The book will soon be available on the website!
The flowers were from my husband and children.
Photo credit Tommy Stone
there will be time
for sun and bright colors
for light and wind and
the work of the day
spring and summer
slip away as hints
of winter settle on the pond
fish swim a little slower
clouds hang a little lower
as night comes a little closer
we walk through the dry grass
that crackles underfoot
of where we have been
but not where we are going
Paris Poet’s Society is proud to be a part of a unique project. Several months ago they put out a call for submissions of poetry and photography. The theme was What Brings You Here. The project is complete and there will be an exhibit and book! Please join us October 28 at 7:00 P.M. for a reception at the Raven Gallery on the west side of the square in downtown Paris. We are so excited to be a part of this event! Please join us and enjoy the work of some local artists.
I have two poems in this exhibit and book. I’m very excited!
read between the lines
I whispered with no voice
because that is where truth tiptoes
whistling past the graveyard
of excuse and explanation
holding itself close as a baby
taken to breast
the thought just after
the prayer has ended
the wish too fragile
to make over the candle flames
the sound in the room
after a death
I recently finished the book The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. This is a quest story with magic and trolls and elves, an unlikely hero and his band of friends. Evil is taking over the earth and the only defense is our hero and the sword that he and a motley crew of equally unlikely companions search for. The quest is dangerous and they run into all kinds of problems, are separated, wounded, and think that all is lost, only to be reunited in the end when good, of course, triumphs.
The hero, Shea, is a half elf who is adopted and does not know until told by a stranger, that he is the last of a royal elf bloodline and according to legend, he is the only one who can use the magic sword to defeat the evil. His companions are not like him and as the journey goes on, people who begin as enemies become friends and growth happens in the process. Shea is not brave and is filled with doubts that constantly surface. He is not even sure that he believes the legend. He is uncertain that even if the legend of the sword is real, that he could be the one to use it and he doesn’t have a clue HOW to use it if he lives to find it. He feels guilty that others have put themselves in danger to protect him and help him find the sword. He feels unequal to the huge responsibility of all the people who are depending on him and who will die if he fails. Again and again he wishes to just return to his old peaceful life but continues on his difficult and frightening path because he feels he cannot quit when so many are willing to sacrifice their own comfort and even lives to help him.
At one point he actually has the sword in his grasp and it disappears again because he does not recognize it. He expected something grand and so did not know the plain sword for what it was.
Now let us switch gears. I recently was part of a bible study where the theme of the readings for the week was reconciliation. If you look up the word “reconcile” there are several definitions. One is to restore friendly relations between. A second is to cause to coexist in harmony; make or show to be compatible. A third pertains to financial accounts – make (one account) consistent with another, especially by allowing for transactions begun but not yet completed, a reconciled bank transaction means that it has been cleared. I started thinking about the book I had just read.
We too are adopted as sons and daughters of God. We are reconciled to God by the sacrifice made by an unlikely (in human terms) hero. A carpenter who the world had difficulty recognizing as the messiah. Instead of being a royally attired king who would lead his people to a worldly victory over those who oppressed them, he healed and fed and preached and taught those the world would not recognize as worthy, and sacrificed himself so that all of our accounts would be cleared. No matter how big our debits column, Jesus would fill in the credit column for each and every person who would receive him and make them sinless and restore them to God. Our debt is cleared and we are free to be unlikely heroes to others by imitating a humble savior who rather than give in to what people wanted, walked a difficult path to give them what they needed.
The ending of the Sword of Shannara found Shea clutching the sword and learning the hard way that the sword reflects the person holding back to themselves, not as they would see themselves but as they truly are. It was a painful experience for the hero. All of his faults were made clear to him and he wanted very much to thrust the sword away but he held on and allowed the truth to wash over him. In the process he realized how to use the sword. The evil warlord was there with him and all of a sudden, he did not look as tough and scary. The scary bad magic guy tries to flee but Shea hits him with the sword and when the sword touches him he recoils and screams. There are more gory details but in the end, the evil guy who would kill anyone who opposed him and rule the world through violence and might, is unable to stand what the sword reflects back at him about himself and turns to ash. The humble and frightened Shea triumphs and saves the people.
Now most of us, if asked, would say that we are pretty good people. We can at least look around us and say to ourselves, “well..at least I am better than this or that one, or yes I slip sometimes but I don’t do the things that person does..”
But what if the mirror we look into is Jesus Christ? How do we measure up then? Would I be be willing to take the hand of a leper? Sit and eat with and minister to people I deem worse sinners than myself? Die on a cross, naked and in pain for those same people? Live out every moment of every day of my life for others in obedience to God? Can I look at someone who has been mean and unfeeling towards me and see what God sees? A brother or sister who Jesus died to save?
1 Corinthians 6:11 “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
“Justification is the work of God where the righteousness of Jesus is reckoned to the sinner, so the sinner is declared by God as being righteous under the Law.”
In other words, the minute we accept Jesus is our savior, we are set apart and our account is clear. We still have a long path to walk and as we stumble down that path, God works in us and we respond as we are being sanctified or made more like Christ. That is our work, our path. To learn what is the will of God and do it and in so doing become more and more like Christ until the very end of our lives. That is the process of sanctification.
Shea was the chosen one in the story. No matter what doubts or temporary setbacks he dealt with, that never changed. He was always the chosen one. The terrible things that he went through on the journey, the pitfalls and disasters and losses, while often giving him the desire to just forget the whole thing, never caused him to keep walking the path. He stumbled often, but he kept walking and grew and in the end, his humility and refusal to give up was what saved the day.
He was “justified” – chosen. He continued to be obedient and walk the path even when he was scared, felt lost, was tired, angry, resentful for being ripped out of his simple, peaceful life and in the process, he became who he was meant to be (sanctified).
You may be shaking your head about now, if you are reading this at all, and thinking that my comparisons are pretty thin. I have no idea if the author had any of this in mind as he wrote the story. I only know that God is good to let me have this perspective and see these themes in a story. If I look into the mirror of Jesus Christ there is a part of me that wants to melt into a pile of ash because I see how great my faults are but another part of me is so very grateful that Jesus took care of my account and freed me to keep trying to find the path God wants me to walk and given me hope that all will be well in the end.
(Or the week our two year old grand daughter stayed with us)
Playing hide and seek (it doesn’t matter who finds who as long as someone makes a scary roar when found)
The night she ate three helpings of broccoli – THREE! The girl loves her broccoli…and Tornadoes (tomatoes)
Dale spending several hours trying to figure out what she was trying to say – it sounded like “truck fix” Caralee translated – chapstick. (She likes the red chapstick and the yellow (color of the tubes)
She does NOT ever ever ever want to lay on her back in the tub to get her hair rinsed. Melt down time.
Listening to her sing herself to sleep with the alphabet song and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Watching her dance to her favorite song – Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”
Having her look up at me and say “I like it at Gamma’s house.”
Carolee watching me dish up ice cream and seeing that it is white, shaking her head and telling me she does not like it. She wants BROWN ice cream.
She loves to lay on the ground and draw in the dirt with a stick. She loves to be outside period. She will stay until her little hands are like ice and still does not want to come in.
Seeing her sit in my old rocking chair (finally re-covered) and watch Polar Express (the Santa Claus train movie in her words)
Caralee sitting next to me in a booster seat at a restaurant, leaning her head on me and saying “I like you” I was ready to go buy her a car.
15 Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; 16 and he said, “When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive. 18 So the king of Egypt called for the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, and saved the male children alive?”
19 And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.”
20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives, and the people multiplied and grew very mighty. 21 And so it was, because the midwives feared God, that He provided households for them.
Cue the sound of brakes…The midwives LIED and yes they saved lives and it was for a good purpose…but God actually rewards them? But, just a few chapters later God gives the ten commandments to Moses and cough cough “Thou shalt not lie” cough cough…
I had never focused on this tidbit before and I know that there are many ideas that seem contradictory in the Bible. It doesn’t shake my faith in scripture and this isn’t about exposing the Bible as some hoax. I am just wandering through these scriptures that I have read in the past and that every child who attends Sunday school is given as stories, trying to see them with a fresh eye. Forgive me if I ramble because some of this is me working it out for myself on paper.
I did some searching to see what people who are much smarter and versed in scripture then I am say and one idea that made some sense to me was that God did not reward the midwives for lying but for saving the baby boys.
I think that there is another reason for theses little nuggets that pop up and make us question. One purpose is to make us do exactly that – question. Why would we assume that the God who created then entire universe out of nothing would be easy to understand? When I read a verse like this one, I am lead to cross-references and other scripture and commentary. Anything that motivates us to read more, study more, dig deeper, has to be a good thing.
I remember when my youngest was little, we had a garden and she loved the cherry tomatoes. She loved them so much that we had to watch her or she would eat too many and she didn’t seem to care if they were ripe. One day she was playing in the back yard and when she came in the house there were tomato seeds stuck to the front of her pink tee shirt. I asked her if she had been eating tomatoes and she shook her head no, unaware that the evidence was literally all over her. All she saw was that we were keeping her from something she liked. She did not see that we were protecting her from getting sick.
We humans learn very young to lie to avoid punishment. No one likes consequences but logically, maybe having no consequence makes it more difficult for us to admit our sin. Without admitting our sin we have no cognizance of the need for a savior. Without a savior we cannot be reconciled to God so lying to avoid consequence is a big problem for us.
All of us have those sayings that we inherited from our mothers. The ones that used to make us roll our eyes in disbelief at how old fashioned and out of touch our mother’s were. One that sticks with me and as with most of my mom’s sayings, now makes perfect sense to me, is “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” My mouth often gets me into trouble but I try not to add lie to the mix. It is hard enough to remember everything as I get older. I KNOW without a doubt I would not be able to remember lies. Trust is such a delicate thing and so very important. One lost it is almost impossible to get back. I think I am forgiving someone who has lied to me but I am not sure that I am successful because there is always that little doubt in the back of my mind and I am more careful. It crates an us versus them mentality.
Years ago I read about the word Koinonia. Koinonia is being united in worship, in serving, in fellowship.
Philippians 2:1-2 says “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”
If trust is broken because of lies then Koinonia is impossible, not just with each other as Christians but with Christ.
Have I got a good answer about the midwives? I think they were just humans thrust into an impossible situation and God in His wisdom, knew they looked at their options and did the best they could. Imagine being in their position. You are a poor person who has devoted your life to helping people. Now you stand before a powerful man who rules a country in which you are perceived as a second class citizen at best, a threat to the economy and society and completely at the mercy of a man who has ordered you to commit murder. They took a courageous stand and defied the order but in a way that deflected what could have been further punishment for their people if perceived as out and out defiance and survived along with saving the lives of babies. God had plans for one of those babies and we don’t know, because the story doesn’t give us any more information but it’s possible that some other infants who survived became the ancestors of other important prophets. We do know that there were mothers who would have been heartbroken if not for these midwives and their creative problem solving.
God is not okay with lies but maybe we are supposed to think. To simplistically apply laws is to go back to the time of the Pharisees and takes grace completely out of the equation.
Grace?? Oh yes. I forgot about that. Was grace present as early as Exodus? Well, Adam and Eve ate of the tree of life but God did not kill them. Was there a consequence? Big time! They were banished from the garden and life became a whole new level of difficult. We may think that was harsh but God did not kill them and so the human race went on. That was grace. (And remember that whole debacle had lies at the center of it!)
We tend to think of grace as a new testament thing but God’s grace has been with us from the beginning and thankfully will be until the end.
When my little one lied about eating the tomatoes I didn’t spank her. I did point out that I could see the seeds on her shirt. I reminded her that green tomatoes would give her a belly ache. I knew that she would have many lessons to learn as she grew older and that some of them would be painful. I loved her then and I love her now. Did I still trust her? Well, as much as you can trust a three year old who loves tomatoes.
Everything seems to point back to grace. Amen.
We started a new bible study. 24 weeks long, it is supposed to encompass selections from the entire bible. I recently started bible journalling on my own so I am using the same method for this study. The method is called SOAP. Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer. The method works well for me because I have always been a skimmer. This method makes me slow down and take slower, deeper bites.
The study starts at the beginning in Genesis and though I have read the creation story multiple times, I focused in on several things this time. The two things go together for me. First of all, God SPOKE the world into being. Second, we are made in His image.
Of all of creation, we have the gift of words and the ability to create. We make art and one of the ways we make art is through words. Stories and poetry and song, all the ways that we try to describe our world, whether external or internal.
All of creation has language and poetry is nothing but us silly humans trying to translate that language into words and draw us closer in as part of that creation.
To really be IN the world, a part of everything, to hear the sun set, feel the rain blowing in, smell the sun-warmed pond, to draw warmth from the little dog curled up next to me, to hear the buzzing of conversations in a crowd with clear snippets floating past. This is poetry and the source of poetry. God IS poetry and creating and the best of us is when we love His creation, when we love everything and everyone He created. We see HIM in each other and in the world He created. WE are created in HIS image, and so if we would see God, then we must see each other and see the God spark in each of us, the potential for creation, the music, the art, and the poetry.
When I married Dale, my heart grew to hold him. When our children were born, more space was added and as they married it grew even bigger, Now there is a new place, room for this new child, a part of us all. When we are apart, no matter how far or how long, there remains a grandchild shaped place in my heart, waiting and loving and praying until we are together again.
Jesus loves all of us. There is room at the cross.
When I hold out my arms and she smiles and runs to me my heart is so full it wants to burst. Chubby little legs moving, elbows out, full speed ahead. She is not graceful as she learns to use her growing limbs, she may trip and sometimes get distracted by something else along the way. It may not look like anything special to someone watching..but it is everything to me. She is my granddaughter and I am her gamma and I will lift her when she reaches me at last.
Jesus is always waiting for us to run to Him, arms out, ready to lift us out of our aloneness, no matter where we are in our journey to Him.
When I sing to her it does not matter that my voice is not perfect or that I miss some notes. She loves it and sings with me. It may not be opera, or even pleasant as far as an artistic music endeavor and even though there might be a lesson in the words, the important part is that she is looking at my face and smiling and the singing is an act of love.
When we sing our praises to Jesus, it doesn’t matter what the words are or that our voice cracks. It’s not the song that counts. It’s the heart.
When she laughs, I can’t help but laugh with her. When she is sad or hurt, I want to cry with her. I am fascinated by her personality, by how intent she is on things and I love to watch her discover the world. I rejoice in her ‘becoming” as she grows and learns and changes.
Jesus is “over the moon” in love with us. He rejoices in our triumphs and weeps with us at our failures. He knows every little quirk. We are the favorite part of creation.
When we walk together and she reaches to hold my hand, I love to take that hand and walk with her, trying to make sure she is safe. I love spending time with her. She might stumble so I have to walk slow and bend so that she can reach me, but it doesn’t matter as long as she wants to walk with me.
Jesus is walking with us, His hand reached down waiting for us to grasp when the sun is shining and the path is smooth and lined with flowers. He is there when the way is dark and rocky and we are stumbling and weary.
When she falls down and gets hurt or is sick, I want nothing more than to comfort her and heal her. I can’t protect her from everything hurtful and it is painful to me to know that she will know pain in her life and I would spare her that, but I can’t and so I will pray that there is a hand for her to hold when it comes and that she will grow stronger. If the painful situation is one where I can help or at least let her now I am there, I pray it will make our relationship grow stronger and deeper. I would love for the answer to always be yes, but sometimes no matter how much you love someone, the answer will have to be no.
Jesus knows suffering. Jesus knows how the world can hurt you even when you have the best intentions. He has seen the weakest and meanest of humanity and died for all of us anyway. Jesus asked the Father, if there was any other way for Him to do God’s will, to take the suffering away, but He had to walk that path and die on a cross so we would have a resurrected savior.
When she spends the night at my house she sometimes wakes in the night. If I hear her I love to get up and pat her and sing to her and reassure her that she is not alone in this strange world and that someone is watching over her so she can sleep.
Jesus watches over us even when we sleep. We can give him all of the problems of the day and lean on Him for peace that comes from knowing He is always there.
I am so excited when she learns a new word or any kind of way to express herself. I am filled with joy when she can talk to me and I want to always be someone that she will want to tell anything to, secrets, hurts, questions, joy and even anger because I love her, completely, without reservation. I don’t just love this part and not love that part – I love all of her.
Jesus is big enough and has enough love that He can take all of it – all our parts, even the dark and dusty ones that we hide from each other and sometimes even from ourselves. His eyes see us, not like we see each other or ourselves, but through the lens of eternity.
The time we spend together will let a little bit of me live on through her and though my parents are gone, she learns a little bit about them through me. I hope to be around long enough to tell her stories of our family, so she can tell her children and they can tell theirs. But the stories won’t matter as much as the time. Whenever I have the gift of hanging out with her, I pray that she sees my mama through knowing me.
The time we spend hanging out with Jesus, in prayer, in praise, and in His word, we get to know Him and through Him we get to know more of God.
There is nothing she could do for the rest of her life, that would make me stop loving her. I don’t mean that I will approve of every decision she makes and there will be seasons of pride and seasons of disappointment as there are for all of us, but the love will never stop. I pray that even after I am gone from this earth, that she will know her gamma loved her.
We are so loved. No matter how old we are, how many times we stumble or how far and hard we fall, Jesus love is always there waiting to lift us up, clean us off, and let us know that we kingdom kids and He loves us. Always and forever. Amen.
One hundred and three work orders. In two months. That is what I have done. I have been mad and sad and frustrated and tired and dealing with scary crappy health stuff but I did it. Spring break begins.
The last few weeks at work have been odd and unsettling. I have run through a pile of emotions and probably let my blood pressure get out of hand for nothing so I am taking a step back. I think I need to write more and stop overthinking. Some of my reactions to change are my own insecurity and I KNOW this. I just forget. Not everything that happens is because I am older, because I got injured, or because I am female. I have to remember that sometimes people are just twisted up in their own garbage and and I need to decide not to be collateral damage.
Two things have helped me get to this point. I just had to shut up and wait for them.
2 Chronicles 20:17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.'”
A Coat by William Butler Yeats
I made my song a coat
Covered with embroideries
Out of old mythologies
From heel to throat;
But the fools caught it,
Wore it in the world’s eyes
As though they’d wrought it.
Song, let them take it,
For there’s more enterprise
In walking naked.
I have read the scripture reference before but never felt the meaning so strongly as now. I am going to make the last few lines my meditation for the week and take comfort from knowing that every tomorrow, God will be with me.
The poem was one I discovered clicking to read a different poem. It was in the sidebar. What a wonderful find. Everyone makes their “song” a coat. I cover up with words until I believe them myself but the world always ends up ripping the coat away. A lesson I seem destined to learn again and again. The world might take the top layer but it cannot touch your song or soul. There is risk in walking “naked” but there is freedom too.
all the letters coalesce
become something they were not
and in the birth a death comes too but not
the inner center
gooey soft and chewy
still remains though rain may fall
on just and unjust
washing nothing but the dust
hang on, hang in, hang out
like driftwood bleached bone beauty
hard as nails the water changed
and in becoming
whiter with each passing tear
hardened edges give way to
softened lines as words become pictures
and scars become memories
the shadows only mean the sun still shines
Thank you Mr. Yeats. You still resonate. Also thank you Jae for sharing a poem that led to the poem challenge that led to Yeats. Happy trails. Thank you to my grandbaby for taking my mind off problems and changing my perspective. Thank you blog sidebar for this quote of the day:
“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.”
I have had so much time to write in the last few months. Time does not not seem to mean creativity as the empty blog shows. My body has not been my friend. On May the 30th I broke a bone in my foot. I had surgery two weeks later and they put metal in my foot. I was no weight bearing for six weeks. When I finally started putting weight on it again it swelled and ached and it turns out it was infected. Another surgery to remove the metal. Along with the surgery they put what is called a picc line in my arm so I could get six weeks of IV antibiotics at home. Home health came once a week and changed the dressing on the picc line and drew labs. During this time I kept telling people my arm hurt. It became worse, to the point where it would keep me awake at night. After hooking up and infusing the antibiotics, I could barely lift the it off the arm of the chair. A few weeks ago I went to have the picc line removed and said once again that my arm hurt and I was hopeful that it would improve once the picc line was removed. The doctor decided I should get an ultrasound of the arm and apparently, the picc line had caused a blood clot. Now I am on two different blood thinners to make sure that the blood vessel heals without sending the clot somewhere it should not be. I was given a prescription for blood thinners in injection form and told to follow up with my local doctor. I made an appointment and when I showed up for the appointment the doctor would not do anything because they had no information from the hospital. I waited several days and called them and was told they still had no information. I told them that I only had two syringes left and if labs take three days to get results I was going to be in trouble before we got answers. This made them decide I should come on in and at least get labs drawn. I actually saw a doctor this time and he said I should have been on the shots AND oral meds and then when the therapeutic level is attained I could get off the shots and just continue with the pills. Soooo I got another prescription of ten more syringes plus the pills. The shots are not horrible but the medicine stings and it leaves ugly big bruises on my stomach. I would have appreciated doing this correctly the first time.
I had thought about trying nanowrimo again this year but I just do not feel it.
I feel like the poster-child for Murphy’s law. What can go wrong…will. I am back at work and that is helping keep my mind off it. I am trying to concentrate on my health, find a balance between rest and exercise and a balance between what I cannot eat while I am on this blood thinner and eating healthy.
Inspiration is hiding right now. Maybe when I am better I will write a medical/murder mystery/urban fantasy…kill off a few bureaucrats or at least turn them into gargoyles, forever imprisoned in stone, unable to communicate.
Image by Tommy Stone
I love the moments in-between
either one will do
The earth in deepest indigo
sky ceiling blending in to the color
of robins eggs, babies eyes,
soft and unsure
but in the middle no artist brush
could blend to make that shade of peach
or palest coral, blush
there really is no name
but the color is easy on eyes
that are just waking
or near to closing
hello hello a person finally
ask a question
get an answer that is no answer
leads to questions why the language
so confusing obfuscation is the nation
pastime making simple things so difficult
and mama always said you catch more flies
with honey but the money is what talks today
and even that is not enough
to make a person care to share
the knowledge that they hoard as though
their very life depends on keeping little piles
of facts so deeply buried harried then the conversation
takes a turn on contemplation seems to me
that spelling out the answer would save time
the goal the whole thing reeks
I do not seek to make you less to make you
miss the most important part to hide
if service is what you provide then
I propose machine is broken just a token
of the way things should be done
it grinds to dust instead of oil
you turn to rust
We all sell customer service, no matter what our job title. Whether we know it or not. From the customer side of things, if you make my life easier, you get my business. If I call you, frustrated and confused, and you give me a simple answer, I sigh with relief and sing your praises to everyone I know. If I approach you with a problem, fearful that it will be difficult or expensive to solve and you respond with a calm answer and do not make me feel ignorant or needy for asking, my entire mood changes and I respond in kind.
If I take my car to the mechanic, I am afraid it will be something difficult and expensive to fix. When he smiles and tells me it is just that little thingamabob that needs adjusting or a simple twenty dollar part, I am happy, relieved, and more likely to take the car back to him when the big stuff goes wrong. I will also pass his name out to friends.
I find this in my own job all the time. I fix computer problems. If someone has a question or a problem with their computer and I show them how to easily rectify the issue so that they can avoid the problem in the future, in a nice way that allows for them being intelligent human beings, just not possessing the particular piece of information they need in the situation, they remember not just that I fixed their problem, but that I was nice. I have a rep. I LIKE having that rep. I like being known for being nice. I like sharing information with others. I like oiling the machinery of every day life.
It seems to me that some folks take pleasure in being rust. The old saying “the buck stops here” meant being accountable, being responsible, being the solution. The present meaning for that saying is more like end of the road honey. No answers here.
Unless you get mean or shout or threaten or make yourself such a nuisance that the person finally, slowly, painfully, drags out the one little piece of information that is needed to remedy the situation and make the customer go away.
I have had to deal with Workers Comp for the last three months. I should not complain because this injury has rasped up some expensive bills that I fortunately have not had to be responsible for and I am truly grateful. really I am.
However…it has been such an ordeal to get information. Nearly every single time. I end up with the frustration coming through in my voice. I end the call angry and often more confused that when I began.
The only time I have gotten clear and fast results was when I got ugly.
For example…After the second surgery on my foot to remove the metal that was placed there to begin with and deal with the infection that had set in, I was, for the weekend at least, the only patient at the surgery center. The surgery took place on a Friday with the understanding that I would probably stay over night. I stayed the weekend with the understanding that I would be going home on Monday. I sent the husband home. No need for him to sit around while I napped and read and watched HGTV. He drove the ninety miles back on Monday and sat there all day ready to drive me home. There was a problem. I finally told him to go home and I would call him when they were actually sure I was being discharged. Tuesday rolled around. I sat. I waited. I think the nurse finally hated to come to my room because even if I didn’t ask out loud my face showed my frustration.
Finally, I got on my knee scooter and went down the hall searching for a decent signal on my cell phone. I found one on a bench in front of the cafeteria. I called my Workers Comp case worker. He was not in. I explained in detail what my problem was.
I am sitting on a bench in front of the cafeteria so I can have a phone signal. My post op foot is hanging out for any opportunistic bacteria that might wander by to jump on board. My hair and clothes are dirty because I thought I would be home by now. The hospital wants to send me home. I want to go home. The problem seems to be you. This is a very nice hospital. Very expensive. If you wish to continue to foot the bill for me to stay in what is the equivalent of a four star hotel where they will bring me Rosa’s Migas and French Vanilla coffee in the morning, then so be it.
A moment later I was speaking to a supervisor. Evidently the person at the hospital had submitted paperwork for pre-authorization. This supervisor had initialed it and sent it back saying she did not think it required pre-authorization. Her tone suggested that these people did not know what they were doing. I could have asked why she did not note along with her initials that rather than contact the pre-authorization company that she needed to contact Risk Management. I could have asked why there seem to be separate entities for each step of this process and that why none of them seem to be aware of what the other is doing. I could have. I didn’t. I simply asked her if I could have her name and told her I would go back to the desk and ask that the appropriate person contact her so we could resolve this. She seemed reluctant but gave me her name and twenty minutes later I was calling my husband to tell him to come get me.
Two days of me sitting there and Workers Comp paying and all it took was me calling and fussing.
Why was that necessary?
I have had a knee scooter nearly the whole time. It has been a life saver. I seriously think that if I had to manage crutches in the middle of the night, half asleep and in the dark, just to get to the bathroom, I would have been in a lot more serious trouble.
I asked the doc for a prescription for the knee scooter because that was what my case worker told me I needed. The doc’s office person ace me a pamphlet for a place in Dallas. I went to a place here near home and rented one for a week myself, just to see if I could manage it. When I found that I really did need the thing, I called the place I rented it and said I need to keep this, and it is workers comp. The person I talked to said they had never billed this as a workers comp item. (Keep in mind that they do crutches and other durable medical items so it would be the same process).
I spoke to someone in town who understands workers comp and verified that it would be the same. Now I am getting bills from them. I called my caseworker. After ten minutes of my asking for clarification it turns out that my only recourse at this point is to pay for the thing outright, obtain the needed prescription from the doc and a receipt from the medical supply provider, and hope workers comp will reimburse me.
At the very start I needed information that I received too late for it to be of any help. I needed things to happen in a certain order. I needed steps.
I SHOULD have had that information two and a half months ago. I did not because I was being nice and trying not to be a bother which is what I have felt like every time I have had to call.
I also was told that I could call the Workers Comp commission and ask questions at any time. I am thinking that is another piece of information I should have had several months ago.
I am not sure I would have known what questions to ask. That is a problem I often see in my own job. I get an email where someone is having a problem. Experience has taught me that often what they are asking is not what they need to ask. My process is to either read between the lines and answer what I believe they actually mean, or ask more questions if I am unsure.
At no time in this process have I had anyone tell me I was asking the wrong questions, nor has anyone asked me questions to determine what I really needed to know.
The general feeling has always seemed like the person at the other end of the line was trying to give the shortest answers or least amount of information needed to get me off the line. Period. Somewhere there may be a training manual that teaches how to handle as many calls as possible in as short a time as possible. It does not seem to focus on solving problems, quality rather than quantity.
We are sacrificing quality for quantity and we are all paying the price, from the client who either does not get what they need unless they are angry and determined enough to fight for it, to the provider who will never go home at the end of the day with a feeling of satisfaction from a job well done, knowing they have solved problems and made people’s lives easier.
We have become a society that no longer oils the machinery to keep things running. We are getting rusty.
I am spending a lot of time in a chair while my foot heals and I find myself reading and thinking and making connections. Those connections will find their way here to the blog so I don’t lose them. At least I can point back to these things and feel as though I were a little productive. Enforced relaxation is not as much fun as choosing to relax. Especially when it is wrapped up in pain and stomach issues but I am getting a little better each day.
First of all, if you have never wandered around TedTalks and watched a video or two, you are missing out. Some of the brightest minds, the best presenters, the least boring people ever can be found there. This morning I watched Daniel Gilbert talk about decisions.
“Human Beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting, as temporary as all the people you’ve ever been. The one constant in our lives is change”
Daniel Gilbert Harvard psychologist
Later in the morning there was a blog article in my FaceBook feed talking about making decisions. According to the article:
Suzy Welch says to use the 10-10-10 rule. What are the consequences of my decision in 10 minutes, in 10 months, and in 10 years. To read more of what she has to say about the process you can purchase her book 10.10.10 Life Transforming Idea. I have included a link below.
I was reminded of a sermon on how to make a decision based on Christian principals. The lesson advocated three different sources of Godly counsel. The Bible, prayer, and seeking advice from a Godly friend. All three are suggested because as we all know, scripture taken out of context can often be made to say what we want it to say. Sometimes we assume prayer is answered according to what we want as well. To just seek Godly counsel from a friend is to leave your decision in the hands of one fallible human who may or may not be as Godly as you think. By combining all three of these tools you have a better chance of a true picture of what direction you should take.
Google decision making and you will find thousands of articles on how and what to do. Some even go as far as saying spreadsheet it out. One interesting piece suggested reversing your assumptions. List all the assumptions, Reverse them – what is their opposite? Then ask yourself how to accomplish each reversal. This may give you a different perspective.
Most decisions we make are based on feelings and I don’t think you can ever take that completely out of the equation, and probably would not want to. But maybe these are some tools that would help when we are trying to make the really big, grown-up decisions that are going to have lasting consequences.
to purchase Suzy Welch’s book go here:
“Science is expanding our ignorance
One of the things that science does is a really curious thing. Every time we use science to try to answer a question, to give us some insight, invariably that insight or answer provokes two or three other new questions. Anybody who works in science knows that they’re constantly finding out new things that they don’t know. It increases their ignorance, and so in a certain sense, while science is certainly increasing knowledge, it’s actually increasing our ignorance even faster. So you could say that the chief effect of science is the expansion of ignorance.
In a curious way, Google is all about answers. So you could say that Google is increasing answers over time, but what’s interesting is that answers are becoming cheap; they’re almost free, and I think what becomes scarce in this kind of place that we’re headed to is questions, a really good question, because a really good question can unleash new questions.
In a certain sense what becomes really valuable in a world running under Google’s reign, are great questions, and that means that for a long time humans will be better at than machines.
Machines are for answers; humans are for questions.
The world that Google is constructing—a world of cheap and free answers—having answers is not going to be very significant or important. Having a really great question will be where all the value is.”
For entertainment I am reading Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. The premise of the book is that after a terrorist attack in San Francisco, the powers that be abuse technology to track everyone. The rallying cry of the book is “Don’t trust anyone under 25” So I am reading the book from the perspective of the age group that proposes the loss of some freedom is worth the price of safety.
I am also reading it from the perspective of an aging hippy who saw the sixties and seventies fade into the complacency of the eighties. I enjoy the convenience of technology. Debit cards and loyalty cards, cell phones, opening up Facebook every morning to see what my friends and family are up to.
I am of the generation that enjoys the convenience of toll passes and search engines and online banking and shopping. I give little passing notice to the changing ads on my Facebook and Google pages that reflect things I have recently shopped for. I use my debit card to buy gasoline that tells someone, somewhere, that I have been at this gas station on this day. My internet provider tracks where I go on the internet and amazon contains my wishlist of products I would like and books I wish to read. My google calendar and Facebook birthdays sync and seem to have conversations that I am not even a part of.
I am pretty transparent. Is that a bad thing?
I remember a day when the only time you got a long distance phone call was when someone died. I remember my mother writing actual letters to her mother and news would take a week to arrive. I remember my mother using the saying “You never know what goes on behind closed doors.” I remember when there was only one phone in the house and it hung on the kitchen wall. There was no privacy and you better not have phone calls from friends at meal time because that was when everyone gathered at the table and the tv stayed off until you had finished your vegetables and helped clear the dishes. There was only one tv and it was in the living room. The entire family watched it together and on Sunday nights we kids would get to have snacks in the living room and watch Walt Disney. There was no concern over shows (or commercials) being too adult.
When my kids were growing up, we had one computer and it sat in the living room. There was no privacy. Their first phones were tracphones that I bought minutes for. They were strictly for using to call me to come pick them up after band and debate trips. They had no internet or cameras. We owned a set of encyclopedias. We made trips to the public library. I recorded RugRats and Winnie the Pooh cartoons on our vcr so they could watch them over and over.
Now it seems that most of us really do live in glass houses. I have a blog, I am on Facebook, Linkdin, Pinterest, and so many other sites that it takes a spreadsheet to keep track of my passwords. Even when the family is together, we all have our phones, laptops, tablets, and any discussion or argument is rapidly solved with Google. If I want to learn how to do something, I watch a video on Youtube or TedTalks. I used to keep a list of books that I wanted to read and would almost always wait for them to come out in paperback unless I borrowed them from the library.
I remember a time when there was no such thing as a camera in the hall at school. Now it is commonplace. As a student I made sure that I never got in trouble at school (or at least did not get caught) because a call home would have been disaster. I would have been in double trouble. Once for whatever I did and again for the fact that I embarrassed the family in public. Now it seems that the only person not held responsible for behavior is the individual acting.
I tend to think of the past as static. Things were this way or that way and for a period of time and then they changed. I am no longer certain of this perception. It seems as though things have been in a state of change for years and now I question whether it has always been like that and I just did not notice the changes happening, or if things really are changing faster and faster. There seems to be no chance to just stop and catch our breath and wonder about where we are going and if the changes are positive.
Cory Doctorow’s book Little Brother, shows the dark side of what can happen when government abuses the lack of privacy that we have voluntarily embraced. I am not at the point where I would close my Facebook account and withdraw from the internet, but I am starting to wonder if we are asking the right questions. How much sharing is too much sharing? Will there be a cost and what will it be? The days of hiding one’s youthful indiscretions are gone. There is now a record of everything and often we have created ourselves with our selflies and checkins and lists of what we ate for supper. I lead a mundane life and cannot see the government being interested in what recipe I shared or the fact that I searched for the best way to construct a plot. But, if someone wanted to, they could follow my footprints. The could see that I drove to this city on this day, stopped and got gas and a snack, shopped here, ate lunch there. There are probably photos of some of it since security cameras have become commonplace.
We as a culture, never seem to slow down on the path and question what might be lurking over the next hill. Science creates ways to grow more vegetables and we end up with hormones in our food. Research figures out a way to cure a disease and the possible side effects seem worse than the original illness. Like guinea hens we run en masse after whatever newest, latest, discovery.
I witness it repeatedly on Facebook. One person will post something and before the end of the day I will see that same post spread, often without thought of accuracy. We wear our politics and religion like badges and leave our cyber trash behind us. We repeat what we read, share and “like” and comment. How many posts on Facebook every day are disrespectful of the President of the United States? What if tomorrow there was an attempt on the President’s life and the government decided to question anyone who had made negative statements? What if a non-Christian country invaded and decided to round up anyone who professed to be Christian.
I am not saying that it is wrong to speak your mind or that we should live in fear that what we say will be used against us. I am saying that we take so much for granted. The possibility does exist and maybe we should be making less statements and asking more questions.
If you are interested in reading Little Brother you can download it from Mr. Doctorow’s site. He sells his books but also makes them available for free in various formats.
It can be found here: http://craphound.com/littlebrother/
“Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.
It is a complete operating system designed to be used from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card independently of the computer’s original operating system. It is Free Software and based on Debian GNU/Linux.
Tails comes with several built-in applications pre-configured with security in mind: web browser, instant messaging client, email client, office suite, image and sound editor, etc.”
To read about, download and/or use Tails – https://tails.boum.org/index.en.html
I have been cleared for surgery. Wednesday at 2 P.M. they will operate and add metal plates and screws to my foot. I have had very little pain considering I have a broken bone. I suspect that will all change Wednesday. I have to admit, I am a major chicken. And baby. As in whiny, pitiful baby. The very idea of metal plates and screws makes me cringe.
Nothing to eat or drink all day either. Blech.
Hopefully I will be in a bit better frame of mind the next day. The worst will be behind me and I will be enthroned on the couch where I shall remain with foot elevated for three days. I am hoping for very good pain meds. And ice cream. I am already stocked up. There are two gallons of Breyers Waffle Cone ice cream in the freezer. My kindle is stocked up too. I plan to sleep, eat, and read. Aside from the whole plate and screws part, sounds like a vacation 🙂