Reaching for Daylight

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Why…

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble” (2 Corinthians 1:34).

At some point in time in every human beings life on the Earth, we lose someone special to us. We experience sickness. We have some sort of personal battle that occurs. This leaves us to question why? Our lives are wrought with tribulations, trials that test us to the point of no return. 

I am no different of course. I have been asking why for several months now. 

I lost my job at the last of December, due to health issues that resulted in my attendance not being what it should have been, with Dr. and specialists appointments as well as my symptoms it was a pretty enevitable outcome. 

With a loss of income  comes financial difficulties and with someone that has a chronic illness loss of health insurance is even worse than the latter. 

Why? Why has this been happening to me since I was twenty-five? Why did I get every bad gene in our families gene pool? Why does it seem that I’m not able to be happy for five minutes without some major catastrophic health event knocking me back to the line to punt over and over and over again? 

Why? Why? Why? 

I believe this is known as a pity party and I have had the front row seat of mine for about four months now. As I prepare to fight this illness for my life yet again.  I have been asking why…A lot. Then I came across the scripture I quoted at the top of this post. 

Now I don’t know what you believe or don’t believe, as a matter of fact I have a few Facebook friends that i know don’t believe at all. I can say this beyond a shadow of a doubt, I have known God’s comfort and mercy. I have witnessed God’s miracles first hand in my own life as well as others. God is truth and comfort and healing. Satan lies and is a master manipulater. He is the one that forsakes you, not God. He is the one that is the voice in your head saying there is no God, if there were you wouldn’t be sick, you wouldn’t have lost loved ones, your marriage wouldn’t have fallen apart and all the infinite numbers of lies he tells everyone every day. 

The last line of this scripture was God’s answer to my why question. The first part was the reason why. 

…So that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble.

My life experiences, which are many, but not as many as some, my purpose on this planet…Is to comfort. 

Ding! Ding! Ding! Lightbulb.

My God given talent for listening without speaking, empathy, sympathy, writing, standing up for the underdog or what’s not always popular opinion. That is why. Because without everything I have been through, my personal experiences.  I wouldn’t have any of these qualities. 

In closing, let me make it perfectly clear that if your looking for perfection you need not look in my direction. I am a saved sinner.   I believe Jesus Christ came… was tested… was tempted… was humiliated,tormented, and crusified and on the third day he rose to save us all. I believe this with all my heart. But still, I doubt…I fail his love for me…I can be a very disobedient less than perfect child. But I try…And everyday I ask his forgiveness for my shortcomings and his guidance to overcome.

And with every setting of the sun and with every morning sunrise there is a new chance for me to live up to the love God has for us all. 

Blessings to you all and keep reaching for the light.

 

 

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It’s All in My Head…

Tomorrow, well today actually since it’s 3:22 am, I have a CT scan and a thinner slice MRI scheduled to get me ready for my radiation treatments. 

A little history; I have fought this chronic illness since age 25.  My body likes to try to kill me from time to time. 

It began with a dermoid cyst that grew to the size of a cantaloupe during my 5th month of pregnancy with my second child. The cyst was so large it was crowding the baby and had torsed (cut off) blood supply to my left ovary and fallopian tube, the pain I still remember, emergency surgery was required to remove the cyst, ovary, and tube, I then carried second child to term, a healthy baby boy.  My Ryan, now 22, a blessing and gift from God.

At age 33, I started having strange headaches, peripheral vision issues, and lactation letdown an MRI was ordered and found a large macroadenoma.

 A mammogram was ordered because of the lactation with no rise in prolactin levels. I had a large benign tumor close to my chest wall that was removed. 

Then,  I had transpenoidial surgery to remove the macroadenoma, during this surgery I had a cerebral spinal fluid leak, the surgery was supposed to take 4 hours it took 8 hours. I had no short term memory function for over 6 months afterward. 

At 38 yrs. old, I had an emergency historectomy, I was hemorrhaging, from a huge fibroid spiral cyst outside and bigger than my uterous. I received a blood transfusion for the loss of blood. 

That brings us to present day, 47 yrs. old, my pituitary macroadenoma is back. I’m not a surgery candidate because of scar tissue and complications during previous surgery….So radiation, 5 weeks/5 days a week. This is in hopes that the tumor will shrink, it will take 6 months- to years for this to occur. I will need to have MRIs every six months and see an Endocrinologist every six months as well. My pituitary gland, a pea sized gland at the center of everyone’s brain located behind the eyes and nose will cease to function.

 I have found not many people know what a pituitary gland is, along with your hypothalamus it is the master controller for your entire endocrine system. Sex hormones, adrenaline, cortisol, growth hormone, pancreous, heart, liver, kidneys all require specific hormone levels to function completely and normal. Without those, organs fail and you die. 

Oh! I forgot to mention I have three tumors on my thyroid so I’m also hypothyroid and already take replacement for that. 

I have organic anxiety and depression disorders also, in short… I am a hot mess. 

This chronic illness has cost me jobs, relationships, and of course my health. But…I soldier on, I choose to reach for the daylight and believe that coming soon it’s within my grasp. I adjust my sails to each new normal. I’m thankful for each new day and overjoyed when it’s a good one. I’m grateful for family and friends and most of all my husband that understand while I may look perfectly normal on the outside there is a war raging on the inside. Love and light to all, keep reaching for the light.

 

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Prisoner

I wish I had an answer for the pain I’m in. I’d run away but there I’d be again. I wish I had a key for the lock and chain, I’ve tried a few…None of them ever fit. 

So in my self imposed cell I sit, to think and reflect on the choices I’ve made. A prisoner of grand design, to serve a life sentence of my own mind.

Angela Rakes – Reaching for Daylight

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Best part of waking up…

Fill it to the top

Overflowing, steamy, aromatic goodness.

Stimulating, daybreaking, eye-opening.

Breathe it deeply in, share a cuppa with a friend. 

Would you have ever imagined such a magical thing could be had brewing water over beans.

Coffee.

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My home

Today I thought I’d share some things about the town I call home.  I am originally from Kentucky, the bluegrass state.  A town situated along side of the Ohio River, it’s a tristate area and one can be in Ohio or West Virginia in a matter of minutes. I lived in Kentucky most of my life, my family is there, and I raised two sons there. 

Three years ago during an extremely stressful time on my life, I met a man from West Virginia. My second marriage was ending and I was just existing day to day on some sort of strange auto pilot. My soon to be ex-husband… bless him… Had already moved on with his life.

This man that I met is now my husband of two years. He has lived in West Virginia his whole life, he grew up poor, worked everyday at farm chores and not just his parents work but surrounding neighbors as well. He is definitely the most sincere man I have ever met. 

I never knew this town existed. It’s a very small town population 1100, and that’s hard to believe, they must have counted someone’s chickens.  There are no stop lights. Speed limit is a painful 25 mph and you better do just that because law enforcement doesn’t have much else to do. 

We have two grocers, SAV-a-Lot and the Piggly Wiggly, where everyone knows your name and you not only get groceries but all the town gossip as well. This surprised me when I first landed here, folks just don’t do that where I’m from. I lived in the same neighborhood for over 12 yrs and only knew the people behind me. I would say this is the town time forgot but we also have a McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, even  a Mexican restaurant. 

Children still play outside here, tag, hide and go seek etc. I would guess there are about fifteen to twenty kids in this neighborhood ages 4- 18. They get off the bus in the evening and if it’s a nice day they are all out playing. The whole neighborhood watches them and last summer I bought frozen pops for them. 

The town has a surprising amount of festivals here and the whole town attends them, last year Aaron Tipton was here for July 4th and the fireworks were fabulous. 

Jehovah’s witnesses actually do well here, people are bored and don’t get out much. I should say they do well everywhere but our home…My Husband is the son of a Church of Christ minister, he knows the Bible and can quote book, chapter, and verse. I envy his passion for the word of God as well as his knowledge and understanding of it. As with all small southern towns there are plenty of churches and denominations to go around. 

We don’t have cable tv, we have an antenna with about twenty channels. I am very blessed in that my husband is not a sports fan, he watches zero sports. We spend evenings talking to one another and he plays guitar very very well. 

The home we live in is paid for, no mortgage, but we are in a constant state of remodel.  The home was built in the 1800, kind of a craftsman/farmhouse style and needs a lot of work. It sits on a large lot with very old trees  and our red heeler Hondo has the run of the place. 

There is a good sized state park that’s about 3 minutes from home. There is a gun range, fishing, kyacking, and it is very beautiful in summer. 

Some of my friends often comment to me that moving here must have been quite a culture shock.   After I got over the initial shock of total strangers treating me like I’ve lived here my whole life, neighbors that actually know you by name and come to visit, sometimes they borrow sugar and etc. A nice elderly couple live next door and if I feel up to making dinner we fix them a plate and take it over. A front porch swing to watch the sunset or sunrise. Where you can hear yourself think or peepers or birds. Deer that walk down the street on summer evenings making their way to the apple trees out back. It’s slow and easy here. So l guess it is a culture shock…But a good one. 💖

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For My Husband

He came into my life quickly…

No passion burning, but just like an old old friend with an outstretched hand.

A soft and tender male voice in my ear

At the time nothing in life was very clear.

He offered a shoulder for me to lay my head.

We spent countless nights just in silence

While he stroked my hair.

He knew what it felt like to love and to lose and he held me tight.

Softly letting me know it would be worth the fight.

He was willing to search for the woman within and wait patiently for her to decide to live again.

Angela Rakes-Reaching for Daylight

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The Crematorium…



I kept an appointment with a neurosurgeon yesterday that had been scheduled for a couple of months. I arrived dutifully a little early to complete paperwork. As I’m parking my car I can’t help but notice a mortuary situated directly in front of the building I am to enter. I chuckle because that is just my personality, I tend to be able to find humor in most situations. 

I enter the building and find his suite. I scan the large waiting area for the sign in window. I notice the color choices, which are unfortunate. A weird salmony peach and green and carpeting …Which everyone knows is not sanitary. I sign the clipboard and make my way to the least congested area of the waiting room and sit on one of the unfortunate green chairs, which is also about as comfortable as a cement block. 

My eyes scan around the room and I chuckle again. There are framed pictures of urns all around the waiting area…Every size, shape, and design of urns. I take a picture of the artwork and decor and of course post it to Facebook immediately, to share my humor and horror with friends and family. 

While I’m posting about the office decor a smiling woman calls my name.  Happily I leave my concrete green block and follow. The usual vitals are obtained and I’m placed in a small stark white room with two chairs closely resembling laundry mat chairs and an exam table. The artwork in here is slightly improved, an impressionistic watercolor with a fall scene. 

Keep in mind this is my first visit to this Dr.   Allow me to explain something about neurosurgeons and neurologists. I have been to more than a few, they are all assholes. Seriously, arrogant, no sense of humor, no emotion…Asshats.

Now, this is probably due to the fact you have to be smarter than the average person, spend 14 years of your life being educated. But they all are smug fellows.

While I’m waiting I hear the Dr. Talking into his recorder after seeing other patients. I can hear the doors open, then close, then I here him dictating his plan into the recorder. My first thought is geez this is a hippa nightmare. 

So finally, my turn. He enters, very poor posture, wearing a suit that is very unstructured and too big in my honest opinion, he gives me the Dr. Handshake, quick and firm, he has a bad combover and looks to be 396 yrs. Old. He sits and immediately starts discussing my history, my tumor, and how it’s not operable and on and on without a break to breathe. I wonder how someone his age has that much lung capacity. I finally get to participate breifly in this exchange long enough to let him know I am very knowledgeable about my condition, and have been through surgery before. Now, I can’t make this up…He says, “oh so you know a lot about this tumor and your disorder.”  Yes, I reply. ” Did you Google it?” He asks. What is your profession? He’s rapidly shuffling papers and making marks on them. I think great… I have offended the great and powerful Oz. He looks at me over his glasses with that ridiculous combover waiting for a reply. I simply said, “Some Google, some library…I tend to research and read about things happening to my body.”  Plus I’ve lived it, your not the only neurosurgeon I’ve ever met. 

A pause…I’m smiling sweetly, because another trait of mine is that I too…When absolutely needed…Be an asshole, only I will do it so nicely most folks don’t know what hit them. I start talking now rapidly because he is trying to overtalk me, another trait that grinds my gears. I tell him the only reason I’m at this appointment is to see if the tumor is operatible, I have already met with a radiologist/oncologist. His turn to respond, he starts telling me all about the surgery, how it’s done. Now, I’ve told him twice that I’ve had this surgery before. So without thinking, I say, I know all about it….I you tubed it. 😂

He walks me to the window, I’m thinking…Even if this tumor was operative and if your fingers were made of gold…You would not touch me…Ever. 

So should any neuros’ read my post. I respect your education, and your large brains…But don’t try to match witts with a menopausal, veteran of surgery, Google using, library going, educated woman. And…P.S. quit being assholes

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I Passed the Test

When I die don’t mourn my passing,

Instead remember the times we spent laughing. Remember how I loved to watch the rain. Don’t think of the sadness or remember the pain. Remember me lifting my face to the warm sunshine. Counting the stars on a clear starry night. 

How I loved and forgave, and found good in difficult days. I loved the feel of the ground under my feet. I loved butterfly’s landing softly on my hand, and long summer nights without any end. 

I will remain and go on with each beautiful sunrise at the dawn. With each spectacular sunset before you rest, I am smiling….I lived, I loved, I passed the test.

Angela Rakes-Reaching for Daylight

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Lake Vesuvius

Skipping Stones and Rippling Memories
Some of my best memories of childhood live here, it is a peaceful place with a forest of stately mature oak trees and reach to the sky pines. I spent steamy summer days playing on the dam. My brother and I would climb to the top, lay down and log roll all the way to the bottom, giggling all the way, only to jump up and race back to the top, over and over again. 

There is a creek that winds its way through to the lake destination. The creek is alive with shimmering minnows that dart and scramble under rocks to elude capture. Crawdads, big and fat from feasting on the minnows also live under the rocks lying in wait to pinch little prying fingers. Paper cups in hand, my brother and I would relocate as many crawdads as we could find to their new temporary cup home. When we tired of catching minnows and crawdads, we would find the perfect smooth worn rock to skip across the creek. Then the contests would begin to see how far and how many skips we could coax out of one perfect stone. The creek led up to the spillway of the dam, if there had been a lot of rain it made for the most spectacular waterfall we had ever seen.  The sound of the turbulent water spilling over reverberated in our ears and was loud enough to muffle our childhood voices. 

In the meadow between the creek and the dam, wildflowers of every sort bloomed in great quantities and making a daisy crown was an easy task (even though I don’t think you were supposed to pick the flowers). My brother and I would gather them to make glorious crowns to wear on our heads.  This was also a perfect spot to lie back and stare dreamily up at the brilliant blue sky with luminous feathery clouds floating by leisurely in a sort of lasseiz-faire parade. Rabbits, turtles, frogs, and all manner of wildlife shared our playground and with its twelve hundred acres there was plenty of room for everyone. 

During every visit, my mother, would spread a large worn quilt under a shady tree; kick off her shoes to quickly occupy the space reading a book. In my minds eye I still see her there, reading peacefully, legs crossed Indian style, and her long hair turning blazingly golden as the sunlight dappling through the trees illuminated it.  Her tranquility was frequently broken by calls from us to look at some new treasure we had discovered in the creek, usually a big piece of green or purple glass that my brother and I called volcanic rock. Some of the treasures were transported home to serve as doorstops for our room or take their place of honor in our rock collections. 

When we tired of playing in the creek, our mother would almost always have to leave her spot to retrieve us from the Mayan temple across the road.  The temple, according to the large sign in front of it, is an antiquated sandstone blast furnace built in 1833, but at the time it was the Mayan temple that my brother and I would attempt scaling given even the slightest opportunity. I was happy to offer him up as sacrifice to the Gods on more than one occasion.  Our mother would glance from her book to notice we were missing from the creek or field and make her way across the road to retrieve us giving strong reprimands, a swat on our behinds, and then threaten to take us home. She steered us firmly to her quilt and required that we sit and think about our behavior. I am famous in family circles for my quote on one such occasion, you can make me sit, but you can’t make me think. 

Lunch time inevitably came, Mom would pull our sandwiches or cold chicken from the well worn woven basket and we would feast. As a special treat we would have a Nehi to wash it down with, always grape or orange.  Grape was my favorite. Soda bottles were glass then and I swear the soda tasted colder and better than it does now. Why is it food always tastes better outside? This thinking may not be true for everyone but I think everything has a sharper, clearer taste outside. 

After our picnic lunch mom would put her shoes back on. At that time she always wore Minnetonka moccasins, the short kind with the fringe around the ankle.  They were well loved and reportedly just like going barefoot. She would then find a large stick suitable for walking and take the lead on our afternoon expedition on one of the hiking trails. Imagining we were the historic Indians of the area my brother and I always gained the lead scrambling up hills and climbing rocks. I, being older would be a good distance ahead of my brother and “ambush” him from my hiding spot behind one of the large rocks. One of us always ended up with a scraped knee or elbow which our mother treated with her trusty first aid kit in her pack. The trees were old, anciently old and on either side of the trail the tops had grown to meet each other like they were playing a game of London Bridge. The sounds of the forest were all around, water running, tree branches popping, and ground squirrels scurrying, more often than naught you could see a rabbit or a squirrel that was brave enough to show itself with all the raucous we were making.   I have wonderful memories of the aromatic smelling blanket of leaves and pine needles under my feet on the trail and the softness of the green moss covering the rock that we would sit on to rest. We talked about everything on those walks, the history of the area, what the names of the trees were and each name of wildflowers discovered. This was where I learned the all important life lesson, leaves of three let it be.  My mother was a wealth of information when it came to history and nature and either knew the answer to our never-ending questions or would tell us that we could look it up when we got home. Some of the structures along the trails were cave-like or actual caves; this is where my brother and I would practice our best yodeling to hear our echoes. 

We spent a good deal of our summers here, swimming in the lake, attending family reunions or doing the activities I have recalled. As an adult I learned our frequent trips were to avoid our father killing us because he worked midnights and this was our mother’s way of keeping us from disturbing his sleep while we were on summer vacation from school.

I visit Lake Vesuvius often to this day. It has changed over the years with improvements to make it more visitors friendly. The stately pines leading the way to the park still remain and my body sighs and relaxes almost immediately when I reach that winding part of the entrance. I enjoy walking the now paved trail to the rock overhang and can spend hours there with a book or lost in deep thought. I primitive camped there several times when my boys were small and we had the same great adventures of my childhood.  Sadly, I have come to know that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for this beautiful place, graffiti on the rocks and picnic shelters is a growing problem and careless hikers often leave behind their trash. 

This lake has served as my therapist for many years. It is my go-to place for solitude and deep thinking. It is a beautiful example of nature in a world otherwise bothered by non-stop noise and ugliness. When I see young families there it evokes all the precious memories I have of the many summer days I spent skipping rocks, rolling in the grass, and getting bitten by chiggers. In my young adulthood days I hiked probably over half… if not all of the park and only got lost once, well not lost, temporarily directionally impaired, but it was scary being unsure of which way to take to get back to the road when dusk starts settling in at the end of the day. Cell phones don’t work well there, too many thick trees, which I think is a good thing. I remember a time when everyone didn’t know where you were every minute of the day and a phone wasn’t ringing constantly; it was a good time. 

I believe Lake Vesuvius is where my mothers spirit lives, her young spirit, the one from the time in her life when she was still vibrant with dreams of the future. The time before the world picked her up and slammed her down to reality, the time before the cancer won.

If there is a God,and I do believe there is, I believe he lives here as one of his summer homes. Surely he is very proud of the handy work he accomplished at Lake Vesuvius. It’s probably were he goes to get away from all the demands of his job, the never ending prayers, the comforting during times of disaster, all traded in for quiet streams and wind whispering leaves. He is probably neighbors with my mom.  I bet they skip rocks or take walks around the shore of the lake. At the end of the day I’d say they eat cold chicken or cold cut sandwiches in picnic style on mom’s old quilt under that big oak tree a perfect spot watch the purples, oranges, and streaks of scarlet appear in the vast sky just before twilight.

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What is calling to you?


What is your purpose? What drives you? What is your passion? Some may think this is the same question asked three different ways, but they are three very different areas of your life.

My purpose for instance has changed and shifted over the years, it is ever evolving with one constant, a child of God. 

In my childhood my purpose was to obey parents, soak up knowledge like a sponge, and be a happy child at play. 

In my adolescent years my purpose was to drive my parents to insanity, get good grades, and develop into a useful contributing adult. 

 In my young adult years my purpose was to find myself, spread my wings, discover the secrets of the mysterious adult world. 

As an adult I raised two boys, worked endlessly, struggled to keep up, loved and lost…But mostly loved.

And here I am today, I guess I would be considered middle-aged, or almost. It’s early on so I’m still figuring out my purpose for the decades to follow. I’ve slowed down a bit and no longer value stuff not that I ever did much. I have grandchildren that I love dearly and see as the future. Work for me right now is over due to illness. It was always a big part of who I was throughout my life. So I am finding ways to fill that, like writing, and art as well.

Drive is pretty straight forward, it’s what wakes you up everyday. It’s that goal that you set that nothing or no one is going to keep you from reaching.

Passion is the one or multiple things you do that if everything changed tomorrow and all you had left was your passion, you’d be perfectly happy and content. It’s what makes your blood pump, your heartbeat, the very essence of joy in your life. 

So tell me what is your purpose? Your drive and your passion?

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