Thursday, December 22, 2011

My "Must Reads" List - Not Necessarily a Top Ten and Not Necessarily in a Particular Order

That would take too much brain power - and I'm running low on that these days.

I've had a few people asking for book recommendations and since I've got a little (read - a LOT) of time on my hands, I thought I'd put a little "Must Read" book list together.  Please note:  I am on a LOT of pain medication so my brain is pretty fuzzy these days.  I guarantee you I will leave books out - I just hope I end up spelling everything correctly.  :)

Disclaimer:  Right now I am giving the Twilight series a go.  It is mindless, poorly written and I would NEVER personally recommend them to anyone.  But I'm having fun reading them.. :)

1.  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  Mark bought me this book for Christmas last year and I put it on a shelf and forgot about it.  Then, Molly told me about this amazing book she was devouring and said that I MUST read it and when I mentioned it to Mark he kindly reminded me that he had given it to me LAST YEAR.  Oops.  It's fantastic, people.  A true story about a WW2 airman whose plane went down over the Pacific Ocean.  He floated on a raft (with no supplies) for close to 50 days and when he finally reached land, he was captured by the Japanese.  READ THIS BOOK.

2.  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  Favorite book of all time.  You've probably all read it, but if you haven't don't want another minute.  Get it.  Read it.  

3.  The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  This is teen fiction, but it's way more than that.  It's a statement on society.  And it's fun.  And it's GREAT discussion material.

4.  Run by Ann Patchett.  I have read this book twice in the last couple of years.  I think it's a beautiful story.  It's set in Boston and it's about family, grief and loss, hope and the power love has to heal.

5.  Watership Down by Richard Adams.  This is fantasy and is SOOOOO good.  I discovered this book in 9th grade.  It's full of adventure and is just a smart book.  

6.  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.  Depression era (I think - can't remember) story about a girl living in poverty, coming of age, love and family.  One of my favorites ever.

7.  Anything by Charles Dickens.  I love him.  So much.  (except for Bleak House... it's appropriately titled)

8.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  OMG - how I LOVED this book!!!  Couldn't put it down.  Post WW2 story about a British island (occupied by the Nazis) that is very much removed from all that is going on after the war - and how a writer from London comes to be there - and what happens when those two worlds collide.  Love it, love it, love it.

9.  Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  Do I really need to explain why this is a MUST READ?  Seriously.  If you've never read it, put it on your bucket list.

10.  Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Beautiful.  Sad.  IMPORTANT.  Read it.

This is a start, friends.  You've probably read all these.  Most of them have been around for ages.  And yes, I'm old school.  I'm not much for pop fiction.  More of a classics kind of girl.  But these are all wonderful.  If you want more suggestions, I'm just a Facebook message away.  :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Friends in Low Places

This recovery journey is HARD.  I thought I was prepared.  I did so much reading online and in books about what to expect after a surgery like this one and I really thought I understood what I was getting into.


Not a clue.

And what has been most surprising to me is how completely dependent I have had to be in absolutely every area of my life.

For the first eight or nine days I couldn't do anything on my own.

Not.  One.  Thing.

Now I'm able to do a little bit without help and it's so liberating!!!

I am one of the most independent people on the planet.

Not kidding.

So this dependence has been a bit of a drag.

But at the same time, I am experiencing love in a whole new way.

Mark has been so gentle.  So patient.  So kind.  He has taken over so many of my daily tasks as well as taken care of the majority of my daily needs - all with a grace and strength that astounds me.  In the hospital, as he was helping me with some laborious and painful task, Mark looked me in the eyes and said, "I can totally do this for you in your old age."  It was a beautiful, beautiful moment.  And I was so humbled by his sincerity.  And I realized just how much he loves me.

My mom has prepared food, helped me shower, made lunches for my children, helped my children with school work/homework, cleaned out my refrigerator and my pantry, done laundry... and on and on and on.  And she's done it with a bounce in her step and a smile on her face.  She's been tireless.  I'm amazed.

My friends....WOW.

Here's a list of just some of the things they have done:

1.  Arrived at the hospital the day of my surgery at 6:15AM and stayed there until I was settled comfortably in my room after surgery - which was somewhere around 4:00PM (I was a little out of it at the time).  They brought coffee, lunch, dinner.  Kept me company when Mark went home to shower and see the children.

2.  Didn't laugh at me or tease me when I found out, much to my dismay, that I was going home with a walker.  (Well, most of my friends didn't laugh or tease...)

3.  Went to the Relax the Back store and bought me a bed wedge to make my long days in bed more comfortable... and wouldn't let me pay for it.

4.  Brought me cookies.  Lots and LOTS of cookies.

5.  Went to Sam's for me.

6.  Went to the grocery store for me MULTIPLE TIMES.

7.  Did my Christmas shopping.  Wrapped my Christmas presents.

8.  Picked up my daughter's contacts at the eye clinic.

9.  Put together a spreadsheet and organized help for me in my house every single day until Mark is off for Christmas.

10.  Picked up my big boys for play dates.

11.  Took my baby boy on fun outings.

12.  Brought me a bag full of movies, candy and trail mix so that I would never lack for entertainment.

13.  Made me homemade Pumpkin Pie ice cream.  Divine.

14.  Brought my family a meal.  Or more than one meal!

15.  Picked my daughter up from rehearsal EVERY SINGLE DAY and brought her home.

16.  Took a half a day shift or a day long shift here at the house... cleaning, preparing food, taking care of children, changing poopy diapers, baking banana bread and muffins for me.

17.  Spent time with me talking, crying, laughing, beating me at cards, and encouraging me to keep the faith on the hardest of days.

18.  Chatted with me on Facebook, sent me prayers and words of encouragement online that lifted my spirits.

19.  Cracked jokes with me via text, Facebook or email - that made me laugh OUT LOUD and we all know that laughter is the best medicine.

20.  Brought me lattes and Cherry Limeades.

Really, I could go on and on.  I am so humbled and grateful.

I am in a low place right now, but I'm not there alone.  And all of these expressions of love during this time remind me that God is near to me.

And I'm so thankful for that.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm Being Watched

So it's probably going to be more like a "Two Year Bible Reading Plan."

At this rate, I'm thinking I'll feel pretty good if I can read through the Bible in a decade.

I may even need to change the name of my blog from "I'm Steele Standing" to "I'm Steele Sitting."

I'm not doing much standing these days.

Finally had that back surgery I've been avoiding all these years.

Good times.

I am now pretty much totally dependent on others for absolutely everything.

Like I said... good times.

I know there is much to be learned during this season.  I'm up for learning it.  But the truth is, right now I'm so hopped up on pain medications and so overwhelmed by even the smallest of tasks, that digging into the spiritual applications of what I'm going through is pretty much out of the question.

I'm just trying to get through each day with some semblance of dignity and grace.

I know I'm being watched.

My children are watching and learning from me - about suffering, about pain, about the limitations that eventually come our way and how to deal with them, about letting go.

I hope and pray that I can show them how to hope in the midst of struggle.

I hope and pray that God will make Himself more known to all of us through this season.

And I look forward to standing again soon.