Monday, January 25, 2010

Change of plans!

After a master’s degree, a Ph.D. seemed a logical next step in my goal to encourage others. But instead, my husband went to law school, and I went to work to earn what was termed the “PHT” degree. “Putting Hubby Through!” My choice at the time was either to help Rich or pursue my degree and eat cereal three meals a day. I knew when my mom skipped college, she ended up feeling inferior to my dad who was a university professor. Even with just two of my eventual four children in tow, I felt a nagging inside to go back to school. I finally put the matter to rest by throwing myself into mothering and homemaking and letting the chips fall where they may. Gradually, the joy of that job won out over the frustrations of not going to school. I did what mattered most to me, tending to the mundane, unpaid, and endless duties of being a wife and mom. Now and then I imagined what doors would have opened to me as a Ph.D. Some days I thought about resigning.

Looking back, what mattered most to me paid off. My kids didn’t cost me half as much as they taught me! I ended up encouraging others through a radio show, writing, and speaking, rather than as a family therapist. Interestingly enough, my mom’s grandchildren, my children, were the ones who affirmed her because they mattered most to her. They didn’t see her academically. They saw and responded to her love for them.

Whatever your strivings this New Year, it’s important to avoid putting off your good intentions to write, call, or visit someone. Begin to mend fences; right wrongs, even take a risk you otherwise wouldn’t. Say “no,” if necessary, so you can say, “yes” to something else, consider the greater good over and against having it your way. A change in plans may be a detour, but it doesn’t mean you won’t reach your best destination, which is the place God has in mind for your talents!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Part Two

My daughter fully intended to stay with me until I went into surgery, but hospital delays forced her exit to go pick up her preschooler. It was kind of weird when each person from intake to pre-op to recovery asked, “Who is with you today?” My husband was tending to another situation. I considered saying, “Just God and me. That makes four of us!” But they may have put me in a different ward! To tell you the truth, it was just God and me, and I was so aware of that. If I hadn’t been, I think I would have freaked out. I mean, they do use heavy instruments and brute force to take your knee out and put a titanium one in. Recovery is said to be more demanding than hip replacement. I could have thought of all that stuff. But instead I was thanking God for a great surgeon and the ability to complete this procedure and, hopefully, regain the normal use of my new knee soon.

I prayed for an elderly woman in the curtained off area next to me who was totally alone, hoping she was okay. I was awed by the precision and efficiency of this huge teaching hospital staff. They would come and go, politely and caringly asking patients how they were doing and answering questions they might have had. I prayed for everything to go well that day for all of them and their patients. And with complete calm, I went under with a spinal. When I came to, it was over.

Now, I can’t lie and say it was/is all a piece of cake. There were unpleasant and painful moments. Six weeks later, discomfort continues to varying degrees. My range of motion excites the physical therapists. I overdo it because I think I can and then pay for it with exhaustion! But the take-away value of this experience, in addition to securing a new knee that will enhance my quality of life whether I can rush the net again or not, is that I walked into the surgery solo. That is remarkable to me. I’m mentioning it, not because it’s newsworthy or a huge story, but because I know somebody reading this could be facing something huge or scary all alone.

If that’s you, I want you to know we’re not ever alone, ever. I know this, believe it with my whole heart, and assure people of it in view of a diagnosis, relationship crash, or job loss. But when push comes to shove and I stand before my firing squad, as it were, by myself, what comfort and blessed assurance it is to know for sure that God is with me. It’s just one more way He proves Himself powerful on our behalf, showing up like that, being with us always to the end of the world, just as He promises. Whatever comes your way this next year, whether you stand up to it alone or with the support of others, you will make it. God is with you, looking out for your best interest, guiding you with His loving provision -- seen or unseen. We sang “O Come O Come Immanuel” at Christmas. Immanuel means “God with us!” How sweet the sound! How sure the promise! Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


If you’d told me I would go solo into total knee replacement from waiting room to pre-op to surgery itself, I would have shuddered at the thought. In fact, before my only other major surgery years ago, I begged God to spare me the knife. I was terrified. When it was required to save my life, I submitted and learned a huge lesson in facing my fears in total weakness, relying on the Lord’s strength to carry me through. The Bible verse I clung to at that time was, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7).

But this time something had changed in my fear ratio, without my knowing it. Physically, too much tennis and other factors over the years tore my ACL and meniscus. I ignored it, used non-invasive techniques to soothe it for a while, and then hit the wall. The toughest part for me was admitting this was it. What limp? So the pain keeps me up at night! I had to part with my knee. Not sure what happened. Both parents had good knees. My dad was beating me at singles when he was 75! But my cartilage was pretty much gone, and I had no choice.

I prayed about it, of course, always open to a miracle. I mainly asked for things to fall into place and they did. Friends referred me to an outstanding orthopedic physician/surgeon who actually designs knee replacements. The timing was perfect. My producer, Christy, is expecting her third child in January, so we doubled up on radio show production to be able to both take time off.

That rigorous routine probably offset some surgery angst. I also sought out people who'd had total knee replacements, observing that those with the best results were tall skinny men! Our kids and their families came home for a great Thanksgiving weekend, including a 74-degree day at the St. Louis Zoo! In church on Sunday I felt peace about the surgery. The kids all left. I washed and ironed and put beds and tablecloths back in place. I worked on Monday, stayed at my daughter’s house and had her drop me off at the hospital the next morning.

We interrupt this program for a quick commercial break! The first Woman to Woman® show this month was my chat with Ruth Koch about adjusting to change in our lives. Pick up her keen insights to send you into the New Year with your eyes wide open! Come back later for the rest of this surgery story.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Meet Dr. Kevin Leman

Psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman has been bringing his relationship expertise and unique way of lightening up any situation with humor to listeners of Woman to Woman® for years! So last November, when I was speaking in Tucson, his hometown, I stopped by an event he was keynoting just to say, “hi.” I was struck by his persona in the large auditorium where about 100 women gathered to hang on every word, get his autograph, and buy his books. What really impressed me, beyond his personal attention to their questions, was the fact that this man speaks to 15,000 women in some settings, is a New York Times bestselling author who’s written 35 books about relationships, and he’s spending an entire day with 100 women. That’s the kind of guy he is, real and unimpressed with himself. He sees a need and tries to meet it. And every single time he brings us just the information we need to energize us with genuinely useful answers to our dilemmas. Thanks, Dr. Leman, for the great example of servant leadership! Enjoy our visit together at the Woman to Woman mic as Dr. Leman helps us simplify what we consider impossible about our men.