Friends, I have work to do today. Important work. I have been asked by a dear friend who used to live in Dothan, former beauty queen, and all that, to come to a church in Birmingham where she is on staff and talk to about 150 ladies at a dinner in their church. This takes place on Monday night and I had made plans to spend all day finishing up my talk….making notes….things like that.
Well, as I said, I intended to stay home all day. Now when I do that, I do not have any intention for the world to be looking at me or the way I am dressed. I get comfortable, ya know what I mean? So I had gotten comfortable and sat down at the computer, and waited to print out some notes. My printer just ‘PINGGED’ at me. I tried again. It PINGGED again. So I went over to speak to it directly and impress upon it the important work it had to do today to get me ready to leave tomorrow. We stood face to face, and then it handed me a note (on its screen)…**”You have no ink….none…not even a little bit. No black, no pink, yellow or blue. OUT OF INK!!!**
I knew the only thing to do is go and get some. Don tells me to go to ‘Wal Mart to get it…cheaper he says and he would surely know bout that. So, I put a little powder and lipstick on and run a brush through my hair and out the door I go.
I’ve found in the past few years that if I will just stop and make sure my brain is with me as I leave…along with my phone…I can avert some of my troubles. During this thinking time, sure enough, I remembered that I had no idea under the blazing sun what kind of ink to get. But I knew where to find out.
Now, I’m just not the best at keeping up with things…they tend to stray out of my eyesight and end up who knows where. They find a comfortable place and there they lay until I go on a rip and a tear and try to find them. Alex knows this. So he instituted a system that would help me and him when he was involved in trying to teach or show me something. He got one of those decorative boxes and told me it was sacred. I was never to throw it away. He said that I could not even move it. He put it down and it has stayed right there. All along he will put info in it, but I just leave it alone. The other day, I had to get it out and while he did something to my computer. I sorta flipped through it while he worked and noticed that the instruction manual to my printer was in there. So during my waiting and thinking time, I remembered where it was. I went back in the house and looked up the ink number and wrote it down. OOOOH, I am sooooo good!
Went in….all the way to the ink…took out my instruction manual, doubled checked that I was getting what the book said. And, went and paid 47. 98 for one box and 38.89 for the other. Wow! So happy, I drove home and called Alex to help me. Oh, these looks familiar….I’ve seen them before. We opened both big boxes…tore into those suckers, and then the 4 smaller pouches. And, I waited for him to make it work. He didn’t move. He just stared. He then said “I’m sorry, Mom. But do you remember when you got a new printer a few months ago? This is it. But, the book that you looked at and the ink you bought was for your old printer. The one you gave away. My mouth dropped open as I looked at the nearly 100 dollars worth of useless ink. And, the boxes torn to pieces….along with the manual. No wonder it all looked so familiar.
Don was still here, He heard. “You gotta take it back and get your money back.” I replied that they did not have to give me anything…it was all my fault. But I did still need my printer, so trip # 2 was on. I got into the car, and remembered to stop and think. I was going for ink. Ink for what? My 4 month old new printer. And, what kind is it? Don’t know…better go and find out. It is a HP Office jet 5470. I wrote it down. And drive back to Wal Mart.
I went to the returns and told the lady I bought the wrong ones and she gave me my money back,,, “Thank you,Jesus”. Then back to area with the ink. This time I was going to have their competent staff give me a little assist. One lady was busy, so she started calling, “Don! Don!” I was so hoping it wasn’t my Don….And it wasn’t. This guy was about 60 with the loveliest salt and pepper ponytail halfway down his back! “Don, I need some ink. I wrote it down so you can see what I need. He took the paper and went over to a huge flip chart that must contain every known printer and what ink they need. He followed a line with his finger. “This way”, he said. And soon he handed me a box containing the black and the colors. ” Oh! let me double check on that price…seems a little high. Nope it’s right 95. oo! ” I thank Don and head back out the door and soon drive up my driveway.
I took the ink to Alex…”Ah, he said…right brand! YEA! But, what are these numbers? Hmmm…I’m not sure. “Don’t worry”, I said “Don looked it up and he said this is just what I need.” I opened the box and pull out the 2 cartridges…threw away the trash. Took that big box and cut a big hole right in the middle of it at the place it said 96 and 97. Now I can put this in my purse and won’t have to go through this mess again. Alex stopped working. He looked inside again and tried the cartridges, but the printer sent him a message, too. **“Take these cartridges out of me…they are wrong.”** And, I sat down and waited. I knew there was news to tell. “Mom, you wrote on your paper an HP OfficeJet printer 5470. That is exactly right. But the ink you bought was for a HP Desk Jet printer. And it will not work. I’m so sorry. Mama, don’t cry. Are you ok? This is not your fault.
Well, I knew what was coming next. I was going back to WalMart…and give them this raggedy old box that I had destroyed with scissors. I stuffed the cartridges back into their cellophane. Taped the cardboard back into a semblance of a box. Put it in a bag and left. I did not stop and think. I didn’t really think there was anymore that I needed to think about. I had dragged all over my side of town looking like a ‘I don’t know what’ and I was bringing back ink for the third time! “Dear Jesus,Please find me a place to park close up because I am running out of steam!”
I went in and put the plastic bag with the destroyed box down in my purse. I just could not go stand in front of that lady in Customer Service one more time. So, I went straight back to the ink dept. AGAIN. And, I asked the dear Lord to please send me some grace and mercy and I needed it quick! I spotted a man. Behind a cash register. He was in a tie and vest and look a little more professional than Don…even though Don was a nice guy. And, he looked up at me.
“How are you today, Sir.”
Well, I’m tired.
I won’t take up but just a minute of your time, but I’ve been to your lovely store already 3 times today trying to get ink for my printer. Twice I have gone back to my home with the wrong ink. Please fix this for me.
Do you have the box and the receipt?
Yes sir, right here.
You know you are supposed to take this up front, Ma’am.
I know, Henry (his tag said), but I’m tired, too. In fact I’m about to blow a gasket if I can’t get the right ink. And, you just look like a professional who would know how to find my ink!
Well, Ma’am, it looks as if someone cut a mighty hole in the middle of this box.
Yes, Henry, I did that. See how those numbers are right together there…96 and 97. I was cutting them out to put in my purse so I would never get the wrong ink again.
He kept turning the box over in his hands. You cut it pretty good.
Thank you. Oh and the cartridges inside are all opened too., I’m sorry to say. But the gentleman that helped me before read my note and this is what he gave me. I gave the note to him. He compared it to the box.
Well, this is not the same.
Well, that’s what I noticed when the cartridges would not fit….but I was quite excited for a minute there.
I can see. Stay here. I did.
He came back with another box. All the words matched the words on my note…and the number was 62.
Ma’am, this is the ink that matches what your note says….this (other box) is just garbage now.
Yessir…95 dollars worth of garbage. I just think maybe Don misread it or something.
Let me ring this up for you Ma’am and give you your money back.
Oh, I get money back?
Yes, this ink is only 34. 95.
He was already punching buttons.
Does ink expire, Henry?
No Ma’am, I really don’t think it would.
Well, then I’d like two boxes please, so I don’t have to do this again for a while.
He looked at me over the top of his glasses.
If I go get another box, I’m gonna mess up all this I just done.
Well, please, don’t stop. I can just get another box and pay up front as I leave.
Mr. Henry, sir, I thank you for your patience . You have been most kind.
Ma’am, Kindness works better when it’s both ways.
He smiled and I shook his hand.
Not to many people come in with a smile. Most are so rushed and busy. Most people who have been here already three times would not be kind to work with at all.
Well, I tell you, Henry, the more I thought about all this, the funnier it got. God has a lesson in it for me somewhere, I’m sure.
Have a nice day, Ma’am.
Thank you sir.
I walked to my car, with my bag in my hand and my hair looking for all the world like it was trying to boogie down to some good ole Prince music.
Alex put the ink in, it worked perfectly. It even sent a little message saying the** ink transfer is completed successfully.**
It came around again…and it was as delightful as ever! Spring Break! I spent a few days at the beach enjoying some quiet time at the beginning of the week. Got lots of reading done…and napping as well! My bestie, Shirl, happened to be down from Moultrie as well. We were able to spend some time together catching up while enjoying a lovely spa pedicure!
Then Suzanne and Levi came down on Wednesday. We played and shopped and ate and did all the fun things the beach has to offer. Adam joined us on Friday morning. Levi was so glad to see his Daddy. The 3 of them spent the day together yesterday and we all headed home last night.
Silly shopping time…
Sometimes a Lulu needs to find a time out spot for a little boy…this one worked great!
A visit to the fish pond…spotting turtles….watching ducks
Let’s go eat…
Fun with Daddy….
A little sprucing up…
Until next time…
Six months comes around quickly.
And, this week it was time to take Pop and Alex to Birmingham to see their eye doctors. Pop has macular degeneration in one eye, but by taking series of shots (INTO THE EYE) every 6 weeks, he has been able to regain most of the sight in that eye. He gets shots here in Dothan at 6 week intervals, but sees the specialist at The Eye Foundation every 6 months.
Alex has always had extremely poor eyesight due to the Cerebellar Atrophy. But, Ian found a doctor in Birmingham who was able to give him better eyesight through a series of implants and laser surgery. His also has nystagmus. This means that his eyes are in a constant state of motion. Never stopping. There is nothing to be done for this…it also comes as a result of the Cerebellar Atrophy. But, now Alex also has macular degeneration. In one of his eyes he only has a very small amount of peripheral vision. It is permanent. Unlike Pop’s…Alex will have to live with this forever. Unless God decides to perform a miracle. We see the specialist in Birmingham to keep close watch on his good eye to be sure it does not deteriorate as well. After a year and a half, it seems to be holding steady.
This, then, is why we travel so often to the big city. It is a perk for us that Ian lives there, because we get to spend a little time with him, as well. I am sharing some pics that we took this weekend.
Taking a stroll through the Galleria…
Joy and Alex…
Best selfie we could get of us all…
At the Eye Foundation…not movie stars…dilated eyes!
Out to eat with Ian…Pop likes the alligator bites…me? not so much…
You know, anytime you are together with family is a time to make sweet memories. Even in cases of illness. Our family has learned in our travels through life on this earth…things change quickly…you are not promised tomorrow…there is joy to be found in every situation…in great sadness, wonderful lessons can be learned…God is good-all the time.
PS…Oh, what a difference a good haircut will make!
This has been running back and forth through my mind lately and I know why. It’s because the people involved were all women who had an influence on me. A good one. All ladies in my church. These were ladies I grew to know and love from the time I started at Southside Baptist Church. I was in the 6th grade. These were ladies who were already adults when I was a child and so they were my teachers and my leaders and my examples.
I trained several years while I was in college at Glorietta Baptist Assembly in Glorietta, NM. I wouldn’t expect you to know about this place unless you were a Southern Baptist. There was another one in Ridgecrest, NC. In those years, people would travel for a week or two to one of these assemblies and stay on the grounds. Then they would go to classes in their area of service during the day. Every evening there were services with the visiting pastor for the week. Each night was like a good ole Baptist Revival. The best preachers were there…the best singers were there. And, helping to run it all was college students from around the country. Most were employed to clean cabins during the day, or work on the grounds, or serve in the kitchen…cooking and cleaning. Some were used in the recreation for the visiting children. And, a few…just 5 or 6…were selected to work in the preschool department.
I was one of those. Now, I didn’t realize just how fortunate I was at first, but anything was better than cleaning and making beds or washing 600 dirty breakfast plates! Thus began my training and subsequent love of preschool education in the church. The leaders in each of these areas were the tops in their field. These were the people who wrote the literature. They wrote the books on how to teach. The wrote study course books outlining how to set up a preschool department and why. These people were amazing. They wrote children’s books and children’s music. They did it all. And, for 2 summers, I was directly under their direction and leadership and teaching.
This is the way it worked. We all got a crash course in teaching preschoolers. We’d watch and learn. We’d do something wrong and learn. We’d read and learn. And, soon enough, we would take the whole room of children and be responsible for them. See, the parents who came to attend classes would bring their children. We in turn would keep them and teach them…like a Sunday School department. There were classrooms set up. And, all around the outside of the room were dark screened rooms with chairs. The leaders would hold classes elsewhere for those who were interested in preschool work and then sometime each day they would quietly enter those darkened screen rooms and observe what we EXPERTS were doing. Believe me, if we did not not handle a situation right…it was used to talk about the right thing to do…and we were made well aware of the blunder! They would sit quietly for 30 or 40 minutes and then leave. The children never knew they were there. (I do remember one little boy coming up to me and saying that the “that wall has coughing in it!”)
I can’t even begin to tell you how soon I began to know just how blessed I was. This method of teaching made perfect sense to me. A department was set up with certain areas in it….art, home living, blocks, puzzles, books, etc. These were a constant each week. Then an activity was prepared for the child to do in each area. An activity that went along with the lesson. The children made the choices as to the areas they visited…but in each one they had the opportunity to hear the Bible Story of the day. So, by the time they got to Large group time, they had heard the story at least 3 times already! Then all the lessons followed a rotation system in the areas of God, Jesus, Natural World, Self, Others, Family, Home. It changed either monthly or quarterly.
This system made such sense to me and it still does, though few follow it anymore. I began to to work in a local church while I was in college. And, I had already taken 2 years of Early Education courses at Samford University. Don and I married and I taught in our church in Birmingham until we moved back to Dothan. About that time, our home church began a major building project for a new education building and a preschool building was included in that. I was able to give some input and insight into the building…and they used consultants from Baptist State Boards to make sure it met the requirements they had set forth. How blessed to be able to teach in a building, and have the materials to teach, all according to the proper set up! I started my work in preschool at Southside as Preschool Director. I stayed in this position for some 20 years. I then passed the job to capable hands and began teaching the kindergarten class each Sunday. This was probably another 20 years. I worked as Director again for a few years when we remodeled again, but now I am out of it altogether. Age and family and health…you understand. But, I miss it every single time I am at church!
One of the things I worked on in those years is getting trained teachers for all the classrooms…babies, toddlers, threes,fours,and fives. And I was able to do that. I taught classes for all ages. One of my greatest success stories was the Threes!
I don’t remember exactly, but this is my recollection. My Mom came to me and said that she and two of her friends wanted to teach the threes. Well, this was just as I was looking for new workers. I told her that would be great! So the team of Mom (Eloise Townsend), Jeanette Glover, and Rudean Newton was formed for our three year old department. They were willing and anxious to learn the ‘right ‘ way to do everything! They knew how important it was to have training, and spent a week at an Alabama assembly that taught classes similar to the bigger assemblies. This was Shocco Springs. They learned and began the work with our threes. What a wonderful job they did! Oh, and how thrilled I was to see things done the right way…the way for optimum teaching of little ones. They worked together for quite a few years. I don’t remember exactly why, but Mrs. Rudean had to bow out….and was replaced by the wonderful Betty Swicord. She fit right in and things went on just as smoothly as before. I had forgotten this but Jeanette told me Sunday that when Mrs. Betty had to exit, another lady stepped in. And, through all the years, when one or another of the ladies were unable to be in attendance, Shirley Hammond was the designated fill in person. She was as talented as all the others and could move in with ease.
This post is a thank you to this group who saw the need for preschool education. They didn’t think threes were too young to teach. They understood the principle that, starting with babies, you build a foundation that church is a happy place to be. People love me at church. People take care of me at church. We do fun things together at church. This foundation carries on and is built upon as the child grows. Soon he is able to learn more about why we come to church…eventually learning to love God and surrender their lives to Him.
The saints in this group are no longer all together. Mom and Mrs. Rudean have moved to Heaven.
Mrs. Betty is dealing with serious health issues, Mrs. Jeanette has just undergone some serious health problems, as well. In the midst of the illness of both of these ladies, they have been faithful and continue to serve the Lord.
Shirley Hammond is no longer a member at Southside, but is doing well and serving the Lord in many ways. She is and will always be a part of us!
I want to honor these ladies and the example they are to me! I have watched you all for many years. I see what you do and how you act. I see how you suffer and continue to smile. I see you faith in our Lord shining through adversity. I don’t think I can ever measure up to any of you, but you are my inspiration.
My mother was wise in many ways. She was a friend to many. These ladies were dear to her and loved her. And, she loved and trusted them. At times, in church, I get a little emotional, when something reminds me of Mom. These are the ladies I want to hug…because they loved her, too. And, I feel almost as if I can feel her though their hugs.
Mom, Rudean Newton, Jeanette Glover, Betty Swicord, Shirley Hammond…thank you. You have a special place in my heart of hearts.
I don’t know if I have the words to let you know how very hard and how very sad it is to live with and love someone who has a rare disease. It requires quite a lot of patience and understanding and prayer.
Perhaps someone you love has some terrible disease like cancer or heart disease. At least you can research it and find information and study it . You can search and find out the proper steps to take to end up with the outcome you desire. Or at least you can find a cause instead of wondering where in the world this came from.
That is not what those of us who deal with loved ones with a rare disease can do. We search the internet. Sometimes there is a line or two about our disease, or someone has set up a symposium. But, there is never enough information for us to say…we need to do 1, 2, and 3. So instead, we try to find out through referrals who might just possibly be a good doctor to check this out. We go and he says, “this is not my area of expertise, but maybe you should see this doctor.”” And, we do, but she says, “I have seen so few cases I just really don’t know what you should do.” It’s all trial and error. And disappointments and dead ends.
And, you cry. Because, why of all diseases did you have to get this one? And, why does somebody not know something? And, this is your child. YOUR CHILD….whose life is wasting away and who is living on pain pills and who see no future for himself and who can not begin a relationship because who knows when he’ll be confined to bed. This is the child who is that no longer…he’s a man of 33 now. This is the man who wonders what happened to the world? Where did the people go? For a while there was a preacher who cared. He moved across town and he never hears from him. He had good friends in school. Everyday, our house was filled with boys eating and playing ball! They still live around here, but they don’t remember. His own brothers have families and jobs and things to do. But, they try their best. His cousins are available if he needs them, but they have their lives to live, too. It’s not that they don’t care…it just is what it is.
It’s got to be hard when the people who make up your social circle are your mom, your little 4 year old nephew, your housekeeper, and your dad…in the evenings.
There are some saints who remember to send cards and notes all along, and he is so happy to be thought of! These always bring a smile to his face. I bless those who remember.
What do you do when you are the Mama in this situation? You feel as if you need to be close by. But, you have things that need to be done, too. If you go off and have fun, there is always that tiny place in your brain that says “this isn’t fair…He can’t go”. For him…No family vacation, no trips to the fair, no trips to the beach. And, if we go…who checks in on him, or makes sure he eats or gets his meds. Everyone is so busy with their own lives.
And, there is God…Watching it all. Understanding it all. Seeing it all unfold. But, seemingly, just letting it happen. Prayers, He hears, but sends no reply. ” Help,” He hears us ask for, but He doesn’t sent it. ” Information” He hears us beg for, but we never get it. It would be so. very. easy. to be big time angry at this good God who seemingly doesn’t heal or help or speak…in our case.
But, thank goodness, I know that I can’t see it all. I know that there are two plains where life exists, and I see only one. I know that this Good God does hear every word I say and every prayer I send His way. And, I know …in my heart of hearts…that He is as heartbroken as I am. I know for sure that He loves my boy more than me. If I was Him…I think that I would be different…I would send help immediately…I would fix everything back to right…if I had His great power.
And this is why I don’t. I can’t see tomorrow or next week or next year. He can. He knows every single problem I’ve spoken of here in this post. But greater than this…He knows what awaits Alex when the time is right. He knows what treasures and delights await him in his future home. And He says, “Don’t fret. Alex is in my hands. I have the situation under control. Sure, he’s suffering now…but just you wait to see what’s ahead for him.”
And, my friend, that is all we have to hold on to. That is all that allows us to live in hope. That is all that allows us to lift our hearts and praise and sing and worship this God who says, “Don’t fret.” It is the belief in His promise of ONE DAY. It is our belief that all this nonsense here on earth will one day be forgotten. And it is the promise that I WILL see Alex strong, and steady…no cane…no wheelchair…no pain,,,no meds…able to use his brilliant mind however our God chooses. It is because I KNOW God will not lie to me and I will get to see it all!
And if you are in this same situation, you can claim that promise, too. It’s as much for you as it is for me. All you have to do is reach out your hand and claim it.If I can share more with you or if you have questions feel free to contact me.
On this Rare Disease Day, I choose to pray for research and doctors and scientists to make new discoveries that can help those who suffer. I pray they will have the funds needed to work. I pray for clear minds and wise use of materials that go along with great discoveries. I pray they will find answers that elude so many. I thank God that they are willing to spend their lives in service to others.
I would hope that some research could benefit my son…that something miraculous will happen for him. But, above it all…I know he is OK. He will be well. He will be healed. And this is the promise that gives me strength for the day! AMEN.
“You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here.”
2 Corinthians 4:17
Last week, Levi and I had to run into Hobby Lobby for me to pick up one or 50 things. Truly, that’s usually what happens…but, not today…what with a little helper tagging along! And, since he thinks he is too big to ride in the buggy anymore, it’s harder for me to keep my eye on him. So in and out!
I had explained to him on the ride there that we were not buying stickers or candy or toys or anything today, except my paint. Because, truth be told, he loves Hobby Lobby and can always find something that he needs in his arsenal. ( I wonder where he picked up that trait?) But, he is in no need of toys. You know…Christmas just passed and his birthday is next month. Besides…my studio will not hold one more thing!!!!! And, that’s the truth!
There is so much for him to see there, and he likes to check it all out. I got him to bypass the Valentine stuff because it was almost gone. So, he headed straight for the bunnies, and baskets and eggs. Oh, such wonderful things to see! I let him check it out, as I ambled slowly down the aisle. Good-bye, Easter…Hello, Summertime! Oh the myriad of things to use for fun in the sun! He found all sorts of things that were too wonderful for words. But then…
He stopped. Still. And, stared. Mouth agape. He didn’t move a muscle. I was afraid he’d gone catatonic on me. Slowly, very slowly…his hands came up to his cheeks. He turned and looked at me as if he’d just seen something miraculous and life changing.
“Lulu. Lulu, do you see it? It’s beautiful! I never saw one like it before! It’s the best one ever. Oh, Lulu. Please get it down so I can feel it.”
Well, friends, I was floored. Such emotion. Such genuine awe. I thought surely his eyes could not pop open any wider! I looked where he was looking and there was absolutely nothing there worthy of such adoration. I saw plastic water bottles, frisbees, cheap sunglasses, some children’s gardening tools, some sand pails and shovels. But, for the life of me, I saw nothing that would cause such emotion in a little boy.
“Levi, what are you looking at…I don’t see.”
“Lulu, the BROOM…THE BROOM!”
And, there it was, a cute little broom, stripped with orange and yellow and blue, with bright yellow bristles and a bug face around the bristles…complete with ears.
“Lulu, isn’t it great? Have you ever seen such a great broom? Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted one of my very own. I want to sweep at my house and help my mommy. I want to sweet your front porch. It’s just perfect!”
“Then, my dear, by all mean, you must have it. We can’t leave this broom here…it has to go with you! You can have your wish!”
“OH, LULU! Really? REALLY? But, you said I could not get anything today.”
Now, this was a teachable moment and I had not a clue how to explain to him that he had just melted my heart. That seeing the wonder and delight on his face was like a shot of ‘feel good’. That he is so dear to me that I want to give him everything he wants…anytime he wants it. That it is so beautiful to see joy and awe and happy on his little face. But…I had said no treats today. What is my word worth? I can’t give him everything he wants. That’s not doing him any favors. Nor teaching him about the real world!
“Levi, what did I tell you when we came in? No stickers or candy or toys today. But…this is not a sticker or a toy or candy, it’s a tool for working! I think it’s most OK for us to buy this.”
“Really, Lulu? It’s really OK? I can have it? Cause it’s the most beautiful broom I ever saw!”
“Then it shall be yours!”
He backed up and came running up to me and tried to jump in my arms. Didn’t work…my back would not allow it, but he grabbed me around the waist and hugged as tight as he could and said,
“Oh, thank you, Lulu. You’re the best Lulu EVER! I am a happy boy!”
And, with that, I took it and put it in the buggy and we went to get my paint.
Now, I don’t know about him, but I felt 10 feet tall! How often do we get to grant a wish? How often do we get to make a dream come true? How, often can we be ‘the best EVER’ to anyone for anything? For just a few minutes, I was…
Queen Lulu, the granter of wishes…the sharer of happiness…and the maker of dreams come true!
HOWEVER, later, when he tried to slip a light saber (that lit up when you finished all the candy inside) into the buggy…I made him take it out and put it back. I mean, really….it was a toy and candy! Does he think I don’t mean what I say? Maybe he’s feeling a little princely, too?