for yourself! This video includes a neat “making of” element. Enjoy!  

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