Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Time to Lose

One-hundred and eighty-three pounds. That's what I weigh. As a sixty-two year old woman, who has dedicated three and a half years of my life to diet and exercise, this must be the end of the world. I have gained twenty-three pounds. And I must admit that it did get me down for awhile. However, I have brought my diabetes under control. I am gardening, and I am back on the treadmill stronger than ever.

You see, along with my other medical problems, I suffer from cluster headaches. Often considered a man's disease, cluster headaches can bring a tough man to his knees. This tough woman was brought to near screams. Cluster headaches involve the main nerve in the face, called the trigeminial nerve (sometimes called the trigeminal migraine). From there liquid fire can travel to every nerve in the face, closing off the sinus on one side, and in my case included the head, the nose, the eye, and inner ear. The strangest thing about these migraines is the fact that they come on time, every day. You can set your watch. So, no matter how good you feel, when 8:40 p.m. comes around, watch out. It's like a little dirty trick. It is no mystery to me why this headache is often called the suicide headache. Sadly, there are those who have committed suicide. Not me. I got help.

Anything can trigger these headaches: smells, brushing your teeth, mouthwash, dust, and the list goes on. In my case, exercise also brought them on. I could not use my treadmill for six months. I had reached the point, where I could not wash a glass, wipe a counter, or wash my hair or face, without triggering pain so horrendous, it made me scream. It took about six months of medication, slowly increasing, for my headaches to come under control. I am now pain free.

My medicine has one unpleasant side effect, however. It has nearly shut down my metabolism. Hence the twenty-three pounds. However, stepping out of the pain corridor and into a normal life is a blessing, beyond compare. So, here I am in the middle of a conundrum - dreaded weight gain versus dreaded pain. I hate both. So, here is my strategy. No big deal. Exercise. Back onto the treadmill. One mile a day, at the very least. Every day, all over again.

Beginning again. It's not what I expected to have to do. Starting over. Back to the starting gate. Why me, Lord? The answer He gave me? Well, Jaye, you're so good at it. Who says the Lord doesn't have a sense of humor? So, I'm starting over. That's what God expects me to do. That's His plan, because I'm good at it And maybe there's someone out there who needs to know that starting over is a good thing.

Yesterday was a good day. In fact, it was a great day! Doing the gardening I love: hauling hoses, soaking trees, planting plants, a little nap in the afternoon, then back to the yard. Just plain getting dirty. That's my favorite thing in the whole world. I haven't been able to do this in over five years. Now I can. Thank you, God! You see, I'm starting over there, too.

So, here I go, doing what God says I do best. Rethinking my diet. Sticking to the treadmill. And praising the God who holds each breath in His hand for just one more day outdoors. You see, I realize now, that we can't often make the life that we planned; but we can, joyfully, love the life He has given us. And that's the best day anyone can have.

With love,


Saturday, May 12, 2007

A Time for Self-Reflection

Hello friends,

I have a friend in India, who writes me from time to time. She is bright, self-disclosing, and very kind. She, like I am, is a Christian, but oh the difference I find in my Indian brothers and sisters, than in my American brothers and sisters. When India has a call to prayer it is a powerful thing. They call for a transformation of the human spirit, while my American brothers and sisters often have a call for a larger gymnasium or a new wing to the Church. In fact, lets forget the wing. Why not simply build a bigger building, or raise a larger Cross? I do see an immersion in my country in material things, and, sadly, the American Church does not see how much they worship prosperity and pleasure.

Jesus said, "a time is coming when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth." I wonder what He thinks about America when He looks upon us? I doubt that He is amused or impressed.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day in America. My family will be spoiling me much more than I deserve. It is a very joyous time. How wonderful to be appreciated and celebrated. May I remember, as I accept the beautiful love of my family, that God gave me their love. May I remember the Mothers who will suffer, without celebration. Those who weep, undeserved, and those who are truly alone, may I celebrate them in my heart.

Come, Lord Jesus! While I am unworthy, I am believing, and I am surely ready.

With love,

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Time for Feasting

Hello friends,

After an early spring, and then a return to harsh winter, then back to almost summer, we still have devastated trees in our yard. Perhaps the most painful sight for me is my tall flowering pear, which I planted as a twig eight years ago. The white blossoms were breathtaking this year, then a sudden drop into winter blasted the little pears just as they began to appear. It looks dead, much like the fig tree that Jesus cursed, because it didn't bear fruit. (I've always felt sorry for that fig tree.) This was different, however, the trees bore too soon, and now they look like death.

Soon we will have rain, and the rain will replenish the earth. Renewal will come, as will new healthy leaves. There will be no fruit this year, making it harder on the birds of the air that visit my yard. All are welcome to my feeders and bird bath -- the beautiful as well as the unlovely. All are invited to the feast -- the starlings, the grackles, the cowbirds, and the crows, as well as the robins, the cardinals, the sparrows, the blue jays, the hummers, the blue birds, and the rose breasted grosbeaks. My yard does not discriminate, for each is precious to me.

Because of that sharp return to winter, natural foods in the wild are scarce, so we have been blessed with the loveliest of visitors. Yesterday, I had a close encounter with a pink-breasted house finch. No fear was in this little bird's heart. He saw that I hurried to fill the empty feeder, and he awaited me. Then he popped into the feeder, not three feet from me. I spoke to him, and he was not startled. Busy at his meal, he allowed me to clamor around in my effort to fill the next feeder, spilling seed, and dropping covers. It warmed my soul. He didn't stir, as I moved on to the bird bath, in fact he met me there. Even as I struggled with the water hose, he stayed and cocked his head at me.

"Would you like a cold shower?" I asked. He seemed to nod yes; so ever so lightly I turned on the spray, sprinkling the water. He dipped down to drink, so I moved the nozzle and gently sprayed over him. His wings flapped with pure joy, as he washed his feathers, then he flew to a nearby limb, so that I could empty and refill the humble bird bath.

That encounter was unasked for, yet freely given, and even now, it brings tears to my eyes. So, little birds, the unlovely with the lovely; come to my yard, one and all, and feast. Perhaps it is I who need you, more than you need me.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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