a shot of fortitude, knowing I can do anything for two weeks…

“True Christian fortitude consists in strength of mind, through grace,
exerted in two things; in ruling and suppressing
the evil and unruly passions and affections of the mind;
and in steadfastly and freely exerting and following
good affections and dispositions,
without being hindered by sinful fear or the opposition of enemies…
Though Christian fortitude appears in withstanding and
counteracting the enemies that are without us;
yet it much more appears in resisting and suppressing
the enemies that are within us;
because they are our worst and strongest enemies and
have greatest advantage against us.
The strength of the good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more
than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness,
and benevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries,
strange behaviour, and surprising acts and events of this
evil and unreasonable world.”

Jonathan Edwards

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(a jumbled mess of fishing line, fishing hooks and seaweed washes ashore / Santa Rosa Beach, FL / Julie Cook / 2016)

The other night, my husband and I found ourselves at our favorite restaurant celebrating
a month late anniversary. This particular restaurant is a place we love to visit whenever we are fortunate enough to find ourselves at the beach.
The restaurant is very nice and the clientele can be equally as nice…with the exception
of some not so nice diners, but that’s for another story for another day.

As we arrived a bit early for our 7PM reservations, the host kindly asked if we
wouldn’t mind waiting as they prepared our requested table.
“Not a problem” I replied as it is often nice to sit for a minute and observe
those who have also opted to come dine…
Folks at the beach are always most colorful in a variety of ways….

As we waited, we watched as two couples entered together through the front door.
Very attractive couples…say, mid 60’s.
The women were puffed and coiffed to the Nines.
Giving the air of overtly well to do.

They waited a bit and were shown to their table as one of the men excused
himself from the group asking for the men’s room.
About two minutes later the other gentleman wandered back out for
what we assumed was to direct his friend to their table.
But rather than wait on his friend, he headed straight to the bar.
He appeared very impatient wanting the bar tender to hurry to his aid.

He ordered what appeared to be a triple shot of scotch.
I know these things as my dad use to be drawn to the same sort of amount and
libation back in his younger years….

The man took glass in hand bringing it quickly to his lips as he threw his head back,
draining the brown liquid from the glass in one quick swallow…
As he just as quickly plopped the glass on the bar.
No savoring, no sipping nor enjoying…
more like a “wham, bam, thank you mam, sort of moment.

At this point his friend emerged from the men’s room and
off they went to join their wives.

My husband and I kind of laughed to one another as we wondered aloud
if spending time over dinner with his wife was such that he
needed a heavy shot before continuing…

Fast forward to today…
I was back at the Orthopedic’s office following last week’s MRI.
I sat in the exam room almost 45 minutes before the PA came in.
How are you feeling she asked.

“Well…
imagine that the top of your thigh is numb yet at the same time it feels
as if your inner thigh and groin have been flayed wide open
while someone is constantly scrubbing said area with a brillo pad…
All the while someone else has a drill and is drilling right
into your hip bone and lower back, just a tad over from you lower spine…”

“Hummmm, that good eh?”

I flatly looked at her and stated more then questioned…
“I suppose the MRI didn’t show a thing did it?”

“Oh no, it showed something alright…
that’s what took me so long, the doctor had to keep looking over the MRI”
The scan wasn’t as high as we wanted it to go nor as deep…
but there is definitely a distribution of disc material outside of the
column on the left side…and it’s squeezing the emerging nerve.”

In other words, a bulging disc with severe nerve inflammation.

I asked if they wanted to repeat the MRI…
with her response being “only if we have to do surgery.”

Surgery?

“We have two options…we can be conservative and do therapy and traction….”

The thought of traction conjured an image of me flat on my back in a dingy cell
tied to a dark wooden plank as my hands and feet are chained to a roller
all the while as the masked torture master cranks the medieval rack…
stretching me till I snap.
Which mind you might feel better than flayed skin and brillo pads….

“Or, and this is my recommendation, we schedule a spinal nerve block.”

Ahhhh another torturous device where a large long horse needle is wiggled deep into the spin,
injecting steroids and anti-inflamation meds directly into the source….

“Ok, I’m in” I said probably a bit too eagerly…
but I think she grasped the fact that the pain has got to go…as in now.

“We’ll need to schedule it with one of the other doctor’s who normally does this sort
of procedure…and I’m afraid it could be a couple of weeks…”

“WHAT?”

Sure enough, the first available time is in two weeks.

“I can do anything for two weeks,” I hear myself chanting in my head.
That use to be my mantra when I was a much younger mother and teacher.

I would always have to take some sort of continuing ed training or coursework,
usually during the short summer, and it always seemed to be for two weeks.

I despised having to give up my precious home-time–
Whenever I was home, that’s when I savored being like a full time wife and mom…
Having to give up any of the sacred home-time was…in a word, torturous…

But….

I would always reassure myself that both my young son and me could manage anything for two weeks…

Just as I reminded myself today, “I can do anything for two weeks…”
even if it means living with constant pain, no energy and no moments of rest…
while now dealing with poor dad’s conundrum….

All this while as thoughts of just running around naked seemed to make perfect sense as nothing
would then be rubbing on the skin where angry nerves recoiled at the slightest touch.

Which brings us back to the previous observation of the gentleman at the bar…

Whereas I feebly attempted to soothingly reassure myself that I could do anything for two weeks,
perhaps this particular gentleman, who found that he needed a shot of fortitude just to endure
dinner with his wife, had it more aptly figured out…

As I quipped to the nurse, “two weeks is fine, but please call me if anything comes available
sooner… as you may just find me at a bar drinking heavily….”

Here’s to doing anything for two weeks…along with a shot of fortitude!

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:12-13

lose not thy enthusiasm

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Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.
– Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill is one of my all time favorite heroes—the one single voice in the wilderness, the only one who seemed to possess the clarity of reality, the discernment of reason– the single individual who publicly and loudly tried and tried to forewarn a free world of an impending and sinister descent into tyranny if all were caught napping–as it seemed was the precarious direction freedom were heading via appeasement or simple denial…all the while, little by little, European nations were devoured by madness….and yet “the powers that be” thought Winston daft.

He was an aristocrat whose life was not the type of life one might imagine for an aristocrat—a cold distant father who never expressed joy or pride in his son—an American mother who was the belle of every ball and an attraction for every man… and she knew it. His solace was his collection of toy soldiers, his “nanny” Woomie–the only adult to truly care for and show affection to a lonely little boy, as well as a life-long love of riding and of horses which eventually took him to military mastery in the Calvary, much to is father’s dismay.

He was not a good or successful student whose father had to twist arms and pad hands just to get him simply enrolled in a private school of much lesser prestige than desired. He had a pronounced speech impediment which later proved to only add intensity to his rallying cries to his nation. He was not good with money as he often teetered on financial ruin. He was ousted repeatedly from his position in Parliament, only to come back again, and again. He lost, at the time, his youngest child to a fatally brief illness, he was the ire of a rising dictator.

Yet he was never deterred. I think in some ways all the negatives and all of the seeming defeats and tragedies only feed into what became our freedom’s greatest crusader. Thankfully so….The stalwart commander who steadied a nation for 2 long lonely years of near destruction, death and constant fear. He stayed the course, never wavered even when the British people began to question the leadership as the bombs continued falling night after night, decisive battles constantly being lost, as the net grew ever tighter around the small island nation, the final bastion of freedom between the US and Hitler.

He is one of the greatest orators of modern time–despite the speech impediment. He commanded the English language like no other and has been hailed as a modern day Shakespeare. He was a profuse writer who supplemented his family’s income by writing volumes of historical tomes. He was an accomplished artist who sought much peace and solace in the hours he spent painting. He preferred to sleep only in silk, better on the skin you know. Cigars, champagne, brandy, whiskey being constant companions. He was childlike, always comfortable at play with his children yet compared constantly to a bulldog possessing great tenacity and of a lion projecting a terrible fierceness.

He never backed down, not even in the face of what appeared to be inevitable defeat. He knew what it was like to be taken as a prisoner of war during the Boer War and the risked all for a brazen escape. His was the battle cry …”Never, Never, Never give in/up……”

So it is to dear Winston, who I often turn to in times of “battle”—life’s battles—his rallying cries echoing in my heart. Be courageous even when things appear lost or hopeless. Never give up, keep going, continue fighting for the right thing despite the difficulties and of all those around you who would prefer taking the easy way out–press on….if you find yourself in “hell”, by all means keep going….

Humor, wit and determination were his trademarks in life—they helped him to be a most successful individual who battled, by himself for quite sometime, an evil empire. Those of us who live and enjoy free lives today owe much to this enigma of a man…who to most young Americans is now but a mere chapter in a history book. The epitome of a true scholar and a gentleman who harkened to a different time all together.

I think of Winston often being the David battling the great Goliath in many areas of his life–if it wasn’t his own government, it was other governments or governmental leaders—he simply eyed his opponent and hammered at the weak spot until victory was his—or his nation’s.

Yesterday’s visit with Dad, an ardent admirer of Churchill, as he lived as a young man during those dark days of war, death and destruction, was relatively successful—as successful as can be hoped for at this juncture. It helped that I had called in my backup troops (troop member). We had a list of “conditions” to present, that which if followed, meant all could maintain life in relative tranquility—mainly the timeliness of bill paying–the daily taking care of life’s business, the taking of one’s meds as directed, the bill accounts to be set up for automatic payments—there was the initial desire to balk, the wanting to run for the cover of passive aggressive behavior—but it was met head on with a smile and not the blinking of an eye.

There was a trip to the bank, a promised call to a lawyer, the promise of organization..it helped that good health had returned to all parties involved, minds seemed clearer, the realization that “these people mean business so I’d better straighten up” seemed to actually sink in…

The leak is dammed for now. I know what lies ahead but at least for today, the sun is shining. I feel better, he seems better. We made a small dent in cleaning out accumulated “junk” which simply made for a less daunting appearance to “the office” —

I will follow up with a call later today to see if he has made the calls he was to make—hopefully fulfilling his end of the bargain. No home health care for now, no talk of assisted living…but those options are looming—I will go back weekly or more often to help keep the ship balanced and afloat.

Thankfully for now—the seas have calmed and the enemy seems to have abated… for now. I know it, the sinister enemy of life, is still there, hiding in the shadows of a dimming mind, but for now, I can see a clearness in the eyes that I have not seen in quite sometime…….as Winston likes to remind us…
“The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat, but they are no less difficult.”