Prayer and Compassion

PTSD.  It’s mentioned in the news almost every day now.  This morning, on NPR, they said that it was thought the doctors at Joint Base Lewis McChord had changed the diagnosis of around 40% of their patients initially diagnosed with PTSD because there was the possibility they might be faking it.  I remember another NPR report, 2 or 3 years ago,  on this very same issue — although it did not focus exclusively JBLM.

I have no idea what the men and women who suffer from this are going through.  I have NO concept of what these people have seen or what they have been through to cause it.  On what I would think of as a ‘smaller scale,’ I have suffered from panic attacks and agoraphobia.   I have dealt with people who did not understand my fears — and, just so you know, telling me to “get over it” did not help.  As a matter of fact, it often made it worse.  I felt helpless and alone.  The people telling me to “get over it” certainly showed no sympathy or compassion to my plight.  I can’t even imagine the fear and anxiety the people suffering from PTSD must feel on a daily basis — let alone when they are sent back into combat.

One of the thoughts that sprang 😉 to my mind when I first heard the report a few years ago was this:  Even if a person is faking it to try to get out of going back to a combat zone, would you want that person covering your back in a fire fight?  I don’t think so.  If they don’t want to be there that badly, I’m not sure I’d feel I could rely on them.  Forcing someone to do something they don’t want to do is not always the best plan.  Someone who is that afraid may not be capable of making rational decisions in life and death situations.

In my junior year of high school,  agoraphobia reared its ugly head.  We had no idea what the problem was – only that I did not want to leave the house.  When I was forced to go to school – I was usually home by noon.  And had probably been in the nurse’s office most of the morning.  When I was told that no one would come pick me up if I called from school – you couldn’t get me out the front door of my house.  Tough love needed to be tempered with compassion.  My parents were totally frustrated, so the “tough love” often showed up more than the “compassion” during this time.

So how did I get through my ordeal? Prayer, mostly.  I do still have panic attacks – but very rarely compared to what it was like before.  A trip to the dentist office can spark one.  *lol* The agoraphobia?  Pretty much gone.  I refuse to allow myself to be totally trapped by it again.  I don’t like to be home alone at night and I won’t drive very far by myself, but those are the only leftovers from it.  And to be honest, I’m not sure those are totally bad things.   What can be done for those suffering with PTSD? Medically, I have no idea.  I’m not a doctor/nurse and have no training in that field.  But I do believe we need to be praying for our soldiers.  They are going into situations that we can’t even grasp in our wildest imaginations.  We also need to pray for their doctors that God gives them the wisdom to make the right diagnosis/decisions.

Please don’t think I’m insinuating in any way that my panic attacks/agoraphobia are equal to PTSD.  I don’t believe that.  What I do believe is that because of what I’ve gone through, I have an inkling of the fear/anxiety they deal with.  And I can empathize to a certain extent.

Prayer and compassion.  That’s what is needed.  Not just to those with PTSD, agoraphobia, etc.  But to everyone, in every situation.

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Spoiled Rotten

Most of you won’t care, but ever since I got my futon – years ago – I’ve left it up in the “couch” position and slept on it that way. My room’s not very big  so that gave me more open floor space.

Unfortunately, I’m not as young as I once was.  Yes, old age is creeping up on even me.  I take more pills than a lot of older folks I know.  If I sit too long, I have to get up in stages because my back and legs don’t work like they used to.

So one day, about a month ago, I decided to lay out the futon into it’s [full] bed position and see how it felt.  And how I felt the next morning.

Wow! Bliss! See, you really didn’t care about this.

But someone does care.  She cares very deeply.  She is passionate about it.

Spooky – my furbaby – is TOTALLY ticked off that I’ve laid the futon down.  She can no longer lay on the back of it and stare out the window at the birds, squirrels and other small animals which give her a thrill.  She can no longer laze in the sun while laying on the back of it.  She can no longer do her crazy demon cat impersonation – running all thru the house, under the futon, up the back and jumping on whatever unsuspecting human happens to be sitting on the futon at the time.

Yep, she’s pretty angry.  The first day, she walked over to the window, stood up on her back legs and looked out the window, then turned her head to look at me. “What were you thinking?!”  I can read her mind.  So, the second day, I piled my pillows underneath the window for her to lay or sit on and look out the window.  She still has to stand up to really look out.  And she still looks at me like I’ve committed the most horrible crime/sin imaginable.

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Getting to know me…

Okay, Dacia. You asked for it … Here goes.

A. age :: 4????

B. bed size :: full [my bed’s a futon — I usually sleep on it in “couch” position.]

C. chore you hate :: dusting.

D. dogs :: none.  [ I am a catperson – my baby’s name is SPOOKY!]

E. essential start to your day :: it used to be chocolate and a coke. However diabetes has changed that …

F. favorite color ::  green, I suppose.  I’m a big purple and blue fan also.

G. gold or silver :: silver

H. height :: 5’3

I. instruments you play :: piano

J. job title :: Abstractor/Typist — also, freelance writer

K. kids :: Just my Spooky-girl.

L. live :: Brown County, Indiana

M. maiden name :: Branham  [I’m not married, so it’s still Branham]

N. nicknames :: Jo, Joey, Jodi, Joly-blonde [altho I’m not blonde] and Josephine.

O. overnight hospital stays :: gall bladder

P. pet peeve :: too many to bother you with.

Q. quote ::  “Will it matter for eternity?” – Melva Hoskins

R. righty or lefty :: righty

S. siblings :: Two: Liz and Lori

T. time you wake up :: between 6:30 and 7:30

U. university attended :: Does the Institute of Children’s Literature count?

V. vegetables you dislike: Peas, broccoli, brussell sprouts, turnips

W. what makes you run late :: uhhh, myself? I’m horrible about being on time. [ditto]

X. x-rays you’ve had ::  Chest xray – pneumonia.

Y. yummy food :: authentic mexican food.

Z. zoo animal favorite :: tigers

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I have a bruise on my hip where I ran into the counter at a friend’s house.  I have a bruise on the other hip where I ran into a desk at work.  A bruise on my shoulder where I ran into the chest of drawers in my bedroom.

I have come to a conclusion about myself … I am precious.  I should be wrapped up in cotton batting to preserve my lily white skin.  I love purples and greens — just not as a skin tone.  Fortunately, the bruises are all in places I can hide.

I’m sure most people would conclude that I am clumsy or accident-prone.  “Who? Me?” I ask, as I run into the doorway.  [Goody, another bruise.] I’m reminded of an old Bill Cosby monologue about a teenager driving – who is sure the tree jumped out into the middle of the road.  I’m sure all these inanimate objects are out to get me.  They move just a fraction of an inch so that I collide with them, resulting in some really splendiferous colored bruises.

This is all tongue-in-cheek, I’m sure you know.  But I began to think about a baby learning to walk.  Mom and Dad hover over the child, trying to protect Baby from any mishaps so there will be no injuries — and no bruising, if they can control it.  The thing is: (1) they CAN’T always control it.  Baby will wait for them to turn their backs and then take off – an accident waiting to happen; and (2) Baby can’t learn without a few spills.

It’s the same with life. Our parents try to control situations and protect us as much as possible, but we can’t learn about life if we don’t step out on our own.  Will we fall? You bet. Will we be bruised? Count on it.  But even as adults, our parents are right there, waiting to help us up and take care of our boo-boos.

Even more important, it’s the same with God.  I know it’s hard to comprehend, but He loves us even more than our earthly parents.  As we go through life, making decisions to do things or go places that He knows are not in our best interest and will only lead to hurt and/or pain — He usually doesn’t interfere, but He’s right there when we figure it out to help us get back on track.

Because in God’s eye, we are all PRECIOUS.

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Gray Skies to Blue

Why is it that during the coldest and dreariest time of winter, the cardinals are a redder  red? The blue jays a bluer blue? Pine trees a greener green? And the blue of the winter  sky is the bluest blue imaginable?

I’m sure it only seems so.  Possibly because the landscape is so dark and the winter  sky seems to be a sullen gray most of the time.  Any spot of color – whether it’s a bird,  tree, or the sky – seems to be a much more vivid color than usual.

I believe God does this to give us a pick-me-up as the winter season begins to get on  our nerves and wear us down.  Sure, the first couple of snowfalls are gorgeous.  We glory  in the beauty of the perfectly white scenery all around us.  But by the end of January and  into February, we’ve had enough.  We’ve been snowbound – and ice-bound.  We’ve slid  into ditches and done more donuts – unintentionally – than when we were teens.

To get us through those gloomy, dreary, depressing last days and months of winter,  God sends little bits of color to brighten our days.

He does this spiritually as well.  We all have times in our lives when we must deal  with sorrow, troubles, and even depression.  And in those times, God will send someone  – or something – along to brighten our journey.

My mom always loved to feed the birds.  Cardinals, blue jays, and juncos were her  favorites.  My sister and I have continued to feed them, even though she is gone.  The last few years, blue jays have been scarce around my neighborhood during the  summer months.  I really miss them and pray for God to “send me a blue jay” every year.  He always delivers.

Last year, my father was very ill and I knew we were going to lose him unless God  touched him.  One Saturday morning, before leaving for the hospital, I was watching the  birds and prayed for God to send me a blue jay – just to brighten my day – and to  reassure me that God was listening.  None came before we left.   The next morning, I was getting ready for church and looked out my window.  There were  3 or 4 blue jays hopping around the bird table.  I could hear a voice inside my head  saying, “I do hear you.  And I know what’s best.”  My father passed away not long after  that, but I took comfort in knowing that God knows best.

About 5 months later, I lost my cat.  Smokey was about 14 years old.  I have no  children, so this little gray ball of fur was my “baby.” As my sister dug her grave, I sat  with her and watched the blue jays – which we hadn’t seen in a while – squawking and  flying over our heads.  Once again, I felt God saying to me, “I’m here with you.”

Two weeks later we found a kitten in the parking lot of our office.  We asked around  the neighborhood, but no one knew where she’d come from.  So we brought her home.  I  can’t tell you how many people said to me, “God gave her to you.”

Yes, I truly believe He did.

And that, my friend, is the key.  We have to be open and receptive – and believe.  God can send us blessings to ease our pain and lighten our loads, but if we don’t believe  and refuse to accept them they won’t do us a bit of good. My prayer is that I will always be open and receptive to Him – that I will let him  change my gray skies to blue.

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What A Wonderful World – Spring

Yes, my friends, Spring is on the horizon.

That’s what I keep telling myself as I look out the window at the gray sky.  Waiting for the snow to fall, because they have predicted possible snow flurries for today.  It’s currently a balmy 35 degrees…

But I do know that Spring is just around the corner. The purple finches are once again trying to build a nest on the drain pipe right outside my office window.  You can hear them twittering as they light on the pipe.  I imagine the conversation goes something like this:

“You KNOW we can’t build here.  The ground isn’t level.” [Mrs. Finch]

“I can DO it, if you’ll just leave me alone.  This is the best spot around.  It’s well protected and yet we have a great view of town.”  [Mr. Finch]

“But those people keep walking in and out that back door.  I don’t think this is a good idea.”

“I’m sure we can find a way to discourage them from using this door.”  [Mr. Finch laughs evilly.]

Good luck to the Finch family.  They actually built a nest there one year.  Some of us [here at the office] were very careful about using that door.  Some of us, however, were NOT — and the Finch family found another place to nest.

The frogs – spring peepers – have been vocal the last couple of weeks.  A sure sign of Sping.  My Dad always said you’ll only have 3 more freezes from the time you hear the first frogs croaking.  Unfortunately, that does not mean 3 nights in a row.  You can have a couple days – then a warm spell – then a week of freezing temps – then a warm spell – then a MONTH …  but that should be the last freeze.  I’ve never really counted it up to see if it actually works.  I start to and then forget.

Just like whatever date the first snow falls – that’s how many snows you’ll get that season.  And as in the case of freezes, it doesn’t mean if it snows on the 3rd and you get 3 days of snow in a row that you’re done.  That only counts as one snow.  It has to melt away and start all over again.  I always start off counting the snows, too, and then forget.

Anyway, back to Spring. [Because I am totally OVER the snow this year.] My neighbor took a picture of a flower – a viola or pansy, I’m not sure which – and posted on her Facebook page.  I think I’m not the only one done with winter weather.  The daffodils, crocus, and narcissus are sticking their little green snouts out of the ground.  I usually think of them as Easter flowers, but they’re gonna have a long wait for Easter this year.

Our world is such an amazing place.  Each year, the earth is reborn.  Birds look for nesting spots to bring up their young.  Flowers begin wending their way from their roots to the earth above.  Trees send out new buds that eventually turn into flowers and leaves.

Tadpoles become frogs and croak the glad tidings of Spring to come.


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Thought for the day

I recently heard a commercial on Spirit 95 – one of those inspirational messages they’re so good at – and it made me pause.  The theme was faith. They asked – “When Jesus called to the disciples, why was Peter the only one to get out of the boat?”

That’s a good question.  They were all followers of Jesus.  They had all seen the miracles He performed.  Yet when He told them to come on out and walk on the water, only Peter had enough faith to jump out of the boat.  Sure, he ended up starting to sink, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that he was the only one who tried.

So many times we hear this passage preached with the theme being about Peter taking his eyes off Jesus and falling.  And how we must keep our eyes upon Jesus or we run the risk of “falling.”  This is true and something we need to keep in mind all the time.

But I liked this take on it also.  Why was Peter the only one to take the risk? Did the other guys want to watch and see what happened?  And then if Peter made it, they might try it, too?  Or was it just too “out there” for them?

And, of course, we can apply this to ourselves today.  If we felt God telling us to sell our home and go to … Iraq, would we “jump out of the boat” and start walking His way?  How many times have we had missionaries come through and we felt the urge to put an extra $50 or $100 in the offering pan… but we just couldn’t see past the bills that were due to do it?  Or we’ve seen someone in a restaurant who looked totally alone and out of sorts – God tells us to go speak to them, but we’re too shy or embarrassed to risk it?

While I don’t deny that the rest of the disciples had a relationship with Jesus; I think Peter was just a little bit closer to Him.  Available. More ready to be used.

We need to ask ourselves:  Am I like Peter?  Or the rest of the crew who stayed safe in the ship?

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