Tuesday, June 30, 2009

One Day...Two Steps

Over the course of our journey together Paula and I have passed several milestones together. We had our first surgeon's consultation together and our preop nutrition class together. Since she's had her surgery first and mine is next week we are on different paths for a while.

Today we each took a key step. This was the day that Paula started phase 3 of her nutritional recovery from surgery. For the first time since June 12 she was able to eat something besides liquids. She had a scrambled egg and some cottage cheese for breakfast. She now has to concentrate on eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, and not drinking 30 minutes before, during or 30 minutes after her meals. Consuming at least 60 grams of protein and drinking at least 64 oz of water each day is now her nutritional goal.

For me today was my last day before I start my 5 day preoperative liquid diet. I tried my best not to have a "last meal" mentality during the day but I did eat a couple of things I know I will miss not having for a while.

For lunch I had pizza from my favorite place in the mall, Sabbaros. For dinner I had chicken fingers from Zaxby's. The only other indulgence I allowed myself was a chocolate malt from Culver's. Theirs are the best in town.

So as I write this at 10:45 PM Paula has had her first full day of the "blended foods" part of her new culinary habit. I have have had my last big meal. I will probably eat some kind of snack in the next hour just for old times sake. Then tomorrow it's a "full liquid" diet. The next step on my way to surgery. It won't be long now

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pastor Ed & Diane; We'll miss you.

Yesterday at the end of our church's morning worship service an announcement was made that caught Paula and me off guard. Our music pastor, Ed McGinnis,has resigned his position effective the end of August.

Ed and Diane are wonderful Christian people. They have been active and influential members of our church since they began attending nearly 4 years ago. Not only have they been active in many church ministries they have hosted several canasta tournaments, a Superbowl party and other fellowship events at their home as well.

They recently blessed Paula by letting her borrow their treadmill so she can start walking inside during the hot summer days. They even delivered it and helped move it to a room in the back of the house.

The music ministry at our church has grown under Ed's leadership. The praise team has grown to include 3 or 4 different groups who take turns leading worship each Sunday. The choir has grown in both numbers, spiritually and in their relationships with each other as Christian brothers and sisters. The Easter and Christmas cantatas have been better and better each year.

The solo singing ministry of the church has grown as well. Ed has always encouraged the people involved in his ministry to step out and sing a "special" during the Sunday morning service. I can think of at least half a dozen or more people who have sung songs prompted by Ed offering them the opportunity and his encouragement.

This is where his ministry has been a blessing to Paula and me. With Ed's encouragement I have seen Paula's passion for singing return to being an active force in her life. She has grown so much as a result of the preparation, performance and message of the songs she's sung on Sunday mornings.

I too have been given opportunities to sing songs that I've always wanted to sing in church. This coming Sunday I'm getting to sing one of my all time favorite gospel songs. Ed's been helpful in any way he could be not only with my solos but with my ventriloquist performances and my children's sermons as well.

As a matter of fact Ed encouraged me to pursue dramatic and light comedy presentations on Sunday mornings. That's an opportunity I never took advantage of. Now that he's leaving I'm wondering if the chance has passed me by. Or perhaps this is a sign that I should start working on getting it done in the near future.

Ed and Diane have recently found out that their 2 daughters will each have their first child by early next year. Both of the daughters live in Florida. The McGinnis family is a very close family. I have only seen them together as a family briefly on a couple of occasions but you can feel the genuine closeness of each member to the other. So it's really not that surprising that they have decided to move back to Florida to be close to their soon to be born grand babies.

Looking on the bright side of things, having friends who live in Orlando Florida (and we've already discussed our going to visit them) close to Disney World might not be a bad thing.

Paula and I wish the Ed and Diane all the best and pray that God will work mightily through them wherever He leads them in their future ministry. God Bless you, Ed and Diane. We'll miss you.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Billy Mays Is NOT "Here"

Every commercial he made started with this line: "Billy Mays here for..." Whether it was a commercial for Oxy Clean, Orange Glow, The Awesome Auger or Mighty Putty; it was always the same line.

Recently I'd come to admire Billy Mays. I hadn't given him much thought until I saw him on "The Tonight Show" a couple of months ago. I found out that he started out working as a salesman on the boardwalk in Atlantic City (just like Ed McMahon) and has worked hard to get to where he is today. I then started watching his reality show,Pitchmen, on the Discovery channel. He became one of my favorite famous people. In my mind I told myself, "I'd like to meet him someday."

Billy Mays, along with his partner, Anthony " Sully" Sullivan, were in the business of making "immediate response" commercials for products invented by the every day Joe. His booming voice, energy, enthusiasm, and blue shirt and khaki pants uniform made his commercials memorable and effective.

Sadly, this afternoon I learned that Billy Mays is not "Here" anymore. He was found dead in
his home by his wife this morning. He was only 50 years old a littel more than a year older than me. His death shocks me more than any of the other recent celebrities because he actually had a presence in my life.

Farrah Fawcett had cancer, Ed McMahon was "getting up there" in age and had health problems over the last few years. Michael Jackson was an icon but out of the public eye for a long time prior to his sudden death.

Billy Mays came into my home on a regular basis every Wednesday or Sunday through my TV
screen with the possibility of one of his commercials coming on at any time.

While I am saddened that more than likely all of these creations of God made their way into eternity without accepting His gift of Salvation through Jesus Christ; these celebrity deaths bring to light the fact that no matter who you are there's always the possibility that at any given moment your life here on earth may come to an end.

I will miss Billy Mays and my heartaches that he left this world at such a young age and without being a born again child of God. But it just serves to awaken in me an awareness of how urgent it is to let those I know and love about the importance of accepting the gospel and becoming a Christian before it's too late.

I've got to do a better job at sharing the gospel with the people in my life.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pre Op Lessons & A Summer Time Treat

It's still over a week before my surgery but already I am learning some lessons that will be of value to me post op.

First of all, for some reason, peanut butter has started to "disagree with me." It doesn't make me nauseous or my stomach upset but it has begun causing extremely unpleasant lower digestive tract issues if you know what I mean. The last 3 or 4 time I've eaten peanut butter 5 or 6 hours later I find myself regretting it in a physically painful way.

This is something that's only supposed to happen with certain foods after my gastric by pass surgery. I guess I'm getting a preview so I will learn how to change my behavior to avoid the things I know my body doesn't need. Not being able to eat peanut butter is a big deal for me. I really loved the stuff. However apparently it no longer likes me. The only other food I've ever had problems like this with is coffee. Everyone who knows me knows that I am not a coffee drinker.

On a more positive note I want to send up a prayer of thanksgiving to The Lord for his creation of Bing cherries. That's what I call them. The more generic name for them here in Kentucky is "dark cherries". They are only in season for about 2 or 3 months during the summer but they are by FAR my favorite fruit.

While I won't be able to eat them after my surgery I will probably be in a position to at least try them by the time they come around next year. That makes me very happy. :)

I have such a passion for this fruit that I always tell people that in heaven I'm going to have a Bing cherry tree planted right next to my recliner in the living room of my mansion. Of course it will always be producing fruit.

While I have really enjoyed eating these cherries every summer since I was a kid; this summer I am celebrating not only their wonderful flavor but the generosity of the One and Only God of the Universe who loves me so much that He has given me the gift of these sweet delicious natural bite size pieces of fruit. Thank You Lord. It's wonderful to be a child of The King.

Before I end this post I would like to wish my sister, Peggy and her husband, Gene a happy wedding anniversary. If memory serves me right this is their 38th anniversary. If I'm wrong I apologize. No matter the number of years I want to wish them a happy anniversary and let them know that their marriage is a inspiration to me in my marriage. God Bless you both for a long time to come.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Paula Says "Good Bye" To Her Meds

A week after her surgery my wife, Paula, reached a milestone on her path to a new level of health that she's wanted even before she had surgery.

After an appointment with her primary care doctor Paula is "officially" off all her medications. She no longer has to take blood pressure or diabetic medications. After losing weight, this was the primary reason she decided to have the surgery.

I know she was a little disappointed when she still had to have insulin and her BP meds while in the hospital but now she's very happy.

This just goes to show that all of us, not just Paula, fall into the trap of expecting God to work on our timetable and not His. We are a most impatient people. But once again God has come through for Paula as He has in so many ways throughout her surgery experience.

So allow me to speak for my wife when I give God all the glory for the healing He has performed in her body and her life even to this point. And there's a lot more to come. Can't wait to be to receive His blessings so we can continue to serve Him and do His will for our lives.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Day That Points Toward The Future

Monday doesn't have the best reputation for being a very good day. This Monday, however, proved to be an exception as I experienced a pair of significant events that point toward my future and an unusual shopping trip.

By 7:30 AM I was on the road to Nashville for my preop testing at the hospital. My appointment was for 8:45 and I was finished by 10 o'clock. This means that all the preliminaries for my July 6 weight loss surgery are completed. Now all I have to do is the liquid diet (for 5 days) and get to the hospital that morning. So more than ever my mind and my heart are anticipating that day.

When I got home about noon I had a package delivered by the US Postal Service waiting for me. I knew what was in this package because I had been waiting for it all weekend. I carefully opened it with scissors and scooped out the Styrofoam peanuts. In the box was my brand new ventriloquist figure.

Since the beginning of the year I've been saving my change until I had enough to purchase what most people think of as a traditional ventriloquist figure. It was custom made for me by a man named Clinton Detweiler. Clinton is an icon in the ventriloquist community. For many years he owned and ran the Maher Sudios and sold the Maher ventriloquism home study course. Although he's retired from running the school he still makes vent figures.

At the start of 2009 I decided that my next step in my ventriloquism ministry should be to own a traditional vent figure. That's why I bought the one I received today.

My new figure has the appearance of a young boy and I will develop his voice and character to fit that look. I will publish a picture of the two of us together as soon as I can. I'm excited about having this new puppet because it represents the future for me in the field of ventriloquism.

These two events (the preop testing and getting the vent figure) are both significant steps on the journey into my future. That makes this a remarkable and memorable Monday.

The way this Monday ended is noteworthy as well. Today was my first full 8 hour work shift since my vacation. When I got home from work Paula asked me to take her to Walmart to do some shopping. I was a bit tired but I knew she really wanted to go or she wouldn't have asked me.

So at about 1AM (technically this was Tuesday morning but for the sake of argument I am considering it still part of my Monday) we went to a nearby Walmart. There weren't many people there at all which was a good thing for Paula. We spent an hour walking through the grocery section looking for items such as sugar free flavored syrups, sugar free and low carb ketchup, and other things Paula will soon be needing for her new culinary habits.

It was an usual time to go shopping but it was a good time for Paula to go on her first major outing after her surgery. It cured some of her cabin fever without having to deal with a crowd of people and helped her get ready for the next phase of her new eating habits.

We finally got back home and called it a "day" about 3AM Tuesday morning. Thus ended what I consider a day significant in looking toward the future God has planned for me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Surgery Week In Review

This has been a life changing week for my wife. She had her gastric by pass surgery on Monday and is now home recovering. She's on the first phase of her new diet (clear liquids).

The surgery itself was probably the easiest part of her hospital stay. The procedure only took an hour and a half. Paula was in the recovery room nearly twice as long. That should have been sign to me that the anesthesia would be the most difficult part of her initial recovery. It would take two days for her to completely recover from it's effects.

Another unexpected complication was that she developed a fever. It spiked at 102 early on Monday afternoon and hung around until Tuesday morning. The nurses said that the fever was connected with the congestion in her lungs from the anesthesia. Paula had to frequently do breathing exercises with the plastic breathing gauge given to every surgery patient. She also had several breathing treatments to help clear her lungs.

On Tuesday a tornado warning for the Nashville area required that the nursing staff move all the patients in the hospital away from the glass windows in their room and into the hallways. This was very difficult for Paula because she was still in a lot of pain, having trouble sitting up and hadn't completely come out of the anesthesia. It was a long 45 minutes for her.

Now the typical stay after surgery is 2 days with the patient going home on the 3rd. The fever and a low red blood cell account in her blood work warranted Paula to stay a 3rd day.

Tuesday night I decided to come home to Smith's Grove and get some rest. Theresa, Paula's sister, stayed with her each night of her stay. She was a very valuable help to her sister and I will forever be grateful to her for her help.

When I arrived at the hospital on Wednesday it was a 100% turn around for Paula. She was alert and talking. She got up out of bed and started walking to the bathroom and around the halls. By the time I left early Wednesday evening her IV was removed and she was watching movies on her laptop computer.

Thursday morning she was released and got home about 12:30. She was very tired and slept quite a bit the first two days she was home. However she's doing very well. She is walking about the house and even out to the mailbox to get the mail.

Her liquid diet is going okay but she's finding that not all the protein powders agree with her. She's still finding out what does and doesn't work for her. Her fluid intake has been wonderful She's gotten down as much as 90 oz of fluids in a day.

So now it's a matter of time before she makes it through her 2 liquid phases of her initial diet and moves on to some "solid" foods. Right now she's dreaming of her first spoonful of cottage cheese and anything that doesn't have a fruity taste. Of course she's looking forward to losing weight on a regular basis as well.

Just want to let everyone know that we want to give God all the glory for watching over Paula through her entire hospital stay. I'm the first to say that the whole thing didn't go as smoothly as I thought it should and I was a bit frustrated at times.

But then God doesn't promise to do things the way we expect Him to do them. He does them the way he knows is best. We just have to have faith and trust in the knowledge that He loves us and we are always in His hands. It's my prayer that I grow into the kind of Christian who can fully trust God no matter what the circumstances.

All things said and done; once again, God has come through for us and we want to make sure we give Him all the Glory and Honor.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The REAL Journey Begins With A Last Meal

Last night while I was at work my wife, Paula, experienced a milestone in her weight lost surgery journey. She had her last full meal. Now this doesn't mean her last meal ever; but for a very long time. Actually it will be the last meal the size and portion most people think as a "Normal" amount of food.

Starting today until her surgery she will be on "clear liquids". After surgery she will eat a progressive multi phase diet that will focus on a regimen of protein, drinking fluids, and taking vitamins and supplements. Ideally her food consumption from now and for the rest of her life will be no more than a cup at a time or less.

The reality of what's about to happen to in both our lives over the next month or so (I'm referring to the surgical operations themselves), the long road toward our weight loss goals, and permanent lifestyle change has started to happen.

Please pray for Paula and for me as we take the REAL first steps that will forever alter our bodies, our lives and our reality.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

An "Inconvenient Truth" About Love

Today is my friend, Brent's birthday. He's Jack Benny's age (for those of you who don't know what that means ask someone older than you). The reason I mention him is because today I've decided write a post about something he told me last week that has been running through my thoughts ever since.

In the course of one of our usual weekly conversations he said to me "Love is almost never convenient". As he went on to explain what he meant I soon realized that it was a perspective that could be very useful in my life.

I don't know about you but I am naturally very selfish. There are a lot of people in my life that I love but sometimes but I don't always show it. As stated in the book of James the evidence of that love requires action. If you love someone you will do things for them that you really don't want to do. That's the essence of the personal inconvenience.

Think about it. This applies to all the relationships based on love. A husband would much rather watch the game on TV then go into the bedroom and massage his pregnant wife's feet. It's inconvenient but because he loves her he does it.
Getting up in the middle of the night and going to help a son or daughter because their car broke down and they need help. That's not convenient. That's Love.

Taking the time away from making dinner to discipline a young child because they're misbehaving and needs to be put "back on course". That's Love.

Going to help a relative move on your first Saturday off in over 2 months. That's Love.

Perhaps another way of saying that acts of Love are never convenient is to say that they are always acts of "selflessness."

Everything we do for the people we love pales in comparison to the act of Love demonstrated by The Gospel message. Jesus Christ committed himself to and accomplished the most inconvenient and selfless act of Love the world will EVER know. He gave his life to reconcile us to Himself through the shedding of his blood for the forgiveness of our sins.

Romans 5:8 says that God showed his Love toward us in that while we were yet sinners (aka enemies of God) Christ died for us.

As a popular gospel song from the 70's put it: "He left his mighty home in glory. To bring us redemption's story".

This is where the practical application of the Gospel message fits into our daily lives. Compared to the story of the Gospel, any act of Love we show or do for anyone in life (spouse, family, friend, enemies?) pales in comparison. By Loving others selflessly we follow and honor Christ's sacrifice for us.

Everyday we should follow Christ's example of selflessness and sacrifice to show Love to those who need it. Even though it may be "inconvenient".

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

RH Factor 2.0: A New Beginning

Okay, This is the first time I've posted in over 2 weeks. I'll admit I haven't been as faithful in writing entries over the first half of this year as I was last year. One of the many reasons for this is that I realized my motivation for blogging had changed. This is rather difficult to explain in writing but I began to think that this blog was all about me. That's what I had made it.

Now I know because of what I write about most of the time it might seem true that this blog is all about me. It's not supposed to be a "hey look at me and what's special about me" type blog. That's not what this blog started out but that's what it became. I was motivated to post only when I wanted to "brag" or there was something exciting happening in my life. When nothing like that was happening I didn't write. That's why I my posting have dropped off this year; Nothing I considered exciting has been happening to me.

While one of the purposes of this blog is to share the events of my life with family and friends that I don't see or talk to on a regular basis, it's not my top priority. I created this blog so that readers will know about the things happening in my life. I want them to see and understand that the battles and victories and all other experiences of life, especially the Christian life, are common. Some of the same things my readers go through I want them to know I go through and struggle with too.

Now I must admit humor is a big part of my personality and a lot of the times I write about my life with posts that are full of jokes. But just the fact that I had to deal with being unemployed for nearly 9 months last year, and I've come to the point where I'm going to have a drastic life changing surgery in a couple of weeks is evidence that my life is not all one big laugh; no body's is.

Sure I like it when people laugh at my jokes or tell me that they read something on my blog that they thought was funny. Pats on the back or kind words after a ventriloquist performance are wonderful. Very rewarding. But what I need much more than that is the support of my family, Christian brothers and sisters, and friends when I'm going through something in my life that makes it difficult to laugh. That's when I need You!

More importantly, I want to be there to help and support you when you need me. That's what I want this blog to be. I want it to be a place where my readers can see common ground between what they are going through and what I've been through or am going through. I want them to know that I understand how life can be hard sometimes.

As Christians our battle is common. We all need to help each other. I need help a lot of times and don't ask for it. Now I don't want this to come off as a corny "let's join hands and hug each other" appeal. What I am pledging to do with this blog is share what I am going through in my life so that I can possibly be a help to you. In return I am asking for some help and encouragement from you.

When you read a blog post that you can identify with or has helped you or you have some encouraging words for me email me and let me know. From all that I've read about and been told about my gastric by pass surgery the next year or so is going to be an experience unlike any other I've had in my life. I'm going to need some support. I know I can count on my family and friends to be there for me to help me through it. It is also my prayer that my battles will help you in some way.

So I'll say it once again. I want this blog to become a conduit of communication between my readers and me. With this post I'm "resetting" the goals of RH Factors. It's now RH Factors 2.0. A new beginning and a new purpose; or at least a return to it's original purpose.

Now don't think this means my blog is going to turn into a journal of "test and moans" and become a melodrama. I will continue to write about the people, places, and events that bring joy and wonder to my life. I can't help but want to share God's blessing in my life. He is faithful with His blessings. I must let the whole world (or at least my blog readers) the blessings He has given me.

Okay so now it's time to start posting and sharing. Fortunately I've got a new computer to help me along the way. A virus took out my old computer about a week ago. Anyone who's dealt with that raise your hand. That's an all too common experience these days.

Thank you for taking the time to read my reasons for launching RH Factors 2.0 My objective as I undertake my own personal battle and change in my life is to take the focus off myself and look to helping others. I want to help you.

Email your comments and anything else you want to let me know to Rewindguy909@aol.com . I'm looking forward to walking down the road of life with the company and support of my readers, family, fellow Christians, and friends. Then having the privilege of being able to turn right around and give it all back to you and then some. That's my prayer.