Signs of Spring – Really!

gh-sleeeping

The first signs of Spring are found in the month of February. Surprise!!! February 2nd is Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil [famous groundhog from Punxsutawney, PA] is rudely aroused from his sleep and forcibly dragged out of his den and flung around in circles, in order to see if he can see his shadow. If Phil does not see his shadow, the last half of Winter will be shorter than six weeks. If Phil does see his shadow there will be six or more weeks of Winter. [With all the bright lights and flashing cameras, I can’t see how Phil could ever miss seeing his shadow.] No matter how many weeks of Winter are left, at least we can anticipate that Spring is just around the corner. [The cute little groundhog pictured above is not the famous Punxsutawney Phil, but groundhog “Anonymous.” This groundhog will awaken from its hibernation whenever it wants, without any fanfare or frivolity or blinding lights. I have a feeling this groundhog prefers it this way.] Groundhog Day does not use any scientific method. It’s just a good opportunity for the anticipation of the coming Spring.

super-bowl-parade

While Pennsylvania has Punxsutawney Phil, true NEW ENGLAND SPORTS FANS have the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS! On February 5th we had the awesome privilege of watching Super Bowl LI, the most exciting Super Bowl ever played in its history! Personally, I was in the “SHOCK ‘N AWE! The PATS made the most incomprehensible comeback in Super Bowl history by destroying a 25 point deficit. They were behind until the last four minutes of the game, when tied the game and and went to overtime; another Super Bowl first. The NE PATRIOTS WON SUPER BOWL LI, over the Atlanta Falcons, with the score of 34 to 28, making Tom Brady the winningest QB in SB history and Bill Belichick tied with Vince Lombardi, both having won FIVE SUPER BOWLS. When SB LI was over, I just couldn’t believe what I just witnessed on live TV. I had to watch NFL NETWORK’S replay of the game [which I DVR-ed] 3 times before it began to sink in. The Duck Boat Parade, held in Boston, on February 7th finally convinced me that it was true; I wasn’t dreaming. The NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS WERE SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS FOR THE FIFTH TIME IN THIS SHORT CENTURY!!! If football had to end, this was the best ending of the football season ever! It’s time to look ahead toward Spring. The game also taught me a lesson: NEVER EVER GIVE UP! 

truck-day

The day after the Duck Boat Parade, February 8th, TRUCK DAY was celebrated by RED SOX NATION. On TRUCK DAY the RED SOX equipment truck is packed up and begins its long journey to the Spring Training Facility [Jet Blue Park], in Fort Meyers, Florida. The truck arrives at its destination three or four days later. Pitchers and catchers arrive on February 13th, position players arrive on February 17th and the first Spring Training game is on the February 25th. Spring Training Baseball will be played almost every day from February 25th through the month of March. OPENING DAY [April 3rd] will be here before we know it! Truck Day is the time when the FENWAY FAITHFUL start their count down to Spring. You might say, “Truck Day gets the BALL ROLLING!”

jet-blue-park

Now, I know there other important dates in February – Lincoln’s Birthday on Feb. 12th and Washington’s Birthday on Feb. 22nd [Both birthdays are celebrated on Feb. 20th.] and there is also Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14th. These are all notable dates to acknowledge and celebrate. However, they do not help me to think of Spring as does the end of football and the start of Baseball’s Spring Training. This is how I look at life. What helps you think Spring?

There is something else I am waiting for.

I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid before me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” [II Timothy 4:7-8].  

“PLAY BALL!”

Lydia

Wake Me Up When It’s OVER!

hiberating-bear

What do skunks and snakes, bees and bats, turtles and groundhogs all have in common? Along with bears, these are some of the animals that hibernate during the winter months. Sometimes, I wish I could join them and sleep through the winter months and wake up to springtime and flowers. Wouldn’t it be delightful to curl up in a soft warm blanket; on a comfy, luxurious, king-size bed; surrounded with fluffy yet firm pillows; and sleep away the dark and damp and gloomy and frigid months of winter? [To be honest, hibernating for the next four years would be “fantastic” as well.]

days numbered

This winter, many of my dear family, friends and I are entering the “Winter years” of our lives. We are all getting older. A telling sign of growing past middle age is when the “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercial is no longer funny. This is because it could happen to us. Aging also bring many serious medical conditions. For example, very special people in my family and in my church are facing difficult times – cancer, heart problems, respiratory problems, diabetes, depression, back surgery, failing knees and other joint distress from arthritis. Thankfully, not everyone will encounter these serious conditions as they grow older but, almost everyone who lives long enough will experience other signs of aging – deteriorating eyesight and hearing, body aches [arthritis], trouble with moving around, memory and recall and concentration problems, insomnia, digestive difficulties. The list goes on.

Behold God

As far as my own aging goes, the process is going at a faster pace for me due to my cerebral palsy. I say this because I thought I would be dealing with the signs of aging in my seventies and not in my fifties and sixties. In my early sixties I am in a wheelchair and need help with most of my daily needs. No longer being able to walk took a toll on me. I loved being able to walk all over Northampton. I loved being able to shower and get dressed and go to wherever I wanted go whenever I wanted to go. I loved cooking and grilling simple gourmet food. I enjoyed helping people in a tangible ways. It seemed like all the activities I enjoyed were being taken away from me one by one. I wasn’t sure if I could live this “ new way life.” It has taken a long time, but I am growing to accept my limitations with the help of many people.

hope

Before my blog post sounds hopeless [like the last inaugural address], I want to assure you there is HOPE. My hope is in God. When I am angry at God, He has unconditional love for me. When I question His existence, He holds me tight. When I need medical help, He puts the right people in my path. God is always on my side. God will help me through my struggles. No matter what my limitations are, God has a job for me to do. God wants me to pray for those who are struggling with medical conditions and other serious problems. God wants me to show His kindness and patience and speak encouraging words to my helpers. My goal is to be a good example of Jesus’ compassion, mercy and love. God wants me to ask for and gratefully accept His forgiveness when I fail. God wants me to also forgive others and humbly ask others to forgive me.

God is worthy of my trust. We can trust each winter will end and give way to SPRING. God will also turn the “winter of our days” into something beautiful and everlasting.

For Lo, the winter is past,

the rain is over and gone;

the flowers appear on the earth;

the time of the singing birds

is come.”

Song of Solomon 2:11-12

tulips

What I want for Christmas…Or Not

santa_list

Have you made your Christmas Wish List yet? You better hurry. You haven’t much time to drop hints to the Santas in your life. While watching the commercials on TV, many Christmas present possibilities are bombarding us right before our eyes; from a stuffed hippopotamus to a shiny red sports car, from fragrant perfume to manly musk, from Duluth’s Buck Naked Underwear to Victoria Secret Lingerie, from “two front teeth” to luscious gourmet chocolates, and there are Gift Cards for everything and every place imaginable. A Christmas Wish List may go on and on, if you take every TV commercial to heart with our desire to possess the bestess and latest stuff.

christmas-gifts

As I was thinking of Christmas and all the hustle, bustle and hassle this “Holy Season” brings to people searching for the right gifts for others and wishing for the gifts they want for themselves, I remembered the Christmas list below. This prayer made a special impact on my soul when I heard it long ago. Somehow, it got lost in the shuffle of life. My prayer this Christmas and New Year is to again keep these profound truths close to my heart and live them out in my life by God’s grace.

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There is One Gift which can be easily forgotten at Christmas, and that Gift is what Christmas is all about.

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“Thanks be to God for His Inexpressible Gift!” [II Corinthians 9:15]

Wishing you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS and a PEACEFUL NEW YEAR!

“God bless us every one!

Lydia

Thanksgiving Leftovers

leftovers


Thanksgiving has been over for awhile, as well as the eating of leftovers. When I think of leftovers, I think of food – turkey sandwiches made on rolls with turkey, stuffing, lettuce, tomato and cranberry sauce and other leftovers; turkey soup and turkey casserole. There are so many things that can be made with leftover turkey and all its fixings. There are side dishes, such as candied yams, roasted carrots, green bean casserole and mac ‘n cheese to name a few. And don’t forget all the pies – pumpkin [my favorite Thanksgiving pie], apple, sweet potato, banana cream, coconut custard, chocolate cream, and list goes on. All this delicious Thanksgiving food can be eaten more than once, twice, and even three or four times. But, eventually, Thanksgiving leftovers can become too much of a good thing. After several days of consuming these leftovers, all I want is a nice Porter House steak [and a piece of pumpkin pie, if there’s any left].

 

turkey-sandwichBesides food, there are other kinds of Thanksgiving leftovers that will never get finished. Sometime during the Thanksgiving meal, some families go around the Thanksgiving table to share what each one is thankful for. Hopefully, this “tradition” of giving thanks awakens the appetite of giving thanks for all the blessings each has received throughout the year. Giving thanks and having an “attitude of gratitude” may be verbalized on Thanksgiving Day, but that’s only the beginning. Having thankful hearts is what we need to cultivate everyday of the year. I want to be thankful for the people in my life, the food on my table, a comfortable place to live and all the blessings of the past and present, which helps me have hope for the future.

gatitude3

Being thankful is not always easy, especially when loved ones are hurting with health issues or all sorts of struggles of everyday life. Being thankful is not easy when I encounter struggles of my own. Being thankful requires hard work. It’s so much easier to be overwhelmed with our struggles than to have an “attitude of gratitude” and thanks. There are times when being thankful is almost impossible to do on my own. I need help from the Lord and from the people who care about me.

give thanks

This Thanksgiving and each day after, I have been giving thanks for the people who have touched my life, past and present, and played a special part in helping me to grow during my struggles. I have a feeling this new “tradition” or way of life will never end because there will always be leftovers of people to be thankful for in the days to come. When I think of others and thank the Lord for them, this gives me a break from only thinking about me, and my struggles do not seem so overwhelming. Do you have any Giving Thanks leftovers?

I thank God in all my remembrance of you…” [Philippians 1:3a]

cHRISTIAN BLOGGER WOMAN

Lydia

P.S. This blog post may seem a bit late, because at the time of this writing we are in the middle of the Advent Season. I’ll blame it on the tryptophan. Let’s see; what to have for Christmas dinner? Turkey!

A WIN-WIN SITUATION

WS BANNER ONE

At the risk of being mistaken for Captain Obvious, the RED SOX did not make it to the World Series this year [2016]. I was talking with a fellow RED SOX fan the other day, and he told me that his beloved RED SOX broke his heart yet again. Strangely enough, I did not feel that way. In 2004, the SOX broke an 86-year-old drought. After losing the ultimate prize year after year, my beloved RED SOX finally won the World Series Championship in dramatic fashion. They were also crowned World Series Champs in 2007 and 2013. These historic events, which are forever captured in the history books, forever changed the way I look at baseball.

balloons and confetti

After the heartache of watching the RED SOX lose year after year, my heart was overjoyed to FINALLY experience seeing the RED SOX make history and win their FIRST World Series Championship, and then TWO MORE in my lifetime. I am very thankful for these three WS Championships, AT LAST! Because the Boston RED SOX won three World Series Championships in my lifetime [I am very thankful that they did] my angst and heartache are gone. I am now able to enjoy watching other teams playing in the “Fall Classic” and root for the underdog to break their own “curse” of not winning year after year.

a lesson on waiting

Whenever a baseball game is played, history breaks out right before my eyes. The 2016 World Series indeed made history in breaking a longtime “curse.” The teams that made it to the 2016 Fall Classic were the American League Cleveland Indians and the National League Chicago Cubs. Both teams were worthy of my fandom. The last time the Indians won it all was 1945. The Cubs won their last World Series in 1908. I had a hard time choosing who to root for. It is true that the Cubs had the longest WS drought, but I liked the Indians’ manager Terry Francona, who previously was the RED SOX manager [2004 to 2008]. I also liked previous RED SOX players now on the Indians – Coco Crisp, Mike Napoli, Andrew Miller. However, the Cubs also had their share of ex-RED SOX on their team – Theo Epstein [General Manager], John Lester, John Lackey, David Ross. It was almost as if [but not quite] the RED SOX were playing the RED SOX. It was a Win-Win Situation for me. This never happened to me before. I found myself in a very peculiar baseball situation. Liking both teams was actually fun. It helped me to enjoy the baseball games more by stressing out a little bit less.

oregon 036

To be honest, I did favor the cubs to win it all. They had the longest World Series drought in baseball history. But, I wouldn’t mind the Indians winning it all either. By now, everyone knows that THE CUBS WON! THE CUBS WON! THE CUBS WON! It was an exciting series to watch. It was also something I could relate to with the Cubs’ fans. I could empathize with the elation and relief they felt, after the last out was made in the seventh game, because I went through the same kind of emotions when the RED SOX won their Championships. The Chicago CUBS were no longer baseball’s annual “Lovable Losers!” Seeing the Cubs win the World Series Championship gives hope to other baseball teams, like the Indians, that they will someday win the Ultimate Prize that has eluded them for so long. I do hope the RED SOX will win the World Series Championship again, but I’m not so much in a hurry as I was in 2004.

give thanks

Baseball often teaches me lessons for real life. The RED SOX winning three World Series Champions in my lifetime teaches me to be thankful for the blessings I already have. The Chicago Cubs winning their first World Series Championship, after a 108-year drought, as well as the Cleveland Indians losing for the 71st time in a row, teaches me to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” [Romans12:15] because I know how it feels to lose over and over again and I know how it feels to FINALLY win.

My Thanksgiving prayer is for us all, individually and as a nation, to “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own eyes. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” [Romans 12:16-17]. I did learn these things by watching baseball [NOT the 2016 election]. *“Nuf Ced

Happy Thanksgiving!

WS AT CHURCH

Lydia


*“Nuf Ced”:
Acording to the book “101 Reasons to Love the RED SOX and 10 Reasons to Hate the Yankees” by David Green, Michael T. McGreevey [1865 to 1934] “was a local tavern owner and leader of the early Red Sox’ most loyal and vocal band of supporters. Presiding over the baseball-obsessed denizens of his Roxbury tavern known as ‘3rd Base’ because it was ‘the last stop before home,’ he declared an end to many a boisterous argument by slamming his fist onto the bar and announcing ‘nuf ced.’ His Royal Rooters followed the American League’s Boston franchise with passion and devotion, often parading to the ballpark behind a band and singing vociferously during games.”

When Losing is Winning

[This is a continuation to my last post, “It’s Been Awhile”]

serenity-prayer

[Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)]

 Dear Blog Readers,

An utterly bizarre and atypical sequence of events happened in the world of baseball on September 28, 2016. On that night, and almost at the same time, the RED SOX LOST to the Yankees, at Yankee Stadium, and they WON the American League Eastern Division Championship! How on earth did the RED SOX lose and win at the same time? This is how it went down: In order to win the East Championship 1. the RED SOX had to beat the Yankees or 2. the Orioles had to beat the Blue Jays and put them out of contention for first place. The Jays would still have a chance to win the Wild Card which they did]. There are other scenarios, but I won’t go there. I’ll just say, the Orioles helped the RED SOX WIN the Division, though the Orioles did not want to help the RED SOX, by beating the Blue Jays. This unusual moment in baseball history is truly one for the record books.

At first, the SOX players didn’t know what to think or do. How could they celebrate when they lost to their “favorite” nemesis in such a heart-wrenching way: It was the bottom of the ninth inning, the SOX were ahead 3 to 0, the bases were loaded with Yankees, Mark Teixeira was at the plate and he hit a walk-off GRAND SLAM and the RED SOX experienced a crushing 3 to 4 defeat at the hands of their longtime rivals. How can anybody celebrate after that?

papi-celibrating

Walking to the Visitors’ Clubhouse, the RED SOX players and coaches did not look at all like champs, with their “What-just-happened” dejected faces. The clubhouse was made ready for the Boston RED SOX to celebrate winning the division, with heavy plastic covering the walls [and everything else that needed protection], large bins of Champagne and beer on ice, championship caps and T-shirts to wear, and even goggles to protect their eyes. [The Champagne and beer sting the eyes when the players spray each other with them. I don’t mind the beer spraying, but Champagne? C’MON MAN!] How on earth could the Sox get into celebration-mode? Their manager, John Farrell, got everyone together and shared some wonderful words of wisdom. He said something like this: “Don’t let one inning ruin what we’ve accomplished and take away the fact that we are Division Champions.” That’s all Farrell’s team needed to hear to get into a partying mood. The Yankees’ Visitors’ Clubhouse will never be the same.

I have a saying: “BASEBALL IS LIFE IS BASEBALL!” I have learned many very important life lessons from the game of baseball. The lesson I am learning from the baseball game played on September 28th is NOT TO DWELL ON MY LOSSES, BUT TO BE THANKFUL FOR MY WINS: 1. my loving family and friends, 2. the abilities I still can do, 3. being able to live at home with my loving family, 4. my caring church family, 5. caring professionals who work with me to help me get better, as well as the medications that are helping, 6. that I’m growing stronger, 7. my ability to write and encourage others through my blog, 8 the encouragement I receive from the responses to my blog posts, 9. THE JOY OF WATCHING RED SOX IN THE POST SEASON!!!

“Not that I have already obtained this or am aready perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Jesus has made me His own” [Philippians 3:12

I also am learning NOT TO DWELL ON THE RECENT PAST AND MY STRUGGLES WITH DEPRESSION BY: 1. taking it one step at a time and one day at a time, 2. not stressing over the things I can’t control or aren’t that important, 3. enjoying the times I have with my family and friends, 4. being open to suggestions from those who care about me, 5. DOING MY EXERCISES AND EATING HEALTHY FOODS, 6. not being in a hurry when there’s no time limits [writing a blog post,] 7. helping those who help me in any way I can [not being in a rush, asking for help at the appropriate time and being sensitive to what the caregiver is doing and waiting until s/he is finished.], 8. Knowing when I can wait and when I can’t wait. 9. Not panicking when things do not go as planned.

Christian heelping another

From the last two paragraphs, I realize that there are many things I can still do to enjoy life and to help others. In a real sense no one person is independent. As human beings, we all have struggles. We all need God’s help and we all need help from each other. We are all interdependent in one way or another. We will keep losing our abilities as we grow older in one way or another, sooner than later. However, we also keep winning and need to focus on the abilities we still have to help ourselves and to help others. The paragraph above are the goals I am working on, by God’s grace and the help of my family and friends. This is a work in progress. There will be good days and bad days. There will be improvements and setbacks, wins and losses. With God’s help the bad days will not overpower the good days and the setbacks will not overshadow the accomplishments. It is very important not to be hard on myself. What I am praying for something like the Serenity Prayer. [See above]

And that’s my story. “’Nuf sed” [Google it.]

ON TO THE POST SEASON! GO SOX!

Trophy w Mom and Jane

[Me, My Sister Jane and our Mom Vicky who passed away in 2010 ]

cHRISTIAN BLOGGER WOMAN

Lydia

P.S. It is very important to understand that depression is an illness. When depression becomes clinical depression and is severe and takes over my life, no matter how many fine the goals I set, this is the time to seek medical help. No one [including myself] should feel guilty or ashamed of being severely depressed. What we should do instead is to recognize the symptoms and go to talk to professional who treats people with depression. Some of my warning signs are having no appetite, feeling like I’m in a cloud of despair and having little concentration or interest to do anything. When someone is being treated for depression, is doing okay for awhile, and suddenly has a relapse, s/he may need an adjustment to the medications s/he is taking. In my case, I needed more ECT treatments to get back on track. Go with a close friend or family member and ask your doctor about your options. There is help out there. It takes awhile to find it. Please do not give up.

God Sees Us as

Next post will be sent after the 2016 World Series.

It’s Been Awhile

cookie monster

Dear Blog Post Readers,

It’s been awhile since I have written a blog post for you all. I believe I need to tell you why. This last Summer has been a difficult one for me. I have been dealing with many medical issues which have been a source of anxiety, disappointment and discouragement. Depression once again raised its ugly head. After many doctor and counseling and physical therapy visits, and with the love of my family and friends, I am once again getting back to getting on with life. But, before I could get on with my life, I had to focus on my new physical limitations and how to face them and live with them. Before I could face them, I had to receive ten more ECT treatments, which did help my emotional state of mind. However, the treatments did a number on my short-term memory, finding the right words to express myself, my low stamina and short concentration span. In addition, I needed to find something to help my bowel and bladder control issues. I finished the ECT treatments about two months ago. I am now finally regaining all the things I had lost (listed above). Also, my doctor prescribed two medications that are helping with bowel and bladder control. Being able to write this blog post is a personal victory for me. I am once again a “Word Person” and a “Christian Woman Blogger”! Watching four-and-a-half-hour RED SOX/Yankee games must have played a part in improving my concentration and attention span.

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As for my current physical abilities, I am not able to do the things I have worked my whole life to achieve. Oftentimes, cerebral palsy speeds up the aging process because of years and years of doing things “the wrong way” or what I like to say “compensating or adjusting to the only way the cerebral palsy will allow. For example, after years and years of walking with an abnormal gait, ankles and knees and backs and many other parts wear out sooner than later. Some people may say, “We are all getting older.” But, I don’t see these same people sitting in wheelchairs or having to deal with poor fine motor skills when eating or typing or struggling to communicate with labored and slurred speech. I may sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself, but I really am not. I am only sharing what I am going through as a 61-year-old woman with cerebral palsy. The aging process may be more “complicated” for me and for many others who are challenged with disabilities and the other struggles of life. Saying, “We are all getting older” really does not help open up meaningful healing dialogue. What really helps is when someone is listening with compassion, understanding and empathy, and not with a judgmental, self-pious and superior attitude. It helps when listeners are able to imagine themselves in the other person’s wheelchair, braces, splinters, orthopedic shoes or “moccasins.” I have been blessed with people in my life who know how to listen. After validating my struggles as real, we can talk about how to get the help I need and what things I can do to help my situation. We can then move on to talk about our blessings, the RED SOX, the PATRIOTS, the BRUINS, CELTICS and other interests we have (H).

Lydia photo

Independence has been my life’s goal ever since I can remember. At a very early age I wanted to grow up to be a person who lives independently, who is treated with the same respect as others are treated and one who is able to help others with the respect and dignity they deserve as human beings. The happiest day of my life was the day I woke up one morning, at the age of nine and started to walk on my own. From that time on I grew stronger and my balance got better and better and my body grew less and less spastic. I did grow up to live independently from the time I entered college until I began to lose my physical abilities in my 50’s to the present time. I loved being on my own, going grocery shopping, walking to church, making my own meals, having friends over and going over to my friends. I loved being a deacon at my church and helping those in need. I did so many other things in my independence – I was involved with three Christian organizations (in New York, Pennsylvania, and the Boston area) who ministered with the disabled. I led Bible studies in my home (i.e. “Wine and the Word”, “Bread and the Bible”, “John’s Gospel”, “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, just to name a few). I went on road trips to wineries and Fenway and Camden Yards, and Pennsylvania to visit friends. I went on plane trips to California and Oregon and Hawaii and Cozemel and Equator. I cared for my parents, alongside my sister, during the last years of their lives. I did so many fun and fulfilling things during my independent years. I had a blast! Independence is a beautiful thing, especially when acknowledging one’s total dependence on God at the same time!

So, how does “Queen Independence” cope with her life that is now almost totally dependent on others for her “ACTIVITIES OF DAILY LIVING”? What have I learned this Summer that will help me get “on the road ahead?” I will share this in my next blog post in two weeks.

By His Grace, bridge of flowers back2

Lydia

P.S. I have shared very difficult and personal struggles in my life. I would rather have kept them private and secret. However, keeping them to myself would not help others who are dealing with the same kind of struggles. I want you to know that you are not alone. There is help. Please do not give up.