Tag Archives: Life

Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts

Something happened today I have never experienced before.  It left me reeling—not from shock, horror, or pain but with a genuine warmth I’ve not felt in a while.  No, I didn’t meet Mr. Right.  But the incident’s impact, if nurtured and shared, could prove just as long-lasting and perhaps more fulfilling. It all started out routinely enough.  I ran to U-Haul for one last box and then pulled in behind a white pickup truck at a McDonald’s drive-thru to grab some lunch.  Listening to the radio while mulling over what still needs doing before the movers show up next week, I didn’t notice much else.  Pack this box. . .call the utilities. . .clean, clean, clean!  Now, what have I forgotten?  Meanwhile, the line inched forward.  I fumbled through my purse, finally pulling out a wrinkled ten-dollar bill as I reached the pick-up window.  The clerk appeared with my food but waved the money aside.  “You’re fine.  The guy ahead of you paid for your lunch.”

“What?”  My hand holding the crumpled sawbuck still hung out the window.

“You don’t owe anything,” the clerk repeated.  “The guy in that white pickup paid for your lunch.”

I stared, dumbfounded.  “Why?” I blurted finally. The clerk shrugged.  “I dunno.  Guess he just wanted to make your day better.”

Even then it didn’t quite register.  I stared after the departing truck and offered a hesitant wave as it turned onto the street and disappeared into the traffic.  “My goodness.  That’s never happened before.” Feeling strangely light, I thanked the clerk, took my lunch, and drove away.  The upcoming move had me stressed to some degree but not overly burdened; nevertheless, that gentleman’s kindly act seemed to lift a weight off my shoulders.  I wished I could have thanked him properly.  He probably hadn’t seen my wave.  At least, I decided, I could pass his generosity along.  My face relaxed into a broad smile as I drove to Dutch Brothers for an iced tea. Nick, the barista, greeted me with his usual grin and a hearty, “How ya doin’?”

“Great!  But you’re not going to believe this.  I still don’t,” I answered. Nick’s smile never waned as I poured out my tale.  “Actually,” he said, “I hear of that happening quite often.  A guy even did that for me once, and last week the paper had an article about a mom who takes her kids to a drive-in and tells them, ‘How about we do something nice for that man (or that lady) behind us?  Let’s buy them lunch.’  And she does.” Wow!  What an example to set for your children!

As we talked, a woman pulled up to the opposite window.  I gestured toward her.  “Know what?  I’m going to share that guy’s good deed and buy her drink.  I think that’s the best way to thank him.” Nick agreed.  Crossing to the other window, he took her order and brought me the bill.  I paid and then, tea in hand, headed back to the office.  I felt really good.  As I drove, however, I got to thinking.  No stranger had ever bought me lunch before, but several have done thoughtful little things over the years, like opening doors when I’m struggling with a package, holding the elevator, or offering a compliment or cheery greeting.  While they might not seem significant, such small acts uplift the other person’s spirits.  These simple courtesies tell a person, “You matter.” Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.  Having grown up in a Christian home I had heard those words of Jesus many times; yet how often have I withheld common courtesy because I am having a bad day and can’t (or won’t) look beyond my own issues, or because I am just plain Kopping an attitude?  Maybe I can’t afford to buy everyone lunch, but I can certainly extend kindness.  I can say by my words and deeds, “You matter.”

In that light I’ve decided to make the following my daily prayer:  “Lord, help me treat others the way I would like to be treated, regardless of how I am treated in return.  Help me to look for at least one opportunity for an act of kindness today.”  And by living that way, mightn’t I make someone else’s day just a little bit better?

© Everthedreamer, 2020 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

Ocean Sunset

Ocean sunset 7

I’m staring at the most beautiful scene: A northern California shoreline at sunset. The sun hovers just above the waves, staining the heavens with brilliant shades of crimson and orange as it settles in for the night. Foam-topped waves tumble shoreward, churning and swirling among the smooth stones before pulling back for another run. Farther out, a jagged monolith juts out of the sea, black against the fiery backdrop, a lone gull perched on its top.

It’s only a picture, torn from last year’s calendar and tacked to my den wall. But I hear the ocean’s timeless roar, feel the brisk breeze on my face, and I remember a time when I stood on such a beach watching the sunset after an exhilarating day flying kites and running barefoot in the sand. For three glorious days I’d thrown off the shackles of adult obligations to embrace childhood again, reveling in the crisp autumn air of a nearly-empty beach and casting aside cell phone, laptop and wrist watch to commune solely with wind and waves and to hear my Creator’s still small voice.

That evening aroused many emotions: tranquility, serenity, awe and breathless wonder, and even some silliness as I contemplated the cloud of steam that should have erupted when the sun hit the ocean. As a child I actually believed that—until my parents finally told me, very matter-of-factly, that the sun does not drop into the ocean. A basic science class explaining the true nature of the solar system later confirmed their words. But I still think one needs to entertain some silliness once in a while. Everyone needs a little humor and levity. I certainly do.

That meeting of sun and sea made me consider another aspect of life: How often does it seem we tread dangerous waters while heading straight into a fire? I know that feeling, as do countless others. Those pounding waves and raging fires can crush and consume—or they can refine and strengthen. Fire and water play leading roles in my fantasy novels as both destroyers and refiners as, literally and figuratively, my heroes pass through both. What determines how you emerge? Partly who you are: your attitude toward life and people, and how you deal with circumstances. Mostly it is what—or Who—you worship. Years ago I chose to worship Jesus Christ. Does he remove the obstacles? No. Do bad things still happen to us? Yes. Does he intervene in our behalf? Yes, sometimes in ways we don’t expect or think to be right. And does he walk with us in trials, offering grace and comfort? Absolutely!

Sometimes as I gaze at that picture I envy that gull which, unfettered by schedules, deadlines, and the demands of life simply takes to the heavens at will. But there’s a place within me where my Creator lives, where I can lay aside my burdens, collect my thoughts, and talk to Him—and listen when He speaks to my heart. Likely I’ll never live near a beach—but Christ has prepared a place for me more wonderful than any place on this earth. And someday I may even revisit that beach, kick off my shoes, launch my kite and watch it soar among the gulls. In the meantime I cherish the truth that, whether in crushing waves or searing fire, my Savior is always with me.

Ocean sunset 4

© Everthedreamer, 2020 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

Reawakening Creativity

 

Reawakening

One Friday, in response to my company’s Summer Education challenge, I logged into their web portal to peruse the classes offered.  A taped SkillSoft seminar entitled, “Unthink:  Rediscover Your Creative Genius,” presented by Erik Wahl piqued my interest and I decided to give it a listen.  (Mr. Wahl has written a book by the same name, which I think is worth checking out.)  The seminar addressed reawakening the imagination and passion we possessed as children until, first school and then life constricted our creativity into “logic” and, in some cases, caused us to simply fold our wings and refuse to fly.

It certainly applied in my case.  I never wanted to be cooped up in an office, but the competition’s fierce, regardless of your chosen profession.  Self-employment proves especially tough, which is why I took the “safer” route writing computer code instead of fantasy.  Thirty years ago, “data processing” was the up and coming thing.  Computers still posed something of a mystery and required specialized teams to maintain them.  They were locked away in sophistically air-conditioned rooms because the machinery put out so much heat that, without a cooling system, you’d suffer major damage or even a fire.  I still remember my first visit to the computer center of a local trucking company while enrolled in an introductory computer class.  The computer itself was the length of the wall and sounded like an idling tractor.  Four people manned keypunch machines (this was in the 1970’s) while others walked around carrying big trays of cards.  Tape drives lined another wall, two big printers hammered out reports, and another machine trimmed the perforated edges off the fruit-striped paper the reports had printed on.  The flurry of programmers and technicians surrounding this beast made me think of worker bees attending the queen.

Barren Waste

Yes, computers were the Next Big Thing and should provide a steady paycheck.  Programming, however, demands LOGIC and holds no tolerance for anyone who colors the sun red, the sky yellow, and the grass blue (as I did back in the first grade).  I had to grind down the corners and rough edges of my thinking in order to cram myself, a square peg, into the round hole known as “business logic.”  It took a lot of work, but I somehow succeeded.  My creativity, however, suffered and thus I was eager to hear what Mr. Wahl had to say.  While these are not his words exactly, I think I caught the gist of what he said:

1)  Don’t be afraid to take a risk and don’t be afraid to fail.  To illustrate, he asked his audience how many could draw.  A few hesitant hands went up.  Mr. Wahl noted that, were he to ask a group of first-graders that question, every hand in the room would shoot up.  Instead of thinking, Oh, I can’t even draw a decent stick figure, children are eager to show what they can do.  But by adulthood we have suffered failures and encountered people whose abilities surpass ours.  In our eyes we pale by comparison, and so we’re embarrassed to display what we perceive to be pathetic or even ridiculous efforts.

2)  Become engaged.  Why do children pick up new languages faster than adults?  Many adults try to translate word for word, while children simply think in the new language and don’t realize how difficult it is.  Children adapt more easily than adults.  I have been especially constrained in this area.  My profession changed radically over the last thirty years.   We used to be “data processing.”  Now we are “information technology.”  As an IBM midrange programmer I worked on a “dumb terminal” until 1997, when I took a job at a company that interfaced its IBM midrange with windows servers.  Talk about culture shock!  But I had to adapt, and even attempted to learn “object oriented” languages, which is when I discovered what a migraine headache was.  These languages do not even resemble RPG.  Frustrated, I gave up and thus did not engage.

Neither had I embraced social media which, given what I want to accomplish, is absolutely necessary.  Writers need to network.  They need to market.  Social media enables both.  Facebook. . .Twitter. . .Pinterest. . .to me they look complicated and so I balk.  However, I must adapt in order to one day break out of programming and into full-time writing.  I must learn how to use the powerful tools available to me.  An honest assessment reveals that my lack of engagement stems partly from intimidation and partly from laziness.  This week, therefore, I resolve to sit down one evening, take a deep breath, and then log on and take the time to acquaint myself with at least one of these tools, after which I will dive in and set up an account.  In other words, stop thinking about how hard it looks and just do it!

Fear:  False evidence that appears real.  Fear kills performance.  Mr. Wahl made that point loud and clear.  We’ve all heard the story of the whipped puppy tied up in the back yard who, even after a rescuer unties him, continues to sit, cowering, too paralyzed with fear to move.  I think a lot of us get that way.  We hate our situation but, even when presented with the means to break free, don’t use them because we have settled into a dead-end rut that became our comfort zone.  Freedom requires change, and change makes us uncomfortable.  But did you ever notice that those who embrace change flourish?  They’re the folks who go places!  They’re the folks who soar!

Personally, I believe that a life without risks is never fully lived.  Engaging change involves risk, and while at first it seems disquieting—even frightening—change can also prove exciting and open the door to a vibrant, fulfilling life.  So. . .to quote a famous starship captain:  Engage!

Fantasy

© Everthedreamer, 2020 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

Living the Dream

Mt. Hood

I once believed that ‘living the dream’ meant acquiring all you ever hoped and yearned for, along with all the abundance life could offer.  The struggle was over.  Your ship had come in.  You had arrived!  But I discovered making that dream happen requires a lot of faith and work. It is a journey, not a destination.  Yet even though I don’t own a country estate or drive an expensive Land Cruiser I am loving the ride!

It started slowly: scattered ideas pecked out on my home computer every evening. As a 30-year computer programming veteran, one would think that, by the end of the day, I’d have had my fill of those temperamental beasts. Co-workers often asked why, after eight hours of crunching code, I would want to burn precious leisure time at another computer grinding out a story. At first, I answered (only half-jokingly) that I didn’t have a life and had decided to sit down and dream one up. But the truth is, I’ve always been a notorious daydreamer with a vivid imagination. Writing is fun!  It’s an escape.  Like a time machine, a good story sweeps writer and reader alike to a whole different world.  And when the Muse starts talking I start typing.

Early in life I knew I would become an author. Between grade school assignments I penned stories, and to my delight was often asked to read them to the class. In a second grade operetta, my character was the only one that didn’t have a song, so I composed one.  High school, however, brought other interests and my dream took a back seat.

Then in 1988 the bug bit hard. I started a western based on an incident in my dad’s life when he was ten.  Too often when I sat down to write, however, my mind became as blank as the page I was staring at.  A community college writing professor provided the solution.  The first ten minutes of every class we HAD to write. If no ideas came, we were to write, “I can’t think of a single thing, but the prof says we have to write about something for ten minutes.”  Ideas would come, he promised, and he was right!  I sat down at that computer every evening, and soon what should have been a short story became a 300-page novel. The plot posed some problems, so I put it aside for later. A new story had presented itself and I eagerly set to work.

AllCoversBlack

Lord of the Rings had just come out on DVD. I loved the books, but found the movie SENSATIONAL (AND packing a lot more action)! Somewhere between The Two Towers and The Return of the King I envisioned a young woman in a blue cotton dress standing outside a ramshackle cottage. Dry grass surrounded her, and behind her an old dead tree raised gnarled white branches to the sky. She stared into the sunset, contemplating where she could go. Danger lurked along every path, and none of the surrounding kingdoms welcomed strangers. I didn’t know whether she was simply unhappy or in mortal danger. But as the plot and her character developed, I discovered the tragedy she had endured and how desperately wicked were the demons assailing her.  A story of human resilience, faith, and victory emerged, set in a beautiful enchanted world full of intriguing characters. Two other novels completed the DARK LORDS OF EPTHELION trilogy, and then I wrote two others, ghost stories arising from the arson fire of a local landmark. (I even became an integral part of that landmark’s restoration.) The true account of my struggle and recovery from crippling panic attacks followed, and now I’m working on a children’s series and another novel.

I’m learning a lot on this journey and am grateful to friends, family, and fellow authors for their help and encouragement.  It hasn’t come about quite the way I’d hoped but I am living my dream and I’ve learned some valuable life lessons. If I could offer one bit of advice it would be this:  Don’t be afraid to tackle something you’ve yearned to do. Whatever your dream, pursue it!  You’ll be amazed by what you accomplish.

Timberline Trail1

© Everthedreamer, 2020 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

2020: A Brave New Year

Sunlit Path1

Another year has come and gone.  Having completed the second book of my BELLA ghost story series, I finished out 2019 flushed with success and eager to tackle new projects.  My mind teemed with images for Bella’s continuing saga, along with a slew of ideas for two new novels and a children’s series.  Inspired and revitalized, I couldn’t wait to get started.  In addition, I’d finally discovered an exercise regimen I could stick with and already saw results.   At last, I thought, I have my act together.  Bring it on, 2020!

I entered the new year with my usual mix of anticipation and dogged resolve, making resolutions I knew would crash and burn like the Hindenburg before the month was out.  However, it’s a new year, a new beginning.  With lots of determination and hard work, 2020 should bring even more ideas, soaring book sales, and a slim new me, bursting with energy and looking younger than I did twenty years ago!

Cloud over Eden

Ever the dreamer.  January 2 found me brooding and depressed.  Storm clouds gathered over my tranquil garden as Reality reared her ugly head.  My books do not, and perhaps never will, provide a living.  Thank heaven for the budding eBay store and monthly pension that are putting food on the table.  And the slim, energetic new me?  Last month I pored over pictures of myself twenty years ago, when hiking and climbing in the Cascade range kept the pounds off and the waistline trim.  But I have to face the fact I’m older now, the back is going, and I can’t move fast enough anymore to burn off those chocolate chip cookies like I did when I was twenty.

I set those lofty goals with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek; yet I didn’t deserve to see them shot down like clay pigeons on a firing range.  Scores of blog posts attest to the fact that writing is not the fast path to financial independence.   I knew that, even as I took those first faltering steps into indie publishing.  Writing a book consumes a lot of time.  You face fierce competition, and even after you’ve edited and rewritten, polished and refined, it’s never quite enough. Your work may never be discovered or appreciated.  Only a fortunate few attain those coveted publishing contracts and six-figure advances.  Self-publishing costs money that most authors likely will never recover.

So why even bother?

Because my fertile imagination explodes with plot after plot peopled with fascinating characters itching to tell me their stories.  Because colorful and fantastic worlds as yet nonexistent await my creative command.  Because, when I sit down at my desk with a cup of hot cocoa on a blustery winter night and put images into words, I come alive.  Because I love to write!

I’ve made new resolutions, or rather, redefined the old ones.  No, I can’t move as fast as I did twenty years ago—but I can still move and I’m sticking with my regimen.  Last week I read about a ninety-something-year-old woman who runs marathons!   If she can do that, I decided, I should be able to whip myself back into good enough shape to climb Mt. Hood again.   As for writing:  For starters, I need to stop making unfair comparisons.  After releasing Warrior Queen of Ha-Ran-Fel, I fretted and stewed while watching the ratings.  I didn’t enjoy writing anymore and became so despondent I couldn’t even think.  But then I realized I was comparing myself to authors I met at conferences, most of whom specialized in romance or suspense and had written several books, whereas I had just finished my first one.  I also realized I needed to develop a marketing plan and learn to use Amazon’s tools.  Finally, I needed to relax, enjoy my craft, continue to refine my writing style, and just turn everything over to the Lord.

Tree in Crack

Bloom where you are planted, I’ve always been told.  Nature abounds with creatures that, had they any say concerning their location, would probably demand a transfer.  Some die while others overcome and thrive.  Those who thrive bless and beautify their world.  I personally see life as a journey down an inviting path.  While you don’t know what awaits you around the next bend, you look forward to it and even quicken your pace as the bend comes into view.

Some time ago I put together a collage of some of my favorite places.  My photography skills need some honing (which I also intend to do this year), but the words on the glass reflect the way I viewed life then and intend to view it in 2020:  Live every day to the fullest.  Dance like no one is watching.  Love like you have never been hurt.  Sing like no one is listening.  To that I would add, write as if the whole world will read your story.  Give your readers your best effort; they deserve it!

WordsToLiveBy

I can’t wait to see what 2020 brings!  And in the meantime I’ll remain. . .ever hopeful and Ever the Dreamer!

© Everthedreamer, 2020 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

The Meaning of Christmas

Lighted Church

Like so many others, I got caught up in the busy-ness of the holiday season.  Black Friday kicked off the Christmas countdown with its jam-packed stores and traffic jams.  Since then it’s hurry hurry hurry, run run run!  Certainly no room for peace on earth, goodwill toward men!

Last night while browsing brainy quotes for my Twitter feed I came across these gems that reminded me of what Christmas truly means,  I would like to share them with you and I hope they bless you as much as they blessed me:

The Christian faith can never be separated from the soil of sacred events, from the choice made by God, who wanted to speak to us, to become man, to die and rise again, in a particular place and at a particular time.
Pope Benedict XVI

And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.   Jesus Christ

Wreath Nativity

Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government is upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.   Isaiah 9:6

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3: 16,17

Lighted Angel

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.  Isaiah 9:2

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?
Gilbert K. Chesterton

Wise Men

Finding the real joy of Christmas comes not in the hurrying and the scurrying to get more done, nor is it found in the purchasing of gifts. We find real joy when we make the Savior the focus of the season.
Thomas S. Monson

There is no better time than now, this very Christmas season, for all of us to rededicate ourselves to the principles taught by Jesus the Christ. It is the time to love the Lord, our God, with all our heart – and our neighbors as ourselves.
Thomas S. Monson

What will you and I give for Christmas this year? Let us in our lives give to our Lord and Savior the gift of gratitude by living His teachings and following in His footsteps.
Thomas S. Monson

Magi crib blue silhouette

The supernatural birth of Christ, his miracles, his resurrection and ascension, remain eternal truths, whatever doubts may be cast on their reality as historical facts.
David Friedrich Strauss

The real evidence for Jesus and Christianity is in how Jesus and the Christianity based on him manifest themselves in the lives of practicing Christians.
Lionel Blue

And, of course, Gratitude figures into the equation in a big way:

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.
Zig Ziglar

Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.
Brian Tracy

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
William Arthur Ward

When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in his own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.
Joseph B. Wirthlin

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.
Denis Waitley

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Never lose the childlike wonder. Show gratitude… Don’t complain; just work harder… Never give up.
Randy Pausch

At the age of 18, I made up my mind to never have another bad day in my life. I dove into a endless sea of gratitude from which I’ve never emerged.
Patch Adams

The dominant characteristic of an authentic spiritual life is the gratitude that flows from trust – not only for all the gifts that I receive from God, but gratitude for all the suffering. Because in that purifying experience, suffering has often been the shortest path to intimacy with God.
Brennan Manning

Everything we do should be a result of our gratitude for what God has done for us.
Lauryn Hill

God’s blessings upon you during this holiday season and throughout the coming year!

Ocean sunset 4

Rise Above It

 

Altitude

Just wanted to pass along this thought from Cara Alwill Leyba:

Don’t get angry or enraged or insulted.  Rise above the [nonsense].  Flick your light back on and shine it brighter than ever, and fall so deeply in love with your own life that anyone who tried to wrong you becomes a laughable, ridiculous, distant memory.

Wishing all of you hope, encouragement, love, and peace!

Overcoming Panic Attacks

MiniPanicCover

 

Don’t tell God how big your storm is; tell the storm how big your God is!

As of October 4 my book, Overcoming Panic Attics: Emerging from Darkness into His Marvelous Light, is available on Amazon.

This was probably one of the hardest books I will ever write, not because of length or complicated subject matter but because, in writing it, I revisited one of the most miserable, isolated and devastating periods of my life.  For fifteen years—nearly half of my twenties and all of my thirties—I suffered crippling panic attacks so severe they bordered on agoraphobia.  None of the conventional treatments helped.  Drugs rendered me foggy and nonfunctional.  Therapy left me confused and depressed.  Well-meaning family and friends urged me to focus on other things, or to just make up my mind not to let panic get the upper hand.  They offered sound advice, but my malady bound me so tightly it completely dominated my life.  I could see nothing else—and no way out.

I am not an authority on panic disorders.  I hold no degrees nor have I studied the subject in any depth.  This book details my personal struggles, the depression and escalating despair that nearly drove me to suicide, and then God’s miraculous intervention.  He literally pulled me out of the darkness and into His marvelous light, setting my feet back on the path of life.  I can personally attest that Jesus Christ is alive, He is King of kings and Lord of lords, and He grants every born-again Christian authority, in His name, over the demonic spirits that assail us.  Looking back, I firmly believe God intentionally pulled every crutch out from under me in order to bring me to Himself.  And I am grateful!  With fifteen of the best years of my life a ruin, I never believed the rest of it could amount to anything.  With God, however, nothing is impossible!  Joel 2:25 says, in part, “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar. . .”   I believe God did restore those fifteen years.  Since Jesus drove out that spirit of fear I have enjoyed more happiness and fulfillment than I ever thought possible.  That is why I wrote this book: to share what I learned and to lead others to Jesus, who is greater than anything that can ever come against us.  He is available to all!

The Kindle version is available for free for this entire week, and there is also a paperback version.

© Everthedreamer, 2019 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

Vanquishing Panic Attacks

Ryadok

Once you emerge from an unpleasant chapter in life, it is best to go your way and never look back–right?  After overcoming the demons, discovering an abundance you never dreamed you could have, and leaving the ghosts of those wasted, unhappy years so far behind you no longer see them anymore, why revisit them?  What good could that possibly do?  Sometimes, a lot of good.

I had endured 16 years of crippling and debilitating panic attacks that claimed almost half of my twenties and all of my thirties, attacks so severe they bordered on agoraphobia.  I would have gladly sequestered myself, except I had no one willing to support me.  I functioned, if you could call it that, in the shadows, restricting grocery runs to all-night stores in the wee hours when the stores stood largely empty, and only attending functions if I could find a seat near the door so I could beat a hasty retreat in the face of an oncoming attack.  I never dated.  I had no social life.  In fact, I had no life at all–just a pseudo-existence filled with loneliness and misery.  And no one understood.

Miraculously, I functioned well enough to hold a job as a computer programmer, tucked away in a protective cocoon hidden in the bowels of the corporate office.  I brought my own lunch and ate at my desk, arriving early and staying late to avoid as much traffic as possible.  I tried counseling, pills–nothing worked.  The counselors left me feeling worse, while the pills made me foggy and less functional than ever.

One night I was forced to leave early.  A road rage incident in rush hour traffic propelled me straight home and into my bedroom bent on committing suicide.  In that dark room, backed into a corner, I came to terms with how I’d been living.  God asked some pointed questions, not audibly, but through thoughts put into my mind.  I confessed my sin and gave my heart and life to Jesus Christ.  In the days that followed God began to move and the miracles began.  The chains fell away and for the first time in years I could breathe.  In June of 1992 the panic attacks were forever vanquished and my life restored.

3 Yellow Leaves Over Pond

After publishing BELLA I intended to start formatting a children’s book but for some reason felt compelled to revisit this chapter and to write the story of my journey out of darkness into light, out of bondage into perfect freedom with my sanity intact.  The story ends joyfully.  How can I NOT tell it?  And if it helps draw others to freedom and new life, it will have all been worth it.  Looking back, I don’t even consider it an ordeal anymore, but simply another leg of my life’s journey.

Today I start organizing my thoughts and notes for this amazing story.  As the book comes together, I will share on this blog.  Often what helps a suffering person most is access to someone who not only sympathizes, but can empathize with what they are enduring.  Hopefully, I can be that person.

© Everthedreamer, 2019 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.


 

What are you made of?

Cloud over Eden

No one likes adversity. I know I don’t. When storm clouds gather over my peaceful world I tend to pray for God’s divine winds to drive them away.  Yet nothing makes one appreciate the good in life nor reveals the true character more than fate tossing a monkey wrench into one’s well-ordered routine. Such a monkey wrench smacked me square in the teeth and gave me a profound respect that remains to this day for anyone suffering disability. Early in 2010 I noticed a nagging pain in my neck and right shoulder—not an uncommon thing for someone who spends most days staring at a computer screen. I sought the usual remedies: massage, therapeutic massage, chiropractic—even acupuncture. The pain only worsened. Over-the-counter remedies offered no relief. I began losing motion in my right arm and the pain from laying on it or positioning it wrong kept me awake. Any relief gained from whatever treatment I tried vanished by the time I got home. After a few months I had raw, burning pain that never stopped and I could no longer reach around behind me or lift my arm above my head. I went to a surgeon.

Severe degeneration in my neck had pinched a nerve. In December 2010 I underwent a cervical fusion to fuse my C3 through C7 vertebrae. The surgery went well, but the following morning I could not move my right arm. I had been told that this condition, called C5 palsy, sometimes occurred but usually passed with time. After days and then weeks passed with no improvement I became depressed. I told myself this nerve had been under tremendous pressure for months and simply needed time to heal. You really find out what you are made of during something like this and, sadly, I proved myself a pathetic wimp. What if that arm never came back? What I should have considered, however, was that my mind was still sharp; my dominant arm had taken a nap but the other still functioned; I could still walk; and, to a lot of people’s dismay, I could still talk. I was not disabled by any means! More important, I was blessed with a wonderfully supportive family who rallied around me. I especially appreciated my mother’s care, encouragement, and prayers. I had the care of an excellent doctor. Each day I did the exercises he gave me and tried to move my arm. Finally, one evening in late February I lifted my hand and forearm! I could bend the elbow! I couldn’t lift the elbow but that didn’t matter. My stricken limb was waking up. Five days later I raised the entire arm and after three months of physical therapy regained the full use of it.

I wish I could offer my experience as an inspiration, but I can’t. I was inconvenienced for a time but by God’s grace recovered. Had my arm remained nonfunctional I would have adjusted eventually. But would I have glorified God the way I did when He restored me? Would I have glorified Him at all? The truly inspiring people are those who, although permanently debilitated, not only adjust but surmount their obstacles and then reach out to others. I did some research and discovered the following: a survivor of a land mine who now helps craft artificial limbs; a man left a quadriplegic by muscular dystrophy who helps people with disabilities give back by organizing events where disabled volunteers put together care packages for needy children; a climber who, rendered a paraplegic after a fall, designed a machine that enabled, not only himself, but other paraplegics to continue their passion. I personally knew a man who, wracked by muscular dystrophy, spent his last years in a nursing home. George could turn his head and had almost imperceptible movement in the little finger of his left hand; otherwise, he was totally paralyzed. Yet who did the staff go to when they needed cheering up? George! He entertained everyone with jokes and stories but more important, testified of God’s love and goodness. These people faced inconceivable adversity but looked beyond themselves and extended hope, compassion, and purpose to others. They have bettered the world.

Have I the fortitude—and do I care enough—to do the same?

Ocean sunset 4

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